Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Attributed to Darwin

A little while back, I wondered whether Charles Darwin really said or wrote something now buzzing around the internet, graduation speeches, and various staff workshops:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

I still don't have a definitive answer, but for the record, today I received this gracious message from the UK:

Department of Manuscripts, University Library, Cambridge, 2007 July 04

Dear Dr. France,

Thank you for your e-mail of Friday June 22, to which I am replying as I have curatorial responsibility for the scientific manuscripts collections of the University Library, naturally including the papers of Charles Darwin.

I do not know of the quotation you give that is attributed to Charles Darwin though it does not in tone differ greatly to parts of the final section, "Recapitulation", of On the origin of species, 1859. I have not been able to track the quotation down, though. It could well be a 20th century 'adaptation' (to coin a phrase) as you suspect. Or could it be Thomas Henry Huxley? Just a thought.

Darwin’s texts are machine searchable at a site called The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. Go to .

Dr. John van Wyhe, the Project Director for The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online is at the University of Cambridge, Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge CB2 1RX, United Kingdom; e-mail, telephone +44 1223 760475, facsimile +44 1223 765276.

I trust this helps. With my best wishes,

Adam J. Perkins,
Curator of Scientific Manuscripts,
Department of Manuscripts and University Archives,
University Library, West Road,
Cambridge CB3 9DR, United Kingdom.


Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like a little detective task you've set for yourself. Keep us informed of your progress.

the walking man said...

I was going to say the same thing as Charles but with a bit of my usual profanity thrown in.

as an aside like I said once before you all make me feel like an uneducated boob. But I still can't find the classes I want to take for the 17 credits I need to become an associate of bachelors next to a master who became a doctor that would educate me and force me to have you all call me the walking doctor man. anyone want to put my name in for an honorary Doctorate of....fuck it anything. Give me a PhD. in long windedness, now that would work because the old lady always says i talk to much when she just wants to go.

I can see it now The Walking Man PhD. or just Dr. Man that'd be all right too. I suppose i could buy one on the internet but that'd be cheating.



TWM--college drop out

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks Charles and Mark for the comments. Dr. Man -- I like that. Your life experiences are worth their weight in gold and honors. I did once know a woman that went by Dr. Major, which reminds me of all the craziness in Catch-22 like Major Major and general disorder.