[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1751.]
To Sidney Colvin
[Colvin 1912, pp. 225-227]
[Skerryvore, Bournemouth, Early February 1887]
My dear Colvin,
I read Huxley, and a lot of it with great interest.
Eh […], what a gulf between a man with a mind like Huxley and a man […] like Cotter Morison.
Truly ‘t is the book of a boy […]; before I was twenty I was done with all these considerations.
Nor is there one happy phrase, except “the devastating flood of children.”
Why should he din our ears with languid repetitions of the very first ideas and facts that a bright lad gets hold of; and how can a man be so destitute of historical perspective, so full of cheap outworn generalisations — feudal ages, time of suffering — pas tant qu’aujourdhui, M. Cotter!
Christianity — which? what? how? You must not attack all forms, from Calvin
to St. Thomas,
from St. Thomas to (one who should surely be considered) Jesus Christ,
with the same missiles: they do not all tell against all […]. But there it is, as we said; a man joins a sect, and becomes […] one-eyed […].
[…] He affects […] a horror of vices which are just the thing to stop his “devastating flood of babies,” and just the thing above all to keep the vicious from procreating. Where, then, is the ground of this horror in any intelligent Servant of Humanity? O, beware of creeds and anticreeds, sects and anti-sects. There is but one truth, outside science, the truth that comes of an earnest, smiling survey of mankind “from China to Peru,”
or further, and from to-day to the days of Probably Arboreal;
and the truth (however true it is) that robs you of sympathy with any form of thought or trait of man, is false for you, and heretical, and heretico-plastic. Hear Morison struggling with his chains; hear me, hear all of us, when we suffer our creeds or anti-creeds to degenerate towards the whine, and begin to hate our neighbours, or our ancestors, like ourselves. And yet in Morison, too, as in St. Thomas, as in Rutherford,
ay, or in Peden,
truth struggles, or it would not so deform them. The man has not a devil; it is an angel that tears and blinds him. But Morison’s is an old, almost a venerable seraph, with whom I dealt before I was twenty, and had done before I was twenty-five. [..]
Behold how the voices of dead preachers speak hollowly (and lengthily) within me! — Yours ever — and rather better — not much,