Quaker responses to Darwin

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Cantor, G. (2001)
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press

[FIRST PARAGRAPH] In his seminal work Darwin and the General Reader (1958), Alvar Ellegird surveyed the British periodical press over the period 1859 to 1872 in order\ud to discover how Darwin's theory had been received in a hundred publications reflecting a wide range of social, religious, and political opinion. He paid attention\ud both to the amount of space devoted to Darwinian topics and also to each periodical's stance with respect to such issues as the theory of natural selection and the naturalistic account of the formation of humankind. In each case he summarized his findings using a numerical scale. Among the journals he examined were two Quaker periodicals- the Friend and the Friends' Quarterly Examiner-from which he concluded that Quakers paid little attention to Darwin's theory and that the few references that appeared were generally antagonistic to the new theory. The quotations Ellegird selected confirmed this judgment: for example, in characterizing the Friend as anti-Darwinian he cited an 1861 entry in which a reviewer regretted the large number of converts to Darwinism, exclaiming, "Alas, their name is legion." Despite the somewhat higher scores achieved by the Friends' Quarterly Examiner, Ellegird did not adequately distinguish between these two periodicals, which reflected significantly\ud different sections within the British Quaker community. Rather surprisingly, he also lumped Quakers with Congregationalists, Baptists, and certain other dissenting\ud groups that appear to have responded similarly to Darwin's theory but shared little of religious significance with Quakers. In contrast to these denominations, Unitarians\ud scored higher but Methodists were lower still on Elleglrd's scale.
  • References (15)
    15 references, page 1 of 2

    ' - Chalmers quoted in Joseph John Gurney. Renlini.tcences oJ'Ckcl1nler.s. Sirneo~l.Wilberforce. &c. (n.p..n.d.).p. 37. On Chalmers' attitude to science see D. Cairns. "Thomas Chalmers's Astronomical Discourses: A Study in Natural Theology." Scottish J. Theology 9 (1956):410-21; Crosbie Smith, '.From Design to Dis5olution: Thomas Chalmers' Debt to John Robison." Brit. J. Hist. Sci. 12 ( 1 979):.iC)-70.

    ' Fi.ic,riti 1 1861 ): 10. On Tallack see Allnu01 Motritor ( 1909):142-7, and F. A. Knight. A Histot? of .Sitl,.of Sc.i~oolA: Hur~drrdk.trr.v of' West Count? Qucl!ier Education. 1808-1918 (London: Dent. 10081. pp. 1 15-1 6.

    " Frederick Cooper. The Crisis in Mtrnchcster Meeting. With rr Revielt of the Prtiriphlets of Drri~id Dur~c.crntrnd Joseph B. For~ter(Manchester. U.K.: Williarn Irwin. 1869): Isichei, L7ictoricrnQurrkers (cit. n. 4). pp. 27 and 61-5.

    " [George Stewardson Rrady]. Lamen siccunl: An Ex.st7y 011tht, Exercise of the Infeilect i r ~lkftrtters n/'Rcli,qiou.sBeliqf: Adtfre.s.\.eil to Mcnlhers ofthe Society of Friunds (London: F. Bowyer Kitto. 1868). This work does not appear to have been reviened in either the Friend or the Briti.rl7 Frierlil.

    "' RmInt.~".Moderates" (cit. n. 4).

    '" [Francis Frith, William Pollard. and William Edward Turner]. A Rea.sontrhle Faifh: Short Erstr\.s for fhe Timer, 2nd ed. (London: Macmillan. 1885).p. 98.

    Edward Worsdell, The Gospe/ o f Dil'it~eHelp (London: Harris. 1886). p. 8.

    " George Stewardson Brady. "The Modern Spirit in the Study of Nature." FQE 20 (1886):63-84.

    "' John E. Littleboy. " A History of Birds.'' FQE 20 i1886):423-39. See also pp. 417-1 8.

    ~tleriloirq f W . H . Harr'e!; M.D., ER.S. (London: Bell and Daldy, 1869). pp. 337-38; idem. ilri I n y u i n into rlw Pmbcrble Origin c!f'rl~eHrinlarz Aniirlal, on rhe I'riwcijtles o f Mr. Drrnvirl:~Theon. c?f i\'citurcrl Selection, and in Opposirictn to the krnlarc,kian iV(trion of'a Monkex Parentage (Dublin: n.p.. 1860). See also F. Burkhardt. S. Smith et a].. eds.. The Car-re.~/~orlderzce (fCharles I>ar~t,irz(Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. 1985-). vol. 8. pp. 327-35 and 415-21. (Cited hereafter as Corresllor;derzce. )

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