Attack on Charles Darwin which Darwin read with pleasure

Rorison, G.

The three barriers: notes on Mr. Darwin's Origin of species.

Published 1861
Item ID 65742

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Edinburgh and London, Blackwood & Sons, 1861. 8vo (19.0 x 12.4 cm). 180 pp.; several text engravings. Publisher's blind-tooled cloth. Gilt title on the spine.

Few works have had as much impact on the intellectual world as Darwin's On the Origin of Species. The work was too important to be ignored and many writers, scholars, and intellectuals tried to fathom its meaning and add their own two cents. The Scottish author Gilbert Rorison (1821-1869) was one of them. Educated at Glasgow University, and minister in the Scottish Episcopal Church, he is best known for his “Hymns and Anthems adjusted to the Church Services throughout the Christian Year”, first published in 1851. He should, however, not be dismissed as just one of the many opponents of Darwin whose views were solely based on biblical scripture. In this work he gives a fair account of the geology and palaeontology of Scotland. More importantly, he received the help of Darwin's most powerful opponent, Richard Owen. Darwin, however, remained sceptical, and even saw the humour of it. In a letter to Thomas Huxley he wrote: "In a little Book, just published, called the Three Barriers (a theological hash of old abuse of me) Owen gives to the Author a new resume of his Brain doctrine & I thought you would like to hear of this. He ends with a delightful sentence. ‘No science affords more scope or easier ground for the caviller & controversialist; & these do good by preventing scholars from giving more force to generalisations than the master propounding them does, or meant his readers or hearers to give’. You will blush with pleasure to hear that you are of some use to the Master." Old owner's signature and tiny pictorial bookshop label on the front pastedown, tiny bookbinder's label on the rear pastedown, spine and boards partly sunned, otherwise a very good, clean copy. Cat. BM(NH) pp. 423 (under Darwin!), 1729.

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