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Darwin Manuscripts : Notebook C

Darwin, Charles, 1809-1802

Darwin Manuscripts

<p>One of a series of notebooks including <a href='/view/MS-DAR-00121'>Notebook B (MS DAR 121)</a>, <a href='/view/MS-DAR-00123'>Notebook D (MS DAR 123)</a>, and <a href='/view/MS-DAR-00124'>Notebook E (MS DAR 124)</a> on transmutation of species created by Darwin following his return from the Beagle voyage in 1837. They were inspired especially by his observations of the geographical distribution of species and the affinities between extinct and currently existing animals in South America. This notebook was composed between February and July 1838.</p><p>Notebooks B and C show Darwin’s thinking before he read Thomas Malthus’s <i>Essay on the Principle of Population</i> in late September 1838, which suggested to Darwin the idea of natural selection as a mechanism for evolution, elaborated in Darwin’s <i>Sketch</i> (1842) and <i>Essay</i> (1844) outlining the argument of his <i>Origin of Species</i> (1859) The notebooks provide an extraordinary insight into Darwin’s search for the solution to what one contemporary had called ‘that mystery of mysteries’, the origin of new species. They draw on a remarkable variety of sources, from readings in philosophy, economics and literature to conversations with breeders of dogs, horses and poultry. At this time Darwin was living in central London, close to good libraries and an unparalleled range of scientific expertise.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p><p>In this notebook Darwin reformulates some of the observations in <a href='/view/MS-DAR-00121'>Notebook B</a> in terms of ‘my theory’, noting that representation of ‘the natural arrangement’ entailed the classification of relationship, or descent. Taxonomy therefore took on a new significance in terms of characterising the relatedness, succession and ending of species. Darwin investigated questions of hybridity, inheritance and the relation between habit and structure. He also considered the implication for humans of common descent with other animals and explored ideas of life, death, religion and a material world view.</p><p>A transcription of this <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>notebook</a> is available on the <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>Darwin Manuscripts Project website</a>.</p>

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