Letter icon
Letter 7149

Cobbe, F. P. to Darwin, C. R.

28 Mar [1870?]


Pleased to have encouraged CD to look at Kant.


March 28th

Dear Mr. Darwin,

I feel very proud of having inveigled you into “looking through” Kant—f2Though I cannot quite say, like one of his disciples, “God said:Let there be Light, & there was—the Kantian Philosophy”yet I have retained for these twenty years a most lively sense ofgratitude to him for helping me to find (or think I found) a steppingstone or two in the Slough of Despondf3

I more than suspect you of a smile in your beard when you writeof him as “a great philosopher looking exclusive into his own mind”—But surely may I not argue that, after all, his mind, & that of anotherphilosopher I could name are things not wholly undeserving ofattention,— phenomena quite as much needing to be studied & accountedfor, say, as even our beloved dogs? We poor humble learners whowould fain be the most docile of your scholars, see one of you drivingcomplacently down the “high priori road”, & the other with infinite skillprogressing on the solid causeway of material facts— But are you nevergoing to unite your lines of thought & let us see how metaphysics & physicsform one great philosophy?—

Pray forgive dear Mr Darwin, my infinite impudence! Though I attendedon Saturday a most successful Woman’s Rights Meetingf4 I am of opinionthat our Ancient privilege of talking nonsense even to those we mostdeeply honour, is one not to be parted with on any terms!—

I enclose a little notice embodying what I thought the point of those“Cut pages” of Despine—f5 Do not think of acknowledging this or returningthat

Most truly your’s | Frances Power Cobbe

DAR 161: 186



The year is conjectured from the relationship between this letterand the letter to F. P. Cobbe, 23 March [1870?].
Cobbe refers to Immanuel Kant. See letter to F. P. Cobbe, 23 March[1870?] and n. 2.
The disciple of Kant was Carl Ludwig Fernow (Schaub 1925,p. 13). The quotation as given by Cobbe also appeared in an article onGerman theology in the Christian Observer (1855): 449. Cobbe had beeninspired by Kant’s Metaphysics of ethics (Kant 1836) to write herfirst book, The theory of intuitive morals ([Cobbe] 1855–7). Cobbewrote the book late at night and published it anonymously to avoidoffending her father, who held traditional religious views (ODNB).
The meeting was held in Hanover Square on 26 March 1870 andreported in the Times, 29 March 1870, p. 9. John Stuart Mill andJohn Morley attended; none of the women present were named in thereport.
Cobbe probably refers to Despine 1868; see letter to F. P. Cobbe,23 March [1870?] and n. 2.
Maximized viewPrint letter