[Sir Richard Owen, palaeontologist, opponent of Darwin's theory; Giant Moa.] Autograph Draft part lecture, re. 'the power of God' and 'study of the Scripture', vs 'men' 'gone astray'. WITH Autograph Description of Plates concerning Great Moa

Author: 
Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892), biologist, palaeontologist, comparative anatomist, first Director of Natural History Museum, opponent of the theory of evolution of Charles Darwin
Publication details: 
Undated, but composed for a lecture delivered before the Young Men's Christian Association, at Exeter Hall, London, 17 November 1863.
£1,250.00
SKU: 23317

An important artefact: a folio page carrying an Autograph Rough Draft of the central passage of a lecture in which Owen – four years after the publication of Darwin's 'Origin of Species' – defends the theistic view of evolution. One of two folio pages in Owen's autograph on the same leaf, the other page carrying the beginning of the description of plates in Owen's 'Memoir on the skull and scapular arch of the Dinornis Robustus [Giant Moa]'. 2pp, folio. On the two sides of a leaf of aged and worn paper, with fraying and chipping at head and foot. Folded twice. ONE: The rough draft from the lecture, which was published twice under the title 'Instances of the Power of God as Manifested in His Animal Creation': the earlier undated version by James Nisbet & Co., London, the later version by Longmans in 1864. Around thirty lines of text, all scored through by Owen, with deletions, emendations and interpolations. The present draft begins '& much of the Power of the Creator, as may be elucidated', and ends (with deletions in square brackets): 'Here therefore, again we see [how sure is the Word of the Lord]: how [essential] requisite it is, [very,] for the avoidance of error, that a knowledge of the Power should be combined with the study [knowledge] of the Scripture. | Not but that for all that is essential to the right life here & to [salvation] the future life to come, Scripture alone sufficieth: the eternal principles are plainly told. Christ condescends to the humblest intellect: the plough-man may understand that which will make him wise unto salvation as clearly as [:at [?] utterances transcending the just [?] of the greatest] the philosopher.' The draft is very close to the published version of the passage, but with emendations and deletions indicating Owen's working practices and thought processes. As published on pp.32-33 of the Nisbet printing, the passage containing the material in the draft reads as follows: 'A Copernicus, a Newton, a Cuvier, - is not an accident. Ought we not to acknowledge a gracious purpose in the [p.33] making known according to the ways, and by the instruments He now chooses, so much of His Power as may be elucidated by interpreters of the records in the stony rocks? | Call to mind the speculations in which some good men have indulged and gone astray on prelapsarian paradisaical conditions; such as, “the lion lying down with the lamb,” and even being of like peaceful herbivorous habits. Hear the truth! Not only has death ever followed life in pre-Adamitic plant and beast, but also, and commonly, death by violence. Of old, and aeons ere so high a creation as man trod the earth, it was a scene of conflict and carnage. The evidence abounds of mutilation and wounds, and the healing of wounds and fractures, in the old fossil animals. | For the variety, the beauty, the polish, the sharpness, the strength, the barbed perfection, the effectiveness in every way, of lethal weapons, no armoury can compete with that of the fossil world. | Nor are the instruments of defence less remarkable: the spines of thousands of the more peaceful fishes that were the prey of the fiercer sorts – both alike extinct, - these icthyodoralites, as they are termed, alone require a book for themselves for adequate illustration in our Palaeontological records. | Here, therefore, we see again how needful it is, for the avoidance of error, that a knowledge of the Power should be combined with the study of the Scripture. | Not but that, for all that is essential to the right life here and the life to come, Scripture alone sufficeth: the eternal truths are plainly told. Christ condescends to the humblest intellect; the ploughman may understand that which will make him wise unto salvation as clearly as the philosopher.' TWO: Autograph List headed 'Description of the Plates', giving captions of eleven figures relating to three plates. 1p, folio. Paginated by Owen '50'. These correspond to Plates LXII (6 Figures), LXIII (4 Figures) and 'Fig. 1' of Plate LXIV, on p.171 of 'Memoir on the skull and scapular arch of the Dinornis Robustus' (i.e. the South Island Giant Moa), as reprinted in 'Memoirs of the Extinct Wingless Birds of New Zealand'. That volume, which was published by J. Van Voorst in 1879, was a compilation of papers in what Owen's entry in the Oxford DNB describes as 'his long-continued series of works on the extinct mammals of Australia'. The original date of the Giant Moa 'Memoir' is unclear, but presumably it appeared around the same time as the 1863 lecture. The present list of plates as published in 1879 adds to this manuscript the explanation that in Fig. 2 of Plate LXII the dentary are figured too far in advance, 'in order to show the articular grooves'.