Greenland, Stephen
Autograph Letter Signed, New York, November 24, 1845, to Rev. [Joseph] Ransom, Westford, Otsego County, New York

quarto, 1 page, plus stamp less address leaf, formerly folded, in very good, clean, and legible condition.

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“…I must beg your kind forgiveness for my apparent neglect of your kindness, many times I have laid out in my mind the outline of a letter to you but alas imperative business during the day and excessive fatigue in the evening have prevented it…I read with pleasure your protest against the infidelity of the "Vestiges of Creation". I will send you the Review you write if you will point out the move by which I can send it.

When you write again I wish you would tell me what you think of the manner in which the Author of the "Kingdom of Christ" meets the Quaker and Socinian heresy, in mere conversations with them it is difficult to deal with them seeing they both fly off from Scripture Standard…”

Greenland was not historically notable, but the few references I can find suggest that he was an Englishman working in New York, possibly as American editor of a British religious periodical. (He was later financial editor of a periodical in New Orleans). Rev. Ransom was also, apparently, a transplanted Englishman who had come to New York via Canada, at first officiating at a church west of Albany, where he became close friends with James Fennimore Cooper, whom he strongly defended in the author’s libel suit against journalist Park Benjamin.

It’s apparent that both Greenland and Ransom were orthodox Anglicans, perturbed by “heresies” and critical of Englishman Frederick Maurice’s “Kingdom of Christ”, which held that the church should be a united body that transcended the diversity and prejudices of individuals, factions, and sets. But the most important comment in Greenland’s letter is about the book “Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation”, originally published anonymously in England in 1844, and just reprinted in New York at the start of 1845. Greenland and Ransom undoubtedly considered this the work of “infidels”. But the book is significant because it was read appreciatively by a still-unknown Charles Darwin, who like other scientists, was amused by its scholarly deficiencies, but was probably impressed that it “brought together various ideas of stellar evolution with the progressive transmutation of species in an accessible narrative which tied together numerous scientific theories of the age.” There is speculation that the antagonism which the book aroused among clergymen like Ransom was one reason that Darwin was so reluctant, fourteen years later, to publish his own momentous “Origin of Species.”