Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Voices from the Past: James Grant (1878)

There is nothing more delightful than coming across a reference to a fishing tackle maker in an unexpected place. In my “other job” as a history professor I try to keep up on recent research. A fairly recent book I picked up called Gwen Raverat: Friends, Family and Affections by Frances Spalding had been on my reading list for some time, as I waited for my recovered hard drive to boot I decided to read it. Raverat was the granddaughter of Charles Darwin and an active member of the Bloomsbury Group, as well as being a fine writer and artist in her own right. It’s a great biography enhanced by the fact on Page 9 we get this reference:

In 1878 James Grant, a fishing tackle maker, wrote to [Charles Darwin], wanting to know whether or not his discoveries had destroyed the evidence for God, as found in nature’s phenomena. Darwin’s reply is lost; but from Grant’s subsequent letter it is evident that Darwin had replied in a “kindly spirit” with a solution that neither upheld nor destroyed his correspondent’s beliefs but encouraged independent thought. “I do not feel,” Grant replied sadly, “that I can plan any reliance upon instinct or intuition in relation to the existence of God.”

Grant was one of the legendary Spey rod builders and, as the ad below from the book Grantown and the Adjacent Country: A Guide to Strathspey (1895) shows, active in all aspects of the tackle field. That he was an inquisitive and intelligent man goes without saying.

— Dr. Todd

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