Corporate Animal


Senior Member
In a letter by Charles Darwin to his friend, Charles Lyell, he expresses his opinion about Lyell's book, Travels on North America. He talks with astonishment at his boldness on discussing the clergy in the States. He says:

I am surprised throughout at your very proper boldness against the Clergy. In your University chapter the Clergy, and not the State of Education, are most severely and justly handled, and this I think is very bold, for I conceive you might crush a leaden-headed old Don, as a Don, with more safety, than touch the finger of that Corporate Animal, the Clergy.

I wonder what did Darwin mean when he described the Clergy as "Corporate Animal"? What did he want to convey by this description?
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Corporate" means a united group. Animal is of course meant figuratively. "Animal" can refer to almost anything at all, from a concept to an individual or, as here, a group of people. It usually also conveys some aspect of an animal, although exactly what aspect applies in any particular case can be difficult to determine. Here, I think Darwin wanted to say that the clergy, despite being individuals, tended to act as one, with one mind, and I suppose he was also implying that since they were numerous, they were also powerful.
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