More Letters of Charles Darwin Volume I

by the Classic British Author

Charles Darwin

Free Public Domain Book from the
Classic Literature Library

More Letters of Charles Darwin Volume I Page 01


All biographical footnotes appear at the end of Volume II.

All other notes by Charles Darwin's editors appear in the text, in brackets () with a Chapter/Note or Letter/Note number.









"You will never know how much I owe to you for your constant kindness and encouragement"



The "Life and Letters of Charles Darwin" was published in 1887. Since that date, through the kindness of various correspondents, additional letters have been received; among them may be mentioned those written by Mr. Darwin to Mr. Belt, Lady Derby, Hugh Falconer, Mr. Francis Galton, Huxley, Lyell, Mr. John Morley, Max Muller, Owen, Lord Playfair, John Scott, Thwaites, Sir William Turner, John Jenner Weir. But the material for our work consisted in chief part of a mass of letters which, for want of space or for other reasons, were not printed in the "Life and Letters." We would draw particular attention to the correspondence with Sir Joseph Hooker. To him Mr. Darwin wrote with complete freedom, and this has given something of a personal charm to the most technical of his letters. There is also much correspondence, hardly inferior in biographical interest, with Sir Charles Lyell, Fritz Muller, Mr. Huxley, and Mr. Wallace. From this unused material we have been able to compile an almost complete record of Mr. Darwin's work in a series of letters now published for the first time. We have, however, in a few instances, repeated paragraphs, or in one or two cases whole letters, from the "Life and Letters," where such repetition seemed necessary for the sake of clearness or continuity.

Our two volumes contain practically all the matter that it now seems desirable to publish. But at some future time others may find interesting data in what remains unprinted; this is certainly true of a short series of letters dealing with the Cirripedes, which are omitted solely for want of space. (Preface/1. Those addressed to the late Albany Hancock have already appeared in the "Transactions of the Tyneside Nat. Field Club," VIII., page 250.)

We are fortunate in being permitted, by Sir Joseph Hooker and by Mr. Wallace, to publish certain letters from them to Mr. Darwin. We have also been able to give a few letters from Sir Charles Lyell, Hugh Falconer, Edward Forbes, Dr. Asa Gray, Professor Hyatt, Fritz Muller, Mr. Francis Galton, and Sir T. Lauder Brunton. To the two last named, also to Mrs. Lyell (the biographer of Sir Charles), Mrs. Asa Gray and Mrs. Hyatt, we desire to express our grateful acknowledgments.

The present volumes have been prepared, so as to give as full an idea as possible of the course of Mr. Darwin's work. The volumes therefore necessarily contain many letters of a highly technical character, but none, we hope, which are not essentially interesting. With a view to saving space, we have confined ourselves to elucidating the letters by full annotations, and have for the same reason--though with some regret--omitted in most cases the beginnings and endings of the letters. For the main facts of Mr. Darwin's life, we refer our readers to the abstract of his private Diary, given in the present volume.

Mr. Darwin generally wrote his letters when he was tired or hurried, and this often led to the omission of words. We have usually inserted the articles, and this without any indication of their absence in the originals. Where there seemed any possibility of producing an alteration of meaning (and in many cases where there is no such possibility) we have placed the introduced words in square brackets. We may say once for all that throughout the book square brackets indicate words not found in the originals. (Preface/2. Except in a few places where brackets are used to indicate passages previously published. In all such cases the meaning of the symbol is explained.) Dots indicate omissions, but many omissions are made without being so indicated.

The selection and arrangement of the letters have not been easy. Our plan has been to classify the letters according to subject--into such as deal with Evolution, Geographical Distribution, Botany, etc., and in each group to place the letters chronologically. But in several of the chapters we have adopted sectional headings, which we believe will be a help to the reader. The great difficulty lay in deciding in which of the chief groups a given letter should be placed. If the MS. had been cut up into paragraphs, there would have been no such difficulty; but we feel strongly that a letter should as far as possible be treated as a whole. We have in fact allowed this principle to interfere with an accurate classification, so that the reader will find, for instance, in the chapters on Evolution, questions considered which might equally well have come under Geographical Distribution or Geology, or questions in the chapter on Man which might have been placed under the heading Evolution. In the same way, to avoid mutilation, we have allowed references to one branch of science to remain in letters mainly concerned with another subject. For these irregularities we must ask the reader's patience, and beg him to believe that some pains have been devoted to arrangement.

Mr. Darwin, who was careful in other things, generally omitted the date in familiar correspondence, and it is often only by treating a letter as a detective studies a crime that we can make sure of its date. Fortunately, however, Sir Joseph Hooker and others of Darwin's correspondents were accustomed to add the date on which the letters were received. This sometimes leads to an inaccuracy which needs a word of explanation. Thus a letter which Mr. Darwin dated "Wednesday" might be headed by us "Wednesday [January 3rd, 1867]," the latter half being the date on which the letter was received; if it had been dated by the writer it would have been "Wednesday, January 2nd, 1867."

In thanking those friends--especially Sir Joseph Hooker and Mr. Wallace-- who have looked through some of our proof-sheets, we wish to make it clear that they are not in the smallest degree responsible for our errors or omissions; the weight of our shortcomings rests on us alone.

We desire to express our gratitude to those who have so readily supplied us with information, especially to Sir Joseph Hooker, Professor Judd, Professor Newton, Dr. Sharp, Mr. Herbert Spencer, and Mr. Wallace. And we have pleasure in mentioning Mr. H.W. Rutherford, of the University Library, to whose conscientious work as a copyist we are much indebted.

Finally, it is a pleasure to express our obligation to those who have helped us in the matter of illustrations. The portraits of Dr. Asa Gray, Mr. Huxley, Sir Charles Lyell, Mr. Romanes, are from their respective Biographies, and for permission to make use of them we have to thank Mrs. Gray, Mr. L. Huxley, Mrs. Lyell, and Mrs. Romanes, as well as the publishers of the books in question. For the reproduction of the early portrait of Mr. Darwin we are indebted to Miss Wedgwood; for the interesting portraits of Hugh Falconer and Edward Forbes we have to thank Mr. Irvine Smith, who obtained for us the negatives; these being of paper, and nearly sixty years old, rendered their reproduction a work of some difficulty. We also thank Messrs. Elliott & Fry for very kindly placing at our disposal a negative of the fine portrait, which forms the frontispiece to Volume II. For the opportunity of making facsimiles of diagrams in certain of the letters, we are once more indebted to Sir Joseph Hooker, who has most generously given the original letters to Mr. Darwin's family.

Cambridge, October, 1902.

Charles Darwin

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