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Letter 3689

Darwin, C. R. to Wallace, A. R.

20 Aug [1862]

    Summary Add

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    Family illnesses.

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    On disposition of wild honeycomb gift.

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    Discounts the difficulty presented by ostrich wings.


1. Carlton Terrace | Southampton

Aug. 20th

My dear Mr Wallace

You will not be surprised that I have been slow in answering, when I tell you that my poor [boy] became frightfully worse after you were at Down; & that during our journey to Bournemouth he had a slight relapse here & my wife took the Scarlet Fever rather severely. She is over the crisis. I have had a horrid time of it & God only knows when we shall be all safe at home again. Half my Family are at Bournemouth.—

I have given a piece of the comb from Timor to a Mr Woodbury, (who is working at subject) & he extremely interested by it (I was sure the specimen would be valuable) & has requested me to ascertain whether the Bee (A. testacea) is domesticated & when it makes it combs? Will you kindly inform me?

Your remarks on ostriches have interested me, & I have alluded to case in 3d. Edition.— The difficulty does not seem to me so great as to you.— Think of Bustards which inhabit wide open plains, & which so seldom take flight: a very little increase in size of body would make them incapable of flight.— The idea of ostriches acquiring flight is worthy of Westwood; think of the food required in these inhabitants of the Desert to work the Pectoral muscles! In the Rhea the wings seem of considerable service in the first start & in turning. The distribution & whole case of these birds is, however, very interesting: considering their apparently real affinities to mammals, I have sometimes speculated whether we do not here get an obscure glimpse of

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 3689.f1
    See letter from A. R. Wallace, 8 August 1862. Wallace's visit to Down House is not recorded in either Emma Darwin's diary (DAR 242) or CD's `Journal' (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II). However, Wallace later recalled: `Soon after I returned home, in the summer of 1862, Mr. Darwin invited me to come to Down for a night, where I had the great pleasure of seeing him in his quiet home, and in the midst of his family' (Wallace 1905, 2: 1). This visit probably took place in late June or early July 1862: Leonard Darwin became ill with scarlet fever in June (see letter to W. E. Darwin, 13 [June 1862]), and suffered a relapse early in July (see Emma Darwin's diary (DAR 242), and letter to W. E. Darwin, 9 July [1862]).
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    f2 3689.f2
    According to Emma Darwin's diary (DAR 242), the Darwins travelled to Southampton on 13 August 1862; she recorded that on the same date, she became ill with scarlet fever.
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    f3 3689.f3
    During the latter part of Leonard's illness, the other Darwin children had been sent away with their former nurse, Brodie, who was at Down at the time (Emma Darwin 2: 178; see also letter to W. E. Darwin, 4 [July 1862] and n. 8). The family had planned to be reunited in Southampton, before moving on to Bournemouth for a holiday (see the letter from Emma Darwin to William Erasmus Darwin, [9 August 1862], in DAR 219.1: 61). As a result of Emma Darwin's illness, however, the children were apparently sent on to Bournemouth, and were joined by the rest of the family on 1 September (see `Journal' (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II), and Emma Darwin 2: 178).
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    f4 3689.f4
    See letter from T. W. Woodbury, 9 August 1862.
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    f5 3689.f5
    See letter from A. R. Wallace, 8 August 1862. CD's remarks appear in Origin 3d ed., pp. 151--2.
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    f6 3689.f6
    CD refers to John Obadiah Westwood (see letter from A. R. Wallace, 8 August 1862 and n. 4).
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