Testifies to the courtesy and helpfulness of George Gray [assistant at the British Museum]. [See 402b.]
36 Grt. Marlbro' St
During the last six months, I have had occasion several times to consult the collection
of Birds in the British Museum.— With respect to the
subject of your letter, I have much pleasure in informing you, that M
He not only has always opened as many cases, as I required with readiness, but has likewise repeatedly given me much useful information, often suggesting books of reference and other means by which I could obtain a knowledge of the subject I had in view.—
I have the pleasure to remain | Dear Sir | Very faithfully yours | Chas. Darwin
- f1 402f.f1The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. G. Children, 21 February 1838 (Correspondence vol. 7, Supplement).
- f2 402f.f2In late 1837, CD was working on a scheme for the publication of Zoology; Zoology included a volume on birds (see Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II; see also Correspondence vol. 2, letter to John Gould, [February 1838]). CD made extensive use of the ornithological collections of the British Museum (Brandon-Jones 1996).
- f3 402f.f3CD refers to Children's letter of 21 February 1838 (Correspondence vol. 7, Supplement), in which he requested a character reference for George Robert Gray. Gray was Children's assistant in the zoology department of the museum, and had been the subject of a complaint by Edward Blyth, who was then preparing the sections on mammals, birds, and reptiles for a new edition of Georges Cuvier's Animal kingdom (Cuvier 1840).
- f4 402f.f4CD's opinion of Gray's good character was one of fifteen responses to Children's enquiry into Blyth's accusation of Gray for gross incivility and discourtesy. The background to this episode is described in Brandon-Jones 1996.