News of his activities in recent months, of mutual Edinburgh acquaintances, and the Plinian Society.
JC has given up natural history for a time to prepare himself better for medical practice.
My dear Darwin
I confess I was rather illpleased to receive your letter in place of yourself, as I had
been looking for your arrival in Edinburgh every day for some weeks before;
During the winter, I have been almost entirely engaged in practice, and have persevered in my abjuration of Zoology, with a few reservations in favor of walks along the Seashore & occasional visits to the Black rocks. I found these localities, abounding in so many interesting associations, and offering an ever varying succession of animals, to be more powerfully alluring even than the Jardin des Plantes. Perhaps there is no real occasion for the greif which you express, in imagining that I have entirely forsworn Natural History: I am still ready to agree with you in the sentiment `that no pursuit is more becoming for a physician than Nat: Hist:' and I feel myself as much, if not more, inclined than ever, to look into the World of Nature around me, but I feel, that as I must soon enter upon the public & the responsible discharge of the duties of my profession, I owe it as a duty of the highest importance, both to others & to myself, to make up as perfectly as possible, the deficiencies in useful knowledge which, I have too good reason to fear, my devotion to science (unprofitable as it has been) has occasioned. You may depend upon this, at least, that ``the good old Cause of Zoology'' is not slighted by me; and of course, still less so, the friends in whose company I formerly prosecuted it.—
Glasspoole left Paris in May with the intention of going
through Switzerland & Germany: I heard of his being in London in September; when
I believe D
Be so good as write me again soon, and tell me something of the present state of Natural History in Cambridge. Have you had any opportunity of studying marine Zoology since you left this?—
With every affectionate wish I remain, | My Dear Darwin, | Yours most truly | John Coldstream *S 2
- f1 58.f1CD's fellow medical student and friend at the University of Edinburgh. In the Autobiography, p. 48, CD describes him as `prim, formal, highly religious and most kind-hearted: he afterwards published some good zoological articles [for Todd's Cyclopaedia of anatomy and physiology ].' He proposed CD for membership of the Plinian Society (see n. 5 below).
- f2 58.f2In a notebook in which CD recorded observations during the spring of 1827 there is the following entry: `Observed with M
r. Coldstream at the black rocks at Leith an Asterias rubens' (DAR 118, p. 12).
- f3 58.f3Frederick Bream Glasspoole.
- f4 58.f4Robert Edmond Grant, CD's close associate and mentor in zoology at Edinburgh (see Jespersen 1948--9 and Autobiography, pp. 49, 51). In an article published in July 1827, on `the ova of the Pontobdella muricata' Grant gave CD credit for being the first to identify them: `The merit of having first ascertained them [the ova] to belong to that animal is due to my zealous young friend Mr Charles Darwin of Shrewsbury, who kindly presented me with specimens of the ova exhibiting the animal in different stages of maturity' (Grant 1827; Darwin Library--CUL: `Philosophical tracts'). This was the first scientific discovery by CD to be reported in print, though CD was not the first to make it (see Ashworth 1935: 105--6).
- f5 58.f5The Plinian Natural History Society was founded in 1823 by Robert Jameson. Ashworth 1935 has a detailed account of the Society. For mention of CD's reports to it, see the letter to Caroline Darwin, 6 January 1826, n. 5.
- f6 58.f6William Alexander Francis Browne.
- f7 58.f7In December 1826 Ritchie successfully opposed the election of Georges Cuvier and Johann Friedrich Blumenbach to honorary membership of the Plinian Society (Gruber and Barrett 1974, p. 39).
- f8 58.f8René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur. The Bombyx larva is described in Réaumur 1734--42, 1: 172, pl. V.
- f9 58.f9Fleming 1828 (Darwin Library--CUL).
- f10 58.f10Stark 1828.
- f11 58.f11No publication with this title has been located.