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Letter 660

Darwin, C. R. to Henslow, J. S.

[22 Jan 1843]

    Summary Add

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    Comments on JSH's botanical work with his parishioners. Lyell will be pleased that he has done some fossil botanical work.

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    Describes a Geological Society meeting about Edward Charlesworth's complaints.


Down Bromley | Kent

Sunday Morning

My dear Henslow

I have to thank you for a “muckalereous” newspaper, as well as your letter & two sermons— As far as I have read in the latter, it appears to me full of most wise advice, & & I shall finish it this evening.— Your fears about the dunghill made us laugh— I shd like to know, who your bigoted mathematical friend is, who sneers so severely on Leibig & Co.— Your lectures must do good, I shd think, in stirring up all the farmers; but as for hoping to get tabulated results from them, if you succeed you will either prove yourself a magician or that your Suffolk farmers are very different from the Shropshire ones, whom I have been accustomed to.—

Lyell & co will be delighted to hear of your having actually finished some fossil Botanical work.— I have heard many a groan over you & your pursuits; & the worst of it is, that your pursuits are so evidently excellent, that one cannot have the pleasure of abusing you. I hope indeed, you will find leisure from your weightier occupations to go on with your fossil work, & I must put in a word for poor Galapagos plants—remember the regret Humboldt expressed that you had not published some sketch of them; whenever you do I shall be very curious to know, what sort of relation the Flora bears to that of S. America. I am getting on with my second very thin part on “Volcanic Islds”.— My coral-volume has sold tolerably according to my views, & has received its quant: suff: of praise. I wrote to you after the first day's display by Mr Charslworth; & the second had the same result— I never saw any man, to use a theatrical expression, so utterly damned. His whole case broke down, & the Council came off triumphant, being blamed by several (unknown to us) speakers, for having been too kind & considerate to him— The Council did not even acknowledge his latter letters, & of this he made heavy complaint,—so he was requested to read aloud his own letter to the Council in which he calls your informant a liar &c—& Murchison told him with a sweet little smile that that was our reason for not acknowledging his letters— This answer the Soc: approved of by acclamation. The absurdest part, was, that a requisition signed by between 20 & 30 men was brought forward to change a law, & it is required by bye-laws, that to make such change, five of the requisitionist, shd show they were present: Whether they were or not I do not know, but it was long before even one wd rise, & three members of the Council were obliged to second the proposal, in order that the discussion might be brought on— So completely cowed & ashamed were Mr Ch. advocates, <I> am told (I know not whether truly) that Ch. has given up controversy & science (synonymous in his eyes) & has gone to Edinburgh to study medicine.—

Farewell, I wonder, whether we shall ever see you in this house— I heartily hope we may.—

Pray remember me very kindly to Mrs Henslow & believe me Ever yours | C. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 660.f1
    Henslow was then writing a series of newspaper articles on scientific methods of fertilisation. These were collected in Henslow 1843a.
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    f2 660.f2
    Justus von Liebig was well known for his theories of agricultural chemistry.
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    f3 660.f3
    Henslow had organised the farmers near Hadleigh to conduct fertiliser experiments (Jenyns 1862, pp. 77–82).
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    f4 660.f4
    See letter from Alexander von Humboldt, 18 September 1839.
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    f5 660.f5
    The work was eventually done by Joseph Dalton Hooker (J. D. Hooker 1845 and 1846).
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    f6 660.f6
    Henslow had initially been a supporter of Edward Charlesworth (see letter to Charles Lyell, [5 and 7 October 1842]). The meeting described is evidently that of 14 December 1842 (see letter to W. H. Miller, [16 October–27 November 1842], n. 4).
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