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Letter 7306

Darwin, C. R. to Cobbe, F. P.

20 Aug [1870]


CD writes for Emma, who is ill.

Delighted with FPC’s “most just” article [in Echo?]. Sends £1 subscription.

Thanks for telling CD about the Fraser’s Magazine article [F. W. Farrar, "Hereditary genius (by F. Galton)", n.s. 2 (1870): 251–65].

CD wrote as Justice of Peace for Kent to the Home Secretary about Holder’s case.

Tropaeolum transmits every shade of colour if self-fertilised for six or seven generations.


Bassett | Southampton

Aug 20th

My dear Miss Cobbe

My wife is rather poorly & so I write for her.f2 We are both quitedelighted with your admirable & most just article. You editorshave more power with your strong right arms than the Knights of old,in righting the oppressed.— Will you be so kind as to put my name downfor 1£, or—(whichever you think best) my name for 10s & my wife for10s.f3

(Charles Darwin of Down Beckenham Kent)

You & Miss Lloydf4 need not have your faith in inheritance shaken, withrespect to Tropæolum, until you have prevented for 6 or 7 generations anycrossing between the vars in same garden. I have lately proved that everyshade of colour is transmitted by the most fluctuating garden var. ifthe flowers are carefully self-fertilised during 6 or 7 generations.—f5

Thank you for telling me about the articles in Fraser, of which I shouldnot probably have heard.f6

Pray give my very kind compliments to Miss Lloyd: I hope the dear oldwhite cob in Wales is well.—f7 Pray believe me Yours very sincerelyobliged | Ch. Darwin

I forgot to say that I wrote as J.P: for Kent to Home Secretary,calling his attention to Holder’s case.—f8

The Huntington Library (CB 385)



The year is established by the reference to the case of StephenHolder. On 14 August 1870, Holder was sentenced to two months’ hardlabour by Bromley magistrates’ court for taking part in an illegal gamblinggame of pitch and toss on Sunday 13 August (Bromley Telegraph, 20 August 1870; Randal Keynes and Richard Milner, personal communication.)
There is no reference to illness in Emma Darwin’sdiary (DAR 242).
Cobbe had published a leading article in the Echo on 18 August 1870denouncing the sentence given to Holder. On 25 August, the Echopublished a letter purporting to be from CD: Sir,– | I have read your admirable and most just article on“Even-handed Justice,” and beg to say that if anyone who sympathiseswith the case be disposed to open a subscription for the benefit ofStephen Holder, I should be happy to contribute to it £1.– | I am,Sir, yours &c. | Charles Darwin | Down, Beckenham, Kent.Emma Darwin wrote to Henrietta Emma Darwin that CD thought thepublication of the letter ‘unjustifiable’ and had been depressed todiscover that Holder had been in prison before (DAR 219.9:91). Henrietta later wrote that this was Cobbe’s own reworking ofCD’s letter to her, published in this form without his consent(Emma Darwin (1915), 2: 302). The original article did not announcethe setting up of asubscription fund; Cobbe may have suggested one in amissing letter to CD.
Mary Charlotte Lloyd.
CD published his observations on the relative effect on colour ofcross and self-fertilisation in a number of plant species in Crossand self fertilisation, pp. 307–11. Although primarily interestedin the relative effects on size and health, he had made notes on thecolour of the seventh generation of self-fertilised plants ofIpomæa purpurea in 1869 (DAR 78: 89).
CD refers to the literary journal Fraser’s Magazine. Thearticles have not been identified.
Lloyd had lent CD a pony when she, Cobbe, and the Darwins had beenstaying near one another in Caerdeon, Wales, in July 1869 (seeCorrespondence vol. 17, letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 July [1869] andn. 3).
No letter from CD to the home secretary, Henry Austin Bruce, hasbeen found. Only one letter on the Holder case is noted inthe Register of papers received by the Home Office; this wasreceived on 19 August 1870 but is no longer extant. CD was active as amagistrate in Bromley between 1859 and 1862. (RandalKeynes and Richard Milner, personal communication.)
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