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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. W. Child   6 May [1868]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

May 6.

Dear Sir

As I am not a professed botanist I do not feel myself entitled to give a testimonial in regard to your fitness for occupying the Botanical chair at Oxford.2 But I have pleasure in saying that your Essays have given me a favourable idea of your capacity & of your love for science.3

Your experimental researches on the Production of Organisms in closed vessels, published by the Royal Society, seem to have been performed with much care, & are in my opinion valuable, whatever result may be finally arrived at in this difficult question.4

Believe me dear Sir | yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin

To Dr G. W. Child


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from G. W. Child, 3 May [1868].
See letter from G. W. Child, 3 May [1868], and letter to G. W. Child, [6 May 1868].
CD refers to Child’s Essays on physiological subjects (Child 1868a). CD’s lightly annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–Down. The essays were privately published at the beginning of 1868, but were published commercially later in the year (Child 1868b).
Child had published two papers on spontaneous generation in the Proceedings of the Royal Society: ‘Experimental researches on spontaneous generation’ (Child 1864), and ‘Further experiments on the production of organisms in closed vessels’ (Child 1865).


Child, Gilbert William. 1864. Experimental researches on spontaneous generation. [Read 16 June 1864.] Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 13: 313–14.

Child, Gilbert William. 1865. Further experiments on the production of organisms in closed vessels. [Read 27 April 1865.] Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 14: 178–86.


Cannot judge GWC’s fitness for the Botanical Chair at Oxford. But CD appreciates his work, particularly that on spontaneous generation [Proc. R. Soc. Lond. 13 (1863–4): 313; 14 (1865): 178].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Gilbert William Child
Sent from
Source of text
Royal College of Physicians of London (RCP/LEGAC/1001/64)
Physical description
3pp & AdraftS 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6162,” accessed on 24 October 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16