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Darwin Correspondence Project

From C. L. Balch   [after 15 April 1871]1

398—9th. Avenue, New York, U.S.

My dear Sir:—

Your very kind and highly appreciated letter was duly received.2 I gave the photographs to Mr. Mc Donald and at his studio yesterday he informed me that he would begin at once.3 He is an ardent Darwinian. He purposes making a marble bust for the Club, and either bronze or plaster to distribute through the States. One will be sent to you for your criticism, and that of your personal friends. Mr. Mc. Donald ranks very high among American sculptors, and we all expect him to produce a work worthy his illustrious subject, and his own reputation. It is my pleasure and honour to inform that at a regular meeting of our Club last Friday evening you were unanimously elected an honourary member thereof.4 Will you not, honoured Sir, (if you can command the leisure), in your letter of acceptance, please address a few words of advice as to the Method for those who desire to make a beginning in biological studies, (not the Spencerian method, which I believe to be without much experimental, personal-experimental basis) but a practical Method for biological beginners.5 For example, I have a vacation of 3 months this summer and I desire to spend it in the fields and on the sea-shore, working practically & not bookishly. There are many young Americans like myself in this category full of zeal but almost without a guide. If too you would be so good as to recommend books for our Library it would be highly appreciated. I am preparing a paper contra Mivart for the Club.6

Believe me with sentiments of profound respect and gratitude | Your obedient servant | Charles Balch. | recently elected | Corresponding Secretary | N.Y. Liberal Club.7

Charles Darwin F.R.S. et.c


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to C. L. Balch, 15 April 1871.
See letter to C. L. Balch, 15 April 1871. There is no evidence that a bust of CD was completed by James Wilson Alexander MacDonald.
Balch refers to the New York Liberal Club; see letter to C. L. Balch, 15 April 1871.
Herbert Spencer devised a scheme for a synthesis of scientific knowledge based on the principles of evolution; he completed volumes on biology, psychology, sociology, and ethics (Spencer 1864–7; Blackburn ed. 2008, s.v. Spencer, Herbert). No letter to Balch or to the New York Liberal Club on this subject has been found.
Balch refers to St George Jackson Mivart and presumably to his Genesis of species (Mivart 1871a and 1871b). Balch may refer to a paper he read to the New York Liberal Club on 1 December 1871 (New York Times, 2 December 1871, p. 8).
Balch had been elected corresponding secretary of the New York Liberal Club on 14 April 1871 (New York Times, 15 April 1871, p. 8).


CD’s photographs have been sent to [J. W. A.] McDonald, the sculptor, who will make a marble bust for the Liberal Club of New York and a bronze or plaster one for sale; CD will receive a copy. CD has been elected an Honorary Member of the Club, and

CB asks whether he could give them a few words of advice on a practical method of biological study for beginners.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Leland Balch
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
New York
Source of text
DAR 160: 20
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7408,” accessed on 24 August 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19