To Edward Sabine 31 January 
Down Farnborough Kent
My dear Sir
I must consider the request you make me as a very high compliment,1 but several reasons lead me to wish to decline it. In the first place (& this alone would suffice) I should not do it at all well, for I have no particular taste for criticism or for attempting biography; & I should not, consequently, do it with gusto. Moreover I could not conscientiously rank Von Buch so high as the world at large does, though certainly some of his descriptions are models in that line; & this would make the task, even if easy in itself, very difficult for me, & disagreeable to anyone holding my opinions.— I am, also, a slow worker, & have heaps of my own half-worked out materials; & I think I should do better by plodding on in my own line, than by attempting a quite new field of literature & the History of a Branch of Science.—
I fear I must have wearied you with the superfluity of my reasons for not most willingly accepting that which in the eyes of many, I do not doubt, would be considered as a high priviledge.
Pray forgive me & believe me | Your’s very sincerely | C. Darwin
Declines the honour of writing a biography of Leopold von Buch, on grounds that he would not do it well; nor does he hold Buch so high as the world at large does.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1550,” accessed on 6 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1550