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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John George Children   22 February [1838]1

36 Grt. Marlbro’ St

Dear Sir

During the last six months, I have had occasion several times to consult the collection of Birds in the British Museum.—2 With respect to the subject of your letter, I have much pleasure in informing you, that Mr George Gray has uniformly acted towards me with courtesy.3

He not only has always opened as many cases, as I required with readiness, but has likewise repeatedly given me much useful information, often suggesting books of reference and other means by which I could obtain a knowledge of the subject I had in view.—4

I have the pleasure to remain | Dear Sir | Very faithfully yours | Chas. Darwin

February 22d.—


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. G. Children, 21 February 1838 (Correspondence vol. 7, Supplement).
In late 1837, CD was working on a scheme for the publication of Zoology; Zoology included a volume on birds (see Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II; see also Correspondence vol. 2, letter to John Gould, [February 1838]). CD made extensive use of the ornithological collections of the British Museum (Brandon-Jones 1996).
CD refers to Children’s letter of 21 February 1838 (Correspondence vol. 7, Supplement), in which he requested a character reference for George Robert Gray. Gray was Children’s assistant in the zoology department of the museum, and had been the subject of a complaint by Edward Blyth, who was then preparing the sections on mammals, birds, and reptiles for a new edition of Georges Cuvier’s Animal kingdom (Cuvier 1840).
CD’s opinion of Gray’s good character was one of fifteen responses to Children’s enquiry into Blyth’s accusation of Gray for gross incivility and discourtesy. The background to this episode is described in Brandon-Jones 1996.


Testifies to the courtesy and helpfulness of George Gray [assistant at the British Museum]. [See 402b.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John George Children
Sent from
London, Gt Marlborough St, 36
Source of text
British Museum (Officers’ Reports 20 (1838): 5314)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 402F,” accessed on 17 July 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13 (Supplement)