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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Hugh Falconer   8 November [1864]1


Nov. 8

My dear Falconer

Your remark on the relation of the award of the medal and the present outburst of bigotry had not occurred to me.2 It seems very true, and makes me the more gratified to receive it: General Sabine wrote to me and asked me to attend at the anniversary;3 but I told him it was really impossible.4 I have never been able to conjecture the cause; but I find that on my good days, when I can write for a couple of hours, that anything which stirs me up like talking for half or even quarter of an hour, generally quite prostrates me, sometimes even for a long time afterwards. I believe attending the anniversary would possibly make me seriously ill. I should enjoy attending and shaking you and a few of my other friends by the hand, but it would be folly even if I did not break down at the time. I told Sabine that I did not know who had proposed and seconded me for the medal,5 but that I presumed it was you, or Hooker6 or Busk, and that I felt sure, if you attended, you would receive the medal for me;7 and that if none of you attended that Lyell or Huxley8 would receive it for me. Will you receive it and it could be left at my Brothers.9

Again accept my cordial and enduring thanks for all your kindness and sympathy and believe me my good friend | Yours most truly | Ch. Darwin

Do not trouble yourself to answer this


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Hugh Falconer, 7 November [1864].
The letter to Edward Sabine communicating this information has not been found.
George Busk had nominated CD for the Copley Medal; Falconer had seconded the nomination (Royal Society, Council minutes, 23 June 1864; see also Appendix IV). CD’s letter to Sabine has not been found.
Joseph Dalton Hooker was also a member of the Council of the Royal Society of London in 1864 (Royal Society, Council minutes).
Busk received the medal for CD at the anniversary meeting of the Royal Society on 30 November 1864 (see Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 13 (1864): 510).
CD refers to Charles Lyell and Thomas Henry Huxley.
Erasmus Alvey Darwin lived at 6 Queen Anne Street, London (Post Office London directory 1865). See letter from E. A. Darwin, 1 December 1864.


Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.


Gratified to receive Copley Medal. Cannot attend anniversary [of Royal Society]. Would HF receive medal for him?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Hugh Falconer
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 144: 36
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4664,” accessed on 11 December 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12