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Darwin Correspondence Project

To George Busk   4 December [1864]1

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

Dec 4

My dear Busk

I thank you sincerely for your most kind letter2 which I should have answered at once but I have been more unwell than usual for the last few days.

I did not know before receiving your note that I was indebted to you for proposing me for the Copley medal.3 I have just seen in the Reader Sabine’s splendid eulogium on my work in Nat. History;4 I do not know who helped him but strongly suspect that I owe a good deal of the praise to you—5

You will remember that you were so kind as to advise me a year & a half ago about my incessant sickness.6 I have got over this, but still keep very weak & fear I shall ever remain so.7

Believe me my dear Busk with cordial thanks for your kindness | yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. I do not know whether it is improper, but I have written to Sabine to express the pleasure which his eulogium has given me, but I added that I shd. of course have liked a little more said about the “Origin”, but that he could say only what he thought true; I then added a few sentences sticking up for the truth of the general principles of the “Origin”.—8


The year is established by the reference to the Copley Medal and to the letter from George Busk, 1 December 1864.
Letter from George Busk, 1 December 1864.
Busk nominated CD for the Copley Medal at the meeting of the Royal Society of London on 23 June 1864; Hugh Falconer seconded the nomination (Royal Society, Council minutes, 23 June 1864).
CD refers to the version of Edward Sabine’s anniversary address to the Royal Society printed in the Reader, 3 December 1864, pp. 708–9 (see letter from Hugh Falconer, 2 December 1864 and nn. 1–3).
No record of any contribution by Busk to Sabine’s address has been found. See letter from T. H. Huxley to J. D. Hooker, 3 December 1864, n. 5.
See Correspondence vol. 11, letter from George Busk, [c. 27 August 1863]. Busk diagnosed that CD was suffering from the stomach ailment water-brash. He prescribed various treatments, and advised CD to consult a specialist.
CD had been in poor health during the second half of 1863 and the early months of 1864 (see letter to Asa Gray, 25 February [1864] and n. 2, letter to J. D. Hooker, [15 May 1864], and letter from W. D. Fox, 28 November [1864], n. 3).


Thanks GB for proposing him for Copley Medal; suspects he is responsible for the praise in Sabine’s "splendid eulogy" on his work. Has, however, written to Sabine to say he would have liked a little more said about the Origin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Busk
Sent from
Source of text
Smithsonian Institution Libraries (Dibner Library of History of Science and Technology: MSS 405A)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4696,” accessed on 21 May 2018,

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