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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Darwin   [after 2 December 1875]1

Pantlludw, | Machynlleth.

Dear Father

Many thanks for making me F.L.S— I hope there are no red hot pokers & skulls & crossbones at the admittal2

I am sorry to see that they are very dawdling about publishing Zoolog: Papers.3

Thank you for the Natures4   I like seeing them very much

Dyer has sent me some Erineum which doesn’t look very hopeful for studying spiral movements, it looks like a mere crustlike lichen growing on a leaf; he doesn’t seem to know much about it but quotes from the Micrograph: Dict that it was thought to be a fungus, but is really an abnormal growth of the epidermis of the trees on which it is parasitic.5 Dyer says his life has been a complete scrimmage, & he is just rushing off to examine at Cambridge. When I wrote to thank him I said I was very sorry I had bothered him about the specimens just when he was so busy.

We have had splendid skating here, going on by moon light one night till 8.30. We had no snow so it is a delightful clean dry thaw— I and Arthur had a jolly walk yesterday up to the Quarry & saw them loading waggons with the slates Mr Ruck is selling, he gets about £20 profit from 3 waggon loads; we went through the levels   there are about 400 yds of them.6

I hope you are all prospering. | Yrs affec | Frank Darwin

Amy sends her love7


The date is established by the reference to Francis Darwin’s election as a fellow of the Linnean Society (see n. 2, below).
Francis Darwin was elected a fellow of the Linnean Society on 2 December 1875 (Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London (1875–6): ii). The president of the society formally admitted newly elected fellows to the society at one of the meetings.
From 1857, the Linnean Society had published separate botanical and zoological journals; by 1876, the botanical journal was being published more regularly than the zoological journal. Volume 12 of the zoological journal covered the period 1873–6.
Francis refers to copies of the periodical Nature.
Erineum is a pathological growth of the epidermis of plants; it was thought to be a fungus until the cause was discovered to be mites (OED). William Turner Thiselton-Dyer quoted from the Micrographic dictionary (Griffith and Henfrey 1856, p. 243). Francis’s interest in spiral movements might relate to his study of the twisting mechanism by which some seeds can bury themselves in the ground (F. Darwin 1876c).
Francis was staying in Pantlludw, Wales, the home of his parents-in-law. Arthur Ashley Ruck was his brother-in-law; Lawrence Ruck, his father-in-law, evidently had a slate quarry on his property.
Amy Richenda Darwin was Francis’s wife.


OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


Sends thanks for CD’s help in making him a Fellow of the Linnean Society. Dyer has sent some Erinem.

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 274.1: 33

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10287G,” accessed on 8 August 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23