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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francis Darwin   [1 May 1876]1

[6 Queen Anne Street, London.]


My dear F

I am so vain-glorious about you, that I must tell you that we were calling yesterday at the Lewes’s, & he broke out suddenly “oh tell your son how much I was interested by his paper on the Snails heart; it was just 〈what〉 I was wanting to know; it 〈    〉 that paper”— or words 〈    〉—

〈    〉 he said I have quoted your son’s letter in Nature about Pyrotoxian (?) to a number of people.—2

We had a very pleasant call there of 34 of a hour.— I was talking about Mr Sully’s article on Wundt in “Mind” & saying how much it had interested me; when Mrs Lewes said there is Mr Sully, who was sitting close to me. I was very glad to see him. He is quite a young man & the author of a vol. of Essays.3

Yours affect | CDarwin


The date is established by the reference to CD and Emma Darwin’s visit to George Henry Lewes and his common-law wife Marian Evans, the novelist George Eliot, and by the reference to Francis’s paper on the snail’s heart (see n. 2, below). The Monday following the visit on 30 April was 1 May.
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), she and CD visited Lewes and Evans on 30 April 1876. Francis Darwin’s article ‘On the structure of the snail’s heart’ (F. Darwin 1876a) had been published in April 1876; his letter on the use of pycrotoxine (now more commonly picrotoxin) in vivisection experiments in Nature, 16 March 1876, pp. 384–5. In the latter, Francis wrote to complain of biased reporting by the Society for the Protection of Animals Liable to Vivisection. The society’s summary of the report of the Commission on vivisection stated that James Crichton-Browne had sacrificed forty-six animals when experimenting with pycrotoxine (a poison commonly applied to wheat that caused convulsions and often death in animals when ingested), but failed to mention that these experiments had resulted in finding that chloral was an effective antidote to this poison (Report of the Royal Commission on vivisection, pp. 166–7; Society for the Protection of Animals Liable to Vivisection 1876, p. 22).
James Sully had published a collection of essays in 1874 under the title Sensation and intuition (Sully 1874); his article on Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt was published in Mind in January 1876 (Sully 1876).


Report of the Royal Commission on vivisection: Report of the Royal Commission on the practice of subjecting live animals to experiments for scientific purposes; with minutes of evidence and appendix; 1876 (C.1397, C.1397-1) XLI.277, 689. House of Commons Parliamentary Papers.

Society for the Protection of Animals Liable to Vivisection. 1876. Statement of the Society for the Protection of Animals Liable to Vivisection, on the report of the Royal Commission on Vivisection. London: Society for the Protection of Animals Liable to Vivisection.

Sully, James. 1874. Sensation and intuition: studies in psychology and aesthetics. London: Henry S. King & Co.

Sully, James. 1876. Physiological psychology in Germany. Mind 1: 20–43.


Expresses his pride in FD, whose article ["On the structure of the snail’s heart", J. Anat. Physiol. 10 (1876): 506–10] was highly praised by G. H. Lewes.

Lewes has also been quoting FD’s letter in Nature [13 (1876): 384–5] on pycrotoxine in relation to the vivisection controversy.

Was introduced to James Sully, author of the article in Mind on Wilhelm Wundt ["Physiological psychology in Germany", 1 (1876): 20–43]

and Sensation and intuition (1874) [see 10320], by "Mrs Lewes" (George Eliot).

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Darwin
Source of text
DAR 271.4: 5
Physical description
2pp damaged

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10489A,” accessed on 16 January 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24