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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Leonard Blomefield   12 March 1877

Belmont | Bath.

March 12th | 1877.—

My dear Darwin,

I cannot refrain from writing you a few words of congratulation, in reference to the splendid Testimonial you have lately received from the savans of Germany & The Netherlands, & which I have read an account of in “Nature”.1 No more decided mark of approbation could have been stamped upon the many years’ hard work you have devoted to the Natural History Sciences,—nor better proof afforded of the favourable view foreigners take of the theory you have laboured to establish.—

It must be a great satisfaction to you in the evening of life to think that your researches, so multifarious & at the cost of so much health & trouble,—have come at length to be duly appreciated;—& that both you & your theories have outlived the fierce opposition that was made to them when first laid before the scientific world.— You, it appears, have just entered your 70th. year.—2 I, in a very little more than two months—shall be entering my 78th. My work for science—of small account compared with yours—I consider done.— But yours I hope will continue many a year longer.— And valuable as have been your many laborious contributions to Biology, here is yet one still wanting for the full development of your theory,—which I have been eagerly looking for, ever since your first announcement in 1868 of its title that was to be—“The variability of Organic beings in a state of Nature”,— but which has never yet come to the birth as a publication.—3 I doubt not you have amassed precious materials for such a work.— Shall I live to see it?—Or am I likely ever to see yourself again?— How few Naturalists of the present day there must be who have known you longer than myself—or so long.— How far back in life is even the occasion of our last meeting!—4 I am thankful to say I am still in as fair health as any of my own age, and wishing you, too, many years of health & happiness to enjoy the world-wide reputation you have earned,—

Believe me, | My dear Darwin, | Ever your’s, Most Sincerely.— | Leonard Blomefield.


Nature, 22 February 1877, p. 356, reported that on the occasion of CD’s 69th birthday, he had received an album of photographs of 154 German scientists, and another one containing photographs of 217 distinguished professors and lovers of science from Holland. CD was 68 on 12 February 1877. The German album was sent with the letter from Emil Rade, [before 16] February 1877, and the Dutch one was sent with the letter from A. A. van Bemmelen and H. J. Veth, 6 February 1877.
CD had entered his 69th year; both albums made a mistake with his age, see n. 1, above.
In Variation 1: 4–9, CD described two projected works based on his unpublished ‘big book’ on species (Natural selection). The first was to be on ‘variability of organic beings in a state of nature’, but neither was published.
Blomefield (formerly Jenyns) held a living at Swaffham Bulbeck, near Cambridge, while CD was an undergraduate at Cambridge from 1828 to 1831. They had met through an interest in entomology, and Blomefield later described the Beagle fish specimens. The last known meeting between Blomefield and CD was at the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting at Southampton in September 1846; see Correspondence vol. 3, letter to J. S. Henslow, [5 October 1846].


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Congratulates CD on testimonials from the savants of Germany and the Netherlands [Nature 15 (1877): 356, 410–12] and generally on his contributions to biology.

Asks if and when CD’s "Variability of organic beings in a state of nature", as projected in 1868 [see Variation 1: 4] is to appear.

Letter details

Letter no.
Leonard Jenyns/Leonard Blomefield
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 168: 59
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10889,” accessed on 13 September 2023,