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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Allen   25 May 1847

Down Farnborough Kent

May 25th. /47

My dear Sir

I am much obliged by your note of the 21st, which I consider as a great compliment.1 I am more than doubtful whether I could at all succeed in so very difficult a task as that proposed, but I am sorry to say that my powers of work, owing to my health are so slight, and having much materials in Nat. Hist. half worked out, that I am unwilling to undertake anything fresh.2 If I had the time & felt that I could do justice to your proposal, the doubt of my work being accepted, should not prevent a trial, for I fully appreciate the great importance of such works: it has often been a castle in the air with me, how much useful information, supposing that the proper man could be caught, might be given to the poor in early life, on subjects most useful to them, & yet about which they are profoundly ignorant.3

My wife begs to join me in our kind remembrances to Mrs. Allen4 & to yourself & pray believe me, My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

Rev. J. Allen.

I see that I have written this note the wrong way first—5


Allen’s letter of 21 May 1847 has not been found.
In May 1847, CD was working on Cirripedia (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix I).
The nature of the project that Allen had proposed to CD is unknown; it may have had something to do with Allen's interest in the education of the poor.
The letter is on two half sheets; p. 1 recto goes down to ‘half worked out,’; p. 1 verso contains only the note, ‘I see that ... wrong way first—’; pp. 2 and 3 are recto and verso of a single roughly torn sheet.


Thanks for JS’s note concerning a proposal [concerning some aspect of education of poor children?] which CD has to decline because of his poor health and his work in Natural History.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Allen
Sent from
Source of text
The National Library of Israel (Abraham Schwadron collection, Schwad 03 04 07)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1090F,” accessed on 19 May 2024,