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Darwin Correspondence Project

To E. A. Wheler   26 March 1879

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Mar 26 | 1879

My dear Cousin

I thank you cordially for your very interesting letter. That is a most curious story about the jockey, & which I shall be much tempted to use. The one about the highway man I had utterly forgotten, but now vaguely remember my father having told it.1

Several other points may come in to be of use, but I fear that my preface may grow longer than the sketch by the German.2 Perhaps I may write to Mr Moilliet & to R. Darwin; but I doubt whether any of Dr D’s letters would be worth publishing. I know Mr Edgeworth’s memoirs.3

I beg you also to thank my cousin Emma very much for her letter & enclosure. I will certainly quote parts of her letter to Dr Dowson, who I hear is very old & has lost his memory.4

It is not likely that either of you know whether my Grandfather reached Edinburgh in time to see Charles die; & pray do not take the trouble to write unless you happen to know.5

I have read a sketch of the short life of Charles somewhere, but cannot remember where.6

Miss Seward’s book is in the possession of my sister Caroline, & is marked just as Emma describes.7

Pray once again accept my thanks & believe me | yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin


See letter from E. A. Wheler, 25 March 1879; CD included the anecdotes in Erasmus Darwin, pp. 63–5.
In the event, CD’s preface was 127 pages long, while the sketch by Ernst Krause was 90 pages (see Erasmus Darwin).
CD later wrote to Reginald Darwin and to James Keir Moilliet, but the letter to Moilliet has not been found and was evidently not answered (see letter to Reginald Darwin, 8 April 1879). Richard Lovell Edgeworth had mentioned Erasmus Darwin frequently in his memoirs (R. Edgeworth and Edgeworth 1820).
See letter from E. S. Galton, 25 March 1879; Emma Sophia Galton had copied a letter she wrote in 1871 to John Dowson about his lecture on the life of Erasmus Darwin (Dowson 1861).
Erasmus Darwin’s eldest son, Charles, was a nineteen-year-old medical student at Edinburgh when he died from the effects of a wound received while dissecting (see Erasmus Darwin, p. 80).
Erasmus wrote a short biography of Charles, which he published together with Charles’s medical writings; see E. Darwin ed. 1780, pp. 127–34.
See letter from E. S. Galton, 25 March 1879; Emma Galton had mentioned the copy of Anna Seward’s life of Erasmus Darwin (Seward 1804) that had been annotated by Robert Waring Darwin (1766–1848). CD’s sister was Caroline Sarah Wedgwood.


Darwin, Erasmus, ed. 1780. Experiments establishing a criterion between mucaginous and purulent matter: and, an account of the retrograde motions of the absorbent vessels of animal bodies in some diseases. Lichfield: J. Jackson.

Dowson, John. 1861. Erasmus Darwin: philosopher, poet, and physician. A lecture to the Literary and Philosophical Society of Whitby. London: H. K. Lewis.

Edgeworth, Richard Lovell and Edgeworth, Maria. 1820. Memoirs of Richard Lovell Edgeworth, Esq. begun by himself and concluded by his daughter, Maria Edgeworth. 2 vols. London: R. Hunter; Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy.

Erasmus Darwin. By Ernst Krause. Translated from the German by W. S. Dallas, with a preliminary notice by Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1879.

Seward, Anna. 1804. Memoirs of the life of Dr. Darwin. London: J. Johnson.


Thanks for information and stories about Erasmus Darwin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Elizabeth Anne Galton/Elizabeth Anne Wheler
Sent from
Source of text
Josh B. Rosenblum (private collection)
Physical description
LS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11955F,” accessed on 28 June 2022,