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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Reginald Darwin   29 March 1879

Fern, | Buxton.

March 29 | 1879

My dear Cousin

The receipt of your letter has given me very sincere pleasure— It has been delayed a day in consequence of the address “Matlock” instead of “Buxton”— I am much interested in what you say as to the sketch of our grandfather’s life & shall look anxiously for the appearance of the translation— I do not know that I can help you in your praiseworthy desire to vindicate his character.1 I will however send you his “Common Place Book” in which I have placed such letters &c as I had in my possession— The lines on “Atheism” you probably possess, probably also the lines on “Prosperity” &c respecting which you will find a letter from Emma Galton—2

There are various lines by other Authors, lines which were favourites with my Father, & which are mostly in my mother’s & sister’s hands—3

You will see that I have desecrated the old Book with newspaper cuttings, & regret that I ever did so. You must however kindly disregard this— I cannot tell you whether our Grandfather reached Edinburgh before the death of his son Charles, but in those days of tardy mails I should think the probability is that he did not—4 I saw his Tomb in 1840, the old Book contains a copy of the inscription. Breadsall Church is, like many others at this day, undergoing the process of restoration, & the graves of some of those who have gone before us have been disturbed; I name this as you will see a letter (recent) to me from one of my sisters on the subject—5 It is indeed long since we met— never but once since your return from your five years voyage,6 about 1839, your name however is so completely before the world that I seem to hear of you constantly, & always with pride— My son is more fortunate than myself, for he already has made the acquaintance of your son George, & has had a kind invitation from your son at Southampton—7 I trust they may meet some day, when my son may be at Portsmouth— He is now Commander of the “Lord Warden” in the Firth of Forth—8 tho’ several years your junior, I also am getting old, but am thankful for good health & vigour—

Pray offer my best regards & those of Mrs Darwin9 & my son (who is home on a few days leave) to your family & believe me| always affectly yours | Reginald Darwin

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘New Market Jockey Story’10 pencil


See letter to Reginald Darwin, 27 March 1879; CD and Erasmus Alvey Darwin were arranging a translation of Ernst Krause’s sketch of the life of Erasmus Darwin (Krause 1879a). Matlock and Buxton were spa towns in Derbyshire. CD had written that he wanted to contradict some of the statements made by Anna Seward in her biography of Erasmus Darwin (Seward 1804).
Erasmus Darwin’s Commonplace book (Down House MS) was written between 1776 and 1787; for more on the book and its contents, see King-Hele 1999, pp. 133–4, 136–8, and passim. Reginald also refers to Erasmus Darwin’s ‘The folly of atheism’; Emma Sophia Galton had sent the poem to John Dowson (see letter from E. S. Galton, 25 March 1879 and n. 4). The poem on prosperity has not been identified.
See letter to Reginald Darwin, 27 March 1879 and n. 3. Erasmus Darwin’s son Charles was nineteen when he died. ‘Tardy mails’: slow mail coaches.
The letter has not been found. Erasmus Darwin was buried in Breadsall church in Derbyshire (ODNB). The church was restored between 1878 and 1883 under the direction of the architect Frederick Josias Robinson.
The HMS Beagle voyage of 1831–6.
Reginald’s son, Sacheverel Charles Darwin, was an officer in the Royal Navy. Reginald also refers to George Howard Darwin and to William Erasmus Darwin, who lived in Bassett, Southampton.
S. C. Darwin was commander of HMS Lord Warden from September 1878 until December 1879 (Admiralty: Officer’s service records (series III), National Archives, ADM 196/15/167).
For the story about the jockey, see letter from E. A. Wheler, 25 March 1879 and n. 7.


King-Hele, Desmond. 1999. Erasmus Darwin. A life of unequalled achievement. London: Giles de la Mare Publishers.

Krause, Ernst. 1879a. Erasmus Darwin, der Großvater und Vorkämpfer Charles Darwin’s: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Descendenz-Theorie. Kosmos 4 (1878–9): 397–424.

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


Sends Dr Erasmus Darwin’s commonplace book, some letters, and poems.

Family news.

Letter details

Letter no.
Reginald Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 99: 146–9
Physical description
ALS 8pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11960,” accessed on 28 May 2024,