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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Reginald Darwin   2 May 1879


May 2, 1879.

My dear Cousin

I leave home on the 6th for 3 week’s rest and will then begin my preliminary notice and continue it after my return home.1

My object in writing is to say that I hope you will not consider me very unreasonable in keeping your various books for so long a time. I had intended to return them before leaving home, but one of my sons who understands mechanics has not yet had time to investigate how far some of the mechanical suggestions in the M.S. folio have since been improved or utilized.2 I have locked up all your books in an iron fire-proof Plate chest, so that they will be safe.

So pray forgive me and believe me | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


Between 6 and 26 May 1879, CD visited Worthing, Southampton, and Leith Hill Place (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). He was preparing to write the biographical account of Erasmus Darwin that would serve as a preliminary notice to the English translation of Ernst Krause’s account of Erasmus Darwin (Krause 1879a; Erasmus Darwin, pp. 1–127).
Reginald Darwin had lent CD several books, including Erasmus Darwin’s Commonplace book (Down House MS; see letter from Reginald Darwin, 29 March 1879). Erasmus Darwin’s more ambitious mechanical ideas were recorded in this book (see King-Hele 1999, pp. 136–8, 151–2, 162–3, 184–5, 204, and 216–17; Erasmus Darwin, pp. 118–24). The son was probably Horace Darwin.


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

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.


Leaves home on 6th for a rest.

Will commence writing Erasmus Darwin.

Apologises for keeping RD’s various books for so long a time.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Reginald Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 153: 100
Physical description
C 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12025,” accessed on 2 June 2023,