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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. H. Darwin   15 May [1879]1


May 15th

(We go on 21st to Leith Hill & home on 26th)

My dear G.—

When you return will you be so kind as to call on Mr Mayor(?) & thank him very much for me for his very useful assistance.— Also ask him what evidence there is that Dr D was “an excellent scholar”. (see enclosed)2 Also can he tell me date & author of “Pursuits of Literature” (see enclosed, which please return) The “Sweet tetrandryan” line amuses me.3 Thirdly can you find out in Public L. whether there was an 8vo edit. of the Botanic Garden about year 1800. There was in 1806 an 8vo edit. in 3 vols of all Dr. D’s poetical works.—4

I shall be very curious to hear about your Glasgow visit.5

Yours affect | C. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from G. H. Darwin, 10 May 1879 (see n. 5, below).
John Eyton Bickersteth Mayor (see letter from G. H. Darwin, 10 May 1879 and n. 2). The enclosure has not been found.
The pursuits of literature, or what you will was a poem in four parts satirising contemporary authors; it was published anonymously by Thomas James Mathias. CD probably copied out Mathias’s parody of Erasmus Darwin’s poetry, including the lines: ‘In sweet tetrandryan, monogynian strains / Pant for a pystill in botanic pains’ ([Mathias] 1794–7, 1: 15). The work was first published between 1794 and 1797, and went through many editions.
The ‘public’ library was Cambridge University Library (see letter to G. H. Darwin, 5 May [1879] and n. 2). The fourth edition of The botanic garden was published in a cheaper octavo format in 1799 (E. Darwin 1799); The poetical works of Erasmus Darwin was published in octavo in three volumes in 1806 (E. Darwin 1806). Neither work was in the University Library.
George was probably planning to visit William Thomson in Glasgow (see letter from G. H. Darwin, 10 May 1879 and n. 5).


Darwin, Erasmus. 1799. The botanic garden, a poem. Pt 1. The economy of vegetation. Pt 2. The loves of the plants. With philosophical notes. 4th edition. London: J. Johnson.

Darwin, Erasmus. 1806. The poetical works of Erasmus Darwin … containing The botanic garden … and The temple of nature. 3 vols. London: J. Johnson.

[Mathias, Thomas James.] 1794–7. The pursuits of literature, or what you will: a satirical poem in dialogue. 4 parts. London: J. Owen.


Sends some queries connected with his writing of the biographical preface to Erasmus Darwin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Howard Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.1: 82
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12054,” accessed on 22 May 2022,