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Darwin Correspondence Project

From C. H. Tindal   1 January 1880

The Manor House | Aylesbury.

Jan: 1st. 1880.

Dear Sir—

I have been through the whole of the Clive Correspondence & have made extracts of all the allusions to Dr. Darwin— and I have also selected three letters in which mention is made of your father—1 Pray keep the extracts if they are of any interest to you—and kindly return the three letters—

The Mr. Gifford referred to, was the Revd. Richard Gifford. M.A. of Balliol College Oxford. Rector of North Ockington Co: Essex & Vicar of Duffield Co. Derby

He was a person of great literary attainments, & a fine Hebrew & Classical Scholar— The article in the gentlemans Magazine which appeared on his death will give you a fair description of him & his writings generally.2 I cannot say how he became acquainted with Dr. Darwin— The correspondence between him & Mr. Clive began in 1760. and they were then both acquainted with Dr. D. then.

The Mr. Clive referred to is the Venble. Archdeacon Robert Clive Rector of Moreton, Prebendary of Westminster & Archdeacon of Salop. He was son of the Revd. Benjamin Clive of Duffield & cousin of the celebrated Ld. Clive whose sister he married.3

Duffield is about 5 miles from Derby. Mr. Richard Gifford is buried there, & his daughter & only child Euphemia Gifford likewise— She lived to be 89 & died in the year 1854.4

It may interest you to know that I have here a picture cut out in black Paper of Archdeacon Clive, & his brother George Clive a banker in London playing Chess—5 The picture was cut out by Miss Wedgwood daughter of Josiah Wedgwood who married Dr. Robert Darwin of Shrewsbury.6 It was left together with a print of the 1st. Lord Clive to Mr. Gifford by the Archdeacon.

I have a long correspondence between Mr. Gifford & his wife,7 & daughter which may throw some light on the commencement of the acquaintance with Dr. Darwin. I will look through this tomorrow & let you know the result.

I must apologise for troubling you with so long a letter— containing I am afraid much that is irrelevant, & subscribe myself, Yrs. very faithfully. | Charles H. Tindal

[Enclosure 1]

July 4th. 1768

The Ven: R. Clive to Revd R Gifford.

I thank you, for the account you sent me of Mr. Rotton,8 & was very glad to find that you were of opinion he mended very fast. I have since seen Dr. Darwin, who seems to think he may get much better with care & proper management, but he can by no means approve of ye Bark as he apprehends his case to be dropsical. He happened to have in his pocket a little treatise which he had just written upon ye use of ye Bark, & which he was going to send up to ye College of Physicians, to be printed amongst their next annual publications— he gave me ye perusal of it, & leave to transcribe a part of it, which I will send you, & I dare say you will think it very judicious as I do.9 “The effect of ye Peruvian Bark & other Bitters seems much to depend on their decreasing ye Irritability of the nervous system; as is evinced by their daily successful use in Fever & other diseases from Irritation— And as ye palsies & dropsies described below were owing to a decrease of this Irritability, the Bark seems, whenever it was given to have produced or increased these diseases, or to have destroyed ye. patient— The words Relaxation and Braceing cannot be opposed to this idea of the effect of Bitter medicines, as they can with no propriety be ascribed to ye nervous system of animal bodies; but are mechanical terms that belong alone to dead matter, & not to ye laws of life, & have misled many of ye faculty to ye great detriment of their patients— One observation I shall add, which has appeared to me invariably true viz: that ye. violent coughs, & ye febrile symptoms that are attendent on obstructed Livers, after proper Evacuations by bleeding with repeated vomiting or purging, are cured with certainty by the Bark, either alone or with the addition of a slight chalybeate10 or anodyne. But I believe from the following case that, where no symptoms of Irritation are attendant on obstructed Livers, ye Bark & chalybeates have induced palsies & dropsies to gr. destruction of Thousands”— Thus far ye ingenious Doctor, whose observations stand upon facts which have happened in his own practice, & which he produces in his treatise. His sentiments may be considered as a key to ye. use of the Bark & I am sure they will make me more cautious in recommending this medicine …… Send me word whether you will be at Moreton this day fortnight in ye Evening or, coming by Lichfield, & calling on Dr. Darwin give me ye. meeting at Dr. Adams’ at Counde on Tuesday by dinner’11

[Enclosure 2]


Novr. 6th. 1768.

R. Clive to R. Gifford

I am glad to find by your last papers to ye. Doctor & his letter to you, that matters are likely to be adjusted very amicably betwixt you even without the help of a moderator. I think you were a little off your guard in your definition of a Living Substance when you said you meant no more by it than ‘a substance well fitted to convey impressions to ye. mind & to execute her orders— Living here signifies apt for ‘ye. business of Life.’ If this be a true definition of a Living substance will it not follow that an axe, a saw, or an hammer, or any other material instrument that we make use of for ye. business of life is as much a living substance fitted to convey impressions to ye. mind, & to execute her orders as ye. body itself is—

From R. Clive to R. Gifford


Dec: 12. 1768.

‘Dear Sir—

I am desired by Doctor Darwin to let you know, that his pig & Mr. Whitleys12 company of comedians will be ready for our Establishment at Lichfield in ye. 2nd. week of January next. I propose being there on Tuesday ye 10th. & hope nothing will prevent you giving me ye. meeting, & pray bring your strictures on Berkeleys book upon ye material world—for ye Doctor tells me he has been writing a chapter to prove a material world, which he hopes will please you, as it plucks up the root of that kind of infidelity called scepticism.—13 We must try spend two or three days with ye. Doctor, which I think we shall pass very agreeably—. Pray bring Berkeleys book with you as ye Doctor may not have it.’—

R. Clive to R Gifford

[Enclosure 3]


Sept: 12th. (no year)

R. Clive to R. Gifford—

I read over your remarks with Dr. Darwin, who took all in good part, said he was very much obliged to you & would write soon— by the observations he made it appeared you had misunderstood some few passages in his book—& I think he will respond to your objections very well. I mentioned to him our desire of attending him sometime when he opened an human body— to which he said that he could give us all the satisfaction we desired from an inspection of ye. parts of a pig, & invited us to spend two or three days with him at Xmas, when he should kill a fat pig— I propose much pleasure from this meeting & hope nothing will happen to prevent it

[Enclosure 4]


Jan: 10th. 1771.

R. Clive to R. Gifford.

I thank you for your letter & your proposal to meet me at Lichfield, which perhaps I may call upon you to fulfil before it be long, as Dr. Darwin has often pressed me to come and spend a week with him—& two new philosophical friends who have lately settled in Lichfield, induced to it by that cheerfulness and benevolence of disposition, with which you & I & all who know ye. good Doctor are so much charmed.

R. Clive to R. Gifford


May 30. 1771.

I wish you could have spent tomorrow with Dr. Darwin & his two ingenious friends Edgeworth & Day14

R. Clive to Richard Gifford


Oct: 25th. 1772.

‘I have been much out of order for these last 5 days with a fever of the bilious kind—luckily Dr. Darwin was in ye. neighbourhood & prescribed for me from my written account of myself though he had not time to see— he has lain at home but one night these five weeks so great is his fame & usefulness

[Enclosure 5]


July 1st. 1773.

R. Clive to R. Gifford

‘I dare say you had a very sincere pleasure in Lord Clive’s victory over his enemies in parliament which was very complete & very honorable—15 Dr. Darwin wrote me a good blackguard letter on the occasion which will Entertain you better than anything else I can add to this hasty scrawl. I will therefore transcribe it “I had a great mind to have written a letter in ye newspapers on ye. following plan. To all ye. Blackguards in Great Britain— Loving friends & Cousins— To it again—at him— We shall conquer this Lion at last I warrant ye. Never mind a pinch or two— Burgoyne will stave, & Meredith tail—16 At him again. We’ll first demolish Clive & then Chatham,17 and there shall not be a man of virtue left in the Kingdom if we can help it— Now’s the time, My loving Cousins in Parliament, proscribe & confiscate all that are against the ministers at present; and when a new ministry prevails, then all the present proscribers shall be proscribed in their turn. till Temple bar is hung round with Calves heads like a Butcher’s shop— This is the true levelling principle!18 Rare times for old England! At him again, my lads next session— Never yelp & howl so for one defeat— Give me another pot of porter— Oh! d— your virtue— it has saved your country”—.’

[Enclosure 6]


Jan: 25th. (no year).

R. Clive to R. Gifford.

When I came here yesterday I found Dr. Darwin & Mr. Boothby busily engaged in translating the Genera Plantarum of Linnæus into English, in which if they succeed to their Satisfaction Mr. Boothby is to publish it.19 It will probably be a work of time, as it will be of some nicety—in which I told them I thought you could be useful as you have ye. book. I also told them you had been trading on metaphysical ground— They both wished much to see your M.S. Mr. B. said he would give you his free sentiments ou bien ou mal. He is going to publish a work which Rousseau entrusted to him about 4 years ago with a request not to do it till after his death.20

R. Clive to R. Gifford.


Jan: 20th. (no year).

I will send you some verses I found upon Dr. Darwin’s table.

On the death of Brindley the great perfector of Inland Navigation.21

Leek, Cheadle, Cheddleton, Delf, Burslem, Woor,

Stoke, Turnhurst, Ipstones, Draycot in ye. Moor,

All strive for Brindley’s birth, but strive in vain.22

For Brindley sprung immortal from the main—

On the much lamented death of Mr. G–r–ck.23

Ambubiarum collegia pharmacopolæ.24

Pimps, prompters, poets, painters, rhymers, riddlers,

Beaux, taylors, link boys, fruit girls, singers, fiddlers,

Scene shifters, tumblers, fairies, goblins, witches,

Backs, bullies, gamblers, demireps, & bitches,

All mourn for Garrick dead with wild distraction

A crowded playhouse was their scene of action—

R. Clive to R. Gifford


Sept 14th. (no year)

I received Dr. Darwins response which I think very ingenious & solid. I should be glad of your sentiments as soon as you have perused it. I am now sitting in Company with the Hero of Dr. Darwins book, who is in better health & spirits than I ever remember him—

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘I must make note of obligation to Mr Tindal’ pencil


CD had asked Tindal for details about Richard Gifford and Robert Clive (1722/3–92), friends of his grandfather Erasmus Darwin (see Correspondence vol. 27, letter to C. H. Tindal, 29 December 1879. CD’s father was Robert Waring Darwin.
Gifford’s obituary appeared in Gentleman’s Magazine 77 (May 1807): 477–8.
‘Lord Clive’ was Robert Clive (1725–74); his sister was Rebecca Clive.
Gifford’s daughter was Euphemia Gifford.
George Clive. The plate on p. 6 shows a similar silhouette.
Susannah Darwin was the daughter of Josiah Wedgwood I, and the wife of Robert Waring Darwin, CD’s father.
‘Peruvian bark’ from cinchona trees was a common source of quinine. Erasmus Darwin prescribed it as a stimulus for treating fevers and other conditions (see E. Darwin 1794–6, 1: 83–4, 100 and 2: passim). Its medical properties are praised in The botanic garden, pt 2, The loves of plants (E. Darwin 1799, pp. 103–5); however, no separate publication on Peruvian bark has been found.
Chalybeate: water or other liquid containing iron (OED; see also E. Darwin 1794–6, 2: 175–6).
William Adams was rector of Counde, Shropshire (ODNB).
George Berkeley’s controversial views on perception and the material world were published in An essay towards a new theory of vision (Berkeley 1709). Erasmus Darwin discussed visual perception in Zoonomia (E. Darwin 1794–6, 1: 14–29).
Richard Lovell Edgeworth and Thomas Day; both were members of the Lunar Society of Birmingham (see King Hele 1999, pp. 79–80).
In 1772 and 1773, several motions were brought against Robert Clive (1725–74) in the House of Commons, in connection with criticism of the East India Company’s administration in Bengal. In May 1773, Clive successfully defended himself against accusations of appropriating money while serving as governor of Bengal. (ODNB.)
John Burgoyne was an army officer, MP, and outspoken critic of Robert Clive (1725–74) and the East India Company. William Meredith served on Burgoyne’s committee to investigate the East India Company and seconded his motion to censure Clive for corruption. (ODNB.)
William Pitt (Pitt the elder), first earl of Chatham.
Temple Bar, the historic gateway to London, was used to display the severed heads of traitors until 1746. The Levellers was a name given to supporters of a democratic republic during the period of the English Civil War and Commonwealth (EB).
Brooke Boothby. The translation of Carl von Linné’s Genera plantarum was credited to ‘a botanical society at Lichfield’ (Linnaeus 1787; see King-Hele 1999, pp. 217–18).
Ou bien ou mal: whether well or ill (French). Boothby edited Rousseau juge de Jean Jacques: dialogue (Rousseau 1780). On the friendship between Boothby and Jean Jacques Rousseau, see Zonneveld [2003]).
James Brindley was principal engineer on a number of canals across the Midlands; he died in 1772 (ODNB).
Leek, Cheadle, Cheddleton, Delph, Burslem, Woore, Stoke-on-Trent, Ipstones, and Draycott are villages or towns in Staffordshire. Brindley was born in Wormhill, Derbyshire, and lived at Turnhurst Hall in Staffordshire after his marriage in 1765 (ODNB).
The actor David Garrick died in 1779 (ODNB).
‘Ambubiarum collegia pharmacopolae’ (correctly, ‘Ambubaiarum collegia, pharmacopolae’): ‘A band of flute girls, quack doctors …’. The source is Horace, Satires 1.2.1.


Berkeley, George. 1709. An essay towards a new theory of vision. Dublin: Aaron Rhames for Jeremy Pepyat.

Darwin, Erasmus. 1794–6. Zoonomia; or, the laws of organic life. 2 vols. London: J. Johnson.

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.

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

Linnaeus, Carolus (Carl von Linné). 1787. Families of plants, with their natural characters, according to the number, figure, situation, and proportion of all the parts of fructification. Translated by a botanical society at Lichfield. Lichfield: J. Jackson.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. 1780. Rousseau juge de Jean Jacques: dialogue. Lichfield: John Jackson.

Zonneveld, Jacques. [2003.] Sir Brooke Boothby: Rousseau’s roving baronet friend. [Voorburg]: De Nieuwe Haagsche.


Encloses extracts from the correspondence of [the Ven. Robert] Clive concerning Erasmus Darwin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Harrison Tindal
Charles Robert Darwin
Source of text
DAR 227.7: 11–13, 16, 18, 25, 128

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12392F,” accessed on 25 June 2022,