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Darwin Correspondence Project

To E. H. Stanley   25 June 1880

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

June 25th 1880

Dear Lord Derby

You will perhaps recollect that I formerly applied to your Lordship with respect to a petition about Niagara, and that you were so kind as to say that you would not object to ask in the House of Lords any question on the subject.1 I now inclose a letter from Mr Olmsted to your Lordship, & a copy of one to my sons wife,2 which latter will perhaps aid in explaining matters. My son informs me that a map of the district, published by the New York State Survey, was sent to you; but if not received, or lost, my son would send another copy if you would like to see it.3

Apologising for troubling your Lordship, I beg leave to remain | Yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin

[Enclosure 1]

209 W. 46th. St., New York,

11th. June, 1880.

My Lord;

Mr. Darwin having kindly sent me a copy of your lordship’s note to him of last November, expressing interest in the movement to restore the natural scenery of Niagara Falls, I sometime since sent you a copy of the report of the New York Commission on the subject.4

I am sorry to say that though advocated by a great number of the more eminent men of letters and other esteemed citizens both of Canada and of the United States and received with considerable official favor, the legislative bodies of the Dominion, of the Province of Ontario and of the State of New York have all adjourned without taking favorable action upon the project.

A cautious policy with reference to the present presidential canvass had to do with the failure in New York.5 In Canada I am advised that the chief obstacle lay in the difficulty of gaining a serious interest among members of Parliament in a subject so far without the field of their ordinary political discussions.

The agitation will be revived in the autumn, and I beg to say that an inquiry upon the subject in the House of Lords as kindly proposed in your lordship’s note to Mr. Darwin, would, as an indication of the interest of the subject to the world beyond Canada and the United States, have a valuable influence and be gratefully regarded by those who have here led the movement; writing in whose behalf, | I have the honour to be | Your lordship’s | Very obedient servant | Frederick Law Olmsted.

The Right Honorable, | The Earl of Derby.

[Enclosure 2]

209 W 46th. St., New York,

11th. June, 1880.

Dear Mrs. Darwin;

I have left your note of 8th. March so long unanswered in hopes of being able to give you something definite and agreeable about the Niagara project.6 But I must confess at last that we have not only failed at every point legislatively, but that in an effort to keep afloat we are swamped by the Presidential tempest.7

I sent you some time since a copy of our report, which, if it should be possible to revive interest in the matter next year, will be a good magazine to draw upon. I do not mean that this shall be the end if I can help it.

I enclose a letter to Lord Derby, which I wish that you would submit to Mr. Darwin, and if approved, send it to him. A little talk in Parliament would undoubtedly have a good effect, especially in Canada, where, although the Governor General and the Princess8 showed as much interest as could be expected of them and the ministry was civil and made good promises, the subject seems to have had no serious consideration. Anything tending to show that the leading men of England really care for it and think it worthy of their earnest attention will help to overcome this provincial indifference.

Your friend Mr. Wardell9 called while I was in Boston whence I had to go immediately to Washington. On my return, when I called at his hotel, he had gone to Philadelphia. I left a note requesting him to let me know when he should be in town again, but am sorry to say I have had no reply.

With kindest regards and thanks to Mr. Darwin, I am | Very sincerely yours, | Fredk. Law Olmsted.


For the petition, see Correspondence vol. 27, letter from W. E. Darwin, [9 November 1879].
In his letter of 24 June [1880], William had told CD that he could send Stanley a copy of Special report of New York state survey of the preservation of the scenery of Niagara Falls (Gardiner ed. 1880).
In 1879, Emma Darwin wrote to Stanley’s wife, Mary Catherine Stanley, about the Niagara project; see Correspondence vol. 27, letter from Emma Darwin to M. C. Stanley, 12 November [1879]. Emma received a reply from Stanley declining to sign the petition but expressing sympathy with its aims (letter from E. H. Stanley to Emma Darwin, 13 November 1879 (F. L. Olmsted Papers: 1857–1952, Library of Congress, mss 35121, box 40; reel 36)). For the report, see n. 3, above.
Canvassing was under way for the United States presidential election, which took place on 2 November 1880.
The note from Sara Darwin has not been found.
See n. 5, above.
John George Edward Henry Douglas Sutherland Campbell (marquess of Lorne) was the governor-general of Canada from 1878 to 1883; he married Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter, Louise Caroline Alberta, in 1871 (ODNB).
George Young Wardle, manager of Morris & Co., was travelling in the US on the firm’s business (letter from Jane Morris to Sara Darwin, 28 March [1880] (Sharp and Marsh 2012, pp. 108–9 and n. 2)).


Gardiner, James Terry, ed. 1880. Special report of New York State Survey on the preservation of the scenery of Niagara Falls; and fourth annual report on the triangulation of State. For the Year 1879. Albany: Charles Van Benthuysen & sons.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Sending EHS (Lord Derby) information about the Niagara affair.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12642F,” accessed on 27 February 2024,