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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Anthony Rich   13 June 1881

Chappell Croft, | Heene, Worthing.

Monday June 13— 81.

My dear Mr. Darwin,

Last Saturday morning the Post brought me your wellcome and friendly and pleasant letter; on the afternoon of the same day the Railway brought me for a visit Mr. and Mrs. Huxley, whom I may characterise in similar terms.1 They went back to London this morning, much to my regret; for I found them both extremely agreeable, as you will doubtless have discovered long ago. I only hope that they may have found their time pass here as pleasantly as I did. On the whole I thought him looking rather less vigorous than when I first saw him some two or three years back, as indeed people who come from the midst of London work in the London season are entitled to do.—

Now that we are on the subject of visits I may add that I shall look forward with the greatest pleasure to the accomplishment of the intention you express to spend a few days in the autumn at the Heene Hotel, which will afford me the opportunity of another cordial greeting with you.2 It is not, I should say, a cause for wonder that you find yourself less able for a good walk than you used to do. The early warmth of this season before you left home must have told upon you as they have done upon all people who are not young or robust; and the constant rain of which you complain, the normal condition I have found of the Lake district, can scarcely be puffed off, even by hotel keepers, as a good constitutional tonic. I have found myself to be greatly enervated by it—the heat I mean—and that, added to the natural depression of encreasing years, seems to deteriorate my vital energies more than the winter cold by a good deal. I forget now the exact situation and surroundings of Patterdale; but if it is hilly like much of the Cumberland country no doubt it will put an extra strain upon your powers of locomotion, and lead you to suppose that the length of the walk has been diminished while you forget that the exertion spent upon it may have been doubled or trebled. I find now that a very slight rise in the ground upon which I walk, in my own garden for instance, requires an effort and produces quite an unusual feeling of fatigue. I hope that the park of Mr. Marshall is tolerably level: He is the grandson, or son, I suppose of the gentleman who figures amongst the Dramatis Personae of T. Carlyle’s Reminiscence; and who came off with a slight sprinkling only of the “Sage’s” (!) sub-acid mixture.3 Oddly enough the precise sentiment which you express in reference to the mention of your brother Erasmus passed through my mind in reading it.— here is the man who has got through the fire without being scorched, but not without a soupçon of the agro-dolce flavour with which the Italians dress their wild boar.4 But I attributed that to Mrs. Carlyle perhaps; for it suggested a tone in which some women, especially those who figure as socially clever ones, are apt to indulge about their male friends who make exertions out of kindness or politeness in their behalf, with the object of magnifying their own importance and influence over those who put themselves to trouble for the purpose of serving them.— You got a gentle dig in the ribs for your share; and much you will care about that! For myself I do not see logic or common sense in giving out an opinion, either good or bad, upon a book which in the same breath the critic proclaims that he never “could read and never has read”. How does he know that he couldn’t read it, if he never tried?—5 The last book of any note that I have read is Trevelyan’s Early Life of C. J. Fox.— very interesting, very amusing, and very well written.6 I tried Wallace’s Island Life, which I dare say has considerable merit; but I could not get through it.—7 Coll. Gordon’s Central Africa is ordered from the Library, to be received a few days perhaps before the Greek Kalends.— —8

I was truly sorry to hear that William Darwin had met with an accident—the second one you said.9 I did not know that he had had a first. If he comes to you please to salute him cordially on my part. And his brother George—my friend as you say—though I collect from your words that he cannot boast of being thoroughly reinstated in good sound health; yet I trust that he may have received some permanent benefit from his residence in Madeira.10 That island appears to have become a place almost of popular resort; for I have seen in the Papers constant announcements of “fashionable” arrivals there during the months lately passed. I do not wonder at your being pleased and proud on the compliments which he has received from the Astromer R. for Ireland.11 It is only by men of first rate standing and advanced knowledge that work such as his can be appreciated; or from whom praise is worth the having— When you see him pray give him my congratulations, and best wishes, and earnest hope that his health will soon become as strong as his genius—

As for myself I really cannot rake up a single scrap of intelligence to impart; for I live here so entirely to myself, that I literally know nothing that is going on beyond what every one knows as well as myself—public events as detailed in public Journals. I have heard more of my own voice during the last two days while H. and his wife were with me, than I have during the two preceding months perhaps; and I am not sure that this habit of listening only to myself (which I can’t help though) and never having to hear the opinions of others, does not lead to a sort of self sufficient belief that others of course think in the same way—and then one often says and writes, quite unintentionally, what is not so agreeable to them. I hope that I do not ever “tread upon your toes” in this way.

Now please to present my very best Compliments to Mrs. Darwin, whom I shall hope to see with you at Heene, if fortune favours me in the intention you entertain; and believe me to be. | Dear Mr. Darwin | Very sincerely yours | Anthony Rich


CD’s letter has not been found. Thomas Henry and Henrietta Anne Huxley. Rich had added a codicil to his will bequeathing his house to Huxley (see letter from T. H. Huxley, 6 March 1881 and n. 1).
The Darwins went to Heene, Worthing, on 8 September 1881 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). They stayed at the West Worthing Hotel (see letter from Anthony Rich, 25 August 1881 and n. 2).
The Darwins were visiting the Lake District, staying at Patterdale, from 3 June to 4 July (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). Victor Marshall’s Monk Coniston estate was familiar to CD from a previous visit to the Lake District in 1879; Marshall had visited CD on 8 June 1881 and probably offered the Darwins access to his estate for walks (see letter to G. H. Darwin, 8 June [1881]). Marshall was the son of James Garth Marshall, who was briefly mentioned in Thomas Carlyle’s Reminiscences (Carlyle 1881, 2: 219–20).
Erasmus Alvey Darwin was CD’s brother. Agro-dolce: sour-sweet (Italian); a condiment made with vinegar and sugar or honey, to which herbs, spices, and other ingredients are added.
In his reminiscences, Carlyle mentioned E. A. Darwin (‘one of the sincerest, naturally truest, and most modest of men’, and CD (‘the famed Darwin on species of these days’), and commented, alluding to Origin, ‘Wonderful to me, as indicating the capricious stupidity of mankind; never could read a page of it, or waste the least thought on it’ (Carlyle 1881, 2: 208). Erasmus had been a good friend of Jane Baillie Welsh Carlyle.
George Otto Trevelyan’s The early history of Charles James Fox (Trevelyan [1880]).
Alfred Russel Wallace’s Island life (Wallace 1880a) had been highly praised by CD (see Correspondence vol. 28, letter to A. R. Wallace, 3 November 1880).
Colonel Gordon in Central Africa (Hill ed. 1881) was published in the second half of May 1881 (Publishers’ Circular, 1 June 1881, p. 442). Charles George Gordon was a British army officer. Calends was the first day of the month in the Roman calendar, but did not feature in the Greek calendar; the ‘Greek calends’, therefore, refers to a time that will never arrive. Rich had probably expected that the book would be so popular, it would be some time before he received a copy, most likely from Mudie’s Select Library, a large subscription library.
William Erasmus Darwin had been kicked off his horse, hitting his head, in March 1881; he had also suffered a serious fall in 1876 (see letter from W. E. Darwin, [13 March 1881] and n. 4).
George Howard Darwin joined the Darwins at Patterdale on 15 June 1881, while William arrived on 18 June (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). George had travelled to Madeira in early February 1881 for a convalescent stay and arrived back in England at the end of March (letter to W. E. Darwin, 4 February [1881]; letter from Emma Darwin to G. H. Darwin, 23 March 1881 (DAR 210.3: 6); Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). George had visited Rich in 1879 (see Correspondence vol. 27, letter to W. E. Darwin, 10 January [1879]).
Robert Stawell Ball had written to George, praising his work on tidal evolution (see letter to G. H. Darwin, 8 June [1881] and n. 2).


Carlyle, Thomas. 1881. Reminiscences. Edited by James Anthony Froude. 2 vols. London: Longmans, Green, and Co.

Hill, George Birkbeck, ed. 1881. Colonel Gordon in Central Africa, 1874–1879. London: Thos. de la Rue & Co.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Trevelyan, George Otto. [1880.] The early history of Charles James Fox. London: Thomas Nelson & Sons.

Wallace, Alfred Russel. 1880a. Island life: or, the phenomena and causes of insular faunas and floras, including a revision and attempted solution of the problem of geological climates. London: Macmillan.


The Huxleys have visited; CD may come soon.

Letter details

Letter no.
Anthony Rich
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 176: 149
Physical description
ALS 8pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13202,” accessed on 30 November 2023,