skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Lubbock   2 August 1881

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

Augt 2d. 1881

My dear Lubbock

I have read with pleasure your Address. You have piled honours high on my head.—

I have scribbled such thoughts & remarks, as would have occurred to me if I had read your address when published. I fear that they will be of little or no use to you, except perhaps in one or two cases by leading you to make further enquiry.1

I had put a pamphlet on one side for you, as I thought that you would like sometime to read it, & it has occurred to me that from this excellent resumé of Dr. Adlers work (which no doubt you have read) you might easily make a short abstract for your Address; for I think that parthenogenesis deserves special notice in recent scientific work.—2

I have torn out a page for you to illustrate & strengthen what you say about inoculation.3 My suggestions & criticisms are poor affairs, but they are the best which I could send.—

This Address must have cost you much labour, & I congratulate you on its virtual completion. How on earth you find time is a mystery to me.—

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. A German in a late Nor of Kosmos has published on the distribution of seeds by animals, but I do not think that it contains anything which would be new to you.—4

Miss North has been staying here, & she tells me that she has brought home some very curious Australian seeds; they might be worth your attention.5


Lubbock sent a draft of his presidential address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at York, 31 August to 7 September 1881. For the fiftieth anniversary of the meeting, Lubbock discussed major developments in the sciences over the previous half-century, including those in biology since the publication of Origin (Lubbock 1881a, pp. 2–11). CD evidently enclosed his suggestions and criticisms, but these have not been found.
Hermann Adler had studied parthenogenesis in Rhodites rosae (a synonym of Diplolepis rosae, the mossy rose gall wasp), as well as the alternation of generations in the Cynipidae (the family of gall wasps). CD’s annotated copy of ‘Beiträge zur Naturgeschichte der Cynipiden’ (Contributions to the natural history of the Cynipidae; Adler 1877) is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. Lubbock mentioned Adler’s work in his address (Lubbock 1881a, p. 7).
Lubbock summarised developments in the germ theory of disease and the method of inoculation in Lubbock 1881a, p. 12. The torn-out page has not been identified.
The article, ‘Die Anpassungen der Pflanzen an die Verbreitung durch Thiere’ (The adaptations of plants for distribution by animals; Huth 1881), was by Ernst Huth. See also letter to Fritz Müller, 4 July 1881 and n. 4.
Marianne North stayed at Down from 16 to 18 July 1881 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). On her travels in Australia, see North 1894, 2: 106–69; on her visit to Down, see ibid., 2: 214–15.


Adler, Hermann. 1877. Beiträge zur Naturgeschichte der Cynipiden: I. Ueber Parthenogenesis bei Rhodites roasae L. Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift 21: 209–48.

Huth, Ernst. 1881. Die Anpassungen der Pflanzen an die Verbreitung durch Thiere. Kosmos 9: 273–88.

Lubbock, John. 1881a. President’s address. Report of the 51st Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held at York (1881): 1–51.

North, Marianne. 1894. Recollections of a happy life. Being the autobiography of Marianne North. Edited by Mrs John Addington Symonds. 2 vols. New York and London: Macmillan and 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.


Comments on MS of JL’s [1881] BAAS Presidential Address. Suggests that more attention be given to parthenogenesis.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Add MS 49645: 100–2)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13269,” accessed on 5 February 2023,