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Darwin Correspondence Project

To the Secretary, Royal Society    18 November [1855]1

Down, | Bromley, | Kent

18 November

My dear Sir

I will do my best, but it is a job I feel very little fitted for. I happen to be going from home & have other engagements which I cannot put off, so that I shall not be able to send you the paper till the very end of this week,2 & I have no doubt it will require attention for

I do not know at all what ought to be said,—but I have just thought that I will look over the old speech which will be some guide.3

In Haste | yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The text has been transcribed from the Maggs Brothers catalogue. The date is inferred from the 1855 watermark of the stationery and by the reference to a paper that CD was to write (see n. 2, below). William Sharpey and George Gabriel Stokes were the secretaries of the Royal Society in 1855.
CD was a member of the council of the Royal Society in 1855 and 1856. In April 1855, CD had nominated John Obadiah Westwood for one of the society’s two Royal Medals, which Westwood received at the anniversary meeting on 30 November 1855. It was customary that the person who nominated a candidate composed the citation read at the presentation. The text of the award, prepared by CD, was printed in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 7 (1854–5): 576–7 (see ML 1: 113).
The ‘old speech’ may refer to the nomination text that CD had drawn up in March 1855 and sent to Thomas Henry Huxley for his comments (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to T. H. Huxley, 31 March [1855]).


Reluctantly agrees to write a paper (the citation of award of the Royal Medal to J. O. Westwood [Abstracts and papers of RSL 1855]), but feels unfitted for the job.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Secretary, Royal Society
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 249: 112
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1782A,” accessed on 21 September 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7 (Supplement)