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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Davy   3 January [1856]1

Down Farnborough Kent2

Jan. 3d.

My dear Sir

I am much obliged for your very kind note,3 & am delighted to hear that you have been prosecuting your Researches.—4

I am sure I am much pleased & flattered at the form you are so good as to put your communication.5 I heard, on enquiry, the other day that your Paper would soon be published.6 There has been inexcusable delay in regard to it: but, I may mention, that we had the other day at the council a discussion,7 how we could expedite the Reports of Referees, & I found the subject involved in rather more difficulty than I had thought.—

Pray believe me | my dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Charles Darwin


The year is established by the reference to J. Davy 1855 (see n. 6, below).
CD’s address after September 1855 was ‘Down, Bromley, Kent’, not ‘Down, Farnborough, Kent’, but strong evidence supports dating the letter 1856 and interpreting the misaddress as a lapse.
The letter from Davy has not been found.
From November 1855 to January 1856 Davy was carrying out experiments on the ova of salmon that were a continuation of experiments originally suggested by CD and first reported on in J. Davy 1855 (J. Davy 1856; Correspondence vol. 5, letter from John Davy, 30 January 1855). On 10 January 1856, Davy sent CD a letter detailing the results; this was later published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (J. Davy 1856; see also Correspondence vol. 6, letter from John Davy, 10 January 1856).
Both J. Davy 1855 and J. Davy 1856 were written in the form of letters to CD, and forwarded by CD to the Royal Society of London. See Correspondence vol. 5, letter from John Davy, 21 March 1855, and letters to John Davy, 25 March [1855] and 26 March [1855], and Correspondence vol. 6, letter from John Davy, 10 January 1856.
CD refers to J. Davy 1855. The paper was read before the Royal Society on 26 April 1855. A summary appeared in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 7 (1854–5): 362, and the full version was published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 146 (1856): 21–9.
CD had attended the council meeting of the Royal Society on 20 December 1855 (Royal Society council minutes).


Davy, John. 1856. On the vitality of the ova of the Salmonidæ of different ages; in a letter addressed to Charles Darwin, Esq., M.A., V.P.R.S. &c. [Read 7 February 1856.] Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 8 (1856–7): 27–33.


Delighted to hear that JD’s research is continuing. CD has heard that JD’s paper will at last be published. He is flattered by the form [as a letter addressed to CD] of communication. [See 1651a and 1819a, published in Phil. Trans. R. S. 146 (1856): 21–9 and Proc. R. S. London 8 (1856–7): 27–33.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Davy
Sent from
Source of text
David Schulson (dealer) (Catalogue 61, 1991)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1816A,” accessed on 13 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13 (Supplement)