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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Phillips   8 February [1859]1

Moor Park Hydropathic Estab. | Farnham Surrey

Feb. 8th

My dear Phillips

I tried my best to put off coming here, but I had such repeated & serious attacks, spending day after day partly in bed, that I had to give up & come here.2 I am sorry, very sorry to say that the Medical man here urges me most strongly not to expose myself to the excitement & fatigue of receiving the Medal.—3 I assure you that this has annoyed me much for my own vanity’s sake & still more for its ungracious appearance. But no one can think that I am insensible to the great honour & mark of sympathy which the Council & you have shown me.— I will ask Lyell to receive the medal for me, if he attends if not, perhaps you will find some one else to receive it for me.4 I am much annoyed, but it cannot be helped; I held out as long as I could.—

Pray do not trouble yourself to acknowledge this.—

My dear Philips | Yours very sincerely obliged | Ch. Darwin

P.S | I have been much perplexed about Scope’s paper, but have reported to the best of my judgment.—5


The year is given by the reference to CD receiving the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society.
CD was at Moor Park hydropathic establishment from 5 to 19 February 1859 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
Edward Wickstead Lane was the proprietor of Moor Park.
Charles Lyell did agree to accept the Wollaston Medal on CD’s behalf at the anniversary meeting of the Geological Society on 18 February 1859. In making the award, Phillips stated: ‘To no one can the Medal which is destined for Mr. Darwin be committed with so much justice as to yourself, who, like him, … have always looked on the phænomena of nature with a comprehensive survey, a minute attention, and a just appreciation of the dignity of our science.’ In accepting the medal on CD’s behalf, Lyell replied: ‘I have been requested by him to acknowledge his gratitude for the high honour conferred on him, which, he says, comes the more unexpectedly because the state of his health has made it impossible for him to attend the meetings of the Society, or to have intercourse with its members as frequently as he could have wished.’ (Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 15 (1859), Proceedings, pp. xxiii–xxiv).
CD’s referee’s report on Scrope 1859 has not been found. George Julius Poulett Scrope’s paper supported Lyell’s theory of the origin of volcanic craters.


Scrope, George Poulett. 1859. On the mode of formation of volcanic cones and craters. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 15: 505–49.


His doctor urges CD most strongly not to expose himself to the excitement and fatigue of receiving the [Wollaston] Medal. He will ask Lyell to receive it on his behalf.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Phillips
Sent from
Moor Park
Source of text
Oxford University Museum of Natural History Archive Collections (John Phillips collection))
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2410,” accessed on 24 May 2024,

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