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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Mary Butler1   20 February [1859]2

Down Bromley Kent

Feb. 20th

My dear Miss Butler

I send you some autographs with a list of the men, as you, perhaps, would not know who were who. You will now be well stocked with the autographs of Naturals.

I made myself very pleasant at home with ghost stories & other plumes borrowed from you.—

I enjoyed my fortnight extremely at Moor Park, but if I were long exposed to the very pleasant temptation of sitting between Miss Craik & you, I wonder what I should not come to believe:3 Honeysuckles turning into oaks would be a mere trifle & new species springing up on every Railway embankment.

Will you tell Dr Lane that I found Etty looking as well & as fat as before her illness.4

Pray give my kindest remembrances to all the very pleasant party at Moor Park & believe me with much respect | My dear Miss Butler | Yours Truly obliged | Charles Darwin

Please to tell Lady Drysdale5 that I reached the Station only 14 minutes before the Train started & I should like to know when she will ever have such a triumph as that.—


Francis Darwin in his ‘Recollections’ (DAR 140: 86) states that CD ‘made friends at Moor Park with an Irish lady, a Miss Butler who amused him with bright anecdoty talk, & who used to be celebrated among us as having seen the ghost of her father when he didn't die. He used to tell how he made friends with Miss Butler through the fact that she like himself put salt on the table cloth to eat with her bread.’ Mary Butler was the unmarried elder sister of Richard Butler, vicar of Trim in Ireland.
The year is given by CD’s reference to Moor Park hydropathic establishment: 1859 was the only year in which CD visited the establishment in February.
CD had met Georgiana Marion Craik, the novelist, on earlier visits to Moor Park (see letter to Emma Darwin, [28 April 1858]).
Henrietta Emma Darwin had been a patient at Moor Park on several occasions in 1858. CD had probably discussed her recent bout of ill health with Edward Wickstead Lane during his stay.
Lady Drysdale was Lane’s mother-in-law.


‘Recollections’: Recollections of the development of my mind and character. By Charles Darwin. In Evolutionary writings, edited by James A. Secord. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2008.


Sends naturalists’ autographs.

Enjoyed fortnight at Moor Park.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Mary Butler
Sent from
Source of text
John Hay Library, Brown University (Albert E. Lownes Manuscript Collection, MS 84.2 (Box 3, Folder 37))
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2416,” accessed on 13 September 2023,

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