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Darwin Correspondence Project

To James Paget   [15 October – 19 November 1859]1

Well Terrace | Ilkley, Otley, | Yorkshire


Dear Paget

Your kind note of the 9th has been forwarded to me here,2 where I am hydropathising & trying to resuscitate my health.

It was extremely kind in you to bear in mind my strong wish to learn any facts on inheritance at corresponding ages,3 & on correlation of growth.—4

Your case of teeth affected by syphilitic parents seems very curious; & whenever in the winter, we meet, I shd. very much like to hear a few particulars, but I would not any account wish you to take the trouble of writing them down.—

With very sincere thanks, Believe me Yours very truly | C. Darwin


The first Saturday that CD could have written from this address (the house in Ilkley rented for the family) was 15 October 1859. He moved back to the hydropathic establishment in Ilkley Wells House on Thursday, 24 November, after Emma Darwin returned to Down (Emma Darwin’s diary).
Paget’s letter has not been located. Paget, who was a surgeon at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, had been elected a member of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society in April 1858 at the same meeting that CD joined the committee of the club (Philosophical Club minutes, Royal Society).
Paget’s paper on the inheritance and manifestation of cancer at similar ages (Paget 1857) is cited by CD several times in Variation.
CD’s definition of ‘correlation of growth’ appears in Origin, p. 143: ‘I mean by this expression that the whole organisation is so tied together during its growth and development, that when slight variations in any one part occur, and are accumulated through natural selection, other parts become modified.’


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.

Paget, James. 1857. On the hereditary transmission of tendencies to cancerous and other tumours. Medical Times and Gazette n.s. 15: 191–3.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Thanks JP for bearing in mind his strong wish to learn any facts on inheritance at corresponding ages, and on correlation of growth.

JP’s case of teeth affected by syphilitic parents seems very curious. Would like to hear a few particulars when they meet.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
James Paget, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
Wellcome Collection (MS.5703/27)
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2500,” accessed on 7 June 2023,

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