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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. F. W. Herschel   11 November [1859]

Down Bromley Kent [Ilkley]

Nov. 11th.

My dear Sir John Herschel

I have taken the liberty of directing Murray to send you a copy of my book on the Origin of species, with the hope that you may still retain some interest on this question.— I know that I ought to apologise for troubling you with the volume & with this note (which requires no acknowledgment) but I cannot resist the temptation of showing in this feeble manner my respect, & the deep obligation, which I owe to your Introduction to Natural Philosophy.1 Scarcely anything in my life made so deep an impression on me: it made me wish to try to add my mite to the accumulated store of natural knowledge

With much respect | I beg leave to remain | Yours sincerely | Charles Darwin


Herschel 1831. CD read the work soon after it was published (Correspondence vol. 1, letter to W. D. Fox, [15 February 1831]), and his annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL. CD referred to the great influence this work had had on him in Autobiography, pp. 67–8.


Autobiography: The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809–1882. With original omissions restored. Edited with appendix and notes by Nora Barlow. London: Collins. 1958.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Herschel, John Frederick William. 1831. A preliminary discourse on the study of natural philosophy. In Dionysius Lardner’s Cabinet cyclopædia. London. [Vols. 1,2,6,7,8,9]


Sends a copy of Origin as a measure of his respect and in recognition of the obligation he feels he owes to JFWH’s book [A preliminary discourse on the study of natural philosophy (1831)]. "Scarcely anything in my life made so deep an impression on me."

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Frederick William Herschel, 1st baronet
Sent from
Ilkley Down letterhead
Source of text
Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2517,” accessed on 23 July 2024,

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