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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Leonard Jenyns   13 November [1859]

Wells Terrace | Ilkley, Otley | Yorkshire

Nov. 13th

My dear Jenyns

I must thank you for your very kind note forwarded to me from Down.—1 I have been much out of health this summer & have been hydropathising here, for last six weeks with very little good as yet.— I shall stay here for another fortnight at least.

Please remember that my Book is only an abstract & very much condensed & to be at all intelligible must be carefully read. I shall be very grateful for any criticisms. But I know perfectly well that you will not at all agree with the lengths which I go.2 It took long years to convert me.— I may of course be egregiously wrong; but I cannot persuade myself that a theory which explains (as I think it certainly does) several large classes of facts, can be wholly wrong; notwithstanding the several difficulties which have to be surmounted somehow, & which stagger me even to this day.

I wish that my health had allowed me to publish in extenso; if I ever get strong enough I will do so, as the greater part is written out, & of which M.S. the present volume is an abstract.—

I fear this note will be almost illegible; but I am poorly & can hardly sit up.

Farewell with thanks for your kind note & pleasant remembrances of good old days | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


Jenyns’s note has not been found. From CD’s letter, it appears that he had informed Jenyns that a copy of Origin would be sent to him shortly.
CD and Jenyns had discussed the transmutation of species as early as 1844 (see Correspondence vol. 3, letter to Leonard Jenyns, 25 [November 1844]). Jenyns was interested in the subject, having published a short paper on the variation of species (Jenyns 1856). He sent his notes on variation to CD early in 1858 (see letters to Leonard Jenyns, 18 April [1858] and [28 April 1858]).


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

Jenyns, Leonard. 1856. On the variation of species. Report of the 26th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Cheltenham, Transactions of the sections, pp. 101–5. [vols. 6,7,8]

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.


Invites criticisms of his book [Origin] which is "only an abstract & very much condensed". Knows LJ will not agree with the lengths to which CD goes. It took long years to convert CD, but he cannot persuade himself "that a theory which explains … several large classes of facts, can be wholly wrong".

Hopes to publish his full MS if he ever gets strong enough.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Leonard Jenyns/Leonard Blomefield
Sent from
Source of text
Scriptorium (dealers) (1981)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2528,” accessed on 21 July 2024,

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