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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Dana   30 December [1859]

Down, Bromley, Kent

Dec. 30th

My dear Mr. Dana,

I am most truly & deeply grieved at the news in your letter.1 God grant that you may soon recover. When I think of the amount of labour which you have undergone my only wonder is that you have not broken down sooner. But one often hears of a year’s rest completely restoring the power of the brain.— Most regular medical men sneer at the Water-cure (I do not at all know whether it is adopted in the U. States) but I have tried it repeatedly & always with wonderfully good effects, but not permanent in my case. When I first tried it, I could not sleep & whatever I did in the day haunted me at night with vivid & most wearing repetition.2 The W. cure at once relieved this. It makes the skin act so vigorously that all other organs get a rest. For years I have been in your state, that an hour’s conversation worked me up to that degree that I wished myself dead. But then my head never ultimately suffers; for my peccant part is the stomach & fatigue of any kind always brings on great derangement & ultimately severe vomiting. So that the weak organ seems to save the more important one.— If you come to England I hope you will spare us a week & you need not fear being fatigued here; as I believe I should have to cry, “hold, enough” even before you would.—

You must not think of reading my book for a long time, as my friends tell me it is tough reading.3 It has been far more successful than I even dreamed of & has made some few first rate converts; but has been bitterly attacked. The difficulties are so great that I wonder I have made any converts, though of course I believe in truth of my own dogmas. Most sincerely for your own sake & for that of Natural Science do I hope for your speedy & entire recovery.

Believe me | Yours most truly | C. Darwin.


Dana’s letter has not been found, but see the preceding letter in which CD reports that he had received a letter with the news that Dana was ‘quite disabled in his head’.
CD first tried the water-cure in 1849 (see Correspondence vol. 4).
CD sent a presentation copy of Origin to Dana (see letter to J. D. Dana, 11 November [1859]).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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.


Grieved at JDD’s illness. Recommends water-cure. Describes his own illness.

The reception of Origin has been more successful than he dreamed.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
James Dwight Dana
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 143: 366
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2615,” accessed on 8 March 2021,

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