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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Griffin & Co.1   29 January [1860]2

Down Bromley Kent

Jan. 29th


Absence from home has prevented my returning your M.S. earlier.3

Part was so inaccurate & there was so important an omission, that I have had a new copy made. If too long you can easily strike your pen through any part.—

Sir | Your obent sert | Charles Darwin

I return your own M.S. that you may see alterations.—4


Darwin, Charles. M.A. Cantab. F.R.S an eminent naturalist, is distinguished both as an author and a man of Science. He accompanied Capt. FitzRoy in his voyage round the world in H.M.S Beagle during the years 1831 to 1836.—6 His Journal first appeared in 1839 as part of the general narrative of the voyage, and was subsequently republished in a modified form under the title of Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology of the countries visited by the Beagle. In 1842 his work on the Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs appeared, which was followed by two Volumes, namely, his Geological Observations on Volcanic Islands and in 1846 on South America. Since this period he has contributed several papers to the Geological Transactions and to other scientific periodicals.7 His chief contribution to Zoology is the “Monograph on the Family Cirripedia” in two large volumes in which he points out many curious and interesting particulars in relation to the history and economy of the barnacles and sea-acorns, and furnishes a minute description of every known species of the Family. He has recently (November 1859) published a work entitled “The Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life;” this volume, as stated in the introduction, gives only in a condensed form the result of more than twenty years study; and will hereafter be followed by more detailed treatise on the same subject.8 Mr Darwin’s writings exhibit close observation and untiring industry in collecting and arranging facts. As a geologist he stands in one of the highest ranks and was for some time Secretary to the Geological Society. As a Zoologist he is, though learned, very cautious in arriving at conclusions without possessing sufficient data;9 while his style is so clear that it at once affords pleasure to the student and information to the professor.10


The recipient was the proprietor of the publishing firm Richard Griffin and Co. It was based in London, having moved from Glasgow in 1848.
The date is inferred from the publication of [Griffin] ed. 1861.
Charles Griffin intended to include an entry on CD in his forthcoming Dictionary of contemporary biography ([Griffin] ed. 1861). He had sent a provisional entry to CD (see n. 4, below).
Griffin’s manuscript, bearing CD’s corrections, was returned with the letter. It is in the British Library (Add. 28509: 410). CD also enclosed a fair copy of the new text (see enclosure).
The enclosure, which is a fair copy of the revised text, is bound with the letter and Griffin’s original manuscript in the British Library (Add. 28509: 409). It is in the hand of an amanuensis, with minor corrections and alterations in CD’s hand.
In the published version, the first two sentences were altered to read: ‘Darwin Charles. M.A. Cantab. F.R.S., an eminent naturalist and author. When a very young man he accompanied Captain Fitzroy in his voyage round the world, in H.M.S. “Beagle,” during the years 1831–1836.’ ([Griffin] ed. 1861, p. 122).
The original wording of this section reads (British Library (Add. 28509: 410)): His “Journal of Researches into the Geology and Natural History of the Various Countries visited by H.M.S. Beagle” was published in 1839. In 1846 his “Geological Observations on South America” was published; and from time to time he contributed a great number of papers to the Geological Society and to the “Magazine of Natural History”. But his profoundest and most philosophic work is the “Monograph of the Family Cirripedia”.
The sentence about Origin was added by CD to Griffin’s manuscript, which did not refer to the book.
The original reads: ‘unimpractable data’.
The two final sentences were not included in the published version. Instead, the text reads ([Griffin] ed. 1861, pp. 122–3): Mr. Darwin, although he has adopted conclusions contested by other naturalists, has always been very cautious in arriving at results without sufficient data. He is a clear and elegant writer; and his works, independently of their scientific value, are written in a style well calculated to render them highly attractive.


[Griffin, Charles], ed. 1861. A dictionary of contemporary biography: a handbook of the peerage of rank, worth, and intellect. Containing memoirs of nearly one thousand eminent living individuals. London and Glasgow.

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.


Returns MS [of biography for Dictionary of contemporary biography (1861)]. Part was inaccurate, and there was an important omission so CD has had a new copy made.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Griffin
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Add MS 28509: 408)
Physical description
1p, encl 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2667,” accessed on 8 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8