skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Frederick Watkins1   30 July [1860]2

Down, Bromley, Kent [Hartfield]

July 30

My Dear Watkins.

Your note gave me real pleasure3    Leading the retired life which I do with bad health I oftener think of old times than most men probably do; and your face now rises before me, with the pleasant old expression as vividly as if I saw you.

My book has been well abused, praised and splendidly quizzed by the Bishop of Oxford,4 but from what I see of its influence on really good workers in science, I feel confident that in the main I am on the right road—   With respect to your question I think the arguments are valid, showing that all animals have descended from four or five primordial forms; and that analogy & weak reasons go to show that all have descended from some single prototype.

Farewell my old friend. I look back to old Cambridge days with unallowed pleasure.

Believe me | Yours most sincerely. | Charles Darwin.


Watkins had attended Shrewsbury School and Cambridge University with CD (see Correspondence vol. 1, letter from Frederick Watkins, 18 September 1831, and letter to Frederick Watkins, 18 August 1832). After graduating Watkins took holy orders and served as Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools in Rotherham, Yorkshire until 1874, when he became archdeacon of York.
Dated by the reference to Samuel Wilberforce’s review of Origin ([Wilberforce] 1860).
Watkins’s letter has not been found.


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.

[Wilberforce, Samuel.] 1860. [Review of Origin.] Quarterly Review 108: 225–64.


Though his book [Origin] has been abused and criticised as well as praised, its effect on good workers in science convinces him that in the main he is on the right road.

In reply to FW’s question, CD says his [CD’s] arguments are valid that all animals are descended from four or five primordial forms; analogy and weak reasons go to show they have descended from some single prototype.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Frederick Watkins
Sent from
Hartfield Down letterhead
Source of text
DAR 148
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2884,” accessed on 24 November 2020,

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