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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Innes   6 September [1860]

Down Bromley Kent

Sept. 6th

Dear Innes

Many thanks for your kind enquiries about Etty. I am glad to be able to give a decidedly better account, though her progress is excessively slow. She now sits up several hours every day & has taken two or three very short drives. What is best of all is that the Doctors are now convinced there is no organic mischief.— We have had an unhappy Summer; but I hope the worst is over.— I am glad to have a pretty good account of your son; & I hope Mrs Innes is fairly well.1 My wife joins me in very kind remembrances to her.—

I hope you have not given up thinking about Down; though what house you could get, I cannot tell. I hear dreadful reports on the state of Mr. Ainslie’s house.—2 We were away from Down for an unusual time this summer, namely, six weeks; & have hardly seen a soul since our return;—except J. Lubbock to talk Natural History with. Every thing goes on much as usual. 〈I some〉times see Mr Phillips, 〈    〉 of 〈    〉.— 〈    〉 〈re〉membering my hobby of striped asses.3 I must say that I am a complete skeptic about the powers of rooks,—curious as your stories are.

What stories one hears about the spirit-rapping now-a-days— the old saying to believe nothing one hears & only half of what one sees is a golden rule.

Farewell | with every good wish. | 〈    〉4


John William Brodie Innes and Eliza Mary Innes.
Innes, perpetual curate of Down, had been unable to secure a house for his family in Down. Robert Ainslie, the owner of Tromer Lodge, had left the village late in 1858 (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to W. E. Darwin, 14 [May 1858] and n. 5).
William Walker Phillips lived at Down Hall farm (Post Office directory for the six home counties 1859). CD discussed the stripes of asses in Variation 1: 62–4, but Phillips is not cited.
CD’s signature has been excised.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Etty [Henrietta Darwin] much improved.

Reference to his "hobby of striped asses".

Sceptical of JBI’s "curious stories" on spirit-tapping: "believe nothing one hears & only half of what one sees".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Brodie Innes
Sent from
SP 7 60
Source of text
Cleveland Health Sciences Library
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2907,” accessed on 22 October 2019,

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