skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Lubbock   24 June [1861]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

June 24th.

My dear Lubbock

I should have written before had I had any definite news to tell you about the Southampton affair.2 There have been delays of all sorts; but I hope & think all is settled. William is gone down today to Southampton with an accountant & as I think we understand each other at last, I fully believe & hope all will be in a few days definitely settled.3 Mr. A. demurs about guaranteeing the £500 per annum, & has certainly rather changed his mind;4 but as my solicitor thought that this was too much to expect beyond the three or four first years, of course I shall give up.5 This is the one point alone not settled. William has become quite anxious for success; & I fully expect will work hard & make a good man of business & do you credit.— We shall always feel grateful to you for your great kindness to us in every possible way about this affair.— I think there is every prospect of its turning out a capital affair for William.—

We hope to start next Monday for Torquay.6 I wish I had any news to tell you, but I have literally not seen a soul; nor had any interesting letters. I heard indeed from Hooker chiefly about Botanists & Bot. matter.— He gives a very poor account of Mrs. Huxley,7 as he saw H. at Club, where 25 dined.—8 I heard also from Falconer who has brought (for me, but I have refused) a live blind Proteus from caves of Adelsburgh.9 He says he met many interested about Natural Selection & origin of species.— I have been very desultory in my work of late & have been chiefly dissecting orchids & shall draw up my paper whilst at sea-side.—10

I sincerely hope that you are enjoying yourself; anyhow you have splendid weather.11 If you see Forchammer give him my kind remembrances, & pray present my respects to Steenstrup & say that I have not forgotten his extreme kindness in sending me cirripeds.12

Farewell   give my kind remembrances to Busk.13 This is dreadfully dull note. Farewell | My dear Lubbock | Yours most truly | C. Darwin

I hear very good accounts of your Brother.—14 Grand doings, I heard, at the wedding.—15


Dated by the reference to the Darwins’ holiday in Torquay (see n. 5, below).
The ‘Southampton affair’ concerned the arrangements to secure a partnership in a Southampton bank for William Erasmus Darwin. See letters to W. E. Darwin, [25 May 1861], [26 May 1861], and 1 [June 1861], and to John Lubbock, [25 May 1861] and 1 [June 1861].
At an early stage in the negotiations, Lubbock suggested that before William signed the articles of partnership, the bank’s account books ‘would have to be carefully examined by Lawyer & accountant’ (see letter to W. E. Darwin, [26 May 1861]).
George Atherley was a partner in the Southampton and Hampshire Bank.
CD’s solicitor was William Mackmurdo Hacon of the London firm Rowland & Hacon.
The Darwins left for an eight-week holiday in Torquay on 1 July 1861 (see ‘Journal’; Appendix II).
The Philosophical Club of the Royal Society had met on 20 June 1861. CD, Joseph Dalton Hooker, and Thomas Henry Huxley were all members; Lubbock had been elected to the club in November 1860. The June meeting was the last time that members dined at the Thatched House Tavern on St James’ Street, which closed later in 1861. See Bonney 1919, pp. 54, 55.
CD began writing his paper on orchids while in Torquay (see ‘Journal’; Appendix II). Although he originally intended to publish the material in the journal of the Linnean Society, CD in fact issued it as a book in 1862 (Orchids).
Lubbock was in Denmark, examining some of the sites of ancient human habitation known as ‘Kjökkenmöddings’ (kitchen-middens). He contributed an account of his findings to the August issue of the Natural History Review (Lubbock 1861c).
Lubbock visited both Johan Georg Forchhammer, professor of geology at the University of Copenhagen, and Johannes Japetus Smith Steenstrup, professor of zoology, during his visit to Denmark. The two were members, along with the archaeologist Jens Jacob Worsaae, of a committee formed to study the geology, biology, and archaeology of the Danish shell-heaps and grave mounds. Forchhammer and Steenstrup had assisted CD with his study of fossil and living cirripedes (see Correspondence vols. 4, 5, and 7, Supplement).
George Busk accompanied Lubbock to Denmark to study the ancient crania found in the various mounds (see Lubbock 1861c, p. 494).
Montagu Lubbock, John Lubbock’s nineteen-year-old brother, was convalescing after suffering a serious injury in a carriage accident (Hutchinson 1914, 1: 178).
Nevile Lubbock, aged twenty-two, married Harriet Charlotte Wood on 18 June 1861 (Gentleman’s Magazine, July 1861, p. 82).


Bonney, T. G. 1919. Annals of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society written from its minute books. London: Macmillan.

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

Hutchinson, Horace Gordon. 1914. Life of Sir John Lubbock, Lord Avebury. 2 vols. London: Macmillan.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.


There have been delays, but William Darwin’s banking position is nearly settled.

Is going to Torquay, where he will write up his work on orchids.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 263: 40d (EH 88206453)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3195,” accessed on 27 October 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9