skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. B. Innes   19 February [1862]1

Milton Brodie | Forres. | NB

Febry. 19th.

Dear Darwin,

You must not suppose we only think of you and yours when some fact of natural history turns up, for indeed we often think and speak of our kind friends in the South, and some times Stephens gives us a bulletin2   We were sorry the last reported some of your party indisposed3   I hope you have forgotten all about this long ago.

My gardener has got a bird the offspring of a male mule between a canary and green finch, and a hen canary. He says he is quite sure that papa was a mule, though he is not quite sure whether it was half greenfinch or chaffinch. It was reared by a labourer who was then in this garden, and he persisted in putting it with the canary in spite of all assurances that they would not breed, and this bird is the result. Probably you know plenty such cases, but it is new to me— If you want any thing looked after up here in Earth air or water tell me and we will do our little utmost.

We have had very mild weather no frost to Johnny’s sorrow as he wants to skate and has only had them on once for a short morning when rain came—4 today it has been quite warm.

We saw the announcement of Mrs Langton’s death.5 I know you were prepared for and expecting it and believe she had been in much suffering. We have been all as well as usual. Johnny has not tired of his home pursuits yet, and looks forward to some swimming in the sea when hot weather comes   He likes his tutor and works pretty willingly. Eliza is much as usual and has been once out to dinner, a mighty feat for her, but I fear she will not repeat it very often.6

You will be all gay with the Exhibition. We hear so much of it, that I suppose some of us at least must struggle up to see it before it closes.7

With all our best regards to your circle | Believe me Dear Darwin | Yours faithfully | J. B. Innes

CD annotations

End of letter: ‘11 10 14 | 2’ ink


The year is established by the reference to the death of Charlotte Langton, Emma Darwin’s sister (see n. 5, below).
Thomas Sellwood Stephens was the curate at Down (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1862). Innes, who was the incumbent of the parish, moved to his family’s ancestral home, Milton Brodie, near Forres, Scotland, in January 1862 (see letter from J. B. Innes, 2 January [1862], and letter to J. B. Innes, [3] January [1862]).
CD reported that three of his sons were ill in bed in the letter to J. B. Innes, [3] January [1862]. Subsequently, many more members of the household were afflicted with influenza (see letter to John Lubbock, 23 January [1862], and letter to J. B. Innes, 24 February [1862]).
Innes refers to his son, John William Brodie Innes.
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), Charlotte Langton died on 2 January 1862. Her death was announced in The Times, 6 January 1862, p. 1.
Innes refers to his wife, Eliza Mary Brodie Innes.
The International Exhibition opened at South Kensington on 1 May 1862 (The Times, 2 May 1862, pp. 11–12). Regular descriptions of the plans for the exhibition appeared in the London papers throughout the first half of 1862.


Post Office directory of the six home counties: Post Office directory of the six home counties, viz., Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex. London: W. Kelly & Co. 1845–78.


Reports on a bird, offspring of a male mule between a canary and greenfinch, and a hen canary.

Family news.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Brodie Innes
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Milton Brodie
Source of text
DAR 167.1: 8
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3454,” accessed on 22 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10