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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Patrick Matthew   13 June [1862]1

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

June 13th

Dear Sir

I presume that I have the pleasure of addressing the Author of the work on Naval Architecture & the first enunciator of the theory of Natural Selection.2 Few things would give me greater pleasure than to see you; but my health is feeble & I have at present a son ill & can receive no one here, nor leave home at present.—3

I wish to come up to London as soon as I can; if, therefore you are going to stay for more than a week, would you be so kind as to let me hear, & if able to come up to London, I would endeavour to arrange an interview with you, which afford me high satisfaction;

with much respect, I remain Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship to the letter from Patrick Matthew, 3 December 1862, and by reference to Leonard Darwin’s illness (see n. 3, below).
In a letter to the Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 7 April 1860, Matthew claimed to have formulated a principle of natural selection in his book On naval timber and arboriculture (Matthew 1831). CD conceded the claim in a letter published in the Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 21 April 1860, pp. 362–3 (see Correspondence vol. 8, letter to Gardeners’ Chronicle, [13 April 1860]). Matthew was mentioned in the ‘Historical sketch’ published in the third edition of Origin as one of those who had, prior to the publication of Origin, enunciated ideas on species change (Origin 3d ed., pp. xiv–xv).
Leonard Darwin had been sent home from school on 12 June 1862 suffering from scarlet fever (see letter to W. E. Darwin, 13 [June 1862]). Matthew’s letter suggesting a meeting with CD has not been found; however, see the letter from Patrick Matthew, 3 December 1862.


It would be a pleasure to see "the first enunciator of the theory of Natural Selection" but his health makes it impossible. Hopes to come to London soon and would like to arrange an interview with PM if he is staying more than a week.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Patrick Matthew
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (Acc. 10963)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3600,” accessed on 20 June 2019,

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