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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Lubbock   21 August [1862]1

1. Carlton Terrace | Southampton

Aug. 21.

My dear Lubbock

How long it is since we have had any communication. I want very much to hear some news of you & of Mrs Lubbock.—2 I heard indirectly that your tour was very successful.—3 Do write me a note about yourself.—

We have been a very unhappy family, since you went, with Leonard fearfully ill from the effect of Scarlet-fever; & now, here, (on our Journey to Bournemouth where our other children are) Mrs. Darwin has been struck with Scarlet-Fever.4 Her attack has been pretty severe, but she is now recovering. When we shall move I hardly know. We are lucky to be in William’s House. William seems a comfortable old Man of Business & has sole charge for a fortnight of the Bank!!! Mr Atherley being in London.—5 “Atherley & Darwin” in big letters on the Bank looks very grand.—

I have done hardly anything in science for an age; except beginning to make out a marvellous case of trimorphism like Primula, but far more complex, with two kinds in each flower of three kinds.—6

Farewell, my dear Lubbock, I suppose our troubles will some day end.

Yours affecty | C. Darwin

I enclose a prospectus.7 I formerly knew the man & a very clever fellow he was. It is a real case of distress & I have helped him occasionally during several years—8


The year is established by the relationship to the letter from John Lubbock, 23 August 1862.
Lubbock visited Switzerland in July and early August 1862, spending ten days mountaineering with Thomas Henry Huxley and John Tyndall, before travelling to examine the remains of prehistoric lake-dwellings, the recent discovery and examination of which he had described in a paper for the January number of the Natural History Review (Lubbock 1862b). See Hutchinson 1914, 1: 55–6, John Lubbock’s diary (British Museum, Add. Ms. 62679: 64 r.), and the letter from John Lubbock, 23 August 1862.
In 1861, John Lubbock had helped to arrange William Erasmus Darwin’s partnership with George Atherley in the Southampton and Hampshire Bank, Southampton (see Correspondence vol. 9).
CD refers to his work on Lythrum salicaria (see letter to Asa Gray, 9 August [1862] and n. 9).
The enclosure has not been found.
The reference is apparently to William Charles Linnaeus Martin (see letter from John Lubbock, 23 August 1862 and n. 10). As superintendent of the museum of the Zoological Society of London between 1830 and 1838, Martin had described some of CD’s mammal specimens from the Beagle voyage, presented by CD to the society (Martin 1837). In later years, he was reported to have ‘suffered many severe afflictions’ (Gentleman’s Magazine n.s. 16 (1864): 536). According to CD’s Classed account book (Down House MS), CD made a charitable donation of £15 to ‘Mr Martin’ on 20 August 1862. CD had previously made two donations to Martin, each of £5 5s., on 9 June and 19 December 1857.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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

Martin, William Charles Linnaeus. 1837. Observations on three specimens of the genus Felis presented to the Society by Charles Darwin, Esq. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 5: 3–4.


Leonard Darwin’s illness.

William Darwin and the bank.

Beginning to make out a marvellous case of trimorphism.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 261.7: 4 (EH 88205929)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3693,” accessed on 20 March 2023,

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