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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Lubbock   5 September [1862]1

Cliff Cottage | Bournemouth

Sept 5th

My dear Lubbock

Many thanks for your pleasant note in return for all my stupid trouble.—2 I did not fully appreciate your insect-diving-case before your last note;3 nor had I any idea that the fact was new, though new to me. It is really very interesting. Of course you will publish an account of it.4 You will then say whether the insect can fly well through the air. My wife asked how did he find out that it stayed 4 hours under water without breathing; I answered at once “Mrs. Lubbock5 sat four hours watching”. I wonder whether I am right—

I long to be at home & at steady work, & I hope we may be in another month.6 I fear it is hopeless my coming to you, for I am squashier than ever, but hope two shower baths a day will give me a little strength:7 so that you will, I hope, come to us. It is an age since I have seen you, or any scientific friend.—

I heard from Lyell the other day in Isle of Wight & from Hooker in Scotland.8 About Huxley I know nothing; but I hope his Book progresses, for I shall be very curious to see it—9

I do nothing here except occasionally look at a few flowers; & there are very few here, for the country is wonderfully barren.

Ever dear Lubbock | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

See what it is to be well trained. Horace10 said to me yesterday, “if everyone would kill adders they would come to sting less”. I answered “of course they would, for there would be fewer”. He replied indignantly “I did not mean that; but the timid adders which run away would be saved, & in time they would never sting at all”   Natural selection of cowards!


The year is established by the relationship to the letter from John Lubbock, 23 August 1862, and to the letters to John Lubbock, 2 September [1862] and [3 September 1862] (see nn. 2 and 3, below).
Lubbock’s letter has not been found. In the letter to John Lubbock, 2 September [1862], CD asked Lubbock to observe how hive-bees sucked nectar from the flowers of common red clover, but he wrote again in his letter of [3 September 1862], explaining that he had made the request in error.
Lubbock told CD in his letter of 23 August 1862 of his discovery of a swimming hymenopterous insect; no subsequent letter has been found.
Lubbock read a paper on the subject in October 1862 at the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Cambridge (Lubbock 1862d); he described the species in Lubbock 1863a.
Ellen Frances Lubbock.
The Darwins were on holiday in Bournemouth; they returned to Down House on 30 September 1862 (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II)).
CD had attended hydropathic establishments periodically since 1849 (see Correspondence vols. 4, 6, 7, and 8). He also had a ‘douche’ erected in the garden at Down House in order to continue the cold-water treatment at home, but by 1853 he apparently no longer used it (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to Edward Cresy, 29 April [1853]). There were public baths and a sanatorium in Bournemouth (Post Office directory of Hampshire, Dorsetshire, and Wiltshire 1859, 1867).
T. H. Huxley 1863a. In his letter of [26–31 August 1862], Joseph Dalton Hooker told CD that Thomas Henry Huxley was at that time also in Scotland, at Loch Fyne.
Horace Darwin.


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

Post Office directory of Hampshire, Dorsetshire, and Wiltshire: Post Office directory of Hampshire, Dorsetshire, and Wiltshire. Post Office directory of Dorsetshire, Wiltshire, and Hampshire, including the Isle of Wight. London: Kelly & Co. 1848–75.


Finds JL’s facts on the diving insect that remains four hours under water new and interesting [see "On two aquatic Hymenoptera", Trans. Linn. Soc. Lond. 24 (1864): 135–42].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 263
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3713,” accessed on 28 July 2021,

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