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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Edward Cresy   13 September 1862

Riverhead— Kent

13 Sept ’62—

My dear Sir.

As we are making our annual sojourn with my mother1 I should certainly have availed myself of the opportunity of paying my respects to you but learn with regret that Mrs Darwin has been Seriously ill with fever—& have therefore not ventured to walk over until I should have heard from you—2 Not that I have the slightest fear of contagion or infection— my experience has shewn me that a well fed healthy person runs very little danger when coming immediately from & returning shortly to the fresh air—but I know that when you have illness in the house even a casual call sometimes deranges the invalid—but I sincerely hope to hear a favorable account as well as of your 3d son who if I remember rightly you told me was at Southampton for his health—3

I am greatly luxuriating in the simple luxury of having nothing to do— Last session was a very laborious one for me4 and I felt regularly done up without having anything the matter with me—but having been to Frant near Tunbridge W〈ells〉 〈    〉 Hastings I feel like a giant refreshed— How glad I should be to hear you give the same account of yourself— I fear the amount of sickness you & your family have suffered the last few months can have left you but little time for work—but trust you are now able to resume your pen.

I have long been looking for your memoir on Drosera—5 Walter White has recently introduced me to your Linnæan Secretary—6 how is it he has advanced so little towards the Origin of Species? I should have thought you & Dr Hooker7 irresistable in that quarter—

Pray tell Mrs Darwin how much we regretted to learn of her attack & assure her of our sincere wishes for her recovery— We hope your daughter maintains the wonderful improvement we saw in her—8

Yours very truly | E Cresy—

Charles Darwin Esq—


Eliza Cresy lived at Riverhead, near Sevenoaks, Kent, about seven miles south-east of Down (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1862). Edward Cresy had stayed with CD in September 1860, on his way home to Ham Moor, Surrey, from his mother’s house (see Correspondence vol. 8, letter to Edward Cresy, 25 August [1860], and ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II)), and had visited CD again on 30 August 1861 (see Correspondence vol. 9, ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II)).
Emma Darwin became ill with scarlet fever on 13 August 1862 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
The reference is probably to CD’s fourth son, Leonard Darwin, who had been ill with scarlet fever since June 1862. See letter to H. C. Watson, 8 [August 1862], and letter to A. R. Wallace, 20 August [1862].
Cresy was principal assistant clerk at the Metropolitan Board of Works.
At the time of Cresy’s visit to Down House in September 1860, CD had been observing the response of the insectivorous plant Drosera rotundifolia to various substances (see Correspondence vol. 8, letters to Daniel Oliver, 11 September [1860] and 15 [September 1860]). Cresy assisted CD’s research by putting him in contact with the organic chemist, August Wilhelm von Hofmann (see ibid., letters from A. W. von Hofmann to Edward Cresy, 13 October 1860 and 27 October 1860, and letter from Edward Cresy, 30 October 1860). Although CD reported his preliminary results at a meeting of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society of London on 21 February 1861, he postponed undertaking experiments to confirm his results (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to Daniel Oliver, 11 September [1861], and Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix IV). CD carried out further experiments in September 1862 (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 26 September [1862]); however, his work on this subject was not published until 1875 (Insectivorous plants).
Walter White was librarian and an assistant secretary at the Royal Society of London (DNB). The botanical and zoological secretaries at the Linnean Society of London were, respectively, Frederick Currey and George Busk; however, Cresy apparently refers to the society’s librarian, Richard Kippist, who performed some administrative duties (see, for example, List of the Linnean Society of London 1862). See also letter to Edward Cresy, 15 September [1862].
Joseph Dalton Hooker.
Cresy refers to Henrietta Emma Darwin, who was seriously ill when Cresy visited Down House in September 1860 (see Correspondence vol. 8, ‘Journal’ (Correspondence, vol. 10, Appendix II)); when Cresy visited in August 1861, Henrietta’s condition was improved (see Correspondence vol. 9, ‘Journal’ (Correspondence, vol. 10, Appendix II), and letter to J. D. Hooker, 30 August [1861] and n. 6).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.

List of the Linnean Society of London. London: [Linnean Society of London]. 1805–1939.

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.


Walter White [Asst.-Sec. and Librarian, Royal Society] has introduced EC to Richard Kippist of the Linnean Society, who has made little progress toward accepting Origin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Edward Cresy, Jr
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 161.2: 240
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3719,” accessed on 23 October 2019,

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