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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Lubbock   25 October 1862

15, Lombard Street. E.C.

25 Oct. 1862

My dear Mr. Darwin

I am very sorry to hear so bad an account of your health, as I had hoped that you were better.1 F. Galton said that you were coming to Cambridge, but I felt that that was too good to be true.2

I should dearly like to see you & have a good talk. Tomorrow, Next Sunday & the one after are engaged, so if you are well enough to see me I will come & dine with you, but had better go back home perhaps afterwards.

Friday next would suit me & you might let me know at the last moment if you felt well enough; I would hold myself disengaged & could come, or not, according to your feelings when the time arrived.3 Pray however do not overdo yourself.

You do not mention Mrs Darwin or the children, so I hope that they are well.4

Believe me always | Yours affectly | John Lubbock

P.S. Herbert Norman has found a celt of the “drift” type at Cudham.5 It is a surface specimen.

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘2o 31 in 10 [del ’not‘] sensitive’ pencil 6
Verso of last page: ‘10 10 16 9 11 6 10 10 6 — 88’ ink 7


Francis Galton was CD’s cousin. In 1862, the British Association for the Advancement of Science held its annual meeting in Cambridge from 1 to 8 October.
Emma Darwin recorded in her diary (DAR 242) that Lubbock dined at Down House on Friday 31 October 1862; she also noted: ‘Ch. attack of sickness in night but not so bad’.
Emma and Leonard Darwin had been ill with scarlet fever during the summer (see letters to John Lubbock, 21 August [1862] and 2 September [1862]).
Herbert George Henry Norman lived at Oakley, a village near to Down; Cudham is a village about two miles south-east of Down. Lubbock was actively engaged in prehistoric archaeology, and had recently written an article for the Natural History Review on the celts, or prehistoric flint implements, found by Jacques Boucher de Perthes, together with fossil remains of extinct species, in the Drift deposits of the Somme Valley (Lubbock 1862c). Lubbock cited Norman’s discovery of a celt in Lubbock 1865, pp. 274–5, noting that it had been found ‘near Greenstreet Green, a locality which is interesting as having produced remains, not only of the mammoth, but also of the musk ox.’
CD was studying the effects of various substances (chiefly poisons and narcotics) in modifying the responsiveness of plants. These annotations probably relate to CD’s experiment on Mimosa pudica, carried out on 27 October 1862; CD’s notes from the experiment record (DAR 209.2: 86): ‘I gave it at 2o. 30, thirty drops of Ether for 10 no effect; added 20 drops more & left it for 30, was then quite sensitive & petioles became depressed—’. See also letter from J. D. Hooker, 25 October 1862 and n. 2, and letter to J. D. Hooker, 27 [October 1862] and n. 5.
The tabulation probably represents a tally of seeds harvested from seed-pods of Lythrum salicaria; in October 1862, CD made several such tallies of the seed-pods resulting from his crossing experiments with this species (see the notes in DAR 27.2 (ser. 2)).


CD’s health is bad.

Would like to visit CD on Friday.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Lombard St, 15
Source of text
DAR 170: 32
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3781,” accessed on 29 November 2020,

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