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Darwin Correspondence Project

From D. T. Ansted   17 April 1863

Athenæum Club | London

17 April 1863

My dear Darwin

I hoped to have seen Ransome to day in town but he has not called.1 He tells me that he is getting on well with his Company but gives no details and I suppose as he has not yet paid you the £100 he has agreed to find he has not yet realised anything himself.2

I fully believe that his present work will be profitable. It is highly spoken of by practical as well as theoretical men and if any Company with a sound foundation can succeed in paying anybody but the stock brokers and solicitors (may I add managers!) I think this should.

I can quite see that your Solicitors would advise you that if a man is fool enough to run risks he must take the consequences—3 I can also feel that in being contented to take a part of what you can legally claim you are performing a good natured & perhaps your lawyers may say a very unwise & unnecessary piece of Quixotism.

In my case however I have been so uniformly unlucky in every thing I ever undertook that had an appearance of business that I have almost lost the right of appealing for consideration. I must be utterly without judgment and suppose I ought to suffer. That I have for years suffered and shall for years to come continue to suffer is certain for everything without exception that I ever touched is either absolutely worthless or more frequently a terrible incumbrance that I cannot shake off

If in this case of Ransome’s I can ever realise anything however small I will engage to give you the full benefit. If I do not I really dare not promise much. I know you have the power to put me to the greatest inconvenience & I ask you to let me enter into some arrangement that would involve your destroying the terrible deed   If it can be so I shall be extremely grateful. Should I or you die unexpectedly this deed might be a very serious matter for me. Will you be contented to take my assurance in any form that you shall have a claim on any interest or capital arising from any Company connected with Ransome’s patents in which I have shares? This I would give cheerfully. I would most willingly pay you money but I really have no available means.

Above all however I should like to feel that the deed was no longer in existence though I suppose it is too much to expect that it should be given up without something definite being paid for it.4

I am sure you will sympathise with my great trouble in this matter and tell me more clearly your ultimatum

Yours always | D. T. Ansted.

C Darwin Esq.


The reference is to Frederick Ransome, Ansted’s partner in the Patent Siliceous Stone Company (see n. 2, below).
See CD memorandum, 14 February 1863, letter from D. T. Ansted, 13 April 1863 and n. 1, and letter to D. T. Ansted, 15 April 1863.
See letter to D. T. Ansted, 15 April 1863. CD’s solicitor was William Mackmurdo Hacon (Freeman 1978).
See letter to D. T. Ansted, 15 April 1863 and n. 4. The bond to which Ansted refers was returned to Ansted (see letter from D. T. Ansted, 23 April 1863).


Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978. Charles Darwin: a companion. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.


Was unable to see Ransome [to find out whether DTA’s shares in the patent had earned any income so he could repay CD] but believes Ransome’s work will be profitable. Bemoans his own constant financial misfortune and asks CD to give up the deed of his loan to him, on the promise that if the shares ever yield any income, CD will be paid.

Letter details

Letter no.
David Thomas Ansted
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Athenaeum Club
Source of text
DAR 159: 75
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4104,” accessed on 22 October 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11