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Darwin Correspondence Project

From S. P. Woodward   5 June 1863


June 5/63

Dear Sir

I forward a note received this morning from an excellent & amiable friend of mine at Cirencester—1 Tho’ nothing new, you may be pleased to see what he writes. A week ago when he called here (& gave me some eggs of the Teleosaurus, from sub-aërial beds of the Bath oolite)2 I told him of your book on Orchids—& as he was fonder of watching insects than of sweeping for them with a net—I posted a copy of my account of your researches—3 He is a man of leisure—a good ornithologist &c & has a capital garden & greenhouse—4

In your last letter to me you expressed great & very natural indignation at the tricks played upon Prof. Buckman in the matter of his experiments on “Species” of plants—5 But perhaps if you were of the age, & in the circumstances of those boys you would not wonder at what happened— When a conjurer says he will make a pancake in your hat, or develope a guinea-pig in it (without even the aid of “sarcode”)6—a boy naturally feels inclined to take in the conjurer—if possible   I don’t care to scrawl all I have seen in this unlucky business—but you know To⁠⟨⁠mes⁠⟩⁠ (“the Bat”!) & he knows one of the delinquents.7 The only point of any practical consequence is the value of certain observations—& I have seen reason to believe that they are—nil.

I have just been writing a long notice of Bates’ capital book—but I can’t see that he has done much to help the doctrine of “transmutation”.8

I went to Sandhurst on Wedy. & so escaped the great “jaw”9—at which every bad speaker felt bound to distinguish himself by talking (vulgo10) “rot” JC. Natal being present—11 Mr J. Evans protested himself unconverted to the last.12

My brother Henry has just returned from a dredging excursion with Mr McAndrew, to Corunna bay—13 They experienced several delays at Bilbao & Santander—& lost 2 dredges by getting among the rocks. But the only new data obtained (that I have learned) are additional instances of “peculiar Mediterranean” forms occurring on the Atlantic coast—

Dr Duncan’s Coral paper strengthens my belief in the (general) diffusion of marine forms Westward, in the course of time—14 Our Miocene may be Caribbean Pliocene—& Pacific Holocene (only I wouldn’t coin a word to save my life)15

I took a slip of paper that I might not bore you, with much ado about nothing— Alas! for the best intentions—

Yours sincerely | S. P. Woodward

Chas. Darwin Esqre.


The note has not been found. The reference may be to the educationalist Thomas Barwick Lloyd Baker of Hardwicke Court, near Cirencester, Gloucestershire (see n. 4, below).
Teleosaurus is a genus of crocodilian reptiles belonging to the oolitic epoch (a division of the Jurassic period) (EB).
Woodward apparently refers to the review of Orchids in the Critic 23 (1862): 10–12; according to his biographer, Woodward wrote most of the reviews of science books in this journal between 17 March 1860 and 1 August 1863 (see Woodward 1881, pp. 279 and 301 n.).
See n. 1, above. In 1846, Baker and Woodward were founding members of the Cotteswold Naturalists’ Field Club in Cirencester (Woodward 1881, p. 288); Baker was one of the few early members of the club with an interest in ornithology (see Proceedings of the Cotteswold Naturalists’ Field Club 1: 101).
The letter has not been found; it was probably a reply to Woodward’s letter to CD of 14 February 1863, which discussed malicious interference by students in some of James Buckman’s experiments at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester.
Sarcode: ‘the protoplasm of animals’ (OED).
Woodward apparently refers to the review of Bates 1863 that appeared in the Critic 25 (1863): 356–8; see n. 3, above.
Woodward refers to the meeting of the Geological Society of London on 3 June 1863, at which Joseph Prestwich read a paper discussing a human jaw and teeth that had been found in March 1863 at Moulin-Quignon quarry, near Abbeville, France (Prestwich 1863). The jaw was believed by a number of French naturalists, including Jacques Boucher de Perthes and Armand de Quatrefages, to date from the post-Pliocene (Pleistocene) period. On examining flint implements found with the jaw, Prestwich initially concluded that they were forgeries, a finding that cast doubt on the authenticity of the jaw itself. However, after attending an international meeting in Paris to decide this question, Prestwich became convinced of the specimens’ authenticity (see J. Prestwich 1863). Prestwich’s associate, John Evans, remained unconvinced. See Grayson 1983, pp. 213–17, and Van Riper 1993, pp. 134–9.
Vulgo: ‘commonly, popularly’ (OED).
John William Colenso, bishop of Natal.
See n. 9, above.
Henry Woodward was a member of Robert M’Andrew’s dredging expedition off the coast of Spain in May 1863 (M’Andrew and Woodward 1864).
On 6 May 1863, Peter Martin Duncan read the first part of his paper, ‘On the fossil corals of the West Indian Islands’ (P. M. Duncan 1863–7), before the Geological Society.
The word ‘holocene’ was coined in 1860 by Paul Gervais, to describe the period in which the most recent geological formations originated (EB).


Bates, Henry Walter. 1863. The naturalist on the River Amazons. A record of adventures, habits of animals, sketches of Brazilian and Indian life, and aspects of nature under the equator, during eleven years of travel. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

Duncan, Peter Martin. 1863–7. On the fossil corals of the West Indian Islands. [Read 6 May and 18 November 1863, 11 May 1864, and 4 December 1867.] Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 19 (1863): 406–58; 20 (1864): 20–44, 358–74; 24 (1868): 9–33.

EB: The Encyclopædia Britannica. A dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information. 11th edition. 29 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1910–11.

Grayson, Donald K. 1983. The establishment of human antiquity. New York: Academic Press.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

Prestwich, Joseph. 1863. On the section at Moulin Quignon, Abbeville, and on the peculiar character of some of the flint implements recently discovered there. [Read 3 June 1863.] Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 19: 497–505.

Royal Society catalogue of scientific papers: Catalogue of scientific papers (1800–1900). Compiled and published by the Royal Society of London. 19 vols. and index (3 vols.). London: Royal Society of London. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1867–1925.

Van Riper, A. Bowdoin. 1993. Men among the mammoths: Victorian science and the discovery of human prehistory. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Woodward, Horace B. 1881. A memoir of Dr S. P. Woodward ALS, FGS, &c., with a list of his published papers. [Read 26 April 1881.] Transactions of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society 3 (1879–84): 279–312.


Has been writing a notice of H. W. Bates’s "capital book" [Naturalist on the river Amazons (1863)].

P. M. Duncan’s coral paper [J. Geol. Soc. Lond. 29 (1863): 406–58] strengthens SPW’s belief in the general diffusion of marine forms westward in the course of time.

Letter details

Letter no.
Samuel Pickworth Woodward
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
British Museum
Source of text
DAR 181: 155
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4204,” accessed on 10 December 2022,

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