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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Thomas Whitley   20 June [1863]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

June 20th

My dear Whitley

I was sincerely glad to receive your note & have news of you;2 for I often think of old days at Cambridge, when I took long walks with the expectant senior wrangler & when he instructed me in Engravings.—3

I thank you cordially for your kind invitation; but my health has been so bad for several years that I have been unable to attend the British Association, & have no hopes for this year.4 In fact for the last two years I have led the life of a hermit, seeing no one & going nowhere; & doing nothing but two or three hours work daily on my good days at natural History. I am become that most wretched & despicable object, a confirmed valetudinarian. I have much, very much, to be thankful for in life; but everyone has his heavy drawbacks & my own health & even more that of my children is our sore drawback. For years we have had one or other of our children invalids. But I have said enough & more than enough.—

Again I thank you sincerely for your kind remembrance of me, & with hearty good wishes, remain | My dear Whitley | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science; the allusion is apparently to the meeting that took place in Newcastle in 1863 (see n. 4, below).
Whitley’s letter has not been found.
CD and Whitley were contemporaries at Shrewsbury School and Cambridge University; Whitley was senior wrangler (that is, first in the final mathematical examination) in 1830 (Alum. Cantab., Correspondence vol. 1).
It appears that Whitley had written to CD concerning the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science for 1863 to be held in Newcastle-upon-Tyne from 26 August to 2 September (Report of the 33d meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, p. 1); Whitley was vicar of Bedlington, Northumberland, about twelve miles north of Newcastle (Alum. Cantab.).


Alum. Cantab.: Alumni Cantabrigienses. A biographical list of all known students, graduates and holders of office at the University of Cambridge, from the earliest times to 1900. Compiled by John Venn and J. A. Venn. 10 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1922–54.

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


Recalls the long walks in Cambridge with the "expectant senior wrangler". Cannot accept invitation (related to meetings of the BAAS) because of continuing bad health, his own and that of his children.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Thomas Whitley
Sent from
Source of text
Shrewsbury School, Taylor Library
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4217A,” accessed on 26 July 2021,

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