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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Hugh Falconer   4 [September 1863]1

Malvern Wells

Friday 4th.

My dear Falconer

I write merely to give you my address;2 but please do not lend me Suess, unless you can spare it for a month, as I have no brains or German Dictionary to read anything at all difficult.3

I see Carter Blake was well pitched into at Newcastle.4 Many thanks for Armstrong’s admirable speech.5

Your very stupid friend | C. Darwin


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letters from Hugh Falconer, 29 August 1863 and 10 September 1863.
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), CD stayed at Malvern Wells, Worcestershire, from 3 September to 12 or 13 October 1863. See also following letter.
The reference is apparently to the discussion of Charles Carter Blake’s paper entitled ‘On some points in the cranioscopy of South American nations’ (Blake 1863b) at the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 29 August 1863. In The Times, 1 September 1863, p. 5, it was reported that ‘the ethnologists got up a warm debate’ regarding Blake’s paper, and that John Crawfurd ‘denied altogether that cranioscopy afforded any sound knowledge of the affinity of races’. The debate reflected a schism within Victorian anthropological science. Cranioscopy, the measurement of skull anatomy, had become an important tool in the work of members of the Anthropological Society seeking to establish that humanity was composed of discrete and permanently unalterable races. Members of the Ethnological Society, like Crawfurd, believed in human biological unity and were deeply opposed to the views propounded by Blake and other leading figures of the Anthropological Society (see Rainger 1978, pp. 56–60; Stepan 1982, pp. 44–6; Stocking 1987, pp. 248–54). For Falconer’s opinion of Blake, see the letter from Hugh Falconer, 8 January [1863] and n. 4.
Falconer had sent CD an offprint of William George Armstrong’s presidential address to the British Association, later published as Armstrong 1863 (see letter from Hugh Falconer, 29 August 1863 and n. 6).


Armstrong, William George. 1863. [Presidential address.] Report of the 33d meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, pp. li–lxiv.

Rainger, Ronald. 1978. Race, politics, and science: the Anthropological Society of London in the 1860s. Victorian Studies 22: 51–70.

Stepan, Nancy. 1982. The idea of race in science: Great Britain 1800–1960. London: Macmillan in association with St Anthony’s College, Oxford.

Stocking, George W., Jr. 1987. Victorian anthropology. New York: The Free Press. London: Collier Macmillan.

Suess, Eduard. 1863. Über die Verschiedenheit und die Aufeinanderfolge der tertiären Landfaunen in der Niederung von Wien. Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Classe 47 (pt 1): 306–31.


Sends address.

Comments on BAAS meeting at Newcastle.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Hugh Falconer
Sent from
Malvern Wells
Source of text
DAR 144: 33
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4293,” accessed on 25 September 2021,

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