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Darwin Correspondence Project

From E. A. Darwin   [15? April 1864]1


Dear Charles,

Sir Henry2 wants to see the Zoonomia3 to look over it as he fancies there may be germs of forgotten discoveries. Have you the book or is it at Shrewsbury.

I told him the good news of your being so much better, but it was rather difficult talking of abstract doctoring without doctors.4

Snow is gone to Folkestone in the hopes of meeting Fanny, & she was in such a state of anxiety it was perhaps the best thing. Dr Jenner saw him & said it was a decided case of tubercles in lung’s & bowels5

Yours affec | E D


The date is conjectured from the relationship between this letter and the letter from E. A. Darwin dated 7 May [1864] reporting the return of Zoonomia; by CD’s report of his last sickness on 13 April (see Correspondence vol. 12, Appendix II); and by James Mackintosh Wedgwood and Frances Emma Elizabeth Wedgwood’s return to England in early April (see Wedgwood and Wedgwood 1980, p. 275, and n. 5, below). In 1864, 15 April fell on a Friday.
Zoonomia; or, the laws of organic life (E. Darwin 1794–6), by Erasmus Alvey Darwin’s and CD’s grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, anticipated Jean Baptiste de Lamarck’s theory of species transmutation.
Erasmus may not have wanted to tell Henry Holland, who had sometimes been consulted by CD and his family, that CD was being treated by William Jenner (see Correspondence vol. 4, letter to W. D. Fox, 6 February [1849] and n. 2, Correspondence vol. 10, letter from Henry Holland, 26 March [1862], and this volume, letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 April [1864] and n. 6).
Erasmus refers to his niece, Frances Julia Wedgwood (whose family nickname was Snow) and to her mother, his cousin’s wife, Fanny, or Frances Emma Elizabeth Wedgwood (Wedgwood and Wedgwood 1980). They were anxious about the health of Snow’s brother, James Mackintosh Wedgwood, who was suffering from terminal cancer (see letter from E. A. Darwin to Emma Darwin, 30 [March 1864?] and n. 3), and had returned to England from Italy in early April (Wedgwood and Wedgwood 1980, p. 275). William Jenner evidently had recently attended James Mackintosh Wedgwood.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Darwin, Erasmus. 1794–6. Zoonomia; or, the laws of organic life. 2 vols. London: J. Johnson.

Wedgwood, Barbara and Wedgwood, Hensleigh. 1980. The Wedgwood circle, 1730–1897: four generations of a family and their friends. London: Studio Vista.


Sir Henry Holland wants to see [Erasmus Darwin] Zoonomia.

Snow [F. J. Wedgwood] has gone, hoping to meet Fanny who is in a state of anxiety.

Letter details

Letter no.
Erasmus Alvey Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 105: B19–20
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4482,” accessed on 22 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12