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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Patrick Matthew   6 June 1864


June 6/64

Dear Sir,

I am now in London for a week or so and have a desire to meet with you before I return to Scotland. If it were convenient I would visit you at Down or meet you at any place in London.1

The Affair of Schleswig-Holstein2 is occupying my attention at present on which I am to publish in a few days, & I will do myself the honor of forwarding to you a copy.3 It is highly probable that this little work will meet more contumely than any ever printed in Britain except Tom Paine’s “rights of man”.4 I hope you are now able for your vocation of forwarding natural science. If you receive the Gardeners Chronicle you will see I have not been quite idle.5 I left Germany Holstein about 9 days ago, where I was visiting my Son, a farmer there.6 I remained only 2 weeks & hastened to London to expose the shameful misstatements of the British Press7

Yours very Sincerely | P. Matthew.

Address No. 16. Ampton St. | Gray’s Inn Road, London.

Charles Darwin Esq.


Owing to poor health, CD had declined to meet Matthew on several previous occasions (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to Patrick Matthew, 13 June [1862]), and letter from Patrick Matthew, 3 December 1862. There is no record of a meeting between CD and Matthew in 1864. In a letter to the Gardeners’ Chronicle, 7 April 1860 (Correspondence vol. 8, Appendix V), Matthew had claimed priority in formulating a principle of natural selection in his book On naval timber and arboriculture (Matthew 1831). CD acknowledged Matthew’s claim in a letter to the Gardeners’ Chronicle, [13 April 1860] (Correspondence vol. 8), and in Origin 3d ed., pp. xiv–xv.
In February 1864, Austria and Prussia invaded Holstein and Schleswig, the southernmost duchies of Denmark (EB). See also letters from J. D. Hooker, 24 January 1864 and n. 23, and 5 February 1864 and n. 9.
Matthew’s book, Schleswig-Holstein, etc., consisted of five letters written between 1862 and 30 May 1864, which, he claimed, had been refused publication by London newspapers (Matthew 1864; the letters are reprinted in Dempster 1996, pp. 294–332). Matthew was critical of the British press for encouraging ‘a hatred of Germany and affection for Denmark, without regard to truth, right, or justice’ (Dempster 1996, p. 295). He maintained that Schleswig-Holstein was an ancient Anglo-Saxon territory and an integral part of the German nation. He also argued that Britain owed its present strength and prosperity to its having previously been colonised by ‘the purest of the ancient Teuton or German race’ (Dempster 1996, p. 319). There is no copy of Matthew 1864 in the Darwin Library–CUL or the Darwin Library–Down.
Matthew refers to Thomas Paine’s Rights of man: being an answer to Mr Burke’s attack on the French revolution (Paine 1791).
Matthew refers to his article in the Gardeners’ Chronicle, 28 May 1864, pp. 514–15, which described the method for restoring vegetable mould to the soil.
Matthew owned an estate in Holstein that was managed by one of his sons, Alexander (see Dempster 1996, p. 3).
The Times was generally sympathetic to the Danish cause. An editorial on 4 February 1864, p. 8, had condemned the invasion as a ‘political crime’, in violation of the agreement, signed in London in 1852, that had made the possession of Schleswig and Holstein by Denmark a requirement of international law. See also, for example, The Times, 26 April 1864, p. 10. For a discussion of Anglo-German relations during the period, see P. M. Kennedy 1982, pp. 3–7.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Dempster, W. J. 1996. Natural selection and Patrick Matthew. Evolutionary concepts in the nineteenth century. Durham: Pentland Press.

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

Kennedy, Paul M. 1982. The rise of the Anglo-German antagonism, 1860–1914. London: George Allen & Unwin.

Matthew, Patrick. 1831. On naval timber and arboriculture; with critical notes on authors who have recently treated the subject of planting. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, & Green. Edinburgh: Adam Black.

Matthew, Patrick. 1864. Schleswig-Holstein, etc. London: Spottiswoode & Co.

Origin 3d ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 3d edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1861.

Paine, Thomas. 1791. Rights of man: being an answer to Mr Burke’s attack on the French revolution. London: J. Johnson.


Would like to meet CD.

He is writing a piece on the Schleswig-Holstein affair which will expose the British press.

Letter details

Letter no.
Patrick Matthew
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Ampton St, 16
Source of text
DAR 171: 92
Physical description
ALS 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4522,” accessed on 23 July 2024,

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