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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Henry Holland   6 November [1864]1

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

Nov. 6th

My dear Sir Henry

I thank you cordially for your most kind note & for your congratulations on the honour which the Royal Society has done me.2

I have just read H. Spencer’s work: it strikes me as extremely clever, & yet, I cannot tell why, I never feel much wiser, when I have finished reading him.—3

I am, I hope, decidedly getting better, but fear that I shall never reach my former modicum of strength: I am, however, able to do a little work in Natural History every day. I was very ill for about ten months with incessant vomiting, which became bad when you were in America last year. How wonderful your strength & vigour of interest are: I had heard of your Gibraltar expedition.—4

With most sincere thanks for your never-failing kindness, I remain | My dear Sir Henry | Yours most sincerely | and obliged | Charles Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Henry Holland, 4 November [1864] (Correspondence vol. 12).
The Royal Society of London awarded CD the Copley Medal in 1864 (see Correspondence vol. 12, letter from Henry Holland, 4 November [1864]).
Herbert Spencer’s Principles of biology (Spencer 1864–7) was issued in instalments beginning in January 1863 as a continuation of his First principles (Spencer 1860–2; see Correspondence vol. 12, letter from Henry Holland, 4 November [1864] and n. 5).
For Holland’s travels, see Correspondence vol. 12, letter from Henry Holland, 4 November [1864], nn. 6 and 7. CD had been ill throughout much of 1863 and the early part of 1864 (see Correspondence vols. 11 and 12).


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

Spencer, Herbert. 1860–2. First principles. London: George Manwaring; Williams & Norgate.

Spencer, Herbert. 1864–7. The principles of biology. 2 vols. London: Williams & Norgate.


Thanks for congratulations on award of Copley Medal by the Royal Society.

Discusses his long period of ill health.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Henry Holland, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
Peter Harrington (dealer) (September 2020)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4661F,” accessed on 18 May 2024,