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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Hugh Falconer   2 December 1864

The Athenæum

2d. Decr. 1864

My Dear Darwin.

You will see the Presidents address1—and what he said about you and the Copley award—in this weeks ‘Reader’.2

As it stands, I think you have had very fair measure of acknowledgement.

But the passage in the third Column, “on the Origin of Species”— has not been given—as it was delivered. The ‘Reader’ has left out a little sentence or two.3

This will be explained to you hereafter.4

With kind regards | Yours Ever | H Falconer


Falconer refers to the anniversary address of Edward Sabine, the president of the Royal Society of London, which was delivered on 30 November 1864 (see Correspondence vol.12, Appendix IV).
A shortened version of Sabine’s address, which stated the grounds on which the Copley Medal was awarded to CD, was printed in the Reader, 3 December 1864, pp. 708–9. See Appendix IV.
Sabine’s address contained some controversial remarks on Origin to which Thomas Henry Huxley had taken exception at the anniversary meeting (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 2 December 1864). These remarks were omitted from the extract of the address that appeared in the Reader. See Appendix IV for the relevant portion of the address as it appeared in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (Sabine 1864), and for a discussion of the controversy raised by Huxley about the wording of Sabine’s remarks on Origin.
Falconer’s explanation has not been found. For an account of his reaction to Sabine’s address, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 2 December 1864.


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

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Sabine, Edward. 1864. [Anniversary address, 30 November 1864.] Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 13 (1863–4): 497–517.


The [Royal Society] President’s address is in the Reader [4 (1864): 708–9], but one or two sentences have been omitted.

Letter details

Letter no.
Hugh Falconer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Athenaeum Club
Source of text
DAR 164: 22
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4693,” accessed on 30 September 2023,

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