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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Eliza Meteyard   25 April 1865

Wildwood | North End | Hampstead. N.W.

April 25. 1865

Dear Sir

Permit me to offer you, in the hope of your acceptance, the 1st Vol of the ‘Life of Wedgwood’.1 I regret I have to send the work in this partial form, but the envy and machinations of two unscrupulous men rendered the step imperative.2 The other volume will appear as soon as possible.

I lay the book before you with a trembling hand, and with sincere and great humility of spirit. I know what the subject requires—and I would that I had the highest human ability to do justice to my conception of it. Yet where I fail—my publishers splendid justice to the work—must be some compensation3—and the veneration I have for the names of Darwin and Wedgwood, and the liberal point of view from which I judge them and their opinions—must make up—as I hope it will in your kindly eyes—for deficiencies of various kinds. A bigot—whether social, political, or religious, could not estimate the character of two such men. Men far greater than their generation.

I am using your valuable letters as I go on.4 I shall not have space I fear to do full justice to the more scientific aspect of Wedgwood’s labours and bent of mind in this work5—but—as I am going to carry on the details of these and other subjects, through a work I shall call ‘Thomas Wedgwood and his Contemporaries’6 I shall be able to find a still more fitting place for many interesting though severer truths. As soon as I have finished the Life of Josiah Wedgwood, I will make what further extracts I need from your valuable letters—and carefully return them. Meanwhile they are in excellent keeping.

I trust your health has improved, for missing that—we miss almost the best thing we hold in life. Do not please trouble yourself to write— a line from Mrs Darwin just to say the book has reached you safely—is all that is required.

Dear Sir | With deep respect & grateful obligation | your’s faithfully | Eliza Meteyard

C. Darwin Esq.


The reference is to the first volume of Meteyard 1865–6, a biography of Josiah Wedgwood I. For CD’s unfavourable assessment of the book, see B. Wedgwood and Wedgwood 1980, pp. 299–300.
The individuals referred to have not been identified.
Meteyard refers to the publishers Hurst & Blackett of 13 Great Marlborough Street, London (Post Office London directory 1865); the first volume of Meteyard 1865–6 included over a hundred illustrations, including many of Wedgwood ware.
CD had provided Meteyard with letters between his paternal grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, and his maternal grandfather, Josiah Wedgwood I (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to J. D. Hooker, [22–3 November 1863], and this volume, supplement, letter to Hurst & Blackett, 15 November [1863]); a number of extracts from the letters between Wedgwood and Darwin appear in Meteyard 1865–6. There is a collection of over a hundred letters from Erasmus Darwin to Wedgwood written between 1766 and 1794 in DAR 227.1. See also Correspondence vol. 9, Appendix V.
Meteyard dealt briefly with Wedgwood’s scientific interests in chapters 9 to 11 (Meteyard 1865–6, 2: 415–572). See also Schofield 1963, B. Wedgwood and Wedgwood 1980, and King-Hele 1999 for a discussion of Wedgwood’s links with provincial scientific circles.
Thomas Wedgwood was a son of Josiah Wedgwood. The title of the book was changed to A group of Englishmen; the book made only three references to the correspondence supplied by CD (Meteyard 1871, pp. 8, 254–5).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

King-Hele, Desmond. 1999. Erasmus Darwin. A life of unequalled achievement. London: Giles de la Mare Publishers.

Meteyard, Eliza. 1865–6. The life of Josiah Wedgwood from his private correspondence and family papers … with an introductory sketch of the art of pottery in England. 2 vols. London: Hurst & Blackett.

Meteyard, Eliza. 1871. A group of Englishmen (1795 to 1815), being records of the younger Wedgwoods and their friends, embracing the history of the discovery of photography. London: Longmans, Green, and Co.

Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.

Schofield, Robert E. 1963. The Lunar Society of Birmingham. A social history of provincial science and industry in eighteenth-century England. Oxford: Clarendon Press of Oxford University.

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


Sends CD the first volume of her Life of Josiah Wedgwood [2 vols. (1865–6)].

Letter details

Letter no.
Eliza Meteyard
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 171: 160
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4819,” accessed on 12 July 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13