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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Cuthbert Collingwood   15 February 1866

14 Gloucester Plac〈e〉 Greenwich S.〈E.〉

Feb 15/66

Dear Sir

I am shortly going out to the East in the capacity of Naturalist (unpaid) to the “Rifleman” surveying vessel, with my friend Capt J. W. Reed— We shall proceed overland to Hong Kong & first do some business among the reefs in the China sea,1 & I hope also to have opportunity of collecting among the islands of the East Indian Archipelago—2

I naturally recur to the “Journal of Researches” by yourself, & also to the problems held out for solution in the “Origin of species”, & I should be sorry to go without having first communicated with you—

I very much regret to hear from Dr. Hooker3 that your health is so very poor at present, & I can hardly hope for a personal interview with you, but should you wish to make any communication, or suggestion, I shall receive it with the greatest respect & pleasure, & shall indeed be very glad of any hint which your experience may enable you to give me—

My time is now limited—& although I could not move in the matter sooner, I find myself now within little more than a week of starting on my journey—

I shall have to run down to Liverpool for a few days to wind up my affairs there,4 & then I shall be able to devote the rest of my time to preparations for my voyage—

I am dear Sir | very truly yours | C. Collingwood

Chas Darwin Esq

CD annotations5

Head of letter: ‘Means of Distribution.— Domestic animals— greatly neglected   Gestures of Savages—’ added pencil


On the Admiralty’s requirement for a naturalist to join a survey in the China Sea in 1866, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 4 February 1866 and n. 4. For Collingwood’s overland journey to Hong Kong, see Collingwood 1868, pp. 1–22. John William Reed was master in command of the surveying vessel HMS Rifleman in the China Sea (Navy list 1864–6); apparently Collingwood and Reed did not travel together (Collingwood 1868). In April 1866, Collingwood joined HMS Serpent at Hong Kong, under the command of Charles J. Bullock (Collingwood 1868, p. 22).
Collingwood wrote at least seventeen scientific papers based on his maritime and terrestrial observations in the China Sea and published between 1867 and 1869 (see Royal Society catalogue of scientific papers). He gave a general account of his journey in Collingwood 1868; there is a lightly annotated presentation copy in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 169).
Joseph Dalton Hooker.
Collingwood was lecturer in botany at the Royal Infirmary Medical School, Liverpool (DNB).
CD’s annotations relate to his letter to Collingwood of 16 February [1866].


Collingwood, Cuthbert. 1868. Rambles of a naturalist on the shores and waters of the China Sea: being observations in natural history during a voyage to China, Formosa, Borneo, Singapore, etc., made in Her Majesty’s vessels in 1866 and 1867. London: John Murray.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Navy list: The navy list. London: John Murray; Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. 1815–1900.

Royal Society catalogue of scientific papers: Catalogue of scientific papers (1800–1900). Compiled and published by the Royal Society of London. 19 vols. and index (3 vols.). London: Royal Society of London. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1867–1925.


Going to Orient as naturalist aboard the Rifleman. Offers CD his services.

Letter details

Letter no.
Cuthbert Collingwood
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 161: 212
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5008,” accessed on 26 January 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14