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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Whewell   16 April [1839]

My dear Whewell

I have been very much flattered by your “marriage gift” and kind note.1 I assure you very few have given me more pleasure.— Mrs. Darwin desires me to give you her best thanks for it.— I hope, sometime when you are in town & happen to be disengaged, we may see you in this house.— I have hardly done more than dip into Herman & D. but I intend beginning it immediately.

A short time since I finished, having only skimmed parts before, another & quite different production of yours,—the Hist of Inductive Sciences,2 —& I will run the risk of appearing exceedingly presumptuous by telling you how much I enjoyed it—to see so clearly the steps by which all the great scientific discoveries have been come to is a capital lesson to every one, even to the humblest follower of science & I hope I have profited by it— When I closed your third volume I wished much to say my thanks to you, and now, however presumptuous it may have been, I have satisfied myself by saying them.

Believe me | Most truly Yours | Chas. Darwin 12 Upper Gower St

April 16th.—

Pray excuse me troubling you with this letter all the way to Cambridge, per post, but I had no other way of sending it.—


Whewell 1837. CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL. According to CD’s record of his reading (DAR 119; Vorzimmer 1977) he read Whewell 1837 in the autumn of 1838, noting ‘References at end’. CD had obtained a copy of the work in 1837 (see letter to Charles Babbage, [June–September 1837]).


Vorzimmer, Peter J. 1977. The Darwin reading notebooks (1838-1860). Journal of the History of Biology 10: 107–53.

Whewell, William. 1837. History of the inductive sciences, from the earliest to the present times. 3 vols. London.


Thanks WW for wedding gift.

Expresses admiration for his History of the inductive sciences [1837].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Whewell
Sent from
London, Upper Gower St, 12
Source of text
Trinity College Library, Cambridge (Add c 88: 6)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 506,” accessed on 4 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2