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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Washington   [14 October 1839]

12 Upper Gower St

Monday Evening

Dear Washington

I return you the proof sheets with a very few & unimportant remarks on the margin.— Mr French, shows, evidently, I think, that he has full knowledge to describe all the rocks he saw correctly.— It strikes me as a very interesting & good paper.—1

I am delighted to hear you have sent for the Annales Maritim.—

I have not any volume of D’Urville,2 nor indeed any property of the Geograph. (excepting Horsburgh)3 as I returned everything before I went into the country.

If I had any modesty I should be ashamed to notice the extract you sent me from Humboldt,4 but my admiration for Humboldt has been of so long standing, that I confess few things in my life have gratified me more, than hearing of his approbation, although I should have swallowed the dose quite as readily if it had been a little less strong: even a young author cannot gorge such a mouthful of flattery—

Believe me | Ever Yours | Chas. Darwin


Dumont d’Urville, ed. 1830–5, the account of a voyage to the South Atlantic, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, is frequently cited by CD in Coral reefs.
Humboldt 1839, p. 505: ‘The volume of Mr. Charles Darwin is an admirable supplement to the voyage of the Beagle: it is one of the most remarkable works that, in the course of a long life, I have had the pleasure to see published. Mr. Darwin unites to sagacity for detailed observations enlarged views in general physics, I should rather say in natural philosophy,—views which embrace at once geology, the geographical distribution of plants, and the influence of temperature on the organic types of the primitive world.’


Coral reefs: The structure and distribution of coral reefs. Being the first part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1842.

Dumont d’Urville, Jules Sébastien César, ed. 1830–5. Voyage de la corvette l’Astrolabe. Histoire 5 vols. 1830–5; Zoologie 4 vols. 1830–4; Botanique 1 vol. 1832; Entomologie 2 pts in 1 vol. 1832–5; Philologie 1 vol. 1833. Paris: J. Tastu, éditeur-imprimeur.

French, John Oliver. 1839. On the province of La Rioja in South America to accompany a map. Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London 9: 381–406.

Horsburgh, James. 1809–11. Directions for sailing to and from the East Indies, China, New Holland, Cape of Good Hope, and the interjacent ports; compiled chiefly from original journals at the East India House, and from journals and observations, made during twenty-one years experience navigating in those seas. 2 pts. London: printed for the author by Black, Parry, and Kingsbury.

Humboldt, Alexander von. 1839. On the longitude of Valparaiso and Callao, in a letter from Baron Alexander von Humboldt. Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London 9: 502–6.


Returns proofs of J. O. French’s article ["Account of the province of La Rioja: S. America", J. R. Geogr. Soc. 9 (1839): 381–406].

Gratified by Humboldt’s praise of Journal of researches [J. R. Geogr. Soc. 9 (1839): 502].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Washington; Royal Geographical Society
Sent from
London, Upper Gower St, 12
Source of text
Royal Geographical Society
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 537,” accessed on 16 July 2024,

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