skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Benjamin Silliman   7 April 1840

Yale College City of New Haven State of Connecticut United States of Nor. Amca.

April 7 1840

To Charles Darwin Esqr

dear sir

I embrace the first opportunity to thank you for yr delightful volume this day received being volume 3 of the Voyages of the Adventures of the Beagle. It did not diminish the value of the gift that I had last summer imported the entire work including the quartos on Natural History1 and your volume formed my instructive & entertaining repast at the close of every evening during a public engagement on Geology, in Boston in January & February Last.2

Your kindness enables me to gratify a scientific friend with another copy of your work and I am happy to be made acquainted with a gentleman for whose talents & character I have the highest respect.

Your volume is not second in interest and instruction to any work of the kind I have ever read & you will permit me to say I place only one other book of travels in the same class of excellence with yours— I mean Sir Robert Kerr Porter’s travels in the Caucasus Persia &c in two thick quartos with numerous illust-rations.3 His work is not particularly scientific but is still most instructive and interesting. Mr. Lyell’s citations from your work when in M.S. strongly excited my curiosity and I was richly repaid in the perusal by your numerous and highly important geological observations many of which I had occasion to cite in my geological lectures in Boston delivered to about 3000 people in two audiences.

As a small mark of my respect (although a very inadequate return) I request you to accept the last Vol of the American Journal of Science and Arts being the 38th. which I now forward to my agents Wiley & Putnam Paternoster Row London and remain dear sir with the best wishes for your long continued usefulness

very respectfully & truly | your obliged & obedient | servant | Benjamin Silliman.

I have not perused the other volumes of the voyage &c but hope to have that pleasure by & by.

I add to the Vol. of the Journal two little Geological tracts of mine.4

Permit me to ask when we are to expect your additional volume—5 I have twice sent for it & in both instances have received the work which you have been so kind as to send me.— I trust we are not in error in expecting another volume & I look for it with the greatest interest.


Zoology was issued in quarto numbers.
Sillimans geology lectures in January and February 1840 were part of the inaugural season of the Lowell Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.
Robert Ker Porter 1821–2.
The Darwin Pamphlet Collection in the Cambridge University Library contains two pamphlets by Silliman (1839a and 1839b). Neither is annotated.
Possibly a reference to the advertisement of CD’s geological work in one volume (see letter to William Shoberl, [21 March 1839], n. 3).


Porter, Robert Ker. 1821–2. Travels in Georgia, Persia, Armenia, ancient Babylonia, &c. &c. during the years 1817, 1818, 1819 and 1820. 2 vols. London.

Zoology: The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. 5 pts. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1838–43.


Thanks CD for a copy of his Journal of researches which is "not second in interest and instruction to any work of the kind I have ever read".

Letter details

Letter no.
Benjamin Silliman, Sr
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Yale College
Source of text
DAR 204: 184
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 565,” accessed on 27 September 2023,

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