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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Lonsdale   1 February [1868]1

Down, Bromley, | Kent, S.E.;

Feb. 1st.

My Dear Lonsdale,

It was very kind of you to send me such hearty congratulations and the newspaper. Our son’s success, as you may believe, has delighted us.2 It was a pleasure to me to see your handwriting again and it is very little altered from old times. I am very sorry to hear so poor an account of your health. What a life of suffering you have led!3 You speak of Sedgwick4 in your letter; I hear from my son that though he looks extremely old, he seems cheerful, and talks to a wonderful degree. He has at last given up lecturing, and it is a pity, from all I hear, that he did not take this step earlier.

My own health is considerably better, and though not free from discomfort I am able to do a fair share of work in Natural History. I have just published a rather large book on the variation of domesticated animals and plants;5 but I do not think it would interest you, even if you had strength to read it.

I shall always retain very pleasant recollections of our former intercourse, and I earnestly hope that your health may cause you less suffering.

Believe me, my dear Lonsdale, | Yours very sincerely, | Charles Darwin.


The year is established by the reference to George Howard Darwin’s examination success (see n. 2, below).
George Darwin had achieved second place in the final examination for the mathematical tripos at Cambridge University in January (Cambridge University calendar). Lonsdale’s letter and the newspaper have not been found.
Lonsdale had assisted CD with his research on fossil corals (see Volcanic islands, pp. 138, 161–9). CD had contributed to a fund when Lonsdale retired for reasons of ill health in 1842. See Correspondence vol. 2.
Adam Sedgwick.
CD refers to Variation.


Cambridge University calendar: The Cambridge University calendar. Cambridge: W. Page [and others]. 1796–1950.

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

Volcanic islands: Geological observations on the volcanic islands, visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle, together with some brief notices on the geology of Australia and the Cape of Good Hope. Being the second 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. 1844.


Thanks WL for sending congratulations [on George Darwin’s attaining Second Wrangler].

Relays news about Sedgwick’s condition.

Has finished a large book on variation.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Lonsdale
Sent from
Source of text
Murch 1893, p. 437

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5834A,” accessed on 2 July 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16