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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. B. Innes   2 September 1868

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Sep 2. 1868.

My dear Innes

I am much obliged for yr kind & pleasant letter, & am equally surprized & pleased that you have liked my big book—1 I thought that it wd have been too dull for any one but a professed naturalist.

Many thanks for yr notes especially for the case of the pointer, which I think you told me of before, & I have often puzzled myself in trying to remember how I heard it.2 Luckily for me naturalists do not seem to think that I have cut my throat in the suicidal manner which you suppose, for I know of one great convert thro’ this book in England, & I am assured that there are many in Germany.3

Whenever you like you can send me the balance on the Nat. school acct due from Mr Horsman, but I do not care when as I have already had to advance more than that sum.4 I fear there will be much difficulty this year about the school funds as both Mr Stephens5 & Horsman neglected the school & it was found much out of repair, & has cost a good deal.

We have returned from the I. of Wight only about 10 days ago, & I have not seen, tho’ I have called on Mr Robinson who has also been away.6 I shd like to hear your opinion whether I might safely pass over the school accounts to him, as it plagues me keeping 3 sets of accounts.7 I suppose you can form no opinion how long he will be here. The clergyman also I think wd best do the begging for the school, & begging there must be.

Lord Cranworth’s death is a great loss to the parish.8

I cannot think of any parish news to tell you, except that Mr Smith of Down Court appears in a very delicate state of health.9 We saw Sir John & Lady L. yesterday & both appeared very flourishing. If I possibly can, as I expect will be the case I shall give my vote for Sir John in person, as I think he wd prefer it to my pairing even with such an arch Tory as yourself—10

With both our kind regards to Mrs Innes11 believe me my dear Innes | yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin


CD refers to the letter from J. B. Innes, 31 August 1868, and to Variation.
In his letter of 31 August 1868, Innes wrote that he had included some memoranda pertaining to Variation; they have not been found. CD discussed the origin of the English pointer in Variation 1: 42, and mentioned the crossing of pointers with the foxhound in Variation 2: 95.
CD may be referring to George Bentham in England (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 May 1868, and letter from A. R. Wallace, 16 August [1868]). CD had heard news of German men of science who had accepted his theory from Ernst Haeckel (see letter from Ernst Haeckel, [before 6 February 1868]).
See letter from J. B. Innes, 31 August 1868; CD refers to Samuel James O’Hara Horsman. In his Account books–cash account (Down House MS), CD recorded paying an advance for the Down national school of £9 19s. 2d. on 15 June 1868; he also paid £13 5s. on 7 July 1868 to a bricklayer, evidently for work on the school.
Thomas Sellwood Stephens had preceded Horsman as curate at Down.
The Darwins returned from the Isle of Wight on 21 August 1868 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). John Warburton Robinson became curate of the parish of Down on 30 August 1868 (Moore 1985, p. 477).
At times, CD kept accounts for the Down national school, the Down Coal and Clothing Club (a local charity that supplied parishioners with coal and clothes in exchange for regular savings), and the Down Friendly Club (a local savings and insurance club). See LL 1: 142–3; see also Moore 1985, p. 469.
Robert Monsey Rolfe, Baron Cranworth, died on 26 July 1868 at his London home (ODNB). Holwood Park, his country residence, was a mile and a half north of Down House (Freeman 1978).
John Smith was a farmer at Down Court.
CD refers to John and Ellen Frances Lubbock. John Lubbock was standing for election to Parliament as a Liberal party candidate for West Kent; the election was on 23 November 1868 (The Times, 21 November 1868, p. 7). For Innes’s discussion of the election, see his letter of 31 August 1868 (see also Hutchinson 1914, 1: 99). On CD’s and Innes’s friendly differences, including their political differences, see Moore 1985, pp. 468–9.


Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978. Charles Darwin: a companion. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Hutchinson, Horace Gordon. 1914. Life of Sir John Lubbock, Lord Avebury. 2 vols. London: Macmillan.

LL: The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter. Edited by Francis Darwin. 3 vols. London: John Murray. 1887–8.

Moore, James Richard. 1985. Darwin of Down: the evolutionist as squarson-naturalist. In The Darwinian heritage, edited by David Kohn. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press in association with Nova Pacifica (Wellington, NZ).

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Surprised and pleased JBI liked his "big book" [Variation].

Luckily, naturalists do not seem to think he has committed suicide with the work.

CD wants to turn over the school accounts to John Robinson [curate of Down]. Writes of other parish news.

Will vote in person for Sir John Lubbock.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Brodie Innes
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.)
Physical description
LS 5pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6345,” accessed on 26 March 2023,

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