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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Adam Sedgwick   11 October 1868


Oct 11 | 1868

My dear Darwin

I returned to College (from my Cathedral residence at Norwich) in time to assist at the admission of the new Fellows.1 I shook hands with them in our antechapel, not knowing the name of any one of them; & little suspecting that your son was one of them.2 I heard their names afterwards & greatly rejoiced I was to find that the one who is junior on the list was your living representation, I tried to find him out, but he was gone; as I was told by a gyp.3

Let me send you my warmest congratulations   And now I do hope that you will again sometimes come among us— All my old friends are dead, or have left the University— So that here I am living in solitude, for I cannot bear to go out to any parties— Considering my great age—for I am far advanced in the 84th. year—I am in many respects a strong old fellow. Yet my organic machinery is sadly out of tune—4 —E.G. I have in my heart an indurated mitral valve, which makes all climbing impossible. 2. I have an enlarged prostate gland, which makes me unfit for society. (3) I have a stone in my right kidney & 4thly. I am liable to dangerous attacks of giddiness, which sometimes fell me to the ground—as if I were shot thro’ the head— But these maladies (if I may so call them) have not increased during the last two or three years: & after several irritating & alarming struggles I have settled down into a kind new equilibrium among my animal functions— Do come down with a family party & renew your acquaintance with Cambridge, & the few old friends left in it—5 New friends you would find in plenty—

There! I have been slopping my ink so ’tis time for me to conclude. My eyes do not—without a higher power than I am using—allow me to read what I am writing

Again accept my congratulations & believe me while my heart beats & my lungs heave Ever yours in all christian truth and good will | A Sedgwick


Sedgwick was a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. As a prebendary of Norwich Cathedral, he was required to be in Norwich for two months of the year. (ODNB.)
Gyp: a college servant at Cambridge and Durham (Chambers).
Sedgwick suffered intermittently from poor health for most of his life (ODNB).
CD had been a student at the University of Cambridge from 1828 to 1831; he accompanied Sedgwick on a geological field trip in the summer of 1831. See Correspondence vol. 1 and Browne 1995, pp. 137–43.


Browne, Janet. 1995. Charles Darwin. Voyaging. Volume I of a biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Chambers: The Chambers dictionary. Edinburgh: Chambers Harrap Publishers. 1998.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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.


Congratulates CD on election of his son [George] as a Fellow of Trinity College.

Describes his ill health.

Invites CD to visit Cambridge.

[Letter dated November in error.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Adam Sedgwick
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 177: 129
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6416,” accessed on 22 July 2024,

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