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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. S. Dallas   11 November [1868]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E. [6 Queen Anne Street, London]

Nov. 11th

My dear Sir

I have much pleasure in expressing my opinion that you are excellently fitted for the post of Assistant Secretary to the Geological Society.2 I rest my opinion on your very extensive knowledge of all branches of natural history,— Your familiarity also with so many foreign languages & your intimate knowledge of German would be highly serviceable in editing our Journal & Transactions;3 but one of your highest claims rests, as it appears to me, on your power of writing vigorous & clear English, as everyone will admit, who has read your many papers in various scientific Journals, or your Translation of von Siebolds work on Parthenogenesis.—4

Your powers of work are well known to be unusually great, so as to have excited the surprise of some of our hardest working naturalists; & of this power the Zoological Record, so valuable to naturalists, offers the clearest proof.—5

The experience which you must have acquired during your charge of the Museum at York, will probably render the care of our large geological Museum not difficult to you.—6

Therefore I beg leave to repeat my wishes for your success & I remain, My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Charles Darwin

To | W. S. Dallas Esqre.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. S. Dallas, 7 November 1868.
In his letter of 7 November 1868, Dallas had asked CD to write a testimonial for him, concerning his application for the post of assistant secretary to the Geological Society of London.
CD refers to the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London; the Transactions of the Geological Society of London had ceased publication in 1856.
Dallas had translated Karl Theodor Ernst von Siebold’s On a true parthenogenesis in moths and bees (Siebold 1857).
Dallas had edited the Arachnida, Myriopoda, and Insecta sections of the Zoological Record since its inception in 1864.
Dallas was curator of the museum of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society. The position of assistant secretary at the Geological Society included responsibility for the society’s museum and library.


Siebold, Karl Theodor Ernst von. 1857. On a true parthenogenesis in moths and bees; a contribution to the history of reproduction in animals. Translated by William S. Dallas. London: John van Voorst.


A letter strongly recommending him for the post of Assistant Secretary of the Geological Society.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Sweetland Dallas
Sent from
Source of text
Geological Society (LDGSL 286/8); DAR 96: 51
Physical description
ALS 4pp & ADraft 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6457,” accessed on 26 September 2022,

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