skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Royal Geographical Society   [28 January or 4 February 1846]1

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Sir

I am very much obliged to your kindness in having sent me the enclosed paper.2 As it is chiefly directed against my views, it does not become me to make any remarks on what I think of its value. I must, however, protest against several quotations, which anyone wd suppose were from my writings, but which appear to be extracted from some Indian Review.— I may be permitted also to protest against the statement at p. 3, which is absolutely the contrary to what I have imagined & stated in many places in my writings to have been the case.—

I do not believe Mr. C. has ever taken the trouble to read my Book3 or even my own abstract in my Journal:4 if he has, he has overlooked all my chief data & gives as new in his paper, what he might have found in my work.

As I do not treat of the zoology of coralls, I make free to urge you, before his Paper is published, to get some zoologist to skim it over, as his errors are very great & would be discreditable to any scientific publication to include.— I have marked a few places with pencil for your inspection: I have made this note more critical than I intended, but I hope you will excuse me.5

With my renewed thanks | Believe me | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin

Lieut Nelson R. J. has published a theory in Geolog. Trans vol 5. p. 103 on Bermuda,6 something like this, of Lieut Christophers.


The date is based on the reading and review of William Christopher’s paper (see nn. 2 and 5, below).
William Christopher’s paper was read 26 January 1846 at the Royal Geographical Society and submitted to George Bellas Greenough for review (Council Minute Book, Royal Geographical Society). No mention is made in the minutes of CD as a reviewer.
The council minutes of 9 February record the decision not to publish the paper.
Richard John Nelson. See Nelson 1840.


Coral reefs: The structure and distribution of coral reefs. Being the first 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. 1842.

Journal of researches 2d ed.: Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. 2d edition, corrected, with additions. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1845.

Nelson, Richard John. 1840. On the geology of the Bermudas. Transactions of the Geological Society of London 2d ser. 5: 103–23.


Enclosed MS by Lieut. W. Christopher misrepresents CD’s views. Contains errors in zoology.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Julian Jackson;
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Geographical Society
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 646,” accessed on 5 April 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3