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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. B. Innes   1 December 1868

Dec 1. 68

Dear Innes

I write a line to ask you whether you intend to subscribe this year to the C. & C. Club, as we must immediately have our annual meeting.—1 I suppose that Mr Robinson applied to you for your subscription for the Nat. School.—2 He has suddenly left us to stay for 3 months in Ireland, & as I did not anticipate anything of the kind, I passed over the school account to him, & know nothing about the subscriptions, & have ⁠⟨⁠5 words illeg⁠⟩⁠.— The curate, whom Mr Robinson has sent here does not appear any great [acquisition]. Mr Horsman, now that he is known to have been a complete & [premeditated] swindler (for no other intepretation as it seems to me can be put on his conduct about the Organ)3 has done much injury in the Parish & some of the subscribers to the School were actually afraid to pay the subscriptions to Mr Robinson apparently merely for being a clergyman; & what they will think now that he has gone off for 3 months, I know not.— As I fully believe that you are anxious to do all the good that you can to your Parish, I am sure you will allow me to say, that unless you can very soon make some fixed arrangement, so that some respectable man may hold the living permanently, great injury will be done here, which it will take years to repair, & what you will consider of importance the Church will be lowered in the estimation of the whole neighbourhood— Already so staunch a tory & [church-goer], as old Mr Abraham Smith goes to dissenting chapel & [propounded] the doctrine so astounding as coming from him, that perhaps the disestablishment of the English Church wd be no bad thing.4

I hope that you will ⁠⟨⁠illeg⁠⟩⁠ [reflect] over the state of things in the Parish, & excuse me for frankly telling you the state of things.—


CD was treasurer of the Down Coal and Clothing Club, which supplied parishioners with coal and clothes in exchange for regular savings. Innes had previously been treasurer of the club and retained a close interest in its affairs (see Correspondence vol. 4, letter to John Innes, [8 May 1848] and n. 2, and Moore 1985, pp. 468–9).
John Warburton Robinson had recently become curate of Down (see letter to J. B. Innes, 2 September 1868 and n. 6). CD also refers to the Down National School for boys.
Samuel James O’Hara Horsman, Robinson’s predecessor as curate of Down, had collected money for the purchase of a new organ for the church (see letter to J. B. Innes, 15 June [1868], and letter from J. B. Innes, 18 June [1868]).
CD recorded a contribution of 5s. for 1868 from Abraham Smith in his Down Coal and Clothing Club account book (Down House MS). This was half the amount Smith contributed in the previous and subsequent years. There was a Baptist chapel in Down (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1859–66).


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

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).

Post Office directory of the six home counties: Post Office directory of the six home counties, viz., Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex. London: W. Kelly & Co. 1845–78.


Problems with Mr Robinson, who has suddenly departed for Ireland for a month. The parish urgently needs some respectable man to hold the living permanently.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Brodie Innes
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 96: 53
Physical description
ADraft 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6486,” accessed on 31 January 2023,

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