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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. S. Henslow   [22 January 1843]

Down Bromley | Kent

Sunday Morning

My dear Henslow

I have to thank you for a “muckalereous” newspaper,1 as well as your letter & two sermons— As far as I have read in the latter, it appears to me full of most wise advice, & & I shall finish it this evening.— Your fears about the dunghill made us laugh— I shd like to know, who your bigoted mathematical friend is, who sneers so severely on Leibig2 & Co.— Your lectures must do good, I shd think, in stirring up all the farmers; but as for hoping to get tabulated results from them, if you succeed you will either prove yourself a magician or that your Suffolk farmers are very different from the Shropshire ones, whom I have been accustomed to.—3

Lyell & co will be delighted to hear of your having actually finished some fossil Botanical work.— I have heard many a groan over you & your pursuits; & the worst of it is, that your pursuits are so evidently excellent, that one cannot have the pleasure of abusing you. I hope indeed, you will find leisure from your weightier occupations to go on with your fossil work, & I must put in a word for poor Galapagos plants—remember the regret Humboldt expressed that you had not published some sketch of them;4 whenever you do I shall be very curious to know, what sort of relation the Flora bears to that of S. America.5 I am getting on with my second very thin part on “Volcanic Islds”.— My coral-volume has sold tolerably according to my views, & has received its quant: suff: of praise. I wrote to you after the first day’s display by Mr Charslworth; & the second had the same result—6 I never saw any man, to use a theatrical expression, so utterly damned. His whole case broke down, & the Council came off triumphant, being blamed by several (unknown to us) speakers, for having been too kind & considerate to him— The Council did not even acknowledge his latter letters, & of this he made heavy complaint,—so he was requested to read aloud his own letter to the Council in which he calls your informant a liar &c—& Murchison told him with a sweet little smile that that was our reason for not acknowledging his letters— This answer the Soc: approved of by acclamation. The absurdest part, was, that a requisition signed by between 20 & 30 men was brought forward to change a law, & it is required by bye-laws, that to make such change, five of the requisitionist, shd show they were present: Whether they were or not I do not know, but it was long before even one wd rise, & three members of the Council were obliged to second the proposal, in order that the discussion might be brought on— So completely cowed & ashamed were Mr. Ch. advocates, ⁠⟨⁠I⁠⟩⁠ am told (I know not whether truly) that Ch. has given up controversy & science (synonymous in his eyes) & has gone to Edinburgh to study medicine.—

Farewell, I wonder, whether we shall ever see you in this house— I heartily hope we may.—

Pray remember me very kindly to Mrs. Henslow & believe me Ever yours | C. Darwin


Henslow was then writing a series of newspaper articles on scientific methods of fertilisation. These were collected in Henslow 1843a.
Justus von Liebig was well known for his theories of agricultural chemistry.
Henslow had organised the farmers near Hadleigh to conduct fertiliser experiments (Jenyns 1862, pp. 77–82).
The work was eventually done by Joseph Dalton Hooker (J. D. Hooker 1845 and 1846).
Henslow had initially been a supporter of Edward Charlesworth (see letter to Charles Lyell, [5 and 7 October 1842]). The meeting described is evidently that of 14 December 1842 (see letter to W. H. Miller, [16 October–27 November 1842], n. 4).


Jenyns, Leonard. 1862. Memoir of the Rev. John Stevens Henslow, late rector of Hitcham, and professor of botany in the University of Cambridge. London: John Van Voorst.


Comments on JSH’s botanical work with his parishioners. Lyell will be pleased that he has done some fossil botanical work.

Describes a Geological Society meeting about Edward Charlesworth’s complaints.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Stevens Henslow
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 660,” accessed on 18 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2