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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. B. Innes   18 January [1871]1

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Jan 18th

My dear Innes

I was truly obliged for your kind & extremely pleasant letter.2 I was at first awfully annoyed: I really think being examined in court wd half-kill me.— I have had no communication with Mr Horsman; but my solicitor from what I cd. told him, thought the man wd. never be such a fool, as to bring the case into court.3 He advises me to take no trouble till he hears from Mr. Horsman’s solicitors that he is earnest.— I have already heard of 3 unpaid debts in this village.

If things go on I will apply to Lubbock for chance of his having preserved the letters to which you refer.—4 If I have to defend myself, I will push things to extreme. I heard that he bolted from Hotel at Torquay, after leaving Down, without paying his bill.— I suspect that Mr Robinson5 is the informant, as he is now in this neighbourhood—curate at Brasted, & is a friend of Horsman’s. If he is informant, it is too bad, for I remember explaining to Mr R, why people wd not pay subscriptions for School &c to him, only to me, & why persons did not call on him, as his predecessor had been a mere swindler. Poor little Mr R. will look like a fool, if asked in court why he left Down.—6 I believe & hope that you will prove right, & that the case will never come to trial. Certainly we have been unfortunate in Mr H. & Mr R.   Mr Powell is, I think, a thoroughly good man & gentleman.7 Does good work of all kinds in the Parish, but preaches, I hear, very dull sermons. I shd. be a wonderful brute, if I had one single unpleasant recollection of or association with your name. We often differed, but you are one of those rare mortals, from whom one can differ & yet feel no shade of animosity,—& that is a thing which I shd feel very proud of, if anyone cd. say of me.—8

Farewell with very kind remembrances to Mrs Innes & your son9 | Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to J. B. Innes, 13 January 1871.
Innes’s letter has not been found.
Innes may have written to John Lubbock about the crisis over Horsman’s behaviour as curate of Down in 1868 (see Correspondence vol. 16).
John Warburton Robinson had been curate of Down after Horsman for five months only.
On Robinson’s discontent with Down, and on the rumours circulated in the village about him, see Correspondence vol. 16, letter from J. B. Innes, 4 December 1868, and letters to J. B. Innes, 10 December [1868] and 16 December 1868.
Henry Powell was curate of Down from 1869 until 1871.
Innes was a Tory and unconvinced by CD’s theory of natural selection; see, for example, Correspondence vol. 16, letter from J. B. Innes, 31 August 1868.


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


CD’s anxiety about being examined in court if Horsman [former curate at Down] brings suit. He doubts it will happen, but if so will defend himself to utmost.

Has pleasant recollections of his relations with JBI.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Brodie Innes
Sent from
Source of text
Cleveland Health Sciences Library (Robert M. Stecher collection)
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7445,” accessed on 9 February 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19