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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Darwin   [after 22 May 1871]1

University “Pitt” Club

Dear Father

I will xplain about Hospital— One goes there (1) to keep lectures wh are wanted for the MB exams (2) to keep so many months hospital practice2   I cannot get away from here till the 9th of June & Stirling3 thinks that I couldn’t keep the lectures for this summer term even if I went on till July 31—also I have kept at Cambridge the lectures for a 1st year student so I dont lose time by missing the summer term lectures in London4—tho of course it wd be nice to begin working off my 2nd year lectures

(2) I shall be able to do 6 weeks hospital practice which make up the right number months to be kept. So I think it is all right—

I have hunted through all the Records & through Englemann,5 the only paper on the eye of the Cuttle fish is by Hensen in the Ann Sc Nat, I will send reference, but it wd amuse me to make a short abstract of the differences between the Vert eye & its eye if that will do—6

Yrs affec | FD

I will hunt for the developement of the eye   I havnt read Goodman7

I cant get a mole


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the first letter from Francis Darwin, [after 22 May 1871].
Francis was studying medicine at St George’s Hospital, London (Darwin 1920, p. 67). CD had offered to pay for Francis to accompany his brother George Howard Darwin and Cambridge friends to the United States as long as the trip did not interfere with his medical studies (see letter to Francis Darwin, 16 May [1871]).
Edward Charles Stirling was a fellow student of Francis’s at St George’s Hospital, London (Alum. Cantab.).
Francis was evidently attending lectures at Cambridge Medical School.
Francis probably refers to the Zoological Record and to the German periodical Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Zoologie, edited by Wilhelm Engelmann.
CD cited the article by Victor Hensen (Hensen 1865) in Origin 6th ed., pp. 151–2. For CD’s interest in the relationship between the eyes of cuttlefish (and other cephalopods) and the eyes of vertebrates, see the letter to Francis Darwin, 21 May [1871] and n. 10.
CD had remarked on a review of Descent, Mivart 1871, and Wallace 1871 by Neville Goodman (Goodman 1871; see letter to Francis Darwin, 21 May [1871] and n. 6).


Alum. Cantab.: Alumni Cantabrigienses. A biographical list of all known students, graduates and holders of office at the University of Cambridge, from the earliest times to 1900. Compiled by John Venn and J. A. Venn. 10 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1922–54.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Goodman, Neville. 1871. Review of Descent, St. G. Mivart, Genesis of species and A. R. Wallace, Contributions to the theory of natural selection. Journal of Anatomy and Physiology 5 (1870–1): 363–72.

Hensen, Christian Andreas Victor. 1865. Über das Auge einiger Cephalopoden. Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Zoologie 15: 155–242.

Origin 6th ed.: The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 6th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.


Explains about the attendance at St George’s hospital that is required for the MB examaminations, and how this would affect plans for a trip to north America.

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Philip Trevelyan (private collection) DAR 274.1: 16
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7765G,” accessed on 4 October 2022,

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