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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Albert Günther   12 April [1873]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

April. 12th

My dear Günther

I find that I did not bring home any Tortoise from the Galapagos, as several were brought home by the surgeon & FitzRoy.—2 I have vague remembrance that specimens were given to the Military Institution in Whitehall (where there is a large model of the Battle of Waterloo) & I daresay Dr. Gray knows whether they still keep any specimens.3

I am sorry that you were not able to come any day to lunch with us. I shd. have come & seen you again at the Museum; but unexpected business occupied all my time during my last week in London4

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to CD’s visit to London. In 1873, CD was in London from 15 March until 10 April (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Robert McCormick was the surgeon on the Beagle voyage from 1831, but left the ship in Brazil in April 1832. For the rest of the voyage the assistant surgeon, Benjamin Bynoe, served as surgeon. Robert FitzRoy was the captain. In his Beagle diary for 18 September 1835, CD noted that a hunting party brought back fifteen tortoises, most of which were very large (R. D. Keynes ed. 1988, p. 353). In Journal of researches 2d ed., p. 394, CD referred to three tortoises he brought from three Galàpagos islands. These went to the British Museum. CD noted that neither he nor John Edward Gray could find any differences in the specimens, owing to the fact that they were too young.
A model of the battle of Waterloo is listed as item 2066 in the Official catalogue of the Royal United Service Museum, Whitehall, S.W. (Leetham 1914, pp. 141–3). There is no reference in the catalogue to any specimen from the Beagle voyage.
CD probably alludes to his part in organising a subscription for Thomas Henry Huxley (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [6 April 1873] and n. 2).


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.

Leetham, Arthur. 1914. Official catalogue of the Royal United Service Museum, Whitehall, S.W. 4th edition. Southwark: Council of the Royal United Service Institution.


CD did not bring any tortoises back from the Galapagos. There may be specimens at the Military Institution in Whitehall.

Sorry AG was unable to lunch with the Darwins during their stay in London.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Albrecht Carl Ludwig Gotthilf (Albert) Günther
Sent from
Source of text
Shrewsbury School, Taylor Library (40)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8858,” accessed on 21 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21