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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Leonard Darwin   25 November 1874

Nov 25 1874

My dear old Leonardo.

We were so much delighted to get your Capital letter which I relished much, as it recalled old scenes on board the Beagle.1 I am very sorry that the S.E. Trades were so bad, for they were to us Heaven on Earth.2 I have often intended writing a scrap to you before, but my bothering correspondents seem steadily to increase in number, and I think in folly, for I have just answered two precious fools. I have been working very hard about the Droseraceæ, and now see day light., for I have only one other very long chapter to write out for the first time, and then will begin the tedious work of making sentences ship-shape, and choosing the best words.3 Murray’s sale occurred the other day and 2070 copies of my books were sold, including 1350 of the new Edit of the Descent which quite satisfies me—4

We go up to Henrietta’s next week, and I shall be very glad of a few days rest.5

As far as I can judge Frank write a very valuable essay on capillary circulation, which is an important subject as bearing on inflammation, which common as it is, is very little understood6

Farewell my dear Leonard— the Lord have mercy on us to think that you were once a pouter with long curly hair

Your affectionat Father | (sd) Ch Darwin


CD refers to the letter from Leonard Darwin to Emma Darwin, [after 26 June – 28 September 1874], describing the events of his voyage to New Zealand, which included the mock shaving ceremonies that marked the crossing of the equator. When on board the Beagle, CD participated in the ‘most disagreeable operation’ of having his face rubbed with paint and tar before he was ‘shaved’ with a saw (see Correspondence vol. 1, letter to R. W. Darwin, 8 February – 1 March 1832). Leonard was travelling to New Zealand as part of the scientific expedition to observe the transit of Venus.
Leonard had described how the squally and changeable south-east trade winds had driven the ship very near to the coast (see letter from Leonard Darwin to Emma Darwin, [after 26 June – 28 September 1874].
CD had begun writing up his research on Drosera (sundew) at the beginning of April 1874 (‘Journal’ (Appendix II)); it was published as Insectivorous plants on 2 July 1875 (Freeman 1977).
Descent 2d ed., along with some of CD’s other works, was sold to leading booksellers on 13 November 1874 at John Murray’s sale dinner (see letter from R. F. Cooke, 17 November 1874 and n. 2). A total of 2093 books were sold; 2070 is possibly a misreading by the copyist.
CD stayed with Henrietta Emma Litchfield from 3 to 12 December 1874 (‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Francis Darwin’s essay was published in 1876 under the title ‘On the primary vascular dilation in acute inflammation’ (F. Darwin 1876).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Descent 2d ed.: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1874.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.


LD’s letter recalled old scenes on board the Beagle.

CD’s "bothering correspondents" seem to increase in number and in folly; has just answered "two precious fools".

Has been working very hard on Droseraceae and can "now see daylight".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Leonard Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 153: 91
Physical description
C 2pp inc

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9733,” accessed on 23 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22