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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. W. C. Fegan   [before 25 February 1880]1

Dear Mr. Fegan,

You ought not to have to write to me for permission to use the Reading Room.2 You have far more right to it than we have, for your services have done more for the village in a few months than all our efforts for many years. We have never been able to reclaim a drunkard, but through your services I do not know that there is a drunkard left in the village.

Now may I have the pleasure of handing the Reading Room over to you? Perhaps, if we should want it some night for a special purpose, you will be good enough to let us use it.

Yours sincerely, | Charles Darwin.


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and letters from Emma Darwin to H. E. Litchfield, 25 February 1880 (DAR 219.9: 222) and [8 March 1880] (DAR 219.9: 225). In the first of these Emma Darwin wrote, ‘The maids went to hear Mr Fegan last night & were delighted with him— The room quite full— There are to be regular meetings every Tuesday interspersed with tea drinkings.’ In the second letter, Emma noted, ‘Tuesday is the day of Mr Fegan’s lecture at the R. room’.
The letter from Fegan has not been found. The Reading Room had been opened in 1875 (Correspondence vol. 23, letter from Emma Darwin to J. B. Innes, 24 December [1875]).


Gladly turns reading room over to JWCF for his mission work. Through his gospel services there is not a drunkard left in the village.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
James William Condell Fegan
Sent from
Source of text
Fullerton 1930, p. 30

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12879,” accessed on 29 January 2023,