skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Ludwig Rütimeyer   15 [and 16] January [1862]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Jan. 15th

Dear & honoured Sir

I have been confined to my bed by illness, otherwise I should have written sooner, & thanked you for your letter of Dec. 11th.—2

I grieve to say that I have no good news to tell. I applied to a friend & relation, who knows Lord Tankerville3 well, & I wrote a long letter to him with instructions, which he forwarded to Ld. Tankerville with a request from himself. But he has received no sort of answer!!4

My friend says Ld. Tankerville leads a strange solitary life; but is much surprised at receiving no answer. I am astonished at such rudeness. My friend thinks that perhaps he may send the skulls, though he will not take the trouble to write.— My friend naturally does not choose to write again, after being treated so rudely; but if he sees him in London this Spring will ask.— I yet hope that the Skulls may be sent; but am very fearful about the result.— If the old Lord Tankerville had been alive, I feel sure that we should have got them.—5

I cannot tell you how sincerely I grieve that I have failed to aid you in your most important & interesting investigations, but I have done all that I could.—

With sincere apologies, I remain Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin

P.S. I have just had another letter from my friend, Sir H. Holland, who says he will see Lord Tankerville or write to him again;6 & I think the noble Lord will be driven by shame to be more courteous.—


The letter from Rütimeyer has not been found, but see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to Ludwig Rütimeyer, 5 December [1861].
Charles Augustus Bennet, sixth earl of Tankerville.
See letter from Henry Holland, [3–14] January ]1862].
The fifth earl of Tankerville, also named Charles Augustus Bennet, had a keen interest and pride in his Chillingham cattle (see Ritvo 1992).
See letter from Henry Holland, 15 January [1862]. The daily postal delivery to Down arrived from Bromley at 8.30 A.M., which was before the first delivery from London arrived in Bromley at 9 A.M. (Post Office directory for the six home counties 1862, pp. 756, 822). It is consequently unlikely that CD received Holland’s letter on the same day that it was written; he would, rather, have received it on the following day. CD’s postscript was, therefore, probably added on 16 January.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Ritvo, Harriet. 1992. Race, breed, and myths of origin: Chillingham cattle as ancient Britons. Representations 39: 1–22.


Lord Tankerville has not responded to the request for the skulls which LR requires for his research. CD addressed Lord T through his friend Sir Henry Holland, who is prepared to try again, despite Lord T’s rudeness.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Karl Ludwig (Ludwig) Rütimeyer
Sent from
Source of text
Universitätsbibliothek Basel, Handschriften (G IV 91, 1)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3389,” accessed on 20 April 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10