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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. B. Clarke   20 June 1862

St Leonard’s | N.S.W

20th June 1862

My dear Sir,

I am glad you got my tin box with the crammed contents, which I did not know how to send otherwise.1

I thank you very much for your kind introduction to Mr. Moore.2

I write to him by this Mail, and will send to him the Fossils much increased by new findings, in July; among others huge Ammonitidæ.

I have also written to Mr. Rupert Jones about getting my whole collections of Tertiary, Secy and Palæozoic fossils described and figured.3 I want to find some one or more who would undertake the service. The Parliament here have in addition to the 2000£ I had before from N.S.W and Victoria, put me into a pension of £[200] per an. and also propose this year to give me 5000£ in addition for my past and future services, if I will write a book for them containing all I know about the Geology of these parts.4 at the same time the Radical Members are hoping here to cut down all State Aid to the Clergy. I may, perhaps, therefore be not able to do what I would in the money way—but I doubt not I should be able to make some remuneration for the Palæontological work I require. Can you assist Mr Jones in telling me what it is best to do. I have thousands of fossils—of which hundreds are distinct species. I can work up M’Coy’s description of those I sent to Cambridge by re-printing his paper.5 And as the book is for the Colony, I intend to have figured every Colonial fossil I can get—if I find the means.

I am sorry you broke the supposed Cirripede.6 But I have myself serious doubts now, if it was such. I never recognised such a structure in the wings of Pecten or Monotis:—but I begin to think it belonged to one or other. Mr. Moore will have another and then you can determine it.

It was the .... … line of dots which partly induced me to think the thing was a valve of a Cirripede.

I will try and get you some native Comb.—7

I have applied to some persons on whom I can rely, with respect to the Gardenias. They grow here—but not in gardens: so there is a difficulty.— Last year the Eucalypti did not seed much— this year the seeds are forming abundantly. We have had a mild dry autumn and thus far winter. Perhaps moisture has something to do with it. For the ants are as usual every where at all times up and down.

Every now & then I am hearing of people who find trees partly living or recent partly converted into stone. I〈s〉 that a fact known out of 〈Aus〉tralia? It might account for stone trees lying on the surface of our plains—without calling in the aid of a post mortem silicification.

I hope you will soon recover your health and strength. ‘Serus in cælum redeas”.8 I have also been ill of late, but I effected a partial cure by taking a hammer and walking up and down the railway lines, examining sections, in [illeg] and Illawarra. I am going next week to Mount [illeg], the top of wh. you saw when you went to Bathurst.9

Believe me, My dear Sir, Yours very truly | W. B. Clarke

C. Darwin Esqe. F.R.S.


In January 1862, Clarke had sent CD a copy of Clarke 1861b and a specimen of a fossil cirripede (see letter from W. B. Clarke, 16 January 1862, and n. 6, below); the box may have contained these items.
Clarke, seeking someone to describe his important collection of fossils from Wollumbilla Creek in Queensland, had asked CD whether he knew the geologist Charles Moore, or whether there was anyone else he could recommend to undertake the description of his entire collection of Australasian fossils (see letter from W. B. Clarke, 21 January 1862).
Thomas Rupert Jones was an assistant secretary, librarian, and curator at the Geological Society of London. He also edited the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society (DNB).
The legislative councils of Victoria and New South Wales had each voted Clarke £1000 for his researches into the gold resources of the southern highlands of New South Wales, made between September 1861 and June 1862 (Jervis [1945], p. 66). Following a campaign by Clarke’s friends in 1860–1, the legislative council of New South Wales appointed a committee to examine his entitlement to further recognition for his services in developing the mineral resources of the colony; the committee’s report was positive, and he was granted an allowance of £200 per annum in 1861. In May 1862, a deputation to the Colonial Secretary, Charles Cowper, urged that Clarke be presented with a sum in acknowledgment of his services, that would allow him to publish the results of his work in England. However, while £5000 was placed on the estimates, that amount was reduced to £3000 when the matter was brought before the legislative council (ibid., pp. 67–8).
McCoy 1847. Frederick McCoy, professor of zoology and natural history at the University of Melbourne, had worked at the Woodwardian Museum in the University of Cambridge between 1846 and 1850, where he described the Australasian fossils sent to Britain by Clarke.
CD’s letter has not been found. The reference is to a fossil cirripede specimen that Clarke sent to CD in January (see letter from W. B. Clarke, 21 January 1862).
The reference is to native Australian bee-combs (see letter from W. B. Clarke, 16 January 1862). In the letter to W. B. Clarke, 25 October [1861] (Correspondence vol. 9), CD had asked Clarke for information on the effects of introduced species on native species. CD was writing a draft of the chapter on ‘Silk-worms Geese &c’ for Variation (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II)); this chapter also included a section on hive-bees (Variation 1: 297–9).
Horace, Odes, 1.2.45: ‘Late be thy journey home’.
CD visited Bathurst, New South Wales, in 1836 during the Beagle voyage (Journal of researches, p. 442).


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

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Jervis, James. [1945.] W. B. Clarke: ""The father of Australian geology"". Sydney: Royal Australian Historical Society. [Vols. 9,10]

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

McCoy, Frederick. 1847. On the fossil botany and zoology of the rocks associated with the coal of Australia. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 20: 145–57, 226–36, 298–312.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Has received Australian government grant to collect and publish on fossils. Has collected thousands of fossils.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Branwhite Clarke
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 161.2: 174
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3616,” accessed on 4 July 2020,

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