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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Richardson   [11 August 1837]1

My dear Sir

I am ashamed to trouble you again.2 But in your last letter you said you probably would pass through town about the fifteenth of this month.—3 I have this morning received intelligence (though not officially), that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had ordered a 1000£ for the publication of the Zoology of the Beagle’s Voyage.—4

I am particularly anxious to ask your advice upon one or two points, now that the plan is more settled.—5 If you could spare the time I should be most grateful for half an hour’s conversation.

If you would let me know I would call upon you, at any place you might fix, at any hour.— Perhaps you would send me a line telling me your plans.—

Excuse this letter—for I am writing against time, as I hear the Postman’s Bell.—6 I was very much obliged by the trouble you took in writing me so long account of the climate of North America—7 I cannot succeed in burying the Mammoth in the ice quite to my satisfaction8

Most truly yours| Chas. Darwin

36 | Great Marlborough St.



The date is established by the references to the probable acceptance of CD’s formal application to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for funds to assist with the expense of illustrating Zoology, sent on 3 August 1837 (see Correspondence vol. 2, letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, T. S. Rice, 3 August 1837), and to Richardson’s expected visit to London ‘about the fifteenth’. CD learned that his application had been approved in an interview with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Thomas Spring Rice, on 16 August (see ibid., letter to J. S. Henslow, 16 August [1837]). In 1837, the Friday preceding 15 August was 11 August.
That summer, CD had already paid a visit and written at least once to Richardson (see this volume, Supplement, letter to John Richardson, [24 July 1837]).
The letter from Richardson has not been found.
See n. 1, above; see also this volume, Supplement, letter to John Richardson, [24 July 1837] and n. 5.
Richardson was a former recipient of a Treasury grant to assist the publication of a scientific work (see this volume, Supplement, letter to John Richardson, [24 July 1837], n. 5).
Until 1846, in London and some provincial towns, letters for the last post were handed to a ‘bellman’ in the street; this form of collection was discontinued in the wake of Rowland Hill’s postal reforms (Daunton 1985, pp. 7, 8, 240).
This letter has not been found, but see this volume, Supplement, letter to John Richardson, [24 July 1837] and nn. 2–4 and 8. CD cited information on climate from Richardson’s zoological appendix to Back 1836 in Journal of researches, pp. 102, 274.
CD is referring to Elephas primigenius (a synonym of Mammuthus primigenius, the woolly mammoth; see, for example, Journal of researches, pp. 150–1). For the topic of large animals preserved in ice, see this volume, Supplement, letter to John Richardson, [24 July 1837], nn. 3, 4, and 8. By October or November 1837, the Journal of researches was at proof stage (Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II) and the problem of the entombment of large animals in ice had been resolved in CD’s mind (Journal of researches, pp. 297–8, 625–6).


Back, George. 1836. Narrative of the Arctic land expedition to the mouth of the great Fish River, and along the shores of the Arctic Ocean: in the years 1833, 1834, and 1835. London: John Murray.

Daunton, Martin J. 1985. Royal Mail: the Post Office since 1840. London and Dover, N.H.: Athlone Press.


Chancellor of the Exchequer has ordered £1000 for the publication of the Zoology. Would like to meet JR to ask his advice on one or two points.

Thanks for his long account of the climate of North America.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Richardson
Sent from
London, Gt Marlborough St, 36
Source of text
Scott Polar Research Institute (MS 1503/16/2)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 370F,” accessed on 23 June 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13 (Supplement)