From John Brodie Innes 29 August 1
Milton Brodie | Forres.
We often speak and still more frequently think of you and yours, but my friend Stephens is too much occupied with parochial and family matters to send me many Gazettes about friends though he does write fully of all important parish matters,2 so I have not had particulars of you for an age and have determined to address a line to yourself to ask how you all are, How your son likes his Banking Employment3 I hope he will find it as profitable as the Lubbocks seem to do and not so conducive to gout as I hear it (or something else) is with them.4 The idea of a cottage shew of garden produce was a capital one, and from the report seems to have been quite a success.5 I suggested an addition of cottagers flowers to enliven the scene and encourage the ornamental, but it was not in time to be carried out this year.
I have to congratulate you on an accession to your honours, that your natural history researches should have caused a number of the lower animals to be called by your name was in the natural course but I did not look for a Duke Darwinii but there he is.6 By the way I hear he is very ill, if he dies you must get Owen to stuff him for you.7 I do not think I have any natural history for you, but that I lately saw a second instance of a donkey without a stripe.8 What do you think of the toads? My friend and neighbour Sir A Gordon Cumming has written about these being found in the cuttings of the new railway in large numbers.9 I cannot find that there is any good evidence of their being found actually in the stone, but it seems certain that they turned up, no one seems to know whence in very queer places, and though one here and there might be found in some deep hole with very little opening for air and food, it is odd that so many should appear, and I am sorry that no really scientific observer should have taken pains to make out when they really lived. I believe Dr. Innes of Forres or Dr. Gordon of Birnie would have been trustworthy but I think they both laugh at the notion and did not care to investigate.10
You and I have often had small arguments about rating for schools11 If you were here I think you would come over to my side. We pay in this parish about double what the Downe School costs, the education is not good and the behaviour of the children and moral conduct of the adult poor is very sad indeed. The abuse has crept in to make the schoolmaster’s post a step to the office of preacher in the Establishment,12 so the master who gets probably £120 and a house puts in an inefficient substitute and goes off to Edinburgh to keep terms The result of all this is that some clever boys get on and learn enough to go to college or get good situations and the general run who can only be at school a short time learn little. The moral condition is bad enough, and illegitimate children are in swarms and don’t they lie and cheat with a vengeance!
As to ourselves I have not much to tell you. Mrs. Innes13 is much as usual, not even as much up to walking as she was but seldom really poorly. She dines out at rare intervals, which is a gain— I dare say you heard we had a small run to Kent in the spring It was a fine contradiction of your theory that all goes well when the wife is master of events. I thought Mrs. Innes would want to see an invalide sister14 and offered to take her up and make arrangements for her to be in England for two months which she firmly declined then suddenly got a worse report of her sister and must go at a couple of days notice when I could make no comfortable arrangement, could only stay a few days, and was obliged to come back leaving all undone I specially wished, chief to see you and other friends at Downe. However happily the sister is better and I was able to give Johnny15 a week in Paris which pleased him. He works on pretty steadily with his tutor is vastly grown in stature and breadth and has been quite well since we have been here. I should have preferred his going on at School but think he suffers less than many boys would from being at home
I wish you would come down here and take a look at the red sandstone, and other interests of the North—
Our kindest regards to Mrs. Darwin and your family—
Believe me Dear Darwin | Yours faithfully | J Brodie Innes—
Duke of Argyll has been dubbed "Duke Darwinii" by papers.
Large number of toads have been found in railway cuttings; wishes a scientific observer had taken pains to explain where they came from.
Comments on Scottish schools and on the morals of the adult poor.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4283,” accessed on 25 April 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4283