skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Hugh Falconer to Erasmus Alvey Darwin   3 January 1865

21 Park Crescent N.W.

3d. Jany 1865

My Dear Mr. Darwin

Dr. Sharpey called today and brought the letter about which I spoke to you.1 I send it enclosed—and should like your Brother to see it—as he has seen the other notes—and may think from Sabines citation of my words in one of them, that I was hard upon the “Origin”.2

You will see—taking the whole passage—that I stuck up staunchly for the “Book”—and urged it as an additional claim3—and I should be sorry that Charles Darwin should think otherwise.

Ask him to return the note—as it belongs to Dr. Sharpey—being the original, and I shall have to send it back to him.

Yours very Sinly | H. Falconer

P.S. on second thoughts—you need not trouble your Brother—with the note.4 It will be sufficient for me that you have seen what I have said.



See Correspondence vol. 12, letter from Hugh Falconer to William Sharpey, 25 October 1864. In his letter to Sharpey, Falconer gave the grounds on which he supported CD for the Royal Society’s Copley Medal. Falconer had seconded George Busk’s nomination of CD for the medal at the meeting of the Royal Society Council on 23 June 1864; however, he was unable to attend the meeting at which the discussion of the award of the medals was to begin. The Council voted to award CD the medal on 3 November 1864 (Royal Society, Council minutes).
The president of the Royal Society, Edward Sabine, had written an address for the 30 November 1864 meeting of the Society, based in part on information he received from Falconer (letter from Edward Sabine to William Sharpey, 29 December 1864, Royal Society, Misc. Mss. 19, no. 41). The address contained the remark that Origin had not been included among the grounds of the Copley award. A controversy arose over whether Sabine’s address had misrepresented the views of the Council (see Correspondence vol. 12, Appendix IV). Hooker had written to CD in his letter of 2 December 1864 (Correspondence vol. 12) about the ‘small breeze’ at the anniversary meeting, noting that Falconer was ‘grievously put out’ and had written a letter to Sabine on the subject. The ‘other notes’ to which Falconer refers have not been identified; no letter in which Falconer’s words are cited by Sabine has been found.
In the letter to William Sharpey, 25 October 1864 (Correspondence vol. 12), Falconer urged the Council of the Royal Society to consider Origin as ‘a strong additional claim on behalf of Mr. Darwin for the Copley Medal’. In his letter of 3 November 186[4] (Correspondence vol. 12), Falconer wrote: ‘Your friends—including myself did not fail to stand up for “the Origin of Specs”—as establishing a strong claim.’
Despite Falconer’s concerns, reiterated in his letter to E. A. Darwin of 5 January [1865], the enclosed letter was forwarded to CD (see letter to Hugh Falconer, 6 January [1865]).


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

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Encloses letter [missing] which he believes will clear up the part he played in Edward Sabine’s Presidential Address. Does not wish CD to think that he did not support the Origin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Hugh Falconer
Erasmus Alvey Darwin
Sent from
London, Park Crescent, 21
Source of text
DAR 164: 23
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4737,” accessed on 22 February 2020,

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