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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. B. Innes   12 December 1868

Milton Brodie | Forres | N.B.

12th. Decr. 1868

Dear Darwin,

Many thanks for your letter. If I get any more information on the supposed hybrid you shall have it.1 She looks an uncommon queer beast to me. There is no suspicion of any tampering. The brother of the woman whose cow was her mother brought him down here as a curiosity; and sold her for £10. about her value if a common little brute for meat—

Your other communication is serious. I had a hint of the kind, too vague to act on in any way, a few days ago. It was my intention, on the sole ground of absenting himself, to give Mr. Robinson notice to go. I could not legally do this but should have to ask the Archbishop to withdraw his license, but I should not be justified in doing this while other accusations are made which, if utterly groundless, he should be able to refute.2

I am exceedingly obliged to you for letting me know there are such afloat; and only to this extent do I consider your letter goes, and it is entirely confidential. But on the one hand it is utterly unjust to the Church to turn loose a disreputable man; on the other it would be equally unjust in me to refuse to sign Robinson’s testimonials, and prevent his obtaining another Curacy, or Preferment, on a mere rumour, which, for all I know, may be a mistake of identity made by some drunken blackguard. So I issue a challenge to the whole Parish; which I send to you addressing the cover to Mr Allen,3 but you may take it out, and give it to any one else.

I can only say that though I do not know Mr. Robinson I would try to protect him from malicious accusations but if he is immoral I will do all in my power to get him out forthwith—

I am quite sure you will support me in these notions.

How heartily I now wish I had resigned Downe many years ago I need not say.4 I do not wish I had never seen it for then I should have missed making many kind friends and I hope I have some satisfaction in looking back on intercourse with some good Christians who have gone to their rest—

With our kindest regards to Mrs Darwin | Believe me With many thanks | Yours faithfully | J Brodie Innes


See letter to J. B. Innes, 10 December [1868] and n. 2. The animal referred to was supposed to be a hybrid of a Highland cow and a deer.
CD refers to John Warburton Robinson. See letter to J. B. Innes, 10 December [1868] and n. 3.
Frederick Allen’s wife, Frances Allen, had complained to Emma Darwin about Robinson’s conduct (see letter to J. B. Innes, 10 December [1868]).


Will try to get more information about the supposed hybrid [of cow and deer].

The rumours about John Robinson [curate of Down] cause JBI concern. He will seek to get the facts – will try to protect Robinson against malicious rumours, but if he is immoral he must go forthwith.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Brodie Innes
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Milton Brodie
Source of text
DAR 167: 22
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6501,” accessed on 17 April 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16