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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Anton Dohrn   29 July 1875

Midland Grand Hotel, | London.

29. July. 1875

Dear Mr. Darwin!

Just when leaving Trinity College, where I had enjoyed Mr. Balfour’s kind hospitality, he told me, that an invitation from you had arrived for me and Mrs. Dohrn, “if she were here.”1

I have to thank you very cordially for it, but unfortunately for me I am so much pressed with business, and that of such a restless character, that I find neither time nor, what is still more important, a fit disposition of mind to present me in society, and especially in a house like yours, where the “accessit”2 ought only be given to people, who are not likely to be a bother in any way. Experience has proved to me, that I belong to this class in general, and finding, that all I would have to say to you, would be to thank you once more very heartily and earnestly for having once rescued me from shipwrecking, I think I may do this as well in a letter, and defer a visit to such period, where the care for the Zoological Station will have let me free and the food-yolk of my embryonic scientific conceptions may have so far disappeared as to allow a fuller presentation of the Embryo to eyes like yours.3

Mrs. Dohrn will be proud to hear, that she ought to have had the honour of seeing you and your family;— she carries with her the Volume you so kindly sent to me to Naples, when I already had left.4 It will be my reward for the present, not to pleasant railway-life, that at home on our country-house I shall be able to read “Insectivorus plants” with all possible ease and quietness, and vote repeated thanks to its Author and kind Donator.

Mr. Balfour will vivify this letter in telling you how disagreable a man I have become,— I can only express the hope, that future time may give me an occasion to present me in your house in a better condition of mind, than I am in at present.

With my kindest regards to Mrs. Darwin | your sons and yourself | Yours faithfully | Anton Dohrn


Francis Maitland Balfour was a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; he had visited Dohrn at the Naples Zoological Station in 1874 (Correspondence vol. 22, letter from Anton Dohrn, 6 April 1874). Dohrn’s wife was Maria Dohrn.
Accessit: he or she came near (Latin).
CD had helped to raise funds in support of Dohrn’s Zoological Station at Naples (see Correspondence vol. 22).
Dohrn’s name is on CD’s presentation list for Insectivorous plants (Appendix IV).


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

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.


Regrets he is too busy to accept CD’s invitation to visit Down, but could only thank him again for saving the Zoological Station from shipwreck.

Letter details

Letter no.
Felix Anton (Anton) Dohrn
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Midland Grand Hotel, London
Source of text
DAR 162: 217
Physical description
4pp, encl 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10101,” accessed on 6 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23