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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Alexander Baillie Hamilton1    28 March [1848]2

Down | Farnborough | Kent

March 28th


I have just heard from Sir John Herschel that my parcel of “Scientific Instructions” has not been received, or has been mislaid at the Admiralty.3

It was of such very large size & secured inside with string, that I think it quite impossible, that it can have been lost by the Post Office.— I have traced it into the Office at this place where it was posted, I believe on the 15th inst.— The direction was very plain, & was exactly as follows

On H. M. Service To the Secretary (for Sir J. W. Herschel B) Admiralty London Scientific Instructions C. Darwin

I think it certain that it is at the Admiralty, or has been sent to some other person, instead of to Sir J. Herschel. Or is it possible that Ld. Auckland can have taken it?4 I beg sincerely to apologise for giving so much trouble, but I do hope that you will kindly take the trouble to have an accurate search made for it, as it would cause me the loss of some weeks of labour. The M.S extending to 50 M.S. pages.—

I beg to remain | Sir | Your very obedient sert | C. Darwin

I should be extremely much obliged by an answer after a search & then I will write to the Post Office5

To R A B. Hamilton Esq


Although CD addressed the letter to ‘R A B. Hamilton Esq’, this seems to have been a mistake. The letter is clearly intended to go to W. A. B. Hamilton, who was secretary to the Admiralty from 1845 to 1855; it is included in Hamilton’s papers in the Public Record Office.
The year is given by the reference to CD’s chapter on geology prepared for the Admiralty Manual of scientific enquiry, edited by John Frederick William Herschel (Herschel ed. 1849). CD completed his chapter on 20 March 1848 (see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix I).
CD had sent his parcel of manuscript on 21 March (see Correspondence vol. 4, letter to J. F. W. Herschel, [21 March 1848]).
George Eden, Earl of Auckland, was first lord of the Admiralty from 1846 to 1849.
A letter from Herschel, dated 23 March 1848, instructing Hamilton to search for the parcel had already been circulated in the Admiralty to no avail. This letter bears an official stamp ‘MAR. 28 1848’. CD’s letter was also circulated, but the Admiralty was unable to trace the manuscript and CD had to send another copy to Herschel. See Correspondence vol. 4, letter to J. F. W. Herschel, 7 May [1848].


Sir John Herschel has not received the parcel of "Scientific Instructions", which was posted on the 15th. He requests an accurate search at the Admiralty.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Alexander Baillie Hamilton
Sent from
Source of text
The National Archives (TNA) (ADM/5580 009075)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1166A,” accessed on 26 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7 (Supplement)