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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Edward Cresy   [May 1848]1

Down, Farnborough, Kent


Dear Cresy

I am extremely much obliged for all the great trouble you have taken so kindly about Darluc.2 I think that probably next summer I shall have to go to Paris about my Barnacles3 and I shall then know where I can see this most troublesome book, but I will, also, call at Bailliere’s4 in Regent St.— The Barnacles will put off my species book for a rather long period.— Thank you for forwarding to me Mr. W’s5 letter, (which I return having copied out the references); what an amusing style he writes; he must I should think be a very pleasant man and I am sure he must be the most good-natured man in all Europe. What trouble he took about the book; as I read on, I really felt ashamed of myself. When you write to him, I particularly beg you to give him from me my most sincere thanks for his extraordinary kindness. I marvel at and honour such good-nature; I don’t think I should have taken so much trouble for all my kith and kin. And again let me thank you for so kindly remembering my wish.

I believe your judgment to be quite right about the Second vol. of Kosmos,6 but I confess with shame I was unable to appreciate its merits. Such long semi-antiquarian discussions appeared to me out of proportion to the rest of the book, and hardly compatible with a grand coup d’œil of the whole universe.7 But then I am such a Goth that I have some prejudice against antiquarianism, which is a bold confession when made to you.8 Did you read Herschel’s review of Kosmos in the Edinburgh;9 it struck me as very good. From all I hear, I should expect that Mrs. Somerville’s Phys. Geography10 would suit you.— I referred to the Journal des Savans for Chevreul’s article11 and I found that I had read it, as republished in the Annals des Sciences Naturelles: I must try and see Odart’s Ampelographie.12 I will not fail to let you know whenever my drawings are made of the Cirripedia (i.e Barnacles) but I hardly know when that will be, for my work retrogrades, i.e, as I keep on finding out new points, I have to hark back to genera, which I thought I had completed. Whenever they are finished or partly so, I hope you will come over and sleep here.— What zeal you have to care about my poor Barnacles, at which most of my friends laugh.

Once again thank you much for all your trouble about Darluc, and believe me | dear Cresy | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin

Pray remember me to your father.


Dated by the publication date of Somerville 1848 and on the assumption that CD wrote soon after he had read volume two of Humboldt 1846–8, as mentioned in the letter (see nn. 6 and 10, below).
Darluc 1782–6. See letter to Edward Cresy, [before May 1848?].
No such visit was made. CD never left Britain after his return from the Beagle voyage. He eventually read Darluc 1782–6 in January 1851 (DAR 119; Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV).
Hippolyte Baillière, a bookseller who specialised in French medical and scientific works (Modern English Biography).
‘Mr. W’ has not been identified.
A. von Humboldt 1846–8, the English translation by Elizabeth Juliana Sabine. CD refers to the second volume, published in 1848, which he recorded having read in May (DAR 119; Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV). Volumes one and two are in the Darwin Library–Down.
Volume two of A. von Humboldt 1846–8 opens with a section entitled ‘Incitements to the study of nature’, comprising a history of poetic descriptions of nature, landscape painting, and the culture of exotic plants. The remaining pages deal with the history of the contemplation of the universe from the earliest times to the modern period.
Both of Cresy’s parents wrote books devoted to ancient and medieval architecture. Edward Cresy Sr was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (DNB).
Herschel 1848. The review appeared in the January issue of the Edinburgh Review. Praising Alexander von Humboldt for his knowledge, John Frederick William Herschel reviewed volume one of the German edition (A. von Humboldt 1845–62) favourably and expected volume two (only part of which was available to him in proof-sheets) to be a valuable, albeit more literary and less scientific, contribution.
Mary Somerville’s book (Somerville 1848) was published late in April (Publishers’ Circular, 1 May 1848, p. 147).
Michel Eugène Chevreul. See Variation 2: 129, where CD cited Chevreul 1846, p. 189, on the vigour of crossed fruit trees.
CD recorded reading the second edition of Alexandre Pierre Odart’s treatise on the botany of vines (Odart 1849) in December 1851 (DAR 119; Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV). This work is cited in Variation 1: 133, 375; 2: 278. CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL.


Chevreul, Michel Eugène. 1846. Considérations générales sur les variations des individus qui composent les groupes appelés, en histoire naturelle, variétés, races, sous-espèces et espèces. Annales des Sciences Naturelles (Botanique) 3d ser. 6: 142–214.

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

Darluc, Michel. 1782–6. Histoire naturelle de la Provence, contenant ce qu’il y a de plus remarquable dans les règnes végétal, minéral, animal et la partie géoponique. 3 vols. Avignon.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Herschel, John Frederick William. 1848. Review of Alexander von Humbold’s Kosmos and of Cosmos, vol. 1, translated by Elizabeth Julia Sabine. Edinburgh Review 87: 170– 229.

Humboldt, Alexander von. 1845–62. Kosmos. Entwurf einer physischen Weltbeschreibung. 5 vols. Stuttgart and Tübingen.

Odart, Alexandre Pierre, Comte. 1849. Ampélographie universelle, ou traité des cépages les plus estimés dans tous les vignobles de quelque renom. 2d ed. Paris.

Somerville, Mary. 1848. Physical geography. 2 vols. London.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


May go to Paris next summer about barnacles.

Unable to appreciate second volume of Alexander von Humboldt’s Cosmos [1848].

Recommends review by Sir John Herschel [Edinburgh Rev. 87 (1848): 170–229].

Recommends book by Mary Somerville [Physical geography (1848)].

Mentions article [on species] by M. E. Chevreul [Ann. Sci. Nat. (Bot.) 3d ser. 6 (1846): 142–214].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Edward Cresy, Jr
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 143: 305
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1171,” accessed on 20 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 4