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Darwin Correspondence Project

To H. N. Moseley   4 February 1879

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Feb. 4th 1879

Dear Moseley

I have at last read every word of your book, & it has excited in me greater interest than any other scientific book which I have read for a long time.—1 You will perhaps be surprised how slow I have been, but my head prevents me reading except at intervals. If I were asked which parts had interested me most, I shd. be somewhat perplexed to answer.

I fancy that the general reader would prefer your account of Japan. For myself I hesitate between your discussions & description of the Southern ice, which seem to me admirable, & the last chapter which contained many facts & views new to me. Though I had read your papers on the stony Hydroid Corals, yet your resumé made me realise better than I had done before, what a most curious case it is.—2 You have also collected a surprising number of valuable facts bearing on the dispersal of plants,—far more than in any other book known to me.—3

In fact your volume is a mass of interesting facts & discussions, with hardly a superfluous word; & I heartily congratulate you on its publication.

Your Dedication makes me prouder than ever.—4

Believe me | yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


Moseley had sent CD a copy of his Notes by a naturalist on the ‘Challenger’ (Moseley 1879); see letter to H. N. Moseley, 20 January 1879.
Moseley’s chapter on Japan and the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) is in Moseley 1879, pp. 481–512. His account ‘Amongst the Southern ice’ is on pp. 232–55, and the final chapter (pp. 565–99) concerns life on the ocean surface and in the deep sea. For Moseley’s papers on hydroid corals, see Moseley 1875b and 1878.
Moseley had also published earlier work on seed dispersal in Moseley 1875a.
For Moseley’s dedication to CD in Moseley 1879, see the letter to H. N. Moseley, 20 January 1879 and n. 1.


Moseley, Henry Nottidge. 1875a. Notes on plants collected and observed at the Admiralty Islands, March 3 to 10, 1875. [Read 16 December 1875.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 15 (1877): 73–82.

Moseley, Henry Nottidge. 1875b. On the structure and relations of the alcyonarian Heliopora cærulea, with some account of the anatomy of a species of Sarcophyton, notes on the structure of species of the genera Millepora, Pocillopora, and Stylaster, and remarks on the affinities of certain palæozoic corals. [Read 25 November 1875.] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 166 (1876): 91–129.

Moseley, Henry Nottidge. 1878. The Croonian lecture.— On the structure of the stylasteridæ, a family of the hydroid stony corals. [Read 28 February 1878.] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 169: 425–503.

Moseley, Henry Nottidge. 1879. Notes by a naturalist on the ‘Challenger’, being an account of various observations made during the voyage of H.M.S. ‘Challenger’ round the world, in the years 1872–1876. London: Macmillan and Co.


Comments on HNM’s book [Notes by a naturalist on the "Challenger" (1879)].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Henry Nottidge Moseley
Sent from
Source of text
Christie’s, London (dealers) (online 31 October – 8 November 2018, lot 13)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11858,” accessed on 20 October 2021,