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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Richard Kippist?1   11 December [1860]2

Down Bromley Kent

Dec. 11th.

Dear Sir

I will return the two vols. in Hand on Thursday morning, & will you be so kind as to have the following Books ready for me.—

Mém du Mus. d’Hist. Nat. Tom 8.3

Edinburg. Phil. Journal XIV (published about 35 years ago)4

Reports of Brit. Assoc. for the year, when Prof. Owen was President;5 it is the volume containing his address which I wish to see.—   Will you kindly look for volume.—

Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | C. Darwin


The recipient is suggested by the reference in the letter to J. D. Hooker, 26 November [1860], to Kippist’s writing to CD about a book that CD wished to borrow from the library of the Linnean Society. Kippist was librarian to the society.
The year is given by the reference to articles CD needed for the preparation of the third edition of Origin (see nn. 4 and 5, below).
It is not clear which paper in this volume of the Mémoires du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle CD wished to read. None of them is cited in the third edition of Origin or in Variation. CD may possibly have consulted a paper by Adolphe Théodore Brongniart on the classification and distribution of fossil plants (Brongniart 1822) or one by René Joachim Henri Dutrochet on the crossing of plants (Dutrochet 1822).
This volume of the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal contained an article by the zoologist Robert Edmond Grant, who had befriended CD during his time at Edinburgh University, that referred to Grant’s belief in transmutation (Grant 1826). The paper is cited in the ‘Historical sketch’ included in the third edition of Origin, p. xiv: In 1826, Professor Grant, in the concluding paragraph in his well-known paper (Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, vol. xiv. p. 283) on the Spongilla, clearly declares his belief that species are descended from other species, and that they become improved in the course of modification. This passage had not appeared in the first version of the historical sketch published in the revised American and German editions of Origin. For CD’s recollection of learning about Grant’s transformist views, see Autobiography, p. 49.
Richard Owen was president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1858. CD cited his presidential address (R. Owen 1858) in the historical sketch in the third edition of Origin, pp. xvi–xvii, stating that Owen had addressed the question of species change in speaking about ‘the axiom of the continuous operation of creative power, or of the ordained becoming of living things.’


Autobiography: The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809–1882. With original omissions restored. Edited with appendix and notes by Nora Barlow. London: Collins. 1958.

Brongniart, Adolphe. 1822. Sur la classification et la distribution des végétaux fossiles en général, et sur ceux des terrains de sédiment supérieur en particulier. Mémoires du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle 8: 203–40.

Dutrochet, René Joachim Henri. 1822. Recherches sur l’accroissement et la reproduction des végétaux. Mémoires du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle 8: 12–46, 241–96.

Grant, Robert Edmond. 1826. On the structure and nature of the Spongilla friabilis. Edinburgh Philosophical Journal 14: 270–84. [Vols. 8,9]

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

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


Orders several volumes: Mémoires du Muséum national d’histoire naturelle 8 (1822), Edinburgh Philosophical Journal 14 (1826), and BAAS Report containing Owen’s Presidential Address [1858, pp. xli–cx].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Richard Kippist
Sent from
Source of text
University of Virginia Library, Special Collections (3314 1: 82)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3016,” accessed on 31 July 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8