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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Philip Gidley King   16 September 1862

Goonoo Goonoo. New South ⁠⟨⁠Wales⁠⟩⁠

16 Sepr. 1862

My dear Mr. Darwin

My brother John1 is now on a visit to England & I have asked him if he has time to call on you. I am sure he would not regret making your acquaintance & I should rejoice on his return to the Colony to know that he had seen you. His address is

care of Messrs. Stillwell & Co.2

22 Arundel Street


I should so much like him to see you that he might bring me a description of, as Jonathan says, your “location”3 and of yourself and doings. Your work the Origin of Species has a prominent place in my Library & was read with much interest. I think you are thought by many to be right who will hardly allow it. I feel in the small scope of my Experience that there is much truth in yr. deductions, but the question is where do they lead us to—or what is their limit. I have recently joined in a Newspaper correspondence relative to breeding Sheep in the Colony, upholding the idea that we can breed as good sheep as can be imported

I remember a very old letter you once wrote me asking why it was necessary to go on importing.4 I was too green then to know much about yr. queries, but I now ask the same question—. One of our most eminent breeders a Mr. Bayly5 had written that Australia is the finest country for producing Sheep (ie wool and Mutton especially wool.) yet he continued unless occasional importations are made, a degeneracy ensues.— with these assertions he coupled another that he had sheep without a fault. I thought his logic so bad that I pressed him for a cause for the degeneracy—but he could not explain at all what it proceeded from. I believe it is caused (for that there is degeneracy no one can doubt) by carelessness feeding sheep in large flocks, hunting them with dogs, obliging them to travel every day 4 or 5 miles for food & keeping them 14 hours out of the 24 without it— If we could afford with cheaper labor to keep Sheep as they are kept in Germany we might soon export Rams there

If you ever publish your promised large work on yr. favorite Subject I shall look out for it eagarly—.6 We have now grown up families— I think we should never recognize each other   I wish you would send me your carde de Visite if you ever indulge in such matters

With kindest remembrances Ever My dear Mr Darwin | Yr very sincere old friend | Philip Gidley King

If you ever see Admiral FitzRoy will you remember me to him—7

Charles Darwin Esq.


John King was Philip Gidley King’s younger brother.
John G. & Thomas Stilwell were naval agents (Post Office London directory 1861).
Jonathan: ‘a generic name for the people of the United States, and also for a representative United States citizen’ (OED). In the sense of ‘place of settlement or residence’, ‘location’ is chiefly United States usage (OED).
CD’s letter has not been found. After leaving HMS Beagle, King had become a farmer in New South Wales (Aust. dict. biog.).
Nicholas Paget Bayly.
CD stated in the introduction to Origin that the book was an abstract of a larger work that was ‘nearly finished’, but would take ‘two or three more years to complete’ (p. 1). He intended to publish the larger work in three parts (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to John Murray, 22 December [1859]); however, the only part he completed was Variation, published in 1868. The remainder of CD’s first draft of his ‘big book’ on species was published posthumously as Natural selection.
Robert FitzRoy was captain of HMS Beagle during the voyage of 1831–6, when CD and King were on board.


Aust. dict. biog.: Australian dictionary of biography. Edited by Douglas Pike et al. 14 vols. [Melbourne]: Melbourne University Press. London and New York: Cambridge University Press. 1966–96.

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

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.

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.

Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.

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


PGK’s brother is coming to England and will call on CD.

He is impressed but not absolutely convinced by the Origin.

Raises a question about which CD wrote years ago: why do sheep degenerate in Australia, necessitating periodic importation?

Letter details

Letter no.
Philip Gidley King
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Goonoo Goonoo, New South Wales
Source of text
DAR 169: 26
Physical description
4pp damaged

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3727,” accessed on 20 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10