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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. T. Austen   3 June 1863


June 3—1863

My dear Sir,

I am sorry to tr〈oub〉le you with so much correspondence; the accompanying postscript I wrote with my last letter,1 but by accident omitted putting it into the 〈en〉velope; it was only this morning that I became aware of the mistake— I have not heard a second time from Mr Dennen—2 like yourself I feel very much perplexed, but a〈m〉 much obliged to you for havi〈ng〉 written to me 〈on〉 the subject3 〈I〉 shall return home next we〈ek〉 and will take an early 〈oppor〉tunity of seeing Mr De〈v〉as 〈and〉 mentioning this bu〈si〉ness to hi〈m.〉4 I quite agree with 〈yo〉u th〈at〉 we must not conceal this Transaction from our fellow Trustees.5 Deva〈s is〉 a man of business, and 〈I th〉ink the best person to speak to on the subject— I shall not speak to any of the Managers6   it is the business of the Trustees rather than theirs—   〈do〉 not trouble yourself to 〈wr〉ite to me again; I leave this 〈h〉ouse the day after tomorrow 〈an〉d am not certain of my 〈mo〉vements for the next 10 days   〈As so〉on as I have seen Devas I 〈will c〉all on you; I should 〈no〉t be surprized if he 〈adv〉ises some official communication being made to the Trustees. I observed to you in my last letter that Dennen had wr〈it〉ten very stupidly. I really do not th〈ink〉 that he has been acting in any way dishonestly but I certainly do not at present see any satisfactory explanation of the Transaction. I expected he would have told me the whole story, but he has made a mystery of it— his account represents himself as concerned in the business, because his offer to be security to Percival7 for the repayment of the loan is, as a matter of business 〈adm〉itting 〈that〉 he has a beneficial interest 〈in〉 borrowing the money— what 〈worries〉 me is that he brings forward 〈this〉 offer of his as proof & eviden〈ce of〉 his own honesty, of his having 〈acted〉 bonâ fide; in doing this he is either uncommonly silly or very artful; uncommonly silly 1st in proposing to give the 〈secu〉rity, 2ndly in thinking that by doing so he credits the transaction and makes it appear a disinterested one on his part— if he be an interested party himself, of course he is 〈v〉ery artful in representing it as he has done. 〈Th〉e worst of it is that if he be 〈on〉ly silly, the Trustees may 〈be〉 of opinion that it is reason 〈for〉 them not to have confidence 〈in〉 him.

I remain— | Yrs very sincerely | John Thos. Austen.

PS.8 I should add that I have now written very plainly to Dennen. I have told him that people do not borrow money at 10 per cent unless there is great risk to the lender, and that any security offered under such circumstances is naturally supposed to be fictitious—that this business coming formally before the Trustees, he would be looked upon as engaged to persuade Percival to accept the security of two men of straw—that such a transaction made public would discredit the Trustees and the Savings Bank altogether.

June 3rd— 1863

PS. | I speaking of D〈en〉nen calling on you—I merely meant that he would do so if you wished it9   I hope to be able to call on you DV10 on Monday week, but fear it will not be sooner. I shall not I believe be at home before Friday the 12th.—


See letter from J. T. Austen, 30 May 1863, and the first postscript to this letter. George Dennen was organising secretary of the Bromley Savings Bank (Horsburgh 1980, p. 303, and Post Office directory of the six home counties 1862); Austen and CD were trustees of the bank.
The letter to Austen has not been found.
Charles Frederick Devas was a prominent Bromley resident and magistrate (Horsburgh 1980).
The remaining trustees of the Bromley Savings Bank have not been identified. The bank was under the control of a president, vice-president, and up to twenty trustees, together with a managing committee (Horsburgh 1980, p. 303).
The managers of the Bromley Savings Bank have not been identified.
This individual has not been identified, but see the letter from J. T. Austen, 30 May 1863.
This postscript was originally written to be sent with the letter from J. T. Austen, 30 May 1863.
D.V.: ‘Deo volente’ – ‘God willing’.


Horsburgh, E. L. S. 1980. Bromley, Kent: from the earliest times to the present century, compiled from materials collected from original sources by various hands. Reprint edition. Chislehurst, Kent: Lodgemark Press.

Post Office directory of the six home counties: Post Office directory of the six home counties, viz., Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex. London: W. Kelly & Co. 1845–78.


Does not think Dennen’s transaction was dishonest, but can see no satisfactory explanation for it; feels they must inform their fellow trustees.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Thomas Austen
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 159: 131, 151
Physical description
4pp encl 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4201,” accessed on 23 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11