skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Edward Sabine   5 November [1864]1

Down Bromley Kent

Nov. 5th

My dear Sir

It was with astonishment that I read the very gratifying contents of your letter.2 It has, indeed, been a most complete surprise to me. I had not even heard of the change in the gift of the Medals.3 Under every point of view it is a wonderful honour for me; very much more than I deserve. Allow me, also, to thank you most truly & cordially for the very kind expressions in your note.

Ought I to acknowledge the honour in a letter to the Council?4 Or shall I receive further notice? If I do not hear from you (for if I ought to write, I will trust to your kindness to inform me) I shall understand that I need not write

Pray believe me | Dear Colonel Sabine | Yours truly & gratefully | Charles Darwin

Colonel Sabine | F.R.S. | &c &c


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Edward Sabine, 3 November 1864.
CD may refer to an informal policy of the Royal Society of London to award the Copley Medal to practitioners of the natural and physical sciences in alternate years. The policy seems to have been followed with few exceptions after a controversy over the distribution of the Royal Medals in 1849 and 1850. In 1850, the Council of the Royal Society resolved that the Royal Medals should be awarded annually to practitioners in each of ‘the two great divisions of Natural Knowledge’ (see Record of the Royal Society of London, Appendix IV, and Royal Society, Council minutes, 1849–50). In 1863, the Copley Medal had been awarded to Adam Sedgwick for his researches in geology (see Royal Society, Council minutes, 5 November 1863, and Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 13 (1864): 31–5).
No letter of acknowledgement to the Council of the Royal Society has been found.


Record of the Royal Society of London: The record of the Royal Society of London for the promotion of natural knowledge. 4th edition. London: Royal Society. 1940.


Thanks ES in connection with award [of Copley Medal].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Edward Sabine
Sent from
Source of text
Glenbow Archives, Calgary (M 4843, file 17)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4660,” accessed on 27 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12