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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Leonard Jenyns   15 July [1839]

12 Upper Gower St

July 15th.—

Dear Jenyns.

I have been intending every single evening for the last fortnight to write to you & thank you for your letter, but have put it off till the present hour, when my conscience has grown desperate.— I admire the ingenuity, with which you perceive a fishy smell about my book, my silence, & daresay the very name of me:— Moreover this fishy smell, as far as I remember of it in Henslow’s Museum was not very savoury, so that I fear the very idea of me must disturb your nostrils.— Far from thinking you have done little, I am delighted to hear that the Acant.1 are so nearly ready: with respect to the time could you let me have the fish by the end of November, as the latest, so as to produce a number by the final day of the year, or on the 1st of the ensuing March.—2 I find the money has gone rather quicker than I anticipated so that I do not wish for any superfluity in illustration, but that which you think is really useful, you shall have.— We must have some consultations about the manner of engraving.— Yarrell will be good man to advise—3 there will be some difficulty in regard to the proof plates owing to your not being in London, but we will find some way to remedy this.— Have you any idea of the bulk of your M.S. for the Acant. portion of the Fish?—

You make some allusion to coming up to town: we shall be here I believe till the latter part of August.— I shall have great pleasure in introducing you to my wife, & I hope you will really come up.— Have you any thoughts of Paris? We intend going to the meeting at Bermingham4 & thence to our homes during September, return in October to smoke & work.—5

I am really very sorry that you find my fish such a troublesome job— ill luck to them they have caused me trouble & plague also,—but I trust you will eventually be repaid in their having led you to study some of the groups of foreign fish—& I feel sure, that whatever you do in them, as far as it goes, will be good work, & a step in the good science of Natural History. If I do not see you in town, I hope we shall meet at Birmingham & talk over the arrangemt of plates &c &c.—

It is a good while since we have met— I do not know when we shall find time to pay Cambridge a visit, although Mrs Henslow was kind enough to give my wife a pressing invitation to come there & lionize the place.— Henslow was here the other day & was looking very well & full of schemes to amuse & instruct his Parish.—6

I am hard at work, preparing the first volume of my geology—7 it is very pleasant easy work putting together the frame of a geological theory, but it is just as tough a job collecting & comparing the hard unbending facts— I have been for the last six weeks employed over one map to illustrate my views on coral formations.—

You will be glad to hear that Andrew Smith’s, whose health has been of late so exceedingly precarious, is very much better, & in good spirits & I trust his life is now out of danger.—

Good bye dear Jenyns— Ever your’s most truly | Chas. Darwin


Fish was issued in four separate numbers: No. 1 appeared in January 1840. The Acanthopterygii occupied most of the work (pp. 1–109 of the total of 159 pages). See letter to Leonard Jenyns, 14 October [1839].
William Yarrell had published A history of British fishes in 1836.
The British Association met in Birmingham at the end of August and beginning of September 1839.
That is, the smoke of London.
Hitcham, Suffolk. Henslow gave a regular course of instruction in local botany for his parishioners, arranged natural history exhibitions, and provided annual fireworks displays (see Russell-Gebbett 1977).
Coral reefs.


Fish: Pt IV of The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle. By Leonard Jenyns. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London. 1840–2. [Vols. 2,3,4,9]

Russell-Gebbett, Jean. 1977. Henslow of Hitcham: botanist, educationalist and clergyman. Lavenham, Suffolk: Terence Dalton.


Discusses details of LJ’s part of Zoology [Fish].

CD is working hard on Coral reefs.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Leonard Jenyns/Leonard Blomefield
Sent from
London, Upper Gower St, 12
Source of text
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 527,” accessed on 28 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2