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Darwin Correspondence Project

To C. V. Riley   1 July [1871]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

July 1

My dear Sir

I shall be delighted to see you here, but I am bound to tell you that my health is very precarious & that I cannot possibly talk more with anyone than for 34 or 1 hour.2 Under these circumstances you may not think it worth while to come so far. I truly grieve to appear so inhospitable, but I have no choice, & suffer much afterwards if I excite myself by much conversation. […] I wrote a few weeks ago to you at St. Louis thanking you for your most interesting & valuable Report on Noxious Insects.3

Pray forgive my inhospitality & believe me | My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch Darwin

P.S. If I do not hear, I shall expect you on Thursday

Some people will have to see my family on Tuesday & Wednesday, which made me fix Thursday4


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to C. V. Riley, 1 June [1871].
Riley’s letter to CD has not been found. On Riley’s 1871 visit to England and France, see Sorensen et al. 2008, pp. 138–9. Riley had been born in London and was brought up by his mother’s family; the ANB describes him as a ‘devoted family man with strong ties to his immediate family and relatives in England’.
See letter to C. V. Riley, 1 June [1871] and n. 2; CD refers to the third report in Riley 1869–77.
Notes in Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) read ‘Mr Litch’ (crossed through) on Tuesday 4 July 1871, and ‘Mr Litch’ on Wednesday 5 July: these are probably references to Richard Buckley Litchfield, Henrietta Emma Darwin’s fiancé. Riley visited Down with John Jenner Weir; he recalled that his Report on noxious insects (see n. 3, above) was in CD’s study, with many pages turned down (Riley 1882, pp. 77–9).


ANB: American national biography. Edited by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes. 24 vols. and supplement. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1999–2002.

Riley, Charles Valentine. 1869–77. Annual reports on the noxious, beneficial, and other, insects of the State of Missouri. Jefferson City, Mo.: Regan & Edwards, public printer [and others].

Riley, Charles Valentine. 1882. Darwin’s work in entomology. [Read 12 May 1882.] Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 1 (1880–2): 70–80.


Would be delighted to see CVR at Down, but is in precarious health and cannot talk to anyone for more than an hour.

Wrote to CVR a few weeks ago to thank him for his book [see 7794].

Will expect CVR on Thursday unless he hears otherwise.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Valentine Riley
Sent from
Source of text
Profiles in History (Fall 1996 catalogue)
Physical description
** 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7846F,” accessed on 24 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19