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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. H. Darwin   15 November [1873]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. [2 Bryanston Street, London.]

Nov. 15

My dear George

Will you thank Mr Balfour for his letter which I was extremely glad to receive, as I had heard nothing of Dohrn’s affairs.2 I have had a long interview with Huxley, and he thinks that nothing can be done without first communicating with D.,—More especially as he might object that a subscription might shake the credit of the concern   As Huxley has already discussed the subject with D. he will write again, and communicate the result to us. I am strongly of opinion that a letter from me expressing a high opinion of the value of the Z. Station would be a very insufficient means for obtaining subscriptions, and might appear highly presumptious on my part.3 Therefore I think that it would be almost necessary to get the signatures of a few well-known good men, whether or not they would subscribe.— Accordingly I have drawn up a rough draft of a circular, not binding those who sign it to subscribe. Huxley approves of this, and says he would sign it; and this I think is a great gain. He has taken a copy and will forward it to Dohrn for his approval.4 There is another advantage in the plan of a circular, namely that the insufferable disagreeableness of begging for subscriptions will be avoided; though of course a personal application with the circular would always give it much greater weight.

It could be sent to persons, and they could be asked for their names, if they did not wish to subscribe. My rough draft will no doubt require much modification. From ill health and overwork I cannot offer to do more than to suggest some names, if the plan of the circular is carried out. You will think that the sum that I am willing to subscribe, viz £50, is very small, but after reflecting what I have had to subscribe this year, I do not think that I ought to give more. As you are not a naturalist your subscription strikes me as very liberal. The list of members of the Royal, Linnean, and Ray Socss.5 would be useful for suggesting names. Would it be worth while to send a circular, if this plan adopted, to the Duke of Devonshire and the Marquis Salisbury.6 But I will hereafter think of some names.

Yours affectionately | Ch. Darwin

PS. | Please to shew this letter to Mr Balfour and Forster7 and any one else


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from F. M. Balfour, 11 November 1873.
See letter from F. M. Balfour, 11 November 1873. CD refers to Francis Maitland Balfour and Anton Dohrn.
CD refers to Thomas Henry Huxley and the Zoological Station at Naples.
See letter from T. H. Huxley to Anton Dohrn, 15 November 1873. CD’s original draft of the circular is in DAR 96: 163.
CD refers to the Royal Society of London, the Linnean Society, and the Ray Society.
William Cavendish was the seventh duke of Devonshire, and Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil was the third marquess of Salisbury.
Michael Foster.


CD writes about organising a subscription for Dohrn’s Zoological Station at Naples. Has drawn up a draft circular for naturalists to sign to show their support for the Station.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Howard Darwin
Sent from
London, Bryanston St, 2 Down letterhead
Source of text
National Records of Scotland (GD433/2/103A/1/1–2)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9142,” accessed on 16 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21