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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Adam Sedgwick   30 May 1870


May 30 1870

My dear Darwin

Your very kind letter surprised me— Not that I was surprised at the pleasant & very welcome feeling with which it was written.1 But I could not make out what I had done to deserve the praise of “extraordinary kindness of yourself & family”. I would most willingly have done my best to promote the objects of your visit but you gave me no opportunity of doing so. I was truly grieved to find that my joy at seeing you again was almost too robust for your state of nerves, & that my society, after a little while, became oppressive to you. But I do trust that your Cambridge visit has done you no constitutional harm—nay rather that it has done you some good— I only speak honest truth when I say that I was overflowing with joy when I saw you; & saw you in the midst of a dear family party & solaced at every turn by the loving care of a dear Wife & Daughters.2 How different from my position—that of a very old man, living in cheerless solitude!

May God bless & cheer you all with the comfort of hopeful hearts!—you & your Wife, & your Sons & Daughters!—

You were talking about my style of writing— I send you my last specimen; & it will probably continue to be my last— It is the continuation of a former Pamphlet of which I have not one spare copy— I do not ask you to read it.3 It is addressed to the old people in my native Dale of Dent, on the outskirts of Westmorland—while standing at the door of the old vicarage I can see down the valley the Lake mountains—Hill Bell at the head of Windermere about 20 miles off—4 On Thursday next D.V.5 I am to start for Dent which I have not visited for full two years.— Two years ago I could walk three or four miles with comfort— Now, alas!, I can only hobble about on my stick

I remain your true hearted old friend | A Sedgwick


CD’s letter has not been found. CD had visited Cambridge earlier in May and had met with Sedgwick on 23 May 1870 (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 May [1870] and n. 6).
Sedgwick refers to Emma Darwin, Henrietta Emma Darwin, and Elizabeth Darwin.
Sedgwick refers to his Supplement to the memorial of the trustees of Cowgill Chapel (Sedgwick 1870). CD’s copy is in the Darwin Library–Down.
The Yorkshire dale of Dent (now Dentdale) is south-east of the county of Westmorland (both regions are now part of Cumbria).
D.V.: Deo volente (God willing; Latin).


Writes of CD’s recent visit to Cambridge and the joy it gave him.

Letter details

Letter no.
Adam Sedgwick
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 177: 128
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7209,” accessed on 25 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18