skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To B. J. Sulivan   30 June [1870]1

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E. [6 Queen Anne Street, London]

June 30th

My dear Sulivan

It was very good of you to write to me so long a letter, telling me much about yourself & your children which I was extremely glad to hear.—2 Think what a benighted wretch I am, seeing no one & reading but little in the newspapers, for I did not know (untill seeing the paper of the your Nat. Hist. Socy.) that you were a K.C.B.3 Most heartily glad I am, that the Government has at last appreciated your most just claim for this high distinction.— On the other hand I am sorry to hear so poor an account of your health; but you were surely very rash to do all that you did & then pass through so exciting a scene, as a ball at the Palace.4 It was enough to have tired a man in robust health.— Complete rest, will, however, I hope, quite set you up again. As for myself I have been rather better of late, & if nothing disturbs me I can do some hours work every day. I shall this autumn publish another book partly on Man, which I daresay many will decry as very wicked.—5 I could have travelled to Oxford, but could no more have withstood the excitement of a commemoration than I could a ball at Buckingham Palace.—6 Many thanks for your kind remarks about my boys. Thank God all give me complete satisfaction: my third stands second at Woolwich & will be an Engineer officer at Christmas.7 My wife desires to be very kindly remembered to Lady Sulivan, in which I very sincerely join, & in congratulations about your daughter’s marriage.8 We are at present solitary, for all our younger children are gone on tour in Switzerland.9 I had never heard a word about the success of the T. del Fuego mission.—10 It is most wonderful, & shames me, as I always prophecied utter failure. It is a grand success.— I shall feel proud if your Committee think fit to elect me an Honorary member of your Socy.—11

With all good wishes & affectionate remembrances of ancient days. Believe me, my dear Sulivan | your sincere friend | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from B. J. Sulivan, 27 June 1870.
See letter from B. J. Sulivan, 27 June 1870.
Sulivan was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 2 June 1870 (ODNB).
See letter from B. J. Sulivan, 27 June 1870 and n. 3.
CD refers to Descent.
CD had been offered an honorary degree by Oxford University; see letter from B. J. Sulivan, 27 June 1870 and n. 1.
CD refers to Leonard Darwin.
CD refers to Emma Darwin, Sophia Sulivan, and Catherine Sabine Sulivan, who had married William Wallace Trench.
A note in Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) for 21 June 1870 reads, ‘They went to Swiss—’; another note on 28 July reads, ‘Party from Swiss.’ It is not known exactly which children went.
See letter from B. J. Sulivan, 27 June 1870 and n. 13.
See letter from B. J. Sulivan, 27 June 1870. CD refers to the Bournemouth Natural History Society.


ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Congratulates BJS on his K.C.B.

In autumn he will publish a book partly on man [Descent], which he expects "many will decry as very wicked".

Thinks the success of the Tierra del Fuego mission is wonderful.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Bartholomew James Sulivan
Sent from
Source of text
Sulivan family (private collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7256,” accessed on 18 September 2021,

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