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Darwin Correspondence Project

From H. E. Darwin   21 March [1871]1

Sea Grove | Bournemouth

March 21st

My dear Father

Thank you very much for your letter this morning—2 I am v. glad old Murray got up his courage for the extra 500 so as to put off the evil day of a 2nd. edit— £1470 is a splendid sum & now I hope you will be easy abt Murray’s gains in spite of the 128£—3 I think some of those great novelists only get £3000—I can’t remember who—& to think of that kind of book bringing in nearly as m. as 12 a novel is wonderful.

What you say abt my helping has pleased me v. m— The pleasure of doing it rewards me for any trouble I can take over & over again—but to have a say so much, & to feel that at any rate you think I can help you so really, is very sweet to me— The memorial you propose will be very precious to me.4 I can’t think all of a sudden what I shd. like to have that will be appropriate & lasting— I want it to be something that will seem fitting in the nature of things— & something that I shall like for always— & so deep reflexion is required. It is very good of u to think of it—

Lena insists upon my going to church w her this afternoon—why I don’t kno—praps she knows they are pretty hymns—at any rate I have had no choice given me—5 I shall perhaps be a day or two in London at C Place before Satdy.—when I shall join u at Queen Anne—6 It seems as if I’d been away ages. I think you’ll think me immensely better for my stay here— Edmund is very busy over the Descent & seems to find it very amusing reading—

What a funny Welchman your man must be for if u come from a hairy ape u are likely to be one & tis an argument for you—7 I haven’t seen the 2nd. Spec— I’m rather surprised u’ve had no effect on Wallace.8 It seems to me his mind can’t be so clear as u used to think it for I’m sure u are right. I’ve been rereading the old Physical basis & have at last worked out on paper my dissatisfaction with it.9 If he wasn’t such a busy man & the article hadn’t been worked threadbare & I was likely to see him, I shd. like to see how neatly he wd. smash me into a cocked hat— They asked me what a Mission was. but I haven’t got energy to tell it now & will give a full acct. in London of a Mission & all its manifestations—10

Edmund is still bad— I never saw him so bad at Cannes.11 Alice is pretty nearly all right again— It will be v. nice to see you all again—praps if I thk hard till then I shall kno what I shd. like for my present the v. best of any thing.

Thank you again dear Father— your most affec | HED


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to H. E. Darwin, 20 March 1871 (Correspondence vol. 19).
See Correspondence vol. 19, letter to H. E. Darwin, 20 March 1871.
CD’s publisher John Murray had ordered a second printing of Descent. CD earned £1470 for the book; the cost of corrections was £128 (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter to H. E. Darwin, 20 March 1871 and nn. 1 and 2).
CD had offered Henrietta a gift to thank her for her extensive comments and corrections to Descent (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter to H. E. Darwin, 20 March 1871).
Henrietta was staying with Edmund and Emily Caroline Langton (Lena) in Bournemouth (see Correspondence vol. 19, Appendix VI).
Cumberland Place, Regent’s Park, London was the home of Hensleigh and Frances Emma Elizabeth Wedgwood. CD and Emma stayed at Erasmus Alvey Darwin’s house at 6 Queen Anne Street, London, from 1 to 5 April 1871 (see Correspondence vol. 19, Appendix II)). In 1871, 1 April was a Saturday.
CD had received a letter from Wales, remarking on his resemblance to a ‘fine vererable old Ape’ (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter from D. Thomas, [after 11 March 1871]).
An unsigned review of Descent appeared in the 11 March and 18 March 1871 issues of the Spectator, pp. 288–9, 319–20; Alfred Russel Wallace’s review appeared in the Academy (Wallace 1871). See Correspondence vol. 19, letter to H. E. Darwin, 20 March 1871 and n. 3.
Thomas Henry Huxley’s essay ‘On the physical basis of life’ (T. H. Huxley 1869) discussed the implications of materialism for human freedom and spirit. Henrietta mentioned Huxley in a discussion of faith and free will in her journal entry for 26 March 1871 (see Correspondence vol. 19, Appendix VI).
Henrietta gave a long account of a Lenten mission sponsored by the Anglican church in her journal; it was based on the reports of Emily Caroline Langton and Alice Louisa Langton Massingberd, who had attended the meetings in Bournemouth (see Correspondence vol. 19, Appendix VI).
Henrietta had seen the Langtons when she was in Cannes in 1870 (letter from H. E. Darwin to Emma Darwin, 3 March 1870 (DAR 245: 36)).


Is delighted at the sale of Descent. What CD says about her help pleases her very much and the proposed gift as a memorial will be very precious to her. Is looking forward to seeing the family in London. Comments on a letter comparing CD's appearance to an ape. Is surprised CD has had no effect on Wallace: 'It seems to me his mind can’t be so clear as u used to think it'. Has worked out why she is dissatisfied with T. H. Huxley's essay ‘On the physical basis of life’ (T. H. Huxley 1869).

Letter details

Letter no.
Henrietta Emma Darwin/Henrietta Emma Litchfield
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Cornford Family Papers (DAR 275: 44)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7605F,” accessed on 25 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24 (Supplement)