RECORD: Darwin, L. 1934. Myths about Darwin. The Times (15 August), p. 11.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe. 10.2019. RN1

[page] 11



Sir, — As I grow older my faith in the veracity of mankind gets steadily less and less and now in my eighty-fifth year it is small indeed. Nothing had added more to this decay than the anecdotes which I have heard from time to time about my father, Charles Darwin.

For example, a lady who knew the family well published a statement soon after his death that his little dog Polly had died of grief at that event when as a fact she had been mercifully put out of her bodily pain at my mother's request.

Some years later on, an eminent man of science said to me that he knew my "father well; good fellow; smoked a pipe" — which he never did.

A doctor in good practice abroad told me that he had attended a course of lectures "given by Darwin" at Edinburgh: another pure invention.

And a certain lady sent to the Press a long and purely fictitious account of the scene at his death-bed.

And now in your issue of August 14 Dr. Elizabeth Sloan Chesser adds another to this list when she repeats the fable that Mrs Huxley "found Professor Huxley holding the baby and Darwin pricking it with a pin and recording its reactions to pain on a piece of paper": an anecdote on the inaccuracy of which anyone who knew either of these two men well would willingly stake their all.

Yours faithfully,


Cripps Corner, Forest Row, Sussex, Aug. 14.


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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

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