RECORD: Ainsworth, William F. 1882. [Recollection] Mr. Darwin. Athenaeum (13 May): 604.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 6.2021. RN2

NOTE: See the record for this item in the Freeman Bibliographical Database by entering its Identifier here. William Francis Ainsworth (1807-1896). Physician, Wernerian geologist and traveller. Medical student at Edinburgh with Darwin and collected with him including at the Isle of May and Inchkeith.

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MR W. F. AINSWORTH writes, regarding the papers read by Mr. Darwin before the Plinian Society, which we assigned to the author's sixteenth year:

"I have the printed Transactions of the Plinian Society before me for 1826 and 1827, and I find that on the 27th of March, 1827, Mr. Darwin made a communication on the ova of the Flustra, in which he announced that he had discovered organs of motion; and secondly, that the small black body hitherto mistaken for the young Fucus lorcus is in reality the ovum of Pontodella muricata. On the 3rd of April following Mr. Darwin exhibited specimens of the Pontodella muricata with ova and young. Thus, in his first contribution to natural history, Mr. Darwin foreshadowed the eminence of his future career, but as he was born on February 12th, 1809, he was in his eighteenth year

"As a member of the Plinian Society at the same period, Mr. Darwin and myself made  frequent excursions on the shores of the Firth of Forth in pursuit of objects of natural history, sometimes to the coast of Fifeshire, and some times to the islands. On one occasion we went, accompanied by Dr. Greville, the botanist, to the Isle of May, and we were both exceedingly amused at the effect produced upon the eminent cryptogamist by the screeching of the kittiwakes and other waterfowl. He had actually to lie down on the greensward to enjoy his prolonged cachinnation. Another time we were benighted on Inch Keith, but found refuge in the light house.

"Mr. Darwin also carried on his researches with Dr., afterwards Prof., Grant, and it was the same year (1827), I believe, the doctor first found silica in sponges, and now we have lived to see the Regadera of the Philippines –one exquisitely beautiful structure of silica."

 Dr. W. B. Carpenter writes:

"Permit me to correct a mistake made by the writer of your otherwise excellent biographical notice of Darwin, as to the date of the first

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publication of his 'Journal of Researches ; in the Beagle; this having been 1839, not 1845 (as therein stated). A copy of the original edition bearing that date now lies before me; and I have also in my possession a set of extracts copied from it by my father, who was lost at sea on the 1st of May, 1840. The following list of articles published in the periodicals of Enlgand and America by, or relating to, Mr. Darwin is extracted from the new edition now preparing of Mr. Poole's 'Index to Periodical Literature.'

We have to thank Mr. Poole for his courtesy in allowing us to print it.

[List not transcribed.]

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

File last updated 25 September, 2022