RECORD: Wright, Chauncey. [1872]. [Recollection of Darwin]. In Thayer, James Bradley. 1878. Letters of Chauncey Wright, with some account of his life. Cambridge [Mass.]: Press of John Wilson & Son, pp. 246-9.

REVISION HISTORY: Text prepared by John van Wyhe 11.2010. RN1


[page] 246

On August 31, Mr. Darwin writes his thanks for this "long and interesting letter," and adds: " I write now to say how very glad I shall be to see you here. ... I trust that you will come and dine and sleep here. We shall thus see each other much more pleasantly than by a mere call, as you propose."

To Miss Sara Sedgwick, at Cambridge.

London, Sept. 5, 1872.

I am not unmindful, as you will see, of my promise, —made a long time ago, as it now seems, and in the expectation of a very long letter in return, —to write you after seeing Mr. Darwin. [...]

[page] 247

[...] it was only yesterday that I made the little visit to the Darwins, from which I have just returned. A resolution to go to Paris near the end of this week, made with the help of Mr. Rowse, who went last Sunday, prevented my putting off the visit a little longer, so as to meet Mr. George Darwin, who is gone this week on a journey; and who was also absent in travels on the continent when I called at his rooms in London about a month ago. But the pleasure of meeting him again, though it would have added much to the satisfaction of my visit, seems little compared to the all but perfect good time I have had in the last few hours.

[page] 248

If you can imagine me enthusiastic,—absolutely and unqualifiedly so, without a but or criticism, — then think of my last evening's and this morning's talks with Mr. Darwin as realizing that beatific condition. Mr. Horace Darwin (whom I like very much, and mean to visit at his college in Cambridge before I sail for home) was at home; and I had several hours of pleasant discussion on various subjects with him, while his father was taking the rests he always needs after talking awhile. Who would not need rest after exercising such powers of wise, suggestive, and apt observation and criticism, with judgments so painstaking and conscientiously accurate, —unless, indeed, he should be sustained by an Olympian diet? I was never so waked up in my life, and did not sleep many hours under the hospitable roof. This morning, as the day was very bright, I walked through charming fields and groves to the railway station, most of the way with my younger host.

It would be quite impossible to give by way of report any idea of these talks before and at and after dinner, at breakfast, and at leave-taking; and yet I dislike the egotism of "testifying," like other religious enthusiasts, without any verification, or hint of similar experience; though what I have said must be to you a confirmation of what you already know. One point I may mention, however, of our final talk. I am some time to write an essay on matters covering the ground of certain common interests and studies, and in review of his "Descent of Man," and other related books, for which the learned title is adopted of Psychozoölogy, —as a substitute for "Animal Psychology," "Instinct," and the like titles,—in order to give the requisite subordination (from our point of view) of consciousness in men and animals, to their development and general relations to nature. So, if you ever see that learned word in print, you will know better than other readers when and where it was born! But you will not, I

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imagine, care so much about the matter of the conversation, which might be repeated, as about its incommunicable manner and spirit, which you will readily supply from your own imagination. I also found Mrs. Darwin and her daughter very agreeable; and I repent now, as I have regretted all along, that indolence has kept me so many weeks from making acquaintance with so charming a household. ...

Chauncey Wright (1830-1875) American Computor in National Almanac Office, Cambridge, Mass.


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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)

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