RECORD: Tegetmeier, William Bernhard. [1855]. [Recollections of Darwin]. In Richardson, E. W. 1916. A veteran naturalist, being the life and work of W.B. Tegetmeier. London: Witherby, pp. 101-2, 111-12.

REVISION HISTORY: Text prepared by Kees Rookmaaker and John van Wyhe 11.2010-3.2011. RN1

NOTE: Part of this recollection is reprinted in Thomas Glick, What about Darwin? Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press 2010.

[page 100]

My friendship with Yarrell ended only with his life, and to him I owe my personal introduction to Darwin. [...]

[page] 101

At one of these exhibitions [of the Philoperisteron Society which held its annual meetings in the great hall of the Freemason's Tavern] I heard a voice which said, "Oh, here's Tegetmeier; he will tell you all about these birds better than I can." I turned round, and saw Yarrell with a stranger, whom he introduced as Mr. Darwin. I had not before known him personally, although he had done me the honour of quoting in his Origin of Species some of my observations on the formation of the cells made by the honey-bee, a distinction of which I am indeed proud.1

1 Note that Tegetmeier's memory failed him here, he first met Darwin before the Origin was published, in 1855. See Freeman 2007, p. 272.

[page] 102

[...] Darwin was at that time accumulating evidence for his large work on the Variation of Animals. [...] How eagerly he embraced the opportunity of adding to his materials may be inferred from the fact that the next morning brought him to my little country cottage at Wood Green. When he went away he took with him a box of skulls and other specimens, many of which have been engraved in his well-known volumes on variation, and this led to a friendship which lasted until his death.

[page] 111

He was fond of telling the story of how he made Darwin involuntarily perpetuate "the only pun which, I believe, he was ever guilty." Tegetmeier had a copy of Tennyson's "In Memoriam" which he used as a sort of autograph-book for collecting the signatures of his friends. He would choose as appropriate a

[page] 112

passage as possible, and he asked Darwin to write his name after the following lines : — "

So careful of the type ? But no.
From scarped cliff and quarried stone
She cries, 'A thousand types are gone:
I care for nothing — all shall go.'"

He signed, "C. Darwin." It is doubtful if he ever saw — or seeing, appreciated — the joke of the pun implied in his initial — see Darwin!

William Bernhardt Tegetmeier (1816-1912), English naturalist and pigeon breeder.

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

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