RECORD: Heaviside, James William Lucas. 1882.09.15. [Recollections of Darwin at Cambridge.] CUL-DAR112.A56-A57 Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker 8.2008, corrections by John van Wyhe 6.2010. RN2

NOTE: Editorial symbols used in the transcription:
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Reproduced with the permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library.


Close Norwich
Sep.15, 1882

My dear Sir
You had not written to me previously to Sep. 12, but if you had, apology was unnecessary. Though for a short time, just previously to his B.A. [at Cambirdge] degree I was intimiate with your father, the really great Charles Darwin, yet any notice of his ways & habits in those days will be very uneventful as far as my report of these can go. As is so common with university friendships, when your father took his degree we separated & except on one or two occasions soon after I never had the good fortune to meet with him again. I remember him at Cambridge a young man, rather thick set in physical frame & of the most placid, unpretending, & amiable nature. I was a little senior to your father when I just knew him, & indeed had taken my degree, my College was Sidney & I held a Tutorial office, your father was much at Sidney & I think his principal inducement in coming [into our set,] was that he was rather fascinated by a man there, named

[56 verso]

Matthew, & a man of considerable ability & fair scholar & tolerably read in general literature & with manners that attracted towards him besides yr. father. Matthew unfortunately was a very intemperate man, & I think your father took great pains to try to break him of his ill-habits but not then with much success. It was strange that Makepeace Thackeray was equally attracted by Matthew & was equally concerned to put him straight. I forget whether Thackeray & yr. father were contemporary acquaintances [of ours], my idea is that Thackeray (who called himself a pupil of mine but had no taste for mathematics & merely came to me to be coached) was senior to yr father & left the Uni without degree before I knew yr father.
About the time of our intimacy Geology was coming to the front as a science & your father certainly at that time ardently took up the subject.


I am afraid I have sent you but a meagre acct. & nothing worth recording, at all events of course you will understand the name of Matthew will not be mentioned. As I have said so much, I may add that he (Matthew) was altogether weaned from his intemperate habits, married a person of good character but much beneath him in social life, obtained a small living & died abt 20 years ago after being paralyzed for some years before his death. This however is not giving you any account of yr father.
I shall be glad to make your acquaintance & if you come this way shall be very glad to see & welcome you.

My dear Sir, Yrs Very sincerely
J.W. Heaviside

Francis Darwin Esq.

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