RECORD: Rodwell, John Medows. nd. [Recollections of Darwin in Cambridge.] CUL-DAR112.B118-B121 (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker 9.2007, checked, corrected and edited by John van Wyhe 11.2007. RN2

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


In one of Professor Henslows Botanizing excursions to Bottisham Fen I well recollect an amusing incident wh befel Darwin. In order to clear the ditches we were provided with several jumping poles with which we had to swing ourselves across. One object of our search was to find the utricularia, a specimen of which caught his keen eye, and in order to secure he attempted to jump the ditch on the opposite side of which it grew. Not however having secured sufficient impetus for the leap, the pole stuck fast in the middle in a vertical fraction, of course with D. at the top. Nothing daunted however he coolly slid down, secured the prize, and brought it, all much besmirched as he was to the amused Professor.


Professor Sedgwick happened one day to mention a spring issuing from one of the chalk hills at Trumpington or Coton which deposited carb. of lime very prettily upon twigs &c. Darwin said to me, "I shall go and test that water for myself", which he did and found the fact to be as Sedgwick had stated it. Not content with this he deposited a large bush in the spring and at a subsequent lecture presented it to Sedgwick who exhibited it as being, what it really was, a very beautiful specimen. Several members of Sedgwick's class followed D's example and adorned their rooms with similar specimens of Increstation.

JM Rodwell [added later]


We once had a very amusing expedition to Gamlingay heath in search of Natter-jacks. Darwin was very succesful in detecting the haunts of these pretty reptiles and catching them. He brought several to Profr Henslow who said laughingly – well Darwin "are you going to make a Natter-jack pie?" It was on this day that he was very succesful in finding plants: particularly the Anemone pulsatillus and the Colchecum antennuatus which had never before been found except on the Gogmagogs and in L'Osbornes park.

JM Rodwell [added later]


My acquaintance with Mr Darwin was made at Professor Henslow's House, at whose soirees and lectures he was always present and was most useful to the professor in arranging specimens and getting the room in order for Lectures. It was obvious that Darwin was Henslow's favourite pupil & that he saw in him of prognostications of future distinction & eminence as a naturalist. One feature of D.s mind I particularly used to notice – viz. his determination to prosecute all his investigations to the very bottom. Professor Henslow used to say "What a fellow that D. is for asking questions!" I happened one day to mention some rather rare plant growing in the neighbourhood of Bury St. Edmunds, which I promised to send him – but forgot to do so - & soon received a very amusing letter to say that if I did not send them he would come for them in propria persona & charge me for the journey!

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

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