RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1885. [Letter to Balfour, 1881]. In M. Foster and A. Sedgwick eds., The works of Francis Maitland Balfour. London: Macmillan, vol. 1, p. 23.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed and edited by John van Wyhe 5.2022. RN1

NOTE: See Correspondence vol. 29.

[page] 23

The record of some of his thoughts and work, all that he had given to the world will be found in the following pages. But who can tell the ideas which had passed into his quick brain, but which as yet were known only to himself, of which he had given no sign up to that sad day on which he made the fatal climb? And who can say whither he might not have reached had he lived, and his bright young life ripened as years went on? This is not the place to attempt any judgment of his work: that may be left to other times, and to other hands; but it may be fitting to place here on record a letter which shews how much the greatest naturalist of this age appreciated his younger brother. Among Balfour's papers was found a letter from Charles Darwin, acknowledging the receipt of Vol. II. of the Comparative Embryology in the following words:

"July 6, 1881.



I thank you heartily for the present of your grand book, and I congratulate you on its completion. Although I read almost all of Vol. I. I do not feel that I am worthy of your present, unless indeed the fullest conviction that it is a memorable work makes me worthy to receive it.

Once again accept my thanks, for I am proud to receive a book from you, who, I know, will some day be the chief of the English Biologists.

Believe me,

Yours sincerely,


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

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