RECORD: Abbot F. E. to William Erasmus Darwin, 19 Jan. 1876, regarding Darwin's support for the Index. CUL-DAR210.12 Transcribed by Christine Chua, edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed from the Darwin Online images by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe. 10.2019. RN1.

NOTE: Reproduced with the permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin.

Introduction by John van Wyhe:

Francis E. Abbot (1836-1903) was an American Unitarian minister, liberal religious philosopher, co-founder of the Free Religious Association and editor (1870-80) of The Index. The Index was an American periodical that was associated with the Free Religious Association and was critical of traditional Christianity (Ahlstrom and Mullin 1987, p. 60). There is no record in Darwin's account books of any sum being paid to either William or Abbot around this time, but Darwin evidently agreed to make a donation. CCD23. Here is a letter of Abbot thanking the Darwins for the donation. This letter is transcribed in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1876, vol. 24, p. 24-5.

[1 recto]


Lists of MSS of Bank in box



[2 recto]

MSS in box at [Basset]

Marked MSS

Scraps used in 2d edition of origin (must be opened & [illeg])


Original M.S.S autograph

Cross & Self fertil. plants


Do not autograph

action of carbonate of lime in roots of plants


First sketch of origin with Basset


all MSS & tables about Common & [large] genera presenting most varieties


Notes about children - at Basset


Different forms of flowers on the same plants. Used scraps & original notes

5 rough white portfoilios



Letters from Abbot of the "Index"

[ ] to [ ] [ ] £20 from Fathers & me.

[4 recto]

[On 'The Index Association' letterhead]

Jan. 19, 1876.

Mr. W.E. Darwin, Basset, Southampton, England

My dear Sir,

I was greatly surprised and delighted by the evidence of such sympathy and goodwill on the part of yourself and your world famous father, as was furnished by your letter of Dec. 20.

How can I thank you warmly enough for such spontaneous generosity, transmitted in terms which went straight to my heart? That a gentleman whom I so reverence and love as your father should desire in this way to unite with his son in sending cheer and courage to me who has so many discouragements and difficulties to battle with, commands a gratitude I really know not how to express without seeming perhaps too demonstrative for our modern nil admirari manness; but I cannot disguise the exultation and pleasure I feel in the thought that Charles Darwin and his son should be moved of their own accord to do so kind a thing to my struggling little Index. Nobody will ever know

[letter of Dec. 20 can be found in CCD23:493]

[5 verso]

what it has cost me, or how near to my heart lay the plans I had to sacrifice in order to establish it; but also, nobody will ever know what heart-felt happiness has come to me from from such sympathy in my work as you now show. Take my poor words, and guess the rest.

The cheque for £20. realized $109.20 receipt of which I hereby acknowledge. As you and your father are so kind as to ask me to use this money in any way I think best for the Index, I will devote it to the "Paid contributors' Fund," for which I have been obliged to ask no appropriations for a long time with recent exception. This money, therefore, will not be turned into the general treasury, or acknowledged in our weekly "Cash Receipts," but deposited in this fund, for the use of which I render a special report to the directors once a year. If I made it pay for the share of stock, it would go to the Treasurer at once, and be beyond my control; whereas now I can use it for literary purposes without asking an appropriation. All I have had for these purposes has for two or three years come in a similar way – not much, at that. But this is most opportune, I do assure you, and will greatly aid me. The stock alas, would do you no good, it is not even "fancy" stock! Please give to Mr. Darwin my most grateful thanks, and believe me, yours with a full heart,

Francis E. Abbot.


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

File last updated 16 November, 2019