RECORD: Cambridge, Octavius Pickard. 1882.10.02. [Recollection of Darwin in a letter to Francis Darwin]. CUL-DAR198.31a. Edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 4.2021. RN1

NOTE: See record in the Darwin Online manuscript catalogue, enter its Identifier here. Reproduced with permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library.


Bloxworth Rectory


Octr 2. 1882

My dear Sir,

Regret having been so long in sending you the letter of your late Father's about which I wrote on seeing your advertisement.

I beg now to enclose it and also another which I have just come across. The latter is purely personal, but it still very characteristic of your Father's great generosity of mind in attributing to others working in the same field with humility, far more credit than due to them (I speak of course only for myself not for Herr Frits Müller).

You will kindly use both or neither of these letters as you see fit – I do not of course know on what plan your work is intended to proceed; but I think a note might be added to the earlier of these letters stating the principal point on what our correspondence took place, possibly my [letter] to think this of your Father's was an answer is extant among his papers? If not, I have no copy of it but I remember that my point was stated in almost the same words as I had stated it some years before in the course of a correspondence with Mr. H. H. Higgins of the L'pool Museum, & of which I have a copy before me.

I was writing to him about the special characters in the structure of the male species and I now enclose you a copy of the portion alluded to.

This subject has of course a special interest to me, but I venture to think a scientific interest also.

In allusion to this, in a work by myself on "Spiders of Dorset" in 1879, [illeg] p. VI. I have stated that

 "in a correspondence several years ago Mr Darwin did not agree with my views on it"

That was my impression at that time, as the result of our correspondence; but I think now (on a reconsideration of it) that our views are quite irreconcilable, and that your Father did not intend to join any distinct course with me.

The point becomes still farther interesting because more recently there is undoubtedly something in the small organisation, of a special and sexual nature, which of its own vital force develops the remarkable small peculiarities so commonly seen, and of no imaginable use to that sex. In as far as these peculiarities then a great vital power, they point out to us the finest and strongest individuals of the sex, and shew us which of them would approximate to [illeg] the best and greatest number of females and leave behind them the [illeg] , be accounted for by the application of Mr Darwin's theory.

O. P. Cambridge

do not copy


Copy of an extract from a letter to H. H. Higgins of L' pool October 19 1869


This document has been accessed 521 times

Return to homepage

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

File last updated 28 November, 2022