RECORD: Balfour, Francis Maitland. [1882.04.25]. Letter to George Darwin. CUL-DAR215.12[.3]. Edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 11.2021. RN1

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

"Balfour, Francis Maitland, 1851-82. Embryologist. Younger brother of Sir Arthur James B. Strong personal friend of CD's sons at Cambridge. 1878 FRS. 1880 Jul. CD lunched with at Cambridge. 1881 Oct. B took tea with CD and ED at Cambridge. "He has a fair fortune of his own. He is very modest, and very pleasant, and often visits here [Down House] and we like him very much". LL3:251. B told George Darwin that he had never seen an experiment carried out except under anaesthesia. LL3:203. 1881 A treatise on comparative embryology, 2 vols. 1882 Prof. Animal Morphology Cambridge. 1882 B was on "Personal Friends invited" list for CD's funeral. Frequent visitor between 1872-81. ED's diary. 1882 Jul. Killed climbing on the Aiguille Blanche, part of the Mont Blanc massif in Switzerland." (Paul van Helvert & John van Wyhe, Darwin: A Companion, 2021)






My dear George

It was most kind of you to write to me – Your letter, which I got this morning brought me the first news of your father's death. It is a terrible blow to you all. The [ref] post wh brought me a letter from you telling me of your return to England, brought me one from Horace giving such a hopeful account of your


father that I had altogether ceased to be anxious. Though it must be almost painful to you to read – what is said in the papers in your present state, yet the universal testimony from every civilised nation of respect and admiration of your father's character as a man; in addition to the appreciation of his scientific discoveries must hereafter when


the first shock is passed be some consolation to you.

Your father was fortunate in that he lived not only to sow the seed but to reap the harvest. While the reputation of other great men has declined with their declining years, that of your

father has gone on increasing with every year of his life. He completed all the great works he planned, & he has left behind him a name which will beloved & honoured by those who like myself have had the privilege of knowing him, were it possible, even


more for its own sake than for the splendid scientific achievements connected with it.

I cannot speak to you of my own grief for I feel how much deeper your must be.

Yours ever

Frank Balfour

P.S. My sister Alice begs me to tell you how much she feels for you all. She thought it better not to write to Mrs Darwin; as she thinks it would probably only trouble her.

This document has been accessed 448 times

Return to homepage

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

File last updated 16 January, 2023