RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1901. [Letters to James Paget, 1873-80]. In Stephen Paget ed., Memoirs and letters of Sir James Paget. London, New York, and Bombay.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 4.2022. RN2

NOTE: See record in the Freeman Bibliographical Database, enter its Identifier here. See the annotated letters in Correspondence vol. 21, p. 49 and vol. 28.

"Paget, Sir James, Bart, 1814-99. Surgeon and pathologist. St. Bartholomew's Hospital. 1851 FRS. 1857 Feb. 13, CD accompanied ED to see P for a busted lip. 1869 Apr. 21, P came to see CD after CD's fall from Tommy. 1871 CD to W. Turner, "he is so charming a man", and notes that he had been seriously ill of a postmortem infection. 1871 1st Bart. 1872 P gave CD information for Expression. 1875 CD to Hooker; P probably agreed to Litchfield's draft sketch for a vivisection bill. 1875 CD thanked P for sending his Clinical lectures and essays. CCD23. 1880 CD to Hooker, on P's work on growth in plants and on galls. ML 2: 425. 1881 CD met P at breakfast party for International Medical Congress in London. 1882 P was on "Personal Friends invited" list for CD's funeral. 1882 Nov. 29, ED saw P again. 1883-95 Vice-Chancellor University of London. 1882 recollections of CD in DAR112.A86-A93, transcribed in Darwin Online.
Paget, Stephen, 1855-1926. Surgeon and author. 4th son of Sir James P. Surgeon Middlesex Hospital. 1882 P was on "Personal Friends invited" list for CD's funeral.
Paget was the President of the International Medical Congress and he delivered the opening address on 3 August 1881. (Boston Medical and Surgical Journal 155, no. 7: 145)
Pasteur, Louis, 1822-95. French chemist and bacteriologist. 1863 May 23 CD to Bentham, "I was struck with infinite admiration at his work". CCD11:433. 1869 Foreign Member Royal Society."
Darwin's itinerary shows that he was staying with his brother Erasmus at Queen Anne Street, from 3-5 August 1881.
(Paul van Helvert & John van Wyhe, Darwin: A Companion, 2021)

[page] 287

My dear Paget – Very many thanks for your note. One is led at once to suspect reversion, though that is an easy & tempting to trap to fall into. Your sketch has called up a fairly vivid recollection in my mind of a gentleman with whom I used as a boy often to shoot, & who had ears such as you describe. I must look to the ears of our brethren in the Zool. Gardens.

Yours very sincerely, CH. DARWIN

[page] 407

Among men of science, my father's friendships are past counting. Of those whom he outlived, it must suffice to name here Mr. Darwin and M. Pasteur. The one time that Mr. Darwin and M. Pasteur met, was at Harewood Place, on the opening day of the International Medical Congress: but, by the mischance of Mr. Darwin leaving early, they had no talk together.

The letters to Mr. Darwin are those of a disciple to his master: the one desire is to collect facts and make observations for him. 'I am greedy for facts,' writes Mr. Darwin; and my father writes, in 1867, 'Pray tell me whether it will be useful for your purpose to examine the condition of the platysma during screaming in the

[The editors of Darwin's correspondence noted: "This sentence is quoted in Paget's Memoirs and letters, p. 407 (S. Paget ed. 1901). Preceding it an undated fragment from a letter to Paget from CD is quoted: 'I am greedy for facts'. A fragment carrying the same wording, in CD's hand, is held at the American Philosophical Society (626): on the verso are the words, 'I will ask'."

[page] 408

partial or complete insensibility produced by chloroform.' In 1869, 'I enclose a note from Lord Fitzwilliam about his horse with zebra-marks. The cases seems as striking as I believed.' In 1872, 'I am at work on the nervous mimicry of organic disease: I have some hope that, during my work, I may fall on some facts which may be of interest to you, and you may be sure that I shall send them to you.' And in 1873, 'Sir William Gull has just brought me the enclosed quotations from Chaucer, as illustrations of the closure of the eyes in effort. He begs me to send them to you. I have lately seen a terrier who very distinctly frowns during mental excitement—not always with anger, but often, I think, with anxiety, as in expecting food.' Three letters (May 6th-December 3rd 1869) are concerned with curious facts in regard to blushing. And there are eight letters (July 7th-August 17th, 1875) on the alleged re-growth of limbs or of digits after amputation; one of them is seven pages long, another eleven. The first of them, by the width of its outlook, recalls Hunter's letters to Jenner:— July 7th, 1875. — Mr dear Darwin —Pardon my writing on a railway and let me thank you for your book on Insectivorous Plants: the more at this time because, while reading it, I have been thoroughly enjoying myself on what might have been a very dull long journey. But neither my reading nor my thanks are yet ended. I am charmed with your suggestion that fairy-rings illustrate the insusceptibility of soils—whether bloods, tissues, or earths—that have been once infected. I have sometimes vaguely thought so, but you make me nearly sure. I have been told that fairy-rings sometimes appear very quickly—large and complete rings appearing where no small ones were before. I do not know if this ever happens, and I must admit that my informant ascribed the occurrence to electricity; but he said he had observed it on his own lawn. If such rings are ever complete from the first, I have thought there might be mutual illustration between them and some annular diseases which one sees in the skin. Some forms of Herpes are from the first annular: still more often some forms of Psoriasis and of syphilitic ulcers; and when these begin in rings or parts of rings, they usually extend only outwards, and if they meet they coalesce but do not cross. I will try to set some one to work this out. And, I will not forget your wish for cases of re-growth of amputated members.

Always sincerely yours, JAMES PAGET.

[page] 409

Another letter of the same year (May 12th, 1875) reads strangely now: — 'I beg you to let me thus introduce to you Mr. Burgers, the President of the Trans-Vaal Republic. He is devoted to Natural Science, anxious to know you, and ready to assist you in any investigations that you may wish to be made in his country.' Other letters are to thank Mr. Darwin for the gift of his books:—

Jan. 29th, 1868. — I thank you, with all my heart, for sending me your book.1 I shall refresh and teach myself with it whenever I can get a bit of time clear from the day's work. I expect to be made even more than I am now ashamed of my ignorance, (and I fear I may add that of my profession too) on the influence of inheritance on the variations and mixtures of disease. But I hope that my deeper shame will be the beginning of deeper knowledge.

Nov. 18th, 1879. – I thank you very much for giving me the Life of your Grandfather.2 It is intensely interesting, not only as the history of a very rare life and the evidence of a greatness of mental power only now fairly estimated, but as an unmatched illustration of the transmission of intellectual tendency as well as intellectual strength. May the like transmission be continued through yet many generations!

Dec. 3rd, 1880. — Let me thank you for your note and for the great pleasure I have had in even a partial reading of your new book3 –though it makes me feel that we must go beyond plants for a really elemental pathology. I wish I knew enough of crystals to work at them.


1 'The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication.'

2 'Life of Erasmus Darwin.' In a letter to my father, July 14th, 1879, Mr. Darwin says, 'It was very kind of you to take the trouble to hunt up the enclosed old Book. I have been glad to see it, as at least showing that Dr. D's views were attended to; & I have read it, as these old views on fever seem curious rubbish. I fear that my little life of Dr. D. will be a very poor affair, & never again will I be tempted out of my proper work.'

3 'The Power of Movements in Plants.' A few days later, Dec. 13th, 1880, Mr Darwin writes to my father, 'Perhaps you would like to see a very small "tumour" on a lateral branch of the Silver Fir, caused by an Œstrum, as stated (with references) in my Power of Movement in Plants. These tumours are sometimes almost as big as a child's head. At what age they emit the upright shoot, I do not know.'

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