PROPERTY OF MRS A. P. KEYNES
The first Darwin knew of the publication of the Extracts from Letters was in family letters. His sister Caroline wrote to him on 29 December:
"...you must now hear how your fame is spreading— a note came to my Father on Xmas day from Profr. Henslow speaking most kindly of you & rejoicing you would soon return “to reap the reward of your perseverance and take your position among the first Naturalist of the day” and with the note he sent my Father some copies of extracts from your letters to him printed for Private distribution ... My Father did not move from his seat till he had read every word of your book & he was very much gratified— he liked so much the simple clear way you gave your information. Your frank unhacknied mode of writing was to him particularly agreeable..."
News of the publication did not actually reach Darwin until he arrived at the Cape of Good Hope at the beginning of June. Not for the last time, Darwin's immediate response to the thought of publication was to be "a good deal horrified", and to worry that "I have always written to Henslow in the same careless manner as to you; & to print what has been written without care & accuracy, is indeed playing with edge tools. But as the Spaniard says, 'No hay remedio'" (letter to Catherine Darwin, 3 June 1836). He would surely have been reassured when he finally saw a copy of the pamphlet after his return to England in October of the same year, as Henslow's preface cautiously emphasises that the letters were "the first thoughts which occur to a traveller respecting what he sees, before he has had time to collate his Notes, and examine his Collections, with the attention necessary for scientific accuracy." Certainly the publication did no harm to his relationship with Henslow, who remained a lifelong friend.
This pamphlet is exceptionally rare. A proof copy with some twenty corrections in pencil was sold in these rooms on 13 March 1973 (lot 404), and since then only five copies have sold at auction, including a copy presented by Henslow to Oxford's Ashmolean Natural History Society.
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