[Professor Richard Owen to .] Autograph Letter Signed ('Richard Owen.') to his friend the Arctic explorer Robert McCormick, warmly praising him and his work.

Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892), Superintendent, Natural History Department, British Museum, palaeontologist [Robert McCormick (1800-1890), RN, Arctic explorer, accompanied Charles Darwin in HMS Beagle]
Publication details: 
On letterhead of Sheen Lodge, Richmond Park. 2 February 1884.
SKU: 21432

4pp, 12mo. Bifolium. In fair condition, lightly aged and worn, with thin strip from stub of mount adhering to one edge. A warm, light-hearted letter of praise, written on reading McCormick's 'Voyages of Discovery in the Arctic and Antarctic Seas and Round the World' 1884. The letter begins: 'My dear Mc.Cormick, | No days of my release from Museum-duties have been spent here more agreeably & profitably than in your Society. | Having voyaged with you, shiver'd with you, shot with you, climbed with you, through your two noble Volumes; imagine the coziness of an English fire-side!! | I find I am 2 days older, but 4 years younger, than you: my birthday being 20th: July; but my year-day, 1804. He suggests a meeting, 'with Sisters', and if the weather is 'favorable', 'If we should both be in as good health as now, or as we were “Oct. 23d., 1853” (vide Vol. II p. 329)', adding that his 'neighbours, now, are Mr. & Mrs. Chadwick, at the Cottage you wot of'. He continues: 'Well! Any amount of thanks are short of the truly valuable and interesting information I have reaped from perusal of the pages of your most kind Gift-book! | Our country-men & women will derive a truer knowledge of the “ends” of their world – north & south, than from any other book extant. Great credit is due to the style in which your Artistic drawings of Scenes, some of which may never again be seen by mortal eyes, have been given by your spirited Publisher'. He could 'go on for hours without exhausting what your pages have impressed on my mind; but the “proofs” , and pile of “letters” alongside, compel me to close'. There is an interesting juxtaposition between McCormick's association with Darwin, and Owen's opposition to the theory of Evolution. From the distinguished autograph collection of Richard Hunter, son of Ida Macalpine, whose collection of 7000 books relating to psychiatry is in Cambridge University Library. Macalpine and Hunter had a particular interest in the illness of King George III, and their book 'George III and the Mad Business' (1969) suggested the diagnosis of porphyria popularised by Alan Bennett in his play 'The Madness of George III'.