JENYNS, Rev. Leonard. Memoir of the Rev. John Stevens Henslow M.A., F.L.S., F.G.S., F.C.P.S., late Rector of Hitcham and Professor of Botany in the University of Cambridge.
John Van Voorst. 1862.
8vo. Original green cloth, gilt lettering to spine; pp. ix + 278, frontispiece photograph of Henslow's bust tipped in, double page table, errata slip; edges of boards and spine dulled, browning to edges of text block, very good.
First and only edition, in a variant binding unnoted by Freeman. Henslow was an important figure in Darwin's life. He was Darwin's mentor at Cambridge and was entrusted with the material from the Beagle when it reached England. Darwin's Letters on geology were written from the Beagle to Henslow. In fact, Darwin's place on the voyage was due to the fact that both Henslow and Jenyns turned down the opportunity. Henslow recommended to Fitzroy that his young naturalist friend should take the position instead. Darwin's deep connection with the man is the reason why Jenyns invited him to write a personal recollection of Henslow, which appears here on pages 51-55 and which was not reprinted in full until Nora Barlow's Darwin and Henslow in 1967.
This is a very scarce work, with only a couple of copies appearing at auction. It never went to a second edition, and the fact that it sold sporadically is suggested by the existence of several variant bindings. Yet this is a wonderful example of Darwin writing in a personal vein and giving thanks for a man to whom owed so much. Something here is revealed of Darwin's own moral code: "Reflecting over his character with gratitude and reverence, his moral attributes rise, as they should do in the highest character, in pre-eminence over his intellect".
Henslow (1796-1861) was a renowned naturalist in his own right. He founded the Cambridge University Botanic Garden in 1831, which he developed into a world class site, and published a number of useful botanical books including A Catalogue of British Plants (1829). This book was the product of a herbarium of British flora that he organised with fellow collectors such as W.J. Hooker and J.H. Balfour. In cataloguing the plants he noted varations within species, and his thoughts on these variations influenced Darwin's later theories. He married Jenyn's sister Harriet in 1823 and their eldest daughter Frances married Hooker's eminent son, Joseph Dalton Hooker, one of Darwin's closest friends.