a condensed and finished sketch of some striking feature

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Senior Member
I hope someone might help me get the meaning of this extract from a letter by Charles Darwin to his friend J. D. Hooker, while trying to convince him to ignore some bad review of his work published in a magazine, called Athenaeum. I think that Hooker sent them letters to be published as an answer for their review but Darwin was trying to convince him that this was not necessary. Here, Darwin said to Hooker in his letter:

I have considered to the very best of my judgment whether any portion of your present letters are adapted for the ' Athenaeum ' (in which I have nointerest ; the beasts not having even noticed my three geological volumes which I had sent to them), and I have come to the conclusion it is better not to send them. I feel sure, considering all the circumstances, that without you took pains and wrote with care, a condensed and finished sketch of some striking feature in your travels, it is better not to send anything.

I wonder what did he want to say by the second sentence. Is that it is better to send a sketch of some striking feature in his travels than sending a letter?
  • Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    sketch - WordReference.com Dictionary of English
    3 a brief or hasty outline of facts, occurrences, etc.:a quick sketch of what had happened.
    4 Literature - a short piece of writing, usually descriptive.
    He wants letters that are well-written, concise, and describe something specific to publish in the Athenaeum. There's no point in sending long, rambling letters that aren't about much of anything in particular.


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think the comma after "care" is misleading.

    I agree he is saying that, unless Hooker is prepared to painstakingly and carefully write "a condensed and finished sketch of some striking feature in your travels", he should send nothing at all to that publication.

    The "present letters" are not deemed suitable by Darwin.
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