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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. J. Romanes   16 July 1874

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

July 16 1874

Dear Sir

I am much obliged for the copy of your long letter, which I have read with great interest, as well as your articles in Nature.1 The subject seems to me as important and interesting as it is difficult. I am at present out of health & working very hard on a very different subject; so that I cannot give your remarks the attention which they deserve. I will, however, keep your letter for a future time. It makes it clearer to me than it ever was before, how an organ or part, which has already begun from any cause to decrease, will go on decreasing through mere so called spontaneous variability with intercrossing; for under such circumstances it is very unlikely that there should be variation in the direction of encrease beyond the average size; & no reason why there should not be variations of decrease. I think this expresses your view.2 I had intended this summer to subject plants to severe conditions & observe the effects on variation; but the work would be very laborious, yet I am incline〈d〉 to think that it will be hereaf〈ter〉 worth the labour.

With my best thanks | I remain, dear Sir, | yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin


See letter from G. J. Romanes, 10 July 1874. CD refers to Romanes’s letters to Nature, 9 April 1874, pp. 440–1, and 2 July 1874, p. 164 (Romanes 1874b and 1874c).


Thanks GJR for his letter, regrets pressure of other work prevents his giving GJR’s remarks the attention they deserve. GJR makes clearer how an organ that has started to decrease will go on decreasing.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George John Romanes
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (444)
Physical description
4pp & AdraftS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9549,” accessed on 19 June 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22