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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. H. Darwin   [8 November 1874]1

Sat. Night

Dear Father,

I have just heard fr. Spottiswoode pressing for an answer.2 I have written that if he must have an answer at once it must be no—but if he can wait till next week it might be yes, when I’ve consulted you. I have told Norman to send my M.S to you.3 Do you think you cd. read it by Wednesday so that we cd. discuss it at once & let me write on Thursday.4 It is not more than 12 an hour’s read I think. You must bear in mind that I shall not have touched it up since copying—& that it is only part of the Essay   I feel not lecturing if my matter wd. do is letting ‘I dare not wait upon I would’.5

I continue pretty seedy tho’ nothing to my old attacks

Yrs | G. H. Darwin


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to G. H. Darwin, 5 November [1874]. In 1874, the Saturday after 5 November was 8 November.
William Spottiswoode had invited George to give a Friday evening lecture at the Royal Institution of Great Britain (see letter from G. H. Darwin, 18 October 1874).
Ebenezer Norman was employed as a copyist by CD. The manuscript of George’s lecture on political economy has not been found.
There is no record of George’s arriving at Down on Wednesday 11 November 1874, but Emma Darwin’s diary records that ‘G’ left on 16 November (DAR 242).
Macbeth, 1.7.44. The complete passage reads: Wouldst thou have that Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life, And live a coward in thine own esteem, Letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would,’ Like the poor cat i’ the adage? The adage Lady Macbeth refers to, translated loosely from the Latin, is ‘The cat would like to eat a fish, but doesn’t want to get her feet wet.’


Spottiswoode is pressing for an answer to invitation to GHD to lecture at the Royal Institution. GHD is having MS of the paper he has written sent to CD, so that CD can advise whether he should accept the invitation.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Howard Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.2: 43
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9688,” accessed on 18 June 2019,

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