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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. J. Romanes   24 September [1875]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Sept. 24th

My dear Mr Romanes

I shall be very glad to propose you for Linn. Soc. as I have just done for my son Francis.2 There is no doubt about your Election.— I have written for blank form.— Please let me hear your title. B.A. or M.A. & title of any book or papers, to which I could add “various contributions to Nature”.3 Also shall I say “attached to Physiology & Zoology”? When I have signed shall I send the paper to Hooker & others at Kew;4 or do you wish it sent to some one else for signature? Three signatures are required.—

The paper will have to be read twice or thrice when Soc. meets in November. But you could get books out of Library or out of that of Royal Soc. by my Signature or that of any other member.

I am terribly sorry about the Onions, as I expected great things from them; the seeds coming I believe always true. As tubers of potatoes graft so well, wd. it not be good to try other tubers as of Dahlias & other plants?—5 I have been rewriting a large portion of the Chapt. on Pangenesis, & it has been awfully hard work.— I will of course send you a copy when the work is printed6 How I do hope that your fowls will survive.

F. Galton was here for a few hours yesterday: I see that he is much less sceptical about pangenesis than he was.—7

I am heartily glad of your great success about Medusæ8

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to Romanes and Francis Darwin becoming fellows of the Linnean Society (see n. 2, below).
Romanes and Francis Darwin were both elected to fellowship of the Linnean Society on 2 December 1875 (List of the Linnean Society of London).
Romanes had written a number of letters to Nature, mostly on zoological subjects.
Joseph Dalton Hooker was the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; he had given Romanes facilities there to carry out experiments on grafting (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 17 January [1875] and n. 6).
Romanes’s letter to CD about the onions has not been found. Romanes was working on grafting in his investigations of CD’s hypothesis of pangenesis.
CD discussed his hypothesis of pangenesis in Variation 2: 357–404. A second edition of Variation was published in the second half of February 1876 (Publishers’ circular 1876), although it was dated 1875. The revised chapter on pangenesis was in Variation 2d ed. 2: 349–99. CD wrote, ‘The chapter on Pangenesis has been largely altered and re-modelled; but the essential principles remain the same’ (Variation 2d ed. 1: xiv). On pangenesis, see the letter from G. J. Romanes, 14 January 1875 and n. 2.
Francis Galton had experimented on transfusing rabbits with other rabbits’ blood in an attempt to test CD’s hypothesis of pangenesis; his results were inconclusive. See Correspondence vols. 18–21 and Galton 1871.
In papers read before the Royal Society of London and the Royal Institution of Great Britain, Romanes argued that the excitable tissue of medusae responded to stimuli in a similar way to the nervo-muscular tissue of higher animals, and that medusae possessed rudimentary nerves (G. J. Romanes 1875b and G. J. Romanes 1876).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Galton, Francis. 1871. Experiments in pangenesis, by breeding from rabbits of a pure variety, into whose circulation blood taken from other varieties had previously been largely transfused. [Read 30 March 1871.] Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 19 (1870–1): 393–410.

List of the Linnean Society of London. London: [Linnean Society of London]. 1805–1939.

Romanes, George John. 1876. The physiology of the nervous system of medusae. [Read 28 April 1876.] Proceedings of the Royal Institution of Great Britain 8 (1875–8): 166–77.

Variation 2d ed.: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1875.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Will propose GJR for membership in Linnean Society.

Discusses GJR’s grafting experiments.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George John Romanes
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.476)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10168,” accessed on 5 August 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23