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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. H. Darwin   12 October 1875

Trin. Coll. Camb

Oct 12. 75

My dear Father,

Please read the enclosed & return them.1 If you will let me know what answer to give to Zacharias I will write. I am much surprized to hear that any publisher will publish it.2 Would it be impertinent to tell him to pocket any profits,—it is so excessively improbable that there will be any.? Jevons’ letter is very pleasing to me & encourages me to believe that I perhaps may do something health notwithstanding.3 I have just finished an account of the Globes for the Philosoph. Mag., & I hope they will put it in, as it has never appeared anywhere yet.4 It took me rather longer than I expected to draw the figures & write it.

I have always been in the habit of going in very late to hall so as to escape a sit of 25 min. before I get anything to eat, but 3 of the very dullest men the world has seen have just taken their M.A’s & come to our table & always sit at the bottom so that I have been cut off from human intercourse for 4 or 5 days— So last night I thought it better to try the waiting dodge, & I shall pretty often in future as the other is very depressing.5

I was repaid last night by meeting a very pleasant American Prof. Gilman, who has come to Europe to get hints about Universities. He is to be president of a new Univ. at Baltimore to wh. some one has given 14 million dolls.6 He had met Leo. in S. Francisco, & knew the Nortons well tho’ not a Bostonian.7 How small the world is! Tell Horace that Rendal has got a fellowship.8 We have just reelected Cayley wh. is a good thing, as his professional stipend is not very high.9

I received a pamphlet from Germany this A.M10

Doctor G. H. D Esq.

Our titles seem an endless mystery to foreigners.

I had hardly written the other day when the sickness began again, tho’ not very bad; but today I am too unwell to do anything except write letters. It is the usual bilious business.11 I do not expect wine abstinence will do much for me. At times I feel an intense desire for something strong tasting & eat salt to satisfy it, but I suppose it is the wine I want; however I shall persevere for my month & certainly my average for the last 10 days has been very much higher.

I’m afraid my pitch experiments must wait again for a few days, as it requires making observations every 5 min. for a long time together.12 I have had one short turn at it & find it very difficult as one has to look at a watch & observe an index at same time. I almost think I shall have to get a chronometer & someone to help me, but I shall persevere without for a time & see whether it is likely to lead to any results. It will require hundreds of observations & each of them requires several hours preparation because I must get the pitch to a given temperature thro’out before I can begin.

The fear haunts me that it won’t be of any value when I do get my results. However after a month or two, if I can work, I shall begin to see my way

Your affectionate son | G. H. Darwin


The enclosures have not been found, but were probably letters regarding the translation of an article written by George on marriages between cousins (G. H. Darwin 1875a; see n. 2, below).
Otto Zacharias had mentioned his desire to arrange for a German translation of George’s work on cousin marriage (G. H. Darwin 1875a) in his letter to CD of 19 August 1875. The translation, with an introduction by Zacharias, was published in 1876 (G. H. Darwin 1876), and a favourable review of it appeared in the Zeitschrift für Ethnologie (Lewkowitsch 1876).
The letter from William Stanley Jevons has not been found. George had written in support of Jevons’s Theory of political economy (Jevons 1871) in the Fortnightly Review in February 1875 (G. H. Darwin 1875d). Jevons suffered from chronic health problems but managed to continue to produce work in economics and logic (ODNB). George also suffered from periodic bouts of illness; see n. 11, below.
George’s paper, ‘Maps of the world’ (G. H. Darwin 1875c) appeared in the Philosophical Magazine in December 1875.
George, who was a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, refers to meals served in the dining hall. The men who had recently taken their MA degrees have not been identified.
Daniel Coit Gilman became the first president of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, in January 1875. In 1867, Johns Hopkins had endowed $3.5 million for the establishment of the university (ANB).
Gilman was educated in Connecticut and New York before spending a year at Harvard. Charles Eliot Norton and his family had spent four months living near Down in 1868, and had socialised frequently with the Darwins (see letter to C. E. Norton, 7 October 1875 and n. 5). Before becoming president of Johns Hopkins University, Gilman had been president of the University of California at Berkeley. He evidently met Leonard Darwin when Leonard was in San Francisco on his return from the transit of Venus expedition in New Zealand.
Gerald Henry Rendall, a contemporary of Horace Darwin, was elected a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1875 (Alum. Cantab.).
Arthur Cayley had been a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1842 until 1852; he was an honorary fellow from 1872 and was re-elected fellow in 1875. He was also the first Sadlerian (now spelled Sadleirian) Professor of mathematics at Cambridge (Alum. Cantab.).
The pamphlet has not been identified.
George suffered from chronic stomach problems, as did CD; both tried various diets and other treatments. Andrew Clark, their current physician, relied on a strict dietary regimen (see Correspondence vol. 21, letter from Andrew Clark, 3 September 1873, and Correspondence vol. 24, letter from Andrew Clark, 8 July 1876).
George’s experiments on pitch related to his study of tidal friction and the rigidity of the earth. He later published several papers on the motion of viscous and elastic spheroids that benefited from his observations on the flow of pitch (see G. H. Darwin 1907–16, vol. 2).


Alum. Cantab.: Alumni Cantabrigienses. A biographical list of all known students, graduates and holders of office at the University of Cambridge, from the earliest times to 1900. Compiled by John Venn and J. A. Venn. 10 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1922–54.

ANB: American national biography. Edited by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes. 24 vols. and supplement. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1999–2002.

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

Darwin, George Howard. 1907–16. Scientific papers. 5 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Darwin, Horace. 1876. [Description of a dead-weight rotary dynamometer.] Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Proceedings (1876): 231–4.

Jevons, William Stanley. 1871. The theory of political economy. London and New York: Macmillan.

Lewkowitsch, H. 1876. Die Ehen zwischen Geschwisterkindern und ihre Folgen. [Review of G. H. Darwin 1876.] Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 8: 158–62

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Sends an article for CD’s opinion.

Has finished an account of the globes for the Philosophical Magazine ["On maps of the world", 50 (1875): 431–44].

His poor health has interfered with his pitch experiments.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Howard Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Trinity College, Cambridge
Source of text
DAR 210.2: 48
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10191,” accessed on 7 August 2020,

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