skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. H. Darwin   [26 October 1875]1


Dear Father,

I have sent a copy to Müller, I stupidly did not have eno’ of the last printed, so that I have now only two left 2  I have been wonderfully well the last few days & manage an hours tennis in the a.m besides working most of the day. If I cd. cut myself in 3 I shd. have work eno’ for all, because my observations accumulate faster than I can work them out & besides there is some Mathcs. wh. I must do. I am beginning to see that it’s a fearfully tough nut to crack. I have already found that it does not do what Maxwell said it wd or ought to do3

So I’ve already found out something, tho’ not quantitatively yet. It’s exceedingly interestg work, but there are so many considerations that I don’t know if I shall be able to master them all & bring mathematics into play. The mechanical difficulties are very great—

Tell Fr. I will bring his slippers & the Hygroscope (wh. is v. pretty) on Sat. I will come by the 4.12.4 I hope to see Galton & the Cooksons.5

I’m afraid my letters smell of pitch, but I can think of O else. I’m glad to hear of McL’s approval. I hope he is better.6

Yours affectionately | G. H. Darwin

I think F enjoyed his Sunday v. much7


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to G. H. Darwin, [25 October 1875]. In 1875, the Tuesday after 25 October was 26 October.
CD asked George to send a copy of his paper on marriages between first cousins (G. H. Darwin 1875a) to Hermann Müller (see letter to G. H. Darwin, [25 October 1875]).
George probably refers to equations devised by James Clerk Maxwell for modelling viscoelasticity (Maxwell 1866, pp. 81–3). George was making experiments on the flow of pitch as part of his work on tidal friction; his early results were published in his paper ‘On the bodily tides of viscous and semi-elastic spheroids, and on the ocean tides upon a yielding nucleus’ (G. H. Darwin 1878).
Francis Darwin had visited George in Cambridge for three days, returning to Down on 25 October 1875 (letter from Emma Darwin to Leonard Darwin, 26 October 1875 (DAR 239.23: 1.35)). Francis was studying the ability of some seeds to bury themselves in the ground and had noted the hygroscopic properties of the awns of the seeds (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 21 October [1875] and n. 5). According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), George arrived on Saturday 30 October 1875.
There is no mention of a visit to Down by Francis Galton or Blanche Alethea Elizabeth and Montague Hughes Cookson, but George may refer to seeing them in London, where both families lived. George had spent time with the Cookson family in 1874; see Correspondence vol. 22, letter from G. H. Darwin, 6 [August] 1874 and n. 8.
CD had mentioned John Ferguson McLennan’s admiration of George’s paper on marriages between first cousins (G. H. Darwin 1875a; see letter to G. H. Darwin, [25 October 1875]).
During Francis’s visit (see n. 4, above), George had given a breakfast party attended by fourteen people (letter from Emma Darwin to Leonard Darwin, 26 October 1875 (DAR 239.23: 1.35)).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Maxwell, James Clerk. 1866. On the dynamical theory of gases. [Read 31 May 1866] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 157 (1867): 49–88.


Has sent a copy [of his article on cousin marriage] to Hermann Müller.

Problem he is now working on is a tough nut: "It does not do what [James Clerk] Maxwell said it wd or ought to do".

Letter details

Letter no.
George Howard Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.2: 49
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10226,” accessed on 31 March 2023,

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