skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. H. Darwin   [after 4 September 1876]1

My dear G.—

I do not think that you will care for Zacharias’ pamphet sent by this post.—2 Hermann Müller has sent you & Frank a newspaper on the development of the instincts of bees in relation to sucking flowers which I am sure you wd not care about in the least & I have not sent it.—3

I have received a German pamphet about the idea of God & immortality & socialism under a Darwinian point of view: it is so difficult I cannot make head or tails of it;4 I at first thought of sending it you, but then thought you wd. not care for it. I could, however, send it.— Do you remember calculating for me about number of molecules in a square of 11000 of an inch, in relation to Pangenesis; well I hear from Eras. that in Encyclop. Britannica, Clark-Maxwell has been writing on this subject in relation to Pangenesis, & opposed to my views, but Eras. says he cannot understand it, & that you might on your return read it.—5 I have been grieved, my dear George, to hear how very bad you have been.6

Yours affect. | C. Darwin


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Hermann Müller, 4 September 1876.
Otto Zacharias had written an introduction to the German translation of George’s paper on cousin marriages (G. H. Darwin 1875; G. H. Darwin 1876a, pp. iii–vi). CD’s copy of G. H. Darwin 1876a is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
See letter from Hermann Müller, 4 September 1876 and n. 2. The newspaper article was the last two instalments of H. Müller 1875–6.
Wilhelm Parow sent CD a copy of his lecture Der Gottes-Begriff, Unsterblichkeit und die sittliche Idee gegenüber dem Darwinismus (The concept of God, immortality and the moral idea with respect to Darwinism; Parow 1876). CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. 
James Clerk Maxwell, who served as the physical sciences editor for the ninth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, had written the article on the atom (Maxwell 1875; see also Harman ed. 1990–2002, 2: 445–84). Maxwell discussed the limits of the dimensions of organic molecules in relation to pangenesis, CD’s theory of heredity (see Maxwell 1875, p. 42). Erasmus Alvey Darwin was CD’s brother.
George periodically suffered from stomach-related illnesses and in October 1876 he was also bothered by eczema (letter from Emma Darwin to Leonard Darwin, [29 October 1876] (DAR 239.23: 1.53)).


Encyclopaedia Britannica: Encyclopaedia Britannica online.

Maxwell, James Clerk. 1875. Atom. Encyclopaedia Britannica 9th ed. 3: 36–49.

Müller, Hermann. 1875–6. Die Bedeutung der Honigbiene für unsere Blumen. Bienen-Zeitung: Organ des Vereins der deutschen Bienenwirthe 31 (1875): 81–2, 102–4, 109–11, 122–5, 138–41, 165–9; 32 (1876): 20–2, 119–23, 176–84.

Parow, Wilhelm. 1876. Der Gottes-Begriff, die Unsterblichkeit und die sittliche Idee gegenüber dem Darwinismus. Ein Vortrag. Leipzig: J. G. Findel.


Has received a baffling article on God, immortality, and socialism under a Darwinian point of view.

Clerk Maxwell has disagreed with CD on molecular calculations in relation to Pangenesis in Encyclopaedia Britannica article ["Atom", Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th ed. (1875) 3: 36–49].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Howard Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.1: 66
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10338,” accessed on 20 April 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24