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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. J. Romanes   [c. 19 March 1876]1

I write to thank you for the copy of the new edition of the ‘Variation’ which I received a few days ago. I am very glad to see that you have thought my views about rudimentary organs worth a place, and that you speak so well of them.2

The chapter on Pangenesis is admirable.3 The case is so strong, that it makes me more anxious than ever to get positive results in this year’s experiments. I mean there seems less doubt than ever that such results must be obtainable if one hammers long enough. I did not know that there were so many cases of graft-hybridisation in potatoes.4 Perhaps it will be better this year to give one’s main energies to other vegetables.

I find that a German, Dr. Eimer, is on the scent of the jelly-fish, but he does not seem to have done much work as yet.5 It is arranged that I am to have a Friday evening at the Institution soon after Easter, to tell the people about my own work.6


The date is established by the relationship between this letter, the letter from J. C. E. Kollmann, 19 March 1876, and the letter from J. V. Carus, 19 March 1876. All three letters include thanks for presentation copies of Variation 2d ed.
Romanes’s name was on the presentation list for Variation 2d ed. (see Appendix III), which was published in the second half of February 1876 (Publishers’ Circular, 1 March 1876, p. 168), although it carried an 1875 publication date. In Variation 2d ed. 2: 309, CD gave Romanes’s explanation for continued reduction of rudimentary parts.
The chapter on pangenesis, CD’s hypothesis of heredity, was ‘largely altered and re-modelled’ but the essential principles were unchanged (Variation 2d ed. 1: xiv).
In Variation 2d ed. 1: 420–4, CD gave a summary of all recent published cases of graft hybrids in the potato. Romanes had been doing experiments on graft hybrids for CD; see Correspondence vol. 23, letter to G. J. Romanes, 8 October 1875.
Romanes was evidently unaware that Theodor Eimer had already described his experiments on the nervous system of medusae in Eimer 1874. Eimer published two further works on the medusan nervous system, the last a monograph on its physiology and morphology (Eimer 1877 and 1878).
Romanes delivered his lecture ‘The physiology of the nervous system of medusae’ (G. J. Romanes 1876) at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on 28 April 1876.


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

Eimer, Theodor. 1874. Ueber künstliche Theilbarkeit von Aurelia aurita und Cyanea capillata in physiologische Individuen. Verhandlungen der Physikalisch-medicinischen Gesellschaft in Würzburg n.s. 6: 137–61.

Eimer, Theodor. 1877. Ueber künstliche Theilbarkeit und über das Nervensystem der Medusen. [Read 21 September 1877.] Archiv für mikroskopische Anatomie 14: 394–408.

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.


Thanks for copy of 2d ed. of Variation.

Letter details

Letter no.
George John Romanes
Charles Robert Darwin
Source of text
E. D. Romanes 1896, pp. 44–5

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10421F,” accessed on 5 March 2021,

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