skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. J. Romanes   11 June [1876]1

Dunskaith, Nigg, Ross-shire:

June 11.

We had a good laugh over some parts of your letter.2 I have not, as yet, had time to read any of Häckel’s book.3

I am delighted to hear about the discovery, and hope, if it turns out well, to have my stimulated curiosity satisfied with regard to it. If it is as interesting as the observations about the seeds, people will think Frank a very lucky fellow to hook so many good fish in such a short time.4

Not having heard his arguments about the article-writing, I am still strongly of your opinion, and, being besides ill able to afford any time just now, I shall not bother with it.5 When I think that in this one county (Ross, and still more in Cromarty)6 there are more rabbits expressly bred every year for trapping than could be vivisected in all the physiological laboratories in Europe during the next thousand years, it seems hopeless to reason with people who, knowing such facts, expend all their energies in straining at a wonderfully small gnat, while swallowing, as an article of daily food, such an enormously large camel.7


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to G. J. Romanes, 4 June [1876].
CD had sent Romanes a copy of Ernst Haeckel’s work on perigenesis (Haeckel 1876a) with some sceptical remarks (see letter to G. J. Romanes, 29 May [1876]).
Francis had discovered protoplasmic filaments protruding from the glandular hairs in the cups of the common or fuller’s teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris, now D. fullonum; see letter from Francis Darwin, [28 May 1876], and F. Darwin 1877b). He had also written on the hygroscopic mechanism by which some seeds buried themselves in the ground (F. Darwin 1876c).
John Scott Burdon Sanderson had urged Romanes to write in favour of vivisection in the Fortnightly Review (see letter from G. J. Romanes, 1 June 1876); in his letter of 4 June [1876], CD had replied that he thought that course of action hopeless.
Ross and Cromarty were two counties (later merged) in the Highlands of Scotland.
Matthew 23:24.


Delighted to hear of Frank Darwin’s discovery.

Seems hopeless to reason with people about vivisection.

Letter details

Letter no.
George John Romanes
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
E. D. Romanes 1896, pp. 63–4

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10536,” accessed on 24 June 2021,

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