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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. H. Darwin   [27? November 1876]1

Monday mg.

Dear Father

Stokes2 has just called to give me Sir W Thomson’s report on my paper— He says

“The conclusions arrived at by the author are I believe thoro’ly sound & they show the principles on which geologists may test the probability of the hypothesis that changes of the Earth’s axis have taken place in the course of geological history, to sufficient extent to account for some of the changes of climate of which we have geological evidence

Mr. Darwin himself enters with power on the geological question & shows that the changes in the distribution of solid matter which must have taken place had there been such changes are so great that geological evidence becomes very strong against the hypothesis of changes of the Earth’s axis having conduced to produce any of the proved changes of climate”

He objects that one part of my paper is made more difficult than it need be but admits that my solution is more general than one given by him—tho’ he says that his is sufficiently good, as I afterwards set on one side some of the things wh. arise in my solution

He ends

“I need not say that I am of opinion that Mr Darwin’s paper ought to be printed in the Trans.3 The part to which I objected (i.e an insufficient definition) might perhaps be a little improved but if the author prefers to leave it as it is I think it ought to be printed as it is” | Wm. Thomson

I need hardly say that I’m pleased with the report & feel well repaid for my work   I shall try to get leave to print Sir W T’s solution at end of mine.4

I’m a little more alive today | Yours affec. | G H Darwin


The date is conjectured on the supposition that this letter was written soon after the reading of George’s paper ‘On the influence of geological changes on the earth’s axis of rotation’ (G. H. Darwin 1876b) at the Royal Society of London on 23 November 1876. The Monday following 23 November 1876 was 27 November.
George Howard Darwin’s paper was published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (G. H. Darwin 1876b).
William Thomson’s solution was printed as an appendix to George’s paper; according to the heading, it was added in April 1877 (G. H. Darwin 1876b, p. 308).


Sends W. Thomson’s complimentary opinion of his paper "On the influence of geological changes on the earth’s axis" [Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. 167 (1877): 271–312].

Letter details

Letter no.
George Howard Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.2: 56
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10689,” accessed on 29 May 2023,

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