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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Charles and Francis Darwin to G. J. Romanes   2 January [1877]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Jan 2. 1876

Dear Romanes,

I shall have real pleasure in proposing you for the Royal Soc, & I have sent for a blank certificate. This I will forward to you, to be filled up with your name, residence, & a list of your papers.2 I shall be in London early on the 6th at 2 Bryanston St; & you had better send me the certificate there for my signature.3 Please suggest some other men, not on the council, to whom I may send it for their signatures.4 No doubt Burdon Sanderson will be one.5

I have just begun to read with much interest your medusa paper.6

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. | I will call & see you early on in the following week.7

Dear Romanes,

Many thanks for sending me your Medusa paper which I shall be very curious to read. I hope your work is flourishing

Yrs sincerely | Francis Darwin


The year is established by the reference to the proposal of Romanes for election to the Royal Society of London (see n. 2, below). CD’s amanuensis, Francis Darwin, evidently dated the letter 1876 in error.
The form (Certificate of a candidate for election) proposing Romanes for election to the Royal Society was dated 8 January 1877 (Royal Society archives, GB 117, EC/1879/18). Romanes was elected on 12 June 1879.
The Darwins stayed in London at the home of their daughter and son-in-law, Henrietta Emma and Richard Buckley Litchfield, from 6 to 15 January 1877 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Members of the Council of the Royal Society were evidently not allowed to propose new members (see Correspondence vol. 24, letter from F. M. Balfour, 11 December 1876).
John Scott Burdon Sanderson’s signature appears on Romanes’s certificate; seventeen people in total signed the form (Royal Society archives, GB 117, EC/1879/18).
Romanes’s paper, in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, was the published version of his Croonian lecture, delivered on 16 December 1875, ‘Preliminary observations on the locomotor system of Medusæ’ (G. J. Romanes 1875). It included a lengthy postscript written in March 1876, summarising the experiments on the nervous system of jellyfish medusae made by Theodor Eimer, whose work Romanes had not known when he delivered his lecture (Eimer 1874). CD’s copies of the Philosophical Transactions are in the Darwin Library–CUL.
CD and Romanes had lunch together on 8 January 1877 (see letter to G. J. Romanes, 4 January 1877).


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.


Agrees to propose GJR for membership in Royal Society.

Remarks on GJR’s paper on Medusae [Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. 167 (1877): 659–752].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin; Francis Darwin
George John Romanes
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.503)
Physical description
3pp (PS by Francis Darwin)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10765,” accessed on 20 June 2021,