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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. J. Romanes   27 May [1877]1

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

May 27th

My dear Romanes

I must thank you most cordially for your letter.2 It has been a greater relief to me than you would easily believe.— I did not know what the referees may have thought or said about Frank’s paper.3 Whether the moving filaments are protoplasm or not seems to me an open question, but that they are there is a new & surprising phenomenon, seen by Ray Lankester & Balfour.4 The latter by the way said he could not conceive any one who had seen them doubting that they ought to be called protoplasm.— It is terribly discouraging to a young worker to have his work rejected because the facts are quite new. But again I thank you heartily for your letter, which I will show to Frank when he comes home.—

Your letter has interested me much in other ways. I shall be delighted to read your Lecture when it appears in Nature.5

If any friend has been deceiving you in your sceances, how wicked & scandalous such a proceeding is.—6

I am soon going away from home for a month for I want rest & a change.7

Farewell | Yours | Ch. Darwin

I have read through about a 13 of Mr Grant Allen’s book.— it seems to me wonderfully clever, but is rather too much in the deductive strain for me,—though I know this is very illiberal.—8

I cannot but think that he neglects too much the effects of habits, in modifying tastes of all kinds, but perhaps I shall come to this hereafter.

P.S. 28th.

Can you spare time to come down any day this week, except Saturday, to dine & sleep here?9 We shd. be very glad indeed if you can come. If so, I wd. suggest your leaving Charing X by the 4o 12 train, & we wd. send a carriage to Orpington to meet you, & send you back next morning. In this case let me have a line fixing your day. It will be dull for you, for none of my sons except Frank are at home.—


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to G. J. Romanes, 23 May 1877 (Correspondence vol. 25). This letter was originally published in Correspondence vol. 25 without the postscript.
The letter from Romanes not been found.
See Correspondence vol. 25, letter to G. J. Romanes, 23 May 1877 and n. 3. The council of the Royal Society of London had decided not to publish the full version of Francis Darwin’s paper on the teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris; F. Darwin 1877a).
Francis had suggested that the filaments protruding from the glandular hairs lining the cups formed by some of the leaves of the common teasel were protoplasmic in nature and that they enabled the plant to absorb nitrogenous matter (see F. Darwin 1877a and 1877b). Edwin Ray Lankester and Francis Maitland Balfour had evidently confirmed Francis’s observations. Lankester was one of the editors of the Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science, where the full paper was finally published (F. Darwin 1877b). Balfour had ordered the strong lens that enabled Francis to make some of the observations; see Correspondence vol. 24, letter from Francis Darwin, [1 June 1876].
Romanes’s lecture, ‘Evolution of nerves and nervous systems’, delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on 25 May 1877, was published in three parts in Nature, 19 July, 2 and 9 August 1877 (G. J. Romanes 1877b).
CD was away from home from 6 or 8 June until 4 July, visiting first Caroline Wedgwood and Josiah Wedgwood III at Leith Hill Place in Surrey, then moving on to visit William Erasmus Darwin in Southampton on 13 June (Correspondence vol. 25, CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II), Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Romanes visited on Wednesday 30 May 1877 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).


Allen, Grant. 1877. Physiological aesthetics. London: Henry S. King & Co.

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

Darwin, Francis. 1877a. On the protrusion of protoplasmic filaments from the glandular hairs of the common teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris). (Abstract.) [Read 1 March 1877.] Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 26: 4–8.

Darwin, Francis. 1877b. On the protrusion of protoplasmic filaments from the glandular hairs on the leaves of the common teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris). Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science n.s. 17: 245–72.

Romanes, George John. 1877b. Evolution of nerves and nervous systems. Nature 19 July 1877, pp. 231–3, 2 August 1877, pp. 269–71, 9 August 1877, pp. 289–93.


Discusses Francis Darwin’s paper on teasel [Dipsacus].

Comments on GJR’s investigation of spiritualism.

Comments on book by Grant Allen [Physiological aesthetics (1877)].

Invites him to visit

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George John Romanes
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.514, Mss.B.D25.546)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10973,” accessed on 17 April 2021,