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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. E. Darwin   30 November [1876]1


Nov 30th

My dear Father,

I am very glad poor old Pulmonaria is coming in useful, I often feel very sorry my little botanical dabbling has died, learning German first gave it a stab, such is life.2

Just before your line came about the gravel & snow Langstaff & I were talking about it & I was saying that you had some hopes of the Geolog. survey taking up your idea; I am very glad indeed you have now planted it with them; I shall like to hear how it works out.3

I was glad George’s R.S. went off so fairly well and that he was able to be there. Some definite fact as that about Jupiter if proved would certainly give him an astronomical reputation. We shall see him F.R.S. say in 3 years.4

I return his letter as I could not quite read Mother’s hieroglyphics in the envelope.5

Please thank Bessy for her letter6

You will not have to pay for the land till April.7

The puppies are getting vulgar & dull, their soul is absorbed in hanging round the back door for scraps.

I am perhaps going to Hen8 for Sunday as I want to be in London on Monday

Your affect son | W E Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Emma Darwin to Leonard Darwin, [5?] December [1876] (DAR 239.23: 1.54), which quotes from this letter.
See this volume, Supplement, letter to W. E. Darwin, [before 30 November 1876] and n. 3. William had made notes of his observations on Pulmonaria officinalis (lungwort).
George Howard Darwin’s paper ‘On the influence of geological changes on the earth’s axis of rotation’ (G. H. Darwin 1876) was read at the Royal Society of London on 23 November 1876. He was elected a fellow of the society in 1879 (Record of the Royal Society of London). In the December 1876 issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, George published a paper in which he pointed out an inconsistency in Pierre Simon Laplace’s determination of the precessional constants of Jupiter and Saturn (G. H. Darwin 1876b).
See Correspondence vol. 24, letter from G. H. Darwin, [27? November 1876]. Emma Darwin’s notes would probably have been directions about how to circulate the letter.
Elizabeth Darwin’s letter to William has not been found.
William refers to land that CD agreed to purchase in November 1876. In CD’s Investment book (Down House MS), p. 147A, there is an entry for £53 on 5 November 1876, ‘Deposit on Purchase of 4 acres & cottage’, followed by £477 on 5 April 1877, ‘Remainder of Purchase’. See also Correspondence vol. 24, letter to W. E. Darwin, 29 September [1876].
Henrietta Emma Litchfield, William’s sister.


Darwin, George Howard. 1876b. On the influence of geological changes on the earth’s axis of rotation. [Read 23 November 1876.] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 167 (1877): 271–312.

Darwin, George Howard. 1876c. On an oversight in the Mécanique Céleste, and on the internal densities of the planets. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 37 (1876–7): 77–89.

Record of the Royal Society of London: The record of the Royal Society of London for the promotion of natural knowledge. 4th edition. London: Royal Society. 1940.


Pleased to hear about GHD’s paper at the Royal Society.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Erasmus Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Basset [Southampton]
Source of text
Cornford Family Papers (DAR 275: 65)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11260F,” accessed on 4 June 2023,