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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. H. Darwin   3 February [1878]1

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

Feb. 3d

My dear George,

When I first read your note I thought that you had better not answer & criticise Haughton, as not worth the time; leading to controversy & exciting his ill-will.—2 But I read your note to Hooker, who is here,3 & he thought strongly that you had better expose, as courteously as possible, the error. Otherwise, as he says, Haughtons views will be quoted for the next 20 years as authoritative. I am inclined to think he is right,—that is if it will not waste too much of your time. I have always acted on the principle of publishing what I believe to be the truth, without contradicting others, thus letting opposed statements fight for existence.— But the case is different, no doubt, with mathematics about which only a few can judge.—

I am very sorry to hear so poor an account of you.4 Hooker & Norman Moore have been extremely pleasant & Lady Hooker5 is very nice. Litchfield is going on well, but looks terribly wan.6 I have 2 long letters to write, so no more.

Yours affect | C. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from G. H. Darwin, 28 January 1878.
See letter from G. H. Darwin, 28 January 1878 and n. 2. George had written to CD asking advice on whether to criticise Samuel Haughton’s paper on geological time (Haughton 1877).
Joseph Dalton Hooker.
George probably gave an account of his health in a missing ‘diary letter’ mentioned in his letter of 28 January 1878.
Hyacinth Hooker. The text ‘Hooker & … Lady Hooker’ is in pencil in an unknown hand at the top of page 4 of the letter, the original text having been excised at the bottom of page 3.
Richard Buckley Litchfield, CD’s son-in-law, was recovering from acute appendicitis; see Correspondence vol. 25, letter to W. D. Fox, 2 December 1877 and n. 1.


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

Haughton, Samuel. 1877. Notes on physical geology.— no. III. On a new method of finding limits to the duration of certain geological periods. [Read 20 December 1877.] Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 26: 534–46.


CD at first thought GHD should not answer Haughton [see 10689], but Hooker thinks if no correction is made Haughton’s error will be quoted for 20 years. CD is now inclined to agree.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Howard Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.1: 67
Physical description
4pp inc

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11345,” accessed on 6 March 2021,