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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. H. Darwin   [30 June 1878]1

4, Bryanston Street, | Portman Square. W.

Sunday afternoon

Dear Father,

I never was more disgusted than at seeing that little paragraph in Nature—for it is obvious that M. Lagrange has got hold of the same sort of ideas as I have. I suppose it’s foolish to care very much about it, but I shall feel fearfully flat if I am forestalled.—

I asked Galton about sending some sort of abstract to the Brit. Assoc. but he said he didn’t know & advised me to find out from Spottiswoode which I am going to do—& if it is all right I shall send some account of my work to Dublin.2

I am sorry to say that Uncle Ras3 has had a relapse again which he says was brought on by his imprudence in eating green peas. He did not strike me as looking so ill as he was when he was first bad.

I have been very little good here tho’ Ive managed to see several people—but the heat has been really intolerable until today. I don’t quite know when I shall come down again as it depends on whether I get more lively or not tomorrow—however I shall certainly be back by Wednesday.4

Yours affectionately | G H Darwin


The date is established by the reference to the report in Nature, 27 June 1879 (see n. 2, below); the Sunday after 27 June was 30 June.
A summary of the papers in Bulletin de l’Académie royale de Belgique 3 (1878), published in Nature, 27 June 1878, p. 242, reported that Charles Henri Lagrange proposed to use his conclusion ‘that a deformable mass, subjected to the attraction of another deformable mass, in rotation takes a motion of rotation in the same direction’ to explain the origin of astronomical movements. Douglas Strutt Galton was general secretary of the British Association for the Advancement of Science; William Spottiswoode was president. George’s paper ‘On the precession of a viscous spheroid’ appeared in Report of the 48th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (G. H. Darwin 1878c). The paper modelled the possible long-term effects of lunar tides on the earth’s rotation, assuming differing degrees of viscosity.
CD’s brother, Erasmus Alvey Darwin.
There is no record of George’s visiting Down around this date.


Is frustrated to see, from a paragraph in Nature [18 (1878): 242], that Charles Lagrange has got hold of the same sort of ideas as he has.

Erasmus is unwell.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Howard Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Bryanston St, 4
Source of text
DAR 210.2: 67
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11573,” accessed on 25 February 2021,