skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. H. Darwin   13 July 1879

Trin. Coll.

July 13. 79

My dear Father,

I return Col. Chester’s letter, I will look up the deeds sometime myself.1

I am very sorry to hear what Henrietta thinks of yr. proofs, Tho’ I did not read it critically myself, I can’t say I agree with her. It is very hard to imagine oneself as outsider, but I think if it were very dull I cdn’t possibly have read it right off at a sitting as I did.2 I quite think the old D’s shd. be touched on in the lightest way—in a short note or something of the kind.3

I also felt some doubt about the doggrel about the hare-hunting.4 If it is short (as it is already) I believe the world will read it with interest.

I have sent off my papers to the R.S at last thank goodness & have begun to tackle my former difficulty, & the more I work at it the more terribly hard it seems; but I suppose I shall get thro’ it somehow.5 Perhaps I shall get on better. When I am better—for I don’t get rid of my cold at all in fact rather the reverse.

Horace has been very jolly tho’ perhaps not very well & has been about with Dew all day.6 They went over to Michael Foster’s to dinner yesterday. There does’nt seem much hope of decent weather yet.7

When does Frank return?8

Your affectionate Son | G H Darwin


CD had enclosed Joseph Lemuel Chester’s letter of 11 July 1879 with his letter to G. H. Darwin, 12 July 1879. The deeds related to the Cleatham Estate in north Lincolnshire, the former home of William Darwin (1681–1760) (see letter from C. M. C. Darwin, 16 April [1879]).
CD had been advised by Leonard Darwin not to publish some of the early family-history material except in a special edition intended for family members (see letter from Leonard Darwin, [before 12 July] 1879).
The doggerel, a poem by Erasmus’s elder brother, Robert Waring Darwin, was not included in the published version; for the omitted text, see King-Hele ed. 2003, p. 17.
George probably refers to the final version of his paper ‘On the precession of a viscous spheroid, and on the remote history of the earth’ (G. H. Darwin 1878), which was published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, and to ‘The determination of the secular effects of tidal friction by a graphical method’ (G. H. Darwin 1879), which was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. The ‘former difficulty’ was probably George’s continuing work on the mathematical modelling of tidal friction in relation to the orbit of the earth.
Michael Foster was praelector in physiology at Trinity College, Cambridge. The summer of 1879 was the wettest in England since records began in 1750 (Briffa et al. 2009, p. 1897).
Francis Darwin was spending a second summer working in the laboratory of Julius Sachs at the Botanical Institute, Würzburg.


Briffa, K. R., et al. 2009. Wet and dry summers in Europe since 1750: evidence of increasing drought. International Journal of Climatology 29: 1894–1905.

Darwin, George Howard. 1878d. On the precession of a viscous spheroid, and on the remote history of the earth. [Read 19 December 1878.] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 170 (1879): 447–538.

Darwin, George Howard. 1879a. The determination of the secular effects of tidal friction by a graphical method. [Read 19 June 1879.] Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 29: 168–81.

King-Hele, Desmond, ed. 2003. Charles Darwin’s ‘The Life of Erasmus Darwin’. First unabridged edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Sorry to hear Henrietta’s opinion of the [Erasmus Darwin] proofs. GHD did not think it dull. He makes some suggestions.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Howard Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Trinity College, Cambridge
Source of text
DAR 210.2: 80
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12154,” accessed on 22 May 2022,