skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. J. Romanes   27 June [1881]1

Glenrhydding House | Patterdale, Penrith.—

June 27th.

My dear Romanes

I am very glad the portrait affair has been arranged as it has been, but I fear that it must have caused you a good deal of bother.— I imagined that Murie spoke to me as the mouth-piece of some little committee; & otherwise he had no right to speak, but I rejoice that you have managed to tide over the affair without annoying him, for I like all the little which I have seen of him.—2

We return home on July 5th & I shall be busy for about a week with proof-sheets & miscellanea, & shd. be then ready for Mr. Collier, if it suits him.—3 On August 2d to 4th I must be in London for an engagement.—4 With respect to subscriptions, I think that I had better take no part & say nothing— It will clearly be Mr Colliers fault if he is not properly remunerated.—

We have all here been particularly interested in your account of the Bishop seance.—5

Have you ever been to the Lakes. This is a quite wonderfully beautiful place, but I think that Borrowdale, where we spent a 12 day is even more beautiful.—6

You seem to be one of those men who find time for everything, otherwise I shd. advise you not to waste your time about portraits of old worn-out men.

My dear Romanes | Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin

I am reading (but have read only about 100 pages) a very well written book, which interests me much, yet I suspect that several of his fundamental propositions have no foundation. It is “The Creed of Science” by W. Graham. He is, I think, a very able man, but who & what he is I know not. He sent me the book, which has so far interested me much.7


The year is established by the address. In 1881, the Darwins visited Patterdale in the Lake District from 3 June to 4 July (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
James Murie, the librarian of the Linnean Society, had arranged for CD to sit for a portrait for the society. See letter from G. J. Romanes, 25 May [1881].
See n. 1, above. CD was correcting proof-sheets for Earthworms. Romanes, who was the zoological secretary of the Linnean Society, suggested that John Collier might be commissioned to paint the portrait and CD agreed on condition that enough subscriptions were raised to employ Collier (see letter from G. J. Romanes, 25 May [1881], and letter to G. J. Romanes, 27 May 1881).
CD had agreed to attend the luncheon for the opening of the seventh International Medical Congress in London on 3 August 1881 (see letter from James Paget, 1 June 1881 and n. 1, and letter to James Paget, 3 June 1881).
Romanes’s article ‘Thought-reading’ had appeared in Nature, 23 June 1881 (G. J. Romanes 1881a). In the article, Romanes described a number of experiments designed to test the ability of Washington Irving Bishop to read thoughts.
The Borrowdale area extends from the south shore of Derwentwater to Honister Pass. Patterdale, where the Darwins stayed, is at the southern end of Ullswater.
William Graham, in his book, The creed of science (Graham 1881), discussed how far philosophy, theology, and ethics needed to be revised in the light of new scientific theories of the conservation of energy and evolution by natural selection.


Earthworms: The formation of vegetable mould through the action of worms: with observations on their habits. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1881.

Graham, William. 1881. The creed of science: religious, moral, and social. London: C. Kegan Paul & Co.

Romanes, George John. 1881d. ‘Thought-reading’. Nature, 23 June 1881, pp. 171–2.


CD is glad the portrait [of CD by John Collier] has been arranged; suggests dates, but feels he should have no say in the subscriptions or remuneration.

Thinks the Lakes are beautiful.

Is reading W. Graham’s The creed of science.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George John Romanes
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13221,” accessed on 21 June 2024,