skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. H. Darwin   14 February 1869

Trinity Coll.

Feb 14. 69.

My dear Father,

Grove’s letter is satisfactory in one way that it settles that I go to a Solicitor sometime; but his opinion about the when is so diametrically opposite to that of Bristowe & Godfrey Lushington that I do’nt at all know what to do.—1 Mr. Hamilton wrote to me to propose that I shd come & be introduced to Mr. Hollams sometime, & so I have proposed to come up this week,—or if not to see him just before I start for Paris next month.2 It is wonderfully kind of Mr. H. to take so much bother about me.

Crolls letter interested me. The thing wh. you do’nt understand about gravitation & heat, I believe is as follows— If the Solar system were gaseous & then were to begin to condense towards a nucleus (the Sun) owing to the mutual attractions of its particles, (i.e gravitation) an immense quantity of heat wd be given out & thus wd suffice to keep the Sun hot for 20,000000 yrs. (—I forget the exact number).— This I think is called the heat due to gravitation.3

I must begin to settle my plans about Paris soon; my general idea is to go to a Pension for some time & then perhaps go to a family for a while. I know a man here who was in a family & found it appallingly dull. I have covered 35 sheets of paper the size of this when open (on one side) with French exercises written in a small hand— there’s business for you. My law & mathematics are getting on too—but the quaternions are so hard they take a deal of reading.

Frank spends all his time on cutting up toads with Pryor—4 I think he ought to have a chance of the scholarship, but I’m afraid he does’nt do himself justice in an exam.

We are going to meet Boyd Dawkins at Newton’s tonight5   I do’nt know who he is, but I suppose you do; however I shall have to pretend I do. Clifford, I believe, is going to be one of the ladies’ lecturers at S. Kensington along with Milman &.c.—6

Fitzmaurice7 has been here for yesterday & today, he breakfasted with me this mg. He says he is coming to Paris at Easter, but I don’t suppose I shall see much of him as I fancy he has got relations there. I have not got Croll’s letters with me, but I will send them in a day or two.8

I dined in Kings the other night with a man called Leigh—who is the tutor & I was introduced to the University Librarian & he said to me—I believe I met you out walking at Xmas & there were two dogs that fought—& I found that we had met in a turnip field near Reeve’s cottage—& Bob & his dog had fought.9 I did’nt remember him a bit— but I was awfully surprized.—

I wonder whether you are in town.—10

Your affectionate Son | G H Darwin


George refers to John Hollams and probably to Alfred Douglas Hamilton. See letter from G. H. Darwin, 6 February 1869. George left for Paris on 5 March 1869 (see letter from G. H. Darwin, [23 February 1869] and n. 7).
George refers to William Boyd Dawkins and Alfred Newton.
William Kingdon Clifford delivered ten lectures on geometry to ladies at South Kensington (Clifford 1882, pp. xxii, 628–37). George may also refer to Archibald John Scott Milman.
Edmond George Petty-Fitzmaurice.
George refers to letters from James Croll, [2 December 1868] (Correspondence vol. 16) and 4 February 1869. See also letter to James Croll, 31 January [1869] and n. 2.
George refers to Augustus Austen Leigh and Henry Bradshaw. William Reeves (b. 1814/15) was a local gamekeeper and Bob was CD’s dog (Freeman 1978).
CD was in London from 16 to 24 February 1869 (see CD’s ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 17, Appendix II)).


Clifford, William Kingdon. 1882. Mathematical papers. Edited by Robert Tucker, with an introduction by H. J. Stephen Smith. London: Macmillan and Co.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978. Charles Darwin: a companion. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.


Explains the point about gravitation and heat that CD does not understand in J. Croll’s letter [6218?].

Cambridge news.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Howard Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Trinity College, Cambridge
Source of text
DAR 210.2: 7
Physical description
ALS 8pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6614,” accessed on 7 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17