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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Tyndall   7 September 1870


7th Sept.r 1870

My dear Darwin

I have asked Spottiswood & Co to send you the proof of a lecture which I purpose giving in Liverpool on the 16th1

I have had no books beside me in writing it; and I would therefore thank you much if you would glance at that portion of the proof where your name is introduced, and kindly inform me whether it is rightly introduced.2 Prior to page 31 I do not think your name occurs: so that you will not have much to read.

Would you be good enough to send the proof to me with your remarks, if any, to the Royal Institution some time this week?3 I am very anxious to get it wholly off my hands.

I hope you are well. When I saw you last I was far from well—indeed I was very ill— this accounts for my unsociability.4 I thank the gods I am now in a fair way. | Yours, ever | John Tyndall

I have been staying with Bence Jones for the last few days,5

That remark of Elie de Beaumont where he requires you to recant prior to being admitted into the Academy is simply intolerable—6 This spirit has much to do with the present condition of France.7


Tyndall refers to the printing firm of William Spottiswood and to the lecture ‘Scientific use of the imagination’, which he delivered to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Liverpool on 16 September 1870 (Tyndall 1870).
See Tyndall 1870, pp. 31–2.
Tyndall was superintendent of the Royal Institution of Great Britain (ODNB).
Tyndall may have met CD during one of his visits to London in 1870.
CD had sought medical advice from Henry Bence Jones in 1865 (see Correspondence vol. 13), and still consulted him on occasion (see letter from H. B. Jones, 2 August 1870).
The reference is to remarks by Léonce Elie de Beaumont in the dispute surrounding CD’s proposed election to the Paris Académie des Sciences: ‘M. Darwin a fait de bons travaux qu’il a gâtés par des idées dangereuses et sans fondements: il faut attendre pour l’élire qu’il ait renoncé à ces idées’ (‘Mr. Darwin has done good work that is tainted by dangerous and unfounded ideas: it is necessary to wait until he has renounced these ideas before electing him’; Revue des Cours Scientifiques, 23 July 1870, p. 529. See also the letter to Armand de Quatrefages, 23 August [1870] and nn. 5 and 6.
Tyndall alludes to the revolution of 1870 which brought an end to the Second Empire in France. A provisional government was constituted by republican deputies in Paris on 4 September after the defeat of the French army by German forces (see EB (1970)).


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

EB (1970): Encyclopaedia Britannica. 24 vols. Chicago and London: Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1970.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.

Tyndall, John. 1870. On the scientific use of the imagination: a discourse delivered before the British Association at Liverpool, on Friday evening, 16th September 1870. London: Longmans, Green & Co.


Sends CD proofs of a lecture he will give at Liverpool. Asks CD to check the part referring to him.

Élie de Beaumont’s remark, in which he requires CD to recant before being admitted to the [French] Academy, is intolerable. "This spirit has much to do with the present condition of France."

Letter details

Letter no.
John Tyndall
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 106: C3–4
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7318,” accessed on 9 May 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18