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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Tyndall   [27 February 1871]1

6. Queen Anne St


My dear Tyndall

I called yesterday for the improbable good luck of finding you at home on a Sunday at the R. Institution, to thank you for your note.—2 What a very interesting & practical discovery you have made in saving the poor firemen from being choked by noxious fumes.— By an odd chance I was wondering some months ago about the hairs within our nostrils, & it wd. be fine if you have explained it. At present, however, I can hardly think, except in a few anomalous individuals, that the hairs are thick enough together. It wd be very adviseable to ascertain how far the character is present in the hairless races of man.— Also under a different point of view with animals which have great powers of scent.—

I hope to see tomorrow Dr. Ogle3 who has been attending to powers of smelling, & I will tell him your idea, & he may have opportunity, as a Doctor, of observing different races of man in Hospitals.

Many thanks for your note.

Yours very sincerely | Ch Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from John Tyndall, 23 February [1871]. The first Monday after 23 February 1871 was 27 February. The Darwins were in London from 23 February to 2 March 1871 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
CD refers to the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and to the letter from John Tyndall, 23 February [1871].
William Ogle.


Thinks JT’s discovery of a glycerine respirator is an interesting practical discovery. CD has been wondering about the hairs in our nostrils, but doubts that JT has explained their function, since there are hardly enough.

Will ask W. Ogle to observe hairs in nostrils of different races.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Tyndall
Sent from
London, Queen Anne St, 6
Source of text
DAR 261.8: 7 (EH 88205945)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7518,” accessed on 18 February 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19