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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. H. Darwin   [17 July 1871]1

New University Club | St. James’s St.

Monday evening

Dear Father,

We have just had Youmans to dinner & have had a very successful time. I suggested that Croll & M’Lennan would be very good men for his notion of small monographs & he says that he wd. be extremely obliged to you for notes to both of them, wh. I suppose you will have no objection to giving.2 He was very humble about asking for the letters but his scheme seems so good that I hope it will be well forwarded.

I had a long talk to Hacon today:—as to the codicil, he said that your will is now drawn in the usual form (but that I knew) & that practically to give the power to women to dispose of the funds is to allow the husbands to have free disposition over the sum & in short he rather recommended you to leave things as they are.3 I suggested that it might be very inconvenient if either of the girls4 wanted to buy a house &c but he answered that by saying that she could buy the house & mortgage it for the purchase money to the trustees. Nevertheless his arguments did not convince me.—

Then as to the settlemt we had a lot of talk all of wh I can hardly tell you in a letter.— He said that it looked rather one-sided to make the man settle all his money & for you only to give a bond (altho’ in this particr case it comes to precisely the same thing as he acknowledged) & suggested that unless you particularly desired not to do so you shd transfer £5000 of something of the nature of Debenture stock into the names of trustees & make the yearly income up to £400 or £350 if you preferred the lower figure & further that you shd covenant that from some source or other, either from Mother’s fortune or elsewhere, that not less than £5000 more shd be transferred to the trustees ultimately.5 This last I cannot see the use in—as Litchfield is not a grasping sort of man & indeed suggested that no bond or anything of the kind shd be entered into. Hacon seemed to go on the general supposition that L. was an eel wh. as far as one can tell of any man seems far from the truth.— Then again of the £5015 (not £5235 as added up by L.)— The Russian bonds & one or 2 of the other things are transferable by delivery & therefore not very good things for trustees to hold.— Not that Hacon objected to the Security but only to the comparative ease with wh. they may elude the grasp of the right persons—& Hacon suggested that he shd be required to change the investment of those things.— But I cannot say that I see the necessity for changing them for the chance of these being stolen if deposited in a Bank—tho’ of course the trustees wd. require a special clause of indemnity. The change of investment wd. necessarily entail a loss of income of about £50 a year. Hacon however seemed to think that it wd. not be unreasonable to demand the change but then he naturally wd. look much more to security than income & wd. neglect the change of income wh. togr. with the loss occasioned by the sale of the Bank shares wd. not be inconsiderable

I have however this very day seen a settlemt of Russian bonds—& Hacon allowed them to be very good security.

This idea of the Settlemt was just mine

L’s fund

interest to L. for life

remr. to Hen. for life   joint power of appointmt by L & Hen. amongst children & power to the survivor to appoint among children in default of appointmt amongst children equally & in default of children as Litchfield shd appoint & as to H’s fund precisely the same only thro’out readg. H for L & vice versâ.

Hacon suggested that I shd talk it over with you & then that L. or his solicitor shd be put in communication with him—Hacon—as talks about investments are awkward between principals— I will if poss. come down on Thursday night

Your affec. son | George Darwin


The date is established by the reference to dining with Edward Livingston Youmans. Youmans wrote in a letter to a relative dated 15 July 1871 that he would be dining with CD’s sons at the University Club on Monday, ‘to post them up a little before they start for America’ (Fiske 1894, pp. 275–7). The Monday following 15 July 1871 was 17 July. Youmans wrote in the same letter that CD had been in London that week and called on William Henry Appleton, who introduced him to Youmans. Youmans had dined with the Darwins at Erasmus Darwin’s house on 12 July. This visit to London is not recorded in Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) or CD’s ‘Journal’ (DAR 158).
Youmans founded the International Scientific Series for Appleton’s publishing company in the United States in 1871 (ANB; on the series, see Haar 1948, pp. 209–11). He had written to CD about the publication of Descent on 25 September 1870 (see Correspondence vol. 18). Croll never published in the International Scientific Series, but Appleton later published US editions of three of Croll’s books (Croll 1875b, Croll 1886, and Croll 1889). There is no record of Appleton’s publishing anything by John Ferguson McLennan. See letter to James Croll, 19 July [1871], and letter from James Croll, 17 August 1871. The letter to McLennan has not been found, but see the letter from J. F. McLennan, 21 August 1871.
William Mackmurdo Hacon was CD’s solicitor. George had evidently discussed Henrietta Emma Darwin’s marriage settlement with him. Henrietta became engaged to Richard Buckley Litchfield in July 1871 and married him on 31 August (Emma Darwin (1915), 2: 204).
Henrietta and Elizabeth Darwin.
In his Investment book (Down House MS), p. 134, CD recorded the transfer of £5000 of North Eastern Railway stock to Henrietta on her marriage. His Classed account books (Down House MS) also show regular payments to ‘Mrs Litchfield’ or ‘Litchfield’ from 1871.


ANB: American national biography. Edited by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes. 24 vols. and supplement. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1999–2002.

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

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Emma Darwin (1915): Emma Darwin: a century of family letters, 1792–1896. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1915.

Fiske, John. 1894. Life and letters of Edward Livingston Youmans: comprising correspondence with Spencer, Huxley, Tyndall, and others. London: Chapman & Hall.

Haar, Charles M. 1948. E. L. Youmans: a chapter in the diffusion of science in America. Journal of the History of Ideas 9: 193–213.


Discusses legal matters; CD’s will and setting up trusts for Henrietta Darwin’s forthcoming marriage.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Howard Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
New University Club
Source of text
DAR 210.2: 21
Physical description
ALS 7pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7841,” accessed on 7 June 2023,

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