skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. H. Darwin   5 March [1873]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

March 5

My dear George

We grieve to hear so poor an account of your healths. Give my affectionate love to Horace. Your mother, who has been unwell in bed with a cold & bad headache for several days, was much affected by your letters.—2 We both think that you are too ill to go to Carlsbad. So do come home, as soon as you have tried Dr F.’ prescriptions & advice long enough.—3 I write now to say that if you resolve for water-cure, & would feel more comfortable with us than in an establishment, we would gladly take a large house at Malvern or elsewhere, so that you might be with us. But we can talk over this on your return.

Tell Horace to talk with Dr Frank, who seems a very sensible man, what he thinks about water-cure for his case. We go up to London on the 14th or 15th for a month; but we wd. cut our visit there short, if desirable.—4 We know there is one spare bed-room for Horace, & we hope there is another (but are not at all sure) for you, in case you wd. prefer to be with us in place of your Lodgings.

My Father, who was so sagacious, used to declare positively, that there was always hope for such cases as yours & mine; as he had seen several surprising instances of spontaneous recovery.5

You both my dear Sons suffer from almost the greatest evil which can afflict anyone—nearly as bad, & in some ways worse, than complete blindness; but even if your healths should keep bad, it is possible to have some little happiness & enjoyment in life. Farewell my dear boys, how I wish I could hear somewhat better account.

Your affectionate Father | Ch Darwin

We were both pleased to hear about Strachey & your article on dress.—6

I have sent “Nature” regularly— I shd. like the last returned.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to G. H. Darwin, 22 January 1873.
George Howard Darwin and Horace Darwin left home on 10 January 1873 to travel to Cannes (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242); letter to G. H. Darwin, 22 January 1873). Two of George’s letters to Emma Darwin are in DAR 210.2: 25–6.
George was consulting the doctor Philip Frank about stomach problems (letter from G. H. Darwin to Emma Darwin, 27 February [1873] (DAR 210.2: 25)); he and Horace had also been abroad for their health in 1872 (Correspondence vol. 20, letter to W. D. Fox, 16 July [1872] and n. 3).
The Darwin family stayed at 16 Montague Street, London, from 15 March 1873 (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Robert Waring Darwin had been a physician in Shrewsbury.
George Darwin’s ‘Development in dress’ had been published in Macmillan’s Magazine in September 1872 (G. H. Darwin 1872). In a letter to Emma Darwin sent from Cannes in February 1873, George recounted a meeting with Edward Strachey, who had read the article aloud to an appreciative country house party and asked George about its authorship (DAR 210.2: 25).


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

Darwin, George Howard. 1872. Development in dress. Macmillan’s Magazine 26: 410–16.


Distressed by the poor health of GHD and Horace. Asks them to come home.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Howard Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.1: 9
Physical description
ALS 5pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8799,” accessed on 1 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21