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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. H. Darwin   20 April 1874

Trin Coll

Monday | Ap. 20. 74

Dear Father,

I have done the book & send you another Sheet of small observations. I shall not want the sheet I send, back again as there will be nothing to alter in the Index in it—1

I hope you wo’nt think me bumptious if I say to you that I think it a splendid book & deserving of every inch of its reputation. Your power of marshalling facts under one point of view & the number of facts utterly staggers me; but I’m more struck than anything by the conciseness & clearness of your thought— the one fault I think is some slight want of conciseness of diction. As I cd’nt do a millionth part as much myself—I fear this seems hypercritical & conceited   I feel your power the more that I quail before the thought of arranging the few paltry facts I’ve got about those d–d cousins.2

Ithel Ruck is a funny man; he accepted my invit. to lunch very cordially for him but Mrs. R. turned up without him on Sunday & without any apology on his part.3 He actually has never been inside Trinity & never to the Backs4 (wh. are now lovely) until Mrs. R took him there. I certainly shan’t trouble him again now— after reading Maudsley I think he must be a little touched.5

I’m passable today again & hav’nt had much sickness for 2 or 3 days

I hope London will be successful—6 I come on Friday

Yrs affly | G H Darwin


George was correcting the proofs for Descent 2d ed.
George had been compiling statistics on the possible ill effects of first-cousin marriage (see letter from G. H. Darwin, 18 April 1874 and n. 7).
George refers to Laurence Ithel Ruck and his mother, Mary Anne Ruck. See letter from G. H. Darwin, 18 April 1874 and n. 6.
The ‘Backs’ are the grounds along the river Cam at the rear of several Cambridge colleges, including Trinity.
CD had corresponded with Henry Maudsley, the author of works on mental pathology (see Correspondence vol. 17).
The Darwins were in London from 21 to 29 April (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Descent 2d ed.: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1874.


Sends Descent material. Is staggered by CD’s power of marshalling facts and his conciseness and clearness of thought. The only fault he finds is some slight want of conciseness of diction.

He feels CD’s power more now "that I quail before the thought of arranging the few paltry facts I’ve got about those d––d cousins".

Letter details

Letter no.
George Howard Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Trinity College, Cambridge
Source of text
DAR 210.2: 35
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9421,” accessed on 19 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22