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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. H. Darwin   27 November [1874]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Nov. 27th

My dear George

I cannot think so poorly of the cousin paper as you do, & I certainly think you ought to offer it to Dr Farr & offer him to look at it, before you send it to Manchester.— The London Socy would also, I shd. think, be a more lasting & better vehicle.—2

What a man you are for work & new ideas.— Do not for Heavens sake hurry Stanton, as Pol. Econ is so abstruse & important a subject.—3 I doubt from Jevons’ book whether he is so mealy mouthed, & am very glad he has been buttering you up.—4 I think I understand a little what you are about with respect to collisions: anyone would have guessed with twice the number of ships there wd. only have been twice the collisions.5

I expect the viscous work will be very stiff & perhaps a failure.6 I remember about 20 years ago apropos of Glaciers & Forbes there were endless discussions on movements of viscous matter, & some one tried pitch on a large scale. I fancy Hopkins wrote on subject; but he was in favour of sliding.7

You will soon receive sheets of Descent,8 for I got my bound copies yesterday. I am glad your days at least are not very bad.

Yours affect | C. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to George’s ‘cousin paper’, which was published in March 1875 (see n. 2, below).
CD was proposing that George send his research on marriages between cousins to the Statistical Society of London, of which William Farr was a vice-president (Journal of the Statistical Society of London 37 (1874): iii), rather than to the older Statistical Society of Manchester. George’s paper was published in the Journal of the Statistical Society of London in March 1875 (G. H. Darwin 1875a).
George was writing a paper on political economy (see letter to G. H. Darwin, 5 November [1874] and n. 6). CD probably refers to the political economist Charles Stanton Devas.
George discussed William Stanley Jevons’s Theory of political economy (Jevons 1871) in his article on the theory of exchange value (G. H. Darwin 1875d).
CD probably refers to the statistics about British shipping that Thomas Henry Farrer provided to Horace Darwin from the register of wrecks held by the Board of Trade (letter from T. H. Farrer to Horace Darwin, 26 November 1874 (DAR 258: 1566)).
George’s work on viscous spheroids was eventually presented to the Royal Society of London in 1878 (G. H. Darwin 1878).
The experiment with pitch had been carried out by Lewis Dunbar Brodie Gordon, and was described in Gordon 1845. For CD’s comments on the rival theories of James David Forbes and William Hopkins in 1844, see Correspondence vol. 3, letter to Adolf von Morlot, 9 August [1844] and n. 4, and letter to J. D. Forbes, 13 [November 1844]; Forbes and Hopkins’ views on the movement of viscous matter were given in W. Hopkins 1843 and J. D. Forbes 1849.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 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.

Forbes, James David. 1849. Fifteenth letter on glaciers; containing observations on the analogies derived from mudslides on a large scale and from some processes in the arts; in favour of the viscous theory of glaciers. Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal 46: 139–48.

Gordon, Lewis Dunbar Brodie. 1845. Account of an experiment on Stockholm pitch, confirming the viscous theory of glaciers. Philosophical Magazine 3d ser. 26: 206–8.

Hopkins, William. 1843. On the motion of glaciers. [Read 1 May 1843.] Transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 8 (1849): 50–74.

Jevons, William Stanley. 1871. The theory of political economy. London and New York: Macmillan.


CD thinks better of "cousin paper" than GHD does.

With respect to GHD’s "viscous work", remembers endless discussions of movement of viscous matter 20 years back, apropos of movement of glaciers.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Howard Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.1: 40
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9735,” accessed on 22 April 2021,

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