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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Tyndall   23 February [1861]1

Down Bromley Kent

Feb. 23d

Dear Tyndall

I send the Letters.2 No 1 tells most.— It is only an inference that Mr Wedgwood saw congelation,3 but it seems to me pretty clear that he did. Letters no 2. & 3 are hardly worth your looking at.— Letter 4 contains reference to protrusion of glaciers by the swelling of frozen unfiltrated water.— I doubt whether the letters are worth your looking at, but it has amused me to see the speculations of philosophers (my two Grandfathers) nearly 80 years ago on a subject which they so little understood. It seems that Dr D. communicated the fact to Dr Black by Mr. Robert D. (who was my Father) & who lodged with Dr Black in Edinburgh.—4

Dear Tyndall | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

PS. | I send by this Post, a pamphlet which contains the best account, pleasantly written, of my Origin, if you chance to care to read it.5


The date is given by the reference to A. Gray 1861a.
CD sent Tyndall four letters from his paternal grandfather Erasmus Darwin to his maternal grandfather Josiah Wedgwood I. The letters are in DAR 227, Boxes 1 and 6 (see Correspondence vol. 9, Appendix V). CD may have mentioned these letters to Tyndall at the 21 February meeting of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society, which they both attended (see Correspondence vol. 9, Appendix IV).
CD refers to Tyndall’s interest in the phenomena of glaciation. Tyndall had discussed the results of his and Thomas Henry Huxley’s study of glacier motion in a lecture at the Royal Society of London in January 1857 that CD attended. CD had been particularly interested by Tyndall’s explanation of ‘regelation’, or the process by which moist fragments of ice become re-solidified. See Correspondence vol. 6, letters to T. H. Huxley, 17 January [1857] and 3 February [1857], and to John Tyndall, 4 February [1857]. Tyndall had recently published a book describing his observations and outlining his theoretical views on the subject (Tyndall 1860).
CD’s father, Robert Waring Darwin, had attended lectures at the University of Edinburgh before going to Leiden to study medicine. During his stay in Edinburgh, he apparently lodged with the professor of chemistry, Joseph Black, noted for his researches on the heat exchanged in the process of converting between the liquid and solid states of water.
A. Gray 1861a. Tyndall’s name appears on the presentation list CD drew up for the distribution of the pamphlet. See Correspondence vol. 9, Appendix III.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Tyndall, John. 1860. The glaciers of the Alps. Being a narrative of excursions and ascents, an account of the origin and phenomena of glaciers, and an exposition of the physical principles to which they are related. London: J. Murray.


Sends correspondence between Dr Erasmus Darwin and Josiah Wedgwood I [of Etruria] on glaciers.

Also a pamphlet [Asa Gray, Natural selection not inconsistent with natural theology (1861)] containing "the best account" of the Origin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Tyndall
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 261.8: 3 (EH 88205941)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3067,” accessed on 18 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9