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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Tyndall   7 October 1868

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Oct 7. 1868

Dear Tyndall

Professor G. Hinrichs of Iowa some time ago sent me a letter in which he described how he had worked & sacrificed every thing, almost to the last dollar in getting his chemical & molecular views known.1 He sent me also a lecture on Religion & Science which seemed to me good, & in some points original.2

I answered that I cd form no judgment on his work, but expressed sincere sympathy for his up hill labour.3 Now I am punished by receiving copies of all his publications, including the chief one of which only 112 copies were printed, together with some circulars.4 I write to ask you whether you will accept the whole bundle? & if you will I shall feel truly grateful. Wd you object to place one of the circulars on the tables of of the Royal. Inst. & Athenæum;5 & if any one shd call on you who cares for such subjects, give him a copy. I ask all this, to ease my own conscience & help a poor devil if that is possible.

Many thanks for your Address at Norwich, recd several weeks ago, which I read with the greatest interest, & which I am told excited great admiration at Norwich.6

By the way, I must add how much I admired, & how entirely I agreed with you in a paper published a long time ago, I think in the Fortnightly, in which you enlarged on the wonderful power of pondering; I believe you have hit on the whole secret of scientific discovery.7

Forgive me for troubling you | & believe me yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin


CD refers to Gustavus Detlef Hinrichs, and to the letters from G. D. Hinrichs, [before 13 August 1868] and 31 August 1868.
Tyndall was superintendent of the Royal Institution of Great Britain (ODNB). CD also refers to the Athenaeum Club.
Tyndall’s address on 19 August 1868 as the president of the mathematics and physics section was published in the Report of the thirty-eighth meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held at Norwich (Tyndall 1868). No copy of the address has been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL.
CD refers to Tyndall 1867; in describing the process of scientific deduction, Tyndall wrote (p. 655): There is much in this process of pondering and its results which it is impossible to analyse. It is by a kind of inspiration that we rise from the wise and sedulous contemplation of facts to the principles on which they depend. See also Correspondence vol. 15, letter to J. D. Hooker, 2 September 1867 and n. 5.


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

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.

Tyndall, John. 1868. [Presidential address to the section for mathematics and physics.] Report of the 38th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held at Norwich, Transactions of the sections, pp. 1–6.


Asks JT to distribute some circulars about the work of Gustavus Hinrichs of Iowa, whom CD wishes to help.

Admires JT’s Norwich address [to Mathematics and Physics Section, BAAS meeting, Rep. BAAS 38: 1–6] and his Fortnightly Review paper on scientific discovery [7 (1867): 645–60].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Tyndall
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 261.8: 5 (EH: 88205943)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6413,” accessed on 1 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16