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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. H. Darwin   10 [February 1875]1

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


My dear George

Immediately on getting Whitney’s letter I wrote to Knowles; but it was very good of you to think of saving me the trouble.—2 I got a most civil answer from Knowles this morning, hoping that W.s’ article wd. be a long one.— I have despatched it to Whitney with your note, & a short one from self.—3

I am very very sorry you give so poor an account of yourself.—4 Do not force your mind to activity: I am absolutely certain that you will never be idle, when you ought to exert yourself.— I know well the feeling of life being objectless & all being vanity of vanities. But this will wear away all the sooner for not trying to work too soon.— There were a lot of things in your letter which have interested me, especially about H. Sidgwick5 & spiritualism & on ethics.— I guessed about C. Leslie,6 & it rejoiced me.— We have ordered the F.R.7 which you shall have.— We heard this morning a terrible piece of news, the sudden death of Arthur Williams, so that poor Margaret is a widow.—8

I am quite tired so good bye | C. Darwin


The month and year are established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from G. H. Darwin to J. T. Knowles, 8 February 1875.
Neither William Dwight Whitney’s letter to CD nor CD’s letter to James Thomas Knowles has been found; Whitney had written to CD enclosing a letter to Knowles requesting the opportunity to respond to a recent article by Friedrich Max Müller that was critical of Whitney’s views on language. George had written a letter to Knowles that he intended CD to use as a cover letter (see letter from G. H. Darwin to J. T. Knowles, 8 February 1875 and nn. 1, 3, and 4).
See letter from J. T. Knowles, 9 February 1875. The two notes have not been found
George had evidently enclosed his letter to Knowles of 8 February 1875 in a letter to CD; that letter has not been found.
Thomas Edward Cliffe Leslie was an economist who challenged the purely deductive approach to economic analysis.
George had published an article, ‘The theory of exchange value’, in the February issue of the Fortnightly Review (G. H. Darwin 1875d).


J. T. Knowles [editor of Contemp. Rev.] hopes W. D. Whitney’s article will be a long one.

CD is sorry about GHD’s account of his low spirits. "I know well the feeling of life being objectless & all being vanity of vanities."

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Howard Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.1: 44
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9851,” accessed on 12 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23