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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. H. Darwin   27 April [1876]1

Ap. 27

My dear old George—

I am very very glad of your news about your attacking so difficult a problem with a strong hope of success.2 I confess that I was alarmed when I heard that you cd not get the subject out of your head until I came to your last sentence that you wd be careful.— Do not be too much disappointed if your idea breaks down. It seems a capital idea consulting Adams.3

I am sure some mathematical discussions will be valued greatly by geologists who thought tremendously & it now appears overrated the value of Hopkins work about elevation.—4 There certainly have been enormous changes of level where our continents now stand, & great subsidence in the Pacific. Most geologists now believe that continents have existed nearly where continents now are at all known times— I shall be very glad to help in expence of paid calculation.—5

My dear old f. | Your affect. Father | C. Darwin6

I have just been arranging for a Spanish Translat of Origin!7


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from G. H. Darwin, 25 April 1876.
See letter from G. H. Darwin, 25 April 1876; George was working on the problem of whether upheaval and subsidence of the continents influenced the position of the polar axis.
John Couch Adams; see letter from G. H. Darwin, 25 April 1876 and n. 3.
William Hopkins produced several papers on continental elevation, including Hopkins 1836, which CD cited in his paper ‘Volcanic phenomena and the formation of mountain chains’, p. 624.
In his letter of 25 April 1876, George had suggested employing people to do the mathematical calculations required for his paper (G. H. Darwin 1876b).
This letter was written in pencil. Another person subsequently inked in the whole letter, except the salutation and part of the signature, in a fair imitation of CD’s hand.


Hopkins, William. 1836. An abstract of a memoir on physical geology; with a further exposition of certain points connected with the subject. London and Edinburgh Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science 8: 227–36, 272–81, 357–66.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

‘Volcanic phenomena and the formation of mountain chains’: On the connexion of certain volcanic phenomena in South America; and on the formation of mountain chains and volcanos, as the effect of the same power by which continents are elevated. By Charles Darwin. [Read 7 March 1838.] Transactions of the Geological Society of London 2d ser. 5 (1840): 601–31. [Shorter publications, pp. 97–124.]


Is sure mathematical discussion of elevation of continents will be valued by geologists.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Howard Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.1: 51
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10480,” accessed on 25 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24