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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Thomas Belt   [before 18] January 18771

Cornwall House   Ealing.

January 1877

Charles Darwin Esqre | Down | Beckenham

Dear Mr Darwin,

The study of the scientific questions on which I have been for some years engaged has become so absorbing and interferes so greatly with my business pursuits that I have determined if possible to give up the latter and devote myself to the former and after considerable hesitation I have taken the step of writing to Dr Hooker to see if I can obtain assistance from the Government Grant to the Royal Society to enable me to do so.2

I now write to ask you if you can help me in this matter   A note to Dr Hooker would be of great importance to me if you thought that I would return value for what I received

What I wish is to have time to put into shape and to publish the evidence on which I have arrived at the conclusions I have already partly made known on the Glacial period both in regard to surface geology and the extinction of some animals and plants and the present distribution of others3

I enclose a copy of a recent paper in the Quarterly Journal of Science4

I am Dear Sir | Yours very truly | Thomas Belt

P.S. The paper has not come in from the printer in time to post tonight. | B.


The date range is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Thomas Belt, 18 January 1877.
Belt was a consultant mining engineer; he had worked in many countries (ODNB). Joseph Dalton Hooker was president of the Royal Society of London. The Treasury funded a £1000 annual grant to the Royal Society; the grant was distributed by the council of the society to aid scientific investigators with equipment and assistance. In 1876, a further grant of £4000 annually for five years was announced, but details of its administration had not been decided (see J. D. Hooker 1876, pp. 342–3).
Belt had already written an article in which he reviewed recent theories on the climate of the glacial period and argued that a great increase in the obliquity of the ecliptic of the earth’s orbit would produce colder temperatures while a great decrease would produce warmer temperatures (Belt 1874b, pp. 461–3). In his most recent work, Belt concluded that Palaeolithic humans and animals such as the mammoth had lived in Europe before the Glacial Period, and that during the Glacial Period much of western Europe was submerged under water and uninhabitable (Belt 1877a, pp. 87–90; see n. 4, below).
Belt’s paper, ‘On the loess of the Rhine and the Danube’ (Belt 1877a), was published in the January 1877 issue of the Quarterly Journal of Science. CD’s copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.


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.


TB is seeking a Government grant through the Royal Society so that he can give up his business and pursue his work on the glacial period; wants CD to support him with a note to Hooker.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Belt
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 202: 14
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10761,” accessed on 17 September 2021,