skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. H. Darwin   24 November [1877]1

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

Nov. 24th

My dear old George

I shd. like to sign your paper, but as it will be obvious to all on Council that I cannot judge in the least of your work,—that is whether well or ill done, & as I am your Father, my impression is that I had better not sign.—2 Cd you ask Glaisher,3 if you see him?— But do whatever seems best to you. I do hope your new results will turn out good.—

Did not Thompson overlook the heat generated by the crushing & folding of the strata during the secular refrigeration of the globe, to which Mallet attributes all volcanic phenomena?— If I remember rightly Malet enters an estimation of amount of heat thus generated. This must add something to your tidal heat—4

Yours affect | C. D.

An Engineer Mr Read(?) of Liverpool wrote to me that he is going to publish versus Thompson about refrigeration of globe.—5

The more I think the more I am inclined to believe I had better not sign.—


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from G. H. Darwin, [23 November 1877].
See letter from G. H. Darwin, [23 November 1877]. George had asked whether CD would like to sign his proposal form for fellowship of the Royal Society of London. (CD did not sign it: Royal Society archives, EC/1879/13.)
James Whitbread Lee Glaisher.
See letter from G. H. Darwin, 22 November 1877 and nn. 3 and 5. Robert Mallet’s calculations appeared in Mallet 1872, tab. 1. For his comments on William Thomson, see ibid., pp. 147, 201, 204, 205.
See letter to T. M. Reade, 12 October [1877]. Reade sent CD his paper, ‘The age of the world as viewed by the geologist and the mathematician’ (Reade 1878), in April 1878 (Correspondence vol. 26, letter to T. M. Reade, 8 April 1878). See also Burchfield 1990, pp. 98–100.


Burchfield, Joe D. 1990. Lord Kelvin and the age of the earth. With a new afterword. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

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

Mallet, Robert. 1872. Volcanic energy: an attempt to develop its true origin and cosmical relations. [Read 20 June 1872.] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 163 (1873): 147–227.


Thinks he had better not sign GHD’s paper [as a candidate for F.R.S.], since he obviously is no judge of the quality of his work.

Asks if Thomson did not overlook heat generated by the crushing and folding of strata during the refrigeration of the globe.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Howard Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.1: 65
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11251,” accessed on 19 October 2021,