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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Robert Thomson   23 May 1878

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

May 23rd 1878

Dear Sir,

I am sorry to say that so many years have elapsed since I have attended to the subject of earthquakes that I am quite incapable of expressing any opinion on your views.1 When Mr Mallet’s paper on earthquakes, appeared, I well remember regretting that I had published any speculations on the subject, for it became clear to me that a man, to do any good work on this subject, must be deeply versed with respect to wave-motions both in solids & fluids.2

I remain dear Sir, | Yours faithfully | Charles Darwin


Robert Mallet’s paper, ‘On the dynamics of earthquakes’ (Mallet 1846), sought to apply physical laws to the study of earthquakes.


Mallet, Robert. 1846. On the dynamics of earthquakes; being an attempt to reduce their observed phenomena to the known laws of wave motion in solids and fluids. [Read 9 February 1846.] Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy 21: 51–105.


Cannot express opinion on RT’s views on earthquakes. To do good work on that subject a man must be deeply versed in wave motions.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert Thomson
Sent from
Source of text
John Hay Library, Brown University (Albert E. Lownes Manuscript Collection, MS.84.2)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11525,” accessed on 26 September 2021,