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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. H. Darwin   3 October [1873]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Oct 3d

My dear George

Your letter seems to me excellent & it was very good of you to take so much trouble. I doubt much whether a second letter is worth publishing on so hypothetical an assumption.2 In fact I ought not to have written the latter part of the article, but I did not then see how I could first test it.3 But as it is published, you may say it ought to be made clear. Do as you Diliberately think best. But I shd not like to publish even a son’s letter as my own. You could by altering a few words in the beginning, make the whole your own.— You cd. say that “My Father finds … & he has asked me to give a fuller explanation”,— or some such words.—

I have altered a few words & added a few. But I again say think before you send it. I am sure, however, that the letter is very good & clear. You cd. ask for proof to be sent to Trin. Coll..4

Yours affectionately | Ch. Darwin

Your last & previous notes interested us greatly about yourself & Edmund L.—5


The year is established by the reference to CD’s and George’s articles in Nature (see n. 3, below).
See letter from G. H. Darwin, [before 3 October 1873]. CD had published a letter in Nature, 25 September 1873, pp. 431–2, headed ‘On the males and complemental males of certain cirripedes, and on rudimentary structures’ (see letter to Nature, 20 September [1873]). George had drafted a clarification of CD’s remarks on variation in organs (see letter to Nature from G. H. Darwin, 4 October [1873]); George’s letter was published in the issue of 16 October 1873.
The second part of CD’s letter in Nature (see n. 2, above) discussed how useless organs might diminish and gradually disappear.
George took up residence at Trinity College in October 1873 (ODNB).
Both George and his cousin Edmund Langton had consulted Andrew Clark about their health (see letter from G. H. Darwin, [before 3 October 1873]).


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.


CD thinks GHD’s letter is an excellent clarification [of CD’s conjectural view on the elimination of useless parts in species], but does not want to publish it as his [CD’s] own. Asks GHD to think carefully before he publishes it.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Howard Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.1: 12
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9085,” accessed on 28 November 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21