skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. H. Darwin   5 October 1873

Trin. Coll.

Sunday | Oct 5 73

My dear Father,

I have decided to send the letter to Nature for the reasons wh I gave before & also because I feel partly guilty of the obscurity of your former letter. I have of course altered it as you suggest & added one other sentence.1

I had to do a great deal more than was good for me in London & even then did’nt buy my furniture for Down, & consequently when I got down here on Friday morning was quite knocked up with all the scrimmage & was very bad all day.2 Yesterday morng. I was bad too but got m. better in the p.m & had a most enjoyable game of tennis—the first for about 134 years. I shall try & play as often as I can but fear that I shall not be always up to the mark. Horace seems tol. as far as I can see.3 I am trying to starve myself right, but it is most difficult to know how & to what extent to do it.4 I’m not very brilliant again this morning, but I sha’nt have quite so m. scrimmage henceforward.

I found my rooms in the most hopeless confusion, full of my boxes & straw & dismantled bookshelf & writing table. One sitting room & the bedroom literally without a stick in them. I am now in some rooms on the same staircase & hope to get into my room tomorrow or Tuesday. There is a general gyproom5 for the staircase with a boiler in it, which will be very convenient & I have of course a small private one. I have been spending my time in going backwards & forwards to the upholsterers & crockery shop & have bought bed-room furniture glasses &c. furniture for the small room & the big one I shall do by degrees afterwards.

The man whose rooms I am going into is very touchy & has just come to a dead cut (after many little tiffs) with Jackson,6 who is my next door neighbour; so the change must be pleasant for J..— There are very few men up yet & I hope to get furnished before the crush comes.

I heard from F Galton this a.m & he says ‘Do u kno or has Dr. C heard of that 12 incred. but uncontradd. assertion made … before a crowd of physiologs. at Bradf. that albumen mixed with water in a short time becomes indistinguishable from the contents of the lacteals white corpuscles &c!!! (So that u cd. assim. it witht. any stomach at all) & the v. pract. conclusion that if an egg is broken into cold water & left to stand 12 hrs it becomes opaque then boil the whole slightly & the result is a food that the author asserted to be digestible when nothing else cd be digested!’7

He says he’s sorry to hear of yr illness.

I saw the Ed. of Examiner (Cox not [Mawe] in town & Im put on his free list for the paper & am to write occasionally if I like.8 I of course sha’nt let it interfere with my work but I think it will be rather amusing than otherwise to write a little— They pay about £1 per article.

Yours affly | G H Darwin

Will you have sent me the wooden cone for putting on wicks to my reading lamp— have I got lamp scissors if so send them too

Very glad to hear about Allens—9 I suppose it will be snapped up for F. at once


George had written a letter to Nature to clarify a point made in an earlier letter to Nature by CD about the gradual disappearance of useless organs (see letter from G. H. Darwin to Nature, 4 October [1873] and nn. 2 and 3).
George moved from London to Trinity College, Cambridge, in October 1873 (ODNB).
Horace Darwin was an undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge (ODNB). George and Horace had both travelled to the south of France for their health in January 1873 (letter from G. H. Darwin to H. E. Litchfield, 25 January 1873 (DAR 210.2: 24)).
George was following the dietary advice of Andrew Clark (see letter from G. H. Darwin, [1 October 1873] and n. 2).
Gyp-room: a room where the gyps (college servants) keep table furniture, etc. (OED).
Henry Jackson.
Francis Galton’s letter is printed in Pearson 1914–30, 3b: 461. Dr C.: Andrew Clark. Galton may refer to a paper by John Goodman read in the physiology section of the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Bradford, which he attended (Pearson 1914–30, 3b: 461). Only an abstract of the paper was printed in the Proceedings (Goodman 1873); the abstract mentioned that corpuscles were produced from a combination of old or chilled albumen with water, but said nothing about digestibility. However, Goodman wrote about the nutritiousness of egg prepared in the way Galton describes in a letter in Chemical News, 23 May 1873, p. 255.
Henry Fisher Cox of the Examiner, a liberal Sunday newspaper published in London, had been an undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge (Athenæum, 28 January 1905, p. 113). George wrote six short articles for the Examiner in 1874, including comments on changes in the divorce laws, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and communism.
CD was planning to rent Frederick Allen’s house in Down for Francis Darwin (see letter to Frederick Allen’s agent, [October 1873]).


Athenæum. 1844. A few words by way of comment on Miss Martineau’s statement. No. 896 (28 December): 1198–9.

Goodman, John. 1873. White corpuscles, their nature and origin in the animal organism. Report of the 43d Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1873), Transactions of the sections, pp. 129–30.

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.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.

Pearson, Karl. 1914–30. The life, letters and labours of Francis Galton. 3 vols. in 4. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Has decided to send the letter ["Variation of organs", Nature 8 (1873): 505].

Writes of his poor health and problems of settling in at Trinity.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Howard Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Trinity College, Cambridge
Source of text
DAR 210.2: 30
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9088,” accessed on 16 September 2021,

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