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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. H. Darwin   5 December 1874

Trin. Coll.

Sat. Dec. 5. 74

My dear Father,

I send you the finale of my cousin paper— do you think it will do. I have summed up the result of my own job at the end of the last part. Norman is copying it, & so I shall have polished it off soon—thank goodness. I shall then write to Farr & offer it to him for Statist. Soc.1

Have you seen some very curious papers by Prof. A. Mayer of the U.S on audition of insects, if not I will bring home the Phil. Mag. with it. He is going on to the Hemiptera & Homop.2

The cousin business & polit. Econ. have been keeping me away from the Squashy Solids,3 but I’ve read one long paper & have now a vol. of 400 or 500 pp. of quarto to read. It’s before the French Instit. so I do’nt know what I shall do in Xmas Vac.

I’ve sent off my defence of Jevons, (wh. he read & approved) to Fortnightly, but fear it may be too dull for them.4

Venn5 is picking my polit. Econ. to pieces now, but I’ve not heard what he has to say yet. He’s perhaps better than Sidgwick6 as being mathematical. I shall be much disappted if Contemp. thinks it too stiff as I think it worth something.7 At Glaisher’s request I’m just sending a little Mathematical paper to ‘the Messenger’ on a mechanical contrivance for finding an important function.8 I found it out for a problem at the lakes,9 but didnt think it worth anything, but G. rather likes it— I’ve had the thing made in the rough, but I don’t supp. anyone wd. ever use it—but it’s the idea that’s curious.

Jevons is coming today & he & Mrs.10 dine with me on Tuesd. Fawcett is coming & so wd. Mrs. F. but that she’s away.11 So Mrs J. will be my only lady. The rest are Sidgwick, Venn (a friend of Eleanor Dicey’s),12 Colvin13 & a friend of his. So we shall be quite small.

I’ve been very seedy for 4 or 5 days, & not in my usual way quite, & I do’nt know what to make of it unless it’s another cold coming on. Whether its these violent changes of temperature, I dont know,—but nothing agrees with me. I’ve been playing tennis every day all the same. If I’m very bad on Tuesd. I must write & put it off, but I fear it’ll be a grind, tho’ I must try to get thro’ without it somehow

Lady Rayleigh, asked me to visit them in Dec. when she was here the other day, in coming thro’ from Scotland;14 but I’ve not heard when it’ll be yet, but I expect I shall go straight from here, & prob. not come home till Xmas. I hope yr. London visit is suiting you, & that mother & Uncle R. are both pretty fair.15

I’ve read hardly anything this term, as work of one sort or another has filled almost the whole time; but much of it has been merely tiresome e.g the cousins.

Mayer finds the fibres of a mosquito’s antennæ m. more sensitive to one note than to any other;16 I suspect it is the note of their own humming, I’m going to try to find out— If it is it’ll be a curious case of Sexual Selection

Yr affec son | G H Darwin


George’s paper on cousin marriage (G. H. Darwin 1875a) was read before the Statistical Society of London in March 1875 and published in their Journal. William Farr was an honorary vice-president of the Statistical Society of London (Journal of the Statistical Society of London 37 (1874)), and Ebenezer Norman, the Down schoolmaster, was employed as a copyist by CD.
Alfred Marshall Mayer discussed the auditory apparatus of the Culex mosquito on pp. 371–85 of his series ‘Researches in acoustics.—No. V’ (Mayer 1874–5), and on p. 385 announced his intention of experimenting on the Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets) and Hemiptera (true bugs) in the spring. (Homoptera is the now invalid order of hoppers and cicadas, currently subsumed within the Hemiptera.) This part of the series appeared in the November 1874 issue of Philosophical Magazine; the other parts were not concerned with insects, nor were his later papers.
Polit. Econ: possibly a reference to an unpublished paper; see n. 7, below. Squashy solids: probably a reference to George’s work on the mathematics of viscous liquid spheroids (see, for example, G. H. Darwin 1878).
George’s defence of William Stanley Jevons’s Theory of political economy (Jevons 1871) appeared in the Fortnightly Review in February 1875 (G. H. Darwin 1875d).
John Venn.
Henry Sidgwick.
George had suggested using a paper he was writing on political economy as a lecture to the Royal Institution of Great Britain (letter from G. H. Darwin, 18 October 1874), and had it copied by Norman in early November (letter from G. H. Darwin, [8 November 1874]. He refers to the Contemporary Review. No paper by George on political economy, other than his defence of Jevons in the Fortnightly Review (see n. 4, above), has been identified.
George’s paper ‘On a mechanical representation of the second elliptic integral’ appeared in Messenger of Mathematics (G. H. Darwin 1875e). George also refers to James Whitbread Lee Glaisher.
George spent some time in the Lake District in September 1874 (letter from Emma Darwin to H. E. Litchfield, 16 September [1874] (DAR 219.9: 117)).
Harriet Ann Jevons.
Henry and Millicent Garrett Fawcett.
Elinor Mary Dicey.
Sidney Colvin.
John William and Evelyn Georgiana Mary Strutt, Lord and Lady Rayleigh, had an estate at Terling Place in Essex (ODNB).
CD and Emma Darwin were in London from 3 to 12 December 1874 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). George also refers to Erasmus Alvey Darwin.
See n. 2, above, and Mayer 1874–5, pp. 377–8.


Jevons, William Stanley. 1871. The theory of political economy. London and New York: Macmillan.

Mayer, Alfred Marshall. 1874–5. Researches in acoustics.—No. V. Philosophical Magazine 4th ser. 48 (1874): 266–274, 371–85, 445–52; (1875) 513–25.

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.


Has finished the "cousin paper" and will offer it to W. Farr for the Statistical Society.

Describes other work in progress.

Has CD heard of A. M. Mayer’s curious work on audition of insects [Am. J. Sci. 3d ser. 8 (1874): 89–103?]

Letter details

Letter no.
George Howard Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Trinity College, Cambridge
Source of text
DAR 210.2: 45
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9743,” accessed on 27 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22