RECORD: Thomson, William. 1882.04.21; 1882.04.28. Letters to George Howard Darwin. CUL-DAR215.12[.1]. Edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 11.2021. RN1

NOTE: See record in the Darwin Online manuscript catalogue, enter its Identifier here. Reproduced with permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin.

In Thompson, Life of William Thomson, Baron Kelvin of Largs, p. 758, a visit to Down by Sir William and Lady Thomson "In the middle of May [1880]" was mentioned. The biographer also stated that "No record has been preserved of the occasion;" but the uncatalogued letter here is a  record of the visit to Down House. Unfortunately, the records in Emma Darwin's diary (CUL-DAR242[.44]) between 4 April to 15 May 1880 were not microfilmed. They must be missing or blank.



April 21/82



Dear Darwin

We were much grieved yesterday evening to hear of the loss you have suffered. We had been hoping to see you here next week and little thought of your home-coming being so soon turned


into sorrow. We had always hoped to see your father again and have another visit like the first one, which we always look back on as a great happiness.

I send you a copy of this morning's Glasgow Herald [CUL-DAR215.24b] containing an article which I think you will like to see.

We feel very much for your mother, and for yourself and your brothers, the more so that we could well understand how much you were devoted to your father.

The loss will be greatly felt through the whole


world and there will be many and lasting regrets for what we might have had from him if he remained some more years, but it is only those who have had the privilege of knowing him personally that can see how much more than the greatness known to all, there was to endear him to his friends.

My wife joins in kind regards and I remain

Yours very truly

William Thomson



April 28/82



Dear Darwin

I was very sorry not to be able to be with you in the Abbey on Wednesday. I had been summoned to London for law business for Monday and Tuesday and on receiving the invitation on Monday I immediately resolved to wait over Wednes-


day as it would have been a great satisfaction to me to join in the great demonstration of respect for your father. I was much disappointed when Tuesday's work in court came to it end, to be still in the witness box and to be absolutely obliged to continue my evidence at the beginning of Wednesday's meeting. I still hoped I might possibly get away in time, or else I would have written to you to say I could not come; but I was kept the whole day and only got through my examination yesterday morning.


We hope to see you soon next month in London or Cambridge. My wife joins in kind regards and in full sympathy for you all.


Believe me

Yours very truly

William Thomson

It is very satisfactory and most interesting to find how many now join and how universal the agreement is to do honour to your father, and how admirable the contrast to 18 years ago is.

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