RECORD: Romanes, George John. 1882.04.22. Letter to Francis Darwin. CUL-DAR215.8e. Edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 11.2021. Corrections by Anne Secord 4.2022. RN2

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.

"Romanes, George John, 1848-94. Canadian-born British biologist and zoologist who also wrote on psychology and physiology. R worked at University College London and at Oxford. R coined the term Neo-Darwinism. Biography: Ethel Romanes (wife) 1896. Joel S. Schwarz, Darwin's disciple; George John Romanes, 2010. R was the most important of CD's younger biological friends, frequent correspondent and more than once at Down House. Francis Darwin records a conversation with R telling of a discussion with CD about recognition of natural beauty and its relation to natural selection. LL3:54. 1874 Dec. 7 CD would like to meet R and asks to lunch. CCD22. 1874 CD first met R in London. Romanes 1896, p. 14. 1874 CD to R, "How glad I am that you are so young". 1874 CD introduces R to Hooker. CCD22. 1874 R to CD, on disuse of organs. 1877 CD to R, pleased to propose R for Royal Society. CCD25. 1877 CD to R, astonished that R has not been elected. CCD25. 1878 CD to R, "Frank says you ought to keep an idiot, a deaf mute, a monkey, and a baby in your house", i.e. to study psychology. 1879 FRS. 1879 Married Ethel Duncan. 5 sons, 1 daughter. 1880 Dec. 17 "I have now got a monkey. Sclater let me choose one from the Zoo". 1881 Apr. CD to R, about letter from Frances Cobbe on vivisection in The Times. LL3:206. See also CD's letter on vivisection to Frithiof Holmgren published in The Times of Apr. 18, reproduced in LL3:207-8. 1882 R was on "Personal Friends invited" list for CD's funeral. 1882 Animal intelligence, (F1416), contains many extracts from CD's notes. 1883 Mental evolution in animals, London (F1434), contains CD's essay on instinct, pp. 355-84. 1888-91 Fullerian Prof. Physiology Royal Institution. 1890 Moved to Oxford, partly for health reasons. 1892 Founded the Romanes Lectures, held at Oxford. 1892-97 Darwin and after Darwin, 3 vols. 1893 An examination of Weismannism. 1875-81 correspondence and recollection of CD in Life and letters of George John Romanes, 1896. (F2111)." (Paul van Helvert & John van Wyhe, Darwin: A Companion, 2021.)




April 22/82

My dear Darwin,

I did not write because I thought it might trouble you, but I sent some flowers yesterday which did not require acknowledgement.

Even you I do not think can know all that this death means to me. I have long dreaded the time, & now that it has come it is worse than I could anticipate. Even the death of my own father – though I loved him deeply & though


it was more sudden – did not leave a desolation so terrible. Half the interest of my life seems to have gone when I cannot look forward any more to his dear voice of welcome or to the letters that were my greatest happiness.

For now there is no one to venerate, no one to work for or to think about while working. I always feared that I was leaning on these feelings too much, but I could not try to prevent it, & so at last I am left with a loneliness that never can be filledAnd when I think how grand & generous his kindness was to me grief is no word for my loss.

But I know that your grief is greater than mine, & that, like him, I should try to think of others before myself. And I do feel for you all very much indeed. But although I cannot endure to picture your house or your house-hold as the scene of such as death, I can derive some consolation from the thought that he died as few men in the history of the world have died – knowing that he had finished a gigantic work, seeing how that work has transformed the thoughts of man-kind, & foreseeing that his name


must endure to the end of time as among the very greatest of the human race. Very very rare is such consolation as this in a house of mourning.

I look forward to hearing more about the end when we meet. I feel it very kind of you to have written me so soon, & I hope you will convey our very sincere sympathy to Mrs. Darwin & the other members of your family.

Yours ever sincerely,

Geo. J. Romanes

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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

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