Writes of domestic matters
and asks WED to observe cart-horses for traces of dark stripes on spine and cross-stripes on shoulder.
My dear William
You have been very good about writing, for we like so much to hear all about the place & your companions &c.— I suppose the country is flat & ugly; so I fancy all Norfolk is, but I never entered the county.— It looks here, as if you would have skating, which would be a good job.—
You must know that I have determined to sell the grey mare;
for the other day she started so violently in the tax-cart & ran up a bank that
she very nearly upset the cart.— I shall try M
As Norfolk is near Suffolk, look out for me, whether there are near you any Suffolk Punches or large Cart-Horses of a Chesnut colour; if so please observe whether they have a dark stripe or band down the spine to root of tail; also for mere chance, whether any trace of a cross stripe on the shoulder, where the Donkey has, & any cross-stripes on the legs.
Next Tuesday we all go up to London for a few days; the little Boys, however, not coming up till Wednesday & we all stay till Saturday; Mamma & Etty, however, a few days longer.— The little chaps are very full of the Conjurer, Astley & all. Thank goodness Lenny has been quite hearty of late.
Lewis has very nearly finished everything in the new rooms, & I must have the
Surveyor down & pay for all.— We have sent
the Barberini vase up to London by Uncle Harry, who was here
on Saturday & Sunday, to see whether we can sell it
for a good price; & if we can, will it not be good for buying some nice
Water-Colour drawings & framed with a good margin, & some of the best in
the old drawing-room likewise new framed, will make the new Drawing Room look
stunning.— After you have been some little time at M
My dear old fellow | Yours affect | C. Darwin
- f1 2215.f1Dated by the reference to William's having arrived at his tutor's residence in Norfolk (see n. 2, below). On 2 February 1857, Emma Darwin noted in her diary that ‘W
mwent to tutors’.
- f2 2215.f2CD had engaged William Greive Wilson, rector of Forncett St Peter's, near Long Stratton, Norfolk, to tutor William in preparation for his going up to Cambridge in October 1858.
- f3 2215.f3The grey mare had been purchased in October 1856, primarily for William to ride (Correspondence vol. 6, letter to W. E. Darwin, 25 [November 1856]). CD had previously told William of his plans to sell the horse (ibid., letter to W. E. Darwin, [November 1857]).
- f4 2215.f4George Edwards, from whom the grey mare had been purchased, was a horse breeder who lived in Bromley Common, close to Down. He is listed in CD's Address book (Down House MS).
- f5 2215.f5Leonard Darwin was known among the family for his amusing sayings (see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix III).
- f6 2215.f6CD had long collected data on the colouring of horses and had discussed the topic in the chapter of his species book on ‘Laws of variation’, completed in September 1857 (Natural selection, pp. 328–32). See also Correspondence vol. 6, especially letter to Gardeners' Chronicle, [before 13 June 1857].
- f7 2215.f7Emma Darwin's diary records that she ‘came to London’ on 16 February 1857. Henrietta Emma Darwin accompanied her, and the younger children came the following day. Emma returned to Down on 25 February.
- f8 2215.f8Astley's Royal Amphitheatre was an equestrian theatre in London founded by Philip Astley. CD had once taken his young cousins to see the performance (Correspondence vol. 2, letter to Susan Darwin, [26 April 1838]).
- f9 2215.f9John Lewis was the carpenter in Down village. CD was having two new rooms added to Down House (see Correspondence vol. 6, letters to W. E. Darwin, [before 11 September 1857] and 29 [October 1857], and letter to W. D. Fox, 30 October ). Although the Darwins initially intended the new downstairs room to be a dining-room, they finally used it as the drawing-room.
- f10 2215.f10Also known as the Portland vase, the Barberini vase was a Wedgwood copy of the famous antique Roman vase purchased by the Duchess of Portland in 1784. The particular vase mentioned by CD was probably one of two owned by the family and may have been the one he acquired in 1844 following the death of Emma Darwin's father Josiah Wedgwood II (see Correspondence vol. 3, letter to Susan Darwin, [27 November 1844?]). The vase was sold for £75 on 3 April 1858 (CD's Account book (Down House MS)). Another Barberini vase, which had come to CD through his father Robert Waring Darwin, was given by CD to the Museum of Practical Geology later in his life (Meteyard 1875, pp. 302–5).
- f11 2215.f11Henry Allen (Harry) Wedgwood was Emma Darwin's brother.