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Darwin Correspondence Project

From E. A. Darwin   26 [November 1869 or later]1


Dear Charles

I was talking to Sylvester yesterday and he asked ‘has your nephew a great liking for the army, has he a fancy for it, ah well or it is quite a pity that he does not leave it & go to Cambridge   he’d be certain to become a fellow—2 I’nt that a compliment considering that the summum bonum3 of this life might be obtained—

His opponent he said (Cardew?) was a regular genius & might become anything—a nephew of Ld Westbury—4   he’ll have to go into F Galton’s list as well as Lenny who I see has already a niche in the temple of Fame5

Yours aff | E D


The date range is established by the reference to Galton 1869, published in mid-November 1869 (Publisher’s Circular (1869): 791); see n. 5, below.
James Joseph Sylvester was a professor at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, where Leonard Darwin was a student. Erasmus Darwin also refers to the University of Cambridge.
Summum bonum: the highest good.
Philip Cardew passed first into the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, 1868 (ODNB); Leonard Darwin passed second (see Correspondence vol. 16). Cardew’s mother was the second daughter of Richard Bethell, first Baron Westbury; Lord Westbury was lord chancellor from 1861 to 1865 (ODNB).
In Francis Galton’s Hereditary genius: an inquiry into its laws and consequences, Leonard was mentioned as coming second in the 1868 examination for the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich (Galton 1869, p. 209).


Has seen J. J. Sylvester again.

Letter details

Letter no.
Erasmus Alvey Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 105: B66
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6539,” accessed on 23 May 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17