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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Horace Darwin   [15 December 1871]

6. Q. Anne St. W.

Friday Morning 8o.30’ A.M.

My dear Horace.

We are so rejoiced, for we have just had a card from that good George in Cambridge, saying that you are all right & safe through the accursed Little Go.—1 I am so glad, & now you can follow the bent of your talents & work as hard at Mathematicks & science, as your health will permit.2

I have been speculating last night what makes a man a discoverer of undiscovered things, & a most perplexing problem it is.— Many men who are very clever,—much cleverer than discoverers,—never originate anything. As far as I can conjecture, the art consists in habitually searching for the causes or meaning of everything which occurs. This implies sharp observation & requires as much knowledge as possible of the subjects investigated. But why I write all this now, I hardly know,—except out of the fullness of my heart; for I do rejoice heartily that you have passed this Charybdis—

Your affectionate Father | C. Darwin


Little-go: ‘the popular name … for the first examination for the degree of B.A., officially called … “The Previous Examination” at Cambridge’ (OED). The examination was held on 5 December 1871 and the results posted on 14 December (The Times, 15 December 1871, p. 5). George Howard Darwin was a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, where Horace was a student.
Horace studied for the Mathematical Tripos, an honours examination based on mathematics and mathematical physics.


Congratulates Horace on passing his "Little Go".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Horace Darwin
Sent from
London, Queen Anne St, 6
Source of text
DAR 185: 2
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8107,” accessed on 17 July 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19