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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Charles Crawley   [18 April 1872]1

Bryngwyn Rectory | Newport | Monmouthshire


Dear Mr Darwin

My father thinks that the yellow original will have more interest for you than a copy, so I enclose it though I am afraid it will involve the trouble of sending it back— He says that B means boarder at Butler’s, ‘b’ which graces your name & others, boarder at “Mother Bromfield’s” & j boarder at Jeudwine’s2

I enclose a translation of the Plautus & with my father’s very kind remembrances & my own | Believe me | yrs very truly | Charles Crawley

Plautus. Mil Glor. Act II sc 2. l 47–593

“Pray see yonder how he is standing his brow bent in anxious thought— He strikes his breast with his fingers. I suppose he intends to call out his wits from within— See now he turns away & leans with his left hand upon his thigh. with his right hand he is telling off the arguments on his fingers striking his right thigh   so laboriously do his gestures supply what he wants to do   now he’s snapped his fingers— he’s in a puzzle— He keeps changing his posture. See he shakes his head, he doesn’t like the plan he has hit upon   Whatever it is, he will not produce it in a crude state   he will send it out well digested   Now look he’s turned architect he has pillared his chin upon his hand   Bah! I certainly don’t like that style of architecture for I have heard that the ‘pillared chin’ is the characteristic of a barbarian poet who is never without two guards at his elbow the whole day long”

Notes say that the last three lines are an allusion to a Latin poet probably Naevius—4

also that putting the hand beneath the chin is a sign of grief

CD annotations

3.1 Plautus … 47–59] ‘See Blue Mark—Reflectionblue crayon
4.8 Now … hand 4.9] enclosed in square brackets pencil; ‘Plautus describes a man [after del ‘young’] deeply suffering and puzzled’ pencil
4.8 He’s turned architect] del pencil
4.8 he has … hand 4.9] underl blue crayon
Top of letter: ‘Reflexion & Meditation’ pencil


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Charles Crawley, 19 April [1872]. The Thursday preceding 19 April 1872 was 18 April.
William Crawley had evidently sent the list of pupils at Shrewsbury School and the boarding houses where they resided. Samuel Butler was headmaster and John Jeudwine was second master of the school when CD was a pupil there.
The quotation is a translation from the comic play Miles gloriosus (The braggart captain) by Plautus.
For more on the allusion by Plautus to the Roman poet Naevius, see Hammond et al., eds. 1970, p. 96.


His father sends a list (to be returned) of boarders at Shrewsbury School. Implies CD stayed at Mother Bromfield’s.

Sends Plautus quotation on expression.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Crawley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Newport, Gwent
Source of text
DAR 161: 238
Physical description
5pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8291,” accessed on 26 August 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20