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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Andrew Clark   [late June 1876]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

My dear Dr Clark

I am going to beg you to add to your many kindnesses to me and all family.2 My eldest son’s horse fell with him six weeks ago, and he had concussion of the brain. Sir J Paget who saw him a fortnight afterwards said the concussion must have been a severe one.3 He suffered afterwards in the usual way from sensitiveness to light, obstinate constipation &c. Paget expected that he would be able to travel in three weeks & return to his Bank work in three months;4 but his progress has been far slower. His digestion is now in a bad state, which together with other symptoms & some rheumatism makes me very anxious for your advice. He is of a gouty constitution   I may add that previous to his fall he was greatly overworked as Chairman of two philanthropic institutions.5 We find it extremely difficult to judge how far to avoid any excitement on the one hand, and yet not to make his life too monotonous.

My son fears the journey until early in next week, and I should be most grateful if you would give him an appointment as early as possible on Tuesday 4th, as he will sleep in London. If you cannot see him on Tuesday I hope you will do so on an early day.6

One of my sons will accompany him, & I should be glad if you could send us a message through him with your opinion & any verbal instructions.7

Believe me | My dear Dr Clark | Yours ever truly obliged | Charles Darwin


The date is established by the reference to William Erasmus Darwin’s accident on 10 May 1876 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Clark had been CD’s and George Howard Darwin’s physician since 1873 (see Correspondence vol. 21).
William saw James Paget on 30 May 1876 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) records, ‘Wm & boys went to London’ on 30 May.
William was involved with many local societies in Southampton but none has been identified of which he was chairman; he was later involved in the founding of a university college in Southampton in 1902 (ODNB). The university developed from the Hartley Institution, founded in 1862 (Correspondence vol. 11, letter from W. E. Darwin, 21 August [1863] and n. 7).
In the event, Clark saw William at Down on 8 July (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242); letter from Emma Darwin to Leonard Darwin, [after 2 July 1876] (DAR 239.23: 1.45).
Clark’s instructions to William are in DAR 210.9: 13.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Wishes to arrange for William Darwin to see AC. William has suffered a concussion.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Andrew Clark, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 202: 36
Physical description
LS(A) 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10553,” accessed on 31 May 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24