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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. E. Darwin   6 January [1880]1


Jan 6th

My dear Father.

We are delighted to hear they have done you so great an honour at Turin, and I entirely agree with what was I fancy Horace’s notion that you should hand the proceeds over to the Laboratory at Naples.2 It would be a fine opportunity of doing the Laboratory a good turn & paying scientific Italy a compliment. Hen: & George3 also would like to see this done, at all events with a portion of the sum.

I think it would be very well worth while, and interesting as a case of heridity, if you would write a Memorandum to be inserted in your Autobiography shewing how little you think Old Erasmus’s work influenced you.4

I send you another box of “B” pens,5 which I hear have been in stock for 4 years, & so I hope they may be better. I tried to get at the makers

I got Bessy’s card6   I am afraid Uncle Jos. must be near the end.7

Sara8 sends her love she is glad to get home to rest after London

Your affect son | W. E Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Ercole Ricotti, 4 January 1880 (see n. 2, below).
CD had been awarded the Bressa prize by the Royal Academy of Sciences of Turin (see letter to Ercole Ricotti, 4 January 1880). Horace Darwin evidently suggested that CD give the prize money to the Zoological Station at Naples.
Henrietta Emma Litchfield and George Howard Darwin, William’s sister and brother.
CD had written ‘Recollections of the development of my mind and character’ in 1876; handwritten copies were made for his children. Samuel Butler had recently compared CD’s theory of evolution unfavourably with the theories of earlier writers, including Erasmus Darwin, hinting that CD had given insufficient credit to his predecessors (Butler 1879, pp. 196–7). For CD’s remarks on his grandfather’s evolutionary theory, see ‘Recollections’, p. 371; for his comments on Butler, see ibid., pp. 419–20.
‘B pen’: broad-nibbed steel pen.
Elizabeth Darwin’s note has not been found.
Josiah Wedgwood III died on 11 March 1880 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Sara Darwin, William’s wife.


Butler, Samuel. 1879. Evolution, old and new: or, the theories of Buffon, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, and Lamarck, as compared with that of Mr. Charles Darwin. London: Hardwicke and Bogue.

‘Recollections’: Recollections of the development of my mind and character. By Charles Darwin. In Evolutionary writings, edited by James A. Secord. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2008.


Delighted by honour CD has received from Turin. Agrees with Horace that the money ought to be given to the Zoological Station at Naples.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Erasmus Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Basset, Southampton
Source of text
Cornford Family Papers (DAR 275: 79)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12404F,” accessed on 25 June 2022,