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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Darwin   [11 or 12 November 1880]1

66, Hills Road, | Cambridge.

Dear Father

I am very sorry that I forgot the Gardener’s address.2 I hope you found it all right.

I am having a very nice time here, & have all but done the bramble paper—3

The drawing room is all upside down so we live in H’s working room and the dining room   I think it will make a nice house, & they seem very happy over it.4 They have at last finished Abney’s5 camera which is a blessing   Also Fulcher has come round to going in a peaceable manner & remains friends with Dew   H looks on it as certain that he shall join Dew but it is still a state secret6

The Greek question was lost, 185 to 145.7 The Senate house was crammed with MAs, & it was funny to see the mass of grey heads on the opposite side to us, it was all fogies & country parsons   You have to sit down to vote, & one saw people crouching down just to touch the edge of a seat till the Proctor had taken the vote.

Last night G dined here & seems pretty well   Tonight we all three dine at F Balfours—8

On Sat Jimmy & I dine at Downing in Hall with Crawley,9 & on Sunday in Trinity also in Hall so we have lots of dissipation—

I has turned muddy so it isnt worth while bicycling

I have got some stuff for spectacles— Horace says he asked Dew who answered at once but said he should like to have Michael’s authority and so asked him— It ∴ comes from Michael— I think his book is in shelf 3010

Tell Ubbadub I have been going in a tramway just like his tin one.11 I hope the officer has come home again | Your affect son | Frank Darwin


The date is established by the reference to the vote in the Senate House on Thursday 11 November 1880 (see n. 7, below).
Probably Gardeners’ Chronicle; CD had asked for a review copy of Movement in plants to be sent to the newspaper (see letter to R. F. Cooke, 20 October 1880).
Francis Darwin 1880b. The bramble studied by Francis was Rubus fruticosus, the common blackberry.
Francis was staying with Horace and Ida Darwin in Cambridge.
Robert Fulcher built scientific instruments with Albert George Dew-Smith; their partnership was dissolved in December 1880, and in January 1881 Dew-Smith entered into partnership with Horace Darwin in the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company (Cattermole and Wolfe 1987, pp. 12–22).
On 11 November 1880, the Senate rejected a proposal to modify the entrance requirements for proficiency in Greek and Latin (Cambridge University Reporter, 16 November 1880, p. 140). A memorial calling for the substitution of French or German or both for either or both of the classical languages had been submitted in December 1878, and a syndicate had been appointed to consider the issue in March 1879 (see ibid., 19 October 1880, pp. 48–9, and 2 November 1880, pp. 103–6).
Jimmy was a nickname for Horace Darwin. Charles Crawley was a friend of Francis’s. Formal dinners (‘halls’) of three or more courses are regularly held at Cambridge colleges.
Many of the instruments of the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company in its early years were made in consultation with Michael Foster for use in his physiological laboratory (see Cattermole and Wolfe 1987, pp. 9–10, 18–20). The book by Foster has not been identified.
Ubbadub was Bernard Darwin. Cambridge Street Tramways had opened a horse-drawn tramway service in Cambridge on 28 October 1880 (K. Turner 1996).


Canfield, Colbert A. 1866. On the habits of the prongbuck (Antilocapra americana), and the periodical shedding of its horns. [Read 27 February 1866.] Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (1866): 105–10.

Cattermole, Michael J. G. and Wolfe, Arthur F. 1987. Horace Darwin’s shop: a history of the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company 1878 to 1968. Bristol and Boston: Adam Hilger.

Darwin, Francis. 1880c. The theory of the growth of cuttings; illustrated by observations on the bramble, Rubus fruticosus. [Read 16 December 1880.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 18 (1881): 406–19.

Turner, Keith. 1996. Directory of British tramways: every passenger-carrying tramway, past and present. Sparkford: Patrick Stephens.


Sorry he forgot the gardener’s address. Having a very nice time in Cambridge, and is almost finished the bramble paper. Drawing room is upside down, so living in Horace’s working room and dining room. Greek question was lost in the Senate House. George dined there last night. Too muddy to bicycle. Has some stuff for spectacles.

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 274.1: 64
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12807F,” accessed on 8 June 2023,