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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Erasmus Darwin1   3 October [1851]


Friday. Octr. 3d.

My dear old Willy

I have been intending for some time to write to you, but had not much to say, & that is pretty nearly the case at present.— Mamma was to have started for Shrewsbury & Barlaston2 on Saturday, but the Baby3 is not quite well, so she has put it off for a week. Georgy is terribly disappointed, for he now as much likes going from home, as he formerly did not care about it. All day long Georgy is drawing ships or soldiers, more especially drummers, whom he will talk about as long as anyone will listen to him.—4

Henry Hemmings & Martha5 went yesterday to the Great Exhibition & found it immensely full. Thank goodness, we have got rid of all the workmen, & the stairs look very well.6 Yesterday we gathered the Pears off one of the trees on the wall, & there were 93 splendid fellows; I think & hope these will not all be ripe & eaten up before your return.7 I am reading a Book on Chemistry, called “Familiar Letters on Chemistry”,8 & this makes me often think of you in the evenings. It will be dreadful dirty walking for us in the morning, next holidays.—

I hope that you will think sometimes about what we talked about one of the last mornings.— You will surely find that the greatest pleasure in life is in being beloved; & this depends almost more on pleasant manners, than on being kind with grave & gruff manners. You are almost always kind & only want the more easily acquired external appearance. Depend upon it, that the only way to acquire pleasant manners is to try to please everybody you come near, your school-fellows, servants & everyone. Do, my own dear Boy, sometimes think over this, for you have plenty of sense & observation.

Love from Mamma. | Your’s affectionately. | C. Darwin


CD’s oldest son, who had returned to study under Henry James Wharton in Mitcham, Surrey, on 16 September (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Home of Emma’s brother, Francis (Frank) Wedgwood, near the Wedgwood pottery works at Etruria, Staffordshire.
Horace Darwin, born 13 May 1851.
George Howard Darwin, CD’s second son, then six years old. Some of George’s drawings of military men are preserved in DAR 185.
Henry Hemmings and Martha Morrey were servants of Sarah Elizabeth (Sarah) Wedgwood, who lived at Petleys, Down. According to Henrietta Litchfield, they were ‘dear friends’ of the Darwin children (Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 106).
CD’s Account book (Down House MS) shows payments on 27 October 1851 to Isaac Withers Laslett and John Lewis, bricklayer and carpenter, respectively, for ‘alterations in top Rooms & Stairs’ of Down House.
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), William returned home for a visit on 8 November.
Liebig 1851. CD recorded having finished reading this work on 15 October 1851 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 119: 23b).


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

Emma Darwin (1915): Emma Darwin: a century of family letters, 1792–1896. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1915.

Liebig, Justus von. 1851. Familiar letters on chemistry, in its relations to physiology, dietetics, agriculture, commerce, and political economy. 3d ed. London.


Discusses domestic affairs and gives some advice on manners.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 2
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1456,” accessed on 23 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5