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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   24 [February 1852]


Tuesday 24th.—

My dear old Willy

I have not for a very long time been more pleased than I was this morning at receiving your letter with the excellent news at your having got so good a place.1 We are both rejoiced at it, & give you our hearty congratulations. It is in every respect a very good thing, for you will be amongst an older set of Boys. Your letter was a very good one, & told us all that we liked to hear: it was well expressed & you must have taken some pains to write it. We are so very glad to hear that you are happy & comfortable; long may you keep so my dear Boy.— What a tremendous, awful, stunning, dreadful, terrible, bothering steeple-chase, you have run: I am astonished at your getting in the the 5th.. When next you write, explain how it came that you, a new Boy, & Erny,2 an old Boy, came to run together? What boys run, all those in your house? or in your Form? You must write to Mr Wharton:3 you had better begin with “My dear Sir” Tell him about your examination. End by saying that “I thank you & Mrs. Wharton for all the kindness, you have always done me. Believe me, Your’s truly obliged.”

Next Sunday when you write here, tell us who your master is, & what Books you are in; & give us a History of the last Friday. The more you can write, the better we shall be pleased. All the servants enquire about you; and so they did at Aunt Sarah’s.4 I was there the other day & saw the pretty little grey Hens. We are doing nothing particular; one day is like another: I go my morning walk & often think of you, & Georgy5 draws every day many Horse-guards; and Lizzie6 shivers & makes as many extraordinary grimaces as ever, & Lenny7 is as fat as ever. We shall probably come & see you during the first week in April.8 Have you seen anything of Cator?9 Farewell my dear Willy; may you go on as well as you have begun. All here send their best loves to you.

Your affectionate Father | C. Darwin

Give my Love to Erny

I was saying before Georgy that he did not much like reading, when he said “No, I hate reading, but I like money.”—10 I suppose he thought this made up for his not liking reading.—


William had entered Rugby School in early February (Rugby School register). He was 12 years old.
Ernest Hensleigh Wedgwood, third child of Hensleigh and Fanny Mackintosh Wedgwood, was also at Rugby School. He was a year older than William (Freeman 1978).
Henry James Wharton, vicar of Mitcham, Surrey, had been William’s tutor (letter to W. D. Fox, 7 March [1852]).
CD’s daughter Elizabeth, then 412 years old.
Leonard Darwin, 2 years old.
CD and Emma visited William at Rugby on 24 March (‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 5, Appendix I) and Emma Darwin’s diary).
Bertie Peter Cator of The Hall, Beckenham, Kent. He and William were in the same boarding house at Rugby School (Rugby School register).
This anecdote is also in the book in which CD, and later Emma, recorded their observations on the Darwin children. See Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix III, for a transcription of these observations.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978. Charles Darwin: a companion. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Rugby School register. 4 vols. Rugby: George Over. 1933–57.


Is glad WED has made a good beginning [at Rugby?].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 3
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1474,” accessed on 5 July 2022,

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