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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   [before 11 September 1857]1


know where Long Stratton is.— I have been much pleased at the way Mayor speaks of you.—2 It seems very odd not having you rushing up & down the House with your Photographs & very dirty hands.—3 Mamma has been today & yesterday in London to see Aunt Eliza, (who seems very weak & ill),4 but she comes back tonight. By the way I think, it not amiss that you did not take your Photography, as you wd. have had no time for school work; but it was very kind in Miss Mayor offering a room.— The foundations are laid out for new rooms, & on Monday the Bricklayers begin in earnest.— the room looks jolly & big, & I often feel dreadfully ashamed of my extravagance.5 How fond Lenny is of metaphors, which he uses so unconsciously, I heard him this morning in sand-walk wood shouting “here is a tree full of nuts—oh such a lot—they are all crushed overboard.”6

Good Bye my dear old Gulielmus

Your’ affect. Father | C. Darwin


The date of the letter comes from CD’s reference to the illness of ‘Aunt Eliza’ (see n. 4, below).
Robert Bickersteth Mayor was the mathematics master at Rugby and also William Erasmus Darwin’s housemaster (Rugby School register).
There are several entries in CD’s Account book (Down House MS) beginning in July 1857 for expenditures on photographic equipment for William Erasmus Darwin. William had returned to school on 20 August (Emma Darwin’s diary).
Sarah Elizabeth (Eliza) Wedgwood, Emma Darwin’s cousin, died in London on 11  September 1857.
In CD’s Account book (Down House MS), there is an entry on 6 September 1857 for ‘Laslett Repairs’ and one on 10 September for ‘Laslett Advanced for Dining Room’. Isaac Withers Laslett was the general builder and bricklayer in Down. A new dining-room and bedroom were being added to Down House (see letter to W. D. Fox, 30 October [1857]).
Leonard Darwin, then aged 7, was known in the family for his amusing sayings (see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix III).


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

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


Writes of the extension to Down House.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 17
Physical description
ALS 4pp inc

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1619,” accessed on 23 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6