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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   25 [November 1856]1



My dear old Willy

First in regard to your clothes you had better get a warm waist-coat & Trowsers, black & white,—something that will do for half mourning & yet will do afterwards—2 If your dress Coat & waistcoat will not do, you must get others; but I thought they were in good state: you must judge for yourself.— I will write on separate paper to show Mr Mayor.3

The House has been in a wretched way lately; Mamma very bad; Etty, from catching cold has quite gone back; & I have had a bad cold. Georgy came home on Saturday & on Sunday he became bad & is not gone to school yet; but I suppose he will be fit tomorrow morning.4 Georgy’s Holidays are on 22d: are yours fixed for 18th.? Answer this.— On Saturday all the children went down for a farewell tea-party at Aunt Sarah’s, & Georgy staid till 1012 very jolly.— How you will miss that house.—5 The sale by Auction is to be this day fortnight, & about that day Hemmings & the maids will leave.—

The grey mare has been growing thin & we find she will not stand being turned out; & now she proves rather frisky, & whether she will not be too frisky for you I do not know; if so I will sell her again, & I daresay I shall not lose much money: she wants regular daily work, & then she is not at all too frisky.6

It is very jolly to think how soon you will be at home now.— Aunt Elizabeth will come here in a few days, & that will aid in making the House more cheerful.7 The new Railway to Beckenham will be open, we hear, on January 1st.—8 Now that we shall not have the use of9


Dated by CD’s reference to George Howard Darwin having returned home from school (see n. 4, below).
Sarah Elizabeth (Sarah) Wedgwood, CD’s aunt, had died on 6 November.
Robert Bickersteth Mayor was the mathematics master and William’s housemaster at Rugby School (Rugby School register).
Emma Darwin recorded in her diary that ‘George came from school’ on 22 November; ‘G. very poorly’ on 25 November; and that George returned to school on 27 November.
See letter to G. H. Darwin and W. E. Darwin, 13 [November 1856], n. 7.
CD had bought the grey mare in October. A payment of £30 was recorded in his Account book (Down House MS) on 6 October 1856.
Sarah Elizabeth (Elizabeth) Wedgwood, Emma Darwin’s older sister and CD’s cousin. Emma Darwin recorded in her diary that ‘Eliz came’ on 27 November 1856.
The Mid-Kent Railway. Beckenham was two miles closer to Down than the nearest station on the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway.
Probably a reference to the use of Sarah Wedgwood’s phaeton, which would now cease (see Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 105).


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

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


Writes about suitable mourning clothes and sale of house [Petleys, after death of Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood I].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 11
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2000,” accessed on 22 May 2022,

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