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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   29 [October 1857]1



My dear William

I think clearly from what you say, we had better decide, notwithstanding whatever Mr Mayor may say, for you to go after Christmas Holidays to tutor to stay till October.2 Therefore soon have some talk with Mr Mayor, about what is customary in such cases. I presume I ought to write soon.— What with Christmas & summer vacation, you will not be with Tutor more than six months, I shd. think. Find out all you can, & let me hear & I will write to the Gentleman.—3

Your last letter was written splendidly & did one’s eyes good to see. Mamma is gone to London today to the Miss Tollets & returns tomorrow:4 she is gone to buy winter clothing. On Saturday Etty comes home for good & all.5 I have been so indifferent lately that I have some thoughts of going to Moor Park or Hartfield for a week.6 But I cant go just yet as Dr. Hooker comes here on Saturday next for a day or two.7

The Building goes on slowly:8 the scaffolding is down & outside plaistered & now they are plaistering inside, but the windows are not in yet.

Several of the children are not very brisk & I am poorly myself; so that the House is ready to sing miserere.

Farewell my dear old fellow: I am sorry that you cannot “grind” at present:—progress in life mainly depends on the great art of grinding; there can be no doubt of that.

Your affect | C. Darwin


The date is provided by the reference to Joseph Dalton Hooker’s anticipated visit and Henrietta Darwin’s return to Down House on Saturday, 31 October 1857 (see nn. 5 and 7, below).
CD wanted William to go to a tutor prior to entering Cambridge University, whereas Robert Bickersteth Mayor, William’s housemaster at Rugby School, had suggested that William remain at Rugby until October 1858 (see letter to W. E. Darwin, 21 [July 1857]).
Emma Darwin recorded a trip to London in her diary on 29 and 30 October 1857. Georgina Tollet and her sisters were some of Emma Darwin’s oldest friends, the Tollet family having been neighbours of the Wedgwoods in Staffordshire.
Henrietta Darwin returned from a ten-week residence at Moor Park, her second stay at Edward Wickstead Lane’s hydropathic establishment, on 31 October 1857 (Emma Darwin’s diary).
CD recorded in his ‘Journal’ (see Correspondence vol. 6, Appendix II) that he was at Moor Park from 5 to 12 November 1857.
Hooker arrived at Down House on the evening of 31 October (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [23 October 1857]).
See letter To William Darwin, [before 29 October 1857].


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


Discusses WED’s future education, the work on the extension, and other domestic affairs.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 19
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2147,” accessed on 1 June 2023,

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