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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   27 [February 1858]1



My dear William

The more I think of it, the more clear I am that you had better go to Christ. Coll. so I will write & enter you tomorrow.2 You are in error about knowing all the men of your college.—3 I do not think I knew even to bow to 15 men in college & was intimate with only 2 or 3 men.— Most of my friends belonged to Trinity & St. Johns & Emanuel.—4 I think there would be much more temptation in many ways to be idle at Trinity; & it is hard enough for the young to be industrious. You must see that when my fortune is divided amongst 8 of you, there cannot be enough for each to live comfortably & keep house, & those that do not work must be poor (though thank God with food enough) all their lives. You may rely on it, habits of industry at the University will make all the difference in your success in after life.— I enclose a note from Miss Mayor, which ought to please you.— Do you not think you had better write to Mr Mayor?—5

I sent off Harding this morning.—6

I am particularly obliged for your enquiries about Horses;7 you need not ask questions only keep your eyes open.— Please answer me, was the “Belgiman” a large massive Cart-Horse & was its colour chesnut?

Parslow is going to take the mare to see if a man will buy her this evening.—8 A grand new Pianoforte has just arrived.—9

I am not very brisk, so no more my dear old man | Your affect. Father | C. Darwin


The date is given by CD’s reference to entering William in Christ’s College, Cambridge (see n. 2, below) and to the new pianoforte (see n. 9, below).
William’s future had not been decided, although CD had sent him to a tutor in Norfolk with the expectation that he would be going to university in October (see letter to W. E. Darwin, 11 [February 1858], and Correspondence vol. 6, letters to W. E. Darwin, 21 [July 1857], 29 [October 1857], and [November 1857]). In his Account book (Down House MS), CD recorded a payment of £16 on 4 March 1858, made out to William Mandell Gunson, for ‘Entrance of William, Christ’s Coll.’; Gunson was tutor at Christ’s.
Nineteen of William’s contemporaries from Rugby School went on to Cambridge colleges (Rugby School register).
CD had been an undergraduate at Christ’s College, Cambridge from 1828 to 1831. See Correspondence, vol. 1.
Robert Bickersteth Mayor was William’s former housemaster and mathematics tutor at Rugby School.
Not identified.
CD was selling William’s grey mare (see letter to W. E. Darwin, 11 [February 1858]). Joseph Parslow was the Darwins’ butler.
In his Account book (Down House MS), CD recorded a payment of £75 5s., made on 31 March 1858, for a pianoforte purchased from Wornum & Sons, 16 Store Street, London. Emma Darwin’s diary indicates that it was chosen on 22 February.


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


CD intends to enter WED at Christ’s College.

Thanks him for inquiries made about horses.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 23
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2227,” accessed on 24 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7