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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   [20 June 1858]1



My dear William

I have looked into Westwood, Stephens & Samuell & I can find no list of plants on which caterpillars feed.—2 A Lime Sphinx, a large grey moth & white But-terfly have come out in Box, but I do not know whether they belong to you or George.3

You must remember about money, enough for your Journey to Cambridge, expences there & journey to Down. Remember Post is two days here.—

You sent us a capital account of the Bishop of Oxford &c speaking.—4 Poor Etty is very unwell with bad sore throat, & I fear it is quincy.5 I am much bothered as I hate having people in the house, when anyone is ill— Ellen Tollet & R. Mackintosh are here.6

We entered two days ago into new Dining room, & it is charming.7 I am getting on very well about Bees’ cells & my theory, I feel pretty sure, will hold good.8 I have not the heart to write more. But I suppose you heard that the poor old horse has cut his knee so badly that he never is likely to be good for anything: so I am looking out for another light horse to run with your grey in double harness.

My dear W. | Yours affecte | C. Darwin

Listera ovata is pretty common.—


Dated by the reference to visitors in the house (see n. 6, below) and to Henrietta Emma Darwin being ill (see n. 5, below).
Westwood 1839–40, Stephens 1829, and Samouelle 1819 are entomological works in the Darwin Library–CUL.
William and George Howard Darwin were keen amateur Lepidopterists (see Correspondence vol. 5, letters to W. E. Darwin, [25 April 1855], and to G. R. Waterhouse, 8 July [1855]; and vol. 6, letter to K. M. Lyell, 26 January [1856]).
Samuel Wilberforce, bishop of Oxford, presented a motion in the House of Lords on 17 June 1858 in which he criticised the continuation of the slave trade by Spanish landowners in the West Indies. The motion was widely debated and reported in full in The Times, 18 June 1858, pp. 6, 8–9.
Emma Darwin’s diary records that Henrietta Darwin was taken ill on 18 June 1858. ‘Quinsy’ was a popular term for tonsilitis.
Emma Darwin’s diary records that Ellen Harriet Tollet, an old friend of the Wedgwood and Darwin families, and Robert Mackintosh, Frances Mackintosh Wedgwood’s brother, arrived at Down on 17 June 1858.
The new extension, consisting of a downstairs room and upstairs bedroom, was begun in September 1857 (Correspondence vol. 6, letters to W. E. Darwin, [before 11 September 1857] and 29 [October 1857]).
An entry in CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II) indicates that he had finished writing up his discussion of bees’ cells on 12 June 1858. In DAR 48 (ser. 2): 66–74, there is a long manuscript entitled ‘Last Sketch’. CD’s views on the construction of bees’ cells were ultimately given in Origin, pp. 224–35.


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

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Samouelle, George. 1819. The entomologist’s useful compendium; or, an introduction to the knowledge of British insects. London. [Vols. 1,7]

Stephens, James Francis. 1829a. A systematic catalogue of British insects: being an attempt to arrange all the hitherto discovered indigenous insects in accordance with their natural affinities. London: Baldwin and Cradock.

Westwood, John Obadiah. 1839–40. An introduction to the modern classification of insects; founded on the natural habits and corresponding organisation of the different families. 2 vols. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman.


Relates domestic affairs.

Thinks his bees’ cell theory will hold good.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 28
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2267,” accessed on 29 May 2023,

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