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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   [3 May 1858]1

[Moor Park]


My dear William

I have just received your nice note & the Hexagon for which very many thanks, but I hope & think I shall not have to use it, as I had intended, which was delicately to hint to one of the greatest mathematicians that he had made a blunder in his geometry, & sure enough there came a letter yesterday wholly altering what he had previously told me, & which makes my Bees cell go all the better.2 Also thanks about Stripes.3

I am sorry to hear about Mr Wilson’s absence.— You did not send Spark’s bill, if you cannot find, write to him & tell him it is lost & ask for another copy & send it me.—4

You will, I think, hereafter like Campbell’s Lives of Chancellors & it is a capital Book, for you my dear future Lord Chancellor of England to read.—5

I will take your letter home for Mamma to read & ask about paper.—6

I am glad to hear that you are doing a bit of Botany: I suspect you require a dissecting microscope & some practice in dissection, but all about the structure of ovules, is very difficult. Nevertheless with patience you will surely get on. It is a pleasure just to know most of the British plants, as I find all agree, who do know ever so little.—

I have been playing a good deal at Billiards, & have lately got up to my play & made some splendid strokes!

I have at last got up some strength & taken two good long walks in this charming country.

My dear old fellow | Yours | C. D.


The final Monday of CD’s stay at Moor Park. CD returned to Down on 4 May 1858 (‘Journal’; Appendix II). The date is confirmed by CD’s reference to ‘Spark’s bill’ (see n. 4, below).
CD refers to William Hallowes Miller, professor of mineralogy at Cambridge University, whom he had consulted about the geometry of bees’ cells (see letter to W. H. Miller, [15 April 1858]). The letter to which CD refers has not been found, but see the letter from W. H. Miller, [14 May 1858]. In CD’s notes relating to bees’ cells (DAR 48 (ser. 2): 1), there is a cut-out figure which, when folded, would give a hexagonal prism resembling a bee’s cell. This is possibly the ‘hexagon’ made by William Darwin. Across the figure CD wrote in pencil: ‘Miller can give me better Diagram’.
See letters to W. E. Darwin, 11 [February 1858] and 27 [February 1858], in which CD asked William to look out for horses with stripes on their backs. See also letter to W. E. Darwin, [26 April 1858].
William Greive Wilson was William Darwin’s tutor. An entry in CD’s Account book (Down House MS), dated 8 May 1858, records a payment of £4 11s. 6d. to ‘Sparks (William’s books)’.
Campbell 1845–7. CD had read parts of the work (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 119: 21a,119: 22b). For CD’s intention that his son should become a barrister, see Correspondence vol. 6, letters to W. E. Darwin, [17 February 1857], and to Syms Covington, 22 February 1857.
CD returned to Down on 4 May 1858 (‘Journal’; Appendix II). He was probably referring to the wallpaper for the new rooms at Down (see letter to W. E. Darwin, [26 April 1858]).


Campbell, John. 1845–7. The lives of the lord chancellors and keepers of the great seal of England from the earliest times till the reign of King George IV. 7 vols. London.

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


Discusses bees’ cells

and WED’s botanical interests.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Moor Park
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 25
Physical description
ALS 5pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2268,” accessed on 18 May 2024,

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