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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   15 [October 1858]1



My dear William.

You sent us a fine long letter, & we were uncommonly glad to hear that you were established.2 You had a precious hard day’s work the first.— You are over the rooms which my cousin W. D. Fox had & in which I have spent many a pleasant hour.— I was in old court, middle stair-case, on right-hand on going into court, up one flight, right-hand door & capital rooms they were.3 If you find you do not like your rooms you could change another year.

I shd. like to know whether my old gyp, Impey is still alive; if so please see him, & say that I enquired after him.—4

I shall go up to London for a day on Tuesday & will then consult my Bankers about your affairs.— Did you pay for furniture; if not, ask whether the Cambridge tradesmen object to cheques on London Bankers: I shd. much like to know this, as guide whether you had better open account with Union Bank or whether have money placed at some Cambridge Bank.— I wonder whether you could think of anyone, to ask this—

I am very glad that you like King’s— it used to be a great pleasure to me.—5 You have to see the beautiful pictures in the Fitzwilliam.6 The backs of the Colleges (N.B not colledges as some people spell it) are indeed beautiful; I do not think there is anything in Oxford to equal them.—

Remember to let me know in good time before you run short of money & do, I earnestly beg you, keep accounts carefully, & which, as far as I am concerned, shall be quite private.—7

Etty is at Leith Hill but comes home next week.8 On the 25th I mean to go for week or 14 days to Moor Park, as my stomach of late has been horridly bad.9 Aunt Catherine comes here for fortnight next Monday.—10 Mammie & Lizzie are gone to lunch today with the Normans; as we declined a dinner invite, which the beautiful Miss Norman brought us.—11

Good Bye | My dear old man | Yours affect | C. Darwin

You were very wise to join the Union, I think.—12

If you can think of anything it is a very nice scheme giving Mrs. Wilson a little souvenir.—13


Dated by CD’s reference to Henrietta Emma Darwin (see n. 8, below) and by Emily Catherine Darwin’s proposed visit to Down (see n. 10, below).
William had taken up residence at Christ’s College, Cambridge.
CD and his cousin William Darwin Fox had been fellow undergraduates at Christ’s College, Cambridge. See Correspondence vol. 1.
Impey had been CD’s college servant at Christ’s College (see Correspondence vol. 1).
King’s College, Cambridge. CD probably refers particularly to King’s College Chapel, which he frequently visited during his undergraduate years to hear the choral performances.
The Fitzwilliam Museum was established in 1816 through a bequest of Richard Fitzwilliam. During the time of CD’s residence in Cambridge, the collection was housed in the old Free School in Free School Lane. The present museum building was completed in 1846. See Willis and Clark 1886, 3: 198–229.
William’s bills and accounts from his time as an undergraduate at Christ’s College, Cambridge, 1858–60, are in DAR 210.24.
Henrietta Darwin returned to Down from Leith Hill Place, the home of Caroline Sarah Wedgwood and Josiah Wedgwood III, on 20 October 1858 (Emma Darwin’s diary).
CD went to Moor Park hydropathic establishment on 25 October and returned to Down on 1 November 1858 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
Emily Catherine Darwin, CD’s younger sister, stayed at Down from 18 October to 2 November 1858 (Emma Darwin’s diary).
Probably the family of George Warde Norman who lived at the Rookery, Bromley Common, near Down (Freeman 1978, p. 216). In a letter written shortly before this one, Emma Darwin told William: ‘Yesterday Miss Norman & Fred. called bringing a note of invite to dinner or luncheon which I accepted for the latter & I mean to take Lizzy as little Mary is at home. Papa admires Miss N. very much, which I do not she smiles too constantly & a smile is never a sweet one that is constant’ (DAR 210.6).
The Union Society is the Cambridge University debating society. William had formerly beena member of the Rugby School debating society (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to W. E. Darwin,[17 February 1857]).
Mrs Wilson was the wife of William Greive Wilson, with whom William had lodged while he was being tutored for admission to Cambridge University. According to CD’s Account book (Down House MS), CD made a payment of £30 on 13 October 1858 to ‘Wilson for William’.


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

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978. Charles Darwin: a companion. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.


Writes to WED about his living arrangements at Christ’s College; reminisces about his own Cambridge days.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Provenance unknown
Physical description
ALS 6pp & CC 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2341,” accessed on 13 September 2023,

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