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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   [30 October 1858]1

Moor Park


My dear William

Your last Sunday letter has been forwarded to me here. I am very glad to hear that you have begun Botany, in the manner in which you have.— I know Hooker thinks very highly of G. Henslow, in all ways.—2 It has always been a hobby of mine that nothing could be so improving as the practice of describing plants, teaching accurate observation (a faculty which I am sure is most slowly acquired) & conciseness & accuracy of style. I have always regretted that Henslow had not struck on this plan when I was there, that I might have practised.3 You will always be glad that you began this.— By the way, one evening I said to Franky, who is getting on very well in French, that he would be very glad of it, all his future life: & a few days after Lenny was dissecting under my microscope & he turned round very gravely & said “dont you think, papa, that I shall be very glad of this all my future life”.—4

I came here on last Monday & go home next Monday: it has rested me well, & done my stomach some good. There have been some pleasant & clever men here: one of them writes the Leading articles in the Times & so is a very great man.—5

I was glad to hear about poor old Impey, who must now be very old:6 I did not at all know that he was a reader. I have lately had splendid luck about striped Horses, for I have got introduced to a Col. Poole, who was employed by gov-ernment to examine horses in a part of India, where most are striped & he tells me that 2 & even 3 shoulder stripes are common there;7 & your case8


The only Saturday during CD’s visit to Moor Park hydropathic establishment in the period from 25 October to 1 November 1858.
George Henslow, son of John Stevens Henslow, was Joseph Dalton Hooker’s brother-in-law. For Hooker’s opinion of him, see Correspondence vol. 6, letter from J. D. Hooker, [27] June 1857, and letter to J. D. Hooker, 1 July [1857]. George Henslow graduated in 1858 from Christ’s College, Cambridge with a first-class degree in the natural sciences tripos.
CD had attended J. S. Henslow’s botanical lectures when he was an undergraduate at Cambridge (see Correspondence vol. 1, letters to Caroline Darwin, [28 April 1831], and to W. D. Fox, [11 May 1831]). It was only later, however, that Henslow emphasised in his syllabus the practice of describing plants, supplying illustrations for the purpose. See Henslow 1853.
Francis Darwin, aged 10, and Leonard Darwin, aged 8.
Possibly Thomas Mozley, who wrote leading articles for The Times ‘almost daily’ for many years (DNB). However, CD may have been confused. In a letter to William written early in November 1858, Emma Darwin mentioned that CD had returned from Moor Park feeling ‘very brisk’. ‘It is very pleasant for him having such an agreeable house with pleasant conversation to go to besides the good it does him. He was much pleased with Mr Savage the Editor of the Examiner.’ (DAR 210.6). Marmion W. Savage was editor of the Examiner from 1856 to 1859 (DNB).
CD’s college servant during his undergraduate years, 1828–31. See letter to W. E. Darwin, 15 [October 1858].
William had described the stripes on a Belgian cart-horse for CD earlier in the year (see letters to W. E. Darwin, 11 [February 1858], 27 [February 1858], and [26 May 1858].


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

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Henslow, John Stevens. 1853. Syllabus of lectures on botany: with an appendix, containing copious demonstrations of fourteen common plants for the illustration of terms. Cambridge.


Glad WED has begun under George Henslow in the way that he has. CD wishes he had had such practice under J. S. Henslow.

Has had luck in his search for striped horses.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Moor Park
Source of text
DAR 92: A29–30
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2350,” accessed on 4 June 2023,

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