skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   [13 February 1859]1

Moor Park, Farnham | Surrey

Sunday Evening

My dear Gulielmus

Mamma has forwarded to me your nice note written about a week ago. I did not pay Wilson for your Books or for any extras whatever: so you must pay by P. order & add the amount to your Bill against me.2

I am delighted to hear that you mean “to come the excelsior” & that you like your tutor; who is he?3 Moor Park has not done me quite so much good as heretofore, but I hope it yet may: I cannot walk far & get to a kind of Barometer which I have here, namely Crooksbury Hill, when I can get to top of that all is splendid but half-way beats me as yet. Nor can I get up to my old standard in Billiards.4 There is a young Irishman here, who plays capitally & gives me lessons: he always is hitting his own ball on one side, but Dr. Lane says that if I take to that I shall never learn, so that it is hard work to settle between my masters. It is horrid that one cannot play on Sundays & makes the day very long for I like watching the others. The other day there was an advertisement of 11ft Thurston table at Dickensons for 17 guineas;5 I wonder whether that was the one you saw: if not it is disgusting that I did not advertise.6

I enclose note from Georgy to show that he has got over “schoolach”: I must write to him tomorrow.7

GoodBye | my dear old man | Yours affectly | C. Darwin


Dated by CD’s visit to Moor Park hydropathic establishment (see n. 4, below) and by the reference to billiard-tables (see nn. 5 and 6, below). According to Emma Darwin’s diary, William returned to Cambridge on 1 February to begin the Lent term.
CD had paid William Greive Wilson, William’s former tutor, in October 1858. William received a payment of £28 from CD on 2 May 1859 ‘for furniture & various expenses last year’ (CD’s Account book (Down House MS)).
William Mandell Gunson, renowned as a tutor for the mathematical tripos, was the tutor at Christ’s College. It is possible, however, that the reference here is to the assistant tutor at Christ’s, Joseph Wolstenholme, who also tutored in mathematics. See letter to W. E. Darwin, [5 May 1859] and n. 6.
CD stayed at Moor Park until 19 February 1859 (see ‘Journal’; Appendix II). For descriptions of some of his walks about Crooksbury Hill and Farnham heath, see Natural selection, pp. 570–1. CD enjoyed playing billiards at Moor Park during a previous visit (see letter to W. E. Darwin, [3 May 1858]).
John Thurston had introduced the slate billiard-table in 1836 (EB). Henry J. Dickinson was a billiard-table manufacturer at 84 Gray’s Inn Lane in London (Post Office London directory 1859).
CD had apparently already ordered a much more expensive billiard table for Down House (see letter to G. H. Darwin, 24 [February 1859]).
Emma Darwin’s diary records that ‘G. went to school’ on 2 February 1859. George Howard Darwin had entered Clapham Grammar School in 1856.


EB: The Encyclopædia Britannica. A dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information. 11th edition. 29 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1910–11.

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.

Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.


Discusses events at Moor Park and domestic matters.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Moor Park
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 35
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2414,” accessed on 22 September 2023,

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