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Darwin Correspondence Project

To George Howard Darwin   24 [February 1859]1


Thursday 24th

My dear George

You must send this letter on to William. Christ College, Cambridge— The men started from London at 2 A.M. & arrived here this morning at breakfast time & by dinner time the Billiard Table was fixed up! It looks very very nice & smart, & seems very good.2 The little Boys have been incessantly knocking about the Balls, but do not succeed in doing much.—3 They find it far more difficult than they expected.

First, they fixed the 8 legs to a frame work like this; diagram they then levelled the frame work, & they brought lots of pieces of circular wood, & slipped them under the legs till all were level. They had a screwing machine by which they slowly lifted up the table first on one side & then on the other till all sides were level. Then they put 4 great slabs of very smooth slate on the frame-work: then slates fitted by their edges to each other by short, thick brass pins. They also screwed the slates to the frame work. They then levelled again. Then they put on the cloth & tacked it (& pulled it all round) to slips of wood which are fastened on the under edges of the slates. Then they put on the cushions; they are screwed on; & put the pockets on, which are also screwed on. They then with bent needle stictched the line of balk & stuck bits of sticking plaister for the spots.— All the extra things, as marking boards, rests &c &c seems very nice; but I do not very much like the cues, perhaps because they are new.— Altogether everything is very nice; but the Table certainly looks rather small. I heartily wish you & Willy were here to play with me.— The whole affair has only cost £53 s18.04

Yours very affecty | C. Darwin


Dated by an entry in CD’s Account book on 24 February 1859 recording payment for a new billiard-table (see n. 2, below).
CD ordered the table from Hopkins and Stephens, a firm of manufacturers in Covent Garden, London. It cost £53 18s. CD mistakenly recorded the suppliers’ names as Hopkins and Evans in his Account book (Down House MS).
Francis Darwin was 10 years old; Leonard Darwin was 9; Horace Darwin was 8.
According to Francis Darwin, CD used the proceeds of the sale of the Wedgwood slate reliefs (see letter to Mr Burn?, 13 August [1858]) and of his father’s gold watch to buy the table (DAR 140: 75).


Writes about their new billiard table.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Howard Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 37
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2420,” accessed on 25 September 2023,

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