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Darwin Correspondence Project

To George Varenne Reed   1 July [1859]1


July 1st

My dear Sir

By hunting up dates I find that Franky attended you for a week after the last quarter & recommenced on April 4th. so that I think last Monday June 26th would make up the Quarter: & I have now the pleasure of enclosing a draft for the amount, which I hope is all correct.—2

My third Boy Leonard is most ambitious & desirous of attending with Franky.— He is not stupid, I think, but slow & so very backward that it would be quite useless sending him except for the purpose of stimulating his progress.— His health, moreover, is not good.— Now I shd be much obliged if you would candidly tell me, whether it would make any difference to you, if we were to try & send him once a week to you with Franky, but not to take up more of your time than at present. It is not improbable that you may find him so backward that it would be of no use sending him; but I think, especially as he wishes it so much, it might stimulate his progress.— If he were to attend regularly twice a week I shd. be glad to hear what terms would suit your views.— Would you kindly consider this & let me have an answer at your leisure.—3 Franky will probably go to school next midsummer.—4

With my best thanks | My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

P.S. | Can you give me an offset or cutting of your carrion-smelling Arum.—5 I find I cannot purchase it at Cattell’s & I want one for an experiment.6


The year is given by CD’s record of the fees mentioned in the letter in his Account book (see n. 2, below).
An entry dated 1 July 1859 in CD’s Account book (Down House MS) records a sum of £10 10s. paid to Reed, who had begun tutoring Francis Darwin in October 1858.
From entries in CD’s Account books (Down House MS), it seems that Leonard Darwin may not have gone regularly to Reed for tutoring until 1860. The payments to Reed for each quarter remained at the usual level of £10 10s. until March 1860, when CD recorded the sum of £13 2s. 6d. The date given in J. R. Moore 1977 for Leonard starting with Reed is incorrect.
Francis Darwin entered Clapham Grammar School in August 1860 (Emma Darwin (1904) 2: 192).
CD conducted experiments on the relationship of insects to Arum maculatum as early as the spring of 1842. He was interested in establishing that flies were able to escape from the filaments in the spathes and thus carry pollen to other flowers. See Cross fertilisation, p. 417–18.
John Cattell was a nurseryman in Westerham, Kent. The experiment was not recorded in CD’s Experimental book (DAR 157a).


Emma Darwin (1904): Emma Darwin, wife of Charles Darwin. A century of family letters. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. Cambridge: privately printed by Cambridge University Press. 1904.

Moore, James Richard. 1977. On the education of Darwin’s sons: the correspondence between Charles Darwin and the Reverend G. V. Reed, 1857–1864. Notes and Records of the Royal Society 32 (1977–8): 51–70.


Sends payment for Francis Darwin’s tutoring. Inquires about possible arrangements for his son Leonard, who is slow and not well, to attend with Francis.

Asks whether he can have a cutting of GVR’s carrion-smelling Arum which he needs for an experiment.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Varenne Reed
Sent from
Source of text
Buckinghamshire Record Office (D 22/39/2)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2474,” accessed on 20 July 2024,

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