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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Lubbock   10 July [1861]1

2. Hesketh Crescent | Torquay

July 10th.

My dear Lubbock

I am heartily sorry to trouble you, but I am in a complete fix about the Southampton affair. Mr. Atherley2 has sent the articles of Partnership to my solicitors (Messrs. Rowland & Hacon 31 Fenchurch St)3 who say that Mr. A “has stated terms much favouring himself”: they urge me to consult Sir John Lubbock “on the fairness of the terms”, but I do not like to trouble him,4 but perhaps you will talk the case over with him. You will see pencil notes by my solicitor on the margin. I am very ignorant, but the articles strike me as drawn up as if to get my son as a mere locum tenens.5

My solicitor says “But what does appear to me to be the most important difficulty in the negociation is Mr Atherleys requirement of a reserved right to introduce his son into business. For your son to assent to this is tantamount to his agreeing to become the partner of an unknown person, who may be either a knave or an idiot (of course this is only a possible case). And the objection to this seems to be so great that I should myself on no account,—on no consideration,—enter into any such engagement”.— I should have thought that it was quite natural that Mr. A. should have had power of introducing his son; but I understood it was somehow to have been with the consent of my son.—6

To my utter ignorance it seems an absolutely fatal difficulty that my son, in case of Mr A.‘ death, say in course of 2 or 3 years, before my son can have made any connection, should be compelled to purchase Mr. A.’ share; for he would have in such case to close the Bank. I am perfectly conscious that I have no claim to ask you to consider this troublesome business; if you cannot spare time, I must put the affair entirely in my solicitor’s hands & unless he can get terms which seem to him fair, I must, I grieve to say, reject the offer, much to my son’s disappointment. I would come up & discuss the business with you, but it is an awful two days journey for me: or William would run up.7 To learn your general impression would be an immense advantage to us but pray remember that this affair, though to Sir John Lubbock or you a small concern, is of great importance to us.

Forgive me & believe me— Yours most truly | C. Darwin


The year is provided by the Darwins’ stay in Torquay (see n. 7, below) and by the reference to the negotiations concerning William Erasmus Darwin’s future position.
George Atherley was seeking a new partner to join him in the Southampton and Hampshire Bank, Southampton. See letters to W. E. Darwin, [25 May 1861], [June 1861], and 6 [June 1861].
David Rowland and William Mackmurdo Hacon.
John William Lubbock, John Lubbock’s father, was a partner in the London bank Robarts, Lubbock & Co.
Locum tenens: ‘One who holds office temporarily in place of the person to whom the office belongs’ (OED).
Atherley’s son was only eight years old (see letter to John Lubbock, 14 July [1861]).
According to Emma Darwin’s diary, William Darwin joined the family in Torquay on 9 July 1861. The Darwins had arrived a week earlier, on 2 July (see ‘Journal’; Appendix II).


OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


Seeks JL’s advice on the articles of partnership in the Southampton bank. CD and his solicitor fear they will be unfavourable to William.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 263: 43 (EH 88206487)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3205,” accessed on 21 June 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9