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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   12 October [1861]1


Oct 12th

My dear William

I am not going to write you a decent note, for I am half-dead with working with Mr Sowerby at the Orchid drawings.2 It has been the devil’s own job. But I am anxious to hear whether you have signed the Articles of Partnership.3 I rather fear that we were not very civil to Mr Hacon in not writing to him & asking him whether it was all right your joining before he announced that all was ready.4 In fact, I suppose, it could make no difference; in the case of having to do with a gentleman like Mr Atherley. No doubt a rogue could have got articles altered. Do not leave this note about.— You must at once buy some good lock-up thing.— Shall you not want the certificate that you have £5000 consols?5 will this have to be produced on both sides.— Let me hear about the signing pretty soon.—

You cannot tell how much we are interested & amused by your letters. Everything sounds prosperous as yet: of course there will be drawbacks, as in every thing else in this world. I wish the winter was not coming on, as that will make it duller for you; but I am so glad to hear about your walk. What a nice considerate man Mr Atherley must be; pray give him my kind remembrances.— Enquire whether Sir H. James is in Southampton & whether you would like me to write to him. He is a pleasant & distinguished man.6 I think, if I write, the best & civillest will be, for me to ask permission for you to call on him.

Mr Sowerby left this afternoon & comes back on Tuesday night, when I shall have 5 or 6 more very hard days’ work.7 The drawings will be pretty successful; but I feel sure that my little book will be too difficult & too uniform for the Public & I almost wish I had never thought of separate publication. So I must chance it now.—

Miss Pugh arrived this evening for a few days.8 Crocket flourishes;9 how I wish you were here my dear old fellow to give a few more crockets in a mournful spirit. We delight in your letters—

Farewell | your affect. Father | C. Darwin


The year is given by the reference to the preparation of drawings for Orchids (see nn. 2 and 7, below).
George Brettingham Sowerby Jr arrived at Down House on 7 October 1861 to prepare the illustrations for Orchids (Emma Darwin’s diary).
William Darwin was in Southampton making the final arrangements to join the Southampton and Hampshire Bank as a partner (Emma Darwin’s diary). The conditions of the partnership had been first established in May 1861 and were finalised in August.
William Mackmurdo Hacon, CD’s solicitor, had been hesitant to accept all the provisions requested by the bank’s partner, George Atherley. See letters to John Lubbock, [2 August 1861] and 10 August [1861].
‘Consols’ is an abbreviation for consolidated annuities, a form of government stocks. Consols offered a fixed rate of interest, usually low, giving the lender the advantage in the principal funded. CD had advanced William £4500 from his inheritance to serve as a guaranteed deposit toward the partnership in the Southampton and Hampshire Bank (Down House MS 11:16). See also letter to W. E. Darwin, [25 May 1861].
Henry James, director-general of the Ordnance Survey, lived in Southampton, where the survey was based.
See n. 2, above. According to Emma Darwin’s diary, Sowerby stayed until 12 October 1861. He returned to complete the work on 15 October 1861. An entry in CD’s Account book (Down House MS) for 21 October 1861 records a payment of £10 16s. to ‘Mr Sowerby for 10 days’.
Mary Ann Pugh had been governess to the Darwin children in 1856 and 1857 and afterwards occasionally visited the family.
This is probably a misspelling of ‘croquet’. An entry for 4 September 1861 in Emma Darwin’s diary reads ‘Etty played Croqet’, with the ‘q’ written over ‘ck’.


Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.


Asks whether WED has signed the articles of partnership in the bank.

Has been working at orchid drawings with G. B. Sowerby, Jr.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 78
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3284,” accessed on 23 March 2023,

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