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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   4 November [1861]1

Down Kent

Nov. 4th.

My dear William

I enclose Mr Hacon’s note about your will;2 you will see that it is of no importance making one at present; but of course you can do as you like. Whenever you do make a will always consult a Lawyer.— My will, as you know is equal partition; up to about £15,000, & if there should be more, all excess to be divided equally amongst the sons alone.—

I enclose a nice note from Franky.3

Mamma goes tomorrow to Hastings for 4 or 5 days to see Aunt Charlotte, whose health, I fear, is rapidly failing & I doubt whether she will live very long.—4 Poor Mammy has been having bad toothach, & on Sunday Mr Engleheart pulled out one.—5

Skimp was pleased by your note.6 A run-away-horse at night is no joke, & I am heartily glad you were not hurt.— (N.B people do not go at full “tare” along the “rode”).— You seem to getting on well with pleasant acquaintances. The mathematicks must come hard.— I wonder in how many months you will feel up to all the account Books.—

Your letters are a great pleasure to us.—

I keep up Torquay good habits & almost every day take a pretty good walk in the country.7 I met Montagu L. lately with arm in sling: Lenny says his manner of speaking seems altered8

Sir John has been laid up at Geneva by gout for a fortnight; what a time poor Lady L. must have had; but I daresay the gout will make him less cracky.—9

I have been doing some good work at the homologies of Orchids, by tracing their vessels, & Hooker thinks that I have made out their structure well.—

Good Night, my dear old fellow.—

Your affecty. | C. Darwin


The year is given by the reference to Emma Darwin’s visit to Charlotte Langton (see n. 4, below).
The letter from William Mackmurdo Hacon, CD’s solicitor, has not been found.
The letter from Francis Darwin has not been found.
Charlotte Langton, Emma Darwin’s eldest sister, was staying in St Leonard’s-on-Sea, near Hastings, Sussex, in the hope that the sea air would improve her health (Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 178). According to her diary, Emma Darwin visited Charlotte from 5 to 9 November 1861. Charlotte Langton died in January 1862 at the age of sixty-five.
‘Skimp’ was the family nickname of Horace Darwin, aged ten.
The Darwins spent July and August 1861 in Torquay, Devon.
Montagu Lubbock had been seriously injured in a carriage accident in May 1861 (see letter to T. H. Huxley, 22 May [1861], and H. G. Hutchinson 1914).
John William Lubbock and Harriet Lubbock were neighbours of the Darwins in Down, residing at High Elms.


Emma Darwin (1915): Emma Darwin: a century of family letters, 1792–1896. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1915.

Hutchinson, Horace Gordon. 1914. Life of Sir John Lubbock, Lord Avebury. 2 vols. London: Macmillan.

Post Office directory of the six home counties: Post Office directory of the six home counties, viz., Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex. London: W. Kelly & Co. 1845–78.


Reports events at Down;

has been doing good work on the homologies of orchids.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 86
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3307,” accessed on 4 June 2023,

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