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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Charles Pritchard   17 June [1862]1


June 17.

My dear Sir,

You see I have taken the precaution of breaking up a very few days earlier than we intended— I feared possibilities.

I rejoice to hear that your boy is nearly convalescent.2

I shall send some work for the holidays, part of which is to be remitted to me in about a month. The more formal Examination I must defer until August 12 when the school re-assembles.

I am | dear Sir | faithfully yours | C. Pritchard

I desire my respects to Mrs Darwin.

I shall hunt for Pollen tubes in the I. Wight: but not under -/10—but try what I can do with an erecting eye-piece and inch object glass giving me a power [lumina] of about 90.3


The year is established by the reference to Leonard Darwin’s illness (see n. 2, below).
Pritchard was headmaster of Clapham Grammar School, the school then attended by George Howard Darwin, Francis, and Leonard Darwin (see letter to W. E. Darwin, 26 April [1862], n. 2). Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) records that Leonard had been sent home from school on 12 June with scarlet fever, that George returned home on 16 June, and that Francis, having come home for the weekend on 31 May, did not return to school as he became ‘feverish’ on 2 June.
Pritchard, whose main interests were mathematics and astronomy, was also interested in botany, having at Clapham, ‘one of the finest fernaries in England’ (DNB). Although CD and Pritchard evidently corresponded on botanical topics, these letters have not been found. In his memoirs (A. Pritchard ed. 1897, p. 60), Pritchard recalled that George Darwin had, while a pupil at Clapham, asked him ‘to read with him certain portions of his illustrious father’s book on The Fertilisation of Orchids.’ He continued: ‘More than gladly I did as he desired, and in due time we succeeded in fertilising and ripening the seeds of Oncidium Papilio; but we did not succeed in our attempts to induce the seeds to germinate, as his father challenged us to do: the necessary environments were wanting.’ Pritchard left his post at Clapham Grammar School in 1862, and moved to Freshwater on the Isle of Wight (DNB).


DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.


Has broken up school a few days early to avoid danger. Hopes CD’s son is nearly recovered.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Pritchard
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 174.2: 77
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3607,” accessed on 23 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10