skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   [2–3 September 1862]1


My dearest William

Thanks for your pleasant letter.2 Your account made us all laugh.—

Dare you in morning steal 2 flowers & one leaf & one pod, & post same day in enclosed.—3

The patients are very well & mamma better.4 I have not yet had strength to dissect the Bee’s mouth.—5

Good Bye my dear old fellow | C. D


The date range is established by the relationship of this letter to CD’s correspondence with John Lubbock concerning bees (see n. 5, below), and by reference to the letter to William from Emma Darwin, written on the verso of this letter. CD, Emma, and Leonard Darwin stayed with William in Southampton until 1 September 1862, when they joined the rest of the family in Bournemouth (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II)). In her letter to William, Emma described the house where they were staying, and suggested that William should visit them in Bournemouth on his first free Saturday; according to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), William first visited them on 6 September.
William’s letter has not been found.
The reference has not been traced.
Leonard Darwin had been ill with scarlet fever since 12 June 1862 (see letter to W. E. Darwin, 13 [June 1862]); Emma contracted the fever on 13 August 1862 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
At the end of August 1862, during his stay with William in Southampton, CD noted that whereas some of the bees in a field of red clover sucked nectar at the mouths of the flowers, others did so at the bases of the flowers, through holes bitten in the corollas. CD speculated that there might be two types of bees, with those that bit holes in the corollas possibly having shorter probosces than the others, or possibly working with the others according to a ‘division of labour principle’ (DAR 49: 149); on 31 August, he gathered two specimens of each type, but apparently did not examine them until the evening of 3 September (see letter to John Lubbock, 2 September [1862], letter to Asa Gray, [3–]4 September [1862], and letter to John Lubbock, [3 September 1862]).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.


Asks WED to send some specimens [of Lythrum?].

[Letter from Emma Darwin to WED on verso.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 103
Physical description
ALS 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3673,” accessed on 1 June 2023,

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