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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   30 [October 1862]1



My dear William

I write only just to thank you about the Lythrum. I do not feel at all so sure, that what you thought about the mid-styled looking different is rubbish:2 I am sure that it yields more seed. I think the seed of long-styled are rather larger than of the two other forms.—3

What a melancholy thing poor little Mauds death is. I am truly sorry for the Atherleys.4 It is not at all likely that you will have any opportunity, but if you have say how sincerely we sympathise with them.— I fear if Mr A. goes away for some time, you will be much confined to your work.— How does your health keep.? Poor Etty has not been very well lately, & it makes her low.5

John Lubbock comes here to dinner tomorrow; Heaven knows how I shall stand it.—6 Herbert Norman found the other day a very perfect Celt near Cudham:7 & a grand Mammoth’s tusk has just been found at Greenstreet Green.—8

Our greatest piece of news is that Lizzie at her own wish is to go to school at Kensington after Xmas;9 & if Horace is able to go, we shall part with Miss Ludwig.—10 Etty is going on Saturday,, if well enough as I very much hope she will be, to stay for a few days at the Bonham Carters.11

Thanks for Saturday Review; it was a nice little article.—12

Farewell | My dear old fellow | Your affect | C. Darwin

Months hence will do about counting seed; you will find it tedious work.—13


Dated by the relationship to the letter from W. E. Darwin, 28 October 1862.
CD reported this observation in ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria, p. 172 (Collected papers 2: 108).
Maud Atherley was the daughter of George Atherley, William’s banking partner in the Southampton and Hampshire Bank, Southampton.
The excitement of conversation with guests usually resulted in CD’s suffering attacks of vomiting and chills during the night. He had suffered a severe attack on 21 October 1862, following the visit to Down House of three former shipmates from HMS Beagle (see letter to John Lubbock, 23 October [1862]). Following Lubbock’s visit to Down House on 31 October, Emma Darwin recorded in her diary (DAR 242): ‘Ch. attack of sickness in night but not so bad’.
Greenstreet Green is a village about two miles north-east of Down. See letter from John Lubbock, 25 October 1862, n. 5.
Elizabeth Darwin started at a school in Kensington run by Miss Buob, on 27 January 1863 (see Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), and the letter from Emma Darwin to W. E. Darwin, [29 October 1862], in DAR 219.1: 63).
The Darwins’ governess, Camilla Ludwig, was on an extended visit to her family in Hamburg, having apparently been sent away in early June, on full pay, in order to separate her from Horace Darwin. The Down surgeon, Stephen Paul Engleheart, was concerned that Horace’s attachment to her might have been exacerbating the illness from which he had been suffering earlier in the year. See the letters from Emma Darwin to William Erasmus Darwin, [2 March 1862], [27 May 1862], and [6 November 1862], in DAR 219.1: 49, 57, 64; see also Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), and CD’s Classed account book (Down House MS).
CD refers to the family of Joanna Maria Bonham-Carter, whose house, Ravensbourne, was in the village of Keston, two miles north-west of Down. On Saturday 1 November 1862, Emma Darwin recorded in her diary (DAR 242) that Henrietta had been ‘better but languid in m[ornin]g all week’, but there is no record of a visit to the Bonham-Carters on that day. Henrietta visited and stayed with the Bonham-Carters on more than one occasion in November and December 1862, having become friendly with Elinor Mary Bonham-Carter (see Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), and the letters from Emma Darwin to W. E. Darwin, [19 November 1862] and [2 December 1862?], in DAR 219.1: 67–8).
William had probably sent CD a copy of the anonymous review of Orchids that appeared in the Saturday Review of 18 October 1862 (Anon 1862); there is a copy of the review in CD’s Scrapbook of reviews (DAR 226.1).


Anon. 1862. Mr Darwin’s orchids. Saturday Review 14 (1862): 486.

Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

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.

‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’: On the sexual relations of the three forms of Lythrum salicaria. By Charles Darwin. [Read 16 June 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 169–96. [Collected papers 2: 106–31.]


Thanks WED for observations on Lythrum.

Discusses family affairs.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 107
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3789,” accessed on 19 June 2024,

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