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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. E. Darwin   12 March [1863]1


March 12.

My Dear Father,

I had a talk with Mr Atherley today before he went off. it turns out to be a mistake, & that he has no wish to give up.2

I asked whether he had any real thought or wish to sell, and said that it would be better for me if it was done now rather than 5 or 6 years hence.

And he said positively that he had not any wish and that he merely mentioned it in the same way that he always mentioned anything about the bank affairs. he said that if this had turned up when he was looking about for a partner he thought he probably should have seen what they offered, and very likely has sold it; but that now he was very comfortable as he was, and had not wish to get out of it.

but he said if I did not like the business or had a very strong wish to sell out he would see what they offered.

Of course I could not say I had a strong wish to sell out, or had a dislike to the business, so that when he asked me, I said I was very well satisfied; and did not wish for a change. he afterwards said that he had doubts whether the Company had the money to give us supposing they wished to buy us out. he then said that supposing he had had a wish to get rid of the business, he should not have thought of mentioning the subject or make a proposal without I made the proposal first, or shewed myself willing, as he should consider it most unfair upon me and quite contrary to his idea of partnership; and that I might rely upon it that he would never in any way throw me over. he also said something about his dying in harness, & not being better off with nothing to do; as work had become a habit to him   My idea is that Mr Atherley would like it, and that he every now and then feels from being in low spirits that he should like to be free to go off anywhere; but at the same time he feels that his life would not be so comfortable with nothing to do.

And that if I have expressed a strong wish either way, it would have settled him, or helped him to make up his mind as to what he wished. I think this is all too strong, but I should think he felt something of this kind. he is very fond of his work; and takes great interest in everything and works most heartily.

Supposing I had made up my mind that it would be better for me to come out of this with 6 or 7 thousand, I think I hardly could make the proposition after what he has said. What do you think? If anything more turns up I will write.

I got here all right only rather cold | My love to all | your affect son | W E Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and a letter from Emma Darwin to W. E. Darwin, [17 March 1863] (DAR 219.1: 71; dated by references to events that are recorded in Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)), in which she mentions that she and CD thought that William’s conversation with George Atherley, as recounted by William in this letter, was very satisfactory.
William was under the impression that his banking partner, George Atherley, wished to give up his job following the death of his daughter Maud Elizabeth in October 1862 (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to W. E. Darwin, 30 [October 1862] and n. 4).


Discusses partnership in bank and whether Atherley would like to retire.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Erasmus Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Source of text
Cornford Family Papers (DAR 275: 14)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4035F,” accessed on 19 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24 (Supplement)