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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. H. Darwin   [9–15 June 1863]1

I don’t quite know what question to ask Wrigley, for I must have something definite.2

It seems as tho’ there were an infinity of secondary spires— I don’t quite understand your cone question, but it must come to the same as the other.3

How strange that the young shoot should jump from 38 to 513 & miss all intervening fractions. Though after all it is’nt much 38 = 39104 and 513 = 40104 only 1104 difference so there could’nt be many intervening fractions, except with very high denomrs.—

I don’t suppose those spires have anything to do with it, but it’s very strange how they arise.—

As you know the holidays begin on next Tuesday week. As on that day the Oxford & Cambridge match is going on at Lord’s I think I shall go there & come home in the evening, but the boys I suppose will come in the morning.4 I’ll let you know again before the time.

Next Tuesday there is a whole holiday & a cricket match old versus present members of the School & a good dinner in the evening.

L’s letter is rather a curiosity in the way of spelling, but its because he does’nt look it over.5

I remain | Your affec: Son | G. H. Darwin

CD annotations

2.2 other] crossed pencil; ‘Cylinder’ pencil


The date range is established by the reference to the Oxford and Cambridge cricket match (see n. 4, below).
Alfred Wrigley was the headmaster at Clapham Grammar School in south London, where George was a student; he was an accomplished mathematician (Modern English biography). CD had apparently asked George questions about the geometry of the positions of leaves on the stems of plants, either in a letter that has not been found, or in person; Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) records that George arrived at Down House on 6 June 1863. See also memorandum from G. H. Darwin, [before 11 May 1863]. CD’s notes on phyllotaxy are in DAR 51: A6–32; there are also notes by George on this subject in DAR 192: 1–7.
See memorandum from G. H. Darwin, [before 11 May 1863].
George refers to the annual cricket match between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, which took place at Lord’s cricket ground in London on 22 and 23 June 1863 (Cambridge University calendar). Francis and Leonard Darwin were also students at Clapham Grammar School; Emma Darwin recorded ‘boys from school’ in her diary (DAR 242) on 23 June 1863.
The letter from Leonard Darwin has not been found.


Cambridge University calendar: The Cambridge University calendar. Cambridge: W. Page [and others]. 1796–1950.

Modern English biography: Modern English biography, containing many thousand concise memoirs of persons who have died since the year 1850. By Frederick Boase. 3 vols. and supplement (3 vols.). Truro, Cornwall: the author. 1892–1921.


Discusses some angles [relating to phyllotaxy].

The forthcoming school holidays.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Howard Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.2: 1
Physical description
ALS 4pp inc †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4209,” accessed on 1 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11