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Darwin Correspondence Project

From E. A. Darwin   [11 October 1868]1


Dear Charles

I must write to congrat on George’s fellowship.2 I was dining with Sylvester3 yesterday who said & I entirely agree with him that it is the most envyable position on earth. Our third at dinner was Prince Polignac (I dont know what he is)4 & Sylvester entertained him at great length on George’s success which I hope was interesting to him.

He complained that Lenny had not called upon him and I shall clearly have no peace till he does.5 I think Sylvester must be in love with you he is so affectionate, & I had to drink rather too much champagne in consequence.

yours affec. | E D

I have had a melancholy letter from poor Charles who appears to be nearly ruined between his farm & his love affair for which he has had to pay a thousand pounds.6 I could’nt make Grace Allen7 tell me the history because I happened to ask her to tell me all the scandal & she took every word as literally as in a court of Justice


The date is established by the reference to George Howard Darwin’s fellowship (see n. 2, below). The Sunday following 10 October 1868 was 11 October.
George’s fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge, was announced in The Times, 10 October 1868, p. 5.
Erasmus referred to one of three brothers: Camille Armand Jules Marie, Prince de Polignac, Edmond Jean Marie Melchior, Prince de Polignac, or Charles Ludovic Marie, Prince de Polignac.
Sylvester was a professor of mathematics at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, where Leonard Darwin was a student; Erasmus had earlier written that Sylvester suggested Leonard call on him (see letter from E. A. Darwin, [24 September – 10 October 1868]).
The reference is probably to the Grace Allen whose family lived in Prees, Shropshire; her father was archdeacon of Shropshire. She was related to the Wedgwoods and the Darwins through the Allen family of Cresselly, Pembrokeshire (Burke’s landed gentry 1952, Darwin pedigree).


Burke’s landed gentry: A genealogical and heraldic history of the commoners of Great Britain and Ireland enjoying territorial possessions or high official rank but unvisited with heritable honours. Burke’s genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry. By John Burke et al. 1st–18th edition. London: Henry Colburn [and others]. 1833–1969.

Darwin pedigree: Pedigree of the family of Darwin. Compiled by H. Farnham Burke. N.p.: privately printed. 1888. [Reprinted in facsimile in Darwin pedigrees, by Richard Broke Freeman. London: printed for the author. 1984.]


J. J. Sylvester reports George’s fellowship "the most enviable position on earth".

Charles [Parker?] "appears to be ruined".

Letter details

Letter no.
Erasmus Alvey Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 105: B62–3
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6219,” accessed on 24 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16