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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francis Darwin   18 October [1870]1

The Moat | Tunbridge

Oct 18.

My dear Frank

I enclose cheque for 115£:2 I expected of course to have to aid you as you were so much longer than usual at Cambridge, but the above is rather more than I expected; & what is worse I do not see how you can hold out for this quarter with only £46.5.0.—3 But never, for God’s sake, conceal debts from me, & tell me now, whether you owe any more: tell me this & think deliberately when you acknowledge the cheque to Down, where we return on Thursday morning.4

As you have not kept accounts it is of course impossible for you know how you have overspent your income.— Let me urge you to make a point of conscience (& then I know it will be done, i.e. if I can persuade you that it is a duty) to keep accounts.— You cannot be sure about paying your debts if you do not, nor can you tell how to economise & spend your income to best advantage. I have never known a man who was too idle to attend to his affairs & accounts, who did not get into difficulties; & he who habitually is in money difficulties, very rarely keeps scrupulously honourable, & God forbid that this shd. ever be your fate.— If you once got into habit of attending to your money, & this implies keeping accounts, you wd. feel it very little trouble. My father,5 who was the wisest man I ever knew, thought it the duty of every man, young & old, to keep an account of his money; & I very unwillingly obeyed him; for I was not always so bothersome an old fellow as I daresay I appear to you.—

We have been to Leith Hill & came here yesterday & have enjoyed ourselves; though mamma is not very well to day. This is a wonderfully curious & pretty place.6

Your affectionate Father | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the references to the Darwins’ holiday at Leith Hill Place and Ightham Mote (see nn. 4 and 6, below).
CD listed the amount for ‘F[rank]’ under ‘Boys’ in his account book (CD’s Classed account books (Down House MS)).
Francis had been at Trinity College, Cambridge since 1866; he graduated in 1870 (ODNB), taking third place in first class honours in the natural science tripos in December (The Times, 19 December 1870, p. 6).
The Darwins returned to Down on Thursday 20 October 1870 (‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). No letter from Francis acknowledging the cheque has been found.
Robert Waring Darwin.
The Darwins were staying at Ightham Mote, a moated medieval manor house, which is in fact closer to Sevenoaks than to Tunbridge; they had left Down on 13 October, going first to Leith Hill Place (‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).


ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Sends a cheque to pay off FD’s debts. Warns him of the dangers of overspending his income and advises him strongly to keep accounts.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Darwin
Sent from
The Moat, Tunbridge
Source of text
DAR 211: 6
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7346,” accessed on 15 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18