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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. E. Darwin   21 August [1863]1


Au 21

My Dear Father,—

I have signed the six orders for Dividends & forwarded them,2 also sent Aunt Catherines letter to Uncle Ras—3

Thanks for Mama’s nice long letter4   it has given me more news than I have had for a long time.

I am reading hard away at Mülder Organic Chemistry & find it very interesting tho’ rather long.5

On examining the Lythrums they turned out to be nothing, tho’ it was not a fair trial.6 Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins gave a good lecture last week at the Hartley upon Unity of Vertebrate structure but no “origin” turned up7

Dr. Lankaster is going to lecture on Monday which I shall go and hear8

Your affect son | W E Darwin

I am glad to hear you are going to have Dr B—? down9

CD annotations

1.1 I have … long. 3.2] crossed pencil
5.1 Dr. Lankaster … down 7.1] crossed pencil


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to W. E. Darwin, [25 July 1863].
These orders for dividends have not been traced. CD’s dividend receipts during late August and September 1863 were principally from railway shares and are recorded in CD’s Account book–banking accounts (Down House MS).
Emily Catherine Darwin (known as Catherine) and Erasmus Alvey Darwin were CD’s sister and brother. Catherine Darwin’s letter has not been found; the letter may have referred to her forthcoming marriage to CD’s brother-in-law Charles Langton, and its postponement owing to her illness (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 [August 1863]).
The letter from Emma Darwin to W. E. Darwin has not been found.
The reference is to Mulder 1849.
In the letter to W. E. Darwin, [25 July 1863], CD asked William to make some observations on the mid-styled form of Lythrum salicaria.
William refers to the artist, anatomist, and popular natural history author and lecturer, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, and to the Hartley Institution, Southampton (Men and women of the time 1865, Post Office directory of Hampshire, Dorsetshire, and Wiltshire 1867). The Hartley Institution was a literary and scientific institution, opened in Southampton in October 1862 to ‘promote the study and advancement of the sciences of Natural History, Astronomy, Antiquities, Classical and Oriental Literature in the town’. Between October 1862 and September 1863 use of the lecture hall was granted to various local societies (Patterson 1962, pp. 12, 21–2).
Edwin Lankester, surgeon, physician, and professor of natural history at New College, London, was also a popular author and lecturer in natural history (DNB, Medical directory 1863).
The reference is to the London physician William Brinton; Brinton attended CD in November and December 1863 (CD’s Classed account books (Down House MS)). See also letter from George Busk, [c. 27 August 1863], and letters to J. D. Hooker, [13 November 1863] and 5 [December 1863]. Brinton was a specialist in stomach disorders at St Thomas’s Hospital, London (Medical directory 1863).


DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Medical directory: The London medical directory … every physician, surgeon, and general practitioner resident in London. London: C. Mitchell. 1845. The London and provincial medical directory. London: John Churchill. 1848–60. The London & provincial medical directory, inclusive of the medical directory for Scotland, and the medical directory for Ireland, and general medical register. London: John Churchill. 1861–9. The medical directory … including the London and provincial medical directory, the medical directory for Scotland, the medical directory for Ireland. London: J. & A. Churchill. 1870–1905.

Men and women of the time: The men of the time in 1852 or sketches of living notables. 2d edition, 1853. 3d edition, 1856. 4th edition, 1857. New edition, 1865. 7th edition, 1868. 8th edition, 1872. 9th edition, 1875. 10th edition, 1879. 11th edition, 1884. 12th edition, 1887. 13th edition, 1891. 14th edition, 1895. Men and women of the time: a dictionary. 15th edition. By Victor G. Plarr. 1899. London: David Bogue [and others]. 1852–99.

Mulder, Gerrit Jan van. 1849. The chemistry of vegetable & animal physiology. Translated by P. F. H. Fromberg. With introduction and notes by James F. W. Johnston. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood & Sons.

Patterson, Alfred Temple. 1962. The University of Southampton; a- centenary history of the evolution and development of the University of Southampton, 1862–1962. Southampton: University of Southampton.

Post Office directory of Hampshire, Dorsetshire, and Wiltshire: Post Office directory of Hampshire, Dorsetshire, and Wiltshire. Post Office directory of Dorsetshire, Wiltshire, and Hampshire, including the Isle of Wight. London: Kelly & Co. 1848–75.


Has signed and forwarded some orders.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Erasmus Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 162: 95
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4271,” accessed on 23 January 2022,

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