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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Alfred Wrigley   2 January 1868

Grammar School, | Clapham. S.

Jany. 2. | 1868

My dear Mr Darwin

I beg to express my gratification on reading your letter of this day.1 The place on the Sandhurst List won by Leonard is remarkably good: and is such as would ensure him, were he pass through Sandhurst, a Commission without purchase.2 So high a place is rarely obtained without Classics—and considering that Leonard ‘took up’ no Classics3—and was somewhat doubtful in English, for half a dozen words mis-spelt might have seriously damaged him—considering also that he first turned his attention to Geology and Mineralogy during the last term—and that his Mathematics were specially shaped for Woolwich requirements4—I am highly gratified by his achievement—but particularly by the evidence of external authorities thus afforded of the sterling qualities of the boy’s mind and attainments.

He has much before him—but all will be comparatively easy to him with the student habits he has acquired and sedulously practised.

Permit me to express the pleasure with which I perused your letter respecting Horace.5

I am My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Alfred Wrigley

Charles R Darwin Esqre. | &c &c &c


CD’s letter to Wrigley has not been found.
Leonard Darwin had evidently taken the entrance examination for the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. Competitive examinations had been established in 1858, replacing a system of entrance by nomination (see Smyth 1961, p. 75). CD had discussed Leonard Darwin’s future prospects in the letter to Alfred Wrigley, [September 1867] (Correspondence vol. 15).
On the curriculum at Clapham Grammar School, see C. Pritchard 1886, pp. 47–8, 58–64.
The Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, prepared army officers for the Royal Artillery and Engineers (Smyth 1961). Leonard later took the entrance examination for Woolwich (see letter to Horace Darwin, 26 [July 1868] and n. 2).
CD had stated his intention of withdrawing Horace Darwin from Clapham Grammar School ‘after Xmas’ in his letter to Wrigley of [September 1867] (Correspondence vol. 15). Wrigley evidently refers to a subsequent letter from CD that has not been found. See letters to Alfred Wrigley, 7 March [1868] and 11 March [1868].


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Pritchard, Charles. 1886. Annals of our school life. Oxford: Horace Hart.

Smyth, John George. 1961.Sandhurst: the history of the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, 1741–1961. London: Wakefield and Nicolson.


Expresses his gratification on reading of Leonard Darwin’s high placing on the Sandhurst list.

Letter details

Letter no.
Alfred Wrigley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Clapham Grammar School
Source of text
DAR 181: 180
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5773,” accessed on 23 September 2021,

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