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Letter 167

Darwin, E. C. to Darwin, C. R.

26[–29] Apr [1832]

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    Writes chiefly of family affairs: Erasmus' visit, further delay in Fanny Owen's marriage, Sarah [Owen] Williams' illness, Arthur Owen's sad departure for India; cholera.

Transcription

Shrewsbury.

April 26th.

My dearest Charles.

We have been much disappointed not to have heard from you from Madeira, but suppose that either you have not touched there, or there was no conveyance to England. You cannot think how we all long and talk about your first letter from Rio; what pleasure it will be to hear that you are well and prosperous, and recovered from sea sickness, and are beginning to enjoy yourself. The last letter to you went the 1st of April directed to Monte Video, from Caroline,—and a letter went from Woodhouse by the 1st of March from Mr Owen and Fanny, directed to Rio Janeiro. If I am to judge of the pleasure letters from England will give you, by that which your's will give us, it will be great indeed, and I do suppose you must care even more, so mind to give us all possible directions about writing to you.— Papa and we all are well here, and just in statu quo you left us. We have had Erasmus down with us for Easter Week, and we have been often talking about you, my dearest old Charley. Erasmus came to us from Northamptonshire, where he had been paying a sentimental visit to his friend Mrs Whitworth, one of the many female friends he made abroad. We were rather scandalized at this, but were quite relieved by the first word he said about her; ``that she was the horriddest brute that ever lived, and sang like a Barrel Organ''. He found the house so intolerably stupid, that after spending two days there, he sent for a Post Chaise, and rattled off to catch the Wonder, promising to stay longer the next time he came to them.— We have not been able to make out the offence, except the poor woman's singing and her Husband's talking Toryism.— Fanny Owen's marriage is still delayed. Mr Biddulph has been staying at Woodhouse the last month, but he is so dawdling, and the Settlements are so long making, that it is the most tedious affair possible; and now there is another delay in Mr Owen's being obliged to go to London, to take Arthur up, and see him off; his Ship sails the middle of May. Caroline Owen is going up to London with them to stay with Mrs Williams, who has been exceedingly ill, and people say, is reduced to a perfect Ghost. You will hardly know your old friend Sarah, under her new name, and I am afraid Mrs Myddelton Biddulph will be still more strange to you.—

I wrote so far yesterday, and this morning poor Arthur called to wish us Goodbye on his road to London. It was most melancholy to see him, poor boy, hardly able to speak, and turning away his face from us to hide his tears. I never was so sorry for anybody. He had first had the parting with Mrs Owen and Fanny, and the children this morning, and this second leave taking to us seemed quite to overcome him. He looked the picture of sadness. Poor boy, how I hope he may live & be happy in India; it is a capital thing for him that he does not like wine.— Susan has been almost living at Woodhouse, lately, flirting alternately with the Captain, and Arthur.— You are not at all forgotten by Mr Owen, or by any of the Owens, I assure you; Mr Owen talks of you with as much affection and interest as ever. Sir Baldwin Leighton is another person who always enquires very much after you. He and his Bride called here the other day. I did not think that you knew much of him, and I suppose it is his own love of foreign travels gives him such an interest in you.—

This is the Wedding Day of Frank Wedgwood and Miss Mosley, and of Edward Holland, and Miss Isaac. Think what marrying times these are, that 2 relations should be married the same day. Erasmus gives such an account of Mrs Edward Holland. He says she is the reverse of Falstaff; she is not only stupid herself, but makes other people stupid, and that she is vulgar and sulky, and the state of their Country House he thinks will be alarming.— We know nothing of Miss Mosley yet, except that she is immensely fat, and the most excellent scrattle, talks of ``cutting up pigs without waste''. Mr and Mrs Langton are living at Ripley in Surrey, very comfortably.— It is a nice village, in a very pretty country, 23 miles from London. Charlotte seems to be very much in love by all accounts.— Do you remember your Prophecy you made to Erasmus? that you should find him tied neck and heels to E<mma> Wedgwood, an<d> heartily sick of her, in short in <the> same state that Harry & Jessie are supposed to be; I am much amused at your prophecy, and I think it may possibly have a good effect, and prevent its own fulfilment.—

Friday 27th of April. Erasmus left us today; he told me to send you his love, and to tell you that he did not write to you, as you and he had come to an understanding not to write to each other, and that Brothers never could write to each other. Erasmus talks with the greatest interest for your letters, and says ``how grand it makes him feel, and how strange it is, actually to have a Brother in South America.'' Dearest Charley, how glad I shall be when our grandeur comes to an end, and we have you with us again,—and oh! that there was any chance of your returning from South America, before the Beagle's Course is finished. We are exceedingly interested to know whether your liking and admiration for your Captain continues, and how you like the rest of your company.

Pray remember how interested we are, and keep writing a Journal on and on for us, and tell us every thing. I am afraid you must have been much disappointed not to have seen Madeira, as we suppose, must have been the case, by not having heard from you.— I suppose you get the Papers, and will have seen how tremendous the Cholera has been in Paris. It is quite dying away in London now, but spreading over the Country fast. One case is said to have taken place in Whitchurch, so we shall have it directly in Shrewsbury, and Papa being the Head Doctor of the Board of Health is really awful. You will escape this danger at least; I wish I could be sure of your escaping all the innumerable other dangers you are exposed to. For Heaven's sake, take care of yourself, is all I entreat of you, and don't take any violent fatigues, and do your health great harm. That is what Papa is always so afraid of for you. I am sure prudence must do a great deal in saving people from risks and dangers, and my hope is in your sense saving you. God bless you, dearest Charles. I never knew how much I loved you before. Papa's and all our most affectionate loves. Will you send word the dates of the letters you receive, that we may know whether you receive all.—

Ever yrs dearest Charles. E. C. D.

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