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Letter 481

Darwin, C. R. to Wedgwood, Emma (Darwin, Emma)

2 [–3 Jan 1839]

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    His dinner with the Carlyles. "He is the best worth listening to of any man" – but CD cannot get up much admiration for Mrs C, partly because of her Scots accent, which makes her difficult to understand.

Transcription

Athenæum.

Wednesday Evening 2d

My dear Emma

After a good day's work, here am I sitting very comfortably, & feeling just that degree of lassitude, which a man enjoys after a day's shooting, terminated by an excellent dinner. All my goods are in their proper places & one of the front attics, (hence forward to be called the Museum,) is quite filled, but holds everything very well: my room down stairs would hold more & so will allow of things to grow, & things will always grow.— I walked for half an hour in the garden to day & much enjoyed the advantage of so easily getting a mouth-full of air.—

Erasmus's dinner yesterday was a very pleasant one: Carlyyle was in high force, & talked away most steadily; to my mind Carlyle is the most worth listening to, of any man I know. the Hensleigs were there & were very pleasant also.— such society, I think, is worth all other, & more brilliant kinds, many times over I find I cannot by any exertion get up the due amount of admiration for Mrs Carlyle: I do not know whether you find it so, but I am not able to understand half the words, she speaks, from her Scotch pronunciation.— She certainly is very far from natural; or to use the expression, Hensleigh so often quotes she is not an unconscious person.— Albert Way called on me to day at No 12, & after looking about him sometime said, “I certainly have been in this house before; did a family of Mannings live here?” Is it not curious our getting into a house so well known by our friends & relations? Moreover I well remember now calling on L. Horner, when living here.— I little thought then, under what different & prosperous circumstances I should a second time enter it.— I hear from the old woman who has charge (Margaret comes on Thursday) that Colonel Irvine is 84 years old, & his wife only 30 & very beautiful. He has a large family by his first wife, who do not live with him: < > at Shrewsbury, from such premises, they would immediately consider it demonstrated, that the lady, who chose the yellow curtains & had the walls painted so fine an azure was no better than she should be,—certainly she had no better taste, than she ought to have, which, like her character, I presume, is none at all.—

Tomorrow I mean to go on writing, with all my papers not only in their proper place, but far better arranged than ever they were before: is not this something to rejoice in considering that they were in their usual disorder in Sunday Morning in Marbro' St.?— (NB. If you have any dusters, or rough towels, ready it will be well to send them with the sheets). As far as I can see into the future, though it is not so very far to look, I shall start for Shrewsbury on Thursday Morning: my visit there & to Maer must be very short, for thanks to the God of Time, there is no great interval between the 10th & 24th: but I shall settle these points when in the country. I long for the hour of inducting you into the glory, I dare not say comforts, of Gower St.— I wish I could make the drawing room look as comfortable as my own studio; but I dare say a fire & a little disorder will temporarily make things better, but the day of some signal reform must come, otherwise our taste of harmonious colours will assuredly be spoilt for the rest of our lives.—

I feel so stupid & comfortable, so dull in the noddle & weary in the legs, that I must wish you a good night, just like a real country squire after a hard day's shooting, so good bye my dear Emma. Ever your Affect | Charles Darwin.—

P.S. I took the Respirator to the Railroad office this evening, packed in a box, & directed Maer Hall Whitmore Station Staffordshire.

Thursday Afternoon.— After doing a couple of hour's writing works in my studio, undisturbed by sound or sight, I sallied forth, & had a most successful round of paying calls,—all out,—excepting Capt. Beaufort, who formally announced he hoped to have the pleasure of our acquaintance: this is an infliction, I suspect, as I hear Mrs Beaufort is a poor body, & I can answer for Capt. Beauforts' parties being intensely dull. You are aware she was a Miss Edgworth, & married the other day to the Captain, who is only about 60 years old.

I saw, also the Lyells, who screamed properly at hearing that I was fully settled in the New House.— I have a geological dinner there on Sunday. It will be almost the last of the tête à tête parties, without Lyell & myself put our threat into execution of leaving our wives at home & dining at the Athenæum

Good Bye my own dear Emma | Most affectionately Yours | Chas. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 481.f1
    The date of the marriage of CD and Emma was finally fixed for 29, not 24, January (see letter from Emma Wedgwood, [7 January 1839]). According to the ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II), CD went to Shrewsbury on Friday the 11th, to Maer on the 15th, returned to London on the 18th, then to Shrewsbury on the 25th and to Maer on the 28th for the wedding.
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    f2 481.f2
    Francis Beaufort's marriage to Honora Edgeworth took place on 8 November 1838. He was sixty-four, Honora forty-six. She was a half-sister of Maria Edgeworth, the novelist (see Friendly 1977, pp. 270–3).
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