From Caroline & Susan Darwin 2 [January 1826]
My dear Charles
Catherine desires her love and many thanks for your letter—and Papa says you are a very good lad for remembering to mention Johnson,1 who he wanted to hear something about. You are in good luck to have so many good actors—Shrewsbury is going to make an attempt at gayety this week. The new Hunt Ball, & 2 concerts with no performers worth hearing, & if you were at home you would not even have the fun you subtracted from them last year in seeing chair men killed or drawn to pieces as the concerts are to be held at the Theatre & not at the Circus— Mr & Mrs Mathew come to us & three Mr Clives2—so Susan & Emma Wedgwood who is staying with us will have plenty of parteners.— the bells are ringing & making a great noise, so we suppose Mr and Mrs Price Owen are arrived at the Archdeacons3 I think Miss Derby was no more a flame of yrs than Mr P. Owen an object of my admiration, so we will wish them happy to-gether.— I did see a few days ago a young gentleman who I thought I own, quite exquisite, Mr. Gibbon, so handsome, & so conscious of it that he could not speak or turn his head with out thinking he was a study for a painter & model to a Sculptor. he told me a story of a young lady saved from being drowned by a newfoundland dog—who dragged her to land— and added, “I always call that dog a gallant fellow.” I give this as a specimen of the good taste of his conversation. Papa turned this delightful dandyfied young man into me in the Morning room—my long tête à tête was at length interrupted by Susan who came in huddled up in an old woman’s grey cloak— She started on seeing him—but sat down, & presently observed—“Caroline there is an old man wandering up & down the walks. I suppose he has lost himself, I dare say he is gone”. this old man was Mr Gibbon’s father—so I do not think Miss Susan will get him for a partener after speaking so disrespectfully of his Papa.— this is sad dull stuff to write about dear Charles—but you know the difficulty of a letter with no particular fact to communicate— Mrs Shelah condscends to pay me much more attention than when you were at home— She does not get much exercise beyond her daily walk into town & a little romping with any odd apple which she entreats me to throw down the bank for her to pick up.— Spark we hear from Overton is in high preservation, & so is you little nephew who of course you have a much stronger affection for. I am going to Woodhouse next Monday to copy a picture & intend to pay Marianne a visit in my way home— I was very near being seized as a poacher the last time I was at Woodhouse, walking in the dusk in the little wood near the house, & looking at some pheasants which I had startled, but it was soon my turn to be startled, for a man jumped over a wall & ran to me, calling “stop, stand,” which I did, he did so likewise, then we heard Mr Owen’s voice in the distance, “tell yr name, who are you”— I gave my name, he did not hear me but again roared out “who are you”, the man mean while stood quite still, He, He, He, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ho, Ho, Ho, then touched his hat and told me ‘Master set him on’— We have had no more new books, but have just ordered Coleridgs— “Aids to reflection,”4 which I hear very highly spoken of by several people.— Mores Sherridan5 is very interesting, & well written I think. Susan likes it particularly, but unfortunately any particular part that is mentioned in conversation she can not quite call to mind, his marriage for instance, “Dear me! Married was he? Well I suppose I missed that chapter”, and many other incidents “Dear me! well, I suppose I missed that page”— Do you read your magnificent work on Zoology in that manner? How do you like the lectures? are you busy and industrious— I suppose poor French has no chance now—
Susan has begged the flaps, so goodbye dear Bobby wishing you & Eras a happy new year & many returns of it. Evr Yr affec Sister | C. Darwin
Papa desires his love to the Boy Tactus and the man Daggy
My dear Charley— Your message to me in your letter to Catty promising to write to me in such a good hand, is so tempting that I shall certainly send you a full account of my Ball on Thursday & all the particulars of my flirtation with my partners particularly yr friend Snortamalus who I saw to day in great force.— Caroline’s amusing little anecdote at my expense on the other page I beg to contradict as it is quite false.
There is a little Book an account of “The loss of the Kent”6 which is very interesting & I advise you to read it if you can meet with it.— Louisa & Clare Leighton dined here the other day we wanted you and Eras very much to help to romp & flirt with them— I assure you Clare and I talked very sentimentally about you & pitied yr hard fates very much at being so far away from us—
Good byee my dear old Charley | Susan Darwin
A ball and two concerts at Shrewsbury; guests at the Darwins’: Mr and Mrs Mathew, three Mr Clives, Emma Wedgwood.