From Catherine Darwin 29 May 1833
London Regent St.
May 29th. 33.—
My dear Charles
You will be surprised to see the date of this, but Susan & I are enjoying ourselves in London in lodgings with Harry & Jessie as Chaperons.— We came up just a week ago, and have been exceedingly busy and gay ever since;— we mean to be here three weeks altogether, if the money will hold out, for it goes at an awful rate in London. It is very long now since we heard from you my dear Charles, and I am afraid it will still be very long, before we can hope to hear again. Caroline wrote to you last, the end of April; the Mails have changed back again now to the first Tuesday in the month.— We have seen Capt Harding, since Caroline wrote to you; he came to consult Papa, and looked terribly out of health; he seemed to be a very gentlemanlike man, with very pleasing manners; he gave us a long account of you, and your enthusiasm, and enjoyment, and I enjoyed seeing a person, who had seen you in the last 8 months. Capt Harding was going out to St Helena immediately to fetch his bride Miss Dona Dallas; it is said that the Dallas are all going to return to England soon, as the Governorship of St Helena is to be recalled.— I hope we shall soon see Mr Charles Hughes, who is on his return home now; it is a great pity he is forced to leave Buenos Ayres before you return to it.— We see a great deal of Erasmus now, as our Lodgings are not very far from his, and he is goodnatured and pleasant, we enjoy it very much. Driving in his Cab is one of the pleasantest things possible, and he drives so very well, I am not afraid even in a London crowd. He seems to be more in love than ever with Fanny Hensleigh, and almost lives at Clapham. Papa has long been alarmed for the consequences, & expects to see an action in the Papers. I think the real danger is with Emma Wedgwood, who I suspect Mr Erasmus to be more in love with, than appears, or than perhaps he knows himself. All the Maer Wedgwoods are now staying at Ripley, with the Langtons; Uncle Jos goes down there for his Sundays, but he is obliged to be a great deal in London, on account of Parliament; he has been very unwell and continually feverish, after this Influenza which has been so universal in London. About a month ago, people say that London looked as if it had the Plague; all the theatres stopped as 24 of the Singers were in bed, many of the Shops were closed; ninety clerks were in bed at the Bank of England, so that the business could hardly go on; it was not very fatal however, but much suffering while it lasted. We have all escaped it.— I am afraid you will find Maer still more sadly changed by the time you return, as poor Aunt Bessy’s health is in a very precarious state; she had 3 fits in one day lately, which Papa thinks exceedingly dangerous. They do not seem to be aware at Maer, of the danger of these fits.— Papa and Caroline are alone at home now; we left dear Papa very well, and in very good spirits. He is become so spirited in touring, that he and Caroline went very lately another very beautiful Tour in Yorkshire; they went by Liverpool which Papa had never seen, saw the Rail Road, but did not go on it; then went on to the beautiful Yorkshire Abbeys, and so on to York Cathedral, and home by Litchfield; they were absent about ten days, and the Tour answered most perfectly to Papa, who enjoyed it most exceedingly and cam〈e〉 back in much better health than he st〈arted.〉
Do you remember the Evans of Portrane in Ireland? Mr Evans is Member for the county of Dublin, so they are in London, and are very nice friends for us. We are going with them and a large party down to Richmond by Steam on Saturday, dine there, and return in the Evening.— Mrs Evans enquired very much after you, and said that she could not conceive any thing she should enjoy more than your Voyage.— Sarah Williams is the most cordial, friendly person that ever lived; we find her invaluable in taking us about; she has a beautiful house in Belgrave Square, rather out of London;—but she is sadly out of health, and what is very odd, thinks so very much of her health herself, that Papa, and all her own family consider her as a regular hypochondriac. I suppose it is owing to Mr Williams petting her so exceedingly, and taking so much care of her.— Is it not the oddest change in the world? Sarah is just the very last Person I should have thought would have become full of health.— Poor dear Fanny Biddulph is very slowly recovering from her confinement; she had a little girl on the 7th of May; (think of Fanny as a Mother!!) Susan & I have been to see her continually; she looks deplorably ill & weak, and very lonely all alone in her London house; as for some extraordinary whim, Mr Owen would not let Mrs Owen come up to her confinement, so the poor thing was all alone. Mr Biddulph seems fond & affectionate to her, but he is a gay dissipated man, and desperately selfish also.
Goodbye my dearest Charles. Erasmus desires his best love to you, and with Susan’s, believe me my dear old Charley whom I long to hear from again, believe me ever yrs. | Catherine
Notes on cover, in Robert FitzRoy’s hand: ‘The Snake has another packet at Maldonado—not the Snake in the grass.’1
She and Susan are in London, and she writes of people they have seen or had news of: Captain Harding, E. A. Darwin, Fanny [Mrs Hensleigh] Wedgwood, Emma Wedgwood, the Langtons, Josiah Wedgwood and Aunt Bessie, Fanny Biddulph and child, and the Evanses of Portrane.