To Susan Darwin [1 April 1838]
My dear Granny
I suppose Miss Katherine is at Chirk,1 so I will write to you.— I have not, however, any particular news of any kind.— I went to the Captains yesterday evening to drink tea.— it did one good to hear Mrs FitzRoy talk about her baby; it was so beautiful & its little voice was such charming music.— The Captain is going on very well,—that is for a man, who has the most consummate skill in looking at everything & every body in a perverted manner.— He is working very hard at his book which I suppose will really be out in June.— I looked over a few pages of Captain Kings Journal:2 I was absolutely forced against all love of truth to tell the Captain that I supposed it was very good, but in honest reality, no pudding for little shool boys, ever was so heavy.— It abounds with Natural History of a very trashy nature.— I trust the Captain’s own volume will be better.—
I have been riding very regularly for the last fortnight, & it has done me a wonderful deal of good.— I have not been so thoroughily well, since eating two dinner a day at Shrewsbury, & increasing in weight in due proportion.—3
Two days since, when it was very warm, I rode to the Zoological Society, & by the greatest piece of good fortune it was the first time this year, that the Rhinoceros was turned out.— Such a sight has seldom been seen, as to behold the rhinoceros kicking & rearing, (though neither end reached any great height) out of joy.— it galloped up & down its court surprisingly quickly, like a huge cow, & it was marvellous how suddenly it could stop & turn round at the end of each gallop.— The elephant was in the adjoining yard & was greatly amazed at seeing the rhinoceros so frisky: He came close to the palings & after looking very intently, set off trotting himself, with his tail sticking out at one end & his trunk at the other,—squeeling & braying like half a dozen broken trumpets.— I saw also the Ourang-outang in great perfection: the keeper showed her an apple, but would not give it her, whereupon she threw herself on her back, kicked & cried, precisely like a naughty child.— She then looked very sulky & after two or three fits of pashion, the keeper said, “Jenny if you will stop bawling & be a good girl, I will give you the apple.— She certainly understood every word of this, &, though like a child, she had great work to stop whining, she at last succeeded, & then got the apple, with which she jumped into an arm chair & began eating it, with the most contented countenance imaginable.—
So much for Monkey, & now for Miss Martineau, who has been as frisky lately 〈as〉 the Rhinoceros.— Erasmus has been with her noon, morning, and night:—if her character was not as secure, as a mountain in the polar regions she certainly would loose it.— Lyell called there the other day & there was a beautiful rose on the table, & she coolly showed it to him & said “Erasmus Darwin” gave me that.— How fortunate it is, she is so very plain; otherwise I should be frightened: She is a wonderful woman: when Lyell called, he found Rogers, Ld Jeffrys, & Empson calling on her.—4 what a person she is thus to collect together all the geniuses.— Old Rogers seems to a warm admirer of hers.— He says her laugh is so charming, it is “like tickling a child in a cradle.” Was there ever such a simile.—a pretty little baby indeed.— She is very busy at present in making arrangements about her new novel.5 One bookseller has offered 2/3 profits & no risk, but I suppose that is not enough.— I saw a very nice & affectionate letter from Fanny H.6 to her; by which I should think Fanny was becoming more reconciled to the thoughts of the country life.— Do not betray my audacious speeches about cousin Harriott,7 to Erasmus— I long to pay you all a visit, but when I shall be able I do not exactly know,—not probably before June, or July.— I will bring down with me Whewells puff about the Journal:8 which I wish was published & off my mind.—
Love to my father | C Darwin.
FitzRoy is hard at work on his book [Narrative, vol. 2].
CD’s health is improved.
Describes his visit to zoo.
Gives news of E. A. Darwin and Harriet Martineau.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 407,” accessed on 6 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-407