To Emma Wedgwood [14 November 1838]
My dear Emma
Marianne & Susan will have told you what joy and happiness the news gave all here. We have had innumerable cogitations and geese after the cogitations; and the one conclusion, I exult in, is that there never was anybody so lucky as I have been, or so good as you.— Indeed I can assure you, many times, since leaving Maer, I have thought how little I expressed, how much I owe to you; and as often as I think this, I vow to try to make myself good enough somewhat to deserve you.—
I hope you have taken deep thought about the sundry knotty points you will have to decide on.— We must have a great deal of talk together, when I come back on Saturday.— do have a fire in the Library—it is a such a good place to have some quiet talks together.— The question of houses,—suburbs versus central London,—rages violently around each fire place in this house.— Suburbs have rather the advantage at present; & this, of course, rather inclines one to seek out the argument on the other side.— The Governor gives much good advice to live, wherever it may be, the first year prudently & quietly. My chief fear is, that you will find after living all your life with such large & agreeable parties, as Maer only can boast of, our quiet evenings dull.— You must bear in mind, as some young lady said, ‘all men are brutes’, and that I take the line of being a solitary brute, so you must listen with much suspicion to all arguments in favour of retired places. I am so selfish, that I feel to have you to myself, is having you so much more completely, that I am not to be trusted. Like a child that has something it loves beyond measure, I long to dwell on the words my own dear Emma.— as I am writing, just as things come uppermost in my mind, I beg of you not to read my letters to anyone, for then I can fancy, I am sitting by the side of my own dear future wife, & to her own self, I do not care what nonsense I talk:—so let me have my way, & scribble, without caring whether it be sense or nonsense.—
I had a letter from Caroline yesterday, full of kindest & tenderest expressions towards us both.— I do not mean to tell anyone in Shropshire, till I leave; but I have written to Erasmus, & I am well sure he will most heartily congratulate. My father echos & reechos Uncle Jos’ words ‘you have drawn a prize!’ Certainly no man could by possibility receive a more cordial welcome, that I did from everyone at Maer on Monday morning.— My life has been very happy & very fortunate and many of my pleasantest remembrances are mingled up with scenes at Maer, & now it is crowned.— My own dear Emma, I kiss the hands with all humbleness and gratitude, which have so filled up for me the cup of happiness— it is my most earnest wish, I may make myself worthy of you.
Good bye | Most affectionately Yours | Chas Darwin
I would tear this letter up & write it again, for it is a very silly one, but I cant write a better one.—
Since writing the former part, the Post has brought in your own dear note to Katty. You tell me to be a good boy, & so I must be,—but let me earnestly beg of you not to make up your mind, in a hurry.— You say truly Elizabeth never thinks of herself, but there is another person, who never thinks of herself, but now she has to think of two people,—& I am, thank Heaven for it, that other person.— You must be absolute arbitress, but do dear Emma, remember life is short, & two months is the sixth part of the year, & that year, the first, from which for my part, things shall hereafter date. Whatever you do will be right,—but it will be too good to be unselfish for me, until I am part of you, dearest Emma.
In his first letter after their engagement, CD reports on the happy reception of the news by his family. He hopes she will not find life with him solitary and dull after the lively social life of Maer.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 437,” accessed on 19 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-437