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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Emma Darwin   [24 June 1846]1



My dearest old Soul

I was exceedingly glad to get your letter, with so wonderfully good an account of your voyage & of the dear little souls happiness;2 I am glad you took them. Do you not think you had better come back by land? & had you better not stay more than a fortnight, I propose it to you in bonâ fide & wish you to do so, though I do long to have mine own wife back again. Yesterday was gloomy & stormy; I was sick in middle of day, but two pills of opium righted me surprisingly afterwards: however I was extremely glad that Sulivan did not make his appearance.3 The house is getting on well,4 though Lewis5 had a quarrel & turned off all his carpenters: Lucy6 was very goodnatured & took keen interest about one man, whose wife has come from a distance with a Baby & is taken very ill— The poor man was crying with misery, but we have persuaded Lewis to take him back again.

At last the flower garden is looking gay.—

I have been getting on very badly with my work as it has been extremely difficult & I have had so many letters to write.—

Etty7 was very charming, though I did not see much of her yesterday; she is very affectionate to her dolls, but at last got tired of them, & declared with great emphasis, that “she would have a real live Baby” & “Mamma shall buy one for me”— I asked to send a message to you, “say A. B. S, say, big woman in little letter”

Give my very best love to all at Penailly I enclose A. Sarah’s8 letter; I have strongly recommended to bring Henry, but can not repeat all reasons: I have spoken doubtfully about Horse & Phaeton.9

Goodbye, my own old dearest. Kiss the children for me. Etty often talks about them. | Your affect. | C. D.


The date is based on Emma’s notation ‘I at Tenby’ and the notation on letter to Emma Darwin, [25 June 1846], ‘June 1846 to me at Tenby’. The date also accords with the end of Bartholomew James Sulivan’s voyage on 19 June 1846.
Emma took William and Anne Darwin to Tenby, a seaside resort and fishing village in Wales. Several of Emma’s aunts lived there: Emma and Fanny Allen, Jessie Sismondi, and Harriet Surtees. Emma and the children stayed for eighteen days, returning home by 7 July. See CD’s Account Book (Down House MS) 7 July 1846 and letter to Emma Darwin, [25 June 1846].
Sulivan had just returned from South America. Possibly CD had invited Sulivan to come to Down before meeting him in London on 29 June. See letter to Richard Owen, 21 [June 1846].
According to CD’s Account Book (Down House MS) payments of £150 and £199 for alterations were made to ‘Mr Laslett’ on 13 June and 27 August 1846. Isaac Laslett was the bricklayer in Down.
Presumably a servant at Down House.
Henrietta Emma, who was almost three years old.
Sarah Elizabeth (Sarah) Wedgwood, CD and Emma’s aunt.
Probably a reference to Sarah Wedgwood’s plans to move to Down in 1847. Here she lived the life of a recluse and, according to Henrietta Litchfield, ‘her horse and phaeton seemed to be kept entirely for our service’ (Emma Darwin 2: 105). Henry Hemmings was one of Sarah Wedgwood’s servants (Emma Darwin 2: 106).


News of progress in remodelling. He and Etty [Henrietta] miss the rest of the family.

Was sick, but "two pills of opium righted me".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Emma Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.8: 24
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 982,” accessed on 25 May 2018,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3