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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Mary Congreve1   27 October [1821]2

My dear Mr. Charles

I find I have only just time to thank you for your entertaining letter, as if I take time to write what I intended I shall not be able to get it franked3 & I’m sure it will not be worth the postage, I should have liked to have seen the good Gentleman Grin that you mention there is no doubt but those that were out of the Scrape were much amused, I assure you I wish’d much you had been of our party on thursday night at the play, I think you would have been highly entertained both with the Coronation,4 and the entertainment of Monsieur Tonson,5 I never laugh’d so much at a play I think, I dare say you have been much amused with Mr. Alexander6 & I hope I shall hear some specimenes of his art from you when I return, as I dare say it is practiced in School Lane, so god bless you as I am obliged to conclude this ever believe me | Yours truly M Congreve

Saturday 27th Oct

I think you will not be able with all your Greek knowledge to read this precious Scrawl


The writer is referred to in an obituary notice in the Salopian Journal, 5 February 1823, as ‘eldest sister to the late General Sir William Congreve, Bart and aunt to the present.’ See also the letter from E. A. Darwin, 5 [March 1823].
The letter is dated from the reference to Mr Alexander (see n. 6, below).
Peers, Members of Parliament, and Officers of State had the privilege of free mail. ‘Franks’ (covers addressed, dated, and signed by the holder of the privilege) were distributed freely among constituents and friends. In 1821 Miss Congreve’s nephew, Sir William Congreve, was M.P. for Plymouth.
A pageant representation of the coronation of George IV, produced by Robert William Elliston at the Drury Lane Theatre (Genest 1832, 9: 96–7).
A farce by William Thomas Moncrieff, based on a dramatic poem by John Taylor, read, but not performed, at Drury Lane on 20 September 1821 (DNB; Genest 1832, 9: 96).
The Salopian Journal of 17 October 1821 records the performance of Monsieur Alexandre (Nicolas Marie Alexandre Vattemare), a ventriloquist, at the Royal Free Grammar School of Shrewsbury on 12 October. School Lane, now called School Gardens, was immediately adjacent to the school.


DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Genest, John. 1832. Some account of the English stage, from the Restoration in 1660 to 1830. 10 vols. Bath and London.


Writes about London plays; wishes CD had been of the party.

Letter details

Letter no.
Mary Congreve
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 204: 186
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1,” accessed on 13 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 1