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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Emma Darwin to T. H. Farrer   [16 October 1877]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.


Dear Mr Farrer

It was pleasant to receive your cordial letter & to feel that you really cared about all our joys & sorrows—2

Charles desires me to say how kind he thought your letter— at the same time he thought the cream of it lay in the P.S. about the beloved worms & not in any such trifles as marrying &c—3

He is very much pleased to hear what success you are having.

The more we see of Sara Sedgwick the more we feel how well she will join into the family & how nice & tasteful she is besides having the more sterling qualities—4

It is pleasant to her to see how she has been welcomed by all the outsiders as well as our immediate set & Effie’s charming little note was duly appreciated by both—5

I trust we shall hear in a day or two that dear Fanny has not suffered by the transit.6

yours very sincerely | E. Darwin


The date is established by CD’s second note on letter from T. H. Farrer, 23 September 1877, and by the public announcement of Sara Sedgwick and William Erasmus Darwin’s engagement (see n. 2, below). In 1877, 16 October was a Tuesday.
Farrer’s letter has not been found, but he probably wrote to congratulate the Darwins on the engagement of Sara to William and to commiserate on the news of Richard Buckley Litchfield’s recent illness (see letter to H. E. Litchfield, 4 October [1877] and n. 2). Sara had accepted William’s proposal of marriage in late September, but the engagement was kept secret until Sara’s family in America had heard the news (letter from W. E. Darwin to H. E. Litchfield, (see letter from W. E. Darwin to H. E. Litchfield, [28 September 1877] (DAR 219.8: 32)). Their engagement was publicly announced on 13 October 1877 (letter from Elizabeth Darwin to Ida Farrer, 12 October [1877] (DAR 258: 565)).
Farrer had sent CD weekly reports on the worm activity at an archaeological dig at his home, Abinger Hall, Dorking, Surrey, from 26 August to 13 October 1877 (see letter from T. H. Farrer, 26 August 1877 and n. 1, and Earthworms, pp. 176–88).
Sara visited Down from 13 to 24 October 1877 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Katherine Euphemia (Effie) Farrer was Farrer’s wife.
Frances Emma Elizabeth (Fanny) Wedgwood was Effie’s mother. She had been ill since May and had been staying with the Farrers at Abinger Hall since July (see letter from Emma Darwin to H. E. Litchfield, [25 May 1877] (DAR 219.9: 146), and letter from Emma Darwin to W. E. Darwin, [8 July 1877] (DAR 219: 96)).


Earthworms: The formation of vegetable mould through the action of worms: with observations on their habits. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1881.


CD desires her to say that the cream of THF’s letter of congratulations about William [Darwin]’s marriage [to Sara Sedgwick] lay in the P.S. about "the beloved worms, and not in any such trifles as marrying, &c".

Letter details

Letter no.
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st baronet and 1st Baron Farrer
Sent from
Source of text
Linnean Society of London (LS Ms 299/28)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11268,” accessed on 31 March 2023,