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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Emma Darwin   [20–1 May 1848]1



My dear Mammy

Though this will not go today, I will write a bit of Journal, which “in point of fact” is a Journal of all our healths. My Father kept pretty well all yesterday, but was able to talk for not more than 10 minutes at a time till after dinner when he talked the whole evening most wonderfully well & cheerfully. It is an inexpressible pleaseure, that he has twice told me that he is very comfortable, & that his want of breath does not distress him at all like the dyeing sensation, which he now very seldom has. That he thought with care he might live a good time longer, & that when he dyed, it would probably be suddenly which was best. Thrice over he has said that he was very comfortable, which was so much more than I expected. Catherine2 has been having wretched nights, but her spirits appear to me as good as used formerly to be.— Lastly for myself, I was a little sick yesterday, but upon the whole very comfortable & I had a splendid good night & am extraordinary well today.—

Thanks for your very nice letter received this morning with all the news about the dear children: I suppose now & be hanged to you, you will allow Annie is something. I believe, as Sir J. L3 said of his friend, that she a second Mozart, any how she is more than a Mozart, considering her Darwin blood. I am very much puzzled what Annies inciting incident can be. This morning much rain, wind & cold. I have great fears we shall not have our Clock, for I think my Father likes it.— Farewell for today.—

Sunday All goes on flourishing, though I was sick last night, but not very bad.— Susan arrived at 8 oclock in tremendous spirits. The tour had answered most brilliantly. She never saw such trees, such post-horses, such civil waiter & such good dinners.4 And as for Frank Parker5 she is in love with him. It has done her a world of good.—

What a very good girl you are to write me such very nice letters, telling me all I like to hear; though you have not mentioned the 2 new Azaleas.—

Hensleigh thinks he has settled the Free Will question,6 but heredetariness practically demonstrates, that we have none whatever. One might have thought that signing one’s names to one’s letter was an open point, but it seems it is all settled for us; for Sophy7 will not sign or make a common ending any more than Jos8 or Uncle Tom.—9 I daresay not a word of this note is really mine; it is all hereditary, except my love for you, which I shd think could not be so, but who knows?

Yours | C. D.

You were quite right to send the Barnacles; but mind that in all ordinary cases, they must instantly be put in spirits.


This and the next four letters to Emma Darwin were written during CD’s visit to Shrewsbury, 17 May to 1 June 1848.
Emily Catherine Darwin, CD’s younger sister.
John William Lubbock, CD’s neighbour in Down.
Susan Darwin had been to Lincolnshire to visit the property she owned, which was close to CD’s Beesby farm. See letter to John Higgins, 6 June [1848].
Francis Parker, born in 1829, third son of Marianne and Henry Parker and nephew of CD and Susan.
Hensleigh Wedgwood, who was at that time writing on the development of human understanding for Wedgwood 1848. Free will is discussed on pp. 63–78.
Katherine Elizabeth Sophy, six-year-old daughter of Caroline and Josiah Wedgwood III and CD’s niece.
Probably Thomas Wedgwood, younger brother of Josiah Wedgwood II and CD and Emma’s uncle. Although Tom Wedgwood died before either CD or Emma were born, he was much talked about in the family (Wedgwood and Wedgwood 1980). CD’s point seems to be that individuals from three different generations of the Wedgwood family possessed the same distinctive trait.


Wedgwood, Barbara and Wedgwood, Hensleigh. 1980. The Wedgwood circle, 1730–1897: four generations of a family and their friends. London: Studio Vista.

Wedgwood, Hensleigh. 1848. On the development of the understanding. London. [Vols. 4,8]


Reports on his father’s health, and Catherine’s. CD, himself, has been a little sick.

Hensleigh [Wedgwood] thinks he has settled the free-will question – "we have none whatsoever".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.8: 27
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1176,” accessed on 7 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 4