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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Emma Darwin   [22 May 1848]



My dear Mammy

I have been so sorry that I ever asked you to send the Newspaper at all earlier than usual, as I quite forgot there were visitors with you;1 so do not send them anymore. Indeed I cannot read the old papers, though the Globe2 is simply damnable.— My Father kept pretty well yesterday, but he has had a bad night & is much oppressed in his breathing this morning: but he means to go into the town: his legs are very dropsical, but he does not seem much afraid of that.

Yesterday Marianne & Frank3 came up: he is a monstrous fine man, but not actually handsome, with pleasant laughing manners. I am certain from looks & no answers, that he has some lovering with some rich lady, but it is some tremendous secret. Marianne appeared pretty well. It is very provoking, but I feel almost sure, that the cold-bathing, though I now like it & it makes me feel very vigorous for an hour or two, knocks me up for the rest of the day, & I have not used it this day, for I was very heavy all yesterday. I was speculating yesterday, how fortunate it was, that I had plenty of employment (& an employment which I do not consider mere amusement) for being employed alone makes me forget myself: really yesterday I was not able to forget my stomach for 5 minutes all day long.

I have read, since being here, Evelyn’s life of Mrs Godolphin;4 it is very pretty, but she is too virtuous, & too nun-like; her great beauty counterbalances some of her virtue; if she had been ugly & so very good she would have been odious— tell this sentiment to your Aunt Sarah5 & see what she will say.— The ladies here are delighted with your story of Willy6 & the smashed dog at the Hermitage7 & Aunt Sarah.— I am, also, reading an Eng. trans. of M. Sevigne8 & like it much.

Give my love to all the dear children & bless them. You are a good old mammy | Yours | C. D.

The black-caps sing here so beautifully.


Emma Darwin’s diary records that her sisters Elizabeth Wedgwood and Charlotte Langton, and Charlotte’s son Edmund, were staying at Down.
The Globe, a London evening paper founded in 1803 and a leading Whig organ until 1866 when it became Conservative. The editions preceding this letter presented a cynical view of the aims of the new National Assembly established on 4 May 1848 in Paris. On 18 May, just after the riots in Paris, the Globe roundly criticised the French assembly for not taking precautions against insurrection, as the British government had done during the Chartist protests of 10 April.
Marianne and Francis Parker, CD’s sister and nephew. Francis was then nineteen.
John Evelyn’s Life of Mrs Godolphin ([Wilburforce] ed. 1847) is the account of a very saintly maid of honour at the court of James II. CD records having finished it on 31 May 1848, with the note: ‘(pretty)’ (DAR 119; Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV).
Sarah Elizabeth (Sarah) Wedgwood, who lived in Down village.
William Erasmus Darwin, CD and Emma’s oldest child.
The home of Henry Allen (Harry) and Jessie Wedgwood in Woking, Surrey. Harry was Emma’s brother.
Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, Marquise de Sévigné, famous for her letters to her daughter Françoise Marguerite, Comtesse de Grignan, and her friends. Several translations of the letters into English had appeared by 1848.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

[Wilburforce, Samuel], ed. 1847. Life of Mrs Godolphin. By John Evelyn.


His health not good.

Has been reading John Evelyn’s Life of Mrs Godolphin, and Mme Sévigné.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.8: 28
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1177,” accessed on 21 June 2024,

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