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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Emma Darwin   [27–8 May 1848]



My dearest dear old Mammy—

I was so very glad to get your letter this morning with as good an account of the Baby, as cd be expected. Poor dear soul you must have had a miserable night on the night of the fit. I am so thankful you had Elizabeth with you; for she of all human beings would be of the greatest comfort to you. Her presence is a blessing & joy to everyone.— I am weak enough today, but think I am improving. My attack was very sudden: it came on with fiery spokes & dark clouds before my eyes; then sharpish shivery & rather bad not very bad sickness. I got up yesterday about 2, & about 7 I felt rather faint & had a slight shaking fit & little vomiting & then slept too heavily; so today am languid & stomach bad, but do not think I shall have any more shivering & I care for nothing else. Susan was very kind to me, but I did yearn for you. Without you, when sick I feel most desolate. I almost doubt whether I shall be able to travel on Monday; but I can write no more now. Old Mrs Sneyd1 is dead: my Father feels most deeply it. Otherwise he is comfortable. Catty’s account of Betley2 is not very cheerful.

Sunday. Again I thank you for a most nice note, with so good an account of the poor Baby. I kept improving gradually all yesterday; but had too sleepless a night, not getting to sleep till long after daylight—so that I am good-for-nothing today, but think I shall escape a shivering fit.— I have given up going tomorrow, partly for my own sake & partly as it would be more convenient to my Father on account of Mark.3 My poor Father had a wretched night last. I will write no more today, but will write again tomorrow. Oh Mammy I do long to be with you & under your protection for then I feel safe

God Bless you. C. D.—

Thank my dear Etty for her nice lit⁠⟨⁠tl⁠⟩⁠e letter & give my love to all our dear children, whom I shall be so glad to see again—


The Sneyds had been close friends of the Darwin family since the time of Erasmus Darwin, CD’s grandfather. The Mrs Sneyd referred to here may be of Blackheath. See Correspondence vol. 2, letter from Emily Catherine Darwin, 15 [January 1837], for Robert Waring Darwin’s request that CD visit her there.
Betley Hall, Staffordshire, home of George Tollet, agricultural reformer and friend of Josiah Wedgwood II. Catherine Darwin had probably been visiting Ellen Harriet and Georgina Tollet. See letter to Emma Darwin, [25 May 1848], for her departure from Shrewsbury.
Mark Briggs, Robert Waring Darwin’s coachman.


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


Has been unwell but is improving. His father also very ill.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.8: 31
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1180,” accessed on 4 June 2023,

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