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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Catherine Darwin   [13 November 1848]



My dearest Charles.

You will, I trust be prepared for what I must tell you— Our dear Father died this morning about half past 8— his last end was as little suffering as could be hoped with his complaint— I will tell you all I can since yesterday— He became rather more suffering about 2 o’clock yesterday—after my letter was gone—; but failed rapidly about 5 or 6, in the evening; it was evident that it was drawing to a close.— He went to bed before 8—and mercifully lay down, (tho’ with exhaustion at first,) and continued lying down till about 12 past 12, or sooner, when his breathing compelled him to get up, and he was wheeled into his own room, the effort making him unconscious for a short time;—indeed he all along took it for morning:—about 3 o’clock he was wheeled into the morning room (we were all up) and had a period of great suffering—but mercifully fell into a kind of slumber between 6 and 7 which ended without any return of consciousness;—he remained seated in his Chair.

Susan sat close to him the whole time— Mr Burd came but nothing could be done— The most painful part was the extreme difficulty of understanding him—from his breath being so gone—it was most painful;— Mr Burd called it a very peaceful end— Mark and Thurger one on each side of him the whole night.— Marianne and Caroline are tolerable— poor Susan has had the most incessant trying, but she is supported,—by thinking she was a comfort to him— his consciousness failed latterly.— But his sweetness never failed him—saying “thank you” several times to any thing that was done in his terrible state. We must all give thanks to God that he was spared a very suffering termination of all, which he dreaded so much

The Funeral will be on Saturday—which will give you time to come— by setting out on Thursday, you will be here on Friday.1 Susan is writing to Erasmus. I do not know what day he will come, as he will know it tomorrow. My kindest love to dear Emma—. she will suffer sadly, as all must—

The Funeral must be on Saturday I believe—

God comfort you my dearest Charles. You were so beloved by him | E C D.


Because of illness, CD did not leave Down until Friday, the 17th, and spent the night at Erasmus’s house in London before proceeding to Shrewsbury (see letter to Emma Darwin, [17 November 1848]). He arrived after the funeral had begun and did not attend (Wedgwood and Wedgwood 1980, p. 250).


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


Informs CD of the death of their father and the funeral arrangements.

Letter details

Letter no.
Emily Catherine (Catherine) Darwin/Emily Catherine (Catherine) Langton
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
V&A / Wedgwood Collection (MS W/M 279)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1207,” accessed on 24 September 2023,

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