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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Emma Darwin   [23 April 1851]


Wed. | before post time

My own dearest

I have just sent off my return note by Parslow1 for the chance of it reaching you sooner. The oftener I read over your letter of Monday the more hopeful it made me. Your minute accounts are such a comfort & I enjoyed the spunging our dear one with vinegar as much as you did. I have been thinking about a few slops that might suit her when she can take a little food but it is more for the pleasure of fancying I have something to do for her or think of for her If the bowels shd be too loose I believe rice gruel is a very good innocent food & binding (viz rice boiled for many hours till it loses shape & the solid part drained away.) it perhaps might be flavoured with cinnamon or currant jelly. Whey from milk is another harmless drink & very digestible I believe & a good deal of the nourishment of the milk in it without the heavy part. Aunt F. says it is slightly opening so that I am doubtful about it. I should think a spoonful of raw yolk of egg beat up in hot water & a little salt might be a change when you can venture.

But your difficulty will not be in the variety but in venturing to give her any quantity of any thing. Eliz. came at 2 having slept at Southampton.2 She is quite hopeful from the last accounts. I try to prepare my mind for a great deal more anxiety & draw backs.

I am afraid Cath. will be mortified if she is not made use of & when Fanny goes & you are not quite so anxious I think she would be of the greatest use & comfort to you. How kind Fanny is. I have heard from Caroline. Etty very well & happy she says “I will take the greatest care of her & I think I shall be able to make her feel friendly & comfortable with me should she have any little trouble or hurt. I am deeply touched at your writing to me at such a time & I can indeed with truth say it is impossible to feel more for you than Jos & I do.!”3 She had recd Fanny’s account which gave her much more hope. Willy4 is very eager to hear how she is every day & tho’ I tell him all the changes I don’t think he realizes the real fear. I was sending down the little ones in Eliz. fly yesterday as far as At S.5 to be out of the way, when Franky6 asked what the drivers name was & fell into such a fright at been driven by a stranger, tho’ Parslow was going also, that I had him out & he was a long time getting to rights.

(After post. Alas my own how shall we bear it. It is very bitter but I shall not be ill. Thank dear F7


The previous letter. Joseph Parslow was the Darwins’ butler.
Elizabeth Wedgwood had been staying in Jersey and travelled via steamer to Southampton before proceeding to Down (Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 132).
Caroline refers to the grief she and Josiah Wedgwood III experienced when Sophy Marianne Wedgwood, their first child, died at the age of seven weeks in January 1839.
William Erasmus Darwin, CD’s oldest son, then 11 years old.
Sarah Elizabeth (Sarah) Wedgwood, who lived at Petleys, close to Down House.
Francis Darwin, then nearly 212 years old.
The final paragraph, written in pencil, refers to a letter from Fanny Mackintosh Wedgwood (preserved in DAR 210.13) dated ‘Tuesday 21st’ (a mistake for 22 April) that reads: My dearest Emma— I am thankful that you felt there was much to fear in yr note yesterday for I grieve to write you a worse report this evening there has been a change today & signs of sinking— I tell you every thing just as it is my dearest Emma & thankful also for the mercy that is given us of there being not the least appearance of any suffering in your sweet patient darling— Charles had written you this morning—too hopefully & he will not send it & cannot write you this himself— he is gone to lie down & has gone through much fatigue— her night was not disturbed & less wandering than the night before but the effort of the fever throwing itself off from the bowels is more than her strength seems able to bear & she has lost strength every time— we are now giving brandy & Ammonia every qr of an hour—which she takes with no difficulty— Dr Gully is just gone—he thinks her in imminent danger & not having gained ground— Fanny [Allen] will send us a word for all our sorrowing anxiety is for you now my Emma in this great suffering— God support & raise you for Charles sake— I need not say that if any change for the better wch is always possible with a child shd be given us—you shall have a message— But I have told you the worst— Oh that I should have to send you such sad sad news— Our only comfort will be to hear of you— I have persuaded Charles to lie down for a while Thank you for yr sweet note Your affec | FEW


Emma Darwin (1915): Emma Darwin: a century of family letters, 1792–1896. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1915.


Tells of the hopes raised by CD’s letter of Monday regarding Anne’s health.

Letter details

Letter no.
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.13: 26
Physical description
AL 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1411,” accessed on 29 May 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5