skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Susan Darwin   12 February [– 3 March] 1832


February 12th. 1832

I must begin this folio by wishing you joy my dear Charley of being this day 23 years old; and I heartily hope it may find you happy, and that you may continue so for many and many a year to come.— Our plan as you may perceive is always for each of us to take you every three Months in turn & Febry. is my share.— Also another plan we have adopted by Caroline’s suggestion is, never to go forwards, (I mean by that telling you what we have in contemplation) but on the contrary only to relate past events or else you would get confused & our letters would not answer the purpose of a Journal which I think is always most satisfactory in absences.— I am in spite of myself beginning to watch the Post in expectation of seeing an outlandish letter arrive: for if you have been lucky in meeting a Ship we might hear by this time I suppose from Madeira— Papa is more sensible & declares he will not begin to expect till March.— The only event which has happened this last week is poor old Mrs. Darwin’s death; who died at the Priory the 5th. of this Month; we are all gone into Mourning this day being Sunday: but of course this does not matter for you— I believe she was 84 years old and was ill about a fortnight.— Sir Francis & Lady Darwin will I conclude leave their mountainous abode1 & come to the Priory now, which the latter must prefer to the society of Eagles & Wild Boars.—

I repented last week that we had no intercourse with the Galtons2 as Paganini has been performing several nights at Birmingham & I heard the Miss Galtons all attended the Theatre: If it had not been for Mrs. Darwin death Papa most good naturedly proposed a scheme that we should have gone with Harry & Jessie to hear him which would have been delightful— That couple are spending a fortnight with us & we find them very agreeable inmates they fall into all our ways so nicely. They take to the Rubber of Whist as kindly as possible, & Harry for our benefit reads aloud a corrected copy of “Joseph Andrews”3 which with plenty of skipibus we find very amusing— I think they will not bear living at Etruria much longer they both seem to hate the Potteries so cordially.—

I think there is great hopes that Charlotte Langton will settle hereafter in Shropshire Lord Craven has so many livings in this County at his disposal. The one I shd like them to have is Wistanstow very near the Craven Arms in a beautiful situation amongst the Clee Hills.—4

Hills put me in mind of Rocks & Stones &c & Papa bid me tell you with his love that he asked Mr Hughes to save any Shells for you in the Gravel Pit5 that he might find: but he says there are none that you would care for.—

Catherine has been staying the last two days at Woodhouse to entertain Fanny whilst Mrs. Owen & her one Chick Caroline went to spend the week at Aqualate6 for the Newport Hunt. Mr. Biddulph cannot come down fr. London till the Reform question is settled,7 & then the Marriage is to take place immediately & after spending the Honeymoon at Chirk they return to London. John Hill has just had a Living given him by one of his Uncles worth 600£ a year & Mrs. Drewe Corbet says he intended proposing again to Fanny & is very much vexed at just being too late. I cannot help being sorry for him tho’ it is more than he deserves after his cold hearted behaviour.—

The more I hear of Mr. Biddulph the more I think he will make dear Fanny happy. he appears so very affectionate, not only to her, but to his Mother, which tells well for his character: I was nearly a week at Woodhouse whilst he was there, & tho’ I thought him very agreeable I found him a very difficult person to get acquainted with & I feel rather a horror of going to visit at Chirk Castle.

Febry. 19th.

Another week has brought more news: for Frank Wedgwood is now engaged to be married to a Miss Mosley daughter of a Clergyman of good family in Derbyshire. he staid in the house with her a week at Loxley & some other place & then proposed to her. she wd. not accept him at once, but had him for trial another week at her father’s house & now all is settled— She is very fat & not at all pretty, but exceedingly good tempered & a famous scrattle 8 so I daresay she will make him an excellent wife. None of his family have ever seen her except Harry, but she is to come & shew off at Maer, probably when Mr Langton makes his first appearance which will be very comical.— That good Charlotte has invited us all three to go to her Wedding & you shall have a long account of it from Caroline, for it will take place about the 15th. of March.— I foresee Maer will soon be qu⁠⟨⁠ite deserted⁠⟩⁠ for I expect Fanny & Emma to follow this mad m⁠⟨⁠arrying⁠⟩⁠ example before this year is over.—

I am now staying at Overton with Marianne and her 4 ⁠⟨⁠boys⁠⟩⁠ who are all very well & happy. Parky has been enquiring from me when Uncle Charles will come back, which is a question I cannot answer.— Dr. P. seems in very good spirits & ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠

I have just been reading the “Mutiny of the Bounty” in the Family Library it is a very old story but very interesting from Beecheys account of the happy state he found the Mutineers in at Pitcairn’s Island.9 I daresay you have Beecheys Voyage with you as Capt Fitzroy you said had such a large collection of Travels on board.— Catty & I dined at Onslow10 last Thursday & I met there a Capt Meynard who put me to the blush for my Uncle Sir Francis Darwin by telling me he travelled with him in Greece & that Sir F’s chief sport was disfiguring & mutilating all the Statues he came across.— This same Capt M. told me this was the time for all Ships to leave England & not return, so I fear yr letter will not meet with a conveyance so soon as I had hoped.— The Cholera has broken out in London so you have chosen yr time well for leaving England as now I suppose every town most likely will have its turn.— Mrs. Williams has just got into her new house in Belgrave St. but she cannot enjoy it much for she is ill with a very bad Cough, which she thinks is the Hooping Cough.— She has sent for yr direction & means to write to you.—

Poor Sam Beck has been getting worse & worse ever since you left home & now he is quite dying. Papa is just gone to see him. He is Dead—11 Our Hot house is quite finished & we have got several Pines & plants in it. Papa sits there a great deal & it answers very well as a hobby for him. we have had pipes laid down in the Greenhouse & the regular warmth of the hot water makes the morning room very comfortable as it was apt to get very cold at night.—

I am come back to Shrewsbury now. Mariannes new little boy is to be christened Charles after his 2 Uncles of that name for Dr. Parker’s eldest brother in India is Charles.— You really must not blame me if Eras does not write to you for I regularly send him a Dun in every Postscript. he is now quite buried alive in a little Lab he has set up in his Lodgings which makes him quite forget times & seasons.— If he comes down at Easter I will stand over him & torment his heart out about writing to you.— I am afraid after all I shall be obliged to close this without hearing [ yr pen] dear old Charley for March is come & this must go— All yr friends about are beginning to ask us if we have heard from you yet, & some say you got so much good wine at the Madeiras it was impossible you cd. write to us, but I know as soon as ever this is safe gone we shall all give a scream & Edward will present us with a Letter from you.—

I have one more Marriage to finish up with, but nothing very interesting: your charming Cousin Lucy Galton is engaged to marry Mr Moilliet: the eldest son of a very fat Mrs. Moilliet, who was once here, I forget if you were at home. The young Gentleman has a good fortune, so of course the match gives great satisfaction. I expect every day to hear Bessy & William Fox’s marriage announced as I can’t see what they are waiting for.— As I have no new Direction I must take my chance at Rio Janeiro.

All our affectionate Loves to you Dearest Charles & I am Ever Yrs most particularly Susan E Darwin.

I have played a good deal of Music this winter for yr sake.—


Francis Sacheverel Darwin had married Jane Harriett Ryle in 1815; he was knighted in 1820. The ‘mountainous abode’ was at Sydnope, Derbyshire (see also letter to W. D. Fox, [1 April 1830]).
The novel by Henry Fielding (1742).
A range of hills, the highest in the county, in south-west Shropshire.
CD mentions the Shrewsbury gravel pit in the Autobiography, p. 69, where he recalled Adam Sedgwick’s reaction on being told that a tropical shell had been found there: ‘if really embedded there it would be the greatest misfortune to geology, as it would overthrow all that we know about the superficial deposits of the midland counties.’ CD continued: ‘Nothing before had ever made me thoroughly realise … that science consists in grouping facts so that general laws or conclusions may be drawn from them.’
Aqualate Mere is a small lake on the western border of Staffordshire near the market town of Newport.
The House of Commons passed the Reform Bill on 23 March. It became law on 7 June 1832.
A dialect word. As used by the Darwins it usually has the sense of keeping accounts or being economical (see Emma Darwin (1915) 1: 139).
The following sentence, which had been written after ‘Pitcairn’s Island.’ was deleted: ‘I am afraid there is no chance of yr having it with you.’
Onslow, near Shrewsbury, was the seat of Colonel John Wingfield (Burke’s Landed Gentry 1952).
‘He is Dead’ was added as an interlineation.


Autobiography: The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809–1882. With original omissions restored. Edited with appendix and notes by Nora Barlow. London: Collins. 1958.

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


Chronicles the events of February, principally of the family and of a few friends: engagements, marriages, deaths, some visits.

Letter details

Letter no.
Susan Elizabeth Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
MA 3 1832
Source of text
DAR 204: 95
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 160,” accessed on 23 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 1