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Darwin Correspondence Project

From William Mostyn Owen Sr    1 March 1832

Woodhouse

March 1st.

My Dear Charles Darwin,

I have been much longer than I intended in commencing this Letter, & simply because, knowing I could do it any day, I have from day to day postponed it, perhaps expecting also that I might have something more interesting to communicate, & to render a stupid Letter somewhat more acceptable. Your own Family however will no doubt be before me in relating any news or Gossip this barren land produces, let me wait as long as I please to collect it— I will therefore delay no longer or flatter myself that I can write any thing that has not already been told you or that will make my Letter more welcome to day than it would have been some weeks ago. But this I am nevertheless happy & vain enough to believe that my Letter come when it will & whatever may be its contents will be as welcome as I assure you one from you will always be to me, provided it brings good tidings of you. I heard of you repeatedly before you left Plymouth & regretted exceedingly the bad Weather which for some time retarded your sailing & drove you back into Port, & hope your progress has not since been interrupted by any misfortune or disagreeable occurrence. I trust & pray too that you may be satisfied & pleased with your Situation & with the undertaking in which you have embarked, though at the same time I have the consolation of knowing that should you not be pleased or like to prosecute the Voyage throughout, you may halt wherever & whenever you please & can find your way home again— That you will do so however I do not expect, for I heard you were most perfectly satisfied with your Capt & companions & I dare say are by this time as much at home & at your ease in the Ship as any of them. The first place you expected to touch at I think was Madeira, & from thence I hope we may now very soon expect to hear from you.— Instead of indulging in these conjectures further let me now endeavour to recollect & to communicate all that has happen’d in which you are likely to feel any Interest since you left us— And first if you will not call me a stupid Egotist I will begin with my own Family— Sarah I believe you know was engaged, & I think was married to Mr. Williams just about the time you sail’d, & I hope & believe is very happy— Now in London but pass’d about two Months at Eaton.— Fanny who return’d out of Devonshire to attend her Sister’s wedding you will perhaps be surprised to hear has also found another admirer in the Man who we last year rather thought admired her Sister & is now engaged to marry Mr. Biddulph, & I hope the event will have taken place before this reaches you.— Though I am afraid he is now not very rich & indeed probably never will be so, considering the large place &c he has to keep up & live at, it is certainly what the world calls a very great match for her, & I know too it is quite as much a love match on her side as on his, & I think there is every reason to hope she will be happy— I don’t know whether you ever met or are acquainted with him, but he is very good looking & very Gentlemanlike & sensible, though like many others he has at starting been guilty of some foolish acts; & amongst others, he was very near being married to Miss Isabella Forester, & I am afraid lost some money, though nothing like what was said, at Play. But now I hope & believe his follies are at an end & his wild oats sown & that he will make a good husband, for I think you will agree with me in saying, that tho‘ I say it who perhaps ought not to say it, I am sure he will get as amiable & good a Wife as ever was born. He has been introduced to your Father & I believe they are mutually pleased with each other. He laughs & calls him Count Robert of Chirk—I do not mean to his face, but joking with us.— This affair has been as unexpected as unsought for by me or I believe I may add by Fanny herself— who it seems won his heart chiefly by her conduct when her affair with J. Hill was broke off, when he happen’d to be here & was made acquainted with all that pass’d, and he now says, that he then determin’d if she ever gave up J. H. he would try his luck, & this he did on the first opportunity after she returned into this Country so all is well that ends well— And I am most heartily rejoiced that she has nothing to do with such a Woman as Mrs Hill, between whom & Dr. Dugard you have I dare say been told there has been a grand explosion lately occasion’d by his asserting that she had employ’d him to get Miss Cleg for Sir Rowland with her 4 or 500,000£ for which & other services he made a demand of 2000£ which was not acceded to & occasion’d a great blow up, & though the Doctor has had the worst of the encounter & been obliged to recant many People think he has been bought off—& the general Opinion is that if his hands are very dirty Mrs. Hills are not quite clean. A more disgraceful transaction has certainly seldom taken place, & at all events poor silly Sir Rowland is as completely sold as any slave or beast of burthen, & whatever he gains in Money will lose, & ought to lose, in Character. You perhaps do not recollect that this is Leap Year or if you do may possibly have wisely made your escape for that reason, & if we may judge by the unusual number of Marriages that have already taken place in this Country & which are said to be in preparation I think the ladies must be exercising their Privilege without mercy— Amongst others Miss Parker has just carried off Sir Baldwin Leighton & as some say has caught a Tartar— Excepting these little varieties we are going on much in our usual hum drum style, a little hunting, a little shooting & now and then a little argument about the Reform Bill which is again undergoing a tedious debating in Committee of the Commons where however there is no doubt it will soon be passed by a vast Majority— In the Lords its success however still appears to be very doubtful but a large creation of Peers is talk’d of & I should think must be made if the Bill is to be carried, & why they are delay’d all well wishers to the Bill & to the present Ministers cannot understand— If Lord Grey has not courage & energy enough to carry it now, seeing what he has seen, cout qu’il cout, I think he deserves to be hanged by his own Friends and supporters, & is certainly quite unworthy his situation—but we will yet hope better things of him, though I confess I am half afraid of him, & should feel much more confident if he was out of the way & the business was left to Lords Brougham1 and Althorp—2 If it fails we must look I fear for something much worse & those who wish to do right will then share the Ruin which their infatuated opponents the Borough mongers & Bishops3 will bring upon the Country—’Quos deus vult perdere prius dementat— But no more of Politics, for I suppose that the same conveyance that carries this Letter to you will also carry some English Newspapers.—

Arthur you will be glad to hear got through his Examinations at the India College at last with Credit, & if well will sail for Madras in May, where I hope you may meet in mutual good health— Francis is still with Mr Meredith & what will be his Profession I am yet unable to determine, for in these times all are so full that it is difficult as well to chuse as to get employment & bread in any.— All the other Members of my numerous Family Mrs. Owen included are well & as you left them.— And so I am happy to say are all yours, of whom I should say more if I did not know that they will speak more to the purpose & to your satisfaction for themselves.— Your Father I think is particularly well, but still evidently not quite satisfied to lose sight of you for probably so long a period— God grant that you may return in health & find him so— At this distance I may say without blushing & I am sure without flattery that there is no Man living that I value and esteem more or that I am under so many obligations to— There is something about him so liberal, so high minded & yet so unassuming that it is quite impossible to know him well without respecting & loving him— You ought to be very proud of him, nor do I doubt but you are so— I think I have now exhausted all the stock of little & domestic events that have taken place in this Country since you left it, & am not aware that I have anything more to relate that can amuse or interest you—so shall conclude my stupid Epistle wishing you every possible success & gratification & with a most fervent hope that we may meet again in as good health as when you last visited this House— Fanny says that you must not suppose that the Lady of Count Robert of Chirk will ever forget the Friend of her youth & means to send you a few lines in the same envelope with this—

Believe me my dear Charles always most Sincerely & affectionately Yours | Wm. Owen

Footnotes

Henry Peter Brougham, Baron Brougham and Vaux, made a famous speech on the Reform Bill’s second reading.
John Charles Spencer, Viscount Althorp. Leader of the Whigs in the Commons, he organised the passage of the Reform Bill in that House.
Supporters of the ‘rotten boroughs’. Over 200 (about half) of the so-called ‘nomination’ seats were eliminated by the Reform Bill. The Bishops feared that Reform would result in the disestablishment of the Church.

Summary

Writes of his family and Shropshire events. Comments on the slow progress of the Reform Bill.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-161
From
William Owen
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Woodhouse
Source of text
DAR 204.6.2
Physical description
4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 161,” accessed on 21 November 2019, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-161.xml

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

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