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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Catherine & Susan Darwin   4 December [1825]


Sunday Morning, December 4th

My dear Charles,

I am quite ashamed of myself for not having written to you before now; but I have been putting off doing so from day to day for a long time, and I am afraid I have not now much to tell you— The principal piece of news I have to tell you is that last week Papa received the melancholy account of poor Mrs Maling’s1 death in Peru; she died in August at Valparaiso of a complaint peculiar to the climate; of which she had been ill since January, but had concealed it carefully from her friends in England only saying “that she no longer had her vulgar, robust state of health”; so that her death was a great shock to poor Mrs Darwin, her mother, who had been looking forward to her return about this time— Papa thinks that you need not go into mourning, on account of the distance.—

I have been spending a fortnight at Overton,2 from whence I returned on Friday; it was horrid, rainy weather the whole time, as is always the case there I think; but notwithstanding which I had a very pleasant visit there, and like my brother, the Dr, more than I did before— Baby3 is very well, and fat, and has the prettiest colour in his little cheeks— I do not think that even you could pretend to be disgusted with your little nephew, if you were to see him smile and laugh so prettily now— By the time you return, next summer he will be toddling about— You see I have quite caught the mania of Overton, as Papa and Mama are both of course doating; but I must now give you a piece of news about your favourite child, which I am afraid will prove a blow to you; i.e. that Spark is gone to Overton; at least till your return next summer, as they were in want of a watch dog, and Czar is finally going, having bit another person— I am afraid this intelligence will be a shock to all your nerves, and will spoil a good many breakfasts; but all I can tell you for your comfort is that Dr Parker is very fond of her, and means to take the feeding of her entirely in his own care, and there are a profusion of rats and mice about for her to kill; and if you wish, she shall come back here to meet you on your return, next summer dear Bobby.—

Caroline and Susan are going to Woodhouse4 tomorrow to spend the week— Fanny Owen is copying two beautiful pictures, a Coreggio and a Murillo, and Caroline is going to attempt them them in miniature— We are reading aloud a very entertaining novel lately published “Matilda, a Tale of the Day”; it is written by Lord Normanby, nephew to Capt Maling; if it should fall in your way, I advise you to read it, as it is very clever and witty in many parts, and only one octavo volume— The new Society5 is opened, and we have had several books from it; among others “the Story of a Life” by the au⁠⟨⁠thor⁠⟩⁠ of Rec⁠⟨⁠ollec⁠⟩⁠tions of the Peninsula6 which you liked so much; ⁠⟨⁠bu⁠⟩⁠t you never read such affected stuff, quite unreadable.— Three little boys dined here the other day, Allan, Browne, and H. Hutchings, and Susan played the pretty to them all evening; are you not sorry you missed such a charming evening?— I met Watkins7 in the street the other day; I never saw such a dandy as he is grown, his hair all frizzed out in the most absurd, coxcombish style and his hat on one side— I did not feel at all inclined to call him “Mr Will.-Willough-Watkins” The only bit of gossip I can tell you, (and I am afraid you will not care for that) is that Miss Derby, the pretty flirting heiress, is really going to be married at once to Mr Pryce Owen.—8

I shall hope soon to hear from you, my dear Bobby; any little particular will be interesting— What capital luck you are in, just to fall in with all the good London performers at Edinburgh, Liston,9 Miss Stephens, and Macready; give me some account of the latter, if you see him in any particularly good or new characters; you know I am always interested in him— and now Good Bye, my dear Charley— Love to Erasmus. Believe me, | Ever yrs | E. Catherine Darwin

My dear Charley. I am very glad to hear you are such a good boy about your French, and I hope now that you are reading something more interesting than the Baroness & Countess’ silly letters, you like French better than you did— you must tell me how you spend yr days as I shall like to hear.— Catherine has written you such a long letter that she must have told you all the news. | best love to Eras. ever yrs. Susan—

Papa says Erasmus may wear Flannel next his skin in cold weather by all means & that he may sleep in it also, tho he does not think that very adviseable—but in warm weather he very much objects to it.10


Harriot Maling, seventh child of CD’s grandfather, Erasmus, by his second wife, Elizabeth.
Residence of Marianne and Dr Henry Parker.
Robert Parker.
‘Woodhouse is a beautiful mansion of white freestone, the seat of William Mostyn Owen, [Sr] … delightfully situated on a gentle eminence, commanding fine views,and surrounded by park-like grounds beautifully wooded. The mansion is approached by a noble portico, supported by four circular columns; and there is a fine avenue of beech and other trees on the south side of the park.’ (Bagshaw 1851, p. 204). Woodhouse is situated in Rednal, Shropshire, 13 miles north-west of Shrewsbury.
There were several private reading societies in Shrewsbury, besides a well-stocked Public Subscription Library (Howell 1816, p. 87).
Sherer 1823 and 1825.
Frederick Watkins, CD’s Shrewsbury schoolmate and later fellow undergraduate at Christ’s College.
Mary Darby and Edward Pryce Owen were married 6 December 1825 (Alum. Cantab.).
The final paragraph is written on the flap in Caroline Darwin’s hand.


Alum. Cantab.: Alumni Cantabrigienses. A biographical list of all known students, graduates and holders of office at the University of Cambridge, from the earliest times to 1900. Compiled by John Venn and J. A. Venn. 10 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1922–54.

Bagshaw, Samuel. 1851. History, gazetteer, and directory of Shropshire. Sheffield.

Howell, Thomas J. 1816. The stranger in Shrewsbury; or an historical and descriptive view of Shrewsbury and its environs. Shrewsbury.

Sherer, Moyle. 1823. Recollections of the Peninsula. London.


Family news.

Letter details

Letter no.
Emily Catherine (Catherine) Darwin/Emily Catherine (Catherine) Langton; Susan Elizabeth Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
DE 5 1825
Source of text
DAR 204: 22
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 18,” accessed on 22 May 2022,

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