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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Catherine Darwin   14 October [1832]


October 14th.

My dear Charles,

We received your letter dated July 7th, sent by Mr Sullivan’s Parcel, the end of last month. It was an unusually long time on its voyage, nearly three months. We were exceedingly glad to have such a happy letter from you; your three months on shore must indeed have been as interesting & useful as it was possible to be. We were rather amused at your anxiety to leave civilized ports, and to hear the fate of Reform, two wishes not very compatible. As yet we have been very successful in correspondence; you have received all our letters up to the date of your last, and all your’s also I think have safely arrived. You must tell us when to leave off directing to Monte Video & to put S. American Station instead. Charlotte desired me to tell you she wrote you a letter the end of last month (September) to Monte Video. It must be a melancholy letter I think, written so soon after poor Fanny’s death. They seem to be all recovering their spirits at Maer, except poor Aunt Bessy, who feels it very much now, though she did not appear to do so at first. The Langtons are staying at Maer now; all the family seem to like Mr Langton very much; they say he is so merry & joking, and chatty, quite different from the sensible, grave man he was taken for before the marriage. All the London people, with Erasmus at their head have a great spite & prejudice to him, from his having been so much cried up at first I suppose. Erasmus is very audacious & wicked about him, and thinks him wearisome, & foolish & tiresome. Charlotte makes him the most devoted wife that ever was seen, perfectly wrapt up in Mr Langton, and talks & thinks of nothing else. This increases the spite of the London people, whose main subject of conversation seems to be finding fault with Mr Langton. Erasmus is here now; he has not stirred out of London all this Summer, till he has come down here now to breathe a little fresh air. He and Mrs Hensleigh seem to be thicker than ever; she is quite as much married to him as to Hensleigh, and Papa continually prophecies a fine paragraph in the Paper about them.— Papa is very well now, much better than he was in the Summer, and more occupied than ever with his pet, the Hot house; his Banana Tree is sent for, and a deep hole made for it in the highest part of the Hot house, that it may have room. Papa means to call it the Don Carlos Tree, in compliment to you.— Papa is also planning buying Audubon’s Book on American Ornithology;1 the author sells it himself, and will not allow any separate number to be sold, unless you take the whole which is 40 guineas in price. The Plates are magnificent, as they ought indeed to be. You will like to see some of the Plates of your old Friends again, when you come home.—

Your Books were all sent off, before your last letter arrived, mentioning the two others. We had the most extraordinarily hot weather in England from the 20th to the 27th of September; 70 in the shade; the common people attributed it to the Comet,2 which first appeared, visible to Telescopes about that time.— The Cholera has died away in Shrewsbury now, after but few deaths; the last was that Mr Corbet of Ynsymanghwyn (near our old Plas Edwardes) whom perhaps you may remember in Shrewsbury. He had sunk to the lowest state, and died after a few hours of the greatest agony, so that his screams were heard in the adjoining houses.— I have very little to tell you about the Owens; I am going to Woodhouse this week, to meet Mrs Williams & Mrs Biddulph; it will be just like old times, as both the Husbands will be happily away. Mr Williams in London, and Mr Biddulph canvassing. Poor Sarah is looking very delicate I hear; she has been continually ill all this year, but is in capital spirits. Fanny is not said to live a very happy life at Chirk; she has had the horrid old Mother, Mrs M. Biddulph, & the Sister & Brother staying there a long time, and she dislikes them most cordially; they are very stiff & formal, and I should think there was a thorough hatred between them.— Fanny does not however at all beat under to them, but gives herself very proper airs.— They have a French Butler now at Woodhouse, an old Servant of their’s in France, who the young Ladies shake hands with, and who chatters & talks all the time he is in the room, mimics the guests, &c &c. He will be an addition indeed. I tremble when I think of him.— They were very much pleased by your letter to Mr Owen.— I have been living the last 5 weeks with the Hollands; I paid them a long visit at their place in Worcestershire, Overbury, which is a very handsome house in a very nice country and then I went with the Hollands a Tour in Derbyshire to see the Lions there, and to pay a visit to Sir Thomas Denman’s. It was very pleasant, but I got rather tired of the Hollands. I dislike Mrs Edward Holland, the Bride, nearly as much as Erasmus does. She is a disagreeable, little, dull, cold thing. Edward Holland has begun his new house, which is to be 4 years in building; it will be a nice large house, but Edward will be awfully pompous when he is master of it, for he can hardly contain his importance now. I was at the grand ceremony of laying the first stone.— We have heard to day a piece of news from Maer. Lord Craven has given Mr Langton a Living near Ludlow, between 3 & 400 a year, and in a very pretty situation. Mr Langton was Tutor to Lord Craven. It is very nice for Charlotte being settled within a short distance of Maer, and of here, and they are all exceedingly pleased at Maer.— My dear Charles, how I long for you to be settled in your nice Parsonage. I hope you retain that vision before your eyes.— People here think you will find cruizing in the South Seas such uninteresting work, that it gives us some hopes you will perhaps return before the Beagle.— Nancy begs I will tell you how very happy she is made, every time we hear from you.

God bless you, & take care of you, my dearest Charles. You cannot tell how often I think of you. | Papa’s and all our best loves, to our dear Charles. | Yrs| Catherine Darwin


This was not the famous Halley’s Comet, which appeared in 1835, but one which was visible during October and November 1832. The Times of 12 October 1832, p. 3, has a letter from John Herapath about comets in general and this one in particular. Many people attributed the unseasonably hot weather to its approach.


Audubon, John James. 1827–38. The birds of America, from original drawings. 4 vols. London: the author.


Writes news of family, Maer, and Woodhouse. His father has sent for a banana tree

and plans to buy J. J. Audubon’s book [Birds of America (1827)].

Charles Langton has been given a living near Ludlow.

Letter details

Letter no.
Emily Catherine (Catherine) Darwin/Emily Catherine (Catherine) Langton
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Shrewsbury OC 16 1832
Source of text
DAR 204: 86
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 187,” accessed on 16 May 2022,

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