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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Susan Darwin   15 October 1833


Oct 15th. | 1833.

My dear Charles.

On October the 11th. we got your very nice letter dated Maldonado July 14th. & two days afterwards your Journal arrived which I have only read a few pages of yet: but we mean to read it aloud comfortably in the Evenings— I think Papa particularly enjoyed your last letter & desires me to tell you most affectionately from him that he is exceedingly glad you have engaged a Servant as he is sure it will conduce very much to your comfort & only regrets you had not one sooner.— Pray tell us next time what countryman he is? if he had been a Negro, you wd. have said so I am sure: when you were praising their character— I have copied out what you say about the ill conduct of the man appointed to prevent Slaves Landing at Rio & I shall shew it At Sarah who will I daresay take notice of it.— We have sent on yr Letter to Erasmus who will do yr London commissions & we will send up the two Books from here1 with the Shoes fr Howell We shall be very anxious to hear that you get all your things safe, & Capt Beaufort is so civil that I have no doubt he will undertake to manage it.— I grudge very much for your sake, all this tiresome winter you are cruizing on this side of America as it appears so uninteresting that it is so much lost time to you,—but perhaps it will make you still more enjoy the warm climates if that is possible.—

Sarah who is now down at Eaton got your letter last week and I cannot tell you how much pleased & surprised she was to receive it. I think she is looking very well now & every body tells her she is grown “uncommon stout”. She & Mr Williams seem most perfectly happy & that match certainly answered perfectly. Mr. Owen was here yesterday looking very brisk, he desired me to ask if you had ever received his second letter.— Catherine bids me mention her last September letter was directed to Monte Video & she is afraid you won’t get it.— Your message to Charlotte shall be given: we have been spending a few days at Onibury Mr Langtons Living: & I never did see so charming a country to live in: such lovely retired walks by the side of the river Onny. Mr Langton seems most extremely happy & finds himself excellent friends with his Parishioners I quite long for you to be settled in just the same kind of manner my dear Charley: I am sure I shall pitch my tent very near you in that case.— In two days time Papa, Harry, Edward, & I, are to set forth upon a small Architectural Tour to see the Cathedrals of Gloster, Winchester & Salisbury, & finish by spending a few days at the Hill where Harry will meet Jessie— It is unlucky that it is so late in the year as the 20th. of Oct but Harry’s business prevented our starting sooner we mean to take a pack of Cards and play Whist with Dumby2 in order to pass the long Evenings at the Inns.—

I have just been reading an account of Ceylon in a kind of novel called “Cinnamon & Pearls”3 the descriptions of the vegetation are so beautiful that I don’t wonder you have a great desire to go there as of course you have read some more faithful history of it in Humboldt.— I have a much greater wish to see some tropical country than the old common place France & Italy—and I wonder people don’t travel more to Madeira than sticking to Europe.— You will rejoice as much as we do over Slavery being abolished, but it is a pity the Apprenticeship does not commence till next August as that is a great while for the poor Slaves to be at the mercy of the Planters who I shd. think wd. treat them worse than ever.— I grudge too very much the 20 million compensation money: but perhaps it would never have been settled without this sum.—4 The Poor Laws in Ireland will I suppose next Session be the great topic of interest. I have been reading some pamphlets which make me rather against the system.—

By the parcel that is going to you I think my Sisters will both write little notes: & I take the opportunity of sending you a leetle purse which I have been netting it is rather of the smallest so I hope your foreign coin is not very large,—& I know in old times you always used to tie up yr purse if it was of an ordinary length.

You will find Fanny Biddulph quite as charming as ever when you come back only more delicate looking. I have paid her 2 little visits at Chirk Castle this Autumn whilst old Madam & Miss Biddulph were absent, & you may suppose we were very merry in the old Castle without them. Fanny was exceedingly busy fitting up a few rooms she was to have separate for her use & so much in earnest over it that she actually went down on her knees to nail the Carpet whilst the carpenter went to his Dinner.— She has got a most lovely Poney carriage with two beautiful Grey ponies & used to take me delightful drives close to Llangollen which is only 6 miles distant fr. Chirk.— Caroline & William Owen were staying there with me the latter always talks much about you. he has become a great fisherman & wears a most absurd sailor’s coat without tails.—

The present great friends of the Owens are the Boughey family who are come to live at Bicton near here— The Girls are handsome & uncommonly nice & unaffected very much of the Owen genus. Anastasia is quite a beautiful Girl.—

How fortunate we have been in never losing any of yr letters & I hope in future we shall have no such gaps as we had this Summer Nancy & Edward both partake of the sensation when a Letter comes from you & your absence does not make you at all less loved I can promise you by every one of us & all who know you. God bless you my dearest old fellow & Believe me always yr most affecte Granny | Susan Darwin.

Papa & All send their very best Loves to you. I wonder how we shall ⁠⟨⁠ev⁠⟩⁠er talk over every thing when you come bac⁠⟨⁠k.⁠⟩⁠ We read yr Letter to Uncle Jos & he remarked it was “very clear Capt Fitzroy must consider yr collections valuable or he could not apply to the Admiralty for leave to have yr Servant on the Boards.”

It is very delightful your Natural History pursuits answering so very well they must be such a never ending source of pleasure.


Fleming 1822 and Pennant 1793.
‘At Whist, An imaginary player represented by an exposed “hand” ’ (OED).
Martineau 1833.
The bill abolishing slavery in the colonies became law on 28 August 1833. A system of apprenticeship for seven years, to serve as a transition to complete freedom, was established. £20,000,000 compensation was voted for the planters.


Fleming, John. 1822. The philosophy of zoology; or, a general view of the structure, functions, and classification of animals. 2 vols. Edinburgh.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


Mainly news of the family and friends. Their joy at the abolition of slavery.

Letter details

Letter no.
Susan Elizabeth Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 204: 101
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 219,” accessed on 30 June 2022,

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