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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Catherine Darwin   27 November 1833


Novber 27th. | 1833.

My dear Charles,

I believe your Parcel is not yet gone from London, but we think it safer to write to you by the Packet also, for fear you should not get the parcel.— There are several letters for you in the Parcel, from Mrs Williams & Mrs Biddulph, & from Caroline, so you must fish them out.— Tom Eyton has written to you also this month; he called here the other day, & enquired much about you.— Your letter to William Fox has arrived; we heard from them not long ago, at the Isle of Wight, where they are gone again to spend the Winter for William’s health; he has been better lately.— We had two of your letters to Professor Henslow sent down here for us to see; one was dated May this year on the Sea, & the other July.— We are very much enjoying your Journal now, reading it aloud to Papa in the Evenings, and it meets with great success, and is pronounced exceedingly entertaining. Your account of the Brazilian people of the Patriarchal Vendas, and of the little graceful dancing Teresa, interested us very much.—1 You never make any comments on your Companions on board, but that I suppose might not be safe, and does not come in the plan of your Journal.— I do not know whether you knew by sight a Capt Justice, a relation of the Clives, a naval man; he happened to dine with us yesterday, by ourselves, and we read aloud your Journal, by way of amusing him.— He was very useful to us in explaining some nautical terms, and he was perfectly charmed with your Journal, & would hardly let us stop reading it.— He thought you grown quite a Sailor by your language.—

Caroline’s letter by the Parcel will have told you how unluckily Papa’s Tour to Winchester & Salisbury Cathedrals was spoilt by the Gout; it seized him a little at the Inns, but not so badly as to prevent his getting on to the Hill, in Monmouthshire (the John Wedgwood’s) where he was laid up 17 days with the worst fit of gout he ever had in his life. He & Susan came home about two weeks ago, when he was able to travel, and now he has quite lost it, and is as well as possible again. You may imagine how much it annoyed him, being so long ill, away from home.— His Tour answered perfectly to him in other respects; he admired the Architectural Beauties exceedingly & enjoyed Harry’s company, as a fellow Antiquary. I hope he will make a custom of these Tours, now they answer so well to him.—

I have hardly any Owens news to tell you, except that Francis has got an Ensigncy, in the 63d, which is quartered at Madras, where Arthur is. I do not know when Francis goes out, but I dare say, you will see both the Brothers, if you touch at Madras.— Poor Fanny Biddulph still continues very unwell; she is wretchedly altered in looks, so very thin & pale; she has never recovered her bad confinement. She is very happy otherwise apparently, and Mr Biddulph very devoted.— Mrs Williams keeps the gayest house possible at Eaton, continual dances & gaieties going on.

We are all in consternation at present at a piece of news Erasmus wrote us word a day or two ago: that Hensleigh Wedgwood has determined to resign his Police Magistrateship, worth 800£ a year, from some scruples about the system of administering oaths there, which he cannot reconcile to his conscience. He & his Wife & Child would only then have Hensleigh’s private fortune £400 a year to live on; and Erasmus is horror struck at the sacrifice it is to Fanny Hensleigh and at the loss of her company to himself.— I cannot think what they will do, if Hensleigh persists, which he most probably will, though he has consented to hold an argument with Dr Holland, & with Sir Edward Alderson. I am afraid there is but little chance of their shaking his scruples, as he had them on his mind for some months.— It is most unfortunate to be sure, they will be so wretchedly poor; and Hensleigh once before refused a Fellowship at Cambridge, on ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ of not subscribing to the 39 Articles.— The Maer Wedg⁠⟨⁠wood⁠⟩⁠s will take this business as calmly as any ⁠⟨⁠fa⁠⟩⁠mily could.— I have been staying at ⁠⟨⁠M⁠⟩⁠aer lately, which is a very pleasant house still, in spite of all its changes.— Poor Aunt Bessy is a melancholy sight; she is perfectly helpless, and cannot stir herself the least, owing to a pain in her leg, which makes her quite powerless.— Her fits are much more frequent than they used to be, and she is excessively altered since her dangerous illness this Summer, that one would not suppose she could last much longer.— I met Bessy Holland at Maer, Sister to Dr Holland, who talked a great deal about you, and knew more than I did about you; she hears all about you from their Friend C. Whitley who has the greatest interest in you. I can’t conceive how Mr Whitley knows all about your plans, movements, discoveries &c, for I don’t think you correspond with him. Whitley says that two letters of your’s have passed through his hands, to other people (not to himself) and that he perfectly longed to break the seal of them, but of course did not.— I hear that your Theory of the Earth is supposed to be the same as what is contained in Lyell’s 3d Vol.2 Some of your Friends or Whitley’s Friends meant to send out the 3d Vol to you; have you received it? Bessy Holland informed me also that you had sent a quantity of stones to Cambridge; is all this true? She says also that you have some intention of returning home before the Beagle—; how I wish this was true, my dearest Charles. What happiness it will be to see you again, after such an absence!— Papa desires me to give you his best love, & he is very glad that you are so happy and prosperous. He desires me also to tell you how very much he is pleased with your Journal. Goodbye dearest Charles. With all our loves believe me | ever yrs affectionately | E. Cathine Darwin

Pray, pray take care of yourself, and run no risks; and mind your health.


The typical Brazilian venda is described in ‘Beagle’ diary, pp. 51–2, and Journal of researches, p. 22–4. Theresa Price was the eight-year-old daughter of a merchant in Rio de Janeiro (‘Beagle’ diary, p. 71).
The reference is probably to CD’s adoption of Charles Lyell’s uniformitarianism, which had impressed CD when he read the first volume of the Principles of geology. He did not receive the third volume until later in the journey (see letter to J. S. Henslow, 24 July – 7 November 1834).


‘Beagle’ diary: Charles Darwin’s Beagle diary. Edited by Richard Darwin Keynes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1988.

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.


Mentions letters sent in parcel and those from CD received by Fox and Henslow. Adds news of family and friends.

Appreciation of his journal. She hears that CD’s "theory of the Earth" is the same as Lyell’s in 3d volume [of Principles of geology (1833)].

Letter details

Letter no.
Emily Catherine (Catherine) Darwin/Emily Catherine (Catherine) Langton
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 204: 90
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 232,” accessed on 19 May 2022,

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