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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Caroline Darwin   30 December [1833] – 3 January 1834


December 30th.

My dear Charles

Your last letter was dated Sept. 20th., Buenos Ayres, & it was a most agreeable surprise as we thought you had started for your endless Southern voyage— the account of your wild ride was extremely interesting— how strange it still seems to think of you as realy leading a Gaucho’s life— a canter on the Oswestry road will feel rather flat I am afraid, though you may depend my dear Charles if I am not superannuated when you come home I will have many and many a happy ride with you— Erasmus is become quite a grand man he has a Cab & a few weeks ago my Father gave him a beautiful Grey horse a Hunter bred by Mr. Wynne—& we hear from Eras that he (the horse) is as much at home in the streets of London as if he had led a town life all his days.— I think you will hardly know Eras he is become such a dissipated character & such a happy person. he seems always in good spirits & enjoys visiting about & liking & knowing many more people than he used— Hensleigh a short time ago had determined upon resigning his Police Magistracy from a scruple of conscience—he thought our Saviour’s command “not to swear” was one which ought to be taken literally & that a judicial oath was consequently unlawful— I do not quite understand the reasons why he classed it among the commands to be taken literaly & not with a latitude— however Uncle Jos & his other friends have persuaded him to take time & study the subject more before he decides, which he has done & the arguments of some of his friends have I believe made him think differently, but this is not certain as he does not now talk on the subject— it wd. have been very melancholy to have had their happy household broken up & one knows of hardly any employment which Hensleigh could have taken, as in almost all an oath is a necessary form for being entered— I was staying at Maer whilst all this was in agitation & very anxious it made Uncle Jos & them all— Aunt Bessy is sadly changed since you saw her—her intellect much weakened & from a pain in her leg unable to stand or move herself in the least She sits or rather lies down in the big room upstairs which is now fitted up as a sitting room & makes a tolerably comfortable one— they are very much interested about you— Can you fancy any thing that the whole family would enjoy more than being transported to the banks of the River Carcarana (I think you call it) the banks of which you describe as being so thickly strewed with bones & fossil remains. I shall be very curious to hear the result of your expedition there— Charlotte & Mr Langton were at Maer for the winter—also Fanny Allen so altogether we mustered a large party, but dear old Maer is not what it used to be & never will again—

1834 Jany. 3d.— I wish you my dear Charles a happy new year and many returns of it & very glad shall I be when I am able to wish you the same in person— I recd. the day before yesterday your letter of the 23d of October from Buenos Ayres, with the account of the disastrous ending to your ride— I see by the papers that on the 28th. of Oct. trade was allowed to continue, so I trust you were soon released from your very disagreeable & alarming situation in that odious town— what a vilannous people they seem to be— We are excessively anxious for your next letter and my Father as you may believe sympathizes & felt very much for all your misfortunes & I am sadly afraid the great dangers you have gone through when you wrote were not over. I wish you were out of that town & safe again in the Beagle— My Father had not heard at the bank of the £80 you speak of having drawn a month ago, but it will be paid whenever it is asked for— the second part of your journal arrived quite safe I read it to myself & we all read it aloud— it was extremely interesting & I am very impatient for a third part—

The Cottons have been staying with us this week with Mattie who is come out & a very pretty merry girl— she has some of the Owen spirit— Also Robert Clive was here, he is exceedingly happy to be in England again & for life without the thoughts of a return to India to damp his pleasure— I like him very much he is the merriest & most taking of all the Clives & very pleasant— he seems exceedingly fond of Mattie & if she was a little nearer his own age I think he would not be long in trying his chance with her. the William Clives have had a sad disappointment in having a dead child— Marianne Clive is doing well now, but her life has been in the greatest danger from her confinement & it was a melancholy endin⁠⟨⁠g⁠⟩⁠ of he⁠⟨⁠r⁠⟩⁠ delight in the hope of a child— Poor Eliza Tollet is thou⁠⟨⁠gh⁠⟩⁠t to be in a consumption she has had a cough now for ⁠⟨⁠n⁠⟩⁠ine months & is getting gradually weaker— Frank Leighton has just been made Sub Warden of Magdalen College which the Leightons are much pleased at—

Next week we are going to a Play at Eaton an immense party in the house 23 the Biddulphs & all the Owens are to be there— Fanny Biddulph is still very delicate, so altered from what she used to look, but I think still prettier even than she used to be— Francis Owen goes to India next February— they have very good accounts from Arthur—

I think my Father is looking very well, all the better for the gout that he had when touring with Susan. leaving off his business in great measure, & not altogether, has answered remarkably well to him— giving him a little employment & not fatigue— I think when you come home you will be amused to see in the hothouse, his Banana, with its two leaves that we all admire & think so handsome. I cant say I do admire it now, for it is grown so tall that the glass prevents even the few leaves it has from appearing in their natural shape—

We have not seen Marianne Parker very lately She is educating her 4 little boys very nicely I think, they are very happy & tractable Dr. Parker & Marian are beginning to fret & puzzle about a school for Parky— Susan is very happy this week scrattling she is sitting now at the table I am writing from, with a long account book & innumerable bills— Catherine is now quite the junketting person in this house so eager for balls & visiting of all kinds— Pincher & Nina are both well— I wonder if Pincher will be very glad to see you again. Joseph has still your Grey horse. I am going to hire it this morning for a ride— poor old nurse Tante, we hear, is reduced to wear spectacles. She has never yet appeared to us in them, but when she is alone she can not resist them. She is deeply interested about you & we always tell her the news out of your letters, though I suppose the ideas she gains are but vague— You must take the will for the deed & not mind my writing such very very dull letters— living quietly at home it is really very difficult to find what to write about, but a letter to say all at home are well, you shall have every month till we see your dear old face again My Fathers, Susans, & Caths best & kindest of loves. Yrs most affcly dear Charles | Caroline Darwin

I open my letter for my Father who says he hopes I have said every thing kind from him to you. I did before I think give his love—


News of family and friends. Hensleigh Wedgwood’s scruples about swearing oaths.

Letter details

Letter no.
Caroline Sarah (Caroline) Darwin/Caroline Sarah (Caroline) Wedgwood
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 204: 79
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 234,” accessed on 16 May 2022,

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