skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Emma Darwin   [25 April 1858]1

[Moor Park]


My dearest W.

I am very sorry to hear that you are headachy. A scheme just comes into my head. viz, that when I am back, that you shd. come here for a fortnights hydropathy. Do you not think it might do you real good? I could get on perfectly with the children.— You might bring Etty with you.2 Think of this my own dearest wife. Ah Mammy, I wish you knew how I value you; & what an in-expressible blessing it is to have one whom one can always trust—one always the same, always ready to give comfort, sympathy & the best advice.— God bless you my dear, you are too good for me.

Yesterday I was poorly: the Review & confounded Queen was too much for me;3 but I got better in evening & am very well today. I cannot walk far yet; but I loiter for hours in the Park & amuse myself by watching the Ants: I have great hopes I have found the rare Slave-making species & have sent a specimen to Brit. Mus. to know whether it is so.—4 I have finished Beneath the Surface & it is very poor.5 I have begun the Three Chances, & this a strange powerful novel, written by one with plenty of “gumption”.—6

Thanks for Charlotte’s note, which I have burnt.7

I have got some more letters to write, though I wrote six longish ones yesterday so farewell my best & dearest of wives | C. D.

Mrs. Lane agrees with me that the Betrothed is by a man.8 She coolly added that Beneath the Surface was so poor that it must have been written by a man!


The Sunday after CD’s arrival at Moor Park hydropathic establishment (‘Journal’; Appendix II). The date is confirmed by CD’s reference to a review of army troops by Queen Victoria (see n. 3, below).
Henrietta Emma Darwin, aged 15, had undergone treatment at Moor Park on two occasions in 1857 (see Correspondence vol. 6).
Queen Victoria reviewed the troops at Aldershot camp, near Farnham, on Friday and Saturday, 23 and 24 April 1858 (The Times, 26 April 1858).
CD had asked Frederick Smith, an entomologist at the British Museum, to identify several ant specimens (see letter from Frederick Smith, 26 February 1858). Formica sanguinea, the only slave-making species in England, had previously been found only in Hampshire and at Weybridge in Surrey (F. Smith 1854, p. 103). CD continued to observe ants throughout 1858 and 1859 (DAR 205.11 (2): 88–107).
Probably a mistake for Below the surface: a story of English country life ([Elton] 1857).
The Three chances was an anonymous novel published by Smith, Elder and Company in 1858.
Charlotte Langton was Emma Darwin’s sister.
The author of The letters of a betrothed (London, 1858) was in fact Marguerite A. Power. Mrs Lane was the wife of Edward Wickstead Lane, proprietor of the hydropathic establishment at Moor Park.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

[Elton, Arthur Hallam]. 1857. Below the surface: a story of English country life. 3 vols. London.

Smith, Frederick. 1854. Essay on the genera and species of British Formicidæ. [Read 4 December 1854.] Transactions of the Entomological Society of London n.s. 3 (1854–6): 95–135.


Concerned about ED’s headaches, CD writes an affectionate letter.

Believes he has found a rare slave-making species of ant.

Is reading novels: Beneath the surface and Three chances.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
Moor Park
Source of text
DAR 210.8: 33
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2413,” accessed on 17 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7