skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Elizabeth Drysdale   [22 or 29 October 1859]1

Wells Terrace | Ilkley Otley | Yorkshire


My dear Lady Drysdale

I am extremely much obliged for your kindness about the Hornet’s combs.2 Will you be so good as to send them packed in a little Box with cotton-wool (in 3 or 4 weeks’ time) per Railway addressed as follows—

C. Darwin

care of G. Snow

Nag’s Head



I staid in the establishment for a fortnight and then took a House and all my family are here.4 We shall stay for 4 or 5 weeks more, so that I may give the treatment a fair trial. Please tell Dr Lane5 that it has done me much good, though I was unfortunate in spraining my ancle,6 which has been followed by a violent [at least one page missing]

[Moor] Park7 would spoil one for almost any place. We thank you very truly for your kind invitation; but our plans are necessarily at present very uncertain depending on how long we stay here.—8

I heartily wish I could hear of Dr. Lane being fixed to his satisfaction.9 It is wonderful how these northern Establishments seem to answer.—

My wife begs to send her very kind remembrances to yourself & all your party, & pray believe me | Dear Lady Drysda⁠⟨⁠le⁠⟩⁠ | Yours sincerely obliged | Ch. Darwin

I began by accident this with one sheet slipped into another.—10


The date is established by the dates the Darwins were in Ilkley and the reference to four or five weeks’ stay. CD left for Ilkey, in Yorkshire, where he was planning to visit the hydropathic establishment, on 2 October 1859, and left there for London on 9 December (Correspondence vol. 7, Appendix II). In his letter to J. D. Hooker, 15 October [1859] (Correspondence vol. 7), CD wrote that his family were arriving on Monday, which would have been 17 October, and staying for three or four weeks. Emma left with Henrietta and Elizabeth on 24 November (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). In mid-October CD himself seems to have been planning to leave before December (Correspondence vol. 7, letter to John Murray, 15 October [1859]). CD’s reference to staying for four or five weeks more thus suggests that the letter was written before November. There were two Saturdays in October after Emma’s arrival: 22 and 29 October.
CD had been interested in the cell-making instincts of bees and wasps since at least 1857, when he began a correspondence with George Robert Waterhouse on the subject (see Correspondence vols. 6 and 7). His notes on the subject are in DAR 48B, and are dated between 1858 and 1860; he discussed the cell-making instinct of the hive bee in Origin, pp. 224–35. Earlier in 1859, CD thanked John Stevens Henslow for specimens, including the comb of a hornet, and asked Henslow to send more fresh hornet combs next year (Correspondence vol. 7, letter to J. S. Henslow, 10 January [1859]).
George Snow of Down, Kent, operated a weekly carrier service between Down and London (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1859). The Nag’s Head Inn, 102 Borough High Street, Southwark, was his point of departure in London (Post Office London directory 1859, Correspondence vol. 7, letter to Richard Owen, 10 December [1859], n. 5).
CD initially stayed at Ilkley Wells House, a hydropathic establishment (see Metcalfe 1906, pp. 107–8, and Correspondence vol. 7, letter to W. D. Fox, [6 October 1859]). Emma and the children (Henrietta, Elizabeth, and Francis, and probably Leonard and Horace), arrived on 17 October (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242); letter from Emma Darwin to William Erasmus Darwin, [24 or 31 October 1859], DAR 210.6: 50).
Edward Wickstead Lane was the son-in-law of Elizabeth Drysdale (Emma Darwin (1904), p. 184). See n. 7, below.
CD had sprained his ankle on 9 October 1859 (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to W. E. Darwin, [14 October 1859]).
Moor Park, Surrey, was the hydropathic establishment owned by Lane at which the Darwins had became acquainted with Drysdale. They visited it in 1857 and 1858 (see Correspondence vols. 6 and 7), and CD had been there three times in 1859 (Correspondence vol. 7, Appendix II).
See n. 1, above. No letter from Drysdale containing this invitation has been found.
Lane was trying to acquire a new establishment. In 1860, he moved to a hydropathic establishment at Sudbrook Park, Richmond, Surrey (Metcalfe 1906, p. 57; see also Correspondence vol 8, letter to Charles Lyell, 25 [June 1860]).
Two pages of this four-page letter are blank on the verso.


Metcalfe, Richard. 1906. The rise and progress of hydropathy in England and Scotland. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co.


Declines an invitation to visit [Moor] Park.

He hopes that Dr Lane is arranging things to his satisfaction.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Elizabeth Pew, Lady Drysdale/Elizabeth Copland, Lady Drysdale/Elizabeth Drysdale, Lady Drysdale
Source of text
John Wilson (dealer) (Catalogue 88); Clive Farahar & Sophie Dupré (dealers) (Catalogue 55); B & L Rootenberg (dealers) (May 1991)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2498A,” accessed on 22 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13 (Supplement)