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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Catherine Darwin   30 October 1835


October 30th. | 1835.

My dear Charles

We are very anxious to hear from you again, after your 2d Land Expedition, which sounded very dangerous, and tremendously fatiguing, and we shall be delighted to hear that you are safe on board the Beagle again. I do hope you are careful not to over tire yourself very much, for fear of giving yourself a dangerous fever in those hot countries. What an invaluable friend Mr Corfield has been to you; we are all very grateful to him, I am sure.— I am so very glad to tell you that Erasmus has received your Journal safe, within the last two days, and also two Boxes very valuable; and there are also six large Boxes at Plymouth come from he does not know where. Erasmus had given up all expectation of receiving them, after the wreck of the Challenger, and hearing nothing from Capt Beaufort, about them; and his letter to day is written in much joy that they had safely arrived.— It will be very interesting to read your Journal, & I hope we shall soon have down here.— Erasmus says, that from the Court Martial, it appears the Challenger was wrecked in consequence of an alteration in the rate of the currents, as stated by Capt Beaufort, produced by the late Earthquakes, of which you gave us an account.—1 I don’t think I have written to you, my dearest Charles, since we had the capital news of your return next September; it is such a blessing to have a fixed time to look forward to, and one really not very far off now.— There is hardly any news to tell you, I am afraid, since Caroline last wrote to you; the Hensleighs have another Boy; (they have 3 children now, one girl, & two boys) and as Erasmus entirely adopts the children, you ought to be properly interested in having another nephew.— Are you aware that you are really to have a niece, a little Miss Parker born next January? if it should be Master Quintus Parker’s appearance, he must be strangled, for that is the only thing left for us to do.—2 I suppose you saw the Comet in a different month from what we did in England; the middle of October was the best time for seeing it with us, but it was so hazy all the month, that it could not be seen well at any time. Erasmus went to look at it with Dr Holland, through Sir James South’s great Telescope,3 but there was such a mist, that it could be seen no better than with the naked eye.— We had your Friend Major Bayley to dine here not long ago, and he went out in the cold with me to look at the Comet through a Telescope; I saw it pretty well at last, but he could not. Major Bayley made many enquiries, about you, and talked much about you.— Frank Leighton also sent me a message to you a little while ago; he begs that you will remember your native Town, and keep any duplicates of curiosities, or specimens, for the Museum of Natural History; which has been begun this Summer in Shrewsbury.— There is a Society of Natural History formed,4 and several people are very much interested about it; I am afraid you will look down upon the specimens in it, with sovereign contempt.— I saw you⁠⟨⁠r⁠⟩⁠ friend, Sarah Williams not long ago, a⁠⟨⁠nd⁠⟩⁠ she desired me to remind you particular⁠⟨⁠ly⁠⟩⁠ of your engagement to dine & go to the Play with her, the first evening you are in London. Sarah is afraid you cannot have received her last letter; it was sent with some of our’s, and I am afraid it must have been among those that you did not receive in Valparaiso; I think you said they would be forwarded on to you, in the course of time.— There is no news of the Owen Family to tell you particularly. William Owen is gone to join his Regiment in Ireland, though he has a stiff knee still, and it is feared will always have it.— The poor little Biddulph Girl is still kept lying down on her back; though they say she is getting better; she is the most charming little child I ever saw, quite as charming as her Mother.— At Sarah is staying with us now, and she desires I will give her love to you.— Nancy also begs I will tell you she is counting the months till your return.— Charlotte Langton also in a note we had to day from her says how pleasant it is to think that there is a fixed time for your return. Papa & Caroline desire their best of loves to you, my dearest old Charley. | God Bless you— | Yr ever affectionate | E. Catherine Darwin

Susan is at Overton.


This was Robert FitzRoy’s explanation (see Narrative 2: 479–80). FitzRoy’s notes to this effect were read at the court-martial of Captain Michael Seymour of the Challenger at Portsmouth, 19 October 1835. Seymour was exonerated.
The first four Parker children, Robert, Henry, Francis (Frank) and Charles, were all boys. As predicted, a niece, Mary Susan Parker, was born in January 1836.
South’s telescope had a 12-inch object glass, the second largest in the world.
The Shropshire and North Wales Natural History and Antiquarian Society. CD is listed as a member in 1835–6. In 1877 it was amalgamated with the Shropshire Archaeological Society.


Narrative: Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836. [Edited by Robert FitzRoy.] 3 vols. and appendix. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.


Erasmus has received CD’s journal and two boxes; six large boxes are at Plymouth. Had feared them lost in wreck of Challenger.

News of family and friends.

Letter details

Letter no.
Emily Catherine (Catherine) Darwin/Emily Catherine (Catherine) Langton
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 97 (ser. 2): 22–3
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 287,” accessed on 29 May 2023,

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