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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Susan Darwin   22 November 1835


Novbr. 22d. | 1835

My dear Charles—

I am happy to tell you that your Journal has arrived safe, there was some alarm about it; as the Challenger that you told us it was coming by; was wrecked owing to some new currents from the late Earthquake.— I don’t know what Ship it did come in, but your heart wd. certainly have been broken if it had been lost.— Eras recd. the Journal in London and lent it to the Hensleighs to read, who were exceedingly pleased with it, and think it will make a most interesting book of travels when you publish it.— We are now reading it aloud, and Papa enjoys it extremely except when the dangers you run makes him shudder: Indeed I think the escapes you have had of different dangers are quite providential! We never read anything so shocking as the murderous war upon the poor Indians—one can hardly believe anything so wicked at the present day as the conduct of General Rosas. Is he a Spaniard?— I cannot think how you cd. write such a collected account of your travels when you were Galloping so many miles every day.— When I have corrected the spelling it will be perfect, for instance Ton not Tun, lose instead of loose.— You see I am still your Granny— Since I began this Eras writes me word that your Journal he believes came on the Ship that brought the Crew of the Challenger so it was wonderfully lucky it was not lost.— Eras also says he hears that some of your Letters were read at the Geological Society in London & were thought very interesting,1 and now I will copy another bonne bouche for you. Dr. Butler sent Papa an extract from a Letter of Professor Sedgwick’s to him which was as follows about you. “He is doing admirably in S. America, & has already sent home a Collection above all praise.— It was the best thing in the world for him that he went out on the Voyage of Discovery— There was some risk of his turning out an idle man: but his character will now be fixed, & if God spare his life, he will have a great name among the Naturalists of Europe.”— I think this paragraph we ought to copy out in every Letter that goes to Sydney lest this shd. miscarry. My dear Charley I am so happy you have this reward for all your excessive labour & exertions. I sometimes can hardly fancy you are my brother that I read of going through such hazardous enterprises.— I do long to hear you are safe out of South America for then I shall consider you comparatively safe. Catherine heard fr. you last week yr Letter was dated Coquinbo the 31st. of May and then you were going to undertake a month of land Journey I am sorry your inclination for the South Sea Islands has rather evaporated.—

You will be surprised to hear that Erasmus is turning into a busy Man. Government has appointed Commissioners for examing into all the Public Charities throughout England and Robert Mackintosh is made one of them and as he is obliged to have a Clerk Erasmus has taken that office & gets 150 pr. Annum. I don’t expect Mr Eras will keep his place long, at least if it requires much work, and how he will manage with no Law knowledge seems a mystery:—2 He sets out next Wednesday to undertake Berkshire.— Unfortunately Shropshire has been examined or we shd. have had him here which would have been very nice.—

Marianne has been suffering a good deal of anxiety this Month, owing to Parky having got the Scarlet fever at his School at Oswestry and he had it so severely that he could not be moved. Marianne went there to nurse him and was several nights without slee⁠⟨⁠p⁠⟩⁠ which q⁠⟨⁠ui⁠⟩⁠te knocked her up.— She expects to be con⁠⟨⁠fined⁠⟩⁠ in January so she was not at all in a fit state for so much exertion— She has however not caught the fever, and now as it is 3 weeks since we hope she will certainly escape. Parky is now at Overton & Caroline is there, whilst we have the three younger boys here and they are the best & nicest little men you ever saw, and often talk of Uncle Charles with awe & reverence.—

The John Wedgwoods are very busy transplanting themselves again from Monmouthshire into Staffordshire as they have taken a house about 4 miles from Maer in order to be near Jessie & also Allen.3 Indeed they have now three children living in Staffordshire for Mr & Mrs. Robert reside at Muxton— I had a visit from them this Autumn & cd. hardly make myself remember they were husband & wife they looked so much more like Mother and Son.—

I hope my dear Charles we shall have another Letter from you when you reach Lima as we shall be very glad you have done with that odious South America.— My Father Catherine & I send you our most affectionate Love & Good bye Ever yrs. Susan E Darwin

Nancy begged I wd. tell you how she counts the Months now with joy.—


Extracts, taken from CD’s letters to Henslow (attributed to ‘F. Darwin Esq., of St. John’s College, Cambridge’), were read to the Geological Society by Adam Sedgwick (see letter from Caroline Darwin, 29 December [1835]) on 18 November 1835 (Proceedings of the Geological Society of London 2 (1833–8): 210–12, Collected papers 1: 16–19). The geology of South America was so little known at the time that CD’s letters excited much interest. Charles Lyell, who saw CD’s reports on elevation as confirmation of his views, was particularly eager for more details. On 6 December 1835 he wrote to Sedgwick, ‘How I long for the return of Darwin! I hope you do not mean to monopolise him at Cambridge.’ (K. M. Lyell 1881, 1: 460–1; see also Wilson 1972, p. 425).
Robert Mackintosh was Fanny Mackintosh Wedgwood’s brother. On hearing the news that Erasmus had taken employment with him, Emma Wedgwood wrote on 29 November [1835] to her aunt, Jessie Sismondi: ‘Erasmus is gone as his Clerk, which surprized us all that so idle a man should like to undertake it (viz. the Clerk), as it is supposed he will have a good deal to do. The girls at Shrewsbury tell him they are afraid the King will have a very bad bargain.’ (Emma Darwin (1904) 1: 376).
The John Wedgwoods took a cottage at Betley, Staffordshire. Their son, John Allen Wedgwood, was Vicar of Maer.


Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

Emma Darwin (1904): Emma Darwin, wife of Charles Darwin. A century of family letters. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. Cambridge: privately printed by Cambridge University Press. 1904.

Lyell, Katharine Murray, ed. 1881. Life, letters and journals of Sir Charles Lyell, Bart. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

Wilson, Leonard Gilchrist. 1972. Charles Lyell. The years to 1841: the revolution in geology. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.


Some of CD’s letters were read at Geological Society in London. Professor Sedgwick says of CD, "doing admirably … collection above all praise … will have a great name among the Naturalists of Europe".

Erasmus has taken office of Clerk to a Government Commissioner. Other family news.

Letter details

Letter no.
Susan Elizabeth Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 97 (ser. 2): 24–5
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 288,” accessed on 25 July 2024,

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