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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Caroline Darwin   [9 November 1836]

[43 Great Marlborough Street]

Wednesday Evening.

My dear Caroline,

I did not write yesterday Evening because my plans were so unsettled. They are not quite so yet. I hope to start by the mail on Friday Evening. Will you ask if the Phaeton can be sent for me on the Saturday to Stone,1 that is provided you do not hear from me tomorrow to say the Contrary. My fossil bones are all unpacked at the College of Surgeons, and I have some doubt whether I shall anyhow be able to finish them tomorrow. Some of them are turning out great treasures. One animal, of which I have nearly all the bones is very closely allied to the Ant Eaters, but of the extraordinary size of a small horse. There is another head, as large as a Rhinoceros which as far as they can guess, must have been a gnawing animal.2 Conceive a Rat or a Hare of such a size— What famous Cats they ought to have had in those days! Do not think me very unfeeling, but I almost wish I was not coming down to Shropshire, for it will be such a hurry skurry visit— I think I ought to be back in London. I think I ought to be back in London in 14 or 16 days. So that besides a couple of days at Maer and Overton, I have Woodhouse, Eyton, & other visits to pay, which I should grieve to omit— Anyhow we shall have a nice quiet drive together. Whilst in Shropshire I have some Geology to do. Mr. Murchison has lent me a manuscript map, and has asked me to look at a part of the Country, which he has been describing— It is near Minsterley,3 a very beautiful scene of very ancient true volcanic phenomenæ.—

My London visit has been very pleasant, but too much visiting, although only to people whom I am delighted to become acquainted with. Erasmus is just returned from driving out Miss Martineau.— Our only protection from so admirable a sister-in-law is in her working him too hard. He begins to perceive, (to use his own expression) he shall be not much better than her “nigger”.— Imagine poor Erasmus a nigger to so philosophical & energetic a lady.— How pale & woe begone he will look.— She already takes him to task about his idleness— She is going some day to explain to him her notions about marriage— Perfect equality of rights is part of her doctrine. I much doubt whether it will be equality in practice. We must pray for our poor “nigger”.—

Remember me to all at Maer. I long to have a good walk in all the old haunts, and round the pool.

Good bye, | C. Darwin—


A village about 7 miles east of Maer, on the Mersey Trent Canal.
The two fossils were later described and named by Richard Owen as Scelidotherium leptocephalum and Toxodon platensis (Fossil Mammalia, pp. 16–35, 73–99).
A village 9 miles south-west of Shrewsbury. Murchison 1839, p. 276, describes greenstone rocks near Minsterley. The map may be the one Murchison was preparing for that work. CD’s annotated copy, in three volumes, is in Darwin Library–CUL. The map is at Down House.


Fossil Mammalia: Pt 1 of The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle … during the years 1831 to 1836. By Richard Owen. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1839–43.

Murchison, Roderick Impey. 1839. The Silurian system, founded on geological researches in the counties of Salop, Hereford, Radnor, Montgomery, Caermarthen, Brecon, Pembroke, Monmouth, Gloucester, Worcester, and Stafford; with descriptions of the coal-fields and overlying formations. 2 pts. London. [Vols. 4,7]


His fossil bones are unpacked and some are great treasures. He has some geology to do: R. I. Murchison has lent him a map and asked him to look at a part of the country he has been describing.

Their only protection against having Harriet Martineau as sister-in-law is that she works Erasmus too hard.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Caroline Sarah (Caroline) Darwin/Caroline Sarah (Caroline) Wedgwood
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 154: 49
Physical description
C C 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 321,” accessed on 2 April 2023,

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