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Darwin Correspondence Project

From S. E. (Elizabeth) Wedgwood to Hensleigh Wedgwood   [16] November [1836]1


Wednesday Nov

My dear Hensleigh

Charles’s visit has been exceedingly pleasant. Caroline went in the phaeton to meet him on Saturday, and as he did not come by the mail she waited till several more coaches came in & then came back—and we quite gave him, when in a quarter of an hour after her, he appeared. He looks very much thinner, but it has improved his looks, and his countenance is so pleasant that his plainness does not signify— his manners are uncommonly pleasant it is impossible not to be quite fond of him— it is very pleasant to see him so ready to enjoy himself. We had to distribute proper shares of his company to everybody. Eliza came here on Saturday to stay over Sunday & Harry came both those days & went home in the evening—& on Monday again he appeared directly after breakfast but diverged from Madeley (where they all walked to see my father’s Yew-tree, that he has never been able to make anybody curious about before, but now Charles is going actually to do it the honour to describe it to Mr Henslow) & we saw him no more. Frank & Fanny came on Sunday, & we had Aunt Sarah—

We were particularly anxious that Aunt Sarah’s day should go off well, and by great good luck he got upon just the subjects that would suit her—& was remarkably pleasant all the evening—(we had begun to be low at dinner for he was shy, & we could not get on) and the next morning after breakfast we fell again into such a pleasant fit of talk that she actually ran to the door when the phaeton was there, and ordered it away again for an hour! Charles gave us Capt Fitzroy’s letter to read, which Sarah was very much pleased with—indeed we are all duly impressed with a proper profundity of admiration for the Captain— Harry enjoyed his cross questioning of Charles thoroughly— We got several little geological lectures— Harry was rather anxious to know whether we are going up or going down— I learn that the learned world are coming fast round to Mr Lyell, only that earth-quakes were bigger in those days— It is very lucky that Charles’s bones are turning out so valuable—it was so great a chance, for of course before he went he could not have had much opportunity of knowing what was already known. I perceive that he rather skips over his residence at Cambridge and looks forward to settling in London with the most pleasure— It will be very pleasing for his sisters if he does— There is a certain German pamphlet on the corals of the red sea,2 that he amused us with his account of Eras translating for him, & how pale he looked after his labours— I offered to finish translating it for him but he refused. I dont know whether from not caring about it or not to give me the trouble— If Eras thinks he would really like to have it & that I could do it (though I dont know how he is to know that—but I have read a great deal of Kozebue)3 ask him to send it me—it is a job I should like. Charles feels he must learn German, but I dont see how he can get time— we gave him a vocab—and looked for Robinson der Junger—4 but we could not find it— has Fanny taken it for Snow?

They were to have gone yesterday morning—but by great good ⁠⟨⁠lu⁠⟩⁠ck Caroline wrote for a chaise by post to Tern-hill & the chaise did not arrive here till two o’clock—and we persuad⁠⟨⁠ed⁠⟩⁠ them it was quite too late to go that day, and would only disturb the Dr when once he had given them up— so instead we set out for a good walk with Caroline on the pony & had the pleasure to see the empty chaise rattle away past us back again— They are gone in good earnest today—& Emma to Betley court—5 I have luckily had Ettore Fieramosca6 to console me, and I have done no duty & not gone out, but sat in an arm-chair by the fire reading it, till I heroically tore myself from it to write you this letter—but it was in a dull part— It is a pleasing & interesting book—on the model of P. Sposi7 & Walter Scott—but not so charming as that—but shewing as that does good & nice feelings in the author—everywhere but about some asses that he throws head over heels in a cruel manner. I was very glad indeed to get Caroline to stay here for Charles— she enjoyed his visit so much— I have not seen her a long time in such good spirits—only the longer she stay⁠⟨⁠s⁠⟩⁠ the more sorry she is to part with him. Charles told us his boat story,8 & very striking it was—from his own feeling about it—and a dreadful story of Miss Martineau’s about two young women, that made Sarah look quite as if she was suffering acutely for some time after— it was an inconceivable thing to happen amongst civilized Christians— In the last Emancipa⁠⟨⁠tor⁠⟩⁠9 there is the most barefaced thing one ever heard of yet—a pamphlet advertised with a full account of the trial & execution of 10 men, 5 black & 5 white by Lynch law! & it appeared as if the negroes were examined by flogging before they were hanged— The names date and all the particulars are given⁠⟨⁠.⁠⟩⁠

Clem Broughton10 has offered Charles the curacy of Norbury—but I have no doubt Frank has employed some of his leis⁠⟨⁠ure⁠⟩⁠ which is likely to last for the next 3 months in writing to you & will have told you all about it. Robert is delighted with it, and Eliza has taken hold of the occasion to write to Mrs R. a friendly letter which is a very kind thing of her. Jessie is going on quite well. We are expecting Uncle Allen & Emma tomorrow for a fortnight & Mrs Holland & Louisa ought to arrive tomorrow too, as they have never written to tell us they have altered the day but I dont expect them. Charlotte has been giving her first dinner party & suffering most severely—but I have no room to give you Charles’s account of her troubles

Dont you think one of our large family of lamps would do for Fanny? & then perhaps she would let you get your books.

We have been keeping an eye on the sky but all in vain— I was up from 12 past 2 to 4 on the night—but nothing was to be seen—not that I got up for that but my mother was not comfortable & was sitting up in bed.


CD arrived from London on 12 November, left on the 16th (see Correspondence vol. 1, Appendix I).
Ehrenberg 1834, an important source for CD’s Coral reefs. A heavily annotated copy is in ‘Philosophical tracts’, Darwin Library–CUL.
Otto von Kotzebue 1821, 1830.
[J. C. L.] H[aken] 1802, Robinsons des Jüngern, an elementary German reader. Two German dictionaries are in the Darwin Library–Down: Rabenhorst’s pocket dictionary (1829), inscribed ‘Erasmus Darwin’, and volume one of a two-volume set edited by Johann Gottfried Flügel, Leipzig (1838).
The home of the Tollet family.
CD may have told the story of a narrow escape in Tierra del Fuego, when an exploring party from the Beagle was nearly marooned. Robert FitzRoy, in Narrative 2: 217, states ‘had not Mr. Darwin, and two or three of the men, run to them [the boats] instantly, they would have been swept away from us irrecoverably.’
Abolitionist weeklies of that name were published in Boston and New York.
Clement Francis Broughton. It is not clear to whom the offer was made. Possibly Charles Langton is meant, but he was rector of Onibury at the time, and the next sentences suggest that Elizabeth intended to write ‘Robert’. In any case, the offer was not accepted. In the next Clergy list (London 1841) no curate is listed for Norbury.


Clergy list: The clergy list … containing an alphabetical list of the clergy. London: C. Cox [and others]. 1841–89.

Coral reefs: The structure and distribution of coral reefs. Being the first part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1842.

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

Ehrenberg, Christian Gottfried. 1834. Über die Natur und Bildung der Coralleninseln und Corallenbänke im rothen Meere. Berlin.

Kotzebue, Otto von. 1821. Entdeckungs-Reise in die SüdSee und nach der Berings- Strasse zur Erforschung einer nordöstlichen Durchfahrt. Unternommen in den Jahren 1815 … 1818. 3 vols. Weimar.

Manzoni, Alessandro F. T. A. 1827. I promessi sposi. Storia milanese del secolo XVII. 3 vols. Milan.

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.

Tapparelli, Massimo (Marchese d’Azeglio). 1833. Ettore Fieramosca, o la disfida di Barletta. Florence.


Describes CD’s visit to Maer on his return from Beagle voyage.

Letter details

Letter no.
Sarah Elizabeth (Elizabeth) Wedgwood
Hensleigh Wedgwood
Sent from
18 NO 18 1836
Source of text
V&A / Wedgwood Collection (MS W/M 129)
Physical description
inc AL incomplete?

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 322,” accessed on 24 May 2022,

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