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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Fanny Owen   [January 1828]


My dear Charles,

I never was so horror struck as to receive your leetle note the other day   My conscience upbraided me so much as really to prevent my eating any breakfast altho’ a plate of hot toast was smoaking before me. I reproach myself bitterly with ingratitude for your entertaining budgets, in having delayed so long sending you an effusion. pray forgive the penitent Housemaid. She is truly sorry for her crime— I hope you had good sport at the Forest I hear you are become an undeniable shot. I was very much surprised to hear from Sarah that you have decided to become a DD instead of an MD.1 you never let me into the secret— We are very dissipated here, at a Ball or Party almost every night, which as you may suppose I find not bad sport in its way, but all must come to an end and I fear we shall be dragg’d away to the shades of the Forest and leave Brighton in the higths of its gaiety—no time is yet fix’d however. Poor Caddy tells me she is very triste at home having to fight it out with all the Boys who are very impudent— Pray tell me some Shrewsbury scandal You well know if the Ho⁠⟨⁠use⁠⟩⁠maid has a foiblesse it is for a mystery — The W family2 I believe are certainly coming here bag & baggage & very soon have you seen any of them the Hero Ted is at Eaton & I believe too the odious Richard— I have not been riding for some time, the last time I did was with the Hound’s which answer’s my idea of “Bliss on Earth,” it is such exquisite fun gallopping on the Downs as hard as one can go—and there are generally about two hundred people out— I wish we had the Spaniard here, he is wasting his sweetness in the desert air of the Forest— I hope you will not be gone from Home when I return I shall expect cart loads of black mysteries after so long an absence so pray collect all you can— How is Maam Burton,3 & who could have invented the report that her dear little Eliza was going to be dragg’d to the Halter by a Splendid Shootable — Is Mr. Upper still as brilliant & elegant as when I left him— I must conclude this horride scrawl but I have a horride pen and am in a horride hurry—but will send you another effusion soon. I am too stupid & sleepy tonight to do any thing but sleep in the arm chair— I am sure you will say what a stupid prosy creature the Housemaid is become, but remember it is 1828 & she is a year older

adieu my dr Postillion believe me ever yrs sinly Fanny O

Burn this—


‘After having spent two sessions in Edinburgh, my father perceived or he heard from my sisters, that I did not like the thought of being a physician, so he proposed that I should become a clergyman’ (see Autobiography, pp. 56–7, where CD describes his scruples about following his father’s advice).
The Williams family of Eaton Mascott. The ‘Hero Ted’ is probably Edward Hosier Williams.
Probably Mary Burton, wife of Henry Burton, Vicar of Atcham, Shropshire.


Autobiography: The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809–1882. With original omissions restored. Edited with appendix and notes by Nora Barlow. London: Collins. 1958.


Surprised to hear from Sarah [Owen] that CD has decided to become a D.D., not an M.D.

She has been to a ball or a party almost every night.

Letter details

Letter no.
Frances (Fanny) Mostyn Owen/Frances (Fanny) Myddelton Biddulph
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 204: 42
Physical description
ALS 8pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 37,” accessed on 7 June 2023,

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