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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Sarah Owen    30 March [1828]


Sunday March 30th.—

My dear Charles.

I have been very idle & ungrateful in not thanking you sooner for your very interesting leetle effusion. I should certainly have written to you last week, if I had not witnessed the departure of a very considerable dispatch composed by Catherine & directed to Mr. Charles Darwin, & as I knew she had therein deposited all the news &c. &c. of the Forest that she could scrape together, I thought I had better defer troubling you for a few days longer & now Heaven only knows how I shall fill this sheet of paper, for we have been in such a state of awful tranquillity since I wrote to you, that I despair of sending you any thing worth Postage—

Of course you know that Caroline & Catherine were here for a few days last week, and during those few days, I spared neither pains or trouble to sift the report I told you of, to the bottom, I grieve to tell you, that my efforts were unsuccessful, they both solemnly & positively denied the fact, as far as Caroline was concerned, & since that time I have been haunted & tormented with another & a newer idea. Can it be Susan do you think? I ponder deeply, but can come to no result, pray give me your opinion of the matter. I am happy to say Susan comes here tomorrow, I have not seen her since the memorable old Hunt & Bazaar, which impoverished so many misguided shootables Mr Charles—

Two of the Mr. Clives, George & the little Orange Nabob1 came here last Monday for a day or two, they seem very goodnatured &c &c. — On Tuesday the whole Congreve Family stormed the Fortifications, & I had to mount the strictest guard till yesterday when they took their departure to my great joy, I had them almost entirely to myself for Fanny was ill, & did not leave Paradise Row till they left the lower Regions, her’s has certainly been a well timed sickness— The party was increased on Friday by the arrival of Mr Henry Burton, & Mr Dowdeswell a nephew of Mr. Deans who is staying at Atcham— “Sure such a pair were never seen” for Mr. D. is, if possible more “remarkably frightful” than Mr. B. though I am sure you will not easily believe this, & certainly without ocular proof it must be difficult to do so— I believe “little Lingen” still continues single though people seem determined to choose him a Miss Shootable since he took possession of the large room at the Abbey, as they declare it is quite un possible he can fill it alone

I suppose you have been officially informed of the Marriage which is shortly to take place in your Family!! so I need hardly mention names, I only hope it may be the means of my devouring 1/2 a pound at least of P.C.I have suspected it long ago!!! Miss Butler was married last week, the yong gentlemen presented her with a piece of plate, on the appy event, & in return, received a dinner & 2 days additional holidays at Easter, they must each lament that Dr. Butler has no more Single daughters—2

I am very sorry you do not come down this vacation, though perhaps if you had, you would not think it worth while to visit the Forest, out of the shooting Season, now that all the Muslin is collected there. I wish you could chaunce to come by on Tuesday, as we are meditating an excrescence to Wrexham Fair, to buy Bargains, & see all the Beasts & Beastesses &c—

I have been riding a good deal lately, Fanny has not been out for the last fortnight & I have had the Andalusian all to myself, he is in great beauty now & very frisky & restive— Papa has bought a wonderful pony, dark chesnut, with a white mane & tail, it is only two years old, so it will be of little use for a year to come.

As for Aunt Pedigree,3 if it was not for the credit of the Family, we should certainly take out a Statue of Lunacy against her, I think I told you she had bought a bit of blood for her own riding, she keeps it at Mr. Haycock the Butcher’s, though every thing shootable has been provided for its accommodation here, she has had two horse breakers in attendance feeds the horse herself 4 times a day, & carries the key of the Stable in her pocket, she is feeding & physicking the poor thing to death, & will not ride it herself or allow any body else to do so, I am quite sure she will never summon courage to mount it herself, & it never will be of the least use to her—

I hear your Favorite, Miss Clare is astonishing the weak minds of all the Barristers this Circuit, if I were Mr Charles Darwin, I should be quite jealous.!!! I think Caroline & Catherine will have a very pleasant junket to the Isle of Wight. have you heard that Susan positively declines leaving “sweet ome” though Erasmus offered to take her to Paris, or any part of the Continent. I cannot but think this most mysterious. By the bye, Charles, what can you mean by saying you have not set your eyes on Muslin since you left Shropshire. Have the Doctors, Proctors, Deans &c &c &c neither Wives or Daughters!! or are the Cambridge shootables thought too dangereux to be seen by them? pray satisfy my curiosity on this point the next time you write— I almost forgot to apologize for my great denseness in directing to Trinity College instead of Christs but somehow or other I had a running in my head that it was Trinity, however if it only delayed my scrawl a few days longer, it could make little difference to any body & as Mr. Cotton says, “it will all be the same 50 years hence—

Have you heard that Tom Parker had a dreadful Cross some time ago, he has had a brain fever in consequence, & is now quite deranged & at Worcester, it is a shocking thing for them all. Mr. Mathew has also been very ill, & I believe is still in danger, Dr. Darwin & Dr. Parker attend him—

I do think I have scraped together all the news I have heard for a Month past, & my little all will be very dull to you I am afraid, but as you begged me to write, it is partly your own fault, for bringing this trouble on yourself. If you wish the grievance to continue I hope & beg you will write to me very soon, you need not make the old excuse of having nothing to say, for you see before your eyes a whole sheet of hot press filled with nothing at all, so try to imitate the good example I set you, & if you remember the promise you made, you may believe me my dear Charles ever your’s sincerely | S. H O—

I forgot to “mention” that the Flower-Garden, notwithstanding ancient prophecies, is remarkably flourishing & promising & will be brilliant by the time you see it. Two or even 3 flowers have actually made their appearance, & the Fortifications are proof against Hares of every description– I forget whether I informed you of the Marriage wh. took place in this family a little while ago, you Friend Mr. clandecently led to the Halter Miss Anna Bates, daughter & Coheiress of Mr. Bate the Cow man, & Mrs. Bate, the Family Washerwoman– Mr Starkie narrowly escaped being dismissed the service, but he is now forgiven, & kills Cats & Rabbits as usual–

Now that you have arrived at the end of this scrawl, go back to your Quarto’s & folios my dear Charles, & think no more of me or my Foolscap.. Goodbye–


Probably George Arthur Clive, brother of Robert, Henry, and Edward (see letter from Caroline & Susan Darwin, 2 [January 1826], n. 2). The ‘little Orange Nabob’ perhaps refers to Robert or to another brother, Richard, both of whom spent some time in the Indian Civil Service (Eton School Lists).
Samuel Butler had two daughters, Mary and Harriet. Mary Butler married Edward Bather (DNB) in 1828.
An allusion to Oliver Goldsmith’s She stoops to conquer (1773).


DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Eton school lists: The Eton school lists, from 1791 to 1850. With short notes by H. E. C. Stapylton. 2d edition. London: Williams. 1864.


Caroline and Catherine Darwin were at the Forest a few days last week and Susan Darwin comes the next day. Mentions other relatives, friends, and acquaintances.

Letter details

Letter no.
Sarah Harriet Mostyn Owen/Sarah Harriet Williams/Sarah Harriet Haliburton
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Shrewsbury AP 1 1828 153
Source of text
DAR 204: 60
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 41,” accessed on 1 June 2023,

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