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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Emma Darwin to W. E. Darwin   [17 May 1864]1

My dear Wm

Your father wishes the following observation to be made to you viz. that Meneanthes is now in flower & to be left to your comprehension—2 I send you some corn plaister you must put it on the right side— You will see it printed on the paper

What weather! How hot you must be—3 I took courage & send for the little horse but we have not tried her yet as our collars are not large enough. Yesterday I drove Aunt Eliz. in the pony carriage into Holwood & we walked about & any thing so charming as it looked & smelt.4

Edmund has given up all thoughts of George’s foreign tour. Are your plans any forwarder?5 We have cut down all that lump of shrubs at the back of the house to make the study lighter & it is such an improvement. We are levelling the turf & mean to keep it tidy now.

I gloat over the azalias but they pass dreadfully quick in this blazing sun. But every tree is a picture.

Mack. continues very much the same—6

Yours my dear old man—. E. D


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. E. Darwin, 18 May [1864], and by the references to the hot weather and the visit from Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood (see nn. 3 and 4, below).
CD had been interested in observing the dimorphic Menyanthes trifoliata (buckbean or marsh trefoil); in 1862, he acquired the aquatic plant from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, but its seeds never germinated (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 [April 1862] and n. 3, letter to G. H. K. Thwaites, 20 June [1862] and n. 4, and note in DAR 110: B52). See also Correspondence vol. 11, letter from Charles and Emma Darwin to W. E. Darwin, [4 May 1863].
In her diary (DAR 242), Emma Darwin noted the hot weather on 17 and 18 May 1864.
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) her sister Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood visited from 14 to 17 May 1864. Holwood Park, almost two miles from Down, was the estate of Robert Monsey Rolfe, with whom the Darwins were on visiting terms (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 10, letter from R. M. Rolfe, 28 November 1862).
Emma probably refers to her nephew Edmund Langton. According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), William and George left on 7 July, returning ‘from abroad’ on 2 August 1864. CD’s Account books–banking account and his Classed account books (Down House MS) record a payment to George of £10 on 6 July 1864, and a payment to William and George of £31 10s. on 10 August 1864 for their tour.
James Mackintosh Wedgwood, Emma’s nephew, was suffering from incurable cancer (see letter from E. A. Darwin, [15? April 1864] and n. 5)


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.


CD says Meneanthes is now in flower.

Letter details

Letter no.
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Source of text
DAR 219.1: 80
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4498F,” accessed on 13 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12