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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Emma Wedgwood   [26 December 1838]



My dear Charles

We walked out yesterday to meet the post bag & I felt rather inclined to growl at seeing such a short letter but I soon became pacified as it was only a business letter. I think it would be a very good thing if Fanny would take a look at both the maids & if she likes their looks engage them both Miss Farrers1 is a very good house to take a maid from as she is very particular & very kind to them. I don’t suppose the housemaid wd come for 10gs but that we might settle after Fanny has seen them. I don’t think the cook not being a good one signifies. I think you need not be uneasy about Margaret as I told her not to consider herself engaged & I wd let her know in a few days & if she met with any better offer she had better take it but it wd be better to let her know at once without waiting to see how the other one turns out. I am very much obliged to Fanny for undertaking so tiresome a job. Perhaps she may like Margarets looks the best.

We had a very good account from Shrewsbury two days ago but I have no doubt you have also, that the baby was getting stronger & better every way.2 Yesterday a poor woman was found in a very exhausted state in the great field. It turned out afterwards that she had come here from Whitehaven on the forlorn hope of recovering a debt from some navigators3 whom she heard were here. She had been in the village & a man invited her into his house to warm herself & offered her some food & sixpence both of which she refused & when asked why she did so afterwards she said she wanted to die & did not want any food to keep herself alive. If she had chosen any more private place she wd have accomplished her wish in the cold frost last night. She had been to Whitehaven to see her son a collier & found he had just been burnt to death in that explosion that happened rather lately. The only piece of good fortune she has had she rejoiced over to Eliz. most unfeignedly which was that she had twins lately & that they were both dead. I suppose her heart failed her altogether yesterday & no wonder if she had had no food for two days as she says & must be true I think from her refusing help yesterday. You must know I give you this long story by way of a preachment to myself who having been coaxed & caded4 ever since I was born & having almost every thing I could wish for in this world feel so dull & disagreeable this snowy morning & like Miss Squeers5 “hate every body & wish every body was dead.” If ever you see me in this way I advise you to give me a good box on the ear for I really think it would do me more good than any thing ⁠⟨⁠else⁠⟩⁠. We expect the Langtons about the fourteenth. I ⁠⟨⁠won⁠⟩⁠der when you will be coming.

Goodbye my dear Charley Bates6 I feel rather sorry for your future fate this morning. If a letter should come today to say that the wicked old Jezabel (who I dare say is a charming person) had given in to your terms it would be very well bestowed upon me. I have saved F’s credit in not mentioning to a soul her bit of folly in going into E’s room that day & I hope you will do the same at Shrewsbury.

Goodbye my own dear Charles | Yours affectly | Emma W.

This letter will come a day later than you expect because we have no return of post hear as they get too late to Newcastle to go on the same day—


Miss Farrer is identified in Emma Darwin (1915) 1: 234 n. as aunt of the first Lord Farrer.
Sophy Marianne Wedgwood, daughter of Caroline and Josiah Wedgwood III, born 13 December 1838.
‘A labourer employed in the work of excavating and constructing a canal … Now usually contracted to Navvy’ (OED).
‘1879 Miss Jackson Shropsh. Word-bk. Cade, to pet; to bring up tenderly’ (OED).
Fanny, daughter of Mr Wackford Squeers, proprietor of Dotheboys Hall, the notorious school for boys, in Charles DickensNicholas Nickleby.
One of Fagin’s gang of thieves in Dickens’ Oliver Twist.


Emma Darwin (1915): Emma Darwin: a century of family letters, 1792–1896. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1915.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


Responds to his "business letter" about the maids, then chides herself for feeling dull and disagreeable when she has had everything all her life.

Letter details

Letter no.
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 204: 155
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 462,” accessed on 27 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2