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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Emma Wedgwood   [6–7 January 1839]

12 Upper Gower Stt.—

Sunday Night

My dear Emma

I have just returned from my little dinner with the Lyells, in which I did some geology & some scrattle about coal & coal-merchants; & you will say it was high time, for when I came in & began to poke the fire, Margaret said you must take care sir, there is only one lump left for tonight & tomorrow morning: so it is high time to order coal. I meant to have written to you by yesterday’s post, but I turned idle just at the right minute, but I hope you wont turn angry at the post-time minute.— I am really ashamed of my letters of late, they have been so very egotistical; but what can be expected from a young householder, who things of nothing but himself & our house all day long.— By the way, this puts me in mind to give you a scolding, for writing to me about “your” house: is it not our house: what is there from me, the geologist to the black sparrows in the garden which is not your own property.— And this puts me in mind to give you another scolding for sending me those square little sneers about my writing.— who ever read hieroglyphics, without the context, & is not my hand more like hieroglyphics than common writing? Bad hand as it is, it serve me to tell you, you are my own dear Emma, & there is an end of my scolding!.

For the last three days, I have been working very hard at my Glen Roy Paper—the three day’s moving of my goods rested me almost as much as a visit in the country,—I have finished 65 pages & have only fifteen more, so I think I shall have done them by Wednesday.—

You will say, that the house is too good, when you hear, that I have lost all wish of going beyond the limits of our spacious & beautiful garden.— To day however, it rained so heavily, that I had my walk in the drawing room. With a little judgment we shall make that room comfortable I can see.—

I have been trying the plan of working for an hour before breakfast & find it succeeds admirably— I jump up, (following Sir. W. Scott’s rule, for as he says, once turn on your side, & all is over) at 8, & breakfast at ten, so that I get rather more than an hour,—& begin again at eleven quite fresh.— You see I quote Sir. W. Scott. I am reading in the evenings at the Athenæum his life, & am in the sixth volume.—1 I never read anything so interesting as his diary, & yet somehow I do not feel much reverence, or even affection towards him, excepting to be sure, when he is talking about Johnie, his grandson.— I am well off for books, for I have a second in hand there, almost more interesting & that is poor Mungo Park’s travels, which I never read before.—2 it is enough to make one angry to think that having escaped once, he would return again: and yet to a man, possessing the coolness under danger, which Park had, I can fancy nothing so intensely interesting as exploring such a wonderful country: it is a strange mixture our love of excitement & tranquillity. You will say, a little excitement at the theatre is very good for the soul & I shall say a little tranquillity at home is better for the body.—

I wish the awful day was over. I am not very tranquil, when I think of the procession, it is very awesome.— By the bye, I am glad to say the 24th. is on a Thursday, so we shall not be married on an unlucky day.— I have been very extravagant & ordered a great many new clothes: Mr Stewart wanted me to have a blue coat & white trousers, but I vowed I would only put on clothes, in which I could travel away decently.— I want you very much to come & take charge of the purse strings, as I have already bought several things, which I do not much want.—

You tell me to mention when I received your last letter: it came on Friday, the day after it was written.— Good night & good bye my dearest. C. D.—

Monday Morning. Fanny has just called, she has made all enquiries about the Cook, whom Sarah recommended, & has determined she is the best, & therefore has agreed to take her at 14£. 14s per year with tea & sugar.— The Hensleighs have strongly urged me to send the odious yellow curtains to the dyers at once, & have them stained some very pale, drab, slate, or gray colour: Now will you send me word by return of post, whether you would like me to do so; & choose to trust to my taste & that of the Dyers,—or whether you choose to wait, till after our marriage. the evil of waiting, is that we may have to wait some weeks, as Dyers are slow gentlemen: & therefore the Hensleighs have recommended me: send word by Thursday Post time, & I will send them or not according to your orders.—


Park 1799. Park lost his life during his exploration of the Niger River.


Lockhart, J. G. 1837–8. Memoirs of the life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart. 7 vols. Edinburgh: Robert Cadell. London: John Murray and Whittaker and Co.

Park, Mungo. 1799. Travels in the interior districts of Africa: performed under the direction and patronage of the African Association, in the years 1795, 1796, and 1797 … with an appendix, containing geographical illustrations of Africa by Major Rennell. London: W. Bulmer and Co.


Has been with the Lyells doing geology.

Is reading a biography of Sir W. Scott [J. G. Lockhart, Memoirs of the life of Sir Walter Scott (1837–8)]; also Mungo Park’s book [Travels (1799)].

Has hired a cook at fourteen guineas a year with tea and sugar.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
London, Upper Gower St, 12
JA—7 1839
Source of text
DAR 210.8: 11
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 484,” accessed on 12 June 2024,

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