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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Emma Wedgwood   [20–1 January 1839]



My dear Charles

I sat growling & shivering over the fire most of the day on Friday making “pillow cases” & such like & yesterday I was very poorly in myself not I am sorry to say with grief at parting with you, but all owing to that horrid little bit of stewed beef we had on Thursday & again on Friday & half poisoned two or three of us. So I was rather grieved to receive a call from Mrs Butt & Miss Edwards who were very friendly & gracious & always take me in to believe it all when I am with them. Jos came on Friday in his way to Shrewsbury & had heard from Caroline a very good account of the Dr& the baby. No news from the Langtons yet which is vexatious. I am longing to see dear old Charlotte

Yesterday Eliz. went to Seabridge dined there & came home in the evening. I have not been able to catch her in a reflecting mood, to make yr observation but she told me a fact which I think quite worthy to go down in your book along with the baby’s nods & winks1 viz. that when she coughs very sharply in the dark sparks come out of her eyes as if she had received a blow. What are you doing today my dear old soul. Thinking of me I hope, at any rate wishing yourself well out of the scrape. It is a very fine day today, which piece of information I think the more worth giving as I am sure you will not find it out for yourself. I have no more to say so I will put by my letter & then perhaps you will like to hear what sort of a day it is tomorrow.

Monday Are not you pleased at the frost going & the canal being open. Today the Miss Northens are coming very early & I shall have to do a prodigious quantity of friendship with Ellen who adores me extremely & will want to know all about every thing & my chief aim will be to tell her nothing about any thing. I shall treat her like your sisters do the Owens pretend to be very open & carefully never tell anything. I like her very much however, & she is very superior to the rest of the family. This last week does feel so odd & yet sometimes I think I must be very unfeeling not to mind leaving home & these dear ones more than I do. Caroline Tollet sends word that she wishes to attend the wedding & that they would come on the Tuesday morning supposing there was no bed for her, but we shall manage to find one. The Aclands insist upon having a better account of the wedding than the one I gave Ellen which is very unreasonable so I shall ask Mrs Frank2 to write to them after it is over & I am sure she will do every justice to the subject. I dont believe you read any of Lambs3 letters. Have you read the poor lady’s travels by the railroad in Belgium in the last Athenæum4

for once I found the Ath. entertaining. The description of the whirling along is very good.

Goodbye my dear dear Charley yours Emma W.

I shall be very glad to have your letter.


In July 1838 CD had started a separate notebook, ‘Metaphysics on Morals & Speculations on Expression’. This (Notebook M) was continued in Notebook N during 1839. The baby was Hensleigh Wedgwood’s son Ernest, born in 1838 (see Notebook N: 37). When his own son William was born in December 1839, CD began to keep systematic notes on the child’s development (DAR 210.17) which he later summarised and published as ‘A biographical sketch of an infant’, Mind 2 (1877): 285–94 (Collected papers 2: 191–200). His interest in the expression of the emotions, which continued for more than thirty years, led to the publication of his book on the subject in 1872.
Frances Mosley Wedgwood, wife of Francis (Frank) Wedgwood.


‘Biographical sketch of an infant’: A biographical sketch of an infant. By Charles Darwin. Mind 2 (1877): 285–94. [Shorter publications, pp. 409–16.]

Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

Hood, Thomas. 1839. The railway. In extracts from The comic annual for 1839. Athenæum No. 586: 47–8.

Notebook M. See Barrett 1980; Gruber and Barrett 1974; Theoretical notebooks.

Notebook N. See Barrett 1980; Gruber and Barrett 1974; Theoretical notebooks.

Talfourd, Thomas Noon. 1837. The letters of Charles Lamb, with a sketch of his life. London.


Preparations for the wedding, various callers, and other bits of news.

Letter details

Letter no.
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
22 JA 22 1839
Source of text
DAR 204: 161
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 490,” accessed on 22 September 2023,

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