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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Emily Catherine Langton to Emma and Charles Darwin   [6 and 7? January 1866]1

Dearest Emma & Charles

I am so rapidly weaker I can lose no time in sending you all & Elizabeth my dearest farewell.2 It is grievous to think I shall never see any of your dear faces. On New Year’s day I knew this, and what a different world it seems to me.

What I want to say is that poor Susan feels my loss so cruelly—3 I left off this last night as I was too exhausted to go on—

I am grieved indeed at poor Susan’s loneliness, but there seems no help.

My dearest husband will feel my loss too; what a nurse he is, if he was not deaf—4

Every body’s love & goodness to me are past speech—

May God bless you all & may we meet hereafter.




The date is conjectured from the reference to New Year’s day; in 1866, the following Saturday and Sunday were 6 and 7 January. It is also possible that the letter was written on a later weekend in January. Emily Catherine Langton (Catherine) died in early February 1866 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 4 February 1866 and n. 1).
Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood, known as Elizabeth, was Emma Darwin’s sister and Catherine’s cousin (Freeman 1978). Catherine had been in poor health since at least the time of her marriage to Charles Langton in 1863 (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 [August 1863], and Wedgwood and Wedgwood 1980, p. 272). She had discussed her poor health and inability to pay social visits in a letter to Henrietta Emma Darwin of [November 1865] (DAR 219.8: 3).
Susan Elizabeth Darwin, CD and Catherine’s sister, lived at the Mount (their childhood home) in Shrewsbury. She and Catherine had lived together there after their father’s death in 1848 until Catherine moved to another house in Shrewsbury following her marriage to Charles Langton in 1863 (Freeman 1978).
Catherine refers to Charles Langton.


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

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978. Charles Darwin: a companion. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Wedgwood, Barbara and Wedgwood, Hensleigh. 1980. The Wedgwood circle, 1730–1897: four generations of a family and their friends. London: Studio Vista.


CL is aware that she is dying and so says her farewells.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4968,” accessed on 21 June 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14