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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Anne Marsh-Caldwell   27 November [1866]1

Linley Wood | Nr. Lawton | Cheshire

Nor. 27th

My dear Mr. Darwin

I long to say My dear Charles—but cannot venture upon that liberty with so renowned a man—2

Rosamond is at present staying with the Corbets—at the nice place they have taken near Oxford3—& she has just written to ask me by Mr. Corbets desire to write to you— He is the blind Mr. Corbet—who is I believe an acquaintance of yours4—but any how he has sent to ask me to write—&, as one never denies that dear Mr. Corbet anything—I trouble you with this— He has been troubled now, for more than a year—with poor health—nothing very important the matter—I believe—only just the destruction of all his comfort from constant malaise—fits of sleeplessness—depression of spirit—dislike to mental exertion—even a dread of those scientific & intellectual conversations in which he used to take all his delight— in short every one who has been thoroughly out of order knows the whole horrid dragons of such a state— Hearing from Rosamond what diet has done for you5—in which all to your most distant friends so heartily rejoice—he has desired her—“to ask if you would mind to Mr. Charles Darwin to ask what was the diet he pursued— he is an old friend of Mr. Corbets but they have not corresponded for some years— he would be glad if you would tell him— he has often thought of his old friend & felt for his sufferings— I have told Mrs Corbet6 how much better Mr Darwin has been for diet—& he is anxious to know the particulars— I am convinced a great part of his miserable feelings arise from his inattention to these matters—.... Poor man he suffers very much— if Mr Darwin or Mrs. Darwin7 would write to him straight—he would be very glad—& would like so much to hear from his old friend” So far Rosamond—& if you or Mrs. Darwin would be so kind as to write direct to him—I am sure that the letter would be a great gratification—as well as far more likely to have its due effect— I must beg of you not to give one moment of your precious strength to acknowledging this letter— I have just heard from Elizabeth W8 how well you are & heartily heartily rejoice

Kindest love to Emma (Mrs. Darwin) I mean— I did so grieve to lose my own share—in sweetest Susan9—but they go away so sadly fast—those I loved in early happy days

Always believe me to be | very truly yours | Anne Marsh Caldwell


The year is established by the reference to the death of Susan Elizabeth Darwin (see n. 9, below).
The Caldwell family of Linley Wood, Talke, Staffordshire had been neighbours and frequent visitors of Josiah Wedgwood II and his wife, Elizabeth (Wedgwood and Wedgwood 1980, p. 175). Anne lived at Linley Wood until she married in 1817 and resumed residence there with her three unmarried daughters in 1860 (DNB). Emma Darwin referred to the Caldwells as ‘old friends’ (letter from Emma Darwin to G. H. Darwin, [28 November 1881] (DAR 210.3: 32)).
Rosamond Jane Marsh-Caldwell, Anne’s daughter, was staying with Richard Corbet and his son Rowland William Corbet at Headington Hill house, Oxford (Post Office directory of Northamptonshire 1869; Alum. Cantab. s.v. Rowland William Corbett).
Richard Corbet had formerly resided at Adderly Hall, Adderly, near Market Drayton in Shropshire (Post Office directory of Gloucestershire, with Bath, Bristol, Herefordshire, and Shropshire 1863). It is likely that he first became acquainted with CD when CD was still living at the family home in Shrewsbury.
The reference is to Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood.
Susan Elizabeth Darwin died in October 1866.


Alum. Cantab.: Alumni Cantabrigienses. A biographical list of all known students, graduates and holders of office at the University of Cambridge, from the earliest times to 1900. Compiled by John Venn and J. A. Venn. 10 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1922–54.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Post Office directory of Gloucestershire, with Bath, Bristol, Herefordshire, and Shropshire: Post Office directory of Gloucestershire, with Bath, Bristol, Herefordshire, and Shropshire. Post Office directory of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, and the City of Bristol. Post Office directory of Shropshire, Herefordshire, and Gloucestershire, with the City of Bristol. London: Kelly & Co. 1856–79.

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


Writing for Mr Corbet, she asks what diet has helped in the treatment of CD’s illness.

Letter details

Letter no.
Anne Caldwell/Anne Marsh/Anne Marsh-Caldwell
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Lawton, Cheshire
Source of text
DAR 171: 41
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5286,” accessed on 21 June 2024,

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