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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Caroline Wedgwood   [27 October 1839]

12 Upper Gower St.

Sunday Evening.

My dear Caroline.

We were very glad to get your letter—not only for the letter itself, which is a novelty, but as a sign your eyes are better.— I am very glad you are able to read again: I don’t think I should be able to muster the smallest portion of Job’s patience if I were prevented reading.— After a good book I always come to the conclusion that talking is insiped employment.— You have alighted on rather a poor correspondent in me for a couple of reasons, and first that Emma, like a good girl, has taken the office almost entirely on herself, & I have only written once to Shrewsbury since our return to town; and my second reason is, the extreme quietness with which we are living— Camp-hill is quite gay compared with Gower Street— we see nothing, do nothing & hear nothing, & this to my mind is the perfection of life.— I find I cannot stand going out in the Evening— I can just last through the 24 hours if I am quite quiet after dinner.— I can barely stand the Hensleighs & Erasmus.— They & Mrs. Rich dined with us a few Evenings since and a singularly pleasant party we had: that and one tea-party at the Lyells has been the whole of our dissipation since we came back.— This evening, however, we are going to the Hensleigh’s to tea.— One of my days is as like another as two peas.— as you say you want to know all about us—I will give you a specimen; which will serve for every day— Get up punctually at seven leaving Emma dreadful sleepy & comfortable, set to work after the first torpid feeling is over, and write about Coral formations till ten; go up stairs & find that Emma has been down stairs about half an hour, eat our breakfast, sit in our arm-chairs—and I watch the clock as the hand travels sadly too fast to half past eleven— Then to my study & work till 2 o’clock luncheon time: Emma generally comes & does a little work in my room & sits as quiet as a mouse.— After Luncheon I generally have some job in some part of the town & Emma walks with me part of the way—dinner at six—& very good dinners we have— Sit in an apoplectic state, with slight snatches of reading till half past seven—tea, lesson of German,1 occasionally a little music & a little reading & then bed-time makes a charming close to the day.— I fear poor Emma must find her life rather monotonous— my only comfort is how much worse it would have been if I had been in any business & nevertheless had not a better stomach. The poor thing has been but poorly every other or third day since we came back, which has been a great disappointment to me: But she is, I hope essentially going on well & undeniably growing.—2 My idiocyncrasy making me detest the sight of all friends & relatives has caused me to see scarcely anything of Erasmus, but he appeared very well & in good spirits the day he dined with us— He takes no wine or smoke, but sticks to his opium with many groans— If you want a book I recommend Carlyle’s Miscellaneous Works3 —the reviews are certainly well worth reading, or rather I would say taking a little like a dose of physic.— for one becomes, as I have become quite nauseated with his mysticism, his intentional obscurity & affectation.— nevertheless it is very curious to discover what different kinds of minds there are in the world, viz T. Carlyle’s & any common Englishman’s at the opposite end of the scale— I admire your boldness in beginning King’s volume—. You will be amused with FitzRoy’s Deluge Chapter—4 Lyell, who was here to-day, has just read it, & he says it beats all the other nonsense he has ever read on the subject.— I was delighted a few days since by hearing the news that the FitzRoys are going to move to a house, given them by their Uncle Col. Wood,5 15 miles from London.— I am right glad of it— Although I owe very much to FitzR. I, for many reasons, am anxious to avoid seeing much of him.— I called, the other day, on Mrs. FitzRoy & paid her rather a long call— She was looking thin but was very gracious—rather too patronizing, but then this cannot be wondered at from so very beautiful & religious a lady.— You enquire about my taste for the country— my last visit I consider a very fortunate one— it has cured me of much sentiment & silliness— in fact I hate the thought of the Country— the ennui & rain of Maer has effected a thorough cure. I shudder when I think of a damp, dull green view: London is so cheerful; thank Goodness we shall not leave it for 6 months. I wish there was one more of our family set, yourselves for instance, in Gower St. and then London would be perfect— What trouble you have had on the score of houses— I am glad however you have not to change in the dead of winter— Good bye, my very dear old Caroline. Emma sends her best love; and she would have sent a page if I had left room— Pray give Jos my thanks for the crockery specimens for Henslow— the idea of the coloured plates was capital—

Good bye, my dear old Governess— | C. D—

P.S. You must write again, for I never hear eno’ news of you, no more than you don’t of us—


CD began to study German on 5 February 1839 (‘Journal’; Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II).
Emma was pregnant. A son, William Erasmus, was born on 27 December 1839.
Narrative 2: 657–82: ‘A very few remarks with reference to the deluge’.
Colonel Thomas Wood’s wife was Robert FitzRoy’s aunt.


Carlyle, Thomas. 1838–9. Critical and miscellaneous essays. 4 vols. Boston. 2d ed. 5 vols. London. 1840.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Narrative: Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836. [Edited by Robert FitzRoy.] 3 vols. and appendix. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.


Describes his routine for a typical day – writing Coral reefs, studying German.

FitzRoy’s "Deluge Chapter" [Narrative 2, ch. 28] will amuse her.

His opinion of Carlyle’s Critical and miscellaneous essays [1839].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Caroline Sarah (Caroline) Darwin/Caroline Sarah (Caroline) Wedgwood
Sent from
London, Upper Gower St, 12
Source of text
DAR 154: 54
Physical description
C 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 542,” accessed on 17 May 2022,

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