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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Henrietta Anne Huxley to Emma Darwin   22 March [1867]1

26 Abbey Place | S’John’s Wood

22 March.

Dear Mrs Darwin

Yet another query about bedsteads & bedding— Will it not be more convenient to have no foot board or foot rails to the bedstead if it has a somnier portatif2 two mattresses— Surely the bed is more easily made & looks better— which have you?— Am I a plague?

I have just got a new nurse—& today she has refused to wheel the perambulator—3 Is it not provoking. I have not yet got an under nurse—

Baby has not solved the riddle for Mr Darwin but thus much I noted the other morning when I entered the nursery— She was anxious to come to me yet did not cry only pushed away her nurse— At the same time the corner of her right eyebrow was very elevated.—but there was no drawing down of her mouth corners—4 Is this observation good for anything?

I am very glad that Horace is better—5 it is so sad to have one’s children ill— It is hard—writing with Baby upon one’s lap—& I had better end

With love to all | I am | Yours very affectionately | Nettie Huxley

CD annotations

1.1 Yet … nurse— 2.2] crossed pencil
3.1 Baby … anything? 3.5] ‘about 5 or 6 months old’6 added pencil
4.1 I am … end 4.2] crossed pencil


The year is established by the age of the Huxleys’ youngest child, and by the reference to Horace Darwin’s illness (see nn. 4 and 5, below).
Sommier portatif: portable spring mattress (French).
The nurse has not been identified.
Ethel Gladys Huxley, the Huxleys’ youngest child, was born in May 1866 (Clark 1968). CD was collecting reports of observations of facial expressions in infants for Expression.
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), on 16 March 1867 Horace Darwin had returned home from school with a fever.
In March 1867, Ethel would have been about ten months old.


Clark, Ronald W. 1968. The Huxleys. London: Heinemann.


Observed expression in her baby for CD.

Letter details

Letter no.
Henrietta Anne Heathorn/Henrietta Anne Huxley
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
London, Abbey Place, 26
Source of text
DAR 166: 287
Physical description
ALS 3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6039,” accessed on 13 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18 (Supplement)