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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Mary-Anne Herbert   [5 May 1842]

12 Upper Gower St


My dear Mrs. Herbert

I am very much obliged to you for so quickly sending me Mr. Mears answer— it has destroyed some pleasant castles in airs—but house-hunters are doomed to suffer the greatest misfortunes & ought to be the most patient of men.— It is very obliging of Mr Mears’ being willing to bear my wishes regarding a house in mind.— Should Herbert chance to have any further communication, it would be worth while to inform him, that I consider five miles from a Railway Station as the length of my tether.

With many thanks believe me dear Mrs. Herbert | Yours very truly | C. Darwin

My wife left me on Tuesday with children for Staffordshire1 so that in the language of Boz2 I am a widow & an orphan.


On Tuesday, 3 May 1842, Emma travelled to Maer (see Emma Darwin (1904) 2: 36).
Charles DickensSketches by ‘Boz’.


Emma Darwin (1904): Emma Darwin, wife of Charles Darwin. A century of family letters. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. Cambridge: privately printed by Cambridge University Press. 1904.


Acknowledges Mrs H’s disappointing answer to his quest for a house in the country. Five miles from a railway station is "the length of my tether".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Mary Anne Johnes/Mary Anne Herbert
Sent from
London, Upper Gower St, 12
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 628,” accessed on 2 March 2024,

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