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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Susan Darwin   [late July–August 1842]

12 Upper Gower St


My dear Susan

I have bad news about Down.— It is peremtorily refused to let it first.— The attorney told Mr Cresy that it is mortgaged, for 2500£, which has made all the delay, as he & Mr Drummond1 cannot, apparently agree.— Mr Cresy comforts me, by assuring me it would be a rash thing to take a house by rent under this sort of affair, that perhaps my furniture might be seized for interest not paid up.— I have therefore after many groans, offered £2150. or at most 2200£— They ask £2500.2 Emma though not liking the place so well as I, is less fearful of the result than I am.— We shall have answer on Monday night.—

Mr Cresy encouraged me strongly to purchase; he considers the place so great a bargain & further considers (that if properly managed) it would be extraordinary for the place if offered for sale again to remain so long unsold, as it now has. He argues that if after trying it for a few years, we were sure we did not like it, he would almost pledge himself to give me 2000£ for it, so that the loss could not be ruinous like it might be if we had bought almost any other place we have seen, which were all above 3000£. All other places required extensive alterations: this does not absolutely require any, except perhaps increase of drawing room, & the house has new roofs & appears very solid throughout, though oldish & ugly.— Mr Cresy is a sensible man, & very friendly.— if I am deceived in him, I am done for: but I dont think it— I have written to Mr Haycock3 about remunerating him— He was very unwilling I shd offer 2200 & wanted me to stop at 2100—but I remembered Westcroft.— Emma on the whole is very glad— We could not have looked more this autumn, as Emma finds it too great undertaking, so we should have been compelled to have remained in London for half a year more & what with visiting in the country & being in the family way, we might have been two or three years.—

Mr Cresy comforts me, by saying from experience of some years, he is sure for my purpose I shall find Down quite near enough.— He lives nearly twice as far, but then he keeps comfortable chambers & beds in London.— He tells me he found living in the country a great reduction in his expences.— He offers me to give me instructions about keeping pigs, poultry & cows cheap, which he says he has studied & finds answers.— He further tells me, (though he says he cannot explain it) that he positively knows that Down is a very cheap place, that is, he says he can hire labour for his works there considerably cheaper than near his own house, or other parts near London.—


The Reverend James Drummond, owner of Down House.
The purchase price was about £2,200 (Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 75).


Emma Darwin (1915): Emma Darwin: a century of family letters, 1792–1896. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1915.


Has made an offer for house at Down, renting having been refused. Discusses price, risks involved, and Edward Cresy’s advice.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Susan Elizabeth Darwin
Sent from
London, Upper Gower St, 12
Source of text
DAR 92: A16–17
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 634,” accessed on 1 March 2024,

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