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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Hensleigh Wedgwood   25 September [1842]


Sunday Sepr 25

Dear Charles

I am very sorry I wrote in such an excessively hurried manner to you, but as that was the second day I had heard it did not occur to me as possible that the same news should not have reached you, forgetting that the first news had been sent by a special parcel. As it was I am surprised at your not having heard on Friday as Charlotte wrote to you on Wednesday.1

The first day I came down here there was a great change for the better— the shaking all but entirely gone & my father quite himself & comfortable—taking a little food every now & then & speaking when he wanted anything only seeing illusions once or twice in the day Yesterday he was not so well. The shaking has returned in a considerable degree tho’ not near to its’ former extent; occasionally getting very restless & wanting to get up to settle affairs & by degrees getting to wander almost continually I sat up with him the first part of last night when the rambling was incessant, with a vague impression of his condition however & about an hour & a halfs sleep altogether. It is a great blessing however that he is in a comfortable state upon the whole— he laughed two or three times at mistakes that he made & was now & then satisfied that the things he saw were ‘some of his illusions’— Things are going on much in the same way this morning. Sometimes when one tells him there is nothing, he says ‘are you sure’ & then is satisfied that we are much more likely to be right than him. He asked me last night whether his father were living, & who was in his place, what he died of, & whether by natural decay or by medicine

Elizabeth keeps up pretty well tho’ she is very anxious— I do not think she is aware of what seems to me the imminent prospect of my father’s end.2 On Friday when speaking of the cessation of the shaking she said she did not see why he should not recover. I have little experience in these matters, but I cannot think that it is anything but a sinking more or less gradual

I hope this will find Emma in a more comfortable condition3

Your affecte| H Wedgwood.

Your note of Friday arrived yesterday — we think Charlottes letter must have gone to Down.

Down—Kent was the direction mentioned at Shrewsbury


A letter (21 September 1842) from Charlotte Langton to Emma Darwin, describing a crisis in the illness of Josiah Wedgwood II, is preserved in the Keele University Library, Mosley Collection 1383.
He lived on until 12 July 1843.
Mary Eleanor Darwin was born on 23 September 1842 at Down House.


Gives an account of his father’s illness.

Letter details

Letter no.
Hensleigh Wedgwood
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
SP 25 1842
Source of text
V&A / Wedgwood Collection (MS W/M 258)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 644,” accessed on 1 June 2023,

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