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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Susan Darwin   27[–8] April [1843]

Thursday 27th. April

My dear Susan

I was exceedingly glad to get so good an account of my Father— How you & my Father can take so much interest about Down, as to like to hear all the foolish particulars I send you is something wonderful.— Your sympathy in people’s pleasures, if you will allow me to criticize you both to your faces, always makes me full of admiration and envy.— The Vestry met on Monday & everyone was as civil, as civil could be: (by the way Mr Phillips,1 the opponent of Sir J. Lubbock, sent us the other day a present of three enormously fine fat fowls & how we are to make any return I do not know). The lowering the lane is trifling in depth, viz when complete to stand 2 feet lower than at present in one part, & only 18 inches in other parts: the considerable length of road which is to be lowered makes the job rather heavy— Mr Tombs foreman here, Mr Vinson, a sort of jack of all knowledge, has measured the road & is calculating the cubic yards to be removed, & I am then going to contract with some one, probably Laslett for the whole job— I have determined to have a 6feet ’ 6inch wall (showing only 4’6 on the inside) the whole length, which will cost 72£. The publicity of the place at present is intolerable.— Vinson from the effects of a 1£ present & the hopes of another has been infinitely useful; he has laid out new approach, & is going to make me a plan & agreement for the passage to the new Hall Door. I suspect he is an old rogue, but he is a useful one.—

Friday. I was called off yesterday to speak to workmen at 9 oclock yesterday & excepting an hours rest on the sofa at luncheon time I was on my legs till 5 oclock: this is the way I pass most days & am too much knocked up in the evenings.— I see my Father asks more details about the lane: the length to be lowered is about 170 yards: there will neither be a hollow or bank, but the present gently inclined lane will be made at one end a little steeper, & at the other end less so, in the middle it will have its present inclination but will be two foot lower.— Vinson expects the wheeling and remaking the road will cost me 38£!!.— You ask also about the liquid manure; part of my apparatus is complete & the tank is made & is now beginning to fill: I hope to try one cask this spring.—

I am glad my Father advises me not to leave home till my workmen have finished: I am sure if some former owner of this place had been here when his work was going on, parts could not have been done so badly. I think the house will be a substantial one now, which was far from the case when these alterations commenced; as one of the bricklayers often says to me with a gloomy shake of his head “a most deceptious property to buy Sir”.— Emma’s bedroom will be truly magnificent; I quite grudge it her.—2

Thank my Father for his offer of lending me money; I shall indeed be run short before July & I think the least sum which will carry me through will be a cool 300£,3 which will make, I think 2500£ altogether borrowed: on reflection I am pretty sure, 300£ will not be enough altogether though perhaps it will for present half year.— I will write in time when I want to borrow.— I have got 429£ in Bank & 84£ in my great iron-chest.

Ever yours | C. Darwin


William Waker Phillips, Down farmer and landowner.
Alterations to the house and grounds are described in Atkins 1974, pp. 23–5.
According to CD’s Account Book (Down House MS) he received the £300 on 10 June.


Atkins, Hedley J. B. 1974. Down, the home of the Darwins: the story of a house and the people who lived there. London: Royal College of Surgeons.


Describes alterations being made at Down House. Accepts father’s offer to lend him money.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Susan Elizabeth Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 92: A11–13
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 673,” accessed on 30 September 2023,

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