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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Emily Catherine Darwin1   [c. June 1823]2


My dear Bobby,

I am afraid you were very angry at my not writing to you by my Sisters but upon my word I did not open my box and find your very entertaining letter till after they were gone.— I am very much obliged to you for it. The ink is so thick and pen so bad that you must excuse this bad hand—

I am very glad that you will go this tour to Cambridge—it will be so very pleasant for you—

We spent a pleasant day at Parkfields4 the other day—and came back the next day to breakfast— You have no idea how I long to see you again my dear Charles and Laboratory also— I have won 3s==6d at Cards at Parkfields but I lost 2s==6d at Maer— How snug the Laboratory will be in Winter!! How does Mineralogy, Botany, Chemistry and Entmology,5 go on?

Charlotte6 is coming home today though I dislike her in general yet the party is today so dull without Marianne7 and Susan that I shall be very glad to see her again—

I hope you will be able to read this— I have the good news to tell you that Aunt Kitty has very goodnaturedly brought some very pretty Specime⁠⟨⁠ns⁠⟩⁠ of di⁠⟨⁠ffer⁠⟩⁠ent Fossils and Spars.8 My ⁠⟨⁠s⁠⟩⁠pirits are pretty good in spite of the thoughts of the Incantations & Whippings of Mrs Mayer,—9 This Morning I heard that when they were naughty she locked them up with their hands tied behind them. Pleasing Prospects10

Pray write to me dearest Bobby I shall so like to hear from you.— Of Course you will burn this letter the moment you have read it—and if you show this letter to any body I will never write to you any more— I am very sorry to write you such a short stupid one— We set off at six th⁠⟨⁠is⁠⟩⁠ evening— yr ever affectionate | E. C. Darwin


CD’s younger sister, usually called ‘Catherine’ or ‘Catty’ by the family.
Dated from the references to the Cambridge tour, which was planned for early July 1823 (see letter from E. A. Darwin, 18 May 1823), and to Kitty Wedgwood, who died in 1823.
Maer Hall, near Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, home of Josiah Wedgwood II.
The home of Sarah, Mrs Josiah Wedgwood I, (CD’s grandmother) and her daughters, Catherine (Kitty) and Sarah Elizabeth (Sarah), near Barlaston, Staffordshire. Mrs Wedgwood had lived there until her death in 1815; Kitty died there in 1823; Sarah Elizabeth moved in 1827 to Camp Hill, a house built for her near Maer Hall.
In the Autobiography, p. 45, CD remembers observing insects ‘with some little care’ as early as 1819, but gives his second cousin, William Darwin Fox, credit for introducing him to entomology at Cambridge in 1828 (ibid., p. 63).
Marianne Darwin, CD’s eldest sister.
A general term for a number of crystalline minerals.
Mrs Mayer’s school was at Greville House, on Paddington Green, London. CD’s cousins, Frances and Emma Wedgwood, had been placed there in January 1822. Henrietta Emma Litchfield, commenting on the teaching, says, ‘In French history they never got beyond Charlemagne, as with every new girl the class began again at the beginning with Clovis.’ (Emma Darwin (1915) 1: 141).
The passage ‘This Morning … Prospects —’ has been heavily crossed through in pencil and across it in another hand is written ‘A mistake it was another school’.


Autobiography: The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809–1882. With original omissions restored. Edited with appendix and notes by Nora Barlow. London: Collins. 1958.

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


Writes, while visiting the Wedgwoods at Maer and Parkfields, to thank CD for his "entertaining letter".

She misses him and the laboratory.

Asks "how Mineralogy, Botany, Chemistry and Entomology go on".

Letter details

Letter no.
Emily Catherine (Catherine) Darwin/Emily Catherine (Catherine) Langton
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 204: 1
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7,” accessed on 3 February 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 1