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Darwin Correspondence Project

To H. E. Litchfield   [after 5] November 18711

November 1871

My dearest Etty—

We were all so rejoiced yesterday, & what a very good girl you are to write us so long a letter—   I did not expect that you would have been able to go. We have been all profoundly interested & touched by your account.— Pray tell Litchfield how much I have been pleased & more than pleased by what he said about me.2 When the address & your letter had been read, the first thought which passed through my mind was “What a grand career he has run,”— but I hope his career is very far from finished.—3 I congratulate you with all my heart at having so noble a husband. What an admirable address, & how well-written. Even You, Miss Rhadamanthus4 could not have improved a word. It is as superior to all ordinary addresses, as some of the old Buccaneer voyages are to modern travels.—

Goodbye, Dearest. Keep quiet. Goodbye. | Your affect. | C. Darwin


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from H. E. Litchfield, [5 November 1871].
Richard Buckley Litchfield had mentioned CD in a speech at the London Working Men’s College (see letter from H. E. Litchfield, [5 November 1871]).
George Tansley had given an address honouring R. B. Litchfield at the London Working Men’s College. See letter from H. E. Litchfield, [5 November 1871].
Rhadamanthus is a character from Greek mythology: a son of Zeus and Europa, and one of the judges in the lower world. The term is used to denote an ‘inflexible judge; a rigorous or severe master’ (OED). Henrietta had first been been called ‘Miss Minor Rhadamanthus’ by Thomas Henry Huxley after she criticised one of his publications (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from T. H. Huxley, 25 February 1863).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


CD is "more than pleased" by what R. B. Litchfield said of him. Congratulates HEL on having "so noble a husband".

All were "profoundly" interested by HEL’s account [of their welcome at the Working Men’s College].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Henrietta Emma Darwin/Henrietta Emma Litchfield
Sent from
Source of text
Emma Darwin (1904) 2: 251–2; DAR 153: 79
Physical description
C 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8040,” accessed on 10 August 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19