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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Emma Darwin   [3–4 February 1845]1


Monday night

My dear Wife

Now for my day’s annals— In the morning I was baddish, & did hardly any work & was as much overcome by my children, as ever Bishop Coplestone2 was with Duck.3 But the children have been very good all day, & I have grown a good deal better this afternoon, & had a good romp with Baby4 I see, however, very little of the Blesseds— The day was so thick & wet a fog, that none of them went out, though a thaw & not very cold; I had a long pace in the Kitchen Garden: Lewis5 came up to mend the pipe & paper the W.C. in which apartment there was a considerable crowd for about an hour, when Mr Lewis & his son William, Willy Annie, Baby & Bessy6 were there. Baby insisted on going in, I daresay, greatly to the disturbance of Bessy’s delecacy— Lewis from first dinner to second dinner was a first-rate dispensary, as they never left him— They, also, dined in the Kitchen, and I believe have had a particularly pleasant day.—

I was playing with Baby in the window of the drawing-room this morning, & she was blowing a feeble fly (fry) & blew it on its back, when it kicked so hard, that to my great amusement Baby grew red in the face, looked frightened & pushed away from the window.— The children are growing so quite out of all rule in the drawing-room, jumping on everything & butting like young bulls at every chair & sofa, that I am going to have the dining-room fire lighted tomorrow & keep them out of the drawing-room. I declare a months such wear, wd spoil every thing in the whole drawing-room.—

I read Whately’s Shakspeare7 & very ingenious & interesting it is—and what do you think Mitford’s Greece8 has made me begin, the Iliad by Cowper,9 which we were talking of; & have read 3 books with much more pleasure, than I anticipated.— I have given up acids & gone to puddings again.—

Tuesday morning— I am impatient for your letter this morning to hear how you got on.— I asked Willy how Baby has slept & he answered “she did not cry not one mouthful”. My stomach is baddish again this morning & I almost doubt, whether I will go to London, tomorrow; if I do you won’t hear. Poor Annie has had a baddish knock by Willie’s ball in her eye.—it is swelled a bit, but not otherwise bad.

C. D.

Your cap cannot ⁠⟨⁠be⁠⟩⁠ found anywhere: Jane says you took one. 910 of the snow is gone & the children are going out. Very many thanks for your letter10


Date based on nn. 7 and 8, below, and on Henrietta Litchfield’s statement, before her transcription of parts of this letter, that Emma went to Maer in February 1845 (Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 92). Emma’s diary records that she was away between 31 January and 11 February.
Henrietta Litchfield notes, ‘This must be some family joke. Bishop Copleston had been a friend of Sir James Mackintosh.’ (Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 93).
Henrietta Emma Darwin, born 25 September 1843.
John Lewis was a carpenter in Down village (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1845.)
Elizabeth Harding, nursery maid at Down House (see Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 80–1).
T. Whately 1785. The London Library borrowing list records that CD borrowed Thomas Whately’s book on 30 January and returned it on 27 March 1845 (London Library Archives).
Mitford 1784–1818. Volumes two and three of William Mitford’s History of Greece were borrowed from the London Library on 9 January and returned on 27 March 1845 (London Library Archives).
The final paragraph was written in pencil.


Cowper, William, trans. 1791. The Iliad and Odyssey of Homer translated into English blank verse. 2 vols. London.

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

Mitford, William. 1784–1818. History of Greece. 5 vols. London: J. Murray and J. Robson.

Whately, Thomas. 1785. Remarks on some of the characters of Shakespeare. London.


News of the children and books he is reading.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Sotheby’s (dealers) (28 March 1983)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 821,” accessed on 14 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3