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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Susan Darwin   [27 November 1844?]1


My dear Susan

I have to thank you for two business notes— I understand all about the money, & am much obliged for it.— it will just carry me through the half year.—

Thank, also, my Father for his medical advice— I have been very well since Friday, nearly as well, as during the first fortnight & am in heart again about the non-sugar plan.— I am trying the very bitter, weak, but thoroughly fermented Indian Ale, for luncheon & it suits me very well.—2

Our prize in the lottery, the China the Barberini vase, & wax releifs are all come & a very fine prize it is.—3

Poor Emma keeps very bad; I hope you will manage to stay more than one day.—4

Now for my main object in writing, viz to enclose Mr. Higgins5 very clear & sensible note (& I, likewise, enclose his former one.). I doubt whether Mr. Higgins’ information applies to the South of Kent, but, upon the whole I believe, I had better come into the Lincolnshire plan.— I keep quite of opinion, that it is very adviseable to have part of one’s property in land. Sir John Lubbock was paying a long call here yesterday, & I consulted him a bit: he tells me, that in all this part of Kent, land is most absurdly dear; but he was quite of opinion, that it was very wise to invest something in land. If my Father still approves, I will write to Mr Higgins to thank him for his note; & shall I, in my Father’s name, ask him to continue his look out & let my Father hear.— If the better one of the two estates, mentioned in his former note, remain unsold, perhaps it would do; & being within a few miles of Claythorpe, is an advantage, as, when you visit your estate you can rummage up my tenant.—6 How very grand we shall be, when we go arm & arm & astonish our tenants.—

Please return Mr: Higgins’ two notes.

Ever your’s | C. Darwin


This letter was probably written between CD’s visit to Shrewsbury 18–29 October 1844 (see Correspondence vol. 3, Appendix II) and 26 March 1845, the date of an agreement (DAR 210.25) drawn up between Robert Waring Darwin and James Whiting Yorke for the purchase and sale of the estate at Beesby, Lincolnshire, which was eventually conveyed to CD (see letter to John Higgins, 15 March 1845). The precise date is conjectured from an entry dated 24 November 1844 in CD’s Account Book (Down House MS) recording the receipt of £98 0s. 2d. from his father, which may be the money referred to in the opening sentence of this letter. See also nn. 2 and 4, below.
For a discussion of CD’s use of bitter ale and the ‘non-sugar plan’ see Colp 1977, p. 37. An entry in CD’s Account Book (Down House MS) dated 21 November 1844 records the purchase of a quantity of ale from a merchant in Henrietta Street during a trip to London. Beer for normal household purposes was obtained from William Lewis, the Down brewer.
This may refer to a lottery for some of the effects of Josiah Wedgwood II, or for items removed from Etruria prior to its auction in August 1844. However, the reference to the Barberini vase suggests that it was for some of the belongings of R. W. Darwin, since CD is known to have acquired a Wedgwood copy of the Barberini vase through his father, and to have subsequently donated it to the Museum of Practical Geology (Meteyard 1875, p. 302). CD may have had a second vase, but there is no record of it and it was not in his possession in 1875 (Meteyard 1875, pp. 303–4). The wax reliefs are doubtless some of those prepared by John Flaxman and other artists as models for Wedgwood bas-reliefs; they may well have come into the Darwin family through Josiah Wedgwood II, who casually distributed them among his relations (J. C. Wedgwood 1908, p. 185). CD sold the wax reliefs in 1858 and probably gave away the Barberini vase at this time (Calendar, letters 2236 and 2323).
Susan visited Down on Sunday, 8 December, see letter from J. D. Hooker, 12 December 1844.
John Higgins was a land agent who managed farms owned by Susan and Robert Waring Darwin.
If the conjectured date of the letter is correct then this estate cannot be the one that CD ultimately purchased (see letter from John Higgins, 15 March 1845) despite the similar locations.


Calendar: A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882. With supplement. 2d edition. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.

Colp, Ralph, Jr. 1977. To be an invalid: the illness of Charles Darwin. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Wedgwood, Josiah C. 1908. A history of the Wedgwood family. London.


Sends thanks for money.

Comments on treatment prescribed by his father.

Encloses notes by John Higgins with investment advice. Discusses advisability of investing in farmland in Lincolnshire. Cites advice of Sir John Lubbock concerning purchase of land.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Susan Elizabeth Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 92: A9–10
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 833,” accessed on 23 May 2022,

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