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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Susan Darwin   3[–4] September 1845


Wednesday 3rd Sept., 1845.

My dear Susan

Please to thank Jos1 for the Railway Dividend; and further ask him how it comes, that as additional shares were bought in our three Railways in July of this year, the last Dividends in all three have been the same as hitherto. It is long since I have written to you, and now I am going to write such a letter, as I verily believe no other family in Britain would care to receive, viz., all about our household and money affairs; but you have often said that you like such particulars. First, however, I am sorry to say, that poor Emma is more uncomfortable to-day than before: but her teeth are better than two days: she really has had a most suffering time and it has been so provoking that no one could come here to comfort her: Elizabeth2 would have been such a pleasure to her. When we shall move, and what we shall do, must remain in the clouds.3 Erasmus is here yet; he must have found it woefully dull for I also have not been up to my average: but as he was to have gone on Saturday and then on Monday and willingly stayed, we have the real pleasure to think, wonderful as it is, that Down is not now duller to him than Park St. I have taken my Bismuth regularly, I think it has not done me quite so much good, as before;4 but I am recovering from too much exertion with my Journal: I am extremely pleased my Father likes the new edition.

I have just balanced my 12 years accounts and feel exactly as if some one had given me one or two hundred per annum: this last half year, our expenses with some extras has only been 456£, that is excluding the new Garden wall; so that allowing Christmas half year to be about a 100£ more, we are living on about 1000£ per annum: moreover this last year, subtracting extraordinary receipts, has been 1400£ so that we are as rich as Jews. Caroline5 always foresaw that our expenditure would fall. We are now undertaking some great earthworks; making a new walk in the K. Garden; and removing the mound under the Yews, on which the evergreens, we found did badly, and which, as Erasmus has always insisted was a great blemish in hiding part of the Field and the old Scotch-firs; and now that we have Sale’s corner, we do not want it for shelter. We are making a mound which will be excavated by all the family, viz., in front of the door out of the house, between two of the Lime Trees: we find the winds from the N. intolerable, and we retain the view from the grass mound and in walking down to the orchard. It will make the place much snugger, though a great blemish till the evergreens grow on it. Erasmus has been of the utmost service, in scheming and in actually working; making creases in the turf, striking circles, driving stakes, and such jobs. He has tired me out several times.6

Thursday morning. I had not time to finish my foolish letter yesterday, so I will today: Emma intends lying in bed till Luncheon, so that I shall not be able to say how she really is. Our grandest scheme, is the making our schoolroom and one (or as I think it will turn out) two small bedrooms. Mr Cresy is making a plan and he assures me all shall be done for 300£. The servants complained to me, what a nuisance it was to them to have the passage for everything only through the Kitchen: again Parslow’s pantry is too small to be tidy, and some small room is terribly wanted to put strangers into (as you have often insisted on) and all these things will be effected by our plan; and besides there is another advantage equally great. If it is done for 350£, which with Murray 150£ I can pay out of my income I shall think it worth while. It seemed so selfish making the house so luxurious for ourselves and not comfortable for our servants, that I was determined if possible to effect their wishes; and had we not built a schoolroom and bedroom; we should have had only two spare bed-rooms; so that for instance, we could never have had anyone to meet the Hensleighs7 and their children. So I hope the Shrewsbury conclave will not condemn me for extreme extravagance: though now that we are reading aloud Walter Scott’s life,8 I sometimes think that we are following his road to ruin at a snail-like pace. We have had some more turmoil in the village (though I have not yet been involved): old Price has been agitating building a wall across the pool, but thank Heavens he has at last aroused everybodies anger, except Sir Johns: Capt. Crosse told him the old women would hoot him through the village:9 and Mr. Smith cut short his usual rigmarole of his “having no selfish motives” by asking him, “if it is not for yourself, who the devil is it for?” Mr. Ainslie, the new Methodist resident at old Cockle’s10 house is also litigious and has been altering the road illegally; and defies us all, casting in our teeth that we allowed Mr. Price


CD and Emma had been planning a visit to Shrewsbury followed by a tour to York and Lincolnshire, intending to start at the end of August (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [11–12 July 1845]). They eventually left on 15 September.
See Colp 1977, p. 37, for an account of the therapeutic uses of bismuth.
Caroline Wedgwood, CD’s sister.
Atkins 1974, pp. 24–6, gives further details of the work undertaken at this time at Down. CD’s Account Book (Down House MS) records payments made to Isaac Withers Laslett for a shed and walls, to William Sales for ‘Permission to build wall’, and sums for extra labour between July and September.
Edgar Cockell, surgeon and apothecary of Down.


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.

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. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Lockhart, J. G. 1837–8. Memoirs of the life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart. 7 vols. Edinburgh: Robert Cadell. London: John Murray and Whittaker and Co.


"All about household and money matters." The family is now living on about £1000 per annum. Plans a new walk and additions to the house.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Susan Elizabeth Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 153: 109
Physical description
C 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 913,” accessed on 5 March 2024,

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