skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Emma Darwin   [24 June 1846]1



My dearest old Soul

I was exceedingly glad to get your letter, with so wonderfully good an account of your voyage & of the dear little souls happiness;2 I am glad you took them. Do you not think you had better come back by land? & had you better not stay more than a fortnight, I propose it to you in bonâ fide & wish you to do so, though I do long to have mine own wife back again. Yesterday was gloomy & stormy; I was sick in middle of day, but two pills of opium righted me surprisingly afterwards: however I was extremely glad that Sulivan did not make his appearance.3 The house is getting on well,4 though Lewis5 had a quarrel & turned off all his carpenters: Lucy6 was very goodnatured & took keen interest about one man, whose wife has come from a distance with a Baby & is taken very ill— The poor man was crying with misery, but we have persuaded Lewis to take him back again.

At last the flower garden is looking gay.—

I have been getting on very badly with my work as it has been extremely difficult & I have had so many letters to write.—

Etty7 was very charming, though I did not see much of her yesterday; she is very affectionate to her dolls, but at last got tired of them, & declared with great emphasis, that “she would have a real live Baby” & “Mamma shall buy one for me”— I asked to send a message to you, “say A. B. S, say, big woman in little letter”

Give my very best love to all at Penailly I enclose A. Sarah’s8 letter; I have strongly recommended to bring Henry, but can not repeat all reasons: I have spoken doubtfully about Horse & Phaeton.9

Goodbye, my own old dearest. Kiss the children for me. Etty often talks about them. | Your affect. | C. D.


The date is based on Emma’s notation ‘I at Tenby’ and the notation on letter to Emma Darwin, [25 June 1846], ‘June 1846 to me at Tenby’. The date also accords with the end of Bartholomew James Sulivan’s voyage on 19 June 1846.
Emma took William and Anne Darwin to Tenby, a seaside resort and fishing village in Wales. Several of Emma’s aunts lived there: Emma and Fanny Allen, Jessie de Sismondi, and Harriet Surtees. Emma and the children stayed for eighteen days, returning home by 7 July. See CD’s Account Book (Down House MS) 7 July 1846 and letter to Emma Darwin, [25 June 1846].
Sulivan had just returned from South America. Possibly CD had invited Sulivan to come to Down before meeting him in London on 29 June. See letter to Richard Owen, 21 [June 1846].
According to CD’s Account Book (Down House MS) payments of £150 and £199 for alterations were made to ‘Mr Laslett’ on 13 June and 27 August 1846. Isaac Withers Laslett was the bricklayer in Down.
Presumably a servant at Down House.
Henrietta Emma, who was almost three years old.
Sarah Elizabeth (Sarah) Wedgwood, CD and Emma’s aunt.
Probably a reference to Sarah Wedgwood’s plans to move to Down in 1847. Here she lived the life of a recluse and, according to Henrietta Litchfield, ‘her horse and phaeton seemed to be kept entirely for our service’ (Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 105). Henry Hemmings was one of Sarah Wedgwood’s servants (Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 106).


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


News of progress in remodelling. He and Etty [Henrietta] miss the rest of the family.

Was sick, but "two pills of opium righted me".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.8: 24
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 982,” accessed on 14 April 2024,

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