skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From M. C. Stanley   14 September 1875

Fairhill, | Tunbridge.

Sept 14/75

Dear Mr. Darwin

It was very good of you to write to me yesty. & I thank you much for telling me such exact truth. I was very much disappointed not to go to Down, but shd. have been in despair had I found myself arriving at an inconvenient moment.1 I must now defer my visit till November, for we go to the North early next week.

I went on to Keston to see Mr. Carlyle; the country air has done him great good & I want him to linger on at Keston till the fine weather leaves us.2 I suspect he is getting rather dull, & is half sorry to have been so unsociable to his neighbours on his first arrival! I was in the New Forest the other day & saw some birch trees with bark exactly like that of the birch in Holwood which I remember hearing you speak of.3

Believe me | dear Mr Darwin | Yrs very sincerely | M C Derby

I hope Mrs Darwin’s headache has passed away


CD’s letter to Stanley (Lady Derby) has not been found, but evidently concerned a planned visit to Down on 13 September 1875, the same day as Nikolai Alekseevich Severtsov and Henry Eeles Dresser visited (see letter to H. E. Dresser, [10 September 1875] and n. 2). In a letter to Leonard Darwin, 14 September 1875, Henrietta Emma Litchfield wrote, ‘the horror was great when there came a letter from Ly. Derby proposing to come at the very same time & special messengers had to be sent off to stop them’ (DAR 258: 1646).
Lord Derby (Edward Henry Stanley) had put Keston Lodge, Keston, Kent, at Thomas Carlyle’s disposal for the summer of 1875 (D. A. Wilson 1898, p. 334). Carlyle visited Down on 26 August and 12 and 19 September 1875 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Holwood House is a country house in Keston, Kent. CD had known the previous owner, Robert Monsey Rolfe, Lord Cranworth. Lady Derby herself had stayed there for a time (letter from M. C. Stanley, [16 November 1871] (to be published in the next supplement), and died there (ODNB).


ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.

Wilson, David Alec. 1898. Mr Froude and Carlyle. London: William Heinemann


Thanks CD for telling her "such exact truth". She saw Thomas Carlyle at Keston – the country air has done him good – "he is half sorry to have been so unsociable on his first arrival".

Letter details

Letter no.
Mary Catherine Stanley, countess of Derby
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Fairhill, Tunbridge
Source of text
DAR 162: 167
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10157,” accessed on 22 October 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23