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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Susan Darwin   29 January [1826]


Jan 29.

My dear Susan

The whole family have been so very good in writing to me so often that I do not know whom to begin to thank first, so to save trouble I return my humble thanks to you all, from my Father down to little Kitty.— The Gaieties of Edinburgh are now just beginning, last week there was an Assembly, & shortly there will be another. Erasmus & ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ intended to have gone to the first, but mean to make it up by going to the next.— We also have been very dissipated.— We dined at Dr. Hawley’s on Saturday, & had a very pleasant party, after which we went to the Theatre, with a Mr. Greville I believe a relation of the great Botanist, Dr. Greville.1 Dr. Hawley has procured some information about my Fathers questions & will write it shortly to him. Next Friday we are going to the old Dr. Duncan,2 & I hope it will be a pleasanter party than the last; which a very specimen of stupidity. What an extraordinary old man he is, now being past 80, & continuing to lecture. Dr. Hawley hints that he is rapidly failing. I have been most shockingly idle, actually reading two novels at once. a good scolding would do me a vast deal of good, & I hope you will send one of your most severe one’s.— What an entertaining book Granby is;3 do you remember Lady Harriet talking about inhaling ⁠⟨⁠Ni⁠⟩⁠tric Oxide? Johnson has actually done it, & describes the effects as the most intense pleasure he ever felt. We both mean to get tipsey in the Vacation.—. The old Mr. Wedgwood, I see in Ure’s Chem. Dic.,4 did nothing else but hold his nose & kick. It occasionally brings on fainting. Erasmus knows a man in Cambridge, who when in that state had the faculty of hearing, but not of motion or speech & to his horror, heard them consulting whether they should open the Temporal Artery.— Poor Eyre5 is most dangerously ill of a Fever, a friend of his has written to Erasmus stating that Eyre has a great wish to see him.— Erasmus is in a state of great perplexity what what to do, since he could not set out directly on account of not having sufficient money & by the time he could get there the fever in all probability would have terminated ⁠⟨⁠one w⁠⟩⁠ay or another. So he has written to his ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ [ther] to find out some more particulars. ⁠⟨⁠We⁠⟩⁠ met when we dined at Dr. Hope’s, a Mr. Stuart, whose father was twin brother to Lord Murray or Moray   I suppose this can be no relation to the Lady Jane Stuart My Father mentioned.— Would you also tell my Father that I should be much obliged if would pay Wilding’s bill, & am quite ashamed that I forgot it myself. I am going to learn to stuff birds, from a blackamoor6 I believe an old servant of Dr. Duncan: it has the recommmendation of cheapness, if it has nothing else, as he only charges one guinea, for an hour every day for two months.

I rem. n— | Charles Darwin

Catherine mentions that Dr. Parker is very fond of Spark   I hope he will not forget, that she is Erasmus’, & that he returns at the end of April.—

P.S. This letter was written & sealed & I have reopened it, to acknowledge & thank for the monies. Good Bye—


Dr Andrew Duncan, the elder.
Ure 1823, p. 598. The article on ‘Nitrogen’ quotes from Davy 1800, but the reference is to Thomas Wedgwood, not, as CD supposes, to Josiah Wedgwood I of Etruria (see B. and H. Wedgwood 1980, p. 112).
Samuel Parr Eyre died 1 February 1826 (Shrewsbury School Register).
Identified by R. B. Freeman as John Edmonston, a freed slave who had been taught taxidermy by the naturalist–traveller Charles Waterton (Freeman 1978–9; Waterton 1825, p. 153).


Davy, Humphry. 1800. Researches, chemical and philosophical; chiefly concerning nitrous oxide … and its respiration. London. [Reprint 1972. London: Butterworth.]

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978–9. Darwin’s Negro bird-stuffer. Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 33: 83–6.

Lister, Thomas Henry. 1826. Granby. 3 vols. London.

Ure, Andrew. 1823. A dictionary of chemistry 2d ed., with additions. London.

Waterton, Charles. 1825. Wanderings in South America, the North-West of the United States, and the Antilles, in the years 1812, 1816, 1820 and 1824. With original instructions for the perfect preservation of birds, etc., for cabinets of natural history. London.

Wedgwood, Barbara and Wedgwood, Hensleigh. 1980. The Wedgwood circle, 1730–1897: four generations of a family and their friends. London: Studio Vista.


Sends thanks to all for their letters.

News of dining and theatre at Edinburgh.

CD will learn to stuff birds from "a blackamoor".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Susan Elizabeth Darwin
Sent from
JAN H 30 A 1826
Source of text
DAR 92: A3–4
Physical description
ALS 4pp damaged

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 22,” accessed on 1 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 1