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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Sarah Williams    26[–31] August 1832

1. Belgrave Street.

Sunday 26. August. | 1832.

My dear Charles.

If you have ever thought of me I fear it has only been to upbraid me with forgetfulness of the promise I made to write to you. I assure you my own conscience has reproached me very very often, but I know I need not say that forgetfulness of you did not cause my silence, indeed, my dear Charles, no day has elapsed without your occupying some of my thoughts, & it was with very great pleasure I heard such good accounts had been received of you, Papa was much pleased with your letter, which he had about a fortnight ago, & I dare say has answered by this time. Susan tells me to direct to Monte Video, but I am afraid it may be very uncertain when this reaches your hands, whenever it does, I hope you will write & tell me so, without waiting till you are at Terra del Fuego from whence you know you promised me a letter— I often think what a wonderful number of changes have taken place amongst your Friends, since you saw them.— Fanny’s marriage must have surprised you not a little, then the “incomparable Charlottes”, & her Brother, Mr F. Wedgwood, I think your Cousin Hensleigh was twined off before you sailed & you must have been detained long enough at Portsmouth to hear that my execution had actually taken place, since which awful time, I have, I assure you, been as happy as a Queen, & have really nothing left to wish for being sadly spoilt & indulged by Edward, who is an Angel all but the Wings, (as Harry Wedgwood said of the “incomparable Charlotte’s husband)— I do think there never was such a temper, you may imagine its excellence, when I tell you that even one of the Warlike race of Owen has never yet contrived to make a fight, or even a dispute, whether it is that the Owen blood is fast degenerating, I know not, but such is the fact.— I must try & give you some account of my life & adventures since we parted— When I married instead of going a shivering tour in the month of November, in search of the Picturesque, I declared I would instantly proceed on a romantic tour to London—where we arrived the day afterwards, that same evening I went to see Miss Fanny Kemble1 (Heavens & Earth, I hear you exclaim,) & continued my Theatrical Tour for a week or more; till I had visited every play house then open— We soon afterwards returned to Eaton, where we remained till the end of January, & excellent fun we had, hunting almost every day with the Beagles—I mounted on a steady seasoned old Hunter, with as much sense as any Christian, he carried me most delightfully over most things, & never gave me a fall, he has since become my own property, he has been at grass all summer, & I hope to find him in hunting condition when the season begins— but to return to my story, we left Eaton the end of January & went to stay at my Brother Richard’s,2 in Pall Mall, whilst we were furnishing this house, which we took possession of the end of February, & I have never left it since, except for a few day’s visit to the Bruces who have taken a place near Windsor— In March I had a very severe illness, which laid me up for some time, as soon as I was able, I thought a ride would do me good, & accordingly mounted a 4 year old Grey Mare which Edward had bought for me from Mr. Gore 〈&〉 we went into the Park, (it was my sec〈ond ti〉me of riding her) & had just got opposite the Serpentine, when she started across the road at a Dog, turned short round, & down I came, her feet were unluckily entangled in my habit, & in trying to get away, she put her foot on my Ancle bone & the caulking of her shoe took a piece clear out, had it been half an inch lower, the Surgeons say I should have lost the joint— I jumped up directly, fancying I had only strained my ancle, & Edward put me into the house belonging to the Humane Society whilst he fetched the Carriage to take me home, that very evening Caroline & Arthur arrived, poor Arthur to prepare for his Voyage & the whole time he staid, I was never able to leave my bed the wound was so bad—it was 9 weeks before I was able to walk. I went about with a Crutch, & was lifted in & out of the Carriage— Edward would not consent to my riding this unlucky grey Mare any more, & I was obliged to sell her, but have supplied her place by a very nice Bay, which exactly suits me— Poor Arthur sailed the middle of May, he took with him a most tremendous looking Bull Dog, rather an odd Dog to choose, I thought but he was told it would be more useful to him than any other— We heard from him at Madeira, & he seemed to enjoy his voyage much poor boy, I hope he will be steady, when he arrives in India, & then there can be little doubt of his doing well— Caroline went down for Fanny’s Wedding, & then returned here with Mama, they staid 5 weeks with us, came up & returned per Wonder, which they say is the most delightful of earthly conveyances— I feel quite odd at being left by myself so many hours in the day, for Edward goes to Shop about 11 & seldom returns before 5 or half past, it is very provoking we are detained in London so late this year, owing to Mr. Powell’s absence, but I hope to see Eaton about the second week in Septr. & then we shall remain there till after Xmas— I never was so long in London before, but I am such a thorough Cockney that I like it better than any other place, on the long run, & am glad it is my fate to spend so much time in it— Fanny has been in Town for 3 weeks, but is now returned to Chirk Castle, which I fear she will not find very pleasant for some time to come, as Mrs & Miss Biddulph are there for a few Months, & she is sadly in awe of them both. Who would have thought she would have married so soon after that unfortunate Citadel Affair!!—3 Caroline is now in possession of the title of Miss Owen, I assure you she is much come forward since she attained that dignity— Emma I suppose will make her public appearance this Winter, I hear she is much improved lately, but it is more than 6 months since I have seen her— That “rising Star of Ton” Matty Cotton is also very flourishing— Of course all the other Shropshire Marriages have been announced to you—Miss Boughey & Mr. E. Fielding, Miss Parker,—& Sir Baldwin—Mr Mainwaring’s intended marriage to Miss Salisbury, and Mr Henry Lloyd’s to a Bristol heiress, as soon as he gets a Living— If you do not make haste home, you will find nothing but dead dogs in Shropshire— Clare Leighton is still Clare Leighton, & I hear no talk of her changing her name, I am sure you would be sorry to hear of poor Mrs Mathew’s sudden death. I do think nobody was ever so generally lamented, poor Mr. Mathew is not likely ever to recover it I fear— Erasmus dined with us not long ago, & I also met him at dinner at the Hollands—by the bye Mr. Holland is married & done for since you went— I cannot say I much admire his choice though I am not so violent as Erasmus, who declares i〈f sh〉e was to offer him 5£ to give her a kiss, he would not— Catherine is now on a visit to the Hollands, in Gloucestershire— I shall be most delighted, my dear Charles, to receive a letter from you, I have not forgotten the solemn promise you made me to come to No 1 Belgrave St as soon as you arrived in London—dine with us, & go to the Play— I wonder when that day will come!! I hope you continue to like your “Angel in the disguise of a Sea Captain” as much as ever, have you made a large collection of Curiosities— I often laugh when I think of your very last walk in the Forest, when you discovered & rooted up those horrible funguses, & bottled them for the Professors at Cambridge— I should prefer living curiosities such as Monkeys or Parrots, which I have a great fancy for— I have now got 3 Pets—a Bull finch, & 2 nondescript little foreign birds. I had the 〈    〉 misfortune to lose poor Beppo, who was taken by some wretch in human form when he had been 3 weeks in Town— I like this house very much, it is so airy & quiet —you will laugh at this being a recommendation to me, but you have no idea what a sober steady Matron I am become & strange to say, I have almost entirely lost my taste for gaiety & going out— You will hardly believe it is Sarah Owen who writes in this strain, but so it is— And now I fear I must bring this long scribble to a conclusion. Heaven knows when or where it may reach you, but whenever it does, I hope it will convince you that you are not & never will be forgotten by one of your oldest Friends, who now remains very sincerely, & affectely Yours, | S. H. Hosier Williams | (how does it look)

A letter directed Belgrave St. will always find me— God bless you, my dear Charles, I will write again 〈very〉 soon—


Frances Anne Kemble, actress then at the height of her success.
Richard Williams, Sarah’s brother-in-law (see letter from Fanny Owen, [January 1828]).
An allusion to Fanny Owen’s having been jilted by John Hill.


Gives CD an "account of my life and adventures since we parted" and news of her family.

Letter details

Letter no.
Sarah Harriet Mostyn Williams
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Belgrave St, 1
31 AU
Source of text
DAR 204: 117
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 183,” accessed on 22 September 2021,

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