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Darwin Correspondence Project

From William Owen Sr   10 April – 1 May 1834


April 10th. 1834—

My Dear Charles,

Excuse this familiar address    It would hurt me & I believe you not less if I used any other, I will therefore offer no further Apology— Though I do not write often (this being I am afraid my third Letter only since you left us) & though I do not hear directly from you, I do not fail to make frequent enquiries about you from your Sisters, & have hitherto, as I trust I shall continue to be, been constantly gratified by the most satisfactory reports, though your travels have not been unattended with Perils & hardships, which, if I know you at all, I rather think will not make them less agreeable to you, even when they are taking place; & we can all enjoy the remembrance of dangers & difficulties when they are surmounted however little we have liked them when actually taking place or however ill we may have supported them— You have therefore yet a Pleasure to come which I trust I shall in some degree partake of, in hearing you recount some of your adventures; And as we have now enter’d upon the third year since you left England I shall soon begin to try to count, like a School boy before the Holidays, how long it will be before I may look for that Pleasure— And really my good fellow I do think that you have now indulged your rambling Propensity as much as is reasonable or good for any moderate Man, & I am anxiously hoping to hear you are thinking of returning home, not a word of which has yet been whisper’d— Habit is second Nature & I am afraid if you remain at Sea & on such an amusing expedition, (as it is to you at least,) you will acquire too great a fondness for rambling, & never again be content to sit down quietly amongst your Country Neighbours & be satisfied with the tame sport of Pheasant & Partridge Shooting—which I take this opportunity of telling you is by no means improved; on the Woodhouse domain at least, since you partook of it— The alteration in the Game act by which it is now permitted to be publicly sold has not answered the expectation formed of it in preventing Poaching, but on the contrary I am afraid tends to promote it— Besides this I believe I have had a d——d Rogue for a Keeper, & consequently have had very little Game the last season. Fortunately I have not had many Sportsmen with me, as William has been absent the whole Winter, either with his Regt. at Dorchester or in Warwickshire & Leicestershire hunting—for which I am afraid his passion is rather upon the encrease. Poor Francis has been here alone, & by means of his Friends has had a great deal of hunting & shooting, & may now possibly cross you, as he has at last got a Commission in the 63rd. Regt. which is at Madras, where he will proceed immediately to join it—& his brother being there makes that station more acceptable than it would have been otherwise. You will be pleased to hear that we continue to receive the most satisfactory accounts from Arthur, though he does not write so often or so fully as we should like to hear from him—still all he writes is good, his health is good, he makes no sort of complaints & seems perfectly satisfied with his Situation & the Country— which in one letter he says would do very well if it was not quite so far from England— This I think is as small an objection as he could well make & one which we should have been hurt if he had not discover’d. The meeting between him & Francis I can imagine will be cordial & delightful, & if you could only be of the Party it certainly would be most complete— When we last heard, which is not very lately, he was at Cuddalore, a very healthy good station abt. 100 Miles south East I think of Madras, near the Coast & very near Ponticherry— One of the Cunliffes who is now in England was station’d there several Years & speaks very well of it, & amongst other things says it affords excellent shooting & Boar hunting, which you know will be no trifling recommendation to it in Arthurs Eyes— By the bye I was very sorry to hear from your Sister that you had lost your Gun which I fear is hardly to be well replaced where you are. If you ever see Cuddalore however I have little doubt but a Gun will be found, & that you will have some shooting again together— What would I not give to be of such a Party—but it is too late—I am getting very hobbling & unless you come here soon fear I shall never have the Pleasure of rating you again anywhere or shooting— Your Father is looking very well & I believe is very well, but like others gets older & considerably worse upon his legs than when you left, which is indeed the only difference worth noticing I observe in him— But your Sisters of course tell you every thing relating to your own Family better than I can & I hope frequently They also I dare say, for Ladies excel in that, (& indeed I might add that yours do in most things) amuse you with constant accounts of every event which occurs in this Country—& a Newspaper, which must be a great treat, now & then lets you into all the secrets in England worth knowing. Our Friends the Ministers do not go on quite as I could wish they would, i.e I think they do not do enough, & Lord Grey & Mr. Stanley1 think rather too much of their order. There was a fine row all through the Country as you no doubt have heard when the Elections took place, & in this Tory County it was pretty well to get one County Member who at least calls him self a Whig—2 I voted agst. him because I doubted his Professions.— We had a sharp contest also for Denbighshire, where Biddulph came in beating Ld. Kenyon’s Son in a canter— All this I am sorry to say did not pass without creating some ill blood, which however I think is cooling considerably. But a truce to a tale which you must have heard so often— And indeed I dont know to what I can turn without being pretty sure that your Sisters have anticipated me, & I believe I must be satisfied, though my letter is ever so barren & dull, if it tends to shew you my good intention & that I have not forgot you, & this at least I do flatter myself it will require little ability to convince you of— We have had a great Mortality in the Neighbourhood since you left— beginning with poor Mrs. Mathew—since whom two of the Miss Sparlings, Miss Letitia Kynaston, Mrs. Bourke, Young Edwards of Ness & last of all J. Mytton Esqr have fallen— The two latter in the course of last Week only— Edwards of a decline & Mytton worn out by debauchery of every kind—the miserable remains of an ill spent Life—& it is certainly rather a good thing as well for himself as for his Friends that he is gone, for all hope of any alteration in him for the better was quite out of the question, & he dragg’d on a miserable & disgraceful existence, first in one Gaol & then in another, & rarely sober enough to say that he was in his right Senses. Notwithstanding all this there are some few who pretend to regret him & who would think me very unfeeling for what I have said of him— I am glad to hear that his poor Wife has a very ample Jointure & that his Children are all pretty well provided for— No thanks to him, it was so settled when he married, or they would not have had a shilling & many of his debts I hear will now never be paid— Of Weddings I cannot recollect any fresh except Miss Charlotte Kenyon to J. Hill which I dare say has already been reported. Sarah & Fanny are now quite old steady Wives, & both, you will be glad to hear, are I believe as happy as any two wives in England— Sarah what they call pick’d her Calf3 a long time ago & I have not yet heard is likely to produce another— Poor Fan however was brt. to bed of a Girl last Spring & suffer’d so severely after, that she has been in a very precarious state, but is now I think, thanks to your Father’s care & skill, recovering fast— Mrs. O— & my two Girls, for Miss Emma is now what they call come out, have lately been twice at your Father’s for Ball〈s〉 the last for a Charity Ball for the Infirmar〈y〉 whose Funds are rather low— I was not o〈f〉 the Party, but I hear amongst others they me〈t〉 your Friend young Eyton there & liked him much— I also met him some time ago at Col Leighton’s & was much pleased with him; but I dare say he is one of your correspondents so I will let him speak for himself—

I go on here in my little Forest much as usual but am rather more of a Fixture, & am now rather put out of my way to be obliged to take Francis to Town to equip & start him for India, which I suppose I must do in about a Week, as I have almost engaged his Passage to embark I believe at Gravesend before the end of the Month— How I do wish you may fall in with him somewhere— He is I am glad to say a good deal improved & steadier, & I know you will give him some good advice if you come across him. I do not feel that I have any single thing to tell you that can justify me for boring you with a longer Letter, nor indeed that what I have written can repay you for the trouble of the perusal, except in so far as it may accomplish my object by assuring you that nothing would give me more pleasure than to see you again under this roof—& that I remain most sincerely & affectionately Yours | Wm. Owen

I had forgot what I think I hardly need have express’d the most anxious & sincere good wishes of all my Ladies old & Young for your welfare & safe return.

May the 1st. All well at home so we do not write this month yr affecte C. Darwin4


Edward George Geoffroy Smith Stanley became Colonial Secretary in Lord Grey’s Ministry in March 1833. He resigned in 1834 on the question of Irish tithes.
John Cotes, who narrowly defeated William Ormsby-Gore in the election of 1832.
Presumably suffered a miscarriage. To slip or cast one’s calf was an eighteenth century expression meaning to miscarry (Partridge 1973).
Catherine Darwin.


Partridge, Eric Honeywood. 1973. The Routledge dictionary of historical slang. Abridged by J. Simpson. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.


Writes a cordial letter with family and local news. Hopes CD will see his two sons in India.

P.S. by Catherine Darwin says no letter was written this month as all is well at home.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Owen
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 204: 129
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 243,” accessed on 31 July 2021,

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