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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Fanny Owen   27 January [1830]


My dear Charles—

I received your leetle message from Catherine when I was staying at the Darwin Hotel for the Hunt week I have delay’d so long complying with your modest (but I cant help thinking unaccountable request) that I fear you are thinking me an ill tempered creature: sulky, idle &c &c but I have been so busy lately or so cold & frost bitten that I have never had time to scribble you a few lines— I am quite convinced that there does not exist so dull & stupid a letter composer as me, & how any body in their senses can wish for one of my productions is more than my weak mind can comprehend. I can only say I feel extremely flatter’d by such a compliment, and if you are put to sleep in reading the effusion you have only yourself to blame for it—

I have very little news or scandal I am afraid to tell you— Shropshire as usual does not abound with either— I never did enjoy any thing more than my my week at Darwin Hotel We were so perfectly at our ease, and comfortable two Balls there were which I liked very much, the intermediate evening we went to a little sort of Fandango —(or as Owen calls it a “Blow out,” at the Leightons, which was pleasant for Clare with her usual goodnature sang to the admiring and awe struck multitude almost all night. What more could we wish for? She pitched her voice in its shrillest key and oh ye powers!! Heavens & Earth. I wish you could have heard her—but why did you not come home this Xmas? I fully expected to have seen you—but I suppose some dear little Beetles, in Cambridge or London kept you away— I know when a Beetle is in the case every other paltry object gives way —if I could have sent to tell you I had found a Scrofulum morturorum perhaps you might have been induced to come down!— how does the mania go on, are you as constant as ever? don’t think me impertinent, but tell me—pity and forgive my ignorance— I am to day left solo at home with the Boys, the Governor Mama S. & Car being gone for two days to Erthig (the Yorkes). I thought it would be a dull affair, so got off going and am very comfortable mistress of the Forest— I think this horrid frost never will end. I never was so tired of any thing one can do nothing but sit over the fire and read Novels. I have been improving my mind very much in this way, but at Oswestry nothing much newer than “The Mysteries of Udolpho1 is to be had— Your sister Caroline has been here for 3 or 4 days. She went away this morning— Catherine is at Maer but I am telling you 〈wh〉at you know perhaps— Oh that I had a mystery to unfold, but indeed n〈ot〉 the ghost of one has appear’d to me for an age— that eternal never to be ended Williams affair goes on as usual,2 I never was so sick of any thing, and see no chance of it coming to an end—any thing wd be better than this horrid state of uncertainty, and always hearing the same thing—the name now quite puts me in a fury— Human patience can bear it no longer, & my little stock has been long exhausted on that subject! Owen is now on leave of absence, and as you may suppose is in a gt. rage at the Frost— he has no less than five horses and two men here living on “the Family ”—did you ever know such impudence—but the Governor bears it all with Christian fortitude & resignation. I think it is a shame he should drain all the substance of the Family— Hard times these! upon my word Charles—Xmas may be a joyful time but I’m sure does not seem so to me —my finances are in a most pitiable state & the Mortgages on my Estate incalculable —the Duns begin to ride —and the King’s Bench 3 stares me in the face —what a situation—? but I can’t say my spirits as yet suffer much. I drive “dull care” away wonderfully—and hope Providence will carry me through my difficulties—it often has, so I must trust to it— I dare say you are in the same sitivation so can have a fellow feeling for me — What a horrid disgusting thing money is—I hate the name of it—dont you—it is fit for vulgar souls —not Beetle Hunters —and Paint brush Drivers!!!— Arthur went back to Hertford4 last week—he shot a good deal whilst at home but I believe not much sport they say there is very little Game—hardly any Pheasants—

I think I have given you prose enough for once so will now put you out of yr misery.— you must excuse my Dulness but it is yr. own fault—a letter you would have so a letter you have got —and a pretty production it is— I never could and never shall write “like a Lady .” Miss Casteau has often rung in my ears—so good bye | believe me dr. Charles | yrs. ever truly | F. Owen *S 2

Jan 27th

Burn this I do desire Sir!!!!!!!


Probably a reference to the protracted engagement of Sarah Owen (see letter from Fanny Owen, [26 September 1831].
A prison for debtors as well as a court of law.
Arthur Owen was attending the East India Company College at Haileybury, a few miles from Hertford.


Radcliffe, Ann. 1794. The mysteries of Udolpho, a romance interspersed with some pieces of poetry. 4 vols. London.


Had an enjoyable week at "Darwin Hotel" during Hunt Week, with two balls, etc., but missed CD.

Letter details

Letter no.
Frances (Fanny) Mostyn Owen/Frances (Fanny) Myddelton Biddulph
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Shrewsbury JA 27 1830
Source of text
DAR 204: 47
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 77,” accessed on 22 September 2021,

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