Shrewsbury, Monday [November 12th, 1838].
I suppose you will be in Hart St. (9/1. Sir Charles Lyell lived at 16, Hart Street, Bloomsbury.) to-morrow [or] the 14th. I write because I cannot avoid wishing to be the first person to tell Mrs. Lyell and yourself, that I have the very good, and shortly since [i.e. until lately] very unexpected fortune of going to be married! The lady is my cousin Miss Emma Wedgwood, the sister of Hensleigh Wedgwood, and of the elder brother who married my sister, so we are connected by manifold ties, besides on my part, by the most sincere love and hearty gratitude to her for accepting such a one as myself.
I determined when last at Maer to try my chance, but I hardly expected such good fortune would turn up for me. I shall be in town in the middle or latter end of the ensuing week. (9/2. Mr. Darwin was married on January 29th, 1839 (see "Life and Letters," I., page 299). The present letter was written the day after he had become engaged.) I fear you will say I might very well have left my story untold till we met. But I deeply feel your kindness and friendship towards me, which in truth I may say, has been one chief source of happiness to me, ever since my return to England: so you must excuse me. I am well sure that Mrs. Lyell, who has sympathy for every one near her, will give me her hearty congratulations.
Believe me my dear Lyell Yours most truly obliged CHAS. DARWIN.
(PLATE: MRS. DARWIN. Walker and Cockerell, ph. sc.)
LETTER 10. TO EMMA WEDGWOOD. Sunday Night. Athenaeum. [January 20th, 1839.]
...I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed my Maer visit,--I felt in anticipation my future tranquil life: how I do hope you may be as happy as I know I shall be: but it frightens me, as often as I think of what a family you have been one of. I was thinking this morning how it came, that I, who am fond of talking and am scarcely ever out of spirits, should so entirely rest my notions of happiness on quietness, and a good deal of solitude: but I believe the explanation is very simple and I mention it because it will give you hopes, that I shall gradually grow less of a brute, it is that during the five years of my voyage (and indeed I may add these two last) which from the active manner in which they have been passed, may be said to be the commencement of my real life, the whole of my pleasure was derived from what passed in my mind, while admiring views by myself, travelling across the wild deserts or glorious forests or pacing the deck of the poor little "Beagle" at night. Excuse this much egotism,--I give it you because I think you will humanize me, and soon teach me there is greater happiness than building theories and accumulating facts in silence and solitude. My own dearest Emma, I earnestly pray, you may never regret the great, and I will add very good, deed, you are to perform on the Tuesday: my own dear future wife, God bless you...The Lyells called on me to-day after church; as Lyell was so full of geology he was obliged to disgorge,--and I dine there on Tuesday for an especial confidence. I was quite ashamed of myself to-day, for we talked for half an hour, unsophisticated geology, with poor Mrs. Lyell sitting by, a monument of patience. I want practice in ill-treatment the female sex,--I did not observe Lyell had any compunction; I hope to harden my conscience in time: few husbands seem to find it difficult to effect this. Since my return I have taken several looks, as you will readily believe, into the drawing-room; I suppose my taste [for] harmonious colours is already deteriorated, for I declare the room begins to look less ugly. I take so much pleasure in the house (10/1. No. 12, Upper Gower Street, is now No. 110, Gower Street, and forms part of a block inhabited by Messrs. Shoolbred's employes. We are indebted, for this information, to Mr. Wheatley, of the Society of Arts.), I declare I am just like a great overgrown child with a new toy; but then, not like a real child, I long to have a co-partner and possessor.
(10/2. The following passage is taken from the MS. copy of the "Autobiography;" it was not published in the "Life and Letters" which appeared in Mrs. Darwin's lifetime:--)
You all know your mother, and what a good mother she has ever been to all of you. She has been my greatest blessing, and I can declare that in my whole life I have never heard her utter one word I would rather have been unsaid. She has never failed in kindest sympathy towards me, and has borne with the utmost patience my frequent complaints of ill-health and discomfort. I do not believe she has ever missed an opportunity of doing a kind action to any one near her. I marvel at my good fortune that she, so infinitely my superior in every single moral quality, consented to be my wife. She has been my wise adviser and cheerful comforter throughout life, which without her would have been during a very long period a miserable one from ill-health. She has earned the love of every soul near her.
(11/1. Lyell started on his first visit to the United States in July,
1841, and was absent thirteen months. Darwin returned to London July 23rd,
1841, after a prolonged absence; he may, therefore, have missed seeing
Lyell. Assuming the date 1841 to be correct, it would seem that the plan of living in the country was formed a year before it was actually carried out.)
I have no doubt that your father did rightly in persuading you to stay [at Shrewsbury], but we were much disappointed in not seeing you before our start for a year's absence. I cannot tell you how often since your long illness I have missed the friendly intercourse which we had so frequently before, and on which I built more than ever after your marriage. It will not happen easily that twice in one's life, even in the large world of
London, a congenial soul so occupied with precisely the same pursuits and with an independence enabling him to pursue them will fall so nearly in my way, and to have had it snatched from me with the prospect of your residence somewhat far off is a privation I feel as a very great one. I hope you will not, like Herschell, get far off from a railway.
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