RECORD: Darwin, Emma. 1882. [Reminiscences of Charles Darwin's last years.] CUL-DAR210.9. Transcribed by John van Wyhe. (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by John van Wyhe 9.2008, corrections by Christine Chua 7.2019. RN3

NOTE: Reproduced with permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin.



Year of William's marriage

Several visits of Sara-

How much C. liked her-

pleasant days at Cambridge when he was made L.L.D-

enjoyed it & was not over fatigued-

Caroline not well enough to come Jos & Sophy came without her


His patience & gentleness with ill health his reverence for the laws of nature was immense


May 2. 1882

I can call back more precious memories by looking only a short time back.

We went to Bryanston St on Dec 6. C. was languid & feeble every day- set out on a walk & either returned home or was taken with pain & came back in distress. I called to see Dr Clark, whose opinion was rather discouraging; but when he saw C. in the evening, he pronounced


the heart quite sound. We were all much cheered.

On Sunday the 18th called at the Huxley's. C. quite happy & in high spirits. I can only remember a walk w. him as far as Manchester Sq.

He also went with us to look at the house-

On Sunday Jan 8. the "Sunday tramps" C. was delightful to them & enjoyed their visit heartily. The Dyers were with us & he had much talk w. Dyer-


Sat Jan 21- The Ritchies visit entirely successful & C. in excellent spirits & enjoyment-

27. C. unwell with cold

Diceys & Emily Loch. Did not come to dinner. Diceys also here-

Feb 3. Lubbock wedding - joined him at the sand walk after it was over & told him about it-

Mar. 3. Laura came-

His state was now more languid walking short distances very slowly (I remember one walk w. him to the terrace on a beaut. still bright day, I suppose in Feb)


At the end of a week Dr C came (Mar 10) C. nervous about visit & wretchedly the day after. A peaceful time without much suffering. exquisite weather- often loitering out w. him-

I used to go to bed early - when he suffered so m. from fatigue & often read some time - Also got up early & read to him early after my breakfast - generally found him doing nothing; but the two last mgs he occupied himself for a short time & felt more like recovery-



Sitting w. her at the entrance to the new park put his arm round my shoulders & said oh Laura what a miserable man I shd be without this dear woman-

Coming into the smoking room where I had retired to write the letter about Mr Fraser coming

"I am ill-used Laura every body has left me, & a letter has come from Lenny & I have not heard a word


about it"

I reproved him for talking & disturbing my letter & on my asking B. to ring the bell - "Yes look sharp about it. Mammy is not to be trifled with when she is in this humour I can tell you-

Coming in to see Bernard wait on Laura-



Feb. V. Marshall & Flowers visit - a faint memory that all was cheerful & pleasant

May Mr & Mrs Fiske

May 25 Basset Mr Lowell- Aunt Grace.

Salisbury cath. How he enjoyed the organ -

Aug. visit to Cam - to lodgings in St Botoloph Lane

saw 66 Hill's Road wh- he admired- Jesus Coll. nice walk & sit. Botanic Garden



Feb 24 - at Bry St-

Mr Blunt to lunch- C. very genial & enjoyed it - also the Ritchies particularly pleasant - (on looking at letters of 41-47- the state of health was so far from suffering than of late years - constant languor sickness & headaches)

In May he much enjoyed Richter's playing, who came down with the Frankes for a few hours-

23rd a mention of heart with unwellness.


June 2 . to Penrith happy journey. C. in gay spirits- Two or 3 small expeds w. him one across the lake-

sat about - Hen joined us- Went a drive with Wm also to look for lodgings for Huxleys - The walks sometimes too much for him - I went w. him up the valley & he went on - Also up grisedale - beaut - light on farm-

To Keswick - His anxiety to contrive for me to see the view-


To How Town in steam boat- walked up the valley!!

The Lushington's visit & Miss North - partie bright & pleasant

Happy Cambridge visit - joyous arrival at No 66 [Hill's Road, Cambridge]- admiring the house- pretty well all the time.

Miss Gladstone

Second week in Dec-

London visit C. very unwell-

His pleasure in the kind zeal of the son's in "giving up the study" to him - This remained fresh with him to the last. Lying on sofa drawing room looking at what he called Hen's shrine.


I will put down some things for fear I shd forget if I live long - Always speaking a gracious & tender word when I came up at night- "It is almost worth while to be so to be nursed by you"-

I don't know what he said to which I answered "you speak as if you had not done just the same for me"- Oh that I could remember more - but it was the same loving gratitude many times a day -



Constantly suggesting my staying with the others

"I can do quite well without you my darling"- Dr Moore & Allfrey on the 12th cheering him much - but much knocked up the next day & went to bed. Leonora [Horner] on Sunday. C. exerted himself & was most pleasant to her - played backgammon every evg. but one - His tenderness seemed to increase every day - liked being rubbed, George returned from West Indies on Ap 10-


C. not up to talking for very long but enjoyed George's news- Dr Moore & Allfrey on the 12th. Their visit was comforting but he was utterly done up the next day & went to bed after luncheon-

On Sat. 16. R. & Hen came- when Ch. had half done his tea he rose & staggered to the sofa & fell half fainting on the cushion - He said it was the same sort of


shock he had before but worse - he recovered soon but was carried upstairs & soon went to bed-

On Tuesday 18. at 12 at night he woke me saying "I have got the pain & I shall feel better or bear it better if you are awake"- he had taken the antispasmodic twice-

I will only put down his words afterwards "I am not the least afraid of death"- Remember what a good wife you have been to me - Tell all my children to remember how good they have been to me


After the worse of the distress he said "I was so sorry for you - but I could not help you" - Then "there never were such good nurses as you (Fr) & Henrietta - Where is Mammy- "I am glad of it when told I was laying down-

"Don't call her I don't want her - said often It's almost worth while to be sick to be nursed by you"-.

This document has been accessed 31108 times

Return to homepage

Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

File last updated 30 April, 2022