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Frontitpiece, Vol. 1. 











All Rights Reserved. 

Q H 3 6 



Library Edition in Large Type. 2 vols. Crown 8vo. 12s. 

RELATION TO SEX. A New Library Edition in Large 
Type. Woodcuts. 2 vols. Crown 8vo. 15*. 



^ IN choosing letters for publication I have been largely guided 

by the wish to illustrate my father's personal character. But 

^ his life was so essentially one of work, that a history of the 

.- man could not be written without following closely the career 

of the author. Thus it comes about that the chief part of the 

book falls into chapters whose titles correspond to the names 

of his books. 

In arranging the letters I have adhered as far as possible to 
chronological sequence, but the character and variety of his 
researches make a strictly chronological order an impossibility. 
It was his habit to work more or less simultaneously at 
several subjects. Experimental work was often carried on as 
a refreshment or variety, while books entailing reasoning and 
the marshalling of large bodies of facts were being written. 
Moreover, many of his researches were allowed to drop, and 
only resumed after an interval of years. Thus a rigidly 
chronological series of letters would present a patchwork of 
subjects, each of which would be difficult to follow. The 
Table of Contents will show in what way I have attempted to 
avoid this result. It will be seen, for instance, that the second 


volume is not chronologically continuous with the first. Again, 
in the third volume, the botanical work, which principally 
occupied my father during the later years of his life, is treated 
in a separate series of chapters. 

In printing the letters I have followed (except in a few 
cases) the usual plan of indicating the existence of omissions 
or insertions. My father's letters give frequent evidence of 
having been written when he was tired or hurried. In a letter 
to a friend, or to one of his family, he frequently omitted the 
articles : these have been inserted without the usual indica- 
tions, except in a few instances (e.g. Vol. I. p. 203), where it is 
of special interest to preserve intact the hurried character of 
the letter. Other small words, such as of, to, &c., have been 
inserted, usually within brackets. My father underlined many 
words in his letters ; these have not always been given in 
italics, a rendering which would have unfairly exaggerated 
their effect. I have not followed the originals as regards the 
spelling of names, the use of capital letters, or in the matter 
of punctuation. 

The Diary or Pocket-book, from which quotations occur in 
the following pages, has been of value as supplying a frame- 
work of facts round which letters may be grouped. It is 
unfortunately written with great brevity, the history of a year 
being compressed into a page or less, and contains little 
more than the dates of the principal events of his life, 
together with entries as to his work, and as to the duration of 
his more serious illnesses. He rarely dated his letters, so that 
but for the Diary it would have been all but impossible to 
unravel the history of his books. It has also enabled me to 
assign dates to many letters which would otherwise have been 
shorn of half their value. 


Of letters addressed to my father I have not made much 
use. It was his custom to file all letters received, and when 
his slender stock of files ("spits" as he called them) was 
exhausted, he would burn the letters of several years, in order 
that he might make use of the liberated " spits." This process, 
carried on for years, destroyed nearly all letters received 
before 1862. After that date he was persuaded to keep the 
more interesting letters, and these are preserved in an 
accessible form. 

I have attempted to give, in Chapter III., some account ot 
his manner of working. During the last eight years of his 
life I acted as his assistant, and thus had an opportunity of 
knowing something of his habits and methods. 

I have received much help from my friends in the course of 
my work. To some I am indebted for reminiscences of my 
father, to others for information, criticisms, and advice. To all 
these kind coadjutors I gladly acknowledge my indebtedness. 
The names of some occur in connection with their contribu- 
tions, but I do not name those to whom I am indebted for 
criticisms or corrections, because I should wish to bear alone 
the load of my short-comings, rather than to let any of it fall 
on those who have done their best to lighten it. 

It will be seen how largely I am indebted to Sir Joseph 
Hooker for the means of illustrating my father's life. The 
readers of these pages will, I think, be grateful to Sir Joseph 
for the care with which he has preserved his valuable collec- 
tion of letters, and I should wish to add my acknowledgment 
of the generosity with which he has placed it at my disposal, 
and for the kindly encouragement given throughout my work. 

To Mr. Huxley I owe a debt of thanks, not only for much 
kind help, but for his willing compliance with my request that 


he should contribute a chapter on the reception of the ' Origin 
of Species.' 

Finally, it is a pleasure to acknowledge the courtesy of the 
publishers of the ' Century Magazine ' and of ' Harper's 
Magazine/ who have freely given me the use of their illustra- 
tions. To Messrs. Maull and Fox and Messrs. Elliott and Fry 
I am also indebted for their kindness in allowing me the use 
of reproductions of their photographs. 


October, 1887. 







CHAPTER IV. CAMBRIDGE LIFE 1828-1831 . . 163 


1831 185 

CHAPTER VI. THE VOYAGE 1831-1836 . . .217 


CHAPTER IX. LIFE AT DOWN 1842-1854 . . .318 



SPECIES' 1837-1844 ...... i 


1843-1856 19 


JUNE 1858 67 




JUNE 18, i858-Nov. 1859 . . . . .115 




SPECIES' OCT. 3, 1859 TO DEC. 31, 1859 . . 205 


1860 ......... 256 




OF ANIMALS AND PLANTS' 1863-1866 . . . i 

JAN. i86y-JUNE 1868 59 

CHAPTER III. WORK ON ' MAN '1864-1870 . . 89 

1873 '3i 


1876-1882 ........ an 





1877 28-9 


PLANTS OF THE SAME SPECIES' 1860-1878 . . 295 


1863-1875 311 


1878-1881 329 


1873-1882 339 







INDEX 377 

VOL. I. 



Frontispiece: CHARLES DARWIN IN 1854 (?). From ' Harper's 
Magazine ' : the Photograph by Messrs. Maull and Fox. 
THE STUDY AT DOWN. From the ' Century Magazine ' . ioS- 
THE HOUSE AT DOWN. From the 'Century Magazine' 

to face page 320 
THE 'BEAGLE 'LAID ASHORE . . . . .217 


Frontispiece: CHARLES DARWIN IN 1874 (?). From the 
' Century Magazine ' : the Photograph by Captain 
L. Darwin, R.E. 

lithographed by the Cambridge Scientific Instrument 
Company tofacepagc 5 


Frontispiece: CHARLES DARWIN IN 1881. From a Photo- 
graph by Messrs. Elliott and Fry. 





THE earliest records of the family show the Darvvins to have 
been substantial yeomen residing on the northern borders of 
Lincolnshire, close to Yorkshire. The name is now very 
unusual in England, but I believe that it is not unknown 
in the neighbourhood of Sheffield and in Lancashire. Down 
to the year 1600 we find the name spelt in a variety of ways 
Derwent, Darwen, Darwynne, &c. It is possible, therefore, 
that the family migrated at some unknown date from York- 
shire, Cumberland, or Derbyshire, where Derwent occurs as 
the name of a river. 

The first ancestor of whom we know was one William 
Darwin, who lived, about the year 1500, at Marton, near 
Gainsborough. His great grandson, Richard Darwyn, in- 
herited land at Marton and elsewhere, and in his will, dated 
1584, "bequeathed the sum of $s. ^d. towards the settynge up 
of the Queene's Majestie's armes over the quearie (choir) 
doore in the parishe churche of Marton." * 

The son of this Richard, named William Darwin, and 
described as " gentleman," appears to have been a successful 

* We owe a knowledge of these Lincoln, made by the well-known 
earlier members of the family to genealogist, Colonel Chester, 
researches amongst the wills at 

VOL. I. B 


man. Whilst retaining his ancestral land at Marton, he 
acquired through his wife and by purchase an estate at 
Cleatham, in the parish of Manton, near Kirton Lindsey, and 
fixed his residence there. This estate remained in the family 
down to the year 1760. A cottage with thick walls, some 
fish-ponds and old trees, now alone show where the "Old 
Hall " once stood, and a field is still locally known as the 
4 Darwin Charity," from being subject to a charge in favour 
of the poor of Marton. William Darwin must, at least in part, 
have owed his rise in station to his appointment in 1613 by 
James I. to the post of Yeoman of the Royal Armoury of 
Greenwich. The office appears to have been worth only ,33 
a year, and the duties were probably almost nominal ; he 
held the post down to his death during the Civil Wars. 

The fact that this William was a royal servant may explain 
why his son, also named William, served when almost a boy 
for the King, as " Captain-Lieutenant " in Sir William Pel- 
ham's troop of horse. On the partial dispersion of the royal 
armies, and the retreat of the remainder to Scotland, the boy's 
estates were sequestrated by the Parliament, but they were 
redeemed on his signing the Solemn League and Covenant, 
and on his paying a fine which must have struck his finances, 
severely ; for in a petition to Charles II. he speaks of his. 
almost utter ruin from having adhered to the royal cause. 

During the Commonwealth, William Darwin became a 
barrister of Lincoln's Inn, and this circumstance probably led 
to his marriage with the daughter of Erasmus Earle, serjeant- 
at-law ; hence his great-grandson, Erasmus Darwin, the Poet, 
derived his Christian name. He ultimately became Recorder 
of the city of Lincoln. 

The eldest son of the Recorder, again called William, was 
born in 1655, and married the heiress of Robert Waring, a 
member of a good Staffordshire family. This lady inherited 
from the family of Lassells, or Lascelles, the manor and hall 
of Elston, near Newark, which has remained ever since in the 


family.* A portrait of this William Darwin at Elston shows 
him as a good-looking young man in a full-bottomed wig. 

This third William had two sons, William, and Robert who 
was educated as a barrister. The Cleatham property was 
left to William, but on the termination of his line in daughters 
reverted to the younger brother, who had received Elston. 
On his mother's death Robert gave up his profession and 
resided ever afterwards at Elston Hall. Of this Robert, 
Charles Darwin writes f : 

" He seems to have had some taste for science, for he was 
an early member of the well-known Spalding Club ; and the 
celebrated antiquary Dr. Stukeley, in ' An Account of the 
almost entire Sceleton of a large Animal,' &c., published in 
the 'Philosophical Transactions,' April and May 1719, begins 
the paper as follows : ' Having an account from my friend, 
Robert Darwin, Esq., of Lincoln's Inn, a person of curiosity, 
of a human sceleton impressed in stone, found lately by the 
rector of Elston,' &c. Stukeley then speaks of it as a great 
rarity, ' the like whereof has not been observed before in this 
island to my knowledge.' Judging from a sort of litany 
written by Robert, and handed down in the family, he was 
a strong advocate of temperance, which his son ever after- 
wards so strongly advocated : 

From a morning that doth shine, 

From a boy that drinketh wine, 

From a wife that talketh Latine, 

Good Lord deliver me ! 

* Captain Lassells, or Lascelles, Captain Lassells in armour, although 
of Elston was military secretary to used at one time as an archery- 
Monk, Duke of Albemarle, during target by some small boys of our 
the Civil Wars. A large volume of name, was not irretrievably ruined, 
account-books, countersigned in f What follows is quoted from 
many places by Monk, are now in Charles Darwin's biography of his 
the possession of my cousin Francis grandfather, forming the prelimi- 
Darwin. The accounts might pos- nary notice to Ernst Krause's inte- 
sibly prove of interest to the anti- resting essay, ' Erasmus Darwin, 
quarian or historian. A portrait of London, 1879, P 4- 

B 2 


" It is suspected that the third line may be accounted for by 
his wife, the mother of Erasmus, having been a very learned 
lady. The eldest son of Robert, christened Robert Waring, 
succeeded to the estate of Elston, and died there at the ajre of 


ninety-two, a bachelor. He had a strong taste for poetry, like 
his youngest brother Erasmus. Robert also cultivated botany, 
and, when an oldish man, he published his ' Principia Botanica.' 
This book in MS. was beautifully written, and my father 
[Dr. R. W. Darwin] declared that he believed it was published 
because his old uncle could not endure that such fine cali- 
graphy should be wasted. But this was hardly just, as the 
work contains many curious notes on biology a subject 
wholly neglected in England in the last century. The public, 
moreover, appreciated the book, as the copy in my possession 
is the third edition." 

The second son, William Alvey, transmitted Elston to 
his granddaughter, the late Mrs. Danvin, of Elston and 
Creskeld. A third son, John, became rector of Elston, 
the living being in the gift of the family. The fourth son, 
and youngest child, was Erasmus Darwin, the poet and 

The table on page 5 shows Charles Darwin's descent from 
Robert, and his relationship to some other members of the 
family, whose names occur in his correspondence. Among 
these are included William Danvin Fox, one of his earliest 
correspondents, and Francis Galton, with whom he main- 
tained a warm friendship for many years. Here also occurs 
the name of Francis Sachevercl Danvin, who inherited a love 
of natural history from Erasmus, and transmitted it to his son 
Edward Darwin, author (under the name of " High Elms ") 
of a 'Gamekeeper's Manual' (4th Edit. 1863), which shows 
keen observation of the habits of various animals. 

It is always interesting to see how far a man's personal 
characteristics can be traced in his forefathers. Charles Dar- 
win inherited the tall stature, but not the bulky figure of 







.5 oo 

W *- 
O . 


5 C -o 

-" " tfl 

O 3: S 


Erasmus ; but in his features there is no traceable resem- 
blance to those of his grandfather. Nor, it appears, had 
Erasmus the love of exercise and of field-sports, so cha- 
racteristic of Charles Darwin as a young man, though he 
had, like his grandson, an indomitable love of hard mental 
work. Benevolence and sympathy with others, and a great 
personal charm of manner, were common to the two. Charles 
Darwin possessed, in the highest degree, that "vividness of 
imagination " of which he speaks as strongly characteristic 
of Erasmus, and as leading "to his overpowering tendency 
to theorise and generalise." This tendency, in the case 
of Charles Darwin, was fully kept in check by the deter- 
mination to test his theories to the utmost. Erasmus 
had a strong love of all kinds of mechanism, for which 
Charles Darwin had no taste. Neither had Charles Darwin 
the literary temperament which made Erasmus a poet as 
well as a philosopher. He writes of Erasmus : * " Through- 
out his letters I have been struck with his indifference 
to fame, and the complete absence of all signs of any 
over-estimation of his own abilities, or of the success of his 
works." These, indeed, seem indications of traits most 
strikingly prominent in his own character. Yet we get no 
evidence in Erasmus of the intense modesty and simplicity 
that marked Charles Darwin's whole nature. But by the 
quick bursts of anger provoked in Erasmus, at the sight of 
any inhumanity or injustice, we are again reminded of him. 

On the whole, however, it seems to me that we do not know 
enough, of the essential personal tone of Erasmus Darwin's 
character to attempt more than a superficial comparison ; and 
I am left with an impression that, in spite of many resem- 
blances, the two men were of a different type. It has been 
shown that Miss Seward and Mrs. Schimmelpenninck have 
misrepresented Erasmus Darwin's character.f It is, however, 
extremely probable that the faults which they exaggerate 
* 'Life of Erasmus Darwin,' p. 68. f Ibid. pp. 77, 79, Sac. 


were to some extent characteristic of the man ; and this 
leads me to think that Erasmus had a certain acerbity or 
severity of temper which did not exist in his grandson. 

The sons of Erasmus Darwin inherited in some degree 
his intellectual tastes, for Charles Darwin writes of them as 
follows* : 

"His eldest son, Charles (born September 3, 1758), was a 
young man of extraordinary promise, but died (May 15, 1778) 
before he was twenty-one years old, from the effects of a 
wound received whilst dissecting the brain of a child. He in- 
herited from his father a strong taste for various branches of 
science, for writing verses, and for mechanics . . . He also 
inherited stammering. With the hope of curing him, his 
father sent him to France, when about eight years old (1766- 
67), with a private tutor, thinking that if he was not allowed 
to speak English for a time, the habit of stammering might 
be lost ; and it is a curious fact, that in after years, when 
speaking French, he never stammered. At a very early 
age he collected specimens of all kinds. When sixteen 
years old he was sent for a year to [Christ Church] Oxford, 
but he did not like the place, and thought (in the words of 
his father) that the 'vigour of his mind languished in the 
pursuit of classical elegance like Hercules at the distaff, and 
sighed to be removed to the robuster exercise of the medical 
school of Edinburgh.' He stayed three years at Edinburgh, 
working hard at his medical studies, and attending 'with 
diligence all the sick poor of the parish of Waterleith, and 
supplying them with the necessary medicines.' The yEscu- 
lapian Society awarded him its first gold medal for an experi- 
mental inquiry on pus and mucus. Notices of him appeared 
in various journals ; and all the writers agree about his 
uncommon energy and abilities. He seems like his father 
to have excited the warm affection of his friends. Professor 
Andrew Duncan .... spoke .... about him with the 
* ' Life of Erasmus Darwin,' p. 80. 


warmest affection forty-seven years after his death when 
I was a young medical student at Edinburgh . . . 

" About the character of his second son Erasmus (born 1759), 
I have little to say, for though he wrote poetry, he seems to 
have had none of the other tastes of his father. He had, 
however, his own peculiar tastes, viz. genealogy, the collecting 
of coins, and statistics. When a boy he counted all the 
houses in the city of Lichfield, and found out the number of 
inhabitants in as many as he could ; he thus made a census, 
and when a real one was first made, his estimate was found to 
be nearly accurate. His disposition was quiet and retiring. 
My father had a very high opinion of his abilities, and this 
was probably just, for he would not otherwise have been 
invited to travel with, and pay long visits to, men so dis- 
tinguished in different ways as Boulton the engineer, and Day 
the moralist and novelist" His death by suicide, in 1799, 
seems to have taken place in a state of incipient insanity. 

Robert Waring, the father of Charles Darwin, was born 
May 30, 1766, and entered the medical profession like his 
father. He studied for a few months at Leyden, and took 
his M.D.* at that University on Feb. 26, 1785. " His father" 
(Erasmus) " brought f him to Shrewsbury before he was 
twenty-one years old (1787), and left him 20, saying, 'Let 
me know when you want more, and I will send it you.' His 
uncle, the rector of Elston, afterwards also sent him 20, and 

* I owe this information to the that Professor Rauwenhoff is able 

kindness of Professor Rauwenhoflf, to tell me that my grandfather lived 

Director of the Archives at Leyden. together with a certain " Petrus 

He quotes from the catalogue of Crompton, Anglus," in lodgings in 

doctors that " Robertus Waring the Apothekersdijk. Dr. Darwin's 

Darwin, Anglo-britannus,"defended Leyden dissertation was published 

(Feb. 26, 1785) in the Senate a in the ' Philosophical Transactions,' 

Dissertation on the coloured images and my father used to say that the 

seen after looking at a bright object, work was in fact due to Erasmus 

and " Medicince Doctor creatusest Darwin. F. D. 
a clar. Paradijs." The archives of f ' Life of Erasmus Darwin,' 

Leyden University are so complete p. 85. 

DR. R. W. DARWIN. 9 

this was the sole pecuniary aid * which he ever received . . . 
Erasmus tells Mr. Edgeworth that his son Robert, after 
being settled in Shrewsbury for only six months, 'already 
had between forty and fifty patients.' By the second year 
he was in considerable, and ever afterwards in very large, 

Robert Waring Darwin married (April 18, 1796) Susannah, 
the daughter of his father's friend, Josiah Wedgwood, of 
Etruria, then in her thirty-second year. We have a miniature 
of her, with a remarkably sweet and happy face, bearing some 
resemblance to the portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds of her 
father ; a countenance expressive of the gentle and sym- 
pathetic nature which Miss Meteyard ascribes to her.f She 
died July 15, 1817, thirty-two years before her husband, whose 
death occurred on November 13, 1848. Dr. Danvin lived 
before his marriage for two or three years on St. John's Hill, 
afterwards at the Crescent, where his eldest daughter Marianne 
was born, lastly at the " Mount," in the part of Shrewsbury 
known as Frankwell, where the other children were born. 
This house was built by Dr. Darwin about 1800, it is now 
in the possession of Mr. Spencer Phillips, and has under- 
gone but little alteration. It is a large, plain, square, 
red-brick house, of which the most attractive feature is the 
pretty green-house, opening out of the morning-room. 

The house is charmingly placed, on the top of a steep bank 
leading down to the Severn. The terraced bank is traversed 
by a long walk, leading from end to end, still called "the 
Doctor's Walk." At one point in this walk grows a Spanish 
chestnut, the branches of which bend back parallel to them- 
selves in a curious manner, and this was Charles Darwin's 

* The statement that Dr. R. W. Darwin that he got ^1000 under 

Darwin received no pecuniary as- his mother's settlement, and ^400 

sistance beyond 20 from his father, from his aunt, Susannah Danvin. 
and a like sum from his uncle, is t ' A Group of Englishmen,' by 

incorrect. It appears from papers Miss Meteyard, 1871. 
in the possession of Mr. Reginald 


favourite tree as a boy, where he and his sister Catherine had 
each their special seat. 

The Doctor took great pleasure in his garden, planting it 
with ornamental trees and shrubs, and being especially suc- 
cessful in fruit-trees ; and this love of plants was, I think, the 
only taste kindred to natural history which he possessed. Of 
the " Mount pigeons," which Miss Meteyard describes as 
illustrating Dr. Darwin's natural-history tastes, I have not 
been able to hear from those most capable of knowing. Miss 
Meteyard's account of him is not quite accurate in a few 
points. For instance, it is incorrect to describe Dr. Darwin as 
having a philosophical mind ; his was a mind especially given 
to detail, and not to generalising. Again, those who knew him 
intimately describe him as eating remarkably little, so that 
he was not " a great feeder, eating a goose for his dinner, as 
easily as other men do a partridge." * In the matter of dress 
he was conservative, and wore to the end of his life knee- 
breeches and drab gaiters, which, however, certainly did not, 
as Miss Meteyard says, button above the knee a form of 
costume chiefly known to us in grenadiers of Queen Anne's 
day, and in modern wood-cutters and ploughboys. 

Charles Darwin had the strongest feeling of love and 
respect for his father's memory. His recollection of every- 
thing that was connected with him was peculiarly distinct, 
and he spoke of him frequently ; generally prefacing an anec- 
dote with some such phrase as, " My father, who was the 
wisest man I ever knew, &c." It was astonishing how clearly 
he remembered his father's opinions, so that he was able to 
quote some maxims or hint of his in most cases of illness. 
As a rule he put small faith in doctors, and thus his 
unlimited belief in Dr. Darwin's medical instinct, and 
methods of treatment was all the more striking. 

His reverence for him was boundless and most touching. He 
would have wished to judge everything else in the world dis- 
* ' A Group of Englishmen,' p. 263. 


passionately, but anything his father had said was received 
with almost implicit faith. His daughter Mrs. Litchfield 
remembers him saying that he hoped none of his sons would 
ever believe anything because he said it, unless they were 
themselves convinced of its truth, a feeling in striking con- 
trast with his own manner of faith. 

A visit which Charles Darwin made to Shrewsbury in 1869 
left on the mind of his daughter who accompanied him a strong 
impression of his love for his old home. The then tenant of 
the Mount showed them over the house, &c., and with mis- 
taken hospitality remained with the party during the whole 
visit. As they were leaving, Charles Darwin said, with a 
pathetic look of regret, " If I could have been left alone in 
that green-house for five minutes, I know I should have been 
able to see my father in his wheel-chair as vividly as if he had 
been there before me." 

Perhaps this incident shows what I think is the truth, that 
the memory of his father he loved the best, was that of him 
as an old man. Mrs. Litchfield has noted down a few words 
which illustrate well his feeling towards his father. She 
describes him as saying with the most tender respect, " I 
think my father was a little unjust to me when I was young, 
but afterwards I am thankful to think I became a prime 
favourite with him." She has a vivid recollection of the 
expression of happy reverie that accompanied these words, 
as if he were reviewing the whole relation, and the remem- 
brance left a deep sense of peace and gratitude. 

What follows was added by Charles Darwin to his autobio- 
graphical 'Recollections/ and was written about 1877 or 1878. 

" I may here add a few pages about my father, who was in 
many ways a remarkable man. 

" He was about 6 feet 2 inches in height, with broad 
shoulders, and very corpulent, so that he was the largest 
man whom I ever saw. When he last weighed himself, he 


was 24 stone, but afterwards increased much in weight. 
His chief mental characteristics were his powers of obser- 
vation and his sympathy, neither of which have I ever seen 
exceeded or even equalled. His sympathy was not only 
with the distresses of others, but in a greater degree with 
the pleasures of all around him. This led him to be always 
scheming to give pleasure to others, and, though hating 
extravagance, to perform many generous actions. For 

instance, Mr. B , a small manufacturer in Shrewsbury, 

came to him one day, and said he should be bankrupt unless 
he could at once borrow j 10,000, but that he was unable to 
give any legal security. My father heard his reasons for 
believing that he could ultimately repay the money, and from 
[his] intuitive perception of character felt sure that he was 
to be trusted. So he advanced this sum, which was a very 
large one for him while young, and was after a time repaid. 

" I suppose that it was his sympathy which gave him un- 
bounded power of winning confidence, and as a consequence 
made him highly successful as a physician. He began to 
practise before he was twenty-one years old, and his fees 
during the first year paid for the keep of two horses and a 
servant On the following year his practice was large, and so 
continued for about sixty years, when he ceased to attend on 
any one. His great success as a doctor was the more remark- 
able, as he told me that he at first hated his profession so 
much that if he had been sure of the smallest pittance, or if 
his father had given him any choice, nothing should have 
induced him to follow it. To the end of his life, the thought 
of an operation almost sickened him, and he could scarcely 
endure to see a person bled a horror which he has trans- 
mitted to me and I remember the horror which I felt as a 
schoolboy in reading about Pliny (I think) bleeding to death 
in a warm bath. . . . 

" Owing to my father's power of winning confidence, many 
patients, especially ladies, consulted him when suffering from 

DR. R. W. DARWIN. 13 

any misery, as a sort of Father-Confessor. He told me that 
they always began by complaining in a vague manner about 
their health, and by practice he soon guessed what was really 
the matter. He then suggested that they had been suffering 
in their minds, and now they would pour out their troubles, 
and he heard nothing more about the body. . . . Owing to 
my father's skill in winning confidence he received many 
strange confessions of misery and guilt He often remarked 
how many miserable wives he had known. In several in- 
stances husbands and wives had gone on pretty well together 
for between twenty and thirty years, and then hated each 
other bitterly ; this he attributed to their having lost a 
common bond in their young children having grown up. 

" But the most remarkable power which my father possessed 
was that of reading the characters, and even the thoughts of 
those whom he saw even for a short time. We had many 
instances of the power, some of which seemed almost super- 
natural. It saved my father from ever making (with one 
exception, and the character of this man was soon discovered) 
an unworthy friend. A strange clergyman came to Shrews- 
bury, and seemed to be a rich man ; everybody called on 
him, and he was invited to many houses. My father called, 
and on his return home told my sisters on no account to 
invite him or his family to our house ; for he felt sure that 
the man was not to be trusted. After a few months he sud- 
denly bolted, being heavily in debt, and was found out to be 
little better than an habitual swindler. Here is a case of 
trustfulness which not many men would have ventured on. 
An Irish gentleman, a complete stranger, called on my father 
one day, and said that he had lost his purse, and that it 
would be a serious inconvenience to him to wait in Shrews- 
bury until he could receive a remittance from Ireland. He 
then asked my father to lend him 20, which was immediately 
done, as my father felt certain that the story was a true one. 
As soon as a letter could arrive from Ireland, one came with 


the most profuse thanks, and enclosing, as he said, a 20 Bank 
of England note, but no note was enclosed. I asked my 
father whether this did not stagger him, but he answered 
' not in the least.' On the next day another letter came 
with many apologies for having forgotten (like a true Irish- 
man) to put the note into his letter of the day before. . . . 
[A gentleman] brought his nephew, who was insane but 
quite gentle, to my father ; and the young man's insanity led 
him to accuse himself of all the crimes under heaven. When 
my father afterwards talked over the matter with the uncle, 
he said, ' I am sure that your nephew is really guilty of ... 
a heinous crime.' Whereupon [the gentleman] said, 'Good God, 
Dr. Darwin, who told you ; we thought that no human being 
knew the fact except ourselves ! ' My father told me the 
story many years after the event, and I asked him how he 
distinguished the true from the false self-accusations ; and it 
was very characteristic of my father that he said he could 
not explain how it was. 

"The following story shows what good guesses my father 
could make. Lord Shelburne, aftenvards the first Marquis 
of Lansdowne, was famous (as Macaulay somewhere remarks) 
for his knowledge of the affairs of Europe, on which he 
greatly prided himself. He consulted my father medically, 
and afterwards harangued him on the state of Holland. My 
father had studied medicine at Leyden, and one day [while 
there] went a long walk into the country with a friend who took 
him to the house of a clergyman (we will say the Rev. Mr. 

A- , for I have forgotten his name), who had married an 

Englishwoman. My father was very hungry, and there was 
little for luncheon except cheese, which he could never eat. 
The old lady was surprised and grieved at this, and assured my 
father that it was an excellent cheese, and had been sent her 
from Bowood, the seat of Lord Shelburne. My father wondered 
why a cheese should be sent her from Bowood, but thought 
nothing more about it until it flashed across his mind many 

DR. R. W. DARWIN. 15 

years afterwards, whilst Lord Shelburne was talking about 
Holland. So he answered, ' I should think from what I saw 

of the Rev. Mr. A , that he was a very able man, and well 

acquainted with the state of Holland.' My father saw that 
the Earl, who immediately changed the conversation, was 
much startled. On the next morning my father received 
a note from the Earl, saying that he had delayed starting on 
his journey, and wished particularly to see my father. When 
he called, the Earl said, 'Dr. Darwin, it is of the utmost 

importance to me and to the Rev. Mr. A to learn how 

you have discovered that he is the source of my information 
about Holland.' So my father had to explain the state of 
the case, and he supposed that Lord Shelburne was much 
struck with his diplomatic skill in guessing, for during many 
years afterwards he received many kind messages from him 
through various friends. I think that he must have told the 
story to his children ; for Sir C. Lyell asked me many years 
ago why the Marquis of Lansdowne (the son or grandson of 
the first marquis) felt so much interest about me, whom he 
had never seen, and my family. When forty new members 
(the forty thieves as they were then called) were added to the 
Athenaeum Club, there was much canvassing to be one of 
them ; and without my having asked any one, Lord Lans- 
downe proposed me and got me elected. If I am right in my 
supposition, it was a queer concatenation of events that my 
father not eating cheese half-a-century before in Holland led 
to my election as a member of the Athenaeum. 

" The sharpness of his observation led him to predict with 
remarkable skill the course of any illness, and he suggested 
endless small details of relief. I was told that a young doctor 
in Shrewsbuiy, who disliked my father, used to say that he 
was wholly unscientific, but owned that his power of predict- 
ing the end of an illness was unparalleled. Formerly when 
he thought that I should be a doctor, he talked much to me 
about his patients. In the old days the practice of bleeding 


largely was universal, but my father maintained that far more 
evil was thus caused than good done ; and he advised me if 
ever I was myself ill not to allow any doctor to take more 
than an extremely small quantity of blood. Long before 
typhoid fever was recognised as distinct, my father told me 
that two utterly distinct kinds of illness were confounded 
under the name of typhus fever. He was vehement against 
drinking, and was convinced of both the direct and inherited 
evil effects of alcohol when habitually taken even in moderate 
quantity in a very large majority of cases. But he admitted 
and advanced instances of certain persons who could drink 
largely during their whole lives without apparently suffering 
any evil effects, and he believed that he could often beforehand 
tell who would thus not suffer. He himself never drank a 
drop of any alcoholic fluid. This remark reminds me of a 
case showing how a witness under the most favourable cir- 
cumstances may be utterly mistaken. A gentleman-farmer 
was strongly urged by my father not to drink, and was en- 
couraged by being told that he himself never touched any 
spirituous liquor. Whereupon the gentleman said, ' Come, 
come, Doctor, this won't do though it is very kind of you 
to say so for my sake for I know that you take a very 
large glass of hot gin and water every evening after your 
dinner.' * So my father asked him how he knew this. The 
man answered, ' My cook was your kitchen-maid for two or 
three years, and she saw the butler every day prepare and 
take to you the gin and water.' The explanation was that my 
father had the odd habit of drinking hot water in a very tall 
and large glass after his dinner ; and the butler used first to put 
some cold water in the glass, which the girl mistook for gin, and 
then filled it up with boiling water from the kitchen boiler. 

" My father used to tell me many little things which he had 
found useful in his medical practice. Thus ladies often 

* This belief still survives, and 1884 by an old inhabitant of 
was mentioned to my brother in Shrewsbury. F. D. 


cried much while telling him their troubles, and thus caused 
much loss of his precious time. He soon found that begging 
them to command and restrain themselves, always made them 
weep the more, so that afterwards he always encouraged them 
to go on crying, saying that this would relieve them more than 
anything else, and with the invariable result that they soon 
ceased to cry, and he could hear what they had to say and 
give his advice. When patients who were very ill craved for 
some strange and unnatural food, my father asked them what 
had put such an Idea into their heads : if they answered that 
they did not know, he would allow them to try the food, and 
often with success, as he trusted to their having a kind of 
instinctive desire ; but if they answered that they had heard 
that the food in question had done good to some one else, he 
firmly refused his assent 

" He gave one day an odd little specimen of human nature. 
When a very young man he was called in to consult with 
the family physician in the case of a gentleman of much 
distinction in Shropshire. The old doctor told the wife 
that the illness was of such a nature that it must end fatally. 
My father took a different view and maintained that the 
gentleman would recover : he was proved quite wrong in all 
respects (I think by autopsy) and he owned his error. He 
was then convinced that he should never again be consulted 
by this family ; but after a few months the widow sent for 
him, having dismissed the old family doctor. My father vvas- 
so much surprised at this, that he asked a friend of the 
widow to find out why he was again consulted. The widow- 
answered her friend, that ' she would never again see the odious, 
old doctor who said from the first that her husband would die, 
while Dr. Darwin always maintained that he would recover ! ' 
In another case my father told a lady that her husband would 
certainly die. Some months afterwards he saw the widow 
who was a very sensible woman, and she said, ' You are a very- 
young man, and allow me to advise you always to give as 

VOL. I. C 


long as you possibly can, hope to any near relative nursing a 
patient. You made me despair, and from that moment I lost 
strength.' My father said that he had often since seen the 
paramount importance, for the sake of the patient, of keeping 
up the hope and with it the strength of the nurse in charge. 
This he sometimes found difficult to do compatibly with 
truth. One old gentleman, however, caused him no such 

perplexity. He was sent for by Mr. P , who said, ' From 

all that I have seen and heard of you I believe that you are 
the sort of man who will speak the truth, and if I ask, you 
will tell me when I am dying. Now I much desire that you 
should attend me if you will promise, whatever I may say, 
always to declare that I am not going to die.' My father 
acquiesced on the understanding that his words should in fact 
have no meaning. 

" My father possessed an extraordinary memory, especially 
for dates, so that he knew, when he was very old, the day of 
the birth, marriage, and death of a multitude of persons in 
Shropshire ; and he once told me that this power annoyed 
him ; for if he once heard a date, he could not forget it ; and 
thus the deaths of many friends were often recalled to his 
mind. Owing to his strong memory he knew an extraordinary 
number of curious stories, which he liked to tell, as he was a 
great talker. He was generally in high spirits, and laughed 
and joked with every one often with his servants with the 
utmost freedom ; yet he had the art of making every one obey 
him to the letter. Many persons were much afraid of him. I 
remember my father telling us one day, with a laugh, that several 

persons had asked him whether Miss , a grand old lady in 

Shropshire, had called on him, so that at last he enquired 

why they asked him ; and was told that Miss , whom 

my father had somehow mortally offended, was telling every- 
body that she would call and tell ' that fat old doctor very 
plainly what she thought of him.' She had already called, 
but her courage had failed, and no one could have been more 

DR. R. W. DARWIN. 19 

courteous and friendly. As a boy, I went to stay at the house 

of , whose wife was insane ; and the poor creature, as 

soon as she saw me, was in the most abject state of terror 
that I ever saw, weeping bitterly and asking me over and over 
again, ' Is your father coming?' but was soon pacified. On 
my return home, I asked my father why she was so fright- 
ened, and he answered he was very glad to hear it, as he had 
frightened her on purpose, feeling sure that she would be kept 
in safety and much happier without any restraint, if her husband 
could influence her, whenever she became at all violent, by 
proposing to send for Dr. Darwin ; and these words succeeded 
perfectly during the rest of her long life. 

" My father was very sensitive, so that many small events 
annoyed him or pained him much. I once asked him, when 
he was old and could not walk, why he did not drive out for 
exercise ; and he answered, ' Every road out of Shrewsbury is 
associated in my mind with some painful event.' Yet he was 
generally in high spirits. He was easily made very angry, 
but his kindness was unbounded. He was widely and deeply 

" He was a cautious and good man of business, so that he 
hardly ever lost money by any investment, and left to his 
children a very large property. I remember a story showing 

how easily utterly false beliefs originate and spread. Mr. E , 

a squire of one of the oldest families in Shropshire, and head 
partner in a bank, committed suicide. My father was sent for 
as a matter of form, and found him dead. I may mention, by 
the way, to show how matters were managed in those old days, 

that because Mr. E was a rather great man, and universally 

respected, no inquest was held over his body. My father, in 
returning home, thought it proper to call at the bank (where 
he had an account) to tell the managing partners of the event, 
as it was not improbable that it would cause a run on the 
bank. Well, the story was spread far and wide, that my 
father went into the bank, drew out all his money, left the 

C 2 


bank, came back again, and said, ' I may just tell you that 

Mr. E has killed himself,' and then departed. It seems 

that it was then a common belief that money withdrawn from a 
bank was not safe until the person had passed out through 
the door of the bank. My father did not hear this story till some 
little time afterwards, when the managing partner said that 
he had departed from his invariable rule of never allowing any 
one to sec the account of another man, by having shown the 
ledger with my father's account to several persons, as this 
proved that my father had not drawn out a penny on that 
clay. It would have been dishonourable in my father to have 
used his professional knowledge for his private advantage. 
Nevertheless, the supposed act was greatly admired by some 
persons ; and many years afterwards, a gentleman remarked, 
' Ah, Doctor, what a splendid man of business you were in 
so cleverly getting all your money safe out of that bank ! ' 

" My father's mind was not scientific, and he did not try to 
generalise his knowledge under general laws ; yet he formed a 
theory for almost everything which occurred. I do not think 
I gained much from him intellectually ; but his example 
ought to have been of much moral service to all his children. 
One of his golden rules (a hard one to follow) was, 'Never 
become the friend of any one whom you cannot respect.' " 

Dr. Darwin had six children :* Marianne, married Dr. Henry 
Parker; Caroline, married Josiah Wedgwood ; Erasmus Alvey ; 
Susan, died unmarried ; Charles Robert ; Catherine, married 
Rev. Charles Langton. 

The elder son, Erasmus, was born in 1804, and died un- 
married at the age of seventy-seven. 

He, like his brother, was educated at Shrewsbury School 
and at Christ's College, Cambridge. He studied medicine at 
Edinburgh and in London, and took the degree of Bachelor 
of Medicine at Cambridge. He never made any pretence of 

Of these Mrs. Wedgwood is now the sole survivor. 


practising as a doctor, and, after leaving Cambridge, lived a 
quiet life in London. 

There was something pathetic in Charles Darwin's affection 
for his brother Erasmus, as if he always recollected his solitary 
life, and the touching patience and sweetness of his nature. 
He often spoke of him as " Poor old Ras," or " Poor dear 
old Philos " I imagine Philos (Philosopher) was a relic of the 
days when they worked at chemistry in the tool-house at 
Shrewsbury a time of which he always preserved a pleasant 
memory. Erasmus being rather more than four years older 
than Charles Darwin, they were not long together at Cam- 
bridge, but previously at Edinburgh they lived in the same 
lodgings, and after the Voyage they lived for a time together 
in Erasmus' house in Great Marlborough Street. At this 
time also he often speaks with much affection of Erasmus 
in his letters to Fox, using words such as " my dear good 
old brother." In later years Erasmus Darwin came to Down 
occasionally, or joined his brother's family in a summer 
holiday. But gradually it came about that he could not, 
through ill health, make up his mind to leave London, and 
then they only saw each other when Charles Darwin went 
for a week at a time to his brother's house in Queen Anne 

The following note on his brother's character was written 
by Charles Darwin at about the same time that the sketch 
of his father was added to the ' Recollections ' : 

" My brother Erasmus possessed a remarkably clear mind 
with extensive and diversified tastes and knowledge in litera- 
ture, art, and even in science. For a short time he collected 
and dried plants, and during a somewhat longer time ex- 
perimented in chemistry. He was extremely agreeable, and 
his wit often reminded me of that in the letters and works of 
Charles Lamb. He was very kind-hearted. . . . His health 
from his boyhood had been weak, and as a consequence he 


failed in energy. His spirits were not high, sometimes low, 
more especially during early and middle manhood. He read 
much, even whilst a boy, and at school encouraged me to 
read, lending me books. Our minds and tastes were, however, 
so different, that I do not think I owe much to him intellectu- 
ally. I am inclined to agree with Francis Galton in believing 
that education and environment produce only a small effect 
on the mind of any one, and that most of our qualities are 

Erasmus Darwin s name, though not known to the general 
public, may be remembered from the sketch of his character 
in Carlyle's ' Reminiscences,' which I here reproduce in part: 

" Erasmus Darwin, a most diverse kind of mortal, came to 
seek us out very soon (' had heard of Carlyle in Germany, 
&c.') and continues ever since to be a quiet house-friend, 
honestly attached ; though his visits latterly have been rarer 
and rarer, health so poor, I so occupied, &c., &c. He had 
something of original and sarcastically ingenious in him, one 
of the sincerest, naturally truest, and most modest of men ; 
elder brother of Charles Darwin (the famed Darwin on Species 
of these days) to whom I rather prefer him for intellect, had 
not his health quite doomed him to silence and patient idle- 
ness. . . . My dear one had a great favour for this honest 
Darwin always ; many a road, to shops and the like, he drove 
her in his cab (Darwingium Cabbum comparable to Georgium 
Sidus) in those early days when even the charge of omnibuses 
was a consideration, and his sparse utterances, sardonic often, 
were a great amusement to her. ' A perfect gentleman ' she at 
once discerned him to be, and of sound worth and kindliness 
in the most unaffected form." * 

Charles Darwin did not appreciate this sketch of his brother; 
* Carlyle's ' Reminiscences,' vol. ii. p. 208. 


he thought Carlyle had missed the essence of his most 
lovable nature. 

I am tempted by the wish of illustrating further the 
character of one so sincerely beloved by all Charles Darwin's 
children, to reproduce a letter to the Spectator (Sept. 3, 1881) 
by his cousin Miss Julia Wedgwood. 

"A portrait from Mr. Carlyle's portfolio not regretted by 
any who loved the original, surely confers sufficient distinc- 
tion to warrant a few words of notice, when the character 
it depicts is withdrawn from mortal gaze. Erasmus, the only 
brother of Charles Darwin, and the faithful and affectionate 
old friend of both the Carlyles, has left a circle of mourners 
who need no tribute from illustrious pen to embalm the 
memory so dear to their hearts ; but a wider circle must 
have felt some interest excited by that tribute, and may 
receive with a certain attention the record of a unique and 
indelible impression, even though it be made only on the 
hearts of those who cannot bequeath it, and with whom, there- 
fore, it must speedily pass away. They remember it with the 
same distinctness as they remember a creation of genius ; it 
has in like manner enriched and sweetened life, formed a 
common meeting-point for those who had no other ; and, in 
its strong fragrance of individuality, enforced that respect for 
the idiosyncracies of human character without which moral 
judgment is always hard and shallow, and often unjust. 
Carlyle was one to find a peculiar enjoyment in the combina- 
tion of liveliness and repose which gave his friend's society an 
influence at once stimulating and soothing, and the warmth of 
his appreciation was not made known first in its posthumous 
expression ; his letters of anxiety nearly thirty years ago, 
when the frail life which has been prolonged to old age was 
threatened by serious illness, are still fresh in my memory. 
The friendship was equally warm with both husband and wife. 
I remember well a pathetic little remonstrance from her 


elicited by an avowal from Erasmus Darwin, that he preferred 
cats to dogs, which she felt a slur on her little ' Nero ; ' and 
the tones in which she said, ' Oh, but you are fond of dogs ! 
you are too kind not to be/ spoke of a long vista of small, 
gracious kindnesses, remembered with a tender gratitude. He 
was intimate also with a person whose friends, like those of 
Mr. Carlyle, have not always had cause to congratulate them- 
selves on their place in her gallery, Harriet Martineau. I 
have heard him more than once call her a faithful friend, and 
it always seemed to me a curious tribute to something in the 
friendship that he alone supplied ; but if she had written of 
him at all, I believe the mention, in its heartiness of apprecia- 
tion, would have afforded a rare and curious meeting-point 
with the other ' Reminiscences,' so like and yet so unlike. It is 
not possible to transfer the impression of a character ; we can 
only suggest it by means of some resemblance ; and it is a 
singular illustration of that irony which checks or directs our 
sympathies, that in trying to give some notion of the man 
whom, among those who were not his kindred, Carlyle appears 
to have most loved, I can say nothing more descriptive than 
that he seems to me to have had something in common with 
the man whom Carlyle least appreciated. The society of 
Erasmus Darwin had, to my mind, much the same charm as 
the writings of Charles Lamb. There was the same kind of 
playfulness, the same lightness of touch, the same tenderness, 
perhaps the same limitations. On another side of his nature, 
I have often been reminded of him by the quaint, delicate 
humour, the superficial intolerance, the deep springs of pity, 
the peculiar mixture of something pathetic with a sort of gay 
scorn, entirely remote from contempt, which distinguish the 
Ellesmere of Sir Arthur Helps' earlier dialogues. Perhaps 
we recall such natures most distinctly, when such a resemblance 
is all that is left of them. The character is not merged in the 
creation ; and what we lose in the power to communicate our 
impression, we seem to gain in its vividness. Erasmus Darwin 


has passed away in old age, yet his memory retains something 
of a youthful fragrance ; his influence gave much happiness, 
of a kind usually associated with youth, to many lives besides 
the illustrious one whose records justify, though certainly they 
do not inspire, the wish to place this fading chaplet on his 

The foregoing pages give, in a fragmentary manner, as 
much perhaps as need be told of the family from which 
Charles Danvin came, and may serve as an introduction to 
the autobiographical chapter which follows. 


26 ) 



[MY father's autobiographical recollections, given in the- 
present chapter, were written for his children, and written 
without any thought that they would ever be published. To- 
many this may seem an impossibility; but those who knew 
my father will understand how it was not only possible, but 
natural. The autobiography bears the heading, 'Recollections- 
of the Development of my Mind and Character,' and end with 
the following note: "Aug. 3, 1876. This sketch of my 
life was begun about May 28th at Hopedenc,* and since 
then I have written for nearly an hour on most afternoons." 
It will easily be understood that, in a narrative of a personal 
and intimate kind written for his wife and children, passages 
should occur which must here be omitted ; and I have not 
thought it necessary to indicate where such omissions are 
made. It has been found necessary to make a few corrections, 
of obvious verbal slips, but the number of such alterations, 
has been kept down to the minimum. F. D.] 

A GERMAN Editor having written to me for an 
account of the development of my mind and character 
with some sketch of my autobiography, I have thought 
that the attempt would amuse me, and might possibly 
interest my children or their children. I know that 
it would have interested me greatly to have read even 

* Mr. Hcnsleigh Wedgwood's house in Surrey. 


so short and dull a sketch of the mind of my grand- 
father, written by himself, and what he thought and 
did, and how he worked. I have attempted to write 
the following account of myself, as if I were a dead 
man in another world looking back at my own life. 
Nor have I found this difficult, for life is nearly over 
with me. I have taken no pains about my style of 

I was born at Shrewsbury on February i2th, 1809, 
and my earliest recollection goes back only to when 
I was a few months over four years old, when we 
went to near Abergele for sea-bathing, and I recol- 
lect some events and places there with some little 

My mother died in July 1817, when I was a little 
over eight years old, and it is odd that I can 
remember hardly anything about her except her death- 
bed, her black velvet gown, and her curiously con- 
structed work-table. In the spring of this same year 
I was sent to a day-school in Shrewsbury, where I 
stayed a year. I have been told that I was much 
slower in learning than my younger sister Catherine, 
and I believe that I was in many ways a naughty boy. 

By the time I went to this day-school * my taste 

* Kept by Rev. G. Case, minister England ; and after his early boy- 

of the Unitarian Chapel in the hood he seems usually to have gone 

High Street. Mrs. Darwin was a to church and not to Mr. Case's. 

Unitarian and attended Mr. Case's It appears (St. James' Gazette, 

chapel, and my father as a little Dec. 15, 1883) that a mural tablet 

boy went there with his elder has been erected to his memory in 

sisters. But both he and his the chapel, which is now known 

brother were christened and in- as the ' Free Christian Church.' 

tended to belong to the Church of F. D. 


for natural history, and more especially for collecting, 
was well developed. I tried to make out the names 
of plants,* and collected all sorts of things, shells, 
seals, franks, coins, and minerals. The passion for 
collecting which leads a man to be a systematic 
naturalist, a virtuoso, or a miser, was very strong in 
me, and was clearly innate, as none of my sisters or 
brother ever had this taste. 

One little event during this year has fixed itself 
very firmly in my mind, and I hope that it has done 
so from my conscience having been afterwards sorely 
troubled by it ; it is curious as showing that appa- 
rently I was interested at this early age in the varia- 
bility of plants ! I told another little boy (I believe 
it was Leighton, who afterwards became a well-known 
lichenologist and botanist), that I could produce 
variously coloured polyanthuses and primroses by 
watering them with certain coloured fluids, which was 
of course a monstrous fable, and had never been 
tried by me. I may here also confess that as a 
little boy I was much given to inventing deliberate 
falsehoods, and this was always done for the sake of 
causing excitement. For instance, I once gathered 
much valuable fruit from my father's trees and hid 
it in the shrubbery, and then ran in breathless 

* Rev. W. A. Leighton, who was could be discovered. Mr. Leighton 

a schoolfellow of my father's at Mr. goes on, "This greatly roused my 

Case's school, remembers his bring- attention and curiosity, and I in- 

ing a flower to school and saying quired of him repeatedly how this 

that his mother had taught him could be done?" but his lesson was 

how by looking at the inside of the naturally enough not transmissible, 

blossom the name of the plant F. D. 


haste to spread the news that I had discovered a 
hoard of stolen fruit. 

I must have been a very simple little fellow when I 
first went to the school. A boy of the name of 
Garnett took me into a cake shop one day, and 
bought some cakes for which he did not pay, as the 
shopman trusted him. When we came out I asked 
him why he did not pay for them, and he instantly 
answered, " Why, do you not know that my uncle left 
a great sum of money to the town on condition that 
every tradesman should give whatever was wanted 
without payment to any one who wore his old hat and 
moved [it] in a particular manner ?" and he then showed 
me how it was moved. He then went into another 
shop where he was trusted, and asked for some small 
article, moving his hat in the proper manner, and of 
course obtained it without payment. When we came 
out he said, " Now if you like to go by yourself into 
that cake-shop (how well I remember its exact posi- 
tion) I will lend you my hat, and you can get what- 
ever you like if you move the hat on your head 
properly." I gladly accepted the generous offer, and 
went in and asked for some cakes, moved the old hat 
and was walking out of the shop, when the shopman 
made a rush at me, so I dropped the cakes and ran 
for dear life, and was astonished by being greeted 
with shouts of laughter by my false friend Garnett. 

I can say in my own favour that I was as a boy 
humane, but I owed this entirely to the instruction 
and example of my sisters. I doubt indeed whether 
humanity is a natural or innate quality. I was very 


fond of collecting eggs, but I never took more than a 
single egg out of a bird's nest, except on one single 
occasion, when I took all, not for their value, but from 
a sort of bravado. 

I had a strong taste for angling, and would sit for 
any number of hours on the bank of a river or pond 
watchinc: the float ; when at Maer * I was told that 


I could kill the worms with salt and water, and from 
that day I never spitted a living worm, though at the 
expense probably of some loss of success. 

Once as a very little boy whilst at the day school, 
or before that time, I acted cruelly, for I beat a 
puppy, I believe, simply from enjoying the sense of 
power ; but the beating could not have been severe, 
for the puppy did not howl, of which I feel sure, as 
the spot was near the house. This act lay heavily on 
my conscience, as is shown by my remembering the 
exact spot where the crime was committed. It prob- 
ably lay all the heavier from my love of dogs being 
then, and for a long time afterwards, a passion. Dogs 
seemed to know this, for I was an adept in robbing 
their love from their masters. 

I remember clearly only one other incident during 
this year whilst at Mr. Case's daily school, namely, 
the burial of a dragoon soldier ; and it is surprising 
how clearly I can still see the horse with the man's 
empty boots and carbine suspended to the saddle, and 
the firing over the grave. This scene deeply stirred 
whatever poetic fancy there was in me. 

In the summer of 1818 I went to Dr. Butler's great 

* The house of his uncle, Josiah Wedgwood. 


school in Shrewsbury, and remained there for seven 
years till Midsummer 1825, when I was sixteen years 
old. I boarded at this school, so that I had the great 
advantage of living the life of a true schoolboy ; but 
as the distance was hardly more than a mile to my 
home, I very often ran there in the longer intervals 
between the callings over and before locking up at 
night. This, I think, was in many ways advanta- 
geous to me by keeping up home affections and 
interests. I remember in the early part of my school 
life that I often had to run very quickly to be in time, 
and from being a fleet runner was generally successful ; 
but when in doubt I prayed earnestly to God to help 
me, and I well remember that I attributed my success 
to the prayers and not to my quick running, and 
marvelled how generally I was aided. 

I have heard my father and elder sister say that I 
had, as a very young boy, a strong taste for long soli- 
tary walks ; but what I thought about I know not. I 
often became quite absorbed, and once, whilst return- 
ing to school on the summit of the old fortifications 
round Shrewsbury, which had been converted into a 
public foot-path with no parapet on one side, I walked 
off and fell to the ground, but the height was only 
seven or eight feet. Nevertheless the number of 
thoughts which passed through my mind during this 
very short, but sudden and wholly unexpected fall, 
was astonishing, and seem hardly compatible with 
what physiologists have, I believe, proved about each 
thought requiring quite an appreciable amount of time. 

Nothing could have been worse for the develop- 


ment of my mind than Dr. Butler's school, as it was 
strictly classical, nothing else being taught, except a 
little ancient geography and history. The school as 
a means of education to me was simply a blank. 
During my whole life I have been singularly incapable 
of mastering any language. Especial attention was 
paid to verse-making, and this I could never do well. 
I had many friends, and got together a good collection 
of old verses, which by patching together,, sometimes 
aided by other boys, I could work into any subject. 
Much attention was paid to learning by heart the 
lessons of the previous day ; this I could effect with 
great facility, learning forty or fifty lines of Virgil or 
Homer, whilst I was in morning chapel ; but this 
exercise was utterly useless, for every verse was for- 
gotten in forty-eight hours. I was not idle, and with 
the exception of versification, generally worked con- 
scientiously at my classics, not using cribs. The sole 
pleasure I ever received from such studies, was from 
some of the odes of Horace, which I admired greatly. 
When I left the school I was for my age neither 
high nor low in it ; and I believe that I was con- 
sidered by all my masters and by my father as a very 
ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in 
intellect. To my deep mortification my father once 
said to me, " You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, 
and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to your- 
self and all your family." But my father, who was 
the kindest man I ever knew and whose memory I 
love with all my heart, must have been angry and 
somewhat unjust when he used such words. 


Looking back as well as I can at my character 
during my school life, the only qualities which at this 
period promised well for the future, were, that I had 
strong and diversified tastes, much zeal for whatever 
interested me, and a keen pleasure in understanding 
any complex subject or thing. I was taught Euclid 
by a private tutor, and I distinctly remember the 
intense satisfaction which the clear geometrical proofs 
gave me. I remember with equal distinctness the 
delight which my uncle gave me (the father of 
Francis Galton) by explaining the principle of the 
vernier of a barometer. With respect to diversified 
tastes, independently of science, I was fond of reading 
various books, and I used to sit for hours reading the 
historical plays of Shakespeare, generally in an old 
window in the thick walls of the school. I read also 
other poetry, such as Thomson's ' Seasons,' and the 
recently published poems of Byron and Scott. I 
mention this because later in life I wholly lost, to my 
great regret, all pleasure from poetry of any kind, 
including Shakespeare. In connection with pleasure 
from poetry, I may add that in 1822 a vivid delight 
in scenery was first awakened in my mind, during a 
riding tour on the borders of Wales, and this has 
lasted longer than any other aesthetic pleasure. 

Early in my school days a boy had a copy of the 
' Wonders of the World,' which I often read, and dis- 
puted with other boys about the veracity of some of 
the statements ; and I believe that this book first gave 
me a wish to travel in remote countries, which was 
ultimately fulfilled by the voyage of the Beagle. In 
VOL. i. D 


the latter part of my school life I became passionately 
fond of shooting ; I do not believe that any one could 
have shown more zeal for the most holy cause than I 
did for shooting birds. How well I remember killing 
my first snipe, and my excitement was so great that I 
had much difficulty in reloading my gun from the 
trembling of my hands. This taste long continued, 
and I became a very good shot. When at Cambridge 
I used to practise throwing up my gun to my shoulder 
before a looking-glass to see that I threw it up straight. 
Another and better plan was to get a friend to wave 
about a lighted candle, and then to fire at it with a 
cap on the nipple, and if the aim was accurate the 
little puff of air would blow out the candle. The 
explosion of the cap caused a sharp crack, and I was 
told that the tutor of the college remarked, " What 
an extraordinary thing it is, Mr. Darwin seems to 
spend hours in cracking a horse-whip in his room, 
for I often hear the crack when I pass under his 

I had many friends amongst the schoolboys, whom 
I loved dearly, and I think that my disposition was 
then very affectionate. 

With respect to science, I continued collecting 
minerals with much zeal, but quite unscientifically 
all that I cared about was a wcvt-named mineral, and I 
hardly attempted to classify them. I must have ob- 
served insects with some little care, for when ten years 
old (1819) I went for three weeks to Plas Edwards 
on the sea-coast in Wales, I was very much interested 
and surprised at seeing a large black and scarlet 


Hemipterous insect, many moths (Zygaena), and a 
Cicindela which are not found in Shropshire. I almost 
made up my mind to begin collecting all the insects 
which I could find dead, for on consulting my sister I 
concluded that it was not right to kill insects for the 
sake of making a collection. From reading White's 
' Selborne,' I took much pleasure in watching the 
habits of birds, and even made notes on the subject. 
In my simplicity I remember wondering why every 
gentleman did not become an ornithologist. 

Towards the close of my school life, my brother 
worked hard at chemistry, and made a fair laboratory 
with proper apparatus in the tool-house in the garden, 
and I was allowed to aid him as a servant in most of 
ihis experiments. He made all the gases and many 
'Compounds, and I read with care several books on 
chemistry, such as Henry and Parkes' ' Chemical 
Catechism.' The subject interested me greatly, and we 
often used to go on working till rather late at night. 
This was the best part of my education at school, for 
it showed me practically the meaning of experimental 
science. The fact that we worked at chemistry some- 
how got known at school, and as it was an unpre- 
cedented fact, I was nicknamed " Gas." I was also 
once publicly rebuked by the head-master, Dr. Butler, 
for thus wasting my time on such useless subjects ; 
and he called me very unjustly a " poco curante," and 
as I did not understand what he meant, it seemed to 
me a fearful reproach. 

As I was doing no good at school, my father wisely 
took me away at a rather earlier age than usual, and 

D 2 


sent me (Oct. 1825) to Edinburgh University with 
my brother, where I stayed for two years or sessions. 
My brother was completing his medical studies, though 
I do not believe he ever really intended to practise, 
and I was sent there to commence them. But soon 
after this period I became convinced from various 
small circumstances that my father would leave me 
property enough to subsist on with some comfort, 
though I never imagined that I should be so rich a 

o o 

man as I am ; but my belief was sufficient to check 
any strenuous effort to learn medicine. 

The instruction at Edinburgh was altogether by 
lectures, and these were intolerably dull, with the 
exception of those on chemistry by Hope ; but to my 
mind there are no advantages and many disadvantages 
in lectures compared with reading. Dr. Duncan's 
lectures on Materia Medica at 8 o'clock on a 
winter's morning are something fearful to remember. 

Dr. made his lectures on human anatomy as dull 

as he was himself, and the subject disgusted me. It 
has proved one of the greatest evils in my life that I 
was not urged to practise dissection, for I should soon 
have got over my disgust ; and the practice would 
have been invaluable for all my future work. This 
has been an irremediable evil, as well as my inca- 
pacity to draw. I also attended regularly the clinical 
wards in the hospital. Some of the cases distressed 
me a good deal, and I still have vivid pictures before 
me of some of them ; but I was not so foolish as to 
allow this to lessen my attendance. I cannot under- 
stand why this part of my medical course did not 


interest me in a greater degree ; for during the 
summer before coming to Edinburgh I began attend- 
ing some of the poor people, chiefly children and 
women in Shrewsbury : I wrote down as full an 
account as I could of the case with all the symptoms, 
and read them aloud to my father, who suggested 
further inquiries and advised me what medicines to 
give, which I made up myself. At one time I had at 
least a dozen patients, and I felt a keen interest in the 
work. My father, who was by far the best judge of 
character whom I ever knew, declared that I should 
make a successful physician, meaning by this one 
who would get many patients. He maintained that 
the chief element of success was exciting confidence ; 
but what he saw in me which convinced him that I 
should create confidence I know not. I also attended 
on two occasions the operating theatre in the hospital 
at Edinburgh, and saw two very bad operations, one 
on a child, but I rushed away before they were com- 
pleted. Nor did I ever attend again, for hardly any 
inducement would have been strong enough to make 
me do so ; this being long before the blessed days of 
chloroform. The two cases fairly haunted me for 
many a long year. 

My brother stayed only one year at the Univer- 
sity, so that during the second year I was left to 
my own resources ; and this was an advantage, 
for I became well acquainted with several young 
men fond of natural science. One of these was 
Ainsworth, who afterwards published his travels in 
Assyria ; he was a Wernerian geologist, and knew a 


little about many subjects. Dr. Coldstream was a 
very different young man, prim, formal, highly re- 
ligious, and most kind-hearted ; he afterwards pub- 
lished some good zoological articles. A third young 
man was Hardie, who would, I think, have made a 
good botanist, but died early in India. Lastly, Dr. 
Grant, my senior by several years, but how I became 
acquainted with him I cannot remember ; he published 
some first-rate zoological papers, but after coming to- 
London as Professor in University College, he did 
nothing more in science, a fact which has always been 
inexplicable to me. I knew him well ; he was dry 
and formal in manner, with much enthusiasm beneath 
this outer crust. He one day, when we were walking 
together, burst forth in high admiration of Lamarck 
and his views on evolution. I listened in silent as- 
tonishment, and as far as I can judge without any 
effect on my mind. I had previously read the ' Zoo- 
nomia ' of my grandfather, in which similar views are 
maintained, but without producing any effect on me_ 
Nevertheless it is probable that the hearing rather 
early in life such views maintained and praised may 
have favoured my upholding them under a different 
form in my ' Origin of Species.' At this time I 
admired greatly the ' Zoonomia ; ' but on reading it a 
second time after an interval of ten or fifteen years, I 
was much disappointed ; the proportion of speculation 
being so large to the facts given. 

Drs. Grant and Coldstream attended much to 
marine Zoology, and I often accompanied the former 
to collect animals in the tidal pools, which I dissected 


as well as I could. I also became friends with some 
of the Newhaven fishermen, and sometimes accom- 
panied them when they trawled for oysters, and thus 
got many specimens. But from not having had any 
regular practice in dissection, and from possessing 
only a wretched microscope, my attempts were very 
poor. Nevertheless I made one interesting little dis- 
covery, and read, about the beginning of the year 1826, 
a short paper on the subject before the Plinian Society, 
This was that the so-called ova of F lustra had the 
power of independent movement by means of cilia, 
and were in fact larvae. In another short paper I 
showed that the little globular bodies which had been 
supposed to be the young state of Fucus loreits were 
the egg-cases of the worm-like Pontobdella miiricata. 

The Plinian Society was encouraged and, I believe, 
founded by Professor Jameson : it consisted of stu- 
dents and met in an underground room in the Uni- 
versity for the sake of reading papers on natural 
science and discussing them. I used regularly to 
attend, and the meetings had a good effect on me in 
stimulating my zeal and giving me new congenial 
acquaintances. One evening a poor young man got 
up, and after stammering for a prodigious length of 
time, blushing crimson, he at last slowly got out the 
words, "Mr. President, I have forgotten what I was 
going to say." The poor fellow looked quite over- 
whelmed, and all the members were so surprised that 
no one could think of a word to say to cover his 
confusion. The papers which were read to our little 
society were not printed, so that I had not the satis- 


faction of seeing my paper in print ; but I believe 
Dr. Grant noticed my small discovery in his excellent 
memoir on Flustra. 

I was also a member of the Royal Medical Society, 
and attended pretty regularly; but as the subjects were 
exclusively medical, I did not much care about them. 
Much rubbish was talked there, but there were some 
good speakers, of whom the best was the present Sir 
J. Kay-Shuttleworth. Dr. Grant took me occasion- 
ally to the meetings of the Wernerian Society, where 
various papers on natural history were read, discussed, 
and afterwards published in the ' Transactions.' I 
heard Audubon deliver there some interesting dis- 
courses on the habits of N. American birds, sneering 
somewhat unjustly at Waterton. By the way, a 
negro lived in Edinburgh, who had travelled with 
Waterton, and gained his livelihood by stuffing birds, 
which he did excellently : he gave me lessons for 
payment, and I used often to sit with him, for he was 
a very pleasant and intelligent man. 

Mr. Leonard Horner also took me once to a meeting 
of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, where I saw Sir 
Walter Scott in the chair as President, and he apolo- 
gised to the meeting as not feeling fitted for such a 
position. I looked at him and at the whole scene with 
some awe and reverence, and I think it was owing to 
this visit during my youth, and to my having attended 
the Royal Medical Society, that I felt the honour of 
being elected a few years ago an honorary member 
of both these Societies, more than any other similar 
honour. If I had been told at that time that I should 


one day have been thus honoured, I declare that I 
should have thought it as ridiculous and improbable, 
as if I had been told that I should be elected King 
of England. 

During my second year at Edinburgh I attended 

's lectures on Geology and Zoology, but they 

were incredibly dull. The sole effect they produced 
on me was the determination never as long as I lived 
to read a book on Geology, or" in any way to study the 
science. Yet I feel sure that I was prepared for a 
philosophical treatment of the subject ; for an old 
Mr. Cotton in Shropshire, who knew a good deal 
about rocks, had pointed out to me two or three years 
previously a well-known large erratic boulder in the 
town of Shrewsbury, called the "bell-stone" ; he told me 
that there was no rock of the same kind nearer than 
Cumberland or Scotland, and he solemnly assured me 
that the world would come to an end before any one 
would be able to explain how this stone came where 
it now lay. This produced a deep impression on me, 
and I meditated over this wonderful stone. So that 
I felt the keenest delight when I first read of the 
action of icebergs in transporting boulders, and I 
gloried in the progress of Geology. Equally striking 
is the fact that I, though now only sixty-seven 
years old, heard the Professor, in a field lecture at 
Salisbury Craigs, discoursing on a trap-dyke, with 
amygdaloidal margins and the strata indurated on 
each side, with volcanic rocks all around us, say 
that it was a fissure filled with sediment from above, 
adding with a sneer that there were men who main- 


tained that it had been injected from beneath in ai 
molten condition. When I think of this lecture, I do- 
not wonder that I determined never to attend to- 

From attending 's lectures, I became acquainted 

with the curator of the museum, Mr. Macgillivray, 
who afterwards published a large and excellent book. 
on the birds of Scotland. I had much interesting 
natural-history talk with him, and he was very kind to- 
me. He gave me some rare shells, for I at that time 
collected marine mollusca, but with no great zeal. 

My summer vacations during these two years were- 
wholly given up to amusements, though I always had. 
some book in hand, which I read with interest. 
During the summer of 1826 I took a long walking 
tour with two friends with knapsacks on our backs, 
through North Wales. We walked thirty miles most- 
days, including one day the ascent of Snowdon. I 
also went with my sister a riding tour in North Wales,, 
a servant with saddle-bags carrying our clothes. The 
autumns were devoted to shooting chiefly at Mr. 
Owen's, at Woodhouse, and at my Uncle Jos's, * at 
Maer. My zeal was so great that I used to place my 
shooting-boots open by my bed-side when I went to- 
bed, so as not to lose half a minute in putting them on. 
in the morning ; and on one occasion I reached SL 
distant part of the Maer estate, on the 2Oth of August 
for black-game shooting, before I could see : I then, 
toiled on with the gamekeeper the whole day through 
thick heath and young Scotch firs. 

* Josiah Wedgwood, the son of the founder of the Etruria Works. 


I kept an exact record of every bird which I shot 
throughout the whole season. One day when shoot- 
ing at Woodhouse with Captain Owen, the eldest son, 
and Major Hill, his cousin, afterwards Lord Berwick, 
both of whom I liked very much, I thought myself 
shamefully used, for every time after I had fired and 
thought that I had killed a bird, one of the two acted 
as if loading his gun, and cried out, " You must not. 
count that bird, for I fired at the same time," and the 
gamekeeper, perceiving the joke, backed them up. 
After some hours they told me the joke, but it was no> 
joke to me, for I had shot a large number of birds, 
but did not know how many, and could not add them. 
to my list, which I used to do by making a knot in a. 
piece of string tied to a button-hole. This my wicked 
friends had perceived. 

How I did enjoy shooting ! but I think that I must 
have been half-consciously ashamed of my zeal, for I 
tried to persuade myself that shooting was almost an. 
intellectual employment ; it required so much skill 
to judge where to find most game and to hunt the 
dogs well. 

One of my autumnal visits to Maer in 182,7 was 
memorable from meeting there Sir J. Mackintosh,, 
who was the best converser I ever listened to. I 
heard afterwards with a glow of pride that he had. 
said, " There is something in that young man that 
interests me." This must have been chiefly due to 
his perceiving that I listened with much interest to 
everything which he said, for I was as ignorant as a. 
pig about his subjects of history, politics, and moral 


philosophy. To hear of praise from an eminent 
person, though no doubt apt or certain to excite 
vanity, is, I think, good for a young man, as it helps 
to keep him in the right course. 

My visits to Maer during these two or three suc- 
ceeding years were quite delightful, independently of 
the autumnal shooting. Life there was perfectly 
free ; the country was very pleasant for walking or 
riding ; and in the evening there was much very 
agreeable conversation, not so personal as it generally 
is in large family parties, together with music. In the 
summer the whole family used often to sit on the 
steps of the old portico, with the flower-garden in 
front, and with the steep wooded bank opposite the 
house reflected in the lake, with here and there a fish 
rising or a water-bird paddling about. Nothing has 
left a more vivid picture on my mind than these 
evenings at Maer. I was also attached to and greatly 
revered my Uncle Jos ; he was silent and reserved, so 
as to be a rather awful man ; but he sometimes talked 
openly with me. He was the very type of an upright 
man, with the clearest judgment. I do not believe 
that any power on earth could have made him swerve 
an inch from what he considered the right course. I 
used to apply to him in my mind the well-known ode 
of Horace, now forgotten by me, in which the words 
" nee vultus tyranni, &c.," * come in. 

Cambridge 1828-1831. After having spent two 

* Justum et tenacem propositi virum 
Non civium ardor prava jubentium. 
Non vultus instantis tyranni 
Mcnte quatit solida. 


sessions in Edinburgh, my father perceived, or he 
heard from my sisters, that I did not like the thought 
of being a physician, so he proposed that I should 
become a clergyman. He was very properly vehe- 
ment against my turning into an idle sporting man, 
which then seemed my probable destination. I asked 
for some time to consider, as from what little I had 
heard or thought on the subject I had scruples about 
declaring my belief in all the dogmas of the Church 
of England ; though otherwise I liked the thought of 
being a country clergyman. Accordingly I read with 
care ' Pearson on the Creed,' and a few other books 
on divinity ; and as I did not then in the least doubt 
the strict and literal truth of every word in the Bible, 
I soon persuaded myself that our Creed must be fully 

Considering how fiercely I have been attacked by 
the orthodox, it seems ludicrous that I once intended 
to be a clergyman. Nor was this intention and my 
father's wish ever formally given up, but died a natu- 
ral death when, on leaving Cambridge, I joined the 
Beagle as naturalist. If the phrenologists are to be 
trusted, I was well fitted in one respect to be a clergy- 
man. A few years ago the secretaries of a German 
psychological society asked me earnestly by letter for 
a photograph of myself ; and some time afterwards I 
received the proceedings of one of the meetings, in 
which it seemed that the shape of my head had been, 
the subject of a public discussion, and one of the 
speakers declared that I had the bump of reverence 
developed enough for ten priests. 


As it was decided that I should be a clergyman, it 
was necessary that I should go to one of the English 
universities and take a degree ; but as I had never 
opened a classical book since leaving school, I found 
to my dismay, that in the two intervening years I had 
actually forgotten, incredible as it may appear, almost 
everything which I had learnt, even to some few of 
the Greek letters. I did not therefore proceed to 
Cambridge at the usual time in October, but worked 
with a private tutor in Shrewsbury, and went to 
Cambridge after the Christmas vacation, early in 
1828. I soon recovered my school standard of know- 
ledge, and could translate easy Greek books, such 
as Homer and the Greek Testament, with moderate 

During the three years which I spent at Cambridge 
rmy time was wasted, as far as the academical studies 
were concerned, as completely as at Edinburgh and 
at school. I attempted mathematics, and even 
-went during the summer of 1828 with a private 
tutor to Barmouth, but I got on very slowly. The 
work was repugnant to me, chiefly from my not 
being able to see any meaning in the early steps in 
algebra. This impatience was very foolish, and in 
after years I have deeply regretted that I did not 
proceed far enough at least to understand something 
of the great leading principles of mathematics, for men 
thus endowed seem to have an extra sense. But I 
do not believe that I should ever have succeeded 
beyond a very low grade. With respect to Classics I 
did nothing except attend a few compulsory college 


lectures, and the attendance was almost nominal. In 
sny second year I had to work for a month or two to 
ipass the Little-Go, which I did easily. Again, in my 
'last year I worked with some earnestness for my final 
degree of B.A., and brushed up my Classics, together 
-with a little Algebra and Euclid, which latter gave me 
much pleasure, as it did at school. In order to pass 
vthe B.A. examination, it was also necessary to get up 
Paley's ' Evidences of Christianity,' and his ' Moral 
Philosophy.' This was done in a thorough manner, 
;and I am convinced that I could have written out the 
r vvhole of the ' Evidences ' with perfect correctness, but 
not of course in the clear language of Paley. The 
ilogic of this book and, as I may add, of his ' Natural 
'Theology,' gave me as much delight as did Euclid. 
The careful study of these works, without attempting 
to learn any part by rote, was the only part of the 
academical course which, as I then felt and as I still 
believe, was of the least use to me in the education of 
:my mind. I did not at that time trouble myself about 
Paley's premises ; and taking these on trust, I was 
charmed and convinced by the long line of argumen- 
tation. By answering well the examination questions 
in Paley, by doing Euclid well, and by not failing 
miserably in Classics, I gained a good place among 
the 01 TroXXot or crowd of men who do not go { n f or 


honours. Oddly enough, I cannot remember how 
high I stood, and my memory fluctuates between the 
fifth, tenth, or twelfth, name on the list.* 

Public lectures on several branches were given in 

* Tenth in the list of January 1831. 


the University, attendance being quite voluntary ; but 
I was so sickened with lectures at Edinburgh that I 
did not even attend Sedgwick's eloquent and interest- 
ing lectures. Had I done so I should probably have 
become a geologist earlier than I did. I attended, 
however, Henslow's lectures on Botany, and liked 
them much for their extreme clearness, and the admi- 
rable illustrations ; but I did not study botany. Hen- 
slow used to take his pupils, including several of the 
older members of the University, field excursions, on 
foot or in coaches, to distant places, or in a barge 
down the river, and lectured on the rarer plants and 
animals which were observed. These excursions were 

Although, as we shall presently see, there were 
some redeeming features in my life at Cambridge, my 
time was sadly wasted there, and worse than wasted. 
From my passion for shooting and for hunting, and, 
when this failed, for riding across country, I got into 
a sporting set, including some dissipated low-minded 
young men. We used often to dine together in the 
evening, though these dinners often included men of a 
higher stamp, and we sometimes drank too much, 
with jolly singing and playing at cards afterwards. I 
know that I ought to feel ashamed of days and even- 
ings thus spent, but as some of my friends were very 
pleasant, and we were all in the highest spirits, I 
cannot help looking back to these times with much 

But I am glad to think that I had many other 
friends of a widely different nature. I was very in- 


timate with Whitley,* who was afterwards Senior 
Wrangler, and we used continually to take long walks 
together. He inoculated me with a taste for pictures 
and good engravings, of which I bought some. I fre- 
quently went to the Fitzwilliam Gallery, and my taste 
must have been fairly good, for I certainly admired the 
best pictures, which I discussed with the old curator. 
I read also with much interest Sir Joshua Reynolds' 
book. This taste, though not natural to me, lasted 
for several years, and many of the pictures in the 
National Gallery in London gave me much pleasure ; 
that of Sebastian del Piombo exciting in me a sense of 

I also got into a musical set, I believe by means of 
my warm-hearted friend, Herbert, f who took a high 
wrangler's degree. From associating with these men, 
and hearing them play, I acquired a strong taste for 
music, and used very often to time my walks so as to 
hear on week days the anthem in King's College 
Chapel. This gave me intense pleasure, so that my 
backbone would sometimes shiver. I am sure that 
there was no affectation or mere imitation in this taste, 
for I used generally to go by myself to King's College, 
and I sometimes hired the chorister boys to sing in 
my rooms. Nevertheless I am so utterly destitute of 
an ear, that I cannot perceive a discord, or keep time 
and hum a tune correctly ; and it is a mystery how I 
could possibly have derived pleasure from music. 

* Rev. C. Whitley, Hon. Canon f The late John Maurice Herbert, 

of Durham, formerly Reader in County Court Judge of Cardiff and 

Natural Philosophy in Durham the Monmouth Circuit. 


VOL. I. F 


My musical friends soon perceived my state, and 
sometimes amused themselves by making me pass an 
examination, which consisted in ascertaining how- 
many tunes I could recognise, when they were played 
rather more quickly or slowly than usual. ' God save 
the King,' when thus played, was a sore puzzle. 
There was another man with almost as bad an ear as 
I had, and strange to say he played a little on the 
flute. Once I had the triumph of beating him in one 
of our musical examinations. 

But no pursuit at Cambridge was followed with 
nearly so much eagerness or gave me so much pleasure 
as collecting beetles. It was the mere passion for 
collecting, for I did not dissect them, and rarely com- 
pared their external characters with published descrip- 
tions, but got them named anyhow. I will give a 
proof of my zeal : one day, on tearing off some old 
bark, I saw two rare beetles, and seized one in each 
hand ; then I saw a third and new kind, which I 
could not bear to lose, so that I popped the one which 
I held in my right hand into my mouth. Alas ! it 
ejected some intensely acrid fluid, which burnt my 
tongue so that I was forced to spit the beetle out,, 
which was lost, as was the third one. 

I was very successful in collecting, and invented 
two new methods ; I employed a labourer to scrape 
during the winter, moss off old trees and place it in, 
a large bag, and likewise to collect the rubbish at the 
bottom of the barges in which reeds are brought from 
the fens, and thus I got some very rare species. No- 
poet ever felt more delighted at seeing his first poem 


published than I did at seeing, in Stephens' ' Illustra- 
tions of British Insects,' the magic words, " captured 
by C. Darwin, Esq." I was introduced to entomology 
by my second cousin, W. Darwin Fox, a clever and 
most pleasant man, who was then at Christ's College, 
and with whom I became extremely intimate. After- 
wards I became well acquainted, and went out collect- 
ing, with Albert Way of Trinity, who in after years 
became a well-known archreologist ; also with H. 
Thompson of the same College, afterwards a leading 
agriculturist, chairman of a great railway, and Member 
of Parliament. It seems therefore that a taste for 
collecting beetles is some indication of future success 
in life ! 

I am surprised what an indelible impression many 
of the beetles which I caught at Cambridge have left 
on my mind. I can remember the exact appear- 
ance of certain posts, old trees and banks where I 
made a good capture. The pretty Panag&HS crux- 
major was a treasure in those days, and here at Down 
I saw a beetle running across a walk, and on picking 
it up instantly perceived that it differed slightly from 
P. crux-major, and it turned out to be P. quadripunc- 
tatus, which is only a variety or closely allied species, 
differing from it very slightly in outline. I had never 
seen in those old days Licinus alive, which to an 
uneducated eye hardly differs from many of the black 
Carabidous beetles ; but my sons found here a speci- 
men, and I instantly recognised that it was new to 
me ; yet I had not looked at a British beetle for the 
last twenty years. 

E 2 


I have not as yet mentioned a circumstance which 
influenced my whole career more than any other. 
This was my friendship with Professor Henslow. 
Before coming up to Cambridge, I had heard of him 
from my brother as a man who knew every branch of 
science, and I was accordingly prepared to reverence 
him. He kept open house once every week when all 
undergraduates and some older members of the Uni- 
versity, who were attached to science, used to meet in 
the evening. I soon got, through Fox, an invitation, 
and went there regularly. Before long I became well 
acquainted with Henslow, and during the latter half 
of my time at Cambridge took long walks with him on 
most days ; so that I was called by some of the dons 
" the man who walks with Henslow ; " and in the 
evening I was very often asked to join his family 
dinner. His knowledge was great in botany, ento- 
mology, chemistry, mineralogy, and geology. His 
strongest taste was to draw conclusions from long- 
continued minute observations. His judgment was 
excellent, and his whole mind well balanced ; but I do 
not suppose that any one would say that he possessed 
much original genius. 

He was deeply religious, and so orthodox, that 
he told me one day he should be grieved if a single 
word of the Thirty-nine Articles were altered. His 
moral qualities were in every way admirable. He 
was free from every tinge of vanity or other petty 
feeling ; and I never saw a man who thought so little 
about himself or his own concerns. His temper was 
imperturbably good, with the most winning and 


courteous manners ; yet, as I have seen, he could be 
roused by any bad action to the warmest indignation 
and prompt action. 

I once saw in his company in the streets of Cam- 
bridge almost as horrid a scene as could have been 
witnessed during the French Revolution. Two body- 
snatchers had been arrested, and whilst being taken to 
prison had been torn from the constable by a crowd 
of the roughest men, who dragged them by their legs 
along the muddy and stony road. They were covered 
from head to foot with mud, and their faces were 
bleeding either from having been kicked or from the 
stones ; they looked like corpses, but the crowd was 
so dense that I got only a few momentary glimpses of 
the wretched creatures. Never in my life have I seen 
such wrath painted on a man's face as was shown by 
Henslow at this horrid scene. He tried repeatedly to 
penetrate the mob ; but it was simply impossible. He 
then rushed away to the mayor, telling me not to 
follow him, but to get more policemen. I forget the 
issue, except that the two men were got into the 
prison without being killed. 

Henslow's benevolence was unbounded, as he 
proved by his many excellent schemes for his poor 
parishioners, when in after years he held the living of 
Hitcham. My intimacy with such a man ought to 
have been, and I hope was, an inestimable benefit. I 
cannot resist mentioning a trifling incident, which 
showed his kind consideration. Whilst examining 
some pollen-grains on a damp surface, I saw the tubes 
exserted, and instantly rushed off to communicate my 


surprising discovery to him. Now I do not suppose 
any other professor of botany could have helped 
laughing at my coming in such a hurry to make such 
a communication. But he agreed how interesting the 
phenomenon was, and explained its meaning, but 
made me clearly understand how well it was known ; 
so I left him not in the least mortified, but well 
pleased at having discovered for myself so remarkable 
a fact, but determined not to be in such a hurry again 
to communicate my discoveries. 

Dr. Whewell was one of the older and distinguished 


men who sometimes visited Henslow, and on several 
occasions I walked home with him at night. Next to 
Sir J. Mackintosh he was the best converser on grave 
subjects to whom I ever listened. Leonard Jenyns,* 
who afterwards published some good essays in Natural 
History, t often stayed with Henslow, who was his 
brother-in-law. I visited him at his parsonage on 
the borders of the Fens [Swaffham Bulbeck], and 
had many a good walk and talk with him about 
Natural History. I became also acquainted with 
several other men older than me, who did not care 
much about science, but were friends of Henslow. 
One was a Scotchman, brother of Sir Alexander 
Ramsay, and tutor of Jesus College ; he was a de- 
lightful man, but did not live for many years. J Another 
was Mr. Dawes, afterwards Dean of Hereford, anc 
famous for his success in the education of the poor 

* The well-known Soame Jenyns of the Beagle ; and is author of a 

was cousin to Mr. Jenyns' father. long series of papers, chiefly Zoo- 

t Mr. Jenyns (now Blomefield) logical, 

described the fish for the Zoology J See Vol. i. p. 192. 


These men and others of the same standing, together 
with Henslow, used sometimes to take distant excur- 
sions into the country, which I was allowed to join, 
and they were most agreeable. 

Lookin^ back, I infer that there must have been 


something in me a little superior to the common 
run of youths, otherwise the above-mentioned men, 
so much older than me and higher in academical 
position, would never have allowed me to associate 
with them. Certainly I was not aware of any such 
superiority, and I remember one of my sporting 
friends, Turner, who saw me at work with my 
beetles, saying that I should some day be a Fellow 
of the Royal Society, and the notion seemed to me 

During my last year at Cambridge, I read with care 
and profound interest Humboldt's ' Personal Narra- 
tive.' This work, and Sir J. Herschel's ' Introduction 
to the Study of Natural Philosophy,' stirred up in me 
a burning zeal to add even the most humble contribu- 
tion to the noble structure of Natural Science. No one 
or a dozen other books influenced me nearly so much 
as these two. I copied out from Humboldt long pas- 
sages about Teneriffe, and read them aloud on one of 
the above-mentioned excursions, to (I think) Henslow, 
Ramsay, and Dawes, for on a previous occasion I had 
talked about the glories of Teneriffe, and some of the 
party declared they would endeavour to go there ; but 
I think that they were only half in earnest. I was, 
however, quite in earnest, and got an introduction to a 
merchant in London to enquire about ships ; but the 


scheme was, of course, knocked on the head by the 
voyage of the Beagle. 

My summer vacations were given up to collecting 
beetles, to some reading, and short tours. In the 
autumn my whole time was devoted to shooting, 
chiefly at Woodhouse and Maer, and sometimes with 
young Eyton of Eyton. Upon the whole the three 
years which I spent at Cambridge were the most 
joyful in my happy life ; for I was then in excellent 
health, and almost always in high spirits. 

As I had at first come up to Cambridge at Christmas, 
I was forced to keep two terms after passing my final 
examination, at the commencement of 1831 ; and 
Henslow then persuaded me to begin the study of 
geology. Therefore on my return to Shropshire I 
examined sections, and coloured a map of parts round 
Shrewsbury. Professor Sedgwick intended to visit 
North Wales in the beginning of August to pursue his 
famous geological investigations amongst the older 
rocks, and Henslow asked him to allow me to accom- 
pany him.* Accordingly he came and slept at my 
father's house. 

A short conversation with him during this evening 
produced a strong impression on my mind. Whilst 
examining an old gravel-pit near Shrewsbury, a 

* In connection with this tour waiter) had not given the chamber- 

my father used to tell a story about maid the sixpence intrusted to him 

Sedgwick : they had started from for the purpose. He was ultimately 

their inn one morning, and had persuaded to give up the project, 

walked a mile or two, when Sedg- seeing that there was no reason for 

wick suddenly stopped, and vowed suspecting the waiter of especial 

that he would return, being certain perfidy. F. D. 
"that damned scoundrel" (the 


labourer told me that he had found in it a large worn 
tropical Volute shell, such as may be seen on the 
chimney-pieces of cottages ; and as he would not sell 
the shell, I was convinced that he had really found it 
in the pit. I told Sedgwick of the fact, and he at 
once said (no doubt truly) that it must have been 
thrown away by some one into the pit ; but then 
added, if really embedded there it would be the 
greatest misfortune to geology, as it would overthrow 
all that we know about the superficial deposits of 
the Midland Counties. These gravel-beds belong in 
fact to the glacial period, and in after years I found in 
them broken arctic shells. But I was then utterly 
astonished at Sedgwick not being delighted at so 
wonderful a fact as a tropical shell being found near 
the surface in the middle of England. Nothing 
before had ever made me thoroughly realise, though 
I had read various scientific books, that science con- 
sists in grouping facts so that general laws or conclu- 
sions may be drawn from them. 

Next morning we started for Llangollen, Conway, 
Bangor, and Capel Curig. This tour was of decided 
use in teaching me a little how to make out the 
geology of a country. Sedgwick often sent me on 
a line parallel to his, telling me to bring back speci- 
mens of the rocks and to mark the stratification on a 
map. I have little doubt that he did this for my 
good, as I was too ignorant to have aided him. On 
this tour I had a striking instance how easy it is to 
overlook phenomena, however conspicuous, before 
they have been observed by any one. We spent 


many hours in Cwm Idwal, examining all the rocks 
with extreme care, as Sedgwick was anxious to find 
fossils in them ; but neither of us saw a trace of the 
-wonderful glacial phenomena all around us ; we did not 
notice the plainly scored rocks, the perched boulders, 
the lateral and terminal moraines. Yet these phe- 
nomena are so conspicuous that, as I declared in a 
paper published many years afterwards in the ' Philo- 
sophical Magazine,' * a house burnt down by fire did 
not tell its story more plainly than did this valley. If 
it had still been filled by a glacier, the phenomena 
-would have been less distinct than they now are. 

At Capel Curig I left Sedgwick and went in a 
straight line by compass and map across the moun- 
tains to Barmouth, never following any track unless it 
coincided with my course. I thus came on some 
strange wild places, and enjoyed much this manner of 
travelling. I visited Barmouth to see some Cam- 
bridge friends who were reading there, and thence 
returned to Shrewsbury and to Maer for shooting ; 
for at that time I should have thought myself mad to 
give up the first days of partridge-shooting for geology 
or any other science. 

Voyage of the ' Beagle' from December 27, 1831, to 
October 2, 1836. 

On returning home from my short geological tour 
in North Wales, I found a letter from Henslow, in- 
forming me that Captain Fitz-Roy was willing to give 

* ' Philosophical Magazine,' 1842. 


up part of his own cabin to any young man who would 
volunteer to go with him without pay as naturalist to 
the Voyage of the Beagle. I have given, as I believe, 
in my MS. Journal an account of all the circumstances 
which then occurred ; I will here only say that I was 
instantly eager to accept the offer, but my father 
;strongly objected, adding the words, fortunate for me, 
"If you can find any man of common sense who 
.advises you to go I will give my consent." So I 
wrote that evening and refused the offer. On the 
next morning I went to Maer to be ready for Sep- 
tember ist, and, whilst out shooting, my uncle* sent 
for me, offering to drive me over to Shrewsbury and 
talk with my father, as my uncle thought it would be 
wise in me to accept the offer. My father always 
maintained that [my uncle] was one of the most 
^sensible men in the world, and he at once consented 
in the kindest manner. I had been rather extrava- 
gant at Cambridge, and to console my father, said, 
" that I should be deuced clever to spend more than 
my allowance whilst on board the Beagle ; " but he 
.answered with a smile, " But L they tell me you are 
very clever." 

Next day I started for Cambridge to see Henslow, 
and thence to London to see Fitz-Roy, and all was 
soon arranged. Afterwards, on becoming very inti- 
mate with Fitz-Roy, I heard that I had run a very 
narrow risk of being rejected, on account of the shape 
of my nose ! He was an ardent disciple of Lavater, 
.and was convinced that he could judge of a man's 

* Josiah Wedgwood. 


character by the outline of his features ; and he 
doubted whether any one with my nose could possess 
sufficient energy and determination for the voyage. 
But I think he was afterwards well satisfied that my 
nose had spoken falsely. 

Fitz-Roy's character was a singular one, with very 
many noble features : he was devoted to his duty, 
generous to a fault, bold, determined, and indomi- 
tably energetic, and an ardent friend to all under his 
sway. He would undertake any sort of trouble to 
assist those whom he thought deserved assistance. 
He was a handsome man, strikingly like a gentleman, 
with highly courteous manners, which resembled those 
of his maternal uncle, the famous Lord Castlereagh, 
as I was told by the Minister at Rio. Nevertheless 
he must have inherited much in his appearance from 
Charles II., for Dr. Wallich gave me a collection of 
photographs which he had made, and I was struck 
with the resemblance of one to Fitz-Roy ; and on 
looking at the name, I found it Ch. E. Sobieski 
Stuart, Count d'Albanie, a descendant of the same 

Fitz-Roy's temper was a most unfortunate one. It 
was usually worst in the early morning, and with his 
eagle eye he could generally detect something amiss 
about the ship, and was then unsparing in his blame. 
He was very kind to me, but was a man very difficult 
to live with on the intimate terms which necessarily 
followed from our messing by ourselves in the same 
cabin. We had several quarrels ; for instance, early in 
the voyage at Bahia, in Brazil, he defended and praised 


slavery, which I abominated, and told me that he had 
just visited a great slave-owner, who had called up 
many of his slaves and asked them whether they were 
happy, and whether they wished to be free, and all 
answered " No." I then asked him, perhaps with a 
sneer, whether he thought that the answer of slaves 
in the presence of their master was worth anything ? 
This made him excessively angry, and he said that as 
I doubted his word we could not live any longer 
together. I thought that I should have been com- 
pelled to leave the ship ; but as soon as the news 
spread, which it did quickly, as the captain sent for 
the first lieutenant to assuage his anger by abusing 
me, I was deeply gratified by receiving an invitation 
from all the gun-room officers to mess with them. 
But after a few hours Fitz-Roy showed his usual 
magnanimity by sending an officer to me with an 
apology and a request that I would continue to live 
with him. 

His character was in several respects one of the 
most noble which I have ever known. 

The voyage of the Beagle has been by far the 
most important event in my life, and has determined 
my whole career ; yet it depended on so small a 
circumstance as my uncle offering to drive me thirty 
miles to Shrewsbury, which few uncles would have 
done, and on such a trifle as the shape of my nose. 
I have always felt that I owe to the voyage the 
first real training or education of my mind; I 
was led to attend closely to several branches of 
natural history, and thus my powers of observation 


were improved, though they were always fairly- 

The investigation of the geology of all the places 
visited was far more important, as reasoning here 
comes into play. On first examining a new district 
nothing can appear more hopeless than the chaos of 
rocks ; but by recording the stratification and nature 
of the rocks and fossils at many points, always reason- 
ing and predicting what will be found elsewhere, light 
soon begins to dawn on the district, and the structure 
of the whole becomes more or less intelligible. I had 
brought with me the first volume of Lyell's ' Principles 
of Geology,' which I studied attentively ; and the 
book was of the highest service to me in many ways. 
The very first place which I examined, namely 
St. Jago in the Cape de Verde islands, showed me 
clearly the wonderful superiority of Lyell's manner 
of treating geology, compared with that of any other 
author, whose works I had with me or ever afterwards 

Another of my occupations was collecting animals 
of all classes, briefly describing and roughly dissecting 
many of the marine ones ; but from not being able to 
draw, and from not having sufficient anatomical know- 
ledge, a great pile of MS. which I made during the 
voyage has proved almost useless. I thus lost much 
time, with the exception of that spent in acquiring 
some knowledge of the Crustaceans, as this was of 
service when in after years I undertook a monograph 
of the Cirripedia. 

During some part of the day I wrote my Journal 


and took much pains in describing carefully and 
vividly all that I had seen ; and this was good prac- 
tice. My Journal served also, in part, as letters to 
my home, and portions were sent to England when- 
ever there was an opportunity. 

The above various special studies were, however, 
of no importance compared with the habit of energetic 
industry and of concentrated attention to whatever I 
was engaged in, which I then acquired. Everything 
about which I thought or read was made to bear 
directly on what I had seen or was likely to see ; and 
this habit of mind was continued during the five years 
of the voyage. I feel sure that it was this training 
which has enabled me to do whatever I have done in- 

Looking backwards, I can now perceive how my 
love for science gradually preponderated over every 
other taste. During the first two years my old 
passion for shooting survived in nearly full force, and 
I shot myself all the birds and animals for my collec- 
tion ; but gradually I gave up my gun more and more, 
and finally altogether, to my servant, as shooting 
interfered with my work, more especially with making 
out the geological structure of a country. I discovered, 
though unconsciously and insensibly, that the pleasure 
of observing and reasoning was a much higher one 
than that of skill and sport. That my mind became 
developed through my pursuits during the voyage is 
rendered probable by a remark made by my father, 
who was the most acute observer whom I ever saw, 
of a sceptical disposition, and far from being a believe 


in phrenology ; for on first seeing me after the voyage, 
he turned round to my sisters, and exclaimed, " Why, 
the shape of his head is quite altered." 

To return to the voyage. On September 1 1 th 
(1831), I paid a flying visit with Fitz-Roy to the 
Beagle at Plymouth. Thence to Shrewsbury to wish 
my father and sisters a long farewell. On October 
24th I took up my residence at Plymouth, and re- 
mained there until December 27th, when the Beagle 
finally left the shores of England for her circumnavi- 
gation of the world. We made two earlier attempts 
to sail, but were driven back each time by heavy 
gales. These two months at Plymouth were the 
most miserable which I ever spent, though I exerted 
myself in various ways. I was out of spirits at the 
thought of leaving all my family and friends for so 
long a time, and the weather seemed to me inexpres- 
sibly gloomy. I was also troubled with palpitation 
and pain about the heart, and like many a young 
ignorant man, especially one with a smattering of 
medical knowledge, was convinced that I had heart 
disease. I did not consult any doctor, as I fully ex- 
pected to hear the verdict that I was not fit for the 
voyage, and I was resolved to go at all hazards. 

I need not here refer to the events of the voyage- 
where we went and what we did as I have given a 
sufficiently full account in my published Journal. The 
glories of the vegetation of the Tropics rise before my 
mind at the present time more vividly than anything 
else ; though the sense of sublimity, which the great 
deserts of Patagonia and the forest-clad mountains of 


Tierra del Fuego excited in me, has left an indelible 
impression on my mind. The sight of a naked savage 
in his native land is an event which can never be for- 
gotten. Many of my excursions on horseback through 
wild countries, or in the boats, some of which lasted 
several weeks, were deeply interesting : their dis- 
comfort and some degree of danger were at that time 
hardly a drawback, and none at all afterwards. I 
also reflect with high satisfaction on some of my scien- 
tific work, such as solving the problem of coral islands, 
and making out the geological structure of certain 
islands, for instance, St. Helena. Nor must I pass 
over the discovery of the singular relations of the 
animals and plants inhabiting the several islands of 
the Galapagos archipelago, and of all of them to the 
inhabitants of South America. 

As far as I can judge of myself, I worked to the 
utmost during the voyage from the mere pleasure of 
investigation, and from my strong desire to add a few 
facts to the great mass of facts in Natural Science. 
But I was also ambitious to take a fair place among 
scientific men, whether more ambitious or less so 
than most of my fellow-workers, I can form no 

The geology of St. Jago is very striking, yet simple : 
a stream of lava formerly flowed over the bed of the 
sea, formed of triturated recent shells and corals, 
which it has baked into a hard white rock. Since 
then the whole island has been upheaved. But the 
line of white rock revealed to me a new and important 
fact, namely, that there had been afterwards subsi- 

VOL. i. F 


dence round the craters, which had since been in 
action, and had poured forth lava. It then first 
dawned on me that I might perhaps write a book on 
the geology of the various countries visited, and this 
made me thrill with delight. That was a memorable 
hour to me, and how distinctly I can call to mind the 
low cliff of lava beneath which I rested, with the sun 
glaring hot, a few strange desert plants growing near, 
and with living corals in the tidal pools at my feet. 
Later in the voyage, Fitz-Roy asked me to read some 
of my Journal, and declared it would be worth publish- 
ing ; so here was a second book in prospect ! 

Towards the close of our voyage I received a letter 
whilst at Ascension, in which my sisters told me that 
Sedgwick had called on my father, and said that I 
should take a place among the leading scientific men. 
I could not at the time understand how he could have 
learnt anything of my proceedings, but I heard (I 
believe afterwards) that Henslow had read some of 
the letters which I wrote to him before the Philo- 
sophical Society of Cambridge, * and had printed them 
for private distribution. My collection of fossil bones, 
which had been sent to Henslow, also excited con- 
siderable attention amongst palaeontologists. After 
reading this letter, I clambered over the mountains of 
Ascension with a bounding step, and made the volcanic 
rocks resound under my geological hammer. All this 
shows how ambitious I was ; but I think that I can 

* Read at the meeting held tion among the members of the 
November 16, 1835, and printed in Society, 
a pamphlet of 31 pp. for distribu- 


say with truth that in after years, though I cared in 
the highest degree for the approbation of such men as 
Lyell and Hooker, who were my friends, I did not 
care much about the general public. I do not mean 
to say that a favourable review or a large sale of my 
books did not please me greatly, but the pleasure was 
a fleeting one, and I am sure that I have never turned 
one inch out of my course to gain fame. 

From my return to England (October 2, 1836) to my 
marriage (January 29, 1839). 

These two years and three months were, the most 
active ones which I ever spent, though I was occasion- 
ally unwell, and so lost some time. After going back- 
wards and forwards several times between Shrewsbury, 
Maer, Cambridge, and London, I settled in lodgings at 
Cambridge* on December i3th, where all my collec- 
tions were under the care of Henslow. I stayed here 
three months, and got my minerals and rocks examined 
by the aid of Professor Miller. 

I began preparing my ' Journal of Travels,' which 
was not hard work, as my MS. Journal had been 
written with care, and my chief labour was making an 
abstract of my more interesting scientific results. I 
sent also, at the request of Lyell, a short account of 
my observations on the elevation of the coast of Chile 
to the Geological Society. \ 

On March yth, 1837, I took lodgings in Great Marl- 
borough Street in London, and remained there for 

* In Fitzwilliam Street. 

f ' Geolog. Soc. Proc.'ii. 1838, pp, 446-449. 

F 2 


nearly two years, until I was married. During these 
two years I finished my Journal, read several papers 
before the Geological Society, began preparing the 
MS. for my ' Geological Observations/ and arranged 
for the publication of the ' Zoology of the Voyage of 
the Beagle' In July I opened my first note-book for 
facts in relation to the Origin of Species, about which 
I had long reflected, and never ceased working for the 
next twenty years. 

During these two years I also went a little into 
society, and acted as one of the honorary secretaries 
of the Geological Society. I saw a great deal of Lyell. 
One of his chief characteristics was his sympathy 
with the work of others, and I was as much aston- 
ished as delighted at the interest which he showed 
when, on my return to England, I explained to him 
my views on coral reefs. This encouraged me greatly, 
and his advice and example had much influence on me. 
During this time I saw also a good deal of Robert 
Brown ; I used often to call and sit with him during 
his breakfast on Sunday mornings, and he poured 
forth a rich treasure of curious observations and acute 
remarks, but they almost always related to minute 
points, and he never with me discussed large or 
general questions in science. 

During these two years I took several short excur- 
sions as a relaxation, and one longer one to the 
Parallel Roads of Glen Roy, an account of which was 
published in the ' Philosophical Transactions.'* This 
paper was a great failure, and I am ashamed of it. 
* 1839, pp. 39-82. 


Having been deeply impressed with what I had seen 
of the elevation of the land in South America, I attri- 
buted the parallel lines to the action of the sea ; but I 
had to give up this view when Agassiz propounded 
his glacier-lake theory. Because no other explanation 
was possible under our then state of knowledge, I 
argued in favour of sea-action ; and my error has been 
a good lesson to me never to trust in science to the 
principle of exclusion. 

As I was not able to work all day at science, I read 
a good deal during these two years on various subjects, 
including some metaphysical books ; but I was not 
well fitted for such studies. About this time I took 
much delight in Wordsworth's and Coleridge's poetry ; 
and can boast that I read the ' Excursion ' twice 
through. Formerly Milton's 'Paradise Lost' had 
been my chief favourite, and in my excursions during 
the voyage of the Beagle, when I could take only a 
single volume, I always chose Milton. 

From my marriage, January 29, 1839, and residence 
in Upper Cower Street, to our leaving London and 
settling at Down, September 14, 1842. 

After speaking of his happy married life, and of his 
children, he continues : 

During the three years and eight months whilst we 
resided in London, I did less scientific work, though 
I worked as hard as I possibly could, than during any 
other equal length of time in my life. This was 
owing to frequently recurring unwellness, and to one 
long and serious illness. The greater part of my 


time, when I could do anything, was devoted to my 
work on * Coral Reefs,' which I had begun before 
my marriage, and of which the last proof-sheet was 
corrected on May 6th, 1842. This book, though a 
small one, cost me twenty months of hard work, as 
I had to read every work on the islands of the Pacific 
and to consult many charts. It was thought highly of 
by scientific men, and the theory therein given is, 
I think, now well established. 

No other work of mine was begun in so deductive 
a spirit as this, for the whole theory was thought out 
on the west coast of South America, before I had seen. 
a true coral reef. I had therefore only to verify and 
extend my views by a careful examination of living 
reefs. But it should be observed that I had during 
the two previous years been incessantly attending to 
the effects on the shores of South America of the 
intermittent elevation of the land, together with 
denudation and the deposition of sediment. This 
necessarily led me to reflect much on the effects of 
subsidence, and it was easy to replace in imagination* 
the continued deposition of sediment by the upward 
growth of corals. To do this was to form my theory 
of the formation of barrier-reefs and atolls. 

Besides my work on coral-reefs, during my residence 
in London, I read before the Geological Society 
papers on the Erratic Boulders of South America,* on 
Earthquakes,! and on the Formation by the Agency of 
Earth-worms of Mould. J I also continued to superin- 

* 'Geolog. Soc. Proc.' iii. 1842. f ' Geolog. Trans.' v. 1840. 

J ' Geolog. Soc. Proc.' ii. 1838. 


tend the publication of the ' Zoology of the Voyage of 
the Beagle' Nor did I ever intermit collecting facts 
bearing on the origin of species ; and I could some- 
times do this when I could do nothing else from 

In the summer of 1842 I was stronger than I had 
been for some time, and took a little tour by myself in 
North Wales, for the sake of observing the effects of 
the old glaciers which formerly filled all the larger 
valleys. I published a short account of what I saw in 
the ' Philosophical Magazine.' * This excursion inte- 
rested me greatly, and it was the last time I was ever 
strong enough to climb mountains or to take long 
walks such as are necessary for geological work. 

During the early part of our life in London, I was 
strong enough to go into general society, and saw 
a good deal of several scientific men, and other more 

O ' 

or less distinguished men. I will give my impressions 
with respect to some of them, though I have little to 
say worth saying. 

I saw more of Lyell than of any other man, both 
before and after my marriage. His mind was charac- 
terised, as it appeared to me, by clearness, caution, 
sound judgment, and a good deal of originality. When 
I made any remark to him on Geology, he never 
rested until he saw the whole case clearly, and often 
made me see it more clearly than I had done before. 
He would advance all possible objections to my 
suggestion, and even after these were exhausted 
would long remain dubious. A second characteristic 

* ' Philosophical Magazine,' 1842. 


was his hearty sympathy with the work of other 
scientific men.* 

On my return from the voyage of the Beagle, 
I explained to him my views on coral-reefs, which 
differed from his, and I was greatly surprised and 
encouraged by the vivid interest which he showed. 
His delight in science was ardent, and he felt the 
keenest interest in the future progress of mankind. 
He was very kind-hearted, and thoroughly liberal in 
his religious beliefs, or rather disbeliefs ; but he was a 
strong theist. His candour was highly remarkable. 
He exhibited this by becoming a convert to the 
Descent theory, though he had gained much fame by 
opposing Lamarck's views, and this after he had 
grown old. He reminded me that I had many years 
before said to him, when discussing the opposition of 
the old school of geologists to his new views, "What 
a good thing it would be if every scientific man was to 
die when sixty years old, as afterwards he would be 
sure to oppose all new doctrines." But he hoped that 
now he might be allowed to live. 

The science of Geology is enormously indebted to 
Lyell more so, as I believe, than to any other man 
whoever lived. When [I was] starting on the voyage 
of the Beagle, the sagacious Henslow, who, like all other 
geologists, believed at that time in successive cata- 
clysms, advised me to get and study the first volume 
of the ' Principles,' which had then just been published, 

* The slight repetition here ob- April, 1881, a few years after the 
scrvable is accounted for by the notes rest of the 'Recollections' were 
on Lyell, &c., having been added in written. 


but on no account to accept the views therein advo- 
cated. How differently would any one now speak of 
the ' Principles ' ! I am proud to remember that the 
first place, namely, St. Jago, in the Cape de Verde 
archipelago, in which I geologised, convinced me of 
the infinite superiority of Lyell's views over those 
advocated in any other work known to me. 

The powerful effects of Lyell's works could for- 
merly be plainly seen in the different progress of the 
science in France and England. The present total 
oblivion of Elie de Beaumont's wild hypotheses, such 
as his ' Craters of Elevation ' and ' Lines of Elevation ' 
(which latter hypothesis I heard Sedgwick at the 
Geological Society lauding to the skies), may be 
largely attributed to Lyell. 

I saw a good deal of Robert Brown, "facile Princeps 
Botanicorum," as he was called by Humboldt. He 
seemed to me to be chiefly remarkable for the minute- 
ness of his observations, and their perfect accuracy. 
His knov/ledge was extraordinarily great, and much 
died with him, owing to his excessive fear of ever 
making a mistake. He poured out his knowledge 
to me in the most unreserved manner, yet was 
strangely jealous on some points. I called on him 
two or three times before the voyage of the Beagle, 
and on one occasion he asked me to look through a 
microscope and describe what I saw. This I did, 
and believe now that it was the marvellous currents 
of protoplasm in some vegetable cell. I then asked 
him what I had seen ; but he answered me, " That is 
my little secret." 


He was capable of the most generous actions.. 
When old, much out of health, and quite unfit for any 
exertion, he daily visited (as Hooker told me) an. 
old man-servant, who lived at a distance (and whom, 
he supported), and read aloud to him. This is enough 
to make up for any degree of scientific penuriousness 
or jealousy. 

I may here mention a few other eminent men, 
whom I have occasionally seen, but I have little to 
say about them worth saying. I felt a high reverence 
for Sir J. Herschel, and was delighted to dine with 
him at his charming house at the Cape of Good Hope, 
and afterwards at his London house. I saw him, also, 
on a few other occasions. He never talked much, but 
every word which he uttered was worth listening to. 

I once met at breakfast at Sir R. Murchison's house 
the illustrious Humboldt, who honoured me by ex- 
pressing a wish to see me. I was a little disappointed 
with the great man, but my anticipations probably 
were too high. I can remember nothing distinctly 
about our interview, except that Humboldt was very 
cheerful and talked much. 

reminds me of Buckle whom I once met at 

Hensleigh Wedgwood's. I was very glad to learn from 
him his system of collecting facts. He told me that 
he bought all the books which he read, and made 
a full index, to each, of the facts which he thought 
might prove serviceable to him, and that he could 
always remember in what book he had read any- 
thing, for his memory was wonderful. I asked him 
how at first he could judge what facts would be 


serviceable, and he answered that he did not know, 
but that a sort of instinct guided him. From this 
habit of making indices, he was enabled to give the 
astonishing number of references on all sorts of sub- 
jects, which may be found in his ' History of Civilisa- 
tion.' This book I thought most interesting, and 
read it twice, but I doubt whether his generalisations 
are worth anything. Buckle was a great talker, and 
I listened to him saying hardly a word, nor indeed 
could I have done so for he left no gaps. When 
Mrs. Farrer began to sing, I jumped up and said that 
I must listen to her ; after I had moved away he 
turned round to a friend and said (as was overheard 
by my brother), " Well, Mr. Darwin's books are much 
better than his conversation." 

Of other great literary men, I once met Sydney 
Smith at Dean Milman's house. There was some- 
thing inexplicably amusing in every word which he 
uttered. Perhaps this was partly due to the expecta- 
tion of being amused. He was talking about Lady 
Cork, who was then extremely old. This was the 
lady who, as he said, was once so much affected by 
one of his charity sermons, that she borrowed a guinea, 
from a friend to put in the plate. He now said " It is 
generally believed that my dear old friend Lady Cork 
has been overlooked," and he said this in such a. 
manner that no one could for a moment doubt that he 
meant that his dear old friend had been overlooked 
by the devil. How he managed to express this I 
know not. 

I likewise once met Macaulay at Lord Stanhope's 


(the historian's) house, and as there was only one 
other man at dinner, I had a grand opportunity of 
hearing him converse, and he was very agreeable. 
He did not talk at all too much ; nor indeed could 
such a man talk too much, as long as he allowed 
others to turn the stream of his conversation, and this 
he did allow. 

Lord Stanhope once gave me a curious little proof 
of the accuracy and fulness of Macaulay's memory : 
many historians used often to meet at Lord Stanhope's 
house, and in discussing various subjects they would 
sometimes differ from Macaulay, and formerly they 
often referred to some book to see who was right ; 
but latterly, as Lord Stanhope noticed, no historian 
ever took this trouble, and whatever Macaulay said 
was final. 

On another occasion I met at Lord Stanhope's 
house, one of his parties of historians and other 
literary men, and amongst them were Motley and 
Grote. After luncheon I walked about Chevening 
Park for nearly an hour with Grote, and was much 
interested by his conversation and pleased by the 
simplicity and absence of all pretension in his manners. 

Long ago I dined occasionally with the old Earl, 
the father of the historian ; he was a strange man, 
but what little I knew of him I liked much. He was 
frank, genial, and pleasant. He had strongly marked 
features, with a brown complexion, and his clothes, 
when I saw him, were all brown. He seemed to 
believe in everything which was to others utterly in- 
credible. He said one day to me, " Why don't you 


give up your fiddle-faddle of geology and zoology, and 
turn to the occult sciences ? " The historian, then 
Lord Mahon, seemed shocked at such a speech to 
me, and his charming wife much amused. 

The last man whom I will mention is Carlyle, seen 
by me several times at my brother's house, and two or 
three times at my own house. His talk was very 
racy and interesting, just like his writings, but he 
sometimes went on too long on the same subject. I 
remember a funny dinner at my brother's, where, 
amongst a few others, were Babbage and Lyell, both 
,of whom liked to talk. Carlyle, however, silenced 
every one by haranguing during the whole dinner on 
the advantages of silence. After dinner Babbage, in 
his grimmest manner, thanked Carlyle for his very 
interesting lecture on silence. 

Carlyle sneered at almost every one : one day in my 
house he called Crete's ' History' "a fetid quagmire, 
with nothing spiritual about it." I always thought, 
until his ' Reminiscences ' appeared, that his sneers 
were partly jokes, but this now seems rather doubtful. 
His expression was that of a depressed, almost despon- 
dent yet benevolent, man ; and it is notorious how 
heartily he laughed. I believe that his benevolence 
was real, though stained by not a little jealousy. No 
one can doubt about his extraordinary power of draw- 
ing pictures of things and men far more vivid, as 
it appears to me, than any drawn by Macaulay. 
Whether his pictures of men were true ones is another 

He has been all-powerful in impressing some grand 


moral truths on the minds of men. On the other 
hand, his views about slavery were revolting. In his 
eyes might was right. His mind seemed to me a very 
narrow one ; even if all branches of science, which he 
despised, are excluded. It is astonishing to me that 
Kingsley should have spoken of him as a man well 
fitted to advance science. He laughed to scorn the idea 
that a mathematician, such as Whewell, could judge, 
as I maintained he could, of Goethe's views on light. 
He thought it a most ridiculous thing that any one 
should care whether a glacier moved a little quicker 
or a little slower, or moved at all. As far as I could 
judge, I never met a man with a mind so ill adapted 
for scientific research. 

Whilst living in London, I attended as regularly as 
I could the meetings of several scientific societies, and 
acted as secretary to the Geological Society. But such 
attendance, and ordinary society, suited my health 
so badly that we resolved to live in the country, which 
both preferred and have never repented of. 

Residence at Down from September 14, 1842, to the 
present time, 1876. 

After several fruitless searches in Surrey and 
elsewhere, we found this house and purchased it. 
I was pleased with the diversified appearance of 
the vegetation proper to a chalk district, and so 
unlike what I had been accustomed to in the Mid- 
land counties ; and still more pleased with the ex- 
treme quietness and rusticity of the place. It is 


^not, however, quite so retired a place as a writer in a 
German periodical makes it, who says that my house 
can be approached only by a mule-track ! Our fixing 
-ourselves here has answered admirably in one way, 
which we did not anticipate, namely, by being very 
convenient for frequent visits from our children. 

Few persons can have lived a more retired life than 
we have done. Besides short visits to the houses of 
relations, and occasionally to the seaside or elsewhere, 
we have gone nowhere. During the first part of our 
'residence we went a little into society, and received a 
few friends here ; but my health almost always suffered 
from the excitement, violent shivering and vomiting 
.attacks being thus brought on. I have therefore been 
compelled for many years to give up all dinner-parties ; 
.and this has been somewhat of a deprivation to me, 
.as such parties always put me into high spirits. From 
the same cause I have been able to invite here very 
few scientific acquaintances. 

My chief enjoyment and sole employment through- 
out life has been scientific work ; and the excitement 
from such work makes me for the time forget, or drives 
quite away, my daily discomfort. I have therefore 
nothing to record during the rest of my life, except 
the publication of my several books. Perhaps a few 
details how they arose may be worth giving. 

My several Publications. In the early part of 1844, 
my observations on the volcanic islands visited during 
the voyage of the Beagle were published. In 1845, I 
took much pains in correcting a new edition of my 
* Journal of Researches/ which was originally published 


in 1 839 as part of Fitz- Roy's work. The success of this 
my first literary child always tickles my vanity more 
than that of any of my other books. Even to this day 
it sells steadily in England and the United States, and 
has been translated for the second time into German, 
and into French and other languages. This success 
of a book of travels, especially of a scientific one, so 
many years after its first publication, is surprising. 
Ten thousand copies have been sold in England of 
the second edition. In 1846 my 'Geological Obser- 
vations on South America ' were published. I record 
in a little diary, which I have always kept, that my 
three geological books (' Coral Reefs ' included) con- 
sumed four and a half years' steady work ; " and now 
it is ten years since my return to England. How 
much time have I lost by illness ? " I have nothing 
to say about these three books except that to my 
surprise new editions have lately been called for.* 

In October, 1846, I began to work on ' Cirripedia/ 
When on the coast of Chile, I found a most curious 
form, which burrowed into the shells of Concholepas, 
and which differed so much from all other Cirripedes 
that I had to form a new sub-order for its sole recep- 
tion. Lately an allied burrowing genus has been found 
on the shores of Portugal. To understand the struc- 
ture of my new Cirripede I had to examine and dissect 
many of the common forms ; and this gradually led 
me on to take up the whole group. I worked steadily 
on this subject for the next eight years, and ultimately 

* ' Geological Observations,' 2nd Edit. 1876. Coral Reefs,' 2nd Edit. 


published two thick volumes,* describing all the known 
living species, and two thin quartos on the extinct 
species. I do not doubt that Sir E. Lytton Bulwer 
had me in his mind when he introduced in one of his 
novels a Professor Long, who had written two huge 
volumes on limpets. 

Although I was employed during eight years on 
this work, yet I record in my diary that about two 
years out of this time was lost by illness. On this 
account I went in 1848 for some months to Malvern 
for hydropathic treatment, which did me much good, 
so that on my return home I was able to resume work. 
So much was I out of health that when my dear father 
died on November i3th, 1848, I was unable to attend 
his funeral or to act as one of his executors. 

My work on the Cirripedia possesses, I think, con- 
siderable value, as besides describing- several new and 


remarkable forms, I made out the homologies of the 


various parts I discovered the cementing apparatus, 
though I blundered dreadfully about the cement glands 
and lastly I proved the existence in certain genera 
of minute males complemental to and parasitic on the 
hermaphrodites. This latter discovery has at last been 
fully confirmed ; though at one time a German writer 
was pleased to attribute the whole account to my 
fertile imagination. The Cirripedes form a highly 
varying and difficult group of species to class ; and 
my work was of considerable use to me, when I had 
to discuss in the * Origin of Species ' the principles of 
a natural classification. Nevertheless, I doubt whether 

* Published by the Ray Society. 
VOL. I. G 


the work was worth the consumption of so much 

From September 1854 I devoted my whole time to- 
arranging my huge pile of notes, to observing, and to 
experimenting in relation to the transmutation of 
species. During the voyage of the Beagle I had been 
deeply impressed by discovering in the Pampean for- 
mation great fossil animals covered with armour like 
that on the existing armadillos ; secondly, by the 
manner in which closely allied animals replace one 
another in proceeding southwards over the Continent ; 
and thirdly, by the South American character of most 
of the productions of the Galapagos archipelago, and 
more especially by the manner in which they differ 
slightly on each island of the group ; none of the 
islands appearing to be very ancient in a geological 

It was evident that such facts as these, as well as 
many others, could only be explained on the supposi- 
tion that species gradually become modified ; and the 
subject haunted me. But it was equally evident that 
neither the action of the surrounding conditions, nor 
the will of the organisms (especially in the case of 
plants) could account for the innumerable cases in 
which organisms of every kind are beautifully adapted 
to their habits of life for instance, a woodpecker or a 
tree-frog to climb trees, or a seed for dispersal by 
hooks or plumes. I had always been much struck by 
such adaptations, and until these could be explained it 
seemed to me almost useless to endeavour to prove 
by indirect evidence that species have been modified. 


After my return to England it appeared to me that 
by following the example of Lyell in Geology, and by 
collecting all facts which bore in any way on the varia- 
tion of animals and plants under domestication and 
nature, some light might perhaps be thrown on the 
whole subject. My first note-book was opened in July 
1837. I worked on true Baconian principles, and 
without any theory collected facts on a wholesale 
scale, more especially with respect to domesticated 
productions, by printed enquiries, by conversation 
with skilful breeders and gardeners, and by extensive 
reading. When I see the list of books of all kinds 
which I read and abstracted, including whole series 
of Journals and Transactions, I am surprised at my 
industry. I soon perceived that selection was the 
keystone of man's success in making useful races of 
animals and plants. But how selection could be ap- 
plied to organisms living in a state of nature remained 
for some time a mystery to me. 

In October 1838, that is, fifteen months after I had 
begun my systematic enquiry, I happened to read for 
amusement ' Malthus on Population/ and being well 
prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence 
which everywhere goes on from long-continued obser- 
vation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once 
struck me that under these circumstances favourable 
variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavour- 
able ones to be destroyed. The result of this would 
be the formation of new species. Here then I had at 
last got a theory by which to work ; but I was so 
anxious to avoid prejudice, that I determined not for 

G 2 


some time to write even the briefest sketch of it. In 
June 1842 I first allowed myself the satisfaction of 
writing a very brief abstract of my theory in pencil in 
35 pages ; and this was enlarged during the summer of 
1844 into one of 230 pages, which I had fairly copied 
out and still possess. 

But at that time I overlooked one problem of great 
importance ; and it is astonishing to me, except on the 
principle of Columbus and his egg, how I could have 
overlooked it and its solution. This problem is the 
tendency in organic beings descended from the same 
stock to diverge in character as they become modified. 
That they have diverged greatly is obvious from the 
manner in which species of all kinds can be classed 
under genera, genera under families, families under 
sub-orders and so forth ; and I can remember the 
very spot in the road, whilst in my carriage, when to 
my joy the solution occurred to me ; and this was 
long after I had come to Down. The solution, as I 
believe, is that the modified offspring of all dominant 
and increasing forms tend to become adapted to 
many and highly diversified places in the economy of 

Early in 1856 Lyell advised me to write out my 
views pretty fully, and I began at once to do so on a 
scale three or four times as extensive as that which 
was afterwards followed in my ' Origin of Species ; ' 
yet it was only an abstract of the materials which I 
had collected, and I got through about half the work 
on this scale. But my plans were overthrown, for 
early in the summer of 1858 Mr. Wallace, who was 


then in the Malay archipelago, sent me an essay " On 
the Tendency of Varieties to depart indefinitely from 
the Original Type ; " and this essay contained exactly 
the same theory as mine. Mr. Wallace expressed the 
wish that if I thought well of his essay, I should send 
it to Lyell for perusal. 

The circumstances under which I consented at the 
request of Lyell and Hooker to allow of an abstract 
from my MS., together with a letter to Asa Gray, 
dated September 5, 1857, to be published at the same 
time with Wallace's Essay, are given in the ' Journal 
of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society,' 1858, p. 45. 
I was at first very unwilling to consent, as I thought 
Mr. Wallace might consider my doing so unjustifiable, 
for I did not then know how generous and noble was 
his disposition. The extract from my MS. and the 
letter to Asa Gray had neither been intended for 
publication, and were badly written. Mr. Wallace's 
essay, on the other hand, was admirably expressed 
and quite clear. Nevertheless, our joint productions 
excited very little attention, and the only published 
notice of them which I can remember was by Professor 
Haughton of Dublin, whose verdict was that all that 
was new in them was false, and what was true was 
old. This shows how necessary it is that any new 
view should be explained at considerable length in 
order to arouse public attention. 

In September 1858 I set to work by the strong 
advice of Lyell and Hooker to prepare a volume on 
the transmutation of species, but was often interrupted 
by ill-health, and short visits to Dr. Lane's delightful 


hydropathic establishment at Moor Park. I ab- 
stracted the MS. begun on a much larger scale in 
1856, and completed the volume on the same re- 
duced scale. It cost me thirteen months and ten 
days' hard labour. It was published under the title of 
the * Origin of Species,' in November 1859. Though 
considerably added to and corrected in the later 
editions, it has remained substantially the same 

It is no doubt the chief work of my life. It was 
from the first highly successful. The first small 
edition of 1250 copies was sold on the day of publica- 
tion, and a second edition of 3000 copies soon after- 
wards. Sixteen thousand copies have now (1876) 
been sold in England ; and considering how stiff a 
book it is, this is a large sale. It has been translated 
into almost every European tongue, even into such 
languages as Spanish, Bohemian, Polish, and Russian. 
It has also, according to Miss Bird, been translated 
into Japanese,* and is there much studied. Even an 
essay in Hebrew has appeared on it, showing that the 
theory is contained in the Old Testament ! The 
reviews were very numerous ; for some time I col- 
lected all that appeared on the ' Origin ' and on my 
related books, and these amount (excluding news- 
paper reviews) to 265 ; but after a time I gave up the 
attempt in despair. Many separate essays and books 
on the subject have appeared ; and in Germany a 
catalogue or bibliography on " Darwinismus " has 
appeared every year or two. 

* Miss Bird is mistaken, as I learn from Prof. Mitsukuri. F.D. 


The success of the ' Origin ' may, I think, be 
attributed in large part to my having long before 
written two condensed sketches, and to my having 
finally abstracted a much larger manuscript, which was 
itself an abstract. By this means I was enabled to 
select the more striking facts and conclusions. I had, 
also, during many years followed a golden rule, 
'namely, that whenever a published fact, a new obser- 
vation or thought came across me, which was opposed 
ito my general results, to make a memorandum of it 
without fail and at once ; for I had found by ex- 
perience that such facts and thoughts were far more 
apt to escape from the memory than favourable ones. 
Owing to this habit, very few objections were raised 
against my views which I had not at least noticed and 
attempted to answer. 

It has sometimes been said that the success of the 
' Origin ' proved " that the subject was in the air," or 
" that men's minds were prepared for it." I do not 
think that this is strictly true, for I occasionally 
sounded not a few naturalists, and never happened to 
come across a single one who seemed to doubt about 
the permanence of species. Even Lyell and Hooker, 
though they would listen with interest to me, never 
seemed to agree. I tried once or twice to explain to 
able men what I meant by Natural Selection, but 
signally failed. What I believe was strictly true is 
that innumerable well-observed facts were stored in the 
minds of naturalists ready to take their proper places 
as soon as any theory which would receive them was 
sufficiently explained. Another element in the success 


of the book was its moderate size ; and this I owe to 
the appearance of Mr. Wallace's essay ; had I pub- 
lished on the scale in which I began to write in 1856, 
the book would have been four or five times as large 
as the ' Origin,' and very few would have had the 
patience to read it. 

I gained much by my delay in publishing from 
about 1839, when the theory was clearly conceived, to 
1859 ; and I lost nothing by it, for I cared very little 
whether men attributed most originality to me or 
Wallace ; and his essay no doubt aided in the reception 
of the theory. I was forestalled in only one important 
point, which my vanity has always made me regret, 
namely, the explanation by means of the Glacial 
period of the presence of the same species of plants 
and of some few animals on distant mountain summits 
and in the arctic regions. This view pleased me so 
much that I wrote it out in extenso, and I believe that 
it was read by Hooker some years before E. Forbes 
published his celebrated memoir* on the subject. In 
the very few points in which we differed, I still think 
that I was in the right. I have never, of course, 
alluded in print to my having independently worked 
out this view. 

Hardly any point gave me so much satisfaction 
when I was at work on the ' Origin,' as the explana- 
tion of the wide difference in many classes between 
the embryo and the adult animal, and of the close 
resemblance of the embryos within the same class. 
No notice of this point was taken, as far as I re- 
* ' Geolog. Survey Mem.,' 1846. 


member, in the early reviews of the ' Origin,' and I 
recollect expressing my surprise on this head in a 
letter to Asa Gray. Within late years several re- 
viewers have given the whole credit to Fritz Mliller 
and Hackel, who undoubtedly have worked it out 
much more fully, and in some respects more cor- 
rectly than I did. I had materials for a whole chapter 
on the subject, and I ought to have made the discus- 
sion longer ; for it is clear that I failed to impress my 
readers ; and he who succeeds in doing so deserves, 
in my opinion, all the credit. 

This leads me to remark that I have almost always 
been treated honestly by my reviewers, passing over 
those without scientific knowledge as not worthy of 
notice. My views have often been grossly misrepre- 
sented, bitterly opposed and ridiculed, but this has 
been generally done as, I believe, in good faith. On 
the whole I do not doubt that my works have been 
over and over again greatly overpraised. I rejoice 
that I have avoided controversies, and this I owe 
to Lyell, who many years ago, in reference to my 
geological works, strongly advised me never to get 
entangled in a controversy, as it rarely did any good 
and caused a miserable loss of time and temper. 

Whenever I have found out that I have blundered, 
or that my work has been imperfect, and when I have 
been contemptuously criticised, and even when I have 
been overpraised, so that I have felt mortified, it has 
been my greatest comfort to say hundreds of times to 
myself that " I have worked as hard and as well as 
I could, and no man can do more than this." I 


remember when in Good Success Bay, in Tierra del 
Fuego, thinking (and, I believe, that I wrote home to 
the effect) that I could not employ my life better than 
'in adding a little to Natural Science. This I have done 
to the best of my abilities, and critics may say what 
they like, but they cannot destroy this conviction. 

During the two last months of 1859 I was fully 
occupied in preparing a second edition of the ' Origin,' 
and by an enormous correspondence. On January ist, 
1860, I began arranging my notes for my work on the 
* Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestica- 
tion ; ' but it was not published until the beginning of 
1 868 ; the delay having been caused partly by frequent 
rillnesses, one of which lasted seven months, and partly 
by being tempted to publish on other subjects which 
at the time interested me more. 

On May I5th, 1862, my little book on the ' Fertili- 
sation of Orchids,' which cost me ten months' work, 
was published : most of the facts had been slowly 
.accumulated during several previous years. During 
the summer of 1839, and, I believe, during the pre- 
vious summer, I was led to attend to the cross-fertili- 
sation of flowers by the aid of insects, from having 
come to the conclusion in my speculations on the 
origin of species, that crossing played an important 
part in keeping specific forms constant. I attended 
to the subject more or less during every subsequent 
summer ; and my interest in it was greatly enhanced 
by having procured and read in November 1841, 
through the advice of Robert Brown, a copy of C. K. 
-Sprengel's wonderful book, ' Das entdeckte Geheimniss 


der Natur.' For some years before 1862 I had 
specially attended to the fertilisation of our British 
orchids ; and it seemed to me the best plan to prepare 
as complete a treatise on this group of plants as well 
as I could, rather than to utilise the great mass of 
matter which I had slowly collected with respect to 
other plants. 

My resolve proved a wise one ; for since the ap- 
pearance of my book, a surprising number of papers 
and separate works on the fertilisation of all kinds of 
flowers have appeared ; and these are far better done 
than I could possibly have effected. The merits of 
poor old Sprengel, so long overlooked, are now fully 
recognised many years after his death. 

During the same year I published in the ' Journal of 
the Linnean Society' a paper " On the Two Forms, or 
Dimorphic Condition of Primula," and during the next 
five years, five other papers on dimorphic and tri- 
morphic plants. I do not think anything in my 
scientific life has given me so much satisfaction as 
making out the meaning of the structure of these 
plants. I had noticed in 1838 or 1839 the dimor- 
phism of Linum flavum, and had at first thought that 
it was merely a case of unmeaning variability. But 
on examining the common species of Primula I found 
that the two forms were much too regular and constant 
to be thus viewed. I therefore became almost con- 
vinced that the common cowslip and primrose were 
on the high-road to become dioecious ; that the short 
pistil in the one form, and the short stamens in the 
other form were tending towards abortion. The plants 


were therefore subjected under this point of view to 
trial ; but as soon as the flowers with short pistils 
fertilised with pollen from the short stamens, were 
found to yield more seeds than any other of the four 
possible unions, the abortion-theory was knocked on 
the head. After some additional experiment, it be- 
came evident that the two forms, though both were 
perfect hermaphrodites, bore almost the same relation 
to one another as do the two sexes of an ordinary 
animal. With Lythrum we have the still more won- 
derful case of three forms standing in a similar relation 
to one another. I afterwards found that the offspring 
from the union of two plants belonging to the same 
forms presented a close and curious analogy with 
hybrids from the union of two distinct species. 

In the autumn of 1864 I finished a long paper on 
4 Climbing Plants,' and sent it to the Linnean Society. 
The writing of this paper cost me four months ; but I 
was so unwell when I received the proof-sheets that 
I was forced to leave them very badly and often ob- 
scurely expressed. The paper was little noticed, but 
when in 1875 it was corrected and published as a 
separate book it sold well. I was led to take up this 
subject by reading a short paper by Asa Gray, pub- 
lished in 1858. He sent me seeds, and on raising 
some plants I was so much fascinated and perplexed 
by the revolving movements of the tendrils and stems, 
which movements are really very simple, though ap- 
pearing at first sight very complex, that I procured 
various other kinds of climbing plants, and studied the 
whole subject. I was all the more attracted to it, 


from not being at all satisfied with the explanation 
which Henslow gave us in his lectures, about twining 
plants, namely, that they had a natural tendency to 
grow up in a spire. This explanation proved quite 
erroneous. Some of the adaptations displayed by 
Climbing Plants are as beautiful as those of Orchids 
for ensuring cross-fertilisation. 

My ' Variation of Animals and Plants under Do- 
mestication ' was begun, as already stated, in the be- 
ginning of 1860, but was not published until the 
beginning of 1868. It was a big book, and cost me 
four years and two months' hard labour. It gives all 
my observations and an immense number of facts 
collected from various sources, about our domestic 
productions. In the second volume the causes and 
laws of variation, inheritance, &c., are discussed as far 
as our present state of knowledge permits. Towards 
the end of the work I give my well-abused hypothesis 
of Pangenesis. An unverified hypothesis is of little 
or no value ; but if any one should hereafter be led to 
make observations by which some such hypothesis 
could be established, I shall have done good service, 
as an astonishing number of isolated facts can be thus 
connected together and rendered intelligible. In 1875 
a second and largely corrected edition, which cost me 
a good deal of labour, was brought out. 

My ' Descent of Man ' was published in February 
1871. As soon as I had become, in the year 1837 or 
1838, convinced that species were mutable productions, 
I could not avoid the belief that man must come under 
the same law. Accordingly I collected notes on the 


subject for my own satisfaction, and not for a long 
time with any intention of publishing. Although in 
the ' Origin of Species ' the derivation of any particular 
species is never discussed, yet I thought it best, in 
order that no honourable man should accuse me of 
concealing my views, to add that by the work " light 
would be thrown on the origin of man and his history." 
It would have been useless and injurious to the success 
of the book to have paraded, without giving any 
evidence, my conviction with respect to his origin. 

But when I found that many naturalists fully ac- 
cepted the doctrine of the evolution of species, it 
seemed to me advisable to work up such notes as I 
possessed, and to publish a special treatise on the 
origin of man. I was the more glad to do so, as it 
gave me an opportunity of fully discussing sexual 
selection a subject which had always greatly inte- 
rested me. This subject, and that of the variation of 
our domestic productions, together with the causes 
and laws of variation, inheritance, and the intercrossing 
of plants, are the sole subjects which I have been able 
to write about in full, so as to use all the materials 
which I have collected. The ' Descent of Man ' took 
me three years to write, but then as usual some of 
this time was lost by ill-health, and some was consumed 
by preparing new editions and other minor works. 
A second and largely corrected edition of the 'Descent' 
appeared in 1874. 

My book on the ' Expression of the Emotions in 
Men and Animals ' was published in the autumn of 
1872. I had intended to give only a chapter on the 


subject in the ' Descent of Man,' but as soon as L 
began to put my notes together, I saw that it would 
require a separate treatise. 

My first child was born on December 27th, 1839, and 
I at once commenced to make notes on the first dawn 
of the various expressions which he exhibited, for I 
felt convinced, even at this early period, that the most 
complex and fine shades of expression must all have 
had a gradual and natural origin. During the summer 
of the following year, 1840, I read Sir C. Bell's admi- 
rable work on expression, and this greatly increased' 
the interest which I felt in the subject, though I could 
not at all agree with his belief that various muscles 
had been specially created for the sake of expression. 
From this time forward I occasionally attended to the: 
subject, both with respect to man and our domesticated: 
animals. My book sold largely; 5267 copies having; 
been disposed of on the day of publication. 

In the summer of 1860 I was idling and resting 
near Hartfield, where two species of Drosera abound ; 
and I noticed that numerous insects had been en- 
trapped by the leaves. I carried home some plants,, 
and on giving them insects saw the movements of the 
tentacles, and this made me think it probable that the 
insects were caught for some special purpose. Fortu- 
nately a crucial test occurred to me, that of placing a 
large number of leaves in various nitrogenous and 
non-nitrogenous fluids of equal density ; and as soon 
as I found that the former alone excited energetic 
movements, it was obvious that here was a fine new 
field for investigation. 


During subsequent years, whenever I had leisure, I 
pursued my experiments, and my book on ' Insectivo- 
rous Plants' was published in July 1875 tnat * s 
sixteen years after my first observations. The delay 
in this case, as with all my other books, has been a 
great advantage to me ; for a man after a long interval 
can criticise his own work, almost as well as if it were 
that of another person. The fact that a plant should 
secrete, when properly excited, a fluid containing an 
acid and ferment, closely analogous to the digestive 
fluid of an animal, was certainly a remarkable discovery. 

During this autumn of 1876 I shall publish on the 
' Effects of Cross and Self-Fertilisation in the Vege- 
table Kingdom.' This book will form a complement 
to that on the ' Fertilisation of Orchids,' in which I 
showed how perfect were the means for cross-fertili- 
sation, and here I shall show how important are the 
results. I was led to make, during eleven years, the 
numerous experiments recorded in this volume, by a 
mere accidental observation ; and indeed it required 
the accident to be repeated before my attention was 
thoroughly aroused to the remarkable fact that seed- 
lings of self-fertilised parentage are inferior, even in 
the first generation, in height and vigour to seedlings 
of cross-fertilised parentage. I hope also to republish 
a revised edition of my book on Orchids, and hereafter 
my papers on dimorphic and trimorphic plants, together 
with some additional observations on allied points 
which I never have had time to arrange. My strength 
will then probably be exhausted, and I shall be ready 
to exclaim " Nunc dimittis." 


Written May \st, 1881. 'The Effects of Cross and 
Self- Fertilisation ' was published in the autumn of 1876 ; 
and the results there arrived at explain, as I believe, 
the endless and wonderful contrivances for the trans- 
portal of pollen from one plant to another of the same 
species. I now believe, however, chiefly from the 
observations of Hermann M tiller, that I ought to have 
insisted more strongly than I did on the many adapta- 
tions for self-fertilisation ; though I was well aware of 
many such adaptations. A much enlarged edition of 
my ' Fertilisation of Orchids' was published in 1877. 

In this same year ' The Different Forms of Flowers, 
&c.,' appeared, and in 1880 a second edition. This 
book consists chiefly of the several papers on Hetero- 
styled flowers originally published by the Linnean 
Society, corrected, with much new matter added, 
together with observations on some other cases in 
which the same plant bears two kinds of flowers. As 
before remarked, no little discovery of mine ever gave 
me so much pleasure as the making out the meaning 
of heterostyled flowers. The results of crossing such 
flowers in an illegitimate manner, I believe to be 
very important, as bearing on the sterility of hybrids ; 
although these results have been noticed by only a 
few persons. 

In 1879, I had a translation of Dr. Ernst Krause's 
' Life of Erasmus Darwin ' published, and I added a 
sketch of his character and habits from material in 
my possession. Many persons have been much inte- 
rested by this little life, and I am surprised that only 
800 or 900 copies were sold. 

VOL. I. H 


In 1880 I published, with [my son] Frank's assistance, 
our ' Power of Movement in Plants.' This was a 
tough piece of work. The book bears somewhat the 
same relation to my little book on ' Climbing Plants,' 
which ' Cross-Fertilisation ' did to the ' Fertilisation of 
Orchids ; ' for in accordance with the principle of evo- 
lution it was impossible to account for climbing plants 
having been developed in so many widely different 
groups unless all kinds of plants possess some slight 
power of movement of an analogous kind. This 
I proved to be the case ; and I was further led to a 
rather wide generalisation, viz. that the great and 
important classes of movements, excited by light, the 
attraction of gravity, &c., are all modified forms of 
the fundamental movement of circumnutation. It has 
always pleased me to exalt plants in the scale of 
organised beings ; and I therefore felt an especial 
pleasure in showing how many and what admirably 
well adapted movements the tip of a root possesses. 

I have now (May i, 1881) sent to the printers the 
MS. of a little book on ' The Formation of Vegetable 
Mould, through the Action of Worms.' This is a 
subject of but small importance ; and I know not 
whether it will interest any readers,* but it has inte- 
rested me. It is the completion of a short paper read 
before the Geological Society more than forty years 
ago, and has revived old geological thoughts. 

I have now mentioned all the books which I have 
published, and these have been the milestones in my 

Between November 1881 and February 1884, 8500 copies have been 


life, so that little remains to be said. I am not con- 
scious of any change in my mind during the last thirty 
years, excepting in one point presently to be men- 
tioned ; nor, indeed, could any change have been 
expected unless one of general deterioration. But my 
father lived to his eighty-third year with his mind as 
lively as ever it was, and all his faculties undimmed ; 
and I hope that I may die before my mind fails to 
a sensible extent. I think that I have become a 
little more skilful in guessing right explanations and 
in devising experimental tests ; but this may probably 
be the result of mere practice, and of a larger store 
of knowledge. I have as much difficulty as ever in 
expressing myself clearly and concisely ; and this 
difficulty has caused me a very great loss of time ; 
but it has had the compensating advantage of forcing 
me to think long and intently about every sentence, 
and thus I have been led to see errors in reasoning 
and in my own observations or those of others. 

There seems to be a sort of fatality in my mind 
leading me to put at first my statement or proposition 
in a wrong or awkward form. Formerly I used to 
think about my sentences before writing them down ; 
but for several years I have found that it saves time 
to scribble in a vile hand whole pages as quickly as 
I possibly can, contracting half the words ; and then 
correct deliberately. Sentences thus scribbled down 
are often better ones than I could have written 

Having said thus much about my manner of writing, 
I will add that with my large books I spend a good 

H 2 


deal of time over the general arrangement of the 
matter. I first make the rudest outline in two or 
three pages, and then a larger one in several pages, 
a few words or one word standing for a whole discus- 
sion or series of facts. Each one of these headings is 
again enlarged and often transferred before I begin to- 
write in extenso. As in several of my books facts 
observed by others have been very extensively used, 
and as I have always had several quite distinct sub- 
jects in hand at the same time, I may mention that 
I keep from thirty to forty large portfolios, in cabinets 
with labelled shelves, into which I can at once put a 
detached reference or memorandum. I have bought 
many books, and at their ends I make an index of all 
the facts that concern my work ; or, if the book is not 
my own, write out a separate abstract, and of such 
abstracts I have a large drawer full. Before begin- 
ning on any subject I look to all the short indexes 
and make a general and classified index, and by taking 
the one or more proper portfolios I have all the infor- 
mation collected during my life ready for use. 

I have said that in one respect my mind has changed 
during the last twenty or thirty years. Up to the age 
of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds, such as 
the works of Milton, Gray, Byron, Wordsworth, Cole- 
ridge, and Shelley, gave me great pleasure, and even 
as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare, 
especially in the historical plays. I have also said 
that formerly pictures gave me considerable, and 
music very great delight. But now for many years 
I cannot endure to read a line of poetry : I have tried 


lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably 
-dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost my 
taste for pictures or music. Music generally sets me 
thinking too energetically on what I have been at 
work on, instead of giving me pleasure. I retain 
some taste for fine scenery, but it does not cause me 
the exquisite delight which it formerly did. On the 
other hand, novels which are works of the imagination, 
though not of a very high order, have been for years 
a wonderful relief and pleasure to me, and I often 
bless all novelists. A surprising number have been 
read aloud to me, and I like all if moderately good, 
and if they do not end unhappily against which a 
law ought to be passed. A novel, according to my 
taste, does not come into the first class unless it con- 
tains some person whom one can thoroughly love, 
and if a pretty woman all the better. 

This curious and lamentable loss of the higher 
aesthetic tastes is all the odder, as books on history, 
biographies, and travels (independently of any scien- 
tific facts which they may contain), and essays on all 
sorts of subjects interest me as much as ever they did. 
My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for 
grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, 
but why this should have caused the atrophy of that 
part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes 
depend, I cannot conceive. A man with a mind 
more highly organised or better constituted than 
mine, would not, I suppose, have thus suffered ; and 
if I had to live my life again, I would have made a 
orule to read some poetry and listen to some music at 


least once every week ; for perhaps the parts of my 
brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active 
through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of 
happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the in- 
tellect, and more probably to the moral character, by 
enfeebling the emotional part of our nature. 

My books have sold largely in England, have been 
translated into many languages, and passed through 
several editions in foreign countries. I have heard it 
said that the success of a work abroad is the best test 
of its enduring value. I doubt whether this is at all 
trustworthy ; but judged by this standard my name 
ought to last for a few years. Therefore it may be 
worth while to try to analyse the mental qualities and 
the conditions on which my success has depended ; 
though I am aware that no man can do this correctly. 

I have no great quickness of apprehension or wit 
which is so remarkable in some clever men, for in- 
stance, Huxley. I am therefore a poor critic : a 
paper or book, when first read, generally excites my 
admiration, and it is only after considerable reflection 
that I perceive the weak points. My power to follow 
a long and purely abstract train of thought is very 
limited ; and therefore I could never have succeeded 
with metaphysics or mathematics. My memory is 
extensive, yet hazy : it suffices to make me cautious 
by vaguely telling me that I have observed or read 
something opposed to the conclusion which I am 
drawing, or on the other hand in favour of it ; and 
after a time I can generally recollect where to search 
for my authority. So poor in one sense is my memory, 


that I have never been able to remember for more 
than a few days a single date or a line of poetry. 

Some of my critics have said, " Oh, he is a good 
observer, but he has no power of reasoning ! " I dp 
not think that this can be true, for the ' Origin of 
Species ' is one long argument from the beginning to 
the end, and it has convinced not a few able men. 
No one could have written it without having some 
power of reasoning. I have a fair share of invention, 
and of common sense or judgment, such as every 
fairly successful lawyer or doctor must have, but not, 
I believe, in any higher degree. 

On the favourable side of the balance, I think that 
I am superior to the common run of men in noticing 
things which easily escape attention, and in observing 
them carefully. My industry has been nearly as great 
as it could have been in the observation and collection 
of facts. What is far more important, my love of 
natural science has been steady and ardent. 

This pure love has, however, been much aided by 
the ambition to be esteemed by my fellow naturalists. 
From my early youth I have had the strongest desire 
to understand or explain whatever I observed, that 
is, to group all facts under some general laws. These 
causes combined have given me the patience to reflect 
or ponder for any number of years over any unex- 
plained problem. As far as I can judge, I am not 
apt to follow blindly the lead of other men. I have 
steadily endeavoured to keep my mind free so as to 
give up any hypothesis, however much beloved (and I 
cannot resist forming one on every subject), as soon 


as facts are shown to be opposed to it. Indeed, I 
have had no choice but to act in this manner, for with 
the exception of the Coral Reefs, I cannot remember a 
single first-formed hypothesis which had not after a 
time to be given up or greatly modified. This has 
naturally led me to distrust greatly deductive reason- 
ing in the mixed sciences. On the other hand, I am 
not very sceptical, a frame of mind which I believe 
to be injurious to the progress of science. A good 
deal of scepticism in a scientific man is advisable to 
avoid much loss of time, [but] I have met with not a 
few men, who, I feel sure, have often thus been de- 
terred from experiment or observations, which would 
have proved directly or indirectly serviceable. 

In illustration, I will give the oddest case which I 
have known. A gentleman (who, as I afterwards 
heard, is a good local botanist) wrote to me from the 
Eastern counties that the seeds or beans of the com- 
mon field-bean had this year everywhere grown on the 
wrong side of the pod. I wrote back, asking for 
further information, as I did not understand what was 
meant ; but I did not receive any answer for a very 
long time. I then saw in two newspapers, one pub- 
lished in Kent and the other in Yorkshire, paragraphs 
stating that it was a most remarkable fact that " the 
beans this year had all grown on the wrong side." So 
I thought there must be some foundation for so general 
a statement. Accordingly, I went to my gardener, an 
old Kentish man, and asked him whether he had 
heard anything about it, and he answered, " Oh, no, 
sir, it must be a mistake, for the beans grow on the 


wrong side only on leap-year, and this is not leap- 
year." I then asked him how they grew in common 
years and how on leap-years, but soon found that he 
knew absolutely nothing of how they grew at any 
time, but he stuck to his belief. 

After a time I heard from my first informant, who, 
with many apologies, said that he should not have 
written to me had he not heard the statement from 
several intelligent farmers ; but that he had since 
spoken again to every one of them, and not one knew 
in the least what he had himself meant. So that here 
a belief if indeed a statement with no definite idea 
attached to it can be called a belief had spread over 
almost the whole of England without any vestige of 

I have known in the course of my life only three 
intentionally falsified statements, and one of these 
miay have been a hoax (and there have been several 
scientific hoaxes) which, however, took in an American 
Agricultural Journal. It related to the formation in 
Holland of a new breed of oxen by the crossing 
of distinct species of Bos (some of which I happen 
to know are sterile together), and the author had 
the impudence to state that he had corresponded 
with me, and that I had been deeply impressed with 
the importance of his result. The article was sent to 
me by the editor of an English Agricultural Journal, 
asking for my opinion before republishing it. 

A second case was an account of several varieties, 
raised by the author from several species of Primula, 
which had spontaneously yielded a full complement of 


seed, although the parent plants had been carefully 
protected from the access of insects. This account 
was published before I had discovered the meaning of 
heterostylism, and the whole statement must have 
been fraudulent, or there was neglect in excluding 
insects so gross as to be scarcely credible. 

The third case was more curious : Mr. Huth pub- 
lished in his book on 'Consanguineous Marriage' some 
long extracts from a Belgian author, who stated that 
he had interbred rabbits in the closest manner for very 
many generations, without the least injurious effects. 
The account was published in a most respectable 
Journal, that of the Royal Society of Belgium ; but I 
could not avoid feeling doubts I hardly know why, 
except that there were no accidents of any kind, and 
my experience in breeding animals made me think this 
very improbable. 

So with much hesitation I wrote to Professor Van 
Beneden, asking him whether the author was a trust- 
worthy man. I soon heard in answer that the Society 
had been greatly shocked by discovering that the 
whole account was a fraud.* The writer had been 
publicly challenged in the Journal to say where he had 
resided and kept his large stock of rabbits while carry- 
ing on his experiments, which must have consumed 
several years, and no answer could be extracted from 

My habits are methodical, and this has been of not 

* The falseness of the published self in a slip inserted in all the 
statements on which Mr. Huth re- copies of his book which then re- 
lied has been pointed out by him- mained unsold. 


a little use for my particular line of work. Lastly, I 
have had ample leisure from not having to earn my 
own bread. Even ill-health, though it has annihilated 
several years of my life, has saved me from the dis- 
tractions of society and amusement. 

Therefore my success as a man of science, whatever 
this may have amounted to, has been determined, as 
far as I can judge, by complex and diversified mental 
qualities and conditions. Of these, the most important 
have been the love of science unbounded patience 
in long reflecting over any subject industry in observ- 
ing and collecting facts and a fair share of invention 
as well as of common sense. With such moderate 
abilities as I possess, it is truly surprising that I should 
have influenced to a considerable extent the belief of 
scientific men on some important points. 




IT is my wish in the present chapter to give some idea of my 
father's everyday life. It has seemed to me that I might 
carry out this object in the form of a rough sketch of a day's 
life at Down, interspersed with such recollections as are called 
up by the record. Many of these recollections, which have 
a meaning for those who knew my father, will seem colourless 
or trifling to strangers. Nevertheless, I give them in the 
hope that they may help to preserve that impression of his 
personality which remains on the minds of those who knew 

9Vom the 'Century Magazine,' January 1883. 


and loved him an impression at once so vivid and so- 
untranslatable into words. 

Of his personal appearance (in these days of multiplied 1 
photographs) it is hardly necessary to say much. He was- 
about six feet in height, but scarcely looked so tall, as he 
stooped a good deal ; in later days he yielded to the stoop ; 
but I can remember seeing him long ago swinging his arms 
back to open out his chest, and holding himself upright with a 
jerk. He gave one the idea that he had been active rather 
than strong ; his shoulders were not broad for his height, 
though certainly not narrow. As a young man he must have 
had much endurance, for on one of the shore excursions from 
the Beagle, when all were suffering from want of water, he was 
one of the two who were better able than the rest to struggle 
on in search of it. As a boy he was active, and could jump 
a bar placed at the height of the " Adam's apple " in his neck. 

He walked with a swinging action, using a stick heavily 
shod with iron, which he struck loudly against the ground, 
producing as he went round the " Sand-walk " at Down, a 
rhythmical click which is with all of us a very distinct re- 
membrance. As he returned from the midday walk, often 
carrying the waterproof or cloak which had proved too hot, 
one could see that the swinging step was kept up by some- 
thing of an effort. Indoors his step was often slow and 
laboured, and as he went upstairs in the afternoon he might 
be heard mounting the stairs with a heavy footfall, as if each 
step were an effort. When interested in his work he moved 
about quickly and easily enough, and often in the middle of 
dictating he went eagerly into the hall to get a pinch of snuff, 
leaving the study door open, and calling out the last words of 
his sentence as he went. Indoors he sometimes used an oak 
stick like a little alpenstock, and this was a sign that he felt 

In spite of his strength and activity, I think he must always 
have had a clumsiness of movement. He was naturally awk- 


ward with his hands, and was unable to draw at all well.* 
This he always regretted much, and he frequently urged the 
paramount necessity of a young naturalist making himself a 
good draughtsman. 

He could dissect well under the simple microscope, but 
I think it was by dint of his great patience and carefulness. 
It was characteristic of him that he thought many little bits 
of skilful dissection something almost superhuman. He 
used to speak with admiration of the skill with which he 
saw Newport dissect a humble bee, getting out the nervous 
system with a few cuts of a fine pair of scissors, held, as my 
father used to show, with the elbow raised, and in an attitude 
which certainly would render great steadiness necessary. He 
used to consider cutting sections a great feat, and in the 
last year of his life, with wonderful energy, took the pains 
to learn to cut sections of roots and leaves. His hand was 
not steady enough to hold the object to be cut, and he em- 
ployed a common microtome, in which the pith for holding 
the object was clamped, and the razor slid on a glass surface 
in making the sections. He used to laugh at himself, and 
at his own skill in section-cutting, at which he would say he 
was "speechless with admiration." On the other hand, he 
must have had accuracy of eye and power of co-ordinating 
his movements, since he was a good shot with a gun as a 
young man, and as a boy was skilful in throwing. He once 
killed a hare sitting in the flower-garden at Shrewsbury by 
throwing a marble at it, and, as a man, he once killed a 
cross-beak with a stone. He was so unhappy at having 
uselessly killed the cross-beak that he did not mention it for 
years, and then explained that he should never have thrown 
at it if he had not felt sure that his old skill had gone from 

When walking he had a fidgeting movement with his 

* The figure representing the aggregated cell-contents in ' Insectivorous 
Plants ' was drawn by him. 


fingers, which he has described in one of his books as the 
habit of an old man. When he sat still he often took hold of 
one wrist with the other hand ; he sat with his legs crossed, 
and from being so thin they could be crossed very far, as 
may be seen in one of the photographs. He had his chair 
in the study and in the drawing-room raised so as to be 
much higher than ordinary chairs ; this was done because 
sitting on a low or even an ordinary chair caused him some 
discomfort. We used to laugh at him for making his tall 
drawing-room chair still higher by putting footstools on it, 
and then neutralising the result by resting his feet on another 

His beard was full and almost untrimmed, the hair being 
grey and white, fine rather than coarse, and wavy or frizzled. 
His moustache was somewhat disfigured by being cut short 
and square across. He became very bald, having only a fringe 
of dark hair behind. 

His face was ruddy in colour, and this perhaps made people 
think him less of an invalid than he was. He wrote to Dr. 
Hooker (June 13, 1849), "Every one tells me that I look quite 
blooming and beautiful ; and most think I am shamming, but 
you have never been one of those." And it must be remem- 
bered that at this time he was miserably ill, far worse than in 
later years. His eyes were bluish grey under deep over- 
hanging brows, with thick bushy projecting eyebrows. His 
high forehead was much wrinkled, but otherwise his face was 
not much marked or lined. His expression showed no signs 
of the continual discomfort he suffered. 

When he was excited with pleasant talk his whole manner 
was wonderfully bright and animated, and his face shared to 
the full in the general animation. His laugh was a free and 
sounding peal, like that of a man who gives himself sympa- 
thetically and with enjoyment to the person and the thing 
which have amused him. He often used some sort of gesture 
with his laugh, lifting up his hands or bringing one down with 


a slap. I think, generally speaking, he was given to gesture, 
and often used his hands in explaining anything (e.g. the 
fertilisation of a flower) in a way that seemed rather an aid 
to himself than to the listener. He did this on occasions 
when most people would illustrate their explanations by 
means of a rough pencil sketch. 

He wore dark clothes, of a loose and easy fit. Of late years 
he gave up the tall hat even in London, and wore a soft black 
one in winter, and a big straw hat in summer. His usual out- 
of-doors dress was the short cloak in which Elliot and Fry's 
photograph represents him leaning against the pillar of the 
verandah. Two peculiarities of his indoor dress were that 
he almost always wore a shawl over his shoulders, and that 
he had great loose cloth boots lined with fur which he could 
slip on over his indoor shoes. Like most delicate people he 
suffered from heat as well as from chilliness ; it was as if he 
could not hit the balance between too hot and too cold ; 
often a mental cause would make him too hot, so that he 
would take off his coat if anything went wrong in the course 
of his work. 

He rose early, chiefly because he could not lie in bed, 
and I think he would have liked to get up earlier than he 
did. He took a short turn before breakfast, a habit which 
began when he went for the first time to a water-cure esta- 
blishment. This habit he kept up till almost the end of his 
life. I used, as a little boy, to like going out with him, and 
I have a vague sense of the red of the winter sunrise, and a 
recollection of the pleasant companionship, and a certain 
honour and glory in it. He used to delight me as a boy by 
telling me how, in still earlier walks, on dark winter mornings, 
he had once or twice met foxes trotting home at the dawning. 

After breakfasting alone about 7.45, he went to work at 
once, considering the i hour between 8 and 9.30 one of his 
best working times. At 9.30 he came into the drawing-room 
for his letters rejoicing if the post was a light one and being 


sometimes much worried if it was not. He would then 
hear any family letters read aloud as he lay on the sofa. 

The reading aloud, which also included part of a novel, 
lasted till about half-past ten, when he went back to work 
till twelve or a quarter past. By this time he considered his 
day's work over, and would often say, in a satisfied voice, 
" I've done a good day's work." He then went out of doors 
whether it was wet or fine ; Polly, his white terrier, went with 
him in fair weather, but in rain she refused or might be seen 
hesitating in the verandah, with a mixed expression of disgust 
and shame at her own want of courage ; generally, however, 
her conscience carried the day, and as soon as he was 
evidently gone she could not bear to stay behind. 

My father was always fond of dogs, and as a young 
man had the power of stealing away the affections of his 
sisters' pets ; at Cambridge, he won the love of his cousin 
W. D. Fox's dog, and this may perhaps have been the little 
beast which used to creep down inside his bed and sleep 
at the foot every night. My father had a surly dog, who 
was devoted to him, but unfriendly to every one else, and 
when he came back from the Beagle voyage, the dog remem- 
bered him, but in a curious way, which my father was fond 
of telling. He went into the yard and shouted in his old 
manner ; the dog rushed out and set off with him on his 
walk, showing no more emotion or excitement than if the 
same thing had happened the day before, instead of five 
years ago. This story is made use of in the 'Descent of 
Man,' 2nd Edit. p. 74. 

In my memory there were only two dogs which had much 
connection with my father. One was a large black and white 
half-bred retriever, called Bob, to which we, as children, were 
much devoted. He was the dog of whom the story of the 
" hot-house face " is told in the ' Expression of the Emotions.' 

But the dog most closely associated with my father was the 
above-mentioned Polly, a rough, white fox-terrier. She was 

VOL. i. I 


a sharp-witted, affectionate dog ; when her master was going 
away on a journey, she always discovered the fact by the 
signs of packing going on in the study, and became low- 
spirited accordingly. She began, too, to be excited by seeing 
the study prepared for his return home. She was a cunning 
little creature, and used to tremble or put on an air of misery 
when my father passed, while she was waiting for dinner, 
just as if she knew that he would say (as he did often say) 
that "she was famishing." My father used to make her 
catch biscuits off her nose, and had an affectionate and mock- 
solemn way of explaining to her before-hand that she must 
" be a very good girl." She had a mark on her back 
where she had been burnt, and where the hair had re-grown 
red instead of white, and my father used to commend her for 
this tuft of hair as being in accordance with his theory of 
pangenesis ; her father had been a red bull-terrier, thus the 
red hair appearing after the burn showed the presence of 
atent red gemmules. He was delightfully tender to Polly, 
and never showed any impatience at the attentions she 
required, such as to be let in at the door, or out at the 
verandah window, to bark at " naughty people," a self-im- 
posed duty she much enjoyed. She died, or rather had to be 
killed, a few days after his death.* 

My father's midday walk generally began by a call at the 
greenhouse, where he looked at any germinating seeds or 
experimental plants which required a casual examination, but 
he hardly ever did any serious observing at this time. Then 
he went on for his constitutional either round the "Sand- 
walk," or outside his own grounds in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of the house. The "Sand-walk" was a narrow 
strip of land i acres in extent, with a gravel-walk round 
it On one side of it was a broad old shaw with fair-sized 

* The basket in which she usually Parsons' drawing given at the head 
lay curled up near the fire in his of the chapter, 
study is faithfully represented in Mr. 

WALKS. 1 1 5 

oaks in it, which made a sheltered shady walk ; the other side 
was separated from a neighbouring grass field by a low 
quickset hedge, over which you could look at what view 
there was, a quiet little valley losing itself in the upland 
country towards the edge of the Westerham hill, with hazel 
coppice and larch wood, the remnants of what was once a 
large wood, stretching away to the Westerham road. I have 
heard my father say that the charm of this simple little valley 
helped to make him settle at Down. 

The Sand-walk was planted by my father with a variety of 
trees, such as hazel, alder, lime, hornbeam, birch, privet, and 
dogwood, and with a long line of hollies all down the exposed 
side. In earlier times he took a certain number of turns 
every day, and used to count them by means of a heap of 
flints, one of which he kicked out on the path each time he 
passed. Of late years I think he did not keep to any fixed 
number of turns, but took as many as he felt strength for. 
The Sand-walk was our play-ground as children, and here 
we continually saw my father as he walked round. He liked 
to see what we were doing, and was ever ready to sympathize 
in any fun that was going on. It is curious to think how, 
with regard to the Sand-walk in connection with my father, 
my earliest recollections coincide with my latest ; it shows 
how unvarying his habits have been. 

Sometimes when alone he stood still or walked stealthily 
to observe birds or beasts. It was on one of these occasions 
that some young squirrels ran up his back and legs, while 
their mother barked at them in an agony from the tree. He 
always found birds' nests even up to the last years of his life, 
and we, as children, considered that he had a special genius 
in this direction. In his quiet prowls he came across the less 
common birds, but I fancy he used to conceal it from me, 
as a little boy, because he observed the agony of mind which 
I endured at not having seen the siskin or goldfinch, or 
whatever it might have been. He used to tell us how, when 

I 2 


he was creeping noiselessly along in the " Big- Woods," he 
came upon a fox asleep in the daytime, which was so much 
astonished that it took a good stare at him before it ran off. 
A Spitz dog which accompanied him showed no sign of 
excitement at the fox, and he used to end the story by 
wondering how the dog could have been so faint-hearted. 

Another favourite place was "Orchis Bank," above the 
quiet Cudham valley, where fly- and musk-orchis grew 
among the junipers, and Cephalanthera and Neottia under 
the beech boughs ; the little wood " Hangrove," just above 
this, he was also fond of, and here I remember his collecting 
grasses, when he took a fancy to make out the names of 
all the common kinds. He was fond of quoting the saying 
of one of his little boys, who, having found a grass that his 
father had not seen before, had it laid by his own plate during 
dinner, remarking, " I are an extraordinary grass-finder ! " 

My father much enjoyed wandering slowly in the garden with 
my mother or some of his children, or making one of a party, 
sitting out on a bench on the lawn ; he generally sat, however, 
on the grass, and I remember him often lying under one of 
the big lime-trees, with his head on the green mound at its 
foot. In dry summer weather, when we often sat out, the 
big fly-wheel of the well was commonly heard spinning round, 
and so the sound became associated with those pleasant days. 
He used to like to watch us playing at lawn-tennis, and often 
knocked up a stray ball for us with the curved handle of 
his stick. 

Though he took no personal share in the management of 
the garden, he had great delight in the beauty of flowers 
for instance, in the mass of Azaleas which generally stood in 
the drawing-room. I think he sometimes fused together his ad- 
miration of the structure of a flower and of its intrinsic beauty ; 
for instance, in the case of the big pendulous pink and white 
flowers of Dielytra. In the same way he had an affection, half- 
artistic, half-botanical, for the little blue Lobelia. In admiring 


flowers, he would often laugh at the dingy high-art colours, 
and contrast them with the bright tints of nature. I used to 
like to hear him admire the beauty of a flower ; it was a kind 
of gratitude to the flower itself, and a personal love for its 
delicate form and colour. I seem to remember him gently 
touching a flower he delighted in ; it was the same simple 
admiration that a child might have. 

He could not help personifying natural things. This feeling 
came out in abuse as well as in praise e.g. of some seedlings 
"The little beggars are doing just what I don't want them 
to." He would speak in a half-provoked, half-admiring way 
of the ingenuity of a Mimosa leaf in screwing itself out of a 
basin of water in which he had tried to fix it. One might 
see the same spirit in his way of speaking of Sundew, earth- 
worms, &c.* 

Within my memory, his only outdoor recreation, besides 
walking, was riding, which he took to on the recommendation 
of Dr. Bence Jones, and we had the luck to find for him the 
easiest and quietest cob in the world, named " Tommy." He 
enjoyed these rides extremely, and devised a number of short 
rounds which brought him home in time for lunch. Our 
country is good for this purpose, owing to the number of small 
valleys which give a variety to what in a flat country would 
be a dull loop of road. He was not, I think, naturally fond 
of horses, nor had he a high opinion of their intelligence, and 
Tommy was often laughed at for the alarm he showed at 
passing and repassing the same heap of hedge-clippings as 
he went round the field. I think he used to feel surprised at 
himself, when he remembered how bold a rider he had been, 
and how utterly old age and bad health had taken away his 
nerve. He would say that riding prevented him thinking 

* Cf. Leslie Stephen's 'Swift,' father's observations on worms, 

1882, p. 200, where Swift's inspec- " The difference is," says Mr. 

tion of the manners and customs Stephen, "that Darwin had none 

of servants are compared to my but kindly feelings for worms v " 


much more effectually than walking that having to attend 
to the horse gave him occupation sufficient to prevent any 
really hard thinking. And the change of scene which it gave 
him was good for spirits and health. 

Unluckily, Tommy one day fell heavily with him on 
Keston common. This, and an accident with another horse 
upset his nerves, and he was advised to give up riding. 

If I go beyond my own experience, and recall what I have 
heard him say of his love for sport, &c., I can think of a good 
deal, but much of it would be a repetition of what is con- 
tained in his ' Recollections.' At school he was fond of bat- 
fives, and this was the only game at which he was skilful. 
He was fond of his gun as quite a boy, and became a good 
shot ; he used to tell how in South America he killed twenty- 
three snipe in twenty-four shots. In telling the story he was 
careful to add that he thought they were not quite so wild 
as English snipe. 

Luncheon at Down came after his midday walk ; and 
here I may say a word or two about his meals generally. 
He had a boy-like love of sweets, unluckily for himself, since 
he was constantly forbidden to take them. He was not 
particularly successful in keeping the "vows," as he called 
them, which he made against eating sweets, and never con- 
sidered them binding unless he made them aloud. 

He drank very little wine, but enjoyed, and was revived 
by, the little he did drink. He had a horror of drinking, 
and constantly warned his boys that any one might be led 
into drinking too much. I remember, in my innocence as a 
small boy, asking him if he had been ever tipsy ; and he 
answered very gravely that he was ashamed to say he had 
once drunk too much at Cambridge. I was much impressed, 
so that I know now the place where the question was asked. 

After his lunch, he read the newspaper, lying on the sofa 
in the drawing-room. I think the paper was the only non- 
scientific matter which he read to himself. Everything else, 


novels, travels, history, was read aloud to him. He took so 
wide an interest in life, that there was much to occupy him 
in newspapers, though he laughed at the wordiness of the 
debates ; reading them, I think, only in abstract. His interest 
in politics was considerable, but his opinion on these matters 
was formed rather by the way than with any serious amount 
of thought. 

After he had read his paper, came his time for writing 
letters. These, as well as the MS. of his books, were written 
by him as he sat in a huge horse-hair chair by the fire, his 
paper supported on a board resting on the arms of the chair. 
When he had many or long letters to write, he would dictate 
them from a rough copy ; these rough copies were written on 
the backs of manuscript or of proof-sheets, and were almost 
illegible, sometimes even to himself. He made a rule of 
keeping all letters that he received ; this was a habit which 
he learnt from his father, and which he said had been of 
great use to him. 

He received many letters from foolish, unscrupulous people, 
and all of these received replies. He used to say that if he did 
not answer them, he had it on his conscience afterwards, and 
no doubt it was in great measure the courtesy with which he 
answered every one, which produced the universal and wide- 
spread sense of his kindness of nature, which was so evident 
on his death. 

He was considerate to his correspondents in other and lesser 
things, for instance when dictating a letter to a foreigner he 
hardly ever failed to say to me, " You'd better try and write 
well, as it's to a foreigner." His letters were generally written 
on the assumption that they would be carelessly read ; thus, 
when he was dictating, he was careful to tell me to make an 
important clause begin with an obvious paragraph " to catch 
his eye," as he often said. How much he thought of the trouble 
he gave others by asking questions, will be well enough shown 
by his letters. It is difficult to say anything about the general 


tone of his letters, they will speak for themselves. The un- 
varying courtesy of them is very striking. I had a proof of 
this quality in the feeling with which Mr. Hacon, his solicitor, 
regarded him. He had never seen my father, yet had a 
sincere feeling of friendship for him, and spoke especially of 
his letters as being such as a man seldom receives in the way 
of business : " Everything I did was right, and everything 
was profusely thanked for." 

He had a printed form to be used in replying to troublesome 
correspondents, but he hardly ever used it ; I suppose he never 
found an occasion that seemed exactly suitable. I remember 
an occasion on which it might have been used with advantage. 
He received a letter from a stranger stating that the writer 
had undertaken to uphold Evolution at a debating society, 
and that being a busy young man, without time for reading, 
he wished to have a sketch of my father's views. Even 
this wonderful young man got a civil answer, though I 
think he did not get much material for his speech. His rule 
vas to thank the donors of books, but not of pamphlets. He 
sometimes expressed surprise that so few people thanked him 
for his books which he gave away liberally ; the letters that 
he did receive gave him much pleasure, because he habitually 
formed so humble an estimate of the value of all his works, 
that he was genuinely surprised at the interest which they 

In money and business matters he was remarkably careful 
and exact. He kept accounts with great care, classifying 
them, and balancing at the end of the year like a merchant. 
I remember the quick way in which he would reach out for 
his account-book to enter each cheque paid, as though he were 
in a hurry to get it entered before he had forgotten it. His 
father must have allowed him to believe that he would be 
poorer than he really was, for some of the difficulty experi- 
enced in finding a house in the country must have arisen 
from the modest sum he felt prepared to give. Yet he knew, 


of course, that he would be in easy circumstances, for in his 
' Recollections ' he mentions this as one of the reasons for his 
not having worked at medicine with so much zeal as he 
would have done if he had been obliged to gain his living. 

He had a pet economy in paper, but it was rather a hobby 
than a real economy. All the blank sheets of letters received 
were kept in a portfolio to be used in making notes ; it was 
his respect for paper that made him write so much on the 
backs of his old MS., and in this way, unfortunately, he de- 
stroyed large parts of the original MS. of his books. His 
feeling about paper extended to waste paper, and he objected, 
half in fun, to the careless custom of throwing a spill into the 
fire after it had been used for lighting a candle. 

My father was wonderfully liberal and generous to all his 
children in the matter of money, and I have special cause to 
remember his kindness when I think of the way in which he 
paid some Cambridge debts of mine making it almost seem 
a virtue in me to have told him of them. In his later years 
he had the kind and generous plan of dividing his surplus at 
the year's end among his children. 

He had a great respect for pure business capacity, and 
often spoke with admiration of a relative who had doubled 
his fortune. And of himself would often say in fun that 
what he really was proud of was the money he had saved. 
He also felt satisfaction in the money he made by his books. 
His anxiety to save came in great measure from his fears 
that his children would not have health enough to earn their 
own livings, a foreboding which fairly haunted him for many 
years. And I have a dim recollection of his saying, " Thank 
God, you'll have bread and cheese," when I was so young that 
I was rather inclined to take it literally. 

When letters were finished, about three in the afternoon, 
he rested in his bedroom, lying on the sofa and smoking 
a cigarette, and listening to a novel or other book not 
scientific. He only smoked when resting, whereas snufif 


was a stimulant, and was taken during working hours. He 
took snuff for many years of his life, having learnt the habit 
at Edinburgh as a student. He had a nice silver snuff-box 
given him by Mrs. Wedgwood of Maer, which he valued much 
but he rarely carried it, because it tempted him to take too 
many pinches. In one of his early letters he speaks of having 
given up snuff for a month, and describes himself as feeling 
" most lethargic, stupid and melancholy." Our former neigh- 
bour and clergyman, Mr. Brodie Innes, tells me that at one 
time my father made a resolve not to take snuff except away 
from home, " a most satisfactory arrangement for me," he adds, 
4< as I kept a box in my study to which there was access from 
the garden without summoning servants, and I had more 
frequently, than might have been otherwise the case, the 
privilege of a few minutes' conversation with my dear friend." 
He generally took snuff from a jar on the hall table, because 
having to go this distance for a pinch was a slight check ; the 
clink of the lid of the snuff jar was a very familiar sound. 
Sometimes when he was in the drawing-room, it would occur 
to him that the study fire must be burning low, and when 
some of us offered to see after it, it would turn out that he also 
wished to get a pinch of snuff. 

Smoking he only took to permanently of late years, though 
on his Pampas rides he learned to smoke with the Gauchos, 
and I have heard him speak of the great comfort of a cup of 
matt and a cigarette when he halted after a long ride and 
was unable to get food for some time. 

The reading aloud often sent him to sleep, and he used to 
regret losing parts of a novel, for my mother went steadily on 
lest the cessation of the sound might wake him. He came 
down at four o'clock to dress for his walk, and he was so regular 
that one might be quite certain it was within a few minutes 
of four when his descending steps were heard. 

From about half-past four to half-past five he worked ; then 
he came to the drawing-room, and was idle till it was time 

MUSIC. 123 

(about six) to go up for another rest with novel-reading and a 

Latterly he gave up late dinner, and had a simple tea at 
half-past seven (while we had dinner), with an egg or a small 
piece of meat. After dinner he never stayed in the room, 
and used to apologise by saying he was an old woman, who 
must be allowed to leave with the ladies. This was one of 
the many signs and results of his constant weakness and ill- 
health. Half an hour more or less conversation would make 
to him the difference of a sleepless night, and of the loss 
perhaps of half the next day's work. 

After dinner he played backgammon with my mother, two 
games being played every night ; for many years a score of 
the games which each won was kept, and in this score he took 
the greatest interest He became extremely animated over 
these games, bitterly lamenting his bad luck and exploding 
with exaggerated mock-anger at my mother's good fortune. 

After backgammon he read some scientific book to himself, 
either in the drawing-room, or, if much talking was going on, 
in the study. 

In the evening, that is, after he had read as much as his 
strength would allow, and before the reading aloud began, 
he would often lie on the sofa and listen to my mother playing 
the piano. He had not a good ear, yet in spite of this he had 
a true love of fine music. He used to lament that his enjoy- 
ment of music had become dulled with age, yet within my 
recollection his love of a good tune was strong. I never heard 
him hum more than one tune, the Welsh song " Ar hyd y nos," 
which he went through correctly ; he used also, I believe, to 
hum a little Otaheitan song. From his want of ear he was 
unable to recognize a tune when he heard it again, but he 
remained constant to what he liked, and would often say, 
when an old favourite was played, " That's a fine thing ; what 
is it ? " He liked especially parts of Beethoven's symphonies, 
-and bits of Handel. He made a little list of all the pieces 


which he especially liked among those which my mother 
played giving in a few words the impression that each one 
made on him but these notes are unfortunately lost He 
was sensitive to differences in style, and enjoyed the late Mrs. 
Vernon Lushington's playing intensely, and in June 1881, 
when Hans Richter paid a visit at Down, he was roused to 
strong enthusiasm by his magnificent performance on the 
piano. He much enjoyed good singing, and was moved 
almost to tears by grand or pathetic songs. His niece Lady 
Farrer's singing of Sullivan's " Will he come " was a never- 
failing enjoyment to him. He was humble in the extreme 
about his own taste, and correspondingly pleased when he 
found that others agreed with him. 

He became much tired in the evenings, especially of late 
years, and left the drawing-room about ten, going to bed at 
half-past ten. His nights were generally bad, and he often 
lay awake or sat up in bed for hours, suffering much discom- 
fort He was troubled at night by the activity of his thoughts, 
and would become exhausted by his mind working at some 
problem which he would willingly have dismissed. At night, 
too, anything which had vexed or troubled him in the day 
would haunt him, and I think it was then that he suffered if 
he had not answered some troublesome person's letter. 

The regular readings, which I have mentioned, continued 
for so many years, enabled him to get through a great 
deal of the lighter kinds of literature. He was extremely 
fond of novels, and I remember well the way in which 
he would anticipate the pleasure of having a novel read 
to him, as he lay down, or lighted his cigarette. He 
took a vivid interest both in plot and characters, and 
would on no account know before-hand, how a story 
finished ; he considered looking at the end of a novel as a 
feminine vice. He could not enjoy any story with a tragical 
end, for this reason he did not keenly appreciate George 
Eliot, though he often spoke warmly in praise of 'Silas 


Marner.' Walter Scott, Miss Austen, and Mrs. Gaskell, were 
read and re-read till they could be read no more. He had 
two or three books in hand at the same time a novel and 
perhaps a biography and a book of travels. He did not often 
read out-of-the-way or old standard books, but generally kept 
to the books of the day obtained from a circulating library. 

I do not think that his literary tastes and opinions were 
on a level with the rest of his mind. He himself, though 
he was clear as to what he thought good, considered that 
in matters of literary taste, he was quite outside the pale, and 
often spoke of what those within it liked or disliked, as if they 
formed a class to which he had no claim to belong. 

In all matters of art he was inclined to laugh at professed 
critics, and say that their opinions were formed by fashion. 
Thus in painting, he would say how in his day every one 
admired masters who are now neglected. His love of 
pictures as a young man is almost a proof that he must have 
had an appreciation of a portrait as a work of art, not as a 
likeness. Yet he often talked laughingly of the small worth 
of portraits, and said that a photograph was worth any number 
of pictures, as if he were blind to the artistic quality in a 
painted portrait. But this was generally said in his attempts 
to persuade us to give up the idea of having his portrait 
painted, an operation very irksome to him. 

This way of looking at himself as an ignoramus in all 
matters of art, was strengthened by the absence of pretence, 
which was part of his character. With regard to questions of 
taste, as well as to more serious things, he always had the 
courage of his opinions. I remember, however, an instance 
that sounds like a contradiction to this : when he was looking 
at the Turners in Mr. Ruskin's bedroom, he did not confess, 
as he did afterwards, that he could make out absolutely 
nothing of what Mr. Ruskin saw in them. But this little 
pretence was not for his own sake, but for the sake of courtesy 
to his host. He was pleased and amused when subsequently 


Mr. Ruskin brought him some photographs of pictures (I think 
Vandyke portraits), and courteously seemed to value my 
father's opinion about them. 

Much of his scientific reading was in German, and this 
was a great labour to him ; in reading a book after him, I was 
often struck at seeing, from the pencil-marks made each day 
where he left off, how little he could read at a time. He 
used to call German the "Verdammte," pronounced as if in 
English. He was especially indignant with Germans, because 
he was convinced that they could write simply if they chose, 
and often praised Dr. F. Hildebrand for writing German 
which was as clear as French. He sometimes gave a German 
sentence to a friend, a patriotic German lady, and used to 
laugh at her if she did not translate it fluently. He himself 
learnt German simply by hammering away with a dictionary ; 
he would say that his only way was to read a sentence a 
great many times over, and at last the meaning occurred to 
him. When he began German long ago, he boasted of the 
fact (as he used to tell) to Sir J. Hooker, who replied, " Ah, 
my dear fellow, that's nothing ; I've begun it many times." 

In spite of his want of grammar, he managed to get on 
wonderfully with German, and the sentences that he failed to 
make out were generally really difficult ones. He never 
attempted to speak German correctly, but pronounced the 
words as though they were English ; and this made it not a 
little difficult to help him, when he read out a German sentence 
and asked for a translation. He certainly had a bad ear for 
vocal sounds, so that he found it impossible to perceive small 
differences in pronunciation. 

His wide interest in branches of science that were not 
specially his own was remarkable. In the biological sciences 
his doctrines make themselves felt so widely that there was 
something interesting to him in most departments of it. He 
read a good deal of many quite special works, and large parts 
of text books, such as Huxley's * Invertebrate Anatomy/ or 


such a book as Balfour's ' Embryology/ where the detail, at 
any rate, was not specially in his own line. And in the case 
of elaborate books of the monograph type, though he did 
not make a study of them, yet he felt the strongest admiration 
for them. 

In the non-biological sciences he felt keen sympathy with 
work of which he could not really judge. For instance, he 
used to read nearly the whole of ' Nature,' though so much 
of it deals with mathematics and physics. I have often heard 
him say that he got a kind of satisfaction in reading articles 
which (according to himself) he could not understand. I wish 
I could reproduce the manner in which he would laugh at 
himself for it. 

It was remarkable, too, how he kept up his interest in 
subjects at which he had formerly worked. This was strik- 
ingly the case with geology. In one of his letters to Mr. Judd 
he begs him to pay him a visit, saying that since Lyell's death 
he hardly ever gets a geological talk. His observations,, 
made only a few years before his death, on the upright 
pebbles in the drift at Southampton, and discussed in a letter 
to Mr. Geikie, afford another instance. Again, in the letters 
to Dr. Dohrn, he shows how his interest in barnacles remained 
alive. I think it was all due to the vitality and persistence of 
his mind a quality I have heard him speak of as if he felt 
that he was strongly gifted in that respect. Not that he used 
any such phrases as these about himself, but he would say 
that he had the power of keeping a subject or question more 
or less before him for a great many years. The extent to 
which he possessed this power appears when we consider the 
number of different problems which he solved, and the early 
period at which some of them began to occupy him. 

It was a sure sign that he was not well when he was idle 
at any times other than his regular resting hours ; for, as long 
as he remained moderately well, there was no break in the 
regularity of his life. Week-days and Sundays passed by 


alike, each with their stated intervals of work and rest It 
is almost impossible, except for those who watched his daily 
life, to realise how essential to his well-being was the regular 
routine that I have sketched : and with what pain and diffi- 
culty anything beyond it was attempted. Any public ap- 
pearance, even of the most modest kind, was an effort to him. 
In 1871 he went to the little village church for the wedding 
of his elder daughter, but he could hardly bear the fatigue of 
being present through the short service. The same may be 
said of the few other occasions on which he was present at 
similar ceremonies. 

I remember him many years ago at a christening; a 
memory which has remained with me, because to us children 
it seemed an extraordinary and abnormal occurrence. I re- 
member his look most distinctly at his brother Erasmus's 
funeral, as he stood in the scattering of snow, wrapped in a 
long black funeral cloak, with a grave look of sad reverie. 

When, after an interval of many years, he again attended 
a meeting of the Linnean Society, it was felt to be, and 
was in fact, a serious undertaking ; one not to be determined 
on without much sinking of heart, and hardly to be carried 
into effect without paying a penalty of subsequent suffering. 
In the same way a breakfast-party at Sir James Paget's, with 
some of the distinguished visitors to the Medical Congress 
(1881), was to him a severe exertion. 

The early morning was the only time at which he could 
make any effort of the kind, with comparative impunity. 
Thus it came about that the visits he paid to his scientific 
friends in London were by preference made as early as ten in 
the morning. For the same reason he started on his journeys 
by the earliest possible train, and used to arrive at the houses 
of relatives in London when they were beginning their day. 

He kept an accurate journal of the days on which he worked 
and those on which his ill health prevented him from working, 
so that it would be possible to tell how many were idle days 


in any given year. In this journal a little yellow Letts's 
Diary, which lay open on his mantel-piece, piled on the 
diaries of previous years he also entered the day on which 
he started for a holiday and that of his return. 

The most frequent holidays were visits of a week to 
London, either to his brother's house (6 Queen Anne Street), 
or to his daughter's (4 Bryanston Street). He was generally 
persuaded by my mother to take these short holidays, when 
it became clear from the frequency of " bad days," or from 
the swimming of his head, that he was being overworked. 
He went unwillingly, and tried to drive hard bargains, stipu- 
lating, for instance, that he should come home in five days 
instead of six. Even if he were leaving home for no more 
than a week, the packing had to be begun early on the 
previous day, and the chief part of it he would do himself. 
The discomfort of a journey to him was, at least latterly, 
chiefly in the anticipation, and in the miserable sinking feeling- 
from which he suffered immediately before the start ; even a 
fairly long journey, such as that to Coniston, tired him wonder- 
fully little, considering how much an invalid he was ; and he- 
certainly enjoyed it in an almost boyish way, and to a curious 

Although, as he has said, some of his aesthetic tastes had 
suffered a gradual decay, his love of scenery remained fresh 
and strong. Every walk at Coniston was a fresh delight, and 
he was never tired of praising the beauty of the broken hilly 
country at the head of the lake. 

One of the happy memories of this time [1879] ls that of a 
delightful visit to Grasmere : " The perfect day," my sister 
writes, " and my father's vivid enjoyment and flow of spirits, 
form a picture in my mind that I like to think of. He 
could hardly sit still in the carriage for turning round and 
getting up to admire the view from each fresh point, and even 
in returning he was full of the beauty of Rydal Water, though 

VOL. I. K 


he would not allow that Grasmere at all equalled his beloved 

Besides these longer holidays, there were shorter visits to 
various relatives to his brother-in-law's house, close to Leith 
Hill, and to his son near Southampton. He always particularly 
enjoyed rambling over rough open country, such as the 
commons near Leith Hill and Southampton, the heath- 
covered wastes of Ashdown Forest, or the delightful " Rough " 
near the house of his friend Sir Thomas Farrer. He never 
was quite idle even on these holidays, and found things to 
observe. At Hartfield he watched Drosera catching insects, 
&c. ; at Torquay he observed the fertilisation of an orchid 
(Spirant/tes), and also made out the relations of the sexes in 

He was always rejoiced to get home after his holidays ; he 
used greatly to enjoy the welcome he got from his dog Polly, 
who would get wild with excitement, panting, squeaking, 
rushing round the room, and jumping on and off the chairs ; 
and he used to stoop down, pressing her face to his, letting 
her lick him, and speaking to her with a peculiarly tender, 
caressing voice. 

My father had the power of giving to these summer 
holidays a charm which was strongly felt by all his family. 
The pressure of his work at home kept him at the utmost 
stretch of his powers of endurance, and when released from 
it, he entered on a holiday with a youthfulness of enjoyment 
that made his companionship delightful ; we felt that we saw 
more of him in a week's holiday than in a month at home. 

Some of these absences from home, however, had a de- 
pressing effect on him ; when he had been previously much 
overworked it seemed as though the absence of the cus- 
tomary strain allowed him to fall into a peculiar condition 
of miserable health. 

Besides the holidays which I have mentioned, there were his 


visits to water-cure establishments. In 1849, when very ill, 
suffering from constant sickness, he was urged by a friend 
to try the water-cure, and at last agreed to go to Dr. Gully's 
establishment at Malvern. His letters to Mr. Fox show how 
much good the treatment did him ; he seems to have thought 
that he had found a cure for his troubles, but, like all other 
remedies, it had only a transient effect on him. However, he 
found it, at first, so good for him, that when he came home 
he built himself a douche-bath, and the butler learnt to be 
his bathman. 

He paid many visits to Moor Park, Dr. Lane's water-cure 
establishment in Surrey, not far from Aldershot. These 
visits were pleasant ones, and he always looked back to them 
with pleasure. Dr. Lane has given his recollections of my 
father in Dr. Richardson's ' Lecture on Charles Darwin/ 
October 22, 1882, from which I quote: 

" In a public institution like mine, he was surrounded, of 
course, by multifarious types of character, by persons of both 
sexes, mostly very different from himself commonplace 
people, in short, as the majority are everywhere, but like to 
him at least in this, that they were fellow-creatures and 
fellow-patients. And never was any one more genial, more 
considerate, more friendly, more altogether charming than he 
universally was." .... He " never aimed, as too often happens 
with good talkers, at monopolising the conversation. It was 
his pleasure rather to give and take, and he was as good 
a listener as a speaker. He never preached nor prosed, but 
his talk, whether grave or gay (and it was each by turns), was 
full of life and salt racy, bright, and animated.' 

Some idea of his relation to his family and his friends may 
be gathered from what has gone before ; it would be impos- 
sible to attempt a complete account of these relationships, 
but a slightly fuller outline may not be out of place. Of his 

K 2 


married life I cannot speak, save in the briefest manner. In 
his relationship towards my mother, his tender and sympa- 
thetic nature was shown in its most beautiful aspect. In her 
presence he found his happiness, and through her, his life, 
which might have been overshadowed by gloom, became one 
of content and quiet gladness. 

The ' Expression of the Emotions ' shows how closely he 
watched his children ; it was characteristic of him that (as 
I have heard him tell), although he was so anxious to observe 
accurately the expression of a crying child, his sympathy 
with the grief spoiled his observation. His note-book, in 
which are recorded sayings of his young children, shows his 
pleasure in them. He seemed to retain a sort of regretful 
memory of the childhoods which had faded away, and thus 
he wrote in his ' Recollections ' : " When you were very 
young it was my delight to play with you all, and I think 
with a sigh that such days can never return." 

I may quote, as showing the tenderness of his nature, some 
sentences from an account of his little daughter Annie, 
written a few days after her death : 

" Our poor child, Annie, was born in Gower Street, on 
March 2, 1841, and expired at Malvern at mid -day on the 
23rd of April, 1851. 

" I write these few pages, as I think in after years, if we 
live, the impressions now put down will recall more vividly 
her chief characteristics. From whatever point I look back 
at her, the main feature in her disposition which at once rises 
before me, is her buoyant joyousness, tempered by two other 
characteristics, namely, her sensitiveness, which might easily 
have been overlooked by a stranger, and her strong affection. 
Her joyousness and animal spirits radiated from her whole 
countenance, and rendered every movement elastic and full of 
life and vigour. It was delightful and cheerful to behold her. 
Her dear face now rises before me, as she used sometimes to 


come running downstairs with a stolen pinch of snuff for me, 
her whole form radiant with the pleasure of giving pleasure. 
Even when playing with her cousins, when her joyousness 
almost passed into boisterousness, a single glance of my eye, 
not of displeasure (for I thank God I hardly ever cast one on 
her), but of want of sympathy, would for some minutes alter 
her whole countenance. 

" The other point in her character, which made her joyous- 
ness and spirits so delightful, was her strong affection, which 
was of a most clinging, fondling nature. When quite a baby, 
this showed itself in never being easy without touching 
her mother, when in bed with her ; and quite lately she would, 
when poorly, fondle for any length of time one of her mother's 
arms. When very unwell, her mother lying down beside her, 
seemed to soothe her in a manner quite different from what 
it would have done to any of our other children. So, again, 
she would at almost any time spend half an hour in arranging 
my hair, ' making it,' as she called it, ' beautiful,' or in smooth- 
ing, the poor dear darling, my collar or cuffs in short, in 
fondling me. 

" Besides her joyousness thus tempered, she was in her 
manners remarkably cordial, frank, open, straightforward, 
natural, and without any shade of reserve. Her whole mind 
was pure and transparent. One felt one knew her thoroughly 
and could trust her. I always thought, that come what 
might, we should have had in our old age, at least one loving 
soul, which nothing could have changed. All her move- 
ments were vigorous, active, and usually graceful. When 
going round the Sand-walk with me, although I walked fast, 
yet she often used to go before, pirouetting in the most 
elegant way, her dear face bright all the time with the 
sweetest smiles. Occasionally she had a pretty coquettish 
manner towards me, the memory of which is charming. 
She often used exaggerated language, and when I quizzed 
her by exaggerating what she had said, how clearly can 


I now sec the little toss of the head, and exclamation of, 
Oh, papa, what a shame of you ! ' In the last short illness, her 
conduct in simple truth was angelic. She never once com- 
plained ; never became fretful ; was ever considerate of others, 
and was thankful in the most gentle, pathetic manner for 
everything done for her. When so exhausted that she could 
hardly speak, she praised everything that was given her, and 
said some tea ' was beautifully good.' When I gave her some 
water, she said, 'I quite thank you ;' and these, I believe, 
were the last precious words ever addressed by her dear lips 
to me. 

" We have lost the joy of the household, and the solace of 
our old age. She must have known how we loved her. Oh, 
that she could now know how deeply, how tenderly, we do still 
and shall ever love her dear joyous face ! Blessings on her ! 

"April 30, 1851." 

We his children all took especial pleasure in the games he 
played at with us, but I do not think he romped much with 
us ; I suppose his health prevented any rough play. He used 
sometimes to tell us stories, which were considered specially 
delightful, partly on account of their rarity. 

The way he brought us up is shown by a little story 
about my brother Leonard, which my father was fond of 
telling. He came into the drawing-room and found Leonard 
dancing about on the sofa, which was forbidden, for the sake 
of the springs, and said, " Oh, Lenny, Lenny, that's against 
all rules," and received for answer, " Then I think you'd better 
go out of the room." I do not believe he ever spoke an angry 
word to any of his children in his life ; but I am certain that 
it never entered our heads to disobey him. I well remember 
one occasion when my father reproved me for a piece of care- 
lessness ; and I can still recall the feeling of depression which 
came over me, and the care which he took to disperse it by 
speaking to me soon afterwards with especial kindness. He 


kept up his delightful, affectionate manner towards us all his 
life. I sometimes wonder that he could do so, with such an 
undemonstrative race as we are ; but I hope he knew how 
much we delighted in his loving words and manner. How 
often, when a man, I have wished when my father was behind 
my chair, that he would pass his hand over my hair, as he 
used to do when I was a boy. He allowed his grown-up chil- 
dren to laugh with and at him, and was generally speaking 
on terms of perfect equality with us. 

He was always full of interest about each one's plans or 
successes. We used to laugh at him, and say he would not 
believe in his sons, because, for instance, he would be a little 
doubtful about their taking some bit of work for which he did 
not feel sure that they had knowledge enough. On the other 
hand, he was only too much inclined to take a favourable 
view of our work. When I thought he had set too high a 
value on anything that I had done, he used to be indignant 
and inclined to explode in mock anger. His doubts were 
part of his humility concerning what was in any way con- 
nected with himself; his too favourable view of our work 
was due to his sympathetic nature, which made him lenient 
to every one. 

He kept up towards his children his delightful manner of 
expressing his thanks ; and I never wrote a letter, or read a 
page aloud to him, without receiving a few kind words of re- 
cognition. His love and goodness towards his little grandson 
Bernard were great ; and he often spoke of the pleasure it was 
to him to see " his little face opposite to him " at luncheon. 
He and Bernard used to compare their tastes ; e.g., in liking 
brown sugar better than white, &c. ; the result being, " We 
always agree, don't we ? " 

My sister writes : 

" My first remembrances of my father are of the delights of 
his playing with us. He was passionately attached to his 


own children, although he was not an indiscriminate child- 
lover. To all of us he was the most delightful play-fellow, 
and the most perfect sympathiser. Indeed it is impossible 
adequately to describe how delightful a relation his was to his 
family, whether as children or in their later life. 

" It is a proof of the terms on which we were, and also of 
how much he was valued as a play-fellow, that one of his sons 
when about four years old tried to bribe him with sixpence to 
come and play in working hours. We all knew the sacred- 
ness of working time, but that any one should resist sixpence 
seemed an impossibility. 

" He must have been the most patient and delightful of 
nurses. I remember the haven of peace and comfort it 
seemed to me when I was unwell, to be tucked up on the 
study sofa, idly considering the old geological map hung on 
the wall. This must have been in his working hours, for I 
always picture him sitting in the horse-hair arm-chair by the 
corner of the fire. 

"Another mark of his unbounded patience was the way in 
which we were suffered to make raids into the study when we 
had an absolute need of sticking-plaster, string, pins, scissors, 
stamps, foot-rule, or hammer. These and other such neces- 
saries were always to be found in the study, and it was the 
only place where this was a certainty. We used to feel it 
wrong to go in during work-time ; still, when the necessity was 
great, we did so. I remember his patient look when he said 
once, ' Don't you think you could not come in again, I have 
been interrupted very often.' We used to dread going in for 
sticking-plaster, because he disliked to see that we had cut 
ourselves, both for our sakes and on account of his acute 
sensitiveness to the sight of blood. I well remember lurking 
about the passage till he was safe away, and then stealing 
in for the plaster. 

" Life seems to me, as I look back upon it, to have been very 
regular in those early days, and except relations (and a few 


intimate friends), I do not think any one came to the house. 
After lessons, we were always free to go where we would, and 
that was chiefly in the drawing-room and about the garden, 
so that we were very much with both my father and mother. 
We used to think it most delightful when he told us any 
stories about the Beagle, or about early Shrewsbury days 
little bits about school-life and his boyish tastes. Sometimes 
too he read aloud to his children such books as Scott's novels, 
and I remember a few little lectures on the steam-engine. 

" I was more or less ill during the five years between my 
thirteenth and eighteenth years, and for a long time (years it 
seems to me) he used to play a couple of games of back- 
gammon with me every afternoon. He played them with the 
greatest spirit, and I remember we used at one time to keep 
account of the games, and as this record came out in favour 
of him, we kept a list of the doublets thrown by each, as 
I was convinced that he threw better than myself. 

" His patience and sympathy were boundless during this 
weary illness, and sometimes when most miserable I felt his 
sympathy to be almost too keen. When at my worst, we 
went to my aunt's house at Hartfield, in Sussex, and as soon 
as we had made the move safely he went on to Moor Park for 
a fortnight's water-cure. I can recall now how on his return 
I could hardly bear to have him in the room, the expression 
of tender sympathy and emotion in his face was too agitating, 
coming fresh upon me after his little absence. 

" He cared for all our pursuits and interests, and lived our 
lives with us in a way that very few fathers do. But I am 
certain that none of us felt that this intimacy interfered the 
least with our respect or obedience. Whatever he said was 
absolute truth and law to us. He always put his whole mind 
into answering any of our questions. One trifling instance 
makes me feel how he cared for what we cared for. He had 
no special taste for cats, though he admired the pretty ways 
of a kitten. But yet he knew and remembered the individu- 


alitics of my many cats, and would talk about the habits 
and characters of the more remarkable ones yeurs after they 
had died. 

"Another characteristic of his treatment of his children was 
his respect for their liberty, and for their personality. Even 
as quite a girl, I remember rejoicing in this sense of freedom. 
Our father and mother would not even wish to know what \vc 
were doing or thinking unless we wished to tell. He always 
made us feel that we were each of us creatures whose opinions 
and thoughts were valuable to him, so that whatever there 
was best in us came out in the sunshine of his presence. 

" I do not think his exaggerated sense of our good qualities, 
intellectual or moral, made us conceited, as might perhaps 
have been expected, but rather more humble and grateful to 
him. The reason being no doubt that the influence of his 
character, of his sincerity and greatness of nature, had a much 
deeper and more lasting effect than any small exaltation 
which his praises or admiration may have caused to our 

As head of a household he was much loved and respected ; 
he always spoke to servants with politeness, using the expres- 
sion, " would you be so good," in asking for anything. He 
was hardly ever angry with his servants ; it shows how seldom 
this occurred, that when, as a small boy, I overheard a servant 
being scolded, and my father speaking angrily, it impressed 
me as an appalling circumstance, and I remember running up 
stairs out of a general sense of awe. He did not trouble 
himself about the management of the garden, cows, &c. 
He considered the horses so little his concern, that he used 
to ask doubtfully whether he might have a horse and cart 
to send to Keston for Drosera, or to the Westerham nurseries 
for plants, or the like. 

As a host my father had a peculiar charm : the presence of 
visitors excited him, and made him appear to his best ad van- 


tage. At Shrewsbury, he used to say, it was his father's wish 
that the guests should be attended to constantly, and in one 
of the letters to Fox he speaks of the impossibility of writing 
a letter while the house was full of company. I think he 
always felt uneasy at not doing more for the entertainment 
of his guests, but the result was successful ; and, to make up 
for any loss, there was the gain that the guests felt perfectly 
free to do as they liked. The most usual visitors were those 
who stayed from Saturday till Monday ; those who remained 
longer were generally relatives, and were considered to be 
rather more my mother's affair than his. 

Besides these visitors, there were foreigners and other 
strangers, who came down for luncheon and went away in the 
afternoon. He used conscientiously to represent to them the 
enormous distance of Down from London, and the labour it 
would be to come there, unconsciously taking for granted 
that they would find the journey as toilsome as he did himself. 
If, however, they were not deterred, he used to arrange their 
journeys for them, telling them when to come, and practically 
when to go. It was pleasant to see the way in which he 
shook hands with a guest who was being welcomed for the 
first time ; his hand used to shoot out in a way that gave one 
the feeling that it was hastening to meet the guest's hands. 
With old friends his hand came down with a hearty swing 
into the other hand in a way I always had satisfaction in 
seeing. His good-bye was chiefly characterised by the 
pleasant way in which he thanked his guests, as he stood at 
the door, for having come to see him. 

These luncheons were very successful entertainments, there 
was no drag or flagging about them, my father was bright and 
excited throughout the whole visit. Professor De Candolle 
has described a visit to Down, in his admirable and sympa- 
thetic sketch of my father.* He speaks of his manner 

* ' Darwin conside're' au point de vue des causes de son succes.' Geneva, 


as resembling that of a " savant " of Oxford or Cambridge. 
This does not strike me as quite a good comparison ; in 
his ease and naturalness there was more of the manner of 
some soldiers ; a manner arising from total absence of pre- 
tence or affectation. It was this absence of pose, and the 
natural and simple way in which he began talking to his 
guests, so as to get them on their own lines, which made him 
so charming a host to a stranger. His happy choice of matter 
for talk seemed to flow out of his sympathetic nature, and 
humble, vivid interest in other people's work. 

To some, I think, he caused actual pain by his modesty ; 
I have seen the late Francis Balfour quite discomposed by 
having knowledge ascribed to himself on a point about which 
my father claimed to be utterly ignorant 

It is difficult to seize on the characteristics of my father's 

He had more dread than have most people of repeating 
his stories, and continually said, " You must have heard me 
tell," or " I dare say I've told you." One peculiarity he had, 
which gave a curious effect to his conversation. The first few 
words of a sentence would often remind him of some exception 
to, or some reason against, what he was going to say ; and 
this again brought up some other point, so that the sentence 
would become a system of parenthesis within parenthesis, and 
it was often impossible to understand the drift of what he was 
saying until he came to the end of his sentence. He used 
to say of himself that he was not quick enough to hold an 
argument with any one, and I think this was true. Unless it 
was a subject on which he was just then at work, he could 
not get the train of argument into working order quickly 
enough. This is shown even in his letters ; thus, in the case 
of two letters to Prof. Semper about the effect of isolation, he 
did not recall the series of facts he wanted until some days 
after the first letter had been sent off. 

When puzzled in talking, he had a peculiar stammer on the 

MANNER. 141 

first word of a sentence. I only recall this occurring with words 
beginning with w ; possibly he had a special difficulty with 
this letter, for I have heard him say that as a boy he could 
not pronounce w, and that sixpence was offered him if he could 
say " white wine," which he pronounced " rite rine." Possibly 
he may have inherited this tendency from Erasmus Darwin 
who stammered.* 

He sometimes combined his metaphors in a curious way, 
using such a phrase as " holding on like life," a mixture of 
" holding on for his life," and " holding on like grim death." 
It came from his eager way of putting emphasis into what he 
was saying. This sometimes gave an air of exaggeration 
where it was not intended ; but it gave, too, a noble air of 
strong and generous conviction ; as, for instance, when he 
gave his evidence before the Royal Commission on vivisection 
and came out with his words about cruelty, " It deserves 
detestation and abhorrence." When he felt strongly about 
any similar question, he could hardly trust himself to speak, 
as he then easily became angry, a thing which he disliked 
excessively. He was conscious that his anger had a tendency 
to multiply itself in the utterance, and for this reason dreaded 
(for example) having to scold a servant. 

It was a great proof of the modesty of his style of talking, 
that, when, for instance, a number of visitors came over from 
Sir John Lubbock's for a Sunday afternoon call, he never 
seemed to be preaching or lecturing, although he had so much 
of the talk to himself. He was particularly charming when 
" chaffing " any one, and in high spirits over it. His manner 
at such times was light-hearted and boyish, and his refine- 
ment of nature came out most strongly. So, when he was 
talking to a lady who pleased and amused him, the combina- 

* My father related a Johnsonian sir, because I have time to think 

answer of Erasmus Darwin's : before I speak, and don't ask im- 

" Don't you find it very inconvenient pertinent questions." 
stammering, Dr. Darwin ? " " No, 


tion of raillery and deference in his manner was delightful 
to sec. 

When my father had several guests he managed them well, 
getting a talk with each, or bringing two or three together 
round his chair. In these conversations there was always 
a good deal of fun, and, speaking generally, there was either 
a humorous turn in his talk, or a sunny geniality which 
served instead. Perhaps my recollection of a pervading cle- 
ment of humour is the more vivid, because the best talks were 
with Mr. Huxley, in whom there is the aptness which is akin 
to humour, even when humour itself is not there. My father 
enjoyed Mr. Huxley's humour exceedingly, and would often 
say, " What splendid fun Huxley is ! " I think he probably 
had more scientific argument (of the nature of a fight) with 
Lyell and Sir Joseph Hooker. 

He used to say that it grieved him to find that for the 
friends of his later life he had not the warm affection of 
his youth. Certainly in his early letters from Cambridge 
he gives proofs of very strong friendship for Herbert and 
Fox ; but no one except himself would have said that his 
affection for his friends was not, throughout life, of the 
warmest possible kind. In serving a friend he would not 
spare himself, and precious time and strength were willingly 
given. He undoubtedly had, to an unusual degree, the power 
of attaching his friends to him. He had many warm friend- 
ships, but to Sir Joseph Hooker he was bound by ties of 
affection stronger than we often see among men. He wrote 
in his ' Recollections,' " I have known hardly any man more 
lovable than Hooker." . 

His relationship to the village people was a pleasant one ; 
he treated them, one and all, with courtesy, when he came in 
contact with them, and took an interest in all relating to 
their welfare. Some time after he came to live at Down he 
helped to found a Friendly Club, and served as treasurer for 
thirty years. He took much trouble about the club, keep- 


ing its accounts with minute and scrupulous exactness, and 
taking pleasure in its prosperous condition. Every Whit- 
Monday the club used to march round with band and banner, 
and paraded on the lawn in front of the house. There he met 
them, and explained to them their financial position in a little 
speech seasoned with a few well-worn jokes. He was often 
unwell enough to make even this little ceremony an exertion, 
but I think he never failed to meet them. 

He was also treasurer of the Coal Club, which gave him some 
work, and he acted for some years as a County Magistrate. 

With regard to my father's interest in the affairs of the 
village, Mr. Brodie Innes has been so good as to give me 
his recollections : 

"On my becoming Vicar of Down in 1846, we became 
friends, and so continued till his death. His conduct towards 
me and my family was one of unvarying kindness, and we 
repaid it by warm affection. 

" In all parish matters he was an active assistant ; in 
matters connected with the schools, charities, and other busi- 
ness, his liberal contribution was ever ready, and in the 
differences which at times occurred in that, as in other 
parishes, I was always sure of his support. He held that 
where there was really no important objection, his assistance 
should be given to the clergyman, who ought to know the 
circumstances best, and was chiefly responsible." 

His intercourse with strangers was marked with scrupulous 
and rather formal politeness, but in fact he had few oppor- 
tunities of meeting strangers. 

Dr. Lane has described * how, on the rare occasion of my 
father attending a lecture (Dr. Sanderson's) at the Royal Insti- 
tution, " the whole assembly . . . rose to their feet to wel- 
come him," while he seemed " scarcely conscious that such an 
outburst of applause could possibly be intended for himself." 

* Lecture by Dr. B. W." Richardson, in St. George's Hall, Oct. 22, 1882. 


The quiet life he led at Down made him feel confused in a 
large society ; for instance, at the Royal Society's soirtes he 
felt oppressed by the numbers. The feeling that he ought to 
know people, and the difficulty he had in remembering faces 
in his latter years, also added to his discomfort on such 
occasions. He did not realise that he would be recognised 
from his photographs, and I remember his being uneasy at 
being obviously recognised by a stranger at the Crystal Palace 

I must say something of his manner of working: one 
characteristic of it was his respect for time ; he never forgot 
how precious it was. This was shown, for instance, in the 
way in which he tried to curtail his holidays ; also, and more 
clearly, with respect to shorter periods. He would often say, 
that saving the minutes was the way to get work done ; he 
showed this love of saving the minutes in the difference he felt 
between a quarter of an hour and ten minutes' work ; he never 
wasted a few spare minutes from thinking that it was not 
worth while to set to work. I was often struck by his way 
of working up to the very limit of his strength, so that he 
suddenly stopped in dictating, with the words, " I believe I 
mustn't do any more." The same eager desire not to lose 
time was seen in his quick movements when at work. I 
particularly remember noticing this when he was making an 
experiment on the roots of beans, which required some care 
in manipulation ; fastening the little bits of card upon the 
roots was done carefully and necessarily slowly, but the in- 
termediate movements were all quick ; taking a fresh bean, 
seeing that the root was healthy, impaling it on a pin, fixing 
it on a cork, and seeing that it was vertical, &c. ; all these 
processes were performed with a kind of restrained eagerness. 
He always gave one the impression of working with pleasure, 
and not with any drag. I have an image, too, of him as he 
recorded the result of some experiment, looking eagerly at 
each root, &c., and then writing with equal eagerness. I 

WORK. 145 

remember the quick movement of his head up and down as 
he looked from the object to the notes. 

He saved a great deal of time through not having to do 
things twice. Although he would patiently go on repeating 
experiments where there was any good to be gained, he could 
not endure having to repeat an experiment which ought, if 
complete care had been taken, to have succeeded the first 
time and this gave him a continual anxiety that the experi- 
ment should not be wasted ; he felt the experiment to be 
sacred, however slight a one it was. He wished to learn as much 
as possible from an experiment, so that he did not confine 
himself to observing the single point to which the experiment 
was directed, and his power of seeing a number of other things 
was wonderful. I do not think he cared for preliminary or 
rough observations intended to serve as guides and to be 
repeated. Any experiment done was to be of some use, and 
in this connection I remember how strongly he urged the 
necessity of keeping the notes of experiments which failed, 
and to this rule he always adhered. 

In the literary part of his work he had the same horror of 
losing time, and the same zeal in what he was doing at the 
moment, and this made him careful not to be obliged unneces- 
sarily to read anything a second time. 

His natural tendency was to use simple methods and 
few instruments. The use of the compound microscope has 
much increased since his youth, and this at the expense of the 
simple one. It strikes us nowadays as extraordinary that 
he should have had no compound microscope when he went 
his Beagle voyage ; but in this he followed the advice of 
Robt. Brown, who was an authority in such matters. He 
always had a great liking for the simple microscope, and 
maintained that nowadays it was too much neglected, and that 
one ought always to see as much as possible with the simple 
before taking to the compound microscope. In one of his 
letters he speaks on this point, and remarks that he always 

VOL. I. L 


suspects the work of a man who never uses the simple 

His dissecting table was a thick board, let into a window 
of the study ; it was lower than an ordinary table, so that 
he could not have worked at it standing; but this, from 
wishing to save his strength, he would not have done in any 
case. He sat at his dissecting-table on a curious low stool 
which had belonged to his father, with a seat revolving on 
a vertical spindle, and mounted on large castors, so that he 
could turn easily from side to side. His ordinary tools, &c., 
were lying about on the table, but besides these a number 
of odds and ends were kept in a round table full of radiating 
drawers, and turning on a vertical axis, which stood close by 
his left side, as he sat at his microscope-table. The drawers 
were labelled, " best tools," " rough tools," " specimens," " pre- 
parations for specimens," &c. The most marked peculiarity 
of the contents of these drawers was the care with which little 
scraps and almost useless things were preserved ; he held 
the well-known belief, that if you threw a thing away you 
were sure to want it directly and so things accumulated. 

If any one had looked at his tools, &c., lying on the table, 
he would have been struck by an air of simpleness, make-shift, 
and oddness. 

At his right hand were shelves, with a number of other odds 
and ends, glasses, saucers, tin biscuit boxes for germinating 
seeds, zinc labels, saucers full of sand, &c., &c. Considering 
how tidy and methodical he was in essential things, it is 
curious that he bore with so many make-shifts : for instance, 
instead of having a box made of a desired shape, and 
stained black inside, he would hunt up something like what 
he wanted and get it darkened inside with shoe-blacking ; 
he did not care to have glass covers made for tumblers in 
which he germinated seeds, but used broken bits of irregular 
shape, with perhaps a narrow angle sticking uselessly out on 
one side. But so much of his experimenting was of a simple 

WORK. 147 

kind, that he had no need for any elaboration, and I think 
his habit in this respect was in great measure due to his 
desire to husband his strength, and not waste it on inessential 

His way of marking objects may here be mentioned. If 
he had a number of things to distinguish, such as leaves, 
flowers, &c., he tied threads of different colours round them. 
In particular he used this method when he had only two 
classes of objects to distinguish ; thus in the case of crossed 
and self-fertilised flowers, one set would be marked with 
black and one with white thread, tied round the stalk of 
the flower. I remember well the look of two sets of cap- 
sules, gathered and waiting to be weighed, counted, &c., 
with pieces of black and of white thread to distinguish the 
trays in which they lay. When he had to compare two 
sets of seedlings, sowed in the same pot, he separated them 
by a partition of zinc-plate ; and the zinc-label, which gave 
the necessary details about the experiment, was always 
placed on a certain side, so that it became instinctive with 
him to know without reading the label which were the 
" crossed " and which the " self-fertilised." 

His love of each particular experiment, and his eager zeal 
not to lose the fruit of it, came out markedly in these cross- 
ing experiments in the elaborate care he took not to make 
any confusion in putting capsules into wrong trays, &c., &c. 
I can recall his appearance as he counted seeds under the 
simple microscope with an alertness not usually characterising 
such mechanical work as counting. I think he personified 
each seed as a small demon trying to elude him by getting 
into the wrong heap, or jumping away altogether ; and this 
gave to the work the excitement of a game. He had great 
faith in instruments, and I do not think it naturally occurred 
to him to doubt the accuracy of a scale or measuring 
glass, &c. He was astonished when we found that one of his 
micrometers differed from the other. He did not require any 

L 2 


great accuracy in most of his measurements, and had not 
good scales ; he had an old three-foot rule, which was the 
common property of the household, and was constantly being 
borrowed, because it was the only one which was certain to 
be in its place unless, indeed, the last borrower had forgotten 
to put it back. For measuring the height of plants, he had 
a seven-foot deal rod, graduated by the village carpenter. 
Latterly he took to using paper scales graduated to milli- 
meters. For small objects he used a pair of compasses and 
an ivory protractor. It was characteristic of him that he took 
scrupulous pains in making measurements with his somewhat 
rough scales. A trifling example of his faith in authority 
is that he took his " inch in terms of millimeters " from an old 
book, in which it turned out to be inaccurately given. He 
had a chemical balance which dated from the days when he 
worked at chemistry with his brother Erasmus. Measure- 
ments of capacity were made with an apothecary's measuring 
glass : I remember well its rough look and bad graduation. 
With this, too, I remember the great care he took in getting 
the fluid-line on to the graduation. I do not mean by this 
account of his instruments that any of his experiments suffered 
from want of accuracy in measurement, I give them as 
examples of his simple methods and faith in others faith at 
least in instrument-makers, whose whole trade was a mystery 
to him. 

A few of his mental characteristics, bearing especially on 
his mode of working, occur to me. There was one quality of 
mind which seemed to be of special and extreme advantage 
in leading him to make discoveries. It was the power of never 
letting exceptions pass unnoticed. Everybody notices a fact 
as an exception when it is striking or frequent, but he had a 
special instinct for arresting an exception. A point appa- 
rently slight and unconnected with his present work is passed 
over by many a man almost unconsciously with some half- 
considered explanation, which is in fact no explanation. It 

WORK. 149 

was just these things that he seized on to make a start from. 
In a certain sense there is nothing special in this procedure, 
many discoveries being made by means of it. I only mention 
it because, as I watched him at work, the value of this power 
to an experimenter was so strongly impressed upon me. 

Another quality which was shown in his experimental work, 
was his power of sticking to a subject ; he used almost to 
apologise for his patience, saying that he could not bear to 
be beaten, as if this were rather a sign ot weakness on his 
part. He often quoted the saying, " It's dogged as does it ;" 
and I think doggedness expresses his frame of mind almost 
better than perseverance. Perseverance seems hardly to 
express his almost fierce desire to force the truth to reveal 
itself. He often said that it was important that a man should 
know the right point at which to give up an inquiry. And 
I think it was his tendency to pass this point that inclined 
him to apologise for his perseverance, and gave the air of 
doggedness to his work. 

He often said that no one could be a good observer unless 
he was an active theoriser. This brings me back to what 
I said about his instinct for arresting exceptions : it was as 
though he were charged with theorising power ready to flow 
into any channel on the slightest disturbance, so that no fact, 
however small, could avoid releasing a stream of theory, and 
thus the fact became magnified into importance. In this way 
it naturally happened that many untenable theories occurred 
to him ; but fortunately his richness of imagination was 
equalled by his power of judging and condemning the thoughts 
that occurred to him. He was just to his theories, and did 
not condemn them unheard ; and so it happened that he 
was willing to test what would seem, to most people not at 
all worth testing. These rather wild trials he called " fool's 
experiments," and enjoyed extremely. As an example I 
may mention that finding the cotyledons of Biophytum to be 
highly sensitive to vibrations of the table, he fancied that they 


might perceive the vibrations of sound, and therefore made 
me play my bassoon close to a plant* 

The love of experiment was very strong in him, and I can 
remember the way he would say, " I shan't be easy till I have 
tried it," as if an outside force were driving him. He enjoyed 
experimenting much more than work which only entailed 
reasoning, and when he was engaged on one of his books 
which required argument and the marshalling of facts, he felt 
experimental work to be a rest or holiday. Thus, while 
working upon the ' Variations of Animals and Plants,' in 
1 860-6 1, he made out the fertilisation of Orchids, and thought 
himself idle for giving so much time to them. It is inte- 
resting to think that so important a piece of research should 
have been undertaken and largely worked out as a pastime 
in place of more serious work. The letters to Hooker of this 
period contain expressions such as, " God forgive me for 
being so idle ; I am quite sillily interested in the work." The 
intense pleasure he took in understanding the adaptations for 
fertilisation is strongly shown in these letters. He speaks in 
one of his letters of his intention of working at Drosera as a 
rest from the ' Descent of Man.' He has described in his. 
4 Recollections ' the strong satisfaction he felt in solving the 
problem of heterostylism. And I have heard him mention 
that the Geology of South America gave him almost more 
pleasure than anything else. It was perhaps this delight in 
work requiring keen observation that made him value praise 
given to his observing powers almost more than appreciation, 
of his other qualities. 

For books he had no respect, but merely considered them 
as tools to be worked with. Thus he did not bind them, 
and even when a paper book fell to pieces from use, as hap- 
pened to Miiller's ' Befruchtung,' he preserved it from complete 
dissolution by putting a metal clip over its back. In the same 

* This is not so much an example small cause, but only of his wish to. 
of superabundant theorising from a test the most improbable ideas. 

WORK. 151 

way he would cut a heavy book in half, to make it more con- 
venient to hold. He used to boast that he had made Lyell 
publish the second edition of one of his books in two volumes, 
instead of in one, by telling him how he had been obliged to 
cut it in half. Pamphlets were often treated even more 
severely than books, for he would tear out, for the sake of 
saving room, all the pages except the one that interested him. 
The consequence of all this was, that his library was not 
ornamental, but was striking from being so evidently a working 
collection of books. 

He was methodical in his manner of reading books and 
pamphlets bearing on his own work. He had one shelf on 
which were piled up the books he had not yet read, and 
another to which they were transferred after having been 
read, and before being catalogued. He would often groan 
over his unread books, because there were so many which he 
knew he should never read. Many a book was at once trans- 
ferred to the other heap, either marked with a cypher at the 
end, to show that it contained no marked passages, or in- 
scribed, perhaps, " not read," or " only skimmed." The books 
accumulated in the " read " heap until the shelves overflowed, 
and then, with much lamenting, a day was given up to the 
cataloguing. He disliked this work, and as the necessity 
of undertaking the work became imperative, would often 
say, in a voice of despair, " We really must do these books 

In each book, as he read it, he marked passages bearing on 
his work. In reading a book or pamphlet, &c., he made 
pencil-lines at the side of the page, often adding short 
remarks, and at the end made a list of the pages marked. 
When it was to be catalogued and put away, the marked 
pages were looked at, and so a rough abstract of the book 
was made. This abstract would perhaps be written under 
three or four headings on different sheets, the facts being 
sorted out and added to the previously collected facts in 


different subjects. He had other sets of abstracts arranged, 
not according to subject, but according to periodical. When 
collecting facts on a large scale, in earlier years, he used to 
read through, and make abstracts, in this way, of whole series 
of periodicals. 

In some of his early letters he speaks of filling several 
note-books with facts for his book on species ; but it was 
certainly early that he adopted his plan of using portfolios, 
as described in the ' Recollections.' * My father and M. de 
Candolle were mutually pleased to discover that they had 
adopted the same plan of classifying facts. De Candolle 
describes the method in his ' Phytologie,' and in his sketch 
of my father mentions the satisfaction he felt in seeing it in 
action at Down. 

Besides these portfolios, of which there are some dozens 
full of notes, there are large bundles of MS. marked " used " 
and put away. He felt the value of his notes, and had a 
horror of their destruction by fire. I remember, when some 
alarm of fire had happened, his begging me to be especially 
careful, adding very earnestly, that the rest of his life would 
be miserable if his notes and books were to be destroyed. 

He shows the same feeling in writing about the loss of a 
manuscript, the purport of his words being, " I have a copy, 
or the less would have killed me." In writing a book he 
would spend much time and labour in making a skeleton or 
plan of the whole, and in enlarging and sub-classing each 
heading, as described in his ' Recollections.' I think this 
careful arrangement of the plan was not at all essential to the 
building up of his argument, but for its presentment, and for 
the arrangement of his facts. In his 'Life of Erasmus 
Darwin,' as it was first printed in slips, the growth of the 
book from a skeleton was plainly visible. The arrangement 

* The racks in which the port- chapter, in the recess at the right- 
folios were placed are shown in the hand side of the fire-place, 
illustration at the head of the 

WORK. 153 

was altered afterwards, because it was too formal and cate- 
gorical, and seemed to give the character of his grandfather 
rather by means of a list of qualities than as a complete 

It was only within the last few years that he adopted a plan 
of writing which he was convinced suited him best, and which 
is described in the ' Recollections ' ; namely, writing a rough 
copy straight off without the slightest attention to style. It 
was characteristic of him that he felt unable to write with 
sufficient want of care if he used his best paper, and thus it 
was that he wrote on the backs of old proofs or manuscript. 
The rough copy was then reconsidered, and a fair copy was 
made. For this purpose he had foolscap paper ruled at wide 
intervals, the lines being needed to prevent him writing so 
closely that correction became difficult. The fair copy was 
then corrected, and was recopied before being sent to the 
printers. The copying was done by Mr. E. Norman, who 
began this work many years ago when village schoolmaster at 
Down. My father became so used to Mr. Norman's hand- 
writing, that he could not correct manuscript, even when 
clearly written out by one of his children, until it had been 
recopied by Mr. Norman. The MS., on returning from Mr. 
Norman, was once more corrected, and then sent off to the 
printers. Then came the work of revising and correcting the 
proofs, which my father found especially wearisome. 

It was at this stage that he first seriously considered the 
style of what he had written. When this was going on he 
usually started some other piece of work as a relief. The 
correction of slips consisted in fact of two processes, for the 
corrections were first written in pencil, and then re-considered 
and written in ink. 

When the book was passing through the "slip" stage he 
was glad to have corrections and suggestions from others. 
Thus my mother looked over the proofs of the 'Origin.' In 
some of the later works my sister, Mrs. Litchfield, did much 


of the correction. After my sister's marriage perhaps most 
of the work fell to my share. 

My sister, Mrs. Litchfield, writes : 

" This work was very interesting in itself, and it was inex- 
pressibly exhilarating to work for him. He was always so 
ready to be convinced that any suggested alteration was an 
improvement, and so full of gratitude for the trouble taken. 
I do not think that he ever used to forget to tell me what im- 
provement he thought I had made, and he used almost to 
excuse himself if he did not agree with any correction. I 
think I felt the singular modesty and graciousness of his 
nature through thus working for him in a way I never should 
otherwise have done. 

" He did not write with ease, and was apt to invert his 
sentences both in writing and speaking, putting the qualifying 
clause before it was clear what it was to qualify. He corrected 
a great deal, and was eager to express himself as well as he 
possibly could." 

Perhaps the commonest corrections needed were of obscur- 
ities due to the omission of a necessary link in the reasoning 
something which he had evidently omitted through familiarity 
with the subject. Not that there was any fault in the sequence 
of the thoughts, but that from familiarity with his argument 
he did not notice when the words failed to reproduce his 
thought. He also frequently put too much matter into one 
sentence, so that it had to be cut up into two. 

On the whole, I think the pains which my father took over 
the literary part of the work was very remarkable. He often 
laughed or grumbled at himself for the difficulty which he 
found in writing English, saying, for instance, that if a bad 
arrangement of a sentence was possible, he should be sure to 
adopt it He once got much amusement and satisfaction out 
of the difficulty which one of the family found in writing a. 
short circular. He had the pleasure of correcting and laughing 

STYLE. I 5 5 

at obscurities, involved sentences, and other defects, and 
thus took his revenge for all the criticism he had himself 
to bear with. He used to quote with astonishment Miss 
Martineau's advice to young authors, to write straight off 
and send the MS. to the printer without correction. But in 
some cases he acted in a somewhat similar manner. When 
a sentence got hopelessly involved, he would ask himself, 
"now what do you want to say?" and his answer written 
down, would often disentangle the confusion. 

His style has been much praised ; on the other hand, at 
least one good judge has remarked to me that it is not a good 
style. It is, above all things, direct and clear ; and it is cha- 
racteristic of himself in its simplicity, bordering on nai'vete, 
and in its absence of pretence. He had the strongest disbelief 
in the common idea that a classical scholar must write good 
English ; indeed, he thought that the contrary was the case. 
In writing, he sometimes showed the same tendency to strong 
expressions as he did in conversation. Thus in the ' Origin,* 
p. 440, there is a description of a larval cirripede, " with 
six pairs of beautifully constructed natatory legs, a pair of 
magnificent compound eyes, and extremely complex antennae." 
We used to laugh at him for this sentence, which we com- 
pared to an advertisement. This tendency to give himself 
up to the enthusiastic turn of his thought, without fear of 
being ludicrous, appears elsewhere in his writings. 

His courteous and conciliatory tone towards his reader is 
remarkable, and it must be partly this quality which revealed 
his personal sweetness of character to so many who had 
never seen him. I have always felt it to be a curious fact, 
that he who has altered the face of Biological Science, 
and is in this respect the chief of the moderns, should 
have written and worked in so essentially a non-modern 
spirit and manner. In reading his books one is reminded 
of the older naturalists rather than of the modern school 
of writers. He was a Naturalist in the old sense of 


the word, that is, a man who works at many branches of 
science, not merely a specialist in one. Thus it is, that, 
though he founded whole new divisions of special subjects 
such as the fertilisation of flowers, insectivorous plants, 
dimorphism, &c. yet even in treating these very subjects 
he does not strike the reader as a specialist. The reader 
feels like a friend who is being talked to by a courteous 
gentleman, not like a pupil being lectured by a professor. 
The tone of such a book as the ' Origin ' is charming, and 
almost pathetic ; it is the tone of a man who, convinced of the 
truth of his own views, hardly expects to convince others ; it 
is just the reverse of the style of a fanatic, who wants to 
force people to believe. The reader is never scorned for any 
amount, of doubt which he may be imagined to feel, and his 
scepticism is treated with patient respect. A sceptical reader, 
or perhaps even an unreasonable reader, seems to have been 
generally present to his thoughts. It was in consequence of 
this feeling, perhaps, that he took much trouble over points 
which he imagined would strike the reader, or save him 
trouble, and so tempt him to read. 

For the same reason he took much interest in the illus- 
trations of his books, and I think rated rather too highly 
their value. The illustrations for his earlier books were 
drawn by professional artists. This was the case in 'Animals 
and Plants,' the ' Descent of Man/ and the ' Expression of 
the Emotions.' On the other hand, ' Climbing Plants,' 
1 Insectivorous Plants,' the ' Movements of Plants,' and 
' Forms of Flowers,' were, to a large extent, illustrated by 
some of his children my brother George having drawn by 
far the most. It was delightful to draw for him, as he was 
enthusiastic in his praise of very moderate performances. I 
remember xvell his charming manner of receiving the drawings 
of one of his daughters-in-law, and how he would finish his 

words of praise by saying, " Tell A , Michael Angelo is 

nothing to it." Though he praised so generously, he always 

STYLE. 157 

looked closely at the drawing, and easily detected mistakes or 

He had a horror of being lengthy, and seems to have been 
really much annoyed and distressed when he found how the 
' Variations of Animals and Plants ' was growing under his 
hands. I remember his cordially agreeing with 'Tristram 
Shandy's ' words, " Let no man say, ' Come, I'll write a 
duodecimo.' " 

His consideration for other authors was as marked a cha- 
racteristic as his tone towards his reader. He speaks of 
all other authors as persons deserving of respect. In cases 

where, as in the case of 's experiments on Drosera, he 

thought lightly of the author, he speaks of him in such a 
way that no one would suspect it. In other cases he treats 
the confused writings of ignorant persons as though the fault 
lay with himself for not appreciating or understanding them. 
Besides this general tone of respect, he had a pleasant way of 
expressing his opinion on the value of a quoted work, or his 
obligation for a piece of private information. 

His respectful feeling was not only morally beautiful, but 
was I think of practical use in making him ready to consider 
the ideas and observations of all manner of people. He used 
almost to apologise for this, and would say that he was 
at first inclined to rate everything too highly. 

It was a great merit in his mind that, in spite of having so 
strong a respectful feeling towards what he read, he had the 
keenest of instincts as to whether a man was trustworthy 
or not. He seemed to form a very definite opinion as to the 
accuracy of the men whose books he read ; and made use of 
this judgment in his choice of facts for use in argument or 
as illustrations. I gained the impression that he felt this 
power of judging of a man's trustworthiness to be of much 

He had a keen feeling of the sense of honour that ought to 
reign among authors, and had a horror of any kind of laxness 


in quoting. He had a contempt for the love of honour and 
glory, and in his letters often blames himself for the pleasure 
he took in the success of his books, as though he were depart- 
ing from his ideal a love of truth and carelessness about fame. 
Often, when writing to Sir J. Hooker what he calls a boasting 
letter, he laughs at himself for his conceit and want of modesty. 
There is a wonderfully interesting letter which he wrote to 
my mother bequeathing to her, in case of his death, the care 
of publishing the manuscript of his first essay on evolution. 
This letter seems to me full of the intense desire that his 
theory should succeed as a contribution to knowledge, and 
apart from any desire for personal fame. He certainly had 
the healthy desire for success which a man of strong feelings 
ought to have. But at the time of the publication of the 
4 Origin ' it is evident that he was overwhelmingly satisfied 
with the adherence of such men as Lyell, Hooker, Huxley, 
and Asa Gray, and did not dream of or desire any such 
wide and general fame as he attained to. 

Connected with his contempt for the undue love of fame, 
was an equally strong dislike of all questions of priority. The 
letters to Lyell, at the time of the ' Origin,' show the anger he 
felt with himself for not being able to repress a feeling of dis- 
appointment at what he thought was Mr. Wallace's forestalling 
of all his years of work. His sense of literary honour comes 
out strongly in these letters ; and his feeling about priority 
is again shown in the admiration expressed in his ' Recollec- 
tions ' of Mr. Wallace's self-annihilation. 

His feeling about reclamations, including answers to attacks 
and all kinds of discussions, was strong. It is simply ex- 
pressed in a letter to Falconer (1863), "If I ever felt angry 
towards you, for whom I have a sincere friendship, I should 
begin to suspect that I was a little mad. I was very sorry 
about your reclamation, as I think it is in every case a mistake 
and should be left to others. Whether I should so act myself 
under provocation is a different question." It was a feeling 


partly dictated by instinctive delicacy, and partly by a strong 
sense of the waste of time, energy, and temper thus caused. 
He said that he owed his determination not to get into dis- 
cussions* to the advice of Lyell, advice which he trans- 
mitted to those among his friends who were given to paper 

If the character of my father's working life is to be under- 
stood, the conditions of ill-health, under which he worked, 
must be constantly borne in mind. He bore his illness with 
such uncomplaining patience, that even his children can 
hardly, I believe, realise the extent of his habitual suf- 
fering. In their case the difficulty is heightened by the 
fact that, from the days of their earliest recollections, they 
saw him in constant ill-health, and saw him, in spite of it, 
full of pleasure in what pleased them. Thus, in later life, 
their perception of what he endured had to be disentangled 
from the impression produced in childhood by constant 
genial kindness under conditions of unrecognised difficulty. 
No one indeed, except my mother, knows the full amount oi 
suffering he endured, or the full amount of his wonderful 
patience. For all the latter years of his life she never left 
him for a night ; and her days were so planned that all his 
resting hours might be shared with her. She shielded him 
from every avoidable annoyance, and omitted nothing that 
might save him trouble, or prevent him becoming overtired, 
or that might alleviate the many discomforts of his ill- 
health. I hesitate to speak thus freely of a thing so sacred 
as the life-long devotion which prompted all this constant 

* He departed from his rule in p. 554), in which case he afterwards 

his "Note on the Habits of the regretted that he had not remained 

Pampas Woodpecker, Colaptes silent. His replies to criticisms, 

campestris" ' Proc. Zool. Soc.,' in the later editions of the ' Origin,' 

1870, p. 705 : also in a letter pub- can hardly be classed as infractions 

lished in the 'Athenaeum' (1863, of his rule. 


and tender care. But it is, I repeat, a principal feature of 
his life, that for nearly forty years he never knew one day of 
the health of ordinary men, and that thus his life was one 
long struggle against the weariness and strain of sickness. 
And this cannot be told without speaking of the one condition 
which enabled him to bear the strain and fight out the 
struggle to the end. 

C 161 ) 


THE earliest letters to which I have access are those written 
by my father when an undergraduate at Cambridge. 

The history of his life, as told in his correspondence, must 
therefore begin with this period. 

VOL. I. M 

( 163 ) 



[MY father's Cambridge life comprises the time between the 
Lent Term, 1828, when he came up as a Freshman, and the 
end of the May Term, 1831, when he took his degree and left 
the University. 

It appears from the College books, that my father " admissus 
est pensionarius minor sub Magistro Shaw" on Oct. 15, 1827. 
He did not come into residence till the Lent Term, 1828, so 
that, although he passed his examination in due season, he 
was unable to take his degree at the usual time, the beginning 
of the Lent Term, 1831. In such a case a man usually 
took his degree before Ash- Wednesday, when he was called 
" Baccalaureus ad Diem Cinerum," and ranked with the B.A.'s 
of the year. My father's name, however, occurs in the list of 
Bachelors " ad Baptistam," or those admitted between Ash- 
Wednesday and St. John Baptist's Day (June 24th) ; * he 
therefore took rank among the Bachelors of 1832. 

He " kept " for a term or two in lodgings, over Bacon the 
tobacconist's ; not, however, over the shop in the Market Place, 
now so well known to Cambridge men, but in Sidney Street. 
For the rest of his time he had pleasant rooms on the south 
side of the first court of Christ's.! 

What determined the choice of this college for his brother 

* " On Tuesday last Charles Dar- floor, on the west side of the middle 

win, of Christ's College, was admit- staircase. A medallion (given by 

ted B.A." Cambridge Chronicle, my brother) has recently been let 

Friday, April 29, 1831. into the wall of the sitting-room. 

t The rooms are on the first 

VOL. I. N 

164 CAMBRIDGE. /KTAT. 19-22. 

Erasmus and himself I have no means of knowing. Erasmus 
the elder, their grandfather, had been at St. John's, and this 
college might have been reasonably selected for them, being 
connected with Shrewsbury School. But the life of an under- 
graduate at St. John's seems, in those days, to have been a 
troubled one, if I may judge from the fact that a relative 
of mine migrated thence to Christ's to escape the harassing 
discipline of the place. A story told by Mr. Herbert * illus- 
trates the same state of things : 

" In the beginning of the October Term of 1830, an incident 
occurred which was attended with somewhat disagreeable, 
though ludicrous consequences to myself. Darwin asked me 
to take a long walk with him in the Fens, to search for some 
natural objects he was desirous of having. After a very long, 
fatiguing day's work, we dined together, late in the evening, 
at his rooms in Christ's College ; and as soon as our dinner 
was over we threw ourselves into easy chairs and fell sound 
asleep. I was the first to awake, about three in the morning, 
when, having looked at my watch, and knowing the strict 
rule of St. John's, which required men in statu pupillari to 
come into college before midnight, I rushed homeward at the 
utmost speed, in fear of the consequences, but hoping that 
the Dean would accept the excuse as sufficient when I told 
him the real facts. He, however, was inexorable, and refused 
to receive my explanations, or any evidence I could bring ; 
and although during my undergraduateship I had never been 
reported for coming late into College, now, when I was a hard- 
working B.A., and had five or six pupils, he sentenced me to 
confinement to the College walls for the rest of the term. 
Darwin's indignation knew no bounds, and the stupid injustice 
and tyranny of the Dean raised not only a perfect ferment 
among my friends, but was the subject of expostulation from 
some of the leading members of the University." 

My father seems to have found no difficulty in living at 
* See footnote, p. 49. 


peace with all men in and out of office at Lady Margaret's 
other foundation. The impression of a contemporary of my 
father's is that Christ's in their day was a pleasant, fairly quiet 
college, with some tendency towards " horsiness " ; many of 
the men made a custom of going to Newmarket during the 
races, though betting was not a regular practice. In this they 
were by no means discouraged by the Senior Tutor, Mr. 
Shaw, who was himself generally to be seen on the Heath on 
these occasions. There was a somewhat high proportion of 
Fellow-Commoners, eight or nine, to sixty or seventy Pen- 
sioners, and this would indicate that it was not an unpleasant 
college for men with money to spend and with no great love 
of strict discipline. 

The way in which the service was conducted in chapel 
shows that the Dean, at least, was not over zealous. I have 
heard my father tell how at evening chapel the Dean used to 
read alternate verses of the Psalms, without making even a 
pretence of waiting for the congregation to take their share. 
And when the Lesson was a lengthy one, he would rise and 
go on with the Canticles after the scholar had read fifteen or 
twenty verses. 

It is curious that my father often spoke of his Cambridge 
life as if it had been so much time wasted, forgetting that, 
although the set studies of the place were barren enough for 
him, he yet gained in the highest degree the best advantages 
of a University life the contact with men and an opportunity 
for his mind to grow vigorously. It is true that he valued 
at its highest the advantages which he gained from associat- 
ing with Professor Henslow and some others, but he seemed 
to consider this as a chance outcome of his life at Cambridge, 
not an advantage for which Alma Mater could claim any 
credit. One of my father's Cambridge friends was the late 
Mr. J. M. Herbert, County Court Judge for South Wales, 
from whom I was fortunate enough to obtain some notes 
which help us to gain an idea of how my father impressed 

N 2 

166 CAMBRIDGE. /1-TAT. Ip-22. 

his contemporaries. Mr. Herbert writes : " I think it was in 
the spring of 1828 that I first met Darwin, either at my 
cousin Whitley's rooms in St. John's, or at the rooms of some 
other of his old Shrewsbury schoolfellows, with many of 
whom I was on terms of great intimacy. But it certainly was 
in the summer of that year that our acquaintance ripened 
into intimacy, when we happened to be together at Barmouth, 
for the Long Vacation, reading with private tutors, he with 
Butterton of St. John's, his Classical and Mathematical Tutor, 
and I with Yate of St. John's." 

The intercourse between them practically ceased in 1831, 
when my father said good-bye to Herbert at Cambridge, on 
starting on his Beagle voyage. I once met Mr. Herbert, 
then almost an old man, and I was much struck by the 
evident warmth and freshness of the affection with which he 
remembered my father. The notes from which I quote end with 
this warm-hearted eulogium : " It would be idle for me to speak 
of his vast intellectual powers . . . but I cannot end this cur- 
sory and rambling sketch without testifying, and I doubt not 
all his surviving college friends would concur with me, that 
he was the most genial, warm-hearted, generous, and affec- 
tionate of friends ; that his sympathies were with all that was 
good and true ; and that he had a cordial hatred for every- 
thing false, or vile, or cruel, or mean, or dishonourable. He 
was not only great, but pre-eminently good, and just, and 

Two anecdotes told by Mr. Herbert show that my father's 
feeling for suffering, whether of man or beast, was as strong 
in him as a young man as it was in later years : " Before he 
left Cambridge he told me that he had made up his mind not 
to shoot any more ; that he had had two days' shooting at his 
friend's, Mr. Owen of Woodhouse ; and that on the second 
day, when going over some of the ground they had beaten 
on the day before, he picked up a bird not quite dead, 
but lingering from a shot it had received on the pre- 


vious day ; and that it had made and left such a painful 
impression on his mind, that he could not reconcile it to his 
conscience to continue to derive pleasure from a sport which 
inflicted such cruel suffering." 

To realise the strength of the feeling that led to this re- 
solve, we must remember how passionate was his love of 
sport. We must recall the boy shooting his first snipe,* and 
trembling with excitement so that he could hardly reload his 
gun. Or think of such a sentence as, " Upon my soul, it is 
only about a fortnight to the ' First,' then if there is a bliss 
on earth that is it." f 

Another anecdote told by Mr. Herbert illustrates again his 
tenderness of heart : 

" When at Barmouth, he and I went to an exhibition of 
' learned dogs.' In the middle of the entertainment one of 
the dogs failed in performing the trick his master told him 
to do. On the man reproving him, the dog put on a most 
piteous expression, as if in fear of the whip. Darwin seeing 
it, asked me to leave with him, saying, ' Come along, I can't 
stand this any longer ; how those poor dogs must have been 

It is curious that the same feeling recurred to my father 
more than fifty years afterwards, on seeing some perform- 
ing dogs at the Westminster Aquarium ; on this occasion 
he was reassured by the manager telling him that the dogs 
were taught more by reward than by punishment. Mr. Herbert 
goes on : " It stirred one's inmost depth of feeling to hear 
him descant upon, and groan over, the horrors of the slave 
trade, or the cruelties to which the suffering Poles were sub- 
jected to at Warsaw. . . . These, and other like proofs have 
left on my mind the conviction that a more humane or 
tender-hearted man never lived." 

* ' Recollections,' p. 34. 

f Letter from C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

163 CAMBRIDGE. -1-TAT. IQ-22. 

His old college friends agree in speaking with affectionate 
warmth of his pleasant, genial temper as a young man. From 
what they have been able to tell me, I gain the impression of 
a young man overflowing with animal spirits leading a varied 
healthy life not over-industrious in the set studies of the 
place, but full of other pursuits, which were followed with 
a rejoicing enthusiasm. Entomology, riding, shooting in 
the fens, suppers and card-playing, music at King's Chapel, 
engravings at the Fitzwilliam Museum, walks with Professor 
Henslow all combined to fill up a happy life. He seems to 
have infected others with his enthusiasm. Mr. Herbert relates 
how, during the same Barmouth summer, he was pressed into 
the service of "the science" as my father called collecting 
beetles. They took their daily walks together among the 
hills behind Barmouth, or boated in the Mawddach estuary, 
or sailed to Sarn Badrig to land there at low water, or went 
fly-fishing in the Cors-y-gedol lakes. "On these occasions 
Darwin cntomologised most industriously, picking up creatures 
as he walked along, and bagging everything which seemed 
worthy of being pursued, or of further examination. And 
very soon he armed me with a bottle of alcohol, in which 
I had to drop any beetle which struck me as not of a common 
kind. I performed this duty with some diligence in my 
constitutional walks ; but alas ! my powers of discrimination 
seldom enabled me to secure a prize the usual result, on his 
examining the contents of my bottle, being an exclamation, 
4 Well, old Chcrbury ' * (the nickname he gave me, and by 
which he usually addressed me), 'none of these will do.'" 
Again, the Rev. T. Butler, who was one of the Barmouth 
reading-party in 1828, says : " He inoculated me with a taste 
for Botany which has stuck by me all my life." 

Archdeacon Watkins, another old college friend of my 
father's, remembers him unearthing beetles in the willows 
* No doubt in allusion to the title of Lord Herbert of Cherbury. 


between Cambridge and Grantchester, and speaks of a certain 
beetle the remembrance of whose name is " Crux major." * 
How enthusiastically must my father have exulted over this 
beetle to have impressed its name on a companion so that he 
remembers it after half a century ! Archdeacon Watkins goes 
on : " I do not forget the long and very interesting conversa- 
tions that we had about Brazilian scenery and tropical 
vegetation of all sorts. Nor do I forget the way and the 
vehemence with which he rubbed his chin when he got ex- 
cited on such subjects, and discoursed eloquently of lianas, 
orchids, &c." 

He became intimate with Henslow, the Professor of 
Botany, and through him with some other older members 
of the University. " But," Mr. Herbert writes, " he always 
kept up the closest connection with the friends of his own 
standing; and at our frequent social gatherings at breakfast, 
wine or supper parties he was ever one of the most cheerful, 
the most popular, and the most welcome." 

My father formed one of a club for dining once a week, 
called the Gourmet f Club, the members, besides himself and 
Mr. Herbert (from whom I quote), being Whitley of St. John's, 
now Honorary Canon of Durham ; J Heaviside of Sidney, now 
Canon of Norwich ; Lovett Cameron of Trinity, now vicar of 
Shoreham ; Blane of Trinity, who held a high post during the 
Crimean war ; H. Lowe (afterwards Sherbrooke) of Trinity 
Hall ; and F. Watkins of Emmanuel, now Archdeacon of York. 
The origin of the club's name seems already to have become 
involved in obscurity. Mr. Herbert says that it was chosen 
in derision of another " set of men who called themselves by 
a long Greek name signifying ' fond of dainties,' but who 
falsified their claim to such a designation by their weekly 
practice of dining at some roadside inn, six miles from 

* PanagcEiis crux-major. % Formerly Reader in Natural 

t Mr. Herbert mentions the Philosophy at Durham University, 
.name as ' The Glutton Club.' Brother of Lord Sherbrooke. 

170 CAMBRIDGE. /liTAT. ICj-22. 

Cambridge, on mutton chops or beans and bacon." Another 
old member of the club tells me that the name arose because 
the members were given to making experiments on "birds 
and beasts which were before unknown to human palate." 
He says that hawk and bittern were tried, and that their zeal 
broke down over an old brown owl, " which was indescrib- 
able." At any rate, the meetings seemed to have been 
successful, and to have ended with " a game of mild vingt- 

Mr. Herbert gives an amusing account of the musical 
examinations described by my father in his ' Recollections.' 
Mr. Herbert speaks strongly of his love of music, and adds, 
"What gave him the greatest delight was some grand symphony 
or overture of Mozart's or Beethoven's, with their full har- 
monies." On one occasion Herbert remembers " accompany- 
ing him to the afternoon service at King's, when we heard a 
very beautiful anthem. At the end of one of the parts, which 
was exceedingly impressive, he turned round to me and 
said, with a deep sigh, ' How's your backbone ?" He often 
spoke of a feeling of coldness or shivering in his back on 
hearing beautiful music. 

Besides a love of music, he had certainly at this time 
a love of fine literature ; and Mr. Cameron tells me that 
he used to read Shakespeare to my father in his rooms at 
Christ's, who took much pleasure in it. He also speaks of 
his " great liking for first-class line engravings, especially 
those of Raphael Morghen and Miiller ; and he spent hours 
in the Fitzwilliam Museum in looking over the prints in that 

My father's letters to Fox show how sorely oppressed he 
felt by the reading for an examination : " I am reading very 
hard, and have spirits for nothing. I actually have not stuck 
a beetle this term." His despair over mathematics must 
have been profound, when he expressed a hope that Fox's 
silence is due to " your being ten fathoms deep in the Mathe- 

W. D. FOX. I/I 

matics ; and if you arc, God help you, tor so am I, only with 
this difference, I stick fast in the mud at the bottom, and 
there I shall remain." Mr. Herbert says : " He had, I imagine, 
no natural turn for mathematics, and he gave up his mathe- 
matical reading before he had mastered the first part of 
algebra, having had a special quarrel with Surds and the 
Binomial Theorem." 

We get some evidence from my father's letters to Fox of his 
intention of going into the Church. " I am glad," he writes,* 
" to hear that you are reading divinity. I should like to know 
what books you are reading, and your opinions about them ; 
you need not be afraid of preaching to me prematurely." 
Mr. Herbert's sketch shows how doubts arose in my father's 
mind as to the possibility of his taking Orders. He writes, 
"We had an earnest conversation about going into Holy 
Orders ; and I remember his asking me, with reference to 
the question put by the Bishop in the ordination service, 
' Do you trust that you are inwardly moved by the Holy 
Spirit, &c.,' whether I could answer in the affirmative, and on 
my saying I could not, he said, ' Neither can I, and therefore 
I cannot take orders.' " This conversation appears to have 
taken place in 1829, and if so, the doubts here expressed 
must have been quieted, for in May 1830, he speaks of having 
some thoughts of reading divinity with Henslow. 

The greater number of the following letters are addressed 
by my father to his cousin, William Darwin Fox. Mr. Fox's 
relationship to my father is shown in the pedigree given in 
Chapter I. The degree of kinship appears to have remained 
a problem to my father, as he signs himself in one letter 

3 V Their friendship was, in fact, due to their being 

undergraduates together. My father's letters show clearly 
enough how genuine the friendship was. In after years, dis- 
tance, large families, and ill-health on both sides, checked the 

* March 18, 1829. 

172 i "A Mil RIDGE. ^TAT. I -22. [1828. 

intercourse ; but a warm feeling of friendship remained. The 
correspondence was never quite dropped and continued till 
Mr. Fox's death in 1880. Mr. Fox took orders, and worked 
as a country clergyman until forced by ill-health to leave 
his living in Delamcre Forest. His love of natural history 
remained strong, and he became a skilled fancier of many 
kinds of birds, &c. The index to ' Animals and Plants,' and 
my father's later correspondence, show how much help he 
received from his old College friend.] 

C. Darwin to J. M. Herbert. 

Saturday Evening 

[September 14, 1828].* 


I am about to fulfil my promise of writing to you, 
but I am sorry to add there is a very selfish motive at the 
bottom. I am going to ask you a great favour, and you 
cannot imagine how much you will oblige me by procuring 
some more specimens of some insects which I dare say I can 
describe. In the first place, I must inform you that I have 
taken some of the rarest of the British Insects, and their being 
found near Barmouth, is quite unknown to the Entomological 
world : I think I shall write and inform some of the crack 

But now for business. Several more specimens, if you 
can procure them without much trouble, of the following 
insects : The violet-black coloured beetle, found on Craig 
Storm, t under stones, also a large smooth black one very 
like it ; a bluish metallic-coloured dung-beetle, which is very 
common on the hill-sides ; also, if you -would be so very kind 
as to cross the ferry, and you will find a great number under 

* The postmark being Derby f The top of the hill immediately 
seems to show that the letter was behind Barmouth was called Craig- 
written from his cousin, W. D. Storm, a hybrid Cambro-English 
Fox's house, Osmaston, near word. 


the stones on the waste land of a long, smooth, jet-black beetle 
(a great many of these) ; also, in the same situation, a very 
small pinkish insect, with black spots, with a curved thorax 
projecting beyond the head ; also, upon the marshy land over 
the ferry, near the sea, under old sea-weed, stones, &c., you 
will find a small yellowish transparent beetle, with two or four 
blackish marks on the back. Under these stones there are two 
.sorts, one much darker than the other ; the lighter-coloured 
is that which I want. These last two insects are excessively 
rare, and you will really extremely oblige me by taking all 
this trouble pretty soon. Remember me most kindly to 
Butler, tell him of my success, and I dare say both of you will 
easily recognise these insects. I hope his caterpillars go on 
well. I think many of the Chrysalises are well worth keeping. 
I really am quite ashamed [of] so long a letter all about my 
own concerns ; but do return good for evil, and send me a 
long account of all your proceedings. 

In the first week I killed seventy-five head of game a 
very contemptible number but there are very few birds. I 
killed, however, a 'brace of black game. Since then I have 
been staying at the Fox's, near Derby ; it is a very pleasant 
house, and the music meeting went off very well. I want to 
hear how Yates likes his gun, and what use he has made of it. 

If the bottle is not large you can buy another for me, 
and when you pass through Shrewsbury you can leave these 
treasures, and I hope, if you possibly can, you will stay a day 
or two with me, as I hope I need not say how glad I shall be 
to see you again. Fox remarked what deuced good-natured 
fellows your friends at Barmouth must be ; and if I did not 
Tcnow that you and Butler were so, I would not think of giving 
you so much trouble. 

Believe me, my dear Herbert, 
Yours, most sincerely, 


Remember me to all friends. 

174 CAMBRIDGE. /KTAT. 19-22. [1829. 

[In the following January we find him looking forward with 
pleasure to the beginning of another year of his Cambridge 
life : he writes to Fox 

" I waited till to-day for the chance of a letter, but 
I will wait no longer. I must most sincerely and cordially 
congratulate you on having finished all your labours. I think 
your place a very good one considering by how much you 
have beaten many men who had the start of you in reading. 
I do so wish I were now in Cambridge (a very selfish wish, 
however, as I was not with you in all your troubles and 
miserj-), to join in all the glory and happiness, which dangers 
gone by can give. How we would talk, walk, and entomolo- 
gise! Sappho should be the best of bitches, and Dash, of 
dogs : then should be ' peace on earth, good will to men,' 
which, by the way, I always think the most perfect descrip- 
tion of happiness that words can give."] 

C. Danuin to W. D. Fox. 

Cambridge, Thursday [February 26, 1829]. 

When I arrived here on Tuesday I found to my great 
grief and surprise, a letter on my table which I had written to 
you about a fortnight ago, the stupid porter never took the 
trouble of getting the letter forwarded. I suppose you have 
been abusing me for a most ungrateful wretch ; but I am sure 
you will pity me now, as nothing is so vexatious as having 
written a letter in vain. 

Last Thursday I left Shrewsbury for London, and stayed 
there till Tuesday, on which I came down here by the ' Times.' 
The first two days I spent entirely with Mr. Hope,* and did 
little else but talk about and look at insects ; his collection is 
most magnificent, and he himself is the most generous of 
entomologists ; he has given me about 160 new species, and 
* Founder of the Chair of Zoology at Oxford. 


actually often wanted to give me the rarest insects of which 
he had only two specimens. He made many civil speeches, 
and hoped you will call on him some time with me, whenever 
we should happen to be in London. He greatly compliments 
our exertions in Entomology, and says we have taken a won- 
derfully great number of good insects. On Sunday I spent 
the day with Holland, who lent me a horse to ride in the 
Park with. 

On Monday evening I drank tea with Stephens ; * his 
cabinet is more magnificent than the most zealous entomolo- 
gist could dream of ; he appears to be a very good-humoured 
pleasant little man. Whilst in town I went to the Royal 
Institution, Linnean Society, and Zoological Gardens, and 
many other places where naturalists are gregarious. If you 
had been with me, I think London would be a very delightful 
place ; as things were, it was much pleasanter than I could 
have supposed such a dreary wilderness of houses to be. 

I shot whilst in Shrewsbury a Dundiver (female Goo- 
sander, as I suppose you know). Shaw has stuffed it, and 
when I have an opportunity I will send it to Osmaston. 
There have been shot also five Waxen Chatterers, three ot 
which Shaw has for sale ; would you like to purchase a 
specimen? I have not yet thanked you for your last very 
long and agreeable letter. It would have been still more 
agreeable had it contained the joyful intelligence that you 
were coming up here ; my two solitary breakfasts have 
already made me aware how very very much I shall miss you. 

Believe me, 

My dear old Fox, 

Most sincerely yours, 


* J. F. Stephens, author of 'A Manual of British Coleoptera,' 1839, 
and other works. 

176 CAMBRIDGE. >ETAT. IQ-22. [1829. 

[Later on in the Lent term he writes to Fox : 
" I am leading a quiet everyday sort of a life ; a little of 
Gibbon's History in the morning, and a good deal of Van 
John in the evening ; this, with an occasional ride with Simcox 
and constitutional with Whitley, makes up the regular routine 
of my days. I see a good deal both of Herbert and Whitley, 
and the more I see of them increases every day the respect 
I have for their excellent understandings and dispositions. 
They have been giving some very gay parties, nearly sixty 
men there both evenings."] 

C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

Christ's College [Cambridge], April I [1829]. 

In your letter to Holden you are pleased to observe 
"that of all the blackguards you ever met with I am the 
greatest." Upon this observation I shall make no remarks, ex- 
cepting that I must give you all due credit for acting on it 
most rigidly. And now I should like to know in what one 
particular are you less of a blackguard than I am ? You idle 
old wretch, why have you not answered my last letter, which 
I am sure I forwarded to Clifton nearly three weeks ago ? If 
I was not really very anxious to hear what you are doing, I 
should have allowed you to remain till you thought it worth 
while to treat me like a gentleman. And now having vented 
my spleen in scolding you, and having told you, what you 
must know, how very much and how anxiously I want to 
hear how you and your family are getting on at Clifton, the 
purport of this letter is finished. If you did but know how 
often I think of you, and how often I regret your absence, 
I am sure I should have heard from you long enough ago. 

I find Cambridge rather stupid, and as I know scarcely any 
one that walks, and this joined with my lips not being quite 
so well, has reduced me to a sort of hybernation. ... I have 

1829.] CAMBRIDGE. 177 

caught Mr. Harbour letting have the first pick of the 

beetles ; accordingly we have made our final adieus, my part 
in the affecting scene consisted in telling him he was a d d 
rascal, and signifying I should kick him down the stairs if 
ever he appeared in my rooms again. It seemed altogether 
mightily to surprise the young gentleman. I have no news 
to tell you ; indeed, when a correspondence has been broken 
off like ours has been, it is difficult to make the first start 
again. Last night there was a terrible fire at Linton, eleven 
miles from Cambridge. Seeing the reflection so plainly in 
the sky, Hall, Woodyeare, Turner, and myself thought we 
would ride and see it. We set out at half-past nine, and rode 
like incarnate devils there, and did not return till two in the 
morning. Altogether it was a most awful sight. I cannot 
conclude without telling you, that of all the blackguards 
I ever met with, you are the greatest and the best. 


C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

[Cambridge, Thursday, April 23, 1829.] 

I have delayed answering your last letter for these 
few days, as I thought that under such melancholy circum- 
stances my writing to you would be probably only giving you 
trouble. This morning I received a letter from Catherine 
informing me of that event,* which, indeed, from your letter, 
I had hardly dared to hope would have happened otherwise. 
I feel most sincerely and deeply for you and all your family ; 
but at the same time, as far as any one can, by his own good 
principles and religion, be supported under such a misfortune, 
you, I am assured, will know where to look for such support. 
And after so pure and holy a comfort as the Bible affords, 
I am equally assured how useless the sympathy of all friends 
* The death of Fox's sister, Mrs. Bristovve. 

178 CAMBRIDGE. /ETAT. IQ-22. [1829. 

must appear, although it be as heartfelt and sincere, as I hope 
you believe me capable of feeling. At such a time of deep 
distress I will say nothing more, excepting that I trust your 
father and Mrs. Fox bear this blow as well as, under such 
circumstances, can be hoped for. 

I am afraid it will be a long time, my dear Fox, before 
we meet ; till then, believe me at all times, 

Yours most affectionately, 


C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

Shrewsbury, Friday [July 4, 1829]. 


I should have written to you before only that whilst 
our expedition lasted I was too much engaged, and the con- 
clusion was so unfortunate, that I was too unhappy to write 
to you till this week's quiet at home. The thoughts of 
Woodhousc next week has at last given me courage to relate 
my unfortunate case. 

I started from this place about a fortnight ago to take an 
entomological trip with Mr. Hope through all North Wales ; 
and Barmouth was our first destination. The two first days I 
went on pretty well, taking several good insects ; but for the 
rest of that week my lips became suddenly so bad,* and I 
myself not very well, that I was unable to leave the room, 
and on the Monday I retreated with grief and sorrow back 
again to Shrewsbury. The first two days I took some good 
insects. . . . But the days that I was unable to go out, Mr. 
Hope did wonders .... and to-day I have received another 
parcel of insects from him, such Colymbetes, such Carabi, and 
such magnificent Elaters (two species of the bright scarlet 
sort). I am sure you will properly sympathise with my 
unfortunate situation : I am determined I will go over the 
* Probably with eczema, from which he often suffered. 


same ground that he does before autumn comes, and if working 

hard will procure insects I will bring home a glorious stock. 


My dear Fox, 

Yours most sincerely, 


C, Darwin to W. D, Fox, 

Shrewsbury, July 18, 1829. 

I am going to Maer next week in order to entomologise, 
and shall stay there a week, and for the rest of this summer 
1 intend to lead a perfectly idle and wandering life. . . . 
You see I am much in the same state that you are, with this 
difference, you make good resolutions and never keep them ; 
I never make them, so cannot keep them ; it is all very well 
writing in this manner, but I must read for my Little-go. 
Graham smiled and bowed so very civilly, when he told me 
that he was one of the six appointed to make the examination 
stricter, and that they were determined this would make it a 
very different thing from any previous examination, that from 
all this I am sure it will be the very devil to pay amongst all 
idle men and entomologists. Erasmus, we expect home in a 
few weeks' time : he intends passing next winter in Paris. Be 
sure you order the two lists of insects published by Stephens, 
one printed on both sides, and the other only on one ; you 
will find them very useful in many points of view. 

Dear old Fox, yours, 


C. Darwin to W. D. Fox, 

Christ's College, Thursday [October 16, 1829]. 

I am afraid you will be very angry with me for not 
having written during the Music Meeting, but really I was 
VOL. I. O 

ISO CAMBRIDGE. ,ETAT. Ip-22. [1830. 

worked so hard that I had no time ; I arrived here on Monday 
and found my rooms in dreadful confusion, as they have been 
taking up the floor, and you may suppose that I have had 
plenty to do for these two days. The Music Meeting * 
the most glorious thing I ever experienced ; and as for 
Malibran, words cannot praise her enough, she is quite the 
most charming person I ever saw. We had extracts out of 
several of the best operas, acted in character, and you cannot 
imagine how very superior it made the concerts to any I ever 
heard before. J. de Begnis f acted ' II Fanatico ' in character ; 
being dressed up an extraordinary figure gives a much greater 
effect to his acting. He kept the whole theatre in roars of 
laughter. I liked Madame Blasis very much, but nothing 
will do after Malibran, who sung some comic songs, and [a] 
person's heart must have been made of stone not to have lost 
it to her. I lodged very near the Wedgwoods, and lived 
entirely with them, which was very pleasant, and had you 
been there it would have been quite perfect. It knocked me 
up most dreadfully, and I will never attempt again to do 
two things the same day. 

C, Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

[Cambridge] Thursday [March, 1830]. 

I am through my Little-Go ! ! ! I am too much exalted 
to humble myself by apologising for not having written before. 
But I assure you before I went in, and when my nerves were 
in a shattered and weak condition, your injured person often, 
rose before my eyes and taunted me with my idleness. But I 
am through, through, through. I could write the whole sheet 
full with this delightful word. I went in yesterday, and have 

* At Birmingham. f De Begnis's Christian name was Giuseppe. 

1830.] "LITTLE-GO." l8l 

just heard the joyful news. I shall not know for a week 
which class I am in. The whole examination is carried on in 
a different system. It has one grand advantage being over 
in one day. They are rather strict, and ask a wonderful 
number of questions. 

And now I want to know something about your plans ; 
of course you intend coming up here : what fun we will have 
together ; what beetles we will catch ; it will do my heart 
good to go once more together to some of our old haunts. I 
have two very promising pupils in Entomology, and we will 
make regular campaigns into the Fens. Heaven protect the 
beetles and Mr. Jenyns, for we won't leave him a pair in the 
whole country. My new Cabinet is come down, and a gay 
little affair it is. 

And now for the time I think I shall go for a few days 
to town to hear an opera and see Mr. Hope ; not to mention 
my brother also, whom I should have no objection to see. 
If I go pretty soon, you can come afterwards, but if you will 
settle your plans definitely, I will arrange mine, so send me a 
letter by return of post. And I charge you let it be favour- 
able that is to say, come directly. Holden has been 
ordained, and drove the Coach out on the Monday. I do not 
think he is looking very well. Chapman wants you and 
myself to pay him a visit when you come up, and begs to be 
remembered to you. You must excuse this short letter, as 
I have no end more to send off by this day's post. I long to 
see you again, and till then, 

My dear good old Fox, 

Yours most sincerely, 


[In August he was in North Wales and wrote to Fox : 
" I have been intending to write every hour for the last 
fortnight, but really have had no time. I left Shrewsbury 
this day fortnight ago, and have since that time been 

O 2 

182 CAMBRIDGE. /ETAT. 19-22. [1830. 

working from morning to night in catching fish or beetles. 
This is literally the first idle day I have had to myself; for 
on the rainy days I go fishing, on the good ones entomolo- 
gising. You may recollect that for the fortnight previous 
to all this, you told me not to write, so that I hope I have 
made out some sort of defence for not having sooner answered 
your two long and very agreeable letters."] 

C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

[Cambridge, November 5, 1830.] 

I have so little time at present, and am so disgusted 
by reading that I have not the heart to write to anybody. I 
have only written once home since I came up. This must 
excuse me for not having answered your three letters, for 
which I am really very much obliged. . . . 

I have not stuck an insect this term, and scarcely opened 
a case. If I had time I would have sent you the insects which 
I have so long promised ; but really I have not spirits or time 
to do anything. Reading makes me quite desperate ; the 
plague of getting up all my subjects is next thing to intolerable. 
Henslow is my tutor, and a most admirable one he makes ; 
the hour with him is the pleasantest in the whole day. I think 
he is quite the most perfect man I ever met with. I have been 
to some very pleasant parties there this term. His good- 
nature is unbounded. 

I am sure you will be sorry to hear poor old Whitley's 
father is dead. In a worldly point of view it is of great 
consequence to him, as it will prevent him going to the Bar 
for some time. (Be sure answer this :) What did you pay 
for the iron hoop you had made in Shrewsbury ? Because I 
do not mean to pay the whole of the Cambridge man's bill. 
You need not trouble yourself about the Phallus, as I have 
bought up both species. I have heard men say that Henslow 

1831.] DEGREE. 183 

has some curious religious opinions. I never perceived any- 
thing of it, have you? I am very glad to hear, after all 
your delays, you have heard of a curacy where you may 
read all the commandments without endangering your throat. 
I am also still more glad to hear that your mother continues 
steadily to improve. I do trust that you will have no further 
cause for uneasiness. With every wish for your happiness, 
my dear old Fox, 

Believe me yours most sincerely, 


C. DariL'in to W. D. Fox. 

Cambridge, Sunday, January 23, 1831. 

I do hope you will excuse my not writing before I 
took my degree. I felt a quite inexplicable aversion to write 
to anybody. But now I do most heartily congratulate you 
upon passing your examination, and hope you find your 
curacy comfortable. If it is my last shilling (I have not 
many), I will come and pay you a visit. 

I do not know why the degree should make one so 
miserable, both before and afterwards. I recollect you were 
sufficiently wretched before, and I can assure [you] I am now, 
and what makes it the more ridiculous is, I know not what 
about. I believe it is a beautiful provision of nature to make 
one regret the less leaving so pleasant a place as Cambridge ; 
and amongst all its pleasures I say it for once and for all 
none so great as my friendship with you. I sent you a news- 
paper yesterday, in which you will see what a good place [loth] 
I have got in the Poll. As for Christ's, did you ever see such 
a college for producing Captains and Apostles ?* There are no 
men either at Emmanuel or Christ's plucked. Cameron is 

* The " Captain " is at the head the last twelve in the Mathematical 
of the " Poll " : the " Apostles " are Tripos. 

1 84 CAMBRIDGE. jETAT. ig-22. 

gulfed, together with other three Trinity scholars ! My plans 
are not at all settled. I think I shall keep this term, and 
then go and economise at Shrewsbury, return and take my 

A man may be excused for writing so much about himself 
when he has just passed the examination ; so you must excuse 
[me]. And on the same principle do you write a letter 
brimful of yourself and plans. I want to know something 
about your examination. Tell me about the state of your 
nerves ; what books you got up, and how perfect. I take an 
interest about that sort of thing, as the time will come when 
I must suffer. Your tutor, Thompson, begged to be remem- 
bered to you, and so does Whitley. If you will answer this, I 
will send as many stupid answers as you can desire. 

Believe me, dear Fox, 




[IN a letter addressed to Captain Fitz-Roy, before the Beagle 
sailed, my father wrote, " What a glorious day the 4th of 
November* will be to me my second life will then com- 
mence, and it shall be as a birthday for the rest of my life." 

The circumstances which led to this second birth so much 
more important than my father then imagined are connected 
with his Cambridge life, but may be more appropriately told 
in the present chapter. Foremost in the chain of circum- 
stances which led to his appointment to the Beagle, was my 
father's friendship with Professor Henslow. He wrote in a 
pocket-book or diary, which contains a brief record of dates, &c., 
throughout his life : 

" 1831. Christmas. Passed my examination for B.A. degree 
and kept the two following terms. 

" During these months lived much with Professor Henslow, 
often dining with him and walking with him ; became slightly 
acquainted with several of the learned men in Cambridge, 
which much quickened the zeal which dinner parties and 
hunting had not destroyed. 

" In the spring paid Mr. Dawes a visit with Ramsay and 
Kirby, and talked over an excursion to Tenerifife. In the 
spring Henslow persuaded me to think of Geology, and intro- 
duced me to Sedgwick. During Midsummer geologized a 
little in Shropshire. 

The Beagle did not however make her final and successful start until 
December 27. 


"August. Went on Geological tour* by Llangollen, 
Ruthin, Conway, Bangor, and Capel Curig, where I left 
Professor Scdgwick, and crossed the mountain to Barmouth." 

In a letter to Fox (May 1831), my father writes : " I am 
very busy . . . and see a great deal of Henslow, whom I do 
not know whether I love or respect most." His feeling for this 
admirable man is finely expressed in a letter which he wrote 
to Rev. L. Blomefield (then Rev. L. Jenyns), when the latter 
was engaged in his ' Memoir of Professor Henslow ' (published 
1862). The passage f has been made use of in the first of the 
memorial notices written for 'Nature,' and Mr. Romanes 
points out that my father, " while describing the character of 
another, is unconsciously giving a most accurate description 
of his own " : 

" I went to Cambridge early in the year 1828, and soon 
became acquainted, through some of my brother entomolo- 
gists, with Professor Henslow, for all who cared for any branch 
of natural history were equally encouraged by him. Nothing 
could be more simple, cordial, and unpretending than the 
encouragement which he afforded to all young naturalists. I 
soon became intimate with him, for he had a remarkable 
power of making the young feel completely at ease with him ; 
though we were all awe-struck with the amount of his know- 
ledge. Before I saw him, I heard one young man sum up his 
attainments by simply saying that he knew everything. When 
I reflect how immediately we felt at perfect ease \vith a man 
older, and in every way so immensely our superior, I think it 
was as much owing to the transparent sincerity of his cha- 
racter as to his kindness of heart ; and, perhaps, even still 
more, to a highly remarkable absence in him of all self-con- 
sciousness. One perceived at once that he never thought of 

* Mentioned by Sedgwick in his f ' Memoir of the Rev. John 

preface to Sailer's ' Catalogue of Stevens Henslow, M.A.,' by the 

Cambrian and Silurian Fossils,' Rev. Leonard Jenyns. 8vo. Lon- 

1873. don, 1862, p. 51. 


his own varied knowledge or clear intellect, but solely on the 
subject in hand. Another charm, which must have struck 
every one, was that his manner to old and distinguished 
persons and to the youngest student was exactly the same : 
and to all he showed the same winning courtesy. He would 
receive with interest the most trifling observation in any 
branch of natural history ; and however absurd a blunder one 
might make, he pointed it out so clearly and kindly, that one 
left him no way disheartened, but only determined to be 
more accurate the next time. In short, no man could be 
better formed to win the entire confidence of the young, and 
to encourage them in their pursuits. 

" His Lectures on Botany were universally popular, and as 
clear as daylight. So popular were they, that several of the 
older members of the University attended successive courses. 
Once every week he kept open house in the evening, and all 
who cared for natural history attended these parties, which, 
by thus favouring inter-communication, did the same good in 
Cambridge, in a very pleasant manner, as the Scientific 
Societies do in London. At these parties many of the most 
distinguished members of the University occasionally attended ; 
and when only a few were present, I have listened to the 
great men of those days, conversing on all sorts of subjects, 
with the most varied and brilliant powers. This was no small 
advantage to some of the younger men, as it stimulated their 
mental activity and ambition. Two or three times in each 
session he took excursions with his botanical class ; either a 
long walk to the habitat of some rare plant, or in a barge 
down the river to the fens, or in coaches to some more distant 
place, as to Gamlingay, to see the wild lily of the valley, and 
to catch on the heath the rare natter-jack. These excursions 
have left a delightful impression on my mind. He was, on 
such occasions, in as good spirits as a boy, and laughed as 
leartily as a boy at the misadventures of those who chased 
pe splendid swallow-tail butterflies across the broken and 


treacherous fens. He used to pause every now and then and 
lecture on some plant or other object ; and something he 
could tell us on every insect, shell, or fossil collected, for he 
had attended to every branch of natural history. After our 
day's work we used to dine at some inn or house, and most 
jovial we then were. I believe all who joined these excur- 
sions will agree with me that they have left an enduring 
impression of delight on our minds. 

"As time passed on at Cambridge I became very intimate 
with Professor Henslow, and his kindness was unbounded ; 
he continually asked me to his house, and allowed me to 
accompany him in his walks. He talked on all subjects, 
including his deep sense of religion, and was entirely open. 
I owe more than I can express to this excellent man. . . . 

"During the years when I associated so much with Pro- 
fessor Henslow, I never once saw his temper even ruffled. 
He never took an ill-natured view of any one's character, 
though very far from blind to the foibles of others. It always 
struck me that his mind could not be even touched by any 
paltry feeling of vanity, envy, or jealousy. With all this 
equability of temper and remarkable benevolence, there was 
no insipidity of character. A man must have been blind not 
to have perceived that beneath this placid exterior there was 
a vigorous and determined will. When principle came into 
play, no power on earth could have turned him one hair's- 
breadth. . . . 

" Reflecting over his character with gratitude and reverence, 
his moral attributes rise, as they should do in the highest 
character, in pre-eminence over his intellect." 

In a letter to Rev. L. Blomefield (Jenyns), May 24, 1862, 
my father wrote with the same feeli.igs that he had expressed 
in his letters thirty years before : 

" I thank you most sincerely for your kind present of your 
Memoir of Henslow. I have read about half, and it has inte- 
rested me much. I did not think that I could have venerated 


him more than I did ; but your book has even exalted his 
character in my eyes. From turning over the pages of the 
latter half, I should think your account would be invaluable 
to any clergyman who wished to follow poor dear Henslow's 
noble example. What an admirable man he was." 

The geological work mentioned in the quotation from my 
father's pocket-book was doubtless of importance as giving 
him some practical experience, and perhaps of more im- 
portance in helping to give him some confidence in himself. 
In July of the same year, 1831, he was "working like a tiger" 
at Geology, and trying to make a map of Shropshire, but not 
finding it " as easy as I expected." 

In writing to Henslow about the same time, he gives some 
account of his work : 

" I should have written to you some time ago, only I was 
determined to wait for the clinometer, and I am very glad to 
say I think it will answer admirably. I put all the tables in 
my bedroom at every conceivable angle and direction. I will 
venture to say I have measured them as accurately as any 
geologist going could do .... I have been working at so 
many things that I have not got on much with geology. 
I suspect the first expedition I take, clinometer and hammer 
in hand, will send me back very little wiser and a good deal 
more puzzled than when I started. As yet I have only in- 
dulged in hypotheses, but they are such powerful ones that 
I suppose, if they were put into action but for one day, the 
world would come to an end." 

He was evidently most keen to get to work with Sedgwick, 
for he wrote to Henslow : " I have not heard from Professor 
Sedgwick, so I am afraid he will not pay the Severn forma- 
tions a visit. I hope and trust you did your best to urge 

,My father has given in his Recollections some account of 
tKis Tour. 

There too we read of the projected excursion to the 

190 THE APPOINTM1.NT TO Till- ' BEAGLK.' .KTAT. 22. [1831. 

Canaries, of which slight mention occurs in letters to Fox 
and Henslow. 

In April 1831 he writes to Fox : "At present I talk, think, 
and dream of a scheme I have almost hatched of going to the 
Canary Islands. I have long had a wish of seeing tropical 
scenery and vegetation, and, according to Humboldt, Tcneriffe 
is a very pretty specimen." And again in May : " As for my 
Canary scheme, it is rash of you to ask questions ; my other 
friends most sincerely wish me there, I plague them so with 
talking about tropical scenery, &c. Eyton will go next 
summer, and I am learning Spanish." 

Later on in the summer the scheme took more definite 
form, and the date seems to have been fixed for June 1832. 
He got information in London about passage- money, and in 
July was working at Spanish and calling Fox "un gran- 
disimo lebron," in proof of his knowledge of the language ; 
which, however, he found " intensely stupid." But even then 
he seems to have had some doubts about his companions' 
zeal, for he writes to Henslow (July 27, 1831) : " I hope you 
continue to fan your Canary ardour. I read and re-read 
Humboldt ; do you do the same ? I am sure nothing will 
prevent us seeing the Great Dragon Tree." 

Geological work and Teneriffe dreams carried him through 
the summer, till on returning from Barmouth for the sacred 
ist of September, he received the offer of appointment as 
Naturalist to the Beagle. 

The following extract from the pocket-book will be a help 
in reading the letters : 

"Returned to Shrewsbury at end of August. Refused 
offer of voyage. 

"September. Went to Maer, returned with Uncle Jos. to 
Shrewsbury, thence to Cambridge. London. 

" I \th. Went with Captain Fitz-Roy in steamer to Plymou v h 
to see the Beagle. 

1831.] THE OFFER. I$I 

" 2.2nd. Returned to Shrewsbury, passing through Cam- 

" October 2nd. Took leave of my home. Stayed in 

" 2^tk. Reached Plymouth. 

" October and November. These months very miserable. 

" December loth. Sailed, but were obliged to put back. 

" 2ist. Put to sea again, and were driven back. 

" 2jth. Sailed from England on our Circumnavigation."] 

George Peacock * to J. S. Henslow. 

7 Suffolk Street, Pall Mall East [1831]. 


Captain Fitz-Roy is going out to survey the southern 
coast of Tierra del Fuego, and afterwards to visit many of the 
South Sea Islands, and to return by the Indian Archipelago. 
The vessel is fitted out expressly for scientific purposes, com- 
bined with the survey ; it will furnish, therefore, a rare oppor- 
tunity for a naturalist, and it would be a great misfortune that 
it should be lost. 

An offer has been made to me to recommend a proper 
person to go out as a naturalist with this expedition ; he will 
be treated with every consideration. The Captain is a young 
man of very pleasing manners (a nephew of the Duke of 
Grafton), of great zeal in his profession, and who is very 
highly spoken of ; if Leonard Jenyns could go, what treasures 
he might bring home with him, as the ship would be placed 
at his disposal whenever his inquiries made it necessary or 
desirable. In the absence of so accomplished a naturalist, is 
there any person whom you could strongly recommend ? he 
must be such a person as would do credit to our recommenda- 

* Formerly Dean of Ely, and Lowndean Professor of Astronomy at 


tion. Do think of this subject, it would be a serious loss to 

the cause of natural science if this fine opportunity was lost. 
* * 

The ship sails about the end of September. 
Write immediately, and tell me what can be done. 
Believe me, 

My dear Henslow, 

Most truly yours, 


y. S. Hensloiu to C. Darwin. 

Cambridge, August 24, 1831. 


Before I enter upon the immediate business of this 
letter, let us condole together upon the loss of our inestimable 
friend poor Ramsay, of whose death you have undoubtedly 
heard long before this. 

I will not now dwell upon this painful subject, as I shall 
hope to see you shortly, fully expecting that you will eagerly 
catch at the offer which is likely to be made you of a trip to 
Tierra del Fuego, and home by the East Indies. I have been 
asked by Peacock, who will read and forward this to you from 
London, to recommend him a Naturalist as companion to 
Captain Fitz-Roy, employed by Government to survey the 
southern extremity of America. I have stated that I con- 
sider you to be the best qualified person I know of who is 
likely to undertake such a situation. I state this not in the 
supposition of your being a finished naturalist, but as amply 
qualified for collecting, observing, and noting, anything worthy 
to be noted in Natural History. Peacock has the appointment 
at his disposal, and if he cannot find a man willing to take the 
office, the opportunity will probably be lost. Captain Fitz- 
Roy wants a man (I understand) more as a companion than a 
mere collector, and would not take any one, however good a 

1831.] THE OFFER. 

naturalist, who was not recommended to him likewise as a 
gentleman. Particulars of salary, &c., I know nothing. The 
voyage is to last two years, and if you take plenty of books 
with you, anything you please may be done. You will have 
ample opportunities at command. In short, I suppose there 
never was a finer chance for a man of zeal and spirit ; Captain 
Fitz-Roy is a young man. What I wish you to do is instantly 
to come and consult with Peacock (at No. 7 Suffolk Street,. 
Pall Mall East, or else at the University Club), and learn 
further particulars. Don't put on any modest doubts or fears, 
about your disqualifications, for I assure you I think you are 
the very man they are in search of ; so conceive yourself to be 
tapped on the shoulder by your bum-bailiff and affectionate 



The expedition is to sail on 2 5th September (at earliest),, 
so there is no time to be lost. 

G. Peacock to C. Darwin. 


I received Henslow's letter last night too late to for- 
ward it to you by the post ; a circumstance which I do not 
regret, as it has given me an opportunity of seeing Captain 
Beaufort at the Admiralty (the Hydrographer), and of stating 
to him the offer which I have to make to you. He entirely 
approves of it, and you may consider the situation as at your 
absolute disposal. I trust that you will accept it, as it is an 
opportunity which should not be lost, and I look forward with 
great interest to the benefit which our collections of Natural 
History may receive from your labours. 

The circumstances are these : 

Captain Fitz-Roy (a nephew of the Duke of Grafton) sails 
at the end of September, in a ship to survey, in the first 


instance, the South Coast of Tierra del Fuego, afterwards to 
visit the South Sea Islands, and to return by the Indian 
Archipelago to England. The expedition is entirely for 
scientific purposes, and the ship will generally wait your 
leisure for researches in Natural History, &c. Captain Fitz-Roy 
is a public-spirited and zealous officer, of delightful manners, 
and greatly beloved by all his brother officers. He went with 
Captain Beechey,* and spent 1500 in bringing over and edu- 
cating at his own charge three natives of Patagonia. He 
engages at his own expense an artist at 200 a year to go 
with him. You may be sure, therefore, of having a very 
pleasant companion, who will enter heartily into all your 

The ship sails about the end of September, and you must 
lose no time in making known your acceptance to Captain 
Beaufort, Admiralty Hydrographer. I have had a good deal 
of correspondence about this matter [with Henslow ?], who 
feels, in common with myself, the greatest anxiety that you 
should go. I hope that no other arrangements are likely to 
interfere with it. ... 

The Admiralty are not disposed to give a salary, though 
they will furnish you with an official appointment, and every 
accommodation. If a salary should be required, however, I 
am inclined to think that it would be granted. 

Believe me, my dear Sir, 

Very truly yours, 


* For " Beechey ," read " King." Fuegians were brought back from 
I do not find the name Fitz-Roy in Captain King's voyage, 
the list of Beechey's officers. The 

1831.] THE OFFER REFUSED. 195 

C. Darwin to J. S. Henslow. 

Shrewsbury, Tuesday [August 30, 1831]. 

Mr. Peacock's letter arrived on Saturday, and I re- 
ceived it late yesterday evening. As far as my own mind is 
concerned, I should, I think certainly, most gladly have ac- 
cepted the opportunity which you so kindly have offered me. 
But my father, although he does not decidedly refuse me, 
gives such strong advice against going, that I should not be 
comfortable if I did not follow it. 

My father's objections are these : the unfitting me to 
settle down as a Clergyman, my little habit of seafaring, the 
shortness of the time, and the chance of my not suiting Captain 
Fitz-Roy. It is certainly a very serious objection, the very 
short time for all my preparations, as not only body but mind 
wants making up for such an undertaking. But if it had not 
been for my father I would have taken all risks. What was 
the reason that a Naturalist was not long ago fixed upon ? I 
am very much obliged for the trouble you have had about it ; 

there certainly could not have been a better opportunity. 


My trip with Sedgwick answered most perfectly. I did 
not hear of poor Mr. Ramsay's loss till a few days before 
your letter. I have been lucky hitherto in never losing any 
person for whom I had any esteem or affection. My ac- 
quaintance, although very short, was sufficient to give me 
those feelings in a great degree. I can hardly make myself 
believe he is no more. He was the finest character I ever 

Yours most sincerely, 

My dear Sir, 


I have written to Mr. Peacock, and I mentioned that I 
have asked you to send one line in the chance of his not 
VOL. I. P 


getting my letter. I have also asked him to communicate 
with Captain Fitz-Roy. Even if I was to go, my father dis- 
liking would take away all energy, and I should want a good 
stock of that. Again I must thank you, it adds a little to 
the heavy but pleasant load of gratitude which I owe to you. 

C. Danvin to R. W. Darwin. 

[Maer] August 31 [1831]. 


I am afraid I am going to make you again very 
uncomfortable. But, upon consideration, I think you will 
excuse me once again, stating my opinions on the offer of the 
voyage. My excuse and reason is the different way all 
the Wedgwoods view the subject from what you and my 
sisters do. 

I have given Uncle Jos * what I fervently trust is an 
accurate and full list of your objections, and he is kind 
enough to give his opinions on all. The list and his answers 
will be enclosed. But may I beg of you one favour, it will 
be doing me the greatest kindness, if you will send me a 
decided answer, yes or no ? If the latter, I should be most 
ungrateful if I did not implicitly yield to your better judg- 
ment, and to the kindest indulgence you have shown me all 
through my life ; and you may rely upon it I will never 
mention the subject again. If your answer should be yes ; I 
will go directly to Henslow and consult deliberately with him, 
and then come to Shrewsbury. 

The danger appears to me and all the Wedgwoods not 
great The expense can not be serious, and the time I do 
not think, anyhow, would be more thrown away than if I 
stayed at home. But pray do not consider that I am so bent 
on going that I would for one single moment hesitate, if you 
thought that after a short period you should continue un- 

* Josiah Wedgwood. 


I must again state I cannot think it would unfit me here- 
after for a steady life. I do hope this letter will not give you 
much uneasiness. I send it by the car to-morrow morning ; 
if you make up your mind directly will you send me an 
answer on the following day by the same means? If this 
letter should not find you at home, I hope you will answer as 
;soon as you conveniently can. 

I do not know what to say about Uncle Jos' kindness ; I 
never can forget how he interests himself about me. 
Believe me, my dear father, 

Your affectionate son, 


[Here follows the list of objections which are referred to in 
the following letter : 

(i.) Disreputable to my character as a Clergyman here- 

(2.) A wild scheme. 

(3.) That they must have offered to many others before me 
the place of Naturalist. 

(4.) And from its not being accepted there must be some 
serious objection to the vessel or expedition. 

(5.) That I should never settle down to a steady life here- 

(6.) That my accommodations would be most uncomfort- 

(7.) That you \i.e. Dr. Darwin] should consider it as again 
changing my profession. 

(8.) That it would be a useless undertaking.] 

P 2 


Josiah Wedgivood to R. W. Darwin. 

Maer, August 31, 1831. 

[Read this last] * 


I feel the responsibility of your application to me on 
the offer that has been made to Charles as being weighty, but 
as you have desired Charles to consult me, I cannot refuse to 
give the result of such consideration as I have been able to 
[give ?] it 

Charles has put down what he conceives to be your prin- 
cipal objections, and I think the best course I can take will 
be to state what occurs to me upon each of them. 

1. I should not think that it would be in any degree dis- 
reputable to his character as a Clergyman. I should on the 
contrary think the offer honourable to him ; and the pursuit of 
Natural History, though certainly not professional, is very 
suitable to a clergyman. 

2. I hardly know how to meet this objection, but he 
would have definite objects upon which to employ himself, 
and might acquire and strengthen habits of application, and I 
should think would be as likely to do so as in any way in 
which he is likely to pass the next two years at home. 

3. The notion did not occur to me in reading the letters ; 
and on reading them again with that object in my mind I see 
no ground for it. 

4. I cannot conceive that the Admiralty would send out 
a bad vessel on such a service. As to objections to the expe- 
dition, they will differ in each man's case, and nothing would, 
I think, be inferred in Charles's case, if it were known that 
others had objected. 

5. You are a much better judge of Charles's character 
than I can be. If on comparing this mode of spending the 
next two years with the way in which he will probably spend 

* In C. Darwin's writing. 


them, if he does not accept this offer, you think him more 
likely to be rendered unsteady and unable to settle, it is 
undoubtedly a weighty objection. Is it not the case that 
sailors are prone to settle in domestic and quiet habits ? 

6. I can form no opinion on this further than that if 
appointed by the Admiralty he will have a claim to be as 
well accommodated as the vessel will allow. 

7. If I saw Charles now absorbed in professional studies 
I should probably think it would not be advisable to interrupt 
them ; but this is not, and, I think, will not be the case with 
him. His present pursuit of knowledge is in the same track 
as he would have to follow in the expedition. 

8. The undertaking would be useless as regards his pro- 
fession, but looking upon him as a man of enlarged curiosity, 
it affords him such an opportunity of seeing men and things 
as happens to few. 

You will bear in mind that I have had very little time 
for consideration, and that you and Charles are the persons 

who must decide. 

I am, 

My dear Doctor, 

Affectionately yours, 


C. Darwin to y. S. Henslow. 

Cambridge, Red Lion [Sept. 2], 1831. 

I am just arrived ; you will guess the reason. My 
father has changed his mind. I trust the place is not given 

I am very much fatigued, and am going to bed. 
I dare say you have not yet got my second letter. 
How soon shall I come to you in the morning ? Send a 
verbal answer. 

Good night, 




C. Darwin to Miss Susan Darwin. 

Cambridge, Sunday Morning [September 4, 1831]. 


As a letter would not have gone yesterday, I put 
off writing till to-day. I had rather a wearisome journey,, 
but got into Cambridge very fresh. The whole of yesterday 
I spent with Henslow, thinking of what is to be done, and 
that I find is a great deal. By great good luck I know a man 
of the name of Wood, nephew of Lord Londonderry. He is. 
a great friend of Captain Fitz-Roy, and has written to him 
about me. I heard a part of Captain Fitz-Roy's letter, dated 
some time ago, in which he says : " I have a right good set of 
officers, and most of my men have been there before." It 
seems he has been there for the last few years ; he was then 
second in command with the same vessel that he has now 
chosen. He is only twenty-three years old, but [has] seen a 
deal of service, and won the gold medal at Portsmouth. The 
Admiralty say his maps are most perfect. He had choice of 
two vessels, and he chose the smallest. Henslow will give 
me letters to all travellers in town whom he thinks may 
assist me. 

Peacock has sole appointment of Naturalist. The first 
person offered was Leonard Jenyns, who was so near accept- 
ing it that he packed up his clothes. But having [a] living, 
he did not think it right to leave [it] to the great regret of 
all his family. Henslow himself was not very far from, 
accepting it, for Mrs. Henslow most generously, and without 
being asked, gave her consent ; but she looked so miserable 
that Henslow at once settled the point. 


I am afraid there will be a good deal of expense at first 
Henslow is much against taking many things ; it is [the] 
mistake all young travellers fall into. I write as if it was 
settled, but Henslow tells me by no means to make up 
my mind till I have had long conversations with Captains 


Beaufort and Fitz-Roy. Good-bye. You will hear from me 
constantly. Direct 17 Spring Gardens. Tell nobody in 
Shropshire yet. Be sure not. 


I was so tired that evening I was in Shrewsbury that 
I thanked none of you for your kindness half so much as 
I felt. 

Love to my father. 

The reason I don't want people told in Shropshire : in 
case I should not go, it will make it more flat. 

C. Darwin to Miss S. Darwin. 

17 Spring Gardens, Monday 

[September 5, 1831]. 

I have so little time to spare that I have none to waste in 
re-writing letters, so that you must excuse my bringing up 
the other with me and altering it. The last letter was 
written in the morning. In [the] middle of [the] day, Wood 
received a letter from Captain Fitz-Roy, which I must say 
was most straightforward and gentlemanlike, but so much 
against my going, that I immediately gave up the scheme ; 
and Henslow did the same, saying that he thought Peacock 
has acted very ~<.vrong in misrepresenting things so much. 

I scarcely thought of going to town, but here I am ; and 
now for more details, and much more promising ones. 
Captain Fitz-Roy is [in] town, and I have seen him ; it is no 
use attempting to praise him as much as I feel inclined to do, 
for you would not believe me. One thing I am certain, 
nothing could be more open and kind than he was to me. It 
seems he had promised to take a friend with him, who is in 
office and cannot go, and he only received the letter five 
minutes before I came in ; and this makes things much better 
for me, as want of room was one of Fitz-Roy's greatest 
objections. He offers me to go share in everything in his 

202 THE APPOINTMENT TO THE 'BEAiil.i:.' .KTAT. 22. [1831. 

cabin if I like to come, and every sort of accommodation that 
I can have, but they will not be numerous. He says nothing 
would be so miserable for him as having me with him if 
I was uncomfortable, as in a small vessel we must be thrown 
together, and thought it his duty to state everything in the 
worst point of view. I think I shall go on Sunday to 
Plymouth to sec the vessel. 

There is something most extremely attractive in his 
manners and way of coming straight to the point. If I live 
with him, he says I must live poorly no wine, and the 
plainest dinners. The scheme is not certainly so good as 
Peacock describes. Captain Fitz-Roy advises me not [to] 
make up my mind quite yet, but that, seriously, he thinks it 
will have much more pleasure than pain for me. The vessel 
does not sail till the loth of October. It contains sixty men, 
five or six officers, &c., but is a small vessel. It will probably 
be out nearly three years. I shall pay to mess the same as 
[the] Captain does himself, .30 per annum ; and Fitz-Roy 
says if I spend, including my outfitting, .500, it will be 
beyond the extreme. But now for still worse news. The 
round the world is not certain, but the chance most excellent. 
Till that point is decided, I will not be so. And you may 
believe, after the many changes I have made, that nothing 
but my reason shall decide me. 

Fitz-Roy says the stormy sea is exaggerated ; that if I do 
not choose to remain with them, I can at any time get home 
to England, so many vessels sail that way, and that during 
bad weather (probably two months), if I like, I shall be left 
in some healthy, safe and nice country ; that I shall always 
have assistance ; that he has many books, all instruments, 
guns, at my service ; that the fewer and cheaper clothes 
I take the better. The manner of proceeding will just suit 
me. They anchor the ship, and then remain for a fortnight 
at a place. I have made Captain Beaufort perfectly under- 
stand me. He says if I start and do not go round the world, 


I shall have good reason to think myself deceived. I am to 
call the day after to-morrow, and, if possible, to receive more 
certain instructions. The want of room is decidedly the 
most serious objection ; but Captain Fitz-Roy (probably 
owing to Wood's letter) seems determined to make me [as] 
comfortable as he possibly can. I like his manner of pro- 
ceeding. He asked me at once, " Shall you bear being told 
that I want the cabin to myself when I want to be alone ? 
If we treat each other this way, I hope we shall suit ; if not, 
probably we should wish each other at the devil." 

We stop a week at [the] Madeira Islands, and shall see 
most of [the] big cities in South America. Captain Beaufort is 
drawing up the track through the South Sea. I am writing 
in [a] great hurry ; I do not know whether you take interest 
enough to excuse treble postage. I hope I am judging 
reasonably, and not through prejudice, about Captain Fitz- 
Roy ; if so, I am sure we shall suit. I dine with him to-day. 
I could write [a] great deal more if I thought you liked it, and 
I had at present time. There is indeed a tide in the affairs 
of man, and I have experienced it, and I had entirely given it 
up till one to-day. 

Love to my father. Dearest Susan, good-bye. 


C. Darwin to J. S. Henslow. 

London, Monday [Septembers, 1831]. 

Gloria in excelsis is the most moderate beginning I 
can think of. Things are more prosperous than I should 
have thought possible. Captain Fitz-Roy is everything that is 
delightful. If I was to praise half so much as I feel inclined, 
you would say it was absurd, only once seeing him. I think 
he really wishes to have me. He offers me to mess with 
him, and he will take care I have such room as is possible 
But about the cases he says I must limit myself ; but then he 


thinks like a sailor about size. Captain Beaufort says I shall 
be upon the Boards, and then it will only cost me like other 
officers. Ship sails loth of October. Spends a week at 
Madeira Islands ; and then Rio de Janeiro. They all think 
most extremely probable, home by the Indian archipelago ; 
but till that is decided, I will not be so. 

What has induced Captain Fitz-Roy to take a better view 
of the case is, that Mr. Chester, who was going as a friend, 
cannot go, so that I shall have his place in every respect. 

Captain Fitz-Roy has [a] good stock of books, many of 
which were in my list, and rifles, &c., so that the outfit will 
be much less expensive than I supposed. 

The vessel will be out three years. I do not object so 
that my father does not. On Wednesday I have another 
interview with Captain Beaufort, and on Sunday most likely 
go with Captain Fitz-Roy to Plymouth. So I hope you will 
keep on thinking on the subject, and just keep memoranda 
of what may strike you. I will call most probably on 
Mr. Burchell and introduce myself. I am in lodgings at 
17 Spring Gardens. You cannot imagine anything more 
pleasant, kind, and open than Captain Fitz-Roy's manners 
were to me. I am sure it will be my fault if we do not suit. 

What changes I have had. Till one to-day I was building 
castles in the air about hunting foxes in Shropshire, now 
llamas in South America. 

There is indeed a tide in the affairs of men. If you see 
Mr. Wood, remember me very kindly to him. 

My dear Henslow, 

Your most sincere friend, 


Excuse this letter in such a hurry. 

1831.] W. D. FOX. 205 

C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

17 Spring Gardens, London, 

September 6, 1831. 

Your letter gave me great pleasure. You cannot imagine 
how much your former letter annoyed and hurt me.* But, 
thank heaven, I firmly believe that it was my own entire fault 
in so interpreting your letter. I lost a friend the other day, 
and I doubt whether the moral death (as 1 then wickedly 
supposed) of our friendship did not grieve me as much as the 
real and sudden death of poor Ramsay. We have known 
each other too long to need, I trust, any more explanations. 
But I will mention just one thing that on my death-bed, I 
think I could say I never uttered one insincere (which at 
the time I did not fully feel) expression about my regard for 
you. One thing more the sending immediately the insects, 
on my honour, was an unfortunate coincidence. I forgot how 
you naturally would take them. When you look at them 
now, I hope no unkindly feelings will rise in your mind, and 
that you will believe that you have always had in me a 
sincere, and, I will add, an obliged friend. The very many 
pleasant minutes that we spent together in Cambridge rose 
like departed spirits in judgment against me. May we have 
many more such, will be one of my last wishes in leaving 
England. God bless you, dear old Fox. May you always be 

Yours truly, 


I have left your letter behind, so do not know whether I 
direct right. 

* He had misunderstood a letter of Fox's as implying a charge of 

206 THE APPOINTMENT TO THE 'BEAGLE.' yliTAT. 22. [1831. 

C. Darwin to Miss Susan Danvin. 

17 Spring Gardens, Tuesday. 

[September 6, 1831.] 


Again I am going to trouble you. I suspect, if I 
keep on at this rate, you will sincerely wish me at Tierra del 
Fuego, or any other Terra, but England. First I will give 
my commissions. Tell Nancy to make me some twelve 
instead of eight shirts. Tell Edward to send me up in my 
carpet-bag (he can slip the key in the bag tied to some 
string), my slippers, a pair of lightish walking-shoes, my 
Spanish books, my new microscope (about six inches long and 
three or four deep), which must have cotton stuffed inside ; 
my geological compass ; my father knows that ; a little book, 
if I have got it in my bedroom 'Taxidermy.' Ask my 
father if he thinks there would be any objection to my taking 
arsenic for a little time, as my hands are not quite well, and 
I have always observed that if I once get them well, and 
change my manner of living about the same time, they will 
generally remain well. What is the dose ? Tell Edward my 
gun is dirty. What is Erasmus's direction ? Tell me if you 
think there is time to write and to receive an answer before I 
start, as I should like particularly to know what he thinks 
about it. I suppose you do not know Sir J. Mackintosh's 
direction ? 

I write all this as if it was settled, but it is not more than 
it was, excepting that from Captain Fitz-Roy wishing me so 
much to go, and, from his kindness, I feel a predestination I 
shall start. I spent a very pleasant evening with him yester- 
day. He must be more than twenty-three years old ; he 
is of a slight figure, and a dark but handsome edition of 
Mr. Kynaston, and, according to my notions, pre-eminently 
good manners. He is all for economy, excepting on one 
point viz., fire-arms. He recommends me strongly to get a 


case of pistols like his, which cost 60 ! ! and never to go on 
shore anywhere without loaded ones, and he is doubting about 
a rifle ; he says I cannot appreciate the luxury of fresh meat 
here. Of course I shall buy nothing till everything is settled ; 
but I work all day long at my lists, putting in and striking 
out articles. This is the first really cheerful day I have spent 
since I received the letter, and it all is owing to the sort of 
involuntary confidence I place in my beau ideal of a Captain. 

We stop at Teneriffe. His object is to stop at as many 
places as possible. He takes out twenty chronometers, and 
it will be a " sin " not to settle the longitude. He tells me to 
get it down in writing at the Admiralty that I have the free 
choice to leave as soon and whenever I like. I dare say you 
expect I shall turn back at the Madeira ; if I have a morsel of 
stomach left, I won't give up. Excuse my so often troubling 
and writing : the one is of great utility, the other a great 
amusement to me. Most likely I shall write to-morrow. 
Answer by return of post. Love to my father, dearest 


As my instruments want altering, send my things by the 
' Oxonian ' the same night. 

C. Darwin to Miss Susan Darwin. 

London, Friday Morning, September 9, 1831. 


I have just received the parcel. I suppose it was not 
delivered yesterday owing to the Coronation. I am very much 
obliged to my father, and everybody else. Everything is done 
quite right. I suppose by this time you have received my 
letter written next day, and I hope will send off the things. 
My affairs remain in statu quo. Captain Beaufort says I am 
on the books for victuals, and he thinks I shall have no 
difficulty about my collections when I come home. But he is 


too deep a fish for me to make him out. The only thing that 
now prevents me finally making up my mind, is the want of 
certainty about the South Sea Islands ; although morally I 
have no doubt we should go there whether or no it is put in 
the instructions. Captain Fitz-Roy says I do good by plaguing 
Captain Beaufort, it stirs him up with a long pole. Captain 
Fitz-Roy says he is sure he has interest enough (particularly 
if this Administration is not everlasting I shall soon turn 
Tory !), anyhow, even when out, to get the ship ordered home 
by whatever track he likes. From what Wood says, I pre- 
sume the Dukes of Grafton and Richmond interest themselves 
about him. By the way, Wood has been of the greatest use 
to me ; and I am sure his personal introduction of me inclined 
Captain Fitz-Roy to have me. 

To explain things from the very beginning : Captain Fitz- 
Roy first wished to have a Naturalist, and then he seems to have 
taken a sudden horror of the chances of having somebody he 
should not like on board the vessel. He confesses his letter 
to Cambridge was to throw cold water on the scheme. I don't 
think we shall quarrel about politics, although Wood (as 
might be expected from a Londonderry) solemnly warned 
Fitz-Roy that I was a Whig. Captain Fitz-Roy was before 
Uncle Jos., he said, " now your friends will tell you a sea- 
captain is the greatest brute on the face of the creation. I do 
not know how to help you in this case, except by hoping you 
will give me a trial." How one does change ! I actually now 
wish the voyage was longer before we touch land. I feel 
my blood run cold at the quantity I have to do. Everybody 
seems ready to assist me. The Zoological want to make me 
a corresponding member. All this I can construe without 
crossing the Equator. But one friend is quite invaluable, viz. 
a Mr. Yarrell, a stationer, and excellent naturalist* He goes 

* William Yarrcll, well known for born in 1784. He inherited from 
his 'History of British Birds' and his father a newsagent's business, 
* History of British Fishes,' was to which he steadily adhered up to 


to the shops with me and bullies about prices (not that I yet 
buy) : hang me if I give ,60 for pistols. 

Yesterday all the shops were shut, so that I could do 
nothing; and I was child enough to give i is. for an excel- 
lent seat to see the Procession.* And it certainly was very 
well worth seeing. I was surprised that any quantity of gold 
could make a long row of people quite glitter. It was like 
only what one sees in picture-books of Eastern processions. 
The King looked very well, and seemed popular, but there 
was very little enthusiasm ; so little that I can hardly think 
there will be a coronation this time fifty years. 

The Life Guards pleased me as much as anything they 
are quite magnificent ; and it is beautiful to see them clear 
a crowd. You think that they must kill a score at least, 
and apparently they really hurt nobody, but most deucedly 
frighten them. Whenever a crowd was so dense that the 
people were forced off the causeway, one of these six-feet 
gentlemen, on a black horse, rode straight at the place, 
making his horse rear very high, and fall on the thickest 
spot. You would suppose men were made of sponge to see 
them shrink away. 

In the evening there was an illumination, and much 
grander than the one on the Reform Bill. All the principal 
streets were crowded just like a race-ground. Carriages 
generally being six abreast, and I will venture to say not 
going one mile an hour. The Duke of Northumberland learnt 
a lesson last time, for his house was very grand ; much more 
so than the other great nobility, and in much better taste ; 
every window in his house was full of straight lines of brilliant 
lights, and from their extreme regularity and number had a 
beautiful effect. The paucity of invention was very striking, 

his death, " in his 73rd year." He a valued office-bearer of several of 

was a man of a thoroughly amiable the learned Societies. 

and honourable character, and was * The Coronation of William IV. 


crowns, anchors, and " \V. R.'s " were repeated in endless 
succession. The prettiest were gas-pipes with small holes ; 
they were almost painfully brilliant. I have written so 
much about the Coronation, that I think you will have no 
occasion to read the Morning Herald. 

For about the first time in my life I find London very 
pleasant ; hurry, bustle, and noise are all in unison with my 
feelings. And I have plenty to do in spare moments. I 
work at Astronomy, as I suppose it would astound a sailor if 
one did not know how to find Latitude and Longitude. I 
am now going to Captain Fitz-Roy, and will keep [this] letter 
open till evening for anything that may occur. I will give 
you one proof of Fitz-Roy being a good officer all the officers 
arc the same as before ; two-thirds of his crew and [the] eight 
marines who went before all offered to come again, so the 
service cannot be so very bad. The Admiralty have just 
issued orders for a large stock of canister-meat and lemon- 
juice, &c. &c. I have just returned from spending a long day 
with Captain Fitz-Roy, driving about in his gig, and shopping. 
This letter is too late for to-day's post. You may consider it 
settled that I go. Yet there is room for change if any unto- 
ward accident should happen ; this I can see no reason to 
expect I feel convinced nothing else will alter my wish of 
going. I have begun to order things. I have procured a 
case of good strong pistols and an excellent rifle for .50, 
there is a saving ; a good telescope, with compass, 5, and 
these are nearly the only expensive instruments I shall want. 
Captain Fitz-Roy has everything. I never saw so (what I 
should call, he says not) extravagant a man, as regards him- 
self, but as economical towards me. How he did order 
things ! His fire-arms will cost .400 at least. I found the 
carpet bag when I arrived all right, and much obliged. I do 
not think I shall take any arsenic ; shall send partridges to 
Mr. Yarrell ; much obliged. Ask Edward to bargain with 
Clemson to make for my gun two spare hammers or cocks, 

1831.] VISIT TO PLYMOUTH. 211 

two main-springs, two sere-springs, four nipples or plugs I 
mean one for each barrel, except nipples, of which there must 
be two for each, all of excellent quality, and set about them 
immediately ; tell Edward to make inquiries about prices. I 
go on Sunday per packet to Plymouth, shall stay one or two 
days, then return, and hope to find a letter from you ; a few 
days in London ; then Cambridge, Shrewsbury, London, Ply- 
mouth, Madeira, is my route. It is a great bore my writing 
so much about the Coronation ; I could fill another sheet. 
I have just been with Captain King, Fitz-Roy's senior officer 
last expedition ; he thinks that the expedition will suit me. 
Unasked, he said Fitz-Roy's temper was perfect. He sends 
his own son with him as midshipman. The key of my 
microscope was forgotten ; it is of no consequence. Love 

to all. 


C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

17 Spring Gardens (and here I shall remain till I start) 

[September 19, 1831]. 

I returned from my expedition to see the Beagle at 
Plymouth on Saturday, and found your most welcome lette; 
on my table. It is quite ridiculous what a very long period 
these last twenty days have appeared to me, certainly much 
more than as many weeks on ordinary occasions ; this will 
account for my not recollecting how much I told you of my 


But on the whole it is a grand and fortunate opportunity ; 
there will be so many things to interest me fine scenery and 
an endless occupation and amusement in the different branches 
of Natural History ; then again navigation and meteorology 
will amuse me on the voyage, joined to the grand requisite of 

VOL. I. Q 


there being a pleasant set of officers, and, as far as I can 
judge, this is certain. On the other hand there is very con- 
siderable risk to one's life and health, and the leaving for so 
very long a time so many people whom I dearly love, is often- 
times a feeling so painful that it requires all my resolution to 
overcome it. But everything is now settled, and before the 
2Oth of October I trust to be on the broad sea. My objection 
to the vessel is its smallness, which cramps one so for room 
for packing my own body and all my cases, &c. &c. As to its 
safety, I hope the Admiralty are the best judges ; to a lands- 
man's eye she looks very small. She is a ten-gun three- 
masted brig, but, I believe, an excellent vessel. So much for 
my future plans, and now for my present I go to-night by 
the mail to Cambridge, and from thence, after settling my 
affairs, proceed to Shrewsbury (most likely on Friday 23rd, 
or perhaps before) ; there I shall stay a few days, and be in 
London by the 1st of October, and start for Plymouth on 
the 9th. 

And now for the principal part of my letter. I do not 
know how to tell you how very kind I feel your offer of 
coming to see me before I leave England. Indeed I should 
like it very much ; but I must tell you decidedly that I shall 
have very little time to spare, and that little time will be 
almost spoilt by my having so much to think about ; and 
secondly, I can hardly think it worth your while to leave your 
parish for such a cause. But I shall never forget such 
generous kindness. Now I know you will act just as you 
think right ; but do not come up for my sake. Any time is 
the same for me. I think from this letter you will know as 
much of my plans as I do myself, and will judge accordingly 
the where and when to write to me. Every now and then I 
have moments of glorious enthusiasm, when I think of the 
date and cocoa-trees, the palms and ferns so lofty and beauti- 
ful, everything new, everything sublime. And if I live to see 
years in after life, how grand must such recollections be ! Do 

2831.] BAROMETERS. 213 

you know Humboldt ? (if you don't, do so "directly.) With 
what intense pleasure he appears always to look back on the 
days spent in the tropical countries. I hope when you next 
write to Osmaston, [you will] tell them my scheme, and give 
them my kindest regards and farewells. 

Good-bye, my dear Fox 

Yours ever sincerely, 


C. Darwin to R. Fits-Roy. 

17 Spring Gardens [October 17 ? 1831]. 


Very many thanks for your letter ; it has made me 
most comfortable, for it would have been heart-breaking to 
have left anything quite behind, and I never should have 
thought of sending things by some other vessel. This letter 
will, I trust, accompany some talc. I read your letter without 
attending to the name. But I have now procured some from 
Jones, which appears very good, and I will send it this evening 
by the mail. You will be surprised at not seeing me proprid 
persond instead of my handwriting. But I had just found 
out that the large steam-packet did not intend to sail on 
Sunday, and I was picturing to myself a small, dirty cabin, 
with the proportion of 39-4Oths of the passengers very sick, 
when Mr. Earl came in and told me the Beagle would not sail 
till the beginning of November. This, of course, settled the 
point ; so that I remain in London one week more. I shall 
then send heavy goods by steamer and start myself by the 
coach on Sunday evening. 

Have you a good set of mountain barometers ? Several 
great guns in the scientific world have told me some points 
in geology to ascertain which entirely depend on their relative 
height. If you have not a good stock, I will add one more 
to the list. I ought to be ashamed to trouble you so much, 

Q 2 


but will you send one line to inform me? I am daily be- 
coming more anxious to be off, and, if I am so, you must be 
in a perfect fever. What a glorious day the 4th of November 
will be to me ! My second life will then commence, and it 
shall be as a birthday for the rest of my life. 

Believe me, dear Fitz-Roy, 

Yours most sincerely, 


Monday. I hope I have not put you to much incon- 
venience by ordering the room in readiness. 

C. Danvin to J. S. Hensloiv. 

Devonport, November 15, 1831. 


The orders are come down from the Admiralty, and 
everything is finally settled. We positively sail the last day 
of this month, and I think before that time the vessel will be 
ready. She looks most beautiful, even a landsman must 
admire her. We all think her the most perfect vessel ever 
turned out of the Dockyard. One thing is certain, no vessel 
has been fitted out so expensively, and with so much care. 
Everything that can be made so is of mahogany, and nothing 
can exceed the neatness and beauty of all the accommoda- 
tions. The instructions are very general, and leave a great 
deal to the Captain's discretion and judgment, paying a sub- 
stantial as well as a verbal compliment to him. 

* * * 

No vessel ever left England with such a set of Chrono- 
meters, viz. twenty-four, all very good ones. In short, every- 
thing is well, and I have only now to pray for the sickness to 
moderate its fierceness, and I shall do very well. Yet I 
should not call it one of the very best opportunities for natural 
history that has ever occurred. The absolute want of room is 
an evil that nothing can surmount. I think L. Jenyns did 

1831.] DEVONPORT. 215 

very wisely in not coming, that is judging from my own 
feelings, for I am sure if I had left college some few years, or 
been those years older, I never could have endured it. The 
officers (excepting the Captain) are like the freshest fresh- 
men, that is in their manners, in everything else widely dif- 
ferent. Remember me most kindly to him, and tell him if 
ever he dreams in the night of palm-trees, he may in the 
morning comfort himself with the assurance that the voyage 
would not have suited him. 

I am much obliged for your advice, de MatJiematicis. I 
suspect when I am struggling with a triangle, I shall often 
wish myself in your room, and as for those wicked sulky surds, 
I do not know what I shall do without you to conjure them. 
My time passes away very pleasantly. I know one or two 
pleasant people, foremost of whom is Mr. Thunder-and-light- 
ning Harris,* whom I dare say you have heard of. My chief 
employment is to go on board the Beagle, and try to look as 
much like a sailor as I can. I have no evidence of having 
taken in man, woman or child. 

I am going to ask you to do one more commission, and I 
trust it will be the last. When I was in Cambridge, I wrote 
to Mr. Ash, asking him to send my College account to my 
father, after having subtracted about 30 for my furniture. 
This he has forgotten to do, and my father has paid the 
bill, and I want to have the furniture-money transmitted to 
my father. Perhaps you would be kind enough to speak to 
Mr. Ash. I have cost my father so much money, I am quite 
ashamed of myself. 

I will write once again before sailing, and perhaps you 
will write to me before then. 

Remember me to Professor Sedgwick and Mr. Peacock. 
Believe me, yours affectionately, 


* William Snow Harris, the Electrician. 


C. Darwin to J. S. Hcnslaw. 

Devonport, December 3, 1831. 


It is now late in the evening, and to-night I am going 
to sleep on board. On Monday we most certainly sail, so 
you may guess in what a desperate state of confusion we are 
all in. If you were to hear the various exclamations of the 
officers, you would suppose we had scarcely had a week's 
notice. I am just in the same way taken all aback, and in 
such a bustle I hardly know what to do. The number of things 
to be done is infinite. I look forward even to sea-sickness 
\vith something like satisfaction, anything must be better than 
this state of anxiety. I am very much obliged for your last 
kind and affectionate letter. I always like advice from you,, 
and no one whom I have the luck to know is more capable of 
giving it than yourself. Recollect, when you write, that I am 
a sort of protfgt of yours, and that it is your bounden duty 
to lecture me. 

I will now give you my direction : it is at first, Rio ; but 
if you will send me a letter on the first Tuesday (when the 
packet sails) in February, directed to Monte Video, it will give 
me very great pleasure ; I shall so much enjoy hearing a little 
Cambridge news. Poor dear old Alma Mater I I am a very 
worthy son in as far as affection goes. I have little more to> 
write about .... I cannot end this without telling you how 
cordially I feel grateful for the kindness you have shown me 
during my Cambridge life. Much of the pleasure and utility 
which I may have derived from it is owing to you. I long for 
the time when we shall again meet, and till then believe me,, 
my dear Henslow, 

Your affectionate and obliged friend, 


Remember me most kindly to those who take any interest 
in me. 




"THERE is a natural good-humoured energy in his letters just like 
himself." From a letter of Dr. R. W. Darwin's to Prof. Henslow. 

[THE object of the Beagle voyage is briefly described in my 
father's 'Journal of Researches,' p. I, as being "to complete 
the Survey of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, commenced 
under Captain King in 1826 to 1830; to survey the shores 
of Chile, Peru, and some islands in the Pacific ; and to 
carry a chain of chronometrical measurements round the 

The Beagle is described * as a well-built little vessel, of 
235 tons, rigged as a barque, and carrying six guns. She 
belonged to the old class of ten-gun brigs, which were nick- 
named "coffins," from their liability to go down in severe 
weather. They were very " deep-waisted," that is, their bul- 

* ' Voyages of the Ad-venture and illustration at the head of the chap- 
Beagle] vol. i. introduction xii. The ter is from vol. ii. of the same work. 

2i8 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 22. 

warks were high in proportion to their size, so that a heavy 
sea breaking over them might be highly dangerous. Never- 
theless, she lived through the five years' work, in the most 
stormy regions in the world, under Commanders Stokes and 
Fitz-Roy without a serious accident When re-commissioned 
in 1831 for her second voyage, she was found (as I learn from 
Admiral Sir James Sulivan) to be so rotten that she had 
practically to be rebuilt, and it was this that caused the long 
delay in refitting. The upper deck was raised, making her 
much safer in heavy weather, and giving her far more com- 
fortable accommodation below. By these alterations and by 
the strong sheathing added to her bottom she was brought 
up to 242 tons burthen. It is a proof of the splendid seaman- 
ship of Captain Fitz-Roy and his officers that she returned 
without having carried away a spar, and that in only one 
of the heavy storms that she encountered was she in great 

She was fitted out for the expedition with all possible care, 
being supplied with carefully chosen spars and ropes, six boats, 
and a " dinghy ; " lightning conductors, " invented by Mr. 
Harris, were fixed in all the masts, the bowsprits, and even 
in the flying jib-boom." To quote my father's description, 
written from Devonport, November 17, 1831: "Everybody, 
who can judge, says it is one of the grandest voyages that 
has almost ever been sent out. Everything is on a grand 
scale. ... In short, everything is as prosperous as human 
means can make it." The twenty-four chronometers and 
the mahogany fittings seem to have been especially admired, 
and are again alluded to. 

Owing to the smallness of the vessel, every one on board 
was cramped for room, and my father's accommodation seems 
to have been small enough: "I have just room to turn 
round," he writes to Henslow, " and that is all." Admiral Sir 
James Sulivan writes to me : " The narrow space at the end 
of the chart-table was his only accommodation for working, 

THE SHIP. 219 

dressing, and sleeping ; the hammock being left hanging over 
bis head by day, when the sea was at all rough, that he might 
lie on it with a book in his hand when he could not any 
longer sit at the table. His only stowage for clothes being 
several small drawers in the corner, reaching from deck to 
deck ; the top one being taken out when the hammock was 
hung up, without which there was not length for it, so then 
the foot-clews took the place of the top drawer. For speci- 
mens he had a very small cabin under the forecastle." 

Yet of this narrow room he wrote enthusiastically, Sep- 
tember 17, 1831 : "When I wrote last I was in great alarm 
about my cabin. The cabins were not then marked out, 
but when I left they were, and mine is a capital one, cer- 
tainly next best to the Captain's and remarkably light. My 
companion most luckily, I think, will turn out to be the officer 
whom I shall like best. Captain Fitz-Roy says he will take 
care that one corner is so fitted up that I shall be com- 
fortable in it and shall consider it my home, but that also I 
shall have the run of his. My cabin is the drawing one ; and 
in the middle is a large table, on which we two sleep in 
hammocks. But for the first two months there will be no 
drawing to be done, so that it will be quite a luxurious room, 
and good deal larger than the Captain's cabin." 

My father used to say that it was the absolute necessity of 
tidiness in the cramped space on the Beagle that helped 'to 
give him his methodical habits of working.' On the Beagle, 
too, he would say, that he learned what he considered the 
golden rule for saving time ; i.e., taking care of the minutes. 

Sir James Sulivan tells me that the chief fault in the outfit 
of the expedition was the want of a second smaller vessel to 
act as tender. This want was so much felt by Captain 
Fitz-Roy that he hired two decked boats to survey the coast 
of Patagonia, at a cost of ,1100, a sum which he had to 
supply, although the boats saved several thousand pounds to 
the country. He afterwards bought a schooner to act as a 


tender, thus saving the country a further large amount. He- 
was ultimately ordered to sell the schooner, and was com- 
pelled to bear the loss himself, and it was only after his dcathi 
that some inadequate compensation was made for all the- 
losses which he suffered through his zeal. 

For want of a proper tender, much of the work had to be 
done in small open whale boats, which were sent away from 
the ship for weeks together, and this in a climate, where- 
the crews were exposed to severe hardship from the almost 
constant rains, which sometimes continued for weeks together.. 
The completeness of the equipment was also in other respects 
largely due to the public spirit of Captain Fitz-Roy. He 
provided at his own cost an artist, and a skilled instrument- 
maker, to look after the chronometers.* Captain Fitz-Roy 's- 
wish was to take " some well-educated and scientific person '* 
as his private guest, but this generous offer was only accepted, 
by my father on condition of being allowed to pay a fair share 
of the expense of the Captain's table ; he was, moreover, on 
the ship's books for victuals. 

In a letter to his sister (July 1832) he writes contentedly- 
of his manner of life at sea : " I do not think I have ever 
given you an account of how the day passes. We breakfast 
at eight o'clock. The invariable maxim is to throw away all 
politeness that is, never to wait for each other, and bolt ofT 
the minute one has done eating, &c. At sea, when the 
weather is calm, I work at marine animals, with which the: 
whole ocean abounds. If there is any sea up I am either sick 
or contrive to read some voyage or travels. At one we dine. 
You shore-going people are lamentably mistaken about the 
manner of living on board. We have never yet (nor shall 
we) dined off salt meat. Rice and peas and calavanses are 
excellent vegetables, and, with good bread, who could want 
more? Judge Alderson could not be more temperate, as- 
nothing but water comes on the table. At five we have tea.. 
* Either one or both were on the books for victuals. 


The midshipmen's berth have all their meals an hour before 
us, and the gun-room an hour afterwards." 

The crew of the Beagle consisted of Captain Fitz-Roy, "Com- 
mander and Surveyor," two lieutenants, one of whom (the 
first lieutenant) was the late Captain Wickham, Governor of 
Queensland ; the present Admiral Sir James Sulivan, K.C.B., 
was the second lieutenant. Besides the master and two 
mates, there was an assistant-surveyor, the present Admiral 
Lort Stokes. There were also a surgeon, assistant-surgeon,, 
two midshipmen, master's mate, a volunteer (ist class), purser, 
carpenter, clerk, boatswain, eight marines, thirty-four seamen,, 
and six boys. 

There are not now (1882) many survivors of my father's, 
old ship-mates. Admiral Mellersh, Mr. Hamond, and Mr. 
Philip King, of the Legislative Council of Sydney, and 
Mr. Usborne, are among the number. Admiral Johnson died 
almost at the same time as my father. 

He retained to the last a most pleasant recollection of the 
voyage of the Beagle, and of the friends he made on board 
her. To his children their names were familiar, from his 
many stories of the voyage, and we caught his feeling of 
friendship for many who were to us nothing more than names. 

It is pleasant to know how affectionately his old companions- 
remember him. 

Sir James Sulivan remained, throughout my father's life- 
time, one of his best and truest friends. He writes : " I can 
confidently express my belief that during the five years in 
the Beagle, he was never known to be out of temper, or to 
say one unkind or hasty word of or to any one. You will 
therefore readily understand how this, combined with the- 
admiration of his energy and ability, led to our giving him, 
the name of ' the dear old Philosopher.' " * Admiral Mellersh. 

* His other nickname was " The another boatswain over the ship,. 

Flycatcher." I have heard my and pointing out the officers :. 

father tell how he overheard the " That's our first lieutenant ; that's, 

boatswain of the Beagle showing our doctor ; that's our flycatcher." 

222 THE VOYAGE. /ETAT. 22. 

writes to me: "Your father is as vividly in my mind's 
eye as if it was only a week ago that I was in the Beagle 
with him ; his genial smile and conversation can never be 
forgotten by any who saw them and heard them. I was sent 
on two or three occasions away in a boat with him on some 
of his scientific excursions, and always looked forward to 
these trips with great pleasure, an anticipation that, unlike 
many others, was always realised. I think he was the only 
man I ever knew against whom I never heard a word said ; 
and as people when shut up in a ship for five years are apt to 
get cross with each other, that is saying a good deal. Cer- 
tainly we were always so hard at work, we had no time to 
quarrel, but if we had done so, I feel sure your father would 
have tried (and have been successful) to throw oil on the 
troubled waters." 

Admiral Stokes, Mr. King, Mr. Usborne, and Mr. Ha- 
mond, all speak of their friendship with him in the same 
warm-hearted way. 

Of the life on board and on shore his letters give some 
idea. Captain Fitz-Roy was a strict officer, and made him- 
self thoroughly respected both by officers and men. The 
occasional severity of his manner was borne with because 
every one on board knew that his first thought was his 
duty, and that he would sacrifice anything to the real welfare 
of the ship. My father writes, July 1834, "We all jog on 
very well together, there is no quarrelling on board, which is 
something to say. The Captain keeps all smooth by rowing 
every one in turn." The best proof that Fitz-Roy was valued 
as a commander is given by the fact that many * of the crew 
had sailed with him in the Beagle's former voyage, and there 
were a few officers as well as seamen and marines, who had 
served in the Adventure or Beagle during the whole of that 

My father speaks of the officers as a fine determined set of 

* ' Voyage of the Adventure and Beagle? vol. ii. p. 21., 


men, and especially of Wickham, the first lieutenant, as a 
" glorious fellow." The latter being responsible for the smart- 
ness and appearance of the ship strongly objected to his 
littering the decks, and spoke of specimens as " d d beastly 
devilment," and used to add, " If I were skipper, I would soon 
have you and all your d d mess out of the place." 

A sort of halo of sanctity was given to my father by the 
fact of his dining in the Captain's cabin, so that the midship- 
men used at first to call him " Sir," a formality, however, 
which did not prevent his becoming fast friends with the 
younger officers. He wrote about the year 1861 or 1862 
to Mr. P. G. King, M.L.C., Sydney, who, as before stated, 
was a midshipman on board the Beagle : " The remembrance 
of old days, when we used to sit and talk on the booms of 
the Beagle, will always, to the day of my death, make me 
glad to hear of your happiness and prosperity." Mr. King 
describes the pleasure my father seemed to take " in pointing 
out to me as a youngster the delights of the tropical nights, 
with their balmy breezes eddying out of the sails above us, 
and the sea lighted up by the passage of the ship through 
the never-ending streams of phosphorescent animalculae." 

It has been assumed that his ill-health in later years was 
due to his having suffered so much from sea-sickness. This 
he did not himself believe, but rather ascribed his bad health 
to the hereditary fault which came out as gout in some of 
the past generations. I am not quite clear as to how much 
he actually suffered from sea-sickness ; my impression is 
distinct that, according to his own memory, he was not 
actually ill after the first three weeks, but constantly uncom- 
fortable when the vessel pitched at all heavily. But, judging 
from his letters, and from the evidence of some of the officers, 
it would seem that in later years he forgot the extent of the 
discomfort from which he suffered. Writing June 3, 1836, 
from the Cape of Good Hope, he says : " It is a lucky thing 
for me that the voyage is drawing to its close, for I positively 

224 THE VOYAGE. ,ETAT. 22. 

Buffer more from sea-sickness now than three years ago." 
Admiral Lort Stokes wrote to the Times, April 25, 1883 : 

"May I beg a corner for my feeble testimony to the 
marvellous persevering endurance in the cause of science of 
that great naturalist, my old and lost friend, Mr. Charles 
Darwin, whose remains are so very justly to be honoured 
with a resting-place in Westminster Abbey ? 

" Perhaps no one can better testify to his early and most 
trying labours than myself. We worked together for several 
years at the same table in the poop cabin of the Beagle 
during her celebrated voyage, he with his microscope and 
;myself at the charts. It was often a very lively end of 
the little craft, and distressingly so to my old friend, who 
suffered greatly from sea-sickness. After, perhaps, an hour's 
work he would say to me, ' Old fellow, I must take the hori- 
zontal for it,' that being the best relief position from ship 
motion ; a stretch out on one side of the table for some time 
would enable him to resume his labours for a while, when he 
had again to lie down. 

"It was distressing to witness this early sacrifice of Mr. 
Darwin's health, who ever afterwards seriously felt the ill- 
effects of the Beagtis voyage." 

Mr. A. B. Usborne writes, " He was a dreadful sufferer 
from sea-sickness, and at times, when I have been officer 
of the watch, and reduced the sails, making the ship more 
easy, and thus relieving him, I have been pronounced by him 
to be ' a good officer,' and he would resume his microscopic 
observations in the poop cabin." The amount of work that 
he got through on the Beagle shows that he was habitually 
in full vigour ; he, had, however, one severe illness in South 
America, when he was received into the house of an English- 
man, Mr. Corfield, who tended him with careful kindness. 
I have heard him say that in this illness every secretion of 
the body was affected, and that when he described the 


symptoms to his father Dr. Darwin could make no guess as 
ito the nature of the disease. My father was sometimes 
inclined to think that the breaking up of his health was to 
:some extent due to this attack. 

The Beagle letters give ample proof of his strong love of 
ihome, and all connected with it, from his father down to 
.Nancy, his old nurse, to whom he sometimes sends his love. 

His delight in home-letters is shown in such passages as : 
"" But if you knew the glowing, unspeakable delight, which I 
felt at being certain that my father and all of you were well, 
only four months ago, you would not grudge the labour lost 
in keeping up the regular series of letters." 

Or again his longing to return in words like these : 
'" It is too delightful to think that I shall see the leaves fall 
.and hear the robin sing next autumn at Shrewsbury. My 
-feelings are those of a schoolboy to the smallest point ; I 
doubt whether ever boy longed for his holidays as much as I 
do to see you all again. I am at present, although nearly 
.half the world is between me and home, beginning to arrange 
what I shall do, where I shall go during the first week." 

Another feature in his letters is the surprise and delight 
with which he hears of his collections and observations being 
of some use. It seems only to have gradually occurred to 
ihim that he would ever be more than a collector of specimens 
and facts, of which the great men were to make use. And 
even as to the value of his collections he seems to have had 
much doubt, for he wrote to Henslow in 1834: "I really 
began to think that my collections were so poor that you 
were puzzled what to say ; the case is now quite on the oppo- 
site tack, for you are guilty of exciting all my vain feelings 
to a most comfortable pitch ; if hard work will atone for these 
thoughts, I vow it shall not be spared." 

After his return and settlement in London, he began 
to realise the value of what he had done, and wrote to Cap- 
tain Fitz-Roy " However others may look back to the Beagles 

22''> THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 22. [1832. 

voyage, now that the small disagreeable parts are well-nigh 
forgotten, I think it far the most fortunate circumstance 
in my life that the chance afforded by your offer of taking 
a Naturalist fell on me. I often have the most vivid and 
delightful pictures of what I saw on board the Beagle pass 
before my eyes. These recollections, and what I learnt on 
Natural History, I would not exchange for twice ten thousand 
a year." 

In selecting the following series of letters, I have been 
guided by the wish to give as much personal detail as pos- 
sible. I have given only a few scientific letters, to illustrate 
the way in which he worked, and how he regarded his own 
results. In his 'Journal of Researches' he gives incidentally 
some idea of his personal character ; the letters given in the 
present chapter serve to amplify in fresher and more spon- 
taneous words that impression of his personality which the 
' Journal ' has given to so many readers.] 

C. Darwin to R, W. Darwin. 

Bahia, or San Salvador, Brazils 

[February 8, 1832]. 

I find after the first paee I have been writing 
MY DEAR FATHER, to my sisters. 

1 am writing this on the 8th of February, one day's 
sail past St Jago (Cape de Verd), and intend taking the 
chance of meeting with a homeward-bound vessel somewhere 
about the equator. The date, however, will tell this whenever 
the opportunity occurs. I will now begin from the day of 
leaving England, and give a short account of our progress. 
We sailed, as you know, on the 27th of December, and have 
been fortunate enough to have had from that time to the 
present a fair and moderate breeze. It afterwards proved that 
we had escaped a heavy gale in the Channel, another at 
Madeira, and another on [the] Coast of Africa. But in 
escaping the gale, we felt its consequence a heavy sea. In 

1832.] SEA-SICKNESS. 22/ 

the Bay of Biscay there was a long and continuous swell, and 
the misery I endured from sea-sickness is far beyond what I 
ever guessed at. I believe you are curious about it. I will 
give you all my dear-bought experience. Nobody who has 
only been to sea for twenty-four hours has a right to say that 
sea-sickness is even uncomfortable. The real misery only 
begins when you are so exhausted that a little exertion makes 
a feeling of faintness come on. I found nothing but lying in 
my hammock did me any good. I must especially except 
your receipt of raisins, which is the only food that the stomach 
will bear. 

On the 4th of January we were not many miles from 
Madeira, but as there was a heavy sea running, and the 
island lay to windward, it was not thought worth while to 
beat up to it. It afterwards has turned out it was lucky we 
saved ourselves the trouble. I was much too sick even to get 
up to see the distant outline. On the 6th, in the evening, we 
sailed into the harbour of Santa Cruz. I now first felt even 
moderately well, and I was picturing to myself all the delights 
of fresh fruit growing in beautiful valleys, and reading Hum- 
boldt's descriptions of the island's glorious views, when perhaps 
you may nearly guess at our disappointment, when a small 
pale man informed us we must perform a strict quarantine of 
twelve days. There was a death-like stillness in the ship till 
the Captain cried " up jib," and we left this long-wished for 

We were becalmed for a day between Teneriffe and the 
Grand Canary, and here I first experienced any enjoyment. 
The view was glorious. The Peak of Teneriffe was seen 
amongst the clouds like another world. Our only drawback 
was the extreme wish of visiting this glorious island. Tell 
Eyton never to forget either the Canary Islands or South 
America; that I am sure it will well repay the necessary 
trouble, but that he must make up his mind to find a good 
deal of the latter. I feel certain he will regret it if he does 

VOL. I. R 

228 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 23. [1832. 

not make the attempt. From Teneriffe to St. Jago the voy- 
age was extremely pleasant. I had a net astern the vessel 
which caught great numbers of curious animals, and fully 
occupied my time in my cabin, and on deck the weather was 
so delightful and clear, that the sky and water together 
made a picture. On the i6th we arrived at Port Praya, the 
capital of the Cape de Verds, and there we remained twenty- 
three days, viz. till yesterday, the 7th of February. The 
time has flown away most delightfully, indeed nothing can be 
pleasanter ; exceedingly busy, and that business both a duty 
and a great delight. I do not believe I have spent one half- 
hour idly since leaving Teneriffe. St. Jago has afforded me 
an exceedingly rich harvest in several branches of Natural 
History. I find the descriptions scarcely worth anything of 
many of the commoner animals that inhabit the Tropics. I 
allude, of course, to those of the lower classes. 

Geologising in a volcanic country is most delightful ; 
besides the interest attached to itself, it leads you into most 
beautiful and retired spots. Nobody but a person fond of 
Natural History can imagine the pleasure of strolling under 
cocoa-nuts in a thicket of bananas and coffee-plants, and an 
endless number of wild flowers. And this island, that has 
given me so much instruction and delight, is reckoned the 
most uninteresting place that we perhaps shall touch at during 
our voyage. It certainly is generally very barren, but the 
valleys are more exquisitely beautiful, from the very contrast. 
It is utterly useless to say anything about the scenery ; it 
would be as profitable to explain to a blind man colours, as 
to a person who has not been out of Europe, the total dis- 
similarity of a tropical view. Whenever I enjoy anything, I 
always either look forward to writing it down, either in my 
log-book (which increases in bulk), or in a letter ; so you must 
excuse raptures, and those raptures badly expressed. I find 
my collections are increasing wonderfully, and from Rio I 
think I shall be obliged to send a cargo home. 

1832.] LIFE AT SEA. 22Q 

All the endless delays which we experienced at Plymouth 
have been most fortunate, as I verily believe no person ever 
went out better provided for collecting and observing in the 
different branches of Natural History. In a multitude of coun- 
sellors I certainly found good. I find to my great surprise 
that a ship is singularly comfortable for all sorts of work. 
Everything is so close at hand, and being cramped makes one 
so methodical, that in the end I have been a gainer. I already 
have got to look at going to sea as a regular quiet place, like 
going back to home after staying away from it. In short, I 
find a ship a very comfortable house, with everything you 
want, and if it was not for sea-sickness the whole world would 
be sailors. I do not think there is much danger of Erasmus 
setting the example, but in case there should be, he may rely 
upon it he does not know one-tenth of the sufferings of sea- 

I like the officers much more than I did at first, especially 
Wickham, and young King and Stokes, and indeed all of 
them. The Captain continues steadily very kind, and does 
everything in his power to assist me. We see very little of 
each other when in harbour, our pursuits lead us in such dif- 
ferent tracks. I never in my life met with a man who could 
endure nearly so great a share of fatigue. He works inces- 
santly, and when apparently not employed, he is thinking. If 
he does not kill himself, he will during this voyage do a won- 
derful quantity of work. I find I am very well, and stand the 
little heat we have had as yet as well as anybody. We shall 
soon have it in real earnest. We are now sailing for Fernando 
Noronha, off the coast of Brazil, where we shall not stay very 
long, and then examine the shoals between there and Rio, 
touching perhaps at Bahia. I will finish this letter when an 
opportunity of sending it occurs. 

February 26th. About 280 miles from Bahia. On the 
I Oth we spoke the packet Lyra, on her voyage to Rio. I sent 
a short letter by her, to be sent to England on [the] first 

R 2 

230 THE VOVAGE. /ETAT. 23. [1832. 

opportunity. We have been singularly unlucky in not 
meeting with any homeward-bound vessels, but I suppose [at] 
Bahia we certainly shall be able to write to England. Since 
writing the first part of [this] letter nothing has occurred 
except crossing the Equator, and being shaved. This most dis- 
agreeable operation, consists in having your face rubbed with 
paint and tar, which forms a lather for a saw which represents 
the razor, and then being half drowned in a sail filled with 
salt water. About 50 miles north of the line we touched at 
the rocks of St. Paul ; this little speck (about of a mile 
across) in the Atlantic has seldom been visited. It is totally 
barren, but is covered by hosts of birds ; they were so unused 
to men that we found we could kill plenty with stones and 
sticks. After remaining some hours on the island, we returned 
on board with the boat loaded with our prey. From this we 
went to Fernando Noronha, a small island where the [Bra- 
zilians] send their exiles. The landing there was attended 
with so much difficulty owing [to] a heavy surf that the Cap- 
tain determined to sail the next day after arriving. My one 
day on shore was exceedingly interesting, the whole island is 
one single wood so matted together by creepers that it is very 
difficult to move out of the beaten path. I find the Natural 
History of all these unfrequented spots most exceedingly 
interesting, especially the geology. I have written this much 
in order to save time at Bahia. 

Decidedly the most striking thing in the Tropics is the 
novelty of the vegetable forms. Cocoa-nuts could well be 
imagined from drawings, if you add to them a graceful light- 
ness which no European tree partakes of. Bananas and plan- 
tains are exactly the same as those in hothouses, the acacias 
or tamarinds are striking from the blueness of their foliage ; 
but of the glorious orange trees, no description, no drawings, 
will give any just idea ; instead of the sickly green of our 
oranges, the native ones exceed the Portugal laurel in the 
darkness of their tint, and infinitely exceed it in beauty of 

1832.] BAHIA. 231 

form. Cocoa-nuts, papaws, the light green bananas, and 
oranges, loaded with fruit, generally surround the more luxu- 
riant villages. Whilst viewing such scenes, one feels the 
impossibility that any description should come near the mark, 
much less be overdrawn. 

March ist. Bahia, or San Salvador. I arrived at this 
place on the 28th of February, and am now writing this letter 
after having in real earnest strolled in the forests of the new 
world. No person could imagine anything so beautiful as the 
ancient town of Bahia, it is fairly embosomed in a luxuriant 
wood of beautiful trees, and situated on a steep bank, and 
overlooks the calm waters of the great bay of All Saints. The 
houses are white and lofty, and, from the windows being 
narrow and long, have a very light and elegant appearance. 
Convents, porticos, and public buildings, vary the uniformity 
of the houses ; the bay is scattered over with large ships ; in 
short, and what can be said more, it is one of the finest views 
in the Brazils. But the exquisite glorious pleasure of walking 
amongst such flowers, and such trees, cannot be comprehended 
but by those who have experienced it. Although in so low a 
latitude the locality is not disagreeably hot, but at present it is 
very damp, for it is the rainy season. I find the climate as yet 
agrees admirably with me ; it makes me long to live quietly 
for some time in such a country. If you really want to have 
[an idea] of tropical countries, study Humboldt. Skip the 
scientific parts, and commence after leaving Teneriffe. My 
feelings amount to admiration the more I read him. Tell 
Eyton (I find I am writing to my sisters !) how exceedingly I 
enjoy America, and that I am sure it will be a great pity if 
he does not make a start. 

This letter will go on the 5th, and I am afraid will be 
some time before it reaches you ; it must be a warning how 
in other parts of the world you may be a long time without 
hearing. A year might by accident thus pass. About the 
1 2th we start for Rio, but we remain some time on the way 

232 THE VOYAGE. ,-ETAT. 23. [1832. 

in sounding the Albrolhos shoals. Tell Eyton as far as my 
experience goes let him study Spanish, French, drawing, and 
Humboldt. I do sincerely hope to hear of (if not to see him) 
in South America. I look forward to the letters in Rio 
till each one is acknowledged, mention its date in the next. 

We have beat all the ships in manoeuvring, so much so 
that the commanding officer says, we need not follow his 
example ; because we do everything better than his great 
ship. I begin to take great interest in naval points, more 
especially now, as I find they all say we are the No. I in South 
America. I suppose the Captain is a most excellent officer. 
It was quite glorious to-day how we beat the Samarang in 
furling sails. It is quite a new thing for a " sounding ship " to 
beat a regular man-of-war ; and yet the Beagle is not at all a 
particular ship. Erasmus will clearly perceive it when he 
hears that in the night I have actually sat down in the sacred 
precincts of the quarter deck. You must excuse these queer 
letters, and recollect they are generally written in the evening 
after my day's work. I take more pains over my log-book, so 
that eventually you will have a good account of all the places 
I visit. Hitherto the voyage has answered admirably to me, 
and yet I am now more fully aware of your wisdom in throw- 
ing cold water on the whole scheme ; the chances are so 
numerous of turning out quite the reverse ; to such an extent 
do I feel this, that if my advice was asked by any person on a 
similar occasion, I should be very cautious in encouraging 
him. I have not time to write to anybody else, so send to 
Macr to let them know, that in the midst of the glorious 
tropical scenery, I do not forget how instrumental they were 
in placing me there. I will not rapturise again, but I give 
myself great credit in not being crazy out of pure delight. 

Give my love to every soul at home, and to the Owens. 

I think one's affections, like other good things, flourish 
and increase in these tropical regions. 

The conviction that I am walking in the New World is 

1832.] RIO. 233 

even yet marvellous in my own eyes, and I dare say it is little 
less so to you, the receiving a letter from a son of yours in 
such a quarter. 

Believe me, my dear Father, 

Your most affectionate son, 


C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

Botofogo Bay, near Rio de Janeiro, 

May, 1832. 

I have delayed writing to you and all my other 
friends till I arrived here and had some little spare time. My 
mind has been, since leaving England, in a perfect hurricane 
of delight and astonishment, and to this hour scarcely a minute 
has passed in idleness 

At St. Jago my natural history and most delightful 
labours commenced. During the three weeks I collected a 
host of marine animals, and enjoyed many a good geological 
walk. Touching at some islands, we sailed to Bahia, and 
from thence to Rio, where I have already been some weeks. 
My collections go on admirably in almost every branch. As 
for insects, I trust I shall send a host of undescribed species 
to England. I believe they have no small ones in the collec- 
tions, and here this morning I have taken minute Hydropori, 
Noterus, Colymbetes, Hydrophilus, Hydrobius, Gromius, &c. 
&c., as specimens of fresh-water beetles. I am entirely oc- 
cupied with land animals, as the beach is only sand. Spiders 
and the adjoining tribes have perhaps given me, from their 
novelty, the most pleasure. I think I have already taken 
several new genera. 

But Geology carries the day : it is like the pleasure of 
gambling. Speculating, on first arriving, what the rocks may 
be, I often mentally cry out 3 to I tertiary against primitive ; 

234 THE VOYAGE. jETAT. 23. [1832. 

but the latter have hitherto won all the bets. So much for 
the grand end of my voyage : in other respects things are 
equally flourishing. My life, when at sea, is so quiet, that to 
a person who can employ himself, nothing can be pleasanter ; 
the beauty of the sky and brilliancy of the ocean together 
make a picture. But when on shore, and wandering in the 
sublime forests, surrounded by views more gorgeous than even 
Claude ever imagined, I enjoy a delight which none but those 
who have experienced it can understand. If it is to be done, 
it must be by studying Humboldt. At our ancient snug 
breakfasts, at Cambridge, I little thought that the wide 
Atlantic would ever separate us ; but it is a rare privilege that 
with the body, the feelings and memory are not divided. On 
the contrary, the pleasantest scenes in my life, many of which 
have been in Cambridge, rise from the contrast of the present, 
the more vividly in my imagination. Do you think any 
diamond beetle will ever give me so much pleasure as our old 
friend crux major? .... It is one of my most constant 
amusements to draw pictures of the past ; and in them I 
often see you and poor little Fan. Oh, Lord, and then old 
Dash, poor thing ! Do you recollect how you all tormented 
me about his beautiful tail ? 

.... Think when you are picking insects off a hawthorn- 
hedge on a fine May day (wretchedly cold, I have no doubt), 
think of me collecting amongst pine-apples and orange-trees ; 
whilst staining your fingers with dirty blackberries, think 
and be envious of ripe oranges. This is a proper piece of 
bravado, for I would walk through many a mile of sleet, snow, 
or rain to shake you by the hand. My dear old Fox, God 
bless you. Believe me, 

Yours very affectionately, 


1832.] GEOLOGY. 235 

C. Darwin to J. S. Henslow. 

Rio de Janeiro, May 18, 1832. 



Till arriving at Teneriffe (we did not touch at Ma- 
deira) I was scarcely out of my hammock, and really suf- 
fered more than you can well imagine from such a cause. At 
Santa Cruz, whilst looking amongst the clouds for the Peak, 
and repeating to myself Humboldt's sublime descriptions, it 
was announced we must perform twelve days' strict quaran- 
tine. We had made a short passage, so " Up jib," and away 
for St. Jago. You will say all this sounds very bad, and so it 
was ; but from that to the present time it has been nearly one 
scene of continual enjoyment. A net over the stern kept me 
at full work till we arrived at St. Jago. Here we spent three 
most delightful weeks. The geology was pre-eminently inte- 
resting, and I believe quite new ; there are some facts on a 
large scale of upraised coast (which is an excellent epoch for 
all the volcanic rocks to date from), that would interest 
Mr. Lyell. 

One great source of perplexity to me is an utter ignorance 
whether I note the right facts, and whether they are of suffi- 
cient importance to interest others. In the one thing collect- 
ing I cannot go wrong. St. Jago is singularly barren, and 
produces few plants or insects, so that my hammer was my 
usual companion, and in its company most delightful hours I 
spent. On the coast I collected many marine animals, chiefly 
gasteropodous (I think some new). I examined pretty accu- 
rately a Caryophyllia, and, if my eyes are not bewitched, 
former descriptions have not the slightest resemblance to the 
animal. I took several specimens of an Octopus which pos- 
sessed a most marvellous power of changing its colours, equal- 
ling any chameleon, and evidently accommodating the 
changes to the colour of the ground which it passed over. 

236 THE VOYAGE. .ETAT. 23. [1832. 

Yellowish green, dark brown, and red, were the prevailing 
colours ; this fact appears to be new, as far as I can find out. 
Geology and the invertebrate animals will be my chief object 
of pursuit through the whole voyage. 

We then sailed for Bahia, and touched at the rock of 
St. Paul. This is a serpentine formation. Is it not the only 
island in the Atlantic which is not volcanic? We likewise 
stayed a few hours at Fernando Noronha ; a tremendous surf 
was running so that a boat was swamped, and the Captain 
would not wait. I find my life on board when we arc on blue 
water most delightful, so very comfortable and quiet it is 
almost impossible to be idle, and that for me is saying a good 
deal. Nobody could possibly be better fitted in every respect 
for collecting than I am ; many cooks have not spoiled the 
broth this time. Mr. Brown's little hints about microscopes, 
c., have been invaluable. I am well off in books, the ' Dic- 
tionnaire Classique' is most useful. If you should think of 
any thing or book that would be useful to me, if you would 
write one line, E. Darwin, Wyndham Club, St. James's Street, 
he will procure them, and send them with some other things 
to Monte Video, which for the next year will be my head- 

Touching at the Abrolhos, we arrived here on April 4th, 
when amongst others I received your most kind letter. You 
may rely on it during the evening I thought ol the many most 
happy hours I have spent with you in Cambridge. I am now 
living at Botofogo, a village about a league from the city, and 
shall be able to remain a month longer. The Beagle has gone 
back to Bahia, and will pick me up on its return. There is a 
most important error in the longitude of South America, to 
settle which this second trip has been undertaken. Our 
chronometers, at least sixteen of them, are going superbly ; 

none on record have ever gone at all like them. 

A few days after arriving I started on an expedition of 

1 50 miles to Rio Macao, which lasted eighteen days. Here I 

1832.] HUMBOLDT. 237 

first saw a tropical forest in all its sublime grandeur nothing 
but the reality can give any idea how wonderful, how magnifi- 
cent the scene is. If I was to specify any one thing I should 
give the pre-eminence to the host of parasitical plants. Your 
engraving is exactly true, but underrates rather than exag- 
gerates the luxuriance. I never experienced such intense 
-delight. I formerly admired Humboldt, I now almost adore 
him ; he alone gives any notion of the feelings which are 
raised in the mind on first entering the Tropics. I am now 
collecting fresh-water and land animals ; if what was told me 
in London is true, viz. that there are no small insects in the 
collections from the Tropics, I tell Entomologists to look out 
and have their pens ready for describing. I have- taken as 
minute (if not more so) as in England, Hydropori, Hygroti, 
Hydrobii, Pselaphi, Staphylini, Curculio, &c. &c. It is exceed- 
ingly interesting observing the difference of genera and 
species from those which I know ; it is however much less 
than I had expected. I am at present red-hot with spiders ; 
they are very interesting, and if I am not mistaken I have 
already taken some new genera. I shall have a large box to 
send very soon to Cambridge, and with that I will mention 
some more natural history particulars. 

The Captain does everything in his power to assist me, and 
we get on very well, but I thank my better fortune he has not 
.made me a renegade to Whig principles. I would not be a 
Tory, if it was merely on account of their cold hearts about 
that scandal to Christian nations Slavery. I am very good 
friends with all the officers. 

I have just returned from a walk, and as a specimen, how 
little the insects are known. Noterus, according to the ' Dic- 
tionnaire Classique,' contains solely three European species. 
I in one haul of my net took five distinct species ; is this not 
quite extraordinary ? . . . . 

Tell Professor Sedgwick he does not know how much 
I am indebted to him for the Welsh Expedition ; it has 

238 THE VOYAGE. jETAT. 23. 1832. 

given me an interest in Geology which I would not give up for 
any consideration. I do not think I ever spent a more 
delightful three weeks than pounding the North-west Moun- 
tains. I look forward to the geology about Monte Video as I 
hear there are slates there, so I presume in that district I shall 
find the junctions of the Pampas, and the enormous granite 
formation of Brazils. At Bahia the pegmatite and gneiss 
in beds had the same direction, as observed by Humboldt, 
prevailing over Columbia, distant 1300 miles is it not won- 
derful ? Monte Video will be for a long time my direction. 
I hope you will write again to me, there is nobody from whom 
I like receiving advice so much as from you. . . . Excuse 
this almost unintelligible letter, and believe me, my dear 
Henslow, with the warmest feelings of respect and friendship, 

Yours affectionately, 


C Darwin to J. M. Herbert. 

Botofogo Bay, Rio de Janeiro, 

June 1832. 


Your letter arrived here when I had given up all 
hopes of receiving another, it gave me, therefore, an additional 
degree of pleasure. At such an interval of time and space 
one does learn to feel truly obliged to those who do not forget 
one. The memory when recalling scenes past by, affords to 
us exiles one of the greatest pleasures. Often and often whilst 
wandering amongst these hills do I think of Barmouth, and, I 
may add, as often wish for such a companion. What a con- 
trast does a walk in these two places afford ; here abrupt and 
stony peaks are to the very summit enclosed by luxuriant 
woods ; the whole surface of the country, excepting where 
cleared by man, is one impenetrable forest How different 
from Wales, with its sloping hills covered with turf, and its 

1832.] ST. PAUL'S. 239 

open valleys. I was not previously aware how intimately 
what may be called the moral part is connected with the 
enjoyment of scenery. I mean such ideas, as the history of 
the country, the utility of the produce, and more especially 
the happiness of the people living with them. Change the 
English labourer into a poor slave, working for another, and 
you will hardly recognise the same view. I am sure you will 
be glad to hear how very well every part (Heaven forefend, 
except sea- sickness) of the expedition has answered. We 
have already seen Teneriffe and the Great Canary ; St. Jago, 
where I spent three most delightful weeks, revelling in the 
delights of first naturalising a tropical volcanic island, and 
besides other islands, the two celebrated ports in the Brazils, 
viz. Bahia and Rio. 

I was in my hammock till we arrived at the Canaries, and 
I shall never forget the sublime impression the first view of 
Teneriffe made on my mind. The first arriving into warm 
weather was most luxuriously pleasant ; the clear blue sky of 
the Tropics was no common change after those accursed south- 
west gales at Plymouth. About the Line it became weltering 
hot. We spent one day at St. Paul's, a little group of rocks 
about a quarter of a mile in circumference, peeping up in the 
midst of the Atlantic. There was such a scene here. Wick- 
ham (ist Lieutenant) and I were the only two who landed 
with guns and geological hammers, &c. The birds by myriads 
were too close to shoot ; we then tried stones, but at last, 
proJi pudorl my geological hammer was the instrument of 
death. We soon loaded the boat with birds and eggs. Whilst 
we were so engaged, the men in the boat were fairly fighting 
with the sharks for such magnificent fish as you could not see 
in the London market. Our boat would have made a fine 
subject for Snyders, such a medley of game it contained. 
We have been here ten weeks, and shall now start for Monte 
Video, when I look forward to many a gallop over the 
Pampas. I am ashamed of sending such a scrambling letter, 

240 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 23. [1832. 

but if you were to see the heap of letters on my table, you 
would understand the reason. . . . 

I am glad to hear music flourishes so well in Cambridge ; 
but it [is] as barbarous to talk to me of " celestial concerts " as 
to a person in Arabia of cold water. In a voyage of this sort, 
if one gains many new and great pleasures, on the other side 
the loss is not inconsiderable. How should you like to be 
suddenly debarred from seeing every person and place, which 
you have ever known and loved, for five years ? I do assure 
you I am occasionally " taken aback " by this reflection ; and 
then for man or ship it is not so easy to right again. Re- 
member me most sincerely to the remnant of most excellent 
fellows whom I have the good luck to know in Cambridge 
I mean Whitley and Watkins. Tell Lowe I am even beneath 
his contempt. I can eat salt beef and musty biscuits for 
dinner. See what a fall man may come to ! 

My direction for the next year and a half will be Monte 

God bless you, my very dear old Herbert. May you 
always be happy and prosperous is my most cordial wish. 

Yours affectionately, 


C. Darwin to F. Watkins. 

Monte Video, River Plata, 

August 1 8, 1832. 


I do not feel very sure you will think a letter from 
one so far distant will be worth having ; I write therefore on 
the selfish principle of getting an answer. In the different 
countries we visit the. entire newness and difference from 
England only serves to make more keen the recollection of 
its scenes and delights. In consequence the pleasure of 
thinking of, and hearing from one's former friends, does indeed 
become great Recollect this, and some long winter's evening 

1832.] MONTE VIDEO. 241 

sit down and send me a long account of yourself and 
our friends ; both what you have, and what [you] intend 
doing ; otherwise in three or four more years when I return 
you will be all strangers to me. Considering how many 
months have passed, we have not in the Beagle made much 
way round the world. Hitherto everything has well repaid 
the necessary trouble and loss of comfort. We stayed three 
weeks at the Cape de Verds ; it was no ordinary pleasure 
rambling over the plains of lava under a tropical sun, but 
when I first entered on and beheld the luxuriant vegetation 
in Brazil it was realizing the visions in the ' Arabian Nights/ 
The brilliancy of the scenery throws one into a delirium of 
delight, and a beetle hunter is not likely soon to awaken from 
it, when whichever way he turns fresh treasures meet his eye. 
At Rio de Janeiro three months passed away like so many 
weeks. I made a most delightful excursion during this time 
of 150 miles into the country. I stayed at an estate which 
is the last of the cleared ground, behind is one vast impene- 
trable forest. It is almost impossible to imagine the quietude 
of such a life. Not a human being within some miles in- 
terrupts the solitude. To seat oneself amidst the gloom of 
such a forest on a decaying trunk, and then think of home, 
is a pleasure worth taking some trouble for. 

We are at present in a much less interesting country. 
One single walk over the undulatory turf plain shows every- 
thing which is to be seen. It is not at all unlike Cambridge- 
shire, only that every hedge, tree and hill must be levelled, 
and arable land turned into pasture. All South America is 
in such an unsettled state that we have not entered one port 
without some sort of disturbance. At Buenos Ayres a shot 
came whistling over our heads ; it is a noise I had never 
before heard, but I found I had an instinctive knowledge ot 
what it meant. The other day we landed our men here, and 
took possession at the request of the inhabitants of the central 
fort. We philosophers do not bargain for this sort of work, 

242 THE VOYAGE. ^iTAT. 24, [1833. 

and I hope there will be no more. We sail in the course of a 
day or two to survey the coast of Patagonia ; as it is entirely 
unknown, I expect a good deal of interest But already do 
I perceive the grievous difference between sailing on these 
seas and the Equinoctial ocean. In the " Ladies' Gulf," as the 
Spaniards call it, it is so luxurious to sit on deck and enjoy 
the coolness of the night, and admire the new constellations 
of the South. ... I wonder when we shall ever meet again ; 
but be it when it may, few things will give me greater pleasure 
than to see you again, and talk over the long time we have 
passed together. 

If you were to meet me at present I certainly should be 
looked at like a wild beast, a great grizzly beard and flushing 
jacket would disfigure an angel. Believe me, my dear Wat- 
kins, with the warmest feelings of friendship, 

Ever yours, 


C. Darwin to J. S. Hensloiu. 

April n, 1833. 


We are now running up from the Falkland Islands to 
the Rio Negro (or Colorado). The Beagle will proceed to 
Monte Video ; but if it can be managed I intend staying at the 
former place. It is now some months since we have been at 
a civilised port ; nearly all this time has been spent in the 
most southern part of Tierra del Fuego. It is a detestable 
place ; gales succeed gales with such short intervals that it is 
difficult to do anything. We were twenty-three days off 
Cape Horn, and could by no means get to the westward. 
The last and final gale before we gave up the attempt was 
unusually severe. A sea stove one of the boats, and there 
was so much water on the decks that every place was afloat ; 
nearly all the paper for drying plants is spoiled, and half of 
this curious collection. 

1 833.] FUEGIANS. 243 

We at last ran into harbour, and in the boats got to the 
west by the inland channels. As I was one of this party I 
was very glad of it. With two boats we went about 300 
miles, and thus I had an excellent opportunity of geologising 
and seeing much of the savages. The Fuegians are in a more 
miserable state of barbarism than I had expected ever to 
have seen a human being. In this inclement country they 
are absolutely naked, and their temporary houses are like what 
children make in summer with boughs of trees. I do not think 
any spectacle can be more interesting than the first sight of man 
in his primitive wildness. It is an interest which cannot well 
be imagined until it is experienced. I shall never forget this 
when entering Good Success Bay the yell with which a 
party received us. They were seated on a rocky point, sur- 
rounded by the dark forest of beech ; as they threw their 
arms wildly round their heads, and their long hair streaming, 
they seemed the troubled spirits of another world. The 
climate in some respects is a curious mixture of severity and 
mildness ; as far as regards the animal kingdom, the former 
character prevails ; I have in consequence not added much to 
my collections. 

The Geology of this part of Tierra del Fuego was, as 
indeed every place is, to me very interesting. The country 
is non-fossiliferous, and a common-place succession of granitic 
rocks and slates ; attempting to make out the relation of 
cleavage, strata, &c., &c., was my chief amusement. The 
mineralogy, however, of some of the rocks will, I think, be 

curious from their resemblance to those of volcanic origin. 


After leaving Tierra del Fuego we sailed to the Falklands. 
I forgot to mention the fate of the Fuegians whom we took 
back to their country. They had become entirely European 
in their habits and wishes, so much so that the younger one 
had forgotten his own language, and their countrymen paid 
but very little attention to them. We built houses for them 

VOL. I. S 

244 THE VOYAGE. jETAT. 24. [1833. 

and planted gardens, but by the time we return again on our 
passage round the Horn, I think it will be very doubtful how 
much of their property will be left unstolen. 

. . . When I am sea-sick and miserable, it is one of my 
highest consolations to picture the future when we again shall 
be pacing together the roads round Cambridge. That day 
is a weary long way off. We have another cruise to make 
to Tierra del Fuego next summer, and then our voyage round 
the world will really commence. Captain Fitz-Roy has 
purchased a large schooner of 170 tons. In many respects 
it will be a great advantage having a consort perhaps it 
may somewhat shorten our cruise, which I most cordially 
hope it may. I trust, however, that the Coral Reefs and 
various animals of the Pacific may keep up my resolution. 
Remember me most kindly to Mrs. Henslow and all other 
friends ; I am a true lover of Alma Mater and all its 

Believe me, my dear Henslow, 

Your affectionate and most obliged friend, 


C. Danuin to Miss C. Daiiuin. 

Maldonado, Rio Plata, May 22, 1833. 

. . . The following business piece is to my father. Having 
a servant of my own would be a really great addition 
to my comfort For these two reasons : as at present the 
Captain has appointed one of the men always to be with me, 
but I do not think it just thus to take a seaman out of the 
ship ; and, secondly, when at sea I am rather badly off for 
any one to wait on me. The man is willing to be my 
servant, and all the expenses would be under 60 per annum. 
I have taught him to shoot and skin birds, so that in my main 
object he is very useful. I have now left England nearly 
a year and a half, and I find my expenses are not above 

I833-] HOME LETTERS. 245 

200 per annum ; so that, it being hopeless (from time) to 
write for permission, I have come to the conclusion that you 
would allow me this expense. But I have not yet resolved 
to ask the Captain, and the chances are even that he would 
not be willing to have an additional man in the ship. 
I have mentioned this because for a long time I have been 
thinking about it. 

June. I have just received a bundle more letters. I do 
not know how to thank you all sufficiently. One from 
Catherine, Feb. 8th, another from Susan, March 3rd, together 
with notes from Caroline and from my father ; give my best 
love to my father. I almost cried for pleasure at receiving 
it ; it was very kind thinking of writing to me. My letters 
are both few, short, and stupid in return for all yours ; but 
I always ease my conscience by considering the Journal 
as a long letter. If I can manage it, I will, before doubling 
the Horn, send the rest. I am quite delighted to find the 
hide of the Megatherium has given you all some little 
interest in my employments. These fragments are not, how- 
ever, by any means the most valuable of the geological relics. 
I trust and believe that the time spent in this voyage, if 
thrown away for all other respects, will produce its full worth 
in Natural History ; and it appears to me the doing what 
little we can to increase the general stock of knowledge 
is as respectable an object of life as one can in any likelihood 
pursue. It is more the result of such reflections (as I have 
already said) than much immediate pleasure which now 
makes me continue the voyage, together with the glorious 
prospect of the future, when passing the Straits of Magellan, 
we have in truth the world before us. Think of the Andes, 
the luxuriant forest of Guayaquil, the islands of the South 
Sea, and New South Wales. How many magnificent and 
characteristic views, how many and curious tribes of men we 
shall see ! What fine opportunities for geology and for studying 
the infinite host of living beings ! Is not this a prospect to 

S 2 

246 THE VOYAGE. .ETAT. 24. [1833. 

keep up the most flagging spirit ? If I was to throw it away, 
I don't think I should ever rest quiet in my grave. I 
certainly should be a ghost and haunt the British Museum. 

How famously the Ministers appear to be going on. 
I always much enjoy political gossip and what you at home 
think will, &c., &c., take place. I steadily read up the weekly 
paper, but it is not sufficient to guide one's opinion ; and 
I find it a very painful state not to be as obstinate as a pig 
in politics. I have watched how steadily the general feeling, 
as shown at elections, has been rising against Slavery. What 
a proud thing for England if she is the first European nation 
which utterly abolishes it ! I was told before leaving 
England that after living in slave countries all my opinions 
would be altered ; the only alteration I am aware of is 
forming a much higher estimate of the negro character. 
It is impossible to see a negro and not feel kindly towards 
him ; such cheerful, open, honest expressions and such fine 
muscular bodies. I never saw any of the diminutive Portu- 
guese, with their murderous countenances, without almost 
wishing for Brazil to follow the example of Hayti ; and, 
considering the enormous healthy-looking black population, 
it will be wonderful if, at some future day, it does not take 
place. There is at Rio a man (I know not his title) who has 
a large salary to prevent (I believe) the landing of slaves ; he 
lives at Botofogo, and yet that was the bay where, during my 
residence, the greater number of smuggled slaves were landed. 
Some of the Anti-Slavery people ought to question about his 
office ; it was the subject of conversation at Rio amongst 
the lower English 

C. Darwin to J. M. Herbert. 

Maldonado, Rio Plata, June 2, 1833. 


I have been confined for the last three days to a 
miserable dark room, in an old Spanish house, from the torrents 

1 83 3.] GOOD SUCCESS BAY. 247 

of rain : I am not, therefore, in very good trim for writing ; 
but, defying the blue devils, I will send you a few lines, if it is 
merely to thank you very sincerely for writing to me. I 
received your letter, dated December ist, a short time since. 
We are now passing part of the winter in the Rio Plata, after 
having had a hard summer's work to the south. Tierra del 
Fuego is indeed a miserable place ; the ceaseless fury of the 
gales is quite tremendous. One evening we saw old Cape 
Horn, and three weeks afterwards we were only thirty miles 
to windward of it. It is a grand spectacle to see all nature 
thus raging ; but Heaven knows every one in the Beagle has 
seen enough in this one summer to last them their natural 

The first place we landed at was Good Success Bay. It 
was here Banks and Solander met such disasters on ascending 
one of the mountains. The weather was tolerably fine, and I 
enjoyed some walks in a wild country, like that behind Bar- 
mouth. The valleys are impenetrable from the entangled 
woods, but the higher parts, near the limits of perpetual snow, 
are bare. From some of these hills the scenery, from its 
savage, solitary character, was most sublime. The only in- 
habitant of these heights is the guanaco, and with its shrill 
neighing it often breaks the stillness. The consciousness 
that no European foot had ever trod much of this ground 
added to the delight of these rambles. How often and how 
vividly have many of the hours spent at Barmouth come 
before my mind ! I look back to that time with no common 
pleasure ; at this moment I can see you seated on the hill 
behind the inn, almost as plainly as if you were really there. 
It is necessary to be separated from all which one has been 
accustomed to, to know how properly to treasure up such recol- 
lections, and at this distance, I may add, how properly to 
esteem such as yourself, my dear old Herbert. I wonder when 
I shall ever see you again. I hope it may be, as you say, 
surrounded with heaps of parchment ; but then there must be. 

248 THE VOYAGE. ^ETAT. 24. [1833. 

sooner or later, a dear little lady to take care of you and your 
house. Such a delightful vision makes me quite envious. 
This is a curious life for a regular shore-going person such as 
myself ; the worst part of it is its extreme length. There is 
certainly a great deal of high enjoyment, and on the contrary 
a tolerable share of vexation of spirit. Everything, however, 
shall bend to the pleasure of grubbing up old bones, and cap- 
tivating new animals. By the way, you rank my Natural 
History labours far too high. I am nothing more than a lions' 
provider : I do not feel at all sure that they will not growl and 
finally destroy me. 

It does one's heart good to hear how things are going on in 
England. Hurrah for the honest Whigs ! I trust they will 
soon attack that monstrous stain on our boasted liberty, Colo- 
nial Slavery. I have seen enough of slavery and the dis- 
positions of the negroes, to be thoroughly disgusted with the 
lies and nonsense one hears on the subject in England. 
Thank God, the cold-hearted Tories, who, as ]. Mackintosh 
used to say, have no enthusiasm, except against enthusiasm, 
have for the present run their race. I am sorry, by your 
letter, to hear you have not been well, and that you partly 
attribute it to want of exercise. I wish you were here amongst 
the green plains ; we would take walks which would rival the 
Dolgelly ones, and you should tell stories, which I would 
believe, even to a cubic fatJiom of pudding. Instead, I must 
take my solitary ramble, think of Cambridge days, and pick up 
snakes, beetles and toads. Excuse this short letter (you 
know I never studied ' The Complete Letter-writer '), and 
believe me, my dear Herbert, 

Your affectionate friend, 


1 834.] A NEW OSTRICH. 249 

C. Darwin to y. S. Henslow. 

East Falkland Island, March, 1834. 

I am quite charmed with Geology, but, like the 

wise animal between two bundles of hay, I do not know 
which to like the best ; the old crystalline group of rocks, or 
the softer and fossiliferous beds. When puzzling about strati- 
fication, &c., I feel inclined to cry " a fig for your big oysters, 
and your bigger megatheriums." But then when digging out 
some fine bones, I wonder how any man can tire his arms 
with hammering granite. By the way I have not one clear 
idea about cleavage, stratification, lines of upheaval. I have 
no books which tell me much, and what they do I cannot 
apply to what I see. In consequence I draw my own con- 
clusions, and most gloriously ridiculous ones they are, I 
sometimes fancy. . . . Can you throw any light into my 
mind by telling me what relation cleavage and planes of 
deposition bear to each other ? 

And now for my second section, Zoology. I have chiefly 
been employed in preparing myself for the South Sea by 
examining the polypi of the smaller Corallines in these lati- 
tudes. Many in themselves are very curious, and I think are 
quite undescribed ; there was one appalling one, allied to a 
Flustra, which I dare say I mentioned having found to the 
northward, where the cells have a movable organ (like a 
vulture's head, with a dilatable beak), fixed on the edge. But 
what is of more general interest is the unquestionable (as it 
appears to me) existence of another species of ostrich, besides 
the Struthio rhea. All the Gauchos and Indians state it is 
the case, and I place the greatest faith in their observations. 
I have the head, neck, piece of skin, feathers, and legs of one. 
The differences are chiefly in the colour of the feathers and 
scales on legs, being feathered below the knees, nidification, 
and geographical distribution. So much for what I have 

250 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 2$. [1834. 

lately done ; the prospect before me is full of sunshine, fine 
weather, glorious scenery, the geology of the Andes, plains 
abounding with organic remains (which perhaps I may have 
the good luck to catch in the very act of moving), and lastly, 
an ocean, its shores abounding with life, so that, if nothing 
unforeseen happens, I will stick to the voyage, although for 
what I can see this may last till we return a fine set of white- 
headed old gentlemen. I have to thank you most cordially 
for sending me the books. I am now reading the Oxford 
' Report ; ' * the whole account of your proceedings is most 
glorious ; you remaining in England cannot well imagine 
how excessively interesting I find the reports. I am sure 
from my own thrilling sensations when reading them, that 
they cannot fail to have an excellent effect upon all those 
residing in distant colonies, and who have little opportunity 
of seeing the periodicals. My hammer has flown with re- 
doubled force on the devoted blocks ; as I thought over 
the eloquence of the Cambridge President, I hit harder 
and harder blows. I hope to give my arms strength for the 
Cordilleras. You will send me through Capt. Beaufort a copy 
of the Cambridge ' Report.' 

I have forgotten to mention that for some time past, and 
for the future, I will put a pencil cross on the pill-boxes con- 
taining insects, as these alone will require being kept par- 
ticularly dry ; it may perhaps save you some trouble. When 
this letter will go I do not know, as this little seat of discord 
has lately been embroiled by a dreadful scene of murder, and 
at present there are more prisoners than inhabitants. If a 
merchant vessel is chartered to take them to Rio, I will send 
some specimens (especially my few plants and seeds). Re- 
member me to all my Cambridge friends. I love and treasure 
up every recollection of dear old Cambridge. I am much 

* The second meeting of the Oxford in 1832, the following year 
British Association was held at it was at Cambridge. 

1 834.] JEMMY BUTTON. 251 

obliged to you for putting my name down to poor Ramsay's 
monument ; I never think of him without the warmest admi- 
ration. Farewell, my dear Henslow. 

Believe me your most obliged and affectionate friend, 


C. Danvin to Miss C. Darwin. 

East Falkland Island, April 6, 1834. 


When this letter will reach you I know not, but 
probably some man-of-war will call here before, in the 
common course of events, I should have another opportunity 

of writing. 

* * * * # 

After visiting some of the southern islands, we beat up 
through the magnificent scenery of the Beagle Channel to 
Jemmy Button's * country. We could hardly recognise poor 
Jemmy. Instead of the clean, well-dressed stout lad we left 
him, we found him a naked, thin, squalid savage. York 
and Fuegia had moved to their own country some months 
ago, the former having stolen all Jemmy's clothes. Now 
he had nothing except a bit of blanket round his waist. 
Poor Jemmy was very glad to see us, and, with his usual 
good feeling, brought several presents (otter-skins, which are 
most valuable to themselves) for his old friends. The Captain 
offered to take him to England, but this, to our surprise, he 
at once refused. In the evening his young wife came along- 
side and showed us the reason. He was quite contented. 
Last year, in the height of his indignation, he said "his 
country people no sabe nothing damned fools " now they 
were very good people, with too much to eat, and all the 

* Jemmy Button, York Minster, England by Captain Fitz-Roy in 
and Fuegia Basket, were natives his former voyage, and restored to 
of Tierra del Fuego, brought to their country by him in 1832. 

252 THE VOYAGE. ^iTAT. 2$. [1834. 

luxuries of life. Jemmy and his wife paddled away in their 
canoe loaded with presents, and very happy. The most 
curious thing is, that Jemmy, instead of recovering his 
own language, has taught all his friends a little English. 
44 J. Button's canoe " and " Jemmy's wife come," " Give me 
knife," &c., was said by several of them. 

We then bore away for this island this little miserable 
seat of discord. We found that the Gauchos, under pretence 
of a revolution, had murdered and plundered all the English- 
men whom they could catch, and some of their own country- 
men. All the economy at home makes the foreign movements 
of England most contemptible. How different from old Spain. 
Here we, dog-in-the-manger fashion, seize an island, and leave 
to protect it a Union Jack ; the possessor has, of course, been 
murdered ; we now send a lieutenant with four sailors, without 
authority or instructions. A man-of-war, however, ventured 
to leave a party of marines, and by their assistance, and the 
treachery of some of the party, the murderers have all been 
taken, there being now as many prisoners as inhabitants. 
This island must some day become a very important halting- 
place in the most turbulent sea in the world. It is mid-way 
between Australia and the South Sea to England ; between 
Chili, Peru, &c, and the Rio Plata and the Rio de Janeiro. 
There are fine harbours, plenty of fresh water, and good 
beef. It would doubtless produce the coarser vegetables. 
In other respects it is a wretched place. A little time 
since, I rode across the island, and returned in four days. 
My excursion would have been longer, but during the 
whole time it blew a gale of wind, with hail and snow. 
There is no fire-wood bigger than heath, and the whole 
country is, more or less, an elastic peat-bog. Sleeping out 
at night was too miserable work to endure it for all the 
rocks in South America. 

We shall leave this scene of iniquity in two or three days, 
and go to the Rio de la Sta. Cruz. One of the objects is to 

1 834.] PLANS. 253 

look at the ship's bottom. We struck rather heavily on an 
unknown rock off Port Desire, and some of her copper is torn 
off. After this is repaired the Captain has a glorious scheme ; 
it is to go to the very head of this river, that is probably to the 
Andes. It is quite unknown ; the Indians tell us it is two 
or three hundred yards broad, and horses can nowhere ford it. 
I cannot imagine anything more interesting. Our plans then 
are to go to Port Famine, and there we meet the Adventure, 
who is employed in making the Chart of the Falklands. This 
will be in the middle of winter, so I shall see Tierra del Fuego 
in her white drapery. We leave the straits to enter the Pacific 
by the Barbara Channel, one very little known, and which passes 
close to the foot of Mount Sarmiento (the highest mountain in 
the south, excepting Mt. ! ! Darwin ! !). We then shall scud 
away for Concepcion in Chili. I believe the ship must once 
again steer southward, but if any one catches me there again, 
I will give him leave to hang me up as a scarecrow for all 
future naturalists. I long to be at work in the Cordilleras, 
the geology of this side, which I understand pretty well is so 
intimately connected with periods of violence in that great 
chain of mountains. The future is, indeed, to me a brilliant 
prospect. You say its very brilliancy frightens you ; but 
really I am very careful ; I may mention as a proof, in all my 
rambles I have never had any one accident or scrape. . . . 
Continue in your good custom of writing plenty of gossip ; I 
much like hearing all about all things. Remember me most 
kindly to Uncle Jos, and to all the Wedgwoods. Tell Charlotte 
(their married names sound downright unnatural) I should 
like to have written to her, to have told her how well every- 
thing is going on ; but it would only have been a transcript of 
this letter, and I have a host of animals at this minute sur- 
rounding me which all require embalming and numbering. I 
have not forgotten the comfort I received that day at Maer, 
when my mind was like a swinging pendulum. Give my best 
love to my father. I hope he will forgive all my extrava- 

2$4 THE VOYAGE. JETAT. 2$. [1834. 

gance, but not as a Christian, for then I suppose he would 
send me no more money. 

Good-bye, dear, to you, and all your goodly sisterhood. 
Your affectionate brother, 


My love to Nancy ; * tell her, if she was now to see me 
with my great beard, she would think I was some worthy 
Solomon, come to sell the trinkets. 

C. Darwin to C. Whitley. 

Valparaiso, July 23, 1834, 


I have long intended writing, just to put you in mind 
that there is a certain hunter of beetles, and pounder of rocks, 
still in existence. Why I have not done so before I know 
not, but it will serve me right if you have quite forgotten me. 
It is a very long time since I have heard any Cambridge news ; 
I neither know where you are living or what you are doing. 
I saw your name down as one of the indefatigable guardians 
of the eighteen hundred philosophers. I was delighted to 
see this, for when we last left Cambridge you were at sad 
variance with poor science ; you seemed to think her a public 
prostitute working for popularity. If your opinions are the 
same as formerly, you would agree most admirably with 
Captain Fitz-Roy, the object of his most devout abhorrence 
is one of the d d scientific Whigs. As captains of men-of- 
war are the greatest men going, far greater than kings or 
schoolmasters, I am obliged to tell him everything in my 
own favour. I have often said I once had a very good 
friend, an out-and-out Tory, and we managed to get on very 
well together. But he is very much inclined to doubt if 
ever I really was so much honoured ; at present we hear 
scarcely anything about politics ; this saves a great deal 

* His old nurse. 

1 834.] GEOLOGY. 255 

of trouble, for we all stick to our former opinions rather 
more obstinately than before, and can give rather fewer 
reasons for doing so. 

I do hope you will write to me : (' H.M.S. Beagle, 
S. American Station ' will find me). I should much like 
to hear in what state you are both in body and mind. 
% Quito sabe ? as the people say here (and God knows they 
well may, for they do know little enough), if you are not a 
married man, and may be nursing, as Miss Austen says, little 
olive branches, little pledges of mutual affection. Eheu ! 
Eheu ! this puts me in mind of former visions of glimpses 
into futurity, where I fancied I saw retirement, green cottages, 
and white petticoats. What will become of me hereafter 
I know not ; I feel like a ruined man, who does not see or 
care how to extricate himself. That this voyage must 
come to a conclusion my reason tells me, but otherwise I 
see no end to it. It is impossible not bitterly to regret the 
friends and other sources of pleasure one leaves behind in 
England; in place of it there is much solid enjoyment, 
some present, but more in anticipation, when the ideas 
gained during the voyage can be compared to fresh ones. 
I find in Geology a never-failing interest, as it has been 
remarked, it creates the same grand ideas respecting this 
world which Astronomy does for the universe. We have 
seen much fine scenery ; that of the Tropics in its glory and 
luxuriance exceeds even the language of Humboldt to de- 
scribe. A Persian writer could alone do justice to it, and 
if he succeeded he would in England be called the ' Grand- 
father of all liars.' 

But I have seen nothing which more completely aston- 
ished me than the first sight of a savage. It was a naked 
Fuegian, his long hair blowing about, his face besmeared 
with paint. There is in their countenances an expression 
which I believe, to those who have not seen it, must be in- 
conceivably wild. Standing on a rock he uttered tones and 

256 THE VOYAGE. ,ETAT. 2$. [I&34- 

made gesticulations, than which the cries of domestic animals 
are far more intelligible. 

When I return to England, you must take me in hand 
with respect to the fine arts. I yet recollect there was a 
man called Raflfaelle Sanctus. How delightful it will be 
once again to see, in the Fitzwilliam, Titian's Venus. How 
much more then delightful to go to some good concert or 
fine opera. These recollections will not do. I shall not 
be able to-morrow to pick out the entrails of some small 
animal with half my usual gusto. Pray tell me some news 
about Cameron, Watkins, Marindin, the two Thompsons of 
Trinity, Lowe, Heaviside, Matthew. Herbert I have heard 
from. How is Henslow getting on ? and all other good 
friends of dear Cambridge ? Often and often do I think 
over those past hours, so many of which have been passed in 
your company. Such can never return, but their recollection 
can never die away. 

God bless you, my dear Whitley, 

Believe me, your most sincere friend, 


C. Darwin to Miss C. Darwin. 

Valparaiso, November 8, 1834. 


My last letter was rather a gloomy one, for I was not 
very well when I wrote it. Now everything is as bright as 
sunshine. I am quite well again after being a second time in 
bed for a fortnight. Captain Fitz-Roy very generously has 
delayed the ship ten days on my account, and without at the 
time telling me for what reason. 

We have had some strange proceedings on board the 
Beagle, but which have ended most capitally for all hands. 
Captain Fitz-Roy has for the last two months been working 
extremely hard, and at the same time constantly annoyed by 

1834-] CAPTAIN FITZ-ROY. 257 

interruptions from officers of other ships ; the selling the 
schooner and its consequences were very vexatious ; the cold 
manner the Admiralty (solely I believe because he is a Tory) 
have treated him, and a thousand other, &c. &c.'s, has made 
him very thin and unwell. This was accompanied by a 
morbid depression of spirits, and a loss of all decision and 
resolution. . . . All that Bynoe (the surgeon) could say, that 
it was merely the effect of bodily health and exhaustion after 
such application, would not do ; he invalided, and Wickham 
was appointed to the command. By the instructions Wickham 
could only finish the survey of the southern part, and would 
then have been obliged to return direct to England. The grief 
on board the Beagle about the Captain's decision was universal 
and deeply felt ; one great source of his annoyment was the 
feeling it impossible to fulfil the whole instructions ; from his 
state of mind it never occurred to him that the very instruc- 
tions order him to do as much of the West coast as he has time 
for, and then proceed across the Pacific. 

Wickham (very disinterestedly giving up his own promo- 
tion) urged this most strongly, stating that when he took the 
command nothing should induce him to go to Tierra del Fuego 
again ; and then asked the Captain what would be gained by 
his resignation ? why not do the more useful part, and return 
as commanded by the Pacific. The Captain at last, to every 
one's joy, consented, and the resignation was withdrawn. 

Hurrah ! hurrah ! it is fixed the Beagle shall not go one mile 
south of Cape Tres Montes (about 200 miles south of Chiloe), 
and from that point to Valparaiso will be finished in about 
five months. We shall examine the Chonos Archipelago, 
entirely unknown, and the curious inland sea behind Chiloe. 
For me it is glorious. Cape Tres Montes is the most southern 
point where there is much geological interest, as there the 
modern beds end. The Captain then talks of crossing the 
Pacific ; but I think we shall persuade him to finish the Coast 
of Peru, where the climate is delightful, the country hideously 

258 THE VOYAGE. jETAT. 26. [1834. 

sterile, but abounding with the highest interest to a geologist. 
For the first time since leaving England I now see a clear and 
not so distant prospect of returning to you all : crossing the 
Pacific, and from Sydney home, will not take much time. 

As soon as the Captain invalided I at once determined to 
leave the Beagle, but it was quite absurd what a revolution in 
five minutes was effected in all my feelings. I have long been 
grieved and most sorry at the interminable length of the 
voyage (although I never would have quitted it) ; but the 
minute it was all over, I could not make up my mind to 
return. I could not give up all the geological castles in the 
air which I had been building up for the last two years. One 
whole night I tried to think over the pleasure of seeing 
Shrewsbury again, but the barren plains of Peru gained the 
day. I made the following scheme (I know you will abuse 
me, and perhaps if I had put it in execution, my father would 
have sent a mandamus after me) ; it was to examine the Cor- 
dilleras of Chili during this summer, and in the winter go from 
port to port on the coast of Peru to Lima, returning this time 
next year to Valparaiso, cross the Cordilleras to Buenos Ayres, 
and take ship to England. Would not this have been a fine 
excursion, and in sixteen months I should have been with you 
all ? To have endured Tierra del Fuego and not seen the 
Pacific would have been miserable. . . . 

I go on board to-morrow ; I have been for the last six 
weeks in Corfield's house. You cannot imagine what a kind 
friend I have found him. He is universally liked, and re- 
spected by the natives and foreigners. Several Chileno Sig- 
noritas are very obligingly anxious to become the signoras of 
this house. Tell my father I have kept my promise of being 
extravagant in Chili. I have drawn a bill of ;ioo(had it not 
better be notified to Messrs. Robarts & Co.) ; 50 goes to the 
Captain for the ensuing year, and 30 1 take to sea for the small 
ports ; so that bond fide I have not spent ;i8o during these 
last four months. I hope not to draw another bill for six 

I835-] EARTHQUAKE. 259 

months. All the foregoing particulars were only settled yes- 
terday. It has done me more good than a pint of medicine, 
and I have not been so happy for the last year. If it had not 
been for my illness, these four months in Chili would have 
been very pleasant. I have had ill luck, however, in only one 
little earthquake having happened. I was lying in bed when 
there was a party at dinner in the house ; on a sudden I heard 
such a hubbub in the dining-room ; without a word being 
spoken, it was devil take the hindmost who should get out 
first ; at the same moment I felt my bed slightly vibrate in a 
lateral direction. The party were old stagers, and heard the 
noise which always precedes a shock ; and no old stager looks 
at an earthquake with philosophical eyes. . . . 

Good-bye to you all ; you will not have another letter for 
some time. 

My dear Catherine, 

Yours affectionately, 


My best love to my father, and all of you. Love to Nancy. 

C. Darwin to Miss S. Darwin. 

Valparaiso, April 23, 1835. 


I received, a few days since, your letter of November ; 
the three letters which I before mentioned are yet missing, 
but I do not doubt they will come to life. I returned a week 
ago from my excursion across the Andes to Mendoza. 
Since leaving England I have never made so successful 
a journey ; it has, however, been very expensive. I am sure 
my father would not regret it, if he could know how deeply 
I have enjoyed it : it was something more than enjoyment ; 
I cannot express the delight which I felt at such a famous, 
winding-up of all my geology in South America. I literally 
could hardly sleep at nights for thinking over my day's; 
VOL. I. T 

260 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 26. [1835. 

work. The scenery was so new, and so majestic ; every- 
thing at an elevation of 12,000 feet bears so different an aspect 
from that in a lower country. I have seen many views more 
beautiful, but none with so strongly marked a character. 
To a geologist, also, there are such manifest proofs of 
excessive violence ; the strata of the highest pinnacles are 
tossed about like the crust of a broken pie. 

I crossed by the Portillo Pass, which at this time of the 
year is apt to be dangerous, so could not afford to delay 
there. After staying a day in the stupid town of Mendoza, I 
began my return by Uspallate, which I did very leisurely. 
My whole trip only took up twenty-two days. I travelled 
with, for me, uncommon comfort, as I carried a bed! My 
party consisted of two Peons and ten mules, two of which 
were with baggage, or rather food, in case of being snowed up. 
Everything, however, favoured me ; not even a speck of this 
year's snow had fallen on the road. I do not suppose any 
of you can be much interested in geological details, but I 
will just mention my principal results : Besides under- 
standing to a certain extent the description and manner of 
the force which has elevated this great line of mountains, 
I can clearly demonstrate that one part of the double line 
is of an age long posterior to the other. In the more ancient 
line, which is the true chain of the Andes, I can describe the 
sort and order of the rocks which compose it. These are 
chiefly remarkable by containing a bed of gypsum nearly 
2000 feet thick a quantity of this substance I should think 
unparalleled in the world. What is of much greater con- 
sequence, I have procured fossil shells (from an elevation of 
12,000 feet). I think an examination of these will give an 
approximate age to these mountains, as compared to the 
strata of Europe. In the other line of the Cordilleras there 
is a strong presumption (in my own mind, conviction) that 
the enormous mass of mountains, the peaks of which rise to 
13,000 and 14,000 feet, are so very modern as to be con- 

1 83 5] GEOLOGY. 26l 

temporaneous with the plains of Patagonia (or about with 
the upper strata of the Isle of Wight). If this result shall be 
considered as proved,* it is a very important fact in the theory 
of the formation of the world ; because, if such wonderful 
changes have taken place so recently in the crust of the globe, 
there can be no reason for supposing former epochs of 
excessive violence. These modern strata are very remark- 
able by being threaded with metallic veins of silver, gold, 
copper, &c. ; hitherto these have been considered as apper- 
taining to older formations. In these same beds, and close 
to a gold-mine, I found a clump of petrified trees, standing 
upright, with layers of fine sandstone deposited round them, 
bearing the impression of their bark. These trees are 
covered by other sandstones and streams of lava to the 
thickness of several thousand feet. These rocks have been 
deposited beneath water ; yet it is clear the spot where the 
trees grew must once have been above the level of the sea, 
so that it is certain the land must have been depressed 
by at least as many thousand feet as the superincumbent 
subaqueous deposits are thick. But I am afraid you will 
tell me I am prosy with my geological descriptions and 
theories. . . . 

Your account of Erasmus' visit to Cambridge has made me 
long to be back there. I cannot fancy anything more de- 
lightful than his Sunday round of King's, Trinity, and those 
talking giants, Whewell and Sedgwick ; I hope your musical 
tastes continue in due force. I shall be ravenous for the 
pianoforte. . . . 

I have not quite determined whether I will sleep at the 
* Lion ' the first night when I arrive per ' Wonder,' or disturb 
you all in the dead of the night ; everything short of that is 
absolutely planned. Everything about Shrewsbury is growing 
in my mind bigger and more beautiful ; I am certain the 

* The importance of these results has been fully recognized by 

T 2 

262 THE VOYAGE. JET AT. 26. [1835. 

acacia and copper beech are two superb trees ; I shall know 
every bush, and I will trouble you young ladies, when each of 
you cut down your tree, to spare a few. As for the view 
behind the house, I have seen nothing like it. It is the same 
with North Wales ; Snowdon, to my mind, looks much 
higher and much more beautiful than any peak in the Cordil- 
leras. So you will say, with my benighted faculties, it is time 
to return, and so it is, and I long to be with you. Whatever 
the trees are, I know what I shall find all you. I am writing 
nonsense, so farewell. My most affectionate love to all, and 
I pray forgiveness from my father. 

Yours most affectionately, 


C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

Lima, July, 1835. 

I have lately received two of your letters, one dated 
June and the other November 1834 (they reached me, however, 
in an inverted order). I was very glad to receive a history of 
this most important year in your life. Previously I had only 
heard the plain fact that you were married. You are a true 
Christian and return good for evil, to send two such letters to 
so bad a correspondent as I have been. God bless you for 
writing so kindly and affectionately ; if it is a pleasure to 
have friends in England, it is doubly so to think and know 
that one is not forgotten, because absent. This voyage is 
terribly long. I do so earnestly desire to return, yet I dare 
hardly look forward to the future, for I do not know what 
will become of me. Your situation is above envy : I do not 
venture even to frame such happy visions. To a person fit to 
take the office, the life of a clergyman is a type of all that is 
respectable and happy. You tempt me by talking of your 
fireside, whereas it is a sort of scene I never ought to think 

1 83 5.] MR. LYELL. 263 

about. I saw the other day a vessel sail for England ; it was 
quite dangerous to know how easily I might turn deserter. 
As for an English lady, I have almost forgotten what she is 
something very angelic and good. As for the women in 
these countries, they wear caps and petticoats, and a very few 
have pretty faces, and then all is said. But if we are not 
wrecked on some unlucky reef, I will sit by that same fireside 
in Vale Cottage and tell some of the wonderful stories, which 
you seem to anticipate and, I presume, are not very ready to 
believe. Gracias a dios, the prospect of such times is rather 
shorter than formerly. 

From this most wretched ' City of the Kings ' we sail in 
a fortnight, from thence to Guayaquil, Galapagos, Marquesas, 
Society Islands, &c., &c. I look forward to the Galapagos 
with more interest than any other part of the voyage. They 
abound with active volcanoes, and, I should hope, contain Ter- 
tiary strata. I am glad to hear you have some thoughts of be- 
ginning Geology. I hope you will ; there is so much larger 
a field for thought than in the other branches of Natural 
History. I am become a zealous disciple of Mr. Lyell's 
views, as known in his admirable book. Geologising in South 
America, I am tempted to carry parts to a greater extent 
even than he does. Geology is a capital science to begin, as 
it requires nothing but a little reading, thinking, and hammer- 
ing. I have a considerable body of notes together ; but it is 
a constant subject of perplexity to me, whether they are of 
sufficient value for all the time I have spent about them, 
or whether animals would not have been of more certain 

I shall indeed be glad once again to see you and tell you 
how grateful I feel for your steady friendship. God bless 
you, my very dear Fox. 

Believe me, 

Yours affectionately, 


264 THE VOYAGE. /fcTAT. 27. [1836. 

C. Darwin to J. S. Hensloic. 

Sydney, January, 1836. 


This is the last opportunity of communicating with 
you before that joyful day when I shall reach Cambridge. 
I have very little to say : but I must write if it is only to 
express my joy that the last year is concluded, and that the 
present one, in which the Beagle will return, is gliding 
onwards. We have all been disappointed here in not finding 
even a single letter ; we are, indeed, rather before our expected 
time, othenvise I dare say, I should have seen your hand- 
writing. I must feed upon the future, and it is beyond 
bounds delightful to feel the certainty that within eight 
months I shall be residing once again most quietly in Cam- 
bridge. Certainly, I never was intended for a traveller ; my 
thoughts are always rambling over past or future scenes ; 1 
cannot enjoy the present happiness for anticipating the future, 
which is about as foolish as the dog who dropped the real bone 

for its shadow. 


In our passage across the Pacific we only touched at 
Tahiti and New Zealand; at neither of these places or at 
sea had I much opportunity of working. Tahiti is a most 
charming spot. Everything which former navigators have 
written is true. 'A new Cytheraea has risen from the 
ocean.' Delicious scenery, climate, manners of the people 
are all in harmony. It is, moreover, admirable to behold 
what the missionaries both here and at New Zealand have 
effected. I firmly believe they are good men working for 
the sake of a good cause. I much suspect that those who 
have abused or sneered at the missionaries, have generally 
been such as were not very anxious to find the natives moral 
and intelligent beings. During the remainder of our voyage 
we shall only visit places generally acknowledged as civilised > 

1836.] HOME LETTERS. 265 

and nearly all under the British flag. These will be a poor 
field for Natural History, and without it I have lately dis- 
covered that the pleasure of seeing new places is as nothing. 
I must return to my old resource and think of the future, but 
that I may not become more prosy, I will say farewell till the 
day arrives, when I shall see my Master in Natural History, 
and can tell him how grateful I feel for his kindness and 

Believe me, dear Henslow, 

Ever yours, most faithfully, 


C. Darwin to Miss S. Darwin. 

Bahia, Brazil, August 4 [1836]. 


I will just write a few lines to explain the cause of 
this letter being dated on the coast of South America. Some 
singular disagreements in the longitudes made Captain Fitz- 
Roy anxious to complete the circle in the southern hemisphere, 
and then retrace our steps by our first line to England. This 
zigzag manner of proceeding is very grievous ; it has put the 
finishing stroke to my feelings. I loathe, I abhor the sea and 
all ships which sail on it. But I yet believe we shall reach 
England in the latter half of October. At Ascension I 
received Catherine's letter of October, and yours of November ; 
the letter at the Cape was of a later date, but letters of all sorts 
are inestimable treasures, and I thank you both for them. 
The desert, volcanic rocks, and wild sea of Ascension, as soon 
as I knew there was news from home, suddenly wore a 
pleasing aspect, and I set to work with a good-will at my old 
work of Geology. You would be surprised to know how 
entirely the pleasure in arriving at a new place depends on 
letters. We only stayed four days at Ascension, and then made 
a very good passage to Bahia. 

266 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 2/. [1836. 

I little thought to have put my foot on South American 
coast again. It has been almost painful to find how much good 
enthusiasm has been evaporated during the last four years. I 
can now walk soberly through a Brazilian forest ; not but what it 
is exquisitely beautiful, but now, instead of seeking for splendid 
contrasts, I compare the stately mango trees with the horse- 
chestnuts of England. Although this zigzag has lost us at 
least a fortnight, in some respects I am glad of it. I think I 
shall be able to carry away one vivid picture of inter-tropical 
scenery. We go from hence to the Cape de Verds ; that is, if 
the winds or the Equatorial calms will allow us. I have some 
faint hopes that a steady foul wind might induce the Captain 
to proceed direct to the Azores. For which most untoward 
event I heartily pray. 

Both your letters were full of good news ; especially the 
expressions which you tell me Professor Sedgwick used about 
my collections. I confess they are deeply gratifying I trust 
one part at least will turn out true, and that I shall act as I 
now think as a man who dares to waste one hour of time has 
not discovered the value of life. Professor Sedgwick men- 
tioning my name at all gives me hopes that he will assist me 
with his advice, of which, in my geological questions, I stand 
much in need. It is useless to tell you from the shameful 
state of this scribble that I am writing against time, having 
been out all morning, and now there are some strangers on 
board to whom I must go down and talk civility. Moreover, 
as this letter goes by a foreign ship, it is doubtful whether it 
will ever arrive. Farewell, my very dear Susan and all of you. 


1836.] ST. HELENA. 267 

C. Darwin to J. S. Henslow. 

St. Helena, July 9, 1836. 


I am going to ask you to do me a favour. I am very 
anxious to belong to the Geological Society. I do not know, 
but I suppose it is necessary to be proposed some time before 
being ballotted for ; if such is the case, would you be good 
enough to take the proper preparatory steps? Professor 
Sedgwick very kindly offered to propose me before leaving 
England, if he should happen to be in London. I dare say he 
would yet do so. 

I have very little to write about. We have neither seen, 
done, or heard of anything particular for a long time past ; 
and indeed if at present the wonders of another planet could 
be displayed before us, I believe we should unanimously 
exclaim, what a consummate plague. No schoolboys ever 
sung the half sentimental and half, jovial strain of 'dulce 
domum ' with more fervour, than we all feel inclined to do. 
But the whole subject of ' dulce domum,' and the delight of 
seeing one's friends, is most dangerous, it must infallibly make 
one very prosy or very boisterous. Oh, the degree to which 
I long to be once again living quietly with not one single 
novel object near me ! No one can imagine it till he has been 
whirled round the world during five long years in a ten-gun- 
brig. I am at present living in a small house (amongst the 
clouds) in the centre of the island, and within stone's throw of 
Napoleon's tomb. It is blowing a gale of wind with heavy 
rain and wretchedly cold ; if Napoleon's ghost haunts his 
dreary place of confinement, this would be a most excellent 
night for such wandering spirits. If the weather chooses 
to permit me, I hope to see a little of the Geology (so 
often partially described) of the island. I suspect that 
differently from most volcanic islands its structure is rather 
complicated. It seems strange that this little centre of a 

268 THE VOYAGE. /ETAT. 27. [1836. 

distinct creation should, as is asserted, bear marks of recent 

The Beagle proceeds from this place to Ascension, then to 
the Cape de Verds (what miserable places !) to the Azores to 
Plymouth, and then to home. That most glorious of all days 
in my life will not, however, arrive till the middle of October. 
Some time in that month you will sec me at Cambridge, where 
I must directly come to report myself to you, as my first Lord 
of the Admiralty. At the Cape of Good Hope we all on board 
suffered a bitter disappointment in missing nine months' letters, 
which arc chasing us from one side of the globe to the other. 
I dare say amongst them there was a letter from you ; it is 
long since I have seen your hand-writing, but I shall soon see 
you yourself, which is far better. As I am your pupil, you are 
bound to undertake the task of criticising and scolding me for 
all the things ill done and not done at all, which I fear I shall 
need much ; but I hope for the best, and I am sure I have a 
good if not too easy taskmaster. 

At the Cape Captain Fitz-Roy and myself enjoyed a me- 
morable piece of good fortune in meeting Sir J. Herschcl. 
We dined at his house and saw him a few times besides. He 
was exceedingly good-natured, but his manners at first ap- 
peared to me rather awful. He is living in a very comfortable 
country house, surrounded by fir and oak trees, which alone 
in so open a country, give a most charming air of seclusion 
and comfort. He appears to find time for everything; he 
showed us a pretty garden full of Cape bulbs of his own col- 
lecting, and I aftenvards understood that everything was the 
work of his own hands. ... I am very stupid, and I have 
nothing more to say ; the wind is whistling so mournfully 
over the bleak hills, that I shall go to bed and dream of 

Good night, my dear Henslow, 

Yours most truly obliged and affectionately, 


1836.] HOME. 269 

C. Darwin to J. S. Henslow. 

Shrewsbury, Thursday, October 6 [1836]. 


I am sure you will congratulate me on the delight of 
once again being home. The Beagle arrived at Falmouth on 
Sunday evening, and I reached Shrewsbury yesterday morn- 
ing. I am exceedingly anxious to see you, and as it will be 
necessary in four or five days to return to London to get my 
goods and chattels out of the Beagle, it appears to me my best 
plan to pass through Cambridge. I want your advice on 
many points ; indeed I am in the clouds, and neither know 
what to do or where to go. My chief puzzle is about the geo- 
logical specimens who will have the charity to help me in 
describing their mineralogical nature? Will you be kind 
enough to write to me one line by return of post, saying 
whether you are now at Cambridge ? I am doubtful till I 
hear from Captain Fitz-Roy whether I shall not be obliged to 
start before the answer can arrive, but pray try the chance. 
My dear Henslow, I do long to see you ; you have been the 
kindest friend to me that ever man possessed. I can write no 
more, for I am giddy with joy and confusion. 
Farewell for the present, 

Yours most truly obliged, 


C.- Darwin to R. Fitz-Roy. 

Shrewsbury, Thursday morning, October 6 [1836]. 

I arrived here yesterday morning at breakfast-time, 
and, thank God, found all my dear good sisters and father 
quite well. My father appears more cheerful and very little 
older than when I left. My sisters assure me I do not look 
the least different, and I am able to return the compliment. 

2/0 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 2?. [1836. 

Indeed, all England appears changed excepting the good old 
town of Shrewsbury and its inhabitants, which, for all I can 
see to the contrary, may go on as they now are to Doomsday. 
I wish with all my heart I was writing to you amongst your 
friends instead of at that horrid Plymouth. But the day will 
soon come, and you will be as happy as I now am. I do 
assure you I am a very great man at home ; the five years' 
voyage has certainly raised me a hundred per cent. I fear 
such greatness must experience a fall. 

I am thoroughly ashamed of myself in what a dead-and- 
half-alive state I spent the few last days on board ; my only 
excuse is that certainly I was not quite well. The first day 
in the mail tired me, but as I drew nearer to Shrewsbury 
everything looked more beautiful and cheerful. In passing 
Gloucestershire and Worcestershire I wished much for you 
to admire the fields, woods, and orchards. The stupid people 
on the coach did not seem to think the fields one bit greener 
than usual ; but I am sure we should have thoroughly agreed 
that the wide world does not contain so happy a prospect 
as the rich cultivated land of England. 

I hope you will not forget to send me a note telling me 
how you go on. I do indeed hope all your vexations and 
trouble with respect to our voyage, which we now know HAS 
an end, have come to a close. If you do not receive much 
satisfaction for all the mental and bodily energy you have 
expended in His Majesty's service, you will be most hardly 
treated. I put my radical sisters into an uproar at some of 
the prudent (if they were not honest Whigs, I would say 
shabby) proceedings of our Government. By the way, I must 
tell you for the honour and glory of the family that my father 
has a large engraving of King George IV. put up in his 
sitting-room. But I am no renegade, and by the time 
we meet my politics will be as firmly fixed and as wisely 
founded as ever they were. 

I thought when I began this letter I would convince you 

1836.] HOME. 2/1 

what a steady and sober frame of mind I was in. But I find 
I am writing most precious nonsense. Two or three of our 
labourers yesterday immediately set to work, and got most 
excessively drunk in honour of the arrival of Master Charles. 
Who then shall gainsay if Master Charles himself chooses 
to make himself a fool. Good-bye. God bless you ! I hope 
you are as happy, but much wiser, than your most sincere 
but unworthy philosopher, 


( 272 ) 



[THE period illustrated by the following letters includes 
the years between my father's return from the voyage of 
the Beagle and his settling at Down. It is marked by the 
gradual appearance of that weakness of health which ulti- 
mately forced him to leave London and take up his abode 
for the rest of his life in a quiet country house. In 
June 1841 he writes to Lyell : "My father scarcely seems 
to expect that I shall become strong for some years ; it 
has been a bitter mortification for me to digest the con- 
clusion that the 'race is for the strong,' and that I shall 
probably do little more, but be content to admire the strides 
others make in science." 

There is no evidence of any intention of entering a pro- 
fession after his return from the voyage, and early in 1840 
he wrote to Fitz-Roy : " I have nothing to wish for, ex- 
cepting stronger health to go on with the subjects to which 
I have joyfully determined to devote my life." 

These two conditions permanent ill-health and a pas- 
sionate love of scientific work for its own sake determined 
thus early in his career, the character of his whole future life. 
They impelled him to lead a retired life of constant labour, 
carried on to the utmost limits of his physical power, a life 
which signally falsified his melancholy prophecy. 

The end of the last chapter saw my father safely arrived 
at Shrewsbury on October 4, 1836, "after an absence of five 


years and two days." He wrote to Fox : " You cannot 
imagine how gloriously delightful my first visit was at home ; 
it was worth the banishment." But it was a pleasure that 
he could not long enjoy, for in the last days of October he 
was at Greenwich unpacking specimens from the Beagle. As 
to the destination of the collections he writes, somewhat 
despondingly, to Henslow : 

" I have not made much progress with the great men. 
I find, as you told me, that they are all overwhelmed with 
their own business. Mr. Lyell has entered, in the most 
good-natured manner, and almost without being asked, into 
all my plans. He tells me, however, the same story, that 
I must do all myself. Mr. Owen seems anxious to dissect 
some of the animals in spirits, and, besides these two, I have 
scarcely met any one who seems to wish to possess any of 
my specimens. I must except Dr. Grant, who is willing 
to examine some of the corallines. I see it is quite un- 
reasonable to hope for a minute that any man will undertake 
the examination of a whole order. It is clear the collectors 
so much outnumber the real naturalists that the latter have 
no time to spare. 

" I do not even find that the Collections care for receiving 
the unnamed specimens. The Zoological Museum * is nearly 
full, and upwards of a thousand specimens remain unmounted. 
I dare say the British Museum would receive them, but I 
cannot feel, from all I hear, any great respect even for the 
present state of that establishment. Your plan will be not 
only the best, but the only one, namely, to come down to 
Cambridge, arrange and group together the different families, 
and then wait till people, who are already working in different 
branches, may want specimens. But it appears to me [that] 
to do this it will be almost necessary to reside in London. As 
far as I can yet see my best plan will be to spend several 

* The Museum of the Zoological The collection was some years later 
Society, then at 33 Bruton Street, broken up and dispersed.. 


months in Cambridge, and then when, by your assistance, I 
know on what ground I stand, to emigrate to London, where 
I can complete my Geology and try to push on the Zoology. 
I assure you I grieve to find how many things make me see 
the necessity of living for some time in this dirty, odious 
London. For even in Geology I suspect much assistance 
and communication will be necessary in this quarter, for 
instance, in fossil bones, of which none excepting the frag- 
ments of Megatherium have been looked at, and I clearly 
see that without my presence they never would be. ... 

** I only wish I had known the Botanists cared so much 
for specimens * and the Zoologists so little ; the proportional 
number of specimens in the two branches should have had 
a very different appearance. I am out of patience with the 
Zoologists, not because they are overworked, but for their 
mean, quarrelsome spirit. I went the other evening to the 
Zoological Society, where the speakers were snarling at each 
other in a manner anything but like that of gentlemen. 
Thank Heavens ! as long as I remain in Cambridge there 
will not be any danger of falling into any such contemptible 
quarrels, whilst in London I do not see how it is to be 
avoided. Of the Naturalists, F. Hope is out of London ; 
Westwood I have not seen, so about my insects I know 
nothing. I have seen Mr. Yarrell twice, but he is so evi- 
dently oppressed with business that it is too selfish to plague 
him with my concerns. He has asked me to dine with the 
Linnean on Tuesday, and on Wednesday I dine with the 
Geological, so that I shall see all the great men. Mr. Bell, 

* A passage in a subsequent to him, ' You forget how long it is 
letter shows that his plants also since Captain King's expedition.' 
gave him some anxiety. "I met He answered, 'Indeed, I have some- 
Mr. Brown a few days after you thing in the shape of Captain King's 
had called on him ; he asked me in undescribed plants to make me 
rather an ominous manner what I recollect it.' Could a better reason 
meant to do with my plants. In the be given, if I had been asked, by 
course of conversation Mr. Erode- me, for not giving the plants to the 
rip, who was present, remarked British Museum ? " 


I hear, is so much occupied that there is no chance of his 
wishing for specimens of reptiles. I have forgotten to men- 
tion Mr. Lonsdale,* who gave me a most cordial reception, 
and with whom I had much most interesting conversation. If 
I was not much more inclined for geology than the other 
branches of Natural History, I am sure Mr. Lyell's and 
Lonsdale's kindness ought to fix me. You cannot conceive 
anything more thoroughly good-natured than the heart-and- 
soul manner in which he put himself in my place and thought 
what would be best to do. At first he was all for London 
versus Cambridge, but at last I made him confess that, for 
some time at least, the latter would be for me much the best. 
There is not another soul whom I could ask, excepting 
yourself, to wade through and criticise some of those papers 
which I have left with you. Mr. Lyell owned that, second to 
London, there was no place in England so good for a 
Naturalist as Cambridge. Upon my word I am ashamed 
of writing so many foolish details ; no young lady ever 
described her first ball with more particularity." 

A few days later he writes more cheerfully : " I became 
acquainted with Mr. Bell,f who to my surprise expressed a 
good deal of interest about my Crustacea and reptiles, and 
seems willing to work at them. I also heard that Mr. Broderip 
would be glad to look over the South American shells, so 
that things flourish well with me." 

About his plants he writes with characteristic openness as 
to his own ignorance : " You have made me known amongst 
the botanists, but I felt very foolish when Mr. Don remarked 

* William Lonsdale, b. 1794, when he resigned, owing to ill- 

<d. 1871, was originally in the army, health. 

and served at the battles of Sala- f T. Bell, F.R.S., formerly Prof, 

manca and Waterloo. After the of Zoology in King's College, 

war he left the service and gave London, and sometime secretary to 

himself up to science. He acted the Royal Society. He afterwards 

as assistant secretary to the described the reptiles for the 

Geological Society from 1829-42, zoology of the voyage of the Beagle. 

VOL. I. U 


on the beautiful appearance of some plant with an astounding 
long name, and asked me about its habitation. Some one 
else seemed quite surprised that I knew nothing about a Carex 
from I do not know where. I was at last forced to plead 
most entire innocence, and that I knew no more about the 
plants which I had collected than the man in the moon." 

As to part of his Geological Collection he was soon able 
to write : " I [have] disposed of the most important part 
[of] my collections, by giving all the fossil bones to the 
College of Surgeons, casts of them will be distributed, and 
descriptions published. They are very curious and valuable ; 
one head belonged to some gnawing animal, but of the size 
of a Hippopotamus ! Another to an ant-eater of the size of a 

It is worth noting that at this time the only extinct mam- 
malia from South America, which had been described, were 
Mastodon (three species) and Megatherium. The remains 
of the other extinct Edentata from Sir Woodbine Parish's 
collection had not been described. My father's specimens 
included (besides the above-mentioned Toxodon and Scelido- 
thcrium) the remains of Mylodon, Glossotherium, another 
gigantic animal allied to the ant-eater, and Macrauchenia. 
His discovery of these remains is a matter of interest in itself, 
but it has a special importance as a point in his own life, 
since it was the vivid impression produced by excavating 
them with his own hands * that formed one of the chief 
starting-points of his speculations on the origin of species. 
This is shown in the following extract from his Pocket 
Book for this year (1837): "In July opened first note-book 
on Transmutation of Species. Had been greatly struck from 
about the month of previous March on character of South 
American fossils, and species on Galapagos Archipelago. 
These facts (especially latter), origin of all my views."] 

* I have often heard him speak a huge, partly excavated bone, when 
of the despair with which he had to the boat waiting for him would wait 
break off the projecting extremity of no longer. 

1836.] PLANS. 277 


C Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

43 Great Marlborough Street, 

November 6th [1836]. 

I have taken a shamefully long time in answering your 
letter. But the busiest time of the whole voyage has been 
tranquillity itself to this last month. After paying Henslovv 
a short but very pleasant visit, I came up to town to wait for 
the Beagles arrival. At last I have removed all my property 
from on board, and sent the specimens of Natural History to 
Cambridge, so that I am now a free man. My London visit 
has been quite idle as far as Natural History goes, but has 
been passed in most exciting dissipation amongst the Dons 
in science. All my affairs, indeed, are most prosperous ; I 
find there are plenty who will undertake the description of 
whole tribes of animals, of which I know nothing. So that 
about this day month I hope to set to work tooth and nail at 
the Geology, which I shall publish by itself. 

It is quite ridiculous what an immensely long period it 
appears to me since landing at Falmouth. The fact is I have 
talked and laughed enough for years instead of weeks, so [that] 
my memory is quite confounded with the noise. I am delighted 
to hear you are turned geologist : when I pay the Isle of 
Wight a visit, which I am determined shall somehow come 
to pass, you will be a capital cicerone to the famous line of 
dislocation. I really suppose there are few parts of the world 
more interesting to a geologist than your island. Amongst 
the great scientific men, no one has been nearly so friendly 
and kind as Lyell. I have seen him several times, and feel 
inclined to like him much. You cannot imagine how good- 
naturedly he entered into all my plans. I speak now only 
of the London men, for Henslow was just like his former 
self, and therefore a most cordial and affectionate friend. 

U 2 


When you pay London a visit I shall be very proud to take 
you to the Geological Society, for be it known, I was pro- 
posed to be a F.G.S. last Tuesday. It is, however, a great 
pity that these and the other letters, especially F.R.S. are so 
very expensive. 

I do not scruple to ask you to write to me in a week's time 
in Shrewsbury, for you are a good letter writer, and if people 
will have such good characters they must pay the penalty. 
Good-bye, dear Fox. 


C. D. 

[His affairs being thus so far prosperously managed he was 
able to put into execution his plan of living at Cambridge, 
where he settled on December loth, 1836. He was at first a 
guest in the comfortable home of the Henslows, but after- 
wards, for the sake of undisturbed work, he moved into lodgings. 
He thus writes to Fox, March 1 3th, 1837, from London : 

"My residence at Cambridge was rather longer than I 
expected, owing to a job which I determined to finish there, 
namely, looking over all my geological specimens. Cambridge 
yet continues a very pleasant, but not half so merry a place 
as before. To walk through the courts of Christ's College, 
and not know an inhabitant of a single room, gave one a 
feeling half melancholy. The only evil I found in Cambridge 
was its being too pleasant : there was some agreeable party 
or another every evening, and one cannot say one is engaged 
with so much impunity there as in this great city." 

A trifling record of my father's presence in Cambridge 
occurs in the book kept in Christ's College combination-room, 
where fines and bets were recorded, the earlier entries giving 
a curious impression of the after-dinner frame of mind of the 
fellows. The bets were not allowed to be made in money, but 
were, like the fines, paid in wine. The bet which my father 
made and lost is thus recorded : 

1 837.] CAMBRIDGE. 279 

"Feb. 23, 1837. Mr. Darwin v. Mr. Baines, that the com- 
bination-room measures from the ceiling to the floor more 
than (x) feet. I Bottle paid same day. 

" N.B. Mr. Darwin may measure at any part of the room he 

Besides arranging the geological and mineralogical speci- 
mens, he had his 'Journal of Researches' to work at, which 
occupied his evenings at Cambridge. He also read a short 
paper at the Zoological Society,* and another at the Geological 
Society,! on the recent elevation of the coast of Chili. 

Early in the spring of 1837 (March 6th) he left Cambridge 
for London, and a week later he was settled in lodgings at 
36 Great Marlborough Street ; and except for a " short visit to 
Shrewsbury" in June, he worked on till September, being 
almost entirely employed on his ' Journal.' He found time, 
however, for two papers at the Geological Society.^ 

He writes of his work to Fox (March, 1837) : 

" In your last letter you urge me to get ready the book. 
I am now hard at work and give up everything else for it. 
Our plan is as follows : Capt. Fitz-Roy writes two volumes 
out of the materials collected during the last voyage under 
Capt. King to Tierra del Fuego, and during our circum- 
navigation. I am to have the third volume, in which I intend 
giving a kind of journal of a naturalist, not following, how- 
ever, always the order of time, but rather the order of posi- 
tion. The habits of animals will occupy a large portion, 
sketches of the geology, the appearance of the country, and 
personal details will make the hodge-podge complete. After- 
wards I shall write an account of the geology in detail, and 

* "Notes upon Rhea Americana," Soc. Proc.' ii. 1838, pp. 542-544; 

' Zool. Soc. Proc.' v. 1837, pp. 35, 36. and " On certain areas of elevation 

t 'Geol. Soc. Proc.' ii. 1838, pp. and subsidence in the Pacific and 

446-449. Indian oceans, as deduced from 

% " A sketch of the deposits con- the study of coral formations," 

taining extinct mammalia in the 'Geol. Soc. Proc.' ii. 1838, pp. 552- 

neighbourhood of the Plata," ' Geol. 554. 


draw up some zoological papers. So that I have plenty of 
work for the next year or two, and till that is finished I will 
have no holidays." 

Another letter to Fox (July) gives an account of the pro- 
gress of his work : 

" I gave myself a holiday and a visit to Shrewsbury [in 
June], as I had finished my Journal. I shall now be very 
busy in filling up gaps and getting it quite ready for the press 
by the first of August. I shall always feel respect for every 
one who has written a book, let it be what it may, for I had 
no idea of the trouble which trying to write common English 
could cost one. And, alas, there yet remains the worst part 
of all, correcting the press. As soon as ever that is done 
1 must put my shoulder to the wheel and commence at the 
Geology. I have read some short papers to the Geological 
Society, and they were favourably received by the great guns, 
and this gives me much confidence, and I hope not a very 
great deal of vanity, though I confess I feel too often like a 
peacock admiring his tail. I never expected that my Geology 
would ever have been worth the consideration of such men as 
Lycll, who has been to me, since my return, a most active 
friend. My life is a very busy one at present, and I hope may 
ever remain so ; though Heaven knows there are many serious 
drawbacks to such a life, and chief amongst them is the little 
time it allows one for seeing one's natural friends. For the 
last three years, I have been longing and longing to be living 
at Shrewsbury, and after all now in the course of several 
months, I see my good dear people at Shrewsbury for a week. 
Susan and Catherine have, however, been staying with my 
brother here for some weeks, but they had returned home 
before my visit" 

Besides the work already mentioned he had much to busy 
him in making arrangements for the publication of the 
' Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle' The following letters 
illustrate this subject] 

1837.] ZOOLOGY OF THE 'BEAGLE.' 28l 

C. Day win to L. Jenyns* 

36 Great Marlborough Street, 

April loth, 1837. 


During the last week several of the zoologists of this 
place have been urging me to consider the possibility of publish- 
ing the ' Zoology of the Beagles Voyage ' on some uniform plan. 
Mr. Macleayf has taken a great deal of interest in the 
subject, and maintains that such a publication is very de- 
sirable, because it keeps together a series of observations 
made respecting animals inhabiting the same part of the 
world, and allows any future traveller taking them with him. 
How far this facility of reference is of any consequence I am 
very doubtful ; but if such is the case, it would be more satis- 
factory to myself to see the gleanings of my hands, after 
having passed through the brains of other naturalists, collected 
together in one work. But such considerations ought not to 
have much weight. The whole scheme is at present merely 
floating in the air ; but I was determined to let you know, as I 
should much like to know what you think about it, and whether 
you would object to supply descriptions of the fish to such a 
work instead of to ' Transactions.' I apprehend the whole will 
be impracticable, without Government will aid in engraving 
the plates, and this I fear is a mere chance, only I think 
I can put in a strong claim, and get myself well backed by 
the naturalists of this place, who nearly all take a good deal 

* Now Rev. L. Blomefield. lection of insects, made Entomology 

t William Sharp Macleay was his chief study, and gained great 

the son of Alexander Macleay, for- notoriety by his now forgotten 

merly Colonial Secretary of New Quinary System, set forth in the 

South Wales, and for many years Second Part of his ' Horse Entomo- 

Secretary of the Linnean Society. logicae,' published in 1821. [I am 

The son, who was a most zealous indebted to Rev. L. Blomefield for 

Naturalist, and had inherited from the foregoing note.] 
his father a very large general col- 


of interest in my collections. I mean to-morrow to see 
Mr. Yarrcll ; if he approves, I shall begin and take more 
active steps ; for I hear he is most prudent and most wise. 
It is scarcely any use speculating about any plan, but I 
thought of getting subscribers and publishing the work in 
parts (as long as funds would last, for I myself will not lose 
money by it). In such case, whoever had his own part ready 
on any order might publish it separately (and ultimately the 
parts might be sold separately), so that no one should be 
delayed by the other. The plan would resemble, on a humble 
scale, Ruppel's 'Atlas,' or Humboldt's ' Zoologic,' where 
Latreille, Cuvier, &c., wrote different parts. I myself should 
have little to do with it ; excepting in some orders adding 
habits and ranges, &c., and geographical sketches, and perhaps 

afterwards some descriptions of invertebrate animals 

I am working at my Journal ; it gets on slowly, though 
I am not idle. I thought Cambridge a bad place from good 
dinners and other temptations, but I find London no better, 
and I fear it may grow worse. I have a capital friend in 
Lyell, and see a great deal of him, which is very advantageous 
to me in discussing much South American geology. I miss 
a walk in the country' very much ; this London is a vile smoky 
place, where a man loses a great part ot the best enjoyments 
in life. But I sec no chance of escaping, even for a week, 
from this prison for a long time to come. I fear it will be 
some time before we shall meet ; for I suppose you will not 
come up here during the spring, and I do not think I shall be 
able to go down to Cambridge. How I should like to have a 
good walk along the Newmarket road to-morrow, but Oxford 
Street must do instead. I do hate the streets of London. Will 
you tell Henslow to be careful with the edible fungi from Tierra 
del Fuego, for I shall want some specimens for Mr. Brown, 
who seems particularly interested about them. Tell Henslow, 
I think my silicified wood has unflintified Mr. Brown's heart, 
for he was very gracious to me, and talked about the Gala- 


pagos plants ; but before he never would say a word. It 
is just striking twelve o'clock ; so I will wish you a very good 

My dear Jenyns, 

Yours most truly, 


[A few weeks later the plan seems to have been matured, 
and the idea of seeking Government aid to have been 

C. Darwin to J. S. Henslow. 

36 Great Marlborough Street, 

[i8th May, 1837]. 


I was very glad to receive your letter. I wanted much 
to hear how you were getting on with your manifold labours. 
Indeed I do not wonder your head began to ache ; it is almost 
a wonder you have any head left. Your account of the 
Gamltngay expedition was cruelly tempting, but I cannot 
anyhow leave London. I wanted to pay my good, dear people 
at Shrewsbury a visit of a few days, but I found I could not 
manage it ; at present I am waiting for the signatures of the 
Duke of Somerset, as President of the Linnean, and of Lord 
Derby and Whewell, to a statement of the value of my collec- 
tion ; the instant I get this I shall apply to Government for as- 
sistance in engraving, and so publish the ' Zoology ' on some 
uniform plan. It is quite ridiculous the time any operation 
requires which depends on many people. 

I have been working very steadily, but have only got two- 
thirds through the Journal part alone. I find, though I remain 
daily many hours at work, the progress is very slow : it is an 
awful thing to say to oneself, every fool and every clever man 
in England, if he chooses, may mak*e as many ill-natured 
remarks as he likes on this unfortunate sentence. 


[In August he writes to Henslow to announce the success of 
the scheme for the publication of the ' Zoology of the Voyage 
of the Beagle? through the promise of a grant of ,1000 from 
the Treasury : " I have delayed writing to you, to thank you 
most sincerely for having so effectually managed my affair. 
I waited till I had an interview with the Chancellor of the 
Exchequer.* He appointed to sec me this morning, and 
I had a long conversation with him, Mr. Peacock being 
present. Nothing could be more thoroughly obliging and 
kind than his whole manner. He made no sort of restric- 
tion, but only told me to make the most of [the] money, 
which of course I am right willing to do. 

" I expected rather an awful interview, but I never found 
anything less so in my life. It will be my fault if I do not 
make a good work ; but I sometimes take an awful fright 
that I have not materials enough. It will be excessively 
satisfactory at the end of some two years to find all materials 
made the most they were capable of." 

Later in the autumn he wrote to Henslow : " I have not 
been very well of late, with an uncomfortable palpitation of 
the heart, and my doctors urge me strongly to knock off all 
work, and go and live in the country for a few weeks." 
He accordingly took a holiday of about a month at Shrews- 
bury and Maer, and paid Fox a visit in the Isle of Wight. 
It was, I believe, during this visit, at Mr. Wedgwood's house 
at Macr, that he made his first observations on the work 
done by earthworms, and late in the autumn he read a paper 
on the subject at the Geological Society.f During these 
two months he was also busy preparing the scheme of the 
' Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle? and in beginning to put 
together the Geological results of his travels. 

The following letter refers to the proposal that he should 
take the Secretaryship of the Geological Society.] 

* T. Spring Rice. Geol. Soc. Proc.' ii. 1838, pp. 574- 

t " On the formation of mould," 576. 

1 837.] SECRETARYSHIP. 285 

C. Danvin to J. S. 

October 1 4th [1837]. 


... I am much obliged to you for your message 
about the Secretaryship. I am exceedingly anxious for you 
to hear my side of the question, and will you be so kind as 
afterwards to give me your fair judgment. The subject has 
haunted me all summer. I am unwilling to undertake the 
office for the following reasons : First, my entire ignorance 
of English Geology, a knowledge of which would be almost 
necessary in order to shorten many of the papers before 
reading them before the Society, or rather to know what 
parts to skip. Again, my ignorance of all languages, and 
not knowing how to pronounce even a single word of French 
a language so perpetually quoted. It would be disgraceful to 
the Society to have a Secretary who could not read French. 
Secondly, the loss of time ; pray consider that I should have 
to look after the artists, superintend and furnish materials for 
the Government work, which will come out in parts, and 
which must appear regularly. All my Geological notes are 
in a very rough state ; none of my fossil shells worked up ; 
and I have much to read. I have had hopes, by giving up 
society and not wasting an hour, that I should finish my 
Geology in a year and a half, by which time the description 
of the higher animals by others would be completed, and 
my whole time would then necessarily be required to complete 
myself the description of the invertebrate ones. If this plan 
fails, as the Government work must go on, the Geology 
would necessarily be deferred till probably at least three 
years from this time. In the present state of the science, 
a great part of the utility of the little I have done would 
be lost, and all freshness and pleasure quite taken from 

I know from experience the time required to make abstracts 


even of my own papers for the ' Proceedings.' If I was 
Secretary, and had to make double abstracts of each paper, 
studying them before reading, and attendance would at least 
cost me three days (and often more) in the fortnight. There 
are likewise other accidental and contingent losses of time ; 
I know Dr. Royle found the office consumed much of his 
time. If by merely giving up any amusement, or by working 
harder than I have done, I could save time, I would undertake 
the Secretaryship ; but I appeal to you whether, with my 
slow manner of writing, with two works in hand, and with 
the certainty, if I cannot complete the Geological part within 
a fixed period, that its publication must be retarded for a 
very long time, whether any Society whatever has any 
claim on me for three days' disagreeable work every fortnight. 
I cannot agree that it is a duty on my part, as a follower 
of science, as long as I devote myself to the completion of 
the work I have in hand, to delay that, by undertaking what 
may be done by any person who happens to have more 
spare time than I have at present. Moreover, so early in 
my scientific life, with so very much as I have to learn, 
the office, though no doubt a great honour, &c., for me, 
would be the more burdensome. Mr. Whewell (I know very 
well), judging from himself, will think I exaggerate the time 
the Secretaryship would require ; but I absolutely know the 
time which with me the simplest writing consumes. I do 
not at all like appearing so selfish as to refuse Mr. Whewell, 
more especially as he has always shown, in the kindest 
manner, an interest in my affairs. But I cannot look for- 
ward with even tolerable comfort to undertaking an office 
without entering on it heart and soul, and that would be 
impossible with the Government work and the Geology in 

My last objection is, that I doubt how far my health will 
stand the confinement of what I have to do, without any 
additional work. I merely repeat, that you may know I am 

1 837.] SECRETARYSHIP. 287 

not speaking idly, that when I consulted Dr. Clark in town, 
he at first urged me to give up entirely all writing and 
even correcting press for some weeks. Of late anything 
which flurries me completely knocks me up afterwards, 
and brings on a violent palpitation of the heart. Now 
the Secretaryship would be a periodical source of more 
annoying trouble to me than all the rest of the fort- 
night put together. In fact, till I return to town, and see 
how I get on, if I wished the office ever so much, I could not 
say I would positively undertake it. I beg of you to excuse 
this very long prose all about myself, but the point is one 
of great interest I can neither bear to think myself very 
selfish and sulky, nor can I see the possibility of my taking 
the Secretaryship without making a sacrifice of all my plans 
and a good deal of comfort. 

If you see Whewell, would you tell him the substance 
of this letter ; or, if he will take the trouble, he may read it. 
My dear Henslow, I appeal to you in loco parentis. Pray 
tell me what you think ? But do not judge me by the activity 
of mind which you and a few others possess, for in that case 
the more different things in hand the pleasanter the work ; 
but, though I hope I never shall be idle, such is not the case 
with me. 

Ever, dear Henslow, 

Yours most truly, 


[He ultimately accepted the post, and held it for three years 
from February 16, 1838, to February 19, 1841. 

After being assured of the Grant for the publication of the 
' Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle? there was much to be 
done in arranging the scheme of publication, and this occupied 
him during part of October and November.] 


C. Danvin to jf. S. Hensloiv. 

[4th November, 1837.] 


. . . Pray tell Leonard * that my Government work is 
going on smoothly, and I hope will be prosperous. He 
will see in the Prospectus his name attached to the fish ; 
I set my shoulders to the work with a good heart I am 
very much better than I was during the last month before 
my Shrewsbury visit. I fear the Geology will take me a 
great deal of time ; I was looking over one set of notes, and 
the quantity I found I had to read, for that one place was 
frightful. If I live till I am eighty years old I shall not cease 
to man-el at finding myself an author ; in the summer before 
I started, if any one had told me that I should have been an 
angel by this time, I should have thought it an equal im- 
possibility. This marvellous transformation is all owing 
to you. 

I am sorry to find that a good many errata are left in the 
part of my volume, which is printed. During my absence 
Mr. Colburn employed some goose to revise, and he has 
multiplied, instead of diminishing my oversights : but for all 
that, the smooth paper and clear type has a charming appear- 
ance, and I sat the other evening gazing in silent admiration 
at the first page of my own volume, when I received it from 
the printers ! 

Good bye, my dear Hcnslow, 



[From the beginning of this year to nearly the end of June 
he was busily employed on the zoological and geological 
results of his voyage. This spell of work was interrupted 

* Rev. L. Jenyns. 

1838.] CAMBRIDGE. 289 

only by a visit of three days to Cambridge, in May ; and 
even this short holiday was taken in consequence of failing 
health, as we may assume ^ from the entry in his diary : 
"May ist, unwell," and from a letter to his sister (May 16, 
1838), when he wrote : 

" My trip of three days to Cambridge has done me such 
wonderful good, and filled my limbs with such elasticity, that 
I must get a little work out of my body before another holi- 
day." This holiday seems to have been thoroughly enjoyed ; 
he wrote to his sister : 

" Now for Cambridge : I stayed at Henslow's house and 
enjoyed my visit extremely. My friends gave me a most 
cordial welcome. Indeed, I was quite a lion there. Mrs. 
Henslow unfortunately was obliged to go on Friday for a 
visit in the country. That evening we had at Henslow's a 
brilliant party of all the geniuses in Cambridge, and a most 
remarkable set of men they most assuredly are. On Saturday 
I rode over to L. Jenyns', and spent the morning with him. 
I found him very cheerful, but bitterly complaining of his 
solitude. On Saturday evening dined at one of the Colleges, 
played at bowls on the College Green after dinner, and was 
deafened with nightingales singing. Sunday, dined in Trinity ; 
capital dinner, and was very glad to sit by Professor Lee* . . . ; 
I find him a very pleasant chatting man, and in high spirits 
like a boy, at having lately returned from a living or a curacy, 
for seven years in Somersetshire, to civilised society and 
oriental manuscripts. He had exchanged his living to one 
within fourteen miles of Cambridge, and seemed perfectly 
happy. In the evening attended Trinity Chapel, and heard 
' The Heavens are telling the Glory of God,' in magnificent 
style ; the last chorus seemed to shake the very walls of the 
College. After chapel a large party in Sedgwick's rooms. 
So much for my Annals." 

* Samuel Lee, of Queens', was 1831, and Regius Professor of He- 
Professor of Arabic from 1819 to brew from 1831 to 1848. 

290 LONDON AND CAMBRIDtil. [1838. 

He started, towards the end of June, on his expedition to 
Glen Roy, of which he writes to Fox : " I have not been 
very well of late, which has suddenly determined me to leave 
London earlier than I had anticipated. I go by the steam- 
packet to Edinburgh, take a solitary walk on Salisbury Craigs, 
and call up old thoughts of former times, then go on to 
Glasgow and the great valley of Inverness, near which I intend 
stopping a week to geologise the parallel roads of Glen Roy, 
thence to Shrewsbury, Maer for one day, and London for 
smoke, ill-health and hard work." 

He spent "eight good days" over the Parallel Roads. His 
Essay on this subject was written out during the same summer, 
and published by the Royal Society.* He wrote in his Pocket 
Book: "September 6 [1838]. Finished the paper on 'Glen 
Roy,' one of the most difficult and instructive tasks I was ever 
engaged on." It will be remembered that in his ' Recollec- 
tions ' he speaks of this paper as a failure, of which he was 

At the time at which he wrote, the latest theory of the 
formation of the Parallel Roads was that of Sir Lauder Dick 
and Dr. Macculloch, who believed that lakes had anciently 
existed in Glen Roy, caused by dams of rock or alluvium. 
In arguing against this theory he conceived that he had dis- 
proved the admissibility of any lake theory, but in this point 
he was mistaken. He wrote (Glen Roy paper, p. 49) " the 
conclusion is inevitable, that no hypothesis founded on the 
supposed existence of a sheet of water confined by barriers, 
that is a lake, can be admitted as solving the problematical 
origin of the parallel roads of Lochaber." 

Mr. Archibald Geikie has been so good as to allow me to 
quote a passage from a letter addressed to me (Nov. 19, 
1884) in compliance with my request for his opinion on the 
character of my father's Glen Roy work : 

" Mr. Darwin's ' Glen Roy ' paper, I need not say, is marked 
* PhiL Trans.' 1839, pp. 39-82. 

1838.] GLEX ROY. 291 

by all his characteristic acutcncss of observation and determina- 
tion to consider all possible objections. It is a curious example, 
however, of the danger of reasoning by a method of exclusion 
in Natural Science. Finding that the waters which formed 
the terraces in the Glen Roy region could not possibly have 
been dammed back by barriers of rock or of detritus, he saw 
no alternative but to regard them as the work of the sea. 
Had the idea of transient barriers of glacier-ice occurred to 
him, he would have found the difficulties vanish from the 
lake-theory which he opposed, and he would not have been 
unconsciously led to minimise the altogether overwhelming 
objections to the supposition that the terraces are of marine 

It may be added that the idea of the barriers being formed 
by glaciers could hardly have occurred to him, considering 
what was the state of knowledge at the time, and bearing in 
mind his want of opportunities of observing glacial action 
on a large scale. 

The latter half of July was passed at Shrewsbury and Maer. 
The only entry of any interest is one of being "very idle" at 
Shrewsbury, and of opening "a note-book connected with 
metaphysical inquiries." In August he records that he read 
" a good deal of various amusing books, and paid some atten- 
tion to metaphysical subjects." 

The work done during the remainder of the year comprises 
the book on coral reefs (begun in October), and some work 
on the phenomena of elevation in S. America.] 

C. Darwin to C. LyelL 

36 Great Marlborough Street, 

August 9th [1838], 


I did not write to you at Norwich, for I thought 
I should have more to say, if I waited a few more days. Very 
many thanks for the present of your 'Elements,' which I 
VOL. I. X 


received (and I believe the very first copy distributed) together 
with your note. I have read it through every word, and am 
full of admiration of it, and, as I now see no geologist, I must 
talk to you about it. There is no pleasure in reading a book 
if one cannot have a good talk over it ; I repeat, I am full of 
admiration of it, it is as clear as daylight, in fact I felt in 
many parts some mortification at thinking how geologists 
have laboured and struggled at proving what seems, as you 
have put it, so evidently probable. I read with much interest 
your sketch of the secondary deposits ; you have contrived to 
make it quite "juicy," as we used to say as children of a good 
story. There was also much new to me, and I have to copy 
out some fifty notes and references. It must do good, the 
heretics against common sense must yield. . . . By the way, 
do you recollect my telling you how much I disliked the 

manner referred to his other works, as much as to say, 

"You must, ought, and shall buy everything I have written." 
To my mind, you have somehow quite avoided this ; your 
references only seem to say, " I can't tell you all in this work, 
else I would, so you must go to the ' Principles ' ; and man}' a 
one, I trust, you will send there, and make them, like me, 
adorers of the good science of rock-breaking. You will see I 
am in a fit of enthusiasm, and good cause I have to be, when 
I find you have made such infinitely more use of my Journal 
than I could have anticipated. I will say no more about the 
book, for it is all praise. I must, however, admire the elabo- 
rate honesty with which you quote the words of all living and 
dead geologists. 

My Scotch expedition answered brilliantly ; my trip in the 
steam-packet was absolutely pleasant, and I enjoyed the spec- 
tacle, wretch that I am, of two ladies, and some small children 
quite sea-sick, I being well. Moreover, on my return from 
Glasgow to Liverpool, I triumphed in a similar manner over 
some full-grown men. I stayed one whole day in Edinburgh, 
or more truly on Salisbury Craigs ; I want to hear some day 

3838.] GLEN ROY. 293 

what you think about that classical ground, the structure 
was to me new and rather curious, that is, if I understand it 
right. I crossed from Edinburgh in gigs and carts (and carts 
without springs, as I never shall forget) to Loch Leven. I 
was disappointed in the scenery, and reached Glen Roy on 
Saturday evening, one week after leaving Marlborough Street. 
Here I enjoyed five [?] days of the most beautiful weather with 
gorgeous sunsets, and all nature looking as happy as I felt. 
I wandered over the mountains in all directions, and examined 
that most extraordinary district. I think, without any excep- 
tions, not even the first volcanic island, the first elevated 
beach, or the passage of the Cordillera, was so interesting to 
nic as this week. It is far the most remarkable area I ever 
examined. I have fully convinced myself (after some doubt- 
ing at first) that the shelves are sea-beaches, although I could 
not find a trace of a shell ; and I think I can explain away 
most, if not all, the difficulties. I found a piece of a road in 
another valley, not hitherto observed, which is important ; 
and I have some curious facts about erratic blocks, one of 
which was perched up on a peak 2200 feet above the sea. I 
am now employed in writing a paper on the subject, which I 
find very amusing work, excepting that I cannot anyhow con- 
dense it into reasonable limits. At some future day I hope 
to talk over some of the conclusions with you, which the 
examination of Glen Roy has led me to. Now I have had 
.my talk out, I am much easier, for I can assure you Glen Roy 
3ias astonished me. 

I am living very quietly, and therefore pleasantly, and am 
crawling on slowly but steadily with my work. I have come 
to one conclusion, which you will think proves me to be 
.a very sensible man, namely, that whatever you say proves 
right ; and as a proof of this, I am coming into your way of 
only working about two hours at a spell ; I then go out and 
do my business in the streets, return and set to work again, 
and thus make two separate days out of one. The new plan 

X 2 


answers capitally ; after the second half day is finished I go 
and dine at the Athenaeum like a gentleman, or rather like a 
lord, for I am sure the first evening I sat in that great draw- 
ing-room, all on a sofa by myself, I felt just like a duke. I 
am full of admiration at the Athenaeum, one meets so many 
people there that one likes to see. The very first time I 
dined there (i.c. last week) I met Dr. Fitton * at the door, and 
he got together quite a party Robert Brown, who is gone to 
Paris and Auvergne, Macleay [?] and Dr. Boott.t Your helping 
me into the Athenaeum has not been thrown away, and I 
enjoy it the more because I fully expected to detest it. 

I am writing you a most unmerciful letter, but I shall get 
Owen to take it to Newcastle. If you have a mind to be a 
very generous man you will write to me from Kinnordy,^ and 
tell me some Newcastle news, as well as about the Craig, and 
about yourself and Mrs. Lyell, and everything else in the 
world. I will send by Hall the ' Entomological Transactions,' 
which I have borrowed for you ; you will be disappointed in 

's papers, that is if you suppose my dear friend has a 

single clear idea upon any one subject. He has so involved 
recent insects and true fossil insects in one table that I fear 
you will not make much out of it, though it is a subject which 
ought I should think to come into the ' Principles." You will 

* W. H. Fitton (b. 1780, d. 1861) the Gardeners' Chronicle, 1864) 

was a physician and geologist, and as having been one of the first 

sometime president of the Geo- physicians in London who gave up 

logical Society. He established the customary black coat, knee- 

the ' Proceedings,' a mode of publi- breeches and silk stockings, and 

cation afterwards adopted by other adopted the ordinary dress of the 

societies. period, a blue coat with brass but- 

f Francis Boott (b. 1792, d. 1863) tons, and a buff waistcoat, a cos- 
is chiefly known as a botanist tume which he continued to wear 
through his work on the genus to the last. After giving up prac- 
Carex. He was also well known in tice, which he did early in life, he 
connection with the Linnean Society spent much of his time in acts of 
of which he was for many years an unpretending philanthropy, 
office-bearer. He is described (in J The house of Lyell's father, 
a biographical sketch published in 

1838.] FITTON, BOOTT. 295 

be amused at some of the ridiculo-sublime passages in the 
papers, and no doubt will feel acutely a sneer there is at your- 
self. I have heard from more than one quarter that quarrel- 
ling is expected at Newcastle * ; I am sorry to hear it. I met 

old this evening at the Athenaeum, and he muttered 

something about writing to you or some one on the subject ; 
I am however all in the dark. I suppose, however, I shall be 
illuminated, for I am going to dine with him in a few days, as 
my inventive powers failed in making any excuse. A friend 
of mine dined with him the other day, a party of four, and 
they finished ten bottles of wine a pleasant prospect for me ; 
but I am determined not even to taste his wine, partly for the 
fun of seeing his infinite disgust and surprise. . . . 

I pity you the infliction of this most unmerciful letter. 
Pray remember me most kindly to Mrs. Lyell when you arrive 
at Kinnordy. I saw her name in the landlord's book of In- 
verorum. Tell Mrs. Lyell to read the second series of ' Mr. 
Slick of Slickville's Sayings.' . . . He almost beats "Samivel/' 
that prince of heroes. Good night, my dear Lyell ; you will 
think I have been drinking some strong drink to write so 
much nonsense, but I did not even taste Minerva's small beer 

Yours most sincerely, 


C. Darwin to C. Lyell. 

Friday night, September I3th [1838]. 


I was astonished and delighted at your gloriously 
long letter, and I am sure I am very much obliged to 
Mrs. Lyell for having taken the trouble to write so much.f 
I mean to have a good hour's enjoyment and scribble away 

* At the meeting of the British t Lyell dictated much of his 

Association. correspondence. 


to you, who have so much geological sympathy that I do 
not care how egotistically I write. . . . 

I have got so much to say about all sorts of trifling things 
that I hardly know what to begin about. I need not say 
how pleased I am to hear that Mr. Lyell * likes my Journal. 
To hear such tidings is a kind of resurrection, for I feel 
towards my first-born child as if it had long since been dead, 
buried, and forgotten ; but the past is nothing and the future 
everything to us geologists, as you show in your capital 
motto to the ' Elements." By the way, have you read the 
article, in the ' Edinburgh Review,' on M. Comte, ' Cours dc 
la Philosophic ' (or some such title) ? It is capital ; there are 
some fine sentences about the very essence of science being 
prediction, which reminded me of " its law being progress." 

I will now begin and go through your letter seriatim. 
I dare say your plan of putting the Elie dc Beaumont's 
chapter separately and early will be very good ; anyhow,, 
it is showing a bold front in the first edition which is to 
be translated into French. It will be a curious point to- 
geologists hereafter to note how long a man's name will 
support a theory so completely exposed as that of De Beau- 
mont's has been by you ; you say you " begin to hope that 
the great principles there insisted on will stand the test of 
time." Begin to Iwpe : why, the possibility of a doubt has never 
crossed my mind for many a day. This may be very un- 
philosophical, but my geological salvation is staked on it. 
After having just come back from Glen Roy, and found 
how difficulties smooth away under your principles, it makes 
me quite indignant that you should talk of hoping. With 
respect to the question, how far my coral theory bears on 
De Beaumont's theory, I think it would be prudent to quote 
me with great caution until my whole account is published, 
and then you (and others) can judge how far there is founda- 
tion for such generalisation. Mind, I do not doubt its truth ; 
* Father of the geologist. 

1838.] GEOLOGY. 297 

but the extension of any view over such large spaces, from 
comparatively few facts, must be received with much caution. 
I do not myself the least doubt that within the recent (or 
as you, much to my annoyment, would call it, "New 
Pliocene ") period, tortuous bands not all the bands parallel 
to each other have been elevated and corresponding ones 
subsided, though within the same period some parts probably 
remained for a time stationary, or even subsided. I do not 
believe a more utterly false view could have been invented 
than great straight lines being suddenly thrown up. 

When my book on Volcanoes and Coral Reefs will be pub- 
lished I hardly know ; I fear it will be at least four or five 
months ; though, mind, the greater part is written. I find so 
much time is lost in correcting details and ascertaining their 
accuracy. The Government Zoological work is a millstone 
round my neck, and the Glen Roy paper has lost me six 
weeks. I will not, however, say lost ; for, supposing I can 
prove to others' satisfaction what I have convinced myself is 
the case, the inference I think you will allow to be important. 
I cannot doubt that the molten matter beneath the earth's 
crust possesses a high degree of fluidity, almost like the sea 
beneath the block ice. By the way, I hope you will give me 
some Swedish case to quote, of shells being preserved on the 
surface, but not in contemporaneous beds of gravel. . . . 

Remember what I have often heard you say : the country 
is very bad for the intellects ; the Scotch mists will put out 
some volcanic speculations. You see I am affecting to 
become very Cockneyfied, and to despise the poor country- 
folk, who breathe fresh air instead of smoke, and see the 
goodly fields instead of the brick houses in Marlborough 
Street, the very sight of which I confess I abhor. I am glad 
to hear what a favourable report you give of the British 
Association. I am the more pleased because I have been 
fighting its battle with Basil Hall, Stokes, and several others, 
having made up my mind, from the report in the Athenaum, 

298 LONDON AND C. \M1JKI1H, I.. [1838. 

that it must have been an excellent meeting. I have been 
much amused with an account I have received of the wars 
of Don Roderick * and Babbage. What a grievous pity it 
is that the latter should be so implacable . . . This is a 
most rigmarole letter, for after each sentence I take breath, 
and you will have need of it in reading it. ... 

I wish with all my heart that my Geological book was out. 
I have every motive to work hard, and will, following your 
steps, work just that degree of hardness to keep well. I 
should like my volume to be out before your new edition of 
' Principles ' appears. Besides the Coral theory, the volcanic 
chapters will, I think, contain some new facts. I have lately 
been sadly tempted to be idle that is, as far as pure geology 
is concerned by the delightful number of new views which 
have been coming in thickly and steadily, on the classification 
and affinities and instincts of animals bearing on the 
question of species. Note-book after note-book has been 
filled with facts which begin to group themselves clearly 
under sub-laws. 

Good night, my dear Lyell. I have filled my letter and 
enjoyed my talk to you as much as I can without having you 
in propriA personfi. Think of the bad effects of the country 
so once more good night 

Ever yours, 


Pray again give my best thanks to Mrs. Lyell. 

[The record of what he wrote during the year does not 
give a true index of the most important work that was in 
progress, the laying of the foundation-stones of what was to 
be the achievement of his life. This is shown in the fore- 
going letter to Lyell, where he speaks of being " idle," and 
the following extract from a letter to Fox, written in June, is 
of interest in this point of view : 

* Murchison. 

1 839.] MARRIAGE. 299 

" I am delighted to hear you are such a good man as not 
to have forgotten my questions about the crossing of animals. 
It is my prime hobby, and I really think some day I shall be 
able to do something in that most intricate subject, species 
and varieties."] 

1839 to 1841. 

[In the winter of 1839 (Jan. 29) my father was married to 
his cousin, Emma Wedgwood.* The house in which they 
lived for the first few years of their married life, No. 12 Upper 
Gower Street, was a small common-place London house, with 
a drawing-room in front, and a small room behind, in which 
they lived for the sake of quietness. In later years my 
father used to laugh over the surpassing ugliness of the 
furniture, carpets, &c., of the Gower Street house. The only 
redeeming feature was a better garden than most London 
houses have, a strip as wide as the house, and thirty yards 
long. Even this small space of dingy grass made their 
London house more tolerable to its two country-bred 

Of his life in London he writes to Fox (October 1839): 
" We are living a life of extreme quietness ; Delamere itself, 
which you describe as so secluded a spot, is, I will answer for 
it, quite dissipated compared with Gower Street. We have 
given up all parties, for they agree with neither of us ; and if 
one is quiet in London, there is nothing like its quietness 
there is a grandeur about its smoky fogs, and the dull distant 
sounds of cabs and coaches ; in fact you may perceive I am 
becoming a thorough-paced Cockney, and I glory in thoughts 
that I shall be here for the next six months." 

The entries of ill health in the Diary increase in number 
during these years, and as a consequence the holidays 
become longer and more frequent. From April 26 to May 13, 

* Daughter of Josiah Wedgwood of Maer, and grand-daughter of the 
founder of the Etruria Pottery Works. 


1839, he was at Maer and Shrewsbury. Again, from 
August 23 to October 2 he was away from London at 
Maer, Shrewsbury, and at Birmingham for the meeting of 
the British Association. 

The entry under August 1839 is: "During my visit to- 
Maer, read a little, was much unwell and scandalously idle. 
I have derived this much good, that nothing is so intolerable 
as idleness." 

At the end of 1839 his eldest child was born, and it was 
then that he began his observations ultimately published in 
the 'Expression of the Emotions.' His book on this subject,, 
and the short paper published in ' Mind/ * show how closely 
he observed his child. He seems to have been surprised, 
at his own feeling for a young baby, for he wrote to Fox 
(July 1840) : " He [i.e. the baby] is so charming that I cannot, 
pretend to any modesty. I defy anybody to flatter us on 
our baby, for I defy any one to say anything in its praise of 
which we are not fully conscious. ... I had not the smallest 
conception there was so much in a five-month baby. You- 
will perceive by this that I have a fine degree of paternal, 

During these years he worked intermittently at ' Coral 
Reefs,' being constantly interrupted by ill health. Thus he- 
speaks of " recommencing " the subject in February 1839, and. 
again in the October of the same year, and once more in 
July 1841, "after more than thirteen months' interval." His. 
other scientific work consisted of a contribution to the 
Geological Society,! on the boulders and "till" of South 
America, as well as a few other minor papers on geological 
subjects. He also worked busily at the ornithological part of 
the Zoology of the Beagle, i.e. the notice of the habits and 
ranges of the birds which were described by Gould.] 

* July 1877- 

f ' CIcol. Soc. 1'roc.' iii. 1842, and ' Geol. Soc. Trans.' vi. 

1840.] HEALTH. 301 

C. Darwin to C. Lyell. 

Wednesday morning [February 1840]. 


Many thanks for your kind note. I will send for the 
Scotsman. Dr. Holland thinks he has found out what is the 
matter with me, and now hopes he shall be able to set me 
going again. Is it not mortifying, it is now nine weeks since 
I have done a whole day's work, and not more than four half 
days. But I won't grumble any more, though it is hard work 
to prevent doing so. Since receiving your note I have read 
over my chapter on Coral, and find I am prepared to stand by 
almost everything ; it is much more cautiously and accurately 
written than I thought. I had set my heart upon having my 
volume completed before your new edition, but not, you may 
believe me, for you to notice anything new in it (for there is. 
very little besides details), but you are the one man in Europe 
whose opinion of the general truth of a toughish argument I 
should be always most anxious to hear. My MS. is in such 
confusion, otherwise I am sure you should most willingly, if it 
had been worth your while, have looked at any part you 


* * * # 

[In a letter to Fox (January 1841) he shows that his 
" Species work " was still occupying his mind : 

" If you attend at all to Natural History I send you this 
P.S. as a memento, that I continue to collect all kinds of facts- 
about ' Varieties and Species,' for my some-day work to be so- 
entitled ; the smallest contributions thankfully accepted ; 
descriptions of offspring of all crosses between all domestic 
birds and animals, dogs, cats, &c., &c., very valuable. Don't. 
forget, if your half-bred African cat should die that I should 
be very much obliged for its carcase sent up in a little hamper 
for the skeleton ; it, or any cross-bred pigeons, fowl, duck, 
&c., &c., will be more acceptable than the finest haunch of 
venison, or the finest turtle." 


Later in the year (September) he writes to Fox about his 
health, and also with reference to his plan of moving into the 
country : 

" I have steadily been gaining ground, and really believe 
now I shall some day be quite strong. I write daily for a 
couple of hours on my Coral volume, and take a little walk or 
ride every day. I grow very tired in the evenings, and am 
not able to go out at that time, or hardly to receive my 
nearest relations ; but my life ceases to be burdensome now 
that I can do something. We are taking steps to leave 
London, and live about twenty miles from it on some railway."] 


[The record of work includes his volume on ' Coral Reefs,' * 
the manuscript of which was at last sent to the printers in 
January of this year, and the last proof corrected in May. He 
thus writes of the work in his diary : 

" I commenced this work three years and seven months 
ago. Out of this period about twenty months (besides work 
during Beagtes voyage) has been spent on it, and besides 
it, I have only compiled the Bird part of Zoology ; Appendix 
to Journal, paper on Boulders, and corrected papers on Glen 
Roy and earthquakes, reading on species, and rest all lost 
by illness." 

In May and June he was at Shrewsbury and Maer, whence 
he went on to make the little tour in Wales, of which he 
spoke in his ' Recollections,' and of which the results were 
published as " Notes on the effects produced by the ancient 
glaciers of Caernarvonshire, and on the Boulders transported 
by floating Ice." f 

* A notice of the Coral Reef f 'Philosophical Magazine,' 1842, 
work appeared in the 'Geograph. p. 352. 
Soc. Journal,' xii. p. 115. 


Mr. Archibald Geikie speaks of this paper as standing 
" almost at the top of the long list of English contributions to 
the history of the Ice Age." * 

The latter part of this year belongs to the period including 
the settlement at Down, and is therefore dealt with in another 
chapter.] . 

* Charles Darwin, 'Nature' Series, p. 23. 

( 304 ) 



'[THE history of this part of my father's life may justly include 
some mention of his religious views. For although, as he 
points out, he did not give continuous systematic thought to 
religious questions, yet we know from his own words that 
about this time (1836-39) the subject was much before his 

In his published works he was reticent on the matter of 
religion, and what he has left on the subject was not written 
M'ith a view to publication.* 

I believe that his reticence arose from several causes. He 
felt strongly that a man's religion is an essentially private 
matter, and one concerning himself alone. This is indicated 
by the following extract from a letter of 1879 : f 

" What my own views may be is a question of no con- 
sequence to any one but myself. But, as you ask, I may state 
that my judgment often fluctuates ... In my most extreme 
fluctuations I have never been an Atheist in the sense of 
denying the existence of a God. I think that generally (and 
more and more as I grow older), but not always, that an 
Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state 
of mind." 

* As an exception may be men- be published in the Index. 
tioned, a few words of concurrence f Addressed to Mr. J. Fordyce, 

with Dr. Abbott's 'Truths for the and published by him in his 'Aspects 

Times, 1 which my father allowed to of Scepticism,' 1883. 


He naturally shrank from wounding the sensibilities of 
'Others in religious matters, and he was also influenced by the 
consciousness that a man ought not to publish on a subject 
to which he has not given special and continuous thought. 
That he felt this caution to apply to himself in the matter of 
religion is shown in a letter to Dr. F. E. Abbott, of Cam- 
bridge, U.S. (Sept. 6, 1871). After explaining that the 
weakness arising from his bad health prevented him from 
feeling "equal to deep reflection, on the deepest subject 
which can fill a man's mind," he goes on to say: "With 
: respect to my former notes to you, I quite forget their 
contents. I have to write many letters, and can reflect but 
little on what I write ; but I fully believe and hope that 
I have never written a word, which at the time I did not 
.think ; but I think you will agree with me, that anything 
which is to be given to the public ought to be maturely 
weighed and cautiously put. It never occurred to me that 
you would wish to print any extract from my notes : if it 
.had, I would have kept a copy. I put 'private' from habit, 
only as yet partially acquired, from some hasty notes of mine 
having been printed, which were not in the least degree 
worth printing, though otherwise unobjectionable. It is simply 
ridiculous to suppose that my former note to you would be 
worth sending to me, with any part marked which you desire 
to print ; but if you like to do so, I will at once say whether 
I should have any objection. I feel in some degree unwilling 
to express myself publicly on religious subjects, as I do not 
feel that I have thought deeply enough to justify any 

I may also quote from another letter to Dr. Abbott 
(Nov. 1 6, 1871), in which my father gives more fully his 
reasons for not feeling competent to write on religious and 
moral subjects : 

" I can say with entire truth that I feel honoured by your 
request that I should become a contributor to the Index, 


and am much obliged for the draft. I fully, also, subscribe 
to the proposition that it is the duty of every one to spread 
what he believes to be the truth ; and I honour you for doing 
so, with so much devotion and zeal. But I cannot comply 
with your request for the following reasons ; and excuse me 
for giving them in some detail, as I should be very sorry to 
appear in your eyes ungracious. My health is very weak : 
I never pass 24 hours without many hours of discomfort, 
when I can do nothing whatever. I have thus, also, lost two- 
whole consecutive months this season. Owing to this weak- 
ness, and my head being often giddy, I am unable to master 
new subjects requiring much thought, and can deal only with 
old materials. At no time am I a quick thinker or writer : 
whatever I have done in science has solely been by long 
pondering, patience and industry. 

" Now I have never systematically thought much on religion 
in relation to science, or on morals in relation to society ; and 
without steadily keeping my mind on such subjects for a 
long period, I am really incapable of writing anything worth 
sending to the Index? 

He was more than once asked to give his views on religion, 
and he had, as a rule, no objection to doing so in a private 
letter. Thus in answer to a Dutch student, he wrote 
(April 2, 1873):- 

" I am sure you will excuse my writing at length, when I 
tell you that I have long been much out of health, and am 
now staying away from my home for rest. 

" It is impossible to answer your question briefly ; and I am 
not sure that I could do so, even if I wrote at some length. 
But I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this 
grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose 
through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the 
existence of God ; but whether^ this is an argument of real 
value, I have never been able to decide. I am aware that if 
we admit a first cause, the mind still craves to know whence 


it came, and how it arose. Nor can I overlook the difficulty 
from the immense amount of suffering through the world. I 
am, also, induced to defer to a certain extent to the judg- 
ment of the many able men who have fully believed in 
God; but here again I see how poor an argument this is. 
The safest conclusion seems to me that the whole subject 
is beyond the scope of man's intellect ; but man can do 
his duty." 

Again in 1879 he was applied to by a German student, in 
a similar manner. The letter was answered by a member of 
my father's family, who wrote : 

" Mr. Darwin begs me to say that he receives so many 
letters, that he cannot answer them all. 

" He considers that the theory of Evolution is quite 
compatible with the belief in a God ; but that you must 
remember that different persons have different definitions of 
what they mean by God." 

This, however, did not satisfy the German youth, who 
again wrote to my father, and received from him the following 
reply : 

" I am much engaged, an old man, and out of health, and 
I cannot spare time to answer your questions fully, nor 
indeed can they be answered. Science has nothing to do 
with Christ, except in so far as the habit of scientific research 
makes a man cautious in admitting evidence. For myself, 
I do not believe that there ever has been any revelation. As 
for a future life, every man must judge for himself between 
conflicting vague probabilities." 

The passages which here follow are extracts, somewhat 
abbreviated, from a part of the Autobiography, written in 
1876, in which my father gives the history of his religious 
views : 

" During these two years * I was led to think much about 
religion. Whilst on board the Beagle I was quite orthodox, 
* Oct. 1836 to Jan. 1839. 

VOL. I. Y 


and I remember being heartily laughed at by several of the 
officers (though themselves orthodox) for quoting the Bible as. 
an unanswerable authority on some point of morality. I 
suppose it was the novelty of the argument that amused, 
them. But I had gradually come by this time, i.e. 1836 
to 1839, to sec that the Old Testament was no more to be 
trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos. The question 
then continually rose before my mind and would not be 
banished, is it credible that if God were now to make a 
revelation to the Hindoos, he would permit it to be con- 
nected with the belief in Vishnu, Siva, &c., as Christianity is- 
connected with the Old Testament? This appeared to me 
utterly incredible. 

" By further reflecting that the clearest evidence would be 
requisite to make any sane man believe in the miracles by 
which Christianity is supported, and that the more we 
know of the fixed laws of nature the more incredible do 
miracles become, that the men at that time were ignorant 
and credulous to a degree almost incomprehensible by us, 
that the Gospels cannot be proved to have been written 
simultaneously with the events, that they differ in many 
important details, far too important, as it seemed to me, 
to be admitted as the usual inaccuracies of eye-witnesses ; 
by such reflections as these, which I give not as having 
the least novelty or value, but as they influenced me, I 
gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine 
revelation. The fact that many false religions have spread 
over large portions of the earth like wild-fire had some 
weight with me. 

" But I was very unwilling to give up my belief ; I feel 
sure of this, for I can well remember often and often inventing 
day-dreams of old letters between distinguished Romans, and 
manuscripts being discovered at Pompeii or elsewhere, which 
confirmed in the most striking manner all that was written in 
the Gospels. But I found it more and more difficult, with free 


scope given to my imagination, to invent evidence which 
would suffice to convince me. Thus disbelief crept over me at 
a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so 
slow that I felt no distress. 

"Although I did not think much about the existence of 
a personal God until a considerably later period of my life, 
I will here give the vague conclusions to which I have been 
driven. The old argument from design in Nature, as given 
by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, 
now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. 
We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge 
of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent 
being, like the hinge of a door by man. There seems to be 
no more design in the variability of organic beings, and in the 
action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind 
blows. But I have discussed this subject at the end of my 
book on the ' Variation of Domesticated Animals and Plants/ * 
and the argument there given has never, as far as I can see, 
been answered. 

" But passing over the endless beautiful adaptations which 
we everywhere meet with, it may be asked how can the gene- 
rally beneficent arrangement of the world be accounted for ? 
Some writers indeed are so much impressed with the amount 
of suffering in the world, that they doubt, if we look to all 
sentient beings, whether there is more of misery or of happi- 
ness ; whether the world as a whole is a good or bad one. 

* My father asks whether we are shadow of reason can be assigned 
to believe that the forms are pre- for the belief that variations, alike 
ordained of the broken fragments in nature and the result of the same 
of rock tumbled from a precipice general laws, which have been the 
which are fitted together by man groundwork through natural selec- 
to build his houses. If not, why tion of the formation of the most 
should we believe that the varia- perfectly adapted animals in the 
tions of domestic animals or plants world, man included, were intention- 
are preordained for the sake of the ally and specially guided."' The 
breeder? "But if we give up the Variation of Animals and Plants,' 
principle in one case, ... no ist Edit. vol. ii. p. 431. F. D. 

Y 2 


According to myjudgmcnt happiness decidedly prcvails,though 
this would be very difficult to prove. If the truth of this con- 
clusion be granted, it harmonizes well with the effects which 
we might expect from natural selection. If all the individuals 
of any species were habitually to suffer to an extreme degree, 
they would neglect to propagate their kind ; but we have no 
reason to believe that this has ever, or at least often occurred. 
Some other considerations, moreover, lead to the belief that all 
sentient beings have been formed so as to enjoy, as a general 
rule, happiness. 

" Every one who believes, as I do, that all the corporeal and 
mental organs (excepting those which are neither advantageous 
nor disadvantageous to the possessor) of all beings have been 
developed through natural selection, or the survival of the 
fittest, together with use or habit, will admit that these organs 
have been formed so that their possessors may compete suc- 
cessfully with other beings, and thus increase in number. Now 
an animal may be led to pursue that course of action which is 
most beneficial to the species by suffering,, such as pain, 
hunger, thirst, and fear ; or by pleasure, as in eating and 
drinking, and in the propagation of the species, &c. ; or by 
both means combined, as in the search for food. But pain or 
suffering of any kind, if long continued, causes depression and 
lessens the power of action, yet is well adapted to make a 
creature guard itself against any great or sudden evil. Plea- 
surable sensations, on the other hand, may be long continued 
without any depressing effect ; on the contrary, they stimulate 
the whole system to increased action. Hence it has come to 
pass that most or all sentient beings have been developed in 
such a manner, through natural selection, that pleasurable 
sensations serve as their habitual guides. We see this in the 
pleasure from exertion, even occasionally from great exertion 
of the body or mind, in the pleasure of our daily meals, and 
especially in the pleasure derived from sociability, and from 
loving our families. The sum of such pleasures as these, 


which arc habitual or frequently recurrent, give, as I can 
hardly doubt, to most sentient beings an excess of happiness 
over misery, although many occasionally suffer much. Such 
suffering is quite compatible with the belief in Natural Selec- 
tion, which is not perfect in its action, but tends only to render 
each species as successful as possible in the battle for life 
with other species, in wonderfully complex and changing 

" That there is much suffering in the world no one disputes. 
Some have attempted to explain this with reference to man 
by imagining that it serves for his moral improvement. But 
the number of men in the world is as nothing compared with 
that of all other sentient beings, and they often suffer greatly 
without any moral improvement. This very old argument 
from the existence of suffering against the existence of an 
intelligent First Cause seems to me a strong one ; whereas, 
as just remarked, the presence of much suffering agrees well 
with the view that all organic beings have been developed 
through variation and natural selection. 

"At the present day the most usual argument for the exist- 
ence of an intelligent God is drawn from the deep inward 
conviction and feelings which are experienced by most 

" Formerly I was led by feelings such as those just referred 
to (although I do not think that the religious sentiment was 
ever strongly developed in me), to the firm conviction of the 
existence of God, and of the immortality of the soul. In 
my Journal I wrote that whilst standing in the midst 
of the grandeur of a Brazilian forest, "it is not possible 
to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, 
admiration, and devotion, which fill and elevate the mind. " 
I well remember my conviction that there is more in man 
than the mere breath of his body. But now the grandest 
scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings to 
rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man 

312 RKLIGH'X. 

who has become colour-blind, and the universal belief by men 
of the existence of redness makes my present loss of percep- 
tion of not the least value as evidence. This argument would 
be a valid one if all men of all races had the same inward 
conviction of the existence of one God ; but we know that 
this is very far from being the case. Therefore I cannot see 
that such inward convictions and feelings are of any weight as 
evidence of what really exists. The state of mind which grand 
scenes formerly excited in me, and which was intimately con- 
nected with a belief in God, did not essentially differ from 
that which is often called the sense of sublimity ; and however 
difficult it may be to explain the genesis of this sense, it can 
hardly be advanced as an argument for the existence of God, 
any more than the powerful though vague and similar feelings 
excited by music. 

" With respect to immortality, nothing shows me [so clearly] 
how strong and almost instinctive a belief it is, as the con- 
sideration of the view now held by most physicists, namely, 
that the sun with all the planets will in time grow too cold 
for life, unless indeed some great body dashes into the sun, 
and thus gives it fresh life. Believing as I do that man in 
the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than 
he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other 
sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after 
such long-continued slow progress. To those who fully admit 
the immortality of the human soul, the destruction of our 
world will not appear so dreadful. 

" Another source of conviction in the existence of God, con- 
nected with the reason, and not with the feelings, impresses me 
as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme 
difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense 
and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of 
looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of 
blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel com- 
pelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in 


some degree analogous to that of man ; and I deserve to be 
called a Theist. This conclusion was strong in my mind 
about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the 
4 Origin of Species ; ' and it is since that time that it has very 
gradually, with many fluctuations, become weaker. But then 
arises the doubt, can the mind of man, which has, as I fully 
believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed 
.by the lowest animals, be trusted when it draws such grand 
conclusions ? 

" I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse 
problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is 
insoluble by us ; and I for one must be content to remain an 

[The following letters repeat to some extent what has 
been given from the Autobiography. The first one refers 
to 'The Boundaries of Science, a Dialogue/ published in 
* Macmillan's Magazine,' for July 1861.] 

C. Danvin to Miss Julia Wedgwood. 

July ii [1861]. 

Some one has sent us ' Macmillan ' ; and I must tell you 
how much I admire your Article ; though at the same time 
I must confess that I could not clearly follow you in some 
parts, which probably is in main part due to my not being at 
all accustomed to metaphysical trains of thought. I think- 
that you understand my book * perfectly, and that I find a 
very rare event with my critics. The ideas in the last page 
have several times vaguely crossed my mind. Owing to 
several correspondents I have been led lately to think, or 
rather to try to think over some of the chief points discussed 
by you. But the result has been with me a maze some- 
thing like thinking on the origin of evil, to which you allude. 
The mind refuses to look at this universe, being what it is, 
* The ' Origin of Species.' 


without having been designed ; yet, where one would most 
expect design, viz. in the structure of a sentient being, the 
more I think on the subject, the less I can see proof of 
design. Asa Gray and some others look at each variation, 
or at least at each beneficial variation (which A. Gray would 
compare with the rain drops * which do not fall on the sea, 
but on to the land to fertilize it) as having been providentially 
designed. Yet when I ask him whether he looks at each 
variation in the rock-pigeon, by which man has made by 
accumulation a pouter or fantail pigeon, as providentially 
designed for man's amusement, he does not know what to 
answer ; and if he, or any one, admits [that] these variations 
are accidental, as far as purpose is concerned (of course not 
accidental as to their cause or origin) ; then I can see no 
reason why he should rank the accumulated variations by 
which the beautifully adapted woodpecker has been formed, 
as providentially designed. For it would be easy to imagine 
the enlarged crop of the pouter, or tail of the fantail, as 
of some use to birds, in a state of nature, having peculiar 
habits of life. These are the considerations which perplex 
me about design ; but whether you will care to hear them, I 

know not. 

* * * * 

[On the subject of design, he wrote (July 1860) to Dr. 
Gray : 

" One word more on ' designed laws ' and ' undesigned 
results.' I see a bird which I want for food, take my gun and 

* Dr. Gray's rain-drop metaphor what multitudes of rain-drops fall 

occurs in the Essay ' Darwin and back into the ocean are as much 

his Reviewers ' (' Danviniana,' p. without a final cause as the incipient 

157) : "The whole animate life of a varieties which come to nothing! 

country depends absolutely upon Does it therefore follow that the 

the vegetation, the vegetation upon rains which are bestowed upon the 

the rain. The moisture is furnished soil with such rule and average 

by the ocean, is raised by the sun's regularity were not designed to 

heat from the ocean's surface, and support vegetable and animal life?" 
is wafted inland by the winds. But 



kill it, I do this designedly. An innocent and good man stands 
under a tree and is killed by a flash of lightning. Do you 
believe (and I really should like to hear) that God designedly 
killed this man ? Many or most persons do believe this ; I 
can't and don't. If you believe so, do you believe that when 
a swallow snaps up a gnat that God designed that that par- 
ticular swallow should snap up that particular gnat at that 
particular instant ? I believe that the man and the gnat are 
in the same predicament. If the death of neither man nor 
gnat are designed, I see no good reason to believe that their 
first birth or production should be necessarily designed."] 

C. Darwin to W. Graham. 

Down, July 3rd, 1881. 


I hope that you will not think it intrusive on my part 
to thank you heartily for the pleasure which I have derived 
from reading your admirably written 'Creed of Science,' 
though I have not yet quite finished it, as now that I am old 
I read very slowly. It is a very long time since any other 
book has interested me so much. The work must have cost 
you several years and much hard labour with full leisure for 
work. You would not probably expect any one fully to agree 
with you on so many abstruse subjects ; and there are some 
points in your book which I cannot digest. The chief one is 
that the existence of so-called natural laws implies purpose. 
I cannot see this. Not to mention that many expect that 
the several great laws will some day be found to follow 
inevitably from some one single law, yet taking the laws as 
we now know them, and look at the moon, where the law of 
gravitation and no doubt of the conservation of energy of 
the atomic theory, &c. &c., hold good, and I cannot see that 
there is then necessarily any purpose. Would there be 
purpose if the lowest organisms alone, destitute of con- 


sciousness existed in the moon ? But I have had no practice 
in abstract reasoning, and I may be all astray. Nevertheless 
you have expressed my inward conviction, though far more 
vividly and clearly than I could have done, that the Universe 
-is not the result of chance.* But then with me the horrid 
doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, 
which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, 
are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust 
in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any con- 
victions in such a mind ? Secondly, I think that I could 
make somewhat of a case against the enormous importance 
which you attribute to our greatest men ; I have been 
-accustomed to think, second, third, and fourth rate men of 
very high importance, at least in the case of Science. Lastly, 
I could show fight on natural selection having done and 
doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem 
inclined to admit. Remember what risk the nations of Europe 
ran, not so many centuries ago of being overwhelmed by the 
Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is ! The more 
civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish 
hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world 
at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower 
races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races 
throughout the world. But I will write no more, and not 
even mention the many points in your work which have 

* The Duke of Argyll (' Good purposes in nature I said it was 

Words,' Ap. 1885, p. 244) has re- impossible to look at these without 

corded a few words on this subject, seeing that they were the effect and 

spoken by my father in the last the expression of mind. I shall 

year of his life. "... in the course never forget Mr. Darwin's answer, 

of that conversation I said to Mr. He looked at me very hard and 

Darwin, with reference to some of said, ' Well, that often comes over 

his own remarkable works on the me with overwhelming force ; but 

* Fertilisation of Orchids,' and upon at other times," and he shook his 

'* The Earthworms,' and various head vaguely, adding, " it seems to 

other observations he made of the go away.' " 
wonderful contrivances for certain 


mnuch interested me. I have indeed cause to apologise for 
troubling you with my impressions, and my sole excuse is 
tthe excitement in my mind which your book has aroused. 

I beg leave to remain, 
Dear Sir, 

Yours faithfully and obliged 


[My father spoke little on these subjects, and I can contribute 
mothing from my own recollection of his conversation which 
can add to the impression here given of his attitude towards 
Religion. Some further idea of his views may, however, be 
gathered from occasional remarks in his letters.]* 

* Dr. Aveling has published an atheist is one who, without denying 
.account of a conversation with my the existence of God, is without 
father. I think that the readers of God, inasmuch as he is unconvinced 
this pamphlet (' The Religious of the existence of a Deity. My 
Views of Charles Darwin,' Free father's replies implied his prefer- 
Thought Publishing Company, ence for the unaggressive attitude 
1883) may be misled into seeing of an Agnostic. Dr. Aveling seems 
more resemblance than really (p. 5) to regard the absence of 
existed between the positions of aggressiveness in my father's views 
my father and Dr. Aveling : and I as distinguishing them in an un- 
say this in spite of my conviction essential manner from his own. 
ithat Dr. Aveling gives quite fairly But, in my judgment, it is precisely 
his impressions of my father's views. differences of this kind which dis- 
Dr. Aveling tried to show that the tinguish him so completely from 
.terms " Agnostic " and " Atheist " the class of thinkers to which Dr. 
were practically equivalent that an Aveling belongs. 

( 313 ) 



" My life goes on like clockwork, and I am fixed on the spot where I 
shall end it." 

Letter to Captain Fitz-Roy, October, 1846. 

[WITH the view of giving, in the next volume, a connected 
account of the growth of the ' Origin of Species,' I have taken 
the more important letters bearing on that subject out of 
their proper chronological position here, and placed them 
with the rest of the correspondence bearing on the same 
subject ; so that in the present group of letters we only get 
occasional hints of the growth of my father's views, and we 
may suppose ourselves to be looking at his life, as it might 
have been looked at by those who had no knowledge of 
the quiet development of his theory of evolution during this 

On Sept. 14, 1842, my father left London with his family 
and settled at Down.* In the Autobiographical chapter, his 
motives for taking this step in the country are briefly given. 
He speaks of the attendance at scientific societies, and 
ordinary social duties, as suiting his health so "badly that 

* I must not omit to mention a friend and servant, for forty years, 

member of the household who and became, as Sir Joseph Hooker 

accompanied him. This was his once remarked to me, " an integral 

butler, Joseph Parslow, who re- part of the family, and felt to be 

mained in the family, a valued such by all visitors at the house." 


we resolved to live in the country, which we both preferred 
and have never repented of." His intention of keeping up 
with scientific life in London is expressed in a letter to Fox 
(Dec., 1842): 

" I hope by going up to town for a night every fortnight or 
three weeks, to keep up my communication with scientific 
men and my own zeal, and so not to turn into a complete 
Kentish hog." 

Visits to London of this kind were kept up for some years 
at the cost of much exertion on his part. I have often heard 
him speak of the wearisome drives of ten miles to or from 
Croydon or Sydenham the nearest stations with an old 
gardener acting as coachman, who drove with great caution 
and slowness up and down the many hills. In later years, 
all regular scientific intercourse with London became, as 
before mentioned, an impossibility. 

The choice of Down was rather the result of despair than 
of actual preference ; my father and mother were weary of 
house-hunting, and the attractive points about the place thus 
seemed to them to counterbalance its somewhat more obvious 
faults. It had at least one desideratum, namely quietness. 
Indeed it would have been difficult to find a more retired 
place so near to London. In 1842 a coach drive of some 
twenty miles was the only means of access to Down ; and 
even now that railways have crept closer to it, it is singularly 
out of the world, with nothing to suggest the neighbour- 
hood of London, unless it be the dull haze of smoke that 
sometimes clouds the sky. The village stands in an angle 
between two of the larger high-roads of the country, one 
leading to Tunbridge and the other to Westerham and Eden- 
bridge. It is cut off from the Weald by a line of steep chalk 
hills on the south, and an abrupt hill, now smoothed down 
by a cutting and embankment, must formerly have been 
something of a barrier against encroachments from the side 
of London. In such a situation, a village, communicating 

320 LIFE AT DOWN. jETAT. 33~45- 

with the main lines of traffic, only by stony tortuous lanes, 
may well have been enabled to preserve its retired character. 
Nor is it hard to believe in the smugglers and their strings 
of pack-horses making their way up from the lawless old 
villages of the Weald, of which the memory still existed 
when my father settled in Down. The village stands on 
solitary upland country, 500 to 600 feet above the sea, a 
country with little natural beauty, but possessing a certain 
charm in the shaws, or straggling strips of wood, capping the 
chalky banks and looking down upon the quiet ploughed 
lands of the valleys. The village, of three or four hundred 
inhabitants, consists of three small streets of cottages meeting 
in front of the little flint-built church. It is a place where 
new-comers are seldom seen, and the names occurring far 
back in the old church registers are still well known in the 
village. The smock-frock is not yet quite extinct, though 
chiefly used as a ceremonial dress by the " bearers " at 
funerals ; but as a boy I remember the purple or green 
smocks of the men at church. 

The house stands a quarter of a mile from the village, 
and is built, like so many houses of the last century, 
as near as possible to the road a narrow lane winding 
away to the Westerham high-road. In 1842, it was dull 
and unattractive enough : a square brick building of three 
storeys, covered with shabby whitewash and hanging tiles. 
The garden had none of the shrubberies or walls that 
now give shelter ; it was overlooked from the lane, and was 
open, bleak, and desolate. One of my father's first under- 
takings was to lower the lane by about two feet, and to build 
a flint wall along that part of it which bordered the garden. 
The earth thus excavated was used in making banks and 
mounds round the lawn : these were planted with evergreens, 
which now give to the garden its retired and sheltered 

The house was made to look neater by being covered with 


To fact p. 3o, Vol. I. 


stucco, but the chief improvement effected was the building 
of a large bow extending up through three storeys. This bow 
became covered with a tangle of creepers, and pleasantly 
varied the south side of the house. The drawing-room, with 
its verandah opening into the garden, as well as the study in 
which my father worked during the later years of his life, 
were added at subsequent dates. 

Eighteen acres of land were sold with the house, of which 
twelve acres on the south side of the house formed a pleasant 
field, scattered with fair-sized oaks and ashes. From this 
field a strip was cut off and converted into a kitchen garden,, 
in which the experimental plot of ground was situated, and. 
where the greenhouses were ultimately put up. 

The following letter to Mr. Fox (March 28th, 1843) gives, 
among other things my father's early impressions of Down : 

" I will tell you all the trifling particulars about myself that 
I can think of. We are now exceedingly busy with the first 
brick laid down yesterday to an addition to our house ; with 
this, with almost making a new kitchen garden and sundry 
other projected schemes, my days are very full. I find all 
this very bad for geology, but I am very slowly progressing 
with a volume, or rather pamphlet, on the volcanic islands 
which we visited : I manage only a couple of hours per day, 
and that not very regularly. It is uphill work writing books, 
which cost money in publishing, and which are not read even 
by geologists. I forget whether I ever described this place : 
it is a good, very ugly house with 18 acres, situated on a 
chalk flat, 560 feet above sea. There are peeps of far distant 
country and the scenery is moderately pretty : its chief merit 
is its extreme rurality. I think I was never in a more per- 
fectly quiet country. Three miles south of us the great chalk 
escarpment quite cuts us off from the low country of Kent, 
and between us and the escarpment there is not a village or 
gentleman's house, but only great woods and arable fields (the 
latter in sadly preponderant numbers), so that we arc abso- 

322 LIKE AT DOWN. .ETAT. 33-45. 

lutcly at the extreme verge of the world. The whole country 
is intersected by foot-paths ; but the surface over the chalk is 
clayey and sticky, which is the worst feature in our purchase. 
The dingles and banks often remind me of Cambridgeshire 
and walks with you to Cherry Hinton, and other places, 
though the general aspect of the country is very different. I 
was looking over my arranged cabinet (the only remnant I 
have preserved of all my English insects), and was admiring 
Panagceiis Crux-major : it is curious the vivid manner in 
which this insect calls up in my mind your appearance, with 
little Fan trotting after, when I was first introduced to you. 
Those entomological days were very pleasant ones. I am 
very much stronger corporeally, but am little better in being 
able to stand mental fatigue, or rather excitement, so that I 
cannot dine out or receive visitors, except relations with whom 
I can pass some time after dinner in silence." 

I could have wished to give here some idea of the position 
which, at this period of his life, my father occupied among 
scientific men and the reading public generally. But con- 
temporary notices are few and of no particular value for my 
purpose, which therefore must, in spite of a good deal of 
pains, remain unfulfilled. 

His 'Journal of Researches' was then the only one of his 
books which had any chance of being commonly known. But 
the fact that it was published with the 'Voyages' of Captains 
King and Fitz-Roy probably interfered with its general 
popularity. Thus Lyell wrote to him in 1838 ('Lyell's Life,' 
ii. p. 43), " I assure you my father is quite enthusiastic about 
your journal .... and he agrees with me that it would have a 
large sale if published separately. He was disappointed at 
hearing that it was to be fettered by the other volumes, for, 
although he should equally buy it, he feared so many of 
the public would be checked from doing so." In a notice 
of the three voyages in the 'Edinburgh Review' (July 
1839), there is nothing leading a reader to believe that 


he would find it more attractive than its fellow-volumes. 
And, as a fact, it did not become widely known until it was 
separately published in 1845. It may be noted, however, 
that the 'Quarterly Review' (December, 1839) called the 
attention of its readers to the merits of the ' Journal ' as a 
book of travels. The reviewer speaks of the " charm arising 
from the freshness of heart which is thrown over these virgin 
pages of a strong intellectual man and an acute and deep 

The German translation (1844) of the 'Journal' received a 
favourable notice in No. 12 of the ' Heidelberger Jahrbiicher 
der Literatur,' 1847 where the Reviewer speaks of the 
author's "varied canvas, on which he sketches in lively 
colours the strange customs of those distant regions with 
their remarkable fauna, flora and geological peculiarities." 
Alluding to the translation, my father writes " Dr. Dieffen- 
bach . . . has translated my ' Journal ' into German, and I 
must, with unpardonable vanity, boast that it was at the 
instigation of Liebig and Humboldt." 

The geological work of which he speaks in the above letter 
to Mr. Fox occupied him for the whole of 1843, and was pub- 
lished in the spring of the following year. It was entitled ' Geo- 
logical Observations on the Volcanic Islands, visited during 
the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, together with some brief notices 
on the geology of Australia and the Cape of Good Hope ' : 
it formed the second part of the ' Geology of the Voyage 
of the Beagle] published " with the Approval of the Lords 
Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury." The volume on 
' Coral Reefs ' forms Part I. of the series, and was published, 
as we have seen, in 1842. For the sake of the non-geological 
reader, I may here quote Professor Geikie's words* on these 
two volumes which were up to this time my father's chief 
geological works. Speaking of the ' Coral Reefs,' he says : 
p. 17, "This well-known treatise, the most original of all its 
* Charles Darwin, 'Nature' Series, 1882. 

VOL. I. Z 

324 LIFE AT DOWN. ,ETAT. 33-4$. 

author's geological memoirs, has become one of the classics of 
geological literature. The origin of those remarkable rings 
of coral-rock in mid-ocean has given rise to much speculation, 
but no satisfactory solution of the problem had been proposed. 
After visiting many of them, and examining also coral reefs 
that fringe islands and continents, he offered a theory which 
for simplicity and grandeur strikes every reader with astonish- 
ment. It is pleasant, after the lapse of many years, to 
recall the delight with which one first read the ' Coral Reefs ' ; 
how one watched the facts being marshalled into their places, 
nothing being ignored or passed lightly over ; and how, step 
by step, one was led to the grand conclusion of wide oceanic 
subsidence. No more admirable example of scientific method 
was ever given to the world, and even if he had written 
nothing else, the treatise alone would have placed Darwin in 
the very front of investigators of nature." 

It is interesting to see in the following extract from one of 
Lyell's letters* how warmly and readily he embraced the 
theory. The extract also gives incidentally some idea of the 
theory itself. 

" I am very full of Darwin's new theory of Coral Islands, 
and have urged Whewell to make him read it at our next 
meeting. I must give up my volcanic crater theory for ever, 
though it cost me a pang at first, for it accounted for so much, 
the annular form, the central lagoon, the sudden rising of an 
isolated mountain in a deep sea ; all went so well with the 
notion of submerged, crateriform, and conical volcanoes, . . . 
and then the fact that in the South Pacific we had scarcely 
any rocks in the regions of coral islands, save two kinds, coral 
limestone and volcanic ! Yet spite of all this, the whole theory 
is knocked on the head, and the annular shape and central 
lagoon have nothing to do with volcanoes, nor even with a 
crateriform bottom. Perhaps Darwin told you when at the 

* To Sir John Herschel, May 24, r83;. 'Life of Sir Charles Lyell,' 

vol. ii. p. 12. 


Cape what he considers the true cause ? Let any mountain 
be submerged gradually, and coral grow in the sea in which 
it is sinking, and there will be a ring of coral, and finally only 
a lagoon in the centre. Why ? For the same reason that a 
barrier reef of coral grows along certain coasts : Australia, &c. 
Coral islands are the last efforts of drowning continents to lift 
their heads above water. Regions of elevation and subsidence 
in the ocean may be traced by the state of the coral reefs." 
There is little to be said as to published contemporary criti- 
cism. The book was not reviewed in the ' Quarterly Review ' 
till 1847, when a favourable notice was given. The reviewer 
speaks of the " bold and startling " character of the work, but 
seems to recognize the fact that the views are generally 
accepted by geologists. By that time the minds of men were 
becoming more ready to receive geology of this type. Even 
ten years before, in 1837, Lyell * says, "people are now much 
better prepared to believe Darwin when he advances proofs 
of the slow rise of the Andes, than they were in 1830, when I 
first startled them with that doctrine." This sentence refers 
to the theory elaborated in my father's geological observa- 
tions on South America (1846), but the gradual change in 
receptivity of the geological mind must have been favourable 
to all his geological work. Nevertheless, Lyell seems at first 
not to have expected any ready acceptance of the Coral 
theory ; thus he wrote to my father in 1837 : " I could think 
of nothing for days after your lesson on coral reefs, but of the 
tops of submerged continents. It is all true, but do not 
flatter yourself that you will be believed till you are growing 
bald like me, with hard work and vexation at the incredulity 
of the world." 

The second part of the ' Geology of the Voyage of the 
Beagle? i.e. the volume on Volcanic Islands, which specially 
concerns us now, cannot be better described than by" again 
quoting from Professor Geikie (p. 1 8) : 

* ' Life of Sir Charles Lyell,' vol. ii. p. 6. 

Z 2 

326 LIFE AT DOWN. yETAT. 33-4$. 

" Full of detailed observations, this work still remains the 
best authority on the general geological structure of most of 
the regions it describes. At the time it was written the 
'crater of elevation theory,' though opposed by Constant 
Prevost, Scrope, and Lyell, was generally accepted, at least on 
the Continent. Darwin, however, could not receive it as a valid 
explanation of the facts ; and though he did not share the view 
of its chief opponents, but ventured to propose a hypothesis 
of his own, the observations impartially made and described 
by him in this volume must be regarded as having contributed 
towards the final solution of the difficulty." Professor Geikic 
continues (p. 21) : " He is one of the earliest writers to recog- 
mize the magnitude of the denudation to which even recent 
geological accumulations have been subjected. One of the 
most impressive lessons to be learnt from his account of 
'Volcanic Islands' is the prodigious extent to which they 
lhave been denuded. . . . He was disposed to attribute more 
of this work to the sea than most geologists would now 
admit ; but he lived himself to modify his original views, 
and on this subject his latest utterances are quite abreast of 
the time." 

An extract from a letter of my father's to Lyell shows his 
estimate of his own work. " You have pleased me much by 
saying that you intend looking through my ' Volcanic Islands ' : 
it cost me eighteen months ! ! ! and I have heard of very few 
who have read it. Now I shall feel, whatever little (and little 
it is) there is confirmatory of old work, or new, will work its 
effect and not be lost." 

The third of his geological books, ' Geological Observations 
on South America,' may be mentioned here, although it was 
not published until 1846. " In this work the author embodied 
all the materials collected by him for the illustration of South 
American Geology, save some which had been published 
elsewhere. One of the most important features of the book 
was the evidence which it brought forward to prove the slow 


interrupted elevation of the South American Continent 
during a recent geological period." * 

Of this book my father wrote to Lyell : " My volume will 
be about 240 pages, dreadfully dull, yet much condensed. I 
think whenever you have time to look through it, you wilB 
think the collection of facts on the elevation of the land and 
on the formation of terraces pretty good." 

Of his special geological work as a whole, Professor Geikic,. 
while pointing out that it was not " of the same epoch-making 
kind as his biological researches," remarks that he "gave a 
powerful impulse to " the general reception of Lyell's teaching 
" by the way in which he gathered from all parts of the world" 
facts in its support." 


The work of these years may be roughly divided into a 
period of geology from 1842 to 1846, and one of zoology 
from 1846 onwards. 

I extract from his diary notices of the time spent on his 
geological books and on his ' Journal.' 

'Volcanic Islands.' Summer of 1842 to January, 1844. 

' Geology of South America.' July, 1844, to April, 1845. 

Second Edition of ' The Journal,' October, 1845, to October, 

The time between October, 1846, and October, 1854, was 
practically given up to working at the Cirripedia (Barnacles) ;. 
the results were published in two volumes by the Ray Society 
in 1851 and 1854. His volumes on the Fossil Cirripedes were 
published by the Palaeontographical Society In 1851 and 1854. 

Some account of these volumes will be given later. 

The minor works may be placed together, independently, 
of subject matter. 

" Observations on the Structure, &c., of the genus Sagitta," 
Ann. Nat. Hist, xiii., 1844, pp. 1-6. 

* Geikie, loc. cit. 

328 LIFE AT DOWN. /liTAT. 33-4$. 

" Brief Descriptions of several Terrestrial Planariae, &c.," 
Ann. Nat. Hist, xiv., 1844, pp. 241-251. 

"An Account of the Fine Dust* which often Falls on 
Vessels in the Atlantic Ocean," Geol. Soc. Journ. ii., 1846, 
pp. 26-30. 

" On the Geology of the Falkland Islands," Geol. Soc. 
Journ. ii., 1846, pp. 267-274. 

" On the Transportal of Erratic Boulders, &c.," Geol. Soc. 
Journ. iv. 1848, pp. 315-323.! 

The article " Geology," in the Admiralty Manual of Scientific 
Enquiry (1849), pp. 156-195. This was written in the spring 
of 1848. 

" On British Fossil Lepadidae," 'Geol. Soc. Journ.' vi., 1850, 
pp. 439-440. 

"Analogy of the structure of some Volcanic Rocks with 
that of Glaciers," ' Edin. Roy. Soc. Proc.' ii., 1851, pp. 17-18. 

Professor Geikie has been so good as to give me (in a 
letter dated Nov. 1885) his impressions of my father's article 
in the 'Admiralty Manual.' He mentions the following 
points as characteristic of the work : 

* A sentence occurs in this paper [1847], has a long paper on it. He 
of interest, as showing that the says : ' Some glacialists have ven- 
author was alive to the importance tured to explain the transportation 
of all means of distribution : " The of boulders even in the situation of 
fact that particles of this size have those now referred to, by imagining 
been brought at least 330 miles from that they were transported on ice 
the land is interesting as bearing floes,' &c. He treats this view, 
on the distribution of Cryptogamic and the scratching of rocks by ice- 
plants." bergs, as almost absurd ... he has 

f An extract from a letter to finally stirred me up so, that (with- 
Lyell, 1847, is of interest in connec- out you would answer him) I think 
tion with this essay : " Would you I will send a paper in opposition to 
be so good (if you know it) as to the same Journal. I can thus in- 
put Maclaren's address on the en- troduce some old remarks of mine, 
closed letter and post it. It is and some new, and will insist on 
chiefly to enquire in what paper he your capital observations in N. 
has described the Boulders on America. It is a bore to stop one's 
Arthur's Seat. Mr. D.Milne in the work, but he has made me quite 
last Edinburgh ' New Phil. Journal ' wroth " 


" i. Great breadth of view. No one who had not practically 
studied and profoundly reflected on the questions discussed 
could have written it 

" 2. The insight so remarkable in all that Mr. Darwin ever 
did. The way in which he points out lines of enquiry that 
would elucidate geological problems is eminently typical of 
him. Some of these lines have never yet been adequately 
followed ; so with regard to them he was in advance of his 

"3. Interesting and sympathetic treatment. The author 
at once puts his readers into harmony with him. He gives 
them enough of information to show how delightful the 
field is to which he invites them, and how much they might 
accomplish in it. There is a broad sketch of the subject 
which everybody can follow, and there is enough of detail 
to instruct and guide a beginner and start him on the right 

" Of course, geology has made great strides since 1 849, and 
the article, if written now, would need to take notice of other 
branches of enquiry, and to modify statements which are not 
now quite accurate ; but most of the advice Mr.' Darwin 
gives is as needful and valuable now as when it was given. 
It is curious to see with what unerring instinct he seems 
to have fastened on the principles that would stand the test 
of time." 

In a letter to Lyell (1853) my father wrote, " I went up for a 
paper by the Arctic Dr. Sutherland, on ice action, read only 
in abstract, but I should think with much good matter. It 
was very pleasant to hear that it was written owing to the 
Admiralty Manual." 

To give some idea of the retired life which now began for 
my father at Down, I have noted from his diary the short 
periods during which he was away from home between the 
autumn of 1842, when he came to Down, and the end of 

330 LIFE AT DOWN. ^-TAT. 33-4$. 

1843, July* Week at Maer and Shrewsbury. 
October. Twelve days at Shrewsbury. 

1844, April. Week at Macr and Shrewsbury. 
Juty* Twelve days at Shrewsbury. 

1845, September 15. Six weeks, " Shrewsbury, Lincolnshire 

York, the Dean of Manchester, Waterton, Chats- 

1846, February. Eleven days at Shrewsbury. 
July. Ten days at Shrewsbury. 

September. Ten days at Southampton, &c, for the 
British Association. 

1847, February. Twelve days at Shrewsbury. 

June. Ten days at Oxford, &c., for the British As- 
October. Fortnight at Shrewsbury. 

1848, May. Fortnight at Shrewsbury. 
July. Week at Swanage. 

October. Fortnight at Shrewsbury. 

November. Eleven days at Shrewsbury. 

1849, March to June. Sixteen weeks at Malvern. 

September. Eleven days at Birmingham for the 
British Association. 

1850, June. Week at Malvern. 

August. Week at Leith Hill, the house of a relative. 
October. Week at the house of another relative. 

1851, March. Week at Malvern. 

April. Nine days at Malvern. 
July. Twelve days in London. 

1852, March. Week at Rugby and Shrewsbury. 

September. Six days at the house of a relative. 

1853, July. Three weeks at Eastbourne. 

August. Five days at the military Camp at Chobham. 

1854, M 'arc/i. Five days at the house of a relative. 
July- Three days at the house of a relative. 
October. Six days at the house of a relative. 

1 843.] CAPTAIN FITZ-ROY. 331 

It will be seen that he was absent from home sixty weeks 
in twelve years. But it must be remembered that much of 
the remaining time spent at Down was lost through ill- 

C. Darwin to R. Fits-Roy. 

Down [March, 3ist, 1843]. 

DEAR FiTZ-ROY, I read yesterday with surprise and the 
greatest interest, your appointment as Governor of New 
Zealand. I do not know whether to congratulate you on it, 
but I am sure I may the Colony, on possessing your zeal and 
energy. I am most anxious to know whether the report is 
true, for I cannot bear the thoughts of your leaving the 
country without seeing you once again ; the past is often in 
my memory, and I feel that I owe to you much bygone enjoy- 
ment, and the whole destiny of my life, which (had my health 
been stronger) would have been one full of satisfaction to me. 
During the last three months I have never once gone up to 
London without intending to call in the hopes of seeing Mrs. 
Fitz-Roy and yourself; but I find, most unfortunately for 
myself, that the little excitement of breaking out of my most 
quiet routine so generally knocks me up, that I am able to do 
scarcely anything when in London, and I have not even been 
able to attend one evening meeting of the Geological Society. 
Otherwise, I am very well, as are, thank God, my wife and 
two children. The extreme retirement of this place suits us 
all very well, and we enjoy our country life much. But I am 
writing trifles about myself, when your mind and time must 
be fully occupied. My object in writing is to beg of you or 
Mrs. Fitz-Roy to have the kindness to send me one line to 
say whether it is true, and whether you sail soon. I shall 
come up next week for one or two days ; could you see me 
for even five minutes, if I called early on Thursday morning, 

332 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-4$. [1843. 

viz. at nine or ten o'clock, or at whatever hour (if you keep 
early ship hours) you finish your breakfast Pray remember 
me very kindly to Mrs. Fitz-Roy, who I trust is able to look 
at her long voyage with boldness. 

Believe me, dear Fitz-Roy, 

Your ever truly obliged, 


[A quotation from another letter (1846) to Fitz-Roy maybe 
worth giving, as showing my father's affectionate remembrance 
of his old Captain. 

" Farewell, dear Fitz-Roy, I often think of your many acts 
of kindness to me, and not seldomest on the time, no doubt 
quite forgotten by you, when, before making Madeira, you 
came and arranged my hammock with your own hands, and 
which, as I afterwards heard, brought tears into my father's 

C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

[Down, September 5, 1843.] 

Monday morning. 

MY DEAR FOX, When I sent off the glacier paper, I was 
just going out and so had no time to write. I hope your friend 
will enjoy (and I wish you were going there with him) his tour 
as much as I did. It was a kind of geological novel. But your 
friend must have patience, for he will not get a good glacial 
eye for a few days. Murchison and Count Keyserling rushed 
through North Wales the same autumn and could see nothing 
except the effects of rain trickling over the rocks ! I cross- 
examined Murchison a little, and evidently saw he had looked 
carefully at nothing. I feel certain about the glacier-effects in 
North Wales. Get up your steam, if this weather lasts, and 
have a ramble in Wales ; its glorious scenery must do every 
one's heart and body good. I wish I had energy to come to 
Delamere and go with you ; but as you observe, you might as 


well ask St. Paul's. Whenever I give myself a trip, it shall be, 
I think, to Scotland, to hunt for more parallel roads. My 
marine theory for these roads was for a time knocked on the 

head by Agassiz ice-work, but it is now reviving again 

Farewell, we are getting nearly finished almost all the 
workmen gone, and the gravel laying down on the walks. 
Ave Maria ! how the money does go. There are twice as 
many temptations to extravagance in the country compared 
with London. Adios. 



C. Danvin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down, [1844?] 

.... I have also read the ' Vestiges,' * but have been some- 
what less amused at it than you appear to have been : the 
writing and arrangement are certainly admirable, but his 
geology strikes me as bad, and his zoology far worse. I 
should be very much obliged, if at any future or leisure time 
you could tell me on what you ground your doubtful belief in 
imagination of a mother affecting her offspring.t I have 
attended to the several statements scattered about, but do not 

* 'The Vestiges of the Natural 1845 :" Have you read that strange, 
History of Creation,' was published unphilosophical, but capitally-writ- 
anonymously in 1844; it is now ten book, the 'Vestiges': it has 
known to have been written by the made more talk than any work of 
late Robert Chambers (see Intro- late, and has been by some attri- 
duction to the 1 2th edition of the buted to me at which I ought to 
' Vestiges,' 1884). My father's copy be much flattered and unflattered.' 
gives signs of having been carefully f This refers to the case of a 
read, a long list of marked passages relative of Sir J. Hooker's, who in- 
being pinned in at the end. One use- sisted that a mole, which appeared 
ful lesson he seems to have learned on one of her children, was the 
from it. He writes : " The idea of effect of fright upon herself on 
a fish passing into a reptile, mon- having, before the birth of the 
strous. I will not specify any genea- child, blotted with sepia a copy ot 
logics much too little known at Turner's ' Liber Studiorum ' that 
present." He refers again to the had been lent to her with special 
book in a letter to Fox, February, injunctions to be careful. 

334 LIFE AT DOWN. VETAT. 33-45. [l844~5- 

believe in more than accidental coincidences. W. Hunter told 
my father, then in a lying-in hospital, that in many thousand 
cases, he had asked the mother, before tier confinement, whether 
anything had affected her imagination, and recorded the 
answers ; and absolutely not one case came right, though, 
when the child was anything remarkable, they afterwards 
made the cap to fit. Reproduction seems governed by such 
similar laws in the whole animal kingdom, that I am most 
loth [to believe]. . . . 

C. Danvin to J. M. Herbert. 

Down, [1844 or 1845]. 

MY DEAR HERBERT, I was very glad to see your hand- 
writing and hear a bit of news about you. Though you cannot 
come here this autumn, I do hope you and Mrs. Herbert will 
come in the winter, and we will have lots of talk of old times, 
and lots of Beethoven. 

I have little or rather nothing to say about myself ; we live 
like clock-work, and in what most people would consider the 
dullest possible manner. I have of late been slaving extra 
hard, to the great discomfiture of wretched digestive organs, 
at South America, and thank all the fates, I have done three- 
fourths of it. Writing plain English grows with me more 
and more difficult, and never attainable. As for your pre- 
tending that you will read anything so dull as my pure 
geological descriptions, lay not such a flattering unction on 
my soul * for it is incredible. I have long discovered that 
geologists never read each other's works, and that the only 
object in writing a book is a proof of earnestness, and that 
you do not form your opinions without undergoing labour of 

* On the same subject he wrote propose to read it it is purely 

to Fitz-Roy : " I have sent my geological. I said to my brother, 

1 South American Geology ' to Dover ' You will of course read it,' and his 

Street, and you will get it, no doubt, answer was, ' Upon my life, I would 

in the course of time. You do not sooner even buy it.' " 
know what you threaten when you 

1 845.] SIR J. D. HOOKER. 335 

some kind. Geology is at present very oral, and what I here 
say is to a great extent quite true. But I am giving you a 
discussion as long as a chapter in the odious book itself. 

I have lately been to Shrewsbury, and found my father 
surprisingly well and cheerful. 

Believe me, my dear old friend, ever yours, 


C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down, Monday [February loth, 1845]. 

MY DEAR HOOKER, I am much obliged for your very 
agreeable letter ; it was very good-natured, in the midst of 
your scientific and theatrical dissipation, to think of writing 
so long a letter to me. I am astonished at your news, and I 
must condole with you in your present view of the Professor- 
ship,* and most heartily deplore it on my own account. There 
is something so chilling in a separation of so many hundred 
miles, though we did not see much of each other when nearer. 
You will hardly believe how deeply I regret for myself your 
present prospects. I had looked forward to [our] seeing much of 
each other during our lives. It is a heavy disappointment ; and 
in a mere selfish point of view, as aiding me in my work, your 
Joss is indeed irreparable. But, on the other hand, I cannot 
doubt that you take at present a desponding, instead of bright, 
view of your prospects : surely there are great advantages, as 
well as disadvantages. The place is one of eminence ; and 
really it appears to me there are so many indifferent workers, 
and so few readers, that it is a high advantage, in a purely 
scientific point of view, for a good worker to hold a position 
which leads others to attend to his work. I forget whether 
you attended Edinburgh, as a student, but in my time there 
was a knot of men who were far from being the indifferent 

* Sir J. D. Hooker was a candidate for the Professorship of Botany at 
Edinburgh University. 

336 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1845. 

and dull listeners which you expect for your audience. Re- 
flect what a satisfaction and honour it would be to make a 
good botanist with your disposition you will be to many 
what Henslow was at Cambridge to me and others, a most 
kind friend and guide. Then what a fine garden, and how 
good a Public Library ! why, Forbes always regrets the 
advantages of Edinburgh for work : think of the inestimable 
advantage of getting within a short walk of those noble rocks 
and hills and sandy shores near Edinburgh ! Indeed, I 
cannot pity you much, though I pity myself exceedingly in 
your loss. Surely lecturing will, in a year or two, with your 
great capacity for work (whatever you may be pleased to say 
to the contrary) become easy, and you will have a fair time 
for your Antarctic Flora and general views of distribution. 
If I thought your Professorship would stop your work, I 
should wish it and all the good worldly consequences at el 
Diavolo. I know I shall live to see you the first authority in 
Europe on that grand subject, that almost keystone of the 
laws of creation, Geographical Distribution. Well, there is 
one comfort, you will be at Kew, no doubt, every year, so I 
shall finish by forcing down your throat my sincere congratu- 
lations. Thanks for all your news. I grieve to hear Hum- 
boldt is failing ; one cannot help feeling, though unrightly, 
that such an end is humiliating : even when I saw him he 
talked beyond all reason. If you see him again, pray give 
him my most respectful and kind compliments, and say that 
I never forget that my whole course of life is due to having 
read and re-read as a youth his ' Personal Narrative.' How 
true and pleasing are all your remarks on his kindness ; think 
how many opportunities you will have, in your new place, of 
being a Humboldt to others. Ask him about the river in 
N.E. Europe, with the Flora very different on its opposite 
banks. I have got and read your Wilkes ; what a feeble book 
in matter and style, and how splendidly got up ! Do write me 
a line from Berlin. Also thanks for the proof-sheets. I did 

1 845.] THE 'JOURNAL/ 337- 

not, however, mean proof plates ; I value them, as saving me 
copying extracts. Farewell, my dear Hooker, with a heavy 
heart I wish you joy of your prospects. 

Your sincere friend, 


[The second edition of the ' Journal,' to which the following 
letter refers, was completed between April 25th and August 
25th. It was published by Mr. Murray in the 'Colonial and 
Home Library,' and in this more accessible form soon had a 
large sale. 

Up to the time of his first negotiations with Mr. Murray 
for its publication in this form, he had received payment only 
in the form of a large number of presentation copies, and he 
seems to have been glad to sell the copyright of the second 
edition to Mr. Murray for I5O/. 

The points of difference between it and the first edition are 
of interest chiefly in connection with the growth of the 
author's views on evolution, and will be considered later.] 

C. Darwin to C. LyelL 

Down [July, 1845]. 

MY DEAR LYELL, I send you the first part * of the new 
edition [of the ' Journal of Researches '], which I so entirely 
owe to you. You will see that I have ventured to dedicate it 
to you,f and I trust that this cannot be disagreeable. I have 
long wished, not so much for your sake, as for my own feelings 
of honesty, to acknowledge more plainly than by mere reference, 
how much I geologically owe you. Those authors, however, 

* No doubt proof-sheets. ledgment that the chief part of 
t The dedication of the second whatever scientific merit this Jour- 
edition of the 'Journal of Re- nal and the other works of the 
searches,' is as follows : " To Author may possess, has been de- 
Charles Lyell, Esq., F.R.S., this rived from studying the well-known 
second edition is dedicated with and admirable ' Principles of Geo- 
grateful pleasure as an acknow- logy.'" 

338 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-4$. [184$. 

who like you, educate people's minds as well as teach them 
special facts, can never, I should think, have full justice done 
them except by posterity, for the mind thus insensibly im- 
proved can hardly perceive its own upward ascent. I had 
intended putting in the present acknowledgment in the third 
part of my Geology, but its sale is so exceedingly small that I 
should not have had the satisfaction of thinking that as far as 
lay in my power I had owned, though imperfectly, my debt. 
Pray do not think that I am so silly, as to suppose that my 
dedication can any ways gratify you, except so far as I trust 
you will receive it, as a most sincere mark of my gratitude and 
friendship. I think I have improved this edition, especially 
the second part, which I have just finished. I have added a 
good deal about the Fuegians, and cut down into half the 
mercilessly long discussion on climate and glaciers, &c. I do 
not recollect anything added to the first part, long enough to 
call your attention to ; there is a page of description of a very 
curious breed of oxen in Banda Oriental. I should like you 
to read the few last pages ; there is a little discussion on 
extinction, which will not perhaps strike you as new, though 
it has so struck me, and has placed in my mind all the 
difficulties with respect to the causes of extinction, in the 
same class with other difficulties which are generally quite 
overlooked and undervalued by naturalists ; I ought, however, 
to have made my discussion longer and shewn by facts, as I 
easily could, how steadily every species must be checked in 
its numbers. 

I received your Travels * yesterday ; and I like exceedingly 
its external and internal appearance; I read only about a 
dozen pages last night (for I was tired with hay-making), but 
I saw quite enough to perceive how very much it will interest 
me, and how many passages will be scored. I am pleased to 
find a good sprinkling of Natural History ; I shall be aston- 
ished if it does not sell very largely. . . . 

* 'Travels in North America,' 2 vols., 1845. 


How sorry I am to think that we shall not see you here 
again for so long ; I wish you may knock yourself a little bit 
up before you start and require a day's fresh air, before the 
ocean breezes blow on you. . . . 

Ever yours, 


C. Danvin to C. Lyell, 

Down, Saturday [August ist, 1845]. 

MY DEAR LYELL, I have been wishing to write to you for 
a week past, but every five minutes' worth of strength has been 
expended in getting out my second part.* Your note pleased 
me a good deal more I dare say than my dedication did you, 
and I thank you much for it. Your work has interested me 
much, and I will give you my impressions, though, as I never 
thought you would care to hear what I thought of the non- 
scientific parts, I made no notes, nor took pains to remember 
any particular impression of two-thirds of the first volume.. 
The first impression I should say would be with most (though 
I have literally seen not one soul since reading it) regret at 
there not being more of the non-scientific [parts]. I am not a 
good judge, for I have read nothing, i.e. non-scientific about 
North America, but the whole struck me as very new, fresh, 
and interesting. Your discussions bore to my mind the 
evident stamp of matured thought, and of conclusions drawn 
from facts observed by yourself, and not from the opinions of 
the people whom you met ; and this I suspect is compara- 
tively rare. 

Your slave discussion disturbed me much ; but as you 
would care no more for my opinion on this head than for the 
ashes of this letter, I will say nothing except that it gave me 
some sleepless, most uncomfortable hours. Your account of 
the religious state of the States particularly interested me ; I 
am surprised throughout at your very proper boldness against 
* Of the second edition of the ' Journal of Researches.' 

VOL. I. 2 A 

340 LIFE AT DOWN. jETAT. 33-4$. [1845. 

the Clergy. In your University chapter the Clergy, and not 
the State of Education, are most severely and justly handled, 
and this I think is very bold, for I conceive you might crush 
a leaden-headed old Don, as a Don, with more safety, than 
touch the finger of that Corporate Animal, the Clergy. What 
a contrast in Education does England shew itself! Your 
apology (using the term, like the old religionists who meant 
anything but an apology) for lectures, struck me as very 
clever ; but all the arguments in the world on your side, are 
not equal to one course of Jamieson's Lectures on the other 
side, which I formerly for my sins experienced. Although I 
had read about the ' Coalfields in North America,' I never in 
the smallest degree really comprehended their area, their 
thickness and favourable position ; nothing hardly astounded 
me more in your book. 

Some few parts struck me as rather heterogeneous, but I do 
not know whether to an extent that at all signified. I missed 
however, a good deal, some general heading to the chapters, 
such as the two or three principal places visited. One has no 
right to expect an author to write down to the zero of geogra- 
phical ignorance of the reader ; but I not knowing a single 
place, was occasionally rather plagued in tracing your course. 
Sometimes in the beginning of a chapter, in one paragraph 
your course was traced through a half dozen places ; anyone, 
as ignorant as myself, if he could be found, would prefer such 
a disturbing paragraph left out. I cut your map loose, and I 
found that a great comfort ; I could not follow your engraved 
track. I think in a second edition, interspaces here and there 
of one line open, would be an improvement By the way, I 
take credit to myself in giving my Journal a less scientific air 
in having printed all names of species and genera in Romans ; 
the printing looks, also, better. All the illustrations strike 
me as capital, and the map is an admirable volume in itself. 
If your 'Principles ' had not met with such universal admiration, 
I should have feared there would have been too much geology 

I845-] SLAVERY. 


in this for the general reader; certainly all that the most 
clear and light style could do, has been done. To myself 
the geology was an excellent, well-condensed, well-digested 
resume of all that has been made out in North America, and 
every geologist ought to be grateful to you. The summing 
up of the Niagara chapter appeared to me the grandest part ; 
I was also deeply interested by your discussion on the origin 
of the Silurian formations. I have made scores of scores 
marking passages hereafter useful to me. 

All the coal theory appeared to me very good ; but it is 
no use going on enumerating in this manner. I wish there had 
been more Natural History ; I liked all the scattered frag- 
ments. I have now given you an exact transcript of my 
thoughts, but they are hardly worth your reading. . . . 

C. Darwin to C. Lyell. 

Down, August 2 5th [1845]. 

MY DEAR LYELL, This is literally the first day on which 
I have had any time to spare ; and I will amuse myself by 
beginning a letter to you. . . . 

I was delighted with your letter in which you touch on 
Slavery ; I wish the same feelings had been apparent in your 
published discussion. But I will not write on this subject, I 
should perhaps annoy you, and most certainly myself. I 
have exhaled myself with a paragraph or two in my Journal 
on the sin of Brazilian slavery ; you perhaps will think that 
it is in answer to you ; but such is not the case. I have 
remarked on nothing which I did not hear on the coast of 
South America. My few sentences, however, are merely an 
explosion of feeling. How could you relate so placidly that 
atrocious sentiment* about separating children from their 
parents ; and in the next page speak of being distressed at 
the whites not having prospered ; I assure you the contrast 

* In the passage referred to, Lyell does not give his own views, but 
those of a planter. 

2 A 2 

342 LIFE AT DOWN. /ETAT. 33-4$. [1845. 

made me exclaim out. But I have broken my intention, and 
so no more on this odious deadly subject. 

There is a favourable, but not strong enough review on you, 
in the Gardeners' Chronicle. I am sorry to see that Lindley 
abides by the carbonic acid gas theory. By the way, I was 
much pleased by Lindley picking out my extinction para- 
graphs and giving them uncurtailed. To my mind, putting 
the comparative rarity of existing species in the same category 
with extinction has removed a great weight ; though of course 
it does not explain anything, it shows that until we can 
explain comparative rarity, we ought not to feel any surprise 
at not explaining extinction. . . . 

I am much pleased to hear of the call for a new edition of 
the ' Principles ' : what glorious good that work has done. I 
fear this time you will not be amongst the old rocks ; how I 
should rejoice to live to see you publish and discover another 
stage below the Silurian it would be the grandest step pos- 
sible, I think. I am very glad to hear what progress Bunbury 
is making in fossil Botany ; there is a fine hiatus for him to 
fill up in this country. I will certainly call on him this winter. 
From what little I saw of him, I can quite believe every- 
thing which you say of his talents. . . . 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Shrewsbury, [1845 ?] 

MY DEAR HOOKER, I have just received your note, which 
has astonished me, and has most truly grieved me. I never 
for one minute doubted of your success, for I most erroneously 
imagined, that merit was sure to gain the day. I feel most sure 
that the day will come soon, when those who have voted 
against you, if they have any shame or conscience in them, will 
be ashamed at having allowed politics to blind their eyes to 
your qualifications, and those qualifications vouched for by 
Humboldt and Brown ! Well, those testimonials must be a 

1 845-] WATERTON. 


consolation to you. Proh pudorl I am vexed and indignant 
by turns. I cannot even take comfort in thinking that I shall 
see more of you, and extract more knowledge from your well- 
arranged stock. I am pleased to think, that after having read 
a few of your letters, I never once doubted the position you 
will ultimately hold amongst European Botanists. I can think- 
about nothing else, otherwise I should like [to] discuss 
1 Cosmos '* with you. I trust you will pay me and my wife 
a visit this autumn at Down. I shall be at Down on the 24th, 
and till then moving about. 

My dear Hooker, allow me to call myself 

Your very true friend, 


C. Darwin to C. Lyell. 

October 8th [1845] Shrewsbury. 

. . I have lately been taking a little tour to see a farm I have 
purchased in Lincolnshire,! and then to York, where I visited 
the Dean of Manchester^ the great maker of Hybrids, who 
gave me much curious information. I also visited Waterton 
at Walton Hall, and was extremely amused at my visit 

* A translation of Humboldt's man to buy his quarter of an acre ; 

1 Kosmos.' it makes one's blood burn with 

f He speaks of his Lincolnshire indignation." 

farm in a letter to Henslow (July J Hon. and Rev. W. Herbert. 

4th) : " I have bought a farm in The visit is mentioned in a letter to 

Lincolnshire, and when I go there Dr. Hooker : " I have been taking 

this autumn, I mean to see what I a little tour, partly on business, and 

can do in providing any cottage on visited the Dean of Manchester, 

my small estate with gardens. It and had very much interesting talk 

is a hopeless thing to look to, but with him on hybrids, sterility, and 

I believe few things would do this variation, &c. &c. He is full of 

country more good in future ages self-gained knowledge, but knows 

than the destruction of primogeni- surprisingly little what others have 

ture, so as to lessen the difference done on the same subjects. He is 

in land-wealth, and make more very heterodox on ' species ' : not 

small freeholders. How atrociously much better, as most naturalists 

tmjust are the stamp laws, which would esteem it, than poor Mr. 

render it so expensive for the poor Vestiges." 

344 LIFE AT DOWN. /ETAT. 33-4$. [1845. 

there. He is an amusing strange fellow ; at our early dinner, 
our party consisted of two Catholic priests and two Mulat- 
tresses ! He is past sixty years old, and the day before ran 
down and caught a leveret in a turnip-field. It is a fine old 
house, and the lake swarms with water-fowl. I then saw 
Chatsworth, and was in transport with the great hothouse ; 
it is a perfect fragment of a tropical forest, and the sight 
made me think with delight of old recollections. My little 
ten-day tour made me feel wonderfully strong at the time, 
but the good effects did not last. My wife, I am sorry to 
say, does not get very strong, and the children are the hope 
of the family, for they are all happy, life, and spirits. I have 
been much interested with Sedgwick's review ; * though I 
find it is far from popular with our scientific readers. I think 
some few passages savour of the dogmatism of the pulpit, rather 
than of the philosophy of the Professor's Chair ; and some of 

the wit strikes me as only worthy of in the ' Quarterly.' 

Nevertheless, it is a grand piece of argument against muta- 
bility of species, and I read it with fear and trembling, but 
was well pleased to find that I had not overlooked any of the 
arguments, though I had put them to myself as feebly as 
milk and water. Have you read ' Cosmos ' yet ? The English 
translation is wretched, and the semi-metaphysico-politico 
descriptions in the first part are barely intelligible ; but I 
think the volcanic discussion well worth your attention, it 
has astonished me by its vigour and information. I grieve to 
find Humboldt an adorer of Von Buch, with his classification 
of volcanos, craters of elevation, &c. &c., and carbonic acid 
gas atmosphere. He is indeed a wonderful man. 

I hope to get home in a fortnight and stick to my weary- 
ful South America till I finish it. I shall be very anxious to 
hear how you get on from the Homers, but you must not think 
of wasting your time by writing to me. We shall miss, indeed, 

* Sedgwick's review of the ' Vestiges of Creation' in the ' Edinburgh 
Review,' July 1845. 

1846.] BOTANY. 345 

your visits to Down, and I shall feel a lost man in London 
without my morning " house of call " at Hart Street. . . . 
Believe me, my dear Lyell, ever yours, 


C. Darwin to y. D. Hooker. 

Down, Farnborough, Kent, 
Thursday, September, 1846. 

MY DEAR HOOKER, I hope this letter will catch you at 
Clifton, but I have been prevented writing by being unwell, 
and having had the Homers here as visitors, which, with my 
abominable press-work, has fully occupied my time. It is, 
indeed, a long time since we wrote to each other ; though, I 
beg to tell you, that I wrote last, but what about I cannot 
remember, except, I know, it was after reading your last 
numbers,* and I sent you a uniquely laudatory epistle, con- 
sidering it was from a man who hardly knows a Daisy from 
a Dandelion to a professed Botanist. . . . 

I cannot remember what papers have given me the 
impression, but I have that, which you state to be the case, 
firmly fixed on my mind, namely, the little chemical impor- 
tance of the soil to its vegetation. What a strong fact it is, 
as R. Brown once remarked to me, of certain plants being 
calcareous ones here, which are not so under a more favour- 
able climate on the Continent, or the reverse, for I forget 
which ; but you, no doubt, will know to what I refer. By- 
the-way, there are some such cases in Herbert's paper in the 
'Horticultural Journal.'f Have you read it : it struck me as 
extremely original, and bears directly on your present re- 
searches.} To a non-botanist the chalk has the most peculiar 
aspect of any flora in England ; why will you not come here 
to make your observations ? We go to Southampton, if my 

* Hooker's Antarctic Botany. } Sir J. Hooker was at this time 

f 'Journal of the Horticultural attending to polymorphism, vari- 
Society,' 1846. ability, &c. 

346 I. IKE AT DOWN. yETAT. 33-4$. 

courage and stomach do not fail, for the Brit. Assoc. (Do 
you not consider it your duty to be there ?) And why cannot 
you come here afterwards and work ? . . . . 

October 1846 to October 1854. 

[Writing to Sir J. D. Hooker in 1845, m y father says : " I 
hope this next summer to finish my South American Geology, 
then to get out a little Zoology, and hurrah for my species 
work. . ." This passage serves to show that he had at this 
time no intention of making an exhaustive study of the 
Cirripedes. Indeed it would seem that his original intention 
was, as I learn from Sir J. D. Hooker, merely to work out one 
special problem. This is quite in keeping with the following 
passage in the Autobiography : " When on the coast of Chile, 
I found a most curious form, which burrowed into the shells 
of Concholepas, and which differed so much from all other 
Cirripedes that I had to form a new sub-order for its sole 
reception. . . . To understand the structure of my new 
Cirripede I had to examine and dissect many of the com- 
mon forms ; and this gradually led me on to take up the 
whole group." In later years he seems to have felt some 
doubt as to the value of these eight years of work, for 
instance when he wrote in his Autobiography " My work 
was of considerable use to me, when I had to discuss in the 
' Origin of Species ' the principles of a natural classification. 
Nevertheless I doubt whether the work was worth the con- 
sumption of so much time." Yet I learn from Sir J. D. 
Hooker that he certainly recognised at the time its value to 
himself as systematic training. Sir Joseph writes to me : 
41 Your father recognised three stages in his career as a 
biologist : the mere collector at Cambridge ; the collector and 
observer in the Beagle, and for some years afterwards ; and 
the trained naturalist after, and only after the Cirripede 



work. That he was a thinker all along is true enough, and 
there is a vast deal in his writings previous to the Cirripedes 
that a trained naturalist could but emulate. . . . He often 
alluded to it as a valued discipline, and added that even the 
' hateful ' work of digging out synonyms, and of describing, 
not only improved his methods but opened his eyes to the 
difficulties and merits of the works of the dullest of cataloguers. 
One result was that he would never allow a depreciatory 
remark to pass unchallenged on the poorest class of scientific 
workers, provided that their work was honest, and good of its 
kind. I have always regarded it as one of the finest traits cf 
his character, this generous appreciation of the hod-men of 
science, and of their labours . . . and it was "monographing 
the Barnacles that brought it about." 

Professor Huxley allows me to quote his opinion as to the 
value of the eight years given to the Cirripedes : 

" In my opinion your sagacious father never did a wiser 
thing than when he devoted himself to the years of patient 
toil which the Cirripede-book cost him. 

" Like the rest of us, he had no proper training in biological 
science, and it has always struck me as a remarkable instance 
of his scientific insight, that he saw the necessity of giving 
himself such training, and of his courage, that he did not 
shirk the labour of obtaining it. 

" The great danger which besets all men of large specula- 
tive faculty, is the temptation to deal with the accepted 
statements of fact in natural science, as if they were not only 
correct, but exhaustive ; as if they might be dealt with 
deductively, in the same way as propositions in Euclid may 
be dealt with. In reality, every such statement, however 
true it may be, is true only relatively to the means of observa- 
tion and the point of view of those who have enunciated it. 
So far it may be depended upon. But whether it will bear 
every speculative conclusion that may be logically deduced 
from it, is quite another question. 

348 LIFE AT DOWN. ^ETAT. 33-45. 

" Your father was building a vast superstructure upon the 
foundations furnished by the recognised facts of geological 
and biological science. In Physical Geography, in Geology 
proper, in Geographical Distribution, and in Palaeontology, he 
had acquired an extensive practical training during the 
voyage of the Beagle. He knew of his own knowledge the 
way in which the raw materials of these branches of science 
are acquired, and was therefore a most competent judge of 
the speculative strain they would bear. That which he 
needed, after his return to England, was a corresponding 
acquaintance with Anatomy and Development, and their rela- 
tion to Taxonomy and he acquired this by his Cirripede 

" Thus, in my apprehension, the value of the Cirripede 
monograph lies not merely in the fact that it is a very ad- 
mirable piece of work, and constituted a great addition to 
positive knowledge, but still more in the circumstance that it 
was a piece of critical self-discipline, the effect of which mani- 
fested itself in everything your father wrote afterwards, and 
saved him from endless errors of detail. 

" So far from such work being a loss of time, I believe it 
would have been well worth his while, had it been prac- 
ticable, to have supplemented it by a special study of em- 
bryology and physiology. His hands would have been 
greatly strengthened thereby when he came to write out 
sundry chapters of the ' Origin of Species.' But of course in 
those days it was almost impossible for him to find facilities 
for such work." 

No one can look at the two volumes on the recent Cirri- 
pedes, of 399 and 684 pages respectively (not to speak of 
the volumes on the fossil species), without being struck 
by the immense amount of detailed work which they con- 
tain. The forty plates, some of them with thirty figures, 
and the fourteen pages of index in the two volumes to- 
gether, give some rough idea of the labour spent on the 


work.* The state of knowledge, as regards the Cirripedes, 
was most unsatisfactory at the time that my father began to 
work at them. As an illustration of this fact, it may be 
mentioned that he had even to re-organise the nomenclature 
of the group, or, as he expressed it, he " unwillingly found it 
indispensable to give names to several valves, and to some 
few of the softer parts of Cirripedes." f It is interesting to 
learn from his diary the amount of time which he gave to 
different genera. Thus the genus Chthamalus, the descrip- 
tion of which occupies twenty-two pages, occupied him for 
thirty-six days ; Coronula took nineteen days, and is described 
in twenty-seven pages. Writing to Fitz-Roy, he speaks of 
being " for the last half-month daily hard at work in dis- 
secting a little animal about the size of a pin's head, from 
the Chonos archipelago, and I could spend another month, 
and daily see more beautiful structure." 

Though he became excessively weary of the work before 
the end of the eight years, he had much keen enjoyment in 
the course of it. Thus he wrote to Sir J. D. Hooker (1847 ?) : 
"As you say, there is an extraordinary pleasure in pure 
observation ; not but what I suspect the pleasure in this case 
is rather derived from comparisons forming in one's mind 
with allied structures. After having been so long employed 
in writing my old geological observations, it is delightful to 
use one's eyes and fingers again." It was, in fact, a return to 
the work which occupied so much of his time when at sea 
during his voyage. His zoological notes of that period give 
an impression of vigorous work, hampered by ignorance and 
want of appliances ; and his untiring industry in the dissec- 
tion of marine animals, especially of Crustacea, must have 
been of value to him as training for his Cirripede work. 
Most of his work was done with the simple dissecting micro- 

* The reader unacquainted with Romanes' article on " Charles Uar- 
Zoology will find some account of win "('Nature' Series, 1882). 
the more interesting results in Mr. t Vol. i. p. 3. 

350 LIFE AT DOWN. .KTAT. 33~45- 

scope but it was the need which he found for higher powers 
that induced him, in 1846, to buy a compound microscope. 
He wrote to Hooker : " When I was drawing with L., I 
was so delighted with the appearance of the objects, especially 
with their perspective, as seen through the weak powers of a 
good compound microscope, that I am going to order one ; 
indeed, I often have structures in which the 3^ is not power 

During part of the time covered by the present chapter, my 
father suffered perhaps more from ill-health than at any other 
time of his life. He felt severely the depressing influence of 
these long years of illness ; thus as early as 1840 he wrote to 
Fox : " I am grown a dull, old, spiritless dog to what I used 
to be. One gets stupider as one grows older I think." It is 
not wonderful that he should so have written, it is rather 
to be wondered at that his spirit withstood so great and 
constant a strain. He wrote to Sir J. Hooker in 1845 : 
" You are very kind in your enquiries about my health ; I 
have nothing to say about it, being always much the same, 
some days better and some worse. I believe I have not 
had one whole day, or rather night, without my stomach 
having been greatly disordered, during the last three years, 
and most days great prostration of strength : thank you for 
your kindness ; many of my friends, I believe, think me a 

Again, in 1849, he notes in his diary: "January ist to 
March loth. Health very bad, with much sickness and 
failure of power. Worked on all well days." This was 
written just before his first visit to Dr. Gully's Water-Cure 
Establishment at Malvern. In April of the same year he 
wrote : " I believe I am going on very well, but I am rather 
weary of my present inactive life, and the water-cure has the 
most extraordinary effect in producing indolence and stagna- 
tion of mind : till experiencing it, I could not have believed 
it possible. I now increase in weight, have escaped sickness 


for thirty days." He returned in June, after sixteen weeks' 
absence, much improved in health, and, as already described 
(p. 131), continued the water-cure at home for some time.] 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down [October, 1846]. 

MY DEAR HOOKER, I have not heard from Sulivan* 
lately; when he last wrote he named from 8th to loth as 
the most likely time. Immediately that I hear, I will fly 
you a line, for the chance of your being able to come. I 
forget whether you know him, but I suppose so ; he is a real 
good fellow. Anyhow, if you do not come then, I am very 
glad that you propose coming soon after. . . . 

I am going to begin some papers on the lower marine 
animals, which will last me some months, perhaps a year, and 
then I shall begin looking over my ten-year-long accumulation 
of notes on species and varieties, which, with writing, I dare 
say will take me five years, and then, when published, I dare 
say I shall stand infinitely low in the opinion of all sound 
Naturalists so this is my prospect for the future. 

Are you a good hand at inventing names ? I have a quite 
new and curious genus of Barnacle, which I want to name, 
and how to invent a name completely puzzles me. 

By the way, I have told you nothing about Southampton. 
We enjoyed (wife and myself) our week beyond measure r 
the papers were all dull, but I met so many friends and 
made so many new acquaintances (especially some of the 
Irish Naturalists), and took so many pleasant excursions. 
I wish you had been there. On Sunday we had so plea- 
sant an excursion to Winchester with Falconer,f Colonel 

* Admiral Sir B. J. Sulivan, for- as a botanist during his whole 

merly an officer of the Beagle. career in India, where he was also 

t Hugh Falconer, born 1809, a medical officer in H.E.I.C. Ser- 

died 1865. Chiefly known as a vice ; he was superintendent of the 

paleontologist, although employed Company's garden, first at Saha- 

352 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. 

Sabinc,* and Dr. Robinson,f and others. I never enjoyed 
a day more in my life. I missed having a look at H. 
Watson.J I suppose you heard that he met Forbes and told 
him he had a severe article in the Press. I understand that 
Forbes explained to him that he had no cause to complain, 
but as the article was printed, he would not withdraw it, but 
offered it to Forbes for him to append notes to it, which 
Forbes naturally declined. . . . 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down, April 7th, [1847 ?] 

MY DEAR HOOKER, I should have written before now, had 
I not been almost continually unwell, and at present I am 
suffering from four boils and swellings, one of which hardly 
allows me the use of my right arm, and has stopped all my 
work, and damped all my spirits. I was much disappointed 
at missing my trip to Kew, and the more so, as I had forgotten 
you would be away all this month ; but I had no choice, and 
was in bed nearly all Friday and Saturday. I congratulate 
you over your improved prospects about India, but at the 

runpore, and then at Calcutta. He Robinson, of the Armagh Observa- 

was one of the first botanical ex- tory. 

plorers of Kashmir. Falconer's \ The late Hewett Cottrell Wat- 
discoveries of Miocene mammalian son, author of the ' Cybele Britan- 
remains in the Sewalik Hills, were, nica,' one of a most valuable series 
at the time, perhaps the greatest of works on the topography and 
"finds" which had been made. His geographical distribution of the 
book on the subject, 'Fauna An- plants of the British Islands, 
tiqua Sivalensis,' remained un- Sir J. Hooker left England on 
finished at the time of his death. November u, 1847, for his Hima- 

* The late Sir Edward Sabine, layan and Tibetan journey. The 

formerly President of the Royal expedition was supported by a small 

Society, and author of a long grant from the Treasury, and thus 

series of memoirs on Terrestrial assumed the character of a Govern- 

Magnetism. ment mission. 

f The late Dr. Thomas Romney 


same time must sincerely groan over it. I shall feel quite lost 
without you to discuss many points with, and to point out 
(ill-luck to you) difficulties and objections to my species hypo- 
theses. It will be a horrid shame if money stops your expedi- 
tion ; but Government will surely help you to some extent. 
. . . Your present trip, with your new views, amongst the 
coal-plants, will be very interesting. If you have spare time, 
but not without, I should enjoy having some news of your 
progress. Your present trip will work well in, if you go to 
any of the coal districts in India. Would this not be a good 
object to parade before Government ; their utilitarian souls 
would comprehend this. By the way, I will get some work 
out of you, about the domestic races of animals in India. . . . 

C. Darwin to L. Jenyns (Blomefield). 

Down [1847]. 

DEAR JENYNS, I am very much obliged for the capital 
little Almanack ; * it so happened that I was wishing for one 
to keep in my portfolio. I had never seen this kind before, 
and shall certainly get one for the future. I think it is very 
amusing to have a list before one's eyes of the order of appear- 
ance of the plants and animals around one ; it gives a fresh 
interest to each fine day. There is one point I should like to 
see a little improved, viz. the correction for the clock at 

* On this subject Rev. A. Blome- " The Pocket Almanack con- 
field writes to me : " This letter tained, moreover, miscellaneous in- 
relates to a small Almanack first formation relating to Zoology and 
published in 1843, under the name Botany; to Natural History and 
of ' The Naturalists' Pocket Al- other scientific societies ; to public 
manack,' by Mr. Van Voorst, and Museums and Gardens, in addition 
which I edited for him. It was to the ordinary celestial phenomena 
intended especially for those who found in most other Almanacks, 
interest themselves in the periodic It continued to be issued till 1847, 
phenomena of animals and plants, after which year the publication 
of which a select list was given was abandoned." 
under each month of the year. 

354 L IFE AT DOWN. /ETAT. 33-45. [1847. 

shorter intervals. Most people, I suspect, who like myself 
have dials, will wish to be more precise k than with a margin 
of three minutes. I always buy a shilling almanack for this 
sole end. By the way, yours, i,e. Van Voorst's Almanack, is 
very dear; it ought, at least, to be advertised post-free for 
the shilling. Do you not think a table (not rules) of conver- 
sion of French into English measures, and perhaps weights, 
would be exceedingly useful ; also centigrade into Fahren- 
heit, magnifying powers according to focal distances? in 
fact you might make it the most useful publication of the age. 
I know what I should like best of all, namely, current meteo- 
rological remarks for each month, with statement of average 
course of winds and prediction of weather, in accordance 
with movements of barometer. People, I think, are always 
amused at knowing the extremes and means of temperature 
for corresponding times in other years. 

I hope you will go on with it another year. With many 

thanks, my dear Jenyns, 

Yours very truly, 


C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down, Sunday [April i8th, 1847]. 

MY DEAR HOOKER, I return with many thanks Watson's 
letter, which I have had copied. It is a capital one, and I am 
extremely obliged to you for obtaining me such valuable 
information. Surely he is rather in a hurry when he says 
intermediate varieties must almost be necessarily rare, other- 
.wise they would be taken as the types of the species ; for he 
overlooks numerical frequency as an element. Surely if A, B, C 
were three varieties, and if A were a good deal the commonest 
(therefore, also, first known), it would be taken as the type, 
without regarding whether B was quite intermediate or not, 
or whether it was rare or not. What capital essays W. 
would write ; but I suppose he has written a good deal in the 

1 847.] H. c. WATSON. 355 

' Phytologist.' You ought to encourage him to publish on 
variation ; it is a shame that such facts as those in his letter 
should remain unpublished. I must get you to introduce me 
to him ; would he be a good and sociable man for Dropmore?* 
though if he comes, Forbes must not (and I think you talked 
of inviting Forbes), or we shall have a glorious battle. I 
should like to see sometime the war correspondence. Have 
you the ' Phytologist,' and^could you sometime spare it ? I 
would go through it quickly. ... I have read your last five 
numbers, f and as usual have been much interested in several 
points, especially with your discussions on the beech and 
potato. I see you have introduced several sentences against 
us Transmutationists. I have also been looking through the 
latter volumes of the ' Annals of Natural History,' and have 

read two such soulless, pompous papers of , quite worthy 

of the author. . . . The contrast of the papers in the Annals 
with those in the Annales is rather humiliating; so many 
papers in the former, with short descriptions of species, with- 
out one word on their affinities, internal structure, range, or 

habits. I am now reading , and I have picked out some 

things which have interested me ; but he strikes me as rather 
dullish, and with all his Materia Medica smells of the doctor's 
shop. I shall ever hate the name of the Materia Medica, 
since hearing Duncan's lectures at eight o'clock on a winter's 
morning a whole, cold, breakfastless hour on the properties 
of rhubarb ! 

I hope your journey will be very prosperous. Believe me, 

my dear Hooker, 

Ever yours, 


P.S. I think I have only made one new acquaintance 
of late, that is, R. Chambers ; and I have just received a 

* A much enjoyed expedition 1847. 

made from Oxford when the f Of the Botany of Hooker's 

British Association met there in ' Antarctic Voyage.' 

VOL. I. 2 B 

356 LIFE AT DOWN. jETAT. 33-45. [1847. 

presentation copy of the sixth edition of the ' Vestiges.' Some- 
how I now feel perfectly convinced he is the author. He is 
in France, and has written to me thence. 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down, [1847 ?] 

... I am delighted to hear that Brongniart thought 
Sigillaria aquatic, and that Binney considers coal a sort of 
submarine peat. I would bet 5 to I that in twenty years 
this will be generally admitted ; * and I do not care for 
whatever the botanical difficulties or impossibilities may be. 
If I could but persuade myself that Sigillaria and Co. had a 
good range of depth, />. could live from 5 to 100 fathoms 
under water, all difficulties of nearly all kinds would be re- 
moved (for the simple fact of muddy ordinary shallow sea 
implies proximity of land). [N.B. I am chuckling to think 
how you are sneering all this time.] It is not much of a 
difficulty, there not being shells with the coal, considering 
how unfavourable deep mud is for most Mollusca, and that 
shells would probably decay from the humic acid, as seems to 
take place in peat and in the black moulds (as Lyell tells 
me) of the Mississippi. So coal question settled Q. E. D. 
Sneer away 1 

Many thanks for your welcome note from Cambridge, and I 
am glad you like my alma mafer, which I despise heartily as 
a place of education, but love from many most pleasant 
recollections. . . . 

Thanks for your offer of the ' Phytologist ; ' I shall be very 
much obliged for it, for^I do not suppose I should be able to 
borrow it from any other quarter. I will not be set up too 
much by your praise, but I do not believe I ever lost a book 
or forgot to return it during a long lapse of time. Your 
4 Webb ' is well wrapped up, and with your name in large 
letters outside. 

* An unfulfilled prophecy. 

1 847-] COAL. 357 

My new microscope is come home (a " splendid plaything," 
as old R. Brown called it), and I am delighted with it ; it 
really is a splendid plaything. I have been in London for 
three days, and saw many of our friends. I was extremely 
sorry to hear a not very good account of Sir William. 
Farewell, my dear Hooker, and be a good boy, and make 
Sigillaria a submarine sea- weed. 

Ever yours, 


C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down [May 6th, 1847]. 

MY DEAR HOOKER, You have made a savage onslaught 
and I must try to defend myself. But, first, let me say that I 
never write to you except for my own good pleasure ; now I 
fear that you answer me when busy and without inclination 
(and I am sure I should have none if I was as busy as you). 
Pray do not do so, and if I thought my writing entailed an 
answer from you nolens vokns, it would destroy all my pleasure 
in writing. Firstly, I did not consider my letter as reasoning, 
or even as speculation, but simply as mental rioting ; and as I 
was sending Binney's paper, I poured out to you the result of 
reading it. Secondly, you are right, indeed, in thinking me 
mad, if you suppose that I would class any ferns as marine 
plants ; but surely there is a wide distinction between the 
plants found upright in the coal-beds and those not upright, 
and which might have been drifted. Is it not possible that 
the same circumstances which have preserved the vegetation 
in situ, should have preserved drifted plants ? I know 
Calamites is found upright ; but I fancied its affinities were 
very obscure, like Sigillaria. As for Lepidodendron, I forgot 
its existence, as happens when one goes riot, and now know 
neither what it is, or whether upright. If these plants, i.e. 
Calamites and Lepidodendron, have very clear relations to 
terrestrial vegetables, like the ferns have, and are found 

2 B 2 

358 LIFE AT DOWN. yETAT. 33-4$. [1847. 

upright /// situ, of course I must give up the ghost. But 
surely Sigillaria is the main upright plant, and on its obscure 
affinities I have heard you enlarge. 

Thirdly, it never entered my head to undervalue botanical 
relatively to zoological evidence ; except in so far as I 
thought it was admitted that the vegetative structure seldom 
yielded any evidence of affinity nearer than that of families, 
and not always so much. And is it not in plants, as certainly 
it is in animals, dangerous to judge of habits without very 
near affinity. Could a Botanist tell from structure alone that 
the Mangrove family, almost or quite alone in Dicotyledons, 
could live in the sea, and the Zostera family almost alone 
among the Monocotyledons ? Is it a safe argument, that be- 
cause algae are almost the only, or the only submerged sea- 
plants, that formerly other groups had not members with such 
habits ? With animals such an argument would not be con- 
clusive, as I could illustrate by many examples ; but I am 
forgetting myself ; I want only to some degree to defend my- 
self, and not burn my fingers by attacking you. The foundation 
of my letter, and what is my deliberate opinion, though I dare 
say you will think it absurd, is that I would rather trust, cateris 
paribus, pure geological evidence than either zoological or 
botanical evidence. I do not say that I would sooner trust 
poor geological evidence than good organic. I think the basis 
of pure geological reasoning is simpler (consisting chiefly of 
the action of water on the crust of the earth, and its up and 
down movements) than a basis drawn from the difficult 
subject of affinities and of structure in relation to habits. I 
can hardly analyse the facts on which I have come to this 
conclusion ; but I can illustrate it. Pallas's account would 
lead any one to suppose that the Siberian strata, with the 
frozen carcasses, had been quickly deposited, and hence that 
the embedded animals had lived in the neighbourhood ; but 
our zoological knowledge of thirty years ago led every one 
falsely to reject this conclusion. 

1 847.] COAL. 359 

Tell me that an upright fern in situ occurs with Sigillaria 
and Stigmaria, or that the affinities of Calamites and Lepido- 
dendron (supposing that they are found in situ with Si- 
gillaria) are so clear, that they could not have been marine, 
like, but in a greater degree, than the mangrove and sea- 
wrack, and I will humbly apologise to you and all Botanists 
for having let my mind run riot on a subject on which 
assuredly I know nothing. But till I hear this, I shall keep 
privately to my own opinion with the same pertinacity and, 
as you will think, with the same philosophical spirit with 
which Koenig maintains that Cheirotherium-footsteps are fuci. 

Whether this letter will sink me still lower in your opinion, 
or put me a little right, I know not, but hope the latter. 
Anyhow, I have revenged myself with boring you with a very 
long epistle. Farewell, and be forgiving. Ever yours, 


P.S. When will you return to Kew? I have forgotten one 
main object of my letter, to thank you much for your offer of 
the ' Hort. Journal,' but I have ordered the two numbers. 

[The two following extracts [1847] give the continuation 
and conclusion of the coal battle. 

"By the way, as submarine coal made you so wrath, I 
thought I would experimentise on Falconer and Bunbury* 
together, and it made [them] even more savage ; ' such infernal 
nonsense ought to be thrashed out of me.' Bunbury was 
more polite and contemptuous. So I now know how to stir 
up and show off any Botanist. I wonder whether Zoologists 
and Geologists have got their tender points ; I wish I could 
find out." 

" I cannot resist thanking you for your most kind note. 
Pray do not think that I was annoyed by your letter : I per- 
ceived that you had been thinking with animation, and ac- 
cordingly expressed yourself strongly, and so I understood it. 
* The late Sir C. Bunbury, well known as a palaeobotanist. 

360 LIFE AT DOWN. jETAT. 33-4$. [1847. 

Forfend me from a man who weighs every expression with 
Scotch prudence. I heartily wish you all success in your 
noble problem, and I shall be very curious to have some talk 
with you and hear your ultimatum."] 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker* 

Down [October, 1847]. 

I congratulate you heartily on your arrangements being 
completed, with some prospect for the future. It will be a 
noble voyage and journey, but I wish it was over, I shall 
miss you selfishly and all ways to a dreadful extent ... I 
am in great perplexity how we are to meet ... I can well 
understand how dreadfully busy you must be. If you cannot 
come here, you must let me come to you for a night ; for I 
must have one more chat and one more quarrel with you 
over the coal. 

By the way, I endeavoured to stir up Lyell (who has been 
staying here some days with me) to theorise on the coal : his 
oolitic upright Equisetums are dreadful for my submarine flora. 
I should die much easier if some one would solve me the coal 
question. I sometimes think it could not have been formed 
at all. Old Sir Anthony Carlisle once said to me gravely, 
that he supposed Megatherium and such cattle were just sent 
down from heaven to see whether the earth would support 
them ; and I suppose the coal was rained down to puzzle 
mortals. You must work the coal well in India. 

Ever yours, 


C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

[November 6th, 1847.] 

MY DEAR HOOKER, I have just received your note with 
sincere grief : there is no help for it. I shall always look at 
your intention of coming here, under such circumstances, as 
* Parts of two letters. 

1 847.] GLEN ROY. 361 

the greatest proof of friendship I ever received from mortal 
man. My conscience would have upbraided me in not having 
come to you on Thursday, but, as it turned out, I could not, 
for I was quite unable to leave Shrewsbury before that day, 
and I reached home only last night, much knocked up. With- 
out I hear to-morrow (which is hardly possible), and if I am 
feeling pretty well, I will drive over to Kew on Monday 
morning, just to say farewell. I will stay only an hour. . . . 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

[November 1847.] 

MY DEAR HOOKER, I am very unwell, and incapable of 
doing anything. I do hope I have not inconvenienced you. 
I was so unwell all yesterday, that I was rejoicing you were 
not here ; for it would have been a bitter mortification to me 
to have had you here and not enjoyed your last day. I 
shall not now see you. Farewell, and God bless you. 

Your affectionate friend, 

I will write to you in India. 

[In 1847 appeared a paper by Mr. D. Milne,* in which my 
father's Glen Roy work is criticised, and which is referred 
to in the following characteristic extract from a letter to 
Sir J. Hooker : " I have been bad enough for these few last 
days, having had to think and write too much about Glen 
Roy. . . . Mr. Milne having attacked my theory, which made 
me horribly sick." I have not been able to find any published 
reply to Mr. Milne, so that I imagine the " writing" mentioned 
was confined to letters. Mr. Milne's paper was not destructive 
to the Glen Roy paper, and this my father recognises in the 
following extract from a letter to Lyell (March, 1847). The 
reference to Chambers is explained by the fact that he ac- 

* Now Mr. Milne Home. The of the Edinburgh Royal Society, 
essay was published in Transactions voL xvi. 

362 i HE AT DOWN. ^-TAT. 33-45. [1848. 

companicd Mr. Milne in his visit to Glen Roy. " I got R. 
Chambers to give me a sketch of Milne's Glen Roy views, 
and I have re-read my paper, and am, now that I have heard 
what is to be said, not even staggered. It is provoking and 
humiliating to find that Chambers not only had not read 
with any care my paper on this subject, or even looked at the 
coloured map, so that the new shelf described by me had not 
been searched for, and my arguments and facts of detail not in 
the least attended to. I entirely gave up the ghost, and was 
quite chicken-hearted at the Geological Society, till you 
reassured and reminded me of the main facts in the whole 

The two following letters to Lyell, though of later date 
(June, 1848), bear on the same subject : 

" I was at the evening meeting [of the Geological Society], 
but did not get within hail of you. What a fool (though I must 

say a very amusing one) did make of himself. Your 

speech was refreshing after it, and was well characterized by 
Fox (my cousin) in three words ' What a contrast ! ' That 
struck me as a capital speculation about the Wealden Con- 
tinent going down. I did not hear what you settled at the 
Council ; I was quite wearied out and bewildered. I find Smith, 
of Jordan Hill, has a much worse opinion of R. Chambers's 
book than even I have. Chambers has piqued me a little ; * 
he says I ' propound ' and ' profess my belief that Glen Roy is 
marine, and that the idea was accepted because the ' mobility 
of the land was the ascendant idea of the day.' He adds some 
very faint upper lines in Glen Spean (seen, by the way, by 
Agassiz), and has shown that Milne and Kemp are right in 
there being horizontal aqueous markings (not at coincident 
levels with those of Glen Roy) in other parts of Scotland at 
great heights, and he adds several other cases. This is the 
whole of his addition to the data. He not only takes my line 

* 'Ancient Sea Margins, 1848.' should be " the mobility of the land 
The words quoted by my father was an ascendant idea." 

1848.] ROBERT CHAMBERS. 363 

of argument from the buttresses and terraces below the lower 
shelf and some other arguments (without acknowledgment), 
but he sneers at all his predecessors not having perceived the 
importance of the short portions of lines intermediate between 
the chief ones in Glen Roy ; whereas I commence the descrip- 
tion of them with saying, that ' perceiving their importance, I 
examined them with scrupulous care,' and expatiate at con- 
siderable length on them. I have indirectly told him I do not 
think he has quite claims to consider that he alone (which he 
pretty directly asserts) has solved the problem of Glen Roy. 
With respect to the terraces at lower levels coincident in 
height all round Scotland and England, I am inclined to 
believe he shows some little probability of there being some 
leading ones coincident, but much more exact evidence is 
required. Would you believe it credible ? he advances as a 
probable solution to account for the rise of Great Britain that 
in some great ocean one-twentieth of the bottom of the whole 
aqueous surface of the globe has sunk in (he does not say 
where he puts it) for a thickness of half a mile, and this he 
has calculated would make an apparent rise of 130 feet." 

C. Darwin to C, Lyell. 

Down [June 1848]. 

MY DEAR LYELL, Out of justice to Chambers I must 
trouble you with one line to say, as far as I am personally 
concerned in Glen Roy, he has made the amende honorable, 
and pleads guilty through inadvertency of taking my two 
lines of arguments and facts without acknowledgment. He 
concluded by saying he "came to the same point by an 
independent course of inquiry, which in a small degree 
excuses this inadvertency." His letter altogether shows a 
very good disposition, and says he is " much gratified with 
the measured approbation which you bestow, &c." I am 
heartily glad I was able to say in truth that I thought he had 

364 l.IKK AT J)\V.\. .1.1 AT. 33-45. [1848. 

done good service in calling more attention to the subject of 
the terraces. He protests it is unfair to call the sinking of 
the sea his theory, for that he with care always speaks of mere 
change of level, and this is quite true ; but the one section in 
which he shows how he conceives the sea might sink is so 
astonishing, that I believe it will with others, as with me, 
more than counterbalance his previous caution. I hope that 
you may think better of the book than I do. 

Yours most truly, 


C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

October 6th, 1848. 

... I have lately been trying to get up an agitation (but 
I shall not succeed, and indeed doubt whether I have time 
and strength to go on with it), against the practice of 
Naturalists appending for perpetuity the name of the first 
describer to species. I look at this as a direct premium to 
hasty work, to naming instead of describing. A species ought 
to have a name so well known that the addition of the author's 
name would be superfluous, and a [piece] of empty vanity.* 

* His contempt for the self-re- bridgeshire. He was pleased with 

garding spirit in a naturalist is his capture, and of course carried 

illustrated by an anecdote, for which it home in triumph. Some years 

I am indebted to Rev. L. Blome- afterwards, the voyage of the Beagle 

field. After speaking of my father's having been made in the interim, 

love of Entomology at Cambridge, talking over old times with him, I 

Mr. Blomefield continues : " He reverted to this circumstance, and 

occasionally came over from Cam- asked if he remembered it. ' Oh 

bridge to my Vicarage at Swaffham yes,' (he said,) ' I remember it well ; 

Bulbeck, and we went out together and I was selfish enough to keep 

to collect insects in the woods at the specimen, when you were col- 

Bottisham Hall, close at hand, or lecting materials for a Fauna of 

made longer excursions in the Fens. Cambridgeshire, and for a local 

On one occasion he captured in a museum in the Philosophical 

large bag net, with which he used Society.' He followed this up with 

vigorously to sweep the weeds and some remarks on the pettiness of 

long grass, a rare coleopterous in- collectors, who aimed at nothing 

sect, one of the Lepturida, which I beyond filling their cabinets with 

myself had never taken in Cam- rare things." 

1 849.] NOMENCLATURE. 365 

At present, it would not do to give mere specific names ; but 
I think Zoologists might open the road to the omission, by 
referring to good systematic writers instead of to first de- 
scribers. Botany, I fancy, has not suffered so much as 
Zoology from mere naming; the characters, fortunately, are 
more obscure. Have you ever thought on this point ? Why 
should Naturalists append their own names to new species, 
when Mineralogists and Chemists do not do so to new sub- 
stances? When you write to Falconer pray remember me affec- 
tionately to him. I grieve most sincerely to hear that he has 
been ill. My dear Hooker, God bless you, and fare you well. 

Your sincere friend, 


C. Darwin to Hugh Strickland* 

Down, Jan. 2Qth [1849]. 

.... What a labour you have undertaken ; I do honour 
your devoted zeal in the good cause of Natural Science. Do 

* Hugh Edwin Strickland, M.A., career was suddenly cut short on 
F.R.S., was born 2nd of March, September 14, 1853, when, while 
1811, and educated at Rugby, geologizing in a railway cutting be- 
and at Oriel College, Oxford. tween Retford and Gainsborough, 
In 1835 an d 1836 he travelled he was run over by a train and 
through Europe to the Levant with instantly killed. A memoir of him 
W. J. Hamilton, the geologist, win- and a reprint of his principal cen- 
tering in Asia Minor. In 1841 he tributions to journals was published 
brought the subject of Natural by Sir William Jardine in 1858 ; 
History Nomenclature before the but he was also the author of ' The 
British Association, and prepared Dodo and its Kindred' (1848); 
the Code of Rules for Zoological ' Bibhographia Zoologias ' (the latter 
Nomenclature, now known by his in conjunction with Louis Agassiz, 
name the principles of which are and issued by the Ray Society) ; 
very generally adopted. In 1843 'Ornithological Synonyms' (one 
he was one of the founders (if not volume only published, and that 
the original projector) of the Ray posthumously). A catalogue of his 
Society. In 1845 he married the ornithological collection, given by 
second daughter of Sir William his widow to the University of 
Jardine, Bart. In 1850 he was ap- Cambridge, was compiled by Mr. 
pointed, in consequence of Buck- Salvin, and published in 1882. (I 
land's illness, Deputy Reader in am indebted to Prof. Newton for 
Geology at Oxford. His promising the above note.) 

366 LIFE AT DOWN. JET AT. 33-45. [1849. 

you happen to have a spare copy of the Nomenclature rules 
published in the ' British Association Transactions ? ' if you 
have, and would give it me, I should be truly obliged, for I 
grudge buying the volume for it. I have found the rules very 
useful, it is quite a comfort to have something to rest on in 
the turbulent ocean of nomenclature (and am accordingly 
grateful to you), though I find it very difficult to obey always. 
Here is a case (and I think it should have been noticed in the 
rules), Coronula, Cineras and Otion, are names adopted by 
Cuvier, Lamarck, Owen, and almost every well-known writer, 
but I find that all three names were anticipated by a German : 
now I believe if I were to follow the strict rule of priority, 
more harm would be done than good, and more especially as 
I feel sure that the newly fished-up names would not be 
adopted. I have almost made up my mind to reject the rule 
of priority in this case ; would you grudge the trouble to send 
me your opinion ? I have been led of late to reflect much on 
the subject of naming, and I have come to a fixed opinion 
that the plan of the first describer's name, being appended 
for perpetuity to a species, has been the greatest curse to 
Natural History. Some months since, I wrote out the en- 
closed badly drawn-up paper, thinking that perhaps I would 
agitate the subject ; but the fit has passed, and I do not sup- 
pose I ever shall ; I send it you for the chance of your caring 
to see my notions. I have been surprised to find in con- 
versation that several naturalists were of nearly my way of 
thinking. I feel sure as long as species- mongers have their 
vanity tickled by seeing their own names appended to a 
species, because they miserably described it in two or three 
lines, we shall have the same vast amount of bad work as at 
present, and which is enough to dishearten any man who is 
willing to work out any branch with care and time. I find 
every genus of Cirripcdia has half-a-dozen names, and not 
one careful description of any one species in any one genus. 
I do not believe that this would have been the case if each 

1 849.] NOMENCLATURE. 367 

man knew that the memory of his own name depended on his 
doing his work well, and not upon merely appending a name 
with a few wretched lines indicating only a few prominent 
external characters. But I will not weary you with any 
longer tirade. Read my paper or not, just as you like, and 
return it whenever you please. 

Yours most sincerely, 


Hugh Strickland to C. Darwin, 

The Lodge, Tewkesbury, Jan. 3ist, 1849. 

.... I have next to notice your second objection that 
retaining the name of the first describer in perpetuum along 
with that of the species, is a premium on hasty and careless 
work. This is quite a different question from that of the law 
of priority itself, and it never occurred to me before, though it 
seems highly probable that the general recognition of that law 
may produce such a result. We must try to counteract this 
evil in some other way. 

The object of appending the name of a man to the name of 
a species is not to gratify the vanity of the man, but to indi- 
cate more precisely the species. Sometimes two men will, by 
accident, give the same name (independently) to two species of 
the same genus. More frequently a later author will misapply 
the specific name of an older one. Thus the Helix pntris of 
Montagu is not H. putris of Linnaeus, though Montagu sup- 
posed it to be so. In such a case we cannot define the species 
by Helix putris alone, but must append the name of the 
author whom we quote. But when a species has never borne 
but one name (as Corvus frugilegus], and no other species 01 
Corvus has borne the same name, it is, of course, unnecessary 
to add the author's name. Yet even here I like the form 
Corvus frugilegus, Linn., as it reminds us that this is one of 
the old species, long known, and to be found in the ' Systema 

368 1. 1 IK AT DOWN. ^ETAT. 33-45. [1849. 

Naturae,' &c. I fear, therefore, that (at least until our nomen- 
clature is more definitely settled) it will be impossible to 
indicate species with scientific accuracy, without adding the 
name of their first author. You may, indeed, do it as you 
propose, by saying /;/ Lam. An. Invert., &c., but then this 
would be incompatible with the law of priority, for where 
Lamarck has violated that law, one cannot adopt his name. 
It is, nevertheless, highly conducive to accurate indication to 
append to the (oldest) specific name one good reference to a 
standard work, especially to a figure, with an accompanying 
synonym if necessary. This method may be cumbrous, but 
cumbrousness is a far less evil than uncertainty. 

It, moreover, seems hardly possible to carry out the priority 
principle without the historical aid afforded by appending the 
author's name to the specific one. If I, a priority man, called 
a species C. D., it implies that C. D. is the oldest name that 
I know of; but in order that you and others may judge of 
the propriety of that name, you must ascertain when, and by 
whom, the name was first coined. Now, if to the specific 
name C. D., I append the name A. B., of its first describer, I 
at once furnish you with the clue to the dates when, and the 
book in which, this description was given, and I thus assist 
you in determining whether C. D. be really the oldest, and 
therefore the correct, designation. 

I do, however, admit that the priority principle (excellent 
as it is) has a tendency, when the author's name is added, to 
encourage vanity and slovenly work. I think, however, that 
much might be done to discourage those obscure and unsatis- 
factory definitions of which you so justly complain, by writing 
down the practice. Let the better disposed naturalists com- 
bine to make a formal protest against all vague, loose, and 
inadequate definitions of (supposed) new species. Let a 
committee (say of the British Association) be appointed to 
prepare a sort of Class List of the various modern works in 
which new species are described, arranged in order of merit. 

1 849.] NOMENCLATURE 369- 

The lowest class would contain the worst examples of the 
kind, and their authors would thus be exposed to the obloquy 
which they deserve, and be gibbeted in terrorem for the 
edification of those who may come after. 

I have thus candidly stated my views (I hope intelligibly) 
of what seems best to be done in the present transitional and 
dangerous state of systematic zoology. Innumerable la- 
bourers, many of them crotchety and half-educated, are 
rushing into the field, and it depends, I think, on the present 
generation whether the science is to descend to posterity a 
chaotic mass, or possessed of some traces of law and organisa- 
tion. If we could only get a congress of deputies from the 
chief scientific bodies of Europe and America, something 
might be done, but, as the case stands, I confess I do not 
clearly see my way, beyond humbly endeavouring to reform 
Number One. 

Yours ever, 


C. Darwin to Hugh Strickland. 

Down, Sunday [Feb. 4th, 1849]. 

MY DEAR STRICKLAND, I am, in truth, greatly obliged to 
you for your long, most interesting, and clear letter, and the 
Report. I will consider your arguments, which are of the 
greatest weight, but I confess I cannot yet bring myself to 
reject very well-known names, not in one country, but over the 
world, for obscure ones, simply on the ground that I do not 
believe I should be followed. Pray believe that I should 
break the law of priority only in rare cases ; will you read the 
enclosed (and return it), and tell me whether it does not 
stagger you ? (N.B. I promise that I will not give you any 
more trouble.) I want simple answers, and not for you to 
waste your time in reasons ; I am curious for your answer in 
regard to Balanus. I put the case of Otion, &c., to W. 

370 LIFE AT DOWN. ^-TAT. 33-4$. [1849. 

Thompson, who is fierce for the law of priority, and he gave 
it up in such well-known names. I am in a perfect maze of 
doubt on nomenclature. In not one large genus of Cirripcdia 
has any one species been correctly defined ; it is pure guess- 
work (being guided by range and commonness and habits) to 
recognise any species : thus I can make out, from plates or 
descriptions, hardly any of the British sessile cirripedes. I 
cannot bear to give new names to all the species, and yet I 
shall perhaps do wrong to attach old names by little better 
than guess ; I cannot at present tell the least which of two 
species all writers have meant by the common Anatifera 
l&vis ; I have, therefore, given that name to the one which is 
rather the commonest. Literally, not one species is properly 
defined ; not one naturalist has ever taken the trouble to open 
the shell of any species to describe it scientifically, and yet all 
the genera have half-a-dozen synonyms. For argument's sake, 
suppose I do my work thoroughly well, any one who happens 
to have the original specimens named, I will say by Chenu, 
who has figured and named hundreds of species, will be able 
to upset all my names according to the law of priority (for he 
may maintain his descriptions are sufficient), do you think it 
advantageous to science that this should be done : I think 
not, and that convenience and high merit (here put as mere 
argument) had better come into some play. The subject is 

I hope you will occasionally turn in your mind my argument 
of the evil done by the " mini " attached to specific names ; 
I can most clearly see the excessive evil it has caused ; in 
mineralogy I have myself found there is no rage to merely 
name ; a person does not take up the subject without he 
intends to work it out, as he knows that his only claim to 
merit rests on his work being ably done, and has no relation 
whatever to naming. I give up one point, and grant that 
reference to first describer's name should be given in all sys- 
tematic works, but I think something would be gained if a 

1 849.] NOMENCLATURE. 371 

reference was given without the author's name being actually- 
appended as part of the binomial name, and I think, except 
in systematic works, a reference, such as I propose, would 
damp vanity much. I think a very wrong spirit runs through 
all Natural History, as if some merit was due to a man for 
merely naming and defining a species ; I think scarcely any, 
or none, is due ; if he works out minutely and anatomically 
any one species, or systematically a whole group, credit is 
due, but I must think the mere defining a species is nothing, 
and that no injustice is done him if it be overlooked, though a 
great inconvenience to Natural History is thus caused. I do 
not think more credit is due to a man for defining a species, 
than to a carpenter for making a box. But I am foolish and 
rabid against species-mongers, or rather against their vanity ; 
it is useful and necessary work which must be done ; but they 
act as if they had actually made the species, and it was their 
own property. 

I use Agassiz's nomenclator ; at least two-thirds of the 
dates in the Cirripedia are grossly wrong. 

I shall do what I can in fossil Cirripedia, and should be 
very grateful for specimens ; but I do not believe that species 
(and hardly genera) can be defined by single valves ; as in 
every recent species yet examined their forms vary greatly : 
to describe a species by valves alone, is the same as to 
describe a crab from small portions of its carapace alone, 
these portions being highly variable, and not, as in Crustacea, 
modelled over viscera. I sincerely apologise for the trouble 
which I have given you, but indeed I will give no more. 

Yours most sincerely, 


P.S. In conversation I found Owen and Andrew Smith 
much inclined to throw over the practice of attaching authors' 
names ; I believe if I agitated I could get a large party to join. 
W. Thompson agreed some way with me, but was not prepared 
to go nearly as far as I am. 

VOL. I. 2 C 

372 LIFE AT DOWN. yliTAT. 33~4$. [1849. 

C. Danvin to Hugh Strickland. 

Down, Feb. loth [1849]. 

MY DEAR STRICKLAND, I have again to thank you cor- 
dially for your letter. Your remarks shall fructify to some 
extent, and I will try to be more faithful to rigid virtue and 
priority ; but as for calling Balanus " Lepas " (which I did 
not think of), I cannot do it, my pen won't write it it is 
impossible. I have great hopes some of my difficulties will 
disappear, owing to wrong dates in Agassiz, and to my having 
to run several genera into one, for I have as yet gone, in but 
few cases, to original sources. With respect to adopting my 
own notions in my Cirripedia book, I should not like to do so 
without I found others approved, and in some public way 
nor, indeed, is it well adapted, as I can never recognise a 
species without I have the original specimen, which, for- 
tunately, I have in many cases in the British Museum. Thus 
far I mean to adopt my notion, as never putting mihi or 
' Danvin " after my own species, and in the anatomical text 
giving no authors' names at all, as the systematic Part will 
serve for those who want to know the History of a species as 
far as I can imperfectly work it out 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

[The Lodge, Malvern, 

March 28th, 1849.] 

MY DEAR HOOKER, Your letter of the I3th of October 
has remained unanswered till this day ! What an ungrateful 
return for a letter which interested me so much, and which 
contained so much and curious information. But I have had 
a bad winter. 

On the 1 3th of November, my poor dear father died, and 
no one who did not know him would believe that a man above 
eighty-three years old could have retained so tender and 
affectionate a disposition, with all his sagacity unclouded to 
the last I was at the time so unwell, that I was unable to 

1849.] HIS FATHER'S DEATH. 373 

travel, which added to my misery. Indeed, all this winter I 
have been bad enough . . . and my nervous system began 
to be affected, so that my hands trembled, and head was 
often swimming. I was not able to do anything one day out 
of three, and was altogether too dispirited to write to you, 
or to do anything but what I was compelled. I thought I 
was rapidly going the way of all flesh. Having heard, acci- 
dentally, of two persons who had received much benefit from 
the water-cure, I got Dr. Gully's book, and made further 
enquiries, and at last started here, with wife, children, and 
all our servants. We have taken a house for two months, 
and have been here a fortnight. I am already a little 
stronger . . . Dr. Gully feels pretty sure he can do me good, 

which most certainly the regular doctors could not 

I feel certain that the water-cure is no quackery. 

How I shall enjoy getting back to Down with renovated 
health, if such is to be my good fortune, and resuming the 
beloved Barnacles. Now I hope that you will forgive me for 
my negligence in not having sooner answered your letter. I 
was uncommonly interested by the sketch you give of your 
intended grand expedition, from which I suppose you will 
soon be returning. How earnestly I hope that it may prove 
in every way successful. . . . 

[When my father was at the Water-cure Establishment at 
Malvern he was brought into contact with clairvoyance, of 
which he writes in the following extract from a letter to Fox. 
September, 1850. 

" You speak about Homoeopathy, which is a subject which 
makes me more wrath, even than does Clairvoyance. Clair- 
voyance so transcends belief, that one's ordinary faculties are 
put out of the question, but in homceopathy common sense 
and common observation come into play, and both these must 
go to the dogs, if the infinitesimal doses have any effect what- 
ever. How true is a remark I saw the other day by Quetelet, 

2 C 2 

374 LIFE AT DOWN. A-.TAT. 33-4$. [1849^ 

in respect to evidence of curative processes, viz. that no one 
knows in disease what is the simple result of nothing being 
done, as a standard with which to compare homoeopathy, 
and all other such things. It is a sad flaw, I cannot but 
think, in my beloved Dr. Gully, that he believes in everything. 

When Miss was very ill, he had a clairvoyant girl to report 

on internal changes, a mesmerist to put her to sleep an 

homoeopathist, viz. Dr. , and himself as hydropathist ! 

and the girl recovered." 

A passage out of an earlier letter to Fox (December, 1844) 
shows that he was equally sceptical on the subject of mes- 
merism : " With respect to mesmerism, the whole country 
resounds with wonderful facts or tales ... I have just 
heard of a child, three or four years old (whose parents and 
self I well knew), mesmerised by his father, which is the first 
fact which has staggered me. I shall not believe fully till I 
see'or hear from good evidence of animals (as has been stated 
is possible) not drugged, being put to stupor ; of course the 
impossibility would not prove mesmerism false ; but it is the 
only clear experimentum crucis, and I am astonished it has 
not been systematically tried. If mesmerism was investi- 
gated, like a science, this could not have been left till the 
present day to be done satisfactorily, as it has been I believe 
left. Keep some cats yourself, and do get some mesmeriser 
to attempt it. One man told me he had succeeded, but his 
experiments were most vague, as was likely from a man who 
said cats were more easily done than other animals, because 
they were so electrical !"] 

C. Darwin to C. Lyell. 

Down, December 4th [1849]. 

MY DEAR LYELL, This letter requires no answer, and I 
write from exuberance of vanity. Dana has sent me the 
Geology of the United States Expedition, and I have just 



read the Coral part. To begin with a modest speech, / am 
astonisJied at my own accuracy ! ! If I were to rewrite now my 
Coral book there is hardly a sentence I should have to alter, 
except that I ought to have attributed more effect to recent 
volcanic action in checking growth of coral. When I say all 
this I ought to add that the consequences of the theory on 
areas of subsidence are treated in a separate chapter to which 
I have not come, and in this, I suspect, we shall differ more. 
Dana talks of agreeing with my theory in most points ; I can 
find out not one in which he differs. Considering how 
infinitely more he saw of Coral Reefs than I did, this is 
wonderfully satisfactory to me. He treats me most courteously. 
There now, my vanity is pretty well satisfied. . . . 

C. Darwin to J, D. Hooker. 

Malvern, April gth, 1849. 

MY DEAR HOOKER, The very next morning after posting 
my last letter (I think on 23rd of March), I received your two 
interesting gossipaceous and geological letters ; and the latter 
I have since exchanged with Lyell for his. I will write 
higglety-pigglety just as subjects occur. I saw the Review 
in the ' Athenseum,' it was written in an ill-natured spirit ; but 
the whole virus consisted in saying that there was not novelty 
enough in your remarks for publication. No one, nowadays, 
cares for reviews. I may just mention that my Journal got 
some real good abuse, " presumption," &c. ended with saying 
that the volume appeared " made up of the scraps and rubbish 
of the author's portfolio." I most truly enter into what you 
say, and quite believe you that you care only for the review 
with respect to your father ; and that this alone would make 
you like to see extracts from your letters more properly 
noticed in this same periodical. I have considered to the 
very best of my judgment whether any portion of your present 
letters are adapted for the ' Athenaeum ' (in which I have no 

376 LIFE AT DOWN. ,ETAT. 33~45. [1849. 

interest ; the beasts not having even noticed my three geolo- 
gical volumes which I had sent to them), and I have come 
to the conclusion it is better not to send them. I feel sure, 
considering all the circumstances, that without you took pains 
and wrote with care, a condensed and finished sketch of some- 
striking feature in your travels, it is better not to send 
anything. These two letters are, moreover, rather too geolo- 
gical for the ' Athenaeum,' and almost require woodcuts. On 
the other hand, there are hardly enough details for a commu- 
nication to the Geological Society. I have not the smallest 
doubt that your facts are of the highest interest with regard to 
glacial action in the Himalaya ; but it struck both Lyell and 
myself .that your evidence ought to have been given more 
distinctly. . . . 

I have written so lately that I have nothing to say about 
myself; my health prevented me going on with a crusade 
against " mihi " and " nobis," of which you warn me of the 
dangers. I showed my paper to three or four Naturalists, and 
they all agreed with me to a certain extent : with health and 
vigour, I would not have shown a white feather, [and] with 
aid of half-a-dozen really good Naturalists, I believe something 
might have been done against the miserable and degrading 
passion of mere species naming. In your letter you wonder 
what " Ornamental Poultry " has to do with Barnacles ; but 
do not flatter yourself that I shall not yet live to finish the 
Barnacles, and then make a fool of myself on the subject of 
species, under which head ornamental Poultry are very 
interesting. . . . 

C. Darwin to C. LyelL 

The Lodge, Malvern [June, 1849]. 

... I have got your book,* and have read all the first and a 
small part of the second volume (reading is the hardest work 

* ' A Second Visit to the United States.' 



allowed here), and greatly I have been interested by it It 
makes me long to be a Yankee. E. desires me to say that 
she quite " gloated " over the truth of your remarks on reli- 
gious progress .... I delight to think how you will disgust 
some of the bigots and educational dons. As yet there has 
not been much Geology or Natural History, for which I hope 
you feel a little ashamed. Your remarks on all social subjects 
strike me as worthy of the author of the ' Principles.' And 
yet (I know it is prejudice and pride) if I had written the 
Principles, I never would have written any travels ; but I 
believe I am more jealous about the honour and glory of the 
Principles than you are yourself. . . . 

C. Darwin to C. LyelL 

September I4th, 1849. 

... I go on with my aqueous processes, and very steadily but 
slowly gain health and strength. Against all rules, I dined at 
Chevening with Lord Mahon, who did me the great honour 
of calling on me, and how he heard of me I can't guess. I 
was charmed with Lady Mahon, and any one might have been 
proud at the pieces of agreeableness which came from her 
beautiful lips with respect to you. I like old Lord Stanhope 
very much ; though he abused Geology and Zoology heartily. 
" To suppose that the Omnipotent God made a world, found it 
a failure, and broke it up, and then made it again, and again 
broke it up, as the Geologists say, is all fiddle faddle. 
Describing Species of birds and shells, &c., is all fiddle 
faddle." . . . 

I am heartily glad we shall meet at Birmingham, as I trust 
we shall, if my health will but keep up. I work now every 
day at the Cirripedia for 2^ hours, and so get on a little, but 
very slowly. I sometimes, after being a whole week employed 
and having described perhaps only two species, agree men- 
tally with Lord Stanhope, that it is all fiddle faddle ; however, 

378 LIFE AT DOWN. ^iTAT. 33-4$. [1849. 

the other day I got the curious case of a unisexual, instead of 
hermaphrodite cirripede, in which the female had the common 
cirripedial character, and in two valves of her shell had two 
little pockets, in each of which she kept a little husband ; I do 
not know of any other case where a female invariably has two 
husbands. I have one still odder fact, common to several 
species, namely, that though they are hermaphrodite, they 
have small additional, or as I shall call them, complemental 
males, one specimen itself hermaphrodite had no less than 
seven, of these complemental males attached to it. Truly the 
schemes and wonders of Nature are illimitable. But I am 
running on as badly about my cirripedia as about Geology ; it 
makes me groan to think that probably I shall never again 
have the exquisite pleasure of making out some new district, 
of evolving geological light out of some troubled dark region. 
So I must make the best of my Cirripedia. . . . 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down, October I2th, 1849. 

. . . By the way, one of the pleasantest parts of the British 
Association was my journey down to Birmingham with 
Mrs. Sabine, Mrs. Reeve, and the Colonel ; also Col. Sykes 
and Porter. Mrs. Sabine and myself agreed wonderfully on 
many points, and in none more sincerely than about you. 
We spoke about your letters from the Erebus ; and she quite 
agreed with me, that you and the author * of the description 
of the cattle hunting in the Falklands, would have made 
a capital book together ! A very nice woman she is, and so 
is her sharp and sagacious mother. . . . Birmingham was 
very flat compared to Oxford, though I had my wife with 
me. We saw a good deal of the Lyells and Homers and 
Robinsons (the President) ; but the place was dismal, and 

* Sir J. Hooker wrote the spirited the Southern Regions,' 1847, vol. ii. 
description of cattle hunting in Sir p. 245. 
J. Ross's 'Voyage of Discovery in 

1849-] WATER CURE. 379 

I was prevented, by being unwell, from going to Warwick, 
though that, Le. the party, by all accounts, was wonderfully 
inferior to Blenheim, not to say anything of that heavenly 
day at Dropmore. One gets weary of all the spouting. . . . 

You ask about my cold-water cure ; I am going on very 
well, and am certainly a little better every month, my nights 
mend much slower than my days. I have built a douche, 
and am to go on through all the winter, frost or no frost. 
My treatment now is lamp five times per week, and shallow 
bath for five minutes afterwards ; douche daily for five minutes, 
and dripping sheet daily. The treatment is wonderfully tonic, 
and I have had more better consecutive days this month 
than on any previous ones. ... I am allowed to work now 
two and a half hours daily, and I find it as much as I can do ; 
for the cold-water cure, together with three short walks, is 
curiously exhausting ; and I am actually forced to go to bed 
at eight o'clock completely tired. I steadily gain in weight, 
and eat immensely, and am never oppressed with my food. 
I have lost the involuntary twitching of the muscle, and all the 
fainting feelings, &c. black spots before eyes, &c. Dr. Gully 
thinks he shall quite cure me in six or nine months more. 

The greatest bore, which I find in the water-cure, is the 
having been compelled to give up all reading, except the news- 
papers ; for my daily two and a half hours at the Barnacles is 
fully as much as I can do of anything which occupies the 
mind ; I am consequently terribly behind in all scientific 
books. I have of late been at work at mere species de- 
scribing, which is much more difficult than I expected, and 
has much the same sort of interest as a puzzle has ; but I 
confess I often feel wearied with the work, and cannot help 
sometimes asking myself what is the good of spending a week 
or fortnight in ascertaining that certain just perceptible dif- 
ferences blend together and constitute varieties and not 
species. As long as I am on anatomy I never feel myself in 
that disgusting, horrid, cut bono, inquiring, humour. What 

380 LIFE AT DOWN. jETAT. 33-45. [l8$ I. 

miserable work, again, it is searching for priority of names. 
I have just finished two species, which possess seven generic, 
and twenty-four specific names ! My chief comfort is, that 
the work must be sometime done, and I may as well do it, as 
any one else. 

I have given up my agitation against mihi and nobis; my 
paper is too long to send to you, so you must see it, if you 
care to do so, on your return. By-the-way, you say in your 
letter that you care more for my species work than for the 
Barnacles ; now this is too bad of you, for I declare your 
decided approval of my plain Barnacle work over theoretic 
species work, had very great influence in deciding me to go 
on with the former, and defer my species paper. . . . 

[The following letter refers to the death of his little 
daughter, which took place at Malvern on April 24, 1851 :] 

C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

Down, April 2gth [1851]. 

MY DEAR Fox, I do not suppose you will have heard of 
our bitter and cruel loss. Poor dear little Annie, when going 
on very well at Malvern, was taken with a vomiting attack, 
which was at first thought of the smallest importance ; but it 
rapidly assumed the form of a low and dreadful fever, which 
carried her off in ten days. Thank God, she suffered hardly 
at all, and expired as tranquilly as a little angel. Our only 
consolation is that she passed a short, though joyous life. 
She was my favourite child ; her cordiality, openness, buoyant 
joyousness and strong affections made her most loveable. 
Poor dear little soul. Well, it is all over. . . . 

C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

Down, March 7th [1852]. 

MY DEAR Fox, It is indeed an age since we have had any 
communication, and very glad I was to receive your note. 

iSS 2 -] EDUCATION. 381 

Our long silence occurred to me a few weeks since, and I 
had then thought of writing, but was idle. I congratulate and 
condole with you on your tenth child ; but please to observe 
when I have a tenth, send only condolences to me. We have 
now seven children, all well, thank God, as well as their mother ; 
of these seven, five are boys ; and my father used to say that 
it was certain that a boy gave as much trouble as three girls ; 
so that bond fide we have seventeen children. It makes me 
sick whenever I think of professions ; all seem hopelessly- 
bad, and as yet I cannot see a ray of light. I should very- 
much like to talk over this (by the way, my three bug- 
bears are Californian and Australian gold, beggaring me by 
making my money on mortgage worth nothing ; the French 
coming by the Westerham and Sevenoaks roads, and there- 
fore enclosing Down ; and thirdly, professions for my boys), 
and I should like to talk about education, on which you ask 
me what we are doing. No one can more truly despise the 
old stereotyped stupid classical education than I do ; but 
yet I have not had courage to break through the trammels.. 
After many doubts we have just sent our eldest boy to 
Rugby, where for his age he has been very well placed. . . 
I honour, admire, and envy you for educating your boys at 
home. What on earth shall you do with your boys ? Towards 
the end of this month we go to see W. at Rugby, and 
thence for five or six days to Susan * at Shrewsbury ; I then 
return home to look after the babies, and E. goes to 
F. Wedgwood's of Etruria for a week. Very many thanks 
for your most kind and large invitation to Delamere, but I 
fear we can hardly compass it. I dread going anywhere, on 
account of my stomach so easily failing under any excite- 
ment. I rarely even now go to London ; not that I am at 
all worse, perhaps rather better, and lead a very comfortable 
life with my three hours of daily work, but it is the life of 
a hermit. My nights are always bad, and that stops my 

* His sister. 

382 LIFE AT DOWN. /ETAT. 33-45. [1852. 

becoming vigorous. You ask about water-cure. I take at 
intervals of two or three months, five or six weeks of mode- 
rately severe treatment, and always with good effect. Do 
you come here, I pray and beg whenever you can find time ; 
you cannot tell how much pleasure it would give me and E. 
I have finished the 1st vol. for the Ray Society of Peduncula- 
ted Cirripedes, which, as I think you are a member, you will 
soon get. Read what I describe on the sexes of Ibla and 
Scalpellum. I am now at work on the Sessile Cirripedes, and 
am wonderfully tired of my job : a man to be a systematic 
naturalist ought to work at least -eight hours per day. You 
saw through me, when you said that I must have wished to 
have seen the effects of the [word illegible] Debacle, for I was 
saying a week ago to E., that had I been as I was in old days, 
I would have been certainly off that hour. You ask after 
Erasmus ; he is much as usual, and constantly more or less 
unwell. Susan * is much better, and very flourishing and 
happy. Catherine* is at Rome, and has enjoyed it in a 
degree that is quite astonishing to my old dry bones. And 
now I think I have told you enough, and more than enough 
about the house of Darwin ; so my dear old friend, farewell. 
What pleasant times we had in drinking coffee in your rooms 
at Christ's College, and think of the glories of Crux major.f 
Ah, in those days there were no professions for sons, no ill- 
health to fear for them, no Californian gold, no French 
invasions. How paramount the future is to the present when 
one is surrounded by children. My dread is hereditary ill- 
health. Even death is better for them. 

My dear Fox, your sincere friend, 


P.S. Susan has lately been working in a way which I 
think truly heroic about the scandalous violation of the Act 
against children climbing chimneys. We have set up a 

* His sisters. f The beetle Panagceus crux major. 

1852.] CHIMNEY SWEEPS. 383 

little Society in Shrewsbury to prosecute those who break the 
law. It is all Susan's doing. She has had very nice letters 
from Lord Shaftesbury and the Duke of Sutherland, but the 
brutal Shropshire squires are as hard as stones to move. The 
Act out of London seems most commonly violated. It 
makes one shudder to fancy one of one's own children at 
seven years old being forced up a chimney to say nothing 
of the consequent loathsome disease and ulcerated limbs, 
and utter moral degradation. If you think strongly on this 
subject, do make some enquiries ; add to your many good 
works, this other one, and try to stir up the magistrates. 
There are several people making a stir in different parts of 
England on this subject. It is not very likely that you 
would wish for such, but I could send you some essays and 
information if you so liked, either for yourself or to give 

C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

Down [October 24th, 1852]. 

MY DEAR FOX, I received your long and most welcome 
letter this morning, and will answer it this evening, as I 
shall be very busy with an artist, drawing Cirripedia, and 
much overworked for the next fortnight. But first you deserve 
to be well abused and pray consider yourself well abused 
for thinking or writing that I could for one minute be bored 
by any amount of detail about yourself and belongings. It is 
just what I like hearing ; believe me that I often think of old 
days spent with you, and sometimes can hardly believe what 
a jolly careless individual one was in those old days. A bright 
autumn evening often brings to mind some shooting excursion 
from Osmaston. I do indeed regret that we live so far off 
each other, and that I am so little locomotive. I have been un- 
usually well of late (no water-cure), but I do not find that I 
can stand any change better than formerly. . . The other day 
I went to London and back, and the fatigue, though so trifling, 

384 LIFE AT DOWN. ,ETAT. 33-45. [1852. 

brought on my bad form of vomiting. I grieve to hear that 
your chest has been ailing, and most sincerely do I hope that 
it is only the muscles ; how frequently the voice fails with the 
clergy. I can well understand your reluctance to break up 
your large and happy party and go abroad ; but your life is 
very valuable, so you ought to be very cautious in good time. 
You ask about all of us, now five boys (oh ! the professions ; 
oh ! the gold ; and oh ! the French these three oh's all rank 
as dreadful bugbears) and two girls . . . but another and 
the worst of my bugbears is hereditary weakness. All my 
sisters are well except Mrs. Parker, who is much out of health ; 
and so is Erasmus at his poor average : he has lately moved 
into Queen Anne Street. I had heard of the intended 
marriage * of your sister Frances. I believe I have seen her 
since, but my memory takes me back some twenty-five years, 
when she was lying down. I remember well the delightful 
expression of her countenance. I most sincerely wish her all 

I see I have not answered half your queries. We like very 
well all that we have seen and heard of Rugby, and have 
never repented of sending [W.] there. I feel sure schools have 
greatly improved since our days ; but I hate schools and the 
whole system of breaking through the affections of the family 
by separating the boys so early in life ; but I see no help, 
and dare not run the risk of a youth being exposed to the 
temptations of the world without having undergone the milder 
ordeal of a great school. 

I sec you even ask after our pears. We have had lots of 
Beurrees d'Aremberg, Winter Nelis, Marie Louise, and " Nc 
plus Ultra," but all off the wall ; the standard dwarfs have 
borne a few, but I have no room for more trees, so their 
names would be useless to me. You really must make a 
holiday and pay us a visit sometime ; nowhere could you be 
more heartily welcome. I am at work at the second volume 
* To the Rev. J. Hughes. 



of the Cirripedia, of which creatures I am wonderfully tired. 
I hate a Barnacle as no man ever did before, not even a sailor 
in a slow-sailing ship. My first volume is out ; the only part 
worth looking at is on the sexes of Ibla and Scalpellum. 
I hope by next summer to have done with my tedious work. 
Farewell, do come whenever you can possibly manage it. 

I cannot but hope that the carbuncle may possibly do you 
good ; I have heard of all sorts of weaknesses disappearing 
after a carbuncle. I suppose the pain is dreadful. I agree 
most entirely, what a blessed discovery is chloroform. When 
one thinks of one's children, it makes quite a little difference 
in one's happiness. The other day I had five grinders (two 
by the elevator) out at a sitting under this wonderful 
substance, and felt hardly anything. 

My dear old friend, yours very affectionately, 


C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

Down, January 2gth [1853]. 

MY DEAR FOX, Your last account some months ago was 
so little satisfactory that I have often been thinking of you, 
and should be really obliged if you would give me a few 
lines, and tell me how your voice and chest are. I most 
sincerely hope that your report will be good. . . . Our second 
lad has a strong mechanical turn, and we think of making 
him an engineer. I shall try and find out for him some 
less classical school, perhaps Bruce Castle. I certainly should 
like to see more diversity in education than there is in any 
ordinary school no exercising of the observing or reason- 
ing faculties, no general knowledge acquired I must think 
it a wretched system. On the other hand, a boy who has 
learnt to stick at Latin and conquer its difficulties, ought to 
be able to stick at any labour. I should always be glad to 
hear anything about schools or education from you. I am at 
my old, never-ending subject, but trust I shall really go to 

386 LIFE AT DOWN. yETAT. 33-45. [1853. 

press in a few months with my second volume on Cirripedes. 
I have been much pleased by finding some odd facts in 
my first volume believed by Owen and a few others, whose 
good opinion I regard as final. . . . Do write pretty soon, and 
tell me all you can about yourself and family ; and I trust 
your report of yourself may be much better than your last. 

... I have been very little in London of late, and have 
not seen Lyell since his return from America ; how lucky he 
was to exhume with his own hand parts of three skeletons 
of reptiles out of the Carboniferous strata, and out of the 
inside of a fossil tree, which had been hollow within. 

Farewell, my dear Fox, yours affectionately, 


C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

13 Sea Houses, Eastbourne, 

July [i 5th? 1853]. 

MY DEAR Fox, Here we are in a state of profound idle- 
ness, which to me is a luxury ; and we should all, I believe, 
have been in a state of high enjoyment, had it not been for 
the detestable cold gales and much rain, which always gives 
much ennui to children away from their homes. I received 
your letter of I3th June, when working like a slave with 
Mr. Sowerby at drawing for my second volume, and so put ofiT 
answering it till when I knew I should be at leisure. I was 
extremely glad to get your letter. I had intended a couple of 
months ago sending you a savage or supplicating jobation to 
know how you were, when I met Sir P. Egerton, who told me 
you were well, and, as usual, expressed his admiration of your 
doings, especially your farming, and the number of animals, 
including children, which you kept on your land. Eleven 
children, ave Maria ! it is a serious look-out for you. Indeed, 
I look at my five boys as something awful, and hate the very 
thoughts of professions, &c. If one could insure moderate 

1853.] SCHOOLS. 387 

health for them it would not signify so much, for I cannot but 
hope, with the enormous emigration, professions will some- 
what improve. But my bugbear is hereditary weakness. I 
particularly like to hear all that you can say about education, 
and you deserve to be scolded for saying " you did not mean 
to torment me with a long yarn." You ask about Rugby. I 
like it very well, on the same principle as my neighbour, 
Sir J. Lubbock, likes Eton, viz., that it is not worse than any 
other school ; the expense, -with all, &c., &c., including some 
clothes, travelling expences, &c., is from ;iio to 120 per 
annum. I do not think schools are so wicked as they were, 
and far more industrious. The boys, I think, live too secluded 
in their separate studies ; and I doubt whether they will get 
so much knowledge of character as boys used to do ; and this, 
in my opinion, is the one good of public schools over small 
schools. I should think the only superiority of a small school 
over home was forced regularity in their work, which your 
boys perhaps get at your home, but which I do not believe 
my boys would get at my home. Otherwise, it is quite 
lamentable sending boys so early in life from their home. 

. . . To return to schools. My main objection to them, 
as places of education, is the enormous proportion of time 
spent over classics. I fancy (though perhaps it is only fancy) 
that I can perceive the ill and contracting effect on my eldest 
boy's mind, in checking interest in anything in which reasoning 
and observation come into play. Mere memory seems to be 
worked. I shall certainly look out for some school with more 
diversified studies for my younger boys. I was talking lately 
to the Dean of Hereford, who takes most strongly this view ; 
and he tells me that there is a school at Hereford commencing 
on this plan ; and that Dr. Kennedy at Shrewsbury is going 
to begin vigorously to modify that school 

I am extremely glad to hear that you approved of my cirri- 
pedial volume. I have spent an almost ridiculous amount of 
labour on the subject, and certainly would never have under- 

VOL. I. 2 D 

388 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1853. 

taken it had I foreseen what a job it was. I hope to have 
finished by the end of the year. Do write again before a very 
long time ; it is a real pleasure to me to hear from you. 
Farewell, with my wife's kindest remembrances to yourself 
and Mrs. Fox. 

My dear old friend, yours affectionately, 


C. Danvin to W. D. Fox. 

Down, August loth [1853]. 

MY DEAR Fox, I thank you sincerely for writing to me so 
soon after your most heavy misfortunes. Your letter affected 
me much. We both most truly sympathise with you and 
Mrs. Fox. We too lost, as you may remember, not so very 
long ago, a most dear child, of whom I can hardly yet bear 
to think tranquilly ; yet, as you must know from your own 
most painful experience, time softens and deadens, in a 
manner truly wonderful, one's feelings and regrets. At first 
it is indeed bitter. I can only hope that your health and 
that of poor Mrs. Fox may be preserved, and that time may 
do its work softly, and bring you all together, once again, as 
the happy family, which, as 1 can well believe, you so 
lately formed. 

My dear Fox, your affectionate friend, 


[The following letter refers to the Royal Society's Medal, 
which was awarded to him in November, 1853 :] 

C. Dam' in to J. D. Hooker. 

Down, November 5th [1853]. 

MY DEAR HOOKER, Amongst my letters received this 
morning, I opened first one from Colonel Sabine ; the contents 
certainly surprised me very much, but, though the letter was 

1 85 3.] ROYAL SOCIETY'S MEDAL. 389 

a very kind one, somehow, I cared very little indeed for the 
announcement it contained. I then opened yours, and such 
is the effect of warmth, friendship, and kindness from one 
that is loved, that the very same fact, told as you told it, 
made me glow with pleasure till my very heart throbbed. 
Believe me, I shall not soon forget the pleasure of your letter. 
Such hearty, affectionate sympathy is worth more than all 
the medals that ever were or will be coined. Again, my dear 
Hooker, I thank you. I hope Lindley * will never hear that he 
was a competitor against me ; for really it is almost ridiculous 
(of course you would never repeat that I said this, for it 
would be thought by others, though not, I believe, by you, 
to be affectation) his not having the medal long before me ; 
I must feel sure that you did quite right to propose him ; and 
what a good, dear, kind fellow you are, nevertheless, to rejoice 
in this honour being bestowed on me. 

What pleasure I have felt on the occasion, I owe almost 
entirely to you. 

Farewell, my dear Hooker, yours affectionately, 


* John Lindley (b. 1799, d. 1865) best known being perhaps his 

was the son of a nurseryman near ' Vegetable Kingdom,' published in 

Norwich, through whose failure in 1846. His influence in helping to 

business he was thrown at the age introduce the natural system of 

of twenty on his own resources, classification was considerable and 

He was befriended by Sir W. he brought " all the weight of his 

Hooker, and employed as assistant teaching and all the force of his 

librarian by Sir J. Banks. He controversial powers to support it," 

seems to have had enormous ca- as against the Linnean system uni- 

pacity of work, and is said to have versally taught in the earlier part 

translated Richard's 'Analyse du of his career. Sachs points out 

Fruit' at one sitting of two days (Geschichte der Botanik, 1875, p. 

and three nights. He became As- 161), that though Lindley adopted 

sistant-Secretary to the Horticul- in the main a sound classification 

tural Society, and in 1829 was of plants, he only did so by aban- 

appointed Professor of Botany at doning his own theoretical principle 

University College, a post which that the physiological importance 

he held for upwards of thirty years, of an organ is a measure of its 

His writings are numerous : the classificatory value. 

2 D 2 

390 LIFE AT bows. /ttAT. 33-45. [1854. 

P.S. You may believe what a surprise it was, for I had 
never heard that the medals could be given except for papers 
in the ' Transactions/ All this will make me work with better 
heart at finishing the second volume. 

C. Danvin to C. Lyell. 

Down, February i8th [1854]. 

MY DEAR LYELL, I should have written before, had it not 
seemed doubtful whether you would go on to Teneriffe, but 
now I am extremely glad to hear your further progress is 
certain ; not that I have much of any sort to say, as you may 
well believe when you hear that I have only once been in 
London since you started. I was particularly glad to see, two 
days since, your letter to Mr. Horner, with its geological news ; 
how fortunate for you that your knees are recovered. I am 
astonished at what you say of the beauty, though I had 
fancied it great. It really makes me quite envious to think 
of your clambering up and down those steep valleys. And 
what a pleasant party on your return from your expeditions. 
I often think of the delight which I felt when examining vol- 
canic islands, and I can remember even particular rocks which 
I struck, and the smell of the hot, black, scoriaccous cliffs ; 
but of those liot smells you do not seem to have had much. 
I do quite envy you. How I should like to be with you, and 
speculate on the deep and narrow valleys. 

How very singular the fact is which you mention about the 
inclination of the strata being greater round the circumference 
than in the middle of the island ; do you suppose the eleva- 
tion has had the form of a flat dome ? I remember in the 
Cordillera being often struck with the greater abruptness of 
the strata in the low extreme outermost ranges, compared 
with the great mass of inner mountains. I dare say you will 
have thought of measuring exactly the width of any dikes 
at the top and bottom of any great cliff (which was done by 

18 54-] GEOLOGY. &) t 

Mr. Searle [?] at St. Helena), for it has often struck me as very 
odd that the cracks did not die out oftener upwards. I can 
think of hardly any news to tell you, as I have seen no one 
since being in London, when I was delighted to see Forbes 
looking so well, quite big and burly. I saw at the Museum 
some of the surprisingly rich gold ore from North Wales. 
Ramsay also told me that he has lately turned a good deal of 
New Red Sandstone into Permian, together with the Laby- 
rinthodon. No doubt you see newspapers, and know that 
E. de Beaumont is perpetual Secretary, and will, I suppose, 
be more powerful than ever ; and Le Verrier has Arago's 
place in the Observatory. There was a meeting lately at the 
Geological Society, at which Prestwich (judging from what 
R. Jones told me) brought forward your exact theory, viz. 
that the whole red clay and flints over the chalk plateau 
hereabouts is the residuum from the slow dissolution of the 
chalk ! 

As regards ourselves, we have no news, and are all well. 
The Hookers, sometime ago, stayed a fortnight with us, and, 
to our extreme delight, Henslow came down, and was most 
quiet and comfortable here. It does one good to see so com- 
posed, benevolent, and intellectual a countenance. There 
have been great fears that his heart is affected ; but, I hope to 
God, without foundation. Hooker's book * is out, and most 
beautifully got up. He has honoured me beyond measure by 
dedicating it to me ! As for myself, I am got to the page 1 1 2 
of the Barnacles, and that is the sum total of my history. 
By-the-way, as you care so much about North America, I 
may mention that I had a long letter from a ship-mate in 
Australia, who says the Colony is getting decidedly repub- 
lican from the influx of Americans, and that all the great and 
novel schemes for working the gold are planned and executed 
by these men. What a go-a-head nation it is! Give my 
kindest remembrances to Lady Lyell, and to Mrs. Bunbury, 
* Sir J. Hooker's ' Himalayan Journal.' 

UFE AT DOWN. .KTAT. 33-45. t l8 54- 

and to Bunbury. I most heartily wish that the Canaries may 
be ten times as interesting as Madeira, and that everything 
may go on most prosperously with your whole part}-. 
My dear Lyell, 

Yours most truly and affectionately, 


C. Darivin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down, March ist [1854]. 

MY DEAR HOOKER, I finished yesterday evening the first 
volume, and I very sincerely congratulate you on having 
produced a first-class book * a book which certainly will last. 
I cannot doubt that it w r ill take its place as a standard, not so 
much because it contains real solid matter, but that it gives 
a picture of the whole country. One can feel that one 
has seen it (and desperately uncomfortable I felt in going 
over some of the bridges and steep slopes), and one realises 
all the great Physical features. You have in truth reason to 
be proud ; consider how few travellers there have been with 
a profound knowledge of one subject, and who could in 
addition make a map (which, by-the-way, is one of the most 
distinct ones I ever looked at, wherefore blessings alight on 
your head), and study geology and meteorology ! I thought 
I knew you very well, but I had not the least idea that 
your Travels were your hobby ; but I am heartily glad of it, 
for I feel sure that the time will never come when you and 
Mrs. Hooker will not be proud to look back at the labour 
bestowed on these beautiful volumes. 

Your letter, received this morning, has interested me 
extremely, and I thank you sincerely for telling me your old 
thoughts and aspirations. All that you say makes me 
even more deeply gratified by the Dedication ; but you, 
bad man, do you remember asking me how I thought Lyell 
would like the work to be dedicated to him ? I remember 
* ' Himalayan Journal.' 


how strongly I answered, and I presume you wanted to know 
what I should feel ; whoever would have dreamed of your 
being so crafty ? I am glad you have shown a little bit 
of ambition about your Journal, for you must know that I 
have often abused you for not caring more about fame, 
though, at the same time, I must confess, I have envied 
and honoured you for being so free (too free, as I have always 
thought) of this " last infirmity of, &c." Do not say, " there 
never was a past hitherto to me the phantom was always 
in view," for you will soon find other phantoms in view. 
How well I know this feeling, and did formerly still more 
vividly ; but I think my stomach has much deadened my 
former pure enthusiasm for science and knowledge. 

I am writing an unconscionably long letter, but I must 
return to the Journals, about which I have hardly said 
anything in detail. Imprimis, the illustrations and maps 
appear to me the best I have ever seen ; the style seems 
to me everywhere perfectly clear (how rare a virtue), and 
some passages really eloquent. How excellently you have 
described the upper valleys, and how detestable their 
climate ; I felt quite anxious on the slopes of Kinchin that 
dreadful snowy night Nothing has astonished me more 
than your physical strength ; and all those devilish bridges ! 
Well, thank goodness ! it is not very likely that I shall ever 
go to the Himalaya. Much in a scientific point of view 
has interested me, especially all about those wonderful 
moraines. I certainly think I quite realise the valleys, more 
vividly perhaps from having seen the valleys of Tahiti. 
I cannot doubt that the Himalaya owe almost all their 
contour to running water, and that they have been subjected 
to such action longer than any mountains (as yet described) 
in the world. What a contrast with the Andes ! 

Perhaps you would like to hear the very little that I can say 
per contra, and this only applied to the beginning, in which 
(as it struck me) there was not flow enough till you get to 

394 LIFE AT DOWN. ^ETAT. 33-45. [1854. 

Mirzapore on the Ganges (but the Thugs were most interesting), 
where the stream seemed to carry you on more equably with 
longer sentences and longer facts and discussions, &c. In 
another edition (and I am delighted to hear that Murray has 
sold all off), I would consider whether this part could not be 
condensed. Even if the meteorology was put in foot-notes, I 
think it would be an improvement. All the world is against 
me, but it makes me very unhappy to see the Latin names all 
in Italics, and all mingled with English names in Roman type ; 
but I must bear this burden, for all men of Science seem to 
think it would corrupt the Latin to dress it up in the same 
type as poor old English. Well, I am very proud of my book ; 
but there is one bore, that I do not much like asking people 
whether they have seen it, and how they like it, for I feel so 
much identified with it, that such questions become rather 
personal. Hence, I cannot tell you the opinion of others. 
You will have seen a fairly good review in the ' Athenaeum.' 

What capital news from Tasmania : it really is a very 
remarkable and creditable fact to the Colony.* I am always 
building veritable castles in the air about emigrating, and 
Tasmania has been my head-quarters of late ; so that I feel 
very proud of my adopted country : it is really a very singular 
and delightful fact, contrasted with the slight appreciation of 
science in the old country. I thank you heartily for your 
letter this morning, and for all the gratification your Dedi- 
cation has given me ; I could not help thinking how much 

would despise you for not having dedicated it to some 

great man, who would have done you and it some good in the 
eyes of the world. Ah, my dear Hooker, you were very soft 
on this head, and justify what I say about not caring enough 
for your own fame. I wish I was in every way more worthy 
of your good opinion. Farewell. How pleasantly Mrs. Hooker 
and you must rest from one of your many labours. . . . 

* This refers to an unsolicited towards the expenses' of Sir J. 
grant by the Colonial Government Hooker's ' Flora of Tasmania.' 

1 854.] CIRRIPEDES. 395 

Again farewell : I have written a wonderfully long letter. 
Adios, and God bless you. 

My dear Hooker, ever yours, 


P.S. I have just looked over my rambling letter ; I see 
that I have not at all expressed my strong admiration at the 
amount of scientific work, in so many branches, which you 
have effected. It is really grand. You have a right to rest on 
your oars ; or even to say, if it so pleases you, that " your 
meridian is past ;" but well assured do I feel that the day of 
your reputation and general recognition has only just begun 
to dawn. 

[In September, 1854, his Cirripede work was practically 
finished, and he wrote to Sir J. Hooker : 

" I have been frittering away my time for the last several 
weeks in a wearisome manner, partly idleness, and odds and 
ends, and sending ten thousand Barnacles out of the house 
all over the world. But I shall now in a day or two begin to 
look over my old notes on species. What a deal I shall have 
to discuss with you ; I shall have to look sharp that I do not 
* progress ' into one of the greatest bores in life, to the few like 
you with lots of knowledge."] 


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