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Including an Autobiographical Chapter 








a^ - EROyO, UTAH 


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 writ- 
ten 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 chrono- 
logical order an impossibility. It was his habit to 
work more or less simultaneously at several subjects. 
Experimental work was often carried on as a refresh- 
ment 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 

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 fre- 
quent evidence of having been written when he was 
tired or hurried, and they bear the marks of this cir- 
cumstance. In writing to a friend, or to one of his 
family, he frequentl}^ omitted the articles : these have 
been inserted without the usual indications, except in 
a few instances {e. g, vol. i. p. 177), where it is of spe- 
cial interest to preserve intact the hurried character 
of the letter. Other small words, such as of^ to, &iQ,, 
have been inserted usually within brackets. I have 
not followed the originals as regards the spelling of 
names, the use of capitals, or in the matter of punctu- 
ation. My father underlined many words in his let- 
ters ; these have not always been given in italics, — 
a rendering which would unfairly exaggerate their 

The Diary or Pocket-book, from which quotations 
occur in the following pages, has been of value as sup- 
plying 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 impossi- 
ble 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 re- 
ceived, and when his slender stock of files ('' spits *' as 
he called them) was exhausted, he would burn the let- 
ters of several years, in order that he might make use 


of the liberated " spits." Tliis 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 ac- 
cessible form. 

I have attempted to give, in Chapter III., some ac- 
count of 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 hab- 
its and methods. 

I have received much help from my friends in the 
course of my work. To some I am indebted for rem- 
iniscences of my father, to others for information, crit- 
icisms, and advice. To all these kind coadjutors I 
gladly acknowledge my indebtedness. The names of 
some occur in connection with their contributions, but 
I do not name those to whom I am indebted for criti- 
cisms 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 collection of letters, and I 
should wish to add my acknowledgment of the gen- 
erosity 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 cour- 


tesy of the publishers of the ' Century Magazine * who 
have freely given me the use of their illustrations. To 
Messrs. Maull and Fox and Messrs. Elliott and Frv I 
am also indebted for their kindness in allowing me the 
use of reproductions of their photographs. 

Francis Darwin. 


October, 1887. 



I. — The Darwin Family i 

11. — Autobiography ......... 25 

III. — Reminiscences 87 


IV. — Cambridge Life — 1828-1831 139 

V. — The Appointment to the * Beagle' — 183 1 . . . 160 

VI.— The Voyage — 1831-1836 igi 

VII. — London and Cambridge — 1836-1842 243 

VIII. — Religion 274 

IX. — Life at Down —1842-1854 . . . . . • . . 287 
X. — The Growth of the 'Origin of Species* . . . 363 
XI. — The Growth of the 'Origin of Species' — Letters — 

1843-1856 380 

XII. — The Unfinished Book — May 1856-JuNE 1858 . . . 426 
XIII. — The Writing of the 'Origin of Species' — June 18, 

1858-N0V. 1859 472 

XIV. — Professor Huxley on the Reception of the 'Origin 

of Species' 533 




Charles Darwin in 1874 (?). From the ' Century Magazine.' 

The photograph by Captain L. Darwin, R. E. . Frontispiece. 
The House at Down. From the 'Century Magazine' Face p. 87 
The Study at Down. From the 'Century Magazine' . . loi 
The Beagle laid ashore i6o 






The earliest records of the family show the Darwins to 
have been substantial yeomen residing on the northern bor- 
ders 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 3^. 4^. towards the settyngeup 
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 

* We owe a knowledge of these earlier members of the family to re- 
jearches amongst the wills at Lincoln, made by the well-known genealo- 
gist, Colonel Chester. 


described as " gentleman/' appears to have been a successful 
man. Whilst retaining his ancestral land at Marton, he ac- 
quired through his wife and by purchase an estate at Cleat- 
ham, 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 w^here the " Old 
Hall '* once stood, and a field is still locally known as the 
*' 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 16 13 
by James I. to the post of Yeoman of the Royal Armoury of 
Greenwich. The office appears to have been worth only £3^ 
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 Cove- 
nant, 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 

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 
member of a good Staffordshire family. This lady inheritec 
from the family of Lassells, or Lascelles, the manor and hal 
of Elston, near Newark, which has remained ever since in th( 


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 afterwards 
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, of Elston was military secretary to 
Monk, Duke of Albemarle, during the Civil Wars. A large volume of 
account books, countersigned in many places by Monk, are now in the 
possession of my cousin Francis Darwin. The accounts might possibly 
prove of interest to the antiquarian or historian. A portrait of Captain 
Lassells in armour, although used at one time as an archery-target by some 
small boys of our name, was not irretrievably ruined. 

f What follows is quoted from Charles Darwin's biography of his grand- 
father, forming the preliminary notice to Ernst Krause's interesting essay. 
If 'Erasmus Darwin,* London, 1879, P- 4* ? 


" 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, j 
succeeded to the estate of Elston, and died there at the age f 
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 caligraphy 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, inherited Elston, and | 
transmitted it to his granddaughter, the late Mrs. Darwin, 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 Darwin 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 Sacheverel Darwin, 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 
Erasmus ; but in his features there is no traceable resem- 
blance to those of his grandfather. Nor, it appears, had 








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Erasmus the love of exercise and of field-sports, so character- 
istic of Charles Darwin as a young man, though he had, like 
his grandson, an indomitable love of hard mental work. Be- 
nevolence 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 imagina- 
tion " of which he speaks as strongly characteristic of Eras- 
mus, and as leading "to his overpowering tendency to theo- 
rise and generalise.*' This tendency, in the case of Charles 
Darwin, was fully kept in check by the determination 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 : * " Throughout 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 

On the whole, however, it seems to me that we do not 
know enough of the essential personal tone of Erasmus Dar- 
win's character to attempt more than a superficial compari- 
son ; and I am left with an impression that, in spite of many 
resemblances, the two men were of a different type. It has 
been shown that Miss Seward. and Mrs. Schimmelpenninck 
have misrepresented Erasmus Darwin's character.! It is, 
however, extremely probable that the faults which they exag- 
gerate 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. 

•56 i 

Life of Erasmus Darwin,' p. 68. f Ibid., pp. 77, 79, &c, 


The sons of Erasmus Darwin inherited in some degree his 
intellectual tastes, for Charles Darwin writes of them as fol- 
lows : 

** 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 
inherited 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 tiaie, 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 clas- 
sical 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 ^^sculapian Society 
awarded him its first gold medal for an experimental inquiry 
on pus and mucus. Notices of him appeared in various jour- 
nals ; 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 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 
aad, however, his own peculiar tastes, viz., genealogy, the col- 


lecting of coins, and statistics. When a boy he counted all 
the houses in the city of Lichfield, and found out the num- 
ber 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 ;^2o, saying, 'Let 
me know when you want more, and I will send it you.' His 
uncle, the rector of Elston, afterwards also sent him ;^2o, and 
this was the sole pecuniary aid J 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, 

* I owe this information to the kindness of Professor Rauwenhoff, Di-. 
rector of the Archives at Leyden. He quotes from the catalogue of doc- 
tors that ** Robertus Waring Darwin, Anglo-britannus," defended (Feb. 
26, 1785) in the Senate a Dissertation on the coloured images seen after 
looking at a bright object, and " Medicinae Doctor creatus est a clar. Para- 
dijs.*' The archives of Leyden University are so complete that Professor 
Rauwenhoff is able to tell me that my grandfather lived together with a 
certain **Petrus Crompton, Anglus," in lodgings in the Apothekersdijk. 
Dr. Darwin's Leyden dissertation was published in the * Philosophical 
Transactions,' and my father used to say that the work was in fact due to 
Erasmus Darwin. — F. D. 

\ * Life of Erasmus Darwin,' p. 85. 

t See Errata. 


Robert Waring Darwin married (April i8, 1796) Susannah, 
the daughter of his father's friend, Josiah Wedgwood, of 
Etruria, then in her thirty-second year. We have a miniature 
3f her, with a remarkably sweet and happy face, bearing some 
resemblance to the portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds of her 
■ather ; a countenance expressive of the gentle and sympathetic 
lature which Miss Meteyard ascribes to her.* She died July 
[5, 181 7, thirty-two years before her husband, whose death 
occurred on November 13, 1848. Dr. Darwin lived before 
lis marriage for two or three years on St. John's Hill ; after- 
»\'ards at the Crescent, where his eldest daughter Marianne 
vas born ; lastly at the " Mount,'* in the part of Shrewsbury 
cnown as Frankwell, where the other children were born, 
rhis house was built by Dr. Darwin about 1800, it is now in 
:he possession of Mr. Spencer Phillips, and has undergone 
3ut little alteration. It is a large, plain, square, red-brick 
louse, of which the most attractive feature is the pretty 
^reen-house, opening out of the morning-room. 

The house is charmingly placed, on the top of a steep bank 
eading down to the Severn. The terraced bank is traversed 
)y a long walk, leading from end to end, still called "the 
Doctor's Walk." At one point in this walk grows a Spanish 
:hestnut, the branches of which bend back parallel to them- 
jelves in a curious manner, and this was Charles Darwin's 
■avourite tree as a boy, where he and his sister Catherine had 
iach their special seat. 

The Doctor took a great pleasure in his garden, planting 
t with ornamental trees and shrubs, and being especially suc- 
:essful in fruit-trees ; and this love of plants was, I think, the 
)nly taste kindred to natural history which he possessed. Of 
he *^ Mount pigeons," which Miss Meteyard describes as illus- 
rating Dr. Darwin's natural-history taste, I have not been 
ible to hear from those most capable of knowing. Miss 
VEeteyard's account of him is not quite accurate in a few 
)oints. For instance, it is incorrect to describe Dr. Darwin 

* * A Group of Englishmen,' by Miss Meteyard, 1871. 



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 din- 
ner, as easily as other men do a partridge.''* In the matter j 
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 re- 
spect for his father's memory. His recollection of everything 
that was connected with him was peculiarly distinct, and he 
spoke of him frequently; generally prefacing an anecdote 
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 unlim- 
ited 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 
dispassionately, but anything his father had said was received 
with almost implicit faith. His daughter Mrs. Litchfield re 
members him saying that he hoped none of his sons woul 
ever believe anything because he said it, unless they wer 
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 i86 
left on the mind of his daughter who accompanied him 
strong impression of his love for his old home. The the 
tenant of the Mount showed them over the house, &c., an 
with mistaken hospitality remained with the party during th 
whole visit. As they were leaving, Charles Darwin said, wit 


A Group of Englishmen,' p. 263. 


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 de- 
scribes 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 remembrance left a deep 
sense of peace and gratitude. 

What follows was added by Charles Darwin to his auto- 
biographical * 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 observation 
and his sympathy, neither of which have I ever seen exceeded 
or even equalled. His sympathy was not only with the dis- 
tresses 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 
;^i 0,000, but that he was unable to give any legal security. 
My father heard his reasons for believing that he could ulti- 
mately repay the money, and from [his] intuitive perception 


of character felt sure that he was to be trusted. So he ad- 
vanced 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 
remarkable, 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 hina-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 
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 to- 
gether for between twenty and thirty years, and then 
hated each other bitterly ; this he attributed to their hav- 
ing lost a common bond in their young children having 
grown up. 

" But the most remarkable power which my father pos- 

DR. R. W. DARWIN. 1 3 

sessed 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 
ahnost supernatural. 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 Shrewsbury, 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 suddenly 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 ;^2o, which was immedi- 
ately done, as my father felt certain that the story was a true 
Dne. As soon as a letter could arrive from Ireland, one came 
tfsrith the most profuse thanks, and enclosing, as he said, a 
p^2o Bank of England note, but no note was enclosed. I 
isked my father whether this did not stagger him, but he an- 
swered 'not in the least.' On the next day another letter 
:ame with many apologies for having forgotten (like a true 
[rishman) to put the note into his letter of the day before. 
. . [A gentleman] brought his nephew, who was insane but 
luite gentle, to my father ; and the young man's insanity led 
lim to accuse himself of all the crimes under heaven. When 
ny father afterwards talked over the matter with the uncle, 
le said, * I am sure that your nephew is really guilty of . . . 
L heinous crime.' Whereupon [the gentleman] said, ' Good 
jod. Dr. Darwin, who told you ; we thought that no human 
)eing knew the fact except ourselves ! ' My father told me 
he story many years after the event, and I asked him how 
le 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, afterwards the first Marquis 
of Lansdowne, was famous (as Macaulay somewhere remarks) 
for his knowledge of the affairs of Europe, on which he great- 
ly 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 as- 
sured 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 years afterwards, whilst Lord Shelburne was talk- 
ing 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 con- 
versation, was much startled. On the next morning my 
father received a note from the Earl, saying that he had dela)^ed 
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 grand- 

DR. R. W. DARWIN. 15 

son 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 Shrewsbury, 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 ty- 
phoid 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 drink- 
ing, 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 before- 
hand 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 an- 
swered, ^ 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 

*' My father used to tell me many little things which he 
had found useful in his medical practice. Thus ladies often 
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 na- 
ture. 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 
My father took a different view and maintained that the 

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



that the illness was of such a nature that it must end fatally, 
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 was 
so much surprised at this, that he asked a friend of the widow 
to find out why he was again consulted. The widow an- 
swered 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 addse you always to give, as 
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 


*' 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 extraordi- 


nary 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 he was told that Miss , 

whom my father had somehow mortally offended, was telling 
everybody 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 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 paci- 
fied. On my return home, I asked my father why she was so 
frightened, 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 

** 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 loved. 

" He was a cautious and good man of busine^, so that he 
hardly ever lost money by an 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 
I 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 manag- 
ing 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 
I his money, left the 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 with- 
drawn 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 see 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 day. It would have been dishonorable in my 
father to have used his professional knowledge for his private 
advantage. Nevertheless, the supposed act was greatly ad- 
mired by some persons ; and many years afterwards, a gen- 
tleman remarked, * Ah, Doctor, what a splendid man of busi- 
ness 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 generalize 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 ; Eras- j 
mus Alvey ; Susan, died unmarried ; Charles Robert ; Cathe- ? 
rine, married Rev. Charles Langton. 

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

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

There was something pathetic in Charles Darwin's affec- 
tion 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 pleas- 
ant memory. Erasmus being rather more than four years 
older than Charles Darwin, they were not long together at 
Cambridge, but previously at Edinburgh they lived in the 
same lodgings, and after the Voyage they lived for a time to- 
gether in Erasmus' house in Great Marlborough Street. At 
this time also he often speaks with much affection of Eras- 
mus 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 holi- 
day. 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 Street. 

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 ': — 

* Of these Mrs. Wedgwood is now the sole survivor. 


" 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 experi- 
|mented 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, hov/ever, 
so different, that I do not think I owe much to him intellectu- 
ally. I am inclined to agree with Francis Galton in believ- 
ing that education and environment produce only a small 
effect on the mind of any one, and that most of our qualities 
are innate." 

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 kindli- 
ness in the most unaffected form.*' * 

Charles Darwin did not appreciate this sketch of his 
brother ; 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, 188 1) 
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 

* Carlyle's * Reminiscences/ vol. ii. p. 208. 


of his appreciation was not made known first in its posthu- 
mous 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. 
I He was intimate also with a person whose friends, like those 
jof Mr. Carlyle, have not always had cause to congratulate 
themselves 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 resem- ^ 
blance is all that is left of them. The character is not merged 4 
in the creation ; and what we lose in the power to communi- ^ 
cate our impression, we seem to gain in its vividness. Eras- * 
mus Darwin has passed away in old age, yet his memory ■ 
retains something of a youthful fragrance ; his influence gave c 
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 grave.'* 

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





[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 Charac- 
ter,' and end with the following note : — " Aug. 3, 1876. This sketch 
of my life was begun about May 28th at Hopedene,* 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 so short and dull a sketch of the mind of my 
grandfather, written by himself, and what he thought and 
did, and how he worked. I have attempted to write the fol- 
lowing account of myself, as if I were a dead man in another 
world looking back at my own life. Nor have I found this 

* Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood's house in Surrey. 


difficult, for life is nearly over with me. I have taken no 
pains about my style of writing. 

I was born at Shrewsbury on February 12th, 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 recollect some events and places there 
with some little distinctness. 

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 constructed work-table. In the 
spring of this same year I was sent to a day-school in Shrews- 
bury, 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 for natu- 
ral history, and more especially for collecting, was well devel- 
oped. I tried to make out the names of plants,t and col- 
lected all sorts of things, shells, seals, franks, coins, and min- 
erals. 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 brotherj 
ever had this taste. 

* Kept by Rev. G. Case, minister of the Unitarian Chapel in the Higl 
Street. Mrs. Darwin was a Unitarian and attended Mr. Case's chapel, and 
my father as a little boy went there with his elder sisters. But both he 
and his brother were christened and intended to belong to the Church of 
England ; and after his early boyhood he seems usually to have gone to . 
church and not to Mr. Case's. It appears (Sf. James' Gazette, Dec. 15, 
1883) that a mural tablet has been erected to his memory in the chapel, ' 
which is now known as the * Free Christian Church.' 

f Rev. W. A. Leighton, who was a schoolfellow of my father's at Mr, 
Case's school, remembers his bringing a flower to school and saying that I 
his mother had taught him how by looking at the inside of the blossom the [ 
name of the plant could be discovered. Mr. Leighton goes on, " This ' 
greatly roused my attention and curiosity, and I inquired of him repeated- ji 
ly how this could be done ? " — but his lesson was naturally enough not I 
transmissible. — F. D. 



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 apparently I was interested at this 
early age in the variability 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 vari- 
ously 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 con- 
fess that as a little boy I was much given to inventing delib- 
erate 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 shrub- 
bery, and then ran in breathless 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 instant- 
ly 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 pay- 
ment 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 pay- 
ment. When we came out he said, *^Now if you like to go 
by yourself into that cake-shop (how well I remember its 
exact position) 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 cf laughter by my false friend 

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 in- 
nate 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 5| 
number of hours on the bank of a river or pond watching 
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 be- 
fore 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 remember- 
ing 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 

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 sus- 
pended 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 school 
in Shrewsbury, and remained there for seven years till Mid- 
summer 1825, when I was sixteen years old. I boarded at 

* The house of his uncle, Josiah Wedgwood. 


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 advantageous 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 solitary walks ; but 
what I thought about I know not. I often became quite 
absorbed, and once, whilst returning 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 be- 
lieve, proved about each thought requiring quite an appreci- 
able amount of time. 

Nothing could have been worse for the development 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 forgotten 
in forty-eight hours. I was not idle, and with the exception of 
versification, generally worked conscientiously 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 ad- 
mired greatly. 

When I left the school I was for my age neither high nor 
low in it ; and I believe that I was considered by all my mas- 
ters 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 shoot- 
ing, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to 
yourself 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 remem- 
ber the intense satisfaction which the clear geometrical proofs 
gave me. 1 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 pub- 
lished 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 * Won- 
ders of the World/ which I often read, and disputed 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 re- 
mote countries, which was ultimately fulfilled by the voyage 
of the Beagle, In the latter part of my school life 1 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 diffi- 
culty 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 re- 
marked, ^^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 windows.'* 

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

With respect to science, I continued collecting minerals 
with much zeal, but quite unscientifically — all that I cared 
about was a ntw-named mineral, and I hardly attempted to 
classify them. I must have observed insects with some little 
care, for when ten years old (18 19) I went for three weeks to 
Plas Edwards on the sea-coast in Wales, I was very much in- 
terested 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 his experiments. He made • 
all the gases and many compounds, and I read with great \ 
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 somehow got known at school, 
and as it was an unprecedented 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 

As I was doing no good at school, my father wisely took 
me away at a rather earlier age than usual, and 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 in- 
tended 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 man as I am ; but my 
belief v/as sufficient to check any strenuous efforts to learn 

The instruction at Edinburgh was altogether by lectures, 
and these were intolerably dull, with the exception of thosQ 



on chemistry by Hope ; but to my mind there are no advan- 
tages and many disadvantages in lectures compared with read- 
ing. 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 dis- 
gust ; and the practice would have been invaluable for all my 
future work. This has been an irremediable evil, as well as 
my incapacity 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 understand 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 at- 
tending 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 suc- 
cess 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 completed. 
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 University, 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 As- 
syria ; he was a Wernerian geologist, and knew a little about 
many subjects. Dr. Coldstream was a very different young 
man, prim, formal, highly religious, and most kind-hearted ; 
he afterwards published 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 walk- 
ing together, burst forth in high admiration of Lamarck and 
his views on evolution. I listened in silent astonishment, and 
as far as I can judge without any effect on my mind. I had 
previously read the ^ Zoonomia ' 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 inter- 
val 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 ani- 
mals in the tidal pools, which I dissected as well as I could. 
I also became friends with some of the Newhaven fishermen, 
and sometimes accompanied 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 discovery, 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 Flustra had the power of independent move- 
ment 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 loreus were the 
egg-cases of the wormlike Pontobdella muricata. 

The Plinian Society was encouraged and, I believe, 
founded by Professor Jameson : it consisted of students and 
met in an underground room in the University 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 overwhelmed, and all the members were so sur- 
prised 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 satisfaction 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 occasionally to the meetings of the Wernerian So- 
ciety, where various papers on natural history were read, dis- 
cussed, and afterwards published in the * Transactions.* I 
heard Audubon deliver there some interesting discourses 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 liveHhood 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 apologised 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. 

Daring 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 determi- 
nation 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 previ- 
ously 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 maintained that it had been injected 
from beneath in a molten condition. When I think of this 
lecture, I do not wonder that I determined never to attend 
to Geology. 

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 knap- 
sacks 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 a distant 
part of the Maer estate, on the 20th of August for black-game 
shooting, before I could see : I then toiled on with the game- 
keeper the whole day through thick heath and young Scotch 

I kept an exact record of every bird which I shot through- 
out the whole season. One day when shooting at Wood- 
house 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 

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


count that bird, for I fired at the same time,'* and the game- 
keeper, 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 per- 
suade myself that shooting was almost an intellectual employ- 
ment ; 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 1827 was memora- 
ble 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 succeeding 
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 consid- 
ered 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 *^nec vultus tyranni, &c.,'' * come in. 

Cambridge 1828-1831. — After having spent two 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 vehement 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 Creeds,* 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 natural death when, on leaving 
Cambridge, I joined the Beagle as naturalist. If the phre- 
nologists are to be trusted, I was well fitted in one respect to 
be a clergyman. A few years ago the secretaries of a Ger- 
man 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 discus- 

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


sion, 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 knowledge, and could translate easy Greek 
books, such as Homer and the Greek Testament, with moder- 
ate facility. 

During the three years which I spent at Cambridge my 
time was wasted, as far as the academical studies were con- 
cerned, as completely as at Edinburgh and at school. I at- 
tempted mathematics, and even went during the summer of 
1828 with a private tutor (a very dull man) 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 my 
second year I had to work for a month or two to pass 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 the B. A. examination, it was also 
necessary to get up Paley's * Evidences of Christianity,' and 


Ilis ^ Moral Philosophy/ This was done in a thorough man- 
ner, and I am convinced that I could have written out the 
v/hole of the ^ Evidences ' with perfect correctness, but not of 
course in the clear language of Paley. The logic 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 argumentation. By an- 
swering well the examination questions in Paley, by doing 
[Euclid well, and by not failing miserably in Classics, I gained 
a good place among the ol ttoWoI or crowd of men who do 
not go in for honours. Oddly enough, I cannot remember 
how high I stood, and my memory fluctuates between the 
fifth, tenth, or tv/elfth,name on the list.* 

Public lectures on several branches were given in 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 interesting 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 admirable illustrations ; but I did not study botany. 
Henslow 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 delightful. 

Although, as we shall presently see, there were some re- 
deeming 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 


* Tenth in the list of January 1831. 


across country, I got into a sporting set, including some dis- 
sipated 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 evenings 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 pleasure. 

But I am glad to think that I had many other friends of a 
widely different nature. I was very intimate with Whitley,* 
who was afterwards Senior Wrangler, and we used continu- 
ally to take long walks together. He inoculated me with a 
taste for pictures and good engravings, of which I bought 
some. I frequently 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 sublimity. 

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 some- 
times hired the chorister boys to sing in my rooms. Never- 

* Rev. C. Whitley, Hon. Canon of Durham, formerly Reader in Natii- 
rjil Philosophy in Durham University. 

f The late John Maurice Herbert, County Court Judge of Cardiff and 
the Monmouth Circuit. 



jtheless I am so utterly destitute of an ear, that I cannot per- 
ceive a discord, or keep time and hum a tune correctly ; and 
it is a mystery how I could possibly have derived pleasure 
from music. 

My musical friends soon perceived my state, and some- 
times amused themselves by making me pass an examination, 
which consisted in ascertaining how many tunes I could rec- 
ognise 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 

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 compared their external characters 
with published descriptions, 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 sec- 
ond cousin, W. Darwin Fox, a clever and most pleasant man, 
who was then at Christ's College, and with whom I became 
extremely intimate. Afterwards I became well acquainted, 


and went out collecting, with Albert Way of Trinity, who in 
after years became a well-known archaeologist ; also with H. 
Thompson of the same College, afterwards a leading agricult- 
urist, chairman of a great railway, and Member of Parlia- 
ment. 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 appearance of certain posts, old 
trees and banks where I made a good capture. The pretty 
Panagceiis 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, quadripunctatus, which is i 
only a variety or closely allied species, differing from it very 
shghtly in outline. I had never seen in those old days Lici- 
nus alive, which to an uneducated eye hardly differs from 
many of the black Carabidous beetles ; but my sons found 
here a specimen, and I instantly recognized that it was new 
to me ; yet I had not looked at a British beetle for the last 
twenty years. 

I have not as yet mentioned a circumstance which influ- 
enced 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 pre- 
pared to reverence him. He kept open house once every 
week when all undergraduates, and some older members of 
the University, who were attached to science, used to meet 
in the evening. I soon got, through Fox, an invitation, and 
\^ent there regularly. Before long I became well acquainted 
with Henslow, and during the latter half of my time at Cam- 
bridge took long walks with him on most days ; so that I was 
called by some of the dons ^^ the man who walks with Hens- 
low ; '* 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 Cambridge 
almost as horrid a scene as could have been witnessed during 
the French Revolution. Two body-snatchers had been ar- 
rested, and whilst being taken to prison had been torn from 
the constable by a crowd of the roughest men, who dragojed 
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 ex- 
amining 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 communi- 
cate 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 delightful man, 
but did not live for many years. Another was Mr. Dawes, 
afterwards Dean of Hereford, and famous for his success in 
the education of the poor. These men and others of the 
same standing, together with Henslow, used sometimes to 
take distant excursions into the country, which I was allowed 
to join, and they were most agreeable. 

Looking back, I infer that there must have been some- 
thing 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 

* The well-known Soame Jenyns was cousin to Mr. Jenyns' father, 
f Mr. Jenyns (now Blomefield) described the fish for the Zoology of 
the Beagle ; and is author of a long series of papers, chiefly Zoological. 



me to associate with them. Certainly I was not aware of 
I 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 preposterous. 

During my last year at Cambridge, I read with care and 
profound interest Humboldt's ^Personal Narrative/ 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 contribution 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 Hum- 
boldt long passages about Teneriife, and read them aloud 
on one of the above-mentioned excursions, to (I think) Hens- 
low, Ramsay, and Dawes, for on a previous occasion 1 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 ear- 
nest, 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 v/ere 
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 exami- 
nation, 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 in- 
tended 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 

A short conversation with him during this evening pro- 
duced a strong impression on my mind. Whilst examining 
an old gravel-pit near Shrewsbury, a 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 em- 
bedded 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 consists in grouping facts so that general laws or con- 
clusions 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. Sedg- 
wick often sent me on a line parallel to his, telling me to 
bring back specimens of the rocks and to mark the stratifica- 
tion 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 

* In connection with this tour my father used to tell a story about 
Sedgwick : they had started from their inn one morning, and had walked 
a mile or two, when Sedgwick suddenly stopped, and vowed that he would 
return, being certain '* that damned scoundrel " (the waiter) had not given 
the chambermaid the sixpence intrusted to him for the purpose. He was 
ultimately persuaded to give up the project, seeing that there was no 
reason for suspecting the waiter of especial perfidy. — F. D. 



I had a striking instance of how easy it is to overlook phe- 
nomena, however conspicuous, before they have been observed 
by any one. We spent many hours in Cwm Idwal, examin- 
ing 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 phenomena are so 
conspicuous that, as I declared in a paper published many 
years afterwards in the ' Philosophical 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 phe- 
nomena 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 mountains 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 
Cambridge friends who were reading there, and thence re- 
turned 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, 


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

' Philosophical Magazine,' 1842. 



'^ 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 September 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 he 
was one of the most sensible men in the world, and he at 
once consented in the kindest manner. I had been rather 
extravagant 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 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 intimate with Fitz-Roy, I 
heard that I had run a very narrow risk of being rejected, on 
account of the shape of my nose I He was an ardent dis- 
ciple of Lavater, and was convinced that he could judge of a 
man's 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 after- 
wards 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 indomitably 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 gentle- 
man, 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 H., for Dr. 
Wallich gave me a collection of photogrphs which he had 
made, and I was struck with the resemblance of one to Fitz- 

* Josiab Wedgwood. 



Roy; and on looking at the name, I found it Ch. E. Sobieski 
Stuart, Count d'Albanie, a descendant of the same mon- 

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 compelled 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 mag- 
nanimity 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 impor- 
tant event in my life, and has determined my whole career; 
yet it depended on so small a circumstance as my uncle offer- 
ing to diive 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 developed. 

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 strati- 
fication and nature of the rocks and fossils at many points, 
always reasoning and predicting what will be found else- 
where, 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 LyelFs manner of treating geology, compared with that of 
any other author, whose works I had with me or ever after- 
wards read. 

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 knowledge, 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 

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 practice. My Journal served 
also, in part, as letters to my home, and portions were sent 
to England whenever 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 train- 
ing 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. Dur- 
ing the first two years my old passion for shooting survived 
in nearly full force, and I shot myself all the birds and ani- 
mals for my collection ; 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 un- 
consciously 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 believer in phre- 
nology ; 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 nth (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 Plym- 
outh, and remained 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 inexpressi- 
bly gloomy. 1 was also troubled with palpitation and pain 
about the heart, and like many a young ignorant man, espe- 
cially one with a smattering of medical knowledge, was con- 
vinced that I had heart disease. I did not consult any doc- 


tor, as I fully expected to hear the verdict that I was 
not fit for the voyage, and I was resolved to go at all 

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 vege- 
tation of the Tropics rise before my mind at the present time 
more vividly than anything else ; though the sense of sub- 
limity, 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 discomfort 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 scientific 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 archi- 
pelago, and of all of them to the inhabitants of South 

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 up- 
heaved. But the line of white rock revealed to me a new and 
important fact, namely, that there had been afterwards subsi- 



eiice round the craters, which had since been in action, and 
ad poured forth lava. It then first dawned on me that I 
light perhaps write a book on the geology of the various 
ountries visited, and this made me thrill with delight. That 
^as a memorable hour to me, and how distinctly I can call to 
lind the low cliff of lava beneath which I rested, with the 
un glaring hot, a few strange desert plants growing near, and 
/ith living corals in the tidal pools at my feet. Later in the 
oyage, Fitz-Roy asked me to read some of my Journal, and 
leclared it would be worth publishing ; so here was a second 
)Ook in prospect ! 

Towards the close of our voyage I received a letter whilst 
Lt Ascension, in which my sisters told me that Sedgwick had 
:alled on my father, and said that I should take a place among 
he leading scientific men. I could not at the time under- 
itand how he could have learnt anything of my proceedings, 
)ut I heard (I believe afterwards) that Henslow had read 
ome of the letters which I wrote to him before the Philo- 
ophical Society of Cambridge,* and had printed them for 
private distribution. My collection of fossil bones, which 
lad been sent to Henslow, also excited considerable atten- 
:ion amongst palaeontologists. After reading this letter, I 
:lambered over the mountains of Ascension with a bounding 
step, and made the volcanic rocks resound under my geologi- 
cal hammer. All this shows how ambitious I was ; but I think 
that I can 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 favour- 
able 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 

* Read at the meeting held November i6, 1835, and printed in a pam- 
phlet of 31 pp. for distribution among the members of the Society. 



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 occasionally unwell, 
and so lost some time. After going backwards and forwards 
several times between Shrewsbury, Maer, Cambridge, and 
London, I settled in lodgings at Cambridge* on December 
13th, where all my collections were under the care of Hens- 
low. 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 in- 
teresting 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. f 

On March 7th, 1837, 1 took lodgings in Great Marlborough 
Street in London, and remained there for 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 Voy- 
age 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 

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 char- 
acteristics was his sympathy with the work of others, and I 
was as much astonished 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 

* In Fitzwilliam Street. 

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



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 ob- 
servations 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 excursions as 
a relaxation, and one longer one to the Parallel Roads of Glen 
Roy, an account of which was published in the * Philosoph- 
ical Transactions.'* This paper was a great failure, and I 
am ashamed of it. Having been deeply impressed with what 
I had seen of the elevation of the land of South America, I 
attributed 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 favor 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, includ- 
ing some metaphysical books ; but I was not well fitted for 
such studies. About this time I took much delight in Words- 
worth'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 dur- 
ing the voyage of the Beagle^ when I could take only a single 
volume, I always chose Milton. 

From my marriage, January 29, 1839, ^^^ residence in Upper 
Gower 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 

* 1839, pp. 39-82. 



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 
giv^en 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 care- 
ful examination of living reefs. But it should be observed 
that I had during the two previous years been incessantly at- 
tending 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 
P2rratic Boulders of South America,* on Earthquakes,! and 
on the Formation by the Agency of Earth-worms of Mould.J 
I also continued to superintend the publication of the ^ Zoology 
of the Voyage of the Beagle J Nor did I ever intermit col- 
lecting facts bearing on the origin of species ; and I could 
sometimes do this when I could do nothing else from illness. 

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, 

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

X ' Geolog. Soc. Proc' ii. 1838. 



for the sake of observing the effects of the old glaciers which 
formerly filled all the larger valleys. I published a short ac- 
count of what I saw in the ^Philosophical Magazine.'^ This 
(excursion interested 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. 
I During the early part of our life in London, I was strong 
enough to go into general society, and saw a good deal of 
jseveral scientific men, and other more 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 characterised, as it 
appeared to me, by clearness, caution, sound judgment, and 
la 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 was his hearty 
sympathy with the work of other scientific men.f 

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 

*' Philosophical Magazine,' 1842. 

t The slight repetition here observable is accounted for by the notes 
on Lyell, &c., having been added in April, 1881, a few years after the rest 
of the ' Recollections ' were written. 


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 T>yell — 
more so, as I believe, than to any other man who ever lived. 
When [I was] starting on the voyage of the Beagle^ the saga- 
cious Henslow, who, like all other geologists, believed at that 
time in successive cataclysms, advised me to get and study 
the first volume of the ^ Principles,* which had then just been 
published, but on no account to accept the views therein ad- 
vocated. 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 
Lyeirs views over those advocated in any other work known 
to me. 

The powerful effects of LyelFs works could formerly be 
plainly seen in the different progress of the science in France 
and England. The present total oblivion of Elie de Beau- 
mont'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 Bo- 
tanicorum," as he was called by Humboldt. He seemed to 
me to be chiefly remarkable for the minuteness of his obser- 
vations, and their perfect accuracy. His knowledge 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 oc- 
casion he asked me to look through a microscope and de- 
scribe 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 penuri- 
ousness 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 listen- 
ing to. 

I once met at breakfast at Sir R. Murchison's house the 
illustrious Humboldt, who honoured me by expressing 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 Hens- 

leigh 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 
anything, 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 en- 
abled to give the astonishing number of references on all sorts 
of subjects, 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 any- 


thing. Buckle was a great talker, and I listened to him say- 
ing 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 around 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 something inexplicably 
amusing in every word which he uttered. Perhaps this was 
partly due to the expectation of being amused. He was talk- 
ing 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 be- 
lieved that my dear old friend Lady Cork has been over- 
looked," 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 ex- 
press 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 opportuni'^y 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 al- 
lowed 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 his- 
torians 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 utter- 
ly incredible. 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 

I shocked at such a speech to me, and his charming wife much 
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 broth- 
er'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 Grote's ' History ' " a fetid quagmire, with nothing 
spiritual about it." I always thought, until his * Reminis- 
cences ' appeared, that his sneers were partly jokes, but this 
now seems rather doubtful. His expression was that of a 
depressed, almost despondent 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 drawing 
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 question. 




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, w^hich 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 re- 

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

Residence at Down from Septeinber 14, 1842, /^ the present time, 


After several fruitless searches in Surrey and elsewhere, 
we found this house and purchased it. I was pleased with 
the diversified appearance of vegetation proper to a chalk 
district, and so unlike what I had been accustomed to in the 
Midland counties; and still more pleased with the extreme 
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 ad- 
mirably in one way, which we did not anticipate, .namely, by 
being very convenient for frequent visits from our chil- 

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 
jlittle 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 sci- 
entific acquaintances. 

My chief enjoyment and sole employment throughout 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 

My several Publications, — In the early part of 1844, ^7 
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 1839 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 Ger- 
man, 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 Observations on South America ' were pub- 
lished. 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 reception. Lately an allied burrowing 
genus has been found on the shores of Portugal. To under- 
stand the structure 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 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 intro- 
duced in one of his novels a Professor Long, who had written 
tv/o 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 13th, 1848, I was unable to 
attend his funeral or to act as one of his executors. 

My work on the Cirripedia possesses, I think, considera- 
ble value, as besides describing several new and remarkable 
forms, I made out \he homologies of the various parts — I dis- 
covered the cementing apparatus, though I blundered dread- 
fully about the cement glands — and lastly I proved the exist- 
ence 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 

* 'Geological Observations,* 2nd Edit. 1876. * Coral Reef^;,' 2nd Edit. 

f Published by the Ray Society. 



atelj|yriter was pleased to attribute the whole account to my fer- 
ile imagination. The Cirripedes form a highly varying and 
Icn iifficult group of species to class ; and my work was of con- 
jiderable use to me, when I had to discuss in the ^ Origin of 
Species ' the principles of a natural classification. Neverthe- 
ess, I doubt whether the work was worth the consumption of 
50 much time. 

From September 1854 I devoted my whole time to arrang- 
ng my huge pile of notes, to observing, and to experiment- 
ing in relation to the transmutation of species. During the 
voyage of the Beagle I had been deeply impressed by discov- 
ering in the Pampean formation great fossil animals covered 
ith 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 pro- 
ductions of the Galapagos archipelago, and more especially 
isBby the manner in which they differ slightly on each island of 
i |the group ; none of the islands appearing to be very ancient 
in a geological sense. 

It was evident that such facts as these, as well as many 
others, could only be explained on the supposition that 
|r|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 (espe- 
cially in the case of plants) could account for the innumera- 
ble 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 variation 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 prin- 
ciples, and without any theory collected facts on a wholesale 
scale, more especially with respect to domesticated produc- 
tions, 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 applied 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 appre- 
ciate the struggle for existence which everywhere goes on 
from long-continued observation of the habits of animals and 
plants, it at once struck me that under these circumstances 
favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfa- 
vourable 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 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 sum- 
mer 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 impor- 
tance ; 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 




^flsub-orders and so forth ; and I can remember the very spot 
^^™'in the road, whilst in my carriage, when to my joy the solu- 
tion occurred to me ; and this was long after I had come to 
Down. The solution, as I believe, is that the modified off- 
spring of all dominant and increasing forms tend to become 
adapted to many and highly diversified places in the economy 
^ of nature. 

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 over- 
thrown, 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 

The circumstances under which I consented at the re- 
quest 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 un- 
justifiable, 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 

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 abstracted the MS. begun on a much larger scale in 
1856, and completed the volume on the same reduced scale. 
It cost me thirteen months and ten days' hard labour. It was 
published under the title of the * Origin of Species,' in Novem- 
ber 1859. Though considerably added to and corrected in the 
later editions, it has remained substantially the same book. 

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 publication, and a second edition of 
3000 copies soon afterwards. 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, accord- 
ing 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 Testa- 
ment ! The reviews were very numerous ; for some time I 
collected all that appeared on the ^ Origin * and on my related 
books, and these amount (excluding newspaper reviews) to 
265 ; but after a time I gave up the attempt in despair. 
Many separate essays and books on the subject have ap- ' 
peared ; and in Germany a catalogue or bibliography on 
'^ Darwinismus '* has appeared every year or two. 

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. 

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


I had, also, during many years followed a golden rule, namely, 
that whenever a published fact, a new observation or thought 
came across me, which was opposed to my general results, to 
make a memorandum of it without fail and at once ; for I 
had found by experience 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 at- 
tempted to answer. 

It has sometimes been said that the success of the * Ori- 
gin ' 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 v/as its moderate size ; and this I owe 
to the appearance of Mr. Wallace's essay ; had I published 
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 » ^^d I 
lost nothing by it, for I cared very little whether men at- 
tributed 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 explanation 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 remember, in the early reviews of the * Origin,* and I recol- 
lect expressing my surprise on this head in a letter to Asa 
Gray. Within late years several reviewers have given the 
whole credit to Fritz Miiller and Hackel, who undoubtedly 
have worked it out much more fully, and in some respects 
more correctly than I did. I had materials for a whole chap- 
ter on the subject, and I ought to have made the discussion 
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 misrepresented, bitterly opposed and ridi- 
culed, 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 ad- 
vised 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 con- 
temptuously criticised, and even v/hen I have been over- 

* « n 

Geolog. Survey Mem.,' 1846. 


raised, so that I have felt mortified, it has been my greatest 
omfort to say hundreds of times to myself that " I have 
iicliftvorked as hard and as well as I could, and no man can do 
avelnore 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 
jthan 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, i860, I began 
arranging my notes for my work on the * Variation of Ani- 
mals and Plants under Domestication; ' but it was not pub- 
lished until the beginning of 1868 ; the delay having been 
caused partly by frequent illnesses, one of which lasted seven 
months, and partly by being tempted to publish on other sub- 
jects which at the time interested me more. 

On May isth, 1862, my little book on the ' Fertilisation 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, ^^^» I believe, 
during the previous summer, I was led to attend to the cross- 
fertilisation 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 dur- 
ing 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 re- 
spect to other plants. 



My resolve proved a wise one ; for since the appearance 
of my book, a surprising number of papers and separate 
works on the fertilisation of all kinds of flowers have ap- 
peared : 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 

During the same year I published in the * Journal of the 
Linnean Society ' a paper ** On the Two Forms, or Dimor- 
phic Condition of Primula," and during the next five years, 
five other papers on dimorphic and trimorphic 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 dimorphism | 
of Linum flavum, and had at first thought that it was merely 
a case of unmeaning variability. But on examining the com- 
mon species of Primula I found that the two forms were much 
too regular and constant to be thus viewed. I therefore be- 
came almost convinced that the common cowslip and prim- 
rose 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 
became 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 wonderful 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 hy- 
brids from the union of two distinct species. 

In the autumn of 1864 I finished a long paper on ' Climb- 
ing 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 obscurely 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 sub- 
ject by reading a short paper by Asa Gray, pubUshed 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 appearing 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 Domestica- 
tion* was begun, as already stated, in the beginning of i860, 
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 produc- 
tions. 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 hypothe- 
sis 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 ^^ "^^3^^ 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 in- 
jurious 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 accepted 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 selec- 
tion — a subject which had always greatly interested 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 ma- 
terials 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 in- 
tended to give only a chapter on the subject in the * Descent 
of Man,* but as soon as I began to put my notes together, I 
saw that it would require a separate treatise. 

My first child was born on December 27th, 1839, ^^d I at 
once commenced to make notes on the first dawn of the vari- 
ous 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. 



Beirs admirable 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 spe- 
cially created for the sake of expression. From this time for- 
ward 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 i860 I was idling and resting near Hart- 
field, where two species of Drosera abound ; and I noticed 
that numerous insects had been entrapped 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 proba- 
ble that the insects were caught for some special purpose. 
•Fortunately a crucial test occurred to me, that of placing a 
large number of leaves in various nitrogenous and non-nitro- 
genous 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 pur- 
sued my experiments, and my book on ^ Insectivorous Plants ' 
was published in July 1875 — that is, 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 Vegetable Kingdom.' 
This book will form a complement to that on the ' Fertilisa- 
tion of Orchids,' in which I showed how perfect were the 
means for cross-fertilisation, and here I shall show how im- 
portant 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 seedlings 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 ist, 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 transportal of pollen from one 
plant to another of the same species. I now believe, however, 
chiefly from the observations of Hermann Miiller, 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 * Fertilisa- 
tion 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 Heterostyled 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 be- 
fore 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 illegiti- 
mate 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 l^^<i 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 interested by this little life, and I 
am surprised that only 800 or 900 copies were sold. 

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 evolution 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 general- 
isation, viz. that the great and important classes of move- 
ments, excited by light, the attraction of gravity, &c., are all 
modified forms of the fundamental movement of circumnuta- 
tion. 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 move- 
ments the tip of a root possesses. 

I have now (May i, 1881) sent to the printers the MS. of 
a Httle book on ' The Formation of Vegetable Mould, through 
the Action of Worms.* This is a subject of but small im- 
portance ; and I know not whether it will interest any readers,* 
but it has interested 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 pub- 
lished, and these have been the milestones in my life, so 
that little remains to be said. I am not conscious of any 
change in my mind during the last thirty years, excepting in 
one point presently to be mentioned ; 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 ex- 
tent. I think that I have become a little more skilful in 
guessing right explanations and in devising experimental 


* Between November 1881 and February 1884, 8500 copies have been 


tests ; but this may probably be the result of mere practice 
and of a larger store of knowledge. I have as much difficult) 
as ever in expressing myself clearly and concisely ; and thi 
difficulty has caused me a very great loss of time ; but it ha{ 
had the compensating advantage of forcing me to think lon^ 
and intently about every sentence, and thus I have been leci 
to see errors in reasoning and in my own observations oi 
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 oi 
awkward form. Formerly I used to think about my sen- 
tences 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 deliberately. 

Having said thus much about my manner of writing, I 
will add that with my large books I spend a good 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 stand- 
ing for a whole discussion or series of facts. Each one of 
these headings is again enlarged and often transferred be- 
fore 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 subjects 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 
beginning 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 information 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, Coleridge, 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 con- 
siderable, 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 en- 
ergetically 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 imagina- 
tion, 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 un- 
happily — against which a law ought to be passed. A novel, 
according to my taste, does not come into the first class 
unless it contains 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 scientific 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 collec- 
tions 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 sup- 
pose, have thus suffered ; and if I had to live my life again, 
I would have made a rule 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 intellect, and more 
probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional 
part of our nature. 

My books have sold largely in England, have been trans- 1 ; 
lated 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 endur- 
ing 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 suc- 
cess 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 instance, Huxley. I 
am therefore a poor critic : a paper or book, when first read, 
generally excites my admiration, and it is only after consider- 
able 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 con- 
clusion 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 do 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 sue- 


cessful 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, rny love of natural science has been steady and 

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 unexplained 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 inju- 
rious to the progress of science. A good deal of scepticism 
in a scientific man is advisable to avoid much loss of time, 
for I have met with not a few men, who, I feel sure, have 
often thus been deterred 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 seed or beans of the common 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 published 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 farm- 
ers ; 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 al- 
most the whole of England without any vestige of evidence. 

I have known in the course of my life only three inten- 
tionally falsified statements, and one of these may have been 
a hoax (and there have been several scientific hoaxes) which, 
however, took in an American Agricultural Journal. It re- 
lated to the formation in Holland of a new breed of oxen by 
the crossing of distinct species of Bos (some of which I hap- 
pen to know are sterile together), and the author had the im- 
pudence to state that he had corresponded with me, and that 
I had been deeply impressed with the importance of his re- 
sult. The article was sent to me by the editor of an English 
Agricultural Journal, asking for my opinion before republish- 
ing 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 ac- 
cess of insects. This account was published before I had dis- 
covered the meaning of heterostylism, and the whole state- 
ment must have been fraudulent, or there was neglect in ex- 
cluding insects so gross as to be scarcely credible. 

The third case was more curious : Mr. Huth published in 
his book on ' Consanguineous Marriage ' some long extracts 
from a Belgian author, who stated that he had interbred rab- 
bits 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 Bel- 
gium ; 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 im- 

So with much hesitation I wrote to Professor Van Ben- 
eden, asking him whether the author was a trustworthy 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 carrying on his experiments, which must have con- 
sumed several years, and no answer could be extracted from 

My habits are methodical, and this has been of not 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 distractions 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 con- 
ditions. Of these, the most important have been — the love 

* The falseness of the published statements on which Mr. Huth relied 
has been pointed out by himself in a slip inserted in all the copies of his 
book which then remained unsold. 


of science — unbounded patience in long reflecting over any 
subject — industry in observing 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. 



\^From the Century Magazine, 



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 personal- 
ity which remains on the minds of those who knew and loved 
him — an impression at once so vivid and so untranslatable 
into words. 

Of his personal appearance (in these days of multiplied 
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 


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 w^as kept up by some-i 
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 i 
about quickly and easily enough, and often in the middle of 
dictating he went eagerly into the hall to get a pinch of snuff^ I 
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 natu- 
rally awkward 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 New- 
port dissect a humble bee, getting out the nervous system 
with a few cuts of a line 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 

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



cut sections of roots and leaves. His hand was not steady 
enough to hold the object to be cut, and he employed a 
cominon 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 "speech- 
less 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 him. 

When walking he had a fidgetting movement with his 
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 neu- 
tralising the result by resting his feet on another chair. 

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 cf 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 remembered that at this time he was miserably ill, 
far worse than in later years. His eyes were bluish grey 
under deep overhanging brows, with thick bushy projecting 
eyebrows. His high forehead was much wrinkled, but other- 
wise 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 sym a- 
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 establishment. 
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-J 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, 
"7V^ 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 evi- 
dently 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 sister's 
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 de- 
voted to him, but unfriendly to every one else, and when he 
came back from the Beagle voyage, the dog remembered 
him, but in a curious way, which my father was fond of tell- 
ing. He went into the yard and shouted in his old manner; 
the dog rushed out and set off with him on his walk, show- 
ing no more emotion or excitement than if the same thing 


had happened the day before, instead of five years age 
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 mucl 

connection with my father. One was a large black and whit 
half-bred retriever, called Bob, to which we, as children, wer 
much devoted. He was the dog of whom the story of th 
" hot-house face ** is told in the ^ Expression of the Emotions 
But the dog most closely associated with my father wa 
the above-mentioned Polly, a rough, white fox-terrier. Sh 
was a sharp-witted, affectionate dog ; when her master wa 
going away on a journey, she always discovered the fact b] 
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, jus 
as if she knew that he would say (as he did often say) tha 
"she was famishing." My father used to make her catcl 
biscuits off her nose, and had an affectionate and mock 
solemn way of explaining to her before-hand that she mus 
" be a very good girl." She had a mark on her back when 
she had been burnt, and where the hair had re-grown rec 
instead of white, and my father used to commend her foi 
this tuft of hair as being in accordance with his theory o: 
pangenesis ; her father had been a red bull-terrier, thus the 
red hair appearing after the burn showed the presence oj 
latent red gemmules. He was delightfully tender to Polly 
and never showed any impatience at the attentions she re- 
quired, such as to be let in at the door, or out at the veran 
dah window, to bark at "naughty people," a self-imposed 
duty she much enjoyed. She died, or rather had to be killed 
a few days after his death.* 

* The basket in which she usually lay curled up near the fire in his 
study is faithfully represented in Mr. Parson's drawing, '* The Study at 
Down," facing this chapter. 

WALKS. 53 

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 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 w^as, 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, stretch- 
ing 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 sym- 
pathize 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 what- 
ever it might have been. He used to tell us how, when he 
was creeping noiselessly along in the "Big-Woods,'' he came 
upon a fox asleep in the daytime, which was so much aston 
ished that it took a good stare at him before it ran off. A 
Spitz dog which accompanied him showed no sign of excite 
ment 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 com 
mon kinds. He was fond of quoting the saying of one oi 
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 garder 
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 undei 
one of the big lime-trees, with his head on the green mounc 
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 pleas- 
ant days. He used to like to watch us playing at lawn-ten 
nis, and often knocked up a stray ball for us with the curvec 
handle of his stick. 

Though he took no personal share in the management oj 
the garden, he had great delight in the beauty of flowers— 
for instance, in the mass of Azaleas which generally stood ir 



the drawing-room. I think he sometimes fused together his 
admiration 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 Lo- 
belii. 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 feel- 
ing came out in abuse as well as in praise — e.g. of some seed- 
lings — ** 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 fi^ 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 intelli- 
gence, and Tommy was often laughed at for the alarm he 
showed at passing and repassing the same heap of hedge- 

* Cf Leslie Stephen's * Swift/ 1882, p. 200, where Swift's inspection of 
the manners and customs of servants are compared to my father's observa- 
tions on worms, " The difference is,'' says Mr. Stephen, " that Darwin had 
none but kindly feelings for worms." 



clippings as he went round the field. I think he used to fe 
surprised at himself, when he remembered how bold a rid( 
he had been, and how utterly old age and bad health ha 
taken away his nerve. He would say that riding preventc 
him thinking much more effectually than walking — that ha^ 
ing to attend to the horse gave him occupation sufficient t 
prevent any really hard thinking. And the change of seer 
which it gave him was good for spirits and health. 

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

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

Luncheon at Down came after his midday walk ; an 
here I may say a word or two about his meals generally. I: 
had a boy-like love of sweets, unluckily for himself, since 1 
was constantly forbidden to take them. He was not particii 
larly successful in keeping the "vows,'* as he called ther 
which he made against eating sweets, and never considerc 
them binding unless he made them aloud. 

He drank very little wine, but enjoyed, and was revive 
by, the little he did drink. He had a horror of drinkin 
and constantly warned his boys that any one might be k 
into drinking too much. I remember, in my innocence as 
small boy, asking him if he had been ever tipsy ; and 1 
answered very gravely that he was ashamed to say he h^ 
once drunk too much at Cambridge. I was much impresse 
so that I know now the place where the question was aske- 

After his lunch, he read the newspaper, lying on the so 


in the drawing-room. I think the paper was the only non- 
scicntific 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 inter- 
est 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 
widespread 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 them 
selves. The unvarying courtesy of them is very striking, 
had a proof of this quality in the feeling with which Mr. Hacon 
his solicitor, regarded him. He had never seen my fathei 
yet had a sincere feeling of friendship for him, and spob 
especially of his letters as being such as a man seldom receive 
in the way of business : — " Everything I did was right, an( 
everything was profusely thanked for." 

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

In money and business matters he was remarkably carefi 
and exact. He kept accounts with great care, classifyin 
them, and balancing at the end of the year like a merchant 
I remember the quick way in which he would reach out fc 
his account-book to enter each cheque paid, as though h 
were in a hurry to get it entered before he had forgotten i 
His father must have allowed him to believe that he woul 
be poorer than he really was, for some of the difficulty expe 
rienced in finding a house in the country must have arise 
from the modest sum he felt prepared to give. Yet he knev 
of course, that he would be in easy circumstances, for in hi 
^ Recollections ' he mentions this as one of the reasons for hi 


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 w^as 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 yearns 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 w^ould 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 a 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 snuff 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 man 
pinches. In one of his early letters he speaks of having give 
up snuff for a month, and describes himself as feeling '' mot 
lethargic, stupid, and melancholy.'* Our former neighbou 
and clergyman, Mr. Brodie Innes, tells me that at one tim 
my father made a resolve not to take snuff except away fror 
home, ^'a most satisfactory arrangement for me,'* he add: 
'^ as I kept a box in my study to which there was access fror 
the garden without summoning servants, and I had more frc 
quently, than might have been otherwise the case, the privileg 
of a few minutes' conversation with my dear friend." H 
generally took snuff from a jar on the hall table, becaus 
having to go this distance for a pinch was a slight check ; th 
clink of the lid of the snuff jar was a very familiar sounc 
Sometimes when he was in the drawing-room, it would occu 
to him that the study fire must be burning low, and whe 
some of us offered to see after it, it would turn out that h 
also wished to get a pinch of snuff. 

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

The reading aloud often sent him to sleep, and he used t 
regret losing parts of a novel, for my mother went steadily o 
lest the cessation of the sound might wake him. He cam 
down at four o'clock to dress for his walk, and he was so re^ 
ular that one might be quite certain it was within a few mir 
utes 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 v/as idle till it w^ 
time (about six) to go up for another rest with novel-readin 
and a cigarette. 

Latterly he gave up late dinner, and had a simple tea i 
half-past seven (while we had dinner), with an egg or a sma 
piece of meat. After dinner he never stayed in the roon 
and used to apologise by saying he was an old woman, wh 



[Fro7n the Century Mag 


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 him- 
self, 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 be- 
lieve, 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 al- 


most 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, when he 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 an 
ticipate 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 appreci- 
ate 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 biogra*phy and a book of travels. He did not 
often read out-of-the-way or old standard books, but gener 
ally kept to the books of the day obtained from a circulating 

I do not think that his literary tastes and opinions were 
on a level with the rest of his mind. He himself, though hei 
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 pict- 
ures 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 like- 
ness. 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 look- 
ing at the Turners in Mr. Ruskin*s bedroom, he did not con- 
fess, 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 cour- 
tesy to his host. He was pleased and amused when subse- 
quently Mr. Ruskin brought him some photographs of pict- 
ures (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 
EngHsh. 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 

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 sen- 
tence and asked for a translation. He certainly had a bad 
ear for vocal sounds, so that he found it impossible to per- 
ceive 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 

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 observa- 
tions, 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 
ilive. I think it was all due to the vitality and persistence of 
lis mind — a quality I have heard him speak of as if he felt 
:hat he was strongly gifted in that respect. Not that he used 
my such phrases as these about himself, but he would say 
that he had the power of keeping a subject or question more 
Dr less before him for a great many years. The extent to 
ivhich he possessed this power appears when we consider the 
[lumber 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 
It any times other than his regular resting hours ; for, as long 
is he remained moderately well, there was no break in the 
regularity of his life. Week-days and Sundays passed by 
ilike, 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 appear- 
ance, even of the most modest kind, was an effort to him. 
In 187 1 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 
remember 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 coulc 
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 

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 Lon- 
don, 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 day! 
instead of six. Even if he were leaving home for no more 
than a week, the packing had to be begun early on the pre- 
vious day, and the chief part of it he would do himself. Th( 
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 wonderfully 
little, considering how much an invalid he was ; and he cer- 
tainly enjoyed it in an almost boyish w^ay, 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] is 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 re- 
turning he was full of the beauty of Rydal Water, though 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 particu- 
larly 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 Farrar. He never was 
quite idle even on these holidays, and found things to ob- 
serve. At Hartfield he watched Drosera catching insects, 
&c. ; at Torquay he observed the fertilisation of an orchid 
{Spiranthes), 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, squeak- 
ing, 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 holi- 
days 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 custom- 
ary 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 peo- 
ple, 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 con- 
siderate, more friendly, more altogether charming than he 
universally was." .... He "never aimed, as too often hap- 
pens 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 
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 contei\^t 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, writ- 
ten 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 1 1 
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 i j 
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 joy- 
ousness 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 touch- 
ing 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 smoothing, 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 movements 
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 exagger- 
ated language, and when I quizzed her by ex2ggerating what 
she had said, how clearly can I now see 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 an- 
gelic. She never once complained ; 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 every- 
thing 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 ! Bless- 
ings 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 especially 
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 hu- 
mility concerning what was in any way connected 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 wTote a letter, or read a 
page aloud to him, without receiving a few kind words of 
recognition. His love and goodness towards his little grand- 
son Bernard were great ; and he often spoke of the pleasure 
it was to him to see " his little face opposite to him " at lunch- 
eon. He and Bernard used to compare their tastes ; e. g.y in 
liking brown sugar better than white, &c.; the result being, 
^* We always agree, don't we 1 " 


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 horsehair 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 Shrews- 
bury 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 lectxires on the 

" 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- 
alities of my many cats, and would talk about the habits and 
characters of the more remarkable ones years after they had 

"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 we were doing or thinking unless we wished to 
tell. He always made us feel that we were each of us creat- 
ures 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 quali- 
ties, 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 exalta- 
tion 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 him- 
self 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 


advantage. 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 him- 
self. If, however, they were not deterred, he used to arrange 
their journeys for them, telling them when to come, and prac- 
tically 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 see- 
ing. 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 w^iole visit. Professor De 
CandoUe has described a visit to Down, in his admirable and 
sympathetic sketch of my father.* He speaks of his manner 
as resembling that of a *' savant " of Oxford or Cambridge. 

* * Darwin considere au point de vue des causes de son succ^s.' — 
Geneva, 1882. 



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 pretence 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 paren- 
thesis, 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 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- 
tion of raillery and deference in his manner was delightful 
to see. 

When my father had several guests he managed them well, 
getting a talk with each, or bringing two or three together 

* My father related a Johnsonian answer of Erasmus Darwin's : " Don't 
you find it very inconvenient stammering, Dr. Darwin ? " " No, sir, be- 
cause I have time to think before I speak, and don't ask impertinent ques- 


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 ele- 
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 
'I 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 
1 thirty years. He took much trouble about the club, keep- 
ing its accounts with minute and scrupulous exactness, and 
I taking pleasure in its prosperous condition. Every Whit- 
j Monday the club used to march round with band and banner, 
I and paraded on the lawn in front of the house. There he met 
I them, and explained to them their financial position in a little 
speech seasoned with a few well worn jokes. He v/as 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 Magis- 

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 
Institution, "the whole assembly . . . rose to their feet to 
welcome him," while he seemed " scarcely conscious that 
such an outburst of applause could possibly be intended for 
himself." The quiet life he led at Down made him feel con- 
fused in a large society ; for instance, at the Royal Society's 
soirees he felt oppressed by the numbers. The feeling that he 
ought to know people, and the difficulty he had in remember- 
ing faces in his latter years, also added to his discomfort on 

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

WORK. 121 

such occasions. He did not realise that he would be recog- 
nised from his photographs, and I remember his being uneasy 
at being obviously recognised by a stranger at the Crystal 
Palace Aquarium. 

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 
lie suddenly stopped in dictating, with the words, '' I believe 
[ mustn't do any more.'* The same eager desire not to lose 
rime 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, 
md not with any drag. I have an image, too, of him as he 
recorded the result of some experiment, looking eagerly at 
sach root, &c., and then writing with equal eagerness. I 
remember the quick movement of his head up and down as 
lie 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 con- 
fine himself to observing the single point to which the experi- 
ment was directed, and his power of seeing a number of other 
things was wonderful. I do not think he cared for prelimi- 
nary or rough observation 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 sus- 
pects the work of a man who never uses the simple micro- 

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," "preparations for 
specimens," &c. The most marked peculiarity of the con- 
tents 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 germi- 
nating seeds, zinc labels, saucers full of sand, &c., &c. Con- 
sidering how tidy and methodical he was in essential things, 
it is curious that he bore with so many make-shifts : for in- 
stance, 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 
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 capsules, 
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 de- 
tails 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 were 
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 mi- 
crometers differed from the other. He did not require any 
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 forgot- 
ten 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 f 
rough scales. A trifling example of his faith in authority is 
that he took his '' inch in terms of millimeters *' from an old 

WORK. j2- 

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 exam- 
ples 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 appar- 
ently 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 
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 

Another quality which was shown in his experimental 
works 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 of 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 
j better than perseverance. Perseverance seems hardly to ex- 
1 press 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 exam- 
ple 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 there- 
fore 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 work- 
ing upon the * Variations of Animals and Plants,' in 1 860-6 r, 
he made out the fertilisation of Orchids, and thought himself 
idle for giving so much time to them. It is interesting to 
think that so important a piece of research should have been 

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



undertaken and largely worked out as a pastime in place of 
more serious work. The letters to Hooker of this period con- 
tain expressions such as, '' God forgive me for being so idle ; 
I am quite sillily interested in this work/' The intense pleas- 
ure 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 ^ Recollec- 
tions ' the strong satisfaction he felt in solving the problem of 
heterostylism. And I have heard him mention that the Geol- 
ogy 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 

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 happened 
to Mailer's ' Befruchtung,' he preserved it from complete dis- 
solution by putting a metal clip over its back. In the same 
way he would cut a heavy book in half, to make it more con- 
venient to hold. He used to boast that he made Lyell pub- 
lish the second edition of one of his books in two volumes in- 
stead of in one, by telling him how he had been obliged to 
cut it in half. Pamphlets were often treated even more severe- 
ly 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 orna- 
mental, 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 an- 
other 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 transferred to 


the other heap, either marked with a cypher at the end, to 
show that it contained no marked passages, or inscribed, per- 
haps, ^^ not read,'' or " only skimmed." The books accumu- 
lated in the ^* read " heap until the shelves overflowed, and 
then, with much lamenting, a day was given up to the cata- 
loguing. He disliked this work, and as the necessity of under- 
taking the work became imperative, would often say, in a 
voice of despair, "We really must do these books soon.'* 

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

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 de- 
scribes 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" 

* The racks on which the portfolios were placed are shown in the illus- 
tration at the head of the chapter, in the recess at the right-hand side of 
the fire-place. ^ 



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 loss 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 Xife of Erasmus Darwin,* 
as it was first printed in slips, the growth of the book from a 
skeleton was plainly visible. The arrangement was altered 
afterwards, because it was too formal and categorical^ and 
seemed to give the character of his grandfather rather by 
means of a list of qualities than as a complete picture. 

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 
li intervals, the lines being needed to prevent him writing so 
I closely that correction became difficult. The fair copy was 
then corrected, and was recopied before being sent to the 
I 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 
correction 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. Litchfied, 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 that 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 obscu- 
rities 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 

STYLE. 131 

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 laugh- 
ing 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 
characteristic of himself in its simplicity, bordering on naivete, 
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 had 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 the 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 illustra- 
tions 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,' * Insec- 
tivorous 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 well 
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 looked closely at 
the drawing, and easily detected mistakes or carelessness. 

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, 1*11 write a 
duodecimo.' " 

His consideration for other authors was as marked a char- 
acteristic 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 lax- 
ness 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 departing from his ideal — a love of truth and careless- 
ness 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 contribu- 
tion 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 ^ Origin ' it is evident that he was over- 
whelmingly 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 forestall- 
ing 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 
' Recollections ' of Mr. Wallace's self-annihilation. 

His feeling about reclamations, including answers to at- 
tacks and all kinds of discussions, was strong. It is simply 
expressed 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 discussions * to the advice of Lyell, — advice which 
he transmitted to those among his friends who were given to 
paper warfare. 

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 suffering. 
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 pleas- 
ure in what pleased them. Thus, in later life, their percep- 
tion of what he endured had to be disentangled from the 
impression produced in childhood by constant genial kind- 
ness under conditions of unrecognised difficulty. No one 
indeed, except my mother, knows the full amount of 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 hesi- 
tate to speak thus freely of a thing so sacred as the life-long 

* He departed from his rule in his ** Note on the Habits of the Pampas 
Woodpecker, Colaptes campesUisy' ' Proc. Zool. Soc./ 1870, p. 705 : also in 
a letter published in the * Athenaeum' (1863, p. 554), in which case he 
afterwards regretted that he had not remained silent. His replies to criti- 
cisms, in the later editions of the * Origin,' can hardly be classed as infrac- 
tions of his rule. 


devotion which prompted all this constant 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. 


■B 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. 




[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 '^admis- 
sus 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 sea- 
son, 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, f 

* " On Tuesday last Charles Danvin, of Christ's College, was admitted 
B.A." — Cambridge Chronicle, Friday, April 29, 1S31. 

t The rooms are on the first floor, on the west side of the middle stair- 
case. A medallion (given by my brother) has recently been let into the 
wall of the sitting-room. 

J .Q CAMBRIDGE. ^TAT. 19-22. 

What determined the choice of this college for his brother 
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 dis- 
cipline of the place. A story told by Mr. Herbert * illustrates 
the same state of things : — 

"In the beginning of the October Term of 1830, an inci- 
dent occurred which was attended with somewhat disagree- 
able, 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 per- 
fect ferment among my friends, but was the subject of expostu- 
lation from some of the leading members of the University." 
. My father seems to have found no difficulty in living at 

* See p. 42. 



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 fhe 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 associating 
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 A/ma 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 
his contemporaries. Mr. Herbert writes : ** I think it was in 
the spring of 1828 that I first met Darwin, either at my 

142 CAMBRIDGE. .ETAT. 19-22. 

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 
Betterton 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 remem- 
bered 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 cursory 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 
affectionate of friends ; that his sympathies were with all that 
was good and true; and that he had a cordial hatred for 
everything 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 suifering, 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 previous day;; 
and that it had made and left such a painful impression on 
his mind, that he could not reconcile it to his conscience toj 
continue to derive pleasure from a sport w^hich 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 


Another anecdote told by Mr. Herbert illustrates again 

his tenderness of heart: — 

'* When at Barmouth he and I went to an exhibition of 
Mearned 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 performing 
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 
t left on my mind the conviction that a more humane or tender- 
hearted man never lived." 

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 

* * Recollections,* p. 34. 

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

lAA CAMBRIDGE. ^TAT. 19-22. 

rejoicing enthusiasm. Entomology, riding, shooting in the 
fens, suppers and card-playing, music at King's Chapel, en- 
gravings 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 re- 
lates how, during the same Barmouth summer, he was pressed 
into the service of " the science '' — as my father called col- 
lecting beetles. They took their daily walks together among 
the hills behind Barmouth, or boated in the Mawddach estu- 
ary, or sailed to Sam Badrig to land there at low water, or 
went fly-fishing in the Cors-y-gedol lakes. *^ On these occa- 
sions Darwin entomologized 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 con- 
stitutional walks ; but alas ! my powers of discrimination sel- 
dom enabled me to secure a prize — the usual result, on his 
examining the contents of my bottle, being an exclamation, 
* Well, old Cherbury ' * (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 
between Cambridge and Grantchester, and speaks of a certain 
beetle the remembrance of whose name is " Crux major." f 
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 vege- 

* No doubt in allusion to the title of Lord Herbert of Cherbury. 
f FanagcBus crux-major. 


tation of all sorts. Nor do I forget the way and the vehe- 
mence with which he rubbed his chin when he got excited 
on such subjects, and discoursed eloquently of lianas, or- 
chids, &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 
upper 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, 
ailed the Gourmet ^ Club, the members, besides himself and 
Mr. Herbert (from whom I quote), being Whitley of St. John's, 
ow Honorary Canon of Durham ; f 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 J (now Sherbrooke) of 
Trinity Hall ; and Watkins of Emmanuel, now Archdeacon 
Df York. The origin of the club's name seems already to 
lave become involved in obscurity. Mr. Herbert says that it 
iivas chosen in derision of another '' set of men who called 
hemselves by along Greek name signifying ' fond of dainties,' 
ut who falsified their claim to such a designation by their 
eekly practice of dining at some roadside inn, six miles from 
ambridge, on mutton chops or beans and bacon." Another 
)ld member of the club tells me that the name arose because 
:he members were given to making experiments on '^ birds 
|ind beasts, which were before unknown to human palate." 
e says that hawk and bittern were tried, and that their zeal 
roke down over an old brown owl, '' which was indescrib- 
ble." At any rate, the meetings seemed to have been suc- 
cessful, and to have ended with '' a game of mild vingt-et-un." 

* Mr. Herbert mentions the name as * The Glutton Club.' 
f Formerly Reader in Natural Philosophy at Durham University. 
X Brother of Lord Sherbrooke. 

1^6 CAMBRIDGE. ^TAT. 19-22. 

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 sym- 
phony or overture of Mozart's or Beethoven's, with their full 
harmonies. On one occasion Herbert remembers " accom- 
panying 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 Ra- 
phael Morghen and Miiller ; and he spent hours in the Fitz- 
william Museum in looking over the prints in that collection." 

My father's letters to Fox show how sorely oppressed 
he felt by the reading of 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- 
matics ; and if you are, God help you, for 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 im- 
agine, no natural turn for mathematics, and he gave up his 
mathematical 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 his letters to Fox of my 
father's intention of going into the Church. '^ I am glad," 
he writes,* " to hear that you are reading divinity. I should 

* March 18, 1829. 

W. D. FOX. 147 

like to know what books you are reading, and your opinions 
about them ; you need not be afraid of preaching to me pre- 
maturely.** 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 

*^ 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 
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 Delamere 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.] 

148 CAMBRIDGE. ^TAT. 19-22. [182S. 

C. Darwin to J. M, Herbert. 

Saturday Evening 

[September 14, 1828]."^ 

My dear old Cherbury, 

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 speci- 
mens 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 cf the crack entomol- 

But now for business. Several vaoxQ specimens, if you can 
procure them without much trouble, of the following insects: — 
The violet-black coloured beetle, found on Craig Storm,f 
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 
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-col- 
oured is that which I want. These last two insects are ex- 
cessively rare^ and you will really extremely oblige me by taking 
all this trouble pretty soon. Remember me most kindly to 

* The postmark being Derby seems to show that the letter was written 
from his cousin, W. D. Fox's house, Osmaston, near Derby. 

f The top of the hill immediately behind Barmouth was called Craig- 
Storm, a hybrid Cambro-English word. 

1829] SHOOTING. I^g 

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 

know that you and Butler were so, I would not think of giving 

you so much trouble. 

Believe me, my dear Herbert, 

Yours, most sincerely, 

Charles Darwin. 
Remember me to all friends. 

[In the following January we find him looking forward 
with pleasure to the beginning of another year of his Cam- 
bridge 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 
misery), to join in all the glory and happiness, which dangers 

I50 CAMBRIDGE. ^TAT. 19-22. [1829. 

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. Darwin to W, D. Fox, 

Cambridge, Thursday [February 26, 1S29]. 

My dear Fox, 

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 
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 

On Monday evening I drank tea with Stephens ; f his 

* Founder of the Chair of Zoology at Oxford. 
. t J- F. Stephens, author of * A Manual of British Colcoptera/ 1839: 
and other works. 

1829.] SHOOTING. 151 

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 of 
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. 

* * 4V * * 

Believe me, 

• My dear old Fox, 

Most sincerely yours, 

C. Darwin. 

[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 Sim- 
cox 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 disposi- 
tions. They have been giving some very gay parties, nearly 
sixty men there both evenings."] 

152 CAMBRIDGE. .-ETAT. 19-22. [1829. 

C. Darwin to W. £>. Fox. 

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

My dear Fox, 

In your letter to Holden you aie pleased to observe '^that 
of all the blackguards you ever met with I am the greatest.'* 
Upon this observation I shall make no remarks, excepting 
that I must give you all due credit for acting on it most rig- 
idly. 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 1 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 

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 

1829.] CONDOLENCE. 1 53 

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. 

C Darwin to W. D. Fox, 

[Cambridge, Thursday, April 23, 1829.] 

My dear Fox, 

I have delayed answering your last letter for these few 
days, as I thought that under such melancholy circumstances 
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 must 
appear, although it be as heartfelt and sincere, as I hope you 
believe me capable of feeling. At such a time of deep dis- 
tress I will say nothing more, excepting that I trust your father 
and Mrs. Fox bear this blow as well as, under such circum- 
stances, 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, 

Charles Darwin. 

C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

Shrewsbury, Friday [July 4, 1829]. 

My dear Fox, 

I should have written to you before only that whilst our 
expedition lasted I was too much engaged, and the conclu- 

* The death of Fox's sister, Mrs. Bristowe. 

154 CAMBRIDGE. ^TAT. 19-22. [182Q. 

sion was so unfortunate, that I was too unhappy to write to 
you till this week's quiet at home. The thoughts of Wood- 
house 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 un- 
fortunate situation : I am determined I will go over the 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, 

Chas. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to W. B, 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 
I 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 nie 

* Probably with eczema, from which he often suffered. 

1829.1 MUSIC. i»55 

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. 

C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

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

My dear Fox, 

I am afraid you will be very angry with me for not having 
written during the Music Meeting, but really I was 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 * was 
the most glorious thing I ever experienced ; and as for Mali- 
bran, 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 \ acted ^ II Fanatico ' in character ; be- 
ing 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 

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

156 CAMBRIDGE, .-ETAT. 19-22. [1830. 

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]. 
My dear Fox, 

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 
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 or- 
dained, 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, 

C. Darwin. 

[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 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 entomologising. 
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.] 

My dear Fox, 

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 
plagae of getting up all my subjects is next thing to intoler- 
able. Henslow is my tutor, and a most admirable -oxi^ he 
makes ; the hour with him is the pleasantest in the whole day. 

158 CAMBRIDGE. ^TAT. iq-22. [1831. 

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 con- 
sequence 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 has 
some curious religious opinions. I never perceived anything 
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 com- 
mandments 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, 

Charles Darwin. 

C. Darwin to W, D. Fox. 

Cambridge, Sunday, January 23, 1831. 

My dear Fox, 

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 ; 

i83i.] DEGREE. Ijg 

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 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 degree. 

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, 

Chas. Darwin. 

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



[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 
commence, and it shall be as a birthday for the rest of my 

The circumstances which led to this second birth — so 
much more important than my father then imagined — are con- 
nected with his Cambridge life, but may be more appropri 
ately told in the present chapter. Foremost in the chain of 
circumstances 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 contain a brief record 
of dates, &c., throughout his life : — 

*^i83i. Christmas, — Passed my examination for B. A. de- 
gree and kept the two following terms. 

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

'^ In the spring paid Mr. Davv'es a visit with Ramsay and 
Kirby, and talked over an excursion to Teneriffe. In the 

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





spring Henslow persuaded me to think of Geology, and intro- 
[iduced me to Sedgwick. During Midsummer geologised a 
little in Shropshire. 

^'August. — Went on Geological tour* by Llangollen, 
Ruthin, Conway, Bangor, and Capel Curig, where I left Pro- 
fessor Sedgwick, 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 knowledge. Before I saw him, I heard one young man 
sum up his attaintments by simply saying that he knew every- 
thing. When I reflect how immediately we felt at perfect ease 
with a man older, and in every way so immensely our superior, 
I think it was as much owing to the transparent sincerity of 

* Mentioned by Sedgwick in his preface to Salter's 'Catalogue of Cam- 
brian and Silurian Fossils,' 1873. 

t * Memoir of the Rev. John Stevens Henslow, M. A.,' by the Rev. 
Leonard Jenyns. 8vo. London, 1862, p. 51. 


his character as to his kindness of heart ; and, perhaps, even 
still more, to a highly remarkable absence in him of all self- 
consciousness. One perceived at once that he never thought 
of his own varied knowledge or clear intellect, but solely on 
the subject in hand. Another charm, which must have struck 
every one, w^as 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 w^ay 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 So- 
cieties do in London. At these parties many of the most 
distinguished members of the University occasionally attend- 
ed ; and when only a few were present, I have listened to 
the great men of those days, conversing on all sorts of sub- 
jects, with the most varied and brilliant powers. This was 
no small advantage to some of the younger men, as it stimu- 
lated their mental activity and ambition, Tw^o 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 deHghtful impression on my 
mind. He was, on such occasions, in as good spirits as a 
boy, and laughed as heartily as a boy at the misadventures 



Df those who chased the splendid swallow-tail butterflies 
across the broken and treacherous fens. He used to pause 
ivery now and then to lecture on some plant or other object ; 
.nd something he could tell us on every insect, shell, or fossil 
ollected, for he had attended to every branch of natural 
listory. After our day's work we used to dine at some 
nn or house, and most jovial we then were. I believe 
ill who joined these excursions will agree with me that 
they have left an enduring impression of delight on our 
'^ As time passed on at Cambridge I became very inti- 
nate with Professor Henslow, and his kindness was un- 
bounded ; he continually asked me to his house, and allowed 
e to accompany him in his walks. He talked on all sub- 
ects, 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 
3altry 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 
3lay, no power on earth could have turned him one hair's- 
Dreadth. . . . 

*^ Reflecting over his character with gratitude and rever- 
[ence, 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 feelings 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 


interested 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 

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 impor- 
tance 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 for but 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 
this Tour. 

There too we read of the projected excursion to the Ca- 



naries, of which slight mention occurs in letters to Fox and 

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, 
Teneriffe 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 grandisimo 
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 con- 
tinue to fan your Canary ardour. I read and re-read Hum- 
boldt ; 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. 

" Septe77iber. — Went to Maer, returned with Uncle Jos. to 
Shrewsbury, thence to Cambridge. London. 

" 11^^. — Went with Captain Fitz-Roy in steamer to Plym- 
' I outh to see the Beagle. 

" 22nd, — Returned to Shrewsbury, passing through Cam- 
j bridge. 



** October 2nd. — Took leave of my heme. Stayed in 

'^ 24/^. — Reached Plymouth. 

^' October and November. — These months very miserable. 

^^ December 10th. — Sailed, but were obliged to put back. 

" 21^/. — Put to sea again, and were driven back. 

"27/^. — Sailed from England on our Circumnavigation." 

George Peacock * to J. S. Henslow. 

7 Suffolk Street, Pall Mall East. 


My dear Henslow, 

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 Archi- 
pelago. The vessel is fitted out expressly for scientific pur- 
poses, combined with the survey ; it will furnish, therefore, a 
rare opportunity for a naturalist, and it would be a great mis- 
fortune 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- 
tion. Do think of this subject, it would be a serious loss to 
the cause of natural science if this fine opportunity was lost. 
* * * ^ * 

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

i83i.] THE OFFER. 167 

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, 

George Peacock. 

J. S. Hensloiv to C. Darwin. 

Cambridge, August 24, 1831. 

My dear Darwin, 

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 consider 
you to be the best qualified person I know of who is likely to 
undertake such a situation. I state this not in the supposi- 
tion of your being di 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, how^ever good 
a 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 

l68 APPOINTMENT TO THE 'BEAGLE.' ^.TAT. 22. [1831. 

never was a finer chance for a man of zeal and spirit ; Cap- 
tain Fitz-Roy is a young man. What I wish you to do is in- 
stantly 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 your- 
self to be tapped on the shoulder by your bum-bailiff and 
affectionate friend, 

J. S. Henslow. 

The expedition is to sail on 25th September (at earliest), 
so there is no time to be lost. 

G. Peacock to C. Darwin. 

My dear Sir, 

I received Henslow's letter last night too late to forward 
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 opportu- 
nity which should not be lost, and I look forward with great 
interest to the benefit which our collections of Natural His- 
tory may receive from your labors. 

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 in- 
stance, 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 sci- 
entific 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 

1831.] THE OFFER REFUSED. l6g 

Captain Beechey,* and spent ;^i5oo in bringing over and 
educating at his own charge three natives of Patagonia. He 
engages at his own expense an artist at ;^2oo 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, 

George Peacock. 

C. Darwin to J. S. Henslow, 

Shrewsbury, Tuesday [August 30?, 1831]. 

My dear Sir, 

Mr. Peacock's letter arrived on Saturday, and I received 
it late yesterday evening. As far as my own mind is con- 
cerned, I should, I think certainly^ most gladly have accepted 
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 com- 
fortable if I did not follow it. 

My father's objections are these : the unfitting me to 

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



settle down as a Clergyman, my little habit cf seafaring, //le 
shortness of the tiine^ 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, 

Ch. Darwin. 

I have written to Mr. Peacock, and I mentioned that I 
have asked you to send one line in the chance of his not 
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 a^ds a little to the 
heavy but pleasant load of gratitude which I owe to you. 

C. Darwin to R. W. Darwin. 

[Maer] August 31, [1831]. 

My dear Father, 

I am afraid I am going to make you again very uncom- 
fortable. 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 judgment, and to 
the kindest indulgence you have shown me all through my 
life ; and you may rely upon it I will never mention the sub- 
ject again. If your answer should be yes ; I will go directly 
to Henslowand consult deliberately with him, and then come 
to Shrewsbury. 

The danger appears to me and all the Wedgwoods not 
great. The expense cannot 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- 

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, 

Charles Darwin. 

Josiah Wedgwood. 


[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.] 

Josiah Wedg7vood to R. IV. Darwin, 

Maer, August 31, 183I. 

[Read this last.]* 

My dear Doctor, 

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 

In C. Darwin's writing. 


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 
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 ap- 
pointed 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, 
JosiAH Wedgwood. 


C. Darwin to J. S. He7isloii). 

Cambridge, Red Lion [Sept. 2], 183T. 

My dear Sir, 

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. 



C. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to Miss Susan Darwin. 

Cambridge, Sunday Morning [September 4]. 

My dear Susan, 

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 w^ith 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 two livings, 
he did not think it right to leave them — to the great regret of 
all his family. Henslow himself was not very far from accept- 
ing 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 Beau- 
fort and Fitz-Roy. Good-bye. You will hear from me con- 
stantly. Direct 17 Spring Gardens. Tell nobody in Shrop- 
shire yet. Be sure not. 

C. Darwin. 

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, 1831J. 

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 P'itz-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 had acted very 
wrong 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. Cap- 
tain 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, v/ho 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 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 uncom- 
fortable, 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 see the 

There is something most extremely attractive in his man- 
ners 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 the mess the same as [the] 
Captain does himself, ;^30 per annum ; and Fitz-Roy says if 
I spend, including my outfitting, ;^5oo, 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 

i83i.] CAPTAIN FITZ-ROY. 1 77 

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 assist- 
ance ; 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 understand 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 proceeding. 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 writ- 
ing in [a] great hurry ; I do not know whether you take inter- 
est 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. 

Ch. Darwin. 

1^8 APPOINTMENT TO THE 'BEAGLE.' ^TAT. 22. [1831. 

C Darwin to J. S, Henslow. 

London, Monday, [September 5, 1831J. 

My dear Sir, 

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 in- 
clined, 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 re- 

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 

1831.] W. D. FOX. 


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, 

Chas, Darwin. 
Excuse this letter in such a hurry. 

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 I 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. On 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 

* He had misunderstood a letter of Fox's as implying a charge of false- 

l8o APPOINTMENT TO THE » BEAGLE.' ^TAT. 22. [1831. 

many more such, will be one of my last wishes in leaving 

England. God bless you, dear old Fox. May you always 

be happy. 

Yours truly, 

Chas. Darwin. 

I have left your letter behind, so do not know whether I 
direct right. 

C. Darwin to Miss Susan Darwin. 

17 Spring Gardens, Tuesday, 

[September 6, 1831.] 

My dear Susan, 

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 1 
my commissions. Tell Nancy to make me some twelve j 
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 w^alking-shoes, my 
Spanish books, my new microscope (about six inches long 
and three or four deep), which must have cotton stuffed in- 
side ; 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 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- 

i83i.] PREPARATIONS. igl 

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 troub- 
ling 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 Susan. 

C. Darwin. 

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. 

My dear Susan, 

I have just received the parcel. I suppose it was not de- 
livered 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 

1 82 APPOINTMENT TO THE 'BEAGLE.' ^TAT. 22. [1831. 

on the books for victuals, and he thinks I shall have no diffi- 
culty 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 plagu- 
ing Captain Beaufort, it stirs him up with a long pole. Cap- 
tain Fitz-Roy says he is sure he has interest enough (particu- 
larly 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 
presume the Dukes of Grafton and Richmond interest them- 
selves about him. By the way. Wood has been of the great- 
est 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 some- 
body 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 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 construct without 
crossing the Equator. But one friend is quite invaluable, viz., 
a Mr. Yarrell, a stationer, and excellent naturalist."* He goes 

* William Yarrell, well known for his ' History of British Birds ' and 
* History of British Fishes,' was born in 1784. He inherited from his 

i83i.] THE SHOPS SHUT. ig^ 

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 noth- 
ing; and I was child enough to give ;£i li*. for an excellent 
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, mak- 
ing 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 go- 
ing 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, 
crowns, anchors, and "W. R.'s " were repeated in endless 

father a newsagent's business, to which he steadily adhered up to his death, 
*' in his 73rd year." He was a man of a thoroughly amiable and honour- 
able character, and was a valued office-bearer of several of the learned 

* The Coronation of William IV. 

1 84 APPOINTMENT TO THE 'BEAGLE.' ^TAT. 22. [1831. 

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. 

Yox 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 offi- 
cers are 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 untoward 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 excel- 
lent rifle for ;^5o, there is a saving ; a good telescope, with 
compass, ;^5, and these are nearly the only expensive instru- 
ments I shall want. Captain Fitz-Roy has everything. I 
never saw so (what I should call, he says not) extravagant a 
man, as regards himself, but as economical towards me. How 
he did order things ! His fire-arms will cost ;^4oo 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 ham- 
mers or cocks, 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 

1831] VISIT TO PLYMOUTH. 1 85 

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, Shrews- 
bury, London, Plymouth, 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 ex- 
pedition will suit me. Unasked, he said Fitz-Roy's temper 
was perfect. He sends his own son with him as midship- 
man. The key of my microscope was forgotten ; it is of no 
consequence. Love to all. 

Chas. Darwin. 

C, Darwin to W, D. Fox, 

17 Spring Gardens (and here I shall remain till I start) 

[September ig, 1831]. 

My dear Fox, 

I returned from my expedition to see the Beagle at Plym- 
outh on Saturday, and found your most welcome letter 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 

* * ^ Hi * 

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 
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 

1 86 APPOINTMENT TO THE 'BEAGLE.' .^TAT. 22. [1831. 

20th 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 
landsman'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 ist 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 com- 
ing 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 mo- 
ments of glorious enthusiasm, when I think of the date and 
cocoa-trees, the palms and ferns so lofty and beautiful, every- 
thing new, everything sublime. And if I live to see years 
in after life, how grand must such recollections be ! Do 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, 

Chas. Darwin. 

1831.] BAROMETERS. jg^ 

C. Darwin to R. Fitz-Roy. 

17 Spring Gardens [October 17 ? 1831]. 

Dear Fitz-Roy, 

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 at- 
tending to the name. But I have now procured some from 
Jones, which appears very good, and I will send it this even- 
ing by the mail. You will be surprised at not seeing me 
propria persona 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 39-40ths 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, 
but will you send one line to inform me .^ I am daily becoming 
more anxious to be off, and, if I am so, you must be in a per- 
fect 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, 

Chas. Darwin. 

Monday. — I hope I have not put you to much inconven- 
ience by ordering the room in readiness. 


C. Darwi77 to J. S. Henslow, 

Devonport, November 15, 1831. 
My dear Henslow, 

The orders are come down from the Admiralty, and every- 
thing 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 accommodations. The in- 
structions are very general, and leave a great deal to the 
Captain's discretion and judgment, paying a substantial as 
well as a verbal compliment to him. 


No vessel ever left England with such a set of Chronom- 
eters, 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 natu- 
ral history that has ever occurred. The absolute want of 
room is an evil that nothing can surmount. I think L. Jenyns 
did 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 differ- 
ent. 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 Mathematicis. 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. 

i83i.] DEVENPORT. igg 

My time passes away very pleasantly. I know one or two 
pleasant people, foremost of whom is Mr. Thunder-and-light- 
ning Harris,* whom 1 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 ;^3o 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, 

Chas. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to J. S. Ilenslow. 

Devonport, December 3, 1831. 

My dear Henslow, 

It is now late in the evening, and to-night I am going 

to sleep on board. On Monday we most certainly sail, so 
I you may guess in what a desperate state of confusion we are 
[ all in. If you were to hear the various exclamations of the 
I 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 
1 things to be done is infinite. I look forward even to sea-sick- 
j ness with something like satisfaction, anything must be better 

than this state of anxiety. I am very much obliged for your 

* William Snow Harris, the Electrician. 


last kind and affectionate letter. I always like advice from 
you, and no one whom I have the luck to know is more capa- 
ble of giving it than yourself. Recollect, when you write, 
that I am a sort oi protege oi 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. 1 
long for the time when we shall again meet, and till then be- 
lieve me, my dear Henslow, 

Your affectionate and obliged friend, 

Ch. Darwin. 

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 com- 
plete the Survey of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego^ com- 
menced under Captain King in 1826 to 1830; to survey the 
shores of Chile, Peru, and some island 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- 

1 warks were high in proportion to their size, so that a heavy 
sea breaking over them might be highly dangerous. Never- 

Ij theless, she lived through the five years' work, in the most 
stormy regions in the world, under Commanders Stokes and 

I Fitz-Roy, without a serious accident. When re-commissioned 
in 1 83 1 for her second voyage, she was found (as I learn from 
Admiral Sir James Sulivan) to be so rotten that she had 

I 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. Twenty-four chronometers. The whole ship is fitted 
up with mahogany; she is the admiration of the whole place. 
In short, everything is as prosperous as human means can 
make it.'* 

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, dress- 
ing, and sleeping; the hammock being left hanging over his 
head by day, when the sea was at all rough, that he might He 
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, with- 
out which there was not length for it, so then the foot-clews 
took the place of the top drawer. For specimens 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, certainly 
next best to the Captain's and remarkably light. My com- 
panion most luckily, I think, will turn out to be the ofificer 
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 ham- 
mocks. 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 of 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 ; /. ^., taking care of the min- 

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 ;^iioo, 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 compelled to 
bear the loss himself, and it was only after his death 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 
I the ship for weeks together, and this in a climate, where 
the crews were exposed to severe hardships 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- 


194 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 22. 

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 off 
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 wanj: 
more ? Judge Alderson could not be more temperate, as 
nothing but water comes on the table. At five we have tea 
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 
*^ Commander 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, twc 
midshipmen, master's mate, a volunteer (ist class), purser, 
carpenter, clerk, boatswain, eight marines, thirty-four seamen 
and six boys. 

There are not, I believe, many survivors of my father's old 
ship-mates. Admiral Mellersh, Mr. Hamond, and Mr. Philif 

* Either one or both were on the books for victuals. 


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 
remembered 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 ^n^ 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 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 w^as 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. Certainly 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." 

* His other nickname was ** The Flycatcher." I have heard my father 
tell how he overheard the boatsv/ain of the Beagle showing another boat- 
swain over the ship, and pointing out the officers : " That's our first lieu- 
tenant ; that's our doctor ; that's our flycatcher.*' 

1^6 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 22. 

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 men, and especially of Wickham, the first lieutenant, as a 
*^ glorious fellow.'* The latter being responsible for the 
smartness 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 

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 

* * Voyage of the Adveitture and Beagle ^^ vol. ii. p. 2T. 


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-end- 
ing 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 uncomfortable when 
the vessel pitched at all heavily. But, judging from his let- 
ters, 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 suffer 
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 horizontal 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 Beagle's voyage." 

Mf. a. B. Usborne whites, ^' 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 ob- 
servations 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 Amer- 
ica, when he was received into the house of an Englishman, 
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 to 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 

The Beagle letters give ample proof of his strong love of 
home, 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 
him 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 opposite 
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 Beagle's 
voyage, now that the small disagreeable parts are well-nigh 
forgotten, I think it far the most fortunate circwnstance 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 w^ay 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.] 

200 THE VOYAGE. ^ETAT. 23. [1832. 

C, Darwin to R. W. Darwm, 

Bahia, or San Salvador, Brazils 

[February 8, 1832]. 
I find after the first page I have been writing 
to my sisters. 

My dear Father, 

I 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 consequences — a heavy sea. In 
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 be- 
gins 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 

i832.] PEAK OF TENERIFFE. 201 

of fresh fruits growing in beautiful valleys, and reading Hum- 
boldt's descriptions of the island's glorious views, when per- 
liaps you may nearly guess at our disappointment, when a 
small pale man informed us we must perform a strict quaran- 
tine 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 place. 

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. Te// 
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 not make 
the attempt. From Teneriffe to St. Jago the voyage 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 delight- 
ful and clear, that the sky and water together made a picture. 
On the 1 6th 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 ; exceed- 
ingly busy, and that business both a duty and a great delight. 
I do not believe I have spent one half-hour idly since leaving 
Tenerift'e. St. Jago has afforded me an exceedingly rich har- 
vest in several branches of Natural History. I find the de- 
scriptions 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 dur- 
ng 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 dissimi- 
larity 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 col- 
lections are increasing wonderfully, and from Rio I think I 
shall be obliged to send a cargo home. 

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 
counsellors I certainly found good. I find to my great sur- 
prise 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 
loth 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 
opportunity. We have been singularly unlucky in not meet- 
ing with any homeward-bound vessels, but I suppose [at] 
Bahia we certainly shall be able to v/rite to England. Since 
writing the first part of [this] letter nothing has occurred 
except crossing the Equator, and being shaved. This most 
disagreeable operation consists in having your face rubbed 
with paint and tar, which forms a lather for a saw which repre- 
sents 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 un- 
used 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 
[Brazilians] 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. 

204 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 23. [1832. 

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 
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 im- 
possibility that any description should come near the mark, 
much less be overdrawn. 

March \st, — 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 Tener- 
iffe. My feelings amount to admiration the more I read him* 

i832.] LIFE AT SEA. 


Tell Eyton (I find I am writing to my sisters !) how exceed- 
ingly 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 12th we 
start for Rio, but we remain some time on the way in sound- 
ing 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 w^ill 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 
Maer to let them know, that in the midst of the glorious 
tropical scenery, I do not forget how instrumental they were 

2o6 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 23. L1S32. 

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 
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, 

Charles Darwin. 

C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

Botofogo Bay, near Rio de Janeiro, 

May, 1832. 

My dear Fox, 

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 collec- 
tions go on admirably in almost every branch. As for in- 
sects, 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 occu- 
pied 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. 

i832.] RIO. 207 

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 ; 
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 viev/s 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 haw- 
thorn-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, 

Chas. Darwin. 

208 THE VOYAGE. .ETAT. 23. [1832. 

C Darwin to J. S. Henslow. 

Rio de Janeiro, May 18, 1832. 

My dear Henslow, 


Till arriving at Teneriffe (we did not touch at Madeira) 
I was scarcely out of my hammock, and really suffered 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 quarantine. 
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 interest- 
ing, 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. 

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 Caryophylleay 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. 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 

1832.] RIO MACAO. • 209 

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 Norcnha ; 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 are 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 of 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 Beaglehdi^ 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 
150 miles to Rio Macao, which lasted eighteen days. Here I 
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 

2IO ' THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 23. [1832. 

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 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 Mountains. 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 forma- 



tion 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 wonderful ? 
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 unintelHgible letter, and believe me, my dear Henslow, 
with the warmest feelings of respect and friendship, 

Yours affectionately, 

Chas. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to J, M. Herbert. 

Botofogo Bay, Rio de Janeiro, 

June 1832. 

My dear old Herbert, 

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 
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 
I the country, the utility of the produce, and more especially 
i the happiness of the people living with them. Change the 
I English labourer into a poor slave, working for another, and 
I you will hardly recognise the same view. I am sure you will 
I be glad to hear how very well every part (Heaven forefend, 

212 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 23. [1832. 

except sea-sickness) of the expedition has answered. We 
have already seen Teneriife 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, proh 
picdor ! 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 Pam- 
pas. I am ashamed of sending such a scrambling letter, 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 reflec- 

1832.] MONTE VIDEO. 


tion ; and then for man or ship it is not so easy to right again. 
Remember me most sincerely to the remnant of most excel- 
lent fellows whom I have the good luck to know in Camxbridge 
— I mean Whitley and Watkins. Tell Lowe I am even be- 
neath 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 al- 
ways be happy and prosperous is my most cordial wish. 

Yours affectionately, 

Chas. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to F. Watkins. 

Monte Video, River Plata, 

August 18, 1832. 

My dear Watkins, 

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 coun- 
tries 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 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 

214 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 23. [1832. 

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 de- 
lightful excursion during this time of 150 miles into the coun- 
try. I stayed at an estate which is the last of the cleared 
ground, behind is one vast impenetrable forest. It is almost 
impossible to imagine the quietude of such a life. Not a 
human being within some miles interrupts 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 of 
what it meant. The other day we landed our men here, and 
took possession, at the request of the inhabitants, of the cen- 
tral fort. We philosophers do not bargain for this sort of 
work, 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 Spaniard's 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 

1833] FUEGIANS. 215 

jacket would disfigure an angel. Believe me, my dear Wat- 
kins, with the warmest feelings of friendship, 

Ever yours, 

Charles Darwin. 

C. Darwin to /, S. Henslow, 

April ir, 1833. 

My dear Henslow, 

We are now running up from the Falkland Islands to the 
Rio Negro (or Colorado). Hht Beagle \n\\\ 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. 

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, surrounded 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 king- 
dom, 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 in- 
deed every place is, to me very interesting. The country is 
non-fossiliferous, and a common-place succession of gran- 
itic 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 


* * * * * 

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 
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 pur- 
chased 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 ani- 
mals of the Pacific may keep up my resolution. Remember 

1833] HOME LETTERS. 217 

me most kindly to Mrs. Henslow and all other friends; I am 
a true lover of Alma Mater and all its inhabitants. 
Believe m.e, my dear Henslow, 

Your affectionate and most obliged friend, 

Charles Darwin. 

C, Darwin to Miss C Darwin, 

Maldonado, Rio Plata, May 22, 1833. 

. . . The following business piece is to my father. Hav- 
ing a servant of my own would be a really great addition to 
my comfort. For these two reasons : as at present the Cap- 
tain 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 jP^do 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 ;^2oo 
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 

j the Captain, and the chances are even that he would not be 
willing to have an additional man in the ship. I have men- 

( tioned 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 Cath- 
erine, 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 let- 
ter. If I can manage it, I will, before doubling the Horn, 

send the "rest. I am quite delighted to find the hide of the 


2i8 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 24. [1833. 

Megatherium has given you all some little interest in my 
employments. These fragments are not, however, 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 con- 
tinue 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 in- 
finite host of living beings ! Is not this a prospect to 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 Portuguese, with their mur- 
derous countenances, without almost wishing for Brazil to 

l833.] GOOD SUCCESS BAY. 210 

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. 

My dear Herbert, 

I have been confined for the last three days to a miserable 
dark room, in an old Spanish house, from the torrents of rain ; 
I am not, therefore, in very good trim for writing ; but, defy- 
ing 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 wind- 
ward 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 lives. 

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 sav- 
' age, solitary character, was most sublime. The only inhabi- 
tant of these heights is the guanaco, and with its shrill neigh- 

220 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 24. [1833. 

ing 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 neces- 
sary to be separated from all which one has been accus- 
tomed to, to know how properly to treasure up such recollec- 
tions, 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, sur- 
rounded with heaps of parchment ; but then there must be, 
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 J. Mackintosh 
used to say, have no enthusiasm, except against enthusiasm, 
have for the present run their race. I am sorry, by your let- 
ter, to hear you have not been well, and that you partly at- 
tribute 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 v/ould be- 



lieve, even to a cubic fathom 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 be- 
lieve me, my dear Herbert, 

Your affectionate friend, 

Charles Darwin. 

C. Darwin to J. 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 stratifi- 
cations, &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 
iwith hammering granite. By the way I have not one clear 
iidea 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- 
I elusions, and most gloriously ridiculous ones they are, I some- 
itimes 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 vult- 
ure'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. 


222 THE VOYAGE. .ETAT. 25. [1834. 

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, nidifi- 
cation, and geographical distribution. So much for what I 
have 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 redoubled 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 particu- 
larly 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 mer- 
chant vessel is chartered to take them to Rio, I will send 
some specimens (especially my few plants and seeds). Re- 

* The second meeting of the British Association was held at Oxford in 
1832, the following year it was at Cambridge. 

c834.] JEMMY BUTTON. 223 

member me to all my Cambridge friends. I love and treasure 
ip every recollection of dear old Cambridge. I am much 
bliged 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, 

Charles Darwin. 

C. Darwin to Miss C. Darwin, 

East Falkland Island, April 6, 1831. 

My dear Catherine, 

When this letter will reach you I know not, but probably 

ome 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 
luxuries of life. Jemmy and his wife paddled away in their 

* Jemmy Button, York Minster, and Fuegia Basket, were natives of 
Tierra del Fuego, brought to England by Captain Fitz-Roy in his former 
voyage, and restored to their country by him in 1832. 

224 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 25. [1834. 

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. "J. But- 
ton'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 ail 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 diiferent 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, with- 
out authority or instructions. A man-of-war, however, ven- 
tured 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 ex- 
cursion 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 

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 
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 i 

1834.] PLANS. 225 

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 Fort 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 
I which passes close to the foot of Mount Sarmiento (the high- 
iest mountain in the south, excepting Mt. ! ! Darwin! !). We 
I then shall scud away for Concepcion in Chili. I believe the 
ship must once again steer southward, but if any one catches 
ime 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 
ipretty 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 
jscrape. . . . Continue in your good custom of writing plenty 
lof gossip ; I much like hearing all about all things. Remem- 
tber me most kindly to Uncle Jos, and to all the Wedgwoods. 
Tell Charlotte (their married names sound downright un- 
natural) I should like to have written to her, to have told her 
how well everything is going on ; but it would only have been 
a transcript of this letter, and I have a host of animals at this 
minute surrounding 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 extravagance, but not as a Christian, for then I suppose 
tie would send me no more money. 

Good-bye, dear, to you, and all your goodly sisterhood, 
j Your affectionate brother, 

' - Chas. Darwin. 

226 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 25. [1834. 

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. 

My dear Whitley, 

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 to- 
gether. 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 of trouble, for we all 
stick to our former opinions rather more obstinately than be- 
fore, 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. / Quien Sabel 
as the people say here (and God knows they well may, for 

* His old nurse. 

1834] A NAKED FUEGIAN. 22/ 

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 
fancied I saw retirement, green cottages, and white petti- 
coats. What will become of me hereafter I know not ; I feel 
ike a ruined man, who does not see or care how to extricate 
limself. That this voyage must come to a conclusion my 
eason tells me, but otherwise I see no end to it. It is im- 
possible 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 anticipa- 
tion, when the ideas gained during the voyage can be com- 
pared to fresh ones. I find in Geology a never-failing interest, 
IS it has been remarked, it creates the same grand ideas re- 
specting this world which Astronomy does for the universe. 
We have seen much fine scenery ; that of the Tropics in its 
lory and luxuriance exceeds even the language of Humboldt 
o describe. A Persian writer could alone do justice to it, 
md if he succeeded he would in England be called the ^ Grand- 
ather of all liars." 

But I have seen nothing which more completely aston- 
shed me than the first sight of a savage. It was a naked 
^'uegian, his long hair blowing about, his face besmeared 
ith paint. There is in their countenances an expression 
vhich I believe, to those who have not seen it, must be in- 
:onceivably wild. Standing on a rock he uttered tones and 
nade gesticulations, than which the cries of domestic animals 
ire far more intelligible. 

When I return to England, you must take me in hand 
vith respect to the fine arts. I yet recollect there was a 
nan called Raffaelle Sanctus. How delightful it will be 
mce again to see, in the Fitzwilliam, Titian's Venus. How 
nuch more than delightful to go to some good concert or 
ine opera. These recollections will not do. I shall not be 
ble to-morrow to pick out the entrails of some small animal 
vith half my usual gusto. Pray tell me some news about 

228 THE VOYAGE. .^TAT. 25. [1834. 

Cameron, Watkins, Marinden, 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 com- 
pany. Such can never return, but their recollection can 
never die away. 

God bless you, my dear Whitley, 

Believe me, your most sincere friend, 

Chas. Darwin. 

C, Dariuin to Miss C. Darwin, 

Valparaiso, November 8, 1834. 

My dear Catherine, 

My last letter was rather a gloomy one, for 1 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 miost 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 
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 thm 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 

1834.] CAPTAIN FITZ-ROY. 229 

grief on board the Beagle about the Captain's decision was 
universal and deeply fell ; one great source of his annoyment 
was the feeling it impossible to fulfit the whole instruc- 
tions; from his state of mind it never occurred to him that 
I the very instructions ordered him to do as much of the 
j 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, stated that when he took the com- 
mand 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 with- 

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 he 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 

I of Peru, where the climate is delightful, the country hideously 

:| sterile, but abounding with the highest interest to a geologist. 

I For the first time since leaving England I now see a clear and 

ijnot so distant prospect of returning to you all: crossing 

I the Pacific, and from Sydney home, will not take much 

I time. 

j As soon as the Captain invalided I at once determined to 
1 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 
I 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 

230 THE VOYAGE. /ETAT. 25. L1S34. 

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 Cordilleras of 
Chili during this summer, and in 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.) ; ;£^o goes to 
the Captain for the ensuing year, and ;^30 I take to sea for the 
small ports ; so that bond fide I have not spent ^180 during 
these last four months. I hope not to draw" another bill for 
six months. All the foregoing particulars were only settled 
yesterday. It has done me more good than a pint of medi- 
cine, 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. . . . 

i835.] THE ANDES. 23 1 

Good-bye to you all ; you will not have another letter for 
some time. 

My dear Catherine, 

Yours affectionately, 

Chas. Darwin. 

My best love to my father, and all of you. Love to Nancy. 

C. Danmn to Miss S, Darwin. 

Valparaiso, April 23, 1835. 

My dear Susan, 

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 en- 
joyed 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 work. The scenery 
was so new, and so majestic ; everything 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 

232 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 26. [1835. 

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 conse- 
quence, 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- 
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 ex- 
cessive violence. These modern strata are very remarkable 
by being threaded with metallic veins of silver, gold, copper, 
&c. ; hitherto these have been considered as appertaining 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 sev- 
eral thousand feet. These rocks have been deposited be- 

* The importance of these results has been fully recognized by geolo- 

i835.] LIMA. 


neath 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 de- 
posits 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 
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 Cordilleras. 
So you will say, with my benighted faculties, it is time to re- 
turn, 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, 

Charles Darwin. 

C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

Lima, July, 1835. 

My dear Fox, 

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 


THE VOYAGE. yETAT. 26. [1835. 

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 let- 
ters to so bad a correspondent as I have been. God bless 
you for writing so kindly and affectionately ; if it is a pleas- 
ure 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 
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 be- 
lieve. 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 
Tertiary strata. I am glad to hear you have some thoughts 
of beginning Geology. I hope you will ; there is so much 
larger a field for thought than in the other branches of Nat- 
ural 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 

1836.] TAHITI. 235 

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, 

Chas. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to J. S. Henslow, 

Sydney, January, 1836. 

My dear Henslow, 

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, 
otherwise, I dare say, I should have seen your handwriting. 
I must feed upon the future, and it is beyond bounds de- 
lightful to feel the certainty that within eight months I shall 
be residing once again most quietly in Cambridge. Cer- 
tainly, I never was intended for a traveller ; my thoughts 
are always rambling over past or future scenes ; I 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 charm- 
ing spot. Everything which former navigators have written 

236 THE VOYAGE. .ETAT. 26. [1836. 

is true. ' A new Cytheraea has risen from the ocean.' De- 
licious scenery, climate, manners of the people are all in har- 
mony. It is, moreover, admirable to behold what the mis- 
sionaries 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, and nearly 
all under the British flag. These will be a poor field for 
Natural History, and without it I have lately discovered 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, 

Chas. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to Miss S. Darwin. 

Bahia, Brazil, August 4 [1836]. 

My DEAR Susan, 

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 hemi- 
sphere, 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 Novem- 
ber ; the letter at the Cape was of a later date, but letters of 
all sorts are inestimable treasures, and I thank you both for 

1836.] BAHIA. 237 

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. 

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. 

C. Darwin. 

238 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 27. [1836. 

C, Darwin to J. S. Henslow, 

St. Helena, July 9, 1836. 
My dear Henslow, 

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 be- 
fore 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 excel- 
lent 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 distinct creation 
should, as is asserted, bear marks of recent elevation. 

The Beagle proceeds from this place to Ascension, then to 

1836.] SIR J. HERSCHEL. 230 

the Cape de Verds (whit 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 see 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 are 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 task- 

At the Cape Captain Fitz-Roy and myself enjoyed a mem- 
orable piece of good fortune in meeting Sir J. Herschel. 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 comforta- 
ble country house, surrounded by fir and oak trees, which 
alone in so open a country, give a most charming air of seclu- 
sion and comfort. He appears to find time for everything ; 
he showed us a pretty garden full of Cape bulbs of his own 
collecting, and I afterwards 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, 

Chas. Darwin. 

240 THE VOYAGE. ^TAT. 27. [1836. 

C, Darwin to J. S. Henslow. 

Shrewsbury, Thursday, October 6, [1836]. 

My dear Henslow, 

I am sure you will congratulate me on the delight of once 
again being home. The Beagle arrived at Falmouth on Sun- 
day evening, and I reached Shrev/sbury yesterday morning. 
I am exceedingly anxious to see you, and as it will be neces- 
sary 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 geologi- 
cal specimens — who will have the charity to help me in de- 
scribing 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 be- 
fore 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, 

Charles Darwin. 

C. Darwin to R. Fitz-Roy. 
Shrewsbury, Thursday morning, October 6, [1836]. 

My dear Fitz-Roy, 

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. In- 
deed, all England appears changed excepting the good old 

1836.] HOME. 241 

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 

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, 

Chas. Darwin. 



[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, 
1 841, he writes to Lyell : " My father scarcely seems to ex- 
pect that I shall become strong for some years ; it has been 
a bitter mortification for me to digest the conclusion 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 

There is no evidence of any intention of entering a profes- 
sion after his return from the voyage, and early in 1840 he 
wrote to Fitz-Roy : '* I have nothing to wish for, excepting 
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 passion- 
ate 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 w^hich 
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 ; 
is 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 de- 
spondingly, 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 unreasonable 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 can- 
not feel, from all I hear, any great respect even for the pres- 
ent state of that establishment. Your plan will be not only 
the best, but the only one, namely, to come down to Cam- 
bridge, 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 
months in Cambridge, and then when, by your assistance, I 

* The Museum of the Zoological Society, then at 33 Bruton Street. 
The collection was some years later broken up and dispersed. 


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 in- 
stance, in fossil bones, of which none excepting the fragments 
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 evidently oppressed with busi- 
ness 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, I hear, is so much occupied 
that there is no chance of his wishing for specimens of rep- 

* A passage in a subsequent letter shows that his plants also gave him 
some anxiety. " I met Mr. Brown a few days after you had called on him ; 
he asked me in rather an ominous manner what I meant to do with my 
plants. In the course of conversation Mr. Broderip, who was present, re- 
marked to him, ' You forget how long it is since Captain King's expedi- 
tion.' He answered, * Indeed, I have something in the shape of Captain 
Kings's undescribed plants to make me recollect it.' Could a beTter reason 
be given, if I had been asked, by me, for not giving the plants to the Brit* 
ish Museum ? " 


tiles. I have forgotten to mention 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 
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 

* William Lonsdale, b. 1794, d. 1871, was originally in the army, and 
served at the battles of Salamanca and Waterloo. After the war he left 
the service and gave himself up to science. He acted as assistant secre- 
tary to the Geological Society from 1829-42, when he resigned, owing to 
ill health. 

f T. Bell, F.R.S., formerly Prof, of Zoology in King's College, London, 
and sometime secretary to the Royal Society. He afterwards described 
the reptiles for the zoology of the voyage of the Beagle, 


from I do not knovr 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 descrip- 
tions 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 
horse ! " 

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 col- 
lection had not been described. My father's specimens in- 
cluded (besides the above-mentioned Toxodon and Scelido- 
therium) 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 speculation 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 (espe- 
cially latter), origin of all my views."] 

* I have often heard him speak of the despak* with which he had to 
break off the projecting extremity of a huge, partly excavated bone, when 
the boat waiting for him would wait no longer. 

248 LONDON AND CAMBRIDGE. .ETAT. 27. [1836. 


C. Darwin to W. D, Fox, 

43 Great Marlborough Street, 

November 6th [1836]. 

My dear Fox, 

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 Henslow 
a short but very pleasant visit, I came up to town to wait for 
the Beagle's 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. When you pay London a visit I shall be very proud 
to take you to the Geological Society, for be it known, I was 

1837.] CHRIST'S COLLEGE. 249 

proposed 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 lodg- 
ings. He thus writes to Fox, March 13th, 1837, from Lon- 
don : — 

^' 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 : — 

'^J^e^. 23, 1837. — Mr. Darwin zk Mr. Baines, that the com- 
bination-room measures from the ceiling to the floor more 
than (x) feet. i Bottle paid same day. 

250 LONDON AND CAMBRIDGE. .^TAT. 28. [1837. 

" N. B. Mr. Darwin may measure at any part of the room 
he pleases." 

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 Geologi- 
cal Society,f 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 
^6 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 : Captain Fitz-Roy writes two volumes out 
of the materials collected during the last voyage under Capt. 
King to Tierra del Fuego, and during our circumnavigation. 
I am to have the third volume, in which I intend giving a 
kind of journal of a naturalist, not following, however, always 
the order of time, but rather the order of position. 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. Afterwards I shall 
write an account of the geology in detail, and 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 holi- 

* " Notes upon Rhea Americana," * Zool. Soc. Proc' v. 1837, pp. 35, 

t ' Geol. Soc. Proc' ii. 1838, pp. 446-449. 

t " A sketch of the deposits containing extinct mammalia in the neigh- 
bourhood of the Plata," * Geol. Soc. Proc' ii. 1838, pp. 542-544 ; and '' On 
certain areas of elevation and subsidence in the Pacific and Indian oceans, 
as deduced from the study of coral formations," ' Geol. Soc Proc' ii. 1838, 
pp. 552-554. 


Another letter to Fox (July) gives an account of the prog- 
ress 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 I 
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 
Lyell, 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 dear good 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. 

252 LONDON AND CAMBRIDGE. ^TAT. 28. [1837. 

C. Darwin to L. Jenyns.^ 

36 Great Marlborough Street, 

April loth, 1837. 

Dear Jenyns, 

During the last week several of the zoologists of this place 
have been urging me to consider the possibility of publishing 
the ^ Zoology of the Beagle's Voyage ' on some uniform plan. 
Mr. Macleayt has taken a great deal of interest in the sub- 
ject, and maintains that such a publication is very desirable, 
because it keeps together a series of observations made re- 
specting 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 hav- 
ing 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 

* Now Rev. L. Blomefield. 

f William Sharp Macleay was the son of Alexander Macleay, formerly 
Colonial Secretary of New South Wales, and for many years Secretary of 
the Linnean Society. The son, who was a most zealous Naturalist, and 
had inherited from his father a very large general collection of insects, 
made Entomology his chief study, and gained great notoriety by his now 
forgotten Quinary System, set forth in the Second Part of his V Horse En- 
tomologicae,' published in 1821. — [I am indebted to Rev. L. Blomefield 
for the foregoing note.] 

1837.] THE JOURNAL. 253 

good deal of interest in my collections. I mean to-morrow 
to see Mr. Yarrell ; 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 de- 
layed by the other. The plan would resemble, on a humble 
scale, Ruppel's ^ Atlas,' or Humboldt's * Zoologie,* 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 per- 
haps afterwards some descriptions of invertebrate ani- 
mals .... 

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 advanta- 
geous 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 of the best en- 
joyments in life. But I see 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 Galapagos plants ; but before he never 

254 LONDON AND CAMBRIDGE. ^TAT. 28. [1837. 

would say a word. It is just striking twelve o'clock; so I 
will wish you a very good night. 

My dear Jenyns, 

Yours most truly, 

C. Darwin. 

[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, 

[iSth May, 1837]. 

My dear Henslow, 

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 al- 
most a wonder you have any head left. Your account of the 
Gamlingay expedition was cruelly tempting, but I cannot 
anyhow leave London. I wanted to pay my good, dear peo- 
ple 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 Dake of Somerset, as President of the Linnean, and of 
Lord Derby and Whewell, to a statement of the value of my 
collection ; the instant I get this I shall apply to Government 
for assistance 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 re- 
main 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 make 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 
;^iooo 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 Chancel- 
lor of the Exchequer.* He appointed to see me this morn- 
ing, 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 re- 
striction, 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 Shrewsbury 
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 
Maer, 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 ^ Zool- 
ogy of the Voyage of the Beagle^' and in beginning to put to- 
gether 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. 

f "On the formation of mould," * Gaol. Soc. Proc' ii. 1838, pp. 574- 


C. Darwin to J. S. Henslow. 

October 14th, [1837]. 

My dear Henslow, 

... 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 be- 
fore the Society, or rather to know what parts to skip. Again, 
my ignorance of all languages, and not knowing how to pro- 
nounce 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 neces- 
sarily 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 me. 

I know from experience the time required to make ab- 
stracts 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 

i837.] SECRETARYSHIP. 257 

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 under- 
take 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 can- 
not 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 burden- 
some. Mr. Whewell (I know very well), judging from him- 
self, 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 forward with even tolerable comfort to un- 
dertaking an office without entering on it heart and soul, and 
that would be impossible with the Government work and the 
Geology in hand. 

My last objection is, that I doubt how far my health will 
stand the confinement of what I have to do, without any ad- 
ditional work. I merely repeat, that you may know I am not 
speaking idly, that when I consulted Dr. Clark in town, he 
at first urged me to give up entirely all writing and even cor- 
recting press for some weeks. Of late anything which flurries 
me completely knocks me up afterwards, and brings on a vio- 
lent palpitation of the heart. Now the Secretaryship would 
be a periodical source of more annoying trouble to me than 

258 LONDON AND CAMBRIDGE. ^TAT, 28. [1837. 

all the rest of the fortnight put together. In fact, till I return 
to town, and see how 1 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 Hen slow, 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 difficult 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, 

C. Darwin. 

[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. Darwin to J. S. Hemlo'cv. 

[4th November, 1837.] 

My dear Henslow, 

. . . 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 Shrews- 

* Rev. L. Jenyns. 

1838.] CAMBRIDGE. 


bury 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 marvel 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 impossibility. 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 mul- 
tiplied, 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 Henslow, 

C. Darwin. 

[From the beginning of this year to nearly the end of June, 
he was busily employed on the zoological and geological re- 
sults of his voyage. This spell of work was interrupted 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, un- 
well,'* 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 

26o LONDON AND CAMBRIDGE. ^TAT. 29. [1838. 

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." 

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 Lon- 
don 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 stop- 
ping 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. f He wrote in 
his Pocket Book : '^ September 6 [1838]. Finished the paper 

* Samuel Lee, of Queens', was Professor of Arabic from 18 19 to 183 1, 
ar.d Regius Professor of Hebrew from 1831 to 1848. 
t * Phil. Trans.' 1839, PP- 39~82. 

1838.] GLEN ROY. 261 

on ^ Glen Roy/ one of the most difficult and instructive tasks 
I was ever engaged on.'* It will be remembered that in his 
^ Recollections ' he speaks of this paper as a failure, of which 
he was ashamed. 

At the time at which he wrote, the latest theory of the for- 
mation 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 allu- 
vium. In arguing against this theory he conceived that 
he had disproved 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 hypo- 
thesis 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 

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 charac- 
ter of my father's Glen Roy work : — 

" Mr. Darwin's ' Glen Roy ' paper, I need not say, is 
marked by all his characteristic acuteness of observation and 
determination 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 diffi- 
culties vanish from the lake-theory which he opposed, and he 
would not have been unconsciously led to minimise the alto- 
gether overwhelming objections to the supposition that the 
terraces are of marine origin." 

It maybe added that the id3a 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 

262 LONDON AND CAMBRIDGE. ^TAT. 29. [1838. 

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 
attention 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]. 

My dear Lyell, 

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 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 

1838.] GLEN ROY. 263 

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 many 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 elaborate 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 
spectacle, wretch that I am, of two ladies, and some small 
children quite sea-sick, I being wel]. Moreover, on my return 
from Glasgow to Liverp.ool, I triumphed in a similar manner 
over some full-grown men. I stayed one whole day in Edin- 
burgh, or more truly on Salisbury Craigs ; I want to hear 
som.e day 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 Marl- 
borough Street. Here I enjoyed five [?] days of the most 
beautiful weather with gorgeous sunsets, and all nature look- 
ing as happy as I felt. I wandered over the mountains in 
all directions, and examined that most extraordinary district. 
I think, without any exceptions, not even the first volcanic 
island, the first elevated beach, or the passage of the Cor- 
dillera, was so interesting to me as this week. It is far the 
most remarkable area I ever examined. I have fully con- 
vinced myself (after some doubting 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 difficul- 
ties. I found a piece of a road in another valley, not hith- 
erto observed, which is important ; and I have some curious 
facts about erratic blocks, one of which was perched up on 

264 LONDON AND CAMBRIDGE. .^TAT. 29. [1838. 

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 condense it into rea- 
sonable 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 has aston- 
ished 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 
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 drawing- 
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.e. last week) I met Dr. Fitton * at the door, and he got to- 
gether quite a party — Robert Brown, who is gone to Paris and 
Auvergne, Macleay [.?] and Dr. Boott.f Your helping me into 

* W. H. Fitton (b. 1780, d. 186 1) was a physician and geologist, and 
sometime president of the Geological Society. He established the ' Pro- 
ceedings,' a mode of publication afterwards adopted by other societies. 

f Francis Boott (b. 1792, d. 1863) is chiefly known as a botanist through 
his work on the genus Carex. He was also ^yell known in connection with 
the Linnean Society of which he was for many years an office-bearer. He 
is described (in a biographical sketch published in the Gaj'denefs' Chonicley 
1864) as having been one of the first physicians in London who gave up 
the customary black coat, knee-breeches and silk stockings, and adopted 
the ordinary dress of the period, a blue coat with brass buttons, and a buff 
waiscoat, a costume which he continued to wear to the last. After giving 
up practice, which he did early in life, he spent much of his time in acts of 
unpretending philanthropy. 

1838.] FITTON, BOOTT. 265 

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 thmk to come into the ^ Principles.* You will 
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 ; f 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. 1 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. 
SlickofSlickville'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 

*The house of Lyell's father. 

f At the meeting of the British Association. 


266 LONDON AND CAMBRIDGE. .ETAT. 2g. [1838, 

much nonsense, but I did not even taste Minerva's small beer 
to-day. Yours most sincerely, 

Chas. Darwin. 

C, Darwin to C. Lyell, 

Friday night, September 13th 11838], 

My dear Lyell, 

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.* I mean to 
have a good hour's enjoyment and scribble away 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 f 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 de la Philoso- 
phic ' (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 de 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 com- 
pletely exposed as that of De Beaumont'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 hope : why, 

* Lyell dictated much of his correspondence, 
t Father of the geologist. 

1838.] GEOLOGY. 267 

\\iQ possibility of a doubt has never crossed my mind for many 
a day. This may be very unphilosophical, 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 ac- 
count is published, and then you (and others) can judge how 
far there is foundation for such generalisation. Mind, I do not 
doubt its truth ; 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 cor- 
responding 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 
pubHshed 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 ascertain- 
ing 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 pre- 
served on the surface, but not in contemporaneous beds of 
gravel. . . . 

Remember what I have often heard you say : the country 

268 LONDON AND CAMBRIDGE. ^TAT. 29, [1838, 

is very bad for the intellects ; the Scotch mists will put out 
some volcanic speculations. You see I am affecting to be- 
come 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 battles with Basil Hall, Stokes, and several others, 
having made up my mind, from the report in the Athenceiim, 
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 classifica- 
tion 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 un- 
der 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 persona. Think of the bad effects of the country — 
so once more good night. Ever yours, 

Chas. Darwin. 

Pray again give my best thanks to Mrs. Lyell. 

* Murchison. 

1839.] MARRIAGE. 269 

[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 : 

'^ 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 1341. 

[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 be- 
hind, 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 Lon- 
don 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 in- 

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 quiet- 

* Daughter of Josiah Wedgwood of Maer, and grand-daughter of the 
founder of the Etruria Works. 

270 LONDON AND CAMBRIDGE. ^TAT. 30. [1839. 

ness — there is a grandeur about its smoky fogs, and the dull 
distant sounds of cabs and coaches ; in fact you may per- 
ceive I am becoming a thorough-paced Cockney, and I 
glory in thoughts that I shall be here for the next six 

The entries of ill health in the Diary increase in number 
during these years, and as a consequence the holidays be- 
come longer and more frequent. From April 26 to May 13, 
1839, he was at Maer and Shrewsbury. Again, from August 
23 to October 2 he was away from London at Maer, Shrews- 
bury, and at Birmingham for the meeting of the British 

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 feelings for a young baby, for he wrote to Fox (July 
1840) : " He [/. e. the baby] is so charming that I cannot pre- 
tend 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 Geo- 

* July 1877. 

i840.] HEALTH. 271 

logical 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 Zool- 
ogy of the Beagle^ i, e, the notice of the habits and ranges of 
the birds which were described by Gould.] 

C. Darwin to C, Lyell. 

Wednesday morning [February 1840]. 
My dear Lyell, 

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 ; de- 
scriptions of offspring of all crosses between all domestic birds 

* 'Geol. Soc. Proc' iii. 1842, and * Geol. Soc. Trans.* vi. 

272 LONDON AND CAxMBRIDGE. .^TAT. 33. [1842. 

and animals, dogs, cats, &c., &c., very valuable. Don't for- 
get, 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 near- 
est 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 Beagle s 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 

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 anciept glaciers of 

* A notice of the Coral Reef work appeared in the Geograph. Soc. Jour- 
nal, xii., p. 115, 


Caernarvonshire, and on the Boulders transported by floating 


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." f 

The latter part of this year belongs to the period including 

the settlement at Down, and is therefore dealt with in another 


* * Philosophical Magazine,' 1842, p. 352. 
f Charles Darwin, * Nature ' Series, p. 23, 




[The history of this part of my father's life may justly in- 
clude 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 
with 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 mat- 
ter, 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 conse- 
quence 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 mentioned, a few words of concurrence with 
Dr. Abbott's * Truths for the Times,' which my father allowed to be pub- 
lished in the Index. 

f Addressed to Mr. J. Fordyce, and published by him in his * Aspects 
of Scepticism,' 1S83. 



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, 187 1). 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 con- 
tents. 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 cau- 
tiously 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 ac- 
quired, 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 publicity." 

I may also quote from another letter to Dr. Abbott (Nov. 
16, 187 1), in which my father gives more fully his reasons for 
not feeling competent to write on religious and moral sub- 
jects : — 

" 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 w^hole 
consecutive months this season. Owing to this weakness, 
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 : what- 
ever I have done in science has solely been by long ponder- 
ing, patience and industry. 

" Now I have never systematically thought much on relig- 
ion 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 relig- 
ion, and he had, as a rule, no objection to doing so in a pri- 
vate 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 tlie exist- 
ence of God ; but whether this is an argument of real value, 
' I have never been able to decide. I am aware that if we ad- 
mit 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 be- 
yond the scope of man's intellect ; but man can do his duty." 

Again in 1879 ^^ ^^^ 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 let- 
ters, that he cannot answer them all. 

*• He considers that the theory of Evolution is quite com- 
patible 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 follow- 
ing reply : — 

^^ I am much engaged, an old man, and out of health, and 
I cannot spare time to answer your questions fully, — nor in- 
deed 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, somev/hat 
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, 
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, ix. 1836 to 1839, to 
see that the Old Testament was no more to be trusted than 
the sacred books of the Hindoos. The question then con- 

* Oct. 1836 to Jan. 1839. 



tinually 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 connected with the 
belief in Vishnu, Siva, &c., as Christianity is connected with 
the Old Testament? This appeared to me utterly incred- 

*^ By further reflecting that the clearest evidence would be 
I 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 credu- 
lous to a degree almost incomprehensible by us, — that the 
Gospels cannot be proved to have been written simultaneous- 
ly with the events, — that they differ in many important de- 
tails, 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 invent- 
ing 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 diffi- 
cult, with free scope given to my imagination, to invent evi- 
dence 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 ^ Variations 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 gen- 
erally 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. 
According to my judgm.ent happiness decidedly prevails, 
though this would be very difficult to prove. If the truth of 
this conclusion 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 ex- 
treme 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. 

* My father asks whether we are to believe that the forms are preor- 
dained of the broken fragments of rock tumbled from a precipice which are 
fitted together by man to build his houses. If not, why should we believe 
that the variations of domestic animals or plants are preordained for the 
sake of the breeder? *'But if we give up the principle in one case, . . . 
no shadow of reason can be assigned for the belief that variations, alike in 
nature and the result of the same general laws, which have been the ground- 
work through natural selection of the formation of the most perfectly 
adapted animals in the world, man included, were intentionally and spe- 
cially guided." — ' The Variation of Animals and Plants,* 1st Edit. vol. ii. 
p. 43 1 --F. D. 


** Every one who believes, as I do, that all the corporeal 
and mental organs (excepting those which are neither advan- 
tageous 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 com- 
pete successfully with other beings, and thus increase in num- 
ber. 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. Pleasurable 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 socia- 
bility, and from loving our families. The sum of such pleas- 
ures as these, which are 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 Selection, 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 circumstances. 

" That there is much suffering in the world no one dis- 
putes. 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 argu- 
ment 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 ex- 
istence of an intelligent God is drawn from the deep inward 
conviction and feelings which are experienced by most persons. 

** 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 grand- 
eur of a Brazilian forest, *' it is not possible to give an ade- 
quate 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 who has become 
colour-blind, and the universal belief by men of the existence 
of redness makes my present loss of perception 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 connected with a 
belief in God, did not essentially differ from that which is 
often called the sense of sublimity ; and however difiicult 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 
consideration 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 senti- 
ent 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, 
connected with the reason, and not with the feelings, im- 
presses 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 compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent 
mind in some degree analogous to that of man ; and I de- 
serve 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 * 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 ab- 
struse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things 
is insoluble by us ; and I for one must be content to remain 
an Agnostic." 

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 ' Mac- 
millan's Magazine,* for July 1861.] 



C Darwin 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 sev- 
eral 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 — something 
like thinking on the origin of evil, to which you allude. The 
mind refuses to look at this universe, being what it is, with- 
out having been designed ; yet, where one would most ex- 
pect 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 f 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 

* The * Origin of Species.* 

f Dr. Gray's rain-drop metaphor occurs in the Essay ' Darwin and his 
Reviewers' (' Darwiniana/ p. 157): ** The whole animate life of a country 
depends absolutely upon the vegetation, the vegetation upon the rain. 
The moisture is furnished by the ocean, is raised by the sun's heat from 
the ocean's surface, and is wafted inland by the winds. But what multi- 
tudes of rain-drops fall back into the ocean — are as much without a final 
cause as the incipient varieties which come to nothing ! Does it therefore 
follow that the rains which are bestowed upon the soil with such rule and 
average regularity were not designed to support vegetable and animal 



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 de- 
signed. 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 i860) 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 kill it, I do this desio^nedly. 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 de- 
signedly 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 particular 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 \kit\x first birth or production should be necessarily de- 

C, Darwin to W, Graham, 

Down, July 3rd, 1881. 

Dear Sir, 

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 pur- 
pose if the lowest organisms alone, destitute of consciousness 
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 con- 
victions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in 
such a mind ? Secondly, I think that I could make some- 
what 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 im- 
portance, at least in the case of Science. Lastly, I could 
show fight on natural selection having done and doing more 

* The Duke of Argyll {' Good Words,' Ap. 1885, p. 244) has recorded 
a few words on this subject, spoken by my father in the last year of his life. 
"... in the course of that conversation I said to Mr. Darwin, with refer- 
ence to some of his own remarkable works on the ' Fertilization of Orchids,' 
and upon ' The Earthworms,' and various other observations he made of 
the wonderful contriv-ances for certain purposes in nature — I said it was 
impossible to look at these without seeing that they were the effect and 
the expression of mind. I shall never forget Mr. Darwin's answer. He 
looked at me very hard and said, ' Well, that often comes over me with 
overwhelming force ; but at other times,' and he shook his head vaguely, 
adding, * it seems to go away.' " 


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 through- 
out the world. But I will write no more, and not even men- 
tion the many points in your work which have much inter- 
ested me. I have indeed cause to apologise for troubling 
you with my impressions, and my sole excuse is the excite- 
ment in my mind which your book has aroused. 
I beg leave to remain, 
Dear Sir, 

Yours faithfully and obliged, 

Charles Darwin. 

[My father spoke little on these subjects, and I can con- 
tribute nothing 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, how- 
ever, be gathered from occasional remarks in his letters.] * 

* Dr. Aveling has published an account of a conversation with my 
father. I think that the readers of this pamphlet (' The Religious Views 
of Charles Darwin/ Free Thought Publishing Company, 1883) may be 
misled into seeing more resemblance than really existed between the po- 
sitions of my father and Dr. Aveling : and I say this in spite of my con- 
viction that Dr. Aveling gives quite fairly his impressions of my father's 
views. Dr. Aveling tried to show that the terms " Agnostic " and " Atheist " 
were practically equivalent — that an atheist is one who, without denying 
the existence of God, is without God, inasmuch as he is unconvinced of 
the existence of a Deity. My father's replies implied his preference for 
the unaggressive attitude of an Agnostic. Dr. Aveling seems (p. 5) to 
regard the absence of aggressiveness in my father's views as distinguishing 
them in an unessential manner from his own. But, in my judgment, it is 
precisely differences of this kind which distinguish him so completely from 
the class of thinkers to which Dr. Aveling belongs. 



** 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 following chapters a con- 
nected 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 ordi- 
nary social duties, as suiting his health so ^* badly that we 

* I must not omit to mention a member of the household who accom- 
panied him. This was his butler, Joseph Parslow, who remained in the 
family, a valued friend and servant, for forty years, and became, as Sir 
Joseph Hooker once remarked to me, ** an integral part of the family, and 
felt to be such by all visitors at the house." 

288 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. 

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 lo Fox (Dec, 

" 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 be- 
fore 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 diflficult 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 
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 funer- 
als : 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 undertakings 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 exca- 
vated 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 character. 

The house was made to look neater by being covered with 
stucco, but the chief improvement effected was the building 
of a large bow extending up through three storeys. This 
bovv 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 

290 LIFE AT DOWN. .^TAT. 33-45. 

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 are abso- 
lutely 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 
Fanagceus 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 popu- 
larity. Thus Lyell wrote to him in 1838 (* Ly ell'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 pub- 
lished in 1845. It may be noted, however, that the ^Quar- 
terly 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 fresh- 
ness of heart which is thrown over these virgin pages of a 
strong intellectual man and an acute and deep observer." 

The German translation (1844) of the * Journal' received 

292 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. 

a favourable notice in No. 12 of the ' Heidelberger Jahr- 
bucher 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. Dieffenbach . . . 
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, ^^^ was pub- 
lished in the spring of the following year. It was entitled 
* Geological 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 
pubHshed, 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 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 has been proposed. After visiting many of them, 
and examining also coral reefs that fringe islands and con- 
tinents, he offered a theory which for simplicity and grandeur 
strikes every reader with astonishment. 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 

* Charles Darwin, * Nature* Series, 1882. 




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 
Lyeirs 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 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 eleva- 
tion 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 criticism. The book was not reviewed in the 
'Quarterly Review* till 1847, when a favourable notice was 

^ To Sir John Herschel, May 24, 1837. ' Life of Sir Charles Lyell,' 
vol. ii. p. 12. 

294 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 38-45. 

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 geol- 
ogy of this type. Even ten years before, in 1837, Lyell * 
says, "people are now much better prepared to believe Dar- 
win 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 observations on South America (1846), 
but the gradual change in receptivity of the geological mind 
must have been favourable to all his geological work. Never- 
theless, 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 be- 
lieved 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. 18) : — 

" 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." Pro- 
fessor Geikie continues (p. 21): *' He is one of the earliest 


« ( 

Life of Sir Charles Lyell/ vol. ii. p. 6. 



writers to recognize 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 ac- 
count of ' Volcanic Islands ' is the prodigious extent to which 
they have 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 ov/n work. '' You have pleased me much by 
saying that you intend looking through my ^Volcanic Isl- ^ 
ands ' : 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 Observa- 
tions on South America,* may be mentioned here, although it 
was not published until 1846. " In this work the author em- 
bodied all the materials collected by him for the illustration 
of South American Geology, save some which have been pub- 
lished 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 will 
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 Geikie, 
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 LyelFs teach- 
ing " by the way in which he gathered from all parts of the 
world facts in its support.** 

* Geikie, loc. cit. 


LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45- 


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 Octo- 
ber, 1846. 

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 185 1 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. 

'^ Brief Descriptions of several Terrestrial Planarise, &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. 

''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. S^S-S^S-t 

* A sentence occurs in this paper of interest, as showing that the author 
was alive to the importance of all means of distribution : — " The fact that 
particles of this size having been brought at least 330 miles from the land 
is interesting as bearing on the distribution of Cryptogamic plants." 

f An extract from a letter to Lyell, 1847, is of interest in connection with 
this essay : — " Would you be so good (if you know it) as to put Maclaren's 


The article ^' Geology/' in the Admiralty Manual of Sci- 
entific 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 : — 

*' I. Great breadth of view. No one who had not prac- 
tically studied and profoundly reflected on the questions dis- 
cussed 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 ac- 
complish in it. There is a broad sketch of the subject 

address on the enclosed letter and post it. It is chiefly to enquire in what 
paper he has described the Boulders on Arthur's Seat. Mr. D. Milne in 
the last Edinburgh * New Phil. Journal ' [1847], has a long paper on it. 
He says : * Some glacialists have ventured to explain the transportation of 
boulders even in the situation of those now referred to, by imagining that 
they were transported on ice floes,' &c. He treats this view, and the 
scratching of rocks by icebergs, as almost absurd ... he has finally stirred 
me up so, that (without you would answer him) I think I will send a paper 
in opposition to the same Journal. I can thus introduce some old remarks 
of mine, and some new, and will insist on your capital observations in N. 
America. It is a bore to stop , one's work, but he has made me quite 


LIFE AT DOWN. .ETAT. 33-45- 

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 1849, 
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. Dar- 
win 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 

1843, Ju^y- — Week at Maer and Shrewsbury. 
„ October, — Twelve days at Shrewsbury. 

1844, April. — Week at Maer and Shrewsbury. 
J? Ju^y- — Twelve days at Shrewsbury. 

i^^^j September 15. — Six weeks, "Shrewsbury, Lincoln- 
shire, York, the Dean of Manchester, Waterton, 

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. 

i843.] CAPTAIN FITZ-ROY. 299 

1848, May. — Fortnight at Shrewsbury. 
„ July, — Week at SwanagCe 

„ 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. 

185 1, 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 Chob- 

1854, March. — 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. 

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. Fitz-Roy. 

Down [March 31st, 1843]. 

Dear Fitz-Roy, — I read yesterday with surprise and the 
greatest interest, your appointment as Governor of New Zea- 
land. 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 

300 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1843. 

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, 
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, 

Charles Darwin. 

[A quotation from another letter (1846) to Fitz-Roy may 
be worth giving, as showing my father's affectionate remem- 
brance 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 eyes."] 


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 Key- 
serling 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 evi- 
dently 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. Darwin. 

C Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down [1844?]. 

.... I have also read the ^ Vestiges,' * but have been 
somewhat less amused at it than you appear to have been : 

* * The Vestiges of the Natural Histoiy of Creation * was published 
anonymously in 1884, and is confidently believed to have been written by 

302 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1844-5. 

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.* I have 
attended to the several statements scattered about, but do not 
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 her confine- 
ment^ whether anything had affected her imagination, and re- 
corded the answers ; and absolutely not one case came right, 
though, when the child was anything remarkable, they after- 
wards made the cap to fit. Reproduction seems governed by 
such similar Jaws in the whole animal kingdom, that I am 
most loth [to believe]. . . . 

C Darwin 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 can- 
not 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. 

the late Robert Chambers. My father's copy gives signs of having been 
carefully read, a long list of marked passages being pinned in at the end. 
One useful lesson he seems to have learned from it. He writes : " The 
idea of a fish passing into a reptile, monstrous. I will not specify any 
genealogies — much too little known at present." He refers again to the 
book in a letter to Fox, February, 1845 : *' Have you read that strange, 
unphilosophical. but capitally-written book, the * Vestiges ' : it has made 
more talk than any work of late, and has been by some attributed to me — 
at which I ought to be much flattered and unflattered." 

* This refers to the case of a relative of Sir J. Hooker's, who insisted 
that a mole, which appeared on one of her children, was the effect of fright 
upon herself on having, before the birth of the child, blotted with sepia 
a copy of Turner's * Liber Studiorum ' that had been lent to her with spe- 
cial injunctions to be careful. 

i845.] SIR J. D. HOOKER. 


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 geo- 
logical descriptions, lay not such a flattering unction on my 
soul * for it is incredible. I have long discovered that geolo- 
gists 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 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 dis- 
cussion 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. 

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 

* On the same subject he wrote to Fitz-Roy : ** I have sent my * South 
American Geology * to Dover Street, and you will get it, no doubt, in the 
course of time. You do not know what you threaten when you propose to 
read it — it is purely geological. I said to my brother, ' You will of course 
read it,* and his answer was, * Upon my life, I would sooner even buy it.* " 

f Sir J. D. Hooker was a candidate for the Professorship of Botany at 
Edinburgh University. 

304 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1845. 

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 disap- 
pointment ; and in a mere selfish point of view, as aiding me 
in my work, your loss is indeed irreparable. But, on the 
other hand, I cannot doubt that you take at present a de- 
sponding, 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 and dull listeners which you 
expect for your audience. Reflect what a satisfaction and 
honour it would be to 7nake a good botanist — with your dis- 
position 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 ex- 
ceedingly 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 conse- 
quences 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 

i845.] THE 'JOURNAL.' 


sincere congratulations. Thanks for all your news. I grieve 
to hear Humboldt 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 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, 

C. Darwin. 

[The second edition of the ' Journal,* to which the follow- 
ing letter refers, was completed between April 25th and Au- 
gust 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 150/. 

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.] 

3o6 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1845. 

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 refer- 
ence, how much I geologically owe you. Those authors, how- 
ever, 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 
improved 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 f 
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, espe- 
cially 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 descrip- 
tion 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 

* No doubt proof-sheets. 

\ The dedication of the second edition of the * Journal of Researches,' 
is as follows :— " To Charles Lyell, Esq., F. R. S., this second edition is 
dedicated with grateful pleasure — as an acknowledgment that the chief 
part of whatever scientific merit this Journal and the other works of the 
Author may possess, has been derived from studying the well-known and 
admirable ' Principles of Geology.' '* 

i845.] LYELL'S * NORTH AMERICA.' 307 

as new, though it has so struck me, and has placed in my 
mind all the difficulties with respect to the causes of extinc- 
tion, in the same class with other difficulties which are gener- 
ally 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 exceed- 
ingly 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 in- 
terest me, and how many passages will be scored. I am 
pleased to find a good sprinkling of Natural History ; I shall 
be astonished if it does not sell very largely. . . . 

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. Darwin. 

C, Darwin 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.f 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 in- 
terested 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 

* * Travels in North America,* 2 vols., 1845. 

\ Of the second edition of the * Journal of Researches.* 

3o8 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1845. 

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, /. 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 comparatively 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 
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 geo- 
graphical 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 admi- 
ration, I should have feared there would have been too much 
geology in this for the general reader ; certainly all that the 
most clear and light style could do, has been done. To my- 
self the geology was an excellent, well-condensed, well-di- 
gested resume of all that has been made out in North Amer- 
ica, 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 
fragments. I have now given you an exact transcript of my 
thoughts, but they are hardly w^orth your reading. . . . 

C. Darwin to C Lyell, 

Down, August 25th [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 


LIFE AT DOWN. JETAT, 33-45- [1845. 

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 
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 Lind- 
ley 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 cate- 
gory 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 
shall 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. . . , 

* In the passage referred to, Lyell does not give his own views, but 
those of a planter. 

i845.] * COSMOS.' 311 

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 errone- 
ously 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 consolation to you. Proh pudor ! I am vexed and indig- 
nant 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 ^ 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. 

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 

* A translation of Humboldt's * Kosmos.* 

\ He speaks of his Lincolnshire farm in a letter to Henslow (July 
4th) : — " I have bought a farm in Lincolnshire, and when I go there this 
autumn, I mean to see what I can do in providing any cottage on my small 
estate with gardens. It is a hopeless thing to look to, but I believe few 
things would do this country more good in future ages than the destruction 


LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1845. 

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 with my 
visit there. He is an amusing strange fellow ; at our early 
dinner, our party consisted of two Catholic priests and two 
Mulattresses ! 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 ; f though I 
find it 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 

of primogeniture, so as to lessen the difference in land-wealth, and make 
more small freeholders. How atrociously unjust are the stamp laws, which 
render it so expensive for the poor man to buy his quarter of an acre ; it 
makes one's blood burn with indignation." 

* Hon. and Rev. W. Herbert. The visit is mentioned in a letter to 
Dr. Hooker : — ** I have been taking a little tour, partly on business, and 
visited the Dean of Manchester, and had very much interesting talk with 
him on hybrids, sterility, and variation, &c., &c. He is full of self-gained 
knowledge, but knows surprisingly little what others have done on the same 
subjects. He is very heterodox on 'species': not much better, as most 
naturalists would esteem it, than poor Mr. Vestiges." 

f Sedgwick's review of the * Vestiges of Creation ' in the * Edinburgh 
Review,' July, 1845. 

1846.] BOTANY. 313 

milk and water. Have you read * Cosmos ' yet ? The Eng- 
lish 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 Horners, but you must not 
think of wasting your time by writing to me. We shall miss, 
indeed, 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. 

C Darwin to J. 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 Horners 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- 
sideringit 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 im- 
pression, 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, 

* Sir J. D. Hooker's Antarctic Botany. 


LIFE AT DOWN, ^TAT. 33-45. 

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.' * Have you read it : it struck me as 
extremely original, and bears directly on your present re- 
searches. f 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 
courage and stomach do not fail, for the Brit. Assoc. (Do 
you not consider it your duty to be there 1^ And why cannot 
you come here afterward and work ^ . . . . 

The Monograph of the Cirripedia, 
October 1846 to October 1854. 

[Writing to Sir J. D. Hooker in 1845, my 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 Cir- 
ripedes. 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 Cir- 
ripede I had to examine and dissect many of the common 
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 \ 

* * Journal of the Horticultural Society,' 1846. 

f Sir J. D. Hooker was at this time attending to polymorphism, varia- 
bility, &c. 



he wrote in his Autobiography — " My work was of consider- 
able use to me, when I had to discuss in the ^ Origin of Spe- 
cies/ the principles of a natural classification. Nevertheless 
I doubt whether the work was worth the consumption of so 
much time." Yet I learn from Sir J. D. Hooker that he cer- 
tainly recognised at the time its value to himself as system- 
atic training. Sir Joseph writes to me : " Your father recog- 
nised 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 natu- 
ralist 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 natu- 
ralist 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 mer- 
its 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, pro- 
vided that their work was honest, and good of its kind. I 
have always regarded it as one of the finest traits of 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 biologi- 
:al science, and it has always struck me as a remarkable in- 
stance of his scientific insight, that he saw the necessity of 
jiving himself such training, and of his courage, that he did 
lot shirk the labour of obtaining it. 

'^ The great danger which besets all men of large specula- 
:ive faculty, is the temptation to deal with the accepted state- 

3i6 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. 

ments of facts in natural science, as if they were not only 
correct, but exhaustive ; as if they might be dealt with de- 
ductively, 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 observation 
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. 

" 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 admi- 
rable piece of work, and constituted a great addition to posi- 
tive 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 practi- 
cable, 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 


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 contain. The 
forty plates, some of them with thirty figures, and the four- 
teen pages of index in the two volumes together, 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 description of which occupies 
twenty-two pages, occupied him for thirty-six days ; Coro- 
nula 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 dissecting a little ani- 
mal about the size of a pin*s head, from the Chonos archi- 
pelago, 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 waiting my old geological observations, it is delightful to 
use one's eyes and fingers again." It was, in fact, a return to 

* The reader unacquainted with Zoology will find some account of the 
more interesting results in Mr. Romane's article on ** Charles Darwin" 
('Nature' Series, 1882). 

f Vol. i. p. 3. 

3i8 LIFE AT DOWN. .^TAT. 33-45. 

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- 
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 ^^ 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 influ- 
ence 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. D. 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, ^e notes in his diary: — "January ist to 
March loth. — Health very bad, with much sickness and fail- 
ure of power. Worked on all well days." This was written 
just before his first visit to Dr. Gully's Water-Cure Establish- 
ment 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 extra- 
ordinary effect in producing indolence and stagnation of 
mind : till experiencing it, I could not have believed it possi- 
ble. I now increase in weight, have escaped sickness for 
thirty days/* He returned in June, after sixteen weeks' ab- 
sence, much improved in health, and, as already described (p. 
108), 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 accumu- 
lation of notes on species and varieties, which, with writ- 
ing, I dare say will take me five years, and then, when pub- 
lished, I dare say I shall stand infinitely low in the opinion 
of all sound Naturalists — so this is my prospect for the fu- 

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 : 
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 

* Admiral Sir B. J. Sulivan, formerly an officer of the Beagle. 

320 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT, 33-45. [1847. 

wish you had been there. On Sunday we had so pleasant an 
excursion to Winchester with Falconer,* Colonel Sabine,t and 
Dr. Robinson, J and others. I never enjoyed a day more in 
my life. I missed having a look at H. Watson.* I suppose 
you heard that he met Forbes and told him he had a severe 
article in the Press. I understood 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 de- 
clined. ... 

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 

* Hugh Falconer, born 1809, died 1865. Chiefly known as a palaeontol- 
ogist, although employed as a botanist during his whole career m India, 
where he was also a medical officer in H. E. I. C. Service ; he was super- 
intendent of the Company's garden, first at Saharunpore, and then at Cal- 
cutta. He was one of the first botanical explorers of Kashmir. Falconer's 
discoveries of Miocene mammalian remains in the Sewalik Hills, were, at 
the time, perhaps the greatest "finds" which had been made. His book 
on the subject, * Fauna Antiqua Sivalensis,* remained unfinished at the 
time of his death. 

f The late Sir Edward Sabine, formerly President of the Royal Society, 
and author of a long series of memoirs on Terrestrial Magnetism. 

% The late Dr. Thomas Romney Robinson, of the Armagh Observa- 

* The late Hewett Cottrell Watson, author of the *Cybele Britannica,* 
one of a most valuable series of works on the topography and geographical 
distribution of the plants of the British Islands. 


you over your improved prospects about India,* but at the 
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 hy- 
potheses. It will be a horrid shame if money stops your expe- 
dition ; 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; the 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, Dai'win to L. Jenyns {Blomejield), 

Down [1847J. 

Dear Jenyns, — I am very much obliged for the capital 
little Almanack ; f 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 ap- 

* Sir J. Hooker left England on November 11, 1847, for his Hima- 
layan and Tibetan journey. The expedition was supported by a small 
grant from the Treasury, and thus assumed the character of a Government 

f " This letter relates to a small Almanack first published in 1843, 
under the name of * The Naturalists' Pocket Almanack,' by Mr. Van 
Voorst, and which I edited for him. It was intended especially for those 
who interest themselves in the periodic phenomena of animals and plants, 
of which a select list was given under each month of the year. 

" The Pocket Almanack contained, moreover, miscellaneous informa- 
tion relating to Zoology and Botany ; to Natural History and other scien- 
tific societies ; to public Museums and Gardens, in addition to the ordi- 
nary celestial phenomena found in most other Almanacks. It continued 
to be issued till 1847, after which year the publication was abandoned." — 
From a letter from Rev. L. Blomefield to F. Darwin, 


LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1847. 

pearance of the plants and animals around one ; it gives a 
fresh interest to each fine day. There is one point 1 should 
like to see a little improved, viz., the correction for the clock 
at shorter intervals. Most people, I suspect, who like myself 
have dials, will wish to be more precise than with a margin 
of three minutes. I always buy a shilling almanack for this 
sole end. By the way, yours^ /. <?., 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, 

Charles Darwin. 

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 com- 
monest (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. 


1847] H- C. WATSON. 323 

would write ; but I suppose he has written a good deal in 
the * Phytologist.' You ought to encourage him to publish 
on variation ; it is a shame that such facts as those in his let- 
ter should remain unpublished. I must get you to introduce 
me to him ; would he be a good and sociable man for Drop- 
more ? * though if he comes, Forbes must not (and I think 
you talked of inviting Forbes), or we shall have a glorious bat- 
tle. 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,! 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 Ajmals 
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, 

C. Darwin. 

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 made from Oxford — when the British 
Association met there in 1847. 

f Of the Botany of Hooker's * Antarctic Voyage.' 


LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 3345. [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 t 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, /. <f., could live from 5 to 100 fathoms under water, 
all difficulties of nearly all kinds would be removed (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 ! 

Many thanks for your welcome note from Cambridge, and 
I am glad you like my alma mater., 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 ^ Webb ' is well wrapped up, and with your name in 
large letters outside. 

My new microscope is come home (a ^* splendid play- 


* An unfulfilled prophecy. 

1847] COAL. 325 

thing," 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 ex- 
tremely 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. 

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 wTiting entailed an 
answer from you nolens volens^ it would destroy all my pleas- 
ure in writing. Firstly, I did not consider my letter as 
reasonings or even as speculation^ but simply as mental rioting; 
and as I w^as 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 be- 
tween 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 sitUy should have preserved drifted plants ? 
I know Calamites is found upright ; but I fancied its affini- 
ties were very obscure, like Sigillaria. As for Lepidoden- 
dron, I forgot its existence, as happens when one goes riot, 
and now know neither what it is, or whether upright. If 
these plants, /. e, Calamites and Lepidodendron, have very 
clear relations to terrestrial vegetables, like the ferns have, 
and are found upright in 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. 

326 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45- [1S47. 

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 1 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 
conclusive, 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 founda- 
tion of my letter, and what is my deliberate opinion, though I 
dare say you will think it absurd, is that I would rather trust, 
c ceteris 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 sub- 
ject of affinities and of structure in relation to habits. I can 
hardly analyze the facts on which I have come to this con- 
clusion ; 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. 

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 Sigillaria) 
are so clear^ that they could not have been marine, like, but 
in a greater degree, than the mangrove and sea- wrack, and I 

1847] COAL. '^2y 

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 main- 
tains 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. Any- 
how, I have revenged myself with boring you with a very long 
epistle. Farewell, and be forgiving. Ever yours, 

C. Darwin. 

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 

[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 infer- 
nal 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. 
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."] 

* The late Sir C. Bunbury, well known as a palseobotanist. 

328 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45- [1847. 

C. Darwin to /. 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 under- 
stand 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 

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. 

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 
the greatest proof of friendship I ever received from mortal 
man. My conscience would have upbraided me in not hav- 
ing come to you on Thursday, but, as it turned out, I could 
not, for I was quite unable to leave Shrewsbury before that 

* Parts of two letters. 

i847.] GLEN ROY. 329 

day, and I reached home only last night, much knocked up. 
Without 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, 

C. Darwin. 
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 horri- 
bly sick." I have not been able to find any published reply 
to Mr. Milne, so that I imagine the ^Svriting" 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- 
companied 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 

* Now Mr. Milne Home. The essay was published in Transactions 
of the Edinburgh Royal Society, vol. xvi. 


LIFE AT DOWN. .ETAT. 33-45. [1847. 

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 Conti- 
nent 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 * mo- 
bility 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 {no^ at co- 
incident 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 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 

* ' Ancient Sea Margins, 1848.' The words quoted by my father should 
be " the mobility of the land was an ascendant idea." 

1848.] ROBERT CHAMBERS. 33 1 

I commence the description of them with saying, that * per- 
ceiving their importance, I examined them with scrupulous 
care,' and expatiate at considerable 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 ter- 
races 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 in- 
dependent 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 done good 
service in calling more attention to the subject of the ter- 
races. 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 aston- 
ishing, that I believe it will with others, as with me, more than 

332 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1848. 

counterbalance his previous caution. I hope that you may 
think better of the book than I do. 

Yours most truly, 

C. Darwin. 

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 Natu- 
ralists appending for perpetuity the name of \X\^ 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.* 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 

* His contempt for the self-regarding spirit in a naturalist is illustrated 
by an anecdote, for which I am indebted to Rev. L. Blomefield. After 
speaking of my father's love of Entomology at Cambridge, Mr. Blomefield 
continues : — ** He occasionally came over from Cambridge to my Vicarage 
at Swafifham Bulbeck, and we went out together to collect insects in the 
woods at Bottisham Hall, close at hand, or made longer excursions in the 
Fens. On one occasion he captured in a large bag net, with which he used 
vigorously to sweep the weeds and long grass, a rare coleopterous insect, 
one of the Lepturidce^ which I myself had never taken in Cambridgeshire. 
He was pleased with his capture, and of course carried it home in triumph. 
Some years afterwards, the voyage of the Beagle having been made in the ; 
interim, talking over old times with him, I reverted to this circumstance, 
and asked if he remembered it. * Oh yes,' (he said,) * I remember it well ; 
and I was selfish enough to keep the specimen, when you were collecting 
materials for a Fauna of Cambridgeshire, and for a local museum in the 
Philosophical Society.' He followed this up with some remarks on the pet- 
tiness of collectors, who aimed at nothing beyond filling their cabinets 
with rare things." 


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 
affectionately 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. 

C, Darwin to Hugh Strickland,^ 

Down, Jan. 29th [1849 J. 

.... What a labour you have undertaken ; I do honour 
your devoted zeal in the good cause of Natural Science. Do 
you happen to have a spare copy of the Nomenclature rules 
published in the * British Association Transactions 1 ' if you 

* Hugh Edwin Strickland, M. A., F. R. S., was born 2nd of March, 
18 1 1, and educated at Rugby, under Arnold, and at Oriel College, Oxford. 
In 1835 and 1836 he travelled through Europe to the Levant with W. J. 
Hamilton, the geologist, wintering in Asia Minor. In 1841 he brought 
the subject of Natural History Nomenclature before the British Associa- 
tion, and prepared the Code of Rules for Zoological Nomenclature, now 
known by his name — the principles of which are very generally adopted. 
In 1843 he was one of the founders (if not the original projector) of the 
Ray Society. In 1845 he married the second daughter of Sir William 
Jardine, Bart. In 1850 he was appointed, in consequence of Buckland*s 
illness, Deputy Reader in Geology at Oxford. His promising career was 
suddenly cut short on September 14, 1853, when, while geologizing in a 
railway cutting between Retford and Gainsborough, he was run over by a 
train and instantly killed. A memoir of him and a reprint of his principal 
contributions to journals was published by Sir William Jardine in 1858 ; 
but he was also the author of * The Dodo and its Kindred' (1848) ; *Bibli- 
ographia Zoologiae' (the latter in conjunction with Louis Agassiz, and 
issued by the Ray Society) ; ' Ornithological Synonyms ' (one volume only 
published, and that posthumously). A catalogue of his ornithological col- 
lection, given by his widow to the University of Cambridge, was compiled 
by Mr. Salvin, and published in 1882. (I am indebted to Prof. Newton 
for the above note.) 

334 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1849. 

have, and would give it to 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, had 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 naturalist 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 Cirripedia 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 
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 

1849.] NOMENCLATURE. 335 

longer tirade. Read my paper or not^ just as you like, and 
return it whenever you please. 

Yours most sincerely, 

C. Darwin. 

Hugh Strickland to C. Darwin. 

The Lodge, Tewkesbury, Jan. 31st, 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 conteract 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 in- 
dicate more precisely the species. Sometimes two men will, 
by accident, give the same name (independently) to two spe- 
cies of the same genus. More frequently a later author will 
misapply the specific name of an older one. Thus the Helix 
ptctris of Montagu is not H, putris of Linnaeus, though Mon- 
tague supposed 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 spe- 
cies of Corvus has borne the same name, it is, of course, un- 
necessary to add the author^s name. Yet even here I hke 
the form Corvus frugilegus, Li?in.^ as it reminds us that this is 
one of the old species, long known, and to be found in the 
* Systema Naturae,' &c. I fear, therefore, that (at least until 
our nomenclature is more definitely settled) it will be impos- 
sible to indicate species with scientific accuracy, without add- 
ing the name of their first author. You may, indeed, do it as 
you propose, by saying in Lam. An. Invert,^ 6^^, but then this 
would be incompatible with the law of priority, for where 

336 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45- [1849^ 

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 o?ie good reference to a 
standard work, especially to 2i 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 ap- 
pending the author's name to the specific one. If I, z, priority 
viauy called a species C Z>., 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 agains.t 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. 
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 edifi- 
cation 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 labour- 
ers, many of them crotchety and half-educated, are rushing 

i849.] NOMENCLATURE. 337 

into the field, and it depends, I think, on the present genera- 
tion whether the science is to descend to posterity a chaotic 
mass, or possessed of some traces of law and organisation. If 
we could only get a congress of deputies from the chief scien- 
tific 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, 

H. E. Strickland. 

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. 
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 Cirripedia 
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 

338 LIFE AT DOWN. JETAT. 33-45- 11849. 

/^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 argu- 
ment of the evil done by the "mihi" 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 in- 
tends to work it out, as he knows that his only claim to merit 
rests on his work being ably done, and has no relation what- 
ever to naming, I give up one point, and grant that reference 
to first describer's name should be given in all systematic 
works, but I think something would be gained if a reference 
was given without the author's name being actually appended 
as part of the binomial name, and I think, except in sys- 
tematic 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 

1849] NOMENCLATURE. 33^ 

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 

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 denned 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 de- 
scribe 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, 

C. Darwin. 

P. S. — In conversation I found Owen and Andrew Smith 
much inclined to throw over the practice of attaching au- 
thors* 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. 

C Darwin 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 im- 
possible. I have great hopes some of my difficulties will dis- 
appear, 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 


LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45, [1849. 

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 recog- 
nise a species without I have the original specimen, which, 
fortunately, I have in many cases in the British Museum. 
Thus far I mean to adopt my notion, as never putting mihi 
or *^ Darwin " 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 13th 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 13th 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 
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 w^hat I was compelled. I thought I was 
rapidly going the way of all flesh. Having heard, accident- 
ally, of two persons who had received much benefit from the 
water-cure, I got Dr. Gully's book, and made further en- 
quiries, 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 cer- 
tain 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. 
Clairvoyance so transcends belief, that one's ordinary facul- 
ties are put out of the question, but in homoeopathy common 
sense and common observation come into play, and both 
these must go to the dogs, if the infinitesimal doses have any 
effect whatever. How true is a remark I saw the other day 
by Quetelet, 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 clair- 
voyant 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 
mesmerism : " With respect to mesmerism, the whole country 
resounds with wonderful facts or tales ... I have just heard 


LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1849. 

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 im- 
possibihty would not prove mesmerism false ; but it is the 
only clear experimentum cruets, 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 
astonished at my own accuracy 1 1 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 in- 
finitely more he saw of Coral Reefs than I did, this is won- 
derfully satisfactory to me. He treats me most courteously. 
There now, my vanity is pretty well satisfied. . . 

1849.] GEOLOGY. 343 

C. Darwin to /. D. Hooker. 

Malvern, April 9th, 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 * Athenaeum,* 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 rea/ good abuse, "presumption," &c. — ended v/ith saying 
that the volume appeared " made up of the scraps and rub- 
bish of the author's portfolio." I most truly enter into what 
you say, and quite believe you that you care only for the re- 
view 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 
interest ; the beasts not having even noticed my three geologi- 
cal 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 any- 
thing. These two letters are, moreover, rather too geologi- 
cal 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 

344 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1849. 

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 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 re- 
ligious 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 14th, 1849. 
... I go on with my aqueous processes, and very steadily 
but slowly gain health and strength. Against all rules, I dined 

* ' A Second Visit to the United States.' 

1849-] LORD STANHOPE. 345 

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 
f addle. . . . 

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 Standhope, that it is all fiddle faddle ; how- 
ever, the other day I got a curious case of a unisexual, instead 
of hermaphrodite cirripede, in which the female had the com- 
mon cirripedial character, and in two valves of her shell had 
two little pockets, in eac/i 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. . . . 

346 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1849. 

C, Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down, October I2tli, 1849. 

... By the way, one of the pleasantest parts of the Brit- 
ish 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 Horners and Robinsons 
(the President) ; but the place was dismal, and I was pre- 
vented, by being unwell, from going to Warwick, though that, 
/. ^., the party, by all accounts, was wonderfully inferior to 
Blenheim, not to say anything of that heavenly day at Drop- 
more. 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, 

* Sir J. Hooker wrote the spirited description of cattle hunting in Sir 
J. Ross's ' Voyage of Discovery in the Southern Regions,' 1847, vol. ii., 
P- 245. 

1849.] WATER-CURE. 347 

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 

The greatest bore, which I find in the water-cure, is the 
having been compelled to give up all reading, except the 
newspapers ; for my daily two and a half hours at the Bar- 
nacles is fully as much as I can do of anything which occu- 
pies the mind ; I am consequently terribly behind in all sci- 
entific books. I have of late been at work at mere species 
describing, 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, cui bono, inquiring, humour. What 
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 j 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 :] 

348 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1851. 

C. Darwin to W. D. Fox, 

Down, April 29th [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. 
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 
bugbears 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 

1852.] EDUCATION. 34Q 

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 excitement. 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 becoming vigourous. You 
ask about water-cure. I take at intervals of two or three 
months, five or six weeks of moderately 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 ist 
vol. for the Ray Society of Pedunculated 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 astonish- 

* His sisters. 


LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1^52. 

ing 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.* Ah, in those days there were 
no professions for sons, no ill-health to fear for them, no Cali- 
fornian gold, no French invasions. How paramount the 
future is to the present when one is surrounded by chil- 
dren. My dread is hereditary ill-health. Even death is bet- 
ter for them. . My dear Fox, your sincere friend, 

C. Darwin. 

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 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 conse- 
quent 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 away. 

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 

* The beetle Panagcetis crux-major. 

i852.] OLD DAYS. 35 1 

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 
unusually 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, 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, 
w^hen 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 

* To the Rev. J. Hughes. 


LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45- [1853. 

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 see you even ask after our pears. We have lots of 
Beurrees d'Aremberg, Winter Nelis, Marie Louise, and *^ Ne 
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 
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 sub- 
stance, and felt hardly anything. 

My dear old friend, yours very affectionately, 

Charles Darwin. 

C. Darwin to W. D. Fox, 

Down, January 29th [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 

i853.] EDUCATION. 353 

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 reasoning 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-end- 
ing subject, but trust I shall really go to press in a few months 
with my second volume on Cirripedes. I have been mu§h 
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 your- 
self 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, 

Charles Darwin. 

C Darwi7t to W. D. Fox. 

13 Sea Houses, Eastbourne, 

[July 15th? i853l. 

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 13th June, when working like a slave with Mr. 
Sowerby at drawing for my second volume, and so put off 
answering it till when I knew I should be at leisure. I was 

354 LIFE AT DOWN. JETAT. 33-45. [1853. 

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 ani- 
mals, 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 health for them it would not signify so much, for I 
cannot but hope, with the enormous emigration, professions 
\^11 somewhat improve. But my bugbear is hereditary weak- 
ness. 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 tor7ncnt 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 6^^., 6^^., 
including some clothes, travelling expenses, &c., is from ;£'iio 
t0;^i20 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 reason- 
ing 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 

i853.] CONDOLENCE. 355 

lately to the Dean of Hereford, who takes most strongly this 
view ; and he tells me that there is a school at Hereford com- 
mencing 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- 
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. Darwin. 

C. Darwin 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 misfortune. Your letter 
affected me so 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 I can well believe, you so lately 

My dear Fox, your affectionate friend, 

Charles Darwin. 

[The following letter refers to the Royal Society's Medal, 
which was awarded to him in November, 1853 :] 

356 I^IFE AT DOWN. zETAT. 33-45- [1853. 

C Darwin 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 con- 
tents certainly surprised me very much, but, though the letter 
was 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 ; 

* John Lindley (b. 1799, d. 1865) was the son of a nurseryman near 
Norwich, through whose failure in business he was thrown at the age of 
twenty on his own resources. He was befriended by Sir W. Hooker, and 
employed as assistant librarian by Sir J. Banks. He seems to have had 
enormous capacity of work, and is said to have translated Richard's 'Ana- 
lyse du Fruit ' at one sitting of two days and three nights. He became 
Assistant-Secretary to the Horticultural Society, and in 1829 was appointed 
Professor of Botany at University College, a post which he held for up- 
wards of thirty years. His writings are numerous : the best known being 
perhaps his * Vegetable Kingdom,* published in 1846. His influence in 
helping to introduce the natural system of classification was considerable, 
and he brought ** all the weight of his teaching and all the force of his 
controversial powers to support it," as against the Linnean system univer- 
sally taught in the earlier part of his career. Sachs points out (Geschichte 
der Botanik, 1875, p. 161), that though Lindley adopted in the main a 
sound classification of plants, he only did so by abandoning his own the- 
oretical principle that the physiological importance of an organ is a meas- 
ure of its classificatory value. 

i854.] GEOLOGY. 357 

and what a good, dear, kind fellow you are, nevertheless, to 
rejoice in this honour being bestowed on me. 

V^hdit pleasure I have felt on the occasion, I owe almost 
entirely to you. 

Farewell, my dear Hooker, yours affectionately, 

C. Darwin. 

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. Darwin 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, scoriaceous 
cliffs ; but of those hot 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 circum- 
ference than in the middle of the island ; do you suppose the 
elevation has had the form of a fiat dome. I remember in the 


358 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1854. 

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 
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 Labyrinthodon. 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 meas- 
ure by dedicating it to me ! As for myself, I am got to the 
page 112 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 

* Sir J. Hooker's * Himalayan Journal.' 

1854.] 'HIiMALAYAN JOURNAL.' 359 

republican from the influx of Americans, and that all the 
great and novel schemes for v/orking 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, 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 party. 

My dear Lyell, 

Yours most truly and affectionately, 

C. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down, March 1st [1854]. 

My dear Hooker, — I finished yesterday evening the 
first volume, and I very sincerely congratulate you on hav- 
ing produced a first-class book * — a book which certainly will 
last. I cannot doubt that it will 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 be- 
stowed on these beautiful volumes. 

Your letter, received this morning, has interested me ex- 

* « 

Himalayan Journal.' 

360 LIFE AT DOWN. ^TAT. 33-45. [1854. 

tremely^ 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 how strongly 
I answered, and 1 presume you wanted to know what I should 
feel ; whoever would have dreamed of your being so crafty ? 
1 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 

I am writing an unconscionably long letter, but I must 
return to the Journals, about which I have hardly said any- 
thing 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 pas- 
sages 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 good- 
ness ! it is not very likely that I shall ever go to the Hima- 
laya. 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 ! 

1854] TASMANIA. 361 

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 noX. flow enough till you get 
to Mirzapore on the Ganges (but the Thugs were 7nost inter- 
esting), where the stream seemed to carry you on more 
equably with longer sentences and longer facts and discus- 
sions, &c. In another edition (and 1 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 re- 
markable 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 singu- 
lar 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 Dedica- 
tion 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 

■^ This refers to an unsolicited grant by the Colonial Government 
towards the expenses of Sir J. Hooker's ' Flora of Tasmania.' 


362 LIFE AT DOWN. .^TAT. 33-45- [1854. 

your own fame. I vrish 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. . . . 

Again farewell : I have written a wonderfully long letter. 
Adios, and God bless you. 

My dear Hooker, ever yours, 

C. Darwin. 

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 Dr. 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."] 




On page 67, the growth of the * Origin of Species ' has 
been briefly described in my father's words. The letters 
given in the present and following chapters will illustrate and 
amplify the history thus sketched out. 

It is clear that in the early part of the voyage of the 
Beagle he did not feel it inconsistent with his viev/s to express 
himself in thoroughly orthodox language as to the genesis of 
new species. Thus in 1834 he wrote* at Valparaiso: **I 
have already found beds of recent shells yet retaining their 
colour at an elevation of 1300 feet, and beneath, the level 
country is strewn with them. It seems not a very improbable 
conjecture that the want of animals may be owing to none 
having been created since this country was raised from the 

This passage does not occur in the published * Journal,' 
the last proof of which was finished in 1837 ; and this fact 
harmonizes with the change we know to have been proceed- 
ing in his views. But in the published * Journal ' we find pas- 
sages which show a point of view more in accordance with 
orthodox theological natural history than with his later views. 
Thus, in speaking of the birds Synallaxis and Scytalopus (ist 
edit. p. 353 ; 2nd edit. p. 289), he says : "When finding, as 
in this case, any animal which seems to play so insignificant 

* MS. Journals, p. 46S. 


a part in the great scheme of nature, one is apt to wonder 
why a distinct species should have been created." 

A comparison of the two editions of the * Journal' is in- 
structive, as giving some idea of the development of his views 
on evolution. It does not give us a true index of the mass 
of conjecture which was taking shape in his mind, but it 
shows us that he felt sure enough of the truth of his belief | 
to allow a stronger tinge of evolution to appear in the second 
edition. He has mentioned in the Autobiography (p. 6S) 
that it was not until he read Malthus that he got a clear view 
of the potency of natural selection. This was in 1838 — a 
year after he finished the first edition (it was not published 
tintil 1839), ^^d five years before the second edition was 
written (1845). Thus the turning-point in the formation of 
his theory took place between the writing of the two editions. 

I will first give a few passages which are practically the 
same in the two editions, and which are, therefore, chiefly of 
interest as illustrating his frame of mind in 1837. 

The case of the tv/o species of Molothrus (ist edit. p. 61 ; 
2nd edit. p. 53) must have been one of the earliest instances 
noticed by him of the existence of representative species — a 
phenomenon which we know (* Autobiography,' p. 68) struck 
him deeply. The discussion on introduced animals (ist edit, 
p. 139; 2nd edit. p. 120) shows how much he was impressed 
by the complicated interdependence of the inhabitants of a 
given area. 

An analogous point of view is given in the discussion (ist 
edit. p. 98 ; 2nd edit. p. 85) of the mistaken belief that large 
animals require, for their support, a luxuriant vegetation ; the 
incorrectness of this view is illustrated by the comparison of 
the fauna of South Africa and South America, and the vege- 
tation of the two continents. The interest of the discussion 
is that it shows clearly our d priori ignorance of the condi- 
tions of life suitable to any organism. 

There is a passage which has been more than once quoted 
as bearing on the origin of his views. It is where he dis- 
cusses the striking difference between the species of mice on 


the east and west of the Andes (ist edit. p. 399) : "Unless 
we suppose the same species to have been created in two dif- 
ferent countries, we ought not to expect any closer similarity 
between the organic beings on the opposite sides of the 
Andes than on shores separated by a broad strait of the sea." 
In the 2nd edit. p. 327, the passage is almost verbally identi- 
cal, and is practically the same. 

There are other passages again which are more strongly 
evolutionary in the 2nd edit., but otherwise are similar to the 
corresponding passages in the ist edition. Thus, in describ- 
ing the blind Tuco-tuco (ist edit. p. 60 ; 2nd edit. p. 52), in 
the first edition he makes no allusion to what Lamarck might 
have thought, nor is the instance used as an example of modi- 
fication, as in the edition of 1845. 

A striking passage occurs in the 2nd edit. (p. 173) on the 
relationship between the " extinct edentata and the living 
sloths, ant-eaters, and armadillos." 

" This wonderful relationship in the same continent be- 
tween the dead and the living, will, I do not doubt, hereafter 
throw more light on the appearance of organic beings on our 
earth, and their disappearance from it, than any other class 
of facts." 

This sentence does not occur in the ist edit., but he was 
evidently profoundly struck by the disappearance of the gigan- 
tic forerunners of the present animals. The difference be- 
tween the discussions in the two editions is most instructive. 
In both, our ignorance of the conditions of life is insisted on, 
but in the second edition, the discussion is made to lead up 
to a strong statement of the intensity of the struggle for life. 
Then follows a comparison between rarity ^ and extinction, 
which introduces the idea that the preservation and domi- 
nance of existing species depend on the degree in which they 
are adapted to surrounding conditions. In the first edition, 

* In the second edition, p. 146, the destruction of Niata cattle by 
droughts is given as a good example of our ignorance of the causes of rar- 
ity or extinction. The passage does not occur in the first edition. 


he is merely " tempted to believe in such simple relations as 
variation of climate and food, or introduction of enemies, or 
the increased number of other species, as the cause of the 
succession of races/* But finally (ist edit.) he ends the 
chapter by comparing the extinction of a species to the ex- 
haustion and disappearance of varieties of fruit-trees : as if 
he thought that a mysterious term of life was impressed on 
each species at its creation. 

The difference of treatment of the Galapagos problem is 
of some interest. In the earlier book, the American type of 
the productions of the islands is noticed, as is the fact that 
the different islands possess forms specially their own, but the 
importance of the whole problem is not so strongly put for- 
ward. Thus, in the first edition, he merely says : — 

" This similarity of type between distant islands and con- 
tinents, while the species are distinct, has scarcely been suffi- 
ciently noticed. The circumstance would be explained, ac- 
cording to the views of some authors, by saying that the crea- 
tive power had acted according to the same law over a wide 
area." — (ist edit. p. 474,) 

This passage is not given in the second edition, and the 
generalisations on geographical distribution are much wider 
and fuller. Thus he asks : — 

'^Why were their aboriginal inhabitants, associated . . . 
in different proportions both in kind arid number from those 
on the Continent, and therefore acting on each other in a dif- 
ferent manner — why were they created on American types of 
organisation ? " — (2nd edit. p. 393.) 

The same difference of treatment is shown elsewhere in 
this chapter. Thus the gradation in the form of beak pre- 
sented by the thirteen allied species of finch is described in 
the first edition (p. 461) without comment. Whereas in the 
second edition (p. 380) he concludes : — 

** One might really fancy that from an original paucity of 
birds in this Archipelago, one species has been taken and 
modified for different ends." 

On the whole it seems to me remarkable that the difference 

NOTE-BOOK OF 1837. 367 

between the two editions is not greater ; it is another proof 
of the author's caution and self-restraint in the treatment of 
his theory. After reading the second edition of the ' Jour- 
nal/ we find with a strong sense of surprise how far devel- 
oped were his views in 1837. We are enabled to form an 
opinion on this point from the note-books in which he wrote 
down detached thoughts and queries. I shall quote from the 
first note-book, completed between July 1837 and February 
1838 : and this is the more worth doing, as it gives us an in- 
sight into the condition of his thoughts before the reading of 
Malthus. The notes are written in his most hurried style, 
so many words being omitted, that it is often difficult to 
arrive at the meaning. With a few exceptions (indicated by 
square brackets) * I have printed the extracts as written ; the 
punctuation, however, has been altered, and a few obvious 
slips corrected where it seemed necessary. The extracts are 
not printed in order, but are roughly classified. f 

" Propagation explains why modern animals same type as 
extinct, which is law, almost proved." 

" We can see why structure is common in certain countries 
when we can hardly believe necessary, but if it was necessary 
to one forefather, the result would be as it is. Hence ante- 
lopes at Cape of Good Hope; marsupials at Australia." 

" Countries longest separated greatest differences — if sepa- 
rated from immersage, possibly two distinct types, but each 
having its representatives — as in Australia." 

" Will this apply to whole organic kingdom when our 
planet first cooled ^ " 

The two following extracts show that he applied the theory 

* In the extracts from the note-book ordinary brackets represent my 
father's parentheses. 

f On the first page of the note-book, is written *' Zoonomia " ; this 
seems to refer to the first few pages in which reproduction by gemmation 
is discussed, and where the " Zoonomia " is mentioned. Many pages have 
been cut out of the note-book, probably for use in writing the Sketch of 
1844, and these would have no doubt contained the most interesting 


of evolution to the ^^ whole organic kingdom " from plants to 

'* If we choose to let conjecture run wild, then animals, 
our fellow brethren in pain, disease, death, suffering and fam- 
ine — our slaves in the most laborious works, our companions 
in our amusements — they may partake [of?] our origin in one 
common ancestor — we may be all melted together/* 

*^ The different intellects of man and animals not so great 
as between living things without thought (plants), and living 
things with thought (animals)." 

The following extracts are again concerned with an cl priori 
view of the probability of the origin of species by descent 
[" propagation," he called it]. 

*^ The tree of life should perhaps be called the coral of 
life, base of branches dead ; so that passages cannot be 

^' There never may have been grade between pig and tapir, 
yet from some common progenitor. Now if the intermediate 
ranks had produced infinite species, probably the series would 
have been more perfect." 

At another place, speaking of intermediate forms he 
says : — 

^* Cuvier objects to propagation of species by saying, why 
have not some intermediate forms been discovered between 
Palaeotherium, Megalonyx, Mastodon, and the species now 
living ? Now according to my view (in S. America) parent of 
all Armadilloes might be brother to Megatherium — uncle now 

Speaking elsewhere of intermediate forms, he remarks : — 

^^ Opponents will say — show them me. I will answer yes, if 
you will show me every step between bulldog and grey- 

Here we see that the case of domestic animals was already 
present in his mind as bearing on the production of natural 
species. The disappearance of intermediate forms naturally 
leads up to the subject of extinction, with which the next 
extract begins. 

NOTE-BOOK OF 1837. 36^ 

" It is a v/ohderful fact, horse, elephant, and mastodon, 
dying out about same time in such different quarters. 

^^ Will Mr. Lyell say that some [same ?] circumstance 
killed it over a tract from Spain to South America ? — 

" They die, without they change, like golden pippins ; it 
is a generation of species like generation of individuals. 

'' Why does individual die ? To perpetuate certain peculi- 
arities (therefore adaptation), and obliterate accidental varie- 
ties, and to accommodate itself to change (for, of course, 
change, even in varieties, is accommodation). Now this 
argument applies to species. 

^* If individual cannot propagate he has no issue — so with 

''' If species generate other species^ their race is not utterly 
cut off :~,like golden pippins, if produced by seed, go on — 
otherwise all die. 

" The fossil horse generated, in South Africa, zebra — and 
continued — perished in America. 

'' All animals of same species are bound together just like 
buds of plants, which die at one time, though produced either 
sooner or later. Prove animals like plants — trace gradation 
between associated and non-associated animals — and the story 
will be complete." 

Here we have the view already alluded to of a term of life 
impressed on a species. 

But in the following note we get extinction connected with 
unfavourable variation, and thus a hint is given of natural 
selection : 

'^ W^ith respect to extinction, we can easily see that [a] 
variety of [the] ostrich (Petise), may not be well adapted, 
and thus perish out ; or, on the other hand, like Orpheus [a 
Galapagos bird], being favourable, many might be produced. 
This requires [the] principle that the permanent variations 
produced by confined breeding and changing circumstances 
are continued and produced according to the adaptation of 
such circumstance, and therefore that death of species is a 



consequence (contrary to what would appear from America) 
of non-adaptation of circumstances." 

The first part of the next extract has a similar bearing. 
The end of the passage is of much interest, as showing that 
he had at this early date visions of the far-reaching character 
of the theory of evolution : — 

'* With belief of transmutation and geographical grouping, 
we are led to endeavour to discover causes of change ; the 
manner of adaptation (wish of parents 1 .?), instinct and struct- 
ure becomes full of speculation and lines of observation. 
View of generation being condensation,* test of highest or- 
ganisation intelligible .... My theory would give zest to 
recent and fossil comparative anatomy ; it would lead to the 
study of instincts, heredity, and mind-heredity, whole [of] 

" It would lead to closest examination of hybridity, regene- 
ration, causes of change in order to know what we have come 
from and to what we tend — to what circumstances favour 
crossing and what prevents it — this, and direct examination 
of direct passages of structure in species, might lead to laws 
of change, which would then be the main object of study, to 
guide our speculations." 

The following two extracts have a similar interest ; the 
second is especially interesting, as it contains the germ of 
concluding sentence of the * Origin of Species ' : f — 

" Before the attraction of gravity discovered it might have 
been said it was as great a difficulty to account for the 
movement of all [planets] by one law, as to account for each 
separate one ; so to say that all mammalia were born from 

* I imagine him to mean that each generation is " condensed " to a 
small number of the best organized individuals. 

\ 'Origin of Species ' (edit, i.), p. 490 : — " There is a grandeur in this 
view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into 
a few forms or into one ; and that whilst this planet has gone cycling on 
according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless 
forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being 

NOTE-BOOK OF 1837. 37 1 

one stock, and since distributed by such means as we can 
recognise, may be thought to explain nothing. 

"Astronomers might formerly have said that God fore- 
ordered each planet to move in its particular destiny. In the 
same manner God orders each animal created with certain 
forms in certain countries, but how much more simple and 
sublime [a] power — let attraction act according to certain 
law, such are inevitable consequences — let animals be cre- 
ated, then by the fixed laws of generation, such will be their 

*^ Let the powers of transportal be such, and so will be the 
forms of one country to another — let geological changes go 
at such a rate, so will be the number and distribution of the 
species ! ! " 

The three next extracts are of miscellaneous interest : — 
** When one sees nipple on man's breast, one does not say 
some use, but sex not having been determined — so with use- 
less wings under elytra of beetles — born from beetles with 
wings, and modified — if simple creation merely, would have 
been born without them." 

" In a decreasing population at any one moment fewer 
closely related (few species of genera) ; ultimately few genera 
(for otherwise the relationship would converge sooner), and 
lastly, perhaps, some one single one. Will not this account 
for the odd genera with few species which stand between 
great groups, which we are bound to consider the increasing 
ones ? '* 

The last extract which I shall quote gives the germ of his 
theory of the relation between alpine plants in various parts 
of the world, in the publication of which he was forestalled 
by E. Forbes (see vol. i. p. 72). He says, in the 1837 note- 
book, that alpine plants, *^ formerly descended lower, there- 
fore [they are] species of lower genera altered, or northern 

When we turn to the Sketch of his theory, written in 1844 
(still therefore before the second edition of the * Journal ' was 
completed), we find an enormous advance made on the note- 



book of 1837. The Sketch is in fact a surprisingly complete 
presentation of the argument afterwards familiar to us in the 
' Origin of Species/ There is some obscurity as to the date 
of the short Sketch which formed the basis of the 1844 Essay. 
We know from his own words (vol. i., p. 68), that it was in 
June 1842 that he first wrote out a short sketch of his views.* 
This statement is given with so much circumstance that it 
is almost impossible to suppose that it contains an error of 
date. It agrees also with the following extract from his 

1842. May i8th. Went to Maer. 

^^ June 15th to Shrewsbury, and on i8th to Capel Curig. 
During my stay at Maer and Shrewsbury (five years after 
commencement) wrote pencil-sketch of species theory." 

Again in the introduction to the ' Origin,' p. i, he writes, 
"after an interval of five years' work" [from 1837, i. e, in 
1842], *' I allowed myself to speculate on the subject, and 
drew up some short notes." 

Nevertheless in the letter signed by Sir C. Lyell and Sir 
J. D. Hooker, which serves as an introduction to the joint 
paper of Messrs. C. Darwin and A. Wallace on the * Tendency 
of Species to form Varieties,' f the essay of 1844 (extracts 
from which form part of the paper) is said to have been 
"sketched in 1839, and copied in 1844." This statement is 
obviously made on the authority of a note written in my 
father's hand across the Table of Contents of the 1844 Essay. 
It is to the following effect: "This was sketched in 1839, 
and copied out in full, as here written and read by you in 
1844." I conclude that this note was added in 1858, when 
the MS. was sent to Sir J. D. Hooker (see Letter of June 29, 
1858, p. 476. There is also some further evidence on this 
side of the question. Writing to Mr. Wallace (Jan. 25, 1859) 
my father says : — " Every one whom I have seen has thought 

* This version I cannot find, and it was probably destroyed, like so 
much of his MS., after it had been enlarged and re-copied in 1844. 
f * Linn. Soc. Journal,' 1858, p. 45. 

SKETCH OF 1844. 373 

your paper very well written and interesting. It puts my 
extracts (written in 1839, now just twenty years ago !), which 
I must say in apology were never for an instant intended for 
publication, into the shade." The statement that the earliest 
sketch was written in 1839 has been frequently made in bio- 
graphical notices of my father, no doubt on the authority of 
the * Linnean Journal,' but it must, I think, be considered as 
erroneous. The error may possibly have arisen in this way. 
In writing on the Table of Contents of the 1844 MS. that it 
was sketched in 1839, I think my father may have intended 
to imply that the framework of the theory was clearly thought 
out by him at that date. In the Autobiography (p. 71) he 
speaks of the time, ^' about 1839, when ^^^ theory was clearly 
conceived," meaning, no doubt, the end of 1838 and begin- 
ning of 1839, when the reading of Malthus had given him the 
key to the idea of natural selection. But this explanation 
does not apply to the letter to Mr. Wallace ; and with regard 
to the passage* in the ^Linnean Journal' it is difficult to 
understand how it should have been allowed to remain as it 
now stands, conveying, as it clearly does, the impression that 
1839 was the date of his earliest written sketch. 

The sketch of 1844 is written in a clerk's hand, in two 
hundred and thirty-one pages folio, blank leaves being alter- 
nated with the MS. with a view to amplification. The text 
has been revised and corrected, criticisms being pencilled by 
himself on the margin. It is divided into two parts : I. ^' On 
the variation of Organic Beings under Domestication and in 
their Natural State." II. " On the Evidence favourable and 
opposed to the view that Species are naturally formed races 
descended from common Stocks.'* The first part contains 
the main argument of the * Origin of Species.' It is founded, 
as is the argument of that work, on the study of domestic 
animals, and both the Sketch and the * Origin ' open with a 

* My father certainly saw the proofs of the paper, for he added a foot- 
note apologising for the style of the extracts, on the ground that the '* work 
was never intended for publication." 


chapter on variation under domestication and on artificial 
selection. This is followed, in both essays, by discussions on 
variation under nature, on natural selection, and on the 
struggle for life. Here, any close resemblance between the 
two essays with regard to arrangement ceases. Chapter III. 
of the Sketch, which concludes the first part, treats of the 
variations which occur in the instincts and habits of animals, 
and thus corresponds to some extent with Chapter VII. of 
the 'Origin* (ist edit.). It thus forms a complement to the 
chapters which deal with variation in structure. It seems to 
have been placed thus early in the Essay to prevent the hasty 
rejection of the whole theory by a reader to whom the idea of 
natural selection acting on instincts might seem impossible. 
This is the more probable, as the Chapter on Instinct in the 
^Origin' is specially mentioned (Introduction, p. 5) as one of 
the "most apparent and gravest difficulties on the theory." 
Moreover the chapter in the Sketch ends with a discussion, 

*^ whether any particular corporeal structures are so 

wonderful as to justify the rejection primd facie of our the- 
ory.'* Under this heading comes the discussion of the eye, 
which in the * Origin' finds its place in Chapter VI. under 
''Difficulties on Theory/* The second part seems to have 
been planned in accordance with his favourite point of view 
with regard to his theory. This is briefly given in a letter to 
Dr. Asa Gray, November nth, 1859 : "I cannot possibly be- 
lieve that a false theory would explain so many classes of 
facts, as I think it certainly does explain. On these grounds 
I drop my anchor, and believe that the difficulties will 
slowly disappear/' On this principle, having stated the 
theory in the first part, he proceeds to show to what ex- 
tent various wide series of facts can be explained by its 

Thus the second part of the Sketch corresponds roughly 
to the nine concluding Chapters of the First Edition of the 
* Origin.' But we must exclude Chapter VII. (* Origin ') 
on Instinct, which forms a chapter in the first part of the 
Sketch, and Chapter VIII. (^ Origin ') on Hybridism, a subject 

SKETCH OF 1844. 375 

treated in the Sketch with * Variation under Nature ' in the 
first part. 

The following list of the chapters of the second part of the 
Sketch will illustrate their correspondence with the final 
chapters of the 'Origin.* 

Chapter I. ** On the kind of intermediateness necessary, 
and the number of such intermediate forms." 

This includes a geological discussion, and corresponds to 
parts of Chapters VI. and IX. of the ' Origin.' 

Chapter II. '' The gradual appearance and disappearance 
of organic beings." Corresponds to Chapter X. of the 
' Origin.* 

Chapter III. " Geographical Distribution/* Corresponds 
to Chapters XI. and XII. of the 'Origin.* 

Chapter IV. ''Affinities and Classification of Organic 

Chapter V. "Unity of Type/* Morphology, Embryology. 

Chapter VL Rudimentary Organs. 

These three chapters correspond to Chapter XII. of the 

Chapter VII. Recapitulation and Conclusion. The final 
sentence of the Sketch, which we saw in its first rough form 
in the Note Book of 1837, closely resembles the final sentence 
of the ' Origin,' much of it being identical. The ' Origin * is 
not divided into two " Parts,'* but we see traces of such a 
division having been present in the writer's mind, in this re- 
semblance between the second part of the Sketch and the 
final chapters of the ' Origin.* That he should speak * of the 
chapters on transition, on instinct, on hybridism, and on the 
geological record, as forming a group, may be due to the di- 
vision of his early MS. into two parts. 

Mr. Huxley, who was good enough to read the Sketch at 
my request, while remarking that the " main lines of argu- 
ment,*' and the illustrations employed are the same, points 
out that in the 1844 Essay, "much more weight is attached 

* * Origin,' Introduction, p. 5. 


to the influence of external conditions in producing variation, 
and to the inheritance of acquired habits than in the 

It is extremely interesting to find in the Sketch the first 
mention of principles familiar to us in the * Origin of Species/ 
Foremost among these may be mentioned the principle of 
Sexual Selection, which is clearly enunciated. The important 
form of selection known as *^ unconscious," is also given. Here 
also occurs a statement of the law that peculiarities tend to 
appear in the offspring at an age corresponding to that at 
which they occurred in the parent. 

Professor Newton, who was so kind as to look through 
the 1844 Sketch, tells me that my father's remarks on the 
migration of birds, incidentally given in more than one 
passage, show that he had anticipated the views of some later 

With regard to the general style of the Sketch, it is not to 
be expected that it should have all the characteristics of the 
* Origin,' and we do not, in fact, find that balance and con- 
trol, that concentration and grasp, which are so striking in 
the work of 1859. 

In the Autobiography (p. 6S, vol. i) my father has stated 
what seemed to him the chief flaw of the 1844 Sketch ; he 
had overlooked ** one problem of great importance,** the 
problem of the divergence of character. This point is dis- 
cussed in the * Origin of Species,' but, as it may not be familiar 
to all readers, I will give a short account of the difficulty and 
its solution. The author begins by stating that varieties 
differ from each other less than species, and then goes on : 
** Nevertheless, according to my view, varieties are species in 
process of formation How then does the lesser dif- 
ference between varieties become augmented into the greater 
difference between species."* He shows how an analogous 
divergence takes place under domestication where an origin- 
ally uniform stock of horses has been split up into race-horses, 

* 'Origin,* 1st edit. p. III. 



dray-horses, &c., and then goes on to explain how the same 
principle applies to natural species. " From the simple cir- 
cumstance that the more diversified the descendants from any- 
one species become in structure, constitution, and habits, by 
so much will they be better enabled to seize on many and 
widely diversified places in the polity of nature, and so be 
enabled to increase in numbers." 

The principle is exemplified by the fact that if on one 
plot of ground a single variety of wheat be sown, and on to 
another a mixture of varieties, in the latter case the produce 
is greater. More individuals have been able to exist because 
they were not all of the same variety. An organism becomes 
more perfect and more fitted to survive when by division of 
labour the different functions of life are performed by differ- 
ent organs, In the same way a species becomes more efficient 
and more able to survive when different sections of the species 
become differentiated so as to fill different stations. 

In reading the Sketch of 1844, I have found it difficult to 
recognise the absence of any definite statement of the prin- 
ciple of divergence as a flaw in the Essay. Descent with 
modification implies divergence, and we become so habituated 
to a belief in descent, and therefore in divergence, that we do 
not notice the absence of proof that divergence is in itself an 
advantage. As shown in the Autobiography, my father in 
1876 found it hardly credible that he should have overlooked 
the problem and its solution. 

The following letter will be more in place here than its 
chronological position, since it shows what was my father's 
feeling as to the value of the Sketch at the time of its com- 

C. Darwin to Mrs. Darwin. 

Down, July 5, 1844. 

I have just finished my sketch of my species theory. If, 
as I believe, my theory in time be accepted even by one com- 
petent judge, it will be a considerable step in science. 



I therefore write this in case of my eudden death, as my 
most solemn and last request, which I am sure you will con- 
sider the same as if legally entered in my w411, that you will 
devote ;£"4oo to its publication, and further, will yourself, or 
through Hensleigh,* take trouble in promoting it. I wish 
that my sketch be given to some competent person, with this 
sum to induce him to take trouble in its improvement and 
enlargement. I give to him all my books on Natural History, 
which are either scored or have references at the end to the 
pages, begging him carefully to look over and consider such 
passages as actually bearing, or by possibility bearing, on 
this subject. I wish you to make a list of all such books as 
some temptation to an editor. I also request that you will 
hand over [to] him all those scraps roughly divided in eight 
or ten brown paper portfolios. The scraps, with copied quota- 
tions from various works, are those which may aid my editor. 
I also request that you, or some amanuensis, will aid in de- 
ciphering any of the scraps which the editor may think possi- 
bly of use. I leave to the editor's judgment whether to in- 
terpolate these facts in the text, or as notes, or under appen- 
dices. As the looking over the references and scraps will be 
a long labour, and as the correcting and enlarging and altering 
my sketch will also take considerable time, I leave this sum of 
;^4oo as some remuneration, and any profits from the work. 
I consider that for this the editor is bound to get the sketch 
published either at a publisher's or his own risk. Many of 
the scrap in the portfolios contains mere rude suggestions and 
early views, now useless, and many of the facts will probably 
turn out as having no bearing on my theory. 

With respect to editors, Mr. Lyell would be the best if he 
would undertake it ; I believe he would find the work pleas- 
ant, and he would learn some facts new to him. As the ed- 
itor must be a geologist as well as a naturalist, the next best 
editor would be Professor Forbes of London. The next best 
(and quite best in many respects) would be Professor Hens- 

* Mr. H. Wedgwood. 

SKETCH OF 1844. 375 

low. Dr. Hooker would be very good. The next, Mr. Strick- 
land."* If none of these would undertake it, I would request 
you to consult with Mr. Lyell, or some other capable man for 
some editor, a geologist and naturalist. Should one other 
hundred pounds make the difference of procuring a good 
editor, request earnestly that you will raise ;^Soo. 

My remaining collections in Natural History may be given 
to any one or any museum where it would be accepted. . . . 

[The following note seems to have formed part of the 
original letter, but may have been of later date : 

'^ Lyell, especially with the aid of Hooker (and if any good 
zoological aid), would be best of all. Without an editor will 
pledge himself to give up time to it, it would be of no use 
paying such a sum. 

'* If there should be any difficulty in getting an editor who 
would go thoroughly into the subject, and think of the bear- 
ing of the passages marked in the books and copied out of 
scraps of paper, then let my sketch be published as it is, 
stating that it was done several years ago f and from memory 
without consulting any works, and with no intention of pub- 
lication in its present form." 

The idea that the Sketch of 1844 might remain, in the 
event of his death, as the only record of his work, seems to 
have been long in his mind, for in August 1854, when he had 
finished with the Cirripedes, and was thinking of beginning 
his " species work," he added on the back of the above letter, 
" Hooker by far best man to edit my species volume. August 


* After Mr. Strickland's name comes the following sentence, which has 
been erased but remained legible. ** Professor Owen would be very good ; 
but I presume he would not undertake such a work." 

\ The words " several years ago and," seem to have been added at a 
later date. 


LETTERS, 1 843-1 85 6. 

[The history of my father's life is told more completely 
in his correspondence with Sir J. D. Hooker than in any other 
series of letters ; and this is especially true of the history of 
the growth of the ^ Origin of Species.' This, therefore, seems 
an appropriate place for the following notes, which Sir Joseph 
Hooker has kindly given me. They give, moreover, an in- 
teresting picture of his early friendship with my father : — 

"My first meeting with Mr. Darwin was in 1839, in Tra- 
falgar Square. I was walking with an officer who had been 
his shipmate for a short time in the Beagle seven years be- 
fore, but who had not, I believe, since him. I was intro- 
duced ; the interview was of course brief, and the memory of 
him that I carried away and still retain was that of a rather 
tall and rather broad-shouldered man, with a slight stoop, 
an agreeable and animated expression when talking, beetle 
brows, and a hollow but mellow voice ; and that his greeting 
of his old acquaintance was sailor-like — that is, delightfully 
frank and cordial I observed him well, for I was already 
aware of his attainments and labours, derived from having 
read various proof-sheets of his then unpublished * Journal.' 
These had been submitted to Mr. (afterwards Sir Charles) 
Lyell by Mr. Darwin, and by him sent to his father, Ch. Lyell, 
Esq., of Kinnordy, who (being a very old friend of my father, 
and taking a kind interest in my projected career as a natu- 


ralist) bad allowed me to peruse them. At this time I was 
hurrying on my studies, so as to take my degree before volun- 
teering to accompany Sir James Ross in the Antarctic Expe- 
dition, which had just been determined on by the Admiralty; 
and so pressed for time was I, that I used to sleep with the 
sheets of the ^ Journal ' under my pillow, that I might read 
them between waking and rising. They impressed me pro- 
foundly, I might say despairingly, with the variety of acquire- 
ments, mental and physical, required in a naturalist who 
should follow in Darwin's footsteps, whilst they stimulated me 
to enthusiasm in the desire to travel and observe. 

^' It has been a permanent source of happiness to me 
that I knew so much of Mr. Darwin's scientific work so many 
years before that intimacy began which ripened into feelings 
as near to those of reverence for his life, works, and char- 
acter as is reasonable and proper. It only remains to add 
to this little episode that I received a copy of the ^ Journal ' 
complete, — a gift from Mr. Lyell, — a few days before leaving 

^' Very soon after the return of the Antarctic Expedition 
my correspondence with Mr. Darwin began (December, 1843) 
by his sending me a long letter, warmly congratulating me on 
my return to my family and friends, and expressing a wish to 
hear more of the results of the expedition, of which he had 
derived some knowledge from private letters of my own 
(written to or communicated through Mr. Lyell). Then, 
plunging at once into scientific matters, he directed my atten- 
tion to the importance of correlating the Fuegian Flora with 
that of the Cordillera and of Europe, and invited me to study 
the botanical collections which he had made in the Galapagos 
Islands, as well as his Patagonian and Fuegian plants. 

^* This led to me sending him an outline of the conclusions 
I had formed regarding the distribution of plants in the 
southern regions, and the necessity of assuming the destruc- 
tion of considerable areas of land to account for the relations 
of the flora of the so-called Antarctic Islands. I do not sup- 
pose that any of these ideas were new to him, but they led 

382 GROWTH OF THE 'ORIGIN.' [1843. 

to an animated and lengthy correspondence full of instruc- 

Here follows the letter (1843) to Sir J. D. Hooker above 
referred to.] 

My dear Sir, — I had hoped before this time to have had 
the pleasure of seeing you and congratulating you on your 
safe return from your long and glorious voyage. But as I 
seldom go to London, we may not yet meet for some time — 
without you are led to attend the Geological Meetings. 

I am anxious to know what you intend doing with all your 
materials — I had so much pleasure in reading parts of some 
of your letters, that I shall be very sorry if I, as one of the 
public, have no opportunity of reading a good deal more. 
I suppose you are very busy now and full of enjoyment: 
how well I remember the happiness of my first few months 
of England — it was worth all the discomforts of many a gale ! 
But I have run from the subject, which made me write, of 
expressing my pleasure that Henslow (as he informed me 
a few days since by letter) has sent to you my small collec- 
tion of plants. You cannot think how much pleased I am, 
as I feared they would have been all lost, and few as they are, 
they cost me a good deal of trouble. There are a very few 
notes, which I believe Henslow has got, describing the 
habitats, &c., of some few of the more remarkable plants. 
I paid particular attention to the Alpine flowers of Tierra del 
Fuego, and I am sure I got every plant which was in flower 
in Patagonia at the seasons when we were there. I have long 
thought that some general sketch of the Flora of the point of 
land, stretching so far into the southern seas, would be very 
curious. Do make comparative remarks on the species allied 
to the European species, for the advantage of botanical igno- 
ramuses like myself. It has often struck me as a curious 
point to find cut, whether there are many European genera 
in T. del Fuego which are not found along the ridge of the 
Cordillera; the separation in such case would be so enormous. 
Do point out in any sketch you draw up, what genera are 


American and what European, and how great the differences 
of the species are, when the genera are European, for the 
sake of the ignoramuses. 

I hope Henslow will send you my Galapagos plants (about 
which Humboldt even expressed to me considerable curiosity) 
— I took much pains in collecting all I could. A Flora of 
this archipelago would, I suspect, offer a nearly parallel case 
to that of St. Helena, which has so long excited interest. 
Pray excuse this long rambling note, and believe me, my dear 
sir, yours very sincerely, C. Darwin. 

Will you be so good as to present my respectful compli- 
ments to Sir W. Hooker. 

[Referring to Sir J. D. Hooker's work on the Galapagos 
Flora, my father wrote in 1846 : 

^^ I cannot tell you how delighted and astonished I am at 
the results of your examination ; how wonderfully they sup- 
port my assertion on the differences in the animals of the 
different islands, about which I have always been fearful " 

Again he wrote (1849) • — 

" I received a few weeks ago your Galapagos papers,* and 
I have read them since being here. I really cannot express 
too strongly my admiration of the geographical discussion : 
to my judgment it is a perfect model of what such a paper 
should be; it took me four days to read and think over. 
How interesting the Flora of the Sandwich Islands appears 
to be, how I wish there were materials for you to treat its 
flora as you have done the Galapagos. In the Systematic 
paper I was rather disappointed in not finding general remarks 
on affinities, structures, Src, such as you often give in con- 
versation, and such as De Candolle and St. Hilaire introduced 

* These papers include the results of Sir J. D. Hooker's examination 
of my father's Galapagos plants, and were published by the Linnean 
Society in 1849. 

384 GROWTH OF THE 'ORIGIN.' [1844. 

in almost all their papers, and which make them interesting 
even to a non-Botantist." 

"Very soon afterwards [continues Sir J. D. Hooker] in a 
letter dated January 1844, the subject of the ^ Origin of Spe- 
cies ' was brought forward by him, and I believe that I was 
the first to whom he communicated his then new ideas on the 
subject, and which being of interest as a contribution to the 
history of Evolution, I here copy from his letter " : — ] 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker, 

[January nth, 1844.] 

Besides a general interest about the southern lands, I have 
been now ever since my return engaged in a very presump- 
tuous work, and I know no one individual who would not 
say a very foolish one. I was so struck with the distri- 
bution of the Galapagos organisms, &c. &c., and with the 
character of the American fossil mammifers, &c. &c., that I 
determined to collect blindly every sort of fact, which could 
bear any way on what are species. I have read heaps of 
agricultural and horticultural books, and have never ceased 
collecting facts. At last gleams of light have come, and I am 
almost convinced (quite contrary to the opinion I started 
with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) 
immutable. Heaven forfend me from Lamarck nonsense of 
a *^ tendency to progression," *' adaptations from the slow 
willing of animals," &c.! But the conclusions I am led to are 
not widely different from his ; though the means of change 
are wholly so. I think I have found out (here's presump- 
tion !) the simple way by which species become exquisitely 
adapted to various ends. You will now groan, and think to 
yourself, "on what a man have I been wasting my time 
and writing to.'* I should, five years ago, have thought 
so. . . . 

[The following letter written on February 23, 1844, shows 
that the acquaintanceship with Sir J. D. Hooker was then 

1844.] GALAPAGOS FLORA. 385 

fast ripening into friendship. The letter is chiefly of interest 
as showing the sort of problems then occupying my father's 
mind :] 

Dear Hooker, — I hope you will excuse the freedom of 
my address, but I feel that as co-circum-wanderers and as 
fellow labourers (though myself a very weak one) we may 
throw aside some of the old-world formality. ... I have just 
finished a little volume on the volcanic islands which we 
visited. I do not know how far you care for dry simple 
geology, but I hope you will let me send you a copy. I 
suppose I can send it from London by common coach con- 

... I am going to ask you some more questions, though I 
daresay, without asking them, I shall see answers in your 
work, when published, which will be quite time enough for 
my purposes. First for the Galapagos, you will see in my 
Journal, that the Birds, though peculiar species, have a most 
Dbvious S. American aspect : I have just ascertained the 
same thing holds good with the sea-shells. It is so with 
those plants which are peculiar to this archipelago ; you state 
that their numerical proportions are continental (is not this a 
^ery curious fact ?) but are they related in forms to S. Amer- 
ica. Do you know of any other case of an archipelago, with 
the separate islands possessing distinct representative species? 
[ have always intended (but have not yet done so) to examine 
iWebb and Berthelot on the Canary Islands for this object. 
Talking with Mr. Bentham, he told me that the separate 
slands of the Sandwich Archipelago possessed distinct repre- 
sentative species of the same genera of Labiatae : would not 
:his be worth your enquiry ? How is it with the Azores ; to 
3e sure the heavy western gales would tend to diffuse the 
jame species over that group. 

I hope you will (I dare say my hope is quite superfluous) 
ittend to this general kind of affinity in isolated islands, 
hough I suppose it is more difficult to perceive this sort of 
Relation in plants, than in birds or quadrupeds, the groups of 

386 GROWTH OF THE * ORIGIN.' [1844. 

which are, I fancy, rather more confined. Can St. Helena be 
classed, though remotely, either with Africa or S. America.^ 
From some facts, which I have collected, I have been led to 
conclude that the fauna of mountains are either remarkably 
similar (sometimes in the presence of the same species and at 
other times of same genera), or that they are remarkably dis- 
similar ; and it has occurred to me that possibly part of this 
peculiarity of the St. Helena and Galapagos floras may be 
attributed to a great part of these two Floras being moun- 
tain Floras. I fear my notes will hardly serve to distinguish 
much of the habitats of the Galapagos plants, but they may 
in some cases; most, if not all, of the green, leafy plants 
come from the summits of the islands, and the thin brown 
leafless plants come from the lower arid parts : would you be 
so kind as to bear this remark in mind, when examining my 

I will trouble you with only one other question. In dis- 
cussion with Mr. Gould, I found that in most of the genera 
of birds which range over the whole or greater part of the 
world, the individual species have wider ranges, thus the Owl 
is mundane, and many of the species have very wide ranges. 
So I believe it is with land and fresh-water shells — and I 
might adduce other cases. Is it not so with Cryptogamic 
plants ; have not most of the species wide ranges, in those 
genera which are mundane ? I do not suppose that the 
converse holds, viz. — that w^ien a species has a wide range, 
its genus also ranges wide. Will you so far oblige me by 
occasionally thinking over this ? It would cost me vast 
trouble to get a Hst of mundane phanerogamic genera and 
then search how far the species of these genera are apt to 
range wide in their several countries ; but you might occa- 
sionally, in the course of your pursuits, just bear this in mind, 
though perhaps the point may long since have occurred to_ 
you or other Botanists. Geology is bringing to light interest- 
ing facts, concerning the ranges of shells ; I think it is pretty 
well established, that according as the geographical range of 
a species is wide, so is its persistence and duration in time. I 


hope you will try to grudge as little as you can the trouble of 
my letters, and pray believe me very truly yours, 

C. Darwin. 

P. S. I should feel extremely obliged for your kind offer 
of the sketch of Humboldt ; I venerate him, and after having 
had the pleasure of conversing with him in London, I shall 
still more like to have any portrait of him. 

[What follows is quoted from Sir J. Hooker's notes. 

'^ The next act in the drama of our lives opens with per- 
sonal intercourse. This began with an invitation to breakfast 
with him at his brother's (Erasmus Darwin's) house in Park 
Street ; which was shortly afterwards followed by an invita- 
tion to Down to meet a few brother Naturalists. In the short 
intervals of good health that followed the long illnesses which 
oftentimes rendered life a burthen to him, between 1844 ^^^ 
1847, I had many such invitations, and delightful they were. 
A more hospitable and more attractive home under every 
point of view could not be imagined — -of Society there were 
most often Dr. Falconer, Edward Forbes, Professor Bell, and 
Mr. Waterhouse — there were long walks, romps with the 
children on hands and knees, music that haunts me still. 
Darwin's own hearty manner, hollow laugh, and thorough 
enjoyment of home life with friends ; strolls with him all 
ogether, and interviews with us one by one in his study, to 
discuss questions in any branch of biological or physical 
[knowledge that we had followed ; and which I at any rate 
Iways left with the feeling that I had imparted nothing and 
arried away more than 1 could stagger under. Latterly, as 
is health became more seriously affected, I was for days and 
weeks the only visitor, bringing my work with me and enjoy- 
ng his society as opportunity offered. It was an established 
ule that he every day pumped me, as he called it, for half 
n hour or so after breakfast in his study, w^hen he first 
rought out a heap of slips with questions botanical, geo- 
raphical, &c., for me to answer, and concluded by telling 

388 GROWTH OF THE 'ORIGIN.' [1844. 

me of the progress he had made in his own work, asking my 
opinion on various points. I saw no more of him till about 
noon, when I heard his mellow ringing voice calling my 
name under my window — this was to join him in his daily 
forenoon walk round the sand-walk.* On joining him I 
found him in a rough grey shooting-coat in summer, and 
thick cape over his shoulders in winter, and a stout staff in 
his hand ; away we trudged through the garden, where there 
was always some experiment to visit, and on to the sand- 
walk, round which a fixed number of turns were taken, during 
which our conversation usually ran on foreign lands and seas, 
old friends, old books, and things far off to both mind and 

" In the afternoon there was another such walk, after which 
he again retired till dinner if well enough to join the family ; 
if not, he generally managed to appear in the drawing-room, 
where seated in his high chair, with his feet in enormous car- 
pet shoes, supported on a high stool — he enjoyed the music 
or conversation of his family." 

Here follows a series of letters illustrating the growth of 
my father's views, and the nature of his work during this 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down [1844]. 

. . . The conclusion, which I have come at is, that those 
areas, in which species are most numerous, have oftenest been 
divided and isolated from other areas, united and again di- 
vided ; a process implying antiquity and some changes in the 
external conditions. This will justly sound very hypothetical. 
I cannot give my reasons in detail ; but the most general con- 
clusion, which the geographical distribution of all organic 
beings, appears to me to indicate, is that isolation is the chief 
concomitant or cause of the appearance of new forms (I well 

* See p. 93. 


know there are some staring exceptions). Secondly, from 
seeing how often the plants and animals swarm in a country, 
when introduced into it, and from seeing what a vast number 
of plants will live, for instance in England, if kept free from 
weeds^ and native plants^ I have been led to consider that the 
spreading and number of the organic beings of any country 
depend less on its external features, than on the number of 
forms, which have been there originally created or produced. 
I much doubt whether you will find it possible to explain 
the number of forms by proportional differences of exposure ; 
and I cannot doubt if half the species in any country were 
destroyed or had not been created, yet that country would 
appear to us fully peopled. With respect to original creation 
or production of new forms, I have said that isolation appears 
the chief element. Hence, with respect to terrestrial pro- 
ductions, a tract of country, which had oftenest within the 
late geological periods subsided and been converted into 
islands, and reunited, I should expect to contain most forms. 
But such speculations are amusing only to one self, and 
in this case useless, as they do not show any direct line of 
observation : if I had seen how hypothetical [is] the little, 
which I have unclearly written, I would not have troubled 
you with the reading of it. Believe me, — at last not hypo- 
thetically, Yours very sincerely, 

C. Darwin. 

C, Darwin to J, D. Hooker. 

Down, 1844. 

... I forget my last letter, but it must have been a very 
silly one, as it seems I gave my notion of the number of 
species being in great degree governed by the degree to 
which the area had been often isolated and divided ; I must 
have been cracked to have written it, for I have no evidence, 
without a person be willing to admit all my views, and then 
it does follow ; but in my most sanguine moments, all I 
expect, is that I shall be able to show even to sound Natu- 
ralists, that there are two sides to the question of the immu- 

390 GROWTH OF THE 'ORIGIN.' [1844. 

tability of species ; — that facts can be viewed and grouped 
under the notion of allied species having descended from 
common stocks. With respect to books on this subject, I 
do not know of any systematical ones, except Lamarck^s, 
which is veritable rubbish ; but there are plenty, as Lyell, 
Pritchard, &c., on the view of the immutability. Agassiz 
lately has brought the strongest argument in favour of immu- 
tability. Isidore G. St. Hilaire has written some good Essays, 
tending towards the mutability-side, in the * Suites a Buffon,* 
entitled " Zoolog, Generale." Is it not strange that the author, 
of such a book, as the * Animaux sans Vertebres * should have 
written that insects, which never see their eggs, should will 
(and plants, their seeds) to be of particular forms, so as to 
become attached to particular objects. The other, common 
(specially Germanic) notion is hardly less absurd, viz. that 
climate, food, &c., should make a Pediculus formed to climb 
hair, or wood-pecker, to climb trees. I believe all these 
absurd views arise, from no one having, as far as I know, 
approached the subject on the side of variation under domes- 
tication, and having studied all that is known about domesti- 
cation. I was very glad to hear your criticism on island-floras 
and on non-diffusion of plants : the subject is too long for a 
letter: I could defend myself to some considerable extent, 
but I doubt whether successfully in your eyes, or indeed in 
my own. ... 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker, 

Down [July, 1844]. 

... I am now reading a wonderful book for facts on 
variation — Bronn, ' Geschichte der Natur.' It is stiff German : 
it forestalls me, sometimes I think delightfully, and some- 
times cruelly. You will be ten times hereafter more horrified 
at me than at H. Watson. I hate arguments from results, 
but on my views of descent, really Natural History becomes 
a sublimely grand result-giving subject (now you may quiz 
me for so foolish an escape of mouth). ... I must leave this 


letter till to-morrow, for I am tired ; but I so enjoy writing 
to you, that I must inflict a little more on you. 

Have you any good evidence for absence of insects in 
small islands ? I found thirteen species in Keeling Atoll. 
Flies are good fertilizers, and I have seen a microscopic Thrips 
and a Cecidomya take flight from a flower in the direction of 
another with pollen adhering to them. In Arctic countries a 
bee seems to go as far N. as any flower 

C Darwin to J, D. Hooker, 

Shrewsbury [September, 1845]. 

My dear Hooker, — I write a line to say that Cosmos * 
arrived quite safely [N.B. One sheet came loose in Pt. I.], 
and to thank you for your nice note. I have just begun the 
introduction, and groan over the style, which in such parts is 
full half the battle. How true many of the remarks are (/. e, 
as far as I can understand the wretched English) on the 
scenery ; it is an exact expression of one's own thoughts. 

I wish I ever had any books to lend you in return for the 
many you have lent me. . . . 

All of what you kindly say about my species work does 
not alter one iota my long self-acknowledged presumption in 
accumulating facts and speculating on the subject of varia- 
tion, without having worked out my due share of species. But 
now for nine years it has been anyhow the greatest amuse- 
ment to me. 

Farewell, my dear Hooker, I grieve more than you can 
well believe, over our prospect of so seldom meeting. 

I have never perceived but one fault in you, and that you 
have grievously, viz, modesty ; you form an exception to 
Sydney Smith's aphorism, that merit and modesty have no 
other connection, except in their first letter. Farewell, 

C. Darwin. 

* A translation of Humboldt's ' Kosmos.' 

392 GROWTH OF THE 'ORIGIN.' [1845. 

C. Darwin to L. Jenyns {^Blojne field), 

Down, Oct. I2th, [1845]. 
My dear Jenyns, — Thanks for your note. I am sorry to 
say I have not even the tail-end of a fact in English Zoology 
to communicate. I have found that even trifling observations 
require, in my case, some leisure and energy, both of which 
ingredients I have had none to spare, as writing my Geology 
thoroughly expends both. I had always thought that I would 
keep a journal and record everything, but in the way I now 
live I find I observe nothing to record. Looking after my 
garden and trees, and occasionally a very little walk in an 
idle frame of mind, fills up every afternoon in the same man- 
ner. I am surprised that with all your parish affairs, you have 
had time to do all that which you have done. I shall be very 
glad to see your little work * (and proud should I have been 
if I could have added a single fact to it). My work on the 
species question has impressed me very forcibly with the 
importance of all such works as your intended one, contain- 
ing what people are pleased generally to call trifling facts. 
These are the facts which make one understand the working 
or economy of nature. There is one subject, on which I am 
very curious, and which perhaps you may throw some light 
on, if you have ever thought on it ; namely, what are the 
checks and what the periods of life,— by which the increase 
of any given species is limited. Just calculate the increase 
of any bird, if you assume that only half the young are reared, 
and these breed : within the natural (/. e.^ if free from acci- 
dents) life of the parents the number of individuals will be- 
come enormous, and I have been much surprised to think 
how great destruction must annually or occasionally be falling 

* Mr. Jenyns' * Observations in Natural History.* It is prefaced by an 
Introduction on ** Habits of observing as connected with the study of 
Natural History," and followed by a *' Calendar of Periodic Phenomena in 
Natural History," with " Remarks on the importance of such Registers,'* 
My father seems to be alluding to this Register in the P.S. to the letter 
dated Oct. 17, 1846. 

i845.] STRUGGLE FOR LIFE. 353 

on every species, yet the means and period of such destruc- 
tion is scarcely perceived by us. 

I have continued steadily reading and collecting facts on 
variation of domestic animals and plants, and on the question 
of what are species. I have a grand body of facts, and I 
think I can draw some sound conclusions. The general con- 
clusions at which I have slowly been driven from a directly 
opposite conviction, is that species are mutable, and that 
allied species are co-descendants from common stocks. I 
know how much I open myself to reproach for such a con- 
clusion, but I have at least honestly and deliberately come to 
it. I shall not publish on this subject for several years. At 
present I am on the Geology of South America. I hope to 
pick up from your book some facts on slight variations in 
structure or instincts in the animals of your acquaintance. 

Believe me, ever yours, 

C. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to L. Jenyns.^ 

Down, [1845 ?]. 

My dear Jenyns, — I am very much obliged to you for 
the trouble you have taken in having written me so long 
a note. The question of where, when, and how the check 
to the increase of a given species falls appears to me par- 
ticularly interesting, and our difficulty in answering it shows 
how really ignorant we are of the lives and habits of our most 
familiar species. I was aware of the bare fact of old birds 
driving away their young, but had never thought of the effect 
you so clearly point out, of local gaps in number being thus 
immediately filled up. But the original difficulty remains; 
for if your farmers had not killed your sparrows and rooks, 
what would have become of those which now immigrate into 
your parish.? in the middle of England one is too far distant 
from the natural limits of the rook and sparrow to suppose 

* Rev. L. Blomefield. 

394 GROWTH OF THE ♦ORIGIN." [1845. 

that the young are thus far expelled from Cambridgeshire. 
The check must fall heavily at some time of each species' life ; 
for, if one calculates that only half the progeny are reared 
and bred, how enormous is the increase ! One has, however, 
no business to feel so much surprise at one's ignorance, when 
one knows how impossible it is without statistics to con- 
jecture the duration of life and percentage of deaths to births 
in mankind. If it could be shown that apparently the birds 
of passage which breed here and increase, return in the suc- 
ceeding years in about the same number, whereas those that 
come here for their winter and non-breeding season annually, 
come here with the same numbers, but return with greatly 
decreased numbers, one would know (as indeed seems 
probable) that the check fell chiefly on full-grown birds 
in the winter season, and not on the eggs and very young 
birds, which has appeared to me often the most probable 
period. If at any time any remarks on this subject should 
occur to you, I should be most grateful for the benefit of 

With respect to my far distant work on species, I m\ist 
have expressed myself with singular inaccuracy if I led you 
to suppose that I meant to say that my conclusions were 
inevitable. They have become so, after years of weighing 
puzzles, to myself alone ; but in my wildest day-dream, I 
never expect more than to be able to show that there are two 
sides to the question of the immutability of species, /. e. 
whether species are directly created or by intermediate laws (as 
with the life and death of individuals). I did not approach 
the subject on the side of the difficulty in determining what 
are species and what are varieties, but (though, why I should 
give you such a history of my doings it would be hard to say) 
from such facts as the relationship between the living and 
extinct mammifers in South America, and between those liv- 
ing on the Continent and on adjoining islands, such as the 
Galapagos. It occurred to me that a collection of all such 
analogous facts would throw light either for or against the 
view of related species being co-descendants from a common 

1846.] MR. JENYNS' * OBSERVATIONS.' 395 

stock. A long searching amongst agricultural and horticult- 
ural books and people makes me believe (I well know how 
absurdly presumptuous this must appear) that I see the way 
in which new varieties become exquisitely adapted to the 
external conditions of life and to other surrounding beings. 
I am a bold man to lay myself open to being thought a com- 
plete fool, and a most deliberate one. From the nature of 
the grounds which make me believe that species are mutable 
in form, these grounds cannot be restricted to the closest- 
allied species ; but how far they extend I cannot tell, as my 
reasons fall away by degrees, when applied to species more 
and more remote from each other. Pray do not think that I 
am so blind as not to see that there are numerous immense 
difficulties in my notions, but they appear to me less than on 
the common view. I have drawn up a sketch and had it 
copied (in 200 pages) of my conclusions ; and if I thought at 
some future time that you would think it worth reading, I 
should, of course, be most thankful to have the criticism of 
so competent a critic. Excuse this very long and egotistical 
and ill-written letter, which by your remarks you had led me 
into, and believe me. Yours very truly, 

C. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to L. Jenyns. 

Down, Oct. 17th, 1846. 

Dear Jenyns, — I have taken a most ungrateful length 
of time in thanking you for your very kind present of your 

* Observations.' But I happened to have had in hand several 
other books, and have finished yours only a few days ago. I 
found it very pleasant reading, and many of your facts inter- 
ested me much. I think I was more interested, which is odd, 
with your notes on some of the lower animals than on the 
higher ones. The introduction struck me as very good ; but 
this is what I expected, for I well remember being quite de- 
lighted with a preliminary essay to the first number of the 

* Annals of Natural History.' I missed one discussion, and 

396 GROWTH OF THE 'ORIGIN/ [1846. 

think myself ill-used, for I remember your saying you would 
make some remarks on the weather and barometer, as a guide 
for the ignorant in prediction. I had also hoped to have 
perhaps met with some remarks on the amount of variation in 
our common species. Andrew Smith once declared he would 
get some hundreds of specimens of larks and sparrows from 
all parts of Great Britain, and see whether, with finest meas- 
urements, he could detect any proportional variations in beaks 
or limbs, &c. This point interests me from having lately 
been skimming over the absurdly opposite conclusions of 
Gloger and Brehm ; the one making half-a-dozen species out 
of every common bird, and the other turning so many re- 
puted species into one. Have you ever done anything of this 
kind, or have you ever studied Gloger's or Brehm's w^orks ? 
I was interested in your account of the martins, for I had just 
before been utterly perplexed by noticing just such a pro- 
ceeding as you describe : I counted seven, one day lately, 
visiting a single nest and sticking dirt on the adjoining wall. 
I may mention that I once saw some squirrels eagerly splitting 
those little semi-transparent spherical galls on the back of oak- 
leaves for the maggot within ; so that they are insectivorous. 
A Cychrus rostratus once squirted into my eyes and gave me 
extreme pain ; and I must tell you what happened to me on 
the banks of the Cam, in my early entomological days : under 
a piece of bark I found two Carabi (I forget which), and 
caught one in each hand, when lo and behold I saw a sacred 
Fanagceus crux major ! I could not bear to give up either of 
my Carabi^ and to lose Fanagceus was out of the question ; so 
that in despair I gently seized one of the Carabi between my 
teeth, when to my unspeakable disgust and pain the little in- 
considerate beast squirted his acid down my throat, and I lost 
both Carabi 2c^di Fanagceus! I was quite astonished to hear 
of a terrestrial Flanaria ; for about a year or two ago I de- 
scribed in the * Annals of Natural History * several beautifully 
coloured terrestrial species of the Southern Hemisphere, and 
thought it quite a new fact. By the way, you speak of a 
sheep with a broken leg not having flukes : I have heard my 

,1849.] VARIABILITY. 397 

father aver that a fever, or any serious accident^ as a broken 
limb, will cause in a man all the intestinal worms to be evacu- 
ated. Might not this possibly have been the case with the 
flukes in their early state ? 

I hope you were none the worse for Southampton ; * I wish 
I had seen you looking rather fatter. I enjoyed my week 
extremely, and it did me good. I missed you the last few 
days, and we never managed to see much of each other ; but 
there were so many people there, that I for one hardly saw 
anything of any one. Once again I thank you very cordially 
for your kind present, and the pleasure it has given me, and 
believe me, Ever most truly yours, 

C. Darwin. 

P.S. — I have quite forgotten to say how greatly interested 
I was with your discussion on the statistics of animals : when 
will Natural History be so perfect that such points as you 
discuss will be perfectly known about any one animal ? 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Malvern, June 13 [1849]. 

... At last I am going to press with a small poor first- 
fruit of my confounded Cirripedia, viz. the fossil pedunculate 
cirripedia. You ask what effect studying species has had on 
my variation theories; I do not think much — I have felt 
some difficulties more. On the other hand, I have been 
struck (and probably unfairly from the class) with the varia- 
bility of every part in some slight degree of every species. 
When the same organ is rigorously compared in many indi- 
viduals, I always find some slight variability, and conse- 
quently that the diagnosis of species from minute differences 
is always dangerous. I had thought the same parts of the 
same species more resemble (than they do anyhow in Cirri- 
pedia) objects cast in the same mould. Systematic work 

* The meeting of the British Association. 

398 GROWTH OF THE 'ORIGIN.' [1849. 

would be easy were it not for this confounded variation, 
which, however, is pleasant to me as a speculatist, though 
odious to me as a systematist. Your remarks on the dis- 
tinctness (so unpleasant to me) of the Himalayan Rubi, wil- 
lows, &c., compared with those of northern [Europe ?], &c., 
are very interesting ; if my rude species-sketch had any small 
share in leading you to these observations, it has already 
done good and ample service, and may lay its bones in the 
earth in peace. I never heard anything so strange as Fal- 
coner's neglect of your letters ; I am extremely glad you are 
cordial with him again, though it must have cost you an 
effort. Falconer is a man one must love. . . . May you pros- 
per in every way, my dear Hooker. 

Your affectionate friend, 

C. Darwin. 

C, Darwin to J, D. Hooker. 

Down, Wednesday [September, n. d.]. 
. . . Many thanks for your letter received yesterday, 
which, as always, set me thinking : I laughed at your attack 
at my stinginess in changes of level towards Forbes,* being 
so liberal towards myself ; but I must maintain, that I have 
never let down or upheaved our mother-earth's surface, for 
the sake of explaining any one phenomenon, and I trust I 
have very seldom done so without some distinct evidence. 
So I must still think it a bold step (perhaps a very true one) 

* Edward Forbes, born in the Isle of Man 18 15, died 1854. His best 
known work was his Report on the distribution of marine animals at dif- 
ferent depths in the Mediterranean. An important memoir of his is re- 
ferred to in my father's * Autobiography,' p. 72. He held successively the 
posts of Curator to the Geological Society's Museum, and Professor of 
Natural History in the Museum of Practical Geology ; shortly before he 
died he was appointed Professor of Natural History in the University of 
Edinburgh. He seems to have impressed his contemporaries as a man of 
strikingly versatile and vigorous mind. The above allusion to changes of 
level refers to Forbes's tendency to explain the facts of geographical dis- 
tribution by means of an active geological imagination. 

1849] LAMARCK, THE * VESTIGES.' 399 

to sink into the depths of ocean, within the period of existing 
species, so large a tract of surface. But there is no amount 
or extent of change of level, which I am not fully prepared 
to admit, but I must say I should like better evidence, than 
the identity of a few plants, which J>ossiMy {I do not say 
probably) might have been otherwise transported. Particu- 
lar thanks for your attempt to get me a copy of * L'Espece,'* 
and almost equal thanks for your criticisms on him : I rather 
misdoubted him, and felt not much inclined to take as gospel 
his facts. I find this one of my greatest difficulties with 
foreign authors, viz. judging of their credibility. How pain- 
fully (to me) true is your remark, that no one has hardly a 
right to examine the question of species who has not minutely 
described many. I was, however, pleased to hear from Owen 
(who is vehemently opposed to any mutability in species), 
that he thought it was a very fair subject, and that there was 
a mass of facts to be brought to bear on the question, not 
hitherto collected. My only comfort is (as I mean to attempt 
the subject), that I have dabbled in several branches of Natu- 
ral History, and seen good specific men work out my species, 
and know something of geology (an indispensable union) ; 
and though I shall get more kicks than half-pennies, I will, 
life serving, attempt my work. T.amarck is the only excep- 
tion, that I can think of, of an accurate describer of species 
at least in the Invertebrate Kingdom, who has disbelieved in 
permanent species, but he in his absurd though clever work 
has done the subject harm, as has Mr. Vestiges, and, as (some 
future loose naturalist attempting the same speculations will 
perhaps say) has Mr. D. . . . 

C. Darwin. 

* Probably Godron's essay, published by the Academy of Nancy in 
1848-49, and afterwards as a separate book in 1859. 

400 GROWTH OF THE 'ORIGIN.* [1853. 

C. Darwin to /. D, Hooker. 

Down, September 25th [1853]. 

My dear Hooker, — I have read your paper with great 
interest ; it seems all very clear, and will form an admirable 
introduction to the New Zealand Flora, or to any Flora in the 
world. How few generalizers there are among systematists ; 
I really suspect there is something absolutely opposed to each 
other and hostile in the two frames of mind required for 
systematising and reasoning on large collections of facts. 
Many of your arguments appear to me very well put, and, 
as far as my experience goes, the candid way in which you 
discuss the subject is unique. The whole will be very use- 
ful to me whenever I undertake my volume, though parts take 
the wind very completely out of my sails ; it will be all nut^ 
to me . . . for I have for some time determined to give the 
arguments on both sides (as far as I could), instead of arguing 
on the mutability side alone. 

In my own Cirripedial work (by the way, thank you for 
the dose of soft solder ; it does one — or at least me — a great 
deal of good) — in my own work I have not felt conscious 
that disbelieving in the mere permanence of species has made 
much difference one way or the other ; in some few cases (if 
publishing avowedly on doctrine of non-permanence), I 
should not have affixed names, and in some few cases 
should have affixed names to remarkable varieties. Cer- 
tainly I have felt it humiliating, discussing and doubting, 
and examining over and over again, when in my own mind 
the only doubt has been whether the form varied to-day or 
yesterday (not to put too fine a point on it, as Snagsby * would 
say). After describing a set of forms as distinct species, 
tearing up my MS., and making them one species, tearing that 
up and making them separate, and then making them one 
again (which has happened to me), I have gnashed my teeth, 
cursed species, and asked what sin I had committed to be 

* In * Bleak House.' 


SO punished. But I must confess that perhaps nearly the 
same thing would have happened to me on any scheme of 

I am heartily glad to hear your Journal * is so much ad- 
vanced ; how magnificently it seems to be illustrated ! An 
^^ Oriental Naturalist,'' with, lots of imagination and not too 
much regard to facts, is just the man to discuss species ! I 
think your title of ' A Journal of a Naturalist in the East * 
very good ; but whether " in the Himalaya '' would not be 
better, I have doubted, for the East sounds rather yague. . . . 

C. Darivin to J, JD, Hooker. 


My dear Hooker, — I have no remarks at all worth 
sending you, nor, indeed, was it likely that I should, con- 
sidering how perfect and elaborated an essay it is.f As far 
as my judgment goes, it is the most important discussion 
on the points in question ever published. I can say no more. 
I agree with almost everything you say ; but I require much 
time to digest an essay of such quality. It almost made me 
gloomy, partly from feeling I could not answer some points 
which theoretically I should have liked to have been differ- 
ent, and partly from seeing so far better done that I could hdcw^ 
done, discussions on some points which I had intended to 
have taken up. . . . 

I much enjoyed the slaps you have given to the provincial 
species-mongers. I wish I could have been of the slightest 
use : I have been deeply interested by the whole essay, and 
congratulate you on having produced a memoir which I be- 
lieve will be memorable. I was deep in it when your most 
considerate note arrived, begging me not to hurry. I thank 
Mrs. Hooker and yourself most sincerely for your wish to see 
me. I will not let another summer pass without seeing you 
at Kew, for indeed I should enjoy it much. . . . 

* Sir J. D. Hooker's ' Himalayan Journal.' 
f ' New Zealand Flora/ 1853. 

402 GROWTH OF THE 'ORIGIN/ [1854. 

You do me really more honour than I have any claim to, 
putting me in after Lyell on ups and downs. In a year or 
two*s time, when I shall be at my species book (if I do not 
break down), I shall gnash my teeth and abuse you for having 
put so many hostile facts so confoundedly well. 

Ever yours affectionately, 

C. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to J, D. Hooker, 

Down, March 26th [1854]. 

My dear Hooker, — I had hoped that you would have 
had a little breathing-tim_e after your Journal, but this seems 
to be very far from the case; and I am the more obliged 
(and somewhat contrite) for the long letter received this 
morning, most juicy with news and most interesting to me in 
many ways. I am very glad indeed to hear of the reforms, 
&c., in the Royal Society. With respect to the Club,* I am 
deeply interested ; only two or three days ago, I was regret- 
ting to my wife, how I was letting drop and being dropped 
by nearly all my acquaintances, and that I would endeavour 
to go oftener to London ; I was not then thinking of the Club, 
which, as far as any one thing goes, would answer my exact 
object in keeping up old and making some new acquaintances. 

* The Philosophical Club, to which my father was elected (as Professor 
Bonney is good enough to inform me) on April 24, 1854. He resigned his 
membership in 1864. The Club was founded in 1847. The number of 
members being limited to 47, it was proposed to christen it **the Club of 
47," but the name was never adopted. The nature of the Club may be 
gathered from its first rule : " The purpose of the Club is to promote as much 
as possible the scientific objects of the Royal Society ; to facilitate inter- 
course between those Fellows who are actively engaged in cultivating the 
various branches of Natural Science, and who have contributed to its prog- 
ress ; to increase the attendance at the evening meetings, and to encour- 
age the contribution and discussion of papers." The Club met for dinner 
(at first) at 6, and the chair was to be quitted at 8.15, it being expected that 
members would go to the Royal Society. Of late years the dinner has 
been at 6.30, the Society meeting in the afternoon. 

i854.] HUMBOLDT— AGASSIZ. 403 

I will therefore come up to London for every (with rare ex- 
ceptions) Club- day, and then my head, I think, will allow me 
on an average to go to every other meeting. But it is griev- 
ous how often any change knocks me up. I will further 
pledge myself, as I told Lyell, to resign after a year, if I did 
not attend pretty often, so that I should at worst encumber 
the Club temporarily. If you can get me elected, I certainly 
shall be very much pleased. Very many thanks for answers 
about Glaciers. I am very glad to hear of the second Edit.* 
so very soon; but am not surprised, for I have heard of 
several, in our small circle, reading it with very much pleasure. 
I shall be curious to hear what Humboldt will say : it will, I 
should think, delight him, and meet with more praise from 
him than any other book of Travels, for I cannot remember 
one, which has so many subjects in common with him. What 

a wonderful old fellow he is By the way, I hope, 

when you go to Hitcham, towards the end of May, you will 
be forced to have some rest. I am grieved to hear that all 
the bad symptoms have not left Henslow ; it is so strange 
and new to feel any uneasiness about his health. I am 
particularly obliged to you for sending me Asa Gray*s letter ; 
how very pleasantly he writes. To see his and your caution 
on the species-question ought to overwhelm me in confusion 
and shame ; it does make me feel deuced uncomfortable. . . . 
It is delightful to hear all that he says on Agassiz : how very 
singular it is that so eminently clever a man, with such itnmense 
knowledge on many branches of Natural History, should 
write as he does. Lyell told me that he was so delighted with 
one of his (Agassiz) lectures on progressive development, &c., 
&c., that he went to him afterwards and told him, ^^ that it 
was so delightful, that he could not help all the time wishing 
it was true.*' I seldom see a Zoological paper from North 
America, without observing the impress of Agassiz's doc- 
trines — another proof, by the way, of how great a man he is. 
I was pleased and surprised to see A. Gray's remarks on 

* Of the Himalayan Journal. 

404 GROWTH OF THE 'ORIGIN.' [1854. 

crossing, obliterating varieties, on which, as you know, I have 
been collecting facts for these dozen years. How awfully flat 
I shall feel, if when I get my notes together on species, &c., &c., 
the whole thing explodes like an empty puff-ball. Do not 
work yourself to death. Ever yours most truly, 

C. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down, Nov. 5th [1854]. 

My dear Hooker, — I was delighted to get your note 
yesterday. I congratulate you very heartily,* and whether 
you care much or little, I rejoice to see the highest scientific 
judgment-court in Great Britain recognise your claims. I do 
hope Mrs. Hooker is pleased, and E. desires me particularly 
to send her cordial congratulations. ... I pity you from the 
very bottom of my heart about your after-dinner speech, 
which I fear I shall not hear. Without you have a very 
much greater soul than I have (and I believe that you have), 
you will find the medal a pleasant little stimulus, when work 
goes badly, and one ruminates that all is vanity, it is pleasant 
to have some tangible proof, that others have thought some- 
thing of one's labours. 

Good-bye my dear Hooker, I can assure [you] that we 
both most truly enjoyed your and Mrs. Hooker's visit here. 
Farewell. My dear Hooker, your sincere friend, 

C. Darwin. 

C Darwin to J, D. Hooker. 

March 7 [1855]. 

... I have just finished working well at Wollaston'sf 
* Insecta Maderensia ' : it is an adinirable work. There is a 
very curious point in the astounding proportion of Coleoptera 

* On the award to him of the Royal Society's Medal. 
\ Thomas Vernon Wollaston died (in his fifty-seventh year, as I believe) 
on Jan. 4, 1878. His health forcing him in early manhood to winter in 


that are apterous ; and I think I have guessed the reason, 
viz., that powers of flight would be injurious to insects inha- 
biting a confined locality, and expose them to be blown to the 
sea : to test this, I find that the insects inhabiting the Dezerte 
Grande, a quite small islet, would be still more exposed to 
this danger, and here the proportion of apterous insects is 
even considerably greater than on Madeira Proper. WoUas- 
ton speaks of Madeira and the other Archipelagoes as being 
" sure*and certain witnesses of Forbes' old continent,*' and of 
course the Entomological world implicitly follows this view. 
But to my eyes it would be difficult to imagine facts more 
opposed to such a view. It is really disgusting and humi- 
liating to see directly opposite conclusions drawn from the 
same facts. 

I have had some correspondence with Wollaston on this 
and other subjects, and I find that he coolly assumes, (i) that 
formerly insects possessed greater migratory powers than now, 

(2) that the old land was specially rich in centres of creation, 

(3) that the uniting land was destroyed before the special 
creations had time to diffuse, and (4) that the land was broken 
down before certain families and genera had time to reach 
from Europe or Africa the points of land in question. Are 
not these a jolly lot of assumptions? and yet I shall see for 
the next dozen or score of years Wollaston quoted as proving 
the former existence of poor Forbes' Atlantis. 

the south, he devoted himself to a study of the Coleoptera of Madeira, the 
Cape de Verdes, and St. Helena, whence he deduced evidence in support 
of the belief in the submerged continent of * Atlantis.* In an obituary 
notice by Mr. Rye (* Nature,' 1878) he is described as v/orking persistently 
" upon a broad conception of the science to which he was devoted," while 
being at the same time "accurate, elaborate, and precise ad punctum^ and 
naturally of a minutely critical habit." His first scientific paper was 
written when he was an undergraduate at Jesus College, Cambridge. While 
at the University, he was an Associate and afterwards a Member of the 
Ray Club : this is a small society which still meets once a week, and where 
the undergraduate members, or Associates, receive much kindly encourage- 
ment from their elders. 

4o6 GROWTH OF THE ^ORIGIN.' [1855. 

I hope I have not wearied you, but I thought you would 
like to hear about this book, which strikes me as excellent \xi 
its facts, and the author a most nice and modest man. 

Most truly yours, 

C. Darwin. 

C Darwin to W, D, Fox, 

Down, March 19th [1S55]. 

My dear Fox, — How long it is since we have had any 
communication, and I really want to hear how the world goes 
with you ; but my immediate object is to ask you to observe 
a point for me, and as I know now you are a very busy man 
with too much to do, I shall have a good chance of your 
doing what I want, as it would be hopeless to ask a quite 
idle man. As you have a Noah's Ark, I do not doubt that 
you have pigeons. (How I wish by any chance they were 
fantails !) Now what I want to know is, at what age nestling 
pigeons have their tail feathers sufficiently developed to be 
counted. I do not think I ever saw a young pigeon. I am 
hard at work at my notes collecting and comparing them, in 
order in some two or three years to write a book with all the 
facts and arguments, which I can collect, for and versus the 
immutability of species. I want to get the young of our 
domestic breeds, to see how young, and to what degree the 
differences appear. I must either breed myself (which is no 
amusement but a horrid bore to me) the pigeons or buy their 
young ; and before I go to a seller, whom I have heard of 
from Yarrell, I am really anxious to know something about I 
their development, not to expose my excessive ignorance, 
and therefore be excessively liable to be cheated and gulled. \ 
With respect to the one point of the tail feathers, it is of course 
in relation to the wonderful development of tail feathers in 
the adult fantail. If you had any breed of poultry pure, I 
would beg a chicken with exact age stated, about a week or 
fortnight old ! to be sent in a box by post, if you could have 
the heart to kill one ; and secondly, would let me pay post- 


age. . . Indeed, I should be very glad to have a nestling 
I common pigeon sent, for I mean to make skeletons, and have 
already just begun comparing wild and tame ducks. And I 
think the results rather curious,* for on weighing the several 
bones very carefully, when perfectly cleaned the proportional 
weights of the two have greatly varied, the foot of the tame 
having largely increased. How I v/ish I could get a little 
wild duck of a week old, but that I know is almost impos- 

With respect to ourselves, I have not much to say ; we 
have now a terribly noisy house with the whooping cough, 
but otherwise are all well. Far the greatest fact about myself 
is that I have at last quite done with the everlasting barnacles. 
At the end of the year we had two of our little boys very ill 
with fever and bronchitis, and all sorts of ailments. Partly 
for amusement, and partly for change of air, we went to Lon- 
don and took a house for a month, but it turned out a great 
failure, for that dreadful frost just set in when we went, and 
all our children got unwell, and E. and I had coughs and 
colds and rheumatism nearly all the time. We had put down 
first on our list of things to do, to go and see Mrs. Fox, but 
literally after waiting some time to see whether the weather 
would not improve, we had not a day when we both could 
go out. 

I do hope before very long you will be able to manage 
to pay us a visit. Time is slipping away, and we are getting 
oldish. Do tell us about yourself and all your large family. 

I know you will help me if you can with information about 
the young pigeons ; and anyhow do write before very long. 
My dear Fox, your sincere old friend, 

C. Darwin. 

* ** I have just been testing practically what disuse does in reducing 
parts ; I have made skeleton of wild and tame duck (oh, the smell of well- 
boiled, high duck ! !) and I find the tame-duck wing ought, according to 
scale of wild prototype, to have its two wings 360 grains in weight, but it 
has it only 3I7-"— A letter to Sir J. Hooker, 1855. 

4o8 GROWTH OF THE 'ORIGIN.' [1855. 

P.S. — Amongst all sorts of odds and ends, with which I 
am amusing myself, I am comparing the seeds of the varia- 
tions of plants. I had formerly some wild cabbage seeds, 
which I gave to some one, was it to you ? It is a thousand to 
one it was thrown away, if not I should be very glad of a 
pinch of it. 

[The following extract from a letter to Mr. Fox (March 
27th, 1855) refers to the same subject as the last letter, and 
gives some account of the '^ species work : " *' The way I 
shall kill young things will be to put them under a tumbler 
glass with a teaspoon of ether or chloroform, the glass being 
pressed down on some yielding surface, and leave them for 
an hour or two, young have such power of revivication. (I 
have thus killed moths and butterflies.) The best way would 
be to send them as you procure them, in pasteboard chip-box 
by post, on which you could write and just tie up with string ; 
and you will really make me happier by allowing me to keep 
an account of postage, &c. Upon my word I can hardly 
believe that any ane could be so good-natured as to take such 
trouble and do such a very disagreeable thing as kill babies ; 
and I am very sure I do not know one soul who, except your- 
self, would do so. I am going to ask one thing more ; should 
old hens of any above poultry (not duck) die or become so 
old as to be useless^ I wish you would send her to me per rail, 
addressed to ^^ C. Darwin, care of Mr. Acton, Post-office, 
Bromley, Kent." Will you keep this address.^ as shortest 
way for parcels. But I do not care so much for this, as I 
could buy the old birds dead at Baily to make skeletons. I 
should have written at once even if I had not heard from 
you, to beg you not to take trouble about pigeons, for Yarrell 
has persuaded me to attempt it, and I am now fitting up a 
place, and have written to Baily about prices, &c., &c. Soine- 
thne (when you are better) I should like very much to hear a 
little about your "' Little Call Duck ** ; why so called ? And 
where you got it ? and what it is like ? . . . I was so ignorant 
I did not even know there were three varieties of Dorking 
fowl : how do they differ ? . . . 



I forget whether I ever told you what the object of my 
present w^ork is, — it is to view all facts that I can master 
(eheu, eheu, how ignorant I find I am) in Natural History 
(as on geographical distribution, palaeontology, classification, 
hybridism, domestic animals and plants, &c., &c., &c.) to see 
how far they favour or are opposed to the notion that wild 
species are mutable or immutable : I mean with my utmost 
power to give all arguments and facts on both sides. I have 
a number of people helping me in every way, and giving me 
most valuable assistance ; but I often doubt whether the sub- 
ject will not quite overpower me. 

So much for the quasi-business part of my letter. I am 
very very sorry to hear so indifferent account of your health : 
with your large family your life is very precious, and I am 
sure with all your activity and goodness it ought to be a 
lappy one, or as happy as can reasonably be expected with 
all the cares of futurity on one. 

One cannot expect the present to be like the old Crux- 
major days at the foot of those noble willow stumps, the 
memory of which I revere. I now find my little entomology 
which I wholly owe to you, comes in very useful. I am very 
^lad to hear that you have given yourself a rest from Sun- 
lay duties. How much illness you have had in your life ! 
farewell my dear Fox. I assure you I thank you heartily for 
jowx proffered assistance."] 

C. Darwin to W. D. Fox. 

Down, May 7th [1855]. 
My dear Fox, — My correspondence has cost you a deal 
if trouble, though this note will not. I found yours on my 
eturn home on Saturday after a week's work in London. 
Vhilst there I saw Yarrell, who told me he had carefully ex- 
Imined all points in the Call Duck, and did not feel any 
[loubt about it being specifically identical, and that it had 
iTossed freely with common varieties in St. James's Park. I 
jhould therefore be very glad for a seven-days* duckling and 


for one of the old birds, should one ever die a natural death. 
Yarrell told me that Sabine had collected forty varieties of 
the common duck ! . . . Well, to return to business ; nobody, 
I am sure, could fix better for me than you the characteristic 
age of little chickens ; with respect to skeletons, I have feared 
it would be impossible to make them, but I suppose I shall 
be able to measure limbs, &c., by feeling the joints. What 
you say about old cocks just confirms what I thought, and I 
will make my skeletons of old cocks. Should an old wild 
turkey ever die, please remember me ; I do not care for a 
baby turkey, nor for a mastiff. Very many thanks for your 
offer. I have puppies of bull-dogs and greyhound in salt, 
and I have had cart-horse and race-horse young colts care- 
fully measured. Whether I shall do any good I doubt. I 
am getting out of my depth. ' Most truly yours, 

C. Darwin. 

[An extract from a letter to Mr. Fox may find a place here, 
though of a later date, viz. July, 1855 : 

** Many thanks for the seven days' old white Dorking, and 
for the other promised ones. I am getting quite a * chamber 
of horrors,' I appreciate your kindness even more than be- 
fore ; for I have done the black deed and murdered an angelic 
little fantail and pouter at ten days old. I tried chloroform, 
and ether for the first, and though evidently a perfectly easy 
death, it was prolonged ; and for the second I tried putting 
lumps of cyanide of potassium in a very large damp bottle, 
half an hour before putting in the pigeon, and the prussic 
acid gas thus generated was very quickly fatal." 

A letter to Mr. Fox (May 23rd, 1855) gives the first men- 
tion of my father's laborious piece of work on the breeding 
of pigeons : 

** I write now to say that I have been looking at some of 
our mongrel chickens, and I should say one week old would 


do very well. The chief points which I am, and have been 
for years, very curious about, is to ascertain whether the 
young of our domestic breeds differ as much from each other 
as do their parents, and I have no faith in anything short of 
actual measurement and the Rule of Three. I hope and be- 
lieve I am not giving so much trouble without a motive of 
sufficient worth. I have got my fantails and pouters (choice 
birds, I hope, as I paid 20^. for each pair from Baily) in a 
grand cage and pigeon-house, and they are a decided amuse- 
ment to me, and delight to H." 

In the course of my father's pigeon-fancying enterprise he 
necessarily became acquainted with breeders, and was fond 
of relating his experiences as a member of the Columbarian 
and Philoperistera Clubs, where he met the purest enthusiasts 
of the " fancy,** and learnt much of the mysteries of their art. 
In writing to Mr. Huxley some years afterwards, he quotes 
from a book on * Pigeons * by Mr. J-. Eaton, in illustration of 
the '^ extreme attention and close observation '* necessary to 
be a good fancier. 

"In his [Mr. Eaton's] treatise, devoted to the Almond 
Tumbler alone^ which is a sub-variety of the short-faced vari- 
ety, which is a variety of the Tumbler, as that is of the Rock- 
pigeon, Mr. Eaton says : * There are some of the young fan- 
ciers who are over-covetous, who go for all the five properties 
at once [/. ^., the five characteristic points which are mainly 
attended to, — C. D.], they have their reward by getting noth- 
ing.' In short, it is almost beyond the human intellect to 
attend to all the excellencies of the Almond Tumbler ! 

" To be a good breeder, and to succeed in improving any 
breed, beyond everything enthusiasm is required. Mr. Eaton 
has gained lots of prizes, listen to him. 

" ^ If it was possible for noblemen and gentlemen to know 
the amazing amount of solace and pleasure derived from the 
Almond Tumbler, when they begin to understand their (/. <?., 
the tumbler's) properties, I should think that scarce any 
nobleman or gentleman would be without their aviaries of 
Almond Tumblers.' " 

412 GROWTH OF THE 'ORIGIN/ [1855. 

My father was fond of quoting this passage, and always 
with a tone of fellow-feeling for the author, though, no doubt, 
he had forgotten his own wonderings as a child that ** every 
gentleman did not become an ornithologist/'— ('Autobiogra- 
phy,' p. 32.) 

To Mr. W. B. Tegetmeier, the well-known writer on poul- 
try, &c., he was indebted for constant advice and co-opera- 
tion. Their correspondence began in 1855, and lasted to 
1881, when my father wrote : "I can assure you that I often 
look back with pleasure to the old days when I attended to 
pigeons, fowls, &c., and when you gave me such valuable as- 
sistance. I not rarely regret that I have had so little strength 
that I have not been able to keep up old acquaintances and 
friendships." My fathers's letters to Mr. Tegetmeier consist 
almost entirely of series of questions relating to the different 
breeds of fowls, pigeons, &c., and are not, therefore, interest- 
ing. In reading through the pile of letters, one is much 
struck by the diligence of the writer's search for facts, and it 
is made clear that Mr. Tegetmeier's knowledge and judgment 
were completely trusted and highly valued by him. Numer- 
ous phrases, such as '' your note is a mine of wealth to me," 
occur, expressing his sense of the value of Mr. Tegetmeier's 
help, as well as words expressing his warm appreciation of 
Mr. Tegetmeier's unstinting zeal and kindness, or his "pure 
and disinterested love of science." On the subject of hive- 
bees and their combs, Mr. Tegetmeier's help was also valued 
by my father, who wrote, "your paper on * Bees-cells,' read 
before the British Association, was highly useful and suggest- 
tive to me." 

To work out the problems on the Geographical Distribu- 
tions of animals and plants on evolutionary principles, he had 
to study the means by which seeds, eggs, &c., can be trans- 
ported across wide spaces of ocean. It was this need which 
gave an interest to the class of experiment to which the fol- 
lowing letters allude.] 

1855.] LIZARDS. 413 

C. Darwin to W, D. Fox. 

Down, May 17th [1855]. 

My dear Fox, — You will hate the very sight of my hand- 
writing ; but after this time I promise I will ask for nothing 
more, at least for a long time. As you live on sandy soil, 
have you lizards at all common ? If you have, should you 
think it too ridiculous to offer a reward for me for lizard's 
eggs to the boys in your school ; a shilling for every half- 
dozen, or more if rare, till you got two or three dozen and 
send them to me ? If snake's eggs were brought in mistake 
it would be very well, for I want such also ; and we have 
neither lizards nor snakes about here. My object is to see 
whether such eggs will float on sea water, and whether they 
will keep alive thus floating for a month or two in my cellar. 
I am trying experiments on transportation of all organic 
beings that I can ; and lizards are found on every island, and 
therefore I am veiy anxious to see whether their eggs stand 
sea water. Of course this note need not be answered, with- 
out, by a strange and favourable chance, you can some day 
answer it with the eggs. Your most troublesome friend, 

C. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

April 13th [1855]. * 
... I have had one experiment some little time in pro- 
gress, which will, I think, be interesting, namely, seeds in salt 
water immersed in water of 32°-33°, which I have and shall 
long have, as I filled a great tank with snow. When I wrote 
last I was going to triumph over you, for my experiment had 
in a slight degree succeeded; but this, with infinite baseness, 
I did not tell, in hopes that you would say that you would 
eat all the plants which I could raise after immersion. It is 
very aggravating that I cannot in the least remember what 
you did formerly say that made me think you scofled at the 
experiments vastly; for you now seem to view the experi- 




ment like a good Christian. I have in small bottles out of 
doors, exposed to variation of temperature, cress, radish, 
cabbages, lettuces, carrots, and celery, and onion seed — four 
great families. These, after immersion for exactly one week, 
have all germinated, which I did not in the least expect (and 
thought how you would sneer at me) ; for the water of nearly 
all, and of the cress especially, smelt very badly, and the 
cress seed emitted a wonderful quantity of mucus (the * Ves- 
tiges* would have expected them to turn into tadpoles), so 
as to adhere in a mass ; but these seeds germinated and 
grew splendidly. The germination of all (especially cress 
and lettuces) has been accelerated, except the cabbages, 
which have come up very irregularly, and a good many, I 
think, dead. One would have thought, from their native 
habitat, that the cabbage would have stood well. The Um- 
belliferae and onions seem to stand the salt well. I wash the 
seed before planting them. I have written to the Gardeners' 
Chronicle^ though I doubt whether it was worth while. If 
my success seems to make it worth while, I will send a seed 
list, to get you to mark some different classes of seeds. To- 
day I replant the same seeds as above after fourteen days' 
immersion. As many sea-currents go a mile an hour, even 
in a week they might be transported 168 miles ; the Gulf 
Stream is said to go fifty and sixty miles a day. So much 
and too much on this head ; but my geese are always 
swans. . . . 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

[April 14th, 1855.] 
. . . You are a good man to confess that you expected the 
cress would be killed in a week, for this gives me a nice little 

* A few words asking for information. The results were published in 
the ' Gardeners' Chronicle,' May 26, Nov. 24, 1855. In the same year (p. 
789) he sent a P. S. to his former paper, correcting a misprint and add- 
ing a few words on the seeds of the Leguminosse. A fuller paper on the 
germination of seeds after treatment in salt water, appeared in the ' Lin- 
nsean Soc. Journal,' 1857, P- 130. 


triumph. The children at first were tremendously eager, and 
asked me often, ** whether 1 should beat Dr. Hooker ! " The 
cress and lettuce have just vegetated well after twenty-one 
days* immersion. But I will write no more, which is a great 
virtue in me ; for it is to me a very great pleasure telling you 
everything I do. 

... If you knew some of the experiments (if they may be 
so-called) which I am trying, you would have a good right 
to sneer, for they are so absurd even m my opinion that I dare 
not tell you. 

Have not some men a nice notion of experimentising.^ 
I have had a letter telling me that seeds must have great 
power of resisting salt water, for otherwise how could they 
get to islands } This is the true way to solve a problem ! 

C Darwin to J, D. Hooker, 

Down [1855]. 

My dear Hooker, — You have been a very good man to 
exhale some of your satisfaction in writing two notes to me ; 
you could not have taken a better line in my opinion ; but 
as for showing your satisfaction in confounding my experi- 
ments, I assure you I am quite enough confounded — those 
horrid seeds, which, as you truly observe, if they sink they 
won't float. 

I have written to Scoresby and have had a rather dry 
answer, but very much to the purpose, and giving me no 
hopes of any law unknown to me which might arrest their 
everlasting descent into the deepest depths of the ocean. By 
the way it was very odd, but I talked to Col. Sabine for half 
an hour on the subject, and could not make him see with 
respect to transportal the difficulty of the sinking question ! 
The bore is, if the confounded seeds will sink, I have been 
taking all this trouble in salting the ungrateful rascals for 

Everything has been going wrong with me lately ; the fish 
at the Zoolog. Soc. ate up lots of soaked seeds, and in imagi- 

4i6 GROWTH OF THE 'ORIGIN.' [1855. 

nation they had in my mind been swallowed, fish and all, 
by a heron, had been carried a hundred miles, been voided 
on the banks of some other lake and germinated splendidly, 
when lo and behold, the fish ejected vehemently, and with 
disgust equal to my own, all the seeds from their mouths.* 

But I am not going to give up the floating yet : in first 
place I must try fresh seeds, though of course it seems far 
more probable that they will sink ; and secondly, as a last 
resource, I must believe in the pod or even whole plant or 
branch being washed into the sea ; with floods and slips and 
earthquakes ; this must continually be happening, and if kept 
wet, I fancy the pods, &c. &c., would not open and shed their 
seeds. Do try your Mimosa seed at Kew. 

I had intended to have asked you whether the Mimosa 
scandens and Guilandina bonduc grows at Kew, to try fresh 
seeds R. Brown tells me he believes four W. Indian seeds 
have been washed on shores of Europe. I was assured at 
Keeling Island that seeds were not rarely washed on shore : 
so float they must and shall ! What a long yarn I have been 

If you have several of the Loffoden seeds, do soak some 
in tepid water, and get planted with the utmost care : this is 
an experiment after my own heart, with chances 1000 to i 
against its success. 

* In describing these troubles to Mr. Fox, my father wrote : — " All 
nature is pei*verse and will not do as I wish it ; and just at present I wish 
I had my old barnacles to work at, and nothing new." The experiment 
ultimately succeeded, and he wrote to Sir J. Hooker: — **I find fish will 
greedily eat seeds of aquatic grasses, and that millet-seed put into fish 
and given to a stork, and then voided, will germinate. So this is the nur- 
sery rhyme of * this is the stick that beats the pig,' &c., &c.'* 


C Darwin to J. D, Hooker. 

Down, May nth [1855]. 

My dear Hooker, — I have just received your note. I 
am most sincerely and heartily glad at the news * it contains, 
and so is my wife. Though the income is but a poor one, 
yet the certainty, I hope, is satisfactory to yourself and Mrs. 
Hooker. As it must lead in future years to the Directorship, 
I do hope you look at it, as a piece of good fortune. For my 
own taste I cannot fancy a pleasanter position, than the Head 
of such a noble and splendid place ; far better, I should 
think, than a Professorship in a great town. The more I 
think of it, the gladder I am. But I will say no more ; except 
that I hope Mrs. Hooker is pretty well pleased. . . . 

As the Gardeners' Chronicle put in my question, and took 
notice of it, I think I am bound to send, which I had thought 
of doing next week, my first report to Lindley to give him 
the option of inserting it ; but I think it likely that he may 
not think it fit for a Gardening periodical. When my experi- 
ments are ended (should the results appear worthy) and should 
the * Linnean Journal' not object to the previous publication 
of imperfect and provisional reports, I should be delighted to 
insert the final report there ; for it has cost me so much 
trouble, that I should think that probably the result was 
worthy of more permanent record than a newspaper ; but I 
think I am bound to send it first to Lindley. 

I begin to think the floating question more serious than 
the germinating one ; and am making all the enquiries which I 
an on the subject, and hope to get some little light on it. . . . 

I hope you managed a good meeting at the Club. The 
jTreasurership must be a plague to you, and I hope you will 
ot be Treasurer for long : I know I would much sooner give 
p the Club than be its Treasurer. 

Farewell, Mr. Assistant Director and dear friend, 

C. Darwin. 

* The appointment of Sir J. D. Hooker as Assistant Director of the 
Loyal Gardens at Kew. 

4i8 GROWTH OF THE » ORIGIN.' [1855. 

C. Darwin to /. D, Hooker, 

June 5th, 1855. 

.... Miss Thorley * and I are doing a little Botanical 
work I for our amusement, and it does amuse me very much, 
viz., making a collection of all the plants, which grow in a field, 
which has been allowed to run waste for fifteen years, but 
which before was cultivated from time immemorial ; and we 
are also collecting all the plants in an adjoining and similar 
but cultivated field ; just for the fun of seeing what plants 
have arrived or died out. Hereafter we shall want a bit of 
help in naming puzzlers. How dreadfully difficult it is to 
name plants. 

What a remarkably nice and kind letter Dr. A. Gray has 
sent me in answer to my troublesome queries ; I retained 
your copy of his ' Manual ' till I heard from him, and when I 
have answered his letter, I will return it to you. 

I thank you much for Hedysarum : I do hope it is not 
very precious, for as I told you it is for probably a most fool- 
ish purpose. I read somewhere that no plant closes its leaves 
so promptly in darkness, and I want to cover it up daily for 
half an hour, and see if I can teach it to close by itself, or 

more easily than at first in darkness I cannot make 

out why you would prefer a continental transmission, as I 
think you do, to carriage by sea. I should have thought 
you would have been pleased at as many means of trans- 
mission as possible. For my own pet theoretic notions, it 
is quite indifferent whether they are transmitted by sea or 
land, as long as some tolerably probable way is shown. But 
it shocks my philosophy to create land, without some other 
and independent evidence. Whenever we meet, by a very- 
few words I should, I think, more clearly understand your 
views. . . . 

I have just made out my first grass, hurrah ! hurrah ! I 
must confess that fortune favours the bold, for, as good luck 

* A lady who was for many years a governess in the family. 



would have it, it was the easy Anthoxanthum odoratujn : never- 
theless it is a great discovery ; I never expected to make out 
a grass in all my life, so hurrah ! It has done my stomach 
surprising good. . . . 

C Darwin to J, D. Hooker, 

Down, [June?] 15th, [1855]. 

My dear Hooker, — I just write one line to say that the 
Hedysarum is come quite safely^ and thank you for it. 

You cannot imagine what amusement you have given 
me by naming those three grasses : I have just got paper 
to dry and collect all grasses. If ever you catch quite a 
beginner, and want to give him a taste of Botany, tell 
him to make a perfect list of some little field or wood. Both 
Miss Thorley and I agree that it gives a really uncommon 
interest to the work, having a nice little definite world to 
work on, instead of the awful abyss and immensity of all 
British Plants. 

Adios. I was really consummately impudent to express 
my opinion " on the retrograde step,*' * and I deserved a good 
snub, and upon reflection I am very glad you did not answer 
me in Gardeners' Chronicle, 

I have been very much interested with the Florula.f 

[Writing on June 5 th to Sir J. D. Hooker, my father men- 
tions a letter from Dr. Asa Gray. The letter referred to was 
an answer to the following :] 

* " To imagine such enormous geological changes within the period of 
the existence of now living beings, on no other ground but to account for 
their distribution, seems to me, in our present state of ignorance on the 
means of transportal, an almost retrograde step in science." — Extract from 
the paper on 'Salt Water and Seeds' in Gardeners' Chronicle, May 26, 

f Godron's * Florula Juvenalis,' which gives an interesting account of 
plants introduced in imported wool. 

420 GROWTH OF THE 'ORIGIN.' [1855. 

C. Darwin to Asa Gray,^ 

Down, April 25th [1855.] 
My dear Sir, — I hope that you will remember that I had 
the pleasure of being introduced to you at Kew. I want to 
beg a great favour of you, for which I well know I can offer 
no apology. But the favour will not, I think, cause you much 
trouble, and will greatly oblige me. As I am no botanist, it 
will seem so absurd to you my asking botanical questions ; 
that I may premise that I have for several years been collect- 
ing facts on "variation," and when I find that any general 
remark seems to hold good amongst animals, I try to test 
it in Plants. [Here follows a request for information on 
American Alpine plants, and a suggestion as to publishing 
on the subject.] I can assure you that I perceive how pre- 
sumptuous it is in me, not a botanist, to make even the most 
trifling suggestion to such a botanist as yourself ; but from 
what I saw and have heard of you from our dear and kind 
friend Hooker, I hope and think that you will forgive me, and 
believe me, with much respect, 

Dear sir, yours very faithfully, 

Charles Darwin. 

C, Darwin to Asa Gray. 

Down, June 8th [1855]. 
My dear Sir> — I thank you cordially for your remarkably 
kind letter of the 22d ult., and for the extremely pleasant 
and obliging manner in which you have taken my rather 
troublesome questions. I can hardly tell you how much 
your list of Alpine plants has interested me, and I can now 

* The well-known American Botanist. My father's friendship with Dr. 
Gray began with the correspondence of which the present is the first letter. 
An extract from a letter to Sir J. Hooker, 1857, shows that my father's 
strong personal regard for Dr. Gray had an early origin : ** I have been 
glad to see A. Gray's letters ; there is always something in them that shows 
that he is a very loveable man." 




in some degree picture to myself the plants of your Alpine 

summits. The new edit, of your Manual is capital news for 

me. I know from your preface how pressed you are for 

room, but it would take no space to append (Eu) in brackets 

to any European plant, and, as far as I am concerned, this 

would answer every purpose.* From my own experience, 

whilst making out English plants in our manuals, it has often 

struck me how much interest it would give if some notion 

Df their range had been given ; and so, I cannot doubt, your 

American inquirers and beginners would much like to know 

which of their plants were indigenous and which European. 

iVould it not be well in the Alpine plants to append the very 

>ame addition which you have now sent me in MS. ? though 

lere, owing to your kindness, I do not speak selfishly, but 

nerely pro bono Americano publico, I presume it would be 

:oo troublesome to give in your manual the habitats of those 

slants found west of the Rocky Mountains, and likewise those 

ound in Eastern Asia, taking the Yenesei (.'^), — which, if I 

•emember right, according to Gmelin, is the main partition 

ine of Siberia. Perhaps Siberia more concerns the northern 

Flora of North America. The ranges of the plants to the 

ast and west, viz., whether most found are in Greenland and 

A^estern Europe, or in E. Asia, appears to me a very interest- 

ng point as tending to show whether the migration has been 

eastward or westward. Pray believe me that I am most 

mtirely conscious that the only use of these remarks is to 

how a botanist what points a non-botanist is curious to 

earn ; for I think every one who studies profoundly a subject 

ften becomes unaware [on] what points the ignorant require 

nformation. I am so very glad that you think of drawing up 

ome notice on your geographical distribution, for the area 

>f the Manual strikes me as in some points better adapted 

or comparison with Europe than that of the whole of North 

\.merica. You ask me to state definitely some of the points 

>n which I much wish for information ; but I really hardly 

This suggestion Dr. Gray adopted in subsequent editions. 

422 GROWTH OF THE 'ORIGIN/ [1855. 

can, for they are so vague ; and I rather wish to see what 
results will come out from comparisons, than have as yet 
defined objects. I presume that, like other botanists, you 
would give, for your area, the proportion (leaving out intro- 
duced plants) to the whole of the great leading families : this 
is one point I had intended (and, indeed, have done roughly) 
to tabulate from your book, but of course I could have done 
it only very imperfectly. I should also, of course, have ascer- 
tained the proportion, to the whole Flora, of the European 
plants (leaving out introduced) and of the separate great 
families^ in order to speculate on means of transportal. By 
the way, I ventured to send a few days ago a copy of the 
Gardeners' Chronicle with a short report by me of some 
trifling experiments which I have been trying on the power 
of seeds to withstand sea water. I do not know whether it 
has struck you, but it has me, that it would be advisable 
for botanists to give in whole numbers^ as well as in the lowest 
fraction, the proportional numbers of the families, thus I make 
out from your Manual that of the indigenous plants the pro- 
portion of the Umbelliferae are y^ 9 s — tV \ fo^> without one 
knows the whole numbers, one cannot judge how really close 
the numbers of the plants of the same family are in two dis- 
tant countries ; but very likely you may think this superfluous. 
Mentioning these proportional numbers, I may give you an 
instance of the sort of points, and how vague and futile they 
often are, which I attempt to work out . . . ; reflecting on R. 
Brown's and Hooker's remark, that near identity of propor- 
tional numbers of the great families in two countries, shows 
probably that they were once continuously united, I thought 
I would calculate the proportions of, for instance, the intro- 
duced Compositae in Great Britain to all the introduced 
plants, and the result was, \% = 9^2 • ^^ ^^^ aboriginal or 
indigenous flora the proportion is yV; ^i^d in many other 
cases I found an equally striking correspondence I then 
took your Manual, and worked out the same question ; here 
I find in the Compositae an almost equally striking correspond- 
ence, viz. ^Ve = B in the introduced plants, and tt% = i i^^ 


the indigenous ; but when I came to the other families I 
found the proportion entirely different, showing that the co- 
incidences in the British Flora were probably accidental ! 

You will, I presume, give the proportion of the species to 
the genera, /. ^., show on an average how many species each 
genus contains ; though I have done this for myself. 

If it would not be too troublesome, do you not think it 
would be very interesting, and give a very good idea of your 
Flora, to divide the species into three groups, viz., (a) species 
common to the old world, stating numbers common to Europe 
and Asia ; (^) indigenous species, but belonging to genera 
found in the old world ; and (c) species belonging to genera 
confined to America or the New World. To make (according 
to my ideas) perfection perfect, one ought to be told whether 
there are other cases, like Erica, of genera common in Europe 
or in Old World not found in your area. But honestly I feel 
that it is quite ridiculous my writing to you at such length on 
the subject ; but, as you have asked me, I do it gratefully, 
and write to you as I should to Hooker, who often laughs 
at me unmercifully, and I am sure you have better reason 
to do so. 

There is one point on which I am mosf anxious for infor- 
mation, and I mention it with the greatest hesitation, and 
only in the /u/l belief that you will believe me that I have 
not the folly and presumption to hope for a second that you 
will give it, without you can with very little trouble. The 
point can at present interest no one but myself, which makes 
the case wholly different from geographical distribution. The 
only way in which, I think, you possibly could do it with little 
trouble would be to bear in mind, whilst correcting your proof- 
sheets of the Manual, my question and put a cross or mark 
to the species, and whenever sending a parcel to Hooker to 
let me have such old sheets. But this would give you the 
trouble of remembering my question, and I can hardly hope 
or expect that you will do it. But I will just mention what I 
want ; it is to have marked the "close species" in a Flora, so 
as to compare in different Floras whether the same genera 




have "close species,'* and for other purposes too vague to 
enumerate. I have attempted, by Hooker's help, to ascertain 
in a similar way whether the different species of the same 
genera in distant quarters of the globe are variable or present 
varieties. The definition I should give of a " dose species " 
was one that you thought specifically distinct, but which you 
could conceive some other good botanist might think only a 
race or variety; or, again, a species that you had trouble, 
though having opportunities of knowing it well, in discrimi- 
nating from some other species. Supposing that you were 
inclined to be so very kind as to do this, and could (which I 
do not expect) spare the time, as I have said, a mere cross 
to each such species in any useless proof-sheets would give 
me the information desired, which, I may add, I know must 
be vague. 

How can I apologise enough for all my presumption and 
the extreme length of this letter .'^ The great good nature of 
your letter to me has been partly the cause, so that, as is too 
often the case in this world, you are punished for your good 
deeds. With hearty thanks, believe me. 

Yours very truly and gratefully, 

Ch. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to J, D, Hooker. 

Down, i8th [July, 1855]. 
... I think I am getting a mild case about Charlock 
seed; * but just as about salting, ill luck to it, I cannot 
remember how many years you would allow that Charlock 

*"'' In the Gardeners Chronicle^ 1855, p. 758, appeared a notice (half a 
column in length) by my father on the '* Vitality of Seeds." The facts 
related refer to the *' Sand- walk " ; the wood was planted in 1846 on a 
piece of pasture land laid down as grass in 1840. In 1855, on the soil 
being dug in several places, Charlock {Brassica sinapistruni) sprang up 
freely. The subject continued to interest him, and I find a note dated 
July 2nd, 1874, in which my father recorded that forty-six plants of Char- 
lock sprang up in that year over a space (14 x 7 feet) which had been dug 
to a considerable depth. 


seed might live in the ground. Next time you write, show 
a bold face, and say in how many years, you think, Charlock 
seed would probably all be dead. A man told me the other 
day of, as I thought, a splendid instance, — and splendid it 
was, for according to his evidence the seed came up alive out 
of the lower part of the London Clay ! ! ! I disgusted him by 
telling him that Palms ought to have come up. 

You ask how far I go in attributing organisms to a com- 
mon descent ; I answer I know not ; the way in which I in- 
tend treating the subject, is to show {as far as I can) the facts 
and arguments for and against the common descent of the 
species of the same genus ; and then show how far the same 
arguments tell for or against forms, more and more widely 
different : and when we come to forms of different orders 
and classes, there remain only some such arguments as those 
which can perhaps be deduced from similar rudimentary 
structures, and very soon not an argument is left. 

[The following extract from a letter to Mr. Fox [Oct. 
1855,* gives a brief mention of the last meeting of the British 
Association which he attended :] " I really have no news : 
the only thing we have done for a long time, was to go to 
Glasgow ; but the fatigue was to me more than it was worth, 
and E. caught a bad cold. On our return we stayed a single 
day at Shrewsbury, and enjoyed seeing the old place. I saw 
a little of Sir Philip \ (whom I liked much), and he asked me 
why on earth I instigated you to rob his poultry-yard ? '' 
The meeting was a good one, and the Duke of Argyll spoke 

* In this year he published (* Phil. Mag.* x.) a paper * On the power of 
icebergs to make rectilinear uniformly-directed grooves across a subma- 
ine undulatory surface." 

f Sir P. Egerton was a neighbour of Mr. Fox. 


May 1856 to June 1858. 

[In the Autobiographical chapter (page 69,) my father 
wrote: — ^* 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 ab- 
stract of the materials which I had collected." The letters 
in the present chapter are chiefly concerned with the prepara- 
tion of this unfinished book. 

The work was begun on May 14th, and steadily continued 
up to June 1858, when it was interrupted by the arrival of 
Mr. Wallace's MS. During the two years which we are now 
considering he wrote ten chapters (that is about one-half) of 
the projected book. He remained for the most part at home, 
but paid several visits to Dr. Lane's Water-Cure Establish- 
ment at Moor Park, during one of which he made a pilgrim- 
age to the shrine of Gilbert White at Selborne.] 


C. Darwin to C. Lyell, 

May 3 [1856J. 

. . . With respect to your suggestion of a sketch of my 
views, I hardly know what to think, but will reflect on it, but 
it goes against my prejudices. To give a fair sketch would be 
absolutely impossible, for every proposition requires such an 


array of facts. If I were to do anything, it could only refer 
to the main agency of change — selection — and perhaps point 
out a very few of the leading features, which countenance 
such a view, and some few of the main difficulties. But I do 
not know what to think ; I rather hate the idea of writing 
for priority, yet I certainly should be vexed if any one were 
to publish my doctrines before me. Anyhow, I thank you 
heartily for your sympathy. I shall be in London next week, 
and I will call on you on Thursday morning for one hour pre- 
cisely, so as not to lose much of your time and my own ; but 
will you let me this time come as early as 9 o'clock, for I 
have much which I must do in the morning in my strongest 
time ? Farewell, my dear old patron. 


C. Darwin. 

By the way, f/iree plants have come up out of the earth, 
perfectly enclosed in the roots of the trees. And twenty-nine 
plants in the table-spoonful of mud, out of the little pond ; 
Hooker was surprised at this, and struck with it, when I 
showed him how much mud I had scraped off one duck's 

If I did publish a short sketch, where on earth should I 
publish it ? 

If I do no/ hear, I shall understand that I may come from 
9 to 10 on Thursday. 

C. Darwin to J, D. Hooker, 

May 9th. [1856]. 
... I very much want advice and truthful consolation if 
you can give it. I had a good talk with Lyell about my 
species work, and he urges me strongly to publish something. 
I am fixed against any periodical or Journal, as I positively 
will not expose myself to an Editor or a Council, allowing a 
publication for which they might be abused. If I publish 
anything it must be a very thin and little volume, giving a 
sketch of my views and difficulties ; but it is really dreadfully 


unphilosophical to give a resume\ without exact references, 
of an unpublished work. But Lyell seemed to think I might 
do this, at the suggestion of friends, and on the ground, which 
I might state, that I had been at work for eighteen * years, 
and yet could not publish for several years, and especially as 
I could point out difficulties which seemed to me to require 
especial investigation, Now what think you ? I should be 
really grateful for advice. I thought of giving up a couple of 
months and writing such a sketch, and trying to keep my 
judgement open whether or no to publish it when completed. 
It will be simply impossible for me to give exact references ; 
anything important I should state on the authority of the 
author generally ; and instead of giving all the facts on which 
I ground my opinion, I could give by memory only one or 
two. In the Preface I would state that the work could not 
be considered strictly scientific, but a mere sketch or outline 
of a future work in which full references, &c.^ should be 
given. Eheu, eheu, I believe I should sneer at any one else 
doing this, and my only comfort is, that I truly never dreamed 
of it, till Lyell suggested it, and seems deliberately to think 
it advisable. 

I am in a peck of troubles and do pray forgive me for 
troubling you. 

Yours affectionately, 

C. Darwin. 

C» Darwin to J. D. Hooker, 

May nth [1856]. 
. . . Now for a more important ! subject, viz., my own self : 
I am extremely glad you think well of a separate " Pre- 
liminary Essay " (/. ^., if anything whatever is published; for 
Lyell seemed rather to doubt on this head) f ; but I cannot 

* The interval of eighteen years, from 1837 when he began to collect 
facts, would bring the date of this letter to 1855, not 1856, nevertheless 
the latter seems the more probable date. 

f The meaning of tne sentence in parentheses is obscure. 


bear the idea of begging some Editor and Council to publish, 
and then perhaps to have to apologise humbly for having led 
them into a scrape. In this one respect I am in the state 
which, according to a very wise saying of my father's, is the 
only fit state for asking advice, viz., with my mind firmly made 
up, and then, as my father used to say, good advice was very 
comfortable, and it was easy to reject bad advice. But 
Heaven knows I am not in this state with respect to publish- 
ing at all any preliminary essay. It yet strikes me as quite 
unphilosophical to publish results without the full details 
which have led to such results. 

It is a melancholy, and I hope not quite true view of yours 
that facts will prove anything, and are therefore superfluous ! 
But I have rather exaggerated, I see, your doctrine. I do 
not fear being tied down to error, /. ^., I feel pretty sure I 
should give up anything false published in the preliminary 
essay, in my larger work ; but I may thus, it is very true, do 
mischief by spreading error, which as I have often heard you 
say is much easier spread than corrected. I confess I lean 
more and more to at least making the attempt and drawing 
up a sketch and trying to keep my judgement, whether to 
publish, open. But I always return to my fixed idea that it 
is dreadfully unphilosophical to publish without full details. 
I certainly think my future work in full would profit by hear- 
ing what my friends or critics (if reviewed) thought of the 

To any one but you I should apologise for such long dis- 
cussion on so personal an affair ; but I believe, and indeed 
you have proved it by the trouble you have taken, that this 
would be superfluous. 

Yours truly obliged, 

Ch. Darwin. 

P. S. What you say (for I have just re-read your letter) 
that the Essay might supersede and take away all novelty 
and value from any future larger Book, is very true ; and that 
would grieve me beyond everything. On the other hand 


(again from Lyell's urgent advice), I published a preliminary 
sketch of the Coral Theory, and this did neither good nor 
harm. I begin most heartily to wish that Lyell had never put 
this idea of an Essay into my head. 

From a letter to Sir C, Lyell \^/uly, 1856]. 

*^ I am deHghted that I may say (with absolute truth) that \ 
my essay is published at your suggestion, but I hope it will * 
not need so much apology as I at first thought ; for I have 
resolved to make it nearly as complete as my present materials j 
allow. I cannot put in all which you suggest, for it would 
appear too conceited." 

From a letter to W. D, Fox, 

Down, June 14th [1856]. 

". . . What you say about my Essay, I dare say is very 
true ; and it gave me another fit of the wibber-gibbers : I 
hope that I shall succeed in making it modest. One great 
motive is to get information on the many points on which I 
want it. But I tremble about it, which I should not do, if I 
allowed some three or four more years to elapse before pub- 
lishing anything. . . .*' 

[The following extracts from letters to Mr. Fox are worth 
giving, as showing how great was the accumulation of mate- 
rial which now had to be dealt with. 

June 14th [1856]. 

** Very many thanks for the capital information on cats ; I 
see I had blundered greatly, but I know I had somewhere 
your orignal notes; but my notes are so numerous during 
nineteen years* collection, that it would take me at least a 
year to go over and classify them.'' 

Nov. 1856. *^ Sometimes I fear I shall break down, for my 
subject gets bigger and bigger with each month's work."] 


C Darwin to C Lyell. 

Down, i6th [June, 1856]. 

My dear Lyeli,, — I am going to do the most impudent 
thing in the world. But my blood gets hot with passion and 
turns cold alternately at the geological strides, which many of 
your disciples are taking. 

Here, poor Forbes made a continent to [/. ^., extending to] 
North America and another (or the same) to the Gulf weed ; 
Hooker makes one from New Zealand to South America and 
round the World to Kerguelen Land. Here is Wollaston 
speaking of Madeira and P. Santo " as the sure and certain 
witnesses of a former continent.'' Here is Woodward writes 
to me, if you grant a continent over 200 or 300 miles of ocean 
depths (as if that was nothing), why not extend a continent 
to every island in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans ? And all 
this within the existence of recent species ! If you do not 
stop this, if there be a lower region for the punishment of 
geologists, I believe, my great master, you will go there. Why, 
your disciples in a slow and creeping manner beat all the old 
Catastrophists who ever lived. You will live to be the great 
chief of the Catastrophists. 

There, I have done myself a great deal of good, and have 
exploded my passion. 

So my master, forgive me, and believe me, ever yours, 

C. Darwin. 

P. S. Don't answer this, I did it to ease myself.' 

C. Darwin to J, D. Hooker. 

Down [June] 17th, 1856. 

... I have been very deeply interested by Wollaston's 

book,* though I differ greatly from many of his doctrines. 

Did you ever read anything so rich, considering how very far 

he goes, as his denunciations against those who go further : 

* * The Variation of Species/ "1856. 


"most mischievous/* "absurd," "unsound." Theology is at 
the bottom of some of this. I told him he was like Calvin 
burning a heretic. It is a very valuable and clever book in 
my opinion. He has evidently read very little out of his own 
line. I urged him to read the New Zealand essay. His 
Geology also is rather eocene^ as I told him. In fact I wrote 
most frankly ; I fear too frankly ; he says he is sure that ultra- 
honesty is my characteristic : I do not know whether he meant 
it as a sneer ; I hope not. Talking of eocene geology, I got 
so wrath about the Atlantic continent, more especially from 
a note from Woodward (who has published a capital book on 
shells), who does not seem to doubt that every island in the 
Pacific and Atlantic are the remains of continents, submerged 
within period of existing species, that I fairly exploded, and 
wrote to Lyell to protest, and summed up all the continents 
created of late years by Forbes (the head sinner !) yourself^ 
Wollaston, and Woodward, and a pretty nice little extension 
of land they make altogether ! I am fairly rabid on the 
question and therefore, if not wrong already, am pretty sure 
to become so . . . 

I have enjoyed your note much. Adios, 

C. Darwin. 

P. S. [June] i8th. Lyell has written me a capital letter 
on your side, which ought to upset me entirely, but I cannot 
say it does quite. 

Though I must try and cease being rabid and try to feel 
humble, and allow you all to make continents, as easily as a 
cook does pancakes. 

C, Darwin to C, Lyell. 

Down, June 25th [1856]. 

My dear Lyell, — I will have the following tremendous 
letter copied to make the reading easier, and as I want to 
keep a copy. 

As you say you would like to hear my reasons for being 


most unwilling to believe in the continental extensions of late 
authors, I gladly write them, as, without I am convinced of 
my error, I shall have to give them condensed in my essay, 
when I discuss single and multiple creation; I shall therefore 
be particularly glad to have your general opinion on them. 
I m^ay quite likely have persuaded myself in my wrath that 
there is more in them than there is. If there was much more 
reason to admit a continental extension in any one or two 
instances (as in Madeira) than in other cases, I should feel no 
difficulty whatever. But if on account of European plants, 
and littoral sea shells, it is thought necessary to join Madeira 
to the mainland, Hooker is quite right to join New Holland 
to New Zealand, and Auckland Island (and Raoul Island to 
N. E.), and these to S. America and the Falklands, and these 
to Tristan d'Acunha, and these to Kerguelen Land ; thus 
making, either strictly at the same tim.e, or at different 
periods, but all within the life of recent beings, an almost 
circumpolar belt of land. So again Galapagos and Juan Fer- 
nandez must be joined to America ; and if we trust to littoral 
sea shells, the Galapagos must have been joined to the Pa- 
cific Islands (2400 miles distant) as well as to America, and 
as Woodward seems to think all the islands in the Pacific 
into a magnificent continent ; also the islands in the Southern 
Indian Ocean into another continent, with Madagascar and 
frica, and perhaps India. In the North Atlantic, Europe 
ill stretch half-way across the ocean to the Azores, and 
jfurther north right across. In short, we must suppose proba- 
ly, half the present ocean was land within the period of 
iving organisms. The Globe within this period must have 
ad a quite different aspect. Now the only way to test this, 
hat I can see, is to consider whether the continents have un- 
ergone within this same period such wonderful permuta- 
ions. In all North and South and Central America, we have 
)oth recent and miocene (or eocene) shells, quite distinct on 
he opposite sides, and hence I cannot doubt thdit fundament- 
lly America has held its place since at least, the miocene 
eriod. In Africa almost all the living shells are distinct on 


the opposite sides of the inter-tropical regions, short as the 
distance is compared to the range of marine mollusca, in un- 
interrupted seas ; hence I infer that Africa has existed since 
our present species were created. Even the isthmus of Suez 
and the Aralo -Caspian basin have had a great antiquity. So 
I imagine, from the tertiary deposits, has India. In Austra- 
lia the great fauna of extinct marsupials shows that before 
the present mammals appeared, Australia was a separate con- 
tinent. I do not for one second doubt that very large por- 
tions of all these continents have undergone great changes of 
level within this period, but yet I conclude that fundament- 
ally they stood as barriers in the sea, where they now stand ; 
and therefore I should require the weightiest evidence to 
make me believe in such immense changes within the period 
of living organisms in our oceans, where, moreover, from the 
great depths, the changes must have been vaster in a vertical 

Secondly, Submerge our present continents, leaving a few 
mountain peaks as islands, and what will the character of the 
islands be, — Consider that the Pyrenees, Sierra Nevada, Apen- 
nines, Alps, Carpathians, are non-volcanic, Etna and Caucasus, 
volcanic. In Asia, Altai and Himalaya, I believe non-vol- 
canic. In North Africa the non-volcanic, as I imagine, Alps 
of Abyssinia and of the Atlas. In South Africa, the Snow 
Mountains, In Australia, the non-volcanic Alps. In North 
America, the White Mountains, Alleghanies and Pvocky 
Mountains — some of the latter alone, I believe, volcanic. In 
South America to the east, the non-volcanic [Silla.?] of Ca- 
racas, and Itacolumi of Brazil, further south the Sierra Ven- 
tanas, and in the Cordilleras, many volcanic but not all. Now 
compare these peaks with the oceanic islands ; as far as 
known all are volcanic, except St. PauFs (a strange bedevilled 
rock), and the Seychelles, if this latter can be called oceanic, 
in the line of Madagascar ; the Falklands, only 500 miles off, 
are only a shallow bank ; New Caledonia, hardly oceanic, is 
another exception. This argument has to me great weight. 
Compare on a Geographical map, islands which, we have 




several reasons to suppose, were connected with mainland, as 
Sardinia, and how different it appears. Believing, as I am 
inclined, that continents as continents, and oceans as oceans, 
are of immense antiquity — I should say that if any of the 
existing oceanic islands have any relation of any kind to con- 
tinents, they are forming continents ; and that by the time 
they could form a continent, the volcanoes would be denuded 
to their cores, leaving peaks of syenite, diorite, or porphyry. 
But have we nowhere any last wreck of a continent, in the 
midst of the ocean ? St. Paul's Rock, and such old battered 
volcanic islands, as St. Helena, may be ; but I think we can 
see some reason why we should have less evidence of sink- 
ing than of rising continents (if my view in my Coral volume 
has any truth in it, viz. : that volcanic outbursts accompany 
rising areas), for during subsidence there will be no compen- 
sating agent at work, in rising areas there will be the additional 
element of outpoured volcanic matter. 

Thirdly. Considering the depth of the ocean, I was, be- 
fore I got your letter, inclined vehemently to dispute the vast 
amount of subsidence, but I must strike my colours. With 
respect to coral reefs, I carefully guarded against its being 
supposed that a continent was indicated by the groups of 
atolls. It is difficult to guess, as it seems to me, the amount 
of subsidence indicated by coral reefs ; but in such large 
areas as the Lowe Archipelago, the Marshall Archipelago, 
and Laccadive group, it would, judging, from the heights of 
existing oceanic archipelagoes, be odd, if some peaks of from 
8000 to 10,000 feet had not been buried. Even after your 
letter a suspicion crossed me whether it would be fair to 
argue from subsidences in the middle of the greatest oceans 
to continents; but refreshing my memory by talking with 
Ramsay in regard to the probable thickness in one vertical 
line of the Silurian and carboniferous formation, it seems 
there must have been at least 10,000 feet of subsidence during 
these formations in Europe and North America, and therefore 
during the continuance of nearly the same set of organic 
beings. But even 12,000 feet would not be enough for the 


Azores, or for Hooker's continent ; I believe Hooker does not 
infer a continuous continent, but approximate groups of 
islands, with, if we may judge from existing continents, not 
profoundly deep sea between them ; but the argument from 
the volcanic nature of nearly every existing oceanic island 
tell against such supposed groups of islands, — for I presume 
he does not suppose a mere chain of volcanic islands belting 
the southern hemisphere. 

Fourthly. The supposed continental extensions do not 
seem to me, perfectly to account for all the phenomena of 
distribution on islands; as the absence of mammals and 
Batrachians; the absence of certain great groups of insects 
on Madeira, and of Acaciae and Banksias, &c., in New Zea- 
land ; the paucity of plants in some cases, &c. Not that 
those who believe in various accidental means of dispersal, 
can explain most of these cases ; but they may at least say 
that these facts seem hardly compatible with former continu- 
ous land. 

Finally. For these several reasons, and especially consider- 
ing it certain (in which you will agree) that we are extremely 
ignorant of means of dispersal, I cannot avoid thinking that 
Forbes' * Atlantis,' was an ill-service to science, as checking 
a close study of means of dissemination. I shall be really 
grateful to hear, as briefly as you like, whether these argu- 
ments have any weight with you, putting yourself in the 
position of an honest judge. I told Hooker that I was going 
to write to you on this subject ; and I should like him to read 
this ; but whether he or you will think it worth time and post- 
age remains to be proved. 

Yours most truly, 

Charles Darwin. 

[On July 8th he wrote to Sir Charles Lyell. 

" I am sorry you cannot give any verdict on Continental 
extensions ; and I infer that you think my argument of not » 
much weight against such extensions. I know I wish I could 
believe so."] 


C. Darwin to Asa Gray. 

Down, July 20th [1856]. 

... It is not a little egotistical, but I should like to tell 
you (and I do not think I have) how I view my work= 
Nineteen years (!) ago it occurred to me that whilst otherwise 
employed on Nat. Hist., I might perhaps do good if I noted 
any sort of facts bearing on the question of the origin of 
species, and this I have since been doing. Either species 
have been independently created, or they have descended 
from other species, like varieties from one species. I think it 
can be shown to be probable that man gets his most distinct 
varieties by preserving such as arise best worth keeping and 
destroying the others, but I should fill a quire if I were to go 
on. To be brief, I assume that species arise like our domestic 
varieties with much extinction ; and then test this hypothesis 
by comparison with as many general and pretty well-estab- 
lished propositions as I can find made out, — in geographical 
distribution, geological history, affinities, &c., &c. And it 
seems to me that, supposing that such hypothesis were to 
explain such general propositions, we ought, in accordance 
with the common way of following all sciences, to admit it till 
some better hypothesis be found out. For to my mind to 
say that species were created so and so is no scientific expla- 
nation, only a reverent way of saying it is so and so. But it 
is nonsensical trying to show how I try to proceed in the 
compass of a note. But as an honest man, I must tell you 
that I have come to the heterodox conclusion that there are 
no such things as independently created species — that species 
are only strongly defined varieties. I know that this will 
make you despise me. I do not much underrate the many 
huge difficulties on this view, but yet it seems to me to explain 
too much, otherwise inexplicable, to be false. Just to allude 
to one point in your last note, viz., about species of the same 
genus generally having a common or continuous area ; if they 
are actual lineal descendants of one species, this of course 
would be the case ; and the sadly too many exceptions (for 


me) have to be explained by climatal and geological changes. 
A fortiori on this view (but on exactly same grounds), all the 
individuals of the same species should have a continous dis- 
tribution. On this latter branch of the subject I have put a 
chapter together, and Hooker kindly read it over. I thought 
the exceptions and difficulties were so great that on the whole 
the balance weighed against my notions, but I was much 
pleased to find that it seemed to have considerable weight 
with Hooker, who said he had never been so much staggered 
about the permanence of species. 

I must say one word more in justification (for I feel sure 
that your tendency will be to despise me and my crotchets), 
that all my notions about how species change are derived 
from long continued study of the works of (and converse 
with) agriculturists and horticulturists ; and I believe I see 
my way pretty clearly on the means used by nature to change 
her species and adapt them to the wondrous and exquis- 
itely beautiful contingencies to which every living being is 
exposed. . . . 

C, Darwin to J, D. Hooker, 

Down, July 30tli, 1856. 
My dear Hooker, — Your letter is of much value to me. 
I was not able to get a definite answer from Lyell,"^ as you 
will see in the enclosed letters, though I inferred that he 
thought nothing of my arguments. Had it not been for this 
correspondence, I should have written sadly too strongly. 
You may rely on it I shall put my doubts moderately. There 
never was such a predicament as mine : here you continental 
extensionists would remove enormous difficulties opposed to 
me, and yet I cannot honestly admit the doctrine, and must 
therefore say so. I cannot get over the fact that not a frag- 
ment of secondary or palaeozoic rock has been found on any 
island above 500 or 600 miles from a mainland. You rather 
misunderstand me when you think I doubt the possibility of 

* On the continental extensions of Forbes and others. 



subsidence of 20,000 or 30,000 feet ; it is only probability, con- 
sidering such evidence as we have independently of distribu- 
tion. I have not yet worked out in full detail the distribution 
of mammalia, both identical and allied, with respect to the one 
element of depth of the sea ; but as far as I have gone, the 
results are to me surprisingly accordant with my very most 
troublesome belief in not such great geographical changes as 
you believe ; and in mammalia we certainly know more of 
means of distribution than in any other class. Nothing is so 
vexatious to me, as so constantly finding myself drawing 
different conclusions from better judges than myself, from the 
same facts. 

I fancy I have lately removed many (not geographical) 
great difficulties opposed to my notions, but God knows it 
may be all hallucination. 

Please return LyelFs letters. 

What a capital letter of Lyell's that to you is, and what a 
wonderful man he is. I differ from him greatly in thinking 
that those who believe that species are not fixed will multiply 
specific names : I know in my own case my most frequent 
source of doubt was whether others would not think this or 
that was a God-created Barnacle, and surely deserved a name. 
Otherwise I should only have thought whether the amount 
of difference and permanence was sufficient to justify a name : 
I am, also, surprised at his thinking it immaterial whether 
species are absolute or not : whenever it is proved that all 
species are produced by generation, by laws of change, what 
good evidence we shall have of the gaps in formations. And 
what a science Natural History will be, when we are in our 
graves, when all the laws of change are thought one of the 
most important parts of Natural History. 

I cannot conceive why Lyell thinks such notions as mine 
or of ' Vestiges,' will invalidate specific centres. But I must 
not run on and take up your time. My MS. will not, I fear, 
be copied before you go abroad. With hearty thanks. 

Ever yours, 

C. Darwin. 


P. S. — After giving much condensed, my argument versus 
continental extensions, I shall append some such sentence, 
as that two better judges than myself have considered these 
arguments, and attach no weight to them. 

C. Darwin to J, D, Hooker, 

Down, August 5th [1856]. 
... I quite agree about Lyell's letters to me, which, 
though to me interesting, have afforded me no new light. 
Your letters, under the geological point of view, have been 
more valuable to me. You cannot imagine how earnestly 1 
wish I could swallow continental extension, but I cannot ; 
the more I think (and I cannot get the subject out of my 
head), the more difficult I jfind it. If there were only some 
half-dozen cases, I should not feel the least difficulty ; but 
the generality of the facts of all islands (except one or two) 
having a considerable part of their productions in common 
with one or more mainlands utterly staggers me. What a 
wonderful case of the Epacridae ! It is most vexatious, also 
humiliating, to me that I cannot follow and subscribe to the 
way in which you strikingly put your view of the case. I 
look at your facts (about Eucalyptus, &c.) as damning against 
continental extension, and if you like also damning against | 
migration, or at least of enormous difficulty. I see the ground | 
of our difference (in a letter I must put myself on an equality \ 
in arguing) lies, in my opinion, that scarcely anything is \ 
known of means of distribution. I quite agree with A. De * 
Candolle's (and I dare say your) opinion that it is poor work 
putting together the merely J^osssi^le means of distribution ; 
but I see no other way in which the subject can be attacked, 
for I think that A. De Candolle's argument, that no plants 
have been introduced into England except by man's agency, 
of no weight. I cannot but think that the theory of conti- 
nental extension does do some little harm as stopping investi- 
gation of the means of dispersal, which, whether negative or 
positive, seems to me of value ; when negatived, then every 



one who believes in single centres will have to admit conti- 
nental extensions. 

... I see from your remarks that you do not understand 
my notions (whether or no worth anything) about modifica- 
tion ; I attribute very little to the direct action of climate, 
&c. I suppose, in regard to specific centres, we are at cross 
purposes ; I should call the kitchen garden in which the red 
cabbage was produced, or the farm in which Bakewell made 
the Shorthorn cattle, the specific centre of these species ! And 
surely this is centralisation enough ! 

I thank you most sincerely for all your assistance ; and 
whether or no my book may be wretched, you have done 
your best to make it less wretched. Sometimes I am in very 
good spirits and sometimes very low about it. My own mind 
is decided on the question of the origin of species ; but, good 
heavens, how little that is worth ! . . . 

[With regard to ^* specific centres," a passage from a letter 
dated July 25, 1856, by Sir Charles T.yell to Sir J. D. Hooker 
(* Life,' ii. p. 216) is of interest : 

" I fear much that if Darwin argues that species are phan- 
toms, he will also have to admit that single centres of disper- 
sion are phantoms also, and that would deprive me of much 
of the value which I ascribe to the present provinces of ani- 
mals and plants, as illustrating modern and tertiary changes 
in physical geography." 

He seems to have recognised, however, that the phantom 
doctrine would soon have to be faced, for he wrote in the 
same letter : ^* Whether Darwin persuades you and me to 
renounce our faith in species (when geological epochs are 
2onsidered) or not, I foresee that many will go over to the 
Indefinite modifiability doctrine." 

In the autumn my father was still working at geographical 
distribution, and again sought the aid of Sir J. D. Hooker, 

A Letter to Sir J. D. Hooker [&//., 1856]. 
'' In the course of some weeks, you unfortunate wretch, 
rou will have my MS. on one point of Geographical Distribu- 


tion. I will, however, never ask such a favour again ; but in 
regard to this one piece of MS., it is of infinite importance to 
me for you to see it ; for never in my life have I felt such 
difficulty what to do, and I heartily wish I could slur the 
whole subject over." 

In a letter to Sir J. D. Hooker (June, 1856), the following 
characteristic passage occurs, suggested, no doubt, by the 
kind of work which his chapter on Geographical Distribution 
entailed : 

" There is wonderful ill logic in his [E. Forbes'] famous 
and admirable memoir on distribution, as it appears to me, 
now that I have got it up so as to give the heads in a page. 
Depend on it, my saying is a true one, viz., that a compiler 
is a great man, and an original man a commonplace man. 
Any fool can generalise and speculate ; but, oh, my heavens ! 
to get up at second hand 2, New Zealand Flora, that is work."] 

C Darwin to W. D, Fox, 

Oct. 3 [1856]. 

... I remember you protested against Lyell's advice of 
writing a sketch of my species doctrines. Well, when I began 
I found it such unsatisfactory work that I have desisted, and 
am now drawing up my work as perfect as my materials of 
nineteen years' collecting suffice, but do not intend to stop 
to perfect any line of investigation beyond current work. 
Thus far and no farther I shall follow Lyell's urgent advice. 
Your remarks weighed with me considerably. I find to my 
sorrow it will run to quite a big book. I have found my care- | 
ful work at pigeons really invaluable, as enlightening me on 
many points on variation under domestication. The copious | , 
old literature, by which I can trace the gradual changes in 
the breeds of pigeons has been extraordinarily useful to me. 
I have just had pigeons and fowls alive from the Gambia! i 
Rabbits and ducks I am attending to pretty carefully, but^ 
less so than pigeons. I find most remarkable differences in 
the skeletons of rabbits. Have you ever kept any odd breeds | 


of rabbits, and can you give me any details? One other 
question : You used to keep hawks ; do you at all know, 
after eating a bird, how soon after they throw up the pellet ? 
No subject gives me so much trouble and doubt and diffi- 
culty as the means of dispersal of the same species of terres- 
trial productions on the oceanic islands. Land mollusca drive 
me mad, and I cannot anyhow get their eggs to experimentise 
their power -of floating and resistance to the injurious action 
of salt water. I w^ill not apologise for writing so much about 
my own doings, as I believe you will like to hear. Do some- 
time, I beg you, let me hear how you get on in health ; and 
if so inclined^ let me have some words on call-ducks. 
My dear Fox, yours affectionately, 

Ch. Darwin. 

[With regard to his book he wrote (Nov. loth) to Sir 
Charles Lyell : 

" I am working very steadily at my big book ; I have 
found it quite impossible to publish any preliminary essay or 
sketch ; but am doing my work as completely as my present 
materials allow without waiting to perfect them. And this 
much acceleration I owe to you."] 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker, 

Down, Sunday [Oct. 1856.] 
My dear Hooker, — The seeds are come all safe, many 
thanks for them. I was very sorry to run away so soon and 
miss any part of my most pleasant evening ; and I ran away 
like a Goth and Vandal without wishing Mrs. Hooker good- 
bye ; but I was only just in time, as I got on the platform the 
train had arrived. 

I was particularly glad of our discussion after dinner ; 
fighting a battle with you always clears my mind w^onderfuUy. 
I groan to hear that A. Gray agrees with you about the con- 
dition of Botanical Geography. All I know is that if you had 


had to search for light in Zoological Geography you would 

by contrast, respect your own subject a vast deal more than 

you now do. The hawks have behaved like gentlemen, and 

have cast up pellets with lots of seeds in them ; and I have 

just had a parcel of partridge's feet well caked with mud ! ! ! * 


Your insane and perverse friend, 

C. Darwin. 

C Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down, Nov. 4th [1856]. 
My dear Hooker, — I thank you more cordially than you 
will think probable, for your note. Your verdict f has been 
a great relief. On my honour I had no idea whether or not 
you would say it was (and I knew you would say it very 
kindly) so bad, that you would have begged me to have burnt 
the whole. To my own mind my MS. relieved me of some 
few difficulties, and the difficulties seemed to me pretty fairly 
stated, but I had become so bewildered with conflicting facts, 
evidence, reasoning and opinions, that I felt to myself that I 
had lost all judgment. Your general verdict is incomparably 
more favourable than I had anticipated. . . . 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker, 

Down, Nov. 23rd [1856]. 

My dear Hooker, — I fear I shall weary you with letters, 
but do not answer this, for in truth and without flattery, I so 
value your letters, that after a heavy batch, as of late, I feel 
that I have been extravagant and have drawn too much 
money, and shall therefore have to stint myself on another 

When I sent my MS. I felt strongly that some preliminary 

* The mud in such cases often contains seeds, so that plants are thus 

t On the MS. relating to geographical distribution. 



questions on the causes of variation ought to have been sent 
you. Whether I am right or wrong in these points is quite a 
separate question, but the conclusion which I have come to, 
quite independently of geographical distribution, is that ex- 
ternal conditions (to which naturalists so often appeal) do by 
themselves very little. How much they do is the point of all 
others on which I feel myself very weak. I judge from the 
facts of variation under domestication, and I may yet get 
more light. But at present, after drawing up a rough copy 
on this subject, my conclusion is that external conditions do 
extremely little, except in causing mere variability. This 
mere variability (causing the child not closely to resemble its 
parent) I look at as very different from the formation of a 
marked variety or new species. (No doubt the variability is 
governed by laws, some of which I am endeavouring very 
obscurely to trace.) The formation of a strong variety or 
species I look at as almost wholly due to the selection of what 
may be incorrectly called chance variations or variability. 
This power of selection stands in the most direct relation to 
time, and in the state of nature can be only excessively slow. 
Again, the slight differences selected, by which a race or spe- 
cies is at last formed, stands, as I think can be shown (even 
with plants, and obviously with animals), in a far more im- 
portant relation to its associates than to external conditions. 
Therefore, according to my principles, whether right or wrong, 
I cannot agree with your proposition that time, and altered 
conditions, and altered associates, are '* convertible terms. ' 
I look at the first and the last as far more important : time 
being important only so far as giving scope to selection. God 
knows whether you will perceive at what I am driving. I 
shall have to discuss and think more about your difficulty of 
the temperate and sub-arctic forms in the S. hemisphere than 
I have yet done. But I am inclined to think that I am right 
(if my general principles are right), that there would be little 
tendency to the formation of a new species, during the period 
of migration, whether shorter or longer, though considerable 
variability may have supervened. . . . 


C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker, 

Dec. 24th [1856]. 
. . . How I do wish I lived near you to discuss matters 
with. I have just been comparing definitions of species, and 
stating briefly how systematic naturalists work out their sub- 
jects. Aquilegia in the Flora Indica was a capital example 
for me. It is really laughable to see what different ideas are 
prominent in various naturalists* minds, when they speak of 
*' species ; '* in some, resemblance is everything and descent 
of little weight — in some, resemblance seems to go for noth- 
ing, and Creation the reigning idea — in some, descent is the 
key, — in some, sterility an unfailing test, with others it is not 
worth a farthing. It all comes, I believe, from trying to de- 
fine the undefinable. I suppose you have lost the odd black 
seed from the birds' dung, which germinated, — anyhow, it is 
not worth taking trouble over. I have now got about a dozen 
seeds out of small birds' dung. Adios, 

My dear Hooker, ever yours, 

C. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to Asa Gray, 

Down, Jan. ist [1857?]. 
My dear Dr Gray, — I have received the second part of 
your paper,* and though I have nothing particular to say, I 
must send you my thanks and hearty admiration. The whole 
paper strikes me as quite exhausting the subject, and I quite 
fancy and flatter myself I now appreciate the character of 
your Flora. What a difference in regard to Europe your re- 
mark in relation to the genera makes ! I have been eminently 
glad to see your conclusion in regard to the species of large 
genera widely ranging; it is in strict conformity with the re- 
sults I have worked out in several ways. It is of great impor- 
tance to my notions. By the way you have paid me a great 

* Statistics of the Flora of the Northern U. States.' Sillima^i's Jour- 
nal, 1857 

1857.1 TREES AND SHRUBS. 447 

compliment :* to be simply mentioned even in such a paper 
I consider a very great honour. One of your conclusions 
makes me groan, viz., that the line of connection of the strictly 
alpine plants is through Greenland. I should extremely like 
to see your reasons published in detail, for it " riles '' me (this 
is a proper expression, is it not ?) dreadfully. Lyell told me, 
that Agassiz having a theory about when Saurians were first 
created, on hearing some careful observations opposed to this, 
said he did not believe it, " for Nature never lied." I am just 
in this predicament, and repeat to you that, *' Nature never 
lies,'* ergo, theorisers are always right. . . . 

Overworked as you are, I dare say you will say that I am 
an odious plague ; but here is another suggestion ! I was led 
by one of my wild speculations to conclude (though it has 
nothing to do with geographical distribution, yet it has with 
your statistics) that trees would have a strong tendency to 
have flowers with dioecious, monoecious or polygamous struct- 
ure. Seeing that this seemed so in Persoon, I took one little 
British Flora, and discriminating trees from bushes according 
to Loudon, I have found that the result was in species, genera 
and families, as I anticipated. So I sent my notions to Hooker 
to ask him to tabulate the New Zealand Flora for this end, 
and he thought my result sufficiently curious, to do so ; and 
the accordance with Britain is very striking, and the more so, 
as he made three classes of trees, bushes, and herbaceous 
plants. (He says further he shall work the Tasmanian Flora 
on the same principle.) The bushes hold an intermediate 
position between the other two classes. It seems to me a 
curious relation in itself, and is very much so, if my theory 
and explanation are correct. f 

With hearty thanks, your most troublesome friend, 

C. Darwin. 

* " From some investigations of his own, this sagacious naturalist in- 
clines to think that large genera range over a larger area than the species 
of small genera do." — Asa Gray, loc. cit. 

\ See 'Origin,' Ed. i., p. 100. 


C, Darwin to /. D. Hooker, 

Down, April 12th [1857J. 

My dear Hooker, — Your letter has pleased rae much, 
for I never can get it out of my head, that I take unfair 
advantage of your kindness, as I receive all and give nothing. 
What a splendid discussion you could write on the whole 
subject of variation ! The cases discussed in your last note 
are valuable to me (though odious and damnable), as showing 
how profoundly ignorant we are on the causes of variation. 
I shall just allude to these cases, as a sort of sub-division 
of polymorphism a little more definite, I fancy, than the 
variation of, for instance, the Rubi, and equally or more per- 

I have just been putting my notes together on variations 
apparently due to the immediate and direct action of external 
causes ; and I have been struck with one result. The most 
firm sticklers for independent creation admit, that the fur of 
the same species is thinner towards the south of the range of 
the same species than to the north — that the same shells are 
brighter-coloured to the south than north ; that the same 
[shell] is paler-coloured in deep water — that insects are smaller 
and darker on mountains — more livid and testaceous near sea 
— that plants are smaller and more hairy and with brighter 
flowers on mountains : now in all such, and other cases, dis- 
tinct species in the two zones follow the same rule, which 
seems to me to be most simply explained by species, being 
only strongly marked varieties, and therefore following the 
same laws as recognised and admitted varieties. I mention 
all this on account of the variation of plants in ascending 
mountains ; I have quoted the foregoing remark only gener- 
ally with no examples, for I add, there is so much doubt and 
dispute what to call varieties ; but yet I have stumbled on so 
many casual remarks on varieties of plants on mountains 
being so characterised, that I presume there is some truth in 
it. What think you ? Do you believe there is any tendency 
in varieties, as generally so called, of plants to become more 

i857.] WATER-CURE. 44^ 

hairy and with proportionally larger and brighter-coloured 
flowers in ascending a mountain ? 

I have been interested in my "weed garden," of 3X2 feet 
square : I mark each seedling as it appears, and I am 
astonished at the number that come up, and still more at 
the number killed by slugs, &c. Already 59 have been so 
killed ; I expected a good many, but I had fancied that this 
was a less potent check than it seems to be, and I attributed 
almost exclusively to mere choking, the destruction of the 
seedlings. Grass-seedlings seem to suffer much less than 
exogens. . . , 

C. Darwin to J, D. Hooker. 

Moor Park, Farnham [April (?) 1857]. 

My dear Hooker, — Your letter has been forwarded to 
me here, where I am undergoing hydropathy for a fortnight, 
having been here a week, and having already received an 
amount of good which is quite incredible to myself and quite 
unaccountable. I can walk and eat like a hearty Christian, 
and even my nights are good. I cannot in the least under- 
stand how hydropathy can act as it certainly does on me 
It dulls one's brain splendidly ; I have not thought about 
a single species of any kind since leaving home. Your note 
has taken me aback ; I thought the hairiness, &c., of Alpine 
species was generally admitted ; I am sure I have seen it 
alluded to a score of times Falconer was haranguing on it 
jthe other day to me Meyen or Gay, or some such fellow 
[whom you would despise), I remember, makes some remark 
3n Chilian Cordillera plants. Wimmer has written a little book 
3n the same lines, and on varieties being so characterised in 
:he Alps. But after writing to you, I confess I was staggered 
3y finding one man (Moquin-Tandon, I think) saying that 
Alpine flowers are strongly inclined to be white, and Linnaeus 
jaying that cold makes plants apetalous^ eten the same 
pecies ! Are Arctic plants often apetalous ? My general 
relief from my compiling work is quite to agree with what 


you say about the little direct influence of climate ; and I 
have just alluded to the hairiness of Alpine plants as an ex- 
ception. The odoriferousness would be a good case for me if 
I knew of varieties being more odoriferous in dry habitats. 

I fear that I have looked at the hairiness of Alpine plants 
as so generally acknowledged that I have not marked pas- 
sages, so as at all to see what kind of evidence authors ad- 
vance. I must confess, the other day, when I asked Falconer, 
whether he knew of individual plants losing or acquiring hairi- 
ness when transported, he did not. But now this second^ my 
memory flashes on me, and I am certain I have somewhere 
got marked a case of hairy plants from the Pyrenees losing 
hairs when cultivated at Montpellier. Shall you think me 
very impudent if I tell you that I have sometimes thought 
that (quite independently of the present case), you are a little 
too hard on bad observers ; that a remark made by a bad 
observer cannot be right ; an observer who deserves to be 
damned you would utterly damn. I feel entire deference 
to any remark you make out of your own head ; but when in 
opposition to some poor devil, I somehow involuntarily feel 
not quite so much, but yet much deference for your opinion, 
I do not know in the least whether there is any truth in this 
my criticism against you, but I have often thought I would 
tell you it. 

I am really very much obliged for your letter, for, though 
I intended to put only one sentence and that vaguely, I should 
probably have put that much too strongly. 

Ever, my dear Hooker, yours most truly, 

C. Darwin 

P. S. This note, as you see, has not anything requiring an 

The distribution of fresh-water molluscs has been a horrid 
incubus to me, but I think I know my way now ; when 
first hatched they are very active, and I have had thirty 
or forty crawl on a dead duck's foot ; and they cannot be 
jerked off, and will live fifteen and even twenty-four hours 
out of water. 


[The following letter refers to the expedition of the Aus- 
trian frigate Novara; Lyell had asked my father for sugges- 

C, Darwin to C. LyelL 

Down, Feb. nth [1857]. 

My dear Lyell, — I was glad to see in the newspapers 
about the Austrian Expedition. I have nothing to add geolo- 

Igically to my notes in the Manual.* I do not know whether 
the Expedition is tied down to call at only fixed spots. But 
if there be any choice or power in the scientific men to 
influence the places — this would be most desirable. It is my 
most deliberate conviction that nothing would aid more, 
Natural History, than careful collecting and investigating all 
the productions of the most isolated islands, especially of the 
southern hemisphere. Except Tristan d'Acunha and Ker- 
guelen Land, they are very imperfectly known ; and even at 
Kerguelen Land, how much there is to make out about the 
lignite beds, and whether there are signs of old Glacial action. 
Every sea shell and insect and plant is of value from such 
spots. Some one in the Expedition especially ought to have 
Hooker's New Zealand Essay. What grand work to explore 
Rodriguez, with its fossil birds, and little known productions 
of every kind. Again the Seychelles, which, with the Cocos 
so near, must be a remnant of some older land. The outer 
island of Juan Fernandez is little known. The investigation 
of these little spots by a band of naturalists would be grand ; 
St. Paul's and Amsterdam would be glorious, botanically, 
and geologically. Can you not recommend them to get my 
* Journal * and * Volcanic Islands ' on account of the Galapa- 
gos. If they come from the north it will be a shame and a 
sin if they do not call at Cocos Islet, one of the Galapagos. 
I always regretted that I was not able to examine the great 

t|[ ■ 

* The article " Geology " in the Admiralty Manual of Scientific En- 




craters on Albemarle Island, one of the Galapagos. In New 
Zealand urge on them to look out for erratic boulders and 
marks of old glaciers. 

Urge the use of the dredge in the Tropics ; how little or 
nothing we know of the limit of life downward in the hot 
seas ? 

My present work leads me to perceive how much the 
domestic animals have been neglected in out of the way- 

The Revillagigedo Island off Mexico, I believe, has never 
been trodden by foot of naturalist. 

If the expedition sticks to such places as Rio, Cape of 
Good Hope, Ceylon and Australia, &c., it will not do much. 

Ever yours most truly, 

C. Darwin. 

[The following passage occurs in a letter to Mr. Fox, Feb- 
ruary 22, 1857, and has reference to the book on Evolution 
on which he was still at work. The remainder of the letter 
is made up in details of no interest : 

**I am got most deeply interested in my subject; though 
I wish I could set less value on the bauble fame, either present; 
or posthumous, than I do, but not I think, to any extrem( 
degree : yet, if I know myself, I would work just as hard, 
though with less gusto, if I knew that my book would be pub- 
lished for ever anonymously.*'] 

C. Darwin to A. R. Wallace. 

Moor Park, May 1st, 1857. 

My dear Sir, — I am much obliged for your letter of 
October loth, from Celebes, received a few days ago ; in a 
laborious undertaking, sympathy is a valuable and real en- 
couragement. By your letter and even still more by your 


paper * in the Annals, a year or more ago, I can plainly see 
that we have thought much alike and to a certain extent have 
come to similar conclusions. In regard to the Paper in the 
Annals, I agree to the truth of almost every word of your 
paper ; and I dare say that you will agree with me that it is 
very rare to find oneself agreeing pretty closely with any 
theoretical paper ; for it is lamentable how each man draws 
his own different conclusions from the very same facts. This 
summer will make the 20th year (!) since I opened my first 
note-book, on the question how and in what way do species 
and varieties differ from each other. I am now preparing my 
work for publication, but I find the subject so very large, that 
though I have written many chapters, I do not suppose I shall 
go to press for two years. I have never heard how long you 
intend staying in the Malay Archipelago ; I wish I might 
profit by the publication of your Travels there before my 
work appears, for no doubt you will reap a large harvest of 
facts. I have acted already in accordance with your advice 
of keeping domestic varieties, and those appearing in a state 
of nature, distinct ; but I have sometimes doubted of the 
wisdom of this, and therefore I am glad to be backed by your 
opinion. I must confess, however, I rather doubt the truth 
of the now very prevalent doctrine of all our domestic animals 
having descended from several wild stocks; though I do not 
doubt that it is so in some cases. I think there is rather 
better evidence on the sterility of hybrid animals than you 
seem to admit : and in regard to plants the collection of 
carefully recorded facts by Kolreuter and Gaertner (and 
Herbert,] is enormous. I most entirely agree with you on the 
little effects of ** climatal conditions," which one sees referred 
to ad nauseam in all books : I suppose some very little effect 
must be attributed to such influences, but I fully believe that 
they are very slight. It is really impossible to explain my 
views (in the compass of a letter), on the causes and means 

* * On the law that has regulated the introduction of new species. '- 
Ann. Nat. Hist., 1855. 


of variation in a state of nature ; but I have slowly adopted a 
distinct and tangible idea, — whether true or false others must 
judge ; for the firmest conviction of the truth of a doctrine by 
its author, seems, alas, not to be the slightest guarantee of 
truth ! . . . 

C. Darwin to J. D, Hooker, 

Moor Park, vSaturday [May 2nd, 1857J. 

My dear Hooker, — You have shaved the hair off the 
Alpine plants pretty effectually. The case of the Anthyllis 
will make a *^ tie " with the believed case of Pyrenees plants 
becoming glabrous at low levels. If I do find that I have 
marked such facts, I will lay the evidence before you. I 
wonder how the belief could have originated ! Was it through 
final causes to keep the plants warm ? Falconer in talk 
coupled the two facts of woolly Alpine plants and mammals. 
How candidly and meekly you took my Jeremiad on your 
severity to second-class men. After I had sent it off, an ugly 
little voice asked me, once or twice, how much of my noble 
defence of the poor in spirit and in fact, was owing to your 
having not seldom smashed favourite notions of my own. I 
silenced the ugly little voice with contempt, but it would 
whisper again and again. I sometimes despise myself as a 
poor compiler as heartily as you could do, though I do 7iot 
despise my whole work, as I think there is enough known to 
lay a foundation for the discussion on the origin of species. 
I have been led to despise and laugh at myself as a compiler, 
for having put down that "Alpine plants have large flowers," 
and now perhaps I may write over these very words, "Alpine 
plants have small or apetalous flowers ! " . . . 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker, 

Down, [May] i6th [1857]. 
My dear Hooker, — You said — I hope honestly — that 
you did not dislike my asking questions on general points, 
you of course answering or not as time or inclination might 



IS a 


serve. I find in the animal kingdom that the proposition 
that any part or organ developed normally (/. ^., not a mon- 
strosity) in a species in any high or unusual degree, compared 
with the same part or organ in allied species, tends to be 
highly variable. I cannot doubt this from my mass of col- 
lected facts. To give an instance, the Cross-bill is very ab- 
normal in the structure of its bill compared with other allied 
Fringillidae, and the beak is eminently variable. The Himan- 
topus, remarkable from the wonderful length of its legs, is 
very variable in the length of its legs. I could give many 
most striking and curious illustrations in all classes; so many 
that I think it cannot be chance. But I have none in the 
vegetable kingdom, owing, as I believe, to my ignorance. If 
Nepenthes consisted of one or two species in a group with 
a pitcher developed, then I should have expected it to have 
been very variable ; but I do not consider Nepenthes a case 
in point, for when a whole genus or group has an organ, 
however anomalous, I do not expect it to be variable, — it is 
only when one or few species differ greatly in some one part 
or organ from the forms closely allied to it in all other re- 
spects, that I believe such part or organ to be highly variable. 
Will you turn this in your mind } it is an important apparent 
law (!) for me. 

^ Ever yours, 

C. Darwin. 

P. S. — I do not know how far you will care to hear, but 
I find Moquin-Tandon treats in his * Teratologic ' on villosity 
of plants, and seems to attribute more to dryness than alti- 
tude ; but seems to think that it must be admitted that 
mountain plants are villose, and that this villosity is only 
in part explained by De Candolle's remark that the dwarfed 
condition of mountain plants would condense the hairs, and 
so give them the appearance of being more hairy. He quotes 
Senebier, ^ Physiologic Vegetale,' as authority — I suppose the 
first authority, for mountain plants being hairy. 

If I could show positively that the endemic species were 


more hairy in dry districts, then the case of the varieties 
becoming more hairy in dry ground would be a fact for 


C. Darwin to /. D. Hooker. 

Down, June 3rd [1857]. 

My dear Hooker, — I am going to enjoy myself by 
having a prose on my own subjects to you, and this is a 
greater enjoyment to me than you will readily understand, as 
I for months together do not open my mouth on Natural 
History. Your letter is of great value to me, and staggers me 
in regard to my proposition. I dare say the absence of bo- 
tanical facts may in part be accounted for by the difficulty 
of measuring slight variations. Indeed, after writing, this 
occurred to me ; for I have Crucianella siylosa coming into 
flower, and the pistil ought to be very variable in length, and 
thinking of this I at once felt how could one judge whether it 
was variable in any high degree. How different, for instance, 
from the beak of a bird ! But I am not satisfied with this 
explanation, and am staggered. Yet I think there is some- 
thing in the law ; I have had so many instances, as the follow- 
ing : I wrote to Wollaston to ask him to run through the Ma- 
deira Beetles and tell me whether any one presented anything 
very anomalous in relation to its allies. He gave me a unique 
case of an enormous head in a female, and then I found in 
his book, already stated, that the size of the head was astofi- 
ishingly variable. Part of the difference with plants may be 
accounted for by many of my cases being secondary male or 
female characters, but then I have striking cases with her- 
maphrodite Cirripedes. The cases seem to me far too numer- 
ous for accidental coincidences, of great variability and ab- 
normal development. I presume that you will not object to 
my putting a note saying that you had reflected over the case, 
and though one or two cases seemed to support, quite as many 
or more seemed wholly contradictory. This want of evidence 

1857] VARIABILITY. 457 

is the more surprising to me, as generally 1 find any propo- 
sition more easily tested by observations in botanical works, 
which I have picked up, than in zoological works. I never 
dreamed that you had kept the subject at all before your 
mind. Altogether the case is one more of my many horrid 
puzzles. My observations, though on so infinitely a small 
scale, on the struggle for existence, begin to make me see a 
little clearer how the fight goes on. Out of sixteen kinds of 
seed sown on my meadow, fifteen have germinated, but now 
they are perishing at such a rate that I doubt whether more 
than one will flower. Here we have choking which has taken 
place likewise on a great scale, with plants not seedlings, in 
a bit of my lawn allowed to grow up. On the other hand, in 
a bit of ground, 2 by 3 feet, I have daily marked each seed- 
ling weed as it has appeared during March, April and May, 
and 357 have come up, and of these 277 have already been 
killed, chiefly by slugs. By the way, at Moor Park, I saw 
rather a pretty case of the effects of animals on vegetation : 
there are enormous commons with clumps of old Scotch firs 
on the hills, and about eight or ten years ago some of these 
commons were enclosed, and all round the clumps nice young 
trees are springing up by the million, looking exactly as if 
planted, so many are of the same age. In other parts of the 
2ommon, not yet enclosed, I looked for miles and not one 
^oung tree could be seen. I then went near (within quarter 
Df a mile of the clumps) and looked closely in the heather, 
md there I found tens of thousands of young Scotch firs 
thirty in one square yard) with their tops nibbled off by the 
ew cattle which occasionally roam over these wretched heaths. 
3ne little tree, three inches high, by the rings appeared to be 
wenty-six years old, with a short stem about as thick as a 
►tick of sealing-wax. What a wondrous problem it is, what 
play of forces, determining the kind and proportion of each 
lant in a square yard of turf! It is to my mind truly won- 
lerful. And yet we are pleased to wonder when some animal 
)r plant becomes extinct. 

I am so sorry that you will not be at the Club. I see Mrs. 


Hooker is going to Yarmouth ; I trust that the health of your 
children is not the motive. Good-bye. 

My dear Hooker, ever yours, 

C. Darwin. 

P. S. — I believe you are afraid to send me a ripe Edwardsia 
pod, for fear I should float it from New Zealand to Chile 1 ! ! 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down, June 5 [1857]. 

My dear Hooker, — I honour your conscientious care 
about the medals.* Thank God ! I am only an amateur (but 
a much interested one) on the subject. 

It is an old notion of mine that more good is done by 
giving medals to younger men in the early part of their 
career, than as a mere reward to men whose scientific career 
is nearly finished. Whether medals ever do any good is a 
question which does not concern us, as there the medals are. 
I am almost inclined to think that I would rather lower the 
standard, and give medals to young workers than to old 
ones with no especial claims. With regard to especial claims, 
I think it just deserving your attention, that if general claims 
are once admitted, it opens the door to great laxity in giving 
them. Think of the case of a very rich man, who aided solely 
with his money, but to a grand extent — or such an inconceiv- 
able prodigy as a minister of the Crown who really cared for 
science. Would you give such men medals.^ Perhaps 
medals could not be better applied than exclusively to such 
men. I confess at present I incline to stick to especial claims 
which can be put down on paper. . . . 

1 am much confounded by your showing that there are 
not obvious instances of my (or rather Waterhouse's) law of 
abnormal developments being highly variable. I have been 
thinking more of your remark about the difficulty of judging 

* The Royal Society's medals. 

1857.] VARIABILITY. 459 

or comparing variability in plants from the great general 
variability of parts. I should look at the law as more com- 
pletely smashed if you would turn in your mind for a little 
while for cases of great variability of an organ, and tell me 
whether it is moderately easy to pick out such cases ; for if 
they can be picked out, and, notwithstanding, do not coincide 
with great or abnormal development, it would be a complete 
smasher. It is only beginning in your mind at the variability 
end of the question instead of at the abnormality end. Per- 
haps cases in which ^ part is highly variable in all the species 
of a group should be excluded, as possibly being something 
distinct, and connected with the perplexing subject of poly- 
morphism. Will you perfect your assistance by further con- 
sidering, for a little, the subject this way ? 

I have been so much interested this morning in comparing 
all my notes on the variation of the several species of the 
genus Equus and the results of their crossing. Taking most 
strictly analogous facts amongst the blessed pigeons for my 
guide, I believe I can plainly see the colouring and marks of 
the grandfather of the Ass, Horse, Quagga, Hemionus and 
Zebra, some millions of generations ago ! Should not I 
[have] sneer[ed] at any one who made such a remark to me 
a few years ago ; but my evidence seems to me so good that 
I shall publish my vision at the end of my little discussion on 
this genus. 

I have of late inundated you with my notions, you best of 
friends and philosophers. 


C. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker, 

Moor Park, Farnham, June 25tli [1857]. . 

My Dear Hooker,— This requires no answer, but I will 
ask you whenever we meet. Look at enclosed seedling gqrses, 
especially one with the top knocked off. The leaves suc- 
ceeding the cotyledons being almost clover-like in shape, 


seems to me feebly analogous to embryonic resemblances in 
young animals, as, for instance, the young lion being striped. 
I shall ask you whether this is so.* . . . 

Dr. Lane f and wife, and mother-in-law, Lady Drysdale, 
are some of the nicest people I have ever met. 

I return home on the 30th. Good-bye, my dear Hooker. 

Ever yours, 

C. Darwin, 

[Here follows a group of letters, of various dates, bearing 
on the question of large genera varying.] 

C J^ancnn to J. Z>. Hooker. 

March nth [1S5SJ. 

I was led to all this work by a remark of Fries, that the 
species in large genera were more closely related to each 
other than in small genera ; and if this were so, seeing that 
varieties and species are so hardly distinguishable, I concluded 
that I should find more varieties in the large genera than in 
the small. . . . Some day I hope you will read my short 
discussion on the whole subject. You have done me infinite 
service, whatever opinion I come to, in drawing my attention 
to at least the possibility or the probability of botanists record- 
ing more varieties in the Jarge than in the small genera. It 
will be hard work for me to be candid in coming to my con- 

Ever yours, most truly, 

C. Darwin. 

P. S. — I shall be several weeks at my present job. The 
work has been turning out badly for me this morning, and I 
am sick at heart ; and, oh ! how I do hate species and varieties. 

* See * Power of Movements in Plants,' p. 414. 
f The physician at Moor Park. 


C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

July I4tli I1B57?]. 

... I write now to supplicate most earnestly a favour, 
viz., the loan of J^oreaUy Flore du centre de la France, either 
\st or 2nd edition^ last best ; also ^* Flora Ratisbonensis/* by 
Dr. Flirnrohr, in * Natiirhist. Topograj^hie von Regensburg, 
1839.' If you cTin possibly spare them, will you send them at 
r)nce to the enclosed address. If you have not them, will 
you send one line by return of post : as 1 must try whether 
Kippist * can anyhow find them, which I fear will be nearly 
impossible in the Linnean Lil^rary, in which 1 know they are. 

Ihave been making some calculations about varieties, &c., 
and talking yesterday with Lubbock, he has pointed out to 
me the grossest blunder which I have made in principle, and 
which entails two or three weeks* lost work ; and I am at a 
dead-lock till I have these books to go over again, and see 
what the result of calculation on the right principle is. I am 
the most miserable, bemuddled, stupid dog in all England, 
and am ready to cry with vexation at my blindness and 

Ever yours, most miserably, 

C. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to John Luhhock. 

Down, [July] 14th [1857]. 

My dear Lubbock, — You have done me the greatest 
possible service in helping me to clarify my brains. If 1 am 
as muzzy on all subjects as I am on proportion and chance, 
— what a book I shall produce ! 

I have divided the New Zealand Flora as you suggested. 
There are 329 species in genera of 4 and upwards, and 323 in 
genera of 3 and less. 

♦The late Mr, Kippist was at this time in charge of the Linnean 
Society's Library. 


The 339 species have 51 species presenting one or more 
varieties. The 323 species have only 37. Proportionately 
(339 • 3^3 * • 51 • 48*5) they ought to have had 48J species 
presenting vars. So that the case goes as I want it, but not 
strong enough, without it be general, for me to have much 
confidence in. I am quite convinced yours is the right way ; 
I had thought of it, but should never have done it had it not 
been for my most fortunate conversation with you. 

I am quite shocked to find how easily I am muddled, for 
I had before thought over the subject much, and concluded 
my way was fair. It is dreadfully erroneous. 

What a disgraceful blunder you have saved me from. I 
heartily thank you. 

Ever yours, 

C. Darwin. 

P. S. — It is enough to make me tear up all my MS. and 
give up in despair. 

It will take me several weeks to go over all my materials. 
But oh, if you knew how thankful I am to you ! 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down, Aug. [1857]. 

My dear Hooker, — It is a horrid bore you cannot come 
soon, and I reproach myself that I did not write sooner. 
How busy you must be ! with such a heap of botanists at 
Kew. Only think, I have just had a letter from Henslow, 
saying he will come here between nth and 15th I Is not 
that grand ? Many thanks about Furnrohr. I must humbly 
supplicate Kippist to search for it : he most kindly got Bo- 
reau for me. 

I am got extremely interested in tabulating, according to 
mere size of genera, the species having any varieties marked 
by Greek letters or otherwise : the result (as far as I have yet 
gone) seems to me one of the most important arguments I 
have yet met with, that varieties are only small species — 01^ 



species only strongly marked varieties. The subject is in 
many ways so very important for me ; I wish much you would 
think of any well-worked Psoras with from 1000-2000 species, 
with the varieties marked. It is good to have hair-splitters 
and lumpers.* I have done, or am doing : — 



. [• British Flora 
H. C. Watson ) 


. . 

London Cat< 


Boreau . 

. , 


Miquel . 

, , 


Asa Gray 


N. U. States. 

Hooker . 

3 N. Zealand. 

( Fragment of Indian Flora 


. , 

Madeira insects. 

Has not Koch published a good German Flora .'^ Does 
he mark varieties ? Could you send it me ? Is there not 
some grand Russian Flora, which perhaps has varieties 
marked ? The Floras ought to be well known. 

I am in no hurry for a few weeks. Will you turn this in 
your head when, if ever, you have leisure ? The subject is 
very important for my work, though I clearly see inany causes 
of error. . . . 

C. Darwin to Asa Gray. 

Down, Feb. [1859]. 

My dear Gray, — My last letter begged no favour, this 
one does : but it will really cost you very little trouble to 
answer to me, and it will be of very great service to me, owing 
to a remark made to me by Hooker, which I cannot credit, 
and which was suggested to him by one of my letters. He 
suggested my asking you, and I told him I would not give 
the least hint what he thought. I generally believe Hooker 

* Those who make many species are the "splitters," and those who 
make few are the "lumpers." 


implicitly, but he is sometimes, I think, and he confesses it, 
rather over critical, and his ingenuity in discovering flaws 
seems to me admirable. Here is my question : — " Do you 
think that good botanists in drawing up a local Flora, whether 
small or large, or in making a Prodromus like De Candolle's, 
would almost universally, but unintentionally and uncon- 
sciously, tend to record (/. e.^ marking with Greek letters 
and giving short characters) varieties in the large or in the 
small genera ? Or would the tendency be to record the va- 
rieties about equally in genera of all sizes ? Are you your- 
self conscious on reflection that you have attended to, and 
recorded more carefully the varieties in large or small, or very 
small genera?*' 

I know what fleeting and trifling things varieties very often 
are ; but my query applies to such as have been thought 
worth marking and recording. If you could screw time to 
send me ever so brief an answer to this, pretty soon^ it would 
be a great service to me. 

Yours most truly obliged, 

Ch. Darwin. 

P. S. — Do you know whether any one has ever published 
any remarks on the geographical range of varieties of plants 
in comparison with the species to which they are supposed to 
belong ? I have in vain tried to get some vague idea, and 
with the exception of a little information on this head given 
me by Mr. Watson in a paper on Land Shells in U. States, I 
have quite failed ; but perhaps it would be difficult for you 
to give me even a brief answer on this head, and if so I am 
not so unreasonable, I assure you^ as to expect it. 

If you are writing to England soon, you could enclose 
other letters [for] me to forward. 

Please observe the question is not whether there are more 
or fewer varieties in larger or smaller genera, but whether 
there is a stronger or weaker tendency in the minds of bota- 
nists to record such in large or small genera. 


C, Darwin to J, D. Hooker. 

Down, May 6th [1858]. 

... I send by this post my MS. on the "commonness/' 
*^ range/' and " variation " of species in large and small gen- 
era. You have undertaken a horrid job in so very kindly 
offering to read it, and I thank you warmly. I have just cor- 
rected the copy, and am disappointed in finding how tough 
and obscure it is ; but I cannot make it clearer, and at pres- 
ent I loathe the very sight of it. The style of course requires 
further correction, and if published I must try, but as yet see 
not how, to make it clearer. 

If you have much to say and can have patience to con- 
sider the whole subject, I would meet you in London on the 
Phil. Club day, so as to save you the trouble of writing. For 
Heaven's sake, you stern and awful judge and sceptic, re- 
member that my conclusions may be true, notwithstanding 
that Botanists may have recorded more varieties in large than 
in small genera. It seems to me a mere balancing of proba- 
bilities. Again I thank you most sincerely, but I fear you 
will find it a horrid job. 

Ever yours, 

C. Darwin. 

P. S. — As usual. Hydropathy has made a man of me for a 
short time: I hope the sea will do Mrs. Hooker much good. 

C. Darwin to A. R. Wallace. 

Down, Dec. 22nd, 1857. 

My dear Sir, — I thank you for your letter of Sept. 27th. 
I am extremely glad to hear that you are attending to distri- 
bution in accordance with theoretical ideas. I am a firm be- 
liever that without speculation there is no good and original 
observation. Few travellers have attended to such points as 
you are now at work on ; and, indeed, the whole subject of 
distribution of animals is dreadfully behind that of plants. 


t> 466 THE UNFINISHED BOOK, [1857. 

You say that you have been somewhat surprised at no notice 
having been taken of your paper in the Annals.* I cannot 
say that I am, for so very few naturalists care for anything 
beyond the mere description of species. But you must not 
suppose that your paper has not been attended to : two very 
good men, Sir C. Lyell, and Mr. E. Blyth at Calcutta, spe- 
cially called my attention to it. Though agreeing with you on 
your conclusions in that paper, I believe I go much further 
than you ; but it is too long a subject to enter on my specu- 
lative notions. I have not yet seen your paper on the distri- 
bution of animals in the Aru Islands. I shall read it with the 
utmost interest ; for I think that the most interesting quarter 
of the whole globe in respect to distribution, and I have long 
been very imperfectly trying to collect data for the Malay 
Archipelago. I shall be quite prepared to subscribe to your 
doctrine of subsidence ; indeed, from the quite independent 
evidence of the Coral Reefs I coloured my original map (in 
my Coral volume) of the Aru Islands as one of subsidence, 
but got frightened and left it uncoloured. But I can see 
that you are inclined to go much further than I am in re- 
gard to the former connection of oceanic islands with con- j 
tinents. Ever since poor E. Forbes propounded this doc- j 
trine it has been eagerly followed ; and Hooker elaborately 
discusses the former connection of all the Antarctic Islands 
and New Zealand and South America. About a year ago 
I discussed this subject much with Lyell and Hooker (for 
I shall have to treat of it), and wrote out my arguments in 
opposition ; but you will be glad to hear that neither Lyell 
nor Hooker thought much of my arguments. Nevertheless, 
for once in my life, I dare withstand the almost preter- 
natural sagacity of Lyell. 

You ask about land-shells on islands far distant from con- 
tinents : Madeira has a few identical with those of Europe, 
and here the evidence is really good, as some of them are 


* * On the law that has regulated the introduction of New Species. 
Ann. Nat. Hist., 1855. 



sub-fossil. In the Pacific Islands there are cases of identity, 
which I cannot at present persuade myseh' to account for by 
introduction through man's agency ; although Dr. Aug. Gould 
has conclusively shown that many land-shells have thus been 
distributed over the Pacific by man's agency. These cases of 
introduction are most plaguing. Have you not found it so in 
the Malay Archipelago } It has seemed to me in the lists of 
mammals of Timor and other islands, that several in all prob- 
ability have been naturalised. . . . 

You ask whether I shall discuss ** man." I think I shall 
avoid the whole subject, as so surrounded with prejudices ; 
though I fully admit that it is the highest and most interesting 
problem for the naturalist. My work, on which I have now 
been at work more or less for twenty years, will not fix or 
settle anything; but I hope it will aid by giving a large col- 
lection of facts, with one definite end. I get on very slowly, 
partly from ill-health, partly from being a very slow worker, 
I have got about half written ; but I do not suppose I shall 
published under a couple of years. I have now been three 
whole months on one chapter on Hybridism ! 

I am astonished to see that you expect to remain out three 
or four years more. What a wonderful deal you wull have 
seen, and what interesting areas — the grand Malay Archi- 
pelago and the richest parts of South America ! I infinitely 
admire and honour your zeal and courage in the good cause 
of Natural Science ; and you have my very sincere and cordial 
good wishes for success of all kinds, and may all your theories 
succeed, except that on Oceanic Islands, on which subject I 
will do battle to the death. 

Pray believe me, my dear sir, yours very sincerely, 

C. Darwin. 

C Darwin to W, D. Fox. 

Feb. 8th [1858]. 
... I am working very hard at my book, perhaps too 
hard. It will be very big, and I am become most deeply 
interested in the way facts fall into groups. I am like Croesus 


overwhelmed with my riches in facts, and I mean to make my 
book as perfect as ever I can. I shall not go to press at soon- 
est for a couple of years. ... 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Feb. 23rd [1858]. 

... I was not much struck with the great Buckle, and I 
admired the way you stuck up about deduction and induc- 
tion. I am reading his book,* which, with much sophistry, 
as it seems to me, is wonderfully clever and original, and with 
astounding knowledge. 

I saw that you admired Mrs. Farrer's ^ Questa tomba * of 
Beethoven thoroughly ; there is something grand in her sweet 

Farewell. I have partly written this note to drive bee's- 
cells out of my head ; for I am half-mad on the subject to 
try to make out some simple steps from which all the won- 
drous angles may result.f 

I was very glad to see Mrs. Hooker on Friday ; how well 
she appears to be and looks. 

Forgive your intolerable but affectionate friend, 

C. Darwin. 

C Darwin to W. D, Fox. 

Down, April i6th [1858]. 

My dear Fox, — I want you to observe one point for me, 
on which I am extremely much interested, and which will give 
you no trouble beyond keeping your eyes open, and that is a 
habit I know full well that you have. 

I find horses of various colours often have a spinal band 
or stripe of different and darker tint than the rest of the body ; 
rarely transverse bars on the legs, generally on the under-side 

* *The Histoiy of Civilisation.' 

f He had much correspondence on this subject with the late Professor 
Miller of Cambridge. 

1858.] STRIPED HORSES. 469 

of the front legs, still more rarely a very faint transverse 
shoulder-stripe like an ass. 

Is there any .breed of Delamere forest ponies ? I have 
found out little about ponies in these respects. Sir P. Eger- 
ton has, I believe, some quite thoroughbred chestnut horses ; 
have any of them the spinal stripe ? Mouse-coloured ponies, 
or rather small horses, often have spinal and leg bars. So 
have dun horses (by dun I mean real colour of cream mixed 
with brown, bay, or chestnut). So have sometimes chestnuts, 
but I have not yet got a case of spinal stripe in chestnut, race 
horse, or in quite heavy cart-horse. Any fact of this nature 
of such stripes in horses would be mos^ useful to me. There 
is a parallel case in the legs of the donkey, and I have col- 
lected some most curious cases of stripes appearing in va- 
rious crossed equine animals. I have also a large mass of 
parallel facts in the breeds of pigeons about the wing bars. 
I suspect it will throw light on the colour of the primeval 
horse. So do help me if occasion turns up. . . . My health 
has been lately very bad from overwork, and on Tuesday I go 
for a fortnight's hydropathy. My work is everlasting. Fare- 

My dear Fox, I trust you are well. Farewell, 

C. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Moor Park, Farnham [April 26th, 1858]. 

... I have just had the innermost cockles of my heart 
rejoiced by a letter from Lyell. I said to him (or he to me) 
that I believed from the character of the flora of the Azores, 
that icebergs must have been stranded there; and that I ex- 
pected erratic boulders would be detected embedded between 
the upheaved lava-beds ; and I got Lyell to write to Hartung 
to ask, and now H. says my question explains what had 
astounded him, viz., large boulders (and some polished) of 
mica-schist, quartz, sandstone, &c., some embedded, and some 
40 and 50 feet above the level of the sea, so that he had 


inferred that they had not been brought as ballast. Is this 
not beautiful ? 

The water-cure has done me some good, but I [am] noth- 
ing to boast of to-day, so good-bye. 

My dear friend, yours, 

C. D. 

C. Darwin to C. LyelL 

Moor Park, Farnham, April 26th [1858]. 

My dear Lyell, — I have come here for a fortnight's 
hydropathy, as my stomach had got, from steady work, into a 
horrid state. I am extremely much obliged to you for send- 
ing me Hartung's interesting letter. The erratic boulders are 
splendid. It is a grand case of floating ice versus glaciers. 
He ought to have compared the northern and southern shores 
of the islands. It is eminently interesting to me, for I have 
written a very long chapter on the subject, collecting briefly 
all the geological evidence of glacial action in different parts 
of the world, and then at great length (on the theory of spe- 
cies changing) I have discussed the migration and modifica- 
tion of plants and animals, in sea and land, over a large part 
of the world. To my mind, it throws a flood of light on the 
whole subject of distribution, if combined with the modifica- 
tion of species. Indeed, I venture to speak with some little 
confidence on this, for Hooker, about a year ago, kindly read 
over my chapter, and though he then demurred gravely to 
the general conclusion, I was delighted to hear a week or two 
ago that he was inclined to come round pretty strongly to my 
views of distribution and change during the glacial period. I 
had a letter from Thompson, of Calcu-tta, the other day, 
which helps me much, as he is making out for me what heat 
our temperate plants can endure. But it is too long a sub- 
ject for a note; and I have written thus only because Har- 
tung*s note has set the whole subject afloat in my mind 
again. But I will write no more, for my object here is to 
think about nothing, bathe much, walk much, eat much, and 

1858.] KOSSUTH. 471 

read much novels. Farewell, with many thanks, and very 

kind remembrance to Lady Lyell. 

Ever yours, 

C. Darwin. 

C Darwin to Mrs, Darwin, 

Moor Park, Wednesday, April [1858]. 
The weather is quite delicious. Yesterday, after writing 
to you, I strolled a little beyond the glade for an hour and a 
half, and enjoyed myself — the fresh yet dark-green of the 
grand Scotch firs, the brown of the catkins of the old birches, 
with their white stems, and a fringe of distant green from the 
larches made an excessively pretty view. At last I fell fast 
asleep on the grass, and awoke with a chorus of birds singing 
around me, and squirrels running up the trees, and some 
woodpeckers laughing, and it was as pleasant and rural a 
scene as ever I saw, and I did not care one penny how any 
of the beasts or birds had been formed. I sat in the drawing- 
room till after eight, and then went and read the Chief Jus- 
tice's summing up, and thought Bernard * guilty, and then 
read a bit of my novel, which is feminine, virtuous, clerical, 
philanthropical, and all that sort of thing, but very decidedly 
flat. I say feminine, for the author is ignorant about money 
matters, and not much of a lady — for she makes her men say, 
" My Lady.'' I like Miss Craik very much, though we have 
some battles, and differ on every subject. I like also the 
Hungarian ; a thorough gentleman, formerly attache at Paris, 
and then in the Austrian cavalry, and now a pardoned exile, 
with broken health. He does not seem to like Kossuth, but 
says, he is certain [he is] a sincere patriot, most clever and 
eloquent, but weak, with no determination of character. . . . 

* Simon Bernard was tried in April 1858 as an accessory to Orsini's 
attempt on the life of the Emperor of the French. The verdict was ** not 


June i8, 1858, to November, 1859. 

[The letters given in the present chapter tell their story 
with sufficient clearness, and need but a few words of expla- 
nation. Mr. Wallace's Essay, referred to in the first letter, 
bore the sub-title, * On the Tendency of Varieties to depart 
indefinitely from the Original Type,' and was published in the 
Linnean Society's Journal (1858, vol. iii. p. 53) as part of the 
joint paper of ^^ Messrs. C. Darwin and A. Wallace," of which 
the full title was ' On the Tendency of Species to form Varie- 
ties ; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by 
Natural Means of Selection.* 

My father's contribution of the paper consisted of (i) Ex- 
tracts from the sketch of 1844 ; (2) part of a letter addressed 
to Dr. Asa Gray, dated September 5, 1857, and which is 
given at p. 120. The paper was ** communicated " to the 
Society by Sir Charles Lyell and Sir Joseph Hooker, in whose 
prefatory letter, a clear account of the circumstances of the 
case is given. 

Referring to Mr. Wallace's Essay, they wrote : 

** So highly did Mr. Darwin appreciate the value of the 
views therein set forth, that he proposed, in a letter to Sir 
Charles Lyell, to obtain Mr. Wallace's consent to allow the 
Essay to be published as soon as possible. Of this step we 
highly approved, provided Mr. Darwin did not withold from 
the public, as he was strongly inclined to do (in favour of 
Mr. Wallace), the memoir which he had himself written on 
the same subject, and which, as before stated, one of us had 


perused in 1844, and the contents of which we had both of 
us been privy to for many years. On representing this to 
Mr. Darwin, he gave us permission to make what use we 
thought proper of his memoir, &c. ; and in adopting our 
present course, of presenting it to the Linnean Society, we 
have explained to him that we are not solely considering the 
relative claims to priority of himself and his friend, but the 
interests of science generally.''] 


: C Darwin to C. Lyell. 

Down, i8th [June 1858]. 

My dear Lyell, — Some year or so ago you recommended 
me to read a paper by Wallace inthe ^Annals,' * which had 
interested you, and, as I was writing to him, I knew this 
would please him much, so I told him. He has to-day sent 
me the enclosed, and asked me to forward it to you. It seems 
to me well worth reading. Your words have come true with 
a vengeance — that I should be forestalled. You said this, 
when I explained to you here very briefly my views of ^ Nat- 
ural Selection ' depending on the struggle for existence. I 
never saw a more striking coincidence ; if Wallace had my 
MS. sketch written out in 1842, he could not have made a 
better short abstract ! Even his terms now stand as heads of 
my chapters. Please return me the MS., which he does not 
say he wishes me to publish, but I shall of course, at once 
I write and offer to send to any journal. So all my originality, 
whatever it may amount to, will be smashed, though my book, 
if it will ever have any value, will not be deteriorated ; as all 
the labour consists in the application of the theory. 

I hope you will approve of Wallace's sketch, that I may 
tell him what you say. 

My dear Lyell, yours most truly, 

C. Darwin. 

* Annals and Mag. of Nat. Hist., 1855. 


C. Darwin to C. Lyell. 

Down, Friday [June 25, 1858]. 

My dear Lyell, — I am very sorry to trouble you, busy 
as you are, in so merely a personal an affair ; but if you will 
give me your deliberate opinion, you will do me as great a 
service as ever man did, for I have entire confidence in your 
judgment and honour 

There is nothing in Wallace's sketch which is not written 
out much fuller in my sketch, copied out in 1844, and read 
by Hooker some dozen years ago. About a year ago I sent 
a short sketch, of which I have a copy, of my views (owing 
to correspondence on several points) to Asa Gray, so that 
I could most truly say and prove that I take nothing from 
Wallace. I should be extremely glad now to publish a sketch 
of my general views in about a dozen pages or so ; but I can- 
not persuade myself that I can do so honourably. Wallace 
says nothing about publication, and I enclose his letter. But 
as I had not intended to publish any sketch, can I do so hon- 
ourably, because Wallace has sent me an outline of his doc- 
trine .'^ I would far rather burn my whole book, than that he 
or any other man should think that I had behaved in a paltry 
spirit. Do you not think his having sent me this sketch ties 
my hands ? ... If I could honourably publish, I would state 
that I was induced now to publish a sketch (and I should be 
very glad to be permitted to say, to follow your advice long 
ago given) from Wallace having sent me an outline of my 
general conclusions. We differ only, [in] that I was led to 
my views from what artificial selection has done for domestic 
animals. I would send Wallace a copy of my letter to Asa 
Gray, to show him that I had not stolen his doctrine. But I 
cannot tell whether to publish now would not be base and 
paltry. This was my first impression, and I should have 
certainly acted on it had it not been for your letter. 

This is a trumpery affair to trouble you with, but you can- 
not tell how much obliged I should be for your advice. 

By the way, would you object to send this and your an- 

1858.] PRIORITY. 475 

swer to Hooker to be forwarded to me, for then I shall have 
the opinion of my two best and kindest friends. This letter 
is miserably written, and I write it now, that I may for a 
time banish the whole subject ; and I am worn out with 
musing . . . 

My good dear friend forgive me. This is a trumpery let- 
ter, influenced by trumpery feelings. 

Yours most truly, 

C. Darwin. 

I will never trouble you or Hooker on the subject again. 

C. Darwin to C. Lyell. 

Down, 26th [June, 1858]. 

My dear Lyell, — Forgive me for adding a P.S. to make 
the case as strong as possible against myself. 

Wallace might say, "You did not intend publishing an 
abstract of your views till you received my communication. 
Is it fair to take advantage of my having freely, though 
unasked, communicated to you my ideas, and thus prevent 
me forestalling you ? " The advantage which I should take 
being that I am induced to publish from privately knowing 
that Wallace is in the field. It seems hard on me that I 
should be thus compelled to lose my priority of rtiany years* 
standing, but I cannot feel at all sure that this alters the 
justice of the case. First impressions are generally right, and 
I at first thought it would be dishonourable in me now to 

Yours most truly, 

C. Darwin. 

P. S. — I have always thought you would make a first-rate 
Lord Chancellor ; and I now appeal to you as a Lord 



C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker, 

Down, Tuesday [June 29, 1858J. 

.... I have received your letters. I cannot think now* 
on the subject, but soon will. But I can see that you have 
acted with more kindness, and so has Lyell, even that I could 
have expected from you both, most kind as you are. 

I can easily get my letter to Asa Gray copied, but it is too 

.... God bless you. You shall hear soon, as soon as I 

can think. 

Yours affectionately, 

C. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to J, D. Hooker, 

Tuesday night [June 29, 1858]. 

My dear Hooker, — I have just read your letter, and see 
you want the papers at once. I am quite prostrated, and 
can do nothing, but I send Wallace, and the abstract f of my 
letter to Asa Gray, which gives most imperfectly only the 
means of change, and does not touch on reasons for believing 
that species do change. I dare say all is too late. I hardly 
care But you are too generous to sacrifice so much 
time and kindness. It is most generous, most kind. I send 
my sketch of 1844 solely that you may see by your own 
handwriting that you did read it. I really cannot bear to 
look at it. Do not waste much time. It is miserable in me 
to care at all about priority. 

The table of contents will show what it is. 

I would make a similar, but shorter and more accurate 
sketch for the ^ Linnean Journal/ 

* So soon after the death, from scarlet fever, of his infant child. 

f " Abstract " is here used in the sense of " extract ; " in this sense also 
it occurs in the * Linnean Journal,' where the sources of my father's paper 
are described. 

1858.] THE LETTER TO DR. GRAY. 477 

I will do anything. God bless you, my dear kind friend. 
I can write no more. I send this by my servant to Kew. 


C. Darwin. 

[The following letter is that already referred to as form- 
ing part of the joint paper published in the Linnean Society's 
'Journal/ 1858]:— 

C, Darwin to Asa Gray. 

Down, Sept.* 5th [1857]. 

My dear Gray, — I forget the exact words which I used 
in my former letter, but I dare say I said that I thought you 
would utterly despise me when I told you what views I had 
arrived at, which I did because I thought I was bound as an 
honest man to do so. I should have been a strange mortal, 
seeing how much I owe to your quite extraordinary kindness, 
if in saying this I had meant to attribute the least bad feeling 
to you. Permit me to tell you that, before I had ever corre- 
sponded with you. Hooker had shown me several of your let- 
ters (not of a private nature), and these gave me the warmest 
feeling of respect to you ; and I should indeed be ungrateful 
if your letters to me, and all I have heard of you, had not 
strongly enhanced this feeling. But I did not feel in the least 
sure that when you knew whither I was tending, that you 
might not think me so wild and foolish in my views (God 
knows, arrived at slowly enough, and I hope conscientiously), 
that you would think me worth no more notice or assistance. 
To give one example : the last time I saw my dear old friend 
Falconer, he attacked me most vigorously, but quite kindly, 
and told me, "You will do more harm than any ten Naturalists 
will do good. I can see that you have already corrupted and 

* The date is given as October in the ' Linnean Journal.' Tlie ex- 
tracts were printed from a duplicate undated copy in my father's posses- 
sion, on which he had written, ** This was sent to Asa Gray 8 or 9 months 
ago, I think October 1857. 


half-spoiled Hooker ! ! " Now when I see such strong feeling 
in my oldest friends, you need not wonder that I always ex- 
pect my views to be received with contempt. But enough 
and too much of this. 

I thank you most truly for the kind spirit of your last letter. 
I agree to every word in it, and think I go as far as almost 
any one in seeing the grave difficulties against my doctrine. 
With respect to the extent to which I go, all the arguments 
in favour of my notions fall rapidly away, the greater the scope 
of forms considered. But in animals, embryology leads me to 
an enormous and frightful range. The facts which kept me 
longest scientifically orthodox are those of adaptation — the 
pollen-masses in asclepias — the mistletoe, with its pollen 
carried by insects, and seed by birds — the woodpecker, with 
its feet and tail, beak and tongue, to climb the tree and secure 
insects. To talk of climate or Lamarckian habit producing 
such adaptations to other organic beings is futile. This diffi- 
culty I believe I have surmounted. As you seem interested 
in the subject, and as it is an tm?nense advantage to me to 
write to you and to hear, ever so briefly, what you think, I 
will enclose (copied, so as to save you trouble in reading) 
the briefest abstract of my notions on the means by which 
Nature makes her species. Why I think that species have 
really changed, depends on general facts in the affinities, 
embryology, rudimentary organs, geological history, and geo- 
graphical distribution of organic beings. In regard to my 
Abstract, you must take immensely on trust, each paragraph 
occupying one or two chapters in my book. You will, per- 
haps, think it paltry in me, when I ask you not to mention 
my doctrine ; the reason is, if any one, like the author of the 
* Vestiges,' were to hear of them, he might easily work them 
in, and then I should have to quote from a work perhaps 
despised by naturalists, and this would greatly injure any 
chance of my views being received by those alone whose 
opinions I value. [Here follows a discussion on '' large 
genera varying," which has no direct cannection with the 
remainder of the letter.] 


1858.] THE LETTER TO DR. GRAY. 47^ 

I. It is wonderful what the principle of Selection by Man, 
that is the picking out of individuals with any desired quality, 
and breeding from them, and again picking out, can do. 
Even breeders have been astonished at their own results. 
They can act on differences inappreciable to an uneducated 
eye. Selection has been methodically followed in Europe for 
only the last half century. But it has occasionally, and even 
in some degree methodically, been followed in the most 
ancient times. There must have been also a kind of uncon- 
scious selection from t":e most ancient times, namely, in the 
preservation of the individual animals (without any thought 
of their offspring) most useful to each race of man in his par- 
ticular circumstances. The " roguing," as nursery-men call 
the destroying of varieties, which depart from their type, is a 
kind of selection. I am convinced that intentional and oc- 
casional selection has been the main agent in making our 
domestic races. But, however this may be, its great power 
of modification has been indisputedly shown in late times. 
Selection acts only by the accumulation of very slight or 
greater varations, caused by external conditions, or by the 
mere fact that in generation the child is not absolutely similar 
to its parent. Man, by this power of accumulating variations, 
adapts living beings to his wants — he may be said to make 
the wool of one sheep good for carpets, and another for 
cloth, &c. 

II. Now, suppose there was a being, who did not judge by 
mere external appearance, but could study the whole internal 
organisation — who never was capricious^ — who should go on 
selecting for one end during millions of generations, who will 
say what he might not effect ! In nature we have some slight 
variations, occasionally in all parts : and I think it can be 
shown that a change in the conditions of existence is the 
main cause of the child not exactly resembling its parents ; 
and in nature, geology shows us what changes have taken 
place, and are taking place. We have almost unlimited time : 
no one but a practical geologist can fully appreciate this : 
think of the Glacial period, during the whole of which the 


same species of shells at least have existed ; there must 
have been daring this period, millions on millions of gene- 

III. I think it can be shown that there is such an unerring 
power at work, or Natural Selection (the title of my book), 
which selects exclusively for the good of each organic being. 
The elder De Candolle, W. Herbert, and Lyell, have written 
strongly on the struggle for life ; but even they have not 
written strongly enough. Reflect that every being (even the 
elephant) breeds at such a rate that, in a few years, or at most 
a few centuries or thousands of years, the surface of the earth 
would not hold the progeny of any one species. I have found ft 
it hard constantly to bear in mind that the increase of every 
single species is checked during some part of its life, or dur- | 
ing some shortly recurrent generation. Only a few of those 
annually born can live to propagate their kind. What a 
trifling difference must often determine which shall survive 
and which perish ! 

IV. Now take the case of a country undergoing some 
change ; this will tend to cause some of its inhabitants to vary 
slightly ; not but what I believe most beings vary at all times 
enough for selection to act on. Some of its inhabitants will 
be exterminated, and the remainder will be exposed to the 
mutual action of a different set of inhabitants, which I believe 
to be more important to the life of each being than mere 
climate. Considering the infinitely various ways beings have 
to obtain food by struggling with other beings, to escape 
danger at various times of life, to have their eggs or seeds 
disseminated, &c., &c., I cannot doubt that during millions 
of generations individuals of a species will be born with some 
slight variation profitable to some part of its economy ; such 
will have a better chance of surviving, propagating this varia- 
tion, which again will be slowly increased by the accumulative 
action of natural selection ; and the variety thus formed will 
either coexist with, or more commonly will exterminate its 
parent form. An organic being like the woodpecker, or the 
mistletoe, may thus come to be adapted to a score of contin- 

i858.] THE LETTER TO DR. GRAY. 481 

gencies ; natural selection, accumulating those slight variations 
in all parts of its structure which are in any way useful to it, 
during any part of its life. 

V. Multiform difficulties will occur to every one on this 
theory. Most can, I think, be satisfactorily answered. — 
** Natura non. facit saltum '* answer some of the most obvi- 
ous. The slowness of the change, and only a very few under- 
going change at any one time answers others. The extreme 
imperfections of our geological records answers others. 

VI. One other principle, which may be called the principle 
of divergence, plays, I believe, an important part in the origin 
of species. The same spot will support more life if occupied 
by very diverse forms : we see this in the many generic forms 
in a square yard of turf (I have counted twenty species 
belonging to eighteen genera), or in the plants and insects, 
on any little uniform islet, belonging to almost as many 
genera and families as to species. We can understand this 
with the higher animals, whose habits we best understand. 
We know that it has been experimentally shown that a plot 
of land will yield a greater weight, if cropped with several 
species of grasses, than with two or three species. Now every 
single organic being, by propagating rapidly, may be said to 
be striving its utmost to increase in numbers. So it will be 
with the offspring of any species after it has broken into 
varieties, or sub-species, or true species. And it follows, I 
think, from the foregoing facts, that the varying offspring of 
each species will try (only a few will succeed) to seize on as 
many and as diverse places in the economy of nature as 
possible. Each new variety or species when formed will 
generally take the place of, and so exterminate its less well- 
fitted parent. This, I believe, to be the origin of the classifi- 
cation or arrangement of all organic beings at all times. 
These always seem to branch and sub-branch like a tree from 
a common trunk ; the flourishing twigs destroying the less 
vigorous — the dead and lost branches rudely representing 
extinct genera and families. 

This sketch is most imperfect ; but in so short a space I 


cannot make it better. Your imagitiation must fill up many 
wide blanks. Without some reflection, it will appear all rub- 
bish ; perhaps it will appear so after reflection. 

C. D. 

P. S. — This little abstract touches only the accumulative 
power of natural selection, which I look at as by far the most 
important element in the production of new forms. The laws 
governing the incipient or primordial variation (unimportant 
except as the groundwork for selection to act on, in which 
respect it is all important), I shall discuss under several heads, 
but I can come, as you may well believe, only to very partial 
and imperfect conclusions. 

[The joint paper of Mr. Wallace and my father w^as read 
at the Linnean Society on the evening of July ist. Sir Charles 
Lyell and Sir J. D. Hooker were present, and both, I believe, 
made a few remarks, chiefly with a view of impressing on 
those present the necessity of giving the most careful consid- 
eration to what they had heard. There was, however, no 
semblance of a discussion. Sir Joseph Hooker writes to me : 
'^ The interest excited was intense, but the subject was too 
novel and too ominous for the old school to enter the lists, 
before armouring. After the meeting it was talked over with 
bated breath : Lyell's approval, and perhaps in a small way 
mine, as his lieutenant in the affair, rather overawed the Fel- 
lows, who would otherwise have flown out against the doctrine. 
We had, too, the vantage ground of being familiar with the 
authors and their theme."] 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker, 

Down, July 5th [1858J. 

My dear Hooker, — We are become more happy and 
less panic-struck, now that we have sent out of the house 
every child, and shall remove H., as soon as she can move. 
The first nurse became ill with ulcerated throat and quinsey^ 
and the second is now ill with the scarlet fever, but, thank 

1858.] THE PROPOSED BOOK. 483 

God, is recovering. You may imagine how frightened we 
have been. It has been a most miserable fortnight. Thank 
you much for your note, telling me that all had gone on 
prosperously at the Linnean Society. You must let me once 
again tell you how deeply I feel your generous kindness and 
LyelFs on this occasion. But in truth it shames me that you 
should have lost time on a mere point of priority. I shall be 
curious to see the proofs. I do not in the least understand 
whether my letter to A. Gray is to be printed ; I suppose not, 
only your note ; but I am quite indifferent, and place myself 
absolutely in your and LyelFs hands. 

I can easily prepare an abstract of my whole work, but I 
can hardly see how it can be made scientific for a Journal, 
without giving facts, which would be impossible. Indeed, a 
mere abstract cannot be very short. Could you give me any 
idea how many pages of the Journal could probably be spared 

Directly after my return home, I would begin and cut my 
cloth to my measure. If the Referees were to reject it as not 
strictly scientific, I could, perhaps, publish it as a pamphlet. 

With respect to my big interleaved abstract,* would you 
send it any time before you leave England, to the enclosed 
address ? If you do not go till August yth-ioth, I should 
prefer it left with you. I hope you have jotted criticisms on 
my MS. on big Genera, &c., sufficient to make you remember 
your remarks, as I should be infinitely sorry to lose them. 
And I see no chance of our meeting if you go soon abroad. 
We thank you heartily for your invitation to join you : I can 
fancy nothing which I should enjoy more ; but our children 
are too delicate for us to leave; I should be mere living 

Lastly, you said you would write to Wallace ; I certainly 
should much like this, as it would quite exonerate me : if you 
would send me your note, sealed up, I would forward it with 
my own, as I know the address, &c. 

* The Sketch of 1844. 


Will you answer me sometime about your notions of the 
length of my abstract. 

If you see Lyell, will you tell him how truly grateful I 
feel for his kind interest in this affair of mine. You must 
know that I look at it, as very important, for the reception of 
the view of species not being immutable, the fact of the great- 
est Geologist and Botanist in England taking any sort of in- 
terest in the subject : I am sure it will do much to break down 

Yours affectionately, 

C. Darwin. 

C. Darwin to J, D, Hooker, 

Miss Wedgwood's, Hartfield, Tunbridge Wells, 

[July 13th, 1858]. 

My dear Hooker, — Your letter to Wallace seems to me 
perfect, quite clear and most courteous. I do not think it 
could possibly be improved, and I have to day forwarded it 
with a letter of my own. I always thought it very possible 
that I might be forestalled, but I fancied that I had a grand 
enough soul not to care ; but I found myself mistaken and 
punished ; I had, however, quite resigned myself, and had 
written half a letter to Wallace to give up all priority to him, 
and should certainly not have changed had it not been for 
Lyell's and your quite extraordinary kindness. I assure you 
I feel it, and shall not forget it. I am more than satisfied at 
what took place at the Linnean Society. I had thought 
that your letter and mine to Asa Gray were to be only an 
appendix to Wallace's paper. 

We go from here in a few days to the sea-side, probably 
to the Isle of Wight, and on my return (after a battle with 
pigeon skeletons) I will set to work at the abstract, though 
how on earth I shall make anything of an abstract in thirty 
pages of the Journal, I know not, but will try my best. I 
shall order Bentham; is it not a pity that you should waste 
time in tabulating varieties "> for I can get the Down school- 
master to do it on my return, and can tell you all the results. 


I must try and see you before your jouxney ; but do not 
think I am fishing to ask you to come to Down, for you will 
have no time for that. 

You cannot imagine how pleased I am that die notion <rf 
Natural Selection has acted as a purgative on your bowels of 
immutability. Whenever naturalists can kx>k at qiectes 
changing as certain, what a magnificent field wili be open, — 
on all the laws of variation, — on the genealogy of all liying 
beings, — on their lines of migration, &c^ &:c. Pray thank 
Mrs. Hooker for her very kind little note, and pray, say 
truly obliged I am, and in truth ashamed to think that 
should have had the trouble of copying my ugiy MS- It 
extraordinarily kind in her. Farewell, my dear kind ftiend. 

Yours affectionately, 

C. Darwix. 

P. S. — I have had some fun here in watching a slave-mak- 
ing ant ; for I could not help rather doubting the wondeifol 
stories, but I have now seen a defeated marauding party, 
and I have seen a migration from one nest to another of the 
slave-makers, carrying their slaves (who are Aamst^ and not 
field niggers) in their mouths ! 

I am inclined to think that it is a tnie generalisation that, 
when honey is secreted at one point of the circle of the 
corolla, if the pistil bends, it always bends into the line of the 
gangway to the honey. The Larkspur is a good instance, in 
contrast to Columbine, — if you think of it, just attend to this 
little point, 

C. Darsoim to C. Lydl, 

King's Head Hotel, Sandown, Isle of \lr%fat, 

Jttty iSdi [1S5S]. 

. . . We are established here for ten days, and thaa go on 
to Shanklin, which seems more amusing to one, like myself, 
who cannot walk. We hope much that the sea may do H. 
and L. good. And if it does, our expedition will answer, but 
not otherwise. 


I have never half thanked you for all the extraordinary 
trouble and kindness you showed me about Wallace's affair. 
Hooker told me what was done at the Linnean Society, and I 
am far more than satisfied, and I do not think that Wallace 
can think my conduct unfair in allowing you and Hooker to 
do whatever you thought fair. I certainly was a little annoyed 
to lose all priority, but had resigned myself to my fate. I am 
going to prepare a longer abstract ; but it is really impossible 
to do justice to the subject, except by giving the facts on 
which each conclusion is grounded, and that will, of course, 
be absolutely impossible. Your name and Hooker's name 
appearing as in any way the least interested in my work 
will, I am certain, have the most important bearing in lead- 
ing people to consider the subject without prejudice. I look 
at this as so very important, that I am almost glad of Wal- 
lace's paper for having led to this. 

My dear Lyell, yours most gratefully, 

Ch. Darwin. 

[The following letter refers to the proof-sheets of the 
Linnean paper. The ^ introduction ' means the prefatory let- 
ter signed by Sir C. Lyell and Sir J. D. Hooker.] 

C, Darwin to J, D. Hooker. 

King's Head Hotel, Sandown, Isle of Wight, 

July 2ist [1858]. 

My dear Hooker, — I received only yesterday the proof- 
sheets, which I now return. I think your introduction can- 
not be improved. 

I am disgusted with my bad writing. I could not improve 
it, without rewriting all, which would not be fair or worth 
while, as I have begun on a better abstract for the Linnean 
Society. My excuse is that it never was intended for publica- 
tion. I have made only a few corrections in the style ; but I 
cannot make it decent, but I hope moderately intelligible. I 
suppose some one will correct the revise. (Shall I ?) 

i358.] THE 'ABSTRACT.' 487 

Could I have a clean proof to send to Wallace ? 

I have not yet fully considered your remarks on big genera 
(but your general concurrence is of the highest possible inter- 
est to me) ; nor shall I be able till I re-read my MS. ; but 
you may rely on it that you never make a remark to me which 
is lost from inattention. I am particularly glad you do not 
object to my stating your objections in a modified form, for 
they always struck me as very important, and as having much 
inherent value, whether or no they were fatal to my notions. 
I will consider and reconsider all your remarks. . . . 

I have ordered Bentham, for, as says, it will be very 

curious to see a Flora written by a man who knows nothing 
of British plants ! ! 

I am very glad at what you say about my Abstract, but 
you may rely on it that I will condense to the utmost. I 
would aid in money if it is too long.* In how many ways 
you have aided me ! 

Yours affectionately, 

C. Darwin. 

[The ^ Abstract ' mentioned in the last sentence of the pre- 
ceding letter was in fact the * Origin of Species,' on which he 
now set to work. In his * Autobiography ' (p. 70) he speaks 
of beginning to write in September, but in his Diary he wrote, 
*^ July 20 to Aug. 12, at Sandown, began Abstract of Species 
book." "Sep. 16, Recommenced Abstract." The book was 
begun with the idea that it would be published as a paper, or 
series of papers, by the Linnean Society, and it was only in 
the late autumn that it became clear that it must take the 
form of an independent volume.] 

* That is to say, he would help to pay for the printing, if it should 
prove too long for the Linnean Society. 


C. Darwin to /. D, Hooker, 

Norfolk House, Shanklin, Isle of Wight, 

Friday [July] 30th [1858]. 

My dear Hooker, — Will you give the enclosed scrap to 
Sir William to thank him for his kindness ; and this gives me 
an excuse to amuse myself by writing to you a note, which 
requires no answer. 

This is a very charming place, and we have got a very 
comfortable house. But, alas, I cannot say that the sea has 
done H. or L. much good. Nor has my stomach recovered 
from all our troubles. I am very glad we left home, for six 
children have now died of scarlet fever in Down. We return 
on the 14th of August. 

I have got Bentham,* and am charmed with it, and 
William (who has just started for a tour abroad) has been 
making out all sorts of new (to me) plants capitally. The 
little scraps of information are so capital . . . The English 
names in the analytical keys drive us mad : give them by all 
means, but why on earth [not] make them subordinate to the 
Latin ; it puts me in a passion. W. charged into the Com- 
positae and Umbelliferae like a hero, and demolished ever so 
many in grand style. 

I pass my time by doing daily a couple of hours of my 
Abstract, and I find it amusing and improving work. I am 
now most heartily obliged to you and Lyell for having set me 
on this ; for I shall, when it is done, be able to finish my work 
with greater ease and leisure. I confess I hated the thought 
of the job ; and now I find it very unsatisfactory in not being 
able to give my reasons for each conclusion. 

I will be longer than I expected ; it will take thirty-five of 
my MS. folio pages to give an abstract on variation under 
domestication alone ; but I will try to put in nothing which 
does not seem to me of some interest, and which was once 
new to me. It seems a queer plan to give an abstact of an 

* ' British Flora.' 

1858.] THE 'ABSTRACT/ 489 

unpublished work ; nevertheless, I repeat, I am extremely- 
glad I have begun in earnest on it. 

I hope you and Mrs. Hooker will have a very very pleas- 
ant tour. Farewell, my dear Hooker. 

Yours affectionately, 

C. Darwin. 

C, Darwin to J. £>. Hooker. 

Norfolk House, Shanklin, Isle of Wight, 

Thursday [Aug. 5, 1858]. 

My DEAR Hooker, — I should think the note apologetical 
about the style of the abstract was best as a note .... But 
I write now to ask you to send me by return of post the 
MS. on big genera, that I may make an abstract of a couple 
of pages in length. I presume that you have quite done with 
it, otherwise I would not for anything have it back. If you 
tie it with string, and mark it MS. for printing, it will not cost, 
I should think, more than 4^. I shall wish much to say that 
you have read this MS. and concur ; but you shall, before I 
read it to the Society, hear the sentence. 

What you tell me after speaking with Busk about the 
length of the Abstract is an immense relief to me ; it will make 
the labour far less, not having to shorten so much every single 
subject ; but I will try not to be too diffusive. I fear it will 
spoil all interest in my book,* whenever published. The 
Abstract will do very well to divide into several parts : thus 
I have just finished " Variation under Domestication," in 
forty-four MS. pages, and that would do for one evening ; but 
I should be extremely sorry if all could not be published 

What else you say about my Abstract pleases me highly, 
but frightens me, for I fear I shall never be able to make it 
good enough. But how I do run on about my own affairs to 
you ! 

* The larger book begun in 1856. 


I was astonished to see Sir W. Hooker's card here two or 
three days ago : I was unfortunately out walking. Henslow, 
also, has written to me, proposing to come to Down on the 
9th, but alas, I do not return till the 13th, and my wife not 
till a week later ; so that I am also most sorry to think I shall 
not see you, for I should not like to leave home so soon. I 
had thought of going to London and running down for an 
hour or two to Kew. . . . 

C. Darwin to J. D, Hooker. 

Norfolk House, Shanklin, Isle of Wight, 

[August] L1858]. 

My dear Hooker, — I write merely to say that the MS. 
came safely two or three days ago. I am much obliged for 
the correction of style : I find it unutterably difficult to write 
clearly. When we meet I must talk over a few points on the 

You speak of going to the sea-side somewhere ; we think 
this the nicest sea-side place which we have ever seen, 
and we like Shanklin better than other spots on the south 
coast of the island, though many are charming and prettier, 
so that I would suggest your thinking of this place. We 
are on the actual coast ; but tastes differ so much about 

If you go to Broadstairs, when there is a strong wind 
from the coast of France and in fine, dry, warm weather, 
look out, and you will probably (!) see thistle-seeds blown 
across the Channel. The other day I saw one blown right 
inland, and then in a few minutes a second one and then a 
third ; and I said to myself, God bless me, how many thistles 
there must be in France ; and I wrote a letter in imagination 
to you. But I then looked at the low clouds, and noticed 
that they were not coming inland, so I feared a screw was 
loose. I then walked beyond a headland, and found the wind 
parallel to the coast, and on this very headland a noble bed 
of thistles, which by every wide eddy were blown far out to 


sea, and then came right in at right angles to the shore ! One 
day such a number of insects were washed up by the tide, 
and I brought to life thirteen species of Coleoptera ; not that 
I suppose these came from France. But do you watch for 
thistle-seed as you saunter along the coast. . . . 

C. Darwin to Asa Gray. 

Aug. nth [1858]. 

My dear Gray, — Your note of July 27th has just reached 
me in the Isle of Wight. It is a real and great pleasure to 
me to write to you about my notions ; and even if it were 
not so, I should be a most ungrateful dog, after all the in- 
valuable assistance you have rendered me, if I did not do 
anything which you asked. 

I have discussed in my long MS. the later changes of 
climate and the effect on migration, and I will here give you 
an abstract of an abstract (which latter I am preparing of my 
whole work for the Linnean Society). I cannot give you 
facts, and I must write dogmatically, though I do not feel so 
on any point. I may just mention, in order that you may 
believe that I have ^<?;;/^ foundation for my views, that Hooker 
has read my MS., and though he at first demurred to my main 
point, he has since told me that further reflection and new 
facts have made him a convert. 

In the older, or perhaps newer, Pliocene age (a little be- 
fore the Glacial epoch) the temperature was higher ; of this 
there can be little doubt ; the land, on a large scale^ held 
much its present disposition : the species were mainly, judg- 
ing from shells, what they are now. At this period when 
all animals and plants ranged 10° or 15° nearer the poles, I 
believe the northern part of Siberia and of North America., 
being almost continuous^ were peopled (it is quite possible, 
considering the shallow water, that Behring Straits were 
united, perhaps a little southward) by a nearly uniform 
fauna and flora, just as the Arctic regions now are. The 
climate then became gradually colder till it became what it 


now is ; and then the temperate parts of Europe and America 
would be separated, as far as migration is concerned, just 
as they now are. Then came on the Glacial period, driv- 
ing far south all living things ; middle or even southern Eu- 
rope being peopled with Arctic productions ; as the warmth 
returned, the Arctic productions slowly crawled up the 
mountains as they became denuded of snow ; and we now 
see on their summits the remnants of a once continuous flora 
and fauna. This is E. Forbes' theory, which, however, I may J 
add, I had written out four years before he published. 

Some facts have made me vaguely suspect that between the 
glacial and the present temperature there was a period of 
slightly greater warmth. According to my modification-doc- 
trines, I look at many of the species of North America which 
closely represent those of Europe, as having become modified 
since the Pliocene period, when in the northern part of the 
world there was nearly free communication between the old 
and new worlds. But now comes a more important con- 
sideration ; there is a considerable body of geological evi- 
dence that during the Glacial epoch the whole world was 
colder; I inferred that, many years ago, from erratic boulder 
phenomena carefully observed by me on both the east and 
west coast of South America. Now I am so bold as to be- 
lieve that at the height of the Glacial epoch, and when all 
Tropical productions must have been considerably distressed^ 
that several temperate forms slowly travelled into the heart 
of the Tropics, and even reached the southern hemisphere; 
and some few southern forms penetrated in a reverse di- 
rection northward. (Heights of Borneo with Australian 
forms, Abyssinia with Cape forms.) Wherever there was 
nearly continuous high land, this migration would have been 
immensely facilitated ; hence the European character of the 
plants of Tierra del Fuego and summits of Cordilleras ; hence 
ditto on Himalaya. As the temperature rose, all the temper- 
ate intruders would crawl up the mountains. Hence the Eu- 
ropean forms on Nilgherries, Ceylon, summit of Java, Organ 
Mountains of Brazil. But these intruders being surrounded 


with new forms would be very liable to be improved or m^odi- 
fied by natural selection, to adapt them to the new forms 
with which they had to compete ; hence most of the forms 
on the mountains of the Tropics are not identical, but r^/- 
resentative forms of North temperate plants. 

There are similar classes of facts in marine productions. 
All this will appear very rash to you, and rash it may be ; 
but I am sure not so rash as it will at first appear to you : 
Hooker could not stomach it at all at first, but has become 
largely a convert. From mammalia and shallow sea, I believe 
Japan to have been joined to main land of China within no 
remote period ; and then the migration north and south be- 
fore, during, and after the Glacial epoch would act on Japan, 
as on the corresponding latitude of China and the United 

I should beyond anything like to know whether you have 
any Alpine collections from Japan, and what is their charac- 
ter. This letter is miserably expressed, but perhaps it will 
suffice to show what I believe have been the later main mi- 
grations and changes of temperature. . . . 

C. Darivin to J. D. Hooker. 

[Down] Oct. 6th, 1858. 

... If you have or can make leisure, I should very much 
like to hear news of Mrs. Hooker, yourself, and the children. 
Where did you go, and what did you do and are doing? 
There is a comprehensive text. 

You cannot tell how I enjoyed your little visit here. It 
did me much good. If Harvey is still with you, pray remem- 
ber me very kindly to him. 

... I am working most steadily at my Abstract, but it 
grows to an inordinate length ; yet fully to make my view 
clear (and never giving briefly more than a fact or two, and 
slurring over difficulties), I cannot make it shorter. It will 
yet take me three or four months ; so slow do I work, though 
never idle. You cannot imagine what a service you have 


done me in making me make this Abstract; for though I 
thought I had got all clear, it has clarified my brains very 
much, by making me weigh the relative importance of the 
several elements, 

I have been reading with much interest your (as I believe 
it to be) capital memoir of R. Brown in the Gardeners' 
Chronicle. . . . 

C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down, Oct. I2th, 1858, 
... I have sent eight copies * by post to Wallace, and 
w^ill keep the others for him, for I could not think of any one 
to send any to. 

I pray you not to pronounce too strongly against Natural 
Selection, till you have read my abstract, for though I dare 
say you will strike out 7nany difficulties, which have never 
occurred to me ; yet you cannot have thought so fully on the 
subject as I have. 

I expect my Abstract will run into a small volume, which 
will have to be published separately. . . . 

What a splendid lot of work you have in hand. 

Ever yours, 

C. Darwin. 

C, Darwin to J. D. Hooker. 

Down, Oct. 13th, 1858. 
... I have been a little vexed at myself at having asked 
you not *^ to pronounce too strongly against Natural Selec- 
tion.'* I am sorry to have bothered you, though I have been 
much interested by your note in answer. I wrote the sen- 
tence without reflection. But the truth is, that I have so 
accustomed myself, partly from being quizzed by my non- 
naturalist relations, to expect opposition and even contempt, 
that I forgot for the moment that you are the one living soul 

* Of the joint paper by C. Darwin and A. R. Wallace. 

1858.] SIR J. D. HOOKER. 4^5 

from whom I have constantly received sympathy. Believe 
[me] that I never forget for even a minute how much assist- 
ance I have received from you. You are quite correct that I 
never even suspected that my speculations were a "jam-pot '* 
to you ; indeed, I thought, until quite lately, that my MS. 
had produced no effect on you, and this has often staggered 
me. Nor did I know that you had spoken in general terms 
about my work to our friends, excepting to dear old Falconer, 
who some few years ago once told me that I should do more 
mischief than any ten other naturalists would do good, [and] 
that I had half spoiled you already ! All this is stupid ego- 
tistical stuff, and I write it only because you may think me 
ungrateful for not having valued and understood your sym- 
pathy ; which God knows is not the case. It is an accursed 
evil to a man to become so absorbed in any subject as I am 
in mine. 

I was in London yesterday for a few hours with Falconer, 
and he gave me a magnificent lecture on the age of man. We 
are not upstarts ; we can boast of a pedigree going far back 
in time coeval with extinct species. He has a grand fact of 
some large molar tooth in the Trias.