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The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume I

edited by his son

Francis Darwin

February 1999 [Etext #2087]

Project Gutenberg's Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume I
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In choosing letters for publication I have been largely guided by the wish
to illustrate my father's personal character. But his life was so
essentially one of work, that a history of the man could not be written
without following closely the career of the author. Thus it comes about
that the chief part of the book falls into chapters whose titles correspond
to the names of his books.

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

In printing the letters I have followed (except in a few cases) the usual
plan of indicating the existence of omissions or insertions. My father's
letters give frequent evidence of having been written when he was tired or
hurried, and they bear the marks of this circumstance. In writing to a
friend, or to one of his family, he frequently omitted the articles: these
have been inserted without the usual indications, except in a few
instances, where it is of special interest to preserve intact the hurried
character of the letter. Other small words, such as "of", "to", etc., 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
punctuation. My father underlined many words in his letters; these have
not always been given in italics,--a rendering which would unfairly
exaggerate their effect.

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

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

I have attempted to give, in Chapter III., some account 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 habits and methods.

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

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

To Mr. Huxley I owe a debt of thanks, not only for much kind help, but for
his willing compliance with my request that he should contribute a chapter
on the reception of the 'Origin of Species.'

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


October, 1887.



CHAPTER 1.I.--The Darwin Family.

CHAPTER 1.II.--Autobiography.

CHAPTER 1.III.--Reminiscences.


CHAPTER 1.IV.--Cambridge Life--1828-1831.

CHAPTER 1.V.--The Appointment to the 'Beagle'--1831.

CHAPTER 1.VI.--The Voyage--1831-1836.

CHAPTER 1.VII.--London and Cambridge--1836-1842.

CHAPTER 1.VIII.--Religion.

CHAPTER 1.IX.--Life at Down--1842-1854.

CHAPTER 1.X.--The Growth of the 'Origin of Species.'

CHAPTER 1.XI.--The Growth of the 'Origin of Species'--Letters--1843-1856.

CHAPTER 1.XII.--The Unfinished Book--May 1856-June 1858.

CHAPTER 1.XIII.--The Writing of the 'Origin of Species'--June 18, 1858-
November 1859.

CHAPTER 1.XIV.--Professor Huxley on the Reception of the 'Origin of





The earliest records of the family show the Darwins to have been
substantial yeomen residing on the northern borders of Lincolnshire, close
to Yorkshire. The name is now very unusual in England, but I believe that
it is not unknown in the neighbourhood of Sheffield and in Lancashire.
Down to the year 1600 we find the name spelt in a variety of ways--Derwent,
Darwen, Darwynne, etc. It is possible, therefore, that the family migrated
at some unknown date from Yorkshire, 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, inherited land at Marton and elsewhere, and in his will, dated
1584, "bequeathed the sum of 3s. 4d. towards the settynge up of the
Queene's Majestie's armes over the quearie (choir) doore in the parishe
churche of Marton." (We owe a knowledge of these earlier members of the
family to researches amongst the wills at Lincoln, made by the well-known
genealogist, Colonel Chester.)

The son of this Richard, named William Darwin, and described as
"gentleman," appears to have been a successful man. Whilst retaining his
ancestral land at Marton, he acquired through his wife and by purchase an
estate at Cleatham, in the parish of Manton, near Kirton Lindsey, and fixed
his residence there. This estate remained in the family down to the year
1760. A cottage with thick walls, some fish-ponds and old trees, now alone
show where the "Old Hall" once stood, and a field is still locally known as
the "Darwin Charity," from being subject to a charge in favour of the poor
of Marton. William Darwin must, at least in part, have owed his rise in
station to his appointment in 1613 by James I. to the post of Yeoman of the
Royal Armoury of Greenwich. The office appears to have been worth only 33
pounds 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 Pelham's troop of horse. On the partial
dispersion of the royal armies, and the retreat of the remainder to
Scotland, the boy's estates were sequestrated by the Parliament, but they
were redeemed on his signing the Solemn League and Covenant, and on his
paying a fine which must have struck his finances severely; for in a
petition to Charles II. he speaks of his almost utter ruin from having
adhered to the royal cause.

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

The eldest son of the Recorder, again called William, was born in 1655, and
married the heiress of Robert Waring, a member of a good Staffordshire
family. This lady inherited from the family of Lassells, or Lascelles, the
manor and hall of Elston, near Newark, which has remained ever since in the
family. (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.) 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 (What follows is quoted from Charles Darwin's biography of his
grandfather, forming the preliminary notice to Ernst Krause's interesting
essay, 'Erasmus Darwin,' London, 1879, page 4.):--

"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,' etc.,
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,' etc. 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

>From a morning that doth shine,
>From a boy that drinketh wine,
>From a wife that talketh Latine,
Good Lord deliver me!

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

TABLE OF RELATIONSHIP. (An incomplete list of family members.)

ROBERT DARWIN of Elston, 1682-1754, had three sons, William Alvey Darwin,
1726-1783, Robert Waring Darwin, 1724-1816, and Erasmus Darwin, 1731-1802.

William Alvey Darwin, 1726-1783, had a son, William Brown Darwin, 1774-
1841, and a daughter, Anne Darwin.

William Brown Darwin, 1774-1841, had two daughters, Charlotte Darwin and
Sarah Darwin.

Charlotte Darwin married Francis Rhodes, now Francis Darwin of Creskeld and

Sarah Darwin married Edward Noel.

Anne Darwin married Samuel Fox and had a son, William Darwin Fox.

ERASMUS DARWIN, 1731-1802, married (1) MARY HOWARD, 1740-1770, with whom he
had two sons, Charles Darwin, 1758-1778, and ROBERT WARING DARWIN, and (2)
Eliz. Chandos-Pole, 1747-1832, with whom he had a daughter, Violetta
Darwin, and a son, Francis Sacheverel Darwin.

ROBERT WARING DARWIN, 1767-1848, married SUSANNAH WEDGWOOD and had a son,
CHARLES ROBERT DARWIN, b. February 12, 1809, d. April 19, 1882.

Violetta Darwin married Samuel Tertius Galton and had a son, Francis

Francis Sacheverel Darwin, 1786-1859, had two sons, Reginald Darwin and
Edward Darwin, "High Elms."

The table above 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 maintained 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 Edition 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 Darwin inherited the tall
stature, but not the bulky figure of Erasmus; but in his features there is
no traceable resemblance to those of his grandfather. Nor, it appears, had
Erasmus the love of exercise and of field-sports, so characteristic of
Charles Darwin as a young man, though he had, like his grandson, an
indomitable love of hard mental work. Benevolence and sympathy with
others, and a great personal charm of manner, were common to the two.
Charles Darwin possessed, in the highest degree, that "vividness of
imagination" of which he speaks as strongly characteristic of Erasmus, and
as leading "to his overpowering tendency to theorise and generalise." This
tendency, in the case of Charles Darwin, was fully kept in check by the
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 ('Life of Erasmus
Darwin,' page 68.): "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 him.

On the whole, however, it seems to me that we do not know enough of the
essential personal tone of Erasmus Darwin's character to attempt more than
a superficial comparison; and I am left with an impression that, in spite
of many 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. (Ibid., pages 77, 79, etc.) It is, however,
extremely probable that the faults which they exaggerate 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

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

"His eldest son, Charles (born September 3, 1758), was a young man of
extraordinary promise, but died (May 15, 1778) before he was twenty-one
years old, from the effects of a wound received whilst dissecting the brain
of a child. He 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 time, the habit
of stammering might be lost; and it is a curious fact, that in after years,
when speaking French, he never stammered. At a very early age he collected
specimens of all kinds. When sixteen years old he was sent for a year to
[Christ Church] Oxford, but he did not like the place, and thought (in the
words of his father) that the 'vigour of his mind languished in the pursuit
of classical elegance like Hercules at the distaff, and sighed to be
removed to the robuster exercise of the medical school of Edinburgh.' He
stayed three years at Edinburgh, working hard at his medical studies, and
attending 'with diligence all the sick poor of the parish of Waterleith,
and supplying them with the necessary medicines.' The Aesculapian Society
awarded him its first gold medal for an experimental inquiry on pus and
mucus. Notices of him appeared in various journals; and all the writers
agree about his uncommon energy and abilities. He seems like his father to
have excited the warm affection of his friends. Professor Andrew Duncan...
spoke...about him with the warmest affection forty-seven years after his
death when I was a young medical student at Edinburgh...

"About the character of his second son, Erasmus (born 1759), I have little
to say, for though he wrote poetry, he seems to have had none of the other
tastes of his father. He had, however, his own peculiar tastes, viz.,
genealogy, the collecting of coins, and statistics. When a boy he counted
all the houses in the city of Lichfield, and found out the number of
inhabitants in as many as he could; he thus made a census, and when a real
one was first made, his estimate was found to be nearly accurate. His
disposition was quiet and retiring. My father had a very high opinion of
his abilities, and this was probably just, for he would not otherwise have
been invited to travel with, and pay long visits to, men so distinguished
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. (I owe this information to the kindness
of Professor Rauwenhoff, Director of the Archives at Leyden. He quotes
from the catalogue of doctors that "Robertus Waring Darwin, Anglo-
britannus," defended (February 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. Paradijs." 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.) at that University
on February 26, 1785. "His father" (Erasmus) "brought ('Life of Erasmus
Darwin,' page 85.) him to Shrewsbury before he was twenty-one years old
(1787), and left him 20 pounds, saying, 'Let me know when you want more,
and I will send it you.' His uncle, the rector of Elston, afterwards also
sent him 20 pounds, and this was the sole pecuniary aid which he ever
received...Erasmus tells Mr. Edgeworth that his son Robert, after being
settled in Shrewsbury for only six months, 'already had between forty and
fifty patients.' By the second year he was in considerable, and ever
afterwards in very large, practice."

Robert Waring Darwin married (April 18, 1796) Susannah, the daughter of his
father's friend, Josiah Wedgwood, of Etruria, then in her thirty-second
year. We have a miniature of her, with a remarkably sweet and happy face,
bearing some resemblance to the portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds of her
father; a countenance expressive of the gentle and sympathetic nature which
Miss Meteyard ascribes to her. ('A Group of Englishmen,' by Miss Meteyard,
1871.) She died July 15, 1817, thirty-two years before her husband, whose
death occurred on November 13, 1848. Dr. Darwin lived before his marriage
for two or three years on St. John's Hill; afterwards at the Crescent,
where his eldest daughter Marianne was born; lastly at the "Mount," in the
part of Shrewsbury known as Frankwell, where the other children were born.
This house was built by Dr. Darwin about 1800, it is now in the possession
of Mr. Spencer Phillips, and has undergone but little alteration. It is a
large, plain, square, red-brick house, of which the most attractive feature
is the pretty green-house, opening out of the morning-room.

The house is charmingly placed, on the top of a steep bank leading down to
the Severn. The terraced bank is traversed by a long walk, leading from
end to end, still called "the Doctor's Walk." At one point in this walk
grows a Spanish chestnut, the branches of which bend back parallel to
themselves in a curious manner, and this was Charles Darwin's favourite
tree as a boy, where he and his sister Catherine had each their special

The Doctor took a great pleasure in his garden, planting it with ornamental
trees and shrubs, and being especially successful in fruit-trees; and this
love of plants was, I think, the only taste kindred to natural history
which he possessed. Of the "Mount pigeons," which Miss Meteyard describes
as illustrating Dr. Darwin's natural-history taste, I have not been able to
hear from those most capable of knowing. Miss Meteyard's account of him is
not quite accurate in a few points. For instance, it is incorrect to
describe Dr. Darwin as having a philosophical mind; his was a mind
especially given to detail, and not to generalising. Again, those who knew
him intimately describe him as eating remarkably little, so that he was not
"a great feeder, eating a goose for his dinner, as easily as other men do a
partridge." ('A Group of Englishmen,' page 263.) In the matter of dress
he was conservative, and wore to the end of his life knee-breeches and drab
gaiters, which, however, certainly did not, as Miss Meteyard says, button
above the knee--a form of costume chiefly known to us in grenadiers of
Queen Anne's day, and in modern wood-cutters and ploughboys.

Charles Darwin had the strongest feeling of love and respect for his
father's memory. His recollection of 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, etc..." It was astonishing how clearly he
remembered his father's opinions, so that he was able to quote some maxims
or hint of his in most cases of illness. As a rule, he put small faith in
doctors, and thus his unlimited belief in Dr. Darwin's medical instinct and
methods of treatment was all the more striking.

His reverence for him was boundless and most touching. He would have
wished to judge everything else in the world dispassionately, but anything
his father had said was received with almost implicit faith. His daughter
Mrs. Litchfield remembers him saying that he hoped none of his sons would
ever believe anything because he said it, unless they were themselves
convinced of its truth,--a feeling in striking contrast with his own manner
of faith.

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

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

What follows was added by Charles Darwin to his autobiographical
'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 distresses of others, but in a greater
degree with the pleasures of all around him. This led him to be always
scheming to give pleasure to others, and, though hating extravagance, to
perform many generous actions. For instance, Mr. B--, a small manufacturer
in Shrewsbury, came to him one day, and said he should be bankrupt unless
he could at once borrow 10,000 pounds, but that he was unable to give any
legal security. My father heard his reasons for believing that he could
ultimately repay the money, and from [his] intuitive perception of
character felt sure that he was to be trusted. So he advanced this sum,
which was a very large one for him while young, and was after a time

"I suppose that it was his sympathy which gave him unbounded 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 him any choice, nothing should have
induced him to follow it. To the end of his life, the thought of an
operation almost sickened him, and he could scarcely endure to see a person
bled--a horror which he has transmitted 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 instances husbands and
wives had gone on pretty well together for between twenty and thirty years,
and then hated each other bitterly; this he attributed to their having lost
a common bond in their young children having grown up.

"But the most remarkable power which my father possessed was that of
reading the characters, and even the thoughts of those whom he saw even for
a short time. We had many instances of the power, some of which seemed
almost 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 Shrewsbury until he could receive a remittance from Ireland. He
then asked my father to lend him 20 pounds, which was immediately done, as
my father felt certain that the story was a true one. As soon as a letter
could arrive from Ireland, one came with the most profuse thanks, and
enclosing, as he said, a 20 pound Bank of England note, but no note was
enclosed. I asked my father whether this did not stagger him, but he
answered 'not in the least.' On the next day another letter came with many
apologies for having forgotten (like a true Irishman) to put the note into
his letter of the day before...(A gentleman) brought his nephew, who was
insane but quite gentle, to my father; and the young man's insanity led him
to accuse himself of all the crimes under heaven. When my father
afterwards talked over the matter with the uncle, he said, 'I am sure that
your nephew is really guilty of...a heinous crime.' Whereupon [the
gentleman] said, 'Good God, Dr. Darwin, who told you; we thought that no
human being knew the fact except ourselves!' My father told me the story
many years after the event, and I asked him how he distinguished the true
from the false self-accusations; and it was very characteristic of my
father that he said he could not explain how it was.

"The following story shows what good guesses my father could make. Lord
Shelburne, afterwards the first Marquis of Lansdowne, was famous (as
Macaulay somewhere remarks) for his knowledge of the affairs of Europe, on
which he greatly prided himself. He consulted my father medically, and
afterwards harangued him on the state of Holland. My father had studied
medicine at Leyden, and one day [while there] went a long walk into the
country with a friend who took him to the house of a clergyman (we will say
the Rev. Mr. A--, for I have forgotten his name), who had married an
Englishwoman. My father was very hungry, and there was little for luncheon
except cheese, which he could never eat. The old lady was surprised and
grieved at this, and assured my father that it was an excellent cheese, and
had been sent her from Bowood, the seat of Lord Shelburne. My father
wondered why a cheese should be sent her from Bowood, but thought nothing
more about it until it flashed across his mind many years afterwards,
whilst Lord Shelburne was talking about Holland. So he answered, 'I should
think from what I saw of the Rev. Mr. A--, that he was a very able man, and
well acquainted with the state of Holland.' My father saw that the Earl,
who immediately changed the conversation was much startled. On the next
morning my father received a note from the Earl, saying that he had delayed
starting on his journey, and wished particularly to see my father. When he
called, the Earl said, 'Dr. Darwin, it is of the utmost importance to me
and to the Rev. Mr. A-- to learn how you have discovered that he is the
source of my information about Holland.' So my father had to explain the
state of the case, and he supposed that Lord Shelburne was much struck with
his diplomatic skill in guessing, for during many years afterwards he
received many kind messages from him through various friends. I think that
he must have told the story to his children; for Sir C. Lyell asked me many
years ago why the Marquis of Lansdowne (the son or grand-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 Lansdowne 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 predicting the end of an illness was unparalleled. Formerly when
he thought that I should be a doctor, he talked much to me about his
patients. In the old days the practice of bleeding largely was universal,
but my father maintained that far more evil was thus caused than good done;
and he advised me if ever I was myself ill not to allow any doctor to take
more than an extremely small quantity of blood. Long before typhoid fever
was recognised as distinct, my father told me that two utterly distinct
kinds of illness were confounded under the name of typhus fever. He was
vehement against drinking, and was convinced of both the direct and
inherited evil effects of alcohol when habitually taken even in moderate
quantity in a very large majority of cases. But he admitted and advanced
instances of certain persons who could drink largely during their whole
lives without apparently suffering any evil effects, and he believed that
he could often beforehand tell who would thus not suffer. He himself never
drank a drop of any alcoholic fluid. This remark reminds me of a case
showing how a witness under the most favourable circumstances may be
utterly mistaken. A gentleman-farmer was strongly urged by my father not
to drink, and was encouraged 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.' (This belief still survives, and was mentioned to my
brother in 1884 by an old inhabitant of Shrewsbury.--F.D.) So my father
asked him how he knew this. The man answered, 'My cook was your kitchen-
maid for two or three years, and she saw the butler every day prepare and
take to you the gin and water.' The explanation was that my father had the
odd habit of drinking hot water in a very tall and large glass after his
dinner; and the butler used first to put some cold water in the glass,
which the girl mistook for gin, and then filled it up with boiling water
from the kitchen boiler.

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

"He gave one day an odd little specimen of human nature. When a very young
man he was called in to consult with the family physician in the case of a
gentleman of much distinction in Shropshire. The old doctor told the wife
that the illness was of such a nature that it must end fatally. My father
took a different view and maintained that the gentleman would recover: he
was proved quite wrong in all respects (I think by autopsy) and he owned
his error. He was then convinced that he should never again be consulted
by this family; but after a few months the widow sent for him, having
dismissed the old family doctor. My father was so much surprised at this,
that he asked a friend of the widow to find out why he was again consulted.
The widow answered her friend, that 'she would never again see the odious
old doctor who said from the first that her husband would die, while Dr.
Darwin always maintained that he would recover!' In another case my father
told a lady that her husband would certainly die. Some months afterwards
he saw the widow, who was a very sensible woman, and she said, 'You are a
very young man, and allow me to advise you always to give, as long as you
possibly can, hope to any near relative nursing a patient. You made me
despair, and from that moment I lost strength.' My father said that he had
often since seen the paramount importance, for the sake of the patient, of
keeping up the hope and with it the strength of the nurse in charge. This
he sometimes found difficult to do compatibly with truth. One old
gentleman, however, caused him no such perplexity. He was sent for by
Mr.P--, who said, 'From all that I have seen and heard of you I believe
that you are the sort of man who will speak the truth, and if I ask, you
will tell me when I am dying. Now I much desire that you should attend me,
if you will promise, whatever I may say, always to declare that I am not
going to die.' My father acquiesced on the understanding that his words
should in fact have no meaning.

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

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

"He was a cautious and good man of business, 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 mention, by the way, to show how
matters were managed in those old days, that because Mr. E -- was a rather
great man, and universally respected, no inquest was held over his body.
My father, in returning home, thought it proper to call at the bank (where
he had an account) to tell the managing partners of the event, as it was
not improbable that it would cause a run on the bank. Well, the story was
spread far and wide, that my father went into the bank, drew out all his
money, left the bank, came back again, and said, 'I may just tell you that
Mr. E -- has killed himself,' and then departed. It seems that it was then
a common belief that money withdrawn from a bank was not safe until the
person had passed out through the door of the bank. My father did not hear
this story till some little time afterwards, when the managing partner said
that he had departed from his invariable rule of never allowing any one to
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 dishonourable in my father to have
used his professional knowledge for his private advantage. Nevertheless,
the supposed act was greatly admired by some persons; and many years
afterwards, a gentleman remarked, 'Ah, Doctor, what a splendid man of
business you were in so cleverly getting all your money safe out of that

"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 (Of these Mrs. Wedgwood is now the sole
survivor.): Marianne, married Dr. Henry Parker; Caroline, married Josiah
Wedgwood; Erasmus Alvey; Susan, died unmarried; Charles Robert; Catherine,
married Rev. Charles Langton.

The elder son, Erasmus, was born in 1804, and died unmarried at the age of

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

"My brother Erasmus possessed a remarkably clear mind with extensive and
diversified tastes and knowledge in literature, art, and even in science.
For a short time he collected and dried plants, and during a somewhat
longer time experimented in chemistry. He was extremely agreeable, and his
wit often reminded me of that in the letters and works of Charles Lamb. He
was very kind-hearted...His health from his boyhood had been weak, and as a
consequence he failed in energy. His spirits were not high, sometimes low,
more especially during early and middle manhood. He read much, even whilst
a boy, and at school encouraged me to read, lending me books. Our minds
and tastes were, however, so different, that I do not think I owe much to
him intellectually. I am inclined to agree with Francis Galton in
believing that education and environment produce only a small effect on the
mind of any one, and that most of our qualities are 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, etc.') 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, etc., etc. 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 idleness...My dear one had a great favour for this honest
Darwin always; many a road, to shops and the like, he drove her in his cab
(Darwingium Cabbum comparable to Georgium Sidus) in those early days when
even the charge of omnibuses was a consideration, and his sparse
utterances, sardonic often, were a great amusement to her. 'A perfect
gentleman,' she at once discerned him to be, and of sound worth and
kindliness in the most unaffected form." (Carlyle's 'Reminiscences,' vol.
ii. page 208.)

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" (September 3, 1881) by his cousin Miss Julia Wedgwood.

"A portrait from Mr. Carlyle's portfolio not regretted by any who loved the
original, surely confers sufficient distinction 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, therefore, 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 combination of liveliness and repose which gave his
friend's society an influence at once stimulating and soothing, and the
warmth of his appreciation was not made known first in its posthumous
expression; his letters of anxiety nearly thirty years ago, when the frail
life which has been prolonged to old age was threatened by serious illness,
are still fresh in my memory. The friendship was equally warm with both
husband and wife. I remember well a pathetic little remonstrance from her
elicited by an avowal from Erasmus Darwin, that he preferred cats to dogs,
which she felt a slur on her little 'Nero;' and the tones in which she
said, 'Oh, but you are fond of dogs! you are too kind not to be,' spoke of
a long vista of small, gracious kindnesses, remembered with a tender
gratitude. He was intimate also with a person whose friends, like those of
Mr. Carlyle, have not always had cause to congratulate 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 appreciation,
would have afforded a rare and curious meeting-point with the other
'Reminiscences,' so like and yet so unlike. It is not possible to transfer
the impression of a character; we can only suggest it by means of some
resemblance; and it is a singular illustration of that irony which checks
or directs our sympathies, that in trying to give some notion of the man
whom, among those who were not his kindred, Carlyle appears to have most
loved, I can say nothing more descriptive than that he seems to me to have
had something in common with the man whom Carlyle least appreciated. The
society of Erasmus Darwin had, to my mind, much the same charm as the
writings of Charles Lamb. There was the same kind of playfulness, the same
lightness of touch, the same tenderness, perhaps the same limitations. On
another side of his nature, I have often been reminded of him by the
quaint, delicate humour, the superficial intolerance, the deep springs of
pity, the peculiar mixture of something pathetic with a sort of gay scorn,
entirely remote from contempt, which distinguish the Ellesmere of Sir
Arthur Helps' earlier dialogues. Perhaps we recall such natures most
distinctly, when such a resemblance is all that is left of them. The
character is not merged in the creation; and what we lose in the power to
communicate our impression, we seem to gain in its vividness. Erasmus
Darwin has passed away in old age, yet his memory retains something of a
youthful fragrance; his influence gave much happiness, of a kind usually
associated with youth, to many lives besides the illustrious one whose
records justify, though certainly they do not inspire, the wish to place
this fading chaplet on his 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 Character,' and end with the following note:--
"Aug.3, 1876. This sketch of my life was begun about May 28th at Hopedene
(Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood's house in Surrey.), 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 following account of myself, as if I were a dead man
in another world looking back at my own life. Nor have I found this
difficult, for life is nearly over with me. I have taken no pains about my
style of 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 Shrewsbury,
where I stayed a year. I have been told that I was much slower in learning
than my younger sister Catherine, and I believe that I was in many ways a
naughty boy.

By the time I went to this day-school (Kept by Rev. G. Case, minister of
the Unitarian Chapel in the High 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
("St. 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.') my taste for natural history, and more especially for collecting,
was well developed. I tried to make out the names of plants (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 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 enquired of him repeatedly how this could be
done?"--but his lesson was naturally enough not transmissible.--F.D.), and
collected all sorts of things, shells, seals, franks, coins, and minerals.
The passion for collecting which leads a man to be a systematic naturalist,
a virtuoso, or a miser, was very strong in me, and was clearly innate, as
none of my sisters or brother ever had this taste.

One little event during this year has fixed itself very firmly in my mind,
and I hope that it has done so from my conscience having been afterwards
sorely troubled by it; it is curious as showing that 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 variously coloured
polyanthuses and primroses by watering them with certain coloured fluids,
which was of course a monstrous fable, and had never been tried by me. I
may here also confess that as a little boy I was much given to inventing
deliberate falsehoods, and this was always done for the sake of causing
excitement. For instance, I once gathered much valuable fruit from my
father's trees and hid it in the shrubbery, and then ran in breathless
haste to spread the news that I had discovered a hoard of stolen fruit.

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

I can say in my own favour that I was as a boy humane, but I owed this
entirely to the instruction and example of my sisters. I doubt indeed
whether humanity is a natural or innate quality. I was very fond of
collecting eggs, but I never took more than a single egg out of a bird's
nest, except on one single occasion, when I took all, not for their value,
but from a sort of bravado.

I had a strong taste for angling, and would sit for any number of hours on
the bank of a river or pond watching the float; when at Maer (The house of
his uncle, Josiah Wedgwood.) I was told that I could kill the worms with
salt and water, and from that day I never spitted a living worm, though at
the expense probably of some loss of success.

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

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

In the summer of 1818 I went to Dr. Butler's great school in Shrewsbury,
and remained there for seven years still Midsummer 1825, when I was sixteen
years old. I boarded at this school, so that I had the great advantage of
living the life of a true schoolboy; but as the distance was hardly more
than a mile to my home, I very often ran there in the longer intervals
between the callings over and before locking up at night. This, I think,
was in many ways 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
believe, proved about each thought requiring quite an appreciable amount of

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
admired 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 masters and by my father as a very
ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect. To my deep
mortification my father once said to me, "You care for nothing but
shooting, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to 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 remember the intense
satisfaction which the clear geometrical proofs gave me. I remember, with
equal distinctness, the delight which my uncle gave me (the father of
Francis Galton) by explaining the principle of the vernier of a barometer.
with respect to diversified tastes, independently of science, I was fond of
reading various books, and I used to sit for hours reading the historical
plays of Shakespeare, generally in an old window in the thick walls of the
school. I read also other poetry, such as Thomson's 'Seasons,' and the
recently published poems of Byron and Scott. I mention this because later
in life I wholly lost, to my great regret, all pleasure from poetry of any
kind, including Shakespeare. In connection with pleasure from poetry, I
may add that in 1822 a vivid delight in scenery was first awakened in my
mind, during a riding tour on the borders of Wales, and this has lasted
longer than any other aesthetic pleasure.

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

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

With respect to science, I continued collecting minerals with much zeal,
but quite unscientifically--all that I cared about was a new-NAMED mineral,
and I hardly attempted to classify them. I must have observed insects with
some little care, for when ten years old (1819) I went for three weeks to
Plas Edwards on the sea-coast in Wales, I was very much interested and
surprised at seeing a large black and scarlet Hemipterous insect, many
moths (Zygaena), and a Cicindela which are not found in Shropshire. I
almost made up my mind to begin collecting all the insects which I could
find dead, for on consulting my sister I concluded that it was not right to
kill insects for the sake of making a collection. From reading White's
'Selborne,' I took much pleasure in watching the habits of birds, and even
made notes on the subject. In my simplicity I remember wondering why every
gentleman did not become an ornithologist.

Towards the close of my school life, my brother worked hard at chemistry,
and made a fair laboratory with proper apparatus in the tool-house in the
garden, and I was allowed to aid him as a servant in most of 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 reproach.

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
intended to practise, and I was sent there to commence them. But soon
after this period I became convinced from various small circumstances that
my father would leave me property enough to subsist on with some comfort,
though I never imagined that I should be so rich a man as I am; but my
belief was sufficient to check any strenuous efforts to learn medicine.

The instruction at Edinburgh was altogether by lectures, and these were
intolerably dull, with the exception of those on chemistry by Hope; but to
my mind there are no advantages and many disadvantages in lectures compared
with reading. Dr. Duncan's lectures on Materia Medica at 8 o'clock on a
winter's morning are something fearful to remember. Dr.-- made his
lectures on human anatomy as dull as he was himself, and the subject
disgusted me. It has proved one of the greatest evils in my life that I
was not urged to practise dissection, for I should soon have got over my
disgust; and the practice would have been invaluable for all my future
work. This has been an irremediable evil, as well as my 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 attending some of the poor people,
chiefly children and women in Shrewsbury: I wrote down as full an account
as I could of the case with all the symptoms, and read them aloud to my
father, who suggested further inquiries and advised me what medicines to
give, which I made up myself. At one time I had at least a dozen patients,
and I felt a keen interest in the work. My father, who was by far the best
judge of character whom I ever knew, declared that I should make a
successful physician,--meaning by this one who would get many patients. He
maintained that the chief element of success was exciting confidence; but
what he saw in me which convinced him that I should create confidence I
know not. I also attended on two occasions the operating theatre in the
hospital at Edinburgh, and saw two very bad operations, one on a child, but
I rushed away before they were 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
Assyria; 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 walking 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 interval of ten or fifteen years, I
was much disappointed; the proportion of speculation being so large to the
facts given.

Drs. Grant and Coldstream attended much to marine Zoology, and I often
accompanied the former to collect animals in the tidal pools, which I
dissected as well as I could. I also became friends with some of the
Newhaven fishermen, and sometimes 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 movement by means of cilia, and were
in fact larvae. In another short paper I showed that the little globular
bodies which had been supposed to be the young state of Fucus 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 surprised that no one
could think of a word to say to cover his confusion. The papers which were
read to our little society were not printed, so that I had not the
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 Society, where
various papers on natural history were read, discussed, 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 livelihood by stuffing birds,
which he did excellently: he gave me lessons for payment, and I used often
to sit with him, for he was a very pleasant and intelligent man.

Mr. Leonard Horner also took me once to a meeting of the Royal Society of
Edinburgh, where I saw Sir Walter Scott in the chair as President, and he
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

During my second year at Edinburgh I attended --'s lectures on Geology and
Zoology, but they were incredibly dull. The sole effect they produced on
me was the determination never as long as I lived to read a book on
Geology, or in any way to study the science. Yet I feel sure that I was
prepared for a philosophical treatment of the subject; for an old Mr.
Cotton in Shropshire, who knew a good deal about rocks, had pointed out to
me two or three years previously a well-known large erratic boulder in the
town of Shrewsbury, called the "bell-stone"; he told me that there was no
rock of the same kind nearer than Cumberland or Scotland, and he solemnly
assured me that the world would come to an end before any one would be able
to explain how this stone came where it now lay. This produced a deep
impression on me, and I meditated over this wonderful stone. So that I
felt the keenest delight when I first read of the action of icebergs in
transporting boulders, and I gloried in the progress of Geology. Equally
striking is the fact that I, though now only sixty-seven years old, heard
the Professor, in a field lecture at Salisbury Craigs, discoursing on a
trapdyke, 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

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

My summer vacations during these two years were wholly given up to
amusements, though I always had some book in hand, which I read with
interest. During the summer of 1826 I took a long walking tour with two
friends with knapsacks on our backs through North wales. We walked thirty
miles most days, including one day the ascent of Snowdon. I also went with
my sister a riding tour in North Wales, a servant with saddle-bags carrying
our clothes. The autumns were devoted to shooting chiefly at Mr. Owen's,
at Woodhouse, and at my Uncle Jos's (Josiah Wedgwood, the son of the
founder of the Etruria Works.) 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 firs.

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

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

One of my autumnal visits to Maer in 1827 was memorable from meeting there
Sir J. Mackintosh, who was the best converser I ever listened to. I heard
afterwards with a glow of pride that he had said, "There is something in
that young man that interests me." This must have been chiefly due to his
perceiving that I listened with much interest to everything which he said,
for I was as ignorant as a pig about his subjects of history, politics, and
moral philosophy. To hear of praise from an eminent person, though no
doubt apt or certain to excite vanity, is, I think, good for a young man,
as it helps to keep him in the right course.

My visits to Maer during these two or three 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 considered
the right course. I used to apply to him in my mind the well-known ode of
Horace, now forgotten by me, in which the words "nec vultus tyranni, etc.,"
come in.
(Justum et tenacem propositi virum
Non civium ardor prava jubentium
Non vultus instantis tyranni
Mente quatit solida.)

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 Creed,' and a few other books on divinity;
and as I did not then in the least doubt the strict and literal truth of
every word in the Bible, I soon persuaded myself that our Creed must be
fully accepted.

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 formerly given up, but died a natural death when,
on leaving Cambridge, I joined the "Beagle" as naturalist. If the
phrenologists are to be trusted, I was well fitted in one respect to be a
clergyman. A few years ago the secretaries of a German psychological
society asked me earnestly by letter for a photograph of myself; and some
time afterwards I received the proceedings of one of the meetings, in which
it seemed that the shape of my head had been the subject of a public
discussion, and one of the speakers declared that I had the bump of
reverence developed enough for ten priests.

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

During the three years which I spent at Cambridge my time was wasted, as
far as the academical studies were concerned, as completely as at Edinburgh
and at school. I attempted mathematics, and even went during the summer of
1828 with a private tutor (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 his 'Moral Philosophy.' This was done in
a thorough manner, and I am convinced that I could have written out the
whole 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
answering well the examination questions in Paley, by doing Euclid well,
and by not failing miserably in Classics, I gained a good place among the
oi polloi 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 twelfth, name on the list. (Tenth in the list of January

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

Although, as we shall presently see, there were some redeeming features in
my life at Cambridge, my time was sadly wasted there, and worse than
wasted. From my passion for shooting and for hunting, and, when this
failed, for riding across country, I got into a sporting set, including
some dissipated low-minded young men. We used often to dine together in
the evening, though these dinners often included men of a higher stamp, and
we sometimes drank too much, with jolly singing and playing at cards
afterwards. I know that I ought to feel ashamed of days and 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

But I am glad to think that I had many other friends of a widely different
nature. I was very intimate with Whitley (Rev. C. Whitley, Hon. Canon of
Durham, formerly Reader in Natural Philosophy in Durham University.), who
was afterwards Senior Wrangler, and we used continually to take long walks
together. He inoculated me with a taste for pictures and good engravings,
of which I bought some. I 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 (The late John Maurice Herbert, County Court Judge of
Cardiff and the Monmouth Circuit.), who took a high wrangler's degree.
>From associating with these men, and hearing them play, I acquired a strong
taste for music, and used very often to time my walks so as to hear on week
days the anthem in King's College Chapel. This gave me intense pleasure,
so that my backbone would sometimes shiver. I am sure that there was no
affectation or mere imitation in this taste, for I used generally to go by
myself to King's College, and I sometimes hired the chorister boys to sing
in my rooms. Nevertheless I am so utterly destitute of an ear, that I
cannot perceive a discord, or keep time and hum a tune correctly; and it is
a mystery how I could possibly have derived pleasure from music.

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

But no pursuit at Cambridge was followed with nearly so much eagerness or
gave me so much pleasure as collecting beetles. It was the mere passion
for collecting, for I did not dissect them, and rarely 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' 'Illustrations of British
Insects,' the magic words, "captured by C. Darwin, Esq." I was introduced
to entomology by my second cousin W. Darwin Fox, a clever and most pleasant
man, who was then at Christ's College, and with whom I became extremely
intimate. 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 agriculturist, chairman of a great railway, and Member of
Parliament. It seems therefore that a taste for collecting beetles is some
indication of future success in life!

I am surprised what an indelible impression many of the beetles which I
caught at Cambridge have left on my mind. I can remember the exact
appearance of certain posts, old trees and banks where I made a good
capture. The pretty Panagaeus 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 only a variety or closely
allied species, differing from it very slightly in outline. I had never
seen in those old days Licinus alive, which to an uneducated eye hardly
differs from many of the black Carabidous beetles; but my sons found here a
specimen, and I instantly recognised 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 influenced my whole career
more than any other. This was my friendship with Professor Henslow.
Before coming up to Cambridge, I had heard of him from my brother as a man
who knew every branch of science, and I was accordingly prepared to
reverence him. He kept open house once every week when all undergraduates,
and some older members of the University, who were attached to science,
used to meet in the evening. I soon got, through Fox, an invitation, and
went there regularly. Before long I became well acquainted with Henslow,
and during the latter half of my time at Cambridge took long walks with him
on most days; so that I was called by some of the dons "the man who walks
with Henslow;" and in the evening I was very often asked to join his family
dinner. His knowledge was great in botany, entomology, 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 arrested, and whilst being taken to prison had been torn
from the constable by a crowd of the roughest men, who dragged them by
their legs along the muddy and stony road. They were covered from head to
foot with mud, and their faces were bleeding either from having been kicked
or from the stones; they looked like corpses, but the crowd was so dense
that I got only a few momentary glimpses of the wretched creatures. Never
in my life have I seen such wrath painted on a man's face as was shown by
Henslow at this horrid scene. He tried repeatedly to penetrate the mob;
but it was simply impossible. He then rushed away to the mayor, telling me
not to follow him, but to get more policemen. I forget the issue, except
that the two men were got into the prison without being killed.

Henslow's benevolence was unbounded, as he proved by his many excellent
schemes for his poor parishioners, when in after years he held the living
of Hitcham. My intimacy with such a man ought to have been, and I hope
was, an inestimable benefit. I cannot resist mentioning a trifling
incident, which showed his kind consideration. Whilst examining some
pollen-grains on a damp surface, I saw the tubes exserted, and instantly
rushed off to communicate my surprising discovery to him. Now I do not
suppose any other professor of botany could have helped laughing at my
coming in such a hurry to make such a communication. But he agreed how
interesting the phenomenon was, and explained its meaning, but made me
clearly understand how well it was known; so I left him not in the least
mortified, but well pleased at having discovered for myself so remarkable a
fact, but determined not to be in such a hurry again to communicate my

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 (The well-known Soame Jenyns was
cousin to Mr. Jenyns' father.), who afterwards published some good essays
in Natural History (Mr. Jenyns (now Blomefield) described the fish for the
Zoology of the "Beagle"; and is author of a long series of papers, chiefly
Zoological.), 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 something in me a little
superior to the common run of youths, otherwise the above-mentioned men, so
much older than me and higher in academical position, would never have
allowed me to associate with them. Certainly I was not aware of any such
superiority, and I remember one of my sporting friends, Turner, who saw me
at work with my beetles, saying that I should some day be a Fellow of the
Royal Society, and the notion seemed to me 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 Humboldt long passages
about Teneriffe, and read them aloud on one of the above-mentioned
excursions, to (I think) Henslow, Ramsay, and Dawes, for on a previous
occasion I had talked about the glories of Teneriffe, and some of the party
declared they would endeavour to go there; but I think that they were only
half in earnest. I was, however, quite in earnest, and got an introduction
to a merchant in London to enquire about ships; but the scheme was, of
course, knocked on the head by the voyage of the "Beagle".

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

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

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

Next morning we started for Llangollen, Conway, Bangor, and Capel Curig.
This tour was of decided use in teaching me a little how to make out the
geology of a country. Sedgwick often sent me on a line parallel to his,
telling me to bring back specimens of the rocks and to mark the
stratification on a map. I have little doubt that he did this for my good,
as I was too ignorant to have aided him. On this tour I had a striking
instance of how easy it is to overlook phenomena, however conspicuous,
before they have been observed by any one. We spent many hours in Cwm
Idwal, examining all the rocks with extreme care, as Sedgwick was anxious
to find fossils in them; but neither of us saw a trace of the wonderful
glacial phenomena all around us; we did not notice the plainly scored
rocks, the perched boulders, the lateral and terminal moraines. Yet these
phenomena are so conspicuous that, as I declared in a paper published many
years afterwards in the 'Philosophical Magazine' ('Philosophical Magazine,'
1842.), a house burnt down by fire did not tell its story more plainly than
did this valley. If it had still been filled by a glacier, the phenomena
would have been less distinct than they now are.

At Capel Curig I left Sedgwick and went in a straight line by compass and
map across the 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 returned to Shrewsbury
and to Maer for shooting; for at that time I should have thought myself mad
to give up the first days of partridge-shooting for geology or any other


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, "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 1st, and, whilst out
shooting, my uncle (Josiah Wedgwood.) 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! He was an ardent disciple 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 afterwards well satisfied that my nose had spoken falsely.

Fitz-Roy's character was a singular one, with very many noble features: he
was devoted to his duty, generous to a fault, bold, determined, and
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 gentleman,
with highly courteous manners, which resembled those of his maternal uncle,
the famous Lord Castlereagh, as I was told by the Minister at Rio.
Nevertheless he must have inherited much in his appearance from Charles
II., for Dr. Wallich gave me a collection of photographs which he had made,
and I was struck with the resemblance of one to Fitz-Roy; and on looking at
the name, I found it Ch. E. Sobieski Stuart, Count d'Albanie, a descendant
of the same monarch.

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 magnanimity by sending an
officer to me with an apology and a request that I would continue to live
with him.

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

The voyage of the "Beagle" has been by far the most important event in my
life, and has determined my whole career; yet it depended on so small a
circumstance as my uncle offering to drive me thirty miles to Shrewsbury,
which few uncles would have done, and on such a trifle as the shape of my
nose. I have always felt that I owe to the voyage the first real training
or education of my mind; I was led to attend closely to several branches of
natural history, and thus my powers of observation were improved, though
they were always fairly 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 stratification and nature of the rocks and fossils at many
points, always reasoning and predicting what will be found elsewhere, light
soon begins to dawn on the district, and the structure of the whole becomes
more or less intelligible. I had brought with me the first volume of
Lyell's 'Principles of Geology,' which I studied attentively; and the book
was of the highest service to me in many ways. The very first place which
I examined, namely St. Jago in the Cape de Verde islands, showed me clearly
the wonderful superiority of Lyell's manner of treating geology, compared
with that of any other author, whose works I had with me or ever afterwards

Another of my occupations was collecting animals of all classes, briefly
describing and roughly dissecting many of the marine ones; but from not
being able to draw, and from not having sufficient anatomical 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 Cirripedia.

During some part of the day I wrote my Journal, and took much pains in
describing carefully and vividly all that I had seen; and this was good
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 training which has enabled me to do
whatever I have done in science.

Looking backwards, I can now perceive how my love for science gradually
preponderated over every other taste. During the first two years my old
passion for shooting survived in nearly full force, and I shot myself all
the birds and animals for my 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 unconsciously and insensibly,
that the pleasure of observing and reasoning was a much higher one than
that of skill and sport. That my mind became developed through my pursuits
during the voyage is rendered probable by a remark made by my father, who
was the most acute observer whom I ever saw, of a sceptical disposition,
and far from being a believer in phrenology; for on first seeing me after
the voyage, he turned round to my sisters, and exclaimed, "Why, the shape
of his head is quite altered."

To return to the voyage. On September 11th (1831), I paid a flying visit
with Fitz-Roy to the "Beagle" at Plymouth. Thence to Shrewsbury to wish my
father and sisters a long farewell. On October 24th I took up my residence
at Plymouth, and remained there until December 27th, when the "Beagle"
finally left the shores of England for her circumnavigation 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 inexpressibly gloomy. I was also troubled with
palpitation and pain about the heart, and like many a young ignorant man,
especially one with a smattering of medical knowledge, was convinced that I
had heart disease. I did not consult any doctor, as I fully expected to
hear the verdict that I was not fit for the voyage, and I was resolved to
go at all hazards.

I need not here refer to the events of the voyage--where we went and what
we did--as I have given a sufficiently full account in my published
Journal. The glories of the vegetation of the Tropics rise before my mind
at the present time more vividly than anything else; though the sense of
sublimity, which the great deserts of Patagonia and the forest-clad
mountains of Tierra del Fuego excited in me, has left an indelible
impression on my mind. The sight of a naked savage in his native land is
an event which can never be forgotten. 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 archipelago, and of all of
them to the inhabitants of South America.

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

The geology of St. Jago is very striking, yet simple: a stream of lava
formerly flowed over the bed of the sea, formed of triturated recent shells
and corals, which it has baked into a hard white rock. Since then the
whole island has been upheaved. But the line of white rock revealed to me
a new and important fact, namely, that there had been afterwards subsidence
round the craters, which had since been in action, and had poured forth
lava. It then first dawned on me that I might perhaps write a book on the
geology of the various countries visited, and this made me thrill with
delight. That was a memorable hour to me, and how distinctly I can call to
mind the low cliff of lava beneath which I rested, with the sun glaring
hot, a few strange desert plants growing near, and with living corals in
the tidal pools at my feet. Later in the voyage, Fitz-Roy asked me to read
some of my Journal, and declared it would be worth publishing; so here was
a second book in prospect!

Towards the close of our voyage I received a letter whilst at Ascension, in
which my sisters told me that Sedgwick had called on my father, and said
that I should take a place among the leading scientific men. I could not
at the time understand how he could have learnt anything of my proceedings,
but I heard (I believe afterwards) that Henslow had read some of the
letters which I wrote to him before the Philosophical Society of Cambridge
(Read at the meeting held November 16, 1835, and printed in a pamphlet of
31 pages for distribution among the members of the Society.), and had
printed them for private distribution. My collection of fossil bones,
which had been sent to Henslow, also excited considerable attention amongst
palaeontologists. After reading this letter, I clambered over the
mountains of Ascension with a bounding step, and made the volcanic rocks
resound under my geological hammer. All this shows how ambitious I was;
but I think that I can say with truth that in after years, though I cared
in the highest degree for the approbation of such men as Lyell and Hooker,
who were my friends, I did not care much about the general public. I do
not mean to say that a favourable review or a large sale of my books did
not please me greatly, but the pleasure was a fleeting one, and I am sure
that I have never turned one inch out of my course to gain fame.


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 (In Fitzwilliam
Street.) on December 13th, where all my collections were under the care of
Henslow. I stayed here three months, and got my minerals and rocks
examined by the aid of Professor Miller.

I began preparing my 'Journal of Travels,' which was not hard work, as my
MS. Journal had been written with care, and my chief labour was making an
abstract of my more interesting scientific results. I sent also, at the
request of Lyell, a short account of my observations on the elevation of
the coast of Chile to the Geological Society. ('Geolog. Soc. Proc. ii.
1838, pages 446-449.)

On March 7th, 1837, I 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 Voyage of the
"Beagle".' In July I opened my first note-book for facts in relation to
the Origin of Species, about which I had long reflected, and never ceased
working for the next twenty years.

During these two years I also went a little into society, and acted as one
of the honorary secretaries of the Geological Society. I saw a great deal
of Lyell. One of his chief characteristics was his sympathy with the work
of others, and I was as much 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 this time I saw also a good deal of Robert
Brown; I used often to call and sit with him during his breakfast on Sunday
mornings, and he poured forth a rich treasure of curious observations and
acute remarks, but they almost always related to minute points, and he
never with me discussed large or general questions in science.

During these two years I took several short excursions as a relaxation, and
one longer one to the Parallel Roads of Glen Roy, an account of which was
published in the 'Philosophical Transactions.' (1839, pages 39-82.) 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 favour of sea-action; and my error has been a good
lesson to me never to trust in science to the principle of exclusion.

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


(After speaking of his happy married life, and of his children, he

During the three years and eight months whilst we resided in London, I did
less scientific work, though I worked as hard as I possibly could, than
during any other equal length of time in my life. This was owing to
frequently recurring unwellness, and to one long and serious illness. The
greater part of my time, when I could do anything, was devoted to my work
on 'Coral Reefs,' which I had begun before my marriage, and of which the
last proof-sheet was corrected on May 6th, 1842. This book, though a small
one, cost me twenty months of hard work, as I had to read every work on the
islands of the Pacific and to consult many charts. It was thought highly
of by scientific men, and the theory therein given is, I think, now well

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

Besides my work on coral-reefs, during my residence in London, I read
before the Geological Society papers on the Erratic Boulders of South
America ('Geolog. Soc. Proc.' iii. 1842.), on Earthquakes ('Geolog. Trans.
v. 1840.), and on the Formation by the Agency of Earth-worms of Mould.
('Geolog. Soc. Proc. ii. 1838.) I also continued to superintend the
publication of the 'Zoology of the Voyage of the "Beagle".' Nor did I ever
intermit collecting facts bearing on the origin of species; and I could
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, for the sake of observing the
effects of the old glaciers which formerly filled all the larger valleys.
I published a short account of what I saw in the 'Philosophical Magazine.'
('Philosophical Magazine,' 1842.) 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.

During the early part of our life in London, I was strong enough to go into
general society, and saw a good deal of several scientific men, and other
more 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 a good deal of originality. When I made any
remark to him on Geology, he never rested until he saw the whole case
clearly, and often made me see it more clearly than I had done before. He
would advance all possible objections to my suggestion, and even after
these were exhausted would long remain dubious. A second characteristic
was his hearty sympathy with the work of other scientific men. (The slight
repetition here observable is accounted for by the notes on Lyell, etc.,
having been added in April, 1881, a few years after the rest of the
'Recollections' were written.)

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

The science of Geology is enormously indebted to Lyell--more so, as I
believe, than to any other man who ever lived. When [I was] starting on
the voyage of the "Beagle", the sagacious Henslow, who, like all other
geologists, believed at that time in successive 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 advocated.
How differently would any one now speak of the 'Principles'! I am proud to
remember that the first place, namely, St. Jago, in the Cape de Verde
archipelago, in which I geologised, convinced me of the infinite
superiority of Lyell's views over those advocated in any other work known
to me.

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

I saw a good deal of Robert Brown, "facile Princeps Botanicorum," as he was
called by Humboldt. He seemed to me to be chiefly remarkable for the
minuteness of his observations, 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
occasion he asked me to look through a microscope and describe what I saw.
This I did, and believe now that it was the marvellous currents of
protoplasm in some vegetable cell. I then asked him what I had seen; but
he answered me, "That is my little secret."

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

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

I once met at breakfast at Sir R. Murchison's house the illustrious
Humboldt, who honoured me by 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 Hensleigh Wedgwood's. I was
very glad to learn from him his system of collecting facts. He told me
that he bought all the books which he read, and made a full index, to each,
of the facts which he thought might prove serviceable to him, and that he
could always remember in what book he had read 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 enabled to
give the astonishing number of references on all sorts of subjects, which
may be found in his 'History of Civilisation.' This book I thought most
interesting, and read it twice, but I doubt whether his generalisations are
worth anything. Buckle was a great talker, and I listened to him saying
hardly a word, nor indeed could I have done so for he left no gaps. When
Mrs. Farrer began to sing, I jumped up and said that I must listen to her;
after I had moved away he turned 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 talking about Lady Cork, who was then extremely old. This was the
lady who, as he said, was once so much affected by one of his charity
sermons, that she BORROWED a guinea from a friend to put in the plate. He
now said "It is generally believed that my dear old friend Lady Cork has
been overlooked," and he said this in such a manner that no one could for a
moment doubt that he meant that his dear old friend had been overlooked by
the devil. How he managed to express this I know not.

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

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

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

Long ago I dined occasionally with the old Earl, the father of the
historian; he was a strange man, but what little I knew of him I liked
much. He was frank, genial, and pleasant. He had strongly marked
features, with a brown complexion, and his clothes, when I saw him, were
all brown. He seemed to believe in everything which was to others utterly
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 shocked at such a speech to me, and his
charming wife much amused.

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

Carlyle sneered at almost every one: one day in my house he called Grote's
'History' "a fetid quagmire, with nothing spiritual about it." I always
thought, until his 'Reminiscences' appeared, that his sneers were partly
jokes, but this now seems rather doubtful. His expression was that of a
depressed, almost 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, which he despised, are excluded. It is astonishing to
me that Kingsley should have spoken of him as a man well fitted to advance
science. He laughed to scorn the idea that a mathematician, such as
Whewell, could judge, as I maintained he could, of Goethe's views on light.
He thought it a most ridiculous thing that any one should care whether a
glacier moved a little quicker or a little slower, or moved at all. As far
as I could judge, I never met a man with a mind so ill adapted for
scientific research.

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


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 admirably in one way, which we did not anticipate, namely, by
being very convenient for frequent visits from our children.

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

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 giving.


In the early part of 1844, my observations on the volcanic islands visited
during the voyage of the "Beagle" were published. In 1845, I took much
pains in correcting a new edition of my 'Journal of Researches,' which was
originally published in 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 German,
and into French and other languages. This success of a book of travels,
especially of a scientific one, so many years after its first publication,
is surprising. Ten thousand copies have been sold in England of the second
edition. In 1846 my 'Geological Observations on South America' were
published. I record in a little diary, which I have always kept, that my
three geological books ('Coral Reefs' included) consumed 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. ('Geological Observations,' 2nd Edit.1876. 'Coral Reefs,' 2nd Edit.

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

Although I was employed during eight years on this work, yet I record in my
diary that about two years out of this time was lost by illness. On this
account I went in 1848 for some months to Malvern for hydropathic
treatment, which did me much good, so that on my return home I was able to
resume work. So much was I out of health that when my dear father died on
November 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, considerable value, as
besides describing several new and remarkable forms, I made out the
homologies of the various parts--I discovered the cementing apparatus,
though I blundered dreadfully about the cement glands--and lastly I proved
the existence in certain genera of minute males complemental to and
parasitic on the hermaphrodites. This latter discovery has at last been
fully confirmed; though at one time a German writer was pleased to
attribute the whole account to my fertile imagination. The Cirripedes form
a highly varying and difficult group of species to class; and my work was
of considerable use to me, when I had to discuss in the 'Origin of Species'
the principles of a natural classification. Nevertheless, I doubt whether
the work was worth the consumption of so much time.

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

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

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 principles, and without any
theory collected facts on a wholesale scale, more especially with respect
to domesticated productions, by printed enquiries, by conversation with
skilful breeders and gardeners, and by extensive reading. When I see the
list of books of all kinds which I read and abstracted, including whole
series of Journals and Transactions, I am surprised at my industry. I soon
perceived that selection was the keystone of man's success in making useful
races of animals and plants. But how selection could be applied to
organisms living in a state of nature remained for some time a mystery to

In October 1838, that is, fifteen months after I had begun my systematic
enquiry, I happened to read for amusement 'Malthus on Population,' and
being well prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which
everywhere goes on from long-continued 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 unfavourable 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 summer of 1844 into one of 230
pages, which I had fairly copied out and still possess.

But at that time I overlooked one problem of great importance; and it is
astonishing to me, except on the principle of Columbus and his egg, how I
could have overlooked it and its solution. This problem is the tendency in
organic beings descended from the same stock to diverge in character as
they become modified. That they have diverged greatly is obvious from the
manner in which species of all kinds can be classed under genera, genera
under families, families under sub-orders and so forth; and I can remember
the very spot in the road, whilst in my carriage, when to my joy the
solution occurred to me; and this was long after I had come to Down. The
solution, as I believe, is that the modified offspring of all dominant and
increasing forms tend to become adapted to many and highly diversified
places in the economy of 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 overthrown, for early in
the summer of 1858 Mr. Wallace, who was then in the Malay archipelago, sent
me an essay "On the Tendency of Varieties to depart indefinitely from the
Original Type;" and this essay contained exactly the same theory as mine.
Mr. Wallace expressed the wish that if I thought well of his essay, I
should sent it to Lyell for perusal.

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

In September 1858 I set to work by the strong advice of Lyell and Hooker to
prepare a volume on the transmutation of species, but was often interrupted
by ill-health, and short visits to Dr. Lane's delightful hydropathic
establishment at Moor Park. I 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 November 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, according to Miss Bird, been
translated into Japanese (Miss Bird is mistaken, as I learn from Prof.
Mitsukuri.--F.D.), and is there much studied. Even an essay in Hebrew has
appeared on it, showing that the theory is contained in the Old Testament!
The reviews were very numerous; for some time I 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 appeared; 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. 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 attempted to answer.

It has sometimes been said that the success of the 'Origin' proved "that
the subject was in the air," or "that men's minds were prepared for it." I
do not think that this is strictly true, for I occasionally sounded not a
few naturalists, and never happened to come across a single one who seemed
to doubt about the permanence of species. Even Lyell and Hooker, though
they would listen with interest to me, never seemed to agree. I tried once
or twice to explain to able men what I meant by Natural Selection, but
signally failed. What I believe was strictly true is that innumerable
well-observed facts were stored in the minds of naturalists ready to take
their proper places as soon as any theory which would receive them was
sufficiently explained. Another element in the success of the book was its
moderate size; and this I owe to the appearance of Mr. Wallace's essay; had
I 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; and I lost nothing by it, for I cared very
little whether men attributed most originality to me or Wallace; and his
essay no doubt aided in the reception of the theory. I was forestalled in
only one important point, which my vanity has always made me regret,
namely, the explanation by means of the Glacial period of the presence of
the same species of plants and of some few animals on distant mountain
summits and in the arctic regions. This view pleased me so much that I
wrote it out in extenso, and I believe that it was read by Hooker some
years before E. Forbes published his celebrated memoir ('Geolog. Survey
Mem.,' 1846.) 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 recollect
expressing my surprise on this head in a letter to Asa Gray. Within late
years several reviewers have given the whole credit to Fritz Muller 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 chapter 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 ridiculed, but this has been generally done, as I believe, in
good faith. On the whole I do not doubt that my works have been over and
over again greatly overpraised. I rejoice that I have avoided
controversies, and this I owe to Lyell, who many years ago, in reference to
my geological works, strongly advised me never to get entangled in a
controversy, as it rarely did any good and caused a miserable loss of time
and temper.

Whenever I have found out that I have blundered, or that my work has been
imperfect, and when I have been contemptuously criticised, and even when I
have been overpraised, so that I have felt mortified, it has been my
greatest comfort to say hundreds of times to myself that "I have worked as
hard and as well as I could, and no man can do more than this." I remember
when in Good Success Bay, in Tierra del Fuego, thinking (and, I believe,
that I wrote home to the effect) that I could not employ my life better
than in adding a little to Natural Science. This I have done to the best
of my abilities, and critics may say what they like, but they cannot
destroy this conviction.

During the two last months of 1859 I was fully occupied in preparing a
second edition of the 'Origin,' and by an enormous correspondence. On
January 1st, 1860, I began arranging my notes for my work on the 'Variation
of Animals and Plants under Domestication;' but it was not published 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 subjects which at the time interested me more.

On May 15th, 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, and,
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 during every subsequent summer; and my interest in
it was greatly enhanced by having procured and read in November 1841,
through the advice of Robert Brown, a copy of C.K. Sprengel's wonderful
book, 'Das entdeckte Geheimniss der Natur.' For some years before 1862 I
had specially attended to the fertilisation of our British orchids; and it
seemed to me the best plan to prepare as complete a treatise on this group
of plants as well as I could, rather than to utilise the great mass of
matter which I had slowly collected with respect to other plants.

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

During the same year I published in the 'Journal of the Linnean Society' a
paper "On the Two Forms, or Dimorphic Condition of Primula," and during the
next five years, five other papers on dimorphic and 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 common species of Primula I found that the two forms were
much too regular and constant to be thus viewed. I therefore became almost
convinced that the common cowslip and primrose were on the high road to
become dioecious;--that the short pistil in the one form, and the short
stamens in the other form were tending towards abortion. The plants were
therefore subjected under this point of view to trial; but as soon as the
flowers with short pistils fertilised with pollen from the short stamens,
were found to yield more seeds than any other of the four possible unions,
the abortion-theory was knocked on the head. After some additional
experiment, it 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 hybrids from
the union of two distinct species.

In the autumn of 1864 I finished a long paper on 'Climbing Plants,' and
sent it to the Linnean Society. The writing of this paper cost me four
months; but I was so unwell when I received the proof-sheets that I was
forced to leave them very badly and often 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 subject by reading a
short paper by Asa Gray, published 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-

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

My 'Descent of Man' was published in February, 1871. As soon as I had
become, in the year 1837 or 1838, convinced that species were mutable
productions, I could not avoid the belief that man must come under the same
law. Accordingly I collected notes on the subject for my own satisfaction,
and not for a long time with any intention of publishing. Although in the
'Origin of Species' the derivation of any particular species is never
discussed, yet I thought it best, in order that no honourable man should
accuse me of concealing my views, to add that by the work "light would be
thrown on the origin of man and his history." It would have been useless
and injurious to the success of the book to have paraded, without giving
any evidence, my conviction with respect to his origin.

But when I found that many naturalists fully 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 selection--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 materials which I have collected. The 'Descent
of Man' took me three years to write, but then as usual some of this time
was lost by ill health, and some was consumed by preparing new editions and
other minor works. A second and largely corrected edition of the 'Descent'
appeared in 1874.

My book on the 'Expression of the Emotions in Men and Animals' was
published in the autumn of 1872. I had intended to give only a chapter on
the subject in the 'Descent of Man,' but as soon as 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, and I at once commenced to
make notes on the first dawn of the various expressions which he exhibited,
for I felt convinced, even at this early period, that the most complex and
fine shades of expression must all have had a gradual and natural origin.
During the summer of the following year, 1840, I read Sir C. Bell's
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 specially created for the sake of expression.
>From this time forward I occasionally attended to the subject, both with
respect to man and our domesticated animals. My book sold largely; 5267
copies having been disposed of on the day of publication.

In the summer of 1860 I was idling and resting near Hartfield, where two
species of Drosera abound; and I noticed that numerous insects had been
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
probable 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-nitrogenous fluids of equal
density; and as soon as I found that the former alone excited energetic
movements, it was obvious that here was a fine new field for investigation.

During subsequent years, whenever I had leisure, I pursued my experiments,
and my book on '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 'Fertilisation of Orchids,' in which I showed how
perfect were the means for cross-fertilisation, and here I shall show how
important are the results. I was led to make, during eleven years, the
numerous experiments recorded in this volume, by a mere accidental
observation; and indeed it required the accident to be repeated before my
attention was thoroughly aroused to the remarkable fact that 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."


'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 Muller, that I ought to have insisted more
strongly than I did on the many adaptations for self-fertilisation; though
I was well aware of many such adaptations. A much enlarged edition of my
'Fertilisation of Orchids' was published in 1877.

In this same year 'The Different Forms of Flowers, etc.,' 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 before
remarked, no little discovery of mine ever gave me so much pleasure as the
making out the meaning of heterostyled flowers. The results of crossing
such flowers in an illegitimate manner, I believe to be very important, as
bearing on the sterility of hybrids; although these results have been
noticed by only a few persons.

In 1879, I had a translation of Dr. Ernst Krause's 'Life of Erasmus Darwin'
published, and I added a sketch of his character and habits from material
in my possession. Many persons have been much 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 generalisation, viz. that the great and important classes of
movements, excited by light, the attraction of gravity, etc., are all
modified forms of the fundamental movement of circumnutation. It has
always pleased me to exalt plants in the scale of organised beings; and I
therefore felt an especial pleasure in showing how many and what admirably
well adapted movements the tip of a root possesses.

I have now (May 1, 1881) sent to the printers the MS. of a little book on
'The Formation of Vegetable Mould, through the Action of Worms.' This is a
subject of but small importance; and I know not whether it will interest
any readers (Between November 1881 and February 1884, 8500 copies have been
sold.), 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 published, 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 extent. I think that I have become a little more
skilful in guessing right explanations and in devising experimental tests;
but this may probably be the result of mere practice, and of a larger store
of knowledge. I have as much difficulty as ever in expressing myself
clearly and concisely; and this difficulty has caused me a very great loss
of time; but it has had the compensating advantage of forcing me to think
long and intently about every sentence, and thus I have been led to see
errors in reasoning and in my own observations or those of others.

There seems to be a sort of fatality in my mind leading me to put at first
my statement or proposition in a wrong or awkward form. Formerly I used to
think about my sentences before writing them down; but for several years I
have found that it saves time to scribble in a vile hand whole pages as
quickly as I possibly can, contracting half the words; and then correct
deliberately. Sentences thus scribbled down are often better ones than I
could have written 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 standing for a whole
discussion or series of facts. Each one of these headings is again
enlarged and often transferred before I begin to write in extenso. As in
several of my books facts observed by others have been very extensively
used, and as I have always had several quite distinct 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 considerable, and music very great
delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry:
I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull
that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost my taste for pictures or
music. Music generally sets me thinking too energetically on what I have
been at work on, instead of giving me pleasure. I retain some taste for
fine scenery, but it does not cause me the exquisite delight which it
formerly did. On the other hand, novels which are works of the
imagination, though not of a very high order, have been for years a
wonderful relief and pleasure to me, and I often bless all novelists. A
surprising number have been read aloud to me, and I like all if moderately
good, and if they do not end unhappily--against which a law ought to be
passed. A novel, according to my taste, does not come into the first class
unless it 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 collections
of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the
brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive. A man
with a mind more highly organised or better constituted than mine, would
not, I suppose, have thus suffered; and if I had to live my life again, I
would have made a 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 translated into many
languages, and passed through several editions in foreign countries. I
have heard it said that the success of a work abroad is the best test of
its enduring value. I doubt whether this is at all trustworthy; but judged
by this standard my name ought to last for a few years. Therefore it may
be worth while to try to analyse the mental qualities and the conditions on
which my success has depended; though I am aware that no man can do this

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 considerable reflection that I perceive the weak points. My
power to follow a long and purely abstract train of thought is very
limited; and therefore I could never have succeeded with metaphysics or
mathematics. My memory is extensive, yet hazy: it suffices to make me
cautious by vaguely telling me that I have observed or read something
opposed to the conclusion which I am drawing, or on the other hand in
favour of it; and after a time I can generally recollect where to search
for my authority. So poor in one sense is my memory, that I have never
been able to remember for more than a few days a single date or a line of

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 successful lawyer or doctor must
have, but not, I believe, in any higher degree.

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

This pure love has, however, been much aided by the ambition to be esteemed
by my fellow naturalists. From my early youth I have had the strongest
desire to understand or explain whatever I observed,--that is, to group all
facts under some general laws. These causes combined have given me the
patience to reflect or ponder for any number of years over any 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 reasoning in the mixed sciences. On
the other hand, I am not very sceptical,--a frame of mind which I believe
to be injurious to the progress of science. A good deal of scepticism in a
scientific man is advisable to avoid much loss of time, but I have met with
not a few men, who, I feel sure, have often thus been deterred from
experiment or observations, which would have proved directly or indirectly

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 farmers; but that he had since spoken again to
every one of them, and not one knew in the least what he had himself meant.
So that here a belief--if indeed a statement with no definite idea attached
to it can be called a belief--had spread over almost the whole of England
without any vestige of evidence.

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

A second case was an account of several varieties, raised by the author
from several species of Primula, which had spontaneously yielded a full
complement of seed, although the parent plants had been carefully protected
from the access of insects. This account was published before I had
discovered the meaning of heterostylism, and the whole statement must have
been fraudulent, or there was neglect in excluding insects so gross as to
be scarcely credible.

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

So with much hesitation I wrote to Professor Van Beneden, asking him
whether the author was a trustworthy man. I soon heard in answer that the
Society had been greatly shocked by discovering that the whole account was
a fraud. (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.) 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
consumed several years, and no answer could be extracted from him.

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

Therefore my success as a man of science, whatever this may have amounted
to, has been determined, as far as I can judge, by complex and diversified
mental qualities and conditions. Of these, the most important have been--
the love of science--unbounded patience in long reflecting over any
subject--industry in 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.



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

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

In spite of his strength and activity, I think he must always have had a
clumsiness of movement. He was naturally awkward with his hands, and was
unable to draw at all well. (The figure representing the aggregated cell-
contents in 'Insectivorous Plants' was drawn by him.) This he always
regretted much, and he frequently urged the paramount necessity of a young
naturalist making himself a good draughtsman.

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

His face was ruddy in colour, and this perhaps made people think him less
of an invalid than he was. He wrote to Dr. Hooker (June 13, 1849), "Every
one tells me that I look quite blooming and beautiful; and most think I am
shamming, but you have never been one of those." And it must be 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 otherwise
his face was not much marked or lined. His expression showed no signs of
the continual discomfort he suffered.

When he was excited with pleasant talk his whole manner was wonderfully
bright and animated, and his face shared to the full in the general
animation. His laugh was a free and sounding peal, like that of a man who
gives himself sympathetically 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

After breakfasting alone about 7.45, he went to work at once, considering
the 1 1/2 hour between 8 and 9.30 one of his best working times. At 9.30
he came into the drawing-room for his letters--rejoicing if the post was a
light one and being sometimes much worried if it was not. He would then
hear any family letters read aloud as he lay on the sofa.

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

My father was always fond of dogs, and as a young man had the power of
stealing away the affections of his 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 devoted 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 telling. He went into the yard and shouted in his old manner; the
dog rushed out and set off with him on his walk, showing no more emotion or
excitement than if the same thing had happened the day before, instead of
five years ago. This story is made use of in the 'Descent of Man,' 2nd
Edition, page 74.

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

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

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 neighbourhood of the
house. The "Sand-walk" was a narrow strip of land 1 1/2 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 was, a quiet little valley losing
itself in the upland country towards the edge of the Westerham hill, with
hazel coppice and larch wood, the remnants of what was once a large wood,
stretching away to the Westerham road. I have heard my father say that the
charm of this simple little valley helped to make him settle at Down.

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

Sometimes when alone he stood still or walked stealthily to observe birds
or beasts. It was on one of these occasions that some young squirrels ran
up his back and legs, while their mother barked at them in an agony from
the tree. He always found birds' nests even up to the last years of his
life, and we, as children, considered that he had a special genius in this
direction. In his quiet prowls he came across the less common birds, but I
fancy he used to conceal it from me, as a little boy, because he observed
the agony of mind which I endured at not having seen the siskin or
goldfinch, or whatever it might have been. He used to tell us how, when he
was creeping noiselessly along in the "Big-Woods," he came upon a fox
asleep in the daytime, which was so much astonished that it took a good
stare at him before it ran off. A Spitz dog which accompanied him showed
no sign of excitement at the fox, and he used to end the story by wondering
how the dog could have been so faint-hearted.

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

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

Though he took no personal share in the management of the garden, he had
great delight in the beauty of flowers--for instance, in the mass of
Azaleas which generally stood in the drawing-room. I think he sometimes
fused together his 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 Lobelia. In admiring
flowers, he would often laugh at the dingy high-art colours, and contrast
them with the bright tints of nature. I used to like to hear him admire
the beauty of a flower; it was a kind of gratitude to the flower itself,
and a personal love for its delicate form and colour. I seem to remember
him gently touching a flower he delighted in; it was the same simple
admiration that a child might have.

He could not help personifying natural things. This feeling came out in
abuse as well as in praise--e.g. of some seedlings--"The little beggars are
doing just what I don't want them to." He would speak in a half-provoked,
half-admiring way of the ingenuity of a Mimosa leaf in screwing itself out
of a basin of water in which he had tried to fix it. One must see the same
spirit in his way of speaking of Sundew, earth-worms, etc. (Cf. Leslie
Stephen's 'Swift,' 1882, page 200, where Swift's inspection of the manners
and customs of servants are compared to my father's observations on worms,
"The difference is," says Mr. Stephen, "that Darwin had none but kindly
feelings for worms.")

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

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

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

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

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

After his lunch, he read the newspaper, lying on the sofa in the drawing-
room. I think the paper was the only non-scientific matter which he read
to himself. Everything else, novels, travels, history, was read aloud to
him. He took so wide an interest in life, that there was much to occupy
him in newspapers, though he laughed at the wordiness of the debates;
reading them, I think, only in abstract. His interest in politics was
considerable, but his opinion on these matters was formed rather by the way
than with any serious amount of thought.

After he 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

He was considerate to his correspondents in other and lesser things, for
instance when dictating a letter to a foreigner he hardly ever failed to
say to me, "You'd better try and write well, as it's to a foreigner." His
letters were generally written on the assumption that they would be
carelessly read; thus, when he was dictating, he was careful to tell me to
make an important clause begin with an obvious paragraph "to catch his
eye," as he often said. How much he thought of the trouble he gave others
by asking questions, will be well enough shown by his letters. It is
difficult to say anything about the general tone of his letters, they will
speak for themselves. The unvarying courtesy of them is very striking. I
had a proof of this quality in the feeling with which Mr. Hacon, his
solicitor, regarded him. He had never seen my father, yet had a sincere
feeling of friendship for him, and spoke especially of his letters as being
such as a man seldom receives in the way of business:--"Everything I did
was right, and everything was profusely thanked for."

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

In money and business matters he was remarkably careful and exact. He kept
accounts with great care, classifying them, and balancing at the end of the
year like a merchant. I remember the quick way in which he would reach out
for his account-book to enter each cheque paid, as though he were in a
hurry to get it entered before he had forgotten it. His father must have
allowed him to believe that he would be poorer than he really was, for some
of the difficulty experienced in finding a house in the country must have
arisen from the modest sum he felt prepared to give. Yet he knew, of
course, that he would be in easy circumstances, for in his 'Recollections'
he mentions this as one of the reasons for his not having worked at
medicine with so much zeal as he would have done if he had been obliged to
gain his living.

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

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

He had a great respect for pure business capacity, and often spoke with
admiration of a relative who had doubled his fortune. And of himself would
often say in fun that what he really WAS proud of was the money he had
saved. He also felt satisfaction in the money he made by his books. His
anxiety to save came in 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 many pinches. In one of his early letters he speaks of
having given up snuff for a month, and describes himself as feeling "most
lethargic, stupid, and melancholy." Our former neighbour and clergyman,
Mr. Brodie Innes, tells me that at one time my father made a resolve not to
take snuff except away from home, "a most satisfactory arrangement for me,"
he adds, "as I kept a box in my study to which there was access from the
garden without summoning servants, and I had more frequently, than might
have been otherwise the case, the privilege of a few minutes' conversation
with my dear friend." He generally took snuff from a jar on the hall
table, because having to go this distance for a pinch was a slight check;
the clink of the lid of the snuff jar was a very familiar sound. Sometimes
when he was in the drawing-room, it would occur to him that the study fire
must be burning low, and when some of us offered to see after it, it would
turn out that he also wished to get a pinch of snuff.

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

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

>From about half-past four to half-past five he worked; then he came to the
drawing-room, and was idle till it was time (about six) to go up for
another rest with novel-reading and a cigarette.

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

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

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

In the evening, that is, after he had read as much as his strength would
allow, and before the reading aloud began, he would often lie on the sofa
and listen to my mother playing the piano. He had not a good ear, yet in
spite of this he had a true love of fine music. He used to lament that his
enjoyment of music had become dulled with age, yet within my recollection,
his love of a good tune was strong. I never heard him hum more than one
tune, the Welsh song "Ar hyd y nos," which he went through correctly; he
used also, I believe, to hum a little Otaheitan song. From his want of ear
he was unable to recognize a tune when he heard it again, but he remained
constant to what he liked, and would often say, when an old favourite was
played, "That's a fine thing; what is it?" He liked especially parts of
Beethoven's symphonies, and bits of Handel. He made a little list of all
the pieces which he especially liked among those which my mother played--
giving in a few words the impression that each one made on him--but these
notes are unfortunately lost. He was sensitive to differences in style,
and enjoyed the late Mrs. Vernon Lushington's playing intensely, and in
June 1881, when Hans Richter paid a visit at Down, he was roused to strong
enthusiasm by his magnificent performance on the piano. He much enjoyed
good singing, and was moved almost to tears by grand or pathetic songs.
His niece Lady Farrer's singing of Sullivan's "Will he come" was a never-
failing enjoyment to him. He was humble in the extreme about his own
taste, and correspondingly pleased when he found that others agreed with

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 discomfort. 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 lighter kinds of literature. He
was extremely fond of novels, and I remember well the way in which he would
anticipate the pleasure of having a novel read to him, as he lay down, or
lighted his cigarette. He took a vivid interest both in plot and
characters, and would on no account know beforehand, how a story finished;
he considered looking at the end of a novel as a feminine vice. He could
not enjoy any story with a tragical end, for this reason he did not keenly
appreciate George Eliot, though he often spoke warmly in praise of 'Silas
Marner.' Walter Scott, Miss Austen, and Mrs. Gaskell, were read and re-
read till they could be read no more. He had two or three books in hand at
the same time--a novel and perhaps a biography and a book of travels. He
did not often read out-of-the-way or old standard books, but generally kept
to the books of the day obtained from a circulating library.

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

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

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

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

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

His wide interest in branches of science that were not specially his own
was remarkable. In the biological sciences his doctrines make themselves
felt so widely that there was something interesting to him in most
departments of it. He read a good deal of many quite special works, and
large parts of text books, such as Huxley's 'Invertebrate Anatomy,' or such
a book as Balfour's 'Embryology,' where the detail, at any rate, was not
specially in his own line. And in the case of elaborate books of the
monograph type, though he did not make a study of them, yet he felt the
strongest admiration for them.

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

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

It was a sure sign that he was not well when he was idle at any times other
than his regular resting hours; for, as long as he remained moderately
well, there was no break in the regularity of his life. Week-days and
Sundays passed by alike, each with their stated intervals of work and rest.
It is almost impossible, except for those who watched his daily life, to
realise how essential to his well-being was the regular routine that I have
sketched: and with what pain and difficulty anything beyond it was
attempted. Any public appearance, even of the most modest kind, was an
effort to him. In 1871 he went to the little village church for the
wedding of his elder daughter, but he could hardly bear the fatigue of
being present through the short service. The same may be said of the few
other occasions on which he was present at similar ceremonies.

I remember him many years ago at a christening; a memory which has remained
with me, because to us children it seemed an extraordinary and abnormal
occurrence. I 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

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

He kept an accurate journal of the days on which he worked and those on
which his ill health prevented him from working, so that it would be
possible to tell how many were idle days in any given year. In this
journal--a little yellow Lett's Diary, which lay open on his mantel-piece,
piled on the diaries of previous years--he also entered the day on which he
started for a holiday and that of his return.

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

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

One of the happy memories of this time [1879] 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 returning
he was full of the beauty of Rydal Water, though he would not allow that
Grasmere at all equalled his beloved Coniston."

Besides these longer holidays, there were shorter visits to various
relatives--to his brother-in-law's house, close to Leith Hill, and to his
son near Southampton. He always particularly enjoyed rambling over rough
open country, such as the commons near Leith Hill and Southampton, the
heath-covered wastes of Ashdown Forest, or the delightful "Rough" near the
house of his friend Sir Thomas Farrer. He never was quite idle even on
these holidays, and found things to observe. At Hartfield he watched
Drosera catching insects, etc.; 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, squeaking, rushing round the room, and jumping on and
off the chairs; and he used to stoop down, pressing her face to his,
letting her lick him, and speaking to her with a peculiarly tender,
caressing voice.

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

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

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

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

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

Some idea of his relation to his family and his friends may be gathered
from what has gone before; it would be impossible 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 sympathetic
nature was shown in its most beautiful aspect. In her presence he found
his happiness, and through her, his life,--which might have been
overshadowed by gloom,--became one of content and quiet gladness.

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

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

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

"I write these few pages, as I think in after years, if we live, the
impressions now put down will recall more vividly her chief
characteristics. From whatever point I look back at her, the main feature
in her disposition which at once rises before me, is her buoyant
joyousness, tempered by two other characteristics, namely, her
sensitiveness, which might easily have been overlooked by a stranger, and
her strong affection. Her joyousness and animal spirits radiated from her
whole countenance, and rendered every movement elastic and full of life and
vigour. It was delightful and cheerful to behold her. Her dear face now
rises before me, as she used sometimes to come running downstairs with a
stolen pinch of snuff for me her whole form radiant with the pleasure of
giving pleasure. Even when playing with her cousins, when her joyousness
almost passed into boisterousness, a single glance of my eye, not of
displeasure (for I thank God I hardly ever cast one on her), but of want of
sympathy, would for some minutes alter her whole countenance.

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

"Beside 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 exaggerated language, and when I quizzed her by exaggerating
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 angelic. 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 everything that
was given her, and said some tea 'was beautifully good.' When I gave her
some water she said, 'I quite thank you;' and these, I believe, were the
last precious words ever addressed by her dear lips to me.

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

"April 30, 1851."

We his children all took especial pleasure in the games he played at with
us, but I do not think he romped much with us; I suppose his health
prevented any rough play. He used sometimes to tell us stories, which were
considered 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 carelessness; 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 children to laugh with and at him, and was, generally speaking, on
terms of perfect equality with us.

He was always full of interest about each one's plans or successes. We
used to laugh at him, and say he would not believe in his sons, because,
for instance, he would be a little doubtful about their taking some bit of
work for which he did not feel sure that they had knowledge enough. On the
other hand, he was only too much inclined to take a favourable view of our
work. When I thought he had set too high a value on anything that I had
done, he used to be indignant and inclined to explode in mock anger. His
doubts were part of his humility concerning what was in any way 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 wrote a letter, or read a page aloud to him, without
receiving a few kind words of recognition. His love and goodness towards
his little grandson Bernard were great; and he often spoke of the pleasure
it was to him to see "his little face opposite to him" at luncheon. He and
Bernard used to compare their tastes; e.g., in liking brown sugar better
than white, etc.; the result being, "We always agree, don't we?"

My sister writes:--

"My first remembrances of my father are of the delights of his playing with
us. He was passionately attached to his own children, although he was not
an indiscriminate child-lover. To all of us he was the most delightful
play-fellow, and the most perfect sympathiser. Indeed it is impossible
adequately to describe how delightful a relation his was to his family,
whether as children or in their later life.

"It is a proof of the terms on which we were, and also of how much he was
valued as a play-fellow, that one of his sons when about four years old
tried to bribe him with sixpence to come and play in working hours. We all
knew the sacredness 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 necessaries were always to be found in the study, and
it was the only place where this was a certainty. We used to feel it wrong
to go in during work-time; still, when the necessity was great we did so.
I remember his patient look when he said once, 'Don't you think you could
not come in again, I have been interrupted very often.' We used to dread
going in for sticking-plaster, because he disliked to see that we had cut
ourselves, both for our sakes and on account of his acute sensitiveness to
the sight of blood. I well remember lurking about the passage till he was
safe away, and then stealing in for the plaster.

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

"I was more or less ill during the five years between my thirteenth and
eighteenth years, and for a long time (years it seems to me) he used to
play a couple of games of backgammon 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

"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 individualities 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 creatures whose
opinions and thoughts were valuable to him, so that whatever there was best
in us came out in the sunshine of his presence.

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

As head of a household he was much loved and respected; he always spoke to
servants with politeness, using the expression, "would you be so good," in
asking for anything. He was hardly ever angry with his servants; it shows
how seldom this occurred, that when, as a small boy, I overheard a servant
being scolded, and my father speaking angrily, it impressed me as an
appalling circumstance, and I remember running up stairs out of a general
sense of awe. He did not trouble himself about the management of the
garden, cows, etc. 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 himself. If, however,
they were not deterred, he used to arrange their journeys for them, telling
them when to come, and practically when to go. It was pleasant to see the
way in which he shook hands with a guest who was being welcomed for the
first time; his hand used to shoot out in a way that gave one the feeling
that it was hastening to meet the guest's hands. With old friends his hand
came down with a hearty swing into the other hand in a way I always had
satisfaction in seeing. His good-bye was chiefly characterised by the
pleasant way in which he thanked his guests, as he stood at the door, for
having come to see him.

These luncheons were very successful entertainments, there was no drag or
flagging about them, my father was bright and excited throughout the whole
visit. Professor De Candolle has described a visit to Down, in his
admirable and sympathetic sketch of my father. ('Darwin considere au point
de vue des causes de son succes.'--Geneva, 1882.) He speaks of his manner
as resembling that of a "savant" of Oxford or Cambridge. This does not
strike me as quite a good comparison; in his ease and naturalness there was
more of the manner of some soldiers; a manner arising from total absence of
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 parenthesis, and it was often impossible to
understand the drift of what he was saying until he came to the end of his
sentence. He used to say of himself that he was not quick enough to hold
an argument with any one, and I think this was true. Unless it was a
subject on which he was just then at work, he could not get the train of
argument into working order quickly enough. This is shown even in his
letters; thus, in the case of two letters to Prof. Semper about the effect
of isolation, he did not recall the series of facts he wanted until some
days after the first letter had been sent off.

When puzzled in talking, he had a peculiar stammer on the 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. (My father related a Johnsonian answer of Erasmus Darwin's:
"Don't you find it very inconvenient stammering, Dr. Darwin?" "No, sir,
because I have time to think before I speak, and don't ask impertinent

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 refinement of nature
came out most strongly. So, when he was talking to a lady who pleased and
amused him, the combination 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 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 element 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

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
friendships, but to Sir Joseph Hooker he was bound by ties of affection
stronger than we often see among men. He wrote in his 'Recollections,' "I
have known hardly any man more lovable than Hooker."

His relationship to the village people was a pleasant one; he treated them,
one and all, with courtesy, when he came in contact with them, and took an
interest in all relating to their welfare. Some time after he came to live
at Down he helped to found a Friendly Club, and served as treasurer for
thirty years. He took much trouble about the club, keeping its accounts
with minute and scrupulous exactness, and taking pleasure in its prosperous
condition. Every Whit-Monday the club used to march round with band and
banner, and paraded on the lawn in front of the house. There he met them,
and explained to them their financial position in a little speech seasoned
with a few well worn jokes. He was often unwell enough to make even this
little ceremony an exertion, but I think he never failed to meet them.

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

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

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

"In all parish matters he was an active assistant; in matters connected
with the schools, charities, and other business, 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

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

Dr. Lane has described (Lecture by Dr. B.W. Richardson, in St. George's
Hall, October 22, 1882.) 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 confused 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 remembering faces in his latter years, also added to his
discomfort on such occasions. He did not realise that he would be
recognised from his photographs, and I remember his being uneasy at being
obviously recognised by a stranger at the Crystal Palace 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 his
love of saving the minutes in the difference he felt between a quarter of
an hour and ten minutes' work; he never wasted a few spare minutes from
thinking that it was not worth while to set to work. I was often struck by
his way of working up to the very limit of his strength, so that he
suddenly stopped in dictating, with the words, "I believe I mustn't do any
more." The same eager desire not to lose time was seen in his quick
movements when at work. I particularly remember noticing this when he was
making an experiment on the roots of beans, which required some care in
manipulation; fastening the little bits of card upon the roots was done
carefully and necessarily slowly, but the intermediate 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, etc; all
these processes were performed with a kind of restrained eagerness. He
always gave one the impression of working with pleasure, and not with any
drag. I have an image, too, of him as he recorded the result of some
experiment, looking eagerly at each root, etc., and then writing with equal
eagerness. I remember the quick movement of his head up and down as he
looked from the object to the notes.

He saved a great deal of time through not having to do things twice.
Although he would patiently go on repeating experiments where there was any
good to be gained, he could not endure having to repeat an experiment which
ought, if complete care had been taken, to have succeeded the first time--
and this gave him a continual anxiety that the experiment should not be
wasted; he felt the experiment to be sacred, however slight a one it was.
He wished to learn as much as possible from an experiment, so that he did
not confine himself to observing the single point to which the experiment
was directed, and his power of seeing a number of other things was
wonderful. I do not think he cared for preliminary or rough 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 unnecessarily 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 suspects the work of a man who never uses
the simple microscope.

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, etc., 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,"
etc. The most marked peculiarity of the contents of these drawers was the
care with which little scraps and almost useless things were preserved; he
held the well-known belief, that if you threw a thing away you were sure to
want it directly--and so things accumulated.

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

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

His way of marking objects may here be mentioned. If he had a number of
things to distinguish, such as leaves, flowers, etc., 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,
etc., with pieces of black and of white thread to distinguish the trays in
which they lay. When he had to compare two sets of seedlings, sowed in the
same pot, he separated them by a partition of zinc-plate; and the zinc
label, which gave the necessary details about the experiment, was always
placed on a certain side, so that it became instinctive with him to know
without reading the label which were the "crossed" and which were the

His love of each particular experiment, and his eager zeal not to lose the
fruit of it, came out markedly in these crossing experiments--in the
elaborate care he took not to make any confusion in putting capsules into
wrong trays, etc., etc. 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, etc. He was
astonished when we found that one of his micrometers 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 forgotten to put it back. For measuring the
height of plants he had a seven-foot deal rod, graduated by the village
carpenter. Latterly he took to using paper scales graduated to
millimeters. For small objects he used a pair of compasses and an ivory
protractor. It was characteristic of him that he took scrupulous pains in
making measurements with his somewhat rough scales. A trifling example of
his faith in authority is that he took his "inch in terms of millimeters"
from an old book, in which it turned out to be inaccurately given. He had
a chemical balance which dated from the days when he worked at chemistry
with his brother Erasmus. Measurements of capacity were made with an
apothecary's measuring glass: I remember well its rough look and bad
graduation. With this, too, I remember the great care he took in getting
the fluid-line on to the graduation. I do not mean by this account of his
instruments that any of his experiments suffered from want of accuracy in
measurement, I give them as examples of his simple methods and faith in
others--faith at least in instrument-makers, whose whole trade was a
mystery to him.

A few of his mental characteristics, bearing especially on his mode of
working, occur to me. There was one quality of mind which seemed to be of
special and extreme advantage in leading him to make discoveries. It was
the power of never letting exceptions pass unnoticed. Everybody notices a
fact as an exception when it is striking or frequent, but he had a special
instinct for arresting an exception. A point apparently 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 me.

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 better than
perseverance. Perseverance seems hardly to express his almost fierce
desire to force the truth to reveal itself. He often said that it was
important that a man should know the right point at which to give up an
inquiry. And I think it was his tendency to pass this point that inclined
him to apologise for his perseverance, and gave the air of doggedness to
his work.

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

The love of experiment was very strong in him, and I can remember the way
he would say, "I shan't be easy till I have tried it," as if an outside
force were driving him. He enjoyed experimenting much more than work which
only entailed reasoning, and when he was engaged on one of his books which
required argument and the marshalling of facts, he felt experimental work
to be a rest or holiday. Thus, while working upon the 'Variations of
Animals and Plants,' in 1860-61, 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
undertaken and largely worked out as a pastime in place of more serious
work. The letters to Hooker of this period contain expressions such as,
"God forgive me for being so idle; I am quite sillily interested in this
work." The intense pleasure he took in understanding the adaptations for
fertilisation is strongly shown in these letters. He speaks in one of his
letters of his intention of working at Drosera as a rest from the 'Descent
of Man.' He has described in his 'Recollections' the strong satisfaction
he felt in solving the problem of heterostylism. And I have heard him
mention that the Geology of South America gave him almost more pleasure
than anything else. It was perhaps this delight in work requiring keen
observation that made him value praise given to his observing powers almost
more than appreciation of his other qualities.

For books he had no respect, but merely considered them as tools to be
worked with. Thus he did not bind them, and even when a paper book fell to
pieces from use, as happened to Muller's 'Befruchtung,' he preserved it
from complete dissolution by putting a metal clip over its back. In the
same way he would cut a heavy book in half, to make it more convenient to
hold. He used to boast that he made Lyell publish the second edition of
one of his books in two volumes instead of one, by telling him how he had
been obliged to cut it in half. Pamphlets were often treated even more
severely than books, for he would tear out, for the sake of saving room,
all the pages except the one that interested him. The consequence of all
this was, that his library was not ornamental, but was striking from being
so evidently a working collection of books.

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

In each book, as he read it, he marked passages bearing on his work. In
reading a book or pamphlet, etc., he made pencil-lines at the side of the
page, often adding short remarks, and at the end made a list of the pages
marked. When it was to be catalogued and put away, the marked pages were
looked at, and so a rough abstract of the book was made. This abstract
would perhaps be written under three or four headings on different sheets,
the facts being sorted out and added to the previously collected facts in
different subjects. He had other sets of abstracts arranged, not according
to subject, but according to periodical. When collecting facts on a large
scale, in earlier years, he used to read through, and make abstracts, in
this way, of whole series of periodicals.

In some of his early letters he speaks of filling several note-books with
facts for his book on species; but it was certainly early that he adopted
his plan of using portfolios as described in the 'Recollections.' (The
racks on which the portfolios were placed are shown in the illustration,
"The Study at Down," in the recess at the right-hand side of the fire-
place.) My father and M. de Candolle were mutually pleased to discover
that they had adopted the same plan of classifying facts. De Candolle
describes the method in his 'Phytologie,' and in his sketch of my father
mentions the satisfaction he felt in seeing it in action at Down.

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

He shows the same feeling in writing about the loss of a manuscript, the
purport of his words being, "I have a copy, or the 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 'Life 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 intervals, the lines being
needed to prevent him writing so closely that correction became difficult.
The fair copy was then corrected, and was recopied before being sent to the
printers. The copying was done by Mr. E. Norman, who began this work many
years ago when village schoolmaster at Down. My father became so used to
Mr. Norman's hand-writing, that he could not correct manuscript, even when
clearly written out by one of his children, until it had been recopied by
Mr. Norman. The MS., on returning from Mr. Norman was once more corrected,
and then sent off to the printers. Then came the work of revising and
correcting the proofs, which my father found especially wearisome.

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

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

My sister, Mrs. Litchfield, writes:--

"This work was very interesting in itself, and it was inexpressibly
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 improvement 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 obscurities due to the
omission of a necessary link in the reasoning, something which he had
evidently omitted through familiarity with the subject. Not that there was
any fault in the sequence of the thoughts, but that from familiarity with
his argument he did not notice when the words failed to reproduce his
thought. He also frequently put too much matter into one sentence, so that
it had to be cut up into two.

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

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, etc.--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 illustrations 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,' 'Insectivorous
Plants,' the 'Movements of Plants,' and 'Forms of Flowers,' were, to a
large extent, illustrated by some of his children--my brother George having
drawn by far the most. It was delightful to draw for him, as he was
enthusiastic in his praise of very moderate performances. I remember 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

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

His consideration for other authors was as marked a characteristic 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 value.

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

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

His feeling about reclamations, including answers to attacks 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 (He departed from his rule in his "Note on the Habits of the
Pampas Woodpecker, Colaptes campestris," 'Proc. Zool. Soc.,' 1870, page
705: also in a letter published in the 'Athenaeum' (1863, page 554), in
which case he afterwards regretted that he had not remained silent. His
replies to criticisms, in the later editions of the 'Origin,' can hardly be
classed as infractions of his rule.) 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 understood, 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 pleasure in what pleased
them. Thus, in later life, their perception of what he endured had to be
disentangled from the impression produced in childhood by constant genial
kindness under conditions of unrecognised difficulty. No one indeed,
except my mother, knows the full amount 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 hesitate to speak thus freely of a thing
so sacred as the life-long 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.


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 "admissus est
pensionarius minor sub Magistro Shaw" on October 15, 1827. He did not come
into residence till the Lent Term, 1828, so that, although he passed his
examination in due season, he was unable to take his degree at the usual
time,--the beginning of the Lent Term, 1831. In such a case a man usually
took his degree before Ash-Wednesday, when he was called "Baccalaureus ad
Diem Cinerum," and ranked with the B.A.'s of the year. My father's name,
however, occurs in the list of Bachelors "ad Baptistam," or those admitted
between Ash-Wednesday and St. John Baptist's Day (June 24th); ("On Tuesday
last Charles Darwin, of Christ's College, was admitted B.A."--"Cambridge
Chronicle", Friday, April 29, 1831.) 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. (The rooms are on the
first floor, on the west side of the middle staircase. A medallion (given
by my brother) has recently been let into the wall of the sitting-room.)

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

My father seems to have found no difficulty in living at peace with all men
in and out of office at Lady Margaret's other foundation. The impression
of a contemporary of my father's is that Christ's in their day was a
pleasant, fairly quiet college, with some tendency towards "horsiness";
many of the men made a custom of going to Newmarket during the races,
though betting was not a regular practice. In this they were by no means
discouraged by the Senior Tutor, Mr. Shaw, who was himself generally to be
seen on the Heath on these occasions. There was a somewhat high proportion
of Fellow-Commoners,--eight or nine, to sixty or seventy Pensioners, 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 Alma Mater could claim
any credit. One of my father's Cambridge friends was the late Mr. J.M.
Herbert, County Court Judge for South Wales, from whom I was fortunate
enough to obtain some notes which help us to gain an idea of how my father
impressed his contemporaries. Mr. Herbert writes: "I think it was in the
spring of 1828 that I first met Darwin, either at my cousin Whitley's rooms
in St. John's, or at the rooms of some other of his old Shrewsbury
schoolfellows, with many of whom I was on terms of great intimacy. But it
certainly was in the summer of that year that our acquaintance ripened into
intimacy, when we happened to be together at Barmouth, for the Long
Vacation, reading with private tutors,--he with Batterton 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 goodbye to Herbert at Cambridge, on starting on his "Beagle" voyage.
I once met Mr. Herbert, then almost an old man, and I was much struck by
the evident warmth and freshness of the affection with which he remembered
my father. The notes from which I quote end with this warm-hearted
eulogium: "It would be idle for me to speak of his vast intellectual
powers...but I cannot end this 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 loveable."

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

To realise the strength of the feeling that led to this resolve, we must
remember how passionate was his love of sport. We must recall the boy
shooting his first snipe ('Recollections.'), and trembling with excitement
so that he could hardly reload his gun. Or think of such a sentence as,
"Upon my soul, it is only about a fortnight to the 'First,' then if there
is a bliss on earth that is it." (Letter from C. Darwin to W.D. Fox.)

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

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

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 subjected at Warsaw...These, and other like proofs
have 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 of
studies of the place, but full of other pursuits, which were followed with
a rejoicing enthusiasm. Entomology, riding, shooting in the fens, suppers
and card-playing, music at King's Chapel, engravings at the Fitzwilliam
Museum, walks with Professor Henslow--all combined to fill up a happy life.
He seems to have infected others with his enthusiasm. Mr. Herbert relates
how, during the same Barmouth summer, he was pressed into the service of
"the science"--as my father called collecting beetles. They took their
daily walks together among the hills behind Barmouth, or boated in the
Mawddach estuary, or sailed to Sarn Badrig to land there at low water, or
went fly-fishing in the Cors-y-gedol lakes. "On these occasions Darwin
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 constitutional walks; but
alas! my powers of discrimination seldom enabled me to secure a prize--the
usual result, on his examining the contents of my bottle, being an
exclamation, 'Well, old Cherbury' (No doubt in allusion to the title of
Lord Herbert of 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." (Panagaeus crux-major.) How enthusiastically must my father have
exulted over this beetle to have impressed its name on a companion so that
he remembers it after half a century! Archdeacon Watkins goes on: "I do
not forget the long and very interesting conversations that we had about
Brazilian scenery and tropical vegetation of all sorts. Nor do I forget
the way and the vehemence with which he rubbed his chin when he got excited
on such subjects, and discoursed eloquently of lianas, orchids, etc."

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

My father formed one of a club for dining once a week, called the Gourmet
(Mr. Herbert mentions the name as 'The Glutton Club.') Club, the members,
besides himself and Mr. Herbert (from whom I quote), being Whitley of St.
John's, now Honorary Canon of Durham (Formerly Reader in Natural Philosophy
at Durham University.); 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 (Brother of Lord Sherbrooke.)
(Now Sherbrooke) of Trinity Hall; and Watkins of Emmanuel, now Archdeacon
of York. The origin of the club's name seems already to have become
involved in obscurity. Mr. Herbert says that it was chosen in derision of
another "set of men who called themselves by a long Greek name signifying
'fond of dainties,' but who falsified their claim to such a designation by
their weekly practice of dining at some roadside inn, six miles from
Cambridge, on mutton chops or beans and bacon." Another old member of the
club tells me that the name arose because the members were given to making
experiments on "birds and beasts which were before unknown to human
palate." He says that hawk and bittern were tried, and that their zeal
broke down over an old brown owl, "which was indescribable." At any rate,
the meetings seemed to have been successful, and to have ended with "a game
of mild vingt-et-un."

Mr. Herbert gives an amusing account of the musical examinations described
by my father in his 'Recollections." Mr. Herbert speaks strongly of his
love of music, and adds, "What gave him the greatest delight was some grand
symphony or overture of Mozart's or Beethoven's, with their full
harmonies.' On one occasion Herbert remembers "accompanying 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

Besides a love of music, he had certainly at this time a love of fine
literature; and Mr. Cameron tells me that he used to read Shakespeare to my
father in his rooms at Christ's, who took much pleasure in it. He also
speaks of his "great liking for first-class line engravings, especially
those of Raphael Morghen and Muller; and he spent hours in the Fitzwilliam
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 Mathematics; 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 imagine, 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 (March 18, 1829.), "to hear
that you are reading divinity. I should like to know what books you are
reading, and your opinions about them; you need not be afraid of preaching
to me prematurely." Mr. Herbert's sketch shows how doubts arose in my
father's mind as to the possibility of his taking Orders. He writes, "We
had an earnest conversation about going into Holy Orders; and I remember
his asking me, with reference to the question put by the Bishop in the
ordination service, 'Do you trust that you are inwardly moved by the Holy
Spirit, etc.,' 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
"cousin/n to the power 2." 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, distance, 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
Delamare Forest. His love of natural history remained strong, and he
became a skilled fancier of many kinds of birds, etc. The index to
'Animals and Plants,' and my father's later correspondence, show how much
help he received from his old College friend.]

Saturday Evening
[September 14, 1828]. (The postmark being Derby seems to show that the
letter was written from his cousin, W.D. Fox's house, Osmaston, near

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 specimens of some insects which I dare say I can
describe. In the first place, I must inform you that I have taken some of
the rarest of the British Insects, and their being found near Barmouth, is
quite unknown to the Entomological world: I think I shall write and inform
some of the crack entomologists.

But now for business. SEVERAL more specimens, if you can procure them
without much trouble, of the following insects:--The violet-black coloured
beetle, found on Craig Storm (The top of the hill immediately behind
Barmouth was called Craig-Storm, a hybrid Cambro-English word.), 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, etc., you will find a small yellowish transparent
beetle, with two or four blackish marks on the back. Under these stones
there are two sorts, one much darker than the other; the lighter-coloured
is that which I want. These last two insects are EXCESSIVELY RARE, and you
will really EXTREMELY oblige me by taking all this trouble pretty soon.
remember me most kindly to Butler, tell him of my success, and I dare say
both of you will easily recognise these insects. I hope his caterpillars
go on well. I think many of the Chrysalises are well worth keeping. I
really am quite ashamed [of] so long a letter all about my own concerns;
but do return good for evil, and send me a long account of all your

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 how
you and Butler were so, I would not think of giving you so much trouble.

Believe me, my dear Herbert,
Yours, most sincerely,
Remember me to all friends.

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

"I waited till to-day for the chance of a letter, but I will wait no
longer. I must most sincerely and cordially congratulate you on having
finished all your labours. I think your place a VERY GOOD one considering
by how much you have beaten many men who had the start of you in reading.
I do so wish I were now in Cambridge (a very selfish wish, however, as I
was not with you in all your troubles and misery), to join in all the glory
and happiness, which dangers gone by can give. How we would talk, walk,
and entomologise! 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 description of happiness that words can

Cambridge, Thursday [February 26, 1829].

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 (Founder of the Chair of Zoology at Oxford.), 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 wonderfully great number of good
insects. On Sunday I spent the day with Holland, who lent me a horse to
ride in the Park with.

On Monday evening I drank tea with Stephens (J.F. Stephens, author of 'A
Manual of British Coleoptera,' 1839, and other works.); his cabinet is more
magnificent than the most zealous entomologist 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

I shot whilst in Shrewsbury a Dundiver (female Goosander, 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.


Believe me,
My dear old Fox,
Most sincerely yours,

[Later on in the Lent term he writes to Fox:--

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

Christ's College [Cambridge], April 1 [1829].

My dear Fox,

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

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


[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 (The death of Fox's sister, Mrs.
Bristowe.), 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 distress I will say nothing more, excepting that I
trust your father and Mrs. Fox bear this blow as well as, under such
circumstances, can be hoped for.

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

Yours most affectionately,

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 conclusion was so unfortunate, that I was
too unhappy to write to you till this week's quiet at home. The thoughts
of Woodhouse 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
(Probably with eczema, from which he often suffered.), and I myself not
very well, that I was unable to leave the room, and on the Monday I
retreated with grief and sorrow back again to Shrewsbury. The first two
days I took some good insects...But the days that I was unable to go out,
Mr. Hope did wonders...and to-day I have received another parcel of insects
from him, such Colymbetes, such Carabi, and such magnificent Elaters (two
species of the bright scarlet sort). I am sure you will properly
sympathise with my unfortunate situation: I am determined I will go over
the 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,

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 me that he was one of the six appointed to make the
examination stricter, and that they were determined this would make it a
very different thing from any previous examination, that from all this I am
sure it will be the very devil to pay amongst all idle men and
entomologists. Erasmus, we expect home in a few weeks' time: he intends
passing next winter in Paris. Be sure you order the two lists of insects
published by Stephens, one printed on both sides, and the other only on
one; you will find them very useful in many points of view.

Dear old Fox, yours,

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 (At Birmingham.) was the most
glorious thing I ever experienced; and as for Malibran, words cannot praise
her enough, she is quite the most charming person I ever saw. We had
extracts out of several of the best operas, acted in character, and you
cannot imagine how very superior it made the concerts to any I ever heard
before. J. de Begnis (De Begnis's Christian name was Giuseppe.) acted 'Il
Fanatico' in character; being dressed up an extraordinary figure gives a
much greater effect to his acting. He kept the whole theatre in roars of
laughter. I liked Madame Blasis very much, but nothing will do after
Malibran, who sung some comic songs, and [a] person's heart must have been
made of stone not to have lost it to her. I lodged very near the
Wedgwoods, and lived entirely with them, which was very pleasant, and had
you been there it would have been quite perfect. It knocked me up most
dreadfully, and I will never attempt again to do two things the same day.


[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

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 favourable--that is
to say, come directly. Holden has been ordained, and drove the Coach out
on the Monday. I do not think he is looking very well. Chapman wants you
and myself to pay him a visit when you come up, and begs to be remembered
to you. You must excuse this short letter, as I have no end more to send
off by this day's post. I long to see you again, and till then,

My dear good old Fox,
Yours most sincerely,

[In August he was in North Wales and wrote to Fox:--

"I have been intending to write every hour for the last fortnight, but
REALLY have had no time. I left Shrewsbury this day fortnight ago, and
have since that time been 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."]

[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 plague of getting up all my subjects is next thing to
intolerable. Henslow is my tutor, and a most ADMIRABLE one he makes; the
hour with him is the pleasantest in the whole day. I think he is quite the
most perfect man I ever met with. I have been to some very pleasant
parties there this term. His good-nature is unbounded.

I am sure you will be sorry to hear poor old Whitley's father is dead. In
a worldly point of view it is of great consequence to him, as it will
prevent him going to the Bar for some time.--(Be sure answer this:) What
did you pay for the iron hoop you had made in Shrewsbury? Because I do not
mean to pay the whole of the Cambridge man's bill. You need not trouble
yourself about the Phallus, as I have bought up both species. I have heard
men say that Henslow 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 commandments
without endangering your throat. I am also still more glad to hear that
your mother continues steadily to improve. I do trust that you will have
no further cause for uneasiness. With every wish for your happiness, my
dear old Fox,

Believe me yours most sincerely,

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; 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 newspaper yesterday, in which you will
see what a good place [10th] I have got in the Poll. As for Christ's, did
you ever see such a college for producing Captains and Apostles? (The
"Captain" is at the head of the "Poll": the "Apostles" are the last twelve
in the Mathematical Tripos.) 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 remembered to you, and so does Whitley. If you will answer
this, I will send as many stupid answers as you can desire.

Believe me, dear Fox,



[In a letter addressed to Captain Fitz-Roy, before the "Beagle" sailed, my
father wrote, "What a glorious day the 4th of November (The "Beagle" did
not however make her final and successful start until December 27.) will be
to me--my second life will then commence, and it shall be as a birthday for
the rest of my life."

The circumstances which led to this second birth--so much more important
than my father then imagined--are connected with his Cambridge life, but
may be more appropriately told in the present chapter. Foremost in the
chain of circumstances which lead 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, etc., throughout his

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

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

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

"AUGUST.--Went on Geological tour (Mentioned by Sedgwick in his preface to
Salter's 'Catalogue of Cambrian and Silurian Fossils,' 1873.) by
Llangollen, Ruthin, Conway, Bangor, and Capel Curig, where I left Professor
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 ('Memoir of the Rev. John Stevens Henslow, M.A.,' by the Rev.
Leonard Jenyns. 8vo. London, 1862, page 51.) 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 entomologists, 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
attainments by simply saying that he knew everything. 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 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, was that his manner to old
and distinguished persons and to the youngest student was exactly the same:
and to all he showed the same winning courtesy. He would receive with
interest the most trifling observation in any branch of natural history;
and however absurd a blunder one might make, he pointed it out so clearly
and kindly, that one left him no way disheartened, but only determined to
be more accurate the next time. In short, no man could be better formed to
win the entire confidence of the young, and to encourage them in their

"His lectures on Botany were universally popular, and as clear as daylight.
So popular were they, that several of the older members of the University
attended successive courses. Once every week he kept open house in the
evening, and all who cared for natural history attended these parties,
which, by thus favouring inter-communication, did the same good in
Cambridge, in a very pleasant manner, as the Scientific Societies do in
London. At these parties many of the most distinguished members of the
University occasionally attended; and when only a few were present, I have
listened to the great men of those days, conversing on all sorts of
subjects, with the most varied and brilliant powers. This was no small
advantage to some of the younger men, as it stimulated their mental
activity and ambition. Two or three times in each session he took
excursions with his botanical class; either a long walk to the habitat of
some rare plant, or in a barge down the river to the fens, or in coaches to
some more distant place, as to Gamlingay, to see the wild lily of the
valley, and to catch on the heath the rare natter-jack. These excursions
have left a delightful impression on my mind. He was, on such occasions,
in as good spirits as a boy, and laughed as heartily as a boy at the
misadventures of those who chased the splendid swallow-tail butterflies
across the broken and treacherous fens. He used to pause every now and
then to lecture on some plant or other object; and something he could tell
us on every insect, shell, or fossil collected, for he had attended to
every branch of natural history. After our day's work we used to dine at
some inn or house, and most jovial we then were. I believe all who joined
these excursions will agree with me that they have left an enduring
impression of delight on our minds.

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

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

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

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

"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 do not
think that I could have venerated him more than I did; but your book has
even exalted his character in my eyes. From turning over the pages of the
latter half, I should think your account would be invaluable to any
clergyman who wished to follow poor dear Henslow's noble example. What an
admirable man he was."

The geological work mentioned in the quotation from my father's pocket-book
was doubtless of importance as giving him some practical experience, and
perhaps of more importance 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

"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 indulged 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 formations a visit. I hope and trust you did your best
to urge him."

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

There too we read of the projected excursion to the Canaries, of which
slight mention occurs in letters to Fox and Henslow.

In April 1831 he writes to Fox: "At present I talk, think, and dream of a
scheme I have almost hatched of going to the Canary Islands. I have long
had a wish of seeing tropical scenery and vegetation, and, according to
Humboldt, 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, etc. 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 continue to fan your Canary ardour. I read and re-read
Humboldt; do you do the same? I am sure nothing will prevent us seeing the
Great Dragon Tree."

Geological work and Teneriffe dreams carried him through the summer, till
on returning from Barmouth for the sacred 1st 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

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

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

"11th.--Went with Captain Fitz-Roy in steamer to Plymouth to see the

"22nd.--Returned to Shrewsbury, passing through Cambridge.

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

"24th--Reached Plymouth.

"October and November.--These months very miserable.

"December 10th.--Sailed, but were obliged to put back.

"21st.--Put to sea again, and were driven back.

"27th.--Sailed from England on our Circumnavigation."

GEORGE PEACOCK (Formerly Dean of Ely, and Lowndean Professor of Astronomy
at Cambridge.) 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 Archipelago. The vessel is fitted out expressly for
scientific purposes, combined with the survey; it will furnish, therefore,
a rare opportunity for a naturalist, and it would be a great misfortune
that it should be lost.

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


The ship sails about the end of September.

Write immediately, and tell me what can be done.

Believe me,
My dear Henslow,
Most truly yours,

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 supposition of your being a FINISHED naturalist, but as amply qualified
for collecting, observing, and noting, anything worthy to be noted in
Natural History. Peacock has the appointment at his disposal, and if he
cannot find a man willing to take the office, the opportunity will probably
be lost. Captain Fitz-Roy wants a man (I understand) more as a companion
than a mere collector, and would not take any one, however good a
naturalist, who was not recommended to him likewise as a GENTLEMAN.
Particulars of salary, etc., I know nothing. The voyage is to last two
years, and if you take plenty of books with you, anything you please may be
done. You will have ample opportunities at command. In short, I suppose
there never was a finer chance for a man of zeal and spirit; Captain Fitz-
Roy is a young man. What I wish you to do is instantly to come and consult
with Peacock (at No. 7 Suffolk Street, Pall Mall East, or else at the
University Club), and learn further particulars. Don't put on any modest
doubts or fears about your disqualifications, for I assure you I think you
are the very man they are in search of; so conceive yourself to be tapped
on the shoulder by your bum-bailiff and affectionate friend,


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


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 opportunity which
should not be lost, and I look forward with great interest to the benefit
which our collections of Natural History may receive from your labours.

The circumstances are these;--

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

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

Believe me, my dear Sir,
Very truly yours,

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 concerned, 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 comfortable if I did not
follow it.

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


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 acquaintance, 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 knew.

Yours most sincerely,
My dear Sir,

I have written to Mr. Peacock, and I mentioned that I have asked you to
send one line in the chance of his not getting my letter. I have also
asked him to communicate with Captain Fitz-Roy. Even if I was to go, my
father disliking would take away all energy, and I should want a good stock
of that. Again I must thank you, it adds a little to the heavy but
pleasant load of gratitude which I owe to you.

[Maer] August 31, [1831].

My dear Father,

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

I have given Uncle Jos (Josiah Wedgwood.) 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 subject again. If your answer should
be yes; I will go directly to Henslow and consult deliberately with him,
and then come to Shrewsbury.

The danger appears to me and all the Wedgwoods not great. The expense
cannot be serious, and the time I do not think, anyhow, would be more
thrown away then 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 uncomfortable.

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

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

Believe me, my dear father,
Your affectionate son,

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

1. Disreputable to my character as a Clergyman hereafter.

2. A wild scheme.

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

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 hereafter.

6. That my accommodations would be most uncomfortable.

7. That you [i.e. Dr. Darwin] should consider it as again changing my

8. That it would be a useless undertaking.]

Maer, August 31, 1831.
[Read this last.] (In C. Darwin's writing.)

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 principal 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 disreputable to his
character as a Clergyman. I should on the contrary think the offer
honourable to him; and the pursuit of Natural History, though certainly not
professional, is very suitable to a clergyman.

2. I hardly know how to meet this objection, but he would have definite
objects upon which to employ himself, and might acquire and strengthen
habits of application, and I should think would be as likely to do so as in
any way in which he is likely to pass the next two years at home.

3. The notion did not occur to me in reading the letters; and on reading
them again with that object in my mind I see no ground for it.

4. I cannot conceive that the Admiralty would send out a bad vessel on
such a service. As to objections to the expedition, 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 appointed by the
Admiralty he will have a claim to be as well accommodated as the vessel
will allow.

7. If I saw Charles now absorbed in professional studies I should probably
think it would not be advisable to interrupt them; but this is not, and, I
think, will not be the case with him. His present pursuit of knowledge is
in the same track as he would have to follow in the expedition.

8. The undertaking would be useless as regards his profession, 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,

Cambridge, Red Lion [September 2], 1831.

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 away.

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.


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 with Henslow, thinking of what is to be done,
and that I find is a great deal. By great good luck I know a man of the
name of Wood, nephew of Lord Londonderry. He is a great friend of Captain
Fitz-Roy, and has written to him about me. I heard a part of Captain Fitz-
Roy's letter, dated some time ago, in which he says: "I have a right good
set of officers, and most of my men have been there before." It seems he
has been there for the last few years; he was then second in command with
the same vessel that he has now chosen. He is only twenty-three years old,
but [has] seen a deal of service, and won the gold medal at Portsmouth.
The Admiralty say his maps are most perfect. He had choice of two vessels,
and he chose the smallest. Henslow will give me letters to all travellers
in town whom he thinks may assist me.

Peacock has sole appointment of Naturalist. The first person offered was
Leonard Jenyns, who was so near accepting it that he packed up his clothes.
But having [a] living, he did not think it right to leave it--to the great
regret of all his family. Henslow himself was not very far from accepting
it, for Mrs. Henslow most generously, and without being asked, gave her
consent; but she looked so miserable that Henslow at once settled the


I am afraid there will be a good deal of expense at first. Henslow is much
against taking many things; it is [the] mistake all young travellers fall
into. I write as if it was settled, but Henslow tells me BY NO MEANS to
make up my mind till I have had long conversations with Captains Beaufort
and Fitz-Roy. Good-bye. You will hear from me constantly. Direct 17
Spring Gardens. TELL NOBODY in Shropshire yet. Be sure not.


I was so tired that evening I was in Shrewsbury that I thanked none of you
for your kindness half so much as I felt.

Love to my father.

The reason I don't want people told in Shropshire: in case I should not
go, it will make it more flat.

17 Spring Gardens, Monday
[September 5, 1831].

I have so little time to spare that I have none to waste in re-writing
letters, so that you must excuse my bringing up the other with me and
altering it. The last letter was written in the morning. In [the] middle
of [the] day, Wood received a letter from Captain Fitz-Roy, which I must
say was MOST straightforward and GENTLEMANLIKE, but so much against my
going, that I immediately gave up the scheme; and Henslow did the same,
saying that he thought Peacock 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. Captain Fitz-Roy is [in] town, and
I have seen him; it is no use attempting to praise him as much as I feel
inclined to do, for you would not believe me. One thing I am certain,
nothing could be more open and kind than he was to me. It seems he had
promised to take a friend with him, who is in office and cannot go, and he
only received the letter five minutes before I came in; and this makes
things much better for me, as want of room was one of Fitz-Roy's greatest
objections. He offers me to go share in everything in his cabin if I like
to come, and every sort of accommodation that I can have, but they will not
be numerous. He says nothing would be so miserable for him as having me
with him if I was uncomfortable, as in a small vessel we must be thrown
together, and thought it his duty to state everything in the worst point of
view. I think I shall go on Sunday to Plymouth to see the vessel.

There is something most extremely attractive in his manners and way of
coming straight to the point. If I live with him, he says I must live
poorly--no wine, and the plainest dinners. The scheme is not certainly so
good as Peacock describes. Captain Fitz-Roy advises me not [to] make up my
mind quite yet, but that, seriously, he thinks it will have much more
pleasure than pain for me. The vessel does not sail till the 10th of
October. It contains sixty men, five or six officers, etc., 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 pounds per annum; and Fitz-
Roy says if I spend, including my outfitting, 500 pounds, it will be beyond
the extreme. But now for still worse news. The round the world is not
CERTAIN, but the chance most excellent. Till that point is decided, I will
not be so. And you may believe, after the many changes I have made, that
nothing but my reason shall decide me.

Fitz-Roy says the stormy sea is exaggerated; that if I do not choose to
remain with them, I can at any time get home to England, so many vessels
sail that way, and that during bad weather (probably two months), if I like
I shall be left in some healthy, safe and nice country; that I shall always
have assistance; that he has many books, all instruments, guns, at my
service; that the fewer and cheaper clothes I take the better. The manner
of proceeding will just suit me. They anchor the ship, and then remain for
a fortnight at a place. I have made Captain Beaufort perfectly 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 writing in [a] great hurry; I do not know whether you
take interest enough to excuse treble postage. I hope I am judging
reasonably, and not through prejudice, about Captain Fitz-Roy; if so, I am
sure we shall suit. I dine with him to-day. I could write [a] great deal
more if I thought you liked it, and I had at present time. There is indeed
a tide in the affairs of man, and I have experienced it, and I had ENTIRELY
given it up till one to-day.

Love to my father. Dearest Susan, good-bye.


London, Monday, [September 5, 1831].

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 inclined, you would say it was absurd, only once seeing him. I think
he really wishes to have me. He offers me to mess with him, and he will
take care I have such room as is possible. But about the cases he says I
must limit myself; but then he thinks like a sailor about size. Captain
Beaufort says I shall be upon the Boards, and then it will only cost me
like other officers. Ship sails 10th of October. Spends a week at Madeira
Islands; and then Rio de Janeiro. They all think most extremely probable,
home by the Indian archipelago; but till that is decided, I will not be so.

What has induced Captain Fitz-Roy to take a better view of the case is,
that Mr. Chester, who was going as a friend, cannot go, so that I shall
have his place in every respect.

Captain Fitz-Roy has [a] good stock of books, many of which were in my
list, and rifles, etc., so that the outfit will be much less expensive than
I supposed.

The vessel will be out three years. I do not object so that my father does
not. On Wednesday I have another interview with Captain Beaufort, and on
Sunday most likely go with Captain Fitz-Roy to Plymouth. So I hope you
will keep on thinking on the subject, and just keep memoranda of what may
strike you. I will call most probably on Mr. Burchell and introduce
myself. I am in lodgings at 17 Spring Gardens. You cannot imagine
anything more pleasant, kind, and open than Captain Fitz-Roy's manners were
to me. I am sure it will be my fault if we do not suit.

What changes I have had. Till one to-day I was building castles in the air
about hunting foxes the Shropshire, now llamas in South America.

There is indeed a tide in the affairs of men. If you see Mr. Wood,
remember me very kindly to him.

My dear Henslow,
Your most sincere friend,

Excuse this letter in such a hurry.

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. (He had misunderstood a letter of Fox's
as implying a charge of falsehood.) 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. One thing more--the sending IMMEDIATELY the insects, on my honour,
was an unfortunate coincidence. I forgot how you naturally would take
them. When you look at them now, I hope no unkindly feelings will rise in
your mind, and that you will believe that you have always had in me a
sincere, and I will add, an obliged friend. The very many pleasant minutes
that we spent together in Cambridge rose like departed spirits in judgment
against me. May we have many more such, will be one of my last wishes in
leaving England. God bless you, dear old Fox. May you always be happy.

Yours truly,

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

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 my commissions. Tell Nancy to make me some
twelve instead of eight shirts. Tell Edward to send me up in my carpet-bag
(he can slip the key in the bag tied to some string), my slippers, a pair
of lightish walking-shoes, my Spanish books, my new microscope (about six
inches long and three or four deep), which must have cotton stuffed inside;
my geological compass; my father knows that; a little book, if I have got
it in my bedroom--'Taxidermy.' Ask my father if he thinks there would be
any objection to my taking arsenic for a little time, as my hands are not
quite well, and I have always observed that if I once get them well, and
change my manner of living about the same time, they will generally remain
well. What is the dose? Tell Edward my gun is dirty. What is Erasmus's
direction? Tell me if you think there is time to write and 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 yesterday. 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 pounds!! 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

We stop at Teneriffe. His object is to stop at as many places as possible.
He takes out twenty chronometers, and it will be a "sin" not to settle the
longitude. He tells me to get it down in writing at the Admiralty that I
have the free choice to leave as soon and whenever I like. I dare say you
expect I shall turn back at the Madeira; if I have a morsel of stomach
left, I won't give up. Excuse my so often troubling and writing: the one
is of great utility, the other a great amusement to me. Most likely I
shall write to-morrow. Answer by return of post. Love to my father,
dearest Susan.


As my instruments want altering, send my things by the 'Oxonian' the same

London, Friday Morning, September 9, 1831.

My dear Susan,

I have just received the parcel. I suppose it was not delivered yesterday
owing to the Coronation. I am very much obliged to my father, and
everybody else. Everything is done quite right. I suppose by this time
you have received my letter written next day, and I hope will send off the
things. My affairs remain in statu quo. Captain Beaufort says I am on the
books for victuals, and he thinks I shall have no difficulty about my
collections when I come home. But he is too deep a fish for me to make him
out. The only thing that now prevents me finally making up my mind, is the
want of certainty about the South Sea Islands; although morally I have no
doubt we should go there whether or no it is put in the instructions.
Captain Fitz-Roy says I do good by plaguing Captain Beaufort, it stirs him
up with a long pole. Captain Fitz-Roy says he is sure he has interest
enough (particularly if this Administration is not everlasting--I shall
soon turn Tory!), anyhow, even when out, to get the ship ordered home by
whatever track he likes. From what Wood says, I presume the Dukes of
Grafton and Richmond interest themselves about him. By the way, Wood has
been of the greatest use to me; and I am sure his personal introduction of
me inclined Captain Fitz-Roy to have me.

To explain things from the very beginning: Captain Fitz-Roy first wished
to have a Naturalist, and then he seems to have taken a sudden horror of
the chances of having somebody he should not like on board the vessel. He
confesses his letter to Cambridge was to throw cold water on the scheme. I
don't think we shall quarrel about politics, although Wood (as might be
expected from a Londonderry) solemnly warned Fitz-Roy that I was a Whig.
Captain Fitz-Roy was before Uncle Jos., he said, "now your friends will
tell you a sea-captain is the greatest brute on the face of the creation.
I do not know how to help you in this case, except by hoping you will give
me a trial." How one does change! I actually now wish the voyage was
longer before we touch land. I feel my blood run cold at the quantity I
have to do. Everybody seems ready to assist me. The Zoological want to
make me a corresponding member. All this I can construct without crossing
the Equator. But one friend is quite invaluable, viz., a Mr. Yarrell, a
stationer, and excellent naturalist. (William Yarrell, well-known for his
'History of British Birds' and 'History of British Fishes,' was born in
1784. He inherited from his 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 honourable character, and was a valued office-bearer
of several of the learned Societies.) He goes to the shops with me and
bullies about prices (not that I yet buy): hang me if I give 60 pounds for

Yesterday all the shops were shut, so that I could do nothing; and I was
child enough to give 1 pound 1 shilling for an excellent seat to see the
Procession. (The Coronation of William IV.) And it certainly was very
well worth seeing. I was surprised that any quantity of gold could make a
long row of people quite glitter. It was like only what one sees in
picture-books of Eastern processions. The King looked very well, and
seemed popular, but there was very little enthusiasm; so little that I can
hardly think there will be a coronation this time fifty years.

The Life Guards pleased me as much as anything--they are quite magnificent;
and it is beautiful to see them clear a crowd. You think that they must
kill a score at least, and apparently they really hurt nobody, but most
deucedly frighten them. Whenever a crowd was so dense that the people were
forced off the causeway, one of these six-feet gentlemen, on a black horse,
rode straight at the place, making his horse rear very high, and fall on
the thickest spot. You would suppose men were made of sponge to see them
shrink away.

In the evening there was an illumination, and much grander than the one on
the Reform Bill. All the principal streets were crowded just like a race-
ground. Carriages generally being six abreast, and I will venture to say
not going one mile an hour. The Duke of Northumberland learnt a lesson
last time, for his house was very grand; much more so than the other great
nobility, and in much better taste; every window in his house was full of
straight lines of brilliant lights, and from their extreme regularity and
number had a beautiful effect. The paucity of invention was very striking,
crowns, anchors, and "W.R.'s" were repeated in endless succession. The
prettiest were gas-pipes with small holes; they were almost painfully
brilliant. I have written so much about the Coronation, that I think you
will have no occasion to read the "Morning Herald".

For about the first time in my life I find London very pleasant; hurry,
bustle, and noise are all in unison with my feelings. And I have plenty to
do in spare moments. I work at Astronomy, as I suppose it would astound a
sailor if one did not know how to find Latitude and Longitude. I am now
going to Captain Fitz-Roy, and will keep [this] letter open till evening
for anything that may occur. I will give you one proof of Fitz-Roy being a
good officer--all the officers 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, etc. etc. 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
excellent rifle for 50 pounds, there is a saving; a good telescope, with
compass, 5 pounds, and these are nearly the only expensive instruments I
shall want. Captain Fitz-Roy has everything. I never saw so (what I
should call, he says not) extravagant a man, as regards himself, but as
economical towards me. How he did order things! His fire-arms will cost
400 pounds at least. I found the carpet bag when I arrived all right, and
much obliged. I do not think I shall take any arsenic; shall send
partridges to Mr. Yarrell; much obliged. Ask Edward to BARGAIN WITH
Clemson to make for my gun--TWO SPARE hammers or cocks, two main-springs,
two sere-springs, four nipples or plugs--I mean one for each barrel, except
nipples, of which there must be two for each, all of excellent quality, and
set about them immediately; tell Edward to make inquiries about prices. I
go on Sunday per packet to Plymouth, shall stay one or two days, then
return, and hope to find a letter from you; a few days in London; then
Cambridge, Shrewsbury, London, 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 expedition will suit me. Unasked, he said
Fitz-Roy's temper was perfect. He sends his own son with him as
midshipman. The key of my microscope was forgotten; it is of no
consequence. Love to all.


17 Spring Gardens (and here I shall remain till I start)
[September 19, 1831].

My dear Fox,

I returned from my expedition to see the "Beagle" at Plymouth 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 plans.


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 considerable risk
to one's life and health, and the leaving for so very long a time so many
people whom I dearly love, is oftentimes a feeling so painful that it
requires all my resolution to overcome it. But everything is now settled,
and before the 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, etc., etc. 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 1st of October, and
start for Plymouth on the 9th.

And now for the principal part of my letter. I do not know how to tell you
how very kind I feel your offer of coming to see me before I leave England.
Indeed I should like it very much; but I must tell you decidedly that I
shall have very little time to spare, and that little time will be almost
spoilt by my having so much to think about; and secondly, I can hardly
think it worth your while to leave your parish for such a cause. But I
shall never forget such generous kindness. Now I know you will act just as
you think right; but do not come up for my sake. Any time is the same for
me. I think from this letter you will know as much of my plans as I do
myself, and will judge accordingly the where and when to write to me.
Every now and then I have moments of glorious enthusiasm, when I think of
the date and cocoa-trees, the palms and ferns so lofty and beautiful,
everything 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,

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
attending to the name. But I have now procured some from Jones, which
appears very good, and I will send it this evening by the mail. You will
be surprised at not seeing me 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 perfect fever. What a
glorious day the 4th of November will be to me! My second life will then
commence, and it shall be as a birthday for the rest of my life.

Believe me, dear Fitz-Roy,
Yours most sincerely,

MONDAY.--I hope I have not put you to much inconvenience by ordering the
room in readiness.

Devonport, November 15, 1831.

My dear Henslow,

The orders are come down from the Admiralty, and everything is finally
settled. We positively sail the last day of this month, and I think before
that time the vessel will be ready. She looks most beautiful, even a
landsman must admire her. WE all think her the most perfect vessel ever
turned out of the Dockyard. One thing is certain, no vessel has been
fitted out so expensively, and with so much care. Everything that can be
made so is of mahogany, and nothing can exceed the neatness and beauty of
all the accommodations. The instructions 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 Chronometers, viz., twenty-
four, all very good ones. In short, everything is well, and I have only
now to pray for the sickness to moderate its fierceness, and I shall do
very well. Yet I should not call it one of the very best opportunities for
natural history that has ever occurred. The absolute want of room is an
evil that nothing can surmount. I think L. Jenyns did 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
freshmen, that is in their manners, in everything else widely different.
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. My time passes away very pleasantly. I know one or two
pleasant people, foremost of whom is Mr. Thunder-and-lightning Harris
(William Snow Harris, the Electrician.), whom I dare say you have heard of.
My chief employment is to go on board the "Beagle", and try to look as much
like a sailor as I can. I have no evidence of having taken in man, woman
or child.

I am going to ask you to do one more commission, and I trust it will be the
last. When I was in Cambridge, I wrote to Mr. Ash, asking him to send my
College account to my father, after having subtracted about 30 pounds 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,

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 you may guess what a desperate state
of confusion we are all in. If you were to hear the various exclamations
of the officers, you would suppose we had scarcely had a week's notice. I
am just in the same way taken all ABACK, and in such a bustle I hardly know
what to do. The number of things to be done is infinite. I look forward
even to sea-sickness with something like satisfaction, anything must be
better than this state of anxiety. I am very much obliged for your last
kind and affectionate letter. I always like advice from you, and no one
whom I have the luck to know is more capable of giving it than yourself.
Recollect, when you write, that I am a sort of protege of yours, and that
it is your bounden duty to lecture me.

I will now give you my direction; it is at first, Rio; but if you will send
me a letter on the first Tuesday (when the packet sails) in February,
directed to Monte Video, it will give me very great pleasure; I shall so
much enjoy hearing a little Cambridge news. Poor dear old Alma Mater! I
am a very worthy son in as far as affection goes. I have little more to
write about...I cannot end this without telling you how cordially I feel
grateful for the kindness you have shown me during my Cambridge life. Much
of the pleasure and utility which I may have derived from it is owing to
you. I long for the time when we shall again meet, and till then believe
me, my dear Henslow,

Your affectionate and obliged friend,

Remember me most kindly to those who take any interest in me.



"There is a natural good-humoured energy in his letters just like
himself."--From a letter of Dr. R.W. Darwin's to Prof. Henslow.

[The object of the "Beagle" voyage is briefly described in my father's
'Journal of Researches,' page 1, as being "to complete the Survey of
Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, commenced under Captain King in 1826 to
1830; to survey the shores of Chile, Peru, and some island in the Pacific;
and to carry a chain of chronometrical measurements round the world."

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 nicknamed "coffins," from their liability to
go down in severe weather. They were very "deep-waisted," that is, their
bulwarks were high in proportion to their size, so that a heavy sea
breaking over them might be highly dangerous. Nevertheless, she lived
through the five years' work, in the most stormy regions in the world,
under Commanders Stokes and Fitz-Roy, without a serious accident. When re-
commissioned in 1831 for her second voyage, she was found (as I learn from
Admiral Sir James Sulivan) to be so rotten that she had practically to be
rebuilt, and it was this that caused the long delay in refitting. The
upper deck was raised, making her much safer in heavy weather, and giving
her far more comfortable 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 seamanship 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, dressing, and
sleeping; the hammock being left hanging over his head by day, when the sea
was at all rough, that he might lie on it with a book in his hand when he
could not any longer sit at the table. His only stowage for clothes being
several small drawers in the corner, reaching from deck to deck; the top
one being taken out when the hammock was hung up, without which there was
not length for it, so then the foot-clews took the place of the top drawer.
For specimens he had a very small cabin under the forecastle."

Yet of this narrow room he wrote enthusiastically, September 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 companion
most luckily, I think, will turn out to be the officer whom I shall like
best. Captain Fitz-Roy says he will take care that one corner is so fitted
up that I shall be comfortable in it and shall consider it my home, but
that also I shall have the run of his. My cabin is the drawing one; and in
the middle is a large table, on which we two sleep in hammocks. But for
the first two months there will be no drawing to be done, so that it will
be quite a luxurious room, and good deal larger than the Captain's cabin."

My father used to say that it was the absolute necessity of tidiness in the
cramped space 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; i.e., taking care of
the minutes.

Sir James Sulivan tells me that the chief fault in the outfit of the
expedition was the want of a second smaller vessel to act as tender. This
want was so much felt by Captain Fitz-Roy that he hired two decked boats to
survey the coast of Patagonia, at a cost of 1100 pounds, 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 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-maker to look after the chronometers.
(Either one or both were on the books for victuals.) 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, etc. At sea, when the weather is calm,
I work at marine animals, with which the whole ocean abounds. If there is
any sea up I am either sick or contrive to read some voyage or travels. At
one we dine. You shore-going people are lamentably mistaken about the
manner of living on board. We have never yet (nor shall we) dined off salt
meat. Rice and peas and calavanses are excellent vegetables, and, with
good bread, who could want more? Judge Alderson could not be more
temperate, as nothing but water comes on the table. At five we have tea.
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, two midshipmen, master's
mate, a volunteer (1st class), purser, carpenter, clerk, boatswain, eight
marines, thirty-four seamen, and six boys.

There are not now (1882) many survivors of my father's old ship-mates.
Admiral Mellersh, Mr. Hammond, and Mr. Philip King, of the Legislative
Council of Sydney, and Mr. Usborne, are among the number. Admiral Johnson
died almost at the same time as my father.

He retained to the last a most pleasant recollection of the voyage of the
"Beagle", and of the friends he made on board her. To his children their
names were familiar, from his many stories of the voyage, and we caught his
feeling of friendship for many who were to us nothing more than names.

It is pleasant to know how affectionately his old companions remembered

Sir James Sulivan remained, throughout my father's lifetime, one of his
best and truest friends. He writes:--"I can confidently express my belief
that during the five years in the "Beagle", he was never known to be out of
temper, or to say one unkind or hasty word OF or TO any one. You will
therefore readily understand how this, combined with the admiration of his
energy and ability, led to our giving him the name of 'the dear old
Philosopher.'" (His other nickname was "The Flycatcher." I have heard my
father tell how he overheard the boatswain of the "Beagle" showing another
boatswain over the ship, and pointing out the officers: "That's our first
lieutenant; that's our doctor; that's our flycatcher.") 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
was sent on two or three occasions away in a boat with him on some of his
scientific excursions, and always looked forward to these trips with great
pleasure, an anticipation that, unlike many others, was always realised. I
think he was the only man I ever knew against whom I never heard a word
said; and as people when shut up in a ship for five years are apt to get
cross with each other, that is saying a good deal. 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."

Admiral Stokes, Mr. King, Mr. Usborne, and Mr. Hamond, 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 himself 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 ('Voyage of the
"Adventure" and "Beagle",' vol. ii. page 21.) 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 expedition.

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 place."

A sort of halo of sanctity was given to my father by the fact of his dining
in the Captain's cabin, so that the midshipmen used at first to call him
"Sir," a formality, however, which did not prevent his becoming fast
friends with the younger officers. He wrote about the year 1861 or 1862 to
Mr. P.G. King, M.L.C., Sydney, who, as before stated, was a midshipman on
board the "Beagle":--"The remembrance of old days, when we used to sit and
talk on the booms of the "Beagle", will always, to the day of my death,
make me glad to hear of your happiness and prosperity." Mr. King describes
the pleasure my father seemed to take "in pointing out to me as a youngster
the delights of the tropical nights, with their balmy breezes eddying out
of the sails above us, and the sea lighted up by the passage of the ship
through the never-ending streams of phosphorescent animalculae."

It has been assumed that his ill-health in later years was due to his
having suffered so much from sea-sickness. This he did not himself
believe, but rather ascribed his bad health to the hereditary fault which
came out as gout in some of the past generations. I am not quite clear as
to how much he actually suffered from sea-sickness; my impression is
distinct that, according to his own memory, he was not actually ill after
the first three weeks, but constantly uncomfortable when the vessel pitched
at all heavily. But, judging from his letters, and from the evidence of
some of the officers, it would seem that in later years he forgot the
extent of the discomfort from which he suffered. Writing June 3, 1836,
from the Cape of Good Hope, he says: "It is a lucky thing for me that the
voyage is drawing to its close, for I positively 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'

Mr. A.B. Usborne writes, "He was a dreadful sufferer from sea-sickness, and
at times, when I have been officer of the watch, and reduced the sails,
making the ship more easy, and thus relieving him, I have been pronounced
by him to be 'a good officer,' and he would resume his microscopic
observations in the poop cabin." The amount of work that he got through on
the "Beagle" shows that he was habitually in full vigour; he had, however,
one severe illness, in South America, when he was received into the house
of an 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 attack.

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 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 Captain 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 CIRCUMSTANCE IN MY
LIFE that the chance afforded by your offer of taking a Naturalist fell on
me. I often have the most vivid and delightful pictures of what I saw on
board the 'Beagle' pass before my eyes. These recollections, and what I
learnt on Natural History, I would not exchange for twice ten thousand a

In selecting the following series of letters, I have been guided by the
wish to give as much personal detail as possible. I have given only a few
scientific letters, to illustrate the way in which he worked, and how he
regarded his own results. In his 'Journal of Researches' he gives
incidentally some idea of his personal character; the letters given in the
present chapter serve to amplify in fresher and more spontaneous words that
impression of his personality which the 'Journal' has given to so many

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 begins when you are so exhausted that
a little exertion makes a feeling of faintness come on. I found nothing
but lying in my hammock did me any good. I must especially except your
receipt of raisins, which is the only food that the stomach will bear.

On the 4th of January we were not many miles from Madeira, but as there was
a heavy sea running, and the island lay to windward, it was not thought
worth while to beat up to it. It afterwards has turned out it was lucky we
saved ourselves the trouble. I was much too sick even to get up to see the
distant outline. On the 6th, in the evening, we sailed into the harbour of
Santa Cruz. I now first felt even moderately well, and I was picturing to
myself all the delights of fresh fruits growing in beautiful valleys, and
reading Humboldt's descriptions of the island's glorious views, when
perhaps you may nearly guess at our disappointment, when a small pale man
informed us we must perform a strict quarantine of twelve days. There was
a death-like stillness in the ship till the Captain cried "up jib," and we
left this long-wished for 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. TELL EYTON
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 delightful and clear, that the sky and water
together made a picture. On the 16th we arrived at Port Praya, the capital
of the Cape de Verds, and there we remained twenty-three days, viz., till
yesterday, the 7th of February. The time has flown away most delightfully,
indeed nothing can be pleasanter; exceedingly busy, and that business both
a duty and a great delight. I do not believe I have spent one half-hour
idly since leaving Teneriffe. St. Jago has afforded me an exceedingly rich
harvest in several branches of Natural History. I find the descriptions
scarcely worth anything of many of the commoner animals that inhabit the
Tropics. I allude, of course, to those of the lower classes.

Geologising in a volcanic country is most delightful; besides the interest
attached to itself, it leads you into most beautiful and retired spots.
Nobody but a person fond of Natural History can imagine the pleasure of
strolling under cocoa-nuts in a thicket of bananas and coffee-plants, and
an endless number of wild flowers. And this island, that has given me so
much instruction and delight, is reckoned the most uninteresting place that
we perhaps shall touch at during our voyage. It certainly is generally
very barren, but the valleys are more exquisitely beautiful, from the very
contrast. It is utterly useless to say anything about the scenery; it
would be as profitable to explain to a blind man colours, as to a person
who has not been out of Europe, the total dissimilarity of a tropical view.
Whenever I enjoy anything, I always either look forward to writing it down,
either in my log-book (which increases in bulk), or in a letter; so you
must excuse raptures, and those raptures badly expressed. I find my
collections are increasing wonderfully, and from Rio I think I shall be
obliged to send a cargo home.

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
surprise that a ship is singularly comfortable for all sorts of work.
Everything is so close at hand, and being cramped makes one so methodical,
that in the end I have been a gainer. I already have got to look at going
to sea as a regular quiet place, like going back to home after staying away
from it. In short, I find a ship a very comfortable house, with everything
you want, and if it was not for sea-sickness the whole world would be
sailors. I do not think there is much danger of Erasmus setting the
example, but in case there should be, he may rely upon it he does not know
one-tenth of the sufferings of sea-sickness.

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
different tracks. I never in my life met with a man who could endure
nearly so great a share of fatigue. He works incessantly, and when
apparently not employed, he is thinking. If he does not kill himself, he
will during this voyage do a wonderful 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.


About 280 miles from Bahia. On the 10th 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 meeting
with any homeward-bound vessels, but I suppose [at] Bahia we certainly
shall be able to write to England. Since writing the first part of [this]
letter nothing has occurred except crossing the Equator, and being shaved.
This most disagreeable operation consists in having your face rubbed with
paint and tar, which forms a lather for a saw which represents the razor,
and then being half drowned in a sail filled with salt water. About 50
miles north of the line we touched at the rocks of St. Paul; this little
speck (about 1/4 of a mile across) in the Atlantic has seldom been visited.
It is totally barren, but is covered by hosts of birds; they were so unused
to men that we found we could kill plenty with stones and sticks. After
remaining some hours on the island, we returned on board with the boat
loaded with our prey. From this we went to Fernando Noronha, a small
island where the [Brazilians] send their exiles. The landing there was
attended with so much difficulty owing [to] a heavy surf that the Captain
determined to sail the next day after arriving. My one day on shore was
exceedingly interesting, the whole island is one single wood so matted
together by creepers that it is very difficult to move out of the beaten
path. I find the Natural History of all these unfrequented spots most
exceedingly interesting, especially the geology. I have written this much
in order to save time at Bahia.

Decidedly the most striking thing in the Tropics is the novelty of the
vegetable forms. Cocoa-nuts could well be imagined from drawings, if you
add to them a graceful lightness which no European tree partakes of.
Bananas and plantains 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 luxuriant
villages. Whilst viewing such scenes, one feels the impossibility that any
description would come near the mark, much less be overdrawn.


Bahia, or San Salvador. I arrived at this place on the 28th of February,
and am now writing this letter after having in real earnest strolled in the
forests of the new world. No person could imagine anything so beautiful as
the ancient town of Bahia, it is fairly embosomed in a luxuriant wood of
beautiful trees, and situated on a steep bank, and overlooks the calm
waters of the great bay of All Saints. The houses are white and lofty,
and, from the windows being narrow and long, have a very light and elegant
appearance. Convents, porticos, and public buildings, vary the uniformity
of the houses; the bay is scattered over with large ships; in short, and
what can be said more, it is one of the finest views in the Brazils. But
the exquisite glorious pleasure of walking amongst such flowers, and such
trees, cannot be comprehended but by those who have experienced it.
Although in so low a latitude the locality is not disagreeably hot, but at
present it is very damp, for it is the rainy season. I find the climate as
yet agrees admirably with me; it makes me long to live quietly for some
time in such a country. If you really want to have [an idea] of tropical
countries, study Humboldt. Skip the scientific parts, and commence after
leaving Teneriffe. My feelings amount to admiration the more I read him.
Tell Eyton (I find I am writing to my sisters!) how exceedingly I enjoy
America, and that I am sure it will be a great pity if he does not make a

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 sounding
the Albrolhos shoals. Tell Eyton as far as my experience goes let him
study Spanish, French, drawing, and Humboldt. I do sincerely hope to hear
of (if not to see him) in South America. I look forward to the letters in
Rio--till each one is acknowledged, mention its date in the next.

We have beat all the ships in manoeuvring, so much so that the commanding
officer says, we need not follow his example; because we do everything
better than his great ship. I begin to take great interest in naval
points, more especially now, as I find they all say we are the No. 1 in
South America. I suppose the Captain is a most excellent officer. It was
quite glorious to-day how we beat the "Samarang" in furling sails. It is
quite a new thing for a "sounding ship" to beat a regular man-of-war; and
yet the "Beagle" is not at all a particular ship. Erasmus will clearly
perceive it when he hears that in the night I have actually sat down in the
sacred precincts of the quarter deck. You must excuse these queer letters,
and recollect they are generally written in the evening after my day's
work. I take more pains over my log-book, so that eventually you will have
a good account of all the places I visit. Hitherto the voyage has answered
ADMIRABLY to me, and yet I am now more fully aware of your wisdom in
throwing 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 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,

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
collections go on admirably in almost every branch. As for insects, I
trust I shall send a host of undescribed species to England. I believe
they have no small ones in the collections, and here this morning I have
taken minute Hydropori, Noterus, Colymbetes, Hydrophilus, Hydrobius,
Gromius, etc., etc., as specimens of fresh-water beetles. I am entirely
occupied with land animals, as the beach is only sand. Spiders and the
adjoining tribes have perhaps given me, from their novelty, the most
pleasure. I think I have already taken several new genera.

But Geology carries the day: it is like the pleasure of gambling.
Speculating, on first arriving, what the rocks may be, I often mentally cry
out 3 to 1 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 views more
gorgeous than even Claude ever imagined, I enjoy a delight which none but
those who have experienced it can understand. If it is to be done, it must
be by studying Humboldt. At our ancient snug breakfasts, at Cambridge, I
little thought that the wide Atlantic would ever separate us; but it is a
rare privilege that with the body, the feelings and memory are not divided.
On the contrary, the pleasantest scenes in my life, many of which have been
in Cambridge, rise from the contrast of the present, the more vividly in my
imagination. Do you think any diamond beetle will ever give me so much
pleasure as our old friend crux major?...It is one of my most constant
amusements to draw pictures of the past; and in them I often see you and
poor little Fran. Oh, Lord, and then old Dash, poor thing! Do you
recollect how you all tormented me about his beautiful tail?

...Think when you are picking insects off a hawthorn-hedge on a fine May
day (wretchedly cold, I have no doubt), think of me collecting amongst
pine-apples and orange-trees; whilst staining your fingers with dirty
blackberries, think and be envious of ripe oranges. This is a proper piece
of bravado, for I would walk through many a mile of sleet, snow, or rain to
shake you by the hand. My dear old Fox, God bless you. Believe me,

Yours affectionately,

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 interesting, and I believe quite new;
there are some facts on a large scale of upraised coast (which is an
excellent epoch for all the volcanic rocks to date from), that would
interest Mr. Lyell.

One great source of perplexity to me is an utter ignorance whether I note
the right facts, and whether they are of sufficient importance to interest
others. In the one thing collecting 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 accurately a Caryopyllia, 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
possessed a most marvellous power of changing its colours, equalling 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 the invertebrate animals will be my chief object of
pursuit through the whole voyage.

We then sailed for Bahia, and touched at the rock of St. Paul. This is a
serpentine formation. Is it not the only island in the Atlantic which is
not volcanic? We likewise stayed a few hours at Fernando Noronha; a
tremendous surf was running so that a boat was swamped, and the Captain
would not wait. I find my life on board when we 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, etc., have been invaluable. I am well off in books, the
'Dictionnaire 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

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 "Beagle" has gone back to
Bahia, and will pick me up on its return. There is a most important error
in the longitude of South America, to settle which this second trip has
been undertaken. Our chronometers, at least sixteen of them, are going
superbly; none on record have ever gone at all like them.

A few days after arriving I started on an expedition of 150 miles to Rio
Macao, which lasted eighteen days. Here I first saw a tropical forest in
all its sublime grander--nothing but the reality can give any idea how
wonderful, how magnificent the scene is. If I was to specify any one thing
I should give the pre-eminence to the host of parasitical plants. Your
engraving is exactly true, but underrates rather than exaggerates 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, etc. etc. It
is exceedingly 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 'Dictionary 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 formation of Brazils. At Bahia the pegmatite and
gneiss in beds had the same direction, as observed by Humboldt, prevailing
over Columbia, distant 1300 miles--is it not 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 unintelligible letter, and believe me, my dear Henslow, with
the warmest feelings of respect and friendship,

Yours affectionately,

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 contrast 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 the country, the utility of the produce, and more especially the
happiness of the people living with them. Change the English labourer into
a poor slave, working for another, and you will hardly recognise the same
view. I am sure you will be glad to hear how very well every part (Heaven
forefend, except sea-sickness) of the expedition has answered. We have
already seen Teneriffe and the Great Canary; St. Jago where I spent three
most delightful weeks, revelling in the delights of first naturalising a
tropical volcanic island, and besides other islands, the two celebrated
ports in the Brazils, viz. Bahia and Rio.

I was in my hammock till we arrived at the Canaries, and I shall never
forget the sublime impression the first view of Teneriffe made on my mind.
The first arriving into warm weather was most luxuriously pleasant; the
clear blue sky of the Tropics was no common change after those accursed
south-west gales at Plymouth. About the Line it became weltering hot. We
spent one day at St. Paul's, a little group of rocks about a quarter of a
mile in circumference, peeping up in the midst of the Atlantic. There was
such a scene here. Wickham (1st Lieutenant) and I were the only two who
landed with guns and geological hammers, etc. The birds by myriads were
too close to shoot; we then tried stones, but at last, proh pudor! my
geological hammer was the instrument of death. We soon loaded the boat
with birds and eggs. Whilst we were so engaged, the men in the boat were
fairly fighting with the sharks for such magnificent fish as you could not
see in the London market. Our boat would have made a fine subject for
Snyders, such a medley of game it contained. We have been here ten weeks,
and shall now start for Monte Video, when I look forward to many a gallop
over the Pampas. I am ashamed of sending such a scrambling letter, but if
you were to see the heap of letters on my table you would understand the

I am glad to hear music flourishes so well in Cambridge; but it [is] as
barbarous to talk to me of "celestial concerts" as to a person in Arabia of
cold water. In a voyage of this sort, if one gains many new and great
pleasures, on the other side the loss is not inconsiderable. How should
you like to be suddenly debarred from seeing every person and place, which
you have ever known and loved, for five years? I do assure you I am
occasionally "taken aback" by this reflection; and then for man or ship it
is not so easy to right again. Remember me most sincerely to the remnant
of most excellent fellows whom I have the good luck to know in Cambridge--I
mean Whitley and Watkins. Tell Lowe I am even beneath his contempt. I can
eat salt beef and musty biscuits for dinner. See what a fall man may come

My direction for the next year and a half will be Monte Video.

God bless you, my very dear old Herbert. May you always be happy and
prosperous is my most cordial wish.

Yours affectionately,

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 countries we visit the entire newness and
difference from England only serves to make more keen the recollection of
its scenes and delights. In consequence the pleasure of thinking of, and
hearing from one's former friends, does indeed become great. Recollect
this, and some long winter's evening sit down and send me a long account of
yourself and our friends; both what you have, and what [you] intend doing;
otherwise in three or four more years when I return you will be all
strangers to me. Considering how many months have passed, we have not in
the "Beagle" made much way round the world. Hitherto everything has well
repaid the necessary trouble and loss of comfort. We stayed three weeks at
the Cape de Verds; it was no ordinary pleasure rambling over the plains of
lava under a tropical sun, but when I first entered on and beheld the
luxuriant vegetation in Brazil, it was realizing the visions in the
'Arabian Nights.' The brilliancy of the scenery throws one into a delirium
of delight, and a beetle hunter is not likely soon to awaken from it, when
whichever way he turns fresh treasures meet his eye. At Rio de Janeiro
three months passed away like so many weeks. I made a most delightful
excursion during this time of 150 miles into the country. I stayed at an
estate which is the last of the cleared ground, behind is one vast
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 everything which is to be seen. It is not
at all unlike Cambridgeshire, only that every hedge, tree and hill must be
leveled, 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 central 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 jacket would disfigure an
angel. Believe me, my dear Watkins, with the warmest feelings of

Ever yours,

April 11, 1833.

My dear Henslow,

We are now running up from the Falkland Islands to the Rio Negro (or
Colorado). The "Beagle" will proceed to Monte Video; but if it can be
managed I intend staying at the former place. It is now some months since
we have been at a civilised port; nearly all this time has been spent in
the most southern part of Tierra del Fuego. It is a detestable place;
gales succeed gales with such short intervals that it is difficult to do
anything. We were twenty-three days off Cape Horn, and could by no means
get to the westward. The last and final gale before we gave up the attempt
was unusually severe. A sea stove one of the boats, and there was so much
water on the decks that every place was afloat; nearly all the paper for
drying plants is spoiled, and half of this curious collection.

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 kingdom, the former character prevails; I have in
consequence not added much to my collections.

The Geology of this part of Tierra del Fuego was, as indeed every place is,
to me very interesting. The country is non-fossiliferous, and a common-
place succession of granitic rocks and slates; attempting to make out the
relation of cleavage, strata, etc., etc., was my chief amusement. The
mineralogy, however, of some of the rocks will, I think, be curious from
their resemblance to those of volcanic origin.


After leaving Tierra del Fuego we sailed to the Falklands. I forgot to
mention the fate of the Fuegians whom we took back to their country. They
had become entirely European in their habits and wishes, so much so that
the younger one had forgotten his own language, and their countrymen paid
but very little attention to them. We built houses for them 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

...When I am sea-sick and miserable, it is one of my highest consolations
to picture the future when we again shall be pacing together the roads
round Cambridge. That day is a weary long way off. We have another cruise
to make to Tierra del Fuego next summer, and then our voyage round the
world will really commence. Captain Fitz-Roy has purchased a large
schooner of 170 tons. In many respects it will be a great advantage having
a consort--perhaps it may somewhat shorten our cruise, which I most
cordially hope it may. I trust, however, that the Coral Reefs and various
animals of the Pacific may keep up my resolution. Remember me most kindly
to Mrs. Henslow and all other friends; I am a true lover of Alma Mater and
all its inhabitants.

Believe me, my dear Henslow,
Your affectionate and most obliged friend,

Maldonado, Rio Plata, May 22, 1833.

...The following business piece is to my father. Having a servant of my
own would be a really great addition to my comfort. For these two reasons:
as at present the Captain has appointed one of the men always to be with
me, but I do not think it just thus to take a seaman out of the ship; and,
secondly, when at sea I am rather badly off for any one to wait on me. The
man is willing to be my servant, and all the expenses would be under 60
pounds 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 200 pounds per annum; so that,
it being hopeless (from time) to write for permission, I have come to the
conclusion that you would allow me this expense. But I have not yet
resolved to ask the Captain, and the chances are even that he would not be
willing to have an additional man in the ship. I have mentioned this
because for a long time I have been thinking about it.


I have just received a bundle more letters. I do not know how to thank you
all sufficiently. One from Catherine, February 8th, another from Susan,
March 3rd, together with notes from Caroline and from my father; give my
best love to my father. I almost cried for pleasure at receiving it; it
was very kind thinking of writing to me. My letters are both few, short,
and stupid in return for all yours; but I always ease my conscience by
considering the Journal as a long letter. If I can manage it, I will,
before doubling the Horn, send the rest. I am quite delighted to find the
hide of the Megatherium has given you all some little interest in my
employments. These fragments are not, 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 continue the voyage, together with the glorious prospect
of the future, when passing the Straits of Magellan, we have in truth the
world before us. Think of the Andes, the luxuriant forest of Guayaquil,
the islands of the South Sea, and New South Wales. How many magnificent
and characteristic views, how many and curious tribes of men we shall see!
What fine opportunities for geology and for studying the infinite host of
living beings! Is not this a prospect to 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, etc., etc., 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 murderous countenances, without almost
wishing for Brazil to follow the example of Hayti; and, considering the
enormous healthy-looking black population, it will be wonderful if, at some
future day, it does not take place. There is at Rio a man (I know not his
title) who has a large salary to prevent (I believe) the landing of slaves;
he lives at Botofogo, and yet that was the bay where, during my residence,
the greater number of smuggled slaves were landed. Some of the Anti-
Slavery people ought to question about his office; it was the subject of
conversation at Rio amongst the lower English...

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, defying the blue devils, I will send you a
few lines, if it is merely to thank you very sincerely for writing to me.
I received your letter, dated December 1st, a short time since. We are now
passing part of the winter in the Rio Plata, after having had a hard
summer's work to the south. Tierra del Fuego is indeed a miserable place;
the ceaseless fury of the gales is quite tremendous. One evening we saw
old Cape Horn, and three weeks afterwards we were only thirty miles to
windward of it. It is a grand spectacle to see all nature thus raging; but
Heaven knows every one in the "Beagle" has seen enough in this one summer
to last them their natural 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 Barmouth. The valleys are impenetrable from the entangled woods,
but the higher parts, near the limits of perpetual snow, are bare. From
some of these hills the scenery, from its savage, solitary character, was
most sublime. The only inhabitant of these heights is the guanaco, and
with its shrill neighing it often breaks the stillness. The consciousness
that no European foot had ever trod much of this ground added to the
delight of these rambles. How often and how vividly have many of the hours
spent at Barmouth come before my mind! I look back to that time with no
common pleasure; at this moment I can see you seated on the hill behind the
inn, almost as plainly as if you were really there. It is necessary to be
separated from all which one has been accustomed to, to know how properly
to treasure up such recollections, and at this distance, I may add, how
properly to esteem such as yourself, my dear old Herbert. I wonder when I
shall ever see you again. I hope it may be, as you say, surrounded with
heaps of parchment; but then there must be, 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 captivating 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, Colonial Slavery. I have seen enough of
Slavery and the dispositions 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 letter, to hear you have not been well, and that you
partly attribute it to want of exercise. I wish you were here amongst the
green plains; we would take walks which would rival the Dolgelly ones, and
you should tell stories, which I would believe, even to a CUBIC 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 believe me, my dear

Your affectionate friend,

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
stratifications, etc., I feel inclined to cry "a fig for your big oysters,
and your bigger megatheriums." But then when digging out some fine bones,
I wonder how any man can tire his arms with hammering granite. By the way
I have not one clear idea about cleavage, stratification, lines of
upheaval. I have no books which tell me much, and what they do I cannot
apply to what I see. In consequence I draw my own conclusions, and most
gloriously ridiculous ones they are, I sometimes fancy...Can you throw any
light into my mind by telling me what relation cleavage and planes of
deposition bear to each other?

And now for my second SECTION, Zoology. I have chiefly been employed in
preparing myself for the South Sea by examining the polypi of the smaller
Corallines in these latitudes. Many in themselves are very curious, and I
think are quite undescribed; there was one appalling one, allied to a
Flustra, which I dare say I mentioned having found to the northward, where
the cells have a movable organ (like a vulture's head, with a dilatable
beak), fixed on the edge. But what is of more general interest is the
unquestionable (as it appears to me) existence of another species of
ostrich, besides the Struthio rhea. All the Gauchos and Indians state it
is the case, and I place the greatest faith in their observations. I have
the head, neck, piece of skin, feathers, and legs of one. The differences
are chiefly in the colour of the feathers and scales on legs, being
feathered below the knees, nidification, and geographical distribution. So
much for what I have 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 second
meeting of the British Association was held at Oxford in 1832, the
following year it was at Cambridge.); 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 containing insects, as these
alone will require being kept particularly dry; it may perhaps save you
some trouble. When this letter will go I do not know, as this little seat
of discord has lately been embroiled by a dreadful scene of murder, and at
present there are more prisoners than inhabitants. If a merchant vessel is
chartered to take them to Rio, I will send some specimens (especially my
few plants and seeds). Remember me to all my Cambridge friends. I love
and treasure up every recollection of dear old Cambridge. I am much
obliged to you for putting my name down to poor Ramsay's monument; I never
think of him without the warmest admiration. Farewell, my dear Henslow.

Believe me your most obliged and affectionate friend,

East Falkland Island, April 6, 1834.

My dear Catherine,

When this letter will reach you I know not, but probably some man-of-war
will call here before, in the common course of events, I should have
another opportunity of writing.


After visiting some of the southern islands, we beat up through the
magnificent scenery of the Beagle Channel to Jemmy Button's country.
(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.) 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 alongside
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 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. Button's canoe" and "Jemmy's wife come," "Give me
knife," etc., was said by several of them.

We then bore away for this island--this little miserable seat of discord.
We found that the Gauchos, under pretence of a revolution, had murdered and
plundered all the Englishmen whom they could catch, and some of their own
countrymen. All the economy at home makes the foreign movements of England
most contemptible. How different from old Spain. Here we, dog-in-the-
manger fashion, seize an island, and leave to protect it a Union Jack; the
possessor has, of course, been murdered; we now send a lieutenant with four
sailors, without authority or instructions. A man-of-war, however,
ventured to leave a party of marines, and by their assistance, and the
treachery of some of the party, the murderers have all been taken, there
being now as many prisoners as inhabitants. This island must some day
become a very important halting-place in the most turbulent sea in the
world. It is mid-way between Australia and the South Sea to England;
between Chili, Peru, etc., and the Rio Plata and the Rio de Janeiro. There
are fine harbours, plenty of fresh water, and good beef. It would
doubtless produce the coarser vegetables. In other respects it is a
wretched place. A little time since, I rode across the island, and
returned in four days. My excursion would have been longer, but during the
whole time it blew a gale of wind, with hail and snow. There is no
firewood bigger than heath, and the whole country is, more or less an
elastic peat-bog. Sleeping out at night was too miserable work to endure
it for all the rocks in South America.

We shall leave this scene of iniquity in two or three days, and go to the
Rio de la Sta. Cruz. One of the objects is to look at the ship's bottom.
We struck heavily on an unknown rock off Port Desire, and some of her
copper is torn off. After this is repaired the Captain has a glorious
scheme; it is to go to the very head of this river, that is probably to the
Andes. It is quite unknown; the Indians tell us it is two or three hundred
yards broad, and horses can nowhere ford it. I cannot imagine anything
more interesting. Our plans then are to go to 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 which passes close to the foot
of Mount Sarmiento (the highest mountain in the south, excepting Mt.!!
Darwin!!). We then shall scud away for Concepcion in Chili. I believe the
ship must once again steer southward, but if any one catches me there
again, I will give him leave to hang me up as a scarecrow for all future
naturalists. I long to be at work in the Cordilleras, the geology of this
side, which I understand pretty well is so intimately connected with
periods of violence in that great chain of mountains. The future is,
indeed, to me a brilliant prospect. You say its very brilliancy frightens
you; but really I am very careful; I may mention as a proof, in all my
rambles I have never had any one accident or scrape...Continue in your good
custom of writing plenty of gossip; I much like hearing all about all
things. Remember me most kindly to Uncle Jos, and to all the Wedgwoods.
Tell Charlotte (their married names sound downright unnatural) I should
like to have written to her, to have told her how well 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 he would send me no more money.

Good-bye, dear, to you, and all your goodly sisterhood.

Your affectionate brother,

My love to Nancy (His old nurse.); 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

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 together. But he is very much
inclined to doubt if ever I really was so much honoured; at present we hear
scarcely anything about politics; this saves a great deal of trouble, for
we all stick to our former opinions rather more obstinately than before,
and can give rather fewer reasons for doing so.

I do hope you will write to me: ('H.M.S. "Beagle", S. American Station'
will find me). I should much like to hear in what state you are both in
body and mind. ?Quien Sabe? as the people say here (and God knows they
well may, for they do know little enough), if you are not a married man,
and may be nursing, as Miss Austen says, little olive branches, little
pledges of mutual affection. Eheu! Eheu! this puts me in mind of former
visions of glimpses into futurity, where I fancied I saw retirement, green
cottages, and white petticoats. What will become of me hereafter I know
not; I feel like a ruined man, who does not see or care how to extricate
himself. That this voyage must come to a conclusion my reason tells me,
but otherwise I see no end to it. It is impossible not bitterly to regret
the friends and other sources of pleasure one leaves behind in England; in
place of it there is much solid enjoyment, some present, but more in
anticipation, when the ideas gained during the voyage can be compared to
fresh ones. I find in Geology a never-failing interest, as it has been
remarked, it creates the same grand ideas respecting this world which
Astronomy does for the universe. We have seen much fine scenery; that of
the Tropics in its glory and luxuriance exceeds even the language of
Humboldt to describe. A Persian writer could alone do justice to it, and
if he succeeded he would in England be called the 'Grandfather of all

But I have seen nothing which more completely astonished me than the first
sight of a savage. It was a naked Fuegian, his long hair blowing about,
his face besmeared with paint. There is in their countenances an
expression which I believe, to those who have not seen it, must be
inconceivably wild. Standing on a rock he uttered tones and made
gesticulations, than which the cries of domestic animals are far more

When I return to England, you must take me in hand with respect to the fine
arts. I yet recollect there was a man called Raffaelle Sanctus. How
delightful it will be once again to see, in the Fitzwilliam, Titian's
Venus. How much more than delightful to go to some good concert or fine
opera. These recollections will not do. I shall not be able to-morrow to
pick out the entrails of some small animal with half my usual gusto. Pray
tell me some news about Cameron, Watkins, Marindin, the two Thompsons of
Trinity, Lowe, Heaviside, Matthew. Herbert I have heard from. How is
Henslow getting on? and all other good friends of dear Cambridge? Often
and often do I think over those past hours, so many of which have been
passed in your company. Such can never return, but their recollection can
never die away.

God bless you, my dear Whitley,
Believe me, your most sincere friend,

Valparaiso, November 8, 1834.

My dear Catherine,

My last letter was rather a gloomy one, for I was not very well when I
wrote it. Now everything is as bright as sunshine. I am quite well again
after being a second time in bed for a fortnight. Captain Fitz-Roy very
generously has delayed the ship ten days on my account, and without at the
time telling me for what reason.

We have had some strange proceedings on board the "Beagle", but which have
ended most capitally for all hands. Captain Fitz-Roy has for the last two
months been working EXTREMELY hard, and at the same time constantly annoyed
by 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,
etc. etc.'s, has made him very thin and unwell. This was accompanied by a
morbid depression of spirits, and a loss of all decision and resolution...
All that Bynoe [the Surgeon] could say, that it was merely the effect of
bodily health and exhaustion after such application, would not do; he
invalided, and Wickham was appointed to the command. By the instructions
Wickham could only finish the survey of the southern part, and would then
have been obliged to return direct to England. The grief on board the
"Beagle" about the Captain's decision was universal and deeply felt; one
great source of his annoyment was the feeling it impossible to fulfil the
whole instructions; from his state of mind it never occurred to him that
the very instructions ordered him to do as much of the West coast AS HE HAS
TIME FOR, and then proceed across the Pacific.

Wickham (very disinterestedly giving up his own promotion) urged this most
strongly, stated that when he took the command nothing should induce him to
go to Tierra del Fuego again; and then asked the Captain what would be
gained by his resignation? why not do the more useful part, and return as
commanded by the Pacific. The Captain at last, to every one's joy,
consented, and the resignation was withdrawn.

Hurrah! hurrah! it is fixed the "Beagle" shall not go one mile south of
Cape Tres Montes (about 200 miles south of Chiloe), and from that point to
Valparaiso will be finished in about five months. We shall examine the
Chonos Archipelago, entirely unknown, and the curious inland sea behind
Chiloe. For me it is glorious. Cape Tres Montes is the most southern
point where there is much geological interest, as there the modern beds
end. The Captain then talks of crossing the Pacific; but I think we shall
persuade him to finish the Coast of Peru, where the climate is delightful,
the country hideously sterile, but abounding with the highest interest to a
geologist. For the first time since leaving England I now see a clear and
not so distant prospect of returning to you all: crossing the Pacific, and
from Sydney home, will not take much time.

As soon as the Captain invalided I at once determined to leave the
"Beagle", but it was quite absurd what a revolution in five minutes was
effected in all my feelings. I have long been grieved and most sorry at
the interminable length of the voyage (although I never would have quitted
it); but the minute it was all over, I could not make up my mind to return.
I could not give up all the geological castles in the air which I had been
building up for the last two years. One whole night I tried to think over
the pleasure of seeing Shrewsbury again, but the barren plains of Peru
gained the day. I made the following scheme (I know you will abuse me, and
perhaps if I had put it in execution, my father would have sent a mandamus
after me); it was to examine the 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 respected by the natives and foreigners. Several
Chileno Signoritas 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 100 pounds (had it not better be notified to
Messrs. Robarts & Co.); 50 pounds goes to the Captain for the ensuing year,
and 30 pounds I take to sea for the small ports; so that bona fide I have
not spent 180 pounds 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 medicine, and I
have not been so happy for the last year. If it had not been for my
illness, these four months in Chili would have been very pleasant. I have
had ill luck, however, in only one little earthquake having happened. I
was lying in bed when there was a party at dinner in the house; on a sudden
I heard such a hubbub in the dining-room; without a word being spoken, it
was devil take the hindmost who should get out first; at the same moment I
felt my bed SLIGHTLY vibrate in a lateral direction. The party were old
stagers, and heard the noise which always precedes a shock; and no old
stager looks at an earthquake with philosophical eyes...

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

My dear Catherine,
Yours affectionately,

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

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 enjoyed it: it was something more
than enjoyment; I cannot express the delight which I felt at such a famous
winding-up of all my geology in South America. I literally could hardly
sleep at nights for thinking over my day's 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

I crossed by the Portillo Pass, which at this time of the year is apt to be
dangerous, so could not afford to delay there. After staying a day in the
stupid town of Mendoza, I began my return by Uspallate, which I did very
leisurely. My whole trip only took up twenty-two days. I travelled with,
for me, uncommon comfort, as I carried a BED! My party consisted of two
Peons and ten mules, two of which were with baggage, or rather food, in
case of being snowed up. Everything, however, favoured me; not even a
speck of this year's snow had fallen on the road. I do not suppose any of
you can be much interested in geological details, but I will just mention
my principal results:--Besides understanding 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 consequence, 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 contemporaneous with the plains of
Patagonia (or about with the UPPER strata of the Isle of Wight). If this
result shall be considered as proved (The importance of these results has
been fully recognised by geologists.), it is a very important fact in the
theory of the formation of the world; because, if such wonderful changes
have taken place so recently in the crust of the globe, there can be no
reason for supposing former epochs of excessive violence. These modern
strata are very remarkable by being threaded with metallic veins of silver,
gold, copper, etc.; hitherto these have been considered as appertaining to
older formations. In these same beds, and close to a goldmine, I found a
clump of petrified trees, standing up right, with layers of fine sandstone
deposited round them, bearing the impression of their bark. These trees
are covered by other sandstones and streams of lava to the thickness of
several thousand feet. These rocks have been deposited beneath water; yet
it is clear the spot where the trees grew must once have been above the
level of the sea, so that it is certain the land must have been depressed
by at least as many thousand feet as the superincumbent subaqueous deposits
are thick. But I am afraid you will tell me I am prosy with my geological
descriptions and theories...

Your account of Erasmus' visit to Cambridge has made me long to be back
there. I cannot fancy anything more delightful 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

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 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 return, and so it is,
and I long to be with you. Whatever the trees are, I know what I shall
find all you. I am writing nonsense, so farewell. My most affectionate
love to all, and I pray forgiveness from my father.

Yours most affectionately,

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 of this most important year in your life.
Previously I had only heard the plain fact that you were married. You are
a true Christian and return good for evil, to send two such letters to so
bad a correspondent as I have been. God bless you for writing so kindly
and affectionately; if it is a pleasure to have friends in England, it is
doubly so to think and know that one is not forgotten because absent. This
voyage is terribly long. I do so earnestly desire to return, yet I dare
hardly look forward to the future, for I do not know what will become of
me. Your situation is above envy: I do not venture even to frame such
happy visions. To a person fit to take the office, the life of a clergyman
is a type of all that is respectable and happy. You tempt me by talking of
your fireside, whereas it is a sort of scene I never ought to think about.
I saw the other day a vessel sail for England; it was quite dangerous to
know how easily I might turn deserter. As for an English lady, I have
almost forgotten what she is--something very angelic and good. As for the
women in these countries, they wear caps and petticoats, and a very few
have pretty faces, and then all is said. But if we are not wrecked on some
unlucky reef, I will sit by that same fireside in Vale Cottage and tell
some of the wonderful stories, which you seem to anticipate and, I presume,
are not very ready to believe. Gracias a dios, the prospect of such times
is rather shorter than formerly.

>From this most wretched 'City of the Kings' we sail in a fortnight, from
thence to Guayaquil, Galapagos, Marquesas, Society Islands, etc., etc. 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 Natural History. I am become a zealous disciple
of Mr. Lyell's views, as known in his admirable book. Geologising in South
America, I am tempted to carry parts to a greater extent even than he does.
Geology is a capital science to begin, as it requires nothing but a little
reading, thinking, and hammering. 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 value.

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,

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 delightful to feel the certainty that within eight
months I shall be residing once again most quietly in Cambridge.
Certainly, 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 charming spot. Everything which former
navigators have written is true. 'A new Cytheraea has risen from the
ocean.' Delicious scenery, climate, manners of the people are all in
harmony. It is, moreover, admirable to behold what the missionaries both
here and at New Zealand have effected. I firmly believe they are good men
working for the sake of a good cause. I much suspect that those who have
abused or sneered at the missionaries have generally been such as were not
very anxious to find the natives moral and intelligent beings. During the
remainder of our voyage we shall only visit places generally acknowledged
as civilised, 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,

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 hemisphere, and then retrace our steps by our first line to
England. This zigzag manner of proceeding is very grievous; it has put the
finishing stroke to my feelings. I loathe, I abhor the sea and all ships
which sail on it. But I yet believe we shall reach England in the latter
half of October. At Ascension I received Catherine's letter of October,
and yours of November; the letter at the Cape was of a later date, but
letters of all sorts are inestimable treasures, and I thank you both for
them. The desert, volcanic rocks, and wild sea of Ascension, as soon as I
knew there was news from home, suddenly wore a pleasing aspect, and I set
to work with a good-will at my old work of Geology. You would be surprised
to know how entirely the pleasure in arriving at a new place depends on
letters. We only stayed four days at Ascension, and then made a very good
passage to Bahia.

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 mentioning
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. Good-bye.


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 before being ballotted for; if such is the case, would
you be good enough to take the proper preparatory steps? Professor
Sedgwick very kindly offered to propose me before leaving England, if he
should happen to be in London. I dare say he would yet do so.

I have very little to write about. We have neither seen, done, or heard of
anything particular for a long time past; and indeed if at present the
wonders of another planet could be displayed before us, I believe we should
unanimously exclaim, what a consummate plague. No schoolboys ever sung the
half sentimental and half jovial strain of 'dulce domum' with more fervour,
than we all feel inclined to do. But the whole subject of 'dulce domum,'
and the delight of seeing one's friends, is most dangerous, it must
infallibly make one very prosy or very boisterous. Oh, the degree to which
I long to be once again living quietly with not one single novel object
near me! No one can imagine it till he has been whirled round the world
during five long years in a ten-gun-brig. I am at present living in a
small house (amongst the clouds) in the centre of the island, and within
stone's throw of Napoleon's tomb. It is blowing a gale of wind with heavy
rain and wretchedly cold; if Napoleon's ghost haunts his dreary place of
confinement, this would be a most excellent night for such wandering
spirits. If the weather chooses to permit me, I hope to see a little of
the Geology (so often partially described) of the island. I suspect that
differently from most volcanic islands its structure is rather complicated.
It seems strange that this little centre of a distinct creation should, as
is asserted, bear marks of recent elevation.

The "Beagle" proceeds from this place to Ascension, then to the Cape de
Verds (what miserable places!) to the Azores to Plymouth, and then to home.
That most glorious of all days in my life will not, however, arrive till
the middle of October. Some time in that month you will 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 handwriting, but I
shall soon see you yourself, which is far better. As I am your pupil, you
are bound to undertake the task of criticising and scolding me for all the
things ill done and not done at all, which I fear I shall need much; but I
hope for the best, and I am sure I have a good if not too easy taskmaster.

At the Cape Captain Fitz-Roy and myself enjoyed a memorable 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 appeared to me rather awful. He is living in a very comfortable
country house, surrounded by fir and oak trees, which alone in so open a
country, give a most charming air of seclusion and comfort. He appears to
find time for everything; he showed us a pretty garden full of Cape bulbs
of his own 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 England.

Goodnight, my dear Henslow,
Yours most truly obliged and affectionately,

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 Sunday evening, and I reached
Shrewsbury yesterday morning. I am exceedingly anxious to see you, and as
it will be necessary in four or five days to return to London to get my
goods and chattels out of the "Beagle", it appears to me my best plan to
pass through Cambridge. I want your advice on many points; indeed I am in
the clouds, and neither know what to do or where to go. My chief puzzle is
about the geological specimens--who will have the charity to help me in
describing their mineralogical nature? Will you be kind enough to write to
me one line by RETURN OF POST, saying whether you are now at Cambridge? I
am doubtful till I hear from Captain Fitz-Roy whether I shall not be
obliged to start before the answer can arrive, but pray try the chance. My
dear Henslow, I do long to see you; you have been the kindest friend to me
that ever man possessed. I can write no more, for I am giddy with joy and

Farewell for the present,
Yours most truly obliged,

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.
Indeed, all England appears changed excepting the good old town of
Shrewsbury and its inhabitants, which, for all I can see to the contrary,
may go on as they now are to Doomsday. I wish with all my heart I was
writing to you amongst your friends instead of at that horrid Plymouth.
But the day will soon come, and you will be as happy as I now am. I do
assure you I am a very great man at home; the five years' voyage has
certainly raised me a hundred per cent. I fear such greatness must
experience a fall.

I am thoroughly ashamed of myself in what a dead-and-half-alive state I
spent the few last days on board; my only excuse is that certainly I was
not quite well. The first day in the mail tired me, but as I drew nearer
to Shrewsbury everything looked more beautiful and cheerful. In passing
Gloucestershire and Worcestershire I wished much for you to admire the
fields, woods, and orchards. The stupid people on the coach did not seem
to think the fields one bit greener than usual; but I am sure we should
have thoroughly agreed that the wide world does not contain so happy a
prospect as the rich cultivated land of England.

I hope you will not forget to send me a note telling me how you go on. I
do indeed hope all your vexations and trouble with respect to our voyage,
which we now know HAS an end, have come to a close. If you do not receive
much satisfaction for all the mental and bodily energy you have expended in
His Majesty's service, you will be most hardly treated. I put my radical
sisters into an uproar at some of the prudent (if they were not honest
Whigs, I would say shabby) proceedings of our Government. By the way, I
must tell you for the honour and glory of the family that my father has a
large engraving of King George IV. put up in his sitting-room. But I am no
renegade, and by the time we meet my politics will be as firmly fixed and
as wisely founded as ever they were.

I thought when I began this letter I would convince you 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,





[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 ultimately forced him to leave London and take up his abode for the
rest of his life in a quiet country house. In June, 1841, he writes to
Lyell: "My father scarcely seems to expect that I shall become strong for
some years; it has been a bitter mortification for me to digest the
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 science."

There is no evidence of any intention of entering a profession 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 passionate love of
scientific work for its own sake--determined thus early in his career, the
character of his whole future life. They impelled him to lead a retired
life of constant labour, carried on to the utmost limits of his physical
power, a life which signally falsified his melancholy prophecy.

The end of the last chapter saw my father safely arrived at Shrewsbury on
October 4, 1836, "after an absence of five years and two days." He wrote
to Fox: "You cannot imagine how gloriously delightful my first visit was
at home; it was worth the banishment." But it was a pleasure that he could
not long enjoy, for in the last days of October he was at Greenwich
unpacking specimens from the "Beagle". As to the destination of the
collections he writes, somewhat despondingly, to Henslow:--

"I have not made much progress with the great men. I find, as you told me,
that they are all overwhelmed with their own business. Mr. Lyell has
entered, in the MOST good-natured manner, and almost without being asked,
into all my plans. He tells me, however, the same story, that I must do
all myself. Mr. Owen seems anxious to dissect some of the animals in
spirits, and, besides these two, I have scarcely met any one who seems to
wish to possess any of my specimens. I must except Dr. Grant, who is
willing to examine some of the corallines. I see it is quite 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 (The Museum of the Zoological Society,
then at 33 Bruton Street. The collection was some years later broken up
and dispersed.) is nearly full, and upwards of a thousand specimens remain
unmounted. I dare say the British Museum would receive them, but I cannot
feel, from all I hear, any great respect even for the present state of that
establishment. Your plan will be not only the best, but the only one,
namely, to come down to Cambridge, arrange and group together the different
families, and then wait till people, who are already working in different
branches, may want specimens. But it appears to me [that] to do this it
will be almost necessary to reside in London. As far as I can yet see my
best plan will be to spend several months in Cambridge, and then when, by
your assistance, I know on what ground I stand, to emigrate to London,
where I can complete my Geology and try to push on the Zoology. I assure
you I grieve to find how many things make me see the necessity of living
for some time in this dirty, odious London. For even in Geology I suspect
much assistance and communication will be necessary in this quarter, for
instance, in fossil bones, of which none excepting the 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 (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, remarked to him, 'You
forget how long it is since Captain King's expedition.' He answered,
'Indeed, I have something in the shape of Captain King'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 British Museum?") 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 business that it is too selfish to plague him with
my concerns. He has asked me to dine with the Linnean on Tuesday, and on
Wednesday I dine with the Geological, so that I shall see all the great
men. Mr. Bell, I hear, is so much occupied that there is no chance of his
wishing for specimens of reptiles. I have forgotten to mention Mr.
Lonsdale (William Lonsdale, 1794-1871, 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 secretary to
the Geological Society from 1829-42, when he resigned, owing to ill
health.), 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

A few days later he writes more cheerfully: "I became acquainted with Mr.
Bell (T. Bell, F.R.S., formerly Prof. of Zoology in King's College, London,
and some time secretary to the Royal Society. He afterwards described the
reptiles for the zoology of the voyage of the "Beagle".) 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 from I do not
know where. I was at last forced to plead most entire innocence, and that
I knew no more about the plants which I had collected than the man in the

As to part of his Geological Collection he was soon able to write: "I
[have] disposed of the most important part [of] my collections, by giving
all the fossil bones to the College of Surgeons, casts of them will be
distributed, and descriptions published. They are very curious and
valuable; one head belonged to some gnawing animal, but of the size of a
Hippopotamus! Another to an ant-eater of the size of a horse!"

It is worth noting that at this time the only extinct mammalia from South
America, which had been described, were Mastodon (three species) and
Megatherium. The remains of the other extinct Edentata from Sir Woodbine
Parish's collection had not been described. My father's specimens included
(besides the above-mentioned Toxodon and Scelidotherium) 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 (I have often heard him speak of the despair 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.) 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
(especially latter), origin of all my views."]


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 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.


[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
10th, 1836. He was at first a guest in the comfortable home of the
Henslows, but afterwards, for the sake of undisturbed work, he moved into
lodgings. He thus writes to Fox, March 13th, 1837, from London:--

"My residence at Cambridge was rather longer than I expected, owing to a
job which I determined to finish there, namely, looking over all my
geological specimens. Cambridge yet continues a very pleasant, but not
half so merry a place as before. To walk through the courts of Christ's
College, and not know an inhabitant of a single room, gave one a feeling
half melancholy. The only evil I found in Cambridge was its being too
pleasant: there was some agreeable party or another every evening, and one
cannot say one is engaged with so much impunity there as in this great

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:--

"FEBRUARY 23, 1837.

Mr. Darwin v. Mr. Baines, that the combination-room measures from the
ceiling to the floor more than (x) feet. 1 Bottle paid same day.

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

Besides arranging the geological and mineralogical specimens, 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 ("Notes
upon Rhea Americana," 'Zool. Soc. Proc.' v. 1837, pages 35, 36.), and
another at the Geological Society ('Geol. Soc. Proc.' ii. 1838, pages 446-
449.), on the recent elevation of the coast of Chile.

Early in the spring of 1837 (March 6th) he left Cambridge for London, and a
week later he was settled in lodgings at 36 Great Marlborough Street; and
except for a "short visit to Shrewsbury" in June, he worked on till
September, being almost entirely employed on his 'Journal.' He found time,
however, for two papers at the Geological Society. ("A sketch of the
deposits containing extinct mammalia in the neighbourhood of the Plata,"
'Geol. Soc. Proc.' ii. 1838, pages 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, pages 552-

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 holidays."

Another letter to Fox (July) gives an account of the progress of his

"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.]

CHARLES DARWIN TO L. JENYNS. (Now Rev L. Blomefield.)
36 Great Marlborough Street,
April 10th, 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. Macleay (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 'Horae Entomologicae,' published in 1821.--[I am
indebted to Rev. L. Blomefield for the foregoing note.] has taken a great
deal of interest in the subject, and maintains that such a publication is
very desirable, because it keeps together a series of observations made
respecting animals inhabiting the same part of the world, and allows any
future traveller taking them with him. How far this facility of reference
is of any consequence I am very doubtful; but if such is the case, it would
be more satisfactory to myself to see the gleanings of my hands, after
having passed through the brains of other naturalists, collected together
in one work. But such considerations ought not to have much weight. The
whole scheme is at present merely floating in the air; but I was determined
to let you know, as I should much like to know what you think about it, and
whether you would object to supply descriptions of the fish to such a work
instead of to 'Transactions.' I apprehend the whole will be impracticable,
without Government will aid in engraving the plates, and this I fear is a
mere chance, only I think I can put in a strong claim, and get myself well
backed by the naturalists of this place, who nearly all take a good deal 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 delayed by the other. The plan would resemble, on a humble
scale, Ruppel's 'Atlas,' or Humboldt's 'Zoologie,' where Latreille, Cuvier,
etc., wrote different parts. I myself should have little to do with it;
excepting in some orders adding habits and ranges, etc., and geographical
sketches, and perhaps afterwards some descriptions of invertebrate

I am working at my Journal; it gets on slowly, though I am not idle. I
thought Cambridge a bad place from good dinners and other temptations, but
I find London no better, and I fear it may grow worse. I have a capital
friend in Lyell, and see a great deal of him, which is very advantageous to
me in discussing much South American geology. I miss a walk in the country
very much; this London is a vile smoky place, where a man loses a great
part of the best enjoyments 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 would say a
word. It is just striking twelve o'clock; so I will wish you a very good

My dear Jenyns,
Yours most truly,

[A few weeks later the plan seems to have been matured, and the idea of
seeking Government aid to have been adopted.]

36 Great Marlborough Street,
[18th 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 almost 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 people at Shrewsbury a visit of a
few days, but I found I could not manage it; at present I am waiting for
the signatures of the Duke of Somerset, as President of the Linnean, and of
Lord Derby and Whewell, to a statement of the value of my 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 remain daily many hours at work, the
progress is very slow: it is an awful thing to say to oneself, every fool
and every clever man in England, if he chooses, may 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 1000 pounds from the Treasury: "I have delayed
writing to you, to thank you most sincerely for having so effectually
managed my affair. I waited till I had an interview with the Chancellor of
the Exchequer (T. Spring Rice.). He appointed to see me this morning, and
I had a long conversation with him, Mr. Peacock being present. Nothing
could be more thoroughly obliging and kind than his whole manner. He made
no sort of restriction, 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 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. ("On the formation of
mould," 'Geol. Soc. Proc.' ii. 1838, pages 574-576.) During these two
months he was also busy preparing the scheme of the 'Zoology of the Voyage
of the "Beagle",' and in beginning to put together the Geological results
of his travels.

The following letter refers to the proposal that he should take the
Secretaryship of the Geological Society.]

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 before the Society, or rather to know what
parts to skip. Again, my ignorance of all languages, and not knowing how
to pronounce a SINGLE word of French--a language so perpetually quoted. It
would be disgraceful to the Society to have a Secretary who could not read
French. Secondly, the loss of time; pray consider that I should have to
look after the artists, superintend and furnish materials for the
Government work, which will come out in parts, and which must appear
regularly. All my Geological notes are in a very rough state; none of my
fossil shells worked up; and I have much to read. I have had hopes, by
giving up society and not wasting an hour, that I should finish my Geology
in a year and a half, by which time the description of the higher animals
by others would be completed, and my whole time would then necessarily be
required to complete myself the description of the invertebrate ones. If
this plan fails, as the Government work must go on, the Geology would
necessarily be deferred till probably at least three years from this time.
In the present state of the science, a great part of the utility of the
little I have done would be lost, and all freshness and pleasure quite
taken from me.

I know from experience the time required to make abstracts EVEN of my own
papers for the 'Proceedings.' If I was Secretary, and had to make double
abstracts of each paper, studying them before reading, and attendance would
AT LEAST cost me three days (and often more) in the fortnight. There are
likewise other accidental and contingent losses of time; I know Dr. Royle
found the office consumed much of his time. If by merely giving up any
amusement, or by working harder than I have done, I could save time, I
would undertake the Secretaryship; but I appeal to you whether, with my
slow manner of writing, with two works in hand, and with the certainty, if
I cannot complete the Geological part within a fixed period, that its
publication must be retarded for a very long time,--whether any Society
whatever has any claim on me for three days' disagreeable work every
fortnight. I cannot agree that it is a duty on my part, as a follower of
science, as long as I devote myself to the completion of the work I have in
hand, to delay that, by undertaking what may be done by any person who
happens to have more spare time than I have at present. Moreover, so early
in my scientific life, with so very much as I have to learn, the office,
though no doubt a great honour, etc., for me, would be the more burdensome.
Mr. Whewell (I know very well), judging from himself, will think I
exaggerate the time the Secretaryship would require; but I absolutely know
the time which with me the simplest writing consumes. I do not at all like
appearing so selfish as to refuse Mr. Whewell, more especially as he has
always shown, in the kindest manner, an interest in my affairs. But I
cannot look forward with even tolerable comfort to undertaking an office
without entering on it heart and soul, and that would be impossible with
the Government work and the Geology in hand.

My last objection is, that I doubt how far my health will stand the
confinement of what I have to do, without any additional work. I merely
repeat, that you may know I am not speaking idly, that when I consulted Dr.
Clark in town, he at first urged me to give up entirely all writing and
even correcting press for some weeks. Of late anything which flurries me
completely knocks me up afterwards, and brings on a violent palpitation of
the heart. Now the Secretaryship would be a periodical source of more
annoying trouble to me than all the rest of the fortnight put together. In
fact, till I return to town, and see how I get on, if I wished the office
ever so much, I COULD not say I would positively undertake it. I beg of
you to excuse this very long prose all about myself, but the point is one
of great interest. I can neither bear to think myself very selfish and
sulky, nor can I see the possibility of my taking the Secretaryship without
making a sacrifice of all my plans and a good deal of comfort.

If you see Whewell, would you tell him the substance of this letter; or, if
he will take the trouble, he may read it. My dear Henslow, I appeal to you
in loco parentis. Pray tell me what you think? But do not judge me by the
activity of mind which you and a few others possess, for in that case the
more 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,

[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.]

[4th November, 1837.]

My dear Henslow,

...Pray tell Leonard (Rev. L. Jenyns.) that my Government work is going on
smoothly, and I hope will be prosperous. He will see in the Prospectus his
name attached to the fish; I set my shoulders to the work with a good
heart. I am very much better than I was during the last month before my
Shrewsbury visit. I fear the Geology will take me a great deal of time; I
was looking over one set of notes, and the quantity I found I had to read,
for that one place was frightful. If I live till I am eighty years old I
shall not cease to 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 multiplied, instead of diminishing my
oversights; but for all that, the smooth paper and clear type has a
charming appearance, and I sat the other evening gazing in silent
admiration at the first page of my own volume, when I received it from the

Good-bye, my dear Henslow,


[From the beginning of this year to nearly the end of June, he was busily
employed on the zoological and geological results of his voyage. This
spell of work was interrupted 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 1st, unwell,"
and from a letter to his sister (May 16, 1838), when he wrote:--

"My trip of three days to Cambridge has done me such wonderful good, and
filled my limbs with such elasticity, that I must get a little work out of
my body before another holiday." This holiday seems to have been
thoroughly enjoyed; he wrote to his sister:--

"Now for Cambridge: I stayed at Henslow's house and enjoyed my visit
extremely. My friends gave me a most cordial welcome. Indeed, I was quite
a lion there. Mrs. Henslow unfortunately was obliged to go on Friday for a
visit in the country. That evening we had at Henslow's a brilliant party
of all the geniuses in Cambridge, and a most remarkable set of men they
most assuredly are. On Saturday I rode over to L. Jenyns', and spent the
morning with him. I found him very cheerful, but bitterly complaining of
his solitude. On Saturday evening dined at one of the Colleges, played at
bowls on the College Green after dinner, and was deafened with nightingales
singing. Sunday, dined in Trinity; capital dinner, and was very glad to
sit by Professor Lee (Samuel Lee, of Queens', was Professor of Arabic from
1819 to 1831, and Regius Professor of Hebrew from 1831 to 1848.)...; 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 London earlier than I had anticipated. I
go by the steam-packet to Edinburgh,--take a solitary walk on Salisbury
Craigs, and call up old thoughts of former times, then go on to Glasgow and
the great valley of Inverness, near which I intend stopping a week to
geologise the parallel roads of Glen Roy, thence to Shrewsbury, Maer for
one day, and London for smoke, ill-health and hard work."

He spent "eight good days" over the Parallel Roads. His Essay on this
subject was written out during the same summer, and published by the Royal
Society. ('Phil. Trans.' 1839, pages 39-82.) He wrote in his Pocket Book:
"September 6 [1838]. Finished the paper on 'Glen Roy,' one of the most
difficult and instructive tasks I was ever engaged on." It will be
remembered that in his '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 formation of the
Parallel Roads was that of Sir Lauder Dick and Dr. Macculloch, who believed
that lakes had anciently existed in Glen Roy, caused by dams of rock or
alluvium. In arguing against this theory he conceived that he had
disproved the admissibility of any lake theory, but in this point he was
mistaken. He wrote (Glen Roy paper, page 49) "the conclusion is
inevitable, that no hypothesis founded on the supposed existence of a sheet
of water confined by BARRIERS, that is a lake, can be admitted as solving
the problematical origin of the parallel roads of Lochaber."

Mr. Archibald Geikie has been so good as to allow me to quote a passage
from a letter addressed to me (November 19, 1884) in compliance with my
request for his opinion on the character of my father's Glen Roy work:--

"Mr. Darwin's 'Glen Roy' paper, I need not say, is marked 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
difficulties vanish from the lake-theory which he opposed, and he would not
have been unconsciously led to minimise the altogether overwhelming
objections to the supposition that the terraces are of marine origin."

It may be added that the idea of the barriers being formed by glaciers
could hardly have occurred to him, considering what was the state of
knowledge at the time, and bearing in mind his want of opportunities of
observing glacial action on a large scale.

The latter half of July was passed at Shrewsbury and Maer. The only entry
of any interest is one of being "very idle" at Shrewsbury, and of opening
"a note-book connected with metaphysical inquiries." In August he records
that he read "a good deal of various amusing books, and paid some 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.

36 Great Marlborough Street,
August 9th [1838].

My dear Lyell,

I do 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 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 well. Moreover, on
my return from Glasgow to Liverpool, I triumphed in a similar manner over
some full-grown men. I stayed one whole day in Edinburgh, or more truly on
Salisbury Craigs; I want to hear some day what you think about that
classical ground,--the structure was to me new and rather curious,--that
is, if I understand it right. I crossed from Edinburgh in gigs and carts
(and carts without springs, as I never shall forget) to Loch Leven. I was
disappointed in the scenery, and reached Glen Roy on Saturday evening, one
week after leaving Marlborough Street. Here I enjoyed five [?] days of the
most beautiful weather with gorgeous sunsets, and all nature looking as
happy as I felt. I wandered over the mountains in all directions, and
examined that most extraordinary district. I think, without any
exceptions, not even the first volcanic island, the first elevated beach,
or the passage of the Cordillera, was so interesting to me as this week.
It is far the most remarkable area I ever examined. I have fully convinced
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 difficulties. I found a piece of a road in
another valley, not hitherto observed, which is important; and I have some
curious facts about erratic blocks, one of which was perched up on a peak
2200 feet above the sea. I am now employed in writing a paper on the
subject, which I find very amusing work, excepting that I cannot anyhow
condense it into reasonable limits. At some future day I hope to talk over
some of the conclusions with you, which the examination of Glen Roy has led
me to. Now I have had my talk out, I am much easier, for I can assure you
Glen Roy has astonished me.

I am living very quietly, and therefore pleasantly, and am crawling on
slowly but steadily with my work. I have come to one conclusion, which you
will think proves me to be a very sensible man, namely, that whatever you
say proves right; and as a proof of this, I am coming into your way of only
working about two hours at a spell; I then go out and do my business in the
streets, return and set to work again, and thus make two separate days out
of one. The new plan 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 (W.H.
Fitton (1780-1861) was a physician and geologist, and sometime president of
the Geological Society. He established the 'Proceedings,' a mode of
publication afterwards adopted by other societies.) at the door, and he got
together quite a party--Robert Brown, who is gone to Paris and Auvergne,
Macleay [?] and Dr. Boott. (Francis Boott (1792-1863) is chiefly known as
a botanist through his work on the genus Carex. He was also well-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
"Gardener's Chronicle", 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.) Your helping me
into the Athenaeum has not been thrown away, and I enjoy it the more
because I fully expected to detest it.

I am writing you a most unmerciful letter, but I shall get Owen to take it
to Newcastle. If you have a mind to be a very generous man you will write
to me from Kinnordy (The house of Lyell's father.), and tell me some
Newcastle news, as well as about the Craig, and about yourself and Mrs.
Lyell, and everything else in the world. I will send by Hall the
'Entomological Transactions,' which I have borrowed for you; you will be
disappointed in --'s papers, that is if you suppose my dear friend has a
single clear idea upon any one subject. He has so involved recent insects
and true fossil insects in one table that I fear you will not make much out
of it, though it is a subject which ought I should think to come into the
'Principles.' You will be amused at some of the ridiculo-sublime passages
in the papers, and no doubt will feel acutely a sneer there is at yourself.
I have heard from more than one quarter that quarrelling is expected at
Newcastle (At the meeting of the British Association.); I am sorry to hear
it. I met old -- this evening at the Athenaeum, and he muttered something
about writing to you or some one on the subject; I am however all in the
dark. I suppose, however, I shall be illuminated, for I am going to dine
with him in a few days, as my inventive powers failed in making any excuse.
A friend of mine dined with him the other day, a party of four, and they
finished ten bottles of wine--a pleasant prospect for me; but I am
determined not even to taste his wine, partly for the fun of seeing his
infinite disgust and surprise...

I pity you the infliction of this most unmerciful letter. Pray remember me
most kindly to Mrs. Lyell when you arrive at Kinnordy. I saw her name in
the landlord's book of Inverorum. Tell Mrs. Lyell to read the second
series of 'Mr. Slick of Slickville's Sayings.'...He almost beats "Samivel,"
that prince of heroes. Goodnight, my dear Lyell; you will think I have
been drinking some strong drink to write so much nonsense, but I did not
even taste Minerva's small beer to-day.

Yours most sincerely,

Friday night, September 13th [1838].

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. (Lyell dictated much of his correspondence.) 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 (Father of the geologist.) 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 Philosophie' (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

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 completely
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, the 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
account 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 corresponding ones subsided, though within
the same period some parts probably remained for a time stationary, or even
subsided. I do not believe a more utterly false view could have been
invented than great straight lines being suddenly thrown up.

When my book on Volcanoes and Coral Reefs will be published I hardly know;
I fear it will be at least four or five months; though, mind, the greater
part is written. I find so much time is lost in correcting details and
ascertaining their accuracy. The Government Zoological work is a millstone
round my neck, and the Glen Roy paper has lost me six weeks. I will not,
however, say lost; for, supposing I can prove to others' satisfaction what
I have convinced myself is the case, the inference I think you will allow
to be important. I cannot doubt that the molten matter beneath the earth's
crust possesses a high degree of fluidity, almost like the sea beneath the
block ice. By the way, I hope you will give me some Swedish case to quote,
of shells being preserved on the surface, but not in contemporaneous beds
of gravel...

Remember what I have often heard you say: the country is very bad for the
intellects; the Scotch mists will put out some volcanic speculations. You
see I am affecting to become very Cockneyfied, and to despise the poor
country-folk, who breath 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 "Athenaeum", 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 (Murchison.) and Babbage. What a
grievous pity it is that the latter should be so implacable...This is a
most rigmarole letter, for after each sentence I take breath, and you will
have need of it in reading it...

I wish with all my heart that my Geological book was out. I have every
motive to work hard, and will, following your steps, work just that degree
of hardness to keep well. I should like my volume to be out before your
new edition of 'Principles' appears. Besides the Coral theory, the
volcanic chapters will, I think, contain some new facts. I have lately
been sadly tempted to be idle--that is, as far as pure geology is
concerned--by the delightful number of new views which have been coming in
thickly and steadily,--on the classification and affinities and instincts
of animals--bearing on the question of species. Note-book after note-book
has been filled with facts which begin to group themselves CLEARLY under sub-laws.

Good night, my dear Lyell. I have filled my letter and enjoyed my talk to
you as much as I can without having you in propria persona. Think of the
bad effects of the country--so once more good night.

Ever yours,

Pray again give my best thanks to Mrs. Lyell.

[The record of what he wrote during the year does not give a true index of
the most important work that was in progress,--the laying of the
foundation-stones of what was to be the achievement of his life. This is
shown in the foregoing 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."]


[In the winter of 1839 {January 29) my father was married to his cousin,
Emma Wedgwood. (Daughter of Josiah Wedgwood of Maer, and grand-daughter of
the founder of the Etruria Pottery Works.) The house in which they lived
for the first few years of their married life, No. 12 Upper Gower Street,
was a small common-place London house, with a drawing-room in front, and a
small room behind, in which they lived for the sake of quietness. In later
years my father used to laugh over the surpassing ugliness of the
furniture, carpets, etc., of the Gower Street house. The only redeeming
feature was a better garden than most London houses have, a strip as wide
as the house, and thirty yards long. Even this small space of dingy grass
made their London house more tolerable to its two country-bred inhabitants.

Of his life in London he writes to Fox (October 1839): "We are living a
life of extreme quietness; Delamere itself, which you describe as so
secluded a spot, is, I will answer for it, quite dissipated compared with
Gower Street. We have given up all parties, for they agree with neither of
us; and if one is quiet in London, there is nothing like its quietness--
there is a grandeur about its smoky fogs, and the dull distant sounds of
cabs and coaches; in fact you may perceive I am becoming a thorough-paced
Cockney, and I glory in thoughts that I shall be here for the next six

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

The entry under August 1839 is: "During my visit to Maer, read a little,
was much unwell and scandalously idle. I have derived this much good, that
NOTHING is so intolerable as idleness."

At the end of 1839 his eldest child was born, and it was then that he began
his observations ultimately published in the 'Expression of the Emotions.'
His book on this subject, and the short paper published in 'Mind,' (July
1877.) 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 [i.e. the baby] is so charming that I cannot pretend to any
modesty. I defy anybody to flatter us on our baby, for I defy any one to
say anything in its praise of which we are not fully conscious...I had not
the smallest conception there was so much in a five-month baby. You will
perceive by this that I have a fine degree of paternal fervour."

During these years he worked intermittently at 'Coral Reefs,' being
constantly interrupted by ill health. Thus he speaks of "recommencing" the
subject in February 1839, and again in the October of the same year, and
once more in July 1841, "after more than thirteen months' interval." His
other scientific work consisted of a contribution to the Geological Society
('Geol. Soc. Proc.' iii. 1842, and 'Geol. Soc. Trans.' vi), on the boulders
and "till" of South America, as well as a few other minor papers on
geological subjects. He also worked busily at the ornithological part of
the Zoology of the "Beagle", i.e. the notice of the habits and ranges of
the birds which were described by Gould.]

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; descriptions of offspring of all crosses
between all domestic birds and animals, dogs, cats, etc., etc., very
valuable. Don't forget, if your half-bred African cat should die that I
should be very much obliged for its carcase sent up in a little hamper for
the skeleton; it, or any cross-bred pigeons, fowl, duck, etc., etc., will
be more acceptable than the finest haunch of venison, or the finest

Later in the year (September) he writes to Fox about his health, and also
with reference to his plan of moving into the country:--

"I have steadily been gaining ground, and really believe now I shall some
day be quite strong. I write daily for a couple of hours on my Coral
volume, and take a little walk or ride every day. I grow very tired in the
evenings, and am not able to go out at that time, or hardly to receive my
nearest relations; but my life ceases to be burdensome now that I can do
something. We are taking steps to leave London, and live about twenty
miles from it on some railway."]


[The record of work includes his volume on 'Coral Reefs' (A notice of the
Coral Reef work appeared in the Geograph. Soc. Journal, xii., page 115.),
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 illness."

In May and June he was at Shrewsbury and Maer, whence he went on to make
the little tour in Wales, of which he spoke in his 'Recollections,' and of
which the results were published as "Notes on the effects produced by the
ancient glaciers of Caernarvonshire, and on the Boulders transported by
floating Ice." ('Philosophical Magazine,' 1842, page 352.)

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."
Charles Darwin, 'Nature' Series, page 23.)

The latter part of this year belongs to the period including the settlement
at Down, and is therefore dealt with in another chapter.]



[The history of this part of my father's life may justly include some
mention of his religious views. For although, as he points out, he did not
give continuous systematic thought to religious questions, yet we know from
his own words that about this time (1836-39) the subject was much before
his mind.

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. (As
an exception may be mentioned, a few words of concurrence with Dr. Abbot's
'Truths for the Times,' which my father allowed to be published in the

I believe that his reticence arose from several causes. He felt strongly
that a man's religion is an essentially private matter, and one concerning
himself alone. This is indicated by the following extract from a letter of
1879:--(Addressed to Mr. J. Fordyce, and published by him in his 'Aspects
of Scepticism,' 1883.)

"What my own views may be is a question of no consequence 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."

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. Abbot, of Cambridge,
U.S. (September 6, 1871). After explaining that the weakness arising from
his bad health prevented him from feeling "equal to deep reflection, on the
deepest subject which can fill a man's mind," he goes on to say: "With
respect to my former notes to you, I quite forget their contents. I have
to write many letters, and can reflect but little on what I write; but I
fully believe and hope that I have never written a word, which at the time
I did not think; but I think you will agree with me, that anything which is
to be given to the public ought to be maturely weighed and cautiously put.
It never occurred to me that you would wish to print any extract from my
notes: if it had, I would have kept a copy. I put 'private' from habit,
only as yet partially acquired, from some hasty notes of mine having been
printed, which were not in the least degree worth printing, though
otherwise unobjectionable. It is simply ridiculous to suppose that my
former note to you would be worth sending to me, with any part marked which
you desire to print; but if you like to do so, I will at once say whether I
should have any objection. I feel in some degree unwilling to express
myself publicly on religious subjects, as I do not feel that I have thought
deeply enough to justify any publicity."

I may also quote from another letter to Dr. Abbot (November 16, 1871), in
which my father gives more fully his reasons for not feeling competent to
write on religious and moral subjects:--

"I can say with entire truth that I feel honoured by your request that I
should become a contributor to the "Index", and am much obliged for the
draft. I fully, also, subscribe to the proposition that it is the duty of
every one to spread what he believes to be the truth; and I honour you for
doing so, with so much devotion and zeal. But I cannot comply with your
request for the following reasons; and excuse me for giving them in some
detail, as I should be very sorry to appear in your eyes ungracious. My
health is very weak: I NEVER pass 24 hours without many hours of
discomfort, when I can do nothing whatever. I have thus, also, lost two
whole consecutive months this season. Owing to this 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: whatever I have done in science has solely been by long
pondering, patience and industry.

"Now I have never systematically thought much on religion in relation to
science, or on morals in relation to society; and without steadily keeping
my mind on such subjects for a LONG period, I am really incapable of
writing anything worth sending to the 'Index'."

He was more than once asked to give his views on religion, and he had, as a
rule, no objection to doing so in a private letter. Thus in answer to a
Dutch student he wrote (April 2, 1873):--

"I am sure you will excuse my writing at length, when I tell you that I
have long been much out of health, and am now staying away from my home for

"It is impossible to answer your question briefly; and I am not sure that I
could do so, even if I wrote at some length. But I may say that the
impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our
conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for
the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have
never been able to decide. I am aware that if we admit a first cause, the
mind still craves to know whence it came, and how it arose. Nor can I
overlook the difficulty from the immense amount of suffering through the
world. I am, also, induced to defer to a certain extent to the judgment of
the many able men who have fully believed in God; but here again I see how
poor an argument this is. The safest conclusion seems to me that the whole
subject is beyond the scope of man's intellect; but man can do his duty."

Again in 1879 he was applied to by a German student, in a similar manner.
The letter was answered by a member of my father's family, who wrote:--

"Mr. Darwin begs me to say that he receives so many letters, that he cannot
answer them all.

"He considers that the theory of Evolution is quite compatible with the
belief in a God; but that you must remember that different persons have
different definitions of what they mean by God."

This, however, did not satisfy the German youth, who again wrote to my
father, and received from him the following reply:--

"I am much engaged, an old man, and out of health, and I cannot spare time
to answer your questions fully,--nor indeed can they be answered. Science
has nothing to do with Christ, except in so far as the habit of scientific
research makes a man cautious in admitting evidence. For myself, I do not
believe that there ever has been any revelation. As for a future life,
every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague probabilities."

The passages which here follow are extracts, somewhat abbreviated, from a
part of the Autobiography, written in 1876, in which my father gives the
history of his religious views:--

"During these two years (October 1836 to January 1839.) 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, i.e. 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 continually rose before my mind and
would not be banished,--is it credible that if God were now to make a
revelation to the Hindoos, he would permit it to be connected with the
belief in Vishnu, Siva, etc., as Christianity is connected with the Old
Testament? This appeared to me utterly incredible.

"By further reflecting that the clearest evidence would be requisite to
make any sane man believe in the miracles by which Christianity is
supported,--and that the more we know of the fixed laws of nature the more
incredible do miracles become,--that the men at that time were ignorant and
credulous to a degree almost incomprehensible by us,--that the Gospels
cannot be proved to have been written simultaneously with the events,--that
they differ in many important details, far too important, as it seemed to
me, to be admitted as the usual inaccuracies of eye-witnesses;--by such
reflections as these, which I give not as having the least novelty or
value, but as they influenced me, I gradually came to disbelieve in
Christianity as a divine revelation. The fact that many false religions
have spread over large portions of the earth like wild-fire had some weight
with me.

"But I was very unwilling to give up my belief; I feel sure of this, for I
can well remember often and often inventing day-dreams of old letters
between distinguished Romans, and manuscripts being discovered at Pompeii
or elsewhere, which confirmed in the most striking manner all that was
written in the Gospels. But I found it more and more difficult, with free
scope given to my imagination, to invent evidence which would suffice to
convince me. Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at
last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress.

"Although I did not think much about the existence of a personal God until
a considerably later period of my life, I will here give the vague
conclusions to which I have been driven. The old argument from design in
Nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive,
fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can
no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell
must have been made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door by
man. There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic
beings, and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which
the wind blows. But I have discussed this subject at the end of my book on
the 'Variations of Domesticated Animals and Plants' (My father asks whether
we are to believe that the forms are preordained 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, 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 groundwork through natural selection of
the formation of the most perfectly adapted animals in the world, man
included, were intentionally and specially guided."--'The Variation of
Animals and Plants,' 1st Edition volume ii. page 431.--F.D.), 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 generally 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 happiness; whether
the world as a whole is a good or bad one. According to my judgment
happiness decidedly prevails, though this would be very difficult to prove.
If the truth of this conclusion be granted, it harmonises well with the
effects which we might expect from natural selection. If all the
individuals of any species were habitually to suffer to an extreme degree,
they would neglect to propagate their kind; but we have no reason to
believe that this has ever, or at least often occurred. Some other
considerations, moreover, lead to the belief that all sentient beings have
been formed so as to enjoy, as a general rule, happiness.

"Everyone who believes, as I do, that all the corporeal and mental organs
(excepting those which are neither advantageous nor disadvantageous to the
possessor) of all beings have been developed through natural selection, or
the survival of the fittest, together with use or habit, will admit that
these organs have been formed so that their possessors may compete
successfully with other beings, and thus increase in number. Now an animal
may be led to pursue that course of action which is most beneficial to the
species by suffering, such as pain, hunger, thirst, and fear; or by
pleasure, as in eating and drinking, and in the propagation of the species,
etc.; 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 sociability,
and from loving our families. The sum of such pleasures 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 disputes. Some have
attempted to explain this with reference to man by imagining that it serves
for his moral improvement. But the number of men in the world is as
nothing compared with that of all other sentient beings, and they often
suffer greatly without any moral improvement. This very old argument from
the existence of suffering against the existence of an intelligent First
Cause seems to me a strong one; whereas, as just remarked, the presence of
much suffering agrees well with the view that all organic beings have been
developed through variation and natural selection.

"At the present day the most usual argument for the existence 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 grandeur of a Brazilian forest, "it is not possible to give an adequate
idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion, which fill
and elevate the mind." I well remember my conviction that there is more in
man than the mere breath of his body. But now the grandest scenes would
not cause any such convictions and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be
truly said that I am like a man 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 difficult it may be to explain
the genesis of this sense, it can hardly be advanced as an argument for the
existence of God, any more than the powerful though vague and similar
feelings excited by music.

"With respect to immortality, nothing shows me [so clearly] how strong and
almost instinctive a belief it is, as the 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 sentient beings are doomed to
complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress. To those
who fully admit the immortality of the human soul, the destruction of our
world will not appear so dreadful.

"Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the
reason, and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight.
This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of
conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his
capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of
blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look
to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to
that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist. This conclusion was
strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote
the 'Origin of Species;' and it is since that time that it has very
gradually, with many fluctuations, become weaker. But then arises the
doubt, can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed
from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animals, be trusted when
it draws such grand conclusions?

"I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The
mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one
must be content to remain an 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 'Macmillan's Magazine,' for July 1861.]

July 11 [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 (The 'Origin of Species.') perfectly, and that
I find a very rare event with my critics. The ideas in the last page have
several times vaguely crossed my mind. Owing to several correspondents I
have been led lately to think, or rather to try to think over some of the
chief points discussed by you. But the result has been with me a maze--
something like thinking on the origin of evil, to which you allude. The
mind refuses to look at this universe, being what it is, without having
been designed; yet, where one would most expect design, viz. in the
structure of a sentient being, the more I think on the subject, the less I
can see proof of design. Asa Gray and some others look at each variation,
or at least at each beneficial variation (which A. Gray would compare with
the rain drops (Dr. Gray's rain-drop metaphor occurs in the Essay 'Darwin
and his Reviewers' ('Darwiniana,' page 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
multitudes 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 life?") which do not fall on the sea, but on to the land to
fertilize it) as having been providentially designed. Yet when I ask him
whether he looks at each variation in the rock-pigeon, by which man has
made by accumulation a pouter or fantail pigeon, as providentially designed
for man's amusement, he does not know what to answer; and if he, or any
one, admits [that] these variations are accidental, as far as purpose is
concerned (of course not accidental as to their cause or origin); then I
can see no reason why he should rank the accumulated variations by which
the beautifully adapted woodpecker has been formed, as providentially
designed. For it would be easy to imagine the enlarged crop of the pouter,
or tail of the fantail, as of some use to birds, in a state of nature,
having peculiar habits of life. These are the considerations which perplex
me about design; but whether you will care to hear them, I know not.


[On the subject of design, he wrote (July 1860) to Dr. Gray:

"One word more on 'designed laws' and 'undesigned results.' I see a bird
which I want for food, take my gun and kill it, I do this DESIGNEDLY. An
innocent and good man stands under a tree and is killed by a flash of
lightning. Do you believe (and I really should like to hear) that God
DESIGNEDLY killed this man? Many or most persons do believe this; I can't
and don't. If you believe so, do you believe that when a swallow snaps up
a gnat that God designed that that 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 their FIRST birth or
production should be necessarily designed."]

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, etc. etc., hold good, and I cannot see that there is then
necessarily any purpose. Would there be purpose 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.
(The Duke of Argyll ('Good Words,' Ap. 1885, page 244) has recorded a few
words on this subject, spoken by my father in the last year of his life.
" the course of that conversation I said to Mr. Darwin, with reference
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 contrivances 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.'") But then with me the horrid doubt always
arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from
the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.
Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any
convictions in such a mind? Secondly, I think that I could make somewhat
of a case against the enormous importance which you attribute to our
greatest men; I have been accustomed to think, second, third, and fourth
rate men of very high importance, at least in the case of Science. Lastly,
I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the
progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what
risk the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago of being
overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The more
civilised so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the
struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what
an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the
higher civilized races throughout the world. But I will write no more, and
not even mention the many points in your work which have much interested
me. I have indeed cause to apologise for troubling you with my
impressions, and my sole excuse is the excitement in my mind which your
book has aroused.

I beg leave to remain,
Dear Sir,
Yours faithfully and obliged,

[My father spoke little on these subjects, and I can contribute 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, however, 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 positions of my
father and Dr. Aveling: and I say this in spite of my conviction 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 (page 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 connected account of
the growth of the 'Origin of Species,' I have taken the more important
letters bearing on that subject out of their proper chronological position
here, and placed them with the rest of the correspondence bearing on the
same subject; so that in the present group of letters we only get
occasional hints of the growth of my father's views, and we may suppose
ourselves to be looking at his life, as it might have been looked at by
those who had no knowledge of the quiet development of his theory of
evolution during this period.

On September 14, 1842, my father left London with his family and settled at
Down. (I must not omit to mention a member of the household who
accompanied 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.") In the Autobiographical
chapter, his motives for taking this step in the country are briefly given.
He speaks of the attendance at scientific societies, and ordinary social
duties, as suiting his health so "badly that we resolved to live in the
country, which we both preferred and have never repented of." His
intention of keeping up with scientific life in London is expressed in a
letter to Fox (December, 1842):--

"I hope by going up to town for a night every fortnight or three weeks, to
keep up my communication with scientific men and my own zeal, and so not to
turn into a complete Kentish hog."

Visits to London of this kind were kept up for some years at the cost of
much exertion on his part. I have often heard him speak of the wearisome
drives of ten miles to or from Croydon or Sydenham--the nearest stations--
with an old gardener acting as coachman, who drove with great caution and
slowness up and down the many hills. In later years, all regular
scientific intercourse with London became, as before mentioned, an

The choice of Down was rather the result of despair than of actual
preference; my father and mother were weary of house-hunting, and the
attractive points about the place thus seemed to them to counterbalance its
somewhat more obvious faults. It had at least one desideratum, namely
quietness. Indeed it would have been difficult to find a more retired
place so near to London. In 1842 a coach drive of some twenty miles was
the only means of access to Down; and even now that railways have crept
closer to it, it is singularly out of the world, with nothing to suggest
the neighbourhood 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 Edenbridge. 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 funerals: but as a boy I remember the purple or green smocks
of the men at church.

The house stands a quarter of a mile from the village, and is built, like
so many houses of the last century, as near as possible to the road--a
narrow lane winding away to the Westerham high-road. In 1842, it was dull
and unattractive enough: a square brick building of three storeys, covered
with shabby whitewash and hanging tiles. The garden had none of the
shrubberies or walls that now give shelter; it was overlooked from the
lane, and was open, bleak, and desolate. One of my father's first
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
excavated was used in making banks and mounds round the lawn: these were
planted with evergreens, which now give to the garden its retired and
sheltered 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 bow became covered with a tangle of creepers,
and pleasantly varied the south side of the house. The drawing-room, with
its verandah opening into the garden, as well as the study in which my
father worked during the later years of his life, were added at subsequent

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 perfectly 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 absolutely 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
Panagaeus 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 contemporary notices are few and of no particular
value for my purpose,--which therefore must, in spite of a good deal of
pains, remain unfulfilled.

His 'Journal of Researches' was then the only one of his books which had
any chance of being commonly known. But the fact that it was published
with the 'Voyages' of Captains King and Fitz-Roy probably interfered with
its general popularity. Thus Lyell wrote to him in 1838 ('Lyell's Life,'
ii. page 43), "I assure you my father is quite enthusiastic about your
journal...and he agrees with me that it would have a large sale if
published separately. He was disappointed at hearing that it was to be
fettered by the other volumes, for, although he should equally buy it, he
feared so many of the public would be checked from doing so." In a notice
of the three voyages in the 'Edinburgh Review' (July, 1839), there is
nothing leading a reader to believe that he would find it more attractive
than its fellow-volumes. And, as a fact, it did not become widely known
until it was separately published in 1845. It may be noted, however, that
the 'Quarterly Review' (December, 1839) called the attention of its readers
to the merits of the 'Journal' as a book of travels. The reviewer speaks
of the "charm arising from the freshness of heart which is thrown over
these virgin pages of a strong intellectual man and an acute and deep

The German translation (1844) of the 'Journal' received a favourable notice
in No. 12 of the 'Heidelberger Jahrbucher 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, and was published 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 published, as we have seen, in 1842. For the sake of the non-
geological reader, I may here quote Professor Geikie's words (Charles
Darwin, 'Nature' Series, 1882.) on these two volumes--which were up to this
time my father's chief geological works. Speaking of the 'Coral Reefs,' he
says:--page 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 continents, 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 lightly over;
and how, step by step, one was led to the grand conclusion of wide oceanic
subsidence. No more admirable example of scientific method was ever given
to the world, and even if he had written nothing else, the treatise alone
would have placed Darwin in the very front of investigators of nature."

It is interesting to see in the following extract from one of Lyell's
letters (To Sir John Herschel, May 24, 1837. 'Life of Sir Charles Lyell,'
vol. ii. page 12.) 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, etc.
Coral islands are the last efforts of drowning continents to lift their
heads above water. Regions of elevation and subsidence in the ocean may be
traced by the state of the coral reefs." There is little to be said as to
published contemporary criticism. The book was not reviewed in the
'Quarterly Review' till 1847, when a favourable notice was given. The
reviewer speaks of the "bold and startling" character of the work, but
seems to recognize the fact that the views are generally accepted by
geologists. By that time the minds of men were becoming more ready to
receive geology of this type. Even ten years before, in 1837, Lyell ('Life
of Sir Charles Lyell,' vol. ii. page 6.) says, "people are now much better
prepared to believe Darwin when he advances proofs of the slow rise of the
Andes, than they were in 1830, when I first startled them with that
doctrine." This sentence refers to the theory elaborated in my father's
geological observations on South America (1846), but the gradual change in
receptivity of the geological mind must have been favourable to all his
geological work. Nevertheless, Lyell seems at first not to have expected
any ready acceptance of the Coral theory; thus he wrote to my father in
1837:--"I could think of nothing for days after your lesson on coral reefs,
but of the tops of submerged continents. It is all true, but do not
flatter yourself that you will be believed till you are growing bald like
me, with hard work and vexation at the incredulity of the world."

The second part of the 'Geology of the Voyage of the "Beagle",' i.e. the
volume on Volcanic Islands, which specially concerns us now, cannot be
better described than by again quoting from Professor Geikie (page 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." Professor Geikie continues (page 21): "He is one of the
earliest 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 account 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
own work. "You have pleased me much by saying that you intend looking
through my 'Volcanic Islands': it cost me eighteen months!!! and I have
heard of very few who have read it. Now I shall feel, whatever little (and
little it is) there is confirmatory of old work, or new, will work its
effect and not be lost."

The third of his geological books, 'Geological Observations on South
America,' may be mentioned here, although it was not published until 1846.
"In this work the author embodied all the materials collected by him for
the illustration of South American Geology, save some which have been
published elsewhere. One of the most important features of the book was
the evidence which it brought forward to prove the slow interrupted
elevation of the South American Continent during a recent geological
period." (Geikie, loc. cit.)

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 Lyell's teaching "by the way in which he gathered from all
parts of the world facts in its support."


The work of these years may be roughly divided into a period of geology
from 1842 to 1846, and one of zoology from 1846 onwards.

I extract from his diary notices of the time spent on his geological books
and on his 'Journal.'

'Volcanic Islands.' Summer of 1842 to January, 1844.

'Geology of South America.' July, 1844, to April, 1845.

Second Edition of 'The Journal,' October, 1845, to October, 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 1851 and 1854. His volumes on the Fossil
Cirripedes were published by the Palaeontographical Society in 1851 and

Some account of these volumes will be given later.

The minor works may be placed together, independently of subject matter.

"Observations on the Structure, etc., of the genus Sagitta," Ann. Nat.
Hist. xiii., 1844, pages 1-6.

"Brief descriptions of several Terrestrial Planariae, etc.," Ann. Nat.
Hist. xiv., 1844, pages 241-251.

"An Account of the Fine Dust (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 have been brought at
least 330 miles from the land is interesting as bearing on the distribution
of Cryptogamic plants.") which often Falls on Vessels in the Atlantic
Ocean," Geol. Soc. Journ. ii., 1846, pages 26-30.

"On the Geology of the Falkland Islands," Geol. Soc. Journ. ii., 1846,
pages 267-274.

"On the Transportal of Erratic Boulders, etc.," Geol. Soc. Journ. iv.,
1848, pages 315-323. (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 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,' etc. 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 wroth.")

The article "Geology," in the Admiralty Manual of Scientific Enquiry
(1849), pages 156-195. This was written in the spring of 1848.

"On British Fossil Lepadidae," 'Geol. Soc. Journ.' vi., 1850, pages 439-

"Analogy of the structure of some Volcanic Rocks with that of Glaciers,"
'Edin. Roy. Soc. Proc.' ii., 1851, pages 17-18.

Professor Geikie has been so good as to give me (in a letter dated November
1885) his impressions of my father's article in the 'Admiralty Manual.' He
mentions the following points as characteristic of the work:--

"1. Great breadth of view. No one who had not practically studied and
profoundly reflected on the questions discussed could have written it.

"2. The insight so remarkable in all that Mr. Darwin ever did. The way in
which he points out lines of enquiry that would elucidate geological
problems is eminently typical of him. Some of these lines have never yet
been adequately followed; so with regard to them he was in advance of his

"3. Interesting and sympathetic treatment. The author at once puts his
readers into harmony with him. He gives them enough of information to show
how delightful the field is to which he invites them, and how much they
might accomplish in it. There is a broad sketch of the subject which
everybody can follow, and there is enough of detail to instruct and guide a
beginner and start him on the right track.

"Of course, geology has made great strides since 1849, and the article, if
written now, would need to take notice of other branches of inquiry, and to
modify statements which are not now quite accurate; but most of the advice
Mr. Darwin gives is as needful and valuable now as when it was given. It
is curious to see with what unerring instinct he seems to have fastened on
the principles that would stand the test of time."

In a letter to Lyell (1853) my father wrote, "I went up for a paper by the
Arctic Dr. Sutherland, on ice action, read only in abstract, but I should
think with much good matter. It was very pleasant to hear that it was
written owing to the Admiralty Manual."

To give some idea of the retired life which now began for my father at
Down, I have noted from his diary the short periods during which he was
away from home between the autumn of 1842, when he came to Down, and the
end of 1854.

1843 July.--Week at Maer and Shrewsbury.
October.--Twelve days at Shrewsbury.

1844 April.--Week at Maer and Shrewsbury.
July.--Twelve days at Shrewsbury.

1845 September 15.--Six weeks, "Shrewsbury, Lincolnshire, York,
the Dean of Manchester, Waterton, Chatsworth."

1846 February.--Eleven days at Shrewsbury.
July.--Ten days at Shrewsbury.
September.--Ten days at Southampton, etc., for the British

1847 February.--Twelve days at Shrewsbury.
June.--Ten days at Oxford, etc., for the British Association.
October.--Fortnight at Shrewsbury.

1848 May.--Fortnight at Shrewsbury.
July.--Week at Swanage.
October.--Fortnight at Shrewsbury.
November.--Eleven days at Shrewsbury.

1849 March to June.--Sixteen weeks at Malvern.
September.--Eleven days at Birmingham for the British Association.

1850 June.--Week at Malvern.
August.--Week at Leith Hill, the house of a relative.
October.--Week at the house of another relative.

1851 March.--Week at Malvern.
April.--Nine days at Malvern.
July.--Twelve days in London.

1852 March.--Week at Rugby and Shrewsbury.
September.--Six days at the house of a relative.

1853 July.--Three weeks at Eastbourne.
August.--Five days at the military Camp at Chobham.

1854 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-health.]


Down [March 31st, 1843].

Dear Fitz-Roy,

I read yesterday with surprise and the greatest interest, your appointment
as Governor of New Zealand. I do not know whether to congratulate you on
it, but I am sure I may the Colony, on possessing your zeal and energy. I
am most anxious to know whether the report is true, for I cannot bear the
thoughts of your leaving the country without seeing you once again; the
past is often in my memory, and I feel that I owe to you much bygone
enjoyment, 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,

[A quotation from another letter (1846) to Fitz-Roy may be worth giving, as
showing my father's affectionate remembrance of his old Captain.

"Farewell, dear Fitz-Roy, I often think of your many acts of kindness to
me, and not seldomest on the time, no doubt quite forgotten by you, when,
before making Madeira, you came and arranged my hammock with your own
hands, and which, as I afterwards heard, brought tears into my father's

[Down, September 5, 1843.]
Monday morning.

My dear Fox,

When I sent off the glacier paper, I was just going out and so had no time
to write. I hope your friend will enjoy (and I wish you were going there
with him) his tour as much as I did. It was a kind of geological novel.
But your friend must have patience, for he will not get a good GLACIAL EYE
for a few days. Murchison and Count Keyserling RUSHED through North Wales
the same autumn and could see nothing except the effects of rain trickling
over the rocks! I cross-examined Murchison a little, and evidently saw he
had looked carefully at nothing. I feel CERTAIN about the glacier-effects
in North Wales. Get up your steam, if this weather lasts, and have a
ramble in Wales; its glorious scenery must do every one's heart and body
good. I wish I had energy to come to Delamere and go with you; but as you
observe, you might as well ask St. Paul's. Whenever I give myself a trip,
it shall be, I think, to Scotland, to hunt for more parallel roads. My
marine theory for these roads was for a time knocked on the head by Agassiz
ice-work, but it is now reviving again...

Farewell,--we are getting nearly finished--almost all the workmen gone, and
the gravel laying down on the walks. Ave Maria! how the money does go.
There are twice as many temptations to extravagance in the country compared
with London. Adios.


Down [1844?].

...I have also read the 'Vestiges,' ('The Vestiges of the Natural History
of Creation' was published anonymously in 1844, and is confidently believed
to have been written by 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."), but have
been somewhat less amused at it than you appear to have been: the writing
and arrangement are certainly admirable, but his geology strikes me as bad,
and his zoology far worse. I should be very much obliged, if at any future
or leisure time you could tell me on what you ground your doubtful belief
in imagination of a mother affecting her offspring. (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 special
injunctions to be careful.) 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 CONFINEMENT, whether
anything had affected her imagination, and recorded the answers; and
absolutely not one case came right, though, when the child was anything
remarkable, they afterwards made the cap to fit. Reproduction seems
governed by such similar laws in the whole animal kingdom, that I am most
loth [to believe]...

Down [1844 or 1845].

My dear Herbert,

I was very glad to see your handwriting and hear a bit of news about you.
Though you cannot come here this autumn, I do hope you and Mrs. Herbert
will come in the winter, and we will have lots of talk of old times, and
lots of Beethoven.

I have little or rather nothing to say about myself; we live like clock-
work, and in what most people would consider the dullest possible manner.
I have of late been slaving extra hard, to the great discomfiture of
wretched digestive organs, at South America, and thank all the fates, I
have done three-fourths of it. Writing plain English grows with me more
and more difficult, and never attainable. As for your pretending that you
will read anything so dull as my pure geological descriptions, lay not such
a flattering unction on my soul (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.'") for it is incredible. I have long discovered
that geologists never read each other's works, and that the only object in
writing a book is a proof of earnestness, and that you do not form your
opinions without undergoing labour of some kind. Geology is at present
very oral, and what I here say is to a great extent quite true. But I am
giving you a discussion as long as a chapter in the odious book itself.

I have lately been to Shrewsbury, and found my father surprisingly well and

Believe me, my dear old friend, ever yours,

Down, Monday [February 10th, 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 Professorship (Sir J.D. Hooker
was a candidate for the Professorship of Botany at Edinburgh University.),
and most heartily deplore it on my own account. There is something so
chilling in a separation of so many hundred miles, though we did not see
much of each other when nearer. You will hardly believe how deeply I
regret for MYSELF your present prospects. I had looked forward to [our]
seeing much of each other during our lives. It is a heavy disappointment;
and in a mere selfish point of view, as aiding me in my work, your loss is
indeed irreparable. But, on the other hand, I cannot doubt that you take
at present a desponding, instead of bright, view of your prospects: surely
there are great advantages, as well as disadvantages. The place is one of
eminence; and really it appears to me there are so many indifferent
workers, and so few readers, that it is a high advantage, in a purely
scientific point of view, for a good worker to hold a position which leads
others to attend to his work. I forget whether you attended Edinburgh, as
a student, but in my time there was a knot of men who were far from being
the indifferent and dull listeners which you expect for your audience.
Reflect what a satisfaction and honour it would be to MAKE a good botanist
--with your disposition you will be to many what Henslow was at Cambridge
to me and others, a most kind friend and guide. Then what a fine garden,
and how good a Public Library! why, Forbes always regrets the advantages of
Edinburgh for work: think of the inestimable advantage of getting within a
short walk of those noble rocks and hills and sandy shores near Edinburgh!
Indeed, I cannot pity you much, though I pity myself exceedingly in your
loss. Surely lecturing will, in a year or two, with your GREAT capacity
for work (whatever you may be pleased to say to the contrary) become easy,
and you will have a fair time for your Antarctic Flora and general views of
distribution. If I thought your Professorship would stop your work, I
should wish it and all the good worldly consequences at el Diavolo. I know
I shall live to see you the first authority in Europe on that grand
subject, that almost keystone of the laws of creation, Geographical
Distribution. Well, there is one comfort, you will be at Kew, no doubt,
every year, so I shall finish by forcing down your throat my sincere
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 do not, however, mean proof plates; I value them, as
saving me copying extracts. Farewell, my dear Hooker, with a heavy heart I
wish you joy of your prospects.

Your sincere friend,

[The second edition of the 'Journal,' to which the following letter refers,
was completed between April 25th and August 25th. It was published by Mr.
Murray in the 'Colonial and Home Library,' and in this more accessible form
soon had a large sale.

Up to the time of his first negotiations with Mr. Murray for its
publication in this form, he had received payment only in the form of a
large number of presentation copies, and he seems to have been glad to sell
the copyright of the second edition to Mr. Murray for 150 pounds.

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.]

Down [July, 1845].

My dear Lyell,

I send you the first part (No doubt proof-sheets.) 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 (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.'"), and
I trust that this cannot be disagreeable. I have long wished, not so much
for your sake, as for my own feelings of honesty, to acknowledge more
plainly than by mere reference, how much I geologically owe you. Those
authors, however, 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 dedication can
any ways gratify you, except so far as I trust you will receive it, as a
most sincere mark of my gratitude and friendship. I think I have improved
this edition, especially the second part, which I have just finished. I
have added a good deal about the Fuegians, and cut down into half the
mercilessly long discussion on climate and glaciers, etc. I do not
recollect anything added to the first part, long enough to call your
attention to; there is a page of description of a very curious breed of
oxen in Banda Oriental. I should like you to read the few last pages;
there is a little discussion on extinction, which will not perhaps strike
you as new, though it has so struck me, and has placed in my mind all the
difficulties with respect to the causes of extinction, in the same class
with other difficulties which are generally quite overlooked and
undervalued by naturalists; I ought, however, to have made my discussion
longer and shewn by facts, as I easily could, how steadily every species
must be checked in its numbers.

I received your Travels ('Travels in North America,' 2 volumes, 1845.)
yesterday; and I like exceedingly its external and internal appearance; I
read only about a dozen pages last night (for I was tired with hay-making),
but I saw quite enough to perceive how VERY much it will interest me, and
how many passages will be scored. I am pleased to find a good sprinkling
of Natural History; I shall be astonished if it does not sell very

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,

Down, Saturday [August 1st, 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.
(Of the second edition of the 'Journal of Researches.') Your note pleased
me a good deal more I dare say than my dedication did you, and I thank you
much for it. Your work has interested me much, and I will give you my
impressions, though, as I never thought you would care to hear what I
thought of the non-scientific parts, I made no notes, nor took pains to
remember any particular impression of two-thirds of the first volume. The
first impression I should say would be with most (though I have literally
seen not one soul since reading it) regret at there not being more of the
non-scientific [parts]. I am not a good judge, for I have read nothing,
i.e. non-scientific about North America, but the whole struck me as very
new, fresh, and interesting. Your discussions bore to my mind the evident
stamp of matured thought, and of conclusions drawn from facts observed by
yourself, and not from the opinions of the people whom you met; and this I
suspect is 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 show 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
geographical ignorance of the reader; but I not knowing a single place, was
occasionally rather plagued in tracing your course. Sometimes in the
beginning of a chapter, in one paragraph your course was traced through a
half dozen places; anyone, as ignorant as myself, if he could be found,
would prefer such a disturbing paragraph left out. I cut your map loose,
and I found that a great comfort; I could not follow your engraved track.
I think in a second edition, interspaces here and there of one line open,
would be an improvement. By the way, I take credit to myself in giving my
Journal a less scientific air in having printed all names of species and
genera in Romans; the printing looks, also, better. All the illustrations
strike me as capital, and the map is an admirable volume in itself. If
your 'Principles' had not met with such universal admiration, I should have
feared there would have been too much geology in this for the general
reader; certainly all that the most clear and light style could do, has
been done. To myself the geology was an excellent, well-condensed, well-
digested resume of all that has been made out in North America, and every
geologist ought to be grateful to you. The summing up of the Niagara
chapter appeared to me the grandest part; I was also deeply interested by
your discussion on the origin of the Silurian formations. I have made
scores of SCORES marking passages hereafter useful to me.

All the coal theory appeared to me very good; but it is no use going on
enumerating in this manner. I wish there had been more Natural History; I
liked ALL the scattered fragments. I have now given you an exact
transcript of my thoughts, but they are hardly worth your reading...

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 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 (In the passage referred to, Lyell does not give his own views,
but those of a planter.) 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 Lindley abides by the
carbonic acid gas theory. By the way, I was much pleased by Lindley
picking out my extinction paragraphs and giving them uncurtailed. To my
mind, putting the comparative rarity of existing species in the same
category with extinction has removed a great weight; though of course it
does not explain anything, it shows that until we can explain comparative
rarity, we ought not to feel any surprise at not explaining extinction...

I am much pleased to hear of the call for a new edition of the
'Principles': what glorious good that work has done. I fear this time you
will not be amongst the old rocks; how I shall rejoice to live to see you
publish and discover another stage below the Silurian--it would be the
grandest step possible, 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 everything which you say of his

Shrewsbury [1845?].

My dear Hooker,

I have just received your note, which has astonished me, and has most truly
grieved me. I never for one minute doubted of your success, for I most
erroneously imagined, that merit was sure to gain the day. I feel most
sure that the day will come soon, when those who have voted against you, if
they have any shame or conscience in them, will be ashamed at having
allowed politics to blind their eyes to your qualifications, and those
qualifications vouched for by Humboldt and Brown! Well, those testimonials
must be a consolation to you. Proh pudor! I am vexed and indignant by
turns. I cannot even take comfort in thinking that I shall see more of
you, and extract more knowledge from your well-arranged stock. I am
pleased to think, that after having read a few of your letters, I never
once doubted the position you will ultimately hold amongst European
Botanists. I can think about nothing else, otherwise I should like [to]
discuss 'Cosmos' (A translation of Humboldt's 'Kosmos.') 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,

October 8th [1845], Shrewsbury.

...I have lately been taking a little tour to see a farm I have purchased
in Lincolnshire (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 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.") and then
to York, where I visited the Dean of Manchester (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, etc., etc. 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.") 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 (Sedgwick's
review of the 'Vestiges of Creation' in the 'Edinburgh Review,' July,
1845.) 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 mutability of species, and I read it with fear and
trembling, but was well pleased to find that I had not overlooked any of
the arguments, though I had put them to myself as feebly as milk and water.
Have you read 'Cosmos' yet? The English translation is wretched, and the
semi-metaphysico-politico descriptions in the first part are barely
intelligible; but I think the volcanic discussion well worth your
attention, it has astonished me by its vigour and information. I grieve to
find Humboldt an adorer of Von Buch, with his classification of volcanos,
craters of elevation, etc., etc., and carbonic acid gas atmosphere. He is
indeed a wonderful man.

I hope to get home in a fortnight and stick to my wearyful 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,

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 (Sir J.D. Hooker's Antarctic
Botany.), and I send you a uniquely laudatory epistle, considering it was
from a man who hardly knows a Daisy from a Dandelion to a professed

I cannot remember what papers have given me the impression, but I have
that, which you state to be the case, firmly fixed on my mind, namely, the
little chemical importance of the soil to its vegetation. What a strong
fact it is, as R. Brown once remarked to me, of certain plants being
calcareous ones here, which are not so under a more favourable 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.' ('Journal of the Horticultural
Society,' 1846.) Have you read it: it struck me as extremely original,
and bears DIRECTLY on your present researches. (Sir J.D. Hooker was at
this time attending to polymorphism, variability, etc.) 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?) And why cannot you come here afterward and


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
Cirripedes. Indeed it would seem that his original intention was, as I
learn from Sir J.D. Hooker, merely to work out one special problem. This
is quite in keeping with the following passage in the Autobiography: "When
on the coast of Chile, I found a most curious form, which burrowed into the
shells of Concholepas, and which differed so much from all other Cirripedes
that I had to form a new sub-order for its sole reception...To understand
the structure of my new Cirripede I had to examine and dissect many of the
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 he wrote in his Autobiography--"My work
was of considerable use to me, when I had to discuss in the 'Origin of
Species,' the principles of a natural classification. Nevertheless I doubt
whether the work was worth the consumption of so much time." Yet I learn
from Sir J.D. Hooker that he certainly recognised at the time its value to
himself as systematic training. Sir Joseph writes to me: "Your father
recognised three stages in his career as a biologist: the mere collector
at Cambridge; the collector and observer in the "Beagle", and for some
years afterwards; and the trained naturalist after, and only after the
Cirripede work. That he was a thinker all along is true enough, and there
is a vast deal in his writings previous to the Cirripedes that a trained
naturalist could but emulate...He often alluded to it as a valued
discipline, and added that even the 'hateful' work of digging out synonyms,
and of describing, not only improved his methods but opened his eyes to the
difficulties and merits of the works of the dullest of cataloguers. One
result was that he would never allow a depreciatory remark to pass
unchallenged on the poorest class of scientific workers, provided that
their work was honest, and good of its kind. I have always regarded it as
one of the finest traits 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

"Like the rest of us, he had no proper training in biological science, and
it has always struck me as a remarkable instance of his scientific insight,
that he saw the necessity of giving himself such training, and of his
courage, that he did not shirk the labour of obtaining it.

"The great danger which besets all men of large speculative faculty, is the
temptation to deal with the accepted statements of facts in natural
science, as if they were not only correct, but exhaustive; as if they might
be dealt with deductively, in the same way as propositions in Euclid may be
dealt with. In reality, every such statement, however true it may be, is
true only relatively to the means of 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 relation to Taxonomy--
and he acquired this by his Cirripede work.

"Thus, in my apprehension, the value of the Cirripede monograph lies not
merely in the fact that it is a very admirable piece of work, and
constituted a great addition to positive knowledge, but still more in the
circumstance that it was a piece of critical self-discipline, the effect of
which manifested 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 practicable, to have supplemented it by a
special study of embryology and physiology. His hands would have been
greatly strengthened thereby when he came to write out sundry chapters of
the 'Origin of Species.' But of course in those days it was almost
impossible for him to find facilities for such work."

No one can look a the two volumes on the recent Cirripedes, 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
fourteen pages of index in the two volumes together, give some rough idea
of the labour spent on the work. (The reader unacquainted with Zoology
will find some account of the more interesting results in Mr. Romanes'
article on "Charles Darwin" ('Nature' Series, 1882).) 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." (Vol. i. page 3.) 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; Coronula took nineteen days, and is described in
twenty-seven pages. Writing to Fitz-Roy, he speaks of being "for the last
half-month daily hard at work in dissecting a little animal about the size
of a pin's head, from the Chonos archipelago, and I could spend another
month, and daily see more beautiful structure."

Though he became excessively weary of the work before the end of the eight
years, he had much keen enjoyment in the course of it. Thus he wrote to
Sir J.D. Hooker (1847?):--"As you say, there is an extraordinary pleasure
in pure observation; not but what I suspect the pleasure in this case is
rather derived from comparisons forming in one's mind with allied
structures. After having been so long employed in writing my old
geological observations, it is delightful to use one's eyes and fingers
again." It was, in fact, a return to the work which occupied so much of
his time when at sea during his voyage. His zoological notes of that
period give an impression of vigorous work, hampered by ignorance and want
of appliances. And his untiring industry in the dissection 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 microscope--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 1/30 is not power

During part of the time covered by the present chapter, my father suffered
perhaps more from ill-health than at any other time of his life. He felt
severely the depressing influence of these long years of illness; thus as
early as 1840 he wrote to Fox: "I am grown a dull, old, spiritless dog to
what I used to be. One gets stupider as one grows older I think." It is
not wonderful that he should so have written, it is rather to be wondered
at that his spirit withstood so great and constant a strain. He wrote to
Sir J.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, he notes in his diary:--"January 1st to March 10th.--Health
very bad, with much sickness and failure of power. Worked on all well
days." This was written just before his first visit to Dr. Gully's Water-
Cure Establishment at Malvern. In April of the same year he wrote:--"I
believe I am going on very well, but I am rather weary of my present
inactive life, and the water-cure has the most extraordinary effect in
producing indolence and stagnation of mind: till experiencing it, I could
not have believed it possible. I now increase in weight, have escaped
sickness for thirty days." He returned in June, after sixteen weeks'
absence, much improved in health, and, as already described, continued the
water-cure at home for some time.]

Down [October, 1846].

My dear Hooker,

I have not heard from Sulivan (Admiral Sir B.J. Sulivan, formerly an
officer of the "Beagle".) lately; when he last wrote he named from 8th to
10th as the most likely time. Immediately that I hear, I will fly you a
line, for the chance of your being able to come. I forget whether you know
him, but I suppose so; he is a real good fellow. Anyhow, if you do not
come then, I am very glad that you propose coming soon after...

I am going to begin some papers on the lower marine animals, which will
last me some months, perhaps a year, and then I shall begin looking over my
ten-year-long accumulation of notes on species and varieties, which, with
writing, I dare say will take me five years, and then, when published, I
dare say I shall stand infinitely low in the opinion of all sound
Naturalists--so this is my prospect for the future.

Are you a good hand at inventing names. I have a quite new and curious
genus of Barnacle, which I want to name, and how to invent a name
completely puzzles me.

By the way, I have told you nothing about Southampton. We enjoyed (wife
and myself) our week beyond measure: the papers were all dull, but I met
so many friends and made so many new acquaintances (especially some of the
Irish Naturalists), and took so many pleasant excursions. I wish you had
been there. On Sunday we had so pleasant an excursion to Winchester with
Falconer (Hugh Falconer, 1809-1865. Chiefly known as a palaeontologist,
although employed as a botanist during his whole career in India, where he
was also a medical officer in the H.E.I.C. Service; he was superintendent
of the Company's garden, first at Saharunpore, and then at Calcutta. 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.), Colonel Sabine (The late Sir Edward Sabine, formerly President of
the Royal Society, and author of a long series of memoirs on Terrestrial
Magnetism.), and Dr. Robinson (The late Dr. Thomas Romney Robinson, of the
Armagh Observatory.), and others. I never enjoyed a day more in my life.
I missed having a look at H. Watson. (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.) 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 declined...

Down, April 7th [1847?}.

My dear Hooker,

I should have written before now, had I not been almost continually unwell,
and at present I am suffering from four boils and swellings, one of which
hardly allows me the use of my right arm, and has stopped all my work, and
damped all my spirits. I was much disappointed at missing my trip to Kew,
and the more so, as I had forgotten you would be away all this month; but I
had no choice, and was in bed nearly all Friday and Saturday. I
congratulate you over your improved prospects about India (Sir J. Hooker
left England on November 11, 1847, for his Himalayan and Tibetan journey.
The expedition was supported by a small grant from the Treasury, and thus
assumed the character of a Government mission.), 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 hypotheses. It will be a horrid shame if money
stops your expedition; 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...

Down [1847].

Dear Jenyns,

("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 information
relating to Zoology and Botany; to Natural History and other scientific
societies; to public Museums and Gardens, in addition to the ordinary
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.)

I am very much obliged for the capital little Almanack; it so happened that
I was wishing for one to keep in my portfolio. I had never seen this kind
before, and shall certainly get one for the future. I think it is very
amusing to have a list before one's eyes of the order of appearance of the
plants and animals around one; it gives a fresh interest to each fine day.
There is one point I should like to see a little improved, viz., the
correction for the clock at 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, i.e., Van Voorst's Almanack, is very dear; it ought, at least,
to be advertised post-free for the shilling. Do you not think a table (not
rules) of conversion of French into English measures, and perhaps weights,
would be exceedingly useful; also centigrade into Fahrenheit,--magnifying
powers according to focal distances?--in fact you might make it the more
useful publication of the age. I know what I should like best of all,
namely, current meteorological 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

Yours very truly,

Down, Sunday [April 18th, 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, otherwise they
would be taken as the types of the species; for he overlooks numerical
frequency as an element. Surely if A, B, C were three varieties, and if A
were a good deal the commonest (therefore, also, first known), it would be
taken as the type, without regarding whether B was quite intermediate or
not, or whether it was rare or not. What capital essays W would write; but
I suppose he has written a good deal in the 'Phytologist.' You ought to
encourage him to publish on variation; it is a shame that such facts as
those in his letter should remain unpublished. I must get you to introduce
me to him; would he be a good and sociable man for Dropmore? (A much
enjoyed expedition made from Oxford--when the British Association met there
in 1847.) though if he comes, Forbes must not (and I think you talked of
inviting Forbes), or we shall have a glorious battle. I should like to see
sometime the war correspondence. Have you the 'Phytologist,' and could you
sometime spare it? I would go through it quickly...I have read your last
five numbers (Of the Botany of Hooker's 'Antarctic Voyage.'), and as usual
have been much interested in several points, especially with your
discussions on the beech and potato. I see you have introduced several
sentences against us Transmutationists. I have also been looking through
the latter volumes of the 'Annals of Natural History,' and have read two
such soulless, pompous papers of --, quite worthy of the author...The
contrast of the papers in the "Annals" with those in the "Annales" is
rather humiliating; so many papers in the former, with short descriptions
of species, without 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

I hope your journey will be very prosperous. Believe me, my dear Hooker,

Ever yours,

P.S.--I think I have only made one new acquaintance of late, that is R.
Chambers; and I have just received a presentation copy of the sixth edition
of the 'Vestiges.' Somehow I now feel perfectly convinced he is the
author. He is in France, and has written to me thence.

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 1
that in twenty years this will be generally admitted (An unfulfilled
prophecy.); 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, i.e., 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

My new microscope is come home (a "splendid plaything," as old R. Brown
called it), and I am delighted with it; it really is a splendid plaything.
I have been in London for three days, and saw many of our friends. I was
extremely sorry to hear a not very good account of Sir William. Farewell,
my dear Hooker, and be a good boy, and make Sigillaria a submarine sea-

Ever yours,

Down [May 6th, 1847].

My dear Hooker,

You have made a savage onslaught, and I must try to defend myself. But,
first, let me say that I never write to you except for my own good
pleasure; now I fear that you answer me when busy and without inclination
(and I am sure I should have none if I was as busy as you). Pray do not do
so, and if I thought my writing entailed an answer from you nolens volens,
it would destroy all my pleasure in writing. Firstly, I did not consider
my letter as REASONING, or even as SPECULATION, but simply as mental
rioting; and as I was sending Binney's paper, I poured out to you the
result of reading it. Secondly, you are right, indeed, in thinking me mad,
if you suppose that I would class any ferns as marine plants; but surely
there is a wide distinction between the plants found upright in the coal-
beds and those not upright, and which might have been drifted. Is it not
possible that the same circumstances which have preserved the vegetation in
situ, should have preserved drifted plants? I know Calamites is found
upright; but I fancied its affinities were very obscure, like Sigillaria.
As for Lepidodendron, I forgot its existence, as happens when one goes
riot, and now know neither what it is, or whether upright. If these
plants, i.e. Calamites and Lepidodendron, have VERY CLEAR RELATIONS to
terrestrial vegetables, like the ferns have, and are found 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.

Thirdly, it never entered my head to undervalue botanical relatively to
zoological evidence; except in so far as I thought it was admitted that the
vegetative structure seldom yielded any evidence of affinity nearer than
that of families, and not always so much. And is it not in plants, as
certainly it is in animals, dangerous to judge of habits without very near
affinity. Could a Botanist tell from structure alone that the Mangrove
family, almost or quite alone in Dicotyledons, could live in the sea, and
the Zostera family almost alone among the Monocotyledons? Is it a safe
argument, that because 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 myself, and not burn my fingers by attacking you.
The foundation of my letter, and what is my deliberate opinion, though I
dare say you will think it absurd, is that I would rather trust, caeteris
paribus, pure geological evidence than either zoological or botanical
evidence. I do not say that I would sooner trust POOR geological evidence
than GOOD organic. I think the basis of pure geological reasoning is
simpler (consisting chiefly of the action of water on the crust of the
earth, and its up and down movements) than a basis drawn from the difficult
subject of affinities and of structure in relation to habits. I can hardly
analyze the facts on which I have come to this conclusion; but I can
illustrate it. Pallas's account would lead any one to suppose that the
Siberian strata, with the frozen carcasses, had been quickly deposited, and
hence that the embedded animals had lived in the neighbourhood; but our
zoological knowledge of thirty years ago led every one falsely to reject
this conclusion.

Tell me that an upright fern in situ occurs with Sigillaria and Stigmaria,
or that the affinities of Calamites and Lepidodendron (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 will humbly apologise to you and all Botanists for having let
my mind run riot on a subject on which assuredly I know nothing. But till
I hear this, I shall keep privately to my own opinion with the same
pertinacity and, as you will think, with the same philosophical spirit with
which Koenig maintains that Cheirotherium-footsteps are fuci.

Whether this letter will sink me lower in your opinion, or put me a little
right, I know not, but hope the latter. Anyhow, I have revenged myself
with boring you with a very long epistle. Farewell, and be forgiving.
Ever yours,


P.S.--When will you return to Kew? I have forgotten one main object of my
letter, to thank you MUCH for your offer of the 'Hort. Journal,' but I have
ordered the two numbers.

[The two following extracts [1847] give the continuation and conclusion of
the coal battle.

"By the way, as submarine coal made you so wrath, I thought I would
experimentise on Falconer and Bunbury (The late Sir C. Bunbury, well-known
as a palaeobotanist.) together, and it made [them] even more savage; 'such
infernal nonsense ought to be thrashed out of me.' Bunbury was more polite
and contemptuous. So I now know how to stir up and show off any Botanist.
I wonder whether Zoologists and Geologists have got their tender points; I
wish I could find out."

"I cannot resist thanking you for your most kind note. Pray do not think
that I was annoyed by your letter: I perceived that you had been thinking
with animation, and accordingly 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

CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. (Parts of two letters.)
Down [October, 1847].

I congratulate you heartily on your arrangements being completed, with some
prospect for the future. It will be a noble voyage and journey, but I wish
it was over, I shall miss you selfishly and all ways to a dreadful extent
...I am in great perplexity how we are to meet...I can well understand how
dreadfully busy you must be. If you CANNOT come here, you MUST let me come
to you for a night; for I must have one more chat and one more quarrel with
you over the coal.

By the way, I endeavoured to stir up Lyell (who has been staying here some
days with me) to theorise on the coal: his oolitic UPRIGHT Equisetums are
dreadful for my submarine flora. I should die much easier if some one
would solve me the coal question. I sometimes think it could not have been
formed at all. Old Sir Anthony Carlisle once said to me gravely, that he
supposed Megatherium and such cattle were just sent down from heaven to see
whether the earth would support them; and I suppose the coal was rained
down to puzzle mortals. You must work the coal well in India.

Ever yours,

[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 having come to
you on Thursday, but, as it turned out, I could not, for I was quite unable
to leave Shrewsbury before that day, and I reached home only last night,
much knocked up. 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...

[November, 1847.]

My dear Hooker,

I am very unwell, and incapable of doing anything. I do hope I have not
inconvenienced you. I was so unwell all yesterday, that I was rejoicing
you were not here; for it would have been a bitter mortification to me to
have had you here and not enjoyed your last day. I shall not now see you.
Farewell, and God bless you.

Your affectionate friend,

I will write to you in India.

[In 1847 appeared a paper by Mr. D. Milne (Now Mr. Milne Home. The essay
was published in Transactions of the Edinburgh Royal Society, vol. xvi.),
in which my father's Glen Roy work is criticised, and which is referred to
in the following characteristic extract from a letter to Sir J. Hooker:]
"I have been bad enough for these few last days, having had to think and
write too much about Glen Roy...Mr. Milne having attacked my theory, which
made me horribly sick." I have not been able to find any published reply
to Mr. Milne, so that I imagine the "writing" mentioned was confined to
letters. Mr. Milne's paper was not destructive to the Glen Roy paper, and
this my father recognises in the following extract from a letter to Lyell
(March, 1847). The reference to Chambers is explained by the fact that he
accompanied Mr. Milne in his visit to Glen Roy. "I got R. Chambers to give
me a sketch of Milne's Glen Roy views, and I have re-read my paper, and am,
now that I have heard what is to be said, not even staggered. It is
provoking and humiliating to find that Chambers not only had not read with
any care my paper on this subject, or even looked at the coloured map, so
that the new shelf described by me had not been searched for, and my
arguments and facts of detail not in the least attended to. I entirely
gave up the ghost, and was quite chicken-hearted at the Geological Society,
till you reassured and reminded me of the main facts in the whole case."

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 Continent 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
('Ancient Sea Margins, 1848.' The words quoted by my father should be "the
mobility of the land was an ascendant idea."); he says I 'propound' and
'profess my belief' that Glen Roy is marine, and that the idea was accepted
because the 'mobility of the land was the ascendant idea of the day.' He
adds some very faint UPPER lines in Glen Spean (seen, by the way, by
Agassiz), and has shown that Milne and Kemp are right in there being
horizontal aqueous markings (NOT at coincident levels with those of Glen
Roy) in other parts of Scotland at great heights, and he adds several other
cases. This is the whole of his addition to the data. He not only takes
my line of argument from the buttresses and terraces below the lower shelf
and some other arguments (without acknowledgment), but he sneers at all his
predecessors not having perceived the importance of the short portions of
lines intermediate between the chief ones in Glen Roy; whereas I commence
the description of them with saying, that 'perceiving 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 terraces at lower levels
coincident in height all round Scotland and England, I am inclined to
believe he shows some little probability of there being some leading ones
coincident, but much more exact evidence is required. Would you believe it
credible? he advances as a probable solution to account for the rise of
Great Britain that in some great ocean one-twentieth of the bottom of the
whole aqueous surface of the globe has sunk in (he does not say where he
puts it) for a thickness of half a mile, and this he has calculated would
make an apparent rise of 130 feet."

Down [June, 1848].

My dear Lyell,

Out of justice to Chambers I must trouble you with one line to say, as far
as I am personally concerned in Glen Roy, he has made the amende honorable,
and pleads guilty through inadvertency of taking my two lines of arguments
and facts without acknowledgment. He concluded by saying he "came to the
same point by an independent course of inquiry, which in a small degree
excuses this inadvertency." His letter altogether shows a very good
disposition, and says he is "much gratified with the MEASURED approbation
which you bestow, etc." 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 terraces. He protests it is unfair to call the sinking of the sea
his theory, for that he with care always speaks of mere change of level,
and this is quite true; but the one section in which he shows how he
conceives the sea might sink is so astonishing, that I believe it will with
others, as with me, more than counterbalance his previous caution. I hope
that you may think better of the book than I do.

Yours most truly,

October 6th, 1848.

...I have lately been trying to get up an agitation (but I shall not
succeed, and indeed doubt whether I have time and strength to go on with
it), against the practice of Naturalists appending for perpetuity the name
of the FIRST describer to species. I look at this as a direct premium to
hasty work, to NAMING instead of DESCRIBING. A species ought to have a
name so well known that the addition of the author's name would be
superfluous, and a [piece] of empty vanity. (His contempt for the self-
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 Swaffham 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 Lepturidae, 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 pettiness of collectors, who aimed at nothing
beyond filling their cabinets with rare things.") 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 describers. Botany, I fancy, has not suffered so much as Zoology
from mere NAMING; the characters, fortunately, are more obscure. Have you
ever thought on this point? Why should Naturalists append their own names
to new species, when Mineralogists and Chemists do not do so to new
substances? 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,

was born 2nd of March, 1811, 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
Association, 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); 'Bibliographia
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 collection, 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.))
Down, January 29th [1849].

...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?' if
you 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 enclosed badly drawn-
up paper, thinking that perhaps I would agitate the subject; but the fit
has passed, and I do not suppose I ever shall; I send it you for the CHANCE
of your caring to see my notions. I have been surprised to find in
conversation that several naturalists were of nearly my way of thinking. I
feel sure as long as species-mongers have their vanity tickled by seeing
their own names appended to a species, because they miserably described it
in two or three lines, we shall have the same VAST amount of bad work as at
present, and which is enough to dishearten any man who is willing to work
out any branch with care and time. I find every genus of 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 longer tirade. Read my paper or NOT, just as you like, and
return it whenever you please.

Yours most sincerely,

The Lodge, Tewkesbury, January 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 counteract this evil in
some other way.

The object of appending the name of a man to the name of a species is not
to gratify the vanity of the man, but to indicate more precisely the
species. Sometimes two men will, by accident, give the same name
(independently) to two species of the same genus. More frequently a later
author will misapply the specific name of an older one. Thus the Helix
putris of Montagu is not H. putris of Linnaeus, though Montague 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
species of Corvus has borne the same name, it is, of course, unnecessary to
add the author's name. Yet even here I like the form Corvus frugilegus,
Linn., as it reminds us that this is one of the old species, long known,
and to be found in the 'Systema Naturae,' etc. I fear, therefore, that (at
least until our nomenclature is more definitely settled) it will be
impossible to indicate species with scientific accuracy, without adding the
name of their first author. You may, indeed, do it as you propose, by
saying in Lam. An. Invert., etc., but then this would be incompatible with
the law of priority, for where Lamarck has violated that low, one cannot
adopt his name. It is, nevertheless, highly conducive to accurate
indication to append to the (oldest) specific name ONE good reference to a
standard work, especially to a FIGURE, with an accompanying synonym if
necessary. This method may be cumbrous, but cumbrousness is a far less
evil than uncertainty.

It, moreover, seems hardly possible to carry out the PRIORITY principle,
without the historical aid afforded by appending the author's name to the
specific one. If I, a PRIORITY MAN, called a species C.D., it implies that
C.D. is the oldest name that I know of; but in order that you and others
may judge of the propriety of that name, you must ascertain when, and by
whom, the name was first coined. Now, if to the specific name C.D., I
append the name A.B., of its first describer, I at once furnish you with
the clue to the dates when, and the book in which, this description was
given, and I thus assist you in determining whether C.D. be really the
oldest, and therefore the correct, designation.

I do, however, admit that the priority principle (excellent as it is) has a
tendency, when the author's name is added, to encourage vanity and slovenly
work. I think, however, that much might be done to discourage those
obscure and unsatisfactory definitions of which you so justly complain, by
WRITING DOWN the practice. Let the better disposed naturalists combine to
make a formal protest against all vague, loose, and inadequate definitions
of (supposed) new species. Let a committee (say of the British
Association) be appointed to prepare a sort of CLASS LIST of the various
modern works in which new species are described, arranged in order of
merit. The lowest class would contain the worst examples of the kind, and
their authors would thus be exposed to the obloquy which they deserve, and
be gibbeted in terrorem for the edification of those who may come after.

I have thus candidly stated my views (I hope intelligibly) of what seems
best to be done in the present transitional and dangerous state of
systematic zoology. Innumerable labourers, many of them crotchety and
half-educated, are rushing into the field, and it depends, I think, on the
present generation whether the science is to descend to posterity a chaotic
mass, or possessed of some traces of law and organisation. If we could
only get a congress of deputies from the chief scientific bodies of Europe
and America, something might be done, but, as the case stands, I confess I
do not clearly see my way, beyond humbly endeavouring to reform NUMBER ONE.

Yours ever,

Down, Sunday [February 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,
etc., 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 guesswork (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 laevis; 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 heart-breaking.

I hope you will occasionally turn in your mind my argument 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
intends to work it out, as he knows that his ONLY claim to merit rests on
his work being ably done, and has no relation whatever to NAMING. I give
up one point, and grant that reference to first describer's name should be
given in all 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 systematic works, a
reference, such as I propose, would damp vanity much. I think a very wrong
spirit runs through all Natural History, as if some merit was due to a man
for merely naming and defining a species; I think scarcely any, or none, is
due; if he works out MINUTELY and anatomically any one species, or
systematically a whole group, credit is due, but I must think the mere
defining a species is nothing, and that no INJUSTICE is done him if it be
overlooked, though a great inconvenience to Natural History is thus caused.
I do not think more credit is due to a man for defining a species, than to
a carpenter for making a box. But I am foolish and rabid against species-
mongers, or rather against their vanity; it is useful and necessary work
which must be done; but they act as if they had actually made the species,
and it was their own property.

I use Agassiz's nomenclator; at least two-thirds of the dates in the
Cirripedia are grossly wrong.

I shall do what I can in fossil Cirripedia, and should be very grateful for
specimens; but I do not believe that species (and hardly genera) can be
defined by single valves; as in every recent species yet examined their
forms vary greatly: to describe a species by valves alone, is the same as
to describe a crab from SMALL portions of its carapace alone, these
portions being highly variable, and not, as in Crustacea, modelled over
viscera. I sincerely apologise for the trouble which I have given you, but
indeed I will give no more.

Yours most sincerely,

P.S.--In conversation I found Owen and Andrew Smith much inclined to throw
over the practice of attaching authors' names; I believe if I agitated I
could get a large party to join. W. Thompson agreed some way with me, but
was not prepared to go nearly as far as I am.

Down, February 10th [1849].

My dear Strickland,

I have again to thank you cordially for your letter. Your remarks shall
fructify to some extent, and I will try to be more faithful to rigid virtue
and priority; but as for calling Balanus "Lepas" (which I did not think
of), I cannot do it, my pen won't write it--it is IMPOSSIBLE. I have great
hopes some of my difficulties will disappear, owing to wrong dates in
Agassiz, and to my having to run several genera into one, for I have as yet
gone, in but few cases, to original sources. With respect to adopting my
own notions in my Cirripedia book, I should not like to do so without I
found others approved, and in some public way,--nor, indeed, is it well
adapted, as I can never recognise a species without I have the original
specimen, which, 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...

[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

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 what I was compelled. I thought I was rapidly going the
way of all flesh. Having heard, accidentally, of two persons who had
received much benefit from the water-cure, I got Dr. Gully's book, and made
further enquiries, and at last started here, with wife, children, and all
our servants. We have taken a house for two months, and have been here a
fortnight. I am already a little stronger...Dr. Gully feels pretty sure he
can do me good, which most certainly the regular doctors could not...I feel
certain that the water-cure is no quackery.

How I shall enjoy getting back to Down with renovated health, if such is to
be my good fortune, and resuming the beloved Barnacles. Now I hope that
you will forgive me for my negligence in not having sooner answered your
letter. I was uncommonly interested by the sketch you give of your
intended grand expedition, from which I suppose you will soon be returning.
How earnestly I hope that it may prove in every way successful...

[When my father was at the Water-cure Establishment at Malvern he was
brought into contact with clairvoyance, of which he writes in the following
extract from a letter to Fox, September, 1850.

"You speak about Homoeopathy, which is a subject which makes me more wrath,
even than does Clairvoyance. Clairvoyance so transcends belief, that one's
ordinary faculties 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 clairvoyant girl to report on internal changes, a mesmerist to put
her to sleep--an homoeopathist, viz. Dr. --, and himself as hydropathist!
and the girl recovered."

A passage out of an earlier letter to Fox (December, 1884) 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 of a child, three or four years old (whose parents and self I
well knew) mesmerised by his father, which is the first fact which has
staggered me. I shall not believe fully till I see or hear from good
evidence of animals (as has been stated is possible) not drugged, being put
to stupor; of course the impossibility would not prove mesmerism false; but
it is the only clear experimentum crucis, and I am astonished it has not
been systematically tried. If mesmerism was investigated, 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, and as was likely from a
man who said cats were more easily done than other animals, because they
were so electrical!"]

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, I AM ASTONISHED
AT MY OWN ACCURACY!! If I were to rewrite now my Coral book there is
hardly a sentence I should have to alter, except that I ought to have
attributed more effect to recent volcanic action in checking growth of
coral. When I say all this I ought to add that the CONSEQUENCES of the
theory on areas of subsidence are treated in a separate chapter to which I
have not come, and in this, I suspect, we shall differ more. Dana talks of
agreeing with my theory IN MOST POINTS; I can find out not one in which he
differs. Considering how infinitely more he saw of Coral Reefs than I did,
this is wonderfully satisfactory to me. He treats me most courteously.
There now, my vanity is pretty well satisfied...

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 REAL GOOD abuse, "presumption," etc.,--ended with
saying that the volume appeared "made up of the scraps and rubbish of the
author's portfolio." I most truly enter into what you say, and quite
believe you that you care only for the review with respect to your father;
and that this ALONE would make you like to see extracts from your letters
more properly noticed in this same periodical. I have considered to the
very best of my judgment whether any portion of your present letters are
adapted for the 'Athenaeum' (in which I have no interest; the beasts not
having even NOTICED my three geological volumes which I had sent to them),
and I have come to the conclusion it is better not to send them. I feel
sure, considering all the circumstances, that without you took pains and
wrote WITH CARE, a condensed and finished sketch of some striking feature
in your travels, it is better not to send anything. These two letters are,
moreover, rather too geological for the 'Athenaeum,' and almost require
woodcuts. On the other hand, there are hardly enough details for a
communication to the Geological Society. I have not the SMALLEST DOUBT
that your facts are of the highest interest with regard to glacial action
in the Himalaya; but it struck both Lyell and myself that your evidence
ought to have been given more distinctly...

I have written so lately that I have nothing to say about myself; my health
prevented me going on with a crusade against "mihi" and "nobis," of which
you warn me of the dangers. I showed my paper to three or four
Naturalists, and they all agreed with me to a certain extent: with health
and vigour, I would not have shown a white feather, [and] with aid of half-
a-dozen really good Naturalists, I believe something might have been done
against the miserable and degrading passion of mere species naming. In
your letter you wonder what "Ornamental Poultry" has to do with Barnacles;
but do not flatter yourself that I shall not yet live to finish the
Barnacles, and then make a fool of myself on the subject of species, under
which head ornamental Poultry are very interesting...

The Lodge, Malvern [June, 1849].

...I have got your book ('A Second Visit to the United States.'), 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 religious 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...

September 14th, 1849.

...I go on with my aqueous processes, and very steadily but slowly gain
health and strength. Against all rules, I dined at Chevening with Lord
Mahon, who did me the great honour of calling on me, and how he heard of me
I can't guess. I was charmed with Lady Mahon, and any one might have been
proud at the pieces of agreeableness which came from her beautiful lips
with respect to you. I like old Lord Stanhope very much; though he abused
Geology and Zoology heartily. "To suppose that the Omnipotent God made a
world, found it a failure, and broke it up, and then made it again, and
again broke it up, as the Geologists say, is all fiddle faddle. Describing
Species of birds and shells, etc., is all fiddle faddle..."

I am heartily glad we shall meet at Birmingham, as I trust we shall, if my
health will but keep up. I work now every day at the Cirripedia for 2 1/2
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
mentally with Lord Stanhope, that it is all fiddle faddle; however, the
other day I got a curious case of a unisexual, instead of hermaphrodite
cirripede, in which the female had the common cirripedial character, and in
two valves of her shell had two little pockets, in EACH of which she kept a
little husband; I do not know of any other case where a female invariably
has two husbands. I have one still odder fact, common to several species,
namely, that though they are hermaphrodite, they have small additional, or
as I shall call them, complemental males, one specimen itself hermaphrodite
had no less than SEVEN, of these complemental males attached to it. Truly
the schemes and wonders of Nature are illimitable. But I am running on as
badly about my cirripedia as about Geology; it makes me groan to think that
probably I shall never again have the exquisite pleasure of making out some
new district, of evolving geological light out of some troubled dark
region. So I must make the best of my Cirripedia...

Down, October 12th, 1849.

...By the way, one of the pleasantest parts of the British Association was
my journey down to Birmingham with Mrs. Sabine, Mrs. Reeve, and the
Colonel; also Col. Sykes and Porter. Mrs. Sabine and myself agreed
wonderfully on many points, and in none more sincerely than about you. We
spoke about your letters from the Erebus; and she quite agreed with me,
that you and the AUTHOR (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., page 245.), 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 prevented, by being unwell, from going to
Warwick, though that, i.e., the party, by all accounts, was wonderfully
inferior to Blenheim, not to say anything of that heavenly day at Dropmore.
One gets weary of all the spouting...

You ask about my cold-water cure; I am going on very well, and am certainly
a little better every month, my nights mend much slower than my days. I
have built a douche, and am to go on through all the winter, frost or no
frost. My treatment now is lamp five times per week, and shallow bath for
five minutes afterwards; douche daily for five minutes, and dripping sheet
daily. The treatment is wonderfully tonic, and I have had more better
consecutive days this month than on any previous ones...I am allowed to
work now two and a half hours daily, and I find it as much as I can do, for
the cold-water cure, together with three short walks, is curiously
exhausting; and I am actually FORCED to go to bed at eight o'clock
completely tired. I steadily gain in weight, and eat immensely, and am
never oppressed with my food. I have lost the involuntary twitching of the
muscle, and all the fainting feelings, etc--black spots before eyes, etc.
Dr. Gully thinks he shall quite cure me in six or nine months more.

The greatest bore, which I find in the water-cure, is the having been
compelled to give up all reading, except the newspapers; for my daily two
and a half hours at the Barnacles is fully as much as I can do of anything
which occupies the mind; I am consequently terribly behind in all
scientific books. I have of late been at work at mere species 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 differences
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; 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:]

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 lovable.
Poor dear little soul. Well it is all over...

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 bona 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 therefore enclosing Down; and thirdly,
professions for my boys), and I should like to talk about education, on
which you ask me what we are doing. No one can more truly despise the old
stereotyped stupid classical education than I do; but yet I have not had
courage to break through the trammels. After many doubts we have just sent
our eldest boy to Rugby, where for his age he has been very well placed...I
honour, admire, and envy you for educating your boys at home. What on
earth shall you do with your boys? Towards the end of this month we go to
see W. at Rugby, and thence for five or six days to Susan (His sister.) 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 vigorous. 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 1st volume 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 (His sister.) is much better, and
very flourishing and happy. Catherine (Another sister.) is at Rome, and
has enjoyed it in a degree that is quite astonishing to my dry old 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. (The beetle Panagaeus crux-major.) Ah, in those
days there were no professions for sons, no ill-health to fear for them, no
Californian gold, no French invasions. How paramount the future is to the
present when one is surrounded by children. My dread is hereditary ill-
health. Even death is better for them.

My dear Fox, your sincere friend,

P.S.--Susan has lately been working in a way which I think truly heroic
about the scandalous violation of the Act against children climbing
chimneys. We have set up a little Society in Shrewsbury to prosecute those
who break the law. It is all Susan's doing. She has had very nice letters
from Lord Shaftesbury and the Duke of Sutherland, but the brutal Shropshire
squires are as hard as stones to move. The Act out of London seems most
commonly violated. It makes one shudder to fancy one of one's own children
at seven years old being forced up a chimney--to say nothing of the
consequent loathsome disease and ulcerated limbs, and utter moral
degradation. If you think strongly on this subject, do make some
inquiries; 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.

Down [October 24th, 1852].

My dear Fox,

I received your long and most welcome letter this morning, and will answer
it this evening, as I shall be very busy with an artist, drawing
Cirripedia, and much overworked for the next fortnight. But first you
deserve to be well abused--and pray consider yourself well abused--for
thinking or writing that I could for one minute be bored by any amount of
detail about yourself and belongings. It is just what I like hearing;
believe me that I often think of old days spent with you, and sometimes can
hardly believe what a jolly careless individual one was in those old days.
A bright autumn evening often brings to mind some shooting excursion from
Osmaston. I do indeed regret that we live so far off each other, and that
I am so little locomotive. I have been 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 (To the
Rev. J. Hughes.) of your sister Frances. I believe I have seen her since,
but my memory takes me back some twenty-five years, when she was lying
down. I remember well the delightful expression of her countenance. I
most sincerely wish her all happiness.

I see I have not answered half your queries. We like very well all that we
have seen and heard of Rugby, and have never repented of sending [W.]
there. I feel sure schools have greatly improved since our days; but I
hate schools and the whole system of breaking through the affections of the
family by separating the boys so early in life; but I see no help, and dare
not run the risk of a youth being exposed to the temptations of the world
without having undergone the milder ordeal of a great school.

I 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 substance, and felt
hardly anything.

My dear old friend, yours very affectionately,

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 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-ending
subject, but trust I shall really go to press in a few months with my
second volume on Cirripedes. I have been much pleased by finding some odd
facts in my first volume believed by Owen and a few others, whose good
opinion I regard as final...Do write pretty soon, and tell me all you can
about yourself and family; and I trust your report of yourself may be much
better than your last.

...I have been very little in London of late, and have not seen Lyell since
his return from America; how lucky he was to exhume with his own hand parts
of three skeletons of reptiles out of the CARBONIFEROUS strata, and out of
the inside of a fossil tree, which had been hollow within.

Farewell, my dear Fox, yours affectionately,

13 Sea Houses, Eastbourne,
[July 15th? 1853].

My dear Fox,

Here we are in a state of profound idleness, 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 extremely glad to get your letter. I had intended a couple
of months ago sending you a savage or supplicating jobation to know how you
were, when I met Sir P. Egerton, who told me you were well, and, as usual,
expressed his admiration of your doings, especially your farming, and the
number of animals, including children, which you kept on your land. Eleven
children, ave Maria! it is a serious look-out for you. Indeed, I look at
my five boys as something awful, and hate the very thoughts of professions,
etc. If one could insure moderate health for them it would not signify so
much, for I cannot but hope, with the enormous emigration, professions will
somewhat improve. But my bugbear is hereditary weakness. I particularly
like to hear all that you can say about education, and you deserve to be
scolded for saying "you did not mean to TORMENT me with a long yarn." You
ask about Rugby. I like it very well, on the same principle as my
neighbour, Sir J. Lubbock, likes Eton, viz., that it is not worse than any
other school; the expense, WITH ALL ETC., ETC., including some clothes,
travelling expenses, etc., is from 110 pounds to 120 pounds per annum. I
do not think schools are so wicked as they were, and far more industrious.
The boys, I think, live too secluded in their separate studies; and I doubt
whether they will get so much knowledge of character as boys used to do;
and this, in my opinion, is the ONE good of public schools over small
schools. I should think the only superiority of a small school over home
was forced regularity in their work, which your boys perhaps get at your
home, but which I do not believe my boys would get at my home. Otherwise,
it is quite lamentable sending boys so early in life from their home.

...To return to schools. My main objection to them, as places of
education, is the enormous proportion of time spent over classics. I fancy
(though perhaps it is only fancy) that I can perceive the ill and
contracting effect on my eldest boy's mind, in checking interest in
anything in which reasoning and observation come into play. Mere memory
seems to be worked. I shall certainly look out for some school with more
diversified studies for my younger boys. I was talking lately to the Dean
of Hereford, who takes most strongly this view; and he tells me that there
is a school at Hereford commencing on this plan; and that Dr. Kennedy at
Shrewsbury is going to begin vigorously to modify that school...

I am EXTREMELY glad to hear that you approved of my cirripedial volume. I
have spent an almost ridiculous amount of labour on the subject, and
certainly would never have undertaken 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,

Down, August 10th [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 formed.

My dear Fox, your affectionate friend,

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

Down, November 5th [1853].

My dear Hooker,

Amongst my letters received this morning, I opened first one from Colonel
Sabine; the contents certainly surprised me very much, but, though the
letter was 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 (John Lindley, 1799-1865, 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 'Analyse 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 upwards 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
universally taught in the earlier part of his career. Sachs points out
(Geschichte der Botanik, 1875, page 161), that though Lindley adopted in
the main a sound classification of plants, he only did so by abandoning his
own theoretical principle that the physiological importance of an organ is
a measure of its classificatory value.) will never hear that he was a
competitor against me; for really it is almost RIDICULOUS (of course you
would never repeat that I said this, for it would be thought by others,
though not, I believe, by you, to be affectation) his not having the medal
long before me; I must feel SURE that you did quite right to propose him;
and what a good, dear, kind fellow you are, nevertheless, to rejoice in
this honour being bestowed on me.

What PLEASURE I have felt on the occasion, I owe almost entirely to you.

Farewell, my dear Hooker, yours affectionately,

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.

Down, February 18th [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 volcanic 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 circumference than in the middle of the
island; do you suppose the elevation has had the form of a flat dome? I
remember in the Cordillera being OFTEN struck with the greater abruptness
of the strata in the LOW EXTREME outermost ranges, compared with the great
mass of inner mountains. I dare say you will have thought of measuring
exactly the width of any dikes at the top and bottom of any great cliff
(which was done by 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

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 composed, 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 (Sir J. Hooker's 'Himalayan Journal.')
is out, and MOST BEAUTIFULLY got up. He has honoured me beyond measure by
dedicating it to me! As for myself, I am got to the page 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 shipmate in Australia, who says the Colony is getting decidedly
republican from the influx of Americans, and that all the great and novel
schemes for working the gold are planned and executed by these men. What a
go-a-head nation it is! Give my kindest remembrances to Lady Lyell, and to
Mrs. Bunbury, 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,

Down, March 1st [1854].

My dear Hooker,

I finished yesterday evening the first volume, and I very sincerely
congratulate you on having produced a FIRST-CLASS book ('Himalayan
Journal.')--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 bestowed on these
beautiful volumes.

Your letter, received this morning, has interested me EXTREMELY, and I
thank you sincerely for telling me your old thoughts and aspirations. All
that you say makes me even more deeply gratified by the Dedication; but
you, bad man, do you remember asking me how I thought Lyell would like the
work to be dedicated to him? I remember how strongly I answered, and I
presume you wanted to know what I should feel; whoever would have dreamed
of your being so crafty? I am glad you have shown a little bit of ambition
about your Journal, for you must know that I have often abused you for not
caring more about fame, though, at the same time, I must confess, I have
envied and honoured you for being so free (too free, as I have always
thought) of this "last infirmity of, etc." Do not say, "there never was a
past hitherto to me--the phantom was always in view," for you will soon
find other phantoms in view. How well I know this feeling, and did
formerly still more vividly; but I think my stomach has much deadened my
former pure enthusiasm for science and knowledge.

I am writing an unconscionably long letter, but I must return to the
Journals, about which I have hardly said anything in detail. Imprimis, the
illustrations and maps appear to me the best I have ever seen; the style
seems to me everywhere perfectly clear (how rare a virtue), and some
passages really eloquent. How excellently you have described the upper
valleys, and how detestable their climate; I felt quite anxious on the
slopes of Kinchin that dreadful snowy night. Nothing has astonished me
more than your physical strength; and all those devilish bridges! Well,
thank goodness! It is not VERY likely that I shall ever go to the
Himalaya. Much in a scientific point of view has interested me, especially
all about those wonderful moraines. I certainly think I quite realise the
valleys, more vividly perhaps from having seen the valleys of Tahiti. I
cannot doubt that the Himalaya owe almost all their contour to running
water, and that they have been subjected to such action longer than any
mountains (as yet described) in the world. What a contrast with the Andes!

Perhaps you would like to hear the very little that I can say per contra,
and this only applied to the beginning, in which (as it struck me) there
was not FLOW enough till you get to Mirzapore on the Ganges (but the Thugs
were MOST interesting), where the stream seemed to carry you on more
equably with longer sentences and longer facts and discussions, etc. In
another edition (and I am delighted to hear that Murray has sold all off),
I would consider whether this part could not be condensed. Even if the
meteorology was put in foot-notes, I think it would be an improvement. All
the world is against me, but it makes me very unhappy to see the Latin
names all in Italics, and all mingled with English names in Roman type; but
I must bear this burden, for all men of Science seem to think it would
corrupt the Latin to dress it up in the same type as poor old English.
Well, I am very proud of MY book; but there is one bore, that I do not much
like asking people whether they have seen it, and how they like it, for I
feel so much identified with it, that such questions become rather
personal. Hence, I cannot tell you the opinion of others. You will have
seen a fairly good review in the 'Athenaeum.'

What capital news from Tasmania: it really is a very remarkable and
creditable fact to the Colony. (This refers to an unsolicited grant by the
Colonial Government towards the expenses of Sir J. Hooker's 'Flora of
Tasmania.') 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: is really a very singular and delightful
fact, contrasted with the slight appreciation of science in the old
country. I thank you heartily for your letter this morning, and for all
the gratification your Dedication has given me; I could not help thinking
how much -- would despise you for not having dedicated it to some great
man, who would have done you and it some good in the eyes of the world.
Ah, my dear Hooker, you were very soft on this head, and justify what I say
about not caring enough for your own fame. I wish I was in every way more
worthy of your good opinion. Farewell. How pleasantly Mrs. Hooker and you
must rest from one of your many labours...

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

My dear Hooker, ever yours,

P.S.--I have just looked over my rambling letter; I see that I have not at
all expressed my strong admiration at the amount of scientific work, in so
many branches, which you have effected. It is really grand. You have a
right to rest on your oars; or even to say, if it so pleases you, that
"your meridian is past;" but well assured do I feel that the day of your
reputation and general recognition has only just begun to dawn.

[In September, 1854, his Cirripede work was practically finished, and he
wrote to 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."]



[The growth of the 'Origin of Species' has been briefly described in my
father's words (above). 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 views to express himself in thoroughly
orthodox language as to the genesis of new species. Thus in 1834 he wrote
(MS. Journals, page 468.) 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 sea."

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 proceeding in his views. But in the published 'Journal'
we find passages 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 (1st edition page 353; 2nd
edition page 289), he says: "When finding, as in this case, any animal
which seems to play so insignificant 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 instructive, 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 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
until 1839), and 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 two species of Molothrus (1st edition page 61; 2nd edition
page 53) must have been one of the earliest instances noticed by him of the
existence of representative species--a phenomenon which we know
('Autobiography,') struck him deeply. The discussion on introduced animals
(1st edition page 139; 2nd edition page 120) shows how much he was
impressed by the complicated interdependence of the inhabitants of a given

An analogous point of view is given in the discussion (1st edition page 98;
2nd edition page 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 vegetation of the two continents. The interest of the
discussion is that it shows clearly our a priori ignorance of the
conditions 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 discusses the striking difference
between the species of mice on the east and west of the Andes (1st edition
page 399): "Unless we suppose the same species to have been created in two
different 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 edition page 327, the
passage is almost verbally identical, and is practically the same.

There are other passages again which are more strongly evolutionary in the
2nd edition, but otherwise are similar to the corresponding passages in the
1st edition. Thus, in describing the blind Tuco-tuco (1st edition page 60;
2nd edition page 52), in the first edition he makes no allusion to what
Lamarck might have thought, nor is the instance used as an example of
modification, as in the edition of 1845.

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

"This wonderful relationship in the same continent between 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 1st edition, but he was evidently
profoundly struck by the disappearance of the gigantic forerunners of the
present animals. The difference between 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
led up to a strong statement of the intensity of the struggle for life.
Then follows a comparison between rarity (In the second edition, page 146,
the destruction of Niata cattle by droughts is given as a good example of
our ignorance of the causes of rarity or extinction. The passage does not
occur in the first edition.) and extinction, which introduces the idea that
the preservation and dominance of existing species depend on the degree in
which they are adapted to surrounding conditions. 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 (1st
edition) he ends the chapter by comparing the extinction of a species to
the exhaustion and disappearance of varieties of fruit-trees: as if he
thought that a mysterious term of life was impressed on each species at its

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
forward. Thus, in the first edition, he merely says:--

"This similarity of type between distant islands and continents, while the
species are distinct, has scarcely been sufficiently noticed. The
circumstance would be explained, according to the views of some authors, by
saying that the creative power had acted according to the same law over a
wide area."--(1st edition page 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, different
proportions both in kind and number from those on the Continent, and
therefore acting on each other in a different manner--why were they created
on American types of organisation?"--(2nd edition page 393.)

The same difference of treatment is shown elsewhere in this chapter. Thus
the gradation in the form of beak presented by the thirteen allied species
of finch is described in the first edition (page 461) without comment.
Whereas in the second edition (page 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 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 'Journal,' we find with a strong sense of surprise how far
developed 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 insight 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) (In the extracts from the
note-book ordinary brackets represent my father's parentheses.) 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. (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 extracts.)

"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 antelopes at Cape of Good Hope; marsupials at

"Countries longest separated greatest differences--if separated 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 of evolution to
the "whole organic kingdom" from plants to man.

"If we choose to let conjecture run wild, then animals, our fellow brethren
in pain, disease, death, suffering and famine--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 a priori view of the
probability of the origin of species by descent ["propagation," he called

"The tree of life should perhaps be called the coral of life, base of
branches dead; so that passages cannot be seen."

"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 dead."

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 greyhound."

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.

"It is a wonderful 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?--(Never).

"They die, without they change, like golden pippins; it is a GENERATION OF

"Why does individual die? To perpetuate certain peculiarities (therefore
adaptation), and obliterate accidental varieties, 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 species.

"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

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

"With 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 lead to
endeavour to discover CAUSES of change; the manner of adaptation (wish of
parents??), instinct and structure becomes full of speculation and lines of
observation. View of generation being condensation (I imagine him to mean
that each generation is "condensed" to a small number of the best organized
individuals.) test of highest organisation 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] metaphysics.

"It would lead to closest examination of hybridity and generation, 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

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': ('Origin of Species' (1st edition), page 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 evolved.")--

"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 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 created, then by the fixed laws
of generation, such will be their successors.

"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 useless 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 volume i. page
72). He says, in the 1837 note-book, that alpine plants, "formerly
descended lower, therefore [they are] species of lower genera altered, or
northern plants."

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 an 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 (volume i., page 68), that it was in June 1842 that he first
wrote out a short sketch of his views. (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.) 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 Diary.

1842. May 18th. Went to Maer.

"June 15th to Shrewsbury, and on 18th 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,' page 1, 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,' ('Linn. Soc.
Journal,' 1858, page 45.) 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, page 476). There is also some further evidence on this side of the
question. Writing to Mr. Wallace (January 25, 1859) my father says:--
"Every one whom I have seen has thought 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 biographical 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 he speaks of the time, "about 1839, when the theory was
clearly conceived," meaning, no doubt, the end of 1838 and beginning 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 (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.") 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

The sketch of 1844 is written in a clerk's hand, in two hundred and thirty-
one pages folio, blank leaves being alternated 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 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' (1st edition). 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, page 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 prima facie of our theory." Under this heading comes the
discussion of the eye, which in the 'Origin' finds its place in Chapter VI.
under "Difficulties of the 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 11th,
1859: "I cannot possibly believe 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 extent 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 treated in the Sketch with 'Variation under Nature' in the first

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 beings."

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

Chapter VI. Rudimentary Organs.

These three chapters correspond to Chapter XII. of the 'Origin.'

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
resemblance between the second part of the Sketch and the final chapters of
the 'Origin.' That he should speak ('Origin,' Introduction, page 5.) of
the chapters on transition, on instinct, on hybridism, and on the
geological record, as forming a group, may be due to the division 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 argument," and the illustrations employed
are the same, points out that in the 1844 Essay, "much more weight is
attached to the influence of external conditions in producing variation,
and to the inheritance of acquired habits than in the Origin.'"

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 writers.

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 control, that concentration and grasp, which
are so striking in the work of 1859.

In the Autobiography (page 68, volume 1) 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 discussed 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 difference between varieties become augmented into the greater
difference between species?" ('Origin,' 1st edition, page 111.) He shows
how an analogous divergence takes place under domestication where an
originally uniform stock of horses has been split up into race-horses,
dray-horses, etc., and then goes on to explain how the same principle
applies to natural species. "From the simple circumstance 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 different 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 principle 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

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 completion.]

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 competent judge, it will be a
considerable step in science.

I therefore write this in case of my sudden death, as my most solemn and
last request, which I am sure you will consider the same as if legally
entered in my will, that you will devote 400 pounds to its publication, and
further, will yourself, or through Hensleigh (Mr. H. Wedgwood.), 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 quotations from various works,
are those which may aid my editor. I also request that you, or some
amanuensis, will aid in deciphering any of the scraps which the editor may
think possibly of use. I leave to the editor's judgment whether to
interpolate these facts in the text, or as notes, or under appendices. 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 400 pounds 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 pleasant, and he would learn some
facts new to him. As the editor 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 Henslow.
Dr. Hooker would be VERY good. The next, Mr. Strickland. (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." 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 500 pounds.

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 of 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 bearing 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 (The
words "several years ago and," seem to have been added at a later date.)
and from memory without consulting any works, and with no intention of
publication 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 1854."]



LETTERS, 1843-1856.

[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 interesting picture of his early friendship with my father:--

"My first meeting with Mr. Darwin was in 1839, in Trafalgar Square. I was
walking with an officer who had been his shipmate for a short time in the
"Beagle" seven years before, but who had not, I believe, since met him. I
was introduced; 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 naturalist)
had allowed me to peruse them. At this time I was hurrying on my studies,
so as to take my degree before volunteering to accompany Sir James Ross in
the Antarctic Expedition, 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 profoundly, I might say despairingly,
with the variety of acquirements, 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 character 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 England.

"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 attention 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 destruction of considerable areas of land to
account for the relations of the flora of the so-called Antarctic Islands.
I do not suppose that any of these ideas were new to him, but they led to
an animated and lengthy correspondence full of instruction."

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 collection 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, etc., 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 ignoramuses like myself.
It has often struck me as a curious point to find out, whether there are
many European genera in Tierra 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,


Will you be so good as to present my respectful compliments to Sir W.

[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 support my assertion on the differences
in the animals of the different islands, about which I have always been

Again he wrote (1849):--

"I received a few weeks ago your Galapagos papers (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.), 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, etc., such as you often
give in conversation, and such as De Candolle and St. Hilaire introduced in
almost all their papers, and which make them interesting even to a non-

"Very soon afterwards [continues Sir J.D. Hooker] in a letter dated January
1844, the subject of the 'Origin of Species' 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":--]

[January 11th, 1844.]

Besides a general interest about the southern lands, I have been now ever
since my return engaged in a very presumptuous work, and I know no one
individual who would not say a very foolish one. I was so struck with the
distribution of the Galapagos organisms, etc. etc., and with the character
of the American fossil mammifers, etc. etc., 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," etc.! 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 presumption!) 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 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 conveyance.

...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
obvious 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 very curious fact?) but are they related in
forms to S. America. Do you know of any other case of an archipelago, with
the separate islands possessing distinct representative species? I have
always intended (but have not yet done so) to examine Webb and Berthelot on
the Canary Islands for this object. Talking with Mr. Bentham, he told me
that the separate islands of the Sandwich Archipelago possessed distinct
representative species of the same genera of Labiatae: would not this be
worth your enquiry? How is it with the Azores; to be sure the heavy
western gales would tend to diffuse the same species over that group.

I hope you will (I dare say my hope is quite superfluous) attend to this
general kind of affinity in isolated islands, though I suppose it is more
difficult to perceive this sort of relation in plants, than in birds or
quadrupeds, the groups of 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 dissimilar; 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 mountain 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 collection.

I will trouble you with only one other question. In discussion 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 when 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
list 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 occasionally, 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 interesting 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,


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 personal 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 invitation 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 and 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 together, 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 always left with the feeling that I had imparted nothing and carried
away more than I could stagger under. Latterly, as his health became more
seriously affected, I was for days and weeks the only visitor, bringing my
work with me and enjoying his society as opportunity offered. It was an
established rule that he every day pumped me, as he called it, for half an
hour or so after breakfast in his study, when he first brought out a heap
of slips with questions botanical, geographical, etc., for me to answer,
and concluded by telling 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 eye.

"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 carpet 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 period.]

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 divided; 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
conclusion, 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 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 productions,
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

Yours very sincerely,

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 Naturalists, that there are two sides to the
question of the immutability 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, etc., on the view of the immutability.
Agassiz lately has brought the strongest argument in favour of
immutability. 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,
etc., 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
domestication, and having studied all that is known about domestication. 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...

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 sometimes 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...

Shrewsbury [September, 1845].

My dear Hooker,

I write a line to say that Cosmos (A translation of Humboldt's 'Kosmos.')
arrived quite safely [N.B. One sheet came loose in Part 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 (i.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 variation, without having worked out my due share of
species. But now for nine years it has been anyhow the greatest amusement
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.


Down, October 12th, [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 manner. 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
(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
October 17, 1846.) (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,
containing 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
(i.e., if free from accidents) life of the parents the number of
individuals will become enormous, and I have been much surprised to think
how great destruction MUST annually or occasionally be falling on every
species, yet the means and period of such destruction 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 conclusions 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 conclusion, 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,

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 particularly
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 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 conjecture 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 succeeding
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 them.

With respect to my far distant work on species, I must 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, i.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 living on the Continent and on adjoining
islands, such as the Galapagos. It occured 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 stock. A long searching
amongst agricultural and horticultural 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 complete 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,

Down, October 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 interested 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
delighted with a preliminary essay to the first number of the 'Annals of
Natural History.' I missed one discussion, and 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 measurements, he could detect any proportional
variations in beaks or limbs, etc. 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 reputed species into one. Have you ever done
anything of this kind, or have you ever studied Gloger's or Brehm's works?
I was interested in your account of the martins, for I had just before been
utterly perplexed by noticing just such a proceeding 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
Panagaeus crux major! I could not bear to give up either of my Carabi, and
to lose Panagaeus 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 inconsiderate beast squirted his acid down my throat,
and I lost both Carabi and Panagaeus! I was quite astonished to hear of a
terrestrial Planaria; for about a year or two ago I described 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 father aver that a fever, or any SERIOUS ACCIDENT, as a broken
limb, will cause in a man all the intestinal worms to be evacuated. Might
not this possibly have been the case with the flukes in their early state?

I hope you were none the worse for Southampton (The meeting of the British
Association.); 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,

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?

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 variability of
every part in some slight degree of every species. When the same organ is
RIGOROUSLY compared in many individuals, I always find some slight
variability, and consequently 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 Cirripedia) objects cast in
the same mould. Systematic work 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 distinctness (so
unpleasant to me) of the Himalayan Rubi, willows, etc., compared with those
of northern [Europe?], etc., 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 Falconer'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 prosper
in every way, my dear Hooker.

Your affectionate friend,

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 (Edward Forbes, 1815-1854, born in the Isle of Man. His
best known work was his Report on the distribution of marine animals at
different depths in the Mediterranean. An important memoir of his is
referred to in my father's 'Autobiography.' 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 distribution by
means of an active geological imagination.), 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) 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 POSSIBLY (I do not say probably)
might have been otherwise transported. Particular thanks for your attempt
to get me a copy of 'L'Espece' (Probably Godron's essay, published by the
Academy of Nancy in 1848-49, and afterwards as a separate book in 1859.),
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 painfully (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 Natural
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. Lamarck is the only
exception, 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...


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 useful to me
whenever I undertake my volume, though parts take the wind very completely
out of my sails; it will be all nuts 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. Certainly 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 (In 'Bleak House.') 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 so punished. But
I must confess that perhaps nearly the same thing would have happened to me
on any scheme of work.

I am heartily glad to hear your Journal (Sir J.D. Hooker's 'Himalayan
Journal.') is so much advanced; 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 vague...


My dear Hooker,

I have no remarks at all worth sending you, nor, indeed, was it likely that
I should, considering how perfect and elaborated an essay it is. ('New
Zealand Flora,' 1853.) 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 different, and partly from seeing SO FAR BETTER DONE
than I COULD have 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 believe 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...

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,

Down, March 26th [1854].

My dear Hooker,

I had hoped that you would have had a little breathing-time 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, etc., in the Royal Society. With
respect to the Club (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
intercourse between those Fellows who are actively engaged in cultivating
the various branches of Natural Science, and who have contributed to its
progress; to increase the attendance at the evening meetings, and to
encourage 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.), I am
deeply interested; only two or three days ago, I was regretting 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. I will
therefore come up to London for every (with rare exceptions) Club-day, and
then my head, I think, will allow me on an average to go to every other
meeting. But it is grievous 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 Edition (Of the Himalayan Journal.) 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 IMMENSE 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, etc., etc.,
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 doctrines--another proof, by the way, of how great a man he is.
I was pleased and surprised to see A. Gray's remarks on 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, etc., etc., the whole thing explodes like an
empty puff-ball. Do not work yourself to death.

Ever yours most truly,

Down, November 5th [1854].

My dear Hooker,

I was delighted to get your note yesterday. I congratulate you very
heartily (On the award to him of the Royal Society's Medal.), 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 something 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,

March 7 [1855].

...I have just finished working well at Wollaston's (Thomas Vernon
Wollaston died (in his fifty-seventh year, as I believe) on January 4,
1878. His health forcing him in early manhood to winter in 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 working 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 encouragement from their
elders.) 'Insecta Maderensia': it is an ADMIRABLE work. There is a very
curious point in the astounding proportion of Coleoptera that are apterous;
and I think I have guessed the reason, viz., that powers of flight would be
injurious to insects inhabiting 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. Wollaston 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 humiliating 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, (1) 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.

I hope I have not wearied you, but I thought you would like to hear about
this book, which strikes me as EXCELLENT in its facts, and the author a
most nice and modest man.

Most truly yours,

Down, March 19th [1855].

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 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 postage...Indeed, I should be very glad to have a nestling
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 ("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 317."--A letter to Sir J. Hooker, 1855.), 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 wish I could get a little wild duck of a week old, but
that I know is almost impossible.

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 London 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,

P.S.--Amongst all sorts of odds and ends, with which I am amusing myself, I
am comparing the seeds of the variations 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, etc. Upon my word I can hardly believe that ANY ONE
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 yourself, 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, etc.,
etc. SOMETIME (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 do 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 work 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, etc., etc., etc.)
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 subject 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 happy 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 glad to hear that you have given yourself a rest from Sunday
duties. How much illness you have had in your life! Farewell my dear Fox.
I assure you I thank you heartily for your proffered assistance."]

Down, May 7th [1855].

My dear Fox,

My correspondence has cost you a deal of trouble, though this note will
not. I found yours on my return home on Saturday after a week's work in
London. Whilst there I saw Yarrell, who told me he had carefully examined
all points in the Call Duck, and did not feel any doubt about it being
specifically identical, and that it had crossed freely with common
varieties in St. James's Park. I should 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, etc., 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 carefully
measured. Whether I shall do any good I doubt. I am getting out of my

Most truly yours,

[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 before; 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 mention 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 believe 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 shillings for each pair
from Baily) in a grand cage and pigeon-house, and they are a decided
amusement 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 variety, which is a variety of the
Tumbler, as that is of the Rock-pigeon, Mr. Eaton says: 'There are some of
the young fanciers who are over-covetous, who go for all the five
properties at once [i.e., the five characteristic points which are mainly
attended to,--C.D.], they have their reward by getting nothing.' 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 (i.e., the tumbler's) properties, I should think that
scarce any nobleman or gentleman would be without their aviaries of Almond

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."--('Autobiography,' page 32.)

To Mr. W.B. Tegetmeier, the well-known writer on poultry, etc., he was
indebted for constant advice and co-operation. 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, etc., and when you gave me such valuable assistance. 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 father's letters to Mr.
Tegetmeier consist almost entirely of series of questions relating to the
different breeds of fowls, pigeons, etc., and are not, therefore
interesting. 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. Numerous 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 suggestive to

To work out the problems on the Geographical Distributions of animals and
plants on evolutionary principles, he had to study the means by which
seeds, eggs, etc., can be transported across wide spaces of ocean. It was
this need which gave an interest to the class of experiment to which the
following letters allude.]

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 very anxious to see whether their eggs
stand sea water. Of course this note need not be answered, without, by a
strange and favourable chance, you can some day answer it with the eggs.

Your most troublesome friend,

April 13th [1855].

...I have had one experiment some little time in progress, which will, I
think, be interesting, namely, seeds in salt water immersed in water of 32-
33 degrees, 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
scoffed at the experiments vastly; for you now seem to view the experiment
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 'Vestiges' 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
Umbelliferae and onions seem to stand the salt well. I wash the seed
before planting them. I have written to the "Gardeners' Chronicle" (A few
words asking for information. The results were published in the
'Gardeners' Chronicle,' May 26, November 24, 1855. In the same year (page
789) he sent a P.S. to his former paper, correcting a misprint and adding a
few words on the seeds of the Leguminosae. A fuller paper on the
germination of seeds after treatment in salt water, appeared in the
'Linnaean Soc. Journal,' 1857, page 130.), 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...

[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 triumph. The children at
first were tremendously eager, and asked me often, "whether I 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 in 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

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
experiments, 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 nothing.

Everything has been going wrong with me lately; the fish at the Zoological
Society ate up lots of soaked seeds, and in imagination 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. (In describing these troubles to Mr.
Fox, my father wrote:--"All nature is perverse 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 nursery rhyme of 'this is the stick that beats
the pig,' etc., etc.,")

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, etc. etc., 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 spinning.

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 1 against its success.

Down, May 11th [1855].

My dear Hooker,--I have just received your note. I am most sincerely and
heartily glad at the news (The appointment of Sir J.D. Hooker as Assistant
Director of the Royal Gardens at Kew.) 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

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
experiments 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 inquiries which I can on the subject, and hope
to get some little light on it...

I hope you managed a good meeting at the Club. The Treasurership must be a
plague to you, and I hope you will not be Treasurer for long: I know I
would much sooner give up the Club than be its Treasurer.

Farewell, Mr. Assistant Director and dear friend,

June 5th, 1855.

...Miss Thorley (A lady who was for many years a governess in the family.)
and I are doing A LITTLE BOTANICAL WORK! 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 survived 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 foolish 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 transmission 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 would have it, it was the easy
Anthoxanthum odoratum: nevertheless 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...

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" ("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, 1855.), 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. (Godron's 'Florula
Juvenalis,' which gives an interesting account of plants introduced in
imported wool.)

[Writing on June 5th to Sir J.D. Hooker, my father mentions a letter from
Dr. Asa Gray. The letter referred to was an answer to the following:]

CHARLES DARWIN TO ASA GRAY. (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 lovable man.")
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 collecting 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 presumptuous 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 you will forgive me, and believe me, with much respect,

Dear sir, yours very faithfully,

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 in some degree picture to
myself the plants of your Alpine summits. The new edition 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.
(This suggestion Dr. Gray adopted in subsequent editions.) 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 of 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. Would it not be well in the Alpine plants to append the very
same addition which you have now sent me in MS.? though here, owing to your
kindness, I do not speak selfishly, but merely pro bono Americano publico.
I presume it would be too troublesome to give in your manual the habitats
of those plants found west of the Rocky Mountains, and likewise those found
in Eastern Asia, taking the Yenesei (?),--which, if I remember right,
according to Gmelin, is the main partition line of Siberia. Perhaps
Siberia more concerns the northern Flora of North America. The ranges of
plants to the east and west, viz., whether most found are in Greenland and
Western Europe, or in E. Asia, appears to me a very interesting point as
tending to show whether the migration has been eastward or westward. Pray
believe me that I am most entirely conscious that the ONLY USE of these
remarks is to show a botanist what points a non-botanist is curious to
learn; for I think every one who studies profoundly a subject often becomes
unaware [on] what points the ignorant require information. I am so very
glad that you think of drawing up some notice on your geographical
distribution, for the air of the Manual strikes me as in some points better
adapted for comparison with Europe than that of the whole of North America.
You ask me to state definitely some of the points on which I much wish for
information; but I really hardly 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 introduced 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 ascertained
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 proportion of the
Umbelliferae are 36/1798 = 1/49; for, without one knows the WHOLE numbers,
one cannot judge how really close the numbers of the plants of the same
family are in two distant 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 proportional 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 INTRODUCED
Compositae in Great Britain to all the introduced plants, and the result
was, 10/92 = 1/9.2. In our ABORIGINAL or indigenous flora the proportion
is 1/10; and 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 correspondence,
viz. 24/206 = 1/8 in the introduced plants, and 223/1798 = 1/8 in the
indigenous; but when I came to the other families I found the proportion
entirely different, showing that the coincidences in the British Flora were
probably accidental!

You will, I presume, give the proportion of the species to the genera,
i.e., 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; (b) 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 MOST anxious for information, and I
mention it with the greatest hesitation, and only in the FULL 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
"CLOSE 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 discriminating 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,

Down, 18th [July, 1855].

...I think I am getting a MILD case about Charlock seed (In the "Gardeners'
Chronicle", 1855, page 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 sinapistrum) 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 Charlock sprang up in that year over a
space (14 x 7 feet) which had been dug to a considerable depth.); but just
as about salting, ill-luck to it, I cannot remember how many years you
would allow that Charlock 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 common descent; I answer
I know not; the way in which I intend 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 [October, 1855 (In this
year he published ('Phil. Mag.' x.) a paper 'On the power of icebergs to
make rectilinear uniformly-directed grooves across a submarine undulatory
surface.'") 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 (Sir P. Egerton was a neighbour of Mr. Fox.) (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



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 abstract
of the materials which I had collected." The letters in the present
chapter are chiefly concerned with the preparation 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 Establishment at Moor
Park, during one of which he made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Gilbert
White at Selborne.]


May 3 [1856].

...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 precisely, 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.


By the way, THREE 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 feet.

If I did publish a short sketch, where on earth should I publish it?

If I do NOT hear, I shall understand that I may come from 9 to 10 on

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 (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.) 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 judgment 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, etc. 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,

May 11th [1856].

...Now for a MORE IMPORTANT! subject, viz., my own self: I am extremely
glad you think well of a separate "Preliminary Essay" (i.e., if anything
whatever is published; for Lyell seemed rather to doubt on this head) (The
meaning of the sentence in parentheses is obscure.); but I cannot 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 publishing at all any preliminary essay.
It yet strikes me as quite unphilosophical to publish results without the
full details which have lead 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.e., 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 judgment,
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 hearing what my friends or
critics (if reviewed) thought of the outline.

To any one but you I should apologise for such long discussion 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,

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.


"I am delighted 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 allow. I cannot put in all which you suggest, for it
would appear too conceited."

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 publishing

[The following extracts from letters to Mr. Fox are worth giving, as
showing how great was the accumulation of material 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 original 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."

November 1856.

"Sometimes I fear I shall break down, for my subject gets bigger and bigger
with each month's work."]

Down, 16th [June, 1856].

My dear Lyell,

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 [i.e., 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

So my master, forgive me, and believe me, ever yours,

P.S. Don't answer this, I did it to ease myself.

Down [June] 17th, 1856.

...I have been very deeply interested by Wollaston's book ('The Variation
of Species,' 1856.), 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: "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; 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

I have enjoyed your note much. Adios,

P.S. [June] 18th. 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.

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 may 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 time, or at different periods, but all
within the life of recent beings, an almost circumpolar belt of land. So
again Galapagos and Juan Fernandez must be joined to America; and if we
trust to littoral see shells, the Galapagos must have been joined to the
Pacific 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 Africa, and perhaps India. In the North Atlantic, Europe
will stretch half-way across the ocean to the Azores, and further north
right across. In short, we must suppose probably, half the present ocean
was land within the period of living organisms. The Globe within this
period must have had a quite different aspect. Now the only way to test
this, that I can see, is to consider whether the continents have undergone
within this same period such wonderful permutations. In all North and
South and Central America, we have both recent and miocene (or eocene)
shells, quite distinct on the opposite sides, and hence I cannot doubt that
FUNDAMENTALLY America has held its place since at least, the miocene
period. 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 uninterrupted 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 Australia the
great fauna of extinct marsupials shows that before the present mammals
appeared, Australia was a separate continent. I do not for one second
doubt that very large portions of all these continents have undergone GREAT
changes of level within this period, but yet I conclude that fundamentally
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 sense.


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, Apennines, Alps, Carpathians, are non-volcanic, Etna and
Caucasus, volcanic. In Asia, Altai and Himalaya, I believe non-volcanic.
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
Rocky Mountains--some of the latter alone, I believe, volcanic. In South
America to the east, the non-volcanic [Silla?] of Caracas, and Itacolumi of
Brazil, further south the Sierra Ventanas, 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. Paul's (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 continents, 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 sinking 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 compensating agent at work, in rising areas there will be the
ADDITIONAL element of outpoured volcanic matter.


Considering the depth of the ocean, I was, before 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.


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, etc., in New Zealand; the paucity of plants in
some cases, etc. 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 continuous land.


For these several reasons, and especially considering 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 arguments
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 postage remains to be proved.

Yours most truly,

[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."]

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 Natural History, 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-established propositions as I can find
made out,--in geographical distribution, geological history, affinities,
etc., etc. 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 explanation, 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 continuous distribution. 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 exquisitely beautiful contingencies to which
every living being is exposed...

Down, July 30th 1856.

My dear Hooker,

Your letter is of MUCH value to me. I was not able to get a definite
answer from Lyell (On the continental extensions of Forbes and others.), 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 fragment 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
subsidence of 20,000 or 30,000 feet; it is only probability, considering
such evidence as we have independently of distribution. 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 Lyell's 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,

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.

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 I 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 find 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, etc.)
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 POSSIBLE 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, [is] of no weight. I
cannot but think that the theory of continental extension does do some
little harm as stopping investigation 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 continental

...I see from your remarks that you do not understand my notions (whether
or no worth anything) about modification; I attribute very little to the
direct action of climate, etc. 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 Lyell to Sir J.D. Hooker ('Life' ii. page 216) is of

"I fear much that if Darwin argues that species are phantoms, he will also
have to admit that single centres of dispersion are phantoms also, and that
would deprive me of much of the value which I ascribe to the present
provinces of animals 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 considered) 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.

[September, 1856].

"In the course of some weeks, you unfortunate wretch, you will have my MS.
on one point of Geographical Distribution. 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

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 a New Zealand Flora, that is work."

October 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 careful 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! 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 difficulty as the means
of dispersal of the same species of terrestrial 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 will not apologise for writing so much about my
own doings, as I believe you will like to hear. Do sometime, 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,

[With regard to his book he wrote (November 10th) 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."]

Down, Sunday [October 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 wonderfully. I groan to hear that A. Gray
agrees with you about the condition 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!!! (The mud in such cases often contains seeds, so that
plants are thus transported.) Adios.

Your insane and perverse friend,

Down, November 4th [1856].

My dear Hooker,

I thank you more CORDIALLY than you will think probable, for your note.
Your verdict (On the MS. relating to geographical distribution.) 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

Down, November 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 occasion.

When I sent my MS. I felt strongly that some preliminary 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 external 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 a 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 species is at last formed, stands, as I think
can be shown (even with plants, and obviously with animals), in a far more
important 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...

December 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 subjects. 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 nothing, 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
define 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,

Down, January 1st [1857?].

My dear Dr Gray,

I have received the second part of your paper ('Statistics of the Flora of
the Northern United States.' "Silliman's Journal", 1857.), 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 remark 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 results I have worked out in several ways. It is of
great importance to my notions. By the way you have paid me a GREAT
compliment ("From some investigations of his own, this sagacious naturalist
inclines to think that [the species of] large genera range over a larger
area than the species of small genera do."--Asa Gray, loc. cit.): 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 structure. 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. (See 'Origin,' Edition i., page 100.)

With hearty thanks, your most troublesome friend,

Down, April 12th [1857].

My dear Hooker,

Your letter has pleased me 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 perplexing.

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, distinct
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 generally 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 hairy and with
proportionally larger and brighter-coloured flowers in ascending a

I have been interested in my "weed garden," of 3 x 2 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, etc. 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...

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 understand 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, etc., of Alpine SPECIES was generally admitted; I am
sure I have seen it alluded to a score of times. Falconer was haranguing
on it the other day to me. Meyen or Gay, or some such fellow (whom you
would despise), I remember, makes some remark on Chilian Cordillera plants.
Wimmer has written a little book on the same lines, and on VARIETIES being
so characterised in the Alps. But after writing to you, I confess I was
staggered by finding one man (Moquin-Tandon, I think) saying that Alpine
flowers are strongly inclined to be white, and Linnaeus saying that cold
makes plants APETALOUS, even the same species! Are Arctic plants often
apetalous? My general belief 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 EXCEPTION. 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 passages, so as at all to see what kind
of evidence authors advance. I must confess, the other day, when I asked
Falconer, whether he knew of INDIVIDUAL plants losing or acquiring
hairiness 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,

P.S. This note, as you see, has not anything requiring an answer.

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 Austrian frigate
"Novara"; Lyell had asked my father for suggestions.]

Down, February 11th [1857].

My dear Lyell,

I was glad to see in the newspapers about the Austrian Expedition. I have
nothing to add geologically to my notes in the Manual. (The article
"Geology" in the Admiralty Manual of Scientific Enquiry.) 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 Kerguelen 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
Galapagos. 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 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 countries.

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, etc., it will not do much.

Ever yours most truly,

[The following passage occurs in a letter to Mr. Fox, February 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 extreme degree: yet, if I know myself, I would work
just as hard, though with less gusto, if I knew that my book would be
published for ever anonymously."]

Moor Park, May 1st, 1857.

My dear Sir,

I am much obliged for your letter of October 10th, from Celebes, received a
few days ago; in a laborious undertaking, sympathy is a valuable and real
encouragement. By your letter and even still more by your paper ('On the
law that has regulated the introduction of new species.'--Ann. Nat. Hist.,
1855.) 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 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!...

Moor Park, Saturday [May 2nd, 1857].

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 NOT 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

Down, [May] 16th [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
serve. I find in the animal kingdom that the proposition that any part or
organ developed normally (i.e., not a monstrosity) 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 collected
facts. To give an instance, the Cross-bill is very abnormal in the
structure of its bill compared with other allied Fringillidae, and the beak
is EMINENTLY VARIABLE. The Himantopus, 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 respects, 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,

P.S.--I do not know how far you will care to hear, but I find Moquin-Tandon
treats in his 'Teratologie' on villosity of plants, and seems to attribute
more to dryness than altitude; 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, 'Physiologie 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 me.

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 botanical 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 stylosa 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 something in
the law; I have had so many instances, as the following: I wrote to
Wollaston to ask him to run through the Madeira 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 ASTONISHINGLY
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 hermaphrodite Cirripedes. The cases seem to me far too
numerous for accidental coincidences, of great variability and abnormal
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 is the more surprising to me, as generally I find any
proposition 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 seedling 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
common, not yet enclosed, I looked for miles and not ONE young tree could
be seen. I then went near (within quarter of a mile of the clumps) and
looked closely in the heather, and there I found tens of thousands of young
Scotch firs (thirty in one square yard) with their tops nibbled off by the
few cattle which occasionally roam over these wretched heaths. One little
tree, three inches high, by the rings appeared to be twenty-six years old,
with a short stem about as thick as a stick of sealing-wax. What a
wondrous problem it is, what a play of forces, determining the kind and
proportion of each plant in a square yard of turf! It is to my mind truly
wonderful. And yet we are pleased to wonder when some animal or 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.

My dear Hooker, ever yours,

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!!!

Down, June 5 [1857].

My dear Hooker,

I honour your conscientious care about the medals. (The Royal Society's
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 inconceivable 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...

I 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 or comparing variability in plants from the great general
variability of parts. I should look at the law as more completely 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. PERHAPS cases in which a 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 polymorphism. Will you perfect your assistance by further
considering, 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


Moor Park, Farnham, June 25th [1857].

My dear Hooker,

This requires no answer, but I will ask you whenever we meet. Look at
enclosed seedling gorses, especially one with the top knocked off. The
leaves succeeding 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...(See 'Power of Movement in Plants,' page 414.)

Dr. Lane (The physician at Moor Park.) and wife, and mother-in-law, Lady
Drysdale, are some of the nicest people I ever met.

I return home on the 30th. Good-bye, my dear Hooker.

Ever yours,

[Here follows a group of letters, of various dates, bearing on the question
of large genera varying.]

March 11th [1858].

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 recording more varieties in the
large than in the small genera. It will be hard work for me to be candid
in coming to my conclusion.

Ever yours, most truly,

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.

July 14th [1857?].

...I write now to supplicate most earnestly a favour, viz., the loan of
"Boreau, Flore du centre de la France", either 1st or 2nd edition, last
best; also "Flora Ratisbonensis," by Dr. Furnrohr, in 'Naturhist.
Topographie von Regensburg, 1839.' If you can POSSIBLY spare them, will
you send them at once to the enclosed address. If you have not them, will
you send one line by return of post: as I must try whether Kippist (The
late Mr. Kippist was at this time in charge of the Linnean Society's
Library.) can anyhow find them, which I fear will be nearly impossible in
the Linnean Library, in which I know they are.

I have been making some calculations about varieties, etc., 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 presumption.

Ever yours, most miserably,

Down, [July] 14th [1857].

My dear Lubbock,

You have done me the greatest possible service in helping me to clarify my
brains. If I 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 339 species have 51 species presenting one or more varieties. The 323
species have only 37. Proportionately (339 : 323 :: 51 : 48.5) they ought
to have had 48 1/2 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.

Un 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

What a disgraceful blunder you have saved me from. I heartily thank you.

Ever yours,

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!

Down, August [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 11th and 15th! Is not that grand? Many thanks about
Furnrohr. I must humbly supplicate Kippist to search for it: he most
kindly got Boreau 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--or 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 Floras with from 1000-2000 species, with the varieties marked. It
is good to have hair-splitters and lumpers. (Those who make many species
are the "splitters," and those who make few are the "lumpers.") I have
done, or am doing:--

Henslow......................... British Flora.
London Catalogue. H.C. Watson...

Boreau.......................... France.

Miquel.......................... Holland.

Asa Gray........................ N.U. States.

Hooker.......................... New Zealand.
Fragment of Indian Flora.

Wollaston....................... 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 MANY causes of error...

Down, February 21st [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 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 unconsciously, tend to record (i.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
varieties about equally in genera of all sizes? Are you yourself 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,

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 United 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 botanists to RECORD such in large or small

Down, May 6th [1858].

...I send by this post my MS. on the "commonness," "range," and "variation"
of species in large and small genera. You have undertaken a horrid job in
so very kindly offering to read it, and I thank you warmly. I have just
corrected the copy, and am disappointed in finding how tough and obscure it
is; I cannot make it clearer, and at present 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 consider 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, remember 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 probabilities. Again I thank you most
sincerely, but I fear you will find it a horrid job.

Ever yours,

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.

Down, December 22nd, 1857.

My dear Sir,

I thank you for your letter of September 27th. I am extremely glad to hear
how you are attending to distribution in accordance with theoretical ideas.
I am a firm believer 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. You say that you have been somewhat
surprised at no notice having been taken of your paper in the Annals. ('On
the law that has regulated the introduction of New Species.' Ann. Nat.
Hist., 1855.) 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, specially 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 speculative
notions. I have not yet seen your paper on the distribution 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 regard
to the former connection of oceanic islands with continents. Ever since
poor E. Forbes propounded this doctrine 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 preternatural sagacity of

You ask about land-shells on islands far distant from continents: Madeira
has a few identical with those of Europe, and here the evidence is really
good, as some of them are sub-fossil. In the Pacific Islands there are
cases of identity, which I cannot at present persuade myself 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 probability 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 collection 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 publish 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 will have seen, and what interesting
areas--the grand Malay Archipelago 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,

February 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
soonest for a couple of years...

February 23rd [1858].

...I was not much struck with the great Buckle, and I admired the way you
stuck up about deduction and induction. I am reading his book ('The
History of Civilisation.'), 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 tones.

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 wondrous angles may result. (He had much correspondence
on this subject with the late Professor Miller of Cambridge.)

I was very glad to see Mrs. Hooker on Friday; how well she appears to be
and looks.

Forgive your intolerable but affectionate friend,

Down, April 16th [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 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. Egerton 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 MOST
useful to me. There is a parallel case in the legs of the donkey, and I
have collected some most curious cases of stripes appearing in various
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. Farewell.

My dear Fox, I trust you are well. Farewell,

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 expected 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, etc., 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] nothing to boast of to-
day, so good-bye.

My dear friend, yours,

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
sending 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
species changing) I have discussed the migration and modification 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 modification 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 Calcutta, 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 subject for a note; and
I have written thus only because Hartung'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 read much
novels. Farewell, with many thanks, and very kind remembrance to Lady

Ever yours,

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 Justice's
summing up, and thought Bernard (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 guilty.") guilty, and then read a bit of my novel,
which is feminine,