Part 1 out of 10
This etext was prepared by Sue Asscher
All biographical footnotes appear at the end of Volume II.
All other notes by Charles Darwin's editors appear in the text, in brackets
() with a Chapter/Note or Letter/Note number.
MORE LETTERS OF CHARLES DARWIN
A RECORD OF HIS WORK IN A SERIES OF HITHERTO UNPUBLISHED LETTERS
EDITED BY FRANCIS DARWIN, FELLOW OF CHRIST'S COLLEGE,
A.C. SEWARD, FELLOW OF EMMANUEL COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE
IN TWO VOLUMES
DEDICATED WITH AFFECTION AND RESPECT, TO
SIR JOSEPH HOOKER
IN REMEMBRANCE OF HIS LIFELONG FRIENDSHIP WITH CHARLES DARWIN
"You will never know how much I owe to you for your constant kindness and
CHARLES DARWIN TO SIR JOSEPH HOOKER, SEPTEMBER 14, 1862
The "Life and Letters of Charles Darwin" was published in 1887. Since that
date, through the kindness of various correspondents, additional letters
have been received; among them may be mentioned those written by Mr. Darwin
to Mr. Belt, Lady Derby, Hugh Falconer, Mr. Francis Galton, Huxley, Lyell,
Mr. John Morley, Max Muller, Owen, Lord Playfair, John Scott, Thwaites, Sir
William Turner, John Jenner Weir. But the material for our work consisted
in chief part of a mass of letters which, for want of space or for other
reasons, were not printed in the "Life and Letters." We would draw
particular attention to the correspondence with Sir Joseph Hooker. To him
Mr. Darwin wrote with complete freedom, and this has given something of a
personal charm to the most technical of his letters. There is also much
correspondence, hardly inferior in biographical interest, with Sir Charles
Lyell, Fritz Muller, Mr. Huxley, and Mr. Wallace. From this unused
material we have been able to compile an almost complete record of Mr.
Darwin's work in a series of letters now published for the first time. We
have, however, in a few instances, repeated paragraphs, or in one or two
cases whole letters, from the "Life and Letters," where such repetition
seemed necessary for the sake of clearness or continuity.
Our two volumes contain practically all the matter that it now seems
desirable to publish. But at some future time others may find interesting
data in what remains unprinted; this is certainly true of a short series of
letters dealing with the Cirripedes, which are omitted solely for want of
space. (Preface/1. Those addressed to the late Albany Hancock have
already appeared in the "Transactions of the Tyneside Nat. Field Club,"
VIII., page 250.)
We are fortunate in being permitted, by Sir Joseph Hooker and by Mr.
Wallace, to publish certain letters from them to Mr. Darwin. We have also
been able to give a few letters from Sir Charles Lyell, Hugh Falconer,
Edward Forbes, Dr. Asa Gray, Professor Hyatt, Fritz Muller, Mr. Francis
Galton, and Sir T. Lauder Brunton. To the two last named, also to Mrs.
Lyell (the biographer of Sir Charles), Mrs. Asa Gray and Mrs. Hyatt, we
desire to express our grateful acknowledgments.
The present volumes have been prepared, so as to give as full an idea as
possible of the course of Mr. Darwin's work. The volumes therefore
necessarily contain many letters of a highly technical character, but none,
we hope, which are not essentially interesting. With a view to saving
space, we have confined ourselves to elucidating the letters by full
annotations, and have for the same reason--though with some regret--omitted
in most cases the beginnings and endings of the letters. For the main
facts of Mr. Darwin's life, we refer our readers to the abstract of his
private Diary, given in the present volume.
Mr. Darwin generally wrote his letters when he was tired or hurried, and
this often led to the omission of words. We have usually inserted the
articles, and this without any indication of their absence in the
originals. Where there seemed any possibility of producing an alteration
of meaning (and in many cases where there is no such possibility) we have
placed the introduced words in square brackets. We may say once for all
that throughout the book square brackets indicate words not found in the
originals. (Preface/2. Except in a few places where brackets are used to
indicate passages previously published. In all such cases the meaning of
the symbol is explained.) Dots indicate omissions, but many omissions are
made without being so indicated.
The selection and arrangement of the letters have not been easy. Our plan
has been to classify the letters according to subject--into such as deal
with Evolution, Geographical Distribution, Botany, etc., and in each group
to place the letters chronologically. But in several of the chapters we
have adopted sectional headings, which we believe will be a help to the
reader. The great difficulty lay in deciding in which of the chief groups
a given letter should be placed. If the MS. had been cut up into
paragraphs, there would have been no such difficulty; but we feel strongly
that a letter should as far as possible be treated as a whole. We have in
fact allowed this principle to interfere with an accurate classification,
so that the reader will find, for instance, in the chapters on Evolution,
questions considered which might equally well have come under Geographical
Distribution or Geology, or questions in the chapter on Man which might
have been placed under the heading Evolution. In the same way, to avoid
mutilation, we have allowed references to one branch of science to remain
in letters mainly concerned with another subject. For these irregularities
we must ask the reader's patience, and beg him to believe that some pains
have been devoted to arrangement.
Mr. Darwin, who was careful in other things, generally omitted the date in
familiar correspondence, and it is often only by treating a letter as a
detective studies a crime that we can make sure of its date. Fortunately,
however, Sir Joseph Hooker and others of Darwin's correspondents were
accustomed to add the date on which the letters were received. This
sometimes leads to an inaccuracy which needs a word of explanation. Thus a
letter which Mr. Darwin dated "Wednesday" might be headed by us "Wednesday
[January 3rd, 1867]," the latter half being the date on which the letter
was received; if it had been dated by the writer it would have been
"Wednesday, January 2nd, 1867."
In thanking those friends--especially Sir Joseph Hooker and Mr. Wallace--
who have looked through some of our proof-sheets, we wish to make it clear
that they are not in the smallest degree responsible for our errors or
omissions; the weight of our shortcomings rests on us alone.
We desire to express our gratitude to those who have so readily supplied us
with information, especially to Sir Joseph Hooker, Professor Judd,
Professor Newton, Dr. Sharp, Mr. Herbert Spencer, and Mr. Wallace. And we
have pleasure in mentioning Mr. H.W. Rutherford, of the University Library,
to whose conscientious work as a copyist we are much indebted.
Finally, it is a pleasure to express our obligation to those who have
helped us in the matter of illustrations. The portraits of Dr. Asa Gray,
Mr. Huxley, Sir Charles Lyell, Mr. Romanes, are from their respective
Biographies, and for permission to make use of them we have to thank Mrs.
Gray, Mr. L. Huxley, Mrs. Lyell, and Mrs. Romanes, as well as the
publishers of the books in question. For the reproduction of the early
portrait of Mr. Darwin we are indebted to Miss Wedgwood; for the
interesting portraits of Hugh Falconer and Edward Forbes we have to thank
Mr. Irvine Smith, who obtained for us the negatives; these being of paper,
and nearly sixty years old, rendered their reproduction a work of some
difficulty. We also thank Messrs. Elliott & Fry for very kindly placing at
our disposal a negative of the fine portrait, which forms the frontispiece
to Volume II. For the opportunity of making facsimiles of diagrams in
certain of the letters, we are once more indebted to Sir Joseph Hooker, who
has most generously given the original letters to Mr. Darwin's family.
Cambridge, October, 1902.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.
Outline of Charles Darwin's Life, etc.
CHAPTER 1.I.--An Autobiographical Fragment, and Early Letters, 1809-1842.
CHAPTER 1.II.--Evolution, 1844-1858.
CHAPTER 1.III.--Evolution, 1859-1863.
CHAPTER 1.IV.--Evolution, 1864-1869.
CHAPTER 1.V.--Evolution, 1870-1882.
CHAPTER 1.VI.--Geographical Distribution, 1843-1867.
ILLUSTRATIONS IN VOLUME I.
CHARLES AND CATHERINE DARWIN, 1816.
From a coloured chalk drawing by Sharples, in possession of Miss Wedgwood,
of Leith Hill Place.
MRS. DARWIN, 1881.
From a photograph by Barraud.
EDWARD FORBES, 1844 (?).
From a photograph by Hill & Adamson.
THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY, 1857.
From a photograph by Maull & Fox.
(Huxley's "Life," Volume I.)
From a photograph.
HUGH FALCONER, 1844.
From a photograph by Hill & Adamson.
JOSEPH DALTON HOOKER, 1870 (?).
From a photograph by Wallich.
ASA GRAY, 1867.
From a photograph.
("Letters of Asa Gray," Volume I.)
CHAPTER 2.VII.--Geographical Distribution, 1867-1882.
CHAPTER 2.VIII.--Man, 1860-1882.
2.VIII.I. Descent of Man, 1860-1882.
2.VIII.II. Sexual Selection, 1866-1872.
2.VIII.III. Expression, 1868-1874.
CHAPTER 2.IX.--Geology, 1840-1882.
2.IX.I. Vulcanicity and Earth-movements, 1840-1881.
2.IX.II. Ice-action, 1841-1882.
2.IX.III. The Parallel Roads of Glen Roy, 1841-1880.
2.IX.IV. Coral Reefs, Fossil and Recent, 1841-1881.
2.IX.V. Cleavage and Foliation, 1846-1856.
2.IX.VI. Age of the World, 1868-1877.
2.IX.VII. Geological Action of Earth-worms, 1880-1882.
2.IX.VIII. Miscellaneous, 1846-1878.
CHAPTER 2.X.--Botany, 1843-1871.
2.X.I. Miscellaneous, 1843-1862.
2.X.II. Melastomaceae, 1862-1881.
2.X.III. Correspondence with John Scott, 1862-1871.
CHAPTER 2.XI.--Botany, 1863-1881.
2.XI.I. Miscellaneous, 1863-1866.
2.XI.II. Correspondence with Fritz Muller, 1865-1881.
2.XI.III. Miscellaneous, 1868-1881.
CHAPTER 2.XII.--Vivisection and Miscellaneous Subjects, 1867-1882.
2.XII.I. Vivisection, 1875-1882.
2.XII.II. Miscellaneous Subjects, 1867-1882.
ILLUSTRATIONS IN VOLUME II.
CHARLES DARWIN, 1881. From a photograph by Elliott & Fry.
ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE, 1878. From a photograph by Maull & Fox.
GEORGE J. ROMANES, 1891. From a photograph by Elliott & Fry. (Romanes'
CHARLES LYELL. From a photograph by Maull & Fox. (Lyell's "Life," Volume
CHARLES DARWIN, 1854 (?). From a photograph by Maull & Fox.
FRITZ MULLER. From a photograph.
FACSIMILES OF SKETCHES IN THE LETTERS.
FIGURE 1. Hypothetical Section Illustrating Continental Elevation.
FIGURE 2. Diagram of Junction between Dike and Lava.
FIGURE 3. Outline of an Elliptic Crater.
FIGURE 4. Hypothetical Section showing the Relation of Dikes to Volcanic
FIGURE 5. Map illustrating the Linear Arrangement of Volcanic Islands in
relation to Continental Coast-lines.
FIGURE 6. Sketch showing the Form and Distribution of Quartz in a Foliated
FIGURE 7. Sketch showing the Arrangement of Felspar and Quartz in a
FIGURE 8. Floral Diagram of an Orchid.
FIGURE 9. Dissected Flower of Habenaria Chlorantha.
FIGURE 10. Diagram of a Cruciferous Flower.
FIGURE 11. Longitudinal Section of a Cruciferous Flower.
FIGURE 12. Transverse Section of the Ovary of a Crucifer.
FIGURE 13. (Contents/1. Not a facsimile.) Leaf of Trifolium resupinatum.
(Drawn by Miss Pertz.)
MORE LETTERS OF CHARLES DARWIN.
OUTLINE OF CHARLES DARWIN'S LIFE.
BASED ON HIS DIARY, DATED AUGUST 1838.
References to the Journals in which Mr. Darwin's papers were published will
be found in his "Life and Letters" III., Appendix II. We are greatly
indebted to Mr. C.F. Cox, of New York, for calling our attention to
mistakes in the Appendix, and we take this opportunity of correcting them.
Appendix II., List ii.--Mr. Romanes spoke on Mr. Darwin's essay on Instinct
at a meeting of the Linnean Society, December 6th, 1883, and some account
of it is given in "Nature" of the same date. But it was not published by
the Linnean Society.
Appendix II., List iii.--"Origin of saliferous deposits. Salt lakes of
Patagonia and La Plata" (1838). This is the heading of an extract from
Darwin's volume on South America reprinted in the "Quarterly Journal of the
Geological Society," Volume II., Part ii., "Miscellanea," pages 127-8,
The paper on "Analogy of the Structure of some Volcanic Rocks, etc." was
published in 1845, not in 1851.
A paper "On the Fertilisation of British Orchids by Insect Agency," in the
"Entomologist's Weekly Intelligencer" viii., and "Gardeners' Chronicle,"
June 9th, 1860, should be inserted in the bibliography.
1809. February 12th: Born at Shrewsbury.
1817. Death of his mother.
1818. Went to Shrewsbury School.
1825. Left Shrewsbury School.
Went to Edinburgh University.
Read two papers before the Plinian Society of Edinburgh "at the close of
1826 or early in 1827."
1827. Entered at Christ's College, Cambridge.
1828. Began residence at Cambridge.
Passed his examination for B.A., and kept the two following terms.
Geological tour with Sedgwick.
Went to Plymouth to see the "Beagle."
"Took leave of my home."
"Sailed from England on our circumnavigation."
"First landed on a tropical shore" (Santiago).
"Sailed for last time from Rio Plata."
"Sailed for last time from Tierra del Fuego."
"Sailed from west shores of South America."
Letters to Professor Henslow, read at a meeting of the Cambridge
Paper read before the Geological Society on Notes made during a Survey of
the East and West Coasts of South America in years 1832-35.
Anchored at the Cape of Good Hope.
Anchored at Falmouth.
Reached Shrewsbury after an absence of five years and two days.
Went to live at Cambridge.
Paper on Recent Elevation in Chili read.
Settled at 36, Great Marlborough Street.
Paper on "Rhea" read.
Read papers on Coral Formation, and on the Pampas, to the Geological
Opened first note-book on Transmutation of Species.
March 13th to November:
Occupied with his Journal.
October and November:
Preparing the scheme for the Zoology of the Voyage of the "Beagle."
Working at Geology of South America.
Read the paper on Earthworms before the Geological Society.
Worked at the Geology of South America and Zoology of Voyage.
"Some little species theory."
Read paper on the Connexion of certain Volcanic Phenomena and on the
Formation of Mountain Chains, to the Geological Society.
Health began to break down.
Started for Glen Roy. The paper on Glen Roy was written in August and
Began Coral paper.
Engaged to be married to his cousin, Emma Wedgwood.
"Entered 12 Upper Gower Street."
Married at Maer.
February and March:
Some work on Corals and on Species Theory.
March (part) and April:
Working at Coral paper.
Papers on a Rock seen on an Iceberg, and on the Parallel Roads of Glen Roy.
Published "Journal and Remarks," being volume iii. of the "Narrative of the
Surveying Voyages of H.M.S. 'Adventure' and 'Beagle,' etc."
For the rest of the year, Corals and Zoology of the Voyage.
Publication of the "Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. 'Beagle,'" Part II.
Worked at Corals and the Zoology of the Voyage.
Contributed Geological introduction to Part I. of the "Zoology of the
Voyage" (Fossil Mammalia by Owen).
Publication of Part III. of the "Zoology of the Voyage" (Birds).
Read paper on Boulders and Glacial Deposits of South America, to Geological
Published paper on a remarkable bar of Sandstone off Pernambuco, on the
coast of Brazil.
Publication of Part IV. of "Zoology of the Voyage" (Fish).
Last proof of the Coral book corrected.
Examined Glacier action in Wales.
"Wrote pencil sketch of my Species Theory."
Wrote paper on Glaciers of Caernarvonshire.
Began his book on Volcanic Islands.
Working at "Volcanic Islands" and "some Species work."
Finished "Volcanic Islands."
July to September:
Wrote an enlarged version of Species Theory.
Papers on Sagitta, and on Planaria.
Began his book on the Geology of South America.
Paper on the Analogy of the Structure of Volcanic Rocks with that of
Glaciers. "Proc. R. Soc. Edin."
April 25th to August 25th:
Working at second edition of "Naturalist's Voyage."
Finished last proof of "Geological Observations on South America."
Papers on Atlantic Dust, and on Geology of Falkland Islands, communicated
to the Geological Society.
Paper on Arthrobalanus.
Working at Cirripedes.
Review of Waterhouse's "Natural History of the Mammalia."
Finished Scientific Instructions in Geology for the Admiralty Manual.
Working at Cirripedes.
Paper on Erratic Boulders.
Health especially bad.
Working at Cirripedes.
Water-cure at Malvern.
Working at Cirripedes.
Published Monographs of Recent and Fossil Lepadidae.
Working at Cirripedes.
"Royal Medal given to me."
Published Monographs on Recent and on Fossil Balanidae and Verrucidae.
Finished packing up all my Cirripedes.
"Began sorting notes for Species Theory."
Experiments on the effect of salt water on seeds.
Papers on Icebergs and on Vitality of Seeds.
"Began, by Lyell's advice, writing Species Sketch" (described in "Life and
Letters" as the "Unfinished Book").
Finished Chapter III.
Paper read to Linnean Society, On Sea-water and the Germination of Seeds.
Finished Chapters VII. and VIII.
September 30th to December 29th:
Working on Hybridism.
Paper on the Agency of Bees in the Fertilisation of Papilionaceous Flowers.
"Finished Instinct chapter."
Received Mr. Wallace's sketch of his evolutionary theory.
Joint paper of Darwin and Wallace read at the Linnean Society.
July 20th to July 27th:
"Began Abstract of Species book," i.e., the "Origin of Species," at
Paper on Bees and Fertilisation of Flowers.
Began proof-sheets of the "Origin of Species."
Publication of the "Origin": 1250 copies printed.
October 2nd to December 9th:
At the water-cure establishment, Ilkley, Yorkshire.
Publication of Edition II. of "Origin" (3000 copies).
"Looking over MS. on Variation."
Paper on the Fertilisation of British Orchids.
July and again in September:
Made observations on Drosera.
Paper on Moths and Flowers.
Publication of "A Naturalist's Voyage."
Up to July at work on "Variation under Domestication."
Publication of Edition III. of "Origin" (2000 copies).
July to the end of year:
At work on Orchids.
Primula paper read at Linnean Society.
Papers on Pumilio and on Fertilisation of Vinca.
Orchid book published.
Working at Variation.
Paper on Catasetum (Linnean Society).
Contribution to Chapter III. of Jenyns' Memoir of Henslow.
Working at "Variation under Domestication."
Papers on Yellow Rain, the Pampas, and on Cirripedes.
A review of Bates' paper on Mimetic Butterflies.
Severe illness to the end of year.
Illness continued until April.
Paper on Linum published by the Linnean Society.
Paper on Lythrum finished.
Paper on Climbing Plants finished.
Work on "Variation under Domestication."
Copley medal awarded to him.
Continued at work on Variation until April 22nd. The work was interrupted
by illness until late in the autumn.
Read paper on Climbing Plants.
Began again on Variation.
Continued work at "Variation under Domestication."
March 1st to May 10th:
At work on Edition IV. of the "Origin."
Published June (1250 copies).
Read paper on Cytisus scoparius to the Linnean Society.
Began the last chapter of "Variation under Domestication."
Finished revises of "Variation under Domestication."
Began papers on Illegitimate Unions of Dimorphic and Trimorphic Plants, and
Publication of "Variation under Domestication."
Began work on Man.
New edition of "Variation under Domestication."
Read papers on Illegitimate Unions of Dimorphic and Trimorphic Plants, and
"Finished fifth edition of 'Origin'; has taken me forty-six days."
Edition V. published in May.
Working at the "Descent of Man."
Papers on the Fertilisation of Orchids, and on the Fertilisation of Winter-
Working at the "Descent of Man."
Paper on the Pampas Woodpecker.
Began the "Expression of the Emotions."
"Descent of Man" published (2500 copies).
Finished the rough copy of "Expression."
Began Edition VI. of "Origin."
Paper on the Fertilisation of Leschenaultia.
Finished proofs of Edition VI. of the "Origin," and "again rewriting
Finished last proofs of "Expression."
Began working at Drosera.
"Expression" published (7000 copies, and 2000 more printed at the end of
"At Murray's sale 5267 copies sold to London booksellers."
Correcting the Climbing Plants paper for publication as a book.
At work on "Cross-fertilisation."
February to September:
Contributions to "Nature."
"Began Drosera again."
Began "Descent of Man," Edition II.
"Descent of Man," Edition II, in one volume, published (Preface dated
"Coral Reefs," Edition II., published.
Began "Insectivorous Plants."
February to May:
Contributed notes to "Nature."
"Insectivorous Plants" published (3000 copies); 2700 copies sold
"Correcting 2nd edition of 'Variation under Domestication.'" It was
published in the autumn.
September 1st (approximately):
Began on "Cross and Self-Fertilisation."
"Finished MS., first time over, of "Cross and Self-Fertilisation."
May to June:
Correction of "Fertilisation of Orchids," Edition II.
Wrote his Autobiographical Sketch.
May and November:
Contributions to "Nature."
First proofs of "Cross and Self-Fertilisation."
"Cross and Self-Fertilisation" published (1500 copies).
"All the early part of summer at work on "Different Forms of Flowers."
Publication of "Different Forms of Flowers" (1250 copies).
During the rest of the year at work on the bloom on leaves, movements of
plants, "and a little on worms."
LL.D. at Cambridge.
Second edition of "Fertilisation of Orchids" published.
Contributions to "Nature," "Gardeners' Chronicle," and "Mind."
The whole year at work on movements of plants, and on the bloom on leaves.
Contribution to "Nature."
Second edition of "Different Forms of Flowers."
Wrote prefatory letter to Kerner's "Flowers and their Unbidden Guests."
The whole year at work on movements of plants, except for "about six weeks"
in the spring and early summer given to the "Life of Erasmus Darwin," which
was published in the autumn.
Contributions to "Nature."
"All spring finishing MS. of 'Power of Movement in Plants' and proof
"Began in autumn on Worms."
Prefatory notice written for Meldola's translation of Weismann's book.
1500 copies of "Power of Movement" sold at Murray's sale.
Contributions to "Nature."
During all the early part of the year at work on the "Worm book."
Several contributions to "Nature."
The book on "Earthworms" published: 2000 copies sold at once.
At work on the action of carbonate of ammonia on plants.
No entries in the Diary.
At work correcting the sixth thousand of the "Earthworms."
March 6th and March 16th:
Papers on the action of Carbonate of Ammonia on roots, etc., read at the
Note to "Nature" on Dispersal of Bivalves.
Van Dyck's paper on Syrian Dogs, with a preliminary notice by Charles
Darwin, read before the Zoological Society.
Charles Darwin died at Down.
CHAPTER 1.I.--AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL FRAGMENT, AND EARLY LETTERS.
(Chapter I./1. In the process of removing the remainder of Mr. Darwin's
books and papers from Down, the following autobiographical notes, written
in 1838, came to light. They seem to us worth publishing--both as giving
some new facts, and also as illustrating the interest which he clearly felt
in his own development. Many words are omitted in the manuscript, and some
names incorrectly spelled; the corrections which have been made are not
My earliest recollection, the date of which I can approximately tell, and
which must have been before I was four years old, was when sitting on
Caroline's (Caroline Darwin) knee in the drawing room, whilst she was
cutting an orange for me, a cow ran by the window which made me jump, so
that I received a bad cut, of which I bear the scar to this day. Of this
scene I recollect the place where I sat and the cause of the fright, but
not the cut itself, and I think my memory is real, and not as often happens
in similar cases, [derived] from hearing the thing often repeated, [when]
one obtains so vivid an image, that it cannot be separated from memory:
because I clearly remember which way the cow ran, which would not probably
have been told me. My memory here is an obscure picture, in which from not
recollecting any pain I am scarcely conscious of its reference to myself.
When I was four years and a half old I went to the sea, and stayed there
some weeks. I remember many things, but with the exception of the
maidservants (and these are not individualised) I recollect none of my
family who were there. I remember either myself or Catherine being
naughty, and being shut up in a room and trying to break the windows. I
have an obscure picture of a house before my eyes, and of a neighbouring
small shop, where the owner gave me one fig, but which to my great joy
turned out to be two: this fig was given me that the man might kiss the
maidservant. I remember a common walk to a kind of well, on the road to
which was a cottage shaded with damascene (Chapter I./2. Damson is derived
from Damascene; the fruit was formerly known as a "Damask Prune.") trees,
inhabited by an old man, called a hermit, with white hair, who used to give
us damascenes. I know not whether the damascenes, or the reverence and
indistinct fear for this old man produced the greatest effect on my memory.
I remember when going there crossing in the carriage a broad ford, and
fear and astonishment of white foaming water has made a vivid impression.
I think memory of events commences abruptly; that is, I remember these
earliest things quite as clearly as others very much later in life, which
were equally impressed on me. Some very early recollections are connected
with fear at Parkfield and with poor Betty Harvey. I remember with horror
her story of people being pushed into the canal by the towing rope, by
going the wrong side of the horse. I had the greatest horror of this
story--keen instinct against death. Some other recollections are those of
vanity--namely, thinking that people were admiring me, in one instance for
perseverance and another for boldness in climbing a low tree, and what is
odder, a consciousness, as if instinctive, that I was vain, and contempt of
myself. My supposed admirer was old Peter Haile the bricklayer, and the
tree the mountain ash on the lawn. All my recollections seem to be
connected most closely with myself; now Catherine (Catherine Darwin) seems
to recollect scenes where others were the chief actors. When my mother
died I was 8 1/2 years old, and [Catherine] one year less, yet she
remembers all particulars and events of each day whilst I scarcely
recollect anything (and so with very many other cases) except being sent
for, the memory of going into her room, my father meeting me--crying
afterwards. I recollect my mother's gown and scarcely anything of her
appearance, except one or two walks with her. I have no distinct
remembrance of any conversation, and those only of a very trivial nature.
I remember her saying "if she did ask me to do something," which I said she
had, "it was solely for my good."
Catherine remembers my mother crying, when she heard of my grandmother's
death. Also when at Parkfield how Aunt Sarah and Aunt Kitty used to
receive her. Susan, like me, only remembers affairs personal. It is
sufficiently odd this [difference] in subjects remembered. Catherine says
she does not remember the impression made upon her by external things, as
scenery, but for things which she reads she has an excellent memory, i.e.,
for ideas. Now her sympathy being ideal, it is part of her character, and
shows how easily her kind of memory was stamped, a vivid thought is
repeated, a vivid impression forgotten.
I remember obscurely the illumination after the battle of Waterloo, and the
Militia exercising about that period, in the field opposite our house.
At 8 1/2 years old I went to Mr. Case's School. (Chapter I/3. A day-
school at Shrewsbury kept by Rev. G. Case, minister of the Unitarian Chapel
("Life and Letters," Volume I., page 27 et seq.)) I remember how very much
I was afraid of meeting the dogs in Barker Street, and how at school I
could not get up my courage to fight. I was very timid by nature. I
remember I took great delight at school in fishing for newts in the quarry
pool. I had thus young formed a strong taste for collecting, chiefly
seals, franks, etc., but also pebbles and minerals--one which was given me
by some boy decided this taste. I believe shortly after this, or before, I
had smattered in botany, and certainly when at Mr. Case's School I was very
fond of gardening, and invented some great falsehoods about being able to
colour crocuses as I liked. (Chapter I./4. The story is given in the
"Life and Letters," I., page 28, the details being slightly different.) At
this time I felt very strong friendship for some boys. It was soon after I
began collecting stones, i.e., when 9 or 10, that I distinctly recollect
the desire I had of being able to know something about every pebble in
front of the hall door--it was my earliest and only geological aspiration
at that time. I was in those days a very great story-teller--for the pure
pleasure of exciting attention and surprise. I stole fruit and hid it for
these same motives, and injured trees by barking them for similar ends. I
scarcely ever went out walking without saying I had seen a pheasant or some
strange bird (natural history taste); these lies, when not detected, I
presume, excited my attention, as I recollect them vividly, not connected
with shame, though some I do, but as something which by having produced a
great effect on my mind, gave pleasure like a tragedy. I recollect when I
was at Mr. Case's inventing a whole fabric to show how fond I was of
speaking the TRUTH! My invention is still so vivid in my mind, that I
could almost fancy it was true, did not memory of former shame tell me it
was false. I have no particularly happy or unhappy recollections of this
time or earlier periods of my life. I remember well a walk I took with a
boy named Ford across some fields to a farmhouse on the Church Stretton
road. I do not remember any mental pursuits excepting those of collecting
stones, etc., gardening, and about this time often going with my father in
his carriage, telling him of my lessons, and seeing game and other wild
birds, which was a great delight to me. I was born a naturalist.
When I was 9 1/2 years old (July 1818) I went with Erasmus to see
Liverpool: it has left no impressions on my mind, except most trifling
ones--fear of the coach upsetting, a good dinner, and an extremely vague
memory of ships.
In Midsummer of this year I went to Dr. Butler's School. (Chapter I./5.
Darwin entered Dr. Butler's school in Shrewsbury in the summer of 1818, and
remained there till 1825 ("Life and Letters," I., page 30).) I well
recollect the first going there, which oddly enough I cannot of going to
Mr. Case's, the first school of all. I remember the year 1818 well, not
from having first gone to a public school, but from writing those figures
in my school book, accompanied with obscure thoughts, now fulfilled,
whether I should recollect in future life that year.
In September (1818) I was ill with the scarlet fever. I well remember the
wretched feeling of being delirious.
1819, July (10 1/2 years old).
Went to the sea at Plas Edwards and stayed there three weeks, which now
appears to me like three months. (Chapter I./6. Plas Edwards, at Towyn,
on the Welsh coast.) I remember a certain shady green road (where I saw a
snake) and a waterfall, with a degree of pleasure, which must be connected
with the pleasure from scenery, though not directly recognised as such.
The sandy plain before the house has left a strong impression, which is
obscurely connected with an indistinct remembrance of curious insects,
probably a Cimex mottled with red, and Zygaena, the burnet-moth. I was at
that time very passionate (when I swore like a trooper) and quarrelsome.
The former passion has I think nearly wholly but slowly died away. When
journeying there by stage coach I remember a recruiting officer (I think I
should know his face to this day) at tea time, asking the maid-servant for
toasted bread and butter. I was convulsed with laughter and thought it the
quaintest and wittiest speech that ever passed from the mouth of man. Such
is wit at 10 1/2 years old. The memory now flashes across me of the
pleasure I had in the evening on a blowy day walking along the beach by
myself and seeing the gulls and cormorants wending their way home in a wild
and irregular course. Such poetic pleasures, felt so keenly in after
years, I should not have expected so early in life.
Went a riding tour (on old Dobbin) with Erasmus to Pistyll Rhiadr (Chapter
I./7. Pistyll Rhiadr proceeds from Llyn Pen Rhiadr down the Llyfnant to
the Dovey.); of this I recollect little, an indistinct picture of the fall,
but I well remember my astonishment on hearing that fishes could jump up
(Chapter I./8. The autobiographical fragment here comes to an end. The
next letters give some account of Darwin as an Edinburgh student. He has
described ("Life and Letters," I., pages 35-45) his failure to be
interested in the official teaching of the University, his horror at the
operating theatre, and his gradually increasing dislike of medical study,
which finally determined his leaving Edinburgh, and entering Cambridge with
a view to taking Orders.)
LETTER 1. TO R.W. DARWIN.
Sunday Morning [Edinburgh, October, 1825].
My dear Father
As I suppose Erasmus (Erasmus Darwin) has given all the particulars of the
journey, I will say no more about it, except that altogether it has cost me
7 pounds. We got into our lodgings yesterday evening, which are very
comfortable and near the College. Our Landlady, by name Mrs. Mackay, is a
nice clean old body--exceedingly civil and attentive. She lives in "11,
Lothian Street, Edinburgh" (1/1. In a letter printed in the "Edinburgh
Evening Despatch" of May 22nd, 1888, the writer suggested that a tablet
should be placed on the house, 11, Lothian Street. This suggestion was
carried out in 1888 by Mr. Ralph Richardson (Clerk of the Commissary Court,
Edinburgh), who obtained permission from the proprietors to affix a tablet
to the house, setting forth that Charles Darwin resided there as an
Edinburgh University student. We are indebted to Mr. W.K. Dickson for
obtaining for us this information, and to Mr. Ralph Richardson for kindly
supplying us with particulars. See Mr. Richardson's Inaugural Address,
"Trans. Edinb. Geol. Soc." 1894-95; also "Memorable Edinburgh Houses," by
Wilmot Harrison, 1898.), and only four flights of steps from the ground-
floor, which is very moderate to some other lodgings that we were nearly
taking. The terms are 1 pound 6 shillings for two very nice and LIGHT
bedrooms and a sitting-room; by the way, light bedrooms are very scarce
articles in Edinburgh, since most of them are little holes in which there
is neither air nor light. We called on Dr. Hanley the first morning, whom
I think we never should have found, had it not been for a good-natured Dr.
of Divinity who took us into his library and showed us a map, and gave us
directions how to find him. Indeed, all the Scotchmen are so civil and
attentive, that it is enough to make an Englishman ashamed of himself. I
should think Dr. Butler or any other fat English Divine would take two
utter strangers into his library and show them the way! When at last we
found the Doctor, and having made all the proper speeches on both sides, we
all three set out and walked all about the town, which we admire
excessively; indeed Bridge Street is the most extraordinary thing I ever
saw, and when we first looked over the sides, we could hardly believe our
eyes, when instead of a fine river, we saw a stream of people. We spend
all our mornings in promenading about the town, which we know pretty well,
and in the evenings we go to the play to hear Miss Stephens (Probably
Catherine Stephens), which is quite delightful; she is very popular here,
being encored to such a degree, that she can hardly get on with the play.
On Monday we are going to Der F (I do not know how to spell the rest of the
word). (1/2. "Der F" is doubtless "Der Freischutz," which appeared in
1820, and of which a selection was given in London, under Weber's
direction, in 1825. The last of Weber's compositions, "From Chindara's
warbling fount," was written for Miss Stephens, who sang it to his
accompaniment "the last time his fingers touched the key-board." (See
"Dict. of Music," "Stephens" and "Weber.")) Before we got into our
lodgings, we were staying at the Star Hotel in Princes St., where to my
surprise I met with an old schoolfellow, whom I like very much; he is just
come back from a walking tour in Switzerland and is now going to study for
his [degree?] The introductory lectures begin next Wednesday, and we were
matriculated for them on Saturday; we pay 10s., and write our names in a
book, and the ceremony is finished; but the Library is not free to us till
we get a ticket from a Professor. We just have been to Church and heard a
sermon of only 20 minutes. I expected, from Sir Walter Scott's account, a
soul-cutting discourse of 2 hours and a half.
I remain your affectionate son,
LETTER 2. TO CAROLINE DARWIN.
January 6th, 1826. Edinburgh.
Many thanks for your very entertaining letter, which was a great relief
after hearing a long stupid lecture from Duncan on Materia Medica, but as
you know nothing either of the Lectures or Lecturers, I will give you a
short account of them. Dr. Duncan is so very learned that his wisdom has
left no room for his sense, and he lectures, as I have already said, on the
Materia Medica, which cannot be translated into any word expressive enough
of its stupidity. These few last mornings, however, he has shown signs of
improvement, and I hope he will "go on as well as can be expected." His
lectures begin at eight in the morning. Dr. Hope begins at ten o'clock,
and I like both him and his lectures VERY much (after which Erasmus goes to
"Mr. Sizars on Anatomy," who is a charming Lecturer). At 12 the Hospital,
after which I attend Monro on Anatomy. I dislike him and his lectures so
much, that I cannot speak with decency about them. Thrice a week we have
what is called Clinical lectures, which means lectures on the sick people
in the Hospital--these I like very much. I said this account should be
short, but I am afraid it has been too long, like the lectures themselves.
I will be a good boy and tell something about Johnson again (not but what I
am very much surprised that Papa should so forget himself as call me, a
Collegian in the University of Edinburgh, a boy). He has changed his
lodgings for the third time; he has got very cheap ones, but I am afraid it
will not answer, for they must make up by cheating. I hope you like
Erasmus' official news, he means to begin every letter so. You mentioned
in your letter that Emma was staying with you: if she is not gone, ask her
to tell Jos that I have not succeeded in getting any titanium, but that I
will try again...I want to know how old I shall be next birthday--I believe
17, and if so, I shall be forced to go abroad for one year, since it is
necessary that I shall have completed my 21st year before I take my degree.
Now you have no business to be frowning and puzzling over this letter, for
I did not promise to write a good hand to you.
LETTER 3. TO J.S. HENSLOW.
(3/1. Extracts from Darwin's letters to Henslow were read before the
Cambridge Philosophical Society on November 16th, 1835. Some of the
letters were subsequently printed, in an 8vo pamphlet of 31 pages, dated
December 1st, 1835, for private distribution among the members of the
Society. A German translation by W. Preyer appeared in the "Deutsche
Rundschau," June 1891.)
[15th August, 1832. Monte Video.]
We are now beating up the Rio Plata, and I take the opportunity of
beginning a letter to you. I did not send off the specimens from Rio
Janeiro, as I grudged the time it would take to pack them up. They are now
ready to be sent off and most probably go by this packet. If so they go to
Falmouth (where Fitz-Roy has made arrangements) and so will not trouble
your brother's agent in London. When I left England I was not fully aware
how essential a kindness you offered me when you undertook to receive my
boxes. I do not know what I should do without such head-quarters. And now
for an apologetical prose about my collection: I am afraid you will say it
is very small, but I have not been idle, and you must recollect what a very
small show hundreds of species make. The box contains a good many
geological specimens; I am well aware that the greater number are too
small. But I maintain that no person has a right to accuse me, till he has
tried carrying rocks under a tropical sun. I have endeavoured to get
specimens of every variety of rock, and have written notes upon all. If
you think it worth your while to examine any of them I shall be very glad
of some mineralogical information, especially on any numbers between 1 and
254 which include Santiago rocks. By my catalogue I shall know which you
may refer to. As for my plants, "pudet pigetque mihi." All I can say is
that when objects are present which I can observe and particularise about,
I cannot summon resolution to collect when I know nothing.
It is positively distressing to walk in the glorious forest amidst such
treasures and feel they are all thrown away upon one. My collection from
the Abrolhos is interesting, as I suspect it nearly contains the whole
flowering vegetation--and indeed from extreme sterility the same may almost
be said of Santiago. I have sent home four bottles with animals in
spirits, I have three more, but would not send them till I had a fourth. I
shall be anxious to hear how they fare. I made an enormous collection of
Arachnidae at Rio, also a good many small beetles in pill boxes, but it is
not the best time of year for the latter. Amongst the lower animals
nothing has so much interested me as finding two species of elegantly
coloured true Planaria inhabiting the dewy forest! The false relation they
bear to snails is the most extraordinary thing of the kind I have ever
seen. In the same genus (or more truly family) some of the marine species
possess an organisation so marvellous that I can scarcely credit my
eyesight. Every one has heard of the discoloured streaks of water in the
equatorial regions. One I examined was owing to the presence of such
minute Oscillariae that in each square inch of surface there must have been
at least one hundred thousand present. After this I had better be silent,
for you will think me a Baron Munchausen amongst naturalists. Most
assuredly I might collect a far greater number of specimens of Invertebrate
animals if I took less time over each; but I have come to the conclusion
that two animals with their original colour and shape noted down will be
more valuable to naturalists than six with only dates and place. I hope
you will send me your criticisms about my collection; and it will be my
endeavour that nothing you say shall be lost on me. I would send home my
writings with my specimens, only I find I have so repeatedly occasion to
refer back that it would be a serious loss to me. I cannot conclude about
my collection without adding that I implicitly trust in your keeping an
exact account against all the expense of boxes, etc., etc. At this present
minute we are at anchor in the mouth of the river, and such a strange scene
as it is. Everything is in flames--the sky with lightning, the water with
luminous particles, and even the very masts are pointed with a blue flame.
I expect great interest in scouring over the plains of Monte Video, yet I
look back with regret to the Tropics, that magic lure to all naturalists.
The delight of sitting on a decaying trunk amidst the quiet gloom of the
forest is unspeakable and never to be forgotten. How often have I then
wished for you. When I see a banana I well recollect admiring them with
you in Cambridge--little did I then think how soon I should eat their
August 15th. In a few days the box will go by the "Emulous" packet (Capt.
Cooke) to Falmouth and will be forwarded to you. This letter goes the same
way, so that if in course of due time you do not receive the box, will you
be kind enough to write to Falmouth? We have been here (Monte Video) for
some time; but owing to bad weather and continual fighting on shore, we
have scarcely ever been able to walk in the country. I have collected
during the last month nothing, but to-day I have been out and returned like
Noah's Ark with animals of all sorts. I have to-day to my astonishment
found two Planariae living under dry stones: ask L. Jenyns if he has ever
heard of this fact. I also found a most curious snail, and spiders,
beetles, snakes, scorpions ad libitum, and to conclude shot a Cavia
weighing a cwt.--On Friday we sail for the Rio Negro, and then will
commence our real wild work. I look forward with dread to the wet stormy
regions of the south, but after so much pleasure I must put up with some
sea-sickness and misery.
LETTER 4. TO J.S. HENSLOW.
Monte Video, 24th November 1832.
We arrived here on the 24th of October, after our first cruise on the coast
of Patagonia. North of the Rio Negro we fell in with some little schooners
employed in sealing: to save the loss of time in surveying the intricate
mass of banks, Capt. Fitz-Roy has hired two of them and has put officers on
them. It took us nearly a month fitting them out; as soon as this was
finished we came back here, and are now preparing for a long cruise to the
south. I expect to find the wild mountainous country of Terra del Fuego
very interesting, and after the coast of Patagonia I shall thoroughly enjoy
it.--I had hoped for the credit of Dame Nature, no such country as this
last existed; in sad reality we coasted along 240 miles of sand hillocks; I
never knew before, what a horrid ugly object a sand hillock is. The famed
country of the Rio Plata in my opinion is not much better: an enormous
brackish river, bounded by an interminable green plain is enough to make
any naturalist groan. So Hurrah for Cape Horn and the Land of Storms. Now
that I have had my growl out, which is a privilege sailors take on all
occasions, I will turn the tables and give an account of my doing in Nat.
History. I must have one more growl: by ill luck the French Government
has sent one of its collectors to the Rio Negro, where he has been working
for the last six months, and is now gone round the Horn. So that I am very
selfishly afraid he will get the cream of all the good things before me.
As I have nobody to talk to about my luck and ill luck in collecting, I am
determined to vent it all upon you. I have been very lucky with fossil
bones; I have fragments of at least 6 distinct animals: as many of them
are teeth, I trust, shattered and rolled as they have been, they will be
recognised. I have paid all the attention I am capable of to their
geological site; but of course it is too long a story for here. 1st, I
have the tarsi and metatarsi very perfect of a Cavia; 2nd, the upper jaw
and head of some very large animal with four square hollow molars and the
head greatly protruded in front. I at first thought it belonged either to
the Megalonyx or Megatherium (4/1. The animal may probably have been
Grypotherium Darwini, Ow. The osseous plates mentioned below must have
belonged to one of the Glyptodontidae, and not to Megatherium. We are
indebted to Mr. Kerr for calling our attention to a passage in Buckland's
"Bridgewater Treatise" (Volume II., page 20, note), where bony armour is
ascribed to Megatherium.); in confirmation of this in the same formation I
found a large surface of the osseous polygonal plates, which "late
observations" (what are they?) show belong to the Megatherium. Immediately
I saw this I thought they must belong to an enormous armadillo, living
species of which genus are so abundant here. 3rd, The lower jaw of some
large animal which, from the molar teeth, I should think belonged to the
Edentata; 4th, some large molar teeth which in some respects would seem to
belong to an enormous rodent; 5th, also some smaller teeth belonging to the
same order. If it interests you sufficiently to unpack them, I shall be
very curious to hear something about them. Care must be taken in this case
not to confuse the tallies. They are mingled with marine shells which
appear to me identical with what now exist. But since they were deposited
in their beds several geological changes have taken place in the country.
So much for the dead, and now for the living: there is a poor specimen of
a bird which to my unornithological eyes appears to be a happy mixture of a
lark, pigeon and snipe (No. 710). Mr. MacLeay himself never imagined such
an inosculating creature: I suppose it will turn out to be some well-known
bird, although it has quite baffled me. I have taken some interesting
Amphibia; a new Trigonocephalus beautifully connecting in its habits
Crotalus and the Viperidae, and plenty of new (as far as my knowledge goes)
saurians. As for one little toad, I hope it may be new, that it may be
christened "diabolicus." Milton must allude to this very individual when
he talks of "squat like a toad"
(4/2. "...him [Satan] there they [Ithuriel and Zephon] found,
Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve"
("Paradise Lost," Book IV., line 800).
"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" ("Autobiography," page 69).);
its colours are by Werner (4/3. Werner's "Nomenclature of Colours,"
Edinburgh, 1821.) ink black, vermilion red and buff orange. It has been a
splendid cruise for me in Nat. History. Amongst the Pelagic Crustacea,
some new and curious genera. In the Zoophytes some interesting animals.
As for one Flustra, if I had not the specimen to back me up nobody would
believe in its most anomalous structure. But as for novelty all this is
nothing to a family of pelagic animals which at first sight appear like
Medusae but are really highly organised. I have examined them repeatedly,
and certainly from their structure it would be impossible to place them in
any existing order. Perhaps Salpa is the nearest animal, although the
transparency of the body is nearly the only character they have in common.
I think the dried plants nearly contain all which were then (Bahia Blanca)
flowering. All the specimens will be packed in casks. I think there will
be three (before sending this letter I will specify dates, etc., etc.). I
am afraid you will groan or rather the floor of the lecture room will when
the casks arrive. Without you I should be utterly undone. The small cask
contains fish: will you open it to see how the spirit has stood the
evaporation of the Tropics. On board the ship everything goes on as well
as possible; the only drawback is the fearful length of time between this
and the day of our return. I do not see any limits to it. One year is
nearly completed and the second will be so, before we even leave the east
coast of S. America. And then our voyage may be said really to have
commenced. I know not how I shall be able to endure it. The frequency
with which I think of all the happy hours I have spent at Shrewsbury and
Cambridge is rather ominous--I trust everything to time and fate and will
feel my way as I go on.
November 24th.--We have been at Buenos Ayres for a week; it is a fine large
city, but such a country, everything is mud, you can go nowhere, you can do
nothing for mud. In the city I obtained much information about the banks
of the Uruguay--I hear of limestone with shells, and beds of shells in
every direction. I hope when we winter in the Plata to have a most
interesting geological excursion into that country: I purchased fragments
(Nos. 837-8) of some enormous bones, which I was assured belonged to the
former giants!! I also procured some seeds--I do not know whether they are
worth your accepting; if you think so I will get some more. They are in
the box. I have sent to you by the "Duke of York" packet, commanded by
Lieut. Snell, to Falmouth two large casks containing fossil bones, a small
cask with fish and a box containing skins, spirit bottle, etc., and pill-
boxes with beetles. Would you be kind enough to open these latter as they
are apt to become mouldy. With the exception of the bones the rest of my
collection looks very scanty. Recollect how great a proportion of time is
spent at sea. I am always anxious to hear in what state the things come
and any criticisms about quantity or kind of specimens. In the smaller
cask is part of a large head, the anterior portions of which are in the
other large one. The packet has arrived and I am in a great bustle. You
will not hear from me for some months.
LETTER 5. TO J.S. HENSLOW.
Valparaiso, July 24th 1834.
A box has just arrived in which were two of your most kind and affectionate
letters. You do not know how happy they have made me. One is dated
December 15th, 1833, the other January 15th of the same year! By what
fatality it did not arrive sooner I cannot conjecture; I regret it much,
for it contains the information I most wanted, about manner of packing,
etc., etc.: roots with specimens of plants, etc., etc. This I suppose was
written after the reception of my first cargo of specimens. Not having
heard from you until March of this year 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. It is rather late, but I will
allude to some remarks in the January letter; you advise me to send home
duplicates of my notes; I have been aware of the advantage of doing so; but
then at sea to this day, I am invariably sick, excepting on the finest
days, at which times with pelagic animals around me, I could never bring
myself to the task--on shore the most prudent person could hardly expect
such a sacrifice of time. My notes are becoming bulky. I have about 600
small quarto pages full; about half of this is Geology--the other imperfect
descriptions of animals; with the latter I make it a rule only to describe
those parts or facts, which cannot be seen in specimens in spirits. I keep
my private Journal distinct from the above. (N.B. this letter is a most
untidy one, but my mind is untidy with joy; it is your fault, so you must
take the consequences.) With respect to the land Planariae, unquestionably
they are not molluscous animals. I read your letters last night, this
morning I took a little walk; by a curious coincidence, I found a new white
species of Planaria, and a new to me Vaginulus (third species which I have
found in S. America) of Cuvier. Amongst the marine mollusques I have seen
a good many genera, and at Rio found one quite new one. With respect to
the December letter, I am very glad to hear the four casks arrived safe;
since which time you have received another cargo, with the bird skins about
which you did not understand me. Have any of the B. Ayrean seeds produced
plants? From the Falklands I acknowledged a box and letter from you; with
the letter were a few seeds from Patagonia. At present I have specimens
enough to make a heavy cargo, but shall wait as much longer as possible,
because opportunities are not now so good as before. I have just got scent
of some fossil bones of a MAMMOTH; what they may be I do not know, but if
gold or galloping will get them they shall be mine. You tell me you like
hearing how I am going on and what doing, and you well may imagine how much
I enjoy speaking to any one upon subjects which I am always thinking about,
but never have any one to talk to [about]. After leaving the Falklands we
proceeded to the Rio S. Cruz, following up the river till within twenty
miles of the Cordilleras. Unfortunately want of provisions compelled us to
return. This expedition was most important to me as it was a transverse
section of the great Patagonian formation. I conjecture (an accurate
examination of fossils may possibly determine the point) that the main bed
is somewhere about the Miocene period (using Mr. Lyell's expression); I
judge from what I have seen of the present shells of Patagonia. This bed
contains an ENORMOUS field of lava. This is of some interest, as being a
rude approximation to the age of the volcanic part of the great range of
the Andes. Long before this it existed as a slate and porphyritic line of
hills. I have collected a tolerable quantity of information respecting the
period and forms of elevations of these plains. I think these will be
interesting to Mr. Lyell; I had deferred reading his third volume till my
return: you may guess how much pleasure it gave me; some of his woodcuts
came so exactly into play that I have only to refer to them instead of
redrawing similar ones. I had my barometer with me, I only wish I had used
it more in these plains. The valley of S. Cruz appears to me a very
curious one; at first it quite baffled me. I believe I can show good
reasons for supposing it to have been once a northern straits like to that
of Magellan. When I return to England you will have some hard work in
winnowing my Geology; what little I know I have learnt in such a curious
fashion that I often feel very doubtful about the number of grains [of
value?]. Whatever number they may turn out, I have enjoyed extreme
pleasure in collecting them. In T. del Fuego I collected and examined some
corallines; I have observed one fact which quite startled me: it is that
in the genus Sertularia (taken in its most restricted form as [used] by
Lamoureux) and in two species which, excluding comparative expressions, I
should find much difficulty in describing as different, the polypi quite
and essentially differed in all their most important and evident parts of
structure. I have already seen enough to be convinced that the present
families of corallines as arranged by Lamarck, Cuvier, etc., are highly
artificial. It appears that they are in the same state [in] which shells
were when Linnaeus left them for Cuvier to rearrange. I do so wish I was a
better hand at dissecting, I find I can do very little in the minute parts
of structure; I am forced to take a very rough examination as a type for
different classes of structure. It is most extraordinary I can nowhere see
in my books one single description of the polypus of any one coralline
excepting Alcyonium Lobularia of Savigny. I found a curious little stony
Cellaria (5/1. Cellaria, a genus of Bryozoa, placed in the section
Flustrina of the Suborder Chilostomata.) (a new genus) each cell provided
with long toothed bristle, these are capable of various and rapid motions.
This motion is often simultaneous, and can be produced by irritation. This
fact, as far as I can see, is quite isolated in the history of zoophytes
(excepting the Flustra with an organ like a vulture's head); it points out
a much more intimate relation between the polypi than Lamarck is willing to
allow. I forgot whether I mentioned having seen something of the manner of
propagation in that most ambiguous family, the corallines; I feel pretty
well convinced if they are not plants they are not zoophytes. The
"gemmule" of a Halimeda contained several articulations united, ready to
burst their envelope, and become attached to some basis. I believe in
zoophytes universally the gemmule produces a single polypus, which
afterwards or at the same time grows with its cell or single articulation.
The "Beagle" left the Sts. of Magellan in the middle of winter; she found
her road out by a wild unfrequented channel; well might Sir J. Narborough
call the west coast South Desolation, "because it is so desolate a land to
behold." We were driven into Chiloe by some very bad weather. An
Englishman gave me three specimens of that very fine Lucanoidal insect
which is described in the "Camb. Phil. Trans." (5/2. "Description of
Chiasognathus Grantii, a new Lucanideous Insect, etc." by J.F. Stephens
("Trans. Camb. Phil. Soc." Volume IV., page 209, 1833.), two males and one
female. I find Chiloe is composed of lava and recent deposits. The lavas
are curious from abounding in, or rather being in parts composed of
pitchstone. If we go to Chiloe in the summer, I shall reap an
entomological harvest. I suppose the Botany both there and in Chili is
I forgot to state that in the four cargoes of specimens there have been
sent three square boxes, each containing four glass bottles. I mention
this in case they should be stowed beneath geological specimens and thus
escape your notice, perhaps some spirit may be wanted in them. If a box
arrives from B. Ayres with a Megatherium head the other unnumbered
specimens, be kind enough to tell me, as I have strong fears for its
safety. We arrived here the day before yesterday; the views of the distant
mountains are most sublime and the climate delightful; after our long
cruise in the damp gloomy climates of the south, to breathe a clear dry air
and feel honest warm sunshine, and eat good fresh roast beef must be the
summum bonum of human life. I do not like the look of the rocks half so
much as the beef, there is too much of those rather insipid ingredients,
mica, quartz and feldspar. Our plans are at present undecided; there is a
good deal of work to the south of Valparaiso and to the north an indefinite
quantity. I look forward to every part with interest. I have sent you in
this letter a sad dose of egotism, but recollect I look up to you as my
father in Natural History, and a son may talk about himself to his father.
In your paternal capacity as proproctor what a great deal of trouble you
appear to have had. How turbulent Cambridge is become. Before this time
it will have regained its tranquillity. I have a most schoolboy-like wish
to be there, enjoying my holidays. It is a most comfortable reflection to
me, that a ship being made of wood and iron, cannot last for ever, and
therefore this voyage must have an end.
October 28th. This letter has been lying in my portfolio ever since July;
I did not send it away because I did not think it worth the postage; it
shall now go with a box of specimens. Shortly after arriving here I set
out on a geological excursion, and had a very pleasant ramble about the
base of the Andes. The whole country appears composed of breccias (and I
imagine slates) which universally have been modified and oftentimes
completely altered by the action of fire. The varieties of porphyry thus
produced are endless, but nowhere have I yet met with rocks which have
flowed in a stream; dykes of greenstone are very numerous. Modern volcanic
action is entirely shut up in the very central parts (which cannot now be
reached on account of the snow) of the Cordilleras. In the south of the R.
Maypu I examined the Tertiary plains, already partially described by M.
Gay. (5/3. "Rapport fait a l'Academie Royale des Sciences, sur les
Travaux Geologiques de M. Gay," by Alex. Brongniart ("Ann. Sci. Nat."
Volume XXVIII., page 394, 1833.) The fossil shells appear to me to be far
more different from the recent ones than in the great Patagonian formation;
it will be curious if an Eocene and Miocene (recent there is abundance of)
could be proved to exist in S. America as well as in Europe. I have been
much interested by finding abundance of recent shells at an elevation of
1,300 feet; the country in many places is scattered over with shells but
these are all littoral ones. So that I suppose the 1,300 feet elevation
must be owing to a succession of small elevations such as in 1822. With
these certain proofs of the recent residence of the ocean over all the
lower parts of Chili, the outline of every view and the form of each valley
possesses a high interest. Has the action of running water or the sea
formed this deep ravine? was a question which often arose in my mind and
generally was answered by finding a bed of recent shells at the bottom. I
have not sufficient arguments, but I do not believe that more than a small
fraction of the height of the Andes has been formed within the Tertiary
period. The conclusion of my excursion was very unfortunate, I became
unwell and could hardly reach this place. I have been in bed for the last
month, but am now rapidly getting well. I had hoped during this time to
have made a good collection of insects but it has been impossible: I
regret the less because Chiloe fairly swarms with collectors; there are
more naturalists in the country, than carpenters or shoemakers or any other
In my letter from the Falkland Islands I said I had fears about a box with
a Megatherium. I have since heard from B. Ayres that it went to Liverpool
by the brig "Basingwaithe." If you have not received it, it is I think
worth taking some trouble about. In October two casks and a jar were sent
by H.M.S. "Samarang" via Portsmouth. I have no doubt you have received
them. With this letter I send a good many bird skins; in the same box with
them, there is a paper parcel containing pill boxes with insects. The
other pill boxes require no particular care. You will see in two of these
boxes some dried Planariae (terrestrial), the only method I have found of
preserving them (they are exceedingly brittle). By examining the white
species I understand some little of the internal structure. There are two
small parcels of seeds. There are some plants which I hope may interest
you, or at least those from Patagonia where I collected every one in
flower. There is a bottle clumsily but I think securely corked containing
water and gas from the hot baths of Cauquenes seated at foot of Andes and
long celebrated for medicinal properties. I took pains in filling and
securing both water and gas. If you can find any one who likes to analyze
them, I should think it would be worth the trouble. I have not time at
present to copy my few observations about the locality, etc., etc., [of]
these springs. Will you tell me how the Arachnidae which I have sent home,
for instance those from Rio, appear to be preserved. I have doubts whether
it is worth while collecting them.
We sail the day after to-morrow: our plans are at last limited and
definite; I am delighted to say we have bid an eternal adieu to T. del
Fuego. The "Beagle" will not proceed further south than C. Tres Montes;
from which point we survey to the north. The Chonos Archipelago is
delightfully unknown: fine deep inlets running into the Cordilleras--where
we can steer by the light of a volcano. I do not know which part of the
voyage now offers the most attractions. This is a shamefully untidy
letter, but you must forgive me.
LETTER 6. TO J.S. HENSLOW.
April 18th, 1835. Valparaiso.
I have just returned from Mendoza, having crossed the Cordilleras by two
passes. This trip has added much to my knowledge of the geology of the
country. Some of the facts, of the truth of which I in my own mind feel
fully convinced, will appear to you quite absurd and incredible. I will
give a very short sketch of the structure of these huge mountains. In the
Portillo pass (the more southern one) travellers have described the
Cordilleras to consist of a double chain of nearly equal altitude separated
by a considerable interval. This is the case; and the same structure
extends to the northward to Uspallata; the little elevation of the eastern
line (here not more than 6,000-7,000 feet.) has caused it almost to be
overlooked. To begin with the western and principal chain, we have, where
the sections are best seen, an enormous mass of a porphyritic conglomerate
resting on granite. This latter rock seems to form the nucleus of the
whole mass, and is seen in the deep lateral valleys, injected amongst,
upheaving, overturning in the most extraordinary manner, the overlying
strata. The stratification in all the mountains is beautifully distinct
and from a variety in the colour can be seen at great distances. I cannot
imagine any part of the world presenting a more extraordinary scene of the
breaking up of the crust of the globe than the very central parts of the
Andes. The upheaval has taken place by a great number of (nearly) N. and
S. lines; which in most cases have formed as many anticlinal and synclinal
ravines; the strata in the highest pinnacles are almost universally
inclined at an angle from 70 deg to 80 deg. I cannot tell you how I
enjoyed some of these views--it is worth coming from England, once to feel
such intense delight; at an elevation from 10 to 12,000 feet there is a
transparency in the air, and a confusion of distances and a sort of
stillness which gives the sensation of being in another world, and when to
this is joined the picture so plainly drawn of the great epochs of
violence, it causes in the mind a most strange assemblage of ideas.
The formation I call Porphyritic Conglomerates is the most important and
most developed one in Chili: from a great number of sections I find it a
true coarse conglomerate or breccia, which by every step in a slow
gradation passes into a fine claystone-porphyry; the pebbles and cement
becoming porphyritic till at last all is blended in one compact rock. The
porphyries are excessively abundant in this chain. I feel sure at least
4/5ths of them have been thus produced from sedimentary beds in situ.
There are porphyries which have been injected from below amongst strata,
and others ejected, which have flowed in streams; it is remarkable, and I
could show specimens of this rock produced in these three methods, which
cannot be distinguished. It is a great mistake considering the Cordilleras
here as composed of rocks which have flowed in streams. In this range I
nowhere saw a fragment, which I believe to have thus originated, although
the road passes at no great distance from the active volcanoes. The
porphyries, conglomerate, sandstone and quartzose sandstone and limestones
alternate and pass into each other many times, overlying (where not broken
through by the granite) clay-slate. In the upper parts, the sandstone
begins to alternate with gypsum, till at last we have this substance of a
stupendous thickness. I really think the formation is in some places (it
varies much) nearly 2,000 feet thick, it occurs often with a green
(epidote?) siliceous sandstone and snow-white marble; it resembles that
found in the Alps in containing large concretions of a crystalline marble
of a blackish grey colour. The upper beds which form some of the higher
pinnacles consist of layers of snow-white gypsum and red compact sandstone,
from the thickness of paper to a few feet, alternating in an endless round.
The rock has a most curiously painted appearance. At the pass of the
Peuquenes in this formation, where however a black rock like clay-slate,
without many laminae, occurring with a pale limestone, has replaced the red
sandstone, I found abundant impressions of shells. The elevation must be
between 12 and 13,000 feet. A shell which I believe is the Gryphaea is the
most abundant--an Ostrea, Turratella, Ammonites, small bivalves,
Terebratulae (?). Perhaps some good conchologist (6/1. Some of these
genera are mentioned by Darwin ("Geol. Obs." page 181) as having been named
for him by M. D'Orbigny.) will be able to give a guess, to what grand
division of the formations of Europe these organic remains bear most
resemblance. They are exceedingly imperfect and few. It was late in the
season and the situation particularly dangerous for snow-storms. I did not
dare to delay, otherwise a grand harvest might have been reaped. So much
for the western line; in the Portillo pass, proceeding eastward, we meet an
immense mass of conglomerate, dipping to the west 45 deg, which rest on
micaceous sandstone, etc., etc., upheaved and converted into quartz-rock
penetrated by dykes from the very grand mass of protogine (large crystals
of quartz, red feldspar, and occasional little chlorite). Now this
conglomerate which reposes on and dips from the protogene 45 deg consists
of the peculiar rocks of the first described chain, pebbles of the black
rock with shells, green sandstone, etc., etc. It is hence manifest that
the upheaval (and deposition at least of part) of the grand eastern chain
is entirely posterior to the western. To the north in the Uspallata pass,
we have also a fact of the same class. Bear this in mind: it will help to
make you believe what follows. I have said the Uspallata range is
geologically, although only 6,000-7,000 feet, a continuation of the grand
eastern chain. It has its nucleus of granite, consists of grand beds of
various crystalline rocks, which I can feel no doubt are subaqueous lavas
alternating with sandstone, conglomerates and white aluminous beds (like
decomposed feldspar) with many other curious varieties of sedimentary
deposits. These lavas and sandstones alterate very many times, and are
quite conformable one to the other. During two days of careful examination
I said to myself at least fifty times, how exactly like (only rather
harder) these beds are to those of the upper Tertiary strata of Patagonia,
Chiloe and Concepcion, without the possible identity ever having occurred
to me. At last there was no resisting the conclusion. I could not expect
shells, for they never occur in this formation; but lignite or carbonaceous
shale ought to be found. I had previously been exceedingly puzzled by
meeting in the sandstone, thin layers (few inches to feet thick) of a
brecciated pitchstone. I strongly suspect the underlying granite has
altered such beds into this pitchstone. The silicified wood (particularly
characteristic) was yet absent. The conviction that I was on the Tertiary
strata was so strong by this time in my mind, that on the third day in the
midst of lavas and [? masses] of granite I began my apparently forlorn
hunt. How do you think I succeeded? In an escarpement of compact greenish
sandstone, I found a small wood of petrified trees in a vertical position,
or rather the strata were inclined about 20-30 deg to one point and the
trees 70 deg to the opposite one. That is, they were before the tilt truly
vertical. The sandstone consists of many layers, and is marked by the
concentric lines of the bark (I have specimens); 11 are perfectly
silicified and resemble the dicotyledonous wood which I have found at
Chiloe and Concepcion (6/2. "Geol. Obs." page 202. Specimens of the
silicified wood were examined by Robert Brown, and determined by him as
coniferous, "partaking of the characters of the Araucarian tribe, with some
curious points of affinity with the yew."); the others (30-40) I only know
to be trees from the analogy of form and position; they consist of snow-
white columns (like Lot's wife) of coarsely crystalline carb. of lime. The
largest shaft is 7 feet. They are all close together, within 100 yards,
and about the same level: nowhere else could I find any. It cannot be
doubted that the layers of fine sandstone have quietly been deposited
between a clump of trees which were fixed by their roots. The sandstone
rests on lava, is covered by a great bed apparently about 1,000 feet thick
of black augitic lava, and over this there are at least 5 grand
alternations of such rocks and aqueous sedimentary deposits, amounting in
thickness to several thousand feet. I am quite afraid of the only
conclusion which I can draw from this fact, namely that there must have
been a depression in the surface of the land to that amount. But
neglecting this consideration, it was a most satisfactory support of my
presumption of the Tertiary (I mean by Tertiary, that the shells of the
period were closely allied, or some identical, to those which now live, as
in the lower beds of Patagonia) age of this eastern chain. A great part of
the proof must remain upon my ipse dixit of a mineralogical resemblance
with those beds whose age is known, and the character of which resemblance
is to be subject to infinite variation, passing from one variety to another
by a concretionary structure. I hardly expect you to believe me, when it
is a consequence of this view that granite, which forms peaks of a height
probably of 14,000 feet, has been fluid in the Tertiary period; that strata
of that period are altered by its heat, and are traversed by dykes from the
mass. That these strata have also probably undergone an immense
depression, that they are now inclined at high angles and form regular or
complicated anticlinal lines. To complete the climax and seal your
disbelief, these same sedimentary strata and lavas are traversed by VERY
NUMEROUS, true metallic veins of iron, copper, arsenic, silver and gold,
and these can be traced to the underlying granite. A gold mine has been
worked close to the clump of silicified trees. If when you see my
specimens, sections and account, you should think that there is pretty
strong presumptive evidence of the above facts, it appears very important;
for the structure, and size of this chain will bear comparison with any in
the world, and that this all should have been produced in so very recent a
period is indeed wonderful. In my own mind I am quite convinced of the
reality of this. I can anyhow most conscientiously say that no previously
formed conjecture warped my judgment. As I have described so did I
actually observe the facts. But I will have some mercy and end this most
lengthy account of my geological trip.
On some of the large patches of perpetual snow, I found the famous red snow
of the Arctic countries; I send with this letter my observations and a
piece of paper on which I tried to dry some specimens. If the fact is new
and you think it worth while, either yourself examine them or send them to
whoever has described the specimens from the north and publish a notice in
any of the periodicals. I also send a small bottle with two lizards, one
of them is viviparous as you will see by the accompanying notice. A M.
Gay--a French naturalist--has already published in one of the newspapers of
this country a similar statement and probably has forwarded to Paris some
account; as the fact appears singular would it not be worth while to hand
over the specimens to some good lizardologist and comparative anatomist to
publish an account of their internal structure? Do what you think fit.
This letter will go with a cargo of specimens from Coquimbo. I shall write
to let you know when they are sent off. In the box there are two bags of
seeds, one [from the] valleys of the Cordilleras 5,000-10,000 feet high,
the soil and climate exceedingly dry, soil very light and stony, extremes
in temperature; the other chiefly from the dry sandy Traversia of Mendoza
3,000 feet more or less. If some of the bushes should grow but not be
healthy, try a slight sprinkling of salt and saltpetre. The plain is
saliferous. All the flowers in the Cordilleras appear to be autumnal
flowerers--they were all in blow and seed, many of them very pretty. I
gathered them as I rode along on the hill sides. If they will but choose
to come up, I have no doubt many would be great rarities. In the Mendoza
bag there are the seeds or berries of what appears to be a small potato
plant with a whitish flower. They grow many leagues from where any
habitation could ever have existed owing to absence of water. Amongst the
Chonos dried plants, you will see a fine specimen of the wild potato,
growing under a most opposite climate, and unquestionably a true wild
potato. It must be a distinct species from that of the Lower Cordilleras
one. Perhaps as with the banana, distinct species are now not to be
distinguished in their varieties produced by cultivation. I cannot copy
out the few remarks about the Chonos potato. With the specimens there is a
bundle of old papers and notebooks. Will you take care of them; in case I
should lose my notes, these might be useful. I do not send home any
insects because they must be troublesome to you, and now so little more of
the voyage remains unfinished I can well take charge of them. In two or
three days I set out for Coquimbo by land; the "Beagle" calls for me in the
beginning of June. So that I have six weeks more to enjoy geologising over
these curious mountains of Chili. There is at present a bloody revolution
in Peru. The Commodore has gone there, and in the hurry has carried our
letters with him; perhaps amongst them there will be one from you. I wish
I had the old Commodore here, I would shake some consideration for others
into his old body. From Coquimbo you will again hear from me.
LETTER 7. TO J.S. HENSLOW.
Lima, July 12th, 1835.
This is the last letter which I shall ever write to you from the shores of
America, and for this reason I send it. In a few days time the "Beagle"
will sail for the Galapagos Islands. I look forward with joy and interest
to this, both as being somewhat nearer to England and for the sake of
having a good look at an active volcano. Although we have seen lava in
abundance, I have never yet beheld the crater. I sent by H.M.S. "Conway"
two large boxes of specimens. The "Conway" sailed the latter end of June.
With them were letters for you, since that time I have travelled by land
from Valparaiso to Copiapo and seen something more of the Cordilleras.
Some of my geological views have been, subsequently to the last letter,
altered. I believe the upper mass of strata is not so very modern as I
supposed. This last journey has explained to me much of the ancient
history of the Cordilleras. I feel sure they formerly consisted of a chain
of volcanoes from which enormous streams of lava were poured forth at the
bottom of the sea. These alternate with sedimentary beds to a vast
thickness; at a subsequent period these volcanoes must have formed islands,
from which have been produced strata of several thousand feet thick of
coarse conglomerate. (7/1. See "Geological Observations on South America"
(London, 1846), Chapter VII.: "Central Chile; Structure of the
Cordillera.") These islands were covered with fine trees; in the
conglomerate, I found one 15 feet in circumference perfectly silicified to
the very centre. The alternations of compact crystalline rocks (I cannot
doubt subaqueous lavas), and sedimentary beds, now upheaved fractured and
indurated, form the main range of the Andes. The formation was produced at
the time when ammonites, gryphites, oysters, Pecten, Mytilus, etc., etc.,
lived. In the central parts of Chili the structure of the lower beds is
rendered very obscure by the metamorphic action which has rendered even the
coarsest conglomerates porphyritic. The Cordilleras of the Andes so worthy
of admiration from the grandeur of their dimensions, rise in dignity when
it is considered that since the period of ammonites, they have formed a
marked feature in the geography of the globe. The geology of these
mountains pleased me in one respect; when reading Lyell, it had always
struck me that if the crust of the world goes on changing in a circle,
there ought to be somewhere found formations which, having the age of the
great European Secondary beds, should possess the structure of Tertiary
rocks or those formed amidst islands and in limited basins. Now the
alternations of lava and coarse sediment which form the upper parts of the
Andes, correspond exactly to what would accumulate under such
circumstances. In consequence of this, I can only very roughly separate
into three divisions the varying strata (perhaps 8,000 feet thick) which
compose these mountains. I am afraid you will tell me to learn my ABC to
know quartz from feldspar before I indulge in such speculations. I lately
got hold of a report on M. Dessalines D'Orbigny's labours in S. America
(7/2. "Voyage dans l'Amerique Meridionale, etc." (A. Dessalines
D'Orbigny).); I experienced rather a debasing degree of vexation to find he
has described the Geology of the Pampas, and that I have had some hard
riding for nothing, it was however gratifying that my conclusions are the
same, as far as I can collect, with his results. It is also capital that
the whole of Bolivia will be described. I hope to be able to connect his
geology of that country with mine of Chili. After leaving Copiapo, we
touched at Iquique. I visited but do not quite understand the position of
the nitrate of soda beds. Here in Peru, from the state of anarchy, I can
make no expedition.
I hear from home, that my brother is going to send me a box with books, and
a letter from you. It is very unfortunate that I cannot receive this
before we reach Sydney, even if it ever gets safely so far. I shall not
have another opportunity for many months of again writing to you. Will you
have the charity to send me one more letter (as soon as this reaches you)
directed to the C. of Good Hope. Your letters besides affording me the
greatest delight always give me a fresh stimulus for exertion. Excuse this
geological prosy letter, and farewell till you hear from me at Sydney, and
see me in the autumn of 1836.
LETTER 8. TO JOSIAH WEDGWOOD.
[Shrewsbury, October 5th, 1836.]
My dear Uncle
The "Beagle" arrived at Falmouth on Sunday evening, and I reached home late
last night. My head is quite confused with so much delight, but I cannot
allow my sisters to tell you first how happy I am to see all my dear
friends again. I am obliged to return in three or four days to London,
where the "Beagle" will be paid off, and then I shall pay Shrewsbury a
longer visit. I am most anxious once again to see Maer, and all its
inhabitants, so that in the course of two or three weeks, I hope in person
to thank you, as being my first Lord of the Admiralty. (8/1. Readers of
the "Life and Letters" will remember that it was to Josiah Wedgwood that
Darwin owed the great opportunity of his life ("Life and Letters," Volume
I., page 59), and it was fitting that he should report himself to his
"first Lord of the Admiralty." The present letter clears up a small
obscurity to which Mr. Poulton has called attention ("Charles Darwin and
the Theory of Natural Selection," "Century" Series, 1896, page 25).
Writing to Fitz-Roy from Shrewsbury on October 6th, Darwin says, "I arrived
here yesterday morning at breakfast time." This refers to his arrival at
his father's house, after having slept at the inn. The date of his arrival
in Shrewsbury was, therefore, October 4th, as given in the "Life and
Letters," I., page 272.) The entries in his Diary are:--
October 2, 1831. Took leave of my home.
October 4, 1836. Reached Shrewsbury after absence of 5 years and 2 days.)
I am so very happy I hardly know what I am writing. Believe me your most
LETTER 9. TO C. LYELL.
Shrewsbury, Monday [November 12th, 1838].
My dear Lyell
I suppose you will be in Hart St. (9/1. Sir Charles Lyell lived at 16,
Hart Street, Bloomsbury.) to-morrow [or] the 14th. I write because I
cannot avoid wishing to be the first person to tell Mrs. Lyell and
yourself, that I have the very good, and shortly since [i.e. until lately]
very unexpected fortune of going to be married! The lady is my cousin Miss
Emma Wedgwood, the sister of Hensleigh Wedgwood, and of the elder brother
who married my sister, so we are connected by manifold ties, besides on my
part, by the most sincere love and hearty gratitude to her for accepting
such a one as myself.
I determined when last at Maer to try my chance, but I hardly expected such
good fortune would turn up for me. I shall be in town in the middle or
latter end of the ensuing week. (9/2. Mr. Darwin was married on January
29th, 1839 (see "Life and Letters," I., page 299). The present letter was
written the day after he had become engaged.) I fear you will say I might
very well have left my story untold till we met. But I deeply feel your
kindness and friendship towards me, which in truth I may say, has been one
chief source of happiness to me, ever since my return to England: so you
must excuse me. I am well sure that Mrs. Lyell, who has sympathy for every
one near her, will give me her hearty congratulations.
Believe me my dear Lyell
Yours most truly obliged
(PLATE: MRS. DARWIN. Walker and Cockerell, ph. sc.)
LETTER 10. TO EMMA WEDGWOOD.
Sunday Night. Athenaeum. [January 20th, 1839.]
...I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed my Maer visit,--I felt in
anticipation my future tranquil life: how I do hope you may be as happy as
I know I shall be: but it frightens me, as often as I think of what a
family you have been one of. I was thinking this morning how it came, that
I, who am fond of talking and am scarcely ever out of spirits, should so
entirely rest my notions of happiness on quietness, and a good deal of
solitude: but I believe the explanation is very simple and I mention it
because it will give you hopes, that I shall gradually grow less of a
brute, it is that during the five years of my voyage (and indeed I may add
these two last) which from the active manner in which they have been
passed, may be said to be the commencement of my real life, the whole of my
pleasure was derived from what passed in my mind, while admiring views by
myself, travelling across the wild deserts or glorious forests or pacing
the deck of the poor little "Beagle" at night. Excuse this much egotism,--
I give it you because I think you will humanize me, and soon teach me there
is greater happiness than building theories and accumulating facts in
silence and solitude. My own dearest Emma, I earnestly pray, you may never
regret the great, and I will add very good, deed, you are to perform on the
Tuesday: my own dear future wife, God bless you...The Lyells called on me
to-day after church; as Lyell was so full of geology he was obliged to
disgorge,--and I dine there on Tuesday for an especial confidence. I was
quite ashamed of myself to-day, for we talked for half an hour,
unsophisticated geology, with poor Mrs. Lyell sitting by, a monument of
patience. I want practice in ill-treatment the female sex,--I did not
observe Lyell had any compunction; I hope to harden my conscience in time:
few husbands seem to find it difficult to effect this. Since my return I
have taken several looks, as you will readily believe, into the drawing-
room; I suppose my taste [for] harmonious colours is already deteriorated,
for I declare the room begins to look less ugly. I take so much pleasure
in the house (10/1. No. 12, Upper Gower Street, is now No. 110, Gower
Street, and forms part of a block inhabited by Messrs. Shoolbred's
employes. We are indebted, for this information, to Mr. Wheatley, of the
Society of Arts.), I declare I am just like a great overgrown child with a
new toy; but then, not like a real child, I long to have a co-partner and