His health has improved but he continues "a good deal of an invalid" and is uncertain what the future holds for him.
His interest in entomology and ornithology continues; he has been studying the gulls on the Isle of Wight.
Ryde, Isle of Wight.
January 23. 1833.
My dear Darwin
As I remember promising that I would write to you again as Winter came on, I sit down
to redeem it, fearing that you would almost rather I did not take the trouble, as I have
nothing in the world to say that will interest you of any one excepting myself, and self
is rather a dull subject to either write a letter upon, or receive one.— I had
hoped to have heard a few lines from you in the last 5 months but I can easily
imagine your time so taken up that your necessary letters home are quite sufficient for
you, and perhaps in your case I should be as bad a correspondent. I have tried to
instigate Julia for some weeks to write to your Sisters in order that I might hear what
they knew of you, but hitherto without success, & if I do not soon have better
luck, I feel half inclined to do it myself; Erasmus would not I conclude answer my
letter if I wrote to him, nor do I know his direction.— I have seen so many
vessels on the point of setting out to South America from Portsmouth & waiting
for winds at the Mother Bank that my erratic propensities have
been often quite painfully excited and I have dreamt by the night that I was as busy as
could be collecting with you, all around new, beautiful & strange. My destiny
however is I fear quite fixed to the Continent at least, not to say (as perhaps may be
much nearer the truth,) the country I was born in, and of tropical regions I must be
content to hear from Humboldt & Darwin.— I hope your
companion will be sufficiently great even for your enlarged ideas. But if I go on at
this rate, I shall fill my paper without even telling you of myself, of whom I half
flatter myself you will wish to hear, as I was in a very poor way when I last wrote to
you. Since then I have become much stronger & better able to bear exertion, tho'
I have had many attacks some of a more serious & others slight nature, and I
still continue a good deal of an Invalid, and fear I shall do for some time to come. I
did dread the Winter very much indeed but by great precautions & with the very
mild climate of Ryde, I hope now to get it over pretty well, and then I trust that next
Spring & Summer may do a great deal to take away the remaining affection of my
Lungs. I often have great doubts whether I shall ever again be able to exert them for
any continued length of time, as at present a few minutes quite oversets me without
resting them. I must however hope for the best, at present I have very great cause for
thankfulness that I am as I am.— I remain here with my two younger sisters
& little Anna Maria, (who will have it that she has quite forgot you) for the
Winter and most probably the Spring, when my health will determine what then becomes of
me. You will be glad to hear that all at Osmaston are quite well, My Father and Mother
only left here two days ago.— I was much pleased a few weeks since by finding
out in this town, a splendid Case of Insects from Rio de Janeiro, furnished by a
I have much enjoyed seeing our Navy constantly going & coming on account of
this Dutch Blockade, and among all sizes have often fancied your little Beagle. You will
have seen in the Papers, that we have had a French & English Fleet lying
together at Spithead, & since cruizing together & now lying in Downs. I
rejoiced much at it & hope the National antipathies may be done away, but I have
been much amused by the annoyance it has given many of the Officers in our
Ships— In several I visitted they could scarcely find names sufficiently bad
for the French Officers, & the older the Officers the more bitter their hatred.
I went over the finest French Ship & was much pleased with her & her
Officers & Crew, all picked for the purpose of showing Englishmen what Nick Frog
can do in his Navy.— Erasmus Galtons Ship came here some months since
& has just been paid off. He really is a very good specimen of a Midshipman
& I am sure you would be much pleased with him. The whole Family came here
& stayed some weeks while the ship was refitting for Holland. I wish much I
could enter into your Geological Researches as well as your Ornitho
- f1 197.f1Roadstead between Spithead and Isle of Wight.
- f2 197.f2Probably Fleming 1828. An annotated copy is in Darwin Library--CUL.
- f3 197.f3The Field Naturalist (London, 1833--5).
- f4 197.f4William Chapman Hewitson. The first part of his British oology was published in 1831.