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Letter 2276

Darwin, C. R. to Covington, Syms

18 May [1858]

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    CD's health has been poor owing to hard work [on Natural selection]. He has to treat of every branch of natural history, which is beyond his strength.


Down Bromley, Kent,

May 18.

Dear Covington,—

I was glad to get some time ago your letter of the 19th of August, and I should have answered some time ago, but my health has been very indifferent of late, owing to my working too hard. I have for some years been preparing a work for publication which I commenced 20 years ago, and for which I sometimes find extracts in your handwriting! This work will be my biggest; it treats on the origin of varieties of our domestic animals and plants, and on the origin of species in a state of nature. I have to discuss every branch of natural history, and the work is beyond my strength and tries me sorely. I have just returned from staying a fortnight at a water-cure establishment, where I bathe thrice a day, and loiter about all day long doing nothing, and for the time it does me wonderful good. I suppose you have no such thing as water-cure establishments in Australia; in your fine climate and much out-of-door work such is not required, I suppose.

You say you have eight children; we beat you by one. My eldest is between 18 and 19, and is going to Cambridge in October to be educated as a Barrister, for want of a better and honester trade. I hope Pambula flourishes; in your last letter you express some fear about the road being turned and trade being thus injured; I hope that this has not happened. I have not seen a soul of an old shipmate, except Captain Fitz Roy, for the last year. Captain Sulivan lately had the misfortune to lose a child. When you feel inclined I shall be always glad to hear of your progress and well-doing, and with every good wish, I remain, yours very faithfully, | Ch. Darwin.

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 2276.f1
    Dated by CD's references to having just returned from a ‘water-cure’ establishment (see n. 4, below) and to William Erasmus Darwin going to Cambridge University in October.
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    f2 2276.f2
    Misspelled ‘Corington’ in the Sydney Mail.
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    f3 2276.f3
    The letter has not been found.
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    f4 2276.f4
    CD visited Moor Park hydropathic establishment from 20 April to 4 May 1858 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
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    f5 2276.f5
    CD actually had only eight living children.
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    f6 2276.f6
    William Erasmus Darwin entered Christ's College, Cambridge in October 1858.
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    f7 2276.f7
    Robert FitzRoy and his wife visited Down House in February 1857 (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to Syms Covington, 22 February 1857).
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    f8 2276.f8
    Bartholomew James Sulivan. Covington had sailed on the Beagle expedition with CD, Sulivan, and FitzRoy.
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