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Letter 270

Darwin, C. R. to Fox, W. D.

[7–11] Mar 1835

    Summary Add

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    Congratulates WDF on his marriage,

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    reminisces about Cambridge and early entomology. Now neglects entomology for geology.

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    Describes Concepción after earthquake.

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    Hopes to cross Cordilleras before they leave South America in September.



March 1835

My dear Fox

Our correspondence seems to have died a natural death or rather I will say an unnatural death. I believe I wrote last to you, but it was before I heard the news of your marriage. You have my most sincere congratulations, mixed however with some little envy: I hope you are now stronger in your health; & then I am sure you will be as happy as you well deserve to be. How changed every body & every thing will be by the time I return. You a married clergyman, ave maria, how strange it sounds to my ears. I wonder when I shall see you: If you continue to reside in the Isle of Wight perhaps it will be in Portsmouth. If a dirty little vessel, with her old rigging worn to shreds, comes into harbor September 1836 you may know it is the Beagle. You will find us a respectable set of old Gentlemen, with hardly a coat to our backs. This same returning to dear old England is a glorious prospect; I wish it was rather nearer; but it is sufficient to make up for a thousand vexations. Five years is a sadly too long period to leave ones relations & friends; all common ideas must be lost & one returns a stranger, where one least expects or wishes to be so.— I hope at least it will not happen with you & me.— I think the recollections of the snug breakfasts & pleasant rambles at Cambridge, will make us remember each other. You are one of the indirect causes of my coming on this voyage: by taking me as your dog in the grand chace of Crux Major you made me an Entomologist & introduced me to Henslow. I am very glad I have come on this expedition, but like a Sailor I have learnt to growl at all the details— What I shall ultimately do with myself—Quien Sabe? But it is very un-Sailor-like to think of the Future & so I have done.—

We leave for ever the coasts of America in the beginning of September, our route lies by the Galapagos, Marquesas, Society, Friendly Is, New Zealand (?), to Sydney. I hope, shortly after receiving this you will write to me at the latter place. I have heard nothing about you for a long time; excepting the one grand thing marriage; this certainly is a host in itself, but I should like to hear some more particulars, what doing, where living, & infuturity?— Can you drink to Hopes toast of ``Entomologia floreat''. in one of your letters you told me you had been collecting Pselaphidæ. In the damp forests of Chiloe & Chonos Archepelago, I had the satisfaction of taking many small English genera: amongst them Pselaphus, Corticari's, minute Staphylini, Phalacrus, Atomaria & Anaspis. (Remember the Fungi at Osmaston) &c &c & Elmis beneath a stone in a brook.—

Latterly however I have been paying more attention to Geology even to the neglect of marine Zoology. We are now making a passage from Concepcio>n: you will probably have seen in the Newspapers an account of the dreadful earthquake. We were at Valdivia at the time; the shock was not quite so strong there, but enough to be very interesting.— The ruins of Concepcion is a most awful spectacle of desolation. There absolutely is not one house standing.— I have thus had the satisfaction in this cruize both of seeing several Volcanoes & feeling their most terrible effects. It is certainly one of the very grandest phenomena to which this globe is subject.—

As soon as the Beagle reaches Valparaiso, I intend going on shore & shall reside there till 1st of June, when the Beagle will pick me up on her road to Guyaquil.— I am at present full of hope to be able to cross the Cordilleras & see the Pampas of Mendoza.— I am very anxious to connect the geology of the low country of Chili with the main range of the Andes.— I will keep this letter open for the chance of receiving one from you.— I should have written before sailing on the last cruize to the South; but I was very ill for 6 weeks & found all labor, even of writing too irksome. Farewell dear Fox. God bless you.— I hope you are both well & happy. | Your affectionate friend. | C. Darwin.—

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 270.f1
    CD described the earthquake at Concepción in his paper, read before the Geological Society in March 1838, `On the connexion of certain volcanic phenomena in South America' (Collected papers 1: 53--86).
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