CD's impressions of Sydney and of FitzRoy's character and temperament.
My dear Susan
The day after tomorrow we shall sail from this place; but before I give any account of
our proceedings, I will make an end with Business.— Will you tell my Father
that I have drawn a bill for 100£, of which Fifty went to pay this present
& last year's mess money. The remaining fifty is for current expenses; or rather
I grieve to say it was for such expences: for all is nearly gone.— This is a
most villainously dear place; & I stood in need of many articles. You will have
received my letter some time ago, from New Zealand. Here we arrived on the
Two days after arriving here I started on a ride to Bathurst, a place about
130 in the interior, & the waters of which flow in to the vast unknown
interior.— My object was partly for Geology, but chiefly to get an idea of the
state of the colony, & see the country. Large towns, all over the world are
nearly similar, & it is only by such excursions that the characteristic features
can be perceived. This is really a wonderful Colony; ancient Rome, in her Imperial
grandeur, would not have been ashamed of such an offspring. When my Grandfather wrote
the lines of ``Hope's visit to Sydney Cove'' on M
In my return from my ride I staid a night with Capt King, who lives about 30 miles from Sydney.— With him, I called on some of his relations, a family of Mac Arthurs, who live in a beautiful very large country house. When we called I suppose there were twenty people sitting down to luncheon; There was such a bevy of pretty lady like Australian girls, & so deliciously English-like the whole party looked, that one might have fancied oneself actually in England. From Sydney we go to Hobart Town from thence to King George Sound & then adie<u> to Australia. From Hobart town being superadded to the list of places I think we shall not reach England before September: But, thank God the Captain is as home sick as I am, & I trust he will rather grow worse than better. He is busy in getting his account of the voyage in a forward state for publication. From those parts, which I have seen of it, I think it will be well written, but to my taste is rather defecient in energy or vividness of description. I have been for the last 12 months on very Cordial terms with him.— He is an extra ordinary, but noble character, unfortunately however affected with strong peculiarities of temper. Of this, no man is more aware than himself, as he shows by his attempts to conquer them. I often doubt what will be his end, under many circumstances I am sure, it would be a brilliant one, under others I fear a very unhappy one.
From K. George Sound to Isle of France, C. of Good Hope, St. Helena, Ascencion & omitting the C. Verd's on account of the unhealthy season, to the Azores & then England.— To this last stage I hourly look forward with more & more intense delight; I try to drive into my stupid head Maxims of patience & common sense, but that head is too full of affection for all of you to allow such dull personages to enter. My best love to my Father.— God bless you all. My dearest old Granny | Your most affectionate brother | Charles Darwin.
Tell my Father I really am afraid I shall be obliged to draw a small bill at Hobart. I know my Father will say that a hint from me on such subject is worthy of as much attention, as if it was foretold by a sacred revelation. But I do not feel in truth oracular on the subject. I have been extra<vag>ant & bought two water-color sketches, one of the S. Cruz river & & another in T. del Fuego; 3 guineas each, from Martens, who is established as an Artist at this place. I would not have bought them if I could have guessed how expensive my ride to Bathurst turned out.
- f1 294.f1The prophecy of the bright future for the new colony in Erasmus Darwin's poem (E. Darwin 1791, Canto 2: 315) was inspired by a Wedgwood medallion modelled from clay brought from Sydney soon after the colony was founded (see Voyage, p. 134).
- f2 294.f2In a report to Captain Beaufort dated only two days earlier (26 January 1836), Robert FitzRoy commented: `My messmate Mr. Darwin is so much the worse for a long voyage that I am most anxious to hasten as much as possible. Others are ailing and much require that rest which can only be obtained at home.' (F. Darwin 1912, p. 548). Francis Darwin observes that the most interesting point about this report `is Captain FitzRoy's statement about the poor state of Darwin's health. I was quite unprepared for such a statement, and it seems probable that it was the beginning of the general breakdown in health which began so soon after his return to England.' (ibid). But CD's letters of this date make no mention of ill health and his twelve-day journey into the interior immediately before does not suggest any serious illness. One morning during the journey he did not feel well and `thought it more prudent not to set out' (`Beagle' diary, p. 385), but he soon recovered. It is likely that FitzRoy was referring to CD's recurrent seasickness, as, a few days later (on 3 February 1836), he wrote: `My messmate Mr. Darwin is now pretty well; but he is a martyr to confinement and sea-sickness when under way' (F. Darwin 1912, p. 548).
- f3 294.f3The watercolours are listed in Keynes 1979 as No. 193 `Banks of Santa Cruz River' (owned by Mrs R. G. Barnet) and No. 150 `Beagle in Beagle Channel' (owned by George Pember Darwin). For excellent reproductions of Conrad Martens's watercolours of the voyage see Stanbury 1977 and Keynes 1979.