Asks JSH to propose him for Geological Society. His meeting with Sir John Herschel and Andrew Smith at Cape of Good Hope.
My dear Henslow
I am going to ask you to do me a favor. I am very anxious to belong to the Geolog: Society. I do not know, but I suppose, it is necessary to be proposed some time before being balloted for, if such is the case, would you be good enough to take the proper preparatory steps. Professor Sedgwick very kindly offered to propose me, before leaving England: if he should happen to be in London, I daresay he would yet do so.— I have very little to write about.— We have neither seen, done, or heard of anything particular, for a long time past: & indeed if, at present, the wonders of another planet could be displayed before us, I believe we should unanimously exclaim, what a consummate plague. No schoolboys ever sung the half sentimental & half jovial strain of ``dulce domum'' with more fervour, than we all feel inclined to do.— But the whole subject of dulce domum, & the delight of seeing one's friends is most dangerous; it must infallibly make one very prosy or very boisterous— Oh the degree to which I long to be once again living quietly, with not one single novel object near me.— No one can imagine it, till he has been whirled round the world, during five long years, in a ten Gun-Brig.—
I am at present living in a small house (amongst the clouds) in the centre of the
If the weather chooses to permit me, I hope to see a little of the Geology, (so often
partially described) of this Isl
The Beagle proceeds from this place to Ascencion, thence to C. Verds (What miserable places!) to the Azores, to Plymouth & then to Home. That most glorious of all days in my life will not however arrive till the middle of October. Some time in that month, you will see me at Cambridge, when I must directly come to report myself to you, as my first Lord of the Admiralty.— At the C. of Good Hope, we all on board suffered a bitter disappointment in missing nine months' letters, which are chasing us from one side of the globe to the other. I daresay, amongst them there was a letter from you; it is long since I have seen your hand writing, but I shall soon see you yourself, which is far better. As I am your pupil, you are bound to undertake the task of criticizing & scolding me for all the things ill done & not done at all, which I fear I shall need much; but I hope for the best, & I am sure I have a good, if not too easy, task master.—
At the Cape, Capt Fitz Roy, & myself enjoyed a memorable piece of good fortune
in meeting Sir J. Herschel.— We dined at his house & saw him
a few times besides. He was exceedingly good natured, but his manners, at first,
appeared to me, rather awful. He is living in a very comfortable country house,
surrounded by fir & oak trees, which alone, in so open a country, give a most
charming air of seclusion & comfort. He appears to find time for every thing; he
shewed us a pretty garden full of Cape Bulbs of his own collecting; & I
afterwards understood, that every thing was the work of his own hands. What a very nice
person Lady Herschel appears to be,—in short we were quite charmed with every
thing in & about the house.— There are many pleasant people at the
I am very stupid, & I have nothing more to say; the wind is whistling so mournfully over the bleak hills, that I shall go to bed & dream of England.— Good night, My dear Henslow | Yours most truly obliged | & affectionately | Chas. Darwin.—
- f1 304.f1See letter from Adam Sedgwick, 18 September 1831.
- f2 304.f2Sir Thomas Maclear.
- f3 304.f3See Andrew Smith 1838--49 for the zoology of the expedition. Smith's diary has been published in Andrew Smith 1939--40.
- f4 304.f4Levaillant 1790, a popular book of travels in Africa.
- f5 304.f5Andrew Smith left for England in 1837 but did not return to South Africa.