CD's reasons for his reluctance to take the Secretaryship of the Geological Society.
My dear Henslow
Pray do not take fright at the size of this letter: but first for business.—
I have written to the printer to tell him not to send the slips after the post of the
I am much obliged to you for your message about the Secretaryship: I am exceedingly anxious for you to hear my side of the question, &
will you be so kind as afterwards to give me your fair judgment.— The subject
has haunted me all summer. I am unwilling to undertake the office for the following
In the present state of the science a great part of the utility of the little I have
done, would be lost, and all freshness and pleasure quite taken from me. I know from
experience the time required to make abstracts, even of my own papers, for the
Proceedings. If I was secretary & had to make double abstracts of each paper,
studying them before reading, and attendance would at least cost me three days
(& often more) in the fortnight. There are likewise other accidental and
contingent losses of time.— I know D
My last objection, is that I doubt how far my health will stand, the confinement of
what I have to do without any additional work. I merely repeat, that you may know I am
not speaking idly, that when I consulted D
I beg of you to excuse this very long prose all about myself; but the point is one of great interest.— I can neither bear to think myself very selfish and sulky, nor can I see the possibility of my taking the secretaryship with making a sacrifice of all my plans, and a good deal of comfort.— If you see Whewell would you tell him the substance of this letter; or if he will take the trouble, he may read it.— My dear Henslow, I appeal to you in loco parentis,—pray tell me what you think. But do not judge me by the activity of mind, which you and a few others possess, for in that case, the more different things in hand, the pleasanter the work but, though I hope I never shall be idle, such is not the case with me.
Ever, dear H. | Y
- f1 382.f1See letter to William Whewell, [10 March 1837] for CD's response to Whewell's initial letter asking him to become one of the Secretaries of the Geological Society.
- f2 382.f2Zoology.
- f3 382.f3In the event, the three volumes covering the geology of the Beagle voyage were not completed until 1846; nor did CD realise his intention of describing the invertebrate animals he had collected.
- f4 382.f4John Forbes Royle served as Secretary of the Geological Society from February 1837 to February 1838.
- f5 382.f5Probably James Clark, physician in ordinary to Queen Victoria. See Colp 1977 for a full account of CD's ill health and a discussion of the extensive literature on the subject.
- f6 382.f6CD eventually yielded to Whewell's insistence. He was elected one of the two Secretaries of the Geological Society on 16 February 1838 and served until 19 February 1841.