Poor health has made him give up all geological work.
Profits on their volumes [of Narrative] seem absurdly small.
Looks back on Beagle voyage as the most fortunate circumstance in his life.
Finds marriage a great happiness.
12 Upper Gower S
My dear FitzRoy.
I was very glad to receive your long letter— I had been for sometime wishing
to hear of you, but did not like to write as I had nothing to communicate, excepting
about myself, and that is and has been for some time a very dull subject. My health has
been very indifferent during the two last months, and lately it has been rather worse
but now I trust I am getting better.— My stomach as usual has been my
I am not surprised at our never having met in the Street for I do not go to the west
end of the town more than once a week, and I believe I have only seen Hyde Park once
during the two last months— I can readily understand how very inconvenient you
must find it, living at so great a distance as 20 miles, from your weekly
journey's end— I should think you would find a house near Town much
pleasanter; for my own part, I do not think I shall ever venture out even as far as a
suburban cottage.— I saw sometime since, a very short abstract, in one of the
scientific Journals of a paper by M
However others may look back to the Beagles voyage, now that the small disagreeable parts are well nigh forgotten, I think it far the most fortunate circumstance in my life that the chance afforded by your offer of taking a naturalist fell on me— I often have the most vivid and delightful pictures of what I saw on board the Beagle pass before my eyes.— These recollections & what I learnt in Natural History I would not exchange for twice ten thousand a year.
I find as you always prophesied would be the case being married, a very great
happiness. My wife is perfectly well and begs to be kindly remembered to
Believe me | My dear FitzRoy— | Yours very truly,
I fear you will have more trouble in deciphering this scrawl than it is worth.
- f1 555.f1Dated from the reference in the letter to William Darwin's being ‘8 weeks old tomorrow’. William was born on Friday, 27 December 1839. The Thursday on which this letter was written was therefore 20 February 1840, not the 21st, as CD dated it.
- f2 555.f2Later, in December 1840, Maria Edgeworth wrote to her half-sister as follows: ‘You know that he says he was ill in consequence of the sea voyage—that he was never a single day free from sea-suffering. But Dr. Holland tells us that the voyage was not the cause, only the continuance of his suffering—for that before he went to sea he was subject to the same. His stomach rejects food continually; and the least agitation or excitation brings on the sickness directly so that he must be kept as quiet as it is possible and cannot see any body’ (Colvin, ed. 1971, pp. 571–2). Although CD appears to have told Dr Holland that he had suffered from a stomach ailment before the voyage, there is no reference to such illness in any of his surviving letters of the 1820s. Ralph Colp (1977, pp. 5–6) has inferred such an ailment from two letters from family members to CD (see Correspondence vol. 1, letter from E. A. Darwin, [24 February 1825], and letter from Catherine and Susan Darwin, 4 December ) but neither gives clear evidence of serious stomach trouble of the sort frequently mentioned by CD after 1839.
- f3 555.f3Henry Colburn, publisher of the Narrative and Journal of researches.
- f4 555.f4No record of a paper by Whewell that answers this description has been found in the minutes of the Cambridge Philosophical Society. The Report of the 9th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Birmingham in 1839, Transactions of the sections, pp. 11–12 carries an abstract of a response made by Whewell to FitzRoy's doubts about the views expressed in Whewell 1833, but there is no mention of any debt to FitzRoy.
- f5 555.f5Alexander Burns Usborne was Master's Assistant in the Beagle (see Correspondence vol. 1, Appendix III).
- f6 555.f6Sir Charles Adam, one of the Lords of the Admiralty, 1835–41 (DNB).
- f7 555.f7See ‘A biographical sketch of an infant’ (Collected papers 2: 191–200), in which CD records that William smiled when 45 days old.