CD has bought a farm in Lincolnshire. Criticises primogeniture and stamp laws on land purchase.
Announces birth of G. H. Darwin.
Down Bromley Kent.
Friday. 25 July 1845.
My dear Henslow.
Very many thanks for your ten notes, and enclosures: I had seen the Paragraph otherwise
I should have been much interested in the death of (as he styled himself)
“Comte Thierry, King of Nukahiva and Sovereign Chief of New
Zealand” I wonder what has become of his wretched
wife. I sincerely hope that your allotments will succeed; all
that I have read in favour of them sounds most encouraging, and I have never been
convinced by what has been written against them. I have bought a Farm in Lincolnshire
and when I go there this Autumn, I mean to see what I can do in providing any cottage on
my small estate with gardens— It is a hopeless thing to look to but I believe
few things would do this Country more good in future ages than
the destruction of primogeniture,—so as to lessen the difference in land
wealth & make more small freeholders.— How atrociously unjust are the
stamp laws which render it so expensive for the poor man to buy his
Thanks for the slip about the Crag— I am astonished that stones containing 50–60 per cent of Phosphate of Lime are not most valuable.
A fortnight ago we had born a little boy, our fourth child.— He is to be called George; & I believe I have pleasant associations
with that name from formerly playing with your Boy.—
I hope M
Farewell. | C. D.
- f1 895.f1The date is given as it appears on a copy of the letter in the Cambridge University Library (the original has not been found). Francis Darwin in LL 1: 343 n. refers to it as of ‘July 4
th’, but the reference to George Darwin's birth (on 9 July) makes that impossible. It does suggest, however, that the original may have been dated simply ‘Friday’.
- f2 895.f2Charles Philip Hippolytus, Baron (not Comte) de Thierry. The report of his death was false. As ‘Sovereign Chief of New Zealand’ he threatened to take by force land which he claimed to own (see New Zealand encyclopaedia). Robert FitzRoy records that the Beagle's arrival in New Zealand caused alarm because it was mistaken for Thierry's ship (Narrative 2: 567).
- f3 895.f3Henslow had begun a scheme to provide the poor country labourers of his parish with gardens by sub-letting small plots to them. He met with strong opposition from the farm-owners. See Jenyns 1862, pp. 88–92, and Russell-Gebbett 1977, pp. 30–1.
- f4 895.f4‘in future ages’ is interlined in the copyist's hand and was probably also interlined in the original.
- f5 895.f5Stamp duty payable on a conveyance on sale was made up of a sum charged for the deed and a sum calculated upon the value of the property transferred. For a large sale, e.g., CD's farm at Beesby, this would amount to about 1% of the selling price, but for a small sale, a
acre of land for, say, £20–30, it would be nearer 10%. 1 4
- f6 895.f6C. Lyell 1845a.
- f7 895.f7Henslow had discovered beds of phosphate nodules in the Suffolk Crag while on holiday. Analysis showed them to be rich in phosphate of lime, which Henslow pointed out made them a useful source of fertiliser. (Henslow 1845b, Jenyns 1862, pp. 201–2 and Russell-Gebbett 1977, pp. 95–6).
- f8 895.f8CD and Emma's third child, Mary Eleanor, had died in infancy; George was therefore their fourth surviving child.
- f9 895.f9George Henslow.