To Susan Darwin [9 September 1831]
[17 Spring Gardens]
My dear Susan
I have just received the parcel: I suppose it was not delivered yesterday owing to the Coronation.—1 I am very much obliged to my Father & every body else.— Every thing is done quite right: I suppose by this time you have received my letter written next day—& I hope will send off the things.—
My affairs remain in statu quo.— Cap Beaufort says I am on the books for victuals, & he thinks I shall have no difficulty about my collections when I come home.— But he is too deep a fish for me to make him out.— The only thing that now prevents me finally making up my mind is the want of certainty about S S Islands, although morally I have no doubt we should go there whether or no it is put in the instructions: Cap. Fitz says I do good by plaguing Cap Beaufort: it stirs him up with a long pole.— Cap Fitz. says he is sure he has interest enough—(particularly if this administration is not everlasting: I shall soon turn Tory.!) anyhow even when out to get the ship ordered home by whatever track he likes.— From what Wood says I presume Dukes Grafton & Richmond interest themselves about him.—2 By the way Wood has been of the greatest use to me.—& I am sure his personal introduction of me, inclined Cap Fitzroy to have me.—
To explain things from the very beginning; Cap Fitz first wished to have naturalist & then he seems to have taken a sudden horror of the chances of having somebody he should not like on board the Vessel: he confesses, his letter to Cambridge, was to throw cold water on the scheme.— I dont think we shall quarrell about politics although Wood (as might be expected from a Londonderry) solemnly warned Fitzroy that I was a whig.— Cap Fitz was before Uncle Jos—he said “now your friends will tell you a sea Captain is the greatest brute on the face of the creation; I do not know how to help you in this case, except by hoping you will give me a trial.”— How one does change.— I actually now wish the voyage was longer before we touched Land. I feel my blood run cold at the quantity I have do.— Every body seems ready to assist me. The Zoological want to make me a corresponding member; all this I can construe without crossing the Equator:— But one friend is quite invaluable, viz a Mr Yarrell, a stationer & excellent naturalist: he goes to the shops with me & bullies about prices (not that I yet buy). hang me if I give 60£ for pistols.—
Yesterday all the shops were shut—so that I could do nothing.—& I was child enough to give 1’1 for an excellent seat to see the procession— And it certainly was very well worth seeing.— I was surprised that any quantity of gold could make a long row of people quite glitter.— it was like only what one sees in picture books of Eastern processions.— The King looked very well, & seemed popular: but there was very little enthusiasm so little that I can hardly think there will be a coronation this time 50 years.—
The life Guards pleased me as much as anything: they are quite magnificent & it is beautiful to see them clear a crowd; you think that they must kill a score at least, & apparently they really hurt nobody, but most deucedly frighten them.— Wherever a crowd was so dense that the people were forced off the Causeway: one of these six feet gentleman, on a black horse, rode straight at the place, making his horse rear very high & fall on the thickets spot: you would suppose men were made of spong to see them shrink away.— In the evening there was an illumination, & much grander than the one on the Reform bill.—3 All the principal streets were crowded just like a Race ground.— Carriages generally being 6 abreast, & I will venture to say not going 1 mile an hour.— Duke of Northumberland learnt a lesson last time: for his house was very grand: much more so than the other great nobility: & in much better taste: every window in his house was full of perfectly straight lines of brilliant lights: & from their extreme regularity & number had a beautiful effect.— The paucity of invention was very striking, crowns anchors & W R.s were repeated in endless succession.— The prettiest were gass pipes with small holes, they were almost painfully brilliant.— I have written so much about the Coronation, that I think you will have no occasion to read Morning Herald.— For about the first time in my life I find London very pleasant: hurry, bustle & noise are all in unison with my feelings.— And I have plenty to do in spare moments I work at Astronomy: as I suppose it would astound a sailor if one did not know how to find Lat & Long.—
I am now going to Cap Fitzroy, & will keep letter open till evening for any thing that may occur.— I will give you one proof of Fitzroy being a good officer, all officers are the same as before 2/3 of his crew, & the eight marines, who went before all offered to come again: so the service cannot be so very bad: The admiralty have just issued orders for a large stock of Canister meat & Lemon juice & &c.—
I have just returned from spending a long day with Cap Fitz, driving about in his gig & shopping.— This letter is too late for to days post.— You may consider it settled that I go: yet there is room for change, if any untoward accident should happen: this I can see no reason to expect: I feel convinced nothing else will alter my wish of going.— I have begun to order things. I have procured case of good strong pistols & excellent rifle for 50£: there is a saving: good telescope, with compass 5£, & these are nearly the only expensive instruments I shall want.— Cap Fitz has every thing: I never saw so, (what I should call, he says not) extravagant a man as regard himself, but as economical towards me.— How he did order things. His fire arms will cost 400£ at least:— I found Carpet bag when I arrived; all right & much obliged.— I do not think I shall take any Arsenic: shall send partridges to Mr Yarrell, much obliged: Ask Edward to bargain with Clemson4 to make for my gun: 2 spare hammers or cocks: 2 main spring: 2 sere springs: 4 nipples or plugs: I mean one for each barrell, except nipples of which there must be 2 for each: all of excellent quality & set about them immediately. tell Edward make enquiries about prices
I go on Sunday, per packet to Plymouth, shall stay 1 or 2 days then return, & hope to find letter from you.— few days in London: then Cam, Shrews, London, Plymouth, Madeira, is my route.— It is great bore my writing so much about Coronation. I could fill another sheet.—
I just been with Cap King, Fitzroy senior officer last expedition: he thinks that the expedition will suit me.— Unasked he said Fitzroys temper was perfect: He send his own son5 with him as midshipman
The key of my microscope was forgotten it is of no consequence.
Love to all | Chas. Darwin
Discusses help he is receiving in his preparations for the voyage from William Yarrell and others. He has ordered a case of pistols, a rifle, and a good telescope with compass. It is settled that he will go.
Describes the coronation of William IV.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 122,” accessed on 5 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-122