To Syms Covington 21 October 1853
Down Bromley, Kent,
October 21, 1853.
I received your letter dated May 25, “53, at Pambala,1 here at Down on Oct. 11, which I think is very quick. I thank you sincerely for writing, as I had for some time been thinking how you were getting on. From what we see in the papers, most of us in England have got an awful idea of the state of things at the diggings.2 Your account of the way the Sunday was kept near the Ovens3 was very pleasant to hear. On the spot you must, of course, judge best, but I should have liked to have heard of your turning up a fine nugget worth some hundred pounds, and that would have repaid you for your long journey, which I traced by your letter on the map. Well, I daresay it was almost worth your while once to have seen the diggings, for it must be a curious spectacle. I should like very much at some future time to hear how you get on, and whether the mining has done you and other residents near Twofold Bay4 good or harm. About half a year ago I had Mr. Septimus Martin, the son of the rector of the adjoining parish,5 dining with me; he has now gone back to Melbourne, and is married. He had formerly been at Twofold Bay, and told me a little about it. I feel a great interest about Australia, and read every book I can get hold of. I lately read a long one by Colonel Mundy.6 I really have no news to tell you of myself; we live a most quiet life. I have not yet finished my second volume on the Barnacles, but hope soon to do so, and begin some other subject. I saw a few weeks ago Captain Fitz Roy; perhaps you heard that a year or two ago he had the great misfortune of losing his wife.7 I am afraid he lost much money by his government of New Zealand.8 I saw also Captain Sulivan,9 who has now half-a-dozen children. Lastly, the only other officer I have heard of, Melleish, has greatly distinguished himself by hard fighting with some Chinese Pirates.10 We are all much afraid of war with Russia, which, pray God, may be prevented.11 You might like to hear that two or three years ago Fuegia12 was heard of by a sealer in the west part of the Straits of Magellan. He13 could still speak some English. With every good wish for yourself and family, pray believe me your faithful friend, | C. DARWIN.
Comments on SC’s trip to the gold diggings. CD is most interested in Australia and reads every book about it that he can find. Sends news of former Beagle shipmates FitzRoy, Sulivan, Mellersh, and of Fuegia [Basket].
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1538,” accessed on 17 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1538