To Philip Gidley King 21 February 1854
Down | Farnborough, | Kent.
Feb. 21. 1854.
My dear King
I can hardly tell you how pleased I was, about a week ago, to receive your letter dated the 26th. of October.1 I lead a rather solitary life, & in my walks very often think over old days in the Beagle, & no days rise pleasanter before me, than sitting with you on the Booms, running before the trade wind across the Beagle, & no days rise pleasanter before me, than sitting with you on the Booms, running before the trade wind across the Atlantic. Often & often have I wished to hear a little news of you. How changed we are since those days, you with three childred, & I with seven, of which the oldest is above 14, & will soon be a young man.—2 Your life, in having so much of the managemt of the A. Agricult. Coy. must be almost that of a Gaucho. In very many respects, I envy you; though having, owing to my Father’s long life of professional exertion, a very fair income, yet when I think of the extreme difficulty of finding professions for my five sons, I often think that it would be wise to emigrate.3 But I have neither energy or strength for such an awful undertaking; & really for a quiet settler, the Australian Colonies seem ruined.
I have been much interested by your account of the Gold Companies &c &c. How fortunate it is that Sulivan did not accept the offer to go out made by some one of the many Companies. If I am not mistaken, the Coy. to which you allude, as so very badly managed, is that presided over by Strezlecki,4 & I am very sorry for it, for he is a capital fellow. I sometimes hear news of Australia from Syms Covington (my old servant in the Beagle) who is settled at Twofold Bay, & writes to me every year. He has had an attempt at the diggings, but ended by selling at a large profit a 6-month stock of provisions. I also hear news from our neigbours the Normans; for Mrs. Norman’s sister is Mrs. Macarthur, (Mrs. King’s cousin I fancy)5 I was dining there two or three days ago, & I heard that the Macarthurs complain of the Colony much as your Father does.— I was so sorry not to have seen your Father when last in England;6 but my health was then miserable & I actually did not hear of his having been in England till he had left it. His friend, (when I first saw your Father) poor old Mr. Stokes has lately had a very suffering ending to his life.—7 My health is now much better, but I fear I shall never be strong again;—a walk for instance of 4 miles would quite annihilate me.— I live in the country about 16 miles from London, in a good large house, in a very solitary part of the country: we do not see much company, excepting relations; & I work very steadily at Natural History.—
I have lately published one volume, & am now preparing a second, on Cirripedes or Barnacles.8 They have turned out very curious, & were very little known. I have been at the work so many years that I am wearied of the subject: but there is one single species, which I believe is in your Father’s collection, namely Scalpellum papillosum of King from Patagonia, which I shd. like extremely to examine, if your Father has a duplicate & if he ever looks over his collections & could lay his hands on it.9 The species of this genus present a quite new case in the animal kingdom, & have associated with them minute parasitical beings of the same species; & which I have called Complemental Males.—10
I can tell you hardly any news of our old ship-mates; I saw FitzRoy rather lately, & he looked very well & was very cordial to me. Poor fellow, I fear besides his other misfortunes, he is rather poor; at least he has given up House-keeping.11 Stokes I have not seen or heard of for an age: I tried several times to get him to come down here, but with no success. I hear he is to have the offer of the command of the Northern exploring expedition into the interior.12 I saw Sulivan in the summer, & he was hearty & merry as ever: we went together & saw the grand reviews at Chobham,13 where 10,000 men were encamped.— Talking of soldiers, makes me think what a dreadful misfortune, the near imminence of war is.—14
Farewell my dear Philip King, I shall ever think of our old days of friendship with great pleasure; and I hope that your sons may turn out half as nice Boys as you were when you joined the Beagle, & then any parent might be satisfied.
Your affectionate friend | C. Darwin
Should you ever be inclined to write again, I shd. very much like to hear all about you, & how you pass your days & to what you mean to bring up your sons to.— &c &c &c—
PGK’s letter stirred memories of their old days in the Beagle.
Gives news of his work on cirripedes. Would like to examine Scalpellum papillosum of King from Patagonia if PGK’s father has a duplicate in his collection.
- Letter no.
- Darwin, C. R.
- King, P. G.
- Sent from
- Source of text
- W. B. Gidley King; copy in Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales (FM4/6900, 326–9)
- Physical description
- experiment, scientific observation
- geographical distribution
- queries / requests
- scientific fieldwork/fieldtrips
- specimens / samples
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1554A,” accessed on 27 October 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1554A