To Syms Covington1 9 March 1856
Down Bromley, Kent.
March 9, ’56.
I was very glad to get a month or six weeks ago your letter of the 4th of September, with its interesting account of the state of the Colony and your own affairs, which I am most truly glad are so prosperous. You did a wise thing when you became a colonist.2 What a much better prospect you have for your sons, bringing them up as farmers—the happiest and most independent career a man can almost have—compared to what they could have been in this old burthened country, with every soul struggling for subsistence. I have lately been talking a good deal on the subject with Captain Sulivan, who has four boys, and who often seems half-inclined to start for some Colony and make his boys farmers.3 Captain Sulivan, owing to all his practice in the old Beagle (I have heard that our old ship is now a collier),4 was the right hand of the fleet in the Baltic, and had all the difficult work to do in placing the ships in the bombardment of Sweabourg. I heard of a letter from a seaman in the fleet, but not in Captain Sulivan’s ship, who said he was the best sailor in the whole lot, and that if the men could elect their Admiral they would elect him.5 Captain Stokes is married again, to a widow, and will never, I believe, go afloat again.6
I have finished my book on the barnacles (in which you so kindly helped me with the valuable Australian specimens).7 I found out much new and curious about them, and the Royal Soc. gave me their great gold medal8 (quite a nugget, for it weighs 40 sovereigns), chiefly for my discoveries in regard to these shells, which are not perfect shells, but more allied to crabs.9
My health is better, but I have a few bad days almost every fortnight, and cannot walk far or do any hard work. I am now employed on a work on the variation of species, and for this purpose am studying all about our domestic animals and am keeping alive all kinds of domestic pigeons, poultry, ducks. Have you ever noticed any odd breeds of poultry, or pigeons, or ducks, imported from China, or Indian, or Pacific islands? If so, you could not make me a more valuable present than a skin of such. But this, I know, is not at all likely.
My children, thank God, are all well, and one gets, as one grows older, to care more for them than for anything in this world. With every good wish for the health and happiness of yourself and family, believe me, dear Covington, yours sincerely, CHARLES DARWIN.
Thanks SC for his interesting account of the state of the colony. SC was wise to settle there where his sons have much better prospects.
Has finished his book on barnacles . Royal Medal awarded him chiefly for this work.
Asks SC whether he has observed any odd imported breeds of poultry, for his work on variation of species.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1840,” accessed on 25 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1840