To Syms Covington 18 May 1
Down Bromley, Kent,
I was glad to get some time ago your letter of the 19th of August,3 and I should have answered some time ago, but my health has been very indifferent of late, owing to my working too hard. I have for some years been preparing a work for publication which I commenced 20 years ago, and for which I sometimes find extracts in your handwriting! This work will be my biggest; it treats on the origin of varieties of our domestic animals and plants, and on the origin of species in a state of nature. I have to discuss every branch of natural history, and the work is beyond my strength and tries me sorely. I have just returned from staying a fortnight at a water-cure establishment, where I bathe thrice a day, and loiter about all day long doing nothing, and for the time it does me wonderful good.4 I suppose you have no such thing as water-cure establishments in Australia; in your fine climate and much out-of-door work such is not required, I suppose.
You say you have eight children; we beat you by one.5 My eldest is between 18 and 19, and is going to Cambridge in October to be educated as a Barrister, for want of a better and honester trade.6 I hope Pambula flourishes; in your last letter you express some fear about the road being turned and trade being thus injured; I hope that this has not happened. I have not seen a soul of an old shipmate, except Captain Fitz Roy, for the last year.7 Captain Sulivan8 lately had the misfortune to lose a child. When you feel inclined I shall be always glad to hear of your progress and well-doing, and with every good wish, I remain, yours very faithfully, | Ch. Darwin.
CD’s health has been poor owing to hard work [on Natural selection]. He has to treat of every branch of natural history, which is beyond his strength.