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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Conrad Martens   20 January 1862

St. Leonards. | —Sydney.

Jan 20th./62

To Chas. Darwin Esq., &c— .

Many thanks my old Shipmate for your kind message which I have just recd. by the padre,1

I thought you had quite forgotten that I was in existence, and certainly the man who voluntarily sets himself down in such a place as this has no right to grumble if he f〈inds〉 such to be the case.

As it appears howev〈er〉 you have still two of my sketches hanging up in your room.2 I hope you will not refuse to accept another which I shall have much pleasure in preparing and will send to you by the next mail,3

Your “book of the season” as the reviewers have it, I must own I have not yet read, altho Mr Clarke offered to lend it me, I am afraid of your eloquence, and I don’t want to think I have an origin in common with toads and tadpoles, for if there is anything in human 〈n〉ature that I hate it is a toady, but of course I know nothing of the subject, and they do make such microscopes now a-days— I suppose yours is one of Ross’s very best,4 by the by I got him to make two eyepieces for a reflecting telescope just before he died as I had succeeded in casting and polishing two metals of 6 and 7. feet focus, and so now I shew the good people here the mountains in the moon turned up side down, as of course they ought to be when seen from the antipodes.5

but I must apologize, for I suppose you don’t laugh at nonsense now as you used to do in “Beagle or rather I suppose it does not come in your way.

Well, that was a jolly cruize, and I hope you have been well and happy ever since—and that you may continue so for some time to come is Believe me | the sincere wish | of your old shipmate | Conrad Martens.

PS. | I wonder whether, the Admiral, what is now,6 I should like to send my kind regards, if you should see him, but don’t if you don’t like,— coffee without sugar, you remember.—7


See Correspondence vol. 9, letter to W. B. Clarke, 25 October [1861]. Martens, official artist on HMS Beagle from December 1833 until August 1834, settled in Sydney, Australia in 1835 (R. D. Keynes ed. 1979, pp. 2–3; R. D. Keynes ed. 1988, pp. 207, 263). In 1844, he moved to St Leonard’s, a ‘suburban township to Sydney’ located in the parish of Willoughby (Whitworth ed. 1866; see L. Lindsay 1968, pp. 14–15). Following William Branwhite Clarke’s arrival as incumbent of that parish in 1846, Martens became Clarke’s first church-warden at the new church of St Thomas (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to W. B. Clarke, [August 1861], and Jervis [1945], pp. 19–22).
CD purchased two of Martens’s water-colours in January 1836 when the Beagle visited Sydney. These water-colours are reproduced in R. D. Keynes ed. 1979 as no. 150, ‘The Beagle in Murray Narrow Beagle Channel’ (originally entitled ‘View Ponsonby Sound’), and no. 193, ‘River Santa Cruz’ (ibid., pp. 116, 395, and pp. 201, 397, respectively).
Martens soon afterwards sent CD a water-colour entitled ‘View of Brisbane, 1862’; it is reproduced in Nicholas and Nicholas 1989, p. 128.
The optician and scientific instrument maker, Andrew Ross, was one of the pre-eminent manufacturers of microscopes in Victorian London; he died in 1859 (Turner 1989, p. 154).
Martens, who was a keen amateur astronomer, began constructing a six-inch reflecting telescope in 1860 (L. Lindsay 1968, pp. 13–14).
Robert FitzRoy had been captain of the Beagle during CD’s and Martens’s time with the ship. He was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral in 1857 (DNB).
According to CD’s autobiography, references by the junior officers of the Beagle to how much ‘hot coffee’ had been served out in the morning indicated the state of the captain’s temper (Autobiography, p. 73).


He will send CD one of his sketches to add to the two CD has kept since Beagle days.

Asks for FitzRoy’s address.

Letter details

Letter no.
Martens, Conrad
Darwin, C. R.
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 171.1: 52
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3398,” accessed on 26 February 2017,