To C. T. Whitley [8 May 1838]
36 Great Marlborough St | London
My dear Whitley
I was very glad the other day to receive your letter. Whoever told you I was wrath at you—a married man—not having written before was the grandfather of all liars.1 I much suspect it must have been that arch sinner old Herbert, whose imagination, as well know, was ever powerful at invention.2
You could not have written to a worse man than myself for news; for I live out of nearly all society & see none of our old friends, although I shall ever treasure up recollections of them.— I scarcely ever see even the best of good fellows, old Herbert, as I have my hands so full of work, that I am obliged to economise even minutes. Of course you have heard of J. Cameron marriage, & at his conversion into the best of country parsons!3 I should much like to hear some tidings of Frederic Watkins;4 there never was a man, who made his conceit so loveable. In the midst of this great smoky city I very often catch myself thinking of my country walks at Cambridge with you, and with Watkins and Venables by moonlight.—5
I am the more full of Cambridge ideas, just at this present day, as on Thursday I am going to pay Henslow a visit for a short time.6 I have been plagued with headachs of late & am going to give myself a holiday.—
You ask me about my doings and my plans, which, by the way, you did not set me a very good example in performing by not telling me more what you yourself are about.— I should have liked to have known what branch of the fine arts or of literature is the hobby horse.— I know your feelings about science; they are something like those of my brothers, who, when I was telling him some wonderful facts (as poor Lowe7 would have said) in geology, exclaimed, “Oh be quiet, I don’t care a damn for the whole Kingdom of Nature”.—8
Now for myself,—I am turned a complete scribbler,—I have written a volume of travels, which has been printed some months since but its publication is delayed owing to Capt. FitzRoy not being ready.—9 I am editor to a government work of the Zoology of the voyage, which will run on for about three years.—10 I have got half through a book on geology which will be followed by another, & perhaps by a third!.11
So you will say God help the Public, and in truth in these writing days they need the prayers of all good men.— I often laugh to think that I of all men, should turn a writer of books.— Lastly I am Secretary to the Geologi〈cal〉 Society, which however is not much more 〈than〉 a sinecure.—12 Of the future I know nothing I never look further ahead than two or three Chapters—for my life is now measured by volume, chapters & sheets & has little to do with the sun— As for a wife, that most interesting specimen in the whole series of vertebrate animals, Providence only know whether I shall ever capture one or be able to feed her if caught. All such considerations are hidden far in futurity, but at the end of a distant view, I sometimes see a cottage & some white object like a petticoat, which always drives granite & trap out of my head in the most unphilosophical manner.—
Many thanks for your very kind invitation to pay you a visit after the Newcastle meeting; but I shall not go there:13 when one gets only a months holidays in the year, one cant give it up to flatter & be flattered, which seems the grand object of the British Association. You see I sneer at science to flatter you, therefore am I a worthy brother in the cause.—
I saw a short time since one of the Miss Hollands, who told me some news about you.—14
Good bye | My dear Whitley. | Your sincere friend | Chas. Darwin
Treasures recollections of old friends but seldom sees any. Has turned "a complete scribbler".
His scientific activities.
No wife in sight so far.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 411A,” accessed on 27 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-411A