To Charles Thomas Whitley [10 August 1828]1
My dear Whitley
I would have written to you before this only I was aware this letter would be a sort of a “last dying speech & confession before my Lord Judge” & then those black words “infirm of purpose” &c &c sounded so very horribly that I could not summon resolution.—but here goes: I am idle as idle as can be: one of the causes you have hit on, viz irresolution the other is being made fully aware that my noddle is not capacious enough to retain or comprehend Mathematics.—2 Beettle hunting & such things I grieve to say, is my proper sphere and this is so much the worse, as I am entirely aware how splendid & at the same time useful a study it is.— Herbert is a fine example of the good effects of Mathematical studies.3 & even practically I am often surprised to see how frequently they come into play.—
Although my reading is a failure, I like Barmouth very much, I only wish I could spend every summer so pleasantly I see a great deal of Herbert & therefore I need not tell you how much I like him. What a glorious thing it would have been for me, if you had but come here instead of Inverara. I never should have dared to run idle under your eye.4 Lord have mercy on us, even your letter, caused some wonderfully unpleasant feelings about the præcordia.— Barmouth, although a pleasant place to live at, is as you seem to have experienced in Duncan’s5 letter, a woefully bad one to write from. Th〈ere〉fore to use your own words, ta〈ke〉 no〈tice〉 this most unsatisfactory scr〈awl〉 pretends to be nothing but what it really is.— If you condescend to answer this, which God knows is not worthy of an answer, you must direct, to Shrewsbury, as on the 27th I leave this place. Herbert says he intends writing soon to you.—
Believe me my dear Whitley | Yours most sincerely | Charles Darwin
His idle life and the pleasures of Barmouth: "my reading [in mathematics] is a failure"; "Beettle hunting … is my proper sphere".
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 45A,” accessed on 26 October 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-45A