From S. H. Haliburton 3 November 1
Bridge House | Richmond | S. W.
My dear Charles Darwin
If I was to try & express to you, the extreme pleasure your letter had given me, to say nothing of the Book that accompanied it, I might be accused of flattery, or “soft Sawder”—2 Still, I may, (& I will) with truth declare that few letters, & few gifts have afforded me the gratification of yours yesterday— To know that I was still remembered by you, after such a lapse of years, is in itself a satisfaction
That remembrance has indeed been reciprocal, & often & often have I lamented that I never had a chance of seeing you— I have made enquiries from various friends of your’s, & have always been told, that even the excitement of meeting an old friend, was usually more than you could bear— Spite of this, I will still indulge the hope of once more shaking hands with one of the best & most valued friends of my youth—
How many sad changes have befallen us both, since we met, & how many of those we most loved, have been taken from us,—to me, especially Life is but a shadow, a remembrance, of happy bygone days—
I have, like you, a most vivid remembrance of the bright old Woodhouse times, in which you stand first & foremost3 I can recall the Beetle, & the Fungus hunting, & above all, the glee with which “Charles Darwin” used to be descried, cantering up to the house, it being a received opinion, that any frowns of the poor governor4 would be at once dispelled, you being always the most influential favourite— I have now in my possession a letter you wrote to me from “Terra del Fuego”, at my particular request, & I can often laugh at your boyish assertion, that the highest pitch of your ambition would be to be favourably alluded to, in Eddowe’s Journal!—5 I think that ambition has been attained, & something more—
I live a very quiet, solitary life, only associating with a few old, & kind friends, my house is pretty enough, actually on Richmond Bridge, with small garden sloping down to the River— My old passion for Animals still continues, but alas, I have no room for Poultry here, I have tried Pigeons, but they & the Cats were incompatible, so my live stock is now reduced to two tiny Maltese dogs, two very large persian Cats, & an old Cockatoo that I have had since 1848— I am certain your book will very much interest & amuse me— When one lives as I do, alone with Animals, their habits & manners become doubly interesting & familiar— My health is but indifferent, I fancy there is something amiss with my heart & the famed “Owen Constitution” is not what it was, in days of Yore. Time, & Sorrow, have much tried me—
You ask after the Family, poor Fanny, as you perhaps know, became a Widow 6 months ago, & now lives in London, with two unmarried daughters—6 Caroline Lister is settled in Yorkshire, Sobie lives alone at Cirencester, Arthur now reigns at poor old Woodhouse, Francis lives on his small property near Overton, & Charles is Chief Constable of Oxfordshire,7 with a Wife & 5 Children— Of your Children, I have from time to time heard, that many of them inherit the Family talents, & I think you have one Daughter married,8 if not more—
When Summer returns, if we live till then, may I look forward to our meeting somehow & somewhere, I often go to London, & would meet you anywhere you might appoint though I must not run the risk of affecting your health—
Once more, thanking you from my heart, for the pleasure you have given me, believe me, always, most truly & affectionately Yours | S. H. Haliburton
Why did you address me so formally?—
Thanks for copy of Expression.
Reminiscences of their youth.