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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Robert FitzRoy   28 October [1846]

Down. Farnborough. Kent.

Oct. 28th.

Dear FitzRoy.

I am extremely much obliged to you for your very kind letter received a fortnight since. It was very goodnatured of you to take the trouble to write at such length and I assure you that it was not thrown away, on me, for I have been deeply interested with your letter; and have read it several times— Some time ago, I got your pamphlet1 and your clear statement gave me the first idea, I had of the connected history of the events at poor New Zealand.—2 What a change then, since, I passed so tranquil an evening and night at Waimata;3 and what a far more disastrous change at Tahiti!4 I most sincerely hope that your present quiet abode will do Mrs. FitzRoy much good,5 pray give our very kind remembrances to her, & that your spirits will recover their wonted “elasticity”—

I am astonished to hear that you have any thoughts of taking a ship,6 considering the sacrifice of leaving your family, but you are an indomitable man— Sulivan, his wife, and two youngest children, were staying here, when your letter came; and he expressed deep interest in hearing news of you he was going on to Hammonds.—7 I saw Stokes, several times in London, whilst writing his book,8 —but I could not ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠

⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ How long you have remembered my speech about the ditch; but you would almost believe it if you had seen me for the last half month daily hard at work in dissecting a little animal about the size of a pin’s head from the Chonos Arch.9 & I could spend another month on it, & daily see some more beautiful structure! ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠10

Farewell, dear Fitz-Roy, I often think of your many acts of kindness to me, and not seldomest on the time, no doubt quite forgotten by you, when, before making Madeira, you came and arranged my hammock with your own hands, and which, as I afterwards heard, brought tears into my father’s eyes.11


CD describes his trip to Waimate in Journal of researches, pp. 507–11; it was his only pleasant memory of New Zealand (p. 514). For FitzRoy’s account of the Beagle’s stay in New Zealand from 21 December to 30 December 1835, see Narrative 2: 564–618.
Both CD and FitzRoy had liked Tahiti and thought it quite civilised in contrast to New Zealand. See Collected papers 1: 19–38. Since 1843, when Tahiti unwillingly became a French protectorate, there had been a succession of bloody battles between the French and local inhabitants (EB).
Mary Henrietta FitzRoy had been dangerously ill following the birth of her fourth child in New Zealand (Mellersh 1968, pp. 222, 270).
FitzRoy was never given command of another vessel; in 1848 he was appointed superintendent of Woolwich Dockyard and in 1849 he was appointed to conduct the trials of the Arrogant, the navy’s first screw-driven steamship.
Robert Nicholas Hamond served with Bartholomew James Sulivan under FitzRoy in the Thetis and the Beagle. See Correspondence vol. 1, letters to Caroline Darwin, 24 October – 24 November [1832] and 30 March – 12 April 1833.
Arthrobalanus, the cirripede from the Chonos Archipelago later named Cryptophialus minutus (Living Cirripedia (1854): 566–86).
This paragraph is taken from a fragment separate from the page from which the preceding text was transcribed. Francis Darwin identifies the recipient as FitzRoy (LL 1: 349), and the reference to Arthrobalanus fixes the date as October 1846; therefore it is probable that both sections of text are parts of the same letter.
This valedictory paragraph, which Francis Darwin dated ‘1846’ and included in LL 1: 332, probably belongs to this incomplete letter to FitzRoy. The original has not been found.


Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

EB: The Encyclopædia Britannica. A dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information. 11th edition. 29 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1910–11.

FitzRoy, Robert. 1846. Remarks on New Zealand, in February 1846. London.

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Living Cirripedia (1854): A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Balanidæ (or sessile cirripedes); the Verrucidæ, etc. By Charles Darwin. London: Ray Society. 1854.

LL: The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter. Edited by Francis Darwin. 3 vols. London: John Murray. 1887–8.

Mellersh, Harold Edward Leslie. 1968. FitzRoy of the Beagle. London: Rupert Hart-Davis.

Narrative: Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836. [Edited by Robert FitzRoy.] 3 vols. and appendix. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Stokes, John Lort. 1846. Discoveries in Australia. 2 vols. London: T. & W. Boone.


Has read RF’s pamphlet on New Zealand [Remarks on New Zealand (1846)]. Sympathises with his difficulties as Governor.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert FitzRoy
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 144: 120
Physical description
C 2pp inc

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1014,” accessed on 20 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3