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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Peacock to J. S. Henslow   [6 or 13 August 1831]1

My dear Henslow

Captain Fitz Roy is going out to survey the southern coast of Terra del Fuego, & afterwards to visit many of the South Sea Islands & to return by the Indian Archipelago: the vessel is fitted out expressly for scientific purposes, combined with the survey,: it will furnish therefore a rare opportunity for a naturalist & it would be a great misfortune that it should be lost:

An offer has been made to me to recommend a proper person to go out as a naturalist with this expedition;2 he will be treated with every consideration; the Captain is a young man of very pleasing manners (a nephew of the Duke of Grafton), of great zeal in his profession & who is very highly spoken of; if Leonard Jenyns could go, what treasures he might bring home with him, as the ship would be placed at his disposal, whenever his enquiries made it necessary or desirable;3 in the absence of so accomplished a naturalist, is there any person whom you could strongly recommend: he must be such a person as would do credit to our recommendation

Do think on this subject: it would be a serious loss to the cause of natural science, if this fine opportunity was lost

The ship sails about the end of Septr.

Poor Ramsay! what a loss to us all & particularly to you

Write immediately & tell me what can be done

Believe me | My dear Henslow | Most truly yours | George Peacock *S 2

7. Suffolk Street | Pall Mall East

My dear Henslow

I wrote this letter on Saturday, but I was too late for the Post: What a glorious opportunity this would be for forming collections for our museums: do write to me immediately & take care that the opportunity is not lost

Believe me | My dear Henslow | Most truly yours | Geo Peacock *S 2

7. Suffolk St. | Monday


Internal evidence shows that this letter was written on a Saturday after Marmaduke Ramsay’s death, which occurred on 31 July 1831. Letters from J. S. Henslow, 24 August 1831 and from George Peacock, [c. 26 August 1831] indicate that there was further correspondence before Henslow’s letter of 24 August.
Peacock, a Fellow of Trinity College and lecturer in mathematics, knew of the plans for the voyage from Francis Beaufort, Hydrographer of the Navy. It is not clear from Peacock’s statement who made the offer to him. It may have been Beaufort rather than Robert FitzRoy. If so, it would explain some of the misunderstanding that arose later about the availability of the post for CD (see letter to Susan Darwin, [5 September 1831]).
In a letter of 1 May 1882 to Francis Darwin (DAR 112: 67–8), Jenyns remembered that he took a day to think over the offer before deciding that he could not leave his parish. He and Henslow then thought of CD.


GP has been asked to recommend a naturalist to sail with Capt. Robert FitzRoy to Tierra del Fuego and the South Sea Islands. If Leonard Jenyns is not available, whom would JSH recommend?

P.S. Urges JHS not to lose this opportunity to have collections made for "our museum".

Letter details

Letter no.
George Peacock
John Stevens Henslow
Sent from
London, Suffolk St, 7
Source of text
DAR 97: B1–3
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 104,” accessed on 22 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 1