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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Anthony Rich   25 August 1881

Chappell Croft, | Heene, Worthing.

Aug. 25. 1881

My dear Mr Darwin

Your letter casts a gleam of sunshine over the murky sky and through the steady rain of this morning, and seems to brighten up the otherwise gloomy prospect of this very gloomy month.— Needless to say that I shall look forward to Septr. 8th. with very great pleasure.1 That, or any time, would be convenient to me, as may best suit yourself; so you can keep it or alter it just as you choose. The “West Worthing Hotel” is the name of the house at which you stayed and I think that you would do well to write and engage apartments beforehand; for the house affords but limited accommodation, and the month of Septr. is here about the fullest of the year, though this is, and has been, a very empty one.2 I could go down and make any enquiries for you if you wished and would let me know. I quite understand what you say about going to the hotel. Indeed, if it would not appear inhospitable to say so, I do feel that you and Mrs. Darwin, would both find yourselves more comfortably there located than in this little monastery—(in the Greek sense of the word).3 Mr & Mrs. Huxley did pay me a visit for a couple of days, and I hope they will do so again. But that is a different thing. He can discourse to a numerous audience, and she has to make herself acquainted with premises which will one day look for her supervision.4 I rather fancy when she was ushered into the room with the great “family bed”, seemingly so unbefitting a bachelor’s cottage, that she had some suspicions as to the reasons for its being there. Why those two pillows—those two washing stands—and that closet with lots of pegs round it so convenient for performing the duties of a wardrobe for hanging dresses without its actual use being apparent—? She could not know that it was furnished for the occasional occupation of my brother or sister with their belongings both of whom were married people.5

An old acquaintance of mine, whose name has been at times in times gone by, before the public, Trelawny,6 has just died at the village of Sompting three miles from this, in his eighty ninth year. He was a remainder from the old days when Shelley & Byron were prominent members of what used to be called the “Satanic School”—7 He went with Byron to Greece, where he was shot by an assassin, at close quarters, and retained the bullet in his body up to the day of his death. (That gives hope for the American President.).8 His body has been taken to Germany for cremation by his own directions; and the ashes are to be sent in an urn to Rome to be placed along side of Shelley’s heart which he deposited there after having snatched it from the funeral pile on the sea shore near Leghorn.—9 I remember reading many years ago a sort of novel called the “Adventures of a younger Son” written by him,10 and in which he was the principal personage; the adventures being chiefly those of two pirates, himself one of them, in the Indian seas, but I suppose those tales are only founded on fact— He had a wonderful constitution; sight and hearing good to the last; would never allow anything to be done for him; always insisted on lighting his own fire; took a cold bath all through last winter; and in moderate weather would empty it himself carrying the water out into the garden to water his plants. I have a Yucca11 on my lawn which he reared and gave to me, but which the south west winds here bother exceedingly— He had many good qualities—some, not altogether so amiable—but he was endowed with a singularly correct judgement of men—and things in the practical conduct of life. No man that I have known could give one sounder advice if asked for an opinion. The only case in which I have found him at fault was, what, I conceive to be a most erroneous estimate of Ld. Beaconsfield,12 whom he persisted in calling “a great man”. Ah! nothing succeeds like success! and it was my lord’s success that overpowered his generally robust mind. He showed greater power of accurate thought in proclaiming, as he used to do, that the “Descent of Man was his bible”. Peace be to his ashes!—

Now I had better release you; for a whole brood of starlings busily exhuming worms from my lawn—suggest to me that you are probably engaged, not to say bored, by publishers, printer’s boys and “copy” to your heart’s content, and I should not wish the Recording Angel to set me down on the debit side of his ledger amongst such nuisances as those—13 Only please to present my very best compliments to Mrs. Darwin and say how much I feel myself indebted to her good nature and yours for the promise of a visit to this part of the world next month— Evviva!14

Very truly yours | Anthony Rich

Footnotes

CD and Emma Darwin visited Rich from 8 to 10 September 1881 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
The West Worthing Hotel, at the east end of Heene Terrace, Worthing, was renamed the Burlington Hotel in 1890 (White 2013); it is about half a mile from Rich’s address.
‘Monastery’ is derived primarily from Latin and French, but Rich alludes to a deeper root in Hellenistic Greek μονάζειν, to live alone (OED).
Thomas Henry Huxley and Henrietta Anne Huxley. Rich bequeathed his house and library to T. H. Huxley (see L. Huxley ed. 1900, 2: 286–7).
Robert Southey applied the name ‘the Satanic school’ to a class of writers headed by George Gordon Noel Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley in his A vision of judgement (Southey 1821, p. xxi).
James Abram Garfield, president of the United States since March 1881, was shot on 2 July but did not die until 19 September (ANB).
Trelawny’s body was cremated in Germany before his ashes were buried in Rome because cremation was not legal in Britain in 1881. The first efficient furnace for reducing corpses to ash had been made in Germany in the 1870s. Trelawny had been one of those who built the pyre on the beach at Livorno to burn Shelley’s corpse in 1822. See Laqueur 2015, pp. 495, 501, 539.
Yucca is a genus of the family Asparagaceae, whose members are native to hot dry climates in the Americas.
CD was in the final stages of correcting the proofs of Earthworms (letter to William Clowes & Sons, 6 August [1881]).
Evviva!: hooray! (Italian).

Bibliography

ANB: American national biography. Edited by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes. 24 vols. and supplement. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1999–2002.

Earthworms: The formation of vegetable mould through the action of worms: with observations on their habits. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1881.

Huxley, Leonard, ed. 1900. Life and letters of Thomas Henry Huxley. 2 vols. London: Macmillan.

Laqueur, Thomas W. 2015. The work of the dead: a cultural history of mortal remains. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.

Southey, Robert. 1821. A vision of judgement. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown.

[Trelawny, Edward John.] 1831. Adventures of a younger son. 3 vols. London: Henry Colburn & Richard Bentley.

White, Sally. 2013. Worthing through time. Electronic edition. Stroud: Amberley Publishing.

Summary

Looks forward to CD’s visit on 8 Sept.

E. J. Trelawney, the friend of Shelley and Byron, has just died in a nearby village.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-13296
From
Anthony Rich
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Worthing
Source of text
DAR 176: 150
Physical description
ALS 8pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13296,” accessed on 28 February 2024, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/?docId=letters/DCP-LETT-13296.xml

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