skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. S. Henslow   28 [September 1831]

My dear Henslow

I have received another parcel of the Phalli from Barmouth.— & another jar of them, which I gathered the day before yesterday in a very damp shady wood: I am more than ever convinced that they are different species.— The Shropshire ones are, whiter more conical & stiffer, than the Barmouth one: the ball more dark coloured & the cap has less jelly, & that not so dark coloured:

They are all preserved in gin & brine owing to the want of more spirit.—

I have sent some of the Leiodes.— Will you be kind enough, when you send my goods to London—you will enclose a piece of brick lapped up in the German fashion.— & mention likewise, what sort of Lens Mr Brown1 recommended.— & lastly do not forget the introductions to Lowe2 & Smith.—3

I heard from Cap Fitzroy yesterday he gives me a week more of respite, & therefore I do not leave this place till the end of this week, & London on the 16th of October.— I wish indeed that time was arrived, for I begin to be very anxious to start.—4 My Father is getting much more reco⁠⟨⁠nci⁠⟩⁠led to the idea, as I knew he would, as soon as he became accustomed to it.—

Believe me dear Henslow | Yours most sincerely | Chas. Darwin

Wednesday 28th.



Robert Brown had made important microscopical observations, among them the discovery of Brownian movement. See Autobiography, pp. 103–4, for CD’s reminiscences of Brown. In a letter of 26 March 1848 to Richard Owen (New York Botanic Garden), CD compares a newly acquired microscope to ‘the one, which I used on board the Beagle & which was recommended to me by R. Brown’. This is almost certainly the Bancks microscope now at Down House (see letter to Susan Darwin, [6 September 1831], n. 1). CD’s is an improved version of Brown’s own instrument, also made by Bancks, which is now on display at the Linnean Society.
Richard Thomas Lowe, then residing at Madeira, was the author of a work on the flora and fauna of that island (Lowe 1833, read 15 November 1830). Stormy seas prevented the Beagle from putting in at Madeira, so CD did not meet Lowe.
During this visit CD went to say farewell to the Wedgwoods at Maer, where his account of the prospective voyage apparently aroused some misgivings. On 29 September, his cousin Hensleigh Wedgwood wrote to his fiancée, Fanny Mackintosh: ‘I wonder Charles is not damped in his ardour for the expedition. He says that Patagonia where they are going first to is the most detestable climate in the world, raining incessantly, & it is one vast peat bog without a tree to be seen. The natives will infallibly eat you if they can get an opportunity. They have got some tame Patagonians that they are going to take back & who promise to give up cannibalising but they do not believe a word of their promises. Then their mode of proceeding will be to anchor close to shore & remain there two or three weeks till they have surveyed all the country about & then go on to another place. It is very enterprising to go in spite of such discouraging accounts.’ (B. and H. Wedgwood 1980, p. 215).


Autobiography: The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809–1882. With original omissions restored. Edited with appendix and notes by Nora Barlow. London: Collins. 1958.

Lowe, Richard Thomas. 1833. Primitiae faunae et florae Maderae et Portus Sancti. [Read 15 November 1830.] Transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 4: 1-70.

Wedgwood, Barbara and Wedgwood, Hensleigh. 1980. The Wedgwood circle, 1730–1897: four generations of a family and their friends. London: Studio Vista.


Has collected [Phalli] in Shropshire and compared them with Barmouth species. Is convinced they are different.

Asks JSH for introductions to R. T. Lowe and Andrew Smith.

Has been given another week’s respite by FitzRoy.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Stevens Henslow
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Henslow letters: 7 DAR/1/1/7)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 138,” accessed on 28 May 2024,

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