skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. S. Henslow   30 [October 1831]

4 Clarence Baths | Devonport


My dear Henslow

Your letter has filled me with consternation.— I never knew anything so stupid as my making such a mistake.— I have lost your letter, but I have no doubt you are right.— If I merely trusted to recollection, I should yet think it was 7’12.— But after the little swindling affair with your brother, I will not trust my own self: It is too bad of me to give you so much unnecessary trouble, but perhaps you can find out the prices of the principal things such as paper & binding books, & that will be sufficient to know which of the sums it is.— I can easily through my brother contrive to pay you.— I am very much obliged for your directions about consingment.— I believe most of the things will first go to Falmouth (where I must get an agent), & then to Cambridge.— I will tell my Father that you will send him a note with an account of what you pay for me.—and I do not think you will find him as careless as I am.— I hope to be able to assist the Philosoph. Society when I come back.—but from all I hear, I suppose I shall be in honor bound to give largely to British Museum.— Every thing here goes on very prosperously. My beau ideal of a Captain is determined to make me as comf⁠⟨⁠ort⁠⟩⁠able as he possibly can.— But the corner of the cabin, which is my private property, is most wofully small.— I have just room to turn round & that is all.— My friend the Doctor1 is an ass, but we jog on very amicably: at present he is in great tribulation, whether his cabin shall be painted French Grey or a dead white— I hear little excepting this subject from him.— The gun-room officers are a fine set of fellows, but rather rough, & their conversation is oftentimes so full of slang & sea phrases that it is as unintelligible as Hebrew to me.— Our Cabins are fitted most luxuriously with nothing except Mahogany: in short, every thing is going on as well possible. I only wish they were a little faster.— I am afraid we shall not bonâ fide sail till 20th of next Month.— I want your advice de Mathematicis. After looking at my 11 books of Euclid, & first part of Algebra (including binomial theorem?) I may then begin Trigonometry after which must I begin Spherical? are there any important parts in the 2d & 3d parts of Woods Algebra.— It is almost a shame to ask you, but I should be much obliged if you would write to me pretty soon.— You must be very busy; for if Messrs. Askew2 & Darnell3 have not got some fresh Brains in the vacation, they will give you some trouble:—

What an important Epoch 1831 will be in my life. taking one degree, & starting for Patagonia are each in their respective way memorable events.— And you have been most instrumental in getting them both.— Remember me most kindly to Mrs. Henslow.—Leonard Jenyns & all other friends.— I often think of your good advice of taking all uncomfortable moments as matters of course, & not to be compared with all the lasting & solid advantages:— Indeed I never can do better than when I think of you & your advice

Ever yours my dear Henslow | Most affectionately | Chas. Darwin

You give me your brother direction 12 Clements Inn. Is that right?


Presumably CD refers to Robert McCormick, the Beagle’s surgeon, though not M.D. For a more sympathetic appreciation, see Keevil 1943.
Henry William Askew.
Daniel Darnell.


Keevil, John Joyce. 1943. Robert McCormick, R.N., the stormy petrel of naval medicine. Journal of the Royal Naval Medical Service 29: 36–62.


Hopes to be able to help Cambridge Philosophical Society with his collections, but thinks most will have to go to British Museum.

Describes Beagle quarters, the surgeon [Robert McCormick, M.D.], and officers.

Asks JSH’s advice on studying mathematics.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Stevens Henslow
Sent from
OC 30 ⁠⟨⁠1831⁠⟩⁠
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Henslow letters: 9 DAR/1/1/9)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 144,” accessed on 21 January 2022,

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