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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.


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
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 144,” accessed on 19 April 2024,

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