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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Caroline Darwin   12 November [1831]

November 12th.

My dear Caroline,

The tutor’s bill is just as I expected—and I will contrive some plan through Henslow.— Most unfortunately Henslow has just lost his brother, so I do not like at present to trouble him.—1

Everything here is most prosperous; the Beagle now looks something like a ship— They have just painted her and in a weeks time the men will live on board.— No Vessel has ever been fitted at all on so expensive a scale from Plymouth— I get into a fine naval fervour whenever I look at her. I suppose she is as good a ship as art can make her—and if I believe all I hear the Captain is as perfect as nature can make him— It is ridiculous to see how popular he is, ladies can hardly splutter out big enough words to express their big feelings—

I have been going out rather more lately than I wish. I dined yesterday at the Admirals Sir


Dixon2 with Captain FitzRoy—where I met nobody but naval officers, the conversation would have been stupid to a Landsman,—but to me it was very interesting. I breakfasted yesterday with a Mr. Harris3 whom I like more than anybody I have seen.— He has written a great deal on Electricity— This morning I did ditto with Col. H. Smith4 a very clever old Gentleman.— Tomorrow I am going to Lord Morleys, and am going to ride over with Lord Borrington5 to see the granite on Dartmoor.— So that I am quite gay & like the place very much.— I suspect from all I hear the sea-sickness is very much worse than I expected— More than half the naval officers feel uncomfortable at first starting.— I am sure, as soon as sea-sickness is over I shall soon fall into sea habits & like them.— I think I get accustomed to anything soon, and that will be half the battle won.— It is very lucky we did not sail earlier, for if we had started 6 weeks ago, I believe we should not, owing to S. W. Gale, have reached Madeira by this time.—

Tell Susan she need not be alarmed about my forgetting to give directions about writing. I presume Rio Janeiro will be principal place for some time.— I get letters for nothing— I fancy S. America will not detain us more than 18 months— What then nobody seems to know— It is certain that a new continent has been discovered somewhere far South.6 Perhaps we may be sent in search.— I suppose you have received a letter from me since Susan’s date.

Love to my Father & all others. C. Darwin.


George Henslow, second son of John Prentis Henslow, dies on 1 November 1831 (Gentleman’s Magazine (1831), pt 2: QQQQ).
Admiral Sir Manley Dixon.
William Snow Harris, known as ‘Thunder and Lightning Harris’ from his experiments with lightning conductors. For Robert FitzRoy’s report on the efficiency of those installed in the Beagle see Narrative Appendix, p. 298.
John Parker, 1st Earl of Morley, and his son, Edmund Parker, Viscount Boringdon.
Probably a reference to the discovery of land in the Antarctic Circle by John Biscoe, in 1831. Biscoe explored the southern seas for the whaling and sealing interests of the firm of Enderby of London (EB, ‘Polar regions’).


EB: The Encyclopædia Britannica. A dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information. 11th edition. 29 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1910–11.

Narrative: Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836. [Edited by Robert FitzRoy.] 3 vols. and appendix. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.


The outfitting of the Beagle progresses.

CD has been dining out more than he wishes. He has met W. S. Harris of "Electricity" fame.

His fears and hopes about seasickness.

A new continent has been discovered "somewhere far South". "Perhaps we may be sent in search."

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Caroline Sarah (Caroline) Darwin/Caroline Sarah (Caroline) Wedgwood
Sent from
In copyist’s hand: Postmark 1831
Source of text
Physical description
C 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 146,” accessed on 16 May 2022,

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