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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Syms Covington   22 February 1857

Down Bromley, Kent,

February 22, 1857.

Dear Covington,—1

I received a short time since your letter of September 14, and was glad to hear how you were getting on, though the account of your affairs was not quite so prosperous as in some former letters, owing, as I understand, chiefly to the expense of your new house. But with your good sense and steadiness I have great hopes that you will tide over the time of difficulty. You must console yourself with thinking what a position you would be in here with six boys and two girls (which is now exactly my number). I never meet any one who is not perplexed what to do with their children. My eldest boy is almost a young man, and has just got into the head form at the great school of Rugby, and is very steady and good. We think of making him a Barrister, though it is a bad trade.

Captain Sulivan has been very lucky and has got a high place, of £1000 a year, I believe, and has beaten two Admirals and Captain Fitz Roy, who tried for the same place.2 By the way, Captain F. with Mrs. F. are coming to-morrow to lunch with me on their road home from the Marquis of Camden.3 Poor Captain F. has lately lost his only daughter, a beautiful and charming girl of about 16 or 17 years old.4

I lately dined with one of your great Australian potentates, Sir W. Macarthur, and heard a good deal of news of Australia, and drank some admirable Australian wine.5 Yours is a fine country, and your children will see it a very great one. With every good wish for your health and prosperity, I am, dear Covington, yours sincerely, | CH. DARWIN.


Misprinted as ‘Corington’ in the Sydney Mail.
Bartholomew James Sulivan had been appointed the naval officer of the marine department of the Board of Trade in December 1856 (DNB).
George Charles Pratt, whose country residence was the ‘Wildernesse’, near Sevenoaks, Kent.
Robert FitzRoy, at that time chief of the meteorological department of the Board of Trade, had several children by his first wife, Mary Henrietta. He had married Maria Smith in 1854.
William Macarthur had been knighted and made an officer in the Légion d’honneur at the close of the Paris Exhibition of 1855, which he attended as commissioner for New South Wales. A son of John Macarthur, who introduced the vine to Australia, William Macarthur encouraged winemaking, bringing out German vignerons to New South Wales (Aust. dict. biog.).


Aust. dict. biog.: Australian dictionary of biography. Edited by Douglas Pike et al. 14 vols. [Melbourne]: Melbourne University Press. London and New York: Cambridge University Press. 1966–96.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.


Sends news of his family, Sulivan, and FitzRoy.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Syms Covington
Sent from
Source of text
Sydney Mail, 9 August 1884, p. 255

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2056,” accessed on 12 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6