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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Syms Covington   18 May [1858]1

Down Bromley, Kent,

May 18.

Dear Covington,—2

I was glad to get some time ago your letter of the 19th of August,3 and I should have answered some time ago, but my health has been very indifferent of late, owing to my working too hard. I have for some years been preparing a work for publication which I commenced 20 years ago, and for which I sometimes find extracts in your handwriting! This work will be my biggest; it treats on the origin of varieties of our domestic animals and plants, and on the origin of species in a state of nature. I have to discuss every branch of natural history, and the work is beyond my strength and tries me sorely. I have just returned from staying a fortnight at a water-cure establishment, where I bathe thrice a day, and loiter about all day long doing nothing, and for the time it does me wonderful good.4 I suppose you have no such thing as water-cure establishments in Australia; in your fine climate and much out-of-door work such is not required, I suppose.

You say you have eight children; we beat you by one.5 My eldest is between 18 and 19, and is going to Cambridge in October to be educated as a Barrister, for want of a better and honester trade.6 I hope Pambula flourishes; in your last letter you express some fear about the road being turned and trade being thus injured; I hope that this has not happened. I have not seen a soul of an old shipmate, except Captain Fitz Roy, for the last year.7 Captain Sulivan8 lately had the misfortune to lose a child. When you feel inclined I shall be always glad to hear of your progress and well-doing, and with every good wish, I remain, yours very faithfully, | Ch. Darwin.


Dated by CD’s references to having just returned from a ‘water-cure’ establishment (see n. 4, below) and to William Erasmus Darwin going to Cambridge University in October.
Misspelled ‘Corington’ in the Sydney Mail.
The letter has not been found.
CD visited Moor Park hydropathic establishment from 20 April to 4 May 1858 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
CD actually had only eight living children.
William Erasmus Darwin entered Christ’s College, Cambridge in October 1858.
Robert FitzRoy and his wife visited Down House in February 1857 (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to Syms Covington, 22 February 1857).
Bartholomew James Sulivan. Covington had sailed on the Beagle expedition with CD, Sulivan, and FitzRoy.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.


CD’s health has been poor owing to hard work [on Natural selection]. He has to treat of every branch of natural history, which is beyond his strength.

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. 2276,” accessed on 13 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7