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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. S. Henslow   22 July 1834

Cholsey Wallingford

22 July 1834

My dear Darwin,

It is now some months since I received your last letter, with the intention of answering it so soon as I should be able to give you an account of the safe arrival of your cargo of skins &c These were delayed at Dr Armstrongs up to the time of my quitting Cambridge & I have only just heard that he has at length despatched them. He tells me however that every thing is safe, & that he had used the precaution of opening the cases & airing every thing for you— I recommended the fossils to be all sent to Mr Clift at Surgeons’ Hall who has kindly undertaken to repair them & prepare them so that they shall be preserved without injury— Judging from what you sent before I did not hesitate to do this as they will be well worth the carriage to London, & could not possibly be in better hands than Clift’s. I regret that I did not get the sweepings of the granary before I left Cambridge as I fear the delay will spoil most of the seeds which cannot now be sown before next Spring— Pray don’t entirely neglect to dry plants— Those sent are all of the greatest interest— Send minute things, such the little ranunculus, & common weeds & grasses, not to the neglect of flowering shrubs of which you have sent some nice species of Berberry &c.—1 I have not your letter bye me to answer your questions formally but I remember you enquire about a Goniometer— I would not advise you to bother yourself with one— It is an instrument of no use in the field, & of importance only in the hands of an experienced mineralogist in his closet. Phillips’s book2 must be quite as much as you need for the detection of the few ingredients which form rocks— Any that you can’t make out you must describe conditionally & we will set you to rights 10 years hence when you return— Fox & his wife spent a day with us at commencement— He tells me that you are very irate at not having heard from me—which I don’t exactly understand, as I should have thought that you ought to have received two letters at least from me by the time he heard from you— That I have not written so often as I ought I will readily admit for I never do any thing as I ought—but really & truly I have written & I trust that you have had positive proof of it before now. I don’t know that I have much local news to tell you which is likely to be of any interest— You will see by the papers that we have been in various kinds of hot water,3 in which however I am happy to say that I have escaped from scalding my own fingers, though I fear that the result has caused a few burning⁠⟨⁠s⁠⟩⁠ & cuttings among certain members of the University who ought to be abov⁠⟨⁠e⁠⟩⁠ such evils— Your Master,4 I suppose you know, is married, & soon to be a Papa if all prospers— My own family is 3 ♀ +1 ♂, & if you delay your return much longer & I am equally fortunate as I have hitherto been you may be in time to stand Godfather to another.— I am at present rusticating for the Vacation at my living—& enjoy the change from a town to a country life most exceedingly— There are no immediate neighbours & I am not bothered by morning visits— My parish abounds in poor, & small farmers who leave every thing to the parson with-out attempting to assist him— However I am quite satisfied with my visit, the only drawback being the long distance which I have to bring my family—about 100 miles— I shall be very anxious as the time for your return approaches, to hear of you & look forward with the prospect of great satisfaction to the confabs we shall have together— Captn. W. Ramsay is about to start as commander of a Steam frigate for the W. Indies & if I had been a single or an independent man I should certainly have joined him for a few months cruise— How you would have stared to have seen me walking on the Quay at Monte Video.—

With kindest remembrances from all my family & most hearty good wishes from myself believe me ever | Your affectionate friend | J S Henslow


For suggested identifications of these Tierra del Fuego specimens see Darwin and Henslow, p. 89 nn. 2, 3.
Phillips 1816. Henslow’s reference makes it likely that CD had the volume with him on the voyage. Unannotated copies of the third (1823) and fourth (1837) editions are, respectively, in the Darwin Library–Down and the Darwin Library–CUL.
A reference to the controversy over the Dissenter question. See letter from J. M. Herbert, [28 March] 1834, n. 9.
John Graham, Master of Christ’s College.


Phillips, William. 1816. Elementary introduction to the knowledge of mineralogy: including some account of mineral elements and constituents; explanations of terms in common use; brief accounts of minerals, and of the places and circumstances in which they are found. Designed for the use of the student. London.


CD’s cargo is safe; the fossils have been sent to William Clift.

JSH asks for dried plants (those sent were all of greatest interest).

Sends news of Cambridge and mutual friends.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Stevens Henslow
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 204: 125
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 249,” accessed on 16 May 2022,

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