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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. S. Henslow   18 [May 1837]

36 Grt. Marlborough Street


My dear Henslow

I was very glad to receive your letter. I wanted much to hear how you were getting on with your manifold labours.— Indeed I do not wonder you head began to ache; it is almost a wonder you have any head left.— Your account of the Gamblingay expedition was cruelly tempting, but I cannot anyhow leave London.— I wanted to pay my good dear people at Shrewsbury a visit of a few days but I found I could not manage it.— At present I am waiting for the signatures of the Duke of Somerset as President of the Linnæan; of Ld Derby & Whewell, to a statement of the value of my collection; the instant I get this, I shall apply to goverment, for assistance in engraving & to publish the Zoology on some uniform plan.— It is quite ridiculous the time any operation requires, which depends on many people.— Mr Brown has been taking a good deal of interest in my affairs & in a most kind manner. I want therefore to oblige him any way I can.— He was much pleased with the fossil woods & has gone to the expence of having several of them cut & ground.— The clump of trees which were growing vertically are allied to Araucaria, but in some respect resembling yews.—1 Some of the good wise people, till seeing the wood, thought I had mistaken calcareous concretions for silicified trees!— Mr Brown is very curious about the fungi from the beech trees in T. del Fuego.— He has some specimens, but is very curious to see mine, but I do not know whether he wants to describe them: as your hands are so full, would you object to send them to me, & allow Mr Brown to do what he likes with them.— If you particularly care about them, of course do not send them, but otherwise I should be glad to oblige Mr Brown.— I have introduced my imperfect account of them in my journal.—2 so that I should for my own sake be glad of Mr Brown’s inspection soon.

I have been working very steadily, but have only got two thirds through the journal part alone.— I find though I remain daily many hours at work the progress is very slow:—it is an awful thing to say to oneself, every fool and every clever man in England, if he chooses, may make as many illnatured remarks as he likes on this unfortunate sentence.

There is a very remote possibility of my publishing my part before the Captains, in which case it would be out this summer.—3 There are about half a dozen plants, of which if I do not know the names of genus or something about them, I must strike out long passages in my journal.— Will you have the kindness to tell me; a week or ten days before you leave Cambridge; so that those questions which are most indispensible to me; perhaps you would not grudge one day in answering.— This is in case I publish before autumn, otherwise when you return will be soon enough for me.— I have not begun my geology yet!, though indeed I have been far from idle.— I give abstracts in my journal which cost much time.— I am greatly obliged to you, for talking with the Dons about the publication of my geology; the more I see of things the greater difficulty I anticipate on any other method.— Having seen a very great deal of Lyell, who is a most kind friend, I entertain great hopes that my geology will be of service.— I grieve to hear that the London University scheme will not bring you often to London.— But I will pay Cambridge a visit before very long & we will have one more of those goods walks, that I used often to think of at the antipodes, as indeed I now do.—

Eyton is up here and working away famously.—4 He tells me to say that he has bought Freycinets voyage of L’Uranie,5 and that he has 120 folio uncoloured plates and a quarto of letter press with a few pages imperfect at beginning, & he says anyone may have them for three pounds.— I forgot to ask you: if I succeed with government and if afterwards it appears advisable, should you object to publish the botany of the Galapagos in it: as part of the fauna?— I certainly should like, if possible, some part of the botany kept together, where there are materials for any general result.—6

Dont trouble yourself to answer this letter, for every five minutes must be precious to you.— Pray remember me most kindly to Mrs. Henslow. Ever yours most truly | C. Darwin—

Remember me to L. Jenyns.— I daresay he is with you this very day at Gamblingay.— I wish I was: how pleasant a good ramble would be in those nice woods. If you decide to send the fungi, will you send them soon by coach.—


So described by Robert Brown. See Journal and remarks, p. 406, for CD’s description of his extraordinary discovery of the fossilised trees in the Andes at a height of 7,000 feet, and also Correspondence vol. 1, letter to J. S. Henslow, 18 April 1835.
Journal and remarks, pp. 298–9. The fungus was eventually described by Miles Joseph Berkeley in a paper for the Linnean Society (Berkeley 1845). The specimens are preserved in the Botany School, Cambridge.
Although CD’s volume of the Narrative was finished and in print by early 1838, publication was delayed until mid-1839, awaiting FitzRoy’s volumes. As Volume III of the Narrative, it was called Journal and remarks, 1832–36, but it was almost immediately published separately under the title Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by H.M.S. ‘Beagle’, etc.
The Galápagos specimens were not described until 1845, after Henslow had turned CD’s botanical collection over to Joseph Dalton Hooker (see J. D. Hooker 1845). The geographical distribution of the plants is discussed in J. D. Hooker 1846.


Berkeley, Miles Joseph. 1845. On an edible fungus from Tierra del Fuego, and an allied Chilian species. Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 19: 37–43.

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

Freycinet, Louis de. 1824–44. Voyage autour du monde: entrepris par ordre du roi. 8 vols in 10. Plates, 4 vols. Paris: Pillet aîné.

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.


Plans to apply to Government for assistance with publishing Zoology.

Robert Brown has taken an interest in the fossil woods.

CD is at work on his journal. Has not begun his geology yet. Has seen much of Lyell.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Stevens Henslow
Sent from
London, Gt Marlborough St, 36
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Henslow letters: 35 DAR/1/1/35)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 355,” accessed on 6 October 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2