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Darwin Correspondence Project

To P. G. King   16 November [1862]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Nov. 16th

My dear King

I was much pleased to get your letter;2 only about a fortnight since I was asking all I could about you, for Wickham, Sulivan & Mellersh came down here; & much I enjoyed seeing these good & true old Beagle friends.3 I wish you had told me a bit more about yourself & family; for the remembrance of old days when we used to sit & talk on the booms of the Beagle, will always to the day of my death make me glad to hear of your happiness & prosperity.— I have no proper carte, but I send a photograph of myself made 3 or 4 years ago by my eldest son (now a partner in a Bank,—this shows how old I am) & which is a good likeness of me.—4 Thanks for your information about sheep; I remember being puzzled about their degeneracy.—5 But to the main purpose of your letter, I grieve to say that my health is so indifferent, I cannot stand seeing at present anyone here. Twice lately I could not resist seeing old friends (once was when Wickham & Co came here) & the excitement made me so ill afterwards, that I have been advised not to do so again.6 I am well enough in the mornings & when I keep quiet. I must write to your Brother to this effect.7

I seldom go to London, which is 16 or 17 miles distant, & so rarely see FitzRoy, but if I do I will not fail to give your message.8

Farewell my old friend, may all prosperity attend you.

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

Do you remember Syms Covington? I had a letter about a year ago from Twofold Bay to say he was dead.—9


The year is established by the relationship to the letter from P. G. King, 16 September 1862. See also n. 3, below.
Like King, Arthur Mellersh, Bartholomew James Sulivan, and John Clements Wickham had been officers on board HMS Beagle during its surveying voyage of 1831–6. Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) records that they visited Down House on 21 October 1862.
King had requested a photograph of CD in his letter of 16 September 1862. William Erasmus Darwin, who became a partner in the Southampton and Hampshire Bank, Southampton in 1861 (see Correspondence vol. 9), had been interested in photography since 1857 (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to W. E. Darwin, [before 11 September 1857] and n. 3). A photograph of CD taken by William in April 1861, is reproduced as the frontispiece to Correspondence vol. 9 (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to Asa Gray, 11 April [1861] and n. 19).
For an account of CD’s illness following the visit of Mellersh, Sullivan, and Wickham, see the letter to John Lubbock, 23 October [1862]. CD also refers to the visit of John Lubbock to Down House on 31 October, following which Emma Darwin recorded in her diary (DAR 242): ‘Ch. attack of sickness in night’.
In his letter to CD of 16 September 1862, King had expressed a wish that his younger brother, John, might visit CD while in England.
Robert FitzRoy was commander of the Beagle during its surveying voyage of 1831–6. See letter from P. G. King, 16 September 1862.
The letter has not been found. Syms Covington became CD’s servant and assistant on the Beagle in 1833. After the voyage, he continued in CD’s service until 1839, when he emigrated to Australia; he died in 1861 (Freeman 1978).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978. Charles Darwin: a companion. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.


J. C. Wickham, B. J. Sulivan, and Arthur Mellersh visited a fortnight ago.

Oldest son [William] now a banker.

Sends photograph.

Health too bad to see anyone at present. Rarely sees FitzRoy.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Philip Gidley King
Sent from
Source of text
Mitchell Library, Sydney (MLMSS 3447/2 Item 3)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3809,” accessed on 30 June 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10