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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. S. Henslow1   24 August 1831


24 Aug 1831

My dear Darwin,

Before I enter upon the immediate business of this letter, let us condole together upon the loss of our inestimable friend poor Ramsay of whose death you have undoubtedly heard long before this. I will not now dwell upon this painful subject as I shall hope to see you shortly fully expecting that you will eagerly catch at the offer which is likely to be made you of a trip to Terra del Fuego & home by the East Indies— I have been asked by Peacock who will read & forward this to you from London to recommend him a naturalist as companion to Capt Fitzroy employed by Government to survey the S. extremity of America— I have stated that I consider you to be the best qualified person I know of who is likely to undertake such a situation— I state this not on the supposition of yr. being a finished Naturalist, but as amply qualified for collecting, observing, & noting any thing worthy to be noted in Natural History. Peacock has the appointment at his disposal & if he can not find a man willing to take the office, the opportunity will probably be lost— Capt. F. wants a man (I understand) more as a companion than a mere collector & would not take any one however good a Naturalist who was not recommended to him likewise as a gentleman. Particulars of salary &c I know nothing. The Voyage is to last 2 yrs. & if you take plenty of Books with you, any thing you please may be done— You will have ample opportunities at command— In short I suppose there never was a finer chance for a man of zeal & spirit. Capt F. is a young man. What I wish you to do is instantly to come to Town & consult with Peacock (at No. 7 Suffolk Street Pall Mall East or else at the University Club) & learn further particulars. Don’t put on any modest doubts or fears about your disqualifications for I assure you I think you are the very man they are in search of—so conceive yourself to be tapped on the Shoulder by your Bum-Bailiff2 & affecte friend | J. S. Henslow

(Turn over)

The expedn. is to sail on 25 Sept:3 (at earliest) so there is no time to be lost


The cover is addressed to ‘C. Darwin Esqr Shrewsbury To be forwarded or opened, if absent’.
‘the bailiff that is close at the debtor’s back, or that catches him in the rear’ (OED).
Since this date and the reference to Robert FitzRoy’s wanting a companion are details that do not appear in the letter from George Peacock to J. S. Henslow, [6 or 13 August 1831], Henslow must have had at least one additional letter from Peacock.


OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


JSH has been asked by Peacock to recommend a naturalist as companion to Capt. FitzRoy on Beagle voyage. CD the best qualified person; not a finished naturalist but amply qualified for collecting, observing, and noting.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Stevens Henslow
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 97(ser.2):4–5
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 105,” accessed on 18 May 2024,

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