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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Thomas Whitley   [9 September 1831]

17 Spring Gardens | London

Friday Evening

My dear Whitley

I daresay you will be surprised when you see the date of this letter, & perhaps you will be more so when you read it contents.—

When I arrived home, after having left Barmouth, I found letters from Peacock & Henslow offering me (from the Admiralty) the priviledge of going in a Kings ship on a surveying voyage round the world.— This I at first refused, owing to my Father not approving of the plan, but since then we have convinced him of the propriety of my going.— Accordingly after many doubts & difficulties I started for Cambridge, & then came on here, where I arrived on Monday.— And I believe now it is all finally settled.— Cap Fitz Roy, my captain, appears an uncommonly agreeable open sort of fellow—whom I liked at first sight: he is uncommonly civil: I am to live with him: the Vessel is very small, but it was his own choice.— It is such capital fun ordering things, to day I ordered a Rifle & 2 pair of pistols; for we shall have plenty of fighting with those d— — Cannibals: It would be something to shoot the King of the Cannibals Islands.—

Our route is Madeira, Canary Islands Rio de Janeiro. 18 months all about S America, chiefly Southern extremity.— South Sea Islands, (some new course) Australia India home.— I shall see a great number of places, as they take out 20 Chronometers to ascertain Longitudes—

Cap Fitzroy is very scientific & seems inclined to assist me to the utmost extent in my line.— I go on Sunday to Plymouth to see the Vessel. She sails 10th of next month.— So that I have not an idle moment.— I shot one partridge on the 1st. devilish dear 3’13’6.1 by 8 oclock I was off.— Remember me most kindly to the Lowes, I should like to hear their observations on my grand tour. tell Lowe Sen2 that my things arrived quite safe, & I am very much obliged for all the trouble he took: There will be a paper published about the Fungus,3 all my conjectures were right.— If any more can be got, & put into gin, & sent to Shrewsbury: it will be capital

I hope you will write to me. I am much obliged for your last note.— If I was see Lowe, I should think he would have a few questions to ask. I hope he will remain pretty easy in his mind.— Again remember me most kindly to the two Lowes I wish them all sorts of good luck, & Believe me dear old Whitley, Yours very truely | Chas Darwin

I saw poor old Herbert in Cam. he is pretty well tired of Cam poor old Fellow.—

Remember me most kindly to Beadon4

I added this postscript to the wrong letter.5 Will you call at the Postoffice6 & desire them to forward to Caernarvon a letter directed Prof: Sedgwick

I am quite ashamed to send such letters I am quite tired of writing.—


The stamp duty on a game certificate. See Munsche 1981, p. 181.
Henry Porter Lowe was at Barmouth in August 1831 with his younger brother, Robert Lowe. For Robert Lowe’s memories of CD at Barmouth see Martin 1893, 1: 19–20; quoted in Barrett 1974, p. 149.
CD apparently sent the fungi to Henslow (see letter to J. S. Henslow, 28 [September 1831]). A printed announcement of gifts received by the Botanical Museum and Library at Cambridge, dated 25 March 1832, lists ‘Phallus impudicus, var ? … C. Darwin Esq.’ No paper by Henslow has, however, been located.
Refers to deleted passage: ‘The key of microscope was forgotten: never mind it; we soon opened it.—Good bye | Love to all.—| Chas Darwin’ (see letter to Susan Darwin, [9 September 1831]).
The letter is addressed to Whitley at Barmouth Post Office.


Barrett, Paul H. 1974. The Sedgwick–Darwin geologic tour of North Wales. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 118: 146-64.

Martin, Arthur Patchett. 1893. Life and letters of the Right Honourable Robert Lowe, Viscount Sherbrooke. 2 vols. London.

Munsche, P. B. 1981. Gentlemen and poachers: the English game laws 1671–1831. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Mentions letters from Peacock and Henslow; tells of offer of a position on surveying voyage, his initial refusal, and eventual acceptance. Describes FitzRoy and course of voyage.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Thomas Whitley
Sent from
London, Spring Gardens, 17
10 SE 1831 CX
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.3)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 121,” accessed on 18 July 2024,

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