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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. S. Henslow   9 [September 1831]

17 Spring Gardens

Friday 9th. evening

My dear Sir

You must have thought it very odd my not having written sooner.— I put it off yesterday & the day before owing to the Coronation & not seeing Cap. Fitz Roy & therefore not having anything particular to communicate.— To day I did not come home till too late for the post, having spent it with Cap Fitz going about the town & ordering things.— By this you will perceive it is all settled; that is to say I cannot possibly conceive any cause happening of sufficient weight to alter my determination.— I have ordered pistols & a rifle, both of which by Fitzroys account I shall have plenty of use for.— These really are nearly the only expensive things I shall want: Fitzroy has an immense stock of instruments & books.— viz takes out 5 Simpisometers,1 3 M Barometers.—2 in books all travels, & many natural history books.— He does not appear to care for any expence as far as regards himself, but is very economical with respect to advice to me.— And now for my plans.— On Sunday I go packet to Plymouth stay there a few days: & then London: then Cam. where I shall finally settle things, pay bills &c & home to Shrewsbury: Then London again: Plymouth: Terra del Fuego.— The SS Islands are all but certain. I am on the books for Victuals.— but about my collections, Cap Beaufort said his first impression was, that they ought to be given to British Museum: but I think I convinced of the impropriety of this3 & he finished by saying he thought I should have no difficulty so that I presented them to some public body, as Zoological & Geological &c.—

But I do not think the Admiralty would approve of my sending them to a Country collection, let it be ever so good,—& really I doubt myself, whether it is not more for the advancement of Nat. Hist. that new things should be presented to the largest & most central collection.— But we will talk of all this & many other things when we meet,—which I should think would be early the week after next.— Mr Yarrell has been quite invaluable to me; so very good natured & such very good advice: But 〈the〉y all say Cap. King will be of the greatest use.— The Nor of bottles is greatest puzzle.— Will you see about a iron net for shells.— Remember me most kindly to L Jenyns, & tell him I am to have a parcel to bring for him from Mr Yarrell: Would you enquire from him, in what Edinburgh Journal, there are some papers by Coldstream & Foggo?4 send an answer to this question.— I must have a rain-gauge.— I hope when I return from Plymouth I shall find a letter from you: I received one to day from Prof: Sedgwick, but have not yet had time to read it.— You can have no idea how busy I am all day long.— & owing to my confidence in Cap. Fitzroy I am as happy as a king; if you were here to talk to, I should be a good deal happier.— I hope you will excuse all the trouble I give you, if you were like Liston in Paul Pry5 to say you never would do a good natured thing again, I do not know what I should do.—

Good night my dear Henslow | Yours most sincerely | Chas Darwin

PS. All FitzRoy said about the letter of Peacock evidently from a very enthusiastic man, an elegant way of calling it inaccurate.—

Cary says your Clinometer is ready & he is working at the Camera obscura, it soon will be ready.—

I have just been with Cap King Fitzroy senior officer during last expedition & he has given me much good advice: but I am afraid he must have swept the Coast almost clear.—

I will write again before I come to Cambridge

Keep Syme on colours6 in your mind.—


Sympiesometer, a form of barometer with gas instead of a vacuum in the tube above the liquid.
Mountain barometers.
CD may have come to this view because he had heard that the British Museum left undescribed so many of the specimens deposited there. Captain Phillip Parker King’s botanical specimens from the first voyage were a case in point.
See letter to Susan Darwin, [4 September 1831], n. 6. Susan had apparently failed to locate the articles.
Poole 1825, a popular farce.
Syme 1814. The work contains plates of different tints for identifying the colours of specimens when they are taken by collectors. A copy of the second edition (1821) is in Darwin Library–CUL.


Poole, John. 1825. Paul Pry, a comedy, in three acts. In Duncombe’s edition of the British Theatre, vol. 1. London.

Syme, Patrick. 1814. Werner’s nomenclature of colours, with additions, arranged so as to render it highly useful to the arts and sciences, particularly zoology, botany, chemistry, mineralogy, and morbid anatomy. Annexed to which are examples selected from well- known objects in the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms. Edinburgh.


All is settled – nothing can now alter CD’s determination. Details of plan and arrangements. Beaufort believes CD’s collections should be presented to some public body. CD thinks a large central collection best for natural history. Is busy getting advice and information from Yarrell and Capt. P. P. King for the voyage.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Stevens Henslow
Sent from
London, Spring Gardens, 17
10 SE 1831
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Henslow letters: 5 DAR/1/1/5)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 123,” accessed on 27 November 2020,

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