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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Whitley   23 July 1834


July, 23d. 1834

My dear Whitley

I have long intended writing just to put you in mind that there is a certain hunter of beetles & pounder of rocks, still in existence: Why I have not done so before, I know not; but it will serve me right, if you have quite forgotten me.— It is a very long time, since I have heard any Cambridge news.— I neither know, where you are living or what you are doing.— I saw your name down as one of the indefatigable guardians of the eighteen hundred philosophers.1 I was delighted to see this, for when we last left Cambridge, you were at sad variance with poor science; you seemed to think her a public prostitute working for popularity.— If your opinions are the same as formerly; you would agree most admirably with Capt. FitzRoy, the object of his most devout abhorrence is one of the d— —d scientific Whigs. As Captains of Men of wars are the greatest men going far greater than Kings or Schoolmasters; I am obliged to tell him every thing in my own favor; I have often said, I once had a very good friend an out & out Tory & we managed to get on very well together. But he is very much inclined to doubt if ever I really was so much honored.— At present none of us hear scarcely anything about politicks; this saves a great deal of trouble; for we all stick to our former opinions rather more obstinately than before & can give rather fewer reasons for doing so.—

I do hope you will write to me. (“H.M.S. Beagle, S. American Station” will find me); I should much like to hear in what state you are, both in body & mind.— ¿Quien sabe? as the people say here (& God knows they well may, for they do know little enough) if you are not a married man, & may be nursing, as Miss Austen says, little olive branches, little pledges of mutual affection.— Eheu Eheu, this puts me in mind, of former visions, of glimpses into futurity, where I fancied I saw, retirement, green cottages & white petticoats.— What will become of me hereafter, I know not; I feel, like a ruined man, who does not see or care how to extricate himself.— That this voyage must come to a conclusion, my reason tells me, but otherwise I see no end to it.— It is impossible not bitterly to regret the friends & other sources of pleasure, one leaves behind in England; in place of it, there is much solid enjoyment, some present, but more in anticipation, when the ideas gained during the voyage can be compared to fresh ones. I find in Geology a never failing interest, as ⁠⟨⁠it⁠⟩⁠ has been remarked, it creates the same gran⁠⟨⁠d⁠⟩⁠ ideas respecting this world, which Astronomy do⁠⟨⁠es⁠⟩⁠ for the universe.— We have seen much fine scenery, that of the Tropics in its glory & luxuriance, exceeds even the language of Humboldt to describe. A Persian writer could alone do justice to it, & if he succeded he would in England, be called the “grandfather of all liars”.—

But, I have seen nothing, which more completely astonished me, than the first sight of a Savage; It was a naked Fuegian his long hair blowing about, his face besmeared with paint. There is in their countenances, an expression, which I believe to those who have not seen it, must be inconcevably wild. Standing on a rock he uttered tones & made gesticulations than which, the crys of domestic animals are far more intelligible.

When I return to England, you must take me in hand with respect to the fine arts. I yet recollect there was a man called Raffaelle Sanctus. How delightful it will be once again to see in the FitzWilliam, Titian’s Venus; how much more than delightful to go to some good concert or fine opera. These recollections will not do. I shall not be able tomorrow to pick out the entrails of some small animal, with half my usual gusto.— Pray tell me some news about Cameron, Watkins, Marindin The two Thompsons of Trin:2 Lowe, Heaviside, Matthews Herbert I have heard from: How is Henslow getting on? & all other good friends of dear Cambridge. Often & often do I think over those past hours so many of which have been passed in your company. Such can never return; but their recollection shall never die away.—

God Bless you, My dear Whitley. Believe Me, Your Most | Sincere Friend | Chas. Darwin


A reference to the British Association meeting at Cambridge in 1833. CD has doubled the attendance.


Would welcome hearing Cambridge news. Impossible not to regret friends and pleasures in England, but

has much solid enjoyment and never-failing interest in geology. Tells of his first sight of a savage.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Thomas Whitley
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Australia (MS 4260)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 250,” accessed on 2 March 2024,

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