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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. S. Henslow   [20 September 1837]

36 Great Marlborough St


My dear Henslow

I have not been very well of late with an uncomfortable palpitation of the heart, and my doctors urge me strongly to knock off all work & go and live in the country, for a few weeks.— I believe I must do this: but I am in a puzzle how to go on correcting the press.— If the proof is first sent to me, & then to you, & then to me again at Shrewsbury very much time will be lost; and even as is it, the Printers are always plaguing me, saying they are unable to print the work quickly (which I urgently desire) if I keep so many sheets in type. I cannot tell whether it will be best for the proof to go first to you & thence to me or vice versâ.— In the latter case I lose the advantage of any sweeping criticisms, such as altering the tone of any whole page.— Whilst, on the other hand, if it goes to you first, I fear it must give you more trouble. Could you look over the proof, without troubling yourself with minutiæ, & correcting such as you now do leave me to finish the job.— When you offered to look over my proofs sheets, I had not then experience, & did not know what a troublesome, but goodnatured office you undertook.— I find it most disagreeable work, if I attend to sense, I forget the spelling & vice versâ.— Will you have the goodness to write to me by return of post & tell me what appears best to you.— For I feel I must have a little rest, else I shall break down.— I want also to hear whether you had time to speak to Mr Sp. Rice.1 The slips from Liverpool,2 arrived by the twopenny post last night, but my printers bullied me so, that I was obliged to send a duplicate proof, before I received. Some of your corre⁠⟨⁠ctions⁠⟩⁠ I have been able to put in the revis⁠⟨⁠es.⁠⟩⁠ With respect to quantity of vegetation on plains & forests, I never saw a primeval forest that was not an impenetrable jungle, whereas the plains of S. Africa are open, although no doubt, as you suggest, a plain thickly covered with 8 or 10 ft high would supply in accessible quantity as much as or more than the thickest jungle.— But I suppose you agree in the general fact, that geologists have been hasty in their conclusions.3 I have corrected three or four slips, & sent them direct to the bothering printers. I trust in providence, there were not many errors. I must take my chance, for two or three more, for I hope to leave London (if I can manage it) on Monday, so that there will not be time to send them to you & receive them back. You will find a jump in the next you look over.— Will you tell me about your post; when shall you receive this (sent on Wednesday) & how soon should you be able to forward anything to Shrewsbury? I would not be giving troubles by changing my plans, if I did not feel it was necessary.

My dear Henslow | Ever your’s. C. D.

I have just received a proof which I send in hope it will be back by Saturday. I have kept a duplicate.


This probably had something to do with the Treasury grant for Zoology.
Henslow sent corrected proofs from Liverpool, where he was attending the 1837 British Association meeting.
See Journal and remarks, pp. 98 ff., where CD questions the general assumption that luxuriant vegetation is necessary to support large animals. In Journal of researches 2d ed. (1845) this point is made even more strongly.


Journal of researches 2d ed.: Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. 2d edition, corrected, with additions. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1845.


Doctors have urged him to knock off all work and go to the country. Arranges proof-reading with JSH, while he is at Shrewsbury.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Stevens Henslow
Sent from
London, Gt Marlborough St, 36
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Henslow letters: 40 DAR/1/1/40)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 378,” accessed on 23 June 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2