Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

Mr. Herbert gives an amusing account of the musical examinations described by my father in his “Recollections.' Mr. Herbert speaks strongly of his love of music, and adds, “What gave him the greatest delight was some grand symphony or overture of ozart's or Beethoven's, with their full harmonies. On one occasion Herbert remembers “ accompanying him to the afternoon service at King's, when we heard a very beautiful anthem. At the end of one of the parts, which was exceedingly impressive, he turned round to me and said, with a deep sigh, 'How's your backbone ?'”. He often spoke of a feeling of coldness or shivering in his back on hearing beautiful music,

Besides a love of music, he had certainly at this time a love of fine literature ; and Mr. Cameron tells me that he used to read Shakespeare to my father in his rooms at Christ's, who took much pleasure in it. He also speaks of his "great liking for first-class line engravings, especially those of Raphael Morghen and Müller; and he spent hours in the Fitzwilliam Museum in looking over the prints in that collection."

My father's letters to Fox show how sorely oppressed he felt by the reading of an examination : “I am reading very hard, and have spirits for nothing. I actually have not stuck a beetle this term." His despair over mathematics must have been profound, when he expressed a hope that Fox's silence is due to "your being ten fathoms deep in the Mathematics; and if you are, God help you, for so am I, only with this difference, I stick fast in the mud at the bottom, and there I shall remain." Mr. Herbert says : He had, I imagine, no natural turn for mathematics, and he gave up his mathematical reading before he had mastered the first part of Algebra, having had a special quarrel with Surds and the Binomial Theorem."

We get some evidence from his letters to Fox of my father's intention of going into the Church. “I am glad," he writes, * "to hear that you are reading divinity. I should

* March 18, 1829.

[blocks in formation]

like to know what books you are reading, and your opinions about them; you need not be afraid of preaching to me prematurely." Mr. Herbert's sketch shows how doubts arose in my father's mind as to the possibility of his taking Orders. He writes, “We had an earnest conversation about going into Holy Orders; and I remember his asking me, with reference to the question put by the Bishop in the ordination service, 'Do you trust that you are inwardly moved by the Holy Spirit, &c.,' whether I could answer in the affirmative, and on my saying I could not, he said, 'Neither can I, and therefore I cannot take orders.' This conversation appears to have taken place in 1829, and if so, the doubts here expressed must have been quieted, for in May 1830, he speaks of having some thoughts of reading divinity with Henslow.

The greater number of the following letters are addressed by my father to his cousin, William Darwin Fox. Mr. Fox's relationship to my father is shown in the pedigree given in Chapter I. The degree of kinship appears to have remained a problem to my father, as he signs himself in one letter cousin

Their friendship was, in fact, due to their being undergraduates together. My father's letters show clearly enough how genuine the friendship was. In after years, distance, large families, and ill-health on both sides, checked the intercourse ; but a warm feeling of friendship remained. The correspondence was never quite dropped and continued till Mr. Fox's death in 1880. Mr. Fox took orders, and worked as a country clergyman until forced by ill-health to leave his living in Delamere Forest. His love of natural history remained strong, and he became a skilled fancier of many kinds of birds, &c. The index to Animals and Plants,' and my father's later correspondence, show how much help he received from his old College friend. ]

[ocr errors]

!

C. Darwin to J. M. Herbert.

Saturday Evening

(September 14, 1828).* MY DEAR OLD CHERBURY,

I am about to fulfil my promise of writing to you, but I am sorry to add there is a very selfish motive at the bottom. I am going to ask you a great favour, and you cannot imagine how much you will oblige me by procuring some more specimens of some insects which I dare say I can describe. In the first place, I must inform you that I have taken some of the rarest of the British Insects, and their being found near Barmouth, is quite unknown to the Entomological world : I think I shall write and inform some of the crack entomologists.

But now for business. Several more specimens, if you can procure them without much trouble, of the following insects:The violet-black coloured beetle, found on Craig Storm, under stones, also a large smooth black one very like it ; a bluish metallic-coloured dung-beetle, which is very common on the hill-sides; also, if you would be so very kind as to cross the ferry, and you will find a great number under the stones on the waste land of a long, smooth, jet-black beetle (a great many of these); also, in the same situation, a very small pinkish insect, with black spots, with a curved thorax projecting beyond the head; also, upon the marshy land over the ferry, near the sea, under old sea-weed, stones, &c., you will find a small yellowish transparent beetle, with two or four blackish marks on the back. Under these stones there are two sorts, one much darker than the other; the lighter-coloured is that which I want. These last two insects are excessively rare, and you will really extremely oblige me by taking all this trouble pretty soon. Remember me most kindly to

0

* The postmark being Derby seems to show that the letter was written from his cousin, W. D. Fox's house, Osmaston, near Derby.

+ The top of the hill immediately behind Barmouth was called CraigStorm, a hybrid Cambro-English word.

182)]

SHOOTING.

149

Butler, tell him of my success, and I dare say both of you will easily recognise these insects. I hope his caterpillars go on well. I think many of the Chrysalises are well worth keeping. I really am quite ashamed [of] so long a letter all about my own concerns; but do return good for evil, and send me a long account of all your proceedings.

In the first week I killed seventy-five head of game--a very contemptible number—but there are very few birds. I killed, however, a brace of black game. Since then I have been staying at the Fox's, near Derby ; it is a very pleasant house, and the music meeting went off very well. I want to hear how Yates likes his gun, and what use he has made of it.

If the bottle is not large you can buy another for me, and when you pass through Shrewsbury you can leave these treasures, and I hope, if you possibly can, you will stay a day or two with me, as I hope I need not say how glad I shall be to see you again. Fox remarked what deuced good-natured fellows

your friends at Barmouth must be ; and if I did not know that you and Butler were so, I would not think of giving you so much trouble.

Believe me, my dear Herbert,
Yours, most sincerely,

CHARLES DARWIN.
Remember me to all friends.

[In the following January we find him looking forward with pleasure to the beginning of another year of his Cambridge life: he writes to Fox

“I waited till to-day for the chance of a letter, but I will wait no longer. I must most sincerely and cordially congratulate you on having finished all your labours. I think your place a very good one considering by how much you have beaten many men who had the start of you in reading. I do so wish I were now in Cambridge (a very selfish wish, however, as I was not with you in all your troubles and misery), to join in all the glory and happiness, which dangers

[ocr errors]

gone by can give. How we would talk, walk, and entomologise! Sappho should be the best of bitches, and Dash, of dogs : then should be 'peace on earth, good will to men,'which, by the way, I always think the most perfect description of happiness that words can give."]

C. Darwin to IV. D. Fox.

Cambridge, Thursday (February 26, 1829). MY DEAR Fox,

When I arrived here on Tuesday I found to my great grief and surprise, a letter on my table which I had written to you about a fortnight ago, the stupid porter never took the trouble of getting the letter forwarded. I suppose you have been abusing me for a most ungrateful wretch; but I am sure you will pity me now, as nothing is so vexatious as having written a letter in vain.

Last Thursday I left Shrewsbury for London, and stayed there till Tuesday, on which I came down here by the ‘Times.' The first two days I spent entirely with Mr. Hope,* and did little else but talk about and look at insects; his collection is most magnificent, and he himself is the most generous of entomologists; he has given me about 160 new species, and actually often wanted to give me the rarest insects of which he had only two specimens. He made many civil speeches, and hoped you will call on him some time with me, whenever we should happen to be in London. He greatly compliments our exertions in Entomology, and says we have taken a wonderfully great number of good insects. On Sunday I spent the day with Holland, who lent me a horse to ride in the Park with.

On Monday evening I drank tea with Stephens ; t his

* Founder of the Chair of Zoology at Oxford.

+ J. F. Stephens, author of • A Manual of British Coleoptera,' 1839. and other works.

« VorigeDoorgaan »