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interested me much. I did not think that I could have venerated him more than I did ; but your book has even exalted his character in my eyes. From turning over the pages of the latter half, I should think your account would be invaluable to any clergyman who wished to follow poor dear Henslow's noble example. What an admirable man he was.”
The geological work mentioned in the quotation from my father's pocket-book was doubtless of importance as giving him some practical experience, and perhaps of more importance in helping to give him some confidence in himself. In July of the same year, 1831, he was working like a tiger at Geology, and trying to make a map of Shropshire, but not finding it “as easy as I expected."
In writing to Henslow about the same time, he gives some account of his work :
“I should have written to you some time ago, only I was determined to wait for the clinometer, and I am very glad to say I think it will answer admirably. I put all the tables in my bedroom at every conceivable angle and direction. I will venture to say I have measured them as accurately as any geologist going could do .... I have been working at so many things that I have not got on much with geology. I suspect the first expedition I take, clinometer and hammer in hand, will send me back very little wiser and a good deal more puzzled than when I started. As yet I have only indulged in hypotheses, but they are such powerful ones that I suppose, if they were put into action for but one day, the world would come to an end."
He was evidently most keen to get to work with Sedgwick, for he wrote to Henslow: “I have not heard from Professor Sedgwick, so I am afraid he will not pay the Severn formations a visit. I hope and trust you did your best to urge bim.”
My father has given in his Recollections some account of this Tour.
There too we read of the projected excursion to the Ca
naries, of which slight mention occurs in letters to Fox and Henslow.
In April 1831 he writes to Fox: "At present I talk, think, and dream of a scheme I have almost hatched of going to the Canary Islands. I have long had a wish of seeing tropical scenery and vegetation, and, according to Humboldt, Teneriffe is a very pretty specimen." And again in May: "As for my Canary scheme, it is rash of you to ask questions ; my other friends most sincerely wish me there, I plague them so with talking about tropical scenery, &c. Eyton will go next summer, and I am learning Spanish.”
Later on in the summer the scheme took more deünite form, and the date seems to have been fixed for June, 1832. He got information in London about passage-money, and in July was working at Spanish and calling Fox "un grandísimo lebron," in proof of his knowledge of the language; which, however, he found "intensely stupid.” But even then he seems to have had some doubts about his companions' zeal, for he writes to Henslow (July 27, 1831): “I hope you continue to fan your Canary ardour. I read and re-read Humboldt; do you do the same? I am sure nothing will prevent us seeing the Great Dragon Tree."
Geological work and Teneriffe dreams carried him through the summer, till on returning from Barmouth for the sacred ist of September, he received the offer of appointment as Naturalist to the Beagle.
The following extract from the pocket-book will be a help in reading the letters :
“Returned to Shrewsbury at end of August. Refused offer of voyage.
“ September.-Went to Maer, returned with Uncle Jos, to Shrewsbury, thence to Cambridge, London,
“uth.Went with Captain Fitz-Roy in steamer to Plymouth to see the Beagle.
“ 22nd.-Returned to Shrewsbury, passing through Cambridge.
“October 2nd.—Took leave of my heme. Stayed in London.
October and November. These months very miserable. “ December 10th.-Sailed, but were obliged to put back. "21st.-Put to sea again, and were driven back. “ 27th.-Sailed from England on our Circumnavigation.”
George Peacock* to J. S. Henslow.
(1831.) MY DEAR HENSLOW,
Captain Fitz-Roy is going out to survey the southern coast of Tierra del Fuego, and afterwards to visit many of the South Sea Islands, and to return by the Indian Archipelago. The vessel is fitted out expressly for scientific purposes, combined with the survey ; it will furnish, therefore, a rare opportunity for a naturalist, and it would be a great misfortune that it should be lost.
An offer has been made to me to recommend a proper person to go out as a naturalist with this expedition; he will be treated with every consideration. The Captain is a young man of very pleasing manners (a nephew of the Duke of Grafton), of great zeal in his profession, and who is very highly spoken of; if Leonard Jenyns could go, what treasures he might bring home with him, as the ship would be placed at his disposal whenever his inquiries made it necessary or desirable. In the absence of so accomplished a naturalist, is there any person whom you could strongly recommend ? he must be such a person as would do credit to our recommendation. Do think of this subject, it would be a serious loss to the cause of natural science if this fine opportunity was lost.
* Formerly Dean of Ely, and Lowndean Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge.
The ship sails about the end of September.
J. S. Henslow to C. Darwin.
Cambridge, August 24, 1831. MY DEAR DARWIN,
Before I enter upon the immediate business of this letter, let us condole together upon the loss of our inestimable friend poor Ramsay, of whose death you have undoubtedly heard long before this.
I will not now dwell upon this painful subject, as I shall hope to see you shortly, fully expecting that you will eagerly catch at the offer which is likely to be made you of a trip to Tierra del Fuego, and home by the East Indies. I have been asked by Peacock, who will read and forward this to you from London, to recommend him a Naturalist as companion to Captain Fitz-Roy, employed by Government to survey the southern extremity of America. I have stated that I consider you to be the best qualified person I know of who is likely to undertake such a situation. I state this not in the supposition of your being a finished naturalist, but as amply qualified for collecting, observing, and noting, anything worthy to be noted in Natural History. Peacock has the appointment at his disposal, and if he cannot find a man willing to take the office, the opportunity will probably be lost. Captain FitzRoy wants a man (I understand) more as a companion than a mere collector, and would not take any one, however good a naturalist, who was not recommended to him likewise as a gentleman. Particulars of salary, &c., I know nothing. The voyage is to last two years, and if you take plenty of books with you, anything you please may be done. You will have ample opportunities at command. In short, I suppose there
never was a finer chance for a man of zeal and spirit; Captain Fitz-Roy is a young man. What I wish you to do is instantly to come and consult with Peacock (at No. 7 Suffolk Street, Pall Mall East, or else at the University Club), and learn further particulars. Don't put on any modest doubts or fears about your disqualifications, for I assure you I think you are the very man they are in search of; so conceive yourself to be tapped on the shoulder by your bum-bailiff and affectionate friend,
J. S. HENSLOW
The expedition is to sail on 25th September (at earliest), so there is no time to be lost.
G. Peacock to C. Darwin.
[1831.) MY DEAR SIR,
I received Herslow's letter last night too late to forward it to you by the post; a circumstance which I do not regret, as it has given me an opportunity of seeing Captain Beaufort at the Admiralty (the Hydrographer), and of stating to him the offer which I have to make to you. He entirely approves of it, and you may consider the situation as at your absolute disposal. I trust that you will accept it, as it is an opportunity which should not be lost, and I look forward with great interest to the benefit which our collections of Natural History may receive from your labors.
The circumstances are these ;
Captain Fitz-Roy (a nephew of the Duke of Grafton) sails at the end of September, in a ship to survey, in the first instance, the South Coast of Tierra del Fuego, afterwards to visit the South Sea Islands, and to return by the Indian Archipelago to England. The expedition is entirely for scientific purposes, and the ship will generally wait your leisure for researches in Natural History, &c. Captain Fitz-Roy is a public-spirited and zealous oficer, of delightful manners, and greatly beloved by all his brother officers. He went with