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succession. The prettiest were gas-pipes with small holes ; they were almost painfully brilliant. I have written so much about the Coronation, that I think you will have no occasion to read the Morning Herald.
For about the first time in my life I find London very pleasant; hurry, bustle, and noise are all in unison with my feelings. And I have plenty to do in spare moments. I work at Astronomy, as I suppose it would astound a sailor if one did not know how to find Latitude and Longitude. I am now going to Captain Fitz-Roy, and will keep [this] letter open till evening for anything that may occur. I will give you one proof of Fitz-Roy being a good officer-all the officers are the same as before ; two-thirds of his crew and [the] eight marines who went before all offered to come again, so the service cannot be so very bad. The Admiralty have just issued orders for a large stock of canister-meat and lemonjuice, &c. &c. I have just returned from spending a long day with Captain Fitz-Roy, driving about in his gig, and shopping. This letter is too late for to-day's post. You may consider it settled that I go. Yet there is room for change if any untoward accident should happen ; this I can see no reason to expect. I feel convinced nothing else will alter my wish of going. I have begun to order things. I have procured a case of good strong pistols and an excellent rifle for £50, there is a saving; a good telescope, with compass, £5, and these are nearly the only expensive instruments I shall want. Captain Fitz-Roy has everything. I never saw so (what I should call, he says not) extravagant a man, as regards himself, but as economical towards me. How he did order things! His fire-arms will cost £400 at least. I found the carpet bag when I arrived all right, and much obliged, I do not think I shall take any arsenic ; shall send partridges to Mr. Yarrell ; much obliged. Ask Edward to bargain with Clemson to make for my gun--two spare hanmers or cocks, two main-springs, two sere-springs, four nipples or plugs—I mean one for each barrel, except nipples, of which there must be two for each, all of excellent quality, and set 1831.)
VISIT TO PLYMOUTH.
about them immediately ; tell Edward to make inquiries about prices. I go on Sunday per packet to Plymouth, shall stay one or two days, then return, and hope to find a letter from you; a few days in London ; then Cambridge, Shrewsbury, London, Plymouth, Madeira, is my route. It is a great bore my writing so much about the Coronation; I could fill another sheet. I have just been with Captain King, FitzRoy's senior officer last expedition ; he thinks that the expedition will suit me. Unasked, he said Fitz-Roy's temper was perfect. He sends his own son with him as midshipman. The key of my microscope was forgotten; it is of no consequence. Love to all.
C. Darwin to W. D. Fox.
(September 19, 1831). MY DEAR Fox,
I returned from my expedition to see the Beagle at Plymouth on Saturday, and found your most welcome letter on my table. It is quite ridiculous what a very long period these last twenty days have appeared to me, certainly much more than as many weeks on ordinary occasions; this will account for my not recollecting how much I told you of my plans.
But on the whole it is a grand and fortunate opportunity; there will be so many things to interest meine scenery and an endless occupation and amusement in the different branches of Natural History; then again navigation and meteorology will amuse me on the voyage, joined to the grand requisite of there being a pleasant set of officers, and, as far as I can judge, this is certain. On the other hand there is very considerable risk to one's life and health, and the leaving for so very long a time so many people whom I dearly love, is oftentimes a feeling so painful that it requires all my resolution to overcome it. But everything is now settled, and before the
20th of October I trust to be on the broad sea. My objection to the vessel is its smallness, which cramps one so for room for packing my own body and all my cases, &c., &c. As to its safety, I hope the Admiralty are the best judges; to a landsman's eye she looks very small. She is a ten-gun threemasted brig, but, I believe, an excellent vessel. So much for my future plans, and now for my present. I go to-night by the mail to Cambridge, and from thence, after settling my affairs, proceed to Shrewsbury (most likely on Friday 23rd, or perhaps before); there I shall stay a few days, and be in London by the ist of October, and start for Plymouth on the gth.
And now for the principal part of my letter. I do not know how to tell you how very kind I feel your offer of coming to see me before I leave England. Indeed I should like it very much ; but I must tell you decidedly that I shall have very little time to spare, and that little time will be almost spoilt by my having so much to think about; and secondly, I can hardly think it worth your while to leave your parish for such a cause. But I shall never forget such generous kindness. Now I know you will act just as you think right; but do not come up for my sake. Any time is the same for me. I think from this letter you will know as much of my plans as I do myself, and will judge accordingly the where and when to write to me. Every now and then I have moments of glorious enthusiasm, when I think of the date and cocoa-trees, the palms and ferns so lofty and beautiful, everything new, everything sublime. And if I live to see years in after life, how grand must such recollections be! Do you know Humboldt? (if you don't, do so directly.) With what intense pleasure he appears always to look back on the days spent in the tropical countries. I hope when you next write to Osmaston, [you will] tell them my scheme, and give them my kindest regards and farewells.
Good-bye, my dear Fox,
C. Darwin to R. Fitz-Roy.
17 Spring Gardens [October 17 ? 1831). DEAR Fitz-Roy,
Very many thanks for your letter; it has made me most comfortable, for it would have been heart-breaking to have left anything quite behind, and I never should have thought of sending things by some other vessel. This letter will, I trust, accompany some talc. I read your letter without attending to the name. But I have now procured some froni Jones, which appears very good, and I will send it this evening by the mail. You will be surprised at not seeing me propria persona instead of my handwriting. But I had just found out that the large steam-packet did not intend to sail on Sunday, and I was picturing to myself a small, dirty cabin, with the proportion of 39-40ths of the passengers very sick, when Mr. Earl came in and told me the Beagle would not sail till the beginning of November. This, of course, settled the point; so that I remain in London one week more. I shall then send heavy goods by steamer and start myself by the coach on Sunday evening.
Have you a good set of mountain barometers ? Several great guns in the scientific world have told me some points in geology to ascertain which entirely depend on their relative height. If you have not a good stock, I will add one more to the list. I ought to be ashamed to trouble you so much, but will you send one line to inform me? I am daily becoming more anxious to be off, and, if I am so, you must be in a perfect fever. What a glorious day the 4th of November will be to me! My second life will then commence, and it shall be as a birthday for the rest of my life.
Believe me, dear Fitz-Roy,
CHAS. DARWIN. Monday.--I hope I have not put you to much inconvenience by ordering the room in readiness.
C. Darwin to J. S. Henslow.
Devonport, November 15, 1831. MY DEAR HENSLOW,
The orders are come down from the Admiralty, and everything is finally settled. We positively sail the last day of this month, and I think before that time the vessel will be ready. She looks most beautiful, even a landsman must admire her. We all think her the most perfect vessel ever turned out of the Dockyard. One thing is certain, no vessel has been fitted out so expensively, and with so much care. Everything that can be made so is of mahogany, and nothing can exceed the neatness and beauty of all the accommodations. The instructions are very general, and leave a great deal to the Captain's discretion and judgment, paying a substantial as well as a verbal compliment to him.
* No vessel ever left England with such a set of Chronometers, viz. twenty-four, all very good ones. In short, everything is well, and I have only now to pray for the sickness to moderate its fierceness, and I shall do very well. Yet I should not call it one of the very best opportunities for natural history that has ever occurred. The absolute want of room is an evil that nothing can surmount, I think L. Jenyns did very wisely in not coming, that is judging from my own feelings, for I am sure if I had left college some few years, or been those years older, I never could have endured it. The officers (excepting the Captain) are like the freshest freshmen, that is in their manners, in everything else widely different. Remember me most kindly to him, and tell him if ever he dreams in the night of palm-trees, he may in the morning comfort himself with the assurance that the voyage would not have suited him.
I am much obliged for your advice, de Mathematicis. I suspect when I am struggling with a triangle, I shall often wish myself in your room, and as for those wicked sulky surds, I do not know what I shall do without you to conjure them.