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tiles. I have forgotten to mention Mr. Lonsdale, * who gave me a most cordial reception, and with whom I had much most interesting conversation. If I was not much more inclined for geology than the other branches of Natural History, I am sure Mr. Lyell’s and Lonsdale's kindness ought to fix me. You cannot conceive anything more thoroughly good-natured than the heart-and-soul manner in which he put himself in my place and thought what would be best to do. At first he was all for London versus Cambridge, but at last I made him confess that, for some time at least, the latter would be for me much the best. There is not another soul whom I could ask, excepting yourself, to wade through and criticise some of those papers which I have left with you. Mr. Lyell owned that, second to London, there was no place in England so good for a Naturalist as Cambridge. Upon my word I am ashamed of writing so many foolish details; no young lady ever described her first ball with more particularity.”
A few days later he writes more cheerfully : “I became acquainted with Mr. Bell, † who to my surprise expressed a good deal of interest about my crustacea and reptiles, and seems willing to work at them. I also heard that Mr. Broderip would be glad to look over the South American shells, so that things flourish well with me."
About his plants he writes with characteristic openness as to his own ignorance: "You have made me known amongst the botanists, but I felt very foolish when Mr. Don remarked on the beautiful appearance of some plant with an astounding long name, and asked me about its habitation. Some one else seemed quite surprised that I knew nothing about a Carex
* William Lonsdale, b. 1797, d. 1871, was originally in the army, and served at the battles of Salamanca and Waterloo. After the war he left the service and gave himself up to science. He acted as assistant secretary to the Geological Society from 1829–42, when he resigned, owing to ill health.
+ T. Bell, F.R.S., formerly Prof. of Zoology in King's College, London, and sometime secretary to the Royal Society. He afterwards described the repliles for the zoology of the voyage of the Beagle.
from I do not know where, I was at last forced to plead most entire innocence, and that I knew no more about the plants which I had collected than the man in the moon."
As to part of his Geological Collection he was soon able to write: “I [have) disposed of the most important part [of] my collections, by giving ail the fossil bones to the College of Surgeons, casts of them will be distributed, and descriptions published. They are very curious and valuable ; one head belonged to some gnawing animal, but of the size of a Hippopotamus! Another to an ant-eater of the size of a horse!"
It is worth noting that at this time the only extinct mammalia from South America, which had been described, were Mastodon (three species) and Megatherium. The remains of the other extinct Edentata from Sir Woodbine Parish's collection had not been described. My father's specimens included (besides the above-mentioned Toxodon and Scelidotherium) the remains of Mylodon, Glossotherium, another gigantic animal allied to the ant-eater, and Macrauchenia. His discovery of these remains is a matter of interest in itself, but it has a special importance as a point in his own life, since it was the vivid impression produced by excavating them with his own hands * that formed one of the chief starting-points of his speculation on the origin of species. This is shown in the following extract from his Pocket Book for this year (1837): “In July opened first note-book on Transmutation of Species. Had been greatly struck from about the month of previous March on character of South American fossils, and species on Galapagos Archipelago. These facts (especially latter), origin of all my views.”]
* I have often hcard him speak of the despair with which he had to break off the projecting extremity of a huge, partly excavated bone, when the boat waiting for him would wait no longer.
C. Darwin to W. D. Fox.
November 6th (1836).
I have taken a shamefully long time in answering your letter. But the busiest time of the whole voyage has been tranquillity itself to this last month. After paying Henslow a short but very pleasant visit, I came up to town to wait for the Beagle's arrival. At last I have removed all my property from on board, and sent the specimens of Natural History to Cambridge, so that I am now a free man. My London visit has been quite idle as far as Natural History goes, but has been passed in most exciting dissipation amongst the Dons in science. All my affairs, indeed, are most prosperous; I find there are plenty who will undertake the description of whole tribes of animals, of which I know nothing. So that about this day month I hope to set to work tooth and nail at the Geology, which I shall publish by itself.
It is quite ridiculous what an immensely long period it appears to me since landing at Falmouth. The fact is I have talked and laughed enough for years instead of weeks, so [that] my memory is quite confounded with the noise. I am delighted to hear you are turned geologist : when I pay the Isle of Wight a visit, which I am determined shall somehow come to pass, you will be a capital cicerone to the famous line of dislocation. I really suppose there are few parts of the world more interesting to a geologist than your island. Amongst the great scientific men, no one has been nearly so friendly and kind as Lyell. I have seen him several times, and feel inclined to like him much. You cannot imagine how good-naturedly he entered into all my plans. I speak now only of the London men, for Henslow was just like his former self, and therefore a most cordial and affectionate friend. When you pay London a visit I shall be very proud to take you to the Geological Society, for be it known, I was
proposed to be a F.G. S. last Tuesday. It is, however, a great pity that these and the other letters, especially F. R. S., are so very expensive.
I do not scruple to ask you to write to me in a week's time in Shrewsbury, for you are a good letter writer, and if people will have such good characters they must pay the penalty. Good-bye, dear Fox.
[His affairs being thus so far prosperously managed he was able to put into execution his plan of living at Cambridge, where he settled on December roth, 1836. He was at first a guest in the comfortable home of the Henslows, but afterwards, for the sake of undisturbed work, he moved into lodgings. He thus writes to Fox, March 13th, 1837, from London :
"My residence at Cambridge was rather longer than I expected, owing to a job which I determined to finish there, namely, looking over all my geological specimens. Cambridge yet continues a very pleasant, but not half so merry a place as before. To walk through the courts of Christ's College, and not know an inhabitant of a single room, gave one a feeling half melancholy. The only evil I found in Cambridge was its being too pleasant: there was some agreeable party or another every evening, and one cannot say one is engaged with so much inipunity there as in this great city.”
A trilling record of my father's presence in Cambridge occurs in the book kept in Christ's College combination-room, where fines and bets were recorded, the earlier entries giving a curious impression of the after-dinner frame of mind of the fellows. The bets were not allowed to be made in money, but were, like the fines, paid in wine. The bet which my father made and lost is thus recorded :
" Feb. 23, 1837.--Mr. Darwin v. Mr. Baines, that the combination-room measures from the ceiling to the floor more than (x) feet.
1 Bottle paid same day.
“X. B. Mr. Darwin may measure at any part of the room he pleases."
Besides arranging the geological and mineralogical specimens, he had his journal of Researches' to work at, which occupied his evenings at Cambridge. He also read a short paper at the Zoological Society,* and another at the Geological Society,t on the recent elevation of the coast of Chili.
Early in the spring of 1837 (March 6th) he left Cambridge for London, and a week later he was settled in lodgings at 36 Great Marlborough Street; and except for a “short visit to Shrewsbury” in June, he worked on till September, being almost entirely employed on his ' Journal.' He found time, however, for two papers at the Geological Society. I
He writes of his work to Fox (March, 1837):
“In your last letter you urge me to get ready the book. I am now hard at work and give up everything else for it. Our plan is as follows: Captain Fitz-Roy writes two volumes out of the materials collected during the last voyage under Capt. King to Tierra del Fuego, and during our circumnavigation. I am to have the third volume, in which I intend giving a kind of journal of a naturalist, not following, however, always the order of time, but rather the order of position. The habits of animals will occupy a large portion, sketches of the geology, the appearance of the country, and personal details will make the hodge-podge complete. Afterwards I shall write an account of the geology in detail, and draw up some zoological papers. So that I have plenty of work for the next year or two, and till that is finished I will have no holidays."
*" Notes upon Rhea Americana," *Zool. Soc. Proc.' v. 1837, pp. 35,
**Geol. Soc. Proc.'ii. 1838, pp. 446-449.
# “A sketch of the deposits containing extinct mammalia in the neighbourhood of the Plata,” Geol. Soc. Proc.' ii. 1838, pp. 542-544; and “On certain areas of elevation and subsidence in the Pacific and Indian oceans, as deduced from the study of coral formations," "Geol. Soc. Proc.' ii. 1338, pp. 552-554.