« VorigeDoorgaan »
C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker.
Down, October 12th, 1849. By the way, one of the pleasantest parts of the British Association was my journey down to Birmingham with Mrs. Sabine, Mrs. Reeve, and the Colonel ; also Col. Sykes and Porter. Mrs. Sabine and myself agreed wonderfully on many points, and in none more sincerely than about you. We spoke about your letters from the Erebus; and she quite agreed with me, that you and the author, * of the description of the cattle hunting in the Falklands, would have made a capital book together! A very nice woman she is, and so is her sharp and sagacious mother. ... Birmingham was very flat compared to Oxford, though I had my wife with me. We saw a good deal of the Lyells and Horners and Robinsons (the President); but the place was dismal, and I was prevented, by being unwell, from going to Warwick, though that, i.e., the party, by all accounts, was wonderfully inferior to Blenheiin, not to say anything of that heavenly day at Dropmore. One gets weary of all the spouting. ...
You ask about my cold-water cure; I am going on very well, and am certainly a little better every month, my nights mend much slower than my days. I have built a douche, and am to go on through all the winter, frost or no frost. My treatment now is lamp five times per week, and shallow bath for five minutes afterwards ; douche daily for five minutes, and dripping sheet daily. The treatment is wonderfully tonic, and I have had more better consecutive days this month than on any previous ones. . . . I am allowed to work now two and a half hours daily, and I find it as much as I can do; for the cold-water cure, together with three short walks, is curiously exhausting; and I am actually forced to go to bed at eight o'clock completely tired. I steadily gain in weight,
* Sir J. Hooker wrote the spirited description of cattle hunting in Sir J. Ross's ‘Voyage of Discovery in the Southern Regions,' 1847, vol. ii., P. 245.
and eat immensely, and am never oppressed with my food. I have lost the involuntary twitching of the muscle, and all the fainting feelings, &c-black spots before eyes, &c. Dr. Gully thinks he shall quite cure me in six or nine months
The greatest bore, which I find in the water-cure, is the having been compelled to give up all reading, except the newspapers; for my daily two and a half hours at the Barnacles is fully as much as I can do of anything which occupies the mind; I am consequently terribly behind in all scientific books. I have of late been at work at mere species describing, which is much more difficult than I expected, and has much the same sort of interest as a puzzle has; but I confess I often feel wearied with the work, and cannot help sometimes asking myself what is the good of spending a week or fortnight in ascertaining that certain just perceptible differences blend together and constitute varieties and not species. As long as I am on anatomy I never feel myself in that disgusting, horrid, cui bono, inquiring, humour. What miserable work, again, it is searching for priority of names. I have just finished two species, which possess seven generic, and twenty-four specific names! My chief comfort is, that the work must be sometime done, and I may as well do it, as any one else.
I have given up my agitation against mihi and nobis ; my paper is too long to send to you, so you must see it, if you care to do so, on your return. By-the-way, you say in
your letter that you care more for my species work than for the Barnacles ; now this is too bad of you, for I declare your decided approval of my plain Barnacle work over theoretic species work, had very great influence in deciding me to go on with the former, and defer my species paper. . .
[The following letter refers to the death of his little daughter, which took place at Malvern on April 24, 1851 :)
Down, April 29th (1851). MY DEAR Fox,–I do not suppose you will have heard of our bitter and cruel loss. Poor dear little Annie, when going on very well at Malvern, was taken with a vomiting attack, which was at first thought of the smallest importance; but it rapidly assumed the form of a low and dreadful fever, which carried her off in ten days. Thank God, she suffered hardly at all, and expired as tranquilly as a little angel. Our only consolation is that she passed a short, though joyous life She was my favourite child; her cordiality, openness, buoyant joyousness and strong affections made her most loveable. Poor dear little soul, Well it is all over.
Down, March 7th (1852). MY DEAR Fox, ---It is indeed an age since we have had any communication, and very glad I was to receive your note. Our long silence occurred to me a few weeks since, and I had then thought of writing, but was idle. I congratulate and condole with you on your tenth child; but please to observe when I have a tenth, send only condolences to me. We have now seven children, all well, thank God, as well as their mother; of these seven, five are boys; and my father used to say that it was certain that a boy gave as much trouble as three girls ; so that bona fide we have seventeen children. It makes me sick whenever I think of professions; all seem hopelessly bad, and as yet I cannot see a ray of light. I should very much like to talk over this (by the way, my three bugbears are Californian and Australian gold, beggaring me by making my money on mortgage worth nothing; the French coming by the Westerham and Sevenoaks roads, and therefore enclosing Down; and thirdly, professions for my boys), and I should like to talk about education, on which you ask me what we are doing. No one can more truly despise the
old stereotyped stupid classical education than I do; but yet I have not had courage to break through the trammels. After many doubts we have just sent our eldest boy to Rugby, where for his age he has been very well placed. . . . I honour, admire, and envy you for educating your boys at home. What on earth shall you do with your boys ? Towards the end of this month we go to see W. at Rugby, and thence for five or six days to Susan * at Shrewsbury; I then return home to look after the babies, and E. goes to F. Wedgwood's of Etruria for a week. Very many thanks for your most kind and large invitation to Delamere, but I fear we can hardiy compass it. I dread going anywhere, on account of my stomach so easily failing under any excitement. I rarely even now go to London ; not that I am at all worse, perhaps rather better, and lead a very comfortable life with my
three hours of daily work, but it is the life of a hermit. My nights are always bad, and that stops my becoming vigourous. You ask about water-cure. I take at intervals of two or three months, five or six weeks of moderately severe treatment, and always with good effect. Do you come here, I pray and beg whenever you can find time; you cannot tell how much pleasure it would give me and E. I have finished the 1st vol. for the Ray Society of Pedunculated Cirripedes, which, as I think you are a member, you will soon get. Read what I describe on the sexes of Ibla and Scalpellum. I am now at work on the Sessile Cirripedes, and am wonderfully tired of my job: a man to be a systematic naturalist ought to work at least eight hours per day. You saw through me, when you said that I must have wished to have seen the effects of the (word illegible] Debacle, for I was saying a week ago to E., that had I been as I was in old days, I would have been certainly off that hour. You ask after Erasmus; he is much as usual, and constantly more or less unwell. Susan * is much better, and very flourishing and happy. Catherine * is at Rome, and has enjoyed it in a degree that is quite astonish
* His sisters.
ing to my old dry bones. And now I think I have told you enough, and more than enough about the house of Darwin; so my dear old friend, farewell. What pleasant times we had in drinking coffee in your rooms at Christ's College, and think of the glories of Crux major.* Ah, in those days there were no professions for sons, no ill-health to fear for them, no Californian gold, no French invasions. How paramount the future is to the present when one is surrounded by chil. dren. My dread is hereditary ill-health. Even death is better for them. My dear Fox, your sincere friend,
C. DARWIN. P.S.-Susan has lately been working in a way which I think truly heroic about the scandalous violation of the Act against children climbing chimneys. We have set up a little Society in Shrewsbury to prosecute those who break the law. It is all Susan's doing. She has had very nice letters from Lord Shaftesbury and the Duke of Sutherland, but the brutal Shropshire squires are as hard as stones to move. The Act out of London seems most commonly violated. It makes one shudder to fancy one of one's own children at seven years old being forced up a chimney—to say nothing of the consequent loathsome disease and ulcerated limbs, and utter moral degradation. If you think strongly on this subject, do make some enquiries; add to your many good works, this other one, and try to stir up the magistrates. There are several people making a stir in different parts of England on this subject. It is not very likely that you would wish for such, but I could send you some essays and information if you so liked, either for yourself or to give away.
C. Darwin to W. D. Fox,
Down (October 24th, 1852). MY DEAR Fox,- I received your long and most welcome letter this morning, and will answer it this evening, as I shall be very busy with an artist, drawing Cirripedia, and much
* The beetle Panagæus crux-major.