31 August 2007

"I would have taken all risks"

Today in 1831 "Chas." Darwin mailed this letter to J.S. Henslow.

Shrewsbury

Tuesday 30th.—

My dear Sir

Mr. Peacocks letter arrived on Saturday, & I received it late yesterday evening.— As far as my own mind is concerned, I should I think, certainly most gladly have accepted the opportunity, which you so kindly have offered me.— But my Father, although he does not decidedly refuse me, gives such strong advice against going.—that I should not be comfortable, if I did not follow it.— My Fathers objections are these; the unfitting me to settle down as a clergyman.— my little habit of seafaring.— the shortness of the time & the chance of my not suiting Captain Fitzroy.— It is certainly a very serious objection, the very short time for all my preparations, as not only body but mind wants making up for such an undertaking.— But if it had not been for my Father, I would have taken all risks.—

What was the reason, that a Naturalist was not long ago fixed upon?— I am very much obliged for the trouble you have had about it—there certainly could not have been a better opportunity.— I shall come up in October to Cambridge, when I long to have some talk with you.— I will write to Mr. Peacock at Denton, (in Durham?) but his direction is written so badly, that even with the assistance of the Post office, I am not certain about it— Would you therefore be so kind, if you know his or C. Fitzroys direction, would you send one line to the same effect.— My trip with Sedgwick answered most perfectly.— I did not hear of poor Mr. Ramsays loss till a few days before your letter. I have been lucky hitherto, in never losing any person for whom I had any esteem or affection. My Acquaintance, although very short, was sufficient to give me those feelings in a great degree.— I can hardly make myself believe he is no more.— He was the finest character I ever knew.—

Yours most sincerely | my dear Sir. Chas. Darwin

I have written to Mr. Peacock, & I mentioned that I have asked you to send one line in the chance of his not getting my letter.— I have also asked him to communicate with Cap. Fitzroy.— Even if I was to go my Father disliking would take away all energy, & I should want a good stock of that.— Again I must thank you; it adds a little to the heavy, but pleasant load of gratitude which I owe to you.—

Postmark: Shrewsbury AU 3<0> 18<3>1

This and other letters can be found online at the Darwin Correspondence Project.

2 comments:

Michael Barton, FCD said...

The letter shows August 30th...

nunatak said...

Damn. Well, I'm sure he was still agonising over it on the 31st...