RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 'Work finished If not marry' [Memorandum on marriage]. (1838) CUL-DAR210.8.1 (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker, checked and edited by John van Wyhe 12.2007. RN2

NOTE: Reproduced with the permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin.

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Darwin, C. R. 'This is the Question Marry Not Marry' [Memorandum on marriage]. (7.1838) CUL-DAR210.8.2


Work finished1

If not marry
Travel. Europe, yes?
America ????
If I travel it must be exclusively geological United States, Mexico Depend upon health & vigour & how far I become Zoological

If I dont travel.— Work at transmission of Species— Microscope simplest forms of life — Geology. ؟oldest formations?? Some experimets — physiological observation on lower animals

B Live in London for where else possible in small house, near Regents Park — keep horse — take Summer tours Collect some specimens some line of Zoolog: Speculations of Geograph. range, & Geological general works. — Systematiz. — Study affinities.

1 These notes record Darwin's speculations about the prospect of marriage and his future life and work. They were written before his engagement and marriage to his cousin Emma Wedgwood in January 1839. The note has been dated to after 7 April 1838 and is written on the three blank pages of a letter from Leonard Horner, 7 April [1838]. Darwin's notes on marriage are transcribed and annotated in Correspondence vol. 2, appendix iv.


Work finished

If marry — means limited, Feel duty to work for money. London life, nothing but Society, no country, no tours, no large Zoolog. Collect, no books. Cambridge Professorship, either Geolog, or Zoolog. — comply with all above requisites — I could not systematiz zoologically so well. — But better than hybernating in country, & where? Better even than near London country house. — I could not indolently take country house & do nothing — Could I live in London like a prisoner? If I were moderately rich, I would live in London, with pretty big house & do as (B), but could I act thus with children & poor? No— Then where live in country near London; better, but great obstacles to science & poverty. Then Cambridge, better, but fish out of water, not being Professor & poverty. Then Cambridge Professorship, — & make best of it, do duty as such & work at spare times — ¶ My destiny will be Camb. Prof. or poor man; outskirts of London, some small Square &c:— & work as well as I can


I have so much more pleasure in direct observation, that I could not go on as Lyell does, correcting & adding up new information to old train & I do not see what line can be followed by man tied down to London.—
In country, experiment & observations on lower animals. — more space —

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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

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