RECORD: Litchfield, Henrietta. nd. 'The way in which my Father got to go with the Beagle'. CUL-DAR262.23.4 (Darwin Online, http://darwin-online.org.uk/)

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker 5.2006 and revised 10.2006. RN1

NOTE: This document has five pages, of which pages 2-5 were numbered by the author in the upper right hand corner. Only the recto of the sheets are used. The text is written in pen.

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


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The way in which my Father got to go with the Beagle
Oct 1873

Capt Fitzroy sent through Capt. Beaufort to "Old Peacocke" of Cambridge to ask if he knew of any energetic young man fit to observe the Nat. Hist of the countries at which they wd touch & to collect specimens - only reserving for himself the task of observing the savages with whom they might come in contact. For this purpose he generously offered to share his cabin if anyone could be found to come. The Govt allowing nothing for such a purpose, but rations of [circuit] grog rum & salt-beef.

Through Peacocke Prof Henslow stated that

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though my Father knew very little he would be fit for the purpose & would be active & zealous. My Father was delighted with the scheme: but he found that the Doctor thought it utterly wild & foolish & that to go would be the ruin of his career. He ended by raging, "Well if you could find one sensible man who thinks it a wise scheme you may go." Seeing how strong was his Father's object disapproval my Father gave it up with many pangs.

This took place just before the 30th Aug on wh. day my F. went over as was his universal custom to Maer alot Mr Wedgwood a place about 20 miles off belonging to his uncle Mr Wedgwood to be ready

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for the 1st Sept. for he was a keen & eager sportsman. Indeed he has told me that he never hardly slept the night before the 1st. When he was at Maer his keen hope was that none of the sons of the family meant to go shooting. in wh. case If they did out of decency he must wait for them, then he knew that they wouldn't be off till 8 ock. When he was going alone orders were given to the gamekeeper over night to throw stones at his window & wake him, cold breakfast was put in the kitchen & he used to creep down with boots in hand & let himself out as soon as it began to be daylight & be off to his shooting.

But to go back to the B When he arrived at Maer he was

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lamenting his fate & happened to repeat his father's last words to Mr Wedgwood. His delight was great on finding that Mr W. was of quite a different opinion & thought that it would be a fine opening for Father. The Doctor had an unbounded respect for Mr Wedgwood so that when he said that he would set off with him in the dog cart next day & go back to Shrewsbury to talk it over with the Doctor my father felt the battle was won. The difficulty of his fathers objections was thus got over, & it was arranged to accept Fitzroy's offer.

My father, however, heard afterwards

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from Fitzroy that he very nearly gave up taking him for an original reason. It appears that he had a great belief in physiognomy & on seeing my F. made up his mind that no man with such a nose could have energy. I believe, however, that his brow saved him.


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