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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Charles Whitley   5 February 1835

College, Durham

Feby. 5th. 1835

My dear Darwin,

At length I have an opportunity of replying to your very welcome letter, & as a single sheet has limits, & those very soon attained I must begin my answer with a systematic account of my own proceedings. I think you were aware of my being a candidate for the office of Mathematical Professor in the University which was projected in this place about the time of your leaving England. Perhaps not,—but we will take that for granted, though you had enough to think of just at that time without plaguing your head about embryo Universities. I did not succeed in my wishes, but on the opening of the University in 1833 a subordinate Chair was created for my accommodation. To this has since been added the Mathematical Tutorship of the sole College erected within this University which with one or two other small offices, for I am a shocking pluralist, causes my pecuniary state to be a very comfortable one (though I am far from rich) even in our infant state. The Mathematical Professor too is dead, & I am looking anxiously forward to succeed him. If such should be my fortune I suppose I shall be planted in Durham for the rest of my days; and from what I can see at present,—& I have been here above a year—I shall have no reason to quarrel with my location. I am not yet married—I wish I were—or even engaged to enter upon that desirable state, but if I get this Professorship I think I shall not be very long in doing so. There is a goodly bevy of damsels round this city out of which a man may choose himself a helpmate. So that perhaps before you come home I may have ‘settled’ & be in a condition to offer you comfortable quarters—a hearty welcome & a warm fireside—which will I am sure be offered to no one more freely, or with a more earnest desire that they should be accepted, than to yourself. And I hope too that my new Alma Mater will by that time be firmly seated, & in the actual enjoyment of all the rights & privileges for which she is now contending. We have already an Act of Parliament, & we hope soon to have a Charter in addition, so that we shall be enabled to confer degrees. Our numbers at present are small enough, sixty undergraduates & six Dons, of whom Peile of Trinity is one. We cultivate the ornamental branches, such as Chemistry &c, a little, but for the encouragement of these there are Lecturers appointed who hold no appointments in the College, & are therefore to be considered as ‘allied powers’ rather than actual members of the Staff. And this may serve to give you some idea of my actual position. My books & prints have been duly transported hither & my household Gods may fairly be considered to have taken up their abode here. I have not been in Cambridge since the Autumn, when I left Heaviside there, flourishing. He is now Tutor of Sidney. I heard the other day from Cameron who is now living in Cambridge—much sobered by severe misfortune. Did you hear that his Father was dead, & in very indifferent circumstances? His Mother is now I believe living with him in a small house in Downing Terrace. He talks of going into orders shortly, if he can get a curacy. Marindin is married & has sold out of the guards. Of Mathew I know nothing. He was not in Cambridge at all during the summer when I was there. Watkins is now in orders & has got the curacy of Clyro in South Wales. It is the living of which Venables’ Father is incumbent. Venables himself is married to a Russian Countess & has got a living in Herefordshire. Watkins seems contented & even happy in his humble occupation. I had a long letter from him the other day containing much rigmarole, some sense, & a great deal of amusement. He would I am sure set ‘great store’ by a letter from you. By the way I am more than half angry with you for not writing to me before. If you are not coming home shortly pray set yourself right again in my good opinion by giving me some further account of yourself—if possible by return of post. You think very often & very much, I daresay, of the friends you have left behind, but if all that your friends say & think of you, collectively, were to be put on the other side, my belief in the force of multiplication convinces me that the balance would be against you. I need not tell you much of Herbert as you have written to, & heard from him. He is still in London & will ere long be called to the bar where, barring laziness, he is very likely to shine. I spent a part of my Christmas Vacation, for Alma Mater Dunelmensis has, like her elder sisters, three Vacations, in Nottinghamshire viz: four days with Tom Butler, to whom as you have doubtless heard the ex-Lord-Chancellor1 gave a living,2 & three with the Lowes whose place of abode is only four miles distant from the said Tom’s Rectory. The first was altogether a pleasant visit, & I need not say to you how pleasant the latter was. If there be any truth in old sayings your ears must have burnt most painfully during the whole time. Henry was unfortunately away, on his travels, but he was previously aware of my intention to visit Bingham & had sent a special request that I would join his brother Robert in writing a letter to him, which I did accordingly, & if it caused as much merriment to him at Bourdeaux as it did to us in the Vale of Belvoir I think his sides must have ached, as mine did, for a week afterwards. I need not of course retail to you any public news. The dismissal of the Whigs, the accession of Sir R. Peel & the Elections are of course to be found in newspapers even in your remote quarter of the world. We are at present a-gape on the subject of Church Reform, for the furthering of which a Royal Commission has just been issued.3 I think myself of going into orders by & by & am therefore personally interested in the subject. And I hope that the integrity of Church property will be preserved. We are concerned also as a body in the distribution of the Church funds of the Diocese, especially of the Chapter, for a slice of which we naturally look. I saw Miss Holland at Newcastle the other day. She like every body else spoke of & enquired after you. You are aware that she has lost her post in Brook Street her brother having married a daughter of Sydney Smith the Reviewer4 some ten months ago, who gave birth to a daughter herself within these last ten days. So the world goes round. Of Henslow I know little, save that the world goes more prosperously with him since he has got a living. There are plenty of new things for you to see & to hear in the way of music & painting. I have made some superb additions to my family of prints, and there are some glorious treasures added to the National Gallery. So let us look forward to intellectual pleasures yet to come. I have no more news for you, except that John Roberts of Barmouth has been drowned at sea in the ‘Wellington’. Luckily for your friend Rhys Jones they had previously quarrelled & John had got another partner, who shared his fate. O. Gore is returned for N. Shropshire vice Cotes—retired.5

God bless you! & send you health & success! | Ever your’s most faithfully | Charles Whitley.


Henry Peter Brougham.
Butler had become Rector of Langar with Barnston, Nottinghamshire (Alum. Cantab.).
The Ecclesiastical Commission appointed by Sir Robert Peel was carried forward by the Whig government, which passed a number of reform acts designed to reduce the privileges and revenues of the Church.
Sydney Smith was one of the founders of the Edinburgh Review in 1802.
William Ormsby-Gore and Sir Rowland Hill, Bart, both Conservatives, were unopposed in the general election of January 1835.


Alum. Cantab.: Alumni Cantabrigienses. A biographical list of all known students, graduates and holders of office at the University of Cambridge, from the earliest times to 1900. Compiled by John Venn and J. A. Venn. 10 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1922–54.


Replies to CD’s letter [250], giving news of himself and mutual friends.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Thomas Whitley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Durham College
Source of text
DAR 204: 132
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 267,” accessed on 31 July 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 1