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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Henry Matthew   [14 February 1831]

22 Cecil St Strand—

My dear Darwin,

We will meet again by God— The accusing Angel that flew up to Heavens Chancery with the oath, etcet. Vide Sterne.1 But we must meet again yet alas not in Cambridge— Contrive a time and place and I will be there—

I answer your kind letter on the spirits engendered by a pint of Porter, The days of gin are over. I answer your generous remittance with a beggars gratitude with thanks, though I am not yet practised enough in the profession not to feel ashamed while I write. Do not think meanly of me. I assure you I had the hard choice of accepting your kindness or a Jail, for I had already pawned my watch. God bless you. Things will soon I trust be better with me. I have not yet heard from the reviewers, but I have shown my attempts to a man well versed in the profession, and he says all sorts of fine things concerning them I begin to think that I shall be the next Poet Laureate— I lie rather when I say that I feel shame at your kindness. I am perhaps rather ashamed of my necessities but I am proud indeed of the attachment which your kindness shows.— I must not be too grateful or you will cry out Damn the Fellow he never means to pay me I have written to Hamilton2 but have received no answer so I begin to fear he is offended with me. I trust it is not so for in these times it is much harder to get a friend than to lose one and I believe Hamilton to be a thoroughly good fellow— You ask what my plan is? It is to stay here certainly one fortnight more when I shall know whether I can do any thing or not. If I fail I suppose I must go home, if I succeed I shall write to my Father and tell him I want nothing of him for the next two years except payment of Debts a List of which I shall transmit, and then live on in my garret scribbling and hoping for better things till the two years have crept away. Any thing rather than Somersetshire and old recol- lections— I hope you have supported Cookesley’s character in my absence but I perceive that you have not convinced Cameron— And you dare to lift up your voice against the immortal Shelley, as if he was an Insect and to find fault with that Most perfect of lines Most Musical of Mourners weep again3 I wish I had you here in my garret where there is no room to run away. I would persecute you for hours— Most humanised of Insect kill〈ers〉 blush again— I have just completed nine of the most sentimental stanzas ever edited for which I intend to get five guineas, so a sneer at Poetry touches at once my fruits and my fortunes Write soon, like a gentleman as you are— I mean to have a fly at Tennysons Poems if I can, they have been lauded in the Westminster—4

Yours most sincerely H Matthew

Like is not an adverb but a preposition when used as you use it Vide Murray5 Page 102 Lowth6 page 21 Harris7 page 60 Cobbet8 passim—

God bless you old boy—and I do believe in God— Yours ever | Henry Matthew


‘The ACCUSING SPIRIT which flew up to heaven’s chancery with the oath, blush’d as he gave it in;— and the RECORDING ANGEL , as he wrote it down, dropp’d a tear upon the word, and blotted it out for ever.’ (Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (1759–67), vol. 6, ch. 8.)
Possibly Edward William Terrick Hamilton.
‘Adonais’, 4. 1.
The work referred to is Tennyson 1830, written while Tennyson was an undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge. The notice appeared in the Westminster Review, ‘Tennyson’s poems’, vol. 14, January 1831, pp. 210–24. The anonymous author has been identified as William Johnson Fox, not Sir John Bowring, as Tennyson’s biography in the DNB has it (Wellesley Index 3: 572).
Lindley Murray’s English grammar went through many editions and was used in schools to the exclusion of all others (DNB). A copy in Darwin Library–CUL of the two-volume edition of 1824 has the signature ‘Robert FitzRoy 1831’ on both covers and title-pages. In the margins of volume one some passages on the rules of syntax and the use of the comma are lightly scored in pencil.
Robert Lowth or Louth wrote a short introduction to English grammar (1762) (DNB).
Perhaps a reference to Harris 1751.
William Cobbett wrote on grammar as well as on politics, economics, and agriculture in Cobbett’s Weekly Political Register from 1802 until his death (DNB).


DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Harris, James. 1751. Hermes: or a philosophical inquiry concerning language and universal grammar. London.

Tennyson, Alfred. 1830. Poems, chiefly lyrical. London.


Accepted CD’s "generous remittance" rather than go to jail; has pawned his watch. Will stay one fortnight to see whether he can do anything; if he fails he will go home. If he succeeds he will ask his father to pay his debts and nothing else for a two-year period. Is proud of the attachment CD shows.

Letter details

Letter no.
Henry Matthew
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Cecil St, 22
M FE 14 1831
Source of text
DAR 204: 38
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 93,” accessed on 3 August 2021,

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