454 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
Letter of Dr Robert Wartng Darwin to his sister Violetta Galton.
SALOP. Saturday, August 1, 1840.
MY DEAR SISTER, Susan, who is the only one of my family with me, joins in congratulations on the intended marriage of her cousin* with Miss Phillips. it is a fortunate attachment being so agreeable both to you and to Mr Galton. I trust they will be as happy as you wish them.
You kindly mention my sons; they are both far from well tho' from what I hear better than they have been and improving. Susan while on a visit to her brother Charles had the pleasure of seeing your son Francis of whom I hear a most satisfactory account in every respect. I have not heard of Sir Francis' since he wrote to communicate the marriage of his daughter and as you observe, it is only on such occasions we write. I trust I have the prospect of more letters from him. He did hold out some hope of their coming this summer to see us.
My daughters Marianne and Caroline are both well. Catharine is gone on a visit to some cousins in Pembrokeshire. With our kindest regards to your family circle, ever dear Mrs Galton,
Your affectionate brother, RBT DARWIN. BEYROUT. 9th, .
MY DEAR GALTON, I was much shocked to hear to-day from Mr Heald of the death of poor Alit, and also that you yourself are suffering from this infernal climate. I have been at this place about 8 days; the day we arrived both Delahaut and Fontinillia another Frenchman with whom I am travelling fell ill of the fever, Delahaut very seriously. He is now recovered, and intends to go to France as soon as he can. I expect to be at Damascus in about 10 days or sooner, and from there my movements are quite uncertain. I have been offered a passage in a French brig to Aleppo, (which) it is likely I shall accept after having been at Damascus. We came from Cairo by the short desert, very slowly, for my friends feel the heat very severely. As yet I have been all right, and have not much felt the climate, but all that I have seen of the country coming from Jerusalem here has disgusted me much, for there is really nothing worth seeing. This place is the only pretty thing I have seen.
I hope, my dear fellow, that when I arrive at Damascus I shall find you set up again, and able to continue your travels; what with nursing poor Ali and the climate of Damascus, I am sure you must have had a sorry time of it. I remain, Yours very truly,
XVIII and Vol. II, Plates XV, XVI.
As to the death of Galton's devoted servant Ali, see Memories of my Life, pp. 89, 103.
These letters throw some light on the doings of young Englishmen in the near East in those days. The writer was a College friend of Galton, and they may be taken to illustrate the "Fallow Years," for which see Memories of my Life, p. 85.
11 Arabian Nights in the Arabic.
DAMASCUS§. September 30, 1846.
MY DEAR GALTON, What an unfortunate fellow you are to get laid up in such a serious manner for, as you say, a few moments' amusement. I had been told you were unwell at Beyrout, but I had no idea you had been suffering so much. I trust this letter will find you getting stout and well again. I do not start for Bagdad for some little time as yet, and am in doubts whether I shall not prefer going alone to the caravan. Meantime, I am flourishing, installed in my old house and leading an exemplary life studying the "Alf Leyla, we Leyla"11 which I.have bought here in two large old volumes. The town is very full and gay by reason of the pilgrims who will start on Sunday, and the. departure is to be unusually grand. There is a very nice fellow staying here by name Stobart, who is a great acquisition. I have been in treaty for the purchase of a slave, and have had several Abyssinians brought for show, but none as yet sufficiently pretty. Dr Thompson desires his love and remembrances, and regrets as much as myself your not returning to cheer the solitude of El Sham el Kebira. I am thinking of buying his grey mare. The Han Houris are looking lovelier than ever, the divorced one has been critically examined
* Darwin Galton. I have inserted this letter from Dr Robert Darwin as it refers to the health of his son, Charles Darwin.
t Sir Francis Darwin, son of Dr Erasmus Darwin and his second wife, Mrs Chandos-Pole. He lived at Breadsall Priory, his father's old house: see Vol. I, pp. 22-25, and Plates XVIII,