He had a pet economy in paper, but it was rather a hobby than a real economy. All the blank sheets of letters received were kept in a portfolio to be used in making notes; it was his respect for paper that made him write so much on the backs of his old MS., and in this way, unfortunately, he destroyed large parts of the original MS. of his books. His feeling about paper extended to waste paper, and he objected, half in fun, to the careless custom of throwing a spill into the fire after it had been used for lighting a candle.

My father was wonderfully liberal and generous to all his children in the matter of money, and I have special cause to remember his kindness when I think of the way in which he paid some Cambridge debts of mine--making it almost seem a virtue in me to have told him of them. In his later years he had the kind and generous plan of dividing his surplus at the year's end among his children.

He had a great respect for pure business capacity, and often spoke with admiration of a relative who had doubled his fortune. And of himself would often say in fun that what he really WAS proud of was the money he had saved. He also felt satisfaction in the money he made by his books. His anxiety to save came in a great measure from his fears that his children would not have health enough to earn their own livings, a foreboding which fairly haunted him for many years. And I have a dim recollection of his saying, "Thank God, you'll have bread and cheese," when I was so young that I was rather inclined to take it literally.

When letters were finished, about three in the afternoon, he rested in his bedroom, lying on the sofa and smoking a cigarette, and listening to a novel or other book not scientific. He only smoked when resting, whereas snuff was a stimulant, and was taken during working hours. He took snuff for many years of his life, having learnt the habit at Edinburgh as a student. He had a nice silver snuff-box given him by Mrs. Wedgwood of Maer, which he valued much--but he rarely carried it, because it tempted him to take too many pinches. In one of his early letters he speaks of having given up snuff for a month, and describes himself as feeling "most lethargic, stupid, and melancholy." Our former neighbour and clergyman, Mr. Brodie Innes, tells me that at one time my father made a resolve not to take snuff except away from home, "a most satisfactory arrangement for me," he adds, "as I kept a box in my study to which there was access from the garden without summoning servants, and I had more frequently, than might have been otherwise the case, the privilege of a few minutes' conversation with my dear friend." He generally took snuff from a jar on the hall table, because having to go this distance for a pinch was a slight check; the clink of the lid of the snuff jar was a very familiar sound. Sometimes when he was in the drawing-room, it would occur to him that the study fire must be burning low, and when some of us offered to see after it, it would turn out that he also wished to get a pinch of snuff.

Smoking he only took to permanently of late years, though on his Pampas rides he learned to smoke with the Gauchos, and I have heard him speak of the great comfort of a cup of mate and a cigarette when he halted after a long ride and was unable to get food for some time.

The reading aloud often sent him to sleep, and he used to regret losing parts of a novel, for my mother went steadily on lest the cessation of the sound might wake him. He came down at four o'clock to dress for his walk, and he was so regular that one might be quite certain it was within a few minutes of four when his descending steps were heard.

>From about half-past four to half-past five he worked; then he came to the drawing-room, and was idle till it was time (about six) to go up for another rest with novel-reading and a cigarette.

Latterly he gave up late dinner, and had a simple tea at half-past seven (while we had dinner), with an egg or a small piece of meat.

The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume I Page 51

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book