He was generally persuaded by my mother to take these short holidays, when it became clear from the frequency of "bad days," or from the swimming of his head, that he was being overworked. He went unwillingly, and tried to drive hard bargains, stipulating, for instance, that he should come home in five days instead of six. Even if he were leaving home for no more than a week, the packing had to be begun early on the previous day, and the chief part of it he would do himself. The discomfort of a journey to him was, at least latterly, chiefly in the anticipation, and in the miserable sinking feeling from which he suffered immediately before the start; even a fairly long journey, such as that to Coniston, tired him wonderfully little, considering how much an invalid he was; and he certainly enjoyed it in an almost boyish way, and to a curious extent.

Although, as he has said, some of his aesthetic tastes had suffered a gradual decay, his love of scenery remained fresh and strong. Every walk at Coniston was a fresh delight, and he was never tired of praising the beauty of the broken hilly country at the head of the lake.

One of the happy memories of this time [1879] is that of a delightful visit to Grasmere: "The perfect day," my sister writes, "and my father's vivid enjoyment and flow of spirits, form a picture in my mind that I like to think of. He could hardly sit still in the carriage for turning round and getting up to admire the view from each fresh point, and even in returning he was full of the beauty of Rydal Water, though he would not allow that Grasmere at all equalled his beloved Coniston."

Besides these longer holidays, there were shorter visits to various relatives--to his brother-in-law's house, close to Leith Hill, and to his son near Southampton. He always particularly enjoyed rambling over rough open country, such as the commons near Leith Hill and Southampton, the heath-covered wastes of Ashdown Forest, or the delightful "Rough" near the house of his friend Sir Thomas Farrer. He never was quite idle even on these holidays, and found things to observe. At Hartfield he watched Drosera catching insects, etc.; at Torquay he observed the fertilisation of an orchid (Spiranthes), and also made out the relations of the sexes in Thyme.

He was always rejoiced to get home after his holidays; he used greatly to enjoy the welcome he got from his dog Polly, who would get wild with excitement, panting, squeaking, rushing round the room, and jumping on and off the chairs; and he used to stoop down, pressing her face to his, letting her lick him, and speaking to her with a peculiarly tender, caressing voice.

My father had the power of giving to these summer holidays a charm which was strongly felt by all his family. The pressure of his work at home kept him at the utmost stretch of his powers of endurance, and when released from it, he entered on a holiday with a youthfulness of enjoyment that made his companionship delightful; we felt that we saw more of him in a week's holiday than in a month at home.

Some of these absences from home, however, had a depressing effect on him; when he had been previously much overworked it seemed as though the absence of the customary strain allowed him to fall into a peculiar condition of miserable health.

Besides the holidays which I have mentioned, there were his visits to water-cure establishments. In 1849, when very ill, suffering from constant sickness, he was urged by a friend to try the water-cure, and at last agreed to go to Dr. Gully's establishment at Malvern. His letters to Mr. Fox show how much good the treatment did him; he seems to have thought that he had found a cure for his troubles, but, like all other remedies, it had only a transient effect on him. However, he found it, at first, so good for him that when he came home he built himself a douche-bath, and the butler learnt to be his bathman.

He paid many visits to Moor Park, Dr. Lane's water-cure establishment in Surrey, not far from Aldershot.

The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume I Page 55

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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