THE VOYAGEby@charlesdarwin
138 reads


by Charles DarwinJanuary 18th, 2023
Read on Terminal Reader
Read this story w/o Javascript
tldt arrow

Too Long; Didn't Read

"There is a natural good-humoured energy in his letters just like himself."—From a letter of Dr. R.W. Darwin's to Prof. Henslow. [The object of the "Beagle" voyage is briefly described in my father's 'Journal of Researches,' page 1, as being "to complete the Survey of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, commenced under Captain King in 1826 to 1830; to survey the shores of Chile, Peru, and some island in the Pacific; and to carry a chain of chronometrical measurements round the world."]
featured image - THE VOYAGE
Charles Darwin HackerNoon profile picture

Life and Letters of Charles Darwin — Volume 1 by Charles Darwin, is part of the HackerNoon Books Series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here. THE VOYAGE


"There is a natural good-humoured energy in his letters just like himself."—From a letter of Dr. R.W. Darwin's to Prof. Henslow.

[The object of the "Beagle" voyage is briefly described in my father's 'Journal of Researches,' page 1, as being "to complete the Survey of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, commenced under Captain King in 1826 to 1830; to survey the shores of Chile, Peru, and some island in the Pacific; and to carry a chain of chronometrical measurements round the world."]

The "Beagle" is described as a well-built little vessel, of 235 tons, rigged as a barque, and carrying six guns. She belonged to the old class of ten-gun brigs, which were nicknamed "coffins," from their liability to go down in severe weather. They were very "deep-waisted," that is, their bulwarks were high in proportion to their size, so that a heavy sea breaking over them might be highly dangerous. Nevertheless, she lived through the five years' work, in the most stormy regions in the world, under Commanders Stokes and Fitz-Roy, without a serious accident. When re-commissioned in 1831 for her second voyage, she was found (as I learn from Admiral Sir James Sulivan) to be so rotten that she had practically to be rebuilt, and it was this that caused the long delay in refitting. The upper deck was raised, making her much safer in heavy weather, and giving her far more comfortable accommodation below. By these alterations and by the strong sheathing added to her bottom she was brought up to 242 tons burthen. It is a proof of the splendid seamanship of Captain Fitz-Roy and his officers that she returned without having carried away a spar, and that in only one of the heavy storms that she encountered was she in great danger.

She was fitted out for the expedition with all possible care, being supplied with carefully chosen spars and ropes, six boats, and a "dinghy;" lightning conductors, "invented by Mr. Harris, were fixed in all the masts, the bowsprits, and even in the flying jib-boom." To quote my father's description, written from Devonport, November 17, 1831: "Everybody, who can judge, says it is one of the grandest voyages that has almost ever been sent out. Everything is on a grand scale. Twenty-four chronometers. The whole ship is fitted up with mahogany; she is the admiration of the whole place. In short, everything is as prosperous as human means can make it."

Owing to the smallness of the vessel, every one on board was cramped for room, and my father's accommodation seems to have been small enough: "I have just room to turn round," he writes to Henslow, "and that is all." Admiral Sir James Sulivan writes to me: "The narrow space at the end of the chart-table was his only accommodation for working, dressing, and sleeping; the hammock being left hanging over his head by day, when the sea was at all rough, that he might lie on it with a book in his hand when he could not any longer sit at the table. His only stowage for clothes being several small drawers in the corner, reaching from deck to deck; the top one being taken out when the hammock was hung up, without which there was not length for it, so then the foot-clews took the place of the top drawer. For specimens he had a very small cabin under the forecastle."

Yet of this narrow room he wrote enthusiastically, September 17, 1831:—

"When I wrote last I was in great alarm about my cabin. The cabins were not then marked out, but when I left they were, and mine is a capital one, certainly next best to the Captain's and remarkably light. My companion most luckily, I think, will turn out to be the officer whom I shall like best. Captain Fitz-Roy says he will take care that one corner is so fitted up that I shall be comfortable in it and shall consider it my home, but that also I shall have the run of his. My cabin is the drawing one; and in the middle is a large table, on which we two sleep in hammocks. But for the first two months there will be no drawing to be done, so that it will be quite a luxurious room, and good deal larger than the Captain's cabin."

My father used to say that it was the absolute necessity of tidiness in the cramped space of the "Beagle" that helped 'to give him his methodical habits of working.' On the "Beagle", too, he would say, that he learned what he considered the golden rule for saving time; i.e., taking care of the minutes.

Sir James Sulivan tells me that the chief fault in the outfit of the expedition was the want of a second smaller vessel to act as tender. This want was so much felt by Captain Fitz-Roy that he hired two decked boats to survey the coast of Patagonia, at a cost of 1100 pounds, a sum which he had to supply, although the boats saved several thousand pounds to the country. He afterwards bought a schooner to act as a tender, thus saving the country a further large amount. He was ultimately ordered to sell the schooner, and was compelled to bear the loss himself, and it was only after his death that some inadequate compensation was made for all the losses which he suffered through his zeal.

For want of a proper tender, much of the work had to be done in small open whale boats, which were sent away from the ship for weeks together, and this in a climate, where the crews were exposed to severe hardships from the almost constant rains, which sometimes continued for weeks together. The completeness of the equipment was also in other respects largely due to the public spirit of Captain Fitz-Roy. He provided at his own cost an artist, and a skilled instrument-maker to look after the chronometers. (Either one or both were on the books for victuals.) Captain Fitz-Roy's wish was to take "some well-educated and scientific person" as his private guest, but this generous offer was only accepted by my father on condition of being allowed to pay a fair share of the expense of the Captain's table; he was, moreover, on the ship's books for victuals.

In a letter to his sister (July 1832) he writes contentedly of his manner of life at sea:—"I do not think I have ever given you an account of how the day passes. We breakfast at eight o'clock. The invariable maxim is to throw away all politeness—that is, never to wait for each other, and bolt off the minute one has done eating, etc. At sea, when the weather is calm, I work at marine animals, with which the whole ocean abounds. If there is any sea up I am either sick or contrive to read some voyage or travels. At one we dine. You shore-going people are lamentably mistaken about the manner of living on board. We have never yet (nor shall we) dined off salt meat. Rice and peas and calavanses are excellent vegetables, and, with good bread, who could want more? Judge Alderson could not be more temperate, as nothing but water comes on the table. At five we have tea. The midshipmen's berth have all their meals an hour before us, and the gun-room an hour afterwards."

The crew of the "Beagle" consisted of Captain Fitz-Roy, "Commander and Surveyor," two lieutenants, one of whom (the first lieutenant) was the late Captain Wickham, Governor of Queensland; the present Admiral Sir James Sulivan, K.C.B., was the second lieutenant. Besides the master and two mates, there was an assistant-surveyor, the present Admiral Lort Stokes. There were also a surgeon, assistant-surgeon, two midshipmen, master's mate, a volunteer (1st class), purser, carpenter, clerk, boatswain, eight marines, thirty-four seamen, and six boys.

There are not now (1882) many survivors of my father's old ship-mates. Admiral Mellersh, Mr. Hammond, and Mr. Philip King, of the Legislative Council of Sydney, and Mr. Usborne, are among the number. Admiral Johnson died almost at the same time as my father.

He retained to the last a most pleasant recollection of the voyage of the "Beagle", and of the friends he made on board her. To his children their names were familiar, from his many stories of the voyage, and we caught his feeling of friendship for many who were to us nothing more than names.

It is pleasant to know how affectionately his old companions remembered him.

Sir James Sulivan remained, throughout my father's lifetime, one of his best and truest friends. He writes:—"I can confidently express my belief that during the five years in the "Beagle", he was never known to be out of temper, or to say one unkind or hasty word OF or TO any one. You will therefore readily understand how this, combined with the admiration of his energy and ability, led to our giving him the name of 'the dear old Philosopher.'" (His other nickname was "The Flycatcher." I have heard my father tell how he overheard the boatswain of the "Beagle" showing another boatswain over the ship, and pointing out the officers: "That's our first lieutenant; that's our doctor; that's our flycatcher.") Admiral Mellersh writes to me:—"Your father is as vividly in my mind's eye as if it was only a week ago that I was in the "Beagle" with him; his genial smile and conversation can never be forgotten by any who saw them and heard them. I was sent on two or three occasions away in a boat with him on some of his scientific excursions, and always looked forward to these trips with great pleasure, an anticipation that, unlike many others, was always realised. I think he was the only man I ever knew against whom I never heard a word said; and as people when shut up in a ship for five years are apt to get cross with each other, that is saying a good deal. Certainly we were always so hard at work, we had no time to quarrel, but if we had done so, I feel sure your father would have tried (and have been successful) to throw oil on the troubled waters."

Admiral Stokes, Mr. King, Mr. Usborne, and Mr. Hamond, all speak of their friendship with him in the same warm-hearted way.

Of the life on board and on shore his letters give some idea. Captain Fitz-Roy was a strict officer, and made himself thoroughly respected both by officers and men. The occasional severity of his manner was borne with because every one on board knew that his first thought was his duty, and that he would sacrifice anything to the real welfare of the ship. My father writes, July 1834, "We all jog on very well together, there is no quarrelling on board, which is something to say. The Captain keeps all smooth by rowing every one in turn." The best proof that Fitz-Roy was valued as a commander is given by the fact that many ('Voyage of the "Adventure" and "Beagle",' vol. ii. page 21.) of the crew had sailed with him in the "Beagle's" former voyage, and there were a few officers as well as seamen and marines, who had served in the "Adventure" or "Beagle" during the whole of that expedition.

My father speaks of the officers as a fine determined set of men, and especially of Wickham, the first lieutenant, as a "glorious fellow." The latter being responsible for the smartness and appearance of the ship strongly objected to his littering the decks, and spoke of specimens as "d—d beastly devilment," and used to add, "If I were skipper, I would soon have you and all your d—d mess out of the place."

A sort of halo of sanctity was given to my father by the fact of his dining in the Captain's cabin, so that the midshipmen used at first to call him "Sir," a formality, however, which did not prevent his becoming fast friends with the younger officers. He wrote about the year 1861 or 1862 to Mr. P.G. King, M.L.C., Sydney, who, as before stated, was a midshipman on board the "Beagle":—"The remembrance of old days, when we used to sit and talk on the booms of the "Beagle", will always, to the day of my death, make me glad to hear of your happiness and prosperity." Mr. King describes the pleasure my father seemed to take "in pointing out to me as a youngster the delights of the tropical nights, with their balmy breezes eddying out of the sails above us, and the sea lighted up by the passage of the ship through the never-ending streams of phosphorescent animalculae."

It has been assumed that his ill-health in later years was due to his having suffered so much from sea-sickness. This he did not himself believe, but rather ascribed his bad health to the hereditary fault which came out as gout in some of the past generations. I am not quite clear as to how much he actually suffered from sea-sickness; my impression is distinct that, according to his own memory, he was not actually ill after the first three weeks, but constantly uncomfortable when the vessel pitched at all heavily. But, judging from his letters, and from the evidence of some of the officers, it would seem that in later years he forgot the extent of the discomfort from which he suffered. Writing June 3, 1836, from the Cape of Good Hope, he says: "It is a lucky thing for me that the voyage is drawing to its close, for I positively suffer more from sea-sickness now than three years ago." Admiral Lort Stokes wrote to the "Times", April 25, 1883:—

"May I beg a corner for my feeble testimony to the marvellous persevering endurance in the cause of science of that great naturalist, my old and lost friend, Mr. Charles Darwin, whose remains are so very justly to be honoured with a resting-place in Westminster Abbey?

"Perhaps no one can better testify to his early and most trying labours than myself. We worked together for several years at the same table in the poop cabin of the 'Beagle' during her celebrated voyage, he with his microscope and myself at the charts. It was often a very lively end of the little craft, and distressingly so to my old friend, who suffered greatly from sea-sickness. After perhaps an hour's work he would say to me, 'Old fellow, I must take the horizontal for it,' that being the best relief position from ship motion; a stretch out on one side of the table for some time would enable him to resume his labours for a while, when he had again to lie down.

"It was distressing to witness this early sacrifice of Mr. Darwin's health, who ever afterwards seriously felt the ill-effects of the 'Beagle's' voyage."

Mr. A.B. Usborne writes, "He was a dreadful sufferer from sea-sickness, and at times, when I have been officer of the watch, and reduced the sails, making the ship more easy, and thus relieving him, I have been pronounced by him to be 'a good officer,' and he would resume his microscopic observations in the poop cabin." The amount of work that he got through on the "Beagle" shows that he was habitually in full vigour; he had, however, one severe illness, in South America, when he was received into the house of an Englishman, Mr. Corfield, who tended him with careful kindness. I have heard him say that in this illness every secretion of the body was affected, and that when he described the symptoms to his father Dr. Darwin could make no guess as to the nature of the disease. My father was sometimes inclined to think that the breaking up of his health was to some extent due to this attack.

The "Beagle" letters give ample proof of his strong love of home, and all connected with it, from his father down to Nancy, his old nurse, to whom he sometimes sends his love.

His delight in home-letters is shown in such passages as:—"But if you knew the glowing, unspeakable delight, which I felt at being certain that my father and all of you were well, only four months ago, you would not grudge the labour lost in keeping up the regular series of letters."

Or again—his longing to return in words like these:—"It is too delightful to think that I shall see the leaves fall and hear the robin sing next autumn at Shrewsbury. My feelings are those of a schoolboy to the smallest point; I doubt whether ever boy longed for his holidays as much as I do to see you all again. I am at present, although nearly half the world is between me and home, beginning to arrange what I shall do, where I shall go during the first week."

Another feature in his letters is the surprise and delight with which he hears of his collections and observations being of some use. It seems only to have gradually occurred to him that he would ever be more than collector of specimens and facts, of which the great men were to make use. And even as to the value of his collections he seems to have had much doubt, for he wrote to Henslow in 1834:—"I really began to think that my collections were so poor that you were puzzled what to say; the case is now quite on the opposite tack, for you are guilty of exciting all my vain feelings to a most comfortable pitch; if hard work will atone for these thoughts, I vow it shall not be spared."

After his return and settlement in London, he began to realise the value of what he had done, and wrote to Captain Fitz-Roy—"However others may look back to the 'Beagle's' voyage, now that the small disagreeable parts are well-nigh forgotten, I think it far the MOST FORTUNATE CIRCUMSTANCE IN MY LIFE that the chance afforded by your offer of taking a Naturalist fell on me. I often have the most vivid and delightful pictures of what I saw on board the 'Beagle' pass before my eyes. These recollections, and what I learnt on Natural History, I would not exchange for twice ten thousand a year."

[In selecting the following series of letters, I have been guided by the wish to give as much personal detail as possible. I have given only a few scientific letters, to illustrate the way in which he worked, and how he regarded his own results. In his 'Journal of Researches' he gives incidentally some idea of his personal character; the letters given in the present chapter serve to amplify in fresher and more spontaneous words that impression of his personality which the 'Journal' has given to so many readers.]

CHARLES DARWIN TO R.W. DARWIN. Bahia, or San Salvador, Brazils [February 8, 1832].

I find after the first page I have been writing to my sisters.

My dear Father,

I am writing this on the 8th of February, one day's sail past St. Jago (Cape de Verd), and intend taking the chance of meeting with a homeward-bound vessel somewhere about the equator. The date, however, will tell this whenever the opportunity occurs. I will now begin from the day of leaving England, and give a short account of our progress. We sailed, as you know, on the 27th of December, and have been fortunate enough to have had from that time to the present a fair and moderate breeze. It afterwards proved that we had escaped a heavy gale in the Channel, another at Madeira, and another on [the] Coast of Africa. But in escaping the gale, we felt its consequences—a heavy sea. In the Bay of Biscay there was a long and continuous swell, and the misery I endured from sea-sickness is far beyond what I ever guessed at. I believe you are curious about it. I will give you all my dear-bought experience. Nobody who has only been to sea for twenty-four hours has a right to say that sea-sickness is even uncomfortable. The real misery only begins when you are so exhausted that a little exertion makes a feeling of faintness come on. I found nothing but lying in my hammock did me any good. I must especially except your receipt of raisins, which is the only food that the stomach will bear.

On the 4th of January we were not many miles from Madeira, but as there was a heavy sea running, and the island lay to windward, it was not thought worth while to beat up to it. It afterwards has turned out it was lucky we saved ourselves the trouble. I was much too sick even to get up to see the distant outline. On the 6th, in the evening, we sailed into the harbour of Santa Cruz. I now first felt even moderately well, and I was picturing to myself all the delights of fresh fruits growing in beautiful valleys, and reading Humboldt's descriptions of the island's glorious views, when perhaps you may nearly guess at our disappointment, when a small pale man informed us we must perform a strict quarantine of twelve days. There was a death-like stillness in the ship till the Captain cried "up jib," and we left this long-wished for place.

We were becalmed for a day between Teneriffe and the Grand Canary, and here I first experienced any enjoyment. The view was glorious. The Peak of Teneriffe was seen amongst the clouds like another world. Our only drawback was the extreme wish of visiting this glorious island. TELL EYTON NEVER TO FORGET EITHER THE CANARY ISLANDS OR SOUTH AMERICA; that I am sure it will well repay the necessary trouble, but that he must make up his mind to find a good deal of the latter. I feel certain he will regret it if he does not make the attempt. From Teneriffe to St. Jago the voyage was extremely pleasant. I had a net astern the vessel which caught great numbers of curious animals, and fully occupied my time in my cabin, and on deck the weather was so delightful and clear, that the sky and water together made a picture. On the 16th we arrived at Port Praya, the capital of the Cape de Verds, and there we remained twenty-three days, viz., till yesterday, the 7th of February. The time has flown away most delightfully, indeed nothing can be pleasanter; exceedingly busy, and that business both a duty and a great delight. I do not believe I have spent one half-hour idly since leaving Teneriffe. St. Jago has afforded me an exceedingly rich harvest in several branches of Natural History. I find the descriptions scarcely worth anything of many of the commoner animals that inhabit the Tropics. I allude, of course, to those of the lower classes.

Geologising in a volcanic country is most delightful; besides the interest attached to itself, it leads you into most beautiful and retired spots. Nobody but a person fond of Natural History can imagine the pleasure of strolling under cocoa-nuts in a thicket of bananas and coffee-plants, and an endless number of wild flowers. And this island, that has given me so much instruction and delight, is reckoned the most uninteresting place that we perhaps shall touch at during our voyage. It certainly is generally very barren, but the valleys are more exquisitely beautiful, from the very contrast. It is utterly useless to say anything about the scenery; it would be as profitable to explain to a blind man colours, as to a person who has not been out of Europe, the total dissimilarity of a tropical view. Whenever I enjoy anything, I always either look forward to writing it down, either in my log-book (which increases in bulk), or in a letter; so you must excuse raptures, and those raptures badly expressed. I find my collections are increasing wonderfully, and from Rio I think I shall be obliged to send a cargo home.

All the endless delays which we experienced at Plymouth have been most fortunate, as I verily believe no person ever went out better provided for collecting and observing in the different branches of Natural History. In a multitude of counsellors I certainly found good. I find to my great surprise that a ship is singularly comfortable for all sorts of work. Everything is so close at hand, and being cramped makes one so methodical, that in the end I have been a gainer. I already have got to look at going to sea as a regular quiet place, like going back to home after staying away from it. In short, I find a ship a very comfortable house, with everything you want, and if it was not for sea-sickness the whole world would be sailors. I do not think there is much danger of Erasmus setting the example, but in case there should be, he may rely upon it he does not know one-tenth of the sufferings of sea-sickness.

I like the officers much more than I did at first, especially Wickham, and young King and Stokes, and indeed all of them. The Captain continues steadily very kind, and does everything in his power to assist me. We see very little of each other when in harbour, our pursuits lead us in such different tracks. I never in my life met with a man who could endure nearly so great a share of fatigue. He works incessantly, and when apparently not employed, he is thinking. If he does not kill himself, he will during this voyage do a wonderful quantity of work. I find I am very well, and stand the little heat we have had as yet as well as anybody. We shall soon have it in real earnest. We are now sailing for Fernando Noronha, off the coast of Brazil, where we shall not stay very long, and then examine the shoals between there and Rio, touching perhaps at Bahia. I will finish this letter when an opportunity of sending it occurs.


About 280 miles from Bahia. On the 10th we spoke the packet "Lyra", on her voyage to Rio. I sent a short letter by her, to be sent to England on [the] first opportunity. We have been singularly unlucky in not meeting with any homeward-bound vessels, but I suppose [at] Bahia we certainly shall be able to write to England. Since writing the first part of [this] letter nothing has occurred except crossing the Equator, and being shaved. This most disagreeable operation consists in having your face rubbed with paint and tar, which forms a lather for a saw which represents the razor, and then being half drowned in a sail filled with salt water. About 50 miles north of the line we touched at the rocks of St. Paul; this little speck (about 1/4 of a mile across) in the Atlantic has seldom been visited. It is totally barren, but is covered by hosts of birds; they were so unused to men that we found we could kill plenty with stones and sticks. After remaining some hours on the island, we returned on board with the boat loaded with our prey. From this we went to Fernando Noronha, a small island where the [Brazilians] send their exiles. The landing there was attended with so much difficulty owing [to] a heavy surf that the Captain determined to sail the next day after arriving. My one day on shore was exceedingly interesting, the whole island is one single wood so matted together by creepers that it is very difficult to move out of the beaten path. I find the Natural History of all these unfrequented spots most exceedingly interesting, especially the geology. I have written this much in order to save time at Bahia.

Decidedly the most striking thing in the Tropics is the novelty of the vegetable forms. Cocoa-nuts could well be imagined from drawings, if you add to them a graceful lightness which no European tree partakes of. Bananas and plantains are exactly the same as those in hothouses, the acacias or tamarinds are striking from the blueness of their foliage; but of the glorious orange trees, no description, no drawings, will give any just idea; instead of the sickly green of our oranges, the native ones exceed the Portugal laurel in the darkness of their tint, and infinitely exceed it in beauty of form. Cocoa-nuts, papaws, the light green bananas, and oranges, loaded with fruit, generally surround the more luxuriant villages. Whilst viewing such scenes, one feels the impossibility that any description would come near the mark, much less be overdrawn.


Bahia, or San Salvador. I arrived at this place on the 28th of February, and am now writing this letter after having in real earnest strolled in the forests of the new world. No person could imagine anything so beautiful as the ancient town of Bahia, it is fairly embosomed in a luxuriant wood of beautiful trees, and situated on a steep bank, and overlooks the calm waters of the great bay of All Saints. The houses are white and lofty, and, from the windows being narrow and long, have a very light and elegant appearance. Convents, porticos, and public buildings, vary the uniformity of the houses; the bay is scattered over with large ships; in short, and what can be said more, it is one of the finest views in the Brazils. But the exquisite glorious pleasure of walking amongst such flowers, and such trees, cannot be comprehended but by those who have experienced it. Although in so low a latitude the locality is not disagreeably hot, but at present it is very damp, for it is the rainy season. I find the climate as yet agrees admirably with me; it makes me long to live quietly for some time in such a country. If you really want to have [an idea] of tropical countries, study Humboldt. Skip the scientific parts, and commence after leaving Teneriffe. My feelings amount to admiration the more I read him. Tell Eyton (I find I am writing to my sisters!) how exceedingly I enjoy America, and that I am sure it will be a great pity if he does not make a start.

This letter will go on the 5th, and I am afraid will be some time before it reaches you; it must be a warning how in other parts of the world you may be a long time without hearing. A year might by accident thus pass. About the 12th we start for Rio, but we remain some time on the way in sounding the Albrolhos shoals. Tell Eyton as far as my experience goes let him study Spanish, French, drawing, and Humboldt. I do sincerely hope to hear of (if not to see him) in South America. I look forward to the letters in Rio—till each one is acknowledged, mention its date in the next.

We have beat all the ships in manoeuvring, so much so that the commanding officer says, we need not follow his example; because we do everything better than his great ship. I begin to take great interest in naval points, more especially now, as I find they all say we are the No. 1 in South America. I suppose the Captain is a most excellent officer. It was quite glorious to-day how we beat the "Samarang" in furling sails. It is quite a new thing for a "sounding ship" to beat a regular man-of-war; and yet the "Beagle" is not at all a particular ship. Erasmus will clearly perceive it when he hears that in the night I have actually sat down in the sacred precincts of the quarter deck. You must excuse these queer letters, and recollect they are generally written in the evening after my day's work. I take more pains over my log-book, so that eventually you will have a good account of all the places I visit. Hitherto the voyage has answered ADMIRABLY to me, and yet I am now more fully aware of your wisdom in throwing cold water on the whole scheme; the chances are so numerous of turning out quite the reverse; to such an extent do I feel this, that if my advice was asked by any person on a similar occasion, I should be very cautious in encouraging him. I have not time to write to anybody else, so send to Maer to let them know, that in the midst of the glorious tropical scenery, I do not forget how instrumental they were in placing me there. I will not rapturise again, but I give myself great credit in not being crazy out of pure delight.

Give my love to every soul at home, and to the Owens.

I think one's affections, like other good things, flourish and increase in these tropical regions.

The conviction that I am walking in the New World is even yet marvellous in my own eyes, and I dare say it is little less so to you, the receiving a letter from a son of yours in such a quarter.

Believe me, my dear Father, Your most affectionate son, CHARLES DARWIN.

CHARLES DARWIN TO W.D. FOX. Botofogo Bay, near Rio de Janeiro, May, 1832.

My dear Fox,

I have delayed writing to you and all my other friends till I arrived here and had some little spare time. My mind has been, since leaving England, in a perfect HURRICANE of delight and astonishment, and to this hour scarcely a minute has passed in idleness...

At St. Jago my natural history and most delightful labours commenced. During the three weeks I collected a host of marine animals, and enjoyed many a good geological walk. Touching at some islands, we sailed to Bahia, and from thence to Rio, where I have already been some weeks. My collections go on admirably in almost every branch. As for insects, I trust I shall send a host of undescribed species to England. I believe they have no small ones in the collections, and here this morning I have taken minute Hydropori, Noterus, Colymbetes, Hydrophilus, Hydrobius, Gromius, etc., etc., as specimens of fresh-water beetles. I am entirely occupied with land animals, as the beach is only sand. Spiders and the adjoining tribes have perhaps given me, from their novelty, the most pleasure. I think I have already taken several new genera.

But Geology carries the day: it is like the pleasure of gambling. Speculating, on first arriving, what the rocks may be, I often mentally cry out 3 to 1 tertiary against primitive; but the latter have hitherto won all the bets. So much for the grand end of my voyage; in other respects things are equally flourishing. My life, when at sea, is so quiet, that to a person who can employ himself, nothing can be pleasanter; the beauty of the sky and brilliancy of the ocean together make a picture. But when on shore, and wandering in the sublime forests, surrounded by views more gorgeous than even Claude ever imagined, I enjoy a delight which none but those who have experienced it can understand. If it is to be done, it must be by studying Humboldt. At our ancient snug breakfasts, at Cambridge, I little thought that the wide Atlantic would ever separate us; but it is a rare privilege that with the body, the feelings and memory are not divided. On the contrary, the pleasantest scenes in my life, many of which have been in Cambridge, rise from the contrast of the present, the more vividly in my imagination. Do you think any diamond beetle will ever give me so much pleasure as our old friend crux major?... It is one of my most constant amusements to draw pictures of the past; and in them I often see you and poor little Fran. Oh, Lord, and then old Dash, poor thing! Do you recollect how you all tormented me about his beautiful tail?

...Think when you are picking insects off a hawthorn-hedge on a fine May day (wretchedly cold, I have no doubt), think of me collecting amongst pine-apples and orange-trees; whilst staining your fingers with dirty blackberries, think and be envious of ripe oranges. This is a proper piece of bravado, for I would walk through many a mile of sleet, snow, or rain to shake you by the hand. My dear old Fox, God bless you. Believe me,

Yours affectionately, CHAS. DARWIN.

CHARLES DARWIN TO J.S. HENSLOW. Rio de Janeiro, May 18, 1832.

My dear Henslow,...

Till arriving at Teneriffe (we did not touch at Madeira) I was scarcely out of my hammock, and really suffered more than you can well imagine from such a cause. At Santa Cruz, whilst looking amongst the clouds for the Peak, and repeating to myself Humboldt's sublime descriptions, it was announced we must perform twelve days' strict quarantine. We had made a short passage, so "Up jib," and away for St. Jago. You will say all this sounds very bad, and so it was; but from that to the present time it has been nearly one scene of continual enjoyment. A net over the stern kept me at full work till we arrived at St. Jago. Here we spent three most delightful weeks. The geology was pre-eminently interesting, and I believe quite new; there are some facts on a large scale of upraised coast (which is an excellent epoch for all the volcanic rocks to date from), that would interest Mr. Lyell.

One great source of perplexity to me is an utter ignorance whether I note the right facts, and whether they are of sufficient importance to interest others. In the one thing collecting I cannot go wrong. St. Jago is singularly barren, and produces few plants or insects, so that my hammer was my usual companion, and in its company most delightful hours I spent. On the coast I collected many marine animals, chiefly gasteropodous (I think some new). I examined pretty accurately a Caryopyllia, and, if my eyes are not bewitched, former descriptions have not the slightest resemblance to the animal. I took several specimens of an Octopus which possessed a most marvellous power of changing its colours, equalling any chameleon, and evidently accommodating the changes to the colour of the ground which it passed over. Yellowish green, dark brown, and red, were the prevailing colours; this fact appears to be new, as far as I can find out. Geology and the invertebrate animals will be my chief object of pursuit through the whole voyage.

We then sailed for Bahia, and touched at the rock of St. Paul. This is a serpentine formation. Is it not the only island in the Atlantic which is not volcanic? We likewise stayed a few hours at Fernando Noronha; a tremendous surf was running so that a boat was swamped, and the Captain would not wait. I find my life on board when we are on blue water most delightful, so very comfortable and quiet—it is almost impossible to be idle, and that for me is saying a good deal. Nobody could possibly be better fitted in every respect for collecting than I am; many cooks have not spoiled the broth this time. Mr. Brown's little hints about microscopes, etc., have been invaluable. I am well off in books, the 'Dictionnaire Classique' IS MOST USEFUL. If you should think of any thing or book that would be useful to me, if you would write one line, E. Darwin, Wyndham Club, St. James's Street, he will procure them, and send them with some other things to Monte Video, which for the next year will be my headquarters.

Touching at the Abrolhos, we arrived here on April 4th, when amongst others I received your most kind letter. You may rely on it during the evening I thought of the many most happy hours I have spent with you in Cambridge. I am now living at Botofogo, a village about a league from the city, and shall be able to remain a month longer. The "Beagle" has gone back to Bahia, and will pick me up on its return. There is a most important error in the longitude of South America, to settle which this second trip has been undertaken. Our chronometers, at least sixteen of them, are going superbly; none on record have ever gone at all like them.

A few days after arriving I started on an expedition of 150 miles to Rio Macao, which lasted eighteen days. Here I first saw a tropical forest in all its sublime grander—nothing but the reality can give any idea how wonderful, how magnificent the scene is. If I was to specify any one thing I should give the pre-eminence to the host of parasitical plants. Your engraving is exactly true, but underrates rather than exaggerates the luxuriance. I never experienced such intense delight. I formerly admired Humboldt, I now almost adore him; he alone gives any notion of the feelings which are raised in the mind on first entering the Tropics. I am now collecting fresh-water and land animals; if what was told me in London is true, viz., that there are no small insects in the collections from the Tropics, I tell Entomologists to look out and have their pens ready for describing. I have taken as minute (if not more so) as in England, Hydropori, Hygroti, Hydrobii, Pselaphi, Staphylini, Curculio, etc. etc. It is exceedingly interesting observing the difference of genera and species from those which I know, it is however much less than I had expected. I am at present red-hot with spiders; they are very interesting, and if I am not mistaken I have already taken some new genera. I shall have a large box to send very soon to Cambridge, and with that I will mention some more natural history particulars.

The Captain does everything in his power to assist me, and we get on very well, but I thank my better fortune he has not made me a renegade to Whig principles. I would not be a Tory, if it was merely on account of their cold hearts about that scandal to Christian nations—Slavery. I am very good friends with all the officers.

I have just returned from a walk, and as a specimen, how little the insects are known. Noterus, according to the 'Dictionary Classique,' contains solely three European species. I in one haul of my net took five distinct species; is this not quite extraordinary?...

Tell Professor Sedgwick he does not know how much I am indebted to him for the Welsh Expedition; it has given me an interest in Geology which I would not give up for any consideration. I do not think I ever spent a more delightful three weeks than pounding the North-west Mountains. I look forward to the geology about Monte Video as I hear there are slates there, so I presume in that district I shall find the junctions of the Pampas, and the enormous granite formation of Brazils. At Bahia the pegmatite and gneiss in beds had the same direction, as observed by Humboldt, prevailing over Columbia, distant 1300 miles—is it not wonderful? Monte Video will be for a long time my direction. I hope you will write again to me, there is nobody from whom I like receiving advice so much as from you...Excuse this almost unintelligible letter, and believe me, my dear Henslow, with the warmest feelings of respect and friendship,

Yours affectionately, CHAS. DARWIN.

CHARLES DARWIN TO J.M. HERBERT. Botofogo Bay, Rio de Janeiro, June 1832.

My dear old Herbert,

Your letter arrived here when I had given up all hopes of receiving another, it gave me, therefore, an additional degree of pleasure. At such an interval of time and space one does learn to feel truly obliged to those who do not forget one. The memory when recalling scenes past by, affords to us EXILES one of the greatest pleasures. Often and often whilst wandering amongst these hills do I think of Barmouth, and, I may add, as often wish for such a companion. What a contrast does a walk in these two places afford; here abrupt and stony peaks are to the very summit enclosed by luxuriant woods; the whole surface of the country, excepting where cleared by man, is one impenetrable forest. How different from Wales, with its sloping hills covered with turf, and its open valleys. I was not previously aware how intimately what may be called the moral part is connected with the enjoyment of scenery. I mean such ideas, as the history of the country, the utility of the produce, and more especially the happiness of the people living with them. Change the English labourer into a poor slave, working for another, and you will hardly recognise the same view. I am sure you will be glad to hear how very well every part (Heaven forefend, except sea-sickness) of the expedition has answered. We have already seen Teneriffe and the Great Canary; St. Jago where I spent three most delightful weeks, revelling in the delights of first naturalising a tropical volcanic island, and besides other islands, the two celebrated ports in the Brazils, viz. Bahia and Rio.

I was in my hammock till we arrived at the Canaries, and I shall never forget the sublime impression the first view of Teneriffe made on my mind. The first arriving into warm weather was most luxuriously pleasant; the clear blue sky of the Tropics was no common change after those accursed south-west gales at Plymouth. About the Line it became weltering hot. We spent one day at St. Paul's, a little group of rocks about a quarter of a mile in circumference, peeping up in the midst of the Atlantic. There was such a scene here. Wickham (1st Lieutenant) and I were the only two who landed with guns and geological hammers, etc. The birds by myriads were too close to shoot; we then tried stones, but at last, proh pudor! my geological hammer was the instrument of death. We soon loaded the boat with birds and eggs. Whilst we were so engaged, the men in the boat were fairly fighting with the sharks for such magnificent fish as you could not see in the London market. Our boat would have made a fine subject for Snyders, such a medley of game it contained. We have been here ten weeks, and shall now start for Monte Video, when I look forward to many a gallop over the Pampas. I am ashamed of sending such a scrambling letter, but if you were to see the heap of letters on my table you would understand the reason...

I am glad to hear music flourishes so well in Cambridge; but it [is] as barbarous to talk to me of "celestial concerts" as to a person in Arabia of cold water. In a voyage of this sort, if one gains many new and great pleasures, on the other side the loss is not inconsiderable. How should you like to be suddenly debarred from seeing every person and place, which you have ever known and loved, for five years? I do assure you I am occasionally "taken aback" by this reflection; and then for man or ship it is not so easy to right again. Remember me most sincerely to the remnant of most excellent fellows whom I have the good luck to know in Cambridge—I mean Whitley and Watkins. Tell Lowe I am even beneath his contempt. I can eat salt beef and musty biscuits for dinner. See what a fall man may come to!

My direction for the next year and a half will be Monte Video.

God bless you, my very dear old Herbert. May you always be happy and prosperous is my most cordial wish.

Yours affectionately, CHAS. DARWIN.

CHARLES DARWIN TO F. WATKINS. Monte Video, River Plata, August 18, 1832.

My dear Watkins,

I do not feel very sure you will think a letter from one so far distant will be worth having; I write therefore on the selfish principle of getting an answer. In the different countries we visit the entire newness and difference from England only serves to make more keen the recollection of its scenes and delights. In consequence the pleasure of thinking of, and hearing from one's former friends, does indeed become great. Recollect this, and some long winter's evening sit down and send me a long account of yourself and our friends; both what you have, and what [you] intend doing; otherwise in three or four more years when I return you will be all strangers to me. Considering how many months have passed, we have not in the "Beagle" made much way round the world. Hitherto everything has well repaid the necessary trouble and loss of comfort. We stayed three weeks at the Cape de Verds; it was no ordinary pleasure rambling over the plains of lava under a tropical sun, but when I first entered on and beheld the luxuriant vegetation in Brazil, it was realizing the visions in the 'Arabian Nights.' The brilliancy of the scenery throws one into a delirium of delight, and a beetle hunter is not likely soon to awaken from it, when whichever way he turns fresh treasures meet his eye. At Rio de Janeiro three months passed away like so many weeks. I made a most delightful excursion during this time of 150 miles into the country. I stayed at an estate which is the last of the cleared ground, behind is one vast impenetrable forest. It is almost impossible to imagine the quietude of such a life. Not a human being within some miles interrupts the solitude. To seat oneself amidst the gloom of such a forest on a decaying trunk, and then think of home, is a pleasure worth taking some trouble for.

We are at present in a much less interesting country. One single walk over the undulatory turf plain shows everything which is to be seen. It is not at all unlike Cambridgeshire, only that every hedge, tree and hill must be leveled, and arable land turned into pasture. All South America is in such an unsettled state that we have not entered one port without some sort of disturbance. At Buenos Ayres a shot came whistling over our heads; it is a noise I had never before heard, but I found I had an instinctive knowledge of what it meant. The other day we landed our men here, and took possession, at the request of the inhabitants, of the central fort. We philosophers do not bargain for this sort of work, and I hope there will be no more. We sail in the course of a day or two to survey the coast of Patagonia; as it is entirely unknown, I expect a good deal of interest. But already do I perceive the grievous difference between sailing on these seas and the Equinoctial ocean. In the "Ladies' Gulf," as the Spaniard's call it, it is so luxurious to sit on deck and enjoy the coolness of the night, and admire the new constellations of the South...I wonder when we shall ever meet again; but be it when it may, few things will give me greater pleasure than to see you again, and talk over the long time we have passed together.

If you were to meet me at present I certainly should be looked at like a wild beast, a great grizzly beard and flushing jacket would disfigure an angel. Believe me, my dear Watkins, with the warmest feelings of friendship.



My dear Henslow,

We are now running up from the Falkland Islands to the Rio Negro (or Colorado). The "Beagle" will proceed to Monte Video; but if it can be managed I intend staying at the former place. It is now some months since we have been at a civilised port; nearly all this time has been spent in the most southern part of Tierra del Fuego. It is a detestable place; gales succeed gales with such short intervals that it is difficult to do anything. We were twenty-three days off Cape Horn, and could by no means get to the westward. The last and final gale before we gave up the attempt was unusually severe. A sea stove one of the boats, and there was so much water on the decks that every place was afloat; nearly all the paper for drying plants is spoiled, and half of this curious collection.

We at last ran into harbour, and in the boats got to the west by the inland channels. As I was one of this party I was very glad of it. With two boats we went about 300 miles, and thus I had an excellent opportunity of geologising and seeing much of the savages. The Fuegians are in a more miserable state of barbarism than I had expected ever to have seen a human being. In this inclement country they are absolutely naked, and their temporary houses are like what children make in summer with boughs of trees. I do not think any spectacle can be more interesting than the first sight of man in his primitive wildness. It is an interest which cannot well be imagined until it is experienced. I shall never forget this when entering Good Success Bay—the yell with which a party received us. They were seated on a rocky point, surrounded by the dark forest of beech; as they threw their arms wildly round their heads, and their long hair streaming, they seemed the troubled spirits of another world. The climate in some respects is a curious mixture of severity and mildness; as far as regards the animal kingdom, the former character prevails; I have in consequence not added much to my collections.

The Geology of this part of Tierra del Fuego was, as indeed every place is, to me very interesting. The country is non-fossiliferous, and a common-place succession of granitic rocks and slates; attempting to make out the relation of cleavage, strata, etc., etc., was my chief amusement. The mineralogy, however, of some of the rocks will, I think, be curious from their resemblance to those of volcanic origin....

After leaving Tierra del Fuego we sailed to the Falklands. I forgot to mention the fate of the Fuegians whom we took back to their country. They had become entirely European in their habits and wishes, so much so that the younger one had forgotten his own language, and their countrymen paid but very little attention to them. We built houses for them and planted gardens, but by the time we return again on our passage round the Horn, I think it will be very doubtful how much of their property will be left unstolen.

...When I am sea-sick and miserable, it is one of my highest consolations to picture the future when we again shall be pacing together the roads round Cambridge. That day is a weary long way off. We have another cruise to make to Tierra del Fuego next summer, and then our voyage round the world will really commence. Captain Fitz-Roy has purchased a large schooner of 170 tons. In many respects it will be a great advantage having a consort—perhaps it may somewhat shorten our cruise, which I most cordially hope it may. I trust, however, that the Coral Reefs and various animals of the Pacific may keep up my resolution. Remember me most kindly to Mrs. Henslow and all other friends; I am a true lover of Alma Mater and all its inhabitants.

Believe me, my dear Henslow, Your affectionate and most obliged friend, CHARLES DARWIN.

CHARLES DARWIN TO MISS C. DARWIN. Maldonado, Rio Plata, May 22, 1833.

...The following business piece is to my father. Having a servant of my own would be a really great addition to my comfort. For these two reasons: as at present the Captain has appointed one of the men always to be with me, but I do not think it just thus to take a seaman out of the ship; and, secondly, when at sea I am rather badly off for any one to wait on me. The man is willing to be my servant, and all the expenses would be under 60 pounds per annum. I have taught him to shoot and skin birds, so that in my main object he is very useful. I have now left England nearly a year and a half, and I find my expenses are not above 200 pounds per annum; so that, it being hopeless (from time) to write for permission, I have come to the conclusion that you would allow me this expense. But I have not yet resolved to ask the Captain, and the chances are even that he would not be willing to have an additional man in the ship. I have mentioned this because for a long time I have been thinking about it.


I have just received a bundle more letters. I do not know how to thank you all sufficiently. One from Catherine, February 8th, another from Susan, March 3rd, together with notes from Caroline and from my father; give my best love to my father. I almost cried for pleasure at receiving it; it was very kind thinking of writing to me. My letters are both few, short, and stupid in return for all yours; but I always ease my conscience by considering the Journal as a long letter. If I can manage it, I will, before doubling the Horn, send the rest. I am quite delighted to find the hide of the Megatherium has given you all some little interest in my employments. These fragments are not, however, by any means the most valuable of the geological relics. I trust and believe that the time spent in this voyage, if thrown away for all other respects, will produce its full worth in Natural History; and it appears to me the doing what LITTLE we can to increase the general stock of knowledge is as respectable an object of life as one can in any likelihood pursue. It is more the result of such reflections (as I have already said) than much immediate pleasure which now makes me continue the voyage, together with the glorious prospect of the future, when passing the Straits of Magellan, we have in truth the world before us. Think of the Andes, the luxuriant forest of Guayaquil, the islands of the South Sea, and New South Wales. How many magnificent and characteristic views, how many and curious tribes of men we shall see! What fine opportunities for geology and for studying the infinite host of living beings! Is not this a prospect to keep up the most flagging spirit? If I was to throw it away, I don't think I should ever rest quiet in my grave. I certainly should be a ghost and haunt the British Museum.

How famously the Ministers appear to be going on. I always much enjoy political gossip and what you at home think will, etc., etc., take place. I steadily read up the weekly paper, but it is not sufficient to guide one's opinion; and I find it a very painful state not to be as obstinate as a pig in politics. I have watched how steadily the general feeling, as shown at elections, has been rising against Slavery. What a proud thing for England if she is the first European nation which utterly abolishes it! I was told before leaving England that after living in slave countries all my opinions would be altered; the only alteration I am aware of is forming a much higher estimate of the negro character. It is impossible to see a negro and not feel kindly towards him; such cheerful, open, honest expressions and such fine muscular bodies. I never saw any of the diminutive Portuguese, with their murderous countenances, without almost wishing for Brazil to follow the example of Hayti; and, considering the enormous healthy-looking black population, it will be wonderful if, at some future day, it does not take place. There is at Rio a man (I know not his title) who has a large salary to prevent (I believe) the landing of slaves; he lives at Botofogo, and yet that was the bay where, during my residence, the greater number of smuggled slaves were landed. Some of the Anti-Slavery people ought to question about his office; it was the subject of conversation at Rio amongst the lower English...

CHARLES DARWIN TO J.M. HERBERT. Maldonado, Rio Plata, June 2, 1833.

My dear Herbert,

I have been confined for the last three days to a miserable dark room, in an old Spanish house, from the torrents of rain; I am not, therefore, in very good trim for writing; but, defying the blue devils, I will send you a few lines, if it is merely to thank you very sincerely for writing to me. I received your letter, dated December 1st, a short time since. We are now passing part of the winter in the Rio Plata, after having had a hard summer's work to the south. Tierra del Fuego is indeed a miserable place; the ceaseless fury of the gales is quite tremendous. One evening we saw old Cape Horn, and three weeks afterwards we were only thirty miles to windward of it. It is a grand spectacle to see all nature thus raging; but Heaven knows every one in the "Beagle" has seen enough in this one summer to last them their natural lives.

The first place we landed at was Good Success Bay. It was here Banks and Solander met such disasters on ascending one of the mountains. The weather was tolerably fine, and I enjoyed some walks in a wild country, like that behind Barmouth. The valleys are impenetrable from the entangled woods, but the higher parts, near the limits of perpetual snow, are bare. From some of these hills the scenery, from its savage, solitary character, was most sublime. The only inhabitant of these heights is the guanaco, and with its shrill neighing it often breaks the stillness. The consciousness that no European foot had ever trod much of this ground added to the delight of these rambles. How often and how vividly have many of the hours spent at Barmouth come before my mind! I look back to that time with no common pleasure; at this moment I can see you seated on the hill behind the inn, almost as plainly as if you were really there. It is necessary to be separated from all which one has been accustomed to, to know how properly to treasure up such recollections, and at this distance, I may add, how properly to esteem such as yourself, my dear old Herbert. I wonder when I shall ever see you again. I hope it may be, as you say, surrounded with heaps of parchment; but then there must be, sooner or later, a dear little lady to take care of you and your house. Such a delightful vision makes me quite envious. This is a curious life for a regular shore-going person such as myself; the worst part of it is its extreme length. There is certainly a great deal of high enjoyment, and on the contrary a tolerable share of vexation of spirit. Everything, however, shall bend to the pleasure of grubbing up old bones, and captivating new animals. By the way, you rank my Natural History labours far too high. I am nothing more than a lions' provider: I do not feel at all sure that they will not growl and finally destroy me.

It does one's heart good to hear how things are going on in England. Hurrah for the honest Whigs! I trust they will soon attack that monstrous stain on our boasted liberty, Colonial Slavery. I have seen enough of Slavery and the dispositions of the negroes, to be thoroughly disgusted with the lies and nonsense one hears on the subject in England. Thank God, the cold-hearted Tories, who, as J. Mackintosh used to say, have no enthusiasm, except against enthusiasm, have for the present run their race. I am sorry, by your letter, to hear you have not been well, and that you partly attribute it to want of exercise. I wish you were here amongst the green plains; we would take walks which would rival the Dolgelly ones, and you should tell stories, which I would believe, even to a CUBIC FATHOM OF PUDDING. Instead I must take my solitary ramble, think of Cambridge days, and pick up snakes, beetles and toads. Excuse this short letter (you know I never studied 'The Complete Letter-writer'), and believe me, my dear Herbert,

Your affectionate friend, CHARLES DARWIN.

CHARLES DARWIN TO J.S. HENSLOW. East Falkland Island, March, 1834.

...I am quite charmed with Geology, but like the wise animal between two bundles of hay, I do not know which to like the best; the old crystalline group of rocks, or the softer and fossiliferous beds. When puzzling about stratifications, etc., I feel inclined to cry "a fig for your big oysters, and your bigger megatheriums." But then when digging out some fine bones, I wonder how any man can tire his arms with hammering granite. By the way I have not one clear idea about cleavage, stratification, lines of upheaval. I have no books which tell me much, and what they do I cannot apply to what I see. In consequence I draw my own conclusions, and most gloriously ridiculous ones they are, I sometimes fancy...Can you throw any light into my mind by telling me what relation cleavage and planes of deposition bear to each other?

And now for my second SECTION, Zoology. I have chiefly been employed in preparing myself for the South Sea by examining the polypi of the smaller Corallines in these latitudes. Many in themselves are very curious, and I think are quite undescribed; there was one appalling one, allied to a Flustra, which I dare say I mentioned having found to the northward, where the cells have a movable organ (like a vulture's head, with a dilatable beak), fixed on the edge. But what is of more general interest is the unquestionable (as it appears to me) existence of another species of ostrich, besides the Struthio rhea. All the Gauchos and Indians state it is the case, and I place the greatest faith in their observations. I have the head, neck, piece of skin, feathers, and legs of one. The differences are chiefly in the colour of the feathers and scales on legs, being feathered below the knees, nidification, and geographical distribution. So much for what I have lately done; the prospect before me is full of sunshine, fine weather, glorious scenery, the geology of the Andes, plains abounding with organic remains (which perhaps I may have the good luck to catch in the very act of moving), and lastly, an ocean, its shores abounding with life, so that, if nothing unforeseen happens, I will stick to the voyage, although for what I can see this may last till we return a fine set of white-headed old gentlemen. I have to thank you most cordially for sending me the books. I am now reading the Oxford 'Report' (The second meeting of the British Association was held at Oxford in 1832, the following year it was at Cambridge.); the whole account of your proceedings is most glorious; you remaining in England cannot well imagine how excessively interesting I find the reports. I am sure from my own thrilling sensations when reading them, that they cannot fail to have an excellent effect upon all those residing in distant colonies, and who have little opportunity of seeing the periodicals. My hammer has flown with redoubled force on the devoted blocks; as I thought over the eloquence of the Cambridge President, I hit harder and harder blows. I hope to give my arms strength for the Cordilleras. You will send me through Capt. Beaufort a copy of the Cambridge 'Report.'

I have forgotten to mention that for some time past, and for the future, I will put a pencil cross on the pill-boxes containing insects, as these alone will require being kept particularly dry; it may perhaps save you some trouble. When this letter will go I do not know, as this little seat of discord has lately been embroiled by a dreadful scene of murder, and at present there are more prisoners than inhabitants. If a merchant vessel is chartered to take them to Rio, I will send some specimens (especially my few plants and seeds). Remember me to all my Cambridge friends. I love and treasure up every recollection of dear old Cambridge. I am much obliged to you for putting my name down to poor Ramsay's monument; I never think of him without the warmest admiration. Farewell, my dear Henslow.

Believe me your most obliged and affectionate friend, CHARLES DARWIN.

CHARLES DARWIN TO MISS C. DARWIN. East Falkland Island, April 6, 1834.

My dear Catherine,

When this letter will reach you I know not, but probably some man-of-war will call here before, in the common course of events, I should have another opportunity of writing....

After visiting some of the southern islands, we beat up through the magnificent scenery of the Beagle Channel to Jemmy Button's country. (Jemmy Button, York Minster, and Fuegia Basket, were natives of Tierra del Fuego, brought to England by Captain Fitz-Roy in his former voyage, and restored to their country by him in 1832.) We could hardly recognise poor Jemmy. Instead of the clean, well-dressed stout lad we left him, we found him a naked, thin, squalid savage. York and Fuegia had moved to their own country some months ago, the former having stolen all Jemmy's clothes. Now he had nothing except a bit of blanket round his waist. Poor Jemmy was very glad to see us, and, with his usual good feeling, brought several presents (otter-skins, which are most valuable to themselves) for his old friends. The Captain offered to take him to England, but this, to our surprise, he at once refused. In the evening his young wife came alongside and showed us the reason. He was quite contented. Last year, in the height of his indignation, he said "his country people no sabe nothing—damned fools"—now they were very good people, with TOO much to eat, and all the luxuries of life. Jemmy and his wife paddled away in their canoe loaded with presents, and very happy. The most curious thing is, that Jemmy, instead of recovering his own language, has taught all his friends a little English. "J. Button's canoe" and "Jemmy's wife come," "Give me knife," etc., was said by several of them.

We then bore away for this island—this little miserable seat of discord. We found that the Gauchos, under pretence of a revolution, had murdered and plundered all the Englishmen whom they could catch, and some of their own countrymen. All the economy at home makes the foreign movements of England most contemptible. How different from old Spain. Here we, dog-in-the-manger fashion, seize an island, and leave to protect it a Union Jack; the possessor has, of course, been murdered; we now send a lieutenant with four sailors, without authority or instructions. A man-of-war, however, ventured to leave a party of marines, and by their assistance, and the treachery of some of the party, the murderers have all been taken, there being now as many prisoners as inhabitants. This island must some day become a very important halting-place in the most turbulent sea in the world. It is mid-way between Australia and the South Sea to England; between Chili, Peru, etc., and the Rio Plata and the Rio de Janeiro. There are fine harbours, plenty of fresh water, and good beef. It would doubtless produce the coarser vegetables. In other respects it is a wretched place. A little time since, I rode across the island, and returned in four days. My excursion would have been longer, but during the whole time it blew a gale of wind, with hail and snow. There is no firewood bigger than heath, and the whole country is, more or less an elastic peat-bog. Sleeping out at night was too miserable work to endure it for all the rocks in South America.

We shall leave this scene of iniquity in two or three days, and go to the Rio de la Sta. Cruz. One of the objects is to look at the ship's bottom. We struck heavily on an unknown rock off Port Desire, and some of her copper is torn off. After this is repaired the Captain has a glorious scheme; it is to go to the very head of this river, that is probably to the Andes. It is quite unknown; the Indians tell us it is two or three hundred yards broad, and horses can nowhere ford it. I cannot imagine anything more interesting. Our plans then are to go to Fort Famine, and there we meet the "Adventure", who is employed in making the Chart of the Falklands. This will be in the middle of winter, so I shall see Tierra del Fuego in her white drapery. We leave the straits to enter the Pacific by the Barbara Channel, one very little known, and which passes close to the foot of Mount Sarmiento (the highest mountain in the south, excepting Mt.!! Darwin!!). We then shall scud away for Concepcion in Chili. I believe the ship must once again steer southward, but if any one catches me there again, I will give him leave to hang me up as a scarecrow for all future naturalists. I long to be at work in the Cordilleras, the geology of this side, which I understand pretty well is so intimately connected with periods of violence in that great chain of mountains. The future is, indeed, to me a brilliant prospect. You say its very brilliancy frightens you; but really I am very careful; I may mention as a proof, in all my rambles I have never had any one accident or scrape...Continue in your good custom of writing plenty of gossip; I much like hearing all about all things. Remember me most kindly to Uncle Jos, and to all the Wedgwoods. Tell Charlotte (their married names sound downright unnatural) I should like to have written to her, to have told her how well everything is going on; but it would only have been a transcript of this letter, and I have a host of animals at this minute surrounding me which all require embalming and numbering. I have not forgotten the comfort I received that day at Maer, when my mind was like a swinging pendulum. Give my best love to my father. I hope he will forgive all my extravagance, but not as a Christian, for then I suppose he would send me no more money.

Good-bye, dear, to you, and all your goodly sisterhood.

Your affectionate brother, CHAS. DARWIN.

My love to Nancy (His old nurse.); tell her, if she was now to see me with my great beard, she would think I was some worthy Solomon, come to sell the trinkets.

CHARLES DARWIN TO C. WHITLEY. Valparaiso, July 23, 1834.

My dear Whitley,

I have long intended writing, just to put you in mind that there is a certain hunter of beetles, and pounder of rocks still in existence. Why I have not done so before I know not, but it will serve me right if you have quite forgotten me. It is a very long time since I have heard any Cambridge news; I neither know where you are living or what you are doing. I saw your name down as one of the indefatigable guardians of the eighteen hundred philosophers. I was delighted to see this, for when we last left Cambridge you were at sad variance with poor science; you seemed to think her a public prostitute working for popularity. If your opinions are the same as formerly, you would agree most admirably with Captain Fitz-Roy,—the object of his most devout abhorrence is one of the d—d scientific Whigs. As captains of men-of-war are the greatest men going, far greater than kings or schoolmasters, I am obliged to tell him everything in my own favour. I have often said I once had a very good friend, an out-and-out Tory, and we managed to get on very well together. But he is very much inclined to doubt if ever I really was so much honoured; at present we hear scarcely anything about politics; this saves a great deal of trouble, for we all stick to our former opinions rather more obstinately than before, and can give rather fewer reasons for doing so.

I do hope you will write to me: ('H.M.S. "Beagle", S. American Station' will find me). I should much like to hear in what state you are both in body and mind. ?Quien Sabe? as the people say here (and God knows they well may, for they do know little enough), if you are not a married man, and may be nursing, as Miss Austen says, little olive branches, little pledges of mutual affection. Eheu! Eheu! this puts me in mind of former visions of glimpses into futurity, where I fancied I saw retirement, green cottages, and white petticoats. What will become of me hereafter I know not; I feel like a ruined man, who does not see or care how to extricate himself. That this voyage must come to a conclusion my reason tells me, but otherwise I see no end to it. It is impossible not bitterly to regret the friends and other sources of pleasure one leaves behind in England; in place of it there is much solid enjoyment, some present, but more in anticipation, when the ideas gained during the voyage can be compared to fresh ones. I find in Geology a never-failing interest, as it has been remarked, it creates the same grand ideas respecting this world which Astronomy does for the universe. We have seen much fine scenery; that of the Tropics in its glory and luxuriance exceeds even the language of Humboldt to describe. A Persian writer could alone do justice to it, and if he succeeded he would in England be called the 'Grandfather of all liars.'

But I have seen nothing which more completely astonished me than the first sight of a savage. It was a naked Fuegian, his long hair blowing about, his face besmeared with paint. There is in their countenances an expression which I believe, to those who have not seen it, must be inconceivably wild. Standing on a rock he uttered tones and made gesticulations, than which the cries of domestic animals are far more intelligible.

When I return to England, you must take me in hand with respect to the fine arts. I yet recollect there was a man called Raffaelle Sanctus. How delightful it will be once again to see, in the Fitzwilliam, Titian's Venus. How much more than delightful to go to some good concert or fine opera. These recollections will not do. I shall not be able to-morrow to pick out the entrails of some small animal with half my usual gusto. Pray tell me some news about Cameron, Watkins, Marindin, the two Thompsons of Trinity, Lowe, Heaviside, Matthew. Herbert I have heard from. How is Henslow getting on? and all other good friends of dear Cambridge? Often and often do I think over those past hours, so many of which have been passed in your company. Such can never return, but their recollection can never die away.

God bless you, my dear Whitley, Believe me, your most sincere friend, CHAS. DARWIN.

CHARLES DARWIN TO MISS C. DARWIN. Valparaiso, November 8, 1834.

My dear Catherine,

My last letter was rather a gloomy one, for I was not very well when I wrote it. Now everything is as bright as sunshine. I am quite well again after being a second time in bed for a fortnight. Captain Fitz-Roy very generously has delayed the ship ten days on my account, and without at the time telling me for what reason.

We have had some strange proceedings on board the "Beagle", but which have ended most capitally for all hands. Captain Fitz-Roy has for the last two months been working EXTREMELY hard, and at the same time constantly annoyed by interruptions from officers of other ships; the selling the schooner and its consequences were very vexatious; the cold manner the Admiralty (solely I believe because he is a Tory) have treated him, and a thousand other, etc. etc.'s, has made him very thin and unwell. This was accompanied by a morbid depression of spirits, and a loss of all decision and resolution... All that Bynoe [the Surgeon] could say, that it was merely the effect of bodily health and exhaustion after such application, would not do; he invalided, and Wickham was appointed to the command. By the instructions Wickham could only finish the survey of the southern part, and would then have been obliged to return direct to England. The grief on board the "Beagle" about the Captain's decision was universal and deeply felt; one great source of his annoyment was the feeling it impossible to fulfil the whole instructions; from his state of mind it never occurred to him that the very instructions ordered him to do as much of the West coast AS HE HAS TIME FOR, and then proceed across the Pacific.

Wickham (very disinterestedly giving up his own promotion) urged this most strongly, stated that when he took the command nothing should induce him to go to Tierra del Fuego again; and then asked the Captain what would be gained by his resignation? why not do the more useful part, and return as commanded by the Pacific. The Captain at last, to every one's joy, consented, and the resignation was withdrawn.

Hurrah! hurrah! it is fixed the "Beagle" shall not go one mile south of Cape Tres Montes (about 200 miles south of Chiloe), and from that point to Valparaiso will be finished in about five months. We shall examine the Chonos Archipelago, entirely unknown, and the curious inland sea behind Chiloe. For me it is glorious. Cape Tres Montes is the most southern point where there is much geological interest, as there the modern beds end. The Captain then talks of crossing the Pacific; but I think we shall persuade him to finish the Coast of Peru, where the climate is delightful, the country hideously sterile, but abounding with the highest interest to a geologist. For the first time since leaving England I now see a clear and not so distant prospect of returning to you all: crossing the Pacific, and from Sydney home, will not take much time.

As soon as the Captain invalided I at once determined to leave the "Beagle", but it was quite absurd what a revolution in five minutes was effected in all my feelings. I have long been grieved and most sorry at the interminable length of the voyage (although I never would have quitted it); but the minute it was all over, I could not make up my mind to return. I could not give up all the geological castles in the air which I had been building up for the last two years. One whole night I tried to think over the pleasure of seeing Shrewsbury again, but the barren plains of Peru gained the day. I made the following scheme (I know you will abuse me, and perhaps if I had put it in execution, my father would have sent a mandamus after me); it was to examine the Cordilleras of Chili during this summer, and in winter go from port to port on the coast of Peru to Lima, returning this time next year to Valparaiso, cross the Cordilleras to Buenos Ayres, and take ship to England. Would not this have been a fine excursion, and in sixteen months I should have been with you all? To have endured Tierra del Fuego and not seen the Pacific would have been miserable...

I go on board to-morrow; I have been for the last six weeks in Corfield's house. You cannot imagine what a kind friend I have found him. He is universally liked, and respected by the natives and foreigners. Several Chileno Signoritas are very obligingly anxious to become the signoras of this house. Tell my father I have kept my promise of being extravagant in Chili. I have drawn a bill of 100 pounds (had it not better be notified to Messrs. Robarts & Co.); 50 pounds goes to the Captain for the ensuing year, and 30 pounds I take to sea for the small ports; so that bona fide I have not spent 180 pounds during these last four months. I hope not to draw another bill for six months. All the foregoing particulars were only settled yesterday. It has done me more good than a pint of medicine, and I have not been so happy for the last year. If it had not been for my illness, these four months in Chili would have been very pleasant. I have had ill luck, however, in only one little earthquake having happened. I was lying in bed when there was a party at dinner in the house; on a sudden I heard such a hubbub in the dining-room; without a word being spoken, it was devil take the hindmost who should get out first; at the same moment I felt my bed SLIGHTLY vibrate in a lateral direction. The party were old stagers, and heard the noise which always precedes a shock; and no old stager looks at an earthquake with philosophical eyes...

Good-bye to you all; you will not have another letter for some time.

My dear Catherine, Yours affectionately, CHAS. DARWIN.

My best love to my father, and all of you. Love to Nancy.

CHARLES DARWIN TO MISS S. DARWIN. Valparaiso, April 23, 1835.

My dear Susan,

I received, a few days since, your letter of November; the three letters which I before mentioned are yet missing, but I do not doubt they will come to life. I returned a week ago from my excursion across the Andes to Mendoza. Since leaving England I have never made so successful a journey; it has, however, been very expensive. I am sure my father would not regret it, if he could know how deeply I have enjoyed it: it was something more than enjoyment; I cannot express the delight which I felt at such a famous winding-up of all my geology in South America. I literally could hardly sleep at nights for thinking over my day's work. The scenery was so new, and so majestic; everything at an elevation of 12,000 feet bears so different an aspect from that in a lower country. I have seen many views more beautiful, but none with so strongly marked a character. To a geologist, also, there are such manifest proofs of excessive violence; the strata of the highest pinnacles are tossed about like the crust of a broken pie.

I crossed by the Portillo Pass, which at this time of the year is apt to be dangerous, so could not afford to delay there. After staying a day in the stupid town of Mendoza, I began my return by Uspallate, which I did very leisurely. My whole trip only took up twenty-two days. I travelled with, for me, uncommon comfort, as I carried a BED! My party consisted of two Peons and ten mules, two of which were with baggage, or rather food, in case of being snowed up. Everything, however, favoured me; not even a speck of this year's snow had fallen on the road. I do not suppose any of you can be much interested in geological details, but I will just mention my principal results:—Besides understanding to a certain extent the description and manner of the force which has elevated this great line of mountains, I can clearly demonstrate that one part of the double line is of an age long posterior to the other. In the more ancient line, which is the true chain of the Andes, I can describe the sort and order of the rocks which compose it. These are chiefly remarkable by containing a bed of gypsum nearly 2000 feet thick—a quantity of this substance I should think unparalleled in the world. What is of much greater consequence, I have procured fossil shells (from an elevation of 12,000 feet). I think an examination of these will give an approximate age to these mountains, as compared to the strata of Europe. In the other line of the Cordilleras there is a strong presumption (in my own mind, conviction) that the enormous mass of mountains, the peaks of which rise to 13,000 and 14,000 feet, are so very modern as to be contemporaneous with the plains of Patagonia (or about with the UPPER strata of the Isle of Wight). If this result shall be considered as proved (The importance of these results has been fully recognised by geologists.), it is a very important fact in the theory of the formation of the world; because, if such wonderful changes have taken place so recently in the crust of the globe, there can be no reason for supposing former epochs of excessive violence. These modern strata are very remarkable by being threaded with metallic veins of silver, gold, copper, etc.; hitherto these have been considered as appertaining to older formations. In these same beds, and close to a goldmine, I found a clump of petrified trees, standing up right, with layers of fine sandstone deposited round them, bearing the impression of their bark. These trees are covered by other sandstones and streams of lava to the thickness of several thousand feet. These rocks have been deposited beneath water; yet it is clear the spot where the trees grew must once have been above the level of the sea, so that it is certain the land must have been depressed by at least as many thousand feet as the superincumbent subaqueous deposits are thick. But I am afraid you will tell me I am prosy with my geological descriptions and theories...

Your account of Erasmus' visit to Cambridge has made me long to be back there. I cannot fancy anything more delightful than his Sunday round of King's, Trinity, and those talking giants, Whewell and Sedgwick; I hope your musical tastes continue in due force. I shall be ravenous for the pianoforte...

I have not quite determined whether I will sleep at the 'Lion' the first night when I arrive per 'Wonder,' or disturb you all in the dead of night; everything short of that is absolutely planned. Everything about Shrewsbury is growing in my mind bigger and more beautiful; I am certain the acacia and copper beech are two superb trees; I shall know every bush, and I will trouble you young ladies, when each of you cut down your tree, to spare a few. As for the view behind the house, I have seen nothing like it. It is the same with North Wales; Snowdon, to my mind, looks much higher and much more beautiful than any peak in the Cordilleras. So you will say, with my benighted faculties, it is time to return, and so it is, and I long to be with you. Whatever the trees are, I know what I shall find all you. I am writing nonsense, so farewell. My most affectionate love to all, and I pray forgiveness from my father.

Yours most affectionately, CHARLES DARWIN.

CHARLES DARWIN TO W.D. FOX. Lima, July, 1835.

My dear Fox,

I have lately received two of your letters, one dated June and the other November, 1834 (they reached me, however, in an inverted order). I was very glad to receive a history of this most important year in your life. Previously I had only heard the plain fact that you were married. You are a true Christian and return good for evil, to send two such letters to so bad a correspondent as I have been. God bless you for writing so kindly and affectionately; if it is a pleasure to have friends in England, it is doubly so to think and know that one is not forgotten because absent. This voyage is terribly long. I do so earnestly desire to return, yet I dare hardly look forward to the future, for I do not know what will become of me. Your situation is above envy: I do not venture even to frame such happy visions. To a person fit to take the office, the life of a clergyman is a type of all that is respectable and happy. You tempt me by talking of your fireside, whereas it is a sort of scene I never ought to think about. I saw the other day a vessel sail for England; it was quite dangerous to know how easily I might turn deserter. As for an English lady, I have almost forgotten what she is—something very angelic and good. As for the women in these countries, they wear caps and petticoats, and a very few have pretty faces, and then all is said. But if we are not wrecked on some unlucky reef, I will sit by that same fireside in Vale Cottage and tell some of the wonderful stories, which you seem to anticipate and, I presume, are not very ready to believe. Gracias a dios, the prospect of such times is rather shorter than formerly.

From this most wretched 'City of the Kings' we sail in a fortnight, from thence to Guayaquil, Galapagos, Marquesas, Society Islands, etc., etc. I look forward to the Galapagos with more interest than any other part of the voyage. They abound with active volcanoes, and, I should hope, contain Tertiary strata. I am glad to hear you have some thoughts of beginning Geology. I hope you will; there is so much larger a field for thought than in the other branches of Natural History. I am become a zealous disciple of Mr. Lyell's views, as known in his admirable book. Geologising in South America, I am tempted to carry parts to a greater extent even than he does. Geology is a capital science to begin, as it requires nothing but a little reading, thinking, and hammering. I have a considerable body of notes together; but it is a constant subject of perplexity to me, whether they are of sufficient value for all the time I have spent about them, or whether animals would not have been of more certain value.

I shall indeed be glad once again to see you and tell you how grateful I feel for your steady friendship. God bless you, my very dear Fox.

Believe me, Yours affectionately, CHAS. DARWIN.

CHARLES DARWIN TO J.S. HENSLOW. Sydney, January, 1836.

My dear Henslow,

This is the last opportunity of communicating with you before that joyful day when I shall reach Cambridge. I have very little to say: but I must write if it is only to express my joy that the last year is concluded, and that the present one, in which the "Beagle" will return, is gliding onwards. We have all been disappointed here in not finding even a single letter; we are, indeed, rather before our expected time, otherwise, I dare say, I should have seen your handwriting. I must feed upon the future, and it is beyond bounds delightful to feel the certainty that within eight months I shall be residing once again most quietly in Cambridge. Certainly, I never was intended for a traveller; my thoughts are always rambling over past or future scenes; I cannot enjoy the present happiness for anticipating the future, which is about as foolish as the dog who dropped the real bone for its shadow....

In our passage across the Pacific we only touched at Tahiti and New Zealand; at neither of these places or at sea had I much opportunity of working. Tahiti is a most charming spot. Everything which former navigators have written is true. 'A new Cytheraea has risen from the ocean.' Delicious scenery, climate, manners of the people are all in harmony. It is, moreover, admirable to behold what the missionaries both here and at New Zealand have effected. I firmly believe they are good men working for the sake of a good cause. I much suspect that those who have abused or sneered at the missionaries have generally been such as were not very anxious to find the natives moral and intelligent beings. During the remainder of our voyage we shall only visit places generally acknowledged as civilised, and nearly all under the British flag. These will be a poor field for Natural History, and without it I have lately discovered that the pleasure of seeing new places is as nothing. I must return to my old resource and think of the future, but that I may not become more prosy, I will say farewell till the day arrives, when I shall see my Master in Natural History, and can tell him how grateful I feel for his kindness and friendship.

Believe me, dear Henslow, Ever yours, most faithfully, CHAS. DARWIN.

CHARLES DARWIN TO MISS S. DARWIN. Bahia, Brazil, August 4 [1836].

My dear Susan,

I will just write a few lines to explain the cause of this letter being dated on the coast of South America. Some singular disagreements in the longitudes made Captain Fitz-Roy anxious to complete the circle in the southern hemisphere, and then retrace our steps by our first line to England. This zigzag manner of proceeding is very grievous; it has put the finishing stroke to my feelings. I loathe, I abhor the sea and all ships which sail on it. But I yet believe we shall reach England in the latter half of October. At Ascension I received Catherine's letter of October, and yours of November; the letter at the Cape was of a later date, but letters of all sorts are inestimable treasures, and I thank you both for them. The desert, volcanic rocks, and wild sea of Ascension, as soon as I knew there was news from home, suddenly wore a pleasing aspect, and I set to work with a good-will at my old work of Geology. You would be surprised to know how entirely the pleasure in arriving at a new place depends on letters. We only stayed four days at Ascension, and then made a very good passage to Bahia.

I little thought to have put my foot on South American coast again. It has been almost painful to find how much good enthusiasm has been evaporated during the last four years. I can now walk soberly through a Brazilian forest; not but what it is exquisitely beautiful, but now, instead of seeking for splendid contrasts, I compare the stately mango trees with the horse-chestnuts of England. Although this zigzag has lost us at least a fortnight, in some respects I am glad of it. I think I shall be able to carry away one vivid picture of inter-tropical scenery. We go from hence to the Cape de Verds; that is, if the winds or the Equatorial calms will allow us. I have some faint hopes that a steady foul wind might induce the Captain to proceed direct to the Azores. For which most untoward event I heartily pray.

Both your letters were full of good news; especially the expressions which you tell me Professor Sedgwick used about my collections. I confess they are deeply gratifying—I trust one part at least will turn out true, and that I shall act as I now think—as a man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life. Professor Sedgwick mentioning my name at all gives me hopes that he will assist me with his advice, of which, in my geological questions, I stand much in need. It is useless to tell you from the shameful state of this scribble that I am writing against time, having been out all morning, and now there are some strangers on board to whom I must go down and talk civility. Moreover, as this letter goes by a foreign ship, it is doubtful whether it will ever arrive. Farewell, my very dear Susan and all of you. Good-bye.


CHARLES DARWIN TO J.S. HENSLOW. St. Helena, July 9, 1836.

My dear Henslow,

I am going to ask you to do me a favour. I am very anxious to belong to the Geological Society. I do not know, but I suppose it is necessary to be proposed some time before being ballotted for; if such is the case, would you be good enough to take the proper preparatory steps? Professor Sedgwick very kindly offered to propose me before leaving England, if he should happen to be in London. I dare say he would yet do so.

I have very little to write about. We have neither seen, done, or heard of anything particular for a long time past; and indeed if at present the wonders of another planet could be displayed before us, I believe we should unanimously exclaim, what a consummate plague. No schoolboys ever sung the half sentimental and half jovial strain of 'dulce domum' with more fervour, than we all feel inclined to do. But the whole subject of 'dulce domum,' and the delight of seeing one's friends, is most dangerous, it must infallibly make one very prosy or very boisterous. Oh, the degree to which I long to be once again living quietly with not one single novel object near me! No one can imagine it till he has been whirled round the world during five long years in a ten-gun-brig. I am at present living in a small house (amongst the clouds) in the centre of the island, and within stone's throw of Napoleon's tomb. It is blowing a gale of wind with heavy rain and wretchedly cold; if Napoleon's ghost haunts his dreary place of confinement, this would be a most excellent night for such wandering spirits. If the weather chooses to permit me, I hope to see a little of the Geology (so often partially described) of the island. I suspect that differently from most volcanic islands its structure is rather complicated. It seems strange that this little centre of a distinct creation should, as is asserted, bear marks of recent elevation.

The "Beagle" proceeds from this place to Ascension, then to the Cape de Verds (what miserable places!) to the Azores to Plymouth, and then to home. That most glorious of all days in my life will not, however, arrive till the middle of October. Some time in that month you will see me at Cambridge, where I must directly come to report myself to you, as my first Lord of the Admiralty. At the Cape of Good Hope we all on board suffered a bitter disappointment in missing nine months' letters, which are chasing us from one side of the globe to the other. I dare say amongst them there was a letter from you; it is long since I have seen your handwriting, but I shall soon see you yourself, which is far better. As I am your pupil, you are bound to undertake the task of criticising and scolding me for all the things ill done and not done at all, which I fear I shall need much; but I hope for the best, and I am sure I have a good if not too easy taskmaster.

At the Cape Captain Fitz-Roy and myself enjoyed a memorable piece of good fortune in meeting Sir J. Herschel. We dined at his house and saw him a few times besides. He was exceedingly good natured, but his manners at first appeared to me rather awful. He is living in a very comfortable country house, surrounded by fir and oak trees, which alone in so open a country, give a most charming air of seclusion and comfort. He appears to find time for everything; he showed us a pretty garden full of Cape bulbs of his own collecting, and I afterwards understood that everything was the work of his own hands...I am very stupid, and I have nothing more to say; the wind is whistling so mournfully over the bleak hills, that I shall go to bed and dream of England.

Goodnight, my dear Henslow, Yours most truly obliged and affectionately, CHAS. DARWIN.

CHARLES DARWIN TO J.S. HENSLOW. Shrewsbury, Thursday, October 6, [1836].

My dear Henslow,

I am sure you will congratulate me on the delight of once again being home. The "Beagle" arrived at Falmouth on Sunday evening, and I reached Shrewsbury yesterday morning. I am exceedingly anxious to see you, and as it will be necessary in four or five days to return to London to get my goods and chattels out of the "Beagle", it appears to me my best plan to pass through Cambridge. I want your advice on many points; indeed I am in the clouds, and neither know what to do or where to go. My chief puzzle is about the geological specimens—who will have the charity to help me in describing their mineralogical nature? Will you be kind enough to write to me one line by RETURN OF POST, saying whether you are now at Cambridge? I am doubtful till I hear from Captain Fitz-Roy whether I shall not be obliged to start before the answer can arrive, but pray try the chance. My dear Henslow, I do long to see you; you have been the kindest friend to me that ever man possessed. I can write no more, for I am giddy with joy and confusion.

Farewell for the present, Yours most truly obliged, CHARLES DARWIN.

CHARLES DARWIN TO R. FITZ-ROY. Shrewsbury, Thursday morning, October 6, [1836].

My dear Fitz-Roy,

I arrived here yesterday morning at breakfast time, and, thank God, found all my dear good sisters and father quite well. My father appears more cheerful and very little older than when I left. My sisters assure me I do not look the least different, and I am able to return the compliment. Indeed, all England appears changed excepting the good old town of Shrewsbury and its inhabitants, which, for all I can see to the contrary, may go on as they now are to Doomsday. I wish with all my heart I was writing to you amongst your friends instead of at that horrid Plymouth. But the day will soon come, and you will be as happy as I now am. I do assure you I am a very great man at home; the five years' voyage has certainly raised me a hundred per cent. I fear such greatness must experience a fall.

I am thoroughly ashamed of myself in what a dead-and-half-alive state I spent the few last days on board; my only excuse is that certainly I was not quite well. The first day in the mail tired me, but as I drew nearer to Shrewsbury everything looked more beautiful and cheerful. In passing Gloucestershire and Worcestershire I wished much for you to admire the fields, woods, and orchards. The stupid people on the coach did not seem to think the fields one bit greener than usual; but I am sure we should have thoroughly agreed that the wide world does not contain so happy a prospect as the rich cultivated land of England.

I hope you will not forget to send me a note telling me how you go on. I do indeed hope all your vexations and trouble with respect to our voyage, which we now know HAS an end, have come to a close. If you do not receive much satisfaction for all the mental and bodily energy you have expended in His Majesty's service, you will be most hardly treated. I put my radical sisters into an uproar at some of the prudent (if they were not honest Whigs, I would say shabby) proceedings of our Government. By the way, I must tell you for the honour and glory of the family that my father has a large engraving of King George IV. put up in his sitting-room. But I am no renegade, and by the time we meet my politics will be as firmly fixed and as wisely founded as ever they were.

I thought when I began this letter I would convince you what a steady and sober frame of mind I was in. But I find I am writing most precious nonsense. Two or three of our labourers yesterday immediately set to work and got most excessively drunk in honour of the arrival of Master Charles. Who then shall gainsay if Master Charles himself chooses to make himself a fool. Good-bye. God bless you! I hope you are as happy, but much wiser, than your most sincere but unworthy philosopher,


About HackerNoon Book Series: We bring you the most important technical, scientific, and insightful public domain books.

This book is part of the public domain. Charles Darwin (2000). Life and Letters of Charles Darwin — Volume 1. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved October 2022, from

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at, located at