During the past two months CD has been lucky with fossil bones, and he is also finding new specimens of living animals.
He describes an ostrich hunt.
Has received several letters from home.
He enjoys Buenos Aires and admires the señoritas. Tierra del Fuego is next.
My dear Caroline
We are now October 24
This second cruize will be a very long one; during it we settle the Fuegians & probably survey the Falklands islands: After this is over (it is an aweful long time to talk about) we return to M Video: pick up our officers & then round the Horn & once more enter the glorious, delicious inter tropical seas.— I find the peep of Tropical scenery, has given me a tenfold wish to see more: it is no exaggeration to say, no one can know how beautiful the world, we inhabit is, who has only been in the colder climes.— The chief source of pleasure has been to me, during these two months, from Nat: History.— I have been wonderfully lucky, with fossil bones.— some of the animals must have been of great dimensions: I am almost sure that many of them are quite new; this is always pleasant, but with the antediluvian animals it is doubly so.— I found parts of the curious osseous coat, which is attributed to the Megatherium; as the only specimens in Europe are at Madrid (originally in 1798 from Buenos Ayres) this alone is enough to repay some wearisome minutes.— Amongst living animals I have not been less fortunate:— I also had in September some good sporting; I shot one day a fine buck & doe: but in this line, I never enjoyed anything so much as Ostrich hunting with the wild Soldiers, who are more than half Indians.— They catch them, by throwing two balls, which are attached to the ends of a thong, so as to entangle their legs: it was a fine animated chace.— They found the same day 64 of their eggs:—
It is now nearly four months, since I have received a letter, so you may imagine how anxious I am for for tomorrow morning: We are all very curious about politicks; all that we know is that the bill is past; but whether there is a King or a republic according to the Captain, remains to be proved.—
Monte Video:— I have just received your letter of June 28, &
Susans of May 12
On Monday we run up to Buenos Ayres, as the Captain wants to commu- nicate with the government.— we shall stay there for a week I intend to have some good gallops over the Pampas.— I suppose you all well know Heads book.— for accuracy & animation it is beyond praise. After returning here, we stay another week, & then for Terra del.— This second cruize will I suppose last between 6 & 9 months; so make up your minds for a gap in my correspondence but not in yours:— You need be in no fears about directions: till told to alter; merely put S America: all letters for HM ships pass through the Flag ship, which knows where to send to all on the station.— Although my letters do not tell much of my proceedings I continue steadily writing the journal; in proof of which the number on the page now is 250.—
We are now Novemb: 11. beating down the river to Monte Video.— We
stayed a week at Buenos Ayres. I much enjoyed this long cruize on shore. The
city is a fine large one: but the country beyond everything stupid.— I saw a
good deal of M
Hurrah, (Nov 24
- f1 188.f1CD is referring here to the country between Cape San Antonio and Bahia Blanca in the southern part of La Plata province. The province of Patagonia did not extend north beyond the Rio Colorado.
- f2 188.f2Robert FitzRoy paid for the hire of the two boats, the Liebre and Paz, out of his own pocket. His hope that the Admiralty would reimburse him was disappointed. See Mellersh 1968, pp. 104, 130--2 and Narrative 2: 109--11.
- f3 188.f3At Punta Alta, near Bahia Blanca, CD had uncovered fossil bones of the Megatherium, a giant ground sloth, and several hitherto undescribed extinct mammals (see `Beagle' diary, pp. 102--7). They were later named and described by Richard Owen for Fossil Mammalia. Although CD was aware that many of his South American fossils were new, his identifications were inevitably vague and sometimes mistaken, as when he failed to distinguish Megatherium from other edentate forms later described by Owen as Toxodon, Mylodon, and Glossotherium.
- f4 188.f4The naturalists of the time thought Megatherium had dorsal armour—an error that apparently originated with Georges Cuvier, who had named and described it (in Cuvier 1812) from the Madrid bones referred to by CD (see Judd 1911, p. 9). The osseous coat belonged to Glyptodon, related to the modern armadillo.
- f5 188.f5At the time, CD wrote in his `Zoological diary': `In one days hunting 64 were found; 44 of these were in two nests—the other 20 [interl] scattered about.— It seems strange that so many *of the latter [interl] should be produced for no end.' (DAR 30.2: 112).
- f6 188.f6Head 1826.
- f7 188.f7Lieutenant Robert Nicholas Hamond, who had been a ship-mate of FitzRoy's in the Thetis, was transferred to the Beagle at Montevideo from the Druid, of which he was Mate. Shortly after CD's death, Hamond wrote to Francis Darwin the following hitherto unpublished reminiscence: `I have the most pleasant and happy recollections of your father during the short intercourse I had with him while in the Beagle, from the fact of his having joined with me in a request to the Chaplain of Buenos Ayres, where we were then staying to have the Sacrament of the Lords Supper administered to us, previous to going to Tierra del Fuego— We were both then young and looked on that Ordinance as many young did, and do, as I suppose they do now as a sort of vow to lead a better life. Our request met with so cold a response and the necessity put on us of engaging others to come with us; that our purpose was not carried out, but it shewed a disposition of mind I was glad to dwell on— Of course this was too delicate a passage in life to mention in public.' (DAR 112: 54).