Longs to be on the other side of the Horn; tired of these countries. Natural history makes him continue. He now knows it will remain his favourite pursuit for the rest of his life.
Comments on slavery.
Will have additional space on board and a servant [Syms Covington] who will help him with the collection of birds and quadrupeds.
Asks for books, a lens, and four pairs of shoes.
Maldonado. Rio Plata
My dear Catherine
Thanks to my good fortune & my good sisters I have to acknowledge the following
string of letters: (August I received many months ago:)
My last folio letter was dated on the sea; after being disappointed at the Rio Negro.— the same foul winds & ill fate followed me to Maldonado; so that the Beagle proceeded direct to M: Video.— Here we remained only one night, when I received your four first letters: I really had not time to open & alter my letter, but sent it, as it was.— Leaving M: Video we came directly to Maldonado.— I the next day took up my residence on shore.— The Beagle has not yet returned (for she went again there) from M: Video, & I know nothing of our future plans: the purchase of the Schooner has so altered every thing. I have been living here for the last three weeks; it is quiet little village, surrounded on all sides by the endless succession of green turf hills & stony ridges.— I have had one little excursion which I enjoyed very much; I procured two trust-worthy men & a troop of horses & have had a 12 days ride into the interior.— the country continues very similar; so that one dreadfully misses the gorgeous views of Brazil.— I saw however a good deal of the Gauchos; a singular race of countrymen.— ``Heads gallop'' gives a most faithful picture; nothing can, I think, be more spirited & just than his remarks.—
Besides your letters I received several others.—one from Charlotte:
2 from Fox: also one of the very kindest I ever received in my life time, from
I most devoutly trust that next summer (your winter) will be the last on this side of the Horn: for I am become throughily tired of these countries: a live Megatherium would hardly support my patience: the good people of Shropshire, who say I shall find cruizing in the South-seas stupid work, know very little of the numberless invertibrate animals, which abound in the inter-tropical ocean.— If it was not for these & still more for geology—I would in short time make a bolt across the Atlantic to good old Shropshire.— In for penny, in for pound.— I have worked very hard (at least for me) at Nat History & have collected many animals & observed many geological phenomena: & I think it would be a pity having gone so far, not to go on & do all in my power in this my favourite pursuit; & which I am sure, will remain so for the rest of my life.—
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:—& 2
June:— I have just received a bundle more letters.— I do not know
how to thank you all sufficiently:—one from Catherine
How famously the Ministers appear to be going on I always much enjoy political <goss>ip, & what you, at home think will &c &c take place.— I steadily read up the weekly Paper: but it is not sufficient to guides one opinion: & I find it a very painful state not to be as obstinate as a pig in politicks. 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 Europæan 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 Negros character.— it is impossible to see a negro & not feel kindly towards him; such cheerful, open honest expressions & 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; & 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 titles) who has large salary to prevent (I believe) th<e> landing of slaves: he lives at Botofogo, & yet that was the <b>ay, 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 some of the lower English.—
June [July] 6
Give my love to my Father & Erasmus & all of you: God bless you all.— | My dear Katty: Your most affectionately, | Chas. Darwin.—
P.S.— When you read this I am afraid you will think that I am like the
Midshipman in Persuasion who never wrote home, excepting when he wanted to beg: it is
chiefly for more books; those most valuable of all valuable things: ``Flemings
philosophy of Zoology'' & Pennants Quadrupeds'' these I have at home: ``Davys
consolation in Travel'': ``Scoresby Arctic regions'': ``Playfairs Hutton, theory of the
earth'' ``Burchells travels'' ``Paul Scrope on Volcanoes'' a pamphlet by
``J. Dalyell Observations on the Planariæ, Edinburgh'' Caldcleugh
travels in S America.— If any of these books are expensive, strike them out:
Tell Erasmus I shall be very much obliged if with my Fathers consent he will undertake
this commission. If the 8
I guess, as the Yankys say, this a pretty considerable tarnation impudent Postcript: I have no doubt, Capt Beaufort will undertake to foreward the box to Valparaiso:—
- f1 206.f1Syms Covington, `Fiddler and Boy to the Poop cabin', became CD's servant and remained with him as assistant, secretary, and servant until 1839, when he migrated to Australia.
- f2 206.f23s. 6d., a considerable sum, was the postage for a letter to South America. Presumably CD means that a post office clerk—away from home, where the family was known—would be tempted to destroy the letter and pocket the fee.
- f3 206.f3Burchell 1822--4, Caldcleugh 1825, Dalyell 1814, Davy 1830, Fleming 1822, Pennant 1781, Playfair 1802, Scoresby 1820, and Scrope 1825. No eighth volume of Humboldt's Personal narrative was ever published (see letter from E. A. Darwin, 18 August , n. 3). No geological work by Sedgwick and Conybeare was published. Annotated copies of Fleming 1822 and Playfair 1802, and an unannotated Pennant (3d edition, 1793) are in the Darwin Library--CUL. Unannotated copies of Burchell 1822--4, Scoresby 1820, and Scrope 1825 are in the Darwin Library--Down. CD's copies of Caldcleugh 1825, Dalyell 1814, and Davy 1830 have not been found. Playfair and Caldcleugh were used by CD in the Beagle. Fleming and Pennant were sent to him from Shrewsbury and were probably used on board the Beagle, but there is no corroborating evidence, either in the books themselves or in CD's notes.
- f4 206.f4CD's measurements were sometimes improvised and approximate. For weighing he balanced with his water flask and for more refined weights used bullets and pellets; e.g., `Big rat weighs flask with water, without bottom 2 bullets, 4 pellets' (Voyage, p. 183).
- f5 206.f5A kind of match. `I carried with me some promethean matches, which I ignited by biting; it was thought so wonderful that a man should strike fire with his teeth, that it was usual to collect the whole family to see it: I was once offered a dollar for a single one' (Journal of researches, p. 47).