On fossils ([Megatherium], etc.), plants, shells sent and new ones found; geological observations. Asks for help in understanding cleavage and planes of deposition.
A new species of ostrich. Cites differences in size, colour, nidification, and geographical distribution.
E. Falkland Is
My dear Henslow
Upon our arrival at this place I was delighted at receiving your letter dated Aug. 31.— Nothing for a long time has given me so much pleasure. Independent of this pleasure, your account of the safe arrival of my second cargo & that some of the Specimens were interesting, has been, as you may well suppose, most highly satisfactory to me.—
I am quite astonished that such miserable fragments of the Megatherium should have been
worth all the trouble M
shape like this [DIAGRAM HERE]
.— I am curious to know to what it belongs.—
Shortly before I left M: Video I bought far up in the country for two shillings a head
of a Megatherium which must have been when found quite perfect.— The Gauchos
however broke the teeth & lost the lower jaw, but the lower & internal
parts are tolerably perfect: It is now, I hope, on the high seas in pursuit of
me.— It is a most flattering encouragement to find Men, like M
I am very glad the plants give you any pleasure; I do assure you I was so ashamed of
them, I had a great mind to throw them away; but if they give you any pleasure I am
indeed bound, & will pledge myself to collect whenever we are in parts not often
visited by Ships & Collectors.— I collected all the plants, which were
in flower on the coast of Patagonia at Port Desire & St. Julian; also on the
Eastern parts of Tierra del Fuego, where the climate & features of T del Fuego
& Patagonia are united. With them there are as many seeds, as I could find (you
had better plant all y
In Tierra del Fuego I have been interested in finding some sort of Ammonite (also I believe found by Capt King) in the Slate near Port Famine; on the Eastern coast there are some curious alluvial plains, by which the existence of certain quadrupeds in the islands can clearly be accounted for.— There is a sandstone, with the impression of the leaves of the common Beech tree also modern shells, &c &c.— On the surface of which table land there are, as usual, muscles with their blue color &c.— This is the report of my geological section! to you my President & Master.— 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 & fossiliferous beds.— When puzzling about stratification &c, I feel inclined to cry a fig for your big oysters & 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 & what they do I cannot apply to what I see. In consequence I draw my own conclusions, & most gloriously ridiculous ones they are, I sometimes fancy I shall persuade myself there are no such things as mountains, which would be a very original discovery to make in Tierra del Fuego.— Can you throw any light into my mind, by telling me what relation cleavage & 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, & I think are quite undescribed, there was one appalling one, allied to a Flustra which I daresay I mentioned having found to the Northward, where the cells have a moveable organ (like a Vultures 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 & Indians state it is the case: & I place the greatest faith in their observations.— I have head, neck, piece of skin, feathers, & legs of one. The differences are chiefly in color of feathers & scales on legs, being feathered below the knees; nidification & 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 whiteheaded old gentlemen.—
I have to thank you most cordially for sending me the Books.— I am now reading the Oxford Report.— 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, & 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 & harder blows. I hope, to give my arm 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 & 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 & 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 & seeds).—
Remember me to all my Cambridge friends.— I love & treasure up every recollection of dear old Cambridge.—
I am much obliged to you for putting my name down to poor Rams<ay's> Monument— I never think of him, without the warmest admiration.— Farewell my dear Henslow—believe my your most obliged & affectionate friend. Charles Darwin.—
N.B. What I have said about the numbers attached to the fossils, applies to every part of my collections.— Videlicet. Colors of all the Fish: habits of birds &c &c
There is no opportunity of sending a Cargo: I only send this, with the seeds, some of
which I hope may grow, & show the nature of the plants far better than my
Herbarium. They go through Capt. Beaufort: Give M
The Box of fossil remains, to which I have alluded is with D
- f1 238.f1The following passages from this letter were extracted by Henslow and published in the Cambridge Philosophical Society pamphlet:
2.2 `I have … preserved.' 2.9; 2.7 omits `now' before `peculiar' 4.4 `I collected … united.' 4.7 4.9 `The soil … color &c.' 5.7; 4.13 omits`?'; 5.5 `leaves of' changed to `leaves like' 6.1 `I have chiefly … distribution.' 6.12; 6.2 `by examining' changed to `and examining'; 6.8 `Rhea' changed to `ostrea'; 6.11 `& scales on legs, being feathered' changed to `and scales; in the legs being feathered'
- f2 238.f2See letter to J. S. Henslow, 12 November 1833, n. 3.
- f3 238.f3It was not a Mastodon but a hitherto unknown extinct llama- or camel-like pachyderm, which Richard Owen named Macrauchenia patachonica (see Fossil Mammalia, pp. 35--56, and South America, pp. 95--6). The bones of CD's specimen are in the British Museum (Natural History).
- f4 238.f4For CD's notes and observations on this species see `Ornithological notes', pp. 273--4, and Red notebook, pp. 127, 130, 153. The new species was named Rhea darwinii by John Gould in 1837. See Collected papers 1: 38--40.
- f5 238.f5One of them may have been the third volume of Lyell's Principles of geology (1833). CD first mentions having received it in his letter to Henslow of 24 July 1834, but the context suggests that it had arrived before the expedition up the Santa Cruz River, which was made following this visit to the Falklands. CD's copy in Darwin Library--CUL is inscribed only `C. Darwin', with no date.
- f6 238.f6The Report of the second meeting of the British Association at Oxford in 1832.
- f7 238.f7Adam Sedgwick was elected President for the Cambridge meeting in 1833.
- f8 238.f8There is no record that CD received it, though it was almost certainly sent to him. In the Darwin Library--CUL there is a pamphlet of lithographed signatures of the members of the British Association who met at Cambridge, with a report of the proceedings of the public meetings, in `Philosophical tracts', vol. 2 (a bound quarto volume of miscellaneous printed papers).
- f9 238.f9See `Beagle' diary, p. 209.
- f10 238.f10Whewell 1833.