Describes Patagonia and its inhabitants.
Writes of his pleasure in geology.
Predicts that Falklands will become an "important halting place". Outlines Beagle's future itinerary.
East Falkland Is
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.— I have received your letter dated Sept 27
There is nothing like geology; the pleasure of the first days partridge shooting or
first days hunting cannot be compared to finding a fine group of fossil bones, which
tell their story of former times with almost a living tongue. After entering the
Jemmy & his wife paddled away in their canoe loaded with presents & 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 & Jemmy's wife come''.—``give me knife'' &c 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 & plundered all the Englishmen whom they could catch & some of their own country men.— 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 & leave to protect it a Union jack; the possessor has been of course 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, & by their assistance & the treachery of some of the party, the murderers have all been taken.—their 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 & South sea to England. Between Chili Peru &c & the R. Plata & R. de Janeiro.— There are fine harbors, plenty of fresh water & good beef: it would doubtlessly produce the coarser vegetables. In other respects it is a wretched place: a little time since I rode across the island & returned, in four days: my excursion would have been longer: but during the whole time it blew a gale of wind with hail & snow; there is no fire wood bigger than Heath & the whole country is a more or less an elastic peat bog.— Sleeping out at night was too miserable work to endure it for all the rocks in S. America.—
We shall leave this scene of iniquity in two or three days & go to the Rio de
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.
And now for some queries.— Have you received a small square deal box, with part of my Journal, sent from the Plata in July 1833 (through Capt. Beaufort) Acknowledge it in more than one letter: recollect what a bobbery (a sea phrase) I made about the other parcel.— I received a box with some delightful books & letter from Henslow: did Erasmus send it? there was not even a list of the books & I know not whom to thank. There is a Hon. Col. Walpole, consul-general at St Jago de Chili.— Have I not heard of some such man at Walcot?— What sort of person is he?—
I do not recollect anything more to say: not having any apologetical messages about money, is nearly as odd a feature in my letters, as it would have <been> in Dick Musgrove's.— I am afraid it will be, till we cross the Pacific, a solitary exception.
Remember me most affectionately to all the Owens tell dear Fanny I do not how to thank her, at this distance, for remembering me.— 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 & 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 every thing is going on.— But it would only have been a transcript of this letter, & I have a host of animals, at this minute, surrounding me, which all require embalming & 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 Katty to you & all y
My love to Nancy. 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.—
I have enclosed a letter of my servants will you pay the postage & forward it:
by being my servant, he looses the penny priviledge & his friends cannot afford
- f1 242.f1Magellan is said to have named the people of this region Patagones when he observed gigantic footprints in the sand (Narrative 2: 133--4).
- f2 242.f2Pedro Sarmiento had established a Spanish colony of 400 at the head of the Straits of Magellan in 1584. The name `Port Famine' was given by Thomas Cavendish in 1587 when he found the starving colonists during his circumnavigation of the globe (1587--8) (see DNB, `Thomas Cavendish').
- f3 242.f3In `Beagle' diary, p. 214, CD wrote: `A mountain which the Captain has done me the honour to call by my name, has been determined by angular measurement to be the highest in Tierra del Fuego, above 7000 feet & therefore higher than M. Sarmiento.' Robert FitzRoy (Narrative 2: 215--16) is less certain, `as the measurements obtained did not rest upon satisfactory data'. He gives its height (in a `Table of remarkable heights', ibid. Appendix, pp. 301--3) as 6800 ft and Mt Sarmiento as 6910 ft. In the Times atlas the heights are given, respectively, as 2135 m and 2300 m.
- f4 242.f4`Noise, noisy disturbance, ``row'' ' (OED).
- f5 242.f5BDR, p. 33, lists Lieutenant-Colonel Hon. John Walpole as Consul-General and Plenipotentiary at Santiago, Chile, but only for 1837--41. He was, however, certainly in residence when CD arrived in Santiago in August 1834 (see letter to Robert FitzRoy, [28 August 1834]).
- f6 242.f6See postscript of letter to Catherine Darwin, 22 May -- 14 July 1833.
- f7 242.f7At the upper left corner of the first page, the following appears, in another hand: `M
rs. Hewtson Camelford Cornwall'—the address to which Covington's letter was to be forwarded.