In the past six months he has done much geology and natural history. His geological pursuits are a source of high pleasure. Has lately determined to work chiefly on corals.
Spent three weeks going up the Santa Cruz with a party; they ran out of provisions 20 miles from the Cordilleras. Winter at present prevents his doing much natural history.
a hundred miles South of Valparaiso.
Sunday.— July 20
My dear Catherine.
Being at sea & the weather fine, I will begin a letter, which shall be finished
when we arrive in Port.— I have received the whole series of letters up to
yours of November, 1833.— I wrote last from the Falkland Is
Altogether the last six months since leaving the Plata, has been a most prosperous cruize.— Much as I detest the Southern Latitudes, I have been enabled, during this period to do so much in Geology & Natural History, that I look back to Tierra del Fuego with grateful & almost kindly feelings. You ask me about the specimens which I send to Cambridge I collect every living creature, which I have time to catch & preserve; also some plants.— Amongst Animals, on principle I have lately determined to work chiefly amongst the Zoophites or Coralls: it is an enormous branch of the organized world; very little known or arranged & abounding with most curious, yet simple, forms of structures.—
But to go on with our history; when I wrote from the Falklands we were on the point of
sailing for the S. Cruz on the coast of Patagonia.— We there looked
So much for the past; our future plans are as yet very uncertain: After Valparaiso, we shall go to Coquimbo to refit.— Here the climate is fine, but every thing else bad; the desert of Peru may be said to extend so far South; where man-kind is only enticed to live by the richer metals.— Next summer there is a good deal of work to be done behind & around Chiloe; how far I shall accompany the vessels I do not yet know.—
Amongst all the things you & Susan have told me in the last letters; you do not ever mention Erasmus; I hope the good lazy old Gentleman is alive; tell him, I should like very much to have one more letter from him; perhaps the box will bring one: if he would write to me four letters during the whole voyage, I would not grumble at all.— As for all of you, you are the best correspondents a brother, 3000 miles off, ever had.— I wish you could inspire Erasmus with a little of the superabundance of your virtues.— I am afraid he thinks your stock is sufficient for the whole family.— I am much pleased to hear my Father likes my Journal: as is easy to be seen I have taken too little pains with it.— My geological notes & descriptions of animals I treat with far more attention: from knowing so little of Natural History, when I left England, I am constantly in doubt whether these will have any value.— I have however found the geology of these countries so different from what I read about Europe, & in consequence when compared with it so instructive to myself; that I cannot help hoping that even imperfect descriptions may be of some general utility.—
Of one thing, I am sure; that such pursuits, are sources of the very highest pleasures I am capable of enjoying.— Tell my Father also, how much obliged I am for the affectionate way he speaks about my having a servant. It has made a great difference in my comfort; there is a standing order, in the Ship, that no one, excepting in civilized ports, leaves the vessel by himself By thus having a constant companion, I am rendered much more independent, in that most dependent of all lives, a life on board.— My servant is an odd sort of person; I do not very much like him; but he is, perhaps from his very oddity, very well adapted to all my purposes.
Valparaiso is a sort of London or Paris, to any place we have been to.— it is most disagreeable to be obliged to shave & dress decently.— We shall stay here two months, instead of going North-ward, during which time the ship will be refitted & all hands refreshed. You cannot imagine how delightfull the climate feels to all of us, so dry, warm & cheerful: it is not here as in T. del Fuego where one fine day, makes one fear the next will be twice as bad as usual.— The scenery wears such a different aspect, I can sit on the hills & watch the setting sun brighten the Andes, as at Barmouth we used to look at Cader-Idris.— The time of year, being now winter, is very unfortunate for me, it is quite hopeless to penetrate the Cordilleras; There is a mountain, near here, at Quillota, 4700 feet high. I am going in a few days to try to ascend it; I fear however the snow will be too thick. R. Corfield is living here, I cannot tell you how very obliging & kind he is to me.— He has a very nice house & before long I am going on shore to pay him a visit; he presses me most goodnaturedly to make his house my headquarters.—
I have had some long & pleasant walks in the country; I am afraid it is not a very good place for Natural History; after my first ride I shall know more about it. I have received two letters from Henslow, he tells me my treasures have arrived safe & I am highly delighted at what he says about their value.— What work I shall have, when I return; there will be a glorious mass of what Wickham calls d— —d beastly devilment. Although Wickham always was growling at my bringing more dirt on board than any ten men, he is a great loss to me in the Beagle. He is far the most conversible being on board, I do not mean talks the most, for in that respect Sulivan quite bears away the palm. Our new artist, who joined us at M. Video, is a pleasant sort of person, rather too much of the drawing-master about him; he i<s> very unlike to Earles eccentric character.—
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, which of
course he has as much right to do, as a gamekeeper to shoot Partridges on the first of
September.— When I began this long straggling
letter, I had intended to have sent it per Admiralty; but now it must be sent by
Liverpool, so there will be double postage to pay.— Thank most affectionately
those good dear ladies, Sarah W. & Fanny B: I am very sorry to find I have lost
the second of M
Give my best love to my Father, Erasmus & each of the Sisterhood.— Dear Katty, Your most affectionate brother | Charles Darwin
There are several good dear people, whom I should like much to write to, but at present I really have not the time. Thank Fanny for her nice, goodnatured note; I have just re-read it. The sight of her hand writing is enough alone to make me long for this voyage to come to some end.—
- f1 248.f1George Proctor, a fellow student at Christ's College. His uncle, Robert Proctor, had lived and travelled in Peru and Chile in 1823--4. (See Proctor 1825, of which a copy, signed `C. Darwin' on the inside front cover, is in Christ's College Library, Cambridge. There is no evidence that CD had it on board the Beagle.)
- f2 248.f2CD's account is in Chapter X of Journal of researches. Robert FitzRoy read a paper about the expedition at the Royal Geographical Society on 8 May 1837 (FitzRoy 1837).
- f3 248.f3Five lines of the manuscript (`tell her … journal') have been deleted in black ink, presumably by one of CD's sisters.
- f4 248.f4A reference to the speculation and fraud of the famous `South Sea Bubble' of the early eighteenth century.
- f5 248.f5Richard Henry Corfield attended Shrewsbury School, 1816--19; CD entered in 1818 (Shrewsbury School Register). Corfield's letters to CD, 26--7 June 1835 and 14--18 July 1835, indicate that he was engaged in trading or shipping business at Valparaiso.
- f6 248.f6John Clements Wickham had been placed in command of the Adventure by FitzRoy shortly after he bought her in March 1833.
- f7 248.f7The opening day of the English shooting season.