CD is excited by JSH's high opinion of his collections.
Discusses his notes and some new discoveries. Summary of events since leaving Falklands.
Geology of Patagonia.
Corallines at Tierra del Fuego convince him of artificiality of arrangement of their families by Lamarck and Cuvier.
Geological expedition in Andes, ending with serious illness. Specimens being sent.
My dear Henslow
A box has just arrived, in which are two of your most kind & affectionate
letters; you do not know how happy they have made me.— One is dated
It is rather late, but I will allude to some remarks in the Jan: letter: you advise me to send home duplicates of my notes; I have been aware of the advantage of doing so; but then at sea to this day, I am invariably sick, excepting on the finest days; at which times with pelagic animals around me, I could never bring myself to the task; on shore, the most prudent person, could hardly expect such a sacrifice of time.—
My notes are becoming bulky; I have about 600 small quarto pages full; about
half of this is Geology, the other imperfect descriptions of animals: with the latter I
make it a rule only to describe those parts, or facts, which cannot be seen, in
specimens in spirits. I keep my private Journal distinct from the above.— (N B this letter is a most untidy one, but my mind is untidy with
joy; it is your fault, so you must take the consequence). With respect to the
land Planariæ: unquestionably they are not Molluscous
animals: I read your letters last night, this morning I took a little walk; by a curious
coincidence I found a new white species of Planaria & a (new to me) Vaginulus
From the Falklands, I acknowledged a box & letter from you; with the letter were a few seeds from Patagonia.— At present, I have specimens enough to make a heavy cargo, but shall wait as much longer as possible, because opportunities are not now so good as before.— I have just got scent of some fossil bones of a Mammoth!, what they may be, I do not know, but if gold or galloping will get them, they shall be mine. You tell me, you like hearing how I am going on & what doing; & you well may imagine how much I enjoy speaking to anyone upon sub-jects, which I am always thinking about, but never have any one to talk to with.—
After leaving the Falklands, we proceeded to the R. S. Cruz; followed
up the river till within 20 miles of the Cordilleras: Unfortunately want of
pro- visions compelled us to return. This expedition was most important to me, as it was
a transverse section of the great Patagonian formation.— I conjecture (an
accurate examination of fossils may possibly determine the point) that the main bed is
somewhere about the Meiocene period, (using M
The valley of S. Cruz appears to me a very curious one, at first it quite
baffled me.— I believe I can show good reasons for supposing it to have been
once a Northern St
In T. del Fuego I collected & examined some Corallines: I have observed one fact which quite startled me.— it is, that in the genus Sertularia, (taken in its most restricted form as by Lamouroux) & in 2 species which, excluding comparative expressions, I should find much difficulty in describing as different—the Polypi quite & essentially differed, in all their most important & evident parts of structure.— I have already seen enough to be convinced that the present families of Corallines, as arranged by Lamarck, Cuvier &c are highly artificial.— It appears they are in the same state, which shells were when Linnæus left them for Cuvier to rearrange.—
I do so wish I was a better hand at dissecting: I find I can do very little in the minute parts of structure; I am forced to take a very rough examination as a type for different classes of structure.—
It is most extraordinary I can no where see in my books one single description of the
polypus of any one Corall (excepting Lobularia alcyonium of Savigny) I found a curious little stony Cellaria (a new genus) each cell provided with
long toothed bristles, these are capable of various & rapid
motions,—this motion is often simultaneous & can be produced by
irritation.— this fact, as far as I see, is quite isolated in the history
(excepting by the Flustra with organ like Vultures Head) of Zoophites.— it
points out a much more intimate relation between the Polypi, than Lamarck is willing to
allow.— I forget, whether I mentioned, having seen something of the manner of
propagation, in that most ambiguous family, the Corallinas: I feel pretty well convinced
if they are not Plants, they are not Zoophites: the ``gemmule''
of a Halimeda contained several articulations united, & ready to burst their
envelope & become attached to some basis.— I believe in Zoophites,
universally the gemmule produces a single Polypus, which afterwards or at the same time
grows with its cell or single articulation.— The Beagle left the
I forgot to state, that in the four cargoes of specimens there have been sent 3 square boxes, each containing four glass bottles.— I mention this in case they should be stowed beneath geological specimens, & thus escape your notice perhaps some spirit may be wanted in them.— If a box arrives from B. Ayres, with Megatherium head & other unnumbered specimens: be kind enough to tell me; I have strong fears for its safety.—
We arrived here the day before yesterday; the views of the distant mountains are most sublime & the climate delightful; after our long cruize in the damp gloomy climates of the South, to breathe a clear, dry air, & feel honest warm sunshine, & eat good fresh roast beef must be the summum bonum of human life.— I do not like the looks of the rocks, half so much as the beef, there is too much of those rather insipid ingredients Mica, quartz & Feldspar.— Our plans are at present undecided.— there is a good deal of work to the South of Valparaiso & to the North an indefinite quantity.— I look forward to every part with interest. I have sent you in this letter a sad dose of egotism.—but recollect I look up to you as my father in Natural History, & a son may talk about himself, to his father.— In your paternal capacity, as pro-proctor what a great deal of trouble you appear to have had.— How turbulent Cambridge is become— Before this time it will have regained its tranquillity— I have a most school-boy like wish to be there, enjoying my Holidays.— It is a most comfortable reflection to me, that a ship being made of wood & iron, cannot last for ever & therefore this voyage must have an end.—
The conclusion of my excursion was very unfortunate, I became unwell & could hardly reach this place, I have been in bed for the last month, but am now rapidly getting well. I had hoped during this time to have made a good collection of insects &c but it has been impossible. I regret the less, because Chili fairly swarms with Collectors; there are more Naturalists in the country, than Carpenters or Shoemaker or any other honest trade.—
In my letter from the Falkland Is
We sail the day after tomorrow: our plans are at last limited & definite: I am delighted to say we have bid an eternal adieu to T. del Fuego.— The Beagle will not proceed further South than C. Tres Montes. From which point we survey to the North. The Chonos archipelago is delightfully unknown; fine deep inlets running into the Cordilleras, where we can steer by the light of a Volcano.— I do not know, which part of the voyage, now offers the most attractions.— This is a shamefully untidy letter, but you must forgive me & believe me | My dear Henslow | Yours most truly obliged | Charles Darwin *S 2
- f1 251.f1The following passages from this letter were extracted by Henslow and published in the Cambridge Philosophical Society pamphlet:
5.1 `After leaving … similar ones.' 5.15; 5.8 CD's `field' changed back to CD's del `mass'; 5.11 `period' changed to `various periods' and `(even numbers)' omitted by JSH 6.1 `The valley … Magellan.' 6.3 7.1 `In T. del Fuego … rearrange.' 7.9; 7.8 `to me, that' inserted after `appears' by JSH 9.1 `It is most extraordinary … Pitchstone.' 9.22; 9.17 `Narborough' incorrectly transcribed `Nasborough'; 9.22 `in parts' omitted 11.1 `We arrived … Feldspar.' 11.6 12.3 `shortly after … Tertiary period.—' 12.25; 12.12 `far more different' changed to `differ more widely'; 12.13 `formation' inserted after `Meiocene'; 12.22 `deep' omitted
- f2 251.f2The December letter has not been found.
- f3 251.f3On the records CD kept during the voyage see Appendix II.
- f4 251.f4See letter from J. S. Henslow, 15--21 January 1833.
- f5 251.f5Henslow marked this passage, 3.6 `With respect … Cuv: ' 3.11, for communication to the Cambridge Philosophical Society, but it was not reprinted in the pamphlet, possibly because he still felt CD to be mistaken about the land Planaria. CD described them in Journal of researches, pp. 30--1, and in more detail in a paper of 1844 (see Collected papers 1: 182--93).
- f6 251.f6Lyell first used the term `Miocene' in volume three of Principles of geology, p. 54.
- f7 251.f7Jean Vincent Félix Lamouroux. CD had with him Lamouroux 1821, a lightly annotated copy of which is in Darwin Library--CUL, inscribed `C. Darwin'.
- f8 251.f8Marie-Jules-César Lelorgne de Savigny.
- f9 251.f9The nature of Corallines, now defined as plants, was a matter of debate in this period. For a discussion of this question and of CD's thinking on the subject, see Sloan 1985.
- f10 251.f10Sir John Narbrough (also spelled Narborough) visited the Straits of Magellan and the west coast of South America (Narbrough 1694). Since the Beagle's survey covered much of Narbrough's route, Robert FitzRoy probably had a copy in the ship's library, but this is the only mention of the work. A version was reprinted in volume three (1813) of Burney 1803--17.
- f11 251.f11Stephens 1833. CD may have received a copy of the paper from Henslow. It was read 16 May 1831 and described a new genus of beetle, Chiasognathus, which was sent to the Cambridge Philosophical Society by Dr Grant the surgeon of H.M.S. Forte. It too had been found on the island of Chiloé.
- f12 251.f12Gay 1833. A lightly annotated copy is in `Philosophical tracts', Darwin Library--CUL (see letter to Robert FitzRoy, [28 August 1834]).