Became ill two weeks before on his return from Santiago after an interesting trip and some geology – though snow kept him out of the Andes. FitzRoy has had to sell the schooner; he was discouraged by the Admiralty, and the expense was too much for him to bear personally.
My dear Caroline
I have been unwell & in bed for the last fortnight, & am now only able to sit up for a short time. As I want occupation I will try & fill this letter.— Returning from my excursion into the country I staid a few days at some Goldmines & whilst there I drank some Chichi a very weak, sour new made wine, this half poisoned me, I staid till I thought I was well; but my first days ride, which was a long one again disordered my stomach, & afterwards I could not get well; I quite lost my appetite & became very weak. I had a long distance to travel & I suffered very much; at last I arrived here quite exhausted. But Bynoe with a good deal of Calomel & rest has nearly put me right again & I am now only a little feeble.— I consider myself very lucky in having reached this place, without having tried it, I should have thought it not possible; a man has a great deal more strength in him, when he is unwell, than he is aware of. If it had not been for this accident, my ride would have been very pleasant. I made a circuit, taking in St Iago. I set out by the valley of Aconcagua I had some capital scrambling about the mountains. I slept two nights near the summit of the Bell of Quillota. This is the highest mountain out of the chain of the Andes, being 4700 ft high. The view was very interesting, as it afforded a complete map of the Cordilleras & Chili.— From here I paid a visit to a Cornish miner who is working some mines in a ravine in the very Andes. I throughily enjoyed rambling about, hammer in hand, the bases of these great giants, as independently as I would the mountains in Wales. I reached the Snow but found it quite impossible to penetrate any higher.— I now struck down to the South, to St Iago the gay Capital of Chili.— I spent a very pleasant week there, receiving unbounded hospitality from the few English merchants who reside there.— Corfield was there also & we lived together at an inn.— St Iago is built on a plain; the basin of a former inland sea; the perfect levelness of this plain is contrasted in a strange & picturesque manner with great, snow topped mountains, which surround it.— From St Iago I proceeded to S. Fernando about 40 leagues to the South.— Every one in the city talked so much about the robbers & murderers, I was persuaded to take another man with me, this added very much to the expense; & now I do not think it was necessary. Altogether it has been the most expensive excursion, I ever made, & in return I have seen scarcely enough of the Geology to repay it.— I was however lucky in getting a good many fossil shells from the modern formation of Chili.—
On my road to S. Fernando, I had some more hammering at the Andes, as I staid
a few days at the hot springs of Cauquenes, situated in one of the valleys.—
From S. Fernando I cut across the country to the coast & then returned,
as I have said very miserable to Corfields house here at Valparaiso. You will be sorry
to hear, the Schooner, the Adventure is sold; the Captain received no sort of
encouragement from the Admiralty & he found the expense <of> so
large a vessel so immense he determined at once to <give> her
up.— We are now in the same state as when we left
England with Wickham for 1
I find being sick at stomach inclines one also to be home-sick. In about a fortnight
the Beagle proceeds down the coast, touches at Concepcion & Valdivia &
sets to work behind Chiloe. I suspect we shall pay T del Fuego another visit; but of
this good Lord deliver us: it is kept very secret, lest the men should desert; every one
so hates the confounded country. Our voyage sounded much more delightful in the
instructions, than it really is; in fact it is a survey of S. America,
& return by the C. of Good Hope instead of C. Horn. We shall
see nothing of any country, excepting S. America. But I ought not to grumble,
for the voyage is for this very reason, I believe, much better for my pursuits, although
not nearly so agreeable as a tour.— I will write again before sailing. I am
however at present deeply in debt with letters. I received shortly since a very kind
long one from M
I have picked up one very odd correspondent, it is M
I forgot to thank Susan for her letter of May & Catherine for her pithy message
``We do not write'' because M
We are all here in great anxiety to hear some political news. A Ship sailed from
Liverpool just after L
Give my best love to my Father & all of you & Believe me my very dear Caroline | Yours affectionately | Charles Darwin.—
- f1 259.f1Robert FitzRoy in Narrative Appendix, p. 303 records the height as 6200 feet. CD changed his figure to 6400 feet in Journal of researches, p. 312.
- f2 259.f2In Narrative 2: 361--2, FitzRoy wrote: `At this time I was made to feel and endure a bitter disappointment; the mortification it caused preyed deeply, and the regret is still vivid. I found that it would be impossible for me to maintain the Adventure much longer: my own means had been taxed, even to involving myself in difficulties, and as the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty did not think it proper to give me any assistance, I saw that all my cherished hopes of examining many groups of islands in the Pacific, besides making a complete survey of the Chilian and Peruvian shores, must utterly fail. I had asked to be allowed to bear twenty additional seamen on the Beagle's books, whose pay and provisions would then be provided by Government, being willing to defray every other expense myself; but even this was refused. As soon as my mind was made up, after a most painful struggle, I discharged the Adventure's crew, took the officers back to the Beagle, and sold the vessel.'
- f3 259.f3`Mr Martens, the artist, has been obliged from want of room to leave the Beagle' (`Beagle' diary, p. 249). Conrad Martens emigrated to Australia, where CD visited him in 1836.
- f4 259.f4Lord Melbourne succeeded Lord Grey.