Congratulates WDF on his marriage,
reminisces about Cambridge and early entomology. Now neglects entomology for geology.
Describes Concepción after earthquake.
Hopes to cross Cordilleras before they leave South America in September.
My dear Fox
Our correspondence seems to have died a natural death or rather I will say an unnatural death. I believe I wrote last to you, but it was before I heard the news of your marriage. You have my most sincere congratulations, mixed however with some little envy: I hope you are now stronger in your health; & then I am sure you will be as happy as you well deserve to be. How changed every body & every thing will be by the time I return. You a married clergyman, ave maria, how strange it sounds to my ears. I wonder when I shall see you: If you continue to reside in the Isle of Wight perhaps it will be in Portsmouth. If a dirty little vessel, with her old rigging worn to shreds, comes into harbor September 1836 you may know it is the Beagle. You will find us a respectable set of old Gentlemen, with hardly a coat to our backs. This same returning to dear old England is a glorious prospect; I wish it was rather nearer; but it is sufficient to make up for a thousand vexations. Five years is a sadly too long period to leave ones relations & friends; all common ideas must be lost & one returns a stranger, where one least expects or wishes to be so.— I hope at least it will not happen with you & me.— I think the recollections of the snug breakfasts & pleasant rambles at Cambridge, will make us remember each other. You are one of the indirect causes of my coming on this voyage: by taking me as your dog in the grand chace of Crux Major you made me an Entomologist & introduced me to Henslow. I am very glad I have come on this expedition, but like a Sailor I have learnt to growl at all the details— What I shall ultimately do with myself—Quien Sabe? But it is very un-Sailor-like to think of the Future & so I have done.—
We leave for ever the coasts of America in the beginning of September, our route lies
by the Galapagos, Marquesas, Society, Friendly I
Latterly however I have been paying more attention to Geology even to the neglect of marine Zoology. We are now making a passage from Concepcio>n: you will probably have seen in the Newspapers an account of the dreadful earthquake. We were at Valdivia at the time; the shock was not quite so strong there, but enough to be very interesting.— The ruins of Concepcion is a most awful spectacle of desolation. There absolutely is not one house standing.— I have thus had the satisfaction in this cruize both of seeing several Volcanoes & feeling their most terrible effects. It is certainly one of the very grandest phenomena to which this globe is subject.—
As soon as the Beagle reaches Valparaiso, I intend going on shore & shall
reside there till 1
- f1 270.f1CD described the earthquake at Concepción in his paper, read before the Geological Society in March 1838, `On the connexion of certain volcanic phenomena in South America' (Collected papers 1: 53--86).