In five days of geologising on St Helena, he found that the shells on high land had been mistakenly identified as seashells. They are land shells, but of species no longer living.
Can think of nothing but the return to England and his family.
[On board Beagle, bound for Ascencion]
My dear Caroline
We are at this present moment driving onwards with a most glorious tradewind towards Ascencion. I am determined to pay the debt of your most excellent correspondence; by at least writing to you all, as often as I can. I will leave this letter at Ascencion to take its chance of being forwarded. Before attempting to say anything else, I must disburthen my mind, of the bad news that our expected arrival in England, recedes, as we travel onwards. The best judges in the Ship entertain little hopes of it, till the end of October. The next three months appear infinitely tedious, & long, & I daresay the last three weeks, will be worse, as for the three closing days, they, by the same rule, ought to be intolerable. I feel inclined to write about nothing else, but to tell you over & over again, how I long to be quietly seated amongst you.— How beautiful Shropshire will look, if we can but cross the wide Atlantic before the end of October. You cannot imagine how curious I am to behold some of the old views, & to compare former with new impressions. I am determined & feel sure, that the scenery of England is ten times more beautiful than any we have seen.— What reasonable person can wish for great ill proportioned mountains, two & three miles high? No, no; give me the Brythen or some such compact little hill.— And then as for your boundless plains & impenetrable forests, who would compare them with the green fields & oak woods of England?— People are pleased to talk of the ever smiling sky of the Tropics: must not this be precious nonsense? Who admires a lady's face who is always smiling? England is not one of your insipid beauties; she can cry, & frown, & smile, all by turns.— In short I am convinced it is a most ridiculous thing to go round the world, when by staying quietly, the world will go round with you.—
But I will turn back to the past, for if I look forward, I lose my wits, & talk
nonsense. The Beagle staid at St Helena five days, during which time I lived in the
clouds in the centre of the Is
I heard much of old General Dallas & his daughters.— People speak very well of him—(as a well intentioned old goose).— He took much pains in improving the road & other public works, was most hospitable, magnificent, & popular.— The young ladies were the gayest of the gay.— Finally he was the last of the E. Indian Company's Governors, with an income more than quadruple the present.— Hence perhaps the lamentations at his departure.—
From St Helena, I wrote to Erasmus a long & a heavy letter all about myself, it was directed to the Wyndham Club.— I most earnestly hope Erasmus will not be wandering on the continent about the time of the Beagle's return; I am delighted he has taken a house, as he will more probably now be a fixture.— I shall really have so much to say, that I fear I shall annihilate some of my friends.— I s<hall> put myself under your hands; & you must undertake the task of scolding, as in years long gone past, & of civilizing me.— Oh for the time when we shall take a ride together on the Oswestry road.—
My dear Caroline I do long to see you, & all the rest of you, & my dear Father.— God bless you all— Your most affectionate | brother. Chas. Darwin.
P.S. I have kept this flap open in case of receiving any letters tomorrow when we reach Ascencion.— *S 2
[Written in pencil on outer flap of cover:] There is a Ship in the offing & this must go.— There are letters, but the bundle has not been opened.
- f1 305.f1See Journal of researches, p. 582.
- f2 305.f2General Charles Dallas. His daughter Davidona married Captain Francis Harding, a friend of the Darwin family (see letters from Caroline Darwin, 1--4 May 1833 and from Susan Darwin, 16 February 1835).
- f3 305.f3This letter has not been found.