To Peter Lund Simmonds1 25 February 
Down Farnborough Kent
The state of my health prevents me replying at length to your letter.2 I saw very little of the country near New Bay & was not at the Chupat;3 what I did see was poor & water generally absent: there wd be brush-wood in the valleys in all probability. About the year 1790 there was a Spanish Settlement there; but every soul except one was murdered by the Indians.— Indians now perhaps tamer, but never to be trusted; between 1820 & 1830, they attacked every separate farm near the Rio Negro: further south at the Str of Magellan they are much tamer: coal probably not to be found; that in Straits said to be only lignite.— I know nothing about the Fish on the coast. Cattle cd be easily driven from the R. Negro to the Chupat. Anyone settling there, wd I apprehend be under the government of B. Ayres, about as bad as could be.4 Interior absolutely unknown; probably as bad as that seen by us on the S. Cruz.5 The climate fine & dry in summer: no severe frosts or snow in winter.— Wheat does excellently in the valley of the R. Negro: the plains everywhere sterile. Port Desire was the best spot which we saw on the Patagonian coast; but the country is poor; it was once settled by the Spaniards, but long since deserted. Altogether I have a very poor opinion of the whole coast of Patagonia south of R. Negro & I shd sincerely pity any emigrants there: on the other hand if such a coast existed, under British Rule, as in Australia, I have no doubt it wd be thinly settled soon & would feed sheep.— If I had to choose, I wd incomparably prefer the Falkland Islands to Patagonia— there you wd. have cattle & horses & pigs—peat & brushwood for fire—plenty of fish as is asserted. There are no severe frosts & the snow does not lie long. On other hand no timber, country looks desolate & is very stormy. I have reason to believe that though twice there we happened to be very unfortunate in our weather—6 An emigrant wd. be there under British Government & free of Indians.—7 Wild cattle thrive there & most vegetables: I rather think wheat has lately succeeded. I wish I could hav〈e〉 given you fuller information.
Sir | Your obet. sevt. | C. Darwin
- Letter no.
- Darwin, C. R.
- Simmonds, P. L.
- Sent from
- Source of text
- Linnean Society of London (Quentin Keynes collection)
- Physical description
Sends detailed report on the prospects for a settlement on the coast of Patagonia, pointing out many problems, and recommending instead the Falkland Islands.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1229A,” accessed on 29 April 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1229A