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
Sends detailed report on the prospects for a settlement on the coast of Patagonia, pointing out many problems, and recommending instead the Falkland Islands.
- Letter no.
- Darwin, C. R.
- Simmonds, P. L.
- Sent from
- Source of text
- Linnean Society of London (Quentin Keynes collection)
- Physical description
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1229A,” accessed on 30 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1229A