Writes with great happiness about the first part of the voyage, after his misery from seasickness passed. He finds himself well prepared, the ship quiet, comfortable, and compact; he has already a "rich harvest" and finds the natural history (especially geology) exceedingly interesting. The tropics are full of great beauty.
(Brazils) | Bahia or St. Salvador
My dear Father
I am writing this on the 8
We sailed as you know on the 27
From Teneriffe to S
Nobody but a person fond of Nat: history, can imagine the pleasure of strolling under Cocoa nuts in a thicket of Bananas & Coffee plants, & an endless number of wild flowers.— And this Island that has given me so much instruction & delight, is reckoned the most uninteresting place, that we perhaps shall touch at during our voyage.— It certainly is generally very barren.—but the valleys are more exquisitely beautiful from the very contrast:— It is utterly useless to say anything about the Scenery.— it would be as profitable to explain to a blind man colours, as to person, who has not been out of Europe, the total dissimilarity of a Tropical view.— Whenever I enjoy anything I always either look forward to writing it down either in my log Book (which increases in bulk) or in a letter.— So you must excuse raptures & those raptures badly expressed.—
I find my collections are increasing wonderfully, & from Rio I think I shall be obliged to send a Cargo home.— All the endless delays, which we experienced at Plymouth, have been most fortunate, as I verily believe no person ever went out better provided for collecting & observing in the different branches of Natural hist.— In a multitude of counsellors I certainly found good.— I find to my great surprise that a ship is singularly comfortable for all sorts of work.— Everything is so close at hand, & being cramped, make one so methodical, that in the end I have been a gainer.—
I already have got to look at going to sea as a regular quiet place, like going back to home after staying away from it.— In short I find a ship a very comfortable house, with everything you want, & if it was not for sea-sickness the whole world would be sailors.— I do not think there is much danger of Erasmus setting the example, but in case there should be, he may rely upon it he does not know one tenth of the sufferings of sea-sickness.— I like the officers much more than I did at first.—especially Wickham & young King, & Stokes & indeed all of them.— The Captain continues steadily very kind & does everything in his power to assist me.— We see very little of each other when in harbour, our pursuits lead us in such different tracks..— I never in my life met with a man who could endure nearly so great a share of fatigue.— He works incessantly, & when apparently not employed, he is thinking.— If he does not kill himself he will during this voyage do a wonderful quantity of work.— I find I am very well & stand the little heat we have had as yet as well as any-body.— We shall soon have it in real ernest.— We are now sailing for Fernando Norunho off the coast of Brazil.—where we shall not stay very long, & then examine the shoals between there & Rio, touching perhaps at Bahia:— I will finish this letter, when an opportunity of sending it occurs.—
I have written this much in order to save time at Bahia.— Decidedly the most striking thing in the Tropics is the novelty of the vegetable forms.— Cocoa Nuts could well be imagined from drawings if you add to them a graceful lightness, which no European tree partakes of.— Bananas & Plantains, are exactly the same as those in hothouses: the acacias or tamarinds are striking from blueness of their foliage: but of the glorious orange trees no description no drawings, will give any just idea: instead of the sickly green of our oranges, the native ones exceed the portugal laurel in the darkness of their tint & infinitely exceed it in beauty of form.—
Cocoa-nuts, Papaws.—the light-green Bananas & oranges loaded with fruit generally surround the more luxuriant villages.— Whilst viewing such scenes, one feels the impossibility than any description should come near the mark,— much less be overdrawn.—
About the 12
Hitherto the voyage has answered admirably to me, & yet I am now more fully aware of your wisdom in throwing cold water on the whole scheme: the chances are so numerous of it turning out quite the reverse.— to such an extent do I feel this that if my advice was asked by any person on a similar occasion I should be very cautious in encouraging him.— I have not time to write to any body else: so send to Maer to let them know that in the midst of the glorious tropical scenery I do not forget how instrumental they were in placing me there.— I will not rapturize again: but I give myself great credit in not being crazy out of pure delight.—
Give my love to every soul at home, & to the Owens I think ones affections, like other good things, flourish & increase in these tropical regions.—
The conviction that I am walking in the new world, is even yet marvellous in my own eyes, & I daresay it is little less so to you, the receiving a letter from a son of yours in such a quarter: Believe me, my dear Father Your most affectionate son | Charles Darwin *S 2
St Salvador, Brazils
I find after the first page I have been writing to my sisters
- f1 158.f1In a personal letter from Bahia on 5 March 1832 (see F. Darwin 1912, p. 548), Robert FitzRoy wrote to Francis Beaufort at the Admiralty: `He was terribly sick until we passed Teneriffe, and I sometimes doubted his fortitude holding out against such a beginning of the campaign. However, he was no sooner on his legs than anxious to set to work, and a child with a new toy could not have been more delighted than he was with St. Jago. It was odd to hear him say, after we left Porto Praya, ``Well, I am glad we are quietly at sea again, for I shall be able to arrange my collections and set to work more methodically.'' He was sadly disappointed by not landing at Teneriffe and not seeing Madeira, but there was no alternative.' For other reminiscences of CD's seasickness by his ship-mates John Lort Stokes and Alexander Burns Usborne, see LL 1: 224.
- f2 158.f2In his official report to Beaufort of 4 March 1832 (F. Darwin 1912, p. 548), FitzRoy wrote: `Mr. Darwin has found abundant occupation already, both at sea and on shore; he has obtained numbers of curious though small inhabitants of the ocean, by means of a Net made of Bunting, which might be called a floating or surface Trawl, as well as by searching the shores and the Land. In Geology he has met with far much more interesting employment in Porto Praya than he had at all anticipated. From the manner in which he pursues his occupation, his good sense, inquiring disposition, and regular habits, I am certain that you will have good reason to feel much satisfaction in the reflection that such a person is on board the Beagle, and the certainty that he is taking the greatest pains to make the most of time and opportunity.'
- f3 158.f3For the different kinds of records CD kept during the voyage see Appendix II.