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Darwin Correspondence Project

To R. W. Darwin   10 February 1832

2 Days sail SW of St. Jago | Lat: 11 N.

Feb. 10th. 1832

My dear Father

I have a long letter, all ready written, but the conveyance by which I send this is so uncertain.—that I will not hazard it, but rather wait for the chance of meeting a homeward bound vessel.— Indeed I only take this opportunity as perhaps you might be anxious, not having sooner heard from me.— All day long we have been in chace of a packet bound to Rio, & have this evening overtaken her, tomorrow a boat will go on board of her & this letter will be conveyed to Rio & from thence to Shrewsbury or to the fire.— We have had a most prosperous quick & pleasant voyage.— At first.—indeed till the Canary Islands.—I was unspeakably miserable from sea sickness & even now, a little motion makes me squeamish.— We did not stop at Madeira, owing to its blowing fresh, & at the Canary Islands, they wanted to put us in strict quarantine for 12 days— Sooner than submit to that, we sailed to Cape de Verds, & arrived at St. Jago on the 16th of January, having left England on the 27th of December.— The voyage from Teneriffe to St. Jago was very pleasant, & our three weeks at it have been quite delightful.— St. Jago although generally reckoned very uninteresting, was me most exciting.— Of course, the little Vegetation that there was, was purely tropical.— And my eyes have already feasted on the exquisite form & colours of Cocoa Nuts, Bananas & the beautiful orange trees. Hot houses give no idea of these forms, especially orange trees, which in their appearance are as widely different & superior to the English ones, as their fresh fruit is to the imported.—

Natural History goes on excellently & I am incessantly occupied by new & most interesting animals.— There is only one sorrowful drawback, the enormous period of time before I shall be back in England.— I am often quite frightened when I look forward.— As yet everything has answered brilliantly. I like every body about the ship, & many of them very much.— The Captain is as kind as he can be.— Wickham is a glorious fine fellow.— And what may appear quite paradoxical to you, is that I literally find a ship (when I am not sick) nearly as comfortable as a house.— It is an excellent place for working & reading, & already I look forward to going to sea, as a place of rest, in short my home.— I am throughily convinced, that such a good opportunity of seeing the world, might not again for a century.— I think, if I can so soon judge.—I shall be able to do some original work in Natural History.— I find there is so little known about many of the Tropical anima⁠⟨⁠ls.⁠⟩⁠

The effect of my sending this letter will ⁠⟨⁠be⁠⟩⁠ to spoil my longer one.—but I was determined not to lose any opportunity (at Cape Verds there was none) & it is doubtful how long it will be before we arrive at Rio.— The Albrolhos banks on coast of Brazil may last us some time.—

As yet I have not felt the heat more than in England.— In about a week it will be widely different.— You will always find my letters home very badly written, as I am exactly in case of having half an hours talk, & then it would be a struggle what should come out first.— This delay in letters will be a lesson not too soon to expect letters.

Give my very best love to everybody & believe me, my dearest Father, Yours | Most affectionate Son | Charles Darwin


Sends a short résumé of his trip on the chance that it will arrive in England earlier than longer letter [158] which he hopes to send by surer means.

He is "incessantly occupied by new and most interesting animals" and thinks he will be able to do some original work in natural history.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert Waring Darwin
Sent from
2 days’ sail SW of St Jago Lat: 11N
Source of text
DAR 223
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 159,” accessed on 25 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 1