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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Catherine Darwin   5 July [1832]

Rio de Janeiro. | HMS Beagle

July 5th.—

My dear Catherine

I have only 14 of an hour to write this—Sullivan1 will put it in his parcel, so that it will only cost common postage.— I have received your letter directed Monte Video & previous to it one from Caroline from Maer.— Tomorrow we sail for Mon: Video.— If the wind is not directly against us, we shall touch at Cape Frio, the celebrated scene of diving for the Thetis wreck.—2 They have fished up 900000 dollars.— If we are lucky enough (& it is very probable) to have a gale off St Catherines we shall run in there.— I expect to suffer terribly from sea-sickness—as we are certain to have bad weather.— After lying a short time at MV: we cruize to the South—but not I believe below Rio Negro— The geography of this country is as little known as interior of Africa.— I long to put my foot, where man has never trod before— And am most impatient to leave civilized ports:— We are all very anxious about reform; the last news brought intelligence that Lord Grey would perhaps re-continue in.— Would ask Erasmus to add to the books—Pennants quadrupeds3 (if not too late) in my bedroom.—& Humboldt tableaux de la nature.—4 You cannot imagine what a miser-like value is attached to books, when incapable of procuring them.—

We have been 3 months here: & most undoubtedly I well know the glories of a Brazilian forest.— Commonly I ride some few miles, put my horse & start by some track into the impenetrable—mass of vegetation.— Whilst seated on a tree, & eating my luncheon in the sublime solitude of the forest, the pleasure I experience is unspeakable.— The number of undescribed animals I have taken is very great—& some to Naturalists, I am sure, very interesting.— I attempt class after class of animals, so that before very long I shall have notion of all.— so that if I gain no other end I shall never want an object of employment & amusement for the rest of my life.— (Sullivan only gives me 5 minutes more—).— I am now writing in my own snug corner.—& am as comfortable as man can be.— I am only obeying orders in thus writing a short letter.— When on the deserts coasts of Patagonia.—you will be a long time before hearing from me.— My journal is going on better; but I find it inconvenient having sent the first part home on account of dates—

Give my very best love to my Father & all others. | Most affection | Chas Darwin.—


H.M.S. Thetis, in which Robert FitzRoy had served for four years (1824–8) was wrecked on 5 December 1830. For FitzRoy’s account, see Narrative 2: 67–72.
Pennant 1781. A copy of the third edition (1793) is in Darwin Library–CUL. The title-page of volume one is missing; volume two has ‘Charles Darwin 1826’ on the flyleaf. The set is annotated; marginal scorings on pp. 236–42 of volume one, in the chapter on ‘Dogs’, are probably of a later date.
Tableaux de la nature (Humboldt 1828), translation of Humboldt’s Ansichten der Natur. There is no copy in the Darwin Library, nor has any reference to it been found in CD’s Beagle notes.


Humboldt, Alexander von. 1828. Tableaux de la nature. Translated from the German by J. B. B. Eyriès. 2d ed. 2 vols. Paris.

Narrative: Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836. [Edited by Robert FitzRoy.] 3 vols. and appendix. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Pennant, Thomas. 1781. History of quadrupeds. 2 vols. London.


Sailing next day to Montevideo. He has taken many hitherto undescribed animals. Describes the glories of the Brazilian forest.

Mentions his concern over the Reform Bill.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Emily Catherine (Catherine) Darwin/Emily Catherine (Catherine) Langton
Sent from
Rio de Janeiro, HMS Beagle
Source of text
DAR 223
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 176,” accessed on 28 June 2022,

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