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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Frederick Watkins   18 August 1832

Monte Video, Riv. Plata.

August 18th. 1832

My dear Watkins,

I do not feel very sure you will think a letter from one so far distant will be worth having I write therefore on the selfish principle of getting an answer.— In the different countries we visit the entire newness and difference from England only serves to make more keen the recollection of its scenes & delights. In consequence the pleasure of thinking of & hearing from ones former friends does indeed become great— Recollect this & some long winters evening sit down & send me a long account of yourself & our friends; both what you have, & what intend doing; otherwise in 3 or 4 more years when I return you will be all strangers to me Considering how many months have passed we have not in the Beagle made much way round the world. Hitherto every thing has well repaid the necessary trouble and loss of comfort. We staid three weeks at the Cape de Verds, it was no ordinary pleasure rambling over the plains of Lava under a Tropical sun but when I first entered on and beheld the luxuriant vegetation in Brazil it was realising the visions in the Arabian nights— The brilliancy of the Scenery throws one into a delirium of delight and a Beetle hunter is not likely soon to awaken from it, when whichever way he turns fresh treasures meet his eye. At Rio de Janeiro three months passed away like so many weeks— I made a most delightful excursion during this time of 150 miles into the country.— I staid at an estate which is the last of the cleared ground, behind is one vast impenetrable forest. It is almost impossible to imagine the quietude of such a life— Not a human being within some miles interrupts the solitude.— To seat oneself amidst the gloom of such a forest on a decaying trunk, and then think of home, is a pleasure worth taking some trouble for— We are at present in a much less interesting country— One single walk over the undulatory turf plain shows every thing which is to be seen. It is not at all unlike Cambridgeshire only that every hedge tree & hill must be levelled & arable land turned into pasture. All S. America is in such an unsettled state that we have not entered one port without some sort of disturbance— At Buenos Ayres, a shot came whistling over our heads; it is a noise I had never before heard, but I found I had an instinctive knowledge of what it meant. The other day we landed our men here & took possession at the request of the inhabitants of the central fort. We Philosophers do not bargain for this sort of work and I hope there will be no more. We sail in the course of a day or two, to survey the Coast of Patagonia as it is entirely unknown I expect a good deal of interest.— But already do I perceive the grievous difference between sailing on these seas and the Equinoctial ocean— In the “Ladies Gulf” as the Spaniards call it, it is so luxurious to sit on deck and enjoy the coolness of the night & admire the new constellations of the south— As for the old moon, she, nightingales, Jack Venables, & your jolly old self, form so pleasant a train of ideas that I never could want something to think about. I wonder where we shall ever meet again, be it when it may; few things will give me greater pleasure than to see you again and talk over the long time we have passed together

If you were to meet me at present I certainly should be looked at like a wild beast, a great grisly beard and flushing jacket would disfigure an angel.—

Believe me, my dear Watkins, with the warmest feelings of friendship, | Ever yours, | Charles Darwin.


Brief summary of the voyage so far. His delight in the Brazilian forest; his trip into the interior; the turbulence at Rio; has grown a beard.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Frederick Watkins
Sent from
Monte Video, Rio Plata
Source of text
Physical description
C 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 181,” accessed on 17 May 2022,

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