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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Robert FitzRoy   4 October 1833

Beagle. Monte Video

4th October 1833

My dear Darwin

Two hours since, I received your epistle, dated 26th. and most punctually and immediately am I about to answer your queries. (mirabile!!)

But firstly of the first—my good Philos why have you told me nothing of your hairbreadth scapes & moving accidents How many times did you flee from the Indians? How many precipices did you fall over? How many bogs did you fall into?— How often were you carried away by the floods? and how many times were you kilt?— that you were not kilt dead I have visible evidence in your handwriting,—as well as in a columnar paragraph in Mr. Love’s unamiable paper. You did not tell me whether you received the blank papers safely—you informal homo—how am I to feel certain that I have not signed what may blast my immaculate reputation? Harris1 carried the Packet which contained them and promised to deliver them faithfully. How Sancho by Mr. Hood’s assistance,2 contrived so to mismanage as to reach Bs. Ayres some days after Harris—Quien sabe? In it were 5 “Skimpy” lines, as Capt Beaufort would call them & a promise of better behaviour. Since the date of that note the Beagle has been two days at Maldonado—one day here and about a week between this & Cape Corrientes.— Not having any Stone pounders on board—nor any qualified person (the Mate being absent)—I could not think of landing,—so you have yet a chance,—“de verus” (it blew strong & prevented landing.) I believe you have heard from Mr. Parry and are aware of his loss.— If you have not heard from him—your ally (!! of bone stealing fame) will have informed you. Shocking as it was to him, and his family, but to him, most particularly,—I am in hopes that better times will be found by our good friend Parry,—in consequence of his being a single man.— Warm hearted and friendly as she was—and friendly to the utmost extent of her means—she had her share of woman’s weakness and woman’s failings. Robert Parry is gone to England in the “Mary Worrall”, Merchant man,—to be placed at a school,— the young daughters are going to Bs. Ayres—also to school— Mr. P. intends to give up his house and turn “bachelor, in lodgings”,— —a wise resolve, though painful indeed to the Father of a family,—think what a change in a domestic circle.

If Mr. P. has written as he intended you have heard of Mr. Martens3 —Earle’s Successor,—a stone pounding artist —who exclaims in his sleepthink of me standing upon a pinnacle of the Andes—or sketching a Fuegian Glacier!!!” By my faith in Bumpology, I am sure you will like him, and like him much —he is—or I am wofully mistaken—a “rara avis in navibus,— Carlo que Simillima Darwin”.— Don’t be jealous now for I only put in the last bit to make the line scan— you know very well your degree is “rarissima” and that your line runs thus— Est avis in navibus Carlos rarissima Darwin.— but you will think I am cracked so seriatim he is a gentlemanlike, well informed man.— his landscapes are really good (compared with London men) though perhaps in figures he cannot equal Earle— He is very industrious— and gentlemanlike in his habits,—(not a small recommendation).

Wickham gets on famously—really the “Lighter” will not merit trifling considerations— Mr Kent of the Pylades is at Gorriti—belonging to our Squad. We have plenty of men,—and good ones; and all is prospering— —

Well, but the conjunctions—the conjunctions” I hear you saying—“you have got to the end of a sheet of paper without telling me one thing that I wanted to know”.—

—This is the 4th. of October,—“so the date of your letter tells me”— —well— hum— —if—hum—but—we must consider—then—hum—tomorrow will be the sixth— “Prodigious”!! Do you know what I mean—“to be sure” so—and so & so—& hum hum hum & off goes the head!!—

I never will write another letter after tea—that green beverage makes one tipsy—besides it is such a luxury feeling that your epistle is not to go across the wide atlantick—and has only to cross the muddy Plata. It is so awful writing to a person thousands of miles off—when your conscience reproaches you with having been extremely negligent and tells you that six or eight or (oh—how awful) twelve months’ “History” is due to your expectant and irate correspondent.

Still you get no answer — “what is the Beagle going to do—will you tell me, or not?”—

Philos—be not irate—have patience and I will tell thee all.

Tomorrow we shall sail, for Maldonado—there we shall remain until the middle of this month;—thence we shall return to Monte Video—to remain quietly, if possible, until the end of the month.— I will try all I can to get away from the River Plate the first week in November but there is much to do—and I shall not be surprised if we are detained even until the middle of November.— However—weather is of such consequence, that every long day gained will tell heavily—and I hope & will try hard to be off Early in November—4 therefore do not delay your arrival here later than the first few days of November, at the farthest.

You say nothing about the “Journal of the expedition up the Rio Negro”—nor have you sent me the map of the province of Buenos Ayres— I pray you to do the latter —right speedily—and enquire about the former —from Mr. Gore as well as the other man whose name I forget (Seņor—Don—or Colonel Something, or somebody.)—but in writing to Mr. Gore I mentioned it—so he will know it.—5 I wish to compare the map with our charts—previous to sending them away—in order to “connive” a little; as your friend Mr. Bathurst says.

Roberts6 (of the Liebre) passed our bows this morning on board of the “Paz” bound to Rio Negro with a cargo of tobacco. he did not honor us with a visit—nor did he ask for Chico—respecting the former, he was somewhat rude, and as to the latter rather wise I think.—

Adios Philos—Ever very faithfully yours. Robt. FitzRoy


Thomas Samuel Hood, British Consul-General in Montevideo (see Narrative 2: 293–4).
Conrad Martens, who replaced Augustus Earle as draughtsman. Earle’s poor health had forced him to leave the Beagle in August.
The actual date was 6 December 1833. The delay was caused by the need to complete the charts of the surveys made by the Liebre and Paz (‘Beagle’ diary, pp. 191, 200).
Philip Yorke Gore, Chargé d’Affaires in Buenos Aires.
Mr Roberts was the pilot on board the Liebre (Narrative 2: 110).


‘Beagle’ diary: Charles Darwin’s Beagle diary. Edited by Richard Darwin Keynes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1988.

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.


Urges CD to return to the Beagle early in November. Conrad Martens arrives to succeed Augustus Earle as artist for the expedition.

Letter details

Letter no.
Robert FitzRoy
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
HMS Beagle, Montevideo
Source of text
DAR 204: 120
Physical description
ALS 9pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 218,” accessed on 9 February 2023,

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