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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   25 October 1833

Buenos Ayres

October 25th. 1833

My dear Fox

In less than a fortnight we shall be on our course to Tierra del Fuego. All this summer we shall be buried alive amongst the Barbarians.— I send you this to wish you good night.— We shall not receive or write letters for the next six or eight months. I hope at Valparaiso (our future direction) to find one from you.— I have lately been a great wanderer. When the Beagle was at the R. Negro I left her & crossing the Colorado went to Bahia Blanca, from thence also by land, to this place.— It is a long & most dreary ride, & till very lately never performed.— The government here sent out a large army against the Indians in their route, they left at wide intervals a troop of horses & five men, forming a line of Postas to keep up some sort of communication with the Capital I obtained an order for these horses & was of course very glad to profit by such good fortune: it was rough work many days living on nothing but Ostriches & Deer & sleeping in the open camp.— When the weather is fine nothing can be pleasanter than the Gaucho fashion of travelling.— kill your game in the day, as soon as the sun sets, manacle your horses & with the cloths of the Recon1 make your own bed.—

Falkner the old Jesuit who resided so many years with the Indians has given a most accurate account of this country.— One of the most interesting parts of this ride, was the ascent of the Sierra Ventana (or Casuahati of Falkner) a Mountain which rises in the campo like an island in the sea, to the height of between 3000 & 4000 feet.— In the greater part of the road the novelty & wildness were the chief charms, for one league did not differ an iota from another.—

After arriving here, in a weeks time I started to St Fe. This country is comparatively civilized & true Pampas with all its characteristic features, Thistles &c &c. My object in all this galloping was to understand the Geology of those beds which so remarkably abound with the bones of large & extinct quadrupeds. I hav〈e〉 partly succeeded in this; but the country is difficult to make out.— every thing in America is on such a grand scale, the same formations extend for 5 or 600 miles without the slightest change—for such geology one requires 6 league boots.— I thank Providence I have returned with an uncut throat; both Indians & these miscalled Christians, have most carotid-cutting faculties. We shall in a week leave for ever the muddy estuary of the Plata, & now the voyage may be said to have commenced.— I hope you will write to me, & as I do, give (but a longer) a history of yourself. Excepting my own family I have very few correspondents; & hear little about my friends.— Henslow even has never written to me.2 I have sent several cargoes of Specimens & I know not whether one has arrived safely: it is indeed a mortification to me: if you should have happened to have heard, whether any have arrived at Cambridge, do mention it to me.— It is disheartening work to labour with zeal & not even know whether I am going the right road.— How is Henslow’s family & what is he himself doing? I should so enjoy receiving ever so short a letter from him.— But patience is a fine virtue & there does not lack the opportunity of exercising it.— Remember me most kindly to all at Osmaston; perhaps in five more years I may once again be there.—

I hope to hear you are reestablished at your Curacy, & leading a White of Selbourne life.—3 Good bye, my dear Fox. As the Spaniard says, God protect you for many years | Yours affectionately | Chas. Darwin

Footnotes

CD usually used ‘recado’ for ‘saddle’; ‘Recon’ may be the gaucho term.
Henslow had written on 6 February 1832 and again on 15–21 January 1833. The letter of 15–21 January 1833 arrived at Valparaiso on 24 July 1834 (see letter to J. S. Henslow, 24 July – 7 November 1834); there is no record of when the earlier letter was received.
Gilbert White, The natural history and antiquities of Selborne (1789).

Summary

Writes of his ride from Rio Negro to Bahia Blanca and Buenos Aires, which he undertook in order to learn the geology of the land, so full of bones of large extinct quadrupeds.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-223
From
Charles Robert Darwin
To
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Buenos Aires
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 46c)
Physical description
4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 223,” accessed on 20 June 2019, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-223

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

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