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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Susan Darwin   3 December [1833]

Monte Video.

December 3rd.

My dear Susan,

Will you tell my Father I have been obliged to draw a Bill for 17 pounds— This makes 217 in seven months. I can offer no excuse. But the Captain believes that instead of passing the summer in Tierra del Fuego we shall also winter there— I did not believe that anything could have made me look forward to so miserable a prospect with joy— I do so for then I shall be able to make some glorious excursions into the Andes with a better conscience than I have undertaken my latter ones. We sail tomorrow, first up the River for fresh water then for Port Desire on the Coast of Patagonia After that to East entrance of Straits of Magellan where the Gales of Wind will decide which shall be the next piece of work— It will be very interesting, but I am afraid likewise painful to see poor Jemmy Button & the others— I expect to find them naked & half starved—if indeed they have not been devoured during the past winter. My gallop to the Uraguay was a very pleasant one— I went by Colonia del Sacramento, so up the coast to the Rio Negro— I staid at an [estancia] a good many leagues up the latter River, and from there returned in a direct line to Monte Video— The heat of the Sun makes the fatigue of galloping excessive— I could not for this reason go quite so far as I had hoped. Moreover the country in many districts is shut up by the great thistle beds.— These thistles are from 8 to 10 feet high & form an impervious mass. The geology was very interesting to me— I should very much have regretted not visiting this part of the province I obtained many fragments of fossil bones, & a part of a head, which the Gauchos had sadly mutilated but yet is in my eyes very valuable— For the last four months I have not slept more than one night in the Beagle; to day I took all my things on board meaning to stay— But I am writing this on shore; and what do you think is the reason?— Proh Pudor—Sea sickness— Oh the next ten days will be delightful! how I shall long for the green plain and its galloping horses. But it is the high Road to the Pacific, so I will not complain— We are in good state for the sea—12 months stores on board; & the Schooner well manned— The cause of our long delay has solely been owing to the Charts not being complete for sending home.— The Captain has been exerting himself to a degree which I thought no human being was capable of— The vast importance of the long days to the South was indeed a sufficient stimulant— The Admiral at Rio wrote to inform us that in two months he was going to send a ship to the Falkland Islands, with an Officer & party of soldiers to act as Governor. By this opportunity we shall receive our letters, and perhaps be able to write in answer.— This is a grand piece of good fortune— With the exception of this chance you may be a year before you again hear from me.— And this is a pretty sort of a stupid letter to send as a last But I am very tired with fighting on board against sea sickness—and at this present minute against a host of mosquitoes.— I now thank you all half sufficiently for writing so very regularly— No one in the Beagle has received so uniform a series of letters. I shall return to Shropshire quite au fait with the latest news. As we are now on the road (though not the shortest) to England—I can steadily look forward & count the time between this & the glorious moment of dropping Anchor in Plymouth Sound.— Till then & for ever God bless you all— No one ever had a better or dearer lot to say farewell to. | Yours etc. | Chas. Darwin.—


Has had to draw bills totalling £217 in seven months.

Is glad the Captain has decided to winter in Tierra del Fuego, because this will facilitate "glorious excursions" into the Andes.

Has obtained fragments of fossil bones and part of a Megatherium head.

Their long delay occurred because the charts were not complete for sending home.

CD is now on shore because of seasickness.

The family may not hear from him for a year.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Susan Elizabeth Darwin
Sent from
Monte Video
Source of text
DAR 154: 80
Physical description
C C 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 233,” accessed on 9 February 2023,

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