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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Edward Lumb1   30 March 1834

H.M.S. Beagle E. Falkland Island

March 30th. 1834

My dear Lumb,

There is a French Whaler lying here which sails to day for M. Video, & I take this opportunity of writing to you.— I am very anxious that the Megatherium head, which Mr Keen procured for me,2 should not be lost. You will be, I am sure, be glad to hear, that the fossil relics of older days, which I found at B. Blanca, have been of preeminent interest to those few, who in England care about such things.— Prof: Henslow &c begs of me to collect every scrap of the bones of the head of the great monster; for this reason, the specimens which Mr. Keen intended to forward from the R. Negro are the more valuable.— I dare say you have already sent them to the Admiral at Rio.— You will very much oblige me, by sending a line to Valparaiso to state time & Ship, by which they were conveyed there so that, if they fail to arrive, I can write to Sir Michael Seymour.—3

Since the Beagle left the Plata, we have had a pleasant cruize; we spent some time on the coast of Patagonia; the country swarms with Gaunaco several were killed, but besides these, there were few living creatures. For my own part, I found some interesting work for the Geological hammer.— I trust, with what I saw to the North, to be able to draw up a tolerable sketch of the geology of this Eastern side of S. America. We then entered the Straits & passed on to Famine & returned to survey the east coast of Tierra del F.— The entrance of the Straits are found to be much narrower than drawn in the charts.— After the coast was finished we ran down to near Cape Horn, & returned & beat up the Beagle Channel to J. Button’s country. Poor Jemmy was quite naked, excepting a rag round his waist; he was however very happy, did not wish to return to England; had not forgotten his English & lastly, but not least, he had married a young; & for a Fuegian, a beautiful Squaw.— From thence, we scudded to this island; this seat of discord for the elements, as well as for Human affairs.— You will have heard of the murder of poor Brisbane &c &c; such scenes of fierce revenge, cold-blooded treachery, & villainy in every form, have been here transacted, as few can equal it.—4

I shall be curious to hear what the wise Gov⁠⟨⁠er⁠⟩⁠nment of B. Ayres says on the occasion I suppose “a just revolt,” “their poor subjects groaning under the tyranny of England” &c &c. When you write you must tell me all the gossip. How goes on Mr Griffith & your new minister?—5 How fare the Indians against the Cæsar-like Rosas!?— You must not forget to write to me under charge of British Consul, Valparaiso Remember me most kindly to Mrs. Lumb, & with my best thanks for all your kindness | Believe me Yours very truly | Charles Darwin

We shall soon Sail to the river of Santa Cruz: it must be from the account of the Indians an immense one: I will keep my eyes open for Nutrias.— I suppose what I wrote about the Chupat quite knocked on the head your scheme.6 Do not forget to give my best remembrances to Mr & Mrs. Keen. I shall not soon forget what very pleasant days I spent at their Estancia.—


This letter is published, with a full discussion of its background, in Winslow 1975.
Mr Keen was the owner of an estancia at which CD stayed on his trip to the Rio Negro in West Uruguay, 22–4 November 1833.
Commander of the South American station of the British Navy.
Charles Griffith was British Consul at Buenos Aires. The new Minister Plenipotentiary, Hamilton Charles James Hamilton, did not arrive until 11 October 1834 (BDR, p. 7).


BDR: British diplomatic representatives 1789–1852. Edited by S. T. Bindoff, E. F. Malcolm Smith, and C. K. Webster. London: Offices of the Royal Historical Society. 1934.

Winslow, J. H. 1975. Mr Lumb and Masters Megatherium: an unpublished letter by Charles Darwin from the Falklands. Journal of Historical Geography 1: 347–60.


CD asks the time of shipment and vessel in which the [Megatherium] bones were conveyed.

Patagonia swarms with guanaco, but few other creatures.

Hopes to be able to draw up a tolerable sketch of the geology of the east side of S. America.

Saw Jemmy Button, who is married and will stay in Tierra del Fuego. Mentions Falkland uprising.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Edward Lumb
Sent from
HMS Beagle, E ast Falkland Island
Source of text
Profiles in History (dealers) (2006)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 241,” accessed on 4 March 2024,

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