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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Robert FitzRoy   [28 August 1834]

My direction is the Fonda Inglese | St. Iago.


My dear Fitz Roy,

I arrived at this gay city late last night, and am now most comfortably established at an English Hotel. My little circuit by Quellota1 and Aconcagua was exceedingly pleasant The difficulty in ascending the Campana is most absurdly exaggerated We rode up 5/6ths of the height to a spring called the Aqua del Guanaco & there bivouacked for two nights in a beautiful little arbor of Bamboos. I spent one whole day on the very summit, the view is not so pictur-esque as interesting from giving so excellent a plan of the whole country from the Andes to the sea— I do not think I ever more thoroughly enjoyed a days rambling. From Quellota I went to some Copper Mines beyond Aconcagua situated in a Ravine in the Cordilleras The major domo is a good simple hearted Cornish Miner— It would do Sulivan good to hear his constant exclamation “As for London—what is London? they can do anything in my country.” I enjoyed climb-ing about the mountains to my hearts content the snow however at present quite prevents the reaching any elevation— On Monday my Cornish friend and myself narrowly escaped being snowed in. we were involved in a multitude of snow banks, and a few hours afterwards there was a heavy snow-storm which would have completely puzzled us— The next morning I started for this place. I never saw anything so gloriously beautiful as the view of the mountains with their fresh and brilliant clothing of Snow— Altogether I am delighted with the Country of Chile— The country Chilenos themselves appear to me a very uninteresting race of people— They have lost much individual character in an essay towards an approximation to civilization My ride has enabled me to understand a little of the Geology—there is nothing of particular interest—all the rocks have been frizzled melted and bedevilled in every possible fashion. But here also the “con-founded Frenchmen” have been at work. A M: Gay has given me to day a copy of a paper, with some interesting details about the Geology of this province published by himself in the Annales des Sciences—2 I have been very busy all day, and have seen a host of people. I called on Col. Walpole, but he was in bed—or said so.— Corfield took me to dine with a Mr Kennedy, who talks much about the Adventure & Beagle; he says he saw you at Chiloe— I have seen a strange genius a Major Sutcliffe.3 he tells me as soon as he heard there were two English Surveying Vessels at Valparaiso, he sent a Book of old Voyages in the Straits of Magellan to Mr Caldcleugh to be forwarded to the Commanding Officer as they might prove of service— He has not heard, whether Mr Caldcleugh has sent them to you— I told him I would mention the circumstance when I wrote.— The Major is inclined to be very civil— I do not know what to make of him. He is full of marvellous stories; and to the surprise of every one every now & then some of them are proved to be true— My head is full of schemes; I shall not remain long here, although from the little I have yet seen I feel much inclined to like it. How very striking & beautiful the situation of the city is— I sat for an hour gazing all round me, from the little hill of St Lucia. I wish you could come here to readmire the glorious prospect— I can by no means procure any sort of Map.— you could most exceedingly oblige me if you would get King to trace from Miers4 a little piece of the Country from Valparaiso to a degree south of R. Rapel—without any mountains. I do not think it will be more than 12 an hours work— I have some intention of returning to Valparaiso by the Rapel.— If you would send me this soon and half a dozen lines, mentioning, if you should know anything about the Samarangs movements; it would assist me in my schemes very much—

Adios, dear Fitz Roy | yr. faithful Philos. | C. D.


Probably the copyist’s mistaken transcription of ‘Quillota’.


Miers, John. 1826. Travels in Chile and La Plata, including accounts respecting the geography, geology, statistics, government, finances, agriculture, manners and customs, and the mining operations in Chile. 2 vols. London.


Recounts his trip [from Valparaiso] to Santiago. His meeting with Claude Gay, Thomas Sutcliffe, and others. Geology of tour uninteresting.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert FitzRoy
Sent from
St Jago
Source of text
DAR 144: 115
Physical description
C 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 254,” accessed on 21 June 2024,

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