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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Charles D. Douglas1   24 February 1835

Mr. Charles Darwin | Dear Sir

I have sent you a dozen of the large beetles which I told you of having seen in Chiloé, & which I believe are not in your collection; I found them in the crutch of átenihue tree, thirty feet from the ground in a nest of moss; I was led to the spot by following one of them morning & evening for several days, & always lost sight of it near this tree, which is situated about 200yds. from the church of Caucague, at last on the morning of the 15th. currt. I with some dificulty ascended the tree & found them in the crutch, as above refer’d. I killed them with heat in an earthen dish & put them in the box when cold.

Feby. 20th. at 11h. 33m. A.M. the Island of Caucague was Visited by an earthquaqe, which lasted seven minutes & forty seconds, it was not preceeded nor folowed by any subteraneous noise, the motion was horizontal from N.E. to S.W. slow & not strong, like the motion of a vessel in ye long gentle swell of the ocean, the trees were violently agitated, but very few were thrown down, the swell in the channel did not strike the shore more than two feet perpendicular height.

There is a block of fine grained granite, on the beach of Aucar, opposite the N.W. point of Caucague, length N. & S. 18ft. 3ins. hieght on the E. side 9ft. 4ins. circumference four feet above ground 54ft. 10ins.—the cross measure over the middle of the stone from ground to ground was N. & S. 31ft. 3in. E. & W. 26ft. 1in. there is a block of coarse grained granite on the point lobos of Caucahue, its elevation estimated 200 feet above the level of the sea—length 9 feet perpendicular thicknes 4ft. Horizl. thicknes 6ft. I have seen many blocks of granite on the surface of the ground in diffrent places & also on the beach, but never embeded in the cliffs, except in one instance, in point Chouan estimated length N. & S. 7 feet perpr. thicknes 4ft. Horl. thicknes unknown, estimd. hieght above the sea 80 feet—

I have heard of a block of granite situated in the Potrero of the Reycaquines, 8 miles west of Lluco, said to be the largest stone on chiloe, a man on its top can over look the woods to a great distance, I know not, whether that circumstance is owing to the hieght of the stone, or to the elevation of ground it stands on. I expect the potrero will be surveyed shortly, should I be sent on the commision, I will measure the stone & send you the contents.2

I start this morning for Caylin & will return surveying the Indians lands as far as Rouca which will occupy me two months. If I should see any thing which I consider useful, I will send you word next Summer— Mr. Robert Burr will forward this & the Box. | Chas. D Douglas *S 2

Delcague Feby. 24— 1835


Douglas was a surveyor, resident in Chiloé. He acted as pilot and interpreter to FitzRoy and provided him and CD with information about the country and its inhabitants. See Narrative 2: 364 and ‘Beagle’ diary, pp. 252–3.
CD entered Douglas’s data on erratic blocks in his geological notes (DAR 35.1: 300). CD first observed them during the Santa Cruz expedition in April 1834 and thereafter noted instances of blocks at a distance remote from their original formations. In Journal of researches (pp. 288–90 and Addenda) he published his view that transportation by icebergs was the explanation, a conclusion presented in 1841 in more comprehensive form in his paper ‘On the distribution of the erratic boulders … of South America’ (Collected papers 1: 145–63). In his geological notes (DAR 34.2: 169) CD states that he had turned his attention to the transport of boulders as a result of ‘some queries sent by Mr Lyell to Capt. FitzRoy’.


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

Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

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.


Sends CD large beetles from Chiloé.

Describes an earthquake at Caucague.

Gives exact location and measurements of two blocks of granite; has seen and heard of others; will report if he surveys the Potrero on Chiloé.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles D. Douglas
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Dalcague Chiloé
Source of text
DAR 35.1: 329–30
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 269,” accessed on 16 May 2022,

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