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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Edward Forbes   13 May [1845]

Down Bromley Kent

May 13th

Dear Forbes

I am extremely obliged for your information on depths: I fear I shall not be able to give the additional data, which you require. Should I hereafter be able to do so, I will apply to you again.1

I am very glad you have so soon found a naturalist for the Californian expedition I presume Mr Edmonstone2 is actually appointed; otherwise I was going to have suggested Dr Dieffenbach, who travelled in New Zealand & who, I have little doubt, would have gladly gone.3

I do not at all know the route of the expedition, either outwards or homewards otherwise I would gladly make any suggestions which might occur to me on points worthy of observation. Have you, or do you know those who have, any power in settling any point, where the ship might call; for I have little doubt that Cocos isld., north of the Galapagos Archipelago, from its insulated position, & judging from the Galapagos Arch. would have a most peculiar flora & fauna.

The Revillagego (I forget how to spell it) group4 off the coast of Mexico, I believe, has never been visited by a Naturalist. Suggest to Mr Edmonstone to take a good stock of small steel rat-traps, with which he can easily take many rodents.

I can think of only one special point of geological interest on the NW. & Californian, coast viz to ascertain in what latitude southward great angular erratic boulders have been transported by floating ice over plains or across wide valleys; this point wd be very interesting, in comparison with the southern limit of boulders in the United States.

Of course Mr Edmonstone will attend to all facts relating to the elevation of the land,—a class of phenomena so grandly displayed in southern America.

If Mr Edmonstone liked to take the trouble of informing me, of the route of the Ship outwards & homewards, I daresay, I cd suggest a few points for his observation.

Will he visit the Pacific coral-islds.; if so I hope he will apply to the Admiralty for my Coral-Volume.

I have had a circular from the Ray Society5 & I do not know to whom to pay my guinea: I shall be up next council & perhaps you will then inform me.

With many thanks for your information | Believe me | Ever yours sincerely | C. Darwin

Will Mr Edmonstone come home round the world, there is some most interesting pure geology to be done at the Mauritius.—


CD was evidently unsuccessful; the figures cited in South America (pp. 193 and 226) are those provided by Forbes previously.
Thomas Edmondston. On 21 May 1845, he joined H.M.S. Herald as naturalist, a position secured for him by Forbes. He was accidentally shot in Peru in 1846.
Ernst Dieffenbach was apparently considered for the position by the Admiralty, but was not interested (Bell 1976, pp. 110–11).
Revilla Gigedo Islands, an archipelago of four islands about five hundred miles off the west coast of Mexico.
A society formed in 1844 to publish by subscription works on natural history, which would not otherwise be printed. Both Forbes and CD were members.


Bell, Gerda Elizabeth. 1976. Ernst Dieffenbach: rebel and humanist. Palmerston North: Dunmore Press.

South America: Geological observations on South America. Being the third part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1846.


Fears he cannot supply additional data [on shells].

Makes suggestions for Thomas Edmondston, naturalist on board the Herald, of places to visit and geological data to collect on proposed California expedition.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Edward Forbes
Sent from
Source of text
L. D. Edmondston (private collection)
Physical description
ALS 7pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 867,” accessed on 18 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3