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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Thomas Burgess   26 March 1875


March 26th 1875

Dear Sir—

I have often times thought that I should very much like your Portrait as a remembrance of respect during the time I was on Board the Beagle, when she was Surveying the South West Coast of Chili and Peru, commanded by Captian Fitzroy, for four years, and you was in connection with the Survey on Board the Beagle the whole time.1

For instance, do you renemder me calling you upon Deck one night, when the Beagle Lay in Chiloway, to Witness the Volcanic Eruption of a Mountain when I was on Duty on the Middle Watch, and you Exclaimed, O my God, what a sight, I shall never forget.2

Another Instance, when whe walked eleven miles from the—River Santa Cruz, and returning Back, you had forgot your Compass and whe had to make our way Back without them;3

Also, do you remember me giving you my Water on our returning to the Vessel when you was—exausted with thirst.

I hope I may have said sufficent as to convince you that I am not an imposter, But one that wishes to have in remembrance of those Happy Days I spent with you on Board the Beagle, that his, the presence of your Portrait.

I trust you will not think me presumtious in asking for the—small favour of respect, Because, I can assure you, I ask from the purest of motives.

With my kind wishes to you | I Remain | yours most obdet | Thomas Burgess

to Doctor Darwin | Down Bromley | Kent


Burgess was a royal marine on the voyage of HMS Beagle from 1831 to 1836; Robert FitzRoy was captain (‘Beagle’ diary).
CD described the eruption of the volcano of Osorno seen from the bay of San Carlos in Chiloe on the night of 19 January 1835 in Journal of researches 2d ed., p. 291; the sentry CD referred to in his description must have been Burgess.
CD described the voyage up the Santa Cruz river, Argentina, in Journal of researches 2d ed., pp. 177–88.


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

Journal of researches 2d ed.: Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. 2d edition, corrected, with additions. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1845.


TB, who sailed with CD [as a Royal Marine] in the Beagle, asks for CD’s portrait. Recalls some events they shared.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Burgess
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 106: D15–16
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9903,” accessed on 26 May 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23