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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Susan Darwin   4 August [1836]

Bahia, Brazil

August 4th.

My dear Susan

I will just write a few lines to explain the cause of this letter being dated on the coast of S. America.— Some singular disagreements in the Longitudes, made Capt. F. R. anxious to complete the circle in the Southern hemisphere, & then retrace our steps by our first line to England.— This zig-zag manner of proceeding is very grievous; it has put the finishing stroke to my feelings. I loathe, I abhor the sea, & all ships which sail on it. But I yet believe we shall reach England in the latter half of October.— At Ascension I received Catherines letter of October & yours of November; the letter at the Cape was of a later date; but letters of all sorts are inestimable treasures, & I thank you both for them.—

The desert Volcanic rocks & wild sea of Ascension, as soon as I knew there was news from home, suddenly wore a pleasing aspect; & I set to work, with a good will at my old work of Geology. You would be surprised to know, how entirely, the pleasure in arriving at a new place depends on letters.— We only staid four days at Ascension & then made a very good passage to Bahia.— I little thought ever to have put my foot on a S. American coast again.— It has been almost painful to find how much, good enthusiasm has been evaporated during the last four years. I can now walk soberly through a Brazilian forest; not but what it is exquisitely beautiful, but now, instead of seeking for splendid contrasts; I compare the stately Mango trees with the Horse Chesnuts of England. Although this zigzag has lost us at least a fortnight, in some respect I am glad of it.— I think I shall be able to carry away one vivid picture of intertropical scenery. We go from hence to the C. de Verds, that is if the winds or the Equatorial calms will allow us.— I have some faint hopes, that a steady foul wind might induce the Captain to proceed direct to the Azores.— For which most untoward event I heartily pray.—

Both your letters were full of good news:— Especially the expressions, which you tell me Prof: Sedgwick used about my collections.— I confess they are deeply gratifying.— I trust one part at least will turn out true, & that I shall act, as I now think.—that a man who dares to waste one hour of time, has not discovered the value of life.— Prof. Sedgwick men⁠⟨⁠tionin⁠⟩⁠g my name at all gives me hopes that he will assist me with his advice; of which in many geological questions, I stand much in need.— It is useless to tell you, from the shameful state of this scribble that I am writing against time; having been out all morning—& now there are some strangers on board to whom I must go down & talk civility.— Moreover, as this letter goes by a foreign ship, it is doubtful whether it ever will arrive.— Farewell, my very dear Susan & all of you.. Goodbye | C. Darwin—


Beagle is again in Brazil because of need to check on "singular disagreements in the Longitudes".

Pleased by Sedgwick’s praise.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Susan Elizabeth Darwin
Sent from
Bahia, Brazil
Source of text
DAR 223: 37
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 306,” accessed on 13 September 2023,

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