MORE LETTERS OF CHARLES DARWIN
By Charles Darwin
A RECORD OF HIS WORK IN A SERIES OF HITHERTO UNPUBLISHED LETTERS
EDITED BY FRANCIS DARWIN, FELLOW OF CHRIST'S COLLEGE, AND A.C. SEWARD, FELLOW OF EMMANUEL COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE
IN TWO VOLUMES
All biographical footnotes appear at the end of Volume II.
All other notes by Charles Darwin's editors appear in the text, in brackets () with a Chapter/Note or Letter/Note number.
DEDICATED WITH AFFECTION AND RESPECT, TO
SIR JOSEPH HOOKER
IN REMEMBRANCE OF HIS LIFELONG FRIENDSHIP WITH CHARLES DARWIN
"You will never know how much I owe to you for your constant kindness and encouragement"
CHARLES DARWIN TO SIR JOSEPH HOOKER, SEPTEMBER 14, 1862
The "Life and Letters of Charles Darwin" was published in 1887. Since that date, through the kindness of various correspondents, additional letters have been received; among them may be mentioned those written by Mr. Darwin to Mr. Belt, Lady Derby, Hugh Falconer, Mr. Francis Galton, Huxley, Lyell, Mr. John Morley, Max Muller, Owen, Lord Playfair, John Scott, Thwaites, Sir William Turner, John Jenner Weir. But the material for our work consisted in chief part of a mass of letters which, for want of space or for other reasons, were not printed in the "Life and Letters." We would draw particular attention to the correspondence with Sir Joseph Hooker. To him Mr. Darwin wrote with complete freedom, and this has given something of a personal charm to the most technical of his letters. There is also much correspondence, hardly inferior in biographical interest, with Sir Charles Lyell, Fritz Muller, Mr. Huxley, and Mr. Wallace. From this unused material we have been able to compile an almost complete record of Mr. Darwin's work in a series of letters now published for the first time. We have, however, in a few instances, repeated paragraphs, or in one or two cases whole letters, from the "Life and Letters," where such repetition seemed necessary for the sake of clearness or continuity.
Our two volumes contain practically all the matter that it now seems desirable to publish. But at some future time others may find interesting data in what remains unprinted; this is certainly true of a short series of letters dealing with the Cirripedes, which are omitted solely for want of space. (Preface/1. Those addressed to the late Albany Hancock have already appeared in the "Transactions of the Tyneside Nat. Field Club," VIII., page 250.)
We are fortunate in being permitted, by Sir Joseph Hooker and by Mr. Wallace, to publish certain letters from them to Mr. Darwin. We have also been able to give a few letters from Sir Charles Lyell, Hugh Falconer, Edward Forbes, Dr. Asa Gray, Professor Hyatt, Fritz Muller, Mr. Francis Galton, and Sir T. Lauder Brunton. To the two last named, also to Mrs. Lyell (the biographer of Sir Charles), Mrs. Asa Gray and Mrs. Hyatt, we desire to express our grateful acknowledgments.
The present volumes have been prepared, so as to give as full an idea as possible of the course of Mr. Darwin's work. The volumes therefore necessarily contain many letters of a highly technical character, but none, we hope, which are not essentially interesting. With a view to saving space, we have confined ourselves to elucidating the letters by full annotations, and have for the same reason—though with some regret—omitted in most cases the beginnings and endings of the letters. For the main facts of Mr. Darwin's life, we refer our readers to the abstract of his private Diary, given in the present volume.
Mr. Darwin generally wrote his letters when he was tired or hurried, and this often led to the omission of words. We have usually inserted the articles, and this without any indication of their absence in the originals. Where there seemed any possibility of producing an alteration of meaning (and in many cases where there is no such possibility) we have placed the introduced words in square brackets. We may say once for all that throughout the book square brackets indicate words not found in the originals. (Preface/2. Except in a few places where brackets are used to indicate passages previously published. In all such cases the meaning of the symbol is explained.) Dots indicate omissions, but many omissions are made without being so indicated.
The selection and arrangement of the letters have not been easy. Our plan has been to classify the letters according to subject—into such as deal with Evolution, Geographical Distribution, Botany, etc., and in each group to place the letters chronologically. But in several of the chapters we have adopted sectional headings, which we believe will be a help to the reader. The great difficulty lay in deciding in which of the chief groups a given letter should be placed. If the MS. had been cut up into paragraphs, there would have been no such difficulty; but we feel strongly that a letter should as far as possible be treated as a whole. We have in fact allowed this principle to interfere with an accurate classification, so that the reader will find, for instance, in the chapters on Evolution, questions considered which might equally well have come under Geographical Distribution or Geology, or questions in the chapter on Man which might have been placed under the heading Evolution. In the same way, to avoid mutilation, we have allowed references to one branch of science to remain in letters mainly concerned with another subject. For these irregularities we must ask the reader's patience, and beg him to believe that some pains have been devoted to arrangement.
Mr. Darwin, who was careful in other things, generally omitted the date in familiar correspondence, and it is often only by treating a letter as a detective studies a crime that we can make sure of its date. Fortunately, however, Sir Joseph Hooker and others of Darwin's correspondents were accustomed to add the date on which the letters were received. This sometimes leads to an inaccuracy which needs a word of explanation. Thus a letter which Mr. Darwin dated "Wednesday" might be headed by us "Wednesday [January 3rd, 1867]," the latter half being the date on which the letter was received; if it had been dated by the writer it would have been "Wednesday, January 2nd, 1867."
In thanking those friends—especially Sir Joseph Hooker and Mr. Wallace—who have looked through some of our proof-sheets, we wish to make it clear that they are not in the smallest degree responsible for our errors or omissions; the weight of our shortcomings rests on us alone.
We desire to express our gratitude to those who have so readily supplied us with information, especially to Sir Joseph Hooker, Professor Judd, Professor Newton, Dr. Sharp, Mr. Herbert Spencer, and Mr. Wallace. And we have pleasure in mentioning Mr. H.W. Rutherford, of the University Library, to whose conscientious work as a copyist we are much indebted.
Finally, it is a pleasure to express our obligation to those who have helped us in the matter of illustrations. The portraits of Dr. Asa Gray, Mr. Huxley, Sir Charles Lyell, Mr. Romanes, are from their respective Biographies, and for permission to make use of them we have to thank Mrs. Gray, Mr. L. Huxley, Mrs. Lyell, and Mrs. Romanes, as well as the publishers of the books in question. For the reproduction of the early portrait of Mr. Darwin we are indebted to Miss Wedgwood; for the interesting portraits of Hugh Falconer and Edward Forbes we have to thank Mr. Irvine Smith, who obtained for us the negatives; these being of paper, and nearly sixty years old, rendered their reproduction a work of some difficulty. We also thank Messrs. Elliott & Fry for very kindly placing at our disposal a negative of the fine portrait, which forms the frontispiece to Volume II. For the opportunity of making facsimiles of diagrams in certain of the letters, we are once more indebted to Sir Joseph Hooker, who has most generously given the original letters to Mr. Darwin's family.
Cambridge, October, 1902.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.
Outline of Charles Darwin's Life, etc.
CHAPTER 1.I.—An Autobiographical Fragment, and Early Letters, 1809-1842.
CHAPTER 1.II.—Evolution, 1844-1858.
CHAPTER 1.III.—Evolution, 1859-1863.
CHAPTER 1.IV.—Evolution, 1864-1869.
CHAPTER 1.V.—Evolution, 1870-1882.
CHAPTER 1.VI.—Geographical Distribution, 1843-1867.
ILLUSTRATIONS IN VOLUME I.
CHARLES AND CATHERINE DARWIN, 1816. From a coloured chalk drawing by Sharples, in possession of Miss Wedgwood, of Leith Hill Place.
MRS. DARWIN, 1881. From a photograph by Barraud.
EDWARD FORBES, 1844 (?). From a photograph by Hill & Adamson.
THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY, 1857. From a photograph by Maull & Fox. (Huxley's "Life," Volume I.)
PROFESSOR HENSLOW. From a photograph.
HUGH FALCONER, 1844. From a photograph by Hill & Adamson.
JOSEPH DALTON HOOKER, 1870 (?). From a photograph by Wallich.
ASA GRAY, 1867. From a photograph. ("Letters of Asa Gray," Volume I.)
CHAPTER 2.VII.—Geographical Distribution, 1867-1882.
CHAPTER 2.VIII.—Man, 1860-1882. 2.VIII.I. Descent of Man, 1860-1882. 2.VIII.II. Sexual Selection, 1866-1872. 2.VIII.III. Expression, 1868-1874.
CHAPTER 2.IX.—Geology, 1840-1882. 2.IX.I. Vulcanicity and Earth-movements, 1840-1881. 2.IX.II. Ice-action, 1841-1882. 2.IX.III. The Parallel Roads of Glen Roy, 1841-1880. 2.IX.IV. Coral Reefs, Fossil and Recent, 1841-1881. 2.IX.V. Cleavage and Foliation, 1846-1856. 2.IX.VI. Age of the World, 1868-1877. 2.IX.VII. Geological Action of Earth-worms, 1880-1882. 2.IX.VIII. Miscellaneous, 1846-1878.
CHAPTER 2.X.—Botany, 1843-1871. 2.X.I. Miscellaneous, 1843-1862. 2.X.II. Melastomaceae, 1862-1881. 2.X.III. Correspondence with John Scott, 1862-1871.
CHAPTER 2.XI.—Botany, 1863-1881. 2.XI.I. Miscellaneous, 1863-1866. 2.XI.II. Correspondence with Fritz Muller, 1865-1881. 2.XI.III. Miscellaneous, 1868-1881.
CHAPTER 2.XII.—Vivisection and Miscellaneous Subjects, 1867-1882. 2.XII.I. Vivisection, 1875-1882. 2.XII.II. Miscellaneous Subjects, 1867-1882.
ILLUSTRATIONS IN VOLUME II.
CHARLES DARWIN, 1881. From a photograph by Elliott & Fry.
ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE, 1878. From a photograph by Maull & Fox.
GEORGE J. ROMANES, 1891. From a photograph by Elliott & Fry. (Romanes' "Life.")
CHARLES LYELL. From a photograph by Maull & Fox. (Lyell's "Life," Volume II.)
CHARLES DARWIN, 1854 (?). From a photograph by Maull & Fox.
FRITZ MULLER. From a photograph.
FACSIMILES OF SKETCHES IN THE LETTERS.
FIGURE 1. Hypothetical Section Illustrating Continental Elevation.
FIGURE 2. Diagram of Junction between Dike and Lava.
FIGURE 3. Outline of an Elliptic Crater.
FIGURE 4. Hypothetical Section showing the Relation of Dikes to Volcanic Vents.
FIGURE 5. Map illustrating the Linear Arrangement of Volcanic Islands in relation to Continental Coast-lines.
FIGURE 6. Sketch showing the Form and Distribution of Quartz in a Foliated Rock.
FIGURE 7. Sketch showing the Arrangement of Felspar and Quartz in a Metamorphic Series.
FIGURE 8. Floral Diagram of an Orchid.
FIGURE 9. Dissected Flower of Habenaria Chlorantha.
FIGURE 10. Diagram of a Cruciferous Flower.
FIGURE 11. Longitudinal Section of a Cruciferous Flower.
FIGURE 12. Transverse Section of the Ovary of a Crucifer.
FIGURE 13. (Contents/1. Not a facsimile.) Leaf of Trifolium resupinatum. (Drawn by Miss Pertz.)
MORE LETTERS OF CHARLES DARWIN.
OUTLINE OF CHARLES DARWIN'S LIFE.
BASED ON HIS DIARY, DATED AUGUST 1838.
References to the Journals in which Mr. Darwin's papers were published will be found in his "Life and Letters" III., Appendix II. We are greatly indebted to Mr. C.F. Cox, of New York, for calling our attention to mistakes in the Appendix, and we take this opportunity of correcting them.
Appendix II., List ii.—Mr. Romanes spoke on Mr. Darwin's essay on Instinct at a meeting of the Linnean Society, December 6th, 1883, and some account of it is given in "Nature" of the same date. But it was not published by the Linnean Society.
Appendix II., List iii.—"Origin of saliferous deposits. Salt lakes of Patagonia and La Plata" (1838). This is the heading of an extract from Darwin's volume on South America reprinted in the "Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society," Volume II., Part ii., "Miscellanea," pages 127-8, 1846.
The paper on "Analogy of the Structure of some Volcanic Rocks, etc." was published in 1845, not in 1851.
A paper "On the Fertilisation of British Orchids by Insect Agency," in the "Entomologist's Weekly Intelligencer" viii., and "Gardeners' Chronicle," June 9th, 1860, should be inserted in the bibliography.
1809. February 12th: Born at Shrewsbury.
1817. Death of his mother.
1818. Went to Shrewsbury School.
1825. Left Shrewsbury School.
October: Went to Edinburgh University. Read two papers before the Plinian Society of Edinburgh "at the close of 1826 or early in 1827."
1827. Entered at Christ's College, Cambridge.
1828. Began residence at Cambridge.
January: Passed his examination for B.A., and kept the two following terms.
August: Geological tour with Sedgwick.
September 11th: Went to Plymouth to see the "Beagle."
October 2nd: "Took leave of my home."
December 27th: "Sailed from England on our circumnavigation."
January 16th: "First landed on a tropical shore" (Santiago).
December 6th: "Sailed for last time from Rio Plata."
June 10th: "Sailed for last time from Tierra del Fuego."
September 5th: "Sailed from west shores of South America."
November 16th: Letters to Professor Henslow, read at a meeting of the Cambridge Philosophical Society.
November 18th: Paper read before the Geological Society on Notes made during a Survey of the East and West Coasts of South America in years 1832-35.
May 31st: Anchored at the Cape of Good Hope.
October 2nd: Anchored at Falmouth.
October 4th: Reached Shrewsbury after an absence of five years and two days.
December 13th: Went to live at Cambridge.
January 4th: Paper on Recent Elevation in Chili read.
March 13th: Settled at 36, Great Marlborough Street.
March 14th: Paper on "Rhea" read.
May: Read papers on Coral Formation, and on the Pampas, to the Geological Society.
July: Opened first note-book on Transmutation of Species.
March 13th to November: Occupied with his Journal.
October and November: Preparing the scheme for the Zoology of the Voyage of the "Beagle." Working at Geology of South America.
November 1st: Read the paper on Earthworms before the Geological Society.
Worked at the Geology of South America and Zoology of Voyage. "Some little species theory."
March 7th: Read paper on the Connexion of certain Volcanic Phenomena and on the Formation of Mountain Chains, to the Geological Society.
May: Health began to break down.
June 23rd: Started for Glen Roy. The paper on Glen Roy was written in August and September.
October 5th: Began Coral paper.
November 11th: Engaged to be married to his cousin, Emma Wedgwood.
December 31st: "Entered 12 Upper Gower Street."
January 29th: Married at Maer.
February and March: Some work on Corals and on Species Theory.
March (part) and April: Working at Coral paper. Papers on a Rock seen on an Iceberg, and on the Parallel Roads of Glen Roy. Published "Journal and Remarks," being volume iii. of the "Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of H.M.S. 'Adventure' and 'Beagle,' etc." For the rest of the year, Corals and Zoology of the Voyage. Publication of the "Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. 'Beagle,'" Part II. (Mammalia).
Worked at Corals and the Zoology of the Voyage. Contributed Geological introduction to Part I. of the "Zoology of the Voyage" (Fossil Mammalia by Owen).
Publication of Part III. of the "Zoology of the Voyage" (Birds). Read paper on Boulders and Glacial Deposits of South America, to Geological Society. Published paper on a remarkable bar of Sandstone off Pernambuco, on the coast of Brazil. Publication of Part IV. of "Zoology of the Voyage" (Fish).
May 6th: Last proof of the Coral book corrected.
June: Examined Glacier action in Wales. "Wrote pencil sketch of my Species Theory."
July: Wrote paper on Glaciers of Caernarvonshire.
October: Began his book on Volcanic Islands.
Working at "Volcanic Islands" and "some Species work."
February 13th: Finished "Volcanic Islands."
July to September: Wrote an enlarged version of Species Theory. Papers on Sagitta, and on Planaria.
July 27th: Began his book on the Geology of South America.
Paper on the Analogy of the Structure of Volcanic Rocks with that of Glaciers. "Proc. R. Soc. Edin."
April 25th to August 25th: Working at second edition of "Naturalist's Voyage."
October 1st: Finished last proof of "Geological Observations on South America." Papers on Atlantic Dust, and on Geology of Falkland Islands, communicated to the Geological Society. Paper on Arthrobalanus.
Working at Cirripedes. Review of Waterhouse's "Natural History of the Mammalia."
March 20th: Finished Scientific Instructions in Geology for the Admiralty Manual. Working at Cirripedes. Paper on Erratic Boulders.
Health especially bad. Working at Cirripedes.
March-June: Water-cure at Malvern.
Working at Cirripedes. Published Monographs of Recent and Fossil Lepadidae.
Working at Cirripedes.
November 30th: "Royal Medal given to me."
Published Monographs on Recent and on Fossil Balanidae and Verrucidae.
September 9th: Finished packing up all my Cirripedes. "Began sorting notes for Species Theory."
March-April: Experiments on the effect of salt water on seeds. Papers on Icebergs and on Vitality of Seeds.
May 14th: "Began, by Lyell's advice, writing Species Sketch" (described in "Life and Letters" as the "Unfinished Book").
December 16th: Finished Chapter III. Paper read to Linnean Society, On Sea-water and the Germination of Seeds.
September 29th: Finished Chapters VII. and VIII.
September 30th to December 29th: Working on Hybridism. Paper on the Agency of Bees in the Fertilisation of Papilionaceous Flowers.
March 9th: "Finished Instinct chapter."
June 18th: Received Mr. Wallace's sketch of his evolutionary theory.
July 1st: Joint paper of Darwin and Wallace read at the Linnean Society.
July 20th to July 27th: "Began Abstract of Species book," i.e., the "Origin of Species," at Sandown, I.W. Paper on Bees and Fertilisation of Flowers.
May 25th: Began proof-sheets of the "Origin of Species."
November 24th: Publication of the "Origin": 1250 copies printed.
October 2nd to December 9th: At the water-cure establishment, Ilkley, Yorkshire.
January 7th: Publication of Edition II. of "Origin" (3000 copies).
January 9th: "Looking over MS. on Variation." Paper on the Fertilisation of British Orchids.
July and again in September: Made observations on Drosera. Paper on Moths and Flowers. Publication of "A Naturalist's Voyage."
Up to July at work on "Variation under Domestication."
April 30th: Publication of Edition III. of "Origin" (2000 copies).
July to the end of year: At work on Orchids.
November: Primula paper read at Linnean Society. Papers on Pumilio and on Fertilisation of Vinca.
May 15th: Orchid book published. Working at Variation. Paper on Catasetum (Linnean Society). Contribution to Chapter III. of Jenyns' Memoir of Henslow.
Working at "Variation under Domestication." Papers on Yellow Rain, the Pampas, and on Cirripedes. A review of Bates' paper on Mimetic Butterflies. Severe illness to the end of year.
Illness continued until April. Paper on Linum published by the Linnean Society.
May 25th: Paper on Lythrum finished.
September 13th: Paper on Climbing Plants finished. Work on "Variation under Domestication."
November 30th: Copley medal awarded to him.
January 1st: Continued at work on Variation until April 22nd. The work was interrupted by illness until late in the autumn.
February: Read paper on Climbing Plants.
December 25th: Began again on Variation.
Continued work at "Variation under Domestication."
March 1st to May 10th: At work on Edition IV. of the "Origin." Published June (1250 copies). Read paper on Cytisus scoparius to the Linnean Society.
December 22nd: Began the last chapter of "Variation under Domestication."
November 15th: Finished revises of "Variation under Domestication."
December: Began papers on Illegitimate Unions of Dimorphic and Trimorphic Plants, and on Primula.
January 30th: Publication of "Variation under Domestication."
February 4th: Began work on Man.
February 10th: New edition of "Variation under Domestication." Read papers on Illegitimate Unions of Dimorphic and Trimorphic Plants, and on Verbascum.
February 10th: "Finished fifth edition of 'Origin'; has taken me forty-six days."
Edition V. published in May.
Working at the "Descent of Man." Papers on the Fertilisation of Orchids, and on the Fertilisation of Winter-flowering Plants.
Working at the "Descent of Man." Paper on the Pampas Woodpecker.
January 17th: Began the "Expression of the Emotions."
February 24th: "Descent of Man" published (2500 copies).
April 27th: Finished the rough copy of "Expression."
June 18th: Began Edition VI. of "Origin." Paper on the Fertilisation of Leschenaultia.
January 10th: Finished proofs of Edition VI. of the "Origin," and "again rewriting 'Expression.'"
August 22nd: Finished last proofs of "Expression."
August 23rd: Began working at Drosera.
November: "Expression" published (7000 copies, and 2000 more printed at the end of the year.)
November 8th: "At Murray's sale 5267 copies sold to London booksellers."
January: Correcting the Climbing Plants paper for publication as a book.
February 3rd: At work on "Cross-fertilisation."
February to September: Contributions to "Nature."
June 14th: "Began Drosera again."
November 20th: Began "Descent of Man," Edition II.
"Descent of Man," Edition II, in one volume, published (Preface dated September). "Coral Reefs," Edition II., published.
April 1st: Began "Insectivorous Plants."
February to May: Contributed notes to "Nature."
July 2nd: "Insectivorous Plants" published (3000 copies); 2700 copies sold immediately.
July 6th: "Correcting 2nd edition of 'Variation under Domestication.'" It was published in the autumn.
September 1st (approximately): Began on "Cross and Self-Fertilisation."
November: Vivisection Commission.
May 5th: "Finished MS., first time over, of 'Cross and Self-Fertilisation.'"
May to June: Correction of "Fertilisation of Orchids," Edition II. Wrote his Autobiographical Sketch.
May and November: Contributions to "Nature."
August 19th: First proofs of "Cross and Self-Fertilisation."
November 10th: "Cross and Self-Fertilisation" published (1500 copies).
"All the early part of summer at work on 'Different Forms of Flowers.'"
July: Publication of "Different Forms of Flowers" (1250 copies). During the rest of the year at work on the bloom on leaves, movements of plants, "and a little on worms."
November: LL.D. at Cambridge. Second edition of "Fertilisation of Orchids" published. Contributions to "Nature," "Gardeners' Chronicle," and "Mind."
The whole year at work on movements of plants, and on the bloom on leaves.
May: Contribution to "Nature." Second edition of "Different Forms of Flowers." Wrote prefatory letter to Kerner's "Flowers and their Unbidden Guests."
The whole year at work on movements of plants, except for "about six weeks" in the spring and early summer given to the "Life of Erasmus Darwin," which was published in the autumn. Contributions to "Nature."
1880. "All spring finishing MS. of 'Power of Movement in Plants' and proof sheets." "Began in autumn on Worms." Prefatory notice written for Meldola's translation of Weismann's book.
November 6th: 1500 copies of "Power of Movement" sold at Murray's sale. Contributions to "Nature."
During all the early part of the year at work on the "Worm book." Several contributions to "Nature."
October 10th: The book on "Earthworms" published: 2000 copies sold at once.
November: At work on the action of carbonate of ammonia on plants.
No entries in the Diary.
February: At work correcting the sixth thousand of the "Earthworms."
March 6th and March 16th: Papers on the action of Carbonate of Ammonia on roots, etc., read at the Linnean Society.
April 6th: Note to "Nature" on Dispersal of Bivalves.
April 18th: Van Dyck's paper on Syrian Dogs, with a preliminary notice by Charles Darwin, read before the Zoological Society.
April 19th: Charles Darwin died at Down.
CHAPTER 1.I.—AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL FRAGMENT, AND EARLY LETTERS.
(Chapter I./1. In the process of removing the remainder of Mr. Darwin's books and papers from Down, the following autobiographical notes, written in 1838, came to light. They seem to us worth publishing—both as giving some new facts, and also as illustrating the interest which he clearly felt in his own development. Many words are omitted in the manuscript, and some names incorrectly spelled; the corrections which have been made are not always indicated.)
My earliest recollection, the date of which I can approximately tell, and which must have been before I was four years old, was when sitting on Caroline's (Caroline Darwin) knee in the drawing room, whilst she was cutting an orange for me, a cow ran by the window which made me jump, so that I received a bad cut, of which I bear the scar to this day. Of this scene I recollect the place where I sat and the cause of the fright, but not the cut itself, and I think my memory is real, and not as often happens in similar cases, [derived] from hearing the thing often repeated, [when] one obtains so vivid an image, that it cannot be separated from memory: because I clearly remember which way the cow ran, which would not probably have been told me. My memory here is an obscure picture, in which from not recollecting any pain I am scarcely conscious of its reference to myself.
When I was four years and a half old I went to the sea, and stayed there some weeks. I remember many things, but with the exception of the maidservants (and these are not individualised) I recollect none of my family who were there. I remember either myself or Catherine being naughty, and being shut up in a room and trying to break the windows. I have an obscure picture of a house before my eyes, and of a neighbouring small shop, where the owner gave me one fig, but which to my great joy turned out to be two: this fig was given me that the man might kiss the maidservant. I remember a common walk to a kind of well, on the road to which was a cottage shaded with damascene (Chapter I./2. Damson is derived from Damascene; the fruit was formerly known as a "Damask Prune.") trees, inhabited by an old man, called a hermit, with white hair, who used to give us damascenes. I know not whether the damascenes, or the reverence and indistinct fear for this old man produced the greatest effect on my memory. I remember when going there crossing in the carriage a broad ford, and fear and astonishment of white foaming water has made a vivid impression. I think memory of events commences abruptly; that is, I remember these earliest things quite as clearly as others very much later in life, which were equally impressed on me. Some very early recollections are connected with fear at Parkfield and with poor Betty Harvey. I remember with horror her story of people being pushed into the canal by the towing rope, by going the wrong side of the horse. I had the greatest horror of this story—keen instinct against death. Some other recollections are those of vanity—namely, thinking that people were admiring me, in one instance for perseverance and another for boldness in climbing a low tree, and what is odder, a consciousness, as if instinctive, that I was vain, and contempt of myself. My supposed admirer was old Peter Haile the bricklayer, and the tree the mountain ash on the lawn. All my recollections seem to be connected most closely with myself; now Catherine (Catherine Darwin) seems to recollect scenes where others were the chief actors. When my mother died I was 8 1/2 years old, and [Catherine] one year less, yet she remembers all particulars and events of each day whilst I scarcely recollect anything (and so with very many other cases) except being sent for, the memory of going into her room, my father meeting me—crying afterwards. I recollect my mother's gown and scarcely anything of her appearance, except one or two walks with her. I have no distinct remembrance of any conversation, and those only of a very trivial nature. I remember her saying "if she did ask me to do something," which I said she had, "it was solely for my good."
Catherine remembers my mother crying, when she heard of my grandmother's death. Also when at Parkfield how Aunt Sarah and Aunt Kitty used to receive her. Susan, like me, only remembers affairs personal. It is sufficiently odd this [difference] in subjects remembered. Catherine says she does not remember the impression made upon her by external things, as scenery, but for things which she reads she has an excellent memory, i.e., for ideas. Now her sympathy being ideal, it is part of her character, and shows how easily her kind of memory was stamped, a vivid thought is repeated, a vivid impression forgotten.
I remember obscurely the illumination after the battle of Waterloo, and the Militia exercising about that period, in the field opposite our house.
At 8 1/2 years old I went to Mr. Case's School. (Chapter I/3. A day-school at Shrewsbury kept by Rev. G. Case, minister of the Unitarian Chapel ("Life and Letters," Volume I., page 27 et seq.)) I remember how very much I was afraid of meeting the dogs in Barker Street, and how at school I could not get up my courage to fight. I was very timid by nature. I remember I took great delight at school in fishing for newts in the quarry pool. I had thus young formed a strong taste for collecting, chiefly seals, franks, etc., but also pebbles and minerals—one which was given me by some boy decided this taste. I believe shortly after this, or before, I had smattered in botany, and certainly when at Mr. Case's School I was very fond of gardening, and invented some great falsehoods about being able to colour crocuses as I liked. (Chapter I./4. The story is given in the "Life and Letters," I., page 28, the details being slightly different.) At this time I felt very strong friendship for some boys. It was soon after I began collecting stones, i.e., when 9 or 10, that I distinctly recollect the desire I had of being able to know something about every pebble in front of the hall door—it was my earliest and only geological aspiration at that time. I was in those days a very great story-teller—for the pure pleasure of exciting attention and surprise. I stole fruit and hid it for these same motives, and injured trees by barking them for similar ends. I scarcely ever went out walking without saying I had seen a pheasant or some strange bird (natural history taste); these lies, when not detected, I presume, excited my attention, as I recollect them vividly, not connected with shame, though some I do, but as something which by having produced a great effect on my mind, gave pleasure like a tragedy. I recollect when I was at Mr. Case's inventing a whole fabric to show how fond I was of speaking the TRUTH! My invention is still so vivid in my mind, that I could almost fancy it was true, did not memory of former shame tell me it was false. I have no particularly happy or unhappy recollections of this time or earlier periods of my life. I remember well a walk I took with a boy named Ford across some fields to a farmhouse on the Church Stretton road. I do not remember any mental pursuits excepting those of collecting stones, etc., gardening, and about this time often going with my father in his carriage, telling him of my lessons, and seeing game and other wild birds, which was a great delight to me. I was born a naturalist.
When I was 9 1/2 years old (July 1818) I went with Erasmus to see Liverpool: it has left no impressions on my mind, except most trifling ones—fear of the coach upsetting, a good dinner, and an extremely vague memory of ships.
In Midsummer of this year I went to Dr. Butler's School. (Chapter I./5. Darwin entered Dr. Butler's school in Shrewsbury in the summer of 1818, and remained there till 1825 ("Life and Letters," I., page 30).) I well recollect the first going there, which oddly enough I cannot of going to Mr. Case's, the first school of all. I remember the year 1818 well, not from having first gone to a public school, but from writing those figures in my school book, accompanied with obscure thoughts, now fulfilled, whether I should recollect in future life that year.
In September (1818) I was ill with the scarlet fever. I well remember the wretched feeling of being delirious.
1819, July (10 1/2 years old).
Went to the sea at Plas Edwards and stayed there three weeks, which now appears to me like three months. (Chapter I./6. Plas Edwards, at Towyn, on the Welsh coast.) I remember a certain shady green road (where I saw a snake) and a waterfall, with a degree of pleasure, which must be connected with the pleasure from scenery, though not directly recognised as such. The sandy plain before the house has left a strong impression, which is obscurely connected with an indistinct remembrance of curious insects, probably a Cimex mottled with red, and Zygaena, the burnet-moth. I was at that time very passionate (when I swore like a trooper) and quarrelsome. The former passion has I think nearly wholly but slowly died away. When journeying there by stage coach I remember a recruiting officer (I think I should know his face to this day) at tea time, asking the maid-servant for toasted bread and butter. I was convulsed with laughter and thought it the quaintest and wittiest speech that ever passed from the mouth of man. Such is wit at 10 1/2 years old. The memory now flashes across me of the pleasure I had in the evening on a blowy day walking along the beach by myself and seeing the gulls and cormorants wending their way home in a wild and irregular course. Such poetic pleasures, felt so keenly in after years, I should not have expected so early in life.
Went a riding tour (on old Dobbin) with Erasmus to Pistyll Rhiadr (Chapter I./7. Pistyll Rhiadr proceeds from Llyn Pen Rhiadr down the Llyfnant to the Dovey.); of this I recollect little, an indistinct picture of the fall, but I well remember my astonishment on hearing that fishes could jump up it.
(Chapter I./8. The autobiographical fragment here comes to an end. The next letters give some account of Darwin as an Edinburgh student. He has described ("Life and Letters," I., pages 35-45) his failure to be interested in the official teaching of the University, his horror at the operating theatre, and his gradually increasing dislike of medical study, which finally determined his leaving Edinburgh, and entering Cambridge with a view to taking Orders.)
LETTER 1. TO R.W. DARWIN. Sunday Morning [Edinburgh, October, 1825].
My dear Father
As I suppose Erasmus (Erasmus Darwin) has given all the particulars of the journey, I will say no more about it, except that altogether it has cost me 7 pounds. We got into our lodgings yesterday evening, which are very comfortable and near the College. Our Landlady, by name Mrs. Mackay, is a nice clean old body—exceedingly civil and attentive. She lives in "11, Lothian Street, Edinburgh" (1/1. In a letter printed in the "Edinburgh Evening Despatch" of May 22nd, 1888, the writer suggested that a tablet should be placed on the house, 11, Lothian Street. This suggestion was carried out in 1888 by Mr. Ralph Richardson (Clerk of the Commissary Court, Edinburgh), who obtained permission from the proprietors to affix a tablet to the house, setting forth that Charles Darwin resided there as an Edinburgh University student. We are indebted to Mr. W.K. Dickson for obtaining for us this information, and to Mr. Ralph Richardson for kindly supplying us with particulars. See Mr. Richardson's Inaugural Address, "Trans. Edinb. Geol. Soc." 1894-95; also "Memorable Edinburgh Houses," by Wilmot Harrison, 1898.), and only four flights of steps from the ground-floor, which is very moderate to some other lodgings that we were nearly taking. The terms are 1 pound 6 shillings for two very nice and LIGHT bedrooms and a sitting-room; by the way, light bedrooms are very scarce articles in Edinburgh, since most of them are little holes in which there is neither air nor light. We called on Dr. Hanley the first morning, whom I think we never should have found, had it not been for a good-natured Dr. of Divinity who took us into his library and showed us a map, and gave us directions how to find him. Indeed, all the Scotchmen are so civil and attentive, that it is enough to make an Englishman ashamed of himself. I should think Dr. Butler or any other fat English Divine would take two utter strangers into his library and show them the way! When at last we found the Doctor, and having made all the proper speeches on both sides, we all three set out and walked all about the town, which we admire excessively; indeed Bridge Street is the most extraordinary thing I ever saw, and when we first looked over the sides, we could hardly believe our eyes, when instead of a fine river, we saw a stream of people. We spend all our mornings in promenading about the town, which we know pretty well, and in the evenings we go to the play to hear Miss Stephens (Probably Catherine Stephens), which is quite delightful; she is very popular here, being encored to such a degree, that she can hardly get on with the play. On Monday we are going to Der F (I do not know how to spell the rest of the word). (1/2. "Der F" is doubtless "Der Freischutz," which appeared in 1820, and of which a selection was given in London, under Weber's direction, in 1825. The last of Weber's compositions, "From Chindara's warbling fount," was written for Miss Stephens, who sang it to his accompaniment "the last time his fingers touched the key-board." (See "Dict. of Music," "Stephens" and "Weber.")) Before we got into our lodgings, we were staying at the Star Hotel in Princes St., where to my surprise I met with an old schoolfellow, whom I like very much; he is just come back from a walking tour in Switzerland and is now going to study for his [degree?] The introductory lectures begin next Wednesday, and we were matriculated for them on Saturday; we pay 10s., and write our names in a book, and the ceremony is finished; but the Library is not free to us till we get a ticket from a Professor. We just have been to Church and heard a sermon of only 20 minutes. I expected, from Sir Walter Scott's account, a soul-cutting discourse of 2 hours and a half.
I remain your affectionate son, C. DARWIN.
LETTER 2. TO CAROLINE DARWIN. January 6th, 1826. Edinburgh.
Many thanks for your very entertaining letter, which was a great relief after hearing a long stupid lecture from Duncan on Materia Medica, but as you know nothing either of the Lectures or Lecturers, I will give you a short account of them. Dr. Duncan is so very learned that his wisdom has left no room for his sense, and he lectures, as I have already said, on the Materia Medica, which cannot be translated into any word expressive enough of its stupidity. These few last mornings, however, he has shown signs of improvement, and I hope he will "go on as well as can be expected." His lectures begin at eight in the morning. Dr. Hope begins at ten o'clock, and I like both him and his lectures VERY much (after which Erasmus goes to "Mr. Sizars on Anatomy," who is a charming Lecturer). At 12 the Hospital, after which I attend Monro on Anatomy. I dislike him and his lectures so much, that I cannot speak with decency about them. Thrice a week we have what is called Clinical lectures, which means lectures on the sick people in the Hospital—these I like very much. I said this account should be short, but I am afraid it has been too long, like the lectures themselves.
I will be a good boy and tell something about Johnson again (not but what I am very much surprised that Papa should so forget himself as call me, a Collegian in the University of Edinburgh, a boy). He has changed his lodgings for the third time; he has got very cheap ones, but I am afraid it will not answer, for they must make up by cheating. I hope you like Erasmus' official news, he means to begin every letter so. You mentioned in your letter that Emma was staying with you: if she is not gone, ask her to tell Jos that I have not succeeded in getting any titanium, but that I will try again...I want to know how old I shall be next birthday—I believe 17, and if so, I shall be forced to go abroad for one year, since it is necessary that I shall have completed my 21st year before I take my degree. Now you have no business to be frowning and puzzling over this letter, for I did not promise to write a good hand to you.
LETTER 3. TO J.S. HENSLOW.
(3/1. Extracts from Darwin's letters to Henslow were read before the Cambridge Philosophical Society on November 16th, 1835. Some of the letters were subsequently printed, in an 8vo pamphlet of 31 pages, dated December 1st, 1835, for private distribution among the members of the Society. A German translation by W. Preyer appeared in the "Deutsche Rundschau," June 1891.)
[15th August, 1832. Monte Video.]
We are now beating up the Rio Plata, and I take the opportunity of beginning a letter to you. I did not send off the specimens from Rio Janeiro, as I grudged the time it would take to pack them up. They are now ready to be sent off and most probably go by this packet. If so they go to Falmouth (where Fitz-Roy has made arrangements) and so will not trouble your brother's agent in London. When I left England I was not fully aware how essential a kindness you offered me when you undertook to receive my boxes. I do not know what I should do without such head-quarters. And now for an apologetical prose about my collection: I am afraid you will say it is very small, but I have not been idle, and you must recollect what a very small show hundreds of species make. The box contains a good many geological specimens; I am well aware that the greater number are too small. But I maintain that no person has a right to accuse me, till he has tried carrying rocks under a tropical sun. I have endeavoured to get specimens of every variety of rock, and have written notes upon all. If you think it worth your while to examine any of them I shall be very glad of some mineralogical information, especially on any numbers between 1 and 254 which include Santiago rocks. By my catalogue I shall know which you may refer to. As for my plants, "pudet pigetque mihi." All I can say is that when objects are present which I can observe and particularise about, I cannot summon resolution to collect when I know nothing.
It is positively distressing to walk in the glorious forest amidst such treasures and feel they are all thrown away upon one. My collection from the Abrolhos is interesting, as I suspect it nearly contains the whole flowering vegetation—and indeed from extreme sterility the same may almost be said of Santiago. I have sent home four bottles with animals in spirits, I have three more, but would not send them till I had a fourth. I shall be anxious to hear how they fare. I made an enormous collection of Arachnidae at Rio, also a good many small beetles in pill boxes, but it is not the best time of year for the latter. Amongst the lower animals nothing has so much interested me as finding two species of elegantly coloured true Planaria inhabiting the dewy forest! The false relation they bear to snails is the most extraordinary thing of the kind I have ever seen. In the same genus (or more truly family) some of the marine species possess an organisation so marvellous that I can scarcely credit my eyesight. Every one has heard of the discoloured streaks of water in the equatorial regions. One I examined was owing to the presence of such minute Oscillariae that in each square inch of surface there must have been at least one hundred thousand present. After this I had better be silent, for you will think me a Baron Munchausen amongst naturalists. Most assuredly I might collect a far greater number of specimens of Invertebrate animals if I took less time over each; but I have come to the conclusion that two animals with their original colour and shape noted down will be more valuable to naturalists than six with only dates and place. I hope you will send me your criticisms about my collection; and it will be my endeavour that nothing you say shall be lost on me. I would send home my writings with my specimens, only I find I have so repeatedly occasion to refer back that it would be a serious loss to me. I cannot conclude about my collection without adding that I implicitly trust in your keeping an exact account against all the expense of boxes, etc., etc. At this present minute we are at anchor in the mouth of the river, and such a strange scene as it is. Everything is in flames—the sky with lightning, the water with luminous particles, and even the very masts are pointed with a blue flame. I expect great interest in scouring over the plains of Monte Video, yet I look back with regret to the Tropics, that magic lure to all naturalists. The delight of sitting on a decaying trunk amidst the quiet gloom of the forest is unspeakable and never to be forgotten. How often have I then wished for you. When I see a banana I well recollect admiring them with you in Cambridge—little did I then think how soon I should eat their fruit.
August 15th. In a few days the box will go by the "Emulous" packet (Capt. Cooke) to Falmouth and will be forwarded to you. This letter goes the same way, so that if in course of due time you do not receive the box, will you be kind enough to write to Falmouth? We have been here (Monte Video) for some time; but owing to bad weather and continual fighting on shore, we have scarcely ever been able to walk in the country. I have collected during the last month nothing, but to-day I have been out and returned like Noah's Ark with animals of all sorts. I have to-day to my astonishment found two Planariae living under dry stones: ask L. Jenyns if he has ever heard of this fact. I also found a most curious snail, and spiders, beetles, snakes, scorpions ad libitum, and to conclude shot a Cavia weighing a cwt.—On Friday we sail for the Rio Negro, and then will commence our real wild work. I look forward with dread to the wet stormy regions of the south, but after so much pleasure I must put up with some sea-sickness and misery.
LETTER 4. TO J.S. HENSLOW. Monte Video, 24th November 1832.
We arrived here on the 24th of October, after our first cruise on the coast of Patagonia. North of the Rio Negro we fell in with some little schooners employed in sealing: to save the loss of time in surveying the intricate mass of banks, Capt. Fitz-Roy has hired two of them and has put officers on them. It took us nearly a month fitting them out; as soon as this was finished we came back here, and are now preparing for a long cruise to the south. I expect to find the wild mountainous country of Terra del Fuego very interesting, and after the coast of Patagonia I shall thoroughly enjoy it.—I had hoped for the credit of Dame Nature, no such country as this last existed; in sad reality we coasted along 240 miles of sand hillocks; I never knew before, what a horrid ugly object a sand hillock is. The famed country of the Rio Plata in my opinion is not much better: an enormous brackish river, bounded by an interminable green plain is enough to make any naturalist groan. So Hurrah for Cape Horn and the Land of Storms. Now that I have had my growl out, which is a privilege sailors take on all occasions, I will turn the tables and give an account of my doing in Nat. History. I must have one more growl: by ill luck the French Government has sent one of its collectors to the Rio Negro, where he has been working for the last six months, and is now gone round the Horn. So that I am very selfishly afraid he will get the cream of all the good things before me. As I have nobody to talk to about my luck and ill luck in collecting, I am determined to vent it all upon you. I have been very lucky with fossil bones; I have fragments of at least 6 distinct animals: as many of them are teeth, I trust, shattered and rolled as they have been, they will be recognised. I have paid all the attention I am capable of to their geological site; but of course it is too long a story for here. 1st, I have the tarsi and metatarsi very perfect of a Cavia; 2nd, the upper jaw and head of some very large animal with four square hollow molars and the head greatly protruded in front. I at first thought it belonged either to the Megalonyx or Megatherium (4/1). The animal may probably have been Grypotherium Darwini, Ow. The osseous plates mentioned below must have belonged to one of the Glyptodontidae, and not to Megatherium. We are indebted to Mr. Kerr for calling our attention to a passage in Buckland's "Bridgewater Treatise" (Volume II., page 20, note), where bony armour is ascribed to Megatherium.); in confirmation of this in the same formation I found a large surface of the osseous polygonal plates, which "late observations" (what are they?) show belong to the Megatherium. Immediately I saw this I thought they must belong to an enormous armadillo, living species of which genus are so abundant here. 3rd, The lower jaw of some large animal which, from the molar teeth, I should think belonged to the Edentata; 4th, some large molar teeth which in some respects would seem to belong to an enormous rodent; 5th, also some smaller teeth belonging to the same order. If it interests you sufficiently to unpack them, I shall be very curious to hear something about them. Care must be taken in this case not to confuse the tallies. They are mingled with marine shells which appear to me identical with what now exist. But since they were deposited in their beds several geological changes have taken place in the country. So much for the dead, and now for the living: there is a poor specimen of a bird which to my unornithological eyes appears to be a happy mixture of a lark, pigeon and snipe (No. 710). Mr. MacLeay himself never imagined such an inosculating creature: I suppose it will turn out to be some well-known bird, although it has quite baffled me. I have taken some interesting Amphibia; a new Trigonocephalus beautifully connecting in its habits Crotalus and the Viperidae, and plenty of new (as far as my knowledge goes) saurians. As for one little toad, I hope it may be new, that it may be christened "diabolicus." Milton must allude to this very individual when he talks of "squat like a toad" (4/2. "...him [Satan] there they [Ithuriel and Zephon] found, Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve" ("Paradise Lost," Book IV., line 800).
"Formerly Milton's "Paradise Lost" had been my chief favourite, and in my excursions during the voyage of the 'Beagle,' when I could take only a single volume, I always chose Milton" ("Autobiography," page 69).); its colours are by Werner (4/3. Werner's "Nomenclature of Colours," Edinburgh, 1821.) ink black, vermilion red and buff orange. It has been a splendid cruise for me in Nat. History. Amongst the Pelagic Crustacea, some new and curious genera. In the Zoophytes some interesting animals. As for one Flustra, if I had not the specimen to back me up nobody would believe in its most anomalous structure. But as for novelty all this is nothing to a family of pelagic animals which at first sight appear like Medusae but are really highly organised. I have examined them repeatedly, and certainly from their structure it would be impossible to place them in any existing order. Perhaps Salpa is the nearest animal, although the transparency of the body is nearly the only character they have in common. I think the dried plants nearly contain all which were then (Bahia Blanca) flowering. All the specimens will be packed in casks. I think there will be three (before sending this letter I will specify dates, etc., etc.). I am afraid you will groan or rather the floor of the lecture room will when the casks arrive. Without you I should be utterly undone. The small cask contains fish: will you open it to see how the spirit has stood the evaporation of the Tropics. On board the ship everything goes on as well as possible; the only drawback is the fearful length of time between this and the day of our return. I do not see any limits to it. One year is nearly completed and the second will be so, before we even leave the east coast of S. America. And then our voyage may be said really to have commenced. I know not how I shall be able to endure it. The frequency with which I think of all the happy hours I have spent at Shrewsbury and Cambridge is rather ominous—I trust everything to time and fate and will feel my way as I go on.
November 24th.—We have been at Buenos Ayres for a week; it is a fine large city, but such a country, everything is mud, you can go nowhere, you can do nothing for mud. In the city I obtained much information about the banks of the Uruguay—I hear of limestone with shells, and beds of shells in every direction. I hope when we winter in the Plata to have a most interesting geological excursion into that country: I purchased fragments (Nos. 837-8) of some enormous bones, which I was assured belonged to the former giants!! I also procured some seeds—I do not know whether they are worth your accepting; if you think so I will get some more. They are in the box. I have sent to you by the "Duke of York" packet, commanded by Lieut. Snell, to Falmouth two large casks containing fossil bones, a small cask with fish and a box containing skins, spirit bottle, etc., and pill-boxes with beetles. Would you be kind enough to open these latter as they are apt to become mouldy. With the exception of the bones the rest of my collection looks very scanty. Recollect how great a proportion of time is spent at sea. I am always anxious to hear in what state the things come and any criticisms about quantity or kind of specimens. In the smaller cask is part of a large head, the anterior portions of which are in the other large one. The packet has arrived and I am in a great bustle. You will not hear from me for some months.
LETTER 5. TO J.S. HENSLOW. Valparaiso, July 24th 1834.
A box has just arrived in which were two of your most kind and affectionate letters. You do not know how happy they have made me. One is dated December 15th, 1833, the other January 15th of the same year! By what fatality it did not arrive sooner I cannot conjecture; I regret it much, for it contains the information I most wanted, about manner of packing, etc., etc.: roots with specimens of plants, etc., etc. This I suppose was written after the reception of my first cargo of specimens. Not having heard from you until March of this year I really began to think that my collections were so poor, that you were puzzled what to say; the case is now quite on the opposite tack; for you are guilty of exciting all my vain feelings to a most comfortable pitch; if hard work will atone for these thoughts, I vow it shall not be spared. It is rather late, but I will allude to some remarks in the January letter; you advise me to send home duplicates of my notes; I have been aware of the advantage of doing so; but then at sea to this day, I am invariably sick, excepting on the finest days, at which times with pelagic animals around me, I could never bring myself to the task—on shore the most prudent person could hardly expect such a sacrifice of time. My notes are becoming bulky. I have about 600 small quarto pages full; about half of this is Geology—the other imperfect descriptions of animals; with the latter I make it a rule only to describe those parts or facts, which cannot be seen in specimens in spirits. I keep my private Journal distinct from the above. (N.B. this letter is a most untidy one, but my mind is untidy with joy; it is your fault, so you must take the consequences.) With respect to the land Planariae, unquestionably they are not molluscous animals. I read your letters last night, this morning I took a little walk; by a curious coincidence, I found a new white species of Planaria, and a new to me Vaginulus (third species which I have found in S. America) of Cuvier. Amongst the marine mollusques I have seen a good many genera, and at Rio found one quite new one. With respect to the December letter, I am very glad to hear the four casks arrived safe; since which time you have received another cargo, with the bird skins about which you did not understand me. Have any of the B. Ayrean seeds produced plants? From the Falklands I acknowledged a box and letter from you; with the letter were a few seeds from Patagonia. At present I have specimens enough to make a heavy cargo, but shall wait as much longer as possible, because opportunities are not now so good as before. I have just got scent of some fossil bones of a MAMMOTH; what they may be I do not know, but if gold or galloping will get them they shall be mine. You tell me you like hearing how I am going on and what doing, and you well may imagine how much I enjoy speaking to any one upon subjects which I am always thinking about, but never have any one to talk to [about]. After leaving the Falklands we proceeded to the Rio S. Cruz, following up the river till within twenty miles of the Cordilleras. Unfortunately want of provisions compelled us to return. This expedition was most important to me as it was a transverse section of the great Patagonian formation. I conjecture (an accurate examination of fossils may possibly determine the point) that the main bed is somewhere about the Miocene period (using Mr. Lyell's expression); I judge from what I have seen of the present shells of Patagonia. This bed contains an ENORMOUS field of lava. This is of some interest, as being a rude approximation to the age of the volcanic part of the great range of the Andes. Long before this it existed as a slate and porphyritic line of hills. I have collected a tolerable quantity of information respecting the period and forms of elevations of these plains. I think these will be interesting to Mr. Lyell; I had deferred reading his third volume till my return: you may guess how much pleasure it gave me; some of his woodcuts came so exactly into play that I have only to refer to them instead of redrawing similar ones. I had my barometer with me, I only wish I had used it more in these plains. The valley of S. Cruz appears to me a very curious one; at first it quite baffled me. I believe I can show good reasons for supposing it to have been once a northern straits like to that of Magellan. When I return to England you will have some hard work in winnowing my Geology; what little I know I have learnt in such a curious fashion that I often feel very doubtful about the number of grains [of value?]. Whatever number they may turn out, I have enjoyed extreme pleasure in collecting them. In T. del Fuego I collected and examined some corallines; I have observed one fact which quite startled me: it is that in the genus Sertularia (taken in its most restricted form as [used] by Lamoureux) and in two species which, excluding comparative expressions, I should find much difficulty in describing as different, the polypi quite and essentially differed in all their most important and evident parts of structure. I have already seen enough to be convinced that the present families of corallines as arranged by Lamarck, Cuvier, etc., are highly artificial. It appears that they are in the same state [in] which shells were when Linnaeus left them for Cuvier to rearrange. I do so wish I was a better hand at dissecting, I find I can do very little in the minute parts of structure; I am forced to take a very rough examination as a type for different classes of structure. It is most extraordinary I can nowhere see in my books one single description of the polypus of any one coralline excepting Alcyonium Lobularia of Savigny. I found a curious little stony Cellaria (5/1. Cellaria, a genus of Bryozoa, placed in the section Flustrina of the Suborder Chilostomata.) (a new genus) each cell provided with long toothed bristle, these are capable of various and rapid motions. This motion is often simultaneous, and can be produced by irritation. This fact, as far as I can see, is quite isolated in the history of zoophytes (excepting the Flustra with an organ like a vulture's head); it points out a much more intimate relation between the polypi than Lamarck is willing to allow. I forgot whether I mentioned having seen something of the manner of propagation in that most ambiguous family, the corallines; I feel pretty well convinced if they are not plants they are not zoophytes. The "gemmule" of a Halimeda contained several articulations united, ready to burst their envelope, and become attached to some basis. I believe in zoophytes universally the gemmule produces a single polypus, which afterwards or at the same time grows with its cell or single articulation.
The "Beagle" left the Sts. of Magellan in the middle of winter; she found her road out by a wild unfrequented channel; well might Sir J. Narborough call the west coast South Desolation, "because it is so desolate a land to behold." We were driven into Chiloe by some very bad weather. An Englishman gave me three specimens of that very fine Lucanoidal insect which is described in the "Camb. Phil. Trans." (5/2. "Description of Chiasognathus Grantii, a new Lucanideous Insect, etc." by J.F. Stephens ("Trans. Camb. Phil. Soc." Volume IV., page 209, 1833.)), two males and one female. I find Chiloe is composed of lava and recent deposits. The lavas are curious from abounding in, or rather being in parts composed of pitchstone. If we go to Chiloe in the summer, I shall reap an entomological harvest. I suppose the Botany both there and in Chili is well-known.
I forgot to state that in the four cargoes of specimens there have been sent three square boxes, each containing four glass bottles. I mention this in case they should be stowed beneath geological specimens and thus escape your notice, perhaps some spirit may be wanted in them. If a box arrives from B. Ayres with a Megatherium head the other unnumbered specimens, be kind enough to tell me, as I have strong fears for its safety. We arrived here the day before yesterday; the views of the distant mountains are most sublime and the climate delightful; after our long cruise in the damp gloomy climates of the south, to breathe a clear dry air and feel honest warm sunshine, and eat good fresh roast beef must be the summum bonum of human life. I do not like the look of the rocks half so much as the beef, there is too much of those rather insipid ingredients, mica, quartz and feldspar. Our plans are at present undecided; there is a good deal of work to the south of Valparaiso and to the north an indefinite quantity. I look forward to every part with interest. I have sent you in this letter a sad dose of egotism, but recollect I look up to you as my father in Natural History, and a son may talk about himself to his father. In your paternal capacity as proproctor what a great deal of trouble you appear to have had. How turbulent Cambridge is become. Before this time it will have regained its tranquillity. I have a most schoolboy-like wish to be there, enjoying my holidays. It is a most comfortable reflection to me, that a ship being made of wood and iron, cannot last for ever, and therefore this voyage must have an end.
October 28th. This letter has been lying in my portfolio ever since July; I did not send it away because I did not think it worth the postage; it shall now go with a box of specimens. Shortly after arriving here I set out on a geological excursion, and had a very pleasant ramble about the base of the Andes. The whole country appears composed of breccias (and I imagine slates) which universally have been modified and oftentimes completely altered by the action of fire. The varieties of porphyry thus produced are endless, but nowhere have I yet met with rocks which have flowed in a stream; dykes of greenstone are very numerous. Modern volcanic action is entirely shut up in the very central parts (which cannot now be reached on account of the snow) of the Cordilleras. In the south of the R. Maypu I examined the Tertiary plains, already partially described by M. Gay. (5/3. "Rapport fait a l'Academie Royale des Sciences, sur les Travaux Geologiques de M. Gay," by Alex. Brongniart ("Ann. Sci. Nat." Volume XXVIII., page 394, 1833.) The fossil shells appear to me to be far more different from the recent ones than in the great Patagonian formation; it will be curious if an Eocene and Miocene (recent there is abundance of) could be proved to exist in S. America as well as in Europe. I have been much interested by finding abundance of recent shells at an elevation of 1,300 feet; the country in many places is scattered over with shells but these are all littoral ones. So that I suppose the 1,300 feet elevation must be owing to a succession of small elevations such as in 1822. With these certain proofs of the recent residence of the ocean over all the lower parts of Chili, the outline of every view and the form of each valley possesses a high interest. Has the action of running water or the sea formed this deep ravine? was a question which often arose in my mind and generally was answered by finding a bed of recent shells at the bottom. I have not sufficient arguments, but I do not believe that more than a small fraction of the height of the Andes has been formed within the Tertiary period. The conclusion of my excursion was very unfortunate, I became unwell and could hardly reach this place. I have been in bed for the last month, but am now rapidly getting well. I had hoped during this time to have made a good collection of insects but it has been impossible: I regret the less because Chiloe fairly swarms with collectors; there are more naturalists in the country, than carpenters or shoemakers or any other honest trade.
In my letter from the Falkland Islands I said I had fears about a box with a Megatherium. I have since heard from B. Ayres that it went to Liverpool by the brig "Basingwaithe." If you have not received it, it is I think worth taking some trouble about. In October two casks and a jar were sent by H.M.S. "Samarang" via Portsmouth. I have no doubt you have received them. With this letter I send a good many bird skins; in the same box with them, there is a paper parcel containing pill boxes with insects. The other pill boxes require no particular care. You will see in two of these boxes some dried Planariae (terrestrial), the only method I have found of preserving them (they are exceedingly brittle). By examining the white species I understand some little of the internal structure. There are two small parcels of seeds. There are some plants which I hope may interest you, or at least those from Patagonia where I collected every one in flower. There is a bottle clumsily but I think securely corked containing water and gas from the hot baths of Cauquenes seated at foot of Andes and long celebrated for medicinal properties. I took pains in filling and securing both water and gas. If you can find any one who likes to analyze them, I should think it would be worth the trouble. I have not time at present to copy my few observations about the locality, etc., etc., [of] these springs. Will you tell me how the Arachnidae which I have sent home, for instance those from Rio, appear to be preserved. I have doubts whether it is worth while collecting them.
We sail the day after to-morrow: our plans are at last limited and definite; I am delighted to say we have bid an eternal adieu to T. del Fuego. The "Beagle" will not proceed further south than C. Tres Montes; from which point we survey to the north. The Chonos Archipelago is delightfully unknown: fine deep inlets running into the Cordilleras—where we can steer by the light of a volcano. I do not know which part of the voyage now offers the most attractions. This is a shamefully untidy letter, but you must forgive me.
LETTER 6. TO J.S. HENSLOW. April 18th, 1835. Valparaiso.
I have just returned from Mendoza, having crossed the Cordilleras by two passes. This trip has added much to my knowledge of the geology of the country. Some of the facts, of the truth of which I in my own mind feel fully convinced, will appear to you quite absurd and incredible. I will give a very short sketch of the structure of these huge mountains. In the Portillo pass (the more southern one) travellers have described the Cordilleras to consist of a double chain of nearly equal altitude separated by a considerable interval. This is the case; and the same structure extends to the northward to Uspallata; the little elevation of the eastern line (here not more than 6,000-7,000 feet.) has caused it almost to be overlooked. To begin with the western and principal chain, we have, where the sections are best seen, an enormous mass of a porphyritic conglomerate resting on granite. This latter rock seems to form the nucleus of the whole mass, and is seen in the deep lateral valleys, injected amongst, upheaving, overturning in the most extraordinary manner, the overlying strata. The stratification in all the mountains is beautifully distinct and from a variety in the colour can be seen at great distances. I cannot imagine any part of the world presenting a more extraordinary scene of the breaking up of the crust of the globe than the very central parts of the Andes. The upheaval has taken place by a great number of (nearly) N. and S. lines; which in most cases have formed as many anticlinal and synclinal ravines; the strata in the highest pinnacles are almost universally inclined at an angle from 70 deg to 80 deg. I cannot tell you how I enjoyed some of these views—it is worth coming from England, once to feel such intense delight; at an elevation from 10 to 12,000 feet there is a transparency in the air, and a confusion of distances and a sort of stillness which gives the sensation of being in another world, and when to this is joined the picture so plainly drawn of the great epochs of violence, it causes in the mind a most strange assemblage of ideas.
The formation I call Porphyritic Conglomerates is the most important and most developed one in Chili: from a great number of sections I find it a true coarse conglomerate or breccia, which by every step in a slow gradation passes into a fine claystone-porphyry; the pebbles and cement becoming porphyritic till at last all is blended in one compact rock. The porphyries are excessively abundant in this chain. I feel sure at least 4/5ths of them have been thus produced from sedimentary beds in situ. There are porphyries which have been injected from below amongst strata, and others ejected, which have flowed in streams; it is remarkable, and I could show specimens of this rock produced in these three methods, which cannot be distinguished. It is a great mistake considering the Cordilleras here as composed of rocks which have flowed in streams. In this range I nowhere saw a fragment, which I believe to have thus originated, although the road passes at no great distance from the active volcanoes. The porphyries, conglomerate, sandstone and quartzose sandstone and limestones alternate and pass into each other many times, overlying (where not broken through by the granite) clay-slate. In the upper parts, the sandstone begins to alternate with gypsum, till at last we have this substance of a stupendous thickness. I really think the formation is in some places (it varies much) nearly 2,000 feet thick, it occurs often with a green (epidote?) siliceous sandstone and snow-white marble; it resembles that found in the Alps in containing large concretions of a crystalline marble of a blackish grey colour. The upper beds which form some of the higher pinnacles consist of layers of snow-white gypsum and red compact sandstone, from the thickness of paper to a few feet, alternating in an endless round. The rock has a most curiously painted appearance. At the pass of the Peuquenes in this formation, where however a black rock like clay-slate, without many laminae, occurring with a pale limestone, has replaced the red sandstone, I found abundant impressions of shells. The elevation must be between 12 and 13,000 feet. A shell which I believe is the Gryphaea is the most abundant—an Ostrea, Turratella, Ammonites, small bivalves, Terebratulae (?). Perhaps some good conchologist (6/1. Some of these genera are mentioned by Darwin ("Geol. Obs." page 181) as having been named for him by M. D'Orbigny.) will be able to give a guess, to what grand division of the formations of Europe these organic remains bear most resemblance. They are exceedingly imperfect and few. It was late in the season and the situation particularly dangerous for snow-storms. I did not dare to delay, otherwise a grand harvest might have been reaped. So much for the western line; in the Portillo pass, proceeding eastward, we meet an immense mass of conglomerate, dipping to the west 45 deg, which rest on micaceous sandstone, etc., etc., upheaved and converted into quartz-rock penetrated by dykes from the very grand mass of protogine (large crystals of quartz, red feldspar, and occasional little chlorite). Now this conglomerate which reposes on and dips from the protogene 45 deg consists of the peculiar rocks of the first described chain, pebbles of the black rock with shells, green sandstone, etc., etc. It is hence manifest that the upheaval (and deposition at least of part) of the grand eastern chain is entirely posterior to the western. To the north in the Uspallata pass, we have also a fact of the same class. Bear this in mind: it will help to make you believe what follows. I have said the Uspallata range is geologically, although only 6,000-7,000 feet, a continuation of the grand eastern chain. It has its nucleus of granite, consists of grand beds of various crystalline rocks, which I can feel no doubt are subaqueous lavas alternating with sandstone, conglomerates and white aluminous beds (like decomposed feldspar) with many other curious varieties of sedimentary deposits. These lavas and sandstones alterate very many times, and are quite conformable one to the other. During two days of careful examination I said to myself at least fifty times, how exactly like (only rather harder) these beds are to those of the upper Tertiary strata of Patagonia, Chiloe and Concepcion, without the possible identity ever having occurred to me. At last there was no resisting the conclusion. I could not expect shells, for they never occur in this formation; but lignite or carbonaceous shale ought to be found. I had previously been exceedingly puzzled by meeting in the sandstone, thin layers (few inches to feet thick) of a brecciated pitchstone. I strongly suspect the underlying granite has altered such beds into this pitchstone. The silicified wood (particularly characteristic) was yet absent. The conviction that I was on the Tertiary strata was so strong by this time in my mind, that on the third day in the midst of lavas and [? masses] of granite I began my apparently forlorn hunt. How do you think I succeeded? In an escarpement of compact greenish sandstone, I found a small wood of petrified trees in a vertical position, or rather the strata were inclined about 20-30 deg to one point and the trees 70 deg to the opposite one. That is, they were before the tilt truly vertical. The sandstone consists of many layers, and is marked by the concentric lines of the bark (I have specimens); 11 are perfectly silicified and resemble the dicotyledonous wood which I have found at Chiloe and Concepcion (6/2. "Geol. Obs." page 202. Specimens of the silicified wood were examined by Robert Brown, and determined by him as coniferous, "partaking of the characters of the Araucarian tribe, with some curious points of affinity with the yew."); the others (30-40) I only know to be trees from the analogy of form and position; they consist of snow-white columns (like Lot's wife) of coarsely crystalline carb. of lime. The largest shaft is 7 feet. They are all close together, within 100 yards, and about the same level: nowhere else could I find any. It cannot be doubted that the layers of fine sandstone have quietly been deposited between a clump of trees which were fixed by their roots. The sandstone rests on lava, is covered by a great bed apparently about 1,000 feet thick of black augitic lava, and over this there are at least 5 grand alternations of such rocks and aqueous sedimentary deposits, amounting in thickness to several thousand feet. I am quite afraid of the only conclusion which I can draw from this fact, namely that there must have been a depression in the surface of the land to that amount. But neglecting this consideration, it was a most satisfactory support of my presumption of the Tertiary (I mean by Tertiary, that the shells of the period were closely allied, or some identical, to those which now live, as in the lower beds of Patagonia) age of this eastern chain. A great part of the proof must remain upon my ipse dixit of a mineralogical resemblance with those beds whose age is known, and the character of which resemblance is to be subject to infinite variation, passing from one variety to another by a concretionary structure. I hardly expect you to believe me, when it is a consequence of this view that granite, which forms peaks of a height probably of 14,000 feet, has been fluid in the Tertiary period; that strata of that period are altered by its heat, and are traversed by dykes from the mass. That these strata have also probably undergone an immense depression, that they are now inclined at high angles and form regular or complicated anticlinal lines. To complete the climax and seal your disbelief, these same sedimentary strata and lavas are traversed by VERY NUMEROUS, true metallic veins of iron, copper, arsenic, silver and gold, and these can be traced to the underlying granite. A gold mine has been worked close to the clump of silicified trees. If when you see my specimens, sections and account, you should think that there is pretty strong presumptive evidence of the above facts, it appears very important; for the structure, and size of this chain will bear comparison with any in the world, and that this all should have been produced in so very recent a period is indeed wonderful. In my own mind I am quite convinced of the reality of this. I can anyhow most conscientiously say that no previously formed conjecture warped my judgment. As I have described so did I actually observe the facts. But I will have some mercy and end this most lengthy account of my geological trip.
On some of the large patches of perpetual snow, I found the famous red snow of the Arctic countries; I send with this letter my observations and a piece of paper on which I tried to dry some specimens. If the fact is new and you think it worth while, either yourself examine them or send them to whoever has described the specimens from the north and publish a notice in any of the periodicals. I also send a small bottle with two lizards, one of them is viviparous as you will see by the accompanying notice. A M. Gay—a French naturalist—has already published in one of the newspapers of this country a similar statement and probably has forwarded to Paris some account; as the fact appears singular would it not be worth while to hand over the specimens to some good lizardologist and comparative anatomist to publish an account of their internal structure? Do what you think fit.
This letter will go with a cargo of specimens from Coquimbo. I shall write to let you know when they are sent off. In the box there are two bags of seeds, one [from the] valleys of the Cordilleras 5,000-10,000 feet high, the soil and climate exceedingly dry, soil very light and stony, extremes in temperature; the other chiefly from the dry sandy Traversia of Mendoza 3,000 feet more or less. If some of the bushes should grow but not be healthy, try a slight sprinkling of salt and saltpetre. The plain is saliferous. All the flowers in the Cordilleras appear to be autumnal flowerers—they were all in blow and seed, many of them very pretty. I gathered them as I rode along on the hill sides. If they will but choose to come up, I have no doubt many would be great rarities. In the Mendoza bag there are the seeds or berries of what appears to be a small potato plant with a whitish flower. They grow many leagues from where any habitation could ever have existed owing to absence of water. Amongst the Chonos dried plants, you will see a fine specimen of the wild potato, growing under a most opposite climate, and unquestionably a true wild potato. It must be a distinct species from that of the Lower Cordilleras one. Perhaps as with the banana, distinct species are now not to be distinguished in their varieties produced by cultivation. I cannot copy out the few remarks about the Chonos potato. With the specimens there is a bundle of old papers and notebooks. Will you take care of them; in case I should lose my notes, these might be useful. I do not send home any insects because they must be troublesome to you, and now so little more of the voyage remains unfinished I can well take charge of them. In two or three days I set out for Coquimbo by land; the "Beagle" calls for me in the beginning of June. So that I have six weeks more to enjoy geologising over these curious mountains of Chili. There is at present a bloody revolution in Peru. The Commodore has gone there, and in the hurry has carried our letters with him; perhaps amongst them there will be one from you. I wish I had the old Commodore here, I would shake some consideration for others into his old body. From Coquimbo you will again hear from me.
LETTER 7. TO J.S. HENSLOW. Lima, July 12th, 1835.
This is the last letter which I shall ever write to you from the shores of America, and for this reason I send it. In a few days time the "Beagle" will sail for the Galapagos Islands. I look forward with joy and interest to this, both as being somewhat nearer to England and for the sake of having a good look at an active volcano. Although we have seen lava in abundance, I have never yet beheld the crater. I sent by H.M.S. "Conway" two large boxes of specimens. The "Conway" sailed the latter end of June. With them were letters for you, since that time I have travelled by land from Valparaiso to Copiapo and seen something more of the Cordilleras. Some of my geological views have been, subsequently to the last letter, altered. I believe the upper mass of strata is not so very modern as I supposed. This last journey has explained to me much of the ancient history of the Cordilleras. I feel sure they formerly consisted of a chain of volcanoes from which enormous streams of lava were poured forth at the bottom of the sea. These alternate with sedimentary beds to a vast thickness; at a subsequent period these volcanoes must have formed islands, from which have been produced strata of several thousand feet thick of coarse conglomerate. (7/1. See "Geological Observations on South America" (London, 1846), Chapter VII.: "Central Chile; Structure of the Cordillera.") These islands were covered with fine trees; in the conglomerate, I found one 15 feet in circumference perfectly silicified to the very centre. The alternations of compact crystalline rocks (I cannot doubt subaqueous lavas), and sedimentary beds, now upheaved fractured and indurated, form the main range of the Andes. The formation was produced at the time when ammonites, gryphites, oysters, Pecten, Mytilus, etc., etc., lived. In the central parts of Chili the structure of the lower beds is rendered very obscure by the metamorphic action which has rendered even the coarsest conglomerates porphyritic. The Cordilleras of the Andes so worthy of admiration from the grandeur of their dimensions, rise in dignity when it is considered that since the period of ammonites, they have formed a marked feature in the geography of the globe. The geology of these mountains pleased me in one respect; when reading Lyell, it had always struck me that if the crust of the world goes on changing in a circle, there ought to be somewhere found formations which, having the age of the great European Secondary beds, should possess the structure of Tertiary rocks or those formed amidst islands and in limited basins. Now the alternations of lava and coarse sediment which form the upper parts of the Andes, correspond exactly to what would accumulate under such circumstances. In consequence of this, I can only very roughly separate into three divisions the varying strata (perhaps 8,000 feet thick) which compose these mountains. I am afraid you will tell me to learn my ABC to know quartz from feldspar before I indulge in such speculations. I lately got hold of a report on M. Dessalines D'Orbigny's labours in S. America (7/2. "Voyage dans l'Amerique Meridionale, etc." (A. Dessalines D'Orbigny).); I experienced rather a debasing degree of vexation to find he has described the Geology of the Pampas, and that I have had some hard riding for nothing, it was however gratifying that my conclusions are the same, as far as I can collect, with his results. It is also capital that the whole of Bolivia will be described. I hope to be able to connect his geology of that country with mine of Chili. After leaving Copiapo, we touched at Iquique. I visited but do not quite understand the position of the nitrate of soda beds. Here in Peru, from the state of anarchy, I can make no expedition.