« VorigeDoorgaan »
Decidedly the most striking thing in the Tropics is the novelty of the vegetable forms. Cocoa- nuts could well be imagined from drawings, if you add to them a graceful lightness which no European tree partakes of. Bananas and plantains are exactly the same as those in hothouses, the acacias or tamarinds are striking from the blueness of their foliage; but of the glorious orange trees, no description, no drawings, will give any just idea; instead of the sickly green of our oranges, the native ones exceed the Portugal laurel in the darkness of their tint, and infinitely exceed it in beauty of förm. Cocoa-nuts, papaws, the light green bananas, and oranges, loaded with fruit, generally surround the more luxuriant villages. Whilst viewing such scenes, one feels the impossibility that any description should come near the mark, much less be overdrawn.
March ist.--Bahia, or San Salvador. I arrived at this place on the 28th of February, and am now writing this letter after having in real earnest strolled in the forests of the new world. No person could imagine anything so beautiful as the ancient town of Bahia, it is fairly embosomed in a luxuriant wood of beautiful trees, and situated on a steep bank, and overlooks the calm waters of the great bay of All Saints. The houses are white and lofty, and, from the windows being narrow and long, have a very light and elegant appearance. Convents, porticos, and public buildings, vary the uniformity of the houses ; the bay is scattered over with large ships; in short, and what can be said more, it is one of the finest views in the Brazils. But the exquisite glorious pleasure of walking amongst such flowers, and such trees, cannot be comprehended but by those who have experienced it. Although in so low a latitude the locality is not disagreeably hot, but at present it is very damp, for it is the rainy season. I find the climate as yet agrees admirably with me; it makes me long to live quietly for some time in such a country. If you really want to have [an idea] of tropical countries, study Humboldt. Skip the scientific parts, and commence after leaving Teneriffe. My feelings amount to admiration the more I read him.
Tell Eyton (I find I am writing to my sisters !) how exceedingly I enjoy America, and that I am sure it will be a great pity if he does not make a start.
This letter will go on the 5th, and I am afraid will be some time before it reaches you ; it must be a warning how in other parts of the world you may be a long time without hearing. A year might by accident thus pass. About the 12th we start for Rio, but we remain some time on the way in sounding the Albrolhos shoals. Tell Eyton as far as my experience goes let him study Spanish, French, drawing, and Humboldt. I do sincerely hope to hear of (if not to see him) in South America. I look forward to the letters in Rio--till each one is acknowledged, mention its date in the next.
We have beat all the ships in maneuvring, so much so that the commanding officer says, we need not follow his example; because we do everything better than his great ship. I begin to take great interest in naval points, more especially now, as I find they all say we are the No. 1 in South America. I suppose the Captain is a most excellent officer. It was quite glorious to-day how we beat the Samarang in furling sails. It is quite a new thing for a “sounding ship” to beat a regular man-of-war; and yet the Beagle is not at all a particular ship. Erasmus will clearly perceive it when he hears that in the night I have actually sat down in the sacred precincts of the quarter deck. You must excuse these queer letters, and recollect they are generally written in the evening after my day's work. I take more pains over my log-book, so that eventually you will have a good account of all the places I visit. Hitherto the voyage has answered admirably lo me, and yet I am now more fully aware of your wisdom in throwing cold water on the whole scheme; the chances are so numerous of turning out quite the reverse; to such an extent do I feel this, that if my advice was asked by any person on a similar occasion, I should be very cautious in encouraging him. I have not time to write to anybody else, so send to Maer to let them know, that in the midst of the glorious tropical scenery, I do not forget how instrumental they were
in placing me there. I will not rapturise again, but I give myself great credit in not being crazy out of pure delight.
Give my love to every soul at home, and to the Owens.
I think one's affections, like other good things, flourish and increase in these tropical regions.
The conviction that I am walking in the New World is even yet marvellous in my own eyes, and I dare say it is little less so to you, the receiving a letter from a son of yours in such a quarter.
Believe me, my dear Father,
C. Darwin to W. D. Fox.
May, 1832. MY DEAR Fox,
I have delayed writing to you and all my other friends till I arrived here and had some little spare time. My mind has been, since leaving England, in a perfect hurricane of delight and astonishment, and to this hour scarcely a minute has passed in idleness. ...
At St. Jago my natural history and most delightful labours commenced. During the three weeks I collected a host of marine animals, and enjoyed many a good geological walk. Touching at some islands, we sailed to Bahia, and from thence to Rio, where I have already been some weeks. My collections go on admirably in almost every branch. As for insects, I trust I shall send a host of undescribed species to England. I believe they have no small ones in the collections, and here this morning I have taken minute Hydropori, Noterus, Colymbetes, Hydrophilus, Hydrobius, Gromius, &c., &c., as specimens of fresh-water beetles. I am entirely occupied with land animals, as the beach is only sand. Spiders and the adjoining tribes have perhaps given me, from their novelty, the most pleasure. I think I have already taken several new genera.
But Geology. carries the day: it is like the pleasure of gambling. Speculating, on first arriving, what the rocks may be, I often mentally cry out 3 to i tertiary against primitive ; but the latter have hitherto won all the bets. So much for the grand end of my voyage ; in other respects things are equally flourishing. My life, when at sea, is so quiet, that to a person who can employ himself, nothing can be pleasanter; the beauty of the sky and brilliancy of the ocean together make a picture. But when on shore, and wandering in the sublime forests, surrounded by views more gorgeous than even Claude ever imagined, I enjoy a delight which none but those who have experienced it can understand. If it is to be done, it must be by studying Humboldt. At our ancient snug breakfasts, at Cambridge, I little thought that the wide Atlantic would ever separate us; but it is a rare privilege that with the body, the feelings and memory are not divided, On the contrary, the pleasantest scenes in my life, many of which have been in Cambridge, rise from the contrast of the present, the more vividly in my imagination. Do you think any diamond beetle will ever give me so much pleasure as our old friend crux major ? .... It is one of my most constant amusements to draw pictures of the past; and in them I often see you and poor little Fan. Oh, Lord, and then old Dash, poor thing! Do you recollect how you all tormented me about his beautiful tail ?
.... Think when you are picking insects off a hawthorn-hedge on a fine May day (wretchedly cold, I have no doubt), think of me collecting amongst pine-apples and orangetrees; whilst staining your fingers with dirty blackberries, think and be envious of ripe oranges. This is a proper piece of bravado, for I would walk through many a mile of sleet, snow, or rain to shake you by the hand. My dear old Fox, God bless you. Believe me,
Yours very affectionately,
C. Darwin to J. S. Henslow.
Rio de Janeiro, May 18, 1832. MY DEAR Henslow, * *
* * Till arriving at Teneriffe (we did not touch at Madeira) I was scarcely out of my hammock, and really suffered more than you can well imagine from such a cause. At Santa Cruz, whilst looking amongst the clouds for the Peak, and repeating to myself Humboldt's sublime descriptions, it was announced we must perform twelve days' strict quarantine. We had made a short passage, so “ Up jib,” and away for St. Jago. You will say all this sounds very bad, and so it was ; but from that to the present time it has been nearly one scene of continual enjoyment. A net over the stern kept me at full work till we arrived at St. Jago. Here we spent three most delightful weeks. The geology was pre-eminently interesting, and I believe quite new; there are some facts on a large scale of upraised coast (which is an excellent epoch for all the volcanic rocks to date from), that would interest Mr. Lyell.
One great source of perplexity to me is an utter ignorance whether I note the right facts, and whether they are of sufficient importance to interest others. In the one thing collecting I cannot go wrong. St. Jago is singularly barren, and produces few plants or insects, so that my hammer was my usual companion, and in its company most delightful hours I spent. On the coast I collected many marine animals, chiefly gasteropodous (I think some new). I examined pretty accurately a Caryophyllea, and, if my eyes are not bewitched, former descriptions have not the slightest resemblance to the animal. I took several specimens of an Octopus which possessed a most marvellous power of changing its colours, equalling any chameleon, and evidently accommodating the changes to the colour of the ground which it passed over. Yellowish green, dark brown, and red, were the prevailing colours; this fact appears to be new, as far as I can find out. Geology and