« VorigeDoorgaan »
follow the example of Hayti; and, considering the enormous healthy-looking black population, it will be wonderful if, at some future day, it does not take place. There is at Rio a man (I know not his title) who has a large salary to prevent (I believe) the landing of slaves; he lives at Botofogo, and yet that was the bay where, during my residence, the greater number of smuggled slaves were landed. Some of the AntiSlavery people ought to question about his office; it was the subject of conversation at Rio amongst the lower English. ...
C. Darwin to J. M. Herbert.
Maldonado, Rio Plata, June 2, 1833. MY DEAR HERBERT,
I have been confined for the last three days to a miserable dark room, in an old Spanish house, from the torrents of rain; I am not, therefore, in very good trim for writing ; but, defying the blue devils, I will send you a few lines, if it is merely to thank you very sincerely for writing to me. I received your letter, dated December ist, a short time since. We are now passing part of the winter in the Rio Plata, after having had a hard summer's work to the south. Tierra del Fuego is indeed a miserable place; the ceaseless fury of the gales is quite tremendous. One evening we saw old Cape Horn, and three weeks afterwards we were only thirty miles to windward of it. It is a grand spectacle to see all nature thus raging; but Heaven knows every one in the Beagle has seen enough in this one summer to last them their natural lives.
The first place we landed at was Good Success Bay. It was here Banks and Solander met such disasters on ascending one of the mountains. The weather was tolerably fine, and I enjoyed some walks in a wild country, like that behind Barmouth. The valleys are impenetrable from the entangled woods, but the higher parts, near the limits of perpetual snow, are bare. From some of these hills the scenery, from its savage, solitary character, was most sublime. The only inhabitant of these heights is the guanaco, and with its shrill neigh
ing it often breaks the stillness. The consciousness that no European foot had ever trod much of this ground added to the delight of these rambles. How often and how vividly have many of the hours spent at Barmouth come before my mind! I look back to that time with no common pleasure ; at this moment I can see you seated on the hill behind the inn, almost as plainly as if you were really there. It is necessary to be separated from all which one has been accustomed to, to know how properly to treasure up such recollections, and at this distance, I may add, how properly to esteem such as yourself, my dear old Herbert. I wonder when I shall ever see you again. I hope it may be, as you say, surrounded with heaps of parchment; but then there must be, sooner or later, a dear little lady to take care of you and your house. Such a delightful vision makes me quite envious. This is a curious life for a regular shore-going person such as myself; the worst part of it is its extreme length. There is certainly a great deal of high enjoyment, and on the contrary a tolerable share of vexation of spirit. Everything, however, shall bend to the pleasure of grubbing up old bones, and captivating new animals. By the way, you rank my Natural History labours far too high. I am nothing more than a lions' provider: I do not feel at all sure that they will not growl and finally destroy me.
It does one's heart good to hear how things are going on in England. Hurrah for the honest Whigs ! I trust they will soon attack that monstrous stain on our boasted liberty, Colonial Slavery. I have seen enough of Slavery and the dispositions of the negroes, to be thoroughly disgusted with the lies and nonsense one hears on the subject in England. Thank God, the cold-hearted Tories, who, as J. Mackintosh used to say, have no enthusiasm, except against enthusiasm, have for the present run their race. I am sorry, by your letter, to hear you have not been well, and that you partly attribute it to want of exercise. I wish you were here amongst the green plains; we would take walks which would rival the Dolgelly ones, and you should tell stories, which I would be1834.]
A NEW OSTRICH.
lieve, even to a cubic fathom of pudding. Instead I must take my solitary ramble, think of Cambridge days, and pick up snakes, beetles and toads. Excuse this short letter (you know I never studied 'The Complete Letter-writer '), and believe me, my dear Herbert,
Your affectionate friend,
C. Darwin to J. S. Henslow.
East Falkland Island, March, 1834. ..... I am quite charmed with Geology, but like the wise animal between two bundles of hay, I do not know which to like the best; the old crystalline group of rocks, or the softer and fossiliferous beds. When puzzling about stratifications, &c., I feel inclined to cry“a fig for your big oysters, and your bigger megatheriums.” But then when digging out some fine bones, I wonder how any man can tire his arms with hammering granite. By the way I have not one clear idea about cleavage, stratification, lines of upheaval. I have no books which tell me much, and what they do I cannot apply to what I see. In consequence I draw my own conclusions, and most gloriously ridiculous ones they are, I sometimes fancy. . . . Can you throw any light into my mind by telling me what relation cleavage and planes of deposition bear to each other?
And now for my second section, Zoology. I have chiefly been employed in preparing myself for the South Sea by examining the polypi of the smaller Corallines in these latitudes. Many in themselves are very curious, and I think are quite undescribed; there was one appalling one, allied to a Flustra, which I dare say I mentioned having found to the northward, where the cells have a movable organ (like a vulture's head, with a dilatable beak), fixed on the edge. But what is of more general interest is the unquestionable (as it appears to me) existence of another species of ostrich, besides the Struthio rhea. All the Gauchos and Indians state it is the case, and I place the greatest faith in their observations. I have the head, neck, piece of skin, feathers, and legs of one. The differences are chiefly in the colour of the feathers and scales on legs, being feathered below the knees, nidification, and geographical distribution. So much for what I have lately done; the prospect before me is full of sunshine, fine weather, glorious scenery, the geology of the Andes, plains abounding with organic remains (which perhaps I may have the good luck to catch in the very act of moving), and lastly, an ocean, its shores abounding with life, so that, if nothing unforeseen happens, I will stick to the voyage, although for what I can see this may last till we return a fine set of white. headed old gentlemen. I have to thank you most cordially for sending me the books. I am now reading the Oxford · Report ;'* the whole account of your proceedings is most glorious; you remaining in England cannot well imagine how excessively interesting I find the reports. I am sure from my own thrilling sensations when reading them, that they cannot fail to have an excellent effect upon all those residing in distant colonies, and who have little opportunity of seeing the periodicals. My hammer has flown with redoubled force on the devoted blocks; as I thought over the eloquence of the Cambridge President, I hit harder and harder blows. I hope to give my arms strength for the Cordilleras. You will send me through Capt. Beaufort a copy of the Cambridge “Report.'
I have forgotten to mention that for some time past, and for the future, I will put a pencil cross on the pill-boxes containing insects, as these alone will require being kept particularly dry; it may perhaps save you some trouble. When this letter will go I do not know, as this little seat of discord has lately been embroiled by a dreadful scene of murder, and at present there are more prisoners than inhabitants. If a merchant vessel is chartered to take them to Rio, I will send some specimens (especially my few plants and seeds). Re
* The second meeting of the British Association was held at Oxford in 1832, the following year it was at Cambridge.
member me to all my Cambridge friends. I love and treasure up every recollection of dear old Cambridge. I am much obliged to you for putting my name down to poor Ramsay's monument; I never think of him without the warmest admiration. Farewell, my dear Henslow. Believe me your most obliged and affectionate friend,
C. Darwin to Miss C. Darwin.
East Falkland Island, April 6, 1831. MY DEAR CATHERINE,
When this letter will reach you I know not, but probably some man-of-war will call here before, in the common course of events, I should have another opportunity of writing.
After visiting some of the southern islands, we beat up through the magnificent scenery of the Beagle Channel to Jemmy Button's * country. We could hardly recognise poor Jemmy. Instead of the clean, well-dressed stout lad we left him, we found him a naked, thin, squalid savage. York and Fuegia had moved to their own country some months ago, the former having stolen all Jemmy's clothes. Now he had nothing except a bit of blanket round his waist. Poor Jemmy was very glad to see us, and, with his usual good feeling, brought several presents (otter-skins, which are most valuable to themselves) for his old friends. The Captain offered to take him to England, but this, to our surprise, he at once refused. In the evening his young wife came alongside and showed us the reason. He was quite contented. Last year, in the height of his indignation, he said "his country people no sabe nothing-damned fools ”-now they were very good people, with too much to eat, and all the luxuries of life. Jemmy and his wife paddled away in their
* Jemmy Burton, York Minster, and Fuegia Basket, were natives of Tierra del Fuego, brought to England by Captain Fitz-Roy in his former voyage, and restored to their country by him in 1832.