Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

of this most important year in your life. Previously I had only heard the plain fact that you were married. You are a true Christian and return good for evil, to send two such letters to so bad a correspondent as I have been. God bless you for writing so kindly and affectionately ; if it is a pleasure to have friends in England, it is doubly so to think and know that one is not forgotten because absent. This

voyage is terribly long. I do so earnestly desire to return, yet I dare hardly look forward to the future, for I do not know what will become of me. Your situation is above envy: I do not venture even to frame such happy visions. To a person fit to take the office, the life of a clergyman is a type of all that is respectable and happy. You tempt me by talking of your fireside, whereas it is a sort of scene I never ought to think about. I saw the other day a vessel sail for England; it was quite dangerous to know how easily I might turn deserter. As for an English lady, I have almost forgotten what she issomething very angelic and good. As for the women in these countries, they wear caps and petticoats, and a very few have pretty faces, and then all is said. But if we are not wrecked on some unlucky reef, I will sit by that same fireside in Vale Cottage and tell some of the wonderful stories, which you seem to anticipate and, I presume, are not very ready to believe. Gracias a dios, the prospect of such times is rather shorter than formerly.

From this most wretched City of the Kings' we sail in a fortnight, from thence to Guayaquil, Galapagos, Marquesas, Society Islands, &c., &c. I look forward to the Galapagos with more interest than any other part of the voyage. They abound with active volcanoes, and, I should hope, contain Tertiary strata. I am glad to hear you have some thoughts of beginning Geology, I hope you will; there is so much larger a field for thought than in the other branches of Natural History. I am become a zealous disciple of Mr. Lyell's views, as known in his admirable book. Geologising in South America, I am tempted to carry parts to a greater extent even than he does. Geology is a capital science to begin, as

6

1836.)

TAHITI.

235

it requires nothing but a little reading, thinking, and hammering. I have a considerable body of notes together ; but it is a constant subject of perplexity to me, whether they are of sufficient value for all the time I have spent about them, or whether animals would not have been of more certain value.

I shall indeed be glad once again to see you and tell you how grateful I feel for your steady friendship. God bless you, my very dear Fox.

Believe me,
Yours affectionately,

CHAS. DARWIN.

C. Darwin to J. S. Henslow.

Sydney, January, 1836. MY DEAR HENSLOW,

This is the last opportunity of communicating with you before that joyful day when I shall reach Cambridge. I have very little to say: but I must write if it is only to express my joy that the last year is concluded, and that the present one, in which the Beagle will return, is gliding onwards. We have all been disappointed here in not finding even a single letter; we are, indeed, rather before our expected time, otherwise, I dare say, I should have seen your handwriting. I must feed upon the future, and it is beyond bounds delightful to feel the certainty that within eight months I shall be residing once again most quietly in Cambridge. Certainly, I never was intended for a traveller; my thoughts are always rambling over past or future scenes ; I cannot enjoy the present happiness for anticipating the future, which is about as foolish as the dog who dropped the real bone for its shadow.

[blocks in formation]

In our passage across the Pacific we only touched at Tahiti and New Zealand ; at neither of these places or at sea had I much opportunity of working. Tahiti is a most charming spot. Everything which former navigators have written

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

is true. ‘A new Cytheræa has risen from the ocean.' De-
licious scenery, climate, manners of the people are all in har-
mony. It is, moreover, admirable to behold what the mis-
sionaries both here and at New Zealand have effected. I
firmly believe they are good men working for the sake of a
good cause. I much suspect that those who have abused or
sneered at the missionaries have generally been such as were
not very anxious to find the natives moral and intelligent
beings. During the remainder of our voyage we shall only
visit places generally acknowledged as civilised, and nearly
all under the British flag. These will be a poor field for
Natural History, and without it I have lately discovered that
the pleasure of seeing new places is as nothing. I must
return to my old resource and think of the future, but that I
may not become more prosy, I will say farewell till the day
arrives, when I shall see my Master in Natural History,
and can tell him how grateful I feel for his kindness and
friendship.

Believe me, dear Henslow,
Ever yours, most faithfully,

Chas, DARWIN.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

C. Darwin to Miss S. Darwin.

Bahia, Brazil, August 4 (1836). MY DEAR SUSAN,

I will just write a few lines to explain the cause of this letter being dated on the coast of South America. Some singular disagreements in the longitudes made Captain FitzRoy anxious to complete the circle in the southern hemisphere, and then retrace our steps by our first line to England. This zigzag manner of proceeding is very grievous; it has put the finishing stroke to my feelings. I loathe, I abhor the sea and all ships which sail on it. But I yet believe we shall reach England in the latter half of October. At Ascension I received Catherine's letter of October, and yours of November; the letter at the Cape was of a later date, but letters of all sorts are inestimable treasures, and I thank you both for

1836.)

BAHIA

237

them. The desert, volcanic rocks, and wild sea of Ascension, as soon as I knew there was news from home, suddenly wore a pleasing aspect, and I set to work with a good-will at my old work of Geology. You would be surprised to know how entirely the pleasure in arriving at a new place depends on letters. We only stayed four days at Ascension, and then made a very good passage to Bahia.

I little thought to have put my foot on South American coast again. It has been almost painful to find how much good enthusiasm has been evaporated during the last four years. I can now walk soberly through a Brazilian forest; not but what it is exquisitely beautiful, but now, instead of seeking for splendid contrasts, I compare the stately mango trees with the horse-chestnuts of England. Although this zigzag has lost us at least a fortnight, in some respects I am glad of it. I think I shall be able to carry away one vivid picture of inter-tropical scenery. We go from hence to the Cape de Verds; that is, if the winds or the Equatorial calms will allow us. I have some faint hopes that a steady foul wind might induce the Captain to proceed direct to the Azores. For which most untoward event I heartily pray.

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

C. DARWIN.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

C. Darwin to J. S. Henslow.

St. Helena, July 9, 1836. MY DEAR HENSLOW,

I am going ask you to do me a favour. I am very anxious to belong to the Geological Society. I do not know, but I suppose it is necessary to be proposed some time before being ballotted for; if such is the case, would you be good enough to take the proper preparatory steps ? Professor Sedgwick very kindly offered to propose me before leaving England, if he should happen to be in London. I dare say he would yet do so.

I have very little to write about. We have neither seen, done, or heard of anything particular for a long time past; and indeed if at present the wonders of another planet could be displayed before us, I believe we should unanimously exclaim, what a consummate plague. No schoolboys ever sung the half sentimental and half jovial strain of 'dulce domum' with more fervour, than we all feel inclined to do. But the whole subject of dulce domum,' and the delight of seeing one's friends, is most dangerous, it must infallibly make one very prosy or very boisterous. Oh, the degree to which I long to be once again living quietly with not one single novel object near me! No one can imagine it till he has been whirled round the world during five long years in a ten-gun-brig. I am at present living in a small house (amongst the clouds) in the centre of the island, and within stone's throw of Napoleon's tomb. It is blowing a gale of wind with heavy rain and wretchedly cold ; if Napoleon's ghost haunts his dreary place of confinement, this would be a most excellent nigh: for such wandering spirits. If the weather chooses to permit me, I hope to see a little of the Geology (so often partially described) of the island. I suspect that differently from most volcanic islands its structure is rather complicated. It seems strange that this little centre of a distinct creation should, as is asserted, bear marks of recent elevation.

The Beagle proceeds from this place to Ascension, then to

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »