- Events sorted by day of the month:
Upon returning to London Darwin started to work on the topic
of free will, theorizing that all thoughts and actions were
simply functions of the brain following the dictates of natural
laws. He did, however, see these natural laws as a product
of god's creation. By now Darwin had several projects going
at the same time. The Beagle Journal was waiting to be published
(Capt. FitzRoy was still causing delays), the Zoology series
needed a lot of work, the Geology of South America book was
being edited down to a smaller text on the formation of coral
reefs, and a paper he was writing on his observations at Glen
Roy was coming along well. In his spare time (one wonders
how he managed to find any!) he went to the London Zoo to
observe the facial expressions of baboons and monkeys.
The Beagle arrived at the Rio Negro river. Darwin went on
another inland expedition on horseback upstream to the town
of Patagones, then overland to General Juan Rosas camp on
the Rio Colorado.
He finished writing his autobiography.
Darwin returned to Shrewsbury for summer vacation. Professor
Sedgwick came by the house on 4 August loaded down with hiking
gear and geology tools. He and Darwin went off to Northern
Wales where Sedgwick gave him a crash course in field geology.
Within a week Darwin was addicted to the subject. He only
spent a week with Sedgwick, then went off to visit with friends
at Barmouth, geologizing along the way.
Survey corrections were completed today, and the Beagle headed
straight for England.
Darwin went on holiday to Barmouth, in Wales. He spent sunny
days collecting beetles, and rainy days fly fishing at the
mountain lakes. When he was young Darwin was an avid hiker
and during this holiday he explored the Capel Curig region
and climbed Mt. Snowdon, the highest peak in England.
Today Darwin received two letters from his sisters telling
him how worried they had been about his being ill for such
a long time at Valparaiso. They feared that if he continued
on the voyage his health may be ruined for the rest of his
life, and they pleaded with him to return to England at once.
He immediately wrote a letter home telling his sisters that
he was resolute to see the voyage to the end, ill health or
Darwin arrived at General Rosas camp and received permission
to proceed overland to Bahia Blanca. He spent his days riding
on the plains, while his nights were spent drinking, smoking
cigars, and singing songs with the gauchos. Darwin seemed
to take quite a liking to living on the open plains. While
at Bahia Blanca he uncovered the complete fossil of a very
large animal that he could not identify at all (it turned
out to be a giant ground sloth). Oddly enough, the fossil
was located below a layer of white sea shells, similar to
the layer he found on the island of Santiago. This puzzled
Darwin a great deal because it was obviously a very old specimen,
but how did it end up below an ocean deposit, and why did
it become extinct?
Darwin and Emma had another son, Francis Darwin. Darwin spent
the entire summer on barnacle work. Stomach convulsions and
sickness took their toll as well.
Darwin sent off his first load of specimens and notes to Henslow
in Cambridge. He had doubts about the quality of his work,
and feared Henslow would think the shipment was quite small.
The specimens included several rocks, tropical plants, four
bottles of animals in spirits, many beetles, and various marine
animals; all numbered, catalogued and described.
The Beagle arrived at the Azores and anchored at the island
of Terceira. Darwin went off exploring what he had been told
was an active crater. He did not find the landscape very appealing.
At about this time Capt. FitzRoy started surveying along the
Patagonia coastline. Darwin spent many weeks collecting fossils
of which he knew very little, but he figured they may be of
some interest to the experts back in England. Capt. FitzRoy
had a difficult time understanding why Darwin was bringing
all sorts of "useless junk" aboard the ship. The
fossils turned out to be giant rodent-like animals, armadillo
shells, ground sloths and giant teeth, most of which were
unknown to science.
Darwin's brother, Erasmus, died and was buried at St. Mary's
Church in the village of Downe.
Upon returning from North Wales Darwin found letters waiting
for him from Revd. John Henslow and George Peacock. Darwin
had been invited to be a naturalist aboard H.M.S. Beagle on
its two year survey of South America. The ship was to set
sail on 25 September. He immediately accepted the offer, but
his father and sisters were totally against the idea. They
saw it as a continuation of Darwin's long line of idle pursuits.
Worst of all, such a journey would get in the way of Darwin
going into the clergy. However, his father's refusal was not
absolute, telling Darwin that if he could find a man with
common sense who thought it was a good idea then he would
allow him to go.
Darwin wrote to Revd. Henslow that his father would not allow
him to go on the voyage. At the same time his father wrote
to Josiah Wedgwood II about the offer Darwin had been given.
In the afternoon Darwin rode out to Maer Hall (home of the
Wedgwoods) for the start of the shooting season on 1 September.
At Maer Hall Darwin related his father's objections to his
uncle Josiah. After much discussion Josiah wrote a letter
to Darwin's father, answering all of the objections in his
some time during this month:
Darwin's father, Dr. Robert Darwin, was now quite ill. Darwin
went to Shrewsbury to see his father, but while there his
illness flared up again and he spent most of his time resting
on the sofa in the living room.
Darwin's Tenerife Island plans were crushed when found out
that his friend, Ramsay, had died on 31 July. Months of preparation
were wasted and Darwin was now very despondent.
The burial of a Dragoon soldier outside Mr. Case's school
at Saint Chad's parish church made a lasting impression on
Darwin's narrative of the Beagle voyage was published separately
and given the title - "Journal of Researches into the
Natural History and Geology of the Countries Visited During
the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle". Fortunately, this time
his journal sold very well, and still does so today - 162
While on holiday at Leith Hill, Darwin finished the proofs
for his book "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and