AUGUST - Events sorted by day of the month:

August 01 1838
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.

August 03 1833
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.

August 03 1876
He finished writing his autobiography.

August 04 1831
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.

August 06 1836
Survey corrections were completed today, and the Beagle headed straight for England.

August 11 1830
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.

August 12 1835
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 not.

August 13 1833
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?

August 16 1848
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.

August 19 1832
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.

August 19 1836
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.

August 22 1832
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.

August 26 1881
Darwin's brother, Erasmus, died and was buried at St. Mary's Church in the village of Downe.

August 29 1831
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.

August 30 1831
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.

August 31 1831
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 favor.

Events some time during this month:

August (late) 1847
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.

August (mid) 1831
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.

August 1817
The burial of a Dragoon soldier outside Mr. Case's school at Saint Chad's parish church made a lasting impression on Darwin.

August 1839
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 years later.

August 1872
While on holiday at Leith Hill, Darwin finished the proofs for his book "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals".