1839 - Darwin, Charles. Journal of Researches into the Geology and Natural History of the Various Countries Visited by H.M.S. Beagle. [Chapter XX only] [ Brussels: Editions Culture et Civilisation, 1969] - [Front matter]

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  1839 - Darwin, Charles. Journal of Researches into the Geology and Natural History of the Various Countries Visited by H.M.S. Beagle. [Chapter XX only] [ Brussels: Editions Culture et Civilisation, 1969] - [Front matter]
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FROM 1832 to 1886.


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I HAVE stated in the preface to the Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle, that it was in consequence of a wish expressed by Captain FitzRoy, of having some scientific person on board, accompanied by an offer from him, of giving up part of his own accommodations, that I volunteered my services, which received, through the kindness of the hydrographer, Captain Beaufort, the sanction of the Lords of the Admiralty. As I feel that the opportunities, which I enjoyed of studying the Natural History of the different countries we visited, have been wholly due to Captain FitzRoy, I hope I may here be permitted to express my gratitude to him; and to add that, during the five years we were together, I received from him the most cordial friendship and steady assistance. Both to Captain FitzRoy and to all the Officers of the Beagle, 1

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I shall ever feel most thankful for the undeviating kindness with which I was treated, during our long voyage.

The present volume contains in the form of a journal, a sketch of those observations in Geology and Natural History, which I thought would possess some general interest. As it was originally intended to have preceded any more detailed account, and as its publication has been unavoidably delayed, the briefness and imperfection of several parts, I hope, will be excused. I have given a list of those errata (partly caused by my absence from town when some of the sheets were in the press) which affect the sense; and have added an Appendix, containing some additional facts (especially on the theory of the transportation of erratic blocks) which I have accidentally met with during the past year. I hope shortly to publish my geological observations; the first Part of which will be on the Volcanic Islands of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and on Coral Formations; and the second Part will treat of South America. Several numbers of the Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle, due to the disinterested zeal of several of our first naturalists, have already appeared. These works could not have been undertaken, had it not been for the liberality of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury, who, through the representation of the Right Honourable the Chancellor of the Exchequer, have been pleased to grant a sum of one

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thousand pounds towards defraying part of the expenses of publication. I have repeated in this volume my account of the habits of some of the birds and quadrupeds of South America, as I thought such observations might interest those readers who would not, probably, consult the larger work. But I trust that naturalists will remember, that mere sketches are here given on several subjects, which will hereafter be more fully entered on, or have already been so: --for instance, the notices of the strange fossil quadrupeds of the eastern plains of South America are exceedingly imperfect, whilst an admirable account of them by Mr. Owen now forms the first part of the Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle.

I shall have the pleasure of acknowledging the great assistance I have received from several naturalists, in the course of this and the succeeding works; but I must be here allowed to return my most sincere thanks to the Reverend Professor Henslow, who, when I was an under-graduate at Cambridge, was one chief means of giving me a taste for Natural History, --who, during my absence, took charge of the collections I sent home, and by his correspondence directed my endeavours, --and who, since my return, has constantly rendered me every assistance which the kindest friend could offer.

C. D.


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Porto Praya--Ribeira Grande--Dry and clear atmosphere--Effect of lava on a calcareous beach--Habits of Aplysia and Octopus--St. Paul's rocks non-volcanic--Incrustations and stalactites of phosphate of lime--Insects first colonists--Fernando Noronha--Bahia--Extent of granite-- Burnished rocks--Habits of Diodon--Pelagic confervae, infusoria-- Causes of discoloured sea..........1


Rio de Janeiro--Excursion north of Cape Frio--Great evaporation-- Slavery--Botofogo Bay--Terrestrial Planariae--Clouds on Corcovado-- Heavy rain--Musical Hyla--Lampyris and its larvae--Elater, springing powers of-- Blue haze--Noise of butterfly--Entomology--Ants--Wasp-killing spider -- Parasitical spider -- Artifices of Epeira--Gregarious spider--Spider with imperfect web..........21


Monte Video--Maldonado--Excursion to R. Polanco--Lazo and Bolas-- Partridges--Geology--Absence of trees--Cervus campestris -- River hog--Tucutuco--Molothrus, cuckoo-like habits of--Tyrant-flycatcher --Mocking-bird--Carrion hawks--Tubes formed by lightning--House struck..........44


Rio Negro--Estancias attacked by Indians--Salt lakes, geological position of--Flamingoes--R. Negro to Colorado--Sacred tree--Patagonian hare --Indian families--General Rosas--Proceed to Bahia Blanca--Sand dunes--Negro lieutenant--Bahia Blanca--Ground incrusted with Glauber salt--Punta Alta--Zorillo..........74


Bahia Blanca--Geology--Extinct quadrupeds, four Edentata, horse, Ctenomys--Recent extinction of--Longevity of species--Large animals do not require luxuriant vegetation--Southern Africa--Siberian fossils --Catalogue of extinct quadrupeds of South America--Two species of Ostrich, habits of-- Tinochorus--Oven-bird--Armadilloes--Venomous snake, toad, lizard--Hybernation of animals--Habits of sea-pen--Indian wars and massacres--Arrow-head, antiquarian relic..........95

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Set out for Buenos Ayres--Rio Sauce--Sierra Ventana--Transportal of pebbles--Third posta--Driving horses--Bolas--Partridges and foxes-- Features of country--Long-legged plover -- Teru-tero -- Hailstorm-- Natural enclosures in Sierra Tapalguen--Flesh of puma--Meat diet-- Guardia del Monte--Effects of cattle on the vegetation--Cardoon-- Buenos Ayres--Corral where animals are slaughtered..........124


Excursion to St. Fe--Thistle beds--Habits and range of Bizcacha--Little owl--Saline streams--Level plains--Mastodon--St. Fe--Change in landscape--Geology--Tooth of extinct horse--Range of fossil quadrupeds--Pampas full of remains--Effects of great droughts--Droughts periodical -- Parana--Habits of Jaguar--Scissor-beak--Kingfisher, parrot, and scissor-tail--Revolution--Buenos Ayres--State of government..........142


Monte Video--Excursion to Colonia del Sacramiento--Horses, swimming --Value of an Estancia--Cattle, how counted--Geology--Great thistle-beds--Rio Negro--Perforated pebbles--Shepherd dogs--Horses broken in, Gauchos riding, feats with lazo--Toxodon--Armadillo-like gigantic covering--Great tail--Return to Monte Video--Character of inhabitants..........167


Rio Plata--Flocks of butterflies--Beetles alive in the sea--Aeronaut spiders -- Pelagic animals -- Phosphorescence of sea--Port Desire-- Spanish settlements--Zoology--Guanaco--Excursion to head of harbour--Indian grave--Port St. Julian--Geology of Patagonia, successive terraces, transport of pebbles--Fossil gigantic llama--Types of organization constant--Change in zoology of America--Causes of extinction..........185


Santa Cruz--Expedition up river--Indians--Character of Patagonia-- Basaltic platform--Immense streams of lava--Non-transport of blocks by river--Excavation of valley--Condor, range and habits--Cordillera--Erratic boulders of great size--Indian relics--Return to the ship..........213


Tierra del Fuego, first arrival--Good Success Bay--Interview with savages--Scenery of the forests--Sir J. Banks's hill--Cape Horn--Wigwam Cove--Miserable condition of savages--Beagle channel--Fuegians --Ponsonby Sound--Equality of condition among the natives--Bifurcation of the Beagle channel--Glaciers--Return to ship..........227

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Falkland Islands--Excursion round island--Aspect--Cattle, horses, rabbit, wolf-like fox--Fire made of bones--Art in making fire--Manner of hunting wild cattle--Geology, fossil shells--Valleys filled with great fragments, scenes of violence--Penguin--Geese -- Eggs of doris-- Zoophytes, coralline phosphorescent--Compound animals..........245


Strait of Magellan--Port Famine--Geology--Deep water in channels-- Erratic boulders--Climate--Limit of fruit trees--Mean temperature-- Luxuriant forests--Rigour of antarctic islands--Contrast with the north--Snow-line, great flexure of--Glaciers--Icebergs transport fragments of rock--Glaciers in low latitude--Absence of erratic blocks in intertropical regions--Glaciers and tropical vegetation--Comparison with northern hemisphere--Siberian animals in ice--Embedded in cold mud--Edible fungus--Zoology--Fucus giganteus--Leave Tierra del Fuego..........263


Valparaiso--Excursion to base of Andes--Structure of land--Ascend Bell of Quillota--Shattered masses of greenstone--Immense valleys-- Mines--State of miners--Santiago--Hot baths of Cauquenes--Gold mines--Grinding mills--Perforated stones--Habits of puma--El turco and tapacolo--Humming-birds..........308


Chiloe--General aspect--Boat excursion -- Native Indians -- Castro-- Large leaves of Gunnera scabra--Tame fox--Ascend San Pedro-- Chonos Archipelago--Peninsula of Tres Montes--Granitic range-- Lowe's Harbour--Wild potato--Forest--Formation of peat--Myopotamus, otter and mice--Cheucau and barking-bird--Furnarius--Singular character of ornithology--Petrels..........333


San Carlos, Chiloe--Osorno in eruption--Ride to Castro and Cucao-- Impenetrable forests--Valdivia--Apple-trees--Ride to Llanos--Indians--Earthquake--Concepcion--Great earthquake--Effects of wave --Rocks fissured--Appearance of the former towns--Water in the bay black and boiling--Direction of vibration--Stones displaced--Cause of great waves--Permanent elevation of land--Great lake of fluid rock beneath crust of the globe--Connexion of volcanic phenomena--Slow elevation of mountain chains, cause of earthquakes..........356

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Valparaiso--Passage of Andes by Portillo pass--Sagacity of mules-- Mountain torrents--Mines, how discovered--Marine alluvium in valleys--Effect of snow on surface--Geology, fossil shells, double range, two periods of elevation--Red snow--Winds on the crest--Snow thawing in pinnacles--Dry and clear atmosphere--Electricity--Pampas-- Zoology of opposite sides of Andes--Uniformity of Patagonia--Locusts --Great bugs--Mendoza--Uspallata--Silicified trees in vertical position--Indian ruins--Change of climate--Earthquake arching bed of river--Cumbre--Valparaiso...............382


Bell mountain--Miners--Great loads carried by the Apires--Coquimbo --Earthquake--Geology--Terraces--Excursion up valley--Road to Guasco--Desert country--Valley of Copiapo--Rain and earthquakes, Meteorolites--Hydrophobia--Copiapo--Excursion to Cordillera--Dry valley--Cold gales of wind--Noises from a hill--Iquique, complete desert--Salt alluvium--Nitrate of soda--Lima--Unhealthy country-- Ruins of Callao, overthrown by earthquake--Elevated shells on island of San Lorenzo--Plain with embedded fragments of pottery..........416


Galapagos Islands volcanic--Number of craters--Leafless bushes--Colony at Charles Island--James Island--Salt-lake in crater -- Character of vegetation -- Ornithology, curious finches--Great tortoises, habits of, paths to the wells--Marine lizard feeds on sea-weed--Terrestrial species, burrowing habits, herbivorous--Importance of reptiles in the Archipelago--Few and minute insects--American type of organization--Species confined to certain islands--Tameness of birds--Falkland Islands --Fear of man an acquired instinct..........453


Tahiti--Aspect of--Vegetation on the slope of the mountains--View of Eimeo--Excursion in the interior--Profound ravines--Succession of waterfalls--Number of wild useful plants--Temperance of inhabitants --Their moral state--Parliament convened--New Zealand--Bay of islands--Hippahs--Absence of all government--Excursion to Waimate --Missionary establishment--English weeds now run wild--Waiomio-- Funeral service--Sail from New Zealand..........479


Sydney--Prosperity of--Excursion to Bathurst--Aspect of woods--Party of Natives--Gradual extinction of aborigines -- Blue Mountains-- Weatherboard--View of a grand gulf-like valley--Sheep farm--Lion-ant--Bathurst, general civility of lower orders--State of society--Van

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Diemen's Land--Hobart Town: --Aborigines all banished--Mount Wellington--King George's Sound--Cheerless aspect of country-- Bald Head, calcareous casts like branches of trees--Party of natives-- Leave Australia..........515


Keeling Island--Singular appearance of--Scanty Flora--Transport of seeds --Birds and insects--Ebbing and flowing springs--Coral formations resisting power of ocean--Fields of dead coral--Stones transported by roots of trees--Great crab--Stinging corals--Structure of lagoon islands --Encircling and Barrier reefs--General proofs of subsidence in the Pacific--Theory of lagoon islands caused by subsidence of the land-- Pacific and Indian oceans divided into alternate areas of elevation and subsidence--Points of eruption lie within the areas of elevation..........539


Mauritius, beautiful appearance of--Hindoos--Cape of Good Hope--St. Helena--Geology--History of changes in vegetation, probable cause of extinction of land-shells---Ascension--Green Hill--Curious incrustations of calcareous matter on tidal rocks--Bahia--Brazil--Splendour of tropical scenery--Pernambuco--Singular reef--Azores--Supposed crater--Hints to collectors--Retrospect of the most impressive parts of the voyage................570



1   I must likewise take this opportunity of returning my sincere thanks to Mr. Bynoe, the surgeon of the Beagle, for his very kind attention to me when I was ill at Valparaiso.

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