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Title: Robert FitzRoy


1
Robert FitzRoy Born 5 July 1805 at Ampton Hall,
Ampton, Suffolk Died 30 April 1865 by his own
hand Captain of the H.M.S. Beagle during Charles
Darwins voyage on it (1831 1836). Second
Governor of New Zealand (1843 1845) Became a
noted meteorologist who placed weather
forecasting on a scientific basis Became a
Vice-Admiral in the English Navy
2
Robert FitzRoy was born into an aristocratic
family, son of General Lord Charles FitzRoy. He
was descended from one of the illegitimate
children (over a dozen, by numerous mistresses)
of the merrie king Charles II of England
(whence the name FitzRoy, son of the king).
The FitzRoys were the children of Barbara
Villiers Palmer, one of them an ancestor of
Diana, Princess of Wales. His half-uncle was the
controversial Robert Stewart (1769 1822),
better known as Viscount Castlereagh and the 2nd
Marquess of Londonderry. Stewart, who appears to
have gone mad (from syphilis?) and committed
suicide by slitting his throat, was buried in
Westminster Abbey, and Lord Byron wrote of his
grave Posterity will ne'er survey A nobler
grave than this Here lie the bones of
Castlereagh Stop, traveller, and piss.
3
Robert FitzRoys Career Entered the Royal Naval
College, Portsmouth in February 1818, at the age
of 12. Entered the Royal Navy in 1819. Had a
brilliant academic career, becoming lieutenant in
1824 (still a teenager) with an unprecedented
100 score on the examination. Served during the
next few years on the HMS Thetis and the HMS
Ganges, where his talents were quite evident.
4
The HMS Beagle The HMS Beagle was a 10-gun
two-masted brig-sloop belonging to the Royal
Navy, launched in 1820. It was part of the
celebration of the coronation of King George IV
of England in July, 1820, becoming the first ship
to sail under the new London Bridge. It was not
used again until 1826. In 1825 four guns were
removed and a mizzen mast added, making it a
3-masted 6-gun bark.
5
The First Voyage of the HMS Beagle
On 22 May 1826 the HMS Beagle set sail under
Captain Pringle Stokes as part of a survey
expedition on the east coast of South America led
by Captain Philip Parker King on the much larger
HMS Adventure. The focus of the survey was
Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. When Captain
Stokes became depressed and shot himself in
August 1828, Rear Admiral Richard Otway on the
HMS Ganges placed his assistant, 23-year-old
Robert FitzRoy, in charge of the Beagle.
6
The Beagle under Captain FitzRoy Captain FitzRoy
was in charge of the rest of the first voyage of
the Beagle, from December 15, 1828 until its
return to England on October 14, 1830. One night
a boat used by some crew members who went ashore
was stolen by some of the native Fuegians. In the
process of unsuccessfully trying to recover the
boat, FitzRoy took four hostages, three males and
one young female, whom he eventually decided to
take back to England and transform into civilized
Christians.
7
Tierra del Fuego Archipelago at the southern tip
of South America
8
Fuegians
Fuegians drawn on voyage of the Beagle.
9
Characteristics of the Fuegians Fuegians were the
indigenous peoples of Tierra del Fuego. There
were several different tribes speaking several
different languages, some of them isolates
unrelated to any other languages. Fuegians were
nomadic hunter-gatherers who ate fish, seals, sea
birds, even whales at times. They did not have
permanent shelters they carried their belongings
with them, making temporary huts out of stakes,
dry sticks, and leather. They traveled on sea by
canoes. They were normally naked during warm
weather and wore skins when it was colder. The
Fuegians disappeared as European colonists
brought them new diseases, destroyed their food
supplies of seals and whales, and hunted them
into extinction in the late 19th century. The
last full-blooded native Fuegian died in 1999.
10
One Fuegian taken by Robert FitzRoy died en route
to England. FitzRoy drew these sketches of the
three Fuegians he brought back to England. Top
Jemmy Button and Fuegia Basket. Bottom Front and
side views of York Minster.
11
FitzRoys Fuegians in England In England, the
three Fuegians were taught English, given western
clothing to wear, taught dinner table and other
manners, taught to use English silverware, and
made into good Anglicans. They were also placed
in school, which was not completely successful.
York Minster was much older and larger than the
other first-graders in his school, and not very
happy with his situation. York Minster always had
his eye out for Fuegia Basket, whom he
desperately wanted to make his girlfriend, wife,
lover whatever. Something happened that soured
FitzRoy on this experiment. Probably York
Minster did make Fuegia Basket his lover, and
maybe even raped her. At any rate, FitzRoy
decided he should return them to Tierra del
Fuego, and he sought an opportunity to do so.
12
Second Voyage of the HMS Beagle Departure 27
December 1831 Return 2 October 1836, nearly five
years later Purposes By the Admiralty, to
continue making surveys, mainly of South America
this part was successful. By FitzRoy, to
return the Fuegians, whose experience in England
had not worked out well, to their native lands
with a missionary (Richard Matthews) who would
begin the conversion of the natives this part
was wildly unsuccessful.
13
How Charles Darwin came to be on the HMS
Beagle Robert FitzRoy worried about the fact that
the first captain of the HMS Beagle had committed
suicide, that his half-uncle, Viscount
Castlereagh, had committed suicide, and he
himself sometimes felt depressed. So he decided
he wanted a gentleman naturalist aboard as a
companion, one who paid his own way (customary in
those days). First he approached a friend, Harry
Chester, who turned him down. Then he asked his
superior, Captain Francis Beaufort, for help
finding a companion.
14
Sir Francis Beaufort Born in 1774. Died in 1857.
15
Sir Francis Beaufort (1774 1857) Descended from
French Huguenots who fled France after the St.
Bartholomews Day Massacre of 1572. Joined the
Royal Navy and distinguished himself as a captain
and surveyor (South America, Anatolia) interested
in charting, meteorology (he created the Beaufort
Wind Force Scale), and hydrology. At age 55
became head of the Hydrographic Office of the
British Admiralty, where he worked 25 years. Also
ran the Greenwich and Cape Hope Astronomical
Observatories. Knighted in 1848, at age of 74.
16
Darwins Geology Trip with Adam Sedgwick In July
1831, after graduating from Cambridge University,
Darwin still not eager to start a working
career as a clergyman went with Adam Sedgwick,
geology professor at Cambridge, on a geology tour
of North Wales. Darwin had been turned off on
geology by Jamesons lectures at Edinburgh and he
had not studied it at Cambridge, despite
Sedgwicks good reputation as a teacher. But in
1831 he had again become interested in geology,
and Henslow had urged him to go with Sedgwick.
Darwin saw how carefully Sedgwick took notes on
this trip probably a good lesson for his Beagle
voyage. Darwin cut the tour short to make it
back for the start of hunting season on September
1.
17
Darwin gets his chance to voyage on the HMS
Beagle Beaufort asked George Peacock at the
University of Cambridge to suggest a naturalist,
and Peacock asked two established naturalists,
the clergymen Leonard Jenyns and Professor John
Stevens Henslow, botanist at Cambridge. Both
Jenyns and Henslow turned down the offer, but
both suggested the 22-year-old Charles Darwin as
a good choice. On returning home from my short
geological tour in North Wales, I found a letter
from Henslow, informing me that Captain Fitz-Roy
was willing to give up part of his own cabin to
any young man who would volunteer to go with him
without pay as naturalist to the Voyage of the
Beagle. I was instantly eager to accept the
offer, but my father strongly objected, adding
the words, fortunate for me, If you can find any
man of common sense who advises you to go I will
give my consent. So I wrote that evening and
refused the offer. Autobiography
18
A second opinion On the next morning I went to
Maer to be ready for September 1st start of the
shooting season, and, whilst out shooting, my
uncle Josiah Wedgwood, later Darwins
father-in-law sent for me, offering to drive me
over to Shrewsbury and talk with my father, as my
uncle thought it would be wise in me to accept
the offer. My father always maintained that he
was one of the most sensible men in the world,
and he at once consented in the kindest manner.
I had been rather extravagant at Cambridge, and
to console my father, said, that I should be
deuced clever to spend more than my allowance
whilst on board the Beagle but he answered with
a smile, But they tell me you are very clever.
Autobiography
19
Almost defeated by a nose Next day I started
for Cambridge to see Henslow, and thence to
London to see Fitz-Roy, and all was soon
arranged. Afterwards, on becoming very intimate
with Fitz-Roy, I heard that I had run a very
narrow risk of being rejected, on account of the
shape of my nose! He was an ardent disciple of
Lavater, and was convinced that he could judge of
a man's character by the outline of his features
and he doubted whether any one with my nose could
possess sufficient energy and determination for
the voyage. But I think he was afterwards well
satisfied that my nose had spoken falsely.
Autobiography Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741
1801) was a Swiss clergyman and physiognomist.
20
The importance of Darwins voyage The voyage of
the Beagle has been by far the most important
event in my life, and has determined my whole
career yet it depended on so small a
circumstance as my uncle offering to drive me
thirty miles to Shrewsbury, which few uncles
would have done, and on such a trifle as the
shape of my nose. I have always felt that I owe
to the voyage the first real training or
education of my mind I was led to attend closely
to several branches of natural history, and thus
my powers of observation were improved, though
they were always fairly developed.
Autobiography
21
Importance of Darwins voyage on the HMS
Beagle Darwin visited Brazils Atlantic
rainforest before logging began, and discovered
the incredible diversity of its flora and fauna,
which differed greatly from Great Britains. In
Argentina he found fossils of extinct mammals and
discovered that they were different from living
species but often closely resembled them. He
discovered that animals in different parts of
South America resembled each other, but not
completely they exhibited distinct
differences. In the Galapágos Islands he
discovered that animals like birds and turtles
differed slightly from one island to another.
22
FitzRoys initial objections to Darwin were that
his politics might be wrong (the Darwins were
Whigs, and thus more liberal than FitzRoy, a
Tory), and that the shape of his nose indicated
that he might not have sufficient
determination. However, he basically liked Darwin
and so it was agreed that Darwin would accompany
FitzRoy, sharing his quarters. Beaufort
consented to Darwin, and Darwins father agreed
to pay his way on the ship. In later years,
FitzRoy, a very religious man married to a very
religious wife, bitterly regretted having
provided Charles Darwin with the opportunity that
led him to develop the theory of evolution.
23
Darwins Books Since the ship was going to be
crowded, Darwin could not bring many books along.
They included John Miltons Paradise Lost and
Alexander von Humboldts Personal Narrative of a
Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New
Continent, or at least part of it, the latter a
gift from Henslow. In addition, the first volume
of Charles Lyells Principles of Geology appeared
in 1830, the year before the voyage of the HMS
Beagle began, and Captain FitzRoy bought a copy
for Darwin and gave it to him. These three books
were apparently well-read by Darwin. Whenever he
took an excursion inland in South America, Darwin
carried Paradise Lost along. He presumably read
Humboldt carefully, since it dealt with travels
in the Western Hemisphere from 1799 to 1804.
Lyells book also taught him a lot of new geology
that Darwin tried successfully to use to
explain the geological features he saw on the
voyage.
24
John Milton (1606 1674) Most learned of all
English poets. Born a Catholic, became a
Protestant, but noted for his heretical religious
views (e.g., rejected the Trinity and regarded
Jesus as not divine) probably closest to Quakers
or Unitarians. Had radical, republican political
views and always championed liberty. Samuel
Johnson called him acrimonious and surly.
25
Alexander von Humboldt (1769 1859) German
naturalist, explorer and writer
1806
1843
26
Humboldt, who was born in Berlin but lived mainly
in Paris, and the French naturalist Aimé Bonpland
made a Latin American expedition from 1799 to
1804, visiting the Canary Islands, Venezuela, the
Orinoco and Amazon Rivers, Colombia, Ecuador,
Peru, Cuba, Mexico, and the United
States. Humboldt wrote a multi-volume work on
this expedition, his Personal Narrative of a
Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New
Continent (written in French), considered a
classic that laid the foundation for the
discipline of biogeography. He worked on this
for 21 years and never actually completed it.
27
Darwin on Humboldt Darwin thought very highly of
Humboldt, writing He was the greatest travelling
scientist who ever lived. and I have always
admired him now I worship him. In 1845, Darwin
wrote to Joseph Hooker I never forget that my
whole course of life is due to having read and
re-read as a youth Humboldts Personal
Narrative. The two eventually became acquainted
and Humboldt thought very highly of Darwin, too,
based on his report on the voyage of the HMS
Beagle.
28
The Second Voyage of the HMS Beagle, 1831 1836
29
Bible reading on the HMS Beagle (by Augustus
Earle) there were 74 on board.
30
1831, December 27 The H.M.S. Beagle
departs 1832, January 16 The Beagle reaches
the Cape Verde Islands. 1832, February 1834,
May The Beagle is on the east coast of South
America. 1834, June 1835, September The
Beagle is on the west coast of South
America. 1835, September 15 October 20 At
the Galapagos Islands. 1835, November 15 26
The Beagle is at Tahiti. 1835, December 21
1836, March 14 The Beagle is in New Zealand,
Australia, and Tasmania. 1836, March to October
The Beagle is in the Indian Ocean, then the
Cape of Good Hope, the South Atlantic Ocean,
Bahia (Brazil), the Azores, and back in Plymouth
on October 2, 1836.
31
Departure of the HMS Beagle Originally, the
voyage was planned to last two years (fall 1831
to fall 1833) actually, it lasted nearly five
years (late December 1831 to early October
1836). This voyage was initially intended for the
HMS Chanticleer, but it was in bad shape, and the
HMS Beagle was used instead, completely
refurbished in 1831, mostly at FitzRoys
expense. Planned departure date was October 24,
1831, but this was delayed until December 10.
The ship immediately encountered such bad weather
that it returned and did not make its real
departure until December 27, from Plymouth,
England.
32
Darwin on FitzRoy Fitz-Roy's character was a
singular one, with very many noble features he
was devoted to his duty, generous to a fault,
bold, determined, and indomitably energetic, and
an ardent friend to all under his sway. He would
undertake any sort of trouble to assist those
whom he thought deserved assistance. He was a
handsome man, strikingly like a gentleman, with
highly courteous manners.   Fitz-Roy's temper
was a most unfortunate one. It was usually worst
in the early morning, and with his eagle eye he
could generally detect something amiss about the
ship, and was then unsparing in his blame. He
was very kind to me, but was a man very difficult
to live with on the intimate terms which
necessarily followed from our messing by
ourselves in the same cabin. We had several
quarrels. Autobiography
33
December 1831 to March 1832 England to
Brazil Darwin immediately became very seasick,
and both he and FitzRoy thought it likely that he
would want to leave the ship as soon as
possible. The first stop was supposed to be at
Madeira, according to FitzRoys orders, but it
was skipped because of rough seas. The next stop
was supposed to be Tenerife, in the Canary
Islands, and that would have made a good place
for Darwin to disembark.
34
1832, January 6 The Beagle arrived at
Tenerife, but the authorities would not allow the
English to come ashore for fear they might bring
cholera, which was a problem in several British
cities at the time. On the way to the Cape Verde
Islands, the seas were much better and Darwins
seasickness temporarily disappeared, so he
soldiered on, staying on the ship. 1832, January
16 The Beagle arrives at the Cape Verde Islands
and Darwin went ashore and began exploring its
zoology, botany, and geology. I had brought
with me the first volume of Lyell's Principles
of Geology' which I studied attentively and the
book was of the highest service to me in many
ways. The very first place which I examined,
namely St. Jago in the Cape de Verde islands,
showed me clearly the wonderful superiority of
Lyell's manner of treating geology, compared with
that of any other author, whose works I had with
me or ever afterwards read. Autobiography
35
St. Pauls Rocks On February 16 the ship reached
the island of St. Pauls, a cluster of rocks only
¾ of a mile in circumference and only 50 feet
above sea level at its highest point. We found
on St. Pauls only two kinds of birds the booby
and the noddy. The former is a species of
gannet, and the latter a tern. Both are of a
tame and stupid disposition, and are so
unaccustomed to visitors that I could have killed
any number of them with my geological hammer.
The booby lays her eggs on the bare rock, but the
tern makes a very simple nest with seaweed. By
the side of many of these nests a small flying
fish was placed, which, I suppose, had been
brought by the male bird for its partner. Not a
single plant, not even a lichen, grows on this
islet yet it is inhabited by several insects and
spiders. Darwin also found a fly, a tick, a
small brown moth, a beetle, and a woodlouse.
36
On February 29, 1832, the HMS Beagle reached the
coast of South America, arriving at Bahia,
Brazil. The ship remained on the east coast over
two years, until May 1834. The day has passed
delightfully. Delight itself, however, is a weak
term to express the feelings of a naturalist who,
for the first time, has wandered by himself in a
Brazilian forest. The elegance of the grasses,
the novelty of the parasitical plants, the beauty
of the flowers, the glossy green of the foliage,
but above all the general luxuriance of the
vegetation, filled me with admiration. A most
paradoxical mixture of sound and silence pervades
the shady parts of the wood. The noise from the
insects is so loud, that it may be heard even in
a vessel anchored several hundred yards from the
shore yet within the recesses of the forest a
universal silence appears to reign. To a person
fond of natural history, such a day as this
brings with it a deeper pleasure than he can ever
hope to experience again.
37
Darwin, with strong anti-slavery sentiments like
all the Darwins and Wedgwoods, was aghast at
seeing the treatment of slaves in Brazil, but
FitzRoy felt differently. He defended and
praised slavery, which I abominated, and told me
that he had just visited a great slave-owner, who
had called up many of his slaves and asked them
whether they were happy, and whether they wished
to be free, and all answered No. I then asked
him, perhaps with a sneer, whether he thought
that the answer of slaves in the presence of
their master was worth anything? This made him
excessively angry, and he said that as I doubted
his word we could not live any longer together.
38
I thought that I should have been compelled to
leave the ship but as soon as the news spread,
which it did quickly, as the captain sent for the
first lieutenant to assuage his anger by abusing
me, I was deeply gratified by receiving an
invitation from all the gun-room officers to mess
with them. But after a few hours Fitz-Roy showed
his usual magnanimity by sending an officer to me
with an apology and a request that I would
continue to live with him. Darwin and FitzRoy
maintained cordial but somewhat strained
relations the rest of their lives.
39
April July 1832 Rio de Janeiro and environs,
Brazil. Note this was fall and winter.
Darwin went ashore and traveled considerably,
visiting tropical rain forests, as well as some
Brazilian estates, and collecting many insects.
40
July 1832 Uruguay Darwin spent time ashore
visiting towns and countryside, studying the
zoology, and procuring many kinds of fresh meat
for the ship (deer, ostriches, agouti (a rodent),
and armadillos.
41
While FitzRoy explored the coast for several
months, Darwin collected, labeled, and prepared
for shipment (to Henslow) many fossils and
specimens from the area, occasionally rejoining
the ship as it moved to a different area. During
this time Darwins health appeared to be
excellent. Darwin was startled by the fact that
the fossil remains demonstrated of South America
wide and repeated exterminations of its
inhabitants. He wondered why these occurred,
rejecting the explanation of catastrophism
because the geology seemed to indicate only slow
and gradual changes such as uniformitarian
geologists believed in.
42
December 16, 1832 On this day Darwin for the
first time saw Tierra de Fuegians in their native
land. He referred to them as Indians. While
he thought them capable of becoming civilized (he
was thinking of the ones FitzRoy had brought back
to England, who had even learned to speak
English), he was astonished at their wild and
savage state of life, so different from that of
Englishmen. In January 1833 the ship arrived at
the district Jemmy Button came from, and he was
reunited with his mother ad brothers. The
Fuegians and the missionary Richard Matthews were
left ashore, but all their belongings were
quickly plundered, and Matthews stayed only nine
days.
43
Falkland Islands On March 15, 1833 the Beagle
visited the Falkland Islands off the southern
coast of Argentina they had, two months earlier,
been claimed as British by two naval vessels sent
there. After the possession of these miserable
islands had been contested by France, Spain, and
England, they were left uninhabited. The
government of Buenos Aires then sold them to a
private individual, but likewise used them, as
old Spain had done before, for a penal
settlement. England claimed her right and seized
them. The Englishman who was left in charge of
the flag was consequently murdered. A British
officer was next sent, unsupported by any power
and when we arrived, we found him in charge of a
population, of which rather more than half were
runaway rebels and murderers. Darwin in Voyage
of the Beagle.
44
May 1, 1833 The Beagle returned to Montevideo,
Uruguay, dropping Darwin off at Maldonado. He
took a 12-day trip to the interior with two
gauchos (cowboys) and a team of horses. Upon
returning to Montevideo he wrote to his sister
asking if his father could provide him with 60 a
year to hire a manservant, Syms Covington, who
was on the Beagle doing odd jobs. During the rest
of the year Darwin went on other expeditions from
Uruguay and Argentina, finding some large fossils
he couldnt identify.
45
Extermination of Indians In his travels with the
Spanish in South America, Darwin witnessed many
battles with Indians, whom the Spanish generally
killed (except for children, whom they
enslaved). Every one here is fully convinced
that this is the most just war, because it is
against barbarians. Who would believe in this
age that such atrocities could be committed in a
Christian civilized country? Early 1834 During
the first part of 1834 the Beagle surveyed Tierra
del Fuego and paid another visit to the Falkland
Islands. In April and May Darwin and FitzRoy took
a trip inland along the River Santa Cruz.
46
June 1834 through September 1835 During these 15
months the HMS Beagle was on the west coast of
South America (mostly Chile). On 20 February
1835, about 1130 in the morning local time,
there was a great earthquake in Chile which
Darwin experienced near the town of Valdivia, but
which affected many towns and villages along the
coast.
47
February 20th. This day has been memorable in
the annals of Valdivia, for the most severe
earthquake experienced by the oldest inhabitant.
I happened to be on shore, and was lying down in
the wood to rest myself. It came on suddenly,
and lasted two minutes, but the time appeared
much longer. The rocking of the ground was very
sensible. The undulations appeared to my
companion and myself to come from due east,
whilst others thought they proceeded from
south-west this shows how difficult it sometimes
is to perceive the directions of the vibrations.
There was no difficulty in standing upright, but
the motion made me almost giddy it was something
like the movement of a vessel in a little
cross-ripple, or still more like that felt by a
person skating over thin ice, which bends under
the weight of his body. Voyage of the Beagle,
Chapter XIV.
48
A bad earthquake at once destroys our oldest
associations the earth, the very emblem of
solidity, has moved beneath our feet like a thin
crust over a fluid one second of time has
created in the mind a strange idea of insecurity,
which hours of reflection would not have
produced. In the forest, as a breeze moved the
trees, I felt only the earth tremble, but saw no
other effect. Captain Fitz Roy and some officers
were at the town during the shock, and there the
scene was more striking for although the houses,
from being built of wood, did not fall, they were
violently shaken, and the boards creaked and
rattled together. The people rushed out of doors
in the greatest alarm.
49
It is these accompaniments that create that
perfect horror of earthquakes, experienced by all
who have thus seen, as well as felt, their
effects. Within the forest it was a deeply
interesting, but by no means an awe-exciting
phenomenon. The tides were very curiously
affected. The great shock took place at the time
of low water and an old woman who was on the
beach told me that the water flowed very quickly,
but not in great waves, to high- water mark, and
then as quickly returned to its proper level
this was also evident by the line of wet sand.
The same kind of quick but quiet movement in the
tide happened a few years since at Chiloe, during
a slight earthquake, and created much causeless
alarm. In the course of the evening there were
many weaker shocks, which seemed to produce in
the harbour the most complicated currents, and
some of great strength.
50
The next day I landed at Talcahuano, and
afterwards rode to Concepcion. Both towns
presented the most awful yet interesting
spectacle I ever beheld. To a person who had
formerly known them, it possibly might have been
still more impressive for the ruins were so
mingled together, and the whole scene possessed
so little the air of a habitable place, that it
was scarcely possible to imagine its former
condition. The earthquake commenced at half-past
eleven o'clock in the forenoon. If it had
happened in the middle of the night, the greater
number of the inhabitants (which in this one
province must amount to many thousands) must have
perished, instead of less than a hundred as it
was, the invariable practice of running out of
doors at the first trembling of the ground, alone
saved them. In Concepcion each house, or row of
houses, stood by itself, a heap or line of ruins
but in Talcahuano, owing to the great wave,
little more than one layer of bricks, tiles, and
timber with here and there part of a wall left
standing, could be distinguished. From this
circumstance Concepcion, although not so
completely desolated, was a more terrible, and if
I may so call it, picturesque sight.
51
Ruins at Conception, Chile, after the earthquake
of 20 February 1835 drawing by J. C. Wickham,
first lieutenant.
52
March 14 April 10, 1835 In the fall of 1835,
starting from Santiago, Chile, Darwin took a trip
to the Andes, one he had been preparing for a
while. He had a Spanish-speaking guide and many
mules carrying provisions for the trip. Darwin
is elated to find evidence that the Andes had
risen from the sea fossil seashells at 14,000
feet and petrified trees at 7,000 feet. He
realizes that the animals on the western side are
different from those on the eastern side, and
that the mountains have acted as a barrier to the
crossing of animals. He brought back many
specimens to have plenty of proof of his
discoveries.
53
The Chileans were puzzled by the HMS Beagle and
by Darwins expeditions to investigate the
geology. Many are convinced that the Beagle,
which pops in and out of different harbors, is
engaged in smuggling, and that Darwin is a mining
prospector. Darwin manages to put most of them
off by telling them that he is just interested in
earthquakes, volcanoes, and hot springs, and
other geological features, and asks them, arent
they also curious about the same things? On July
19, 1835, the Beagle arrives at Lima, Peru.
Darwin is shocked at the decay of the city and
its buildings, even its churches, but is struck
by the beauty of the Spanish women. On September
7, 1835, the Beagle leaves for the Galapagos
Archipelago, first sighting one of the islands on
September 15 and arriving the next day at Hood
Island.
54
Visit to the Galapagos Islands The HMS Beagle
stayed at the Galapagos Islands from September 15
through October 20, 1835.
55
At the Galapagos Islands The visit to the
Galapagos Islands was the most important part of
the whole voyage to Darwin, though the full
significance of the things he saw and collected
were not clear to him until after he had returned
to England. He collected some mockingbirds,
labeling them by the island where he had
collected them. He realized that they were
different from but very similar to those on the
mainland of South America. He later learned from
ornithologist John Gould that they constituted
three different species, with only one species
occurring on a given island. He also collected a
large number of smaller birds, unfortunately not
labeled according to island, which he did not
realize were all species of finches, until John
Gould told him so.
56
These are four species of finches Darwin found on
the Galapagos Islands. He did not realize they
were all finches, but the English ornithologist
John Gould told him they were Gould identified a
total of 13 different species among Darwins
specimens. The Galapagos finches have been
extensively studied since Darwins time, and
their evolution (back and forth) recorded.
57
One day, Darwin reported, The day was glowing
hot, and the scrambling over the rough surface
and through the intricate thickets, was very
fatiguing but I was well repaid by the strange
Cyclopean scene. As I was walking along I met two
large tortoises, each of which must have weighed
at least two hundred pounds one was eating a
piece of cactus, and as I approached, it stared
at me and slowly walked away the other gave a
deep hiss, and drew in its head. These huge
reptiles, surrounded by the black lava, the
leafless shrubs, and large cacti, seemed to my
fancy like some antediluvian animals. The few
dull-coloured birds cared no more for me than
they did for the great tortoises. Darwin,
Voyage of the Beagle
58
The Galapagos Giant Tortoises Galapagos is
Spanish for saddle/tortoise. Although all
Galapagos tortoises looked pretty much alike to
Darwin, Nicholas Dawson, the Englishman in charge
of Ecuadors penal colony on Charles Island, told
Darwin that he could tell which island any
particular tortoise came from, because there were
slight differences from one island to the next.
Again, the significance of this was not evident
to Darwin until after he had returned to England
and thought about it.
59
The most remarkable feature in the natural
history of this archipelago is, that the
different islands to a considerable extent are
inhabited by a different set of beings. My
attention was first called to this fact by the
Vice-Governor, Mr. Lawson, declaring that the
tortoises differed from the different islands,
and that he could with certainty tell from which
island any one was brought. I did not for some
time pay sufficient attention to this statement,
and I had already partially mingled together the
collections from two of the islands. I never
dreamed that islands, about 50 or 60 miles apart,
and most of them in sight of each other, formed
of precisely the same rocks, placed under a quite
similar climate, rising to a nearly equal height,
would have been differently tenanted but this
is the case. It is the fate of most voyagers, no
sooner to discover what is most interesting in
any locality, than they are hurried from it but
I ought, perhaps, to be thankful that I obtained
sufficient materials to establish this most
remarkable fact in the distribution of organic
beings.
60
Tahiti The Beagle left the Galapagos Archipelago
on October 20 and arrived at Tahiti 3200 miles
off the South American coast on November 20.
The ship remained there ten days, during which
time Darwin took a two-day trip to the interior,
where he was awed by the tropical vegetation.
61
New Zealand The Beagle arrived at New Zealand on
December 21, 1835. FitzRoy would, less than a
decade later, become the second governor of New
Zealand and have to deal with restless Maoris.
62
Darwin was not impressed with the natives, and
compared them unfavorably with Tahitians. Both
their persons and houses are filthily dirty and
offensive the idea of washing either their
bodies or their clothes never seems to enter
their heads. I saw a chief, who was wearing a
shirt black and matted with filth and when asked
how it came to be so dirty, he replied, with
surprise, "Do not you see it is an old one?" Some
of the men have shirts but the common dress is
one or two large blankets, generally black with
dirt, which are thrown over their shoulders in a
very inconvenient and awkward fashion. A few of
the principal chiefs have decent suits of English
clothes but these are only worn on great
occasions.
63
Meanwhile, back in England Darwin was regularly
sending letters and specimens back to John
Henslow, as well as writing letters to family
members and receiving some in return. In December
1835 Henslow privately published extracts from
some of the letters he had received from Darwin,
distributing copies to other scientists. They
were well received, and helped make Darwin famous
in the scientific world.
64
Australia On January 12, 1836, the Beagle arrived
at Sydney Harbor, which Thomas Henry Huxley would
visit a decade later on the Rattlesnake and meet
his future wife. Darwin made a long inland trip,
marveling at the extraordinary wildlife in
Australia, so different from that of Europe or
South America or any island he had visited. He
supposed it was due to a separate creation. In
February and March the Beagle went to Tasmania
and to another part of Australia.
65
Shown is the route of a long trip Darwin took in
Australia to a point 120 miles away, having hired
a man and two horses.
66
Keeling (Cocos) Islands (Indian Ocean) On April
1, 1836, the Beagle arrived at the Keeling
Islands (now called the Cocos Islands), which
Darwin found relatively desolate except for
coconut trees. Darwin found the islands composed
mostly of coral, presumably a coral reef which
was once submerged. He managed to find a few
specimens several small birds, one species of
lizard, and a few insects.
67
Port Louis, Mauritius Island On April 29, 1836,
the Beagle arrived at Port Louis. Although now a
British colony, the island had formerly been
French and had a definite French look to it, and
even the Englishmen spoke French to their
servants. Darwin was intrigued by the hundreds
of convicts (murderers and worse) from India who
had been banished there. Before seeing these
people, I had no idea that the inhabitants of
India were such noble-looking figures. Their
skin is extremely dark, and many of the older men
had large mustaches and beards of a snow-white
color this, together with the fire of their
expression, gave them quite an imposing aspect
The men are generally quiet and well conducted
from their outward conduct, their cleanliness,
and faithful observance of their strange
religious rites, it was impossible to look at
them with the same eyes as on our wretched
convicts in New South Wales.
68
Back to England May 31 The Beagle anchors at
Simons Bay, near Cape Town. June 3 Darwin
visits Sir John Herschel, the astronomer in
charge of the new Royal Observatory, and they had
a long conversation about natural history.
Darwin and Herschel are buried side-by-side in
Westminster Abbey. July 8 The Beagle arrives at
St. Helena Island and stays five days. Darwin
finds the island very desolate, interesting only
for its geology. July 19 The Beagle arrives at
Ascencion Island and stays four days. July
August FitzRoy takes the Beagle back to Brazil
for confirmatory chronometer measurements. August
19 The Beagle is at the Azores, uninteresting to
Darwin. October 2 The Beagle arrives back at
Falmouth, England, and Darwin heads right for
home.
69
Darwin back in Shrewsbury Darwin did not make it
home to Shrewsbury until October 4, arriving late
in the evening, after everyone had gone to
bed. He waited until everyone was up and having
breakfast to make a surprise appearance, causing
pandemonium. His father exclaimed, Why the shape
of your head is different! Darwins notebooks
written on the voyage of the Beagle totaled
1,383 pages on geology and 368 pages on zoology.
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