1st April 1832

Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus) !

Bahia to Rio de Janeiro
All hands employed in making April fools. At midnight almost nearly all the watch below was called up in their shirts; carpenters for a leak: quarter masters that a mast was sprung, midshipmen to reef top-sails. All turned in to their hammocks again, some growling some laughing. The hook was much too easily baited for me not to be caught: Sullivan cried out, "Darwin, did you ever see a Grampus: Bear a hand then". I accordingly rushed out in a transport of Enthusiasm, and was received by a roar of laughter from the whole watch.

31st Mar 1832

Bahia to Rio de Janeiro
A fine rattling breeze.

30th Mar 1832


Bahia to Rio de Janeiro
All to day we have been cruising in sight of the Islands and have been employed in sounding and taking angles. I have been most pleasantly employed in working at yesterdays produce. We are now (at night) sailing with a fine breeze abaft the beam for Rio.

29th Mar 1832


Bahia to Rio de Janeiro
Next morning we altered our place to within 2 miles of the group of Islands. The Abrolhos consisted of 5 small rocky islands, which although uninhabited are not unfrequently visited by fishermen. Two parties landed directly after breakfast. I commence an attack on the rocks & insects & plants, the rest began a more bloody one on the birds. Of these an enormous number were slaughtered by sticks, stones & guns; indeed there were more killed than the boats could hold. We all returned for dinner & after that a boat was given to the midshipmen in order that they might see the islands. I took the opportunity & had another ramble on this solitary spot. Whilst pulling back to the ship, we saw a turtle; it immediately went down, nothing certainly could be imagined worse for surprising an animal than a boat full of midshipmen.

27th & 28th Mar 1832

Bahia to Rio de Janeiro

During these two days the labours of the expedition have commenced. We have laid down the soundings on parts of the Abrolhos, which were left undone by Baron Roussin. The depth varied to an unusual extent: at one cast of the lead there would be 20 fathoms & in a few minutes only 5. The scene being quite new to me was very interesting. Everything in such a state of preparation; sails all shortened & snug: anchor ready to let fall: no voice or noise to be heard, excepting the alternate cry of the leadsmen in the chains. We anchored for the night.



http://www.unb.br/ig/sigep/sitio090/sitio090english.htm

24th, 25th & 26th Mar 1832

Bahia to Rio de Janeiro
These three days, like the weather, have passed away with quietness & enjoyment. — We are nearly 4 degrees from the coast of Brazil & about 2 from the Abrolhos, from which islands a long shoal extends itself. — The Lead has been regularly cast at every two hours. — today after finding no bottom at 230 fathoms we suddenly came on the bank with between 30 and 40. We are now steering for the islands.

I find living on board a most excellent time for all sorts of study; & I cannot imagine why anybody who is not sick should make objections on that score. There is little to interrupt one, for instance since leaving Bahia the only living things that we have seen were a few sharks & Mother Cary's chickens*. At night in these fine regions of the Tropics there is one certain & never failing source of enjoyment, it is admiring the constellations in the heaven. Many of those who have seen both hemispheres give the victory to the stars of the North. It is however to me an inexpressible pleasure to behold those constellations, the first sight of which Humboldt describes with such enthusiasm. I experience a kindred feeling when I look at the Cross of the South, the phosphorescent clouds of Magellan & the great Southern Crown.

*[Mother Cary's chickens = Storm Petrel]

22nd & 23rd Mar 1832

Bahia to Rio de Janeiro
The wind yet continues very light & contrary; there is however to my cost a little swell, enough to make me all day long rather uncomfortable: Occupation is the best cure, & I always have, when leaving a port, the pleasant one of arranging my collections.

21st Mar 1832

Bahia to Rio de Janeiro
The greatest event of the day has been catching a fine young shark with my own hooks: It certainly does not require much skill to catch them, yet this no way diminishes the interest. — In this case the hook was bigger than the palm of the hand & the bait only a bit of salted pork just sufficient to cover the point. Sharks when they seize their prey turn on their backs; no sooner was the hook astern, than we saw the silvery belly of the fish & in a few moments we hauled him on deck.

20th Mar 1832

Bahia to Rio de Janeiro
This morning to the astonishment of every body the opening into Bahia was distinctly visible. In the forenoon a water-spout took place at a few miles distance & was to me a very interesting phenomenon. From a stratus or black bank of clouds, a small dark cylinder (shaped like a cows tail) depended & joined it self to a funnel shaped mass which rested on the sea. It lasted some moments & then the whole appearance vanished into an exceedingly heavy rain storm. When they approach near to a vessel, it is usual to fire a big gun in order to break them. A large shark followed the ship, & was first struck by a harpoon; after this he was hooked by a bait & again being struck broke the hook & escaped. Such an adventure creates great interest all over the whole ship. —

18th & 19th Mar 1832

Bahia to Rio de Janeiro
We got under weigh early in morning and cruized about the harbor untill the charts were finished. Against a strong tide we slowly stood out of the bay of 'All Saints' and took a lasting farewell of Bahia: if I have already seen enough of the Tropics to be allowed to judge, my report would be most favourable; nothing can be more delightful than the climate, and in beauty the sky and landscape are unparalleled in a colder zone.

The next morning from the light winds & strong current we were yet in sight of the coast of Brazil.

17th Mar 1832

Bahia, Brazil
Took a farewell stroll with King: the evening was bright and exceedingly clear; not a breath of air moved the leaves; every thing was quiet; nothing could be better adapted for fixing in the mind the last and glorious remembrances of Bahia. If to what Nature has granted the Brazils, man added his just and proper efforts, of what a country might the inhabitants boast. But where the greater parts are in a state of slavery, and where this system is maintained by an entire stop to education, the mainspring of human actions, what can be expected; but that the whole would be polluted by its part.

16th Mar 1832

Bahia, Brazil
The next morning I took a long walk & collected a great number of plants & insects; it was a fine glowing day; but it is quite delightful to find, so contrary to what I had expected, that the heat by no means incapacitates one for exercise. In the middle of the day went on board the Samarang & dined there. The difference between a surveying vessel & one in real fighting order is very striking. In the Samarang at any time under five minutes they could fire an effective broadside. I spent most part of the evening with the Mids; & such set of young unhanged rogues the "young gentlemen" are, is sufficient to astonish a shore-going fellow. About 9 oclock the Beagle came in & anchored & instead of sleeping on board the Samarang I went to my own hammock. It was a piece of high good luck that I remained on shore during the two days: the ship rolled & pitched so much, that the greater part of the junior officers were sick. People in general are not at all aware what a lasting misery sea-sickness is. Continually one meets men who having been at sea during their whole life yet are uncomfortable in every breeze.

15th Mar 1832

Bahia, Brazil
The Beagle weighed anchor this morning & proceeded to sound the bank, which runs out at the head of the bay. As it was intended to come in again I was landed on shore & was very glad to have one other opportunity of admiring the beautiful country round Bahia. I procured an Irish boy as an interpreter & again started to revisit the same place as I did yesterday. After walking for some time in the heat of the sun, we entered a Venda & drank some most excellent Sangaro. As is generally the case we were soon surrounded by black men, women & children. I do not know whether they afforded me or I them the most amusement; their astonishment was great at the Fly net, small pistol & compass: as one thing came out after another from my most capacious pockets, they cried "full, full of sins". Doubtless thinking all my instruments were related "al Diabolo". Every body is delighted with the excellent manners of the Negros. I gave my friends at the Venda some wine & when I parted with them it is my firm belief, no Dutchess with three tails could have given such courtlike & dignified bows as the black women saluted me with. In the evening I went to the Hotel d Universe, where by the help of the three words "comer" to eat, "cama" a bed & "pagar" my host & myself contrived to agree very well.

14th Mar 1832

Bahia, Brazil
Hired a boat & went some miles up the harbour. I found some interesting geological appearances & spent some pleasant hours in wandering on the beach.

13th Mar 1832

Bahia, Brazil
Unable as yet to leave the ship.

7th to 12th Mar 1832

Bahia, Brazil

[Darwin’s diary over these days contains a timely reminder, if reminder is needed this month, of his opinion of slavery].
>
Since the 6th I have been for the greater part of the time in my hammock; my knee continued to swell & was exceedingly painful. To day is the first I have been able to sit up for many hours together. It has been mortifying to see the clear blue sky above my head & not be able to enjoy it. I have heard of interesting geological facts & am disabled from examining them; but instead of grumbling I must think myself lucky in having at all seen the glorious city of Bahia. We have had some festivities on board; the day before yesterday there was a grand dinner on the quarter deck.
>
Cap Paget has paid us numberless visits & is always very amusing: he has mentioned in the presence of those who would if they could have contradicted him, facts about slavery so revolting, that if I had read them in England, I should have placed them to the credulous zeal of well-meaning people: The extent to which the trade is carried on; the ferocity with which it is defended; the respectable (!) people who are concerned in it are far from being exaggerated at home. I have no doubt the actual state of by far the greater part of the slave population is far happier than one would be previously inclined to believe. Interest & any good feelings the proprietor may possess would tend to this. But it is utterly false (as Cap Paget satisfactorily proved) that any, even the very best treated, do not wish to return to their countries. “If I could but see my father & my two sisters once again, I should be happy. I never can forget them.” Such was the expression of one of these people, who are ranked by the polished savages in England as hardly their brethren, even in Gods eyes.
>
From instances I have seen of people so blindly & obstinately prejudiced, who in other points I would credit, on this one I shall never again scruple utterly to disbelieve: As far as my testimony goes, every individual who has the glory of having exerted himself on the subject of slavery, may rely on it his labours are exerted against miseries perhaps even greater than he imagines.

6th Mar 1832

Bahia, Brazil
I pricked my knee some days since, & it is now so much swolen that I am unable to walk. The greater part of the day has been spent in idly lying on deck. I am not surprised that people are so indolent in a hot country; neither mind or body require any exercise; watching the sky is sufficient occupation for the former & the latter seems well contented with lying still.

5th Mar 1832

Bahia, Brazil
King & myself started at 9 oclock for a long naturalizing walk. — Some of the valleys were even more beautiful than any I have yet seen. — There is a wild luxuriance in these spots that is quite enchanting. — One of the great superiorities that Tropical scenery has over European is the wildness even of the cultivated ground. Cocoa Nuts, Bananas, Plantain, Oranges, Papaws are mingled as if by Nature, & between them are patches of the herbaceous plants such as Indian corn, Yams & Cassada: & in this class of views, the knowledge that all conduces to the subsistence of Mankind, adds much to the pleasure of beholding them. We returned to the ship about 1/2 after 5 oclock & during these eight hours we scarcely rested one. — The sky was cloudless & the day very hot, yet we did not suffer much: It appears to me that the heat merely brings on indolence, & if there is any motive sufficient to overcome this it is very easy to undergo a good deal of fatigue. — During the walk I was chiefly employed in collecting numberless small beetles & in geologising. — King shot some pretty birds & I a most beautiful large lizard. — It is a new & pleasant thing for me to be conscious that naturalizing is doing my duty, & that if I neglected that duty I should at same time neglect what has for some years given me so much pleasure.

4th Mar 1832

Bahia, Brazil
This day is the first of the Carnival, but Wickham, Sullivan & myself nothing undaunted were determined to face its dangers. — These dangers consist in being unmercifully pelted by wax balls full of water & being wet through by large tin squirts. — We found it very difficult to maintain our dignity whilst walking through the streets. — Charles the V has said that he was a brave man who could snuff a candle with his fingers without flinching; I say it is he who can walk at a steady pace, when buckets of water on each side are ready to be dashed over him. After an hours walking the gauntlet, we at length reached the country & there we were well determined to remain till it was dark. — We did so, & had some difficulty in finding the road back again, as we took care to coast along the outside of the town. — To complete our ludicrous miseries a heavy shower wet us to the skins, & at last gladly we reached the Beagle. — It was the first time Wickham had been on shore, & he vowed if he was here for six months it should be only one.

2nd & 3rd Mar 1932

Bahia, Brazil
I am quite ashamed at the very little I have done during these two days; a few insects & plants make up the sum total. — My only excuse is the torrents of rain, but I am afraid idleness is the true reason. — Yesterday Capt Paget dined with us & made himself very amusing by detailing some of the absurdities of naval etiquette. — To day Rowlett & myself went to the city & he performed the part of Cicerone to me. — in the lower part near to the wharfs, the streets are very narrow & the houses even more lofty than in the old town of Edinburgh, the smell is very strong & disagreeable, which is not to be wondered at, since I observe they have the same need of crying "gardez l'eau" as in Auld Reekie. — All the labor is done by the black men, who stand collected in great numbers round the merchants warehouses. — The discussions which arise about the amount of hire are very animated; the negros at all times use much gesticulation & clamor & when staggering under their heavy burthens, beat time & cheer themselves by a rude song. — I only saw one wheel carriage; but the horses are by no means scarce; they are generally small & well shaped & are chiefly used for the merchants to ride. — We paid a visit to one of the principal churches, we here found for a guide, a little Irish boy about 13 years old. — His father was buried there two months ago, & was one of the unfortunate people whom Don Pedro enticed into the country under the pretence of settling them. — This little fellow contrives to support his mother & sister by the few Vintems which in the course of the day he earns by messages. — Mr Gond, one of the principal merchants in the place, offered to lend us horses, if we would walk to his country house. — We gladly accepted his offer & enjoyed a most delightful ride; one beautiful view after another opening upon us in endless succession.

29th Feb & 1st Mar 1832

Bahia, Brazil
February 29th
The day has passed delightfully: delight is however a weak term for such transports of pleasure: I have been wandering by myself in a Brazilian forest: amongst the multitude it is hard to say what set of objects is most striking; the general luxuriance of the vegetation bears the victory, the elegance of the grasses, the novelty of the parasitical plants, the beauty of the flowers — the glossy green of the foliage, all tend to this end. — A most paradoxical mixture of sound and silence pervades the shady parts of the wood, the noise from the insects is so loud that in the evening it can be heard even in a vessel anchored several hundred yards from the shore. Yet within the recesses of the forest when in the midst of it a universal stillness appears to reign. To a person fond of natural history such a day as this brings with it pleasure more acute than he ever may again experience. After wandering about for some hours, I returned to the landing place. Before reaching it I was overtaken by a Tropical storm. I tried to find shelter under a tree so thick that it would never have been penetrated by common English rain, yet here in a couple of minutes, a little torrent flowed down the trunk. It is to this violence we must attribute the verdure in the bottom of the wood, if the showers were like those of a colder clime, the moisture would be absorbed or evaporated before reaching the ground.

March 1st
I can only add raptures to the former raptures. I walked with the two Mids a few miles into the interior. The country is composed of small hills & each new valley is more beautiful than the last. — I collected a great number of brilliantly coloured flowers, enough to make a florist go wild. — Brazilian scenery is nothing more nor less than a view in the Arabian Nights, with the advantage of reality. — The air is deliriously cool & soft; full of enjoyment one fervently desires to live in retirement in this new & grander world.