Lieutenant Sulivan brought his little vessel safely to an anchor near the Beagle on the 30th, having accomplished his survey in a very satisfactory manner. So well did he speak of the Constitucion, as a handy craft and good sea boat, and so correctly did his own work in her appear to have been executed, that after some days' consideration I decided to buy her, and at once set on foot an examination of the coast of Peru, similar to that which Mr Sulivan had completed of the coast of Chile. Dan Francisco Vascuñan had authorized the sale of his vessel at Callao: she was purchased by me for £400, and immediately fitted out afresh.
Note (Darwin): This generous and disinterested outlay of his own funds in furtherance of his mission was undertaken without obtaining prior permission from the Admiralty, and once again he was rewarded only with an official reprimand. The Minutes written across his letter to their Lordships informing them of his action refer to 'former papers forbidding him to hire a tender', and state: 'Inform Capt. FitzRoy that Lords highly disapprove of this proceeding, especially after the orders which he previously received on the subject.' Nevertheless the Hydrographer, Sir F. Beaufort, acknowledges that the subsidiary craft will materially assist the survey.
CHARLES DARWIN TO W.D. FOX.
Lima, July, 1835.
My dear Fox,
I have lately received two of your letters, one dated June and the other
November, 1834 (they reached me, however, in an inverted order). I was
very glad to receive a history of this most important year in your life.
Previously I had only heard the plain fact that you were married. You are
a true Christian and return good for evil, to send two such letters to so
bad a correspondent as I have been. God bless you for writing so kindly
and affectionately; if it is a pleasure to have friends in England, it is
doubly so to think and know that one is not forgotten because absent. This
voyage is terribly long. I do so earnestly desire to return, yet I dare
hardly look forward to the future, for I do not know what will become of
me. Your situation is above envy: I do not venture even to frame such
happy visions. To a person fit to take the office, the life of a clergyman
is a type of all that is respectable and happy. You tempt me by talking of
your fireside, whereas it is a sort of scene I never ought to think about.
I saw the other day a vessel sail for England; it was quite dangerous to
know how easily I might turn deserter. As for an English lady, I have
almost forgotten what she is--something very angelic and good. As for the
women in these countries, they wear caps and petticoats, and a very few
have pretty faces, and then all is said. But if we are not wrecked on some
unlucky reef, I will sit by that same fireside in Vale Cottage and tell
some of the wonderful stories, which you seem to anticipate and, I presume,
are not very ready to believe. Gracias a dios, the prospect of such times
is rather shorter than formerly.
From this most wretched 'City of the Kings' we sail in a fortnight, from
thence to Guayaquil, Galapagos, Marquesas, Society Islands, etc., etc. I
look forward to the Galapagos with more interest than any other part of the
voyage. They abound with active volcanoes, and, I should hope, contain
Tertiary strata. I am glad to hear you have some thoughts of beginning
Geology. I hope you will; there is so much larger a field for thought than
in the other branches of Natural History. I am become a zealous disciple
of Mr. Lyell's views, as known in his admirable book. Geologising in South
America, I am tempted to carry parts to a greater extent even than he does.
Geology is a capital science to begin, as it requires nothing but a little
reading, thinking, and hammering. I have a considerable body of notes
together; but it is a constant subject of perplexity to me, whether they
are of sufficient value for all the time I have spent about them, or
whether animals would not have been of more certain value.
I shall indeed be glad once again to see you and tell you how grateful I
feel for your steady friendship. God bless you, my very dear Fox.