17th Jan 1832

St Jago
Immediately after breakfast I went with the Captain to Quail Island. This is a miserable desolate spot, less than a mile in circumference. It is intended to fix here the observatory and tents; and will of course be a sort of headquarters to us. Uninviting as its first appearance was, I do not think the impression this day has made will ever leave me.

The first examining of Volcanic rocks must to a Geologist be a memorable epoch, and little less so to the naturalist is the first burst of admiration at seeing Corals growing on their native rock. Often whilst at Edinburgh, have I gazed at the little pools of water left by the tide: and from the minute corals of our own shore pictured to myself those of larger growth: little did I think how exquisite their beauty is and still less did I expect my hopes of seeing them would ever be realized. And in what a manner has it come to pass, never in the wildest castles in the air did I imagine so good a plan; it was beyond the bounds of the little reason that such day-dreams require. After having selected a series of geolog. specimens and collected numerous animals from the sea, I sat myself down to a luncheon of ripe tamarinds and biscuit; the day was hot, but not much more so than the summers of England and the sun tried to make cheerful the dark rocks of St Jago. The atmosphere was a curious mixture of haziness and clearness, distant objects were blended together: but every angle and streak of colour was brightly visible at the short distance on the nearer rocks.

Let those who have seen the Andes be discontented with the scenery of St Jago. I think its unusually sterile character gives it a grandeur which more vegetation might have spoiled. I suppose the view is truly African, especially to our left, where some round sandy hills were only broken by a few stunted Palms.

I returned to the ship heavily laden with my rich harvest, and have all evening been busily employed in examining its produce.

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