29th July 1834

[Conrad Martens' Sketchbooks ~ A streetscape with buildings drawn in detail, and some indication of local activities. The Southern part of the Town Valparaiso, southern part is divided by two principal Ravines into three districts to which sailors have given the names of Fore Top, Main Top and Mizzen Top.]

The town of Valparaiso is from its local situation a long straggling place; wherever a little valley comes down to the beach the houses are piled up on each other, otherwise it consists of one street running parallel to the coast. We all, on board, have been much struck by the great superiority in the English residents over other towns in S. America. Already I have met with several people who have read works on geology & other branches of science, & actually take interest in subjects no way connected with bales of goods & pounds shillings & pence. It was as surprising as pleasant to be asked, what I thought of Lyells Geology. — Moreover every one seems inclined to be very friendly to us, & all hands expect to spend the two ensuing months very pleasantly.

27th July 1834

I have taken several long walks, but I have not ceased to be surprised to find one day after another as fine as the foregoing — what a difference does climate make in the enjoyment of life — how opposite are the sensations, when viewing black mountains half enveloped in clouds, & seeing another range through the light blue haze of a fine day: the one for a time may be very sublime, the other is all gayety & happy life.

26th July 1834

[Image: Valparaiso ~ Conrad Martens]

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
As I proposed to remain at Valparaiso during the winter months, Messrs. Stokes, King, Usborne, and myself, whose occupation would be sedentary and would require room, as well as more light and quiet than we could always have on board, took up our quarters on shore; while those on board attended to the refit and provisioning of our vessels.

24th - 31st July 1834

When morning came everything appeared delightful; after Chiloe & T. del Fuego we felt the climate quite delicious; the sky so clear & blue, the air so dry & the sun so bright, that all nature seemed sparkling with life.

The view from the Anchorage is very pretty; the town is built on the very foot of [a] range of hills, which are 1600 feet high, & tolerably steep; the surface is worn into numberless little ravines, which exposes a singularly bright red soil between patches of light green grass & low shrubs. — It is perhaps for this reason & the low white-washed houses with tile roofs, that the view reminded me of Teneriffe & others of Madeira. — The harbor is not large & the shipping is crowded together. In a NE direction there are some fine glimpses of the Andes. These however appear much grander when viewed from the neighbouring hills; we then better perceive how far distant they are situated. The Volcano of Aconcagua is especially beautiful. The Cordilleras, however, viewed from this point owe the greater part of their charms to the atmosphere through which they are seen; when the sun sets in the Pacific it is admirable to watch how clearly the rugged outline of their peaks can be seen, yet how varied & how delicate is the tint of their colours. When in T. del Fuego, I began to think the superiority of Welsh mountain scenery only existed in my imagination. Now that I have again seen in the Andes a grand edition of such beauties, I feel sure of their existence.
Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
My first object would have been, after seeing the vessels securely moored, to go to Santiago, present my instructions in the proper quarter, and ask for the sanction of the Chilian government, in prosecuting the survey of the coasts of Chile; but I was so much in arrear with respect to computations and charts, that I could not venture to give even a week to an excursion to that agreeable place, where a thousand attractive novelties would inevitably have diverted my attention in some measure from the dull routine of calculation, and attention to the data accumulated by many months' exertion of those on board the Adventure, as well as in the Beagle; therefore I sent Lieutenant Wickham, who spoke Spanish, and had been at Santiago before, to show my instructions to the Authorities, and request their approval of our examination of the shores under their jurisdiction. Nothing could be more satisfactory than the reply, and from that time until the Beagle left Chile she received every attention and assistance which the Chilian officers could afford.
Syms Covington Journal:
From all parts of Valparaíso we have a fine and noble view of the majestic Cordillera -- Aconcagua (the MOUNTAIN second in height in the whole range of South America) towering above all with its snowy summit, when distinctly seen, FOR IT IS very often clouded, having a most beautiful and sublime effect. The valleys clothed in verdure, bushes and trees, with sweet smelling flowers, and those of the most variegated colours, and varieties, and peopled with numerous little chirping birds of many species, AND immense numbers of humming birds buzzing about like bees. The stately condor hovering round on all parts, and above all the beautiful azure blue of the heavens, which altogether has the appearance of a fairy land, after just leaving the inhospitable shores of Tierra del Fuego, and the wet and gloomy Chiloé Isle, where we rarely had a clear or sun shining day.

23rd July 1834

[Valparaiso Bay ~ Conrad Martens]

Late in the night the Beagle & Adventure came to an anchor.
Syms Covington Journal:
Valparaíso is too well known to require any detailed account, suffice is to say it is in a flourishing state. The bay is large, between two and three miles wide, has a fort on each side, but IS very open and exposed to different winds which blow very heavily occasionally. The town extends FROM one extremity of the bay to the other, is built on a very uneven or broken site. Great numbers of the houses are built on the tops or first hills. The Almendral, situated on the upper part of the bay, WHICH is much wider and more level. Houses are mostly very low, and built with a sort of mud brick, which is most adapted in a country where earthquakes are so frequent. There is but one building worthy of notice, viz. the custom-house, which is well built, large, and commodious, has a tower and clock, the two latter built etc. subsequent to our first arrival.
Conrad Martens' Sketchbooks:
The midground shows an expanse of open calm water, with a tripled-masted ship, probably the Beagle, seen side-on in the distance. In the left foreground, rocky elevated ground rises steeply from the left, becoming much more even from the centre left to the right, though there is a rougher rocky mound to the right. Three human figures are shown in a close group in the centre in the distance, one standing in between the other two, who are seated. There is some indication of scanty small bushy vegetation on the rising ground in the left and left centre. The annotations on the right read: "rich red earth", and (in vertical orientation) "deepest shade of ground rich red & thro' reddish brown into yellowish red for the brightest part".
Valparaiso, July 23, 1834.
My dear Whitley,
I have long intended writing, just to put you in mind that there is acertain hunter of beetles, and pounder of rocks still in existence. Why I have not done so before I know not, but it will serve me right if you have quite forgotten me. It is a very long time since I have heard any Cambridge news; I neither know where you are living or what you are doing. I saw your name down as one of the indefatigable guardians of the eighteen hundred philosophers. I was delighted to see this, for when we last left Cambridge you were at sad variance with poor science; you seemed to think her a public prostitute working for popularity. If your opinions are the same as formerly, you would agree most admirably with Captain Fitz-Roy,--the object of his most devout abhorrence is one of the d--d scientific Whigs. As captains of men-of-war are the greatest men going, far greater than kings or schoolmasters, I am obliged to tell him everything in my own favour. I have often said I once had a very good friend, an out-and-out Tory, and we managed to get on very well together. But he is very much inclined to doubt if ever I really was so much honoured; at present we hear scarcely anything about politics; this saves a great deal of trouble, for we all stick to our former opinions rather more obstinately than before,and can give rather fewer reasons for doing so. I do hope you will write to me: ('H.M.S. "Beagle", S. American Station' will find me). I should much like to hear in what state you are both in body and mind. ?Quien Sabe? as the people say here (and God knows they well may, for they do know little enough), if you are not a married man,and may be nursing, as Miss Austen says, little olive branches, little pledges of mutual affection. Eheu! Eheu! this puts me in mind of former visions of glimpses into futurity, where I fancied I saw retirement, greencottages, and white petticoats. What will become of me hereafter I know not; I feel like a ruined man, who does not see or care how to extricate himself. That this voyage must come to a conclusion my reason tells me,but otherwise I see no end to it. It is impossible not bitterly to regret the friends and other sources of pleasure one leaves behind in England; inplace of it there is much solid enjoyment, some present, but more inanticipation, when the ideas gained during the voyage can be compared to fresh ones. I find in Geology a never-failing interest, as it has been remarked, it creates the same grand ideas respecting this world which Astronomy does for the universe. We have seen much fine scenery; that of the Tropics in its glory and luxuriance exceeds even the language of Humboldt to describe. A Persian writer could alone do justice to it, andif he succeeded he would in England be called the 'Grandfather of all liars.'" But I have seen nothing which more completely astonished me than the firstsight of a savage. It was a naked Fuegian, his long hair blowing about,his face besmeared with paint. There is in their countenances an expression which I believe, to those who have not seen it, must be inconceivably wild. Standing on a rock he uttered tones and made gesticulations, than which the cries of domestic animals are far more intelligible. When I return to England, you must take me in hand with respect to the fine arts. I yet recollect there was a man called Raffaelle Sanctus. How delightful it will be once again to see, in the Fitzwilliam, Titian's Venus. How much more than delightful to go to some good concert or fine opera. These recollections will not do. I shall not be able to-morrow to pick out the entrails of some small animal with half my usual gusto. Pray tell me some news about Cameron, Watkins, Marindin, the two Thompsons of Trinity, Lowe, Heaviside, Matthew. Herbert I have heard from. How is Henslow getting on? and all other good friends of dear Cambridge? Often and often do I think over those past hours, so many of which have been passed in your company. Such can never return, but their recollection can never die away. God bless you, my dear Whitley,
Believe me, your most sincere friend,

22nd July 1834

We were becalmed off Valparaiso; we made but an indifferent passage; we enjoyed however the very unusual novelty to us of seeing several vessels & speaking two of them; it is always interesting to see ships, like great animals of the sea, come up & reconnoitre each other.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
Arrived there (in Valparaiso) together on the 22d.

17th July 2009

[San Carlos, Chiloé]

With Darwin and the Beagle still 'all at sea', another image from Conrad Martens.

The sky is blank above a horizon line of verdant hills, mainly shrubby but with a clump of trees on the left. These hills form the backdrop to a midground occupied by rolling lowland, probably under cultivation, behind a lake or inlet stretching from the centre to the right of the picture. There is a group of small buildings on the shore in the centre left. The expanse of water is partly obscured by the features in the right centre and right of the foreground, where the pitched tiled roofs of two buildings appear above the edge of a rising slope. The walls of these buildings seem to be constructed of large blocks, though this is not consistent with the annotation. Behind both buildings there are clumps of small trees. To their left we can see a rough low fence of thin wooden uprights. In the left centre between the end of this fence and an apparently better constructed more distant fence descending the slope, an opening suggests a pathway. On the left above the fence there is a tall building with timber uprights, in front of which stands a human figure. The timber uprights support a pitched roof with a flat top, behind which rises a tall square tower with a small pitched overhanging roof of its own, and a cupola on its top. More fencing runs from this building up towards the left-hand edge of the picture. Two figures, one with a dark top and light trousers, the other vice versa, walk towards the left-hand edge of the picture, with a small dog and another small animal standing to their left. Above and behind the figures and the fencing other roofs are indicated. The annotation to the left reads: "all the buildings are of wood -- colour from lightest green, thro purples to rich brown--".

13th July 1834

Got under weigh, we only managed to reach an outer harbor when the wind failing, obliged us to anchor for the night: on the following day we with difficulty got an offing by beating against the swell of anything but "Pacific" Ocean. We were all glad to leave Chiloe; at this time of year nothing but an amphibious animal could tolerate the climate. Even the inhabitants have not a word to say in its favor; very commonly I was asked what I thought of the Island; ¿no es muy mala? is it not a miserable place? I could not muster civility enough to contradict them.

In summer, when we return, I dare say Chiloe will wear a more cheerful look. I hear of swarms of insects at that season; this plainly tells me there must be a wide difference between this country & Tierra del Fuego (although at present appearing nearly the same). In the latter place in the midst of summer, the air can boast of few inhabitants; the insect world requires a more genial climate. Besides the Climate, it is disagreeable to see so much poverty & discontent. Poverty is a rare sight in S. America; even here it is not the poverty of Europe; there is an abundance of plain food, coarse clothes, & fire-wood; but the poverty lies in the difficulty of gaining sufficient to buy even the smallest luxuries.

The greater part of the inhabitants are strongly inclined to the old Spanish cause (it is well known with what difficulty they were conquered by the Patriot forces), this feeling is kept up by their having reaped no advantages by the revolution. The grand advantage in other parts is the cheapness of Europæn articles of luxury, of these the inhabitants of Chiloe can afford to enjoy but very few.

Many of the old men whom I talked with, had good cause to regret former times; they had been veterans in the Spanish armies, & with the fall of the Spanish flag of course they have lost the half-pay to which during their whole lives they had been looking forward to. Seventeen of the inhabitants were executed, when the first Governor arrived from the Patriots, for having faithfully served their kings: these things must rankle long in the minds of men who live the uniform & retired life such as the inhabitants of Chiloe.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
A supply of fresh provisions and good rates for the chronometers were obtained, after which we sailed for Valparaiso.

8th July 1834

Syms Covington Journal:
This island I may say is one dense forest, and low land in general. In the forests there is to be found, and but very rarely a very small deer. Here also are a great many beautiful birds; the humming bird is very common. From San Carlos, to Castro (the latter the old capital) a road sixty miles long is cut through the forest, made entirely of wood in the following manner, something like
rush matts.

The principal beverage, or drink of the Chilotans is chichi, or cider, made from apples; but there IS ALSO aguardente, etc . The natives seem not much addicted to drunkeness.

07 July 2009

[Volcano of Osorno, from Chiloé : Conrad Martens' Sketchbooks]

The sky is blank, and in the upper part annotated: "bright morning sky.-- sun just rising--". In the lower part of the sky there is some indication of distant cirrus cloud, with a small cumulus bank in the centre right showing between a prominent conical rock in the centre left, and a vaguely indicated rounded hill on the right. The horizon is otherwise the sea. A V-shaped formation of birds flies in front of the conical rock. To the left, a boat with some indication of masts and rigging is shown head-on to the viewer in a rippling sea. To the right, a small canoe-like boat can be seen, containing two human figures, the one on the left seated facing right, possibly fishing, while the other stands facing away from the viewer, holding an oar in his left hand, and pointing to the right. The figures are wearing light tunics with striped sleeves, and dark trousers.

6th July 2009

[Girl of Chiloé : Conrad Martens' Sketchbooks]

During the Beagle’s visit to Chiloe, Darwin and Fitzroy did not record anything whatsoever in Diary or Journal. BUT… Conrad Martens, the artist present on board from 1833-34 did make a number of interesting drawings in his sketchbook. Over the next week, whilst the Diary and Journal are silent, I will be posting some of Martens’ beautiful drawings. Should you prefer, they can be viewed online at http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/ConradMartens .

Darwin’s next entry is on the 13th July and Fitzroy’s on the 14th July.

A young woman with long dark hair squats or sits with her legs hidden under her skirt, facing right, with arms crossed on her knees. Her clothing is annotated: "white shift and blue petticoat". Around her to the front and right there is a jumble of objects, most of which are indistinct, but which include on the right a jar with a closed lid, and a jug. Further behind, a tabletop is indicated, on which there is a square box with a closed lid, with perhaps a plate on top of it, and a bigger jug to its right. Superimposed at the right, and not part of the same drawing, there is a vague silhouette of a standing figure.

2nd July 1834

[Conrad Martens' Sketchbooks]

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
The Adventure arrived, her main-boom having broken in a heavy squall on the 27th, in consequence of which she got to leeward, and was prevented from sooner weathering the north end of the island.

* In the left midground a flat topped rocky outcrop with a dense covering of shrubs slopes down abruptly to a line of rocks at the water's edge, running from the left centre to the centre of the picture, with three seabirds perched at the midpoint, and two others alighting on the water behind them to their right. In the left and centre of the foreground, there is an inlet, to the left and in the foreground to the front of which lies an uneven shore. The shore ground is dotted with tufts of grass on the left, and in the right centre with a rock from which a small shrub sprouts. In the midground, to the right of the line of rocks and more distant, the Adventure and Beagle are visible, facing left with the small boats off to the right. Behind the boats the far horizon consists of low rounded hills in the centre, rounded bigger hills on the right closer to the viewer. The sky has a very faint indication of what are probably cumulus clouds in the centre, and a line of birds flies diagonally rightwards.