30th July 1835

The little schooner "Constitution" in which Mr Sulivan surveyed North coast of Chili has been bought of the Capt. for Government. Mrs Usborne & Forsyth are left in her to survey the coast of Peru & afterwards return in a merchant vessel to England.

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.

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.

Believe me,
Yours affectionately,

29th July to 3rd August 1835

I took a place in a coach which runs twice every day to Lima & spent five very pleasant days there. There is so much hospitality in these countries & the conversation of intelligent people in a new & foreign place cannot fail to be interesting. Moreover a residence of some years in contact with the polite & formal Spaniards certainly improves the manners of the English merchants. — I found the Consul General, Mr Wilson, most exceedingly obliging: having been Aid de Camp to Bolivar he has travelled over much of S. America & knows its inhabitants rightwell.

Lima stands on a small plain formed during the gradual retreat of the sea; out of it rise barren steep hills like Islands. It is irrigated by two streams, the valleys of which rapidly contract & are hidden between the headlands of the first Cordilleras. The plain is divided into large green fields divided by straight mudwalls; there are very few trees excepting some willows & fruit trees. By the presence of an occasional cluster of Banana plants & Orange frees only does the landscape partake of a Tropical character. The city of Lima is now in a wretched state of decay; the streets are nearly unpaved & in all directions heaps of filth are piled up. — Amongst these the Gallinazoes, tame as Poultry, are picking up bits of Carrion. There is little air of business; there are few Carriages, carts or even Cargo-Mules in the streets. — The houses have generally an irregular upper story, built on account of the Earthquakes of plastered wood-work; some of the old-houses now used by several families are immensely large & would rival in the suites of Apartments the most magnificent in London. Lima must indeed formerly have been a splendid, but small city; the extraordinary number of churches give to it, especially when seen from a short distance, a character quite distinct from the generality of towns.

There are two things in Lima, which all Travellers have discussed; the ladies "tapadas ", or concealed in the saya y Manta, & fruit called Chilimoya. To my mind the former is as beautiful as the latter is delicious. The close elastic gown fits the figure closely & obliges the ladies to walk with small steps which they do very elegantly & display very white silk stockings & very pretty feet. — They wear a black silk veil, which is fixed round the waist behind, is brought over the head, & held by the hands before the face, allowing only one eye to remain uncovered. — But then that one eye is so black & brilliant & has such powers of motion & expression, that its effect is very powerful. — Altogether the ladies are so metamorphised; that I at first felt as much surprised, as if I had been introduced amongst a number of nice round mermaids, or any other such beautiful animal. And certainly they are better worth looking at than all the churches & buildings in Lima. — Secondly for the Chilimoya, which is a very delicious fruit, but the flavour is about as difficult to describe, as it would be to a Blind man some particular shade of colour; it is neither a nutritive fruit like the Banana, or a crude fruit like the Apple, or refreshing fruit like the Orange or Peach, but it is a very good & large fruit & that is all I have to say about it.

27th July 1835

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
The Blonde touched at Cobija, Arica, and Islay — hapless arid dwelling-places for either man or beast, as I have ever seen. From near Iquique to Arica the precipitous coast is so lofty, and approaches so much to the character of enormous cliffs, about a thousand feet high, that it is really sublime. Near Islay, the land is in several places covered with a whitish powder, or dust, which lies many inches thick in hollows or sheltered places, but is not found abundantly in localities exposed to wind. Much difference of opinion has arisen about this powder. People who live there say it was thrown out of a volcano near Arequipa a great many years ago: other persons assert that it is not a volcanic production, and appertains to, or had its origin, where it is found. My own idea was, before I heard any thing of the controversy, that there could be no doubt of its having fallen upon the ground within some hundred years, for it was drifted like snow, and where any quantity lay together, had become consolidated about as much as flour which has got damp in a damaged barrel.

26th July 1835

LETTER 7. TO J.S. HENSLOW. Lima, July 1835.

This is the last letter which I shall ever write to you from the shores
of America, and for this reason I send it. In a few days time the
"Beagle" will sail for the Galapagos Islands. I look forward with joy
and interest to this, both as being somewhat nearer to England and for
the sake of having a good look at an active volcano. Although we have
seen lava in abundance, I have never yet beheld the crater. I sent by
H.M.S. "Conway" two large boxes of specimens. The "Conway" sailed the
latter end of June. With them were letters for you, since that time I
have travelled by land from Valparaiso to Copiapo and seen something
more of the Cordilleras. Some of my geological views have been,
subsequently to the last letter, altered. I believe the upper mass
of strata is not so very modern as I supposed. This last journey has
explained to me much of the ancient history of the Cordilleras. I feel
sure they formerly consisted of a chain of volcanoes from which enormous
streams of lava were poured forth at the bottom of the sea. These
alternate with sedimentary beds to a vast thickness; at a subsequent
period these volcanoes must have formed islands, from which have been
produced strata of several thousand feet thick of coarse conglomerate.

These islands were covered with fine trees; in the conglomerate, I found one
15 feet in circumference perfectly silicified to the very centre. The
alternations of compact crystalline rocks (I cannot doubt subaqueous
lavas), and sedimentary beds, now upheaved fractured and indurated, form
the main range of the Andes. The formation was produced at the time when
ammonites, gryphites, oysters, Pecten, Mytilus, etc., etc., lived. In
the central parts of Chili the structure of the lower beds is rendered
very obscure by the metamorphic action which has rendered even the
coarsest conglomerates porphyritic. The Cordilleras of the Andes so
worthy of admiration from the grandeur of their dimensions, rise in
dignity when it is considered that since the period of ammonites, they
have formed a marked feature in the geography of the globe. The geology
of these mountains pleased me in one respect; when reading Lyell, it had
always struck me that if the crust of the world goes on changing in a
circle, there ought to be somewhere found formations which, having the
age of the great European Secondary beds, should possess the structure
of Tertiary rocks or those formed amidst islands and in limited basins.
Now the alternations of lava and coarse sediment which form the upper
parts of the Andes, correspond exactly to what would accumulate under
such circumstances. In consequence of this, I can only very roughly
separate into three divisions the varying strata (perhaps 8,000 feet
thick) which compose these mountains. I am afraid you will tell me
to learn my ABC to know quartz from feldspar before I indulge in such

I lately got hold of a report on M. Dessalines D'Orbigny's
labours in S. America (7/2. "Voyage dans l'Amerique Meridionale, etc."
(A. Dessalines D'Orbigny).); I experienced rather a debasing degree of
vexation to find he has described the Geology of the Pampas, and that I
have had some hard riding for nothing, it was however gratifying that my
conclusions are the same, as far as I can collect, with his results. It
is also capital that the whole of Bolivia will be described. I hope to
be able to connect his geology of that country with mine of Chili.
After leaving Copiapo, we touched at Iquique. I visited but do not quite
understand the position of the nitrate of soda beds. Here in Peru, from
the state of anarchy, I can make no expedition.

I hear from home, that my brother is going to send me a box with books,
and a letter from you. It is very unfortunate that I cannot receive this
before we reach Sydney, even if it ever gets safely so far. I shall not
have another opportunity for many months of again writing to you. Will
you have the charity to send me one more letter (as soon as this reaches
you) directed to the C. of Good Hope. Your letters besides affording
me the greatest delight always give me a fresh stimulus for exertion.
Excuse this geological prosy letter, and farewell till you hear from me
at Sydney, and see me in the autumn of 1836.

25th July 1835


Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
The irreclaimably barren appearance of the sea coast of Northern Chile, is very repulsive to an eye accustomed to woodland scenery: yet there is an effect in its lofty mountains, which seem to rise abruptly almost from the ocean, that charms one for a time. Just before sunrise is generally the most favourable moment for enjoying an unclouded view of the Andes in all their towering grandeur: for scarcely have his beams shot between their highest pinnacles into the westward vallies, when clouds of vapour rise from every quarter, and during the rest of the day, with few exceptions, obscure the distant heights.

It has been long supposed that the Andes are higher about the equator than near or beyond the tropic; but the Beagle's measurements of Aconcagua and Villarica, prove that there is still much to be ascertained on this subject. Few results, depending upon angular measurement, are more difficult to obtain with accuracy than the heights of distant mountains. With respect to Aconcagua, though a variety of measurements, taken by different officers at various times, agreed together so closely as to give from 23,200 to 23,400 feet for the vertical elevation of that volcano above the level of the sea, I would not claim to be much nearer the truth than within 500 feet.

24th July 1835

Callao is a most miserable filthy, ill built, small sea-port; the inhabitants both here & at Lima present every imaginable shade of mixture between Europœan, Negro & Indian blood. They appear a depraved, drunken set. The very atmosphere was loaded with foul smells; & that peculiar kind which can be perceived in nearly all towns within the Tropics was very strong. The Fortress which withstood L. Cochranes long siege, appears very imposing; the president is to-morrow going to dismantle it; he has not an officer to whom he could trust so important a charge. He himself obtained his present rank by being Governor & mutinying against the former president. — Callao being such as it is & Lima 7 miles distant, this is a disagreeable [place] to lie in a Ship; at present there are no means to take exercise. A short time since, Mr Wilson the Consul general. — Lord E. Clinton & a Frenchman were riding & were attacked by a party of Soldier — robbers, who plundered them so completely, that they returned naked, excepting their drawers. — The robbers were actuated by warm Patriotism; They waved the Peruvian banner & intermingled crys of "Viva la Patria"; "give me your jacket". "Libertad Libertad" with "Off with your trowsers".

23rd July 1835

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
Scarcely four months had elapsed since that tremendous earthquake, which destroyed so many towns in Chile, had altered the movements of the Pacific Ocean upon all the extent of coast which reaches from latitude forty-five to the parallel of twenty-five. Even in July, the land about Concepcion was scarcely considered to be at rest, and recovered, as it was said, from those awful convulsions. Can it then be considered improbable that the currents of that sea should have taken unusual directions, and betrayed even cautious seamen, such as Captain Seymour and Mr. Macdonald (the master) were well known to be. So much care and judgment had always been shown in conducting the Challenger, and she had visited so many places in the Atlantic, in the Pacific, and among the South Sea Islands, that of all the King's ships at that time in commission, those who sailed in her (unconnected even with her management) thought her one of the last that would end a voyage disastrously. The surprising manner in which the hull of the Challenger held together, and so long resisted heavy shocks, reflects infinite credit upon her architect (Hayes), and upon the dockyard where she was built.

22nd July 1835

No state in S. America, since the declaration of the Independence, has suffered more from Anarchy than Peru: at present there are four chiefs in arms for supreme government. If one should succeed in becoming very powerful, the others for a time coalesce against him, but afterwards are again disunited. The other day at the Anniversary of the Independence, high mass was performed, the President partaking of the Sacrament; during the "Te Deum laudamus" instead of each regiment displaying the Peruvian flag, a black one with death's head was unfurled. Imagine what a government, when such a scene could be ordered on such an occasion to be typical of their determination of fighting to death! — This state of affairs has happened very unfortunately for me, as I am precluded from making any excursions beyond the limits of the Towns. — The barren Isd of S. Lorenzo which forms the harbor is nearly the only secure walk. — I climbed one day to the highest part, nearly 1200 ft high. This is within the limit of the region of Clouds at this season. I there met with half a dozen different kinds of plants & an abundance of Cryptogamic vegetation; on the hills near Lima, at a little greater elevation, the ground is carpeted with moss & there are some beautiful yellow lilies called Amancaes. This shows a much greater humidity than in a corresponding situation at Iquique. Gradually travelling Northward, the climate becomes damper, & at Guyaquil there are luxuriant forests.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
On the 22d, both ships sailed from Coquimbo, and soon afterwards parted company. The Conway stood to the westward, 'close-hauled;' while the Blonde steered towards the north with a fresh southerly wind.

What caused the loss of the Challenger?—is a question not easy to answer with certainty. The error in her reckoning amounted to more than forty miles; and the only way in which I can account for it to my own satisfaction is, that while the north-west wind was blowing, a current set to the southward and eastward, for which no allowance was made, as those on board could not be aware that such a current might be found, its existence not being known. A south-east current was not to be expected thereabouts; for the general set of the waters is northerly, excepting near the land, and they thought themselves in the offing. But currents are very uncertain and treacherous in most places. Unusual winds, peculiar seasons affecting the weight of the atmosphere, and those powerful interrupters of all order—earthquakes, have immediate effect upon the great ocean, as well as upon small bodies of water, though not always so visibly.

21st July 1835

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
How striking the contrast appeared between the fertility and verdure of the Concepcion country, and the dry barrenness of the naked earth or rocks about Coquimbo. Scarcely any one went on shore; a mixture of unpleasant feelings occasioned a gloomy heaviness in most of our minds.

20th July 1835

Darwin Beagle Diary
During our whole stay the climate was far from pleasant; the ceaseless gloom which hangs over the country would render any landscape uninteresting. During 16 days I have only had one view of the Cordilleras behind Lima, which seen in stages through the openings of the clouds, bore a very grand aspect. — it is proverbial that rain never falls in this part of Peru; yet this is not correct, during nearly every day there is a thick drizzle or Scotch mist which is sufficient to make the streets muddy & ones clothese very damp. People are generally pleased to call this Peruvian dew. That much water does not fall is very manifest; the houses are covered with flat roofs, composed of hardened mud; on the mole ship-loads of wheat are piled up & thus kept for months without any cover. Lastly, the country is quite sterile, excepting where irrigated. The valley of the Rimac, however, wears as green a clothing as those in central Chili. I cannot say that I like what I have seen of Peru; in summer it is said that the Climate is much pleasanter; at all seasons of the year both inhabitants & foreigners suffer much from attacks of Ague.

19th July 1835

Darwin Beagle Diary
In the night anchored in the outer part of the harbor of Callao. — Our passage was a short one owing to the steady trade wind; Rolling steadily onwards with our studding sails on each side, I was reminded of the Atlantic. — But there is a great difference in the interest of the two passages. In the latter there is an ever varying & beautiful sky; the brilliant day is relieved by a cool refreshing evening & the cloudless sky is glorious. — The ocean teems with life, no one can watch the Flyingfish, Dolphin & Porpoises without pleasure. At night in the clear Heavens, the Europæan traveller views the new Constellations which foretell the new countries to which the good ship is onward driving. — Here in the Pacifick, although the water is never agitated by storms, it never is quiet, but feels through the unbroken continuity the violence which reigns in the South. Now, in the winter, a heavy dull bank of clouds intercepts during successive days even a glimpse of the sun. — The temperature is by no means warm; in approaching these low latitudes I did not experience that delicious mildness, which is known for a few days in the Spring of England, or in first entering the Tropics in the Atlantic.

18th July 1835

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
A fresh fair wind drove us in twenty-four hours to Coquimbo, where the Conway was at anchor ready for sea. It was then arranged, that all the officers and two-thirds of the crew should go home in the Conway; and, of course, no small bustle of preparation for so many passengers was caused. Captain and Mrs. White already occupied one-half of the captain's cabin, and their luggage a considerable space below; but as both Captain Eden and the senior lieutenant, Johnstone, were bent upon accommodating the ship-wrecked party to the utmost of their power, stowage-room was cleverly contrived.

17th July 1835

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
I was very glad when we weighed anchor.

14th July 1835

The country is here equally unproductive. They have a well (36 yards deep) from which some bitter Saltish water is procured, & firewood at twelve miles distance. Nearer to the main Cordillera there are some few little villages, such as Tarapaca, where having more water the inhabitants are enabled to irrigate a little land, & produce hay on which the mules & Jackasses employed in carrying the Saltpetre feed. — The owner complained much of the heavy expences. The Nitrate of Soda, purified by solution in boiling water, is sold at the Ships side at 14 shillings the 100 pounds. — The mine consists of a thick (2–3 ft) hard layer of tolerably pure Salt, which is almost on the surface of the Land. The stratum follows the margin of a grand basin or plain which manifestly has once been either a lake or inland sea. — The present elevation is 3300 ft. — In my return I made a round by the famous Mineral of Guantajaya; the village entirely consists of the families of the miners; the place is utterly destitute, water is brought by animals from about 30 miles. — At present the mines produce scarcely anything; they have formerly been worked to a great extent; one having a depth of 400 yards. Masses, very many pounds weights, of Silver have been extracted, so pure as to require no process but running them down into bars.

We reached Iquique after sunset & I went on board, when the Beagle weighed her anchor for Lima. I am very glad we have seen this place, I understand it a complete type of the greater part of the coast of Peru.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
Much attention and kindness were shown to Captain Seymour by his acquaintance at Valparaiso; but it could not be expected that he should be cheerful, or inclined to see people, excepting intimate friends, at that time; particularly as the death of Mr. Lane was an additional blow much felt by him.

13th July 1835

In the morning I started for the Saltpetre works, a distance of 14 leagues. — Our ascent by a zig-zag sandy track up the steep coast line of mountain (1900 ft. Barom:) was very tedious. — We soon came in view of the Minerales of Guantajaya & S. Rosa: These two small villages are placed at the very mouths of the mines; if Iquique had a desolate appearance, these perched upon a hill had a still more unnatural air. — We did not reach the Saltpetre works till after sunset; the road crossed an undulating country; a complete & utter desert. The road was strewed over with the bones and skins of dead Mules & Jackasses: what travellers have rather strongly written about the numbers in the Cordillera passes, is here actually verifyed. — Excepting the Vultur aura, which feeds on the Carcases, I saw neither bird, quadruped, reptile, or insect. On the coast mountains at about 2000 ft elevation, the bare sand was in places strewed over with an unattached greenish Lichen, in form like those which grow on old stumps: this in a few spots was sufficiently abundant to tinge the sand when seen from a little distance, of a yellowish color. I also saw another minute species of Lichen on the old bones. And where the first kind was lying, there were in the clefts of the rocks a few Cacti. These are supported by the dense clouds which generally rest on the land at this height. Excepting these, I saw no one plant. — This is the first true desart I have ever seen; the effect on me was not impressive, I believe owing to having been weaned1 to such a country whilst travelling from Coquimbo to Copiapò. — In common language, the Traversia between Guasco & the latter place is a frightful desart; however in truth few spots 200 yds square could be found without any vestige of vegetation. — This country is very remarkable by being in the greater part covered by a thick crust of Salt & saliferous Sandstone. The Salt is white, very hard, & compact, it occurs in water worn nodules, which project out of the soft sandstone. — The appearance of the mountains & valleys is that of the last remains of snow before all is thawed away: Many of the Strata contain Salt, this I suppose to have been washed out, & subsequently infiltering amongst the superficial sand is rehardened. The quantity is immense & it offers an incontestible proof of the dryness of the climate. At night I slept at the house of an owner of one of the Saltpetre works.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
We sailed from Talcahuano with a fair wind, which carried us quickly and pleasantly along-shore; but crowded, and anxious as we were, the ship could not go fast enough for us. The sick people, excepting Mr. Lane, were improving when we reached Valparaiso on the 13th.

12th July 1835

On the 12th in the evening came to an anchor at the port of Iquique.

The coast was here formed by a great steep wall of rock about 2000 feet high; the town containing about a thousand inhabitants, stands on a little plain of loose sand at the foot of this barrier. The whole is utterly desert; the fine white sand is piled up against the mountains to more than a thousand feet high, & neither it nor the rocks produce one single plant. In this climate a light shower only falls once in many years; hence the ravines are filled up with loose detritus & the whole mountains appear crumbling. At this season of the year, a heavy bank of clouds parallel to the ocean seldom rises above the wall of coast rocks. — The aspect of the place was most gloomy; the little port with its few vessels & the small group of wretched houses, seemed overwhelmed & out of all proportion with the rest of the scene. — The inhabitants live like those on board a ship, everything comes from a distance. The water is brought from Pisagua, about 40 miles off, in boats, & is sold at 9 Riales1 an eighteen gallon cask. — a wine-bottle full cost 3d.— In a like manner firewood & of course every article of food is imported. The latter chiefly from Arica where there is a stream & fertile valley. — Of course very few animals can 593 be maintained in such a place; I with difficulty hired for the morning two mules & a guide to go to the Saltpetre works.2 These are the present support of Iquique; during one year the value of 100 thousand pounds sterling was exported to France & England. It is however of much less value than true Saltpetre, this being the Nitrate of Soda, mixed with some common Salt. Formerly there were two exceedingly rich silver mining districts; at the present day they produce little. —

Our arrival in the offing caused some little apprehension; Peru is at present in a complete state of Anarchy; & each party having demanded a contribution, the poor town of Iquique was in tribulation, thinking that the evil hour was come. — They also have their domestic troubles; three French carpenters during one night broke open & robbed two Churches; subsequently from intimidation one confessed & the plate was recovered. The two convicts were sent to Arequipa (200 leagues distant) for punishment, but the chief man there thought it a pity to shoot such useful workmen who could make all sorts of furniture, & they were pardoned. — Things being in this state, the Churches were again broken open & the plate stolen; but this second time no traces can be discovered (some suspect the Cura!); the inhabitants were dreadfully enraged & declaring none but hereticks would "eat God Almighty", proceeded to torture some Englishmen, with the intention of afterwards shooting them. At last the authorities interfered & peace was established.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
One day, while visiting a gentleman at Talcahuano, he called three little Araucanian boys into the room where Mr. Rouse and I were sitting with him, and desired them to harangue or make speeches to one another in their own way. The little fellows stepped forward boldly, and one of them spoke to the other two in a very fluent and expressive manner; but ended every marked sentence, or portion of his subject, by the singular sharp rise of the voice which has so often been noticed as a peculiarity in the oratory of Indians in this country. Another boy replied in a similar manner; and then they began to fight with their fists. This part of the display of course we stopped; but we were much interested by the composure and readiness with which the little boys spoke. One of the speakers was son of a cacique. All three had been obtained by actual (though secret) purchase from their countrymen, through the intervention of one of the 'Capitanes de los Amigos,'* one of whose offices is to take the part of and protect the natives. Perhaps, in the first instance, these boys had been stolen or taken prisoners, and were not the children of those who sold them to the 'captain of the friends.' In the family of Don —— those boys found a comfortable and a happy home; he had taken them from the rascally 'capitan de los amigos' as an act of charity, and intended to give them employment and land on his estate. I thought of Lautaro, as I noticed the bright eye of the little cacique.

When I took leave of the Yntendente, he said that he was about to make a journey to the frontier, for the sake of inspecting the outposts and securing the assistance of the friendly Indians: and this, I afterwards understood, was in consequence of the rumoured approach of those hostile tribes of whom Colonel Valenzuela had spoken to me at Arauco.

10th July 1835

On the 10th we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn...

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
Until the 10th, it was necessary to remain at anchor, as there were accounts to settle between the commodore, the consul, the pursers, the officers, and the owner of the schooner; there were visits to the Authorities, to thank them for their assistance, and, as usual on board men-of-war, there was much to do in very little time. To Don José Alemparte, the yntendente of the province; to Colonel Boza, the principal military authority; to D. Miguel Bayon, the governor of Talcahuano; and to Don Pablo Delano, captain of the port, sincere thanks were really due for their earnest exertions. Mr. Rouse took his leave of us on the 10th, and we then sailed.

While the Blonde was lying off Talcahuano, I had a few opportunities of looking about, and seeing that both Concepcion and Talcahuano were rising out of their ruins, and that their unfortunate inhabitants had, at least, roofs over their heads. Concepcion was, and is still nominally, a city: but it will be long before it again appears as such to the eye of a stranger. Some idea may be formed of the low scale to which every thing was there reduced, when I mention that it was very difficult to find a carriage of any kind in which the Commodore could go to visit the Yntendente.

Great discussions had arisen on the subject of rebuilding the city. The government party wished to remove the site to a better position; but there was so strong an opposition, that the result was likely to be the gradual rebuilding of the town in the same place, while the removal was still undecided, and under consideration. Two situations were named as much more eligible than the former: one on the banks of the little river Andalien, about a mile from the old city; and the other, on a rising ground about two miles on the Talcahuano side of Concepcion. This latter position has many and great advantages, as all acknowledged; but people were reluctant to move; each one had or fancied an advantage in the old situation of his house, encumbered as it was with ruins. Besides, many more serious difficulties would arise in leaving small freeholds, and obtaining equivalents in another place: however, an active government might have accomplished so desirable a change without injuring anyone, by purchasing the ground, and distributing it so fairly that each man should gain rather than lose. The sum necessary for purchasing ground for a new city, would not have been greater than might have been borrowed; and repaid in ten years out of the custom-house.

Perhaps there is not a situation in the world much more advantageous to the prosperity of a commercial city than this of which we are speaking. Centrally placed between the great and navigable river Bio Bio, the port of San Vicente, the noble bay of Concepcion, and an easy communication by land with the best part of Chile, a part which may well be called one of the finest countries in the world:—with a large extent of level and fertile land on all sides—with the means of obtaining water by sinking wells to a small depth, as well as by an aqueduct from the Bio Bio—and with the blessing of an unexceptionable climate—how could the New Concepcion fail to thrive, and increase rapidly? It might be shaken down and destroyed by an earthquake as soon as built, may be said. Probably, may be replied, if the inhabitants should be so unwise as to build houses of brick and stone, one or two stories in height, and with heavily tiled roofs. But let them try another mode of building. Wood is abundant, and let them make that the only material of which either walls or roofs shall be composed. A strong frame-work, similar in some measure to that of a ship, lightly covered or ceiled with thin planks, and roofed with shingles, would, if placed on the ground and not let into it as foundations usually are, withstand the convulsions of any earthquake which has yet happened in that tormented country. Why do not the Chilians pay more attention to the remark of the aborigines of Peru, who, when they saw the Spaniards digging deep foundations for their buildings, said, "You are building your own sepulchres?"

The houses of the natives of Peru were in those days built without foundations, simply upon the levelled ground; and they withstood the severest shocks. No house should extend far upwards. Nothing should be above the ground floor but a light strongly-secured wooden roof: and they should be placed upon firm ground — if possible, upon rock. The principal objections against the present site of Concepcion are—that the earth upon which the houses stand is every where loose, and sandy, and that it is too near the river.

7th to 9th July 1835

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
During the night of the 6th, the Blonde passed rapidly northward, running before a fresh southerly breeze; and at eleven in the morning of the 7th, she was off Point Tumbes, when seeing a dismasted vessel, with an English blue ensign hoisted, about five miles to the northward of us, the frigate stood towards her, and finding that she was the schooner Carmen, closed and took her in tow. But for the Blonde's opportune arrival, she would have been drifted to the northward, and obliged to run into any port she could reach. Mr. Usborne came on board, and as soon as he had refreshed himself by a few hours' sleep, gave me the following account of his proceedings and accidents.

After leaving Talcahuano, wind and weather favoured the Carmen until she had run along the coast from Tucapel Head to Cape Tirua, at about a mile from the surf, without seeing either smoke, flags, people, or wreck; but, during one night, a fire was seen on Tucapel Head. When Mr. Usborne spoke the Blonde, on the morning of the 29th, the schooner was on her way to the place where she had seen the fire; and he would have said so when the Blonde hailed him had he had time, but as she passed on without stopping, and he felt sure that the Challenger's people were not in the direction which she was taking, he kept a different course. At about two in the afternoon of that day, while four seamen were aloft on the topsail yard, furling the topsail, the schooner gave a sudden plunge into a high swell, and away went the foremast head, fore-topmast, and topsail-yard. The four men were carried overboard, but saved; though one (James Bennett) was severely bruised. The mainmast followed, being dragged downwards and broken by the rigging attached to the head of the foremast; and in this state, a mere wreck, the Carmen drifted towards Mocha. So wretchedly was the vessel provided in every way, that the only tools which they had to cut the laniards of the rigging with, were knives and a cooper's old adze.

After clearing the wreck, they got up a small spar abaft, on which was set the Beagle's boat's sail; and by means of cleats, Bennett and J. Nutcher (boatswain's mate of the Blonde), got to the head of the stump of the foremast, although, being loose in the step, it swayed to and fro as if it would go overboard, and fixed temporary rigging. A staysail and trysail were then set, and just saved her from going ashore upon the weather side of Mocha, while it was blowing hard, with a high sea running; and in all probability, not one person would have been saved had she struck. If Mr. Usborne had not known this land well, from his late survey, it is not likely that they would have escaped, because when they found themselves about half a mile from the breakers, the tack which appeared to the others to be by far the best, was in truth the worst: had they gone on that tack, nothing could have saved them. Mr. Usborne saw their position exactly, and knowing how the current would affect them, determined upon what they thought the wrong tack, and rescued them. I say that Mr. Usborne did this; because Mr. Biddlecombe was sick, and the master of the vessel reluctantly yielded to the person who he saw was at home, while he himself was utterly bewildered.

After this narrow escape, the schooner was drifted to the southward, as far as the latitude of Valdivia, before the southerly wind, which took the Blonde to the mouth of the Leübu, drove the Carmen back slowly to the northward. Mr. Usborne and his companions had almost entered the opening of the Bay of Concepcion early in the morning of the day on which the Blonde took them in tow, but had been drifted away again by a fresh wind, and were falling to leeward fast, for want of sail, when the Blonde arrived. Mr. Usborne recovered from his fatigue in two or three days, but Bennett was ill for a fortnight.

During the few days they were away, they suffered much. As for the ten men belonging to the vessel, they were utterly useless, being frightened or sick during the whole time; so that but for the exertion of the Blonde's seamen, of Bennett, of the master of the vessel (Mr. Thayer), of Mr. Biddlecombe, and above all, Mr. Usborne, the Carmen might have left her remains on the shore, when perhaps few, if any, would have survived to tell the fatal tale.

The Blonde worked to windward, with the schooner in tow, during the remainder of the day and early part of the night, and at midnight they both anchored off Talcahuano.

6th July 1835

Copiapo to Iquique (by sea!)
In the middle of the day the Beagle made sail...

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
As soon as the barge was hoisted in, the frigate again made sail off shore; but a fortunate mistake caused the main-yard to be squared about midnight, and at daybreak next morning we were in a good position off the entrance of the river. The Blonde then steered towards the land, and at nine anchored near the River Leübu, about a mile from Tucapel Head. Every boat was hoisted out, and the work of embarkation proceeded rapidly. Though a swell made the ship roll heavily, and delayed the boats along-side, the weather was so fine and a south-east wind so favourable, that the quickness of going and returning made amends for some delay in discharging each cargo. At six in the evening, Captain Seymour came on board with the last party of his crew, and at eight, the Blonde weighed and made sail, before a fresh and favourable breeze.

Most of the tents remained standing, being of very little value, and some of the stores were left. For what was abandoned, both there and at Molguilla, the commodore appointed Vogelborg to be agent, leaving him on the spot to take charge: and he wisely asked one of the Chilians who lived in the neighbourhood, and had generally supplied the shipwrecked crew with provisions, to join him in his undertaking.

Between them they might have recovered many things of value to individuals, but, to the British Government, nothing worth the great expense of carriage to Concepcion.

Mr. Rouse sent his servants back by land, with his horses and mules, and accompanied his esteemed friend, Captain Seymour, in the Blonde. The numerous Indians and others whom we left gathering round the encampment, in all probability saved Vogelborg and his partner the trouble of taking care of much of the property. They reminded me of the vultures which in those countries gather round the places where men are slaughtering cattle.

5th July 1835

We reached the port at Noon. — It is a miserable little assemblage of a few houses, situated at the foot of some sterile plains & hills.— At present, from the river reaching the sea they enjoy the advantage of fresh water within a mile & a half. — On the beach there were large piles of merchandize & the little place had an air of bustle & activity. — I found the Beagle had arrived on the 3rd. Capt. FitzRoy was not on board: at Valparaiso he joined the Blonde to assist as Pilot in taking off the coast of Chili, South of Concepcion, the crew of H.M.S. Challenger, which had there been wrecked. — I felt very glad to be again on board the Beagle. — In the evening I gave my "adios" with a hearty goodwill to my companion, Mariano Gonzales, with whom I had ridden so many leagues in Chili.

In a letter to Caroline Darwin, Charles wrote: “When I reached the port of Copiapo, I found the Beagle there, but with Wickham as temporary Captain. Shortly after the Beagle got into Valparaiso, news arrived that H.M.S. Challenger was lost at Arauco, & that Capt Seymour a great friend of FitzRoy & crew were badly off amongst the Indians. — The old Commodore in the Blonde was very slack in his motions, in short afraid of getting on that lee-shore in winter; so that Capt FitzRoy had to bully him & at last offered to go as Pilot. — We hear that they have succeeded in saving nearly all hands, but that the Captain & Commodore have had a tremendous quarrel; the former having hinted some thing about a Court-Martial to the old Commodore for his slowness. — We suspect, that such a taught hand, as the Captain is, has opened the eyes of every one fore & aft in the Blonde to a most surprising degree. We expect the Blonde will arrive here in a very few days & all are very curious to hear the news; no change in state politicks ever caused in its circle more conversation, that this wonderful quarrel between the Captain & the Commodore has with us.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
The day broke clearly for the first time during the longest week I ever passed, and we saw the land distinctly, from Cape Rumena to Tirua, with Mocha Island, strange to say, for the first time—near it as we had often been. Now that the tops of the hills were quite free from fog or cloud, I recognised the Heights of Tucapel at the first glance; and after looking for some minutes at their summits, through a good glass, I distinctly saw smoke rising. Standing towards them—in half an hour flags were discerned on the heights, and there was no longer any doubt; yet no steps were taken until near one o'clock, though it was a beautiful, and almost calm day. From nine in the morning until one, the Blonde lay almost becalmed, about five miles from the land. At one, three boats were sent to the mouth of the Leübu, with some money and a small supply of bread; but a current setting along the shore from the northward delayed their reaching the entrance of the river until evening.

We found the greater part of the Challenger's crew still in health; but delay and bad weather had increased the sick-list, and two of her party (the assistant-surgeon and a young midshipman) were in danger: waiting so long in uncertainty, and without employment, in a wet, dirty place, had tried all their constitutions severely. It was too late to attempt going out into the offing after the Blonde, (which was standing to sea) with the gig and cutter, two indifferent boats; so manning the barge with a double crew, one crew being men of the Challenger, and taking one of her officers (Lieutenant Collins) with me, I hastened out of the river as the sun was setting. A light breeze from the land favoured us, and though the Blonde was hull down in the south-west when we started, we were happy enough to get on board at about eight o'clock.

In going off to the ship after it became dark, we kept the end of a piece of old gun-breeching burning, held up in the bow of the boat. The light, as strong almost as that of a false fire, was seen plainly on board the ship, and then she was hove-to.

4th July 1835

Set out for the Port, which is called 18 leagues distant. — I slept at a cottage beyond the halfway. There is very little cultivation below the town; the valley expands & is covered with a wretched coarse kind of grass, which scarcely any animal will touch. The soil appears both rich & damp; its poorness in productive powers must be owing to the abundance of saline matter; in some spots there are layers several inches thick of white & pure Salts, which consist chiefly of the Carbonate & Sulphate of Soda. The whole line of road is only inhabited in a few places.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
On the 4th, the weather had improved enough to allow of a partial view of the coast between the supposed place of the Leübu and Cape Tirua; but no signal-fire, nor any thing like a flag, could be perceived on any of the heights.

Land appears so different when viewed from an offing at sea and when seen closely, especially from the land side, that it is less surprising that Vogelberg, who had visited the Leübu dozens of times by land, and also by sea in a boat, should be as much at a loss as myself to recognise the height which we had both ascended with Captain Seymour.

How it happened that I, who had surveyed this coast, should be ignorant of the real place of the Leübu, as I then certainly was, is another affair entirely, and one which I feel bound to explain. A momentary reference to my instructions shows that the Beagle was only expected to "correct the outline, and to fix the positions of all the salient points" of the coast between Chilóe and Topocalma (near Valparaiso); and the Beagle's charts of that coast prove that a great deal more was accomplished than was thought practicable when those instructions were framed.

Between Cape Tirua opposite Mocha, and Tucapel Head, the shore was laid down on our chart as determined by triangulation connected with the ship under sail, her distance from the land varying from one mile to five miles; and as no river was seen thereabouts, nor any break in the coast-line where a river's mouth could be, our chart contained merely a note, saying, "River Lebo, according to the Spanish chart." Now, the erroneous place of this Lebo (meant for Leübu) was twenty miles south of the real position, which, shut in behind Tucapel Head, could never have been seen from any vessel sailing past, however near the shore she might have been. The coast-line in the Beagle's chart was proved to be perfectly correct; but the place of the Leübu, which could only have been obtained by landing, or having a local pilot on board, was not known; and not being a navigable river, I did not deem it of sufficient consequence to be worth our delaying on an exposed coast, without an anchorage or a landing-place—so far as I then knew—while it was sought for.

Considering the multiplicity of places the Beagle had to visit subsequently, I often found it necessary to sacrifice such details as seemed to me of least consequence. Every seaman knows how very difficult it is to make out the openings of some small rivers, while he is sailing along a coast little known, and all marine surveyors know that there is seldom any way of making sure of such openings without landing; or entering them in a boat. I do not say this to excuse neglect—not feeling culpable—but simply to explain how the case stood.

On each day, when near the land, guns were fired at intervals, and sometimes three or four were fired at once; blue lights also were occasionally burned during the nights, in hopes that the schooner might see them.

3rd July 1835

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
Tucapel Head was again made out indistinctly; but nothing was done, a wide offing being still preserved.

2nd & 3rd July 1835

Staid in the town at Mr Bingleys house.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
Tucapel Head was indistinctly made out in the distance. But strong wind and a high swell were reasons sufficient to keep the Blonde far in the offing, while thick hazy weather lasted; and after making the land we actually stood to sea again, without even attempting to show the ship to the poor fellows on shore. In the course of this night a few stars were seen; and their altitudes were the only observations that could have been obtained at any moment since we left Concepcion Bay, during six days of constantly clouded and hazy weather, in which neither sun, moon, nor stars, nor even the horizon could be seen!

1st July 1835

Reached the valley of Copiapò; the smell of the fresh clover was quite delightful after the scentless air of the dry sterile Despoblado.