30th September 1835

The next day, a light breeze carried us over the calm sea, which lies between Narborough & Albermale Isd. In the latter, high up, we saw a small jet of steam issuing from a Crater. — Narborough Isld presents a more rough & horrid aspect than any other; the Lavas are generally naked as when first poured forth. — When H.M.S. Blonde was here there was an active Volcano in that Island. — After sun-set, came to an anchor in Banks cove in Albermale Isd & which cove subsequently turned out to be the Crater of an old Volcano.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
This morning we passed a remarkably fine American whaler, the Science, carrying nine whale-boats! On the south-eastern height of Albemarle, smoke was seen issuing from several places near the summit, but no flame. Profiting by every breeze, we hastened towards Tagus (or Banks) Cove.

Narborough Island is exactly like a part of Albemarle — a great volcano, whose base is surrounded by an extensive field of lava: it is utterly barren and desolate. A few mangroves, on the sandy beaches near Albemarle Island, are not seen in the distance; neither are there enough of them even to diminish the dismal appearance of the island.

We entered the passage in the afternoon, and anchored in the little cove first described by Capt. Pipon, who then commanded H.M.S. Tagus. This cove is the crater of an extinct volcano, and its sides are so steep as to be almost inaccessible.*

* In 1825 H.M.S. Blonde, commanded by Lord Byron, anchored here. In her voyage the black and the red (or brown) iguanas are described, and it is stated that a specimen of the black kind was brought to England from Mexico. Lord Byron saw a volcano burning on Narborough Island.

29th September 1835

Anchored at Noon in a small cove beneath the highest & boldest land which we have yet seen. — The Volcanic origin of all is but too plainly evident: Passed a point studded over with little truncated cones or Spiracles as some Author calls them; the Craters were very perfect & generally red-coloured within. The whole had even a more work-shop appearance than that described at Chatham Isd. A calm prevented us anchoring for the night.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
We passed this night under easy sail, off the south-west extreme of Albemarle Island; and on the 29th we found a small cove, in which we anchored; but such a wild-looking place—with such quantities of hideous iguanas as were quite startling! Hence I despatched Mr. Mellersh and Mr. King, to examine the depth of Elizabeth Bay, and rejoin us beyond Narborough Island; we then weighed, and continued our examination of this unearthly shore. Passing a low projecting point, our eyes and imagination were engrossed by the strange wildness of the view; for in such a place Vulcan might have worked. Amidst the most confusedly heaped masses of lava, black and barren, as if hardly yet cooled, innumerable craters (or fumeroles) showed their very regular, even artificial looking heaps. It was like immense iron works, on a Cyclopian scale!

When this lava flowed from the heights it must have been stopped rather suddenly (cooled) by the water; for the lava cliffs are in some places twenty, and in others forty feet high, while close to them there is water so deep that a ship could not anchor there, even in a calm while the sea is quite smooth. Until we rounded this point the wind was very strong, eddying round the high south-west cape; but here we were becalmed, and passed some anxious hours, till at length light variable airs carried us off-shore.

28th September 1835

Steered towards the Southern end of Albermale Isd, which was surveyed.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
Having taken on board live pigs and a quantity of vegetables, we weighed and stood towards Albemarle Island. Four small islets, the remains of volcanoes, lie near the low south-east extreme of this island, and together with Brattle Islet, are extremely useful in warning vessels of their approach to a very dangerous piece of coast. So low are the south-eastern extremities of Albemarle Island that they are not discernible until you see the surf on the shore. A heavy swell setting towards the land, and generally light winds, add to the danger of getting near this coast; but there is anchorage in case of necessity.

Albemarle Island is a singular mass of volcanic ejections. Six volcanoes have there raised their summits from two to four thousand feet above the ocean, and from them immense quantities of lava have from time to time flowed towards the sea; so that this island, large as it is, may be literally described by saying that it consists of six huge craters, whose bases are united by their own overflowed lava. The southern side, which is exposed to the trade wind, and completely intercepts it, with all the clouds it brings, is thickly wooded, very green, and doubtless has fresh water; but how is that water to be obtained where such a swell rolls upon the shore? The weather side of Chatham Island is partially protected from the great south-west swell of the Pacific by Hood Island, yet even there it is difficult to land.

27th September 1835

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
Being Sunday, many of the officers and ship's company were on shore in the afternoon, and some of the officers went to the top of the highest hill, which has a crater, as have all the hills we examined about these islands; and these craters are all similarly broken down on the side towards the south.

26th September 1835

Industriously collected all the animals, plants, insects & reptiles from this Island. — It will be very interesting to find from future comparison to what district or "centre of creation" the organized beings of this archipelago must be attached.

I ascended the highest hill on the Isd, 2000 ft. — it was covered in its upper part with coarse grass & Shrubs. — The remains of an old Crater were very evident; small as the whole island is, I counted 39 conical hills, in the summit of all of which there was a more or less perfect circular depression. It is long since the Lava streams which form the lower parts of the Island flowed from any of these Craters: Hence we have a smoother surface, a more abundant soil, & more fertile vegetation. — It is probable that much of the Lava is of subaqueous origin.

*In a letter to Henslow from Sydney written four months later, CD said: 'I last wrote to you from Lima, since which time I have done disgracefully little in Nat: History; or rather I should say since the Galapagos Islands, where I worked hard. — Amongst other things, I collected every plant, which I could see in flower, & as it was the flowering season I hope my collection may be of some interest to you. — I shall be very curious to know whether the Flora belongs to America, oris peculiar. I paid also much attention to the Birds, which I suspect are very curious.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
After completing the necessary observations in Post-Office Bay, we weighed and worked round to an anchorage off Black Beach: and at nine in the evening Mr. Chaffers returned, having been round the south side of this island after visiting the small eastern islets. He found much difficulty in landing on them, but succeeded, and from the top of Gardner Islet saw a dangerous breaker about a mile to the south eastward.

25th September 1835

This is situated nearly in the centre of the Island, about 4 &½ miles inland, & elevated perhaps 1000 ft above the sea. — The first part of the road passed through a thicket of nearly leafless underwood as in Chatham Isd — The dry Volcanic soil affording a congenial habitation only to the Lizard tribe. — The wood gradually becomes greener during the ascent. — Passing round the side of the highest hill; the body is cooled by the fine Southerly trade wind & the eye refreshed by a plain green as England in the Spring time. — Out of the wood extensive patches have been cleared, in which sweet Potatoes (convolvulus Batata) & Plantains grow with luxuriance.

The houses are scattered over the cultivated ground & form what in Chili would be called a "Pueblo". — Since leaving Brazil we have not seen so Tropical a Landscape, but there is a great deficiency in the absence of the lofty, various & all-beautiful trees of that country. — It will not easily be imagined, how pleasant the change was from Peru & Northern Chili, in walking in the pathways to find black mud & on the trees to see mosses, ferns & Lichens & Parasitical plants adhæring. — Owing to an unusual quantity of rain at this time of year, I suspect we have seen the Island at its full advantage. — I suspect this the more from meeting with singularly few insects of any of the orders. — If such luxuriance is constant this scarcity of its universal concomitants is very remarkable — The inhabitants are in number 200–300: nearly all are people of color & banished for Political crimes from the State of the Equator (Quito & Guyaquil &c) to which this Archipelago belongs. — It appears the people are far from contented; they complain, here as in Chiloe, of the deficiency of money: I presume there is some more essential want than that of mere Currency, namely want of sale of their produce. — This of course will gradually be ameliorated. — already on an average, in the year 60–70 Whaling vessels call for provisions & refreshment.

The main evil under which these islands suffer is the scarcity of water. — In very few places streams reach the beach so as to afford facilities for the watering of Shipping. Every where the porous nature of the Volcanic rocks has a tendency to absorb without again throwing up the little water which falls in the course of the year. — At the Settlement there are several springs & small pools, three or four of which are said never to fail. — Generally the islands in the Pacifick are subject to years of drought & subsequent scarcity; I should be afraid this group will not afford an exception.

The inhabitants here lead a sort of Robinson Crusoe life; the houses are very simple, built of poles & thatched with grass. — Part of their time is employed in hunting the wild pigs & goats with which the woods abound; from the climate, agriculture requires but a small portion. — The main article however of animal food is the Terrapin or Tortoise: such numbers yet remain that it is calculated two days hunting will find food for the other five in the week. — Of course the numbers have been much reduced; not many years since the Ship's company of a Frigate brought down to the Beach in one day more than 200,— where the settlement now is, around the Springs, they formerly swarmed. — Mr Lawson thinks there is yet left sufficient for 20 years: he has however sent a party to James Island to salt (there is a Salt mine there) the meat. — Some of the animals are there so very large, that upwards of 200 Lbs of meat have been procured from one. — Mr Lawson reccollect having seen a Terrapin which 6 men could scarcely lift & two could not turn over on its back. These immense creatures must be very old, in the year 1830 one was caught (which required 6 men to lift it into the boat) which had various dates carved on its shells; one was 1786. — The only reason why it was not at that time carried away must have been, that it was too big for two men to manage. — The Whalers always send away their men in pairs to hunt.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
Mr. Nicholas O. Lawson, acting for the governor of this archipelago, came on board. With him and me a party went to another anchorage called Black Beach Road, landed, and walked up towards the settlement. In 1832, the republic of the 'Ecuador' decided to use these islands as a place of banishment, and sent a small colony to Charles Island. 'La Floriana' is the name given to this island by the Guayaquilians, though by the Spaniards it was once called 'Santa Maria de l'Aguada.' The governor, at the time of our visit, was Don José Villamil. There were then about eighty small houses, or huts, and nearly two hundred souls upon the island, most of whom were convicts.

After walking rather more than a mile along a good path, through the underwood (which as the ground rises becomes very thick), we reached a small spring of water, near which are a few huts, but no cultivated ground. The water from this spring might be conveyed to shipping by means of leaden pipes, without much difficulty, but it is not of very good quality. Having ascended gradually during another half-hour's walk, we reached the ridge of that height which limited our view from the sea; when surprisingly sudden and agreeable was the change. Heated and tired by a dusty uphill walk, through sun dried trees and over rugged lava stones, our bodies were here refreshed by a cool breeze, while our eyes enjoyed the view of an extensive, fertile and cultivated plain. Surrounded by tropical vegetation, by bananas, sugar canes, Indian corn, and sweet potatoes, all luxuriantly flourishing, it was hard to believe that any extent of sterile and apparently useless country could be close to land so fertile, and yet wear the most opposite appearance. Our eyes having been accustomed to the desert shores of Peru and northern Chile, during many months, were completely dazzled by a sight so new and unforeseen.

It appears that rain falls very frequently on these higher grounds, and is absorbed by rich black mould of a nature sufficiently clayey to enable it to retain moisture. During the wet season this plain becomes quite muddy, while the little rain that falls on the lower ground is so quickly absorbed, or finds its way so soon through the loose lava stones that its effects are not there visible.

Most of the houses are in this fertile space, but it appears that a house on the dry ground, and plantations in the moist valley, would answer better: for at Mr. Lawson's house salt cannot be kept dry, books and paper become mouldy, and iron rusts very quickly. At his table we found the welcome of a countryman, and a variety of food quite unexpected in the Galāpagos Islands, but fully proving their productiveness. At the foot of a hill we saw water dropping plentifully, and from this spring, called the "Governor's Dripstone," the inhabitants obtain a certain supply throughout the year.

Although most of the settlers were sent here against their wish, there are many who do not desire to return to the continent. Some are married and have children on the island.

In a small cave near the "governor's dripstone," an old sailor lived during several years: he had been unfortunate, and was tired of the world. Terrapin and potatoes were his food, till a former friend, the master of a whaler, recognised him, and carried him away by force. So strongly was the old man attached to his cave, that he shed tears when taken away.

There are goats and hogs upon this island, but they are scarce and wild, not having yet had time to increase much; they are hunted with dogs, though it would be wiser to let them alone for a few years. The settlers have abundance of vegetables, and depend chiefly upon terrapin for their meat. Many of these animals being large and heavy, the people who go in search of them kill and open them on the spot, then take out the fleshy pieces and put them in a bag. Thus one man can carry away the useful parts of more terrapins than several men could lift.

The quantity of tortoise shells lying about the ground, shows what havock has been made among these helpless animals. On the lower ground, near the spring, I saw an apology for a garden, in which the large terrapin shells were used to cover young plants, instead of flower pots. In a place one has not seen before, some marked peculiarity occasionally reminds one, more forcibly than the ordinary novelties of scenery, that all around is strange and new. The palm-trees and arid appearance of St. Jago, the sedan chairs of Bahia, the boats of Rio de Janeiro, the beef carts of Monte Video, the travelling waggons of Buenos Ayres, the 'toldo' of the Patagonian, the wigwam of the Fuegian, the wooden houses and clogs of San Carlos de Chilóe, the stockades of Valdivia, the effects of earthquake at Concepcion, the concentrated bustle of Valparaiso, the quiet and uniform serenity of Coquimbo, women riding astride and troops of ill-used donkeys at Lima, are a few instances among the multitude of such local peculiarities.

Small birds are numerous on this island, and so remarkably tame that they may be knocked down with a stick. Lizards are also numerous; and there are a few small snakes, but those we caught were not venomous. Among the useful vegetables we noticed the plaintain, pumpkin, yuca, Quito orange, castor oil plant and melon, besides those before mentioned.

Returning on board we met Mr. Stokes on his way from the southern parts of the island: he described the lava thereabouts as having such a form and rugged surface as the sea would present if suddenly congealed, while ruffled by a very strong wind.

24th September 1835

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
While we were endeavouring to reach the anchorage in Post-Office Bay (Charles Island), Mr. Chaffers and Mr.Mellersh went away in a boat to visit the islets that lie near the eastern side of that island: and it was found that they had all been the summits of volcanoes. Charles Island is peculiar in its outline: for a succession of round topped hills, precisely similar in shape, though differing in size, shews on every point of view. This exact similarity is very remarkable. Must not all these volcanoes have been thrown up under the same circumstances, such as similar action of the ocean, or even a strong wind — perhaps at the very same time?

The highest and largest of these hills rises 1,800 feet, the next about 1,700; the rest are of various smaller heights. The northern sides of the island are wooded, but the wood looks as brown as that on the lower parts of Chatham Island. Post-Office Bay is sheltered, easy of access, has excellent anchorage, and only wants fresh-water to make it a most desirable harbour for shipping. Its name is the result of a custom established by the whalers: a box was placed on a post, to receive letters, and homeward-bound ships examined the directions, taking with them all which they might have means of forwarding; but since the island has been peopled the box has been empty, for letters are now left at the settlement.

23rd & 24th September 1835

Crossed over & came to an anchor at Charles Island. Here there is a settlement of only five to 6 years standing. An Englishman Mr. Lawson is now acting as Governor. By chance he came down to visit a Whaling Vessel & in the morning accompanied us to the Settlement.

Note: Mr Nicholas O. Lawson was an Englishman serving the Republic of the Equator, or Ecuador.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
While becalmed we tried the clamms in fifty fathoms water, and brought up as much sand as would fill a bucket, but nothing curious. Afterwards we had a breeze, and passed Barrington Island pretty closely. It is not high, yet the shores are bold and fronted by cliffs; the more elevated parts appear to be level, and rather woody. This night was spent under sail between Charles and Hood Islands.

22nd September 1835

We slept on the sand-beach, & in the morning after having collected many new plants, birds, shells & insects, we returned in the evening on board. — This day was glowing hot, & was the first when our closeness to the Equator was very sensible.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
So generally cloudy is the weather here, that a day such as this proved to be, of hot, vertical sunshine, was much felt by every body; and to show how objectionable our anchorage was in this respect, I may mention that a fresh breeze was blowing all day in the offing; yet in the bay only light variable airs were felt.

Some fine turtle were brought on board, the first we had seen here; they are rather like the green turtle of the West-Indies, but not exactly. Among the shells found about the islands one is common, which reminded me of the purple murex, as the fish emits a strongly dyeing liquid of a similar colour. A kind of mangrove grows near the water, on the sandy beaches of this island; and the shape and colour of that curious tree are some relief to an eye tired of looking at rugged lava or withered bushes.

21st September 1835

My servant & self were landed a few miles to the NE in order that I might examine the district mentioned above as resembling chimney. The comparison would have been more exact if I had said the Iron furnaces near Wolverhampton. — From one point of view I counted 60 of these truncated hillocks, which are only from 50 to 100 ft above the plain of Lava. — The age of the various streams is distinctly marked by the presence & absence of Vegetation; in the latter & more modem nothing can be imagined more rough & horrid. — Such a surface has been aptly compared to a sea petrified in its most boisterous moments. No sea however presents such irregular undulations, — nor such deep & long chasms. The craters are all entirely inert; consisting indeed of nothing more than a ring of cinders. — There are large circular pits, from 30 to 80 ft deep; which might be mistaken for Craters, but are in reality formed by the subsidence of the roofs of great caverns, which probably were produced by a volume of gaz at the time when the Lava was liquid. — The scene was to me novel & full of interest; it is always delightful to behold anything which has been long familiar, but only by description. — In my walk I met two very large Tortoises (circumference of shell about 7 ft). One was eating a Cactus & then quietly walked away. — The other gave a deep & loud hiss & then drew back his head. — They were so heavy, I could scarcely lift them off the ground. — Surrounded by the black Lava, the leafless shrubs & large Cacti, they appeared most old-fashioned antediluvian animals; or rather inhabitants of some other planet.

20th September 1835

19th & 20th During these two days surveyed the seaward coast of the Isd & returned to an anchor where we had found the Whaler. — At one point there were little rills of water, & one small cascade. — The valleys in the neighbourhead were coloured a somewhat brighter green. — Upon first arriving I described the land as covered with leafless brushwood; & such certainly is the appearance. I believe however almost every plant or tree is now both in flower & its leaf. — But the most prevalent kinds are ornamented with but very few & these of a brown color.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
At daylight we were off the south-east part of the island; and continued working to the south-west, during the forenoon, along a shore quite bold, excepting the small rocks above water in 'Middle' Bay. At noon, seeing a small cove, I went in a boat to examine it, and look for water. We found no signs of any in that place; but a little farther west, a fine stream was seen falling from a lava cliff, about thirty feet high. Mr. Low had described this waterfall correctly; and his account of the watering place near it was soon verified, by our discovering a cove half a mile to the westward of the cascade. We landed on a stony beach in the cove, and found a fine stream of excellent water: two others were likewise seen, but they were inaccessible. This water runs from the highest parts of the island (which are almost always enveloped in clouds) down a large valley. All this southern side of the island is well wooded; and on the higher ground the wood is very green.

Continuing our course along shore, we arrived at our former anchorage in Stephens Bay soon after dark, when Mr. Chaffers returned on board, having reached the anchorage in the morning.

19th September 1835

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
Sailed round the north-east extremity of the island, and worked to the southward against a tide, or rather current, setting strongly to the north-west.

18th September 1835

Again we moved our Anchorage & again after dinner took a long walk. — We ascended the broken remains of a low but broad crater. The Volcano had been sub-marine — the strata which dipped away on all sides were composed of hard Sandstones composed of Volcanic dust. A few leagues to the North a broken country was studded with small black cones; the ancient chimneys for the subterranean melted fluids. — The hunting party brought back 15 Tortoises: most of them very heavy & large.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
Weighed and stood alongshore until noon, when we anchored close to a low rugged point, near the north-east end of the island: employed two boats in examining the shore, and landed a party to look for terrapin: Mr. Darwin and Mr. Stokes went to the top of a neighbouring hill. Throughout this day it blew so fresh a breeze, that double-reefed topsails were as much as could be carried: but I think this strength of wind only prevailed under the lee of the island, where the wind rushed down in squalls, after having been intercepted and checked by the high land. All the hills appear to have been the craters of volcanoes: some are of sandy mud, others are lava. There is plenty of wood hereabouts, though stunted and dry. On no part of this shore is there a chance of finding water; all is stony, without any soil which could either collect or carry it off.

Our party brought eighteen terrapin on board. In size they were not remarkable, none exceeding eighty pounds. This animal appears to be well defended by nature; but, in truth, it is rather helpless, and easily injured. The shell is slight, and becomes weaker (in proportion to the animal's size), as the tortoise grows older.

17th September 1835

The Beagle was moved into St Stephens harbor. We found there an American Whaler & we previously had seen two at Hoods Island. — The Bay swarmed with animals; Fish, Shark & Turtles were popping their heads up in all parts. Fishing lines were soon put overboard & great numbers of fine fish 2 & even 3 ft long were caught. This sport makes all hands very merry; loud laughter & the heavy flapping of the fish are heard on every side. — After dinner a party went on shore to try to catch Tortoises, but were unsuccessful. — These islands appear paradises for the whole family of Reptiles. Besides three kinds of Turtles, the Tortoise is so abundant; that [a] single Ship's company here caught from 500–800 in a short time. — The black Lava rocks on the beach are frequented by large (2–3 ft) most disgusting, clumsy Lizards. They are as black as the porous rocks over which they crawl & seek their prey from the Sea. — Somebody calls them "imps of darkness". — They assuredly well become the land they inhabit. — When on shore I proceeded to botanize & obtained 10 different flowers; but such insignificant, ugly little flowers, as would better become an Arctic, than a Tropical country. — The birds are Strangers to Man & think him as innocent as their countrymen the huge Tortoises. Little birds within 3 & four feet, quietly hopped about the Bushes & were not frightened by stones being thrown at them. Mr King killed one with his hat & I pushed off a branch with the end of my gun a large Hawk.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
Weighed and stood alongshore, sounding. There was good anchorage, until near the south-west point of Stephens Bay, off which the water is shoal, and the bottom uneven. We anchored in Stephens Bay, and found an American whaler lying there. This bay is large, and the anchoring ground generally good; but the landing is bad at low water. There is no fresh water: and it is frequently difficult to enter, as well as to leave, because usually becalmed by high land, it seldom feels the true wind. Enderby Cove is only fit for a boat; at low water it is full of rocks. The Kicker Rock is a curious mass of stone, rising almost perpendicularly from the bottom of the sea, where it is thirty fathoms deep; and in the offing is another (called the Dalrymple, by Colnett), which looks exactly like a ship becalmed, with all sail set. Seeing a remarkable hill at the north-east side of the bay, which had not an appearance like other parts of the island, I went to it in a boat, hoping to find water near the foot, and to have a good view from the summit. Disappointed in both ways, the hill being composed of a crumbling sand-stone, and almost inaccessible, I returned to the ship early next morning. Several new birds were seen by those who were on shore, and many fish were caught on board, of which the best and most numerous were a kind of rock cod, of large size.

16th September 1835

The next day we ran near Hoods Isd1 & there left a Whale boat. — In the evening the Yawl was also sent away on a surveying cruize of some length. — The weather, now & during the passage, has continued as on the coast of Peru, a steady, gentle breeze of wind & gloomy sky. — We landed for an hour on the NW end of Chatham Isd. — These islands at a distance have a sloping uniform outline, excepting where broken by sundry paps & hillocks. — The whole is black Lava, completely covered by small leafless brushwood & low trees. — The fragments of Lava where most porous are reddish & like cinders; the stunted trees show little signs of life. — The black rocks heated by the rays of the Vertical sun like a stove, give to the air a close & sultry feeling. The plants also smell unpleasantly. The country was compared to what we might imagine the cultivated parts of the Infernal regions to be.

This day, we now being only 40 miles from the Equator, has been the first warm one; up to this time all on board have worn cloth clothese; & although no one would complain of cold, still less would they of too much warmth. — The case would be very different if we were cruizing on the Atlantic side of the Continent.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
Assisted by a current running to the westward, we worked up to Hood Island during the night, and at daylight lowered a boat down and prepared her for Mr. Chaffers, who, with Mr. Mellersh, was to examine this island and the anchorages about it. Under the land we saw two whalers at anchor, which showed North American colours. The island is small—neither high nor low—rugged, covered with small sun-burnt brushwood, and bounded by a bold, rocky shore. Some small beaches of white sand are visible here and there.

As soon as Mr. Chaffers had set out, the Beagle steered towards Chatham Island, with a moderate breeze, which allowed us to prepare the yawl for another party, under Lieutenant Sulivan. At noon, Barrington Island was visible from the deck, and appeared to be distant about twenty miles; when with Messrs. Stewart and Johnson, and ten chosen seamen in the yawl, Mr. Sulivan left us to examine the central islands of the archipelago.

In continuing our course, we passed through several ripplings, apparently caused by the meeting of streams of current which set along the shores of Chatham Island, from the east towards the west. If not so caused, they must be the effects of currents passing over very uneven ground, but we got no bottom, with fifty fathoms of line. When such appearances are created by shoals, it should be remembered that the shallowest place is generally under the smoothest part, close to the ripple. Favoured by smooth water and fine weather, we passed close to the low south-west extreme, and anchored directly that point was found to defend us from the swell.

This part of the island is low, and very rugged. We landed upon black, dismal-looking heaps of broken lava, forming a shore fit for Pandemonium. Innumerable crabs and hideous iguanas started in every direction as we scrambled from rock to rock. Few animals are uglier than these iguanas; they are lizard-shaped, about three feet in length; of a dirty black colour; with a great mouth, and a pouch hanging under it; a kind of horny mane upon the neck and back; and long claws and tail. These reptiles swim with ease and swiftness—but use their tails only at that time. At a few yards from the water we found vegetation abundant, though the only soil seen was a little loose dusty earth, scattered upon and between the broken lava. Walking is extremely difficult. A hand-barrow was lying at the landing-place, which showed that terrapin were to be got near us, though we did not then see any. The men from whalers and sealing vessels carry the large terrapin, or land-tortoises, on these barrows.

Ascending a little hill, we were surprised to find much brush or underwood, and trees of considerable size, as large in the trunk as one man could clasp. These were prickly pears, and a kind of gum-tree: how their roots are able to penetrate, or derive nourishment from the hard lava, it is hard to say; for earth there is scarcely any. Wild cotton shrubs are numerous. This first excursion had no tendency to raise our ideas of the Galāpagos Islands.

15th September 1835

On the 15th we were employed in surveying the outer coast of Chatham Isd the S. Eastern one of the Archipelago.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
Uncertain of the strength, and even of the direction of the currents—though aware that at times the former is very considerable—we were anxiously looking out for land, when what appeared to be an islet was seen from the mast-head. This seeming islet turned out to be the summit of Mount Pitt, a remarkable hill at the north-east end of Chatham Island. (Charles Island of Cowley, 1684). As the breeze and current carried us onwards, the tops of other hills successively appeared, and for a short time looked very like a cluster of islets.

Gradually rising above the horizon, the greater part of Chatham Island became distinctly visible: in this neighbourhood it is not often that the air near the water is clear enough to allow of very distant high land being thus gradually raised above the horizon of an eye at the mast-head; for, in general, clouds hang about these islands, and the atmosphere itself is hazy. Towards evening the higher parts of the land were clouded over, but we were near enough to see that the island was very rugged—in some places quite barren—in others covered with a stunted and sun-dried brushwood—and that the heights, on which the clouds hung, were thickly clothed with green wood. The shores seemed to be bold, and easy to approach, though not to land upon, because of a continual high surf.

A number of little craters (as they appeared to be) and huge irregular-shaped masses of lava rock, gave a strangely misleading appearance to the lower parts of the island; and when first seen through that indistinct glimmer which is usually noticed over land on which a hot sun is shining, were supposed to be large trees and thick wood.* Hood Island, small and rather low, was seen before dusk, when we tacked and stretched to seaward for a few hours.

14th September 2010

Tomorrow (in 1835) the Beagle arrives in the Galapagos and conducts an exhausive survey of the islands. Many interesting entries not only in both Diary, but also in Fitzroy's Journal. Don't miss it.

7th September 1835

The Beagle sailed for the Galapagos.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
The Beagle left Callao, and steered direct towards the Galāpagos Islands, of which, as they are novel ground, I shall be rather minute in my description.

No postings until the Beagle arrives in the Galāpagos Islands on the 15th September.

6th September 1835

Hooray! We're back to the Diary & Journal. At last the Beagle is stirring out of its anchorage in Peru.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
On the 6th of September Mr. Usborne sailed. He was to commence near Paposo; work along the coast thence to Guayaquil, and afterwards return to Callao.

2nd September 2010

From “The Voyage of the Beagle”:
At Bahia Blanca, the elevation has been only a few feet since the numerous gigantic quadrupeds were there entombed; and, according to the generally received opinion, when these extinct animals were living, man did not exist. But the rising of that part of the coast of Patagonia, is perhaps no way connected with the Cordillera, but rather with a line of old volcanic rocks in Banda Oriental, so that it may have been infinitely slower than on the shores of Peru. All these speculations, however, must be vague; for who will pretend to say that there may not have been several periods of subsidence, intercalated between the movements of elevation; for we know that along the whole coast of Patagonia, there have certainly been many and long pauses in the upward action of the elevatory forces.