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Charles Darwin was just twenty-two when he went on his first voyage around the world in 1831. Darwin's father at first refused to allow his young son to go on the voyage. Fortunately, his father relented, and Darwin's journal is now considered by many to be the greatest scientific travel narrative ever written. Revised by the author in 1860, this is an account of his experiences on the HMS Beagle, a ship that was mapping the coast of South America. What was set to be a two- or three-year voyage stretched out to a five-year adventure. Darwin took copious notes during the voyage, notes that would later lead to his formulation of the theory of evolution. He was able to observe coral reefs, fossil-filled rocks, earthquakes, and more, firsthand, and then make his own deductions.
This was a return trip to South America for the Beagle and Darwin left the placid landscape of England to journey to a land of dynamic terrain: high mountains, earthquakes, volcanoes, strange coastlines and even stranger animals and fossils:
"Everything in this southern continent has been effected on a grand scale: the land, from the Rio Plata to Tierra del Fuego, a distance of 1,200 miles, has been raised in mass...What a history of geological changes does the simply-constructed coast of Patagonia reveal!...At Port St. Julian , in some red mud capping the gravel on the 90-feet plain, I found half the skeleton of the Macrauchenia Patachonica, a remarkable quadruped, full as large as a camel. It belongs to the same division of the Pachydermata with the rhinoceros, tapir, and palaeotherium; but in the structure of the bones of its long neck it shows a clear relation to the camel, or rather to the guanaco and llama. From recent sea-shells being found on two of the higher step-formed plains, which must have been modelled and upraised before the mud was deposited in which the Macrauchenia was entombed, it is certain that this curious quadruped lived long after the sea was inhabited by its present shells."
Darwin spent thousands of hours making observations, collecting specimens, and recording data. He went ashore all along the South American coasts, often riding horseback into the interior in order to collect more data, and he also includes his observations about the people whom he met there, from army generals to local Indians. And of course, he visited the now famous Galapagos Archipelago, the 10 islands formed by volcanic action where Darwin noticed that several species of finches existed, with beak shapes that were vastly different. He thought deeply about the comment made by the vice-governor that there were many different varieties of tortoises to be found on the island, and came to the conclusions about evolution he later elaborated upon in his Origin of Species:
"It was most striking to be surrounded by new birds, new reptiles, new shells, new insects, new plants, and yet by innumerable trifling details of structure, and even by the tones of voice and plumage of the birds, to have the temperate plains of Patagonia, or rather the hot dry deserts of Northern Chile, vividly brought before my eyes. Why, on these small points of land, which within a late geological period must have been covered by the ocean, which are formed by basaltic lava, and therefore differ in geological character from the American continent, and which are placed under a peculiar climate, - why were their aboriginal inhabitants, associated, I may add, in different proportions both in kind and number from those on the continent, and therefore acting on each other in a different manner - why were they created on American types of organization?"
The Beagle went back to England via Australia and New Zealand, and Darwin continued to collect specimens there as well. He left England as student with a keen and open mind; he returned an experienced scientist with definite ideas about the workings of nature, and raw data to substantiate his theories. He would go on of course to refine them and publish On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, that famous and still controversial book. The direction of Darwin's thought is clearly evident in The Voyage of the HMS Beagle, as well as his exuberance. This is the second edition of the book, originally published in 1845. Fascinating reading from a truly original mind!
|Chapter 1||St. Jago--Cape de Verd Islands||1|
|Chapter 2||Rio de Janeiro||16|
|Chapter 4||Rio Negro to Bahia Blanca||55|
|Chapter 5||Bahia Blanca||71|
|Chapter 6||Bahia Blanca to Buenos Ayres||93|
|Chapter 7||Buenos Ayres and St. Fe||108|
|Chapter 8||Banda Oriental and Patagonia||125|
|Chapter 9||Santa Cruz, Patagonia, and the Falkland Islands||156|
|Chapter 10||Tierra Del Fuego||180|
|Chapter 11||Strait of Magellan--Climate of the Southern Coasts||204|
|Chapter 12||Central Chile||224|
|Chapter 13||Chiloe and Chonos Islands||242|
|Chapter 14||Chiloe and Concepcion: Great Earthquake||259|
|Chapter 15||Passage of the Cordillera||279|
|Chapter 16||Northern Chile and Peru||300|
|Chapter 17||Galapagos Archipelago||331|
|Chapter 18||Tahiti and New Zealand||358|
|Chapter 20||Keeling Island:--Coral Formations||402|
|Chapter 21||Mauritius to England||429|