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H.M.S. <i>Beagle</i> in Straits of Magellan.

Journal of Researches
into the
Natural History and Geology
of the
countries visited during the voyage
round the world of H.M.S. Beagle

under the command of Captain Fitz Roy, R.N.

By Charles Darwin, M.A., F.R.S.


H.M.S. Beagle under full sail.

A new edition

with illustrations by R. T. Pritchett
of places visited and objects described.



This second edition is dedicated with grateful pleasure, as an acknowledgment that the chief part of whatever scientific merit this journal and the other works of the author may possess, has been derived from studying the well-known and admirable



This work was described, on its first appearance, by a writer in the Quarterly Review as “One of the most interesting narratives of voyaging that it has fallen to our lot to take up, and one which must always occupy a distinguished place in the history of scientific navigation."

This prophecy has been amply verified by experience; the extraordinary minuteness and accuracy of Mr. Darwin’s observations, combined with the charm and simplicity of his descriptions, have ensured the popularity of this book with all classes of readers  —  and that popularity has even increased in recent years. No attempt, however, has hitherto been made to produce an illustrated edition of this valuable work: numberless places and objects are mentioned and described, but the difficulty of obtaining authentic and original representations of them drawn for the purpose has never been overcome until now.

Most of the views given in this work are from sketches made on the spot by Mr. Pritchett, with Mr. Darwin’s book by his side. Some few of the others are taken from engravings which Mr. Darwin had himself selected for their interest as illustrating his voyage, and which have been kindly lent by his son.

Mr. Pritchett’s name is well known in connection with the voyages of the Sunbeam and Wanderer, and it is believed that the illustrations, which have been chosen and verified with the utmost care and pains, will greatly add to the value and interest of the “VOYAGE OF A NATURALIST.”


Dec. 1889.


I have stated in the preface to the first Edition of this work, and in the Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle, that it was in consequence of a wish expressed by Captain Fitz Roy, of having some scientific person on board, accompanied by an offer from him of giving up part of his own accommodations, that I volunteered my services, which received, through the kindness of the hydrographer, Captain Beaufort, the sanction of the Lords of the Admiralty. As I feel that the opportunities which I enjoyed of studying the Natural History of the different countries we visited have been wholly due to Captain Fitz Roy, I hope I may here be permitted to repeat my expression of gratitude to him; and to add that, during the five years we were together, I received from him the most cordial friendship and steady assistance. Both to Captain Fitz Roy and to all the Officers of the Beagle1 I shall ever feel most thankful for the undeviating kindness with which I was treated during our long voyage.

This volume contains, in the form of a Journal, a history of our voyage, and a sketch of those observations in Natural History and Geology, which I think will possess some interest for the general reader. I have in this edition largely condensed and corrected some parts, and have added a little to others, in order to render the volume more fitted for popular reading; but I trust that naturalists will remember that they must refer for details to the larger publications which comprise the scientific results of the Expedition. The Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle includes an account of the Fossil Mammalia, by Professor Owen; of the Living Mammalia, by Mr. Waterhouse; of the Birds, by Mr. Gould; of the Fish, by the Reverend L. Jenyns; and of the Reptiles, by Mr. Bell. I have appended to the descriptions of each species an account of its habits and range. These works, which I owe to the high talents and disinterested zeal of the above distinguished authors, could not have been undertaken had it not been for the liberality of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury, who, through the representation of the Right Honourable the Chancellor of the Exchequer, have been pleased to grant a sum of one thousand pounds towards defraying part of the expenses of publication.

I have myself published separate volumes on the Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs; on the Volcanic Islands visited during the Voyage of the Beagle; and on the Geology of South America. The sixth volume of the Geological Transactions contains two papers of mine on the Erratic Boulders and Volcanic Phenomena of South America. Messrs. Waterhouse, Walker, Newman, and White, have published several able papers on the Insects which were collected, and I trust that many others will hereafter follow. The plants from the southern parts of America will be given by Dr. J. Hooker, in his great work on the Botany of the Southern Hemisphere. The Flora of the Galapagos Archipelago is the subject of a separate memoir by him, in the Linnean Transactions. The Reverend Professor Henslow has published a list of the plants collected by me at the Keeling Islands; and the Reverend J. M. Berkeley has described my cryptogamic plants.

I shall have the pleasure of acknowledging the great assistance which I have received from several other naturalists in the course of this and my other works; but I must be here allowed to return my most sincere thanks to the Reverend Professor Henslow, who, when I was an undergraduate at Cambridge, was one chief means of giving me a taste for Natural History, — who, during my absence, took charge of the collections I sent home, and by his correspondence directed my endeavours, — and who, since my return, has constantly rendered me every assistance which the kindest friend could offer.

         June 1845.

1. I must take this opportunity of returning my sincere thanks to Mr. Bynoe, the surgeon of the Beagle, for his very kind attention to me when I was ill at Valparaiso.


Chapter I

Porto Praya — Ribeira Grande — Atmospheric Dust with Infusoria — Habits of a Sea-slug and Cuttle-fish — St. Paul’s Rocks, non-volcanic — Singular Incrustations — Insects the first Colonists of Islands — Fernando Noronha — Bahia — Burnished Rocks — Habits of a Diodon — Pelagic Confervæ and Infusoria — Causes of discoloured Sea.

Rio de Janeiro — Excursion north of Cape Frio — Great Evaporation — Slavery — Botofogo Bay — Terrestrial Planariae — Clouds on the Corcovado — Heavy Rain — Musical Frogs — Phosphorescent insects — Elater, springing powers of — Blue Haze — Noise made by a Butterfly — Entomology — Ants — Wasp killing a Spider — Parasitical Spider — Artifices of an Epeira — Gregarious Spider — Spider with an unsymmetrical web.
Monte Video — Maldonado — Excursion to R. Polanco — Lazo and Bolas — Partridges — Absence of trees — Deer — Capybara, or River Hog — Tucutuco — Molothrus, cuckoo-like habits — Tyrant-flycatcher — Mocking-bird — Carrion Hawks — Tubes formed by lightning — House struck.

Rio Negro — Estancias attacked by the Indians — Salt-Lakes — Flamingoes — R. Negro to R. Colorado — Sacred Tree — Patagonian Hare — Indian Families — General Rosas — Proceed to Bahia Blanca — Sand Dunes — Negro Lieutenant — Bahia Blanca — Saline incrustations — Punta Alta — Zorillo.

Bahia Blanca — Geology — Numerous gigantic extinct Quadrupeds — Recent Extinction — Longevity of Species — Large Animals do not require a luxuriant vegetation — Southern Africa — Siberian Fossils — Two Species of Ostrich — Habits of Oven-bird — Armadilloes — Venomous Snake, Toad, Lizard — Hybernation of Animals — Habits of Sea-Pen — Indian Wars and Massacres — Arrowhead — Antiquarian Relic.

Set out for Buenos Ayres — Rio Sauce — Sierra Ventana — Third Posta — Driving Horses — Bolas — Partridges and Foxes — Features of the country — Long-legged Plover — Teru-tero — Hail-storm — Natural enclosures in the Sierra Tapalguen — Flesh of Puma — Meat Diet — Guardia del Monte — Effects of cattle on the Vegetation — Cardoon — Buenos Ayres — Corral where cattle are slaughtered.

Excursion to St. Fé — Thistle Beds — Habits of the Bizcacha — Little Owl — Saline streams — Level plains — Mastodon — St. Fé — Change in landscape — Geology — Tooth of extinct Horse — Relation of the Fossil and recent Quadrupeds of North and South America — Effects of a great drought — Parana — Habits of the Jaguar — Scissor-beak — Kingfisher, Parrot, and Scissor-tail — Revolution — Buenos Ayres — State of Government.

Excursion to Colonia del Sacramiento — Value of an Estancia — Cattle, how counted — Singular breed of Oxen — Perforated pebbles — Shepherd-dogs — Horses broken-in, Gauchos riding — Character of Inhabitants — Rio Plata — Flocks of Butterflies — Aeronaut Spiders — Phosphorescence of the Sea — Port Desire — Guanaco — Port St. Julian — Geology of Patagonia — Fossil gigantic Animal — Types of Organisation constant — Change in the Zoology of America — Causes of Extinction.

Santa Cruz — Expedition up the River — Indians — Immense streams of basaltic lava — Fragments not transported by the river — Excavation of the valley — Condor, habits of — Cordillera — Erratic boulders of great size — Indian relics — Return to the ship — Falkland Islands — Wild horses, cattle, rabbits — Wolf-like fox — Fire made of bones — Manner of hunting wild cattle — Geology — Streams of stones — Scenes of violence — Penguin — Geese — Eggs of Doris — Compound animals.

Tierra del Fuego, first arrival — Good Success Bay — An account of the Fuegians on board — Interview with the savages — Scenery of the forests — Cape Horn — Wigwam Cove — Miserable condition of the savages — Famines — Cannibals — Matricide — Religious feelings — Great Gale — Beagle Channel — Ponsonby Sound — Build wigwams and settle the Fuegians — Bifurcation of the Beagle Channel — Glaciers — Return to the Ship — Second visit in the Ship to the Settlement — Equality of condition amongst the natives.

Strait of Magellan — Port Famine — Ascent of Mount Tarn — Forests — Edible fungus — Zoology — Great Seaweed — Leave Tierra del Fuego — Climate — Fruit-trees and productions of the southern coasts — Height of snow-line on the Cordillera — Descent of glaciers to the sea — Icebergs formed — Transportal of boulders — Climate and productions of the Antarctic Islands — Preservation of frozen carcasses — Recapitulation.

Valparaiso — Excursion to the foot of the Andes — Structure of the land — Ascend the Bell of Quillota — Shattered masses of greenstone — Immense valleys — Mines — State of miners — Santiago — Hot-baths of Cauquenes — Gold-mines — Grinding-mills — Perforated stones — Habits of the Puma — El Turco and Tapacolo — Humming-birds.

Chiloe — General aspect — Boat excursion — Native Indians — Castro — Tame fox — Ascend San Pedro — Chonos Archipelago — Peninsula of Tres Montes — Granitic range — Boat-wrecked sailors — Low’s Harbour — Wild potato — Formation of peat — Myopotamus, otter and mice — Cheucau and Barking-bird — Opetiorhynchus — Singular character of ornithology — Petrels.

San Carlos, Chiloe — Osorno in eruption, contemporaneously with Aconcagua and Coseguina — Ride to Cucao — Impenetrable forests — Valdivia — Indians — Earthquake — Concepcion — Great earthquake — Rocks fissured — Appearance of the former towns — The sea black and boiling — Direction of the vibrations — Stones twisted round — Great Wave — Permanent Elevation of the land — Area of volcanic phenomena — The connection between the elevatory and eruptive forces — Cause of earthquakes — Slow elevation of mountain-chains.

Valparaiso — Portillo Pass — Sagacity of mules — Mountain-torrents — Mines, how discovered — Proofs of the gradual elevation of the Cordillera — Effect of snow on rocks — Geological structure of the two main ranges, their distinct origin and upheaval — Great subsidence — Red snow — Winds — Pinnacles of snow — Dry and clear atmosphere — Electricity — Pampas — Zoology of the opposite sides of the Andes — Locusts — Great Bugs — Mendoza — Uspallata Pass — Silicified trees buried as they grew — Incas Bridge — Badness of the passes exaggerated — Cumbre — Casuchas — Valparaiso.

Coast-road to Coquimbo — Great loads carried by the miners — Coquimbo — Earthquake — Step-formed terraces — Absence of recent deposits — Contemporaneousness of the Tertiary formations — Excursion up the valley — Road to Guasco — Deserts — Valley of Copiap — Rain and Earthquakes — Hydrophobia — The Despoblado — Indian ruins — Probable change of climate — River-bed arched by an earthquake — Cold gales of wind — Noises from a hill — Iquique — Salt alluvium — Nitrate of soda — Lima — Unhealthy country — Ruins of Callao, overthrown by an earthquake — Recent subsidence — Elevated shells on San Lorenzo, their decomposition — Plain with embedded shells and fragments of pottery — Antiquity of the Indian Race.

Galapagos Archipelago — The whole group volcanic — Number of craters — Leafless bushes — Colony at Charles Island — James Island — Salt-lake in crater — Natural history of the group — Ornithology, curious finches — Reptiles — Great tortoises, habits of — Marine lizard, feeds on seaweed — Terrestrial lizard, burrowing habits, herbivorous — Importance of reptiles in the Archipelago — Fish, shells, insects — Botany — American type of organisation — Differences in the species or races on different islands — Tameness of the birds — Fear of man an acquired instinct.

Pass through the Low Archipelago — Tahiti — Aspect — Vegetation on the mountains — View of Eimeo — Excursion into the interior — Profound ravines — Succession of waterfalls — Number of wild useful plants — Temperance of the inhabitants — Their moral state — Parliament convened — New Zealand — Bay of Islands — Hippahs — Excursion to Waimate — Missionary establishment — English weeds now run wild — Waiomio — Funeral of a New Zealand woman — Sail for Australia.

Sydney — Excursion to Bathurst — Aspect of the woods — Party of natives — Gradual extinction of the aborigines — Infection generated by associated men in health — Blue Mountains — View of the grand gulf-like valleys — Their origin and formation — Bathurst, general civility of the lower orders — State of Society — Van Diemen’s Land — Hobart Town — Aborigines all banished — Mount Wellington — King George’s Sound — Cheerless aspect of the country — Bald Head, calcareous casts of branches of trees — Party of natives — Leave Australia.

Keeling Island — Singular appearance — Scanty Flora — Transport of seeds — Birds and insects — Ebbing and flowing springs — Fields of dead coral — Stones transported in the roots of trees — Great crab — Stinging corals — Coral-eating fish — Coral formations — Lagoon islands or atolls — Depth at which reef-building corals can live — Vast areas interspersed with low coral islands — Subsidence of their foundations — Barrier-reefs — Fringing-reefs — Conversion of fringing-reefs into barrier-reefs, and into atolls — Evidence of changes in level — Breaches in barrier-reefs — Maldiva atolls, their peculiar structure — Dead and submerged reefs — Areas of subsidence and elevation — Distribution of volcanoes — Subsidence slow and vast in amount.

Mauritius, beautiful appearance of — Great crateriform ring of mountains — Hindoos — St. Helena — History of the changes in the vegetation — Cause of the extinction of land-shells — Ascension — Variation in the imported rats — Volcanic bombs — Beds of infusoria — Bahia, Brazil — Splendour of tropical scenery — Pernambuco — Singular reefs — Slavery — Return to England — Retrospect on our voyage.

List of Illustrations

H.M.S. Beagle in Straits of Magellan. Mt. Sarmiento in the distance.
H.M.S. Beagle under full sail, view from astern.
H.M.S. Beagle: Middle section fore and aft, upper deck, 1832.
Fernando Noronha.
Incrustation of shelly sand.
Diodon Maculatus (Distended and Contracted).
Pelagic Confervæ.
Catamaran (Bahia).
Botofogo Bay, Rio Janeiro.
Vampire Bat (Desmodus D’Orbigny).
Virgin Forest.
Cabbage Palm.
Mandioca or Cassava.
Rio Janeiro.
Darwin’s Papilio Feronia, 1833, now called Ageronia feronia, 1889.
Hydrochærus capybara or Water-hog.
Recado or Surcingle of Gaucho.
Halt at a Pulperia on the Pampas.
El Carmen, or Patagones, Rio Negro.
Brazilian whips.
Brazilian hobbles and spurs.
Bringing in a prisoner.
Irregular troops.
Skinning uji or water serpents.
Rhea Darwinii (Avestruz Petise).
Landing at Buenos Ayres.
Maté pots and bambillio.
Giant thistle of pampas.
Cynara Cardunculus or Cardoon.
Evening camp, Buenos Ayres.
Parana River.
Toxodon Platensis. (Found at Saladillo.)
Fossil tooth of horse. (From Bahia Blanca.)
Head of Scissor-beak.
Rhynchops Nigra, or Scissor-beak.
Buenos Ayres bullock-waggons.
Fuegians and wigwams.
Opuntia Darwinii.
Raised beaches, Patagonia.
Ladies’ combs, banda oriental.
Condor (Sarcorhamphus gryphus).
Basaltic Glen, Santa Cruz.
Berkeley Sound, Falkland Islands.
York Minster (Bearing S. 66° east.)
Cape Horn.
Cape Horn (another view).
Bad weather, Magellan Straits.
Fuegian basket and bone weapons.
False Horn, Cape Horn.
Wollaston Island, Tierra del Fuego.
Patagonians from Cape Gregory.
Port Famine, Magellan.
Patagonian Bolas.
Patagonian Spurs and Pipe.
Cyttaria Darwinii.
Eyre Sound.
Glacier in Gulf of Penas.
Flora of Magellan.
Macrocystis Pyrifera, or Magellan Kelp.
Trochilus Forficatus.
Hacienda, condor, cactus, etc.
Chilian miner.
Cactus (Cereus Peruviana).
Cordilleras from Santiago de Chile.
Chilian spurs, stirrup, etc.
Old Church, Castro, Chiloe.
Inside Chonos Archipelago.
Gunnera Scabra, Chiloe.
Antuco Volcano, near Talcahuano.
Panoramic view of coast, Chiloe.
Inside Island of Chiloe. San Carlos.
Hide Bridge, Santiago de Chile.
South American bit.
Bridge of the Incas, Uspallata Pass.
Lima and San Lorenzo.
Coquimbo, Chile.
Huacas, Peruvian pottery.
Testudo Abingdonii, Galapagos Islands.
Galapagos Archipelago.
Finches from Galapagos Archipelago.
Amblyrhynchus Cristatus.
Opuntia Galapageia.
Ava or Kava (Macropiper methysticum), Tahiti.
Eimeo and Barrier-Reef.
Fatahua Fall, Tahiti.
Hippah, New Zealand.
Sydney, 1835.
Hobart Town and Mount Wellington.
Australian group of weapons and throwing sticks.
Inside an atoll, Keeling Island.
Whitsunday Island.
Barrier-reef, Bolabola.
Sections of barrier-reefs.
Section of coral-reef.
Section of coral-reef.
Bolabola Island.
Birgos Latro, Keeling Island.
St. Louis, Mauritius.
St. Helena.
Cellular formation of volcanic bomb.
Cicada Homoptera.
Homeward bound.
Ascension. Terns and noddies.