With thanks to AboutDarwin.com for chronology, images and assorted facts and figures.
The H.M.S. Beagle in Sydney Harbor,
January 12, 1836
the summer of 1831 Capt. FitzRoy foresaw that the next Beagle
voyage would present an ideal opportunity for collecting specimens
of natural history. In his narrative of the Beagle voyage FitzRoy
that no opprotunity of collecting useful information, during
the voyage, should be lost; I proposed to the Hydrographer
[Captain Francis Beaufort] that some well-educated and scientific
person should be sought for who would willingly share such
accommodations as I had to offer, in order to profit by the
opprotunity of visiting distant countries yet little known.
-- Capt. Robert FitzRoy
is likely that Capt. FitzRoy proposed the idea of a naturalist
to Captain Francis Beaufort in July of 1831. Apparently Beaufort
was at a loss as to who to suggest, so he sought the advice
of his old Cambridge friend, George Peacock. In a letter dated
6 August 1831, Peacock wrote to John Stevens Henslow,
Professor of botany at Cambridge, seeking his advice on the
the letter he informed Henslow about Capt. FitzRoy's plans to
survey the South American coastline, and that the Captain was
seeking a well educated naturalist as a companion during the
voyage. Peacock suggested that Revd. Leonard Jenyns may be a
good choice and would bring back many good specimens for the
museums. However, if he could not go, he wished to know if Henslow
could recommend someone else. It turned out that Revd. Jenyns
was quite busy with his parish duties and declined the offer,
but Henslow and he recommended a young and promising naturalist
named Charles Darwin.
So Charles Darwin had been invited to be a naturalist aboard H.M.S. Beagle on
its two year survey of South America (later extended to five
years) and was set to sail on 25 September. Darwin immediately
accepted the offer, but his father and sisters were totally
against him going. They saw it as a continuation of Darwin's
long line of idle pursuits. Worst of all, such a journey would
get in the way of him going into the clergy. However, his father's
refusal was not absolute, assuring Darwin that if he could find
a man with common sense who thought it was a good idea then
he would allow him to go.
reasons why his father objected to him going on the voyage were
Such a voyage would reflect badly on his future prospects as
a member of the clergy.
- The entire plan seemed adventurous and wild.
- Why was a naturalist still being considered so close to the
start of the voyage?
- Given the above, other people must have been considered. Why
had they refused the offer?
- Going on the voyage would prevent Charles from settling down
to a real life.
- The accommodations on the ship would be very poor.
- The voyage would offer Charles another excuse to change his
focus in life.
- It would be a complete waste of his time.
next day Darwin wrote to Revd. Henslow that his father would
not allow him to go on the voyage . At the same
time Darwin's father wrote a letter to his brother-in-law, Josiah
Wedgwood II (son of the Wedgwood Pottery Works founder), about
the offer Darwin had been given, listing all the reasons why
Darwin should not go on the voyage . Later that
afternoon Darwin rode out to Maer Hall (home of the Wedgwood's),
his father's letter in hand, for the start of the bird shooting
season on 1 September. Upon arriving at Maer Hall Darwin spoke
to his uncle Josiah about the voyage, and presented his father's
objections to it. After much discussion Josiah sent a letter
off to Darwin's father, answering all of the objections in Darwin's
woke up early the next day and while out shooting pheasants
on the Wedgwood estate he received word that his uncle Josiah
wanted the two of them to return to Shrewsbury at once. Upon
arriving at The Mount (Darwin's home), he found that his uncle's
letter had done the trick and his father allowed him to go on
the voyage, and would support him in any way necessary.
in the morning of 2 September Darwin rode out to Cambridge to
speak with Revd. Henslow about his change of fortune. When he
arrived Darwin learned that Capt. FitzRoy may have already selected
another person as naturalist for the voyage.
the next few days Darwin was engaged in shopping around London
for scientific instruments and discussing the details of the
voyage with FitzRoy. It was agreed that Darwin would share the
Captain's table for meals and pay his own way during the voyage,
about £500. It was also agreed that he would be allowed
to retire from the voyage whenever he liked.
16 October Darwin left London for Plymouth to prepare for the
start of the voyage. He arrived on 24 October with a huge assortment
of equipment. A few of the items he brought with him included:
1 carpet bag
1 pair slippers
1 pair of light walking shoes
1 microscope (a single lens model by Bancks & Son, London)
1 geological compass
1 plain compass
2 pistols (with spare parts)
1 rifle (with spare parts)
1 pencil case
1 geological hammer
3 mountain barometers
1 camera obscura
1 hygrometer (belonged to FitzRoy)
1 taxidermy book
2-3 Spanish language books
14 other books, including Humboldt's "Personal Narrative"
and Lyell's "Principles of Geology Vol. 1"
1 coin purse (Fanny Owen's gift)
1 pin with a lock of Sarah Owen's hair (Fanny's sister)
took up lodgings at 4 Clarence Baths in Devonport. Delays follow
more delays, and the weather turned bad. It was during this
time that Darwin started his Beagle Diary.
Darwin's Quarters on the HMS Beagle
Cross Section of the HMS Beagle