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pg 5[5]DIARY OF THE VOYAGE OF H.M.S. BEAGLE

Monday, October 24th. Arrived here in the evening after a pleasant drive from London.

25th. Went on board the Beagle, found her moored to the Active hulk & in a state of bustle & confusion. The men were chiefly employed in painting the fore part & fitting up the Cabins. The last time I saw her on the 12th of Sept. she was in the Dock yard & without her masts or bulkheads & looked more like a wreck, than a vessel commissioned to go round the world.

26th. Wet, cold day, went on board, found the Carpenters busy fitting up the drawers in the Poop Cabin. My own private corner looks so small, that I cannot help fearing that many of my things must be left behind.

27th. Went on board.

28th. A fine day. Mr Earl arrived from London after having had a most stormy passage. It blew a S.W. gale for the whole week, & the Steam Packet during this whole time was pitching about. I think if I had gone by it, this journal book would have been as useless to me as so much waste paper.

29th. A beautiful day, dined at 5 o'clock with Gun-room officers. They amused themselves with giving most terrific accounts of what Neptune would do with me on crossing the Equator. Mr Earl mentioned that some years ago [when] after having crossed the Line they fell in with a ship, all her sails set. Not a man could they see on deck, but on boarding her & going below, they found every body, even the Captain & his wife, so very drunk that they could not move. They had been making merry after Neptune's revels.

30th. Dined at one o'clock with the Mids, after that had a sail, & landed at Millbrook. Stokes, Musters & myself then took a long scrambling walk.

Monday 31st. Went with Mr Stokes to Plymouth & staid with him whilst he prepared the astronomical house belonging to the Beagle, for pg 6[5/6]observations on the dipping needle. The gardens belonging to the Athæneum were fixed upon as being a place well known & easily described. /

November 1st. A very wet day, staid in the house in consequence. Captain King & his son arrived in the evening & dined with us. The latter is going out in Beagle as Midshipman.

2nd. Went on board.

3rd. Walked to Plymouth with Caps. King & FitzRoy.

4th. Cap. FitzRoy took me in the Commissioners' boat to the breakwater, where we staid for more than an hour. Cap. FitzRoy was employed in taking angles, so as to connect a particular stone, from which Cap. King commenced for the last voyage his longitudes, to the quay at Clarence Baths, where the true time is now taken. Sir J. Rennie, the architect, was on the Breakwater, & gave some interesting accounts of the effects of various severe gales. In 1826 several blocks of stone, weighing 10 tuns each, were considerably displaced. It now offers a much better resistance to a heavy sea than it formerly did. It is now constructed [in] the shape of a roof of a house placed on the ground; before this alteration, it was that of a roof on a low wall, so that the sea acted on a perpendicular surface. Every body agrees in the Breakwater being as useful as it is a most stupendous work of art. In the evening dined with Mr Harris, (the author of several papers on Electricity) & met there several very pleasant people. Colonel Hamilton Smith, who is writing on fishes with Cuvier. – Caps. King & Lockier. The former mentioned an anecdote, showing how completely civilization & dram-drinking were synonymous things in New S. Wales. A native asked him one day for some rum; which being refused & wine offered, he seemed discontented. Upon Cap. King remonstrating with & asking him what he did before the English came there; he answered Oh! we were not civilized then.

5th. Wretched, miserable day, remained reading in the house.

6th. Went with Musters to the Chapel in the Dock-yard. It rained torrents all the evening. It does not require a rain gauge to show how much more rain falls in the Western, than in the Central & Eastward parts of England.

Monday 7th. Staid at home.

8th. In the morning, marked the time, whilst Stokes took the altitude of the sun. Went on board the Beagle; she now begins for the first time to pg 7[6/8]look clean & well arranged. – Was introduced to Cap. / FitzRoy's two brothers, who have come down from London to wish him farewell.

November 9th. Walked to Plymouth with Caps. FitzRoy & Videl & called on Mr Harris.

10th. Assisted Cap. FitzRoy at the Athæneum, in reading the various angles of the dipping needle: after that heard the Russian horn band, & in the evening dined at the Admiral's, Sir Manley Dixon: every body there except myself was a naval officer & of course the conversation was almost exclusively nautical. This made the evening very pleasant to me, but I could not help thinking how very different it would have been under different circumstances.

11th. Breakfasted with Mr Harris & went again to the Athæneum & spent the whole day at the dipping needle. The end which it is attempted to obtain, is a knowledge of the exact point in the globe to which the needle points. The means of obtaining it is to take, under all different circumstances, a great number of observations, & from them to find out the mean point. The operation is a very long & delicate one.

12th. Breakfasted with Col. Hamilton Smith & spent some pleasant hours in talking on various branches of Natural history. Took a walk to some very large Limestone quarries, returned home & then went on board the Beagle. The men had just finished painting her & of course the decks were clear & things stowed away. For the first time I felt a fine naval fervour; nobody could look at her without admiration; & as for the Poop Cabin it would [be] superfluous to wish for anything more spacious & comfortable. The day has been an excellent one for the paint drying, so calm & so truly Autumnal that it gives one hopes that the Westerly gales have tired themselves with blowing. It is a great consolation to know, that even if we had sailed at the beginning of October, it is probable we should have scarcely reached Madeira.

13th. Walked to Saltram & rode with Lord Barrington to Exmoor to see the Granite formation; the road passed through very extensive oak woods situated on the side of hills at the bottom [of] which were running very clear & broard brooks. Exmoor geographically is the same as Dartmoor & extends to Exeter. It has a desolate appearance, the tops of the hills only showing the / mossy forms of the Granite. In the evening the Fuegians3 arrived by Steam Packet together with their school master Mr Jenkins. Their names are York Minster, Jemmy Button & Fuegia. Matthews the missionary arrived also at the same time.

pg 8[8/9]Monday, November 14th. Cap. FitzRoy removed the Chronometers on board & placed the books in the Poop Cabin. Went on board; the paint is not yet fixed, so that nothing can be done. In the evening the Instructions from the Admiralty arrived. They are in every respect most perfectly satisfactory, indeed exactly what Cap. FitzRoy himself wished. The orders merely contain a rough outline. There could not be a greater compliment paid to Cap. FitzRoy than in so entirely leaving the plans to his own discretion.

15th. Went with Cap. FitzRoy to Plymouth & were unpleasantly employed in finding out the inaccuracy of Gambey's new dipping needle.

16th. Went on board & spent the whole day in idly but very agreeably wandering up & down the streets with Cap. FitzRoy.

17th. A very quiet day.

18th. Cap. FitzRoy has been busy for the last two days with the Lords of the Admiralty.

19th. I have now a regular employment every morning, taking & comparing the differences in the Barometers. In the evening drank tea with Capt. Vidal. He has seen a great deal of the same sort of service that we are going to be employed on; he was eight years surveying the African coast, during this time he buried 30 young officers; a boat never was sent up a river, without its causing the death of some of the party.

20th. Went to Church & heard a very stupid sermon & afterwards took a long walk in a very picturesque country between Mount Edgecombe & Mill Brook.

Monday 21st. Carried all my books & instruments on board the Beagle. In the evening went to the Athæneum & heard a popular lecture from Mr Harris on his lightning conductors. By means of making an Electric machine a thunder cloud; a tub of water the sea; & a toy for a line of battle ship, he showed the whole process of it being struck by lightning & most satisfactorily proved how / completely his plan protects the vessel from any bad consequences. This plan consists in having plates of Copper folding over each other, let in in the masts & yards & so connected to the water beneath. The principle from which these advantages are derived, owes its utility to the fact that the Electric fluid is weakened by being transmitted over a large surface to such an extent that no effects are perceived, even when the mast is struck by the lightning. The Beagle is fitted with conductors on this plan; it is very

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pg 10[9/10]probable we shall be the means of trying & I hope proving the utility of its effects.

About six o'clock, a Marine, being drunk & whilst crossing from the Hulk to another vessel, slipped overboard & was not seen again. His body has not been found.

November 22nd. Went on board & returned in a panic on the old subject, want of room. Returned to the vessel with Cap. FitzRoy, who is such an effectual & goodnatured contriver, that the very drawers enlarge on his appearance & all difficulties smooth away. In the evening dined & spent a very pleasant afternoon with Cap. Vidal.

23rd. This has been a very important day in the annals of the Beagle; at one o'clock she was loosed from the moorings & sailed about a mile to Barnett pool. Here she will remain till the day of sailing arrives. This little sail was to me very interesting, everything so new & different to what one has ever seen, the Coxswain's piping, the manning the yards, the men working at the hawsers to the sound of a fife; but nothing is so striking as the rapidity & decision of the orders & the alertness with which they are obeyed. There remains very little to be done to make all ready for sailing. All the stores are completed & yesterday between 5 & 6 thousands canisters of preserved meat were stowed away. Not one inch of room is lost, the hold would contain scarcely another bag of bread. My notions of the inside of a ship were about as indefinite as those of some men on the inside of a man, viz. a large cavity containing air, water & food mingled in hopeless confusion.

24th. A very fine day & an excellent one for obtaining sights. Every body hailed the sun with joy, for untill the time is well taken, we cannot leave harbour. I went on board several times in the course of the day; but did not succeed in doing any good, as they were / changing the place of anchorage & that is not the time for a Landsman to give trouble about his own lumber.

25th. Very busily employed on board in stowing away my clothes & after that in arranging the books, did not leave the vessel till it was dark.

26th. Again employed all day long in arranging the books; we (Stokes & myself) succeeded in leaving the Poop Cabin in very neat order. After having finished this & bringing on board some things of my own, King & I walked on the sea shore & returned home through a part of Lord Mount Edgcombe's park. The day has been a very fine one & the view of pg 11[10/11]Plymouth was exceedingly striking. The country is so indented with arms of the sea that there is a very new & different scene from every point of view.

November 27th. An idle day, had a pleasant sail in Captain FitzRoy's boat & then called on several people.

Monday 28th. Cap. FitzRoy gave a very magnificent luncheon to about forty persons: it was a sort of ship warming; & every thing went off very well, in the evening a Waltz was raised which lasted till every body went away.

29th. To day the Captain has had another large party, but not being very well, I have not gone to it. In the evening dined with Sir Manley Dixon.

30th. Cap. King was here the whole morning & I had with him some very interesting conversation on Meteorology, he paid great attention to this subject during the last voyage. Afterwards I took a very pleasant walk to Corsan; all my thoughts are now centered in the future & it is with great difficulty that I can talk or think on any other subject. When I first had the offer of the voyage I was in the same state & a very uncomfortable one it is; but this present time has the great & decided advantage of everything being fixed & settled.

December 1st. Breakfasted with Cap. King. The Commissioner took Lord Graves' party to see the Caledonia & offered me a place in the Yatch. The Caledonia is generally considered one of the finest vessels in the world, she carries 120 32 pounders. So large a vessel is an astonishing sight, one wonders by what contrivance everything is governed with such regularity & how amongst such numbers / such order prevails. On coming near her, the hum is like that of [a] town heard at some distance in the evening.

2nd. Worked all day long in arranging & packing my goods in the drawers. Erasmus4 arrived in the afternoon & I spent with him a very pleasant evening.

3rd. Incessantly busy in ordering, paying for, packing all my numberless things; how I long for Monday, even sea-sickness must be better than this state of wearisome anxiety. Erasmus being here is a great pleasure, but I do not see much of him.

4th. I am writing this for the first time on board, it is now about one o'clock & I intend sleeping in my hammock. I did so last night & experienced a most ludicrous difficulty in getting into it; my great fault of jockeyship was in trying to put my legs in first. The hammock being pg 12[11/2]suspended, I thus only succeeded in pushing [it] away without making any progress in inserting my own body. The correct method is to sit accurately in centre of bed, then give yourself a dexterous twist & your head & feet come into their respective places. After a little time I daresay I shall, like others, find it very comfortable. I have spent the day partly on board & partly with my brother: in the evening, Cap. King & son, Stokes, my brother & myself dined with Cap. FitzRoy.

In the morning the ship rolled a good deal, but I did not feel uncomfortable; this gives me great hopes of escaping sea-sickness. I find others trust in the same weak support. May we not be confounded. It is very pleasant talking with officer on Watch at night, every thing is so quiet & still, nothing interrupts the silence but the half hour bells. I will now go & wish Stuart (officer on duty) good night & then for practising my skill in vaulting into my hammock.

Monday December 5th. It was a tolerably clear morning & sights were obtained, so now we are ready for our long delayed moment of starting. It has however blown a heavy gale from the South ever since midday, & perhaps we shall not be able to leave the Harbour. The vessel had a good deal of motion & I was as nearly as possible made sick. I returned home very disconsolate, but mean to treat myself with sleeping, for the last time, on a firm, flat, steady bed. In the evening dined with Erasmus. I shall not often have such quiet snug dinners. I take the opportunity of mentioning a very / curious circumstance which the watermen here have observed. When building the walls of the Victualling office in 6 fathom water, the men made signals by tapping on the inside [of] the diving bell. This the watermen used every where to hear; even at Torpoint, a distance of two miles, it sounded like a person hitting the boat with a small hammer, & for a long time it quite puzzled the men, so much so that they hauled the boat up, thinking it was a crab or some animal.

6th. Again sailing has been deferred. In the morning the wind was S.W., but light; afterwards it increased into a gale from the South. Stokes & myself arranged the Poop Cabin, after which I was forced to beat a hasty retreat on shore. I could not even for a short time have stood the motion, had I not been hard at work. Dined in the evening with Erasmus.

7th. It is daily becoming more wearisome remaining so long in harbour; at last I have nothing more to do. Every thing is on board, & we only wait for the present wind to cease & we shall then sail. This morning it

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pg 14[12/3]blew a very heavy gale from that unlucky point S.W. The Beagle struck her Top Gallant masts & veered her yards to the wind.

December 8th. I am writing this & the two last days journal in my own corner. The cabin begins now to look comfortable, but yet very much crowded. It is a miserable wet day & no hopes of the wind changing; my first question every morning, how is the wind? Oh for the lucky day, when the answer is N.E.

9th. Finally arranged the Poop Cabin. Erasmus & myself then took a long & very pleasant walk on Mount Edgcombe. The view from it is of a most striking & uncommon kind, a bird's eye view of three large towns, Devonport, Stonehouse & Plymouth, situated on arms of the sea, seen from a most beautiful & picturesque hill. In the evening, dined for the last time with my brother.

10th. Early in the morning torrents of rain; the sky then became very clear, with a light wind from S.W. We all thought we should have settled weather. The Captain said last night that if it was possible he would sail to day; accordingly at 9 o'clock we weighed anchors, & a little after 10 sailed. Erasmus was on board & we had a pleasant sail, till we doubled the Breakwater; where he left us & where my misery began. I was soon made rather sick, & remained / in that state till evening, when, after having received notice from the Barometer, a heavy gale came on from S.W. The sea ran very high & the vessel pitched bows under. I suffered most dreadfully; such a night I never passed, on every side nothing but misery; such a whistling of the wind & roar of the sea, the hoarse screams of the officers & shouts of the men, made a concert that I shall not soon forget.

11th. It lasted till Sunday morning, when it was determined to put back to Plymouth & there remain for a more fortunate wind. We got to our anchorage at Barnett Pool about 12 o'clock, & are now lying quiet & snug. Some short time afterwards, Musters, a fellow companion in misery, & myself took a good walk, which considerably revived us, but even yet my head is giddy & uncomfortable. I was surprised to find that leaving England, as I then thought for four years, made little or no impression on my feelings. I did expect to have felt some of the same heart-sinking sensations which I experienced when I first had the offer of the voyage. I left the harbour as placidly as if I was merely going a trip to France. I suppose I have so often & so thoroughly considered the subject, that no new & fresh ideas connected with it can arise in my mind; & it is their newness which gives intensity to one's feelings. After pg 15[13/4]having had so much time to make up my mind, I am decided I did right to accept the offer; but I yet think it is doubtful how far it will add to the happiness of one's life. If I keep my health & return, & then have strength of mind quietly to settle down in life, my present & future share of vexation & want of comfort will be amply repaid. I find it necessary to forget the many little comforts which one enjoys on shore, almost without perceiving them. Nothing can be done without so much extra trouble; even a book cannot be taken from the shelves or a piece of soap from the washing stand, without making it doubtful whether in the one case it is worth while to wash one's hands, or in the other to read any passage.

Monday, December 12th. Boisterous weather, the ship rolled a good deal; and I actually felt rather uncomfortable. I look forward to sea-sickness with utter dismay, not so much as regards the misery of a fortnight or three weeks, as the being incapacitated for a much longer time from any active employment. In middle of day walked / to Corsan bay & there enjoyed the sight of the sea lashing itself & foaming on the rocks. There is no pleasure equal to that which fine scenery & exercise creates, it is to this I look forward ⟨to⟩ with more enthusiasm than any other part of our voyage. Dined with Sir Manley Dixon, a pleasant quiet party, or rather to speak more truly, I suspect very dull to every body but myself, for the Beagle was the chief subject of conversation, & it is now the only one that at all interests me. It is no easy matter at any time, but now a most painful one, to make conversation at a regular party. – We have had a long & rough pull to the vessel, but I am now seated in my own corner, snug & quiet, & am listening to the wind roaring through the rigging with same sort of feeling that I often have when sitting round a Christmas fire. Eight bells have struck, or it is 12 o'clock, so I will turn into my hammock.

13th. An idle day; dined for the first time in Captain's cabin & felt quite at home. Of all the luxuries the Captain has given me, none will be so essential as that of having my meals with him. I am often afraid I shall be quite overwhelmed with the number of subjects which I ought to take into hand. It is difficult to mark out any plan & without method on shipboard I am sure little will be done. The principal objects are 1st, collecting, observing & reading in all branches of Natural history that I possibly can manage. Observations in Meteorology, French & Spanish, Mathematics, & a little Classics, perhaps not more than Greek Testament on Sundays. I hope generally to have some one English book in pg 16[14/5]hand for my amusement, exclusive of the above mentioned branches. If I have not energy enough to make myself steadily industrious during the voyage, how great & uncommon an opportunity of improving myself shall I throw away. May this never for one moment escape my mind & then perhaps I may have the same opportunity of drilling my mind that I threw away whilst at Cambridge.

December 14th. A beautiful day giving great hopes of a fair wind. Took my usual & delightful walk in the beautiful country around Mount Edgcombe. Everything connected with dressing & sleeping have hitherto been my greatest drawbacks to comfort. But even these difficulties are wearing away. My hammock after endless alterations has been made flat & I have trained myself to a regular method in dressing & undressing.5 Orders are issued for sailing tomorrow morning. /

15th. The wind continues in the old point S.W., which independently of detaining us appears invariably to bring bad [weather] with it. The ship is full of grumblers & growlers, & I with sea-sickness staring me in the face am as bad as the worst. The time however passes away very pleasantly, but instead of working, the whole day is lost between arranging all my nick-nackiries & reading a little of Basil Hall's fragments.

16th. This day is come to its close much in the same way as yesterday. I am now sitting in my own corner feeling most comfortably at home. This is the first time that I have not left the vessel during the whole day. The wind with torrents of rain is sweeping down upon us in heavy gusts.

17th. Walked with Sullivan & King to the coast near the Ramhead & there saw a wild stormy sea breaking on the rocks. We passed through a village of the name of Corsan, one of the most curiously built places I ever saw. None of the streets are for thirty yards in the same straight line, & all so narrow that a cart certainly could not pass up them. It is situated in a very pretty little bay, which shelters numerous fishing & smugling boats from the sea. Our old enemy the S.W. Gale is whistling through the rigging: today it drove back a Brig which left Plymouth three weeks ago, so that we ought to be instead of discontented, most thankful for remaining in our present snug anchorage. The novelty of finding myself at home on board a ship is not as yet worn away, nor have I ceased to wonder at my extraordinary good fortune in obtaining what in the wildest Castles in the air I never had even imagined. If it is desirable to see the world, what a rare and excellent opportunity this is. It is necessary to have gone through the preparations for sea to be pg 17[15/6]thoroughly aware what an arduous undertaking it is. It has fully explained to me the reason so few people leave the beaten path of travellers.

December 18th. Dined at 12 o'clock with the Midshipmen & then with Bynoe & Stokes walked to Whitson bay: the sea here presented a most glorious & sublime appearance. For nearly a quarter of a mile it was a confused mass of breakers & from the white covering of foam looked like so much snow. Each wave as it dashed against the rocks threw its spray high on the hill & wetted our faces. To perfect the scene a single man was watching from a rock to spy out any chance wreck. /

Monday 19th. A fine calm day, with a gentle breeze from the North. There is every probability of sailing tomorrow morning. The weighing of our anchor will be hailed with universal joy.

20th. The rain fell in torrents & the S.W. wind blew all the morning; but now the moon is shining bright on the sea, which looks so calm, that one would think it never would again be troubled by a storm. Nothing can be more beautiful than the view from our present anchorage, on such a clear night as this is; the Sound looks like a lake. May these not turn out false signs, that our disappointment ⟨to⟩ be the more bitter. The sailors declare there is somebody on shore keeping a black cat under a tub, which it stands to reason must keep us in harbour.

21st. The morning was very calm & the sun shone red through the mist: every thing gave us hopes of a steady N.E. wind, & a prosperous voyage. But here we are yet to remain alternately praying to & abusing the S.W. gales. From weighing to again letting down our anchor everything was unfortunate. We started at 11 o'clock with a light breeze from N.W. & whilst tacking round Drake's Island, our ill luck first commenced. It was spring tide & at the time lowest ebb; this was forgotten, & we steered right upon a rock that lies off the corner. There was very little wind or swell on the sea, so that although the vessel stuck fast for about half an hour, she was not injured. Every mæneuvre was tried to get her off; the one that succeeded best was making every person on board run to different parts of the deck, by this means giving to the vessel a swinging motion. At last we got clear & sailed out of harbour not a jot the worse from our little accident. When we were on the open sea I soon became sick: at 4 o'clock I went down to the Captain's cabin & there slept till 8 o'clock, after that I retreated to my hammock & enjoyed a most comfortable sleep till morning. As soon as it was light Stokes & myself looked at a pocket compass, which we agreed was bewitched, for it pg 18[16/7]pointed to N.E. instead of to where we were sailing W. by S. Our doubts were cleared up by Wickham putting his head in & telling us we should be in Plymouth Sound in the course of an hour. During the middle watch the wind began to change its direction & at 4 o'clock, when we were only 11 miles from the Lizard, it blew a / gale from S.W. Upon this the Captain wared the ship & we returned to our old home at the rate of eleven knots an hour.

December 22nd. I have not felt at all comfortable all this day; took a long walk with Stokes & Bynoe; during the whole time torrents of rain were pouring down. By some mischance in dropping the anchor it got twisted with the chain: they were hard at work for eight hours in getting all clear. In the evening double allowance was served out to the men. Several vessels which sailed with us, have all been likewise forced to put back.

23rd. In the morning Sullivan, Bynoe & myself shot matches with the rifle for sundry bottles of wine to be paid for & drunk at the Madeira islands. In the evening went with Stokes to a bad concert. Although I am continually lamenting in the bitterness of my heart against all the long delays & vexations that we have endured, I really believe they have been much to my advantage, for I have thus become broken in to sea habits, without having at the same time to combat with the miseries of sickness.

24th. A blank & idle day.

25th. Christmas day, in morning went to Church & found preaching there an old Cambridge friend, Hoare. Dined at 4 o'clock with Gunroom officers. It does me good occasionally dining there, for it makes me properly grateful for my good luck in living with the Captain. The officers are all good friends. Yet there is a want of intimacy, owing I suppose to gradation of rank, which much destroys all pleasure in their society. The probability of quarrelling & the misery on ship board consequent on it produces an effect contrary to what one would suppose; instead of each one endeavouring to encourage habits of friendship, it seems a generally received maxim that the best friends soon turn out the greatest enemies. It is a wonder to me, that this independence one from another, which is so essential a part of a sailor's character, does not produce extreme selfishness. I do not think it has this effect, & very likely answers their end in lessening the number of quarrels, which always must necessarily arise in men so closely united. Let the cause be what it may, it is quite surprising that the conversation of active intelligent men who have seen so much & whose characters are pg 19[17/9]so early & decidedly brought out, should be so entirely devoid of interest. /

Christmas day is one of great importance to the men: the whole of it has been given up to revelry, at present there is not a sober man in the ship: King is obliged to perform duty of sentry, the last sentinel came staggering below declaring he would no longer stand on duty, whereupon he is now in irons getting sober as fast as he can. Wherever they may be, they claim Christmas day for themselves, & this they exclusively give up to drunkedness, that sole & never failing pleasure to which a sailor always looks forward ⟨to⟩.

Monday, December 26th. A beautiful day, & an excellent one for sailing, the opportunity has been lost owing to the drunkedness & absence of nearly the whole crew. The ship has been all day in state of anarchy. One day's holiday has caused all this mischief; such a scene proves how absolutely necessary strict discipline is amongst such thoughtless beings as Sailors. Several have paid the penalty for insolence, by sitting for eight or nine hours in heavy chains. Whilst in this state, their conduct was like children, abusing every body & thing but themselves & the next moment nearly crying. It is an unfortunate beginning, being obliged so early to punish so many of our best men; there was however no choice left as to the necessity of doing it. Dined in gun-room & had a pleasant evening.

27th. I am now on the 5th of Jan. writing the memoranda of my misery for the last week. A beautiful day, accompanied by the long wished for E. wind. Weighed anchor at 11 o'clock & with difficulty tacked out. The Commissioner Cap. Ross sailed with us in his Yatch. The Capt. Sullivan & myself took a farewell luncheon on mutton chops & champagne, which may I hope excuse the total absence of sentiment which I experienced on leaving England. We joined the Beagle about 2 o'clock outside the Breakwater, & immediately with every sail filled by a light breeze, we scudded away at the rate of 7 or 8 knots an hour. I was not sick that evening but went to bed early.6

28th. Waked in the morning with an eight knot per hour wind, & soon became sick & remained so during the whole day. My thoughts most unpleasantly occupied with the flogging of several men for offences brought on by the indulgence granted them on Christmas day. I am doubtful whether this makes their crime [of] drunkedness & consequent insolence more or less excusable. /

29th. At noon we were 380 miles from Plymouth, the remaining pg 20[19/20]distance to Madeira being 800 miles. We are in the Bay of Biscay & there is a good deal of swell on the sea. I have felt a good deal [of] nausea several times in the day. There is one great difference between my former sea sickness & the present, absence of giddiness: using my eyes is not unpleasant: indeed it is rather amusing whilst lying in my hammock to watch the moon or stars performing their small revolutions in their new apparent orbits. I will now give all the dear bought experience I have gained about sea-sickness. In first place the misery is excessive & far exceeds what a person would suppose who had never been at sea more than a few days. I found the only relief to be in a horizontal position: but that it must never be forgotten the more you combat with the enemy the sooner will he yield. I found ⟨in⟩ the only thing my stomach would bear was biscuit & raisins: but of this as I became more exhausted I soon grew tired & then the sovereign remedy is Sago, with wine & spice & made very hot. But the only sure thing is lying down & if in a hammock so much the better.

The evenings already are perceptibly longer & weather much milder.

December 30th. At noon Lat. 43 South of Cape Finisterre & across the famous Bay of Biscay: wretchedly out of spirits & very sick. I often said before starting, that I had no doubt I should frequently repent of the whole undertaking, little did I think with what fervour I should do so. I can scarcely conceive any more miserable state than when such dark & gloomy thoughts are haunting the mind as have to day pursued me. I staggered for a few minutes on deck & was much struck by the appearance of the sea. The deep water differs as much from that near shore as an inland lake does from a little pool. It is not only the darkness of the blue, but the brilliancy of its tint when contrasted with the white curling tip, that gives such a novel beauty to the scene. I have seen paintings that give a faithful idea of it.

31st. In the morning very uncomfortable; got up about noon & enjoyed some few moments of comparative ease. A shoal of porpoises dashing round the vessel & a stormy petrel skimming over the waves were the first objects of interest I have seen. / I spent a very pleasant afternoon lying on the sofa, either talking to the Captain or reading Humboldt's glowing accounts of tropical scenery. Nothing could be better adapted for cheering the heart of a sea-sick man.

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Notes

Editor’s Note
(3) p. [8]. On an earlier voyage, Capt. FitzRoy had brought back four natives from Tierra del Fuego to be educated in England at his own expense. One had died of small-pox in spite of four attempts at vaccination. The three survivors were now being restored to their native land. See Jemmy Button, Dramatis Personæ, p. [xxi].
Editor’s Note
(4) p. [11]. Charles's elder brother.
Editor’s Note
(5) p. [14]. The fact that the top drawer used for storing his clothes had to be removed when his hammock was slung to give extra length, affords a comment on the space at his disposal. See drawing, facing p. [9].
Editor’s Note
(6) p. [18]. Autobiographical passage: 'These two months at Plymouth were the most miserable I ever spent, though I exerted myself in various ways. I was out of spirits at the thought of leaving all my family and friends for so long a time, and the weather seemed to me inexpressibly gloomy. I was also troubled with palpitations and pain about the heart, and like many a young ignorant man, especially one with a smattering of medical knowledge, was convinced that I had heart disease. I did not consult any doctor, as I fully expected to hear the verdict that I was not fit for the voyage, and I was resolved to go at all hazards'. Autobiography, L. and L. vol. i, p. 64.
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