The Voyage Of The Beagle

Preface

 

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 “Beagle” I shall ever feel most thankful
for the undeviating kindness with which I was treated during our
long voyage. (Preface/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.)

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.

Each and every beautiful creation of God was splendidly described here like the space art of constellations, the glossy stream of ice or simply, the velvety glaciers that bedspread the freezer continents, the great castle structure formed up by the reef corals, the Ethereum code system and the ferocious volcanoes.

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.

DOWN, BROMLEY, KENT,
June 1845.

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