But the voyage of the Beagle meant more to Darwin than the mere opportunity to see the world; it trained him to be a naturalist. During his five years at sea he learned to work, and to work under conditions that were often almost intolerable. The Beagle was small and cramped, and the collections of a naturalist were not always easily cared for. The first lieutenant, who is described by Darwin in terms of the highest admiration, was responsible for the appearance of the ship, and strongly objected to having such a litter on deck as Darwin often made. To this man specimens were “d—d beastly devilment,” and he is said to have added, “If I were skipper, I would soon have you and all your d—d mess out of the place.” Darwin is quoted as saying that the absolute necessity of tidiness in the cramped space of the Beagle gave him his methodical habits of work. On the Beagle, too, he learned what he considered the golden rule for saving time, i. e., take care of the minutes, a rule that gives significance to an expression he has somewhere used, that all life is made of a succession of five-minute periods.

Darwin, however, not only learned on the Beagle how to work against time and under conditions of material inconvenience, but he also acquired the habit of carrying on his occupations under considerable physical discomfort. Although he was probably not seriously ill after the first three weeks of the voyage, he was constantly uncomfortable when the vessel pitched at all heavily, and his sensitiveness to this trouble is well shown in a letter dated June 3, 1836, from the Cape of Good Hope, in which he said: “It is lucky for me that the voyage is drawing to a close, for I positively suffer more from seasickness now than three years ago.” Yet he always kept busily at work, and notwithstanding the more or less continuous nature of this discomfort, he was not inclined to attribute the digestive disturbances of his later life to these early experiences.

The return voyage found his spirits somewhat subdued. Writing to his sister from Bahia in Brazil where the Beagle crossed her outward course, he said: “It has been almost painful to find how much good enthusiasm has been evaporated in the last four years. I can now walk soberly through a Brazilian forest.” Yet years after in rehearsing the voyage in his autobiography he declared: “The glories of the vegetation of the Tropics rise before my mind at the present time more vividly than anything else.”

All Directories