Darwin, however, not only brought back, as a result of his work on the Beagle, large collections of interesting specimens, but he came home with a mind richly stored with new ideas, and one of these he put into shape so rapidly that it forms no small part of “The Voyage of the Beagle.” During much of the latter part of the journey he was occupied with a study of coral islands and his theory of the method of formation of these remarkable deposits was the first to gain general acceptance in the scientific world. In fact, his views gained so firm a foothold that they are to-day more generally accepted than those of any other naturalist. But coral islands were not the only objects of his speculations. Without doubt he spent much time reflecting on that problem of problems, the origin of species, for, though there is not much reference to this subject either in the “Voyage” itself or in his letters of that period, he states in his autobiography that in July, 1837, less than a year after his return, he opened his first notebook for facts in relation to the origin of species about which, as he remarks, he had long reflected.〖For Darwin’s conclusions on this subject see “The Origin of Species” in H. C., xi.〗 Thus the years spent on the Beagle were years rich in speculation as well as in observation and field work.

Doubtless the direct results of the voyage of the Beagle were acceptable to the British Admiralty and justified in their eyes the necessary expenditure of money and energy. But the great accomplishment of that voyage was not the charting of distant shore lines nor the carrying of a chain of chronometrical measurements round the world; it was the training and education of Charles Darwin as a naturalist, and no greater tribute can be paid to the voyage than what Darwin himself has said: “I feel sure that it was this training which has enabled me to do whatever I have done in science.”

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