- Events sorted by day of the month:
Darwin was dropped off at Maldonado while the Beagle returned
to Montevideo. He went on a twelve day interior expedition
with two hired gauchos and a team of horses.
Darwin was influenced by the recent discovery of "fossilized
monkeys" in Africa. He conjectured that such fossils
were evidence that mankind was descended from some kind of
ape ancestor. However, he dared not mention this to anyone,
as such talk was tantamount to heresy.
Darwin paid a visit to Revd. Henslow at Cambridge for a few
days and had thoughts of settling there. He did not like London
very much, but unfortunately that was where all the "action"
was for the natural sciences.
Darwin started working on a short essay on his theory of natural
The Orchid book was published today. The full title was :
"On the Various Contrivances by which British and Foreign
Orchids and fertilized by Insects".
Darwin's old friend and mentor, Revd. John Stevens Henslow,
died of heart disease. Darwin could not bring himself to visit
Henslow at his death bed because he was quite ill himself.
On a happier note, by now many naturalists in Britain were
writing papers on the great antiquity of man. Even Lyell was
doing field work on man's antiquity - searching for their
fossil remains in the English countryside.
Darwin returned to Montevideo. In a letter to his sister,
Catherine, he asked his father if he would provide the funds
for Darwin to hire a servant who would work for him at a rate
of about ú60 a year. Syms Covington, the Beagle's odd
job man, was to be this servant. During this time Darwin spent
a few weeks teaching Covington how to shoot and stuff animals.
Now Darwin had more time to make observations and theorize
about what he saw.
The Beagle sailed around the southern tip of Africa and anchored
at Simon's Bay near Cape Town.
Darwin started working on his autobiography.
some time during this month:
- June 1837
Theories of how new species come into being started to fill
Darwin's head. He discussed the topic of species change with
his new friend, Richard Owen. As far as Owen was concern,
each species had its own "organizing energy" which
dictated how far a species can change (not very much, according
to Owen). Furthermore, there was a relationship between the
complexity of a species and the power of this organizing force.
Darwin told Owen he agreed with his basic theory, but he did
not see why their should be limits to change. Owen then gave
Darwin a stern lecture on the subject, reminding him that
there was no reason for new species to come into being. Darwin
was quickly learning to keep his mouth shut regarding the
transmutation of species.
The three volume narrative of the Beagle voyage was finally
published. It included Capt. Philip King's narrative of the
first Beagle voyage, and Darwin's and Capt. FitzRoy's narratives
of the second. The Victorians were quite keen on books with
long titles, in this case it was - "Narrative of the
Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle
between the years 1826 and 1836". Unfortunately, the
books received luke warm reviews, mainly due to volume two
and three being too repetitious.
Alfred Wallace finally returned from his travels in the Far
East. He came back with haul of 125,000 specimens after six
years of travels.
Darwin and Emma spent a restful holiday at Cambridge where
they attended Frank's graduation from college with a maths
degree. While there Darwin met up with his old friend, Adam
Sedgwick, who was delighted to see him. After much conversation
Sedgwick took Darwin on a grand tour of the Woodwardian Museum,
which sported an excellent collection of geological specimens
He visited London for the first time, then went with his Uncle,
Josiah Wedgwood II, for a tour of Paris. By this time Darwin's
father was rather displeased with his son, fearing he will
amount to nothing but an "idle gentleman". Plans
were made for Darwin to study for the clergy, and his father
arranged for him to attend Christ's College at Cambridge University.
Part one of Darwin's Geological Observations series - "The
Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs" was published
by Smith, Elder of London.
Huxley's book: "Man's Place in Nature" was published.
It was a compilation of his lectures on humans, apes and evolution,
and it infuriated the church. As a counterattack to Huxley,
Owen advocated what he called a "Special Creative Energy"
which initiated the spontaneous formation of new species from
existing ones. Huxley challenged Owen to answer the question
- "Was man spontaneously created from an ape?" Owen's
reply was that man's creation was preordained by god, and
where man came from was of no importance. It should be noted
that Owen was not against the idea of one species changing
into another, only that he did not think naturalistic evolution
was the agent of change. It was not long before the followers
of Darwinian evolution saw Owen as an outcast among the scientific