Darwin and the Beagle Author:Alan Moorehead In 1831 Charles Darwin, aged twenty-two and fresh from Cambridge, was offered the post of naturalist on board HMS Beagle, a ten-gun brig sent by the Admiralty on a surveying voyage around the world. The voyage lasted five years, during which time the Beagle visited Brazil, Argentina, Tierra del Fuego, Chile, Peru, the Galapagos... more » Islands, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, and other countries and islands on the way.
For the young Darwin this was not only a great and exhilarating adventure, but the beginning of a whole new conception of the origin and evolution of the various species of life on earth, which a few decades later, was to revolutionize most of the beliefs hitherto held sacred.
In this vivid and colorful narrative of the voyage Alan Moorehead describes the countries through Darwin's eyes, and the many species of animals, plants, and minerals studied, dissected, stuffed and collected by Darwin. He relates the young naturalist's observations to the birth and gradual strengthening of the conviction that species had not been created complete and unchanging, but that heredity and environment had produced new forms along ancestral lines. In contrast with Darwin's character and ideas emerge the powerful personality and immovable biblical beliefs of Robert FitzRoy, the captain of the Beagle, three years older than Darwin himself, but a whole world apart in outlook and character.
The period in which the voyage occurred was a golden age of zoological, botanical and topographical illustration, in the form of colored engravings, lithographs and aquatints. It has been possible therefore to illustrate this book almost entirely from contemporary or near-contemporary sources. There are oil paintings and watercolors by Augustus Earle and Conrad Martens, the artists who took part in the voyage; there is also a superb series of illuminating and strictly relevant illustrations, in color and monochrome, from early nineteenth-century prints and drawings, which show the countries the Beagle visited, the natives and their customs, and the animals encountered and observed.
A substantial portion of the contents of this book appeared originally in The New Yorker.« less