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Chapter 4

(JANUARY 29, 1839.)

These two years and three months were the most active ones which
I ever spent, though I was occasionally unwell, and so lost some
time. After going backwards and forwards several times between
Shrewsbury, Maer, Cambridge, and London, I settled in lodgings at
Cambridge (In Fitzwilliam Street.) on December 13th, where all my
collections were under the care of Henslow. I stayed here three
months, and got my minerals and rocks examined by the aid of
Professor Miller.

I began preparing my 'Journal of Travels,' which was not hard
work, as my MS. Journal had been written with care, and my chief
labour was making an abstract of my more interesting scientific
results. I sent also, at the request of Lyell, a short account
of my observations on the elevation of the coast of Chile to the
Geological Society. ('Geolog. Soc. Proc. ii. 1838, pages 446-

On March 7th, 1837, I took lodgings in Great Marlborough Street
in London, and remained there for nearly two years, until I was
married. During these two years I finished my Journal, read
several papers before the Geological Society, began preparing the
MS. for my 'Geological Observations,' and arranged for the
publication of the 'Zoology of the Voyage of the "Beagle".' In
July I opened my first note-book for facts in relation to the
Origin of Species, about which I had long reflected, and never
ceased working for the next twenty years.

During these two years I also went a little into society, and
acted as one of the honorary secretaries of the Geological
Society. I saw a great deal of Lyell. One of his chief
characteristics was his sympathy with the work of others, and I
was as much astonished as delighted at the interest which he
showed when, on my return to England, I explained to him my views
on coral reefs. This encouraged me greatly, and his advice and
example had much influence on me. During this time I saw also a
good deal of Robert Brown; I used often to call and sit with him
during his breakfast on Sunday mornings, and he poured forth a
rich treasure of curious observations and acute remarks, but they
almost always related to minute points, and he never with me
discussed large or general questions in science.

During these two years I took several short excursions as a
relaxation, and one longer one to the Parallel Roads of Glen Roy,
an account of which was published in the 'Philosophical
Transactions.' (1839, pages 39-82.) This paper was a great
failure, and I am ashamed of it. Having been deeply impressed
with what I had seen of the elevation of the land of South
America, I attributed the parallel lines to the action of the
sea; but I had to give up this view when Agassiz propounded his
glacier-lake theory. Because no other explanation was possible
under our then state of knowledge, I argued in favour of sea-
action; and my error has been a good lesson to me never to trust
in science to the principle of exclusion.

As I was not able to work all day at science, I read a good deal
during these two years on various subjects, including some
metaphysical books; but I was not well fitted for such studies.
About this time I took much delight in Wordsworth's and
Coleridge's poetry; and can boast that I read the 'Excursion'
twice through. Formerly Milton's 'Paradise Lost' had been my
chief favourite, and in my excursions during the voyage of the
"Beagle", when I could take only a single volume, I always chose

Charles Darwin

Cambridge 1828-1831.

Voyage of the Beagle

From My Return to England



My Several Publications

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