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Darwin's frustrated visit to the Canaries

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Offline nick

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« on: June 05, 2007, 13:15 PM »
This month’s Quercus has an interesting article on Charles Darwin’s abortive visit to Tenerife. Darwin had been inspired to visit El Teide after reading Alexander von Humboldt ‘s account of his ascent of El Teide. This helped fire Charles Darwin with a desire to travel leading him eventually to accept the invitation in 1831 to sail as expedition naturalist aboard the Beagle. The first stopover of the Beagle's voyage was to be the Canary Islands. Unfortunately, just as they dropped anchor, a boat from the island’s authorities rowed out and informed Captain FitzRoy that they were prevented from going ashore due to a cholera outbreak in England. They were told they would have to wait 12 days in quarantine To Darwin’s dismay Captain FitzRoy gave orders to set sail for the Cape Verde Islands.


View of Peak of Teide". Histoire naturelle des îles Canaries. Les Miscellanées Canariennes. Planches. Webb, P. Barker et Berthelot, Sabin. 1839

Quote
6th After heaving to during the night we came in sight of Teneriffe at day break, bearing SW about 12 miles off. — We are now a few miles tacking with a light wind to Santa Cruz. — Which at this distance looks a small town, built of white houses & lying very flat. — Point Naga, which we are doubling, is a rugged uninhabited Mass of lofty rock|47| with a most remarkably bold & varied outline. — In drawing it you could not make a line straight. — Every thing has a beautiful appearance: the colours are so rich & soft. — The peak or sugar loaf has just shown itself above the clouds. — It towers in the sky twice as high as I should have dreamed of looking for it. — A dense bank of clouds entirely separates the snowy top from its rugged base. — It is now about 11 oclock and I must have another gaze at this long wished for object of my ambition. — Oh misery, misery we were just preparing to drop our anchor within ½ a mile of Santa Cruz when a boat came alongside bringing with it our death-warrant. — The consul declared we must perform a rigorous quarantine of twelve days. — Those who have never experienced it can scarcely conceive what a gloom it cast on every one: Matters were soon decided by the Captain ordering all sail to be set & make a course for the Cape Verd Islands.—1 And we have left perhaps one of the most interesting places in the world, just at the moment when we were near enough for every object to create, without satisfying, our utmost curiosity. — The abrupt vallies which divided|49| in parallel rows the brown & desolate hills were spotted with patches of a light green vegetation & gave the scenery to me a very novel appearance. — I suppose however that Volcanic islands under the same zone have much the same character. — On deck to day the view was compared as very like to other places, especially to Trinidad in West Indies. — Santa Cruz is generally accused of being ugly & uninteresting, it struck me as much the contrary. The gaudy coloured houses of white yellow & red; the oriental-looking Churches & the low dark batteries, with the bright Spanish flag waving over them were all most picturesque. — The small trading vessels with their raking masts & the magnificent back ground of Volcanic rock would together have made a most beautiful picture. — But it is past & tomorrow morning we shall probably only see the grey outline of the surrounding hills. — We are however as yet only a few miles from the town. — it is now about 10 oclock & we have been becalmed for several hours. — The night does its best to smooth our sorrow — the air is still & deliciously warm — the only sounds are the waves rippling on the stern & the sails idly flapping round the masts. —|51| Already can I understand Humboldts enthusiasm about the tropical nights, the sky is so clear & lofty, & stars innumerable shine so bright that like little moons they cast their glitter on the waves.

1 FitzRoy wrote: 'This was a great disappointment to Mr Darwin, who had cherished a hope of visiting the Peak. To see it—to anchor and be on the point of landing, yet be obliged to turn away without the slightest prospect of beholding Teneriffe again—was indeed to him a real calamity.' See Narrative 2: 49.

7th We were beating about during the night with a light baffling wind & in the morning a most glorious view broke upon us. — The sun was rising behind the grand Canary & defined with the clearest outline its rugged form. — Teneriffe, grey as yet from the morning mist, lay to the West: some clouds having floated past, the snowy peak was soon in all its grandeur. As the sun rose it illumined this massive pyramid, parts of which either stood relieved against the blue sky or were veiled by the white fleecy clouds: all rendered the scene most beautiful & varied. — Such moments can & do repay the tedious suffering of sickness. — We stood on a tack in direction of Santa Cruz; but were soon becalmed before reaching it. — The day has been one of great interest to me: every body in the ship was in activity, some shooting, others fishing, all amused. — No one could withstand such delightful weather,|53| nothing reminded one that there are such extremes as hot or cold. — During the day we frequently saw the Cone, but the rest of the mountain even to the waters edge was hidden. — it is then that its extreme height most strikes one. — Some old paintings, where you see Jupiter & other gods quietly conversing on a rock amongst the clouds do not give a very exaggerated idea of the Peak of Teneriffe. —
A fine breeze is now blowing us from its coast: one has read so many accounts of this island, that it is like parting from a friend; a different feeling from what I shall experience when viewing the Andes. —
« Last Edit: June 05, 2007, 14:10 PM by nick »
Nick
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Offline Technopat

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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2007, 14:55 PM »
Greetings Nick and All,
Thanx for that - great!
(The folks at Quercus must have read Lisa's posting http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,258.msg2478.html#msg2478 abt Darwin on-line, 'cos from what I gather from your copying 'n' pasting, they haven't had time to translate it yet!)

Regs.,
Technopat

Ps.
Darwin's mention of the sugar loaf rang a bell and got the old database running and came up with the following:

A sugarloaf was the traditional form, a tall gently-tapering cylinder with a conical top[1], in which refined sugar was exported from the Caribbean and eastern Brazil from the 17th to 19th centuries.
"...households bought their white sugar in tall, conical loaves, from which pieces were broken off with special iron sugar-cutters. Shaped something like very large heavy pliers with sharp blades attached to the cutting sides, these cutters had to be strong and tough, because the loaves were large, about 14 inches in diameter at the base, and 3 feet high [15th century]...In those days, sugar was used with great care, and one loaf lasted a long time. The weight would probably have been about 30 lb. Later, the weight of a loaf varied from 5 lb to 35 lb, according to the moulds used by any one refinery. A common size was 14 lb, but the finest sugar from Madeira came in small loaves of only 3 or 4 lb in weight...Up till late Victorian times household sugar remained very little changed and sugar loaves were still common and continued so until well into the twentieth century..."
"English Bread and Yeast Cookery", Elizabeth David [Penguin:Middlesex] 1977 (p. 139)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_loaf

Pps.
The only one I ever saw was here in Sp. and it was abt 20cm high (and I suppose no more than a kilo, but can't remember).
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline nick

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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2007, 10:20 AM »
I came across this interesting follow-up backlink (is that the word, Clive?) to my Canarian Darwin story

http://www.secret-tenerife.com/2007/06/darwins-frustrated-visit-to-tenerife.shtml

Nick
Nick
http://iberianature.com/barcelona/history-of-barcelona/spanish-civil-war-tour-in-barcelona/
Spanish Civil War Tours in Barcelona
http://www.iberianature.com/
A guide to the environment, climate, wildlife, & nature of Spain
The Amazon/Forum Bookshop - lend us a hand
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/shop/index.htm
And also now The Natural History of Britain
http://iberianature.com/brita

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2007, 12:37 PM »
Greetings Nick and All,
Thanks for that backlink (?) - interesting to get Fitzroy's account also and other background stuff.
Talking 'bout links, an interesting way of writing the article at that web site/blog or whatever it is, and which we could possibly incorporate onto the iberianature forum: they hyperlink http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperlink words/references in the article, not only to corresponding articles on Wikipedia, but also to other articles on their own site.

Do any of the boffins or geeks among us know of a simple way of adding some such function to the array of icons above our smileys as opposed to the simple, mechanical way I've been doing so far with ordinary internal links here? Reason I ask is 'cos my way is risky, 'cos I often lose stuff :banghead: whenever I forget (more often than not  :'() to open up a Weird , sorry, Word document first, save it and then copy 'n' paste it here.

Regs.
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline steveT

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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2007, 21:25 PM »
Dear all,

I don't think it has been mentioned that not getting onto Tenerrife, could have speeded up Darwin's theory and cut short his journey by years!!!! All the evidence he saw on the Galapagos, were there on the Canaries....ie Canary specific animals and inter island specific animals eg skinks and lizards( Hierro Lizard for example)....pigeons like Bol's pigeon ( those are the ones I know, there must loads of others)...and Canary and inter island specific plants. I haven't read this months Quercus but it probably mentions this ...... I'm being a little light hearted here, because he almost certainly had a embryonic theory before he left ......however the unique fauna and flora of Canaries, should he have visited them, would not have been lost on him.....

I  once went to Gomera from Tenerrife ...... as exotic an island as any you can imagine in the Pacific ....definately worth the trip...you really get a feel of what island ecology is  with its isolated indiginous forest and how precarious it all is.... you know you are on a huge volcanic bit of rock piercing the oceans surface ... quite an awe inspiring place....

steveT

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2007, 00:04 AM »
Nice point, steveT.
Thank heaven for small mercies? >:D

Regs.
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline lisa

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« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2007, 07:48 AM »
Greetings Nick and All,
Thanks for that backlink (?) - interesting to get Fitzroy's account also and other background stuff.
Talking 'bout links, an interesting way of writing the article at that web site/blog or whatever it is, and which we could possibly incorporate onto the iberianature forum: they hyperlink http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperlink words/references in the article, not only to corresponding articles on Wikipedia, but also to other articles on their own site.

Do any of the boffins or geeks among us know of a simple way of adding some such function to the array of icons above our smileys as opposed to the simple, mechanical way I've been doing so far with ordinary internal links here? Reason I ask is 'cos my way is risky, 'cos I often lose stuff :banghead: whenever I forget (more often than not  :'() to open up a Weird , sorry, Word document first, save it and then copy 'n' paste it here.

Regs.
Technopat
I think it's called "embedding". But maybe Clive needs a little rest  :speechless:
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Offline nick

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« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2007, 09:25 AM »
Very good point Steve and shared by this comment here (Author I think of the above link)
http://www.iberianature.com/spainblog/2007/06/05/darwin%e2%80%99s-frustrated-visit-to-tenerife/

...Actually Quercus doesn't mention a "what if scenario" but does talk about how the scientific accounts of the Canaries by Humboldt and others fired his imagination. His mind was well prepared when he began his voyage on the Beagle to find "great and constant laws"
Nick
http://iberianature.com/barcelona/history-of-barcelona/spanish-civil-war-tour-in-barcelona/
Spanish Civil War Tours in Barcelona
http://www.iberianature.com/
A guide to the environment, climate, wildlife, & nature of Spain
The Amazon/Forum Bookshop - lend us a hand
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/shop/index.htm
And also now The Natural History of Britain
http://iberianature.com/brita

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2007, 11:27 AM »
Greetings Lisa,
Isn't embedding what the journalists are invited to do by the PR guys (and gals) whenever someone wants to deploy humanitarian missions somewhere and make sure the public is kept informed?
Regs.
Technopat :-X

Ps.
Lisa, living up North you can't imagine how heavy thyme hangs on folk living in Andalusia - I'm sure Clive would be delighted for any suggestion that can help him get through the afternoon rather than having to succumb to those long siestas that the locals indulge in. >:D
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266