Voyage of the Beagle

Map of the route of the HMS Beagles (click for lager image)

Many of Darwin’s peers had similar social, cultural and educational backgrounds, but in one praticular aspect, his life was set apart from that of most of his fellow students in Edinburgh and Cambridge. In 1831, he was invited to join the British navy ship the HMS Beagle on a voyage around the world. The voyage lasted almost five years and became an experience of upmost importance to the young Englishman.

He saw more of the world than most other people; at the time he experienced the rain forest at close range, he dug up fossils, studied living nature, rode through desserts, saw ice bergs, penguins and giant turtles, lived through an earthquake and a storm, which had almost capsized the ship. Also, some of his experiences during the voyage strongly nourished his already existing loathing of slavery and any kind of cruelty.

Darwin left with an expectation of returning to a future life as a parson, but he returned home with a strong conviction to dedicate his life to science. Although he had experienced, studied and eagerly written about the amazing phenomena of nature, he himself had no doubt about which direction his future would take. Darwin wanted to become a geologist.

Peter C. Kjærgaard