The Voyage of the Beagle is the title most commonly given to the book written by Charles Darwin and published in 1839 as his Journal and Remarks, bringing him considerable fame and respect. This was the third volume of The Narrative of the Voyages of H.M. Ships Adventure and Beagle, the other volumes of which were written or edited by the commanders of the ships. Journal and Remarks covers Darwin's part in the second survey expedition of the ship HMS Beagle. Due to the popularity of Darwin's account, the publisher reissued it later in 1839 as Darwin's Journal of Researches, and the revised second edition published in 1845 used this title. A republication of the book in 1905 introduced the title The Voyage of the "Beagle", by which it is now best known.
The Beagle sailed from Plymouth Sound on 27 December 1831 under the command of Captain Robert FitzRoy. While the expedition was originally planned to last two years, it lasted almost five—the Beagle did not return until 2 October 1836. Darwin spent most of this time exploring on land (three years and three months on land; 18 months at sea). The book is a vivid and exciting travel memoir as well as a detailed scientific field journal covering biology, geology, and anthropology that demonstrates Darwin's keen powers of observation, written at a time when Western Europeans were exploring and charting the whole world. Although Darwin revisited some areas during the expedition, for clarity the chapters of the book are ordered by reference to places and locations rather than by date.
Darwin's notes made during the voyage include comments hinting at his changing views on the fixity of species. On his return, he wrote the book based on these notes, at a time when he was first developing his theories of evolution through common descent and natural selection. The book includes some suggestions of his ideas, particularly in the second edition of 1845.
Darwin was invited by FitzRoy to contribute the natural history section to the captain's account of the Beagle's voyage. Using his field notes and the journal which he had been sending home for his family to read, he completed this section by September 1837. FitzRoy had to edit the notes of the previous captain of the Beagle, as well as write his own account of the voyage and the previous expeditions of two ships.
The account was completed and published as a four volume set in May 1839 as the Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle. Volume one covers the first voyage under Commander Phillip Parker King, volume two is FitzRoy's account of the second voyage. Darwin's Journal and Remarks, 1832—1835 forms the third volume, and the fourth volume is a lengthy appendix. FitzRoy's account includes Remarks with reference to the Deluge in which he recanted his earlier interest in the geological writings of Charles Lyell and his remarks to Darwin during the expedition that sedimentary features they saw "could never have been effected by a forty days' flood", asserting his renewed commitment to a literal reading of the Bible. He had married on the ship's return, and his wife was very religious.
Darwin's contribution proved remarkably popular and the publisher, Henry Colburn of London, took it upon himself to reissue Darwin's text in August with a new title page as Journal of Researches into the Geology and Natural History of the various countries visited by H.M.S. Beagle apparently without seeking Darwin's permission or paying him a fee.
The second edition of 1845 incorporated extensive revisions made in the light of interpretation of the field collections and developing ideas on evolution. This edition was commissioned by the publisher John Murray, who actually paid Darwin a fee of £150 for the copyright. The full title was modified to Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology of the countries visited during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle round the world.
In the first edition, Darwin remarks in regard to the similarity of Galápagos wildlife to that on the South American continent, "The circumstance would be explained, according to the views of some authors, by saying that the creative power had acted according to the same law over a wide area". (This was written in a reference to Charles Lyell's ideas of "centres of creation".) Darwin notes the gradations in size of the beaks of species of finches, suspects that species "are confined to different islands", "But there is not space in this work, to enter into this curious subject."
Later editions hint at his new ideas on evolution:
Considering the small size of these islands, we feel the more astonished at the number of their aboriginal beings, and at their confined range... within a period geologically recent the unbroken ocean was here spread out. Hence, both in space and time, we seem to be brought somewhat near to that great fact – that mystery of mysteries – the first appearance of new beings on this earth.
Speaking of the finches with their gradations in size of beaks, he writes "one might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends."
In 1890 John Murray published an illustrated edition of the book, at the suggestion of the artist Robert Taylor Pritchett who was already known for accompanying voyages of the RYS Wanderer and Sunbeam, and producing pictures used in books on these cruises. In his foreword to this edition of Journal and Researches, Murray said that most "of the views given in this work are from sketches made on the spot by Mr. Pritchett, with Mr. Darwin's book by his side", and the illustrations had been "chosen and verified with the utmost care and pains".
For readability, the chapters of the book are arranged geographically rather than in an exact chronological sequence of places Darwin visited or revisited. The main headings (and in some cases subheadings) of each chapter give a good idea of where he went, but not the exact sequence. See Second voyage of HMS Beagle for a detailed synopsis of Darwin's travels. The contents list in the book also notes topics discussed in each chapter, not shown here for simplicity. Names and spellings are those used by Darwin. The list below is based on the Journal and Remarks of 1839.Preface
- Chapter I: St. Jago–Cape de Verde Islands (St. Paul's Rocks, Fernando Noronha, 20 Feb.., Bahia, or San Salvador, Brazil, 29 Feb..)
- Chapter II: Rio de Janeiro
- Chapter III: Maldonado
- Chapter IV: Río Negro to Bahia Blanca
- Chapter V: Bahia Blanca
- Chapter VI: Bahia Blanca to Buenos Ayres
- Chapter VII: Buenos Ayres to St. Fe
- Chapter VIII: Banda Oriental
- Chapter IX: Patagonia
- Chapter X: Santa Cruz–Patagonia
- Chapter XI: Tierra del Fuego
- Chapter XII: The Falkland Islands
- Chapter XIII: Strait of Magellan
- Chapter XIV: Central Chile
- Chapter XV: Chiloe and Chonos Islands
- Chapter XVI: Chiloe and Concepcion
- Chapter XVII: Passage of Cordillera
- Chapter XVIII: Northern Chile and Peru
- Chapter XIX: Galapagos Archipelago
- Chapter XX: Tahiti and New Zealand
- Chapter XXI: Australia (Van Diemen's Land)
- Chapter XXII: Coral Formations (Keeling or Cocos Islands)
- Chapter XXIII: Mauritius to England
In the second edition, the Journal of Researches of 1845, chapters VIII and IX were merged into a new chapter VIII on "Banda Oriental and Patagonia", and chapter IX now included "Santa Cruz, Patagonia and The Falkland Islands". After chapter X on Tierra del Fuego, chapter XI had the revised heading "Strait of Magellan–Climate of the Southern Coasts". The following chapters were renumbered accordingly. Chapter XIV was given the revised heading "Chiloe and Concepcion: Great Earthquake", and chapter XX had the heading "Keeling Island:–Coral Formations", with the concluding chapter XXI keeping the heading "Mauritius to England".