Galapagos Islands Adventure
1835 On this day, Charles Darwin wrote a letter to his friend John Stevens Henslow.
"In a few days time the Beagle will sail for the Galapagos Islands. I look forward with joy and interest to this, both as being somewhat nearer to England and for the sake of having a good look at an active volcano."
Throughout his life, Darwin exchanged many letters with Henslow, who was a professor of Botany and Mineralogy at Cambridge University. His correspondence was a powerful influence on Darwin, shaping his thinking about the natural world.
When they were young men, Henslow and Darwin had walked the Cambridgeshire countryside together. Their walks inspired Darwin to study the natural world and to travel.
And, it was thanks to Henslow that Darwin received the invitation to join captain Robert FitzRoy on the HMS Beagle. Henslow had recommended Darwin for the journey because of his likable personality.
Once Darwin was officially part of team Beagle, Henslow gave him a gift, a copy of Humboldt's Narrative, an account of Humboldt's travels in South America. In it, Henslow had inscribed these words:
"J. S. Henslow to his friend C. Darwin on his departure from England upon a voyage around the world. September 21st, 1831."
Well, needless to say, Darwin treasured this gift above all others. At his death, the book was safely brought to Cambridge University Library - where it remains to this day.