RECORD: Sulivan, H. N. ed. 1896. [Impressions of Charles Darwin]. In Life and letters of the late Admiral Sir Batholomew James Sulivan. London: John Murray: 40-46, 381-2.
REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by AEL Data; corrections by John van Wyhe 11.2005. RN2
H.M.S. "BEAGLE," H.M. KETCH "ARROW," ETC.
On the advice of FitzRoy, in view of his approaching examination for the rank of lieutenant, Sulivan only remained in the Beagle as midshipman until February 12th, 1829. He then joined the Ganges, Captain Inglefield, leaving her on April 12th for the North Star, Captain Arabin, evidently for a passage home. On December 8th he passed his examination in seamanship. He was entered as mate of the Undaunted, Captain Clifford. His seniority as lieutenant is dated April 3rd, 1830.
I have always understood that my father, having obtained full marks at the Naval College, and also on passing for lieutenant, was given that rank almost immediately, without the usual service as mate, which to many men without interest meant sometimes a period of ten years before becoming lieutenants.
Christmas of this year was spent with the Young family at Barton End. In July 1831 FitzRoy was again appointed to the Beagle, for the purpose of undertaking another surveying voyage to the southern parts of South America, and of completing a chain of meridian distances round the world. He took Sulivan as second lieutenant. As descriptions of this celebrated voyage have been given by both Admiral FitzRoy and Professor Darwin, I will refrain from the temptation to reproduce many of the interesting letters my father sent home. The Beagle fitted out at Plymouth
in the autumn of 1831. At that time the family of Admiral Young were staying there, so my father was often able to meet my mother. Although no word on the subject was spoken, the affection then formed was mutual.
The labour of fitting out, especially towards the end, was very heavy. From my father's letters it appears he was feeling the effects of the overwork, for he mentions more than once having fallen asleep in the evenings at friends' houses. The night before the Beagle sailed there was a ball on shore, and Sulivan was hoping to meet Miss Young there for the last time before the long voyage. Having had a hard day's work, at five o'clock lie went to his cabin for a nap, telling the steward to rouse him at half-past seven, that he might join the gun-room tea before going on shore to dress. On awaking, he was astonished to find it was daylight. He called the steward, and asked the time. " Eight o'clock, sir." " What do you mean ? " " Eight in the morning, sir." " What, have I missed the ball? Why did you not call me?" "I did, sir." "Then, when I did not appear at tea, why did you not call me again." " You did have tea, sir." Hearing a titter in the ward-room, he got up, and was told the following tale. The officers were at tea, when he appeared in his night-shirt and night-cap, shouldering a big duck-gun lie had hung in his cabin. He deposited this in the corner, went to his place at table, drank the tea they put before him, then rose, shouldered the gun again, and marched back to bed. This was a curious case of somnambulism. The officers, seeing he was evidently overwrought, did not like to awaken him, so he missed the ball. Owing to heavy gales, the Beagle twice returned after having put out to sea before she finally sailed on December 27th, so there was an opportunity after all for the farewell to be spoken.
It was the opinion of all on board the Beagle that never
had a vessel left England better equipped for the special service she was to be engaged in. Captain FitzRoy called the officers together, and said, " If a man falls overboard, if we lose a spar or ship a sea, I shall blame the officers of the watch." During the whole voyage, part of the time in one of the most stormy regions of the world, not one of these events happened, except the shipping of one sea just after my father had relinquished the deck to FitzRoy. The captain always had the ports secured, saying that a ship had no business to be in the position to require them for freeing ports. My father never liked this order, and told the carpenter always to have a handspike handy for eventualities. On the occasion in question the vessel was on her beam-ends.* On my father reaching the deck from below, he found the carpenter up to his waist in water, standing on the bulwark, driving a handspike against the port, which he eventually burst open. This probably saved the ship, for she righted in time to meet the next heavy sea. No skill could have prevented the accident, for the ship was struck by three heavy breaking seas in succession, and the third came on board.
FitzRoy's orders will repay perusal. One was that no one was to go out of sight of the ship except in company with at least two others. If one man were hurt, a comrade could stay with him whilst the third went for assistance. The only time this rule was broken was at the Falklands, when Mr. Hcllycr, the clerk, who had gone out shooting alone, was drowned in a lake within sight of the ship's topmasts.
Sulivan's father had said to him before .starting, " Pick and send home any strange plant you find." This he did. The botanist Lindley was a great friend of his father's, and
* See FitzRoy's "Voyage of the Adventure and Beagle" vol. ii., p. 125.
vised to examine the plants that arrived. Some of them having seeds, he cultivated these. In this way the Tropasolum and another of our now popular creepers were introduced into England. Although my father did not attain to the rank of a scientific botanist, the subject greatly interested him, and the pursuit brought him into close friendship with Sir William and Sir Joseph Hooker, as well as with Darwin. The latter has borne testimony in his books to the correctness of Sulivan as an observer of scientific phenomena.
Although not receiving the pay of a surveyor, Sulivan acted as one throughout the entire voyage. It was doubtless to this expedition that he owed his fondness for and skill in surveying and seamanship. There were no steam-launches or lifeboat cutters in those days ; all the work had to be done in sailing-boats. FitzRoy replaced the dangerous dipping lug with two standing lugs, and this rig Sulivan always adopted afterwards. In the Rio Plata he boasted of his boats outsailing those of the whole squadron. Throughout the many years of constant boat-work in the 'Beagle, Arrow, and Philomel, no accident occurred ; this he greatly attributed to the use of this rig.
On the arrival of the Beagle at Buenos Ayres, FitzRoy, anxious to accomplish as much work as he could, purchased and fitted out at his own expense two little vessels in which to send officers on detached surveys.
Lieutenant Wickham was given charge of one, Mr. Stokes, the mate, of the other. Sulivan thus describes the vessels :—
"The cabin in Stokes's craft is seven feet long, seven wide, and thirty inches high. In this three of them stow their hammocks, which in the daytime form seats and serve for a table. In a little space forward, not so large, are stowed five men. The larger boat carries the
instruments. Her cabin is the same size, but is four feet high, and has a table and seats."
In these craft did one or other of the officers survey the coast from the Rio Plata to the Straits of Magellan over a period of nearly twelve months, whilst the Beagle was engaged farther south. In the meantime FitzRoy had added to the "squadron" a schooner-yacht, a much better vessel, which he named the Adventure (after the ship commanded by Captain King), and she was his consort during nearly the whole of the South American cruise. In such vessels and in open boats did he and his officers get through the immense amount of laborious surveying work that was accomplished.
Sulivan had his share of ordinary boat work, and during Wickham's long absences did first lieutenant's duties. In December 1834 came his turn to undertake a separate survey. On Christmas Eve he started to survey the east side of the Island of Chiloe and the islets in the Gulf of Ancud. With him went Darwin, three officers, and ten men. They returned on January 7th, but went back to the same ground a few days later, Darwin not accompanying them this time. On the 17th they rejoined the Beagle in San Carlos Harbour. Some extracts from the accounts of these trips may prove interesting:—
"BERKELEY SOUND, February 1833.
"As we went on the sea became very high, and the farther we went the worse it was. In the yawl we got on pretty well. The wind was blowing the water up in sheets of white spray, flying over the boat's mast-head, and the only sail we could carry was a close-reefed fore-sail. The sea was so high that at two cables' distance from each other it hid the mast-heads of the boats when they were in the hollow of the sea. Just at this place the whaler broached to and shipped a good deal of water, but luckily they got her before it again before the next sea came.
We were at this time about two cables' lengths ahead of her, but had she gone we could not have helped her, as it would have been almost impossible to round to with safety, and if we did we could not have got one inch back. It was a very anxious time—I think more so than I ever yet experienced. As we neared the point the sea got much worse, from the tide forming a race; but the distance through this was very short, and directly we passed the rocks off the point we should be in smooth water. The rocks are about a hundred yards from the shore, and tremendous breakers on them and the shore also, but between these was one small part where it did not break; and as every moment was of consequence, and outside the rocks there was a much heavier sea, we ran for this little opening. Just before coming to it a roller reached us, and carried us on its top right over the ridge without our shipping a drop of water, and the next moment we were round the point in smooth water; but this was by far the most anxious time for me, as we were also out of sight of the whaler, and it was for her safety that I was so anxious. However, just as we went round to stand back under the point we saw her swing round outside the rocks, as they thought it better to run the risk of the sea than to come through the passage inside it. The relief and comfort I felt when she was safe alongside us in smooth water I cannot describe. We got into a snug little cove, where we pitched the tents, secured the boats, and got dinner under way. The weather cleared up a little, so as to enable us to get a few things dry. While dinner was cooking I walked over to the point we had come round with the instruments; but it blew so hard that I could not put one up, not a stand would remain fixed, and we could not stand on the top of the beach ourselves. As it was warm walking and carrying instruments, and the sky being clear, I left my coat behind me at the tents, and on our return it came on to rain, hail, and snow, and I got a complete drenching. The yawlers had now the laugh on their side, as the whalers had had their bags filled with water when the sea came into the boat, and had not a dry stitch of clothes or blankets. However, they got them partly dry before night. We were fortunate to find plenty of wreck-wood on the beach, and we had a glorious fire, round which we sat singing till ten o'clock at night, when a heavy hail-shower drove us into the tents. We all then crowded into one tent, and
went on singing till twelve, and I never under any circumstances saw a more merry party. All the comic songs that any one knew were mixed up with yarns of English, Irish, Scotch, and Welsh; and as we had about an equal number of each country, it raised bits of laughter against them all in their turns: neither did the west country escape."
"RIO NEGRO, September 5th, 1833.
"On August 29th I left in the yawl with a mate and ten men. We started from the ship at 1 p.m. with a strong breeze but a favourable tide, and we beat up to Punta Alta in time to have everything landed, the tents rigged, and the pot under way before sunset. Tea is a great luxury in cruises of this kind. We always boiled a large boiler holding four gallons full every morning for breakfast, and the same for supper, and we never had any left, and, as there were only twelve of us, we must have drunk one-eighth of a gallon each meal, or five and a half pints a day. The same pot full of a mess made of salt pork, fresh beef, venison, and biscuit was also emptied for dinner, and meat also of some kind both for breakfast and supper. Such hardships are hard to put up with, the idea of being among mud-banks in a boat with nothing but a waterproof awning to cover her with, and thick blankets to sleep in, with only two pounds of meat, two-thirds of a gallon of tea, one pound of bread, and a quarter of a pint of rum each man per day is dreadful!!!
"In the evening we got all ready for beginning work at daylight, and then part went on board the boat to sleep. On the 30th we began at 6 a.m., and had finished our work by breakfast-time, but waited for Darwin to examine the beach at low water for fossil remains of animals, which are very plentiful. Besides getting some he had seen before, he this morning found the teeth of animals six times as large as those of any animal now known in this country, also the head of one about the size of a horse, with the teeth quite perfect and totally different from any now known, and just at low-water mark he found the remains of another about six feet long, nearly perfect, all embedded in solid rock. We started at low water for the settlement, leaving two hands digging out the bones.
"After supper we all went on board, and moored the
boat head and stern about four yards from the bushes, to ensure her grounding in the centre where the mud was quite soft. The evening looked very gloomy, with heavy thunder and lightning; but we were quite snug under an awning, which we filled as much as possible with tobacco smoke, to drive away the mosquitoes and sand-flies, which were very troublesome. By filling the upper part of the awning with smoke we kept them all out. I never in my life, I think, laughed in the way I did for about three hours at the stories they were all telling in turns. We had among the men two or three excellent hands for keeping every one alive, and to-night they performed their part to perfection. Such hands are invaluable in a cruise of that kind, particularly if the work is very hard, as they keep men's spirits up in a most surprising manner. I think I never in my life saw people more happy than all our party were; they were in roars of laughter from morning till night, and up to all kinds of amusements when on shore, except when I brought them to an anchor occasionally to prevent their shaking the ground (near my instruments), and then they would find something amusing in that; and when men in those spirits are happy and comfortable, it is astonishing how they make work fly."
"'BEAGLE,' AT SEA, November 15th, 1834.
"It [Chiloe] will be a pleasant cruise, and all the officers want to go with me. I am to have Usborne, Johnson, and King, the assistant surgeon, and five men, besides the pilot, making a party of ten. We shall have the dinghy with us, so the yawl will be turned into a complete man-of-war. We expect to finish the work as far as Valparaiso by the end of April, when we shall no more return to the south.
"November 19th.—It was declared yesterday by the doctors that if they were to pick out the most robust and healthy person in the Beagle it would be me. However, the cruise in the yawl will, I have no doubt, take me down a little, though I never enjoyed better, bodily health than I do in these cruises. Still, the work, fag, and anxiety all tend to keep a person from getting too stout. I am to have six men and one boy; and as the best singers and most diverting characters in the ship are among them—and they are all of that kind, and are up to anything—we shall have, I hope, a very pleasant party. We shall have a large bag
full of flour and raisins on purpose for a good plum-dough on Christmas Day.
"You cannot think how I have enjoyed the society of Mrs. Miller's and Mrs. Patterson's little children at Valparaiso. I was their chief friend, and they came to me for everything they wanted. One day I had a large party of ten children on board, the eldest six and the youngest two and a half years old, and for four hours all the big children amused themselves seeing the little ones playing hide-and-seek and other games about the deck."
"H.M. 'BEAGLE'S YAWL,' SAN CARLOS, January 9th, 1835.
"It rained every day but one for six weeks, and most of the days never ceased raining, but by great good luck we have not had one person unwell.
"I shall amuse you with a few stories. For instance, our foraging on a small island inhabited by Indians, on Christmas morning, from nine to twelve, in a heavy gale of wind and tremendous rain, before we could get eggs enough to make our plum-pudding or a sheep to eat. However, we got into the padre's house attached to the church, as our tents, clothes, and blankets were wet through, and by 4 p.m. had one side of a sheep roasted, another side boiled, twelve pounds of English fresh roast beef heated, and two immense plum-puddings made. No bad quantum for twelve men! It would have amused you if you could have seen us in a dirty room with a tremendous fire in the middle, and all our blankets and clothes hung round the top on lines, getting smoked as well as dry, while all hands were busily employed for four hours killing a sheep, picking raisins, beating eggs, mixing puddings which were so large that, in spite of two-thirds of the party being west-country men, we had enough for supper also. However, we passed a pleasant day in spite of wind and weather, and it was a holiday to us, as we could only afford to knock off work when it rained too hard constantly to be able to move, which happened on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Every other day for eight weeks we were hard at work. It is very curious that I am always in better health in a boat, for I never have enjoyed such perfect good health for two months since leaving England."
On one occasion, it being desired to find out the condition of the Beagle's bottom after she had struck a rock,
Sulivan dived down under the keel, and, having ascertained things were not very bad, came up the other side, bleeding from several scratches received from the jagged copper. FitzRoy, wishing to make doubly sure, then performed the same action himself.
In May 1835. a Chilian gentleman lent FitzRoy the schooner Constitution, of twenty-six tons. Sulivan was despatched in her to examine the coast near Coquimbo, and that of Chili as far as Paposa. His commander wrote in allusion to this trip, "I well knew that Lieutenant Sulivan would not only make despatch, but do also extremely correct work." This cruise lasted until August 30th. As the Beagle was then about to leave for her voyage to the west, Sulivan could not be spared longer, so Mr. Usborne, master's assistant, was sent in the schooner to survey the coast of Peru. Sulivan describes him as one of the best seamen he ever knew.
Sulivan had another expedition in the yawl to survey the centre of the Galapagos Islands. In December 1835 the Beagle reached New Zealand, after touching at Otaheite. The month following she arrived at Sydney, where Mr. King left them to join his father. The Beagle sailed for England, calling at Mauritius, the Cape, and other places on her way home for the purpose of observations for meridian distances. She arrived at Greenwich in November 1836.
One story not related by FitzRoy I may now give without offence. On the return of the vessel after such an interesting voyage, so many people came to visit her that the captain gave the order that respectable-looking persons only were to be admitted by the accommodation-ladder; others were to enter by the gangway (where some projections three inches wide against the ship's side afford foothold, there being two ropes to assist the climber).
Sulivan, who was at the time on watch, noticed the sentry wave a boat away from the ladder round to the gangway. Presently the head of a very pretty, stylish woman appeared in it, and Sulivan went forward to assist her. She was followed by a rather plain-looking man, who asked for the captain. After they had been conducted below, FitzRoy came on deck, much put out, and said, "Do you know it is the Astronomer Royal who has been treated with such scant ceremony?" He was paying what was somewhat of an official visit, with his wife. When the captain had retired below, Sulivan rated the sentry for his want of discrimination. The man replied, "Well, sir, he did not look respectable!"
Thirty-three years afterwards the nine officers who had been such close companions and friends were all still alive; then the first break began. Now the only survivor is Mr. Philip King, of Sydney. I annex a few remarks written by him and the late Admiral Mellersh, who died only recently. I might add, in relation to Darwin, that he suffered so much from seasickness that whenever the ship was out of harbour he retired to his hammock in the chartroom, the only accommodation afforded him. My father said he believed it was this constant suffering which laid the seeds of the indisposition he was troubled with in later years, and that his patience in persevering with his scientific work, and not abandoning the voyage, was most commendable.
FitzRoy added the following lines to Sulivan's official certificate of service in the Beagle:—
"To this usual certificate I am anxious to add a few words expressive of my very high opinion of your ability, integrity, and high-principled zeal. I have known you and watched your conduct ever since your entry into the service, and I sincerely believe that a worthier young man is not to be found. Wherever you go, or whatever
may be my lot, remember that among your numerous friends one of the earliest and not the least sincere is
From the late Admiral A. Mellersh, C.B:—
"HOVE, BRIGHTON, February 18th, 1891.
"DEAR MR. SULIVAN,—I have not 'the pen of a ready writer,' but I may say that I have had, in nearly thirty years' actual sea-service, great opportunities of seeing and judging of naval officers, and I do not hesitate to declare my opinion that your father was amongst the 'first flight.' He was a perfect sailor, a first-rate observer and navigator, a capital gunnery officer, and indeed an 'all-round man.' As I am writing a scene comes into my mind. We were near the western entrance of the Straits of Magellan, in mid-winter, going westward; it was blowing hard; treble-reefed topsails and reefed courses; the man-sail hauled up, but not furled; wind from westward. I (then a mate) was officer of the 'middle watch' (12 to 4 a.m.). The captain directed your father to keep with me. The night was inky dark, when about 1 a.m. the look-out man called out, 'Rocks close on the starboard beam.' As we were 'land-locked' the water was smooth. Your father gave the order 'Lower main-sail,' and the watch ran the 'main-tack on board,' and hauled aft the main-sheet so quickly, that, though so close to the perpendicular rocks, the lee clew of the main-sail nearly touched the wall-like cliff. The ship sprang off like an arrow from a bow. A moment's indecision would have been fatal; but there was none, and the ship was saved. Though your father was only a year my senior in years, I learned from him and Wickham all that made me successful in my own long service as first lieutenant. In conclusion, I may say that your father was one of my dearest friends on earth, and one whom I hope I may meet again in heaven.
"Yours very truly,
From Mr. Philip Gedley King:—
"Never shall I forget the kindly welcome he gave us as we stepped on board after our hazardous absence [in the
small craft, with Lieutenant Wickham]. His was the cheery, open heart which held out the hand of genuine friendship to any one, though of inferior rank in the service. As the voyage proceeded changes were made, and I became not only his shipmate but his helpmate; and later on he was appointed by Captain FitzRoy to take his share in the small-craft service, which added so much to the real work performed by the officers of the Beagle.
" To his craft I had the happiness of being appointed, and the few months spent on board her are full of memories of pleasant relationship with my commander, with whom or from whom I do not ever remember to have had an angry word. Full of zeal for the service, and animated with a somewhat fiery spirit in the prosecution of his duty, he yet had the gentle heart and kindness of disposition which marks so eminently those ' who go down to the sea in< ships, and occupy their business in the great waters '— these are they ' who tell out the works of the Lord with gladness,' and offer their hearts to their fellow-men.
"It was at Sir James Sulivan's instance that a portrait was painted of our estimable commander, Robert FitzRoy, now hanging on the walls of the Painted Hall of Greenwich (Hospital that was), a photograph of which has had a place in my library, opposite that of his old senior officer, my father, the late Admiral Phillips Parker King (of H.M.S. Adventure)—and not far away are the likenesses of Darwin, Wickham, Usborne, Mellersh, and of my lamented friend.
" Philip Gedley King."
On the return of the Beagle the visits to Barton End were resumed, and the two whose affection had been so well tested by absence without correspondence were married on January 14th, 1837. In December of that year my father was appointed to the schooner Pmcker, intended for ivatching the slave-trade on the west coast of Africa. But a few weeks afterwards the Hydrographer, Captain Beaufort, was wanting an officer to undertake the survey of the Falkland Islands. He wrote to FitzRoy, asking about Sulivan's qualifications for the post. The
following is his reply (a copy of which he enclosed to Sulivan), resulting in the latter's appointment to the ketch Arrow for the work in question :—
"31, Chester Street, January 5th, 1838.
" Dear Captain Beaufort,—In answer to your note with respect to Lieutenant Sulivan, I will try to put the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth into as few words as possible. In my humble opinion (having known him ever since he got the first medal at the Naval College) Sulivan is ' up to the business completely' He is as thorough a seaman, for his age, as I know, and he has been used to the smallest craft as well as to the largest ships. He is an excellent observer, calculator, and surveyor, and I may truly say that his abilities are better than those of any man who has served with me. Besides these advantages he has the solid foundation of the highest principles, and an honest and warm heart. Nothing on earth would induce Sulivan to swerve from his duty, even in the smallest degree. Whatever he may have to do, he will do honestly and as well as circumstances allow.
" Now for his defects—and who has none ? Sulivan is eager—often hasty—and wants some of the reserve, and caution towards strangers, which sailors seldom have while young. He was fidgety, and never thought he or those with him were going fast enough ; but this is wearing off fast. In official minutiae, forms, letters, etc., he may at first appear deficient, having undervalued them perhaps top much. He is not a neat draftsman, though his chart work is extremely correct. (His hand is not quick enough for his mind, or his mind is too quick for his hand.) This is all that I, or any man, can say against him.
" May I now conclude by saying, earnestly, that I know no young man, of his age, equal to him in abilities and high principles ?
" Most respectfully and sincerely yours,
" Robert FitzRoy."
Another officer was sent to take the command of the Pincher. Both vessels fitted out at Chatham. Sulivan had been a week with the crew of the Pincher, preparing her. As a good and therefore a cautious sailor, he had taken
down all the long spars suitable for the tropics, and fitted shorter ones. His successor's first exclamation on taking her over was, " What has become of her long spars ?" Sulivan replied, " They are stowed below until wanted. I was not going to take her down Channel with them in the winter." " What are you afraid of? " said the officer ; " I intend to have them up." So they were replaced, with the canvas belonging to them. The two vessels being ready for sea at the same time, the Pinchers commander suggested a race round to Portsmouth. When near Beachy Head, the schooner of course leading by some distance, a thick squall came on. The look-out man said he could not see the Pincher, so it was supposed she had run ahead into the mist. But on reaching Portsmouth they found no Pincher there. A week afterwards they found her in the Channel, bottom up, with every sail standing, the sad result of foolhardiness 1 The bodies of the watch below were all in her, showing she must have capsized instantly. These Sulivan had to identify.
Although there are many interesting letters concerning the surveys both of the coasts and of the interior, and accounts of the life in the islands, 1 have not space for them in this volume. Sulivan published his remarks on the islands in a pamphlet, which was translated into French. The climate appears to resemble that of the west of Scotland. The high winds prevent the growth of trees. When the breeze blows from the mainland of America, the dryness of the air is remarkable. To this and the equable though not genial temperature Sulivan attributed the great healthiness of the place.
The Arrow came home in 1839. Captain Beaufort was much pleased with the work done.
In May 1841 Sulivan was made a commander. In an official letter to his father the secretary to the Admiralty
said that, as a special mark of their lordships' approbation of his services as commodore on the Brazilian station, they had promoted his son.
In 1842 it became necessary to undertake a further survey in connection with the Falklands and the Rio Plata. Beaufort again selected Sulivan for the task, and he was appointed to the brig Philomel. The account of his work in the Rio Plata will be found in the following chapter; that in the Falkland Islands must be dismissed for want of space in a few words. As will be seen, his wife and family accompanied him thither. My mother found time to make a collection of the flora of the islands. The plants sent home were arranged by Miss Warren, a lady botanist who lived at Flushing ; Lindley also examined them, and named some plants after the finder.
My brother, Commander James Young Falkland Sulivan, was the first British subject born on the Falkland Islands.
The Falkland plant of greatest value is the tussac-grass, growing six feet in height, and containing, weight for weight, almost as much nutriment as corn, as testified by the Royal Agricultural Society's chemist. Sulivan considered it would thrive well in the western islands of Scotland, or Ireland. He introduced it to the late Sir James Matheson, who planted it at Stornoway, where it answered all expectations. But it was at last destroyed, owing to the neglect of the injunction not to let the cattle feed on the plant, but to cut it. A fresh attempt should be made to introduce this valuable plant, but it must be fenced in.
Note.—A short account of another visit to the Falkland Islands will be found in Appendix D.
what excitable brain, which had undoubtedly already felt the strain of the two Baltic campaigns. He was nervous about himself, for he sometimes suffered from severe headaches, the result of suppressed gout. In the spring of 1864 he and my mother took a trip to Italy and Switzerland for the benefit of his health.* But in 1865, being perhaps unduly anxious about himself, he resigned his appointment, and took up his residence at Bournemouth. The Board of Trade were very liberal to him, and gave him the highest pension in their power—,£320 a year— taking into consideration the fact of his having saved them the salary of an engineer. Mr. Milner Gibson, the President of the Board, wrote to him as follows :—
" London, April 2$th, 1865.
" We shall not find it so easy to replace you, because you possessed a combination of knowledge on both nautical and engineering subjects, which rendered your advice on the subjects which came before the Board of Trade most useful. Speaking for myself, so long as I am at the Board of Trade, I am sure 1 shall feel your loss very much, and I am confident, whoever may be your successor, the public will not be better served than they have been by you.
" Yours very faithfully,
"Thomas Milner Gibson."
"The day before returning home from the Grand Chalet, Rossiniere, they went out for a walk with an old lady-friend. While searching in a wood for a wild flower, my father heard cries from the friend, who had lingered in a field below. Hastening to her, he found she had been attacked by two ruffians. Having fortunately a stout stick, he disabled for some time the bigger of the two with a blow, and then began a desperate struggle with the second, in which, rolling on the ground, each tried to choke the other. Happily my father prevailed. When the three were struggling for possession of the stick, my mother, coming up, used her Nice parasol on the fingers of one until she made him let go. Owing to his having to return home, my father- could not prosecute the men, who were strangers to the neighbourhood. It was the only assault on visitors ever known in the district.
REMINISCENCES OF THE LATE ADMIRAL SIR B. J. SULIVAN, BY LORD FARRER.
" I am sorry to say that I have kept no written record of our intercourse, so that anything I say must be taken with all the drawbacks due to ' slippery memory.' Facts and dates become indistinct, and without these impressions of character, however vivid—and they are very vivid with me in this case—are apt to be vague and uninteresting.
" My first knowledge of Sir B. J. Sulivan was when he joined the Board of Trade in 1857, as one of the two nautical advisers who had been appointed to assist the President in administering the Acts relating to merchant shipping. His immediate predecessor was Admiral Beechey, who, like himself, had been a distinguished officer in the Surveying Department of the navy. The chief busi ness of these officers was to advise the Board on matters connected with lighthouses, pilotage, harbours, and other matters connected with navigation, with respect to which large functions had recently been thrown on the Board of Trade. It is difficult to describe the actual work which Sulivan did in this department; he had much to do with the Trinity House, and it is to his credit as well as theirs that the somewhat delicate relations (the Board of Trade had the control of the purse) was not strained. On the position, character, etc., of lighthouses at home and in some of the colonies he had a potential voice. He took an active part in the harbour of refuge questions, he was a stout opponent of compulsory pilotage, and a genuine free-trader and upholder of individual responsibility in nautical as well as in other matters. A marine department of the Board had been created in 1850 by Mr. Labouchere, and much enlarged by Mr. Cardwell in
1853-54, and it kept on constantly growing for years, till it became the largest department in the Board of Trade.
" I was originally assistant secretary to this department, and in that capacity had much to do with Captain Sulivan, as he then was. We were generally in accord, but often also at variance. I was a civilian, and took the civilian's less arbitrary view, whilst he would naturally take the more decided and thorough-going view of the naval officer. But he was essentially a good man to differ from as well as to agree with. Impetuous, keen, and sometimes hasty, he never bore malice, and was one of the most generous of men. We would have a great fight in the morning, when he would denounce my views as fatal, absurd, etc., etc., and in the afternoon we were always as good friends as ever. I remember one curious instance of the instinct of the naval officer, coupled with the frankness and non-egotistic generosity of the man. There was a question going on in the office whether I was to have the title of secretary or assistant secretary. I did not care about it, but was surprised to find Captain Sulivan taking the warmest part in advocating the cause of the higher title for me. I expressed my gratitude to him, saying I did not care about it. ' Oh,' he said, ' you have nothing to be grateful for. We often differ, and your advice is sometimes taken. Now 1 don't like being overruled by an assistant secretary, but I don't mind being overruled by a secretary.'
" He was one of the quickest men in seeing a point I ever came across ; his apergu of a situation was a sort of inspiration ; but no reasoning moved him if he did not see the thing at once. He was essentially a man of action— avTocrxeBid^eiv ra Biovra, as Thucydides said of Themistocles : ' To see intuitively what the moment requires.' I never saw him in command, but he was a man whom beyond all others I have known I would have followed in
a row. The excitement seemed to sharpen his wits and his perception: he made me understand the sort of stuff our Nelsons, and Napiers, and Outrams are made of. I have no doubt his courage was equal to his perception. I always understood that whatever was done in the Baltic was his doing, and I feel sure that whether it was winds, waves and shoals, or men and guns, that were to be contended with, Sulivan would have been at his best when danger was greatest.
"His relations to his old chief, Admiral FitzRoy, were interesting. When he came to the Board of Trade, FitzRoy was at the head of the Meteorological Office, and it was the duty of the officer in the place to which Sulivan was appointed to superintend FitzRoy's doings. But Sulivan made it the condition of his appointment that he should not be obliged to direct FitzRoy—a sagacious condition, considering the previous relations and the individual characters and tempers of these two distinguished men. Sulivan's respect and admiration for FitzRoy as an unrivalled sailor and a devoted public servant were unlimited; and when FitzRoy died, after having spent a fortune in the public service, Sulivan moved heaven and earth to get his services acknowledged, and, I believe, with success.
"I used to hear much of the voyage of the Beagle from Charles Darwin, whose niece I married, and whose son has married my daughter. He and the other partners in that historical cruise had an infinite respect for FitzRoy, whose abilities as a seaman, whose courage as a man, and whose self-sacrifice as a public servant, won the esteem and admiration, if they did not command the affection, of all who served under him. From all I heard, all the officers and men loved Sulivan; certainly Charles Darwin did. There must have been something very good and strong about those men to keep them together for so many
years, cooped up in that small uncomfortable vessel, doing first-rate work with very inadequate means.
"'One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Not strong, in circumstance, but strong in will,
To seek, to find, to strive, and not to yield.'
" It was a very interesting thing to get Sulivan to relate his experience of the French. He had acted with them in the Plata and in the Baltic. He used to begin by praising their maritime inscription and bewailing the weakness of England at sea, which he used to say could never compete with the French till we trained our merchant seamen to arms ; and then he would begin and tell stories, all showing how far inferior the French were to the English in all qualities of cool fighting, either with elements or with men. I remember two or three of them.
" He was engaged, when in command of an English ship, in carrying on hostilities in the Plata, and had a French ship for consort. He told with glee how the French captain, when they anchored for the night in a tide-way, used to get him to anchor the French ship as well as his own. Here they had to engage some hostile batteries, one on the water-level, which the Frenchman took in hand, the other on a height, which fell to Sulivan's ship. The Frenchman silenced their battery by hard and close firing, and then the French captain came on board Sulivan's ship. He found the English sailors under fire, and suffering from it, but pitching their shells as coolly and accurately so as to fall into the elevated battery as if they were on parade. The French captain was much struck, and said to Sulivan, ' I could get my fellows to march straight into the jaws of hell, but nothing could make them shoot coolly under fire as yours do.'
" Another story he used to tell was of the attack on some
of the fortifications in the Baltic. Sulivan had surveyed the ground, and was ready to lead ; but the English and French admirals agreed that the leading must be done by both nations, and they asked Sulivan to choose a French colleague ; he chose one of whom he thought well. ' But,' said he, ' the first thing the Frenchman did was to put his ship aground.'
" Another story was of the attack on Bomarsund, which was made by English and French artillery. Each nation took one fort—the French one that was comparatively near, the English one farther off and less accessible. Sulivan was able to get on to a hill between the batteries and the forts, and watch operations. The Frenchmen opened fire and silenced the enemy and took the fort, which was not damaged, but marked all over with shot as with pock-marks; the English artillerymen directed their fire at one embrasure, and for a while made slow progress, whilst they were falling themselves under the Russian fire (?). Sulivan went down to the English artillery officer, and urged him to try to silence the Russian guns ; his reply was, ' I'm d—d if my men shall do anything else till they have knocked down the embrasure.' They did knock it down, made a practicable breach, and the English soldiers marched up it into the fort.
" The generosity of Sulivan's temper was well shown on his retirement from the Board of Trade, when they gave him a special pension. Few men I have known have been contented with such things; Sulivan was not only satisfied, but expressed himself to me as very grateful for what the Government had done for him.
" I have jotted down what occurs to me. I only wish I could do more. It has been my fate, though non-military in all my feelings and prejudices, to be brought in contact with a good many soldiers and sailors. They have been
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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)
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