RECORD: Darwin, C. R. [1831]. [Notes on preserving Beagle specimens]. CUL-DAR29.3.78. Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker and edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker, corrections by Gordon Chancellor, edited by John van Wyhe 8.2009. RN3

NOTE: See record in the Darwin Online manuscript catalogue, enter its Identifier here. Reproduced with the permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin.


Before packing up skins rub the box inside with turpentine. putting tobacco camphor &c with it. — Leadbeater1

at Zool: put turpentine in tow2 & lap it in paper

Lap seeds in the capsule in brown paper. dry but not hot. Henslow3

Jars. first half putrid bladder. then 2 coverings of Lead or Tin foil. not large enough to be tied down. then bladder again. then varnish. Yarrell4

not to keep Crustacea with other things owing to the black tinge they give to the spirits. —

Cloride of Lime a pound to Gallon or 2 oz to Pint of Water

1 Probably Benjamin Leadbeater (1760-1837), bird dealer and taxidermist at 19 Brewer Street, Golden Square West, London.

2 Tow = coarse broken flax or hemp fiber.

3 John Stevens Henslow (1796-1861), Cambridge clergyman, mineralogist and professor of botany since 1825. He became Darwin's scientific mentor when at Cambridge and received and preserved Darwin's Beagle specimens during the voyage.

4 William Yarrell (1784-1856), London stationer and naturalist.


Brine that is used for the meal on shipboard will do for preparations & tin cases for holding them

Cap King1 used arsenical soap & preserving powder

Tie up the wings of large birds with string

Directions for Parcels

Lieutenant Beauchant

Agency office Falmouth Agents in London Mrs Palgrave & Son. No. 3 Lyons Inn. Strand

Humming birds from Juan Fernandez & every thing especially from Gallipago. Mr Stokes.2

A shell like Patella from St Magellan. Cap King

Species of Fungias. ascertain from fleshy parts; & propagation: found in shallow water. Mr Stokes. —

Dr Grant generally use 1/2 spirits & 1/2 water. but that Crustacea ought to have proof spirits. & the Branchia well emptied of water. & an incision made into membranous parts of Abdomen Dr Grant3

1 Phillip Parker King (1793-1856), commander of the Adventure, accompanying the Beagle, on the first surveying expedition to South America, 1826-30, and author of Narrative 1.

2 John Lort Stokes (1812-85), naval officer and mate and Assistant Surveyor aboard the Beagle with Darwin.

3 Robert Edmond Grant (1793-1874), Scottish physician, marine zoologist and Darwin's mentor in Edinburgh. Professor of comparative anatomy and zoology, University College, London, 1827-1874.


To prepare the bones. Hang the animal at stern of the vessel. Dr Grant

In zoophite kill them by gradual additions of fresh water. so that Polypi hang out.—

Actinia1 by pouring boiling water in their interior. Grant

Mr Forbes2 barometrical observations were taken 8 & 10 AM; 4, 8 & 10 PM. —

The univalve spiral shells break with pincers the anterior part so that the spirits may have free access to all parts. — Dr Grant

Small shells to be packed in pill boxes in Bran. Sawdust or sand. — L Jenyns

A mixture of Resin & wax for holding objects under water for dissection. in saucers or large glasses like Watches.

Dissolve common gum in strong vinegar. add Alum to common paste

Cap. King always observed Barometer at 9 A.M. 12. 3. 6. 9 and 9 AM. 3 PM. praecipit.

1 Sea-anemone.

2 James David Forbes (1809-1868), natural philosopher, meteorologist and Professor of natural philosophy, Edinburgh University, 1833-1860.


Pack Coleoptera in cotton in layers. Hope1

Collect 2 species of parasites growing on the Beech trees in Terra del Fuego & wood where they grow. —2

Bring home odd looking flowers: Orchidia e.g.

Collect. Calicera herbacea.3 Magallana porifolia. the latter at Port Desire. flower (3 last Browne

3 oz black pepper. 3 do Shag Tobacco. 6 do Burned Alum. 1/2 oz corrosive sublimate. —

Ascertain the height of Snow line near Conception: Pentland.4

Chas. Hughes.5 Mrs. Badger; Bread

1 Frederick William Hope (1797-1862), entomologist, clergyman and friend of Darwin's.

2 See Darwin 1845.

3 A native Chilean plant growing at high altitudes.

4 Joseph Barclay Pentland (1797-1873), Irish palaeontologist, zoologist, traveller and diplomat. Surveyed a large part of the Bolivian Andes with Woodbine Parish, 1826-7.

5 Charles Hughes, a school fellow of Darwins, attended Shrewsbury School, 1818-19 and resident in Buenos Ayres, 1832-3.

This document has been accessed 9919 times

Return to homepage

Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

File last updated 25 September, 2022