quinta-feira, 12 de fevereiro de 2009

Darwin 200 anos

“No futuro distante, vejo campos abertos para pesquisas muito mais importantes... Uma nova luz será lançada sobre a origem do homem e da sua história.”
Charles Darwin, em A Origem das Espécies, 1859

A viagem do Beagle
A viagem do Beagle durou quatro anos e nove meses, dois terços dos quais Darwin esteve em terra firme.Estudou uma rica variedade de características geológicas, fósseis, organismos vivos acabando por fazer muitos conhecimentos com povos distintos. Darwin recolheu metódicamente um enorme número de espécimes, muitos dos quais novos para a ciência. Com esta recolha estabeleceu a sua reputação como um naturalista e fez dele um dos precursores do campo da Ecologia, particularmente a noção de Biocenose.As suas anotações detalhadas formaram a base para os seus trabalhos posteriores, ao mesmo tempo que forneceram visões sociais, políticas e antropológicas sobre as regiões que visitou.

Diário a bordo do Beagle (exertos)

St. Jago. C. de Verd's
August 17th
sea-sickness. — But it is on the road to England; in truth some such comfort is necessary to support the tedious misery of loss of time, health & comfort. —
We crossed the Equator. —
31st to Septr 4th
After a most excellent passage, we came to an anchor early in the morning at Porto Praya. We found lying there, as commonly is the case, several some Slaving vessels. The weather, during our short stay of four days was very fine, but as this was the beginning of the unhealthy season, I confined my walks to short distances.
I have nothing to say about the place; as some rain had fallen, a most faint tinge of green was just distinguishable. Our old friend the great Baobab tree was clothed with a thick green foilage, which much altered its appearance. As might be expected, I was not so much delighted with St Jago, as during our former visit; but even this time I found much in its Natural History very interesting. It would indeed be strange if the first view of desert volcanic plains, (a kind of country so utterly different from anything in England) and the first sensations on entering an ardent climate, did not was excite the most vivid impressions in the mind of every one, who takes pleasure in beholding the face of nature.
We were all very glad in the evening of the 4th to wish farewell to the irregular mountains of St Jago, as they disappeared in the
[page] 759

St Jago to. Azores
[In the margin there is an encircled number, 30 once]
Sept. 4th
evening shades. I confess, I feel some good will to the Island; [2 words deleted] I should be ungrateful if it was otherwise; for I shall never forget the delight of first standing in a certain lava cave cavern & looking at the swell of the Atlantic lashing the rugged shores. —
Crossed the Tropic of Cancer.
In the morning we were off the East end of the Island of Terceira, and a little after noon reached the town of Angra. The island is moderately high with lofty & has a rounded outline and with detached conical hills of an evidently of volcanic nature origin. The land is well cultivated, & is divided into a multitude of rectangular fields by stone walls, extending from the water's edge to high up on the central hills. There are few or no trees, & the yellow stubble land at this time of year gives are a burnt up and unpleasant character to the scenery. Small hamlets & single whitewashed houses lie are scattered in all parts. In the evening a party went on shore; — to the town or rather city of Angra, the capital of the neighbouring islands. We found it the city a very clean & tidy little town place, containing about 10,000 inhabitants, which includes about nearly the fourth part of the total number for on the island. There are no good shops, & little signs of activity, excepting the intolerable creaking of an occasional bullock waggon. The churches are very respectable, & there were formerly a good many convents: But but Dom Pedro broke up destroyed several
[page] 760
Terceira — Azores —
Septr 20th
of them; he levelled three nunneries to the ground, & gave permission to the nuns to marry, which, excepting by some of the very old ones, was gladly received. — Angra was formerly the capital of the whole archipelago, but it has now only one division of the islands under its government, and its glory has departed. The city is defended by a strong castle & line of batteries which encircle the base of Mount Brazil, an extinct volcano with sloping sides, which overlooks the town. — Terceira was the first place that received Dom Pedro, & from this beginning he conquered the other islands & finally Portugal. A loan was scraped together in this one island of no less than 400,000 dollars, of which sum not one farthing has ever been paid to these first supporters of the present right Royal royal & honourable family.
The next day the Consul kindly lent me his horse & furnished me with guides to proceed to a spot, in the centre of the island, which was described as an active crater. — Ascending in deep lanes, bordered on each side by high stone walls, for the three first miles, there were we passed many houses and gardens. We then entered on a very irregular plain country, consisting of more recent streams of hummocky basaltic lava. The rocks are covered in some parts by a thick brushwood about three feet high, and
[page] 761
Sept. 21
in others by heath, fern, & short pasture: a few broken down old stone walls completed the resemblance with the mountains of Wales. I saw, moreover, some old English friends amongst the insects, and of birds, the starling, water wagtail, chaffinch and blackbird. There are no houses in this elevated and central part, and the ground is only used for the pasture of cattle and goats. On every side, besides the ridges of more ancient lavas, there were cones of various dimensions, which yet partly retained their crater-formed summits, and where broken down showed a pile of cinders such as those from an iron foundry. — When we reached the so called crater, I found it a slight depression, or rather a short valley abutting against a higher range, and without any exit. The bottom was traversed by several large fissures, out of which, in nearly a dozen places, small jets of steam issued, as from the cracks in the boiler of a steam engine. The steam close to the irregular orifices, is far too hot for the hand to endure it; — There is it has but little smell, yet from everything made of iron being blackened, and from a peculiar rough sensation communicated to the skin, the vapour cannot be pure, and I imagine it contains some muriatic acid gas. — The effect on the surrounding trachytic lavas is singular, the solid stone being entirely converted either into
[page] 762
Septr 21
the most pure, snow white, porcelain clay, or into a kind of the most brightest red or the two colours marbled together: the steam issued through the moist and hot clay. This phenomenon has thus gone on for many years; it is said that flames once issued from the cracks. During rain, the water from each bank, must flow into these cracks; & it is probable that this same water, [1 word deleted] trickling down to the neighbourhead neighbourhood of some heated subterranean lava, [1 word deleted] causes this phenomenon. — Throughout the island, the powers below have been unusually active during the last year; shaken off some of their lethargys, their movements have caused a succession several small earthquakes have been caused, and during a few days a jet of steam issued from a bold precipice overhanging the sea, not far from the town of Angra.
I enjoyed my day's ride, though I did not see much worth seeing: it was pleasant to meet such a number of fine peasantry; I do not recollect ever having beheld a set of handsomer young men, with more good humoured pleasant expressions. A surprising number of the boys had white or lightly coloured hair, which from its strangeness to our eyes made it the more pleasing. The men and boys are all dressed in a plain jacket & trowsers, without shoes or stockings; their heads are barely covered by a little blue cloth cap with two ears and a border of red; this
[page] 763
Septr 21
they lift in the most courteous manner to each passing stranger. Their clothes although very ragged, & their persons appeared singularly clean, as well as their persons; I am told, that in almost every cottage, a visitor will sleep in snow white sheets & will dine off a clean napkin. Each man carries in his hand a walking staff about six feet high; by fixing a large knife at each extremity, they can make this into a formidable weapon. — Their ruddy complexions, bright eyes & erect gait, made them a picture of a fine peasantry: How how different from the Portugeese of Brazil! — The greater number, which we this day met, were employed in the mountains gathering sticks for fire-wood. — A whole family, from the father to the least boy, might be seen, each carrying his bundle on his head to sell in the town. Their burthens were very heavy; this hard labour & the ragged state of their clothes too plainly bespoke poverty, yet I am told, it is not the want of food, but of all luxuries, a case parallel to that we described of Chiloe. — Hence, although the whole land is not cultivated, at the present time numbers emigrate to Brazil, where the contract to which they are bound, differs but little from slavery. It seems a great pity that so fine a population should be compelled [to] leave a land of plenty, where every article of food, meat, vegetables & fruit, — is exceedingly cheap & are most abundant, &
[page] 764 [page is numbered 764 and 765]
Septr 21st
cheap; but the labourer finds his labour of proportionally little value. —
I staid the greater part of the day on board.
Another day I set out early in the morning to visit the town of Praya seated on the NE end of the island. — The distance is about fifteen miles; the road ran the greater part of the way not far from the coast. The country is all cultivated & scattered with houses & small villages. I noticed in several places, from the long traffic of the bullock waggons, that the solid lava, which formed in parts the road, was worn into ruts of the depth of twelve inches. This circumstance has been noticed with surprise, in the ancient pavement of Pompeii, of as not occurring in any of the present towns of Italy. At this place the wheels have a tire surmounted with by singularly large & projecting iron knobs, perhaps the old Roman wheels were so thus furnished. The country during our morning's ride, was not interesting, excepting always the pleasant sight of a happy peasantry. The harvest was lately over, & near to the houses the fine yellow heads of Indian corn, were bound, for the sake of drying, in large bundles to the stems of the poplar trees. These seen from a distance, appeared weighed down by some beautiful fruit, — the very emblem of fertility. — One part of the road crossed the a broad stream of lava, which from its
[page] 766
Sept 23rd
rocky & black surface, showed itself to be of comparatively recent origin; indeed the crater whence it had flowed could be distinguished. The industrious inhabitants, have turned this space into vineyards, but for this purpose it was necessary to collect clear away the loose fragments & pile them into a multitude of walls, which enclosed little patches of ground a few yards square; thus covering the country with a network of black lines. —
The town of Praya is a quiet forlorn little village place; Many years since a large city was here overwhelmed by an earthquake. It is asserted the land subsided, and a wall of a convent now bathed by the sea is shown as a proof: the fact is probable, but the proof not convincing. I returned home by another road, which first leads along the Northern shore, & then crosses the central part of the Island. — This North Eastern extremity is particularly well cultivated, & produces a large quantity of fine wheat. The square, open fields, & small villages with white washed churches, gave to the view as seen from the heights, an aspect resembling the less picturesque parts of central England. — We soon reached the region of clouds, which during our whole visit have hung very low & concealed the tops of the mountains. For a couple of hours we crossed the elevated central part, which is not inhabited & bears a desolate
[page] 767
Terceira & St Michael's.
[In the margin there is an encircled number, 30 once]
Sept 23rd
appearance. When we descended from the clouds to the city, I heard the good news that observations had been obtained, & that we should go to sea the same evening. The anchorage is exposed to the whole swell of the Southern ocean, & hence during the present boisterous time of year is very disagreeable & far from safe. —
In the morning, we were off the Western end of St Michaels; to the capital of which we were bound in quest of letters. A contrary wind detained us the whole day,
but by the following morning, we were off the city, & a boat was sent on shore. — The Isld of St Michaels is considerably larger & three times more populous & enjoys a more extensive trade than Terceira. — The chief export is the fruit, for which a fleet of vessels annually arrives. Although several hundred vessels are loaded with oranges, these trees on neither island appear in any great numbers. No one would guess that this was the great market for the numberless oranges imported into England. St Michaels has much the same open, semi-green, cultivated patchwork appearance as Terceira. The town is more scattered; the houses & churches there & throughout the country are white washed & look from a distance neat and pretty. The land behind the
[page] 768
St Michaels
[In the margin there is an encircled number, 31 once]
Sept. 25th
town is less elevated than at Terceira, but yet rises considerably; it is thickly studded or rather made up of small mammiformed hills, each of which has sometime been an active Volcano. — In an hours time the boat returned without any letters, and then getting a good offing from the land, we steered, thanks to God, a direct course for England. —
Our voyage having nearly come to an end, I will take a short retrospect of the advantages and disadvantages the pain & pleasure of our five years' wandering. If a person should ask my advice before undertaking a long voyage, my answer would depend upon his possessing a decided taste for some branch of knowledge, which could by such means be acquired. No doubt it is a high satisfaction to behold various countries, and the many races of Mankind, but the pleasures gained at the time do not counterbalance the evils. It is necessary to look forward to a harvest, however distant it may be, when some fruit will be reaped, some good effected. Many of the losses which must be experienced are obvious, such that as that of the society of all old friends, and of the sight of those places with which every dearest remembrance is so intimately connected. These losses however, are at the time

2 comentários:

Anónimo disse...

Muito obrigada por reproduzi-la no seu blogue, em homenagem ao bicentenário do grandíssimo cientista Charles Darwin -- fascinante!

josé neves disse...

parabéns ao senhor Bénard da Costa.