Posted by: Rob Viens | April 12, 2012

Cinnamon and Port Wine

Good news!  On the morning of April 12th Darwin seemed to find himself a cure for what ailed him. He writes:

“The next morning, I nearly cured myself by eating cinnamon & drinking port wine” (Apr 12)

I have to remember that and put it in my Darwin medical advice book, right next to “eat raisins for sea sickness”. Next time I’m not feeling well, I’m gonna reach for the port wine.  Hmm, I think I might be feeling a little under the weather right now…

Seriously though, Darwin’s illness could have been a lot worse.  And even though it might not have been lethal, it would have been very uncomfortable to have to travel though the sun and rain feeling so terrible. He really did get lucky.

By the end of the day the traveling party made it to the destination of 2 of its members. If you remember from a few days ago:

“Mr Lawries brother married a handsome Brazilian lady, daughter of a large landed proprietor, also on the Macaè, & this person Mr Lawrie was going visit.” (Apr 8)

Well, by the end of the day today, Darwin arrived “at Socêgo, the house of Signor Figuireda, the elder Mr Lawrie’s father in law”. More on Signor Figuireda and his estate tomorrow.

Macaé excursion – April 12-19

Map of Darwin's Expedition – April 12. 1832

One additional thought to wrap up a short entry today.  Throughout the short expedition Darwin has been acutely aware of the temperature.  (Which brings up an interesting thought – through all the riding and canoeing and walking, Darwin must have carried his thermometer with him. His dedication to being a good naturalist is exceptional!) Some examples:

“Temp. in white sand 104° in shade” followed later in the day by ” Temp. of room 80°” (Apr 8, footnotes)

“As the sun rose, the day became very hot, & the reflection of the light & heat from the white sand was very distressing. The thermometer in my pocket stood at 96°. — Dined at Mandetiba: therm. in shade 84°.” (Apr 9)

“It was a very pleasant cool evening. Thermom. on the turf 74°” (Apr 10)

I’m not sure if it was just part of Darwin’s nature to observe and make records (which he did wonderfully) but he really did like to write about the weather. About the time he arrived in Rio he wrote his sister and included the following observations:

“The mean temperature of Bahia was 80; being more accustomed to heat I suffered less from it there than at Praya, where mean temp was 73°.— The great difference of climate in the Tropics & colder zones consists in the higher temp: of the nights.— A mean of 84° for the whole year (at Guyara in Columbia) is the hottest place in the world.— so certainly I have experienced a very considerable degree.— To me it is most enjoyable: I had expected to wish for the cold thawing days, which you have lately been shivering under: no give me the regions of Palms & Oranges & away with frost & snow.— It requires a little additional energy to set about anything, & a good deal more to resist a siesta after dinner: When having so indulged one wakes bathed in perspiration, but with the skin as cool as a young child.” (Correspondence, to Caroline Darwin, written on April 2, 1832)

Sounds like somebody is liking the warm climates… So what is it like in Brazil today, at least in Rio de Janeiro?  Take a look via Weather Underground’s banner below:

Find more about Weather in Rio De Janeiro, BZ
Click for weather forecast

A big thanks to Lisa and our friends at the HMS Beagle Project ( ) for cross-listing our post today.  (RJV)


  1. Loving the mix of Darwin’s more formal writing style and our modern online informal chattiness. Inspired am I to utilize more varied vocabulary in my electronic missives henceforth. Yours, LHN

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