The Hand of Darwin: Beagle Diary - Milton on the Atlantic

The Hand of Darwin: Beagle Diary - Milton on the Atlantic

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Beagle Diary: Milton on the Atlantic

Elevation of Coral Reef Island

Hand-drawn and water-color sketch by Charles Darwin, exact date unknown.

(Reprinted with permission of Syndics of Cambridge University Library, DAR 44:24)

» listen (mp3, 2:14) to David Kohn provide a broader context to this passage and why Darwin wrote it

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From Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary:

Monte Hermosa
October 24, 1832

The night was pitch dark, with a fresh breeze.— The sea from its extreme luminousness presented a wonderful & most beautiful appearance; every part of the water, which by day is seen as foam, glowed with a pale light. The vessel drove before her bows two billows of liquid phosphorus, & in her wake was a milky train.— As far as the eye reached, the crest of every wave was bright; & from the reflected light, the sky just above the horizon was not so utterly dark as the rest of the Heavens.— It was impossible to behold this plain of matter, as it were melted & consuming by heat, without being reminded of Miltons description of the regions of Chaos & Anarchy.—

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has co-authored several books about Charles Darwin, including Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist. He's been researching and teaching Darwin for more than 30 years in Cambridge, England.

is Oxnam Professor Emeritus of Science and Society at Drew University and editor of the Darwin Digital Library of Evolution at the American Museum of Natural History Library.

is a geneticist at Virginia Commonwealth University and an Anglican priest.