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Andrés Bello y la Visita de Charles Darwin a Chile


The famous English naturalist Charles Darwin spent a substantial part of his voyage round the world (1831-1836) in Chile. His experiences and extensive observations made during his trip on the brig HMS Beagle were fundamental for the ideas that Darwin subsequently developed about the evolution of the species. Perhaps the most influential personality within the Chilean intellectual environment at the time was the great Venezuelan scholar Andrés Bello, who had moved to Santiago a few years earlier. Bello followed with great attention the contemporary scientific progress and in 1839-40 he published, in the newspaper El Araucano, extracts from the book in which Darwin and Fitz-Roy narrated their recent voyage. Bello became interested in Darwin's description of Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia, in which he refers to their inhabitants, fauna, flora, and geology. In addition, Bello also focused on Darwin's description of the violent earthquake in Concepción in the year 1835, the effects of which Darwin personally witnessed. The impact of these articles in the Chilean political and intellectual circles and Bello's perception of their importance may have influenced the subsequent settlement of the first Chilean military base in the Strait of Magellan. Finally, we speculate on the possibility of both great men ever meeting in Santiago.