From Charles Darwin's Journal,
Rio de Janeiro
May-June,1832 (pp. 36-37).
On another occasion
I started early and walked to the Gavia, or topsail mountain. The air was
delightfully cool and fragrant; and the drops of dew still glittered on
the leaves of the large liliaceous plants, which shaded the streamlets
of clear water. Sitting down on a block of granite, it was delightful to
watch the various insects and birds as they flew past. The humming-birds
seem particularly fond of such shady retired spots. Whenever I saw theses
little creatures buzzing round a flower, with their wings vibrating so
rapidly as to be scarcely visible, I was reminded of the sphinx moths:
their movements and habits are indeed, in many respects, very similar.
Following a pathway
I entered a noble forest, and from a height of five or six hundred feet,
one of those splendid views was presented, which as so common on every
side of Rio. At this elevation the landscape has attained its most brilliant
tint; and every form, every shade, so completely surpassed in magnificence
all that a the European has ever beheld in his own country, that he knows
not how to express his feelings. The general effect frequently recalled
to my mind the gayest scenery of the Opera-house or the great theatres.
I never returned from these excursions empty-handed. This day I found
a specimen of a curious fungus, called Hymenophallus. Most people know
the English Phallus, which in autumn taints the air with its odious smell:
this, however, as the entomologist is aware, is to some of our beetles
a delightful fragrance. So was it here; for a Strongylus, attracted by
the odour, alighted on the fungus as I carried it in my hand. We
here see in two distant countries a similar relation between plants and
insects of the same families, though the species of both are different.
When man is the agent in introducing into a country a new species, this
relation is often broken: as one instance of this I may mention, that the
leaves of the cabbages and lettuces, which in England afford food to such
a multitude of slugs and caterpillars, in the gardens near Rio are untouched.