Darwin's Sea Change In the mid 1830's, The British ship the Beagle set out to survey the shores of Chile, Peru and other islands in the Pacific; and to carry a chain of chronometrical measurements around the world. The ship's captain was Captain Fitzroy. The young, religious captain was set out for five long years to run the Beagle's crew. Unfortunately, the role of captain did not allow any social contact with the other ship's crew mates other than work. This meant that Fitzroy had to dine alone, and would only talk to the other officers about the ship's business. The 26 year old captain also knew how bad it was for your mental health to be aboard a ship for five whole years with practically nobody to talk to [(especially with such a bad history of mental health in his family.) (Several years earlier, Fitzroy's uncle had killed himself.)]
However, the navy did not like the Captain's to bring their wives, family, or friends along. Therefore Captain Fitzroy ended up finding another aristocratic nobleman to bring along the journey, to be the ship's "natural historian", or more importantly someone to keep him company.
It turned out that Charles Darwin was asked to join, and he accepted. He barely knew the captain but said "yes" anyhow. Darwin only lasted a year or so as the "natural historian", before he took over Robert McKormick's job. McKormick was the ship's naturalist, and did not get along with Darwin at all. When Darwin did take over (which did not take long), McKormick actually left the ship and went back to Britain. Even before Darwin became the naturalist, he did more then just eat dinner with the captain to keep him sane. He would collect specimens in the foreign lands, and do his experiments.
When he became the naturalist though, Darwin gained the right to do more than what the captain wanted him to. This led to many fights between the two. The captain actually made him leave their dinner one time over a simple disagreement on slavery. It is believed now that the only reason that the two even talked was for Fitzroy's sake.
This was not the only change in Darwin though. It did not just effect the friendship between him and Fitzroy. Darwin began to do more research and experiments. It is also believed that Darwin's five years at sea could have turned him into the great scientist that he was. There is also the belief that Fitzroy was the cause of Darwin's change. For five long years Darwin would listen to the boastful captain. In many of the conversations that the two had, Darwin would not agree with him. However it was against his role to speak against the captain's word. The British captain had complete control, and it would not have been wise for Darwin to speak against his beliefs. Therefore Darwin would just keep his thoughts to himself.
Whatever happened aboard the Beagle, Darwin returned home a different man. Not even one year after his arrival home, and Darwin was writing about the transmutations of species. The five year long journey turned out to be a very important learning experience for Darwin, who is now considered the greasiest scientist of his time. Fitzroy, did not end up as lucky as Darwin though. It was only a few years after the return from his voyage, that he ended up slitting his own throat.