Launch of HMS Beagle the ship that took young Charles Darwin on his scientific voyage. And launched Fundamentalist Christians into a tizzy.

The Beagle’s Captain FitzRoy had found a need for expert advice on geology during the first voyage, and had resolved that if on a similar expedition, he would “endeavour to carry out a person qualified to examine the land; while the officers, and myself, would attend to hydrography.”

Command in that era could involve stress and loneliness, as shown by the suicide of FitzRoy’s own uncle Viscount Castlereagh under stress of overwork. His attempts to get a friend to accompany him fell through, and he asked his friend and superior, Captain Francis Beaufort, to seek a gentleman naturalist as a self-financing passenger who would give him company during the voyage.

A sequence of inquiries led to Charles Darwin, a young gentleman on his way to becoming a rural clergyman, joining the voyage. Fitzroy was influenced by the physiognomy of Lavater, and Darwin recounted in his autobiography that he was nearly “rejected, on account of the shape of my nose! He was an ardent disciple of Lavater, & was convinced that he could judge a man’s character by the outline of his features; & he doubted whether anyone with my nose could possess sufficient energy & determination for the voyage.”