Notwithstanding the author's excessive—and often tedious—cataloging of Latin names for almost everything within his sight, the rest of his account may be worthwhile reading for those interested in 19th century exploration of the area.
These pages are not yet complete -- need more editing, insertion of illustrations, etc.
|Information about the text|
|TABLE OF CONTENTS|
|I||Departure from England|
|II||Voyage to Rio (1st)|
|V||Seam of Coal, Sandy Point|
|VII||Voyage to Rio (2nd)|
|VIII||Leave Rio for the Strait|
|IX||Excursion to Gallegos River|
|X||Leave Sandy Point for the Westward|
|XI||Leave San Carlos|
|XV||Rio de Janeiro|
The season being now sufficiently far advanced to permit of our return to the scene of our labours, the “Nassau” left the bay of Rio Janeiro on the morning of the 14th of October, to begin her southerly voyage. It was a most brilliant sunny day, and as we slowly left the narrow entrance of the harbour behind us, the view of the Sugar-loaf, Gavia, and other well-known heights, lying in mingled sunshine and shadow, with the blue cloudless sky overhead, and the white surf breaking at their feet, was singularly fine. We soon encountered a rather heavy swell, the result of rough weather on the two preceding days, but proceeded quietly onward under steam and sail, nothing specially worthy of record taking place. The following morning the screw was got up, and for the next two days we proceeded prosperously under sail, maintaining a rate of from six to eight knots, until noon on the 17th, when the wmd forsook us, and we had again recourse to steam. The afternoon of that day was beautiful, but next morning it was blowing hard, and by the afternoon a regular pampero had set in, against which we struggled painfully. The night that succeeded is vividly impressed on my memory, by the extent of its discomfort—a large earthenware jar containing a lizard (Teguexin), in methylated spirits, breaking in my cabin, so that I was almost suffocated, from the impossibility of keeping my windows wide open, as the water was coming over the bulwarks in sheets; and (to add to the discomforts of the situation) a shower of books, not sufficiently jammed up, descending on the top of me as I lay in bed. The gale continued during most of the 19th, but gradually died down towards the evening, and on the 20th we had again delightful sunny weather, with a favourable breeze, which allowed sail to be made in the morning. On the forenoon of the 21st, we passed Maldonado, gaining a transitory view of the “Narcissus,” which had preceded us from Rio some days previously. The afternoon and evening were very fine, so that, as we steamed up the Plate, we had an excellent view of the coast, which again recalled that of Holland, in many of its features. As was the case on the preceding year, great quantities of cobweb appeared on the rigging of the ship, accompanied with a considerable number of the architects. We anchored well up the harbour of Monte Video, soon after six P.M., shifting billet next morning to a more roomy berth. That day I landed shortly before noon, and after strolling through the Cathedral Square and the market beyond, without observing anything worthy of remark, pursued my way along a long straight street, planted with trees on either side, and distinguished at one extremity by a tall column, bearing on its summit a statue of Liberty, with a sword and banner, the latter of which, hanging in folds, presented in the distance a striking resemblance to a Gampish nmbrella. After a time I descended to the sea-coast, passing a tract of country on the suburbs of the town, principally distinguished for its sterility of aspect, and the evil smells arising from the dead carcasses of horses, cows, dogs, goats, and fowls, lying about in every direction, with large black pigs prowling about them. Once arrived at the beach, I found that the same destitution of animal life, remarked at the time of my last visit, prevailed, the only living creature to be met with being the small crab observed on the previous occasion. On the rocks, above high-water mark, many plants of a species of Echinocadus, were growing, looking at first sight like sea-urchins left by the tide; and on some grassy downs sloping towards the sea, with large masses of gray rock cropping out of the turf here and there, I found a number of other plants, including the white Petunia seen the year before, various yellow and white Compositæ, a beautiful rose-coloured Oxalis, a small passion-flower, a diminutive Cereus, a Gnaphalium, a purple Lathyrus, and a variety of grasses. A few large gulls were assembled on the beach, and a few specimens of a bird resembling a thrush were hopping about on the green sward.
On the 23d I accompanied Captain Mayne on a visit of a few days to Buenos Ayres, the capital of the Argentine Republic, about ninety miles up the river from Monte Video. As the scenery of the Plate presents but little of interest for the traveller, we determined on making our passage by night, and accordingly, between five and six P.M., went on board the “Rio Uruguay,” a Clyde-built steamer, which shortly after started. Dinner took place about an hour later, and we then found that there were very few English people among our fellow-passengers, and that these were disposed to give us a wide berth. Next morning we arrived at Buenos Ayres about four o'clock, anchoring in the inner roadstead; and about three hours later we left the vessel (which, on account of the shallowness of the river, owing to the extensive mud-banks, was obliged to lie at some distance from the town), in a great awkward flat-bottomed boat, which was sculled to the end of a long pier. We were rather dismayed at first at the amount of the fare demanded for our transport, forty dollars being the required sum, but were reassured by the information that, although the Monte Videan paper dollar was valued at about four shillings, that of Buenos Ayres was only worth twopence at the present time, owing to the excessive depreciation of the paper currency. After a cursory inspection of our portmanteaus by the custom-house officers, we walked to the “Universelle Maison,” a very good lodging-house in the Calle San Martin, where we took rooms, afterwards proceeding under the guidance of an Englishman to the Strangers' Club in the same street, where we were duly introduced, and soon after had breakfast. This accomplished, we set forth on a tour of inspection, visiting a variety of places, including the office of the well-known Buenos Ayrean Standard and the Museum, which, on account of its fine collection of the extinct tertiary Mammals of South America, I was very anxious to see. There I had the pleasure of meeting the distinguished director. Dr. Burmeister, with whom I had much interesting conversation, and who was good enough to show me some of the more interesting specimens in the Museum, including magnificent examples of the Mylodon, Toxodon, Glyptodon, etc., far surpassing any in the collections in England. On a second visit which I paid to the Museum on the following day, he exhibited to me various other objects of interest, such as the rare Chlamyphorus retusus from Bolivia, together with the fine collection of Armadillos, which includes, among other rarities, a full-grown monstrous specimen of one species, with six legs.
Of the general arrangement of the Museum the following outline, borrowed from a description of it, furnished by Dr. Burmeister to the pages of a German periodical, may suffice. It consists of a suite of seven rooms, situated in the upper storey of an edifice, to which a staircase of thirty-two steps conducts the visitor. Of these apartments the first is devoted to the greater portion of the ornithological collection, contained in seventeen elegant cases, while the second, a hall one hundred and thirty-two feet in length by eighteen in breadth, contains, in addition to the remainder of the birds, the following objects:—On the north side the collection of recent Mammalia in eight cases; on the east side four cases of other animals; and on the west side eight cases of fossil bones. The middle of this sala is occupied principally with the following specimens:—1st, A large specimen of Sphargis coriacea, taken at the mouth of the River Plate; 2d, a complete specimen of a female Mylodon gracilis; 3d, the pelvis of a male of Mylodon gracilis, a complete fore-leg of Megatherium, a hind-leg of Megatherium, with half of the pelvis, and a femur and some vertebrae of Mylodon giganteum; 4th, a sternum of Megatherium; 5th, a carapace of a Glyptodon; 6th, the entire skeleton of the same individual; 7th, a skeleton of a horse. The third contains a collection of engravings; and the fourth, which serves at the same time for a workroom for the director, is occupied by the entomological collection. The sixth is the laboratory, and the seventh is employed as a storeroom. The specimens in the Museum are chiefly derived from America and the south of Europe, and Dr. Burmeister devotes his efforts principally to making it a complete representation of the fauna of the Argentine Republic. The most valuable part of it is, undoubtedly, the collection of fossil bones; but there are some very interesting skeletons of recent Cetacea, including the Epiodon, described four or five years ago from a specimen taken in the Plate. In so far as I could learn, however, there appeared to be comparatively little interest taken in the collections by the Argentines; and Sunday, I believe, is the principal day on which the Museum is open to the general public.
Buenos Ayres, it is almost needless to remark, is a very large city, and, like most other South American towns, inhabited by a Spanish-speaking community, is constructed with great regularity, the houses forming hollow squares, with courtyards in the centre, and being arranged in quadras, so that nearly all the streets intersect one another rectangularly. At one time most of the houses were only one storey in height, but now, except in the outskirts, the generality are provided with two or three. Germans and English form a considerable item of the population, and it was readily to be observed to what a much greater degree these languages were to be heard spoken in the streets than in those of Monte Video. It would be unpardonable were I not to refer to the exceeding kindness and hospitality which we received during our short stay from various of the English residents; and among these I may be permitted specially to mention Mr. Smith, the clergyman of the Presbyterian church, who is held in great and deserved respect by the general community.
On Sunday the 27th I witnessed a great Roman Catholic ceremony, that of Corpus Christi, as I was informed, which had been delayed beyond its usual time on account of the state of the weather. At the close of morning service in the Presbyterian church that day, I walked rapidly down to the Cathedral, the front of which occupies a considerable part of one side of a large square. On my way I noticed that the ground in many of the streets was strewn with a plant smelling strongly of anise, and other herbs, while various gaudy shrines, lighted with numerous candles—which, on this sunny afternoon, diffused a sickly yellow glare—were erected at the corners of the streets; and the balconies of the houses, draped with silk and damask curtains of various colours, were filled with gaily-dressed ladies holding baskets and trays of flowers. When I entered the cathedral, the archbishop was just in the process of doffing his mitre, and in a few minutes after a long procession was formed in the centre of the building, and proceeded slowly to move towards the principal entrance, to the music of the organ, together with that of a number of peripatetic performers provided with fiddles and flutes, with a negro at their head, who jangled a bell with great vigour; a vast expenditure of incense going on at the same time. After the musicians came an assemblage of laymen carrying immense lighted wax candelabra, and behind them a collection of very ill-favoured looking priests, who were in their turn succeeded by a number of youths in white dresses; while in the rear of all marched the archbishop in a gorgeous dress, carrying the host, beneath a canopy supported on silver staves borne by a collection of individuals attired in a costume resembling that of a parish beadle. On issuing from the cathedral, the procession halted for a few minutes in the square in front, where a regiment of soldiers in gray uniforms was drawn up, and an immense crowd of people was assembled, and then moved slowly onwards, the soldiers falling in behind and marching to the music of a military band. As this extensive company defiled through the streets, showers of the petals of roses and other flowers were poured down upon the functionaries from the balconies and windows in such profusion, as in the distance to resemble a pink snow-storm. On arriving at the shrines a bell was jangled vehemently, and the members of the procession then all went down on their knees in the street, while the old archbishop waved a censer about, and the corps of priests chanted in a dolorous manner. This went on for a few minutes, till a great cross, carried near the head of the procession, was elevated, when the bells in all the churches clanged, as if seized with paroxysms of fury, and the people arose and marched on to the next shrine, where the same ceremony again took place. After a detour through the streets they returned to the cathedral, where the host was replaced in its niche with great demonstrations of reverence, after which the archbishop changed his robes, assuming a great crimson mantle which trailed for yards behind him, supported by a youth, who, to facilitate the operation, wound some folds of it around his shoulders.
We had very fine weather during the time of our stay at Buenos Ayres, with the exception of a tremendous hail-shower one evening, which, though it lasted for only a very short time, flooded the streets; and, the short time at our disposal being at length expended, we took our places in the “Rio Uruguay” again about five o'clock on the afternoon of the 28th. Soon after we started there was a magnificent display of thunder and lightning, and thereafter it began to blow hard, so that we had a very rough passage down the river, being obliged to lie-to for some time in the course of the night, owing to the thickness of the fog, so that we did not reach Monte Video till eight A.M. on the 29th. Next day it was blowing sufficiently hard in the morning to make landing unpleasant; but in the afternoon a few of us went on shore for a stroll, and I then had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Lettsom, H.B.M. Consul, a gentleman well known for his extensive acquaintance with science, who showed me many interesting specimens of minerals from various parts of Banda Oriental. On the afternoon of the 3d we weighed, and steamed slowly out to the outer roadstead, where H.M.S. “Narcissus” was lying, anchoring there for the night, and early next morning taking our departure for the Strait. The day was bright and sunny, and the air fresh and cool; and towards afternoon, as there was a favourable breeze, and it was always our object to save as much coal as might be, with which to carry on our operations on the surveying ground, the screw was got up, and we proceeded under sail. This comfortable state of things was not, however, destined to last long, for heavy rain came on in the evening, and the breeze thereafter died away in great measure, so that we made comparatively little progress during the night, and by the morning of the 2d it was dead calm. Soon after, a breeze set in right in our teeth, causing the vessel to go through a series of pitching and corkscrewing motions of a very unpleasant nature. It rapidly freshened to a violent gale, and throughout the ensuing night blew with increased fury.
On the 4th, in the morning watch, a heavy sea, striking the vessel, carried in fifty-six feet of the upper part of her starboard bulwarks, causing her to present a rather forlorn appearance to my gaze when I came on deck. It continued to blow with great vehemence during the earlier part of the day, when we went along, if indeed we could be truly said to progress, under reefed fore-topsail and fore-trysail. Cape pigeons and stormypetrels flying around us in numbers, while several albatrosses skimmed over the billows at a little distance. Towards evening, however, the wind and sea went down, and by the morning of the 5th there was little wind, but a very heavy swell, which exhibited the capability, largely possessed by the “Nassau,” for extensive rolling. By the evening it had become nearly calm, and we took advantage of this circumstance to put over the to wing-net. Two hours later, when it was hauled in, I found in it a minute Velella, and two specimens of an Amphipod of the family Hyperidœ—the Themisto antarctica. Next morning, 6th, it was dead calm, the sun shining brightly, and the surface of the water like oil in smoothness. On hauling in the towing-net, at eight A.M., we found in it multitudes of the Amphipod obtained on the previous evening, a few specimens of Ianthina exigua, and some exquisite Acalephse, the majority of which were species of Ctenophora. Several of these were Beroes of various forms, some colourless, and others with ctenophores of a beautiful rosy tint. The motion of the ciliated plates was splendidly seen in these, as well as in a large species of the same order, with regard to the genus of which I felt doubtful, as it was much injured. When entire, it must have measured at least six inches in circumference. It was transparent, with innumerable delicate reticulations of crimson-lake, and waves of iridescence passed along the ctenophores when the plates were in motion. The oceanic Hydrozoa were also represented by a lovely little species of Physsophora which I sketched from life. In general form it bore a close resemblance to the P. disticha of Lesson, but the necto-calyces had not such a distinctly two-rowed arrangement. The hydrocysts, which surrounded a large number of tentacula varying considerably in form, were transparent, tinged with pale purple, with a yellow, opaque, cream-coloured line running down the centre, and several were slightly tinged with yellow at the tip. They were firm to the touch, and were frequently twisted, and contracted rapidly while the animal was alive. Some hours later, a few specimens of Idotea annulata, an Isopod obtained on the previous year to the north of Rio, were obtained; but thereafter, a fresh breeze springing up, we went on our way too rapidly to permit of further use of the to wing-net at this time.
The 7th was a beautiful bright day, with a fine rolling blue sea, and we made good way, keeping up a pretty steady average of about seven knots. Several specimens of Fulmarus glacialioides were seen, and about an hour after noon, when we were about 150 miles off the nearest land, a bird allied to a starling (Xanthornus flavus) was noticed flying about the vessel. The sky some hours before sunset was most beautiful—pale blue, sprinkled over with multitudes of delicate cirri, across which a veil of cobweb-like lines of cloud was drawn. The breeze continued fresh during the night, and early on the morning of the 8th, but after that fell considerably. Between nine and ten A.M., when, according to our calculations, we were nearly opposite the Rio Negro, a rather large Sphinx and several small moths flew on board. A few hours later many more arrived, including a large moth measuring about three inches across the wings, as well as several specimens of a Sphinx with pink underwings, and bearing a considerable resemblance to Deilephila Galii, but distinct from it, and new, I am informed, to the British Museum collection. The latest visitor was a small gray and brown warbler, which remained with us for some hours feeding on the moths. The day, I may observe, at the time of the arrival of these animals, was very dull and foggy, and at noon drizzling rain set in, and continued till between five and six P.M., the weather fairly clearing up before sunset, about an hour later. The sun sank yellow beneath a great mass of dark cloud, passing slowly over a clear space of skyclose to the horizon before it dipped beneath the wave; and after its disappearance the western clouds became traversed with innumerable long lines of gold, while those in the east were suffused with a pink glow, and displayed a broad rainbow of the same colour.
We made little way during the night, but the breeze revived again next morning (9th). That day various patches of floating “kelp” were observed, and petrels and albatrosses were seen in numbers. On the 10th, on which we made little progress, as the wind had fallen very light, and there was a strong current against us, we saw some black-and-white porpoises tearing through the water, and a few animals were procured in the towing-net, including three beetles,† one of which was a fresh-water species, a few minute specimens of Lepas australis, attached to the air-vesicles of Macrocystis, and two small Pteropods, the Cleodora pyramidata and Cuvieria columella, both widely-distributed forms. The 11th was clear, bright, and cold, with but little wind. In the evening a Cetacean, about twelve feet long (apparently a species of Delphinus), appeared close astern, and followed the vessel for some time, diving about in the vicinity of the towing-net. It had a broad flat head, with a pointed nose, and sighed loudly as it appeared above the surface of the water, but did not spout. A breeze again sprang up during the night, so that by the morning of the 12th we were making from six to seven knots on our course. The three following days were not distinguished by any particular event; but the 16th was sadly marked by the death of one of the ship's company, who, after having made a partial recovery from typhoid fever contracted at Rio, had had a relapse while we were in the River Plate, and for the last few days had been evidently sinking. At four o'clock the same afternoon he was committed to his “vast and wandering grave”§ in the mighty deep. Later in the day, as we were nearing the Strait, we again got up steam, to endeavour to make sure of reaching it on the morrow.
† At this time we were about 200 miles from the nearest land (ooast of Patagonia).
§ Alfred, Lord Tennyson: In Memoriam A. H. H., Tennyson's friend Arthur Henry Hallam.
At about 3 P.M. on the l7th, a fine but very cold day, Cape Virgins was sighted, much to our satisfaction, as there was an almost unanimous feeling of pleasure in the return to the field of our labours. The first living creatures seen outside the Strait were a cormorant and a penguin (Spheniscus Magellanicus); and as we entered it and approached Dungeness Spit, a most remarkable spectacle was furnished by a herd of between fifty and sixty sea-lions assembled on the shelving beach. It was curious to watch the huge unwieldy monsters rearing up their heads, and plunging down the shelving beach to the water, where they splashed about. A great flock of cormorants was also seated erect on the spit; and soon after some one pointed out several so-called “pigeons” flying about not far from us. These, which it was certainly very pardonable to mistake for pigeons, from their resemblance in flight and colouring, I immediately recognised as the sheathbill (Chionis alba), which we did not meet with on the previous season. This interesting bird forms one of two species of a genus, regarding the true position of which in the ornithological system considerable difference of opinion has been entertained by ornithologists—some placing it among the Gallinœ, while others, and I think with more reason, are disposed to regard it as belonging to the Grallœ, and allied to Hœmatopus. The above species, which derives its English name from the peculiar form of the upper mandible, was first described by Forster,§ and is mentioned in Cook's Voyage towards the South Pole in 1772-75, as having been found at Staten Land. Cook remarks very truly that the bird “is about the size of a pigeon, and as white as milk,” and mentions that it has a very disagreeable smell, a circumstance also commented on by Mr. Darwin,§§ but which I did not notice in the two specimens which I had an opportunity of examining. The legs are long, of a blackish-gray colour, and bear a considerable resemblance to those of an oyster-catcher (Hœmatopus). They feed on molluscs and other marine animals, and are often to be seen far out at sea to the south of Cape Horn. In the Strait of Magellan, however, they do not appear to be common, as I only noticed them on one or two occasions.
§ Johann Reinhold Forster, in his Observations Made During a Voyage Round the World. London: G. Robinson, 1778
We anchored under Dungeness that evening, and I, in common with several of our number, entertained designs of landing on the Spit early next morning, to engage in a campaign against the sea-lions, but rain and wind set in immediately before the time we intended to land, and we were thus frustrated in our project. We weighed between eight and nine A.M. (18th), and moved on to Gregory Bay, where we remained for the night; and I obtained a Boltenia and several examples of the large Cynthia I have mentioned as procured on the previous season, in the dredge. We left our anchorage at two A.M. on the 19th, and proceeded onwards to Sandy Point, which we reached about six hours later. On landing after breakfast, we found a large budget of letters and papers awaiting us, but learned, much to our disappointment, that a vessel, the Pacific Steam Navigation Company's ship “Peru,” which we had expected to meet and despatch a mail by, had made a shorter passage to the Strait than we had calculated upon, and passed through two or three days before. It was a lovely spring morning when we got on shore, and the woods behind and on either side of the settlement were looking extremely pretty, the foliage of the Antarctic beech being in its first freshness. On the low sandy ground close to the beach the little Berberis empetrifolia covered many spots with its prostrate stems, thickly laden with yellow blossoms, which diffused a pleasant, faint perfume; and a number of other plants were in full flower, some noticed on our first arrival in the preceding year, and others which, owing to the more advanced state of the season at that time, had then passed out of bloom. Among the latter was the beautiful Magellanic variety of our British Primula farinosa, at one time regarded as a distinct form on account of its white flowers, but, as I found on this occasion, occurring in equal abundance with purple ones, and a Saxifrage (S. exarata), resembling S. tridactylites in general aspect. Other plants found profusely in flower were the Magellanic currant, a shrubby Composite of the genus Baccharis, a yellow Banunculus, and the Anemone decapetala.† A number of birds were observed on this occasion, including the Turdus Falklandicus, which sang most sweetly during occasional showers, Anœctes parulus, the Bandurria, and numerous oyster-catchers, gulls, cormorants, and steamer-ducks.
† One rather curious plant that I have omitted to mention as extremelycommon about the settlement, and which exists in more or less abimdance throughout the wooded country of the Strait, as well as at the Falkland Islands, is the Gunnera (Misandra) Magellanica, a dioecious apetalous herb, with creeping stems, orbicular-reniform leaves, supported on rather long petioles, and small round scarlet fruits, about the size of a sweet pea, closelyagglomerated together into a sort of spike.
Next day I walked for some distance over the “Bandurria Plains,” finding, among other objects, a nest of Centrites niger, containing several white eggs, marked with purplish-brown spots, and some good flowering specimens of Oxalis enneaphylla. The flowers were of a delicate pinkish-purple colour; and it is a fact worthy of note that, while all the specimens of the plant observed by me in the Falkland Islands possessed flowers of a snow-white tint, all those collected in various parts of Patagonia had flowers more or less tinged with various shades of purple. On the 21st, in the course of a long walk to the south of the settlement, I found Hippuris growing in abundance in pools of brackish water close to the beach, and obtained some splendid flowering specimens of Berberis ilicifolia in the woods. On the following morning I landed with Captain Mayne and one or two of the officers, with the intention of riding up to the coal-mine; but the governor assured us that the river was too much swollen from recent rains to permit of the attempt, and we accordingly rode out instead over the plains as far as the woods beyond the lagoon. On our way I again observed Hippuris, and under the trees I obtained fine specimens of a white Valerian, the V. lapathifolia, and of the elegant Cardamine geraniifolia, and, at the edge of a stream, some fine examples of a small fern, Asplenium Magellanicum, procured the previous year at Port Gallant, and which I afterwards found to be common throughout the wooded country of the Strait and Channels, in the island of Chiloe, and even in the neighbourhood of Valparaiso.
On the 23d the water of the river had sunk sufficiently to allow of a party of us visiting the mine, in company with the governor of the settlement and a French naval officer, M. Fleurier, at that time resident at Sandy Point, engaged in meteorological and other scientific observations. We had a very agreeable ride through the forest, but found that the mining operations had apparently not made much progress since the time of our last visit, and we noticed but little that was new to us. I, however, succeeded in procuring two additional plants from the immediate neighbourhood of the mine—one a Composite, the other a low under-shrub, a species, I believe, of Myginda, On the evening of the same day a very fine specimen of Lithodes antardica (now exhibited in one of the galleries in the British Museum) was brought up on a fishing-line. The remaining few days of our stay at the settlement were principally occupied in writing letters, to be left behind us to await the arrival of any vessel which might chance to pass through the Strait; and on the afternoon of the 27th we left the settlement, and, proceeding northwards, anchored under Cape Porpesse three hours later. From our situation we could perceive the tent of a shooting party, consisting of four of the officers who had left us some days previously to try their luck with the geese on Elizabeth Island; but by this time it was blowing so hard that we scarcely expected them to join us that evening. They, however, took advantage of a temporary lull in the wind to embark, and got on board about ten P.M., next morning despatching a boat for their spoils, which included upwards of one hundred and eighty geese (Chloephaga Magellanica), several dozen of ducks (Anas cristata), some oyster-catchers (Hœmatopus palliatus), and last, though certainly not least, three swans. That day it was blowing so hard as to compel us to remain at anchor, and the vessel presented much the appearance of a poulterer's shop, from the long lines of geese and ducks hanging up in all directions. We had geese for dinner every day for about a fortnight afterwards, by which time most of us were heartily tired of the diet, and felt as if we would never wish to taste these birds again. The swans belonged to two distinct species, two of them being examples of the Cygnus nigricollis, with white body-plumage and black necks, heads, and bills, the last of which were endowed with a knob of considerable size at the base; while the third was a specimen of the Cygnus coscoroba, the entire plumage of which, with the exception of a few black feathers in the wings, was pure white, and the feet and bill pink, the latter being destitute of a knob, and considerably broader and flatter than that of the black-necked species. Both sorts had apparently resorted to Elizabeth Island for breeding purposes, as our party found nests which evidently belonged to them; and earlier in the season, in the month of October, eggs of one or other species were collected on the island by one of the servants of the governor of Sandy Point. This, I think, was the only occasion on Avhich we met with swans in the Strait, though, a month later, specimens of the C. coscoroba were obtained in the vicinity of Gallegos river. Both species are noticed by Captain King; and in the journal of Mr. Kirk, who was associated with Lieutenant Skyring in the survey of the Western Channels of Patagonia, I find mention made of islets in the neighbourhood of Obstruction Sound which were covered with immense numbers of “black-necked swans, mixed with a few which had black-tipped wings.” Both species also occur in South Chili, and in the countries bordering the River Plate. The skinning of one of the individuals of the black-necked species occupied me fully during the 28th, and I ascertained that neither in it nor in the C. coscoroha does a fold of the trachea enter the keel of the sternum.
On the 29th it was still blowing too hard outside our sheltered position to permit of our making a move. A few Fissurellœ and other Molluscs were obtained in the dredge in the morning; and in the afternoon the greater number of us landed, and spent some hours rambling about. On stepping on shore I obtained many specimens of a Boraginaceous plant with small yellow flowers, procured the previous year on the coast of St. Jago Bay. This was an Eritrichium, identical I believe, with a species which I observed subsequently in Chili. Many other plants were also flowering profusely near the beach, including Symphyostemon narcissoides, Anemone decapetalay Geum Magellanicnm, Armeria maritima, Cerastium arvense, a small species of Galium, and Oxalis enneaphylla. Of the last mentioned, two very well marked varieties occurred—one, similar to that occurring in the neighbourhood of Sandy Point, with lilac flowers and leaves of the ordinary form, that is to say, with the lobed segments deflexed on the petiole; and the other with whitish flowers, marked with numerous interrupted streaks of bluish purple and very narrow leaflets, which spread out at right angles to the leaf-stalk. In a few specimens of this latter form the streaks on the corolla were almost of a pure blue tint. A striking instance was thus furnished of two very distinct forms of a species co-existing in the same locality. Another plant, that I now discovered in flower for the first time, was a tall Arabis, with rather large white flowers, the A. Macloviana, recorded previously from the Falkland Islands, but not, in so far as I am aware, from the Strait. The high ground above Cape Negro was in a perfect blaze of scarlet with the blossoms of Embothrium coccineum, the only representative of the order Proteacœ occurring in the Strait, and which extends from the south of Fuegia as far north as Valdivia in South Chili. In the Strait and Western Channels of Patagonia it seldom exceeds the dimensions of a tall shrub, and is often not more than one or two feet in height; but in Chiloe it frequently forms a low tree, which presents a very handsome appearance at the flowering season. In a break in the cliffs of Cape Negro, where a small spring was oozing out of the clay, I found a minute Myosotis (M. alhijiora) and several Graminaceœ, not obtained before, together with one or two specimens of Adesmia pumila. Among the zoological spoils of this day were a small rodent, with very thick hair, caught by one of the boat's crew, and a fine eagle, shot by one of the officers. This bird, the Geranoœtus melanoleucus, does not appear to be very common in the Strait, as we only noticed it on one or two occasions, and it was never observed in the wooded country to the southward and westward of Cape Negro.
On the 1st of December I again landed with three companions, and we had a pleasant walk to a fresh-water lake behind Laredo Bay. This, which we estimated as about two miles long, is about the largest mass of fresh water to the north-east of Sandy Point. On the high ground, on our way to it, we passed many hard domes of Bolax glebaria, some of which were in flower. On the 2d the wind still continued, and we shifted our anchorage to Laredo Bay, where we remained all next day, when boats were despatched to survey the bay and its vicinity. Next morning (4th), about five o'clock, a large ship, the Italian frigate “Magenta,” on her homeward-bound voyage, after a circumnavigation of the world, appeared in the channel outside our anchorage. We at first thought that she was going to pass us without notice, but, on seeing us, she very kindly came over in our direction and signalled to know if we had letters to send, and we thankfully availed ourselves of the opportunity. I did not then know that she had a naturalist on board—Dr. E. Giglioli, so that I missed the pleasure of meeting a fellow-worker in the same field. It being a fine calm day we weighed between five and six A.M., and went over to the island of Sta. Magdalena,§ anchoring about half-a-mile from the shore in a bay on the south side. This islet was visited by several of the older navigators, to whom it was known by the name of Penguin Island, on account of the “great store of these birds” encountered there; and at one period, if we may trust to the accuracy of the account given of it in the voyage of Van Noort, was tenanted by Fuegian Indians, but for a very long period it would appear to have been uninhabited by man. It is of much smaller size than Elizabeth Island, but is larger than Sta. Marta. It rises steeply out of the water, like the other islands in this portion of the Strait, presenting at some points high cliffs of boulder-clay, and at others steep banks covered with short herbage.
§ Now, Isla Magdalena.
As we came to an anchor we observed that the ledges on the cliffs were white with birds, and that a large herd of sealions were reposing on the beach. About nine o'clock a large party left the ship, some on surveying work, and others in quest of sport. As we pulled towards the shore we had a most curious experience, for the water was populous with sealions and other seals, which, from being seldom disturbed by man, were apparently much astonished and but little dismayed at our appearance. A herd of between thirty and forty of the former followed our boats at a few yards' distance, plunging beneath the water, and then raising themselves partially out of it, gazing at us with intentness, showing their white tusks, and occasionally uttering a cry intermediate between a grunt and a roar; while many of the latter, bending themselves into a curve, leaped high out of the water in all directions. The herd on the beach allowed us to land, and then, rearing up so as to display their manes, rushed into the water, from whence they eyed us at a safe distance. But a no less curious sight was in store for us; for on climbing to the summit of one of the high banks, we beheld a company of penguins (Spheniscus Magellanicus), which, after standing erect and staring at us in a stupid manner for a few moments, shuffled off; their little wings hanging limp at their sides, and their darkgray and white colouring, and reeling movements, suggesting a drunk and disorderly funeral procession. AVhen hard pressed they abandoned the erect position, and crouching down on all fours, if I may be permitted the expression, ran along like rabbits at a very rapid rate, using their wings as fore-legs, till they gained their burrows, fairly ensconced in which they faced their pursuers, and, slowly turning about their heads from side to side, barked and brayed in the most ridiculous manner, offering a stout resistance to being captured by biting most viciously with their strong bills. While contemplating one individual in its den, I was suddenly startled by a loud “Ho-ho-ho-ho-ho” close to me, and turning round perceived another bird, which had boldly walked out of a neighbouring burrow, and was thus addressing me. I succeeded at last, though with much difficulty, in raking an old bird out of its hole with the crook of a walking-stick, and also obtained two young ones in their down.
The most remarkable spectacle, however, was still to come. Pursuing our way over the island, we ere long reached some large hollows, which cormorants (Phalacrocorax carunculatus) had adopted as breeding-places. The birds were there congregated in their nests literally in thousands, forming a dense black mass covering a space of many yards; and, on being disturbed, rose into the air in a cloud, winnowing it with their wings so as to produce a sound resembling that of a strong breeze blowing, and almost concealing the heavens from view; while a number of skua gulls, associated with them, gave vent to a tumult of discordant cries. Their nests were regularly shaped flattened mounds, slightly excavated on the upper surface, and ranged in almost mathematical series, exactly a foot of space intervening between each nest. They were formed of dried grass and other herbage baked into a solid mass with earth and guano; and the generality contained from one to three greenishwhite eggs about the size of that of a domestic fowl, and with a rough chalky surface. A spirited and accurate sketch of the scene was executed by one of the officers who was an eyewitness of it, and appeared subsequently in the Illustrated London News.
On the steep cliffs of the island a considerable number of birds of the same species had constructed nests of seaweed, but there were no eggs in any of these, and possibly their owners may have been mateless individuals. Among the other birds observed on the island were three specimens of the sheathbill, none of which were unfortunately obtained, as well as many upland geese and skua and other species of gulls; and we found several nests alike of gulls and geese. The plants comprised about half-a-dozen grasses, a yellow Viola, Cerastium arvense, a Geranium and Erodium, Homoianthus echimdatus, Plantago maritima, and Chlorœa Magellanica.
In the course of a few hours we returned to the ship, immediately after which we left the island, and passing the remainder of the day in taking soundings, anchored late in the evening in Gregory Bay. We were all greatly interested by our morning's experience, and it was not a little curious to find subsequently how closely our observations coincided with those of Sir Richard Hawkins, in the same locality, nearly three hundred years before. His account of the denizens of Sta. Magdalena is so quaint that I make no apology for presenting it to those of my readers who may happen to be unacquainted with it. He states that
Before we passed these Ilands, vnder the Lee of the bigger Land we anchored, the winde being at North-east, with intent to refresh our selues with the Fowles of these Lands. They are of divers sorts, and in great plenty, as Pengwins, wild Ducks, Guls, and Gannets; of the principal we purposed to make prouision, and these were the Penguins.
The Pengwin is in all proportion like a Goose, and hath no feathers, but a certaine downe vpon all parts of his bodie; and therefore cannot flee, but auayleth himselfe on all occasions with his feet, running as fast as most men. He liueth in the Sea and on the Land; feedeth on fish in the Sea, and as a Goose on the shore vpon grasse. They harbour themselues vnder the ground in Burrowes, as the Conies; and in them hatch their young. All parts of the Hand where they haunted were vndermined, saue onely one Valley which (it seemeth) they reserved for their food; for it was as greene as any Medow in the month of Aprill, with a most fine short grasse. The flesh of these Pengwins is much of the sauour of a certaine Fowle taken in the Hands of Lundy and Silley, which we call Puffins, by the taste it is easily discerned that they feed on fish. They are very fat, and in dressing must be flead as the Byter; they are reasonable meate rosted, baked, or sodden; but best rosted. We salted some doozen or sixteene Hogsheads, which serued vs (whilest they lasted) in steed of powdred Beefe. The hunting of them (as wee may well terme it) was a great recreation to my company, and worth the sight, for, in determining to catch them, necessarily was required great store of people, euery one with a cudgell in his hand, to compasse them round about, to bring them, as it were, into a Ring; if they chanced to break out, then was the sport, for the ground beeing vndermined, at vnawares it failed, and as they ranne after them, one fell here, another there, another offering to strike at one, lifting vp his hande, sunke vp to the arme-pits in the earth, another leaping to avoid one hole, fell into another. And after the first slaughter, in seeing vs on the shoare, they shunned vs, and procured to recouer the Sea; yea, many times seeing themselues persecuted they would tumble down from such high Rockes and Mountaines, as it seemed impossible to escape with life. Yet as soone as they came to the Beach, presently we should see them runne into the Sea, as though they had no hurt. Where one goeth, the other folio weth, like sheepe after the Bel-weather; but in getting them once within the Ring close together, few escaped, save such as by chance hid themselues in the borrowes, and ordinarily there was no Drove which yielded vs not a thousand and more : the manner of killing them which the Hunters vsed, beeing in a cluster together, was with their cudgels to knocke them on the head, for though a man gave them many blowes on the body they dyed not : Besides the flesh bruized is not good to keepe. The, massacre ended, presently they cut off their heads, that they might bleed well; such as we determined to keepe for store, we saued in this manner. First, wee split them, and then washed them well in Seawater, then salted them, hauing laine some sixe houres in Salt, we put them in presse eight houres, and the blood being soaked out, wee salted them again in our other caske, as is the custom to salt Beefe, after this manner they continued good some two months, and serued vs in steed of Beefe.
The Guls and Gannets were not in so great quantitie, yet we wanted not young Guls to eate all the time of our stay about these Hands. It was one of the delicatest foods that I haue eaten in all my life.
The Duckes are different to ours, and nothing so good meate; yet they may serue for necessitie: They were many, and had a part of the Hand to themselves seuerall, which was the highest Hill, and more than a Musket shot ouer. In all the dayes of my life, I have not seene greater arte and curiositie in creatures void of reason, than in the placing and making of their Nests; all the Hill being so full of them, that the greatest Mathematician of the World could not deuise how to place one more than there was upon the Hill, leaving only one path-way for a Fowle to passe betwixt. The Hill was all leuell, as if it had been smoothed by arte; the Nests made only of earth, and seeming to be of the selfe-same mould; for the Nests and the soile is all one, which, with water that they bring in their Beakes, they make into Clay, or a certain dawbe, and after fashion them round, as with a compasse. In the bottome they containe the measure of a foot; in the height about eight inches; and in the top, the same quantitie ouer; then they are hollowed in, somewhat deep, wherein to lay their Egges, without other preuention. And I am of opinion that the Sun helpeth them to hatch their young; their Nests are for many yeares, and of one proportion, not one exceeding another in bignesse, in height, nor circumference; and in proportionable distance one from another. In all this Hill, nor in any of their Nests, was to be found a blade of grasse, a straw, a sticke, a feather, a weed, no, nor the filing of any Fowle, but all the Nests and passages betwixt them, were so smooth and cleane, as if they had been newly swept & washed.
One day hauing ended our hunting of Pengwins, one of our mariners walking about the Land, discouered a great company of Seales, or Sea-wolues (so called for that they are in the Sea, as the Wolues on the Land), aduising us, that he left them sleeping, with their bellies toasting against the Sunne; we prouided our selues with stones and other weapons and sought to steale vpon them at vnawares, to surprize some of them, and comming downe the side of a Hill, we were not discouered till wee were close vpon them, notwithstanding, their Sentinell (before wee could approach) with a great howle waked them; we got betwdxt the Sea and some of them, but they shunned vs not; for they came directly vpon us; and though we dealt heere and there a blow, yet not a man that withstood them escaped the overthrow. They reckon not of a Musket shot, a sword pierceth not their skinne, and to giue a blowe with a staffe, is as to smite vpon a stone; only in giuing the blowe vpon his snout presently he falleth downe dead. After they had recouered the water, they did as it were scorne vs, defie vs and daunced before vs, vntill we had shot some Musket shot through them, and so they appeared no more.
This fish is like unto a Calfe, with foure legs, but not aboue a spanne long; his skinne is hairy like a Calfe; but these were different to all that euer I hane seene, yet I have seene of them in many parts; for these were greater, and in their former parts like vnto Lions, with shagge haire, and mostaches. They live in the Sea, and come to sleepe on the Land, and they euer have one that watcheth, who adviseth them of any accident. They are beneficiall to man in their skinnes for many purposes: In their mostaches for Pick-tooths, and in their fatte to make Traine-oyle.
Two memorial specimens of our visit to this remarkable island, the inhabitants of which are so amusingly described in the above extract, were preserved—viz., a penguin (Spheniscus Magellanicus) and a cormorant (Pholacrocorax caruncidatus), and their skins, together with those of the other birds obtained in the Strait, are now in the museum of the University of Cambridge. The operation of skinning the penguin was of a most unpleasant nature, owing to the very strong fishy smell, and the gluey character of the fat of the bird; but a variety of structural points observed during the process interested me greatly, among which I may instance the remarkable breadth of the scapulae, the deep colour of the muscles, recalling that of the flesh of a seal, and the curious tongue, the upper surface of which is armed with horny spines, resembling those which occur on the tongue and palate of certain mammals. The cormorant was very successfully skinned for me by one of my messmates (Mr. Ollard), and is a fine specimen of the beautiful species to which it belongs. The carunculated cere of this bird is yellow, and the wings and entire upper plumage, including a narrow crest of elongated feathers on the head, exhibit splendid tints of deep bluish purple verging on black, while the front of the neck, the breast, and the abdomen are snow-white.
On the 5th we remained at anchor, as it was blowing hard, but the weather was fine on the two following days, which were occupied in taking soundings from the ship. Heavy rain, followed by snow, set in on the evening of the 7th, and next day it was again blowing hard, which, however, we did not much regret, as it happened to be Sunday, which was as much as possible preserved as a day of rest. On the 9th, 10th, and 11th the weather was again favourable, and taken advantage of to obtain lines of soundings in Philip Bay, on the coast of which we observed a Fuegian encampment of considerable size. The morning of the 12th was splendidly bright and clear, and a small party of us landed on the coast of Gregory Bay at five A.M., and spent some hours in a pleasant ramble inland. The ground in many places was completely tunnelled with the burrows of the Ctenomys and as I walked over it, I heard at intervals the curious cry of the animal, while several individuals protruded their furry heads and shoulders from their holes to see what was the matter, quickly withdrawing them on my nearer approach. In the neighbourhood of these warrens I noticed a good many specimens of the great owl (Bubo Magellanicus). These were in general perched on the barberry bushes, and were very bold, barking at me in their peculiar fashion, and allowing me to come within three or four yards of them before taking flight. I saw several fine specimens of the military starling, and in the vicinity of a marsh some geese with young goslings. The old birds were very assiduous in their care of their young—not flying off as I came near them, but hiding themselves in the long grass, from which I could perceive them anxiously watching my movements. A few specimens of a beautiful duck, the Mareca Chiloensis, which we had not met with during the previous season, were shot by one of the officers. Captain King was, I believe, the first to describe it from examples obtained by him in the island of Chiloe, but he does not appear to have met with it so far south as the Strait of Magellan, where it seems to be rather rare. A small lizard of the species earlier mentioned was also captured, and I observed a minute bee busily gathering the pollen from Adesmia pumila, but did not succeed in taking it.
Among the plants obtained on this occasion were the Calceolaria nana in full flower and very plentiful, the Valeriana carnosa, Armeria maritima, a pretty Sisyrinchium (S. filifolium), and a yellow-flowered plant apparently belonging to the tribe Alströmerim, of the order Amaryllidaceœ and which seems to have entirely escaped the notice of those botanists who have previously visited the Strait of Magellan. I afterwards found it both in the neighbourhood of Mount Dinero and at the river Gallegos, and sent several specimens to England, which are now among my collections in the Royal Herbarium at Kew, but which I have not as yet had the requisite leisure carefully to examine.
We left our anchorage in Gregory Bay at eleven A.M. that day, and passed through the first narrows, anchoring off Direction Hill about four P.M. Thereafter several of the boats were despatched for some hours to take lines of soundings, and a considerable amount of work was thus accomplished. We were rather surprised to observe from our station a large ship flying the Japanese flag lying off Cape Possession, and next morning we went over to her to learn what she was doing, and found that she was the ex-Confederate ram “Stonewall,” sold some time previously to the Japanese government, and on her way out to Japan, under the charge of a U.S. captain, being at the present time occupied in supplying a merchant ship, the “Mary C. Dyer,” from Monte Video, with coal. She brought us some letters and papers from the flagship then lying off Monte Video, and engaged to take on the correspondence which we had left behind us at Sandy Point.
On the 14th, 15th, and 16th of December it was blowing so hard that we could not leave our anchorage, and the wind lasted till about three P.M. on the 17th, when it fell considerably, and advantage was taken of this circumstance to get under way and execute* a considerable amount of sounding. On the 18th it was again blowing hard; on the 19th the wind fell, and allowed us again to resume our operations; but on the 20th this unwearied enemy again kept us unwillingly idle. The greater number of us were by this time beginning to feel this perpetuity of gales a severe strain on our patience, and therefore rejoiced when Captain Mayne determined on carrying out a piece of work which promised to afford a little variety—namely, in conformity with instructions received before we left England, to make a trip to the Gallegos river, on the east coast of Patagonia, to institute a search for a deposit of fossil bones discovered by Admiral Sulivan and the present hydrographer of the Navy, Rear Admiral G. H. Richards, about twenty years previously, and which Mr. Darwin, Professor Huxley, and other distinguished naturalists, were anxious should be carefully examined.
Accordingly, on the evening of the 21st, a very fine calm day occupied in taking soundings, we anchored a few miles outside of Cape Virgins, and the following morning weighed early and proceeded northwards along the coast, keeping near to the land. We reached the mouth of the river, about forty miles from the entrance of the Strait, early in the afternoon; and after attempting to enter it, and finding that, owing to an alteration in the banks of the estuary, there was to all appearance no channel of sufficient depth to admit of our passage, anchored at some distance from the land. Next morning all the requisite apparatus for the geological campaign, including hammers, picks, shovels, gunpowder for blasting, as well as the necessary gear required for camping out for a day or two, being in readiness, a party, consisting of Captain Mayne, five of the officers, and myself, with a certain number of the crew, left the ship at five A.M. in two boats, one of which, the steam cutter, took the other, the captain's galley, in tow. The day was calm and beautiful, and all seemed to bode well for our excursion. In conformity with the information furnished to us regarding the locality of the fossil-beds, we entered the river, shaping our course for some high cliffs on the left bank, about five or six miles from the entrance. The country to the south of the river was for the most part low and flat, though presenting several distant well-marked peaks, bearing the appellation of the Friars and the Convents; while that to the north possessed a much bolder character, consisting of a series of rounded steep low hills, with intervening radiating valleys and wide flat elevated plains, strikingly different from anything we had previously seen in eastern Patagonia. Landing soon after six A.M. near the cliffs above mentioned, we fixed on a situation for our tents, and while the camp fire was being lighted and breakfast getting ready, I had time to take a short stroll and survey the surrounding prospect. Our encampment was placed on a flat space of ground close to the river-bank, behind which rose steep grass-grown banks from thirty to fifty feet in height, and rendered of a brilliant golden-yellow colour by masses of the Adesmia boronioides, which, along with Lepidophyllum cupressiforme, was growing in the utmost luxuriance. Two other plants, also plentiful, neither of which appear to extend as far south as the Strait, were a beautiful Calceolaria, with a larger flower and narrower leaves than C. plantaginea, and a herbaceous Euphorbia, with copious milky juice. Immediately to the east of us extended the line of cliffs, stretching, with intervals of grassy slopes, towards the mouth of the river. At the near end of this, which I had time to reach before breakfast, I found a few of the plates of the dermal armour of a Glyptodon, and we all regarded this as an auspicious omen of our success. Our morning meal over, the party dispersed in different directions—the greater number, bent on sport, ascending to the high ground above the banks, while Captain Mayne and I, armed with hammers and chisels, set out to search the base of the cliffs for the deposit of fossil bones. We had a long and most fatiguing walk under a hot sun, over the shingle beneath the cliffs, carefully scrutinising their surfaces, and all detached blocks in their vicinity, for fossils, but without the slightest success. We passed at one part a well of good fresh water, with a plank laid along the swampy ground at the side of it, and not far from this I met with several plants which had never occurred to me in the Strait, including a purple Lathyrus, a bluish-white Polygala, and a handsome yellow Œnothera. We persevered on our way until we had passed all the cliffs between our camp and Cape Fairweather, when we arrived at the conclusion that it would be useless to prosecute our quest farther in that direction, and accordingly proceeded to make tracks towards camp, Captain Mayne returning by the base of the cliffs, while I scrambled up to the summit to examine those portions which were inaccessible from below. We alike failed, however, in our object, though I obtained several other species of plants, including some handsome Compositœ, a small Labiate, found the previous year at Direction Hill, and the yellow-flowered Amaryllid met with at Gregory Bay.
On our return to camp about one P.M., we found that the sportsmen had been more fortunate—one officer having succeeded in shooting a guanaco, while another had procured a fine Rhea, and a third soon after arrived with a specimen of Cygnus coscoroba, and some live cygnets, which he had caught at the edge of a small lake at some distance. The latter were most ridiculous-looking gray, downy, long-legged creatures, which stood with their eyes half shut, and their heads reposing on their breasts in an attitude of meditation, recalling accounts of the Phoenix, but, unlike that bird, huffing at any one that disturbed their slumbers. As we did not intend to dine till about three hours later, I determined, though feeling rather tired and footsore with the morning's exertions, to spend the intervening time in botanising, and accordingly left our camp with a folio of drying-paper under my arm, with the intention of walking a short way along a flat tract of ground which extended for some distance up the bank of the river to the west. My plans were, however, altered, in consequence of noticing at the top of one of the steep banks a very fine species of Adesmia growing in rounded clumps resembling those of Ulex narnis, armed with weak spines, and covered with beautiful flame-coloured flowers. After securing specimens of this plant, I resolved on keeping on the high ground, and accordingly pursued my way over hill and dale, busily engaged in collecting, till I arrived at the edge of a fresh-water lake, where I found a species of Acœna that was new to me. My paper was now pretty well filled with specimens, and finding that it was about three P.M., I judged it advisable to return to camp, to be in time for dinner, which I now felt pretty ready for, having eaten nothing, with the exception of half a ship's biscuit, since seven in the morning. I therefore bent my steps in the direction of a low hill which I believed I had crossed on my way out. After walking for some distance, I reached an extensive tract of flat ground, which it struck me I had not traversed before. This circumstance somewhat perplexed me, but I thought that I could not be mistaken as to the hill in front of me, and so continued on my way over the plain, noticing as I went the Oxalis enneaphylla in great profusion. Heavy rain now began to fall, and before long I was soaked through, and began to feel decidedly cold, causing me to realise the satisfactoriness of getting back to the tent, and changing my clothes. After walking for some miles over this plain, which was nearly a dead level, and feeling surprised that I did not sooner reach the hill I was in quest of, I reached the edge of the flat ground, and after descending into a narrow valley, gained the desired elevation, which I believed to be close to our camp. On climbing to its summit, however, I beheld neither camp nor river, but only an apparently endless succession of small hills and valleys, radiating in nearly every direction. I now saw plainly that I had utterly lost my way, and began to consider what, in the absence of a compass, was the best thing to be done in this rather unpleasant fix. After deliberating upon the advisability of attempting to return on my track to the lake, and striking out a new line from thence, I abandoned this idea, as I judged, from the manner in which the features of the country repeated themselves, that it was very doubtful whether I could find my way back there, and that, even should I succeed in doing so, I could not be by any means certain of reaching the camp from it. I thought, moreover, that by pursuing my onward way I must strike the Gallegos river at some point, and this attained, I knew that there could be no difficulty in gaining the tents. Anxiously scanning the prospect, I saw on the horizon in front of me what appeared, from its sharp, clearly-defined aspect, to be the top of a cliff. This I concluded to be Cape Fairweather, and knew by the time I got there I would have arrived at the entrance of the river, and have a walk of about six miles back to camp. I therefore started in the direction of the supposed cape, but after walking for a long way at a very rapid pace, seemed not to be getting any nearer to it, a sufficiently puzzling circumstance. At last it flashed across me that I must be walking in a circle, and I accordingly struck out on a new line, which after a time brought me to the desired cliff-summit; when I found, to my dismay, that instead of looking down upon the river, I had reached the top of a cliff overlooking the open sea, whose waters were quietly lapping on the beach about 150 feet below. I then directed my gaze along the line of coast for any indication of the entrance of the river, or of the ship, but in vain; nothing was to be seen which could serve as a guide whither to direct my steps. It was now seven P.M., and my prospects did not appear altogether of a reassuring nature. I endeavoured to persuade myself that Cape Fairweather could not be very far off; and accordingly toiled along the land at the top of the cliffs, feeling desperately weary, as I had hardly sat down since I had breakfasted in the morning, and a sensation of drowsiness gradually creeping over me. Struggling on in this way for some miles, fighting against sleep, I now and then imagined that some projecting point ahead was the Cape, but, on reaching it, invariably found that my hopes were groundless. At one time I perceived what I supposed to be a human figure standing at the edge of the cliffs, but on approaching nearer found it to be a huge condor, which allowed me to come within eight feet of it, and did not attempt to move till I brandished my walking-stick, when it slowly flapped its great wings, and rising into the air, sailed off. I continued my walk along the coast till about nine P.M., when the sun setting caused me to realise more distinctly than I had done before, that I had been walking in a north-easterly, instead of a southerly direction. By this time my strength was almost exhausted, and as it was rapidly getting dusk, I felt that I must soon give in for the night; so, to lighten myself, I unwillingly laid down my portfolio of valuable specimens, and walked for some distance inland, looking out for some convenient shelter during the hours of darkness. Passing through some long grass in one of the small valleys which abounded between the rounded grassy hills, I heard, apparently only a few yards off, the peculiar cry of a puma, which made me quicken my steps, as I was entirely unprovided with firearms, and had no desire to provoke an encounter with even such a comparatively cowardly animal, with an oak stick as my only weapon. Shortly afterwards, feeling very thirsty, I was glad to see a pool of water not far off, and hastening to it, and tooping down, took a great gulp, only to find that it was intensely salt! Darkness was now gathering rapidly, and I listened intently for the noise of voices or guns, but there was an entire silence, save for the rustling of the wind through the grass. By-and-by I heard the neigh of a guanaco, and, looking round, saw it indistinctly at no great distance from me, apparently puzzled to know what I was.
By ten P.M. I felt that it would be useless to attempt to walk farther, as I was utterly done up, and it was too dark to see in what direction I was going. I therefore lay down in the grass in the lee of a low barberry-bush. The grass was soaking wet, and there was a piercing breeze blowing; but I fell asleep for a short time, and wakened with a sensation of deadly cold, accompanied with violent cramps in my limbs. Fortunately, no more rain fell, and the night was clear, with a fine display of stars overhead. I thus lay on the ground, weighing the probabilities of my being able to find my way back to camp next day, or of my leaving my bones to bleach in the Patagonian desert, while the wind rustled through the bushes, and snipes gave vent to their desolate nocturnal cries. The night seemed very long, though in reality short, and I anxiously watched for the morning, noting how the stars moved over the face of the sky, and gradually weaned. At last a faint light appeared in a particular spot on the horizon, which satisfied me as to which was the east; day gradually dawned, and by twenty minutes to three A.M., on the 24th, it was light enough to allow me to rise from my lair and set out in a direction intermediate between that where the sun had set the night before, and that whence it was preparing to arise.
It was a bright, clear morning, and I felt more hopeful than the night before, and concentrated my energies into walking as hard as I could. I first traversed a considerable extent of undulating country, after which I crossed a wide plain, disturbing a skunk, which scuttled off with its feathery tail over its back. After this I descended into a small valley; then crossed another plain, and then reached some more hilly country. Suddenly coming to a gap between two knolls, I saw, to my relief, a distant blue hill-top which I knew to be situated on the south side of the river, and thus ascertained my true position, and realised that my troubles were nearly over. Soon I saw the river itself, and began to descend towards it, presently hearing a shout at some distance, and seeing a figure run rapidly down a neighbouring hill. I presently recognised one of the officers, who shortly joined me, with a brandy-flask in one hand and a revolver in the other. A little more than half-an-hour sufficed us to reach the tents, where I met the remainder of the party, who had gone through much fatigue and anxiety during the previous night and that morning in the search for their missing companion, having formed diverse conjectures as to my fate, some imagining that I had fallen over the cliffs, and others, that I had fallen a prey to a puma which had been seen the day before. Thus ended safely what might have been a very serious adventure, and which taught me a lesson in caution—namely, the inadvisability of carrying on solitary botanical explorations in unknown regions without a compass. After breakfast, as there seemed to be no particular end to be gained by remaining on shore for a longer period, we returned to the ship, getting on board about nine A.M. In our absence some large fish, resembling ling in general appearance, had been taken; and attached to the gills of one was found a very curious crustacean which had been preserved for me by one of the officers. This remarkable creature belonged to the genius Sphyrion, of Cuvier, founded on a parasite taken on the throat of a Gadoid fish at the Cape of Good Hope during the voyage of the “Freycinet,” and described by Quoy and Gaimard under the name of “Chondracanthe lisse.” A second species has been more recently described by Kroyer, from the lump-fish (Cyclopterus lumpus) of the northern hemisphere, under the name of Lesteira lumpi; and this one taken at the Gallegos river appears to constitute the type of a third, of which I have found no description, although specimens of it have existed for many years in the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons. Of the history of these examples, Professor Flower, who had the kindness to show them to me, knows nothing; but it is possible that they may have been procured on one of the earlier South American surveys, as I find that Captain King, in the account of his visit to the Gallegos river, makes mention of large fish, regarded by him as a species of Ophidium, and called ling by his ship's company, which had “two parasitical animals attached” to them—one a “Cymothoa,” probably Pterelas magnificus, Dana; and “the other a species of Lernœa, which had so securely attached itself under the skin, as not to be removed without cutting off a piece of the flesh with it.” This latter, I think it very probable, was the Sphyrion met with by us; as, if my memory does not play me false, other examples obtained about a month later were attached alike to the gills and to the skin of their host. Acting on the belief that this Sphyrion is an undescribed species, and first met with by Captain King, I have named it S. Kingii, in honour of that excellent observer.
We weighed soon after we got on board, and, returning southwards to the Strait, anchored under Dungeness. The morning of the 25th, Christmas day, was tolerably fine, but there was a very threatening barometer (28°80'56".) An officer, who had been left with his boat's crew at Cape Possession, while we were at the Gallegos, was, by this time, encamped on Dungeness, and came on board to report himself, bringing with him a fine female condor which he had shot at the cape. He had also made two interesting botanical discoveries while there, having obtained specimens of the Botrychium lunaria which I found the previous year at Oazy Harbour, as well as of a deep yellow Œnothera, the only representatives of the genus which I ever procured from the Strait, though, as I have mentioned a few pages back, a species is common at the Gallegos river. We got under way early in the forenoon, and began to take soundings on the Sarmiento Bank, but soon found that the barometer had proved a true prophet in this instance, a gale setting in, which compelled a speedy suspension of operations, causing us to re-enter the Strait (a matter of considerable difficulty), and anchor outside Dungeness. The wind freshened by degrees, and during the afternoon and evening blew with a greater amount of fury than we had ever experienced in these regions. Although we were lying at but a very short distance from the land, it was generally hidden from our sight by the driving spray, while the wind howled through the rigging, and the vessel strained at her anchor. Despite these untoward circumstances, however, our Christmas dinner went off very well, and we passed a pleasant evening over reminiscences of past events, mingled with speculations as to future prospects. The gale continued to rage throughout the greater portion of the night, and on the forenoon of the 26tli it was still blowing, though with diminished vehemence. There was a lull during part of the afternoon, which permitted a small amount of work in the way of sounding being accomplished; but the wind again freshened at 6 P.M., and blew hard till 8.30 P.M., when heavy rain setting in, it fell rapidly.
The 27th was a beautiful calm day, and employed in sounding the Sarmiento Bank. In the evening we anchored off the inner side of Dungeness, and two ofticers who had been on shore there returned to the ship. Next morning it came on to blow hard, and as we were on a lee-shore we shifted our anchorage well into Possession Bay. There was a very heavy sea on, and the vessel rolled to a greater extent than she had yet done in the Strait. Numbers of stormy petrels were flying over the waves in our vicinity, the first observed by us so far south. The wind went down in the evening, and the 29th (Sunday) was tolerably calm. An officer, who had been on shore for some days engaged in tidewatching, returned in the evening, and brought me a specimen of a Cephalopod, of the genus Ommastrephes, but, unfortunately, in too bad condition to be worth preserving. The aspect of the weather on the morning of the 30th was of a very doubtful nature, so that we did not get under way early; but a certain amount of sounding was carried on during the latter part of the day. From this time till the 7th of January 1868, it blew so persistently that we could not make a move. The ship's company occupied a considerable amount of their spare time in fishing from the vessel, and caught several specimens of the large fish taken at the Gallegos river, as well as one or two individuals of a ray of considerable size, and numerous examples of the common British dog-fish, Acanthias vulgaris. Several good specimens of Sphyrion were met with on the ling-like fish, and two parasitic Isopodous Crustacea also occurred—one a Cirolana, apparently not distinct from C. hirtipes, and the other, which was elegantly tinted with bright purple around the edges of the segments, the Pterelas magnificus of Dana.
On the 7th heavy rain fell in the morning, but the remainder of. the day was fair and calm, and occupied in sounding on the Sarmiento Bank. The 8th† and 9th were also fine, and similarly employed; on the 10th there was a good deal of both wind and rain; and on the afternoon of the 11th we left the Strait for the Falkland Islands, to fill up with coal and provisions. The 12th was a lovely calm day, and we proceeded on our course most comfortably. We observed some very fine albatrosses, and a solitary penguin, which was progressing at a rapid rate by means of a series of flying leaps, presenting much the appearance of an animated beer-bottle. A breeze sprang up in the night from the N.N.E., and next morning we were rolling and pitching most unpleasantly. The direction of the wind caused us to keep to the south, instead of to the north, of the islands, as on the former occasion, and towards evening we got fairly under the lee of the land, and so went on our way more quietly. A thick mist, however, prevailed, so that it was not till ten A.M. on the 13 th that the land was made and our position ascertained. That day we kept up a good rate of speed under steam and sail, and not long after noon we entered Stanley Harbour, where we found H.M.S. “Narcissus” lying, she having arrived the day before. The aspect of the settlement did not strike us as more inviting than on our former visit, and as it was a showery afternoon but few of us went on shore. The following afternoon was devoted to a round of calls on the inhabitants of Stanley, and on the morning of the 16th (a rather pleasant day), I landed with Dr. Campbell, and had a long walk across the country to a bay situated to the south of the harbour, and not far from Port Harriett. We obtained some fine specimens of Callixene marginata and Oxalis enneaphylla in flower, and in the more boggy localities a small species of sundew, the Drosera unifiora was very plentiful, although easily overlooked from its minute size and its occurrence among plants of Gaimardia, a low herb belonging to the order Desvauxiaceœ, which forms a large portion of the damp turf alike in the Falkland Islands and western part of the Strait of Magellan, and is readily recognised by the peculiar aspect of its shining somewhat triangular-shaped leaves. On the beach of the bay we observed numerous bones of Cetacea lying, and picked up a few sponges and some dried specimens of a very curious large Alga, the D'Urvillœa utilis, the fronds of which are formed of very large cells, transversely arranged so as to present a remarkable resemblance to honeycomb, particularly when in the dry state. On the l7th I walked with two companions to a stream of stones in the neighbourhood of the settlement, and found one or two plants that were not in flower at the time of our former visit—a pretty white-flowered Composite, the Chabrcea suaveolens, among the number. Before going on board we went to see a collection of penguins from various localities in the islands, collected by the Zoological Society's keeper Secante for the gardens. Five species were represented—, the King (Aptenodytes Pennanti), Jackass (Spheniscus Magellanicus), Gentoo (Eudyptes chrysocome), Macaroni (Pygoscelis Wagleri), and Rock-hopper (Eudyptes nigrivestis); and they formed a most amusing assemblage—some prancing up and down, with their little wings stuck out, with an air of bustle and infinite self-importance, some walking slowly up to us, and gazing at us with solemn curiosity, while others remained stationary and apparently lost in thought.
† On the 8th, shortly after noon, we ran on a rock on the Sarmiento Bank, not laid down in any of the charts, and stuck on the top of it for about an hour, being released when the tide rose. Comparatively little damage was fortunately, sustained.
Of these species the Rock-hopper (Eudyptes nigrivestis) is perhaps the most common at the Falkland Islands; and two large “Rookeries,” as they are termed, of these birds occur not very far from Stanley—one at Kidney Island, on the southern side of the entrance to Berkeley Sound, and the other at Sparrow Cove, off Port William. Circumstances did not, to my regret, permit of my visiting either of these, but I extract the following short account of that at Sparrow Cove from Captain Mayne's Journal:—
The rookery was in a sort of small cove, the sides of which, though not perpendicular, were very steep, and about 100 feet high; the entrance to the cove was narrow and steep, with rugged bluff rocks on either side, the whole making a kind of rugged amphitheatre, with water for the pit. All the sides were rugged, with projecting knobs of rocks jutting out in all directions, and every part of the whole of this was covered with penguins. My estimate of the number was the lowest made, and I guessed it at 20,000; but there might have been any number between that and 50,000 or 60,000.
On the 21st I walked with a companion to Mount William, a remarkable rugged hill eight hundred feet high, about five miles distant from Stanley. The upper part of the Mount is formed of a mass of gray quartz lichen-incrusted strata, inclined at a very high angle, and broken into great fragments apparently by some subterraneous upheaval; and streams of stones flow down the sides. The summit commands a very wide view of the East Falkland, and we thus gained an excellent idea of the characteristic desolate scenery; deep inlets, wide plains, and rugged hills; quartz cropping out everywhere, in some places in broken ridges like the spinous processes of the vertebral column of some huge buried animal, the combined effect reminding one of old pictures of the appearance of the earth immediately after the deluge. In a crevice in the rocks we found some good specimens of a fern, Aspidium mohrioides, which had previously occurred to us in the Strait, and lower down on the liill the pretty little Rubus (Dalibarda) geoides was plentiful. This plant, one of the few South American species of its genus, the Falkland Island strawberry of the colonists, has long slender trailing stems, with small shining green leaves, and white or pale pink flowers, succeeded by deep red fruits about the size of a large raspberry, and possessed of a very pleasant flavour. In addition to the Falkland Islands, it is plentiful throughout the damp region of the Strait, and along the west coast of Patagonia. Chiloe was the northernmost locality where I observed it, but possibly it may range as far as Valdivia.
On the 24th I had a long walk to a bay beyond the harbour visited by me on the previous year. I again found many great branches of Lessonia, clothed with lesser Algse, lying about, and the tide having fallen considerably I observed numerous fine specimens of another large sea-weed, the D'Urvillœa Harveyi, growing in forests on the rocks. The strong cylindrical stem in most cases presented the appearance of being sunk in a kind of socket in the great solid sucker-like root. The fronds, unlike those of D. utilis, which also occurred, but more sparingly, did not present a honeycombed arrangement of cells.
Having filled up with coal and provisions, we left Stanley Harbour on the morning of the 28th, and as, in consequence of an arrangement entered into with the Admiral on board the “Narcissus,” it had been settled that we should leave a party from that ship in Falkland Sound, between the East and West Islands, to recover a cargo of copper from a wreck, we steamed for the northern entrance of the Sound, carrying with us a large deck-cargo, composed of boats and other gear belonging to the wreck party. The day was at first misty and drizzling, but gradually improved, and the afternoon and evening were fine. We entered the Sound in the course of the afternoon, and were agreeably surprised by finding the scenery on either side of a considerably more attractive character than that in the neighbourhood of Stanley—the land presenting a less barren appearance, and the groves of tussac-grass, which here we saw for the first time in luxuriance, imparting a pleasing shade of green to the landscape, the quiet evening light also contributing to “lend enchantment to the view.” It was dead calm, a rare phenomenon in these parts, when we anchored for the night at Swan Island, not far from the Tyssen group, close to which the wreck was situated. Soon after we came to a halt one of the men brought me two specimens of a Myxine, of the same species previously taken in the Strait, which he had caught on a line. Next morning we moved on to the Tyssen Islands, only a few miles from our last night's position. We had had the dredge over during the night, and hauled it in before we shifted, but with poor results, a Terebratula and a small Natica being almost the sole proceeds obtained. A female dog-fish (Acanthias vulgaris) was caught by one of the men, and on being opened, three live young ones, each with the yolk-bag attached, were found in the interior, and when released swam actively about in a basin of water.
Early in the forenoon a number of us landed on the largest island of the group, which the wreck party had selected as their head-quarters for the month or six weeks which they expected to spend in solitude. This island was, I should think, about a mile or a mile and a half long, and was girdled with a broad belt of tussac. In walking along the beach I observed that rocks of clay-slate appeared to be the principal formation, and I did not notice any vestiges of quartz. Fragments of several common Strait shells, including Voluta Magellanica, Mytilus Magellanicus, Chione exalbida, etc. etc., were profusely scattered about, but as I found nothing of a novel or interesting description, I soon forsook the shore for the high ground above it. This was the first opportunity that I enjoyed of visiting a tussac grove, and it made a most striking impression on my mind as I wended my way along the narrow winding natural pathways between the separate clumps of grass, the leaves of which waved high overhead in graceful curves. The average height of the plants I should estimate as between ten and twelve feet, while the mass of roots belonging to each varied from a foot to a foot and a half in height by two to three feet in diameter. Among the roots jackass penguins had formed their burrows in numbers, and as we walked through the groves we were accompanied by numerous individuals of a little dusky-brown bird, the Opetiorhynchus antarcticus, which, when we sat down, came quite close to us, being even more familiar than our English robin, a specimen on one occasion lighting on one of the sportsmen who was lying in wait for geese, and hopping about over him in the most unconcerned manner. The military starling was also common, and hardly less tame. After a time I ascended to the summit of the island through a gap in the tussac, meeting with specimens of a very stout tall-growing Carex, and several Compositæ, and finding the Falkland Island tea-plant, Myrtiis nummularia, and Rubus geoides, covering the surface of the ground for yards, the beautiful red fruits of the latter half buried in the moss of the soil. On a patch of ground which appeared to have been burnt, Senecio vulgaris occurred in great profusion, undoubtedly, I should suppose, introduced, but by what agency it is not easy to form an opinion.
The tameness of the birds, in general, was most remarkable. The brown skua gulls (Lestris antarcticus), of which there were numbers, flew about us, uttering their harsh, scolding cries, and several times, when walking by myself, they swooped at me in such a menacing manner that I was obliged to make them keep their distance by striking at them with my stick. The common brown duck of the Strait swam in flocks close to the beach, and the kelp geese (Chloephaga antarctica) were almost equally bold. The upland geese (Chloephaga Magellanica) were plentiful, and allowed the sportsmen to approach within a few yards of them without taking alarm, and a pair which I disturbed in one spot ran along in front of me without taking the trouble to fly off. I observed several specimens of a large owl, and two species of hawks, one a dark-coloured bird, which I had not seen in the Strait, the other coloured much like a kestril, but about twice the size of that bird. One of the latter flew about so close to me that I threw my stick at it once or twice, and on one of these occasions it coolly lighted on the missile as it fell to the ground. I have already, I think, remarked on the much greater tameness of certain species of birds at the Falkland Islands, as compared with the same kinds in the Strait, a circumstance which, perhaps, may be partially accounted for by the greater scarcity of foxes in the former locality.
On the afternoon of this day great numbers of the smaller Lithodes of the Strait (L. verrucosa) were taken by the men, and I found that at least nine-tenths of them were males. A few specimens of another Crustacean, for long known as an inhabitant of the Falkland Islands, the Eurypodius Latreillii, were also obtained. Three other species of the same genus—the B. septentrionalis, E. brevipes, and E. Audouinii—were procured by me in various localities in the Strait of Magellan and western coast of Patagonia; and it would not require a naturalist to be deeply imbued with Darwinism to believe that all four species were originally derived from a common stock.
The following morning (30th) the Argentine captain of a small sealing schooner,§ then at the Tyssen Islands, Don Luis Piedra Buena, presented me with a fine specimen of a King penguin (Aptenodytes Pennanti) from Staten Land, which had died on board his ship the night before, as well as with some beautiful casts of fossil univalve shells, apparently Turritellce, from a deposit on the banks of the Santa Cruz river, on the east coast of Patagonia. Don Luis is a most intelligent, well-informed man, and I had much interesting conversation with him about the regions with which he was familiar. One of our number who was on shore on this day shot a fine male specimen of the night-heron (Nycticorax obscurus) previously observed in the Strait. Having seen the wreck party comfortably established on shore, we weighed about four P.M. and proceeded on our way through the Sound; but as, on nearing the southern entrance, we found that the weather had assumed a threatening aspect, the barometer falling rapidly, and the wind against us, we anchored in Pox Bay in the West Falkland Island between seven and eight P.M.
§ Schooner Espora, previously named Nancy.
The 31st was a most beautiful day, but as the wind continued still unfavourable we remained at anchor, and a party of us landed in the morning to explore the neighbourhood. On the beach I obtained a very curious snow-white dried sponge, resembling at first sight a mass of bone with large cancellge. On the green sloping banks above the shore I found flowering specimens of two Orchids (species of Chlorœa), which I had not met with in the Strait, as well as of two familiar British plants, Senecio vulgaris and Sonchus oleraceus; and in ascending a hill I came across numerous fine clumps of the Balsam-bog, so compact in their structure that I could jump on the top of them without leaving the print of my feet. As the day was warm the balsam was exuding abundantly from the plants in large milky tears, which on drying changed to an ochreous tint. From the summit of the hill (846 feet according to the chart) I gained an extensive view of the country around, which was more interesting in its general appearance than those parts of the East Falkland Islands which I had previously seen, the hills being higher and less barren-looking, and numerous patches of fresh water of considerable size being scattered about, while various small streams ran down in the hollows between the hills towards the beach, which was fringed with patches of tussac. I was in hopes of meeting with specimens of the Falkland Island box, (Veronica decussata), but was disappointed. The geese and ducks were so tame that many fell a prey to the sportsmen, and a fine buzzard (Buteo erythronotus) was also shot while busily employed in feeding on one of the victims. Late in the afternoon, while waiting for our boat, we indulged in a vegetable diet of wild celery and tussac, and were not surprised at the partiality evinced by cattle for the latter, as the base of the culm is crisp and succulent, with an agreeable flavour, resembling that of a hazel-nut. Nearly all the rocks on the beach in this locality, I may remark, were of a finely laminated sandstone, a rock not observed by us in other localities visited in these islands.
The morning of the 1st of February was bright and sunny, with but little wind, but that little, unfortunately, not in our favour. We left the bay, and proceeded onwards under steam, skirting along the south-eastern coast of the West Falkland Island, and passing not far from the entrance of Port Edgar and Port Albemarle. Arrived opposite Cape Meredith, we took our departure from the land, shaping a W.S.W. course. As we moved on very quietly, I devoted the day to a most unpleasant task, the skinning of the King penguin given me two days before. The mere process of removing and cleaning the skin of so large and oily a bird occupied so much time, that I had but little leisu.re to bestow on its anatomy. One very curious point noticed, however, was a very complex arrangement in connection with the tips of the quills of the feathers. As a rule, the tip of each feather (which projected on the inner side of the skin) was provided with six whitish radii, probably formed of involuntary muscular fibre, and the base of the angle between each radius was closed by another narrow band, so that each feather formed the central point of a hexagon, and possessed six muscular or ligamentous bands proper to itself and six common to the neighbouring feathers. The breadth of the scapulse (fully an inch) was also very noteworthy.
During the night the wind freshened ahead, while the barometer fell, and by the morning of the 2d it was blowing hard from the south-westward, and we steamed on our way very uncomfortably. The 3d was a fine bright day, and the sea had gone down considerably. The wind fell at about 11 A.M. and then backed to the N.W. At 3.30 A.M. on the 4th Cape Virgins was sighted, and we entered the Strait rather more than an hour later, anchoring under the outer side of Dungeness at half-past five A.M. It blew hard during all that day, and throughout the 5th, 6th, and 7th, and we began heartily to wish that we were done with this portion of the Strait, and rejoiced in the prospect of going west later in the season, not fully realising the unpleasantness of the almost perpetually rainy weather which we would there be called on to encounter. Some fish were caught on the 6th, and among them several individuals of a species which we had not previously obtained.
I preserved a small specimen which had a Siphonostomous Crustacean of the genus Chondracanthus attached to the roof of its mouth; and a careful examination of it in the beginning of the present year, with the valuable assistance of Dr. Güinther, proved it to be the Merluccius Gayi of Guichenot, a species of hake very imperfectly described in Gay's Historia Fisica de Chili.
The 8th was a bright, sunny day, with only occasional gusts of wind, and Captain Mayne took advantage of the improvement in the weather to land on Dungeness Spit, with one of the surveying officers, to obtain sights. On their return, they brought me some fine specimens of a beautiful vetch, the Lathyrus Magellanicus, which I had not seen previously, and which would appear to be rare in the Strait. It came on to blow at night from the north-east, but the wind died away before the morning of the 9th, leaving a heavy swell behind it. On the morning of the 10th it was again blowing, but the wind gradually fell, so that we were able to weigh early in the afternoon, and proceed out to the Sarmiento Bank, where we spent the remainder of the day in sounding, anchoring on the bank at 8.30 P.M. It was blowing pretty hard during the greater part of the night, but by the morning of the 11th it was again calm, and a good day's work accomplished, the Sarmiento Bank being finished, and some lines of soundings in addition run between Cape Espiritu Santo and Catherine Point. In the evening we anchored off the Point, and for the next three days it blew too hard to permit of our moving. The 15th was occupied in sounding Lomas Bay on the Fuegian coast, and in the evening we crossed over to Dungeness Spit, and there anchored.
Captain Mayne having by this time determined on proceeding to Sandy Point, where it seemed probable that letters were awaiting us, resolved to leave an officer on shore near Mont Dinero, on the Patagonian coast, for the purpose of taking a series of magnetic observations during the absence of the ship, and I gladly availed myself of the permission to accompany him if I were so disposed. We therefore left the vessel early on the afternoon of the 16th, with the intention of landing opposite the Mount, and there pitching our camp. As we, however, found on approaching the locality that there was too much surf on the beach to permit of our landing there with safety to the delicate instruments in charge, we pulled back to Dungeness, and there entered a curious winding creek like a river, which being land-locked has always smooth water in it. Close to this the tents were pitched for the day, and we set out on a walk in the direction of Cape Virgins, watching with much amusement the gambols of the sea-lions in the water. On our return to camp in the evening, we dined, and a few hours later turned in to prepare for an early start next morning. On the 17th, we rose at half-past one A.M., and after a rapid breakfast the gear was packed into the boat; and when we had pulled to the entrance of the creek, sail was hoisted, and we set off to our destination in the dim moonlight. The land, seen in indistinct shadow in the uncertain light, had a strange ghostly effect, and the experience was altogether a memorable one. Occasionally we disturbed flocks of gulls sleeping peacefully in the water, and they flew off in great confusion. By-andby a faint yellow streak began to make its appearance on the eastern horizon, and the light gradually stole in till we had a fine red sunrise. We reached the spot fixed upon soon after five A.M., landing without difiiculty, and pitched our tents on a smooth flat space of ground between two hillocks, and close to a small stream of excellent fresh water, a rather scarce commodity in eastern Patagonia. I spent the day principally in roaming about in search of specimens, but met with very little that was new to me, with the exception of a curious little Umbelliferous plant which I found growing in pools of water mixed up with the tufts of an aquatic mass. â€¢ This was the Crantzia lineata, which also occurs in the Falkland Islands, North America, Australia, and New Zealand.
On the morning of the 18th, while we were at breakfast in the tent, one of the men communicated the somewhat startling intelligence that there were “comets flying all round the tents,” and on our emerging to contemplate the phenomenon in question, we beheld seven or eight huge condors sailing about in the air at some distance over-head, apparently on the look-out for what they could pick up. After this they were our daily companions, and I several times noticed with interest that when they were flying at no great height, the sound produced by the air passing between their huge primary and secondary wing-feathers, which are widely separated during flight, presented an almost exact resemblance to the musical tones emitted by telegraph-wires in certain states of the atmosphere.
Our life on shore passed very pleasantly, though without much variety, as we had bright sunny weather, which allowed us thoroughly to appreciate the pleasures, by no means small, of camping out. On the 2 2d, the ship was observed sounding in Lomas Bay, and we thought of striking our tents and embarking for Dungeness, there to wait her arrival, but the wind arose, and produced such a heavy surf on the beach, that we judged it prudent to remain where we were. The wind, however, fell in the evening, and next morning we rose at an early hour, and after some trouble in getting the boat through the surf, hoisted sail, and proceeded to Dungeness, where we found the “Nassau” lying at anchor. We found that a large supply of letters and papers had been obtained at Sandy Point, where many changes had taken place since our last visit; a new governor, Don Oscar Viel, having come down from Chili, and a large detachment of emigrants having arrived from the island of Chiloe.
The 24th was a perfectly calm day, and we crossed over to Lomas Bay in the morning. Tour boats were despatched to sound, but heavy rain setting in about noon gradually put a stop to the work by concealing the land from view. The following day was spent in Lomas Bay; and on the 26th, after spending some time in sounding off the Orange Bank, we passed through the first Narrows (our transit being a very tedious one, as the tide was against us), and anchored in the evening in St. Jago Bay. On the morning of the 27th we moved on to Gregory Bay, and there anchored for a few hours, which allowed of a ramble on shore, in the course of which I collected a few plants, including an aquatic one, the Myrioplyllum [sic, Myriophylum] elatinoides, previously known from the Falkland Islands. We got under way again before noon, and went through the second Narrows, dropping one of the boats oft Beckett Harbour to execute some soundings, and then proceeding over to Sta. Magdalena to leave a party there. It was a splendid calm afternoon when we reached the island, and when we anchored to drop the boats the scene around us was of a most striking character. The island stood out sharp and clear in the early evening light, with its cliffs white with seabirds, and the beach covered with sea-lions, while in the water around the ship hundreds of seals were disporting themselves, leaping high out of the water, their bodies bent as usual in a bow-shaped curve. After leaving the boats we moved on to Sandy Point, which we did not reach till after dark; sending up a rocket to attract attention, and burning a blue light to ascertain our exact position. When we landed next morning we found various improvements being energetically carried out in the settlement, under the superintendence of the recently appointed governor; and the noise of the axes of the emigrants was to be heard breaking the silence of the woods. A few parrots and one or two other birds were shot, and I obtained specimens of a viscid yellow-flowered Composite, a species of Madia, found in the previous season in Fuegia. The following day, which was very fine, a party of us, consisting of Captain Mayne and three of the officers, with myself, landed early, and after breakfasting with the governor, rode out with him to look at the deposit of coal. The woods through which we passed were in great beauty, the foliage of the greater number of the trees appearing of a vivid green in the bright sunlight; while here and there, where the river had lately overflowed its banks, groups of trees, the base of whose trunks was buried in a deposit of sand and clay, had assumed prematurely autumnal tints of yellow, brown, and red.
We remained at Sandy Point till early on the morning of the 2d of March, when we returned to Sta. Magdalena to pick up the boats left there. The officers, on coming on board, brought me a fine specimen of a sheathbill (Chionis alba), and one of a skua gull (Lestris antarctica). We anchored off the island that evening, and as next morning it was raining heavily, we did not get under way till nearly eleven A.M., when we went slowly over to Laredo Bay to pick up the boat left at Peckett Harbour. The 4th was a magnificent day. The ship was employed in sounding on the Fuegian coast, and between five and six P.M. she anchored at the entrance of Gente Grande Bay, inside Quartermaster Island. Immediately thereafter a large party landed on the low spit, which, as I have earlier mentioned, occurs at the northern extremity of the island. As we stepped on shore we noticed the onl} specimen of a kelp-goose (Chloephaga antarctica) ever seen by us in the eastern part of the Strait; and I found the steep bank leading from the spit np to the high ground covered with plants of Arabis Madcloviana gone to seed. The cormorants were, if possible, more numerous than on our visit in 1867, and on being disturbed rose into the air in thousands, raising a thick cloud of dust, which had a most powerful odour of guano. It was curious to observe that, though of the same species with those observed at Sta. Magdalena, the nests were not so carefully constructed or so regularly grouped. A few young birds were encountered, clothed with blackish down, and unable to fly, but which ran very fast, sometimes tumbling over the nests. One of them, in its hurry to escape my pursuit, soused itself in a pool of black mire, and emerged in a draggled and forlorn condition. Skua gulls were abundant, though not so noisy or so fierce as those which we encountered at the Tyssen Islands, and geese were plentiful, but very shy. A considerable number of bandurrias were also observed, and a few specimens shot. We returned to the ship in the moonlight, about eight P.M., to a late dinner.
The 5th was another beautiful day. We left our anchorage between seven and eight A.M., and proceeded along the Fuegian coast southward of Gente Grande Bay. Soon after breakfast I had an opportunity of accompanying a couple of the surveying officers on shore at Gente Point. A party of seven Fuegians, accompanied by several dogs, were assembled on a low hillock close to the beach, but decamped as we approached the land in our boat, much to my disappointment, as I was very anxious to hold intercourse with this tribe, which, as I have earlier stated in the course of this narrative, appears to be very distinct from those occurring to the westward. We found the ground close to the beach tunnelled with the burrows of the Ctenomys; and near the hill a great number of shells of limpets, Fissurellœ, and mussels, on which the Fuegians had evidently been recently regaling themselves, were accumulated. While the others were engaged in taking a round of angles, I visited three shallow patches of salt water in the neighbourhood. I found that the Fuegians had crossed one of these, and I measured several of their footprints left in the clay at the edge of the water. These were very broad across the toes, and narrow at the heel, the largest being about eight inches and three-quarters in length, while the smallest measured only seven inches. Three Fuegian dogs wandered about in our vicinity, barking and howling dismally. The first was much like a fox in size and general appearance, and of a reddish-gray colour; the second had a piebald smooth coat, with drooping ears; while the third was clothed with long dark brownish-black hair, had erect ears, and presented a marked resemblance to a small wolf. As usual, I made a collection of the plants of the locality, obtaining, among others, two yellow-flowered species of Senecio, Homoianthus echinulatus, Empetrum rubrum, Armeria maritima, a species of Hordeum, the Eritrichium found at Sta. Magdalena and other localities, and Phacelia circinata, a plant common in the neighbourhood of Sandy Point. The dredge yielded in this locality a fine orange-coloured sea-cucumber, about three inches long; several specimens of Galathea subrugosa, and a curious Isopod of the genus Cymodocea, which, believing it to be new, I have named C. Darwinii. In the afternoon I landed on another part of the coast, nearly opposite Sandy Point, and obtained specimens of Geum Magellanicum, a yellow Sisyrinchium, etc. Here, as in the former locality, the burrows of the Ctenomys abounded, and probably this is nearly the southernmost boundary of the animal. We anchored early in the evening off Sandy Point, and next day there was such a heavy swell on the beach that we could not land; while heavy rain fell, as if to prepare us for the experience we were shortly to be called upon to encounter in the west.
Our work to the north-eastward of Sandy Point was now concluded; and as, owing to the amount of sounding necessitated at the eastern entrance of the Strait, our stock of fuel was running low, Captain Mayne determined on proceeding northwards by easy stages to the island of Chiloe, on the west coast of the continent, whither a vessel had been appointed to meet us with the necessary supplies in the beginning of April. Accordingly, between four and five P.M. on the 9th of March, we bid farewell to the settlement for the season, and proceeded south-westwards as far as Port Famine, where we anchored for the night, in the hope of procuring sights next day; but on the morning of the 10th, although it was fair, the sky was covered with a dull gray mantle, which held out no hopes of the sun being able to break through it, and we therefore continued on our westerly course, without having accomplished the desired object. In the course of the forenoon we encountered three canoes occupied with Fuegians, who, as usual, came alongside in the most noisy manner, shouting, grinning, laughing, and waving skins over their heads. The greater number were possessed of the customary short seal-skin cloaks, but one woman was totally naked. Several had ornamented their faces with coloured red or white lines, extending along the bridge of the nose, and one man had coloured his lank hair brickred with some pigment, which did not add to the charms of his appearance. Being anxious to pass on, we did not waste time in parleying with these people, and they did not attempt to follow us as we moved on. The day was fine, the character of the region considered, so that we were able to appreciate the magnificent scenery on either side of us as we passed along, and we reached Fortescue Bay at six P.M., too late to make it worth while to go on shore. Next morning we again moved onwards. Much rain fell during the day, but occasional bright gleams displayed various fine glaciers, and snowy mountain summits. We entered Playa Parda Cove about five P.M., and as there was still about an hour's daylight, two of the officers and I, having encased ourselves in mackintoshes and sea-boots, left the ship in the pouring rain, landing at the head of the harbour, and scrambling over the steep banks, close to where two fine cataracts came rushing tumultuously down the mountain-side. Our researches were rewarded with a considerable number of plants, some of which were well known to us, while others had apparently not been previously recorded from the Strait. The principal were a low tree with quinate green leaves, which I subsequently found in many localities to the westward, as well as throughout the Channels, and which appears to be a species of Panax or some allied genus; a Myrtaceous shrub, the Metrosideros stipularis, which seems not to have been observed previously to the south of the Chonos Archipelago, but which I subsequently ascertained to be extremely abundant on both sides of the western portion of the Strait, and throughout the Channels of western Patagonia, forming an elegant low tree, with a red bark, small dotted leaves, and pretty white flowers; Escallonia serrata, out of flower; Pernettya mucronata; Libocedrus tetragonus, here existing as a low shrub; Callixene marginata; Tapeinia Magellanica; Myrtus nummularia; a curious little Caltha, the C. dioneœfolia, which grows in low firm bright green clumps or bosses; Lomaria Magellanica; Gleichenia acutifolia; and two species of Hymenophyllum, H. tortuosum and H. pedinatum, the last of which had not been previously recorded to the south of the Chonos Archipelago, although it is very common in the western part of the Strait, and throughout the entire extent of the Channels.
Next morning (12th) we left Playa Parda, and proceeded westwards amid frequent showers of heavy rain, reaching Sholl Bay, on the western side of the southern extremity of Smyth's Channel, between three and four P.M. Here we anchored, and shortly after, landing with two of the officers, had a walk, or rather scramble, over the country in the neighbourhood, the aspect of which struck us as singularly gloomy and desolate, as seen under a sky black with thick clouds, which descended at short intervals in tremendous showers. The bay is bounded by a tract of low ground covered with a thick vegetation of stunted trees of evergreen beech, Winter's-bark, and Libocedrus tetragonus, together with a sprinkling of the Panax mentioned above, and a variety of low shrubs. Behind this stretches an extensive tract of elevated and boggy land, abounding in patches and tarns of fresh water, certain of which are united in chains by rapidly-flowing streams, and are large enough to merit the designation of small lakes; and this is in its turn succeeded by a range of steep, rugged, gray hills, with sharplydefined summits. We found that the whole surface of the country was drenched with moisture, a circumstance that made a strong impression on us at the time, but which we subsequently learned was the normal condition of the whole of the land bounding the western part of the Strait and Channels. In the course of a fatiguing scramble through the bushes and over the boggy ground, now and then sinking up to our knees in holes, we found that the vegetation was much the same as that at Playa Parda. On the shrub-covered ground Desfontainea and Philesia abounded, together with a variety of plants of humbler growth, including the two species of Hymenophyllum previously procured, Callixene marginata, Acœna pumila, Gaultheria antarctica, Myrtiis nummularia, Festuca Fuegiana, etc.; while the surface of the bogs was covered with a dense coating of Gaimardia, Caltha dionecefolia, and Astelia, together with species of Sphagnum and other mosses. The Astelia, a plant referred by some botanists to the Juncaceœ, and by others regarded as the type of a distinct order, is extremely abundant throughout the boggy country of the Channels and the western portion of the Strait. The flowers are white, about half-an-inch in diameter, and have a very pretty appearance when viewed en masse. In the pools of water a Juncaceous plant (Rostkovia) was abundant, and attracted our attention by its curious habit of growth, the leaves arising at regular intervals in single file from the creeping soboles, which intersect the pools in all directions, so as to divide them into a number of angular spaces. A single specimen of another plant, the Tetroncium Magellanicum, afterwards found in many other localities, was procured on this occasion. The evidences of animal life were scanty in the extreme. Among the few birds observed were examples of the common duck of the Strait, a hawk, a snipe, and a bluish-black bird, which appeared to be a coot or water-rail. On the beach I picked up a few dead shells, including a Volute, and some specimens of Apollon Kingii and Chione antiqua.
We left the shore between five and six P.M. to return to the ship, observing on the way a Fuegian canoe emerging from a creek not far off, which, shortly after we got on board, came alongside. It contained thirteen inmates, including men, women, and children, chattering, grinning, and shouting “tabac.” Their clothing was of seal or otter skins, sewn together so as to form cloaks worn with the hair innermost, reaching from the shoulders half-way down the thighs, and gathered in at the shoulders and lower part of the loins. They stooped very much, and in general had very protuberant abdomens, and the breasts of the women hung down in a remarkable manner. Their hair was cut short on the crown of their heads, but elsewhere was long and lank; and while they appeared to have no traces of whiskers, a few black bristles were to be seen on their chins and upper lips. The eyes were dark, the sclerotic had a decidedly yellow tint, and the conjunctiva of most of the adults was very red and inflamedlooking, the result of the smoke. Their teeth were not by any means so good as those of the Patagonians. As usual they possessed a smouldering fire of green wood in the bottom of the canoe, on a bed of clay. They did not appear to be at all suspicious of us, and on our signing to them to come on board, the three men of the party at once climbed up the side of the vessel. It was interesting to notice the variety of physiognomy presented by the three, the youngest of whom had a very pleasant, intelligent countenance, and appeared very good-humoured, smiling and laughing perpetually. All three exhibited much curiosity about the various fittings of the ship. They knew one or two English words, requesting “pipe” from us, and remarking, on feeling the heat coming up from the engine-room, “fire.” They appeared greatly amused by seeing the reflection of their faces in the chartroom windows. We were much struck with their talent for mimicry, as they repeated English words and short sentences with the utmost accuracy. This property is possessed by all these people, and constitutes the great source of difficulty to be encountered in attempting to learn anything with regard to their language. We frequently, on subsequent occasions, pointed to various articles, naming them in English, in the hope that they would give them the equivalent appellation in their tongue, but generally quite in vain, as they would merely repeat what we had said, with the greatest exactness. This party left us after spending about an hour on board, returning to a spot on the beach where we had noticed some rude beehive-shaped wigwams, formed of boughs stuck into the ground in a circle, with their upper ends bent inwards and fastened together in the centre so as to form a frame-work, which is temporarily roofed in, when in use, with green branches.
As during this and the ensuing season we had various interviews with these people, it may be well here to offer a few remarks on the little that is known regarding them; and I may state at the outset that I think there can be no manner of doubt that, though occurring on the west coast of Patagonia, they form a branch of the Fuegian race, resembling the other tribes to be met with farther south both in their language and mode of life. They extend throughout the Channels from the Gulf of Peñas [sic, Penas] to the Strait of Magellan, where they appear to be replaced by a closely allied tribe, the “Pecheray” Indians of voyagers. Fitzroy, when in command of the well-known survey of the southern parts of South America, in which Mr. Darwin was associated with him as naturalist, did his best to collect all the information that was available to him concerning the aborigines of Patagonia and Fuegia, and has methodised it in two interesting chapters§ in his valuable narrative of the “Beagle's” cruise. He there recognises six tribes, all of which appear to belong to the Fuegian stock, and these he names the Yacana, the Tekeenica, the Alikhoolip, the Huemul, the Pecheray, and the Chonos or Channel Indians. To the Yacana, or inhabitants of the northern portion of the large eastern island of Tierra del Fuego, I have had occasion to refer several times, in the account of our work in the eastern part of the Strait; and I would merely reiterate the remark that they appear to be a very distinct tribe from any of those encountered by us to the westward, inhabiting a district similar in its climate, features, and productions, to the plains of Eastern Patagonia, and resembling the Patagonians in their stature, dress, and general mode of life. The second tribe, or Tekeenica, are natives of the southeastern portion of Fuegia, according to Fitzroy, who states that they are “low of [sic, in] stature, ill-looking, and badly proportioned;” that “their colour is that of old mahogany, or rather between dark copper and bronze;” and that “their rough, coarse, and extremely dirty black hair, half hides, yet heightens, a villanous expression of the worst description of savage features.”
§ FitzRoy wrote three (not two) chapters about the aborigines:
It is, I believe, to the civilising and christianising of this tribe in especial, that the philanthropic efforts of the South American Mission, under the superintendence of the Reverend Mr. Stirling, now Bishop of the Falkland Islands, have been hitherto chiefly directed; and that their labours have been attended with a wonderful amount of success, the interesting reports from time to time published by that mission place beyond a doubt, affording a striking proof that there is no nation, however low in the scale, upon whom the truths of Christianity may not be brought to bear with the most admirable result. Avoiding the errors of their predecessors in the same field, the agents of the mission no longer, if I am not mistaken, endeavour to civilise these people in their native regions, but transport them to a station which they have established in Keppel Island, one of the smaller members of the Falkland group, where the drier and generally more favourable climate permits, to a certain degree, of the cultivation of the soil. The third tribe, or Alikhoolip, according to Fitzroy, occur to the westward of the Tekeenica, between the western part of the Beagle Channel and the Strait of Magellan; and he observes that they are the stoutest and hardiest of the southwestern tribes, resembling the Tekeenica in general appearance, but superior to them. To a tribe met with between the Otway and Skying [sic, Skyring] waters, but whose name he could not learn, Fitzroy gave the name of “Huemul,” for the rather unsatisfactory reason that they possessed “many skins of a kind of roebuck,” which is said to be the animal described by Molina as the Huemul. The fifth tribe, or Pecheray, are inhabitants of both sides of the western part of the Strait of Magellan. We had frequent opportunities of observing them, in addition to the inhabitants of the Channels; and I think most of us were agreed that, with the exception of their canoes being constructed of five pieces of bark instead of five planks, as is generally the case with those of the Channel Indians, and that they were upon the whole more degraded and repulsivelooking than those people, there was nothing to distinguish the two tribes in a marked manner, their language and mode of life being much the same.
Of the numbers of these tribes it would be very difficult to form anything like an accurate estimate, owing to their wandering habits. Fitzroy estimates the Tekeenica as 500, the Alikhoolip as 400, the Pecheray as 200, the Huemul as 100, and the Channel Indians as 400; but as he does not furnish us with the data necessary for arriving at these conclusions, they may be considered as but of very doubtful value. None of the tribes encountered by us appeared to have any fixed place of habitation, but travelled about in their canoes from place to place, in search of the shell-fish which constitutes their principal diet. The Channel Indians have received the name of Chonos, from the belief that they form a remnant of the tribes once inhabiting the Chonos Archipelago, but driven out at the time of the Spanish conquest. This may very possibly have been the case, but I am not aware that there is any unimpeachable authority for the statement; and it appears to me more probable that the Channel Indians, in common with the other southern Fuegian tribes, have gradually migrated southwards at a much more distant period, in consequence of having been evicted from their original territory by more powerful aboriginal nations. Of the beliefs and ceremonial rites of these people our knowledge is very limited. Fitzroy states, on the authority of Mr. Low, a sealing captain, who had much intercourse with the Channel Indians, that they are “by no means without ideas of a superior Being. They have great faith in a good spirit, whom they call Yerri Yuppon, and consider to be the author of all good; him they invoke iu time of distress and danger. They also believe in an evil spirit, called Yaccyma, who they think is able to do all kinds of mischief, cause bad weather, famine, illness, etc.; he is supposed to be like an immense black man.” He also informs us that, according to Mr. Low, they appear to have regular places for depositing their dead, caves being sometimes made use of for the purpose. I greatly regret that, despite a most diligent search for Indian graves in all those localities visited by us, I never succeeded in meeting with any, either of those of the Channel or the Magellanic tribes. The latter are said to carry the corpses of their deceased friends a long way into the woods, where they lay them upon broken boughs or pieces of solid wood, and then pile a great quantity of branches over them. This, according to Fitzroy, is the course pursued alike by the Tekeenica, Alikhoolip, and Pecheray.
For more minute information regarding the manners and customs of these people, I must refer the reader to Fitzroy's interesting narrative, as well as to the reports of the South American Mission.
On the morning of the 13th of March the survey of Sholl Bay, begun on the afternoon of the previous day, was designed to have been carried on, but tremendous rain fell without intermission throughout the day, with occasional furious squalls by way of variety, and we were all confined to the ship, where we felt rather rueful as to our prospects, for though we had heard various reports of the rainy character of the region where our work for some time to come lay, we had not pictured anything quite so bad, or so utterly dreary, as we were now encountering. We had no awning at this time, and it was therefore almost impossible to take exercise on deck, as clothes once wet in this climate are not easily dried on board ship; and we looked back with a decided feeling of regret to the dry and sunny, albeit windy weather, of which we had such a long experience in the east. Matters were, however, considerably improved on the 14th, for though heavy showers fell throughout the day, there were some brief intervals of watery-looking sunshine. The Indians paid ns a second visit in the forenoon, and remained some time, walking about the deck, and taking very careful note of everything they saw, but without helping themselves to anything. The women left in the canoe were very clamorous for “Galleta” (ship-biscuit), endeavouring to make us understand that they wanted it for their children. One boy, about ten years old, was exceedingly observant and intelligent, and would have proved, I have no doubt, a most promising subject for education. They were greatly amused with two little pigs which we had on board, and which were let out of their den on this occasion, running after them, trying to catch hold of them, and giving vent to peals of the most hearty merriment. One of the men was presented with a shirt, trousers, and a marine's old red jacket, by some of the ship's company, and walked up and down in his new attire with his hands in his pockets. Some of the women wore necklaces formed of numbers of a small shell, Margarita violacea, common in the Strait and Channels, strung together on fibres of sinew, and one of the men had a fragment of rock-crystal suspended round his neck, while another had a necklace formed of the bones of a bird's foot. Both sexes wore a narrow band, apparently formed of hide, round each ankle. In the afternoon a small party of us landed for a ramble, one of the officers taking his gun with him for the purpose of endeavouring to secure a specimen of a kelp-goose, Chloephaga antarctica, several of which were to be seen on the rocks about the bay. This beautiful bird, of which the adult male is snow-white, and the female nearly black, presenting a most striking contrast when standing together, we found common throughout the western part of the Strait, and on the west coast of the continent as far north as Chiloe. It never goes in large flocks, rarely more than five or six being to be seen in company at a time, and generally but a solitary pair to be observed on one spot. As a rule, we found them exceedingly wary, probably in consequence of being often disturbed by the Indians, who occasionally kill them. Their flesh is quite uneatable at most seasons of the year, owing to the nature of their food, which consists of Molluscs and other marine animals. On landing on this occasion, we in the first place walked for some distance along the edge of the beach, immediately above which extended a splendid hedge of an arbutus-like shrub, the Pernettya mucronata, which attained a height of upwards of eight feet, and was covered with little waxy-white, bell-shaped blossoms, as well as numerous bushes of Escallonia serrata nearly out of bloom. While we were thus engaged, a tiny humming-bird, Trochilus forficatus, made its appearance, flying about over the flowers, and seeming in strange contrast with the gloomy nature of the climate. We often saw specimens of it in the Channels subsequently; and I believe it extends to the southern extremity of Fuegia, while northwards, if I am not mistaken, it ranges as far as Peru—thus passing through every variety of climate, from an intensely humid cold region to a tropical one where rain hardly ever falls. On ascending to the higher ground in search of plants, we found many stout bushes of Metrosideros, which afforded us a shelter, not to be despised, during the occurrence of heavy showers. I found one or two additional ferns, species of Hymenophyllum, on this occasion, but, with this exception, met with nothing that was of a novel character.
The 15th was another day of very heavy showers, with now and then brief gleams of sunshine. Our Fuegian friends, this time no less than nineteen in number, again favoured us with their company, most of the adults coming on board, with the greater number of their children, and one bringing a rude axe to be sharpened on the ship's grindstone. They appeared to consider our custom of walking up and down the quarter-deck, two and two, as a most amusing proceeding, one of the women imitating the rhythm of the sound produced by our feet as we advanced and receded, and some of the men, after a time, following our example;—one old gentleman, blind of an eye, marching in front of Captain Mayne, who laid his hand on his shoulder, and gave him a slight shove to one side, an action which was immediately retaliated, apparently under the impression that it constituted part of the ceremony. The height of two of the men and two of the women was measured on this occasion, that of the former being found to be five feet six and five feet three inches, and that of the latter four feet ten and four feet seven. They did not appear nearly as tall as this, however, as nearly all of them were much bent, probably in consequence of their spending so much of their time in crouching round their fires. While the party were on board they moored their plank canoe alongside of the ship by means of a rope of plaited rushes (Bostkovid). One circumstance connected with them, which we were interested to observe, was, that though fond of tobaccosmoke, which they inhale till they almost lose consciousness, they do not appear to have yet acquired a predilection for intoxicating liquors, as one individual to whom a little rum was offered, on tasting it, spat it out with disgust. Coffee, on the other hand, met with great appreciation.
On the morning of the 16th, when the dredge was hauled in, two fine specimens of an elegant long-spined Echinocidaris, the E. Schythei of Philippi, afterwards obtained by us in several other localities, were procured. We left the bay early in the day, and proceeded northwards through Smyth's Channel. A more gloomy and desolate region than that through which we passed can hardly be conceived; intensely rugged rocks and low hills, sustaining no vegetation higher in the scale of life than lichens and mosses, on either side; beyond, savage gray mountains partially shrouded in mist; and above, a sky covered with a mantle of black clouds, which descended at short intervals in torrents of rain;—the whole combining to produce a most depressing influence on our feelings, and forcibly recalling to my remembrance Bunyan's famous description of the valley of the shadow of death. Between three and four P.M. we reached the Otter Islands,§ a group of small islets densely covered with a stunted vegetation composed principally of the evergreen beech, Winter's-bark, and “Cipres” (Libocedrus tetragonus), and there anchored for the night. Soon after I landed, and spent an hour on one of the islands, obtaining for the first time specimens of a curious little fern, with an undivided frond (Grammitis australis), which I subsequently met with in numerous localities in the Channels, and western portion of the Strait. It generally grows on the trunks of the trees in tufts, and its narrow fronds vary in size from two to five or six inches in length, by a sixth to a fourth of an inch in breadth. It is a very rare occurrence, I may here observe, throughout this region of almost perpetual rain, to find a tree which has not its bark almost entirely covered with lichens, mosses, Jungermanniœ, and ferns (Hymenophylleœ being the prevailing forms among the last mentioned); and the trees frequently grow so thickly together that we often, when on shore, walked considerable distances on the low branches and prostrate trunks at a height of several feet from the ground—an experience likewise recorded by the old navigator Sarmiento in his account of these parts.
On the beach of this island I picked up some dead valves of a large Pecten which I had not seen before, and which made me hope to procure live specimens in the dredge, but in this I was disappointed. We intended to have moved onwards on the l7th, but rain fell in torrents throughout the day, concealing the land from view to such an extent as would have rendered it very difficult, if not impossible, for us to thread our way through the various intricate passages which lay before us, and we accordingly remained at anchor. On the 18th the weather had greatly improved, rain falling but slightly; and though there was a very cloudy sky overhead, the sun occasionally shone out brightly for a few minutes, and we began to hope that the climate was not quite so bad as we had at first supposed. We left the Otter Islands in the morning, and passed northwards, entering the Sarmiento Channel, where, after a prolonged but unavailing search for a suitable anchorage, we halted in a small cove in Piazzi Island at six P.M., and there remained for the night. We passed through some very fine rugged scenery this day, noticing many remarkable mountain-peaks, and gaining a view for a short time of a magnificent glacier of great extent. Next morning we continued our northerly course, rain descending in floods without intermission during most of the day; and about five P.M. we anchored in Puerto Bueno, a fine harbour on the coast of the mainland in the northern part of the Sarmiento Channel. Here there were more signs of life than had been seen since we left Shell Bay, a good many steamer-ducks being startled on our approach, and a kingfisher observed flying about the harbour.
§ Otter Islands are seen in Frontispiece illustration.
The morning of the 20th, when we left this port, was fine, and a bright, clear, calm day followed, which allowed us fully to appreciate the glorious scenery on either side of us as we steamed onwards. The nearer hills rose sheer out of the water, clothed nearly to their summits with trees displaying a fine variety of shades of green, while the more distant had their peaks capped with snow; and the gorges of many were occupied by extensive glaciers, the dazzling white of whose upper surface contrasted finely with the splendid blue and green tints exhibited by the crevasses, and the general outline of some suggesting a stormy sea suddenly frozen into repose. Early in the day, as we approached the entrance of the Guia Narrows, a party of Indians paddled up to us in their canoe. There were five adults present, all of them apparently of the male sex, and they struck us as larger in stature, more muscular, and with plumper faces, than our friends at Sholl Bay. They had their faces painted red and white, and one had a cap seemingly formed of the white breast-plumage of a cormorant. Late in the afternoon we saw one or two miniature icebergs rising out of the water, and shortly before six P.M. we passed the entrance of a beautiful winding inlet, with snowy hills in the distance. As we did not succeed in finding a suitable anclforage, and the weather continued fine and settled, Captain Mayne decided on proceeding onwards all night. When the sun set, a sensation of sharp cold became most distinctly perceptible, and we glided quietly on our way through the still frosty night, the steep mountains on either side presenting a singular and ghostly appearance to the view.
Early next morning (21st) I was roused by hearing shouts from the look-out man, of “Ice on the starboard bow,” “ice on the port-bow, “ice right ahead,” repeated at short intervals, and presently the bows of the vessel came in contact with a large fragment with a force that made her shiver. A little later the officer of the watch sent to let me know that we were surrounded by masses of ice, and on going on deck the spectacle presented was very remarkable. We were now passing the entrance of Eyre Sound, and the water all around us was studded with large blocks of ice, some many yards in extent, derived from the glaciers of the Sound, and now illuminated by the beams of the rising sun, their submerged portions appearing of a vivid green tint, while those above the water were dazzling white. It was a fine frosty morning, followed by an even more beautiful day than the preceding, and we had an endless succession of the most lovely views of densely wooded islets, winding inlets, and snowy mountains. We noticed many ridges that were knife-like in their sharpness, and at one place a peak which presented almost an exact representation, on a smaller scale, of the famous Matterhorn. In the course of the forenoon several large whales were seen not far from us, one of which, when preparing to make a dive, lifted the characteristic tail-fin several feet out of the water. They were blowing vigorously, the sound produced, as usual, resembling a loud sigh. We also observed numerous seals gambolling about in the water, and a number of gulls, cormorants, and penguins, as wxll as a couple of vultures, perched on a low island. Between ten and eleven A.M. we anchored in Eden Harbour, at the head of Indian Reach, and immediately to the south of the English Narrows, to allow of sights being obtained; and two of the officers, with myself, at once landed for a ramble. We spent about an hour and a half on shore very pleasantly, the sun shining brightly and diffusing a wonderfully genial heat. We saw several humming-birds and kingfishers; and I was greatly interested by the discovery, on the part of one of my companions (Dr. Campbell), of a minute frog, striped with narrow longitudinal bands of purplish black and pale primrose yellow, and with the under surface of the feet of a pale vermilion colour† Several plants were also obtained for the first time, and among these a fine Coniferous tree of the tribe Taxineœ, the Podocarpus nubigenus, which I afterwards found to be common throughout the Messier Channel, as well as at Port Otway, in the Chonos Archipelago, and at Chiloe. Hitherto, I believe, it had not been met with to the south of the Chonos Archipelago. A second discovery was that of a curious little dwarf conifer, forming a low undershrub, with decumbent branches thickly covered with small scaly imbricated leaves, and which was extensively distributed over the low ground near the landing-place. I could not then succeed in finding any specimens in fruit, and did not know, till I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Philippi at Santiago about six months later, that it was the Lepidothamnus Fonki described by him from specimens obtained in the mountains of Yaldivia and the Chonos Archipelago, at a height of about 2000 feet. The following season I found that it was extensively distributed throughout the Channels, extending as far south as Mayne Harbour, in one of the Owen Islands (Sarmiento Channel). Owing, I suppose, to the difference of latitude in the Channels, it does not there appear to attain such an altitude, extending from the sea-level only to an elevation of 500 or 600 feet. It does not occur in the Strait of Magellan, and I did not observe it at Port Otway (peninsula of Tres Montes); but there I did not ascend to any considerable height. The male amenta are of a fine purplish plum-colour when fresh. A third novelty was the Mitraria coccinea, a shrub with a scandent habit, common in Chiloe and the Chonos Archipelago, but, I believe, not previously found south of the Gulf of Pefias. With its dark green, glossy, ovate-acute leaves, and scarlet tubular flowers, it presented a very beautiful appearance. Fuchsias and Despontaineas were also very plentiful, their bright-coloured blossoms illuminating the edge of the woods; and a variety of other plants were met with, one beautiful little moss, the Hypopterygium Thouini, specially exciting our admiration from the resemblance it bore to a miniature palm in its habit of growth—the branches, clothed with minute leaves of a most lovely green, spreading at right angles from a stem one to two inches high.
† This little creature aftenvards proved to be the type of a new genus, to which Dr. Günther has given the name of Nannophryne.—Proc. Zool. Soc. 1870, p. 401.
When the sight-party had accomplished their object, we weighed, and passed through the English Narrows at four P.M., anchoring in Halt Bay, a narrow cove surrounded by high steep hills, thickly covered with the usual vegetation. Immediately after a small party of us borrowed the ship's dingy, and set out on a cruise in the neighbourhood, landing on various islands and points of land. It was a perfectly still afternoon, and it has seldom been my lot to witness any scene more serenely beautiful than was afforded by the wooded hills bathed in sunlight, and the placid surface of the water, which reflected the blue sky with its delicate clouds, and the trees growing at its margin. The vegetation, we found, was very similar to that of Eden Harbour, being chiefly composed of Winter's-bark, evergreen beech, Libocedrus, and Metrosideros (which last is one of the few trees that, as a rule, has the bark free from parasitic Cryptogamia), together with fine specimens of Podocarpus nubigenus. A low tree, not observed previously, was tolerably abundant, and attracted our attention from the peculiar character of its pinnate leaves, the joints of the petiole of which were winged in a rhomboid manner. This was the Weinmannia trichosperma, one of the Cunoniœe, and common at Chiloe, where we afterwards saw it. Like other plants already mentioned, it does not appear to have been previously recorded south of the Chonos Archipelago. I also picked up the branch of another tree that was new to me, but of which I did not succeed in finding the owner on this occasion—namely, the Lomatia ferruginea, one of the Proteaceœ, common also at Chiloe, but also not previously recorded to the south of the Gulf of Peilas. The following season I traced it throughout nearly the entire extent of the Channels, though I did not observe it in the Strait of Magellan. In comparatively open spaces in the woods, Lomaria boryana was growing in the utmost luxuriance, presenting a striking resemblance to a dwarf palm or cycad; and many other Cryptogamia were met with, including, among others, a Hymenophyllum, with a long narrow deeply-cut hairy frond, which I had not seen before. Mytili (M. Chilensis) of large size abounded on the rocks, and were pronounced to be excellent by those who partook of them; and a few specimens of a small crab, the Trichodactylus granarius, afterwards found in great abundance at Chiloe, were also captured.
The 22d was another glorious day. We left our anchorage in the morning, and pursued our way through the Messier Channel, the perfectly calm surface of the water of which presented a lake-like appearance; while the mountains on either side rose sheer out of it, clothed with trees from the edge to a height of upwards of a thousand feet, with numerous cataracts rushing foaming down their sides, some appearing as threads of silver, while others were concealed from view by the thickness of the vegetation, till they poured their waters into the Channel. Shortly before noon a canoe was observed pulling off to us, and, as she drew near, we stopped to let her come alongside. Her occupants consisted of a woman, partially clothed, who steered; a man who had his head and part of his body whitened with some pigment, and whose attire consisted of an apron of goose-skin, and an old waistcoat which did not meet in front; two youths, who sat near the bows and paddled, one entirely destitute of clothing, and the other with a piece of cloth about a foot and a half square on his shoulders; a girl, apparently ill, wrapped up in seal-skins; a little child, and two dogs with erect ears and stiff wiry hair. They approached us with the usual noisy demonstrations, and were presented with some biscuit and tobacco, after which we moved on, while they paddled off to the wooded shore. We passed out of the Messier Channel into the Gulf of Pefias between five and six P.M., and the retrospect was very striking; the high rugged hills on either side of the entrance of the Channel, many of them of the most wild and fantastic forms, appearing like the portals of a gateway, and becoming flooded with a rich deep purple tint as the sun went down. On this day the unpleasant discovery was made that, owing to our supply of coal being much less than was supposed, we would be obliged to make the voyage to San Carlos, Chiloe, under sail alone. The screw was accordingly got up as soon as we were clear of the land, and soon after the wind headed us, and, as we encountered an extremely heavy swell towards the entrance of the gulf, and the vessel was very light owing to the small amount of coal, she pitched in a most unpleasant manner, prostrating, without loss of time, all those of our number who were liable to sea-sickness, as well as many who in general experienced a complete immunity from that malady.
Under these circumstances we made very little way during the 23d, and matters were but little improved on the 24th—the wind and swell continuing with unabated force, and causing us to roll about very uncomfortably in the trough of the sea, while albatrosses sailed about the vessel in numbers.
A favourable wind, however, sprang up at length soon after noon on the 25th, and freshened steadily, so that by eight P.M. we were making upwards of nine knots on our course. That night there was a magnificent display of phosphorescence. It was very dark, and, as the vessel sped on her way, she threw out from her bows broad waves flashing with light and sparkling with brilliant stars. On the 26th the wind gradually fell, and there was a very heavy swell; but by the morning of the 27th the sea had gone down, and it was nearly dead calm throughout the day, and beautifully bright and warm. A most remarkable spectacle was furnished by the flocks of albatrosses (Diomedea exulans), which were peacefully resting on the calm surface of the water around the ship. Though the appearance of these birds when on the wing is very fine, they look singularly awkward when swimming, their great heavy heads, and large strong beaks, suggesting a child's first attempts at drawing water-fowl. At one time about twenty of them were close astern of us, growling hoarsely as they fought over the garbage thrown overboard from time to time. Several were taken on baited lines, and hauled in with considerable difficulty, as they struggled most vigorously, aiming violent blows at their captors with their powerful pinions. Some disgorged what they had been feeding on, which consisted principally of large Cephalopods of the genus Ommastrephes or Loligo. I killed two specimens with the aid of chloroform, the skin of one of which I afterwards preserved, and several more were slaughtered by the ship's company for the sake of certain of their wing-bones (the radii) which are held in much esteem for pipe-stems. The largest captured measured ten feet nine inches in expanse of wing, while that which I preserved was somewhat smaller. Attached to the leg and pubic bone I found a well-defined superficial muscle, which does not exist in most of the swimming birds examined by me. Some beautiful Acalephse were observed in the water close to us, and we put over the towing-net to endeavour to secure specimens, but were obliged to haul it in again almost immediately, as the albatrosses made an assault on it, and nearly tore it to pieces.
Early on the morning of the 28th land was sighted, and about half-an-hour before noon we entered the port of San Carlos de Ancud, situated at the northern extremity of the island of Chiloe. We anchored at first off the town of Ancud, but in consequence of information received by Captain Mayne from the governor, to the effect that the anchorage was not accounted safe during the prevalence of certain winds, we removed some hours later to Punta Arenas, a much more sheltered position, about two miles further into the bay. The aspect of the surrounding country, as seen on that fine day, the first we were informed which the inhabitants of Chiloe had experienced during this season, was very attractive, there being a most agreeable mixture of woods and thickets, with cleared and cultivated patches here and there, surrounding dwellings, often built of a circular form, with high concavely-curved roofs, with projecting eaves, and which reminded one of the officers of houses seen by him in Japan. A party of us landed late in the afternoon, spending a couple of hours roaming about in the neighbourhood; and I was much delighted with the luxuriance of the vegetation, which was much more varied in its character than that of the Channels. The tide was high when we went on shore, and close to the edge of the water extended a thick hedge of shrubs, from twelve to fourteen feet high, composed of Fuchsias and Escallonias (E. macrantha), both in full flower, together with an arboreous grass, the Chusquea Quila, which recalled the clumps of bamboos with which we were so familiar at Rio. A little farther from the beach a variety of species of Myrtaceœ prevailed, some of them covered with snow-white blossoms; and a tall shrub or low tree (Citharexylon cyanocarpum), with spiny branches clothed with small glossy dark-green veined leaves, and bearing clusters of splendid bluish-purple berries, was also very abundant. Several species of Bromeliaceœ also occurred, communicating a semi-tropical aspect to the scene, and one of these (Bromelia bicolor) presented a most striking appearance with its large tufts of long radiating spiny-edged leaves, the outer of which are dark green, while the inner are brilliant red, as if they had been dipped in arterial blood, surrounding a dense mass of flowers, varying from bluish-white to turquoise blue. The large rhubarb-like leaves (sometimes more than a yard in diameter) and dense spikes of small orange-red fruits of the “panke” (Gunnera Chilensis) speedily attracted our attention; and we collected many other plants which were new to us, including Nertera depressa, which covered the surface of the damp ground in many spots with its prostrate creeping stems andbright red berries; and a variety of ferns, such as the little Asplenium trilobum, the wedge-shaped fronds of which were plentiful on the tree-trunks; a Goniophlebium, also a tree-parasite with large oblong brilliant orange sori, and an Asplenium (A. obtusatum), with very stout pinnate coriaceous fronds, which grew in clefts on the rocks close to the sea. Numbers of a little hummingbird (Trochilus forficatus) were flying about the flowers, and many hawks were observed perched on the branches of the trees, and giving vent to occasional harsh screams. The tide was too high to enable us to make a profitable examination of the beach, but we found the dead shells of several Molluscs which we had not previously encountered scattered about at highwater mark, together with fragments of a sand-burrowing Crustacean, the Eippa talpoides. We returned to the ship when the light failed us, finding those who had remained on board busily engaged in consuming oysters (Ostrea Chilensis s. cibialis) which abound in the port. It is a curious circumstance that Chiloe appears to be the only locality on the west coast of South America where this Mollusc occurs, and the more so, seeing that shells of an Ostrea abound in the recent tertiary beds of Patagonia and Chili.
The 29th was a beautiful day, a surprising circumstance, considering that we were in a climate where, according to a familiar saying of the inhabitants, it rains thirteen months out of the year. The atmosphere was very clear, enabling us to gain a splendid view of the snowy cone of Osorno, between 7000 and 8000 feet in height, together with the more distant Cordillera, which was also of a dazzling whiteness. It being Sunday we remained on board during the forenoon, and in the afternoon I landed with two companions, and had a very pleasant walk through the woods, which are formed of a considerable variety of trees, for the most part evergreens, and among which the Quillai (Quillaja saponaria), the bark of which, being rich in saponine, is extensively used as a substitute for soap, was one of the most prevalent. We observed some flowering specimens of an elegant species of barberry, the Berberis Darwinii, and were much delighted with the beauty of the ferns growing on the decaying trunks. Species of Hymenophyllum specially abounded; and we now saw for the first time the beautiful undivided frond of the Hymenophyllum cruentum, which we afterwards met with at Port Otway and in the Messier Channel, as well as the handsome IT. caudiculahcm, the frond of which occurred sometimes nearly a foot in length. Another fern belonging to a different tribe, the Lomaria aspera was common on the ground beneath the shrubs, and remarkable on account of the peculiarity of its habit, certain of the fronds lying flat along the surface of the soil, and taking root at their tips, so as to produce a new plant, from which arise a second series of fronds, which take root in their turn, a chain of plants, often many feet in length, being thus formed. After spending some time in the forest, we emerged from it to the cleared ground, and, seated on the bank of a stream near a large Fuchsia bush, watched the humming-birds which were flying about the flowers in numbers, their heads gleaming as with burnished gold in the sunshine. We then walked for some miles along the beach, which is formed of rocks of rather hard yellowish sandstone, abounding in spherical nodules of more compact consistence, varying in size from an inch in diameter to the dimensions of a cannon-ball. At one spot we observed a collection of waterworn fossil trunks of trees, some of them evidently in the position in which they had grown countless ages before.
The following day was again very fine, with the distant prospect of Osorno and the Cordillera as clear as ever, and we began to consider ourselves in luck. In the morning a boat came alongside with a variety of articles for sale, including oysters and other shell-fish, and the fruits of the Bromelia sphacelata, esteemed by the Chilotes for their sweet taste, which somewhat resembles that of a pine-apple, and called by them “Chupon.” There were also a few crabs, among which I observed the Zithodes antarctica, a large species of Cancer, closely resembling our British edible crab, and one of the Maiadce, the Epialtus dentatus, which ranges throughout the greater extent of the coast of Chili. It is ordinarily of a dull greenish colour, and possesses large strong claws, which, however, it does not readily employ as weapons of defence, being an animal of a sluggish disposition. I found it abundantly afterwards in the Bay of Arauco and at Coquimbo. The weather was so pleasant, that a party of five of us, the greater number bent on sport, left the ship early in the day in the dingy, and crossing over to the opposite side of the bay or creek, proceeded slowly along the coast towards the head of it; some of us landing, after a time, and walking along the beach. The sun was shining brightly, and the humming-birds were flying about in numbers, emitting a sharp chirping note, and occasionally fighting with each other. Many specimens of a beautiful lizard, the Leiolcemus cyanogaster, bright green above, and orange and blue beneath, were darting about, very difficult to secure, from the agility of their movements, and indulging in the inconvenient custom of parting with their tails on the shortest notice. We saw a flock of bandurrias (Theristicus melanosis), several kingfishers identical with the species occurring in the Strait and Channels, some rather large pigeons (Columha Fitzroyii), many black vultures (Gathartes aura), and brown hawks (Milvago cMmango), which last were very annoying from their habit of screaming; large flocks of a small curlew (Numenius Hudsonicus), feeding on the mud-flats uncovered by the tide; some godwits (Limosa Hudsonica), spur-winged lapwings (Vanellus Cayanus), gulls, cormorants, steamer-ducks, and small grebes. Some pigeons, curlews, and godwits, with a single grebe, were shot, the last-mentioned bird being afterwards ascertained to be the Podilymbus jpodiceps. A variety of beautiful plants occurred not far from the beach, and among these a Gesneraceous creeper the Sarmienta repens, was very conspicuous, covering the stems and branches of the trees with its curious fleshy round leaves and handsome scarlet flowers, which are about an inch long, with a dilated tube narrowed at either end and surmounted by five rounded small lobes. Mitraria coccinea also occurred in great luxuriance; and a plant of the mistletoe order, the LorantJius tetrandrus, widely distributed in Chili, formed large masses on many of the trees and shrubs—its narrow tubular flowers in many places forming a perfect blaze of scarlet. Another plant, not less beautiful but much more familiar, was our common foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, which seems to have become extensively naturalised in the north of Chiloe, though I never observed it in any of the localities visited by us at a later period in Chili proper. This day a barque, the “Alianza,” bringing us supplies of provisions and coal from Valparaiso, arrived.
On the 31st I remained on board all day, busily occupied in preserving and stowing away specimens. Heavy rain fell during the most of the forenoon, but the weather cleared up later in the day. Captain Mayne, who had been absent at the town of Ancud, returned, bringing with him the cranium of a Chonos Indian, and three stone hatchet-heads from the Guaytecas Islands, given to him for my behoof by a Eussian gentleman whom he had met. The hatchet-heads resembled closely in their details those of the aborigines of many parts of the world, hardly differing from ancient specimens of British manufacture, and thus affording a striking exemplification of the similarity which often prevails between the primitive implements of nations widely removed from each other. Another curious instance of “homoplastic” resemblance noticed by me soon after this was furnished by the primitive Chilian plough, which hardly differs from that in use in Ahyssinia at the present time.
On the 1st of April it rained heavily in the morning, but cleared up before long, so that early in the forenoon Dr. Campbell and I left the ship in the steam-cutter to view the town of Ancud, which we had not yet visited. On landing, our impressions of it were far from favourable, the aspect of things in general being dirty, squalid, and dismal in the extreme. The town contains about 5000 inhabitants, the native portion of which are for the most part stunted and miserable-looking, evidently possessing a considerable amount of Indian blood in their veins, and bearing no small resemblance to the aborigines of the Channels, although, of course, they are much more civilised than those people. They have very dark hair and complexions, and wear the Chilian national costume of a poncho over a shirt and trousers generally much the worse for the wear. Nearly all the houses are wooden, with steep roofs, often thatched, and displaying a deeply concave curve and projecting eaves; and as Ancud boasts a bishop, it also is endowed with a wooden cathedral. The streets are steep and very crooked, and paved with round stones most unpleasant to walk on, especially with thin boots. We called on an old Irish doctor who had spent twenty-one years in the settlement, and spent some time in talk with him, receiving a large amount of information on a variety of subjects, including frightful accounts of the rapacity and profligacy of the priesthood. After a visit to the club, of which we had been constituted honorary members, we set out on a walk into the country behind the town, following the meanderings of a winding road running between high green banks, on which Rubus geoides was flowering profusely, along with a little yellow Oxalis, Potentilla anseriTia, etc. On the roof-trees of most of the cottages which we passed, hawks or vultures were perched, while great lean pigs, covered with long black hair, prowled about the doors, and miserablelooking curs barked at us till we were out of sight. We observed one field covered with foxgloves running to seed, and obtained a single peloric flower of the usual form. After ascending a rising ground which commanded a good view of the Pudeto Creek, and a stream of considerable size running into it, we retraced our steps to the town, which we left for the ship at five P.M.
The forenoon of the 2d was marked by the arrival of the mail with our letters, and the afternoon was devoted to botanising on shore, some additional ferns being procured. The 3d and 4th were fully occupied by most of us in writing letters to be despatched by the mail, a considerable number passing the afternoon of the latter day on shore. On this occasion I obtained several other plants, including a handsome species of Chilian nettle (Loasa), which revealed its nature in an unmistakable manner by severely stinging my hands when gathering it. We saw a single specimen of a scissor-bill (Ehynchops Tnelanura) flying along close to the water, with its beak wide open, and the elongated under mandible as it were ploughing the surface. On the rocks on the beach I obtained for the first time a small live specimen of a remarkable Gasteropod, the Conciolepas Peruviana, which ad heres to its site with the firmness of a limpet, and several examples of a strong thick Turbinoid shell with a purplishblack epidermis, the Chlorostoma atrum. The former mollusc is widely distributed along the coast of Chili and Peru in the Laminarian zone, where it holds on with great tenacity to the rocks, and, being regarded as a delicacy, is much sought after as an article of food by the inhabitants of these countries, from whom it receives the denomination of “Loco.” I never succeeded in obtaining live specimens to the south of Chiloe, though on two occasions, on the following season, I found dead shells in the Channels; but there appears to be good evidence that at one time the species existed at all events as far south as the Messier Channel, as in Captain Stoke's narrative of his surveying cruise on the west coast of Patagonia, as given by King in the voyage of the “Adventure” and “Beagle,”† it is recorded that at Port Santa Barbara, island of Campanha,” and probably this is the true explanation of the occurrence of the two worn shells of the species found by me in two different localities in the Channels, and one of which was obtained at an old Indian camp. As there appears to be no evidence of the occurrence of the species in the Strait or Channels at the present time, it seems most likely that those employed in the manner mentioned by Stokes had been brought from a great distance by the Indian tribes in the course of their extensive wanderings. No reference to their employment by the Magellanic tribes is made by King, Fitzroy, Darwin, or any other voyager with whose narrative I am acquainted, with the exception of that of the ill-fated surveyor who states the circumstance. The Chlorostoma is also widely distributed on the coast of Chili—Port Otway (peninsula of Tres Montes) being the southernmost locality where I met with it.
† Vol. i. p. 167.§
§ Actual title is “Proceedings of the First Expedition, 1826-1830.”
In addition to these molluscs, I obtained on this day several other marine animals, including specimens of a rather large species of Porcellana (P. tuberculifrons) with very broad pincer-claws of a beautiful bluish violet colour, with which it dispensed on very slight provocation, and an Annelid with long pink tentacula, which existed in such myriads in burrows in the wet muddy sand, as to communicate a pale pink tint to it, which I at first supposed to be due to the presence of decaying Algse.
Sunday, the 5th, was a most dismal day of wind and rain, but the weather was considerably improved on the 6th. On the forenoon of that day, in the course of skinning specimens of humming-birds obtained two days before, a more easy task than might be imagined, owing to their skins being strong and tough, though very greasy, I found a number of Tsenioid worms in the abdominal cavity of one of them. In the afternoon, as the tide was low, a party landed to search for marine animals, and met with a considerable amount of success. Among the molluscs obtained were another live specimen of Concholepas, some fine Fissurellce (F. nigra), Calyptrece, and Crepiduloe (C. dilatata), several Chitons (G. Bowenii, Chiloensis, etc.), a Turbinoid shell with a thick calcareous operculum (Amyxa niger), sl yellow Doris, and some fine simple and compound Tunicates. The Crustacea included a Hippolyte, and several crabs, such as Xantho planus, X. Gaudichaudii, Epialtus dentatus, and Pilumnoides perlatus; and a variety of Annelids and Sponges were also found. A little grebe, distinct from that earlier mentioned, the Fodiceps caliparius, was shot, and from a seining-party which had been despatched from the ship I obtained a small Cephalopod (Loligo Gahi), a specimen of Galathea subrugosa, and two curious fish, one a little mailed species (Agonus Chiloensis), afterwards found at Port Otway, and the other a small specimen of the southern Chimsera (Callorhynchus antardicus). The latter I often met with subsequently on the coast of South Chili, and it appears to be not uncommon at Chiloe, as I found several specimens of its remarkable horny egg lying on the sandy beach near our anchorage. This protective structure bears a general resemblance in texture and appearance to the eggs of the rays and sharks, but differs from them considerably in form. It is of a dark greenishblack colour, and in general measures from eight to nine, or even ten, inches in length, by about three in breadth. It consists of a central, somewhat spindle-shaped convex area (between the horny walls of which the young fish lies), surrounded by a broad plicated margin, which is fringed at the edge, and covered on the under surface with fine light brownish-yellow hairs. The accompanying sketch will enable the reader to realise its curious appearance.
I was detained on board during the greater part of the following day, as I had a number of specimens to consign to my spirit-jars; but towards the close of the afternoon I landed, and had a short walk along the beach, finding many specimens of the small crab (Trichodadylus granarius) obtained at Halt Bay, under stones, where small streams of fresh water joined the sea. A scissor-bill was again seen, but was unfortunately not within range. The 8th, 9th, and 10th were in no way eventful. Having taken in our stores, and there being nothing else to detain us, we left the port of San Carlos on the morning of the 11th, to return to our work; but a southerly wind soon after sprang up, and freshened with such rapidity that about two P.M. we altered our course, and returned to Ancud, anchoring off the town at about six P.M. There was a very fine sunset that evening, the most brilliant we had seen for a long time past—the sky in these humid regions, even when the day has been sunny, becoming in general clouded over before evening.
The 12th of April was a bright, clear, cold day, and in the morning we made a fresh start, hoping for better luck this time, as Captain Mayne had decided on this occasion to proceed southwards between Chiloe and the mainland, a course which possessed the great advantage of enabling us to make a portion of the voyage in smooth water. Passing through the Chacao Narrows, on the steep sandstone cliffs of which the great leaves of the Gunnera Chilensis formed a conspicuous object, we entered the Gulf of Ancud, and steamed slowly southwards along the east coast of Chiloe. The scenery, alike of the foreground and of the distance, was extremely pretty as viewed in the bright sunlight, there being a great variety of colouring in the foliage of the shrubs and trees, while here and there a patch of pasture-ground occurred, or a tiny village peeped out through a gap in the forest. Entering a winding passage between the main island and the islet of Caucahue, we anchored at three P.M. in a beautiful sheltered nook (Oscuro Cove of the charts), and soon after several of us landed, and had a pleasant walk up to the head of the cove. The vegetation, as at Ancud, was chiefly composed of Myrtaceous shrubs, many of which were in bloom, and presented a very elegant appearance; but we also observed a few examples of a low tree which was new to us, and remarkable for the possession of handsome, solitary, drooping, bright crimson flowers, nearly an inch long, on elongated axillary peduncles. This was the Tricuspidaria (Crinodendron) Hookeriana, one of the Eleocarpem. Its petals, five in number, are saccate at the base, and toothed at the apex, and the form of the flower at once strikes one as peculiar, the petals converging from the base to the apex. Most of the flowers had dropped off, and were succeeded by the capsules, which were about the size of a large cherry, green in tint, somewhat downy, and containing from twelve to fourteen seeds in irregular loculi. On the beach we found some very large dead valves of the Mytilus CJiilensis (“Choros” of the Chilians, by whom they are much esteemed), one specimen of which measured upwards of seven inches in length, as well as accumulations of the outer shells of a huge barnacle, the Balanus psittacus, which is likewise regarded as a great delicacy. I believe it principally occurs on the southern part of the coast of Chili, from Chiloe to Concepcion, and it frequently attains dimensions of nearly six inches in length by upwards of two in breadth. The terga are remarkable for being prolonged above into two slender elongated processes, whence the specific name. We observed a considerable variety of birds, most of which were very tame. They included hawks (chimangos and carranchas), kingfishers (Ceryle stellata), ducks, spur-winged lapwings, and brown herons. A colony of the last named perched on the branches of a tree overhanging the beach, were amusingly bold, several not taking flight till the stones which we threw at them struck the boughs on which they were standing. We paid a visit to the Chillote owner of a sawmill at the head of the cove. As vessels very seldom visit this spot, the inhabitants were much interested by the sight of Englishmen; and while we sat for a short time in the miller's house, the principal room of which was heated, as is usually the case in Chili, by means of a large wooden dish of charcoal placed in the middle of the floor, a number of neighbours by degrees gathered, the women sitting in silence, wrapped in their shawls, in a long row on one sidje of the room, like so many images. The miller, who handed round a large tumbler of “aguardiente” to his guests, informed us that when the ship appeared, they supposed that we were Spaniards, and were under some apprehensions for their safety. It was curious to see in this out-of-the-way place a sheet of the Illustrated London News pasted up on one of the walls. How it got there we did not find out.
The morning of the 13th was fine, with the wind favourable, and we left Oscuro Cove, continuing our southerly course. The atmosphere was very clear for a time, and a fine range of snowy peaks on the mainland, in consequence, well seen, but rain set in in the course of the afternoon, and after a time a thick fog settled down, so that we did not go to sea, as originally intended, but anchored in Port San Pedro, at the southern extremity of Chiloe, at about five P.M. Next morning we passed out into the open sea, and soon encountered a very heavy swell, causing the vessel to roll and pitch very unpleasantly. The 15th passed little less uncomfortably, the wind blowing hard during the night, and on the morning of the 16th we were glad to sight Cape Tres Montes. Shortly before noon we reached Port Otway, a fine harbour in the peninsula of Tres Montes, and there anchored for the remainder of the day. As usual, a party of us landed, and passed the afternoon on shore, some in quest of sport, and others on the look-out for specimens. I found the vegetation intermediate in character between that of the north of Chiloe and that of the northern Channels. Evergreen beech and Winter's-bark were among the prevailing trees in the thick woods, which were as wet as those of the western part of the Strait and the Channels. The stems of the trees were everywhere covered with a profusion of lichens, mosses, and ferns—species of Hymenopliyllum, such as H. cruentum, caudiculatum, pedinatum, etc. etc., and Grammitis australis, being especially abundant. Philesia huxifolia, Mitraria coccinea, and several other shrubs not yet identified, were plentiful among the undergrowth; and our explorations were rewarded by finding specimens of a beautiful Gesneraceous creeper, the Columnea ovata, which does not appear to have been previously recorded to the south of Chiloe. It ascended the trunks of the trees to a height of twelve feet or more, and its beautiful deep red flowers, which occurred near the tips of the branches, were somewhat difficult to procure. On one of the shrubs I captured a rather large beetle of the family Lucanidm, the Chiasognathus Reichei, new to the national collection; and the sportsmen shot a couple of otters, Lutra CMlensis (an animal which ranges from the Chonos Archipelago as far south as the Strait of Magellan), some kelp-geese, several kingfishers, and a white egret (Ardea egretta). The last bird, which we now saw for the first time, appears to be not uncommon in Chiloe, and probably also inhabits the Chonos Archipelago. The specimen shot on this occasion, which I preserved, had numbers of a small Dipterous insect crawling over the feathers. A variety of marine animals also were taken in the dredge. Several species of fish were present, among others the Agriopus hispidus, taken many years before by Mr. Darwin in the same locality,§ Agonus Chiloensis, the fry of a Trypterygium, some Notothenice, and a young specimen of a pipe-fish, the Syngnathus acicularis, not uncommon on the coast of Chili. Among the Mollusca were the Nassa Gayi, Ghlorostoma atrum, species of Fissurella, etc.; and the Echinoderms comprised two species of Echinidce, one of them being the handsome Echinocidaris dredged at Sholl Bay, and the other an undescribed form, of which, I am informed by Mr. A. Agassiz, another specimen exists in the museum at Stockholm. But few Crustacea were obtained, and these principally species common to the Strait and Channels (Eurypodii, Porcellanœ, etc.)
On the morning of the 17th we left Port Otway, and crossed the Gulf of Penas, entering the Messier Channel in the course of the afternoon, and anchoring about five P.M. in a small cove off Fatal Bay in Wellington Island. Later in the evening, when the ship swung with the tide, her stern almost brushed the trees on one of the steep banks, and ropes were accordingly laid out to the banks on either side, and fastened to the trees, to prevent her suffering injury. Next morning we moved slowly southwards, looking for harbours, and finally anchoring in Island Harbour, on the coast of the mainland, shortly after four P.M., immediately after which Dr. Campbell and I landed to explore the neighbourhood. As is generally the case in the harbours in the Channels, we found that there was almost no beach, the steep banks, densely covered with shrubs and trees, rising nearly perpendicularly out of the water. In many spots Metrosideros stipularis formed a regular fringe, with its lower branches dipping into the water. We found specimens of several plants observed at Port Otway, including a couple of creepers, one of them Bignoniaceous, judging from its foliage, but met with little that was absolutely new to us, one or two lichens excepted. Lomaria horyana here attained a great size, the stems of some plants being as much as eight to nine inches in diameter, by fully two feet in height. As usual, there was a great destitution of animal life, but one interesting discovery, due to Dr. Campbell (whom I found on all occasions an invaluable coadjutor in my researches on shore), was made, viz. that of a fine specimen of a species of Helix, fully an inch in diameter, of a depressed form, with a wide umbilicus. The animal was of a purplishblack colour. Although we anxiously sought for other individuals, we were completely unsuccessful, and we never met with a second example in any locality later visited by us. Unfortunately, I have not been able to lay my hands on the solitary example, wluch was sent to the British Museum along with nearly all the invertebrate animals collected, so that I cannot state with certainty to what species it belonged. In general appearance it bore a considerable resemblance to the Helix Audouinii of D'Orbigny.
The following day being Sunday, we remained at anchor. The day was fine and bright, with only occasional rain, and the harbour appeared to great advantage. At the head a fine cataract comes rushing down, and at the foot of this three porpoises were engaged for some time in disporting themselves in the perturbed water. The low trees of Winter's-bark, “Cipres,” Maytenus, evergreen beech, and Metrosideros, which clothed the banks, contributed a fine variety of tints to the land in our immediate neighbourhood; while, by gazing out of the entrance of the harbour, a fine view was gained of some distant mountain-tops freshly whitened with snow that had fallen during the night.
The morning of the 20th was clear and frosty, and leaving Island Harbour we proceeded southwards through the Messier Channel, anchoring in Halt Bay between five and six P.M. The weather next day was glorious; calm, bright, clear, and frosty; and the snow, which was gradually accumulating with the advancing season on the mountains, appeared exquisite in its dazzling purity; in some places sprinkled over the jagged black peaks, and in others forming great wreaths, exhibiting the most smooth and delicate curves, contrasting finely with the lower forest-clad slopes. As the vessel remained at anchor to allow the surveyors to carry on their work, a party of the non-surveying officers, myself among the number, borrowed the dingy, and spent the day most agreeably in pulling about a large bay communicating with our anchorage, and landing at different points. Everywhere the ground was soaking wet, with a covering several feet deep of moss and decaying plants, and, as usual, we had to scramble along, over and under rotting trunks, a rather fatiguing style of progression. At one place, in ascending a low hill, the summit of which commanded a good view of the bay (which was discovered to have a fine port, since named, in honour of one of the officers. Gray Harbour, opening into it), we observed the recent tracks of a deer; and at another spot, a specimen of a very curious bird, the “Guid-guid” or “Barking bird,” (Pteroptochos Tamil), was shot while sitting on a bough giving vent to its extraordinary cries. It is common in Chiloe and in the Chonos Archipelago, but we did not expect to meet with it so far south, though, as I have since ascertained, it was observed both in the Gulf of Penas and at Halt Bay in the course of a former survey. With its little wings, long bodyfeathers, short tail, and great legs and feet, it presents a most grotesque appearance. Mr. Darwin has justly remarked, that the name of “barking-bird is well bestowed upon it,” observing that he defies “any one at first to feel certain that a small dog is not yelping somewhere in the forest. Just as with the cheucau, a person will sometimes hear the bark close by, but in vain may endeavour by watching, and with still less chance by beating the bushes, to see the bird.” This we found to be the case alike with the barking-bird and the cheucau (Pteroptochos rubecula) at Chiloe, often hearing their strange cries in the course of our rambles, but very seldom getting a sight of them. A specimen of a little owl (Glaucidium nanuwi), obtained in the course of the previous season at Sandy Point, was observed in the woods, but not obtained. In cruising about the bay we saw numerous individuals of a little grebe, the Podiceps Rollandi, common in the Strait and Channels, but very difficult to shoot, on account of the rapidity with which it dives, and the impossibility of predicting in what direction it will come up. One was at length shot, and I was struck by the exquisite ruby red colour of the eye. They possess an exceedingly unpleasant fishy odour, which becomes very perceptible in the process of skinning them. I met with hardly any new plants on this occasion, but was interested to find that the Hymenophyllum cruentum extended so far south. I also found many malformed flowers of Mitraria coccinea, probably due to the attack of some insect on the flower-bud.
The morning of the 22d was fine, but not very clear, the atmosphere having a snowy appearance. In the forenoon, while skinning the Fteroptochos obtained on the previous day, I found a number of small scarlet mites around and within the external aperture of the ear. The afternoon was directed to rambling about the neighbourhood of Halt Bay. I again observed a pinnate-leaved creeper seen at Port Otway and Island Harbour, forming cords, sometimes as much as twenty feet long, depending from the branches of the trees, and sought eagerly for flowering specimens, but in vain. Heavy rain set in between three and four P.M., and continued to fall in torrents until the afternoon of the 23d, when the clouds cleared off, and next day (24th) was splendidly clear and frosty. A party of us devoted the afternoon to cruising about from place to place in the dingy, two of our number ascending a hill, from the top of which we had a fine view of the Messier Channel, with its various islands and inlets. The only additional plants procured were a handsome lichen and the little Pinguicula antardica, which had evidently long before passed out of flower. We saw several humming-birds; and in the bay we shot a steamer-duck, and attempted to secure two others, which, however, foiled us, by steaming off at a tremendous rate (I should think not less than seven or eight knots an hour), making a noise like that of a paddle-wheel steamer in the distance, and leaving a wake of foam which extended for several hundred yards behind them. On our return to the ship, between five and six P.M., we learned that a party of Indians had been on board and had bartered some otter and deer skins for tobacco. Judging from the dimensions of a deer's foot, which was shown to me, the animal must have been of considerable size.
The 25th was another day of great beauty, the frost still lasting, and we left Halt Bay in the forenoon, and passing through the English Narrows, anchored in Eden Harbour.
Thereafter Dr. Campbell and I landed, and spent nearly a couple of hours on shore, walking over some boggy ground, where a Sphagnum of a deep purplish-red tint abounded. Rain fell in torrents during the next two days, but on the 28th it was again fair, though cloudy; and a party of the non-surveyors left the ship immediately after breakfast, and spent the day pulling about among the islands outside the harbour. On one of these I found a single specimen of an Iridaceous plant, which I afterwards ascertained to be a species of Libertia, in seed; and it is a fact worth recording that I never saw a second specimen of it south of the Chonos Archipelago. On the beach of the same island I obtained an example of a fish, the Lycodes latitans, previously procured in various localities in the Strait and Channels; and a specimen of the grayish-brown night-heron (Nycticorax obscuTus) seen in the northern part of the Strait and the Falkland Islands, was shot. We also saw many kelp-geese, and several kingfishers, as well as two large flocks of steamer-ducks, which were making a great tumult in the water, raising a wave of surf fully a foot and a half in height, and causing a loud rushing sound by the rapid movements of their little wings. Cormorants were also plentiful, some with black and white, and others (young birds as we subsequently ascertained) with entirely black plumage. One of the latter, which was shot, had the skin of the feet raised into white diseased patches. We had two very exciting chases after otters, which at length escaped by taking to the land, and concealing themselves among the rocks and bushes. They swam with great rapidity, with only their brown hea,ds out of the water, and often dived, coming up again at a long distance ahead of us. In initiating the dive, they bent their bodies in a marked curve, the middle of the back emerging above the surface of the water for an instant.
Drizzling rain fell during the forenoon of the 29th, but the afternoon was fair, though cloudy, and four of us pulled up to the head of a cove, where the otters had been seen on the previous day. Here I found some specimens of a rather large Chiton, the C, granosus, which is not uncommon in the Messier Channel, as well as at Chiloe. Later in the day we went outside the harbour to the islands, to look for a party of Indians who had come alongside the vessel in their canoe in the forenoon. On firing at some kelpgeese on a small islet, the Indians revealed themselves for a moment close to the beach of a neighbouring larger island, which we just then came in sight of, and, apparently frightened by the reports of the guns, ran up the steep wooded bank, accompanied by their dogs, and concealed themselves among the bushes, leaving their canoe deserted. We then pulled up to the shore, opposite one of the beehive-shaped wigwams which are so common throughout the Channels, being used as temporary habitations by the Indians in their wanderings from place to place, and which, in this instance, was covered with sheets of bark, and then lay on our oars, waiting till they should have recovered from their alarm. Presently, an elderly man appeared, attired in the usual cloak of otter-skins, and walked down to the boat, chattering something, which of course was utterly unintelligible to us. One of the party then gave him some tobacco, and made signs that he wanted skins, which the man appeared to understand, as he went off into the woods, and gave vent to some wild shouts for the purpose of summoning the rest of the party. In a short time, a woman leading a child, and accompanied by three dogs, emerged from the trees, and soon after, a young man with a sinister scowling expression, and with his countenance decorated with two stripes of white paint, came out of the wigwam, and on being offered a knife and some tobacco, divested himself of his only garment, which he handed to the officer who was bartering with him, and marched off complacently with his newly acquired treasures. Heavy rain now set in, and continued all that night, and throughout the next day, with brief intervals.
The morning of the 1st of May was, however, fine, and a party of us accordingly left the ship early in the morning, and spent the day in a cruise along the upper part of Indian Reach, to the south of the harbour. We first entered the small cove (Lackawanna of the government chart), and went as far as we could get up a small river which enters the head of it, afterwards proceeding for some distance down the coast, landing here and there in search of specimens, but without obtaining any results of special value. Numbers of steamer-ducks were seen, in general too wary to permit of our getting near them, as well as numerous gulls (Lams dominicanus) and cormorants, several kelp-geese, and a black oyster-catcher. Several Cetacea of considerable size were observed blowing, and we had a long chase after an otter, which, however, succeeded at length in escaping us. The 2d was a day of heavy rain, and on the 3d the weather was only a little improved, there being but a few short intervals when the rain ceased, and the mist cleared partially off the mountains. Two kingfishers flew about the ship for some time, uttering their harsh, peculiar cry, and one lighted on the mizzenmast, sitting there for a short time. There was but little rain on the forenoon of the 4th, but in the afternoon it set in again in torrents. One of the members of a wooding-party, who spent the day on shore, brought me two species of Coleoptera, which he had found among the timber—one a Rhyncophorous species, the Eublepharus nodipennis, and the other, a very handsome Longicorn, the Cheloderus childreni, previously recorded from Valdivia. It rained tremendously throughout the rest of the evening, and all night long, only ceasing for a short time on the morning of the 5th, after which it began again with redoubled vehemence, and continued during the 5th, 6th, 7th, and throughout the earlier part of the 8th, enabling us to corroborate the sagacious remark of a former surveyor as entered on the published plan of Eden Harbour, that here was “good fresh water in abundance,”—a statement which, however, equally applies to the whole extent of the Channels and that portion of the Strait of Magellan between Port Famine and the western entrance. The weather was, however, far from affording material for mirth, having a most depressing influence upon us, in consequence of the enforced idleness which it necessitated, the land being so shrouded in mist as completely to put a stop to surveying operations; and our situation was far from enviable, as we lay at anchor, shut in on every side by steep mountains, on which there was not a dry spot whereon to place our feet, and which was for the most part covered by thick evergreen forests, into which it was only possible to penetrate for a very little distance. As we were not provided with proper rain-awnings, moreover, the ship was in an unpleasantly moist condition, her deck having never thoroughly dried since we left Sandy Point, two months previously; and when our clothes got wet through, as they not uncommonly did, it was with the greatest difficulty, owing to our limited space, that we could get them dried again.
After descending in perfect streams during the forenoon of the 8th, the rain ceased for about a couple of hours in the afternoon; and we then left our anchorage at Eden Harbour, and moved northwards to a new berth near the upper end of the English Narrows, named Hoskyn Cove, in honour of one of the surveying officers. There had been a heavy fall of snow during the previous night on the higher ground, and many of the mountains in the vicinity of the Narrows were whitened half-way down, and the innumerable cascades which rush foaming down their sides greatly swollen. It was raining again when we reached our destination about five P.M., and heavy rain fell throughout the night and during the forenoon of the 9th. On the afternoon of the same day, as it had somewhat abated, and we were anxious to examine this new locality, a party of four of us, encased in waterproofs and sea-boots, took the dingy and left the ship for some hours. The land rose in very steep, precipitous, wooded mountains on all sides, so that it was with some difficulty that we could get on shore, and that fairly accomplished, we found it impossible to scramble far. I, however, succeeded in finding two plants that were new to me, and which I never subsequently found in any other locality. One of these was a fern, a species of Bleclmum, apparently distinct from that obtained at Chiloe; and another, a herbaceous plant, probably Gesneraceous, with ovate-elliptical leaves and handsome scarlet flowers, which was growing in the clefts of the rocks. Unfortunately, it was almost out of bloom, so that I only obtained a single flowering specimen. A tall branching fern previously observed at Chiloe, the Alsophila pruinata, was here growing in wonderful luxuriance, some of the fronds attaining a height of upwards of twelve feet, and the steelgray colouring of the back communicating a very handsome appearance to them. Callixene polyphylla, not previously recorded to the south of the Chonos Archipelago, ascended the trunks of the trees to a height of from seven to nine feet, and the pinnate-leaved creeper already mentioned as seen at Halt Bay and Island Harbour, together with another climbing plant, also with pinnate leaves, was abundant, as were also Mitraria coccinea and Hymenophyllum cruentum. This I may remark was the southernmost locality where I met with this elegant little fern. A turkey-buzzard (Cathartes aura) was shot as it was flying over the water, and afterwards skinned by me. It formed a truly disgusting object when we picked it up, with its naked scarlet head which resembled an unhealthy ulcer, its ruffless neck, dull brown plumage, and ugly legs. The feet were partially webbed, the nostrils very large, and the tongue deeply hollowed out, as if for the purpose of scooping up filth. These birds, though extremely plentiful in Chiloe, become rather scarce to the southward. In the Channels and western part of the Strait we saw them occasionally, but never more then a couple of individuals at any one time.
Rain continued throughout the afternoon of this day; in the evening set in with increased vehemence; and during the whole of the 10th fell in torrents. By this time Captain Mayne judged it advisable to leave the Channels for the season, as the weather was so extremely bad that very little work could be accomplished. On the 11th, accordingly, when the weather was somewhat improved, we left Hoskyn Cove, and moved slowly northwards along the Messier Channel. In the forenoon we met a Chilian vessel on her way to Sandy Point, with emigrants and provisions for the colony, and we availed ourselves of the opportunity thus presented to despatch letters by her. While lying-to we observed several Cape pigeons, birds we had never before noticed in the Channels, and a sure evidence of bad weather outside. After proceeding northwards for between twenty and thirty miles, we anchored about four P.M. in a small new harbour in the mainland, named Connor Cove, in honour of one of the surveyors, immediately after which three of the officers with myself took the dingy and went off to explore a small river which debouched at the head. This we found to be tolerably wide and deep for some distance, succeeding in pulling up the stream for nearly a quarter of a mile before we grounded. Had it been earlier in the day, and the sun shining brightly, it would have furnished a beautiful scene for a picture, the water flowing slowly between steep wooded banks, behind which high mountains arose. The only living objects to be seen were a steamer-duck and a large fish swimming rapidly about.
The 12th was nearly free from rain, and we left our anchorage early, reaching Island Harbour shortly before noon. As it was determined that we should remain here for the rest of the day, I resolved in occupying the afternoon in the ascent of a very steep hill, about 2000 feet in height, on the left side of the head of the harbour, and accordingly set forth at one P.M., accompanied by one of the officers who was also ambitious of the exploit. On landing we found the ground even less adapted for walking over than we had calculated, the land being disposed in steep ridges, with thickly wooded, deep, and narrow intervening valleys, which required a severe amount of scrambling to cross. The ground was everywhere wringing wet, and in many places we sank far above the knees in pools of water, and were compelled to circumambulate various streams and small lakes, which caused our route to assume a very meandering character. After we had accomplished a little more than a third of the way, my companion, who was not in such good walking trim as myself, gave in, and, after having vainly attempted to dissuade me from going farther, sat down on a rock to await my return, while I pursued my solitary way over the steep and rugged ground, alternately ascending and descending. At length I reached the top of a ridge separated from the terminal sugar-loaf-shaped peak of the mountain by a deep thickly-wooded gully, which descended steeply on one side towards the Channel, and on the other was, as it were, bridged over by a narrow neck of rock continuous with the peninsula over which I had hitherto been walking. Here I at first thought that it would be impossible to proceed farther, as the conical peak in front of me rose almost perpendicularly, but, after due deliberation, resolved to make the attempt. So, having disburdened myself of my botanical case and geological hammer, I proceeded to scale the peak by means of digging my feet into the thick coating of moss which coated the rock-faces, and dragging myself up by the tufts of wiry grass and stunted shrubs which projected horizontally outwards. At last, after strenuous exertions, I gained the summit, and was rewarded by a glorious view of the Messier Channel, with its inlets, islands, and high mountains on either side, together with the harbour, and two deep tarns, which fed the cataract which poured down at its head. I was, however, disappointed in what had been my principal object in undertaking the ascent—namely, the hope of meeting with species of plants which did not occur at a lower level. This result, I may remark, completely accorded with my subsequent experiences in these regions, as, though I ascended many mountains in the course of the following season, I found exceedingly few plants at an elevation of from 1000 to 2000 feet, which did not also occur equally plentifully at the level of the sea. This, I suppose, may be reasonably explained by the fact that the climate at the level of the sea in these regions is alpine or semi-alpine in its character, the snow-line descending in many parts as low as 3000 feet or less. As a rule, the summits of these mountains, which are not so high as this, are composed of bare rock, either worn smooth by the constant flow of water over them, or sharp and jagged like the teeth of a saw. Nearly the only plants noticed on this occasion were a few stunted bushes of Libocedrus, Berberis ilicifolia, and the evergreen and antarctic beeches, together with a Lycopodium, which occurs abundantly in the Strait and Channels, trailing over the damp ground.
After resting for a short time on the summit, I began the descent, soon finding that the only practicable method of procedure was to sit down and slide, checking my velocity as I best could by catching at the occasional stunted shrubs. I had safely accomplished the greater portion of the way in this manner at an express rate of speed, when I suddenly found myself arrived at the top of a precipice whose height I could not estimate. I therefore grasped a rotten stump at one side, to enable me, if possible, to avoid my apparent fate, but it treacherously snapped in my hand, and the next sensation of which I was conscious was that of lying extended on a bed of soft moss, with a somewhat bewildered idea as to where I was, and blood flowing from my nose and mouth. In a few minutes I collected my senses and got up, feeling considerably bruised, and then found that I had fallen over a cliff about fourteen feet in height. After this the descent was much more gradual, and, having recovered my implements, I joined my companion in course of time, and we retraced our steps together during the rest of the way. In one of the wooded valleys near the foot of the hill I was much delighted by at last finding the pinnateleaved, and, as I rightly judged, Bignoniaceous creeper, observed at Port Otway, Hoskyn Cove, Halt Bay, and Eden Harbour, in flower. We first noticed some fallen blossoms on the ground, and soon after, looking up through the branches of a Podocarpus, observed the plant, with two clusters of flowers, and numerous old capsules from which the seeds had escaped. My companion benevolently climbed the tree for these, and, on going a few steps farther, we came upon the white skeleton of a dead tree, round which a specimen had twined itself—clusters of the beautiful rose-coloured flowers hanging down from the branches. This fine plant I subsequently ascertained to be the Campsidium Chilense, previously recorded from Valdivia, Chiloe, and the island of Huafo, between Chiloe and the Guaytecas Islands; and its occurrence more than five degrees farther south† than the last-named locality is, I think, of considerable interest. Its flowers, when in the fresh state, are never orange (as stated by Dr. Seemanni‡), according to my observations, but invariably of a fine rose-colour. Six months later I observed the plant at Port Laguna, to the north of the Darwin Channel, in the Chonos Archipelago. It is apparently an evergreen, and the leaves are impari-pinnate, there being from four to six pairs of lateral pinnae.
† Eden Harbour, lat. 49° 10' S.
‡ Ann. and Mag. of Nat. Hist. Ser. iii. No. 55.
This day I also found, growing on an evergreen beech, a fungus that was new to me, and which bore a very close resemblance to, if indeed it were not identical with, the Bulgaria inquinans of Great Britain.
On the 13th we left Island Harbour, and passed slowly northwards through the Messier Channel, looking for harbours on the way, and emerging into the Gulf of Peñas [sic, Penas] in the afternoon. The wind was S.W., and the barometer rising, so that it was considered advisable to push out at once; but on clearing the land we encountered a tremendous swell, which caused the vessel to roll and pitch in such a manner as, with all our previous knowledge of her capacity in that line, we could hardly have thought possible, and which caused many even of the oldest seamen in the ship to suffer from sea-sickness. The night passed uncomfortably; but we went along more steadily throughout the greater part of the next day, numbers of Cape pigeons, Fulmar, and brown-headed petrels, accompanying us. On the 15th we steamed full speed throughout the day against a strong head wind—the jolting, shaking, rolling, and pitching thus caused being almost insufferable, while, to add to our discomfort, heavy rain set in some time after. The weather soon became so thick that it was impossible to ascertain our exact position, and between six and seven P.M. the engines broke down, so that we were obliged to lie-to for about four hours in a most unenviable position—the night pitch dark, rain descending in torrents, a gale blowing in our teeth, the Guaytecas Islands under our lee, the island of Huafo outside, the rocky coast of Chiloe to windward, and no land seen since one P.M. Providentially, before long the wind shifted, and then died down, and in the course of time there was nearly a complete calm. Land was at length sighted early on the forenoon of the 16th, and about two P.M. we reached Port San Pedro, where we remained for the rest of the day, rain descending as if it never intended to cease. It may aid in conveying to the reader an idea of the damp condition of things on board in this weather, when I mention that dried plants brushed free from mould one day were equally thickly covered with it the next, and that I had the utmost difficulty in getting my drying-paper sufficiently free from moisture to be fit for use.
The morning of the 17th was fair and bright; a great relief. We got under way, and proceeded along the east coast of Chiloe as far as Tenoun Point, anchoring there between four and five P.M. Rain came on in the evening, and next morning the aspect of the weather was so doubtful that we remained at anchor, as our stock of coal was so much reduced that we could not afford to steam against the wind, should it arise. A few of us took advantage of this circumstance to spend a short time on shore, landing soon after breakfast. There is a small village of Tenoun, with a church like a Chinese pagoda, officiated in by a couple of padres, whom we met. They were both young and rather pleasantlooking, attired in low straw hats and a long gray woollen garb, provided with a cowl, and reaching to the ankles. Here, as at other places in Chili, Myrtacew prevailed largely, and a species of Loasa was plentiful among the herbaceous plants, but out of bloom at this time. Ruhus geoides was also very common, and in pools of fresh water I found a Riccia and a Lemim. In the afternoon, the weather appearing more settled, we weighed and proceeded northwards, the unpleasant discovery being shortly after made that we had not enough coal with which to reach Ancud. We therefore proceeded as far as Huite, close to Oscuro Cove, and there anchored in a curious little harbour, bounded on one side by a long very narrow curved sandspit, to lay in wood for steaming purposes. Heavy rain, as usual, came on in the evening, and the 19th was a day of thick mist and drizzling rain, with occasional brief fair intervals. Early in the morning one of the officers was despatched in the steam-cutter with our letter-bag to Ancud, to endeavour to catch the mail, and soon after a wooding-party was sent on shore for timber. A party of four of us landed in the rain after breakfast, and had a walk, finding everything in a universal state of sponge. We saw a white egret, similar to that obtained at Port Otway, some steamerducks, oyster-catchers, and cormorants, and picked up some very large valves of Mytilus Chillnsis, and great fragments of Balanus psittacus. I obtained but little that was new to me in the botanical line, with the exception of a few ferns and a curious fungus, several examples of which I found growing in the sand of the beach, above high-water mark. This was a species of Clathrus or Ileodictyon, and consisted of a cup-like volva partially buried in the sand, and formed of a rather tough membrane, enclosing a mass of gelatinous substance, possessed of an extremely fetid odour, resembling that of the common Phallus foetidus; and of a branched reticulated cagelike receptacle of a snow-white colour, with its lower extremity imbedded in the fetid jelly. Some of the specimens of this receptacle were as much as six or seven inches high, by between three and four in diameter.
Rain fell in torrents throughout the whole of the next day. The wooding-party were again on shore, and early in the day brought on board a curious little quadruped, taken in the fork of a large tree which they had felled. I was much interested to recognise it as a Marsupial, and on subsequent examination ascertained it to be the DidelpJiys elegans, not uncommon in the neighbourhood of Valparaiso and Concepcion, but which, I believe, had not previously been observed farther south than the River Lieubu, in lat 37° 33' S., the present locality being to the south of lat. 42°. The body measures between four and five inches in length, and is clothed with grayish fur above, while beneath it is nearly white. The eyes are very large and protruding. The feet are well fitted for climbing, and the tail is remarkably stout, and thick at the base. I found the body loaded with fat, and the skin extremely greasy. Later in the day the officer in charge of the wooding-party brought me off a small frog of the genus Cacotus,
The 21st was a tolerably fine day, and we left our anchorage after breakfast, wdth the intention of reaching Ancud. Unfortunately, however, the wood used for steaming proved to be so thoroughly wet as to be of but very little value as fuel, and our rate of progression, at first sufficiently moderate, became by degrees slower and slower, till at length we feared that the revolutions of the screw would cease altogether. Crawling along at a snail's pace, we reached, after some hours, the entrance of the Chacao ISTarrows, when the tide helped us. While passing slowly through the Narrows, we descried the steamcutter close to one of the shores, and she shortly after joined us, with a supply of letters from England, bearing date of only two months back. We anchored in the Narrows that evening when the tide turned against us, and next day, which we were surprised to find bright and sunny, we remained stationary until noon, when the tide turned in our favour, and then went slowly on to the bay of Ancud, reaching our old position at Punta Arenas between three and four P.M. Soon after that I landed, and had a walk with two companions. On the sandy beach numbers of an Amphipod (Orchestoidea tuberculatd), much resembling our common sand-hopper in general appearance, were skipping out, and in a small rock-pool, not much more than two feet in diameter, I observed hundreds of a small pale-coloured Actinia, each individual of which had its base fixed in a hollow in the rock, and withdrew from view on being touched. Many of the plants had gone out of flower, owing to its being the beginning of winter, only a few lingering blossoms remaining on the Fuchsias and Escallonias, but the scarlet Loranthus was still in full bloom, and brightened up the dense thickets.
The morning of the 23d was fair, and the horizon beyond the bay remarkably clear; the distant Cordillera rising hard and sharp against the sky, its peaks showing black like the teeth of a saw. Two of the officers and I landed early, with the intention of spending the day on shore, and walked for some miles along the beach in the direction of the head of the harbour. In the water we saw several specimens of a large grebe, apparently the same with one observed at the river Gallegos and at the eastern entrance of the Strait; and on the rocks a pretty little gray bird, with a white line on each side of the head, the Cinclodes Patagonicus, very common in the Strait and Channels, was hopping about, approaching very close to us at times. This little creature has the curious habit of lighting on the floating masses of kelp not far from the shore, and searching the fronds for its food, which consists principally of marine animals. On the west coast of South America it extends, at least, as far north as Valparaiso. A second species of the genus obtained in the Strait, where however it does not appear to be nearly so common as the former, was the Cinclodes fuscus. Heavy rain came on about noon, and as it showed no symptoms of abating, we retraced our steps to the landing-place, and got on board about three P.M. It rained and blew hard during the night; and though it was calm on the morning of the 24th, the deluge continued as great as ever, and the wind again got up later in the day, and all that night it blew and rained. The rain continued unabated during the whole of the 25th and 26th, coming down with a roaring sound, and such vehemence that five minutes' experience of it would have been sufficient to drench one to the skin.
It was fair, however, on the morning of the 27th, and Captain Mayne, Dr. Campbell, and I, went over to Ancud, where some of the oJ6[icers were being photographed in surveying costume, for the edification of their friends at home. After a walk into the country beyond the town, we re-embarked early in the afternoon, and returned to the ship. Later in the day a few of us spent some time on shore, and one of the officers succeeded in shooting a male and female scissor-bill (Rhynchops melanura) On the morning of the 28th we weighed, and left the bay of San Carlos on our northerly voyage, but soon encountered the wind right in our teeth, with a very heavy swell, and therefore altered course and returned to our anchorage, reaching it some time after noon. It rained very heavily throughout the remainder of the day, and throughout nearly the whole of the 29th—a N.W. gale blowing at the same time, accompanied with a display of very vivid lightning and loud peals of thunder. The 30th was fair, though still blowing pretty hard. In the forenoon a large flock of very beautiful cormorants (Phalacrocorax Gaimardi), with bluish-gray and white plumage, yellow bills, and scarlet legs, lighted on the water not far from the ship, but we were unable to procure any. One of the officers recognised them as specimens of a species of which he had seen two examples on one occasion on the Messier Channel, but there they must be very rare, as I never saw any to the south of Chiloe. In the afternoon Dr. Campbell and I landed, and obtained by means of his s” (Phytotoma rara), regarding whose affinities a considerable amount of difference of opinion has prevailed among ornithologists. Molina was, I believe, the first to describe this curious bird, which, in general appearance, resembles a large fincli or bunting, but is at once distinguisbable by the remarkable peculiarity of the edges of its mandibles, which are regularly serrated, in his Saggio sulla Storia Natural del Chili;† remarking that it feeds on green herbs, and that, for mere pastime only, it is very destructive to various vegetables which it does not feed on, so that a continual war is carried on against it by the peasantry of the districts in which it occurs, in consequence of which it frequents solitary wooded places, where it builds its nest high up in the shrubs.
† P. 255.
This day I also obtained fine flowering specimens of a tall Malvaceous shrub, the Sida vitifolia, with tomentose five-lobed leaves, and large handsome flowers varying from pale purple to white, and sometimes exceeding two inches in diameter.
On the 31st it was raining and blowing hard during the earlier part of the day, but the wind gradually fell, and the rain ceased after three P.M. On the 1st of June we again left the bay, making very little way during the day, as the wind was against us, and being under sail alone, we were consequently obliged to tack repeatedly. In the evening the wind shifted in our favour, and we accomplished a considerable distance during the night; but on the 2d it was again unpropitious, compelling us to tack perpetually. On the 3d the same state of things continued, save that we progressed rather more quietly. The 4th was a thick misty day, the wind still against us, causing us to alter course frequently; and an anxious look-out for land was maintained, as, from the sun not having been visible for the last few days, no observations had been, obtained, and we had therefore a very vague conception as to our true position. Suddenly, about one P.M., there was a shout from the look-out of “Breakers ahead!” and the mist opening for a moment disclosed a long reef, over which a furious surf was breaking. Orders were immediately issued to put the ship about, an operation which fortunately was successfully accomplished, as, had she continued five minutes longer on her course, her fate, and probably that of most of her inmates, would have been sealed. Subsequent examination of the charts rendered it, I believe, evident that this spot, on which we were so nearly being wrecked, was in the vicinity of Tucapel Point, to the south of which H.M.S. “Challenger” was lost in 1835.
The 5th was thick and misty in the morning, but the weather cleared up in the course of the forenoon, and land was sighted, enabling us to determine where we were; and we therefore steamed straight for Lota in the great bay of Arauco, Captain Mayne having determined, before we left Ancud, to stop there in order to take in a supply of fuel, there being extensive deposits of tertiary coal in that district. In the course of the afternoon, as we were passing along near the coast, we observed several large patches of discoloured water; but, as I did not succeed in procuring any for examination, I could not ascertain the cause of the phenomenon. The land along which we passed was thickly wooded, though not nearly so much so as that at Chiloe, and some of the strata seen in section on the cliffs were very obliquely inclined. There was a rather heavy swell till we entered Arauco Bay, after which we had quiet water, and we reached the little bay of Lota about eight P.M., and soon after anchored. It was a lovely moonlight evening, and the settlement presented a very striking appearance, from the numerous lights of its copper-smelting furnaces, across which shadowy human forms were to be seen moving, and the columns of thick white smoke which were issuing from the mouths of the chimneys. We found several ships lying at anchor, the greater number laden with cargoes of copper. The morning of the 6 th was calm, and at first rather hazy, but before long brightened up into a warm sunny day, very agreeable to us after our wet experiences in the south. Two of the officers and I landed, soon after breakfast, at the end of a long jetty, used chiefly for embarking coal, and visited the town, which is divided into two parts, one of which (Upper Lota) is situated on the top of a low hill to the north of the anchorage, while the other (Lower Lota) lies in a small valley at the head of the bay. Much rain had fallen lately, and we found the centre of the streets of the lower part of the town knee-deep in clayey mud, through which oxen were dragging carts moving on solid wooden wheels, which emitted a succession of creaks and groans, testifying to the difficulty of progression. The town presents a rather squalid appearance, all the houses being constructed of wood, and the greater number of them only one storey in height, on account of the numerous earthquake shocks to which this neighbourhood, in common with that of Concepcion, about thirty miles to the northward, is liable. There are, however, one or two very good detached dwellings, principally tenanted by the officials employed by the Lota Company, and one, standing on the top of the hill on the north side of the anchorage, serves as a mess-house, where several gentlemen breakfast and dine together.
After spending a short time in strolling through the streets, we descended to the smooth sandy beach below the town, finding the tide high, and a rather heavy surf breaking. Here I found a few specimens of a crab resembling our British Corystes,—the Pseudocorystes sicarius, widely distributed on the coast of Chili,—as well as some large masses of curiouslyshaped Molluscan egg-cases. Looking out on the waters of the bay we observed a remarkable object at some distance, which we by-and-by ascertained to be the horns and upper part of the head of a bullock, which was swimming to the shore from one of the ships lying at anchor. On approaching the land it had some slight difiiculty in getting through the surf, in which it was entirely immersed for a moment or two, but soon stepped out on terra firma, where two ponchoclad horsemen, provided with lassoes, were waiting to receive it. It was, however, by no means disposed to be caught, and ran off through the streets close to the beach, exciting a most ludicrous amount of terror among the inhabitants, who rushed into their houses with wonderful rapidity. After waiting to see it lassoed, a process speedily accomplished, we proceeded southwards along the coast of the bay, scrambling over that portion of the rocks not covered by the tide, and climbing the steep shrubby banks above them. Not far from the shore we observed one or two remarkable large rocks used by cormorants as resting-places, one of which presented a striking resemblance to a couching lion. We had not gone far before I had the delight of seeing for the first time that exquisite twiner Lapageria rosea, the “Copigue” of the Chilians, with the appearance of which, as seen in hothouses, some of my readers are doubtless familiar. The plant winds over shrubs and low trees in a very elegant manner, and the flowers, shaped somewhat like those of a lily, are often as much as three inches long, of a thick waxy consistence, and of a most splendid deep rose-colour, minutely spotted with white in the interior, and marked at the base of each segment with a small blotch of dark purple. A white variety of the flower is also to be met with, but is of much rarer occurrence. The plant is a near ally of the beautiful Philesia huxifolia of the Strait, but is much handsomer, and possesses a greatly more limited range, apparently only extending from the north, of Valdivia to the north of Concepcion, a space of between three and four degrees, while Philesia ranges over nearly fifteen. One interesting fact with regard to the Copigue, is its extreme hardiness, being almost the only plant that can exist in the area covered by the sulphureous smoke of the smelting-furnaces. This was remarked to me by the manager of the Lota Company's works, to whom, as well as to the various officials of the company, we were indebted for much attention; and I verified the observation for myself subsequently, finding specimens in a flourishing condition winding around the skeletons of shrubs killed by the smoke. The Chilians sometimes make use of the flowers tor poultices.
This being the winter season, most of the plants were out of bloom, but I met with several that interested me, including a yellow-flowered Composite, forming a tall shrub (Euxenia); another very tall fragrant shrub or low tree, belonging to the order Monimiacece, the “Boldu” of the Chilians (Peumus Boldu); and a species of dodder (Cuscuta), known by the name of “Cabellos de Anjel,” or angel's hair, which twined over many of the shrubs, and was, I was informed, like the European kinds, very destructive to crops. Among the ferns, an Adia7itum, similar to one common at Chiloe, and the widelydistributed Folystichum aculeatum, were specially plentiful, and many plants of Asplenium ollusatum also occurred among the clefts of the rocks above the beach. On the rocks, uncovered by the tide, we found myriads of a small Gasteropod, like a large Rissoa, as well as numbers of a species of Littorina, and many examples of Monoceros glabratum, Amyxa niger, and a variety of Chitons, On this and the succeeding day I was much struck with the exquisite beauty and wonderful diversity of the Actinice in the rock pools. Their principal colours were white and various shades of pink, purple, and green, one or two being of a splendid emerald hue. A few Crustacea were met with in the pools, and among these I may mention an olive-green shrimp-like species (Betceus scabrodigitus), which was difficult to capture from the extreme agility of its movements, and a small crab (Acanthocyclus Gayi), which stoutly resisted attacks made on it, giving most savage nips with the great pincer claw of its right or left arm, which always greatly exceeded in size that of the corresponding side. At high-water mark we further observed several specimens of the horny egg-case of the Callorhynchus, and many large dead shells of ConcJiolepas, Fissurellm, etc., as well as one or two dead specimens of Oliva Peruviana, and two examples of a Corystoid crab (Bellia pictd), which appears to be a rare species, as in the British Museum, in addition to those found by me, there are only a couple from the coast of Peru. With the exception of cormorants, we noticed but few birds of any description, almost the only ones observed being the Curmus aterrimus, so common in the Strait and Channels, and a flock of pigeons similar to those seen at Chiloe. On our return to the town we visited the copper-smelting works, and were conducted through them by the overseer, a northcountry Englishman, who was most polite, explaining to us all the details of the process, and also presenting us with specimens of the copper in various stages. It was strange to look in at a hole in the side of one of the furnaces, and see the golden surface of the molten metal as clear as a mirror, and stranger still to watch the liquid stream flowing out into the moulds of sand constructed for its reception.
The morning of the 7th, Sunday, was very foggy, the sun sometimes breaking through the veil for a few minutes, and then again disappearing. We had hoped to have had the opportunity of going to church on shore in the forenoon, as Lota is one of the stations of the South American Mission; but owing to the absence of the Rev. Mr. Gardiner, the resident clergyman, who was then in England, we were disappointed. Between one and two P.M., a party of us landed to take a walk, with the intention of gaining a view of the neighbouring bay and town of Coronel. In passing through some grounds surrounding the house of the proprietor of the Lota mines, it was pleasant to recognise a number of our familiar garden favourites at home, such as mignonette, wallflower, stock, candytuft, snapdragon, and others, which we had not seen for nearly two years. The town presented the usual Roman Catholic Sunday aspect—knots of people, many of them half intoxicated, lounging idly about the streets, while, issuing from the miserable wooden hovels, we heard songs, accompanied by the “tweedling” of guitars. As unfortunately the afternoon was very misty, we failed in our object, and after a time made our way down to the beach to the north of Lota, and walked along the rocks, which in certain spots were very remarkable, stretching out from the base of steep sandstone cliffs, so as to form broad, flat plateaux, exhibiting numerous deep fissures and hollows, produced by the action of the surf, which at this time was beating violently outside. A pretty purple starfish, apparently a species of Asterina, was abundant on the flat rock in moist places, and the pools abounded in Actinia, Mollusca, and Crustacea. At one spot a regular hedge, about a foot high, of a stout, branching, shrubby sea-weed,stretched along for many yards, rising and falling upon the top of the surf
On the 8th, Captain Mayne and I landed in the morning for the purpose of taking a long ride into the country, but rain unfortunately came on, and lasted so long as to prevent our carrying out the project. At the house of a gentleman who acts as consular agent, etc., I was shown a small collection of cryptogamic plants from Valdivia, and I found that by far the greater number were identical with species which I had collected in the Strait and Channels. Later in the day the engineer of one of the coal-mines (that nearest the town) having kindly offered to take any of us who felt disposed to visit the pit, two of the officers, with myself, availed ourselves of the chance presented, and, arrived at the mouth of the shaft, descended it in two relays, in a cage. The depth of the shaft is fifty-five fathoms, but I was informed that the mine in some parts sinks to a hundred. There are three workable seams of Lota coal, the lowermost five feet in thickness, the middle four, and the upper three; but of these, only the two lower were displayed in this mine. Above the lowermost seam occurs a very thin stratum (about an inch and a half in thickness) of very finely laminated sandstone, abounding in the leaves of dicotyledonous plants; and between this and the next seam of coal a band of compact grayish-green sandstone about ten feet thick intervenes. Provided with miners' lamps, we explored the mine for a considerable distance, under the guidance of the overseer, passing through a passage little more than three feet high for part of its extent, and seeing the coal worked, each of us going through the orthodox process of hewing out a sample with a pick for ourselves. The miners were naked to the waist, on account of the heat; and we were told that most of those employed were half-breed Araucanians. From what I could learn, these Chilian miners appear to be quite as improvident in their habits as colliers frequently are in England; for they are paid once a fortnight, and then no more work is to be got out of them till the greater part of tlieir money is squandered in drink. Like their northern brethren, they are also fond of good living.
On the 9th, at seven A.M., we left Lota for Concepcion Bay. The day was rather hazy, though fine, so that we could not take in the full extent of this fine bay, as we entered it, passing the island of Quiriquina at its mouth, early in the afternoon. We anchored at about half-past two off Talcahuano, the seaport of Concepcion; and soon after I landed with some of the officers, and we crossed over the narrow neck of land which separates the bay from Port San Vicente to the southward. Owing to the season of the year, and the sterility of the soil, there were very few plants in flower, a yellow Œnothera and the Phacelia circinata, previously obtained in the Strait of Magellan, being nearly the only species met with, with the exception of a leafless spiny Rhamnaceous under-shrub, a species of Colletia, which was very abundant. We noticed several specimens of the burrowing owl common in the Strait, and captured a snake (Tachymenis Chilensis) and several specimens of a curious little spotted frog, the Pleurodema Bibronii, provided with a prominent gland on each side of the loins. The sandy beach of San Vicente Bay was strewed with hundreds of fragments of a crustacean of the genus Hippa, the H. talpoides, but very few perfect examples were present. On our return to Talcahuano, we occupied a few minutes in the inspection of the town, which presents a very squalid appearance. By this time the mist had cleared off, allowing us to gain a fine view of the bay, and a lovely serene sunset was succeeded by a fine starlight evening. Arrangements were made that night for a ride over to Concepcion, about nine miles distant, next day, the British Consul, Mr. Cunningham,§ having kindly placed at Captain Mayne's disposal three horses, one of which was allotted to me.
§ The author offers no explanation for the Consul's identical last name. Presumably, he refers to British Vice-Consul D. Robert Cunningham in Talcahuano, Chile.
The morning of the 10th was beautifully bright and clear, and the air delicious, in fact everything that could be wished to make a ride thoroughly charming, and shortly after nine A.M. I landed with Captain Mayne and one of the officers, and we proceeded to the consul's office. While waiting for the horses, we had a considerable amount of talk with Mr. Cunningham, who possesses a most extensive knowledge of Chilian affairs, and I then inquired of him if anything was accurately known as to the numbers of the Araucanian Indians, receiving for reply that it was impossible to ascertain precisely, but that they probably numbered about 50,000, although they were rapidly disappearing—a fact that one could not hear without regret, as there can be no doubt that these people constitute one of the finest aboriginal races in the world, and they have maintained their independence, ever since the Spanish conquest, in an almost marvellous degree. Shortly before ten A.M. we mounted our steeds and rode out of the town, passing the entrance of a hotel where five of the officers were selecting horses wherewith to follow us. The ride proved most delightful, the country, though rather flat and sterile in many places, looking very attractive in the clear sunlight. As we rode along I observed numerous winding rifts in the ground, probably due to the frequent occurrence of earthquakes. On passing various hovels from time to time, we were assailed by packs of curs, who rushed after us, barking furiously and snapping at our horses' heels. Here and there some pretty Acacias, not natives of the country, were in flower, and the rounded bushes of the Boldu prevailed in the uncultivated tracts. We did not gain any prospect of Concepcion till we were close upon it, owing to its straggling over a flat depressed tract of country, and the greater number of the houses, on account of the earthquake shocks, being built only one storey high. On riding into the town, we dismounted at a hotel, where we were joined by the others. Here we remained for about a couple of hours, and had luncheon, where we tasted for the first time a very good red wine of the country, which goes under the name of “Mosto.” After this we got into our saddles, and proceeded, under the escort of a soldier, sent for that purpose by the Intendente, to whom Captain Mayne brought an introduction, to view the environs of the city. Our guide first conducted us to the summit of a low hill, whence we had a good bird's-eye view of Concepcion, and then led to a spot on the banks of the Bio-Bio river where there is a ferry, which a coach which runs between Concepcion and Coronel daily crosses. Our sight-seeing over, we rode rapidly back to Talcahuano, and soon after went on board, immediately after which we got under way for Valparaiso. The evening was calm, but a thick fog settled down, and we steamed along all night at a rate of from six to seven knots, the steam-whistle being blown at intervals to give timely warning to any other vessels that might be in the way. The 11th was perfectly calm, but very foggy for some time. . We steamed along through a sea like oil, noticing thousands of large Acalephse floating in the water, and many specimens of a pretty gray petrel resting on its surface; and very early on the morning of the 12th we anchored in the bay of Valparaiso.
The morning of the 12th was bright and sunny, though rather chilly, and on coming on deck we naturally gazed with a considerable amount of interest on the surrounding scene, which was new to most of us, and destined to serve as our winter quarters for the next three or four months. I must confess that my first impressions of the city and surrounding country were those of great disappointment. I suppose I had formed extravagant ideas of the attractions of Valparaiso, from the various accounts of it which I had heard, and was surprised to behold a shabby-looking large town, the main streets of which straggled along a narrow strip of ground at the foot of a bare, rugged, steep, saddlebacked, reddish-coloured range of hills upwards of 1400 feet in height, furrowed with numerous narrow ravines or quebradas, with their sides piled up with dwellings of a very mean description of architecture, tenanted chiefly by the poorer part of the population. In the Channels trees were rather in excess; but here, wherever we directed our gaze around the sides of the bay, we beheld an entire destitution of vegetation higher than low shrubs, with the exception of a very few trees in the gardens of some houses situated near the top of one of the hills, the Cerro Allegro, and which we afterwards learned were chiefly tenanted by English merchants. But if there is little that is interesting or attractive in the immediate vicinity of the city, there is amply sufficient in the distant prospect to satisfy the observer's sense of wonder and beauty; for on casting the eye eastward on a clear day, he will see the horizon bounded by the snowclad range of the Andes, including the magnificent precipitous mass of Aconcagua, upwards of 23,000 feet in height, and generally regarded as the highest mountain of the ISTew World. We were favoured with a large amount of clear weather during the earlier part of our stay, and day after day I watched with unabated interest these “silent pinnacles of aged snow,” as they stood “sunset-flushed,” the tints varying from a delicate pale blush to crimson with blue shadows.
Undoubtedly the two great drawbacks to Valparaiso, as a port, are the depth of the anchorage and its entire openness towards the north, thus affording no shelter to the shipping during the winter months, when violent northerly gales prevail, producing a very heavy sea in the bay, and frequently causing much damage to merchant vessels by driving them on shore. These “northers,” as a rule, last from one to three days; and from our experience of them, I have no hesitation in stating my opinion that, as regards the discomfort they occasion, I would quite as soon be at sea as in port during their continuance.
There was a considerable amount of merchant shipping in the bay on the morning of our arrival, as well as representatives of the navies of most European nations—Great Britain furnishing, in addition to ourselves, the “Pylades,” “Malacca,” and “Nereus,” the last a large vessel of the antique type, permanently maintained at Valparaiso as a store-ship. The forenoon was fully occupied in the perusal of a large supply of letters from England, which we found awaiting us, while in the afternoon many of us landed to inspect the city. The streets were much narrower, and appeared much shabbier in general aspect, than those of Monte Video; while the shops, as a rule, were poorer looking, and nearly all the articles contained in them were extravagantly dear—upon an average, I should think, twice as expensive as at Monte Video, and four times more so than in England.† A ferro-carril, or iron railway, is laid down through some of the principal streets, and upon this numerous omnibuses drawn by two horses run, so as to make a circuit of the lower part of the town, the terminus being at a railway station at one end. Some of the buildings still bore evidence of the Spanish bombardment about a year previously, the custom-house being yet in ruins, and cannon-balls sticking in the walls of some of the houses. The churches, like most South American edifices of the kind, are exceedingly poor as regards architecture, stucco largely prevailing in the interior, and the spires in general being constructed of wood—in one instance painted green! The population seemed to be pretty equally divided between English, Germans, and Chilians; and the excessive fondness of the last mentioned, alike young and old, for sweetmeats, was evinced by the inordinate amount of confiterias, or confectioners' shops, as well as the numerous stalls devoted to the same purpose at the corners of the streets. Many of the manners and customs of the Chilian part of the population, which afterwards became so familiar to us as not in any measure to attract our attention, struck us on this occasion as peculiar; and among these I may instance the predilection which appeared to prevail among the male portion of the community for enveloping their necks in huge comforters, a habit which somewhat oddly contrasted with that possessed by the ladies of walking bonnetless about the streets. The “vigilantes,” or policemen, formed also a conspicuous feature, as they marched along in their uniforms with swords by their sides. At night the streets resound with the noise of the bone whistles which they carry, and blow as signals to one another. As far as I could learn, they do not appear to be regarded as by any means a very efficient body.
† I may mention, as a good example of the prices we required to pay for comparatively inexpensive articles, that a quire of stout blotting-paper cost me two dollars and a half!
On the following day (12th) we drove in one of the omnibuses on the ferro-carril to a public garden near one end of the town. It being winter, and the climate extratropical, most of the trees were comparatively destitute of leaves, and many of the plants were out of flower. Some handsome Acacias were, however, in full bloom, and about these a number of humming-birds were flying. This garden appeared to us but a poor affair at the time of our first visit, but farther on in the season it often became the terminus of our afternoon walks; and two or three months later many fine plants were in flower, including various handsome Malvaceœ, Magnoliaceœ, Apocynaceœ, and numerous representatives of other orders, among which I may mention the Floripondio, Datura (Brugmansia) arborea, a tall shrub, much cultivated in Chili on account of its large, drooping, fragrant, trumpet-shaped white flowers. A closely-allied and even handsomer species (D. suaveolens) forms one of the glories of the gardens at Rio, attaining a height of ten or more feet, and being covered with drooping white blossoms, which sometimes exceed nine inches in length. This day we also visited the market, held in a large covered building. Oranges, pears, and small purple grapes, were the prevalent fruits; and there was also a considerable number of the cherimoyer (Anona cherimolia), which is rather extensively cultivated in Chili, and, were it not for the size and number of its seeds, would, I think, be one of the finest fruits in existence, the pulp tasting much like strawberries and cream. The exterior is of a dull greenish colour, appearing as if covered with large polygonal scales.
On the 14th, Dr. Campbell and I landed to take a long walk into the country, driving in one of the omnibuses to where the road leading out to Santiago begins, and, after following it for a short distance, striking into a little valley, through which a small stream runs. We had not gone far before we recognised the characteristic foliage of the castoroil plant (Ricinus coinmunis), which we had seen already both at the Cape de Verdes and Rio de Janeiro; and soon afterwards we observed numerous bushes of a species of Fuchsia which was new to us. This, the F. lycioides, formed a low, rather stiffly-growing shrub, with its branches covered with small leaves, and rather insignificant pale rose-coloured flowers, grouped closely together. On the banks of the stream several shrubby plants abounded, the most prevalent being a Myrtaceous bush (Eugenia stenophylla); several Compositæ; the “Colliguay” of the Chilians (Colliguaya odorifera), a Euphorbiaceous under-shrub abounding in milky juice, and bearing hard three-lobed capsules; and the “Quilo” (Muhlenheckia sagittœfolia), one of the Polygonaceœ, the small fruits of which are much esteemed by Chilian children, while the roots are held in repute by their parents, who employ them as medicine; a small yellow-flowered Calceolaria; an Oxalis, with a short, thick, decumbent stem, fleshy leaves, and yellow flowers, occurring on rocks; wild potatoes, and the Cuscuta seen at Lota, as well as several species of ferns, including a fine Adiantum† were also abundant; and we were pleased by finding at one spot Viola odorata in flower, doubtless escaped from some garden. On subsequently ascending some steep rounded hills, we noticed many specimens of a Cereus, growing from ten to twelve feet high, and armed with very strong spines; and bushes of a strong thorny Adesmia, with yellow flowers and very small pinnate leaves, the A. microphylla, abounded; while the short herbage on the summits was golden in many places with the flowers of the little Oxalis lobata, or “Flor de la perdiz” of the Chilians; and here and there the old blackened flower-stems of a remarkable plant of the pine-apple order, with long leaves armed with ferocious curved spines, the Puya coarctata, formed conspicuous objects. After crossing various low hills, and intervening narrow quebradas, we at length got down to the beach at some miles' distance from the town; but as the tide was high, and a surf breaking, the only objects observed by us were numbers of dead shells of Concholepas, the inhabitants of which had served as a repast to people in the neighbourhood. We then followed the line of railway for some distance, paying a short visit to an extensive slaughter-house, which presented a most repulsive appearance, and finally wended our way into the town.
† On the west coast of South America no representatives of this genus were met with south of Chiloe.
On the afternoon of the 18th I walked with several of the officers to look at a raised beach beyond the forts to the N.W. of the town. It was, as nearly as I could calculate, about seventy feet above the present sea-level, and abounded in shells all apparently belonging to existing species, Fissurellœ and Concholepades being the prevailing forms. As, however, I could see no good sections, I could not ascertain what was the thickness of the shell-bed, and I was not without a lurking doubt that the collection of shells might be rather due to an old “Kjokkenmödding,”§ than to an elevation of the land. We subsequently descended to the seabeach, where I spent a short time in search of marine animals, but was not particularly successful, owing to the circumscribed nature of the field of my investigations; for although it was low tide, not more than five or six yards of the rocks were accessible, even by wading. At high-water mark hundreds of a Littorina, the L. zebra, with a pretty white striped shell, were congregated, and further out I found specimens of Monoceros glabratum, and several Fissicrellœ and Chitons. After I had finished my explorations we continued our walk for some distance along the heights to the N.W., meeting on the way an old man who had been fishing for large Echini, of which he had obtained a basketful, for food. The instrument by which he obtained them consisted of a long pole, with a number of little sticks attached to one end of it in a circle.
§ According to Thomas Henry Huxley's Man's Place in Nature, 1864, p. 106, a refuse heap.
The following day (19th) three of us landed in the morning, and having procured horses, rode out, under the escort of one of the officers of the “Nereus,” to the Placilla, a broad flat valley, about seven miles distant, on the route to Santiago. Our route lay chiefly over the top of low treeless hills, covered with a red soil, and dotted with low shrubs such as the Boldu, and a Leguminous plant of the tribe Sophoreœ (Edwardsia Chilensis), together with the Cereus previously mentioned, and various aromatic Labiatœ, and commanded a magnificent view of the Andes, which were very clearly displayed on this warm, bright day. On reaching our destination we put up our horses at the post-house, and then set out on a walk of about a couple of miles to see a waterfall in a very remarkable deep narrow gorge. On the way we saw several specimens of Sturnella militaris, and some small finches, one of which, the Zonotrichia matutina, is as common about Valparaiso as the house-sparrow is in England, and bears a considerable resemblance to it; and I also noticed a variety of plants, among which a purple-flowered Labiate, with an odour of thyme, the Gardoquia Gilliesii was the most prevalent. We found the waterfall very small, owing to the absence of rain for some time past, and after contemplating it, returned to the post-house, and had a substantial luncheon, of which the national “casuela,” an excellent soup formed of fowls, eggs, and vegetables, boiled together, formed the principal part. We then remounted, and rode back to Valparaiso, following a different and very striking road which wound along the sides of the hills. On the way we observed numerous specimens of a low palm† of ungraceful appearance (owing to the bulging of its stem in the middle), which yields a sweet sap used as sugar; and we met numerous specimens of the characteristic Chilian waggons, covered with domeshaped roofs of ox-hide, and drawn by teams of oxen. The team generally consists of from eight to twelve animals yoked together in pairs, the yoke being formed of a tliick, stout, heavy wooden beam, one extremity of which is secured immediately behind the horns of the animal, and each yoke being connected at the middle with the following one by a length of stout hide-rope. The oxen are in general very handsome and powerful-looking animals, with fine horns. They are urged along by a goad formed of a stick six or seven feet long, with a nail attached to one end. This the drivers use very dexterously, digging it into the animals so as to guide them with great precision.
† Formerly regarded as Jubœa spectabilis, but now, I believe, recognised as a distinct genus under the name of Micrococos Chilensis.
The 21st was our first Sunday on shore at Valparaiso, the weather having been too bad on the previous one to allow of our landing. After attending morning service in the English church on one of the hills, some of us whiled away our time in the inspection of the Protestant and Roman Catholic cemeteries, which lie side by side. It was amusing to observe how the taste for turgid and ridiculous inscriptions, so marked in cemeteries and churchyards in Great Britain, was maintained abroad, contrasting strangely with the touching simplicity and pathos displayed in most of the German epitaphs, which generally began with “Hier ruht,”§ which will be admitted to be an improvement upon “Here where this silent marble weeps,”§§ and such like effusions. Many of the Roman Catholic tombstones had photographs of the deceased covered with glass built into them, and there were likewise many devices indicative of the employments of those buried underneath. As respects cessation of labour on Sundays, Valparaiso has decidedly the advantage over Rio, probably owing to most of the principal shops and warehouses being in the hands of English and Germans. It does not, however, appear to be much of a day of rest on board the Chilian ships of war; for the unfortunate brass bands, at all events, seemed to do double duty on Sunday, clashing away, with hardly any intermission, from morning to night.
§ “Here rests”
§§ Thomas Gray (1716-1771). Epitaph on Mrs. Clarke: “Lo! where this silent marble weeps, …”
On the 23d we had our first experience of a regular “norther” in the bay, and most unpleasant it was, the vessel rolling and pitching as badly as if she had been at sea. The 26th I devoted to the exploration of various small quebradas in the neighbourhood of Valparaiso, in search of plants, but owing to the season did not obtain many species. The principal found were the beautiful large white Mexican poppy (Argemone Mexicana), an Escallonia (E. rubra) nearly out of bloom, and many specimens of the “Anenuca” (Habranthus hesperius), an Amaryllid widely distributed in Chili, the flowers of which vary much in colour—shades of orange, crimson, and scarlet being the most common. I passed many carcasses of mules and horses in various stages of decay, and observed, rather to my astonishment, a group of hens feeding on the flesh of the leg of a mule.
On the 1st of July two of the officers and myself started on an excursion to the small town of Santa Rosa, in the province of Los Andes, situated at the foot of the Cumbre pass leading through the Cordillera. We had been anxiously hoping for suitable weather for the trip, and were favoured with a very fine day, not particularly bright, but remarkably clear. On arriving at the railway station, we took out tickets for Llaillai, about fifty miles or rather more distant, and nearly midway between Valparaiso and Santiago, the Chilian capital. The train left at ten A.M., and soon after, when we had left Valparaiso some distance behind us, we observed a decided improvement in the features of the country, the low hills and valleys being much more richly clothed with verdure than those in the immediate neighbourhood of the city, and there being a larger proportion of tall shrubs and trees. Some of the land appeared very fertile, and droves of oxen and large flocks of turkeys were pasturing on the fields. At the station of Quillota, where we stopped for about ten minutes, the carriages were besieged by vendors of fruit, consisting of grapes, oranges, apples, peaches, and lucumas. The last mentioned, the produce of a low tree of the order Sapotacese, we regarded as far from palatable, though it is highly esteemed by the Chilians. It is about the size of a small apple, of a rounded form, tapering slightly to the stalked extremity, with a green rind suggestive of that of a fig, enveloping a yellow mealy pulp, in consistence intermediate between the yolk of a hard-boiled egg and a potato, and enclosing two or three seeds shaped a good deal like those of the horse-chestnut. The number that some of our fellow-passengers managed to consume was surprising. We reached the Llaillai station soon after one o'clock, and on alighting proceeded to make inquiries as to the means of transit to San Felipe, a town in the valley of the Aconcagua, and about fifteen miles distant from Santa Rosa. Riding was the first idea that suggested itself to us, but was soon abandoned as impracticable, the road being feet deep in black mud; and, accordingly, after some deliberation, we engaged three places in one of two miserable, dirty, rickety old coaches, about the size of cabs, which we were informed were about to start for San Felipe. Our prospects of a safe arrival at our destination, the condition of the road which stretched out in front of us considered, did not appear of a very reassuring nature; but there being no alternative, we established ourselves in one of the vehicles; my companions with two Cliilians occupying the inside seats, while I mounted the box beside the driver. the latter, a truculentlooking fellow, being anxious to accommodate a friend of his, endeavoured to persuade me, by dint of many entreaties in Spanish, to all of which I turned a deaf ear, to dismount and go inside, finally appealing to our two Chilian fellow-passengers as to the rights of the case. As they, however, took my part, he at length sulkily yielded the point, and proceeded to harness the horses. In the meanwhile, the other coach got under way, and we watched its progress with much interest as it struggled along through the mud, which, in many places, came up as high as the axles of the wheels. Our horses appeared far from promising specimens, being lean, wretched-looking hacks, though, as we afterwards found, their aspect belied them, as they did their work remarkably well. Five were harnessed abreast to the coach, while a sixth was mounted by a lad who rode in front as pioneer, and in the worst parts of the road connected his steed with the coach by means of a rope attached to his saddle by one extremity, and hooking on to one of the shafts by the other. After a good deal of that necessary delay which seems to form an inseparable part of the Chilian character, we set forth. The first part of the route lay across the valley of Llaillai, and the state in which it was was sufficiently appalling. About twenty yards from the station was a Stygian pool of liquid mire between two and three feet deep, and a little beyond this, where the mud was more tenacious, several waggons had broken down, and their teams of oxen, urged by the goads of the drivers, were vainly endeavouring to drag them out of the slough. This of course added to our difficulties, as it left barely room enough to allow us to pass, and several times our horses were nearly down on their knees, but immediately dragged up, and energetically addressed with shouts of “Arriva-riva-riva,”by our cuchero, who, though a ruffianly-looking individual, proved an excellent driver, so that we succeeded in avoiding any mishap. Before long we quitted the Llaillai valley, and began to ascend a road which followed a zigzag serpentine course up the side of a steep hill or “cuesta.” Here we overtook the other coach, passing it to our satisfaction, and meeting various waggons going in the opposite direction, there being just space sufficient, with skilful driving, to allow of our passing them without pitching down the steep bank into the valley below. After a time we gained our highest point in a hollow between two hill-tops, and halted for a few minutes to rest the horses, allowing us to gain a view of the valley of Llaillai behind us, and that of the Aconcagua in front. Into this latter we now began to descend, the road continuing good while it kept on the sides of the hills, but on reaching the bottom of the valley becoming as bad as ever. We then drove along at the foot of hills bristling with Cacti (Cereus Quisco) growing from twelve to eighteen feet high, and armed with spines from two to five or six inches long, their strange candelabra-like forms frequently rendered of a vivid crimson hue, in consequence of being thickly covered with the red flowers of a leafless epiphyte, the Loranthus aphylhis. The road was bounded on either side, in many places for miles at a time, by rows of tall Lombardy poplars, and up the stems of many of these a Bignoniaceous climber, the Eccremocarpus scaber, ascended to a considerable height, its handsome red blossoms here and there producing a bright patch of colour. On we went, bumping and plunging, the coach often forming a very acute angle with the road, into the mud of which we appeared in imminent danger of being capsized, with the fertile flat plain of the valley on one side of us, stony hills supporting hardly any other vegetation but Cacti on the other, and in front, several jagged black peaks thrown out in striking relief by the snowy chain of the Andes behind them. Now and then we passed a group of mud-hovels, destitute alike of windows and chimneys; and at intervals, broken-down waggons, with a number of peons attired in brilliantly striped ponchos, endeavouring to make the oxen drag them out of the mire by dint of savage yells and proddings with their long goads. At one place, where a waggon had sunk on one side ahove the axle of the wheel in the mud, twelve oxen were in vain struggling to drag it out, urged on by about as many men armed with goads, the scene appearing like a species of battle. All this time we were ascending, though very gradually, towards the Cordillera, and by-and-by we flanked the jagged hills in front. About half-way to San Felipe we changed horses, getting five strong white quadrupeds which behaved admirably. The driver, who some time previously had been mollified by the judicious administration of a little cognac, now laid himself out to be agreeable, and he and I held much conversation, with I fear a rather misty conception of each other's meaning. He farther displayed his accomplishments in driving to the fullest extent whenever we came to a good piece of road, giving a wild yell which had the effect of making our steeds set off at full gallop, and as they were all harnessed abreast, they presented a rather remarkable spectacle, tearing along with the old coach behind, which must have been of strong material not to dissolve into its constituent elements. As we drove along we passed near the openings of several copper and silver mines, one of the latter of which we were informed was one of the richest in Chili, and at a short distance from San Felipe we forded the river Aconcagua. Arrived at San Felipe, we dismounted at a hotel on one side of a large Plaza planted with rows of trees, and after consultation agreed on pushing on to Santa Rosa that evening so as not to break into another day. We found that one of our companions, a most good-humoured elderly gentleman, was likewise going, and therefore engaged our places in the same coach, and set out without loss of time. Just as we left the town, we became spectators of one of the most glorious effects that I have ever witnessed. the day, though clear, had not been sunny, so that, although the snowy heights of the Andes had been distinctly visible throughout the greater part of our journey, they had not been illuminated by the rays of the sun. But now, as we turned the corner of a street, the chain of the Cordillera suddenly burst on our gaze in such a blaze of splendour that it almost seemed as if the windows of heaven had been opened for a moment, permitting a flood of crimson light to stream forth upon the snow. The sight was so unexpected and so transcendently magnificent that a breathless silence fell upon us for a few moments, while even the driver stopped his horses. This deep red glow lasted for three or four minutes, and then rapidly faded into that lovely rosy hue so characteristic of snow at sunset among the Alps.
As usual, however, there was but a step from the sublime to the ridiculous, for the light failed rapidly, and we bumped and rattled along a road strewn with large rounded stones, apparently deposited by the Aconcagua in a state of flood. Fortunately, it was a moonlight night, or there might have been some chance of our journey terminating nowhere in particular. We had bought some bread at San Felipe, as we had fasted since the morning, and this we now essayed to consume with the adjunct of a little cognac, a vast amount of difficulty being encountered in making your flask reach your mouth without chucking yourself on the chin with it, hitting your nose, or capsizing the precious liquid. Our Chilian companion was in a state of great hilarity over our rough method of progression, and asked us many questions as to who we were, and why we were going to Santa Rosa. On our telling him that we had spent two seasons in the Strait of Magellan, and that before long we were going back again, he ejaculated “Caramba!” with great emphasis. He informed us that there was a good French hotel at Santa Rosa, and kindly volunteered to go with us, and introduce us to the landlord thereof. We stopped for a few minutes at a house by the wayside at his request, as he wished to see some friends there; and presently a man appeared at the coach-window with a great tumbler of “aguardiente,” an intensely fiery spirit, tasting strong of anise-seed, which he presented to us in the most polite manner. We of course tasted it for civility's sake, but rather astonished him by not drinking it right off. This ceremony over, we again set forth, and reached Santa Rosa about seven, alighting at the French hotel, “Hôtel Colon,” on one side of a large Plaza, planted with four rows of trees. Here we were introduced to the landlord, who shook hands with us very cordially; and as one of our party was an excellent French scholar, we were soon on the most agreeable terms. Our friend then took his leave, and we sat warming our feet over a charcoal brazier, as we were somewhat cold after our long journey, while dinner was being got ready for us. On making inquiries from our host as to the sights of Santa Rosa, he recommended us to ride on one of the following days to the top of a steep hill in the neighbourhood, named “Il Cerro de los Indies,” from being the last place in this district where the Indians had held out, and from whence they made raids on the neighbourhood, telling us that the view from the top was esteemed very fine, and volunteering to be our guide thither. After talking for some time, we retired to rest. The bed-chambers were ranged round a court paved with round stones, like a stable-yard, and opened directly upon it. They possessed no windows properly so called, being lighted from the doors, the upper parts of which were formed of strong parallel iron rods, with interspaces about four inches wide, so as to present a rather prison-like appearance. These interspaces were not glazed, but hinged shutters were attached on the inner side of the door, and closed at night to exclude the cold. We found rooms and beds alike remarkably clean and wonderfully comfortable, and altogether, from our experience of this hotel, I can strongly recommend it to the attention of visitors.
The morning of the 2d was remarkably fine, being clear, cool, and invigorating. After an early breakfast we spent an hour in a vain attempt to procure horses or mules, only succeeding at last in arranging that we should be supplied with them on the morrow. We thereafter resolved on strolling out along the road leading into the Cumbre Pass, and spending the day in the open air. Leaving the town, we slowly wended our way along a road following the course of the river Aconcagua, and bounded on each side by low walls of “adobè” (sun-dried bricks made of mud and straw, and frequently of very large size. Some which we saw were at least three feet long, by a foot broad and two feet thick.) These walls were thatched on the top with brushwood, to prevent the rains washing them away, an arrangement which communicated to them rather an odd effect. We passed a vineyard where the people were engaged in bruising the purple grapes in a kind of winepress for the manufacture of “chicha,” or some kind of country wine. The bunches of grapes were heaped on a sort of hurdle made of saplings, laid on the top of a vat of bullock's hide placed on the ground in an inclined plane. The men bruised the bunches over the hurdle, so that the pulp, juice, and a considerable part of the rind also, were squeezed through into the vat below, where they formed a large mass on which numbers of bees were crawling about. From this mass the juice distilled, flowing in a stream through an opening at the lower end of the vat into a wooden tub sunk in the ground. On tasting the juice in the tub, we found that it possessed no flavour but that of sweetness. At some distance beyond the vineyard we passed a remarkable suspension-bridge over the river, at one end of which was a hovel, with walls formed entirely of reeds and saplings; and farther on we noticed many more habitations of an equally primitive description. Three methods of building seem to prevail among the dwellings of the lower classes in the country. In the first, the walls are formed of adobè bricks, in the second of saplings plastered with mud, and in the third of saplings with the interstices left open. About noon we ascended a hill of about eight hundred feet in height, for the sake of the view to be gained from the summit, which was very fine. The tall Cereus abounded everywhere on the hills; and on cutting out pieces from the circumference of some of the plants with a pocketknife, I observed an abundance of sphseraphides, which fell out like little white grains of sand. On the parasitic Loranthus, I found many examples of an insect apparently allied to Coccus, with a thick gummy secretion covering the dorsal surface. After descending this hill, we continued to follow the road for some miles, at length leaving the mud walls behind us. As it was winter, very few plants were in bloom, a pretty purple-flowered shrubby species of Witheringia, and a Leguminous shrub (Psoralea), with racemes of small bluishwhite flowers, being almost the only specimens obtained. A characteristic feature of these mountain-roads was furnished by long cavalcades of mules carrying great hide panniers, the leader provided with a bell which tinkles as he goes. We spent some time watching with interest a couple of peons engaged in lassoing a wild ox, which made violent efforts to gore their horses, but was successfully captured without inflicting any damage upon them. On our way back to the town, as we were approaching a cottage, three men marched out to meet us with a hornful of liquid, which we were informed was “chicha” and which we were requested to drink. Complying with this invitation, we found the said chicha most refreshingly acid, and very grateful to our parched palates. We reached the hotel in time for the table d'hûte at five o'clock. A number of people were gathered round the table when we arrived, and in a few minutes after, a self-important looking individual, probably the Intendente of the town, or some other local dignitary, came in, and took his place at the head of the table, all the guests, with the exception of ourselves, standing up to receive him. In conformity with Chilian customs, a large number of courses were handed round, some eight or nine at the least I should think, and the landlord, to do honour to his English guests, produced a bottle of Worcester sauce, which was examined by the other members of the company with much curiosity. Some hours later, our Chilian acquaintance of the day before came to pay his respects, and the artist of our party exhibited the sketches which he had taken that day. One of the spectators was a young Chilian, who spoke very good English, and gave us much information about the country, kindly offering, rather to my amusement, to furnish me with introductions to some of his friends in the neighbourhood of Chilian, although he was entirely ignorant of my name. After strolling about the Plaza for a short time, listening to the music of a very good military band, we retired for the night, anxiously hoping for a fine day on the morrow for our ride to “Il Cerro de los Indios.”
Heavy rain fell during the night, and when we got up next morning, though it was fair, the sky was entirely veiled by a canopy of grayish-brown clouds, and the mountains were shrouded with mist. Presently rain began to descend again, but fortunately did not last long, and we set out on a walk before breakfast to consider the appearance of the weather, which showed symptoms of improvement. By the wayside I observed several bushes of a thorny Acacia (A. cavenia), with orange-like flowers. This species, which is known under the popular name of “Espino,” is widely distributed in Chili, and from the hard compact nature of its wood, which takes a fine polish, is employed for a variety of purposes in carpentry. On our return to the hotel the landlord informed us that he thought we might as well attempt the proposed ride, and after a good deal of delay, caused by his equipping himself with a breech-loading gun of peculiar construction, and other sporting appliances, we mounted our horses and left the town, accompanied by a peon who acted as guide, and presented a most picturesque appearance, attired in the national costume of a poncho, with his feet in the great carved wooden triangular-shaped stirrups so commonly employed in Chili, and which weigh sometimes as much as two or three pounds. Our route lay through the valley for a time, after which we gradually ascended a range of hills, riding along their crest till we reached the Indian mountain. The sure-footedness of our horses was here put to the test, as part of the way lay along the sides of a very steep hill, where the track was so narrow and the ground so insecure, that it would have required some care even on the part of a pedestrian to maintain a footing. We found, after attaining a certain elevation, that the Cacti were succeeded by a variety of shrubs and low trees, a circumstance probably resulting from a more copious supply of moisture. The day gradually cleared up, and the view from the summit of the hill (about 1600 or 1700 feet above the level of the valley, which is, I should observe, between three and four thousand feet above that of the sea), was remarkably fine, as we saw at a glance the entire valley of the Aconcagua, extending green and fertile, here and there dotted with long rows of poplars and weeping willows, reminding us of pictures of the plains of Lombardy; herds of sheep and cattle pasturing on the meadows, through which the silver thread of the Aconcagua wound its way; while on every side towered up the snowy mountains, with their summits partially enveloped in mist, and long lines of cloud reposing half-way up their sides. A universal silence reigned around, only broken by the distant flowing of the river, and it seemed as if the valley was hushed to sleep under the shadow of the everlasting hills. In a little more than an hour we commenced the descent, which was so steep in many parts that we realised the advantages of the peaked Chilian saddles, without which it would have been difficult to avoid slipping over our horses' heads. In the evening our Chilian friend again came to see us, and we bid him good-bye as we were obliged to leave Santa Rosa next morning.
On the 4th we started at half-past seven A.M. for San Felipe, where we breakfasted (nearly all the dishes served to us tasting horribly of garlic), and then taking our places in another coach, began the return journey to Llaillai. We were unfortunate enough on this occasion to have a very stupid dilatory driver, and just as we had reached the top of the winding road leading down into the valley of Llaillai, we saw, to our dismay, the train from Santiago coming up in one direction, while that from Valparaiso approached in another. As we had been informed that the train only waited for a quarter of an hour, we doubted much whether we would manage to catch it, and anxiously watched for any symptom of its moving as we rattled down the hill and plunged through the mud of the valley. Arrived at the station, we dashed out of the coach in between the two trains, and into an empty carriage, apparently much to the amazement of the phlegmatic Chilians, who were watching our movements. In a few minutes, as the train still remained stationary, we bethought ourselves of the advisability of procuring tickets, and one of the party then got out to endeavour to obtain them, running in the first place along to the engine and telling the stokers to “hold on the train,” receiving in answer an “Ay, ay, sir,” for the officials were English. Our object was successfully accomplished, and soon after we left Llaillai behind us, and reached Valparaiso at about five P.M., having enjoyed a most delightful trip.
Some days after this Dr. Campbell and I had a pleasant walk, under the guidance of two of the officers of H.M.S. “Topaze,” over the hills behind Valparaiso, to some beautiful little green quebradas at the back of them. Here we met with several plants that we had not observed previously, as well as several old friends, among which was the handsome blue-berried Citharexylon cyanocarpum, so common in Chiloe, and the Winter's-bark (Drimys Winteri, var. Chilensis), which was flowering most luxuriantly. A barberry, with curiously palmated prickles (B. actinacantha?), a yellow-flowered Ribes (R. punctatum), an Escallonia, with the Boldu, the Tupa salicifolia, and the Litré (Litrea venenosa), were among the prevailing shrubby plants. The two last are both possessed of highly poisonous properties, the former abounding in a milky acrid juice, and the latter having the reputation of causing swellings on the bodies of those who gather it, or even sit under its shade. Among the herbaceous plants noticed, were a white Anemone, the Habranthus hesperius, and last, but not least, the beautiful Tropœolum tricolor, which was just beginning to come into bloom. Later in the season its elegant twining stem and lovely flowers, coloured with yellow, scarlet, and dark purple verging on black, clothed many of the shrubs with a glory not their own. The day being splendidly bright and clear, we had a wonderful view of the distant Aconcagua, its glorious mass of glistening snow being displayed against a cloudless blue sky.
The remainder of July passed without any events specially worthy of notice, and on the 30th, shortly before noon, we left Valparaiso Bay for Coquimbo, whither three British men-of-war, the “Topaze,” “Malacca,” and “Mutine,” had some days earlier preceded us. We encountered a considerable swell outside the bay, but had a very quiet passage, on the whole, keeping not far from the land, the coast-line of which is very bold and fine, the dark-coloured hills of the foreground contrasting finely with the snowy range of the Cordillera rising above them in the distance. The 31st was a beautiful clear day, and between three and four we rounded the rocky promontory which separates the small port of Herradura from the bay of Coquimbo, and entered the latter, passing not far from the Pajeros Niños rocks, on which a group of brown pelicans (Pelecanus thagus) were sitting with their heads resting on their breasts, while other individuals were employed in fishing about the neighbourhood. We anchored near the other British ships, off the town of Coquimbo, the vicinity of which presented a singularly sandy desert-like appearance, and here we remained throughout the month of August, enjoying delightful weather, and, thanks to the kindness of the English residents, passing the time very pleasantly.
The 1st of August was a fine, though rather hazy day, and in the morning Dr. Campbell, Mr. Gray, and I, landed, and took a long walk, finding the country remarkably dry and parched up, which was not surprising, as we were informed that no rain had fallen for eight months back. There were, however, some green patches of cultivated ground artificially irrigated, and consisting principally of “Alfalfa” (Medicago sativa), while in the distance various narrow tracts of verdure were to be seen, marking the course of streams in the little valleys between the hills. The hills, in most places, were covered with plants of a tall Cereus, much like that seen at Valparaiso and Santa Rosa, but brandling more, and with weaker and more fiexible spines, together with a species of humbler growth with bright purplish-red flowers. On the low undulating sandy ground, which stretches inwards from the sea for some miles, I found a considerable number of plants that were new to me, a few of which I may here briefly notice. A Mesembryanthemum (M. Chilense), with long trailing stems, fleshy trigonal leaves, and pink flowers, covered the ground in several spots in the neighbourhood of a line of railway, along which we pursued our way, and a Nolanaceous plant, a species of Sorema, with large blue convolvulus-like flowers, was also abundant on the sandy soil. Among the patches of “alfalfa,” a very pretty little crucifer, the Schizopetalon Walkeri, with deeply pinnatifid white petals, and the beautiful Schizanthus pinnatus, occurred. A Witheringia here and there formed bright purplish-blue patches, and various species of Compositæ and Malvaceæ, and representatives of the genera Eritrichium, Verbena, Heliotropium, Sphœrostigina, and Fagonia, were met with, as also a white-flowered liliaceous plant (Leucocoryne alliacea), smelling strong of garlic. Several species of birds were observed, one about the size of a wheat-ear, and resembling that bird in its movements, being specially abundant, and we found a dead specimen of Tinochorus rumicivorus, which had apparently been killed by a hawk. A single individual of the Painted Lady butterfly (Cynthia Cardui), which we had already seen at Rio Janeiro, Monte Video, Lota, and Valparaiso, was captured, but very few insects occurred to us. I spent some time examining, with much interest, the beds of fossil shells, forming regular terraces, which extend for several miles inland, attaining an elevation of 250 feet, of which Mr. Darwin has given an account, and obtained numerous representatives of the genera Oliva, Chorus, Monoceros, Concholepas, Turritella, Fissurella, Calyptrœa, Ostrea, Pecten, Arca, etc., most of them, apparently, belonging to existing species, as well as a portion of the pincer-claw of a large crab, several sharks' teeth, and many fragments of the bones of Cetacea. Some of these were found scattered on the surface of the rising grounds, and others were imbedded in a soft sandy rock, some good sections of which were displayed on the line of railway. A much older bed, which I subsequently observed, occurs a little above high-water mark, at the foot of a steep bank about fifty feet in height, at one end of the town of Coquimbo, and appears to be exclusively composed of large and massive oysters in a matrix of hard sandstone. The cardinal area of one of these shells, which I dug out on a later occasion, measured between five and six inches in depth. On leaving the shell-terraces, we descended to the sandy beach of the bay, where I picked up a few specimens of marine animals, including a live example of the Oliva Peruviana, which, on being handled, emitted a yellow fluid, which, on exposure to the air for a short time, changed to a rich purple hue; and a single individual of the Hippa talpoides, taken previously at Chiloe and in the Bay of San Vicente. Many pelicans and gannets were flying about over the water, the latter disappearing below the surface in pursuit of their prey with the characteristic splash.
On the afternoon of the 6th,§ I walked, with two companions, over the rocky hills of the promontory which separates the bays of Coquimbo and Herradura, to the smelting works at Guayacan, on the coast of the latter. Our route lay through a rocky desert, abounding in tall branching Cacti, a species of Cassia with large bunches of orange-yellow flowers, and a shrubby Oxalis, the 0. gigantea. The last plant, the Churco of the Chilians, attains a height of from three to six feet, and in those districts where it occurs its branches are often used as a substitute for laths in building houses. The bark is thick, and possesses a very astringent taste; the small trefoil leaves are acid, like those of nearly all the other species of the genus; and the flowers are of a lemon-yellow colour. Another plant, which specially attracted our attention, was an Aristolochia (A. Chilensis), with variegated leaves and curious tubular flowers of a lurid purple tint, covered in the interior of the tube with thick white hairs, with their points directed downwards. Their general form recalled that of the pitchers of Nepenthes, and they emitted a most offensive odour, suggestive of carrion. I was afterwards informed by a friend that the plant is esteemed among the lower orders in Chili as a remedy for small-pox. I also obtained specimens of the Habranthus hesperius, the Tropœolum tricolor, which was twining around the Cacti, a fine purplish-blue Witheringia, and a low shrub with curious green flowers, and a lobed bladdery capsule, the Llagunoa glandulosa, belonging to the order Sapindaceœ. At the smelting works we saw the process of running off the liquid metal in its second-last stage into moulds of sand, as had been previously witnessed by us at Lota.
§ Probably a day or so earlier, as the following two paragraphs begin “On the 5th” and “The afternoon of the 6th ….
On the 5th I had a walk of about sixteen miles with Dr. Campbell and an officer of the “Topaze,” past Herradura Bay in the direction of Tongoi. The scenery had that desert-like rocky aspect so characteristic of the country, tall Cacti and the Oxalis gigantea forming the most prevalent features of the vegetation; while the occasional flocks of goats, wandering about and browsing on the latter plant, added materially to the peculiar effect of the landscape. Here and there the tall flower-stems of the Puya coardata formed conspicuous objects in the distance. One of these, which we cut down, was about nine feet in height, the beautiful pale yellow, somewhat lily-like flowers forming a dense spike between three and four feet long. A rather curious, thorny, stiff-growing shrub, with abruptly pinnate leaves and bluish-purple flowers, seen for the first time, was the Porlieria hygrometrica, the specific name of which is derived from the property which the leaflets possess of closing and folding themselves upon the branches at sunset. “We observed two fine condors soaring at a considerable elevation, and numbers of a grotesque-looking little bird, the “Tapacolo,” Pteroptochos albicollis, were hopping out among the rocks with their tails cocked over their backs, and giving vent to a curious variety of notes. On the sandy beach of Herradura Bay I found several specimens of Hijpjpa talpoides creeping rapidly along, as well as two dead individuals of the Pseudocorystes sicarius previously met with at Lota.
The afternoon of the 6th I devoted to the shell-beds, and obtained a good collection of the prevalent forms; and on the morning of next day a small party of us set out in the dingy, with the intention of shooting pelicans on the Pajeros Mfios rocks at the entrance of the bay. We found, however, that unfortunately the surf was too great to permit of our landing on the rocks, and the pelicans flew off before any could be procured. On another rock (Pelican Rock of the chart) a group of beautiful terns (Anous inca), with dark plumage, and a long white feather on each ear-covert, were sitting, and a couple of specimens of these were shot. We also obtained a specimen of a huge starfish (Heliaster helianthus), with thirty-eight rays, bearing a general resemblance to the British Solaster papposa. Later in the day we pulled far into the bay, which was alive with shoals of large and small fish, on which terns (Sterna cassini) and black petrels (Nectris amaurosa) were feeding, darting about in pursuit, and filling the air with their discordant cries. Now and then a pelican would sail past, its great bill giving it a most peculiar aspect, or a flock of gannets would suddenly appear not far from us, and dive into the water simultaneously after their prey. Several scissor-bills were also seen skimming along the placid surface of the bay, and one fine specimen was shot. We occupied some time in dredging, and brought up from the fine sandy bottom numbers of beautiful specimens of Oliva Peruviana and Chorus xanthostoma.
The neck of land already mentioned as separating the two bays of Coquimbo and Herradura was a favourite locality for an afternoon's ramble at this time. The yellow granitic rocks of which it is composed are most singularly disrupted, immense blocks of many tons' weight having been to all appearance violently torn from their original restingplace, and piled upon each other in the most picturesque confusion. Among them I met with several plants that did not occur elsewhere, among which was a species of a myrtle, and a plant whose name I forget, with the most deliciously fragrant flowers, recalling the odour of jasmine. On turning over the stones we were certain to meet with small scorpions which ran about, turning up their tails with intent to sting; and a handsome lizard (Proctotretus Gravenhorstii) of a bluish-green hue was very common; basking on the rocks, on which the sun was beating, sometimes associated with a smaller species, spotted with black (Leiolcemus nigromaculatus). On the rocks at the end of the peninsula, where the surf was almost always breaking with violence, great Chitons of two species, the C. magnificus and aculeatus, were to be seen in numbers, adhering firmly to the clefts and ledges, the latter frequently with an extensive growth of sea-weed on them; their collection being attended with a considerable amount of difficulty and danger. In less exposed situations, a species of sea-urchin, the Echinocidaris nigra, with a depressed shell three to four inches in diameter, and long purplish-black spines, was very abundant, adhering to the rock with much tenacity by means of its suckers.
On the 11th, in the course of a long walk of about eighteen miles inland through a gorge in a range of hills, I found a beautiful Nolanaceous plant of the genus Alona in profusion, forming a low shrub, with viscid leaves and branches, and exquisite blue convolvulus-like flowers, as well as a species of Carica (C. pyriformis), with very glossy green leaves. This plant abounds in a greasy milky juice, and its stem is so brittle as to admit of being broken across as easily as that of a cactus. Numerous flocks of a small dove were observed on this occasion, as well as one or two condors, and a specimen of the snake previously taken at Talcahuano was secured.
On the evening of the 13 th, at about half-past six, while we were all seated at dinner in the wardroom, the vessel shook suddenly, as though she had received a blow. The same thing was repeated in the course of a few minutes, and we thought it probably due to the shock of an earthquake putting a strain upon the cable. Soon after, the quartermaster on watch reported that the vessel was swinging round with a current of a force of from four to five knots. On hastening on deck to observe the phenomenon, no doubt remained that an earthquake had taken place, and that the current was due to the wave produced. At short intervals, the ship continued to swing rapidly round, and soon we heard shouts from some merchant-vessels at no great distance, which were anchored close to one another. On a boat being despatched to ascertain the cause of the disturbance, we learned that the vessels were fouling each other, so as to smash their topmasts and jib-booms. The surface of the water continued perfectly calm, but we heard the sound of a great wave breaking on the beach, and as there was no possibility of judging what might happen next, all the British men-of-war got up steam, to be ready to go to sea should matters assume a more serious aspect. Fortunately, however, the necessity for this did not arise, and, before next morning, the waters of the bay had assumed their normally placid condition. We learned that though the water had arisen about seventeen feet above the ordinary level, comparatively little damage had been sustained on shore, and that no shock had been experienced there. As may be readily imagined, we waited with anxiety for intelligence as to whether other portions of the coast had been equally affected; but it was not until some days after that we knew of the frightful catastrophe that had taken place to the northward, by which nearly 30,000 individuals in Peru and Ecuador had lost their lives, and an enormous amount of property had been destroyed. The earthquakes continued in force in these regions from the 13th to the 16th of August, many important cities being laid in ruins; while in South Chili, Talcahuano, the seaport of Concepcion, was almost swallowed up by the wave. As, however, full details of the disaster appeared in nearly all the leading newspapers of Great Britain about six weeks later, I shall not attempt any further account of it.
On the 17th some specimens of a beautiful Tubularian polyp, procured on the copper of H.M.S. “Topaze,” were sent to me, and a few days later the copper of the “Nassau” yielded additional examples of the same species, which being regarded by one of our highest authorities on the subject (Professor Allman) as hitherto undescribed, has been named by him Tubularia polycarpa. The afternoon of the following day, as the tide was very low, I devoted to a search for marine animals among the rocks at the entrance of the bay, and met with a considerable amount of success. Among the spoils obtained on this occasion, I may mention a small Octopus (0. Fontanianus), a specimen of which, discovered under a stone, was at first of a dirty grayish-white tint, but changed almost instantaneously to a rich dark purplish-red as the little creature swam off, tail first, with great rapidity and the directness of an arrow, propelled by the rapid movements of its arms. I also procured some very fine specimens of the Chiton aculeatus and C. magnificus, by dint of watching my opportunity as the wave retired, and rapidly removing them from the rock with the large blade of a clasp-knife. Two other species of the same genus, of smaller size, but very elegantly marked, which I found on this occasion, were the Chiton Cumingii and the C. elegans. Fine specimens of Concholepas, Crucibulum ferrugineum, etc., also abounded, and I further procured several Crustacea that were new to me, including a fierce crab of the genus Grapsus (G. planifrons), generally ensconced in deep narrow clefts, from which it was difficult to dislodge; several beautiful Porcellance with broad flat claws, which they snapped off with the greatest agility on being handled, and many individuals of a beautiful prawn-like Decapod with a movable rostrum, the Rhynchocinetes typus, which were swimming about in the pools, their legs and bodies exquisitely banded with delicate shades of brown and red. A variety of starfishes and Echini were also met with, as well as some very finely coloured Actiniœ, in which ultramarine blue, brilliant orange, emerald green, and white, were the prevailing tints. Many sponges also occurred, their colours varying from orange and yellow to light blue. r
On the 19th I set out on an excursion inland with Captain Mayne and Mr. Gollan, H.B.M. Consul at Coquimbo, leaving the town by train at nine A.M. The country through which we passed presented the usual aspect of bare, burnt-up plains, with occasional green patches of “alf-alfa,” succeeded after a time by cactus-clad hills. We at length arrived at the foot of a “cuesta,” up which the train goes, and halted there for a time to take in luggage. As there seemed some likelihood of delay, I got out, and receiving the comforting assurance from the guard that he would not go on without me—a piece of attention not commonly to be met with in railway officials—I spent some time strolling about the neighbourhood, without however observing anything specially noteworthy. After nearly an hour had passed we resumed our journey, and the line, in ascending the “cuesta,” being very remarkable from its excessive tortuosity and the steepness of the ascent (I believe in some parts as much as one in twenty-five feet), we took up our position on a platform in front of the engine to gain the full benefit of it. As we slowly wound about the hill, I noticed a variety of beautiful plants which I had not previously seen, and felt much tantalised at being unable to procure them. The “cuesta” passed, we proceeded onwards to the railway station at “Higuerita” where we were met by a gentleman (Mr. Hamilton) who had kindly undertaken to act as our cicerone on the trip; and after we had partaken of a substantial breakfast or luncheon provided by a hospitable Chilian, we mounted our horses, which we had brought with us from Coquimbo, and rode off to Samo, a farm about twelve miles distant, in the valley of the Rio Hortado, in the hands of a Chilian gentleman, Senor Sasso. After riding for the greater part of the way along a winding road, and crossing two streams (a sufficiently rare phenomenon in this parched-up district to be worthy of notice), we ascended to a sort of tableland, which we crossed, descending thereafter by a winding road into the valley of the Rio Hortado, which, though sufficiently arid-looking regarded as a whole, possesses a green tract extending on either side of the stream from which it derives its name, and which on this occasion presented an attractive appearance, from the various shades of the foliage of the willows, olives, and myrtles fringing its banks, and the lovely pink glow of the peach-blossom in the orchards. We reached the farm about five P.M., and passed some time roaming about in the neighbourhood of the stream, two of the party carrying guns in quest of snipe. A few of these birds were seen flying about at a considerable elevation in the air, as well as some “zorzals” (Turdus fuscatus) and “tortillitos” (little doves), but they were all very shy, so that few were obtained. Before long Senor Sasso made his appearance, and we were then conducted by him to his house, which, with the farm-offices, occupies three sides of a large square, and installed in the guest-chamber, provided with four iron beds ranged around the walls. Refreshments in the form of beer and cognac were brought to us, and soon after we were summoned to a very excellent dinner, with only too many courses, and treated to some very good light wine, manufactured at Santiago, and known under the name of Ochagavia. After dinner we adjourned to the “salon,” where we spent the rest of the evening, the young ladies of the house contributing to our entertainment by playing on their guitars, and some of the members of our party being induced to take part in the “Zamecuaca,” the national dance of Chili. The evening was terminated with a song improvised as a welcome to the visitors, whose Christian names were introduced and celebrated with a variety of compliments.
Next morning we left the farm on our way to Sauce mine, the property of Mr. Hamilton. Following the course of the valley, between one and two P.M. we reached a very pretty farm the name of which has escaped my memory, where we breakfasted and remained for about a couple of hours, investigating the garden and vineyard appertaining to it. The vine-stocks were very old and gnarled, and the young wood does not appear to be trained, as is generally the case in Europe, so that at a distance a vineyard of this sort looks much like an orchard of stunted old apple-trees. We then rode on to Pangue, a farm close to the bank of the stream running through the valley. Here we dismounted and remained for a short time, being shown the apparatus used in the manufacture of “chicha” the national beverage. Some enormous earthenware jars, employed for holding the fluid, had been in use, we were informed, for 150 years. They were about five feet in height, by between three or four in diameter, the mouth, which was furnished with a lip, being about a foot and a half wide. At this place there was a beautiful orchard, carpeted with sweet violets, and filled with peach-trees in full blossom. On leaving Pangue we followed a curious winding road leading up some hills for nearly 2000 feet to the mine, where we were to spend the night. In the course of our ascent I observed several specimens of a curious Echinocactus which was new to me. It was of a nearly spherical form, like a large deeply-ribbed gourd, bristling with spines, and from nine inches to a foot in height. The mules, I was told, when suffering from thirst, often strike off the spiny rind with their hoofs, and eat the watery succulent pulp. It was a beautiful evening when we reached our destination soon after sunset, and shortly after we had dined we retired to rest.
The morning of the 21st was gloriously bright and clear, and after inspecting the copper of the mine we mounted our horses and rode down the hill. On our way we passed within a short distance of three parrots, banded with brown and yellow, which were perched on a Cereus, and screeching discordantly. Unfortunately there was no gun ready, and they accordingly escaped without injury. As before we reached Samo, a distance of about eighteen miles, our horses showed signs of fatigue, and the day was rapidly wearing on, we determined on spending another night there before proceeding onwards to our next stage.
On the 2 2d we left Samo at seven A.M., accompanied by our kind host, who wished to introduce us at a farm named Torre, where we designed to make a halt at noon. Ascending the winding road which led us down into the valley on the 19th, we crossed an elevated plain nearly as flat as a board, and from thence descended into the valley of Ovalle. We rode through the town of that name, which appears rather a flourishing one, possessing about six thousand inhabitants, and alighted for a short time in the principal Plaza, where a guanaco was tethered. The signs over some of the doors of the shops were very eccentric, a large blue mermaid figuring over one, and a carnivorous animal of appalling aspect, perhaps intended as a representation of a jaguar, over another. After following for some distance the course of this valley, which appeared much more fertile than that of the Rio Hortado, we crossed over a low singularly narrow ridge into the large and beautiful valley of the Limaree, which I was informed was almost entirely in the hands of one proprietor, who, by judicious speculations, had attained to great wealth. Here I observed many specimens of two birds which I had not noticed in the immediate neighbourhood of Coquimbo—namely, the Turco (Pteroptochos megapodius), a very odd-looking creature, somewhat like a gigantic wi'en, which hops about, cocking up its tail, and giving utterance to a variety of strange noises, and a kind of starling (Agelaius thilius) with bluishblack plumage and a yellowish-white patch on the shoulder. We reached the farm of Torrè (so named from two curious monuments, believed to be of Indian origin, situated upon it) soon after noon, and experienced a most hospitable reception from the owner, Señor Lucas Valdivia, a brother-in-law of Señor Sasso's, and a fine-looking man, with very dark eyes and long black hair and beard. While breakfast was being prepared, we went over the garden and large vineyard; and thereafter we strolled about for some time inspecting the live stock. We then remounted our horses, and bidding farewell to Señor Sasso, who returned to his own home, rode on to visit the celebrated Piquè mine at Tamaya. The greater part of our route lay along an extraordinary zigzag path winding up the side of a very steep hill, from the summit of which we gained a commanding view of the Limaree valley. We then descended the other side of this hill for some way, keeping not far from the marvellous serpentine line of the railway, which conducts the copper from the mines at Tamaya to the bay of Tongoi, some distance to the south of Coquimbo. As we rode along we gazed with astonishment at the extraordinary aspect presented by the precipitous Piquè mountain, with its mines, winding zigzag paths, and long rows of whitewashed miners* houses, which, placed at various elevations, presented exactly the appearance of fortifications. A gradual ascent brought us at length to the Piquè House, belonging to the proprietor of the mine of that name, and remarkably situated at the top of a steep precipice, at an elevation of 3800 feet above the level of the sea. Here we remained for the night, being very kindly received by a German gentleman, the cashier of the mine. The following morning was at first misty, but before longcleared up to a bright sunny day, and the view from this elevated situation was of a most remarkable character. The small garden perched on the top of the cliff in front of the house overlooks a large deep valley covered with a reddish soil bare of vegetation, and surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills in the form of a horse-shoe, of which the Piquè mountain forms the central and highest part. Beyond this desert valley extends the green fertile tract of the Limaree, and this is in turn succeeded by range after range of hills, the view being at last bounded by the snowy wall of the Cordillera. The morning was occupied in the inspection of the works at the Piquè mine, which, I believe, produces the richest quality of copper ore in the world; and early in the afternoon we took our departure, riding over to Panulcillo, about sixteen or seventeen miles distant. Here, where we were cordially welcomed by the managing partner of the mining company, we spent a very pleasant evening, and in the course of the following forenoon visited the celebrated copper-mine of Panulcillo, exploring part of it under the guidance of the captain of the mine. The vein, tliough not a rich one (the ore in most places yielding I believe not more than nine or ten per cent of pure metal, while that of the Piquè mine yields from thirty to upwards of fifty), is very large, being as much as sixty feet wide in some places where it has been worked. On raising the lamps with which we were provided, we could clearly perceive that the walls of the mine were glistening with the yellow metal. Early in the afternoon we left Panulcillo by train for Coquimbo, and reached the port about five P.M. On getting on board, I found that, as usual, during my absence, a variety of specimens had been collected for me, including some beautiful Crustacea, among which was a very fine specimen of the Hepatus Chiliensis and other marine animals, as well as a sooty albatross (Diomedea fuliginosa), which was tied by the leg to the rails of the bridge.
The following afternoon a seining-party was despatched from the vessel, and by this means I reaped some benefit, obtaining specimens of a pipe-fish, Syngnathus acicularis, and of a curious parasitic crustacean, the Cymothoa Gaudichaudii.† On the 27th, Captain Mayne, Dr. Campbell, and I, proceeded by train to Compania, and from thence had a very agreeable ride to visit some old Indian graves, under the escort of Mr. E. F. Ffrench, a gentleman possessed of great scientific talents, and whose kindness in furthering my researches and observations, not only during our stay at Coquimbo, but since my return to this country, I desire very gratefully to acknowledge. The greater part of our way lay over a succession of low hills, on which I noticed a variety of plants that were new to me; among others, a curious greenish-flowered Orchid, the Bipinnula mystacina, with some of the segments of the perianth remarkably fimbriated. After visiting the Placeres copper-mine, we spent some time excavating graves for skulls, but without very great success, and then rode on to Brilliador, the oldest mine, I believe, in Chili, where we were very kindly received by Mr. Bennett, who works the vein. Some days later, in the course of another excursion among the hills in the neighbourhood of Compania in Mr. Ffrench's company, I obtained some fine specimens of the giant humming-bird (Patagona gigas). Mr. Darwin has well remarked of this species, that “whilst hovering over a flower, it flaps its wings with a very slow and powerful movement, totally different from that vibratory one common to most of the species which produces the humming noise.” While flying about, its motions reminded me of those of a swallow.
† A few days later I obtained from some fishermen fine specimens of two remarkable Crustacea, the Platymera Gavdichaudii and Gonodactylus styliferns.
On the 29th of August I had a ramble in the neighbourhood of Serena, walking down to the sea-beach, where I found hundreds of specimens of a bivalve, the Mesodesma donacium, lying. In some freshwater marshes I noticed two men wading about waist-deep, apparently in search of something, and on approaching them, to inquire what they were doing, I was informed they were catching “Camarōons,” a large species of prawn (Palœmon cementarius) of an olive-green colour, and provided with large claws. The capture of these animals was carried on by one of the men holding a wicker-work basket, into which the other shook armfuls of weeds which he pulled up from the bottom of the water. The prawns were then picked out from among these, and transferred to a small bag, which the man holding the basket had tied round his waist. In Gay's Historia Fisica de Chili it is stated that this species of camerōn is to be met with “en los embocadores [sic, embocaduras] de las riveras, donde construyer grandes cavidades que cubre con tierra.”§
§ “in the mouths of the riverbanks, where grand cavities are constructed, covered with earth.“
The period of our stay at Coquimbo having drawn to a close on the 8th of September, Dr. Campbell and I landed for a last ramble over the sandy ground not far from the sea, where we found several beautiful plants which had lately come into flower, including the handsome Leucocoryne ixioides, the elegant little Trichopetalum stellatum, the inner divisions of the white perianth of which are delicately fringed, so as to resemble three small white feathers, and a beautiful species of Calandrinia, with a mauve-purple flower, drooping when in bud, but erect in full bloom. The plains were in some places so thickly covered with the blue convolvulus-like flowers of a Nolanaceous plant, as to appear like sheets of water. We also found specimens of a curious milky-juiced creeper of the Asclepias order, the Oxypetalum Hookeri. On the afternoon of the same day we weighed, and proceeded southwards on our way to Valparaiso, halting for a few minutes in Herradura Bay, where I got a couple of hauls in the dredge, and procured thereby three Gasteropods which I had not met with previously, the Triton scaber, Chrysodomus alternatus, and Chlorostoma bicarinatum.
We reached Valparaiso on the 7th, on a damp, misty forenoon, and during the four following days heavy rain fell with but little intermission—a sufficiently rare phenomenon in these parts, and attributed by the inhabitants to the agency of the recent earthquakes.
The 18th, or “diez-y-ocho,” was a national holiday, being the anniversary of the independence of the republic of Chili. Invitations having been issued to the officers of the various ships lying in the bay to be present at the celebration of Grand Mass in the church of San Augustin, a party of us landed in the morning, and proceeded to the Intendencia, where we were ushered into a large room in which the Intendente, a variety of consuls, and a number of Chilian, American, and English officers, were assembled in full uniform. In a short time a stout old padre in a white vestment made his appearance, which was the signal for a general rising, the company forming in procession, and marching two and two, preceded by him, through the streets, which were gaily decorated with flags, to the church in the Plaza de la Victoria. Passing into the square, which was crowded with gazers, and entering the church (the body of which was filled as full as it could hold with female worshippers attired in black, kneeling on their praying carpets, and the aisles with a miscellaneous assemblage of onlookers), we took possession of a number of chairs reserved for us, and ranged into two long rows on either side of the building. On a raised platform in front of the altar a number of priests in white were seated, three of whom were possessed of upper garments glittering with gold and silver thread. The altar was blazing with tinsel and numerous candelabra, and though it was broad day the edifice as a whole was illuminated with gas, and decked out with festoons of artificial flowers, and the flags of the nation. The musicians were established in a small gallery over the principal entrance of the building, and as the services of the principal opera-singers had been secured, the music that followed was exceedingly fine. The service soon commenced, and lasted a long time; but as I was quite unable to comprehend the greater part of the pantomimic performances of the ecclesiastics, I will not attempt to describe them, but may merely observe that a vast amount of rising up and sitting down was required on the part of the onlookers, and that, at one juncture, a priest preceded by an individual bearing a little silver wand marched from the altar to the other end of the church, where the Intendente was seated, and presented to him a large volume (which I presume to have been the Bible) and the wafer to kiss. After a time, we had a long sermon from a very intelligent-looking priest attired in a simple black gown. He spoke very distinctly, so that, even with our limited acquaintance with Spanish, we were able to make out the general topics of his discourse, which was adapted to the occasion, and delivered with a very considerable amount of eloquence, the leading subject appearing to be the progress of the nation under the guiding hand of Providence. The sermon concluded, a very fine musical performance ensued, after which we left the church, and, accompanied by a brass band and a rabble, marched back to the Intendencia. On our arrival, we were conducted up a stair, and ushered into a couple of drawing-rooms communicating with one another, where a short time was occupied in conversation, after which we adjourned to a large room where a good luncheon was set out. After a considerable amount of execution had been done in the way of eating and drinking, the Intendente rose and proposed the first toast, which was of course the President of the Republic, and was drunk with great enthusiasm, the Chilian “Vivas” being, however, rather drowned by the English and Yankee vigorous “Hip, hip, hip, hurrahs.” A succession of other toasts then followed, and were still going on when our party took their departure between four and five P.M.
In the following afternoon several of us walked to the Playa-ancha, a wide flat space of ground on the high land to the west of the town, to witness a review of a part of the Chilian army. A vast concourse of spectators were assembled, and numbers of booths, where eating, drinking, dancing, and playing games of chance, were being carried on with great vigour, were erected in various places. A good many people were also running races in a most reckless manner on horseback, their main object being to endeavour to ride one another down. A strong breeze was blowing, causing a vast amount of dust, which partially concealed the movements of the soldiers, who presented rather a mean appearance, arising from the smallness of their stature.
The heavy rains which had recently fallen had clothed the arid hills of Valparaiso with verdure, the Calccoloarias forming splendid golden masses on many of the slopes, and a multitude of beautiful flowers coming into bloom. Thus, in the course of a single day spent in rambling about among the quebradas behind the town, I obtained three species of Calceolaria; three of Loasa, or Chilian nettle, with white, yellow, and orange blossoms; two handsome Orchids of the genus Chlorcea; the Trichopetalum stellatum; a beautiful Liliaceous plant, the Pasithea cœrulea, with grasslike leaves, and a flower-stem often exceeding two feet in height, bearing a loose panicle of exquisite blue flowers; Leucocoryne ixioides, with flowers varying from purple to bright blue; a large orange-flowered Geum; an Œnothera, with large white flowers, growing in marshy places; the Alonsoa incisœfolia, denominated, on account of its bright scarlet corollas, “Flor de Soldado;” several Vetches; a purple Oxalis; several species of Valerian; Mimulus parviflorus; Gunnera scabra; an Acœna; a Polygala, with blue flowers; a blue Myosotis; two species of Tupa; several species of Sisyrinchium; a Verbena, Tropceolum tricolor, etc. etc. A few weeks later many other species came into bloom, among which I may mention a climbing Composite, with its leaves terminated by tendrils, the Mutisia latifolia; the Salpiglossis sinuata; several yellow-flowered species of Oxalis, and the lovely Calydorea speciosa, whose deep blue flowers, with yellow hearts, abounded on the sun-baked slopes of many of the hills.
On the 30th Dr. Campbell and I started by the ten A.M. train for Santiago, the Chilian capital, about a hundred miles inland, and somewhat to the south of Valparaiso. The first part of the line, i.e. as far as the station of Llaillai, though not new to us, was yet greatly improved in appearance since the time of our journey to Santa Rosa, the pastures being beautifully green, and a great variety of flowers being in bloom on the plains and hill-sides, and the railway banks covered with Calceolarias, the Tropœolum tricolor, and many other species. At the Quillota station, in addition to baskets of lucumas, cherimoyers, and oranges, “peje reys” (Atherinichthys microlepidotus), “camarōns” (Palœmon cœemtarius), and small cheeses, were offered for sale; while beggars in troops planted themselves before the windows of the carriages, and droned out petitions for aid. Soon after passing Llaillai, the line lies for a time through bold hilly country, pursuing its course through several remarkable cuttings, and over some ingeniously constructed bridges—one of which, of considerable length, exhibits a striking lateral curve. We reached Santiago between four and five o'clock, and drove in a “coche” to the Hotel Oddo in the Calle Alumeda, passing through part of an avenue of Lombardy poplars, which extends throughout nearly the entire breadth of the town, and is termed the “Alumeda.” Arrived at the hotel, we were established in one of a series of rooms ranged around a courtyard, and in about half-an-hour the table-d'hôte was ready; after which we walked out to view the streets, which did not appear to much advantage, owing to their being very imperfectly lighted, as there was supposed to be moonlight, although, owing to the cloudy state of the atmosphere, we obtained little or no benefit from the luminary. We entered a large church where vespers were going on, but as there was an exceedingly “dim religious light,” we could see very little, and so did not remain long, but passed the rest of the evening pacing up and down a fine arcade, which, being brilliantly lighted, and abounding in handsome shops, is a favourite resort for the beauty and fashion of Santiago.
Next day, October 1st, after breakfast, we walked to the little rocky hill of Santa Lucia, ascending it in an orthodox manner to obtain the view of the city, for which it is justly celebrated. It was a clear, sunny morning, so that the. prospect more than came up to our expectations : the combined effect produced by the city, with its countless church towers and spires, extending for several miles over a flat green plain, and the surrounding mountains, some of which exhibited beautiful shades of purple, while others were white with snow, being remarkably fine. The regularity of the style in which thestreets are laid out, so as to cross each other at right angles, and the manner in which the houses, roofed \yith reddish-brown tiles, are built so as to form hollow squares enclosing courts and gardens, with oranges and a variety of other trees and shrubs planted in the centre, conduced to form a very striking scene. After spending some time on the summit of the hill, and inspecting an old fort on one side, built by the Spaniards to repress the incursions of the Indians, we took a long walk through the streets, visiting many of the churches, some of the pictures and images in which were among the most revolting I have ever seen, as well as the site of the church burnt down in 1863, and a private house, built at an enormous expense, in imitation of the Alhambra; and then returned to our hotel to luncheon, afterwards proceeding to the Museum to call onDr.Philippi,the distinguished director of it. We were much at a loss where to find him when we reached the shabby building which we were informed was the Museum, but after a time were directed to his colleague Mr. Landbeck, who informed us that Dr. Philippi was not then at the Museum, and courteously offered to send a person with us to show us the way to his house. We thankfully accepted this proposal, setting forth preceded by our guide, and after walking for a considerable distance, were fortunate enough to encounter the object of our search, to whom we accordingly introduced ourselves.
Dr. Philippi was kind enough to accompany us to the Museum, where we spent a couple of hours in his company in the examination of specimens of Chilian plants and animals, receiving a great deal of information from him regarding the fauna and flora of Chili, of both which the Museum possesses, thanks to his zeal, an admirable representation, causing us to regret all the more the poor accommodation allotted to it by the Chilian government. The ornithological and malacological collections, as well as the herbarium, struck me as particularly fine, and remarkably well arranged for purposes of study.
After leaving the Museum we called on a Chilian gentleman to whom I had been given an introduction by one of the English merchants in Valparaiso, and in the evening dined with him at a large club, of which he was the secretary. As he possessed an excellent knowledge of the English language, we gained much information from him regarding Santiago and its inhabitants. Although a Roman Catholic, he appeared to entertain the very lowest opinion of the morale of the priesthood, describing their general character in very forcible terms, and giving us plainly to understand that they possessed but little religious influence, save with the female portion of the community. On the forenoon of next day, which was very fine, though the distant prospect was not so clear as on the 1st, we took a long circuit through the streets, crossing the river Maypu, which flows through part of the town, and walking out into the suburbs. We entered a large cemetery, and were strolling carelessly about in it when we accidentally lighted upon the plot of ground where the remains of the women, burnt in the conflagration of the church in 1863, are interred. The ground is railed in, and in the centre of the space a large metal cross is erected, while fixed to the railing in front are two marble tablets, bearing an inscription recording the tragical event, and terminating with the words, “Restos de sus Victimas, 2000 mas o menos.” Although the dastardly conduct of the priests on that occasion excited the utmost indignation at the time, the lower classes appear to be still thoroughly priest-ridden, and Santiago gives one the impression of a city where Roman Catholicism, in its worst form, is rampant.
In the afternoon we visited, under the guidance of the Chilian gentleman above mentioned, a most interesting relic of the Spanish conquest, namely, the original house of the celebrated Pedro Valdivia, a very miserable-looking little dwelling, to which we gained access through the politeness of an ecclesiastic. After that we walked to the so-called Botanical Gardens, which appeared to partake of the nature of a wilderness, returning to our hotel in time for the table-d'hote. Next morning our brief sojourn was brought to a close, and we left Santiago at ten A.M., reaching Valparaiso between four and five in the afternoon.
The month of October passed without the occurrence of any events meriting a special notice in this place, and early on the evening of the 3d of ISTovember we bid farewell to the Bay of Valparaiso, and began our southerly voyage. The 4th was a fine sunny day, but the wind was unfavourable, obliging us to keep under steam. On the evening of the 5th we reached Lota, and there anchored, and the following morning I landed with Captain Mayne, and had a very pleasant long ride with him into the country beyond the small town or village of Coronel, some miles to the northward of Lota. The day was all that could be desired, and the country was looking most beautiful; rich in trees and shrubs, and with a profusion of flowers in bloom, some of which, such as the large white-flowered (Œnothera mutica, the exquisite blue Pasithea cœrulea, and the Tropœcolum tricolor, I had already observed in the north, while others were now seen for the first time. Among the latter were the Chilian strawberry (Fragaria Chilensis), and a handsome twining Amaryllid, the Bomarea Salsilla, with umbels of purple flowers. Lapageria rosea was completely out of flower on this occasion, though I recognised many specimens of its young shoots. When we started on our ride we had some idea of going as far as Concepcion; but as, after riding sixteen miles, we were informed that the city was yet twenty miles distant, it appeared that it would be impracticable for us to reach it without being much later in getting back to the ship than seemed advisable, and we therefore relinquished the attempt, and halted for a time at a pretty little hacienda, the steward of which had passed some years in San Francisco, and spoke English tolerably well. He very hospitably invited us to his house, where he entertained us with some excellent home-made bread and butter, and “chicha manzana,” namely—chicha made from green apples, an extremely acid composition. He possessed a variety of dogs, among which was a black cross between a bull-dog and mastiff, which, despite its ferocious appearance, was a most amiable creature; and a fine set of beehives, some of the inhabitants of which were swarming. He informed us that pumas were common in the neighbourhood, and some ludicrously ill-stuffed specimens of these quadrupeds, somewhat resembling four-legged bolsters, were suspended from the rafters of a shed.
Next morning a party of us landed, and after a ramble along the beach to the south of Lota in search of marine animals, in the course of which we encountered a considerable variety of Mollusca and Crustacea, climbed up to the high ground, where I found several plants that were new to me, including a beautiful species of Tigridia, with pale bluish-purple flowers, beautifully variegated at the base of the outer segments of the perianth with dark purple dots, which occurred among wheat, and an Anagallis, the A. alternifolia, with pale pinkish-white blossoms. Many specimens of a pretty little green and blue lizard, the Leiolcemus pictus, not previously seen, were observed running about, and one was captured and added to my collection. We returned to the ship between one and two P.M., and immediately afterwards we weighed and left Lota, but finding the wind very strong against us, only moved on as far as Luco Bay, one of the subdivisions of the bay of Arauco, and there anchored. The 8th was a lovely day, but the wind still so strong outside that we remained at anchor. As usual, the dredge was made use of, and in the morning we obtained, by means of it, specimens of an Isopodous crustacean, of the genus Serolis, the S. Gaudichaudii. The aspect of the country, as seen from our anchorage, was remarkably attractive—steep grassy banks, beautifully diversified with trees and shrubs, rising above smooth yellow sandy beaches and steep sandstone cliffs; and the greater number of us in consequence landed in the afternoon for a walk, in the course of which I observed many fine examples of the Roblè (Fagus olliqua), forming beautiful spreading trees, which afforded a pleasant shade, and I also saw for the first time the Buddlea globosa, whose rounded heads of orange-yellow flowers diffused a heavy honey-like perfume. A seining-party, which had been despatched early in the afternoon, returned in the evening with a large supply of small fish, including some fine Pleuronectidœ, resembling plaice in general appearance, a large number of the curious Callorhynchus australis, and several Torpedos (a species of Discopyge, I believe), which inflicted severe electric shocks on those who handled them. A single specimen of a very remarkable fish of the family Trachypteridœ was likewise taken—viz. the Trachypterus altivelis, previously known from a single specimen in the Vienna Museum, which was captured at Valparaiso. The body of this fish is so much compressed from side to side as to resemble a knife-blade in thinness, and is covered with minute silvery scales, and the dorsal and caudal fins, like those of the other species of the genus, are of very peculiar form.
The 9th was also a beautiful day, but it was still blowing hard outside, and accordingly, after a fruitless attempt to make headway, we returned to the bay to remain for the day, and a large party, of which I formed one, landed early, and passed some very pleasant hours on shore. On the sandy beach, where a stream ran into the sea, I found a very rich deposit of magnetic iron ore, and, above high-water mark, a blue-flowered species of Sorema and a Euphorbia were growing luxuriantly. The hills also yielded me a considerable variety of plants. The Tigridia obtained at Lota was exceedingly common in many places, and communicated a most beautiful appearance to the banks. Its petals were, however, unfortunately so exceedingly fugacious, that I did not succeed in preserving any of the flowers. An Embothrium (E. lanceolatum) formed a tall shrub, loaded with brilliant scarlet flowers. It is a handsomer species than the E. coccineum, which I did not meet with to the north of Chiloe. Among the other plants met with were a tall Lauraceous shrub, with viscid leaves; several Compositœ that were new to me; a small purple (Œnothera, Pasithea cœrulea, the Chilian strawberry, an orange-flowered Linum, two species of Chlorœea, a Libertia (L. ixioides?), etc. I stopped at noon at a rancho, where I saw a girl engaged in the preparation of cheese, squeezing the consolidated curd through her hands, which were not over clean, into a wooden mould. In the course of the afternoon I descended to the beach to explore the rocks, some of which were very bold and striking, formed of sandstone of various degrees of hardness, and remarkably furrowed and hollowed out by the action of the waves. On the sides of a deep cleft a number of fish of the genus Gohiesox were clinging to the rocks, between four and five feet above the level of the water, by means of a strong subthoracic sucker; but I failed in obtaining specimens of them, as they all let go their hold and dropped into the water on my approach. Among the marine animals observed were—Fissurellœ, Concholepades, and Patellœ, many large specimens of Amyxa niger, and some bright purple encrusting sponges. Numerous gulls and terns were flying about, and a large flock of pelicans lighted on a reef of rocks at no great distance from me. Some of the officers had taken their guns on shore with them, and some pigeons, as well as a solitary partridge (Nothura), were shot, and several spur-winged plovers (Vanellus Cayanus) and woodpeckers (Colaptes pitius) seen.
The 10th was also fine, but as the wind still continued adverse. Captain Mayne resolved on remaining for another day where we were. Before breakfast, an “Englishman,” who, we had been informed by some Chilians, was living on the coast of the bay, a weather-beaten, rather rough-looking large-made man, of between fifty and sixty, came on board, and informed us that there were some remarkable ancient tumuli on a piece of land belonging to him, offering to show them to us if we thought them worthy of examination. I therefore applied to Captain Mayne for a few of the men to carry on excavations, and shortly after landed with our informant. In the course of conversation with him on our way on shore, I accidentally learned that he was a Scotchman, from Edinburgh, and on my telling him that I hailed from the same quarter, he gave me a sketch of his history, which was not a little curious. He had been educated at the High School of Edinburgh, but having a passion for a roving life, had run away from home, joined an outward-bound ship, and been wreckedon the coast where he now lived, in 1839, never having, since that time, moved many miles from his house and the small piece of land which he possessed. He had married a Chilian wife, and had a family, about whose education he was a great deal taken up. He had evidently a great zeal for reading, and asked me many questions about Carlyle's and Hugh Miller's works, and as to what was thought of Mr. Darwin's Origin of Species. He was also very anxious to hear news about Edinburgh, and inquired whether the National Monument on the Calton Hill was yet completed. On landing we ascended one of the steep hills to the nearest tumulus, a grass-grown mound resembling a barrow, and about four feet in height, and leaving the men to excavate this, we walked on for a couple of miles to look at some other tumuli. As we went we had much talk, alike of the old country and Chili, and I received a good deal of information from him about the latter. He dwelt much on the rapacity and tyranny of the priests, mentioning many instances of the manner in which they fleeced the poorer classes. We at length ascended to a height of, as nearly as I could calculate, a little under two thousand feet, from whence we had a magnificent view of the surrounding country and the bay of Arauco. Here were some more of these tumuli, which my guide stated were not the work of the present Araucanian Indians, who appeared to be entirely ignorant of their origin, and termed them quels. He also mentioned that some examples which he had seen were between thirty and forty feet in height. He had had several interviews with the Araucanians, who, on one occasion, had despoiled him of some of his possessions, and mentioned that, like many other Indian nations, they bury garments and provisions along with their deceased friends, in order that they may be suitably provided in their journey to the “land of the hereafter.” On our return to the first tumulus we found that the diggers had met with no results, and as our time was but limited, I did not deem it expedient to prosecute the search farther. In the course of a stroll along the rocks later in the day, I found a curious social Tunicate, the “piure” of the Chilotes, occurring in great abundance, along with extensive colonies of a Sabelloid Annelid. The “piure,” which is also common in Chiloe, is regarded as a considerable delicacy. It appears to have been first described by Molina, who remarks that it scarcely deserves the name of a living animal, and that it is as remarkable for its figure as for the manner in which it is lodged, observing that the animals are enclosed in a firm envelope of various forms, and that one of these cases often contains eight or ten distinct individuals, separated from each other by partitions formed of a strong membranous substance.
My other zoological captures on this occasion consisted of a fine swimming-crab (Platyonychus purpureus), many individuals of which were taken by a seining-party, a small slender snake, the Dromicus Temminckii, and a few Coleoptera, including two female specimens of a large Longicorn species (the Acanthinodera Cumingii), which emitted a very unpleasant odour on being handled.
The wind gradually fell in the evening, and at four A.M. on the 17th we got under way, and stood out along the coast, proceeding southwards very quietly. The 12th was fine, but the wind unfortunately considerably against us, and a pretty heavy swell on, which elicited the usual amount of heavy rolling, for which our vessel appeared to have a remarkable aptitude. The 13th was of much the same nature, and on the 14th, before breakfast, a most dismal morning of heavy drizzling rain, which caused us to realise that we were entering the region of almost perpetual wet, we reached the bay of San Carlos de Ancud, and anchored at our old station off Punta Arenas. The rain, however, gradually cleared off, and by noon the sun was shining brightly. The land appeared rather less green than it did at the time of our first visit, owing in great measure to the young foliage of many of the shrubs, especially those belonging to the order Myrtaceœ, possessing a reddish-brown hue. As usual, several of us landed in the afternoon, and remained on shore till between five and six P.M. The Fuchsias and Escallonias were beginning to make a show, and the tall Malvaceous shrub observed in the month of May was covered with its large white and pale purple flowers. Both the white and purple varieties of our native foxglove were also flowering luxuriantly, and the stems of many of the trees were covered with the scarlet flowers of the Sarmienta repens, and the beautiful white blossoms of Callixene polyphylla, and of a species of Luzuriaga. On the cliffs near the sea I obtained a splendid Calceolaria, which I had not before observed, as well as a species of Libertia, with large handsome white flowers; and at the edge of the woods, Buddllea globosa, Berberis Darwinii, Codonorchis Lessonii, and many other plants, all in flower. I also found a single specimen of a frog of the genus Cystignathus (C. tœniatus), described by Girard§ from specimens obtained in the vicinity of Santiago, as well as a handsome golden-green Lamellicorn beetle, the Brachysternus viridis; and among the marine animals procured on this occasion was an exquisite little Nudibranchiate mollusc, marked on the mantle with elevated orange spots.
§ French biologist Charles Frédéric Girard (1822-1895).
The 15th was a beautiful day, the horizon gradually clearing, so as to afford a fine view of Osorno and Quellaype, and the peaks of the Cordillera, all dazzlingly white with snow. I landed in the afternoon with two companions, and walked for some miles along the beach, noticing large flocks of the Phalacrcorax Gaimardii, and of a diving petrel, which, flying along a few feet above the surface of the water, would suddenly drop into it like so many stones, emerging again at a considerable distance. I found for the first time, on this occasion, specimens of the yellow flowers of a low Leguminous tree, the curious four-winged pods of which had attracted my attention on our former visits. This was the Edwardsia microphylla, one of the Sophoreœ, characterised by having the filaments of the stamens not united into a bundle like the majority of the order to which it belongs. It is principally to be met with in South Chili, but also, I believe, occurs in the island of Juan Fernandez. On the 16th, which was also fine, I was one of a party who spent the day cruising about the head of the bay in quest of sport. We saw an enormous flock of the small curlew observed on former occasions, as well as several godwits, turnstones, oyster-catchers, and teal, but did not discover anything new. On the afternoon of the following day Dr. Campbell and I landed, and procured specimens of some small birds, including a pretty little slate-coloured and white finch, the Diuca grisea, which was very common, flying in small flocks over the cleared patches of ground, and a woodpecker (Colaptes pitius), which was feeding on the ground on ants' larvae. On the 19th I landed on the opposite side of the bay from our anchorage, and spent some hours botanising, finding in the woods a small species of Libertia which was new to me. In open spaces there was a splendid display of white and purple foxgloves, and I found the Tricuspidaria or Crinodendron observed in the preceding April in abundance, its low trees being red with a multitude of the fine drooping crimson flowers. I also obtained flowering specimens of the Proteaceous Lomatia ferruginea, which I have previously mentioned extends far down the west coast of Patagonia. Another tree belonging to the same order, which occurred rather plentifully, was the Quadria heteropliylla, with rather large pinnate evergreen leaves, and a small edible fruit of a nutty flavour, on account of which it is termed “avellano” by the Chilian country people.
On the afternoon of the 20th we left the bay of Ancud, and passed into the Chacao Narrows, anchoring for the night in Lacao Bay. Next morning we got under way, and proceeded southwards to the island of Quehuy, situated about half-way down the east coast of Chiloe. The day was at first bright and clear, and the view of the dark frowning headlands and snowy peaks beyond was remarkably fine. We anchored off the island soon after noon, as we had been informed that two Englishmen lived there who were well acquainted with the Chonos Archipelago, and Captain Mayne was anxious, if possible, to secure the services of one or other of them to pilot us through the intricacies of that imperfectly known region, which we were desirous of seeing something of. Heavy rain set in by the time we came to our anchor, and continued throughout the remainder of the day, but this did not prevent a considerable number of us from landing, and spending the afternoon on shore. I at first pursued my way for some distance along the beach at the foot of some soft sandstone cliffs, varying from thirty to sixty feet in height, and abounding in magnificent specimens of Gunnera Chilensis, and the fine Calceolaria obtained at Ancud. Several plants of the latter attained a height of upwards of three feet, and were profusely covered with the large yellow blossoms. Near the edge of the cliffs were some fine low trees of Embothrium coccineum, glowing with the scarlet flowers, about which numbers of humming-birds were flying. On leaving the beach I followed for some distance a narrow path which led into a thick wood, where I found the Luzuriaga obtained at Ancud in wonderful profusion, clothing the stems of the trees, its masses of delicate fragrant white flowers and orange berries producing a most beautiful effect. At the edge of the woods I met with two species of Solanum not previously obtained, one forming a sort of climber, and the other a stout shrub. Chimangos and carranchas were among the few birds observed, a fine specimen of one of the latter being shot by one of the officers, and I made a single new zoological capture, in the shape of a curious little Batrachian, the Rhinoderma Darwinii, with its skin blotched with black and white, and possessing a projecting dermal appendage on its muzzle.
The morning of the following day was showery. We were besieged at an early hour by nearly the entire population of the island, who came off with the view of selling potatoes, eggs, fowls, and small sheep. Many of them possessed thoroughly Indian features, and I was informed that there were a considerable number of them who were pure Indians, speaking the Huilliche language. In the afternoon Dr. Campbell and I landed, and took a long walk, in the course of which we met a man named Burns, who afterwards acted as our pilot through the Chonos Archipelago, as well as many of the islanders, to whom we appeared to be objects of much curiosity. They were very anxious to be polite to us, one man on horseback coming a long distance out of his way to offer to carry us across a stream in whose neighbourhood we were. As a rule, we found the Chilians, both of the upper and lower orders, exceedingly kind and hospitable. Often on passing the poorest hovels, their owners would come out to ask us to come in and rest, offering us “chicha” or “aguardiente” by way of refreshment. Upon the sandy beach of this island I found fragments of the great hands of a burrowing Crustacean, the Callianassa uncinata, and I was informed that it was very commonly to be met with burrowing in the sand.
On the 23d I was roused at four A.M. by the officer on watch to witness the sunrise, which was magnificent in the extreme—the range of the Cordillera, with its numerous sharp peaks, being of a deep purple tint, and a great mass of cloud, mottled with crimson, and purple, and gold, projected against a pale green sky. The day that followed was splendid, and as we steamed southwards, the mountain scenery on the mainland, was very fine, the Minchinmadiva, Corcovado, and Melimoya mountains being specially noteworthy on account of their sharp peaks covered with snow. Between four and five P.M. we reached Port Melinka, on the eastern side of the largest island of the Guaytecas group, and there anchored, immediately after which four of us left the ship in the dingy to explore a neighbouring islet, where we had been informed there was a cave containing bones of the extinct Chonos Indians. After a rather long pull, we reached this island, and proceeded along the coast, keeping a sharp look-out for any indications of the presence of a cave, and after a time halted at a low sandy spit, off which the wreck of an old schooner was lying. Here we landed for a few minutes, and I made a small collection of plants, the principal of which were the Chusquea so abundant at Ancud, several Myrtaceœ, the Edwardsia microphylla, Citharexylon cyanocarpum, Sarmienta repens, a purple Labiate, an Uncinia, the large white Libertia common at Chiloe, and a handsome purple Lathyrus, new to me. We saw a number of kelp-geese (Chloephaga antarctica), as also some steamer-ducks, and a few parroquets. On the way back, as we pulled along the coast of the island, we maintained an anxious scrutiny for the cave, and at length stopped at a spot where there seemed to be an opening in the rocks. On landing, I was much pleased to find that we had hit upon the right place; and on entering the small cave, which must have measured about four yards long by nearly four feet and a half in height, and the same in breadth, we were rewarded by the discovery of four crania,† and a number of other bones, which we carried off in triumph to the vessel.
† Now in the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, London.
On the 24th we got under way at four A.M., but after proceeding about fifteen miles southwards, in the course of which we passed over various islands as laid down in the chart, rain and mist set in so thick that we anchored at Port Balena, in a group of islands not honoured with any special name. Here I obtained two small species of Crustacea, a Betœus and Palœmon or Hippolyte, in the dredge. We remained at anchor till shortly after noon, when the rain and mist cleared off, and we got under way, passing southwards between the mainland and the myriads of islands of which the Chonos Archipelago is composed, and halting for the night at or in the immediate neighbourhood of Port Nevada, which, like the two preceding anchorages, was not laid down in the Government chart, but which is situated somewhere on the western side of the northernmost large mass of the Archipelago, and consequently to the north of the Ninualac Channel.
Next morning, 25th, we left our anchorage, and proceeded southwards to Port Laguna, considerably to the north of the Darwin Channel, reaching it at about eleven A.M., and remaining there for the rest of the day. Several of the officers, with myself, landed at one P.M., and spent the afternoon on shore, where I found that the vegetation exhibited a very gradual transition from that of Chiloe to that of the Channels. The following were the principal plants observed:—Podocarpus nubigenus, also seen at Port Melinka; Metrosideros stipularis; a tree first observed in the western part of the Strait, and which appears to be a species of Panax; Embothrium coccineum, in flower; Lomatia ferruginea, in flower; Escallonia macrantha, ditto; Drimys Winteri; Pernettya mucronata; an arbutus-like shrub, first observed at Chiloe; Desfontainea spinosa; Berberis Darwinii and B. dulcis; Campsidium Chiliense; the Columnea previously obtained at Port Otway; Philesia buxifolia; Chusquea Quila; the Libertia obtained at Ancud and Port Melinka (probably L. elegans, Pœppig); Callixene polyphylla, in fine flower; several shrubs not yet identified; an Uncinia; and the usual Hymenophyllous ferns, including H. cruentum, caudiculatum, tortusum, pectinatum. This was the southernmost locality in which I met with Escallonia macrantha, Berberis Darwinii, and Chusquea Quila, and the last occurred very sparingly. Sarmienta repens, I may here remark, was not observed south of Port Melinka.
We saw an otter, and picked up some skulls of the Coypou (Myopotamus), and several specimens of Chloephaga poliocephala were shot, as well as a teal and a black oyster-catcher. On the beach I found live specimens of Amyxa niger, a Monoceros, and two species of Patella; and a single specimen of a crab, Trichodactylus granariis, previously found at Chiloe and in the Messier Channel, was captured by one of the officers in a small lake of brackish water from which the port derives its name.
On the 26th we got under way at an early hour, and having parted with our pilot, who joined a wooding party from Quehuy we passed into the Darwin Channel, the scenery of which is of a very bold, striking nature, and passed into open water about noon. There was a very heavy sea on when we cleared the land, but fortunately a strong wind in our favour, so that, though the style of our progression was far from agreeable, we made good way through the night, rounding Cape Tres Montes next morning, and then crossing the Gulf of Peñas to the Messier Channel, which we entered early in the afternoon, finding heavy rain descending as usual. We anchored in Connor Cove between six and seven P.M., and it rained hard all night and throughout the greater part of next day, with occasional furious squalls, which made us feel thankful that we were lying in a comfortable berth, instead of being out at sea. As the rain cleared off in the evening, a few of us pulled up the stream opening into the head of the cove, and landed in various spots, finding everything drenched with moisture. I noticed some fine flowering specimens of the Campsidium, but they occurred too high up on the trees to be attainable; and I found for the first time specimens in bloom of a pretty heath-like plant common in the Straits and Channels, and ascending the stems of the trees to a height of ten feet or more. This was the Lebetanthus Americanus, the sole South American representative, I believe, of the order Epacridaceæ. The flowers are small, of a pretty pink colour, and deliciously fragrant.
On the morning of the 29th we got under way, and moved onwards to a new port. Gray Harbour, immediately to the south of Halt Bay. Many heavy showers fell throughout the day, with bright sunshiny intervals between them, when the wooded mountains, on the summits of many of which snow had fallen the night before, appeared very beautiful. We reached the harbour between one and two P.M., and there anchored, soon after which some of the officers made an excursion in one of the boats to a large lake-like expanse of water at the head, with a river flowing into its upper end. On their return they brought me specimens of a fresh-water shell of the genus Chilina, which was new to me. The following morning was showery and very cold, the snow-crowned hills in our vicinity presenting a decidedly wintry aspect; and, after an interval of between five and six months, we resumed our fire in the wardroom. Three of the officers, with myself, left the ship soon after breakfast, and pulled up the river for some distance. In a small bay, communicating with the lake-like expanse already referred to, we found many specimens of the Chilina, procured the day before, associated with live barnacles in brackish water. Many of the shells had their apices much eroded. On shore I found a spider of considerable size inhabiting a burrow in the soft decaying moss, wide enough to admit of one's thumb. It had a large bag of eggs attached to the abdomen; and on taking hold of it with a pair of forceps to place it in a phial of spirit, it ejected a jet of fluid to a distance of several inches from the extremity of the abdomen. I obtained fine flowering specimens of Escallonia serrata and Pinguicula antarctica, as well as of a white-flowered Valerian, new to me; and I found Lepidothamnus Fonki both in flower and fruit.
On the 1st of December we left Gray Harbour, and passed southwards through the English Narrows and Indian Reach to Port Grappler on the mainland, opposite the north-east corner of Saumarez Island. We reached our destination, a remarkably fine spacious harbour, between six and seven P.M., and shortly after we anchored one of the men caught a fish about nine inches long, which was, as usual, handed over to me. This was the ChcBnichthys esox, one of the Trachinidm described some years ago by Dr. Glinther from an old stuffed specimen in the British Museum, which had formed one of a collection of fish made by Captain King at Port Famine. When newly caught its sides were elegantly barred with narrow bands of grayish-black and violet-purple. Attached to the skin I found several specimens of a parasitic crustacean of the genus Galigus, which, being apparently the type of a new species, I have named C. chœnichthydis.
On the 2d the surveying officers were busily occupied in making a plan of the harbour, and several of those who were not engaged in this manner, including myself, left the ship early in the forenoon to explore the surrounding land. Up at the head of the harbour was a space of flat and tolerably open ground, overgrown with coarse grass, and here we observed some geese (Chloephaga poliocephala) feeding, several of which were shot from the boat. We then landed to capture the wounded, and spent some hours rambling about in search of game and specimens. I obtained some handsome lichens and mosses on the trees, but did not observe anything novel till I arrived at an open space of mossy ground, when I suddenly perceived the foliage of a plant with creeping stems, with which I was unacquainted, and to my delight recognised as a species for which I had been hunting for the last year—namely one, of which a specimen, not in flower, had been sent home by Captain King nearly forty years before, and deposited with his collection in the Kew Herbarium, and of which Dr. Hooker was anxious that I should, if possible, procure flowering examples, with a view to the determination of its true affinities. At first I could perceive no flowers, but on going down on my hands and knees, and crawling over the ground in this fashion, I after a time found flower-buds, and then fully opened flowers, and last year's fruit. The plant is, I believe, regarded by Dr. Hooker as an aberrant member of the order Saxifragaceœ, forming, in his opinion, the type of a new genus, which I hope will be described fully ere long. A detailed account of it would be out of place in the present narrative, and I shall therefore content myself with stating that the corolla is formed of five white petals, that the ovary is trilocular with axial placentation, and that the fruit is a capsule opening by three valves. Later in the day we visited several Fuegian camping-places at different parts of the harbour. The low beehive-shaped skeleton wigwams were in general surrounded on three sides by Fuchsia bushes, which formed an excellent shelter from the wind, and heaps of dead shells (among which I found a single specimen of an old worn Concholepas) and an abundant crop of nettles were, as usual, to be seen in the vicinity. The sites of these wigwams could almost invariably be readily recognised at a distance by the bright green tint of the herbage, which contrasted remarkably with the more sombre hues of that around. At one of these encampments I picked up a portion of the cranium of a deer in a good state of preservation, and I also found numerous plants of an elegantly cut fern (an Aspidium), not met with by us before or since in any other locality. Two distinct forms of it occurred, differing so conspicuously in the cutting of the pinnae, that had I not found them growing side by side, and connected by intermediate links, I should certainly have attributed them to distinct species. I also obtained very fine flowering specimens of Lepidothamnus on this occasion.
The 3d was a day of very heavy rain, and after devoting the forenoon to drawing the details of my new plant, I sallied forth with two companions in the dingy, and we pulled up to the head of the harhour, where some more geese were shot, after which we followed the winding course of a stream for a quarter of a mile, when the rapid shoaling of the bottom placed an arrest on our further progress.
On the 4th we left Port Grappler in the morning, and passed southwards through Wide Channel, examining the coast for harbours. About five P.M. we met a Chilian vessel, the “Arauco,” on her way from Sandy Point to Valparaiso, and despatched letters by her; and three hours later we anchored in, or in the vicinity of, Tom Bay, near the northern extremity of the Concepcion Channel, on the east coast of the Madre Islands. Next morning we again moved southwards, looking out for harbours, and after spending some time in the examination of a cove in the Guia Narrows, we passed on to Puerto Bueno, anchoring there between eight and nine P.M. The morning of the 6th was rather fine, so that this very pretty harbour, which well deserves its name, appeared to full advantage. Close to the water's edge is a narrow strip of grass, and immediately behind this a high bank covered with a belt of trees consisting of evergreen beech, Winter's-bark, Libocedrus, etc., while beyond, as far as the eye can reach, extend bare hills, with occasional patches of stunted shrubs, and extensive tracts of boggy ground, covered with a thick low vegetation of Lepidothamnus, Caltha appendiculata, and C. dioneœfolia, Astelia, and Gaimardia. Some of the officers, who landed in the morning to take sights, brought me off several specimens of a pretty Carabus (C. suturalis), previously found at Sandy Point, a Succinea, and some earth-worms. As early in the afternoon it was only raining slightly, Dr. Campbell and I landed, as usual encased in mackintoshes and sea-boots, and had a long ramble over the nearer and lower ranges of hills. The rain soon increased in vehemence, and lasted throughout the whole time we were on shore, but the comparatively open nature of the ground rendered walking not so fatiguing as usual, although water was squeezed out of the soil wherever we placed our feet. We came across a number of deep lakes of no great size, several of which were connected in a chain by means of a rapidly flowing stream. The principal plants observed were stunted specimens of Metrosideros stipularis, evergreen and antarctic beeches, Embothrium coccineum, and Lomatia ferruginea, together with a variety of the universally distributed bog-plants. A few geese, some black starlings (Curœus aterrimus), and many of the little creeper (Oxyurus), were seen, the last mentioned hopping about the stunted bushes in small flocks, and accompanying us from place to place. On the 7th heavy rain fell throughout the day, during which I remained on board, and the same was the case on the 8th, the afternoon of which I spent on shore. I was much interested on the latter day by observing some tadpoles in the pools of water on the boggy ground, showing that Amphibia extended as far south in this wet region (the climate and vegetation of which are almost identical with those of Fuegia) as lat. 51° S.; and two days later one of the men, a zealous collector of objects of natural history, brought me specimens of the little striped frog (Nannophryne variegata) discovered the previous season at Eden Harbour, as well as an example of the genus Hylodes, which Dr. Günther considers as identical with the H. Uptopus (Bell), of which but a single specimen, in a very bad condition, previously existed in the British Museum, procured by Mr. Darwin at Valdivia, to the north of lat. 40°. The species therefore possesses a geographical range of between six and seven hundred miles. I think it therefore far from improbable, judging from these facts, that some future naturalist may discover Batrachia to the south of the Strait of Magellan.
On the 9th heavy rain fell throughout the day, and snow descended thickly on the nearer hills, while towards the evening sleet fell heavily on deck. It was bitterly cold, and the landscape presented a most wintry appearance about nine P.M., when the weather cleared up for a short time, the snowy hills appearing very close to us, and the bare rock-faces looking most drearily black. And this, the reader will bear in mind, was mid-summer ! On the 10th two of the officers, with myself, landed early in the afternoon, and walked to a neighbouring inlet, in the vicinity of which I obtained for the first time the pretty little white-flowered Oxalis Magellanica. From the summit of a hill upwards of a thousand feet in height I gained a fine view of the Channel, and watched a magnificent snowcloud gradually sweep down it. Heavy rain fell throughout the next three days, but on the 14th there was a very considerable improvement in the weather, which we made use of to get under way and continue our southerly course, looking for harbours on the way, our researches being rewarded by the discovery of a fine new anchorage in the Sarmiento Channel, on the west coast of the largest of the Owen Islands, which subsequently received the name of Mayne Harbour, in honour of the head of the survey. Here we spent about an hour, and I landed for a walk, and procured fine specimens of Lebetanthus Americanus and other plants. This, as I have earlier observed, was the southernmost locality in which I observed the curious Lepidothamnus. In the evening we reached Columbine Cove, on the east coast of Newton Island, and there remained for the night, weighing early next morning, and moving onwards. Leaving two of the boats to survey Victory Pass, between Hunter Island and Zach Peninsula, we proceeded to Fortune Bay, on the east coast of the Queen Adelaide Archipelago, and there anchored at ten A.M., perceiving, shortly before we came to a halt, several Fuegian canoes pulling towards Long Island, opposite the bay. Before long heavy rain set in, and lasted throughout the forenoon. In a short time we were joined by the Indians, who arrived in detachments in their canoes, the first that came alongside containing the party which we had encountered during the previous season in Sholl Bay, and who evidently recognised us as old acquaintances, nodding and smiling profusely. This canoe was followed by two others, and, in course of time, by a merchant-ship's boat, by what means acquired it is of course impossible to say. During the forenoon we had upwards of forty of these people on board—the entire number of those who came alongside, including men, women, and children, amounting to about sixty individuals. Some of these were hideously ugly, while not a few possessed very intelligent countenances, and nearly all appeared to have a great capacity for laughter. There were the usual demands for “Galleta” and “Tabaca,” and they were most indiscriminate in their desires for our property—a man who had had his face soaped, to his great edification, making signs for my handkerchief to wipe it with; and a woman wishing to effect an exchange between her bone necklace and the watch-chain of one of the officers. Our caps were also much coveted, our watches excited great interest, and a small looking-glass was a source of wonder, evidently mingled on the part of some with a considerable amount of awe.
They bartered shell and bone necklaces, slings, bows, quivers of otterskin, arrows, and spears, for knives and tobacco. The spear-handles were formed of tapering poles of Libocedrus, about eight feet long; and the heads, apparently fashioned out of the bones of Cetacea, were of two forms—one which, in so far as we could learn, is employed for harpooning porpoises, being attached by a leather thong to the spear-handle in such a manner that, when the porpoise is struck, it becomes detached, so as to leave the handle floating on the water; while the other, armed with a serrated edge, and permanently fixed into the handle, is used for the capture of otters and fish. Our visitors entertained us with what appeared to be national melodies, of a rather monotonous character, and as usual imitated everything we said with the utmost accuracy.
The rain cleared off at about two P.M., and two more of the boats were despatched on surveying work, shortly after which the Fuegians left us, considerably to our relief, and encamped on an open space on shore opposite the vessel, proceeding to roof in some old wigwams with green branches, as well as to construct a new one. I landed for a short time in the afternoon, and did not meet with anything of a noteworthy character; but some of the officers who were fishing met with a tolerable amount of success, capturing several specimens of a handsome fish, with a very broad head and rather large scales of a fine golden-yellow colour. This was the Notothenia macrocephalus, described some years ago by Dr. Güinther, from a stuffed specimen said to be from the Falkland Islands, where, however, we did not encounter the species; and it is perhaps worth mentioning that Fortune Bay, where it appeared to be rather abundant, was the only locality in which it ever occurred to us. The largest specimen, taken a day or two later, measured upwards of a foot in length. In the evening one of the men caught a handsome species of Sebastes (S. oculatus), of a fine scarlet colour. This fish had been previously recorded from Valparaiso, so that it is distributed over more than twenty degrees of latitude.
Next day (16th), which was moderately fine, heavy showers only falling now and then, in ascending a steep hill, upwards of a thousand feet in height, I obtained specimens of a pretty Composite plant, new to me—the white-flowered Senecio trifurcatus; and I was surprised by disturbing an upland goose and gander, with a brood of young ones, the only specimens of the species ever observed by me in the Channels. On my return to the beach, in struggling through a belt of wood, so dense was the undergrowth that I was compelled to walk for some distance along the branches of the trees, from the impossibility of reaching the ground.
The morning of the 17th was rather fine, and a good deal of excitement was caused on board by the appearance of a schooner in the distance. The Indians were the first to perceive her, and directed our attention to her by shouts and gesticulations, several of them pulling off in a canoe to meet her. We were for a short time in doubt as to whether she was coming our way, but she gradually bore down upon us under Yankee colours, and by-and-by anchored alongside. Soon after, one of the officers went on board of her, and learned that she was the “Mary Nason,” under the command of Captain Sparkes, from Province Town, Massachusetts, bound on a whaling cruise, having left home six months previously, and passed through the Strait of Magellan.
The afternoon of that day was devoted by a party of us to a fishing expedition, and we captured a number of Notothenice, as well as a single specimen of the Aphritis gobio, first taken at Port Gallant. Attached to it were some fine specimens of a parasitic Isopod, the Pterelas magnificus. In the evening Captain Sparkes, with his first mate, came on board, and spent some hours with us, giving us much information in a very pleasant frank manner, alike regarding Province Town and his own affairs. Next morning we weighed after breakfast, and proceeded northwards to Victory Pass to pick up the two boats left there a few days previously, parting company with our American friends, after towing them for a short distance on their northerly course, and then returned southwards, anchoring in the evening among the Otter Islands, which did not appear so dismal as at the time of our first visit to them in March, owing to the improved weather.
The 19th was a showery day. The dredge in the morning yielded some fine specimens of a bivalve, of the genus Yoldia, possessed of a large foot, apparently designed for burrowing in the fine mud of the bottom. Two of the officers, with myself, left the ship early, and spent the day cruising about among the numerous rocks and islands. Some oystercatchers, a kingfisher, and a male and female of the common brown duck of the Strait, were shot, and on the beds of kelp we found a variety of Mollusca and Crustacea; ofne of the latter, now seen for the first time in abundance, being a curious Isopod, the Cassidina emarginata,† of which I afterwards found the British Museum possessed a single poor specimen from the Falkland Islands. They swam very rapidly on their boat-shaped backs among the fronds of the weed, on which they also crawled with considerable rapidity. On one of the small islands I noticed some large plants of Veronica decussata coming into flower. We tried fishing, but with very poor results, and returned to the ship at about five P.M. One of the men this day brought me a beautiful white Doris which he had found on the kelp, and a fish taken had a species of Lernœocera attached to one of its eyes.
The 20th was fair during the greater part of the day, but heavy rain came on in the evening. We remained at anchor, as it was Sunday, and next morning got under way, and moved southwards through Smyth's Channel, looking for harbours as we went along. We reached Sholl Bay on a fine bright evening, which remarkably contrasted with our former experiences in the same locality, gaining, shortly before we anchored, a magnificent view of various rugged gray mountains and snowy peaks, as well as of a glacier several miles in extent, fed by a dazzling snow-field at its head.
On the morning of the 22d the dredge yielded a specimen of the long-spined Echinocidaris procured on the previous season, together with some Crustacea of the genus Eurypodius, and several dead shells of Molluscs, including valves of Terebratulae, and of a small species of Cardita, the C. Thouarsii, described by D'Orbigny, from the Falkland Islands.† The day being bright and clear, we got under way after breakfast, and crossed the Strait of Magellan to the opposite Fuegian coast. As we approached it the appearance presented by its wall of precipitous gray mountains of the most wild and fantastic forms, rising sheer out of the water, was very remarkable in its excessive dreariness, well meriting Narborough's name of Island of Desolation.
† A species of Peronia was also here obtained. It is figured at p. 75.
We first entered Tuesday Bay, which we found to be a very fine harbour, with a comparatively narrow entrance, and inside a large extent of water available for anchorage, and after taking some soundings there, made our exit, moving westwards to Port Mercy, a very unsafe anchorage, lying quite open to westerly gales. After scrutinising and pronouncing unfavourably upon it, we steamed back as far as Skyring Harbour, a most extraordinary nook in the cliffs. Here we would have remained for the night had the anchorage been good, but it was found that there was too little room to allow of the ship swinging safely, particularly as furious squalls, the “williwaws” of sealers, blew through the gorges of the hills at short intervals. At one corner of the harbour was a fine cascade, and it was curious to watch the water of it being blown upwards in sheets of spray during these squalls, which have been well described by Captain King in the following words. He remarks —
The crews of sailing-vessels [sic, sailing vessels] call them ’williwaws,‚ or ’hurricane squalls,‚ and they are most violent. The south-west gales, which blow upon the coast with extreme fury, are pent up and impeded in passing over the high lands; when, increasing in power, they rush violently over the edges of precipices, expand as it were, and descending perpendicularly, destroy everything movable. The surface of the water, when struck by these gusts, is so agitated as to be covered with foam, which is taken up by them, and flies before their fury until dispersed in vapour. Ships at anchor under high land are sometimes suddenly thrown over on their beam-ends, and the next moment recover their equilibrium as if nothing had occurred. Again a squall strikes them, perhaps, on the other side, and over they heel before its rage; the cable becomes strained, and checks the ship with a jerk that causes her to start ahead through the water, until again stopped by the cable, or driven astern by another gust of wind. … In many parts of this country trees are torn up by the roots, or rent asunder by the wind, and in the Gabriel Channel the “williwaws,” bursting over the mountainous ridge which forms the south side of the Channel, descend, and striking against the base of the opposite shore, rush up the steep and carry all before them. I know nothing to which I can better compare the bared track left by one of these squalls than to a bad broad road. After having made such an opening, the wind frequently sweeping through prevents the growth of vegetation. Confused masses of uprooted trees lie at the lower ends of these bared tracks, and show plainly what power has been exerted.
After furling the rain-awning with which we were fortunately provided during this season, but which presented a surface of attack to the “williwaws,” we left Skyring Harbour and returned to Tuesday Bay, where we anchored between seven and eight P.M.
The 23d was a day of heavy squalls, with calm intervals, when the sun occasionally appeared for a few minutes. Two of the officers, with myself, left the ship in the dingy soon after breakfast, and occupied the day in the investigation of the bay and its inlets, landing here and there as we considered advisable. On some cliffs we found a small rookery of cormorants, and in the nests were a few addled eggs, and several well-grown young birds covered with sooty black down. One of these, which fell over the ledge into the water, appeared to feel itself quite at home in that element, swimming and diving with great rapidity. A few brown ducks were also seen, as well as several kelp-geese, which were, however, exceedingly wary. The vegetation I found to be identical with that of the southern Channels, the prevailing shrubs being dwarf Libocedrus, Metrosideros stipularis, Fagus betulides, and F. antarctica, the latter in a very stunted form; Winter's-bark, Desfontainea, Berberis ilicifolia, and Escallonia serrata, the bushes of which, now in full flower, appeared at a distance as if sprinkled with snow. No trees of any considerable size were to be seen; and as usual, Donatia Magellanica, Astelia, Gaimardia, Myrtus mimmnlaria, etc., were among the commoner herbaceous plants on the wet slopes of the hills. Here, as throughout the Channels, Mytili were very plentiful, and a Patella was also common. The dredge only yielded a dead fragment of a Polyzoon. One of the surveying staff, who were busily engaged in their work this day, brought me in the evening two broken crania of the fur seal (Arctocephalus Falklandicus) which he had found lying close to the beach, and on one of these was a small live Helix, which was afterwards unfortunately lost. One of the crania was curiously nnsymmetrical, recalling that form of asymmetry in the half-lop rabbit's skull to which Mr. Darwin has directed attention, but of course dependent on a different cause.
On the 24th I landed with two of the officers, and leaving them to cook mussels over a fire which they kindled on the narrow strip of shingle which extended above highwater mark, I started on a solitary walk, ascending one of the steep hill-sides to a considerable height. About five hundred feet up, I found a pretty little plant with purple flowers, the Ourisia breviflora, for the first time. My progress being at length arrested by a series of bare precipices impossible to scale, I gradually descended towards the beach. In struggling through a dense thicket not far from the water, my attention was suddenly roused, when stepping from branch to branch of the trees, by a very strange sound in my immediate neighbourhood, and looking down from my perch, I saw a large otter running about, and gazing up at me, apparently much perplexed by my unexpected presence. On gaining the beach I found, close to the edge of it, some splendid bushes of Veronica decussata, some of them as mnch as twelve feet in height, and covered with the pretty fragrant white flowers. Fragments of Lithodes antarctica were lying about, but with this exception, hardly any vestiges of marine animals, save Mytili and Patellœ, were to be seen.
On the forenoon of the 25th, Christmas day, rain fell in torrents, but by the afternoon it faired, and a small party, of which I formed one, landed, to collect some evergreens wherewith to celebrate the occasion—a sprig of Desfontainea, with the addition of berries made of sealing-wax, afterwards gracing the plum-pudding in the capacity of holly. We found a second cormorant rookery, and I took two young birds from the nest for the sake of their crania. The evening passed in the orthodox manner, various speculations being hazarded regarding the spot in which our next Christmas would be spent. The 26th was a showery day. We got under way after breakfast, and after executing some additional soundings in the bay, left it about noon, and proceeded eastwards along the coast of the Island of Desolation. Fortunately, there was almost no wind, which was a great advantage, as it permitted us to keep close to the coast, and so examine it very carefully for harbours. The first place entered was a deep inlet about three miles to the east of Tuesday Bay, at the head of which we saw some fine cataracts; and the next locality visited was Valentine Harbour, which proved to be of little value as an anchorage. We then continued eastwards for some miles, and between five and six P.M. entered by a narrow passage a very remarkable port (Churruca of Sarmiento§) surrounded on all sides by high rugged hills, in the gorge of one of which a deeply-crevassed glacier, surmounted by an extensive snow-field, descended for some distance. After spending a short time in this harbour, we proceeded along the coast for a few miles farther, and then returned to it, anchoring about nine P.M. for the night. Here we remained at anchor throughout the 27th, which was Sunday, much rain falling, which caused us to mourn the absence of our awning. The evening was, however, fine, and between nine and ten P.M. there was a very striking lunar rainbow. On the 28th we left Port Churruca, and spent the day coasting along the Fuegian shore of the Strait on the look-out for harbours. The day was luckily calm, though abounding in very heavy showers, so that a large amount of exploratory work was accomplished, and in the evening we crossed over to Playa Parda Cove, and there anchored. On the 29th we got under way early, and, leaving a couple of boats to survey the cove, passed westwards along the Patagonian coast for some miles, and then crossed to the Fuegian side, and entered a small harbour, Port Angosto, found the day before, anchoring for some hours to make a plan of it. Dr. Campbell and I took advantage of this circumstance, as usual, to land, and pass some hours on shore in investigation. We found progression extremely fatiguing, owing to the precipitous nature of the ground and the thickness of the trees, but lighted after a time on some open spaces on a long tongue of land, which allowed us to penetrate for some distance. As usual, the trees and shrubs consisted chiefly of Libocedrus, evergreen beech, Winter's-bark, Metrosideros, Pernettya mucronata, etc., and I obtained some specimens of the fruit of the lastnamed shrub, differing remarkably in form from the ordinary condition, the berry being of a conical form instead of rounded and depressed at the apex. I also found a tiny Composite plant, the Lagenophora Commersonii, for the first time, in great abundance, as well as many fine specimens of Clarionœa Magellanica and Senecio trifurcatus. We got under way between four and five P.M., and passed eastwards along the coast, crossing over at length to Playa Parda, and there anchoring soon after seven P.M. We found a party of Canoe Indians encamped at the entrance of the cove, and learned that they had visited the party left behind, but had given them no trouble. On the morning of the 30th we left Playa Parda, and after proceeding eastwards for some miles along the coast of the Cordova Peninsula, in the course of which we gained a fine view of the large glacier in Glacier Bay, the colouring and crevassing of which are alike magnificent, we crossed over to the Fuegian coast (Santa Inez Island), and anchored early in the afternoon in Swallow Bay. About half-an-hour later I landed, and ascended a hill on an island which forms part of the western boundary of the bay. Here I found a whiteflowered Composite plant, new to me, and obtained very fine flowering specimens of Pinguicula antarctica. The bright scarlet blossoms of the Embotirium coccineum were also conspicuous in many spots of the hill, some of the plants covered by them not exceeding six inches in height. I also found some good specimens of Galathea subrugosa among the stones in the water close to the edge of the bay, and a beautiful pale rose-coloured Eolis† was brought to me by one of the men.
§ Another possible mixup here: Puerto Churruca (53.019364° S, 73.917834° W) was named in 1789 after Spanish Admiral Cosme Damián Churruca y Elorza (1761-1805). Thus, there is no connection between his name and Sarmiento.
The 31st was a dreary day of tremendous rain, with now and then a short break of fair weather. We remained at anchor till well on in the afternoon, when we set forth for Port Gallant, in pursuit of a brig which we saw pass the entrance of the bay, and thought was probably a provision vessel from Valparaiso which had been appointed to meet us at this time. We overtook her shortly before eight P.M., finding that our surmise was correct, and having procured our letters, left her to precede us to Sandy Point, while we anchored in Fortescue Bay, a number of us sitting up engaged in the perusal of our correspondence till the advent of the New Year, when, in conformity with an old custom, at the conclusion of the first watch at twelve P.M., sixteen bells were struck, eight in honour of the obsequies of the old year, and the same number in celebration of the birth of its successor.
On the morning of the 1st of January 1869, leaving two of the officers to execute the survey of Port Gallant and Fortescue Bay, we moved westwards along the Strait, examining the coast on either side, and after having narrowly escaped grounding on a bank off the entrance of the Batchelor river, we anchored in the evening in Borja Bay, on the north side of Crooked Reach, and Dr. Campbell and I landed and spent a couple of hours rambling about. Here, as in most localities visited by us, we came across several wigwams, as well as the remains of a bark canoe. The marine animal life appeared to be rather more varied than is generally the case in the western part of the Strait, and we obtained a variety of Molluscs, Crustacea, and Echinoderms, including many fine specimens of Chiton fastigiatus and Fusus laciniatus, as well as a number of small live examples of Lithodes antarctica. Next morning we got under way, and crossed over to Tilly Bay, on the opposite Fuegian coast, where we spent some hours. Here some geese (Chloephaga poliocephala) were shot, and I obtained a number of specimens of a curious little fish, the Harpagifer bi-spinis, previously recorded from Cape Horn and the Falkland Islands, as well as several good examples of Fusus laciniatus, which were feeding on the Mytili, by means of drilling a circular aperture in the valves of the shell. Among the few plants procured in flower were the Oxalis Magellanica and the Acœna pumila. In the evening we returned to Fortescue Bay, and there anchored, being joined by the boats, and thereafter learning that the Indians had gathered in numbers in our absence, and given the surveyors some trouble. A small Yankee schooner, laden with cargo for Valparaiso, was lying at anchor in the bay, having arrived some hours previously. Her skipper came on board before long, and evidently felt very apprehensive of being attacked by the Indians, who in this part of the Strait have a bad reputation for piracy, and had been lighting gathering-fires in all directions. This evening we despatched a seining-party, and obtained a good haul of fish thereby, principally consisting of the Eleginus maclovinus, which furnished an agreeable variety to our monotonous diet of preserved and salt meat.
On the 3d, Sunday, we remained at anchor all day, and were visited by a few of the Indians, who, however, did not come on board. On the following morning we left the bay, and proceeded eastwards, passing Capes Holland and Froward, and anchoring in St. Nicolas bay about ten A.M., immediately after which two of the officers and myself borrowed the dingy, and after pulling as far up the St. Nicolas river as the depth would permit of—namely, about a quarter of a mile—we spent some time cruising about the bay, where a specimen of grebe (Fodiceps major), not uncommon in the Strait, but of which no examples had been as yet procured, was shot. The survey of the bay being completed by the afternoon, we weighed and went on to Port Famine.
On the 5th we remained at our anchorage during the first half of the day. In the morning the dredge yielded a magnificent specimen of the Waldheimia venosa, and after breakfast a party of us landed and spent some hours roaming about in quest of game and specimens. It was a very pleasant sunny forenoon, and I found a number of plants in flower on the open ground near the beach, including Calceolarias, Vetches, a yellow-flowered Orchid, Cerastium arvense, etc.; while the beautiful Codonorchis Lessonii abounded in some spots in the woods, and Hippuris, and a variety of sedges, were common in the marshes. In the afternoon we got under way, and went on to Sandy Point, which we had not visited for the last eight months. Here we found our provision-brig lying at anchor, and soon after our arrival Señor Viel came on board, bringing with him some letters left for us a short time previously by a passing vessel. On landing, on the following afternoon, we met our old friend the Patagonian chief, Cacimiero Biwa, in a state of inebriation, and learned that a large party of his tribe was expected before long. After inspecting the state of the vegetables in the garden of the Intendente, and making suitable remarks thereupon. Dr. Campbell and I set out on a walk over the open ground, rejoicing in being able to dispense with our sea-boots, which had been our necessary companions for the last two months. It was a lovely bright afternoon, and as we returned along the beach the view looking westward was most beautiful; a sea of glass, out of which, on the distant horizon, rose several snowy peaks like icebergs, and overhead a pale green sky. The following day was also spent on shore by us, and in addition to specimens of several small birds not collected previously, I obtained three species of plants which had hitherto escaped my notice. Two of these were marsh Ranunculi, the R. hydrophilus and R. trullifoliss, recorded by Dr. Hooker from the Falkland Islands, and the third, a pretty little Gentian, with bright blue flowers, the G. prostrata, found by Mr. Darwin at Cape Negro. The distribution of this tiny plant, as given by Dr. Hooker in the Flora Antarctica, is remarkably extensive. According to him, it occurs in Europe on the Carinthian Alps, at an elevation of from 6000 to 9000 feet; in Asia on the Altai Mountains; in North America on the Rocky Mountains, where it ascends to a height of 15,000 to 16,000 feet; and in South America, on the eastern side of the Cordillera. Its occurrence at the level of the sea in the Strait of Magellan thus affords a striking instance of the semi-alpine character of the flora of that region, which I have earlier commented on.
On the 8th a party of us rode up to see the deposit of coal in the woods, and to inspect the operations that were being carried on by some men for the procuring of gold in the bed of the stream, some specimens of the precious metal† having been discovered some time previously. We witnessed the process of gold-washing by passing a stream of water through a gently inclined wooden trough with stages of different elevations.
† Specimens of gold from this stream, which Señor Viel was kind enough to present to me, were sent home to the Museum of Practical Geology, London.
As Captain Mayne had determined to await the arrival of letters which we expected by one of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company's vessels, which, leaving Valparaiso on the 13th of the month, was due at Sandy Point on the 19th, we had some spare time on our hands, which some of the officers took advantage of, to start on a shooting expedition on the 11th to Elizabeth Island, while those of us who remained at the settlement were busily occupied in writing up our correspondence, etc. On the afternoon of the 15th, while Captain Mayne and I were walking over the plains to the northward, we descried a party of Patagonians in the distance, and before long they met us, presenting a very striking spectacle. There were about fifty adults, all mounted, and accompanied by a large troop of dogs. As they defiled along, clad in their guanaco-skin mantles, which were for the most part stained of a brick-red colour, with their bolas hanging by their saddles, and some with swords by their sides, they appeared to great advantage, several of the men being very handsome, and almost all of large size. The tallest, an old man with thick gray hair, was afterwards measured at the governor's house, and found to be six feet ten inches in height. Most of them, as they met us, contented themselves with smiling and passing on, but one or two stopped to speak to us, and one individual majestically motioned to me to pick up his bolas, which he had dropped. On their arrival at the settlement, they were greeted with a musical performance by the military band, and thereafter held an interview with the governor.
Our shooting party rejoined us on the 16th with a hundred and forty geese as the result of their labours, and I received from them a fine specimen of an old gander, which I subsequently skinned. We were by this time ready to start for the westward, to resume our work, as soon as the mail-steamer from Valparaiso should make her appearance with our letters. The 19th, the day on which she was due, passed without her appearance, but at this we were not surprised, as we were informed that she was not unfrequently a day behind her time. As day after day, however succeeded, and there were still no signs of her, we began to be apprehensive for her safety, more especially as heavy south-westerly gales had been of late prevailing; and by the evening of the 23d we had entirely given up hopes of her arrival, and Captain Mayne accordingly determined on starting next day for the westward. The 24th was a lovely day, perfectly calm in the morning, and most unusually warm, one of the thermometers registering 75° Fahr. in the course of the afternoon. At four P.M. we got under way, with our provision-brig in tow. Captain Mayne having made an engagement with her skipper to convey her to the western entrance of the Strait, as, owing to the prevalence of westerly winds, it is by no means an easy task for a sailing vessel to pass through the Strait from the eastwards, though a passage in the opposite direction is readily accomplished. We reached Port Famine on a fine moonlight evening, and there anchored for the night, a gun and rocket being held in readiness for the purpose of attracting the attention of the steamer should she happen to pass by us. Next morning we got under way and continued on our course, making slow progress in consequence of the wind being strong against us, so that we did not reach Fortescue Bay until the evening. On the 26th we weighed early, with the intention of proceeding as far as Port Angosto. It was a dull misty morning, causing us to realise that we were rapidly penetrating into the region of almost perpetual rain. Between nine and ten A.M. a small schooner was perceived in the distance bearing down in our direction, and many speculations were hazarded as to whether she would afford us any intelligence of the missing vessel. As the distance between us was gradually lessened, we saw, to our great excitement, that she was crowded with people, and had in addition two boats in tow also packed with human beings. When she had arrived within a short space of us, a boat left her, which, on coming alongside of us, was observed to contain the skipper of the Yankee schooner which we had encountered in Fortescue Bay some weeks previously, and an officer in the uniform of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company's service. The latter, who, on stepping on board, proved to be the captain of the vessel expected by us, soon explained the disaster that had taken place. The “Santiago” had struck on a rock† at the entrance of Port Mercy on the 23d, and some hours later gone down, but the crew and passengers, with the exception of three, had been saved, having been landed in the boats immediately after the catastrophe took place at Port Mercy, where they had remained until the 25th, when two boats, which had been despatched to look for us, had observed the schooner bearing down along the opposite coast, and on reaching her had informed her skipper of their sad plight, on hearing which he at once crossed the Strait to Port Mercy, took them all on board, and then set sail for the eastward, hoping to encounter the “Nassau.” Wonderful to relate, our mails had been the only ones out of a number carried by the vessel that were saved from the wreck, and we received our letters and papers in a damp but otherwise intact condition.
† This rock, not laid down in the old charts, was found by us on the 22d of December 1868.
After some consultation between Captain Mayne and the captain of the foundered vessel, it was decided, as the best course to adopt, that, retracing our course to Borja Bay, which we had passed by a few miles, we should there receive the passengers on board from the schooner. The next point to be determined was, whether the shipwrecked company should be conveyed to Valparaiso or Monte Video, as we could not leave them at Sandy Point, there being not an adequate supply of provisions there to support them until the arrival of the next steamer about a month hence. Monte Video was at length fixed on, as agreeing most with the wishes of the generality of the people, many of whom were on their way to Europe. We reached the bay shortly before noon, followed by the schooner, which came alongside about an hour later; and soon her inmates, many of whom were remarkably attired in blankets, rugs, etc., trooped on board, our decks being crowded with a motley assemblage of about two hundred men, women, and children, of various nations, of which the English bore the smallest proportion. There were Peruvians, Chilians, Monte Videans, Argentines, Brazilians, Germans, French, Italians, and Portuguese; and their professions were nearly as equally diversified as their nationalities, comprising merchants, captains, opera-singers, hotel-keepers, the head of a large gambling establishment at Lima, and no less than five ecclesiastics of different sorts. Of these last, two were very unpleasant dirty-looking old wretches, with straw hats, horn spectacles, and long gray garments, who might have sat for pictures of Reinicke Fuchs on pilgrimage; a third was a stout old gentleman in black, of a gouty and gluttonous appearance; the fourth was a young Jesuit with a most painful expression of countenance, the skin resembling parchment stretched over the bones; while the fifth, a fine-looking elderly priest with a splendid beard, clad in a long brown garment, and who had showed an admirable example in the way of exertion at the time of the wreck, was, I believe, a missionary from Chiloe.
After receiving our living freight, we parted company with the schooner and provision-brig, the former of which proceeded westward, while the latter followed us to the east with the intention of going round the Horn. Leaving Borja Bay, we went on under steam all night, and arrived at Sandy Point between five and six A.M. on the morning of the 27th. Three hours later we got under way, and proceeding eastwards under sail and steam, cleared the eastern entrance of the Strait late in the evening.
I need not enlarge on the details of our daily life during the voyage northward, which was made entirely under steam, as we had light head-winds nearly all the way, though fortunately steadily fine weather, a rare occurrence between the Plate and Strait. I will leave to the imagination of the reader the amount of dirt, and heat, and squalor, produced by so many human beings so closely cooped up, with breakfast going on all the early part of the day, and an uninterrupted stream of dinner proceeding throughout the afternoon. It was fortunate that we had filled up with provisions before this unexpected accession to our numbers took place, else we would have been badly off for food. We entered the mouth of the Plate on the morning of the 4th of February, but made very slow progress for some hours, as a strong tide was running against us. In the evening of the preceding day a sad event had taken place—a man who had been dismissed from the English hospital at Valparaiso on account of incurable heart-disease, having died suddenly, and this morning he was buried at the mouth of the river. The early part of the night was characterised by a marvellous display of sheetlightning, and early next morning we reached Monte Video, where we found our old friend, the “Narcissus” lying. Shortly after we anchored, a small steamer came alongside, and nearly all the passengers took their departure for the shore in her, giving three cheers for the “Nassau” as they bid us farewell.
We spent a fortnight at Monte Video very agreeably; the weather, with the exception of one or two violent pamperos, which sometimes detained us on shore unexpectedly, being gloriously bright and line, though oppressively hot; but there being almost no shade to be met with, owing to the absence of trees in the country round about the town, pedestrianism was decidedly fatiguing. The Carnival began at noon on Sunday the 7th, and lasted for about three days, during which numerous processions of people in grotesque masks perambulated the streets, while the inmates of the houses assembled at their windows and squirted perfumed water at the passers-by, who, in general provided with syringes, returned the compliment. One fine morning Dr. Campbell and I went over to the Mount with an old friend, a lieutenant in command of a gunboat, and spent some pleasant hours rambling about in search of plants, etc. I here obtained fine specimens of a handsome lizard (Cnemidophorus lacertinoides), of a vivid green colour, with several longitudinal narrow white bands. It was very common, but ran with such excessive rapidity that I was almost in despair of procuring any examples, only succeeding at last owing to the skill possessed by one of my companions in the art of stone-throwing. I also found two species of Amphibia, one a toad, the Bufo agua, and the other a beautiful species of Hyla, which was basking on rocks in the sun. This, the H. agrestis, one of Mr. Darwin's numerous discoveries, was of a grass-green colour above, and yellowish-white beneath, with the back of the thigh marked with black and white spots, and a well-marked white streak on the edge of the upper lip, and along the outer side of the leg, between the knee and ankle. The occurrence of a species of this genus in an absolutely treeless district is noteworthy.
Another day I walked with the same companions to visit a celebrated “quinta,” or country-seat, the property of a German gentleman, Mr. Buschenthal. It was an extremely hot day, and the walk along dusty roads fringed with American aloes, many of which were in flower, recalled our first impressions of the vicinity of Monte Video. Mr. Buschenthal was from home when we arrived, but we spent some hours very pleasantly strolling about his grounds, where great numbers of Eucalypti, together with a variety of fine Coniferse, were growing. We visited the hothouses, which contained beautiful tropical plants, including some splendid orchids and ferns. In one of the conservatories a chamaeleon was slowly crawling about, and we were much interested in watching its motions. The rapidity with which the extraordinary tongue was protruded to take flies from our hands was wonderful. After leaving the quinta, we returned to town by a different route, passing a variety of cottages, each shaded by the umbrageous foliage of the large Ombu, one of the few trees to be seen in the district. A few days later, in the course of a long walk under a blazing sun, I witnessed a curious sight—observing a green Mantis perched on a low bush, with a white butterfly in its grasp, which it was devouring piecemeal, its unfortunate victim, one wing of which was nearly eaten away, making vain struggles to escape.
Having filled up a second time with coal and provisions, we intended to have left Monte Video on the 19th, but were prevented by the coming on of a furious pampero, in the course of which the down from the great thistles with which the plains are covered was blown over the bay in such a manner as to exactly counterfeit a snow-storm. The gale continued during most of the 20th, falling gradually towards the evening, and on the morning of the following day, which was brilliant, calm, and warm, we weighed, and began to retrace our way to the south. A favourable breeze sprang up in the course of the afternoon, and at eight P.M. we ceased steaming, and went on under sail throughout the night, keeping up an average of eight knots for some time. The following day was very bright and warm, with comparatively little wind, but what there was in our favour. The breeze freshened somewhat towards evening, and about ten P.M. we were going smoothly at a rate of about six knots, when those of us who were seated quietly reading down below were startled by a sudden shout, and the noise of a scuffle on deck, and immediately afterwards learned, to our dismay, that there was “a man overboard.” Sail was at once shortened, and a boat immediately lowered, which, pulling rapidly from the ship, gradually disappeared from our view in the darkness. Ten minutes later a second boat was despatched, and the ship put about. This boat likewise soon disappeared from view, in spite of the light of the lantern which she carried, and an interval of anxious expectation succeeded, broken at length by a loud hail, soon after which she was descried not far off with the missing man, who, fortunately for himself, had been a good swimmer, on board. A blue light was then burned to attract the attention of the first boat to our position, and before long she made her appearance, and we resumed our course.
Heavy rain came on at two A.M. on the morning of the 23d, and continued for between four and five hours, the wind afterwards dying away almost entirely, so that we made very little progress throughout the day. I tried the towing-net, but with no result. Rain again set in shortly before ten P.M., and lasted throughout the night, and on the following morning, by way of variety, we had a fresh breeze right in our teeth, compelling us to tack, so that we accomplished very little way. During the afternoon the breeze freshened into a gale, and by the evening we were under reefed topsails, and frequently shipped heavy seas. The wind moderated considerably during the night, but by the morning of the 25 th freshened again, and was as foul as ever, while a thick mist brooded over the troubled water. Later in the day it was blowing as hard as ever, and great flocks of petrels and albatrosses were flying round the vessel. By the morning of the 26th, however, matters were greatly improved, though the wind was still foul, and we found at noon that we had only made about 250 miles from Monte Video, which was not satisfactory. It was dead calm during the greater part of the 27th. In the morning we put over a large dredge in forty fathoms water, and kept it down for about an hour, but with very poor results, one or two specimens of a small Echinus common in the Strait, a Pagurus, and a minute species of Gasteropod, being the only animals obtained. Early on the 28th a favourable breeze arose, and we went along smoothly throughout the day with studding-sails set. On the following morning (March 1st) it was blowing fresh from the S.E., but we were able to make pretty good progress in the desired direction, and on the 2d we had a fair wind, which helped us materially on our way. The 3d was a beautiful day, but nearly calm. There was a gorgeous sunset in the evening, followed by a fine moonlight night. The 4th was in most respects a repetition of the 3d, while the 5th was a dull cloudy day, with a rapidly-falling barometer, which caused us to anticipate a gale. Early in the afternoon, while a number of us were standing abaft, a seal made its appearance, and remained for some time diving about close astern of us, and a few hours later a small land-bird flew on board, and being captured was brought to me. Under the circumstances I could not be so hard-hearted as to make a specimen of it, and so tried the experiment of feeding it with a little water and crumbs of biscuit, which appeared to have a beneficial effect, as the little creature, which at first seemed in a dying condition, gradually revived, and at last flew off. We anxiously watched the appearance of the weather at this time, as we were desirous, if possible, to revisit the river Gallegos before entering the Strait, in order to institute a further search for the deposit of fossil bones which we had failed in discovering on the previous season. Heavy rain came on during the evening, and in the middle of the night a gale set in from the S.E., but soon changed to the S. W., and by the morning of the 6th of March it was blowing furiously off the land, and the vessel rolling so heavily as partially to immerse some of her boats, suspended at their davits at a very considerable height, in the waves. By the evening, however, the wind had become less violent, and the sea had gone down, so that we were able to stand in towards the entrance of the Gallegos, and early on the morning of the 7th we made Cape Fairweather, the characteristic forms of the Friars and the Convents disclosing themselves as we gradually approached the mouth of the river. The tide was against us, so that we made very slow progress, and did not fairly reach the entrance till about two P.M., when, after vainly endeavouring to get into the river, and being foiled by the numerous sandbanks, we anchored at some distance outside.
The morning of next day was very fine, though with a slight W.N.W. breeze blowing down the river. After breakfast we made our preparations for the trip, and at half-past ten A.M. a party, consisting of Captain Mayne, six of the officers, and myself, left the ship in the Captain's galley and steam-cutter, the latter of which took the former in tow. The tide was against us when we started, and continued so till we were well into the river. As usual, cormorants, filled with a spirit of curiosity, came flying round the boats, but were allowed to escape uninjured. Our first adventure was furnished by the steam-cutter grounding on a bar at the south side of the entrance, which caused us to make a slight detour, and a little later, when we were off Loyala Point, also on the south bank, the same boat broke down, and anchored to repair damages. The wind was by this time freshening considerably, and Captain Mayne therefore decided on moving farther up the river in the galley, and there awaiting the arrival of the cutter. Setting forth, after a hard pull we reached an island off the northern shore, and there anchored in shelter. Landing for a few minutes to scrutinise the neighbourhood, we came across a flock of five flying steamerducks, two of which were shot, and one preserved for a specimen. Before long we were joined by the cutter, which had broken down a second time since we parted company, and being again taken in tow by her, we proceeded onwards. Soon the wind very inconveniently changed round to S.W., so that we were no longer under shelter under the north bank, and the tide, which had turned in our favour, making against it, caused a very unpleasant chopping sea, which wet us pretty thoroughly. After passing an elevation, Gallegos Hill of the chart, and when about four miles below the commencement of the long range of cliffs, about fifteen miles distant from the river's mouth, which we intended to explore for the desired fossils, the steamer again broke down, and it was accordingly determined that we should not proceed farther. We therefore landed in the galley, got the gear on shore from the two boats, and pitched the tents. The galley was then hauled up in course of time, while later the steamer was beached at high water. While these arrangements were going on we strolled out in different directions to survey the prospect. Captain Mayne and I walking a few miles in the direction of the cliffs. On our way we observed a beautiful hawk, with brown and ash-coloured plumage, but did not get a shot at it, as well as numerous carranchas, which, as usual, kept a sharp look-out on our proceedings. I found, to my disappointment, that nearly all the plants, with the exception of a common yellow-flowered Senecia, had passed out of bloom, so that I was unable to replace the specimens so unfortunately lost on our previous visit. Close to the edge of the river the Ewpharhia, then noticed, and a curious leafless, probably Polygonaceous plant, with oddly jointed stems, which I had found in the course of our first season at Direction Hills, occurred plentifully, the latter covered with seed. We did not observe any guanacos or ostriches, though many fragments of the skeletons of both were scattered about, and there was abundant evidence that pumas were common in the neighbourhood.
Next morning (9th) we rose at half-past six, and, immediately after we had breakfasted, made our preparations for going up the river to the cliffs—a guanaco, meanwhile, appearing, and watching our proceedings at a safe distance. At eight the greater number of us started in the two boats, the cutter, as on the former day, taking the galley in tow. Many specimens of a large crested grebe were to be seen swimming about, and gulls and terns were flying over the water in flocks. In about half-an-liour the unfortunate steamer broke down, and halted to repair damages, and we proceeded on alone, after a tedious pull reaching a long sandspit dry at low water. Here we intended to land and walk on to the cliffs, but our purpose was defeated by the discovery that the spit in question was not a peninsula, but an island. Accordingly, joined by the steamer, which again took us in tow, we proceeded onwards till we arrived opposite the first deposit of fallen blocks at the foot of the cliffs. The cutter was then anchored in the stream, while we pulled in towards the shore in the galley till she grounded, when we landed, armed with picks and geological hammers for our work. After examining the first accumulation of blocks, and finding in the soft yellow sandstone of which certain of them were composed some small fragments of bone, we proceeded to walk along the beach, carefully examining the surface of the cliffs and the piles of fragments which occurred here and there at their base. The height of the cliffs varied considerably, and the highest portions, averaging about 200 feet, extended for a distance of about ten miles, and were evidently undergoing a rapid process of disintegration, a perpetual shower of small pieces descending in many places, and numerous large masses being in process of detaching themselves from the parent bed. They were principally composed of strata of hard clay (sometimes almost homogeneous in its texture, and at others containing numerous rounded boulders); soft yellow sandstone; sandstone abounding in hard concretions; and lastly, a kind of conglomerate, resembling solidified, rather fine gravel. The lowermost strata, as a rule, were formed of the sandstone with concretions; the middle of the soft yellow sandstone, which alone appeared to contain organic remains; and the upper, of the gravelly conglomerate and hard clay. Nearly the whole of the lower portion of the cliffs, as well as all the principal deposits of fallen blocks, were examined by us in the course of the walk, and we met with numerous small fragments of bone, but very few specimens of any size or value occurred, and the generality of these were in such a state of decay as to crumble to pieces when we attempted, although with the utmost amount of care that we could bestow, to remove them from the surrounding mass. To add to this, the matrix in which they were imbedded was so exceedingly soft as not to permit of being split in any given direction. The first fossil of any size observed by us was a long bone, partially protruding from a mass, and dissolved into fragments in the course of my attempts to remove it. At some distance from this a portion of what appeared to be the scapula of a small quadruped, with some vertebrae, occurred, and farther on one of the party (Mr. Vereker) directed my attention to a black piece of bone projecting from one side of a large block near its centre. This, which was carefully removed at the expense of a large amount of labour, with a considerable amount of the matrix surrounding it, by three of the officers, to whose zeal in rendering me most valuable assistance in my work I shall ever feel deeply indebted, afterwards proved to be a most valuable specimen, for on carefully removing more of the matrix when we returned to the ship, I found that it was the cranium of a quadruped of considerable size, with the dentition of both upper and lower jaws nearly complete.† As no other specimens of importance were discovered, we re-embarked towards the close of the afternoon, and reached our camp at about six P.M., learning on our arrival that Dr. Campbell had had the good fortune to shoot a guanaco at a considerable distance from the tents. This, as he had no companion with him, he had been obliged to leave on the plains, to be carried in afterwards, having most ingeniously contrived to eviscerate it with his penknife, in the course of which process he had discovered a young embryo, about half the size of a mouse, which he had brought in for my behoof. After a hearty dinner, which we felt was well earned by our hard day's work, and a long and pleasant talk, we retired to rest, intending to return to the ship next morning about eight A.M.
† This specimen, a description of which may be expected ere long from Professor Huxley, is, I am informed by that gentleman, the type of a newgenus allied to Anoplotherium.
On the 10th several of us rose at five for the purpose of taking a walk over the plains before breakfast, and three of the men were despatched to carry in the carcass of the guanaco, which was a very large one, to our camp. On our return to the tents to breakfast, we learned that we could not start as originally intended, as the tide, having been driven back by a strong breeze that was blowing, had not come high enough up to float the cutter, which, packed with our gear, was too heavy to launch. We therefore very contentedly abandoned ourselves to another day's experience on shore, and after breakfast dispersed in various directions. Captain Mayne, Dr. Campbell, and I, taking a long walk to the mouth of the river, in the course of which a handsome plover (Oreophilus ruficollis) was shot, and I obtained a single plant (a lingering specimen of a species of Valerian) that was new to me.
On the 11th we rose at seven A.M., and two hours later embarked and proceeded down the river, reaching the vessel shortly before noon. On our arrival we got under way for the Strait, a south-west gale soon after rising. Between six and seven P.M. we anchored outside Dungeness, and here we were detained during the following day, as it was blowing hard from the S.W. I filled up my spare time in skinning and carefully examining the flying steamer-duck, whose external characters agreed in all respects with King's ???Micropterus Patachonicus, and found, on examination of the skeleton, that it was that of a young bird, the skeleton being imperfectly ossified, and a thick perichondrial layer investing the sternum, which was very thin, rough, and porous in texture.
The gale was over by the morning of the 13th, and we therefore got under way soon after four A.M., and went onwards to Sandy Point, dropping one of the boats off Peckett Harbour to effect some necessary soundings there. On reaching Sandy Point at nine P.M. we were surprised by finding no less than three vessels lying at anchor, which proved to be a Chilian man-of-war, the “Ancud;” the schooner of Captain Luis Piedra Buena, whom we met at the Falkland Islands in the course of the previous season; and our provision-brig, the “Rosario Isabel,” which we expected would have nearly reached Valparaiso by this time. We afterwards found that a sprung mainmast, which had to be replaced by a new one from Valparaiso, was the cause of her detention. The wind rose during the night, and next morning, when we came on deck, Sandy Point presented a more dismal appearance than we had ever before seen it exhibit—the day being dreary in the extreme, a strong wind blowing and causing the vessel to roll severely, heavy rain descending, and a violent surf breaking on the beach, so as to render it impossible to land. The wind fell, however, in the course of the evening, and the morning of the 15th was calm and sunny, with a decided touch of frost in the air. Dr. Campbell and I landed as usual to spend the day on shore, and had a long walk over the plains, where some plovers and several species of Thinocorus rumicivorus were shot, and a number of geese and “bandurrias,” and a couple of spur-winged lapwings, were observed.
The beach was strewn with kelp, uprooted by the recent gales, and many specimens of Lithodes antarctica, Serolis Orbigniana, the large Echiurus discovered in the course of the first season, and a variety of other marine animals, scattered about, but I observed nothing that was new to me.
Two days later. Captain Mayne, with three of the officers and myself, rode to the Chilian outpost at Freshwater Bay, a distance of about twenty miles by the track. The morning was dull and cloudy, but the sky gradually cleared, and the ride was a very pleasant one, our route lying partly through and in part along the edge of the thick forests of the antarctic beech, which were beginning to exhibit fine autumnal tints. We took a little over three hours to reach the outpost, where we were very politely received, and regaled with an excellent “casuela,” the unfortunate fowl furnishing the stock of which being caught before our eyes. Soon after our meal we remounted and rode back to Sandy Point, which we reached soon after five P.M., finding that the squadron off the settlement had been increased by the arrival of H.M.S. “Ringdove,” on her way from England to Valparaiso.
On the 19th I was presented by one of the crew of Captain Luis Piedra Buena with a puma cub, a charming little creature, about twice the size of a domestic cat, with a great round head and beautiful hazel-brown eyes. Unfortunately, however, it had sustained some injury to its spine, and did not survive long. I fed it with preserved milk, dissolved in warm water, during the few days I kept it on board, and this it drank with great satisfaction, licking the last drops off my fingers with its rough tongue.
The 20th was chiefly marked by the arrival, at four A.M., of one of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company's vessels on her way to England. She brought us a supply of letters and papers from Valparaiso, and afforded us an opportunity of despatching a mail. We got under way for the westward at four P.M. on the following day, and proceeded onwards all night. The following evening we anchored at Port Angosto; and at noon on the 23d we reached Port Churruca, where we remained for the day to make a plan of the anchorage. The afternoon being fine. Dr. Campbell and I borrowed the dingy and spent some hours pulling about, landing here and there. A specimen of large black petrel, not uncommon in the western part of the Strait, but of which I never succeeded in obtaining a specimen, was sailing about the harbour, and several kelp-geese, steamer-ducks, and cormorants of two species, were seen. One of the latter, which was shot, disgorged about haff-a-dozen small fish in a partially digested condition. As was my general custom, I made a collection of the plants of the port, but, with the exception of the Viola tridentata and a species of Uncinia, observed hardly any species with which I was not already familiar. Under some stones I found a few specimens of an Oniscoid Isopod, which were afterwards unfortunately lost. The morning of the 24th was bright, but very cold. Snow had fallen during the night on the lower mountains, adding to the wintry effect produced by the large masses of perpetual snow on the more elevated peaks beyond. We left Port Churruca early in the afternoon, and crossed to the opposite shore of the Strait, anchoring in Port Tamar, in the south-western corner of King William IV's Land, soon after five P.M.
Next morning we found that there had been a very heavy snowfall on the Tuegian mountains during the night, and for some hours there was a series of the most beautiful fleeting effects of sunshine on the snow, varied by huge snow-clouds sweeping along the Strait, so as to conceal the opposite shore from view. The dredge yielded a very fine specimen of an Echinid of the family Spatangidœ, a live Terebratula, and many examples of a small species of Leda. I spent the afternoon along with Dr. Campbell in visiting the shores of the port and the small islands at its entrance, but did not observe anything worthy of mention, if I may except a snipe (Gallinago Paraguiœ), which was shot on one of the islets.
The 26th (Good Friday) was a cold, dreary day of perpetual rain; and the 27th was chiefly marked by the arrival of the “Ringdove,” which we had left at Sandy Point engaged in wooding. Much rain fell during the day, but Dr. Campbell and I spent a few hours pulling about the harbour, in the course of which we obtained a species of cormorant (Phalacrocorax Magellanicus) new to us. The 28th (Sunday) was a day characterised by heavy showers, and on the ensuing morning we got under way, and entered Smyth's Channel, the “Ringdove” following in our company. We passed two canoes with some of our old friends in them, who waved their cloaks and yelled after the customary manner, and came to an anchor among the Otter Islands at four P.M. Next day we weighed between four and five A.M., and proceeded as far north as Mayne Harbour, which we reached late in the afternoon. Rain descended in floods throughout nearly the whole of this day and the next, continuing till the afternoon of the 1st of April, when, though it did not cease, it moderated sufficiently to permit of a walk, and Dr. Campbell and I accordingly landed and ascended one of the rugged gray syenite hills, about a thousand feet or more in height. The geology of the Channels, I may here remark, appears to be of a singularly uniform character, syenite being the prevailing formation, and here and there dark veins of greenstone occurring. Around this harbour the summits of nearly all the mountains are flattened and tabular, and almost entirely destitute of any vegetation higher than lichens. In the course of our ascent I was much interested by finding in the clefts of the rocks, at the side of a small stream, a variety of the curious plant found at Port Grappler, differing from the form first obtained in the much stouter branches and more closely aggregated leaves. The first specimens observed occurred at an elevation of about 600 feet; and I again found the plant almost at the summit of the mountain. All the specimens had passed out of bloom. A curious cryptogamic plant, noticed for the first time, was the Jungermannia splachnophylla, recorded by Dr. Hooker from Cape Horn, the branches of which are so thick and crisp as to break readily across.
It rained hard all that night, and next morning there was wind in addition. I occupied the afternoon in visiting the environs of various parts of the beautiful harbour, following the course of a stream for some distance, on the banks of which I found a fine species of Carex. We had been a good deal perplexed for some time past by observing that three-fourths of the flowers of Desfontainea spinosa, which is very abundant, as I have already observed, in the western part of the Strait and Channels, and was at this time in full bloom, were perforated by a rather large aperture near the base of the corolla, and this day we discovered the cause of the injury. A large orange humble-bee (Bombus Dahlhornii), already noticed, is common in these dreary regions, and, owing to its size and the narrowness of the aperture of the tube of the flower of Desfontainea, which is blocked up by the anthers of the stamens, is unable to enter by the mouth to suck the honey-like fluid at the base. It therefore bites a hole in the side of the flower near the base, and inserts its head there. We watched the process carefully several times, as I was anxious to make out whether this insect played any part in the fertilising of the flower, and I finally came to the conclusion that it did not, as the stamens are quite removed from the part of the corolla attacked by it. On the 3d, leaving a party to finish the survey of Mayne Harbour, we moved northwards to Puerto Bueno to execute an uncompleted piece of work. Arriving there about noon, we parted company with the “Ringdove,” which continued her northerly course. I passed the afternoon on shore, but, with the exception of the discovery of a single dead and worn ConcholepasM shell, met with nothing of interest. We returned to Mayne Harbour next morning, and remained there for the rest of the day. We weighed on the morning of the 5th (one of the most utterly dismal days we had yet seen, with the hills shrouded in mist, heavy rain descending, and occasional tremendous squalls), and, moving southwards, anchored in Columbine Cove, in Piazzi Island, in the afternoon. The following morning was tolerably fine, but a good deal of snow had fallen during the night, and the temperature was decidedly frigid. I spent an hour on shore, while some of the officers were taking sights, and walked over the narrow peninsula which separates the cove from Shingle Road, but observed nothing remarkable. The only sign of life was furnished by the little Cinclodes Patagonicus, which was diligently searching the masses of kelp on the beach for the marine animals contained therein. We got under way after our return on board, and proceeded northwards, occupying the day in a search for harbours, and entering many beautiful inlets in the mountains, at the head of which extensive glaciers and snow-fields were displayed. We returned to our anchorage at the close of the afternoon, and the following day passed southwards to Isthmus Bay on the western side of the base of the Zach Peninsula. Finding this to be an excellent anchorage, we remained to execute a survey of it, and Dr. Campbell and I landed, and spent the afternoon on shore, crossing the lowest portion of the narrow isthmus from which the bay derives its name, and which connects the Zach Peninsula, at one time evidently an island, with the mainland. This we found had been employed as a portage by the Indians to Oracion Bay in Union Sound. We remained at anchor throughout the 8th, to complete the plan of the bay. The weather was tolerably fine, and accordingly a small party spent the day in pulling about the bay, landing now and then. Several flying steamers were observed, one with exactly the plumage of the non-volant form, and the others attired like the specimen obtained at the Gallegos river. Two were shot, and I afterwards carefully examined their skeletons, finding that the bones showed unequivocal evidence of immaturity. On the afternoon of the 9th we left the bay, and moved southwards to our old anchorage among the Otter Islands.
The 10th was fair, though rather cloudy, and as we remained at anchor a party of four of us borrowed the dingy in the morning, and passed a very pleasant day in pulling about among the islands. On this occasion, I was so fortunate as to obtain specimens of three fine sponges, new to me, and probably hitherto undescribed. All were of large size, and one, the largest of the three, possessed expn-atory orifices from half to three-fourths of an inch in diameter. This species was of a pale straw colour, with a thin outer rind, easily broken, a coarse horny skeleton, and an abundant supply of yellow fluid matter, which contained numerous solid yellow specks, probably the ova. The second form was of a brilliant orange-yellow tint; and the third, of a firmer consistence than the other two, was of a pale grass-green hue. They generally occurred at a depth of ten or eleven feet, where we perceived them by leaning over the side of the boat, and gazing downwards through the clear water, dislodging them with much trouble with the end of an oar's blade. I greatly regretted being obliged to cut up these splendid specimens, in order to preserve them, as the damp weather entirely prevented the possibility of drying them.† Towards the close of the afternoon we had a most exciting otter-hunt. Several of these animals were observed playing about among the beds of kelp, and one was severely hit, but after floundering about for a few minutes, swam rapidly off, while we pulled after it with our utmost speed, getting within a few yards of it. It, however, dived repeatedly, and at last vanished from our sight for a time. We had been eagerly watching for its reappearance for a few minutes, when we heard the most piteous cries that I think I have ever listened to from an animal, and saw it at some distance with its head above water, clinging to the foot of a steep bank. It was a truly harrowing sight, and cooled down my sporting ardour very thoroughly for the time. A few minutes later, the poor creature disappeared, having probably gone down to the bottom to die, and we saw no more of it.
† I hope, ere many months have elapsed, to describe these species, which I have not as yet had sufficient leisure to examine with care.
The 11th was a day of indescribable beauty. Before I left my cabin in the morning I noticed, with wondering admiration, the golden light on the bare syenitic hills; and on coming on deck I found, to my delight, that the entire mass of a magnificent solitary mountain† a little to the northward, in general shrouded more or less in mist, and the summit of which we had never seen, was revealed, without a cloud to dim the dazzling splendour of its jagged snowy peaks, the extensive snow-fields which clothed its sides and the deep blue crevassed glaciers which filled its gorges. The sky was cloudless, save for a few delicate cirri, the air perfectly still, and the entire mass of the mountain, the rugged granite hills around, and the trees on the islands, were all reflected on the unruffled surface of the lake-like water. There was that aspect of quiet sublimity over the whole landscape which only occurs when there is a tinge of frost in the air. All day long the prospect remained clear, and exhibited a seiies of effects impossible to describe, but ineffaceable from the memory; and as the sun declined, the white form of Mount Burney became first suffused with rose-colour, and then steeped in deep purple.
† Mount Burney, nearly six thousand feet in height (See Frontispiece illustration).
On the 12th we left the Otter Islands, passing southwards to Good's Bay. The weather was fine, but the sky again covered with cloud, and the tops of the higher mountains concealed from view. Here we anchored to await the return of several of the boats absent on surveying work, and as usual several of us spent the day in the exploration of the vicinity. A Nycticorax obscutus, a black cormorant (Phalacrocorax Brasilianus), and some kelp-geese, were shot, and the preservation of a specimen of a fine male of the last-named birds occupied me pretty fully on the 13th, during which much rain fell. The two following days, when we remained at anchor, were occupied in excursions to Renouard Island, opposite the bay, in the middle of the Channel; and on the morning of the 16 th, all the boats having returned, we proceeded onwards to Sholl Bay, arriving there before ten A.M. In the course of the morning I accompanied Captain Mayne and one of the officers on shore, and had a stiff climb of about 600 feet with them to the summit of the shoulder of a hill, where was a huge angular block (about six feet high by eighteen long and broad) of gray granite, from which they took a series of angles, while I investigated the neighbourhood without much result—Viola tridentata being the only plant at all scarce which I procured. It rained and blew violently while we were in this elevated position, which we quitted shortly before noon, getting on board about an hour later. The following morning we weighed early, and on leaving Sholl Bay and entering the Strait encountered a very heavy swell. It was evidently blowing hard outside the western entrance, as shown by the appearance of numerous albatrosses. Cape pigeons, and fulmar and stormy petrels. On our way eastwards we met the Pacific Steam Navigation Company's vessel “Magellan” en route for Valparaiso, and halted for about a quarter of an hour to hold communication with her. In the evening we reached Fortescue Bay, and there anchored.
Next morning we were joined by H.M.S. “Boxer” from the eastward. Heavy showers fell throughout the morning, and towards the close of the afternoon steady rain set in, while snow fell on the mountains. We remained at anchor during the 19th, and three of the officers and myself spent the earher part ofthe day in Port Gallant. In ascending one of the neighbouring hills I again found the plant first discovered at Port Grappler, and also obtained excellent fruiting specimens of a species of Gunnera (G. lobata), found by Dr. Hooker at Cape Horn. This species is not uncommon in the western part of the Strait, and differs from the G. Magellanica in the possession of glossy lobed leaves, together with a variety of other characters not calling for mention in this place.
On the 20th we left Fortescue Bay in the morning, and moved eastwards as far as Wood's Bay, whither one of the boats had preceded us on the previous day. Here we spent nearly three hours, and two of the officers and I pulled about a quarter of a mile up a river which opens into the head of the bay, landing after a time on the left bank, and scrambling up to a tract of comparatively level ground, where I found a few specimens of the Port Grappler plant for the fourth and last time. At the entrance of the river we found two wigwams, one of which was much more carefully constructed than is usually the case, and of a different form and larger size, being about five yards long by nearly two broad, and with two entrances. This was the only wigwam not of the beehive form that I ever observed in the Strait or Channels. In the woods I obtained specimens of a pretty little moss, the Hypopterygium Thouini, first noticed at Eden Harbour. Early in the afternoon, the survey of the bay having been completed, we moved onwards, reaching Port Famine about nine P.M., and next morning we proceeded to Sandy Point, and anchored there at noon. Immediately thereafter a boat came off from the shore with letters which the “Magellan” had left for us a few days previously, and we then received the unexpected intelligence that we were ordered home. The news was productive of very mingled feelings, some of the members of our company being rendered very glad by the prospect of a speedy return to England, and others rather regretting that the cruise would be rendered shorter by a year than had been originally anticipated by us. After a few days' sojourn at Sandy Point, in the course of which we repeated some of our familiar rambles for the last time, everything being at length in readiness for the northerly voyage, we bid farewell to the settlement on the afternoon of the 27th, moving on as far as Laredo Bay. On the 28th we continued our course, anchoring in the evening in St. Jago Bay. The day was cold and bleak, with heavy showers throughout the morning, but the weather improved towards the afternoon, in the course of which there was a magnificent double rainbow, with both arches complete, and dipping into the water, and the inner of the two possessed of a supplementary ring of rose colour. There was a brilliant sunset, succeeded by a beautiful clear moonlight night. On the 29th we weighed between four and five A.M., and on the afternoon of the same day, with a bright sun overhead, we passed out of the Strait for the last time, and some hours later Cape Virgins disappeared from our gaze.
After a rather tedious voyage of about three weeks, during the earlier part of which we experienced much bad weather, we reached Rio de Janeiro at sunset on the 20th of June, and four days later Dr. Campbell and I left the ship on a few days' excursion to Petropolis and St. Juiz da Fora, the former place (thus named from its furnishing a summer residence to the Emperor) being situated in the heart of the Organ mountains, and the latter, separated from it by a distance of a little over a hundred miles, in the district of Minas Geraes. Taking our places on board a steamer which left the city at two P.M., we proceeded rapidly up to the head of the bay, which, with its wooded shores and numerous islands, presented all the appearance of a magnificent lake. Arriving at the Porto de Maua in about an hour and a half, we there found a train waiting to take the passengers on board the steamer to the foot of the mountains. In a few minutes later the train started, and we were whirled along at a speedy rate through a low-lying tract of country, marshy in some parts, and abounding in the most luxuriant vegetation. We reached the foot of the Serra, the terminus of the railway, between four and five, and got into a landau, one of a series of vehicles by which the remainder of the journey is accomplished. Leaving the railway station at half-past four P.M., we followed the course of a steep and very tortuous road winding through the mountains. It was a clear bright afternoon, and the evening light shed over the head of the harbour behind us and the richly wooded slopes on either side, before the sun went down, was exquisitely soft and mellow. The drive was thoroughly enjoyable, the air, as we gradually ascended, becoming delightfully cool, and the scenery strikingly beautiful. In many spots the high banks were covered with tall Melastomaceous shrubs, with large mauve-coloured flowers; in damp nooks and corners splendid Begonias, with large clusters of pink flowers, and great glossy leaves, dark-green above and deep crimson below, displayed themselves, while ferns and palms of the most exquisite forms everywhere abounded. After attaining an elevation of about 3000 feet, we passed through a sort of gateway in the mountains, and then gradually descended to Petropolis, which lies in a narrow valley, and consists of a long principal street, through which a stream flows, with one or two at right angles, and a number of detached houses on the outskirts. It was a lovely moonlight evening when we reached the little town, and the English hotel being shut at this season, owing to the scarcity of visitors, we dismounted at the Hotel Braganza, and on inquiring, as usual, whether English was spoken there, received a brisk reply in the affirmative from a little stout Frenchman, with his hair cropped short on the crown of his head, who proved to be the landlord, and immediately began to talk the desired language with considerable fluency. After being conducted to our room we were informed that dinner would he ready in about half-an-hour, when the coach from St. Juiz da Fora was expected, an event which we anxiously longed for, as we were getting very hungry. The vehicle in question appeared before long, and at seven we sat down to dinner, after which we set out on a stroll in the moonlight. It was a night of such perfect beauty, and the air so refreshingly cool, that we walked out for at least three miles before thinking of retracing our steps. The palms and bananas appeared singularly fine in the moonlight, as their fronds were stirred by a passing breeze, and as we walked along we were treated to an extraordinary concert, furnished by cicadas and frogs of various species; nearly the only drawback to our happiness being produced by the ferocity of the dogs belonging to the cottages which we passed, to provide against whose attacks we were obliged to arm ourselves with stones. Next morning we rose at seven, and as we were informed that breakfast would not be ready till between nine and ten, we employed the time at our disposal in a short walk. At breakfast, when the landlord sat at the head of the table, we were the only guests, and we had much talk with our host, who informed us that he had spent some years in England between 1830 and 1840, mentioning the names of a number of celebrated people and places that he had seen. He evidently thought that London contrasted most unfavourably with Paris, remarking that Paris was all white, while London was all black, but went into raptures over the beauty of Edinburgh, and condescended to say that he liked the English mode of living better than the French style, as being more tranquil, observing that he had been over at the Exposicion, and had considered the Parisian life too bustling after the Brazilian quiet way of living. In the absence of any cicerone to tell us what was most worth seeing in the neighbourhood, we decided on following the road we had traversed the day before; and accordingly, after breakfast, set forth with our folios of drying-paper under our arms, and after ascending to the crest of the ridge, walked a long way down the winding road leading up from the railway terminus. The day was beautifully clear, a comparatively rare event at Petropolis, where it frequently rains, and we had in consequence a magnificent view of the harbour, and the flat ground between it and the Serra. The walls, rocks, and banks, were fringed with ferns of many beautiful and curious forms, and a very considerable variety of flowering plants, among which Begonias and Melastomaceœ prevailed largely, were in bloom. At one spot we followed a beautiful little stream for some distance up the wooded hill-side down which it flowed, passing numerous great boulders covered with Bromeliaceœ, orchids, ferns, and trailing Cacti, including a species of Cereus with lovely rose-coloured flowers. Returning to the hotel late in the afternoon, we had dinner, and another charming saunter in the moonlight terminated the evening. Next morning we were roused at half-past four, and after a slight refection of coffee, and bread and butter, got into a fly, and were driven to the coach-office, from whence the coach to St. Juiz da Fora started.
It was a bright moonlight morning, and everything was so quiet when we arrived, that we began to speculate on our having mistaken the time, but before long four mules were led out of a neighbouring stable, and harnessed to the diligencia, which then drove round to the oflice, where we took our places behind the driver, and soon set out at a rapid pace, being joined by several other passengers before we left the town fairly behind us. By-and-by the sky began gradually to redden, and there was a fine sunrise, followed by a bright clear morning. The road, along which we drove at a rate of from nine to ten miles an hour, is an admirable one, constructed by the União E Industria Company, who, I believe, enjoy a monopoly of the entire traffic, and possess three thousand mules for the service of the diligences and waggons. The stages are at about an hour's distance from each other, and as we were supplied with fresh mules at every stage, an admirable rate of speed was maintained, the mules being splendid animals, and so ready to take to the road that the leaders were not fastened to the traces till the moment of our departure. The route, throughout nearly its entire extent, passes through the most splendid scenery, winding along by the side of hills covered with virgin forest, between plantations of oranges, coffee, and mandioca, and in the immediate vicinity of rivers foaming over their rocky beds. I was greatly delighted with the variety of beautiful flowers and brightly-coloured birds and insects, many of which we had not observed in the neighbourhood of Rio. At Entre Rios, thus named on account of its situation between the Parahyba and Parahybuna rivers, and about midway between Petropolis and St. Juiz da Fora (where the coaches from these places meet the Pedro Segundo Railway, which at the time of our visit had its terminus there), we halted for an hour, and had a substantial Brazilian breakfast, after which we continued our journey. Serraria was, if my memory serves me right, one of the next places we stopped at, and between this and Parahybuna we drove for some distance through an avenue of tall bamboos, the tops of which, bending over, formed a series of regular Gothic arches. On reaching Parahybuna, we passed from the province of Rio Janeiro into that of Minas Geraes, and soon after, when we were nearly midway between that place and the next stage, Simao Pereira, the sky to our dismay began to darken, and as we were passing along the side of a steep hill rain descended in sheets, soaking us pretty thoroughly. At Simao Pereira, where we dismounted while the mules were being changed, we saw a beautiful sickle-billed humming-bird sucking honey from the flowers of a Gladiolus in a small patch of garden-ground in front of a house. It began to get dark by the time we reached San Mathias, the last stage in our journey, and after passing it we drove on in the darkness between thick woods, halting after a time at a place whose name I did not ascertain, where was only a stable for mules. Here we got fresh quadrupeds for the last time, as well as lights to guide us on our way, and again pursued our course. A few miles from St. Juiz da Fora the ground on either side of us was low and marshy in its character; and here there was the most magnificent display of fireflies which I have ever witnessed, hundreds of these insects flitting about in every direction, some flying so high as to counterfeit falling stars; and others, when seen through the trees, deluding us into the belief that we saw the lights of dwellings. We got into the town between seven and eight, not having the most vague idea as to what hotels it possessed, or which we should select; and as all our fellow-travellers were Brazilian, and only spoke Portuguese, of which our knowledge was very limited, we were not able to derive much information upon the subject from them. However, we dismounted at a hotel where several of the other passengers left the coach, entering a low one-storeyed building, at the doorway of which a group of people were congregated, and were immediately conducted by a youth to a clean, but very meagrely-furnished, double-bedded room, with a door about twelve feet high. I then began the usual formula of—“Do you speak English?” but received an emphatic shake of the head, and having tried “Parlez vous Français?” and “Sprechen sie Deutsch?” with the same negative result, we felt rather in a fix as to how to explain our wants. The youth, however, disappeared for a moment, returning with a stout elderly gentleman, who asked us, in an unmistakable German accent, what we wanted, telling us that he spoke very little English, but that he understood it pretty well, and that he would explain to the people of the hotel (who, he said, would “trate” us very well) what we wished. Thanking this good Samaritan for his timely assistance, we told him that we wanted dinner in the first place, and that we intended spending the morrow at St. Juiz, leaving it next day for Entre Rios. All this he kindly undertook to represent, and before long we had sat down to a very good dinner abounding in Brazilian dishes, including the universal Feyjaõs e Farinha. After dinner we had a long talk with our friend, who gave us a good deal of information about the place, which stands about a hundred feet or more lower than Petropolis, and, as I have already mentioned, is about a hundred miles distant from it. He informed us that a colony of twelve hundred people of his nation were established at St. Juiz, some of them being located in the town, and others inhabitiag a neighbouring village, Colonia, and said that he would have liked to have shown us all that was worth seeing in the vicinity, but that he was unfortunately obliged to go to Parahyba next day on business. He informed us that we ought to visit the chacara or farm of a certain Don Mariano, the said chacara appearing to be the lion of St, Juiz. In giving us directions how to proceed, he said, “You will go the gate of the chacara, and you will say to the negro man at the gate, I will see the chacara of Mariano.”
After enjoying a sound sleep after our long journey, we got up next morning (27th) between seven and eight, the youth of the night before, who seemed to be factotum of the establishment, and who was extremely anxious to show us all attention, endeavouring to make the utmost use of a very few English words which he proved to be possessed of, on making his appearance, demonstrating to us that he understood the directions he had received the night before—announcing “breakfast ten clocks,” “dinner four clocks,” “to-morrow five clocks,” shaking me by the shoulder at the same time, to convey to us the impression that he would rouse us at that hour; “six clocks, Entre Rios,” meaning that the coach started then for that place. He, moreover, succeeded in explaining to us that after breakfast he would conduct us to the celebrated chacara, by pointing to Dr. Campbell, himself, and myself, and announcing “Mariano chacara lookee.” After breakfast we were disappointed to find that heavy rain was falling. Fortunately, however, this state of things did not last long, and we took a stroll in the outskirts of the town, observing in a marsh hundreds of specimens of the British royal fern, Osmunda regalis, growing. After a time we set out with our friend, who had attired himself gorgeously for the occasion, and managed to carry on a large amount of conversation with him by our reciprocally mentioning the English and Portuguese names of the various objects we saw. After a short parley with a little negro boy who acted as porter at the gate of the chacara, we entered the grounds, which we found to be very tastefully laid out, and well kept. There was a small menagerie, including a cage of monkeys and several other mammalia, and a variety of birds, among which were some fine Curassows, and a specimen of the Agami (Psophia crepitans), which stalked up to the. front of its cage to contemplate us, emitting its very curious drumming note. After leaving the grounds, and stopping for a few minutes at a venda, where our guide was anxious to treat us to English beer, we took a stroll by ourselves through the town, which we had not yet seen by daylight, finding that it presented a very picturesque appearance, consisting principally of a single long street, with two fine palm-trees growing at each side of the road at either end. It was a public holiday in consequence of some Roman Catholic festival, and there was much music, vocal and instrumental, proceeding from the different houses. It was curious to observe such a number of unmistakably German physiognomies, and to hear such an amount of German spoken, receiving from many of the people whom we met a “Guten morgen,” instead of the customary “bonas [sic, buenas] dias.” We visited an old burial-ground on a height, where a tall black cross was erected, with representations of the pincers, nails, the hammer, the spear, the sponge, and other implements associated with the crucifixion, appended to it. At the close of the four o'clock dinner we sauntered out on the coach-road for some miles. We here saw some very large ant-hills, and spent a considerable amount of time watching the industrious little creatures carrying great burdens of red earth, cemented into pellets, to the entrance of the galleries, where they poised them for a moment, and then let them fall down the steep side of the hill. Farther on, we found an army of large black ants stretching across the road, and forming a belt about nine inches broad, which was visible at a distance of many yards. Darkness settled down long before we returned to the village, but we were lighted on our way by the fireflies, which, as on the previous evening, were flitting about in myriads.
We were roused in due time on the morning of the 28th, and, after a light breakfast, started at six by the coach for Entre Rios, which we reached at noon, and after breakfasting there, took our departure by the train, which started for Rio at one P.M. We were imprudent enough to select a carriage near the end of the train, a step which we afterwards repented of, as the most recently constructed part of the line was exceedingly rough, and the oscillation in consequence greatly exceeded what we had ever before experienced in travelling by rail. The country through which the line passes is very beautiful, lying at first for some distance along the banks of the Parahyba river, and afterwards crossing the Serra do Mar, which I had previously seen on our former visit to Rio. As the distance between Rio and Entre Rios is fully a hundred miles, and we had previously driven fifty from St. Juiz da Fora, we were not sorry when we reached the Brazilian capital between seven and eight P.M.
The remainder of our stay at Rio was principally occupied by Dr. Campbell and myself in long walks about the vicinity. On the 1st of June we landed in the morning to accomplish the ascent of Tijuca Peak, 3316 feet in height, and celebrated for the extensive view to be gained from its summit on a clear day. Walking to a plaza at the head of the Rua do Ouvidor, from which many of the coaches set forth, we took our places on the top of a bus which started soon after, and carried us as far as Anderahy, at the foot of a steep hill which divides the great valley in which Rio lies from the much narrower Tijuca valley beyond. Toiling along the winding road which conducts the traveller up the side of this hill, with many groans over the heat, we at length reached Boa Vista, at the summit, and having refreshed ourselves with a draught of Vino Tinto and water at a venda, and invested in some bread at a padaria, we started for the peak, passing the elegant little cascade (Cascada Pequena [sic, Pequeña]) well known to all who have visited Tijuca, and following a road which, winding along a low rounded hill, brought us at length to the foot of the proper peak. Here we encountered two diverging paths, and, after some consideration, decided on following one which appeared to lead in the proper direction. After pursuing this for a short distance, however, it suddenly diminished into a narrow track, which lay through the thick woods with which the mountain is covered. This we followed for some time, although not without certain misgivings that we were mistaken in our route. We still persevered, nevertheless, till the track became lost, and then spent a considerable time in fruitless endeavours to struggle through the dense undergrowth—a most fatiguing task, owing to the twiners which everywhere barred our progress, tripping us up, and cutting our fingers with their rough rind when we attempted to break them. After some time occupied in this manner, we came to the conclusion that, if we were to reach the top of the mountain that day, the only course that lay open to us was to retrace our steps, find the other path, and pursue it. This we accomplished, though not without considerable difficulty, on our way out of the thicket finding two dead shells of the Bulimus ovatus, of one of which I give a sketch, to illustrate the great size to which land-shells attain in these regions.
After striking into the proper path we followed it at a rapid pace, in order to reach the summit of the peak before sunset, as the afternoon was now wearing on. The route takes a zigzag course, running at some points at the foot of dark gray granite precipices, and the last part of the ascent, which is very steep, is accomplished by means of steps cut in the rock.
We reached the flat summit at half-past four, and there beheld one of the most wonderful views that it had ever fallen to our lot to contemplate. The harbour, with its numerous islands, the sea outside to the north and south, and the country around, were all spread out before us as in a map, and steeped in the most exquisite serene evening sunlight. The distant mountains were of a delicate purple tint, with here and there only just enough haze resting on them to add to their beauty. From our lofty situation we counted no less than fifty-four rocks and islands in the harbour. We remained enjoying the prospect till after five P.M., when we began to descend, as the sun was rapidly going down, and we were anxious to get on our way before the darkness should overtake us. It was long past sunset when we got back to Boa Vista, but a magnificent starlight night, many fireflies adding to the illumination. After halting at a venda to refresh ourselves after our exertions, we began to descend the hill to Anderahy, but not until we had occupied a few minutes in gazing with admiration at the splendid spectacle presented by the city of Rio, which, brilliantly lighted up, resembled a large delta formed of streams of fire. On the following day we visited the remarkable valley of boulders below Tijuca, and two days later walked to the sandy sea-beach beyond Botafogo, where, on a former occasion, I had observed the swift-running crabs. Not far from this beach I met with three species of sensitive plants, all distinct from that observed on our visit on the way out to the Botanic Gardens. Of these, one was a Mimosa, a second appeared to be referable to the genus Cassia, while the third, which was the most feebly sensitive of the lot, was an Æschynomene. On marshy ground, not far from the beach, a stout coarse-growing fern, the Chrysodium aureum, was growing luxuriantly. On a tract of sandy soil two other species of the same order, the Goniophlehium neriifolium and the Asplenium suspensum, the latter of which also occurs in the forks of trees, were observed; while on the white sand above high-water mark, the trailing stems of a Leguminous plant, with pretty purple flowers, extended for fathoms. The 5th was devoted to an ascent of the Corcovado, and the wonderful view from the top was again duly admired. Several fine tree-ferns were met with on the way, and I was much struck with the extraordinary amount of variation displayed in the pinnules of a single frond of a species whose name I have not ascertained, but which was probably an Alsophila. I preserved specimens from various parts of the frond, and I figure a couple of them, as I think they furnish a striking warning to those palaeontologists who do not possess a very intimate acquaintance with botany, of the danger of error to which they are liable in describing detached fossil leaflets as distinct species. A very common but handsome fern, at a certain height up the mountain, was the Hemidictyum marginatum, the simply pinnate fronds of which sometimes exceed ten feet in length. As I have earlier stated in the course of this narrative, few things in Brazil made a more powerful impression on my mind than the wonderful diversity of form and habit presented by this class of plants. It would be asking too much of those who have had the patience to follow this chronicle thus far, were I to pass minutely in review the various species commonly to be met with in the neighbourhood of Rio; but it may tend to give some idea of their wonderful profusion, when I state that on a single day's ramble a sedulous collector may obtain a greater number of species than are to be met with in the whole of Great Britain.
This day I made two additions to my collection of Amphibia—one being a species of toad, the Bufo ornatus, and the other of the Hylina, the Phyllomedusa hicolor, a very pretty little creature of a vivid grass-green colour above, and light yellowish-white beneath, with the sides spotted with purple. Several of the officers at this time made a trip to the head of the harbour, and on their return brought me specimens of a Leguminous shrub (Guilandina honducella), with curious prickly pods enclosing round hard gray seeds.
The weather was now extremely hot and close, and as sickness was rapidly spreading among the ship's company, two of whom we had the misfortune to lose through a very malignant form of typhoid fever. Captain Mayne decided on proceeding to sea with as little delay as possible. The necessary supplies of coal were therefore taken in on the 8th, and at four P.M. on the following day we moved slowly out of the harbour, with a long homeward-bound pennant flying from the mainmast.
Our ensuing experiences were of a very monotonous character, and the great heat of the weather tended to produce much inactivity alike of mind and body,—one of the few occupations available to those who, like myself, had a considerable amount of idle time on their hands, consisting of lounging about the gangways watching the VelellcB, Fhysalice, and other floating animals. On the 1st of July we passed the islands of Brava and Togo, the most southern of the Cape de Yerdes, and in the evening of the following day we reached St. Vincent, where, as we were placed in quarantine, we only remained for a single day to take in a supply of fuel, and then continued our northerly voyage, passing through the N.E. trades, which carried us far to the westward of our course. On the 13th we passed through a quantity of gulf-weed (Sargassum bacciferum), extending in long parallel belts along the surface of the water, and on the portions obtained I found specimens of two of its well-known denizens—the Nudibranchiate Scyllœa pelagica, and a small crab (Planes minutus) with a square flat carapace.
On the morning of the 18th two of the Azores, Fayal, and the adjacent island, Pico, were sighted, the remarkable peak of the latter (between seven and eight thousand feet in height) rising above a bank of white hazy cloud. As in the course of the afternoon we approached Fayal, the aspect of its southern coast appeared strikingly beautiful, contrasting strongly with the desert-like appearance of St. Vincent. Immediately above the water extended a very remarkable belt of bare rugged volcanic cliffs, projecting here and there into bold headlands, but beyond this, up to the level of a belt of cloud, which concealed the highest portion of the land from view, the entire surface of the country was richly cultivated, being most minutely divided into rectilinear fields, diversified with bright green and rich yellow tints—the former, as we afterwards found, being produced by crops of immature maize, and the latter by ripe barley. Nearly all the fields appeared to be surrounded by hedges of a sort of bamboo, or some allied plant, and there were no traces of roads to be seen, the result, as we subsequently ascertained, of most of them lying at a much lower level than the fields. After a time it became cloudy, and we apprehended rain, but only a few drops fell, the weather thereafter clearing up, and the evening becoming fine and bright. On reaching the entrance of Horta Bay, immediately after rounding a promontory excavated by a very remarkable caldron-shaped hollow, with a narrow entrance to the sea (the Caldera Inferno), a pilot-boat came off to us, but we declined to avail ourselves of her services, and she therefore returned to the shore to inform the governor of our arrival. As we steamed into the bay, which lies open, permitting the entrance of a considerable swell at times, the little town of Horta presented a very attractive appearance, with its bright whitewashed houses scattered over the slope of a rather steep hill, and interspersed with trees, whose foliage exhibited an agreeable variety of shades of verdure. The only vessels lying at anchor in the bay were a Portuguese man-of-war and a few small merchant vessels.
We anchored about four P.M., and in a short time the health-boat, with the doctor and governor, and an interpreter, came alongside, and after a string of questions relative to the health of the ship's company had been satisfactorily answered, we were granted “pratique.” Thereafter a number of boats came alongside, with eggs, fruit, and a variety of other articles for sale, the inhabitants of Fayal, like those of most Roman Catholic countries, entertaining no scruples on the score of carrying on trade on Sundays. The only fruits ripe at this time were apricots and small plums, and oranges, which we had expected to procure, we were informed, were not cultivated at all in Fayal, notwithstanding that San Miguel is such a noted locality for them. Vines, we were told, were grown at one time, but not now, Pico being, at present, the wineproducing island. Eggs were cheap, about sixpence a dozen. The British acting consul, Mr. Lane, came on board immediately after we had obtained “pratique,” and from him we received a considerable amount of information with regard to the island, which possesses about 25,000 inhabitants, of which 7000 are located in Horta. The Azorean population are much discontented on account of the heavy taxes which are imposed upon them by the Portuguese government, and not long before our arrival a revolution had broken out in San Miguel and some of the other members of the group, to quell which Portuguese troops, to the amount of seven or eight hundred, had been billeted over the islands, having been transported from Portugal by the man-of-war now at anchor in the bay.
It was such a beautiful evening that a few of us were tempted by the long light to land after dinner and spend a couple of hours on shore, strolling through the town, and out into one of the country roads sunk beneath the level of the fields. The streets appeared very clean, and the inhabitants, in general, struck us as healthy-looking, and much less sallow than the natives of southern Europe generally are, a result probably due to the fine climate and exhilarating sea-breezes. Two circumstances specially arrested our attention while passing through the town, one being furnished by the flocks of bats which were flying about, and the other by the attire of the ladies, who wore long dark blue cloaks, with huge stiff hoods, somewhat like poke-bonnets, measuring about a foot in height,, and nearly twice that amount from back to front.
Arrangements having been entered into for a ridingparty to visit a wonderful caldera, or crater, at the summit of the island, between three and four thousand feet above the level of the sea, four of us breakfasted early next morning, landing thereafter between seven and eight A.M., and walking to the consulate, close to which we found our donkeys, strong sturdy animals, in the care of donkey-boys, awaiting us. The saddles were sufficiently odd-looking being stuffed with hay, covered with canvas, and provided in front and behind with two upright crossing bars, which serve to hold on by when riding sideways, which we found was by far the most comfortable position. They were also padded by having a loose cushion laid over them, and as there were no stirrups, we found it a work of some difficulty to scramble into our seats. This at length accomplished, we trotted off briskly, accompanied by two attendants, one a boy of about twelve, who carried my large vasculum, and the other a youth of eighteen or nineteen, who ran behind us, armed with a kind of goad, which he freely applied to the rear of our steeds, accompanying his blows with shouts of, “Ha! shackass; get on, shackass.” After riding for a considerable distance along the roads between the fields, which were in some cases bounded by thick hedges of Hydrangeas from four to six feet high, presenting a splendid appearance from being loaded with great heads of bluish-purple flowers, we at length left the cultivated district behind us, reaching a tract of moory ground where only a few sheep and cattle were feeding. In the course of our route I was greatly interested by the general character of the plants, several of which were identical with British species, and not observed by me since our departure from England. Thus the purple heather of our Scottish moors and mountains (Calluna vulgaris) was plentiful, together with the common juniper, and other familiar plants. A handsome heath, the Dahœcia polifolia, which occurs in the west of Ireland, was also common; and a remarkable ivy-leaved fern, the Asplenium Hemionitis, which I had not previously seen, and which also inhabits the south of Europe and north of Africa, as well as Madeira, the Canaries, the Cape de Verdes, was abundant in the crevices of the roughly constructed walls.†
† Dr. Hooker remarks (Lecture on Insular Floras, p. 5)—“Of flowering plants, 350 species have been collected from the principal islands of the Azores. Of these,” according to him, “thirty are peculiar species, or wellmarked varieties, representatives for the most part of Madeiran or European plants. About thirty are Atlantic types, common to the Azores and Madeira, or to the Azores and the Canaries, or to all; the rest are Portuguese or Spanish plants.” And he further observes that, “though so much farther north than Madeira, the Azores contain scarcely any more boreal plants than Madeira, or even than the Canaries; and such as it does possess are likewise found in the mountains of the Spanish Peninsula.”
As we gradually ascended higher and higher up the mountain, the track became extremely bad, the donkeys finding much difficulty in keeping their feet, and one of them not seldom subsiding under its rider, but without detriment either to itself or him. Pursuing our onward and upward way, we were now and then enveloped in thick masses of mist, which did not permit us to see far in front of us. We noticed several species of birds, quails among the number, and at intervals an unseen thrush sang melodiously. At length we reached the lip of the crater, which at first presented the appearance of a gulf of mist. This, however, soon cleared off, and before we commenced the descent we gained an excellent view of its wonderful cavity. It is always difficult, without actual measurement, to form an accurate estimate of the dimensions of anything of the kind, but, as nearly as we could judge, it was almost circular, about half-a-mile in diameter, and six or seven hundred feet in depth. The sides, which were in general grown over with grass and low shrubs, were exceedingly steep (in certain places nearly perpendicular), and displaying deep fissures, in some of which small streams descended, forming rather extensive patches of water at the bottom, which is almost quite flat, only exhibiting a few isolatad knolls, and towards one side a small cone of about thirty feet in height, in the centre of which is a miniature crater, very deep in proportion to its width.
The descent was of rather a fatiguing nature owing to its steepness. On my way down I obtained fine specimens of two species of ferns, one of which, the Lastrœa cemula, is met with in Great Britain, while the other, a Dicksonia (D. culcita), occurs also at Madeira. I was much struck with the extremely handsome appearance presented by the fructifications of the latter. Near the bottom, growing in a damp nook at the edge of a stream, three other species occurred,—the common hart's tongue, Scolopendrium vulgare, an Asplenium (A. monanthemum), much like our British A. tricliomanes, and the Hymenophyllum Tunbridgense. Another fern that occurred plentifully, near but not in the crater, was Osmunda regalis. After spending some time at the bottom, and visiting the small cone which was densely covered with low shrubs, we commenced the ascent of the steep wall, which we found a still more fatiguing task than the descent had been. Our largest donkey-boy, however, met us when we were about two-thirds of the way up, greeting us with shouts of “Come on, marinero,” and relieved me of my heavily-loaded vasculum. Having gained the top, we mounted our donkeys and rode back to the town, stopping for a few minutes at an outlying village, where we had some detestable wine, and our attendants some bread and cheese. After our return to Horta, and we had dismissed our donkeys, we spent about an hour in the inspection of the streets. With the exception of groups of flowers ingeniously cut out of the pith of the fig-tree, but little was to be seen worth investing in to serve as memorials of our visit to Fayal, and I was disappointed in not being able to obtain any good photographic views of this beautiful island. One circumstance specially noticed by us was the multitude of beggars in the streets. In entering a hotel to get some refreshments, we found the stairs literally lined with a row of whining wretches, from whose importunities it was not easy to escape. At five P.M. we returned to the vessel, and soon after we got under way, leaving Fayal behind us on a beautiful moonlight night.
Nine days later we entered the English Channel after an absence of nearly three years, and on the evening of the 30th of July anchored at Spithead. Here, therefore, my chronicle of our experiences ends, and I bid my reader farewell.