Narrative of the Surveying Voyages …

“Proceedings of the Second Expedition, 1831-1836”

Robert FitzRoy

Bibliography
TABLE OF CONTENTS
  Information about text on this page
 Chapter Summary
I Explanation …
II Hydrographer's Opinion …
III Ready for Sea …
IV Loss of the Thetis
V Eastern Pampa Coast
VI Beagle Sails with Paz and Liebre
VII Southern Aborigines of South America
VIIIHorse Indians of Patagonia
IX Fuegians
X Set out to land Matthews
XI Historical Sketch of the Falkland Islands
XII First Appearance of the Falklands
XIII Anchor in Berkeley Sound
XIV Paz and Libre begin work
XV Beagle and Adventure Sail from Monte Video
XVI Soundings
XVII Beagle and Adventure sail from Port Famine
XVIIILeave Chilóe
XIX Mocha
XX Challenger Sails
XXI Andes … Galápagos
XXII Dangerous Archipelago
XXIII Continuation of the Meeting
XXIV New Zealand
XXV Waimate
XXVI North Cape of New Zealand
XXVII Remarks on early migrations
XXVIIIRemarks with reference to the Deluge
Show King et al Proceedings … (vol. 1)
Show Darwin's Journal … (vol. 3) or
Voyage of the Beagle
HMS Beagle track, England to Strait of Magellan

CHAPTER XI

Historical Sketch of the Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands, lying between the parallels of 51° and 53° S., and extending from near 57° almost to 62° W., are in number about two hundred, but only two are of considerable size. Between these latter, called East, and West Falkland, is the channel to which our countryman, Strong, gave the name of Falkland Sound, he himself calling the adjacent country Hawkins' Land. §

§ Although Captain John Strong of the sloop Welfare named Falkland Sound, it was Sir Richard Hawkins, not Strong, who named the islands Hawkins' Maydenlande.

Plausible assertions have been made by parties anxious to disprove the claim of Great Britain to these islands, and so few persons, excepting those immediately concerned, have inclination to refer to original documents, that I may be pardoned for recalling to the recollection of those to whom the subject is still interesting, a few well-known facts, which, if fairly considered, place the question above dispute.

It has been asserted, that Americus Vespucius saw these islands in 1502,§* but if the account of Americus himself is authentic,† he could not have explored farther south than the right bank of La Plata. In 1501-2 Americus Vespucius, then employed by the King of Portugal, sailed 600 leagues south and 150 leagues west from Cape San Agostinho (lat. 8° 20' S.) along the coast of a country then named Terra Sancte Crucis.‡ His account of longitude may be very erroneous, but how could his latitude have erred thirteen degrees in this his southernmost voyage?

§ This marks the first of several places where FitzRoy apparently feels it's more important to impress readers with his command of French (and later, of Spanish), than to pass on useful information.

* Il me paroît qu'on en peut attribuer la premiere dècouverte au célèbre Améric Vespuce, qui, dans son troisième voyage pour la découverte de I'Amérique, en parcourut la côte du nord au mois d'Avril 1502, Il ignoroit à la vérité si elle appartenoit à une île, ou si elle faisoit partie du continent; mais il est facile de conclure de la route qu'il avoit suivie, de la latitude à laquelle il étoit arrivé, de la description même qu'il donne de cette côte, que c'étoit celle des Malouines. J'assurèrais, avec non moins de fondement, que Beauchesne Goüin, revenant de la nier du Sud en 1700, a mouillé dans la partie orientale des Malouines, croyant être aux Sebaldes.—Voyage de Bougainville, 2d édit. 1772, tom. i. p. 63.

† Letters of Americus Vespucius, in Ramusio's Collection, vol, i. fol. 128,

‡ The name America was not given before the year 1507. (Herrera, Dec. 1,7, 5.)

The south shore of the Plata is low, and appears to be woody, though it is not; the depth of water off it is moderate, and the currents are strong—all which peculiarities have been remarked on the northern coasts of the Falklands; therefore the ‘description’ alluded to by De Bougainville § would apply equally well to the right bank of the Plata. The late Mr. Dalrymple published an extract from a chart printed at Rome, in 1508, in which it is said, that ships of Portugal discovered a continuation of land as far south as fifty degrees,* which did not there terminate. In that chart the name America is not to be found. Brazil is there called Terra† Sancte Crucis.

§ FitzRoy alternately refers to Louis-Antoine, Comte de Bougainville as De (or de) Bougainville, or simply as Bougainville.

* The Falklands are beyond fifty-one degrees of south latitude.

† In 1507 (the admiral Christopher Columbus being dead), Americus Vespucius was taken into the service of the King of Spain, with the title of ‘Pilote mayor,’ and was employed in making charts of the new discoveries, which gave him an opportunity to affix his own name to the land of South America. (Herrera, Dec. 1, 7, 5.)

If the Portuguese or any other people actually traced or even discovered portions of coast south of the Plata before 1512, it appears strange that so remarkable an estuary, one hundred and twenty miles across, should have been overlooked; especially as soundings extend two hundred miles seaward of its entrance:—and that the world should have no clear record of its having been discovered prior to the voyage of Juan de Solis, in 1512. Vespucius has already robbed Columbus and his predecessor, Cabot, of the great honour of affixing their names to the New World—shall he also be tacitly permitted to claim even the trifling distinction of discovering the Falklands, when it is evident that he could not have seen them? *

* Could the constructor of the chart, published at Rome in 1508, have been misinformed, owing to a mistake of 5 for 3 (50 for 30)? Such errors occur frequently in modern compilations.

On the 14th of August 1592, John Davis, who sailed with Cavendish on his second voyage, but separated from him in May 1592, discovered the islands now called Falkland. In Mr. John Jane's relation of Davis's voyage (Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 846), there is the following simple, but distinct account of this discovery: “Aug. 14, 1792. We were driven in among certain isles, never before discovered by any known relation, lying fifty leagues or better from the shore, east and northerly from the Strait” (of Magalhaens).

At this time Davis was striving to enter the Strait of Magalhasns, but had been long at sea, and driven far by tempests. His bearing is correct, though the distance (by estimation only) is too small.

In 1683-4, Dampier and Cowley saw three islands in lat. 51° to 51° 20' S., which they (correctly) supposed to be those seen and named by Sebald de Weert. However, the editor of Cowley's narrative, one William Hack, published a different latitude for the land they saw, and called it Pepys Island, in compliment to the then Secretary of the Admiralty, intending that it should be supposed a new discovery. The false latitude given by Hack was 47° S.: in his drawing of the island he did not omit the insertion of an Admiralty Bay and a Secretary [sic, Secretaries] Point.

Hawkins sailed along the northern shores of these islands in 1594, and he, ignorant of Davis's discovery, named them Hawkins's Maiden Land. His account appearing first, and prominently, before the public, procured for them the name by which they were known until Strong, in 1690, sailed through and anchored in the channel which he named Falkland Sound. The Welfare's journal, written by Strong, is in the British Museum, together with Observations made during a South Sea Voyage, written by Richard Simson, who sailed in the same ship; but a few sentences in each are so relevant to the present subject, that I shall quote them verbatim:—

1690. Monday 27th January. We saw the land; when within three or four leagues, we had thirty-six fathoms. It is a large land, and lieth east and west nearest. There are several quays that lie among the shore. We sent our boat to one, and she brought on board abundance of penguins, and other fowls, and seals. We steered along shore E. by N., and at eight at night we saw the land run eastward as far as we could discern. Lat. 51° 3' S.

Tuesday 28th. This morning at four o'clock we saw a rock that lieth from the main island four or five leagues. It maketh like a sail.* At six, we stood into a sound that lies about twenty leagues from the westernmost land we had seen. The sound lieth south and north nearest. There is twenty-four fathoms depth at the entrance, which is four leagues wide. We came to an anchor six or seven leagues within, in fourteen fathoms water. Here are many good harbours. We found fresh water in plenty, and killed abundance of geese and ducks. As for wood, there is none.

* This rock was seen by Hawkins, and named by him ‘White Conduit.’ Now it is called Eddystone [Rock].

On the 31st we weighed from this harbour, with the wind at W.S.W. We sent our long-boat a-head of the ship, to sound before us. At eight o'clock in the evening, we anchored in nine fathoms. The next morning we weighed, and sent our boat before us. At ten, we were clear out of the sound. At twelve, we set the west cape bearing N.N.E., which we named Cape Farewell. This sound, Falkland Sound as I named it, is about seventeen leagues long; the first entrance lies S. by E., and afterwards S. by W.

How it happened that the name Falkland, originally given to the sound alone, obliterated Hawkins, and has never yielded to Davis, is now a matter of very trifling importance.

I may be permitted to remark particularly, that Hawkins and Strong not only saw both East and West Falkland, but that in 1690 Strong anchored repeatedly between them, and landed: and I do so, because stress has been laid upon the fact of Beauchesne Goüin having anchored in 1700 on their eastern coast.

In the year 1600, the islands now called Jasons, Salvages, or Sebaldines, at the north-west extremity of the Falklands, were seen and named by Sebald de Weert; and during the next two centuries many other navigators, sailing to or from the Pacific, saw the Falklands; but it does not appear that any further landing was effected, or even that any vessel anchored there, after Beauchesne, except the Saint Louis, of St. Malo, until M. de Bougainville landed to form his settlement, in February 1764.

Several ships of St. Malo passed near the Eastern Falklands between the years 1706 and 1714, from whose accounts M. Frezier compiled his chart, published in 1717; and in compliment to the owners of one of them (the Saint Louis), her commander, M. Fouquet, named the cluster of islets near which he anchored, the Anican Isles.

In consequence of the visits of these ships of St. Malo, the French named the islands Les Malouines; but this was not till after 1716, when Frezier compiled the chart in which he called them ‘Isles Nouvelles,’ although in his own narrative (p. 512, Amsterdam edition, 1717), he says, “Ces isles sont sans doute les memes que celles que le Chevalier Richard Hawkins d^couvrit en 1593.”

The Spaniards adopted the French name, slightly altered, by changing Malouines into Malvinas: even now the term ‘Maloon,’ a corruption of Malouine, * is sometimes used by English or Americans instead of island, in writing as well as in speaking.

* “ Fortunately, it is on this maloon, or island, that bullocks and horses are found running wild.”—(Weddell, p. 97. §)

§ James Weddell: A Voyage towards the South Pole, performed in the years 1822-1824. London: Longman et al, 1825.

During the early part of the last century, France maintained a lucrative commerce with Chile and Peru, by way of Cape Horn, and the advantages which might be derived from a port of refuge and supply at the eastern extremity of the Falklands did not escape her active discernment.

De Bougainville says,

Cependant leur position heureuse pour servir de relâche aux vaisseaux qui vont dans la mer du sud, et d'échelle pour la découverte des terres Australes, avoit frappé les navigateurs de toutes les nations. Au commencement de l'année 1763, la cour de France résolut de former un établissement dans ces îles. Jeproposai au ministere de le commencer à mes frais, et secondé par MM. de Nerville et d'Arboulin, l'un mon cousin-germain et l'autre mon oncle, je fis sur le champ construire et armer à Saint Malo, par les soins de M. Duclos Guyot, aujourd'hui mon second, l'Aigle de vingt canons, et le Sphinx de douze, que je munis de tout ce qui étoit propre pour une pareille expédition. J'embarquai plusieurs families Acadiennes, espèce d'hommes laborieuse, intelligente, et qui doit être chère à la France par l'inviolable attachement que lui ont prouvé ces honnêtes et infortunés citoyens.

Aˋ Monte Video nous primes beaucoup de chevaux, et de betes à come,—nous atterrâmes sur les îles Sébaldes le 31 Janvier 1764.

La méme illusion qui avoit fait croire à Hawkins, à Woodes Rogers, et aux autres, que ces îles étoient couvertes de bois, agit aussi sur mes compagnons de voyage, et sur moi. Nous vimes avec surprise, en débarquant, que ce que nous avions pris pour du bois en cinglant le long de la côte, n'étoit autre chose que des touffes de jonc fort élevées et fort rapprochees les unes des autres. Leur pied, en se desséchant reçoit la couleur d'herbe morte jusquˋà une toise environ de hauteur; et de là sort une touffe de joncs* d'un beau verd qui couronne ce pied; de sorte que, dans l'ˋéloignement, les tiges réunies présentent l'aspect d'un bois de médiocre hauteur. Ces joncs ne croissent qu'au bord de la mer, et sur les petites îles; les montagnes de la grande terre sont, dans quelques endroits, couvertes entièrement de bruyeres, qu'on prend aisément de loin pour du taillis.—(Voyage autour du Monde, 1766-69, séconde edition, 1772, tom. i. p. 66-69.)

* Now called Tussac by the sealers and colonists.

On the 17th of March De Bougainville decided to place his establishment on the spot where the present settlement stands, and forthwith disembarked to commence the laborious undertaking of founding a colony.

In the year 1764, a squadron was sent to the South Seas by George III., in whose instructions, dated June 17th, 1764, it is said, “And whereas his Majesty's islands, called Pepys Island and Falkland Islands, lying within the said track,” (the track between the Cape of Good Hope and the Strait of Magalhaens), “notwithstanding their having been first discovered and visited by British navigators, have never yet been so sufficiently surveyed, as that an accurate judgment may be formed of their coasts and product, his Majesty, taking the premises into consideration, and conceiving no junction so proper for enterprises of this nature as a time of profound peace, which his kingdoms at present happily enjoy, has thought fit that it should now be undertaken.”

On the 23d January 1765, Commodore Byron went on shore at these islands, with the captains and principal officers of his squadron, “when the Union Jack being erected on a high staff, and spread, the commodore took possession of the harbour and all the neighbouring islands for his Majesty King George III., his heirs, and successors, by the name of Falkland Islands. When the colours were spread, a salute was fired from the ship.”

In consequence of Byron's favourable report, Captain Macbride was sent out in H.M.S. Jason to begin their colonization. He arrived in January 1766.

Spain, hearing of the French settlement, immediately laid claim to the islands, as forming a part of her American possessions; and France, influenced by various considerations, agreed to deliver up to Spain her newly-formed colony, upon condition that the projectors and colonists should be indemnified for their losses: an agreement honourably fulfilled by Spain.

On the 1st of April 1767, De Bougainville gave up possession to the Spanish officer appointed to take charge; the standard of Spain was hoisted, and royal salutes fired by the vessels present. Some of the French colonists remained, but the greater part preferred returning to France, and passages were given to them on board Spanish ships.

In 1770, a Spanish armament attacked the British colony at Port Egmont, and obliged its small garrison to surrender to an overpowering force, and quit the place. England, indignant at the insult, armed for war, and demanded satisfaction from Spain for the injury inflicted. At first Spain argued and temporized; but finding that Great Britain continued firm, and that the English people were even more disposed for action than their Government, she relinquished her views—disavowed the act of her officer—and restored Port Egmont. England was satisfied—or rather, the court party professed to be satisfied; but the opposers of government angrily declared that Spain had not done enough; and that, though compelled to make restitution, her insult was unatoned for.

In 1774, finding the establishment at the Falklands expensive, and almost useless,* England quietly withdrew it; but the marks and signals of possession and property were left upon the islands, and when the governor departed, the British flag remained flying, and various formalities were observed, intended to indicate the right of possession, as well as to show that the occupation of them might be resumed.

* The fact was, it was injudiciously situated, and therefore seldom visited, except by a few fishermen.

The reports made by officers employed at Port Egmont were of such a discouraging tendency, that no person at that time entertained the least wish to have any further concern with the islands—and for years they were unnoticed—though not forgotten by England. Spain, however, jealous of interference with her colonial possessions, and regarding the Falklands as a vantage-ground, from which those in the south might be suddenly or secretly invaded, maintained a small garrison at the eastern extremity of the Archipelago, where her ships occasionally touched, and from time to time reconnoitred the adjacent ports, in order to ascertain whether any visitors were there. At what precise time the Spaniards withdrew this small garrison, and left the Falkland archipelago uninhabited by man, I am not certain; but it must have been early in this century, because from 1810 to 1820 there was no person upon those islands who claimed even a shadow of authority over any of them.

In 1820, a ship of war was sent from Buenos Ayres to Port Louis; her captain, Jewitt, hoisted the Argentine flag, and saluted it with twenty-one guns; notifying, at the same time, to the sealing and whaling vessels present, that he was “commissioned by the Supreme Government of the United Provinces of South America to take possession of these islands in the name of the country to which they naturally appertain.”—(Weddell, p. 103.) This act of the Buenos Ayrean Government was scarcely known in Europe for many years; and not until 1829 was it noticed formally by Great Britain.

After reading this short statement of facts, one may pause to consider what nation is at this moment the legitimate owner of the Falklands. Do the discovery, prior occupation, and settlement of new and uninhabited countries give a right to possession? If so, Great Britain is the legal owner of those islands. Davis first discovered them; Hawkins first named them; Strong first landed on them; and (excepting the French), Byron first took formal possession of them; and (again excepting the French), Macbride first colonized them. Respecting the French claim, depending only upon first settlement, not discovering, naming, or landing; whatever validity any one may be disposed to allow it, that value must be destroyed, when it is remembered that Spain asserted her superior claim, and that France actually admitted it, resigning for ever her pretensions to those islands. Whatever France might have been induced to do for political reasons, of which the most apparent now is the continuance of the trade she then carried on with Chile and Peru, England never admitted that the Spanish claim was valid: and France having withdrawn, the question is solely between Spain and Great Britain. Spaniards neither discovered, landed upon, nor settled in the Falklands before Englishmen; and their only claim rests upon the unstable foundation of a papal bull, by virtue of which Spain might just as well claim Otaheite, the Sandwich Islands, or New Zealand.

As to the pretensions of Buenos Ayres, I shall only remark, that in a paper transmitted by her government to Mr. Baylies, charge-d'affaires of the United States of North America, on the 14th August 1832, the advocate of her claims asserts, that “it is a political absurdity to pretend that a colony which emancipates itself, inherits the other territories which the metropolis may possess. If that singular doctrine were to be found in the code of nations, the Low Countries, for example, on their independence being acknowledged, in 1648, would have succeeded to Spain in her rights to America; and in the same manner, the United States would have appropriated to themselves the British possessions in the East-Indies. Inheritance, indeed! the United States did not inherit the rights of England in Newfoundland, notwithstanding its contiguity; and are they to inherit those which she may have to the Malvinas, at the southern extremity of the continent, and in the opposite hemisphere.”*

* Papers relative to the origin and present state of the questions pending with the United States of America on the subject of the Malvinas (Falkland Islands). Translated and printed at Buenos Ayres in 1832.

The writer of the preceding sentences, in his haste to attack the United States of America for an assertion made by one of their journalists, to the effect that the United States inherited from Great Britain a claim to fish around the Falklands, must have overlooked the simple fact, that his arguments were even more applicable to Buenos Ayres than they were to the United States of North America.

When Captain Jewitt arrived at the Falklands, he found more than thirty sail of vessels engaged there in the seal fishery, besides others which were recruiting the health of their crews after whaling or sealing voyages in the antarctic regions. By the crews of these ships numbers of cattle and pigs were killed, as well as horses, the wild descendants of those taken there by Bougainville and his successors.

In 1823, the Buenos Ayrean Government took another step, in the appointment of a ‘comandante de las Malvinas;’ and in the same year, Lewis Vernet, by birth a German, in concert with his friends at Buenos Ayres, “solicited and obtained from the Government the use of the fishery and of the cattle on the Eastern Malvina, and likewise tracts of land thereon, in order to provide for the subsistence of the settlement.[”]* This undertaking did not prosper; but the next year Mr. Vernet prepared a second expedition, in which he himself sailed. His own words (translated) are:† “After many sacrifices, I was enabled to surmount great obstables; but still that which we expected to effect in one year was not realized before the expiration of five. My partners lost all hope, and sold me their shares. I bought successively three vessels, and lost them; I chartered five, one of which was lost. Each blow produced dismay in the colonists, who several times resolved to leave that ungrateful region, but were restrained by their affection for me, which I had known how to win, and by the example of constancy and patience which my family and myself held out to them.”

* See note in preceding page [ie, “Papers relative to the origin …”].

† Idem.

In 1828, the Government of Buenos Ayres granted to Mr. Vernet (with certain exceptions) the right of property in the Falkland Islands—and in Staten Land! “It also conceded to the colony exemption from taxation for twenty years, and for the same period the exclusive right to the fishery in all the Malvinas, and on the coast of the continent to the southward of the Rio Negro, under the condition that within three years I (Vernet) should have established the colony.”*

* See note in preceding page [ie, “Papers relative to the origin …”].

About this time merchant-vessels of all nations visited the Falkland Islands, both in their outward voyage and when returning from the Pacific; but advantageous as their visits were, those of numerous sealers had a very different effect: for, instead of frequenting the settlement, their crews killed the seal indiscriminately at all seasons, and slaughtered great numbers of wild cattle. “For this reason,” says Vernet, “I requested the Government to furnish me with a vessel of war, to enable me to cause the rights of the colony to be respected. The Government was aware of the necessity of the measure; but not being then able to place a vessel at my disposal, it resolved to invest me with a public and official character, and for that purpose issued the two decrees of the 10th of June: the one re-establishing the governorship of the Malvinas and Tierra del Fuego; and the other nominating me to fulfil that office.”*

* See note, page 236 [This “Note” is actually the first paragraph on page 238].

In 1829, Vernet warned off some North American sealers; and in 1831, upon their repeating the sealing excursion of which he had complained, he detained them by force. This act, and various circumstances arising out of it, drew upon him and his unfortunate colony the hasty indignation of Captain Silas Duncan, of the United States corvette Lexington, who, on his own responsibility, without waiting to communicate with his Government, sailed from the Plata to the Falkland Islands, surprised, assaulted, and made prisoners of many unoffending people, and unwarrantably destroyed both property and buildings. Mr. Brisbane and several others were put into confinement, and carried away, on board the Lexington, to Buenos Ayres, where they were delivered up to the Buenos Ayrean Government, in February 1832. The United States supported their officer, and immediately despatched a charge-d'affaires to Buenos Ayres, with instructions to demand compensation for the injury done to North American trade, and full reparation to all North American citizens for personal wrongs.

While the United States and Buenos Ayres were discussing the questions at issue. Great Britain, following up the solemn warnings she had given Buenos Ayres (especially in the protest addressed to that Government by Mr. Parish, in November 1829), issued orders to her Commander-in-chief on the South American station, to send a vessel of war to re-hoist the British flag upon the Falkland Islands; to assert her right of sovereignty, and to cause every thing belonging to the Buenos Ayrean Government to be embarked and sent away.

On the 2d of January 1833, H.M.S. Clio anchored in Berkeley Sound, to carry these orders into effect; H.M.S. Tyne, about the same time, anchoring in Port Egmont. In each place the British colours were hoisted and saluted: the small Buenos Ayrean garrison at Port Louis quietly withdrew, and sailed for the Plata in an armed schooner, belonging to Buenos Ayres: and from that time those unhappy islands have been more ostensibly British, though but little has yet been done to draw forth the resources, and demonstrate the advantages which they unquestionably possess. When the Tyne and Clio sailed, after a very short stay at the islands, no authority was left there, but the colours were entrusted to an Irishman, who had been Mr. Vernet's storekeeper.*

* Not long before the Clio arrived, there had been a mutiny in the garrison, and the Buenos Ayrean commanding officer had been barbarously murdered. In the early part of 1834, Mr. Brisbane fell a victim to treachery. These fatal occurrences will be mentioned again in the course of my narrative.

In 1834, a lieutenant in the navy, with a boat's crew, was sent to reside at Port Louis, and since that time various small ships of war have succeeded each other in visiting and exploring the numerous islands and harbours of that archipelago.

Those who may wish for more historical information on this subject—for further details of former negociations between Spain and England, or of the late discussions between North America and Buenos Ayres—should refer to Dr. Johnson's “Thoughts respecting the Falkland Islands” (Johnson's Works, vol. viii. p. 96, Murphy's Edition, 1816); to Junius's 42d Letter; and to papers published at Buenos Ayres in 1832; in addition to general history.


CHAPTER XII

First Appearance of Falklands—Tides—Currents—Winds—Seasons—Temperature—Rain—Health—Dangers—Cautions—View—Settlement—Animals—Foxes—Varieties—Seal—Whales—Fish and Fishery—Birds—Brushwood—Peat—Pasture—Potash—Orchilla—Grazing—Corn—Fruit—Vegetables—Trees—Plants—Land—Situation of principal Settlement—Prospective advantages—Suggestions—Vernet's Establishment—Reflections

Falkland Islands in FitzRoy's Table of Positions

In the appearance of the Falkland Islands, there is very little either remarkable or interesting. About the greater part of the archipelago, barren hills, sloping towards low and broken ground, or rocky surf-beat shores, are the only objects which meet the eye. On the West Falkland, and some small islands near it, there are high precipitous cliffs in a few parts exposed to the western seas; but other places, and especially the southern portions of East Falkland, are so low that they cannot be seen from the deck of a vessel five miles distant. The average height of the western island is greater than that of the eastern, although the highest hills seem to be in the latter, where they rise to about thirteen hundred feet above the sea level.

Around the islands, especially toward the south-eastern and north-western extremes, there are numerous islets and rocks, whose distance from shores, where tides run strongly and winds are violent as well as sudden, makes them exceedingly dangerous; more particularly near the north-west extremity of the group: and as seamen require information on these matters before entering a port, I will notice the tides, winds, and climate previous to other subjects.

The tides differ much as to strength and direction in different parts of the archipelago, but the times of syzigial high water only vary from five to eight o'clock; and the rise of tide is almost similar every where, about four feet at neap, and eight feet at spring tides. The principal swell of the ocean, which causes the tidal streams about these islands, comes from the south-east. Scarcely any stream is perceptible on the south-east coast of East Falkland; but along the north, south, and west shores it increases in strength, until among the Jason Islands it runs six miles an hour, causing heavy and dangerous races. Off Berkeley Sound, across the entrance, and near Cape Carysfort, the tide runs about two knots, at its greatest strength; and thence westward it increases gradually. Into Falkland Sound the tide flows from both openings, and meets near the Swan Islands; [singular in Table] shewing, I apprehend, that the principal wave or swell impinges upon the coast considerably eastward of south.

The tidal currents are stronger along the northern shores of the archipelago than they are along the south coasts; and the stream of flood is stronger than the ebb. At Port William, the easternmost harbour, the time of high water at full moon is five; and thence westward, the times increase gradually to half-past eight, at New Island, which is nearly the westernmost of the group.

Generally speaking, the sea is much deeper near the southern and western shores than it is near those of the north; and to those local differences I attribute the varying velocity of the minor tide streams.

Besides these movements of the surrounding waters, there is a current setting past the islands from south-west to northeast: a current which continually brings drift wood to their southern coasts, and has brought Fuegian canoes. On all parts of the southern shores that are open to the south-west, the beaches or rocks are covered with trees, which have drifted from Staten Land or Tierra del Fuego. Great quantities of this driftwood may be found between Cape Orford and Cape Meredith; upon the Arch, § Speedwell, George, and Barren Islands: indeed, there are few places between Cape Orford and Choiseul Bay {Choiseul Sound in FitzRoy's table} where a vessel may not find a good supply of fuel. On Long Island, and in the bay behind the Sea-Lion Islands, {singular in FitzRoy's Table} portions of Fuegian canoes have often been found; one consisted of an entire side (pieces of bark sewed together), which could not have been made many years. At sea, when north-eastward of the Falklands, great quantities of drift kelp* are seen, besides water-worn trunks and branches of trees, near which there are generally fish, and numbers of birds. These sure indications of a current from the south-west have been met with upwards of two hundred miles to the northward of Berkeley Sound. There is not, however, reason to think that this current ever runs more than two knots an hour, under any circumstances, and in all probability its usual set is even less than one knot.

§ Arch Islands are omitted in FitzRoy's Table of Positions, but have been added to the Table in this online edition.

* Sea-weed detached from the rocks and drifting with the current.

Wind is the principal evil at the Falklands: a region more exposed to storms, both in summer and winter, it would be difficult to mention.

The winds are variable; seldom at rest, while the sun is above the horizon, and very violent at times; during the summer a calm day is an extraordinary event. Generally speaking, the nights are less windy than the days, but neither by night nor by day, nor at any season of the year, are these islands exempt from sudden and very severe squalls; or from gales which blow heavily, though they do not usually last many hours.

It has been stated by Bougainville and others that in summer the wind generally freshens as the sun rises, and dies away about sunset: also, that the nights are clear and starlight. The information I have received, with what I have myself witnessed, induces me to agree to the first of these statements in its most general sense, and to a certain degree I can admit the second; but, at the same time, it is true that there are many cloudy and very many windy nights in the course of each year, I might almost say month. The Magellan was driven from her anchors, though close to a weather shore in the narrowest part of Berkeley Sound, and totally wrecked in Johnson Harbour § about midnight of the 12th of January* 1833.

§ The Magellan refers to the wreck of a French whaler. Johnson Harbour is omitted from FitzRoy's Table, but has been added to the Table in this online edition.

* The month which, in that hemisphere, corresponds to July in ours.

The prevalent direction of the wind is westerly. Gales, in general, commence in the north-west, and draw or fly round to the south-west; and it may be remarked, that when rain accompanies a north-west wind it soon shifts into the southwest quarter, and blows hard.

Northerly winds bring cloudy weather; and when very light, they are often accompanied by a thick fog: it is also worth notice that they almost always occur about the full and change of the moon.

North-east and northerly winds bring gloomy overcast weather, with much rain; sometimes they blow hard and hang in the N.N.E., but it is more common for them to draw round to the westward. South-easterly winds also bring much rain, they are not frequent, but they blow hard, and as the gale increases it hauls southward. During winter the winds are chiefly from the north-west, and in summer they are more frequently south-west. Though fogs occur with light easterly or northerly winds, they do not often last through the day.

Gales of wind, as well as squalls, are more sudden, and blow more furiously from the southern quarter, between south-west and south-east, than from other directions.

Wind from the east is rarely lasting, or strong; it generally brings fine weather, and may be expected in April, May, June, and July, rather than at other times, but intervals of fine weather (short indeed), with light breezes from E.S.E. to E.N.E., occur occasionally throughout the year.

Neither lightning nor thunder are at all common, but when the former occurs easterly wind is expected to follow. If lightning should be seen in the south-east while the barometer is low,* a hard gale from that quarter may be expected. Southeast and southerly gales last longer than those from the westward, and they throw a very heavy sea upon the southern shores. In the winter there is not, generally, so much wind as in the summer, and in the former season the weather, though colder, is more settled, and considerably drier.

* A seaman may naturally ask here, and at other passages where reference is made to the barometer, “What is considered low for that place?” and as a reply may be obtained more satisfactorily by consulting the Meteorological Journal, in the appendix,§ than by receiving an answer in figures (barometers and direction of wind varying so much), I will beg him to look at that Journal.

§ Appendix, —“Meteorological Journal”

In different years seasons vary so much, that those who have been longest about the islands hardly venture to predict what weather will be found during any particular month. All they say is, that January, February, and March, though warmest, are the windiest months, and that May, June, and July, though cold, are much less stormy.*

* Mr. Low scarcely ever found two succeeding' years alike, as to wind and weather, during the corresponding seasons.

I must here add one word in favour of the barometer, or sympiesometer. Every material change in the weather is foretold by these invaluable instruments, if their movements are tolerably understood by those who consult them, and if they are frequently observed. Mr. Low said to me, “The barometer is worth any thing in these countries” (alluding to Tierra del Fuego, as well as the Falklands); “some say they dislike it because it is always so low, and foretelling bad weather; but how often do we have any other?” They must, somehow, think the barometer ominous, and overlook the use of the omen.

The temperature may be considered equable; it is never hot, neither is it ever very cold; but the average is low, and in consequence of frequent rain and wind, a really moderate degree of cold is much more noticed than would probably be the case if the weather were dry and serene.

Since 1825 Fahrenheit's thermometer has only once been observed so low as 22° in the shade, at mid-day, and it has been but once above 80° in the shade. Its ordinary range is between 30° and 50° in the winter, and from 40° to 65° in the summer. Ice has not been known to exceed an inch in thickness; snow seldom lies upon the low lands, or at any period exceeds two inches in depth. Although rain is so frequent, it does not continue falling for any considerable time; and as evaporation is rapid, in consequence of so much wind, there are no unwholesome exhalations; indeed, the climate is exceedingly healthy, and no disease whatever has been hitherto contracted, in consequence of its influence, excepting ordinary colds and coughs, or rheumatic affections, brought on by unusual exposure to weather. It is said by those who have had the most experience there, that the climate of West Falkland is milder than that of the Eastern large island. Probably the west winds are chilled in passing over the heights, and upon reaching Port Louis are several degrees colder than when they first strike upon the western islands. In Tierra del Fuego, and many other places, the case is similar, the western regions having a milder climate than is found about the central or eastern districts. Excellent harbours, easy of access, affording good shelter, with the very best holding ground, abound among these islands, and, with due care, offer ample protection from the frequent gales.

In approaching the land, and especially while entering a harbour, a careful look-out should be kept for ‘fixed kelp,’ the seaweed growing on every rock in those places, which is covered by the sea, and not very far beneath its surface. Lying upon the water, the upper leaves and stalks show, almost as well as a buoy, where there is a possibility of hidden danger. Long stems, with leaves, lying regularly along the surface of the sea, are generally attached to rocky places, or else to large stones. Occasionally a few straggling stalks of kelp are seen in deep water, even in thirty fathoms: many of which are attached to stones, and so firmly, that their long stems will sometimes weigh the stone adhering to their roots. Such scattered plants as these need not be minded by a ship; but in passing to windward of patches or beds of kelp, or rather in passing on that side from which the stems stream away with the current, care should be taken to give the place a wide berthi, because the only part which shows, when the tide is strong, lies on one side of, not over the rocks. Where the stream of tide is very strong this kelp is quite ‘run under,’ or kept down out of sight, and can no longer be depended on as a warning. When a clear spot is seen in the middle of a thick patch of fixed kelp, one may expect to find there the least water.

Drift kelp, or that which is floating on the surface of the sea, unattached to any rock or stone, of course need not be avoided; it may be known at a glance, by the irregular huddled look which it has. Off the south-east shores of the Falklands there are several rocky shallows, on which the sea breaks heavily during south-east gales, though not at other times: all those shallows are marked by kelp, and in one place, thus indicated, not more suspicious in appearance than others, a rock was found, almost ‘awash’ at low water.

Many wrecks have occurred, even on the land-locked shores of harbours themselves, and in 1833-4, some of their remains served as a warning to strangers to moor their ships securely: but with good ground tackle, properly disposed, and the usual precautions, a vessel will lie in absolute safety, as the holding-ground is excellent: indeed, in many places so tenacious, that it is exceedingly difficult to weigh an anchor which has been some time down. Particular directions for making the land, approaching and entering harbours, and taking advantageous berths, will be found in another place: generally speaking, the local pilotage is very simple.

The country is remarkably easy of access to persons on foot; but half-concealed rivulets and numerous bogs, oblige a mounted traveller to be very cautious. There are no trees any where, but a small bush is plentiful in many vallies. Scarcely any view can be more dismal than that from the heights: moorland and black bog extend as far as eye can discern, intersected by innumerable streams, and pools of yellowish brown water. But this appearance is deceptive; much of what seems to be a barren moor, is solid sandy clay soil, covered by a thin layer of vegetable mould, on which grow shrubby bushes and a coarse grass, affording ample nourishment to cattle; besides which, one does not see into many of the vallies where there is good soil and pasture. Some tracts of land, especially those at the south of East Falkland, differ in character, being low, level, and abundantly productive of excellent herbage.

Mr. Darwin's volume will doubtless afford information as to the geological formation of the Eastern Falkland.§ He did not visit the western island, but obtained many notices of it from those who were there. The more elevated parts of East Falkland are quartz rock; clay-slate prevails in the intermediate districts. Sandstone, in which are beautifully perfect impressions of shells, occurs in beds within the slate formation: and upon the slate is a layer of clay, fit for making bricks. Near the surface, where this clay is of a lighter quality, and mixed with vegetable remains, it is good soil, fit for cultivation. In some places, a great extent of clay is covered by a layer of very solid peat, varying in depth from two to ten feet. The solidity of this peat is surprising; it burns well, and is an excellent substitute for other fuel. To the clay and to the solid peat may be attributed the numerous bogs and pools of water, rather than to the total amount of rain. Is the peat now growing, or was the whole mass formed ages ago?

§ Darwin does indeed describe the geological structure in his volume (Chapter XII in 1839; Chapter IX in 1845). Perhaps FitzRoy had not yet read this when he wrote the above paragraph.

The settlement, now consisting only of a few huts, some cottages, and a ruinous house or two, occupies the place originally selected by Bougainville, close to Port Louis, at the head of Berkeley Sound. Standing in an exposed situation, scattered over half a mile of rising ground, without a tree or even a shrub near it, the unfortunate village has a bleak and desolate appearance, ominous of its sad history. Previous, however, to entering upon the affairs of the settlement, I will continue my sketch of the islands and their present produce, independent of the settlers now there.

By the French, and afterwards by the Spanish colonists, a number of black cattle, horses, pigs, and rabbits, were turned loose upon East Falkland; and, by considerate persons, engaged in whale or seal-fishery, both goats and pigs have been left upon smaller islands near West Falkland. These animals have multiplied exceedingly; and, although they have been killed indiscriminately by the crews of vessels, as well as by the settlers, there are still many thousand head of cattle, and some thousand horses, besides droves of pigs, perfectly wild, upon the eastern large island: while upon Carcass Island, Saunders Island, and others, there are numbers of goats and pigs. In 1834, the smallest estimate exceeded twelve thousand cattle, and four thousand horses; but there were no means of ascertaining their number, except by comparing the accounts of the gaucho colonists, who were accustomed to pursue them, not only for ordinary food or for their hides, but even for their tongues alone, not taking the trouble to carry off more of the animal so wantonly slaughtered.* The wild cattle are very large and very fat, and the bulls are really formidable animals, perhaps among the largest and most savage of their race. At Buenos Ayres, the ordinary weight of a bull's hide is less than fifty pounds, but the weight of such hides in the East Falkland has exceeded eighty pounds. The horses look well while galloping about wild, but the gauchos say they are not of a good breed, and will not bear the fatigue of an ordinary day's work, such as a horse at Buenos Ayres will go through without difficulty. Perhaps their ‘softness,’ as it is there called, may be owing to the food they get, as well as to the breed. The wild pigs on East Falkland are of a long-legged, ugly kind; but some of those on Saunders Island and other places about West Falkland are derived from short-legged Chinese pigs. The only quadruped apparently indigenous is a large fox, and as about this animal there has been much discussion among naturalists, and the specimens now in the British Museum were deposited there by me, I am induced to make a few remarks upon it.

* “The settlers, when they abandoned the eastern island, left behind them several horses and horned cattle, which have increased so much, that, on going a few miles into the country, droves of both animals may be seen, I have taken several of the bullocks by shooting them. They are generally ferocious, and will attack a single person; and thus, those who hunt them are enabled to get within pistol-shot of them by the following stratagem. Four or five men advance in a line upon the animal, and, by appearing only as one person, it stands ready to attack, till within one hundred yards, when the hunters spread themselves, and fire, endeavouring to shoot the bullock either in the head or in the fore-shoulder. The horses will also attack a single person, and their mode of doing so is by forming a circle round him, and prancing upon him; but by means of a musquet they may be readily dispersed.”—Weddell's Voyage, pp. 102, 103.

It has been said, that there are two varieties of this ‘wolf-fox,’ as it has been called,* one being rather the smaller, and of a redder brown; but the fact is, that no other difference exists between the two apparent varieties, and as the darker coloured larger animal is found on the East Falkland, while the other is confined to the western island, the darker colour and rather thicker furry coat may be attributed to the influence of a somewhat colder climate. The fox of West Falkland approaches nearer the large fox of Patagonia, both in colour and size, than its companion of East Falkland does; but allowing that there is one shade of difference between the foxes of East and West Falkland, there are but two, or at most three shades between the animal of West Falkland and the large fox of Port Famine. In Strong's voyage (1690), Simson describes these foxes as being twice as large as an English fox, but he does not say upon which island.†

* “Le loup-renard, ainsi nommé parce qu'il se creuse un terrier, et que sa queue est plus longue et plus fournie de poil que celle du loup, habite dans les dunes sur le bord de la mer. Il suit le gibier et se fait des routes avec intelligence, toujours par le plus court chemin d'une baie à l'autre; à notre premiere descente à terre, nous ne doutâmes point que ce ne fussent des sentiers d'habitans. Il y a apparence que cet animal jeûne une partie de l'année, tant il est maigre et rare. Il est de lataille d'un chien ordinaire dont il a aussi l'aboiement, mais foible. Comment a-t-il été transporté sur les îles?”—Voyage de Bougainville, seconde edition, tome i. p. 113.

† “They saw foxes on this land, which, Simson says, ‘were twice as big; as those in England. Having brought greyhounds with us, we caught a young fox alive, which we kept on board some months, but on the first firing our great guns in the South Sea, he was frighted overboard, as were also some St. Jago monkies. As to the antiquity of these foxes, as they cannot fly, and it is not likely they should swim so far as from America, nor again is it probable that any would be at the pains of bringing a breed of foxes so far as Hawkins' Island is from any other land, it will follow that there have either been two distinct creations, or that America and this land have been formerly the same continent.’ There are means more within the common course of nature than those which occurred to Simson, by which foxes may have become inhabitants of this land. Islands of ice are met at sea in much lower southern latitudes, many of which, no doubt, are formed in the bays and rivers of the continent. Seals and sea-birds repose on the edge of the shore, whether it is ice or land, and foxes, or other animals, in search of prey, will frequently be carried away on the large pieces of ice which break off and are driven out to sea.”—Barney, vol. iv, pp. 331-332.

All who have seen these animals alive have been struck by their eager ferocity and disregard of man's power. Byron says, “Four creatures of great fierceness, resembling wolves, ran up to their bellies in the water to attack the boat!” also, “When any of these creatures got sight of our people, though at ever so great a distance, they ran directly at them.”— “They were always called wolves by the ship's company; but except in their size and the shape of the tail, I think they bore a greater resemblance to a fox. They are as big as a middle-sized mastiff, and their fangs are remarkably long and sharp.” “They burrow in the ground, like a fox.” The Beagle's officers, when employed in surveying the Falklands, were often annoyed, as well as amused, by the intrusion of these fearless animals. In size, the larger ones are about twice as bulky as an English fox, and they stand nearly twice as high upon their legs.* Their heads are coarser, and their fur is not only thicker as well as longer, but it is of a woolly nature.

* The country they range over being open, without trees, does not require them to steal along under branches, like the foxes of a woody country.

Referring again to a resemblance between the Falkland and Patagonian foxes, I may remark, that there is as much difference in size, in coat, and in tail, between the guanaco of Port Desire and that of Navarin Island (near Cape Horn), as there is between the fox of West Falkland and that of Port Famine. What the Patagonian animal is which the Blanco Bay people called ‘wolf,’* or to which Pigafetta alluded in his vocabulary of words used by the Patagonians at Port San Julian, as equivalent to ‘ani,’† I cannot say: I was inclined to suspect an equivoque arising out of the word ‘lobo,’ which means seal as well as wolf; but Lieut. Wickham says he saw a wolf near the Colorado River.‡ The Falkland foxes feed upon birds, rabbits, rats and mice, eggs, seals, &c., and to their habits of attacking king-penguins, if not seal, while alive, I presume that a part of their unhesitating approach to man may be traced.

* Page 107 of this volume.

† Burney, vol. i. p. 37.

Page 296.

Naturalists say that these foxes are peculiar to this archipelago, and they find difficulty in accounting for their presence in that quarter only.* That they are now peculiar cannot be doubted; but how long they have been so is a very different question. As I know that three hairy sheep, brought to England from Sierra Leone in Africa, became woolly in a few years, and that woolly sheep soon become hairy in a hot country (besides that their outward form alters considerably after a few generations); and as I have both seen and heard of wild cats, known to have been born in a domestic state, whose size surpassed that of their parents so much as to be remarkable; whose coats had become long and rough; and whose physiognomies were quite difterent from those of their race who were still domestic; I can see nothing extraordinary in foxes carried from Tierra del Fuego to Falkland Island becoming: longer-legged, more bulky, and differently coated. But how were they carried there? In this manner:—In page 242, the current was mentioned which always sets from Staten Land towards the southern shores of the Falklands—icebergs or trees by that current and westerly winds afford the means of transport; and I appeal to the quotations already made from Forster's and Bougainville's works for proof that animals may be so carried.

* Forster, as an exception, saw no difficulty in accounting for their involuntary migration. “M. Forster, Anglais, de la Societe Royale, qui a fait a cet ouvrage I'honneur de le traduire, a accompagne sa traduction de plusieurs notes.”—“Je dois dire que toutes ses notes ne sontpas egalenient justes; par exemple, dans le chapftre de l'Histoire Naturelle des Iles Malouines, il est surpris de ce que je le suis d'avoir trouve sur ces îles un animal quadrupède, et de mon embarras sur la manifere dont il a ete transporte. Il ajoute qu'ayant passé comme je l'ai fait plusieurs annees en Canada, j'aurois dût savoir que des quadrupèdes terrestres se trouvant sur de grandes glaces au moment où elles sont d6tachees des terres, sont emportees a la haute mer, et abordent a des côtes fort eloignees de leur pays natal, sur lesquelles ces masses de glace viennent echouer. Je sais ce fait; mais M. Forster ne sait pas que jamais les voyageurs n'ont rencontre de glaces flottantes dans les environs des fles Malouines, etque dans ces contrees il ne s'y en peut pas former, n'y ayant ni grand fleuve ni meme aucune riviere un peu considerable.[”]— Voyage de Bougainville, seconde edition, tom. i. pp. xiv. et xv. (note).

Because we do not know that there are foxes at this time upon Staten Land, it does not follow that there are none, or that they have never been there; and as guanacoes, pumas, and foxes are now found on Eastern Tierra del Fuego, why might not foxes have been carried to Staten Land and thence to the Falklands, or, which is still more probable, drifted from Eastern Tierra del Fuego direct. I have heard somewhere, though I cannot recollect the authority, that a man in North America hauled a large old tree to the bank of a river in which it was floating towards the sea, and proceeded to secure it on the bank, when to his astonishment, out of a hole in the tree jumped a fine fox. Clusters of trees are often found floating, which have fallen off a cliff, or have been carried out of a river; and once in the ocean, they are drifted along partly by currents and partly by wind acting upon their branches or exposed surfaces.

Rats and mice were probably taken to the Falklands by the earlier navigators who landed there, whose ships were often plagued with their numbers.* That they have varied from the original stock in sharpness of nose, length of tail, colour, or size, is to be expected, because we find that every animal varies more or less in outward form and appearance, in consequence of altered climate, food, or habits; and that when a certain change, whatever it may be, is once effected, the race no longer varies while under similar circumstances; but to fancy that every kind of mouse which differs externally from the mouse of another country is a distinct species, is to me as difficult to believe as that every variety of dog and every variety of the human race constitute a distinct species. I think that naturalists who assert the contrary are bound to examine the comparative anatomy of all these varieties more fully, and to tell us how far they differ. My own opinion is, judging from what I have gathered on the subject from various sources, that their anatomical arrangement is as uniformly similar as that of the dogs and of the varieties of man.

* In Viedma's Diary of an Expedition to Port San Julian in 1780, he says, “El Bergantin San Francisco de Paula entrò en el riachuelo para descargarlo y dar humazo a las ratas.” (The brig San Francisco de Paulo went into the creek to be unloaded and smoked, to kill the rats (or mice, ratas signifying either). In Magalhaens' voyage (1520) “Juan (a Patagonian) seeing the Spaniards throwing mice into the sea, desired he might have them for food; and those that were afterwards taken being given to him, he carried them on shore.”—Burney, vol. i. p. 34. Perhaps some of those mice reached land alive, as the ships lay close to the shore. Many other vessels, however, afterwards staid some time in Port San Julian, particularly those of Drake.

On East Falkland there are numbers of rabbits, whose stock is derived from those carried there by Bougainville or the Spaniards. Among them were some black ones (when I was there), which had been pronounced indigenous, or, at all events, not brought from Europe. A specimen of these pseudo-indigenous animals has been carefully examined by those to whom a new species is a treasure, but it turns out to be a common rabbit.

Sea-elephant and seal (both hair and fur-seal) were abundant along the shores of the archipelago in former years, and by management they might soon be encouraged to frequent them again;* but now they are annually becoming scarcer, and if means are not taken to prevent indiscriminate slaughter, at any time of year, one of the most profitable sources of revenue at the Falklands will be destroyed.

* On the little island ‘Lobos,’ in the river Plata, passed and therefore to a certain degree disturbed daily by shipping, seals are numerous; being preserved like game, and destroyed only at intervals.

Whales frequent the surrounding waters at particular seasons, and they are still to be found along the coasts of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego (within easy reach from the Falklands), though their numbers are very much diminished by the annual attacks of so many whale-ships, both large and small, which have made the Falklands their head-quarters during the last twenty years.

A valuable source of daily supply, and by salting, of foreign export, is the inexhaustible quantity of fish which swarm in every harbour during the summer. The description which most abounds is a kind of bass, from two to three feet long, and six inches in depth: it takes salt well, and has been exported by cargoes to the river Plata* and to Rio de Janeiro; and there are delicious small fish in such shoals, that our boats' crews were sometimes obliged to let a large portion escape from the net before they could haul it ashore without tearing.†

* Where fish, though plentiful, does not take salt well.

† Many tons have been taken at a haul.

Mr. Vernet said, “We have a great abundance of fish in all the bays, where they come at the beginning of spring to spawn. In the winter season they retire. They enter regularly twice in the twenty-four hours, at about half-flood. They are caught in such numbers, that ten or twelve men salted about sixty tons in less than a month. Generally, they are caught with a net, but they will also take the hook; they are of a species between the mullet and the salmon, and become very fat towards the end of the summer. They are very good eating, and when salted, some prefer them to the cod-fish.”—Vernet, MS. 1831. In the fresh-water ponds, so numerous on the large islands, there is a very delicate fish, somewhat resembling a trout, which may be caught by angling. The shell-fish are chiefly muscles and clams, both of which are very abundant, and easily gathered at low water.

It may here be remarked that the cod-fishery off Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego might be turned to very good account by settlers at the Falklands.

Of the feathered tribe there are numbers, but not much variety has been found—a natural consequence of the absence of trees. Three or four kinds of geese,* two kinds of snipe, several varieties of the duck, occasionally wild swans of two kinds, a sort of quail (like that of Tierra del Fuego), carrion-hawks or vultures, albatrosses, gulls, petrel, penguins, sea-hens, shags, rooks, curlew, sandpipers, rock-hoppers, and a very few land-birds, are found about most of the islands.†

* One kind of goose, that which has erroneously been called a bustard, arrives in a tame condition, about April or May, with easterly winds. Perhaps these birds come from Sandwich Land, or even Enderby Land. Their tameness may be a consequence of being ignorant of man, or of the half-tired state in which they arrive.

† Birds' eggs are so numerous at the proper season, that “eight men gathered at one place alone, in four or five days, upwards of sixty thousand eggs, and might have collected twice that number had they remained a few days longer.”—Vernet, MS. 1831.

Although there are no trees, a useful kind of brushwood grows abundantly in vallies, to the height of three or four feet, and thickly set together. Over level plains it is but thinly scattered. The settlers use this brushwood for lighting their peat-fires. There are three kinds of bushes: one grows straight, from two to five feet high, with a stem from half an inch to an inch and half in diameter: this kind is found abundantly in most of the vallies. Another is common about the southern parts of the islands, and has a crooked trunk, as thick as a man's arm, growing to about three feet in height. The third is smaller still, being little better than heather; it grows almost every where, though scantily.

Peat is inexhaustible; and, if properly managed, answers every common purpose of fuel, not only as a substitute, but pleasantly.* It will not, however, in its natural state, answer for a forge; but if dried and subjected to heavy pressure for some time before use, a much greater heat might be derived from it.

* “The want of wood on these islands would be a great inconvenience, were it not that good peat is very abundant. I have burned many tons, and found it an excellent substitute for coal. Tn order to get it dry, it is necessary to pull it from the sides of the pit, not very deep; and as there are several peat-holes, by working them alternately, the material may be procured in a state fit for use.”—Weddell's Voyage, p. 88.

There is but little difference in the quality of the grass, either on high or low land; but in sheltered valleys it is longer, softer, and greener, than elsewhere. The whole face of the country is covered with it; and in some places, especially over a peaty soil, its growth becomes hard and rank. In the southern half of East Falkland, whore, as I mentioned, the soil is good, there is abundance of long, but brownish grass over all the country, and at the roots of it there are sweet tender shoots, sheltered from the wind, much liked by cattle. In that district there are several varieties of grass growing on fine dark-coloured earth, mixed with light white sand; and, although, from never being cut, it has a rugged and brown appearance, its nutritive properties must be considerable, as the finest cattle are found feeding there. Mr. Bynoe remarked to me, that wherever the surface of the ground had been broken by cattle, he found a very dark-coloured earth mixed with sand or clay, or else clay mixed with gravel and sand. That the clay is good for bricks has been mentioned; but I have not said that there is stone of two or three kinds suitable for building, and that any quantity of lime may be obtained by burning fossil shells brought from the coast of Patagonia, where the cliffs are full of them, or by collecting the shells scattered upon the Falkland shores. Another natural production, of more value than it has hitherto been considered, is the common sea-weed or kelp; * and I am told by Sir Woodbine Parish that the archil or orchilla weed was obtained there by the Spaniards.

* The manner of extracting potash from sea-weed is as follows:—When a sufficient quantity of kelp has heen collected, it is spread out in a place where it will be dried by the sun and wind, and when dry enough to burn, a hollow is dug in the ground three or four feet wide; round its margin are laid stones, on which the weed is placed and set on fire. Quantities of this fuel being continually heaped upon the circle, there is in the centre a constant flame, from which a liquid substance, like melted metal, drops into the hollow beneath. This substance is worked, or stirred, with iron rakes, and brought to an uniform consistence while in a state of fusion; and when cool, it consolidates into a heavy, dark-coloured alkaline substance, which undergoes in the glass-houses a second vitrification, and then assumes a perfect transparency.

It is to be remarked, that the soil of East Falkland has been very much improved in the neighbourhood of the settlement, as well as around the estancia, or farm, where the tame cattle are kept, in consequence of the treading and manuring it has received. The grass is there as short and as sweet as horses could desire; and does not this show, that by folding, on a large scale, any extent of pasture land might, by degrees, be brought to a similar condition? Why sheep have not been carried there in greater numbers I am not aware, but judging from the climate, and the fur of the foxes, I should suppose that the long-wooUed sheep would do well, and perhaps improve the staple of its wool, as the merino sheep has done in an opposite manner—by transportation to Australia. Pigs have increased in great numbers on the small islands, where their young are safer from the foxes, and where there is abundance of the sedgy grass called tussac, the roots and stalks of which are much liked by them.

The size and fatness of the wild cattle is a clear proof that the country is adapted for grazing. Of twenty wild bulls which were killed during one excursion of the settlers, shortly before the Beagle's arrival, the average weight of each hide was above seventy, and a few weighed eighty pounds. Some of these animals are so fat and heavy, that the gauchos say they cannot drive them across the marshy grounds which are passed by the other cattle, as well as by men on horseback. It has been also ascertained that meat takes salt remarkably well in that climate; and as salt of excellent quality, as well as saltpetre, abounds on the coast of Patagonia, there is no reason why large quantities of salt meat and salt fish should not be prepared there, and exported to the Brazils, to the East, to Chile, and Peru, besides supplying a number of the ships which would touch there.

But there are alleged disadvantages to contend against, which must not be overlooked for a moment. It is very doubtful whether corn will ripen. Fruit, which requires much sun, certainly will not, and culinary vegetables have been said to run to stalk and become watery. Nevertheless, Mr. Brisbane assured me that wheat had been tried in Vernet's garden, and that there it grew well, producing a full ear and large grain. The garden was small, slightly manured, and defended from wind by high turf fences. Potatoes, he said, grew large, though watery; but it was easy to see that justice had not been done to them, whole potatoes having been put into holes and left to take their chance, upon a soil by no means so suitable for them as might have been found. Planted even in this rough way, Mr. Bynoe collected three pounds weight of potatoes from one root. By proper management, I think that they, as well as turnips, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, and other esculent plants, might be brought to great perfection, particularly on sheltered banks sloping towards the north-east. The turnips which I saw and tasted were large and well-flavoured: the largest seen there weighed eight povmds and a-half. Flax has been tried in a garden, and succeeded. Mr. Bynoe saw some of it. Hemp has never yet been tried. Currant bushes (ribes antartica) have been transported from Tierra del Fuego, and tried near the settlement, but their fruit did not ripen properly. It ought, however, to be remembered that those currants are wild, a bad sort of black currant, and that when ripe in Tierra del Fuego they are scarcely eatable.

We read in Bougainville and Wallis, that thousands of young trees were taken up by the roots in the Strait of Magalhaens, and carried to the Falkland Islands; but no traces of them are now visible either at Port Egmont or Port Louis. Perhaps they were taken out of their native soil at an improper period, exposed to frost or salt water, while their roots were uncovered, and afterwards planted by men who knew more of the main brace than of gardening. Bougainville, however, had industrious ‘families Acadiennes’ with him, under whose care the young trees ought to have fared better than under the charge of Wallis's boatswain. Mr. Brisbane told me that he had brought over some young trees from Tierra del Fuego for Mr. Vernet; that some had died, but others (which he showed me) were growing well in his garden. From the opinions I have collected on the subject, and from what has been effiected on waste lands, downs, and exposed hills in England and Scotland, by planting thousands at once instead of tens, I have no doubt whatever that trees may be grown upon either Falkland, and that the more are planted the better they would grow—assisting and sheltering each other. At first, young plants or trees should have banks of earth raised near them, to break the fury of south-west storms, and the most sheltered situations, with a north-east aspect, should be chosen for a beginning.

Anti-scorbutic plants are plentiful in a wild state, such as celery, scurvy-grass, sorrel, &c.; there are also cranberries,* and what the settlers call strawberries, a small red fruit, growing like the strawberry, but in appearance and taste more like a half-ripe blackberry. I must not omit the ‘tea-plant,’ made from which I have drank many cups of good tea,† and the settlers use it frequently. It has a peculiar effect at first upon some people, which is of no consequence, and soon goes off.‡ This little plant grows like a heath in many parts of the Falklands as well as in Tierra del Fuego, and has long been known and used by sealers.^ The large round gum plant (Hydrocelice gummifere), common in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, is abundantly found, and, when dried, is useful for kindling fires, being extremely combustible. The gum which exudes from its stalks when cut or broken, is called by the settlers ‘balsam,’ and they use it quite fresh for wounds; at the least it answers the purpose of sticking-plaister. In summer it may be collected in considerable quantities, without injuring the plants, as it then oozes out spontaneously; even while green, the whole plant is very inflammable. The gauchos, when in the interior of the islands, tear it asunder, set it on fire, and roast their beef before it.

* One reason for the arrival of flights of geese during April and May may be, that the cranberries are then ripe, of which they are very fond.

† At my own table I have seen it drank by the officers without their detecting the difference: yet the only tea I used at other times was the best that could be obtained at Rio de Janeiro.

‡ U———m ciens.

^ It produces a small berry, of very pleasant taste, which when ripe is eaten as fruit.

Within the stems of the tall sedgy grass, called tussac, is a white sweetish substance, something like the kernel of an unripe nut; this is often eaten by the settlers, and is so much relished by cattle, horses, and pigs, that the plant itself is greatly diminished in quantity, and now can only be found in its former luxuriance upon islands where cattle or hogs have not access. These flags or rushes are more than six feet high; they make good thatch and a soft bed. There is a shrub, or rather creeper, of which the French made a kind of beer, thought to be wholesome and anti-scorbutic; and there are other vegetable productions which are of little consequence, perhaps, except to botanists,* and as most of them were long ago well described by Bougainville, I may beg the reader to refer to his fourth chapter (Détails sur l'histoire naturelle des Iles Malouines) for a very faithful and well-written account, to every statement in which, as far as my own knowledge goes, I can bear testimony.

* “On a spot, twelve feet square, chosen indiscriminately on the rising grounds in the interior, twenty-seven different plants were counted.”—(Vernet, MS.)

Having mentioned the principal productions, it remains to say what more may be effected and what improvements may be made by an industrious colony. Land, which is now in a state of nature, might be surprisingly improved by ploughing and manuring with burned peat or with kelp, which is so abundant on every part of the shore. Walls, or rather mounds of turf, a few feet in height, would assist the slopes of the ground in sheltering cultivated soil from south-west winds, and where stones, as well as turf, are so plentiful, it would be worth while to make a number of small enclosures for fields as well as gardens, taking care always to select the sides of hills, or rather sloping grounds which incline towards the north-east. Fresh water being abundant everywhere, and the islands being so much cut into by the sea, that water carriage could be obtained to within a very few miles of any place, there can be no great preference for one locality rather than another, with a view to agriculture alone; but of course the principal settlement must be near the eastern extremity of the archipelago, because that part is most accessible to shipping, and even now frequently visited.

A colony planted near Port William, or at Port Louis, with a small establishment to supply the wants of shipping at Port William, could not fail to prosper, if a free port were offered there to ships of all nations. Homeward-bound ships from our rapidly growing colonies in Australia, as well as those from Mexico, Peru, and Chile, are often in want of a port to which they can resort about the middle of their voyage. The River Plata is out of the way and dangerous; Santa Catharina is almost as much out of reach, and deficient in many articles of supply; Rio de Janeiro and Bahia are also out of the line and very expensive, though they are often resorted to; St. Helena is too far east, scantily supplied, and more expensive than the Brazils. But almost every one of those ships ‘sight’ the eastern end of the Falklands as they pass by, to correct or verify their longitude, and how very little delay then would they experience, if the course were shaped so as to pass a little nearer Port William, and there heave to under the lee of the land, or let go an anchor, as might be most suitable. Water and fresh provisions might be speedily procured, at a price now moderate, and if a colony were once well organized, in a short time as low as in any part of the world. A few small vessels should be attached to the colony, and two small men of war, one of which should be always about the chief harbour, and the other visiting the various ports of the archipelago. I have alluded more than once to the fact of excellent fresh water being plentiful every where, and I may here add, that if a sailing tank-vessel were kept at Port William in readiness to supply ships without delay, that one convenience only, when generally known, would ensure the visits of almost every Australian and Mexican trader, besides many others. No one making a long voyage hesitates to take in an additional supply of good water during his passage, if he can do so without delay (of consequence) and without danger. It is the natural unwillingness to get in with the land—to be delayed in port—to pay heavy port dues, and to risk losing men—that generally induces seamen in command of vessels to avoid every port excepting that to which they are bound; but if you could ensure to a ship loading at Sydney a safe ‘half-way house’ at the Falklands, she would hardly prefer carrying a quantity of water, no longer necessary, to the proportion of cargo that might be stowed in its place.

Local circumstances, such as the relative position of the land, the set of the tides and currents, the prevailing winds, and the accessibility of Port William or Berkeley Sound, contribute to make the easternmost part of the Falklands safer and more easy to approach than almost any place that I am acquainted with.

With the supply of shipping, and the establishment of a frequented free port in view, as the first source of prosperity, colonists should augment the number of animals, birds, and vegetables, which they see thrive so well there, and take little thought about corn, except for home consumption (unless indeed oats should be found to grow well). They should assiduously increase their stock of cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry, make butter and cheese, rear calves, and breed horses; they should salt meat and fish; bring wood and lime from Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia, and turn their thoughts to supplying ships with water, fuel (perhaps dried peat), and provisions, in the quickest and cheapest manner. Hides, pig-skins, goat-skins, sheep-skins, wool, foxes' fur, rabbit-skins, bird-skins and down, horns, salt meat, salt butter, cheese, potash, orchilla weed, potatoes, salt-fish, seal-skins, seal-oil, whale-oil, and whale-bone, would form no indifferent return cargo for vessels carrying there implements of husbandry, stores of various kinds, flour and biscuit, clothing, lumber, furniture, crockery-ware, glass, cutlery, and household utensils. North American vessels, laden with flour or lumber, might make very profitable voyages.

I have always thought the Falklands an admirable place for a penal establishment, a thorough convict colony. A healthy, temperate climate, far removed from civilized countries, and (if used for such a purpose only) incapable of being injured by the presence of bad characters, as our mixed settlements have been—fully supplied with necessaries, yet without any luxuries—sufficiently extensive to maintain a large population, though small enough to be kept under the strictest martial law, and inspected every where, by water as well as by land—it seems to me the very best situation for locating those bad characters who are unfit to remain at home. But to whomsoever it may happen to colonize these islands, there can be no doubt that industry will be well rewarded, that health, safety, and a frequent communication with the mother country, will be as certain as in any other colony, and that the only drawbacks to be anticipated are those likely to be caused by wind and deficiency of solar heat.

Animals increase rapidly, and the quality of their hides or fur improves. Cows give a large quantity of excellent milk, from which good butter and cheese may be made. Not long since, a letter was received from the Hon. George Grey, Captain of H.M.S. Cleopatra, in which he said that the milk and butter at Howick was not superior to that which he tasted at the Falklands. In the event of steamers engaging in the navigation of those seas,* a port of supply and repair, in short, a maritime depot would be required, in or near Tierra del Fuego; but no such establishment could easily be formed there without a military force, and occasional hostilities with the natives, whereas, at the Falklands, the only native opponents would be foxes, horses, and bulls.† This immense advantage over most habitable and fertile countries—the having no aboriginal population—should be duly considered by those who may contemplate planting a colony there. Weddell says, “A settlement at this point of the South Atlantic would evidently afford great facilities to navigation. The extensive tracts of ground, well clothed with grass, and the quantity of fine cattle running wild on the island, are sufficient proofs of its being a country that might be settled to advantage. The winters are mild, the temperature being seldom so low as the freezing point. Several of my crew, indeed, went without stockings during the greater part of the winters we spent there. The south wind, however, is cold and stormy, but it is not frequent; the prevailing winds are between S.W. and N.W., which, blowing from the coast of Patagonia, are comfortably temperate. This climate appears to be in general much more temperate now than it was forty years ago, the cause of which may probably be, that immense bodies of ice were then annually found in the latitude: of 50°; this ice, between the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, would necessarily lower the temperature of both air and water, and consequently an unfavourable opinion of the climate was produced.”—Weddell's Voyage, pages 94-95.

* From Concepcion (37° S. ) § to Elizabeth Island, near the eastern entrance of Magalhaens Strait, there is every where abundance of wood fuel for steamers.

§ Although there is now no location known as Concepción at 37° S., the name has been added to the above Google Earth 3D view, according to FitzRoy's latitude.

† It is very dangerous for persons on foot to approach the wild horses or cattle, especially the bulls, unless they are armed with rifles or balls (bolas); and even then, no one ought to venture alone.

For much of the produce of the islands, such as salt-meat and fish, potatoes, oil, butter, cheese, tallow, &c. a ready market would always be found on the coasts of South America, while other articles, previously mentioned, would have a free sale in Europe and North America. Should any accident happen to a vessel in doubling Cape Horn, obliging her to make for the nearest port at which she can obtain supplies, where can she now go? To the River Plata on one side, or to Chilóe on the other—either of which is twelve hundred miles from Cape Horn!

A great temptation to shipping would be, the certainty of supplies, and freedom from harbour dues as well as pilotage. Twenty years after the first establishment of a colony would be quite soon enough to think of any port charges, and till that time, every encouragement ought to be given to vessels, by piloting them gratis, and charging for nothing but the supplies which they may choose to purchase, and for those, upon the lowest possible terms. As to pilotage, indeed, I may say that none is required, if a stranger has the chart now published by the Admiralty, for there is no danger in any of the Falkland harbours that is not distinctly buoyed by kelp. A few rocks in the offing are indeed to be guarded against, such as the Uranie Rock, and those near the Jason Isles; but a ship must have passed all those before a pilot could board her, under ordinary circumstances, and afterwards there would be no danger, if a vigilant look-out and common skill were exercised.

Berkeley Sound (besides many other ports) would contain a large fleet in security, while around it are coves and basins in which any repairs might be carried on.

Probably some intercourse might be opened with the Patagonians, and, by them, with other roving tribes on the continent, who would exchange guanacoes, horses, cattle, poultry, hides, horns, tallow, and hair, for hardware, clothing, cutlery, ornaments, saddles, spurs, bridles, &c.; and as the guanaco is so warmly clothed in the high southern latitudes, and is capable of being domesticated,* it might be found a valuable animal to encourage among sheep and cattle at the Falklands.

* “Magalhaens, in his voyage, saw Patagonians who had with them four young guanacoes, led about with a kind of halter.”—Burney, vol. i. p.34, anno 1520.—And others on which they placed their wives. Pennant. At Mocha the natives had tame guanacoes, or alpacoes, in 1598. In Peru, the llama has been a domestic animal as long as we have any record.

Mr. Brisbane told me, that some wool, sent by Mr. Vernet from East Falkland to Liverpool, sold for nearly double the price of Buenos Ayres wool; and this was the produce of sheep which had only been a few years on the island, of the Buenos Ayrean stock, unmixed with any superior breed. To show how well the little colony, established by Mr. Vernet, was succeeding, prior to its harsh and unnecessary ruin by Captain Silas Duncan, I will give an extract of a letter received from a brother officer who visited Port Louis.

The settlement is situated half round a small cove, which has a narrow entrance from the sound; this entrance, in the time of the Spaniards, was commanded by two forts, both now lying in ruins, the only use made of one being to confine the wild cattle in its circular wall when newly brought in from the interior. The governor, Louis Vernet, received me with cordiality. He possesses much information, and speaks several languages. His house is long and low, of one story, with very thick walls of stone. I found in it a good libi-ary, of Spanish, German, and English works. A lively conversation passed at dinner, the party consisting of Mr. Vernet and his wife, Mr. Brisbane, and others; in the evening we had music and dancing. In the room was a grand piano-forte; Mrs. Vernet, a Buenos Ayrean lady, gave us some excellent singing, which sounded not a little strange at the Falkland Isles, where we expected to find only a few sealers.

Mr. Vernet's establishment consisted of about fifteen slaves, bought by him from the Buenos Ayrean Government, on the condition of teaching them some useful employment, and having their services for a certain number of years, after which they were to be freed. They seemed generally to be from fifteen to twenty years of age, and appeared contented and happy.

The total number of persons on the island consisted of about one hundred, including twenty-five gauchos and five indians. There were two Dutch families (the women of which milked the cows and made butter); two or three Englishmen; a German family; and the remainder were Spaniards and Portuguese, pretending to follow some trade, but doing little or nothing. The gauchos were chiefly Buenos Ayreans; but their capataz or leader was a Frenchman.

Such was the state of Vernet's settlement a few months before the Lexington's visit; and there was then every reason for the settlers to anticipate success, as they, poor deluded people, never dreamed of having no business there without having obtained the permission of the British Government. They thought, naturally enough, that the Buenos Ayrean Government could not have sold the islands to Mr. Vernet, unless the state of La Plata had a right to them; they believed that the purchase-money had been paid;* but they were not aware that the British Government had protested formally against the pretended claim of Buenos Ayres, so quiet was that fact kept by the Argentine Government, although the solemn protest was made by Mr. Parish, the British consul-general, in November 1829

* It is said that officers in the Buenos Ayrean army, relations of Mrs. Vernet, had claims upon their Government, which they agreed should be liquidated by receiving certain sums of money from Mr. Vernet; in consideration of which the Government made over to him their pretended right of property in the Falklands and Staten Laud.

However unjustifiably Mr. Vernet may, in fact, have behaved towards vessels belonging to the United States of North America, it must be remembered that he had a commission from the Buenos Ayrean Government, empowering him to act as civil and military governor of the Falklands; that he believed the Buenos Ayrean authority valid; and had no doubt in his own mind that he was doing right. Mr. Vernet, therefore, was no robber—no pirate—as he was termed by Captain Duncan, because he tried to uphold his situation, and prevent his settlement being robbed by people who had no claim whatever upon any of the islands. However wrong Vernet's actions may have been, he was responsible to his Government for them; and those who acted under his order, he having a legal commission, certainly did not deserve to be seized as pirates, put into irons, and so carried to the Plata! Neither was it just (setting mercy quite aside) to destroy the infant colony, break open or tear down doors and windows, search houses, drawers, and chests, trample over gardens, break through fences, and ill-use the helpless, unarmed settlers to such a degree, that for many months afterwards whenever a man-of-war was seen approaching, the frightened inhabitants at once fled to the interior, not knowing how they might be treated. Poor Brisbane (of whom frequent mention has already been made, and of whom I have yet to speak), was taken, with others, in irons to Monte Video, where the British consul obtained his release; he had joined Vernet in a contract to take seal upon the Falklands, and was left in charge of the settlement at the period of Captain Duncan's hostility. At that time Vernet himself was absent, having gone with his family to Buenos Ayres, in order that he might attend at the ensuing trial of those sealing vessels which had been detained by him for repeatedly taking seal upon the Falkland Islands, after he had duly warned them off.

I have heard much of Mr. Vernet and his proceedings, from various quarters—from enemies as well as friends—and although I never met him, and therefore cannot be partial from friendship, I do sincerely pity his misfortunes; and it is my belief that he has been much misrepresented.


CHAPTER XIII

Anchor in Berkeley Sound—Le Magellan—British flag hoisted—Ruined Settlement—Mr. Hellyer drowned—Burial—French Whalers—Unicorn—Adventure—Squall—Flashes—Fossils—Killing Wild Cattle—Sail from Falklands—River Negro—Maldonado—Constitucion—Heave down, copper, and refit Adventure—Signs of weather—Sound banks—Los Cesares—Settle with Harris, and part company—Blanco Bay—Return to Maldonado—Monte Video

March 1. The Beagle anchored at the south side of Berkeley Sound (near the beach where Freycinet was obliged to run Uranie ashore, in 1820, after striking on the detached rock off Volunteer Point), § and remained there till I had ascertained the state of affairs on shore: for seeing a French flag flying near some tents behind Johnson Cove or harbour, and knowing that, in 1831, the flag of Buenos Ayres was hoisted at a settlement in the sound, it was evident a change of some kind had occurred. Directly our anchor had dropped, a whale-boat belonging to the wrecked whale-ship, ‘Le Magellan,’ came alongside; and from her chief mate (who was also whaling-master), we learned that his ship had parted from her anchors during a tremendous squall on the night of the 12th of January, and was totally wrecked. He then informed me that the British colours had been hoisted on these islands by H.M.S. Clio; and that H.M.S. Tyne had since visited the port and saluted the flag; that the white flag was hoisted at the French tents only as a signal to us; and that he was sent by M. le Dilly, his captain, to entreat us to render them assistance. Two of our boats were forthwith manned; one was sent to the settlement at Port Louis, and in the other I went to the Frenchmen at Johnson Cove. I found them very comfortably established in large tents made from the sails of their lost ship; but they manifested extreme impatience to get away from the islands, even at the risk of abandoning the vessel and cargo. After due inquiry, I promised to carry as many of them as I could to Monte Video, and to interest myself in procuring a passage for the rest.

§ A repeat of FitzRoy's account of the Freycinet incident in Chapter X.

Their ship was lying upon a sandy beach, one bilge stove in, and her hold full of sand and water; but as there was no surf, and at high spring-tide the sea rose only to her deck, all the stores and provisions, if not the ship herself, might have been saved by energetic application of proper means soon after she was stranded. When I saw her it was not too late, but I had too many urgent duties to fulfil to admit of my helping those who would not help themselves. Returning on board, I met Mr. Chaffers, who had been to Port Louis, and heard that there was no constituted authority whatever resident on the islands, but that the British flag had been left by Captain Onslow in charge of an Irishman, who had been Mr. Vernet's storekeeper. This man at first declined answering Mr. Chaffers's questions, because his uniform buttons were (as he thought) different from those of the Tyne's officers; however, being a simple character, he soon became more loquacious than was wished. He told Mr. Chaffers that he was ordered to ‘hoist the flag up and down’ when vessels arrived, and every Sunday: that there was ‘plenty of beef,’ and as for rabbits and geese, only the ‘poor people eat them.’

2d. Weighed and shifted our berth to Johnson Cove. img src" src="KML/ICONS/wheel.png" alt="" title="Google Earth link" />

3d. We got on board all the new rope, bread, salt meat, and small stores, which the Frenchmen had saved and wished us to embark for the benefit of their owners. Meanwhile, surveying operations were begun, and an officer despatched to the settlement, who informed me of the arrival of a merchant schooner (Rapid), fourteen days from Buenos Ayres, with Mr. Brisbane on board (as Vernet's agent as well as partner), who was delighted to meet our officer, finding in him one of those who helped to save his life when wrecked in the Saxe Cobourg in 1827.

No sooner had Mr. Brisbane landed than the master and crew of the Rapid hastened to make themselves drunk, as an indemnification for the fatigues of their exceedingly long and hazardous voyage: and in that state they were found by the Beagle's officer. Next morning Brisbane came on board with his papers, and I was quite satisfied with their tenor, and the explanation which he gave me of his business. Some misapprehension having since arisen about his being authorized by Vernet to act in his stead, I may here mention again (though no longer of any material consequence), that Brisbane's instructions from Vernet authorized him to act as his private agent only, to look after the remains of his private property, and that they had not the slightest reference to civil or military authority. This settled, I went to Port Louis, but was indeed disappointed. Instead of the cheerful little village I once anticipated finding—a few half-ruined stone cottages; some straggling huts built of turf; two or three stove boats; some broken ground where gardens had been, and where a few cabbages or potatoes still grew; some sheep and goats; a few long-legged pigs; some horses and cows; with here and there a miserable-looking human being,—were scattered over the fore-ground of a view which had dark clouds, ragged-topped hills, and a wild waste of moorland to fill up the distance.

“How is this?” said I, in astonishment, to Mr. Brisbane; “I thought Mr. Vernet's colony was a thriving and happy settlement. Where are the inhabitants? the place seems deserted as well as ruined.” “Indeed, Sir, it was flourishing,” said he, “but the Lexington ruined it: Captain Duncan's men did such harm to the houses and gardens. I was myself treated as a pirate—rowed stern foremost on board the Lexington—abused on her quarter-deck most violently by Captain Duncan—treated by him more like a wild beast than a human being—and from that time guarded as a felon, until I was released by order of Commodore Rogers.” “But,” I said, “where are the rest of the settlers? I see but half a dozen, of whom two are old black women; where are the gauchos who kill the cattle?” “Sir, they are all in the country. They have been so much alarmed by what has occurred, and they dread the appearance of a ship of war so much, that they keep out of the way till they know what she is going to do.” I afterwards interrogated an old German, while Brisbane was out of sight, and after him a young native of Buenos Ayres, who both corroborated Brisbane's account.*

* The German told me, among other things, that he had collected rabbit-skins at his leisure hours, and had made, at different times, above two hundred dollars by them.

At my return on board, I was shocked by the sad information that Mr. Hellyer was drowned. He had walked about a mile along the shore of a creek near the ship, with one of the Frenchmen, who then left him * (having recollected that he would be wanted for a particular purpose). Mr. Hellyer, anxious to shoot some ducks of a kind he had not before seen, walked on with his gun, saying he would return in half an hour.

* It was a positive order on board the Beagle, that no one should make any excursion, in such places, alone.

About an hour after this, the capataz of the gauchos, Jean Simon by name, riding towards the French tents to learn the news, saw clothes, a gun, and a watch, lying by the water side; but, as no person was in sight, he thought they must have belonged to some one in the boats which were surveying, so rode on quietly; and not until another hour had elapsed, did he even casually mention to the Frenchmen what he had seen. They, of course, were instantly alarmed and hastened to the spot, with those of our party who were within reach. Some rode or ran along the shore, while others pulled in whale-boats to the fatal spot, and there, after much searching, the body was discovered under water, but so entangled by kelp that it could not be extricated without cutting away the weed. Mr. Bynoe was one of those who found it, and every means that he and the French surgeon could devise for restoring animation was tried in vain. A duck was found dead in the kelp not far from the body, and his gun was lying on the beach, discharged, with which the bird had been shot.

To me this was as severe a blow as to his own messmates; for Mr. Hellyer had been much with me, both as my clerk and because I liked his company, being a gentlemanly, sensible young man. I also felt that the motive which urged him to strip and swim after the bird he had shot, was probably a desire to get it for my collection. Being alone and finding the water cold, he may have become alarmed, then accidentally entangling his legs in the sea-weed, lost his presence of mind, and by struggling hastily was only more confused. The rising tide must have considerably augmented his distress, and hastened the fatal result.

5th. This day we buried the body of our lamented young friend, on a rising ground near Johnson Cove, in sight of our ship. All the French attended the melancholy ceremony, as well as all our own party, excepting the very few who were obliged to stay on board.

6th. An agreement was brought about, and witnessed by me, between M. le Dilly and the master of the Rapid schooner, by which the latter bound himself to convey to Monte Video those of the Magellan's crew whom the Beagle could not carry: and next day another French whaler arrived (the fourth we had lately seen), belonging to the owners of the Magellan, so there was no longer any want of help for M. le Dilly.

A few days afterwards a sealing schooner, the Unicorn, arrived, Mr. William Low being sealing master and part owner; and, although considered to be the most enterprizing and intelligent sealer on those shores, perhaps anywhere, the weather had been so much against him that he returned from his six months' cruise a ruined man, with an empty ship. All his means had been employed to forward the purchase and outfit of the fine vessel in which he sailed; but having had, as he assured me, a continued succession of gales during sixty-seven days, and, taking it altogether, the worst season he had known during twenty years' experience, he had been prevented from taking seal, and was ruined. Passengers with him were the master and crew of a North American sealing schooner, the Transport, wbich had been wrecked on the south-west coast of Tierra del Fuego, in Hope Harbour; and he told me of two other wrecks, all occasioned by the gale of January 12-13th.

At this time I had become more fully convinced than ever that the Beagle could not execute her allotted task before she, and those in her, would be so much in need of repair and rest, that the most interesting part of her voyage—the carrying a chain of meridian distances around the globe—must eventually be sacrificed to the tedious, although not less useful, details of coast surveying.

Our working ground lay so far from ports at which supplies could be obtained, that we were obliged to occupy whole months in making passages merely to get provisions, and then overload our little vessel to a most inconvenient degree, as may be supposed, when I say that eight months' provisions was our usual stock at starting, and that we sailed twice with ten months' supply on board.*

* Excepting water, of which we only carried six weeks.

I had often anxiously longed for a consort, adapted for carrying cargoes, rigged so as to be easily worked with few hands, and able to keep company with the Beagle; but when I saw the Unicorn, and heard how well she had behaved as a seaboat, my wish to purchase her was unconquerable. A fitter vessel I could hardly have met with, one hundred and seventy tons burthen, oak built, and copper fastened throughout, very roomy, a good sailer, extremely handy, and a first-rate seaboat; her only deficiencies were such as I could supply, namely, a few sheets of copper, and an outfit of canvas and rope. A few days elapsed, in which she was surveyed very carefully by Mr. May, and my mind fully made up, before I decided to buy her, and I then agreed to give six thousand dollars (nearly £1,300) for immediate possession. Being part owner, and authorized by the other owners to do as he thought best with the vessel in case of failure, Mr. Low sold her to me, payment to be made into his partners' hands at Monte Video. Some of his crew being ‘upon the lay,’ that is, having agreed to be paid for their work by a small proportion of the cargo obtained, preferred remaining at the Falklands to seek for employment in other vessels, others procured a passage in the Rapid, and a few were engaged by me to serve in their own vessel which, to keep up old associations, I named ‘Adventure.’ Mr. Chaffers and others immediately volunteered to go in her temporarily (for I intended to place Mr. Wickham in her if he should be willing to undertake the responsibility), and no time was lost in cleaning her out thoroughly, loading her with stores purchased by me from M. le Dilly and from Mr. Bray (lately master of the Transport), and despatching her to Maldonado, to be prepared for her future employment.

This schooner was built at Rochester as a yacht for Mr. Perkins, and, as I have reason to believe, cost at least six thousand pounds in building and first outfit. Soon afterwards, she was armed and used by Lord Cochrane in the Mediterranean; then she was fitted out by a merchant to break the blockade of Buenos Ayres; but, taken by a Brazilian man-of-war, and carried into Monte Video, she was condemned as a prize and sold to Mr. Hood, the British Consul, who went to England and back again in her with his family; after which, she was fitted out for the sealing expedition I have mentioned. At the time of my purchase she was in want of a thorough refit, and her internal arrangements required alteration; but it happened that Mr. Bray and M. le Dilly had each saved enough from their respective vessels to enable me to load the Adventure on the spot with all that she would require; from the former I bought anchors, cables, and other stores, amounting to £216: and from M. le Dilly rope, canvas, and small spars, for which £187 were paid. Those who were conversant in such matters, the master, boatswain, and carpenter of the Beagle, as well as others, assured me that these articles were thus obtained for less than a third of their market prices in frequented ports.

While the Beagle lay in Johnson Cove, we witnessed a memorable instance of the strength with which squalls sometimes sweep across the Falklands. Our ship was moored with a cable each way in a land-locked cove, not a mile across, and to the south-westward of her, three cables' length distant, was a point of land which, under ordinary circumstances, would have protected her from sea, if not from wind. Our largest boat, the yawl, was moored near our eastern anchor, with a long scope of small chain. At six in the evening of a stormy day (10th March), the wind increased suddenly from the strength of a fresh gale to that of a hurricane, and in a few minutes the Beagle brought both anchors ahead, and was pitching her forecastle into the sea. Topgallant-masts were on deck, and yards braced sharp up all day; but we were obliged to let go a third anchor, and even then had some anxiety for the result. Till this squall came, the water had been smooth, though of course covered with white crests (‘horses’); but it was then changed into a short sea, such as I should have been slow to believe wind could have raised in that confined cove. The yawl, an excellent sea-boat, and quite light, was swamped at her moorings; but I think that the chief cause of her filling was a quantity of kelp which drifted athwart hawse and hindered her rising easily to the sea.

During the month we remained in Berkeley Sound, I had much trouble with the crews of whaling or small sealing vessels, as well as with the settlers, who all seemed to fancy that because the British flag was re-hoisted on the Falklands, they were at liberty to do what they pleased with Mr. Vernet's private property, as well as with the wild cattle and horses. The gauchos wished to leave the place, and return to the Plata, but as they were the only useful labourers on the islands, in fact, the only people on whom any dependance could be placed for a regular supply of fresh beef, I interested myself as much as possible to induce them to remain, and with partial success, for seven staid out of twelve.

While walking the deck after dark, I sometimes saw flashes of light on the distant hills, which it was difficult to account for as ‘ignes fatui,’ [sic, ignis fatuus (see end of next paragraph] § because they were seen only on the heights, and momentarily, long intervals intervening between each faint flash. I once remarked similar instantaneous glimpses of feeble light, like the flashing of a distant pistol, near Pecket Harbour, in Magalhaens Strait, during a rainy night, but on the hills, at the south side of Berkeley Sound, I witnessed such lights repeatedly. They were never bright or lasting—merely a faint sudden glimmer—exactly as I have said, like the flash of a pistol, fired at a great distance. It has since occurred to me, that the phosphoric light spoken of by Bougainville in the following passage may be of a nature similar to that which I saw, and that those momentary flashes might have been caused by the occasional fall of stones among ravines, near the summits of hills.

§ “foolish fire” ie, ignited marsh gas. Also called will-o'-the wisp, as in the paragraph following Bougainville.

Des voyages entrepris jusqu' au sommet des montagnes (pour chercher des calcaires), n'en (de pierre) ont fait voir que d'une nature de quartz et de gres non friable, produisant des etincelles, et meme une lumiere phosphorique, accompagnee d'une odeur sulphureuse.”—(Bougainville, Voyage autour du Monde, 1766-69, tome I., p. 100).

The shattered state of most summits of mountains in these regions* has often struck me, many of them being mere heaps of rocks and stones, over which it is extremely difficult to climb. Mount Skyring may be cited as one remarkable instance; there, the stones gave out a very sulphureous smell when struck together, and were strongly magnetic.† Lightning, electricity, and magnetism being intimately related, one is led to think that, if the above conjecture is incorrect, there may be some connexion between these sudden glimpses of faint light and the transmission of the electric fluid. This much I am certain of, that they were not lights made by man, and that they were different from the will-o'-the-wisp, or ignis fatuus.

* Falklands and Tierra del Fuego.

† Vol.1., p. 382.

My own employment obliged me to remain near the ship, but some of the officers made excursions into the interior, and to them and Mr. Brisbane I am indebted for most of the following notices of these islands.

Some very large bones were seen a long way from the sea-shore, and some hundred feet above the level of high water, near St. Salvador Bay. § How they got there had often puzzled Mr. Vernet, and Brisbane also, who had examined them with attention; Brisbane told me they were whale's bones.* The rocky summits of all the hills are amazingly broken up, like those of far higher elevations in Tierra del Fuego, and the fragments—some very large—have rolled down the nearest ravines, so that they look like the beds of dried-up torrents. The sand-stone, which is abundant, offers beautifully perfect impressions of shells, many of which were brought to England. In these fossils the minutest portions of delicate shells are preserved, as in a plaster of Paris cast, though the stone is now very hard. There are fine stalactites in some large caverns, but they are known only to a few sealers. The large muscles produce pearls of considerable size, though inferior quality, perhaps; Mr. Brisbane had a small bottle full. In one of the cottages I saw a heap of good whalebone, and was informed that some hundred pounds worth had been picked up on the coasts, and sold to whalers for a tenth part of its European value, in exchange for clothes, spirits, ammunition, and biscuit. On West Falkland there are beautiful pebbles, and on the heights fine crystals have been found.

§ Port San Salvador in FitzRoy's Table of Positions.

* Bougainville says, “D'autres ossemens enormes, places bien avant dans les terres, et que la fureur des flots n'a jamais ete capable de porter si loin, prouventque la mer a baisse, ou que les terres se sont elevees.”—Vol. I., pp. 112-113.

Although the climate is so much colder than that of Buenos Ayres, the gauchos sleep in the open air, when in the interior, under their saddles, just as they do in the latitude of 35°. While idling at the settlement they gamble, quarrel, and fight with long knives, giving each other severe wounds. With their loose ponchos, slouched hats, long hair, dark complexions, and Indian eyes, they are characters fitter for the pencil of an artist than for the quiet hearth of an industrious settler. Besides these gauchos, we saw five Indians (p. 267), who had been taken by the Buenos Ayrean troops, or their allies, and allowed to leave prison on condition of going with Mr. Vernet to the Falklands. Including the crews of some thirty whale-ships, hovering about or at anchor among the islands; the men of several American vessels, all armed with rifles; the English sealers with their clubs, if not also provided with rifles; these cut-throat looking gauchos; the discontented, downcast Indian prisoners, and the crews of several French whalers—who could not or would not see why they had not as good a right to the islands as Englishmen—there was no lack of the elements of discord; and it was with a heavy heart and gloomy forebodings that I looked forward to the months which might elapse without the presence of a man-of-war, or the semblance of any regular authority.

Our tender, the Adventure, sailed on the 4th of April, under the charge of Mr. Chaffers, who was desired to call off the River Negro, and thence go to Maldonado, moor his vessel close to Gorriti Island, img src" src="KML/ICONS/wheel.png" alt="" title="Google Earth link" /> land every thing, and commence her thorough refit.

About this time one of the officers went to see some wild cattle taken. After riding far beyond the hills seen from Port Louis, a black speck was discerned in the distance—instantly the three gauchos stopped, adjusted their saddle-gear, lassoes, and balls, and then cantered off in different directions. While stopping, my shipmate saw that the black spot moved and doubled its size. Directly afterwards, he perceived five other black things, and taking it for granted they were cattle, asked no questions of his taciturn, though eager, companions, but watched their movements and galloped on with the capataz (Jean Simon), the other two making a detour round some hills. Having got down wind of the herd, Simon slackened his pace, and, lying along his horse's back, gradually ascended a slight eminence, beyond which the cattle were feeding. For a moment he stopped to look round:—there was a monstrous bull within a hundred yards of him; three hundred yards further, were about twenty cows; and in a valley beyond, was a large herd of wild cattle. Just then the heads of the other two men were seen a quarter of a mile on one side, also to leeward of the cattle, which were still feeding unsuspiciously. With a sudden dash onwards, such as those horses are trained to make, Simon was within twenty yards of the overgrown, but far from unwieldy brute, before he could ‘get way on.’ Whirling the balls around his head, Simon hurled them so truly at the bull's fore-legs, that down he came, with a blow that made the earth tremble, and rolled over and over. Away went Simon at full gallop after a fine cow; and at the same time, each of the other men were in full chase of their animals. The herd galloped off almost as fast as horses; but in a few moments, another bull was bellowing in impotent rage, and two cows were held tightly by lassoes—one being caught by Simon alone, and the other by his two companions. One of the men jumped off, and fastened his cow's legs together so securely, that she could only limp along a few inches at a time; his horse meanwhile keeping the second lasso tight, as effectually as if his master had been on his back. Both lassoes were then shaken off, and one thrown over Simon's cow, which had been trying in all kinds of ways to escape from or gore her active enemy, who—go which way she would—always kept the lasso tight; and often, by checking her suddenly, half overset and thoroughly frightened her. Leaving his horse as soon as the cow was secure, Simon hamstrung the bulls, and left them where they fell, roaring with pain and rage. He then remounted, and all four cantered back towards the ‘estancia’ (or farm), where the tame cattle are kept. Simon was asked to kill the poor brutes before he left them; but he shook his head, with a sneer, and remarked, that their hides would come off easier next day! At daybreak, the following morning, half-a-dozen tame cattle were driven out to the place of slaughter, and with them the frightened and already half-tamed cows (which had been left tied in a place where they had nothing to eat), were easily driven in to the farm. The two bulls were at last killed, skinned, cut up, and the best parts of their carcases carried to the settlement. The hides of those two animals weighed seventy-three and eighty-one pounds.

Speaking to Simon myself one day about the indiscriminate slaughter of cattle which I had heard took place occasionally, he told me that the gauchos used sometimes to kill them for their tongues only, and, perhaps, a steak or two, for ‘asado’ (meat roasted on a stick), without taking the trouble to skin them; being too great epicures in their way to feast twice upon the same animal.

In 1834, while surveying the sea-coast of these islands, in the Adventure, Lieutenant Wickham, Mr. Low, and Mr. Johnson had many a bull hunt; but though there was as much or more risk in their encounters, being on foot, with rifles, assisted only by a good dog, their adventures were individually rather than generally interesting. They used to land in unfrequented harbours, very near herds of wild cattle or horses, creep quietly along behind tussac or bushes, till they got within rifle-shot, take good aim at the fattest, and after firing, do their best to kill the animal, in general only wounded by a first shot. They had an excellent dog, who always seized the creatures by the lower lip, and diverted their attention from Mr. Johnson or Low, who otherwise might have lost their lives, on more than two occasions.

The report of a gun usually alarmed the whole herd of cows, and off they went at a gallop; but the lordly bulls were not to be hurried, they would stand and face their enemies, often charge them; when a precipitate retreat behind a rock, or to the boat, or across a boggy place, which the bull would not try, was the only resource, if their hardy dog was not by, to seize the angry animal, and give time for a well-directed shot. In those excursions, also, while ashore at night in small tents, the foxes used to plague them continually, poking their unpleasant heads into the opening of the tent (while the man on watch was by the fire), stealing their provisions, and breaking their rest, after a fatiguing day's work. What with the foxes, the wild bulls, and the wild horses, it is thoroughly unsafe for a person to walk alone about the unfrequented parts of the Falkland Islands—even with the best weapons for self-defence against either man or beast. Several unfortunate people have been missed there, who wandered away from their parties.

April 6.—Having embarked M. le Dilly, with some of his officers and crew, and lumbered our little ship with the spars and stores purchased from him, we sailed from the Falklands. Our passage to within sight of the river Negro was short, though stormy, a south-east gale driving us before it, under a close-reefed foretopsail. As the sea ran high, it might have been more prudent to have ‘hove-to;’ but time was precious, and our vessel's qualities as a seaboat, scudding as well as ‘by the wind,’ were well known.

Early on the 12th, we were off the river Negro; but baffling winds and a heavy swell (raised by the late gale), prevented our anchoring near the bar, or sending in a boat.

Soon after noon on the 14th, while standing off and on, waiting for the swell to go down, and allow of a boat crossing the bar, a sail seen in the horizon was made out to be the Adventure. We steered for and spoke her, found all well, sent her on to Maldonado, and again stood towards the bar. Our tender, as I mentioned, sailed from Berkeley Sound on the 4th; but was obliged to heave-to during the gale in which we were able to scud.

Next day (15th), a decked boat, like the Paz, with some difficulty crossed the bar, and brought me letters from Lieutenant Wickham, by which I learned that he and his party had sailed from the river, intending to visit the Gulf of San Matias, only a few days before we arrived, having previously examined all the coast, from Port Desire to Valdes Creek.* I was sorry to hear that Corporal Williams, a very worthy man, in every sense of the words, had been drowned in the river Negro. Williams had been in two polar voyages, and under Captain King, in H.M.S. Adventure, from 1825 to 1830. The rest of the party were well, and making rapid progress with their task. Wind favouring, we made all sail for the Bay of San José, hoping to meet the little vessels under Lieutenant Wickham, but could not find them;† so concluding that they had run further south than was intended at their departure from the Negro, we steered out of the Gulf of San Matias, and made sail for the Plata.

* Or port, as it has been called, though improperly, because it is at times almost blocked up by a bar (Port Valdes in FitzRoy's Table of Positions).

† They were in Port San Antonio.

At daylight on the 26th, land was seen near Maldonado, and at two, we anchored off Monte Video. In a few hours the French passengers were landed; next day our anchor was again weighed, and at noon on the 28th we moored the Beagle in Maldonado Bay, close to the little island of Gorriti. Our tender, the Adventure, had arrived on the 23d. My thoughts were at this time occupied by arrangements connected with her, besides the usual routine observations. I was extremely anxious to fit the schooner properly, and to set her to work, but at the same time to keep all our other operations in active progress. A decked boat was lying in Maldonado, just built, which her owner, Don Francisco Aguilar, offered to lend me for two months, if I would rig her for him, and this proposal exactly suited my views, as it would enable me to send for Lieutenant Wickham, and supply his place by Mr. Usborne, leaving Mr. Stokes to continue the survey about San Blas and the Colorado. Accordingly, the Constitucion, as this little craft was named by her owner, was hauled alongside, and Mr. Usborne with a party, set to work in preparing her for a trip to the River Negro. On the 1st May Mr. Usborne sailed, having with him Mr. Forsyth and five men; he was to go to the River Negro, join and assist Mr. Stokes, and inform Lieutenant Wickham that he was wanted at Maldonado, to take charge of the Adventure. The Constitucion was about the size of the Liebre, a craft I should hardly have thought fit for such a voyage had I not heard so much from Mr. Harris and his companion, Roberts, of the capital weather those decked boats make in a gale. With their hatches secured, tiller unshipped, a storm try-sail—or no sail at all set, and nobody on deck, they tumble about like hollow casks, without caring for wind or sea.

Next day (2d) the Beagle returned to Monte Video, to procure carpenters, plank, and copper for the Adventure. I found that she was so fine a vessel, and so sound, that it was well worth while to copper her entirely afresh, with a view to her future operations among islands in the Pacific, where worms would soon eat through places on a vessel's bottom from which sheets of copper had been torn away. At this time the Adventure's copper was complete, but thin, and as the carpenters said it would not last above two years more with certainty, I determined to copper her forthwith, and make one substantial refit do for all. Here, to my great regret, Mr. Hamond decided to return to England,* and we consequently lost a valuable member of our small society.

* Provided that the Commander-in-Chief approved of his doing so—a sanction which I had no doubt of his receiving.

On the 17th, having engaged men and purchased plank, copper, provisions and other necessaries, we sailed from Monte Video, and next morning anchored in Maldonado. As soon as a part of our cargo was landed—all that was then wanted by the working party on Gorriti, under Mr. Chaffers—we proceeded up the river to fill water, anchored again off Monte Video for a short time, and returned to our future consort at Gorriti (24th). Preparations were then commenced for heaving the schooner down to copper her. We hauled her alongside, and on the 28th hove her ‘keel out,’ for a few hours, and righted her again at dark. While standing on her keel, examining the state of her copper and planking, I saw a sail in the offing, which was soon made out to be the Constitucion, and just after we righted the schooner Lieut. Wickham came alongside. He brought good tidings—without drawback—and those who know what it is to feel anxiety for the safety of friends whose lives are risked by their willingness to follow up the plans of their commanding officer—however critical those plans may be—will understand my sensations that night. The Constitucion anchored off the Negro on the 11th, entered it next day, found the Paz and Liebre there, and on the 17th sailed again. Six knots and a-half an hour was the most she could accomplish under any circumstances, yet her passages were very good, considering the distance. During June we remained in Maldonado, employed about the Adventure, and refitting as well as painting our own ship. Meanwhile Mr. Darwin was living on shore,§ sometimes at the village of Maldonado, sometimes making excursions into the country to a considerable distance; and my own time was fully occupied by calculations and chart-work, while the officers attended to heaving down the Adventure. This process, in a place partly exposed to south-west winds, was extremely tedious, and had it not been for the great advantages Maldonado and Gorriti offered in other respects, the situation might have been deemed exceedingly ill-chosen for such a purpose. Only when there was no swell could we haul her alongside and heave her down (an operation under any circumstances difficult, as she was one hundred and seventy tons in burthen, and we were but two hundred and thirty-five) and many days sometimes intervened on which no progress could be made. Every morning, at dawn of day, Lieut. Sulivan and I used to watch the sky most anxiously, in order to know whether it would be worth while unmooring, and warping the vessels together, and as the indications we looked for never deceived us, I will here mention them. Though familiar to all who lead a country or seafaring life, and often rise before the sun, they may be of use to others, whose attention has not been drawn to ‘weather wisdom.’ When the first streak of light appeared close to the horizon, and the sun's rising was preceded by a glow of faint red, not extending far, a fine day succeeded, whether the sky were then overcast or clear; but if the first gleam of light appeared high above the horizon, behind clouds, and there was much red, not only near the sun, but visible on clouds even near the zenith, wind, if not rain, was sure to follow. Between the extremes of course there may be many varieties of appearance as well as of succeeding weather; but as I have found such signs followed by similar weather, in most parts of the world, and as I have often profited by them, with reference to making or shortening sail, &c.; I do not like to pass over this occasion for a hint to the inexperienced. I have always found that a high dawn (explained above) and a very red sky, foretold wind—usually a gale; that a low dawn and pale sun-rise indicated fine weather; that the sun setting behind a bank of clouds, with a yellow look, was a sign of wind, if not rain, and that the sun setting in a clear horizon, glowing with red, was an unfailing indication of a coming fine day. I have already said (page 50), that hard-edged, oily-looking clouds, foretell, if they do not accompany wind, and that soft clouds—clouds which have a watery rather than an oily look—are signs of rain; and if ragged, or streaky, of wind also. Light foggy clouds, rising early, often called the ‘pride of the morning,’ are certain forerunners of a fine day.

§ Darwin describes Maldonado in his Chapter III.

On the 8th of July the Beagle sailed from Maldonado, and anchored off Monte Video for a few days, waiting for the arrival of a packet from England. Directly the letters were received she returned to Maldonado.

On the 18th, my survey work being finished, and our help no longer required at Gorriti, we sailed to sound eastward in the latitude of the English Bank, and then returned to make a few arrangements with Lieutenant Wickham, and obtain observations for the chronometers, previous to making an excursion towards the south.

On the 24th we sailed to Cape San Antonio, and thence along the coast, close by Cape Corrientes, and skirting the San Blas banks, till we anchored off the river Negro. There we found the Paz and Liebre just returned from their examination of those intricacies which surround the ports between Blanco Bay and San Blas. The Liebre came out to meet us with a satisfactory report of progress, as well as health; and, at her return, Mr. Darwin took the opportunity of going into the river, with the view of crossing overland to Buenos Ayres, by way of Argentina: after which, he proposed to make a long excursion from Buenos Ayres into the interior, while the Beagle would be employed in surveying operations along seacoasts uninteresting to him.§ We then got under sail and began our next employment, which was sounding about the outer banks off San Blas and Union Bays, and examining those parts of Ports San Antonio and San José which the Paz and Liebre had been prevented doing by wind and sea; besides which, I wished to see them myself, for many reasons, more closely than hitherto. The accumulation of banks about San Blas, and near, though southward of the river Colorado, is an object of interest when viewed in connection with the present position of the mouth of that long, though not large, river, which traverses the continent from near Mendoza, and which may have contributed to their formation; at least, so think geologists. §§

§ Darwin describes his overland trek in his Chapter IV.

§§ View locations cited in above paragraph:

Be this as it may, there is now a mass of banks extending far to seaward, which make the coast from Blanco Bay to San Blas extremely dangerous; more particularly, as the adjoining shore is almost a dead flat, and so low, that in many parts it can only be seen when the observer is among, or upon, the shoals. The space between Union Bay and San Blas was very appropriately named by the Spaniards Bahia Anegada (dried up bay), because it is so shallow, and the inner parts are rather drowned land than actual water, being only covered at half tide. Falkner says (p. 77), that a Spanish vessel was lost in this bay, the crew of which “saved themselves in one of the boats, and sailing up the river arrived at Mendoza.” Whether this ship was called ‘Los Cesares’ I am not aware, but as there is an islet in the ‘Bahia Anegada’ named in the old Spanish charts, ‘Isla de los Cesares,’ I suspect that such was the fact, and incline to connect this story with the many rumours of a settlement, ‘de los Cesares,’ somewhere in the interior of Patagonia. Falkner says, that “the crew saved themselves in one of the boats;”* but there were few Spanish vessels about that coast in the early part of the eighteenth century whose whole crew could have been saved in one of their boats.† If the remainder had formed even a temporary encampment about San Blas, or near the river Negro, it would have been described, with much exaggeration, by Indians of the west, as well as by those of the East country. A few men might have been admitted into a tribe of Indians who improved their habits and dwellings, so far as to have given rise to the curious reports so much circulated in South America, during the last century and even in this—of a colony of white people, with houses and gardens, in the interior of the continent, somewhere about the latitude of forty degrees; according to some between two ranges of the Cordillera; others said it was in the plains; but all appeared to think there was no doubt of the existence of such a settlement.

* “In the year 1734, or thereabouts (within how many years after or before that time?), the masts and part of the hulk were seen,” (Falkner, p. 77.) The so-called ‘Isla de los Cesares ‘is closely attached to, if not a part of the main land at the west side of Anegada Bay.

† Reports of the Cesares began to be circulated in the early part of the eighteenth century.

In Villarino's Diary of his Exploration of Anegada Bay, I find that he was much assisted by horses and mules, which he carried on board his vessels, and landed as often as he had occasion to make a journey by land. At the river Negro I heard that some of these animals became so tame, and accustomed to landing and embarkation, that they would leap quietly into or out of the boats, when required.*

* Viedma and other Spaniards were similarly assisted in their expeditions.

On the 19th of August, we anchored near the bar of the Negro, to meet the Paz and Liebre, take our officers and men on board, and pay Mr. Harris the money to which he was entitled, not only by contract, but by the uniform attention, activity, and thorough kindness, which he and his partner had shown to their temporary companions; by their knowledge as pilots, and by the useful information which they had readily given, to the full extent of their abilities. The complete success of that enterprize was greatly owing to the conduct of those two worthy men. Before dark all was settled, our party was safely on board; we quitted Harris and Roberts, with their useful little craft, mutually satisfied; and made sail for Blanco Bay, where there was still work to be done; intending to add to our already numerous soundings, while following the seaward edges of the banks.

On the 24th, we moored off the Wells, in Port Belgrano. Next day. Lieutenant Sulivan went with a party to explore the furthest extreme of the inlet, while others were occupied, as usual, in the various duties always necessary on board a ship, in addition to those of a survey.

Mr. Darwin was at Argentina, § and hearing of our arrival, rode to the Wells. He had met General Rosas on the Colorado, who treated him very kindly; and he was enjoying his shore-roving without any annoyance, the old major being no longer afraid of a ‘naturalista.’

§ Darwin was at Bahía Blanca. In FitzRoy's Table of Positions: Pampa, he refers to it by its former name of Fort Argentino.

On the 7th of September, we finally left Blanco Bay;* but again sounded along the dangerous banks of Anegada Bay, determined to do our utmost to prevent vessels from getting ashore there in future, as many have done already, especially during the blockade of Buenos Ayres, when several prizes, which had been taken from the Brazilians, were wrecked and totally lost.

* Mr. Darwin had previously departed on his road to Buenos Ayres. §

§ Darwin had completed his overland journey from Rio Negro to Bahía Blanca, paid a brief visit to the Beagle but remained ashore, beginning his journey from Bahía Blanca to Buenos Aires on September 8.

In these surveying trips along-shore we always anchored when we could, in order to preserve our station and connect triangles; but, of course, we were often obliged to weigh again at short notice, during the night; therefore every preparation was made for any change of wind or weather, and a careful look-out always kept upon the deep-sea lead (invariably attended throughout the night), as well as upon the sympiesometer, the sky, and the water. I mention the deep-sea lead particularly, because however shallow the water may be, mistakes are often made with the hand-lead, especially at night, when a tide or current is running, in consequence of the lead being drifted by the action of the water upon it and the line, and deceiving even a moderate leads-man; who sometimes thinks the water much deeper than it really is—sometimes the reverse; and never can tell exactly, under such circumstances, how a ship is moving over the ground, or whether she is dragging her anchors.

Off Starve Island [location unknown] we were obliged to weigh in a hurry, one night, owing to a gale coming on from the south-east, and during the 10th and 11th, we carried a press of sail, to get off the land; the wind then drew round by the south, and a succession of baffling weather ensued, which prevented our doing any thing on the coast, and also hindered our reaching the Plata until the 16th, on which day we ran up to Monte Video, and anchored.

On the 18th we weighed, hearing that H.M.S. Snake had brought stores and letters for us, and was at Maldonado, but had hardly lost sight of the town, when the Snake hove in sight. Knowing her to be one of the new build, I altered course, to sail a few miles with her, and see how much she would beat us; but, to my surprize, she gained on us but little while running free with a fresh breeze, just carrying topmast studding-sails; and I was afterwards told by her officers, that though she sailed uncommonly well on a wind, and worked to windward wonderfully, she did nothing remarkable with a flowing sheet. I did not like her upper works; they ‘tumbled home’ too much (like some old French corvettes); narrowing her upper deck, giving less spread to the rigging, and offering a bad form to the stroke of a heavy sea, whether when plunging her bow into it, or receiving it abeam. However good such a form may be for large ships, which carry two or three tier of guns, I cannot think it advantageous for flush-decked vessels or small frigates, and am quite certain that it is bad for boats. I here allude particularly to that ‘tumbling home’ of the upper works, which some persons approved of a few years ago. This is not the place, however, for a discussion upon naval architecture (even if I were qualified to deal with the subject, which assuredly I am not); but I cannot pass over an opportunity of adding my mite of praise to the genius and moral courage of Sir William Symonds and Captain Hayes, who, undeterred by opposition, and difficulties of every description, have succeeded in infusing (if the metaphor may be allowed) so large a portion of Arab blood into the somewhat heavy, though stalwart coursers of our native breed. Amidst the natural contention of eager candidates for an honourable position, to which they have been accustomed to aspire, and for which some are doubtless admirably qualified, it is not surprising that due credit has not always been given to that originality and justifiable daring, of which the merits are attested by the Vanguard and Inconstant. Neither has it always been recollected, however men may have differed in their opinions of this or that individual, as a naval architect, that the two best ships built of late years were constructed by naval officers, self-educated chiefly during the practice of their profession. I am quite aware, that some of those eminent architects who have constructed good ships since 1810—Sir Robert Seppings, Professor Inman, Mr. Roberts, and Mr. Fincham, were very much restricted as to dimensions allowed with respect to guns to be carried; and that, therefore, no one can pretend to say what degree of excellence the ships might have attained, had their architects been unshackled; but taking things as they are—not as they might have been—to Symonds and Hayes (if not chiefly to the former) belongs the merit of having improved our navy materially. We are so apt to forget, during the heat of controversy, that even an approach to perfection is unattainable, and the utmost any one can hope for is to have fewer faults than his rivals—that we should not hastily condemn, in any case, only because we can detect deficiencies or errors.

Many persons have remarked, that notwithstanding all the competition, all the trials of sailing, and all the reported improvements, which have taken place since the peace, our fastest ships have not excelled some of those built by France, England, or other countries, during the war. My own knowledge of those ships is only derived from the descriptions of persons who sailed in or chased them: but the conclusion I am led to draw from their accounts is that, with few exceptions,* those ships were very shghtly built, often of unseasoned timber, and that their rapid rate of sailing only lasted so long as their frames would yield to the fluid, and were not water-sodden. Recently launched, light, and elastic, confined by few beams, knees, or riders, held together by trunnions more than by metal, and intended only to sail swiftly—for a short existence—those greyhound vessels were as different in their construction from the solid, heavy, durable ships of this day, as a light, active youth is from a well-set man trained to labour.

* The Malta (Guillaume Tell), Norge, and a few others, were splendid exceptions, but even in the construction of those ships far less iron and copper were used than is now customary in vessels of their class. By substituting so much metal in place of wood, for knees, braces, and bolts, solidity, strength, and capacity are acquired in modern ships at the expense, in most instances, of elasticity, and swift sailing.

A man-of-war requires strength, solidity, capacity; great buoyancy for supporting her heavy metal, durability, and tenacity; besides easiness as a sea-boat, and superiority of sailing. Vessels may easily be built to excel in any of these qualifications; but to excel in all is the climax, only to be obtained by genius, aided by extraordinary study and experience.

After running a few miles with the Snake, and finding that she steered towards Buenos Ayres, we altered our course to resume our easterly route, and early next morning were anchored alongside the Adventure.

As it was evident that another month must elapse before the schooner would be ready for her work, notwithstanding the zealous exertions of Lieut. Wickham and his crew, I decided to finish myself the survey, which I had intended he should begin with, namely, of the south shore of the Plata and a reported bank off Cape Corrientes—and defer the second visit to Tierra del Fuego until December or January. Accordingly, the Beagle sailed on the 23d, and after a close examination of Cape San Antonio and the great mud-bank, called Tuyu, which lies within it, we went to the neighbourhood of Cape Corrientes, and there looked about and sounded in every direction, but could find no shoal. We then returned to the river, and sounded Sanborombon Bay, laying its shores down on the chart as accurately as we could, considering that the water was every where so shoal, that even a boat could not get within half a mile of the land, except at particular times, for which we could not wait. The distance at which the Beagle was obliged to keep, varied from four miles to three (seldom less), and then she was sailing in about a foot more water than she drew.*

* The Beagle's draught of water was eleven feet and a half forward, and thirteen feet aft, when in ordinary loaded trim.

On the 6th of October we returned to Maldonado; to prepare for a long excursion southward, and to hasten the equipment of the Adventure. By the 19th she was almost ready, so we weighed in company, ran up the river to water, and on the 21st moored off Monte Video, to take in our final supplies previous to quitting the River Plata for the last time. Here, to my surprise, I found people talking about the English having taken possession of the island of Gorriti, and built houses upon it. This, I knew, must in some way have arisen out of the temporary encampment of the Adventure's crew; and enquiring further, I found that columns of the Monte Video newspapers had been filled with discussions on the subject.* The local authorities at Maldonado having been told (incorrectly) that the English had hoisted British colours upon the island—had repaired several old buildings—and had erected a house with glass windows, for the commanding officer's residence—became alarmed; and as stories seldom lose by repetition, the good people of Monte Video were soon in commotion. However, the affair was easily explained; but not without many a laugh at the absurdity of my little observatory (made of ninety small pieces of wood, so as to be stowed in a boat), having ‘loomed’ so large. Had our colours ever been displayed on shore, there might have been some foundation for their alarm; but it so happened that the only flag that was on the island, at any time while our party was there, was an old Monte Video (Banda Oriental) ensign, which belonged to the schooner when I bought her from Mr. Low. This incident, trifling as it is, may be worth notice, as showing how necessary it is to be more circumspect and explanatory in every dealing with a small State, than in similar transactions with the Authorities of old established governments.

“Monte Video, Octubre22 de l833.  

* “El infrascripto Ministro Secretario de Estado en el departamentode Relaciones Exteriores, tiene órden del Gobierno para dirigirse al Sr. Cónsul General de S.M.B. y manifestarle, que á consecuencia de varies sucesos que han tenido lugar en la Isla de Gorriti, donde se halla la tripulacion de la Escuna de S.M. Adventure, los cuales constau de los documentos que en copia autorizada se acompañan; y deseoso el Gobierno de satisfacer la ansiedad publica que han producido aquellos sucesos, y quitar todo pretexto de interpretaciones, espera que el Sr. Cónsul tendrá á bien manifestarle los motivos que dieron mérito á que los individuos pertenecientes á aquel Buque pasasen á la Isla, como igualmente las causales de su permanencia en ella.

“El Ministro que subscribe reitera al Sr. Cónsul General de S.M.B. los sentimientos de su mayor consideracion y aprecio.

(Firmado) “Francisco Llambi.”


“Monte Video, Octubre 28 de 1803.

“El abajo firmado Consul General de S.M.B. cerca de la República Oriental del Uruguay ha tenido el honor de transmitir al Sr. Fitz-Roy, comandante de la barca descubridora de S.M.B. Beagle, la comunicacion y copias inclusas que S. E. el Sr. D. Francisco Llambi, Ministro Secretario de Negocios Extrangeros le hizó el honor de dirigirle en 22 del corriente; y el infrascripto se halla autorizado para decir que ni el 3 de Octubre, de 1833, ni otro dia alguno del presente año se ha enarbolado o desplegado en la Isla de Gorriti la Bandera de la nacion Britanica. EI 3 de Octubre de 1833, y muchos dias anteriores, la de este Estado fuè izada como un señal para D. Francisco Aguilar, avisándole que se iva á embiar un bote en busca de came y comestibles. La casa de madera con vidriera que se dice ser habitada por el comandante, es un observatorio portatil hecho en Inglaterra, que ahora se halla en la Isla de Ratas de este Puerto; y ninguno de los edificios de la Isla de Gorriti, ha sido reparado por persona alguna bajo las ódenes del Comandante Fitz-Roy: lo que el abajo firmado comunica á S.E. saludándole con su particular consideracion y aprecio.

(Firmado) “Tomas Samuel Hood.”

The month of November was passed at Monte Video: laying down chartwork, computing observations, and writing; procuring and stowing provisions; painting the vessels outside and blacking their rigging; and occasionally giving the crews leave to go ashore. Mr. Darwin returned at the end of the month; and the first week in December both vessels sailed from the river: but before I go on with them to Tierra del Fuego and the Falklands, some pages shall be devoted to the proceedings of our enterprizing and hard-working labourers, who were employed so zealously during twelve months without intermission, in the little vessels Paz and Liebre.


CHAPTER XIV

Paz and Liebre begin work—Chronometers—Fish—Animals—San Blas—Wrecks—River Negro—Del Carmen—Inhabitants—Indians—Trade—Williams drowned—Port Desire—Gale—Salinas—Lightning—Bones in Tomb—Trees—Dangers—New Bay—Cattle—Seal—Soil—River Chupat—Drift Timber—Fertility—Wild Cattle—Valdes Creek—Imminent danger—Tide Races—Bar of the Negro—Hunting—Attack of Indians—Villarino—Falkner

The Paz and Liebre parted company with the Beagle on the 18th of October 1832, and commenced their undertaking by a cursory examination of the entrance to False Bay, Green Bay, and Brightman Inlet.§ Lieut. Wickham and Mr. King, with Roberts and four men, were in the Liebre.* Messrs. Stokes, Mellersh, and Forsyth, with Harris and five men, were on board the Paz.† While they were northward of the Colorado, true bearings of the Ventana Mountain, and observed latitudes, made them independent of their five chronometers; but it was soon found that the rates of those useful machines were not injured even by the continual as well as sudden motions of so small a vessel. They were bedded in sawdust, wool, and sand,‡ within a large tub, which was secured to the deck under the cabin table of the Paz, not far from the centre of least motion.

§ All previously mentioned in Chapter V.

* Nine tons burthen.

† Fifteen tons.

‡ Sawdust alone would have been better.

In Brightman Inlet great quantities of fish were caught, by stopping up the mouths of small creeks with a net at high water, and when the tide ebbed many more were left ashore than were wanted. On Green Island they found good water by digging wells seven or eight feet deep. The island itself was overrun by deer and cavies: and on the main land the wild pig of the country (javali) was seen. On the 23d they entered the river Colorado, but had much trouble in warping to a safe berth, on account of the water being very shoal at the entrance which they had chosen. The principal mouth was a quarter of a mile further south, the stream being there “broad and rapid,” with two fathoms water when the tide was out; but beset, to seaward, by sandbanks, which shift with every southeast gale. Quantities of drift-wood, a kind of willow (sauci), lay about every where, indicating that the river sometimes overflowed its banks to a great distance, and brought down these trees from the interior country, as none grow within three leagues of the mouth. The river hereabouts is divided into many streams, forming a great number of small islands, which are nearly all of clay covered with rushes. From one of these streams or channels, the Canada, there are creeks communicating at high-water with Union Bay. Here Lieut. Wickham's party saw a wolf.

On the 27th they met a whale-boat (at Creek Island in Anegada Bay) from the River Negro, in search of sea-elephants. Next day they reached a snug creek in San Blas Bay, where they heard that the Indians had lately driven off all the cattle from the San Blas Estancia, had destroyed the houses, dismounted the guns, and broken the carriages. They were accompanied by a number of desperate criminals who had fled from justice at Buenos Ayres, and idle gauchos, who preferred robbery to work, and were unquestionably the most savage of the troop. On the 29th the Liebre was hauled ashore, to extract a piece of sauci wood that had run through her bottom: and a party was afterwards employed in erecting a conspicuous mark upon Hog Island; § a very difficult task, because the loose sand, of which that island wholly consists, flies in clouds at every gust, and nowhere affords a solid foundation. By the help of casks filled with it, and spare anchors, they at length succeeded in securing an old spar upright, which was large enough to be seen ten miles round, in that low half-drowned country.

§ Hog Island is presumably the modern Isla del Jabali (= wild boar en español; see next footnote).

Deer were very numerous on Javali Island; § but on the place called Deer Island, §§ there was not one, though they were so plentiful there a few years before. Some dogs had been left there by a whale-ship, which have increased very much in numbers and are very savage: these dogs have exterminated the deer.

§ Javali Island may be the modern Isla del Jabali.

§§ Some maps show Deer Island in the same location as Isla del Jabali, while others place it to the immediate East, as shown here in the above Google Earth 3D view.

Any quantity of fresh water may be obtained in San Blas Bay, by digging wells six or eight feet deep; and fish are abundant: but it is no place for a ship to enter unless under favourable circumstances of weather, wind, and tide; and decidedly dangerous with a south-easter, because there is then a sea on the banks outside which confuses the pilot's eye, and prevents his distinguishing the proper channel; besides which, thick weather, if not rain, is the general accompaniment to that wind.

On the 3d of December the Beagle anchored off San Blas (as formerly mentioned). Both schooners went out to her, and in returning at night into San Blas Bay, working to windward with a strong flood tide, they passed close to an unknown rock which would have made an end of their cruise had they touched it. The least water they had, however, was eight feet;* but both vessels were close to it, while the tide was running four or five knots. This rock is in the middle of the entrance to San Blas Bay. At midnight they reached their anchorage, without a dry article in either vessel.

* The Paz drew five feet and a half, the Liebre four feet.

On the 6th, Lieutenant Wickham remarked, while at anchor between San Blas and the River Negro, off Point Easa, that the stream of tide began to set northward at half flood, and continued to run in that direction until half ebb, by the shore. “It is not at all uncommon on this coast,” he says, “to see wrecks of vessels above high-water mark, and spars strewed along the beach where the sea does not touch them.” These wrecks took place during south-east gales, when the sea was raised above its usual level in fine weather: and were the vessels spoken of in the previous chapter, as having been entrusted to ignorant or careless prize-masters, who ran for San Blas or the River Negro, not then knowing that so fine a port as Blanco Bay existed. Strong tides, shoals, a low coast, and bad weather would have perplexed professed seamen; but those difficulties were insurmountable to such unpractised craftsmen as those who were in charge of them, and most of the prizes were lost. One large ship of four or five hundred tons was taken, by a wiser master, to Port Melo, and there her cargo was discharged into small craft, which landed it safely in the River Negro. Many of these ill-fated vessels were never afterwards heard of; but from the numerous wrecks seen along the coast between the Colorado and the Negro, it may be inferred that they and their unfortunate crews perished in the surf occasioned by south-east gales, or were capsized by sudden pamperoes.

Running up the River Negro (on the 7th December), Lieut. Wickham found the 'freshes'* strongly against him. The banks of the river afforded a pleasing contrast, by their verdure, to the arid desert around Anegada Bay. Most part of these banks was cultivated, and great quantities of fine corn was seen growing. Here and there were country houses (quintas) surrounded by gardens, in which apple, fig, walnut, cherry, quince, and peach trees, vines, and vegetables of most kinds were abundantly plentiful.

* Showing that this was the period of one of the two floods to which the Negro is annually subject.

Although the banks of the river are so fit for cultivation, it is only in consequence of floods, which take place twice a-year—once during the rainy season of the interior, and once at the time when the snow melts on the Cordillera. These floods swell the river several feet above its banks, bringing a deposit of mud and decayed vegetable matter, which enriches the soil and keeps it moist even during the long droughts of that climate.

The plough used there is wooden, and generally worked by oxen, but it does not cut deeply. Manure is never used, the soil being so fattened by alluvial deposits.

The town of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, § is about six leagues up the river, on its northern bank, upon a slightly-rising ground about forty feet above the water. It is irregularly built: the houses are small, one only having two stories; and glass windows are seldom seen: each house has a large oven. A square enclosure of some extent, formed by walls of unbaked bricks (adobes), is called the fort, and within it are the church, the governor's house, lodgings for the officers, and public stores. This fort commands the neighbourhood, as well as the houses (or cottages) surrounding it; and of the hundred buildings which compose the town of Carmen, exclusive of about thirty huts on the south bank of the river, the fort is the oldest. It was built about 1763. Some houses, forty years old, are as fresh in outward appearance, as if built only a few years ago. In a population of 1,400, there are about 500 negroes. Altogether there may be in the town about two thousand inhabitants, but many of the poorer families and negroes live in caves, which were dug out of cliffs on the river's bank by the first Spanish settlers. It is said that they served the Spaniards as a secure refuge from the Indians, who could only approach them by one path, easily secured. These caves, dug out of earthy clay, are not despicable dwellings, while there is a fire in them to expel damp.

§ Del Carmen Fort in FitzRoy's Table of Positions. On eastern border of the modern Carmen de Patagones.

About a league from the entrance of the river are the ruins of a large house, which was the “Estancia del Rey.” In former days 100,000 head of cattle were attached to that establishment, now there is not even a calf.

Some of the first settlers were living at Carmen in 1833, staunch royalists, every one looking back with regret to former times. One of them belonged to the crew of the Spanish launch that first entered the river. He said, that the Indians were then living in detached tribes along both banks of the river, and were very friendly to the Spaniards. This same old man afterwards made one of the exploring party, under Villarino, in 1786, when the natives were not only inoffensive, but gave them assistance. How different from the present day! when if a Christian is seen by the natives, he is immediately hunted, and his safety depends upon the fleetness of his horse. It has sometimes happened, that persons riding along [sic? alone?] near this river, have been surprized by a marauding party of Indians, and obliged, as their only resource, to leap off the banks (barrancas), whether high or low, and swim across to the other side. The Indians have never followed; hence this, though requiring resolution, is a sure mode of escape.

Prior to the conclusion of the war between Brazil and Buenos Ayres (1828), the settlers at Carmen lived tranquilly—undisturbed by Indian aggression (retaliation?) but since that time, they have been kept in continual alarm. Prisoners are often brought to Carmen to be ransomed, whom the Indians have taken from other places. They are generally women or children; and as the Indians often find out who their prisoners are, the ransoms asked are proportionably exorbitant. Men are usually put to death, if they do not die of their wounds. There is a tribe of friendly Indians living near Carmen, at the outskirts of the town, who do much hard work for the inhabitants for very trifling remuneration; but they are shamefully abused, cheated in every way by shopkeepers and liquor-venders, and harshly treated by other persons, who seem to consider them inferior beings—unworthy of any kind or humane consideration. Should one of these poor creatures fall by the knife of a passionate white man, no notice is taken of it by the authorities; the murderer boasts of his deed, and the poor relations suffer patiently the loss and the insult, which they dare not avenge. Having quitted the free tribes, seduced by promises never fulfilled, they would not be received among them again; and their own numbers, originally small, are reduced daily by disease and abominable drugs, which the publicans sell them in what is said to be spirituous liquor (agua ardiente). Mr. Wickham saw a poor Indian woman, between forty and fifty years of age, almost killed by a blow on the head from an ox's skull (with the horns), given by a wretch, who had drawn his knife upon her husband for preventing his kissing a pretty girl, their daughter, who was walking with her. This scoundrel was seen by Mr. Wickham, a few days afterwards, betting at the race-course with the principal people of the place.

Thanks to the influence of Harris and Roberts, and their connections (both being married to daughters of Spanish settlers), our officers and men were exceedingly well treated. Every door was open to them; and the fruit in every garden was freely, as well as sincerely offered. Letters had been forwarded to the commandant or governor, from Buenos Ayres, desiring that we might have every facility and freedom in our operations; but the disposition towards us was such, that those letters were not required.

From the remains of former buildings, and accounts of the old men, Lieutenant Wickham thought that the Spanish settlers must have been far more industrious and ingenious than their Creole descendants, who are idle, indolent, and ignorant. The height of their ambition is to make a show at the Sunday races, where they deceive, drink, wrangle, gamble, and quarrel. These Sabbath occupations are always attended by the female part of the population, who take that opportunity of displaying their finery; and though seated upon handkerchiefs on the sandy ground, without any defence from sun, wind, dust, or rain, every damsel displays silk stockings and a gaudy dress upon these occasions. The men do not go near them, notwithstanding their attire: they can beat a poor woman almost to death, upon occasion; but they cannot defer a bet, or risk losing a dollar, for the sake of female society.

The climate is so healthy, that illness of any kind is scarcely known; and the inhabitants, in general, live to a good old age. There is a stirring trade carried on in small vessels, between Buenos Ayres and this place. Salt, of excellent quality, hides, peltry, seal or sea-elephant oil, and skins, are the principal exports, in return for which are received manufactures, sugar, spirits, tobacco, &c.

The Indians, who live at the outskirts of the town in ‘toldos,’ which are neither wind nor water-tight, load vessels with salt; but the price of their labour is usually spent in some kind of spirituous liquor, which is made and drugged expressly for them—the publicans often saying, “that it is a sin to give an Indian good spirits.” When drunk, the howling of these poor wretches is quite frightful. Some of them are almost skeletons—the result, probably, of drinking.

Some leagues up the river coal is obtained, I was informed, but I did not see a specimen myself. Probably Mr. Darwin had an opportunity of examining its quality.

On the 12th, Lieutenant Wickham sailed for Blanco Bay, to deliver some letters from me (which I had received from Buenos Ayres) to the commandant Rodriguez.

13th. Off the banks in Anegada Bay there was too much sea (during a S.W. gale) for the Liebre to keep on her course any longer, having run as long as was prudent, and already shipped several seas. When hove-to, under a balance-reefed foresail, with the tiller unshipped, she was dry and easy, and lay about five points from the wind.

Mr. Wickham arrived at Argentina on the 16th, and left it on the following day. In sailing out of Blanco Bay, along the south shore, while it was dark, the Liebre grounded frequently; but her crew got overboard, and hauled her over the banks as often as she was stopped by them, and at midnight she was at sea. A south-east gale on the 18th drove her into the Colorado, where Lieutenant Wickham found a strong outset, owing to the ‘freshes,’ even during the flood-tide.

On the 22d, the Liebre entered the river again, and anchored near Carmen.

At daylight on the 24th, Corporal Williams was missed, supposed to have fallen overboard in the night, while asleep. He slept on deck sometimes, when tormented by musquitoes; and as the Liebre's weather-cloth rail was but a few inches above the deck, he might possibly have rolled overboard into the stream, which would immediately have carried him away. His body was found, about three miles down the river, at sun-set the next evening (Christmas day). The governor (though a Roman catholic) allowed the burial to take place in the consecrated ground of the church, and the curate himself was present.

While the Liebre was absent, Mr. Stokes, in the Paz, surveyed many miles of the river, as well as the bar. No vessel drawing more than eleven feet water can enter without much danger: if at a favourable time any person should be induced to risk crossing the bar with a ship of greater draught, he should bear in mind that it is much more difficult to get to sea than it is to enter, because wind which is fair for approaching, raises the water; and the reverse. Although ships drawing fourteen feet have passed the bar, at unusually favourable times, others of only ten feet draught have been detained forty days in the river.

29th. Both our little vessels sailed, and on the 4th of January they anchored safely in Port Desire:—this was a bold stroke, but success attended it. They were thus placed at the southernmost point of the coast they were to survey, while the sun was farthest south; and as the days shortened, they would work along the coast northward. Recent traces of Indians were found; and the master of an American sealer told Mr. Wickham that they had been there in considerable numbers, about two months previously. The wells were all full; therefore much rain must have fallen during October, November, or December. I have mentioned elsewhere that although the eastern coast of Patagonia is usually an arid desert, there are periodical times, of short duration, at which rain falls abundantly.

11th. Having rated their chronometers, the little vessels stood out to sea, in company with the North American sealer; but they had not sailed many miles before the wind increased to a gale, and still becoming stronger, bringing clouds of dust and sand off the land, they were reduced to bare poles, and drifted fast off-shore, as well as northward. When the fury of the gale was over, their balance-reefed foresails were set, and with their tillers unshipped they made very good weather, until they were driven near the tide-races off Cape Blanco, where some anxious hours were passed, half-buried in foam, and the wind again almost a hurricane. Towards evening, the storm abated; our water-soaked explorers succeeded in regaining a position under shelter of the land; and anchored next morning under Cape Blanco, to dry themselves and take observations. In this severe gale, the North American schooner split two close-reefed foresails, lost a boat, and was otherwise damaged.

Lieutenant Wickham and Mr. Mellersh walked a long way from Cape Blanco, to trace the coast, and look out for shoals in the offing; in doing which, they found numerous ‘Salinas’ (extensive hollow places filled with salt), where the solid mass of very white and good salt was several feet in thickness. Guanacoes were numerous, but shy. On the rocks some fur-seal were seen; too few, however, to be worth a sealer's notice. The following week was passed in examining St. George Bay [now, Golfo San Jorge]. Scarcely any stream of tide was found in its western part, though the rise amounted to nearly twenty feet. About Tilly road, where they landed, the mass or principal part of the soil, where visible in cliffs or ravines, is loose sandy clay (diluvium), with immense quantities of large fossil oyster shells imbedded in it. These shells were found every where, even on summits seven or eight hundred feet above the sea, and some of them weighed eight pounds,

A place honoured by the Spaniards with the name of Malaspina, and described as a port, was found to be a wretched cove, full of rocks, hardly safe even for the Liebre [Malaspina Cove in FitzRoy's Table of Positions]. While moored there, our party witnessed lightning set fire to bushes and grass. The flames spread rapidly, and for two days, the face of the country continued to blaze. Near Port Arredondo, Mr. Wickham went to the tops of several hills; he found the country unproductive, except of a few bushes, and yellow wiry grass. There were no traces of natives. Very heavy rain fell during the night of the 28th. I mention it thus particularly, because some persons have said that rain never falls on the east coast of Patagonia, in any quantity.

The cove called ‘Oven’ [Caleta Horno ] is a singular place, being a parting (as it were) in the solid rock, nearly a mile in length, but very narrow, with four fathoms water in it at low tide. Surrounded on all sides by precipitous hills, it is, indeed, an oven; and would injure a ship seriously, even more than other ports on this arid coast, if she were to lie long in it; as her seams would all be opened, and her planks split by the heat and drought. The water found here was so strongly impregnated with salt-petre, that it was not drinkable; but probably better might have been procured had they dug fresh wells. On the summit of South Cape an Indian tomb was found. The stones had been displaced, and some bones were lying about, a few of which were taken on board, but none could be got in a perfect state. Mr. Bynoe afterwards examined them, and informed me that they had belonged to a female of small stature.*

* I gave them to Sir Francis Chantrty, by whom they were shown to several persons.

Off Ship Island, § and thence to Cape Dos Bahias, the tidestream was again felt strongly, running two, three, or, in some places, four knots an hour. At a little creek, in Camarones Bay, near Cape Dos Bahias, abundance of small wood, fit for fuel, was found; and plenty of fresh water in hollows of the rocks. A guanaco was shot, which weighed upwards of two hundred pounds. Not only is small wood plentiful about Camarones Bay, but the country is sufficiently covered with grass of good quality. Several Indian tombs were seen on the hills, whence it may be inferred that natives at times frequent the neighbourhood, although no recent traces were met with by our party. Unfortunately, not one of these tombs, simply irregular piles of stones, was found in an undisturbed state, neither were any more bones discovered: they are all similarly situated upon the most conspicuous, smooth, and round-topped hills.

§ Better known as Isla Leones, and in fact is Leones Island in FitzRoy's Table of Positions.

At Port Santa Elena many tons of excellent water were procured from hollows in the rocks. (7th Feb.) Approaches to trees were found at this place, which though stunted as to height, much like thorn-trees in exposed situations, were of respectable dimensions. One measured more than three feet round the trunk, but its fellow was not seen.

After dusk, on the 10th, while endeavouring to enter New Bay [Golfo Nuevo], with a fresh wind and strong flood-tide, the Liebre got into a ‘race,’ and was hustled within a fathom of a rock, over which the tide was boiling furiously. Fortunately, the Paz saw the Liebre alter course and make more sail, and by immediately following her example, avoided the danger. They then hauled ofF, and passed the night at sea.

Next day (11th), they stood towards the bay again, the wind increasing fast, till it blew a gale from W.S.W., which being against a flood-tide stream, running at the rate of four knots through the entrance, raised a short hollow sea, dangerous for small craft. Battening down the hatches securely, and close-reefing, the little vessels worked through gallantly, though frequently obliged to lower their sails in squalls, or as they dived into a sea heavier than usual. The tide soon swept them beyond the narrow part, and then they were comparatively in safety.

Part of the west shores of New Bay seemed to be fit for cultivation, being covered with a fine dark soil; and there is abundance of fire-wood. Some small ponds of excellent water were found, over a clayey bed, in which were tracks of cattle. A guanaco shot here was superior to any killed elsewhere, as to condition. Many thousand seals were seen on the rocks, which did not take to the water as soon as disturbed—therefore they could not have been much molested by man.

On the 24th, Lieutenant Wickham discovered the river Chupat, § and after waiting for the tide, anchored half a mile within the entrance. Next day he went a few miles up it in a boat, and found that, though free from drift-timber, it was shoal and narrow, few places being deeper than six feet at low-water, or wider than a hundred yards. The stream ran down two or three knots an hour. Many tracks of cattle were seen, but none of natives. As the river seemed to be free from sunken trees, and to have but few banks in it, Mr. Wickham decided to move the Liebre as far up as he could, and then make another excursion in his little two-oared skiff. Between pulling* and sailing, the Liebre was moved twelve miles up in one day, and was moored in the middle of the stream, lest Indians should be near.

§ According to Wikipedia, the river takes its name from the Tehuelche word chupat (transparent), as FitzRoy himself points out in another footnote below. The name may have “evolved” over the years into Chubut.

* Both the vessels had oars.

Next morning, Mr. Wickham went in his boat, about eight miles further; but in a direct line he was then not more than twelve miles from the entrance. Along the banks on each side, as he had advanced, both he and those with him, were much struck by the richness of the alluvial land (caused doubtless by the river overflowing its low banks), and by the quantities of drift-timber, which actually looked like the stores in immense timber-yards. Among the drift-wood there were many large and sound trees left several hundred yards from the banks, therefore the periodical floods must be great.

At Mr. Wickham's westernmost point “the river, and the country round had a beautiful appearance, as seen from a rising ground on the south side—an excellent position for a settlement.” From this elevation the stream was traced to the westward, running with a very serpentine course, through level meadow land, covered with rich herbage. Several herds of wild cattle were seen, and their traces were observed every where in such numbers as to indicate a great abundance of animals.

Mr. Wickham returned on the 26th to the entrance, and found that a store of fish had been salted by the cook, while Mr. Stokes and others were going about, surveying the neighbourhood. These fish were a kind of bass, nearly as good as salmon.

I have no doubt that this is a river whose existence has been many years known by Spaniards, but of which the situation was intentionally concealed, on account of the lucrative trade some individuals hoped to carry on by means of hides and tallow obtained from the herds of wild cattle. The Spaniards used to anchor their vessels in Port San José, and thence ride in large parties to the Chupat; there they surrounded numbers of cattle, and drove them across the peninsula between San José and New Bay, where they slaughtered them at leisure. Numbers were probably killed nearer the river; but all that could be driven, had doubtless the privilege of conveying their own hides to the neighbourhood of their hunters' ships. There was still living at the River Negro (in 1833) an old man, who was one of the few individuals that escaped during a dreadful massacre of Spanish settlers at Port San José. He said that the Indians were jealous of their encroachments, and seized an opportunity, while the Spaniards were attending the performance of mass, to fall upon them, and indiscriminately slay all, except three or four who were taken alive and kept as slaves.

That the Spaniards should have chosen San José for the place of their settlement instead of New Bay, or the Chupat itself, is easily accounted for, by mentioning that small vessels can generally run from the River Negro to Port San José without much risk and in a short time, whereas there are strong tides and dangerous ‘races’ off the peninsula of San José, and the entrance of the Chupat will not admit a vessel drawing more than seven feet: even this only at high-water. I think that the Chupat is the river alluded to by Falkner, as being in the “country of Chulilaw.” * He was told that it traversed the continent as far as the Andes, and judging from the drift-timber, as well as volcanic scoriae brought down by it, there is ground for thinking that the Chupat† rises in the Cordillera. There is also reason to suppose that the river described and placed variously by different geographers, under the name of Camarones, is this Chupat, chiefly because the Indians who frequent the country bordering upon the south bank of the Negro, say that there is no river of consequence between that and the Santa Cruz, excepting the Chupat.

* Falkner, p. 87.

† Chupat is the Indian name.

With this river so near at hand, the west side of New Bay would be an excellent situation for a settlement. There ships of any burthen might anchor in safety, and a communication be carried on with the interior by means of flat-bottomed boats, or barges, so constructed as to admit of being towed, or tracked, in the river, and capable of running up to New Bay before a fair wind. In the River Negro similar boats go a long way up the river for salt; they are towed by horses or oxen; and such vessels, even of thirty tons burthen, might enter the Chupat, if constructed so as to draw but little water. I need not dwell upon the possible advantages to be derived from opening a communication across the continent with Chilóe, which might be a means of diffusing Christianity, civilization, and commercial intercourse.

On the 3d, Lieut. Wickham and his party left the Chupat. Early on the 5th they entered Valdes Creek (by the Spaniards styled ‘port’), with the flood tide running nearly six knots into the narrow entrance: and on its shores found heaps of horns and bones, besides the wreck of a vessel.* These were indications of one of the temporary settlements maintained on the peninsula of San José for the purpose of obtaining hides. The carcases of the animals were invariably left to decay; a few deUcate portions only being selected for food.

* Of about two hundred tons burthen.

Until the 12th our little vessels were unable to quit this singular place, for the ebb tide set so strongly against the swell outside, raised by a S.E. gale, that they could not attempt to cross the bar. Sometimes the very narrow entrance of Valdes Creek is almost stopped up for a time by shingle and sand, after a S.E. gale has been blowing for a few days, therefore at such a time no vessel ought to run for it.

During the war between Brazil and Buenos Ayres (1825-9), Mr. Adams, of Carmen, was master of a merchant vessel hired by Vernet to convey settlers to the Falkland Islands. In returning thence, short of water and provisions, he thought to put into Valdes Creek, knowing that some people were there employed in collecting hides. He ran in for the land, with a fresh S.E. wand, and did not discover, until almost too late, that the bar was not passable. When close in he perceived a heavy sea breaking at the entrance, where he expected smooth water, and directly hauled off; but it was only by carrying a heavy press of sail that he cleared the land; and at the expense of passing through ‘races,’ which tore off the vessel's bulwarks and otherwise damaged her materially. As our cock-boats crossed this bar, they had ten feet water, but on each side of it there were five fathoms. The Liebre, sharp built, plunged into each short swell; while the Paz, with her bluff bow, did not take in a single sea. The bar is a continuation of the long shingle spit, or bank, which forms the seaward side of the harbour; and is about nine miles long, though in some places not a hundred yards broad.

Towards noon the wind fell light, and the vessels were swept by a strong tide-stream towards a ‘race,’ whose noise might have appalled the crews of much larger and stouter barks. No bottom could be struck with the deep-sea lead, and no efforts of the crews at the oars had much effect in arresting their progress towards apparently inevitable destruction. Even at this awful time, habitual familiarity with danger, and zeal for the service, shewed their effects strongly in Mr. Stokes, who eagerly watched for the sun's meridian altitude, with his sextant to his eye, while every now and then he caught a hasty glimpse of the foaming and roaring race towards which the little craft were fast approaching. At this crisis a breeze sprung up which just enabled them to pass clear; but no one who was in those vessels can ever forget that day, neither do I think they attribute their preservation to blind chance. Sailors see too many of these ‘chances’ to think of or reflect upon them lightly, and those who have had experience are not wont to forget, that to direct and to preserve are among the least efforts of Omnipotence—so far, at least, as our limited intelligence enables us to discern.

At five that afternoon the Paz and Liebre were about eighteen miles offshore, out of soundings with their lead-lines, and yet were only a mile and half from the eastern part of the race; therefore they still stood to seaward, to get as far as possible from a neighbourhood so dangerous at any time, but especially so at night. For two hours they passed through a rippling, but could strike no soundings with sixty fathoms of line.

In 1830 Mr. Harris (owner of the Paz) sailed from the River Negro in a vessel of about ninety tons, with some horses on board, which he had engaged to convey to a party of gauchoes who were employed on the peninsula of San José, in killing cattle for their hides. Within the Bay of San Matias, about six leagues N.W. of the port (San José), he got into one of these races,* and could not extricate his vessel. No soundings could be obtained: the sails were useless in consequence of the violent motion and want of wind, where the water was breaking so furiously, though elsewhere a fresh breeze was blowing; and nothing could be done. The crew took to the rigging, to avoid being washed overboard; and for almost three hours they were tossed about, like an empty bottle in a ripple, before the race abated, with the turn of tide, so as to admit of their sails acting enough to draw them a-head out of the commotion. The vessel, though a strong one, was so much shaken and damaged, the horses so much injured, and all hands so much ‘scared,’ as Harris honestly told me, that he steered back direct for the Negro, forfeited his agreement, and refused to go again.

* The tide-races are less formidable than those off Point Norte, near which our vessels were.

On the 14th March the Paz and Liebre again crossed the bar of the River Negro, and next day they anchored a-breast of the town (Carmen). Lieut. Wickham found that an expedition had been sent from Buenos Ayres for the purpose of obliging the Indians to retire beyond (southward of) the Negro; and, if possible, deprive them of their horses. Bad weather and a heavy sea on the bar, caused by south-east gales, prevented the Paz and Liebre from sailing again until the 11th of April, when they went to Port San Antonio, and afterwards into Port San José. Plenty of firewood, and abundance of fish, were found at San Antonio; but no fresh water, except by digging wells. The tide-stream rushes into and out of Port San José in a violent manner, especially when opposed by wind; but after the narrow part of the entrance is passed, all agitation of the water ceases, except what may be caused by wind. It is a barren and desolate place, without wood or fresh water, and too large for a harbour. Our party saw proof of this assertion in the wreck of a small vessel at the north-east part of the port, which had been driven from her anchors and totally lost, though she was lying in a land-locked bay, or rather gulf.

On the 6th of May, while returning from San José to the River Negro, our little vessels got into a ripple, which did not break, but had almost the appearance of a whirlpool. There was a hollow short swell, and an irregular motion in every direction, exactly like the boiling of a pot, on a great scale. Here again they could touch no bottom with fifty fathoms of line and a heavy lead. These races and ripplings in such deep water, about the peninsula of San José, are very remarkable; chiefly because there are none such on any other part of the coast. They will be recurred to in a future page of this volume.

May 7th. The Paz and Liebre returned to the Negro, but could not reach an anchorage off Carmen until late the next day, owing to the ‘freshes.’ * The next occupation for our party was examining and sounding the entrance and bar of the Negro, a task purposely deferred, as being of minor consequence. The mouth of a rapid river like this, subject to floods, and disemboguing at a place exposed to the full force of such a heavy sea as is raised on that coast by a south-east gale, must be frequently changed, as to the detail of its shoals and channels; therefore no plan, however exact at one time, can be depended upon after the lapse of a few years; and no vessel larger than a boat would be justified in attempting to enter without a local pilot, if one can be obtained. In one spot, near Main Point, where a small battery stood in 1826, there were two fathoms water in 1833; and within the same period the deepest water for a few miles within the entrance, changed gradually from the south side to the north. Mr. Darwin was told that the river was called Negro after a cacique of that name; but Falkner asserts that it was so called by the Spaniards, because the aborigines knew it by the name of ‘Cusu Leuvu,’ which means black river.†

* There are two floods annually: one about December or January, caused by snow melted on the Cordillera; and the other about May or June, occasioned by heavy rains in the interior country. These inundations are very variable.

Falkner, p. 79.

In May, June, July, and August, the neighbourhood of this river swarms with wild fowl, which migrate from the south, for the winter, and return there to breed about September. The old people foretell a severe winter when they arrive early, and in greater numbers than usual. In 1833-4 they formed the staple article of food for the inhabitants of Carmen during the winter, as the Indians had deprived them of their cattle; in the summer cavies and ostriches supplied their tables. Hunting is a favourite amusement of the Carmenites. They sally forth in large parties on horseback, attended by a motley crowd of dogs, inclose a large extent of country, contract the circle gradually,* and at last drive a great number of ostriches, wolves, cavies, deer, foxes, and pumas, into a comparatively small space, when the indiscriminate attack commences—balls and lassoes flying in every direction. Many accidents happen to the horses in these hunts, owing to the ground being so undermined, in some places, by the ‘tucutucu,’† a little animal like a small rabbit; but the riders are so skilful, that they generally save themselves, however awkwardly their horses may fall. Pumas are an especial object of attack, not only for the risk attached to encountering them, but because they do so much damage to the young animals of all kinds: they have a peculiar method of instantly killing a young colt by breaking its neck with an adroit blow of one paw, vfhile the poor creature is held fast between the other and a most formidably armed mouth. In 1779 there were numerous herds of cattle and horses near the town of Carmen, but incursions of the Indians have diminished them to but few.

* As in eastern countries.

† This Indian name, gutturally pronounced, expresses the curious sound made by these creatures while under ground—a noise somewhat like the blow of a distant hammer.

During the time of the old Spaniards, after 1783, more than a thousand Indians attacked the settlement at one time. The inhabitants retreated to their caves,* where, defended by strong doors, with loop-holes for musketry, they were safe; but their houses were ransacked and burned, and all their animals driven away. Since that time the frequent predatory excursions of minor parties of Indians have prevented the settlers from again attempting to collect animals in large numbers, seeing that they would assuredly tempt the aborigines to repeat their attacks on a greater scale than ever. The old man, who was one of Villarino's party,† gave Mr. Darwin some information about that expedition, which entirely corroborates the interesting account of Basilio Villarino himself, who made his way, by excellent management, and extreme perseverance, to the foot of the Cordillera, though surrounded by Indians suspicious of his intentions. He managed so dexterously as to make one tribe become his firm friends and assistants; and behaved so well himself, in his own enterprises, as well as in his conduct to those under him, as to have obtained their hearty co-operation during eight long months. But he was soon afterwards savagely murdered by the natives during another exploring expedition.‡ The old man said that Villarino was much guided by the account of an Englishman,^ whose description of the river and Indian country was found to be very accurate. Mr. Darwin heard several anecdotes of the Indians,§ and their attacks upon the Christians (so they term all white men) which interested me very much; but as I suppose they will be found in his volume, it is unnecessary here to do more than allude to them.

* Mentioned in p. 299.

† Bowman of his boat (lancha).

‡ Sir Woodbine Parish has given an abridged translation of Villarino's Diary in the Journal of the R. Geogr. Society for 1836, vol. vi, part ii, pp.136—167.

^ Falkner evidently.

§ Darwin writes of Indian attacks in Chapter IV of his book.

On the 12th May Mr.Usborne, in the Constitucion, anchored in the river, and next day put himself under Mr. Stokes's orders; to whom Lieut. Wickham gave up the charge of this branch of the survey, and then went on board the Constitucion to hasten towards Maldonado. On the 17th all three little vessels sailed, Lieut. Wickham steering for the Plata, and Mr. Stokes for San Blas.

From this time till the Paz and Liebre were discharged, in August,* Mr. Stokes and his party were most zealously occupied between the Negro and Blanco Bay; but time was too fully occupied in the uninteresting, though useful works, of sounding, measuring, observing, and chart-making, to admit of many notices of the country being obtained in addition to those already mentioned; indeed the nature of the coast, almost flat, uninhabited, without trees, and fronted by extensive sandbanks, precluded the possibility of acquiring much information not of a technical nature.

* Already mentioned, p. 288.


CHAPTER XV

Beagle and Adventure sail from Monte Video—Port Desire—Bellaco Rock—Refraction—Port San Julian—Viedma—Drake—Magalhaens—Patagonians—Port Famine—San Sebastian Bay—Woollȳa—Jemmy—Story—Treachery—Oens men—Improvement—Gratitude—Falklands—Events—Capt. Seymour—Search for Murderers—Lieut. Smith—Brisbane—Wreck—Sufferings—Lieutenant Clive—Sail from Falklands

Dec. 6th, 1833. With a supply of provisions and coals,* sufficient for at least nine months, the Beagle and her tender sailed together from Monte Video.

* Wood and water being easily procured in the regions we were going to visit, we carried only a month's store of those essentials.

We first touched at Port Desire (23d Dec), and after passing a very cheerful Christmas-day,* and exploring the inlet to its extremity, the Adventure was left to complete some alterations in her masts and rigging, while the Beagle would survey the coast between Sea Bear Bay {Bahía Oso Marino} § and Port San Julian.

* After noon on the 25th, both crews amused themselves on shore in wrestling, racing, jumping, and various games.

§ The bay is described by Phillip Parker King in Volume I.

The party who went up the inlet were much struck by the wildness and height* of the rocky cliffs which they saw on each side of what appeared to have been the bed of a former river; but could go no further with the yawl than I had been in 1829. This I had foreseen, and therefore Mr. Chaffers, who was in charge of the party, took with him a small dinghy, in which he went on after the yawl was stopped by the mud. Having proceeded two miles further, the prospect changed suddenly; instead of wild glens and precipitous heights of porphyritic rock, low flat banks were seen, covered with rushes near the water, and, further from the stream, with luxuriant pasture. It was almost high water when the dinghy reached this spot and entered a fresh water river about a hundred yards wide, but so shallow that there was only three feet water in the middle. The river narrowed considerably as they ascended, till at the spot where Mr. Chaffers stopped to take sights of the sun, the stream was but forty yards across. In that place the deepest water was three feet at the top of high tide, over a gravelly bottom; but from the level space between the stream and the foot of the nearest hills, about three quarters of a mile, there was reason for supposing that during floods all the valley might be inundated. From a neighbouring hill, four hundred feet in height, the river could be traced several miles further, making a distance of about eight miles seen by our party, in which the water was quite fresh. It was lost to the westward, winding along an irregular break, or cliff-bounded valley, in the distant hills. The only living creature seen, of any size, was a lame horse, feeding near the river. There were no traces whatever of Indians. Having hastened back with the little boat before the river dried† (at half-ebb), Mr. Chaffers ascended another hill; but saw little more excepting an appearance of water to the southward, about which he could not clearly distinguish whether it was a lake, part of a river, or a salt-pond. I have no doubt, that during particular seasons a large body of fresh water is brought down this valley, but I do not think the river rises near the Andes, because there is no drift-wood on its banks, and the Indians say nothing of it when enumerating the rivers which cross the continent.

* About three hundred feet.

† The tide fell more than fourteen feet perpendicularly; but a small brook remained, perhaps a foot deep, winding its course between the uncovered banks.

Jan. 4th, 1834. In working out of Port Desire, the Beagle struck her fore-foot heavily against a rock, so as to shake her fore and aft; but on she went with the tide, and as she made no water, I did not think it worth while returning into port.§ I was instantly convinced that we had hit the very rock on which the Beagle struck in 1829, in the night—a danger we never again could find by daylight till this day, when I was, rather imprudently, going out with the last quarter-ebb.

§ Subsequent inspection for damage is described in the next chapter.

At low-water there are but eight feet on this rock, which is not far from mid-channel, just without the entrance.

We anchored near Watchman Cape, and in other places along the coast, before reaching Port San Julian, and some time was devoted to an examination of the Bellaco Rock and its vicinity, as there is a dangerous reef extending from Watchman Cape towards, but not quite out to the Bellaco.

In my own notes I find this rock mentioned as “almost covered at times, but occasionally showing above water as high as the hull of a ship!” In Mr. Stokes's journal, left with me, it is mentioned in these words: “Passed between the Bellaco Rocks, close to the eastern one, nearly a-wash;” and in the diary of the Nodales' [sic, de Nodals'] § voyage (in 1619), it is spoken of as “una baxa que lababa la mar en ella,” which means, a rock a-wash. The rise of tide there is about twenty feet, which explains the various appearances it had to my eye; for at high water I saw it almost covered, or a-wash; and as the Nodales described it similarly in 1619, there can have been extremely little, if any, change in the relative heights of sea and land in this place during the last two hundred and fifteen years.* Some time ago I thought differently, having formed a hasty opinion upon the fact of my having seen the rock as high out of water as a ship's hull. I did not then consider how much the tide falls, nor did I recollect, till I referred to notes, that I had also seen it a-wash (the top almost level with the water), at times during the many days we were in the neighbourhood.

§ Bartolomè Garcia & Gonzalo de Nodal: Narrative of the Voyage of the Nodals.

* As the larger and eastern rock is about a hundred yards long and eighty wide, with kelp growing on most parts of it, I do not think the top can wear away while so protected by sea-weed.

On the day that Mr. Stokes and myself made our respective notes on the Bellaco (without any communication of opinion), an extraordinary effect of refraction was remarked. The meridian altitude of the sun (then far south) observed at opposite horizons, differed no less than sixteen miles! Similar effects had been noticed before, especially on the Patagonian coast, therefore we generally observed both ways; but to nearly such an extent as this we never either before or afterwards witnessed an error arising wholly from the state of the atmosphere near the horizon; causing the visible water-line to be apparently raised several minutes of a degree. On these occasions we always used the mean of the two results, which agreed closely with the latitude resulting from triangular connection with points on the shore, whose latitude we knew by observations made with the artificial horizon.*

* Bellaco rocks are the same as Estevan shoal. There are at least two distinct masses of rock. A ship may pass between them.

7th. Mr. Stokes and I landed some leagues northward of Port San Julian, near Cape Look-out [Look-out Point in FitzRoy's Table of Positions], and ascended a level-topped range of hills about 300 feet above the sea. The view we obtained was similar to those so tiresomely common in eastern Patagonia. Level, arid, desert-like plains extended to the horizon: a few irregular hills were seen in the distance; some guanacoes and a few ostriches were here and there discerned; a fox crossed our path, and a condor wheeled overhead; nothing more was noticed.

We returned to the low ground near the sea, and there we found plenty of small wood, stunted shrubby trees, fit for fuel; as well as several ponds of fresh-water. The rise of tide on the shore was considerably more than twenty feet, but we had not time to ascertain it accurately.

9th. Mount Wood,* that excellent land-mark for Port San Julian, was seen at daylight: and about noon the Beagle anchored off the bar of the harbour. Mr. Stokes went with me to examine the passage, and before evening our ship was safely moored in the port. This was one, among numerous instances I could mention, where the good qualities of the Beagle, as to sailing and working, saved us days of delay, trouble, and anxiety. All hands immediately set-to about the plan of the port, and such efficient officers as were with me made short work of it. One day Mr. Darwin and I undertook an excursion in search of fresh-water, to the head of the inlet, and towards a place marked in an old Spanish plan, “pozos de agua dulce;” but after a very fatiguing walk not a drop of water could be found. I lay down on the top of a hill, too tired and thirsty to move farther, seeing two lakes of water, as we thought, about two miles off, but unable to reach them. Mr. Darwin, more accustomed than the men, or myself, to long excursions on shore, thought he could get to the lakes, and went to try. We watched him anxiously from the top of the hill,† saw him stoop down at the lake, but immediately leave it and go on to another, that also he quitted without delay, and we knew by his slow returning pace that the apparent lakes were ‘salinas.’ We then had no alternative but to return, if we could, so descending to meet him at one side of the height, we all turned eastward and trudged along heavily enough. The day had been so hot that our little stock of water was soon exhausted, and we were all more or less laden with instruments, ammunition, or weapons. About dusk I could move no farther, having foolishly carried a heavy double-barrelled gun all day besides instruments, so, choosing a place which could be found again, I sent the party on and lay down to sleep; one man, the most tired next to myself, staying with me. A glass of water would have made me quite fresh, but it was not to be had. After some hours, two of my boat's crew returned with water, and we were very soon revived. Towards morning we all got on board, and no one suffered afterwards from the over-fatigue, except Mr. Darwin, who had had no rest during the whole of that thirsty day—now a matter of amusement, but at the time a very serious affair.

* Nine hundred and fifty feet high.

† Named in the plan ‘Thirsty Hill.’ §

§ FitzRoy does not give coordinates for Thirsty Hill in his Table of Positions. Nor does he identify “the plan,” which is his unpublished Chart L296: Port San Julian from HMS Beagle 1834. (Double-click “Lake{s?} visited by Darwin” for close-up view.) Furthermore, it's interesting to compare FitzRoy's account with Darwin's:

FitzRoyDarwin
I lay down on the top of a hill, too tired and thirsty to move farther, seeing two lakes of water, as we thought, about two miles off, but unable to reach them. Mr. Darwin … thought he could get to the lakes, and went to try. From the summit of a hill … a fine lake was spied, and two of the party proceeded with concerted signals to show whether it was fresh water.

Note that FitzRoy mentions two lakes, and that Darwin (presumably, alone) went to them. By contrast Darwin states that two men went to “a fine lake” (note singular), and in context it seems he was not one of them.

Sir Woodbine Parish intends to publish a description of the Spanish settlements on these shores, in which no doubt Viedma's, at Port San Julian, will have place. A full account of it, in the original language, may be found in the diary of Antonio de Viedma, published at Buenos Ayres, in 1837, by Don Pedro de Angelis. Finding no water near the harbour except after rain, which is there rare, Viedma pitched his tents some leagues inland, near a spring frequented by the Indians, but their doubtful friendship, the progress of scurvy among his own people, their discontent at such a situation, and other reasons, inclined the Spanish viceroy to withdraw the settlement. This dreary port, difficult of access and inhospitable even when the stranger is within its entrance, is well known to readers of early voyages as the place where Magalhaens so summarily quelled a serious mutiny, and conspiracy against his own life, by causing the two principal offenders, captains of ships in the squadron, to be put to death:* and as the scene of the unfortunate Doughtie's mock trial and unjust execution.† That two such remarkable expeditions as those of Magalhaens and Drake should have wintered at Port San Julian, and that two such tragedies should have occurred there is remarkable. In the plan of that port we now see Execution Island, Isle of True Justice, (injustice ?)§ and Tomb Point: the two former being names given by Drake.‡ One naturally asks how their ships obtained water, and the answers occurring to me are,—that they were there in the winter season, when the rain which falls is not soon dried up; and that they may have dug wells, which we did not think it worth while to do, having no time to spare. 15th. A French whaler came in over the bar, at high water, without having sounded it, or knowing what depth she would find. The only instance of similar folly I have witnessed was that of a sealing schooner which I met near Port Famine, whose master had taken her through Possession Bay and both Narrows, without knowing that the tide rose and fell there more than six or seven feet, and without a chart of the Strait. When I told this man that the tide rose six or seven fathoms at the First Narrow, he certainly did not believe me. The bar of San Julian is shingle (or gravel), and often altered in form by south-east gales or unusual tides. Under ordinary circumstances the tide rises thirty feet at full moon.

* 1520.

† Drake's Voyage, 1578.

§ The attribution of the first two names is as follows:

Execution Island: There is no known record of Drake naming this island, and FitzRoy does not identify his “plan of that port,” which is in fact his unpublished Port San Julian Chart. Contrary to FitzRoy's statement above, the chart identifies Execution Island and Tomb Point, but not the Isle of True Justice.
 
Isle of True Justice: Drake's nephew—also named Francis Drake—wrote of the island where Doughty was tried and executed that “ … afterwards, in memory hereof was called, the Iland of True justice and judgement (In The World Encompassed …, p. 31).

‡ And the latter a memento of Lieut. Sholl, of the Beagle, (vol. I.)

19th. Sailed, and, for once during our experience of these shores, found a heavy swell setting in from the east.*

* I think that this easterly swell must have been caused by a southeast gale, though it came to us from the east.

On the 20th we anchored again in Port Desire, and our first employment was to look for the rock whose top (Mr. May assured me with a grave face) we had knocked off with our keel.

22d. Both vessels sailed, and at sunset the Adventure parted company, steering for New Island in the Falklands. Lieutenant Wickham was to make a connected survey of the coast of that archipelago, while the Beagle was in other places.* After giving some time to sounding and examining portions of ground in the neighbourhood of Cape Virgins and the eastern entrance of Magalhaens' Strait, we passed the First Narrow and anchored in Gregory Bay. There, of course, we had an interview with old Maria and her party. They received us kindly, but with some form, being assembled and seated on the ground near our landing place, with two men standing up in the midst of them, who looked immoveably grave and stupidly dignified. These men were acting as caciques, Maria said, the real chiefs being absent. They were stripped to the waist, and the upper parts of their bodies spotted with white paint.† The rest of the people were dressed as usual. An active barter commenced, but the portly actors in the middle did not take part in it, they remained in their solemnity till we left them.

* Appendix, No. 18.

† Much as a piece of new knotty wood is spotted with white lead before it receives a coat of paint.

On the 2d of February we anchored in Port Famine, and on the 10th, having obtained chronometric observations for which I went there, we sailed for the neighbourhood of the First Narrow and Lomas Bay (near Point Catherine). We often anchored thereabouts in the prosecution of our work.

On the 17th, as we ran along the curious spit or bank of shingle that fronts San Sebastian Bay, I really could not tell, though I had been in that bay before, whether I had not been deceived as to no channel existing,* so well defined and distinct did a wide opening appear. A few more minutes, however, undeceived me: I discerned low flat land stretching along the western horizon: and soon afterwards we anchored in the bay. The following week was occupied in surveying the north-eastern shore of Tierra del Fuego, which, except San Sebastian Bay, does not contain a port. San Vicente Cove is not worth notice as a harbour.

* Vol. I. p. 457-8.

On the 25th, we anchored at the Hermite Islands, on the north-east side of Wollaston Island. Thence, on the 27th, we crossed Nassau Bay to Goree Road, and the following day entered the Beagle Channel .

The 1st of March passed in replenishing our wood and water at a cove, where we had an opportunity of making acquaintance with some Yapoo Tekeenica natives, who seemed not to have met white men before.§

§ In Chapter X, FitzRoy named a “Cutfinger Cove” just west of the eastern entrance to the Beagle Channel. In the sentences immediately above, they have “… entered the Beagle Channel” and are now at a place identified simply as “a cove.” In context, this suggests it is not the earlier Cutfinger Cove, but rather some other cove nearby. He reports meeting some Yapoo Tekeenica natives here, which further suggests this may be the place cited in the caption beneath the frontispiece engraving of a “Fuegian (Yapoo Tekeenica) at Portrait Cove.” However, the “Part of Tierra del Fuego” chart in his Narrative places Portrait Cove on the east coast of Navarin Island, well before the entrance to the Beagle Channel. In view of the apparently contradictory information, it is assumed here that Portrait Cove is in fact within the Beagle Channel, and not at the place indicated on the chart.
Also see On the Locations of Cutfinger and Portrait Coves for more details about both cove locations.

Till the 5th the Beagle was actively occupied, by day, in working to windward (westward) through the channel, and then she anchored at Woollȳa [Woolya in Table]. But few natives were seen as we sailed along: probably they were alarmed at the ship, and did not show themselves. The wigwams in which I had left York, Jemmy, and Fuegia, were found empty, though uninjured: the garden had been trampled over, but some turnips and potatoes of moderate size were pulled up by us, and eaten at my table, a proof that they may be grown in that region. Not a living soul was visible any where; the wigwams seemed to have been deserted many months; and an anxious hour or two passed, after the ship was moored, before three canoes were seen in the offing, paddling hastily towards us, from the place now called Button Island. Looking through a glass I saw that two of the natives in them were washing their faces, while the rest were paddling with might and main: I was then sure that some of our acquaintances were there, and in a few minutes recognized Tommy Button, Jemmy's brother. In the other canoe was a face which I knew yet could not name. “It must be some one I have seen before,” said I,—when his sharp eye detected me, and a sudden movement of the hand to his head (as a sailor touches his hat) at once told me it was indeed Jemmy Button—but how altered! I could hardly restrain my feelings, and I was not, by any means, the only one so touched by his squalid miserable appearance. He was naked, like his companions, except a bit of skin about his loins; his hair was long and matted, just like theirs; he was wretchedly thin, and his eyes were affected by smoke. We hurried him below, clothed him immediately, and in half an hour he was sitting with me at dinner in my cabin, using his knife and fork properly, and in every way behaving as correctly as if he had never left us. He spoke as much English as ever, and, to our astonishment, his companions, his wife, his brothers and their wives, mixed broken English words in their talking with him. Jemmy recollected every one well, and was very glad to see them all, especially Mr. Bynoe and James Bennett. I thought he was ill, but he surprised me by saying that he was “hearty, sir, never better,”* that he had not been ill, even for a day, was happy and contented, and had no wish whatever to change his way of life. He said that he got “plenty fruits,”† “plenty birdies,” “ten guanaco in snow time,” and “too much fish.” Besides, though he said nothing about her, I soon heard that there was a good-looking‡ young woman in his canoe, who was said to be his wife. Directly this became known, shawls, handkerchiefs, and a gold-laced cap appeared, with which she was speedily decorated; but fears had been excited for her husband's safe return to her, and no finery could stop her crying until Jemmy again showed himself on deck. While he was below, his brother Tommy called out in a loud tone—“Jemmy Button, canoe, come!” After some time the three canoes went ashore, laden with presents, and their owners promised to come again early next morning. Jemmy gave a fine otter skin to me, which he had dressed and kept purposely; another he gave to Bennett.

* A favourite saying of his, formerly.

† Excrescences on the birch trees, and berries,

‡ For a Fuegian,

Next morning Jemmy shared my breakfast, and then we had a long conversation by ourselves; the result of which was, that I felt quite decided not to make a second attempt to place Matthews among the natives of Tierra del Fuego. Jemmy told me that he knew very little of his own language; that he spoke some words of English, and some Tekeenica, when he talked to his family; and that they all understood the English words he used. York and Fuegia left him some months before our arrival, and went in a large canoe to their own country; the last act of that cunning fellow was to rob poor Jemmy of all his clothes; nearly all the tools his Tekeenica ‘friends’ had left him; and various other necessaries. Fuegia was dressed as usual, and looking well, when they decamped: her helpmate was also well clothed, and had hardly lost anything I left with him. Jemmy said “York very much jaw,” “pick up big stones,” “all men afraid.” Fuegia seemed to be very happy, and quite contented with her lot. Jemmy asserted that she helped to “catch (steal) his clothes,” while he was asleep, the night before York left him naked.

Not long after my departure in Febuary 1833, the much-dreaded Oens-men came in numbers, overland, to Woollȳa; obliged Jemmy's tribe to escape to the small islands, and carried off every valuable which his party had not time to remove. They had doubtless heard of the houses and property left there, and hastened to seize upon it—like other‘borderers.’ Until this time York had appeared to be settled, and quite at ease, but he had been employed about a suspiciously large canoe, just finished when the inroad was made. He saved this canoe, indeed escaped in it, and afterwards induced Jemmy and his family to accompany him “to look at his land.” They went together in four canoes (York's large one and three others) as far west as Devil Island, at the junction of the north-west and south-west arms of the Beagle Channel: there they met York's brother and some others of the Alikhoolip tribe; and, while Jemmy was asleep, all the Alikhoolip party stole off, taking nearly all Jemmy's things, and leaving him in his original condition. York's fine canoe was evidently not built for transporting himself alone; neither was the meeting with his brother accidental. I am now quite sure that from the time of his changing his mind, and desiring to be placed at Woollȳa, with Matthews and Jemmy, he meditated taking a good opportunity of possessing himself of every thing; and that he thought, if he were left in his own country without Matthews, he would not have many things given to him, neither would he know where he might afterwards look for and plunder poor Jemmy.

While Mr. Bynoe was walking about on shore, Jemmy and his brother pointed out to him the places where our tents were pitched in 1833, where the boundary line was, and where any particular occurrence happened. He told Mr. Bynoe that he had watched day after day for the sprouting of the peas, beans, and other vegetables, but that his countrymen walked over them without heeding any thing he said. The large wigwams which we had erected with some labour, proved to be cold in the winter, because they were too high; therefore they had been deserted after the first frosts. Since the last depredations of the Oens-men, he had not ventured to live any longer at Woollȳa; his own island, as he called it, affording safer refuge and sufficient food.

Jemmy told us that these Oens-men crossed over the Beagle Channel, from eastern Tierra del Fuego, in canoes which they seized from the Yapoo Tekeenica. To avoid being separated they fastened several canoes together, crossed over in a body, and when once landed, travelled over-land and came upon his people by surprise, from the heights behind Woollȳa. Jemmy asserted that he had himself killed one of his antagonists. It was generally remarked that his family were become considerably more humanized than any savages we had seen in Tierra del Fuego: that they put confidence in us; were pleased by our return; that they were ready to do what we could explain to be for their interest; and, in short, that the first step towards civilization—that of obtaining their confidence—was undoubtedly made: but an individual, with limited means, could not then go farther. The whole scheme, with respect to establishing a missionary with the Fuegians who were in England, among their countrymen, was on too small a scale, although so earnestly assisted by Mr. Wilson,* Mr. Wigram, Mr. Coates, and other kind friends.

* Of Walthamstow.

I cannot help still hoping that some benefit, however slight, may result from the intercourse of these people, Jemmy, York, and Fuegia, with other natives of Tierra del Fuego. Perhaps a ship-wrecked seaman may hereafter receive help and kind treatment from Jemmy Button's children; prompted, as they can hardly fail to be, by the traditions they will have heard of men of other lands; and by an idea, however faint, of their duty to God as well as their neighbour.

That Jemmy felt sincere gratitude is, I think, proved by his having so carefully preserved two fine otter skins, as I mentioned; by his asking me to carry a bow and quiver full of arrows to the schoolmaster of Walthamstow, with whom he had lived; by his having made two spear-heads expressly for Mr. Darwin; and by the pleasure he showed at seeing us all again. As nothing more could be done, we took leave of our young friend and his family, every one of whom was loaded with presents, and sailed away from Woollȳa.

On the 9th of March we were off Beauchesne Island.* Many persons have fancied that there are two islands near together in that place, having been deceived by two hummocks on the only island, which from a distance show just above the horizon like two islets. Next day we anchored in Berkeley Sound; first in Johnson Cove, and afterwards in Port Louis.

* Near [south of] the Falklands.

We found a state of affairs somewhat different from that of March 1833; but though more settled, in consequence of the presence of an established authority, resident at Port Louis (a lieutenant in the navy), my worst forebodings had not equalled the sad reality.

In a note to page 240, I alluded to the murder of the Buenos Ayrean commanding officer; and to that of Mr. Brisbane. A few weeks before the Clio arrived in 1833, there was a small garrison at Port Louis, consisting of a sergeant's guard of soldiers, a subaltern, and a field officer. The men mutinied because their superior was thought to be unnecessarily severe, and occupied them unceasingly in drill and parade, to the prejudice of their obtaining food sufficient for health. They were obliged, in consequence of his system, to live upon worse fare than the settlers, because they could not go about to forage for themselves; and the result was that, after many threats, they murdered him. A small armed schooner* arrived a few days afterwards from Buenos Ayres, by whose officers and crew, assisted by some French sailors, the principal mutineers, nine in number, were taken and put into confinement on board. They were afterwards carried to Buenos Ayres.

* Sarandi.

On the 26th of August 1833, three ‘gauchos’ and five Indians* (the prisoners before mentioned), set upon and murdered Mr. Brisbane; Dickson, the man in charge of Vernet's store; † Simon, the capataz; the poor German; and another settler; after which atrocious acts they plundered the settlement and drove all the cattle and horses into the interior. Only that morning Mr. Low, who was then living with Mr. Brisbane, left Port Louis on a sealing excursion, with four men. Hardly was his boat out of sight, when the deceitful villains attacked Brisbane in Vernet's house: suspecting no treachery, he fell at once by the knife of Antonio Rivero. Simon defended himself desperately but was overpowered; the others, overcome by fear, fell easy victims. The rest of the settlers, consisting of thirteen men, three women, and two children, remained with the murderers two days, and then escaped to a small island in the Sound; where they lived on birds' eggs and fish, till the arrival of the English sealer Hopeful, ‡ on board which was an officer of the navy, ^ who in some measure relieved their immediate distress, but could not delay to protect them from the assaults which they anticipated. About a month after the Hopeful sailed, H.M.S. Challenger, Captain M. Seymour, arrived, having a lieutenant of the navy and four seamen on board, who had volunteered from H.M.S. Tyne, and were duly authorized to remain at the Falklands. The following extract from a letter will show what took place on Captain Seymour's arrival.

* Antonio Rivero, J. M. Luna, M. Godoy,—J.Brasido, M. Gonzales, L. Flores, F. Salazar, M. Lattore.

P. 240. [a repetition of his “note to page 240” above.]

‡ Nov. 1833.

^ Mr. Rea. The Hopeful belonged to Messrs. Enderby.

“Captain Seymour, and the consuls, being anxious to visit the settlement of Port Louis, landed some distance from it (the wind being strong from S.S.W.), intending to walk there. About a mile from the houses they were met by an Englishman named Channon, sent by the gauchoes to see who they were, and whether the ship was a whaler in want of beef, or a man-of-war. He informed them that the gauchoes and Indians had murdered Mr. Brisbane: Dickson, who had been left in charge of the flag by Captain Onslow: Simon; and two others: and had pillaged the houses, destroying every thing in their search for money. He then pointed them out, sitting under a wall, with their horses behind the remains of the government house, ready saddled for a start on our nearer approach. They had two gauchoes, prisoners, who had not been concerned in the murders, and whom they threatened to kill, if he, Channon, did not return. He also stated that one of them was willing to turn king's evidence, and would bring back all the horses, if possible, provided Captain Seymour would ensure his pardon. The whole of them, nine in number, retreated into the interior as soon as they found out it was a ship of war, taking all the tame horses, between fifty and sixty.* As his party were not armed, Captain Seymour thought it right to return on board; but after dark, Lieutenant Smith was sent with a party of marines, and two boats, to try and take them, if they should be still about the houses, and to leave with Channon a bottle containing a crucifix, as a signal for Luna.† On their landing, Lieutenant Smith took all necessary precautions, left six men in charge of the boats, and proceeded cautiously with the rest. He carefully searched every building in the place, without seeing even a trace of them. All was desolation; yet he learned afterwards from the two innocent gauchoes, that Antonio Rivero and another, suspecting who the party were, had watched them closely: that at one time Lieut. Smith was near treading on them; which seemed hardly credible, until the arrangements made on landing, the marching in Indian file to hide his men, &c. were mentioned. Mr. Smith left with Channon Luna's pardon, who, on the fourth day, brought in two horses—not having been able to obtain more, as the murderers were very watchful and fearful of each other, so much so, that one of them had fallen a sacrifice to suspicion; and Luna's desertion reduced their number to six. With Luna for their guide, on the sixth day Lieut. Smith, four midshipmen and twelve marines, were despatched into the interior. They were absent four days, and marched more than a hundred miles, enduring much fatigue, which was increased by the boisterous state of the weather, and by continual rain for three out of the four days. Water in ravines, which on going out hardly rose above their ankles, on their return had increased to torrents: in crossing them some nearly lost their lives, and on the bleak moors they sunk at every step knee-deep in bog.

* Thirteen men and three women had escaped to an island in the Sound, as they could do nothing against the murderers, who had all the arms.

† The gaucho who offered to become king's evidence.

Without sleep or shelter, they lived for the last two days on beef just warmed through, by fires that it took hours to kindle. They were not successful in capturing any of the murderers, but at one time were so near, that they had the mortification to see them drive their horses away at a gallop, and having all the tame ones but two, they were quickly out of reach of musket-shot. So hasty however was their retreat, that they left their provisions behind them. Captain Seymour finding that capturing the Indians would be a tedious and uncertain task, made one of the ruined houses habitable, and leaving six marines as an additional protection to Lieut. Smith and his boat's crew, proceeded as ordered. The lieutenant endeavoured to make his abode comfortable, by clearing away rubbish and bones, and putting a garden into some order. With the two horses he succeeded in catching and taming two cows, which gave about two gallons of milk daily, besides fourteen others, five or six of which were in calf. By one means or other all but one of the murderers were taken, and a cutter was hired to remove them to the flag-ship at Rio de Janeiro.”

Before the Beagle's arrival Lieut. Smith had succeeded in capturing the principal murderer, and transporting him to an islet in the Sound, where he was watched, and furnished with provisions by the boat's crew. The lieutenant applied to me for assistance, and knowing that he was not safe while such a desperate character as Rivero was at large, though on an islet, and that the life of Luna (the king's evidence) was still more risked, I took those men, and one named Channon, who was said to have been an accomplice in the plot, though not an active agent, on board the Beagle. Rivero was put in irons, Channon confined to the ship, and Luna left at liberty, though watched.

When Mr. Low returned from his sealing expedition he found that his life was sought, as a friend of Mr. Brisbane; and as he could do nothing on foot against the mounted gauchoes, he retired to Kidney Islet, at the entrance of Berkeley Sound, to await the arrival of some ship. Tired, however, of inaction, he set out to go westward, in search of some whaler, and on the 6th of February, when in great distress, he fell in with our tender, the Adventure, and immediately offered his services as a pilot: they were accepted, provisionally, by Lieut. Wickham, and afterwards by me, trusting that the Admiralty would approve of my so engaging a person who, in pilotage and general information about the Falklands, Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia, and the Galapagos Islands, could afford us more information than any other individual, without exception.

Mr. William Low is the son of a respectable land-agent in Scotland; he was brought up as a sailor, and possesses strong common sense, quick apprehension, a readiness at description, and an extraordinary local memory.

On the 13th the Adventure arrived: she had almost completed her examination of the west, south, and south-east outer coasts, in a very satisfactory manner, having been greatly forwarded and helped by Mr. Low's minute acquaintance with every port, and almost every danger. Our tender sailed to continue her coasting examination on the 21st. She returned on the 26th, and sailed again on the 30th. Meanwhile our own boats were constantly occupied in and near Berkeley Sound and Port William.

When I visited the settlement it looked more melancholy than ever; and at two hundred yards' distance from the house in which he had lived, I found, to my horror, the feet of poor Brisbane protruding above the ground. So shallow was his grave that dogs had disturbed his mortal remains, and had fed upon the corpse. This was the fate of an honest, industrious, and most faithful man: of a man who feared no danger, and despised hardships. He was murdered by villains, because he defended the property of his friend; he was mangled by them to satisfy their hellish spite; dragged by a lasso, at a horse's heels, away from the houses, and left to be eaten by dogs. Besides my own acquaintance with him and opinions derived from the personal knowledge of the Beagle's officers, some of whom had known Brisbane when his vessel, the Saxe Cobourg, was wrecked in Fury Harbour (owing to no fault of his), Mr. Weddell bears testimony to his character on many occasions, particularly by an observation in page 48 (Weddell's Voyage), where he says, “I had full confidence in the care and ability of Mr. Brisbane.” (1823.)

In 1830 Mr. Brisbane was wrecked on the eastern coast of Tierra del Fuego, near Policarpo Cove, (54° 38' S.), when sealing there in partnership with Mr. Bray, who afterwards commanded the sealing schooner ‘Transport,’ lost in 1833, at Hope Harbour. I have a copy of their log in my possession, from which the following extracts are selected, to show with what enduring patience some of those hardy sealers bear misfortune and distress.

“Feb. 23d. Employed saving things from the wreck: six Indians came to us. 24th. Twenty-five Indians came, with their women and children. 25th. Another visit from natives: men, women, and children. 26th. Indians began to be very troublesome. 27th. Forty Indians came to us, all armed with bows, arrows, and slings, without women or children. Some of our people employed in building a shallop out of the wreck. 28th. More Indians, with twelve strong women and eighteen children: but unarmed on this day.

“March 1st. More Indian visitors. 2d. Fifty-one natives, armed.” To the 9th the crew continued to build their shallop, and were almost daily visited by natives, whom two-thirds of the party were obliged to watch with arms in their hands. On the 21st sixty-one natives visited them (these Indians always went away before dusk). On the 23d the time of high-water was observed to be 4h. 40m, and the rise seventeen feet, during moderate westerly wind and settled weather. Mr. Brisbane made the latitude, by observation, 54° 38' S. and the longitude he estimated at 65° 30'. W. “29th. Much troubled every day by natives, who tried to steal our tools; and hard pressed by hunger.§ No supper(a) the last three days.

§ For reasons unknown, FitzRoy uses letters (a, b, c, d) to indicate the next four footnotes—each signed R. F.

(a) Supper was their principal meal; as during the day, while the Indians were about, they had no time to cook or eat. R. F.

“2d April. Four long guns were found to the eastward, lying on a piece of the forecastle of some large ship, supposed to be a large frigate(b), also two leaden hawse pipes attached to the woodwork. 8th. A large party of Indians, who were plaguing us, quarrelled among themselves, and had a severe fight. 9th. Our last remainder of provisions finished. 15th. Employed caulking the shallop's deck, and getting limpets from the rocks. N. B. Almost starving. 17th. Not being troubled to-day by natives, and the sea being smooth, went out in a little boat which we had saved, and caught eleven skate.”

(b) Perhaps the O'Higgins—(Chilian). R. F.

After this day several fish were caught at times, which, with shell-fish, afforded a scanty subsistence; but before this time they had been reduced to eating hide, and half putrid blubber, which they got by barter from the Indians. Mr. Bray, as well as Brisbane, told me that hunger and anxiety so wore and excited them, that they could seldom sleep more than an hour or two at night, though working all day, while they were so hard pressed for food.

“22d. Launched the shallop, or rather, hauled her down at low water, and let her float. 24th. Indians more troublesome than ever; obliged to fire at them repeatedly. 27th. Almost starved, eating bullock's hide. 30th. Nothing to eat but bullock's hide and berries. Could not get the shallop over the reef because of a heavy surf.

“May 1st. Got out to sea; found the shallop leak very much: nothing to eat but hide. 2d. Lat. 54° 00' Long. east. 63° 50'. 5th. Made Cape Meredith (in the Falklands), but could not get near for want of wind. 6th. Two men gave out(c) for want of food: they had gone six days with but one pound of hide. 7th. A heavy gale; the shallop under bare poles, and almost sinking; sea making a clear breach over her; men quite worn out by constant pumping and baling, and by want of food: we had a very hard job to keep her from sinking: at dusk saw land through the rain and spray, half a mile to leeward; showed the head of the jib, and bore away right before the wind for the nearest part: saw a cove, ran into it, and anchored. Killed numbers of geese; thanked God for our safety. 11th. Many of our men ill from the sudden change. 17th. Went ashore in Pleasant Harbour; saw a great number of cattle; the dog caught two of them, and held them for us to kill.(d) 30th of May. Anchored in Port Louis, landed, and hauled the shallop ashore at high-water.”

(c) Could work no longer. R. F.

(d) Seized them by the lip. He was a large, strong animal, between a bull-dog and a mastiff. R. F.

The vessel in which Brisbane and Bray were wrecked, was driven ashore in a northerly gale, while sealing near Policarpo Cove. Their crew consisted of about twenty men, most of whom had fire-arms, and plenty of ammunition. Though it will swell yet more the catalogue of his disasters, I must add that Brisbane was once wrecked on South Georgia, and escaped thence to Monte Video in a shallop, which he and his companions in distress built out of the wreck of their sealing vessel.

I have now by me two of the tools, almost the only ones, which they had to use: one is a cooper's adze, nearly worn down to the middle; and the other a saw, made out of a piece of iron hoop, fixed to a wooden frame.

6th April. While the Beagle was preparing for sea the body of Lieut. Clive,* late of H. M. S. Challenger, was found lying at high-water mark, in an unfrequented part of Berkeley Sound; and the following morning I buried it in a grave on shore, not far from the tomb of our regretted shipmate Hellyer. After noon, on the same day, we sailed from the Falklands, depressed more than ever by the numerous sad associations connected with their name.

* Lieut. Clive was drowned accidentally, by the upsetting of a small boat:—his body could not then be found.


CHAPTER XVI

Soundings—Anchor in Santa Cruz—Lay Beagle ashore for repair—Prepare to ascend river—Set out—View of surrounding country—Rapid stream—Cold—Ostriches—Guanacoes—Indians—Fish—Cliffs—Firewood—Lava Cliffs—Difficulties—Chalia—See Andes—Farthest West—View round—Return—Danger—Guanaco hunters—Puma—Cat—Tides—Sail from Santa Cruz

In working to the westward from Berkeley Sound to the River Santa Cruz, we sounded frequently, and found that the depth is nowhere much above one hundred fathoms between those places. But the water is not of so little depth between the Falklands and Cape Virgins, or Tierra del Fuego; for there we could not strike soundings in some places, towards the islands, with one hundred and fifty fathoms of line.

On the 13th we anchored in the Santa Cruz, and immediately prepared to lay our vessel ashore for a tide, to ascertain how much injury had been caused by the rock at Port Desire, and to examine the copper previous to her employment in the Pacific Ocean, where worms soon eat their way through unprotected planks. (16th.) When on the beach, at a place we afterwards called ‘Keel Point,’ it was found that a piece of the false keel under the ‘fore-foot,’ had been knocked off, and that a few sheets of copper were a good deal rubbed. By Mr. May's exertions all was repaired in one tide; and the following day we were making preparations for an excursion up the river.

17th. An examination, or rather a partial exploring, of the River Santa Cruz had long been meditated. During the former voyage of the Beagle, Captain Stokes had ascended the rapid current as far as a heavy boat could be taken; but his account served only to stimulate our curiosity, and decided my following his example.

Three light boats were prepared (whale-boats strengthened), as much provision as they could stow with safety was put into them, and a party of officers and men selected. Lieut. Sulivan, having to take charge of the ship during our absence, could not go; neither could Mr. Stewart, or Mr. King, who were required to attend to duties on board; but Mr. Darwin, Mr. Chaffers, Mr. Stokes, Mr. Bynoe, Mr. Mellersh, Mr. Martens, and eighteen seamen and marines prepared to accompany me.

Chart facing p. 339. Islet Reach at 69° W. 50° S.

Early on the 18th we left the Beagle, § and with a favouring wind and flood tide sailed up the estuary, into which the river flows. This wide and turbid estuary receives a torrent which rushes through a confined opening into the ocean, during seven hours, and is opposed and driven back by the flood tide during about five hours of the twelve. On each side of both the estuary and river lie extensive plains of arid desert land: these plains are not, however, on the same level; for, on the northern bank the land is very little raised above the level of high spring tides; while, on the southern side of the river, high, perpendicular cliffs form a striking contrast: but after ascending these heights, by any of the ravines which intersect them, one finds a dead level expanse, similar in every respect to that on the northern shore. In the horizon, another ‘steppe,’ or parallel plain, at a higher elevation, is seen; which, at a distance, appears like a range of hills of equal height.

§ The Rio Santa Cruz expedition is also seen in a Google Earth 3D view. Hover mouse pointer over “Info” button for more details.

Excepting in the porphyry districts, all the eastern coasts of Patagonia, and the little of the interior which I have seen, seemed to me to be a similar succession of horizontal ranges of level land varying in height, intersected here and there by ravines and water-courses. There are, certainly, hills in many places which appear when one is passing at sea, or in the distance, conical, or at all events peaked; but even those hills are but the gable ends, as it were, of narrow horizontal ridges of land, higher than the surrounding country.

The cliffs on the south side of the river have a whitish appearance; and are similar to those on the outer coast, which were said by Sir John Narborough to resemble the coast of Kent.§ Their upper outline, when seen from a distance, is quite horizontal. Brownish yellow is the prevailing colour, lighter or darker, as the sun shines more, or becomes obscured. Here and there, in hollow places and ravines, a few shrubby bushes are seen. But over the wide desolation of the stony barren waste not a tree—not even a solitary ‘ombu’*—can be discerned. Scattered herds of ever-wary guanacoes, startled at man's approach, neighing, stamping, and tossing their elegant heads; a few ostriches striding along in the distant horizon, and here and there a solitary condor soaring in the sky, are the only objects which attract the eye. Certainly, upon looking closely, some withered shrubs and a yellow kind of herbage may be discerned; and, in walking, thorns and prickles assure one painfully that the plain is not actually a desert: but I am quite sure that the general impression upon the mind is that of utter hopeless sterility. Is it not remarkable that water-worn shingle stones, and diluvial accumulations, compose the greater portion of these plains? On how vast a scale, and of what duration must have been the action of those waters which smoothed the shingle stones now buried in the deserts of Patagonia.

§ No such resemblance can be found in Narbrough's Journal.

* A kind of elder, growing here and there in Patagonia and the Pampas. See page 93.

Fresh water is seldom found in these wastes; salinas* are numerous. The climate is delightful to the bodily sensations; but for productions of the earth, it is almost as bad as any, except that of the Arabian, or African deserts. Rain is seldom known during three quarters of the year; and even in the three winter months, when it may be expected, but little falls excepting on rare occasions, when it comes down heavily for two or three days in succession. Sea winds sometimes bring small misty rain for a few hours, at any time of year, but not enough to do good to vegetable productions. The only animals which abound are guanacoes, and they care little for fresh water, for they have often been seen drinking at the salinas. The puma probably quenches its thirst in their blood; of other animals, supposed to require much liquid, there are none in these regions.

* Salt depositions or incrustations.

The climate is healthy and pleasant; generally a bright, sunny day is succeeded by a cloudless and extremely clear night. In summer the heat is scorching, but not sultry; and in winter, though the weather is sometimes searchingly cold, especially during southerly winds, the air is always elastic and wholesome. Changes of wind are sudden, and cause rapid, though not very great, variations of temperature. Sometimes the sky is slightly or partially overcast, occasionally clouded heavily; but on most days there is bright sunshine, and a fresh or strong westerly wind.

The confluence of a continental torrent of fresh water, with great tides of the ocean, which here rise forty feet perpendicularly, has embarrassed the mouth of the Santa Cruz with a number of banks. They are all composed of shingle and mud, and alter their forms and positions when affected by river-floods, or by the heavy seas caused by south-east gales.

Into the entrance of the Santa Cruz, the flood-tide sets about four knots an hour; one may say, from two to five knots, according to the time of tide, and the narrower or broader part of the opening; and outwards, the water rushes at least six knots on an average in mid-channel. There are places in which at times, when acted upon by wind or unusual floods, it runs with a velocity of not less than seven or eight knots an hour—perhaps even more; but near either shore, and in bights between projecting points, of course the strength of the outward as well as inward current is very inferior.

In such a bight, almost under some high cliffs on the southern shore, the Beagle was moored, and it is easy to conceive the different views presented in this situation, with forty feet change in the level of the water. At high water, a noble river, unimpeded, moves quietly, or is scarcely in motion: at other times, a rushing torrent struggles amongst numerous banks, whose dark colour and dismal appearance add to the effect of the turbid yellow water, and naked-looking, black, muddy shores.

The boats sailed on between some of the banks, with a fresh southerly wind, disturbing every where immense flights of sea-birds. Now and then a monstrous sea-lion lifted his unwieldy bulk a few inches from the stony bank, lazily looked around, and with a snort and a growl, threw his huge shapelessness, by a floundering waddle, towards the nearest water.

As far as Weddell's Bluff   * § we sailed merrily; but there took to the oars, because the river makes a sudden turn, or rather, the river Santa Cruz (properly so called), enters the estuary of the same name from the south-west, as far as can be seen from Weddell's Bluff:—but a little beyond where the eye reaches, it takes a westerly direction. Another river, the Chico of Viedma, also enters the estuary at this place from the north-west. Here, a little above the Bluff, the water was fresh on the surface, and sometimes it is quite fresh, even into the estuary; but in filling casks, or dipping any thing into the stream for fresh water, it is advisable not to dip deep, or to let the hose (if one is used), go many inches below the surface, since it often happens that the upper water is quite fresh, while that underneath is salt. This occurs, more or less, in all rivers which empty themselves into the sea: the fresh water, specifically lighter, is always uppermost.

* Named after the enterprizing southern navigator [James Weddell].

§ Not to be confused with FitzRoy's Cape Weddell, which is listed in his Table of Positions. The Bluff is not.

Wind failing us entirely, we pulled to the south-west. On our left, high cliffs still continued, and at their base a wide shingle beach offered tempting landing-places, with many spots extremely well adapted for laying a vessel ashore, to be repaired or cleaned; on our right, a low shore extended, rising gradually, however, in the north-west,* to cliffs like those near Keel Point.

* On the south side of the north-west arm of the Santa Cruz.

The flowing tide favoured us until about five, when we landed on the north shore, at a spot where the rise and fall of the tide had diminished to four feet. Here the river was six hundred and forty yards in breadth, running down at the rate of about six knots during a part of the ebb, and from two to four knots an hour during the greater part of the flood-tide. It was perfectly fresh to the bottom, and in mid-channel about three fathoms deep; but this depth extended very little way across, the deep channel being extremely narrow, not more than twenty yards in width.

The distinct difference between the opposite banks of the river had been diminishing, until at this spot* both sides were much alike. We had left the cliffs and salt water, and had fairly entered the fresh-water river. Instead of having a wide extent of dismal-looking banks and dark-coloured muddy shores, we were at the side of a rapid stream, unvarying in width, on whose banks shrubs and grass agreeably relieved our eyes from muddy shingle covered with hosts of crabs.

* The northern bight, or cove, a few miles north-eastward of Islet Reach. §

§ Islet Reach noted on p. 339 chart, but not in FitzRoy's Table of Positions. Now Islote Pavón, the islet is seen in the Google Earth 3D view (4th camera icon from right).

Our first night passed well, for there were plenty of bushes to supply us with fire-wood. Early next morning, some of the party went upon the nearest hills to look for guanacoes, when they saw that although the surface of the country appeared to an observer near the river to be irregular and hilly, upon ascending the heights it became apparent that the stream ran in a large valley; that the general character of the country was similar to what I have already described, and that those which had appeared to be hills were the terminating sides of extensive plains, whose level was about three hundred feet above the river. Near the fresh water, shrubs, bushes, and grass were not scarce; but every where on the higher ground a sterile, stony waste met the eye. Mr. Stokes* and I went on the heights, to obtain a view of the river; and for a considerable distance we could trace its windings, but were sorry to see a great number of small islands, thickly covered with brushwood, which seemed likely to impede our progress if obliged to track † the boats.

* It was his office to make a map of the country we passed through.

† Pull, or tow them along by a rope.

The southerly wind blew keenly over the high land, and the surface of the ground was frozen hard; but the air was healthily fresh and bracing. Where, indeed, could it be purer than on these dry hills? At first setting out we tried the oars, but very soon found them unable to contend with the strength of the stream; so landing all our party, except two in each boat, we made the boats fast to one another, at a few yards apart, in a line a-head: and then taking the end of a coil of whale-line ashore, half our party fixed themselves to it by laniards of broad canvas straps, which passed across their breasts and over one shoulder, and walked together steadily along the river's bank. The bight of the line was passed round a stout mast, stepped in the headmost boat and attended by the two men, who veered away or shortened in the line as the varying width of the stream, or frequent impediments rendered necessary. In this manner, one-half of our party relieving the other about once an hour,§ every one willingly taking his turn at the track rope,* we made steady progress against the stream of the river, which rather increased in rapidity as we ascended, until its usual velocity was between six and seven knots an hour. While among the islands which I mentioned tracking was difficult and tedious, many were the thorny bushes through which one half of the party on the rope dragged their companions. Once in motion no mercy was shewn: if the leading man could pass, all the rest were bound to follow. Many were the duckings, and not trifling the wear and tear of clothes, shoes, and skin. At intervals stoppages were made for refreshment and observations.

§ Darwin states that the parties “hauled … alternately for an hour and a half.”

* Mr. Stokes alone being excepted, as his duty required continual attention.

Three chronometers were carried in the boats, with other necessary instruments: among them two mountain barometers, with which Mr. Darwin and myself wished to measure the height of the river above the level of the sea, and the heights of the neighbouring ranges of hills above the level of the river. This afternoon we picked up a boat-hook upon the south bank of the river, which was immediately recognized to be one which had been left by accident sticking in a mudbank, by the party who accompanied Captain Stokes in his excursion up this river in the year 1827.

It was very cold at our bivouac this night, being a sharp frost: and while observing the moon's meridian altitude, dew was deposited so fast upon the roof of the artificial horizon, and froze there so quickly as it fell, that I could hardly make the observation. My sextant was injured a little by the frost, for not having been used before in very cold weather, the brass contracted so much as to injure the silvering at the back of the index glass, and slightly change the index error.

In the morning it was so cold that our usual ablutions were shunned, and all were anxious to have the first spell at the rope in order to warm themselves, though few had slept many minutes, and many had hard work the previous day. The thermometer was at 22° Fahr.—nothing,—indeed warm weather to Polar voyagers, but to us, accustomed to temperate climates, it appeared a severe degree of cold.

20th. As we were going along the bank of the river, which to our great benefit was becoming more accessible and clearer of bushes, we saw some dark coloured animals crossing the stream at a distance, but no one could guess what they were until the foremost of them reached the shore, and rising upon his stilt-like legs, showed himself to be an ostrich. Six or seven of these birds were swimming across: till then I had no idea that so long-legged a bird, not web-footed, would, of its own accord, take to the water and cross a rapid stream: this, however, was a certain proof to the contrary, for nothing had disturbed them that we could discern. As far as we could tell, at so great a distance, they seemed to be of the kind which the Spanish-patagonians call ‘Avestruz-petis.’ They were, however, far too wild to be approached with a gun. We saw smoke at a distance and anticipated meeting Indians, in the course of our next day's journey. The country around continued similar to that already described: but islands no longer impeded our progress, though some high cliffy banks gave us trouble. At the next place where we passed a night, Mr. Darwin tried to catch fish with a casting net, but without success; so strong a stream being much against successful fishing. A very sharp frost again this night. The net and other things, which had occupied but little room in the boat, were frozen so hard as to become unmanageable and very difficult to stow,

21st. We proceeded as usual, dragging the boats up the stream (or rather torrent, for it never ran less than six knots, and in many places more) at the rate of about two miles an hour: and as we were approaching near to the smoke, we chose our position for the night, rather more cautiously than usual, upon a little peninsula.

22d. We had not advanced a mile this morning, when fresh tracks of Indians, on horseback, trailing their long lances, aroused our utmost vigilance. We thought they had been reconnoitring our party, at day-light, and perhaps such was the case. The smoke of their fires was seen behind the nearest range of low hills, on our side of the river, being then on the north bank, but the boats had been tracking on either side, as better ground for walking was found. Proceeding on, a dead animal was found in the water, which proved to be a guanaco; how it came by its death did not appear, as it showed no external wound, but some of our party, hungrier or less squeamish than the rest, immediately proposed dividing and eating it; and hunger carried the day: the dead animal was hauled on shore, cut to pieces, and distributed. The guanaco steaks were much relished by all except two or three, who could not conquer their antipathy to supposed carrion. Our meal was eaten close to the place where we thought a tribe of Indians was encamped: and, in consequence, our arms were kept in readiness, and a careful watch set. Afterwards cautiously proceeding, we arrived at the spot whence the smoke had issued, but saw no human beings: though marks of very recent fire, and numerous tracks of feet upon a soft muddy place at the side of the river, showed that a party of Indians had lately crossed over, and a smoke rising at some distance on the southern shore, pointed out where they were gone. At this spot there was about an acre of good pasture land, by the water side: and the breadth of the river itself was something less than usual, reasons which had induced the natives to select it as a crossing place.* To pass a river running at the rate of six or seven miles an hour, and about two hundred yards in width, can be no easy task to women and children. But as we saw many prints of very small feet on the muddy bank, both women and children must have crossed at this place with the men. How did they get over? there is no wood, neither are there rushes with which they might make balsas.† Perhaps some of the women and children were put into rough, coracle-like boats, made of hides,‡ and towed across by the horses, holding by whose tails the men swam and perhaps many of the women. This method of holding by the tail, while swimming, is said to be better than resting a hand upon the horse's neck and holding by the mane. None of the Indians sit upon their horses while swimming.

* Marked ‘Indian Pass’on the plan. (See pointing hand on p. 339 chart, above.)

† Floats or rafts.

‡ “Me envio tres indios nadadores, provisto de cueros y palos para formar una pelota.” (Diario de Viedma, p. 58.)

This day (22d) we passed two places which we considered rapids, the stream of the river ran so violently, and we had so much difficulty in passing, even with all hands upon the rope. Besides the strength of the stream we had to contend against high cliffs, over whose upper edges it was difficult to convey the tow-line: yet we made good about twelve miles in the day. The night of the 22d was not so cold as the preceding, but we always found the nights wintry though the days were warm, so much so, indeed, that we were often annoyed by the heat of the sun. So winding was the course of the river that we certainly walked double the distance which was advanced in a direct line: yet very little of interest, as a picturesque subject, had been seen; for no country excepting a desert could wear a more triste and unvarying appearance.

Immense accumulations of shingle, rounded stones, imbedded, as before mentioned, in diluvial deposition, form the level plain, or valley, through which the river pursues its very winding course. The width of this vale varies from one mile to five miles, and the level of the shingle plain is from three hundred to one thousand feet below that of the adjacent higher, but still horizontal ranges—whose broken-down ends, or sides, form the boundaries of the valley through which the river flows. Those of the higher ranges look like hills when one is in the valley, and it is not until after ascending to their summits that their real nature is seen; when, instead of being inclined to consider those heights as hills, one becomes disposed to think the valley of the river a vast excavation, cut down below the level of the neighbouring country. But on the height, or in the valley, all is an unprofitable waste. Scarcely, indeed, could we find bushes enough, even near the river, to make our nightly fires, after the third day's journey. The wiry, half-withered grass upon which the guanacoes feed is so scanty, that they are obliged to wander over much ground in search of their food. Those few stunted bushy trees which are found here and there, near the river, are a kind of thorn trees, the wood of which is extremely hard and durable.* The night of the 22d we passed by the side of a little cove, which sheltered the boats from the strength of the stream: and, as all hands were tired, we rested during the morning of the following day.

* A guanaco was shot this day by the running fire of several guns. He was soon cut up and stowed in the boats.

After noon (23d) we went on, and at dark stopped on the south shore. Scarcity of fuel and a cold night, made it necessary to take good care of the wood when cut. There may be honour among thieves, but there was little to be found during a cold night among our party, for the fire of those who happened to be on watch was sure to blaze cheerily, at the expense of the sleepers. A little incident occurred here very unimportant certainly to those unconcerned, yet of much consequence to us: we left our stock of salt behind, and a spade, which latter was much wanted for earthing up the sides of our tents, to keep out the cold wind.

24th. I noticed more than usual a curious effect of the river water being so much warmer than the air over it.* At daybreak, and until after sunrise, the river was smoking, quite as if it were boiling. This day we passed some earthy cliffs between two and three hundred feet in height, and where they came in our way it was extremely difficult to manage the boats and tow-lines; but by veering out at those times a great length of rope, our object was accomplished without any disaster. Near these cliffs the valley of the river begins to contract and become more irregular, and the sides or breaking down of the higher ranges become more abrupt and are nearer to the river. In most places we found a cliffy side opposite to a low projecting point of shingle, but in some spots that we passed both sides were high, and we had no choice on which to take the tow-line. The difference, also, between the level of the higher ranges and that of the river, was observed to be much increased.

* The temperature of the air being 30°, that of the water 46°.

On this day (25th) our best shots succeeded in killing two guanacoes, but they died out of our reach, and probably became food for pumas, instead of man. The order of our march was usually one or two riflemen in advance, as scouts—Mr. Darwin, and occasionally Mr. Stokes, or Mr. Bynoe, upon the heights—a party walking along the banks, near the boats, ready to relieve or assist in tracking, and the eight or ten men who were dragging the three boats along at the rate of about two miles an hour over the ground, though full eight knots through the water. Difficult places to pass—delays caused by embarking and disembarking frequently to change banks, and avoid impediments—the necessary observations, rest, and meals, occupied so much time that we did not average more than twelve miles in one day: and even that small distance was not accomplished without making both shoulders and feet sore.

26th. In the distance some very level topped, dark looking cliffs, were seen at the summits of elevated ranges, which Mr. Darwin thought must have a capping or coating of lava. Of course we were very anxious to verify a fact so curious, and at noon were quite satisfied that it was so, having approached to the foot of a height thus capped, whose fragments had in falling not only scattered themselves over the adjacent plain, but into the bed of the river, in such a manner as to make the passage exceedingly dangerous; because large angular masses, in some places showing above the stream [and] in others hidden beneath, but so near the surface that the water eddied and swelled over them, menaced destruction to the boats as they were with difficulty dragged through the eddying rapid; sometimes the rope caught under or around one of those masses, and caused much trouble. Near the spot where we stopped at noon there is a glen, quite different in character from any place we had passed.* Indeed, upon entering the lava district, or that part of the country over which lava formerly flowed, there was no longer a Patagonian aspect around. Steep precipices, narrow, winding vallies, abundance of huge angular fragments of lava, a more rapid and narrower river, and plains of solid lava overlying the whole surface of the country, make this district even worse in its appearance than the eastern coast of Patagonia. Excepting in an occasional ravine nothing grows. Horses could not travel far, the ground being like rough iron; and water, excepting that of the river and its tributary in Basalt Glen, is very scarce.

* ‘Basalt Glen.’

The glen above mentioned is a wild looking ravine, bounded by black lava cliffs. A stream of excellent water winds through it amongst the long grass, and a kind of jungle at the bottom. Lions or rather pumas shelter in it, as the recently torn remains of guanacoes showed us. Condors inhabit the basaltic cliffs. Near the river some imperfect columns of basalt give to a remarkable rocky height, the semblance of an old castle. Altogether it is a scene of wild loneliness quite fit to be the breeding place of lions.*

* “Leonum arida nutrix.”

No signs of human visitors were discovered: indeed, the nature of the country must almost prevent horsemen from traversing these regions, there is so little food and such bad ground: only in glens or ravines such as this can any grass or bushes be found. Guanacoes absolutely swarm upon the heights, a consequence probably of their being undisturbed. They spread over the face of the high country like immense flocks of sheep.

During a long walk this evening Mr. Stokes and I were repeatedly disappointed by the mirage over an extensive stony plain, between two bends of the river. We were tired and very thirsty, and went from one apparent piece of water to another, only to be tantalized and to increase still more our dilemma.

27th. Similar country. On the banks of the river some drift wood was found; the trunks of trees of considerable size. Small trees had been found lying by the side of the river, from time to time, but none so large as these, some of which were almost two feet in diameter, and about thirty feet in length. The wood appeared to be ‘Sauci,’ of the red kind. That these trees had been drifted from a great distance was evident, because they were much water worn.

28th. In passing a rapid, whose difficulties were much increased by rugged blocks of lava lying in the bed of the river, one of our boats was badly stove and barely rescued from sinking in the middle of the stream: fortunately we got her on shore and there patched her up. There was still no change in the scenery, nor any signs of inhabitants: and our work was as monotonous as heavy.

29th. While upon a high range of lava-capped land, Mr Stokes and Mr. Darwin descried distant mountains in the west, covered with snow. At last, then, the Andes were in sight! This was inspiriting intelligence to the whole party; for small had been our daily progress, though continual and severe the labour. The river increased, in rapidity, while but little diminution had taken place in the quantity of water brought down: the breadth was rather less, certainly, but the depth in most places greater. No fish had yet been caught; indeed, only two had been seen, and those seemed to be like trout.

30th. The snowy summits of the distant Cordillera were more distinctly seen from the heights, near the river, that rise about a thousand feet above its level, which, there, is about three hundred feet above that of the sea. Two guanacoes were shot with my rifle by H. Fuller,* who hastened to the boats for assistance. Some of our party went directly with him to bring in the animals, but condors and cara-caras† had eaten every morsel of the flesh of one; though the other was found untouched and brought to the boats. Four hours had sufficed to the cara-caras and condors for the cleaning of every bone.‡ When our party reached the spot some of those great birds were so heavily laden that they could hardly hop away from the place. The guanaco that was eaten by the birds must have been, by his size, at least fifty pounds heavier than any shot by us in Patagonia, therefore about 300 lbs. Mr. Darwin and Mr. Stokes had much amusement with these animals, upon the heights. Being so much tamer there and more numerous, whole flocks were driven by them into narrow defiles, where dozens might have been killed had there been more people with guns, lassoes, or balls.

* My steward.

† A carrion-eating eagle.

‡ The animal thus eaten lay on high ground: the other was in a hollow.

Though the bed of the river is there so much below the level of the stratum of lava,* it still bears the appearance of having worn away its channel, by the continual action of running water. The surface of the lava may be considered as the natural level of the country, since, when upon it, a plain, which seems to the eye horizontal, extends in every direction. How wonderful must that immense volcanic action have been which spread liquid lava over the surface of such a vast tract of country. Did the lava flow from the Cordillera of the Andes, or was it thrown out from craters in the low country? Its position with respect to subaqueous deposits, its horizontal surface and cellular texture, are reasons, among others, for thinking that it was thrown out of the earth, while these plains were covered by a depth of sea.

* From ten to twelve hundred feet.

The valley, or channel of the river, varies here from one mile, or less, to about three miles; but it looks narrower, owing to the deception caused by high land on each side. Some of the views are certainly striking, and, from their locality, interesting; I could not, however, have believed that the banks of any large fresh water river could be so destitute of wood, or verdure of any kind, or so little frequented by man, beast,* bird, or fish.

* Excepting guanacoes.

May 1st. The weather was invariably fine during the earlier part of our journey; but this day it began to change, and two or three gloomy clouded days were succeeded by a few hours only of small rain, and by some strong wind. This night (1st) we slept at the foot of heights whose summits were covered with snow, but the temperature was many degrees warmer than that of the first nights, when it froze so sharply. There was no particular frost after the 21st of April.

We had great difficulty with the boats on the 2d, the river being contracted in width, without any diminution of the body of water pouring down.

On the 3d, we found a more open country, the lava-capped heights receding gradually on each side, leaving a vale of flat, and apparently good land, from five to fifteen miles in extent. The width of the river increased; on its banks were swampy spaces, covered with herbage; and low earthy cliffs, without either shingle or lava, in some places bounded the river. A little further, however, the usual arid and stony plains of Patagonia were again seen, extending from the banks of the river to ranges of hills, about fourteen hundred feet above its level, on which the horizontal lava-capping could be distinctly discerned.

In the distant west the Cordillera of the Andes stretched along the horizon. During three days, we had advanced towards those far distant mountains, seeing them at times very distinctly; yet this morning our distance seemed nearly as great as on the day we first saw their snow-covered summits. A long day's work carried us beyond the flat and into the rising country, whose barren appearance I just now mentioned.

We were all very tired of the monotonous scene, as well as of the labour of hauling the boats along.

4th. Our provisions being almost exhausted, and the river as large as it was beyond the lava country, our allotted time being out, and every one weary and foot-sore, I decided upon walking overland to the westward, as far as we could go in one day, and then setting out on our return to the Beagle. I was the more inclined to this step, because the river here made a southerly bend, to follow which would have required at least a day, without making much westing, and because I thought that some of our party might walk in that time at least twice as far as they could track the boats, and then return before night. To have followed the course of the river two days longer, we should have needed all the small remainder of our provisions, and probably without being enabled to see further than we might by one day's walk directly westward. Leaving those who were the most tired to take care of the boats, a party set out early, in light marching order. A large plain lay before us, over which shrubs, very small trees, and bushes were sparingly scattered; yet parts of this plain might be called fertile and woody, by comparison with the tracts between us and the eastern sea-coast.

At noon we halted on a rising ground, made observations for time, latitude, and bearing; rested and eat our meal; on a spot which we found to be only sixty miles from the nearest water of the Pacific Ocean. The Cordillera of the Andes extended along the western side of our view; the weather was very clear, enabling us to discern snow-covered mountains far in the north, and also a long way southward; hence much of the range was visible, but of the river we could discern nothing. Only from the form of the land could we conclude that at the end of the southerly reach I have mentioned, the direction of the river is nearly east and west for a few miles, and that then it may turn northward, or rather come from the north along the base of the Cordillera.

There are many reasons for inducing one to suppose that it comes not only from the north, but from a considerable distance northward. At the place where we ceased to ascend the stream, the Santa Cruz was almost as large as at the places where we passed the first and second nights near the estuary. The velocity of the current was still at least six knots an hour; though the depth remained undiminished. The temperature of the water was 45°, while that of the air was seldom so high, even in the day-time, and at night was usually below the freezing point. Trees, or rather the trunks of trees, were found lying upon the banks, whose water-worn appearance indicated that they had been carried far by the stream. The water was very free from sediment, though of a whitish blue colour, which induces me to suppose that it has been chiefly produced by melted snow, or that it has passed through lakes in which the sediment it might have brought so far was deposited. If filled from the waters of the nearer mountains only, its temperature would surely be lower, approaching that of melted snow: it would also, in all probability, bring much sediment, and would therefore be muddier, and less pure in colour.

When one considers how large an extent of country there is between the River Negro and the Strait of Magalhaens, and that through that extensive region only one river of magnitude flows, it may be difficult to account for the manner in which the drainage of the eastern side of the great Cordillera is carried off, or where the melted snow and occasional heavy rains disappear.

The Gallegos is small, though it runs into a large estuary. The Chupat river is very small: that at Port Desire is scarcely more than a brook. At times, it is true, these smaller rivers are flooded, but their floods (added to their usual streams) seem unequal to carrying off the continual drainage of the Andes. South of the Negro only the Santa Cruz flows with a full and strong stream throughout the whole year, and my idea is that the sources of the river Santa Cruz are not far from those of the southern branch of the Negro, near the forty-fifth degree of latitude; and that it runs at the foot of the Andes, southward, through several lakes, until it turns to the eastward in the parallel of fifty degrees.

In Viedma's Diary I find that he heard from the Indians at Port San Julian (in 1782) that the river Santa Cruz flowed from a large lake § near the Cordillera of the Andes, and that there was abundance of wood on its banks. In consequence of this information, he went, in November, with a party of Spaniards and Indians on horseback, to explore this lake. In his way, Viedma crossed the river Chico, which flows into the estuary of the Santa Cruz, just above Weddell Bluff: The Chico, though small at times and then fordable, was subject, the Indians said, to great floods in the spring, when the melting snows of the Cordillera over-filled a lake, far in the northwest, whence this river ran. Afterwards, Viedma crossed the river Chalia, which they told him rose in another lake near the Cordillera, was likewise subject to floods, and emptied itself into the Santa Cruz: when he passed, it was only up to the horses' knees (after searching many leagues, however, for a ford), but at his return it was deeper. This Chalia can be no other than the stream which flows through Basalt Glen, a mere brook when we saw it in the dryest season of the year. Viedma reached the lake,* and found every thing correspond[ed] to the description; for it was deep and large, surrounded by snow-covered mountains, on which were many forests.

§ Lago Argentino.

* Called Capar, or Viedma. MS. Chart.

Some persons have doubted whether there is ever much drainage to be carried off from the eastern side of the Andes, between the parallels of forty and fifty; but if they will take the trouble to read Viedma's Diary, and some other notices to be found in the work of Don Pedro de Angelis, I think they will be convinced that there is always a considerable drainage, and that at times there are heavy floods to be carried off.*

* As one proof of this assertion, I may quote a passage from Viedma:—“Reconocido pues todo” (all that there was to see in the neighbourhood of the lake whence the Santa Cruz flowed), “nos expusó el Indio Patricio nos debiamos apartar luego de aquí, porque con los vientos fuertes, y el sol, solia derretirse tanta nieve que era imposible vadear los arroyos para regresar, y tendriamos que pasar el verano en aquel pasage hasta que las beladas empezasen.”—(Diario de Viedma, p 57.)

Reference to the accompanying plan will shew our position when we halted, and I decided to return, not having explored, I should think, more than one-third of its course. At that place the level of the river was found to be four hundred feet higher than that of the sea at the entrance; and as the distance is about two hundred miles,* the average descent or fall of the water must be near two feet in a mile, which, I apprehend, is unusually great. I could not, indeed, believe that the computation and data were correct, until after repeated examination.† Two barometers were used at the river-side, and a very good one was carefully watched on board the Beagle.‡ Certainly, the rapid descent of the river, in many places, was such, that even to the eye it appeared to be running down-hill; and this remark was often made in the course of our journey.

* Following the course of the river.

† The data will be found in the Appendix. [45: “Remarks on Tides”]

‡ At the level of the sea,

Two days before we reached our westernmost point, many traces of an old Indian encampment were seen; but excepting at that place and at the spot which we passed on the 22d, no signs of inhabitants were any where found. Scarcity of pasture, and the badness of the ground for their horses' feet, must deter Indians from remaining in this neighbourhood; but that they frequently cross the river, when travelling, is well known.

The quantities of bones heaped together, or scattered near the river, in so many places which we passed, excited conjectures as to what had collected them. Do guanacoes approach the river to drink when they are dying? or are the bones remains of animals eaten by lions or by Indians? or are they washed together by floods? Certain it is they are remarkably numerous near the banks of the river; but not so elsewhere.

I can hardly think that the guanaco is often allowed to die a natural death; for pumas are always on the alert to seize invalid stragglers from the herd. At night the guanacoes choose the clearest places for sleeping, lying down together like sheep; and in the day they avoid thickets, and all such places as might shelter their ever-watchful enemy. Condors, also, and fierce little wild cats* help to prevent too great an increase of this beautiful, inoffensive, and useful animal.

* Though the wild cat could not injure a full-grown animal, it might destroy a young one with great ease.

Late on the 4th we returned to our tents, thoroughly tired by a daily succession of hard work, and long walks. At this bivouac we were about one hundred and forty miles, in a straight line, from the estuary of Santa Cruz, or from Weddell Bluff; and about two hundred and forty-five miles distant by the course of the river. Our station at noon on the 4th, was eight miles in a straight line farther westward, and about thirty miles from the Cordillera of the Andes. The height of those mountains was from five to seven thousand feet above our level, by angular measurement with a theodolite. Early on the 5th we began the rapid descent. Sometimes the wind favoured, and we passed the land at the rate of ten knots an hour; sometimes dangerous places obliged us to turn the boat's head to the stream, pull against it, and so drop down between the rocks. Though easy, the return was far more dangerous than our ascent of the river.

5th. Our first day's work in returning was a distance of eighty-five miles, which had cost us six days hard labour in ascending. Next day we made good about eighty-two miles; and on the 7th we reached the salt water. Although we made such quick progress in returning, our halts for observations were similar to those made in going. While descending the rapid stream, so quickly and quietly, we saw many more guanacoes and ostriches than we had seen before; but our flying shots only frightened them, and time was too precious to admit of any delay. Only one fish was got, and that was a dead one, which had been left on the bank: it was similar to a trout. Not more than half a dozen live fish were seen, and none could be caught either with hooks or nets. Leaving a very small party near Weddell Bluff to look for guanacoes, I hastened on board with the boats; and with the ebb tide reached the Beagle before noon on the 8th. The ship being ready for sea, excepting a ton or two of fresh water, the yawl and cutter were dispatched to get it and bring on board the shooting party. During my absence satisfactory observations on the tides had been made, which showed that the neap tides rise about eighteen feet, and the springs from thirty-eight to forty-two feet. One day when walking through a woody ravine, not far from the anchorage, Mr. Stewart saw a puma lying under a bush, glaring at him: taking a steady aim, he fired, and laid the animal dead. It was a very large one; and the skin is now in the British Museum. The moment of thus looking a lion in the face, while taking aim, at only a few yards distance, must be somewhat trying to the nerves, I should imagine. A beautiful wild cat was also added to our collections, besides condors and foxes.

9th. The boats, and shooting party, arrived with water and two guanacoes. As the sportsmen were returning with their burthens on the preceding evening, darkness overtook them while yet distant from their tent; and they were soon made uncomfortably* conscious that an enemy was at hand, for the strong and peculiar smell of a lion warned them that one was near. They trudged on with their cargoes, talking to one another; but the scent was still strong until they approached the fire, which had been kept up by their companion, when it ceased entirely. Such a weight as a lion's, added suddenly to that of a guanaco, would have been rather distressing.

* Being only two in number.

We were detained for a day or two by an overcast sky, which prevented my obtaining equal altitudes; but on the 12th the Beagle left the Santa Cruz, and stood towards the alleged place of the shoal, or rock, called ‘Aigle,’ not far from the westernmost of the Falkland Islands. No such danger, nor any sign of shallow water being found, but, on the contrary, no bottom with one hundred fathoms of line, we steered towards Magalhaens Strait, and on the 18th anchored off Cape Virgins. Next morning I landed on the Cape, taking Mr. Darwin and Mr. Stokes with me, and remained till after the noon observation, when, returning on board, the Beagle weighed and sailed to another station. From this time (till the 25th) we were busily employed in sounding in the neighbourhood of Cape Virgins, Point Catherine, Lomas Bay, and Possession Bay.

On the 23d, at day-light, we saw the Adventure coming from the Falklands. After communicating with us, she went on to survey the portion of coast extending from Sweepstakes Foreland to Cape Monmouth; and we remained to complete our own task of sounding the banks about the First Narrow, and examining the south shore of St. Philip Bay. On the 3d of June both vessels were moored in Port Famine, preparing for their passage to San Carlos in Chilóe.


The next chapter will take the Beagle into the Pacific by a route not hitherto used, except by sealing vessels: although it possesses many advantages over either the passage round Cape Horn, or that through the western reaches of the Strait of Magalhaens. Mr. Low is said to be the first discoverer of it, and he certainly was the first to pass through in a ship; but I think one of the Saxe Cobourg's boats had passed through it previously, and 1 much question whether Sir Francis Drake's shallop did not go by that opening into the Strait of Magalhaens in 1578.*

* See Burney, vol. i. p. 368 and p. 327, where he shows that Drake discovered Cape Horn, and anchored near it (in or near St. Martin Cove?) in 1578. Another early southern discovery is mentioned in vol. ii. p. 198, where it is stated that Dirck Gherritz discovered land in 64° S. in 1591), (part of or near South Shetland?)


Before I finally leave Tierra del Fuego, a remark or two may here be made respecting the language of the natives. ‘Pichi,’ in the Huilliche or Araucanian language, means ‘small ’or ‘a little,’ and ‘re’ signifies ‘only,’ ‘but,’ ‘purely,’ or ‘simply.’ Hence, Pecheray, always uttered in a begging, or whining tone, may have some such signification. In Beauchesne's voyage it is said, that the natives in the Eastern parts of Magalhaens Strait were called ‘Laguedi-che,’ and those westward, ‘Haveguedi-che.’* These words are to me very interesting, because I suppose the first to be a corruption of Laque-che, which means, in Araucanian, ‘People with balls’(bolas), and the second is not far removed from Huapi-gulu-che, which means ‘people of mountainous islands heaped together,’ terms respectively most appropriate for natives of eastern and western Tierra del Fuego.

* Voyage of Beauchesne, in Burney's History, vol. iv. p. 378.


CHAPTER XVII

Beagle and Adventure sail from Port Famine through Magdalen and Cockburn Channel—Enter Pacific—Death of Mr. Rowlett—Chilóe—Chile—Government—Adventure sold—Consequent changes—Plans—Mr. Low—Chonos—Lieut. Sulivan's party—Moraleda—Ladrilleros—De Vea—Sharp—San Andres—Vallenar—Mr. Stokes—San Estevan—Distressed sailors—Anna Pink Bay—Port Low—Potatoes—Indian names—Huafo—Volcano—Chilotes—Aborigines—Militia—Freebooters—Climate—Docks—Tides—Witchcraft—Alerse—Calbucanos—Cesares—Search for men—Meteors

June 9th. Good equal altitudes having been obtained, after an interval of time sufficient for rating our chronometers,* we sailed from Port Famine, went down the Magdalen Channel, enjoying some fine scenery, among which Sarmiento was pre-eminent, and anchored in a cove under Cape Turn. The following day we beat to windward through the Cockburn Channel, and would have anchored at night had a safe place offered in time, but as the only cove near us at dusk was a very small one, I preferred leaving that unoccupied for the Adventure, and remaining under way in the Beagle. The night was long and very dark, small rain fell nearly all the time, and squalls from the westward were frequent. There were but four square miles in which it was safe to sail to and fro after dark, and for fourteen hours we traversed that area in every direction. It was necessary to keep under a reasonable press of sail part of the time, to hold our ground against the lee tide; but with the ebb we had often to bear up and run to leeward, when we got too near the islets westward of us. In a case of this kind a ship is so much more manageable while going through the water than she is while hove-to, and those on board are in general so much more on the alert than when the vessel herself seems half asleep, that I have always been an advocate for short tacks under manageable sail, so as to keep as much as possible near the same place, in preference to heaving-to and drifting.

* The Adventure had four chronometers.

When the day at last broke on the 11th, we saw the Adventure coming out to us from the cove where she had passed the night, and then both vessels sailed out of the Channel, past Mount Skyring and all the Furies, as fast as sails could urge them. At sunset we were near the Tower Rocks,* and with a fresh north-west wind stood out into the Pacific, with every inch of canvas set which we could carry.

* Not far from Cape Noir, on Noir Island.

On the 26th we were still together, in latitude 43° and longitude 75°, although gales had occasionally separated us for a few hours. After passing the latitude of 45° we had a succession of bad weather, and adverse (N.W.) winds. Trusting too much to our usual good fortune I had steered in too direct a line towards Chilóe, and in consequence all these north-west winds were against us. Had I shaped a course which would have taken us farther from the land, while we had the wind southward of west, we might have made a fair wind of these provoking north-westers, and arrived at Chilóe at least a week sooner. A few remarks upon the wind and weather, between the parallels of forty and forty-seven, off Chilóe and the Chonos Archipelago, will be found in the Appendix (No. 19).

On the 27th we witnessed the last moments of Mr. Rowlett's existence in this world. He had long been sinking under an internal complaint of which it was impossible to cure him, except by a vigorous and uniform mode of treatment to which he was not willing to conform until too late: but his illness had no relation whatever to the service in which he had been employed. He was much regretted by all of us, having been a kind, honourable friend. The following day we committed the body of our deceased companion to the seaman's grave, that “ever-changing and mysterious main.” In the evening we were near the north-west end of Chilóe, and at midnight an anchor was let go in our former berth, off Point Arena. The Adventure arrived two days afterwards, her main-boom having broken in a heavy squall on the 27th, in consequence of which she got to leeward, and was prevented from sooner weathering the north end of the island. A supply of fresh provisions and good rates for the chronometers were obtained, after which we sailed (14th July) for Valparaiso, and arrived there together on the 22d.

My first object would have been, after seeing the vessels securely moored, to go to Santiago, present my instructions in the proper quarter, and ask for the sanction of the Chilian government, in prosecuting the survey of the coasts of Chile; but I was so much in arrear with respect to computations and charts, that I could not venture to give even a week to an excursion to that agreeable place, where a thousand attractive novelties would inevitably have diverted my attention in some measure from the dull routine of calculation, and attention to the data accumulated by many months' exertion of those on board the Adventure, as well as in the Beagle; therefore I sent Lieutenant Wickham, who spoke Spanish, and had been at Santiago before, to show my instructions to the Authorities, and request their approval of our examination of the shores under their jurisdiction. Nothing could be more satisfactory than the reply (Appendix No. 20), and from that time until the Beagle left Chile she received every attention and assistance which the Chilian officers could afford.

As I proposed to remain at Valparaiso during the winter months, Messrs. Stokes, King, Usborne, and myself, whose occupation would be sedentary and would require room, as well as more light and quiet than we could always have on board, took up our quarters on shore; while those on board attended to the refit and provisioning of our vessels.

At this time I was made to feel and endure a bitter disappointment; the mortification it caused preyed deeply, and the regret is still vivid. I found that it would be impossible for me to maintain the Adventure much longer: my own means had been taxed, even to involving myself in difficulties, and as the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty did not think it proper to give me any assistance, I saw that all my cherished hopes of examining many groups of islands in the Pacific, besides making a complete survey of the Chilian and Peruvian shores, must utterly fail. I had asked to be allowed to bear twenty additional seamen on the Beagle's books, whose pay and provisions would then be provided by Government, being willing to defray every other expense myself; but even this was refused. As soon as my mind was made up, after a most painful struggle, I discharged the Adventure's crew, took the officers back to the Beagle, and sold the vessel.*

* Though her sale was very ill-managed, partly owing to my being dispirited and careless, she brought 7,500 dollars, nearly £1,100, and is now (1838) trading on that coast, in sound condition.

Early in November our charts of the eastern coasts of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, as well as those of the Falkland Islands (the work of the Adventure) were finished, and shipped off for England; and on the 10th we sailed, alone, to resume our more active occupations on the southern coasts. My former intention was to have filled up all blanks in the charts of the outer west coast of Patagonia, between the parallels of fifty-three and forty-eight, and then carried a connected survey along the coast to the equator; after which the Galapagos Islands; Dangerous Archipelago; Marquesas, Society, Friendly, and Feejee Islands; besides New Zealand; were to have had as earnest an examination as could be effected by both vessels during 1836 and part of 1837. That this plan might have been carried out by the divisions of labour and exertions of the Beagle and her tender may, I think, be inferred from what has actually been executed with inferior means and in much less time. But my reduced arrangements were on a much smaller scale: I could only look to the most useful objects that might be effected within the limited time to which I dared to look forward.

All on board partook, more or less, of the mortification caused by parting with our consort, just as she was most wanted, and most able to take an effective part; and I confess that my own feelings and health were so much altered in consequence—so deprived of their former elasticity and soundness—that I could myself no longer bear the thoughts of such a prolonged separation from my country, as I had encouraged others to think lightly of, while I could hold out to them the prospect of seeing as well as doing a great deal among the islands of the Pacific, besides completing the surveys of Chile and Peru.

I now proposed, first, to go to San Carlos, there set two of our boats at work among the islands eastward of the large island, while the Beagle would survey the more exposed coasts, those to the west and south; then the ship was to examine the seaward shores of the Chonos archipelago, while another of her boats was employed among those islands; and, the Chonos explored, she would return to San Carlos, collect her scattered parties, and proceed along the coast, northwards, taking all the ports and islands in her way.

On the 21 st we arrived at San Carlos, and were pleased to find that Mr. Low had returned safe from his difficult undertaking; and that a person (Mr. Douglas) whom I had engaged to make an excursion to Calbuco and into the forests of ‘Alerse,’ on the Cordillera of the Andes, had also come back with the required information, and was ready to engage himself to act as a pilot and interpreter.

When last at San Carlos I proposed to Mr. Low, then serving as pilot on board the Adventure, to pass the time of our absence at Valparaiso, in exploring part of the Chonos Archipelago with a whale-boat belonging to me, and a crew of natives (Chilotes). Low, ever restless and enterprising, entered eagerly into my views; so furnishing him with money, a chart, and a few instruments, I explained where I wished him to go, and when he should be again at San Carlos, all further arrangement being left to him.

Mr. Low hired a crew of six men,* and set out. After he had quitted the southernmost place at which provisions could be procured, called Caylin, or ‘El fin de la Christiandad,’ one of his men† persuaded some of the others‡ to eat up the stock of provisions in the boat as soon as possible, in order that they might be obliged to return without going far. But Low was too much inured to hardship to be so easily diverted from his plan; he went on, directly south, even after his provisions were consumed; obliging them to live for fourteen days upon shell-fish and sea-weed. After exploring much of the Chonos Archipelago, sufficiently to facilitate our survey materially, he returned with his hungry crew to Caylin.

* A Welshman, two Chilotes, a Chilian, and two Sandwich Islanders who had been left at San Carlos by a whaler.

† The Chilian.

‡ The Chilotes and Sandwich Islanders. Taffy remained faithful: he and Low, being able-bodied active men, frightened the rest into reluctant submission.

24th. Lieutenant Sulivan set out with the yawl and a whaleboat, to survey the east side of Chilóe and the islets in the Gulf of Ancud.* With him were Messrs. Darwin, Usborne, Stewart and Kent; Douglas as a pilot, and ten men. Two days afterwards, the Beagle sailed, to examine the western coast of Chilóe, and the Chonos Archipelago.

* Orders in Appendix, No. 21.

Dec. 2d. While standing towards distant mountainous land, about the latitude of 45°, we saw a comparatively low and level island* considerably detached from those which seemed like Tierra del Fuego, being a range of irregular mountains and hills, forming apparently a continuous coast. This level island I have since ascertained to be that formerly called Nuestra Senora del Socorro, where Narborough anchored and landed, in 1670 [November 26, 1670]. It was selected in 1740, by Anson, as a rendezvous for his squadron; but no one seemed to know where to look for it: the Anna Pink having made the land in 45° 35', and the unfortunate Wager in 47°, near Cape Tres Montes. Narborough mentions seeing ‘an old Indian hut’ on this island; and in a MS. journal, written by Moraleda† (now in my possession) it is said that the former natives of the Chonos used to make annual excursions to that as well as other outlying islands. After witnessing the distance to which savages venture in such frail canoes as those of Tierra del Fuego, it does not surprise one to find them going fifteen or twenty miles across an open space of sea in such large canoes as those of the Chonos Indians, which are indeed boats. Fuegian wigwams have been found upon Staten Land and upon Noir Island, each of which is as far from any neighbouring coast as Socorro is from the nearest shore.

* About three or four hundred feet in height, excepting one hill, which is seven hundred feet.

† MS. Diary of Moraleda's examination of Chilóe and part of the Chonos Islands in 1787-93, given to me at Lima, by a friend to whom I am much indebted for valuable information.

While Narborough's ship was under sail, near Socorro, he went in his boat to the island which is nearest to it, by him named Narborough Island.* There he landed, and took possession for his Majesty and his heirs.†

* “Neither the chart in Ulloa, nor any of the Spanish charts lately in use, show the name of N.S. del Socorro to any island near the coast hereabouts. The Spanish Atlas of 1798, places an island very near the coast> in 44° 50' S. latitude, which in shape and situation answers nearly to Narborough's description of the island, to which he gave his own name.”—(Burney, vol. iii. p. 360. Note.)

† “I saw no kind of mineral in it. Not finding this island noted in any draught [sic, “noted in my Draughts”], I called it after my own name, Narbrough Island, and took possession of it for his Majesty and his heirs.”—(Narborough's Voyage to Patagonia and Chile, in 1669-1671.)

3d. Having passed the night quietly at single anchor, near the north-east point of Socorro, we weighed and continued our route to and fro along the coast, taking angles, soundings, and observations. On the 5th, we were near Huafo,* which, to our surprise, we found to be twenty-five miles farther north than the Spanish charts (following Moraleda) showed its position, yet the longitude was almost correct. In a small cove, near the south-east point of Huafo, we anchored, but broke a bower-anchor in doing so; for the cove is small—an unexpected puff of wind gave us too much way—and dropping the bower in haste, it fell upon a rock, and broke.† Only two days before another anchor was broken, near Socorro, by the ship pitching while a short scope of cable was out, and the anchor hooking to a rock. I found, on landing, that the formation of the island, like that of Socorro and Narborough Island, is a soft sandstone, which can be cut with a knife as easily as a cake of chocolate.

* Called by Narborough “No-man's Island.”

† Or between two rocks, so that the first sudden strain snapped the shank.

These three outlying islands are thickly wooded, rather level, compared with their neighbours, and not exceeding eight hundred feet in height. There are few, if any others, like them in the Chonos Archipelago; almost all the rest, however portions of some may resemble them, being mountainous, and very like those of Tierra del Fuego and the west coast of Patagonia, beyond 47° south; therefore I need only remark, that the vegetation is more luxuriant; that there is a slight difference in it, consequent probably upon a milder climate; that some productions, such as canes and potatoes, &c., are found there which do not grow near the Strait of Magalhaens; and that in other respects, as to appearance, nature, and climate, the Chonos Archipelago is like Tierra del Fuego in summer.

We remained a few days in San Pedro harbour; and on the 9th Mr. Sulivan and his party joined us. Next day Mr. Stokes and I endeavoured to get to the top of the mountain named Huampelen, Huamblin, or San Pedro; but after climbing, creeping, struggling, and tumbling about, among old decayed trees, strongly interwoven canes, steep, slippery places, and treacherous bog, we failed, and gave up the attempt. Mr. Darwin, Douglas, and others were with me, but we were all foiled.

11th. Having despatched Mr. Sulivan, with the same party excepting Mr. Darwin, we got under weigh, and hastened towards the middle of the Chonos group, in order to find a port whence Mr. Stokes might set out to explore northwards, while I should examine the southern half of the archipelago.

13th. We succeeded in finding a sheltered, and apparently safe anchorage in a road named by me Vallenar, because it corresponded in situation to an island so called in an old chart, said to be of the Chonos, but which bore no resemblance whatever to them. However, being anxious to remove no “neighbour's landmark,” and retain original names, when they could be ascertained, I kept them wherever I was able to do so. As to the native names, those given by Indians, I had not the means of finding them out, for no inhabitants were seen; but, so far as Moraleda had collected them from his Indian interpreters, and made them known by his chart,* I have scrupulously followed him.†

* Now in my possession.§

§ Presumably, José Moraleda's 1788 Plano del Puerto de Valdivia, National Archives (UK) ADM 352/285.

† His Huamblin and Ipun I take to be Socoro and Narborough Islands, but am not certain.

16th. Mr. Stokes set out, in a whale-boat, to work northwards, as near the sea-coast as possible, and meet me at a harbour in the Huaytecas group of islands, now called Port Low. He was accompanied by Mr. Low, Mr. May,* and four men.† Moraleda, in his diary and chart, describes a channel which crosses the Chonos Archipelago, and is called by the natives ‘Ninualac.’‡ Through this passage the Chonos Indians used to go once or twice a year to inspect the small herds of goats, or flocks of sheep which they then had upon those outlying islands I have already mentioned, namely Huamblin^ (Socorro), and Ipun (Narborough); as well as upon others, of which I believe Lemu, a woody island on the north side of Vallenar Road, was one. Moraleda himself explored part of the continent, and some of the islands adjacent to it (between 1786 and 1796), but he saw nothing of the sea face of the Chonos. What few notices of it existed, prior to 1834, were obtained from the voyage of Ladrilleros in 1557; from the Anna Pink in 1741; from Machado in 1769; and from the Santa Barbara in 1792; which, when compared together, tended to confuse a hydrographer more than they assisted him. In Spanish charts of the coast from Cape Tres Montes northward to Taitaohaohuon (a name long enough to perplex more verbose men than sailors) from which all others, of that coast, were copied, that portion must have been originally laid down according to magnetic, instead of true bearing; and the fragments of knowledge acquired, about the latitude of 46° S., from the master of the Anna Pink, the pilot Machado, and the officers of the Santa Barbara frigate, clashed so much that their result was what we see in the charts hitherto used, a dotted line, and a few straggling islands, totally unlike the truth, leading one to expect a comparatively open space, whereas there is a succession of high and considerable islands, so near one another, that from the offing they ‘make ‘like a solid unbroken coast.

* Having very little occupation on board, in his own particular line, just at that time, Mr. May volunteered to take an oar, as one of the boat's crew.

† Orders in Appendix, No. 22.

‡ “Gran Canal de Ninualac, que atraviese el Archipielago, per el informe del practice Hueñupal que casi anualmente la transita con el motivo expresado en el Diario.”—(Moraleda's MS. Chart, 1795.)

^ Huamblin, if, as I suppose it, a corruption of Huampelen, means ‘on watch,’ ‘posted as a sentinel:’ Ipun means ‘swept off,’ or ‘swept away:’ Lemu means ‘wood:’ names singularly applicable to each of those islands respectively.

While on this subject I may remind the reader that besides the expeditions above-mentioned, the missionary voyages described by Agueros (Appendix, No. 23), the important undertaking of Sarmiento, and the disastrous voyage of the Wager, there have been other visitors to the west coast of Patagonia, part of whose acquired information, though slight, is upon record.

In 1552, two ships, commanded by Don Francisco de Ulloa, were sent by Valdivia to gain some knowledge of the Strait of Magalhaens.* The journal of their voyage is not extant. Five years afterwards (in 1557), Don Garcia Hurtado, Viceroy of Peru, sent two vessels to examine the southern part of the coast of Chile, as far as the Strait of Magalhaens. The commander was Juan Ladrilleros, and with him were two pilots, named Hernan Gallego and Pedro Gallego. A mutiny took place, and one ship deserted, but with the other Ladrilleros persevered, passed four months in the Strait at anchor during the winter, then reconnoitred the eastern entrance, and afterwards sailed back to Chile, where he at last arrived with only one seaman and a negro, the rest of his people having perished by exposure to hardships, by scurvy, or by famine. The principal geographical information obtained at so high a price, was some slight knowledge of Chilóe, and the archipelago of islands near it.—(Burney, vol. i. p. 246-9.)

* Pastene, a Genoese, was, I believe, in this expedition. His MS. Journal is said to exist in the archives of Barcelona.

Sarmiento's expedition in 1579-1580, has already been often quoted in the first volume of this narrative.

In 1675 Antonio de Vea was sent from Peru in a ship, accompanied by small barks, as tenders, to reconnoitre the Gulf of Trinidad, and the western entrance of Magalhaens Strait. De Vea made an examination of those places, and was convinced, from the poverty of the land, that no settlement of Europeans could be maintained there. One of the Spanish barks, with a crew of sixteen men, was wrecked on the small islands called Evangelists, at the west entrance of the Strait. De Vea returned to Callao in 1767.—(Burney, iv. 76.)

In 1681, the notorious Sharp anchored in a gulf, surrounded by craggy mountains, whose tops were covered with snow, in 50° 40'. south latitude; where “the difference of the rise and fall of the tide was seven feet perpendicular.” Sharp named the anchorage Shergall's Harbour, the sound he called English Gulf; and the islands adjacent “Duke of York's Islands.” The account of this buccaneer's visit is sufficiently connected with the object of this volume, to warrant my inserting it in the Appendix, copied verbatim from that interesting work, invaluable to seamen and hydrographers, Burney's History of the Discoveries in the South Sea.*

* In this extract from Burney (Appendix No. 23), there is a criticism upon a hydrographical error, made by some copyist, which is interesting to me from its correspondence with what I suspect to have taken place in the old charts of Nassau Bay and Cape Horn (See pages 122, 123.)

18th Dec. The Beagle weighed and sailed out of Vallenar Road, after experiencing the shelter afforded by that anchorage, during a heavy gale from the south-west and southward.

At day-light on the 20th we were off Cape Tres Montes: having a fine day and smooth water, we surveyed the coast between that promontory and San Andres Bay, but it became dark before an anchorage could be gained. Next morning we anchored in a narrow creek,* close by a singular cone (1,300 feet high), an unfaihng landmark. Finding it a place difficult to get out of, and not to be recommended, unless in distress, we did not stay there long, but moved to a cove at the southwest part of the bay.† While under sail for this purpose, advantage was taken of an interval of moderate weather to run several miles along the coast northward, and back again. Strong gales set in afterwards and kept us prisoners several days. This Christmas was unlike the last: it was a sombre period. The wind blew heavily (though we did not feel it much, being well sheltered); all looked dismal around us; our prospects for the future were sadly altered; and our immediate task was the survey of another Tierra del Fuego, a place swampy with rain, tormented by storms, without the interest even of population: for hitherto we had neither found traces,‡ nor heard the voices of natives.

* Cone Creek.

† Christmas Cove.

‡ With one exception. On a height near Cone Creek Mr. Darwin found, in a sheltered hollow of the rock, strewed with dry grass, what appeared to him the place on which a man had slept. For some time this puzzled us considerably: probably a sealer had slept there.

28th. Directly the weather would admit, we weighed and coasted along till the sun was getting low, when we ran under shelter from sea and wind, and anchored in the corner of a bay which I afterwards concluded must be the bay or port called Stephens, and more properly, San Estevan. While we were furling sails, some men were seen on a point of land near the ship, making signals to us in a very earnest manner. Being dressed as sailors, it was natural for us to conclude that they were some boat's crew left there to collect seal-skins. A boat was sent to them, and directly she touched the land they rushed into her, without saying a word, as men would if pursued by a dreaded enemy; and not till they were afloat could they compose themselves enough to tell their story. They were North American sailors, who had deserted from the Frances Henrietta (a whaler of New Bedford), in October 1833. When off Cape Tres Montes, but out of sight of land, and in the middle af the night, these six men lowered a boat and left their ship, intending to coast along until they should arrive at Chilóe. Their first landing was effected on the 18th, but owing to negligence the boat was so badly stove that they could not repair her, and all their hopes of effecting a coasting voyage were thus crushed in the very outset.

Finding it impossible to penetrate far into the country, on account of its ruggedness, and thick forests, which, though only trifling in height, were almost impervious, they began a pilgrimage along-shore; but it was soon evident, to their dismay, that there were so many arms of the sea to pass round, and it was so difficult to walk, or rather climb, along the rocky shores, that they must abandon that idea also, and remain stationary. To this decision they were perhaps more inclined after the death of one of their number; who, in trying to cross a chasm between two cliffs, failed in his leap, fell, and was dashed to pieces. Their permanent abode was then taken up at the point which shelters Port San Estevan, now called Rescue Point; where they passed a year in anxious hope. Of course the few provisions which their boat had carried ashore were soon exhausted, and for thirteen months they had lived only upon seals' flesh, shell-fish, and wild celery: yet those five men, when received on board the Beagle, were in better condition, as to healthy fleshiness, colour, and actual health, than any five individuals belonging to our ship. Few remarks worth noticing had been made by them, as the only experienced man (whose name was John Lawson) lost his life as above-mentioned. There was an almost continual succession of rain and wind for several months after their first landing, except from the 20th to the 29th of December, which passed without rain: in July (1834) they had an extraordinary storm from southwest, which began early one morning, after a rainy night with northerly wind: and in November (1834) there were twenty-one days successively without rain. One day (in May) they saw eight vessels sailing northwards together; excepting which, not a sail was ever seen by their aching eyes till the Beagle hove in sight. Between San Andres, near which they first landed, and San Estevan, the hull of a small vessel was found, quite bedded in sand; she seemed to be about thirty-five tons burthen, from thirty to thirty-five feet in the keel, and about sixteen broad. She was full-built; neither coppered nor sheathed. In a cave, which had been used as a dwelling, near San Andres, the skull of a man was found, and some burned wood. A bracelet of beads was lying in the cave, but they noticed nothing else. The skull seemed to them to have been that of a black man. No animals were seen at any time except deer and nutria, seal and otter; the former were of a reddish colour, with short straight horns, and very rough coats: no traces of other quadrupeds were observed, nor during the whole fourteen months did they ever meet a native human being. They told me that the night tides seemed always to be a foot or more higher than those of the day, which, as they said, rose from four to seven or eight feet perpendicularly. I had intended to explore the interior of Port San Estevan; but as they had already done so, and found it terminate in a fresh water river, or rather mountain stream, I gave up that plan, and sailed next day.

29th. While examining the coast towards Cape Taytao* (I must omit haohuon), we found a very dangerous patch of rocks,† five miles from the nearest land; there are soundings near them. In the evening we dropped our anchor under Inchemo Island; an interesting locality, because there the Anna Pink anchored before she was drifted across the adjacent bay into Port Refuge (in 1741).

* Cape Taytao is a high bold promontory.

† Hellyer Rocks.

30th. On landing an old wooden hut was discovered in a sheltered corner, and we found that the island was overrun with goats, which I suppose to have been left by the Santa Barbara's crew, if not by Machado's people. While Mr. Stokes and I were engaged with the instruments, and two boats sounding, a couple of guns were sent against the goats, and in consequence of their effectual employment in the hands of Mr. Bynoe and H. Fuller, all on board had a good fresh meal the next two days. After noon we sailed across the Bay,* and found a snug, though very small cove,† where we moored in security, and remained till the 4th of January, exploring the neighbourhood—an unprofitable wilderness of rocky mountains, woody and swampy valleys, islands and rocks in profusion, and inlets or arms of the sea penetrating in every direction.

* Now called Anna Pink Bay.

† Patch Cove.

On the 4th we moved to Port Refuge, a safe, but out of the way place. In the “narrative of what befel the Anna Pink,” given in Anson's Voyage, this harbour is described in very glowing colours; but we may remember that those who discovered it, were there saved from destruction; and naturally looked upon all things around them with excited feelings.* How the officers of the Santa Barbara made their survey of this port and its neighbourhood I am at a loss to know; a mere eye-sketch, drawn upon the spot, might have been much better than that which they gave to the world as a mathematical plan. In their distorted representation of Port Refuge, many soundings have been scattered, apparently at random, and quite at variance with truth. This is so unlike most Spanish works of a similar nature, some of which are very accurate,† considering the date of their manufacture, and the means employed,—that I conclude the officers of that frigate, not understanding marine surveying, merely drew rough sketches of what they saw, which were afterwards ‘cooked’ into a more regular ‘appearance,’ by some one who was not on board with them. Had time allowed I should have explored the Gulf of San Rafael, at the back of Tres Montes Peninsula,‡ but knowing that it could only be an object of geographical, not immediately practical interest to do so, I refrained from indulging mere curiosity, much as I desired to corroborate the account of Spanish missionaries who often went there, crossing the Isthmus of Ofqui, in search of Indians among the Guaianeco islands, and even farther south, of whom they might make converts to Christianity. Doubtless some of these voyages were undertaken and completed with benevolent and single-minded intentions; but I suspect that others were conducted on a different principle; and that their chief object was to procure able-bodied slaves to be employed in the mines of Chilóe or Southern Chile. I should be glad to learn that this suspicion is ill-founded.^

* Anson's Voyage, chapter iii.

† Exclusive of mistakes made by compilers or translators.

‡ Appendix, No. 24.

^ It is difficult to account for the present abandoned state of these regions, if no harsh usage was experienced by their former natives.

On the 7th we anchored in Port Low, and found Mr. Stokes just arrived, after a fagging cruise among the Chonos islands. His journal contains a great deal of information, from which I have extracted those passages most likely to interest the general reader.

His whale-boat was so loaded at starting (16th Dec.) that her gunwale amidships was but a foot above water. She was twenty-five feet long and six feet broad, and then carried seven men, besides instruments and a month's provisions. Of water she had only two ‘barecas,’ because on that coast fresh water is only too plentiful. In passing a promontory, the following day, while their boat was still deep, the swell became so great that Mr. Low said he had never before been in a boat exposed to greater danger.

In some places where they landed the woods were so thick that Mr. Stokes was obliged to climb trees to get angles; and not being able to tell previously which would answer his purpose, sometimes he made three or four useless ascents, before he could obtain a view: “but,” he says “there is a pleasure I cannot express in roaming over places never visited by civilized man.” On Rowlett Island potatoes were found growing wild; the largest dug up measured two inches in length, and an inch in thickness: they were quite tasteless.

At the east side of Ipun, on Narborough Island, an excellent small port was found, which was named Scotchwell Harbour. On the shore, near it, was a large bed of strawberries, like those that grow in English woods; and there was a sweet-scented pea, besides abundance of other vegetable produce, both herbage and wood, and plenty of water.

“Hitherto, all the islands we had seen were of slate-rock, some parts so soft, that I could break them easily with my finger, and I found that they blacked my hand, like plumbago; but Ipun is quite different in structure, being an earthy sandstone.”*

* Stokes, MS.

Syzygial high water at Ipun takes place at noon, and the tide rises six or eight feet. The flood-tide conaes from the southward.

At May Harbour (which may be the Bello Dique of the Santa Barbara), many cypress trees were noticed, for the first time hereabouts, and a surprising number of otters. The tide rose seven feet. About the Huaytecas Islands, the northernmost of the Archipelago, quantities of excellent oysters were found, quite as good as any sold in London. No quadrupeds were seen, except nutria and otters, which were numerous. Their numbers, and the quantity of birds, show that Indians do not now frequent that quarter; indeed, no traces of them whatever were found by Mr. Stokes, or any of our party, among the Chonos islands.

10th. While lying at Port Low we caught plenty of fish with the seine; we obtained oysters from neighbouring creeks, and shot ducks and geese, so there was no want of fresh provision. Some piraguas from Chilóe were in the port: the Chilotes in them were in search of otters, seals, and nutria, and had come across the gulf of Huafo, in their ill-conditioned vessels, with no little trepidation.

On an outlying islet, near Port Low, I first saw the wild potato. Next to seeing a wild man, I recollect few objects which struck me much more than that group of wild potatoes:—but I have neither inclination nor space here to speak of my own sensations. The stems, leaves, and flowers of these vegetables were as large, and appeared to be as healthy, as those in an English garden, but the potatoes at their roots were small, watery, and insipid. It ought to be recollected, however, that we saw them early in January—corresponding to July—many weeks, at least, before one could expect to find eatable potatoes in an English field.

It was remarked in the Chonos islands, as well as in Tierra del Fuego, that the trees which grow in thin soil, lying upon slaty rocks, extend their roots so horizontally that it is not surprising to find, running through woodland, broad tracts whence the shallow-rooted trees have been swept away, partly by wind, partly by the action of mountain-torrents.* As wood grows even at the water's edge in those countries, where not exposed to the first attack of wind from seaward, and as there are so many loose overhanging masses of rock, one cannot be surprised at the vast quantities of drift-wood found in some places; or think it improbable for a quadruped to be occasionally precipitated into the sea, with a falling mass of rocks and trees, and afterwards drifted by wind and current to some other locality.

* The writer of Anson's voyage, speaking of Juan Fernandez, exactly describes the loose state of trees in such places, when he says, “The northern part of this island is composed of high, craggy hills, many of them inaccessible, though generally covered with trees. The soil of this part is loose and shallow, so that very large trees on the hills soon perish for want of root, and are then easily overturned, which occasioned the death of one of our sailors; who being upon the hills, in search of goats, caught hold of a tree upon a declivity, to assist him in his ascent, and this giving way, he immediately rolled down the hill; and though in his fall he fastened on another tree of considerable bulk, yet that, too, gave way, and he fell among the rocks, and was dashed to pieces. Mr. Brett likewise met with an accident, only by resting his back against a tree, near as large about as himself, which stood on a slope; for the tree giving way, he fell to a considerable distance, though without receiving any injury.”—(Anson's Voyage, 8vo. edit,, p. 159.)

From Port Low we saw a notable mountain, one of the Cordillera of the Andes, having three points upon a small flat top, about eight thousand feet above the sea. I called it the Trident at that time; but afterwards learned that there are four peaks (one of which was hid by another from our point of view), and that it is called by the aborigines Meli-moyu, which in the Huilli-che language signifies four points.

Three other remarkable mountains, active volcanoes, are visible from the northern Huaytecas islands, as well as from Chilóe; I mean the Corcobado (hump-backed), of which I do not remember the Indian name; Yanteles (or Yanchinu, which means ‘having a shivering, and unnatural heat’), and Minchenmadom, which, in the Huilli-che tongue, means ‘under a firebrand’; names so expressive and appropriate as to put to shame much of our own nomenclature. Wherever I have been able to discover the aboriginal name of a place in South America, and could ascertain its meaning, I have been struck by the extreme appositeness, as well as by the copious though condensed allusion usually conveyed.

In Chilóe and about the north-eastern Chonos Islands, almost all the aboriginal names are preserved, because there interpreters could be procured; but, of course such advantages were generally unattainable in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. In Chilóe, as in Araucania, every corner and every conspicuous spot, whether land or water, has a particular and expressive name, a word usually compounded of two or three others: thus, Huapi-quilan means Three Islands: Calbu-co, Blue Water; Cauca-huapi, Gull Island; Huechu-cucuy, Point Cucuy,* or Grandmother; Carel-mapu (Cara-el-mapu), Bad-city-country; Petu-cura, middle stone (a rock in Chacao Narrow), &c.

* Cucuy is the name of a bird, much noticed by the aborigines because its motions are supposed to be ominous: it also means grandmother.

15th. We sailed from Port Low and went to Huafo once more, wishing to give Mr. Darwin an opportunity of examining it geologically. There are now no inhabitants on that island, though there are a good many sheep belonging to Chilotes, who live at Caylin. Formerly there were Indians called Huyhuen-che,* upon Huafo; but the Spaniards obliged them to quit it, for fear they should give information or supplies to English ships. Near the Beagle, when at anchor, there was a square place, like an entrance to some cave, seemingly cut by man in the soft sand-stone rock; and I have since often reproached myself for having left the place without ascertaining its real nature. It may be the entrance to some cave, formerly used as a burying-place, similar to those explored by Low, and by the surgeon of the Wager.

* The Huyhuen-che, often called Huyhuenes, were a tribe of Chonos Indians, adjoining the Pichi-huilli-che, who lived in the northern portion of Chilóe. The word Huyhuen signifies ‘whistle,’ or ‘hiss,’ or ‘to whistle, or hiss.’

On the 17th we sailed, and next day anchored off Point Arena, in San Carlos Harbour. Lieutenant Sulivan, with his party, had arrived a few days previously, after a very satisfactory cruise. We found his boats hauled up and refitted, his people lodged under their tents, and himself with Mr. Usborne busily occupied in my little observatory, laying down the work for which they had collected materials. Thus we were again assembled in safety, after being considerably divided, and, in consequence, exposed to numerous dangers which human prudence can neither foresee nor prevent. As some soundings were still wanted near the English bank, and about the approach to San Carlos, we employed the 19th in taking them, on board the Beagle, accompanied by her boats, and returned to our usual anchorage, close to Point Arena, at dark.

When sounding on the English bank, we repeatedly tried to ascertain its nature by forcing a very long iron lance downwards as far as possible. The instrument penetrated about two feet into sand in all instances but one, when it was stopped abruptly by a substance which bent the lance and turned its point. It did not, however, feel like rock, rather, I should say, like hard wood.* This hard place was about a square yard in extent, and all around was sand.

* Mr. Sulivan had the lance in his hand at that time.

In the night, or rather from two to three the following morning, Osorno was observed in eruption, throwing up brilliant jets of flame or ignited matter, high into the darkness, while lava flowed down its steep sides in torrents, which from our distance (seventy-three miles) looked merely like red lines. Daybreak diminished the effect, and as the light increased only a dark column of smoke could be discerned. This mountain is one of the most striking in form which I ever saw. It is not only quite conical from the base to the summit, but it is so sharply pointed that its appearance is very artificial. When seen from the sea, at a distance of ninety or a hundred miles, the whole of the cone, 6,000 feet in height* at least, and covered with snow, stands out in the boldest relief from among ranges of inferior mountains. The apex of this cone being very acute, and the cone itself regularly formed, it bears a resemblance to a gigantic glass-house; which similitude is increased not a little by the column of smoke so frequently seen ascending.

* The volcano of Osorno, or Purraraque, or Huenauca, is 7,550 feet above the sea level.

We remained till the 4th of February in the port of San Carlos. Mr. Darwin profited by the opportunity afforded to make an excursion into the interior of the island, while the surveying party were occupied in arranging data, in laying down chart-work, and in taking and calculating observations. I paid Douglas for his services and for a variety of information collected for me, from which—from Lieut. Sulivan's journal—and from my own notes—I shall now add such few notices of Chilóe as I think may be interesting, and which have not been already introduced in the first volume. (pp. 269—301.)

Various accounts have been given of the characters and dispositions of the Chilotes. Some have said that they are a noble, industrious, and docile race; others that they are dishonest, idle, and ill-disposed: to reconcile these contradictory accounts is, therefore, at first sight, rather perplexing. There are four distinct classes of inhabitants in Chilóe and the adjacent islands;* the aboriginal Huyhuen-che, or Chonos; the Huilli-che, who came from southern Chile; the foreigners, those neither born in Chilóe nor descended from Chilotes; and the Creoles. Of these the Chonos are now nearly lost: in consequence of disease and emigration they have by degrees abandoned not only Chilóe but the adjacent Chonos islands, and are only found southward. Some Indians to the south-west of Castro, in the interior of the island near the lake Cucao, are under the nominal jurisdiction of their own caciques: whether they are Chonos or Huilli-che, I did not ascertain clearly. Being a race who are naturally little inclined to cultivate the soil, and preferring a comparatively idle life among muscles, seal, and fish, to voluntary labour on their own account, with a considerable degree of compulsory toil for the Spanish Government and priests, they quitted Chilóe in successive families. From them, probably, are derived the glimmerings of religion, and the crosses among the Indians of Madre de Dios, and other parts of the west coast of Patagonia. That their canoes or rather piraguas, should be similar to those of Chilóe seems natural enough; but the fact is that the Chonos people taught the Huilli-che how to make them.† Coming from an inland district near Valdivia, the Huilli-che had never required boats, though they knew how to cultivate potatoes, maize, and beans; how to make ‘ponchos,’ and take care of sheep and cattle. These, though more industrious, and in some respects better members of society, are a tame and docile race compared with the Chonos, whose spirit of independence has shown itself in their migration, and impatience of mis-government.

* The smaller islands of the Archipelago of Chilóe, those in the gulf between Chil6e and the main-land, called the Gulf of Ancoed or Ancud.

† These piraguas are extremely like the Madras surf-boats. (See vol. i. p. 285, for a description of the piragua.

The principal population of Chilóe is now Huilli-che, nominally Christian but painfully ignorant of pure Christianity. Abandoned to the crooked direction of ungodly pastors, intent upon their own worldly interest instead of the welfare of their flock, extorting ‘primicias* and tithes from poor Indians, whom they scarcely see once in a year (I speak advisedly)—and taught only the Romish doctrine in its worst form; can any one expect the poor Chilotes to be really religious and consequently moral? That they should be extremely superstitious is much more probable, and such is the fact. Their's is a confused demi-religion, in which a medley of ideas concerning the Virgin Mary, saints, images, and witches,† is found far more often than any clear reference to our Saviour or the Ahmighty.

* First fruits of everything, animal as well as vegetable.

† They are implicit believers in witchcraft.

In the foregoing remarks on the Roman Catholic priests at Chilóe whom I conversed with and heard much about between 1829 and 1835, I do not include all. There was certainly one man (I hope there were more) whom I believe to have been as sincerely pious, and therefore good, as any Roman Catholic, but there were others whose lives scandalized even their nominal Christianity.

The foreigners settled in Chilóe of course resemble their own countrymen as to morals and habits, not being likely to take example from the Indians: and the Creoles adopt their ideas as hastily as our milliners adopt French fashions. But there is a virtue in Chilóe, which if sins could be atoned for by the good works of man alone, would go far towards purchasing good treatment and very slight purgatory for the souls of Chilotes: I mean the warm-hearted kindness shewn to one another, and particularly to strangers. Conspicuous as such a feeling of hospitality and disinterested good-nature is among the descendants of Spaniards in South America, it is no where more to be observed than in Chilóe,

Increased intercourse with other countries is annually diminishing the local peculiarities of Chilote society, a remarkable one being that of transacting mercantile business by barter, for want of current coin. Planks of alerse, indigo, tobacco, pepper, salt, &c. were substitutes for silver and gold in 1829, excepting among a very few foreigners or comparatively rich descendants of Spaniards and Creoles. At that time it was extremely difficult to get a few dollars in exchange for a bill upon good security at Valparaiso, even at the exorbitant price of sixty-pence English for each dollar. In 1834, so much had the state of trade improved at San Carlos, that there was no difficulty in obtaining as many dollars as we wanted for forty-eight pence each.

In the first volume most of the products of Chilóe are mentioned, except fish and coal. Of the shell-fish there is a full account, but I may here add that smelt, mullet, a kind of bass, and other fish are plentiful during the summer months. The natives often catch many more than they want by placing very simple weirs across creeks at high-water, with a passage in the middle, which is shut when the tide begins to ebb. Some of these weirs are rough stone walls (on a small scale), others are wattled like hurdles. The number of fish kept back by them and left dry, as the water falls, is really surprising. Seals are now rare, and whales are fast diminishing in numbers. There is a good deal of coal in Chilóe, but I am told that it is of an inferior description, like that of Concepcion. Geologists say it is not true coal: lignite would be a more appropriate term. Be this as it may I tried some of it* in my cabin stove, and found it [to] burn readily, though what I had was a lump taken from the surface of the ground. The Chilotes scarcely noticed it then, having so much wood around them, but a day may arrive in which its value may be better appreciated.

* Obtained for me by Mr. Robert Williams from the neighbourhood of San Carlos.

Next to San Carlos,* in size and population, is Castro, the former seat of Government, which has dwindled to a mere village. Chacao, where the governor afterwards resided, is only a hamlet. Remains of a town, such as lines of streets and the ruins of a church, are visible, but there are now only a few stragghng cottages and a ruinous chapel. It is said, on the spot, that the former church of Chacao was burned by the old Spaniards, to oblige the natives to quit the place and go to San Carlos. Castro, formerly styled a city, now consists of two or three short streets of bad wooden houses and two churches: one of which was built by the Jesuits more than a hundred years ago, and is fast decaying though‘shored up’ (supported by props) on all sides.

* Described in vol. i. p. 274-5.

The first discovery of Chilóe was made by Spaniards in 1558, one of whom was Ercilla.§ Enthusiastic in every thing, the warrior-poet tells us that he ran to a tree, half-a-mile south of the place where his companions halted, and cut some lines on the bark.*

* “Aqui llegó, donde otro no ha llegado,
Don Alonso de Ercilla, que el primero
En un pequeño barco deslastrado
Con solos diez, pasó el desaguadero
El año de cincuenta y ocho entrado
Sobre mil y quinientos por Hebrero,
A las dos de la tarde el postrer dia,
Volviendo a la dexada compaña."

La Araucana, Canto xxxvi.

§ FitzRoy mentions Alonso de Ercilla (1533-1594) several times in this and succeeding chapters. All references are to Ercilla's poem, La Araucana. Excerpts are in the original Spanish, except for two which FitzRoy has translated into English.

The populous state of Chilóe, in 1558, when first visited by Europeans may be estimated by Ercilla's description, allowing for poetical license. All accounts agree in stating that the Chonos Indians, or Huyhuen-che, were once very numerous.

“Era un ancho archipielago poblado
De innumerables islas deleytosas,
Cruzando por el uno y otro lado
Gondolas y piraguas presurosas:
*     *     *     *     *     *    
Llego una corva gondola ligera
De doce largos remos impelida.”

La Araucana, Cantos xxxv and xxxvi.

That the Spaniards then with Ercilla, were thought to be deities, is shown by the following lines:—

“Hombres, o Dioses rusticos, nacidos
En estos sacros bosques y montañas,
Por celeste influencia producidos,” &c.

Idem, Canto xxxvi.

Some years afterwards (in 1566) Castro was founded, to be the capital, and Chacao for a sea-port. From this time till about 1633 mines were worked in Chilóe, but then discontinued, partly because they were less productive than those of Chile, and partly on account of the difficulty of obtaining labourers after a raging epidemic had carried off one-third of the aboriginal inhabitants; and fear of infection as well as horror of the mining slavery, had driven away a large portion of the residue.* About this time the Huilli-che were carried to Chilóe, in addition to those who liad accompanied the fugitives from Osorno (in 1599—1604) to Calbuco, Carel-mapu, and thence to Chilóe; who being a docile patient race, accustomed to agriculture, increased rapidly and supplanted the Chonos emigrants.

* These were Huyhuenes, or Chonos, whose place was afterwards supplied by Huilli-che from southern Chile.

We read in the narrative of Brouwer's voyage (1643) that the port which the Dutch called Brouwer's Haven, was by some called Chilova, and by others English Haven: and in 1624, according to Agüeros (quoting D. Cosme Bueno), Englishmen were on this coast: but I think it more probable that the Bank Ingles and Port Ingles, near San Carlos, obtained those names from William Adams, in 1599,* rather than from them. In the Dutch chart published with the journal, this island is called Chiloue, and the adjacent gulf, Ankaos, or Ancoed.† Brouwer alarmed the inhabitants of Chilóe not a little, but they were even more frightened and harassed before that time by Cordes, in 1600; Spilbergen, in 1615; and afterwards by Shelvocke, in 1719; besides others.

* Voyage of Five Ships of Rotterdam, Burney, vol, ii. p. 193. (supposing 46° should be 42° S.)

† I mention this to show that the accent, or stress, was then upon the second syllable of that name, not upon the third. The name Chilóe is derived from Chilue, or, more strictly speaking, from Chili-hue (see Agueros and Molina), which means ‘farther,’ or ‘new,’ or ‘the end of’ Chili, and ought, by derivation, to have the accent, as Agueros placed it, on the o. No reason can be given by a Spaniard for placing an accent on the final e of that word, yet it is almost generally placed there. My own idea is that the French traders to Chile in 1700-1780, first placed an accent on the e in writing, and that Feuillée, Frezier, and others have been followed without inquiry. Had not the stress been laid on the o, surely the natives of Chiloe would have been called Chiloetes, or Chiloenos, instead of Chilotes. As to the name Chile, every one knows it is derived from the Indian word Chili, (Herrera, Ovalle, Agüeros, Molina, &c.) but why it was altered by the Spaniards to Chile, I have never been able to discover.

To guard against, or rather watch for such visitors, as well as to obtain the earliest intelligence of an enemy being on the coast, the Spaniards established look-out stations in commanding positions and outer points, such as Cocotue heights, Guabun Head, and Point Centinela; but at the present time no such precautions being thought necessary, there is a supine indifference to molestation.

Wherever Mr. Sulivan went with our boats, nearly all the Indians showed an anxiety for the island to be again under the dominion of Old Spain, and asserted that they were much happier and more prosperous before the revolution than they had ever been since. In a place where he passed two days (Huildad) there was an unusual difficulty in obtaining provisions, and it was accounted for by the natives in the following manner: the proprietor of the tithes had just been there, and had taken from them, in sheep and pigs, the full tenth, not only of those animals, but of the growing crops of corn, apples, and potatoes. He had taken away all that the poor people could be deprived of, excepting only what was absolutely necessary as stock for next year's supply.

Lieut. Sulivan says, in his journal:—“Besides the tithes, they have also to give ‘first fruits’ to the priests, and so hard are they on their parishioners, with respect to tithes and first fruits, that whether the yearly produce be bad or good, the same quantity must be contributed to swell the revenue of a person whom they seldom see, except at the times of collection.”

This oppression, however, is not allowed by the superiors of the Church, when it is duly represented and proved: for not long ago a curate was dismissed from his parish in Chilóe, because he was a severe extortioner: I was informed that during five years that man had amassed more than thirty thousand dollars.* Some of the natives complained bitterly to Lieut. Sulivan of the task—work they were compelled to perform.

* The number stated to me was 35,000;

At Lemuy he met a small piragua with only three men in it, who were on their way from Castro to Quelan. They had walked across the island from San Carlos where they had been working at the new mole, which all the ‘militia'* were obliged to do in turn, each man a fortnight: part of which time was allowed for the journey. These three had worked eight days, finding themselves in everything and receiving no pay; two were old men: one more than sixty years of age; and the third was the oldest man's son. They all declaimed against the so-called ‘Patriots’(Chilians) very vehemently, and asked repeatedly when they might hope to see the Spanish flag hoisted again. The old man had been a cacique, and under the Spanish authority had charge of a watch-house and a small party of men, on Point Centinela: but directly the Spaniards were overthrown he was made a private militia-man—“not to fight,” he said, “but to work.” If any public work was in progress, a party of militia-men were ordered to it, in their respective turns: and if the commandant had a friend to oblige, who wanted a job done, he would order a man to work at it for a week, when another would take his place, and so on. For these services no pay was given. The old man said that they were paid in money for every service performed when under the Spaniards; and he could hardly be made to believe that there was no prospect of their returning.

* Every able-bodied native man is enrolled in the local militia, and obliged to work thus till disabled by infirmity.

There is a marked difference of climate between the east and west sides of Chilóe, as to quantity of rain and wind. A proportion of both appears to be arrested (as it were) on the windward side of the heights, so that the neighbourhood of Castro and the islands in the Gulf of Ancud, enjoy much finer weather than is met with about San Carlos. But even there the inhabitants say a change has taken place gradually, and that they have not now nearly so much rain as used to fall formerly. They attribute this to the wood being cleared away, not only on Chilóe itself, but on the neighbouring Cordillera. There is an idea prevalent in Chilóe that, after a great eruption of Osorno in particular, or indeed of any of the neighbouring volcanoes, fine weather is sure to follow. Without denying the possibility of some such correspondence, I should incline to think that there have been accidental coincidences; and that fine weather occurring about or soon after those times, has been more remarked than at other periods.

On the little uninhabited island, Chiut, in the middle of Ancud Gulf, Mr. Sulivan found a great number of wild strawberries: they were not very good, being unripe. Near the islands beyond Chiut (called Desertas), on the shore of the main-land, he saw several piraguas stranded, evidently during a late gale, as their crews were engaged in repairing them on the beach.

In the island Alau, Lieut. Sulivan met an old native, about 112 years of age; who had great-grandchildren about him, from twelve to fourteen years old. His eyesight and intellectual faculties were still good, and he walked firmly. From the inhabitants of Alau, Mr. Sulivan heard that an English armed brig, accompanied by a Spanish vessel of war, had anchored at that island about seventy years before 1835 (1765). Our boats visited Calbuco, and happening to arrive during the time of Mass, found nobody stirring. At last one man came out of church—ran back instantly—as if to tell the news, and immediately hundreds came pouring out to see the strangers.

Calbuco, called also El Fuerte, is much superior to Castro in appearance as well as size. It ranks next to San Carlos, in consequence to the Chilotes. Near here it was that friendly Indians helping the distressed inhabitants of Osorno to escape from the Araucanians (1599-1605), raised a cry of Calbu-co (blue water), when, emerging from the woodland, they caught a glimpse of the sea.

Our party examined places on the east coast of Chilóe, where docks might be constructed, or vessels laid ashore with much facility, as the tide rises from fifteen to twenty-five feet in several land-locked coves where the swell of the ocean never penetrates.

Round Chilóe the flood tide-streams run both ways, from the south-west; and meet in the north-west part of Ancud Gulf; the times of syzygial high water, in all the archipelago, vary only from noon to an hour and half after noon. In December and January our boat expedition found that the night tides were always higher than those of the day, and the inhabitants said that was always the case in summer. In the months of July and August 1829 the day tides were higher than the night, I am quite certain; and an old Biscayan, resident near point Arena, told me that they were always so in winter: hence we may conclude they are regularly higher at that time of year.

I refrain from entering here into many very interesting customs of the Huilli-che, because they are almost the same as those of the Araucanian Indians, about whom so much has been sung or said by Ercilla, Molina, and others, because my pages are limited, there being still information of a newer character to be written; but I would ask the reader, who may feel interested about the migrations of our race, to compare such customs with those of the Polynesian islanders, especially that of the ‘Minga,’ and making ‘Cava.’ *

* The Minga is described in Molina, and Spanish authors. For an excellent discussion respecting the Cava, see Burney—Brouwer's Voyage, 1643, vol iii. p. 137, 8, 9.

The superstitious ideas, arising out of a debased Romish doctrine, have not deprived the Huilli-che of their belief in witchcraft, a belief held in common with all ignorant nations. Mr. Douglas, in his MS. Journal, says:—“No Chilote doubts the existence of wizards (bruxos). When I was a magistrate, a complaint was made to me of a young woman who, they asserted, had tried to bewitch a young man. The witnesses stated that she had bought from a professed witch (bruxa) a charm (llapui), which was produced in evidence. It consisted of a piece of loadstone, with iron filings adhering to it; some fish-scales; some hair and soap suds, proved to have been on the young man's face, and sold by the barber; some parings of his nails; a small dead lizard; some slips of a peculiar tree; and many other ingredients. With this charm, with two prepared apples, and a bottle half full of a liquid mixed by the witch, she proposed to win the young man's affections to such a degree that he would give her all his property. The liquid appeared to be a decoction of the deadly nightshade, and some poisonous ferns. The witnesses stated also, that this witch had a lantern made of the skin of a still-born child, which she lighted with a candle that burned with a blue flame; and gave out sparks, when the witch flew through the air from place to place.

“I have been informed,” continues Mr. Douglas, “upon indisputable authority, that such lanterns do exist; and that when two or more witches wish to communicate by signal, one of them ties a lantern to a long pole, and throws it up and down very quickly, making the sparks fly. The other then makes similar use of her lantern, at a considerable distance, and those who casually see the lights, think that a witch has flown from one place to the other. The magical art of the wizard is often exercised in a search for hidden treasure. There are some places where, in a dark night, inflammable gas, or phosphoric light, is seen, near the ground, not like a Will-o'-th'-wisp of Europe, but a clear steady light, of a white, yellow, or red colour. Popular superstition ascribes these lights to the ghosts of departed misers, watching their hidden treasure; and when one is discovered by any person, he calls a friend to assist him and watch it, about the time of new moon, until they ascertain the spot whence it proceeds; and there they dig in search of an anticipated heap of gold or silver. Not succeeding (of course), they apply to a wizard, who pretends to discover where the treasure lies, and what it is, by looking earnestly into a smooth slab of black stone (which I suppose to be basalt). The wizard may not himself find the prize, nor may he be present at the search; but, after telling the people where and when to dig, he takes good care to alarm and frighten them away in some strange manner, just at the moment they expect to grasp the store of gold. Among other devices, the wizard, or witch, pretends to cover a worsted thread with quicksilver, and holding it over the supposed place, allows the quicksilver to run off into the ground, and then he desires them to dig till they find the quicksilver, thus affording time for creating some sudden alarm, which they attribute to the ‘devoto,’ or familiar spirit of the deceased. It is believed by some that I am able to discover hidden treasure, and for my amusement I have more than once made an experiment before them, by sticking up two stakes in a line towards the light; then going a quarter of a circle round it, I stuck up two more stakes, also in a line towards it; and next day followed the lines to their crossing, at which spot I dug, and about two feet underground found a decayed tree.” (Whence a gaseous exhalation?)

Mr. Douglas's account of the life of an industrious Calbucano* is interesting. He says, that those who are called ‘hombres de bien’(honest men) are generally the sons of worthy parents, and who marry, while young, some hard-working sober woman. Such a pair, as one of these men and his wife, sow some corn and plant potatoes, then leave the land, with their house, in the care of an old relation, and go to the Cordillera to work in an astillero.† If their luck is good, that is, if they find plenty of fine, straight grained trees, not farther than usual from the sea,‡ this pair will cut and bring down five hundred boards in a month; then returning home they clean the potato grounds, and attend to domestic affairs, until their feet heal, and a paralytic motion of the legs, acquired in the astillero, has ceased. When quite refreshed they go for another cargo, and work till their legs and feet can stand it no longer. A third trip is afterwards made by the husband, for about a fortnight, to a nearer astillero, where he cuts pieces of timber and plank of as large a size as he can carry (tablones y cuartones), then returns to collect his harvest, make chicha, and sow corn for next year. The winter months are passed in comparative inactivity, but not without due consumption of cider and potatoes. Occasionally the Calbucano goes to San Carlos, to sell, or rather barter his boards for indigo, tobacco, red pepper, clothes, axes, spirits, &c.; and on these occasions, as well as when they go from Calbuco to the continent, several unite together to man a piragua, in the manner described by Captain King, vol. i, p. 285-6.

* Native of Calbuco.

† A timber-yard: or a place where alerse is cut down, on the flanks of the Cordillera of the Andes.

‡ From three to five miles.

Directly his children are able to walk a few miles, he takes them with him to the astillero; begins by giving them two half-boards to carry, and as they grow stronger, increases their load. At about sixteen they borrow an axe, and make the boards they afterwards carry. The alerse forests are like mines to the Calbucano; and nothing but old age or accident can check him from making boards after he has had one season of good luck. The profitable parts of the forests are now, of course, much farther from the sea than they were, owing to constant thinning. To get a load of twenty boards twice as much labour is therefore required as was necessary for a similar purpose thirty years ago. The largest alerse tree that has been found by any Calbucano during the last forty years, measured thirty feet in girth, at five feet from the ground; and more than seventy-six feet to the first branches. This famous tree gave eight lengths of boards and half a length. The two largest trees seen by Mr. Douglas, in his excursion for me, measured one twenty-four, and the other twenty-two feet round, at five feet from the ground: but these were dead trees, hollow in the centre. He saw none above ten feet in circumference, that were quite sound. Report, however, says, that in the Cordillera, out of reach of the Calbuco woodsmen, there are enormous trees, from thirty to forty feet in girth, and from eighty to ninety feet in height to the first branches, above which the heads of those giant trees are said to rise some forty or fifty feet. The alerse has short, stout branches, with leaves like those of a pine, in their bluish green colour, but shorter, being only half an inch long, and one-twentieth of an inch wide: on one stem there are four rows of these small leaves, at opposite sides.

Captain King has fully described the alerse (vol. i, p. 282-3), and the manner of making the boards. I will add a few notices of the way in which it is obtained.

In carrying his load along many miles of bad road from an ‘astillero,’ to the nearest water conveyance, the Calbucano wears a sheep-skin on his shoulders, under a woollen shirt, and taking a stick, with its lower end forked,* he trudges along with the load on one shoulder, and on the other the stick, which partly supports the weight till one shoulder is tired; he then shifts the burthen to the other, and goes on. This half rest is called ‘cantuntun.’ After eight, ten, or twelve of these, according to his strength, and the road, he casts down the load, and rests about ten minutes. This is his ‘descanso;’ and he makes about one such every two or three miles. The astillero of Melipulli is ten ‘descansos,’ a whole day's journey, from the place of embarkation. In examining the different forests of alerse, Mr. Douglas saw some immense land-slips (quechi), one of which was said to have brought down one thousand alerses, some of them being five fathoms round near the roots. This land-slip measured seven hundred yards in length and three hundred yards in width.

* To steady him across bridges of single trees, thrown over ravines, as well as to assist in supporting the load. Sometimes they climb up or down precipices with their loads, by a fallen tree, notched to receive the feet.

Mr. Douglas finds much fault with the manner in which the Chilotes associate for a voyage, or any joint undertaking. He says, “their voyages being planned like a commonwealth, it follows that their government on board must be republican, and the consequence is that every thing is decided by most votes and most noise.” He also complains of their extreme selfishness, and of their reluctance to do any thing, however trifling, for a neighbour, unless for a consideration; another evil consequence of democratic inclinations.

When Moraleda was about Chilóe he went across the cordillera to the lake Nahuel-huapi, in quest of information relative to the ‘Cesares;’ but he could hear nothing positive about any such city or people, from the Indians whom he met near that lake—well known to the Spaniards as a Jesuit missionary station. Mr. Douglas's father-in-law* once commanded a party sent from Chilóe to look for this reported city of ‘Cesares.’† He got over and beyond the Cordillera to an elevated plain, where he saw a very large number of Indian huts (toldos), placed so as to form regular streets. Near them were large droves of horses and cattle, and small patches of cultivated ground: but he had no time to make further remarks, for his party was discovered, vigorously attacked and driven back, with loss, to the sea. The old man said the climate and soil of that plain were better than those of Chilóe: and, as a proof of it, he found Indian corn with from five to nine large heads, though in Chilóe the same kind of plant only bears from one to three small heads.

* A Spaniard of Castile.

† Pon Pedro de Angelis, of Buenos Ayres, has collected and published a great number of documents relating to the ‘Cesares.’

A few of the remarks relative to Chilóe, contained in the preceding pages, arose out of an excursion made by me, in 1829, among the neighbouring islands: and many of the other notices mentioned by Captain King (vol. i.) or myself, and given in the narrative as they were received from our associates, were corroborated by what I then witnessed. The excursion alluded to was undertaken in consequence of two carpenters belonging to the Beagle being enticed to desert by a Roman Catholic priest named Forastes, who not only afforded them the means of travelling to Castro and Lemuy, but hid them on his own premises afterwards; and, when he heard that I was seeking for them among the islands, sent them across the gulf of Ancud, in a piragua, to remain in a cove near the Corcovado until the search should be over. One of these men was not worth taking trouble about; but the other was a man who had borne a high character, and had a wife and children in England depending upon him for support. I was satisfied that this man (Wells) had not deserted until overcome by extraordinary temptation and the evil advice of his companion, and determined to do my utmost to recover him. He had pay due for several years' service, and his ‘servitude time’* was considerable.

* For the pension granted to seamen in the Royal Navy after twenty-one years' servitude.

I despatched Mr. Kirke overland to Castro for intelligence; and set out in a light whale-boat, with five men, all as eager as I was myself to rescue their shipmate from the deceitful allurements of Padre Forastes. As a carpenter, also, every one was well aware, that his recovery was of much consequence to our small vessel, in a place where we could not obtain a substitute.

While visiting various islands I was much struck by the good order and cheerful alertness of several schools of boys, and by the apparent respectability of their teachers: and I was informed that these schools were much fostered by General Aldunate and his worthy secretary, Forelius (a Swede).

Nothing could be more pleasing than the appearance of the islands; all highly cultivated, and thickly peopled by a quiet race of men, apparently industrious, certainly most obliging and hospitable.

At Lemuy I heard that the fugitives had just left Chelin and Quehuy, in a piragua belonging to one Antonio Vargas, and were gone to the Cordillera, somewhere near the Corcovado, to kill seals and collect oil for him and Padre Forastes, until we should leave Chilóe, when they would return and work for the priest. This information cost me an ounce of gold, given to Vargas's own brother: and for six dollars, in advance, with a promise of more, I engaged a guide (vaqueano) to go with me to the main land. This man had no idea of moving by night; but, understanding clearly that the piragua was gone to an inlet under the Corcovado Mountain, I sailed at once across the gulf, steering by the light of the volcano, much to the terror of our vaqueano, who shrunk down to the bottom of the boat, drew his poncho over his head, and kept muttering prayers, sometimes to the Virgin and his ‘devoto’ (patron saint), sometimes to ‘bruxos;’ but never ventured to look up at the large sail, or watch the boat reeling through the waves, as she sailed across with a fresh westerly wind.

After a variety of petty difficulties and disappointments, and searching every inlet within twenty miles of the Corcovado, without finding a trace of the fugitives, I at last abandoned the pursuit and returned to San Carlos; having relanded our unhappy vaqueano, who, while close to the land, had been useful; but whom we had ruined, he often asserted, by obliging him to promise away all his property in masses, in offerings to saints, and in presents to ‘bruxos’ for his safe deliverance from such continual peril. After hearing such a melancholy statement of his prospects, I added a present to his earnings, which he assured me would amply satisfy both ‘bruxos’ and ‘devotos,’ and left him, notwithstanding his temporary fears, a happy man.

In 1834 I learned that we had actually been within a boat's length of the deserters on one occasion, and that they had made up their minds to yield unconditionally. They were hidden in some thick bushes on the borders of an inlet* under the Corcovado, and their piragua was hauled up behind a rock, out of immediate observation.

* Palbitad, or Almangrande.

It is now high time to quit Chilóe, and proceed along the coast northward: but before I do so, let me take advantage of this opportunity to express the gratitude of those with me, as well as of myself, for a succession of private assistance and sincere kindness experienced from many persons at San Carlos, whose names I refrain from mentioning, because I have a great dislike even to the idea of publishing any thing that occurs in the unreserved intercourse of friends.


Extraordinary meteoric appearances have occasionally been noticed about Chilóe, and the islands southward of it. In describing the Carelmapu earthquake, of 1633, Agüeros says that torrents of rain followed; and that on a high hill near the town was seen a globe of fire, which rose for a short interval, and then fell into the sea: the waters of which were in consequence much disturbed. A violent tempest ensued, with hail larger than musket-balls.

Another remarkable earthquake happened thereabouts on the 23d-24th of December, 1737: and on the 30th, in the early part of the evening, a great exhalation or cloud of fire was seen passing, from north to south, over all the archipelago. It fell on the Huayteca islands, covered them with ashes, and burned up the vegetation to such a degree that it was only in 1750, that the islands began again to look green.—Agüeros, pp. 102, 104, 105.

In Sarmiento's voyage an appearance of a similar nature is mentioned, as having been seen near the Strait of Magalhaens: (Viage al Estrecho de Magallanes, p. 205).—Other authorities might be quoted.


CHAPTER XVIII

Leave Chilóe—Valdivia—Earthquake—Aborigines—Traditions—Words—Convicts—Tolten—Boroa—Imperial—Mocha—Shocks of Earthquake—Anchor off Talcahuano—Ruins—Account of a great Earthquake, which destroyed the city of Concepcion; and was felt from Chilóe to Copiapó; from Juan Fernandes to Mendoza

At daylight on the 5th of February the Beagle sailed from Chilóe, and passed along the coast of southern Chile, towards the port of Valdivia. This is a bold and high tract of land, without a danger for shipping to avoid; but, at the same time, without a safe anchorage between the ports above-mentioned. Soundings extend some miles into the offing, though the water is deep. At two miles westward of this shore we usually found about forty fathoms water; at three miles about sixty, and at five miles from seventy to eighty or ninety fathoms, with a soft, sandy, or muddy bottom.

Whenever, as in this case, we were obliged to carry on the survey without landing, our observations for latitude—often those for time also—were made at the opposite points of the horizon, as well as in the usual manner, when land did not intervene, and the mean results taken as the most correct. In this way, it is probable that errors occasioned by refraction were in a considerable degree avoided.*

* We had three sextants, made for me by Worthington, which had additional horizon glasses, enabling them to measure any angle less than 160°. The contrivance was my own, and found to answer. It is described in the Appendix.§

§ Appendix, 45: “Remarks on Clouds,” at end, & 55: “Remarks on Chronometrical Observations …, p. 330

The day before arriving at Valdivia we had a strong northerly wind, with cold, rainy weather, though the glasses were high. Such an anomaly I have elsewhere noticed, especially in Tierra del Fuego; but any attempt to explain it must be deferred. Another singularity was the temperature of the ocean, not being higher than that near the Chonos Archipelago, and very little warmer than that of Magalhaens Strait; this fact will also be recurred to again.

Feb. 8th. We anchored in the deceiving port of Valdivia. I say deceiving, because it offers to the eye ample space and the utmost security, while, in fact, the safe anchorage is very limited; so much mud and sand being brought down by the river that extensive banks are formed, and increase yearly. We were struck by the apparent strength of the fortresses, built originally by the Dutch in 1643, but improved and increased by the Spaniards. Now, however, their strength is but apparent; for a closer inspection shows that they are almost in ruins and the guns out of order; indeed so nearly disabled, that they could hardly fire a salute without danger. Around the port are high hills, completely covered with wood; and they attract clouds so much, that almost as great a quantity of rain falls there as on the western shores of Childe. Several rivers empty themselves at this one mouth, which is the only opening among hills that form a barrier between the ocean and an extensive tract of champaign country,* reaching to the Cordillera of the Andes. The principal of these rivers are the Calla-calla† and the Cruces; their tributaries are very numerous, few countries being better watered by running streams than that about Valdivia.

* Called “Los Llanos,” or the plains.

† On which is the town of Valdivia.

Every facility and kindness in his power was offered to us by Don Isaac Thompson, the Yntendente:—and by his secretary, Don Francisco Solano Perez, I was presented with a rare edition of Febres's ‘Arte de la Lengua Chilena,’ which has been of much use in explaining the meaning of aboriginal words and names. Don Francisco wished me to take another curious work, but I declined; and have often regretted since that I did not ask him to let me copy a map in it which contained the tracks of Spanish missionaries from Castro in Chilóe to the lake of San Rafael, isthmus of Ofqui, and archipelago of islands in latitude 48-9° S. I thought another copy might be found at Lima, but during my subsequent stay there, not one could be discovered.

The town of Valdivia, formerly dignified by the appellation of city, disappointed our party extremely. It proved to be no more than a straggling village of wooden houses, surrounded with apple-trees; and the only building, even partially constructed of stone, was a church.* Many of us were in the town on the 20th of February, at the time of that great earthquake, which ruined so many places besides the city of Concepcion: an awful event, which will be related in the following pages.

* That church and other edifices have since been laid in ruins by the violent earthquake of Nov. 7, 1837.

An English carpenter, who had served on board the Beagle, in 1828, but had since settled on the banks of the river Cruces, about thirty miles from Valdivia, came on board his old ship one day, to see those whom he knew. It happened that I had formerly been of some assistance to him, and he was naturally glad to oblige me, by giving such information about the country and the natives as he was able to impart; and having lived nearly four years among them, his accounts were not only interesting, but, I think, worthy of credence.* As some of these were confirmed by what I heard from residents at Valdivia, and I have no doubt of their truth, I shall mention them without hesitation in the course of my narrative.

* He was a very intelligent, observing man, and a good workman: while belonging to the Beagle, he was rated carpenter's mate.

I was much struck by the peculiar physiognomy of those aboriginal natives whom I saw during my stay: and there must have been some ground for Mr. Darwin and myself remarking at different times, unknown at first to one another, that their countenances reminded us of portraits of Charles I. This was my impression at the first glance; but after closer examination it wore off, and I thought less of that likeness than I did of their resemblance to the Hindoo race. There was neither the open honesty of a Patagonian, nor the brutal look of most Fuegians; but there was a sombre cast of depressed intelligence that at once said, “we are restrained, but not subdued.” Their countenances were less wide, and more swarthy, than those to which our eyes had been accustomed; and they eyed us with a sinister although resolute glance, which seemed to ask whether we were also come to try for a share of their country. These men were of a middle stature; and formed more slightly than those of the south. They were all tolerably clothed in blue cloth of their own manufacture; and the men of different tribes were distinguished by a slight difference in dress; the Juncos, who live south of Valdivia, wearing a sort of petticoat, instead of trowsers, while the Rancos, another subdivision, wore short loose breeches. In other respects they are similar, as to outward appearance, and their language is that of all southern Chile.* These Juncos and Rancos are but portions of that collection of tribes usually known among Europeans by the celebrated name of Araucanians; but among the natives, by the terms Molu-che, Huilli-che, &c. I certainly gazed at these Indians with excessive interest, while I reflected on the multiplied sufferings undergone by their ancestors—the numbers that perished in mines—or in trying to defend their country—and the insidious attempts made to thin their numbers by frequent intoxication, if not by introducing deadly disease.†

* The Huilli-ehe.

† By giving them infected things.

To keep these Indians on peaceable terms, and in order to have early intelligence of any general combination, the Chilians maintain among them ‘capitanes de los amigos,’ whose apparent office is to take the part of an Indian, if he should be ill-treated by a Chilian (of Spanish descent), and to interpret between parties who wish to barter goods. There is also a ‘comisario de los Indios,’ who is a centre of reference for the ‘capitanes,’ and who ought to be the friend and protector of the aborigines. Many tribes, however, will have nothing to say to either the commissary or his captains, seeing through their object, and detesting even the descendant of a Spaniard too deeply to admit any one of that abhorred race into their territory. About Valdivia there are only a few leagues of ground held by Chile, excepting which all that magnificent tract of country, reaching from the Gulf of Ancud nearly to the river Bio-Bio, probably the finest district in all South America, is still kept by the brave Araucanians.

These Indians are extremely superstitious, but in their rites there are curious customs, perhaps indicative of their origin. About Valdivia, whenever an aboriginal and heathen native dies, he is buried in a small canoe, with a scanty supply of provisions and chicha,* on the bank of a river which flows to the sea. Their idea is that the spirit goes by water to that place, in the direction of the setting sun, whence their remote ancestors came. Febres says, in his work before mentioned, that the island Mocha is the place meant: but if we reflect that Mocha is very small, only twenty miles from the mainland, and that when first discovered, early in the sixteenth century, it was inhabited by Indians who often crossed over to the continent, I think we must look much farther west for the place of departed souls to which these people refer.

* Fermented liquor made from maize, apples, or other substances.

The aborigines who live near volcanoes offer propitiatory sacrifices to the evil spirit, Pillan, who is said to cause earthquakes and eruptions. They sacrifice bulls and rams to him, besides offering fruit, vegetables, and chicha. On a mountain called Theghin, or Theg-theghin, (which means to crackle or sparkle like fire), these people say that their early progenitors escaped from the Deluge. There is a word in common use among them, meaning ‘the great ancestor,’ or ‘our great ancestors,’ or ‘the renowned,’ which is hardly to be distinguished from Shem. Febrés spells it ‘Them,’ but, as the th is frequently pronounced, it would sound like chem.* Can this be handed down from their ancestor of the Ark?†

* Molina, Hist. Civil de Chile. Vol. ii. p. 333. Falkner says that the Vuta Huilliche substitute t for ch, p. 99.

† I am informed by Doctor Andrew Smith, that the word Ham is still common among the nations of southern Africa, as a distinguishing appellation.

Another word that attracted my notice particularly, was ‘minga.’ I have a note by me (unfortunately without the proper reference) remarking the resemblance of minga, not only in sound but in meaning, to the Hebrew word mincha. Molina (p. 333) says that these people have a nasal g, which brings the two words to an identity of sound. The Hebrew term, I am told, means an offering or collection of fruits, liquors, &c.; and the corresponding Huilli-che word means a feast of which those partake who are about to unite in a work for the benefit of him who makes the ‘minga.’ In the Appendix a few Greek, Latin, and Araucanian words are arranged so as to show the remarkable similarity existing between them.§

§ Appendix location unknown. The word “Greek” does not appear at all, and “Latin” only once, in a reference to Amerigo Vespucci.

I was told by the Yntendente that some Englishmen had arrived in his district a few months before we came, whose character and business he did not understand. Rumours had reached his ears of their having escaped from one of our convict settlements, at the other side of the Pacific, and he was inclined to believe the report. Three of these men had married since their arrival, and all but one were industrious members of his community: indeed I saw two of them hard at work on a boat belonging to the Yntendente. Having however no proof of their delinquency, I did not deem myself authorized to ask him to have them arrested and delivered up to me, in order that I might convey them to the senior British officer at Valparaiso. Afterwards I learned that these men, seven or eight in number, had escaped from Van Diemen's land in a very small vessel, and sailing always eastward, had at last arrived on the coast near Valdivia, whence they were conducted by a fisherman into the port. Eventually they were made prisoners by the Chilian authorities, delivered up to our Commodore, and by him sent to England.

I was informed that there is coal in many places about Valdivia; but I did not see any. We sailed on the 22d, after receiving, on all occasions, the kindest treatment from the residents.

As we passed along the low coast about the river Tolten, numbers of Indians on horseback, and armed with lances, were seen riding along the shore, evidently watching our movements. This part of the coast is shoal, and at night would be dangerous, for the low land projects considerably, and would not then be readily seen. We could not distinguish the mouths of either the Tolten or the Imperial (or Cauten) quite satisfactorily, but as they are bar rivers—useless to shipping—I would not risk anchoring on so exposed a coast, or sending a boat away into such a surf as we saw breaking, without having more time at my disposal and a higher object in view.

On the Cauten was the city called Imperial—celebrated in Araucanian story—and near its site now live the Boroa tribe, some of whom have light-coloured eyes, fair complexions, and even red hair. I saw one of these Indians at Valdivia, who had blue eyes, but dark hair. She told me that in her own country, ‘Boroa,’ there were many with eyes like her's; that some were ‘rubios,’ that is, of a red and white complexion, and that a few had red hair. Her parents had told her, she said, that those people were descended from the ‘Huincas.’* How the red hair originated is rather curious; I have heard of it from good authorities at other times, while in Chile.

* An Araucanian name for the Spaniards, signifying assassins.

Late on the 24th we anchored at Mocha, and the following week was occupied in surveying its shores and the space between them and the mainland.* Shocks of earthquakes were frequently felt, more or less severely; sometimes I thought that the anchor had been accidentally let go, and the chain was running out; and while at anchor, I often fancied the ship was driving, till I saw that there was neither swell, current, nor wind sufficient to move her from the anchorage. We naturally concluded that some strange convulsion was working, and anxious for the fate of Concepcion, hastened to Talcahuano Bay as soon as our duty would allow: arriving there on the 4th of March—to our dismay—we saw ruins in every direction.

* I shall recur to Mocha again.

The following account of this catastrophe was subsequently obtained:—

At ten in the morning of the 20th of February, very large flights of sea-fowl were noticed, passing over the city of Concepcion, from the sea-coast, towards the interior: and in the minds of old inhabitants, well acquainted with the climate of Concepcion, some surprise was excited by so unusual and simultaneous a change in the habits of those birds,* no signs of an approaching storm being visible, nor any expected at that season. About eleven, the southerly breeze† freshened up as usual—the sky was clear, and almost cloudless. At forty minutes after eleven,‡ a shock of an earthquake was felt, slightly at first, but increasing rapidly. During the first half minute, many persons remained in their houses; but then the convulsive movements were so strong, that the alarm became general, and they all rushed into open spaces for safety. The horrid motion increased; people could hardly stand; buildings waved and tottered—suddenly an awful overpowering shock caused universal destruction—and in less than six seconds the city was in ruins. The stunning noise of falling houses; the horrible cracking of the earth, which opened and shut rapidly and repeatedly in numerous places;^ the desperate heart-rending outcries of the people; the stifling heat; the blinding, smothering clouds of dust; the utter helplessness and confusion; and the extreme horror and alarm, can neither be described nor fully imagined.

* Chiefly gulls.

† Sea-breeze.

‡ Mean time. Equation=14 m. subtractive from mean time.

^ The direction of these cracks was not uniform, though generally south-east and north-west.

This fatal convulsion took place about a minute and a half or two minutes after the first shock; and it lasted for nearly two minutes, with equal violence. During this time no one could stand unsupported; people clung to each other, to trees, or to posts. Some threw themselves on the ground; but there the motion was so violent that they were obliged to stretch out their arms on each side, to prevent being tossed over and over. The poultry flew about screaming wildly. Horses and other animals were greatly frightened, standing with their legs spread out, and their heads down, trembling excessively.

After the most violent shock ceased, the clouds of dust which had been raised by falling buildings, began to disperse; people breathed more freely, and dared to look around them. Ghastly and sepulchral was the sight. Had the graves opened and given up their dead, their appearance could scarcely have been more shocking. Pale and trembling, covered with dust and perspiration, they ran from place to place, calling for relations and friends; and many seemed to be quite bereft of reason.

Considerable shocks continued to harass and alarm at short intervals. The earth was never long quiet during that or the next day, nor indeed for the three days following the great shock; and during many hours after the ruin, it was tremulous, and the shocks were very frequent, though not severe. Many of these, but not all, were preceded by a rumbling, subterranean noise, like distant thunder. Some compared the sound to the distant discharge of many pieces of artillery. These noises came from the south-west quarter, and preceded the shock by one or two seconds; sometimes, but not often, the sound was unaccompanied by any shock.

It was the general opinion that the motion was from southwest to north-east. Some whole walls, whose direction was south-east and north-west, were laid flat, the bricks still maintaining their relative position, though end-wise, without being scattered upon the ground. These walls fell, without exception, to the north-east.* Others were scattered as they fell; but still the greatest masses of brickwork were thrown towards the north-east. Walls standing in the opposite direction, northeast and south-west, suffered far less: none fell bodily or in masses; fragments were shaken or torn off; and some of the walls were very much cracked,† but others suffered little. Houses built of ‘adobes,,’‡ became confused heaps, and roofs fell in every where. The cathedral, whose walls were four feet in thickness, supported by great buttresses, and built of good brick and mortar,^ suffered more than other buildings. Adhering to the remains of the walls were left the lower parts of some buttresses—the upper parts of others—while in one place a buttress stood on its own foundation, separated entirely from the wall.

* The streets of Concepcion lie north-east and south-west: northwest and south-east.

† Vertically, as if by the undulatory movement of the earth's surface in the direction of their length.

‡ Large unbaked bricks.

^ Both bricks and mortar were excellent.

The city of Concepcion stands upon a plain, very little higher than the level of the river Bio Bio. The soil is loose and alluvial. To the eastward and northward lie rocky irregular hills: from the foot of which the loose earth was every where parted by the great convulsion, large cracks being left, from an inch to more than a foot in width. It seemed as if the low land had been separated from the hills, having been more disturbed by the shock.

Women washing in the river near Concepcion were startled by the sudden rise of the water—from their ankles to their knees—and at the same moment felt the beginning of the convulsion. It was said that the dogs avoided the ruin, by running away before it occurred. This, though known with certainty to have been the case at Talcahuano, wants confirmation with respect to Concepcion. Of nine men who were repairing the inside of a church, seven were killed, and two severely hurt. One of these poor fellows was half-buried in the ruins, during five days, with a dead body lying across him, through which it was necessary to cut, for his release. A mother, escaping with her children, saw one fall into a hole; a wall close to her was tottering; she pushed a piece of wood across the hole, and ran on; the wall fell, covering the hole with masses of brick-work; but, next day, the child was taken out unhurt. Another woman missed a child; saw that a high wall was tottering, but ran for her son, and brought him out. As she crossed the street, the wall fell, but they were safe; when the tremendous crash came, the whole street, which she had just crossed, was filled up with part of the ruins of the cathedral. Besides a waving or undulatory movement, vertical, horizontal, and circular or twisting motions were felt. An angular stone pinnacle was particularly noticed, which had been turned half rovmd, without being thrown down, or leaving its base.

Persons riding at the time of the great shock, were stopped short; some, with their horses, were thrown to the ground: others dismounted, but could not stand. So little was the ground at rest after the great destruction, that between the 20th of February and the 4th of March, more than three hundred shocks were counted.

Much misery was alleviated by the good conduct and extreme hospitality of the inhabitants of Concepcion. Mutual assistance was every where rendered, and theft was almost unknown. The higher classes immediately set people to work, to build straw-covered huts and temporary houses of board, living meanwhile in the open air under trees. Those who soonest obtained or contrived shelter, collected as many about them as they could assist, and in a very few days all had a temporary shelter, under which they tried to laugh at their misfortunes and the shifts to which they were reduced.

At Talcahuano the great earthquake was felt as severely on the 20th February as in the city of Concepcion. It took place at the same time, and in a precisely similar manner: three houses only, upon a rocky foundation, escaped the fate of all those standing upon the loose sandy soil, which lies between the sea-beach and the hills. Nearly all the inhabitants escaped uninjured; but they had scarcely recovered from the sensations of the ruinous shocks, when an alarm was given that the sea was retiring! Penco* was not forgotten; apprehensive of an overwhelming wave, they hurried to the hills as fast as possible.

* Penco, the first Spanish capital of the province of Concepcion, was overwhelmed by the sea in 1730: and old Concepcion in 1751.

About half an hour after the shock, when the greater part of the population had reached the heights,—the sea having retired so much, that all the vessels at anchor, even those which had been lying in seven fathoms water, were aground, and every rock and shoal in the bay was visible,—an enormous wave was seen forcing its way through the western passage which separates Quiriquina Island from the mainland. This terrific swell passed rapidly along the western side of the Bay of Concepcion, sweeping the steep shores of every thing moveable within thirty feet (vertically) from high water-mark. It broke over, dashed along, and whirled about the shipping as if they had been light boats; overflowed the greater part of the town, and then rushed back with such a torrent that every moveable which the earthquake had not buried under heaps of ruins was carried out to sea. In a few minutes, the vessels were again aground, and a second great wave was seen approaching, with more noise and impetuosity than the first; but though this was more powerful, its effects were not so considerable—simply because there was less to destroy. Again the sea fell, dragging away quantities of woodwork and the lighter materials of houses, and leaving the shipping aground. After some minutes of awful suspense, a third enormous swell was seen between Quiriquina and the mainland, apparently larger than either of the two former. Roaring as it dashed against every obstacle with irresistible force, it rushed—destroying and overwhelming—along the shore. Quickly retiring, as if spurned by the foot of the hills, the retreating wave dragged away such quantities of household effects, fences, furniture, and other moveables, that after the tumultuous rush was over, the sea appeared to be covered with wreck. Earth and water trembled: and exhaustion appeared to follow these mighty efforts.

Numbers of the inhabitants then hastened to the ruins, anxious to ascertain the extent of their losses, and to save some money, or a few valuable articles, which, having escaped the sweep of the sea, were exposed to depredators.*

* Thieves were numerous in Talcahuano. Directly after the ruin these scoundrels set to work—though crying ‘Misericordia,’ and with one hand beating their breast—with the other they stole most industriously.

During the remainder of the day, and the following night, the earth was not quiet many minutes at a time. Frequent, almost incessant tremors, occasional shocks more or less severe, and distant subterranean noises, kept every one in anxious suspense. Some thought the crisis had not arrived, and would not descend from the hills into the ruined town. Those who were searching among the ruins, started at every shock, however slight, and almost doubted that the sea was not actually rushing in again to overwhelm them. Nearly all the inhabitants, excepting a few who went on board vessels in the harbour, passed the night upon the hills, without shelter: and next day they began to raise sheds and huts upon the high grounds, still dreading the sea. It was said, and generally considered certain, that every dog at Talcahuano had left the town before the shock, which ruined the buildings, was felt.

Without explanation it appears astonishing how the shipping escaped destruction. There were three large whale-ships, a bark, two brigs, and a schooner, very near the town, in from four to seven fathoms water: they were lying at single anchor,* with a good scope of cable:† one only was well moored.

* Or steadied by a second anchor which was too light to withstand any great strain.

† Chain.—The holding-ground is excellent, a soft, tenacious mud.

With the southerly breeze, which was rather fresh at the time of the earthquake, these vessels lay to seaward* of their anchors, having their sterns towards the sea; and were left aground in this position. The captain of the port, D. Pablo Delano, was on board one of the whale ships at the time, with the hatches battened down, and dead lights shipped. All hands took to the rigging for safety. The first great wave came in an unbroken swell to the stern of the vessel, broke over and lifted her along without doing any material harm, more than sweeping her decks: and the slack chain dragging over the mud checked her gradually, as the first impetus of the wave diminished. Whirling her round, the water rushed out to seaward again, leaving the vessel stranded nearly in her former position. From two fathoms, when aground, the depth alongside increased to ten, as the water rose highest during the last swell. The two latter waves approached, and affected the shipping similarly to the former: all withstood their force, though the light anchors were dragged. Some of the vessels were thrown violently against others; and whirled around as if they had been in the vortex of a whirlpool. Previous to the rush of waters, the Paulina and Orion, two merchantmen, were lying a full cable's length apart; and after it had passed they were side by side, with three round turns in their cables. Each vessel had therefore gone round the other with each wave: the bow of one was stove in: to the other little damage was done. A small vessel† was on the stocks, almost ready for launching; she was carried by the sea two hundred yards in-shore, and left there unhurt. A little schooner, at anchor before the town, slipped her cable, and ran out in the offing as the water fell. She met the wave, unbroken, and rose over it as an ordinary swell. The Colocolo‡ was under sail near the eastern entrance of the bay—she likewise met the wave, as a large swell, without inconvenience.

* Nearly half a cable's length; or from sixty to one hundred yards.

† About thirty tons.

‡ Chilian schooner of war.

Many boats* put off from the shore before the sea retired: some met the advancing waves before they broke, and rose safely over them; others, half swamped, struggled through the breakers. The fate of one little boy was extraordinary. A servant woman had taken refuge with him in a boat; the boat was dashed against an anchor, lying on the shore, and divided. The woman was drowned, but the half of the boat containing the child† was carried out into the bay. It floated, and the boy held firmly. He was picked up afterwards, sitting upright, holding steadily with both hands, wet and cold, but unhurt. The boy's name is Hodges: his father is an Englishman, well known at Talcahuano, and was an officer in the British navy.

* Chiefly, if not all, whaleboats.

† Only four years old.

For several days the sea was strewed with wreck; not only in the Bay of Concepcion, but outside, in the offing. The shores of Quiriquina Island were covered with broken furniture and wood work of all kinds; so much so, that for weeks afterwards, parties were constantly at work collecting and bringing back property. During three days succeeding that of the ruin the sea ebbed and flowed irregularly, and very frequently: rising and falling for some hours after the shock two or three times in an hour. Eastward of the island of Quiriquina the swell was neither so large nor so powerful as that which swept over Talcahuano. Having more room to expend its strength in the wider and deeper part of the bay may perhaps have been the reason why the sea swelled rapidly, without breaking, near Lirquen, in the south-east part of the bay; and why it broke over Tome* with violence, though not so furiously as over Talcahuano. The great waves, coming from the sea, appear to have been divided, at the entrance of Concepcion Bay, by the island of Quiriquina, and turned aside both ways, one part taking its course along the Tumbes, or western shore, towards Talcahuano; the other across the eastern opening, towards Tome. While the bay of Concepcion was agitated by the great waves, it was noticed by Captain Walford (from his house at Lirquen), that the Colocolo was swept to and fro remarkably. She was under sail near the eastern entrance of the bay. Two explosions, or eruptions, were witnessed while the waves were coming in. One in the offing, beyond the island of Quiriquina, was seen by Mr. Henry Burdon and his family, who were then embarked in a large boat, near Tome; it appeared to be a dark column of smoke, in shape like a tower. Another rose in the middle of the bay of San Vicente, like the blowing of an immense imaginary whale: its disappearance was followed by a whirlpool which lasted some minutes: it was hollow, and tended to a point in the middle, as if the sea was pouring into a cavity of the earth. At the time of the ruin, and until after the great waves, the water in the bay appeared to be every where boiling; bubbles of air, or gas, were rapidly escaping; the water also became black, and exhaled a most disagreeable sulphureous smell. Dead fish were afterwards thrown ashore in quantities; they seemed to have been poisoned, or suffocated; and for days together the shores of the bay were covered with fine corvinos, and numerous small fish. Black stinking water burst up from the earth, in several places; and in Mr. Evans's yard, at Talcahuano, the ground swelled like a large bubble, then bursting, poured forth black, fetid, sulphureous water. Near Concepcion similar outbursts of water were seen, and similarly described.

* Tome is near the eastern entrance of the bay, where the wave would meet with more interruption than near Lirquen, though considerably less than in the western passage.

By a marked part of the wall of Captain Delano's house, it was ascertained that the body of water reached twenty-five feet above the usual level of high water. It penetrated into the ‘altos,’* and left seaweed hanging to the remains of roofs, or to the tops of broken walls. But this must not be taken as the general height of the wave. A body of water, rushing upon a sloping beach with such force, would naturally preserve its impetus for some time, and run up the inclined plane, to a great height. Those who watched the waves coming in, considered them, while beyond the shipping, about as high as the upper part of the hull of a frigate; or from sixteen to twenty feet above the level of the rest of the water in the bay. Only those parts of the wave which encountered opposition broke, until within half a mile of the beach, when the roar became appalling. Persons who were standing on the heights, overlooking both bays, saw the sea come swelling into San Vicente at the same time that it advanced upon Talcahuano. The explosion in San Vicente, and the sea advancing from both sides, made them think that the peninsula of Tumbes was about to be separated from the main land, and many ran up the hills until they had reached the very highest point.

* First floor rooms.

Strange extremes of injury and harmlessness were among the effects of these overwhelming waves. Buildings were levelled, heavy twenty-four pound guns were moved some yards, and upset; yet a child was carried to sea uninjured; and windowframes, with the glass in them, were thrown ashore upon the island of Quiriquina without a pane being broken! According to a register, kept by Captain Delano, it appears that his barometer fell four or five tenths of an inch between the seventeenth and eighteenth of February, and was still falling on the morning of the eighteenth, after which it rose again. So great* and sudden a fall, not followed by bad weather, may have been connected with the cause of the earthquake; but some doubt hangs over these observations. The barometers on board the Beagle, at that time in Valdivia, did not indicate any change. Still, at so great a distance, it does not follow that the mercury should move similarly; and (notwithstanding doubts excited by persons at Concepcion who had frequently looked at Captain Delano's barometer,) I am hardly inclined to disbelieve the extract from his register which he gave me.

* In Concepcion a fall of two or three tenths indicates bad weather; four or five tenths a gale of wind, with much rain.

In a river near Lirquen, a woman was washing clothes at the time of the great shock. The water rose instantaneously, from her feet half way up her legs; and then subsided gradually to its usual level. It became very muddy at the same time. On the sea-beach the water swelled up to high-water mark, at the time of the shock, without having previously retired. It then began to retire, and contirmed falling about half an hour, before a great wave was seen approaching.

For some days after the devastation the sea did not rise to its usual marks, by four or five feet vertically. Some thought the land had been elevated, but the common and prevailing idea was, that the sea had retired. This alteration gradually diminished, till, in the middle of April, there was a difference of only two feet between the existing, and former high-water marks. The proof that the land had been raised exists in the fact, that the island of Santa Maria was upheaved some feet more than other places.

In going through the narrow passage which separates Quiriquina from Tumbes, the great waves had swept the steep shores to a height of thirty feet (vertically) above high-water mark; but this elevation was attained, in all probability, only at the sides of the passage, where the water met with more obstruction, and therefore washed up higher. That passage is nearly one mile in width, and has ten fathoms water in the middle; but the rocks on the western side diminish its navigable width to half a mile.

Wherever the invading waves found low land, the destruction was great, from those lands being in general well cultivated, and the site of many houses. The low grounds lying at the bottom of Concepcion Bay, particularly those of the Isla de los Reyes, were overflowed, and injured irreparably: quantities of cattle, horses, and sheep were lost. Similar effects, in an equal or less degree, were felt on the coasts between the river Itata, and Cape Rumena. Large masses of earth and stone, many thousand tons in weight, were detached from the cliffs, and precipitous sides of the hills. It was dangerous to go near the edge of a cliff, for numerous chasms, and cracks in every direction, showed how doubtful was the support. When walking on the shore, even at high-water, beds of dead muscles, numerous chitons and Hmpets, and withered sea-weed, still adhering, though lifeless, to the rocks on which they had lived, every where met the eye—proofs of the upheaval of the land.

Besides suffering from the effects of the earthquake and three invading waves, which, coming from the west round both points of the island, united to overflow the low ground near the village, Santa Maria was upheaved nine feet. It appeared that the southern extreme of the island was raised eight feet, the middle nine, and the northern end upwards of ten feet. The Beagle visited this island twice—at the end of March and in the beginning of April: at her first visit it was concluded, from the visible evidence of dead shell-fish, water-marks, and soundings, and from the verbal testimony of the inhabitants, that the land had been raised about eight feet. However, on returning to Concepcion, doubts were raised; and to settle the matter beyond dispute, one of the owners of the island, Don S. Palma, accompanied us the second time. An intelligent Hanoverian, whose occupation upon this island was sealing, and who had lived two years there and knew its shores thoroughly, was also passenger in the Beagle.

When we landed, the Hanoverian, whose name was Anthony Vogelborg, showed me a spot from which he used formerly to gather ‘choros,’* by diving for them at low tide. At dead low water, standing upon the bed of ‘choros,’ and holding his hands up above his head, he could not reach the surface of the water: his height is six feet. On that spot, when I was there, the ‘choros’ were barely covered at high spring-tide.

* A large kind of muscle.

Riding round the island afterwards, with Don Salvador and Vogelborg, I took many measures in places where no mistake could be made. On large steep-sided rocks, where vertical measures could be correctly taken, beds of dead muscles were found ten feet above the recent high-water mark. A few inches only above what was then the spring-tide high-water mark, were putrid shell-fish and seaweed, which evidently had not been wetted since the upheaval of the land. One foot lower than the highest bed of muscles, a few limpets and chitons were adhering to the rock where they had grown. Two feet lower than the same muscles, chitons and limpets were abundant.

An extensive rocky flat lies around the northern parts of Santa Maria. Before the earthquake this was covered by the sea, some projecting rocks only showing themselves: after it, the whole surface was exposed; and square acres (or many quadras) of the rocky flat were covered with dead shell-fish, the stench arising from which was abominable. By this elevation of the land the southern port of Santa Maria was almost destroyed: there remained but little shelter, and very bad landing: the soundings having diminished a fathom and a half every where around the island.

At Tubul, to the south-east of Santa Maria, the land was raised six feet. The waves did not enter that river's mouth until about one o'clock; and then in greater number, but with less force, six or seven having been counted. Might not this be owing to the meeting of the divisions of the great wave which passed around Santa Maria.

At the island of Mocha the shock of the earthquake was so strong that people could not stand. The sea washed over the rocks at the end of the island, higher than it had ever reached in a heavy gale of wind. Anthony Vogelborg was on one of those rocks, or rather on an islet at the south end of Mocha, at the time, with a party who were sealing. Their boat was hauled up on the top of the rocky islet, and, expecting to be washed off, they held by it in readiness. The boat was lying nearly east and west. During the earthquake some water in her bottom ran as fast from one end of the boat to the other as if some one were quickly lifting one end off the ground and letting it down again. It did not wash from side to side at any time. Two forked sticks were stuck in the ground, about three yards apart; another lay across them for hanging things to dry. These sticks also were nearly east and west of one another: and during the shock they waved to and fro till the forks touched, and the cross stick fell. Strong shocks were felt by vessels under sail near Mocha; and between Mocha and Concepcion, the same was experienced by several vessels, not only on the 20th, but during following days.

At anchor off Mocha on the 24th, a shock was felt by me, which resembled the sudden drasraing: of the anchor over rocks. Under way on the 2d of March, it was thought that a chain-cable was running out at the hawse. In one vessel they supposed she had run ashore: on board of another, that the ship had passed over a whale. Vogelborg thought that the land had been upheaved about two feet; and from his accuracy in other matters, I am inclined to trust to his opinion.

At Valdivia the shock began gently, increased gradually during two minutes, was at its strongest about one minute, and then diminished. The motion was undulating and regular, like waves rolling from west to east, but strong; and it lasted nearly ten minutes. There was no difficulty in standing or walking, but the houses waved and cracked. The stone church tottered, but was not injured; its roof was very light. AH the dwelling-houses being strongly built of wood, withstood the shock. Most people thought the motion was from south-west to north-east, but Mr. Darwin and a person with him at the time, thought the reverse.

The river increased, or rose, at the same time, and rapidly fell again to its former height. In the port the sea swelled suddenly upon the shore to high-water mark, though it was then nearly the time of low-water, and quickly fell again. Both sea and river rose and fell frequently during the remainder of the day. The river never fell below its usual height, neither did the sea retire beyond its proper place, at that time of tide; but each swelled from time to time and again sunk down. This happened once or twice in an hour. After the great convulsion, other slighter shocks occurred at intervals of a few minutes during an hour. In the afternoon, at about five, a smart shock was felt, which made the people run out of their houses.* One man and one woman were drowned by the sudden rise of the sea near Niebla: it was supposed that they were upon the rocks gathering shellfish. Excepting in this instance, no injury was done at Valdivia. No noise preceded or accompanied any of the shocks.†

* Although built of wood.

† (Valdivia has since been ruined). “Valdivia, Nov. 7, de 1837.”

“El gran terremoto que ha esperimentado este pueblo en la mañana de este dia, sin tocar los limites de la exajeracion, se puede asegurar sea el mayor de los hasta aqui acontecidos. Di6 principio a las 8 y 5 minutes; y termind a las 8 y quarto: advirtiendo que el movimiento de la tierra en este espacio detiempofue tan extraordinario que con difieultad podia un hombre sostenerse en pie. Continue en seguida hasta las 9 y media con interrupcion solo de momentos, y desde esa bora hasta las 12 y tres cuartos que son actualmente se esperimentan los mismos movimientos, aunque no con igual fuerza. Las dos unicas iglesias que habia en este pueblo, y todos los edificios fiscales, se ban arruinado completamente y si no les ha caido igual suerte a las demas casas de esta poblacion ha contribuido sin duda la circumstancia de ser ellas de niadera, aunque por lo general ban sufrido grande detrimento. “Isidro Veegara.”

“Al Sr. Ynte. de la prov. de Concepcion, Dn. Manuel Búlnes.”—Extracted from the ‘Araucano’ of Chile, Dec. 8, 1837.

This great earthquake extended to the island of Chilóe, and probably still farther to the southward. The shock was there slight, but lasted during six or eight minutes; it was neither preceded nor followed by any subterranean noise. At about thirty-four minutes after eleven,* the beginning of the shock was felt. The motion was undulating and not strong. The swell of the sea was felt there, but I know not at what time. A man was going to leave the shore † in his boat; he went a short distance to fetch something, and returning found the boat aground and immoveable: puzzled and vexed he went away, but had not gone many yards before his son called to him that it was afloat.

* Mean time (exact ?).

† Point Arena—San Carlos.

In the small port of Coliumo, close to the northward of Concepcion Bay, the waves rose about as high as at Tome, nearly fourteen feet before they reached the shore. The little village of Dichato shared the general calamity; but, standing rather higher and more distant from the sea than Talcahuano, it escaped the ravages of that element.

At the mouth of the Maule the force and height of the waves must have been considerably diminished; for no particular effect was noticed at the time, nor were there any marks upon the shore by which the height of the wave could be afterwards ascertained. That the sea should not there have occupied attention is not surprising, when one considers the locality of La Constitucion, as the port and town are called. On level low land, at the south side of the river, lies the town; between which and the sea there is high land, and a distance of about a mile. The river winds round the northern promontory of the high land, and then fights its way to sea over a bar, on which there are always breakers. There are no houses on the seashore; and, without going half a-mile up the hill, the sea cannot be seen; naturally then, for some time after the town was ruined by the earthquake, the inhabitants would be engaged in saving and sheltering their property, rather than looking at the ocean. I could not ascertain whether the river had risen or not: and having previously heard that the waves were very powerful at the mouth of the Maule, I was a good deal surprised to find they had been almost unnoticed: but all attention seemed to have been engrossed with the earthquake.

A vessel, lying close under the promontory mentioned above, was obliged to move as quickly as possible, when the shocks began, so serious was the shower of stones which rattled down the hill and fell about, and on board of her. I was assured by the governor, by the chief pilot, and by other residents, that instead of the land having been elevated at all, they considered that it had sunk about two feet. The pilot said he had found two feet more water on the bar, since the great shock, and that he was certain the banks of the river were lower, though he could not say exactly how much. A rush of water might have shifted the loose sands of the bar; but whether the land had sunk seemed to me very doubtful. Certainly, however, it had not risen.

The island of Juan Fernandes was very much affected. Near Bacalao Head an eruption burst through the sea, in a place about a mile from the land, where the depth is from fifty to eighty fathoms. Smoke and water were thrown up during the greater part of the day, and flames were visible at night.* Great waves swept the shores of the island, after the sea had retired so much that old anchors were seen at the bottom of the anchorage.

* The highest summit of Juan Fernandes was “found to be burned, full of fissures and hot,” in 1743. Ulloa saw a small flame there.—Voyage of Juan and Ulloa; translated by Adams.

This earthquake was felt at all places between Chilóe and Copiapo: between Juan Fernandes and Mendoza. On the sea-coast, within those limits, the retiring and swelling of the ocean was every where observed. At Mendoza the motion was evenly gentle. Copiapo, Huasco, and Coquimbo felt similar, although rather more forcible undulations. Towns, and houses which lay between the parallels of thirty-five and thirty-eight, suffered extremely; nearly all were ruined; but northward and southward of those latitudes, slight injury was done to any building. In the parallel of thirty-three and a-half, Juan Fernandes suffered, yet Valparaiso, opposite, escaped uninjured.

As to the state of neighbouring volcanoes, so various were the accounts of their action, both after and before the earthquake, that I had no means of ascertaining the full truth; but I heard from Valdivia that directly after the earthquake all the volcanoes from Antuco to Osorno, inclusive, were in full activity.*

* Of another earthquake the “Araucano,” of Dec. 8, 1837, states as follows:

“Talcahuano, Nov. 7, 1837.

“Fué bastante recio y duró como cuatro o cinco minutos, con la particularidad notable de haberse advertido un pequeño retroceso de la mar á cia su centre en Talcahuano, y haber quedado interrumpido por algunos dias el flujo y reflujo de sus aguas.”


CHAPTER XIX

Mocha—Movement of Land—Penco—Ulloa—Shells—Coal—Maule—Topocalma—Aconcagua—Valparaiso—Horcon—Papudo—Pichidanque—Conchali—Herradura—Coquimbo—Wreck—Challenger—Blonde—Ride—Estate—Colcura—Villagran—Arauco—Former caciques—Colocolo—Caupolican—Scenery—Quiapo—Night travelling—Leübu—Tucapel—Valdivia—Lautaro—Challenger

When the Beagle entered Concepcion Bay, she had only one heavy anchor left, having broken or lost the others; and as there were none fit for her at Talcahuano, it became absolutely necessary to go to Valparaiso: accordingly, on the 7th of March we left the melancholy ruins and their disconsolate tenants, and on the 11th dropped our only anchor at Valparaiso. There our wants were soon supplied, and we sailed on the I7th to revisit Concepcion.

From the 27th the time was occupied in surveying the neighbourhood of Concepcion, Arauco Bay, the island of Santa Maria, and Mocha, until the 17th of April.

Mocha is a prominent land-mark for navigators, but dangerous rocks lie about its south-west quarter, and as the current usually sets northward, a ship ought to beware of them. Previous to the eighteenth century it was inhabited by Araucanian Indians, but they were driven away by the Spaniards; and since that time a few stray animals have been the only permanent tenants. Most of the early voyagers speak of it. We found the anchorage indifferent, the landing bad, and no supplies to be obtained except wood, and, with much difficulty, water.

Our duties were greatly forwarded while about Concepcion, by the earnest and very kind assistance of the yntendente, Don Jose Alemparte; and the active friendliness of Mr. Rouse, the British consul. Though their houses were levelled, and they themselves without any of what most Englishmen would call comfort, we were received and attended to by them and the ‘Penquistos,’* as cordially as if their nerves and minds had endured no strain.

* Natives of Concepcion: so called because they formerly lived at Pence: before that city was overwhelmed in 1730.

Although it was indisputably proved to the satisfaction of every person in the neighbourhood, that elevations of land had occurred to the extent mentioned in the previous chapter, I strongly suspect that a sinking down has taken place since that period, to a very considerable amount, if not quite enough to counterbalance former elevation. This idea is suggested by the fact that when I was last at Talcahuano, in July 1835, only four months after the great convulsion, the shores of Concepcion Bay had regained their former position with respect to the level of the sea:* —by what the people of Tubul told me, when I rode by, of the sea having returned to its centre,† (meaning that it had regained its usual height),—and by what the inhabitants of Santa Maria said, when they told me that for three or four weeks immediately following the earthquake, their little port was much shallower than it was when I went there seven weeks afterwards.

* Close to the landing place at Concepcion is a rock that was usually covered at high-water, previous to the earthquake (of 1835), but which was two feet above the highest tides of the next few weeks. In July, 1835, that rock was covered at ordinary high-water, as in 1834.

† ‘Està ahora el mar à su centre’

Whether this conjecture be well founded a short time may show: if it should be, an explanation might thus arise of the differences of opinion respecting the permanent elevation of land near Valparaiso, where some say it has been raised several feet during the last twenty years, while others deny that it has been raised at all. It may have been elevated, or upheaved as geologists say, for a time, but since then it may have settled or sunk down again gradually to its old position. In a place like Valparaiso Bay, where dust is so much blown from the land to the water's edge, and even out to sea; and where many streams bring detritus from ravines, no decisive judgment can be formed as to the rise of land, because of the beach increasing gradually, and the water diminishing in depth.

In a ride along the beach of Concepcion Bay, with Mr. Rouse, we examined the solid wall of old Penco Castle, and found on one side the date 1686 and on another 1687.

This castle and the adjoining foundations of houses, are so near the level of the sea, that I am surprised the inhabitants should not have feared being frequently inundated, even by tides only a few feet higher than usual.

If all this coast has been more or less upheaved during comparatively modern times, how is it that the foundations of Penco still stand at the water's edge, very little above the level of a high spring tide? Ulloa remarks, that “the country round the bay, particularly that between Talcahuano and Concepcion, within four or five leagues from the shore, is noted for a very singular curiosity, namely, that at the depth of one-half or three-quarters of a yard beneath the surface of the ground, is a stratum of shells of different kinds, two or three toises in thickness, and in some places even more, without any intermixture of earth, one large shell being joined together by smaller, and which also fill the cavities of the larger. From these shells all the lime used in building is made, and large pits are dug in the earth for taking out those shells, and calcining them. Were these strata of shells found only in low and level places, the phenomenon would be more easily accounted for by a supposition no ways improbable, namely, that these parts were formerly covered by the sea, agreeable to an observation we made in our description of Lima. But what renders it surprising is, that the like quarries of the same kind of shells are found on the tops of mountains in this country, fifty toises above the level of the sea. I did not indeed personally examine the quarries on the highest of those mountains, but was assured of their existence by persons who had lime-kilns there; but I saw them myself on the summits of others, at the height of twenty toises above the surface of the sea, and was the more pleased with the sight, as it appeared to me a convincing proof of the universality of the deluge. I am not ignorant that some have attributed this to other causes; but an unanswerable confutation of their subterfuge is, that the various sorts of shells which compose these strata both in the plains and mountains, are the very same with those found in the bay and neighbouring places. Among these shells are three species very remarkable: the first is called ‘choros,’ already mentioned in our description of Lima; the second is called ‘pies de burros,’ asses' feet; and the third ‘bulgados,’ and these to me seem to preclude all manner of doubt that they were originally produced in that sea, from whence they were carried by the waters, and deposited in the places where they are now found.

“I have examined these parts with the closest attention, and found no manner of vestige of subterraneous fires. No calcinations are to be met with on the surface of the earth, nor among the shells; which, as I have already observed, are not intermixed with earth; nor are there stones, or any other heterogeneous substances found among them. Some of these shells are entire, others broken, as must naturally happen in such a close compression of them, during so long an interval of time.” The pie de burro has its name from the fish enclosed in it, resembling, when taken out, the foot of an ass. This fish is of a dark brown colour, firm and filaceous; it is an univalve, its mouth almost circular, and its diameter about three inches. The bottom of the shell is concave within, and convex without. The colour within is perfectly white, the surface very smooth; the outside scabrous and full of tubercles. Its thickness in every part is about four or five lines; and being large, compact and heavy, it is preferred to all others for making lime. “The bulgados, in the Canaries called bulgaos, are snails, not at all differing in their form from the common, but larger than those of the same name found in gardens, being from two inches to two inches and a-half in diameter. The shell is also very thick, rough on the outside, and of a dark brown colour; and, next to the preceding, makes the best lime.

“All these species of shell fish are found at the bottom of the sea in four, six, ten, and twelve fathom water. They are caught by drags; and what is very remarkable is, that no shells, either the same, or that have any resemblance to them, are seen either on the shores continually washed by the sea, or on those tracks which have been overflowed by an extraordinary tide. They adhere to a sea-plant called cochayuyo (a).

(a) See note at end of chapter. [This note now appears immediately below.]

(a) Ulloa said that the word ‘cochayuyo’meant ‘lake herb.’ His authority is too good to be lightly questioned, otherwise I should have had no doubt that the word was derived from ‘cochun,’ ‘salt,’ or ‘bitter,’ and ‘yu,’ a thread: as the plant grows with long thread-like stalks, which taste salt[y], like most sea-weed: and ‘lavquen’is the word generally used for ‘lake,’ as well as ‘sea,’ rather than ‘cocha.’

“This plant divides itself into several branches, equal in dimensions to the main stem. These branches successively produce others of the same proportion, so that the produce of one single root covers a prodigious space. At the joints, where the branches spring, is found this kind of shell-fish, where they both receive their nourishment, and propagate their species.”—Ulloa's Voyage, translated by Adams, vol. ii. pp. 252-254.

Not far from Old Penco is the stratum of coal about which there has lately been much discussion.

Herrera says, “There is coal upon the beach, near the city of Concepcion: it burns like charcoal.”* Frezier bears witness that near Talcahuano there is good coal, which can be obtained without digging deeper than two feet; and he declares that the natives were astonished at his companions taking a substance out of the earth to burn as fuel in their forge.† Captain Basil Hall saw the place whence coal had been “worked without any trouble. The seam is thick, and apparently extensive, and might probably, with due care and skill, be wrought to any extent.”‡ Captain Hall ”laid in a supply of coals at this place. The coals, which were brought for us to the beach, cost twelve shillings per ton, every thing included.”^ Stevenson says, “To what extent the coal reaches, has never yet been ascertained; all that has been used has been obtained by throwing aside the mould which covers the surface. This coal is similar in appearance to the English cannel; but it is reasonable to suppose that if the mine were dug to any considerable depth, the quality would be found to improve.”||

* Dec. 8, 1, 6, c, 11.

† Frezier's Voyage, p. 146.

‡ Hall's Journal, vol. i. p. 303.

^ Idem, p. 307.

|| Stevenson's South America, vol. i. p. 121.

Many other authorities* might be cited to prove that coal exists abundantly near Concepcion, and that it has often been used. There are objections to it, by no means insuperable, which have alarmed people, and checked the working of those mines. It is said to be very bituminous—that it burns too quickly to ashes to answer well for smith's work, because it does not give heat enough—and that it is liable to spontaneous combustion. The last objection might be removed by keeping the coal under water,† and coking‡ would render it available for the forge. Some geologists say that it is ‘mere lignite,’ and think very lightly of its quantity or value; but practical men will doubtless attach some value to what has been proved by experience.

* The Earl of Dundonald for instance.

† I do not mean merely wet, but well saturated and covered with water till required for use.

‡ It has been coked, and found to answer well.

On the 17th of April, the Beagle sailed from Concepcion Bay, examined Coliumo, and, coasting along, anchored off the Maule River on the 2Oth. In a very thick fog, during the night of the 19th, while carrying sail to get an offing, we were within a fathom of being run down by a vessel crossing us on the opposite tack. As both ships were under all sail, and it was dark, our momentary sensations were far from agreeable.

To land here was perplexing enough, for a heavy surf broke on the bar of the river, and nearly as much along the shore; but with some risk and difficulty we effected our purpose in two light whale-boats, which could be hauled up directly they touched the beach. Nearly all the population of a thriving village, called Constitucion, came down to meet us (on the 21st), and assist in hauling our boats up the steep though yielding sand, where, for our comfort, they told us a whole boat's crew had been drowned, not long previously, in attempting to land. From a height overlooking the river, village, and neighbourhood, we enjoyed a very pleasing view, so long as we turned away from the bar of the river, and the surf. A rich country and a fine river are pleasing things at all times, but the difficult approach to Constitucion mars half its beauty. Only the smallest craft can cross the bar; it is dangerous for boats to land on the outer beach: and difficult for them to profit by the few opportunities which occur of passing the bar without risk.

Notwithstanding these local disadvantages, Constitucion may thrive wonderfully hereafter, by the help of small steamers, for she has a most productive country around her, abounding in internal as well as external wealth, and a navigable river at command. Besides this, in 1805, a very practicable passage was discovered through the Andes, about seventy leagues south of Mendoza, not far from the latitude of the River Maule, almost entirely level, and fit for waggons—the only pass of such a description between the isthmus of Darien and Patagonia.

From the Maule we sailed along the coast northward; limited time, and work in prospect urging us to hasten more than could have been wished. The shoal, or rather rocks of Topocalma, or Rapel, were examined; some coves looked at, fit only for coasting launches, and the line of this bold, but uninteresting coast tolerably well determined. Before sunrise, on the 22d, we had a splendid view of the Andes—their range or Cordillera being unclouded, and distinctly visible from south-east almost to north. The sharp summit of Aconcagua, 23,000 feet above the sea level, towered high over any other.

At noon, on the 23d, we hove-to off Valparaiso, and sent boats ashore. Mr. Darwin came on board, and among other pieces of good news, told me of my promotion.§ I asked about Mr. Stokes and Lieut. Wickham, especially the former; but nothing had been heard of their exertions having obtained any satisfactory notice at head-quarters, which much diminished the gratification I might otherwise have felt on my own account. Mr. Darwin returned to the shore, intending to travel overland, to meet us at Coquimbo, his very successful excursion across the Andes having encouraged him to make another long journey northward.

§ Darwin learned of FitzRoy's promotion in letters from his sisters:

December 29, 1834, from Caroline: “We have heard a report that Capt. Fitzroy is promoted …”
February 16, 1835, from Susan: “Captain H.† … said that Capt. Fitzroy was promoted to be Post Captain.”
April 23, 1835, Darwin's letter to Susan: “The Capt is very well; I was the first to communicate to him his promotion.”

   From this it is clear that FitzRoy did not learn of his promotion (on December 3§§) until several months later.

§§ Source: A Naval Biographical Dictionary … London, 1849: John Murray (pp. 364-65).

† Presumably, Captain Francis Harding, Second Captain of HMS Warspite. Source: as above (pp.460-461).

On the 25th, we anchored in Horcon Bay, a place (by some curious accident) entirely left out of all former charts, although there is good anchorage, and a fishing village not far from a populous small place called Puchancavi. From this station we sailed to Papudo, a small port rising into repute, on account of copper-mines in its neighbourhood. It is well marked by a high-peaked hill, called Gobernador. Next to Papudo lies Ligua, a place where boats only can go; farther north, or ‘down the coast’ (as they say in Chile and Peru), is Pichidanque, an excellent cove, rather than port, now much used for shipping copper, and formerly a smuggling place; rendered more notorious by the murder of Burcher, the master of an English smuggling vessel called the Scorpion, who was enticed ashore and assassinated, after which his ship was seized and plundered. This took place in the present century; and an individual, who was said to have taken an active part in the tragedy, was living at Quillota, in 1835.

Close to Pichidanque is a high pointed hill, called ‘Silla’ (from its saddle shape), seeing which distinctly from Valparaiso, is said to be a sign of an approaching northerly wind.

I landed at Conchali after dark on the 30th, leaving the Beagle under sail in the offing. My reception was very hospitable; but the people made sure I was a smuggler; and some of the principal inhabitants rode with me several miles next morning to the place where my boat was hauled ashore, thinking all the time that I was only waiting for a favourable opportunity to tell them my secret, and make advantageous terms. All this coast, except a few corners, is bold and high, barren and uninteresting; though picturesque in outline.

May 2d. Another smuggHng cove, called Quilimari, was examined by me. There is but doubtful landing, and no shelter for a vessel; balsas, however, might do a good deal of work for such a character as I was taken for at Conchali.

On the 4th, having hastily reconnoitred the coast nearly as far as Coquimbo, we ran into Herradura Cove, and moored ship securely. It was my intention to refit there thoroughly, and prepare the Beagle for receiving a large supply of stores and provisions at Valparaiso, which would enable her to run down the coast to the Galapagos, and thence cross the Pacific to Sydney in Australia. In Herradura she lay quietly close to the land until the 6th of June: and all her crew were encamped on shore near the ship, while she was thoroughly cleared out, re-stowed, and painted. At Coquimbo (or Serena) we always met with a hearty welcome whenever duty required that we should go there, or when we went for our own amusement. The Yntendente, Yrrisarte, the kind-hearted Mr. Edwards and his family, and others, will not easily be forgotten by the Beagle's officers.

As another real benefactor to the public service, I may be allowed to mention Don Francisco Vascuñan, who lent me a vessel of thirty-five tons, called the Constitucion, to be employed in forwarding the survey. This craft was built in the River Maule, and bore a very high character as a sea boat. Lieutenant Sulivan, Mr. King, Mr. Stewart, and Mr. Forsyth volunteered to go in her; so giving them a boat's crew, a small boat, a native pilot with his balsa, and as good an outfit as my means would allow, I despatched this new tender to examine a portion of coast near Coquimbo, which the Beagle had not seen sufficiently, and directed Lieut. Sulivan, if he found the vessel efficient, to continue afterwards surveying along the coast of Chile, as far as Paposo, whence he was to repair to Callao.*

* Orders in Appendix. [25: “Orders to Lieut. Sulivan”

On the 6th of June, the Beagle left Herradura, and sailed towards Valparaiso. Anxious, however, to communicate with Don Diego Portales,* who was staying at his country-house, near Papudo, I touched there in my way; arrived at Valparaiso on the 14th of June, and immediately began the arrangements necessary for our preparations to quit Chile. The liberal assistance rendered by Don Francisco Vascuñan, in lending me his own vessel, without any kind of agreement or remuneration whatever, had enabled me to look forward to adding much of the coast of Chile to our gleanings in hydrography; for I well knew that Lieutenant Sulivan would not only make despatch, but extremely correct work.

* Don Diego Portales, one of the ablest men in South America, was murdered, in 1837, by some of his ungrateful countrymen.

Here I may remark, that if little is said henceforth about places so well known as the coasts of Chile, Peru, and other countries often described, it is because I feel bound to avoid mere repetition as far as possible, and because the limits of my narrative are fixed. For the present, leaving the Beagle to get her stores and provisions on board, I must turn to another scene. 16th June. By the post which arrived from Santiago this morning, an English merchant received a laconic account of the total loss of his Majesty's ship Challenger. This report spread as quickly as bad tidings are wont to do: but no official information arrived during that day, or the ensuing night. Recollecting that a Swedish ship had come lately into Valparaiso, whose officers had seen what they described as “an American brig” cast away near Mocha; I found out the ship and questioned the master and mates. They had arrived at Valparaiso on the 25th of May, and all agreed in stating that on the 20th of that month, they saw a large vessel ashore on the coast of the mainland, to the northward and eastward of Mocha. They saw her at daylight, but as they had light airs of wind and a very heavy swell until three in the afternoon, to save themselves from danger they were obliged to make all sail away from the land, and lost sight of the wreck.

The vessel looked large, with fore and main masts standing, and top-gallant masts an [on?] end until eight o'clock, when the fore-topmast went over the side, or was struck: her fore-topsail yard remained across; no main-top-gallant yard was seen; the main-top-gallant mast was standing all day, and there was a large ensign at the mast-head: white and red were seen, therefore it was thought to be American. Her bow was to seaward, as if she had anchored; her sails were loose all day; people were seen on the after part of what appeared to be a roundhouse painted green. Bulwarks very high—ports very large—no boats on deck or at the quarters—no guns on upper deck. Looking at her end on, with the masts nearly in a line—all her upper deck could be seen, though very indistinctly, owing to hazy weather, the additional haze caused by spray thrown up from a furious surf, and their own distance from the wreck: which was never less than four miles.

The log of the Swedish ship was produced, which exactly corroborated their statement. The master said he could not lower a boat, so great was the swell; and during five hours of almost calm, he was drifting helplessly towards the wreck, and expecting to share her fate. The two masts and red and white ensign, caused them to consider her an American brig, and as such she was reported to the consul for the United States.

A few of the preceding data convinced me they had seen the poor Challenger, but I was more strongly assured of the fact by pointing to the Conway, then at anchor near us, and asking whether she was like that ship—and near her size? Yes, sir, they replied. The green roundhouse abaft, seemed to have been a deception caused by looking at the curved green taffrail of the Challenger. I concluded that the mizen-mast had been cut or carried away; perhaps used as a raft: that the boats had been lowered, and that the ensign was St. George's, (Sir G. E. Hamond's flag being white at the mizen) but did not fly out, as there was no wind. The quarter-deck guns were close to the side, or perhaps below. Such were my thoughts, but other persons were of a totally different opinion. I was astonished that the Commodore did not hear officially from Santiago—particularly as the merchant's private notice was received through our Consul-general.

17th. At the Post-office I obtained a large packet, directed to our vice-consul, the moment the post-master opened the mail bag; and hastening to the consul's office, I was surprised to find it shut, and to hear that no one would be there for an hour or two. Such apathy—upon such an occasion! Not choosing to break the seals, though I saw by the direction what were the contents (Despatches by Challenger), I went in search of the proper person to open the packet: took the Commodore's letters, and hastened with them to the Blonde. Every doubt was then ended. The Challenger was lost on the night of the 19th of May, at the spot described by the Swede: but all her crew were saved except two; and on the 26th of that month, Captain Seymour, the officers and men were encamped near the wreck, at a place called Molguilla. The Blonde prepared for sea: an offer of such assistance as I could render was accepted by the commodore; and, having arranged the Beagle's affairs, as far as then necessary, I went on board the Blonde, taking with me Mr. Usborne, J. Bennett, and a whaleboat. Lieut. Wickham was to forward the Beagle's duty during my absence, and take her to Copiapo, Iquique, and Callao, before I should rejoin her.

18th. Weighed at three in the morning and cleared the port before daybreak. A northerly, freshening wind favoured us much when in the offing.

21st. Anchored in the bay of Concepcion, off Talcahuano, at noon. As soon as I could get a boat I landed, and hastened to obtain information, horses, and a guide, as the commodore wished me to go to Captain Seymour, and concert measures for removing the crew and the remaining stores.

The captain of the port told Commodore Mason that the part of the coast on which the Challenger went shore, is quite inaccessible in any weather, but that boats had entered the mouth of the river Leübu near Molguilla.

Lieutenant Collins (of the Challenger) had been at Talcahuano, trying to procure a vessel, in which the shipwrecked crew might embark by means of boats, at the Leübu, but not succeeding he had returned to his shipmates; whom he expected to find at the mouth of the river. It was said that a large body of Indians was in motion towards them, that the crew were short of provisions, and that they were becoming sickly. Assisted by the governor of Talcahuano, horses and a native guide were soon obtained; but I wanted a more energetic assistant, and engaged a Hanoverian who was used to the half Indian natives of the frontier, and well known among them. This man was Vogelberg, or Vergara, already mentioned. With orders and letters from Commodore Mason, accompanied by Vogelberg and H. Fuller, and provided with five horses, I left Talcahuano the same evening.

Being personally acquainted with the Yntendente, and his second in command, I hastened immediately to their houses at Concepcion, wishing to get an order to pass the Bio Bio River that night, and to procure a circular letter to the local authorities. Not a minute was lost by either of those zealous officers in attending to and complying with my requests. Alemparte left his dinner to write a circular letter, in his own hand; and neither he nor Colonel Boza would return to their respective parties, until they had ascertained that I was properly provided with horses and a guide, and that I required no further assistance.

Although orders were issued and the ferry-boat at her station, no crew were to be found, and only those men who belonged to the boat knew how to cross over safely. Vexatious as the delay seemed, I was afterwards glad of it; for judging by the work in day-light, I doubt our having ever reached the opposite bank with our horses, in a dark night.

While talking to Colonel Boza I remarked a watchful, wild-looking, young Indian, in a Chilian half-uniform, standing in the house. Something unusual in his manner attracted my notice though hurried, and I have since regretted losing that opportunity of acquainting myself with the son of Colipi, a famous cacique, who is the principal, and a very powerful leader of the northern Araucanians, though at present a friend to the Chilians. Colipi is a very tall and unusually strong man; his onset and his yell are talked of with a shudder, by those who have suffered from Indian hostility. Educating his son at Concepcion is one of the methods used to conciliate the ‘Barbaro.’

22d. Before the dawn of day we were looking for the watermen; and, as the sun rose, succeeded in getting their boat, or rather flat-bottomed barge, into motion. We rode into the river, about two hundred yards, until we reached the barge, then lying close to an overflowed bank. By some persuasion of voice, whip, and spur, the horses were made to leap out of the water, over the gunwale and into the boat. They certainly showed more sense than horses usually have, in understanding so readily how to behave; but whether their owners showed more than asses, in having so clumsy a ferry-boat, may be doubted. In leaping in the horses nearly knocked down, or trod upon, those who were dismounted; and when leaping out again, they made such a splashing of the water in the leaky ferry-barge as effectually washed our faces. The river is wide, deep, and rapid; and there are many sand-banks. The boatmen use oars as well as long poles; but are slow and awkward to a degree I could scarcely have believed, had I not witnessed their progress. The breadth at the ferry is about a quarter of a mile, when the river is low, but upwards of half a mile when flooded, as at this time. The south bank is steep; and from San Pedro, a little village at the ferry, the land rises in a southeast direction, towards a lofty range of hills; but towards the south-west, it is low, level, and firm. Across this excellent galloping ground we tried our horses, and made the miles seem short, till we reached a low range of hills over Point Coronel. There, dismounting, we used our own legs until the hills were passed, and before us lay two long sandy beaches, called ‘Playa Negra,’ and ‘Playa Blanca.’

In our gallop we passed the house of Don Juan de Dios Rivera,* whose estate on the south side of the Bio Bio is mentioned by Captain Hall as an instance of the progressive tranquillization of the Indians. Several large barn-like buildings spread over about two acres of ground, enclosed by a high fence of rough posts and rails, showed an eye accustomed to the country, that the proprietor held in his own hands a large estate: but that collection of thatched irregular roofs, and the utter absence of any thing like outward neatness or regularity, brought to my mind a very neglected rick-yard, near which not even a cottage appears.

* Yntendente of Concepcionin 1821.

Yet this was the house of a man of large property; and not by any means a bad one, compared with others in that country. Many reasons might be adduced to explain why Chilian gentlemen are reluctant to expend either time, trouble, or money in building good houses. Earthquakes are very frequent; property is yet insecure; and the country has been occupied, but so lately that there has not been any leisure time in which to think of more than the first necessaries of life. Noble trees surround this ‘casa de hacienda.’* No underwood impedes your riding at a rapid pace in any direction: and beyond the woody spaces, extensive plains stretch towards the sea and to the bank of the river. These plains are intersected by numerous streams, and adorned with irregular clumps or thickets of trees: smaller indeed than those which shade the ‘casa de hacienda,’ but of a size sufficient to shelter cattle.

* Country-house upon the owner's estate.

This estate, which is not considered a large one in that country, comprises, besides many square leagues of wild hilly country, more than one hundred square miles of excellent land, well watered, abundantly wooded, and most pleasantly as well as conveniently situated. The owner is said to be a most worthy man, and numerous instances of his active goodness as well as excellent disposition, have been related to me at different times; one of which I must stop to relate.

My attendant, Vogelborg, passed near the door of Don Juan de Dios Rivera, while executing a commission entrusted to his most speedy despatch. Stopping a moment to ask the way, Don Juan remarked that he looked ill, and had better rest. Vogelborg thanked him, but explained the necessity of hastening onwards: in truth he was ill and very tired, though anxious to proceed. Don Juan then suggested the quicker method of forwarding the letters, entrusted to Vogelborg, by his own confidential servant, and forthwith despatched him upon one of his own horses, desiring Vogelborg to take possesion of an excellent bed; where he remained two days under the kind care of Don Juan de Dios and his wife, who till that time, had never seen him.

Abreast of Negra Beach is an anchorage, sheltered from the north and north-west winds by Point Coronel, but exposed to the southerly and west winds. Here, as well as in coves further south, much smuggling was carried on in the time of the Spaniards.

Leaving the sea-shore, and some slippery rocky places over which we were obliged to lead our horses, we ascended the heights of Colcura. For our reward, after a muddy scramble up to the top of a steep hill, we looked down upon a fine though but partially wooded country, forming an agreeable succession of valleys and high grounds; while to seaward there was an extensive view of the coast, with the island of Santa Maria in the distance.

Perched on a height overlooking the sea, and directly above a very snug little anchorage, is the hamlet called Colcura; and thither we hastened, inattentive to the complaints of our guide (who was likewise guardian of the horses), and trusting to Vogelborg's recollection of the road. Riding into a sort of field entrenchment at the top of Colcura hill, we were accosted by a sly-looking, sharp-visaged character, whose party-coloured jacket appeared to show that its owner held some office of a military nature, but whether that of ‘cabo,’* or a higher, I could not determine until I heard him say he could give us a good meal, and that he had three fine horses near the house; when at once styling him ‘gobernador’ I rebuked myself for having thought ill of his physiognomy, and proceeded to unsaddle. Disappointed, however, by a scanty bad meal, we thought to regain our tempers upon the backs of our host's horses; but not an animal had he sent for; nor, to our further vexation, could any inducement tempt him to lend one of those fine horses, which, he still said, were close by. The Indians, he declared, were expected daily; he knew not the moment he might have to fly for his life; on no condition would he lend a horse: no, not if a fleet of ships were wrecked, and I were to offer him an ounce of gold for each mile that his horse should carry me.

* Corporal.

Every Chilian residing on the frontier endeavours to keep by him a good horse, on which to escape, in case of a sudden attack of the Indians; for, as they never give quarter, and approach at a gallop, it is highly necessary to be always prepared. Those who can afford to do so, keep horses solely for the purpose of escape, which are the finest and the swiftest they can procure. I remember hearing, that when General Rosas was carrying on a war of extermination against the Pampa and Patagonian Indians, on the banks of the rivers Colorado and Negro, he had with him horses so superior, that it was said he could always ensure escape, if by chance he should be pursued: and one of them was invariably led about, saddled and bridled, near his tent.

Saddling our own steeds, and quitting the thin-faced dispenser of tough hens and sour apples, we set off at a gallop, leaving the lazy guide whom we brought from Talcahuano, to return there with the two worst animals (it was fortunate indeed we had brought with us a spare one), and in two hours we reached the foot of Villagran; that hill so famed in Araucanian story.

Being a natural barrier, it was a spot often chosen by the Araucanians, at which either to lie in ambush for the Spaniards, or openly oppose them. In one battle, the brave Villagran, after whom this ridge of hills is named, and a small Spanish force, opposed a multitude of Indians who had hemmed them in on every side. The only opening by which Villagran could escape, was stopped up with a barrier of branches and fallen trees, behind which the Indians stood discharging arrows and slinging stones. Ercilla gives an animated description of this scene; but as his book is scarce, I will attempt a free translation of that passage, lame as it must necessarily be.

———— ———— the veteran Villagran,
Heedless of any kind of death,
Hazarded all upon a cast.
He rode a stately powerful horse,
Purest of Spanish blood—
Strength and activity were well combined
In that courageous steed—
Swift and high-spirited, he yet obeyed
The slightest touch of finger on the rein.

The danger reached—instant as thought—
The warrior's spurs excite the noble brute—
He dashes on—and down the barrier goes.
A deafening crash and dire dismay
Followed, as onward tore their way
Those few determined men.

The gallant steed unhurt appeared,
Strove foremost in the fight, and feared
Only to be the last!

Ercilla, canto vi.

We ascended the heights by winding narrow paths, up which our horses were led, in order to spare them as much as possible, and met a small party of Chilians, on their way from the wreck of the Challenger towards Concepcion, from whom we heard that the wreck had been abandoned, and that the officers and crew were entrenched in a secure position, on the height of ‘Tucapel Viejo,’ close to the mouth of the river Leübu. We were also told that the Indians increased in number daily, and that Great fears of their hostility were entertained.

From the summit of Villagran we had an extensive view, reaching from Tumbes Heights, at the west side of the Bay of Concepcion, to Cape Rumena. The low island of Santa Maria, with its sandy spit, shaped like an arm, seemed to be within a few miles of us, though distant several leagues. I could trace the long, low, and almost straight beach of Laraquete till ended by the white cliffs of Tubul: I could distinguish the height immortalized by Colocolo's name, and under it smoke arising from the classical Arauco. Southward, a large extent of fertile, level, and rather woody plains reached to distant ranges of hills, which showed only a faint blue outline. Time allowed no delay, but with a hasty glance, as we mounted our horses and cantered along the summit, I saw a schooner* in the distance, off the Paps of Bio Bio, working her way to the southward.

* The Carmen, with Mr. Usborne on board—see page 456.

Descending the hill, we reached ‘Chivilingo,’ a village near a small river which runs through a ‘hacienda’ belonging to the ‘Santa Mana’ family. We called at the door of their large, barn-like dwelling, to ask if horses could be spared. The mistress of the house happened to be at home, having lately arrived from Concepcion; and directly she heard my story she ordered every horse to be put in requisition; but, unfortunately, two only were within reach, one of which was lame. All the others had been sent to grass at a distance. After acknowledging her kindness, and paying her ‘mayor domo’ for the hire of the horse, we pushed on with that one and two of the least jaded of our own animals.

Between Chivilingo and the rivulet called Laraquete is a hill, unimportant at present, though it may hereafter become of consequence, as it contains coal. Some that I carried away with me was thought to be almost equal to cannel coal, which it very much resembled. The little river Laraquete, which will admit a large boat at high water, runs at the foot of the hill, and there is no surf where it enters the sea. Very glad I was then to see nothing like a hill between us and Arauco. We urged our horses along the dead level, and reached a pass of the Carampangue river as the sun was sinking below the horizon. From his sickly appearance and the black gathering clouds, I thought we should not be long without heavy rain, and that the sooner we could house ourselves the better. The Carampangue is shallow, except in the middle, but wide. Men and animals are carried over it on a ‘balsa,’ made of several logs of light wood fastened together, and pushed or poled across with their burdens by one man. These contrivances are very convenient where the water is shallow near the bank, and where the bank itself is low: for a horse can walk upon them from the shore without difficulty, or any scrambling; and as soon as they ground on the opposite side, it is equally easy to disembark. Where wood is not plentiful, balsas are made of rushes tied together in bundles; or of hides sewn up and inflated, or made into a rough kind of coracle.

The last few miles had been slowly accomplished by dint of whip and spur; but from the river to Arauco was a long league over unknown ground, in the dark, and while rain fell fast. Heavily we toiled along, uncertain of our way, and expecting each minute to be bogged; our horses, however, improved as we neared their anticipated resting place, and almost tried to canter as lights appeared twinkling within an open gateway in the low wall of Arauco. * We asked for the house of the ‘comandante,’ and were directed to a rancho rather higher and larger than the rest. Without a question we were received, and told to make the house our own. That we were wet and tired, was a sufficient introduction to the hospitable Chilian.

* It is a low wall, or rather mound of earth, enclosing a number of ‘ranches’ (cottages or huts).

Before thinking of present comfort, it was necessary to secure horses for the next day's journey, and dispose of our own tired animals; but money and the willing assistance of the comandante (Colonel Gero. J. Valenzuela), soon ensured us both horses and a guide. In the colonel's house, a barn-like building, entirely of wood, and divided into three parts by low partitions, I was surprised to see an arm-chair of European make, which in no way corresponded to the rest of the furniture. Some large shells, not found in these seas, also caught my eye, and tempted me to ask their history. They had been brought only the previous day from the wreck of the Challenger, and were given by Captain Seymour to Don Geronimo, who had himself but just returned from assisting the shipwrecked party. His account and the chances of an attack being made by the Indians, increased our anxiety to proceed; it would, however, have been worse than useless to attempt finding our way in a dark night, while it was raining fast and blowing very hard; but at daybreak in the morning we saddled, and soon afterwards were splashing along the low flat tract of land extending from Arauco westward towards Tubul. Heavy rain during the night had almost inundated the low country, and to our discomfort appeared likely to continue during the day. In half an hour after starting we were soaked with mud and water; but being well warmed by galloping, we felt indifferent to the rain, and to a heavy gale of wind that was blowing.

Arauco, famous in Spanish song and history, is simply a small collection of huts, covering a space of about two acres, and scarcely defended from an enemy by a low wall or moimd of earth. It stands upon a flat piece of ground, at the foot of the Colocolo Heights, a range of steep, though low hills, rising about six hundred feet above the sea.

In the sixteenth century, Arauco was surrounded by a fosse, a strong palisade, and a substantial wall, whose only opening was secured by a gate and drawbridge. Now the ditch, dug by the old Spaniards, is filled up, and the remains of their drawbridge have disappeared, having been used probably as fuel. This was the first place assaulted by the Indians, after their grand union against the Spaniards, at the end of the sixteenth century. To relate even a part of the history of those times would be digressing too much; but an anecdote of Colocolo and the great Caupolican may shorten our journey, and divert us for a time from mud, and rain, and wind.

Ashamed at having given way to men, at first imagined to be gods, and indignant at the outrages and oppressions of their invaders, a general gathering of the Indian tribes took place near Arauco. Ercilla names sixteen caciques of renown, besides others of inferior fame, who assembled with their followers. At the feast which followed their first consultation, great disputes arose among the rival caciques. A general was to be chosen, and each esteemed himself worthy of that high distinction. Insulting words induced an appeal to arms, and desperate strife was about to commence, when Colocolo, the oldest and most respected chief, advancing hastily,* with haughty strides, exclaimed:—

“What madness is exciting you, Caciques!
Thus eagerly to rush into a war
Against the very sources of our strength—
To tear each other's entrails out, as beasts,
And utterly forget the tyrant foe?
Turn your arms and angry blows
Against those authors of your slavery,
Whose shameful inroads on our fathers' land
Heap infamy upon Arauco!
Arauco's sons yourselves display—
And cast their galling yoke away.
Husband every drop of blood,
To mingle with a Spanish flood!”

* Ercilla, canto ii.

Having gained attention and temporary silence, the Araucanian Nestor continued an eloquent address to the angry chiefs, in which, after expostulating with them upon their ruinous rivalry; he exhorted them to choose a leader by some trial of ability, which should be publicly made; and suggested that the man who could bear a heavy weight for the longest time must be the fittest to endure the burthen of governing.

The caciques agreed to his proposal, and prepared a large trunk of a tree for this great trial of strength. Colocolo well knew that the qualifications of an Indian general were not bodily strength and activity, unless accompanied by qualities of mind proportionably superior; but it happened that Caupolican exceeded all his countrymen in mental, and all but Lincoya in bodily qualifications. Accident had impeded his attendance at the ‘gathering,’ and the object of Colocolo in proposing so tedious and otherwise absurd a trial was to gain time for Caupolican's arrival.

Fourteen chiefs successively bore the ponderous tree upon their shoulders. No one gave up the trial, until he had endured more than four hours' oppression; some even sustained the burthen six, eight, or ten hours; and one hardy mountaineer carried the tree for fifteen. But the famed Lincoya claimed the prize; confiding in his Herculean strength, he had allowed all others to precede him in the trial. When at last he threw the mantle from his Atlas shoulders, he took the tree from the ground as if it had been a stick; ran, jumped, and danced with it on his back, seeming to feel no weight; and the multitude, astonished, exclaimed, ‘Lincoya shall be general! the rest are infants in comparison!’ but the wise Colocolo insisted upon the completion of the trial, knowing that Caupolican would soon arrive, and that Lincoya's antics would exhaust even his great strength, and make it possible for an inferior to carry the tree longer. The crafty veteran had himself excited Lincoya to the unnecessary exertions which he knew would undermine him. From sunrise, until noon of the following day, full thirty hours, did the gigantic Lincoya sustain his immense load. While the air yet resounded to the shouts of ‘Lincoya,’ Caupolican arrived, and demanded to try his strength; but Colocolo interposed, saying that Caupolican had arrived from a great distance, and ought to rest. Until the next morning, therefore, the trial was postponed.

During the night a great excitement animated the vast multitude. The strength and ability of Caupolican were well known; even Lincoya doubted the result; he had deemed his only rival far off; and the antics in which he had indulged had prematurely exhausted his strength. At daybreak the tribes again assembled, and as the sun rose, Caupolican lifted the tree, and quietly poised it upon his shoulder. His manner, and the ease with which he placed his burthen, excited the surprise and admiration of all, except Lincoya, whose spirits sunk as he watched the cautiously guarded manner and easy movements of his rival.

During that day and the following night, lighted by the full moon; during the whole of the next day, and throughout the second night, did Caupolican sustain that overpowering weight which men of common strength could only bear during a very few hours: and when the sun rose on the third morning, the still untired chief lifted the tree above his head, and dashed it to the ground, with an effort which showed that his powers were far from being exhausted. He was unanimously chosen general, amidst extraordinary shouting and applause: and no sooner had the other caciques acknowledged his authority, than he began to take measures for acting immediately against the Spaniards.

Arauco, their nearest strong hold, was to be attacked. Eighty chosen men approached, disguised as the serving Indians, who supplied the Spanish soldiers with firewood, and forage for their horses. Each man, with his load of fuel or grass, in which his arms were hidden, advanced unsuspected to the fort, when, by preconcerted signal, they threw down their loads and attacked the unprepared Spaniards. This assault was the signal for other Indians to rush towards the fort; but the Spaniards, although surprised, made so good a defence, that almost all the eighty chosen men were killed, and no others could gain admittance. The whole Indian multitude then surrounded Arauco; and the Spaniards, seeing that they must be overpowered if they remained, opened the gate in the dead of the night and escaped. Thus began this famed insurrection, which caused the destruction of seven towns, and drove every Spaniard from Araucania.

Leaving the low land near the sea, we ascended sloping hills, and found ourselves in a beautiful country. Though I did not see it distinctly until my return, I will endeavour to describe it in this place:—the outer range of hills, near the sea, is a succession of downs, free from wood, except here and there in the valleys, and every where covered with short sweet grass:—there is no sandy or barren rocky land. Numbers of fine cattle were seen grazing in the neighbourhood, but very few sheep. In-shore of the downs is a very luxuriant country: gradually rising hills, every where accessible; extensive valleys, woods of fine timber trees, very little encumbered with underwood; spaces of clear grass-land, like fields; beautiful lakes, and numerous streams of excellent water, together with a rich soil clothed with sweet grass, disposed me to think this the finest country I had ever seen.

Generally speaking, the soil is clayey; but there is every where a layer of vegetable mould upon the surface; which indicates that the country was covered with wood until the Indians partially cleared it by burning. While they were so numerous as they are said to have been in the sixteenth century, large tracts of ground must have been cultivated by them, or cleared for their sheep. In riding across this now unemployed land, regretting at every mile that it should be so neglected, fine bullocks often crossed our path; or wild-looking, but well-conditioned troops of horses. These animals must be very nearly wild: for restrained by no fences, looked after by nobody, they are free to roam and feed where they please. Once only in a year they are driven together, if they can be found, to be counted, marked, or killed. Here and there a stray cottage, or rather hut, was seen, with a high thatched roof, like those of Chilóe. But for these cottages, and a field or two near them, this excellent country would have appeared to be quite deserted by the human race, though possessing every desirable quality. We passed over no hills of any consequence as to height, though generally we were ascending or descending. An in-shore circuit was taken, to avoid crossing three rivers, which, near the sea, are difficult to pass; and having lost our way (notwithstanding the alleged excellence of our guide), a native, almost Indian, was easily prevailed upon to run by the side of our horses until he put us into the right track. Before running through the bushes, he carefully tucked up his loose trousers as high as possible; thinking, I suppose, that his skin was less likely to be torn than the trousers; and thus bare-footed and bare-legged he ran before us for several miles with the greatest ease. At the cottage from which he came, a very good horse, in excellent condition, and well cleaned, was standing in a yard. I asked the owner to let me hire or buy him, but he would consent to neither; alleging that, in the Indian country, his life depended upon having a good horse close at hand. Three thousand Indians had assembled, he told me, and were expected to make an attack upon the Chilian frontier; but on what particular part was quite uncertain. They had heard of the wreck, and were actually going to the place to plunder the crew, when accidentally met and driven back by Colipi, with his friendly tribe. Dogs seem to be kept at these cottages for the same purpose as those at the ‘ranchos,’ in the Pampas, namely, to give warning of the approach of enemies. Small parties of Indians seldom or ever attack a house without reconnoitring carefully; and this they cannot effect if there are many dogs about.

After our running guide had left us, though put into the right track, we were soon at a loss again; so numerous were the tracks of horses and cattle in this rich pasture land. The professed guide whom we had brought from Arauco, was more useful in recovering half-tired horses, than from knowing the way: no sooner did he get upon a horse, which one of my party could not persuade to go out of a walk, than he started off at full gallop, exulting in his skill. Perhaps his secret lay in a sharp pair of iron spurs: for the thick skin and coarse hair of horses, so roughly kept as these, is proof against ordinary spurs, used with humanity.

Going very much by chance, often losing our way, and often taking a cast round to look for the most frequented track, we at last arrived at Quiapo, a hamlet consisting of five huts only, just in sight of one another on neighbouring hills. To which of them the name belongs, I know not, as ‘Todo es Quiapo,’ was all the answer I could get from my guide.

Riding up to the nearest hut, we tempted a young man who occupied it, to sally forth in the rain in search of fresh horses. This exertion was caused by the sure stimulant—money. We might have talked of the wreck, and the Indians, until that day [or] month, without exciting our acquaintance to move; but the touch of dollars at once overcame the apathy with which he listened to our first request for food and horses. His wife told us to kill a fowl, if we could, for there was nothing else to be had; so forth we sallied, and as each understood that the permission applied to himself, great was the confusion among the poultry. To the dismay of our hostess, we soon reappeared, each with a fowl; but a certain silver talisman quickly hushed her scolding, and set her cooking. Meanwhile the rancho was ornamented with our wet clothes hanging about it to be dried; but rain came through the roof in so many places that our trouble was useless. Dripping wet, having been soaked since the morning, and of course cold, we could not go near the fire, because of the smoke; so with a long pole we poked a hole through the thatch, which let the smoke out, and then closing round the fire, we surprised the good woman by our attack upon her half-roasted fowls.

All these huts are much alike. Under one thatched roof, there is a place where all the family (including the dogs, cats, and pigs) eat, while sitting or lying round the fire, which is on the ground in the middle; and there is a kind of ‘dais,’* where the same party afterwards seek that sound sleep from which none of the insect tribe appear to awake them, however much they may plague others. Sometimes there is a sort of bedstead, and a slight partition for the older people; but the others take their rest upon the raised part of the floor, wrapped in sheepskins, or goat-skins, and rough woollen clothes. A large heap of potatoes occupies one corner of the hut, and another is filled by a granary, curiously contrived with stakes about six feet in length, driven into the ground in a circle of perhaps six feet diameter. Rough wicker-work unites the stakes, and forms a bottom about half a foot from the ground. Straw is then inserted into the wattled-work, until there is enough to prevent any corn from falling through. This large fixed basket is filled at harvest time, and supplies the family during the whole year: neither rat or mouse can get at it without making a rustling noise, which instantly alarms each cat and dog.

* Raised half a foot above the ground.

Before our host returned with horses it was evening. He would have detained us until the next morning, could his arguments have availed, but finding that with or without him, on we were resolved to go, he set out at a good pace towards Leübu. Less rain and wind encouraged hopes of a fine night, so we trotted or galloped along while day-light lasted, but as the night grew dark rain again poured down: and, obliged then to go slowly, we followed one another as close as possible, placing the guide in front with a white poncho. While in the open country we got on pretty well, but, after two hours easy work, we found that the track was taking us through thick woods. My first intimation of the change was being nearly knocked off my horse by the bough of a tree, so pitchy dark was the night; and after this I kept my head on the horse's neck, trusting to his eyes entirely, for I could see nothing. That our guide could find the way has been matter of astonishment to me ever since: he never failed once. Some of the defiles through which he led were knee-deep in clayey mud, so stiff that the horses could hardly move. Often we were set fast in such places, obliged to get off, and feel for the track,—knee-deep, and up to our elbows in mud,—for it was upon hands and knees that we went, oftener than upon our legs. Our guide knew we were in the right track, but each of us was obliged to seek safe footing for himself and his horse, in the defiles among steep ravines and streams, swelled by heavy rains. Passing these streams was dangerous, and there only did the guide hang back. At one brook which seemed by the noise, to be deep and large, he refused to cross, saying his horse would not go on, and that we could not get over in the dark. However, Vogelborg was not to be so stopped. Leaving his own horse stuck fast in a slough, he scrambled through, hauling my horse after him by the bridle. Holding by my horse's long tail, and driving him on, I scrambled after: Vogelborg then went back, and with the guide brought the others over. In several places, while in the ravines, I had recourse to the tail of the guide's horse for my support and dragged my own animal after me, for it was hopeless to remain on his back, so often was he stuck fast or down in the mud. The last man, Fuller, fared the worst, as he had no one behind him to drive his horse on; and frequently we were obliged to stop and holla to one another, to avoid parting company. At last we emerged from the wood and from those horrible ravines. Before us we could then see that there was space, nothing interfering between our eyes and the clouds; but while under the trees and in the water courses, utter blackness surrounded us to a degree I never witnessed in any other place. Our eyes were not of the least use, for I could not even see the white poncho of our guide, though close before me. Feeling and hearing alone availed. Heavy rain during the whole time prevented the mud from forming too thick a coat upon us. Another hour brought our small party to an Indian settlement, near the river Leübu; and as we rode by the huts, our guide talked to those within at the utmost pitch of his voice, as if determined no one should be ignorant of his adventure. Hearing their conversation carried on in the Indian language, was rather an impressive novelty. We continued our route, and at last reached the Leübu.

The north side of this river (on which we were), is low and sandy near the sea, but the south side rises to a high, remarkable headland, called the ‘Heights of old Tucapel,’—(‘Altos de Tucapel viejo.’) The breadth of the river is about one hundred yards. Tucapel was the name of one of the more powerful caciques who united under Caupolican, to resist and expel the Spaniards. In his district and near his usual residence, which bore the same name, the daring but avaricious Valdivia was overwhelmed by numbers and taken prisoner, though not until every one of his small party had desperately fought and devotedly died for the cause which many among them considered that of God and their king.

Religion had so much influence over the minds of the earlier Spaniards, and was so warped and misinterpreted by the priests of their day, that actions, in themselves most unjustifiable, found defenders and active supporters among churchmen, and energetic performers among those who trusted their consciences to other men's keeping. An enthusiastically religious feeling, strengthened them to persevere under all trials and disappointments, and helps to account for the wonderful energy and constancy, shown in discovering, exploring and subduing the New World. This high sentiment of religion, urging them to conquer in order to convert to Christianity, and to honour God by serving their king, was an impelling motive in the minds of the early adventurers, at least as strong as the desire of riches. I here allude to those leaders who first opened the roads, which crowds of inferior men afterwards followed. One proof of this feeling is the fact, that the last of Valdivia's faithful companions who fell, was his chaplain, without whom, it appears, he did not even go to battle.

Valdivia had set out in the morning with only fifty Spaniards, besides a body of friendly Indians, intending to attack and disperse the multitude of his opponents. As he approached Tucapel, some fugitive friends* entreated him not to proceed, assuring him that twenty thousand Indians were there who had sworn to take his life, or sacrifice their own. Despising the natives and used to conquer, Valdivia listened to no cautions. The three thousand Indians, supposed to be friendly, accompanied him to the battle but turned against him: and his own page, Lautaro, who there immortalized his name among his countrymen, was the first to set the example and proved himself the most daring in the fight. (It should be mentioned that Lautaro's servitude was compulsory, having been brought up against his inclination, in the Spaniard's house.)† Onward dashed Valdivia, at the head of his small band, and was speedily surrounded by a countless throng. Hemmed in on every side, and overpowered by men who till then used to fly from a man in armour and mounted on a horse, all that desperate brave men could do, was done: but their horses tired, slaughter appeared to diminish neither the number nor rage of their opponents, and one after another sunk to the ground. Valdivia's chaplain fell the last, except the general himself, who fought like a lion at bay: till, seeing that he was alone, he turned and fled. The goodness of his horse enabled him to escape for a little while, but he was hunted by the swiftest and strongest, whose speed exceeded that of a tiring horse. His steed failed, and he was taken prisoner to be tortured and put to death, after suffering every torment that savage ingenuity could devise. When he was at the stake, the rage of the older Indians could not be repressed: and an aged man named Leocato, who had suffered long and severely by Spanish oppression, struck him on the head with his club, and at one blow deprived him of life.

* Friendly Aborigines.

† Lautaro was the son of an Araucanian chieftain, who fell in battle against the enemies of his race. Though brought up and educated in the family of Valdivia, from a mere child, he had never ceased to long for an opportunity of turning his forced acquirements to the disadvantage of his instructors, and revenging the death of his father.

Although surrounded by a multitude, so resolute and energetic were the companions of Valdivia, that they were actually gaining the day, until Lautaro rallied the retreating Indians, and by his heroism turned the tide of victory against the Spaniards. The natives' superstitious awe of these superior men, once thought gods, added to their being mounted on horseback and clad in armour, were such immense advantages, that to oppose the progress of a few resolute Spaniards even by the numbers of a multitude, was a daring effort.

In consequence of this and many subsequent acts of valour and conduct, the young Lautaro became a most celebrated leader, and was chosen by Caupolican as his lieutenant and successor.

But I must return to the banks of the Leübu, which we were approaching as fast as our tired horses could drag their hoofs through deep, loose sand, when a solitary light moving on the dark side of the opposite high land, showed the place where our countrymen were anxiously waiting for assistance; we had heard that their encampment was under Tucapel Heights, and close to the river's mouth.

As soon as we arrived at the water side, I hailed as loudly as I could call, but no answer was returned. Again I hailed “Challenger's a-hoy,” and a faint ‘hallo’ repaid us for every difficulty. “Send a boat!” I called. “Aye, aye!” echoed from the hills. Lights appeared directly coming down the hill: a little boat came across the river, and very soon we were embarked in the Challenger's dinghy,* the only boat saved. The master and one man were in her, from whom we heard that all the party were well, and that they had not yet been molested by natives.

* At midnight. The horses were sent back to the Indian huts, with whose owners our guide held such noisy intercourse as we passed.

Captain Seymour was at the landing place. Old friends, meeting under such circumstances, can say but little. Hastening to the encampment, where all had turned out to hear the welcome news of assistance being at hand, we made their hearts rejoice by saying that the Blonde was at Talcahuano, and coming to their relief. With the officers, I found our excellent consul, Mr. Rouse.* At the first intimation of the Challenger's loss, he had hastened to the spot without an hour's delay; well aware how useful his influence and information would prove, and supposing that the officers would not be conversant in Araucanian habits and language, even if they should have made a slight acquaintance with those of Chile. His assistance proved to be of the utmost consequence, for not only did his explanations intimidate and discourage open or disguised enemies, who were not wanting, but his credit and influence procured daily supplies of provisions: while to his address and good sense every one of the shipwrecked crew was much indebted in many transactions.

* H. B. Majesty's consul at Concepcion.

Daylight found Seymour and myself still talking, though he had given me his bed. Partly at that time, and partly in subsequent conversations, he gave me the following account of the loss of the Challenger; but without mentioning his own exertions or conduct, which I heard of from his officers.


I will take this opportunity of mentioning that there is a large fox, called ‘culpen,’ in the Araucanian country, which was mentioned to me as heing more like a wolf than a fox; but at that time I paid very little attention to the subject. Stevenson says, “the culpen is rather more foolish than daring, but not void of the latter quality. It will advance within eight, or ten paces of a man, and after looking at him for some time, will retire carelessly.” "“Its colour is a dark reddish brown, with a long straight tail covered with shaggy hair; its height is about two feet.”—Stevenson's South America, vol. i. p. 115. (Is not this like the Falkland animal?)