The author spells Falkner as Faulkner in his Introduction (Of My Literary Life) and as Falkener in his Appendix 1 (Of the Patagonians). Two excerpts from the former are given here, followed by Pennant's account of the Patagonians.
The title page announces the termination of my authorial existence, which took place on March 1st, 1791. Since that period, I have glided through the globe a harmless sprite; have pervaded the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and described them with the same authenticity as Gemelli Careri, or many other travellers, ideal or real, who are to this day read with avidity, and quoted with faith. My great change is not perceived by mortal eyes. I still haunt the bench of justices. I am now active in hastening levies of our generous Britons into the field. However unequal, I still retain the same zeal in the services of my country; and twice since my departure, have experienced human passions, and have grown indignant at injuries offered to my native land; or have incited a vigorous defence against the lunatic designs of enthusiastic tyranny, or the presumptuous plans of fanatical atheists to spread their reign and force their tenets on the contented moral part of their fellow creatures. May I remain possessed with the same passions till the great Exorcist lays me for ever. The two last numbers in the following pages are my post-existent performances. Surviving friends, smile on the attempts! Surviving enemy, if any I can now have, forgive my errors!
Tu manes ne laede meos. THOMAS PENNANT.
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In September, of the same year , I took a journey to London, to see sir Joseph Banks and doctor Solander, on their arrival from their circumnavigation. In my return I visited Robert Berkeley, esq. of Spetchly, near Worcester, to indulge my curiosity with seeing and examining Mr. Faulkner,§ an aged jesuit, who had passed thirty-eight years in Patagonia; his account satisfied me of the existence of the tall race of mankind. In the appendix to this work, I have given all I could collect respecting that much-doubted people.
§ At the time, Falkner was serving as chaplain to Berkeley.
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I, at several times, gave to the public some trifles, which were not ill-received; but few knew the author. These I collected some years ago, and printed, for the amusement of a few friends, thirty copies, by the friendly press of George Allan, esq. at Darlington.
The principal was my history of the Patagonians, collected from the account given by father Faulkner, in 1771, and from the several histories of those people by various writers. I believe that the authenticity of the several relaters is now very well established.
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To the Honourable Daines Barrington
I now execute the promise I made in town some time ago, of communicating to you the result of my visit to Mr. Falkener, an antient jesuit, who had passed thirty-eight years of his life in the southern part of South America, between the river la Plata and the streights of Magellan. Let me endeavor to prejudice you in favor of my new friend, by assuring you, that by his long intercourse with the inhabitants of Patagonia, he seems to have lost all European guile, and to have acquired all the simplicity, and honest impetuosity, of the people he has been so long conversant with. I venture to give you only as much of his narrative as he could vouch for the authenticity of; which consists of such facts as he was eye-witness to, and such as will (I believe) establish past contradiction the veracity of our late circumnavigators, navigators, and give new lights into the manners of this singular race of men: it will not, I flatter myself, be deemed impertinent to lay before you a chronological mention of the several evidences that will tend to prove the existence of a people of a supernatural height inhabiting the southern tract. You will find that the majority of voyagers, who have touched on that coast, have seen them, and made reports of their size, that will very well keep in countenance the verbal account given by Mr. Byron, and then printed by Mr. Clarke: you will observe, that if the old voyagers did exaggerate, it was through the novelty and amazement at so singular a sight; but the latter, forewarned by the preceding accounts, seem to have made their remarks with coolness, and confirmed them by the experiment of measurement.
A. D. 1519. The first who saw these people was the great Magellan; one of them just made his appearance on the banks of the river la Plata, and then made his retreat: but during Magellan's long stay at Port St. Julian, he was visited by numbers of this tall race. The first approached him, singing, and flinging the dust over his head; and shewed all signs of a mild and peaceable disposition: his visage was painted; his garment the skin of some animal neatly sewed; his arms a stout and thick bow, a quiver of long arrows feathered at one end, and armed at the other with flint. The height of these people was about seven feet, (French) but they were not so tall as the person who approached them first, who is represented to have been of so gigantic a size, that Magellan's men did not with their heads reach as high as the waist of this Patagonian. They had with them beasts of burden, on which they placed their wives; by Magellan's description of them, they appear to have been the animals now known by the name of Llama.
These interviews ended with the captivating two of the people, who were carried away in two different ships; but as soon as they arrived in the hot climate each of them died.
I dwell the longer on this account, as it appears extremely deserving of credit; as the courage of Magellan made him incapable of giving an exaggerated account through the influence of sear: nor could there be any mistake about the height, as he had not only a long intercourse with them, but the actual possession of two, for a very considerable space of time.
It was Magellan who first gave them the name of Patagons, because they wore a sort of slipper made of the skin of animals: Tellement, says M. de Brosse, quils, paroissoit avoir des pattes de Bêtes.
In 1525, Garcia de Louisa [sic, Loaysa] saw, within the streights of Magellan, savages of a very great stature, but he does not particularise their height.§
§ Actually, Loaysa died on the voyage and there is no record of anything written by him. But crew member Andres de Urdaneta's account makes a brief mention of seeing some Patagonians, one of whom “…was a large man and very ugly.”
After Louisa the same streights were passed in 1535 by Simon de Alcazova, and attempted in 1540, by Alphonso de Camargo, but without being visited by our tall people.
The same happened to our countryman sir Francis Drake; but, because it was not the fortune of that able and popular seaman to meet with these gigantic people, his contemporaries considered the report as the invention of the Spaniards.
In 1579, Pedro Sarmiento asserts, that those he saw were three ells high. This is a writer I would never venture to quote singly, for he destroys his own credibility by saying, the savage he made prisoner was an errant Cyclops:§ I only cite him to prove that he had fell in with a tall race, though he mixes fable with truth.
§ There is no known record of Sarmiento making such a claim. Pennant's account may have been taken from Bartolomé Leonardo de Argensola's Viage Al Estrecho De Magallanes Por El Capitan Pedro Sarmiento De Gambóa ….
In 1586, our countryman, sir Thomas Cavendish, in his voyage, had only opportunity of measuring one of their footsteps, which was eighteen inches long: he also found their graves, and mentions their customs of burying near the shore.
In 1591, Anthony Knevet, who sailed with sir Thomas Cavendish in his second voyage, relates, that he saw, at Port Desire, men fifteen or sixteen spans high, and that he measured the bodies of two that had been recently buried, which were fourteen spans long.
1599.—Sebald de Veert, who sailed with admiral de Cordes, was attacked in the streight Magellan by savages whom he thought to be ten or eleven feet high: he adds, that they were of reddish color, and had long hair.
In the same year Oliver du Nort, a Dutch admiral, had a rencontre with this gigantic race, whom he represents to be of a high stature and of a terrible aspect.
1614.—George Spilbergen, another Dutchman, in his passage through the same streight, saw a man, of a gigantic stature, climbing a hill as if to take a view of the ship.
1615.—Le Maire and Schouten discovered some of the burying places of the Patagonians beneath heaps of great stones, and found in them skeletons ten or eleven feet long.§
§ See Schouten's account of the burying places.
Mr. Falkener supposes, that formerly there existed a race of Patagonians superior to these in size; for skeletons are often found of far greater dimensions, particularly about the river Texeira. Perhaps he may have heard of the old tradition of the natives mentioned by, Cieza and repeated from him by Garcilasso de la Vega, of certain giants having come by sea, and landed near the Cape of St. Helena, many ages before the arrival of the Europeans.§
§ Actually, Falkner's account makes no such supposition, but merely mentions that “…Garcilasso … tells us that the Indians have a tradition, that giants formerly inhabited those countries.”
1618.—Gracias [sic, Garcia] de Nodal, a Spanish commander, in the course of his voyage, was informed by John Moore, one of his crew, who landed between Cape St. Esprit, and Cape St. [sic, de] Arenas, on the south side of the streights, that he trafficked with a race of men taller, by the head, than the Europeans. This, and the next, are the only instances I ever met with of the tall race being found on that side of the streights.§
§ The name John Moore does not appear in the de Nodals' account of their expedition. In his account of this expedition, James Burney mentions an acccount titled Relation of Two Caravelles which the King of Spain sent from Lisbon, in the month of October 1618, under the command of Captain Don Jean de More … (vol. II, p. 437 footnote). He speculates that de More was a Dutch pilot serving the de Nodals. Perhaps he is Pennant's John Moore, and the above anecdote is in his Relation….
1642.—Henry Brewer, a Dutch admiral, observed in the streights Le Maire, the footsteps of men which measured eighteen inches, this is the last evidence in the 17th century of the existence of these tall people: but let it be observed, that out of the fifteen first voyagers who passed through the Magellanic streights, not fewer than nine are undeniable witnesses of the fact we would establish.
In the present century I can produce but two evidences of the existence of the tall Patagonians. The one in 1704, when the crew of a ship belonging to St. Maloes, commanded by captain Harrington, saw seven of these giants in Gregory bay. Mention is also made of six more being seen by captain Carman, a native of the same town; but whether in the same voyage my authority is silent.
But as it was not the fortune of the four other voyagers, who sailed through the streights in the 17th century, to fall in with any of this tall race, it became a fashion to treat as fabulous the account of the preceding nine, and to hold this lofty race as the mere creation of a warm imagination.
In such a temper was the public, on the return of Mr. Byron from his circumnavigation, in the year 1766. I had not the honor of having personal conference with that gentleman, therefore will not repeat the accounts I have been informed he had given to several of his friends; I rather chuse to recapitulate that given by Mr. Clarke, in the Philosophical Transactions for 1767, p. 75. Mr. Clarke was officer in Mr. Byron's ship, landed with him in the streights of Magellan, and had for two hours an opportunity of standing within a few yards of this race, and seeing them examined and measured by Mr. Byron. He represents them in general as stout and well proportioned, and assures us, that none of the men were lower than eight feet, and that some even exceeded nine; and that the women were from seven feet and an half to eight feet. He saw Mr. Byron measure one of the men, and, notwithstanding the commodore was near six feet high, he could, when on tip-toe, but just reach with his hand the top of the Patagonian's head; and Mr. Clarke is certain, that there were several taller than him on whom the experiment was made, for there were about five hundred men, women, and children. They seemed very happy at the landing of our people, and expressed their joy by a rude sort of singing. They were of a copper color, and had long lank hair, and faces hideously painted; both sexes were covered with skins, and some appeared on horseback and others on foot.
M. de Premontel makes this an object of ridicule, as if the size of the horses were unequal to the burden of the riders. Our navigators tell us, that the horses were fifteen or sixteen hands high. It is well known, that a mill-horse has been known to carry nine hundred and ten pounds, a weight probably beyon that of any Patagonian they saw.
A few had on their legs a sort of boot, with a sharp-pointed stick at the heel instead of a spur. Their bridles were made of thong, the bit wood; the saddle as artless as possible, and without stirrups. The introduction of horses into these parts by the Europeans, introduced likewise the only species of manufacture they appear to be acquainted with. All their skill seems to extend no farther than these rude essays at a harness; and to equip themselves for Cavaliers. In other respects they would be in the same state as our first parents just turned out of paradise, cloathed in coats of skins; or at best in the same condition in which Cæsar found the ancient Britons; for their dress was similar, their hair long, and their bodies, like those of our ancestors, made terrific by wild painting. These people, by some means or other, had acquired a few beads and bracelets; otherwise not a single article of European fabric appeared among them. These they must have gotten by the intercourse with the other Indian tribes: for had they had any intercourse with the Spaniards, they never would have neglected procuring knives, the stirrups, and other conveniences which the people seen by Mr. Wallis had.
I should have been glad to have closed, in this place, the relations of this stupendous race of mankind; because the two following accounts given by gentlemen of character and abilities seem to contradict great part of what had been before advanced, or at lest serve to give scoffers room to say, that the preceding navigators had seen these people through the medium of magnifying glasses, instead of the sober eye of observation: but before I make my remarks on what has been before related, I shall proceed with the other navigators, and then attempt to reconcile the different accounts. In 1767, captain Wallis of the Dolphin, and captain Philip Carteret of the Swallow sloop, saw and measured with a pole several of the Patagonians, who happened to be in the streights of Magellan during his passage, he represents them as a fine and friendly people, cloathed in skins, and on their legs a sort of boots, and many of them tied their hair, which was long and black, with a sort of woven stuff of the breadth of a garter, made of some kind of wool. That their arms were slings formed of two round balls, fastened one to each end of a cord, which they fling with great force and dexterity. He adds, they hold one ball in their hand, and swing the other at the full length of the cord round their head, by which it acquires a prodigious velocity: they will fling it to a great distance, and with such exactness, as to strike a very small object. These people were also mounted on horses; their saddles, bridles, &c. were of their own making; some had iron, and others metal bits to their bridles, and one had a Spanish broad sword; but whether the last articles were taken by war, or procurred by commerce, is uncertain; but the last is most probable. It seems evident that they had intercourse with Europeans, and had even adopted some of their fashions; for many had cut their dress into form of Spanish Punchos, or a square piece of cloth with a hole cut for the head, the rest hanging loose as low as the knees. They also wore drawers; so these people had attained a few steps farther towards civilisation than their gigantic neighbors; others again will appear to have made a far greater advance; for these still devoured their meat raw, and drank nothing but water.
M. Bougainville, in the same year, saw another party of the natives of Patagonia: he measured several of them, and declares that none were lower than five feet five inches, French, or taller than five feet ten; i. e. five feet ten, or six feet three, English measure. He concludes his account with saying, that he afterwards met with a taller people in the South Sea, but I do not recollect that he mentions the place.
I am sorry to be obliged to remark, in these voyages, a very illiberal propensity to cavil at and invalidate the account given by Mr. Byron: but at the same time exult in having had an opportunity given me by that gentleman of vindicating his and the national honor. M. Bougainville, in order to prove he fell in with the identical people that Mr. Byron conversed with, asserts, that he saw numbers of them possessed of knives of an English manufactory, certainly given them by Mr. Byron; but he should have considered that there are more ways than one of coming at a thing, that the commerce between Sheffield and South America, through the port of Cadiz, is most uncommonly large; and that his Indians might have got their knives from the Spaniards at the same time that they got their gilt nails and Spanish harness: but for farther satisfaction on this subject, I have liberty to say, from Mr. Byron's authority, that he never gave a single knife to the people he saw; that he had not one at that time about him; that, excepting the presents given with his own hands, and the tobacco brought by lieutenant Cummins, not the lest trifle was bestowed. I am furnished with one other proof, that these lesser Indians, whom Mr. Wallis saw, were not the same with those described by Mr. Byron, as has been insinuated: for the first had with him some officers who had been with him on the preceding voyage, and who bear witness, not only to the difference of size, but declare that these people had not a single article among them given by Mr. Byron. It is extremely probable that these were the Indians that Mr. Bougainville fell in with; for they were furnished with bits, a Spanish scymeter, and brass stirrups as before mentioned.
My last evidence of these gigantic Americans is that which I received from Mr. Falkener; he acquainted me, that about the year 1742 he was sent on a mission to the vast plains of Pampas, which, if I recollect right, lie to the south-west of Buenos Ayres, and extend near a thousand miles towards the Andes. In these plains he first met with some tribes of these people, and was taken under the protection of one of the Caziques. The remarks he made on their size were as follows; that the tallest, which he measured in the same manner that Mr. Byron did, was seven feet eight inches high; that the common height, or middle size, was six feet; that there were numbers that were even shorter; and that the tallest women did not exceed six feet. That they were scattered from the foot of the Andes, over that vast tract which extends to the Atlantic Ocean, and are found as far as the Red River at Bay Anagada, lat. 40. 1; below that the land is too barren to be habitable, and none are found, except accidental migrants, till you arrive at the river Gallego, near the streights of Magellan.
They are supposed to be a race derived from the Chilian Indians, the Puelches who inhabited the eastern side of the Andes, the same brave nation who defeated and destroyed the avaricious Spaniard Baldivia, but after that were dispossessed of their seat.
They dwell in large tents covered with the hides of mares, and divided within into apartments, for the different ranks of the family, by a sort of blanketing. They are a most migratory people, and often shift their quarters; when the women strike the tents, assist in putting them on their horses, and, like the females of all savage countries, undergo all the laborious work.
They have two motives for shifting their quarters; one, for the sake of getting salt, which they find incrusted in the shallow pools near the sea side.
The other inducement is the superstition they have of burying their dead within a certain distance of the ocean. And I may certainly add a third, that of the necessity they must lie under of seeking fresh quarters on account of the chace, which is their principal subsistence.
Those who deny the existence of these great people, never consider the migratory nature of the inhabitants of this prodigious tract, and never reflect that the tribes who may have been seen this month on the coast, may the next be some hundreds of miles inland, and their place occupied by a tribe or nation totally different. These gentlemen seem to lay down as a certain position, that Patagonia is peopled by only a single nation; and from that false principle they draw their arguments, sneer, insult, and even grossly abuse all that differ in opinion. Among the most illiberal of these writers is M. de Premontal, who, with the rapid ingenuity of his country, mounts on his headstrong courser PREJUDICE, sets off full speed, rides over all the honest fellows that would inform him of his road, and spurns even Truth herself, though she offers to be his guide: but truth is unadorned, and hated by this fantastic writer; it would spoil him of all the flowers of fiction, and tropes of abuse, against a rival country; and would teach him facts that would ruin his argument, and reduce his eloquent memoire to a single narrative of uncontested veracity.
Their food is (almost entirely) animal: the flesh of horses, oxen, guanacoes, and ostriches, all of which they eat roasted or boiled. Their drink is water, except in the season when certain species of fruit are ripe, for of those they make a sort of fermenting liquor called Chucha, common to many parts of South America. One kind is made of a podded fruit called Algarrova, which smells like a bug, and when bruised in water becomes an inebriating liquor. The same fruit is also eaten as bread. The other Chucha is made of the Molie, a small fruit, hot and sweet in the mouth: both these cause a deep drunkenness, especially the last, which excites a phrenetic inebriation, and a wildness of eyes, which lasts two or three days.
The cloathing of these people is either a mantle of skins, or of a woollen cloth manufactured by themselves; some is so strong and compact as even to hold water: the color is various, for some are striped and dyed with the richest red, made of cochineal and certain roots. They wear a short apron before, which is tucked between the legs, and preserves a modest appearance. They never wear feathered ornaments, except in their dances. Their hair is long, and tied up with a fillet. They have naturally beards, but they generally pluck up the hairs; not but some leave mustaches, as was observed by Mr. Carteret and M. Bougainville.
When they go to war, they wear a fourfold coat, of the skin of the Tapiir, [sic, Tapir] a cap of bull's hide doubled, and a broad target of the same. Their offensive weapons are bows and arrows, the last headed with bone, lances headed with iron, and broad swords, both which they procure from the Spaniards: but their native weapons are slings; of these they have two kinds; one for war, which consists of a thong, headed with stone at only one end; and during their campaigns they carry numbers of these wrapped about their bodies.
The slings which they use in the chace of horses, cattle, or ostriches, have a stone fixed to each end; and sometimes another thong, with a third stone, is fastened to the middle of the other: these, with amazing dexterity, they fling round the objects of the chace, be they beasts or ostriches, which entangle them so that they cannot stir. The Indians leave them, I may say thus tied neck and heels, and go on in pursuit of fresh game; and, having finished their sport, return to the animals they left secured in the slings.
Their wars are chiefly with the other Indians, for Patagonia is inhabited by variety of people, not a single nation. They have a great deal of intercourse with the Spaniards, and often come down to Buenos Ayres to trade for iron, bugles, &c.
This commerce with the Europeans has corrupted them greatly, taught them the vice of dram-drinking, and been a dreadful obstacle to their moral improvement. Mr. Falkener informed me, that he once prevaled on about five hundred to form a reduction, but that they grew unruly and ungovernable as soon as the Spanish traders got among them.
Their war and their chace are carried on on horseback, for they are most expert riders, and have multitudes of horses, with which the country is perfectly over-run, for they go in herds of thousands. The price of a horse at present is two dollars, or 9s. and 2d. provided it has been broken. About the year 1554 near the time of the conquest of Peru, the common price of one was from four to six thousand to ten thousand Pesos, or from £1350 to £2250 English.
The venereal distemper is common among them. They do not speak of it as an exotic disorder, so probably it is aboriginal.
In respect to religion, they allow two principles, a good and a bad The good they call, the Creator of all things; but consider him as one that, after that, never solicits himself about them. He is styled by some Soucha, or chief in the land of strong drink; by others Gauyara-cunnee, or Lord of the dead. The evil principle is called Hueccovoe, or the wanderer without. Sometimes these (for there are several) are supposed to preside over particular persons, protect their own people, or injure others. These are likewise called Valichu, or dwellers in the air.
They have priests and priestesses, whose office is to mediate with these beings in case of sickness or any distress; by the intervention of the priest they are consulted about future events; at those seasons the priest shuts himself up, and falls into a phrenetic extacy and appears epileptic. If he gives a wrong answer, he lays the fault on the evil principle, who, he says, had deceived him by not coming in person, but only sent one of his slaves. At these times the great people assemble about the cabin, from whence the oracle is to be delivered, waiting its report with great anxiety.
If a Cazique dies, or any public calamity happens; for example, in particular, when the small-pox had made great ravages among the tribes, the priests are sure to suffer, for the misfortune is presumed to have happened through their neglect in not deprecating the evil; in these cases they have no other method of saving themselves, but by laying the blame on others of their brethren.
Priests are chosen from among the young people, the most effeminate they can find; but those that are epileptic have always the preference, and these dress in a female habit.
The Puelches have a notion of a future state, and imagine that after death they are to be transported to a country, where the fruits of inebriation are eternal, there to live in immortal drunkenness or the perpetual chace of the ostrich.
When a person of eminence dies, the most respectable woman in the place goes into the tent, clears the body of all the intestines, and scrapes off as much of the flesh from the bones as possible, and then burns very carefully both that and the entrails: when that is done, the bones are buried till the rest of the flesh is quite decayed; they are taken up within a year; and if any of the bones drop out of their places they are refixed and tied together, and the whole formed into a perfect skeleton. Thus complete, it is packed up in a hide, put on the back of a favorite horse of the deceased, and then translated to the tomb of his ancestor, perhaps 300 miles distant, and always within a small space from the sea.
The skeleton is then taken out, and, decked in its best robes, and adorned with plumes and beads, is placed sitting in a deep square pit, parallel with those buried before, with sword, lance, and other weapons placed by them; and the skins of their horses, stuffed, and supported by stakes, also accompany them. The top of the pit is then covered with turf, placed on transverse beams.
A matron is appointed to attend these sepulchres, whose office it is to keep the skeletons clean, and to new-clothe them annually. I forgot to add, that, on depositing a skeleton in its tomb, the Puelches make a libation of Chucha, and, like what I have heard of an honest Spaniard, drink Viva el morte, Long live the dead.
They allow polygamy, and marry promiscuously among other Americans; they are allowed as many as three wives apiece, but if any take more than that number, he is esteemed a libertine, and held in very little esteem.
Widows black their faces for a year after their husbands decease.
In respect to government, the Caziques are hereditary, it is their business to protect the property of their people, and they have power of life and death: the office is far from being eligible; many reject it, because they are obliged to pay all their people for their services, who may at pleasure change their Caziques, so that several refuse to accept new vassals, who may offer themselves; for it is not allowed any Indian to live out of the protection of some Cazique: in such a case he would certainly be looked on as an outlaw.
Eloquence is in high esteem with them. If a Cazique wants that talent, he keeps an orator; just as leaders in opposition have been known to do among us.
This closes the history Mr. Falkener favored me with; but I must not quit that gentleman without informing you, that he returned to Europe with a suit of Patagonian cloth, a cup of horn, and a little pot made of Chilian copper; the whole fruits the Spaniards left him, after the labors of a thirty-eight years mission.
From the preceding account it appears, that the country, which goes under the name of Patagonia, extending from the river la Plata, lat. 35, to the streights of Magellan, lat. 53, and westward as far as the Andes, is inhabited by men who may be divided into three different classes; and to them may be added a fourth, a combination or mixture of others.
The first is a race of men of common size, who have been seen by numbers, and whose existence is indisputable. These often are seen on the northern side of the streights of Magellan, and oftener on the Terra del Fuego side, even as low as opposite to Cape Horn. These are frequently an exiled race, unhappy fugitives, drove by their enemies to take shelter from their fury, in those distant parts; for such is the information Mr. Falkener received from some Indians he met with in the southern parts of Patagonia, and this will account for the settled melancholy of the people observed by the navigators in Terra del Fuego.
The second class consists of those who (in general) exceed the common height of Europeans by a few inches, or perhaps the head; such were those who were seen by John Moore, who sailed with Gracias de Nodal [sic, Garcia], in 1618; by Mr. Carteret, in 1767, and by M. Bougainville, in the same year.
The third class is composed of those whose height is so extraordinary as to occasion so great a disbelief of the accounts of voyagers; and yet they are indisputably an existent people; they have been seen by Magellan, and six others, in the 16th century, and by two if not three in the present.
The fourth class is a mixed race, who, careless about preserving their generous and exalted breed pure and undegenerate, have degraded themselves by intermixing with the puny tribes of the country, and from that intercourse have produced a mongrel breed of every size, except that of the original standard; some few, as if by accident, seem to aspire to the height of their ancestors, but are checked in their growth, and stop at the stature of seven feet eight inches, scarce the middle size of the genuine breed. But another reason may be assigned for the degeneracy and inequality of size in this class: they live within the neighborhood of Europeans, they have intercourse with them, and from them they have acquired the vice of dram-drinking, and all its horrible consequences; this alone is sufficient to make a nation of giants dwindle into pygmies.
A third reason may still be assigned, viz. the introduction of manufactories among them. Those people, who depended on the spoils of the chace for their habiliments, were certain of preserving their full vigor, their strength of constitution, and fulness of habit; while those who are confined to the loom grow enervate, and lose much of the force of their bodily faculties. They also live in tents lined with woollen manufacture, which doubtlessly are much more delicate, luxurious, and warm, than the dwellings of the third undegenerate class. We are unacquainted with the form of their tents, but we know that they still cloath themselves with the skins of beasts, and that, among those Mr. Clarke saw, there was not the lest appearance of manufactury, excepting what related to their horse furniture. These seem to have been the genuine remains of the free race; the conquerors of Pedro de Baldivia; the Puelches, whose original station was among the Andes of Chiloe, in about latitude 43, and almost due east of the isle of Chiloe. These were the descendants of the Indians who retreated to the south, far out of the common track of Europeans, and who retain their primeval grandeur of size; the others, who fled north-east, forgetful of their original magnificent stature, lost in general that noble distinction by unsuitable alliances, and the use of spirits, while the first probably only marry among themselves, and certainly have all strong liquor in abhorrence: some of this tall race seem still to inhabit the stations of their ancestors, or some not very remote from them; for M. Frezier was assured by Don Pedro Molina, governor of Chiloe, that he once was visited by some of these people, who were four varas, or about nine or ten feet high; they came in company with some Chiloe Indians, with whom they were friends, and who probably found them in some of their excursions.
M. de Premontal insults M. Frezier with much acrimony on account of this relation; and charges him with changing the seat of those people from the eastern coast to the western, or the tract between Chiloe and the Magellanic streights; but the truth is, that Frezier says no such thing, but mentions them as a nation living up the country inland, not near the shores; M. Premontal also sneers at the evidence of the crews of the Maloe ships; but they by no means place these tall people on the western coast of South America, but at Gregory Bay, a place very little distant from the eastern entrance of the streights, and near which these giants have been more frequently seen than any where else.
My remarks on M. de Premontal are but a tribute to the many civilities I have received from doctor Matie, who has been most unprovokedly, unjustly, and illiberally abused by this vague and pragmatical writer.
Thus I conclude all that I collect relating to these singular people. Let me beg you to receive the account with your usual candor, and think me, with the most regard,
Your faithful and affectionate humble servant, THOMAS PENNANT.
Downing,Nov. 28th, 1771.
Copy of a paper transmitted from admiral Byron to me; through the hands of the right reverend John Egerton, late bishop of Durham, after he had perused the manuscript of the foregoing account.
The people I saw, upon the coast of Patagonia, were not the same that was seen the second voyage. One or two of the officers that sailed with me, and afterwards with captain Wallace, declared to me that they had not a single thing I had distributed amongst those I saw. M. Bougainville remarks that his officers landed amongst the Indians I had seen, as they had many English knives amongst them, which were, as he pretends, undoubtedly given by me: now it happened that I never gave a single knife to any of those Indians, nor did I even carry one ashore with me.
I had often heard from the Spaniards, that there were two or three different nations of very tall people, the largest of which inhabit those immense plains at the back of the Andes. The others somewhere near the river Galiegos [sic, Gallegos]. I take it to be the former that I saw, and for this reason:—returning from Port Famine, where I had been to wood and water, I saw those peoples' fires a long way to the westward of where I had left them, and a great way inland, so, as the winter was approaching, they were certainly returning to a better climate. I remarked that they had not one single thing amongst them that shewed they ever had any commerce with Europeans. They were certainly of a most amazing size: so much were their horses disproportioned, that all the people that were with me in the boats, when very near the shore, swore that they were all mounted upon deer; and to this instant I believe there is not a man that landed with me, though they were at some distance from them, but would swear they took them to be nine feet high. I do suppose many of them were between seven and eight, and strong in proportion.
Mr. Byron is much obliged to Mr. Pennant for the perusal of his manuscript, and thinks his remarks very judicious.