THE VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE

by Charles Darwin



PREFACE


I have stated in the preface to the first Edition of this work,
and in the Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle, that it was in
consequence of a wish expressed by Captain Fitz Roy, of having
some scientific person on board, accompanied by an offer from
him of giving up part of his own accommodations, that I
volunteered my services, which received, through the kindness of
the hydrographer, Captain Beaufort, the sanction of the Lords of
the Admiralty.  As I feel that the opportunities which I enjoyed
of studying the Natural History of the different countries we
visited, have been wholly due to Captain Fitz Roy, I hope I may
here be permitted to repeat my expression of gratitude to him;
and to add that, during the five years we were together, I
received from him the most cordial friendship and steady
assistance.  Both to Captain Fitz Roy and to all the Officers of
the Beagle [1] I shall ever feel most thankful for the
undeviating kindness with which I was treated during our long
voyage.

This volume contains, in the form of a Journal, a history of
our voyage, and a sketch of those observations in Natural History
and Geology, which I think will possess some interest for the
general reader.  I have in this edition largely condensed and
corrected some parts, and have added a little to others, in order
to render the volume more fitted for popular reading; but I trust
that naturalists will remember, that they must refer for details
to the larger publications which comprise the scientific results
of the Expedition.  The Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle
includes an account of the Fossil Mammalia, by Professor Owen;
of the Living Mammalia, by Mr. Waterhouse; of the Birds, by
Mr. Gould; of the Fish, by the Rev. L. Jenyns; and of the
Reptiles, by Mr. Bell.  I have appended to the descriptions of
each species an account of its habits and range.  These works,
which I owe to the high talents and disinterested zeal of the
above distinguished authors, could not have been undertaken, had
it not been for the liberality of the Lords Commissioners of Her
Majesty's Treasury, who, through the representation of the Right
Honourable the Chancellor of the Exchequer, have been pleased
to grant a sum of one thousand pounds towards defraying part
of the expenses of publication.

I have myself published separate volumes on the 'Structure
and Distribution of Coral Reefs;' on the 'Volcanic Islands
visited during the Voyage of the Beagle;' and on the 'Geology
of South America.' The sixth volume of the 'Geological
Transactions' contains two papers of mine on the Erratic
Boulders and Volcanic Phenomena of South America.  Messrs.
Waterhouse, Walker, Newman, and White, have published several
able papers on the Insects which were collected, and I trust
that many others will hereafter follow.  The plants from the
southern parts of America will be given by Dr. J. Hooker, in
his great work on the Botany of the Southern Hemisphere.  The
Flora of the Galapagos Archipelago is the subject of a separate
memoir by him, in the 'Linnean Transactions.' The Reverend
Professor Henslow has published a list of the plants collected
by me at the Keeling Islands; and the Reverend J. M. Berkeley
has described my cryptogamic plants.

I shall have the pleasure of acknowledging the great assistance
which I have received from several other naturalists, in the
course of this and my other works; but I must be here allowed
to return my most sincere thanks to the Reverend Professor
Henslow, who, when I was an undergraduate at Cambridge, was
one chief means of giving me a taste for Natural History, —
who, during my absence, took charge of the collections I sent
home, and by his correspondence directed my endeavours, — and
who, since my return, has constantly rendered me every
assistance which the kindest friend could offer.

DOWN, BROMLEY, KENT,
June 9, 1845

[1] I must take this opportunity of returning my sincere thanks
to Mr. Bynoe, the surgeon of the Beagle, for his very kind
attention to me when I was ill at Valparaiso.



THE VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE



CHAPTER I

ST. JAGO — CAPE DE VERD ISLANDS

Porto Praya — Ribeira Grande — Atmospheric Dust with
Infusoria — Habits of a Sea-slug and Cuttle-fish — St.
Paul's Rocks, non-volcanic — Singular Incrustations —
Insects the first Colonists of Islands — Fernando Noronha —
Bahia — Burnished Rocks — Habits of a Diodon — Pelagic
Confervae and Infusoria — Causes of discoloured Sea.


AFTER having been twice driven back by heavy southwestern
gales, Her Majesty's ship Beagle, a ten-gun
brig, under the command of Captain Fitz Roy, R. N.,
sailed from Devonport on the 27th of December, 1831.  The
object of the expedition was to complete the survey of
Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, commenced under Captain King
in 1826 to 1830, — to survey the shores of Chile, Peru, and
of some islands in the Pacific — and to carry a chain of
chronometrical measurements round the World.  On the 6th
of January we reached Teneriffe, but were prevented landing,
by fears of our bringing the cholera: the next morning
we saw the sun rise behind the rugged outline of the Grand
Canary island, and suddenly illuminate the Peak of Teneriffe,
whilst the lower parts were veiled in fleecy clouds.  This
was the first of many delightful days never to be forgotten.
On the 16th of January, 1832, we anchored at Porto Praya,
in St. Jago, the chief island of the Cape de Verd archipelago.

The neighbourhood of Porto Praya, viewed from the sea,
wears a desolate aspect.  The volcanic fires of a past age,
and the scorching heat of a tropical sun, have in most places
rendered the soil unfit for vegetation.  The country rises in
successive steps of table-land, interspersed with some truncate
conical hills, and the horizon is bounded by an irregular
chain of more lofty mountains.  The scene, as beheld through
the hazy atmosphere of this climate, is one of great interest;
if, indeed, a person, fresh from sea, and who has just
walked, for the first time, in a grove of cocoa-nut trees, can
be a judge of anything but his own happiness.  The island
would generally be considered as very uninteresting, but to
anyone accustomed only to an English landscape, the novel
aspect of an utterly sterile land possesses a grandeur which
more vegetation might spoil.  A single green leaf can
scarcely be discovered over wide tracts of the lava plains;
yet flocks of goats, together with a few cows, contrive to
exist.  It rains very seldom, but during a short portion of
the year heavy torrents fall, and immediately afterwards a
light vegetation springs out of every crevice.  This soon
withers; and upon such naturally formed hay the animals
live.  It had not now rained for an entire year.  When the
island was discovered, the immediate neighbourhood of
Porto Praya was clothed with trees, [1] the reckless
destruction of which has caused here, as at St. Helena, and
at some of the Canary islands, almost entire sterility.  The
broad, flat-bottomed valleys, many of which serve during a
few days only in the season as water-courses, are clothed
with thickets of leafless bushes.  Few living creatures inhabit
these valleys.  The commonest bird is a kingfisher (Dacelo
Iagoensis), which tamely sits on the branches of the castor-
oil plant, and thence darts on grasshoppers and lizards.  It
is brightly coloured, but not so beautiful as the European
species: in its flight, manners, and place of habitation,
which is generally in the driest valley, there is also a wide
difference.

One day, two of the officers and myself rode to Ribeira
Grande, a village a few miles eastward of Porto Praya.  Until
we reached the valley of St. Martin, the country presented
its usual dull brown appearance; but here, a very small rill
of water produces a most refreshing margin of luxuriant
vegetation.  In the course of an hour we arrived at Ribeira
Grande, and were surprised at the sight of a large ruined
fort and cathedral.  This little town, before its harbour was
filled up, was the principal place in the island: it now
presents a melancholy, but very picturesque appearance.  Having
procured a black Padre for a guide, and a Spaniard who
had served in the Peninsular war as an interpreter, we visited
a collection of buildings, of which an ancient church
formed the principal part.  It is here the governors and
captain-generals of the islands have been buried.  Some of
the tombstones recorded dates of the sixteenth century. [2]

The heraldic ornaments were the only things in this retired
place that reminded us of Europe.  The church or chapel
formed one side of a quadrangle, in the middle of which a
large clump of bananas were growing.  On another side
was a hospital, containing about a dozen miserable-looking
inmates.

We returned to the Venda to eat our dinners.  A considerable
number of men, women, and children, all as black as
jet, collected to watch us.  Our companions were extremely
merry; and everything we said or did was followed by their
hearty laughter.  Before leaving the town we visited the
cathedral.  It does not appear so rich as the smaller church,
but boasts of a little organ, which sent forth singularly
inharmonious cries.  We presented the black priest with a few
shillings, and the Spaniard, patting him on the head, said,
with much candour, he thought his colour made no great
difference.  We then returned, as fast as the ponies would
go, to Porto Praya.

Another day we rode to the village of St. Domingo, situated
near the centre of the island.  On a small plain which
we crossed, a few stunted acacias were growing; their tops
had been bent by the steady trade-wind, in a singular
manner — some of them even at right angles to their trunks.
The direction of the branches was exactly N. E. by N., and S. W.
by S., and these natural vanes must indicate the prevailing
direction of the force of the trade-wind.  The travelling had
made so little impression on the barren soil, that we here
missed our track, and took that to Fuentes.  This we did
not find out till we arrived there; and we were afterwards
glad of our mistake.  Fuentes is a pretty village, with a small
stream; and everything appeared to prosper well, excepting,
indeed, that which ought to do so most — its inhabitants.
The black children, completely naked, and looking very
wretched, were carrying bundles of firewood half as big as
their own bodies.

Near Fuentes we saw a large flock of guinea-fowl —
probably fifty or sixty in number.  They were extremely
wary, and could not be approached.  They avoided us, like
partridges on a rainy day in September, running with their
heads cocked up; and if pursued, they readily took to the
wing.

The scenery of St. Domingo possesses a beauty totally
unexpected, from the prevalent gloomy character of the rest
of the island.  The village is situated at the bottom of a
valley, bounded by lofty and jagged walls of stratified lava.
The black rocks afford a most striking contrast with the
bright green vegetation, which follows the banks of a little
stream of clear water.  It happened to be a grand feast-day,
and the village was full of people.  On our return we overtook
a party of about twenty young black girls, dressed in
excellent taste; their black skins and snow-white linen being
set off by coloured turbans and large shawls.  As soon as
we approached near, they suddenly all turned round, and
covering the path with their shawls, sung with great energy
a wild song, beating time with their hands upon their legs.
We threw them some vintems, which were received with
screams of laughter, and we left them redoubling the noise
of their song.

One morning the view was singularly clear; the distant
mountains being projected with the sharpest outline on a
heavy bank of dark blue clouds.  Judging from the appearance,
and from similar cases in England, I supposed that the
air was saturated with moisture.  The fact, however, turned
out quite the contrary.  The hygrometer gave a difference
of 29.6 degs., between the temperature of the air, and the
point at which dew was precipitated.  This difference was
nearly double that which I had observed on the previous
mornings.  This unusual degree of atmospheric dryness was
accompanied by continual flashes of lightning.  Is it not an
uncommon case, thus to find a remarkable degree of aerial
transparency with such a state of weather?

Generally the atmosphere is hazy; and this is caused by
the falling of impalpably fine dust, which was found to have
slightly injured the astronomical instruments.  The morning
before we anchored at Porto Praya, I collected a little packet
of this brown-coloured fine dust, which appeared to have
been filtered from the wind by the gauze of the vane at the
masthead.  Mr. Lyell has also given me four packets of dust
which fell on a vessel a few hundred miles northward of
these islands.  Professor Ehrenberg [3] finds that this dust
consists in great part of infusoria with siliceous shields, and
of the siliceous tissue of plants.  In five little packets which
I sent him, he has ascertained no less than sixty-seven
different organic forms!  The infusoria, with the exception of
two marine species, are all inhabitants of fresh-water.  I
have found no less than fifteen different accounts of dust
having fallen on vessels when far out in the Atlantic.  From
the direction of the wind whenever it has fallen, and from
its having always fallen during those months when the harmattan
is known to raise clouds of dust high into the atmosphere,
we may feel sure that it all comes from Africa.  It
is, however, a very singular fact, that, although Professor
Ehrenberg knows many species of infusoria peculiar to
Africa, he finds none of these in the dust which I sent him.
On the other hand, he finds in it two species which hitherto
he knows as living only in South America.  The dust falls
in such quantities as to dirty everything on board, and to
hurt people's eyes; vessels even have run on shore owing to
the obscurity of the atmosphere.  It has often fallen on
ships when several hundred, and even more than a thousand
miles from the coast of Africa, and at points sixteen hundred
miles distant in a north and south direction.  In some
dust which was collected on a vessel three hundred miles
from the land, I was much surprised to find particles of
stone above the thousandth of an inch square, mixed with
finer matter.  After this fact one need not be surprised
at the diffusion of the far lighter and smaller sporules of
cryptogamic plants.

The geology of this island is the most interesting part of
its natural history.  On entering the harbour, a perfectly
horizontal white band, in the face of the sea cliff, may be seen
running for some miles along the coast, and at the height of
about forty-five feet above the water.  Upon examination
this white stratum is found to consist of calcareous matter
with numerous shells embedded, most or all of which now
exist on the neighbouring coast.  It rests on ancient volcanic
rocks, and has been covered by a stream of basalt, which
must have entered the sea when the white shelly bed was
lying at the bottom.  It is interesting to trace the changes
produced by the heat of the overlying lava, on the friable
mass, which in parts has been converted into a crystalline
limestone, and in other parts into a compact spotted stone
Where the lime has been caught up by the scoriaceous fragments
of the lower surface of the stream, it is converted into
groups of beautifully radiated fibres resembling arragonite.
The beds of lava rise in successive gently-sloping plains,
towards the interior, whence the deluges of melted stone
have originally proceeded.  Within historical times, no signs
of volcanic activity have, I believe, been manifested in any
part of St. Jago.  Even the form of a crater can but rarely
be discovered on the summits of the many red cindery hills;
yet the more recent streams can be distinguished on the
coast, forming lines of cliffs of less height, but stretching
out in advance of those belonging to an older series: the
height of the cliffs thus affording a rude measure of the age
of the streams.

During our stay, I observed the habits of some marine
animals.  A large Aplysia is very common.  This sea-slug
is about five inches long; and is of a dirty yellowish colour
veined with purple.  On each side of the lower surface, or
foot, there is a broad membrane, which appears sometimes
to act as a ventilator, in causing a current of water to flow
over the dorsal branchiae or lungs.  It feeds on the delicate
sea-weeds which grow among the stones in muddy and shallow
water; and I found in its stomach several small pebbles,
as in the gizzard of a bird.  This slug, when disturbed, emits
a very fine purplish-red fluid, which stains the water for the
space of a foot around.  Besides this means of defence, an
acrid secretion, which is spread over its body, causes a
sharp, stinging sensation, similar to that produced by the
Physalia, or Portuguese man-of-war.

I was much interested, on several occasions, by watching
the habits of an Octopus, or cuttle-fish.  Although common
in the pools of water left by the retiring tide, these animals
were not easily caught.  By means of their long arms and
suckers, they could drag their bodies into very narrow crevices;
and when thus fixed, it required great force to remove
them.  At other times they darted tail first, with the rapidity
of an arrow, from one side of the pool to the other, at the
same instant discolouring the water with a dark chestnut-brown
ink.  These animals also escape detection by a very
extraordinary, chameleon-like power of changing their colour.
They appear to vary their tints according to the nature
of the ground over which they pass: when in deep water,
their general shade was brownish purple, but when placed on
the land, or in shallow water, this dark tint changed into one
of a yellowish green.  The colour, examined more carefully,
was a French grey, with numerous minute spots of bright
yellow: the former of these varied in intensity; the latter
entirely disappeared and appeared again by turns.  These
changes were effected in such a manner, that clouds, varying
in tint between a hyacinth red and a chestnut-brown, [4] were
continually passing over the body.  Any part, being subjected
to a slight shock of galvanism, became almost black: a similar
effect, but in a less degree, was produced by scratching
the skin with a needle.  These clouds, or blushes as they may
be called, are said to be produced by the alternate expansion
and contraction of minute vesicles containing variously
coloured fluids. [5]

This cuttle-fish displayed its chameleon-like power both
during the act of swimming and whilst remaining stationary
at the bottom.  I was much amused by the various arts to
escape detection used by one individual, which seemed fully
aware that I was watching it.  Remaining for a time motionless,
it would then stealthily advance an inch or two, like a
cat after a mouse; sometimes changing its colour: it thus
proceeded, till having gained a deeper part, it darted away,
leaving a dusky train of ink to hide the hole into which it
had crawled.

While looking for marine animals, with my head about
two feet above the rocky shore, I was more than once saluted
by a jet of water, accompanied by a slight grating noise.  At
first I could not think what it was, but afterwards I found
out that it was this cuttle-fish, which, though concealed in a
hole, thus often led me to its discovery.  That it possesses
the power of ejecting water there is no doubt, and it appeared
to me that it could certainly take good aim by directing the
tube or siphon on the under side of its body.  From the
difficulty which these animals have in carrying their heads,
they cannot crawl with ease when placed on the ground.  I
observed that one which I kept in the cabin was slightly
phosphorescent in the dark.

ST. PAUL'S ROCKS. — In crossing the Atlantic we hove-to
during the morning of February 16th, close to the island of
St. Paul's.  This cluster of rocks is situated in 0 degs. 58'
north latitude, and 29 degs. 15' west longitude.  It is 540
miles distant from the coast of America, and 350 from the island
of Fernando Noronha.  The highest point is only fifty feet above
the level of the sea, and the entire circumference is under
three-quarters of a mile.  This small point rises abruptly out
of the depths of the ocean.  Its mineralogical constitution
is not simple; in some parts the rock is of a cherty, in others
of a felspathic nature, including thin veins of serpentine.  It
is a remarkable fact, that all the many small islands, lying
far from any continent, in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic
Oceans, with the exception of the Seychelles and this little
point of rock, are, I believe, composed either of coral or of
erupted matter.  The volcanic nature of these oceanic islands
is evidently an extension of that law, and the effect of those
same causes, whether chemical or mechanical, from which it
results that a vast majority of the volcanoes now in action
stand either near sea-coasts or as islands in the midst of the
sea.

The rocks of St. Paul appear from a distance of a brilliantly
white colour.  This is partly owing to the dung of a
vast multitude of seafowl, and partly to a coating of a hard
glossy substance with a pearly lustre, which is intimately
united to the surface of the rocks.  This, when examined
with a lens, is found to consist of numerous exceedingly
thin layers, its total thickness being about the tenth of an
inch.  It contains much animal matter, and its origin, no
doubt, is due to the action of the rain or spray on the birds'
dung.  Below some small masses of guano at Ascension, and
on the Abrolhos Islets, I found certain stalactitic branching
bodies, formed apparently in the same manner as the thin
white coating on these rocks.  The branching bodies so closely
resembled in general appearance certain nulliporae (a family
of hard calcareous sea-plants), that in lately looking hastily
over my collection I did not perceive the difference.  The
globular extremities of the branches are of a pearly texture,
like the enamel of teeth, but so hard as just to scratch plate-
glass.  I may here mention, that on a part of the coast of
Ascension, where there is a vast accumulation of shelly sand,
an incrustation is deposited on the tidal rocks by the water
of the sea, resembling, as represented in the woodcut, certain
cryptogamic plants (Marchantiae) often seen on damp
walls.  The surface of the fronds is beautifully glossy; and
those parts formed where fully exposed to the light are of a
jet black colour, but those shaded under ledges are only grey.
I have shown specimens of this incrustation to several
geologists, and they all thought that they were of volcanic
or igneous origin!  In its hardness and translucency — in
its polish, equal to that of the finest oliva-shell — in the
bad smell given out, and loss of colour under the blowpipe — it
shows a close similarity with living sea-shells.  Moreover, in
sea-shells, it is known that the parts habitually covered and
shaded by the mantle of the animal, are of a paler colour
than those fully exposed to the light, just as is the case with
this incrustation.  When we remember that lime, either as a
phosphate or carbonate, enters into the composition of the
hard parts, such as bones and shells, of all living animals, it
is an interesting physiological fact [6] to find substances
harder than the enamel of teeth, and coloured surfaces as well
polished as those of a fresh shell, reformed through inorganic
means from dead organic matter — mocking, also, in
shape, some of the lower vegetable productions.

We found on St. Paul's only two kinds of birds — the
booby and the noddy.  The former is a species of gannet,
and the latter a tern.  Both are of a tame and stupid
disposition, and are so unaccustomed to visitors, that I could
have killed any number of them with my geological hammer.
The booby lays her eggs on the bare rock; but the tern makes
a very simple nest with seaweed.  By the side of many of
these nests a small flying-fish was placed; which I suppose,
had been brought by the male bird for its partner.  It was
amusing to watch how quickly a large and active crab
(Graspus), which inhabits the crevices of the rock, stole the
fish from the side of the nest, as soon as we had disturbed
the parent birds.  Sir W. Symonds, one of the few persons
who have landed here, informs me that he saw the crabs
dragging even the young birds out of their nests, and devouring
them.  Not a single plant, not even a lichen, grows
on this islet; yet it is inhabited by several insects and
spiders.  The following list completes, I believe, the
terrestrial fauna: a fly (Olfersia) living on the booby, and
a tick which must have come here as a parasite on the birds;
a small brown moth, belonging to a genus that feeds on feathers;
a beetle (Quedius) and a woodlouse from beneath the dung; and
lastly, numerous spiders, which I suppose prey on these small
attendants and scavengers of the water-fowl.  The often repeated
description of the stately palm and other noble tropical
plants, then birds, and lastly man, taking possession of
the coral islets as soon as formed, in the Pacific, is probably
not correct; I fear it destroys the poetry of this story, that
feather and dirt-feeding and parasitic insects and spiders
should be the first inhabitants of newly formed oceanic
land.

The smallest rock in the tropical seas, by giving a foundation
for the growth of innumerable kinds of seaweed and
compound animals, supports likewise a large number of fish.
The sharks and the seamen in the boats maintained a constant
struggle which should secure the greater share of the
prey caught by the fishing-lines.  I have heard that a rock
near the Bermudas, lying many miles out at sea, and at a
considerable depth, was first discovered by the circumstance
of fish having been observed in the neighbourhood.

FERNANDO NORONHA, Feb. 20th. — As far as I was enabled
to observe, during the few hours we stayed at this place, the
constitution of the island is volcanic, but probably not of a
recent date.  The most remarkable feature is a conical hill,
about one thousand feet high, the upper part of which is
exceedingly steep, and on one side overhangs its base.  The
rock is phonolite, and is divided into irregular columns.  On
viewing one of these isolated masses, at first one is inclined
to believe that it has been suddenly pushed up in a semi-fluid
state.  At St. Helena, however, I ascertained that some
pinnacles, of a nearly similar figure and constitution, had
been formed by the injection of melted rock into yielding
strata, which thus had formed the moulds for these gigantic
obelisks.  The whole island is covered with wood; but from
the dryness of the climate there is no appearance of luxuriance.
Half-way up the mountain, some great masses of the
columnar rock, shaded by laurel-like trees, and ornamented
by others covered with fine pink flowers but without a single
leaf, gave a pleasing effect to the nearer parts of the scenery.

BAHIA, OR SAN SALVADOR.  BRAZIL, Feb. 29th. — The day
has passed delightfully.  Delight itself, however, is a weak
term to express the feelings of a naturalist who, for the first
time, has wandered by himself in a Brazilian forest.  The
elegance of the grasses, the novelty of the parasitical plants,
the beauty of the flowers, the glossy green of the foliage,
but above all the general luxuriance of the vegetation, filled
me with admiration.  A most paradoxical mixture of sound
and silence pervades the shady parts of the wood.  The noise
from the insects is so loud, that it may be heard even in a
vessel anchored several hundred yards from the shore; yet
within the recesses of the forest a universal silence appears
to reign.  To a person fond of natural history, such a day
as this brings with it a deeper pleasure than he can ever hope
to experience again.  After wandering about for some hours,
I returned to the landing-place; but, before reaching it, I
was overtaken by a tropical storm.  I tried to find shelter
under a tree, which was so thick that it would never have
been penetrated by common English rain; but here, in a
couple of minutes, a little torrent flowed down the trunk.
It is to this violence of the rain that we must attribute the
verdure at the bottom of the thickest woods: if the showers
were like those of a colder climate, the greater part would
be absorbed or evaporated before it reached the ground.  I
will not at present attempt to describe the gaudy scenery
of this noble bay, because, in our homeward voyage, we
called here a second time, and I shall then have occasion to
remark on it.

Along the whole coast of Brazil, for a length of at least
2000 miles, and certainly for a considerable space inland,
wherever solid rock occurs, it belongs to a granitic formation.
The circumstance of this enormous area being constituted of
materials which most geologists believe to have
been crystallized when heated under pressure, gives rise to
many curious reflections.  Was this effect produced beneath
the depths of a profound ocean? or did a covering of strata
formerly extend over it, which has since been removed?
Can we believe that any power, acting for a time short of
infinity, could have denuded the granite over so many thousand
square leagues?

On a point not far from the city, where a rivulet entered
the sea, I observed a fact connected with a subject discussed
by Humboldt. [7] At the cataracts of the great rivers
Orinoco, Nile, and Congo, the syenitic rocks are coated by
a black substance, appearing as if they had been polished
with plumbago.  The layer is of extreme thinness; and on
analysis by Berzelius it was found to consist of the oxides
of manganese and iron.  In the Orinoco it occurs on the
rocks periodically washed by the floods, and in those parts
alone where the stream is rapid; or, as the Indians say, "the
rocks are black where the waters are white." Here the coating
is of a rich brown instead of a black colour, and seems
to be composed of ferruginous matter alone.  Hand specimens
fail to give a just idea of these brown burnished stones
which glitter in the sun's rays.  They occur only within the
limits of the tidal waves; and as the rivulet slowly trickles
down, the surf must supply the polishing power of the cataracts
in the great rivers.  In like manner, the rise and fall
of the tide probably answer to the periodical inundations;
and thus the same effects are produced under apparently different
but really similar circumstances.  The origin, however, of
these coatings of metallic oxides, which seem as if
cemented to the rocks, is not understood; and no reason, I
believe, can be assigned for their thickness remaining the
same.

One day I was amused by watching the habits of the
Diodon antennatus, which was caught swimming near the
shore.  This fish, with its flabby skin, is well known to possess
the singular power of distending itself into a nearly
spherical form.  After having been taken out of water for
a short time, and then again immersed in it, a considerable
quantity both of water and air is absorbed by the mouth,
and perhaps likewise by the branchial orifices.  This process
is effected by two methods: the air is swallowed, and is then
forced into the cavity of the body, its return being prevented
by a muscular contraction which is externally visible: but
the water enters in a gentle stream through the mouth,
which is kept wide open and motionless; this latter action
must, therefore, depend on suction.  The skin about the
abdomen is much looser than that on the back; hence, during
the inflation, the lower surface becomes far more distended
than the upper; and the fish, in consequence, floats
with its back downwards.  Cuvier doubts whether the Diodon
in this position is able to swim; but not only can it thus
move forward in a straight line, but it can turn round to
either side.  This latter movement is effected solely by the
aid of the pectoral fins; the tail being collapsed, and not
used.  From the body being buoyed up with so much air, the
branchial openings are out of water, but a stream drawn in
by the mouth constantly flows through them.

The fish, having remained in this distended state for a
short time, generally expelled the air and water with
considerable force from the branchial apertures and mouth.  It
could emit, at will, a certain portion of the water, and it
appears, therefore, probable that this fluid is taken in partly
for the sake of regulating its specific gravity.  This Diodon
possessed several means of defence.  It could give a severe
bite, and could eject water from its mouth to some distance,
at the same time making a curious noise by the movement
of its jaws.  By the inflation of its body, the papillae, with
which the skin is covered, become erect and pointed.  But
the most curious circumstance is, that it secretes from the
skin of its belly, when handled, a most beautiful carmine-red
fibrous matter, which stains ivory and paper in so permanent
a manner that the tint is retained with all its brightness
to the present day: I am quite ignorant of the nature
and use of this secretion.  I have heard from Dr. Allan of
Forres, that he has frequently found a Diodon, floating alive
and distended, in the stomach of the shark, and that on
several occasions he has known it eat its way, not only
through the coats of the stomach, but through the sides of
the monster, which has thus been killed.  Who would ever
have imagined that a little soft fish could have destroyed
the great and savage shark?

March 18th. — We sailed from Bahia.  A few days afterwards,
when not far distant from the Abrolhos Islets, my;
attention was called to a reddish-brown appearance in the
sea.  The whole surface of the water, as it appeared under a
weak lens, seemed as if covered by chopped bits of hay, with
their ends jagged.  These are minute cylindrical confervae,
in bundles or rafts of from twenty to sixty in each.  Mr.
Berkeley informs me that they are the same species
(Trichodesmium erythraeum) with that found over large spaces
in the Red Sea, and whence its name of Red Sea is derived. [8]
Their numbers must be infinite: the ship passed through
several bands of them, one of which was about ten yards
wide, and, judging from the mud-like colour of the water,
at least two and a half miles long.  In almost every long
voyage some account is given of these confervae.  They appear
especially common in the sea near Australia; and off
Cape Leeuwin I found an allied but smaller and apparently
different species.  Captain Cook, in his third voyage, remarks,
that the sailors gave to this appearance the name of
sea-sawdust.

Near Keeling Atoll, in the Indian Ocean, I observed
many little masses of confervae a few inches square, consisting
of long cylindrical threads of excessive thinness, so as
to be barely visible to the naked eye, mingled with other
rather larger bodies, finely conical at both ends.  Two of
these are shown in the woodcut united together.  They vary
in length from .04 to .06, and even to .08 of an inch in
length; and in diameter from .006 to .008 of an inch.  Near
one extremity of the cylindrical part, a green septum, formed
of granular matter, and thickest in the middle, may generally
be seen.  This, I believe, is the bottom of a most delicate,
colourless sac, composed of a pulpy substance, which lines
the exterior case, but does not extend within the extreme
conical points.  In some specimens, small but perfect spheres
of brownish granular matter supplied the
places of the septa; and I observed the curious process by
which they were produced.  The pulpy matter of the internal
coating suddenly grouped itself into lines, some of which
assumed a form radiating from a common centre; it then
continued, with an irregular and rapid movement, to contract
itself, so that in the course of a second the whole was
united into a perfect little sphere, which occupied the
position of the septum at one end of the now quite hollow case.
The formation of the granular sphere was hastened by any
accidental injury.  I may add, that frequently a pair of these
bodies were attached to each other, as represented above,
cone beside cone, at that end where the septum occurs.

I will add here a few other observations connected with
the discoloration of the sea from organic causes.  On the
coast of Chile, a few leagues north of Concepcion, the Beagle
one day passed through great bands of muddy water, exactly
like that of a swollen river; and again, a degree south of
Valparaiso, when fifty miles from the land, the same appearance
was still more extensive.  Some of the water placed
in a glass was of a pale reddish tint; and, examined under
a microscope, was seen to swarm with minute animalcula
darting about, and often exploding.  Their shape is oval,
and contracted in the middle by a ring of vibrating curved
ciliae.  It was, however, very difficult to examine them with
care, for almost the instant motion ceased, even while crossing
the field of vision, their bodies burst.  Sometimes both
ends burst at once, sometimes only one, and a quantity of
coarse, brownish, granular matter was ejected.  The animal
an instant before bursting expanded to half again its natural
size; and the explosion took place about fifteen seconds
after the rapid progressive motion had ceased: in a few
cases it was preceded for a short interval by a rotatory
movement on the longer axis.  About two minutes after any
number were isolated in a drop of water, they thus perished.
The animals move with the narrow apex forwards, by the
aid of their vibratory ciliae, and generally by rapid starts.
They are exceedingly minute, and quite invisible to the
naked eye, only covering a space equal to the square of the
thousandth of an inch.  Their numbers were infinite; for
the smallest drop of water which I could remove contained
very many.  In one day we passed through two spaces of
water thus stained, one of which alone must have extended
over several square miles.  What incalculable numbers of
these microscopical animals!  The colour of the water, as
seen at some distance, was like that of a river which has
flowed through a red clay district, but under the shade of
the vessel's side it was quite as dark as chocolate.  The line
where the red and blue water joined was distinctly defined.
The weather for some days previously had been calm, and the
ocean abounded, to an unusual degree, with living creatures. [9]

In the sea around Tierra del Fuego, and at no great distance
from the land, I have seen narrow lines of water of a
bright red colour, from the number of crustacea, which
somewhat resemble in form large prawns.  The sealers call
them whale-food.  Whether whales feed on them I do not
know; but terns, cormorants, and immense herds of great
unwieldy seals derive, on some parts of the coast, their
chief sustenance from these swimming crabs.  Seamen
invariably attribute the discoloration of the water to spawn;
but I found this to be the case only on one occasion.  At
the distance of several leagues from the Archipelago of the
Galapagos, the ship sailed through three strips of a dark
yellowish, or mudlike water; these strips were some miles
long, but only a few yards wide, and they were separated
from the surrounding water by a sinuous yet distinct margin.
The colour was caused by little gelatinous balls, about
the fifth of an inch in diameter, in which numerous minute
spherical ovules were imbedded: they were of two distinct
kinds, one being of a reddish colour and of a different shape
from the other.  I cannot form a conjecture as to what two
kinds of animals these belonged.  Captain Colnett remarks,
that this appearance is very common among the Galapagos
Islands, and that the directions of the bands indicate that
of the currents; in the described case, however, the line was
caused by the wind.  The only other appearance which I
have to notice, is a thin oily coat on the water which displays
iridescent colours.  I saw a considerable tract of the
ocean thus covered on the coast of Brazil; the seamen
attributed it to the putrefying carcase of some whale, which
probably was floating at no great distance.  I do not here
mention the minute gelatinous particles, hereafter to be
referred to, which are frequently dispersed throughout the
water, for they are not sufficiently abundant to create any
change of colour.

There are two circumstances in the above accounts which
appear remarkable: first, how do the various bodies which
form the bands with defined edges keep together?  In the
case of the prawn-like crabs, their movements were as
coinstantaneous as in a regiment of soldiers; but this cannot
happen from anything like voluntary action with the ovules,
or the confervae, nor is it probable among the infusoria.
Secondly, what causes the length and narrowness of the
bands?  The appearance so much resembles that which may
be seen in every torrent, where the stream uncoils into long
streaks the froth collected in the eddies, that I must attribute
the effect to a similar action either of the currents of the
air or sea.  Under this supposition we must believe that the
various organized bodies are produced in certain favourable
places, and are thence removed by the set of either wind
or water.  I confess, however, there is a very great difficulty
in imagining any one spot to be the birthplace of the millions
of millions of animalcula and confervae: for whence come
the germs at such points? — the parent bodies having been
distributed by the winds and waves over the immense ocean.
But on no other hypothesis can I understand their linear
grouping.  I may add that Scoresby remarks that green
water abounding with pelagic animals is invariably found
in a certain part of the Arctic Sea.

[1] I state this on the authority of Dr. E. Dieffenbach, in his
German translation of the first edition of this Journal.

[2] The Cape de Verd Islands were discovered in 1449. There was
a tombstone of a bishop with the date of 1571; and a crest of a
hand and dagger, dated 1497.

[3] I must take this opportunity of acknowledging the great
kindness with which this illustrious naturalist has examined
many of my specimens.  I have sent (June, 1845) a full account
of the falling of this dust to the Geological Society.

[4] So named according to Patrick Symes's nomenclature.

[5] See Encyclop. of Anat. and Physiol., article Cephalopoda

[6] Mr. Horner and Sir David Brewster have described
(Philosophical Transactions, 1836, p. 65) a singular
"artificial substance resembling shell." It is deposited in
fine, transparent, highly polished, brown-coloured laminae,
possessing peculiar optical properties, on the inside of a
vessel, in which cloth, first prepared with glue and then
with lime, is made to revolve rapidly in water.  It is much
softer, more transparent, and contains more animal matter,
than the natural incrustation at Ascension; but we here
again see the strong tendency which carbonate of lime and
animal matter evince to form a solid substance allied to
shell.

[7] Pers. Narr., vol. v., pt. 1., p. 18.

[8] M. Montagne, in Comptes Rendus, etc., Juillet, 1844; and
Annal. des Scienc. Nat., Dec. 1844

[9] M. Lesson (Voyage de la Coquille, tom. i., p. 255) mentions
red water off Lima, apparently produced by the same cause.
Peron, the distinguished naturalist, in the Voyage aux Terres
Australes, gives no less than twelve references to voyagers
who have alluded to the discoloured waters of the sea (vol.
ii. p. 239).  To the references given by Peron may be added,
Humboldt's Pers. Narr., vol. vi. p. 804; Flinder's Voyage,
vol. i. p. 92; Labillardiere, vol. i. p. 287; Ulloa's Voyage;
Voyage of the Astrolabe and of the Coquille; Captain King's
Survey of Australia, etc.



CHAPTER II

RIO DE JANEIRO

Rio de Janeiro — Excursion north of Cape Frio — Great
Evaporation —  Slavery — Botofogo Bay — Terrestrial
Planariae — Clouds on the Corcovado — Heavy Rain — Musical
Frogs — Phosphorescent Insects —  Elater, springing powers
of — Blue Haze — Noise made by a Butterfly —  Entomology —
Ants — Wasp killing a Spider — Parasitical Spider —
Artifices of an Epeira — Gregarious Spider — Spider with
an unsymmetrical Web.


APRIL 4th to July 5th, 1832. — A few days after our
arrival I became acquainted with an Englishman who
was going to visit his estate, situated rather more
than a hundred miles from the capital, to the northward of
Cape Frio.  I gladly accepted his kind offer of allowing me
to accompany him.

April 8th. — Our party amounted to seven.  The first stage
was very interesting.  The day was powerfully hot, and as
we passed through the woods, everything was motionless,
excepting the large and brilliant butterflies, which lazily
fluttered about.  The view seen when crossing the hills
behind Praia Grande was most beautiful; the colours were
intense, and the prevailing tint a dark blue; the sky and the
calm waters of the bay vied with each other in splendour.
After passing through some cultivated country, we entered
a forest, which in the grandeur of all its parts could not be
exceeded.  We arrived by midday at Ithacaia; this small
village is situated on a plain, and round the central house
are the huts of the negroes.  These, from their regular form
and position, reminded me of the drawings of the Hottentot
habitations in Southern Africa.  As the moon rose early, we
determined to start the same evening for our sleeping-place
at the Lagoa Marica.  As it was growing dark we passed
under one of the massive, bare, and steep hills of granite
which are so common in this country.  This spot is notorious
from having been, for a long time, the residence of some
runaway slaves, who, by cultivating a little ground near the
top, contrived to eke out a subsistence.  At length they were
discovered, and a party of soldiers being sent, the whole
were seized with the exception of one old woman, who,
sooner than again be led into slavery, dashed herself to
pieces from the summit of the mountain.  In a Roman
matron this would have been called the noble love of freedom:
in a poor negress it is mere brutal obstinacy.  We
continued riding for some hours.  For the few last miles the
road was intricate, and it passed through a desert waste of
marshes and lagoons.  The scene by the dimmed light of the
moon was most desolate.  A few fireflies flitted by us; and
the solitary snipe, as it rose, uttered its plaintive cry.  The
distant and sullen roar of the sea scarcely broke the stillness
of the night.

April 9th. — We left our miserable sleeping-place before
sunrise.  The road passed through a narrow sandy plain,
lying between the sea and the interior salt lagoons.  The
number of beautiful fishing birds, such as egrets and cranes,
and the succulent plants assuming most fantastical forms,
gave to the scene an interest which it would not otherwise
have possessed.  The few stunted trees were loaded with
parasitical plants, among which the beauty and delicious
fragrance of some of the orchideae were most to be admired.
As the sun rose, the day became extremely hot, and the
reflection of the light and heat from the white sand was very
distressing.  We dined at Mandetiba; the thermometer in
the shade being 84 degs.  The beautiful view of the distant
wooded hills, reflected in the perfectly calm water of an
extensive lagoon, quite refreshed us.  As the venda [1] here
was a very good one, and I have the pleasant, but rare
remembrance, of an excellent dinner, I will be grateful and
presently describe it, as the type of its class.  These houses
are often large, and are built of thick upright posts, with
boughs interwoven, and afterwards plastered.  They seldom
have floors, and never glazed windows; but are generally
pretty well roofed.  Universally the front part is open, forming
a kind of verandah, in which tables and benches are
placed.  The bed-rooms join on each side, and here the passenger
may sleep as comfortably as he can, on a wooden
platform, covered by a thin straw mat.  The venda stands
in a courtyard, where the horses are fed.  On first arriving
it was our custom to unsaddle the horses and give them
their Indian corn; then, with a low bow, to ask the senhor
to do us the favour to give up something to eat.  "Anything
you choose, sir," was his usual answer.  For the few first
times, vainly I thanked providence for having guided us
to so good a man.  The conversation proceeding, the case
universally became deplorable.  "Any fish can you do us the
favour of giving ?" — "Oh! no, sir." — "Any soup?" — "No,
sir." — "Any bread?" — "Oh! no, sir." — "Any dried meat?"
— "Oh! no, sir." If we were lucky, by waiting a couple of
hours, we obtained fowls, rice, and farinha.  It not unfrequently
happened, that we were obliged to kill, with stones,
the poultry for our own supper.  When, thoroughly exhausted
by fatigue and hunger, we timorously hinted that we should
be glad of our meal, the pompous, and (though true) most
unsatisfactory answer was, "It will be ready when it is
ready." If we had dared to remonstrate any further, we
should have been told to proceed on our journey, as being
too impertinent.  The hosts are most ungracious and disagreeable
in their manners; their houses and their persons
are often filthily dirty; the want of the accommodation of
forks, knives, and spoons is common; and I am sure no cottage
or hovel in England could be found in a state so utterly
destitute of every comfort.  At Campos Novos, however, we
fared sumptuously; having rice and fowls, biscuit, wine, and
spirits, for dinner; coffee in the evening, and fish with coffee
for breakfast.  All this, with good food for the horses, only
cost 2s. 6d. per head.  Yet the host of this venda, being
asked if he knew anything of a whip which one of the party
had lost, gruffly answered, "How should I know? why did
you not take care of it? — I suppose the dogs have eaten it."

Leaving Mandetiba, we continued to pass through an intricate
wilderness of lakes; in some of which were fresh,
in others salt water shells.  Of the former kinds, I found
a Limnaea in great numbers in a lake, into which, the inhabitants
assured me that the sea enters once a year, and
sometimes oftener, and makes the water quite salt.  I have
no doubt many interesting facts, in relation to marine and
fresh water animals, might be observed in this chain of
lagoons, which skirt the coast of Brazil.  M. Gay [2] has
stated that he found in the neighbourhood of Rio, shells of
the marine genera solen and mytilus, and fresh water ampullariae,
living together in brackish water.  I also frequently
observed in the lagoon near the Botanic Garden, where the
water is only a little less salt than in the sea, a species of
hydrophilus, very similar to a water-beetle common in the
ditches of England: in the same lake the only shell belonged
to a genus generally found in estuaries.

Leaving the coast for a time, we again entered the forest.
The trees were very lofty, and remarkable, compared with
those of Europe, from the whiteness of their trunks.  I see
by my note-book, "wonderful and beautiful, flowering parasites,"
invariably struck me as the most novel object in these
grand scenes.  Travelling onwards we passed through tracts
of pasturage, much injured by the enormous conical ants'
nests, which were nearly twelve feet high.  They gave to the
plain exactly the appearance of the mud volcanos at Jorullo,
as figured by Humboldt.  We arrived at Engenhodo after it
was dark, having been ten hours on horseback.  I never
ceased, during the whole journey, to be surprised at the
amount of labour which the horses were capable of enduring;
they appeared also to recover from any injury much
sooner than those of our English breed.  The Vampire bat
is often the cause of much trouble, by biting the horses on
their withers.  The injury is generally not so much owing
to the loss of blood, as to the inflammation which the pressure
of the saddle afterwards produces.  The whole circumstance
has lately been doubted in England; I was therefore
fortunate in being present when one (Desmodus d'orbignyi,
Wat.) was actually caught on a horse's back.  We were
bivouacking late one evening near Coquimbo, in Chile, when
my servant, noticing that one of the horses was very restive,
went to see what was the matter, and fancying he could
distinguish something, suddenly put his hand on the beast's
withers, and secured the vampire.  In the morning the spot
where the bite had been inflicted was easily distinguished
from being slightly swollen and bloody.  The third day
afterwards we rode the horse, without any ill effects.

April 13th. — After three days' travelling we arrived at
Socego, the estate of Senhor Manuel Figuireda, a relation
of one of our party.  The house was simple, and, though like
a barn in form, was well suited to the climate.  In the sitting-
room gilded chairs and sofas were oddly contrasted with the
whitewashed walls, thatched roof, and windows without
glass.  The house, together with the granaries, the stables,
and workshops for the blacks, who had been taught various
trades, formed a rude kind of quadrangle; in the centre
of which a large pile of coffee was drying.  These buildings
stand on a little hill, overlooking the cultivated ground, and
surrounded on every side by a wall of dark green luxuriant
forest.  The chief produce of this part of the country is
coffee.  Each tree is supposed to yield annually, on an average,
two pounds; but some give as much as eight.  Mandioca
or cassada is likewise cultivated in great quantity.  Every
part of this plant is useful; the leaves and stalks are eaten
by the horses, and the roots are ground into a pulp, which,
when pressed dry and baked, forms the farinha, the principal
article of sustenance in the Brazils.  It is a curious,
though well-known fact, that the juice of this most nutritious
plant is highly poisonous.  A few years ago a cow died at
this Fazenda, in consequence of having drunk some of it.
Senhor Figuireda told me that he had planted, the year before,
one bag of feijao or beans, and three of rice; the
former of which produced eighty, and the latter three hundred
and twenty fold.  The pasturage supports a fine stock
of cattle, and the woods are so full of game that a deer had
been killed on each of the three previous days.  This profusion
of food showed itself at dinner, where, if the tables did
not groan, the guests surely did; for each person is expected
to eat of every dish.  One day, having, as I thought, nicely
calculated so that nothing should go away untasted, to my
utter dismay a roast turkey and a pig appeared in all their
substantial reality.  During the meals, it was the employment
of a man to drive out of the room sundry old hounds,
and dozens of little black children, which crawled in together,
at every opportunity.  As long as the idea of slavery could be
banished, there was something exceedingly fascinating in
this simple and patriarchal style of living: it was such a
perfect retirement and independence from the rest of the
world.

As soon as any stranger is seen arriving, a large bell is set
tolling, and generally some small cannon are fired.  The
event is thus announced to the rocks and woods, but to nothing
else.  One morning I walked out an hour before daylight
to admire the solemn stillness of the scene; at last, the
silence was broken by the morning hymn, raised on high by the
whole body of the blacks; and in this manner their daily
work is generally begun.  On such fazendas as these, I have
no doubt the slaves pass happy and contented lives.  On
Saturday and Sunday they work for themselves, and in this
fertile climate the labour of two days is sufficient to support
a man and his family for the whole week.

April 14th. — Leaving Socego, we rode to another estate on
the Rio Macae, which was the last patch of cultivated ground
in that direction.  The estate was two and a half miles long,
and the owner had forgotten how many broad.  Only a very
small piece had been cleared, yet almost every acre was
capable of yielding all the various rich productions of a tropical
land.  Considering the enormous area of Brazil, the proportion
of cultivated ground can scarcely be considered as
anything, compared to that which is left in the state of
nature: at some future age, how vast a population it will
support!  During the second day's journey we found the
road so shut up, that it was necessary that a man should go
ahead with a sword to cut away the creepers.  The forest
abounded with beautiful objects; among which the tree ferns,
though not large, were, from their bright green foliage, and
the elegant curvature of their fronds, most worthy of admiration.
In the evening it rained very heavily, and although the
thermometer stood at 65 degs., I felt very cold.  As soon as
the rain ceased, it was curious to observe the extraordinary
evaporation which commenced over the whole extent of the
forest.  At the height of a hundred feet the hills were buried
in a dense white vapour, which rose like columns of smoke
from the most thickly wooded parts, and especially from the
valleys.  I observed this phenomenon on several occasions.
I suppose it is owing to the large surface of foliage, previously
heated by the sun's rays.

While staying at this estate, I was very nearly being an
eye-witness to one of those atrocious acts which can only
take place in a slave country.  Owing to a quarrel and a
lawsuit, the owner was on the point of taking all the women
and children from the male slaves, and selling them separately
at the public auction at Rio.  Interest, and not any
feeling of compassion, prevented this act.  Indeed, I do not
believe the inhumanity of separating thirty families, who
had lived together for many years, even occurred to the
owner.  Yet I will pledge myself, that in humanity and
good feeling he was superior to the common run of men.
It may be said there exists no limit to the blindness of interest
and selfish habit.  I may mention one very trifling anecdote,
which at the time struck me more forcibly than any
story of cruelty.  I was crossing a ferry with a negro, who
was uncommonly stupid.  In endeavouring to make him
understand, I talked loud, and made signs, in doing which I
passed my hand near his face.  He, I suppose, thought I was
in a passion, and was going to strike him; for instantly,
with a frightened look and half-shut eyes, he dropped his
hands.  I shall never forget my feelings of surprise, disgust,
and shame, at seeing a great powerful man afraid even to
ward off a blow, directed, as he thought, at his face.  This
man had been trained to a degradation lower than the
slavery of the most helpless animal.

April 18th. — In returning we spent two days at Socego,
and I employed them in collecting insects in the forest.  The
greater number of trees, although so lofty, are not more
than three or four feet in circumference.  There are, of
course, a few of much greater dimensions.  Senhor Manuel
was then making a canoe 70 feet in length from a solid trunk,
which had originally been 110 feet long, and of great thickness.
The contrast of palm trees, growing amidst the common
branching kinds, never fails to give the scene an intertropical
character.  Here the woods were ornamented by the
Cabbage Palm — one of the most beautiful of its family.  With
a stem so narrow that it might be clasped with the two
hands, it waves its elegant head at the height of forty or
fifty feet above the ground.  The woody creepers, themselves
covered by other creepers, were of great thickness: some
which I measured were two feet in circumference.  Many of
the older trees presented a very curious appearance from
the tresses of a liana hanging from their boughs, and resembling
bundles of hay.  If the eye was turned from the world
of foliage above, to the ground beneath, it was attracted by
the extreme elegance of the leaves of the ferns and mimosae.
The latter, in some parts, covered the surface with a brushwood
only a few inches high.  In walking across these thick
beds of mimosae, a broad track was marked by the change
of shade, produced by the drooping of their sensitive petioles.
It is easy to specify the individual objects of admiration in
these grand scenes; but it is not possible to give an adequate
idea of the higher feelings of wonder, astonishment, and
devotion, which fill and elevate the mind.

April 19th.—Leaving Socego, during the two first days,
we retraced our steps.  It was very wearisome work, as the
road generally ran across a glaring hot sandy plain, not
far from the coast.  I noticed that each time the horse put
its foot on the fine siliceous sand, a gentle chirping noise
was produced.  On the third day we took a different line,
and passed through the gay little village of Madre de Deos.
This is one of the principal lines of road in Brazil; yet it
was in so bad a state that no wheeled vehicle, excepting the
clumsy bullock-wagon, could pass along.  In our whole journey
we did not cross a single bridge built of stone; and
those made of logs of wood were frequently so much out of
repair, that it was necessary to go on one side to avoid them.
All distances are inaccurately known.  The road is often
marked by crosses, in the place of milestones, to signify
where human blood has been spilled.  On the evening of the
23rd we arrived at Rio, having finished our pleasant little
excursion.

During the remainder of my stay at Rio, I resided in a
cottage at Botofogo Bay.  It was impossible to wish for
anything more delightful than thus to spend some weeks
in so magnificent a country.  In England any person fond
of natural history enjoys in his walks a great advantage, by
always having something to attract his attention; but in
these fertile climates, teeming with life, the attractions are
so numerous, that he is scarcely able to walk at all.

The few observations which I was enabled to make were
almost exclusively confined to the invertebrate animals.  The
existence of a division of the genus Planaria, which inhabits
the dry land, interested me much.  These animals are of so
simple a structure, that Cuvier has arranged them with the
intestinal worms, though never found within the bodies of
other animals.  Numerous species inhabit both salt and fresh
water; but those to which I allude were found, even in the
drier parts of the forest, beneath logs of rotten wood, on
which I believe they feed.  In general form they resemble
little slugs, but are very much narrower in proportion, and
several of the species are beautifully coloured with
longitudinal stripes.  Their structure is very simple: near the
middle of the under or crawling surface there are two small
transverse slits, from the anterior one of which a funnel-
shaped and highly irritable mouth can be protruded.  For
some time after the rest of the animal was completely dead
from the effects of salt water or any other cause, this organ
still retained its vitality.

I found no less than twelve different species of terrestrial
Planariae in different parts of the southern hemisphere. [3]
Some specimens which I obtained at Van Dieman's Land,
I kept alive for nearly two months, feeding them on rotten
wood.  Having cut one of them transversely into two nearly
equal parts, in the course of a fortnight both had the shape
of perfect animals.  I had, however, so divided the body,
that one of the halves contained both the inferior orifices,
and the other, in consequence, none.  In the course of twenty-
five days from the operation, the more perfect half could
not have been distinguished from any other specimen.  The
other had increased much in size; and towards its posterior
end, a clear space was formed in the parenchymatous mass,
in which a rudimentary cup-shaped mouth could clearly be
distinguished; on the under surface, however, no corresponding
slit was yet open.  If the increased heat of the weather,
as we approached the equator, had not destroyed all the
individuals, there can be no doubt that this last step would
have completed its structure.  Although so well-known an
experiment, it was interesting to watch the gradual production
of every essential organ, out of the simple extremity
of another animal.  It is extremely difficult to preserve these
Planariae; as soon as the cessation of life allows the ordinary
laws of change to act, their entire bodies become soft
and fluid, with a rapidity which I have never seen equalled.

I first visited the forest in which these Planariae were
found, in company with an old Portuguese priest who took
me out to hunt with him.  The sport consisted in turning
into the cover a few dogs, and then patiently waiting to fire
at any animal which might appear.  We were accompanied
by the son of a neighbouring farmer — a good specimen of
a wild Brazilian youth.  He was dressed in a tattered old
shirt and trousers, and had his head uncovered: he carried
an old-fashioned gun and a large knife.  The habit of carrying
the knife is universal; and in traversing a thick wood
it is almost necessary, on account of the creeping plants.
The frequent occurrence of murder may be partly attributed
to this habit.  The Brazilians are so dexterous with the
knife, that they can throw it to some distance with precision,
and with sufficient force to cause a fatal wound.  I have seen
a number of little boys practising this art as a game of play
and from their skill in hitting an upright stick, they promised
well for more earnest attempts.  My companion, the day
before, had shot two large bearded monkeys.  These animals
have prehensile tails, the extremity of which, even after
death, can support the whole weight of the body.  One of
them thus remained fast to a branch, and it was necessary
to cut down a large tree to procure it.  This was soon effected,
and down came tree and monkey with an awful crash.  Our
day's sport, besides the monkey, was confined to sundry small
green parrots and a few toucans.  I profited, however, by my
acquaintance with the Portuguese padre, for on another
occasion he gave me a fine specimen of the Yagouaroundi
cat.

Every one has heard of the beauty of the scenery near
Botofogo.  The house in which I lived was seated close
beneath the well-known mountain of the Corcovado.  It has
been remarked, with much truth, that abruptly conical hills
are characteristic of the formation which Humboldt designates
as gneiss-granite.  Nothing can be more striking than
the effect of these huge rounded masses of naked rock rising
out of the most luxuriant vegetation.

I was often interested by watching the clouds, which,
rolling in from seaward, formed a bank just beneath the
highest point of the Corcovado.  This mountain, like most
others, when thus partly veiled, appeared to rise to a far
prouder elevation than its real height of 2300 feet.  Mr.
Daniell has observed, in his meteorological essays, that a
cloud sometimes appears fixed on a mountain summit, while
the wind continues to blow over it.  The same phenomenon
here presented a slightly different appearance.  In this case
the cloud was clearly seen to curl over, and rapidly pass
by the summit, and yet was neither diminished nor increased
in size.  The sun was setting, and a gentle southerly breeze,
striking against the southern side of the rock, mingled its
current with the colder air above; and the vapour was thus
condensed; but as the light wreaths of cloud passed over
the ridge, and came within the influence of the warmer
atmosphere of the northern sloping bank, they were immediately
re-dissolved.

The climate, during the months of May and June, or the
beginning of winter, was delightful.  The mean temperature,
from observations taken at nine o'clock, both morning
and evening, was only 72 degs.  It often rained heavily, but
the drying southerly winds soon again rendered the walks
pleasant.  One morning, in the course of six hours, 1.6 inches
of rain fell.  As this storm passed over the forests which
surround the Corcovado, the sound produced by the drops
pattering on the countless multitude of leaves was very
remarkable, it could be heard at the distance of a quarter of
a mile, and was like the rushing of a great body of water.
After the hotter days, it was delicious to sit quietly in the
garden and watch the evening pass into night.  Nature, in
these climes, chooses her vocalists from more humble performers
than in Europe.  A small frog, of the genus Hyla,
sits on a blade of grass about an inch above the surface of
the water, and sends forth a pleasing chirp: when several
are together they sing in harmony on different notes.  I had
some difficulty in catching a specimen of this frog.  The
genus Hyla has its toes terminated by small suckers; and I
found this animal could crawl up a pane of glass, when
placed absolutely perpendicular.  Various cicidae and crickets,
at the same time, keep up a ceaseless shrill cry, but which,
softened by the distance, is not unpleasant.  Every evening
after dark this great concert commenced; and often have I
sat listening to it, until my attention has been drawn away
by some curious passing insect.

At these times the fireflies are seen flitting about from
hedge to hedge.  On a dark night the light can be seen at
about two hundred paces distant.  It is remarkable that in
all the different kinds of glowworms, shining elaters, and
various marine animals (such as the crustacea, medusae,
nereidae, a coralline of the genus Clytia, and Pyrosma),
which I have observed, the light has been of a well-marked
green colour.  All the fireflies, which I caught here, belonged
to the Lampyridae (in which family the English glowworm
is included), and the greater number of specimens were of
Lampyris occidentalis. [4] I found that this insect emitted
the most brilliant flashes when irritated: in the intervals,
the abdominal rings were obscured.  The flash was almost
co-instantaneous in the two rings, but it was just perceptible
first in the anterior one.  The shining matter was fluid and
very adhesive: little spots, where the skin had been torn,
continued bright with a slight scintillation, whilst the
uninjured parts were obscured.  When the insect was decapitated
the rings remained uninterruptedly bright, but not so brilliant
as before: local irritation with a needle always increased
the vividness of the light.  The rings in one instance retained
their luminous property nearly twenty-four hours after the
death of the insect.  From these facts it would appear probable,
that the animal has only the power of concealing or
extinguishing the light for short intervals, and that at other
times the display is involuntary.  On the muddy and wet
gravel-walks I found the larvae of this lampyris in great
numbers: they resembled in general form the female of the
English glowworm.  These larvae possessed but feeble luminous
powers; very differently from their parents, on the
slightest touch they feigned death and ceased to shine; nor
did irritation excite any fresh display.  I kept several of
them alive for some time: their tails are very singular organs,
for they act, by a well-fitted contrivance, as suckers or organs
of attachment, and likewise as reservoirs for saliva, or some
such fluid.  I repeatedly fed them on raw meat; and I invariably
observed, that every now and then the extremity
of the tail was applied to the mouth, and a drop of fluid
exuded on the meat, which was then in the act of being consumed.
The tail, notwithstanding so much practice, does not
seem to be able to find its way to the mouth; at least the neck
was always touched first, and apparently as a guide.

When we were at Bahia, an elater or beetle (Pyrophorus
luminosus, Illig.) seemed the most common luminous insect.
The light in this case was also rendered more brilliant by
irritation.  I amused myself one day by observing the springing
powers of this insect, which have not, as it appears to
me, been properly described. [5] The elater, when placed on
its back and preparing to spring, moved its head and thorax
backwards, so that the pectoral spine was drawn out, and
rested on the edge of its sheath.  The same backward movement
being continued, the spine, by the full action of the
muscles, was bent like a spring; and the insect at this moment
rested on the extremity of its head and wing-cases.
The effort being suddenly relaxed, the head and thorax flew
up, and in consequence, the base of the wing-cases struck
the supporting surface with such force, that the insect by
the reaction was jerked upwards to the height of one or
two inches.  The projecting points of the thorax, and the
sheath of the spine, served to steady the whole body during
the spring.  In the descriptions which I have read, sufficient
stress does not appear to have been laid on the elasticity of
the spine: so sudden a spring could not be the result of simple
muscular contraction, without the aid of some mechanical
contrivance.

On several occasions I enjoyed some short but most pleasant
excursions in the neighbouring country.  One day I went
to the Botanic Garden, where many plants, well known for
their great utility, might be seen growing.  The leaves of the
camphor, pepper, cinnamon, and clove trees were delightfully
aromatic; and the bread-fruit, the jaca, and the mango,
vied with each other in the magnificence of their foliage.
The landscape in the neighbourhood of Bahia almost takes
its character from the two latter trees.  Before seeing them,
I had no idea that any trees could cast so black a shade on
the ground.  Both of them bear to the evergreen vegetation
of these climates the same kind of relation which laurels
and hollies in England do to the lighter green of the deciduous
trees.  It may be observed, that the houses within the
tropics are surrounded by the most beautiful forms of
vegetation, because many of them are at the same time most
useful to man.  Who can doubt that these qualities are united
in the banana, the cocoa-nut, the many kinds of palm, the
orange, and the bread-fruit tree?

During this day I was particularly struck with a remark
of Humboldt's, who often alludes to "the thin vapour which,
without changing the transparency of the air, renders its
tints more harmonious, and softens its effects." This is an
appearance which I have never observed in the temperate
zones.  The atmosphere, seen through a short space of half
or three-quarters of a mile, was perfectly lucid, but at a
greater distance all colours were blended into a most beautiful
haze, of a pale French grey, mingled with a little blue.
The condition of the atmosphere between the morning and
about noon, when the effect was most evident, had undergone
little change, excepting in its dryness.  In the interval,
the difference between the dew point and temperature had
increased from 7.5 to 17 degs.

On another occasion I started early and walked to the
Gavia, or topsail mountain.  The air was delightfully cool
and fragrant; and the drops of dew still glittered on the
leaves of the large liliaceous plants, which shaded the
streamlets of clear water.  Sitting down on a block of granite,
it was delightful to watch the various insects and birds as
they flew past.  The humming-bird seems particularly fond of
such shady retired spots.  Whenever I saw these little creatures
buzzing round a flower, with their wings vibrating so
rapidly as to be scarcely visible, I was reminded of the
sphinx moths: their movements and habits are indeed in
many respects very similar.

Following a pathway, I entered a noble forest, and from
a height of five or six hundred feet, one of those splendid
views was presented, which are so common on every side
of Rio.  At this elevation the landscape attains its most
brilliant tint; and every form, every shade, so completely
surpasses in magnificence all that the European has ever
beheld in his own country, that he knows not how to express
his feelings.  The general effect frequently recalled
to my mind the gayest scenery of the Opera-house or the
great theatres.  I never returned from these excursions
empty-handed.  This day I found a specimen of a curious
fungus, called Hymenophallus.  Most people know the English
Phallus, which in autumn taints the air with its odious
smell: this, however, as the entomologist is aware, is, to
some of our beetles a delightful fragrance.  So was it here;
for a Strongylus, attracted by the odour, alighted on the
fungus as I carried it in my hand.  We here see in two distant
countries a similar relation between plants and insects of the
same families, though the species of both are different.  When
man is the agent in introducing into a country a new species,
this relation is often broken: as one instance of this I may
mention, that the leaves of the cabbages and lettuces, which
in England afford food to such a multitude of slugs and
caterpillars, in the gardens near Rio are untouched.

During our stay at Brazil I made a large collection of
insects.  A few general observations on the comparative
importance of the different orders may be interesting to the
English entomologist.  The large and brilliantly coloured
Lepidoptera bespeak the zone they inhabit, far more plainly
than any other race of animals.  I allude only to the
butterflies; for the moths, contrary to what might have been
expected from the rankness of the vegetation, certainly
appeared in much fewer numbers than in our own temperate
regions.  I was much surprised at the habits of Papilio
feronia.  This butterfly is not uncommon, and generally
frequents the orange-groves.  Although a high flier, yet
it very frequently alights on the trunks of trees.  On these
occasions its head is invariably placed downwards; and its
wings are expanded in a horizontal plane, instead of being
folded vertically, as is commonly the case.  This is the only
butterfly which I have ever seen, that uses its legs for running.
Not being aware of this fact, the insect, more than once, as I
cautiously approached with my forceps, shuffled on one side
just as the instrument was on the point of closing, and thus
escaped.  But a far more singular fact is the power which
this species possesses of making a noise. [6] Several times when
a pair, probably male and female, were chasing each other
in an irregular course, they passed within a few yards of me;
and I distinctly heard a clicking noise, similar to that
produced by a toothed wheel passing under a spring catch.  The
noise was continued at short intervals, and could be
distinguished at about twenty yards' distance: I am certain
there is no error in the observation.

I was disappointed in the general aspect of the Coleoptera.
The number of minute and obscurely coloured beetles
is exceedingly great. [7] The cabinets of Europe can, as yet,
boast only of the larger species from tropical climates.  It
is sufficient to disturb the composure of an entomologist's
mind, to look forward to the future dimensions of a complete
catalogue.  The carnivorous beetles, or Carabidae, appear
in extremely few numbers within the tropics: this is
the more remarkable when compared to the case of the
carnivorous quadrupeds, which are so abundant in hot
countries.  I was struck with this observation both on entering
Brazil, and when I saw the many elegant and active forms
of the Harpalidae re-appearing on the temperate plains of
La Plata.  Do the very numerous spiders and rapacious
Hymenoptera supply the place of the carnivorous beetles?
The carrion-feeders and Brachelytra are very uncommon;
on the other hand, the Rhyncophora and Chrysomelidae, all
of which depend on the vegetable world for subsistence, are
present in astonishing numbers.  I do not here refer to the
number of different species, but to that of the individual
insects; for on this it is that the most striking character in
the entomology of different countries depends.  The orders
Orthoptera and Hemiptera are particularly numerous; as
likewise is the stinging division of the Hymenoptera the bees,
perhaps, being excepted.  A person, on first entering a tropical
forest, is astonished at the labours of the ants: well-beaten
paths branch off in every direction, on which an army
of never-failing foragers may be seen, some going forth, and
others returning, burdened with pieces of green leaf, often
larger than their own bodies.

A small dark-coloured ant sometimes migrates in countless
numbers.  One day, at Bahia, my attention was drawn
by observing many spiders, cockroaches, and other insects,
and some lizards, rushing in the greatest agitation across
a bare piece of ground.  A little way behind, every stalk and
leaf was blackened by a small ant.  The swarm having
crossed the bare space, divided itself, and descended an old
wall.  By this means many insects were fairly enclosed; and
the efforts which the poor little creatures made to extricate
themselves from such a death were wonderful.  When the
ants came to the road they changed their course, and in
narrow files reascended the wall.  Having placed a small
stone so as to intercept one of the lines, the whole body
attacked it, and then immediately retired.  Shortly afterwards
another body came to the charge, and again having failed
to make any impression, this line of march was entirely
given up.  By going an inch round, the file might have
avoided the stone, and this doubtless would have happened,
if it had been originally there: but having been attacked, the
lion-hearted little warriors scorned the idea of yielding.

Certain wasp-like insects, which construct in the corners
of the verandahs clay cells for their larvae, are very numerous
in the neighbourhood of Rio.  These cells they stuff full
of half-dead spiders and caterpillars, which they seem
wonderfully to know how to sting to that degree as to leave
them paralysed but alive, until their eggs are hatched; and
the larvae feed on the horrid mass of powerless, half-killed
victims — a sight which has been described by an enthusiastic
naturalist [8] as curious and pleasing!  I was much interested
one day by watching a deadly contest between a Pepsis and
a large spider of the genus Lycosa.  The wasp made a sudden
dash at its prey, and then flew away: the spider was evidently
wounded, for, trying to escape, it rolled down a little
slope, but had still strength sufficient to crawl into a thick
tuft of grass.  The wasp soon returned, and seemed surprised
at not immediately finding its victim.  It then commenced
as regular a hunt as ever hound did after fox;
making short semicircular casts, and all the time rapidly vibrating
its wings and antennae.  The spider, though well
concealed, was soon discovered, and the wasp, evidently still
afraid of its adversary's jaws, after much manoeuvring, inflicted
two stings on the under side of its thorax.  At last,
carefully examining with its antennae the now motionless
spider, it proceeded to drag away the body.  But I stopped
both tyrant and prey. [9]

The number of spiders, in proportion to other insects, is
here compared with England very much larger; perhaps
more so than with any other division of the articulate animals.
The variety of species among the jumping spiders
appears almost infinite.  The genus, or rather family, of
Epeira, is here characterized by many singular forms; some
species have pointed coriaceous shells, others enlarged and
spiny tibiae.  Every path in the forest is barricaded with the
strong yellow web of a species, belonging to the same division
with the Epeira clavipes of Fabricius, which was formerly
said by Sloane to make, in the West Indies, webs so
strong as to catch birds.  A small and pretty kind of spider,
with very long fore-legs, and which appears to belong to an
undescribed genus, lives as a parasite on almost every one
of these webs.  I suppose it is too insignificant to be noticed
by the great Epeira, and is therefore allowed to prey on the
minute insects, which, adhering to the lines, would otherwise
be wasted.  When frightened, this little spider either
feigns death by extending its front legs, or suddenly drops
from the web.  A large Epeira of the same division with
Epeira tuberculata and conica is extremely common, especially
in dry situations.  Its web, which is generally placed
among the great leaves of the common agave, is sometimes
strengthened near the centre by a pair or even four zigzag
ribbons, which connect two adjoining rays.  When any large
insect, as a grasshopper or wasp, is caught, the spider, by
a dexterous movement, makes it revolve very rapidly, and at
the same time emitting a band of threads from its spinners,
soon envelops its prey in a case like the cocoon of a silkworm.
The spider now examines the powerless victim, and
gives the fatal bite on the hinder part of its thorax; then
retreating, patiently waits till the poison has taken effect.
The virulence of this poison may be judged of from the fact
that in half a minute I opened the mesh, and found a large
wasp quite lifeless.  This Epeira always stands with its head
downwards near the centre of the web.  When disturbed, it
acts differently according to circumstances: if there is a
thicket below, it suddenly falls down; and I have distinctly
seen the thread from the spinners lengthened by the animal
while yet stationary, as preparatory to its fall.  If the ground
is clear beneath, the Epeira seldom falls, but moves quickly
through a central passage from one to the other side.  When
still further disturbed, it practises a most curious manoeuvre:
standing in the middle, it violently jerks the web, which it
attached to elastic twigs, till at last the whole acquires such
a rapid vibratory movement, that even the outline of the
spider's body becomes indistinct.

It is well known that most of the British spiders, when
a large insect is caught in their webs, endeavour to cut the
lines and liberate their prey, to save their nets from being
entirely spoiled.  I once, however, saw in a hot-house in
Shropshire a large female wasp caught in the irregular web
of a quite small spider; and this spider, instead of cutting
the web, most perseveringly continued to entangle the body,
and especially the wings, of its prey.  The wasp at first aimed
in vain repeated thrusts with its sting at its little antagonist.
Pitying the wasp, after allowing it to struggle for more than
an hour, I killed it and put it back into the web.  The spider
soon returned; and an hour afterwards I was much surprised to
find it with its jaws buried in the orifice, through which the
sting is protruded by the living wasp.  I drove the spider away
two or three times, but for the next twenty-four hours I
always found it again sucking at the same place.  The spider
became much distended by the juices of its prey, which was
many times larger than itself.

I may here just mention, that I found, near St. Fe Bajada,
many large black spiders, with ruby-coloured marks on their
backs, having gregarious habits.  The webs were placed
vertically, as is invariably the case with the genus Epeira:
they were separated from each other by a space of about
two feet, but were all attached to certain common lines,
which were of great length, and extended to all parts of
the community.  In this manner the tops of some large bushes
were encompassed by the united nets.  Azara [10] has described
a gregarious spider in Paraguay, which Walckanaer thinks
must be a Theridion, but probably it is an Epeira, and
perhaps even the same species with mine.  I cannot, however,
recollect seeing a central nest as large as a hat, in which,
during autumn, when the spiders die, Azara says the eggs are
deposited.  As all the spiders which I saw were of the same
size, they must have been nearly of the same age.  This
gregarious habit, in so typical a genus as Epeira, among
insects, which are so bloodthirsty and solitary that even
the two sexes attack each other, is a very singular fact.

In a lofty valley of the Cordillera, near Mendoza, I found
another spider with a singularly-formed web.  Strong lines
radiated in a vertical plane from a common centre, where the
insect had its station; but only two of the rays were connected
by a symmetrical mesh-work; so that the net, instead of being,
as is generally the case, circular, consisted of a wedge-shaped
segment.  All the webs were similarly constructed.

[1] Venda, the Portuguese name for an inn.

[2] Annales des Sciences Naturelles for 1833.

[3] I have described and named these species in the Annals of
Nat. Hist., vol. xiv. p. 241.

[4] I am greatly indebted to Mr. Waterhouse for his kindness
in naming for me this and many other insects, and giving me
much valuable assistance.

[5] Kirby's Entomology, vol. ii. p. 317.

[6] Mr. Doubleday has lately described (before the Entomological
Society, March 3rd, 1845) a peculiar structure in the wings
of this butterfly, which seems to be the means of its making
its noise.  He says, "It is remarkable for having a sort of
drum at the base of the fore wings, between the costal nervure
and the subcostal.  These two nervures, moreover, have a peculiar
screw-like diaphragm or vessel in the interior." I find in
Langsdorff's travels (in the years 1803-7, p. 74) it is said,
that in the island of St. Catherine's on the coast of Brazil,
a butterfly called Februa Hoffmanseggi, makes a noise, when
flying away, like a rattle.

[7] I may mention, as a common instance of one day's (June 23rd)
collecting, when I was not attending particularly to the
Coleoptera, that I caught sixty-eight species of that order.
Among these, there were only two of the Carabidae, four
Brachelytra, fifteen Rhyncophora, and fourteen of the
Chrysomelidae.  Thirty-seven species of Arachnidae, which I
brought home, will be sufficient to prove that I was not
paying overmuch attention to the generally favoured order
of Coleoptera.

[8] In a MS. in the British Museum by Mr. Abbott, who made
his observations in Georgia; see Mr. A. White's paper in the
"Annals of Nat. Hist.," vol. vii. p. 472. Lieut. Hutton has
described a sphex with similar habits in India, in the "Journal
of the Asiatic Society," vol. i. p. 555.

[9] Don Felix Azara (vol. i. p. 175), mentioning a hymenopterous
insect, probably of the same genus, says he saw it dragging
a dead spider through tall grass, in a straight line to its
nest, which was one hundred and sixty-three paces distant.  He
adds that the wasp, in order to find the road, every now and
then made "demi-tours d'environ trois palmes."

[10] Azara's Voyage, vol. i. p. 213



CHAPTER III

MALDONADO

Monte Video — Excursion to R. Polanco — Lazo and Bolas —
Partridges — Absence of Trees — Deer — Capybara, or River
Hog — Tucutuco — Molothrus, cuckoo-like habits — Tyrant-
flycatcher — Mocking-bird — Carrion Hawks — Tubes formed
by Lightning — House struck.


July 5th, 1832 — In the morning we got under way, and stood
out of the splendid harbour of Rio de Janeiro.  In our passage
to the Plata, we saw nothing particular, excepting on one day
a great shoal of porpoises, many hundreds in number.  The whole
sea was in places furrowed by them; and a most extraordinary
spectacle was presented, as hundreds, proceeding together by
jumps, in which their whole bodies were exposed, thus cut the
water.  When the ship was running nine knots an hour, these
animals could cross and recross the bows with the greatest of
ease, and then dash away right ahead.  As soon as we entered
the estuary of the Plata, the weather was very unsettled.  One
dark night we were surrounded by numerous seals and penguins,
which made such strange noises, that the officer on watch
reported he could hear the cattle bellowing on shore.  On a
second night we witnessed a splendid scene of natural fireworks;
the mast-head and yard-arm-ends shone with St. Elmo's light;
and the form of the vane could almost be traced, as if it had
been rubbed with phosphorus.  The sea was so highly luminous,
that the tracks of the penguins were marked by a fiery wake,
and the darkness of the sky was momentarily illuminated by
the most vivid lightning.

When within the mouth of the river, I was interested by
observing how slowly the waters of the sea and river mixed.
The latter, muddy and discoloured, from its less specific
gravity, floated on the surface of the salt water.  This was
curiously exhibited in the wake of the vessel, where a line
of blue water was seen mingling in little eddies, with the
adjoining fluid.

July 26th. — We anchored at Monte Video.  The Beagle
was employed in surveying the extreme southern and eastern
coasts of America, south of the Plata, during the two succeeding
years.  To prevent useless repetitions, I will extract
those parts of my journal which refer to the same districts
without always attending to the order in which we visited
them.

MALDONADO is situated on the northern bank of the Plata,
and not very far from the mouth of the estuary.  It is a
most quiet, forlorn, little town; built, as is universally the
case in these countries, with the streets running at right
angles to each other, and having in the middle a large plaza
or square, which, from its size, renders the scantiness of the
population more evident.  It possesses scarcely any trade;
the exports being confined to a few hides and living cattle.
The inhabitants are chiefly landowners, together with a few
shopkeepers and the necessary tradesmen, such as blacksmiths
and carpenters, who do nearly all the business for a
circuit of fifty miles round.  The town is separated from the
river by a band of sand-hillocks, about a mile broad: it is
surrounded, on all other sides, by an open slightly-undulating
country, covered by one uniform layer of fine green turf,
on which countless herds of cattle, sheep, and horses graze.
There is very little land cultivated even close to the town.
A few hedges, made of cacti and agave, mark out where
some wheat or Indian corn has been planted.  The features
of the country are very similar along the whole northern
bank of the Plata.  The only difference is, that here the
granitic hills are a little bolder.  The scenery is very
uninteresting; there is scarcely a house, an enclosed piece of
ground, or even a tree, to give it an air of cheerfulness
Yet, after being imprisoned for some time in a ship, there is
a charm in the unconfined feeling of walking over boundless
plains of turf.  Moreover, if your view is limited to a small
space, many objects possess beauty.  Some of the smaller
birds are brilliantly coloured; and the bright green sward,
browsed short by the cattle, is ornamented by dwarf flowers,
among which a plant, looking like the daisy, claimed the
place of an old friend.  What would a florist say to whole
tracts, so thickly covered by the Verbena melindres, as, even
at a distance, to appear of the most gaudy scarlet?

I stayed ten weeks at Maldonado, in which time a nearly
perfect collection of the animals, birds, and reptiles, was
procured.  Before making any observations respecting them,
I will give an account of a little excursion I made as far
as the river Polanco, which is about seventy miles distant,
in a northerly direction.  I may mention, as a proof how
cheap everything is in this country, that I paid only two
dollars a day, or eight shillings, for two men, together with
a troop of about a dozen riding-horses.  My companions
were well armed with pistols and sabres; a precaution which
I thought rather unnecessary but the first piece of news
we heard was, that, the day before, a traveller from Monte
Video had been found dead on the road, with his throat
cut.  This happened close to a cross, the record of a former
murder.

On the first night we slept at a retired little country-house;
and there I soon found out that I possessed two or
three articles, especially a pocket compass, which created
unbounded astonishment.  In every house I was asked to
show the compass, and by its aid, together with a map, to
point out the direction of various places.  It excited the
liveliest admiration that I, a perfect stranger, should know
the road (for direction and road are synonymous in this open
country) to places where I had never been.  At one house
a young woman, who was ill in bed, sent to entreat me to
come and show her the compass.  If their surprise was great,
mine was greater, to find such ignorance among people who
possessed their thousands of cattle, and "estancias" of great
extent.  It can only be accounted for by the circumstance
that this retired part of the country is seldom visited by
foreigners.  I was asked whether the earth or sun moved;
whether it was hotter or colder to the north; where Spain
was, and many other such questions.  The greater number of
the inhabitants had an indistinct idea that England, London,
and North America, were different names for the same
place; but the better informed well knew that London and
North America were separate countries close together, and
that England was a large town in London!  I carried with
me some promethean matches, which I ignited by biting; it
was thought so wonderful that a man should strike fire with
his teeth, that it was usual to collect the whole family to
see it: I was once offered a dollar for a single one.  Washing
my face in the morning caused much speculation at the village
of Las Minas; a superior tradesman closely cross-questioned
me about so singular a practice; and likewise why on
board we wore our beards; for he had heard from my guide
that we did so.  He eyed me with much suspicion; perhaps
he had heard of ablutions in the Mahomedan religion, and
knowing me to be a heretick, probably he came to the conclusion
that all hereticks were Turks.  It is the general custom
in this country to ask for a night's lodging at the first
convenient house.  The astonishment at the compass, and
my other feats of jugglery, was to a certain degree
advantageous, as with that, and the long stories my guides
told of my breaking stones, knowing venomous from harmless
snakes, collecting insects, etc., I repaid them for their
hospitality.  I am writing as if I had been among the inhabitants
of central Africa: Banda Oriental would not be flattered by
the comparison; but such were my feelings at the time.

The next day we rode to the village of Las Minas.  The
country was rather more hilly, but otherwise continued the
same; an inhabitant of the Pampas no doubt would have
considered it as truly Alpine.  The country is so thinly
inhabited, that during the whole day we scarcely met a single
person.  Las Minas is much smaller even than Maldonado.
It is seated on a little plain, and is surrounded by low rocky
mountains.  It is of the usual symmetrical form, and with
its whitewashed church standing in the centre, had rather
a pretty appearance.  The outskirting houses rose out of the
plain like isolated beings, without the accompaniment of
gardens or courtyards.  This is generally the case in the
country, and all the houses have, in consequence an
uncomfortable aspect.  At night we stopped at a pulperia,
or drinking-shop.  During the evening a great number of Gauchos
came in to drink spirits and smoke cigars: their appearance
is very striking; they are generally tall and handsome, but
with a proud and dissolute expression of countenance.  They
frequently wear their moustaches and long black hair curling
down their backs.  With their brightly coloured garments,
great spurs clanking about their heels, and knives
stuck as daggers (and often so used) at their waists, they
look a very different race of men from what might be expected
from their name of Gauchos, or simple countrymen.
Their politeness is excessive; they never drink their spirits
without expecting you to taste it; but whilst making their
exceedingly graceful bow, they seem quite as ready, if occasion
offered, to cut your throat.

On the third day we pursued rather an irregular course,
as I was employed in examining some beds of marble.  On
the fine plains of turf we saw many ostriches (Struthio
rhea).  Some of the flocks contained as many as twenty or
thirty birds.  These, when standing on any little eminence,
and seen against the clear sky, presented a very noble
appearance.  I never met with such tame ostriches in any other
part of the country: it was easy to gallop up within a short
distance of them; but then, expanding their wings, they
made all sail right before the wind, and soon left the horse
astern.

At night we came to the house of Don Juan Fuentes, a
rich landed proprietor, but not personally known to either
of my companions.  On approaching the house of a stranger,
it is usual to follow several little points of etiquette: riding
up slowly to the door, the salutation of Ave Maria is given,
and until somebody comes out and asks you to alight, it is
not customary even to get off your horse: the formal answer
of the owner is, "sin pecado concebida" — that is, conceived
without sin.  Having entered the house, some general conversation
is kept up for a few minutes, till permission is
asked to pass the night there.  This is granted as a matter
of course.  The stranger then takes his meals with the family,
and a room is assigned him, where with the horsecloths
belonging to his recado (or saddle of the Pampas) he makes
his bed.  It is curious how similar circumstances produce
such similar results in manners.  At the Cape of Good Hope
the same hospitality, and very nearly the same points of
etiquette, are universally observed.  The difference, however,
between the character of the Spaniard and that of the Dutch
boer is shown, by the former never asking his guest a single
question beyond the strictest rule of politeness, whilst the
honest Dutchman demands where he has been, where he is
going, what is his business, and even how many brothers
sisters, or children he may happen to have.

Shortly after our arrival at Don Juan's, one of the largest
herds of cattle was driven in towards the house, and three
beasts were picked out to be slaughtered for the supply of
the establishment.  These half-wild cattle are very active;
and knowing full well the fatal lazo, they led the horses a
long and laborious chase.  After witnessing the rude wealth
displayed in the number of cattle, men, and horses, Don
Juan's miserable house was quite curious.  The floor consisted
of hardened mud, and the windows were without
glass; the sitting-room boasted only of a few of the roughest
chairs and stools, with a couple of tables.  The supper, although
several strangers were present, consisted of two huge
piles, one of roast beef, the other of boiled, with some pieces
of pumpkin: besides this latter there was no other vegetable,
and not even a morsel of bread.  For drinking, a large
earthenware jug of water served the whole party.  Yet this
man was the owner of several square miles of land, of which
nearly every acre would produce corn, and, with a little
trouble, all the common vegetables.  The evening was spent in
smoking, with a little impromptu singing, accompanied by
the guitar.  The signoritas all sat together in one corner
of the room, and did not sup with the men.

So many works have been written about these countries,
that it is almost superfluous to describe either the lazo or
the bolas.  The lazo consists of a very strong, but thin,
well-plaited rope, made of raw hide.  One end is attached to the
broad surcingle, which fastens together the complicated gear
of the recado, or saddle used in the Pampas; the other is
terminated by a small ring of iron or brass, by which a noose
can be formed.  The Gaucho, when he is going to use the
lazo, keeps a small coil in his bridle-hand, and in the other
holds the running noose which is made very large, generally
having a diameter of about eight feet.  This he whirls
round his head, and by the dexterous movement of his wrist
keeps the noose open; then, throwing it, he causes it to fall
on any particular spot he chooses.  The lazo, when not used,
is tied up in a small coil to the after part of the recado.
The bolas, or balls, are of two kinds: the simplest, which
is chiefly used for catching ostriches, consists of two round
stones, covered with leather, and united by a thin plaited
thong, about eight feet long.  The other kind differs only
in having three balls united by the thongs to a common
centre.  The Gaucho holds the smallest of the three in his
hand, and whirls the other two round and round his head;
then, taking aim, sends them like chain shot revolving
through the air.  The balls no sooner strike any object, than,
winding round it, they cross each other, and become firmly
hitched.  The size and weight of the balls vary, according
to the purpose for which they are made: when of stone,
although not larger than an apple, they are sent with such
force as sometimes to break the leg even of a horse.  I have
seen the balls made of wood, and as large as a turnip, for
the sake of catching these animals without injuring them.
The balls are sometimes made of iron, and these can be
hurled to the greatest distance.  The main difficulty in using
either lazo or bolas is to ride so well as to be able at full
speed, and while suddenly turning about, to whirl them so
steadily round the head, as to take aim: on foot any person
would soon learn the art.  One day, as I was amusing myself
by galloping and whirling the balls round my head, by accident
the free one struck a bush, and its revolving motion
being thus destroyed, it immediately fell to the ground, and,
like magic, caught one hind leg of my horse; the other ball
was then jerked out of my hand, and the horse fairly secured.
Luckily he was an old practised animal, and knew
what it meant; otherwise he would probably have kicked
till he had thrown himself down.  The Gauchos roared with
laughter; they cried out that they had seen every sort of
animal caught, but had never before seen a man caught by
himself.

During the two succeeding days, I reached the furthest
point which I was anxious to examine.  The country wore
the same aspect, till at last the fine green turf became more
wearisome than a dusty turnpike road.  We everywhere saw
great numbers of partridges (Nothura major).  These birds
do not go in coveys, nor do they conceal themselves like
the English kind.  It appears a very silly bird.  A man on
horseback by riding round and round in a circle, or rather
in a spire, so as to approach closer each time, may knock
on the head as many as he pleases.  The more common
method is to catch them with a running noose, or little lazo,
made of the stem of an ostrich's feather, fastened to the
end of a long stick.  A boy on a quiet old horse will frequently
thus catch thirty or forty in a day.  In Arctic North
America [1] the Indians catch the Varying Hare by walking
spirally round and round it, when on its form: the middle
of the day is reckoned the best time, when the sun is high,
and the shadow of the hunter not very long.

On our return to Maldonado, we followed rather a different
line of road.  Near Pan de Azucar, a landmark well
known to all those who have sailed up the Plata, I stayed
a day at the house of a most hospitable old Spaniard.  Early
in the morning we ascended the Sierra de las Animas.  By
the aid of the rising sun the scenery was almost picturesque.
To the westward the view extended over an immense level
plain as far as the Mount, at Monte Video, and to the eastward,
over the mammillated country of Maldonado.  On
the summit of the mountain there were several small heaps
of stones, which evidently had lain there for many years.
My companion assured me that they were the work of the
Indians in the old time.  The heaps were similar, but on
a much smaller scale, to those so commonly found on the
mountains of Wales.  The desire to signalize any event, on
the highest point of the neighbouring land, seems an universal
passion with mankind.  At the present day, not a
single Indian, either civilized or wild, exists in this part
of the province; nor am I aware that the former inhabitants
have left behind them any more permanent records than
these insignificant piles on the summit of the Sierra de las
Animas.


The general, and almost entire absence of trees in Banda
Oriental is remarkable.  Some of the rocky hills are partly
covered by thickets, and on the banks of the larger streams,
especially to the north of Las Minas, willow-trees are not
uncommon.  Near the Arroyo Tapes I heard of a wood of
palms; and one of these trees, of considerable size, I saw
near the Pan de Azucar, in lat. 35 degs.  These, and the trees
planted by the Spaniards, offer the only exceptions to the
general scarcity of wood.  Among the introduced kinds may
be enumerated poplars, olives, peach, and other fruit trees:
the peaches succeed so well, that they afford the main supply
of firewood to the city of Buenos Ayres.  Extremely level
countries, such as the Pampas, seldom appear favourable to
the growth of trees.  This may possibly be attributed either
to the force of the winds, or the kind of drainage.  In the
nature of the land, however, around Maldonado, no such
reason is apparent; the rocky mountains afford protected
situations; enjoying various kinds of soil; streamlets of
water are common at the bottoms of nearly every valley;
and the clayey nature of the earth seems adapted to retain
moisture.  It has been inferred with much probability, that
the presence of woodland is generally determined [2] by the
annual amount of moisture; yet in this province abundant
and heavy rain falls during the winter; and the summer,
though dry, is not so in any excessive degree. [3] We see nearly
the whole of Australia covered by lofty trees, yet that country
possesses a far more arid climate.  Hence we must look
to some other and unknown cause.

Confining our view to South America, we should certainly
be tempted to believe that trees flourished only under a very
humid climate; for the limit of the forest-land follows, in a
most remarkable manner, that of the damp winds.  In the
southern part of the continent, where the western gales,
charged with moisture from the Pacific, prevail, every island
on the broken west coast, from lat. 38 degs. to the extreme
point of Tierra del Fuego, is densely covered by impenetrable
forests.  On the eastern side of the Cordillera, over the same
extent of latitude, where a blue sky and a fine climate prove
that the atmosphere has been deprived of its moisture by
passing over the mountains, the arid plains of Patagonia
support a most scanty vegetation.  In the more northern
parts of the continent, within the limits of the constant
south-eastern trade-wind, the eastern side is ornamented by
magnificent forests; whilst the western coast, from lat.
4 degs. S. to lat. 32 degs. S., may be described as a
desert; on this western coast, northward of lat. 4 degs.
S., where the trade-wind loses its regularity, and heavy
torrents of rain fall periodically, the shores of the
Pacific, so utterly desert in Peru, assume near Cape
Blanco the character of luxuriance so celebrated at
Guyaquil and Panama.  Hence in the southern and northern
parts of the continent, the forest and desert lands occupy
reversed positions with respect to the Cordillera, and these
positions are apparently determined by the direction of the
prevalent winds.  In the middle of the continent there is a
broad intermediate band, including central Chile and the
provinces of La Plata, where the rain-bringing winds have
not to pass over lofty mountains, and where the land is neither
a desert nor covered by forests.  But even the rule, if
confined to South America, of trees flourishing only in a
climate rendered humid by rain-bearing winds, has a strongly
marked exception in the case of the Falkland Islands.  These
islands, situated in the same latitude with Tierra del Fuego
and only between two and three hundred miles distant from
it, having a nearly similar climate, with a geological
formation almost identical, with favourable situations and the
same kind of peaty soil, yet can boast of few plants deserving
even the title of bushes; whilst in Tierra del Fuego it is
impossible to find an acre of land not covered by the densest
forest.  In this case, both the direction of the heavy gales
of wind and of the currents of the sea are favourable to
the transport of seeds from Tierra del Fuego, as is shown
by the canoes and trunks of trees drifted from that country,
and frequently thrown on the shores of the Western Falkland.
Hence perhaps it is, that there are many plants in
common to the two countries but with respect to the trees
of Tierra del Fuego, even attempts made to transplant them
have failed.

During our stay at Maldonado I collected several quadrupeds,
eighty kinds of birds, and many reptiles, including
nine species of snakes.  Of the indigenous mammalia, the
only one now left of any size, which is common, is the Cervus
campestris.  This deer is exceedingly abundant, often in
small herds, throughout the countries bordering the Plata
and in Northern Patagonia.  If a person crawling close along
the ground, slowly advances towards a herd, the deer frequently,
out of curiosity, approach to reconnoitre him.  I
have by this means, killed from one spot, three out of the
same herd.  Although so tame and inquisitive, yet when
approached on horseback, they are exceedingly wary.  In this
country nobody goes on foot, and the deer knows man as its
enemy only when he is mounted and armed with the bolas.
At Bahia Blanca, a recent establishment in Northern Patagonia,
I was surprised to find how little the deer cared for
the noise of a gun: one day I fired ten times from within
eighty yards at one animal; and it was much more startled
at the ball cutting up the ground than at the report of
the rifle.  My powder being exhausted, I was obliged to
get up (to my shame as a sportsman be it spoken, though
well able to kill birds on the wing) and halloo till the deer
ran away.

The most curious fact with respect to this animal, is the
overpoweringly strong and offensive odour which proceeds
from the buck.  It is quite indescribable: several times
whilst skinning the specimen which is now mounted at the
Zoological Museum, I was almost overcome by nausea.  I
tied up the skin in a silk pocket-handkerchief, and so carried
it home: this handkerchief, after being well washed, I
continually used, and it was of course as repeatedly washed;
yet every time, for a space of one year and seven months, when
first unfolded, I distinctly perceived the odour.  This appears
an astonishing instance of the permanence of some
matter, which nevertheless in its nature must be most subtile
and volatile.  Frequently, when passing at the distance of
half a mile to leeward of a herd, I have perceived the whole
air tainted with the effluvium.  I believe the smell from the
buck is most powerful at the period when its horns are perfect,
or free from the hairy skin.  When in this state the
meat is, of course, quite uneatable; but the Gauchos assert,
that if buried for some time in fresh earth, the taint is
removed.  I have somewhere read that the islanders in the
north of Scotland treat the rank carcasses of the fish-eating
birds in the same manner.

The order Rodentia is here very numerous in species:
of mice alone I obtained no less than eight kinds. [4] The
largest gnawing animal in the world, the Hydrochaerus capybara
(the water-hog), is here also common.  One which I
shot at Monte Video weighed ninety-eight pounds: its
length from the end of the snout to the stump-like tail, was
three feet two inches; and its girth three feet eight.  These
great Rodents occasionally frequent the islands in the mouth
of the Plata, where the water is quite salt, but are far more
abundant on the borders of fresh-water lakes and rivers.
Near Maldonado three or four generally live together.  In
the daytime they either lie among the aquatic plants, or
openly feed on the turf plain. [5] When viewed at a distance,
from their manner of walking and colour they resemble pigs:
but when seated on their haunches, and attentively watching
any object with one eye, they reassume the appearance
of their congeners, cavies and rabbits.  Both the front and
side view of their head has quite a ludicrous aspect, from
the great depth of their jaw.  These animals, at Maldonado,
were very tame; by cautiously walking, I approached within
three yards of four old ones.  This tameness may probably
be accounted for, by the Jaguar having been banished for
some years, and by the Gaucho not thinking it worth his
while to hunt them.  As I approached nearer and nearer
they frequently made their peculiar noise, which is a low
abrupt grunt, not having much actual sound, but rather arising
from the sudden expulsion of air: the only noise I know
at all like it, is the first hoarse bark of a large dog.  Having
watched the four from almost within arm's length (and they
me) for several minutes, they rushed into the water at full
gallop with the greatest impetuosity, and emitted at the
same time their bark.  After diving a short distance they
came again to the surface, but only just showed the upper
part of their heads.  When the female is swimming in the
water, and has young ones, they are said to sit on her back.
These animals are easily killed in numbers; but their skins
are of trifling value, and the meat is very indifferent.  On
the islands in the Rio Parana they are exceedingly abundant,
and afford the ordinary prey to the Jaguar.

The Tucutuco (Ctenomys Brasiliensis) is a curious small
animal, which may be briefly described as a Gnawer, with
the habits of a mole.  It is extremely numerous in some
parts of the country, but it is difficult to be procured, and
never, I believe, comes out of the ground.  It throws up at
the mouth of its burrows hillocks of earth like those of the
mole, but smaller.  Considerable tracts of country are so
completely undermined by these animals, that horses in passing
over, sink above their fetlocks.  The tucutucos appear,
to a certain degree, to be gregarious: the man who procured
the specimens for me had caught six together, and he
said this was a common occurrence.  They are nocturnal in
their habits; and their principal food is the roots of plants,
which are the object of their extensive and superficial burrows.
This animal is universally known by a very peculiar
noise which it makes when beneath the ground.  A person,
the first time he hears it, is much surprised; for it is not
easy to tell whence it comes, nor is it possible to guess what
kind of creature utters it.  The noise consists in a short, but
not rough, nasal grunt, which is monotonously repeated
about four times in quick succession: [6] the name Tucutuco is
given in imitation of the sound.  Where this animal is
abundant, it may be heard at all times of the day, and sometimes
directly beneath one's feet.  When kept in a room, the
tucutucos move both slowly and clumsily, which appears
owing to the outward action of their hind legs; and they are
quite incapable, from the socket of the thigh-bone not having
a certain ligament, of jumping even the smallest vertical
height.  They are very stupid in making any attempt to
escape; when angry or frightened they utter the tucutuco.
Of those I kept alive several, even the first day, became
quite tame, not attempting to bite or to run away; others
were a little wilder.

The man who caught them asserted that very many are
invariably found blind.  A specimen which I preserved in
spirits was in this state; Mr. Reid considers it to be the
effect of inflammation in the nictitating membrane.  When the
animal was alive I placed my finger within half an inch of
its head, and not the slightest notice was taken: it made its
way, however, about the room nearly as well as the others.
Considering the strictly subterranean habits of the tucutuco,
the blindness, though so common, cannot be a very serious
evil; yet it appears strange that any animal should possess
an organ frequently subject to be injured.  Lamarck would
have been delighted with this fact, had he known it, when
speculating [7] (probably with more truth than usual with him)
on the gradually acquired blindness of the Asphalax, a
Gnawer living under ground, and of the Proteus, a reptile
living in dark caverns filled with water; in both of which
animals the eye is in an almost rudimentary state, and is
covered by a tendinous membrane and skin.  In the common
mole the eye is extraordinarily small but perfect, though
many anatomists doubt whether it is connected with the true
optic nerve; its vision must certainly be imperfect, though
probably useful to the animal when it leaves its burrow.  In
the tucutuco, which I believe never comes to the surface of
the ground, the eye is rather larger, but often rendered blind
and useless, though without apparently causing any inconvenience
to the animal; no doubt Lamarck would have said
that the tucutuco is now passing into the state of the
Asphalax and Proteus.

Birds of many kinds are extremely abundant on the undulating,
grassy plains around Maldonado.  There are several
species of a family allied in structure and manners to our
Starling: one of these (Molothrus niger) is remarkable from
its habits.  Several may often be seen standing together on
tbe back of a cow or horse; and while perched on a hedge,
pluming themselves in the sun, they sometimes attempt to
sing, or rather to hiss; the noise being very peculiar,
resembling that of bubbles of air passing rapidly from a small
orifice under water, so as to produce an acute sound.  According
to Azara, this bird, like the cuckoo, deposits its eggs
in other birds' nests.  I was several times told by the country
people that there certainly is some bird having this
habit; and my assistant in collecting, who is a very accurate
person, found a nest of the sparrow of this country (Zonotrichia
matutina), with one egg in it larger than the others,
and of a different colour and shape.  In North America
there is another species of Molothrus (M. pecoris), which
has a similar cuckoo-like habit, and which is most closely
allied in every respect to the species from the Plata, even in
such trifling peculiarities as standing on the backs of cattle;
it differs only in being a little smaller, and in its plumage
and eggs being of a slightly different shade of colour.  This
close agreement in structure and habits, in representative
species coming from opposite quarters of a great continent,
always strikes one as interesting, though of common
occurrence.

Mr. Swainson has well remarked, [8] that with the exception
of the Molothrus pecoris, to which must be added the
M. niger, the cuckoos are the only birds which can be called
truly parasitical; namely, such as "fasten themselves, as it
were, on another living animal, whose animal heat brings
their young into life, whose food they live upon, and whose
death would cause theirs during the period of infancy." It
is remarkable that some of the species, but not all, both of
the Cuckoo and Molothrus, should agree in this one strange
habit of their parasitical propagation, whilst opposed to each
other in almost every other habit: the molothrus, like our
starling, is eminently sociable, and lives on the open plains
without art or disguise: the cuckoo, as every one knows,
is a singularly shy bird; it frequents the most retired thickets,
and feeds on fruit and caterpillars.  In structure also
these two genera are widely removed from each other.
Many theories, even phrenological theories, have been advanced
to explain the origin of the cuckoo laying its eggs in
other birds' nests.  M. Prevost alone, I think, has thrown
light by his observations [9] on this puzzle: he finds that the
female cuckoo, which, according to most observers, lays at
least from four to six eggs, must pair with the male each time
after laying only one or two eggs.  Now, if the cuckoo was
obliged to sit on her own eggs, she would either have to sit
on all together, and therefore leave those first laid so long,
that they probably would become addled; or she would have
to hatch separately each egg, or two eggs, as soon as laid:
but as the cuckoo stays a shorter time in this country than
any other migratory bird, she certainly would not have time
enough for the successive hatchings.  Hence we can perceive
in the fact of the cuckoo pairing several times, and laying
her eggs at intervals, the cause of her depositing her eggs
in other birds' nests, and leaving them to the care of
foster-parents.  I am strongly inclined to believe that this
view is correct, from having been independently led (as we
shall hereafter see) to an analogous conclusion with regard
to the South American ostrich, the females of which are
parasitical, if I may so express it, on each other; each
female laying several eggs in the nests of several other
females, and the male ostrich undertaking all the cares
of incubation, like the strange foster-parents with the
cuckoo.

I will mention only two other birds, which are very common,
and render themselves prominent from their habits.
The Saurophagus sulphuratus is typical of the great American
tribe of tyrant-flycatchers.  In its structure it closely
approaches the true shrikes, but in its habits may be compared
to many birds.  I have frequently observed it, hunting
a field, hovering over one spot like a hawk, and then proceeding
on to another.  When seen thus suspended in the air,
it might very readily at a short distance be mistaken for one
of the Rapacious order; its stoop, however, is very inferior
in force and rapidity to that of a hawk.  At other times
the Saurophagus haunts the neighbourhood of water, and
there, like a kingfisher, remaining stationary, it catches any
small fish which may come near the margin.  These birds are
not unfrequently kept either in cages or in courtyards, with
their wings cut.  They soon become tame, and are very
amusing from their cunning odd manners, which were
described to me as being similar to those of the common
magpie.  Their flight is undulatory, for the weight of the
head and bill appears too great for the body.  In the
evening the Saurophagus takes its stand on a bush, often
by the roadside, and continually repeats without a change
a shrill and rather agreeable cry, which somewhat resembles
articulate words: the Spaniards say it is like the words
"Bien te veo" (I see you well), and accordingly have given
it this name.

A mocking-bird (Mimus orpheus), called by the inhabitants
Calandria, is remarkable, from possessing a song far
superior to that of any other bird in the country: indeed, it
is nearly the only bird in South America which I have
observed to take its stand for the purpose of singing.  The
song may be compared to that of the Sedge warbler, but
is more powerful; some harsh notes and some very high
ones, being mingled with a pleasant warbling.  It is heard
only during the spring.  At other times its cry is harsh and
far from harmonious.  Near Maldonado these birds were
tame and bold; they constantly attended the country houses
in numbers, to pick the meat which was hung up on the posts
or walls: if any other small bird joined the feast, the
Calandria soon chased it away.  On the wide uninhabited plains
of Patagonia another closely allied species, O. Patagonica
of d'Orbigny, which frequents the valleys clothed with
spiny bushes, is a wilder bird, and has a slightly different
tone of voice.  It appears to me a curious circumstance, as
showing the fine shades of difference in habits, that judging
from this latter respect alone, when I first saw this second
species, I thought it was different from the Maldonado kind.
Having afterwards procured a specimen, and comparing the
two without particular care, they appeared so very similar,
that I changed my opinion; but now Mr. Gould says that they
are certainly distinct; a conclusion in conformity with the
trifling difference of habit, of which, of course, he was not
aware.

The number, tameness, and disgusting habits of the
carrion-feeding hawks of South America make them
pre-eminently striking to any one accustomed only to the birds
of Northern Europe.  In this list may be included four species
of the Caracara or Polyborus, the Turkey buzzard, the Gallinazo,
and the Condor.  The Caracaras are, from their
structure, placed among the eagles: we shall soon see how
ill they become so high a rank.  In their habits they well
supply the place of our carrion-crows, magpies, and ravens;
a tribe of birds widely distributed over the rest of the world,
but entirely absent in South America.  To begin with the
Polyborus Brasiliensis: this is a common bird, and has a wide
geographical range; it is most numerous on the grassy savannahs
of La Plata (where it goes by the name of Carrancha),
and is far from unfrequent throughout the sterile plains of
Patagonia.  In the desert between the rivers Negro and Colorado,
numbers constantly attend the line of road to devour
the carcasses of the exhausted animals which chance to
perish from fatigue and thirst.  Although thus common in
these dry and open countries, and likewise on the arid shores
of the Pacific, it is nevertheless found inhabiting the damp
impervious forests of West Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.
The Carranchas, together with the Chimango, constantly
attend in numbers the estancias and slaughtering-houses.  If
an animal dies on the plain the Gallinazo commences the
feast, and then the two species of Polyborus pick the bones
clean.  These birds, although thus commonly feeding together,
are far from being friends.  When the Carrancha is
quietly seated on the branch of a tree or on the ground, the
Chimango often continues for a long time flying backwards
and forwards, up and down, in a semicircle, trying each time
at the bottom of the curve to strike its larger relative.  The
Carrancha takes little notice, except by bobbing its head.
Although the Carranchas frequently assemble in numbers,
they are not gregarious; for in desert places they may be
seen solitary, or more commonly by pairs.

The Carranchas are said to be very crafty, and to steal
great numbers of eggs.  They attempt, also, together with
the Chimango, to pick off the scabs from the sore backs of
horses and mules.  The poor animal, on the one hand, with
its ears down and its back arched; and, on the other, the
hovering bird, eyeing at the distance of a yard the disgusting
morsel, form a picture, which has been described by Captain
Head with his own peculiar spirit and accuracy.  These
false eagles most rarely kill any living bird or animal; and
their vulture-like, necrophagous habits are very evident to
any one who has fallen asleep on the desolate plains of
Patagonia, for when he wakes, he will see, on each surrounding
hillock, one of these birds patiently watching him with an
evil eye: it is a feature in the landscape of these countries,
which will be recognised by every one who has wandered
over them.  If a party of men go out hunting with dogs
and horses, they will be accompanied, during the day, by
several of these attendants.  After feeding, the uncovered
craw protrudes; at such times, and indeed generally, the
Carrancha is an inactive, tame, and cowardly bird.  Its
flight is heavy and slow, like that of an English rook.  It
seldom soars; but I have twice seen one at a great height
gliding through the air with much ease.  It runs (in
contradistinction to hopping), but not quite so quickly as some
of its congeners.  At times the Carrancha is noisy, but is
not generally so: its cry is loud, very harsh and peculiar, and
may be likened to the sound of the Spanish guttural g, followed
by a rough double r r; when uttering this cry it
elevates its head higher and higher, till at last, with its
beak wide open, the crown almost touches the lower part of
the back.  This fact, which has been doubted, is quite true;
I have seen them several times with their heads backwards
in a completely inverted position.  To these observations I
may add, on the high authority of Azara, that the Carrancha
feeds on worms, shells, slugs, grasshoppers, and frogs; that
it destroys young lambs by tearing the umbilical cord; and
that it pursues the Gallinazo, till that bird is compelled to
vomit up the carrion it may have recently gorged.  Lastly,
Azara states that several Carranchas, five or six together,
will unite in chase of large birds, even such as herons.  All
these facts show that it is a bird of very versatile habits and
considerable ingenuity.

The Polyborus Chimango is considerably smaller than the
last species.  It is truly omnivorous, and will eat even bread;
and I was assured that it materially injures the potato crops
in Chiloe, by stocking up the roots when first planted.  Of
all the carrion-feeders it is generally the last which leaves
the skeleton of a dead animal, and may often be seen within
the ribs of a cow or horse, like a bird in a cage.  Another
species is the Polyborus Novae Zelandiae, which is exceedingly
common in the Falkland Islands.  These birds in many
respects resemble in their habits the Carranchas.  They live
on the flesh of dead animals and on marine productions; and
on the Ramirez rocks their whole sustenance must depend
on the sea.  They are extraordinarily tame and fearless, and
haunt the neighborhood of houses for offal.  If a hunting
party kills an animal, a number soon collect and patiently
await, standing on the ground on all sides.  After eating,
their uncovered craws are largely protruded, giving them a
disgusting appearance.  They readily attack wounded birds:
a cormorant in this state having taken to the shore, was
immediately seized on by several, and its death hastened
by their blows.  The Beagle was at the Falklands only
during the summer, but the officers of the Adventure, who
were there in the winter, mention many extraordinary instances
of the boldness and rapacity of these birds.  They
actually pounced on a dog that was lying fast asleep close
by one of the party; and the sportsmen had difficulty in
preventing the wounded geese from being seized before their
eyes.  It is said that several together (in this respect
resembling the Carranchas) wait at the mouth of a rabbit-hole,
and together seize on the animal when it comes out.  They
were constantly flying on board the vessel when in the harbour;
and it was necessary to keep a good look out to prevent
the leather being torn from the rigging, and the meat or
game from the stern.  These birds are very mischievous and
inquisitive; they will pick up almost anything from the
ground; a large black glazed hat was carried nearly a mile,
as was a pair of the heavy balls used in catching cattle.  Mr.
Usborne experienced during the survey a more severe loss,
in their stealing a small Kater's compass in a red morocco
leather case, which was never recovered.  These birds are,
moreover, quarrelsome and very passionate; tearing up the
grass with their bills from rage.  They are not truly gregarious;
they do not soar, and their flight is heavy and clumsy;
on the ground they run extremely fast, very much like
pheasants.  They are noisy, uttering several harsh cries, one
of which is like that of the English rook, hence the sealers
always call them rooks.  It is a curious circumstance that,
when crying out, they throw their heads upwards and backwards,
after the same manner as the Carrancha.  They build
in the rocky cliffs of the sea-coast, but only on the small
adjoining islets, and not on the two main islands: this is a
singular precaution in so tame and fearless a bird.  The sealers
say that the flesh of these birds, when cooked, is quite
white, and very good eating; but bold must the man be who
attempts such a meal.

We have now only to mention the turkey-buzzard (Vultur
aura), and the Gallinazo.  The former is found wherever
the country is moderately damp, from Cape Horn to North
America.  Differently from the Polyborus Brasiliensis and
Chimango, it has found its way to the Falkland Islands.  The
turkey-buzzard is a solitary bird, or at most goes in pairs.  It
may at once be recognised from a long distance, by its lofty,
soaring, and most elegant flight.  lt is well known to be a
true carrion-feeder.  On the west coast of Patagonia, among
the thickly-wooded islets and broken land, it lives exclusively
on what the sea throws up, and on the carcasses of dead
seals.  Wherever these animals are congregated on the rocks,
there the vultures may be seen.  The Gallinazo (Cathartes
atratus) has a different range from the last species, as it
never occurs southward of lat. 41 degs.  Azara states that
there exists a tradition that these birds, at the time of the
conquest, were not found near Monte Video, but that they
subsequently followed the inhabitants from more northern
districts.At the present day they are numerous in the valley
of the Colorado, which is three hundred miles due south of Monte
Video.  It seems probable that this additional migration has
happened since the time of Azara.  The Gallinazo generally
prefers a humid climate, or rather the neighbourhood of
fresh water; hence it is extremely abundant in Brazil and
La Plata, while it is never found on the desert and arid
plains of Northern Patagonia, excepting near some stream.
These birds frequent the whole Pampas to the foot of the
Cordillera, but I never saw or heard of one in Chile; in Peru
they are preserved as scavengers.  These vultures certainly
may be called gregarious, for they seem to have pleasure in
society, and are not solely brought together by the attraction
of a common prey.  On a fine day a flock may often be
observed at a great height, each bird wheeling round and
round without closing its wings, in the most graceful
evolutions.  This is clearly performed for the mere pleasure of
the exercise, or perhaps is connected with their matrimonial
alliances.

I have now mentioned all the carrion-feeders, excepting
the condor, an account of which will be more appropriately
introduced when we visit a country more congenial to its
habits than the plains of La Plata.


In a broad band of sand-hillocks which separate the
Laguna del Potrero from the shores of the Plata, at the
distance of a few miles from Maldonado, I found a group of
those vitrified, siliceous tubes, which are formed by lightning
entering loose sand.  These tubes resemble in every particular
those from Drigg in Cumberland, described in the
Geological Transactions. [10] The sand-hillocks of Maldonado
not being protected by vegetation, are constantly changing
their position.  From this cause the tubes projected above
the surface, and numerous fragments lying near, showed
that they had formerly been buried to a greater depth.  Four
sets entered the sand perpendicularly: by working with
my hands I traced one of them two feet deep; and some
fragments which evidently had belonged to the same tube,
when added to the other part, measured five feet three
inches.  The diameter of the whole tube was nearly equal,
and therefore we must suppose that originally it extended to
a much greater depth.  These dimensions are however small,
compared to those of the tubes from Drigg, one of which
was traced to a depth of not less than thirty feet.

The internal surface is completely vitrified, glossy, and
smooth.  A small fragment examined under the microscope
appeared, from the number of minute entangled air or perhaps
steam bubbles, like an assay fused before the blowpipe.
The sand is entirely, or in greater part, siliceous; but some
points are of a black colour, and from their glossy surface
possess a metallic lustre.  The thickness of the wall of the
tube varies from a thirtieth to a twentieth of an inch, and
occasionally even equals a tenth.  On the outside the grains
of sand are rounded, and have a slightly glazed appearance:
I could not distinguish any signs of crystallization.  In a
similar manner to that described in the Geological Transactions,
the tubes are generally compressed, and have deep
longitudinal furrows, so as closely to resemble a shrivelled
vegetable stalk, or the bark of the elm or cork tree.  Their
circumference is about two inches, but in some fragments,
which are cylindrical and without any furrows, it is as much
as four inches.  The compression from the surrounding loose
sand, acting while the tube was still softened from the
effects of the intense heat, has evidently caused the creases
or furrows.  Judging from the uncompressed fragments, the
measure or bore of the lightning (if such a term may be used)
must have been about one inch and a quarter.  At Paris, M.
Hachette and M. Beudant [11] succeeded in making tubes, in
most respects similar to these fulgurites, by passing very
strong shocks of galvanism through finely-powdered glass:
when salt was added, so as to increase its fusibility, the tubes
were larger in every dimension, They failed both with
powdered felspar and quartz.  One tube, formed with
pounded glass, was very nearly an inch long, namely .982,
and had an internal diameter of .019 of an inch.  When we
hear that the strongest battery in Paris was used, and that
its power on a substance of such easy fusibility as glass was
to form tubes so diminutive, we must feel greatly astonished
at the force of a shock of lightning, which, striking the sand
in several places, has formed cylinders, in one instance of at
least thirty feet long, and having an internal bore, where not
compressed, of full an inch and a half; and this in a material
so extraordinarily refractory as quartz!

The tubes, as I have already remarked, enter the sand
nearly in a vertical direction.  One, however, which was less
regular than the others, deviated from a right line, at the
most considerable bend, to the amount of thirty-three degrees.
From this same tube, two small branches, about a
foot apart, were sent off; one pointed downwards, and the
other upwards.  This latter case is remarkable, as the electric
fluid must have turned back at the acute angle of 26 degs.,
to the line of its main course.  Besides the four tubes which
I found vertical, and traced beneath the surface, there were
several other groups of fragments, the original sites of which
without doubt were near.  All occurred in a level area of
shifting sand, sixty yards by twenty, situated among some
high sand-hillocks, and at the distance of about half a mile
from a chain of hills four or five hundred feet in height.  The
most remarkable circumstance, as it appears to me, in this
case as well as in that of Drigg, and in one described by
M. Ribbentrop in Germany, is the number of tubes found
within such limited spaces.  At Drigg, within an area of
fifteen yards, three were observed, and the same number
occurred in Germany.  In the case which I have described,
certainly more than four existed within the space of the
sixty by twenty yards.  As it does not appear probable that
the tubes are produced by successive distinct shocks, we must
believe that the lightning, shortly before entering the ground,
divides itself into separate branches.

The neighbourhood of the Rio Plata seems peculiarly subject
to electric phenomena.  In the year 1793, [12] one of the
most destructive thunderstorms perhaps on record happened
at Buenos Ayres: thirty-seven places within the city were
struck by lightning, and nineteen people killed.  From facts
stated in several books of travels, I am inclined to suspect
that thunderstorms are very common near the mouths of
great rivers.  Is it not possible that the mixture of large
bodies of fresh and salt water may disturb the electrical
equilibrium?  Even during our occasional visits to this part
of South America, we heard of a ship, two churches, and a
house having been struck.  Both the church and the house
I saw shortly afterwards: the house belonged to Mr. Hood,
the consul-general at Monte Video.  Some of the effects were
curious: the paper, for nearly a foot on each side of the line
where the bell-wires had run, was blackened.  The metal had
been fused, and although the room was about fifteen feet
high, the globules, dropping on the chairs and furniture, had
drilled in them a chain of minute holes.  A part of the wall
was shattered, as if by gunpowder, and the fragments had
been blown off with force sufficient to dent the wall on the
opposite side of the room.  The frame of a looking-glass was
blackened, and the gilding must have been volatilized, for a
smelling-bottle, which stood on the chimney-piece, was coated
with bright metallic particles, which adhered as firmly as
if they had been enamelled.

[1] Hearne's Journey, p. 383.

[2] Maclaren, art. "America," Encyclop. Brittann.

[3] Azara says, "Je crois que la quantite annuelle des pluies
est, dans toutes ces contrees, plus considerable qu'en Espagne."
— Vol. i. p. 36.

[4] In South America I collected altogether twenty-seven
species of mice, and thirteen more are known from the works
of Azara and other authors.  Those collected by myself have
been named and described by Mr. Waterhouse at the meetings
of the Zoological Society.  I must be allowed to take this
opportunity of returning my cordial thanks to Mr. Waterhouse,
and to the other gentleman attached to that Society, for their
kind and most liberal assistance on all occasions.

[5] In the stomach and duodenum of a capybara which I opened
I found a very large quantity of a thin yellowish fluid,
in which scarcely a fibre could be distinguished.  Mr. Owen
informs me that a part of the oesophagus is so constructed
that nothing much larger than a crowquill can be passed down.
Certainly the broad teeth and strong jaws of this animal are
well fitted to grind into pulp the aquatic plants on which it
feeds.

[6] At the R. Negro, in Northern Patagonia, there is an animal
of the same habits, and probably a closely allied species, but
which I never saw.  Its noise is different from that of the
Maldonado kind; it is repeated only twice instead of three or
four times, and is more distinct and sonorous; when heard from
a distance it so closely resembles the sound made in cutting
down a small tree with an axe, that I have sometimes remained
in doubt concerning it.

[7] Philosoph. Zoolog., tom. i. p. 242.

[8] Magazine of Zoology and Botany, vol. i. p. 217.

[9] Read before the Academy of Sciences in Paris. L'Institut,
1834, p. 418.

[10] Geolog. Transact. vol. ii. p. 528. In the Philosoph.
Transact. (1790, p. 294) Dr. Priestly has described some
imperfect siliceous tubes and a melted pebble of quartz,
found in digging into the ground, under a tree, where a man
had been killed by lightning.

[11] Annals de Chimie et de Physique, tom. xxxvii. p. 319.

[12] Azara's Voyage, vol. i. p. 36.



CHAPTER IV

RIO NEGRO TO BAHIA BLANCA

Rio Negro — Estancias attacked by the Indians — Salt-Lakes —
Flamingoes — R. Negro to R. Colorado — Sacred Tree —
Patagonian Hare — Indian Families — General Rosas —
Proceed to Bahia Blanca — Sand Dunes — Negro Lieutenant —
Bahia Blanca — Saline Incrustations — Punta Alta — Zorillo.


JULY 24th, 1833. — The Beagle sailed from Maldonado,
and on August the 3rd she arrived off the mouth of the
Rio Negro.  This is the principal river on the whole line
of coast between the Strait of Magellan and the Plata.  It
enters the sea about three hundred miles south of the estuary
of the Plata.  About fifty years ago, under the old Spanish
government, a small colony was established here; and it is
still the most southern position (lat. 41 degs.) on this
eastern coast of America inhabited by civilized man.

The country near the mouth of the river is wretched in
the extreme: on the south side a long line of perpendicular
cliffs commences, which exposes a section of the geological
nature of the country.  The strata are of sandstone, and
one layer was remarkable from being composed of a firmly-
cemented conglomerate of pumice pebbles, which must have
travelled more than four hundred miles, from the Andes.
The surface is everywhere covered up by a thick bed of
gravel, which extends far and wide over the open plain.
Water is extremely scarce, and, where found, is almost
invariably brackish.  The vegetation is scanty; and although
there are bushes of many kinds, all are armed with formidable
thorns, which seem to warn the stranger not to enter on
these inhospitable regions.

The settlement is situated eighteen miles up the river.
The road follows the foot of the sloping cliff, which forms
the northern boundary of the great valley, in which the Rio
Negro flows.  On the way we passed the ruins of some fine
"estancias," which a few years since had been destroyed by
the Indians.  They withstood several attacks.  A man present
at one gave me a very lively description of what took place.
The inhabitants had sufficient notice to drive all the cattle
and horses into the "corral" [1] which surrounded the house,
and likewise to mount some small cannon.  The Indians were
Araucanians from the south of Chile; several hundreds in
number, and highly disciplined.  They first appeared in two
bodies on a neighbouring hill; having there dismounted, and
taken off their fur mantles, they advanced naked to the
charge.  The only weapon of an Indian is a very long bamboo
or chuzo, ornamented with ostrich feathers, and pointed
by a sharp spearhead.  My informer seemed to remember
with the greatest horror the quivering of these chuzos as they
approached near.  When close, the cacique Pincheira hailed
the besieged to give up their arms, or he would cut all their
throats.  As this would probably have been the result of
their entrance under any circumstances, the answer was
given by a volley of musketry.  The Indians, with great
steadiness, came to the very fence of the corral: but to their
surprise they found the posts fastened together by iron nails
instead of leather thongs, and, of course, in vain attempted
to cut them with their knives.  This saved the lives of the
Christians: many of the wounded Indians were carried away
by their companions, and at last, one of the under caciques
being wounded, the bugle sounded a retreat.  They retired to
their horses, and seemed to hold a council of war.  This was
an awful pause for the Spaniards, as all their ammunition,
with the exception of a few cartridges, was expended.  In
an instant the Indians mounted their horses, and galloped
out of sight.  Another attack was still more quickly repulsed.
A cool Frenchman managed the gun; he stopped till the
Indians approached close, and then raked their line with
grape-shot: he thus laid thirty-nine of them on the ground;
and, of course, such a blow immediately routed the whole
party.

The town is indifferently called El Carmen or Patagones.
It is built on the face of a cliff which fronts the river, and
many of the houses are excavated even in the sandstone.
The river is about two or three hundred yards wide, and is
deep and rapid.  The many islands, with their willow-trees,
and the flat headlands, seen one behind the other on the
northern boundary of the broad green valley, form, by the
aid of a bright sun, a view almost picturesque.  The number
of inhabitants does not exceed a few hundreds.  These Spanish
colonies do not, like our British ones, carry within themselves
the elements of growth.  Many Indians of pure blood
reside here: the tribe of the Cacique Lucanee constantly have
their Toldos [2] on the outskirts of the town.  The local
government partly supplies them with provisions, by giving them
all the old worn-out horses, and they earn a little by making
horse-rugs and other articles of riding-gear.  These Indians
are considered civilized; but what their character may have
gained by a lesser degree of ferocity, is almost counterbalanced
by their entire immorality.  Some of the younger men
are, however, improving; they are willing to labour, and a
short time since a party went on a sealing-voyage, and behaved
very well.  They were now enjoying the fruits of their
labour, by being dressed in very gay, clean clothes, and by
being very idle.  The taste they showed in their dress was
admirable; if you could have turned one of these young
Indians into a statue of bronze, his drapery would have been
perfectly graceful.

One day I rode to a large salt-lake, or Salina, which is
distant fifteen miles from the town.  During the winter it
consists of a shallow lake of brine, which in summer is
converted into a field of snow-white salt.  The layer near the
margin is from four to five inches thick, but towards the
centre its thickness increases.  This lake was two and a half
miles long, and one broad.  Others occur in the neighbourhood
many times larger, and with a floor of salt, two and
three feet in thickness, even when under water during the
winter.  One of these brilliantly white and level expanses
in the midst of the brown and desolate plain, offers an
extraordinary spectacle.  A large quantity of salt is annually
drawn from the salina: and great piles, some hundred
tons in weight, were lying ready for exportation.  The season
for working the salinas forms the harvest of Patagones; for
on it the prosperity of the place depends.  Nearly the whole
population encamps on the bank of the river, and the people
are employed in drawing out the salt in bullock-waggons,
This salt is crystallized in great cubes, and is remarkably
pure: Mr. Trenham Reeks has kindly analyzed some for me,
and he finds in it only 0.26 of gypsum and 0.22 of earthy
matter.  It is a singular fact, that it does not serve so well
for preserving meat as sea-salt from the Cape de Verd
islands; and a merchant at Buenos Ayres told me that he
considered it as fifty per cent. less valuable.  Hence the
Cape de Verd salt is constantly imported, and is mixed with
that from these salinas.  The purity of the Patagonian salt,
or absence from it of those other saline bodies found in all
sea-water, is the only assignable cause for this inferiority:
a conclusion which no one, I think, would have suspected,
but which is supported by the fact lately ascertained, [3]
that those salts answer best for preserving cheese which
contain most of the deliquescent chlorides.

The border of this lake is formed of mud: and in this
numerous large crystals of gypsum, some of which are three
inches long, lie embedded; whilst on the surface others of
sulphate of soda lie scattered about.  The Gauchos call the
former the "Padre del sal," and the latter the "Madre;"
they state that these progenitive salts always occur on the
borders of the salinas, when the water begins to evaporate.
The mud is black, and has a fetid odour.  I could not at first
imagine the cause of this, but I afterwards perceived that the
froth which the wind drifted on shore was coloured green,
as if by confervae; I attempted to carry home some of this
green matter, but from an accident failed.  Parts of the lake
seen from a short distance appeared of a reddish colour, and
this perhaps was owing to some infusorial animalcula.  The
mud in many places was thrown up by numbers of some kind
of worm, or annelidous animal.  How surprising it is that
any creatures should be able to exist in brine, and that they
should be crawling among crystals of sulphate of soda and
lime!  And what becomes of these worms when, during the
long summer, the surface is hardened into a solid layer of
salt?  Flamingoes in considerable numbers inhabit this lake,
and breed here, throughout Patagonia, in Northern Chile,
and at the Galapagos Islands, I met with these birds wherever
there were lakes of brine.  I saw them here wading
about in search of food — probably for the worms which burrow
in the mud; and these latter probably feed on infusoria or
confervae.  Thus we have a little living world within itself
adapted to these inland lakes of brine.  A minute crustaceous
animal (Cancer salinus) is said [4] to live in countless numbers
in the brine-pans at Lymington: but only in those in which
the fluid has attained, from evaporation, considerable
strength — namely, about a quarter of a pound of salt to a
pint of water.  Well may we affirm that every part of the
world is habitable!  Whether lakes of brine, or those
subterranean ones hidden beneath volcanic mountains — warm
mineral springs — the wide expanse and depths of the ocean
 — the upper regions of the atmosphere, and even the surface
of perpetual snow — all support organic beings.


To the northward of the Rio Negro, between it and the
inhabited country near Buenos Ayres, the Spaniards have
only one small settlement, recently established at Bahia
Blanca.  The distance in a straight line to Buenos Ayres is
very nearly five hundred British miles.  The wandering
tribes of horse Indians, which have always occupied the
greater part of this country, having of late much harassed
the outlying estancias, the government at Buenos Ayres
equipped some time since an army under the command of
General Rosas for the purpose of exterminating them.  The
troops were now encamped on the banks of the Colorado;
a river lying about eighty miles northward of the Rio Negro
When General Rosas left Buenos Ayres he struck in a direct
line across the unexplored plains: and as the country was
thus pretty well cleared of Indians, he left behind him, at
wide intervals, a small party of soldiers with a troop of
horses (a posta), so as to be enabled to keep up a communication
with the capital.  As the Beagle intended to call at
Bahia Blanca, I determined to proceed there by land; and
ultimately I extended my plan to travel the whole way by
the postas to Buenos Ayres.

August 11th. — Mr. Harris, an Englishman residing at
Patagones, a guide, and five Gauchos who were proceeding
to the army on business, were my companions on the journey.
The Colorado, as I have already said, is nearly eighty
miles distant: and as we travelled slowly, we were two days
and a half on the road.  The whole line of country deserves
scarcely a better name than that of a desert.  Water is found
only in two small wells; it is called fresh; but even at this
time of the year, during the rainy season, it was quite brackish.
In the summer this must be a distressing passage; for
now it was sufficiently desolate.  The valley of the Rio
Negro, broad as it is, has merely been excavated out of the
sandstone plain; for immediately above the bank on which
the town stands, a level country commences, which is interrupted
only by a few trifling valleys and depressions.  Everywhere
the landscape wears the same sterile aspect; a dry
gravelly soil supports tufts of brown withered grass, and
low scattered bushes, armed with thorns.

Shortly after passing the first spring we came in sight of
a famous tree, which the Indians reverence as the altar of
Walleechu.  It is situated on a high part of the plain; and
hence is a landmark visible at a great distance.  As soon as a
tribe of Indians come in sight of it, they offer their adorations
by loud shouts.  The tree itself is low, much branched,
and thorny: just above the root it has a diameter of about
three feet.  It stands by itself without any neighbour, and
was indeed the first tree we saw; afterwards we met with a
few others of the same kind, but they were far from common.
Being winter the tree had no leaves, but in their place
numberless threads, by which the various offerings, such as
cigars, bread, meat, pieces of cloth, etc., had been suspended.
Poor Indians, not having anything better, only pull a thread
out of their ponchos, and fasten it to the tree.  Richer
Indians are accustomed to pour spirits and mate into a certain
hole, and likewise to smoke upwards, thinking thus to
afford all possible gratification to Walleechu.  To complete
the scene, the tree was surrounded by the bleached bones
of horses which had been slaughtered as sacrifices.  All
Indians of every age and sex make their offerings; they then
think that their horses will not tire, and that they themselves
shall be prosperous.  The Gaucho who told me this, said that
in the time of peace he had witnessed this scene, and that
he and others used to wait till the Indians had passed by, for
the sake of stealing from Walleechu the offerings.

The Gauchos think that the Indians consider the tree as
the god itself, but it seems for more probable that they
regard it as the altar.  The only cause which I can imagine
for this choice, is its being a landmark in a dangerous passage.
The Sierra de la Ventana is visible at an immense
distance; and a Gaucho told me that he was once riding with
an Indian a few miles to the north of the Rio Colorado
when the Indian commenced making the same loud noise
which is usual at the first sight of the distant tree, putting
his hand to his head, and then pointing in the direction of the
Sierra.  Upon being asked the reason of this, the Indian said
in broken Spanish, "First see the Sierra." About two
leagues beyond this curious tree we halted for the night: at
this instant an unfortunate cow was spied by the lynx-eyed
Gauchos, who set off in full chase, and in a few minutes
dragged her in with their lazos, and slaughtered her.  We
here had the four necessaries of life "en el campo," — pasture
for the horses, water (only a muddy puddle), meat and
firewood.  The Gauchos were in high spirits at finding all
these luxuries; and we soon set to work at the poor cow.  This
was the first night which I passed under the open sky, with
the gear of the recado for my bed.  There is high enjoyment
in the independence of the Gaucho life — to be able at any
moment to pull up your horse, and say, "Here we will pass
the night." The death-like stillness of the plain, the dogs
keeping watch, the gipsy-group of Gauchos making their
beds round the fire, have left in my mind a strongly-marked
picture of this first night, which will never be forgotten.

The next day the country continued similar to that above
described.  It is inhabited by few birds or animals of any
kind.  Occasionally a deer, or a Guanaco (wild Llama) may
be seen; but the Agouti (Cavia Patagonica) is the commonest
quadruped.  This animal here represents our hares.  It
differs, however, from that genus in many essential respects;
for instance, it has only three toes behind.  It is also nearly
twice the size, weighing from twenty to twenty-five pounds.
The Agouti is a true friend of the desert; it is a common
feature of the landscape to see two or three hopping quickly
one after the other in a straight line across these wild plains.
They are found as far north as the Sierra Tapalguen (lat.
37 degs. 30'), where the plain rather suddenly becomes greener
and more humid; and their southern limit is between Port
Desire and St. Julian, where there is no change in the nature
of the country.  It is a singular fact, that although the
Agouti is not now found as far south as Port St. Julian, yet
that Captain Wood, in his voyage in 1670, talks of them as
being numerous there.  What cause can have altered, in a
wide, uninhabited, and rarely-visited country, the range of
an animal like this?  It appears also, from the number shot
by Captain Wood in one day at Port Desire, that they must
have been considerably more abundant there formerly than
at present.  Where the Bizcacha lives and makes its burrows,
the Agouti uses them; but where, as at Bahia Blanca, the
Bizcacha is not found, the Agouti burrows for itself.  The
same thing occurs with the little owl of the Pampas (Athene
cunicularia), which has so often been described as standing
like a sentinel at the mouth of the burrows; for in Banda
Oriental, owing to the absence of the Bizcacha, it is obliged
to hollow out its own habitation.

The next morning, as we approached the Rio Colorado,
the appearance of the country changed; we soon came on a
plain covered with turf, which, from its flowers, tall clover,
and little owls, resembled the Pampas.  We passed also a
muddy swamp of considerable extent, which in summer dries,
and becomes incrusted with various salts; and hence is called
a salitral.  It was covered by low succulent plants, of the
same kind with those growing on the sea-shore.  The Colorado,
at the pass where we crossed it, is only about sixty
yards wide; generally it must be nearly double that width.
Its course is very tortuous, being marked by willow-trees
and beds of reeds: in a direct line the distance to the mouth
of the river is said to be nine leagues, but by water
twenty-five.  We were delayed crossing in the canoe by some
immense troops of mares, which were swimming the river in
order to follow a division of troops into the interior.  A
more ludicrous spectacle I never beheld than the hundreds
and hundreds of heads, all directed one way, with pointed
ears and distended snorting nostrils, appearing just above
the water like a great shoal of some amphibious animal.
Mare's flesh is the only food which the soldiers have when
on an expedition.  This gives them a great facility of movement;
for the distance to which horses can be driven over
these plains is quite surprising: I have been assured that an
unloaded horse can travel a hundred miles a day for many
days successively.

The encampment of General Rosas was close to the river.
It consisted of a square formed by waggons, artillery, straw
huts, etc.  The soldiers were nearly all cavalry; and I should
think such a villainous, banditti-like army was never before
collected together.  The greater number of men were of a
mixed breed, between Negro, Indian, and Spaniard.  I know
not the reason, but men of such origin seldom have a good
expression of countenance.  I called on the Secretary to show
my passport.  He began to cross-question me in the most
dignified and mysterious manner.  By good luck I had a
letter of recommendation from the government of Buenos
Ayres [5] to the commandant of Patagones.  This was taken
to General Rosas, who sent me a very obliging message; and
the Secretary returned all smiles and graciousness.  We took
up our residence in the rancho, or hovel, of a curious old
Spaniard, who had served with Napoleon in the expedition
against Russia.

We stayed two days at the Colorado; I had little to do,
for the surrounding country was a swamp, which in summer
(December), when the snow melts on the Cordillera, is over-
flowed by the river.  My chief amusement was watching the
Indian families as they came to buy little articles at the
rancho where we stayed.  It was supposed that General
Rosas had about six hundred Indian allies.  The men were
a tall, fine race, yet it was afterwards easy to see in the
Fuegian savage the same countenance rendered hideous by
cold, want of food, and less civilization.  Some authors,
in defining the primary races of mankind, have separated
these Indians into two classes; but this is certainly
incorrect.  Among the young women or chinas, some deserve to
be called even beautiful.  Their hair was coarse, but bright
and black; and they wore it in two plaits hanging down
to the waist.  They had a high colour, and eyes that
glistened with brilliancy; their legs, feet, and arms were
small and elegantly formed; their ankles, and sometimes
their wrists, were ornamented by broad bracelets of blue
beads.  Nothing could be more interesting than some of the
family groups.  A mother with one or two daughters would
often come to our rancho, mounted on the same horse.  They
ride like men, but with their knees tucked up much higher.
This habit, perhaps, arises from their being accustomed,
when travelling, to ride the loaded horses.  The duty of the
women is to load and unload the horses; to make the tents
for the night; in short to be, like the wives of all savages,
useful slaves.  The men fight, hunt, take care of the horses,
and make the riding gear.  One of their chief indoor occupations
is to knock two stones together till they become round,
in order to make the bolas.  With this important weapon the
Indian catches his game, and also his horse, which roams
free over the plain.  In fighting, his first attempt is to throw
down the horse of his adversary with the bolas, and when
entangled by the fall to kill him with the chuzo.  If the balls
only catch the neck or body of an animal, they are often
carried away and lost.  As the making the stones round is
the labour of two days, the manufacture of the balls is a
very common employment.  Several of the men and women
had their faces painted red, but I never saw the horizontal
bands which are so common among the Fuegians.  Their
chief pride consists in having everything made of silver; I
have seen a cacique with his spurs, stirrups, handle of his
knife, and bridle made of this metal: the head-stall and reins
being of wire, were not thicker than whipcord; and to see a
fiery steed wheeling about under the command of so light
a chain, gave to the horsemanship a remarkable character of
elegance.

General Rosas intimated a wish to see me; a circumstance
which I was afterwards very glad of.  He is a man of an
extraordinary character, and has a most predominant influence
in the country, which it seems he will use to its prosperity
and advancement. [6] He is said to be the owner of
seventy-four square leagues of land, and to have about three
hundred thousand head of cattle.  His estates are admirably
managed, and are far more productive of corn than those of
others.  He first gained his celebrity by his laws for his own
estancias, and by disciplining several hundred men, so as to
resist with success the attacks of the Indians.  There are
many stories current about the rigid manner in which his
laws were enforced.  One of these was, that no man, on
penalty of being put into the stocks, should carry his knife
on a Sunday: this being the principal day for gambling and
drinking, many quarrels arose, which from the general manner
of fighting with the knife often proved fatal.  One
Sunday the Governor came in great form to pay the estancia
a visit, and General Rosas, in his hurry, walked out to receive
him with his knife, as usual, stuck in his belt.  The steward
touched his arm, and reminded him of the law; upon which
turning to the Governor, he said he was extremely sorry, but
that he must go into the stocks, and that till let out, he
possessed no power even in his own house.  After a little time
the steward was persuaded to open the stocks, and to let
him out, but no sooner was this done, than he turned to the
steward and said, "You now have broken the laws, so you
must take my place in the stocks." Such actions as these
delighted the Gauchos, who all possess high notions of their
own equality and dignity.

General Rosas is also a perfect horseman — an accomplishment
of no small consequence In a country where an assembled
army elected its general by the following trial: A troop
of unbroken horses being driven into a corral, were let out
through a gateway, above which was a cross-bar: it was
agreed whoever should drop from the bar on one of these
wild animals, as it rushed out, and should be able, without
saddle or bridle, not only to ride it, but also to bring it back
to the door of the corral, should be their general.  The person
who succeeded was accordingly elected; and doubtless
made a fit general for such an army.  This extraordinary
feat has also been performed by Rosas.

By these means, and by conforming to the dress and habits
of the Gauchos, he has obtained an unbounded popularity in
the country, and in consequence a despotic power.  I was
assured by an English merchant, that a man who had murdered
another, when arrested and questioned concerning his
motive, answered, "He spoke disrespectfully of General
Rosas, so I killed him." At the end of a week the murderer
was at liberty.  This doubtless was the act of the general's
party, and not of the general himself.

In conversation he is enthusiastic, sensible, and very
grave.  His gravity is carried to a high pitch: I heard one
of his mad buffoons (for he keeps two, like the barons of
old) relate the following anecdote.  "I wanted very much to
hear a certain piece of music, so I went to the general two
or three times to ask him; he said to me, 'Go about your
business, for I am engaged.' I went a second time; he said,
'If you come again I will punish you.' A third time I
asked, and he laughed.  I rushed out of the tent, but it was
too late — he ordered two soldiers to catch and stake me.  I
begged by all the saints in heaven he would let me off; but it
would not do, — when the general laughs he spares neither
mad man nor sound." The poor flighty gentleman looked quite
dolorous, at the very recollection of the staking.  This is a
very severe punishment; four posts are driven into the
ground, and the man is extended by his arms and legs
horizontally, and there left to stretch for several hours.
The idea is evidently taken from the usual method of drying
hides.  My interview passed away, without a smile, and I
obtained a passport and order for the government post-horses,
and this he gave me in the most obliging and ready
manner.

In the morning we started for Bahia Blanca, which we
reached in two days.  Leaving the regular encampment, we
passed by the toldos of the Indians.  These are round like
ovens, and covered with hides; by the mouth of each, a tapering
chuzo was stuck in the ground.  The toldos were divided
into separate groups, which belong to the different caciques'
tribes, and the groups were again divided into smaller ones,
according to the relationship of the owners.  For several
miles we travelled along the valley of the Colorado.  The
alluvial plains on the side appeared fertile, and it is supposed
that they are well adapted to the growth of corn.  Turning
northward from the river, we soon entered on a country, differing
from the plains south of the river.  The land still continued
dry and sterile: but it supported many different kinds
of plants, and the grass, though brown and withered, was
more abundant, as the thorny bushes were less so.  These
latter in a short space entirely disappeared, and the plains
were left without a thicket to cover their nakedness.  This
change in the vegetation marks the commencement of the
grand calcareo argillaceous deposit, which forms the wide
extent of the Pampas, and covers the granitic rocks of Banda
Oriental.  From the Strait of Magellan to the Colorado, a
distance of about eight hundred miles, the face of the country
is everywhere composed of shingle: the pebbles are
chiefly of porphyry, and probably owe their origin to the
rocks of the Cordillera.  North of the Colorado this bed
thins out, and the pebbles become exceedingly small, and
here the characteristic vegetation of Patagonia ceases.

Having ridden about twenty-five miles, we came to a
broad belt of sand-dunes, which stretches, as far as the eye
can reach, to the east and west.  The sand-hillocks resting
on the clay, allow small pools of water to collect, and thus
afford in this dry country an invaluable supply of fresh
water.  The great advantage arising from depressions and
elevations of the soil, is not often brought home to the mind.
The two miserable springs in the long passage between the
Rio Negro and Colorado were caused by trifling inequalities
in the plain, without them not a drop of water would have
been found.  The belt of sand-dunes is about eight miles
wide; at some former period, it probably formed the margin
of a grand estuary, where the Colorado now flows.  In this
district, where absolute proofs of the recent elevation of
the land occur, such speculations can hardly be neglected by
any one, although merely considering the physical geography
of the country.  Having crossed the sandy tract, we arrived
in the evening at one of the post-houses; and, as the fresh
horses were grazing at a distance we determined to pass
the night there.

The house was situated at the base of a ridge between
one and two hundred feet high — a most remarkable feature
in this country.  This posta was commanded by a negro
lieutenant, born in Africa: to his credit be it said, there
was not a ranche between the Colorado and Buenos Ayres in
nearly such neat order as his.  He had a little room for
strangers, and a small corral for the horses, all made of
sticks and reeds; he had also dug a ditch round his house
as a defence in case of being attacked.  This would, however,
have been of little avail, if the Indians had come; but
his chief comfort seemed to rest in the thought of selling
his life dearly.  A short time before, a body of Indians had
travelled past in the night; if they had been aware of the
posta, our black friend and his four soldiers would assuredly
have been slaughtered.  I did not anywhere meet a more
civil and obliging man than this negro; it was therefore
the more painful to see that he would not sit down and eat
with us.

In the morning we sent for the horses very early, and
started for another exhilarating gallop.  We passed the
Cabeza del Buey, an old name given to the head of a large
marsh, which extends from Bahia Blanca.  Here we changed
horses, and passed through some leagues of swamps and
saline marshes.  Changing horses for the last time, we again
began wading through the mud.  My animal fell and I was
well soused in black mire — a very disagreeable accident
when one does not possess a change of clothes.  Some miles
from the fort we met a man, who told us that a great gun
had been fired, which is a signal that Indians are near.  We
immediately left the road, and followed the edge of a marsh,
which when chased offers the best mode of escape.  We
were glad to arrive within the walls, when we found all the
alarm was about nothing, for the Indians turned out to be
friendly ones, who wished to join General Rosas.

Bahia Blanca scarcely deserves the name of a village.  A
few houses and the barracks for the troops are enclosed by
a deep ditch and fortified wall.  The settlement is only of
recent standing (since 1828); and its growth has been one of
trouble.  The government of Buenos Ayres unjustly occupied
it by force, instead of following the wise example of the
Spanish Viceroys, who purchased the land near the older
settlement of the Rio Negro, from the Indians.  Hence the
need of the fortifications; hence the few houses and little
cultivated land without the limits of the walls; even the
cattle are not safe from the attacks of the Indians beyond
the boundaries of the plain, on which the fortress stands.

The part of the harbour where the Beagle intended to
anchor being distant twenty-five miles, I obtained from the
Commandant a guide and horses, to take me to see whether
she had arrived.  Leaving the plain of green turf, which
extended along the course of a little brook, we soon entered
on a wide level waste consisting either of sand, saline
marshes, or bare mud.  Some parts were clothed by low
thickets, and others with those succulent plants, which
luxuriate only where salt abounds.  Bad as the country was,
ostriches, deer, agoutis, and armadilloes, were abundant.  My
guide told me, that two months before he had a most narrow
escape of his life: he was out hunting with two other men,
at no great distance from this part of the country, when they
were suddenly met by a party of Indians, who giving chase,
soon overtook and killed his two friends.  His own horse's
legs were also caught by the bolas, but he jumped off, and
with his knife cut them free: while doing this he was obliged
to dodge round his horse, and received two severe wounds
from their chuzos.  Springing on the saddle, he managed, by
a most wonderful exertion, just to keep ahead of the long
spears of his pursuers, who followed him to within sight of
the fort.  From that time there was an order that no one
should stray far from the settlement.  I did not know of this
when I started, and was surprised to observe how earnestly
my guide watched a deer, which appeared to have been
frightened from a distant quarter.

We found the Beagle had not arrived, and consequently
set out on our return, but the horses soon tiring, we were
obliged to bivouac on the plain.  In the morning we had
caught an armadillo, which although a most excellent dish
when roasted in its shell, did not make a very substantial
breakfast and dinner for two hungry men.  The ground at
the place where we stopped for the night, was incrusted with
a layer of sulphate of soda, and hence, of course, was without
water.  Yet many of the smaller rodents managed to
exist even here, and the tucutuco was making its odd little
grunt beneath my head, during half the night.  Our horses
were very poor ones, and in the morning they were soon
exhausted from not having had anything to drink, so that
we were obliged to walk.  About noon the dogs killed a kid,
which we roasted.  I ate some of it, but it made me intolerably
thirsty.  This was the more distressing as the road,
from some recent rain, was full of little puddles of clear
water, yet not a drop was drinkable.  I had scarcely been
twenty hours without water, and only part of the time under
a hot sun, yet the thirst rendered me very weak.  How people
survive two or three days under such circumstances, I cannot
imagine: at the same time, I must confess that my guide did
not suffer at all, and was astonished that one day's
deprivation should be so troublesome to me.

I have several times alluded to the surface of the ground
being incrusted with salt.  This phenomenon is quite
different from that of the salinas, and more extraordinary.
In many parts of South America, wherever the climate is
moderately dry, these incrustations occur; but I have nowhere
seen them so abundant as near Bahia Blanca.  The salt here,
and in other parts of Patagonia, consists chiefly of sulphate
of soda with some common salt.  As long as the ground
remains moist in the salitrales (as the Spaniards improperly
call them, mistaking this substance for saltpeter), nothing is
to be seen but an extensive plain composed of a black, muddy
soil, supporting scattered tufts of succulent plants.  On returning
through one of these tracts, after a week's hot weather,
one is surprised to see square miles of the plain white, as if
from a slight fall of snow, here and there heaped up by the
wind into little drifts.  This latter appearance is chiefly
caused by the salts being drawn up, during the slow evaporation
of the moisture, round blades of dead grass, stumps of
wood, and pieces of broken earth, instead of being crystallized
at the bottoms of the puddles of water.  The salitrales
occur either on level tracts elevated only a few feet above
the level of the sea, or on alluvial land bordering rivers.
M. Parchappe [7] found that the saline incrustation on the plain,
at the distance of some miles from the sea, consisted chiefly
of sulphate of soda, with only seven per cent. of common
salt; whilst nearer to the coast, the common salt increased
to 37 parts in a hundred.  This circumstance would tempt
one to believe that the sulphate of soda is generated in the
soil, from the muriate, left on the surface during the slow
and recent elevation of this dry country.  The whole phenomenon
is well worthy the attention of naturalists.  Have
the succulent, salt-loving plants, which are well known to
contain much soda, the power of decomposing the muriate?
Does the black fetid mud, abounding with organic matter,
yield the sulphur and ultimately the sulphuric acid?

Two days afterwards I again rode to the harbour: when
not far from our destination, my companion, the same man
as before, spied three people hunting on horseback.  He
immediately dismounted, and watching them intently, said,
"They don't ride like Christians, and nobody can leave the
fort." The three hunters joined company, and likewise
dismounted from their horses.  At last one mounted again
and rode over the hill out of sight.  My companion said,
"We must now get on our horses: load your pistol;" and he
looked to his own sword.  I asked, "Are they Indians?" —
"Quien sabe? (who knows?) if there are no more than three,
it does not signify." It then struck me, that the one man
had gone over the hill to fetch the rest of his tribe.  I
suggested this; but all the answer I could extort was, "Quien
sabe?" His head and eye never for a minute ceased scanning
slowly the distant horizon.  I thought his uncommon
coolness too good a joke, and asked him why he did not
return home.  I was startled when he answered, "We are
returning, but in a line so as to pass near a swamp, into
which we can gallop the horses as far as they can go, and
then trust to our own legs; so that there is no danger." I did
not feel quite so confident of this, and wanted to increase
our pace.  He said, "No, not until they do." When any
little inequality concealed us, we galloped; but when in sight,
continued walking.  At last we reached a valley, and turning
to the left, galloped quickly to the foot of a hill; he gave me
his horse to hold, made the dogs lie down, and then crawled
on his hands and knees to reconnoitre.  He remained in this
position for some time, and at last, bursting out in laughter,
exclaimed, "Mugeres!" (women!).  He knew them to be
the wife and sister-in-law of the major's son, hunting for
ostrich's eggs.  I have described this man's conduct, because
he acted under the full impression that they were Indians.
As soon, however, as the absurd mistake was found out, he
gave me a hundred reasons why they could not have been
Indians; but all these were forgotten at the time.  We then
rode on in peace and quietness to a low point called Punta
Alta, whence we could see nearly the whole of the great harbour
of Bahia Blanca.

The wide expanse of water is choked up by numerous
great mud-banks, which the inhabitants call Cangrejales, or
crabberies, from the number of small crabs.  The mud is so
soft that it is impossible to walk over them, even for the
shortest distance.  Many of the banks have their surfaces
covered with long rushes, the tops of which alone are visible
at high water.  On one occasion, when in a boat, we were
so entangled by these shallows that we could hardly find
our way.  Nothing was visible but the flat beds of mud; the
day was not very clear, and there was much refraction, or
as the sailors expressed it, "things loomed high." The only
object within our view which was not level was the horizon;
rushes looked like bushes unsupported in the air, and water
like mud-banks, and mud-banks like water.

We passed the night in Punta Alta, and I employed myself
in searching for fossil bones; this point being a perfect
catacomb for monsters of extinct races.  The evening was
perfectly calm and clear; the extreme monotony of the view
gave it an interest even in the midst of mud-banks and gulls
sand-hillocks and solitary vultures.  In riding back in the
morning we came across a very fresh track of a Puma, but
did not succeed in finding it.  We saw also a couple of
Zorillos, or skunks, — odious animals, which are far from
uncommon.  In general appearance, the Zorillo resembles a
polecat, but it is rather larger, and much thicker in proportion.
Conscious of its power, it roams by day about the open
plain, and fears neither dog nor man.  If a dog is urged to
the attack, its courage is instantly checked by a few drops
of the fetid oil, which brings on violent sickness and running
at the nose.  Whatever is once polluted by it, is for
ever useless.  Azara says the smell can be perceived at a
league distant; more than once, when entering the harbour
of Monte Video, the wind being off shore, we have perceived
the odour on board the Beagle.  Certain it is, that
every animal most willingly makes room for the Zorillo.

[1] The corral is an enclosure made of tall and strong
stakes.  Every estancia, or farming estate, has one attached
to it.

[2] The hovels of the Indians are thus called.

[3] Report of the Agricult. Chem. Assoc. in the Agricult.
Gazette, 1845, p. 93.

[4] Linnaean Trans,. vol. xi. p. 205. It is remarkable how
all the circumstances connected with the salt-lakes in Siberia
and Patagonia are similar.  Siberia, like Patagonia, appears
to have been recently elevated above the waters of the sea.
In both countries the salt-lakes occupy shallow depressions
in the plains; in both the mud on the borders is black and
fetid; beneath the crust of common salt, sulphate of soda or
of magnesium occurs, imperfectly crystallized; and in both,
the muddy sand is mixed with lentils of gypsum.  The Siberian
salt-lakes are inhabited by small crustaceous animals; and
flamingoes (Edin. New Philos. Jour., Jan 1830) likewise
frequent them.  As these circumstances, apparently so trifling,
occur in two distant continents, we may feel sure that they
are the necessary results of a common cause — See Pallas's
Travels, 1793 to 1794, pp. 129 - 134.

[5] I am bound to express in the strongest terms, my obligation
to the government of Buenos Ayres for the obliging manner in
which passports to all parts of the country were given me, as
naturalist of the Beagle.

[6] This prophecy has turned out entirely and miserably wrong.
1845.

[7] Voyage dans l'Amerique Merid par M. A. d'Orbigny. Part.
Hist. tom. i. p. 664



CHAPTER V

BAHIA BLANCA

Bahia Blanca — Geology — Numerous gigantic Quadrupeds —
Recent Extinction — Longevity of species — Large Animals
do not require a luxuriant vegetation — Southern Africa —
Siberian Fossils — Two Species of Ostrich — Habits of
Oven-bird — Armadilloes — Venomous Snake, Toad, Lizard —
Hybernation of Animal — Habits of Sea-Pen — Indian Wars and
Massacres — Arrow-head, antiquarian Relic.


The Beagle arrived here on the 24th of August, and a
week afterwards sailed for the Plata.  With Captain
Fitz Roy's consent I was left behind, to travel by land
to Buenos Ayres.  I will here add some observations, which
were made during this visit and on a previous occasion, when
the Beagle was employed in surveying the harbour.

The plain, at the distance of a few miles from the coast,
belongs to the great Pampean formation, which consists in
part of a reddish clay, and in part of a highly calcareous
marly rock.  Nearer the coast there are some plains formed
from the wreck of the upper plain, and from mud, gravel,
and sand thrown up by the sea during the slow elevation of
the land, of which elevation we have evidence in upraised
beds of recent shells, and in rounded pebbles of pumice
scattered over the country.  At Punta Alta we have a section of
one of these later-formed little plains, which is highly
interesting from the number and extraordinary character of the
remains of gigantic land-animals embedded in it.  These have
been fully described by Professor Owen, in the Zoology of the
voyage of the Beagle, and are deposited in the College of
Surgeons.  I will here give only a brief outline of their nature.

First, parts of three heads and other bones of the Megatherium,
the huge dimensions of which are expressed by its
name.  Secondly, the Megalonyx, a great allied animal.
Thirdly, the Scelidotherium, also an allied animal, of which
I obtained a nearly perfect skeleton.  It must have been as
large as a rhinoceros: in the structure of its head it comes
according to Mr. Owen, nearest to the Cape Anteater, but
in some other respects it approaches to the armadilloes.
Fourthly, the Mylodon Darwinii, a closely related genus of
little inferior size.  Fifthly, another gigantic edental quadruped.
Sixthly, a large animal, with an osseous coat in compartments,
very like that of an armadillo.  Seventhly, an
extinct kind of horse, to which I shall have again to refer.
Eighthly, a tooth of a Pachydermatous animal, probably the
same with the Macrauchenia, a huge beast with a long neck
like a camel, which I shall also refer to again.  Lastly, the
Toxodon, perhaps one of the strangest animals ever discovered:
in size it equalled an elephant or megatherium, but
the structure of its teeth, as Mr. Owen states, proves
indisputably that it was intimately related to the Gnawers, the
order which, at the present day, includes most of the smallest
quadrupeds: in many details it is allied to the Pachydermata:
judging from the position of its eyes, ears, and nostrils,
it was probably aquatic, like the Dugong and Manatee,
to which it is also allied.  How wonderfully are the different
Orders, at the present time so well separated, blended together
in different points of the structure of the Toxodon!

The remains of these nine great quadrupeds, and many
detached bones, were found embedded on the beach, within
the space of about 200 yards square.  It is a remarkable
circumstance that so many different species should be found
together; and it proves how numerous in kind the ancient
inhabitants of this country must have been.  At the distance
of about thirty miles from Punta Alta, in a cliff of red earth,
I found several fragments of bones, some of large size.
Among them were the teeth of a gnawer, equalling in size
and closely resembling those of the Capybara, whose habits
have been described; and therefore, probably, an aquatic
animal.  There was also part of the head of a Ctenomys; the
species being different from the Tucutuco, but with a close
general resemblance.  The red earth, like that of the Pampas,
in which these remains were embedded, contains, according
to Professor Ehrenberg, eight fresh-water and one salt-water
infusorial animalcule; therefore, probably, it was an estuary
deposit.

The remains at Punta Alta were embedded in stratified
gravel and reddish mud, just such as the sea might now wash
up on a shallow bank.  They were associated with twenty-
three species of shells, of which thirteen are recent and four
others very closely related to recent forms. [1] From the bones
of the Scelidotherium, including even the knee-cap, being
intombed in their proper relative positions, and from the
osseous armour of the great armadillo-like animal being so
well preserved, together with the bones of one of its legs, we
may feel assured that these remains were fresh and united by
their ligaments, when deposited in the gravel together with
the shells. [2] Hence we have good evidence that the above
enumerated gigantic quadrupeds, more different from those
of the present day than the oldest of the tertiary quadrupeds
of Europe, lived whilst the sea was peopled with most
of its present inhabitants; and we have confirmed that remarkable
law so often insisted on by Mr. Lyell, namely, that
the "longevity of the species in the mammalia is upon the
whole inferior to that of the testacea." [3]

The great size of the bones of the Megatheroid animals,
including the Megatherium, Megalonyx, Scelidotherium, and
Mylodon, is truly wonderful.  The habits of life of these
animals were a complete puzzle to naturalists, until Professor
Owen [4] solved the problem with remarkable ingenuity.  The
teeth indicate, by their simple structure, that these Megatheroid
animals lived on vegetable food, and probably on the
leaves and small twigs of trees; their ponderous forms and
great strong curved claws seem so little adapted for locomotion,
that some eminent naturalists have actually believed,
that, like the sloths, to which they are intimately related,
they subsisted by climbing back downwards on trees, and
feeding on the leaves.  It was a bold, not to say preposterous,
idea to conceive even antediluvian trees, with branches
strong enough to bear animals as large as elephants.  Professor
Owen, with far more probability, believes that, instead
of climbing on the trees, they pulled the branches down to
them, and tore up the smaller ones by the roots, and so fed on
the leaves.  The colossal breadth and weight of their hinder
quarters, which can hardly be imagined without having been
seen, become on this view, of obvious service, instead of
being an incumbrance: their apparent clumsiness disappears.
With their great tails and their huge heels firmly fixed like
a tripod on the ground, they could freely exert the full force
of their most powerful arms and great claws.  Strongly
rooted, indeed, must that tree have been, which could have
resisted such force!  The Mylodon, moreover, was furnished
with a long extensile tongue like that of the giraffe, which,
by one of those beautiful provisions of nature, thus reaches
with the aid of its long neck its leafy food.  I may remark,
that in Abyssinia the elephant, according to Bruce, when it
cannot reach with its proboscis the branches, deeply scores
with its tusks the trunk of the tree, up and down and all
round, till it is sufficiently weakened to be broken down.

The beds including the above fossil remains, stand only
from fifteen to twenty feet above the level of high-water;
and hence the elevation of the land has been small (without
there has been an intercalated period of subsidence, of which
we have no evidence) since the great quadrupeds wandered
over the surrounding plains; and the external features of
the country must then have been very nearly the same as
now.  What, it may naturally be asked, was the character
of the vegetation at that period; was the country as wretchedly
sterile as it now is?  As so many of the co-embedded
shells are the same with those now living in the bay, I was
at first inclined to think that the former vegetation was
probably similar to the existing one; but this would have
been an erroneous inference for some of these same shells
live on the luxuriant coast of Brazil; and generally, the
character of the inhabitants of the sea are useless as guides
to judge of those on the land.  Nevertheless, from the following
considerations, I do not believe that the simple fact
of many gigantic quadrupeds having lived on the plains
round Bahia Blanca, is any sure guide that they formerly
were clothed with a luxuriant vegetation: I have no doubt
that the sterile country a little southward, near the Rio
Negro, with its scattered thorny trees, would support many
and large quadrupeds.


That large animals require a luxuriant vegetation, has
been a general assumption which has passed from one work
to another; but I do not hesitate to say that it is completely
false, and that it has vitiated the reasoning of geologists
on some points of great interest in the ancient history of
the world.  The prejudice has probably been derived from
India, and the Indian islands, where troops of elephants,
noble forests, and impenetrable jungles, are associated together
in every one's mind.  If, however, we refer to any
work of travels through the southern parts of Africa, we
shall find allusions in almost every page either to the desert
character of the country, or to the numbers of large animals
inhabiting it.  The same thing is rendered evident
by the many engravings which have been published of various
parts of the interior.  When the Beagle was at Cape
Town, I made an excursion of some days' length into the
country, which at least was sufficient to render that which
I had read more fully intelligible.

Dr. Andrew Smith, who, at the head of his adventurous
party, has lately succeeded in passing the Tropic of Capricorn,
informs me that, taking into consideration the whole
of the southern part of Africa, there can be no doubt of its
being a sterile country.  On the southern and south-eastern
coasts there are some fine forests, but with these exceptions,
the traveller may pass for days together through open plains,
covered by a poor and scanty vegetation.  It is difficult to
convey any accurate idea of degrees of comparative fertility;
but it may be safely said that the amount of vegetation
supported at any one time [5] by Great Britain, exceeds,
perhaps even tenfold, the quantity on an equal area, in the
interior parts of Southern Africa.  The fact that bullock-
waggons can travel in any direction, excepting near the
coast, without more than occasionally half an hour's delay
in cutting down bushes, gives, perhaps, a more definite notion
of the scantiness of the vegetation.  Now, if we look to the
animals inhabiting these wide plains, we shall find their
numbers extraordinarily great, and their bulk immense.  We
must enumerate the elephant, three species of rhinoceros,
and probably, according to Dr. Smith, two others, the hippopotamus,
the giraffe, the bos caffer — as large as a full-grown
bull, and the elan — but little less, two zebras, and the
quaccha, two gnus, and several antelopes even larger than these
latter animals.  It may be supposed that although the species
are numerous, the individuals of each kind are few.
By the kindness of Dr. Smith, I am enabled to show that
the case is very different.  He informs me, that in lat. 24 degs.,
in one day's march with the bullock-waggons, he saw, without
wandering to any great distance on either side, between
one hundred and one hundred and fifty rhinoceroses, which
belonged to three species: the same day he saw several herds
of giraffes, amounting together to nearly a hundred; and
that although no elephant was observed, yet they are found
in this district.  At the distance of a little more than one
hour's march from their place of encampment on the previous
night, his party actually killed at one spot eight
hippopotamuses, and saw many more.  In this same river there
were likewise crocodiles.  Of course it was a case quite
extraordinary, to see so many great animals crowded together,
but it evidently proves that they must exist in great numbers.
Dr. Smith describes the country passed through that
day, as "being thinly covered with grass, and bushes about
four feet high, and still more thinly with mimosa-trees."
The waggons were not prevented travelling in a nearly
straight line.

Besides these large animals, every one the least acquainted
with the natural history of the Cape, has read of
the herds of antelopes, which can be compared only with the
flocks of migratory birds.  The numbers indeed of the lion,
panther, and hyaena, and the multitude of birds of prey,
plainly speak of the abundance of the smaller quadrupeds:
one evening seven lions were counted at the same time prowling
round Dr. Smith's encampment.  As this able naturalist
remarked to me, the carnage each day in Southern Africa
must indeed be terrific!  I confess it is truly surprising how
such a number of animals can find support in a country
producing so little food.  The larger quadrupeds no doubt
roam over wide tracts in search of it; and their food chiefly
consists of underwood, which probably contains much nutriment
in a small bulk.  Dr. Smith also informs me that the
vegetation has a rapid growth; no sooner is a part consumed,
than its place is supplied by a fresh stock.  There can be
no doubt, however, that our ideas respecting the apparent
amount of food necessary for the support of large quadrupeds
are much exaggerated: it should have been remembered
that the camel, an animal of no mean bulk, has always been
considered as the emblem of the desert.

The belief that where large quadrupeds exist, the vegetation
must necessarily be luxuriant, is the more remarkable,
because the converse is far from true.  Mr. Burchell observed
to me that when entering Brazil, nothing struck him more
forcibly than the splendour of the South American vegetation
contrasted with that of South Africa, together with
the absence of all large quadrupeds.  In his Travels, [6] he has
suggested that the comparison of the respective weights (if
there were sufficient data) of an equal number of the largest
herbivorous quadrupeds of each country would be extremely
curious.  If we take on the one side, the elephant, [7] hippopotamus,
giraffe, bos caffer, elan, certainly three, and probably
five species of rhinoceros; and on the American side,
two tapirs, the guanaco, three deer, the vicuna, peccari,
capybara (after which we must choose from the monkeys to
complete the number), and then place these two groups
alongside each other, it is not easy to conceive ranks more
disproportionate in size.  After the above facts, we are compelled
to conclude, against anterior probability, [8] that among
the mammalia there exists no close relation between the
bulk of the species, and the quantity of the vegetation, in
the countries which they inhabit.

With regard to the number of large quadrupeds, there
certainly exists no quarter of the globe which will bear
comparison with Southern Africa.  After the different statements
which have been given, the extremely desert character
of that region will not be disputed.  In the European division
of the world, we must look back to the tertiary epochs,
to find a condition of things among the mammalia, resembling
that now existing at the Cape of Good Hope.  Those
tertiary epochs, which we are apt to consider as abounding
to an astonishing degree with large animals, because we
find the remains of many ages accumulated at certain spots,
could hardly boast of more large quadrupeds than Southern
Africa does at present.  If we speculate on the condition
of the vegetation during these epochs we are at least bound
so far to consider existing analogies, as not to urge as
absolutely necessary a luxuriant vegetation, when we see
a state of things so totally different at the Cape of Good
Hope.

We know [9] that the extreme regions of North America,
many degrees beyond the limit where the ground at the depth
of a few feet remains perpetually congealed, are covered by
forests of large and tall trees.  In a like manner, in Siberia,
we have woods of birch, fir, aspen, and larch, growing in a
latitude [10] (64 degs.) where the mean temperature of the
air falls below the freezing point, and where the earth is so
completely frozen, that the carcass of an animal embedded in it
is perfectly preserved.  With these facts we must grant, as
far as quantity alone of vegetation is concerned, that the
great quadrupeds of the later tertiary epochs might, in most
parts of Northern Europe and Asia, have lived on the spots
where their remains are now found.  I do not here speak of
the kind of vegetation necessary for their support; because,
as there is evidence of physical changes, and as the animals
have become extinct, so may we suppose that the species of
plants have likewise been changed.

These remarks, I may be permitted to add, directly bear
on the case of the Siberian animals preserved in ice.  The
firm conviction of the necessity of a vegetation possessing
a character of tropical luxuriance, to support such large
animals, and the impossibility of reconciling this with the
proximity of perpetual congelation, was one chief cause of
the several theories of sudden revolutions of climate, and of
overwhelming catastrophes, which were invented to account
for their entombment.  I am far from supposing that the
climate has not changed since the period when those animals
lived, which now lie buried in the ice.  At present I
only wish to show, that as far as quantity of food alone is
concerned, the ancient rhinoceroses might have roamed over
the steppes of central Siberia (the northern parts probably
being under water) even in their present condition, as well
as the living rhinoceroses and elephants over the Karros
of Southern Africa.


I will now give an account of the habits of some of the
more interesting birds which are common on the wild plains
of Northern Patagonia: and first for the largest, or South
American ostrich.  The ordinary habits of the ostrich are
familiar to every one.  They live on vegetable matter, such
as roots and grass; but at Bahia Blanca I have repeatedly
seen three or four come down at low water to the extensive
mud-banks which are then dry, for the sake, as the Gauchos
say, of feeding on small fish.  Although the ostrich in its
habits is so shy, wary, and solitary, and although so fleet
in its pace, it is caught without much difficulty by the Indian
or Gaucho armed with the bolas.  When several horsemen
appear in a semicircle, it becomes confounded, and does
not know which way to escape.  They generally prefer running
against the wind; yet at the first start they expand
their wings, and like a vessel make all sail.  On one fine
hot day I saw several ostriches enter a bed of tall rushes,
where they squatted concealed, till quite closely approached.
It is not generally known that ostriches readily take to the
water.  Mr. King informs me that at the Bay of San Blas,
and at Port Valdes in Patagonia, he saw these birds swimming
several times from island to island.  They ran into
the water both when driven down to a point, and likewise
of their own accord when not frightened: the distance
crossed was about two hundred yards.  When swimming,
very little of their bodies appear above water; their necks
are extended a little forward, and their progress is slow.
On two occasions I saw some ostriches swimming across the
Santa Cruz river, where its course was about four hundred
yards wide, and the stream rapid.  Captain Sturt, [11] when
descending the Murrumbidgee, in Australia, saw two emus
in the act of swimming.

The inhabitants of the country readily distinguish, even
at a distance, the cock bird from the hen.  The former is
larger and darker-coloured, [12] and has a bigger head.  The
ostrich, I believe the cock, emits a singular, deep-toned,
hissing note: when first I heard it, standing in the midst of
some sand-hillocks, I thought it was made by some wild
beast, for it is a sound that one cannot tell whence it comes,
or from how far distant.  When we were at Bahia Blanca
in the months of September and October, the eggs, in
extraordinary numbers, were found all over the country.  They
lie either scattered and single, in which case they are never
hatched, and are called by the Spaniards huachos; or they
are collected together into a shallow excavation, which forms
the nest.  Out of the four nests which I saw, three contained
twenty-two eggs each, and the fourth twenty-seven.
In one day's hunting on horseback sixty-four eggs were
found; forty-four of these were in two nests, and the remaining
twenty, scattered huachos.  The Gauchos unanimously
affirm, and there is no reason to doubt their statement,
that the male bird alone hatches the eggs, and for
some time afterwards accompanies the young.  The cock
when on the nest lies very close; I have myself almost
ridden over one.  It is asserted that at such times they
are occasionally fierce, and even dangerous, and that they
have been known to attack a man on horseback, trying to
kick and leap on him.  My informer pointed out to me an old
man, whom he had seen much terrified by one chasing him.  I
observe in Burchell's travels in South Africa, that he remarks,
"Having killed a male ostrich, and the feathers being
dirty, it was said by the Hottentots to be a nest bird." I
understand that the male emu in the Zoological Gardens
takes charge of the nest: this habit, therefore, is common
to the family.

The Gauchos unanimously affirm that several females
lay in one nest.  I have been positively told that four or
five hen birds have been watched to go in the middle of the
day, one after the other, to the same nest.  I may add, also,
that it is believed in Africa, that two or more females lay
in one nest. [13] Although this habit at first appears very
strange, I think the cause may be explained in a simple
manner.  The number of eggs in the nest varies from twenty
to forty, and even to fifty; and according to Azara, some
times to seventy or eighty.  Now, although it is most probable,
from the number of eggs found in one district being
so extraordinarily great in proportion to the parent birds,
and likewise from the state of the ovarium of the hen, that
she may in the course of the season lay a large number, yet
the time required must be very long.  Azara states, [14] that a
female in a state of domestication laid seventeen eggs, each
at the interval of three days one from another.  If the hen
was obliged to hatch her own eggs, before the last was laid
the first probably would be addled; but if each laid a few
eggs at successive periods, in different nests, and several
hens, as is stated to be the case, combined together, then
the eggs in one collection would be nearly of the same age.
If the number of eggs in one of these nests is, as I believe,
not greater on an average than the number laid by one
female in the season, then there must be as many nests as
females, and each cock bird will have its fair share of the
labour of incubation; and that during a period when the
females probably could not sit, from not having finished
laying. [15] I have before mentioned the great numbers of
huachos, or deserted eggs; so that in one day's hunting
twenty were found in this state.  It appears odd that so
many should be wasted.  Does it not arise from the difficulty
of several females associating together, and finding a male
ready to undertake the office of incubation?  It is evident
that there must at first be some degree of association between
at least two females; otherwise the eggs would remain
scattered over the wide plain, at distances far too great to
allow of the male collecting them into one nest: some authors
have believed that the scattered eggs were deposited
for the young birds to feed on.  This can hardly be the case
in America, because the huachos, although often found
addled and putrid, are generally whole.

When at the Rio Negro in Northern Patagonia, I repeatedly
heard the Gauchos talking of a very rare bird which
they called Avestruz Petise.  They described it as being less
than the common ostrich (which is there abundant), but
with a very close general resemblance.  They said its colour
was dark and mottled, and that its legs were shorter, and
feathered lower down than those of the common ostrich.
It is more easily caught by the bolas than the other species.
The few inhabitants who had seen both kinds, affirmed they
could distinguish them apart from a long distance.  The
eggs of the small species appeared, however, more generally
known; and it was remarked, with surprise, that they were
very little less than those of the Rhea, but of a slightly
different form, and with a tinge of pale blue.  This species occurs
most rarely on the plains bordering the Rio Negro; but about
a degree and a half further south they are tolerably abundant.
When at Port Desire, in Patagonia (lat. 48 degs.), Mr.
Martens shot an ostrich; and I looked at it, forgetting at
the moment, in the most unaccountable manner, the whole
subject of the Petises, and thought it was a not full-grown
bird of the common sort.  It was cooked and eaten before
my memory returned.  Fortunately the head, neck, legs,
wings, many of the larger feathers, and a large part of the
skin, had been preserved; and from these a very nearly perfect
specimen has been put together, and is now exhibited
in the museum of the Zoological Society.  Mr. Gould, in
describing this new species, has done me the honour of
calling it after my name.

Among the Patagonian Indians in the Strait of Magellan,
we found a half Indian, who had lived some years with
the tribe, but had been born in the northern provinces.  I
asked him if he had ever heard of the Avestruz Petise?  He
answered by saying, " Why, there are none others in these
southern countries." He informed me that the number of
eggs in the nest of the petise is considerably less than in that
of the other kind, namely, not more than fifteen on an average,
but he asserted that more than one female deposited
them.  At Santa Cruz we saw several of these birds.  They
were excessively wary: I think they could see a person
approaching when too far off to be distinguished themselves.
In ascending the river few were seen; but in our quiet and
rapid descent, many, in pairs and by fours or fives, were
observed.  It was remarked that this bird did not expand
its wings, when first starting at full speed, after the manner
of the northern kind.  In conclusion I may observe, that
the Struthio rhea inhabits the country of La Plata as far
as a little south of the Rio Negro in lat. 41 degs., and that
the Struthio Darwinii takes its place in Southern Patagonia;
the part about the Rio Negro being neutral territory.  M.
A. d'Orbigny, [16] when at the Rio Negro, made great exertions
to procure this bird, but never had the good fortune to
succeed.  Dobrizhoffer [17] long ago was aware of there being
two kinds of ostriches, he says, "You must know, moreover,
that Emus differ in size and habits in different tracts
of land; for those that inhabit the plains of Buenos Ayres
and Tucuman are larger, and have black, white and grey
feathers; those near to the Strait of Magellan are smaller
and more beautiful, for their white feathers are tipped with
black at the extremity, and their black ones in like manner
terminate in white."

A very singular little bird, Tinochorus rumicivorus, is
here common: in its habits and general appearance, it nearly
equally partakes of the characters, different as they are, of
the quail and snipe.  The Tinochorus is found in the whole
of southern South America, wherever there are sterile plains,
or open dry pasture land.  It frequents in pairs or small
flocks the most desolate places, where scarcely another living
creature can exist.  Upon being approached they squat close,
and then are very difficult to be distinguished from the
ground.  When feeding they walk rather slowly, with their
legs wide apart.  They dust themselves in roads and sandy
places, and frequent particular spots, where they may be
found day after day: like partridges, they take wing in a
flock.  In all these respects, in the muscular gizzard adapted
for vegetable food, in the arched beak and fleshy nostrils,
short legs and form of foot, the Tinochorus has a close affinity
with quails.  But as soon as the bird is seen flying, its
whole appearance changes; the long pointed wings, so different
from those in the gallinaceous order, the irregular
manner of flight, and plaintive cry uttered at the moment
of rising, recall the idea of a snipe.  The sportsmen of the
Beagle unanimously called it the short-billed snipe.  To this
genus, or rather to the family of the Waders, its skeleton
shows that it is really related.

The Tinochorus is closely related to some other South
American birds.  Two species of the genus Attagis are in
almost every respect ptarmigans in their habits; one lives
in Tierra del Fuego, above the limits of the forest land; and
the other just beneath the snow-line on the Cordillera of
Central Chile.  A bird of another closely allied genus, Chionis
alba, is an inhabitant of the antarctic regions; it feeds
on sea-weed and shells on the tidal rocks.  Although not
web footed, from some unaccountable habit, it is frequently
met with far out at sea.  This small family of birds is one
of those which, from its varied relations to other families,
although at present offering only difficulties to the systematic
naturalist, ultimately may assist in revealing the
grand scheme, common to the present and past ages, on
which organized beings have been created.

The genus Furnarius contains several species, all small
birds, living on the ground, and inhabiting open dry countries.
In structure they cannot be compared to any European
form.  Ornithologists have generally included them
among the creepers, although opposed to that family in every
habit.  The best known species is the common oven-bird of
La Plata, the Casara or housemaker of the Spaniards.  The
nest, whence it takes its name, is placed in the most exposed
situations, as on the top of a post, a bare rock, or on
a cactus.  It is composed of mud and bits of straw, and has
strong thick walls: in shape it precisely resembles an oven,
or depressed beehive.  The opening is large and arched,
and directly in front, within the nest, there is a partition,
which reaches nearly to the roof, thus forming a passage
or antechamber to the true nest.

Another and smaller species of Furnarius (F. cunicularius),
resembles the oven-bird in the general reddish tint
of its plumage, in a peculiar shrill reiterated cry, and in an
odd manner of running by starts.  From its affinity, the
Spaniards call it Casarita (or little housebuilder), although
its nidification is quite different.  The Casarita builds its
nest at the bottom of a narrow cylindrical hole, which is
said to extend horizontally to nearly six feet under ground.
Several of the country people told me, that when boys, they
had attempted to dig out the nest, but had scarcely ever
succeeded in getting to the end of the passage.  The bird
chooses any low bank of firm sandy soil by the side of a
road or stream.  Here (at Bahia Blanca) the walls round
the houses are built of hardened mud, and I noticed that
one, which enclosed a courtyard where I lodged, was bored
through by round holes in a score of places.  On asking the
owner the cause of this he bitterly complained of the little
casarita, several of which I afterwards observed at work.
It is rather curious to find how incapable these birds must
be of acquiring any notion of thickness, for although they
were constantly flitting over the low wall, they continued
vainly to bore through it, thinking it an excellent bank for
their nests.  I do not doubt that each bird, as often as it
came to daylight on the opposite side, was greatly surprised
at the marvellous fact.

I have already mentioned nearly all the mammalia common
in this country.  Of armadilloes three species occur
namely, the Dasypus minutus or pichy, the D. villosus or
peludo, and the apar.  The first extends ten degrees further
south than any other kind; a fourth species, the Mulita,
does not come as far south as Bahia Blanca.  The four species
have nearly similar habits; the peludo, however, is nocturnal,
while the others wander by day over the open plains,
feeding on beetles, larvae, roots, and even small snakes.  The
apar, commonly called mataco, is remarkable by having only
three moveable bands; the rest of its tesselated covering
being nearly inflexible.  It has the power of rolling itself
into a perfect sphere, like one kind of English woodlouse.
In this state it is safe from the attack of dogs; for the dog
not being able to take the whole in its mouth, tries to bite
one side, and the ball slips away.  The smooth hard covering
of the mataco offers a better defence than the sharp
spines of the hedgehog.  The pichy prefers a very dry soil;
and the sand-dunes near the coast, where for many months
it can never taste water, is its favourite resort: it often tries
to escape notice, by squatting close to the ground.  In the
course of a day's ride, near Bahia Blanca, several were generally
met with.  The instant one was perceived, it was
necessary, in order to catch it, almost to tumble off one's
horse; for in soft soil the animal burrowed so quickly, that
its hinder quarters would almost disappear before one could
alight.  It seems almost a pity to kill such nice little animals,
for as a Gaucho said, while sharpening his knife on
the back of one, "Son tan mansos" (they are so quiet).

Of reptiles there are many kinds: one snake (a Trigonocephalus,
or Cophias [18]), from the size of the poison channel
in its fangs, must be very deadly.  Cuvier, in opposition to
some other naturalists, makes this a sub-genus of the rattlesnake,
and intermediate between it and the viper.  In confirmation
of this opinion, I observed a fact, which appears
to me very curious and instructive, as showing how every
character, even though it may be in some degree independent
of structure, has a tendency to vary by slow degrees.
The extremity of the tail of this snake is terminated by a
point, which is very slightly enlarged; and as the animal
glides along, it constantly vibrates the last inch; and this
part striking against the dry grass and brushwood, produces
a rattling noise, which can be distinctly heard at the distance
of six feet.  As often as the animal was irritated or
surprised, its tail was shaken; and the vibrations were extremely
rapid.  Even as long as the body retained its irritability,
a tendency to this habitual movement was evident.
This Trigonocephalus has, therefore, in some respects the
structure of a viper, with the habits of a rattlesnake: the
noise, however, being produced by a simpler device.  The
expression of this snake's face was hideous and fierce; the
pupil consisted of a vertical slit in a mottled and coppery
iris; the jaws were broad at the base, and the nose terminated
in a triangular projection.  I do not think I ever saw
anything more ugly, excepting, perhaps, some of the vampire
bats.  I imagine this repulsive aspect originates from
the features being placed in positions, with respect to each
other, somewhat proportional to those of the human face;
and thus we obtain a scale of hideousness.

Amongst the Batrachian reptiles, I found only one little
toad (Phryniscus nigricans), which was most singular from
its colour.  If we imagine, first, that it had been steeped in
the blackest ink, and then, when dry, allowed to crawl over
a board, freshly painted with the brightest vermilion, so
as to colour the soles of its feet and parts of its stomach, a
good idea of its appearance will be gained.  If it had been
an unnamed species, surely it ought to have been called
Diabolicus, for it is a fit toad to preach in the ear of Eve.
Instead of being nocturnal in its habits, as other toads are,
and living in damp obscure recesses, it crawls during the heat
of the day about the dry sand-hillocks and arid plains, where
not a single drop of water can be found.  It must necessarily
depend on the dew for its moisture; and this probably is
absorbed by the skin, for it is known, that these reptiles possess
great powers of cutaneous absorption.  At Maldonado,
I found one in a situation nearly as dry as at Bahia Blanca,
and thinking to give it a great treat, carried it to a pool of
water; not only was the little animal unable to swim, but
I think without help it would soon have been drowned.
Of lizards there were many kinds, but only one (Proctotretus
multimaculatus) remarkable from its habits.  It
lives on the bare sand near the sea coast, and from its mottled
colour, the brownish scales being speckled with white,
yellowish red, and dirty blue, can hardly be distinguished
from the surrounding surface.  When frightened, it attempts
to avoid discovery by feigning death, with outstretched
legs, depressed body, and closed eyes: if further
molested, it buries itself with great quickness in the loose
sand.  This lizard, from its flattened body and short legs,
cannot run quickly.

I will here add a few remarks on the hybernation of animals
in this part of South America.  When we first arrived
at Bahia Blanca, September 7th, 1832, we thought nature
had granted scarcely a living creature to this sandy and dry
country.  By digging, however, in the ground, several insects,
large spiders, and lizards were found in a half-torpid
state.  On the 15th, a few animals began to appear, and by
the 18th (three days from the equinox), everything announced
the commencement of spring.  The plains were ornamented
by the flowers of a pink wood-sorrel, wild peas,
cenotherae, and geraniums; and the birds began to lay their
eggs.  Numerous Lamellicorn and Heteromerous insects, the
latter remarkable for their deeply sculptured bodies, were
slowly crawling about; while the lizard tribe, the constant
inhabitants of a sandy soil, darted about in every direction.
During the first eleven days, whilst nature was dormant, the
mean temperature taken from observations made every two
hours on board the Beagle, was 51 degs.; and in the middle of
the day the thermometer seldom ranged above 55 degs.  On the
eleven succeeding days, in which all living things became so
animated, the mean was 58 degs., and the range in the middle
of the day 7 between 60 and 70 degs.  Here, then, an
increase of seven degrees in mean temperature, but a greater one
of extreme heat, was sufficient to awake the functions of life.
At Monte Video, from which we had just before sailed, in
the twenty-three days included between the 26th of July
and the 19th of August, the mean temperature from 276
observations was 58.4 degs.; the mean hottest day being
65.5 degs., and the coldest 46 degs.  The lowest point to
which the thermometer fell was 41.5 degs., and occasionally
in the middle of the day it rose to 69 or 70 degs.
Yet with this high temperature, almost every beetle, several
genera of spiders, snails, and land-shells, toads and
lizards were all lying torpid beneath stones.  But
we have seen that at Bahia Blanca, which is four degrees
southward and therefore with a climate only a very little
colder, this same temperature with a rather less extreme
heat, was sufficient to awake all orders of animated beings.
This shows how nicely the stimulus required to arouse hybernating
animals is governed by the usual climate of the
district, and not by the absolute heat.  It is well known that
within the tropics, the hybernation, or more properly aestivation,
of animals is determined not by the temperature, but
by the times of drought.  Near Rio de Janeiro, I was at first
surprised to observe, that, a few days after some little
depressions had been filled with water, they were peopled by
numerous full-grown shells and beetles, which must have
been lying dormant.  Humboldt has related the strange accident
of a hovel having been erected over a spot where a
young crocodile lay buried in the hardened mud.  He adds,
"The Indians often find enormous boas, which they call Uji
or water serpents, in the same lethargic state.  To reanimate
them, they must be irritated or wetted with water."

I will only mention one other animal, a zoophyte (I believe
Virgularia Patagonica), a kind of sea-pen.  It consists
of a thin, straight, fleshy stem, with alternate rows of polypi
on each side, and surrounding an elastic stony axis, varying
in length from eight inches to two feet.  The stem at one
extremity is truncate, but at the other is terminated by a
vermiform fleshy appendage.  The stony axis which gives
strength to the stem may be traced at this extremity into a
mere vessel filled with granular matter.  At low water hundreds
of these zoophytes might be seen, projecting like stubble,
with the truncate end upwards, a few inches above the
surface of the muddy sand.  When touched or pulled they
suddenly drew themselves in with force, so as nearly or quite
to disappear.  By this action, the highly elastic axis must
be bent at the lower extremity, where it is naturally slightly
curved; and I imagine it is by this elasticity alone that the
zoophyte is enabled to rise again through the mud.  Each
polypus, though closely united to its brethren, has a distinct
mouth, body, and tentacula.  Of these polypi, in a large
specimen, there must be many thousands; yet we see that
they act by one movement: they have also one central axis
connected with a system of obscure circulation, and the ova
are produced in an organ distinct from the separate
individuals. [19] Well may one be allowed to ask, what is an
individual?  It is always interesting to discover the foundation
of the strange tales of the old voyagers; and I have no doubt
but that the habits of this Virgularia explain one such case.
Captain Lancaster, in his voyage [20] in 1601, narrates that on
the sea-sands of the Island of Sombrero, in the East Indies,
he "found a small twig growing up like a young tree, and
on offering to pluck it up it shrinks down to the ground,
and sinks, unless held very hard.  On being plucked up, a
great worm is found to be its root, and as the tree groweth
in greatness, so doth the worm diminish, and as soon as the
worm is entirely turned into a tree it rooteth in the earth,
and so becomes great.  This transformation is one of the
strangest wonders that I saw in all my travels: for if this
tree is plucked up, while young, and the leaves and bark
stripped off, it becomes a hard stone when dry, much like
white coral: thus is this worm twice transformed into
different natures.  Of these we gathered and brought home
many."


During my stay at Bahia Blanca, while waiting for the
Beagle, the place was in a constant state of excitement, from
rumours of wars and victories, between the troops of Rosas
and the wild Indians.  One day an account came that a small
party forming one of the postas on the line to Buenos Ayres,
had been found all murdered.  The next day three hundred
men arrived from the Colorado, under the command of Commandant
Miranda.  A large portion of these men were Indians
(mansos, or tame), belonging to the tribe of the Cacique
Bernantio.  They passed the night here; and it was
impossible to conceive anything more wild and savage than
the scene of their bivouac.  Some drank till they were
intoxicated; others swallowed the steaming blood of the
cattle slaughtered for their suppers, and then, being sick
from drunkenness, they cast it up again, and were besmeared
with filth and gore.

Nam simul expletus dapibus, vinoque sepultus
Cervicem inflexam posuit, jacuitque per antrum
Immensus, saniem eructans, ac frusta cruenta
Per somnum commixta mero.

In the morning they started for the scene of the murder,
with orders to follow the "rastro," or track, even if it led
them to Chile.  We subsequently heard that the wild Indians
had escaped into the great Pampas, and from some
cause the track had been missed.  One glance at the rastro
tells these people a whole history.  Supposing they examine
the track of a thousand horses, they will soon guess the number
of mounted ones by seeing how many have cantered; by
the depth of the other impressions, whether any horses were
loaded with cargoes; by the irregularity of the footsteps,
how far tired; by the manner in which the food has been
cooked, whether the pursued travelled in haste; by the general
appearance, how long it has been since they passed.
They consider a rastro of ten days or a fortnight, quite
recent enough to be hunted out.  We also heard that Miranda
struck from the west end of the Sierra Ventana, in a direct
line to the island of Cholechel, situated seventy leagues up
the Rio Negro.  This is a distance of between two and three
hundred miles, through a country completely unknown.
What other troops in the world are so independent?  With
the sun for their guide, mare's flesh for food, their saddle-
cloths for beds, — as long as there is a little water, these
men would penetrate to the end of the world.

A few days afterwards I saw another troop of these banditti-like
soldiers start on an expedition against a tribe of
Indians at the small Salinas, who had been betrayed by a
prisoner cacique.  The Spaniard who brought the orders
for this expedition was a very intelligent man.  He gave
me an account of the last engagement at which he was present.
Some Indians, who had been taken prisoners, gave
information of a tribe living north of the Colorado.  Two
hundred soldiers were sent; and they first discovered the
Indians by a cloud of dust from their horses' feet, as they
chanced to be travelling.  The country was mountainous and
wild, and it must have been far in the interior, for the
Cordillera were in sight.  The Indians, men, women, and children,
were about one hundred and ten in number, and they
were nearly all taken or killed, for the soldiers sabre every
man.  The Indians are now so terrified that they offer no
resistance in a body, but each flies, neglecting even his wife
and children; but when overtaken, like wild animals, they
fight against any number to the last moment.  One dying Indian
seized with his teeth the thumb of his adversary, and
allowed his own eye to be forced out sooner than relinquish
his hold.  Another, who was wounded, feigned death, keeping
a knife ready to strike one more fatal blow.  My informer
said, when he was pursuing an Indian, the man cried out
for mercy, at the same time that he was covertly loosing the
bolas from his waist, meaning to whirl it round his head and
so strike his pursuer.  "I however struck him with my sabre
to the ground, and then got off my horse, and cut his throat
with my knife." This is a dark picture; but how much more
shocking is the unquestionable fact, that all the women who
appear above twenty years old are massacred in cold blood!
When I exclaimed that this appeared rather inhuman, he
answered, "Why, what can be done? they breed so!"

Every one here is fully convinced that this is the most
just war, because it is against barbarians.  Who would
believe in this age that such atrocities could be committed in
a Christian civilized country?  The children of the Indians
are saved, to be sold or given away as servants, or rather
slaves for as long a time as the owners can make them
believe themselves slaves; but I believe in their treatment
there is little to complain of.

In the battle four men ran away together.  They were
pursued, one was killed, and the other three were taken alive.
They turned out to be messengers or ambassadors from a
large body of Indians, united in the common cause of
defence, near the Cordillera.  The tribe to which they had
been sent was on the point of holding a grand council, the
feast of mare's flesh was ready, and the dance prepared: in
the morning the ambassadors were to have returned to the
Cordillera.  They were remarkably fine men, very fair, above
six feet high, and all under thirty years of age.  The three
survivors of course possessed very valuable information and
to extort this they were placed in a line.  The two first being
questioned, answered, "No se" (I do not know), and were
one after the other shot.  The third also said " No se;" adding,
"Fire, I am a man, and can die!" Not one syllable
would they breathe to injure the united cause of their country!
The conduct of the above-mentioned cacique was very
different; he saved his life by betraying the intended plan
of warfare, and the point of union in the Andes.  It was
believed that there were already six or seven hundred Indians
together, and that in summer their numbers would be
doubled.  Ambassadors were to have been sent to the Indians
at the small Salinas, near Bahia Blanca, whom I have mentioned
that this same cacique had betrayed.  The communication,
therefore, between the Indians, extends from the
Cordillera to the coast of the Atlantic.

General Rosas's plan is to kill all stragglers, and having
driven the remainder to a common point, to attack them in
a body, in the summer, with the assistance of the Chilenos.
This operation is to be repeated for three successive years.
I imagine the summer is chosen as the time for the main
attack, because the plains are then without water, and the
Indians can only travel in particular directions.  The escape
of the Indians to the south of the Rio Negro, where in such
a vast unknown country they would be safe, is prevented by
a treaty with the Tehuelches to this effect; — that Rosas pays
them so much to slaughter every Indian who passes to the
south of the river, but if they fail in so doing, they
themselves are to be exterminated.  The war is waged chiefly
against the Indians near the Cordillera; for many of the
tribes on this eastern side are fighting with Rosas.  The
general, however, like Lord Chesterfield, thinking that his
friends may in a future day become his enemies, always
places them in the front ranks, so that their numbers may
be thinned.  Since leaving South America we have heard
that this war of extermination completely failed.

Among the captive girls taken in the same engagement,
there were two very pretty Spanish ones, who had been carried
away by the Indians when young, and could now only
speak the Indian tongue.  From their account they must
have come from Salta, a distance in a straight line of nearly
one thousand miles.  This gives one a grand idea of the
immense territory over which the Indians roam: yet, great
as it is, I think there will not, in another half-century, be
a wild Indian northward of the Rio Negro.  The warfare
is too bloody to last; the Christians killing every Indian,
and the Indians doing the same by the Christians.  It is
melancholy to trace how the Indians have given way before
the Spanish invaders.  Schirdel [21] says that in 1535, when
Buenos Ayres was founded, there were villages containing
two and three thousand inhabitants.  Even in Falconer's
time (1750) the Indians made inroads as far as Luxan,
Areco, and Arrecife, but now they are driven beyond the
Salado.  Not only have whole tribes been exterminated, but
the remaining Indians have become more barbarous: instead
of living in large villages, and being employed in the arts of
fishing, as well as of the chase, they now wander about the
open plains, without home or fixed occupation.

I heard also some account of an engagement which took
place, a few weeks previously to the one mentioned, at
Cholechel.  This is a very important station on account of
being a pass for horses; and it was, in consequence, for
some time the head-quarters of a division of the army.
When the troops first arrived there they found a tribe of
Indians, of whom they killed twenty or thirty.  The cacique
escaped in a manner which astonished every one.  The chief
Indians always have one or two picked horses, which they
keep ready for any urgent occasion.  On one of these, an old
white horse, the cacique sprung, taking with him his little
son.  The horse had neither saddle nor bridle.  To avoid the
shots, the Indian rode in the peculiar method of his nation
namely, with an arm round the horse's neck, and one leg
only on its back.  Thus hanging on one side, he was seen
patting the horse's head, and talking to him.  The pursuers
urged every effort in the chase; the Commandant three
times changed his horse, but all in vain.  The old Indian
father and his son escaped, and were free.  What a fine picture
one can form in one's mind, — the naked, bronze-like
figure of the old man with his little boy, riding like a
Mazeppa on the white horse, thus leaving far behind him the
host of his pursuers!

I saw one day a soldier striking fire with a piece of flint,
which I immediately recognised as having been a part of the
head of an arrow.  He told me it was found near the island
of Cholechel, and that they are frequently picked up there.
It was between two and three inches long, and therefore
twice as large as those now used in Tierra del Fuego: it was
made of opaque cream-coloured flint, but the point and barbs
had been intentionally broken off.  It is well known that no
Pampas Indians now use bows and arrows.  I believe a small
tribe in Banda Oriental must be excepted; but they are
widely separated from the Pampas Indians, and border close
on those tribes that inhabit the forest, and live on foot.  It
appears, therefore, that these arrow-heads are antiquarian [22]
relics of the Indians, before the great change in habits
consequent on the introduction of the horse into South
America.

[1] Since this was written, M. Alcide d'Orbingy has examined
these shells, and pronounces them all to be recent.

[2] M. Aug. Bravard has described, in a Spanish work
('Observaciones Geologicas,' 1857), this district, and he
believes that the bones of the extinct mammals were washed
out of the underlying Pampean deposit, and subsequently became
embedded with the still existing shells; but I am not convinced
by his remarks.  M. Bravard believes that the whole enormous
Pampean deposit is a sub-aerial formation, like sand-dunes: this
seems to me to be an untenable doctrine.

[3] Principles of Geology, vol. iv. p. 40.

[4] This theory was first developed in the Zoology of the
Voyage of the Beagle, and subsequently in Professor Owen's
Memoir on Mylodon robustus.

[5] I mean this to exclude the total amount which may have been
successively produced and consumed during a given period.

[6] Travels in the Interior of South Africa, vol. ii. p. 207

[7] The elephant which was killed at Exeter Change was
estimated (being partly weighed) at five tons and a half.
The elephant actress, as I was informed, weighed one ton less;
so that we may take five as the average of a full-grown
elephant.  I was told at the Surry Gardens, that a hippopotamus
which was sent to England cut up into pieces was estimated at
three tons and a half; we will call it three.  From these
premises we may give three tons and a half to each of the five
rhinoceroses; perhaps a ton to the giraffe, and half to the
bos caffer as well as to the elan (a large ox weighs from
1200 to 1500 pounds).  This will give an average (from the above
estimates) of 2.7 of a ton for the ten largest herbivorous
animals of Southern Africa.  In South America, allowing 1200
pounds for the two tapirs together, 550 for the guanaco and
vicuna, 500 for three deer, 300 for the capybara, peccari, and
a monkey, we shall have an average of 250 pounds, which I
believe is overstating the result.  The ratio will therefore
be as 6048 to 250, or 24 to 1, for the ten largest animals
from the two continents.

[8] If we suppose the case of the discovery of a skeleton of
a Greenland whale in a fossil state, not a single cetaceous
animal being known to exist, what naturalist would have ventured
conjecture on the possibility of a carcass so gigantic being
supported on the minute crustacea and mollusca living in the
frozen seas of the extreme North?

[9] See Zoological Remarks to Capt. Back's Expedition, by Dr.
Richardson.  He says, "The subsoil north of latitude 56 degs.
is perpetually frozen, the thaw on the coast not penetrating
above three feet, and at Bear Lake, in latitude 64 degs., not
more than twenty inches.  The frozen substratum does not of
itself destroy vegetation, for forests flourish on the surface,
at a distance from the coast."

[10] See Humboldt, Fragments Asiatiques, p. 386: Barton's
Geography of Plants: and Malte Brun.  In the latter work it is
said that the limit of the growth of trees in Siberia may be
drawn under the parallel of 70 degs.

[11] Sturt's Travels, vol. ii. p. 74.

[12] A Gucho assured me that he had once seen a snow-white or
Albino variety, and that it was a most beautiful bird.

[13] Burchell's Travels, vol. i. p. 280.

[14] Azara, vol. iv. p. 173.

[15] Lichtenstein, however, asserts (Travels, vol. ii. p. 25)
that the hens begin sitting when they have laid ten or twelve
eggs; and that they continue laying, I presume, in another
nest.  This appears to me very improbable.  He asserts that four
or five hens associate for incubation with one cock, who sits
only at night.

[16] When at the Rio Negro, we heard much of the indefatigable
labours of this naturalist.  M. Aleide d'Orbigny, during the
years 1825 to 1833, traversed several large portions of South
America, and has made a collection, and is now publishing the
results on a scale of magnificence, which at once places himself
in the list of American travellers second only to Humboldt.

[17] Account of the Abipones, A.D. 1749, vol. i. (English
Translation) p. 314

[18] M. Bibron calls it T. crepitans.


[19] The cavities leading from the fleshy compartments of
the extremity, were filled with a yellow pulpy matter, which,
examined under a microscope, presented an extraordinary
appearance.  The mass consisted of rounded, semi-transparent,
irregular grains, aggregated together into particles of
various sizes.  All such particles, and the separate grains,
possessed the power of rapid movement; generally revolving
around different axes, but sometimes progressive.  The movement
was visible with a very weak power, but even with the highest
its cause could not be perceived.  It was very different from
the circulation of the fluid in the elastic bag, containing
the thin extremity of the axis.  On other occasions, when
dissecting small marine animals beneath the microscope, I have
seen particles of pulpy matter, some of large size, as soon as
they were disengaged, commence revolving.  I have imagined, I know
not with how much truth, that this granulo-pulpy matter was in
process of being converted into ova.  Certainly in this zoophyte
such appeared to be the case.

[20] Kerr's Collection of Voyages, vol. viii. p. 119.

[21] Purchas's Collection of Voyages.  I believe the date was
really 1537.

[22] Azara has even doubted whether the Pampas Indians ever
used bows.



CHAPTER VI

BAHIA BLANCA TO BUENOS AYRES

Set out for Buenos Ayres — Rio Sauce — Sierra Ventana —
Third Posta — Driving Horses — Bolas — Partridges and
Foxes — Features of the Country — Long-legged Plover —
Teru-tero — Hail-storm — Natural Enclosures in the Sierra
Tapalguen — Flesh of Puma — Meat Diet — Guardia del
Monte — Effects of Cattle on the Vegetation — Cardoon —
Buenos Ayres — Corral where Cattle are Slaughtered.


SEPTEMBER 18th. — I hired a Gaucho to accompany me
on my ride to Buenos Ayres, though with some difficulty,
as the father of one man was afraid to let him
go, and another, who seemed willing, was described to me
as so fearful, that I was afraid to take him, for I was told
that even if he saw an ostrich at a distance, he would mistake
it for an Indian, and would fly like the wind away.
The distance to Buenos Ayres is about four hundred miles,
and nearly the whole way through an uninhabited country.
We started early in the morning; ascending a few hundred
feet from the basin of green turf on which Bahia Blanca
stands, we entered on a wide desolate plain.  It consists of
a crumbling argillaceo-calcareous rock, which, from the dry
nature of the climate, supports only scattered tufts of withered
grass, without a single bush or tree to break the monotonous
uniformity.  The weather was fine, but the atmosphere
remarkably hazy; I thought the appearance foreboded
a gale, but the Gauchos said it was owing to the plain, at
some great distance in the interior, being on fire.  After a
long gallop, having changed horses twice, we reached the Rio
Sauce: it is a deep, rapid, little stream, not above twenty-five
feet wide.  The second posta on the road to Buenos Ayres
stands on its banks, a little above there is a ford for horses,
where the water does not reach to the horses' belly; but from
that point, in its course to the sea, it is quite impassable,
and hence makes a most useful barrier against the Indians.

Insignificant as this stream is, the Jesuit Falconer, whose
information is generally so very correct, figures it as a
considerable river, rising at the foot of the Cordillera.  With
respect to its source, I do not doubt that this is the case
for the Gauchos assured me, that in the middle of the dry
summer, this stream, at the same time with the Colorado
has periodical floods; which can only originate in the snow
melting on the Andes.  It is extremely improbable that a
stream so small as the Sauce then was, should traverse the
entire width of the continent; and indeed, if it were the
residue of a large river, its waters, as in other ascertained
cases, would be saline.  During the winter we must look to
the springs round the Sierra Ventana as the source of its
pure and limpid stream.  I suspect the plains of Patagonia
like those of Australia, are traversed by many water-courses
which only perform their proper parts at certain periods.
Probably this is the case with the water which flows into the
head of Port Desire, and likewise with the Rio Chupat, on
the banks of which masses of highly cellular scoriae were
found by the officers employed in the survey.

As it was early in the afternoon when we arrived, we
took fresh horses, and a soldier for a guide, and started for
the Sierra de la Ventana.  This mountain is visible from
the anchorage at Bahia Blanca; and Capt. Fitz Roy calculates
its height to be 3340 feet — an altitude very remarkable
on this eastern side of the continent.  I am not aware
that any foreigner, previous to my visit, had ascended this
mountain; and indeed very few of the soldiers at Bahia
Blanca knew anything about it.  Hence we heard of beds
of coal, of gold and silver, of caves, and of forests, all of
which inflamed my curiosity, only to disappoint it.  The
distance from the posta was about six leagues over a level
plain of the same character as before.  The ride was, however,
interesting, as the mountain began to show its true
form.  When we reached the foot of the main ridge, we had
much difficulty in finding any water, and we thought we
should have been obliged to have passed the night without
any.  At last we discovered some by looking close to the
mountain, for at the distance even of a few hundred yards
the streamlets were buried and entirely lost in the friable
calcareous stone and loose detritus.  I do not think Nature
ever made a more solitary, desolate pile of rock; — it well
deserves its name of Hurtado, or separated.  The mountain
is steep, extremely rugged, and broken, and so entirely destitute
of trees, and even bushes, that we actually could not
make a skewer to stretch out our meat over the fire of thistle-
stalks. [1] The strange aspect of this mountain is contrasted
by the sea-like plain, which not only abuts against its steep
sides, but likewise separates the parallel ranges.  The uniformity
of the colouring gives an extreme quietness to the
view, — the whitish grey of the quartz rock, and the light
brown of the withered grass of the plain, being unrelieved
by any brighter tint.  From custom, one expects to see in
the neighbourhood of a lofty and bold mountain, a broken
country strewed over with huge fragments.  Here nature
shows that the last movement before the bed of the sea is
changed into dry land may sometimes be one of tranquillity.
Under these circumstances I was curious to observe how
far from the parent rock any pebbles could be found.  On
the shores of Bahia Blanca, and near the settlement, there
were some of quartz, which certainly must have come from
this source: the distance is forty-five miles.

The dew, which in the early part of the night wetted the
saddle-cloths under which we slept, was in the morning
frozen.  The plain, though appearing horizontal, had insensibly
sloped up to a height of between 800 and 900 feet
above the sea.  In the morning (9th of September) the guide
told me to ascend the nearest ridge, which he thought would
lead me to the four peaks that crown the summit.  The climbing
up such rough rocks was very fatiguing; the sides
were so indented, that what was gained in one five minutes
was often lost in the next.  At last, when I reached the ridge,
my disappointment was extreme in finding a precipitous
valley as deep as the plain, which cut the chain transversely
in two, and separated me from the four points.  This valley
is very narrow, but flat-bottomed, and it forms a fine horse-
pass for the Indians, as it connects the plains on the northern
and southern sides of the range.  Having descended, and
while crossing it, I saw two horses grazing: I immediately
hid myself in the long grass, and began to reconnoitre; but
as I could see no signs of Indians I proceeded cautiously on
my second ascent.  It was late in the day, and this part of
the mountain, like the other, was steep and rugged.  I was
on the top of the second peak by two o'clock, but got there
with extreme difficulty; every twenty yards I had the cramp
in the upper part of both thighs, so that I was afraid I
should not have been able to have got down again.  It was
also necessary to return by another road, as it was out of
the question to pass over the saddle-back.  I was therefore
obliged to give up the two higher peaks.  Their altitude was
but little greater, and every purpose of geology had been
answered; so that the attempt was not worth the hazard
of any further exertion.  I presume the cause of the cramp
was the great change in the kind of muscular action, from
that of hard riding to that of still harder climbing.  It is
a lesson worth.  remembering, as in some cases it might cause
much difficulty.

I have already said the mountain is composed of white
quartz rock, and with it a little glossy clay-slate is
associated.  At the height of a few hundred feet above the plain
patches of conglomerate adhered in several places to the
solid rock.  They resembled in hardness, and in the nature
of the cement, the masses which may be seen daily forming
on some coasts.  I do not doubt these pebbles were in a similar
manner aggregated, at a period when the great calcareous
formation was depositing beneath the surrounding sea.
We may believe that the jagged and battered forms of the
hard quartz yet show the effects of the waves of an open
ocean.

I was, on the whole, disappointed with this ascent.  Even
the view was insignificant; — a plain like the sea, but without
its beautiful colour and defined outline.  The scene, however,
was novel, and a little danger, like salt to meat, gave
it a relish.  That the danger was very little was certain, for
my two companions made a good fire — a thing which is never
done when it is suspected that Indians are near.  I reached
the place of our bivouac by sunset, and drinking much mate,
and smoking several cigaritos, soon made up my bed for the
night.  The wind was very strong and cold, but I never slept
more comfortably.

September 10th. — In the morning, having fairly scudded
before the gale, we arrived by the middle of the day at the
Sauce posta.  In the road we saw great numbers of deer,
and near the mountain a guanaco.  The plain, which abuts
against the Sierra, is traversed by some curious gullies, of
which one was about twenty feet wide, and at least thirty
deep; we were obliged in consequence to make a considerable
circuit before we could find a pass.  We stayed the night
at the posta, the conversation, as was generally the case,
being about the Indians.  The Sierra Ventana was formerly
a great place of resort; and three or four years ago there
was much fighting there.  My guide had been present when
many Indians were killed: the women escaped to the top of
the ridge, and fought most desperately with great stones;
many thus saving themselves.

September 11th. — Proceeded to the third posta in company
with the lieutenant who commanded it.  The distance
is called fifteen leagues; but it is only guess-work, and is
generally overstated.  The road was uninteresting, over a
dry grassy plain; and on our left hand at a greater or less
distance there were some low hills; a continuation of which
we crossed close to the posta.  Before our arrival we met
a large herd of cattle and horses, guarded by fifteen soldiers;
but we were told many had been lost.  It is very difficult to
drive animals across the plains; for if in the night a puma,
or even a fox, approaches, nothing can prevent the horses
dispersing in every direction; and a storm will have the
same effect.  A short time since, an officer left Buenos Ayres
with five hundred horses, and when he arrived at the army
he had under twenty.

Soon afterwards we perceived by the cloud of dust, that
a party of horsemen were coming towards us; when far distant
my companions knew them to be Indians, by their long
hair streaming behind their backs.  The Indians generally
have a fillet round their heads, but never any covering; and
their black hair blowing across their swarthy faces, heightens
to an uncommon degree the wildness of their appearance.
They turned out to be a party of Bernantio's friendly tribe,
going to a salina for salt.  The Indians eat much salt, their
children sucking it like sugar.  This habit is very different
from that of the Spanish Gauchos, who, leading the same
kind of life, eat scarcely any; according to Mungo Park, [2]
it is people who live on vegetable food who have an unconquerable
desire for salt.  The Indians gave us good-humoured
nods as they passed at full gallop, driving before them a
troop of horses, and followed by a train of lanky dogs.

September 12th and 13th. — I stayed at this posta two days,
waiting for a troop of soldiers, which General Rosas had
the kindness to send to inform me, would shortly travel to
Buenos Ayres; and he advised me to take the opportunity
of the escort.  In the morning we rode to some neighbouring
hills to view the country, and to examine the geology.  After
dinner the soldiers divided themselves into two parties for
a trial of skill with the bolas.  Two spears were stuck in
the ground twenty-five yards apart, but they were struck
and entangled only once in four or five times.  The balls can
be thrown fifty or sixty yards, but with little certainty.
This, however, does not apply to a man on horseback; for when
the speed of the horse is added to the force of the arm, it
is said, that they can be whirled with effect to the distance
of eighty yards.  As a proof of their force, I may mention,
that at the Falkland Islands, when the Spaniards murdered
some of their own countrymen and all the Englishmen, a
young friendly Spaniard was running away, when a great
tall man, by name Luciano, came at full gallop after him,
shouting to him to stop, and saying that he only wanted to
speak to him.  Just as the Spaniard was on the point of
reaching the boat, Luciano threw the balls: they struck him
on the legs with such a jerk, as to throw him down and
to render him for some time insensible.  The man, after
Luciano had had his talk, was allowed to escape.  He told
us that his legs were marked by great weals, where the thong
had wound round, as if he had been flogged with a whip.
In the middle of the day two men arrived, who brought a
parcel from the next posta to be forwarded to the general:
so that besides these two, our party consisted this evening
of my guide and self, the lieutenant, and his four soldiers.
The latter were strange beings; the first a fine young negro;
the second half Indian and negro; and the two others non-
descripts; namely, an old Chilian miner, the colour of mahogany,
and another partly a mulatto; but two such mongrels
with such detestable expressions, I never saw before.
At night, when they were sitting round the fire, and playing
at cards, I retired to view such a Salvator Rosa scene.  They
were seated under a low cliff, so that I could look down
upon them; around the party were lying dogs, arms, remnants
of deer and ostriches; and their long spears were stuck
in the turf.  Further in the dark background, their horses
were tied up, ready for any sudden danger.  If the stillness
of the desolate plain was broken by one of the dogs barking,
a soldier, leaving the fire, would place his head close to the
ground, and thus slowly scan the horizon.  Even if the noisy
teru-tero uttered its scream, there would be a pause in the
conversation, and every head, for a moment, a little inclined.

What a life of misery these men appear to us to lead!
They were at least ten leagues from the Sauce posta, and
since the murder committed by the Indians, twenty from
another.  The Indians are supposed to have made their attack
in the middle of the night; for very early in the morning
after the murder, they were luckily seen approaching
this posta.  The whole party here, however, escaped, together
with the troop of horses; each one taking a line for himself,
and driving with him as many animals as he was able to
manage.

The little hovel, built of thistle-stalks, in which they slept,
neither kept out the wind nor rain; indeed in the latter case
the only effect the roof had, was to condense it into larger
drops.  They had nothing to eat excepting what they could
catch, such as ostriches, deer, armadilloes, etc., and their
only fuel was the dry stalks of a small plant, somewhat
resembling an aloe.  The sole luxury which these men enjoyed
was smoking the little paper cigars, and sucking mate.  I
used to think that the carrion vultures, man's constant
attendants on these dreary plains, while seated on the little
neighbouring cliffs seemed by their very patience to say,
"Ah! when the Indians come we shall have a feast."

In the morning we all sallied forth to hunt, and although
we had not much success, there were some animated chases.
Soon after starting the party separated, and so arranged
their plans, that at a certain time of the day (in guessing
which they show much skill) they should all meet from different
points of the compass on a plain piece of ground,
and thus drive together the wild animals.  One day I went
out hunting at Bahia Blanca, but the men there merely rode
in a crescent, each being about a quarter of a mile apart
from the other.  A fine male ostrich being turned by the
headmost riders, tried to escape on one side.  The Gauchos
pursued at a reckless pace, twisting their horses about with
the most admirable command, and each man whirling the
balls round his head.  At length the foremost threw them,
revolving through the air: in an instant the ostrich rolled
over and over, its legs fairly lashed together by the thong.
The plains abound with three kinds of partridge, [3] two
of which are as large as hen pheasants.  Their destroyer,
a small and pretty fox, was also singularly numerous; in
the course of the day we could not have seen less than forty
or fifty.  They were generally near their earths, but the dogs
killed one.  When we returned to the posta, we found two
of the party returned who had been hunting by themselves.
They had killed a puma, and had found an ostrich's nest with
twenty-seven eggs in it.  Each of these is said to equal in
weight eleven hen's eggs; so that we obtained from this one
nest as much food as 297 hen's eggs would have given.

September 14th. — As the soldiers belonging to the next
posta meant to return, and we should together make a party
of five, and all armed, I determined not to wait for the expected
troops.  My host, the lieutenant, pressed me much
to stop.  As he had been very obliging — not only providing
me with food, but lending me his private horses — I wanted
to make him some remuneration.  I asked my guide whether
I might do so, but he told me certainly not; that the only
answer I should receive, probably would be, "We have meat
for the dogs in our country, and therefore do not grudge it
to a Christian." It must not be supposed that the rank of
lieutenant in such an army would at all prevent the acceptance
of payment: it was only the high sense of hospitality,
which every traveller is bound to acknowledge as nearly universal
throughout these provinces.  After galloping some
leagues, we came to a low swampy country, which extends
for nearly eighty miles northward, as far as the Sierra
Tapalguen.  In some parts there were fine damp plains, covered
with grass, while others had a soft, black, and peaty soil.
There were also many extensive but shallow lakes, and large
beds of reeds.  The country on the whole resembled the better
parts of the Cambridgeshire fens.  At night we had some
difficulty in finding amidst the swamps, a dry place for our
bivouac.

September 15th. — Rose very early in the morning and
shortly after passed the posta where the Indians had murdered
the five soldiers.  The officer had eighteen chuzo
wounds in his body.  By the middle of the day, after a hard
gallop, we reached the fifth posta: on account of some difficulty
in procuring horses we stayed there the night.  As this
point was the most exposed on the whole line, twenty-one
soldiers were stationed here; at sunset they returned from
hunting, bringing with them seven deer, three ostriches, and
many armadilloes and partridges.  When riding through the
country, it is a common practice to set fire to the plain;
and hence at night, as on this occasion, the horizon was
illuminated in several places by brilliant conflagrations.
This is done partly for the sake of puzzling any stray Indians,
but chiefly for improving the pasture.  In grassy
plains unoccupied by the larger ruminating quadrupeds, it
seems necessary to remove the superfluous vegetation by fire,
so as to render the new year's growth serviceable.

The rancho at this place did not boast even of a roof,
but merely consisted of a ring of thistle-stalks, to break
the force of the wind.  It was situated on the borders of an
extensive but shallow lake, swarming with wild fowl, among
which the black-necked swan was conspicuous.

The kind of plover, which appears as if mounted on
stilts (Himantopus nigricollis), is here common in flocks of
considerable size.  It has been wrongfully accused of inelegance;
when wading about in shallow water, which is its
favourite resort, its gait is far from awkward.  These birds
in a flock utter a noise, that singularly resembles the cry of
a pack of small dogs in full chase: waking in the night, I
have more than once been for a moment startled at the distant
sound.  The teru-tero (Vanellus cayanus) is another
bird, which often disturbs the stillness of the night.  In
appearance and habits it resembles in many respects our peewits;
its wings, however, are armed with sharp spurs, like
those on the legs of the common cock.  As our peewit takes
its name from the sound of its voice, so does the teru-tero.
While riding over the grassy plains, one is constantly pursued
by these birds, which appear to hate mankind, and I
am sure deserve to be hated for their never-ceasing, unvaried,
harsh screams.  To the sportsman they are most annoying,
by telling every other bird and animal of his approach: to
the traveller in the country, they may possibly, as Molina
says, do good, by warning him of the midnight robber.  During
the breeding season, they attempt, like our peewits, by
feigning to be wounded, to draw away from their nests dogs
and other enemies.  The eggs of this bird are esteemed a
great delicacy.

September 16th. — To the seventh posta at the foot of the
Sierra Tapalguen.  The country was quite level, with a
coarse herbage and a soft peaty soil.  The hovel was here
remarkably neat, the posts and rafters being made of about
a dozen dry thistle-stalks bound together with thongs of
hide; and by the support of these Ionic-like columns, the
roof and sides were thatched with reeds.  We were here told
a fact, which I would not have credited, if I had not had
partly ocular proof of it; namely, that, during the previous
night hail as large as small apples, and extremely hard, had
fallen with such violence, as to kill the greater number of the
wild animals.  One of the men had already found thirteen
deer (Cervus campestris) lying dead, and I saw their fresh
hides; another of the party, a few minutes after my arrival
brought in seven more.  Now I well know, that one man
without dogs could hardly have killed seven deer in a week.
The men believed they had seen about fifteen ostriches (part
of one of which we had for dinner); and they said that
several were running about evidently blind in one eye.
Numbers of smaller birds, as ducks, hawks, and partridges,
were killed.  I saw one of the latter with a black mark on
its back, as if it had been struck with a paving-stone.  A
fence of thistle-stalks round the hovel was nearly broken
down, and my informer, putting his head out to see what was
the matter, received a severe cut, and now wore a bandage.
The storm was said to have been of limited extent: we
certainly saw from our last night's bivouac a dense cloud
and lightning in this direction.  It is marvellous how such
strong animals as deer could thus have been killed; but I
have no doubt, from the evidence I have given, that the
story is not in the least exaggerated.  I am glad, however,
to have its credibility supported by the Jesuit Dobrizhoffen, [4]
who, speaking of a country much to the northward, says,
hail fell of an enormous size and killed vast numbers of cattle:
the Indians hence called the place Lalegraicavalca, meaning
"the little white things." Dr. Malcolmson, also, informs me
that he witnessed in 1831 in India, a hail-storm, which
killed numbers of large birds and much injured the cattle.
These hailstones were flat, and one was ten inches in
circumference, and another weighed two ounces.  They
ploughed up a gravel-walk like musket-balls, and passed
through glass-windows, making round holes, but not cracking
them.

Having finished our dinner, of hail-stricken meat, we
crossed the Sierra Tapalguen; a low range of hills, a few
hundred feet in height, which commences at Cape Corrientes.
The rock in this part is pure quartz; further eastward I
understand it is granitic.  The hills are of a remarkable
form; they consist of flat patches of table-land, surrounded
by low perpendicular cliffs, like the outliers of a sedimentary
deposit.  The hill which I ascended was very small, not
above a couple of hundred yards in diameter; but I saw
others larger.  One which goes by the name of the "Corral,"
is said to be two or three miles in diameter, and encompassed
by perpendicular cliffs, between thirty and forty feet high,
excepting at one spot, where the entrance lies.  Falconer [5]
gives a curious account of the Indians driving troops of
wild horses into it, and then by guarding the entrance, keeping
them secure.  I have never heard of any other instance
of table-land in a formation of quartz, and which, in the
hill I examined, had neither cleavage nor stratification.  I
was told that the rock of the "Corral" was white, and would
strike fire.

We did not reach the posta on the Rio Tapalguen till
after it was dark.  At supper, from something which was
said, I was suddenly struck with horror at thinking that I
was eating one of the favourite dishes of the country
namely, a half-formed calf, long before its proper time of
birth.  It turned out to be Puma; the meat is very white
and remarkably like veal in taste.  Dr. Shaw was laughed
at for stating that "the flesh of the lion is in great esteem
having no small affinity with veal, both in colour, taste,
and flavour." Such certainly is the case with the Puma.
The Gauchos differ in their opinion, whether the Jaguar is
good eating, but are unanimous in saying that cat is excellent.

September 17th.  — We followed the course of the Rio
Tapalguen, through a very fertile country, to the ninth
posta.  Tapalguen, itself, or the town of Tapalguen, if it
may be so called, consists of a perfectly level plain, studded
over, as far as the eye can reach, with the toldos or
oven-shaped huts of the Indians.  The families of the friendly
Indians, who were fighting on the side of Rosas, resided
here.  We met and passed many young Indian women, riding
by two or three together on the same horse: they, as
well as many of the young men, were strikingly handsome, —
their fine ruddy complexions being the picture of health.
Besides the toldos, there were three ranchos; one inhabited
by the Commandant, and the two others by Spaniards with
small shops.

We were here able to buy some biscuit.  I had now been
several days without tasting anything besides meat: I did
not at all dislike this new regimen; but I felt as if it would
only have agreed with me with hard exercise.  I have heard
that patients in England, when desired to confine themselves
exclusively to an animal diet, even with the hope of life
before their eyes, have hardly been able to endure it.  Yet
the Gaucho in the Pampas, for months together, touches
nothing but beef.  But they eat, I observe, a very large
proportion of fat, which is of a less animalized nature; and
they particularly dislike dry meat, such as that of the Agouti.
Dr. Richardson [6] also, has remarked, "that when people
have fed for a long time solely upon lean animal food, the
desire for fat becomes so insatiable, that they can consume
a large quantity of unmixed and even oily fat without
nausea:" this appears to me a curious physiological fact.
It is, perhaps, from their meat regimen that the Gauchos,
like other carnivorous animals, can abstain long from food.
I was told that at Tandeel, some troops voluntarily pursued
a party of Indians for three days, without eating or drinking.

We saw in the shops many articles, such as horsecloths,
belts, and garters, woven by the Indian women.  The patterns
were very pretty, and the colours brilliant; the workmanship
of the garters was so good that an English merchant
at Buenos Ayres maintained they must have been
manufactured in England, till he found the tassels had been
fastened by split sinew.

September 18th. — We had a very long ride this day.  At
the twelfth posta, which is seven leagues south of the Rio
Salado, we came to the first estancia with cattle and white
women.  Afterwards we had to ride for many miles through
a country flooded with water above our horses' knees.  By
crossing the stirrups, and riding Arab-like with our legs
bent up, we contrived to keep tolerably dry.  It was nearly
dark when we arrived at the Salado; the stream was deep,
and about forty yards wide; in summer, however, its bed
becomes almost dry, and the little remaining water nearly
as salt as that of the sea.  We slept at one of the great
estancias of General Rosas.  It was fortified, and of such an
extent, that arriving in the dark I thought it was a town
and fortress.  In the morning we saw immense herds of
cattle, the general here having seventy-four square leagues
of land.  Formerly nearly three hundred men were employed
about this estate, and they defied all the attacks of
the Indians.

September 19th. — Passed the Guardia del Monte.  This
is a nice scattered little town, with many gardens, full of
peach and quince trees.  The plain here looked like that
around Buenos Ayres; the turf being short and bright green,
with beds of clover and thistles, and with bizcacha holes.
I was very much struck with the marked change in the
aspect of the country after having crossed the Salado.  From
a coarse herbage we passed on to a carpet of fine green verdure.
I at first attributed this to some change in the nature
of the soil, but the inhabitants assured me that here, as
well as in Banda Oriental, where there is as great a difference
between the country round Monte Video and the
thinly-inhabited savannahs of Colonia, the whole was to be
attributed to the manuring and grazing of the cattle.  Exactly
the same fact has been observed in the prairies [7] of
North America, where coarse grass, between five and six
feet high, when grazed by cattle, changes into common pasture
land.  I am not botanist enough to say whether the
change here is owing to the introduction of new species,
to the altered growth of the same, or to a difference in their
proportional numbers.  Azara has also observed with astonishment
this change: he is likewise much perplexed by the
immediate appearance of plants not occurring in the neighbourhood,
on the borders of any track that leads to a newly-
constructed hovel.  In another part he says, [8] "ces chevaux
(sauvages) ont la manie de preferer les chemins, et le bord
des routes pour deposer leurs excremens, dont on trouve des
monceaux dans ces endroits." Does this not partly explain
the circumstance?  We thus have lines of richly manured
land serving as channels of communication across wide districts.

Near the Guardia we find the southern limit of two European
plants, now become extraordinarily common.  The
fennel in great profusion covers the ditch-banks in the
neighbourhood of Buenos Ayres, Monte Video, and other towns.
But the cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) has a far wider
range: [9] it occurs in these latitudes on both sides of the,
Cordillera, across the continent.  I saw it in unfrequented
spots in Chile, Entre Rios, and Banda Oriental.  In the
latter country alone, very many (probably several hundred)
square miles are covered by one mass of these prickly plants,
and are impenetrable by man or beast.  Over the undulating
plains, where these great beds occur, nothing else can now
live.  Before their introduction, however, the surface must
have supported, as in other parts, a rank herbage.  I doubt
whether any case is on record of an invasion on so grand
a scale of one plant over the aborigines.  As I have already
said, I nowhere saw the cardoon south of the Salado; but
it is probable that in proportion as that country becomes
inhabited, the cardoon will extend its limits.  The case is
different with the giant thistle (with variegated leaves) of
the Pampas, for I met with it in the valley of the Sauce.
According to the principles so well laid down by Mr. Lyell,
few countries have undergone more remarkable changes,
since the year 1535, when the first colonist of La Plata landed
with seventy-two horses.  The countless herds of horses,
cattle, and sheep, not only have altered the whole aspect of
the vegetation, but they have almost banished the guanaco,
deer and ostrich.  Numberless other changes must likewise
have taken place; the wild pig in some parts probably replaces
the peccari; packs of wild dogs may be heard howling
on the wooded banks of the less-frequented streams; and
the common cat, altered into a large and fierce animal, inhabits
rocky hills.  As M. d'Orbigny has remarked, the increase
in numbers of the carrion-vulture, since the introduction
of the domestic animals, must have been infinitely great;
and we have given reasons for believing that they have extended
their southern range.  No doubt many plants, besides
the cardoon and fennel, are naturalized; thus the islands
near the mouth of the Parana, are thickly clothed with
peach and orange trees, springing from seeds carried there
by the waters of the river.

While changing horses at the Guardia several people questioned
us much about the army, — I never saw anything like
the enthusiasm for Rosas, and for the success of the "most
just of all wars, because against barbarians." This expression,
it must be confessed, is very natural, for till lately,
neither man, woman nor horse, was safe from the attacks
of the Indians.  We had a long day's ride over the same
rich green plain, abounding with various flocks, and with
here and there a solitary estancia, and its one ombu tree.
In the evening it rained heavily: on arriving at a posthouse
we were told by the owner, that if we had not a
regular passport we must pass on, for there were so
many robbers he would trust no one.  When he read, however,
my passport, which began with "El Naturalista Don
Carlos," his respect and civility were as unbounded as his
suspicions had been before.  What a naturalist might be,
neither he nor his countrymen, I suspect, had any idea;
but probably my title lost nothing of its value from that
cause.

September 20th. — We arrived by the middle of the day at
Buenos Ayres.  The outskirts of the city looked quite pretty,
with the agave hedges, and groves of olive, peach and willow
trees, all just throwing out their fresh green leaves.  I rode
to the house of Mr. Lumb, an English merchant, to whose
kindness and hospitality, during my stay in the country, I
was greatly indebted.

The city of Buenos Ayres is large; [10] and I should think
one of the most regular in the world.  Every street is at right
angles to the one it crosses, and the parallel ones being
equidistant, the houses are collected into solid squares of
equal dimensions, which are called quadras.  On the other hand,
the houses themselves are hollow squares; all the rooms opening
into a neat little courtyard.  They are generally only
one story high, with flat roofs, which are fitted with seats
and are much frequented by the inhabitants in summer.  In
the centre of the town is the Plaza, where the public offices,
fortress, cathedral, etc., stand.  Here also, the old viceroys,
before the revolution, had their palaces.  The general assemblage
of buildings possesses considerable architectural beauty,
although none individually can boast of any.

The great corral, where the animals are kept for slaughter
to supply food to this beef-eating population, is one of
the spectacles best worth seeing.  The strength of the horse
as compared to that of the bullock is quite astonishing: a
man on horseback having thrown his lazo round the horns
of a beast, can drag it anywhere he chooses.  The animal
ploughing up the ground with outstretched legs, in vain
efforts to resist the force, generally dashes at full speed to
one side; but the horse immediately turning to receive the
shock, stands so firmly that the bullock is almost thrown
down, and it is surprising that their necks are not broken.
The struggle is not, however, one of fair strength; the
horse's girth being matched against the bullock's extended
neck.  In a similar manner a man can hold the wildest horse,
if caught with the lazo, just behind the ears.  When the
bullock has been dragged to the spot where it is to be
slaughtered, the matador with great caution cuts the hamstrings.
Then is given the death bellow; a noise more expressive
of fierce agony than any I know.  I have often distinguished
it from a long distance, and have always known
that the struggle was then drawing to a close.  The whole
sight is horrible and revolting: the ground is almost made of
bones; and the horses and riders are drenched with gore.

[1] I call these thistle-stalks for the want of a more correct
name.  I believe it is a species of Eryngium.

[2] Travels in Africa, p. 233.

[3] Two species of Tinamus and Eudromia elegans of A. d'Orbigny,
which can only be called a partridge with regard to its habits.

[4] History of the Abipones, vol. ii. p. 6.

[5] Falconer's Patagonia, p. 70.

[6] Fauna Boreali-Americana, vol. i. p. 35.

[7] See Mr. Atwater's account of the Prairies, in Silliman's
N. A. Journal, vol. i. p. 117.

[8] Azara's Voyages, vol. i. p. 373.

[9] M. A. d'Orbigny (vol. i. p. 474) says that the cardoon
and artichoke are both found wild.  Dr. Hooker (Botanical
Magazine, vol. lv. p. 2862), has described a variety of the
Cynara from this part of South America under the name of
inermis.  He states that botanists are now generally agreed
that the cardoon and the artichoke are varieties of one plant.
I may add, that an intelligent farmer assured me that he had
observed in a deserted garden some artichokes changing into
the common cardoon.  Dr. Hooker believes that Head's vivid
description of the thistle of the Pampas applies to the
cardoon, but this is a mistake.  Captain Head referred to the
plant, which I have mentioned a few lines lower down, under
the title of giant thistle.  Whether it is a true thistle I do
not know; but it is quite different from the cardoon; and more
like a thistle properly so called.

[10] It is said to contain 60,000 inhabitants.  Monte Video, the
second town of importance on the banks of the Plata, has
15,000.



CHAPTER VII

BUENOS AYRES AND ST. FE

Excursion to St. Fe — Thistle Beds — Habits of the Bizcacha —
Little Owl — Saline Streams — Level Plain — Mastodon — St.
Fe — Change in Landscape — Geology — Tooth of extinct
Horse — Relation of the Fossil and recent Quadrupeds of North
and South America —  Effects of a great Drought — Parana —
Habits of the Jaguar —  Scissor-beak — Kingfisher, Parrot,
and Scissor-tail — Revolution — Buenos Ayres State of
Government.


SEPTEMBER  27th. — In the evening I set out on an
excursion to St. Fe, which is situated nearly three hundred
English miles from Buenos Ayres, on the banks of
the Parana.  The roads in the neighbourhood of the city after
the rainy weather, were extraordinarily bad.  I should never
have thought it possible for a bullock waggon to have
crawled along: as it was, they scarcely went at the rate of a
mile an hour, and a man was kept ahead, to survey the best
line for making the attempt.  The bullocks were terribly
jaded: it is a great mistake to suppose that with improved
roads, and an accelerated rate of travelling, the sufferings of
the animals increase in the same proportion.  We passed a
train of waggons and a troop of beasts on their road to
Mendoza.  The distance is about 580 geographical miles, and
the journey is generally performed in fifty days.  These
waggons are very long, narrow, and thatched with reeds;
they have only two wheels, the diameter of which in some
cases is as much as ten feet.  Each is drawn by six bullocks,
which are urged on by a goad at least twenty feet long: this
is suspended from within the roof; for the wheel bullocks a
smaller one is kept; and for the intermediate pair, a point
projects at right angles from the middle of the long one.

The whole apparatus looked like some implement of war.

September 28th. — We passed the small town of Luxan
where there is a wooden bridge over the river — a most
unusual convenience in this country.  We passed also Areco.
The plains appeared level, but were not so in fact; for in
various places the horizon was distant.  The estancias are
here wide apart; for there is little good pasture, owing to
the land being covered by beds either of an acrid clover,
or of the great thistle.  The latter, well known from the
animated description given by Sir F. Head, were at this
time of the year two-thirds grown; in some parts they were
as high as the horse's back, but in others they had not yet
sprung up, and the ground was bare and dusty as on a turnpike-
road.  The clumps were of the most brilliant green, and
they made a pleasing miniature-likeness of broken forest
land.  When the thistles are full grown, the great beds are
impenetrable, except by a few tracts, as intricate as those
in a labyrinth.  These are only known to the robbers, who
at this season inhabit them, and sally forth at night to rob
and cut throats with impunity.  Upon asking at a house
whether robbers were numerous, I was answered, "The thistles
are not up yet;" — the meaning of which reply was not at
first very obvious.  There is little interest in passing over
these tracts, for they are inhabited by few animals or birds,
excepting the bizcacha and its friend the little owl.

The bizcacha [1] is well known to form a prominent feature
in the zoology of the Pampas.  It is found as far south as
the Rio Negro, in lat. 41 degs., but not beyond.  It cannot,
like the agouti, subsist on the gravelly and desert plains of
Patagonia, but prefers a clayey or sandy soil, which produces a
different and more abundant vegetation.  Near Mendoza, at
the foot of the Cordillera, it occurs in close neighbourhood
with the allied alpine species.  It is a very curious
circumstance in its geographical distribution, that it has never
been seen, fortunately for the inhabitants of Banda Oriental, to
the eastward of the river Uruguay: yet in this province there
are plains which appear admirably adapted to its habits.
The Uruguay has formed an insuperable obstacle to its
migration: although the broader barrier of the Parana has
been passed, and the bizcacha is common in Entre Rios, the
province between these two great rivers.  Near Buenos Ayres
these animals are exceedingly common.  Their most favourite
resort appears to be those parts of the plain which during
one-half of the year are covered with giant thistles, to the
exclusion of other plants.  The Gauchos affirm that it lives
on roots; which, from the great strength of its gnawing
teeth, and the kind of places frequented by it, seems probable.
In the evening the bizcachas come out in numbers, and quietly
sit at the mouths of their burrows on their haunches.  At
such times they are very tame, and a man on horseback passing
by seems only to present an object for their grave
contemplation.  They run very awkwardly, and when running
out of danger, from their elevated tails and short front legs
much resemble great rats.  Their flesh, when cooked, is very
white and good, but it is seldom used.

The bizcacha has one very singular habit; namely, dragging
every hard object to the mouth of its burrow: around
each group of holes many bones of cattle, stones, thistle-
stalks, hard lumps of earth, dry dung, etc., are collected into
an irregular heap, which frequently amounts to as much as
a wheelbarrow would contain.  I was credibly informed that
a gentleman, when riding on a dark night, dropped his
watch; he returned in the morning, and by searching the
neighbourhood of every bizcacha hole on the line of road,
as he expected, he soon found it.  This habit of picking
up whatever may be lying on the ground anywhere near its
habitation, must cost much trouble.  For what purpose it
is done, I am quite unable to form even the most remote
conjecture: it cannot be for defence, because the rubbish
is chiefly placed above the mouth of the burrow, which
enters the ground at a very small inclination.  No doubt
there must exist some good reason; but the inhabitants of
the country are quite ignorant of it.  The only fact which
I know analogous to it, is the habit of that extraordinary
Australian bird, the Calodera maculata, which makes an
elegant vaulted passage of twigs for playing in, and
which collects near the spot, land and sea-shells, bones
and the feathers of birds, especially brightly coloured
ones.  Mr. Gould, who has described these facts, informs
me, that the natives, when they lose any hard object,
search the playing passages, and he has known a tobacco-
pipe thus recovered.

The little owl (Athene cunicularia), which has been so
often mentioned, on the plains of Buenos Ayres exclusively
inhabits the holes of the bizcacha; but in Banda Oriental it
is its own workman.  During the open day, but more especially
in the evening, these birds may be seen in every direction
standing frequently by pairs on the hillock near their
burrows.  If disturbed they either enter the hole, or, uttering
a shrill harsh cry, move with a remarkably undulatory
flight to a short distance, and then turning round, steadily
gaze at their pursuer.  Occasionally in the evening they may
be heard hooting.  I found in the stomachs of two which
I opened the remains of mice, and I one day saw a small
snake killed and carried away.  It is said that snakes are
their common prey during the daytime.  I may here mention,
as showing on what various kinds of food owls subsist,
that a species killed among the islets of the Chonos
Archipelago, had its stomach full of good-sized crabs.  In
India [2] there is a fishing genus of owls, which likewise
catches crabs.

In the evening we crossed the Rio Arrecife on a simple
raft made of barrels lashed together, and slept at the post-
house on the other side.  I this day paid horse-hire for
thirty-one leagues; and although the sun was glaring hot I
was but little fatigued.  When Captain Head talks of riding
fifty leagues a day, I do not imagine the distance is equal
to 150 English miles.  At all events, the thirty-one leagues
was only 76 miles in a straight line, and in an open country
I should think four additional miles for turnings would be
a sufficient allowance.

29th and 30th. — We continued to ride over plains of the
same character.  At San Nicolas I first saw the noble river
of the Parana.  At the foot of the cliff on which the town
stands, some large vessels were at anchor.  Before arriving
at Rozario, we crossed the Saladillo, a stream of fine clear
running water, but too saline to drink.  Rozario is a large
town built on a dead level plain, which forms a cliff about
sixty feet high over the Parana.  The river here is very
broad, with many islands, which are low and wooded, as is
also the opposite shore.  The view would resemble that of a
great lake, if it were not for the linear-shaped islets, which
alone give the idea of running water.  The cliffs are the most
picturesque part; sometimes they are absolutely perpendicular,
and of a red colour; at other times in large broken
masses, covered with cacti and mimosa-trees.  The real
grandeur, however, of an immense river like this, is derived
from reflecting how important a means of communication
and commerce it forms between one nation and another; to
what a distance it travels, and from how vast a territory
it drains the great body of fresh water which flows past
your feet.

For many leagues north and south of San Nicolas and
Rozario, the country is really level.  Scarcely anything which
travellers have written about its extreme flatness, can be
considered as exaggeration.  Yet I could never find a spot
where, by slowly turning round, objects were not seen at
greater distances in some directions than in others; and
this manifestly proves inequality in the plain.  At sea, a
person's eye being six feet above the surface of the water,
his horizon is two miles and four-fifths distant.  In like
manner, the more level the plain, the more nearly does the
horizon approach within these narrow limits; and this, in
my opinion, entirely destroys that grandeur which one would
have imagined that a vast level plain would have possessed.

October 1st. - We started by moonlight and arrived at the
Rio Tercero by sunrise.  The river is also called the Saladillo,
and it deserves the name, for the water is brackish.
I stayed here the greater part of the day, searching for fossil
bones.  Besides a perfect tooth of the Toxodon, and many
scattered bones, I found two immense skeletons near each
other, projecting in bold relief from the perpendicular cliff
of the Parana.  They were, however, so completely decayed,
that I could only bring away small fragments of one of the
great molar teeth; but these are sufficient to show that the
remains belonged to a Mastodon, probably to the same species
with that, which formerly must have inhabited the Cordillera
in Upper Peru in such great numbers.  The men
who took me in the canoe, said they had long known of these
skeletons, and had often wondered how they had got there:
the necessity of a theory being felt, they came to the
conclusion that, like the bizcacha, the mastodon was formerly
a burrowing animal!  In the evening we rode another stage,
and crossed the Monge, another brackish stream, bearing the
dregs of the washings of the Pampas.

October 2nd. — We passed through Corunda, which, from
the luxuriance of its gardens, was one of the prettiest
villages I saw.  From this point to St. Fe the road is not very
safe.  The western side of the Parana northward, ceases to
be inhabited; and hence the Indians sometimes come down
thus far, and waylay travellers.  The nature of the country
also favours this, for instead of a grassy plain, there is an
open woodland, composed of low prickly mimosas.  We
passed some houses that had been ransacked and since deserted;
we saw also a spectacle, which my guides viewed
with high satisfaction; it was the skeleton of an Indian
with the dried skin hanging on the bones, suspended to the
branch of a tree.

In the morning we arrived at St. Fe. I was surprised
to observe how great a change of climate a difference of only
three degrees of latitude between this place and Buenos
Ayres had caused.  This was evident from the dress and
complexion of the men — from the increased size of the
ombu-trees — the number of new cacti and other plants —
and especially from the birds.  In the course of an hour I
remarked half-a-dozen birds, which I had never seen at
Buenos Ayres.  Considering that there is no natural boundary
between the two places, and that the character of the
country is nearly similar, the difference was much greater
than I should have expected.

October  3rd and 4th. — I was confined for these two days
to my bed by a headache.  A good-natured old woman,
who attended me, wished me to try many odd remedies.  A
common practice is, to bind an orange-leaf or a bit of black
plaster to each temple: and a still more general plan is, to
split a bean into halves, moisten them, and place one on
each temple, where they will easily adhere.  It is not thought
proper ever to remove the beans or plaster, but to allow
them to drop off, and sometimes, if a man, with patches on
his head, is asked, what is the matter? he will answer, "I
had a headache the day before yesterday." Many of the
remedies used by the people of the country are ludicrously
strange, but too disgusting to be mentioned.  One of the
least nasty is to kill and cut open two puppies and bind
them on each side of a broken limb.  Little hairless dogs are
in great request to sleep at the feet of invalids.

St. Fe is a quiet little town, and is kept clean and in good
order.  The governor, Lopez, was a common soldier at the
time of the revolution; but has now been seventeen years
in power.  This stability of government is owing to his
tyrannical habits; for tyranny seems as yet better adapted
to these countries than republicanism.  The governor's favourite
occupation is hunting Indians: a short time since
he slaughtered forty-eight, and sold the children at the rate
of three or four pounds apiece.

October 5th. — We crossed the Parana to St. Fe Bajada,
a town on the opposite shore.  The passage took some hours,
as the river here consisted of a labyrinth of small streams,
separated by low wooded islands.  I had a letter of introduction
to an old Catalonian Spaniard, who treated me with
the most uncommon hospitality.  The Bajada is the capital
of Entre Rios.  In 1825 the town contained 6000 inhabitants,
and the province 30,000; yet, few as the inhabitants are, no
province has suffered more from bloody and desperate
revolutions.  They boast here of representatives, ministers, a
standing army, and governors: so it is no wonder that they
have their revolutions.  At some future day this must be
one of the richest countries of La Plata.  The soil is varied
and productive; and its almost insular form gives it two
grand lines of communication by the rivers Parana and
Uruguay.


I was delayed here five days, and employed myself in examining
the geology of the surrounding country, which was
very interesting.  We here see at the bottom of the cliffs,
beds containing sharks' teeth and sea-shells of extinct species,
passing above into an indurated marl, and from that
into the red clayey earth of the Pampas, with its calcareous
concretions and the bones of terrestrial quadrupeds.  This
vertical section clearly tells us of a large bay of pure salt-
water, gradually encroached on, and at last converted into
the bed of a muddy estuary, into which floating carcasses
were swept.  At Punta Gorda, in Banda Oriental, I found
an alternation of the Pampaean estuary deposit, with a
limestone containing some of the same extinct sea-shells; and
this shows either a change in the former currents, or more
probably an oscillation of level in the bottom of the ancient
estuary.  Until lately, my reasons for considering the Pampaean
formation to be an estuary deposit were, its general
appearance, its position at the mouth of the existing great
river the Plata, and the presence of so many bones of
terrestrial quadrupeds: but now Professor Ehrenberg has had
the kindness to examine for me a little of the red earth,
taken from low down in the deposit, close to the skeletons
of the mastodon, and he finds in it many infusoria, partly
salt-water and partly fresh-water forms, with the latter
rather preponderating; and therefore, as he remarks, the
water must have been brackish.  M. A. d'Orbigny found on
the banks of the Parana, at the height of a hundred feet,
great beds of an estuary shell, now living a hundred miles
lower down nearer the sea; and I found similar shells at a
less height on the banks of the Uruguay; this shows that
just before the Pampas was slowly elevated into dry land,
the water covering it was brackish.  Below Buenos Ayres
there are upraised beds of sea-shells of existing species,
which also proves that the period of elevation of the Pampas
was within the recent period.

In the Pampaean deposit at the Bajada I found the osseous
armour of a gigantic armadillo-like animal, the inside
of which, when the earth was removed, was like a great
cauldron; I found also teeth of the Toxodon and Mastodon,
and one tooth of a Horse, in the same stained and decayed
state.  This latter tooth greatly interested me, [3] and I took
scrupulous care in ascertaining that it had been embedded
contemporaneously with the other remains; for I was not
then aware that amongst the fossils from Bahia Blanca
there was a horse's tooth hidden in the matrix: nor was it
then known with certainty that the remains of horses are
common in North America.  Mr. Lyell has lately brought
from the United States a tooth of a horse; and it is an
interesting fact, that Professor Owen could find in no species,
either fossil or recent, a slight but peculiar curvature
characterizing it, until he thought of comparing it with my
specimen found here: he has named this American horse Equus
curvidens.  Certainly it is a marvellous fact in the history
of the Mammalia, that in South America a native horse
should have lived and disappeared, to be succeeded in after-
ages by the countless herds descended from the few introduced
with the Spanish colonists!

The existence in South America of a fossil horse, of the
mastodon, possibly of an elephant, [4]  and of a hollow-horned
ruminant, discovered by MM. Lund and Clausen in the
caves of Brazil, are highly interesting facts with respect to
the geographical distribution of animals.  At the present
time, if we divide America, not by the Isthmus of Panama,
but by the southern part of Mexico [5] in lat. 20 degs., where
the great table-land presents an obstacle to the migration of
species, by affecting the climate, and by forming, with the
exception of some valleys and of a fringe of low land on
the coast, a broad barrier; we shall then have the two
zoological provinces of North and South America strongly
contrasted with each other.  Some few species alone have
passed the barrier, and may be considered as wanderers from
the south, such as the puma, opossum, kinkajou, and peccari.
South America is characterized by possessing many peculiar
gnawers, a family of monkeys, the llama, peccari, tapir,
opossums, and, especially, several genera of Edentata, the
order which includes the sloths, ant-eaters, and armadilloes.
North America, on the other hand, is characterized (putting
on one side a few wandering species) by numerous peculiar
gnawers, and by four genera (the ox, sheep, goat, and antelope)
of hollow-horned ruminants, of which great division
South America is not known to possess a single species.
Formerly, but within the period when most of the now existing
shells were living, North America possessed, besides
hollow-horned ruminants, the elephant, mastodon, horse, and
three genera of Edentata, namely, the Megatherium, Megalonyx,
and Mylodon.  Within nearly this same period (as
proved by the shells at Bahia Blanca) South America possessed,
as we have just seen, a mastodon, horse, hollow-
horned ruminant, and the same three genera (as well as
several others) of the Edentata.  Hence it is evident that
North and South America, in having within a late geological
period these several genera in common, were much
more closely related in the character of their terrestrial
inhabitants than they now are.  The more I reflect on this
case, the more interesting it appears: I know of no other
instance where we can almost mark the period and manner
of the splitting up of one great region into two well-
characterized zoological provinces.  The geologist, who is fully
impressed with the vast oscillations of level which have
affected the earth's crust within late periods, will not fear
to speculate on the recent elevation of the Mexican platform,
or, more probably, on the recent submergence of land
in the West Indian Archipelago, as the cause of the present
zoological separation of North and South America.  The
South American character of the West Indian mammals [6]
seems to indicate that this archipelago was formerly united
to the southern continent, and that it has subsequently been
an area of subsidence.

When America, and especially North America, possessed
its elephants, mastodons, horse, and hollow-horned ruminants,
it was much more closely related in its zoological
characters to the temperate parts of Europe and Asia than
it now is.  As the remains of these genera are found on
both sides of Behring's Straits [7] and on the plains of
Siberia, we are led to look to the north-western side of North
America as the former point of communication between the Old
and so-called New World.  And as so many species, both
living and extinct, of these same genera inhabit and have
inhabited the Old World, it seems most probable that the
North American elephants, mastodons, horse, and hollow-
horned ruminants migrated, on land since submerged near
Behring's Straits, from Siberia into North America, and
thence, on land since submerged in the West Indies, into
South America, where for a time they mingled with the
forms characteristic of that southern continent, and have
since become extinct.


While travelling through the country, I received several
vivid descriptions of the effects of a late great drought; and
the account of this may throw some light on the cases where
vast numbers of animals of all kinds have been embedded
together.  The period included between the years 1827 and
1830 is called the "gran seco," or the great drought.  During
this time so little rain fell, that the vegetation, even to the
thistles, failed; the brooks were dried up, and the whole
country assumed the appearance of a dusty high road.  This
was especially the case in the northern part of the province
of Buenos Ayres and the southern part of St. Fe.  Very
great numbers of birds, wild animals, cattle, and horses
perished from the want of food and water.  A man told me
that the deer [8] used to come into his courtyard to the well,
which he had been obliged to dig to supply his own family
with water; and that the partridges had hardly strength to
fly away when pursued.  The lowest estimation of the loss
of cattle in the province of Buenos Ayres alone, was taken
at one million head.  A proprietor at San Pedro had previously
to these years 20,000 cattle; at the end not one remained.
San Pedro is situated in the middle of the finest
country; and even now abounds again with animals; yet
during the latter part of the "gran seco," live cattle were
brought in vessels for the consumption of the inhabitants.
The animals roamed from their estancias, and, wandering
far southward, were mingled together in such multitudes,
that a government commission was sent from Buenos Ayres
to settle the disputes of the owners.  Sir Woodbine Parish
informed me of another and very curious source of dispute;
the ground being so long dry, such quantities of dust were
blown about, that in this open country the landmarks became
obliterated, and people could not tell the limits of their
estates.

I was informed by an eye-witness that the cattle in herds
of thousands rushed into the Parana, and being exhausted
by hunger they were unable to crawl up the muddy banks,
and thus were drowned.  The arm of the river which runs
by San Pedro was so full of putrid carcasses, that the master
of a vessel told me that the smell rendered it quite impassable.
Without doubt several hundred thousand animals
thus perished in the river: their bodies when putrid were
seen floating down the stream; and many in all probability
were deposited in the estuary of the Plata.  All the small
rivers became highly saline, and this caused the death of
vast numbers in particular spots; for when an animal drinks
of such water it does not recover.  Azara describes [9] the
fury of the wild horses on a similar occasion, rushing into
the marshes, those which arrived first being overwhelmed
and crushed by those which followed.  He adds that more
than once he has seen the carcasses of upwards of a thousand
wild horses thus destroyed.  I noticed that the smaller
streams in the Pampas were paved with a breccia of bones
but this probably is the effect of a gradual increase, rather
than of the destruction at any one period.  Subsequently
to the drought of 1827 to 1832, a very rainy season followed
which caused great floods.  Hence it is almost certain that
some thousands of the skeletons were buried by the deposits
of the very next year.  What would be the opinion of a
geologist, viewing such an enormous collection of bones, of
all kinds of animals and of all ages, thus embedded in one
thick earthy mass?  Would he not attribute it to a flood
having swept over the surface of the land, rather than to
the common order of things? [10]

October 12th. — I had intended to push my excursion further,
but not being quite well, I was compelled to return by
a balandra, or one-masted vessel of about a hundred tons'
burden, which was bound to Buenos Ayres.  As the weather
was not fair, we moored early in the day to a branch of a
tree on one of the islands.  The Parana is full of islands,
which undergo a constant round of decay and renovation.
In the memory of the master several large ones had disappeared,
and others again had been formed and protected
by vegetation.  They are composed of muddy sand, without
even the smallest pebble, and were then about four feet
above the level of the river; but during the periodical floods
they are inundated.  They all present one character; numerous
willows and a few other trees are bound together by a
great variety of creeping plants, thus forming a thick jungle.
These thickets afford a retreat for capybaras and jaguars.
The fear of the latter animal quite destroyed all pleasure
in scrambling through the woods.  This evening I had not
proceeded a hundred yards, before finding indubitable signs
of the recent presence of the tiger, I was obliged to come
back.  On every island there were tracks; and as on the
former excursion "el rastro de los Indios" had been the
subject of conversation, so in this was "el rastro del tigre."
The wooded banks of the great rivers appear to be the
favourite haunts of the jaguar; but south of the Plata, I
was told that they frequented the reeds bordering lakes:
wherever they are, they seem to require water.  Their common
prey is the capybara, so that it is generally said, where
capybaras are numerous there is little danger from the
jaguar.  Falconer states that near the southern side of the
mouth of the Plata there are many jaguars, and that they
chiefly live on fish; this account I have heard repeated.  On
the Parana they have killed many wood-cutters, and have
even entered vessels at night.  There is a man now living
in the Bajada, who, coming up from below when it was
dark, was seized on the deck; he escaped, however, with
the loss of the use of one arm.  When the floods drive these
animals from the islands, they are most dangerous.  I was
told that a few years since a very large one found its way
into a church at St. Fe: two padres entering one after the
other were killed, and a third, who came to see what was the
matter, escaped with difficulty.  The beast was destroyed by
being shot from a corner of the building which was unroofed.
They commit also at these times great ravages
among cattle and horses.  It is said that they kill their prey
by breaking their necks.  If driven from the carcass, they
seldom return to it.  The Gauchos say that the jaguar, when
wandering about at night, is much tormented by the foxes
yelping as they follow him.  This is a curious coincidence
with the fact which is generally affirmed of the jackals
accompanying, in a similarly officious manner, the East Indian
tiger.  The jaguar is a noisy animal, roaring much by night,
and especially before bad weather.

One day, when hunting on the banks of the Uruguay, I
was shown certain trees, to which these animals constantly
recur for the purpose, as it is said, of sharpening their
claws.  I saw three well-known trees; in front, the bark
was worn smooth, as if by the breast of the animal, and on
each side there were deep scratches, or rather grooves,
extending in an oblique line, nearly a yard in length.  The
scars were of different ages.  A common method of ascertaining
whether a jaguar is in the neighbourhood is to
examine these trees.  I imagine this habit of the jaguar is
exactly similar to one which may any day be seen in the
common cat, as with outstretched legs and exserted claws it
scrapes the leg of a chair; and I have heard of young fruit-
trees in an orchard in England having been thus much injured.
Some such habit must also be common to the puma,
for on the bare hard soil of Patagonia I have frequently
seen scores so deep that no other animal could have made
them.  The object of this practice is, I believe, to tear off
the ragged points of their claws, and not, as the Gauchos
think, to sharpen them.  The jaguar is killed, without much
difficulty, by the aid of dogs baying and driving him up a
tree, where he is despatched with bullets.

Owing to bad weather we remained two days at our moorings.
Our only amusement was catching fish for our dinner:
there were several kinds, and all good eating.  A fish called
the "armado" (a Silurus) is remarkable from a harsh grating
noise which it makes when caught by hook and line,
and which can be distinctly heard when the fish is beneath
the water.  This same fish has the power of firmly catching
hold of any object, such as the blade of an oar or the fishing-
line, with the strong spine both of its pectoral and dorsal
fin.  In the evening the weather was quite tropical, the
thermometer standing at 79 degs.  Numbers of fireflies were
hovering about, and the musquitoes were very troublesome.
I exposed my hand for five minutes, and it was soon black
with them; I do not suppose there could have been less than
fifty, all busy sucking.

October 15th. — We got under way and passed Punta
Gorda, where there is a colony of tame Indians from the
province of Missiones.  We sailed rapidly down the current,
but before sunset, from a silly fear of bad weather, we
brought-to in a narrow arm of the river.  I took the boat
and rowed some distance up this creek.  It was very narrow,
winding, and deep; on each side a wall thirty or forty feet
high, formed by trees intwined with creepers, gave to the
canal a singularly gloomy appearance.  I here saw a very
extraordinary bird, called the Scissor-beak (Rhynchops
nigra).  It has short legs, web feet, extremely long-pointed
wings, and is of about the size of a tern.  The beak is flattened
laterally, that is, in a plane at right angles to that
of a spoonbill or duck.  It is as flat and elastic as an ivory
paper-cutter, and the lower mandible, differing from every
other bird, is an inch and a half longer than the upper.  In
a lake near Maldonado, from which the water had been
nearly drained, and which, in consequence, swarmed with
small fry, I saw several of these birds, generally in small
flocks, flying rapidly backwards and forwards close to the
surface of the lake.  They kept their bills wide open, and
the lower mandible half buried in the water.  Thus skimming
the surface, they ploughed it in their course: the water was
quite smooth, and it formed a most curious spectacle to behold
a flock, each bird leaving its narrow wake on the mirror-like
surface.  In their flight they frequently twist about
with extreme quickness, and dexterously manage with their
projecting lower mandible to plough up small fish, which are
secured by the upper and shorter half of their scissor-like


[picture]


bills.  This fact I repeatedly saw, as, like swallows, they
continued to fly backwards and forwards close before me.
Occasionally when leaving the surface of the water their
flight was wild, irregular, and rapid; they then uttered loud
harsh cries.  When these birds are fishing, the advantage
of the long primary feathers of their wings, in keeping them
dry, is very evident.  When thus employed, their forms resemble
the symbol by which many artists represent marine
birds.  Their tails are much used in steering their irregular
course.

These birds are common far inland along the course of
the Rio Parana; it is said that they remain here during the
whole year, and breed in the marshes.  During the day they
rest in flocks on the grassy plains at some distance from
the water.  Being at anchor, as I have said, in one of the
deep creeks between the islands of the Parana, as the evening
drew to a close, one of these scissor-beaks suddenly appeared.
The water was quite still, and many little fish were
rising.  The bird continued for a long time to skim the
surface, flying in its wild and irregular manner up and down
the narrow canal, now dark with the growing night and the
shadows of the overhanging trees.  At Monte Video, I observed
that some large flocks during the day remained on the
mud-banks at the head of the harbour, in the same manner
as on the grassy plains near the Parana; and every evening
they took flight seaward.  From these facts I suspect
that the Rhynchops generally fishes by night, at which time
many of the lower animals come most abundantly to the
surface.  M. Lesson states that he has seen these birds
opening the shells of the mactrae buried in the sand-banks on
the coast of Chile: from their weak bills, with the lower
mandible so much projecting, their short legs and long
wings, it is very improbable that this can be a general habit.

In our course down the Parana, I observed only three
other birds, whose habits are worth mentioning.  One is a
small kingfisher (Ceryle Americana); it has a longer tail
than the European species, and hence does not sit in so stiff
and upright a position.  Its flight also, instead of being direct
and rapid, like the course of an arrow, is weak and
undulatory, as among the soft-billed birds.  It utters a low
note, like the clicking together of two small stones.  A small
green parrot (Conurus murinus), with a grey breast, appears
to prefer the tall trees on the islands to any other
situation for its building-place.  A number of nests are
placed so close together as to form one great mass of sticks.
These parrots always live in flocks, and commit great ravages
on the corn-fields.  I was told, that near Colonia 2500 were
killed in the course of one year.  A bird with a forked tail,
terminated by two long feathers (Tyrannus savana), and
named by the Spaniards scissor-tail, is very common near
Buenos Ayres: it commonly sits on a branch of the ombu
tree, near a house, and thence takes a short flight in pursuit
of insects, and returns to the same spot.  When on the wing
it presents in its manner of flight and general appearance
a caricature-likeness of the common swallow.  It has the
power of turning very shortly in the air, and in so doing
opens and shuts its tail, sometimes in a horizontal or lateral
and sometimes in a vertical direction, just like a pair of
scissors.

October 16th. — Some leagues below Rozario, the western
shore of the Parana is bounded by perpendicular cliffs,
which extend in a long line to below San Nicolas; hence it
more resembles a sea-coast than that of a fresh-water river.
It is a great drawback to the scenery of the Parana, that,
from the soft nature of its banks, the water is very muddy.
The Uruguay, flowing through a granitic country, is much
clearer; and where the two channels unite at the head of
the Plata, the waters may for a long distance be distinguished
by their black and red colours.  In the evening, the
wind being not quite fair, as usual we immediately moored,
and the next day, as it blew rather freshly, though with a
favouring current, the master was much too indolent to think
of starting.  At Bajada, he was described to me as "hombre
muy aflicto" — a man always miserable to get on; but certainly
he bore all delays with admirable resignation.  He
was an old Spaniard, and had been many years in this
country.  He professed a great liking to the English, but
stoutly maintained that the battle of Trafalgar was merely
won by the Spanish captains having been all bought over;
and that the only really gallant action on either side was
performed by the Spanish admiral.  It struck me as rather
characteristic, that this man should prefer his countrymen
being thought the worst of traitors, rather than unskilful or
cowardly.

18th and 19th. — We continued slowly to sail down the
noble stream: the current helped us but little.  We met,
during our descent, very few vessels.  One of the best gifts
of nature, in so grand a channel of communication, seems
here wilfully thrown away — a river in which ships might
navigate from a temperate country, as surprisingly abundant
in certain productions as destitute of others, to another
possessing a tropical climate, and a soil which, according to
the best of judges, M. Bonpland, is perhaps unequalled in
fertility in any part of the world.  How different would
have been the aspect of this river if English colonists had
by good fortune first sailed up the Plata!  What noble towns
would now have occupied its shores!  Till the death of
Francia, the Dictator of Paraguay, these two countries must
remain distinct, as if placed on opposite sides of the globe.
And when the old bloody-minded tyrant is gone to his long
account, Paraguay will be torn by revolutions, violent in
proportion to the previous unnatural calm.  That country
will have to learn, like every other South American state,
that a republic cannot succeed till it contains a certain body
of men imbued with the principles of justice and honour.

October 20th. — Being arrived at the mouth of the Parana,
and as I was very anxious to reach Buenos Ayres, I went
on shore at Las Conchas, with the intention of riding there.
Upon landing, I found to my great surprise that I was to
a certain degree a prisoner.  A violent revolution having
broken out, all the ports were laid under an embargo.  I
could not return to my vessel, and as for going by land to
the city, it was out of the question.  After a long conversation
with the commandant, I obtained permission to go the
next day to General Rolor, who commanded a division of
the rebels on this side the capital.  In the morning I rode
to the encampment.  The general, officers, and soldiers, all
appeared, and I believe really were, great villains.  The
general, the very evening before he left the city, voluntarily
went to the Governor, and with his hand to his heart, pledged
his word of honour that he at least would remain faithful
to the last.  The general told me that the city was in a state
of close blockade, and that all he could do was to give me
a passport to the commander-in-chief of the rebels at Quilmes.
We had therefore to take a great sweep round the
city, and it was with much difficulty that we procured horses.
My reception at the encampment was quite civil, but I was
told it was impossible that I could be allowed to enter the
city.  I was very anxious about this, as I anticipated the
Beagle's departure from the Rio Plata earlier than it took
place.  Having mentioned, however, General Rosas's obliging
kindness to me when at the Colorado, magic itself could
not have altered circumstances quicker than did this
conversation.  I was instantly told that though they could not
give me a passport, if I chose to leave my guide and horses,
I might pass their sentinels.  I was too glad to accept of
this, and an officer was sent with me to give directions that
I should not be stopped at the bridge.  The road for the
space of a league was quite deserted.  I met one party of
soldiers, who were satisfied by gravely looking at an old
passport: and at length I was not a little pleased to find
myself within the city.

This revolution was supported by scarcely any pretext of
grievances: but in a state which, in the course of nine months
(from February to October, 1820), underwent fifteen
changes in its government — each governor, according to the
constitution, being elected for three years — it would be very
unreasonable to ask for pretexts.  In this case, a party of
men — who, being attached to Rosas, were disgusted with
the governor Balcarce — to the number of seventy left the
city, and with the cry of Rosas the whole country took arms.
The city was then blockaded, no provisions, cattle or horses,
were allowed to enter; besides this, there was only a little
skirmishing, and a few men daily killed.  The outside party
well knew that by stopping the supply of meat they would
certainly be victorious.  General Rosas could not have known
of this rising; but it appears to be quite consonant with the
plans of his party.  A year ago he was elected governor, but
he refused it, unless the Sala would also confer on him
extraordinary powers.  This was refused, and since then
his party have shown that no other governor can keep his
place.  The warfare on both sides was avowedly protracted
till it was possible to hear from Rosas.  A note arrived a
few days after I left Buenos Ayres, which stated that the
General disapproved of peace having been broken, but that
he thought the outside party had justice on their side.  On
the bare reception of this, the Governor, ministers, and part
of the military, to the number of some hundreds, fled from
the city.  The rebels entered, elected a new governor, and
were paid for their services to the number of 5500 men.
From these proceedings, it was clear that Rosas ultimately
would become the dictator: to the term king, the people in
this, as in other republics, have a particular dislike.  Since
leaving South America, we have heard that Rosas has
been elected, with powers and for a time altogether opposed
to the constitutional principles of the republic.

[1] The bizcacha (Lagostomus trichodactylus) somewhat resembles
a large rabbit, but with bigger gnawing teeth and a long tail;
it has, however, only three toes behind, like the agouti.  During
the last three or four years the skins of these animals have
been sent to England for the sake of the fur.

[2] Journal of Asiatic Soc., vol. v. p. 363.

[3] I need hardly state here that there is good evidence
against any horse living in America at the time of Columbus.

[4] Cuvier. Ossemens Fossils, tom. i. p. 158.

[5] This is the geographical division followed by Lichtenstein,
Swainson, Erichson, and Richardson.  The section from Vera Cruz
to Acapulco, given by Humboldt in the Polit. Essay on Kingdom
of N. Spain will show how immense a barrier the Mexican
table-land forms.  Dr. Richardson, in his admirable Report on
the Zoology of N. America read before the Brit. Assoc. 1836
(p. 157), talking of the identification of a Mexican animal
with the Synetheres prehensilis, says, "We do not know with
what propriety, but if correct, it is, if not a solitary
instance, at least very nearly so, of a rodent animal being
common to North and South America."

[6] See Dr. Richardson's Report, p. 157; also L'Institut,
1837, p. 253. Cuvier says the kinkajou is found in the larger
Antilles, but this is doubtful.  M. Gervais states that the
Didelphis crancrivora is found there.  It is certain that the
West Indies possess some mammifers peculiar to themselves.  A
tooth of a mastadon has been brought from Bahama; Edin. New
Phil. Journ., 1826, p. 395.

[7] See the admirable Appendix by Dr. Buckland to Beechey's
Voyage; also the writings of Chamisso in Kotzebue's Voyage.

[8] In Captain Owen's Surveying Voyage (vol. ii. p. 274)
there is a curious account of the effects of a drought on the
elephants, at Benguela (west coast of Africa).  "A number of
these animals had some time since entered the town, in a body,
to possess themselves of the wells, not being able to procure
any water in the country.  The inhabitants mustered, when a
desperate conflict ensued, which terminated in the ultimate
discomfiture of the invaders, but not until they had killed
one man, and wounded several others." The town is said to
have a population of nearly three thousand!  Dr. Malcolmson
informs me that, during a great drought in India, the wild
animals entered the tents of some troops at Ellore, and that
a hare drank out of a vessel held by the adjutant of the
regiment.

[9] Travels, vol. i. p. 374.

[10] These droughts to a certain degree seem to be almost
periodical; I was told the dates of several others, and the
intervals were about fifteen years.



CHAPTER VIII

BANDA ORIENTAL AND PATAGONIA

Excursion to Colonia del Sacramiento — Value of an Estancia —
Cattle, how counted — Singular Breed of Oxen — Perforated
Pebbles  —  Shepherd Dogs — Horses broken-in, Gauchos
riding — Character of Inhabitants — Rio Plata — Flocks of
Butterflies  —  Aeronaut Spiders —  Phosphorescence of the
Sea — Port Desire — Guanaco — Port St. Julian — Geology
of Patagonia — Fossil gigantic Animal — Types of Organization
constant — Change in the Zoology of America — Causes of
Extinction.


HAVING been delayed for nearly a fortnight in the
city, I was glad to escape on board a packet bound
for Monte Video.  A town in a state of blockade
must always be a disagreeable place of residence; in this case
moreover there were constant apprehensions from robbers
within.  The sentinels were the worst of all; for, from
their office and from having arms in their hands, they robbed
with a degree of authority which other men could not
imitate.

Our passage was a very long and tedious one.  The Plata
looks like a noble estuary on the map; but is in truth a poor
affair.  A wide expanse of muddy water has neither grandeur
nor beauty.  At one time of the day, the two shores,
both of which are extremely low, could just be distinguished
from the deck.  On arriving at Monte Video I found that
the Beagle would not sail for some time, so I prepared for a
short excursion in this part of Banda Oriental.  Everything
which I have said about the country near Maldonado is applicable
to Monte Video; but the land, with the one exception
of the Green Mount 450 feet high, from which it takes
its name, is far more level.  Very little of the undulating
grassy plain is enclosed; but near the town there are a few
hedge-banks, covered with agaves, cacti, and fennel.

November 14th. — We left Monte Video in the afternoon.
I intended to proceed to Colonia del Sacramiento, situated
on the northern bank of the Plata and opposite to Buenos
Ayres, and thence, following up the Uruguay, to the village
of Mercedes on the Rio Negro (one of the many rivers of
this name in South America), and from this point to return
direct to Monte Video.  We slept at the house of my guide
at Canelones.  In the morning we rose early, in the hopes
of being able to ride a good distance; but it was a vain
attempt, for all the rivers were flooded.  We passed in boats
the streams of Canelones, St. Lucia, and San Jose, and thus
lost much time.  On a former excursion I crossed the Lucia
near its mouth, and I was surprised to observe how easily
our horses, although not used to swim, passed over a width
of at least six hundred yards.  On mentioning this at Monte
Video, I was told that a vessel containing some mountebanks
and their horses, being wrecked in the Plata, one horse
swam seven miles to the shore.  In the course of the day I
was amused by the dexterity with which a Gaucho forced
a restive horse to swim a river.  He stripped off his clothes,
and jumping on its back, rode into the water till it was out
of its depth; then slipping off over the crupper, he caught
hold of the tail, and as often as the horse turned round
the man frightened it back by splashing water in its face.
As soon as the horse touched the bottom on the other side,
the man pulled himself on, and was firmly seated, bridle
in hand, before the horse gained the bank.  A naked man
on a naked horse is a fine spectacle; I had no idea how well
the two animals suited each other.  The tail of a horse is a
very useful appendage; I have passed a river in a boat with
four people in it, which was ferried across in the same way
as the Gaucho.  If a man and horse have to cross a broad
river, the best plan is for the man to catch hold of the pommel
or mane, and help himself with the other arm.

We slept and stayed the following day at the post of
Cufre.  In the evening the postman or letter-carrier arrived.
He was a day after his time, owing to the Rio Rozario being
flooded.  It would not, however, be of much consequence;
for, although he had passed through some of the principal
towns in Banda Oriental, his luggage consisted of two letters!
The view from the house was pleasing; an undulating
green surface, with distant glimpses of the Plata.  I find
that I look at this province with very different eyes from
what I did upon my first arrival.  I recollect I then thought
it singularly level; but now, after galloping over the Pampas,
my only surprise is, what could have induced me ever
to call it level.  The country is a series of undulations, in
themselves perhaps not absolutely great, but, as compared
to the plains of St. Fe, real mountains.  From these
inequalities there is an abundance of small rivulets, and
the turf is green and luxuriant.

November 17th. — We crossed the Rozario, which was
deep and rapid, and passing the village of Colla, arrived
at midday at Colonia del Sacramiento.  The distance is
twenty leagues, through a country covered with fine grass,
but poorly stocked with cattle or inhabitants.  I was invited
to sleep at Colonia, and to accompany on the following
day a gentleman to his estancia, where there were some
limestone rocks.  The town is built on a stony promontory
something in the same manner as at Monte Video.  It is
strongly fortified, but both fortifications and town suffered
much in the Brazilian war.  It is very ancient; and the
irregularity of the streets, and the surrounding groves of
old orange and peach trees, gave it a pretty appearance.
The church is a curious ruin; it was used as a powder-
magazine, and was struck by lightning in one of the ten
thousand thunder-storms of the Rio Plata.  Two-thirds of
the building were blown away to the very foundation; and
the rest stands a shattered and curious monument of the
united powers of lightning and gunpowder.  In the evening
I wandered about the half-demolished walls of the town.  It
was the chief seat of the Brazilian war; — a war most injurious
to this country, not so much in its immediate effects,
as in being the origin of a multitude of generals and all
other grades of officers.  More generals are numbered (but
not paid) in the United Provinces of La Plata than in the
United Kingdom of Great Britain.  These gentlemen have
learned to like power, and do not object to a little
skirmishing.  Hence there are many always on the watch to
create disturbance and to overturn a government which as yet
has never rested on any staple foundation.  I noticed, however,
both here and in other places, a very general interest
in the ensuing election for the President; and this appears
a good sign for the prosperity of this little country.  The
inhabitants do not require much education in their
representatives; I heard some men discussing the merits of those
for Colonia; and it was said that, "although they were not
men of business, they could all sign their names:" with this
they seemed to think every reasonable man ought to be
satisfied.

18th. — Rode with my host to his estancia, at the Arroyo
de San Juan.  In the evening we took a ride round the
estate: it contained two square leagues and a half, and was
situated in what is called a rincon; that is, one side was
fronted by the Plata, and the two others guarded by impassable
brooks.  There was an excellent port for little vessels,
and an abundance of small wood, which is valuable
as supplying fuel to Buenos Ayres.  I was curious to know
the value of so complete an estancia.  Of cattle there were
3000, and it would well support three or four times that
number; of mares 800, together with 150 broken-in horses,
and 600 sheep.  There was plenty of water and limestone,
a rough house, excellent corrals, and a peach orchard.  For
all this he had been offered 2000 Pounds, and he only wanted
500 Pounds additional, and probably would sell it for less.  The
chief trouble with an estancia is driving the cattle twice a
week to a central spot, in order to make them tame, and to count
them.  This latter operation would be thought difficult,
where there are ten or fifteen thousand head together.  It
is managed on the principle that the cattle invariably divide
themselves into little troops of from forty to one hundred.
Each troop is recognized by a few peculiarly marked
animals, and its number is known: so that, one being lost
out of ten thousand, it is perceived by its absence from one
of the tropillas.  During a stormy night the cattle all mingle
together; but the next morning the tropillas separate as
before; so that each animal must know its fellow out of ten
thousand others.

On two occasions I met with in this province some oxen
of a very curious breed, called nata or niata.  They appear
externally to hold nearly the same relation to other cattle,
which bull or pug dogs do to other dogs.  Their forehead
is very short and broad, with the nasal end turned up, and
the upper lip much drawn back; their lower jaws project
beyond the upper, and have a corresponding upward curve;
hence their teeth are always exposed.  Their nostrils are
seated high up and are very open; their eyes project outwards.
When walking they carry their heads low, on a short
neck; and their hinder legs are rather longer compared
with the front legs than is usual.  Their bare teeth, their
short heads, and upturned nostrils give them the most ludicrous
self-confident air of defiance imaginable.

Since my return, I have procured a skeleton head,
through the kindness of my friend Captain Sulivan, R. N.,
which is now deposited in the College of Surgeons. [1] Don
F. Muniz, of Luxan, has kindly collected for me all the
information which he could respecting this breed.  From his
account it seems that about eighty or ninety years ago, they
were rare and kept as curiosities at Buenos Ayres.  The
breed is universally believed to have originated amongst
the Indians southward of the Plata; and that it was with
them the commonest kind.  Even to this day, those reared
in the provinces near the Plata show their less civilized
origin, in being fiercer than common cattle, and in the cow
easily deserting her first calf, if visited too often or
molested.  It is a singular fact that an almost similar structure
to the abnormal [2] one of the niata breed, characterizes, as I
am informed by Dr. Falconer, that great extinct ruminant
of India, the Sivatherium.  The breed is very true; and a
niata bull and cow invariably produce niata calves.  A niata
bull with a common cow, or the reverse cross, produces offspring
having an intermediate character, but with the niata
characters strongly displayed: according to Senor Muniz,
there is the clearest evidence, contrary to the common belief
of agriculturists in analogous cases, that the niata cow when
crossed with a common bull transmits her peculiarities more
strongly than the niata bull when crossed with a common
cow.  When the pasture is tolerably long, the niata cattle
feed with the tongue and palate as well as common cattle;
but during the great droughts, when so many animals perish,
the niata breed is under a great disadvantage, and would
be exterminated if not attended to; for the common cattle,
like horses, are able just to keep alive, by browsing with
their lips on twigs of trees and reeds; this the niatas cannot
so well do, as their lips do not join, and hence they are found
to perish before the common cattle.  This strikes me as a
good illustration of how little we are able to judge from the
ordinary habits of life, on what circumstances, occurring
only at long intervals, the rarity or extinction of a species
may be determined.

November 19th.  —  Passing the valley of Las Vacas, we
slept at a house of a North American, who worked a lime-
kiln on the Arroyo de las Vivoras.  In the morning we rode
to a protecting headland on the banks of the river, called
Punta Gorda.  On the way we tried to find a jaguar.  There
were plenty of fresh tracks, and we visited the trees, on
which they are said to sharpen their claws; but we did not
succeed in disturbing one.  From this point the Rio Uruguay
presented to our view a noble volume of water.  From
the clearness and rapidity of the stream, its appearance was
far superior to that of its neighbour the Parana.  On the
opposite coast, several branches from the latter river entered
the Uruguay.  As the sun was shining, the two colours of
the waters could be seen quite distinct.

In the evening we proceeded on our road towards Mercedes
on the Rio Negro.  At night we asked permission to
sleep at an estancia at which we happened to arrive.  It was
a very large estate, being ten leagues square, and the owner
is one of the greatest landowners in the country.  His nephew
had charge of it, and with him there was a captain in
the army, who the other day ran away from Buenos Ayres.
Considering their station, their conversation was rather
amusing.  They expressed, as was usual, unbounded astonishment
at the globe being round, and could scarcely credit
that a hole would, if deep enough, come out on the other
side.  They had, however, heard of a country where there
were six months of light and six of darkness, and where
the inhabitants were very tall and thin!  They were curious
about the price and condition of horses and cattle in England.
Upon finding out we did not catch our animals with
the lazo, they cried out, "Ah, then, you use nothing but
the bolas:" the idea of an enclosed country was quite new
to them.  The captain at last said, he had one question to
ask me, which he should be very much obliged if I would
answer with all truth.  I trembled to think how deeply scientific
it would be: it was, "Whether the ladies of Buenos
Ayres were not the handsomest in the world." I replied, like
a renegade, "Charmingly so." He added, "I have one other
question: Do ladies in any other part of the world wear
such large combs?" I solemnly assured him that they did
not.  They were absolutely delighted.  The captain exclaimed,
"Look there! a man who has seen half the world
says it is the case; we always thought so, but now we know
it." My excellent judgment in combs and beauty procured
me a most hospitable reception; the captain forced me to
take his bed, and he would sleep on his recado.

21st. — Started at sunrise, and rode slowly during the
whole day.  The geological nature of this part of the province
was different from the rest, and closely resembled that
of the Pampas.  In consequence, there were immense beds
of the thistle, as well as of the cardoon: the whole country,
indeed, may be called one great bed of these plants.  The
two sorts grow separate, each plant in company with its
own kind.  The cardoon is as high as a horse's back, but the
Pampas thistle is often higher than the crown of the rider's
head.  To leave the road for a yard is out of the question;
and the road itself is partly, and in some cases entirely
closed.  Pasture, of course there is none; if cattle or horses
once enter the bed, they are for the time completely lost.
Hence it is very hazardous to attempt to drive cattle at
this season of the year; for when jaded enough to face the
thistles, they rush among them, and are seen no more.  In
these districts there are very few estancias, and these few
are situated in the neighbourhood of damp valleys, where
fortunately neither of these overwhelming plants can exist.
As night came on before we arrived at our journey's end,
we slept at a miserable little hovel inhabited by the poorest
people.  The extreme though rather formal courtesy of our
host and hostess, considering their grade of life, was quite
delightful.

November 22nd. — Arrived at an estancia on the Berquelo
belonging to a very hospitable Englishman, to whom I had
a letter of introduction from my friend Mr. Lumb.  I stayed
here three days.  One morning I rode with my host to the
Sierra del Pedro Flaco, about twenty miles up the Rio
Negro.  Nearly the whole country was covered with good
though coarse grass, which was as high as a horse's belly;
yet there were square leagues without a single head of cattle.
The province of Banda Oriental, if well stocked, would support
an astonishing number of animals, at present the annual
export of hides from Monte Video amounts to three
hundred thousand; and the home consumption, from waste,
is very considerable.  An "estanciero" told me that he often
had to send large herds of cattle a long journey to a salting
establishment, and that the tired beasts were frequently
obliged to be killed and skinned; but that he could never
persuade the Gauchos to eat of them, and every evening
a fresh beast was slaughtered for their suppers!  The view
of the Rio Negro from the Sierra was more picturesque than
any other which I saw in this province.  The river, broad,
deep, and rapid, wound at the foot of a rocky precipitous
cliff: a belt of wood followed its course, and the horizon
terminated in the distant undulations of the turf-plain.

When in this neighbourhood, I several times heard of
the Sierra de las Cuentas: a hill distant many miles to the
northward.  The name signifies hill of beads.  I was assured
that vast numbers of little round stones, of various colours,
each with a small cylindrical hole, are found there.  Formerly
the Indians used to collect them, for the purpose of
making necklaces and bracelets — a taste, I may observe,
which is common to all savage nations, as well as to the most
polished.  I did not know what to understand from this
story, but upon mentioning it at the Cape of Good Hope
to Dr. Andrew Smith, he told me that he recollected finding
on the south-eastern coast of Africa, about one hundred
miles to the eastward of St.  John's river, some quartz crystals
with their edges blunted from attrition, and mixed with
gravel on the sea-beach.  Each crystal was about five lines
in diameter, and from an inch to an inch and a half in
length.  Many of them had a small canal extending from
one extremity to the other, perfectly cylindrical, and of a
size that readily admitted a coarse thread or a piece of fine
catgut.  Their colour was red or dull white.  The natives
were acquainted with this structure in crystals.  I have
mentioned these circumstances because, although no crystallized
body is at present known to assume this form, it may
lead some future traveller to investigate the real nature of
such stones.


While staying at this estancia, I was amused with what
I saw and heard of the shepherd-dogs of the country. [3] When
riding, it is a common thing to meet a large flock of sheep
guarded by one or two dogs, at the distance of some miles
from any house or man.  I often wondered how so firm a
friendship had been established.  The method of education
consists in separating the puppy, while very young, from
the bitch, and in accustoming it to its future companions.
An ewe is held three or four times a day for the little thing
to suck, and a nest of wool is made for it in the sheep-pen;
at no time is it allowed to associate with other dogs, or with
the children of the family.  The puppy is, moreover, generally
castrated; so that, when grown up, it can scarcely
have any feelings in common with the rest of its kind.  From
this education it has no wish to leave the flock, and just
as another dog will defend its master, man, so will these
the sheep.  It is amusing to observe, when approaching a
flock, how the dog immediately advances barking, and the
sheep all close in his rear, as if round the oldest ram.  These
dogs are also easily taught to bring home the flock, at a
certain hour in the evening.  Their most troublesome fault,
when young, is their desire of playing with the sheep; for
in their sport they sometimes gallop their poor subjects most
unmercifully.

The shepherd-dog comes to the house every day for some
meat, and as soon as it is given him, he skulks away as if
ashamed of himself.  On these occasions the house-dogs are
very tyrannical, and the least of them will attack and pursue
the stranger.  The minute, however, the latter has reached
the flock, he turns round and begins to bark, and then all
the house-dogs take very quickly to their heels.  In a similar
manner a whole pack of the hungry wild dogs will scarcely
ever (and I was told by some never) venture to attack a
flock guarded by even one of these faithful shepherds.  The
whole account appears to me a curious instance of the pliability
of the affections in the dog; and yet, whether wild or
however educated, he has a feeling of respect or fear for
those that are fulfilling their instinct of association.  For
we can understand on no principle the wild dogs being
driven away by the single one with its flock, except that they
consider, from some confused notion, that the one thus
associated gains power, as if in company with its own kind.
F. Cuvier has observed that all animals that readily enter
into domestication, consider man as a member of their own
society, and thus fulfil their instinct of association.  In
the above case the shepherd-dog ranks the sheep as its fellow-
brethren, and thus gains confidence; and the wild dogs,
though knowing that the individual sheep are not dogs, but
are good to eat, yet partly consent to this view when seeing
them in a flock with a shepherd-dog at their head.

One evening a "domidor" (a subduer of horses) came
for the purpose of breaking-in some colts.  I will describe
the preparatory steps, for I believe they have not been
mentioned by other travellers.  A troop of wild young horses
is driven into the corral, or large enclosure of stakes, and
the door is shut.  We will suppose that one man alone has
to catch and mount a horse, which as yet had never felt
bridle or saddle.  I conceive, except by a Gaucho, such a feat
would be utterly impracticable.  The Gaucho picks out a
full-grown colt; and as the beast rushes round the circus
he throws his lazo so as to catch both the front legs.  Instantly
the horse rolls over with a heavy shock, and whilst
struggling on the ground, the Gaucho, holding the lazo
tight, makes a circle, so as to catch one of the hind legs
just beneath the fetlock, and draws it close to the two front
legs: he then hitches the lazo, so that the three are bound
together.  Then sitting on the horse's neck, he fixes a strong
bridle, without a bit, to the lower jaw: this he does by passing
a narrow thong through the eye-holes at the end of the
reins, and several times round both jaw and tongue.  The
two front legs are now tied closely together with a strong
leathern thong, fastened by a slip-knot.  The lazo, which
bound the three together, being then loosed, the horse rises
with difficulty.  The Gaucho now holding fast the bridle
fixed to the lower jaw, leads the horse outside the corral.  If
a second man is present (otherwise the trouble is much
greater) he holds the animal's head, whilst the first puts on
the horsecloths and saddle, and girths the whole together.
During this operation, the horse, from dread and astonishment
at thus being bound round the waist, throws himself
over and over again on the ground, and, till beaten, is
unwilling to rise.  At last, when the saddling is finished, the
poor animal can hardly breathe from fear, and is white with
foam and sweat.  The man now prepares to mount by pressing
heavily on the stirrup, so that the horse may not lose
its balance; and at the moment that he throws his leg over
the animal's back, he pulls the slip-knot binding the front
legs, and the beast is free.  Some "domidors" pull the knot
while the animal is lying on the ground, and, standing over
the saddle, allow him to rise beneath them.  The horse, wild
with dread, gives a few most violent bounds, and then starts
off at full gallop: when quite exhausted, the man, by patience,
brings him back to the corral, where, reeking hot and
scarcely alive, the poor beast is let free.  Those animals
which will not gallop away, but obstinately throw themselves
on the ground, are by far the most troublesome.  This process
is tremendously severe, but in two or three trials the horse
is tamed.  It is not, however, for some weeks that the animal
is ridden with the iron bit and solid ring, for it must learn
to associate the will of its rider with the feel of the rein,
before the most powerful bridle can be of any service.

Animals are so abundant in these countries, that humanity
and self-interest are not closely united; therefore I
fear it is that the former is here scarcely known.  One day,
riding in the Pampas with a very respectable "estanciero,"
my horse, being tired, lagged behind.  The man often shouted
to me to spur him.  When I remonstrated that it was a pity,
for the horse was quite exhausted, he cried out, "Why not?
— never mind — spur him — it is my horse." I had then some
difficulty in making him comprehend that it was for the
horse's sake, and not on his account, that I did not choose
to use my spurs.  He exclaimed, with a look of great surprise,
"Ah, Don Carlos, que cosa!" It was clear that such
an idea had never before entered his head.

The Gauchos are well known to be perfect riders The
idea of being thrown, let the horse do what it likes; never
enters their head.  Their criterion of a good rider is, a man
who can manage an untamed colt, or who, if his horse falls,
alights on his own feet, or can perform other such exploits.
I have heard of a man betting that he would throw his horse
down twenty times, and that nineteen times he would not
fall himself.  I recollect seeing a Gaucho riding a very
stubborn horse, which three times successively reared so
high as to fall backwards with great violence.  The man
judged with uncommon coolness the proper moment for
slipping off, not an instant before or after the right time;
and as soon as the horse got up, the man jumped on his back,
and at last they started at a gallop.  The Gaucho never appears
to exert any muscular force.  I was one day watching
a good rider, as we were galloping along at a rapid pace,
and thought to myself, "Surely if the horse starts, you
appear so careless on your seat, you must fall." At this moment,
a male ostrich sprang from its nest right beneath the
horse's nose: the young colt bounded on one side like a stag;
but as for the man, all that could be said was, that he started
and took fright with his horse.

In Chile and Peru more pains are taken with the mouth
of the horse than in La Plata, and this is evidently a
consequence of the more intricate nature of the country.  In
Chile a horse is not considered perfectly broken, till he can
be brought up standing, in the midst of his full speed, on
any particular spot, — for instance, on a cloak thrown on
the ground: or, again, he will charge a wall, and rearing,
scrape the surface with his hoofs.  I have seen an animal
bounding with spirit, yet merely reined by a fore-finger and
thumb, taken at full gallop across a courtyard, and then
made to wheel round the post of a veranda with great speed,
but at so equal a distance, that the rider, with outstretched
arm, all the while kept one finger rubbing the post.  Then
making a demi-volte in the air, with the other arm outstretched
in a like manner, he wheeled round, with astonishing
force, in an opposite direction.

Such a horse is well broken; and although this at first
may appear useless, it is far otherwise.  It is only carrying
that which is daily necessary into perfection.  When a bullock
is checked and caught by the lazo, it will sometimes
gallop round and round in a circle, and the horse being
alarmed at the great strain, if not well broken, will not
readily turn like the pivot of a wheel.  In consequence many
men have been killed; for if the lazo once takes a twist
round a man's body, it will instantly, from the power of the
two opposed animals, almost cut him in twain.  On the
same principle the races are managed; the course is only
two or three hundred yards long, the wish being to have
horses that can make a rapid dash.  The racehorses are
trained not only to stand with their hoofs touching a line,
but to draw all four feet together, so as at the first spring
to bring into play the full action of the hind-quarters.  In
Chile I was told an anecdote, which I believe was true; and
it offers a good illustration of the use of a well-broken
animal.  A respectable man riding one day met two others, one
of whom was mounted on a horse, which he knew to have
been stolen from himself.  He challenged them; they answered
him by drawing their sabres and giving chase.  The
man, on his good and fleet beast, kept just ahead: as he
passed a thick bush he wheeled round it, and brought up
his horse to a dead check.  The pursuers were obliged to
shoot on one side and ahead.  Then instantly dashing on,
right behind them, he buried his knife in the back of one,
wounded the other, recovered his horse from the dying
robber, and rode home.  For these feats of horsemanship
two things are necessary: a most severe bit, like the Mameluke,
the power of which, though seldom used, the horse
knows full well; and large blunt spurs, that can be applied
either as a mere touch, or as an instrument of extreme pain.
I conceive that with English spurs, the slightest touch of
which pricks the skin, it would be impossible to break in a
horse after the South American fashion

At an estancia near Las Vacas large numbers of mares
are weekly slaughtered for the sake of their hides, although
worth only five paper dollars, or about half a crown apiece.
It seems at first strange that it can answer to kill mares
for such a trifle; but as it is thought ridiculous in this
country ever to break in or ride a mare, they are of no value
except for breeding.  The only thing for which I ever saw
mares used, was to tread out wheat from the ear, for which
purpose they were driven round a circular enclosure, where
the wheat-sheaves were strewed.  The man employed for
slaughtering the mares happened to be celebrated for his
dexterity with the lazo.  Standing at the distance of twelve
yards from the mouth of the corral, he has laid a wager
that he would catch by the legs every animal, without missing
one, as it rushed past him.  There was another man
who said he would enter the corral on foot, catch a mare,
fasten her front legs together, drive her out, throw her down,
kill, skin, and stake the hide for drying (which latter is a
tedious job); and he engaged that he would perform this
whole operation on twenty-two animals in one day.  Or he
would kill and take the skin off fifty in the same time.  This
would have been a prodigious task, for it is considered a
good day's work to skin and stake the hides of fifteen or
sixteen animals.

November 26th. — I set out on my return in a direct line
for Monte Video.  Having heard of some giant's bones at
a neighbouring farm-house on the Sarandis, a small stream
entering the Rio Negro, I rode there accompanied by my
host, and purchased for the value of eighteen pence the head
of the Toxodon. [4] When found it was quite perfect; but
the boys knocked out some of the teeth with stones, and then
set up the head as a mark to throw at.  By a most fortunate
chance I found a perfect tooth, which exactly fitted one of
the sockets in this skull, embedded by itself on the banks
of the Rio Tercero, at the distance of about 180 miles from
this place.  I found remains of this extraordinary animal
at two other places, so that it must formerly have been common.
I found here, also, some large portions of the armour
of a gigantic armadillo-like animal, and part of the great
head of a Mylodon.  The bones of this head are so fresh,
that they contain, according to the analysis by Mr. T. Reeks,
seven per cent of animal matter; and when placed in a
spirit-lamp, they burn with a small flame.  The number
of the remains embedded in the grand estuary deposit which
forms the Pampas and covers the granitic rocks of Banda
Oriental, must be extraordinarily great.  I believe a straight
line drawn in any direction through the Pampas would cut
through some skeleton or bones.  Besides those which I
found during my short excursions, I heard of many others,
and the origin of such names as "the stream of the animal,"
"the hill of the giant," is obvious.  At other times I heard
of the marvellous property of certain rivers, which had the
power of changing small bones into large; or, as some
maintained, the bones themselves grew.  As far as I am aware,
not one of these animals perished, as was formerly supposed,
in the marshes or muddy river-beds of the present land, but
their bones have been exposed by the streams intersecting the
subaqueous deposit in which they were originally embedded.
We may conclude that the whole area of the Pampas is one
wide sepulchre of these extinct gigantic quadrupeds.

By the middle of the day, on the 28th, we arrived at
Monte Video, having been two days and a half on the road.
The country for the whole way was of a very uniform character,
some parts being rather more rocky and hilly than
near the Plata.  Not far from Monte Video we passed
through the village of Las Pietras, so named from some
large rounded masses of syenite.  Its appearance was rather
pretty.  In this country a few fig-trees round a group of
houses, and a site elevated a hundred feet above the general
level, ought always to be called picturesque.


During the last six months I have had an opportunity of
seeing a little of the character of the inhabitants of these
provinces.  The Gauchos, or countryrmen, are very superior
to those who reside in the towns.  The Gaucho is invariably
most obliging, polite, and hospitable: I did not meet with
even one instance of rudeness or inhospitality.  He is modest,
both respecting himself and country, but at the same
time a spirited, bold fellow.  On the other hand, many robberies
are committed, and there is much bloodshed: the
habit of constantly wearing the knife is the chief cause
of the latter.  It is lamentable to hear how many lives are
lost in trifling quarrels.  In fighting, each party tries to
mark the face of his adversary by slashing his nose or eyes;
as is often attested by deep and horrid-looking scars.  Robberies
are a natural consequence of universal gambling,
much drinking, and extreme indolence.  At Mercedes I asked
two men why they did not work.  One gravely said the days
were too long; the other that he was too poor.  The number
of horses and the profusion of food are the destruction of
all industry.  Moreover, there are so many feast-days; and
again, nothing can succeed without it be begun when the
moon is on the increase; so that half the month is lost from
these two causes.

Police and justice are quite inefficient.  If a man who is
poor commits murder and is taken, he will be imprisoned,
and perhaps even shot; but if he is rich and has friends,
he may rely on it no very severe consequence will ensue.
It is curious that the most respectable inhabitants of the
country invariably assist a murderer to escape: they seem
to think that the individual sins against the government,
and not against the people.  A traveller has no protection
besides his fire-arms; and the constant habit of carrying
them is the main check to more frequent robberies.
The character of the higher and more educated classes
who reside in the towns, partakes, but perhaps in a lesser
degree, of the good parts of the Gaucho, but is, I fear, stained
by many vices of which he is free.  Sensuality, mockery of
all religion, and the grossest corruption, are far from
uncommon.  Nearly every public officer can be bribed.  The
head man in the post-office sold forged government franks.
The governor and prime minister openly combined to plunder
the state.  Justice, where gold came into play, was
hardly expected by any one.  I knew an Englishman, who
went to the Chief Justice (he told me, that not then
understanding the ways of the place, he trembled as he entered
the room), and said, "Sir, I have come to offer you two hundred
(paper) dollars (value about five pounds sterling) if
you will arrest before a certain time a man who has cheated
me.  I know it is against the law, but my lawyer (naming
him) recommended me to take this step." The Chief Justice
smiled acquiescence, thanked him, and the man before
night was safe in prison.  With this entire want of principle
in many of the leading men, with the country full of
ill-paid turbulent officers, the people yet hope that a
democratic form of government can succeed!

On first entering society in these countries, two or three
features strike one as particularly remarkable.  The polite
and dignified manners pervading every rank of life, the
excellent taste displayed by the women in their dresses, and
the equality amongst all ranks.  At the Rio Colorado some
men who kept the humblest shops used to dine with General
Rosas.  A son of a major at Bahia Blanca gained his
livelihood by making paper cigars, and he wished to accompany
me, as guide or servant, to Buenos Ayres, but his
father objected on the score of the danger alone.  Many
officers in the army can neither read nor write, yet all meet
in society as equals.  In Entre Rios, the Sala consisted of
only six representatives.  One of them kept a common shop,
and evidently was not degraded by the office.  All this is
what would be expected in a new country; nevertheless the
absence of gentlemen by profession appears to an Englishman
something strange.

When speaking of these countries, the manner in which
they have been brought up by their unnatural parent, Spain,
should always be borne in mind.  On the whole, perhaps,
more credit is due for what has been done, than blame for
that which may be deficient.  It is impossible to doubt but
that the extreme liberalism of these countries must ultimately
lead to good results.  The very general toleration of
foreign religions, the regard paid to the means of education,
the freedom of the press, the facilities offered to all
foreigners, and especially, as I am bound to add, to every one
professing the humblest pretensions to science, should be
recollected with gratitude by those who have visited Spanish
South America.

December 6th. — The Beagle sailed from the Rio Plata,
never again to enter its muddy stream.  Our course was
directed to Port Desire, on the coast of Patagonia.  Before
proceeding any further, I will here put together a few
observations made at sea.

Several times when the ship has been some miles off the
mouth of the Plata, and at other times when off the shores
of Northern Patagonia, we have been surrounded by insects.
One evening, when we were about ten miles from the Bay
of San Blas, vast numbers of butterflies, in bands or flocks
of countless myriads, extended as far as the eye could range.
Even by the aid of a telescope it was not possible to see a
space free from butterflies.  The seamen cried out "it was
snowing butterflies," and such in fact was the appearance.
More species than one were present, but the main part belonged
to a kind very similar to, but not identical with, the
common English Colias edusa.  Some moths and hymenoptera
accompanied the butterflies; and a fine beetle (Calosoma)
flew on board.  Other instances are known of this
beetle having been caught far out at sea; and this is the
more remarkable, as the greater number of the Carabidae
seldom or never take wing.  The day had been fine and calm,
and the one previous to it equally so, with light and variable
airs.  Hence we cannot suppose that the insects were blown
off the land, but we must conclude that they voluntarily took
flight.  The great bands of the Colias seem at first to afford
an instance like those on record of the migrations of another
butterfly, Vanessa cardui; [5] but the presence of other insects
makes the case distinct, and even less intelligible.  Before
sunset a strong breeze sprung up from the north, and this
must have caused tens of thousands of the butterflies and
other insects to have perished.

On another occasion, when seventeen miles off Cape Corrientes,
I had a net overboard to catch pelagic animals.
Upon drawing it up, to my surprise, I found a considerable
number of beetles in it, and although in the open sea, they
did not appear much injured by the salt water.  I lost some
of the specimens, but those which I preserved belonged
to the genera Colymbetes, Hydroporus, Hydrobius (two species),
Notaphus, Cynucus, Adimonia, and Scarabaeus.  At
first I thought that these insects had been blown from the
shore; but upon reflecting that out of the eight species four
were aquatic, and two others partly so in their habits, it
appeared to me most probable that they were floated into the
sea by a small stream which drains a lake near Cape Corrientes.
On any supposition it is an interesting circumstance
to find live insects swimming in the open ocean seventeen
miles from the nearest point of land.  There are several
accounts of insects having been blown off the Patagonian
shore.  Captain Cook observed it, as did more lately Captain
King of the Adventure.  The cause probably is due to the
want of shelter, both of trees and hills, so that an insect on
the wing with an off-shore breeze, would be very apt to
be blown out to sea.  The most remarkable instance I have
known of an insect being caught far from the land, was that
of a large grasshopper (Acrydium), which flew on board,
when the Beagle was to windward of the Cape de Verd
Islands, and when the nearest point of land, not directly
opposed to the trade-wind, was Cape Blanco on the coast of
Africa, 370 miles distant. [6]

On several occasions, when the Beagle has been within
the mouth of the Plata, the rigging has been coated with
the web of the Gossamer Spider.  One day (November 1st,
1832) I paid particular attention to this subject.  The weather
had been fine and clear, and in the morning the air was full
of patches of the flocculent web, as on an autumnal day in
England.  The ship was sixty miles distant from the land, in
the direction of a steady though light breeze.  Vast numbers
of a small spider, about one-tenth of an inch in length, and of
a dusky red colour, were attached to the webs.  There must
have been, I should suppose, some thousands on the ship.  The
little spider, when first coming in contact with the rigging,
was always seated on a single thread, and not on the flocculent
mass.  This latter seems merely to be produced by the
entanglement of the single threads.  The spiders were all of
one species, but of both sexes, together with young ones.
These latter were distinguished by their smaller size and
more dusky colour.  I will not give the description of this
spider, but merely state that it does not appear to me to be
included in any of Latreille's genera.  The little aeronaut as
soon as it arrived on board was very active, running about,
sometimes letting itself fall, and then reascending the same
thread; sometimes employing itself in making a small and
very irregular mesh in the corners between the ropes.  It
could run with facility on the surface of the water.  When
disturbed it lifted up its front legs, in the attitude of
attention.  On its first arrival it appeared very thirsty, and
with exserted maxillae drank eagerly of drops of water, this
same circumstance has been observed by Strack: may it not be in
consequence of the little insect having passed through a dry
and rarefied atmosphere?  Its stock of web seemed inexhaustible.
While watching some that were suspended by a
single thread, I several times observed that the slightest
breath of air bore them away out of sight, in a horizontal
line.

On another occasion (25th) under similar circumstances,
I repeatedly observed the same kind of small spider,
either when placed or having crawled on some little eminence,
elevate its abdomen, send forth a thread, and then
sail away horizontally, but with a rapidity which was quite
unaccountable.  I thought I could perceive that the spider,
before performing the above preparatory steps, connected
its legs together with the most delicate threads, but I am not
sure whether this observation was correct.

One day, at St. Fe, I had a better opportunity of observing
some similar facts.  A spider which was about three-tenths
of an inch in length, and which in its general appearance
resembled a Citigrade (therefore quite different from the
gossamer), while standing on the summit of a post, darted
forth four or five threads from its spinners.  These, glittering
in the sunshine, might be compared to diverging rays of
light; they were not, however, straight, but in undulations
like films of silk blown by the wind.  They were more than a
yard in length, and diverged in an ascending direction from
the orifices.  The spider then suddenly let go its hold of the
post, and was quickly borne out of sight.  The day was hot
and apparently calm; yet under such circumstances, the
atmosphere can never be so tranquil as not to affect a vane so
delicate as the thread of a spider's web.  If during a warm
day we look either at the shadow of any object cast on a
bank, or over a level plain at a distant landmark, the effect
of an ascending current of heated air is almost always evident:
such upward currents, it has been remarked, are also
shown by the ascent of soap-bubbles, which will not rise in
an in-doors room.  Hence I think there is not much difficulty
in understanding the ascent of the fine lines projected from
a spider's spinners, and afterwards of the spider itself; the
divergence of the lines has been attempted to be explained, I
believe by Mr. Murray, by their similar electrical condition.
The circumstance of spiders of the same species, but of
different sexes and ages, being found on several occasions at
the distance of many leagues from the land, attached in vast
numbers to the lines, renders it probable that the habit of
sailing through the air is as characteristic of this tribe, as
that of diving is of the Argyroneta.  We may then reject
Latreille's supposition, that the gossamer owes its origin
indifferently to the young of several genera of spiders:
although, as we have seen, the young of other spiders do
possess the power of performing aerial voyages. [7]

During our different passages south of the Plata, I often
towed astern a net made of bunting, and thus caught many
curious animals.  Of Crustacea there were many strange
and undescribed genera.  One, which in some respects is
allied to the Notopods (or those crabs which have their
posterior legs placed almost on their backs, for the purpose
of adhering to the under side of rocks), is very remarkable
from the structure of its hind pair of legs.  The penultimate
joint, instead of terminating in a simple claw, ends in three
bristle-like appendages of dissimilar lengths — the longest
equalling that of the entire leg.  These claws are very thin,
and are serrated with the finest teeth, directed backwards:
their curved extremities are flattened, and on this part five
most minute cups are placed which seem to act in the same
manner as the suckers on the arms of the cuttle-fish.  As
the animal lives in the open sea, and probably wants a place
of rest, I suppose this beautiful and most anomalous structure
is adapted to take hold of floating marine animals.

In deep water, far from the land, the number of living
creatures is extremely small: south of the latitude 35 degs.,
I never succeeded in catching anything besides some beroe,
and a few species of minute entomostracous crustacea.
In shoaler water, at the distance of a few miles from the
coast, very many kinds of crustacea and some other animals
are numerous, but only during the night.  Between latitudes
56 and 57 degs. south of Cape Horn, the net was put
astern several times; it never, however, brought up anything
besides a few of two extremely minute species of Entomostraca.
Yet whales and seals, petrels and albatross, are exceedingly
abundant throughout this part of the ocean.  It has always
been a mystery to me on what the albatross, which lives far
from the shore, can subsist; I presume that, like the condor,
it is able to fast long; and that one good feast on the carcass
of a putrid whale lasts for a long time.  The central and
intertropical parts of the Atlantic swarm with Pteropoda,
Crustacea, and Radiata, and with their devourers the flying-
fish, and again with their devourers the bonitos and albicores;
I presume that the numerous lower pelagic animals
feed on the Infusoria, which are now known, from the
researches of Ehrenberg, to abound in the open ocean: but
on what, in the clear blue water, do these Infusoria subsist?

While sailing a little south of the Plata on one very dark
night, the sea presented a wonderful and most beautiful
spectacle.  There was a fresh breeze, and every part of the
surface, which during the day is seen as foam, now glowed
with a pale light.  The vessel drove before her bows two
billows of liquid phosphorus, and in her wake she was followed
by a milky train.  As far as the eye reached, the crest
of every wave was bright, and the sky above the horizon,
from the reflected glare of these livid flames, was not so
utterly obscure as over the vault of the heavens.

As we proceed further southward the sea is seldom
phosphorescent; and off Cape Horn I do not recollect more than
once having seen it so, and then it was far from being
brilliant.  This circumstance probably has a close connection
with the scarcity of organic beings in that part of the ocean.
After the elaborate paper, [8] by Ehrenberg, on the
phosphorescence of the sea, it is almost superfluous on my part
to make any observations on the subject.  I may however
add, that the same torn and irregular particles of gelatinous
matter, described by Ehrenberg, seem in the southern as
well as in the northern hemisphere, to be the common cause
of this phenomenon.  The particles were so minute as easily
to pass through fine gauze; yet many were distinctly visible
by the naked eye.  The water when placed in a tumbler and
agitated, gave out sparks, but a small portion in a watch-
glass scarcely ever was luminous.  Ehrenberg states that
these particles all retain a certain degree of irritability.  My
observations, some of which were made directly after taking
up the water, gave a different result.  I may also mention,
that having used the net during one night, I allowed it to
become partially dry, and having occasion twelve hours
afterwards to employ it again, I found the whole surface
sparkled as brightly as when first taken out of the water.
It does not appear probable in this case, that the particles
could have remained so long alive.  On one occasion having
kept a jelly-fish of the genus Dianaea till it was dead, the
water in which it was placed became luminous.  When the
waves scintillate with bright green sparks, I believe it is
generally owing to minute crustacea.  But there can be no
doubt that very many other pelagic animals, when alive, are
phosphorescent.

On two occasions I have observed the sea luminous at
considerable depths beneath the surface.  Near the mouth
of the Plata some circular and oval patches, from two to
four yards in diameter, and with defined outlines, shone with
a steady but pale light; while the surrounding water only
gave out a few sparks.  The appearance resembled the reflection
of the moon, or some luminous body; for the edges were
sinuous from the undulations of the surface.  The ship,
which drew thirteen feet of water, passed over, without
disturbing these patches.  Therefore we must suppose that some
animals were congregated together at a greater depth than
the bottom of the vessel.

Near Fernando Noronha the sea gave out light in flashes.
The appearance was very similar to that which might be
expected from a large fish moving rapidly through a luminous
fluid.  To this cause the sailors attributed it; at the
time, however, I entertained some doubts, on account of the
frequency and rapidity of the flashes.  I have already
remarked that the phenomenon is very much more common
in warm than in cold countries; and I have sometimes imagined
that a disturbed electrical condition of the atmosphere
was most favourable to its production.  Certainly I
think the sea is most luminous after a few days of more
calm weather than ordinary, during which time it has
swarmed with various animals.  Observing that the water
charged with gelatinous particles is in an impure state, and
that the luminous appearance in all common cases is produced
by the agitation of the fluid in contact with the atmosphere,
I am inclined to consider that the phosphorescence is
the result of the decomposition of the organic particles, by
which process (one is tempted almost to call it a kind of
respiration) the ocean becomes purified.

December 23rd. — We arrived at Port Desire, situated in
lat. 47 degs., on the coast of Patagonia.  The creek runs for
about twenty miles inland, with an irregular width.  The
Beagle anchored a few miles within the entrance, in front of
the ruins of an old Spanish settlement.

The same evening I went on shore.  The first landing in
any new country is very interesting, and especially when, as in
this case, the whole aspect bears the stamp of a marked and
individual character.  At the height of between two and
three hundred feet above some masses of porphyry a wide
plain extends, which is truly characteristic of Patagonia.
The surface is quite level, and is composed of well-rounded
shingle mixed with a whitish earth.  Here and there scattered
tufts of brown wiry grass are supported, and still more
rarely, some low thorny bushes.  The weather is dry and
pleasant, and the fine blue sky is but seldom obscured.  When
standing in the middle of one of these desert plains and
looking towards the interior, the view is generally bounded
by the escarpment of another plain, rather higher, but equally
level and desolate; and in every other direction the horizon
is indistinct from the trembling mirage which seems to rise
from the heated surface.

In such a country the fate of the Spanish settlement was
soon decided; the dryness of the climate during the greater
part of the year, and the occasional hostile attacks of the
wandering Indians, compelled the colonists to desert their
half-finished buildings.  The style, however, in which they
were commenced shows the strong and liberal hand of Spain
in the old time.  The result of all the attempts to colonize this
side of America south of 41 degs., has been miserable.  Port
Famine expresses by its name the lingering and extreme
sufferings of several hundred wretched people, of whom one
alone survived to relate their misfortunes.  At St. Joseph's
Bay, on the coast of Patagonia, a small settlement was made;
but during one Sunday the Indians made an attack and massacred
the whole party, excepting two men, who remained
captives during many years.  At the Rio Negro I conversed
with one of these men, now in extreme old age.

The zoology of Patagonia is as limited as its flora. [9] On
the arid plains a few black beetles (Heteromera) might be
seen slowly crawling about, and occasionally a lizard darted
from side to side.  Of birds we have three carrion hawks
and in the valleys a few finches and insect-feeders.  An ibis
(Theristicus melanops — a species said to be found in central
Africa) is not uncommon on the most desert parts: in
their stomachs I found grasshoppers, cicadae, small lizards,
and even scorpions. [10] At one time of the year these birds
go in flocks, at another in pairs, their cry is very loud and
singular, like the neighing of the guanaco.

The guanaco, or wild llama, is the characteristic quadruped
of the plains of Patagonia; it is the South American
representative of the camel of the East.  It is an elegant
animal in a state of nature, with a long slender neck and
fine legs.  It is very common over the whole of the temperate
parts of the continent, as far south as the islands near Cape
Horn.  It generally lives in small herds of from half a dozen
to thirty in each; but on the banks of the St. Cruz we saw
one herd which must have contained at least five hundred.

They are generally wild and extremely wary.  Mr. Stokes
told me, that he one day saw through a glass a herd of these
animals which evidently had been frightened, and were running
away at full speed, although their distance was so great
that he could not distinguish them with his naked eye.  The
sportsman frequently receives the first notice of their
presence, by hearing from a long distance their peculiar shrill
neighing note of alarm.  If he then looks attentively, he will
probably see the herd standing in a line on the side of some
distant hill.  On approaching nearer, a few more squeals are
given, and off they set at an apparently slow, but really quick
canter, along some narrow beaten track to a neighbouring
hill.  If, however, by chance he abruptly meets a single animal,
or several together, they will generally stand motionless
and intently gaze at him; then perhaps move on a few yards,
turn round, and look again.  What is the cause of this difference
in their shyness?  Do they mistake a man in the distance
for their chief enemy the puma?  Or does curiosity
overcome their timidity?  That they are curious is certain;
for if a person lies on the ground, and plays strange antics,
such as throwing up his feet in the air, they will almost
always approach by degrees to reconnoitre him.  It was an
artifice that was repeatedly practised by our sportsmen with
success, and it had moreover the advantage of allowing several
shots to be fired, which were all taken as parts of the
performance.  On the mountains of Tierra del Fuego, I have
more than once seen a guanaco, on being approached, not
only neigh and squeal, but prance and leap about in the most
ridiculous manner, apparently in defiance as a challenge.
These animals are very easily domesticated, and I have seen
some thus kept in northern Patagonia near a house, though
not under any restraint.  They are in this state very bold, and
readily attack a man by striking him from behind with both
knees.  It is asserted that the motive for these attacks is
jealousy on account of their females.  The wild guanacos,
however, have no idea of defence; even a single dog will
secure one of these large animals, till the huntsman can come
up.  In many of their habits they are like sheep in a flock.
Thus when they see men approaching in several directions
on horseback, they soon become bewildered, and know not
which way to run.  This greatly facilitates the Indian method
of hunting, for they are thus easily driven to a central point,
and are encompassed.

The guanacos readily take to the water: several times at
Port Valdes they were seen swimming from island to island.
Byron, in his voyage says he saw them drinking salt water.
Some of our officers likewise saw a herd apparently drinking
the briny fluid from a salina near Cape Blanco.  I imagine
in several parts of the country, if they do not drink salt
water, they drink none at all.  In the middle of the day they
frequently roll in the dust, in saucer-shaped hollows.  The
males fight together; two one day passed quite close to me,
squealing and trying to bite each other; and several were
shot with their hides deeply scored.  Herds sometimes appear
to set out on exploring parties: at Bahia Blanca, where,
within thirty miles of the coast, these animals are extremely
unfrequent, I one day saw the tracks of thirty or forty, which
had come in a direct line to a muddy salt-water creek.  They
then must have perceived that they were approaching the
sea, for they had wheeled with the regularity of cavalry, and
had returned back in as straight a line as they had advanced.
The guanacos have one singular habit, which is to me quite
inexplicable; namely, that on successive days they drop their
dung in the same defined heap.  I saw one of these heaps
which was eight feet in diameter, and was composed of a
large quantity.  This habit, according to M. A. d'Orbigny, is
common to all the species of the genus; it is very useful to
the Peruvian Indians, who use the dung for fuel, and are
thus saved the trouble of collecting it.

The guanacos appear to have favourite spots for lying
down to die.  On the banks of the St. Cruz, in certain
circumscribed spaces, which were generally bushy and all near
the river, the ground was actually white with bones.  On one
such spot I counted between ten and twenty heads.  I particularly
examined the bones; they did not appear, as some
scattered ones which I had seen, gnawed or broken, as if
dragged together by beasts of prey.  The animals in most
cases must have crawled, before dying, beneath and amongst
the bushes.  Mr. Bynoe informs me that during a former
voyage he observed the same circumstance on the banks of
the Rio Gallegos.  I do not at all understand the reason of
this, but I may observe, that the wounded guanacos at the
St. Cruz invariably walked towards the river.  At St. Jago
in the Cape de Verd Islands, I remember having seen in a
ravine a retired corner covered with bones of the goat; we
at the time exclaimed that it was the burial ground of all the
goats in the island.  I mention these trifling circumstances,
because in certain cases they might explain the occurrence
of a number of uninjured bones in a cave, or buried under
alluvial accumulations; and likewise the cause why certain
animals are more commonly embedded than others in sedimentary
deposits.

One day the yawl was sent under the command of Mr.
Chaffers with three days' provisions to survey the upper part
of the harbour.  In the morning we searched for some
watering-places mentioned in an old Spanish chart.  We found one
creek, at the head of which there was a trickling rill (the
first we had seen) of brackish water.  Here the tide compelled
us to wait several hours; and in the interval I walked
some miles into the interior.  The plain as usual consisted
of gravel, mingled with soil resembling chalk in appearance,
but very different from it in nature.  From the softness of
these materials it was worn into many gulleys.  There was
not a tree, and, excepting the guanaco, which stood on the
hill-top a watchful sentinel over its herd, scarcely an animal
or a bird.  All was stillness and desolation.  Yet in passing
over these scenes, without one bright object near, an
ill-defined but strong sense of pleasure is vividly excited.
One asked how many ages the plain had thus lasted, and how
many more it was doomed thus to continue.

"None can reply — all seems eternal now.
The wilderness has a mysterious tongue,
Which teaches awful doubt." [11]

In the evening we sailed a few miles further up, and then
pitched the tents for the night.  By the middle of the next
day the yawl was aground, and from the shoalness of the
water could not proceed any higher.  The water being found
partly fresh, Mr. Chaffers took the dingey and went up two
or three miles further, where she also grounded, but in a
fresh-water river.  The water was muddy, and though the
stream was most insignificant in size, it would be difficult to
account for its origin, except from the melting snow on the
Cordillera.  At the spot where we bivouacked, we were surrounded
by bold cliffs and steep pinnacles of porphyry.  I do
not think I ever saw a spot which appeared more secluded
from the rest of the world, than this rocky crevice in the
wide plain.

The second day after our return to the anchorage, a party
of officers and myself went to ransack an old Indian grave,
which I had found on the summit of a neighbouring hill.
Two immense stones, each probably weighing at least a
couple of tons, had been placed in front of a ledge of rock
about six feet high.  At the bottom of the grave on the hard
rock there was a layer of earth about a foot deep, which
must have been brought up from the plain below.  Above it a
pavement of flat stones was placed, on which others were
piled, so as to fill up the space between the ledge and the two
great blocks.  To complete the grave, the Indians had contrived
to detach from the ledge a huge fragment, and to
throw it over the pile so as to rest on the two blocks.  We
undermined the grave on both sides, but could not find any
relics, or even bones.  The latter probably had decayed long
since (in which case the grave must have been of extreme
antiquity), for I found in another place some smaller heaps
beneath which a very few crumbling fragments could yet be
distinguished as having belonged to a man.  Falconer states,
that where an Indian dies he is buried, but that subsequently
his bones are carefully taken up and carried, let the distance
be ever so great, to be deposited near the sea-coast.  This
custom, I think, may be accounted for by recollecting, that
before the introduction of horses, these Indians must have
led nearly the same life as the Fuegians now do, and therefore
generally have resided in the neighbourhood of the sea.
The common prejudice of lying where one's ancestors have
lain, would make the now roaming Indians bring the less
perishable part of their dead to their ancient burial-ground
on the coast.

January 9th, 1834. — Before it was dark the Beagle anchored
in the fine spacious harbour of Port St. Julian, situated
about one hundred and ten miles to the south of Port Desire.
We remained here eight days.  The country is nearly similar
to that of Port Desire, but perhaps rather more sterile.  One
day a party accompanied Captain Fitz Roy on a long walk
round the head of the harbour.  We were eleven hours without
tasting any water, and some of the party were quite
exhausted.  From the summit of a hill (since well named
Thirsty Hill) a fine lake was spied, and two of the party
proceeded with concerted signals to show whether it was fresh
water.  What was our disappointment to find a snow-white
expanse of salt, crystallized in great cubes!  We attributed
our extreme thirst to the dryness of the atmosphere; but
whatever the cause might be, we were exceedingly glad late
in the evening to get back to the boats.  Although we could
nowhere find, during our whole visit, a single drop of fresh
water, yet some must exist; for by an odd chance I found on
the surface of the salt water, near the head of the bay, a
Colymbetes not quite dead, which must have lived in some
not far distant pool.  Three other insects (a Cincindela, like
hybrida, a Cymindis, and a Harpalus, which all live on muddy
flats occasionally overflowed by the sea), and one other
found dead on the plain, complete the list of the beetles.  A
good-sized fly (Tabanus) was extremely numerous, and tormented
us by its painful bite.  The common horsefly, which
is so troublesome in the shady lanes of England, belongs to
this same genus.  We here have the puzzle that so frequently
occurs in the case of musquitoes — on the blood of what
animals do these insects commonly feed?  The guanaco is
nearly the only warm-blooded quadruped, and it is found in
quite inconsiderable numbers compared with the multitude
of flies.

The geology of Patagonia is interesting.  Differently from
Europe, where the tertiary formations appear to have accumulated
in bays, here along hundreds of miles of coast we
have one great deposit, including many tertiary shells, all
apparently extinct.  The most common shell is a massive
gigantic oyster, sometimes even a foot in diameter.  These
beds are covered by others of a peculiar soft white stone,
including much gypsum, and resembling chalk, but really of
a pumiceous nature.  It is highly remarkable, from being
composed, to at least one-tenth of its bulk, of Infusoria.
Professor Ehrenberg has already ascertained in it thirty
oceanic forms.  This bed extends for 500 miles along the coast,
and probably for a considerably greater distance.  At Port
St. Julian its thickness is more than 800 feet!  These white
beds are everywhere capped by a mass of gravel, forming
probably one of the largest beds of shingle in the world: it
certainly extends from near the Rio Colorado to between 600
and 700 nautical miles southward, at Santa Cruz (a river a
little south of St. Julian), it reaches to the foot of the
Cordillera; half way up the river, its thickness is more than
200 feet; it probably everywhere extends to this great chain,
whence the well-rounded pebbles of porphyry have been
derived: we may consider its average breadth as 200 miles,
and its average thickness as about 50 feet.  If this great bed
of pebbles, without including the mud necessarily derived
from their attrition, was piled into a mound, it would form a
great mountain chain!  When we consider that all these
pebbles, countless as the grains of sand in the desert, have
been derived from the slow falling of masses of rock on the
old coast-lines and banks of rivers, and that these fragments
have been dashed into smaller pieces, and that each of them
has since been slowly rolled, rounded, and far transported
the mind is stupefied in thinking over the long, absolutely
necessary, lapse of years.  Yet all this gravel has been
transported, and probably rounded, subsequently to the
deposition of the white beds, and long subsequently to the
underlying beds with the tertiary shells.

Everything in this southern continent has been effected
on a grand scale: the land, from the Rio Plata to Tierra del
Fuego, a distance of 1200 miles, has been raised in mass (and
in Patagonia to a height of between 300 and 400 feet), within
the period of the now existing sea-shells.  The old and
weathered shells left on the surface of the upraised plain still
partially retain their colours.  The uprising movement has
been interrupted by at least eight long periods of rest, during
which the sea ate, deeply back into the land, forming at
successive levels the long lines of cliffs, or escarpments,
which separate the different plains as they rise like steps one
behind the other.  The elevatory movement, and the eating-back
power of the sea during the periods of rest, have been
equable over long lines of coast; for I was astonished to
find that the step-like plains stand at nearly corresponding
heights at far distant points.  The lowest plain is 90 feet
high; and the highest, which I ascended near the coast, is
950 feet; and of this, only relics are left in the form of flat
gravel-capped hills.  The upper plain of Santa Cruz slopes
up to a height of 3000 feet at the foot of the Cordillera.  I
have said that within the period of existing sea-shells,
Patagonia has been upraised 300 to 400 feet: I may add, that
within the period when icebergs transported boulders over
the upper plain of Santa Cruz, the elevation has been at least
1500 feet.  Nor has Patagonia been affected only by upward
movements: the extinct tertiary shells from Port St. Julian
and Santa Cruz cannot have lived, according to Professor E.
Forbes, in a greater depth of water than from 40 to 250 feet;
but they are now covered with sea-deposited strata from 800
to 1000 feet in thickness: hence the bed of the sea, on which
these shells once lived, must have sunk downwards several
hundred feet, to allow of the accumulation of the superincumbent
strata.  What a history of geological changes does the
simply-constructed coast of Patagonia reveal!

At Port St. Julian, [12] in some red mud capping the gravel
on the 90-feet plain, I found half the skeleton of the
Macrauchenia Patachonica, a remarkable quadruped, full as large
as a camel.  It belongs to the same division of the Pachydermata
with the rhinoceros, tapir, and palaeotherium; but
in the structure of the bones of its long neck it shows a clear
relation to the camel, or rather to the guanaco and llama.
From recent sea-shells being found on two of the higher
step-formed plains, which must have been modelled and
upraised before the mud was deposited in which the Macrauchenia
was entombed, it is certain that this curious quadruped
lived long after the sea was inhabited by its present
shells.  I was at first much surprised how a large quadruped
could so lately have subsisted, in lat. 49 degs. 15', on these
wretched gravel plains, with their stunted vegetation; but
the relationship of the Macrauchenia to the Guanaco, now
an inhabitant of the most sterile parts, partly explains this
difficulty.

The relationship, though distant, between the Macrauchenia
and the Guanaco, between the Toxodon and the
Capybara, — the closer relationship between the many extinct
Edentata and the living sloths, ant-eaters, and armadillos,
now so eminently characteristic of South American zoology,
— and the still closer relationship between the fossil and
living species of Ctenomys and Hydrochaerus, are most
interesting facts.  This relationship is shown wonderfully — as
wonderfully as between the fossil and extinct Marsupial
animals of Australia — by the great collection lately brought
to Europe from the caves of Brazil by MM. Lund and Clausen.
In this collection there are extinct species of all the
thirty-two genera, excepting four, of the terrestrial quadrupeds
now inhabiting the provinces in which the caves occur;
and the extinct species are much more numerous than those
now living: there are fossil ant-eaters, armadillos, tapirs,
peccaries, guanacos, opossums, and numerous South American
gnawers and monkeys, and other animals.  This wonderful
relationship in the same continent between the dead and
the living, will, I do not doubt, hereafter throw more light
on the appearance of organic beings on our earth, and their
disappearance from it, than any other class of facts.

It is impossible to reflect on the changed state of the
American continent without the deepest astonishment.  Formerly
it must have swarmed with great monsters: now we
find mere pigmies, compared with the antecedent, allied
races.  If Buffon had known of the gigantic sloth and
armadillo-like animals, and of the lost Pachydermata, he might
have said with a greater semblance of truth that the creative
force in America had lost its power, rather than that it had
never possessed great vigour.  The greater number, if not all,
of these extinct quadrupeds lived at a late period, and were
the contemporaries of most of the existing sea-shells.  Since
they lived, no very great change in the form of the land can
have taken place.  What, then, has exterminated so many
species and whole genera?  The mind at first is irresistibly
hurried into the belief of some great catastrophe; but thus
to destroy animals, both large and small, in Southern Patagonia,
in Brazil, on the Cordillera of Peru, in North America
up to Behring's Straits, we must shake the entire framework
of the globe.  An examination, moreover, of the geology of
La Plata and Patagonia, leads to the belief that all the
features of the land result from slow and gradual changes.  It
appears from the character of the fossils in Europe, Asia,
Australia, and in North and South America, that those conditions
which favour the life of the larger quadrupeds were
lately co-extensive with the world: what those conditions
were, no one has yet even conjectured.  It could hardly have
been a change of temperature, which at about the same time
destroyed the inhabitants of tropical, temperate, and arctic
latitudes on both sides of the globe.  In North America we
positively know from Mr. Lyell, that the large quadrupeds
lived subsequently to that period, when boulders were
brought into latitudes at which icebergs now never arrive:
from conclusive but indirect reasons we may feel sure, that
in the southern hemisphere the Macrauchenia, also, lived
long subsequently to the ice-transporting boulder-period.  Did
man, after his first inroad into South America, destroy, as
has been suggested, the unwieldy Megatherium and the
other Edentata?  We must at least look to some other cause
for the destruction of the little tucutuco at Bahia Blanca, and
of the many fossil mice and other small quadrupeds in
Brazil.  No one will imagine that a drought, even far severer
than those which cause such losses in the provinces of La
Plata, could destroy every individual of every species from
Southern Patagonia to Behring's Straits.  What shall we say
of the extinction of the horse?  Did those plains fail of
pasture, which have since been overrun by thousands and hundreds
of thousands of the descendants of the stock introduced
by the Spaniards?  Have the subsequently introduced
species consumed the food of the great antecedent races?
Can we believe that the Capybara has taken the food of the
Toxodon, the Guanaco of the Macrauchenia, the existing
small Edentata of their numerous gigantic prototypes?  Certainly,
no fact in the long history of the world is so startling
as the wide and repeated exterminations of its inhabitants.

Nevertheless, if we consider the subject under another
point of view, it will appear less perplexing.  We do not
steadily bear in mind, how profoundly ignorant we are of the
conditions of existence of every animal; nor do we always
remember, that some check is constantly preventing the too
rapid increase of every organized being left in a state of
nature.  The supply of food, on an average, remains constant, yet
the tendency in every animal to increase by propagation is
geometrical; and its surprising effects have nowhere been
more astonishingly shown, than in the case of the European
animals run wild during the last few centuries in America.
Every animal in a state of nature regularly breeds; yet in a
species long established, any great increase in numbers is
obviously impossible, and must be checked by some means.
We are, nevertheless, seldom able with certainty to tell in
any given species, at what period of life, or at what period
of the year, or whether only at long intervals, the check
falls; or, again, what is the precise nature of the check.
Hence probably it is, that we feel so little surprise at one, of
two species closely allied in habits, being rare and the other
abundant in the same district; or, again, that one should be
abundant in one district, and another, filling the same place
in the economy of nature, should be abundant in a neighbouring
district, differing very little in its conditions.  If asked
how this is, one immediately replies that it is determined by
some slight difference, in climate, food, or the number of
enemies: yet how rarely, if ever, we can point out the precise
cause and manner of action of the check!  We are
therefore, driven to the conclusion, that causes generally
quite inappreciable by us, determine whether a given species
shall be abundant or scanty in numbers.

In the cases where we can trace the extinction of a
species through man, either wholly or in one limited district,
we know that it becomes rarer and rarer, and is then lost:
it would be difficult to point out any just distinction [13]
between a species destroyed by man or by the increase of its
natural enemies.  The evidence of rarity preceding extinction,
is more striking in the successive tertiary strata, as remarked
by several able observers; it has often been found that a shell
very common in a tertiary stratum is now most rare, and has
even long been thought extinct.  If then, as appears probable,
species first become rare and then extinct — if the too rapid
increase of every species, even the most favoured, is steadily
checked, as we must admit, though how and when it is hard to
say — and if we see, without the smallest surprise, though
unable to assign the precise reason, one species abundant
and another closely allied species rare in the same district —
why should we feel such great astonishment at the rarity being
carried one step further to extinction?  An action going on,
on every side of us, and yet barely appreciable, might surely
be carried a little further, without exciting our observation.
Who would feel any great surprise at hearing that the Magalonyx
was formerly rare compared with the Megatherium, or that one of
the fossil monkeys was few in number compared with one of the
now living monkeys? and yet in this comparative rarity, we
should have the plainest evidence of less favourable conditions
for their existence.  To admit that species generally become
rare before they become extinct — to feel no surprise at the
comparative rarity of one species with another, and yet to
call in some extraordinary agent and to marvel greatly when
a species ceases to exist, appears to me much the same as
to admit that sickness in the individual is the prelude to
death — to feel no surprise at sickness — but when the
sick man dies to wonder, and to believe that he died through
violence.

[1] Mr. Waterhouse has drawn up a detailed description of this
head, which I hope he will publish in some Journal.

[2] A nearly similar abnormal, but I do not know whether
hereditary, structure has been observed in the carp, and
likewise in the crocodile of the Ganges: Histoire des Anomalies,
par M. Isid. Geoffroy St. Hilaire, tom. i. p. 244.

[3] M. A. d'Orbigny has given nearly a similar account of these
dogs, tom. i. p. 175.

[4] I must express my obligations to Mr. Keane, at whose house
I was staying on the Berquelo, and to Mr. Lumb at Buenos Ayres,
for without their assistance these valuable remains would never
have reached England.

[5] Lyell's Principles of Geology, vol. iii. p. 63.

[6] The flies which frequently accompany a ship for some days
on its passage from harbour to harbour, wandering from the
vessel, are soon lost, and all disappear.

[7] Mr. Blackwall, in his Researches in Zoology, has many
excellent observations on the habits of spiders.

[8] An abstract is given in No. IV. of the Magazine of Zoology
and Botany.

[9] I found here a species of cactus, described by Professor
Henslow, under the name of Opuntia Darwinii (Magazine of
Zoology and Botany, vol. i. p. 466), which was remarkable
for the irritability of the stamens, when I inserted either a
piece of stick or the end of my finger in the flower.  The
segments of the perianth also closed on the pistil, but more
slowly than the stamens.  Plants of this family, generally
considered as tropical, occur in North America (Lewis and
Clarke's Travels, p. 221), in the same high latitude as here,
namely, in both cases, in 47 degs.

[10] These insects were not uncommon beneath stones.  I found
one cannibal scorpion quietly devouring another.

[11] Shelley, Lines on Mt. Blanc.

[12] I have lately heard that Capt. Sulivan, R.N., has found
numerous fossil bones, embedded in regular strata, on the banks
of the R. Gallegos, in lat. 51 degs. 4'. Some of the bones
are large; others are small, and appear to have belonged to
an armadillo.  This is a most interesting and important
discovery.

[13] See the excellent remarks on this subject by Mr. Lyell,
in his Principles of Geology.



CHAPTER IX

SANTA CRUZ, PATAGONIA, AND THE FALKLAND ISLANDS

Santa Cruz — Expedition up the River — Indians — Immense
Streams of Basaltic Lava — Fragments not transported by the
River — Excavations of the Valley — Condor, Habits of —
Cordillera — Erratic Boulders of great size — Indian Relics —
Return to the Ship — Falkland Islands — Wild Horses, Cattle,
Rabbits — Wolf-like Fox — Fire made of Bones — Manner of
Hunting Wild Cattle — Geology — Streams of Stones — Scenes
of Violence — Penguins — Geese — Eggs of Doris — Compound
Animals.


APRIL 13, 1834. — The Beagle anchored within the mouth of the
Santa Cruz.  This river is situated about sixty miles south of
Port St. Julian.  During the last voyage Captain Stokes proceeded
thirty miles up it, but then, from the want of provisions, was
obliged to return.  Excepting what was discovered at that time,
scarcely anything was known about this large river.  Captain Fitz
Roy now determined to follow its course as far as time would
allow.  On the 18th three whale-boats started, carrying three
weeks' provisions; and the party consisted of twenty-five
souls — a force which would have been sufficient to have
defied a host of Indians.  With a strong flood-tide and a fine
day we made a good run, soon drank some of the fresh water,
and were at night nearly above the tidal influence.

The river here assumed a size and appearance which, even at
the highest point we ultimately reached, was scarcely
diminished.  It was generally from three to four hundred yards
broad, and in the middle about seventeen feet deep.  The
rapidity of the current, which in its whole course runs at
the rate of from four to six knots an hour, is perhaps its
most remarkable feature.  The water is of a fine blue colour,
but with a slight milky tinge, and not so transparent as at
first sight would have been expected.  It flows over a bed of
pebbles, like those which compose the beach and the surrounding
plains.  It runs in a winding course through
valley, which extends in a direct line westward.  This valle
varies from five to ten miles in breadth; it is bounded b
step-formed terraces, which rise in most parts, one above th
other, to the height of five hundred feet, and have on th
opposite sides a remarkable correspondence.

April 19th. — Against so strong a current it was, o
course, quite impossible to row or sail: consequently th
three boats were fastened together head and stern, two hand
left in each, and the rest came on shore to track.  As th
general arrangements made by Captain Fitz Roy were ver
good for facilitating the work of all, and as all had a shar
in it, I will describe the system.  The party including ever
one, was divided into two spells, each of which hauled at th
tracking line alternately for an hour and a half.  The officers
of each boat lived with, ate the same food, and slep
in the same tent with their crew, so that each boat wa
quite independent of the others.  After sunset the first leve
spot where any bushes were growing, was chosen for ou
night's lodging.  Each of the crew took it in turns to b
cook.  Immediately the boat was hauled up, the cook mad
his fire; two others pitched the tent; the coxswain hande
the things out of the boat; the rest carried them up to th
tents and collected firewood.  By this order, in half an hou
everything was ready for the night.  A watch of two me
and an officer was always kept, whose duty it was to loo
after the boats, keep up the fire, and guard against Indians
Each in the party had his one hour every night.

During this day we tracked but a short distance, for ther
were many islets, covered by thorny bushes, and the channels
between them were shallow.

April 20th. — We passed the islands and set to work.  Ou
regular day's march, although it was hard enough, carrie
us on an average only ten miles in a straight line, and perhaps
fifteen or twenty altogether.  Beyond the place wher
we slept last night, the country is completely terra incognita
for it was there that Captain Stokes turned back.  We sa
in the distance a great smoke, and found the skeleton of
horse, so we knew that Indians were in the neighbourhood
On the next morning (21st) tracks of a party of horse
and marks left by the trailing of the chuzos, or long spears
were observed on the ground.  It was generally though
that the Indians had reconnoitred us during the night
Shortly afterwards we came to a spot where, from the fres
footsteps of men, children, and horses, it was evident tha
the party had crossed the river.

April 22nd. — The country remained the same, and wa
extremely uninteresting.  The complete similarity of th
productions throughout Patagonia is one of its most striking
characters.  The level plains of arid shingle suppor
the same stunted and dwarf plants; and in the valleys th
same thorn-bearing bushes grow.  Everywhere we see th
same birds and insects.  Even the very banks of the rive
and of the clear streamlets which entered it, were scarcel
enlivened by a brighter tint of green.  The curse of sterilit
is on the land, and the water flowing over a bed of pebble
partakes of the same curse.  Hence the number of waterfowl
is very scanty; for there is nothing to support life i
the stream of this barren river.

Patagonia, poor as she is in some respects, can howeve
boast of a greater stock of small rodents [1] than perhaps an
other country in the world.  Several species of mice ar
externally characterized by large thin ears and a very fin
fur.  These little animals swarm amongst the thickets in th
valleys, where they cannot for months together taste a dro
of water excepting the dew.  They all seem to be cannibals
for no sooner was a mouse caught in one of my traps tha
it was devoured by others.  A small and delicately shape
fox, which is likewise very abundant, probably derives it
entire support from these small animals.  The guanaco i
also in his proper district, herds of fifty or a hundred wer
common; and, as I have stated, we saw one which mus
have contained at least five hundred.  The puma, with th
condor and other carrion-hawks in its train, follows an
preys upon these animals.  The footsteps of the puma wer
to be seen almost everywhere on the banks of the river
and the remains of several guanacos, with their neck
dislocated and bones broken, showed how they had met thei
death.

April 24th. — Like the navigators of old when approachin
an unknown land, we examined and watched for the mos
trivial sign of a change.  The drifted trunk of a tree, or
boulder of primitive rock, was hailed with joy, as if we ha
seen a forest growing on the flanks of the Cordillera.  Th
top, however, of a heavy bank of clouds, which remaine
almost constantly in one position, was the most promisin
sign, and eventually turned out a true harbinger.  At first th
clouds were mistaken for the mountains themselves, instea
of the masses of vapour condensed by their icy summits.

April 26th. — We this day met with a marked change i
the geological structure of the plains.  From the first starting
I had carefully examined the gravel in the river, an
for the two last days had noticed the presence of a few smal
pebbles of a very cellular basalt.  These gradually increase
in number and in size, but none were as large as a man'
head.  This morning, however, pebbles of the same rock
but more compact, suddenly became abundant, and in th
course of half an hour we saw, at the distance of five o
six miles, the angular edge of a great basaltic platform
When we arrived at its base we found the stream bubblin
among the fallen blocks.  For the next twenty-eight mile
the river-course was encumbered with these basaltic masses
Above that limit immense fragments of primitive rocks
derived from its surrounding boulder-formation, wer
equally numerous.  None of the fragments of any considerable
size had been washed more than three or four mile
down the river below their parent-source: considering th
singular rapidity of the great body of water in the Sant
Cruz, and that no still reaches occur in any part, this example
is a most striking one, of the inefficiency of rivers i
transporting even moderately-sized fragments.

The basalt is only lava, which has flowed beneath the sea
but the eruptions must have been on the grandest scale.  A
the point where we first met this formation it was 120 fee
in thickness; following up the river course, the surfac
imperceptibly rose and the mass became thicker, so that a
forty miles above the first station it was 320 feet thick
What the thickness may be close to the Cordillera, I hav
no means of knowing, but the platform there attains a heigh
of about three thousand feet above the level of the sea
we must therefore look to the mountains of that great chai
for its source; and worthy of such a source are streams tha
have flowed over the gently inclined bed of the sea to
distance of one hundred miles.  At the first glance of th
basaltic cliffs on the opposite sides of the valley, it wa
evident that the strata once were united.  What power, then
has removed along a whole line of country, a solid mass o
very hard rock, which had an average thickness of nearl
three hundred feet, and a breadth varying from rather les
than two miles to four miles?  The river, though it has s
little power in transporting even inconsiderable fragments
yet in the lapse of ages might produce by its gradual erosio
an effect of which it is difficult to judge the amount.  Bu
in this case, independently of the insignificance of such a
agency, good reasons can be assigned for believing that thi
valley was formerly occupied by an arm of the sea.  It i
needless in this work to detail the arguments leading to thi
conclusion, derived from the form and the nature of th
step-formed terraces on both sides of the valley, from th
manner in which the bottom of the valley near the Ande
expands into a great estuary-like plain with sand-hillock
on it, and from the occurrence of a few sea-shells lying i
the bed of the river.  If I had space I could prove tha
South America was formerly here cut off by a strait, joinin
the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, like that of Magellan
But it may yet be asked, how has the solid basalt bee
moved?  Geologists formerly would have brought into play
the violent action of some overwhelming debacle; but in thi
case such a supposition would have been quite inadmissible
because, the same step-like plains with existing sea-shell
lying on their surface, which front the long line of the
Patagonian coast, sweep up on each side of the valley of Sant
Cruz.  No possible action of any flood could thus hav
modelled the land, either within the valley or along the ope
coast; and by the formation of such step-like plains or terraces
the valley itself had been hollowed out.  Although w
know that there are tides, which run within the Narrow
of the Strait of Magellan at the rate of eight knots an hour
yet we must confess that it makes the head almost giddy t
reflect on the number of years, century after century, whic
the tides, unaided by a heavy surf, must have required t
have corroded so vast an area and thickness of solid basalti
lava.  Nevertheless, we must believe that the strata undermined
by the waters of this ancient strait, were broken u
into huge fragments, and these lying scattered on the beach
were reduced first to smaller blocks, then to pebbles an
lastly to the most impalpable mud, which the tides drifte
far into the Eastern or Western Ocean.

With the change in the geological structure of the plain
the character of the landscape likewise altered.  While rambling
up some of the narrow and rocky defiles, I could almos
have fancied myself transported back again to the barre
valleys of the island of St. Jago.  Among the basaltic cliffs
I found some plants which I had seen nowhere else, bu
others I recognised as being wanderers from Tierra de
Fuego.  These porous rocks serve as a reservoir for th
scanty rain-water; and consequently on the line where th
igneous and sedimentary formations unite, some smal
springs (most rare occurrences in Patagonia) burst forth
and they could be distinguished at a distance by the
circumscribed patches of bright green herbage.

April 27th. — The bed of the river became rather narrower
and hence the stream more rapid.  It here ran at the rat
of six knots an hour.  From this cause, and from the man
great angular fragments, tracking the boats became bot
dangerous and laborious


This day I shot a condor.  It measured from tip to ti
of the wings, eight and a half feet, and from beak to tail
four feet.  This bird is known to have a wide geographica
range, being found on the west coast of South America
from the Strait of Magellan along the Cordillera as far a
eight degrees north of the equator.  The steep cliff near th
mouth of the Rio Negro is its northern limit on the Patagonian
coast; and they have there wandered about fou
hundred miles from the great central line of their habitation
in the Andes.  Further south, among the bold precipices
at the head of Port Desire, the condor is not uncommon;
yet only a few stragglers occasionally visit the seacoast.
A line of cliff near the mouth of the Santa Cruz i
frequented by these birds, and about eighty miles up th
river, where the sides of the valley are formed by stee
basaltic precipices, the condor reappears.  From these facts
it seems that the condors require perpendicular cliffs.  I
Chile, they haunt, during the greater part of the year, th
lower country near the shores of the Pacific, and at nigh
several roost together in one tree; but in the early part o
summer, they retire to the most inaccessible parts of th
inner Cordillera, there to breed in peace.

With respect to their propagation, I was told by th
country people in Chile, that the condor makes no sort o
nest, but in the months of November and December lay
two large white eggs on a shelf of bare rock.  It is said tha
the young condors cannot fly for an entire year; and lon
after they are able, they continue to roost by night, an
hunt by day with their parents.  The old birds generally liv
in pairs; but among the inland basaltic cliffs of the Sant
Cruz, I found a spot, where scores must usually haunt.  O
coming suddenly to the brow of the precipice, it was a gran
spectacle to see between twenty and thirty of these grea
birds start heavily from their resting-place, and wheel awa
in majestic circles.  From the quantity of dung on the rocks
they must long have frequented this cliff for roosting an
breeding.  Having gorged themselves with carrion on th
plains below, they retire to these favourite ledges to diges
their food.  From these facts, the condor, like the gallinazo
must to a certain degree be considered as a gregarious bird
In this part of the country they live altogether on the guanacos
which have died a natural death, or as more commonl
happens, have been killed by the pumas.  I believe, fro
what I saw in Patagonia, that they do not on ordinary occasions
extend their daily excursions to any great distanc
from their regular sleeping-places.

The condors may oftentimes be seen at a great height
soaring over a certain spot in the most graceful circles
On some occasions I am sure that they do this only fo
pleasure, but on others, the Chileno countryman tells yo
that they are watching a dying animal, or the puma devouring
its prey.  If the condors glide down, and then suddenl
all rise together, the Chileno knows that it is the pum
which, watching the carcass, has sprung out to drive awa
the robbers.  Besides feeding on carrion, the condors frequently
attack young goats and lambs; and the shepherd-dogs
are trained, whenever they pass over, to run out, an
looking upwards to bark violently.  The Chilenos destro
and catch numbers.  Two methods are used; one is to plac
a carcass on a level piece of ground within an enclosure o
sticks with an opening, and when the condors are gorged
to gallop up on horseback to the entrance, and thus enclos
them: for when this bird has not space to run, it canno
give its body sufficient momentum to rise from the ground
The second method is to mark the trees in which, frequentl
to the number of five or six together, they roost, and the
at night to climb up and noose them.  They are such heav
sleepers, as I have myself witnessed, that this is not a
difficult task.  At Valparaiso, I have seen a living condor sol
for sixpence, but the common price is eight or ten shillings
One which I saw brought in, had been tied with rope, an
was much injured; yet, the moment the line was cut b
which its bill was secured, although surrounded by people
it began ravenously to tear a piece of carrion.  In a garde
at the same place, between twenty and thirty were kept alive
They were fed only once a week, but they appeared in prett
good health. [2] The Chileno countrymen assert that the condor
will live, and retain its vigour, between five and six week
without eating: I cannot answer for the truth of this, bu
it is a cruel experiment, which very likely has been tried.

When an animal is killed in the country, it is well know
that the condors, like other carrion-vultures, soon gain
intelligence of it, and congregate in an inexplicable manner
In most cases it must not be overlooked, that the bird
have discovered their prey, and have picked the skeleto
clean, before the flesh is in the least degree tainted.
Remembering the experiments of M. Audubon, on the littl
smelling powers of carrion-hawks, I tried in the above
mentioned garden the following experiment: the condor
were tied, each by a rope, in a long row at the bottom of
wall; and having folded up a piece of meat in white paper,
walked backwards and forwards, carrying it in my hand a
the distance of about three yards from them, but no notic
whatever was taken.  I then threw it on the ground, withi
one yard of an old male bird; he looked at it for a momen
with attention, but then regarded it no more.  With a stic
I pushed it closer and closer, until at last he touched it wit
his beak; the paper was then instantly torn off with fury
and at the same moment, every bird in the long row bega
struggling and flapping its wings.  Under the same circumstances,
it would have been quite impossible to have deceive
a dog.  The evidence in favour of and against the acut
smelling powers of carrion-vultures is singularly balanced
Professor Owen has demonstrated that the olfactory nerve
of the turkey-buzzard (Cathartes aura) are highly developed,
and on the evening when Mr. Owen's paper was rea
at the Zoological Society, it was mentioned by a gentlema
that he had seen the carrion-hawks in the West Indies o
two occasions collect on the roof of a house, when a corps
had become offensive from not having been buried, in thi
case, the intelligence could hardly have been acquired b
sight.  On the other hand, besides the experiments of Audubon
and that one by myself, Mr. Bachman has tried in th
United States many varied plans, showing that neither th
turkey-buzzard (the species dissected by Professor Owen
nor the gallinazo find their food by smell.  He covered portions
of highly-offensive offal with a thin canvas cloth, an
strewed pieces of meat on it: these the carrion-vultures at
up, and then remained quietly standing, with their beak
within the eighth of an inch of the putrid mass, withou
discovering it.  A small rent was made in the canvas, an
the offal was immediately discovered; the canvas was replaced
by a fresh piece, and meat again put on it, and wa
again devoured by the vultures without their discoverin
the hidden mass on which they were trampling.  These fact
are attested by the signatures of six gentlemen, besides tha
of Mr. Bachman. [3

Often when lying down to rest on the open plains, o
looking upwards, I have seen carrion-hawks sailing throug
the air at a great height.  Where the country is level I d
not believe a space of the heavens, of more than fifteen degrees
above the horizon, is commonly viewed with any attention
by a person either walking or on horseback.  If suc
be the case, and the vulture is on the wing at a height o
between three and four thousand feet, before it could com
within the range of vision, its distance in a straight lin
from the beholder's eye, would be rather more than tw
British miles.  Might it not thus readily be overlooked
When an animal is killed by the sportsman in a lonely valley
may he not all the while be watched from above by th
sharp-sighted bird?  And will not the manner of its descen
proclaim throughout the district to the whole family o
carrion-feeders, that their prey is at hand?

When the condors are wheeling in a flock round an
round any spot, their flight is beautiful.  Except when risin
from the ground, I do not recollect ever having seen on
of these birds flap its wings.  Near Lima, I watched severa
for nearly half an hour, without once taking off my eyes
they moved in large curves, sweeping in circles, descendin
and ascending without giving a single flap.  As they glide
close over my head, I intently watched from an oblique position,
the outlines of the separate and great terminal feather
of each wing; and these separate feathers, if there had bee
the least vibratory movement, would have appeared as i
blended together; but they were seen distinct against th
blue sky.  The head and neck were moved frequently, an
apparently with force; and the extended wings seemed t
form the fulcrum on which the movements of the neck, body
and tail acted.  If the bird wished to descend, the wing
were for a moment collapsed; and when again expande
with an altered inclination, the momentum gained by th
rapid descent seemed to urge the bird upwards with th
even and steady movement of a paper kite.  In the case o
any bird soaring, its motion must be sufficiently rapid s
that the action of the inclined surface of its body on th
atmosphere may counterbalance its gravity.  The force t
keep up the momentum of a body moving in a horizonta
plane in the air (in which there is so little friction) canno
be great, and this force is all that is wanted.  The movement
of the neck and body of the condor, we must suppose
is sufficient for this.  However this may be, it is truly
wonderful and beautiful to see so great a bird, hour after hour
without any apparent exertion, wheeling and gliding ove
mountain and river

April 29th. — From some high land we hailed with jo
the white summits of the Cordillera, as they were seen
occasionally peeping through their dusky envelope of clouds
During the few succeeding days we continued to get o
slowly, for we found the river-course very tortuous, an
strewed with immense fragments of various ancient slat
rocks, and of granite.  The plain bordering the valley ha
here attained an elevation of about 1100 feet above the river
and its character was much altered.  The well-rounded pebbles
of porphyry were mingled with many immense angula
fragments of basalt and of primary rocks.  The first of thes
erratic boulders which I noticed, was sixty-seven miles distant
from the nearest mountain; another which I measure
was five yards square, and projected five feet above th
gravel.  Its edges were so angular, and its size so great, tha
I at first mistook it for a rock in situ, and took out my
compass to observe the direction of its cleavage.  The plain her
was not quite so level as that nearer the coast, but yet i
betrayed no signs of any great violence.  Under these
circumstances it is, I believe, quite impossible to explain th
transportal of these gigantic masses of rock so many mile
from their parent-source, on any theory except by that o
floating icebergs.

During the two last days we met with signs of horses, an
with several small articles which had belonged to the Indian
— such as parts of a mantle and a bunch of ostrich feathers —
but they appeared to have been lying long on the ground
Between the place where the Indians had so lately crosse
the river and this neighbourhood, though so many mile
apart, the country appears to be quite unfrequented.  At first
considering the abundance of the guanacos, I was surprise
at this; but it is explained by the stony nature of the plains
which would soon disable an unshod horse from taking par
in the chase.  Nevertheless, in two places in this very centra
region, I found small heaps of stones, which I do not thin
could have been accidentally thrown together.  They wer
placed on points, projecting over the edge of the highest lav
cliff, and they resembled, but on a small scale, those nea
Port Desire.

May 4th. — Captain Fitz Roy determined to take the boat
no higher.  The river had a winding course, and was ver
rapid; and the appearance of the country offered no temptation
to proceed any further.  Everywhere we met with th
same productions, and the same dreary landscape.  We wer
now one hundred and forty miles distant from the Atlantic
and about sixty from the nearest arm of the Pacific.  Th
valley in this upper part expanded into a wide basin, bounde
on the north and south by the basaltic platforms, and fronte
by the long range of the snow-clad Cordillera.  But w
viewed these grand mountains with regret, for we wer
obliged to imagine their nature and productions, instead o
standing, as we had hoped, on their summits.  Besides th
useless loss of time which an attempt to ascend the river an
higher would have cost us, we had already been for som
days on half allowance of bread.  This, although reall
enough for reasonable men, was, after a hard day's march
rather scanty food: a light stomach and an easy digestio
are good things to talk about, but very unpleasant in practice

5th. — Before sunrise we commenced our descent.  W
shot down the stream with great rapidity, generally at th
rate of ten knots an hour.  In this one day we effected wha
had cost us five-and-a-half hard days' labour in ascending
On the 8th, we reached the Beagle after our twenty-one days
expedition.  Every one, excepting myself, had cause to b
dissatisfied; but to me the ascent afforded a most interestin
section of the great tertiary formation of Patagonia

On March 1st, 1833, and again on March 16th, 1834, th
Beagle anchored in Berkeley Sound, in East Falkland Island
This archipelago is situated in nearly the same latitude wit
the mouth of the Strait of Magellan; it covers a space o
one hundred and twenty by sixty geographical miles, and is
little more than half the size of Ireland.  After the possession
of these miserable islands had been contested by France
Spain, and England, they were left uninhabited.  The government
of Buenos Ayres then sold them to a private individual,
but likewise used them, as old Spain had done before
for a penal settlement.  England claimed her right an
seized them.  The Englishman who was left in charge o
the flag was consequently murdered.  A British officer wa
next sent, unsupported by any power: and when we arrived
we found him in charge of a population, of which rathe
more than half were runaway rebels and murderers.

The theatre is worthy of the scenes acted on it.  An undulating
land, with a desolate and wretched aspect, is everywhere
covered by a peaty soil and wiry grass, of one monotonous
brown colour.  Here and there a peak or ridg
of grey quartz rock breaks through the smooth surface
Every one has heard of the climate of these regions; i
may be compared to that which is experienced at the heigh
of between one and two thousand feet, on the mountains o
North Wales; having however less sunshine and less frost
but more wind and rain. [4]

16th. — I will now describe a short excursion which
made round a part of this island.  In the morning I starte
with six horses and two Gauchos: the latter were capita
men for the purpose, and well accustomed to living on thei
own resources.  The weather was very boisterous and cold
with heavy hail-storms.  We got on, however, pretty well
but, except the geology, nothing could be less interestin
than our day's ride.  The country is uniformly the sam
undulating moorland; the surface being covered by ligh
brown withered grass and a few very small shrubs, al
springing out of an elastic peaty soil.  In the valleys her
and there might be seen a small flock of wild geese, an
everywhere the ground was so soft that the snipe were abl
to feed.  Besides these two birds there were few others
There is one main range of hills, nearly two thousand fee
in height, and composed of quartz rock, the rugged and barren
crests of which gave us some trouble to cross.  On th
south side we came to the best country for wild cattle; w
met, however, no great number, for they had been latel
much harassed.

In the evening we came across a small herd.  One of m
companions, St. Jago by name, soon separated a fat cow
he threw the bolas, and it struck her legs, but failed in
becoming entangled.  Then dropping his hat to mark the spo
where the balls were left, while at full gallop, he uncoile
his lazo, and after a most severe chase, again came up t
the cow, and caught her round the horns.  The other Gauch
had gone on ahead with the spare horses, so that St. Jag
had some difficulty in killing the furious beast.  He managed
to get her on a level piece of ground, by taking advantage
of her as often as she rushed at him; and when sh
would not move, my horse, from having been trained, woul
canter up, and with his chest give her a violent push.  Bu
when on level ground it does not appear an easy job fo
one man to kill a beast mad with terror.  Nor would it b
so, if the horse, when left to itself without its rider, di
not soon learn, for its own safety, to keep the lazo tight
so that, if the cow or ox moves forward, the horse move
just as quickly forward; otherwise, it stands motionles
leaning on one side.  This horse, however, was a youn
one, and would not stand still, but gave in to the cow as sh
struggled.  It was admirable to see with what dexterity St
Jago dodged behind the beast, till at last he contrived t
give the fatal touch to the main tendon of the hind le
after which, without much difficulty, he drove his knif
into the head of the spinal marrow, and the cow droppe
as if struck by lightning.  He cut off pieces of flesh wit
the skin to it, but without any bones, sufficient for ou
expedition.  We then rode on to our sleeping-place, an
had for supper "carne con cuero," or meat roasted with th
skin on it.  This is as superior to common beef as veniso
is to mutton.  A large circular piece taken from the bac
is roasted on the embers with the hide downwards and i
the form of a saucer, so that none of the gravy is lost
If any worthy alderman had supped with us that evening
"carne con cuero," without doubt, would soon have bee
celebrated in London

During the night it rained, and the next day (17th) wa
very stormy, with much hail and snow.  We rode across th
island to the neck of land which joins the Rincon del Tor
(the great peninsula at the S. W. extremity) to the rest o
the island.  From the great number of cows which hav
been killed, there is a large proportion of bulls.  These wander
about single, or two and three together, and are ver
savage.  I never saw such magnificent beasts; they equalle
in the size of their huge heads and necks the Grecian marbl
sculptures.  Capt. Sulivan informs me that the hide of a
average-sized bull weighs forty-seven pounds, whereas
hide of this weight, less thoroughly dried, is considered a
a very heavy one at Monte Video.  The young bulls generally
run away, for a short distance; but the old ones do no
stir a step, except to rush at man and horse; and man
horses have been thus killed.  An old bull crossed a bogg
stream, and took his stand on the opposite side to us; w
in vain tried to drive him away, and failing, were oblige
to make a large circuit.  The Gauchos in revenge determined
to emasculate him and render him for the futur
harmless.  It was very interesting to see how art completel
mastered force.  One lazo was thrown over his horns as h
rushed at the horse, and another round his hind legs: in
minute the monster was stretched powerless on the ground
After the lazo has once been drawn tightly round the horn
of a furious animal, it does not at first appear an easy thin
to disengage it again without killing the beast: nor, I
apprehend, would it be so if the man was by himself.  By th
aid, however, of a second person throwing his lazo so as t
catch both hind legs, it is quickly managed: for the animal
as long as its hind legs are kept outstretched, is quite
helpless, and the first man can with his hands loosen his laz
from the horns, and then quietly mount his horse; but th
moment the second man, by backing ever so little, relaxe
the strain, the lazo slips off the legs of the struggling beast
which then rises free, shakes himself, and vainly rushes a
his antagonist

During our whole ride we saw only one troop of wil
horses.  These animals, as well as the cattle, were introduce
by the French in 1764, since which time both have greatl
increased.  It is a curious fact, that the horses have neve
left the eastern end of the island, although there is no natural
boundary to prevent them from roaming, and that par
of the island is not more tempting than the rest.  The Gauchos
whom I asked, though asserting this to be the case
were unable to account for it, except from the strong attachment
which horses have to any locality to which they ar
accustomed.  Considering that the island does not appea
fully stocked, and that there are no beasts of prey, I wa
particularly curious to know what has checked their originally
rapid increase.  That in a limited island some chec
would sooner or later supervene, is inevitable; but why ha
the increase of the horse been checked sooner than that o
the cattle?  Capt. Sulivan has taken much pains for m
in this inquiry.  The Gauchos employed here attribute i
chiefly to the stallions constantly roaming from place t
place, and compelling the mares to accompany them, whethe
or not the young foals are able to follow.  One Gaucho tol
Capt. Sulivan that he had watched a stallion for a whol
hour, violently kicking and biting a mare till he force
her to leave her foal to its fate.  Capt. Sulivan can so fa
corroborate this curious account, that he has several time
found young foals dead, whereas he has never found a dea
calf.  Moreover, the dead bodies of full-grown horses ar
more frequently found, as if more subject to disease o
accidents, than those of the cattle.  From the softness o
the ground their hoofs often grow irregularly to a grea
length, and this causes lameness.  The predominant colour
are roan and iron-grey.  All the horses bred here, both tam
and wild, are rather small-sized, though generally in goo
condition; and they have lost so much strength, that the
are unfit to be used in taking wild cattle with the lazo: i
consequence, it is necessary to go to the great expense o
importing fresh horses from the Plata.  At some futur
period the southern hemisphere probably will have its bree
of Falkland ponies, as the northern has its Shetland breed.

The cattle, instead of having degenerated like the horse
seem, as before remarked, to have increased in size; an
they are much more numerous than the horses Capt. Sulivan
informs me that they vary much less in the genera
form of their bodies and in the shape of their horns tha
English cattle.  In colour they differ much; and it is a
remarkable circumstance, that in different parts of this on
small island, different colours predominate.  Round Moun
Usborne, at a height of from 1000 to 1500 feet above the sea
about half of some of the herds are mouse or lead-coloured
a tint which is not common in other parts of the island
Near Port Pleasant dark brown prevails, whereas south o
Choiseul Sound (which almost divides the island into tw
parts), white beasts with black heads and feet are the mos
common: in all parts black, and some spotted animals ma
be observed.  Capt. Sulivan remarks, that the difference i
the prevailing colours was so obvious, that in looking fo
the herds near Port Pleasant, they appeared from a lon
distance like black spots, whilst south of Choiseul Soun
they appeared like white spots on the hill-sides.  Capt. Sulivan
thinks that the herds do not mingle; and it is a singula
fact, that the mouse-coloured cattle, though living on th
high land, calve about a month earlier in the season tha
the other coloured beasts on the lower land.  It is interesting
thus to find the once domesticated cattle breakin
into three colours, of which some one colour would in al
probability ultimately prevail over the others, if the herd
were left undisturbed for the next several centuries.

The rabbit is another animal which has been introduced
and has succeeded very well; so that they abound over larg
parts of the island.  Yet, like the horses, they are confine
within certain limits; for they have not crossed the centra
chain of hills, nor would they have extended even so far a
its base, if, as the Gauchos informed me, small colonies ha
not been carried there.  I should not have supposed tha
these animals, natives of northern Africa, could have existe
in a climate so humid as this, and which enjoys so littl
sunshine that even wheat ripens only occasionally.  It i
asserted that in Sweden, which any one would have though
a more favourable climate, the rabbit cannot live out o
doors.  The first few pairs, moreover, had here to conten
against pre-existing enemies, in the fox and some larg
hawks.  The French naturalists have considered the black variety
a distinct species, and called it Lepus Magellanicus. [5
They imagined that Magellan, when talking of an anima
under the name of "conejos" in the Strait of Magellan
referred to this species; but he was alluding to a small cavy
which to this day is thus called by the Spaniards.  Th
Gauchos laughed at the idea of the black kind being different
from the grey, and they said that at all events it ha
not extended its range any further than the grey kind; tha
the two were never found separate; and that they readil
bred together, and produced piebald offspring.  Of the latte
I now possess a specimen, and it is marked about the hea
differently from the French specific description.  This
circumstance shows how cautious naturalists should be i
making species; for even Cuvier, on looking at the skul
of one of these rabbits, thought it was probably distinct!

The only quadruped native to the island [6]; is a large wolf
like fox (Canis antarcticus), which is common to both Eas
and West Falkland.  I have no doubt it is a peculiar species
and confined to this archipelago; because many sealers
Gauchos, and Indians, who have visited these islands, al
maintain that no such animal is found in any part of Sout
America.

Molina, from a similarity in habits, thought that thi
was the same with his "culpeu;" [7] but I have seen both
and they are quite distinct.  These wolves are well know
from Byron's account of their tameness and curiosity, whic
the sailors, who ran into the water to avoid them, mistoo
for fierceness.  To this day their manners remain the same
They have been observed to enter a tent, and actually pul
some meat from beneath the head of a sleeping seaman.  Th
Gauchos also have frequently in the evening killed them
by holding out a piece of meat in one hand, and in the othe
a knife ready to stick them.  As far as I am aware, ther
is no other instance in any part of the world, of so smal
a mass of broken land, distant from a continent, possessin
so large an aboriginal quadruped peculiar to itself.  Thei
numbers have rapidly decreased; they are already banishe
from that half of the island which lies to the eastward o
the neck of land between St. Salvador Bay and Berkele
Sound.  Within a very few years after these islands shal
have become regularly settled, in all probability this fo
will be classed with the dodo, as an animal which has perished
from the face of the earth.

At night (17th) we slept on the neck of land at the hea
of Choiseul Sound, which forms the south-west peninsula
The valley was pretty well sheltered from the cold wind
but there was very little brushwood for fuel.  The Gauchos
however, soon found what, to my great surprise, made nearl
as hot a fire as coals; this was the skeleton of a bullock
lately killed, from which the flesh had been picked by the
carrion-hawks.  They told me that in winter they often killed a
beast, cleaned the flesh from the bones with their knives
and then with these same bones roasted the meat for thei
suppers.

18th. — It rained during nearly the whole day.  At nigh
we managed, however, with our saddle-cloths to keep ourselves
pretty well dry and warm; but the ground on whic
we slept was on each occasion nearly in the state of a bog
and there was not a dry spot to sit down on after our day'
ride.  I have in another part stated how singular it is tha
there should be absolutely no trees on these islands, althoug
Tierra del Fuego is covered by one large forest.  Th
largest bush in the island (belonging to the family of
Compositae) is scarcely so tall as our gorse.  The best fuel i
afforded by a green little bush about the size of commo
heath, which has the useful property of burning while fres
and green.  It was very surprising to see the Gauchos, i
the midst of rain and everything soaking wet, with nothin
more than a tinder-box and a piece of rag, immediately mak
a fire.  They sought beneath the tufts of grass and bushe
for a few dry twigs, and these they rubbed into fibres; the
surrounding them with coarser twigs, something like a bird'
nest, they put the rag with its spark of fire in the middl
and covered it up.  The nest being then held up to th
wind, by degrees it smoked more and more, and at las
burst out in flames.  I do not think any other method woul
have had a chance of succeeding with such damp materials.

19th. — Each morning, from not having ridden for som
time previously, I was very stiff.  I was surprised to hea
the Gauchos, who have from infancy almost lived on horseback,
say that, under similar circumstances, they alway
suffer.  St. Jago told me, that having been confined for thre
months by illness, he went out hunting wild cattle, and i
consequence, for the next two days, his thighs were so stif
that he was obliged to lie in bed.  This shows that the Gauchos,
although they do not appear to do so, yet really mus
exert much muscular effort in riding.  The hunting wil
cattle, in a country so difficult to pass as this is on accoun
of the swampy ground, must be very hard work.  Th
Gauchos say they often pass at full speed over ground whic
would be impassable at a slower pace; in the same manne
as a man is able to skate over thin ice.  When hunting, th
party endeavours to get as close as possible to the herd with
out being discovered.  Each man carries four or five pair o
the bolas; these he throws one after the other at as man
cattle, which, when once entangled, are left for some day
till they become a little exhausted by hunger and struggling
They are then let free and driven towards a small herd o
tame animals, which have been brought to the spot on purpose.
From their previous treatment, being too much terrified
to leave the herd, they are easily driven, if thei
strength last out, to the settlement.

The weather continued so very bad that we determine
to make a push, and try to reach the vessel before night
From the quantity of rain which had fallen, the surfac
of the whole country was swampy.  I suppose my horse fel
at least a dozen times, and sometimes the whole six horse
were floundering in the mud together.  All the little stream
are bordered by soft peat, which makes it very difficult fo
the horses to leap them without falling.  To complete ou
discomforts we were obliged to cross the head of a cree
of the sea, in which the water was as high as our horses
backs; and the little waves, owing to the violence of th
wind, broke over us, and made us very wet and cold.  Eve
the iron-framed Gauchos professed themselves glad whe
they reached the settlement, after our little excursion

The geological structure of these islands is in mos
respects simple.  The lower country consists of clay-slat
and sandstone, containing fossils, very closely related to, bu
not identical with, those found in the Silurian formation
of Europe; the hills are formed of white granular quart
rock.  The strata of the latter are frequently arched wit
perfect symmetry, and the appearance of some of the masse
is in consequence most singular.  Pernety [8] has devote
several pages to the description of a Hill of Ruins, th
successive strata of which he has justly compared to th
seats of an amphitheatre.  The quartz rock must have bee
quite pasty when it underwent such remarkable flexure
without being shattered into fragments.  As the quart
insensibly passes into the sandstone, it seems probable tha
the former owes its origin to the sandstone having bee
heated to such a degree that it became viscid, and upon cooling
crystallized.  While in the soft state it must have bee
pushed up through the overlying beds.

In many parts of the island the bottoms of the valleys ar
covered in an extraordinary manner by myriads of grea
loose angular fragments of the quartz rock, forming "stream
of stones." These have been mentioned with surprise b
every voyager since the time of Pernety.  The blocks ar
not waterworn, their angles being only a little blunted; the
vary in size from one or two feet in diameter to ten, or eve
more than twenty times as much.  They are not throw
together into irregular piles, but are spread out into leve
sheets or great streams.  It is not possible to ascertain thei
thickness, but the water of small streamlets can be hear
trickling through the stones many feet below the surface
The actual depth is probably great, because the crevice
between the lower fragments must long ago have been fille
up with sand.  The width of these sheets of stones varie
from a few hundred feet to a mile; but the peaty soil dail
encroaches on the borders, and even forms islets whereve
a few fragments happen to lie close together.  In a valle
south of Berkeley Sound, which some of our party calle
the "great valley of fragments," it was necessary to cros
an uninterrupted band half a mile wide, by jumping fro
one pointed stone to another.  So large were the fragments
that being overtaken by a shower of rain, I readily foun
shelter beneath one of them.

Their little inclination is the most remarkable circumstance
in these "streams of stones." On the hill-sides I hav
seen them sloping at an angle of ten degrees with the horizon
but in some of the level, broad-bottomed valleys, the
inclination is only just sufficient to be clearly perceived.
On so rugged a surface there was no means of measuring th
angle, but to give a common illustration, I may say that th
slope would not have checked the speed of an English mail-coach.
In some places, a continuous stream of these fragments
followed up the course of a valley, and eve
extended to the very crest of the hill.  On these crests hug
masses, exceeding in dimensions any small building, seeme
to stand arrested in their headlong course: there, also, th
curved strata of the archways lay piled on each other, lik
the ruins of some vast and ancient cathedral.  In endeavouring
to describe these scenes of violence one is tempted to pas
from one simile to another.  We may imagine that stream
of white lava had flowed from many parts of the mountain
into the lower country, and that when solidified they had bee
rent by some enormous convulsion into myriads of fragments.
The expression "streams of stones," which immediately
occurred to every one, conveys the same idea.  Thes
scenes are on the spot rendered more striking by the contrast
of the low rounded forms of the neighbouring hills.

I was interested by finding on the highest peak of on
range (about 700 feet above the sea) a great arched fragment,
lying on its convex side, or back downwards.  Mus
we believe that it was fairly pitched up in the air, and thu
turned?  Or, with more probability, that there existed formerly
a part of the same range more elevated than the poin
on which this monument of a great convulsion of nature no
lies.  As the fragments in the valleys are neither rounde
nor the crevices filled up with sand, we must infer that th
period of violence was subsequent to the land having bee
raised above the waters of the sea.  In a transverse sectio
within these valleys, the bottom is nearly level, or rises bu
very little towards either side.  Hence the fragments appea
to have travelled from the head of the valley; but in realit
it seems more probable that they have been hurled down fro
the nearest slopes; and that since, by a vibratory movemen
of overwhelming force, [9] the fragments have been levelle
into one continuous sheet.  If during the earthquake [10] whic
in 1835 overthrew Concepcion, in Chile, it was thought wonderful
that small bodies should have been pitched a fe
inches from the ground, what must we say to a movemen
which has caused fragments many tons in weight, to mov
onwards like so much sand on a vibrating board, and fin
their level?  I have seen, in the Cordillera of the Andes, th
evident marks where stupendous mountains have been broke
into pieces like so much thin crust, and the strata thrown o
their vertical edges; but never did any scene, like thes
"streams of stones," so forcibly convey to my mind the ide
of a convulsion, of which in historical records we might i
vain seek for any counterpart: yet the progress of knowledg
will probably some day give a simple explanation of thi
phenomenon, as it already has of the so long-thought
inexplicable transportal of the erratic boulders, which are
strewed over the plains of Europe.

I have little to remark on the zoology of these islands.
have before described the carrion-vulture of Polyborus
There are some other hawks, owls, and a few small land-birds.
The water-fowl are particularly numerous, and the
must formerly, from the accounts of the old navigators
have been much more so.  One day I observed a cormoran
playing with a fish which it had caught.  Eight times
successively the bird let its prey go, then dived after it, an
although in deep water, brought it each time to the surface
In the Zoological Gardens I have seen the otter treat a fis
in the same manner, much as a cat does a mouse: I do no
know of any other instance where dame Nature appears s
wilfully cruel.  Another day, having placed myself betwee
a penguin (Aptenodytes demersa) and the water, I was muc
amused by watching its habits.  It was a brave bird; and til
reaching the sea, it regularly fought and drove me backwards
Nothing less than heavy blows would have stopped him; ever
inch he gained he firmly kept, standing close before me erec
and determined.  When thus opposed he continually rolle
his head from side to side, in a very odd manner, as if th
power of distinct vision lay only in the anterior and basa
part of each eye.  This bird is commonly called the jackas
penguin, from its habit, while on shore, of throwing its hea
backwards, and making a loud strange noise, very like th
braying of an ass; but while at sea, and undisturbed, its not
is very deep and solemn, and is often heard in the night-time
In diving, its little wings are used as fins; but on the land,
as front legs.  When crawling, it may be said on four legs
through the tussocks or on the side of a grassy cliff, it move
so very quickly that it might easily be mistaken for a
quadruped.  When at sea and fishing, it comes to the surface fo
the purpose of breathing with such a spring, and dives agai
so instantaneously, that I defy any one at first sight to b
sure that it was not a fish leaping for sport.

Two kinds of geese frequent the Falklands.  The uplan
species (Anas Magellanica) is common, in pairs and in smal
flocks, throughout the island.  They do not migrate, but buil
on the small outlying islets.  This is supposed to be fro
fear of the foxes: and it is perhaps from the same caus
that these birds, though very tame by day, are shy and wil
in the dusk of the evening.  They live entirely on vegetabl
matter.

The rock-goose, so called from living exclusively on th
sea-beach (Anas antarctica), is common both here and o
the west coast of America, as far north as Chile.  In the dee
and retired channels of Tierra del Fuego, the snow-whit
gander, invariably accompanied by his darker consort, an
standing close by each other on some distant rocky point, i
a common feature in the landscape.

In these islands a great loggerheaded duck or goose (Ana
brachyptera), which sometimes weighs twenty-two pounds
is very abundant.  These birds were in former days called
from their extraordinary manner of paddling and splashin
upon the water, race-horses; but now they are named, muc
more appropriately, steamers.  Their wings are too small an
weak to allow of flight, but by their aid, partly swimming an
partly flapping the surface of the water, they move ver
quickly.  The manner is something like that by which th
common house-duck escapes when pursued by a dog; but
am nearly sure that the steamer moves its wings alternately
instead of both together, as in other birds.  These clumsy
loggerheaded ducks make such a noise and splashing, that th
effect is exceedingly curious.

Thus we find in South America three birds which use thei
wings for other purposes besides flight; the penguins as fins
the steamer as paddles, and the ostrich as sails: and th
Apteryz of New Zealand, as well as its gigantic extinct
prototype the Deinornis, possess only rudimentary
representatives of wings.  The steamer is able to dive only
to a very short distance.  It feeds entirely on shell-fish
from the kelp and tidal rocks: hence the beak and head, for
the purpose of breaking them, are surprisingly heavy and
strong: the head is so strong that I have scarcely been able
to fracture it with my geological hammer; and all our sportsmen
soon discovered how tenacious these birds were of life.  When in
the evening pluming themselves in a flock, they make the sam
odd mixture of sounds which bull-frogs do within the tropics

In Tierra del Fuego, as well as in the Falkland Islands,
made many observations on the lower marine animals, [11] bu
they are of little general interest.  I will mention only on
class of facts, relating to certain zoophytes in the more highl
organized division of that class.  Several genera (Flustra
Eschara, Cellaria, Crisia, and others) agree in having singular
moveable organs (like those of Flustra avicularia, foun
in the European seas) attached to their cells.  The organ, i
the greater number of cases, very closely resembles the hea
of a vulture; but the lower mandible can be opened muc
wider than in a real bird's beak.  The head itself possesse
considerable powers of movement, by means of a short neck
In one zoophyte the head itself was fixed, but the lower ja
free: in another it was replaced by a triangular hood, with
beautifully-fitted trap-door, which evidently answered to th
lower mandible.  In the greater number of species, each cel
was provided with one head, but in others each cell had two.

The young cells at the end of the branches of these corallines
contain quite immature polypi, yet the vulture-head
attached to them, though small, are in every respect perfect
When the polypus was removed by a needle from any of th
cells, these organs did not appear in the least affected.  Whe
one of the vulture-like heads was cut off from the cell, th
lower mandible retained its power of opening and closing
Perhaps the most singular part of their structure is, tha
when there were more than two rows of cells on a branch
the central cells were furnished with these appendages, o
only one-fourth the size of the outside ones.  Their movements
varied according to the species; but in some I neve
saw the least motion; while others, with the lower mandibl
generally wide open, oscillated backwards and forwards a
the rate of about five seconds each turn, others moved rapidly
and by starts.  When touched with a needle, the bea
generally seized the point so firmly, that the whole branc
might be shaken.

These bodies have no relation whatever with the production
of the eggs or gemmules, as they are formed before th
young polypi appear in the cells at the end of the growin
branches; as they move independently of the polypi, and d
not appear to be in any way connected with them; and a
they differ in size on the outer and inner rows of cells, I hav
little doubt, that in their functions, they are related rathe
to the horny axis of the branches than to the polypi in th
cells.  The fleshy appendage at the lower extremity of th
sea-pen (described at Bahia Blanca) also forms part of th
zoophyte, as a whole, in the same manner as the roots of
tree form part of the whole tree, and not of the individua
leaf or flower-buds.

In another elegant little coralline (Crisia?), each cell wa
furnished with a long-toothed bristle, which had the powe
of moving quickly.  Each of these bristles and each of th
vulture-like heads generally moved quite independently o
the others, but sometimes all on both sides of a branch,
sometimes only those on one side, moved together
coinstantaneously, sometimes each moved in regular order one
after another.  In these actions we apparently behold as perfect
a transmission of will in the zoophyte, though composed o
thousands of distinct polypi, as in any single animal.  Th
case, indeed, is not different from that of the sea-pens, which
when touched, drew themselves into the sand on the coast o
Bahia Blanca.  I will state one other instance of unifor
action, though of a very different nature, in a zoophyt
closely allied to Clytia, and therefore very simply organized
Having kept a large tuft of it in a basin of salt-water, whe
it was dark I found that as often as I rubbed any part of
branch, the whole became strongly phosphorescent with
green light: I do not think I ever saw any object more
beautifully so.  But the remarkable circumstance was, that th
flashes of light always proceeded up the branches, from th
base towards the extremities.

The examination of these compound animals was alway
very interesting to me.  What can be more remarkable tha
to see a plant-like body producing an egg, capable of swimming
about and of choosing a proper place to adhere to
which then sprouts into branches, each crowded with innumerable
distinct animals, often of complicated organizations
The branches, moreover, as we have just seen, sometime
possess organs capable of movement and independent of th
polypi.  Surprising as this union of separate individuals in
common stock must always appear, every tree displays th
same fact, for buds must be considered as individual plants
It is, however, natural to consider a polypus, furnished wit
a mouth, intestines, and other organs, as a distinct individual
whereas the individuality of a leaf-bud is not easily realised
so that the union of separate individuals in a common bod
is more striking in a coralline than in a tree.  Our conception
of a compound animal, where in some respects the individuality
of each is not completed, may be aided, by reflectin
on the production of two distinct creatures by bisecting
single one with a knife, or where Nature herself perform
the task of bisection.  We may consider the polypi in
zoophyte, or the buds in a tree, as cases where the divisio
of the individual has not been completely effected.  Certainl
in the case of trees, and judging from analogy in that o
corallines, the individuals propagated by buds seem mor
intimately related to each other, than eggs or seeds are t
their parents.  It seems now pretty well established tha
plants propagated by buds all partake of a common duratio
of life; and it is familiar to every one, what singular an
numerous peculiarities are transmitted with certainty, b
buds, layers, and grafts, which by seminal propagation neve
or only casually reappear

[1] The desserts of Syria are characterized, according to
Volney (tom. i. p. 351), by woody bushes, numerous rats,
gazelles and hares.  In the landscape of Patagonia, the guanaco
replaces the gazelle, and the agouti the hare.

[2] I noticed that several hours before any one of the condors
died, all the lice, with which it was infested, crawled to the
outside feathers.  I was assured that this always happens.

[3] London's Magazine of Nat. Hist., vol. vii.

[4] From accounts published since our voyage, and more
especially from several interesting letters from Capt. Sulivan,
R. N., employed on the survey, it appears that we took an
exaggerated view of the badness of the climate on these
islands.  But when I reflect on the almost universal covering
of peat, and on the fact of wheat seldom ripening here, I can
hardly believe that the climate in summer is so fine and dry
as it has lately been represented.

[5] Lesson's Zoology of the Voyage of the Coquille, tom. i.
p. 168. All the early voyagers, and especially Bougainville,
distinctly state that the wolf-like fox was the only native
animal on the island.  The distinction of the rabbit as a
species, is taken from peculiarities in the fur, from the
shape of the head, and from the shortness of the ears.  I may
here observe that the difference between the Irish and English
hare rests upon nearly similar characters, only more strongly
marked

[6] I have reason, however, to suspect that there is a field-
mouse.  The common European rat and mouse have roamed far from
the habitations of the settlers.  The common hog has also run
wild on one islet; all are of a black colour: the boars are
very fierce, and have great trunks.

[7] The "culpeu" is the Canis Magellanicus brought home by
Captain King from the Strait of Magellan.  It is common in
Chile

[8] Pernety, Voyage aux Isles Malouines, p. 526.

[9] "Nous n'avons pas ete moins saisis d'etonnement a la vue
de l'innombrable quantite de pierres de touts grandeurs,
bouleversees les unes sur les autres, et cependent rangees,
comme si elles avoient ete amoncelees negligemment pour remplir
des ravins.  On ne se lassoit pas d'admirer les effets
prodigieux de la nature." — Pernety, p. 526.

[10] An inhabitant of Mendoza, and hence well capable of
judging, assured me that, during the several years he had
resided on these islands, he had never felt the slightest
shock of an earthquake.

[11] I was surprised to find, on counting the eggs of a large
white Doris (this sea-slug was three and a half inches long),
how extraordinarily numerous they were.  From two to five eggs
(each three-thousandths of an inch in diameter) were contained
in spherical little case.  These were arranged two deep in
transverse rows forming a ribbon.  The ribbon adhered by its
edge to the rock in an oval spire.  One which I found, measured
nearly twenty inches in length and half in breadth.  By counting
how many balls were contained in a tenth of an inch in the
row, and how many rows in an equal length of the ribbon, on
the most moderate computation there were six hundred thousand
eggs.  Yet this Doris was certainly not very common; although
I was often searching under the stones, I saw only seven
individuals.  No fallacy is more common with naturalists,
than that the numbers of an individual species depend on
its powers of propagation.



CHAPTER X

TIERRA DEL FUEGO

Tierra del Fuego, first arrival — Good Success Bay — An
Account of the Fuegians on board — Interview With the
Savages — Scenery of the Forests — Cape Horn — Wigwam
Cove — Miserable Condition of the Savages — Famines —
Cannibals — Matricide — Religious Feelings  — Great
Gale — Beagle Channel — Ponsonby Sound — Build Wigwams
and settle the Fuegians — Bifurcation of the Beagle
Channel  — Glaciers — Return to the Ship — Second Visit
in the Ship to the Settlement — Equality of Condition
amongst the Natives.


DECEMBER 17th, 1832. — Having now finished with
Patagonia and the Falkland Islands, I will describe
our first arrival in Tierra del Fuego.  A little after
noon we doubled Cape St.  Diego, and entered the famous
strait of Le Maire.  We kept close to the Fuegian shore, but
the outline of the rugged, inhospitable Statenland was visible
amidst the clouds.  In the afternoon we anchored in the Bay
of Good Success.  While entering we were saluted in a manner
becoming the inhabitants of this savage land.  A group
of Fuegians partly concealed by the entangled forest, were
perched on a wild point overhanging the sea; and as we
passed by, they sprang up and waving their tattered cloaks
sent forth a loud and sonorous shout.  The savages followed
the ship, and just before dark we saw their fire, and again
heard their wild cry.  The harbour consists of a fine piece
of water half surrounded by low rounded mountains of clay-
slate, which are covered to the water's edge by one dense
gloomy forest.  A single glance at the landscape was sufficient
to show me how widely different it was from anything
I had ever beheld.  At night it blew a gale of wind, and
heavy squalls from the mountains swept past us.  It would
have been a bad time out at sea, and we, as well as others,
may call this Good Success Bay.

In the morning the Captain sent a party to communicate
with the Fuegians.  When we came within hail, one of the
four natives who were present advanced to receive us, and
began to shout most vehemently, wishing to direct us where
to land.  When we were on shore the party looked rather
alarmed, but continued talking and making gestures with
great rapidity.  It was without exception the most curious
and interesting spectacle I ever beheld: I could not have
believed how wide was the difference between savage and
civilized man: it is greater than between a wild and
domesticated animal, inasmuch as in man there is a greater
power of improvement.  The chief spokesman was old, and
appeared to be the head of the family; the three others were
powerful young men, about six feet high.  The women and
children had been sent away.  These Fuegians are a very
different race from the stunted, miserable wretches farther
westward; and they seem closely allied to the famous Patagonians
of the Strait of Magellan.  Their only garment consists
of a mantle made of guanaco skin, with the wool outside:
this they wear just thrown over their shoulders, leaving
their persons as often exposed as covered.  Their skin is of
a dirty coppery-red colour.

The old man had a fillet of white feathers tied round his
head, which partly confined his black, coarse, and entangled
hair.  His face was crossed by two broad transverse bars;
one, painted bright red, reached from ear to ear and included
the upper lip; the other, white like chalk, extended above
and parallel to the first, so that even his eyelids were thus
coloured.  The other two men were ornamented by streaks
of black powder, made of charcoal.  The party altogether
closely resembled the devils which come on the stage in plays
like Der Freischutz.

Their very attitudes were abject, and the expression of
their countenances distrustful, surprised, and startled.  After
we had presented them with some scarlet cloth, which they
immediately tied round their necks, they became good friends.
This was shown by the old man patting our breasts,
and making a chuckling kind of noise, as people do when
feeding chickens.  I walked with the old man, and this
demonstration of friendship was repeated several times; it was
concluded by three hard slaps, which were given me on the
breast and back at the same time.  He then bared his bosom
for me to return the compliment, which being done, he
seemed highly pleased.  The language of these people,
according to our notions, scarcely deserves to be called
articulate.  Captain Cook has compared it to a man clearing his
throat, but certainly no European ever cleared his throat
with so many hoarse, guttural, and clicking sounds.

They are excellent mimics: as often as we coughed or
yawned, or made any odd motion, they immediately imitated
us.  Some of our party began to squint and look awry; but
one of the young Fuegians (whose whole face was painted
black, excepting a white band across his eyes) succeeded in
making far more hideous grimaces.  They could repeat with
perfect correctness each word in any sentence we addressed
them, and they remembered such words for some time.  Yet
we Europeans all know how difficult it is to distinguish
apart the sounds in a foreign language.  Which of us, for
instance, could follow an American Indian through a sentence
of more than three words?  All savages appear to possess, to
an uncommon degree, this power of mimicry.  I was told,
almost in the same words, of the same ludicrous habit among
the Caffres; the Australians, likewise, have long been notorious
for being able to imitate and describe the gait of any
man, so that he may be recognized.  How can this faculty be
explained? is it a consequence of the more practised habits
of perception and keener senses, common to all men in a
savage state, as compared with those long civilized?

When a song was struck up by our party, I thought the
Fuegians would have fallen down with astonishment.  With
equal surprise they viewed our dancing; but one of the
young men, when asked, had no objection to a little waltzing.
Little accustomed to Europeans as they appeared to be, yet
they knew and dreaded our fire-arms; nothing would tempt
them to take a gun in their hands.  They begged for knives,
calling them by the Spanish word "cuchilla." They explained
also what they wanted, by acting as if they had a
piece of blubber in their mouth, and then pretending to cut
instead of tear it.

I have not as yet noticed the Fuegians whom we had on
board.  During the former voyage of the Adventure and
Beagle in 1826 to 1830, Captain Fitz Roy seized on a party
of natives, as hostages for the loss of a boat, which had
been stolen, to the great jeopardy of a party employed on
the survey; and some of these natives, as well as a child
whom he bought for a pearl-button, he took with him to
England, determining to educate them and instruct them in
religion at his own expense.  To settle these natives in their
own country, was one chief inducement to Captain Fitz Roy
to undertake our present voyage; and before the Admiralty
had resolved to send out this expedition, Captain Fitz Roy
had generously chartered a vessel, and would himself have
taken them back.  The natives were accompanied by a missionary,
R. Matthews; of whom and of the natives, Captain
Fitz Roy has published a full and excellent account.  Two
men, one of whom died in England of the small-pox, a boy
and a little girl, were originally taken; and we had now on
board, York Minster, Jemmy Button (whose name expresses
his purchase-money), and Fuegia Basket.  York Minster
was a full-grown, short, thick, powerful man: his disposition
was reserved, taciturn, morose, and when excited violently
passionate; his affections were very strong towards a few
friends on board; his intellect good.  Jemmy Button was a
universal favourite, but likewise passionate; the expression
of his face at once showed his nice disposition.  He was
merry and often laughed, and was remarkably sympathetic
with any one in pain: when the water was rough, I was often
a little sea-sick, and he used to come to me and say in a
plaintive voice, "Poor, poor fellow!" but the notion, after
his aquatic life, of a man being sea-sick, was too ludicrous,
and he was generally obliged to turn on one side to hide a
smile or laugh, and then he would repeat his "Poor, poor
fellow!" He was of a patriotic disposition; and he liked to
praise his own tribe and country, in which he truly said there
were "plenty of trees," and he abused all the other tribes:
he stoutly declared that there was no Devil in his land.
Jemmy was short, thick, and fat, but vain of his personal
appearance; he used always to wear gloves, his hair was
neatly cut, and he was distressed if his well-polished shoes
were dirtied.  He was fond of admiring himself in a looking
glass; and a merry-faced little Indian boy from the Rio
Negro, whom we had for some months on board, soon perceived
this, and used to mock him: Jemmy, who was always
rather jealous of the attention paid to this little boy, did not
at all like this, and used to say, with rather a contemptuous
twist of his head, "Too much skylark." It seems yet wonderful
to me, when I think over all his many good qualities
that he should have been of the same race, and doubtless
partaken of the same character, with the miserable, degraded
savages whom we first met here.  Lastly, Fuegia Basket was
a nice, modest, reserved young girl, with a rather pleasing but
sometimes sullen expression, and very quick in learning anything,
especially languages.  This she showed in picking up
some Portuguese and Spanish, when left on shore for only
a short time at Rio de Janeiro and Monte Video, and in her
knowledge of English.  York Minster was very jealous of
any attention paid to her; for it was clear he determined to
marry her as soon as they were settled on shore.

Although all three could both speak and understand a
good deal of English, it was singularly difficult to obtain
much information from them, concerning the habits of their
countrymen; this was partly owing to their apparent difficulty
in understanding the simplest alternative.  Every one
accustomed to very young children, knows how seldom one
can get an answer even to so simple a question as whether a
thing is black or white; the idea of black or white seems
alternately to fill their minds.  So it was with these Fuegians,
and hence it was generally impossible to find out, by cross
questioning, whether one had rightly understood anything
which they had asserted.  Their sight was remarkably acute;
it is well known that sailors, from long practice, can make
out a distant object much better than a landsman; but both
York and Jemmy were much superior to any sailor on board:
several times they have declared what some distant object
has been, and though doubted by every one, they have proved
right, when it has been examined through a telescope.  They
were quite conscious of this power; and Jemmy, when he
had any little quarrel with the officer on watch, would say,
"Me see ship, me no tell."

It was interesting to watch the conduct of the savages,
when we landed, towards Jemmy Button: they immediately
perceived the difference between him and ourselves, and held
much conversation one with another on the subject.  The
old man addressed a long harangue to Jemmy, which it
seems was to invite him to stay with them But Jemmy
understood very little of their language, and was, moreover,
thoroughly ashamed of his countrymen.  When York Minster
afterwards came on shore, they noticed him in the
same way, and told him he ought to shave; yet he had not
twenty dwarf hairs on his face, whilst we all wore our
untrimmed beards.  They examined the colour of his skin, and
compared it with ours.  One of our arms being bared, they
expressed the liveliest surprise and admiration at its
whiteness, just in the same way in which I have seen the
ourangoutang do at the Zoological Gardens.  We thought that they
mistook two or three of the officers, who were rather shorter
and fairer, though adorned with large beards, for the ladies
of our party.  The tallest amongst the Fuegians was evidently
much pleased at his height being noticed.  When placed
back to back with the tallest of the boat's crew, he
tried his best to edge on higher ground, and to stand on
tiptoe.  He opened his mouth to show his teeth, and turned
his face for a side view; and all this was done with such
alacrity, that I dare say he thought himself the handsomest
man in Tierra del Fuego.  After our first feeling of grave
astonishment was over, nothing could be more ludicrous
than the odd mixture of surprise and imitation which these
savages every moment exhibited.


The next day I attempted to penetrate some way into the
country.  Tierra del Fuego may be described as a mountainous
land, partly submerged in the sea, so that deep inlets
and bays occupy the place where valleys should exist.  The
mountain sides, except on the exposed western coast, are
covered from the water's edge upwards by one great forest.
The trees reach to an elevation of between 1000 and 1500
feet, and are succeeded by a band of peat, with minute alpine
plants; and this again is succeeded by the line of perpetual
snow, which, according to Captain King, in the Strait of
Magellan descends to between 3000 and 4000 feet.  To find
an acre of level land in any part of the country is most rare.
I recollect only one little flat piece near Port Famine, and
another of rather larger extent near Goeree Road.  In both
places, and everywhere else, the surface is covered by a
thick bed of swampy peat.  Even within the forest, the
ground is concealed by a mass of slowly putrefying vegetable
matter, which, from being soaked with water, yields to the
foot.

Finding it nearly hopeless to push my way through the
wood, I followed the course of a mountain torrent.  At first,
from the waterfalls and number of dead trees, I could hardly
crawl along; but the bed of the stream soon became a little
more open, from the floods having swept the sides.  I continued
slowly to advance for an hour along the broken and
rocky banks, and was amply repaid by the grandeur of the
scene.  The gloomy depth of the ravine well accorded with
the universal signs of violence.  On every side were lying
irregular masses of rock and torn-up trees; other trees,
though still erect, were decayed to the heart and ready to
fall.  The entangled mass of the thriving and the fallen
reminded me of the forests within the tropics — yet there was
a difference: for in these still solitudes, Death, instead of
Life, seemed the predominant spirit.  I followed the watercourse
till I came to a spot where a great slip had cleared a
straight space down the mountain side.  By this road I
ascended to a considerable elevation, and obtained a good
view of the surrounding woods.  The trees all belong to
one kind, the Fagus betuloides; for the number of the other
species of Fagus and of the Winter's Bark, is quite
inconsiderable.  This beech keeps its leaves throughout the year;
but its foliage is of a peculiar brownish-green colour, with
a tinge of yellow.  As the whole landscape is thus coloured,
it has a sombre, dull appearance; nor is it often enlivened
by the rays of the sun.

December 20th. — One side of the harbour is formed by a
hill about 1500 feet high, which Captain Fitz Roy has called
after Sir J. Banks, in commemoration of his disastrous
excursion, which proved fatal to two men of his party, and
nearly so to Dr. Solander.  The snowstorm, which was the
cause of their misfortune, happened in the middle of January,
corresponding to our July, and in the latitude of Durham!
I was anxious to reach the summit of this mountain
to collect alpine plants; for flowers of any kind in the lower
parts are few in number.  We followed the same watercourse
as on the previous day, till it dwindled away, and we
were then compelled to crawl blindly among the trees.
These, from the effects of the elevation and of the impetuous
winds, were low, thick and crooked.  At length we reached
that which from a distance appeared like a carpet of fine
green turf, but which, to our vexation, turned out to be a
compact mass of little beech-trees about four or five feet
high.  They were as thick together as box in the border of
a garden, and we were obliged to struggle over the flat but
treacherous surface.  After a little more trouble we gained
the peat, and then the bare slate rock.

A ridge connected this hill with another, distant some
miles, and more lofty, so that patches of snow were lying
on it.  As the day was not far advanced, I determined to
walk there and collect plants along the road.  It would have
been very hard work, had it not been for a well-beaten and
straight path made by the guanacos; for these animals, like
sheep, always follow the same line.  When we reached the
hill we found it the highest in the immediate neighbourhood,
and the waters flowed to the sea in opposite directions.  We
obtained a wide view over the surrounding country: to the
north a swampy moorland extended, but to the south we
had a scene of savage magnificence, well becoming Tierra
del Fuego.  There was a degree of mysterious grandeur
in mountain behind mountain, with the deep intervening
valleys, all covered by one thick, dusky mass of forest.  The
atmosphere, likewise, in this climate, where gale succeeds
gale, with rain, hail, and sleet, seems blacker than anywhere
else.  In the Strait of Magellan looking due southward from
Port Famine, the distant channels between the mountains
appeared from their gloominess to lead beyond the confines
of this world.

December 21st.  — The Beagle got under way: and on the
succeeding day, favoured to an uncommon degree by a fine
easterly breeze, we closed in with the Barnevelts, and running
past Cape Deceit with its stony peaks, about three
o'clock doubled the weather-beaten Cape Horn.  The evening
was calm and bright, and we enjoyed a fine view of the
surrounding isles.  Cape Horn, however, demanded his tribute,
and before night sent us a gale of wind directly in our teeth.
We stood out to sea, and on the second day again made the
land, when we saw on our weather-bow this notorious promontory
in its proper form — veiled in a mist, and its dim
outline surrounded by a storm of wind and water.  Great
black clouds were rolling across the heavens, and squalls
of rain, with hail, swept by us with such extreme violence,
that the Captain determined to run into Wigwam Cove.
This is a snug little harbour, not far from Cape Horn; and
here, at Christmas-eve, we anchored in smooth water.  The
only thing which reminded us of the gale outside, was every
now and then a puff from the mountains, which made the
ship surge at her anchors.

December 25th. — Close by the Cove, a pointed hill, called
Kater's Peak, rises to the height of 1700 feet.  The surrounding
islands all consist of conical masses of greenstone,
associated sometimes with less regular hills of baked and
altered clay-slate.  This part of Tierra del Fuego may be
considered as the extremity of the submerged chain of
mountains already alluded to.  The cove takes its name of
"Wigwam" from some of the Fuegian habitations; but every
bay in the neighbourhood might be so called with equal
propriety.  The inhabitants, living chiefly upon shell-fish, are
obliged constantly to change their place of residence; but
they return at intervals to the same spots, as is evident from
the piles of old shells, which must often amount to many
tons in freight.  These heaps can be distinguished at a long
distance by the bright green colour of certain plants, which
invariably grow on them.  Among these may be enumerated
the wild celery and scurvy grass, two very serviceable plants,
the use of which has not been discovered by the natives.

The Fuegian wigwam resembles, in size and dimensions,
a haycock.  It merely consists of a few broken branches
stuck in the ground, and very imperfectly thatched on one
side with a few tufts of grass and rushes.  The whole cannot
be the work of an hour, and it is only used for a few days.
At Goeree Roads I saw a place where one of these naked
men had slept, which absolutely offered no more cover than
the form of a hare.  The man was evidently living by himself,
and York Minster said he was "very bad man," and
that probably he had stolen something.  On the west coast,
however, the wigwams are rather better, for they are covered
with seal-skins.  We were detained here several days by the
bad weather.  The climate is certainly wretched: the summer
solstice was now passed, yet every day snow fell on the
hills, and in the valleys there was rain, accompanied by
sleet.  The thermometer generally stood about 45 degs., but in
the night fell to 38 or 40 degs.  From the damp and boisterous
state of the atmosphere, not cheered by a gleam of sunshine,
one fancied the climate even worse than it really was.

While going one day on shore near Wollaston Island, we
pulled alongside a canoe with six Fuegians.  These were the
most abject and miserable creatures I anywhere beheld.  On
the east coast the natives, as we have seen, have guanaco
cloaks, and on the west they possess seal-skins.  Amongst
these central tribes the men generally have an otter-skin, or
some small scrap about as large as a pocket-handkerchief,
which is barely sufficient to cover their backs as low down
as their loins.  It is laced across the breast by strings, and
according as the wind blows, it is shifted from side to side.
But these Fuegians in the canoe were quite naked, and even
one full-grown woman was absolutely so.  It was raining
heavily, and the fresh water, together with the spray, trickled
down her body.  In another harbour not far distant, a
woman, who was suckling a recently-born child, came one
day alongside the vessel, and remained there out of mere
curiosity, whilst the sleet fell and thawed on her naked
bosom, and on the skin of her naked baby!  These poor
wretches were stunted in their growth, their hideous faces
bedaubed with white paint, their skins filthy and greasy,
their hair entangled, their voices discordant, and their
gestures violent.  Viewing such men, one can hardly make one's
self believe that they are fellow-creatures, and inhabitants
of the same world.  It is a common subject of conjecture
what pleasure in life some of the lower animals can enjoy:
how much more reasonably the same question may be asked
with respect to these barbarians!  At night, five or six
human beings, naked and scarcely protected from the wind
and rain of this tempestuous climate, sleep on the wet
ground coiled up like animals.  Whenever it is low water,
winter or summer, night or day, they must rise to pick shellfish
from the rocks; and the women either dive to collect
sea-eggs, or sit patiently in their canoes, and with a baited
hair-line without any hook, jerk out little fish.  If a seal is
killed, or the floating carcass of a putrid whale is discovered,
it is a feast; and such miserable food is assisted by a few
tasteless berries and fungi.

They often suffer from famine: I heard Mr. Low, a sealing-master
intimately acquainted with the natives of this
country, give a curious account of the state of a party of
one hundred and fifty natives on the west coast, who were
very thin and in great distress.  A succession of gales prevented
the women from getting shell-fish on the rocks, and
they could not go out in their canoes to catch seal.  A small
party of these men one morning set out, and the other
Indians explained to him, that they were going a four days'
journey for food: on their return, Low went to meet them,
and he found them excessively tired, each man carrying
a great square piece of putrid whale's-blubber with a hole
in the middle, through which they put their heads, like the
Gauchos do through their ponchos or cloaks.  As soon as
the blubber was brought into a wigwam, an old man cut off
thin slices, and muttering over them, broiled them for a
minute, and distributed them to the famished party, who
during this time preserved a profound silence.  Mr. Low
believes that whenever a whale is cast on shore, the natives
bury large pieces of it in the sand, as a resource in time of
famine; and a native boy, whom he had on board, once
found a stock thus buried.  The different tribes when at
war are cannibals.  From the concurrent, but quite independent
evidence of the boy taken by Mr. Low, and of
Jemmy Button, it is certainly true, that when pressed in
winter by hunger, they kill and devour their old women
before they kill their dogs: the boy, being asked by Mr.
Low why they did this, answered, "Doggies catch otters,
old women no." This boy described the manner in which
they are killed by being held over smoke and thus choked;
he imitated their screams as a joke, and described the parts
of their bodies which are considered best to eat.  Horrid
as such a death by the hands of their friends and relatives
must be, the fears of the old women, when hunger begins
to press, are more painful to think of; we are told that they
then often run away into the mountains, but that they are
pursued by the men and brought back to the slaughter-house
at their own firesides!

Captain Fitz Roy could never ascertain that the Fuegians
have any distinct belief in a future life.  They sometimes
bury their dead in caves, and sometimes in the mountain
forests; we do not know what ceremonies they perform.
Jemmy Button would not eat land-birds, because "eat dead
men": they are unwilling even to mention their dead friends.
We have no reason to believe that they perform any sort of
religious worship; though perhaps the muttering of the old
man before he distributed the putrid blubber to his famished
party, may be of this nature.  Each family or tribe has a
wizard or conjuring doctor, whose office we could never
clearly ascertain.  Jemmy believed in dreams, though not, as
I have said, in the devil: I do not think that our Fuegians
were much more superstitious than some of the sailors; for
an old quartermaster firmly believed that the successive
heavy gales, which we encountered off Cape Horn, were
caused by our having the Fuegians on board.  The nearest
approach to a religious feeling which I heard of, was shown
by York Minster, who, when Mr. Bynoe shot some very
young ducklings as specimens, declared in the most solemn
manner, "Oh, Mr. Bynoe, much rain, snow, blow much."
This was evidently a retributive punishment for wasting
human food.  In a wild and excited manner he also related,
that his brother, one day whilst returning to pick up some
dead birds which he had left on the coast, observed some
feathers blown by the wind.  His brother said (York imitating
his manner), "What that?" and crawling onwards,
he peeped over the cliff, and saw "wild man" picking his
birds; he crawled a little nearer, and then hurled down a
great stone and killed him.  York declared for a long time
afterwards storms raged, and much rain and snow fell.
As far as we could make out, he seemed to consider the
elements themselves as the avenging agents: it is evident in
this case, how naturally, in a race a little more advanced
in culture, the elements would become personified.  What
the "bad wild men" were, has always appeared to me most
mysterious: from what York said, when we found the place
like the form of a hare, where a single man had slept the
night before, I should have thought that they were thieves
who had been driven from their tribes; but other obscure
speeches made me doubt this; I have sometimes imagined
that the most probable explanation was that they were
insane.

The different tribes have no government or chief; yet
each is surrounded by other hostile tribes, speaking different
dialects, and separated from each other only by a deserted
border or neutral territory: the cause of their warfare appears
to be the means of subsistence.  Their country is a
broken mass of wild rocks, lofty hills, and useless forests:
and these are viewed through mists and endless storms.  The
habitable land is reduced to the stones on the beach; in
search of food they are compelled unceasingly to wander
from spot to spot, and so steep is the coast, that they can
only move about in their wretched canoes.  They cannot
know the feeling of having a home, and still less that of
domestic affection; for the husband is to the wife a brutal
master to a laborious slave.  Was a more horrid deed ever
perpetrated, than that witnessed on the west coast by Byron,
who saw a wretched mother pick up her bleeding dying
infant-boy, whom her husband had mercilessly dashed on the
stones for dropping a basket of sea-eggs!  How little can
the higher powers of the mind be brought into play: what is
there for imagination to picture, for reason to compare, or
judgment to decide upon? to knock a limpet from the rock
does not require even cunning, that lowest power of the
mind.  Their skill in some respects may be compared to the
instinct of animals; for it is not improved by experience:
the canoe, their most ingenious work, poor as it is, has
remained the same, as we know from Drake, for the last two
hundred and fifty years.

Whilst beholding these savages, one asks, whence have
they come?  What could have tempted, or what change compelled
a tribe of men, to leave the fine regions of the north,
to travel down the Cordillera or backbone of America, to
invent and build canoes, which are not used by the tribes
of Chile, Peru, and Brazil, and then to enter on one of the
most inhospitable countries within the limits of the globe?
Although such reflections must at first seize on the mind, yet
we may feel sure that they are partly erroneous.  There is
no reason to believe that the Fuegians decrease in number;
therefore we must suppose that they enjoy a sufficient share
of happiness, of whatever kind it may be, to render life
worth having.  Nature by making habit omnipotent, and its
effects hereditary, has fitted the Fuegian to the climate and
the productions of his miserable country.


After having been detained six days in Wigwam Cove by
very bad weather, we put to sea on the 30th of December.
Captain Fitz Roy wished to get westward to land York and
Fuegia in their own country.  When at sea we had a constant
succession of gales, and the current was against us: we
drifted to 57 degs. 23' south.  On the 11th of January, 1833,
by carrying a press of sail, we fetched within a few miles of
the great rugged mountain of York Minster (so called by
Captain Cook, and the origin of the name of the elder Fuegian),
when a violent squall compelled us to shorten sail
and stand out to sea.  The surf was breaking fearfully on
the coast, and the spray was carried over a cliff estimated
to 200 feet in height.  On the 12th the gale was very heavy,
and we did not know exactly where we were: it was a most
unpleasant sound to hear constantly repeated, "keep a good
look-out to leeward." On the 13th the storm raged with its
full fury: our horizon was narrowly limited by the sheets
of spray borne by the wind.  The sea looked ominous, like
a dreary waving plain with patches of drifted snow: whilst
the ship laboured heavily, the albatross glided with its
expanded wings right up the wind.  At noon a great sea broke
over us, and filled one of the whale boats, which was
obliged to be instantly cut away.  The poor Beagle trembled
at the shock, and for a few minutes would not obey her helm;
but soon, like a good ship that she was, she righted and came
up to the wind again.  Had another sea followed the first,
our fate would have been decided soon, and for ever.  We
had now been twenty-four days trying in vain to get westward;
the men were worn out with fatigue, and they had not
had for many nights or days a dry thing to put on.  Captain
Fitz Roy gave up the attempt to get westward by the outside
coast.  In the evening we ran in behind False Cape Horn,
and dropped our anchor in forty-seven fathoms, fire flashing
from the windlass as the chain rushed round it.  How delightful
was that still night, after having been so long involved
in the din of the warring elements!

January 15th, 1833. — The Beagle anchored in Goeree
Roads.  Captain Fitz Roy having resolved to settle the Fuegians,
according to their wishes, in Ponsonby Sound, four
boats were equipped to carry them there through the Beagle
Channel.  This channel, which was discovered by Captain
Fitz Roy during the last voyage, is a most remarkable feature
in the geography of this, or indeed of any other country: it
may be compared to the valley of Lochness in Scotland, with
its chain of lakes and friths.  It is about one hundred and
twenty miles long, with an average breadth, not subject to
any very great variation, of about two miles; and is throughout
the greater part so perfectly straight, that the view,
bounded on each side by a line of mountains, gradually becomes
indistinct in the long distance.  It crosses the southern
part of Tierra del Fuego in an east and west line, and
in the middle is joined at right angles on the south side by
an irregular channel, which has been called Ponsonby Sound.
This is the residence of Jemmy Button's tribe and family.

19th. — Three whale-boats and the yawl, with a party of
twenty-eight, started under the command of Captain Fitz
Roy.  In the afternoon we entered the eastern mouth of the
channel, and shortly afterwards found a snug little cove
concealed by some surrounding islets.  Here we pitched our
tents and lighted our fires.  Nothing could look more comfortable
than this scene.  The glassy water of the little harbour,
with the branches of the trees hanging over the rocky
beach, the boats at anchor, the tents supported by the crossed
oars, and the smoke curling up the wooded valley, formed a
picture of quiet retirement.  The next day (20th) we smoothly
glided onwards in our little fleet, and came to a more inhabited
district.  Few if any of these natives could ever
have seen a white man; certainly nothing could exceed their
astonishment at the apparition of the four boats.  Fires were
lighted on every point (hence the name of Tierra del Fuego,
or the land of fire), both to attract our attention and to
spread far and wide the news.  Some of the men ran for
miles along the shore.  I shall never forget how wild and
savage one group appeared: suddenly four or five men came
to the edge of an overhanging cliff; they were absolutely
naked, and their long hair streamed about their faces; they
held rugged staffs in their hands, and, springing from the
ground, they waved their arms round their heads, and sent
forth the most hideous yells.

At dinner-time we landed among a party of Fuegians.
At first they were not inclined to be friendly; for until the
Captain pulled in ahead of the other boats, they kept their
slings in their hands.  We soon, however, delighted them by
trifling presents, such as tying red tape round their heads.
They liked our biscuit: but one of the savages touched with
his finger some of the meat preserved in tin cases which I
was eating, and feeling it soft and cold, showed as much disgust
at it, as I should have done at putrid blubber.  Jemmy
was thoroughly ashamed of his countrymen, and declared his
own tribe were quite different, in which he was wofully
mistaken.  It was as easy to please as it was difficult to
satisfy these savages.  Young and old, men and children, never
ceased repeating the word "yammerschooner," which means
"give me." After pointing to almost every object, one after
the other, even to the buttons on our coats, and saying their
favourite word in as many intonations as possible, they would
then use it in a neuter sense, and vacantly repeat
"yammerschooner." After yammerschoonering for any article very
eagerly, they would by a simple artifice point to their young
women or little children, as much as to say, "If you will
not give it me, surely you will to such as these."

At night we endeavoured in vain to find an uninhabited
cove; and at last were obliged to bivouac not far from a
party of natives.  They were very inoffensive as long as they
were few in numbers, but in the morning (21st) being joined
by others they showed symptoms of hostility, and we thought
that we should have come to a skirmish.  An European
labours under great disadvantages when treating with savages
like these, who have not the least idea of the power of
fire-arms.  In the very act of levelling his musket he appears
to the savage far inferior to a man armed with a bow and
arrow, a spear, or even a sling.  Nor is it easy to teach them
our superiority except by striking a fatal blow.  Like wild
beasts, they do not appear to compare numbers; for each
individual, if attacked, instead of retiring, will endeavour to
dash your brains out with a stone, as certainly as a tiger
under similar circumstances would tear you.  Captain Fitz
Roy on one occasion being very anxious, from good reasons,
to frighten away a small party, first flourished a cutlass near
them, at which they only laughed; he then twice fired his
pistol close to a native.  The man both times looked astounded,
and carefully but quickly rubbed his head; he then
stared awhile, and gabbled to his companions, but he never
seemed to think of running away.  We can hardly put ourselves
in the position of these savages, and understand their
actions.  In the case of this Fuegian, the possibility of such
a sound as the report of a gun close to his ear could never
have entered his mind.  He perhaps literally did not for a
second know whether it was a sound or a blow, and therefore
very naturally rubbed his head.  In a similar manner,
when a savage sees a mark struck by a bullet, it may be some
time before he is able at all to understand how it is effected;
for the fact of a body being invisible from its velocity would
perhaps be to him an idea totally inconceivable.  Moreover,
the extreme force of a bullet, that penetrates a hard substance
without tearing it, may convince the savage that it
has no force at all.  Certainly I believe that many savages
of the lowest grade, such as these of Tierra del Fuego, have
seen objects struck, and even small animals killed by the
musket, without being in the least aware how deadly an
instrument it is.

22nd. — After having passed an unmolested night, in what
would appear to be neutral territory between Jemmy's tribe
and the people whom we saw yesterday, we sailed pleasantly
along.  I do not know anything which shows more clearly
the hostile state of the different tribes, than these wide
border or neutral tracts.  Although Jemmy Button well knew the
force of our party, he was, at first, unwilling to land amidst
the hostile tribe nearest to his own.  He often told us how
the savage Oens men "when the leaf red," crossed the mountains
from the eastern coast of Tierra del Fuego, and made
inroads on the natives of this part of the country.  It was
most curious to watch him when thus talking, and see his
eyes gleaming and his whole face assume a new and wild
expression.  As we proceeded along the Beagle Channel, the
scenery assumed a peculiar and very magnificent character;
but the effect was much lessened from the lowness of the
point of view in a boat, and from looking along the valley,
and thus losing all the beauty of a succession of ridges.  The
mountains were here about three thousand feet high, and
terminated in sharp and jagged points.  They rose in one
unbroken sweep from the water's edge, and were covered to
the height of fourteen or fifteen hundred feet by the dusky-
coloured forest.  It was most curious to observe, as far as
the eye could range, how level and truly horizontal the line
on the mountain side was, at which trees ceased to grow: it
precisely resembled the high-water mark of drift-weed on a
sea-beach.

At night we slept close to the junction of Ponsonby Sound
with the Beagle Channel.  A small family of Fuegians, who
were living in the cove, were quiet and inoffensive, and soon
joined our party round a blazing fire.  We were well clothed,
and though sitting close to the fire were far from too warm;
yet these naked savages, though further off, were observed,
to our great surprise, to be streaming with perspiration at
undergoing such a roasting.  They seemed, however, very
well pleased, and all joined in the chorus of the seamen's
songs: but the manner in which they were invariably a little
behindhand was quite ludicrous.

During the night the news had spread, and early in the
morning (23rd) a fresh party arrived, belonging to the Tekenika,
or Jemmy's tribe.  Several of them had run so fast that
their noses were bleeding, and their mouths frothed from
the rapidity with which they talked; and with their naked
bodies all bedaubed with black, white, [1] and red, they looked
like so many demoniacs who had been fighting.  We then
proceeded (accompanied by twelve canoes, each holding four
or five people) down Ponsonby Sound to the spot where poor
Jemmy expected to find his mother and relatives.  He had
already heard that his father was dead; but as he had had
a "dream in his head" to that effect, he did not seem to
care much about it, and repeatedly comforted himself with
the very natural reflection — "Me no help it." He was not
able to learn any particulars regarding his father's death, as
his relations would not speak about it.

Jemmy was now in a district well known to him, and
guided the boats to a quiet pretty cove named Woollya,
surrounded by islets, every one of which and every point had
its proper native name.  We found here a family of Jemmy's
tribe, but not his relations: we made friends with them;
and in the evening they sent a canoe to inform Jemmy's
mother and brothers.  The cove was bordered by some acres
of good sloping land, not covered (as elsewhere) either by
peat or by forest-trees.  Captain Fitz Roy originally intended,
as before stated, to have taken York Minster and
Fuegia to their own tribe on the west coast; but as they
expressed a wish to remain here, and as the spot was singularly
favourable, Captain Fitz Roy determined to settle here the
whole party, including Matthews, the missionary.  Five days
were spent in building for them three large wigwams, in
landing their goods, in digging two gardens, and sowing
seeds.

The next morning after our arrival (the 24th) the Fuegians
began to pour in, and Jemmy's mother and brothers
arrived.  Jemmy recognised the stentorian voice of one of
his brothers at a prodigious distance.  The meeting was less
interesting than that between a horse, turned out into a field,
when he joins an old companion.  There was no demonstration
of affection; they simply stared for a short time at
each other; and the mother immediately went to look after
her canoe.  We heard, however, through York that the
mother has been inconsolable for the loss of Jemmy and had
searched everywhere for him, thinking that he might have
been left after having been taken in the boat.  The women
took much notice of and were very kind to Fuegia.  We had
already perceived that Jemmy had almost forgotten his own
language.  I should think there was scarcely another human
being with so small a stock of language, for his English was
very imperfect.  It was laughable, but almost pitiable, to
hear him speak to his wild brother in English, and then ask
him in Spanish ("no sabe?") whether he did not understand
him.

Everything went on peaceably during the three next days
whilst the gardens were digging and wigwams building.  We
estimated the number of natives at about one hundred and
twenty.  The women worked hard, whilst the men lounged
about all day long, watching us.  They asked for everything
they saw, and stole what they could.  They were delighted
at our dancing and singing, and were particularly interested
at seeing us wash in a neighbouring brook; they did not pay
much attention to anything else, not even to our boats.  Of
all the things which York saw, during his absence from his
country, nothing seems more to have astonished him than
an ostrich, near Maldonado: breathless with astonishment
he came running to Mr. Bynoe, with whom he was out walking
— "Oh, Mr. Bynoe, oh, bird all same horse!" Much as
our white skins surprised the natives, by Mr. Low's account
a negro-cook to a sealing vessel, did so more effectually, and
the poor fellow was so mobbed and shouted at that he would
never go on shore again.  Everything went on so quietly
that some of the officers and myself took long walks in the
surrounding hills and woods.  Suddenly, however, on the
27th, every woman and child disappeared.  We were all uneasy
at this, as neither York nor Jemmy could make out
the cause.  It was thought by some that they had been frightened
by our cleaning and firing off our muskets on the previous
evening; by others, that it was owing to offence taken
by an old savage, who, when told to keep further off, had
coolly spit in the sentry's face, and had then, by gestures
acted over a sleeping Fuegian, plainly showed, as it was said,
that he should like to cut up and eat our man.  Captain
Fitz Roy, to avoid the chance of an encounter, which would
have been fatal to so many of the Fuegians, thought it advisable
for us to sleep at a cove a few miles distant.  Matthews,
with his usual quiet fortitude (remarkable in a man
apparently possessing little energy of character), determined
to stay with the Fuegians, who evinced no alarm for themselves;
and so we left them to pass their first awful night.

On our return in the morning (28th) we were delighted
to find all quiet, and the men employed in their canoes
spearing fish.  Captain Fitz Roy determined to send the
yawl and one whale-boat back to the ship; and to proceed
with the two other boats, one under his own command (in
which he most kindly allowed me to accompany him), and
one under Mr. Hammond, to survey the western parts of
the Beagle Channel, and afterwards to return and visit the
settlement.  The day to our astonishment was overpoweringly
hot, so that our skins were scorched: with this beautiful
weather, the view in the middle of the Beagle Channel
was very remarkable.  Looking towards either hand, no object
intercepted the vanishing points of this long canal between
the mountains.  The circumstance of its being an arm
of the sea was rendered very evident by several huge whales [2]
spouting in different directions.  On one occasion I saw two
of these monsters, probably male and female, slowly swimming
one after the other, within less than a stone's throw
of the shore, over which the beech-tree extended its branches.
We sailed on till it was dark, and then pitched our tents
in a quiet creek.  The greatest luxury was to find for our
beds a beach of pebbles, for they were dry and yielded to
the body.  Peaty soil is damp; rock is uneven and hard;
sand gets into one's meat, when cooked and eaten boat-fashion;
but when lying in our blanket-bags, on a good bed of
smooth pebbles, we passed most comfortable nights.

It was my watch till one o'clock.  There is something
very solemn in these scenes.  At no time does the consciousness
in what a remote corner of the world you are then
standing, come so strongly before the mind.  Everything
tends to this effect; the stillness of the night is interrupted
only by the heavy breathing of the seamen beneath the tents,
and sometimes by the cry of a night-bird.  The occasional
barking of a dog, heard in the distance, reminds one that it
is  the land of the savage.

January 20th. — Early in the morning we arrived at the
point where the Beagle Channel divides into two arms; and
we entered the northern one.  The scenery here becomes
even grander than before.  The lofty mountains on the north
side compose the granitic axis, or backbone of the country
and boldly rise to a height of between three and four thousand
feet, with one peak above six thousand feet.  They are
covered by a wide mantle of perpetual snow, and numerous
cascades pour their waters, through the woods, into the narrow
channel below.  In many parts, magnificent glaciers extend
from the mountain side to the water's edge.  It is
scarcely possible to imagine anything more beautiful than
the beryl-like blue of these glaciers, and especially as
contrasted with the dead white of the upper expanse of snow.
The fragments which had fallen from the glacier into the
water were floating away, and the channel with its icebergs
presented, for the space of a mile, a miniature likeness of
the Polar Sea.  The boats being hauled on shore at our
dinner-hour, we were admiring from the distance of half a
mile a perpendicular cliff of ice, and were wishing that some
more fragments would fall.  At last, down came a mass with
a roaring noise, and immediately we saw the smooth outline
of a wave travelling towards us.  The men ran down as
quickly as they could to the boats; for the chance of their
being dashed to pieces was evident.  One of the seamen just
caught hold of the bows, as the curling breaker reached it:
he was knocked over and over, but not hurt, and the boats
though thrice lifted on high and let fall again, received no
damage.  This was most fortunate for us, for we were a
hundred miles distant from the ship, and we should have
been left without provisions or fire-arms.  I had previously
observed that some large fragments of rock on the beach had
been lately displaced; but until seeing this wave, I did not
understand the cause.  One side of the creek was formed
by a spur of mica-slate; the head by a cliff of ice about
forty feet high; and the other side by a promontory fifty
feet high, built up of huge rounded fragments of granite
and mica-slate, out of which old trees were growing.  This
promontory was evidently a moraine, heaped up at a period
when the glacier had greater dimensions.

When we reached the western mouth of this northern
branch of the Beagle Channel, we sailed amongst many unknown
desolate islands, and the weather was wretchedly bad.
We met with no natives.  The coast was almost everywhere
so steep, that we had several times to pull many miles before
we could find space enough to pitch our two tents: one night
we slept on large round boulders, with putrefying sea-weed
between them; and when the tide rose, we had to get up and
move our blanket-bags.  The farthest point westward which
we reached was Stewart Island, a distance of about one hundred
and fifty miles from our ship.  We returned into the
Beagle Channel by the southern arm, and thence proceeded,
with no adventure, back to Ponsonby Sound.

February 6th. — We arrived at Woollya.  Matthews gave
so bad an account of the conduct of the Fuegians, that Captain
Fitz Roy determined to take him back to the Beagle;
and ultimately he was left at New Zealand, where his brother
was a missionary.  From the time of our leaving, a regular
system of plunder commenced; fresh parties of the natives
kept arriving: York and Jemmy lost many things, and Matthews
almost everything which had not been concealed underground.
Every article seemed to have been torn up and
divided by the natives.  Matthews described the watch he
was obliged always to keep as most harassing; night and
day he was surrounded by the natives, who tried to tire him
out by making an incessant noise close to his head.  One day
an old man, whom Matthews asked to leave his wigwam,
immediately returned with a large stone in his hand: another
day a whole party came armed with stones and stakes, and
some of the younger men and Jemmy's brother were crying:
Matthews met them with presents.  Another party showed
by signs that they wished to strip him naked and pluck all
the hairs out of his face and body.  I think we arrived just
in time to save his life.  Jemmy's relatives had been so vain
and foolish, that they had showed to strangers their plunder,
and their manner of obtaining it.  It was quite melancholy
leaving the three Fuegians with their savage countrymen;
but it was a great comfort that they had no personal
fears.  York, being a powerful resolute man, was pretty sure
to get on well, together with his wife Fuegia.  Poor Jemmy
looked rather disconsolate, and would then, I have little
doubt, have been glad to have returned with us.  His own
brother had stolen many things from him; and as he remarked,
"What fashion call that:" he abused his countrymen,
"all bad men, no sabe (know) nothing" and, though
I never heard him swear before, "damned fools." Our three
Fuegians, though they had been only three years with civilized
men, would, I am sure, have been glad to have retained
their new habits; but this was obviously impossible.  I fear
it is more than doubtful, whether their visit will have been
of any use to them.

In the evening, with Matthews on board, we made sail
back to the ship, not by the Beagle Channel, but by the
southern coast.  The boats were heavily laden and the sea
rough, and we had a dangerous passage.  By the evening
of the 7th we were on board the Beagle after an absence of
twenty days, during which time we had gone three hundred
miles in the open boats.  On the 11th, Captain Fitz Roy
paid a visit by himself to the Fuegians and found them going
on well; and that they had lost very few more things.


On the last day of February in the succeeding year (1834)
the Beagle anchored in a beautiful little cove at the eastern
entrance of the Beagle Channel.  Captain Fitz Roy determined
on the bold, and as it proved successful, attempt to
beat against the westerly winds by the same route, which
we had followed in the boats to the settlement at Woollya.
We did not see many natives until we were near Ponsonby
Sound, where we were followed by ten or twelve canoes.  The
natives did not at all understand the reason of our tacking,
and, instead of meeting us at each tack, vainly strove to
follow us in our zigzag course.  I was amused at finding
what a difference the circumstance of being quite superior
in force made, in the interest of beholding these savages.
While in the boats I got to hate the very sound of their
voices, so much trouble did they give us.  The first and last
word was "yammerschooner." When, entering some quiet
little cove, we have looked round and thought to pass a quiet
night, the odious word "yammerschooner" has shrilly sounded
from some gloomy nook, and then the little signal-smoke
has curled up to spread the news far and wide.  On leaving
some place we have said to each other, "Thank heaven, we
have at last fairly left these wretches!" when one more faint
hallo from an all-powerful voice, heard at a prodigious
distance, would reach our ears, and clearly could we distinguish
— "yammerschooner." But now, the more Fuegians the merrier;
and very merry work it was.  Both parties laughing,
wondering, gaping at each other; we pitying them, for giving
us good fish and crabs for rags, etc.; they grasping at the
chance of finding people so foolish as to exchange such splendid
ornaments for a good supper.  It was most amusing to
see the undisguised smile of satisfaction with which one
young woman with her face painted black, tied several bits
of scarlet cloth round her head with rushes.  Her husband,
who enjoyed the very universal privilege in this country of
possessing two wives, evidently became jealous of all the
attention paid to his young wife; and, after a consultation
with his naked beauties, was paddled away by them.

Some of the Fuegians plainly showed that they had a fair
notion of barter.  I gave one man a large nail (a most valuable
present) without making any signs for a return; but he
immediately picked out two fish, and handed them up on the
point of his spear.  If any present was designed for one
canoe, and it fell near another, it was invariably given to the
right owner.  The Fuegian boy, whom Mr. Low had on
board showed, by going into the most violent passion, that
he quite understood the reproach of being called a liar, which
in truth he was.  We were this time, as on all former occasions,
much surprised at the little notice, or rather none
whatever, which was taken of many things, the use of which
must have been evident to the natives.  Simple circumstances
— such as the beauty of scarlet cloth or blue beads,
the absence of women, our care in washing ourselves, — excited
their admiration far more than any grand or complicated
object, such as our ship.  Bougainville has well remarked
concerning these people, that they treat the "chefs
d'oeuvre de l'industrie humaine, comme ils traitent les loix
de la nature et ses phenomenes."

On the 5th of March, we anchored in a cove at Woollya,
but we saw not a soul there.  We were alarmed at this, for
the natives in Ponsonby Sound showed by gestures, that there
had been fighting; and we afterwards heard that the dreaded
Oens men had made a descent.  Soon a canoe, with a little
flag flying, was seen approaching, with one of the men in it
washing the paint off his face.  This man was poor Jemmy,
— now a thin, haggard savage, with long disordered hair, and
naked, except a bit of blanket round his waist.  We did not
recognize him till he was close to us, for he was ashamed
of himself, and turned his back to the ship.  We had left him
plump, fat, clean, and well-dressed; — I never saw so complete
and grievous a change.  As soon, however, as he was clothed,
and the first flurry was over, things wore a good appearance.
He dined with Captain Fitz Roy, and ate his dinner
as tidily as formerly.  He told us that he had "too much"
(meaning enough) to eat, that he was not cold, that his
relations were very good people, and that he did not wish to go
back to England: in the evening we found out the cause of
this great change in Jemmy's feelings, in the arrival of his
young and nice-looking wife.  With his usual good feeling
he brought two beautiful otter-skins for two of his best
friends, and some spear-heads and arrows made with his own
hands for the Captain.  He said he had built a canoe for himself,
and he boasted that he could talk a little of his own
language!  But it is a most singular fact, that he appears to
have taught all his tribe some English: an old man spontaneously
announced "Jemmy Button's wife." Jemmy had lost
all his property.  He told us that York Minster had built
a large canoe, and with his wife Fuegia, [3] had several months
since gone to his own country, and had taken farewell by an
act of consummate villainy; he persuaded Jemmy and his
mother to come with him, and then on the way deserted them
by night, stealing every article of their property.

Jemmy went to sleep on shore, and in the morning returned,
and remained on board till the ship got under way,
which frightened his wife, who continued crying violently
till he got into his canoe.  He returned loaded with valuable
property.  Every soul on board was heartily sorry to shake
hands with him for the last time.  I do not now doubt that
he will be as happy as, perhaps happier than, if he had never
left his own country.  Every one must sincerely hope that
Captain Fitz Roy's noble hope may be fulfilled, of being
rewarded for the many generous sacrifices which he made for
these Fuegians, by some shipwrecked sailor being protected
by the descendants of Jemmy Button and his tribe!  When
Jemmy reached the shore, he lighted a signal fire, and the
smoke curled up, bidding us a last and long farewell, as the
ship stood on her course into the open sea.

The perfect equality among the individuals composing the
Fuegian tribes must for a long time retard their civilization.
As we see those animals, whose instinct compels them to live
in society and obey a chief, are most capable of improvement,
so is it with the races of mankind.  Whether we look
at it as a cause or a consequence, the more civilized always
have the most artificial governments.  For instance, the
inhabitants of Otaheite, who, when first discovered, were
governed by hereditary kings, had arrived at a far higher grade
than another branch of the same people, the New Zealanders,
— who, although benefited by being compelled to turn their
attention to agriculture, were republicans in the most absolute
sense.  In Tierra del Fuego, until some chief shall arise
with power sufficient to secure any acquired advantage, such
as the domesticated animals, it seems scarcely possible that
the political state of the country can be improved.  At present,
even a piece of cloth given to one is torn into shreds
and distributed; and no one individual becomes richer than
another.  On the other hand, it is difficult to understand how
a chief can arise till there is property of some sort by which
he might manifest his superiority and increase his power.

I believe, in this extreme part of South America, man
exists in a lower state of improvement than in any other part
of the world.  The South Sea Islanders, of the two races
inhabiting the Pacific, are comparatively civilized.  The
Esquimau in his subterranean hut, enjoys some of the comforts
of life, and in his canoe, when fully equipped, manifests
much skill.  Some of the tribes of Southern Africa
prowling about in search of roots, and living concealed on
the wild and arid plains, are sufficiently wretched.  The
Australian, in the simplicity of the arts of life, comes
nearest the Fuegian: he can, however, boast of his boomerang,
his spear and throwing-stick, his method of climbing trees, of
tracking animals, and of hunting.  Although the Australian may be
superior in acquirements, it by no means follows that he is
likewise superior in mental capacity: indeed, from what I
saw of the Fuegians when on board and from what I have
read of the Australians, I should think the case was exactly
the reverse.

[1] This substance, when dry, is tolerably compact, and of
little specific gravity: Professor Ehrenberg has examined
it: he states (Konig Akad. der Wissen: Berlin, Feb. 1845)
that it is composed of infusoria, including fourteen
polygastrica, and four phytolitharia.  He says that they are
all inhabitants of fresh-water; this is a beautiful example
of the results obtainable through Professor Ehrenberg's
microscopic researches; for Jemmy Button told me that it is
always collected at the bottoms of mountain-brooks.  It is,
moreover, a striking fact that in the geographical distribution
of the infusoria, which are well known to have very wide
ranges, that all the species in this substance, although
brought from the extreme southern point of Tierra del Fuego,
are old, known forms.

[2] One day, off the East coast of Tierra del Fuego, we saw
a grand sight in several spermaceti whales jumping upright
quite out of the water, with the exception of their tail-fins.
As they fell down sideways, they splashed the water high up,
and the sound reverberated like a distant broadside.

[3] Captain Sulivan, who, since his voyage in the Beagle, has
been employed on the survey of the Falkland Islands, heard
from a sealer in (1842?), that when in the western part of
the Strait of Magellan, he was astonished by a native woman
coming on board, who could talk some English.  Without doubt
this was Fuega Basket.  She lived (I fear the term probably
bears a double interpretation) some days on board.



CHAPTER XI

STRAIT OF MAGELLAN. — CLIMATE OF THE SOUTHERN COASTS

Strait of Magellan — Port Famine — Ascent of Mount Tarn —
Forests  — Edible Fungus — Zoology — Great Sea-weed — Leave
Tierra del Fuego — Climate — Fruit-trees and Productions
of the Southern Coasts — Height of Snow-line on the
Cordillera — Descent of Glaciers to the Sea — Icebergs
formed — Transportal of Boulders —  Climate and Productions
of the Antarctic Islands — Preservation of Frozen Carcasses —
Recapitulation.


IN THE end of May, 1834, we entered for a second time
the eastern mouth of the Strait of Magellan.  The country
on both sides of this part of the Strait consists of
nearly level plains, like those of Patagonia.  Cape Negro, a
little within the second Narrows, may be considered as the
point where the land begins to assume the marked features
of Tierra del Fuego.  On the east coast, south of the Strait,
broken park-like scenery in a like manner connects these two
countries, which are opposed to each other in almost every
feature.  It is truly surprising to find in a space of twenty
miles such a change in the landscape.  If we take a rather
greater distance, as between Port Famine and Gregory Bay,
that is about sixty miles, the difference is still more
wonderful.  At the former place, we have rounded mountains
concealed by impervious forests, which are drenched with the
rain, brought by an endless succession of gales; while at
Cape Gregory, there is a clear and bright blue sky over the
dry and sterile plains.  The atmospheric currents, [1] although
rapid, turbulent, and unconfined by any apparent limits, yet
seem to follow, like a river in its bed, a regularly determined
course.

During our previous visit (in January), we had an interview
at Cape Gregory with the famous so-called gigantic
Patagonians, who gave us a cordial reception.  Their height
appears greater than it really is, from their large guanaco
mantles, their long flowing hair, and general figure: on an
average, their height is about six feet, with some men taller
and only a few shorter; and the women are also tall; altogether
they are certainly the tallest race which we anywhere
saw.  In features they strikingly resemble the more northern
Indians whom I saw with Rosas, but they have a wilder and
more formidable appearance: their faces were much painted
with red and black, and one man was ringed and dotted with
white like a Fuegian.  Captain Fitz Roy offered to take any
three of them on board, and all seemed determined to be of
the three.  It was long before we could clear the boat; at
last we got on board with our three giants, who dined with
the Captain, and behaved quite like gentlemen, helping
themselves with knives, forks, and spoons: nothing was so much
relished as sugar.  This tribe has had so much communication
with sealers and whalers that most of the men can speak a
little English and Spanish; and they are half civilized, and
proportionally demoralized.

The next morning a large party went on shore, to barter
for skins and ostrich-feathers; fire-arms being refused,
tobacco was in greatest request, far more so than axes or
tools.  The whole population of the toldos, men, women, and
children, were arranged on a bank.  It was an amusing
scene, and it was impossible not to like the so-called giants,
they were so thoroughly good-humoured and unsuspecting:
they asked us to come again.  They seem to like to have
Europeans to live with them; and old Maria, an important
woman in the tribe, once begged Mr. Low to leave any one
of his sailors with them.  They spend the greater part of the
year here; but in summer they hunt along the foot of the
Cordillera: sometimes they travel as far as the Rio Negro
750 miles to the north.  They are well stocked with horses,
each man having, according to Mr. Low, six or seven, and
all the women, and even children, their one own horse.  In
the time of Sarmiento (1580), these Indians had bows and
arrows, now long since disused; they then also possessed
some horses.  This is a very curious fact, showing the
extraordinarily rapid multiplication of horses in South America.
The horse was first landed at Buenos Ayres in 1537, and the
colony being then for a time deserted, the horse ran wild; [2]
in 1580, only forty-three years afterwards, we hear of them at
the Strait of Magellan!  Mr. Low informs me, that a neighbouring
tribe of foot-Indians is now changing into horse-Indians:
the tribe at Gregory Bay giving them their worn-out horses,
and sending in winter a few of their best skilled men to hunt
for them.

June 1st. — We anchored in the fine bay of Port Famine.
It was now the beginning of winter, and I never saw a more
cheerless prospect; the dusky woods, piebald with snow,
could be only seen indistinctly, through a drizzling hazy
atmosphere.  We were, however, lucky in getting two fine
days.  On one of these, Mount Sarmiento, a distant mountain
6800 feet high, presented a very noble spectacle.  I was
frequently surprised in the scenery of Tierra del Fuego, at the
little apparent elevation of mountains really lofty.  I suspect
it is owing to a cause which would not at first be imagined,
namely, that the whole mass, from the summit to the water's
edge, is generally in full view.  I remember having seen a
mountain, first from the Beagle Channel, where the whole
sweep from the summit to the base was full in view, and then
from Ponsonby Sound across several successive ridges; and
it was curious to observe in the latter case, as each fresh
ridge afforded fresh means of judging of the distance, how
the mountain rose in height.

Before reaching Port Famine, two men were seen running
along the shore and hailing the ship.  A boat was sent for
them.  They turned out to be two sailors who had run away
from a sealing-vessel, and had joined the Patagonians.  These
Indians had treated them with their usual disinterested
hospitality.  They had parted company through accident, and
were then proceeding to Port Famine in hopes of finding
some ship.  I dare say they were worthless vagabonds, but I
never saw more miserable-looking ones.  They had been living
for some days on mussel-shells and berries, and their
tattered clothes had been burnt by sleeping so near their fires.
They had been exposed night and day, without any shelter,
to the late incessant gales, with rain, sleet, and snow, and yet
they were in good health.

During our stay at Port Famine, the Fuegians twice came
and plagued us.  As there were many instruments, clothes,
and men on shore, it was thought necessary to frighten them
away.  The first time a few great guns were fired, when they
were far distant.  It was most ludicrous to watch through a
glass the Indians, as often as the shot struck the water, take
up stones, and, as a bold defiance, throw them towards the
ship, though about a mile and a half distant!  A boat was
sent with orders to fire a few musket-shots wide of them.
The Fuegians hid themselves behind the trees, and for every
discharge of the muskets they fired their arrows; all, however,
fell short of the boat, and the officer as he pointed at
them laughed.  This made the Fuegians frantic with passion,
and they shook their mantles in vain rage.  At last, seeing
the balls cut and strike the trees, they ran away, and we were
left in peace and quietness.  During the former voyage the
Fuegians were here very troublesome, and to frighten them a
rocket was fired at night over their wigwams; it answered
effectually, and one of the officers told me that the clamour
first raised, and the barking of the dogs, was quite ludicrous
in contrast with the profound silence which in a minute or
two afterwards prevailed.  The next morning not a single
Fuegian was in the neighbourhood.

When the Beagle was here in the month of February, I
started one morning at four o'clock to ascend Mount Tarn,
which is 2600 feet high, and is the most elevated point in this
immediate district.  We went in a boat to the foot of the
mountain (but unluckily not to the best part), and then
began our ascent.  The forest commences at the line of high-
water mark, and during the first two hours I gave over all
hopes of reaching the summit.  So thick was the wood, that
it was necessary to have constant recourse to the compass;
for every landmark, though in a mountainous country, was
completely shut out.  In the deep ravines, the death-like
scene of desolation exceeded all description; outside it was
blowing a gale, but in these hollows, not even a breath of
wind stirred the leaves of the tallest trees.  So gloomy, cold,
and wet was every part, that not even the fungi, mosses, or
ferns could flourish.  In the valleys it was scarcely possible
to crawl along, they were so completely barricaded by great
mouldering trunks, which had fallen down in every direction.
When passing over these natural bridges, one's course was
often arrested by sinking knee deep into the rotten wood; at
other times, when attempting to lean against a firm tree, one
was startled by finding a mass of decayed matter ready to
fall at the slightest touch.  We at last found ourselves among
the stunted trees, and then soon reached the bare ridge, which
conducted us to the summit.  Here was a view characteristic
of Tierra del Fuego; irregular chains of hills, mottled with
patches of snow, deep yellowish-green valleys, and arms of
the sea intersecting the land in many directions.  The strong
wind was piercingly cold, and the atmosphere rather hazy, so
that we did not stay long on the top of the mountain.  Our
descent was not quite so laborious as our ascent, for the
weight of the body forced a passage, and all the slips and
falls were in the right direction.

I have already mentioned the sombre and dull character of
the evergreen forests, [3] in which two or three species of
trees grow, to the exclusion of all others.  Above the forest
land, there are many dwarf alpine plants, which all spring
from the mass of peat, and help to compose it: these plants
are very remarkable from their close alliance with the species
growing on the mountains of Europe, though so many thousand
miles distant.  The central part of Tierra del Fuego, where the
clay-slate formation occurs, is most favourable to the growth
of trees; on the outer coast the poorer granitic soil, and a
situation more exposed to the violent winds, do not allow of
their attaining any great size.  Near Port Famine I have seen
more large trees than anywhere else: I measured a Winter's
Bark which was four feet six inches in girth, and several of
the beech were as much as thirteen feet.  Captain King also
mentions a beech which was seven feet in diameter, seventeen
feet above the roots.

There is one vegetable production deserving notice from
its importance as an article of food to the Fuegians.  It is a
globular, bright-yellow fungus, which grows in vast numbers
on the beech-trees.  When young it is elastic and turgid, with

[picture]

a smooth surface; but when mature it shrinks, becomes tougher,
and has its entire surface deeply pitted or honey-combed,
as represented in the accompanying wood-cut.  This fungus
belongs to a new and curious genus, [4] I found a second
species on another species of beech in Chile: and Dr. Hooker
informs me, that just lately a third species has been discovered
on a third species of beech in Van Diernan's Land.  How singular
is this relationship between parasitical fungi and the trees
on which they grow, in distant parts of the world!  In Tierra
del Fuego the fungus in its tough and mature state is collected
in large quantities by the women and children, and is eaten
un-cooked.  It has a mucilaginous, slightly sweet taste, with
a faint smell like that of a mushroom.  With the exception of
a few berries, chiefly of a dwarf arbutus, the natives eat
no vegetable food besides this fungus.  In New Zealand,
before the introduction of the potato, the roots of the fern
were largely consumed; at the present time, I believe, Tierra
del Fuego is the only country in the world where a cryptogamic
plant affords a staple article of food.

The zoology of Tierra del Fuego, as might have been
expected from the nature of its climate and vegetation, is
very poor.  Of mammalia, besides whales and seals, there is
one bat, a kind of mouse (Reithrodon chinchilloides), two
true mice, a ctenomys allied to or identical with the tucutuco,
two foxes (Canis Magellanicus and C. Azarae), a sea-otter,
the guanaco, and a deer.  Most of these animals inhabit only
the drier eastern parts of the country; and the deer has never
been seen south of the Strait of Magellan.  Observing the
general correspondence of the cliffs of soft sandstone, mud,
and shingle, on the opposite sides of the Strait, and on some
intervening islands, one is strongly tempted to believe that the
land was once joined, and thus allowed animals so delicate
and helpless as the tucutuco and Reithrodon to pass over.
The correspondence of the cliffs is far from proving any
junction; because such cliffs generally are formed by the
intersection of sloping deposits, which, before the elevation
of the land, had been accumulated near the then existing
shores.  It is, however, a remarkable coincidence, that in the
two large islands cut off by the Beagle Channel from the
rest of Tierra del Fuego, one has cliffs composed of matter
that may be called stratified alluvium, which front similar
ones on the opposite side of the channel, — while the other is
exclusively bordered by old crystalline rocks: in the former,
called Navarin Island, both foxes and guanacos occur; but in
the latter, Hoste Island, although similar in every respect,
and only separated by a channel a little more than half a mile
wide, I have the word of Jemmy Button for saying that
neither of these animals are found.

The gloomy woods are inhabited by few birds: occasionally
the plaintive note of a white-tufted tyrant-flycatcher
(Myiobius albiceps) may be heard, concealed near the summit
of the most lofty trees; and more rarely the loud strange
cry of a black wood-pecker, with a fine scarlet crest on its
head.  A little, dusky-coloured wren (Scytalopus Magellanicus)
hops in a skulking manner among the entangled mass
of the fallen and decaying trunks.  But the creeper (Oxyurus
tupinieri) is the commonest bird in the country.  Throughout
the beech forests, high up and low down, in the most
gloomy, wet, and impenetrable ravines, it may be met with.
This little bird no doubt appears more numerous than it
really is, from its habit of following with seeming curiosity
any person who enters these silent woods: continually uttering
a harsh twitter, it flutters from tree to tree, within a few
feet of the intruder's face.  It is far from wishing for the
modest concealment of the true creeper (Certhia familiaris);
nor does it, like that bird, run up the trunks of trees, but
industriously, after the manner of a willow-wren, hops about,
and searches for insects on every twig and branch.  In the
more open parts, three or four species of finches, a thrush,
a starling (or Icterus), two Opetiorhynchi, and several hawks
and owls occur.

The absence of any species whatever in the whole class of
Reptiles, is a marked feature in the zoology of this country,
as well as in that of the Falkland Islands.  I do not ground
this statement merely on my own observation, but I heard it
from the Spanish inhabitants of the latter place, and from
Jemmy Button with regard to Tierra del Fuego.  On the
banks of the Santa Cruz, in 50 degs.  south, I saw a frog; and
it is not improbable that these animals, as well as lizards, may
be found as far south as the Strait of Magellan, where the
country retains the character of Patagonia; but within the
damp and cold limit of Tierra del Fuego not one occurs.
That the climate would not have suited some of the orders,
such as lizards, might have been foreseen; but with respect
to frogs, this was not so obvious.

Beetles occur in very small numbers: it was long before I
could believe that a country as large as Scotland, covered
with vegetable productions and with a variety of stations,
could be so unproductive.  The few which I found were
alpine species (Harpalidae and Heteromidae) living under
stones.  The vegetable-feeding Chrysomelidae, so eminently
characteristic of the Tropics, are here almost entirely
absent; [5] I saw very few flies, butterflies, or bees, and no
crickets or Orthoptera.  In the pools of water I found but a few
aquatic beetles, and not any fresh-water shells: Succinea at
first appears an exception; but here it must be called a
terrestrial shell, for it lives on the damp herbage far from the
water.  Land-shells could be procured only in the same alpine
situations with the beetles.  I have already contrasted the
climate as well as the general appearance of Tierra del
Fuego with that of Patagonia; and the difference is strongly
exemplified in the entomology.  I do not believe they have
one species in common; certainly the general character of the
insects is widely different.

If we turn from the land to the sea, we shall find the latter
as abundantly stocked with living creatures as the former is
poorly so.  In all parts of the world a rocky and partially
protected shore perhaps supports, in a given space, a greater
number of individual animals than any other station.  There
is one marine production which, from its importance, is
worthy of a particular history.  It is the kelp, or Macrocystis
pyrifera.  This plant grows on every rock from low-water
mark to a great depth, both on the outer coast and within the
channels. [6] I believe, during the voyages of the Adventure
and Beagle, not one rock near the surface was discovered
which was not buoyed by this floating weed.  The good service
it thus affords to vessels navigating near this stormy
land is evident; and it certainly has saved many a one from
being wrecked.  I know few things more surprising than to
see this plant growing and flourishing amidst those great
breakers of the western ocean, which no mass of rock, let it
be ever so hard, can long resist.  The stem is round, slimy,
and smooth, and seldom has a diameter of so much as an
inch.  A few taken together are sufficiently strong to support
the weight of the large loose stones, to which in the inland
channels they grow attached; and yet some of these stones
were so heavy that when drawn to the surface, they could
scarcely be lifted into a boat by one person.  Captain Cook,
in his second voyage, says, that this plant at Kerguelen Land
rises from a greater depth than twenty-four fathoms; "and
as it does not grow in a perpendicular direction, but makes a
very acute angle with the bottom, and much of it afterwards
spreads many fathoms on the surface of the sea, I am well
warranted to say that some of it grows to the length of sixty
fathoms and upwards." I do not suppose the stem of any
other plant attains so great a length as three hundred and
sixty feet, as stated by Captain Cook.  Captain Fitz Roy,
moreover, found it growing [7] up from the greater depth of
forty-five fathoms.  The beds of this sea-weed, even when
of not great breadth, make excellent natural floating
breakwaters.  It is quite curious to see, in an exposed harbour,
how soon the waves from the open sea, as they travel through
the straggling stems, sink in height, and pass into smooth
water.

The number of living creatures of all Orders, whose existence
intimately depends on the kelp, is wonderful.  A great
volume might be written, describing the inhabitants of one
of these beds of sea-weed.  Almost all the leaves, excepting
those that float on the surface, are so thickly incrusted with
corallines as to be of a white colour.  We find exquisitely
delicate structures, some inhabited by simple hydra-like
polypi, others by more organized kinds, and beautiful compound
Ascidiae.  On the leaves, also, various patelliform shells,
Trochi, uncovered molluscs, and some bivalves are attached.
Innumerable crustacea frequent every part of the plant.  On
shaking the great entangled roots, a pile of small fish, shells,
cuttle-fish, crabs of all orders, sea-eggs, star-fish, beautiful
Holuthuriae, Planariae, and crawling nereidous animals of a
multitude of forms, all fall out together.  Often as I recurred
to a branch of the kelp, I never failed to discover animals
of new and curious structures.  In Chiloe, where the kelp
does not thrive very well, the numerous shells, corallines, and
crustacea are absent; but there yet remain a few of the
Flustraceae, and some compound Ascidiae; the latter, however,
are of different species from those in Tierra del Fuego:
we see here the fucus possessing a wider range than the animals
which use it as an abode.  I can only compare these
great aquatic forests of the southern hemisphere with the
terrestrial ones in the intertropical regions.  Yet if in any
country a forest was destroyed, I do not believe nearly so
many species of animals would perish as would here, from
the destruction of the kelp.  Amidst the leaves of this plant
numerous species of fish live, which nowhere else could find
food or shelter; with their destruction the many cormorants
and other fishing birds, the otters, seals, and porpoises, would
soon perish also; and lastly, the Fuegian savage, the miserable
lord of this miserable land, would redouble his cannibal
feast, decrease in numbers, and perhaps cease to exist.

June 8th. — We weighed anchor early in the morning and
left Port Famine.  Captain Fitz Roy determined to leave the
Strait of Magellan by the Magdalen Channel, which had not
long been discovered.  Our course lay due south, down that
gloomy passage which I have before alluded to as appearing
to lead to another and worse world.  The wind was fair, but
the atmosphere was very thick; so that we missed much
curious scenery.  The dark ragged clouds were rapidly driven
over the mountains, from their summits nearly down to their
bases.  The glimpses which we caught through the dusky
mass were highly interesting; jagged points, cones of snow,
blue glaciers, strong outlines, marked on a lurid sky, were
seen at different distances and heights.  In the midst of such
scenery we anchored at Cape Turn, close to Mount Sarmiento,
which was then hidden in the clouds.  At the base of
the lofty and almost perpendicular sides of our little cove
there was one deserted wigwam, and it alone reminded us
that man sometimes wandered into these desolate regions.
But it would be difficult to imagine a scene where he seemed
to have fewer claims or less authority.  The inanimate works
of nature — rock, ice, snow, wind, and water — all warring
with each other, yet combined against man — here reigned in
absolute sovereignty.

June 9th. — In the morning we were delighted by seeing
the veil of mist gradually rise from Sarmiento, and display it
to our view.  This mountain, which is one of the highest in
Tierra del Fuego, has an altitude of 6800 feet.  Its base, for
about an eighth of its total height, is clothed by dusky woods,
and above this a field of snow extends to the summit.  These
vast piles of snow, which never melt, and seem destined to
last as long as the world holds together, present a noble and
even sublime spectacle.  The outline of the mountain was
admirably clear and defined.  Owing to the abundance of
light reflected from the white and glittering surface, no
shadows were cast on any part; and those lines which intersected
the sky could alone be distinguished: hence the mass
stood out in the boldest relief.  Several glaciers descended in
a winding course from the upper great expanse of snow to
the sea-coast: they may be likened to great frozen Niagaras;
and perhaps these cataracts of blue ice are full as beautiful
as the moving ones of water.  By night we reached the western
part of the channel; but the water was so deep that no
anchorage could be found.  We were in consequence obliged
to stand off and on in this narrow arm of the sea, during a
pitch-dark night of fourteen hours long.

June 10th. — In the morning we made the best of our way
into the open Pacific.  The western coast generally consists
of low, rounded, quite barren hills of granite and greenstone.
Sir J. Narborough called one part South Desolation, because
it is "so desolate a land to behold:" and well indeed might
he say so.  Outside the main islands, there are numberless
scattered rocks on which the long swell of the open ocean
incessantly rages.  We passed out between the East and West
Furies; and a little farther northward there are so many
breakers that the sea is called the Milky Way.  One sight of
such a coast is enough to make a landsman dream for a week
about shipwrecks, peril, and death; and with this sight we
bade farewell for ever to Tierra del Fuego.

The following discussion on the climate of the southern
parts of the continent with relation to its productions, on
the snow-line, on the extraordinarily low descent of the
glaciers, and on the zone of perpetual congelation in
the antarctic islands, may be passed over by any one
not interested in these curious subjects, or the final
recapitulation alone may be read.  I shall, however, here
give only an abstract, and must refer for details to the
Thirteenth Chapter and the Appendix of the former edition
of this work.

On the Climate and Productions of Tierra del Fuego and
of the South-west Coast. — The following table gives the
mean temperature of Tierra del Fuego, the Falkland Islands,
and, for comparison, that of Dublin: —

                               Summer   Winter   Mean of Summer
                   Latitude    Temp.    Temp.    and Winter
———————————————————————————————-
Tierra del Fuego   53 38' S.   50       33.08    41.54
Falkland Islands   51 38' S.   51       —       —
Dublin             53 21' N.   59.54    39.2     49.37


Hence we see that the central part of Tierra del Fuego is
colder in winter, and no less than 9.5 degs. less hot in
summer, than Dublin.  According to von Buch, the mean
temperature of July (not the hottest month in the year)
at Saltenfiord in Norway, is as high as 57.8 degs.,
and this place is actually 13 degs. nearer the pole
than Port Famine! [8] Inhospitable as this climate appears
to our feelings evergreen trees flourish luxuriantly under
it.  Humming-birds may be seen sucking the flowers, and
parrots feeding on the seeds of the Winter's Bark, in lat.
55 degs. S. I have already remarked to what a degree the
sea swarms with living creatures; and the shells (such as
the Patellae, Fissurellae, Chitons, and Barnacles),
according to Mr. G. B. Sowerby, are of a much larger size
and of a more vigorous growth, than the analogous species in
the northern hemisphere.  A large Voluta is abundant in
southern Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands.  At
Bahia Blanca, in lat. 39 degs. S., the most abundant shells were
three species of Oliva (one of large size), one or two Volutas,
and a Terebra.  Now, these are amongst the best characterized
tropical forms.  It is doubtful whether even one
small species of Oliva exists on the southern shores of
Europe, and there are no species of the two other genera.
If a geologist were to find in lat 39 degs. on the coast of
Portugal a bed containing numerous shells belonging to three
species of Oliva, to a Voluta and Terebra, he would probably
assert that the climate at the period of their existence must
have been tropical; but judging from South America, such an
inference might be erroneous.

The equable, humid, and windy climate of Tierra del
Fuego extends, with only a small increase of heat, for many
degrees along the west coast of the continent.  The forests
for 600 miles northward of Cape Horn, have a very similar
aspect.  As a proof of the equable climate, even for 300 or
400 miles still further northward, I may mention that in
Chiloe (corresponding in latitude with the northern parts
of Spain) the peach seldom produces fruit, whilst strawberries
and apples thrive to perfection.  Even the crops of
barley and wheat [9] are often brought into the houses to be
dried and ripened.  At Valdivia (in the same latitude of
40 degs., with Madrid) grapes and figs ripen, but are not
common; olives seldom ripen even partially, and oranges not at
all.  These fruits, in corresponding latitudes in Europe, are
well known to succeed to perfection; and even in this continent,
at the Rio Negro, under nearly the same parallel
with Valdivia, sweet potatoes (convolvulus) are cultivated;
and grapes, figs, olives, oranges, water and musk melons,
produce abundant fruit.  Although the humid and equable
climate of Chiloe, and of the coast northward and southward
of it, is so unfavourable to our fruits, yet the native
forests, from lat. 45 to 38 degs., almost rival in luxuriance
those of the glowing intertropical regions.  Stately trees of
many kinds, with smooth and highly coloured barks, are loaded
by parasitical monocotyledonous plants; large and elegant
ferns are numerous, and arborescent grasses entwine the
trees into one entangled mass to the height of thirty or forty
feet above the ground.  Palm-trees grow in lat 37 degs.; an
arborescent grass, very like a bamboo, in 40 degs.; and
another closely allied kind, of great length, but not erect,
flourishes even as far south as 45 degs. S.

An equable climate, evidently due to the large area of sea
compared with the land, seems to extend over the greater
part of the southern hemisphere; and, as a consequence, the
vegetation partakes of a semi-tropical character.  Tree-ferns
thrive luxuriantly in Van Diemen's Land (lat. 45 degs.), and I
measured one trunk no less than six feet in circumference.
An arborescent fern was found by Forster in New Zealand
in 46 degs., where orchideous plants are parasitical on the
trees.  In the Auckland Islands, ferns, according to Dr.
Dieffenbach [10] have trunks so thick and high that they may
be almost called tree-ferns; and in these islands, and even
as far south as lat. 55 degs. in the Macquarrie Islands,
parrots abound.

On the Height of the Snow-line, and on the Descent of
the Glaciers in South America. — For the detailed authorities
for the following table, I must refer to the former edition: —

                                 Height in feet
Latitude                         of Snow-line    Observer
————————————————————————————————
Equatorial region; mean result   15,748           Humboldt.
Bolivia, lat. 16 to 18 degs. S.  17,000           Pentland.
Central Chile, lat. 33 degs. S.  14,500 - 15,000  Gillies, and
                                                  the Author.
Chiloe, lat. 41 to 43 degs. S.   6,000            Officers of the
                                                  Beagle and the
                                                  Author.
Tierra del Fuego, 54 degs. S.    3,500 - 4,000    King.


As the height of the plane of perpetual snow seems chiefly to
be determined by the extreme heat of the summer, rather than
by the mean temperature of the year, we ought not to be
surprised at its descent in the Strait of Magellan, where the
summer is so cool, to only 3500 or 4000 feet above the level of
the sea; although in Norway, we must travel to between lat. 67
and 70 degs. N., that is, about 14 degs. nearer the pole, to meet
with perpetual snow at this low level.  The difference in height,
namely, about 9000 feet, between the snow-line on the Cordillera
behind Chiloe (with its highest points ranging from
only 5600 to 7500 feet) and in central Chile [11] (a distance of
only 9 degs. of latitude), is truly wonderful.  The land from the
southward of Chiloe to near Concepcion (lat. 37 degs.) is hidden
by one dense forest dripping with moisture.  The sky is
cloudy, and we have seen how badly the fruits of southern
Europe succeed.  In central Chile, on the other hand, a little
northward of Concepcion, the sky is generally clear, rain does
not fall for the seven summer months, and southern European
fruits succeed admirably; and even the sugar-cane has
been cultivated. [12] No doubt the plane of perpetual snow
undergoes the above remarkable flexure of 9000 feet,
unparalleled in other parts of the world, not far from the
latitude of Concepcion, where the land ceases to be covered
with forest-trees; for trees in South America indicate a rainy
climate, and rain a clouded sky and little heat in summer.

The descent of glaciers to the sea must, I conceive, mainly
depend (subject, of course, to a proper supply of snow in the
upper region) on the lowness of the line of perpetual snow
on steep mountains near the coast.  As the snow-line is so
low in Tierra del Fuego, we might have expected that many
of the glaciers would have reached the sea.  Nevertheless,
I was astonished when I first saw a range, only from 3000 to
4000 feet in height, in the latitude of Cumberland, with every
valley filled with streams of ice descending to the sea-coast.
Almost every arm of the sea, which penetrates to the interior
higher chain, not only in Tierra del Fuego, but on the coast
for 650 miles northwards, is terminated by "tremendous and
astonishing glaciers," as described by one of the officers on
the survey.  Great masses of ice frequently fall from these
icy cliffs, and the crash reverberates like the broadside of a
man-of-war through the lonely channels.  These falls, as
noticed in the last chapter, produce great waves which break
on the adjoining coasts.  It is known that earthquakes frequently
cause masses of earth to fall from sea-cliffs: how
terrific, then, would be the effect of a severe shock (and such
occur here [13]) on a body like a glacier, already in motion, and
traversed by fissures!  I can readily believe that the water
would be fairly beaten back out of the deepest channel, and
then, returning with an overwhelming force, would whirl
about huge masses of rock like so much chaff.  In Eyre's
Sound, in the latitude of Paris, there are immense glaciers,
and yet the loftiest neighbouring mountain is only 6200 feet
high.  In this Sound, about fifty icebergs were seen at one
time floating outwards, and one of them must have been at
least 168 feet in total height.  Some of the icebergs were
loaded with blocks of no inconsiderable size, of granite and
other rocks, different from the clay-slate of the surrounding
mountains.  The glacier furthest from the pole, surveyed
during the voyages of the Adventure and Beagle, is in lat.
46 degs. 50', in the Gulf of Penas.  It is 15 miles long, and in
one part 7 broad and descends to the sea-coast.  But even a
few miles northward of this glacier, in Laguna de San

[picture]

Rafael, some Spanish missionaries [14] encountered "many
icebergs, some great, some small, and others middle-sized," in
a narrow arm of the sea, on the 22nd of the month corresponding
with our June, and in a latitude corresponding with
that of the Lake of Geneva !

In Europe, the most southern glacier which comes down
to the sea is met with, according to Von Buch, on the coast
of Norway, in lat. 67 degs.  Now, this is more than 20 degs. of
latitude, or 1230 miles, nearer the pole than the Laguna de San
Rafael.  The position of the glaciers at this place and in the
Gulf of Penas may be put even in a more striking point of
view, for they descend to the sea-coast within 7.5 degs. of
latitude, or 450 miles, of a harbour, where three species of
Oliva, a Voluta, and a Terebra, are the commonest shells,
within less than 9 degs. from where palms grow, within 4.5 degs.
of a region where the jaguar and puma range over the
plains, less than 2.5 degs. from arborescent grasses, and
(looking to the westward in the same hemisphere) less than
2 degs. from orchideous parasites, and within a single degree
of tree-ferns!

These facts are of high geological interest with respect to
the climate of the northern hemisphere at the period when
boulders were transported.  I will not here detail how simply
the theory of icebergs being charged with fragments of rock,
explain the origin and position of the gigantic boulders of
eastern Tierra del Fuego, on the high plain of Santa Cruz,
and on the island of Chiloe.  In Tierra del Fuego, the greater
number of boulders lie on the lines of old sea-channels, now
converted into dry valleys by the elevation of the land.  They
are associated with a great unstratified formation of mud
and sand, containing rounded and angular fragments of all
sizes, which has originated [15] in the repeated ploughing up of
the sea-bottom by the stranding of icebergs, and by the matter
transported on them.  Few geologists now doubt that
those erratic boulders which lie near lofty mountains have
been pushed forward by the glaciers themselves, and that
those distant from mountains, and embedded in subaqueous
deposits, have been conveyed thither either on icebergs or
frozen in coast-ice.  The connection between the transportal
of boulders and the presence of ice in some form, is strikingly
shown by their geographical distribution over the earth.
In South America they are not found further than 48 degs. of
latitude, measured from the southern pole; in North America
it appears that the limit of their transportal extends to
53.5 degs. from the northern pole; but in Europe to not more
than 40 degs. of latitude, measured from the same point.  On the
other hand, in the intertropical parts of America, Asia, and
Africa, they have never been observed; nor at the Cape of Good
Hope, nor in Australia. [16]

On the Climate and Productions of the Antarctic Islands.
— Considering the rankness of the vegetation in Tierra del
Fuego, and on the coast northward of it, the condition of the
islands south and south-west of America is truly surprising.
Sandwich Land, in the latitude of the north part of Scotland,
was found by Cook, during the hottest month of the
year, "covered many fathoms thick with everlasting snow;"
and there seems to be scarcely any vegetation.  Georgia, an
island 96 miles long and 10 broad, in the latitude of Yorkshire,
"in the very height of summer, is in a manner wholly
covered with frozen snow." It can boast only of moss, some
tufts of grass, and wild burnet; it has only one land-bird
(Anthus correndera), yet Iceland, which is 10 degs. nearer the
pole, has, according to Mackenzie, fifteen land-birds.  The
South Shetland Islands, in the same latitude as the southern
half of Norway, possess only some lichens, moss, and a little
grass; and Lieut. Kendall [17] found the bay, in which he was
at anchor, beginning to freeze at a period corresponding with
our 8th of September.  The soil here consists of ice and
volcanic ashes interstratified; and at a little depth beneath
the surface it must remain perpetually congealed, for Lieut.
Kendall found the body of a foreign sailor which had long
been buried, with the flesh and all the features perfectly
preserved.  It is a singular fact, that on the two great
continents in the northern hemisphere (but not in the broken
land of Europe between them ), we have the zone of perpetually
frozen undersoil in a low latitude — namely, in 56 degs. in
North America at the depth of three feet, [18] and in 62 degs.
in Siberia at the depth of twelve to fifteen feet — as the
result of a directly opposite condition of things to those
of the southern hemisphere.  On the northern continents, the
winter is rendered excessively cold by the radiation from a
large area of land into a clear sky, nor is it moderated by
the warmth-bringing currents of the sea; the short summer,
on the other hand, is hot.  In the Southern Ocean the winter
is not so excessively cold, but the summer is far less hot,
for the clouded sky seldom allows the sun to warm the ocean,
itself a bad absorbent of heat: and hence the mean temperature
of the year, which regulates the zone of perpetually congealed
under-soil, is low.  It is evident that a rank vegetation,
which does not so much require heat as it does protection
from intense cold, would approach much nearer to this zone
of perpetual congelation under the equable climate of the
southern hemisphere, than under the extreme climate of the
northern continents.

The case of the sailor's body perfectly preserved in the icy
soil of the South Shetland Islands (lat. 62 to 63 degs. S.), in a
rather lower latitude than that (lat. 64 degs. N.) under which
Pallas found the frozen rhinoceros in Siberia, is very
interesting.  Although it is a fallacy, as I have endeavoured to
show in a former chapter, to suppose that the larger quadrupeds
require a luxuriant vegetation for their support, nevertheless
it is important to find in the South Shetland Islands
a frozen under-soil within 360 miles of the forest-clad islands
near Cape Horn, where, as far as the bulk of vegetation is
concerned, any number of great quadrupeds might be supported.
The perfect preservation of the carcasses of the
Siberian elephants and rhinoceroses is certainly one of the
most wonderful facts in geology; but independently of the
imagined difficulty of supplying them with food from the
adjoining countries, the whole case is not, I think, so
perplexing as it has generally been considered.  The plains of
Siberia, like those of the Pampas, appear to have been formed
under the sea, into which rivers brought down the bodies
of many animals; of the greater number of these, only the
skeletons have been preserved, but of others the perfect
carcass.  Now, it is known that in the shallow sea on the Arctic
coast of America the bottom freezes, [19] and does not thaw in
spring so soon as the surface of the land, moreover at
greater depths, where the bottom of the sea does not freeze
the mud a few feet beneath the top layer might remain even
in summer below 32 degs., as in the case on the land with the
soil at the depth of a few feet.  At still greater depths, the
temperature of the mud and water would probably not be low
enough to preserve the flesh; and hence, carcasses drifted
beyond the shallow parts near an Arctic coast, would have
only their skeletons preserved: now in the extreme northern
parts of Siberia bones are infinitely numerous, so that even
islets are said to be almost composed of them; [20] and those
islets lie no less than ten degrees of latitude north of the
place where Pallas found the frozen rhinoceros.  On the other
hand, a carcass washed by a flood into a shallow part of the
Arctic Sea, would be preserved for an indefinite period, if it
were soon afterwards covered with mud sufficiently thick to
prevent the heat of the summer-water penetrating to it; and
if, when the sea-bottom was upraised into land, the covering
was sufficiently thick to prevent the heat of the summer air
and sun thawing and corrupting it.

Recapitulation. — I will recapitulate the principal facts with
regard to the climate, ice-action, and organic productions of
the southern hemisphere, transposing the places in imagination
to Europe, with which we are so much better acquainted.
Then, near Lisbon, the commonest sea-shells, namely, three
species of Oliva, a Voluta, and a Terebra, would have a
tropical character.  In the southern provinces of France,
magnificent forests, intwined by arborescent grasses and with
the trees loaded with parasitical plants, would hide the face
of the land.  The puma and the jaguar would haunt the
Pyrenees.  In the latitude of Mont Blanc, but on an island as
far westward as Central North America, tree-ferns and
parasitical Orchideae would thrive amidst the thick woods.
Even as far north as central Denmark, humming-birds would be
seen fluttering about delicate flowers, and parrots feeding
amidst the evergreen woods; and in the sea there, we should
have a Voluta, and all the shells of large size and vigorous
growth.  Nevertheless, on some islands only 360 miles northward
of our new Cape Horn in Denmark, a carcass buried
in the soil (or if washed into a shallow sea, and covered up
with mud) would be preserved perpetually frozen.  If some
bold navigator attempted to penetrate northward of these
islands, he would run a thousand dangers amidst gigantic
icebergs, on some of which he would see great blocks of rock
borne far away from their original site.  Another island of
large size in the latitude of southern Scotland, but twice as
far to the west, would be "almost wholly covered with
everlasting snow," and would have each bay terminated by
ice-cliffs, whence great masses would be yearly detached: this
island would boast only of a little moss, grass, and burnet,
and a titlark would be its only land inhabitant.  From our
new Cape Horn in Denmark, a chain of mountains, scarcely
half the height of the Alps, would run in a straight line due
southward; and on its western flank every deep creek of the
sea, or fiord, would end in "bold and astonishing glaciers."
These lonely channels would frequently reverberate with the
falls of ice, and so often would great waves rush along their
coasts; numerous icebergs, some as tall as cathedrals, and
occasionally loaded with "no inconsiderable blocks of rock,"
would be stranded on the outlying islets; at intervals violent
earthquakes would shoot prodigious masses of ice into the
waters below.  Lastly, some missionaries attempting to penetrate
a long arm of the sea, would behold the not lofty surrounding
mountains, sending down their many grand icy streams
to the sea-coast, and their progress in the boats would
be checked by the innumerable floating icebergs, some small
and some great; and this would have occurred on our twenty-
second of June, and where the Lake of Geneva is now spread
out! [21]

[1] The south-westerly breezes are generally very dry.
January 29th, being at anchor under Cape Gregory: a very
hard gale from W. by S., clear sky with few cumuli;
temperature 57 degs., dew-point 36 degs., — difference
21 degs. On January 15th, at Port St. Julian: in the
morning, light winds with much rain, followed by a very
heavy squall with rain, — settled into heavy gale with
large cumuli, — cleared up, blowing very strong from S.S.W.
Temperature 60 degs., dew-point 42 degs., — difference
18 degs.

[2] Rengger, Natur. der Saeugethiere von Paraguay. S. 334.

[3] Captain Fitz Roy informs me that in April (our October),
the leaves of those trees which grow near the base of the
mountains change colour, but not those on the more elevated
parts.  I remember having read some observations, showing
that in England the leaves fall earlier in a warm and fine
autumn than in a late and cold one, The change in the colour
being here retarded in the more elevated, and therefore colder
situations, must he owing to the same general law of vegetation.
The trees of Tierra del Fuego during no part of the year
entirely shed their leaves.

[4] Described from my specimens and notes by the Rev. J. M.
Berkeley, in the Linnean Transactions (vol. xix. p. 37), under
the name of Cyttaria Darwinii; the Chilean species is the
C. Berteroii.  This genus is allied to Bulgaria.

[5] I believe I must except one alpine Haltica, and a single
specimen of a Melasoma.  Mr. Waterhouse informs me, that of
the Harpalidae there are eight or nine species — the forms
of the greater number being very peculiar; of Heteromera,
four or five species; of Rhyncophora, six or seven; and of
the following families one species in each: Staphylinidae,
Elateridae, Cebrionidae, Melolonthidae.  The species in the
other orders are even fewer.  In all the orders, the scarcity
of the individuals is even more remarkable than that of the
species.  Most of the Coleoptera have been carefully described
by Mr. Waterhouse in the Annals of Nat. Hist.

[6] Its geographical range is remarkably wide; it is found
from the extreme southern islets near Cape Horn, as far
north on the eastern coast (according to information given
me by Mr. Stokes) as lat. 43 degs., — but on the western
coast, as Dr. Hooker tells me, it extends to the R. San
Francisco in California, and perhaps even to Kamtschatka.
We thus have an immense range in latitude; and as Cook,
who must have been well acquainted with the species, found
it at Kerguelen Land, no less than 140 degs. in longitude.

[7] Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle, vol. i. p. 363. — It
appears that sea-weed grows extremely quick. — Mr. Stephenson
found (Wilson's Voyage round Scotland, vol. ii. p. 228) that
a rock uncovered only at spring-tides, which had been chiselled
smooth in November, on the following May, that is, within
six months afterwards, was thickly covered with Fucus digitatus
two feet, and F. esculentus six feet, in length.

[8] With regard to Tierra del Fuego, the results are deduced
from the observations of Capt. King (Geographical Journal,
1830), and those taken on board the Beagle.  For the Falkland
Islands, I am indebted to Capt. Sulivan for the mean of the
mean temperature (reduced from careful observations at
midnight, 8 A.M., noon, and 8 P.M.) of the three hottest
months, viz., December, January, and February.  The temperature
of Dublin is taken from Barton.

[9] Agueros, Descrip. Hist. de la Prov. de Chiloe, 1791, p. 94.

[10] See the German Translation of this Journal; and for the
other facts, Mr. Brown's Appendix to Flinders's Voyage.


[11] On the Cordillera of central Chile, I believe the
snow-line varies exceedingly in height in different summers.
I was assured that during one very dry and long summer, all
the snow disappeared from Aconcagua, although it attains the
prodigious height of 23,000 feet.  It is probable that much
of the snow at these great heights is evaporated rather than
thawed.

[12] Miers's Chile, vol. i. p. 415. It is said that the
sugar-cane grew at Ingenio, lat. 32 to 33 degs., but not in
sufficient quantity to make the manufacture profitable.  In
the valley of Quillota, south of Ingenio, I saw some large
date palm trees.

[13] Bulkeley's and Cummin's Faithful Narrative of the Loss
of the Wager.  The earthquake happened August 25, 1741.

[14] Agueros, Desc. Hist. de Chiloe, p. 227.

[15] Geological Transactions, vol. vi. p. 415.

[16] I have given details (the first, I believe, published) on
this subject in the first edition, and in the Appendix to it.
I have there shown that the apparent exceptions to the absence
of erratic boulders in certain countries, are due to erroneous
observations; several statements there given I have since
found confirmed by various authors.

[17] Geographical Journal, 1830, pp. 65, 66.

[18] Richardson's Append. to Back's Exped., and Humboldt's
Fragm. Asiat., tom. ii. p. 386.

[19] Messrs. Dease and Simpson, in Geograph. Journ., vol.
viii. pp. 218 and 220.

[20] Cuvier (Ossemens Fossiles, tom. i. p. 151), from Billing's
Voyage.

[21] In the former edition and Appendix, I have given some
facts on the transportal of erratic boulders and icebergs
in the Atlantic Ocean.  This subject has lately been treated
excellently by Mr. Hayes, in the Boston Journal (vol. iv.
p. 426).  The author does not appear aware of a case published
by me (Geographical Journal, vol. ix. p. 528) of a gigantic
boulder embedded in an iceberg in the Antarctic Ocean, almost
certainly one hundred miles distant from any land, and
perhaps much more distant.  In the Appendix I have discussed
at length the probability (at that time hardly thought of)
of icebergs, when stranded, grooving and polishing rocks,
like glaciers.  This is now a very commonly received opinion;
and I cannot still avoid the suspicion that it is applicable
even to such cases as that of the Jura.  Dr. Richardson has
assured me that the icebergs off North America push before
them pebbles and sand, and leave the sub-marine rocky flats
quite bare; it is hardly possible to doubt that such ledges
must be polished and scored in the direction of the set of
the prevailing currents.  Since writing that Appendix, I have
seen in North Wales (London Phil. Mag., vol. xxi. p. 180)
the adjoining action of glaciers and floating icebergs.



CHAPTER XII

CENTRAL CHILE

Valparaiso — Excursion to the Foot of the Andes  —  Structure
of the Land — Ascend the Bell of Quillota — Shattered
Masses of Greenstone — Immense Valleys — Mines — State of
Miners — Santiago —  Hot-baths of Cauquenes  — Gold-mines —
Grinding-mills — Perforated Stones — Habits of the Puma — El
Turco and Tapacolo — Hummingbirds.


JULY 23rd. — The Beagle anchored late at night in the
bay of Valparaiso, the chief seaport of Chile.  When
morning came, everything appeared delightful.  After
Tierra del Fuego, the climate felt quite delicious — the
atmosphere so dry, and the heavens so clear and blue with the
sun shining brightly, that all nature seemed sparkling with
life.  The view from the anchorage is very pretty.  The town is
built at the very foot of a range of hills, about 1600 feet
high, and rather steep.  From its position, it consists of one
long, straggling street, which runs parallel to the beach,
and wherever a ravine comes down, the houses are piled up on
each side of it.  The rounded hills, being only partially
protected by a very scanty vegetation, are worn into numberless
little gullies, which expose a singularly bright red soil.  From
this cause, and from the low whitewashed houses with tile roofs,
the view reminded me of St. Cruz in Teneriffe.  In a north-
westerly direction there are some fine glimpses of the Andes:
but these mountains appear much grander when viewed from
the neighbouring hills: the great distance at which they are
situated can then more readily be perceived.  The volcano of
Aconcagua is particularly magnificent.  This huge and irregularly
conical mass has an elevation greater than that of
Chimborazo; for, from measurements made by the officers in
the Beagle, its height is no less than 23,000 feet.  The
Cordillera, however, viewed from this point, owe the greater
part of their beauty to the atmosphere through which they are
seen.  When the sun was setting in the Pacific, it was
admirable to watch how clearly their rugged outlines could
be distinguished, yet how varied and how delicate were the
shades of their colour.

I had the good fortune to find living here Mr. Richard
Corfield, an old schoolfellow and friend, to whose hospitality
and kindness I was greatly indebted, in having afforded me
a most pleasant residence during the Beagle's stay in Chile.
The immediate neighbourhood of Valparaiso is not very productive
to the naturalist.  During the long summer the wind
blows steadily from the southward, and a little off shore, so
that rain never falls; during the three winter months, however,
it is sufficiently abundant.  The vegetation in consequence
is very scanty: except in some deep valleys, there are
no trees, and only a little grass and a few low bushes are
scattered over the less steep parts of the hills.  When we
reflect, that at the distance of 350 miles to the south, this
side of the Andes is completely hidden by one impenetrable
forest, the contrast is very remarkable.  I took several long
walks while collecting objects of natural history.  The country
is pleasant for exercise.  There are many very beautiful flowers;
and, as in most other dry climates, the plants and shrubs
possess strong and peculiar odours — even one's clothes by
brushing through them became scented.  I did not cease from
wonder at finding each succeeding day as fine as the foregoing.
What a difference does climate make in the enjoyment
of life!  How opposite are the sensations when viewing
black mountains half enveloped in clouds, and seeing
another range through the light blue haze of a fine day!  The
one for a time may be very sublime; the other is all gaiety
and happy life.

August 14th. — I  set out on a riding excursion, for the
purpose of geologizing the basal parts of the Andes, which
alone at this time of the year are not shut up by the winter
snow.  Our first day's ride was northward along the seacoast.
After dark we reached the Hacienda of Quintero,
the estate which formerly belonged to Lord Cochrane.  My
object in coming here was to see the great beds of shells,
which stand some yards above the level of the sea, and are
burnt for lime.  The proofs of the elevation of this whole
line of coast are unequivocal: at the height of a few hundred
feet old-looking shells are numerous, and I found some
at 1300 feet.  These shells either lie loose on the surface, or
are embedded in a reddish-black vegetable mould.  I was
much surprised to find under the microscope that this vegetable
mould is really marine mud, full of minute particles of
organic bodies.

15th. — We returned towards the valley of Quillota.  The
country was exceedingly pleasant; just such as poets would
call pastoral: green open lawns, separated by small valleys
with rivulets, and the cottages, we may suppose of the shepherds
scattered on the hill-sides.  We were obliged to cross
the ridge of the Chilicauquen.  At its base there were many
fine evergreen forest-trees, but these flourished only in the
ravines, where there was running water.  Any person who
had seen only the country near Valparaiso, would never have
imagined that there had been such picturesque spots in Chile.
As soon as we reached the brow of the Sierra, the valley of
Quillota was immediately under our feet.  The prospect was
one of remarkable artificial luxuriance.  The valley is very
broad and quite flat, and is thus easily irrigated in all parts.
The little square gardens are crowded with orange and olive
trees, and every sort of vegetable.  On each side huge bare
mountains rise, and this from the contrast renders the patchwork
valley the more pleasing.  Whoever called "Valparaiso"
the "Valley of Paradise," must have been thinking
of Quillota.  We crossed over to the Hacienda de San Isidro,
situated at the very foot of the Bell Mountain.

Chile, as may be seen in the maps, is a narrow strip of
land between the Cordillera and the Pacific; and this strip
is itself traversed by several mountain-lines, which in this
part run parallel to the great range.  Between these outer
lines and the main Cordillera, a succession of level basins,
generally opening into each other by narrow passages, extend
far to the southward: in these, the principal towns are
situated, as San Felipe, Santiago, San Fernando.  These basins
or plains, together with the transverse flat valleys (like that
of Quillota) which connect them with the coast, I have no
doubt are the bottoms of ancient inlets and deep bays, such
as at the present day intersect every part of Tierra del Fuego
and the western coast.  Chile must formerly have resembled
the latter country in the configuration of its land and water.
The resemblance was occasionally shown strikingly when a
level fog-bank covered, as with a mantle, all the lower parts
of the country: the white vapour curling into the ravines,
beautifully represented little coves and bays; and here and
there a solitary hillock peeping up, showed that it had formerly
stood there as an islet.  The contrast of these flat
valleys and basins with the irregular mountains, gave the
scenery a character which to me was new and very interesting.

From the natural slope to seaward of these plains, they
are very easily irrigated, and in consequence singularly
fertile.  Without this process the land would produce scarcely
anything, for during the whole summer the sky is cloudless.
The mountains and hills are dotted over with bushes and
low trees, and excepting these the vegetation is very scanty.
Each landowner in the valley possesses a certain portion of
hill-country, where his half-wild cattle, in considerable
numbers, manage to find sufficient pasture.  Once every year
there is a grand "rodeo," when all the cattle are driven down,
counted, and marked, and a certain number separated to be
fattened in the irrigated fields.  Wheat is extensively
cultivated, and a good deal of Indian corn: a kind of bean is,
however, the staple article of food for the common labourers.
The orchards produce an overflowing abundance of peaches
figs, and grapes.  With all these advantages, the inhabitants
of the country ought to be much more prosperous than they
are.

16th. — The mayor-domo of the Hacienda was good enough
to give me a guide and fresh horses; and in the morning we
set out to ascend the Campana, or Bell Mountain, which is
6400 feet high.  The paths were very bad, but both the
geology and scenery amply repaid the trouble.  We reached
by the evening, a spring called the Agua del Guanaco, which
is situated at a great height.  This must be an old name,
for it is very many years since a guanaco drank its waters.
During the ascent I noticed that nothing but bushes grew
on the northern slope, whilst on the southern slope there was
a bamboo about fifteen feet high.  In a few places there were
palms, and I was surprised to see one at an elevation of at
least 4500 feet.  These palms are, for their family, ugly trees.
Their stem is very large, and of a curious form, being thicker
in the middle than at the base or top.  They are excessively
numerous in some parts of Chile, and valuable on account of
a sort of treacle made from the sap.  On one estate near
Petorca they tried to count them, but failed, after having
numbered several hundred thousand.  Every year in the early
spring, in August, very many are cut down, and when the
trunk is lying on the ground, the crown of leaves is lopped
off.  The sap then immediately begins to flow from the upper
end, and continues so doing for some months: it is, however,
necessary that a thin slice should be shaved off from
that end every morning, so as to expose a fresh surface.  A
good tree will give ninety gallons, and all this must have
been contained in the vessels of the apparently dry trunk.
It is said that the sap flows much more quickly on those
days when the sun is powerful; and likewise, that it is
absolutely necessary to take care, in cutting down the tree,
that it should fall with its head upwards on the side of the
hill; for if it falls down the slope, scarcely any sap will
flow; although in that case one would have thought that the
action would have been aided, instead of checked, by the force
of gravity.  The sap is concentrated by boiling, and is then
called treacle, which it very much resembles in taste.

We unsaddled our horses near the spring, and prepared to
pass the night.  The evening was fine, and the atmosphere so
clear, that the masts of the vessels at anchor in the bay of
Valparaiso, although no less than twenty-six geographical
miles distant, could be distinguished clearly as little black
streaks.  A ship doubling the point under sail, appeared as
a bright white speck.  Anson expresses much surprise, in his
voyage, at the distance at which his vessels were discovered
from the coast; but he did not sufficiently allow for the height
of the land, and the great transparency of the air.

The setting of the sun was glorious; the valleys being
black whilst the snowy peaks of the Andes yet retained a
ruby tint.  When it was dark, we made a fire beneath a little
arbour of bamboos, fried our charqui (or dried slips of beef),
took our mate, and were quite comfortable.  There is an
inexpressible charm in thus living in the open air.  The evening
was calm and still; — the shrill noise of the mountain
bizcacha, and the faint cry of a goatsucker, were occasionally
to be heard.  Besides these, few birds, or even
insects, frequent these dry, parched mountains.

August 17th. — In the morning we climbed up the rough
mass of greenstone which crowns the summit.  This rock, as
frequently happens, was much shattered and broken into
huge angular fragments.  I observed, however, one remarkable
circumstance, namely, that many of the surfaces presented
every degree of freshness some appearing as if
broken the day before, whilst on others lichens had either
just become, or had long grown, attached.  I so fully believed
that this was owing to the frequent earthquakes, that I felt
inclined to hurry from below each loose pile.  As one might
very easily be deceived in a fact of this kind, I doubted its
accuracy, until ascending Mount Wellington, in Van Diemen's
Land, where earthquakes do not occur; and there I saw
the summit of the mountain similarly composed and similarly
shattered, but all the blocks appeared as if they had been
hurled into their present position thousands of years ago.

We spent the day on the summit, and I never enjoyed one
more thoroughly.  Chile, bounded by the Andes and the
Pacific, was seen as in a map.  The pleasure from the scenery,
in itself beautiful, was heightened by the many reflections
which arose from the mere view of the Campana range with
its lesser parallel ones, and of the broad valley of Quillota
directly intersecting them.  Who can avoid wondering at the
force which has upheaved these mountains, and even more
so at the countless ages which it must have required to have
broken through, removed, and levelled whole masses of them?
It is well in this case to call to mind the vast shingle and
sedimentary beds of Patagonia, which, if heaped on the
Cordillera, would increase its height by so many thousand feet.
When in that country, I wondered how any mountain-chain
could have supplied such masses, and not have been utterly
obliterated.  We must not now reverse the wonder, and doubt
whether all-powerful time can grind down mountains — even
the gigantic Cordillera — into-gravel and mud.

The appearance of the Andes was different from that
which I had expected.  The lower line of the snow was of
course horizontal, and to this line the even summits of the
range seemed quite parallel.  Only at long intervals, a group
of points or a single cone showed where a volcano had
existed, or does now exist.  Hence the range resembled a
great solid wall, surmounted here and there by a tower, and
making a most perfect barrier to the country.

Almost every part of the hill had been drilled by attempts
to open gold-mines: the rage for mining has left scarcely
a spot in Chile unexamined.  I spent the evening as before,
talking round the fire with my two companions.  The Guasos
of Chile, who correspond to the Gauchos of the Pampas, are,
however, a very different set of beings.  Chile is the more
civilized of the two countries, and the inhabitants, in
consequence, have lost much individual character.  Gradations
in rank are much more strongly marked: the Guaso does not
by any means consider every man his equal; and I was quite
surprised to find that my companions did not like to eat at
the same time with myself.  This feeling of inequality is a
necessary consequence of the existence of an aristocracy of
wealth.  It is said that some few of the greater landowners
possess from five to ten thousand pounds sterling per annum:
an inequality of riches which I believe is not met with in
any of the cattle-breeding countries eastward of the Andes.
A traveller does not here meet that unbounded hospitality
which refuses all payment, but yet is so kindly offered that
no scruples can be raised in accepting it.  Almost every house
in Chile will receive you for the night, but a trifle is
expected to be given in the morning; even a rich man will
accept two or three shillings.  The Gaucho, although he may be
a cutthroat, is a gentleman; the Guaso is in few respects
better, but at the same time a vulgar, ordinary fellow.  The
two men, although employed much in the same manner, are
different in their habits and attire; and the peculiarities
of each are universal in their respective countries.  The Gaucho
seems part of his horse, and scorns to exert himself except when
on his back: the Guaso may be hired to work as a labourer in
the fields.  The former lives entirely on animal food; the latter
almost wholly on vegetable.  We do not here see the white
boots, the broad drawers and scarlet chilipa; the picturesque
costume of the Pampas.  Here, common trousers are protected
by black and green worsted leggings.  The poncho,
however, is common to both.  The chief pride of the Guaso
lies in his spurs, which are absurdly large.  I measured one
which was six inches in the diameter  of the rowel, and the
rowel itself contained upwards of thirty points.  The stirrups
are on the same scale, each consisting of a square, carved
block of wood, hollowed out, yet weighing three or four
pounds.  The Guaso is perhaps more expert with the lazo
than the Gaucho; but, from the nature of the country, he
does not know the use of the bolas.

August 18th. — We descended the mountain, and passed
some beautiful little spots, with rivulets and fine trees.
Having slept at the same hacienda as before, we rode during the
two succeeding days up the valley, and passed through Quillota,
which is more like a collection of nursery-gardens than
a town.  The orchards were beautiful, presenting one mass
of peach-blossoms.  I saw, also, in one or two places the
date-palm; it is a most stately tree; and I should think a
group of them in their native Asiatic or African deserts must
be superb.  We passed likewise San Felipe, a pretty straggling
town like Quillota.  The valley in this part expands into
one of those great bays or plains, reaching to the foot of the
Cordillera, which have been mentioned as forming so curious
a part of the scenery of Chile.  In the evening we reached
the mines of Jajuel, situated in a ravine at the flank of the
great chain.  I stayed here five days.  My host the superintendent
of the mine, was a shrewd but rather ignorant Cornish
miner.  He had married a Spanish woman, and did not
mean to return home; but his admiration for the mines of
Cornwall remained unbounded.  Amongst many other questions,
he asked me, "Now that George Rex is dead, how
many more of the family of Rexes are yet alive?" This Rex
certainly must be a relation of the great author Finis, who
wrote all books!

These mines are of copper, and the ore is all shipped to
Swansea, to be smelted.  Hence the mines have an aspect
singularly quiet, as compared to those in England: here no
smoke, furnaces, or great steam-engines, disturb the solitude
of the surrounding mountains.

The Chilian government, or rather the old Spanish law,
encourages by every method the searching for mines.  The
discoverer may work a mine on any ground, by paying five
shillings; and before paying this he may try, even in the
garden of another man, for twenty days.

It is now well known that the Chilian method of mining
is the cheapest.  My host says that the two principal
improvements introduced by foreigners have been, first,
reducing by previous roasting the copper pyrites — which,
being the common ore in Cornwall, the English miners were
astounded on their arrival to find thrown away as useless:
secondly, stamping and washing the scoriae from the old
furnaces — by which process particles of metal are recovered
in abundance.  I have actually seen mules carrying to the
coast, for transportation to England, a cargo of such cinders.
But the first case is much the most curious.  The Chilian
miners were so convinced that copper pyrites contained not
a particle of copper, that they laughed at the Englishmen
for their ignorance, who laughed in turn, and bought their
richest veins for a few dollars.  It is very odd that, in a
country where mining had been extensively carried on for many
years, so simple a process as gently roasting the ore to expel
the sulphur previous to smelting it, had never been discovered.
A few improvements have likewise been introduced in some of the
simple machinery; but even to the present day, water is
removed from some mines by men carrying it up the shaft in
leathern bags!

The labouring men work very hard.  They have little time
allowed for their meals, and during summer and winter they
begin when it is light, and leave off at dark.  They are paid
one pound sterling a month, and their food is given them:
this for breakfast consists of sixteen figs and two small loaves
of bread; for dinner, boiled beans; for supper, broken roasted
wheat grain.  They scarcely ever taste meat; as, with the
twelve pounds per annum, they have to clothe themselves, and
support their families.  The miners who work in the mine
itself have twenty-five shillings per month, and are allowed
a little charqui.  But these men come down from their bleak
habitations only once in every fortnight or three weeks.

During my stay here I thoroughly enjoyed scrambling
about these huge mountains.  The geology, as might have
been expected, was very interesting.  The shattered and
baked rocks, traversed by innumerable dykes of greenstone,
showed what commotions had formerly taken place.  The
scenery was much the same as that near the Bell of Quillota
— dry barren mountains, dotted at intervals by bushes
with a scanty foliage.  The cactuses, or rather opuntias
were here very numerous.  I measured one of a spherical
figure, which, including the spines, was six feet and four
inches in circumference.  The height of the common cylindrical,
branching kind, is from twelve to fifteen feet, and
the girth (with spines) of the branches between three and
four feet.

A heavy fall of snow on the mountains prevented me
during the last two days, from making some interesting
excursions.  I attempted to reach a lake which the inhabitants,
from some unaccountable reason, believe to be an arm
of the sea.  During a very dry season, it was proposed to
attempt cutting a channel from it for the sake of the water,
but the padre, after a consultation, declared it was too
dangerous, as all Chile would be inundated, if, as generally
supposed, the lake was connected with the Pacific.  We
ascended to a great height, but becoming involved in the
snow-drifts failed in reaching this wonderful lake, and had
some difficulty in returning.  I thought we should have lost
our horses; for there was no means of guessing how deep
the drifts were, and the animals, when led, could only move
by jumping.  The black sky showed that a fresh snowstorm
was gathering, and we therefore were not a little glad
when we escaped.  By the time we reached the base the
storm commenced, and it was lucky for us that this did not
happen three hours earlier in the day.

August 26th. — We left Jajuel and again crossed the basin
of San Felipe.  The day was truly Chilian: glaringly bright,
and the atmosphere quite clear.  The thick and uniform
covering of newly fallen snow rendered the view of the volcano
of Aconcagua and the main chain quite glorious.  We
were now on the road to Santiago, the capital of Chile.  We
crossed the Cerro del Talguen, and slept at a little rancho.
The host, talking about the state of Chile as compared to
other countries, was very humble: "Some see with two eyes,
and some with one, but for my part I do not think that Chile
sees with any."

August 27th. — After crossing many low hills we descended
into the small land-locked plain of Guitron.  In the basins,
such as this one, which are elevated from one thousand to
two thousand feet above the sea, two species of acacia, which
are stunted in their forms, and stand wide apart from each
other, grow in large numbers.  These trees are never found
near the sea-coast; and this gives another characteristic
feature to the scenery of these basins.  We crossed a low
ridge which separates Guitron from the great plain on which
Santiago stands.  The view was here pre-eminently striking:
the dead level surface, covered in parts by woods of acacia,
and with the city in the distance, abutting horizontally
against the base of the Andes, whose snowy peaks were
bright with the evening sun.  At the first glance of this
view, it was quite evident that the plain represented the
extent of a former inland sea.  As soon as we gained the
level road we pushed our horses into a gallop, and reached
the city before it was dark.

I stayed a week in Santiago, and enjoyed myself very
much.  In the morning I rode to various places on the plain,
and in the evening dined with several of the English merchants,
whose hospitality at this place is well known.  A
never-failing source of pleasure was to ascend the little
hillock of rock (St. Lucia) which projects in the middle of
the city.  The scenery certainly is most striking, and, as I
have said, very peculiar.  I am informed that this same
character is common to the cities on the great Mexican
platform.  Of the town I have nothing to say in detail: it is
not so fine or so large as Buenos Ayres, but is built after the
same model.  I arrived here by a circuit to the north; so I
resolved to return to Valparaiso by a rather longer excursion
to the south of the direct road.

September 5th. — By the middle of the day we arrived at
one of the suspension bridges, made of hide, which cross the
Maypu, a large turbulent river a few leagues southward of
Santiago.  These bridges are very poor affairs.  The road,
following the curvature of the suspending ropes, is made of
bundles of sticks placed close together.  It was full of holes,
and oscillated rather fearfully, even with the weight of a
man leading his horse.  In the evening we reached a comfortable
farm-house, where there were several very pretty
senoritas.  They were much horrified at my having entered
one of their churches out of mere curiosity.  They asked
me, "Why do you not become a Christian — for our religion
is certain?" I assured them I was a sort of Christian; but
they would not hear of it — appealing to my own words, "Do
not your padres, your very bishops, marry?" The absurdity
of a bishop having a wife particularly struck them: they
scarcely knew whether to be most amused or horror-struck
at such an enormity.

6th. — We proceeded due south, and slept at Rancagua.
The road passed over the level but narrow plain, bounded on
one side by lofty hills, and on the other by the Cordillera.
The next day we turned up the valley of the Rio Cachapual,
in which the hot-baths of Cauquenes, long celebrated for
their medicinal properties, are situated.  The suspension
bridges, in the less frequented parts, are generally taken down
during the winter when the rivers are low.  Such was the
case in this valley, and we were therefore obliged to cross
the stream on horseback.  This is rather disagreeable, for
the foaming water, though not deep, rushes so quickly over
the bed of large rounded stones, that one's head becomes
quite confused, and it is difficult even to perceive whether
the horse is moving onward or standing still.  In summer,
when the snow melts, the torrents are quite impassable; their
strength and fury are then extremely great, as might be
plainly seen by the marks which they had left.  We reached
the baths in the evening, and stayed there five days, being
confined the two last by heavy rain.  The buildings consist
of a square of miserable little hovels, each with a single table
and bench.  They are situated in a narrow deep valley just
without the central Cordillera.  It is a quiet, solitary spot,
with a good deal of wild beauty.

The mineral springs of Cauquenes burst forth on a line of
dislocation, crossing a mass of stratified rock, the whole
of which betrays the action of heat.  A considerable quantity
of gas is continually escaping from the same orifices with
the water.  Though the springs are only a few yards apart,
they have very different temperature; and this appears to be
the result of an unequal mixture of cold water: for those
with the lowest temperature have scarcely any mineral taste.
After the great earthquake of 1822 the springs ceased, and
the water did not return for nearly a year.  They were also
much affected by the earthquake of 1835; the temperature
being suddenly changed from 118 to 92 degs. [1] It seems probable
that mineral waters rising deep from the bowels of the earth,
would always be more deranged by subterranean disturbances
than those nearer the surface.  The man who had charge of
the baths assured me that in summer the water is hotter and
more plentiful than in winter.  The former circumstance I
should have expected, from the less mixture, during the dry
season, of cold water; but the latter statement appears very
strange and contradictory.  The periodical increase during
the summer, when rain never falls, can, I think, only be
accounted for by the melting of the snow: yet the mountains
which are covered by snow during that season, are three or
four leagues distant from the springs.  I have no reason to
doubt the accuracy of my informer, who, having lived on
the spot for several years, ought to be well acquainted with
the circumstance, — which, if true, certainly is very curious:
for we must suppose that the snow-water, being conducted
through porous strata to the regions of heat, is again thrown
up to the surface by the line of dislocated and injected rocks
at Cauquenes; and the regularity of the phenomenon would
seem to indicate that in this district heated rock occurred at
a depth not very great.

One day I rode up the valley to the farthest inhabited
spot.  Shortly above that point, the Cachapual divides into
two deep tremendous ravines, which penetrate directly into
the great range.  I scrambled up a peaked mountain, probably
more than six thousand feet high.  Here, as indeed
everywhere else, scenes of the highest interest presented
themselves.  It was by one of these ravines, that Pincheira
entered Chile and ravaged the neighbouring country.  This
is the same man whose attack on an estancia at the Rio Negro
I have described.  He was a renegade half-caste Spaniard,
who collected a great body of Indians together and established
himself by a stream in the Pampas, which place none
of the forces sent after him could ever discover.  From this
point he used to sally forth, and crossing the Cordillera by
passes hitherto unattempted, he ravaged the farm-houses
and drove the cattle to his secret rendezvous.  Pincheira was
a capital horseman, and he made all around him equally
good, for he invariably shot any one who hesitated to follow
him.  It was against this man, and other wandering Indian
tribes, that Rosas waged the war of extermination.

September 13th. — We left the baths of Cauquenes, and,
rejoining the main road, slept at the Rio Clara.  From this
place we rode to the town of San Fernando.  Before arriving
there, the last land-locked basin had expanded into a great
plain, which extended so far to the south, that the snowy
summits of the more distant Andes were seen as if above the
horizon of the sea.  San Fernando is forty leagues from Santiago;
and it was my farthest point southward; for we here
turned at right angles towards the coast.  We slept at the
gold-mines of Yaquil, which are worked by Mr. Nixon, an
American gentleman, to whose kindness I was much indebted
during the four days I stayed at his house.  The next
morning we rode to the mines, which are situated at the
distance of some leagues, near the summit of a lofty hill.  On
the way we had a glimpse of the lake Tagua-tagua, celebrated
for its floating islands, which have been described by
M. Gay. [2] They are composed of the stalks of various dead
plants intertwined together, and on the surface of which
other living ones take root.  Their form is generally circular,
and their thickness from four to six feet, of which the
greater part is immersed in the water.  As the wind blows,
they pass from one side of the lake to the other, and often
carry cattle and horses as passengers.

When we arrived at the mine, I was struck by the pale
appearance of many of the men, and inquired from Mr.
Nixon respecting their condition.  The mine is 450 feet deep,
and each man brings up about 200 pounds weight of stone.
With this load they have to climb up the alternate notches cut
in the trunks of trees, placed in a zigzag line up the shaft.
Even beardless young men, eighteen and twenty years old,
with little muscular development of their bodies (they are
quite naked excepting drawers) ascend with this great load
from nearly the same depth.  A strong man, who is not
accustomed to this labour, perspires most profusely, with
merely carrying up his own body.  With this very severe
labour, they live entirely on boiled beans and bread.  They
would prefer having bread alone; but their masters, finding
that they cannot work so hard upon this, treat them like
horses, and make them eat the beans.  Their pay is here
rather more than at the mines of Jajuel, being from 24 to 28
shillings per month.  They leave the mine only once in three
weeks; when they stay with their families for two days.  One
of the rules of this mine sounds very harsh, but answers
pretty well for the master.  The only method of stealing gold
is to secrete pieces of the ore, and take them out as occasion
may offer.  Whenever the major-domo finds a lump thus
hidden, its full value is stopped out of the wages of all the
men; who thus, without they all combine, are obliged to keep
watch over each other.

When the ore is brought to the mill, it is ground into an
impalpable powder; the process of washing removes all the
lighter particles, and amalgamation finally secures the
gold-dust.  The washing, when described, sounds a very simple
process; but it is beautiful to see how the exact adaptation of
the current of water to the specific gravity of the gold, so
easily separates the powdered matrix from the metal.  The
mud which passes from the mills is collected into pools, where
it subsides, and every now and then is cleared out, and thrown
into a common heap.  A great deal of chemical action then
commences, salts of various kinds effloresce on the surface,
and the mass becomes hard.  After having been left for a year
or two, and then rewashed, it yields gold; and this process
may be repeated even six or seven times; but the gold each
time becomes less in quantity, and the intervals required (as
the inhabitants say, to generate the metal) are longer.  There
can be no doubt that the chemical action, already mentioned,
each time liberates fresh gold from some combination.  The
discovery of a method to effect this before the first grinding
would without doubt raise the value of gold-ores many fold.

It is curious to find how the minute particles of gold, being
scattered about and not corroding, at last accumulate in
some quantity.  A short time since a few miners, being out of
work, obtained permission to scrape the ground round the
house and mills; they washed the earth thus got together, and
so procured thirty dollars' worth of gold.  This is an exact
counterpart of what takes place in nature.  Mountains suffer
degradation and wear away, and with them the metallic veins
which they contain.  The hardest rock is worn into impalpable
mud, the ordinary metals oxidate, and both are removed;
but gold, platina, and a few others are nearly indestructible,
and from their weight, sinking to the bottom, are left behind.
After whole mountains have passed through this grinding
mill, and have been washed by the hand of nature, the residue
becomes metalliferous, and man finds it worth his while to
complete the task of separation.

Bad as the above treatment of the miners appears, it is
gladly accepted of by them; for the condition of the labouring
agriculturists is much worse.  Their wages are lower, and
they live almost exclusively on beans.  This poverty must be
chiefly owing to the feudal-like system on which the land is
tilled: the landowner gives a small plot of ground to the
labourer for building on and cultivating, and in return has
his services (or those of a proxy) for every day of his life,
without any wages.  Until a father has a grown-up son, who
can by his labour pay the rent, there is no one, except on
occasional days, to take care of his own patch of ground.
Hence extreme poverty is very common among the labouring
classes in this country.

There are some old Indian ruins in this neighbourhood,
and I was shown one of the perforated stones, which Molina
mentions as being found in many places in considerable
numbers.  They are of a circular flattened form, from five to
six inches in diameter, with a hole passing quite through the
centre.  It has generally been supposed that they were used
as heads to clubs, although their form does not appear at all
well adapted for that purpose.  Burchell [3] states that some
of the tribes in Southern Africa dig up roots by the aid of a
stick pointed at one end, the force and weight of which are
increased by a round stone with a hole in it, into which the
other end is firmly wedged.  It appears probable that the
Indians of Chile formerly used some such rude agricultural
instrument.

One day, a German collector in natural history, of the
name of Renous, called, and nearly at the same time an old
Spanish lawyer.  I was amused at being told the conversation
which took place between them.  Renous speaks Spanish so
well, that the old lawyer mistook him for a Chilian.  Renous
alluding to me, asked him what he thought of the King of
England sending out a collector to their country, to pick up
lizards and beetles, and to break stones?  The old gentleman
thought seriously for some time, and then said, "It is not
well, — hay un gato encerrado aqui (there is a cat shut up
here).  No man is so rich as to send out people to pick up
such rubbish.  I do not like it: if one of us were to go and
do such things in England, do not you think the King of
England would very soon send us out of his country?" And
this old gentleman, from his profession, belongs to the better
informed and more intelligent classes!  Renous himself, two
or three years before, left in a house at San Fernando some
caterpillars, under charge of a girl to feed, that they might
turn into butterflies.  This was rumoured through the town,
and at last the padres and governor consulted together, and
agreed it must be some heresy.  Accordingly, when Renous
returned, he was arrested.

September 19th. — We left Yaquil, and followed the flat
valley, formed like that of Quillota, in which the Rio
Tinderidica flows.  Even at these few miles south of Santiago
the climate is much damper; in consequence there are fine
tracts of pasturage, which are not irrigated. (20th.) We l
followed this valley till it expanded into a great plain, which
reaches from the sea to the mountains west of Rancagua.
We shortly lost all trees and even bushes; so that the
inhabitants are nearly as badly off for firewood as those in
the Pampas.  Never having heard of these plains, I was much
surprised at meeting with such scenery in Chile.  The plains
belong to more than one series of different elevations, and
they are traversed by broad flat-bottomed valleys; both of
which circumstances, as in Patagonia, bespeak the action of
the sea on gently rising land.  In the steep cliffs bordering
these valleys, there are some large caves, which no doubt
were originally formed by the waves: one of these is celebrated
under the name of Cueva del Obispo; having formerly
been consecrated.  During the day I felt very unwell, and
from that time till the end of October did not recover.

September 22nd. — We continued to pass over green plains
without a tree.  The next day we arrived at a house near
Navedad, on the sea-coast, where a rich Haciendero gave us
lodgings.  I stayed here the two ensuing days, and although
very unwell, managed to collect from the tertiary formation
some marine shells.

24th. — Our course was now directed towards Valparaiso,
which with great difficulty I reached on the 27th, and was there
confined to my bed till the end of October.  During this time
I was an inmate in Mr. Corfield's house, whose kindness to
me I do not know how to express.


I will here add a few observations on some of the animals
and birds of Chile.  The Puma, or South American Lion, is
not uncommon.  This animal has a wide geographical range;
being found from the equatorial forests, throughout the
deserts of Patagonia as far south as the damp and cold
latitudes (53 to 54 degs.) of Tierra del Fuego.  I have seen its
footsteps in the Cordillera of central Chile, at an elevation of
at least 10,000 feet.  In La Plata the puma preys chiefly on
deer, ostriches, bizcacha, and other small quadrupeds; it there
seldom attacks cattle or horses, and most rarely man.  In
Chile, however, it destroys many young horses and cattle,
owing probably to the scarcity of other quadrupeds: I heard,
likewise, of two men and a woman who had been thus killed.
It is asserted that the puma always kills its prey by springing
on the shoulders, and then drawing back the head with one
of its paws, until the vertebrae break: I have seen in Patagonia
the skeletons of guanacos, with their necks thus
dislocated.

The puma, after eating its fill, covers the carcass with
many large bushes, and lies down to watch it.  This habit is
often the cause of its being discovered; for the condors
wheeling in the air every now and then descend to partake
of the feast, and being angrily driven away, rise all together
on the wing.  The Chileno Guaso then knows there is a lion
watching his prey — the word is given — and men and dogs
hurry to the chase.  Sir F. Head says that a Gaucho in the
pampas, upon merely seeing some condors wheeling in the
air, cried "A lion!" I could never myself meet with any one
who pretended to such powers of discrimination.  It is asserted
that, if a puma has once been betrayed by thus watching
the carcass, and has then been hunted, it never resumes
this habit; but that, having gorged itself, it wanders far away.
The puma is easily killed.  In an open country, it is first
entangled with the bolas, then lazoed, and dragged along the
ground till rendered insensible.  At Tandeel (south of the
plata), I was told that within three months one hundred
were thus destroyed.  In Chile they are generally driven up
bushes or trees, and are then either shot, or baited to death
by dogs.  The dogs employed in this chase belong to a particular
breed, called Leoneros: they are weak, slight animals,
like long-legged terriers, but are born with a particular
instinct for this sport.  The puma is described as being very
crafty: when pursued, it often returns on its former track,
and then suddenly making a spring on one side, waits there
till the dogs have passed by.  It is a very silent animal,
uttering no cry even when wounded, and only rarely during
the breeding season.

Of birds, two species of the genus Pteroptochos (megapodius
and albicollis of Kittlitz) are perhaps the most conspicuous.
The former, called by the Chilenos "el Turco,"
is as large as a fieldfare, to which bird it has some alliance;
but its legs are much longer, tail shorter, and beak stronger:
its colour is a reddish brown.  The Turco is not uncommon.
It lives on the ground, sheltered among the thickets which are
scattered over the dry and sterile hills.  With its tail erect,
and stilt-like legs, it may be seen every now and then popping
from one bush to another with uncommon quickness.
It really requires little imagination to believe that the bird
is ashamed of itself, and is aware of its most ridiculous
figure.  On first seeing it, one is tempted to exclaim, "A
vilely stuffed specimen has escaped from some museum, and has
come to life again!" It cannot be made to take flight without
the greatest trouble, nor does it run, but only hops.  The
various loud cries which it utters when concealed amongst the
bushes, are as strange as its appearance.  It is said to build
its nest in a deep hole beneath the ground.  I dissected several
specimens: the gizzard, which was very muscular, contained
beetles, vegetable fibres, and pebbles.  From this character,
from the length of its legs, scratching feet, membranous
covering to the nostrils, short and arched wings, this bird
seems in a certain degree to connect the thrushes with the
gallinaceous order.

The second species (or P. albicollis) is allied to the first
in its general form.  It is called Tapacolo, or "cover your
posterior;" and well does the shameless little bird deserve its
name; for it carries its tail more than erect, that is, inclined
backwards towards its head.  It is very common, and frequents
the bottoms of hedge-rows, and the bushes scattered
over the barren hills, where scarcely another bird can exist.
In its general manner of feeding, of quickly hopping out of
the thickets and back again, in its desire of concealment,
unwillingness to take flight, and nidification, it bears a close
resemblance to the Turco; but its appearance is not quite so
ridiculous.  The Tapacolo is very crafty: when frightened by
any person, it will remain motionless at the bottom of a bush,
and will then, after a little while, try with much address to
crawl away on the opposite side.  It is also an active bird, and
continually making a noise: these noises are various and
strangely odd; some are like the cooing of doves, others like
the bubbling of water, and many defy all similes.  The country
people say it changes its cry five times in the year —
according to some change of season, I suppose. [4]

Two species of humming-birds are common; Trochilus
forficatus is found over a space of 2500 miles on the west
coast, from the hot dry country of Lima, to the forests of
Tierra del Fuego — where it may be seen flitting about in
snow-storms.  In the wooded island of Chiloe, which has an
extremely humid climate, this little bird, skipping from side
to side amidst the dripping foliage, is perhaps more abundant
than almost any other kind.  I opened the stomachs of several
specimens, shot in different parts of the continent, and in all,
remains of insects were as numerous as in the stomach of a
creeper.  When this species migrates in the summer southward,
it is replaced by the arrival of another species coming
from the north.  This second kind (Trochilus gigas) is a
very large bird for the delicate family to which it belongs:
when on the wing its appearance is singular.  Like others
of the genus, it moves from place to place with a rapidity
which may be compared to that of Syrphus amongst flies,
and Sphinx among moths; but whilst hovering over a flower,
it flaps its wings with a very slow and powerful movement,
totally different from that vibratory one common to most of
the species, which produces the humming noise.  I never saw
any other bird where the force of its wings appeared (as in a
butterfly) so powerful in proportion to the weight of its body.
When hovering by a flower, its tail is constantly expanded
and shut like a fan, the body being kept in a nearly vertical
position.  This action appears to steady and support the bird,
between the slow movements of its wings.  Although flying
from flower to flower in search of food, its stomach generally
contained abundant remains of insects, which I suspect are
much more the object of its search than honey.  The note of
this species, like that of nearly the whole family, is
extremely shrill.

[1] Caldeleugh, in Philosoph. Transact. for 1836.

[2] Annales des Sciences Naturelles, March, 1833. M. Gay, a
zealous and able naturalist, was then occupied in studying
every branch of natural history throughout the kingdom of
Chile.

[3] Burchess's Travels, vol. ii. p. 45.

[4] It is a remarkable fact, that Molina, though describing
in detail all the birds and animals of Chile, never once
mentions this genus, the species of which are so common, and
so remarkable in their habits.  Was he at a loss how to
classify them, and did he consequently think that silence
was the more prudent course?  It is one more instance of the
frequency of omissions by authors, on those very subjects
where it might have been least expected.



CHAPTER XIII

CHILOE AND CHONOS ISLANDS

Chiloe — General Aspect — Boat Excursion — Native
Indians — Castro — Tame Fox — Ascend San Pedro — Chonos
Archipelago — Peninsula of Tres Montes — Granitic
Range — Boat-wrecked Sailors — Low's Harbour — Wild
Potato — Formation of Peat — Myopotamus, Otter and Mice —
Cheucau and Barking-bird — Opetiorhynchus — Singular
Character of Ornithology — Petrels.


NOVEMBER 10th. — The Beagle sailed from Valparaiso
to the south, for the purpose of surveying the southern
part of Chile, the island of Chiloe, and the broken
land called the Chonos Archipelago, as far south as the
Peninsula of Tres Montes.  On the 21st we anchored in the
bay of S. Carlos, the capital of Chiloe.

This island is about ninety miles long, with a breadth of
rather less than thirty.  The land is hilly, but not mountainous,
and is covered by one great forest, except where a few
green patches have been cleared round the thatched cottages.
From a distance the view somewhat resembles that of Tierra
del Fuego; but the woods, when seen nearer, are incomparably
more beautiful.  Many kinds of fine evergreen trees, and
plants with a tropical character, here take the place of the
gloomy beech of the southern shores.  In winter the climate
is detestable, and in summer it is only a little better.  I
should think there are few parts of the world, within the
temperate regions, where so much rain falls.  The winds are
very boisterous, and the sky almost always clouded: to have a
week of fine weather is something wonderful.  It is even
difficult to get a single glimpse of the Cordillera: during
our first visit, once only the volcano of Osorno stood out in
bold relief, and that was before sunrise; it was curious to
watch, as the sun rose, the outline gradually fading away in
the glare of the eastern sky.

The inhabitants, from their complexion and low stature;
appear to have three-fourths of Indian blood in their veins.
They are an humble, quiet, industrious set of men.  Although
the fertile soil, resulting from the decomposition of the
volcanic rocks, supports a rank vegetation, yet the climate is
not favourable to any production which requires much sunshine
to ripen it.  There is very little pasture for the larger
quadrupeds; and in consequence, the staple articles of food are
pigs, potatoes, and fish.  The people all dress in strong
woollen garments, which each family makes for itself, and
dyes with indigo of a dark blue colour.  The arts, however,
are in the rudest state; — as may be seen in their strange
fashion of ploughing, their method of spinning, grinding
corn, and in the construction of their boats.  The forests are
so impenetrable, that the land is nowhere cultivated except
near the coast and on the adjoining islets.  Even where paths
exist, they are scarcely passable from the soft and swampy
state of the soil.  The inhabitants, like those of Tierra del
Fuego, move about chiefly on the beach or in boats.  Although
with plenty to eat, the people are very poor: there is no
demand for labour, and consequently the lower orders cannot
scrape together money sufficient to purchase even the smallest
luxuries.  There is also a great deficiency of a circulating
medium.  I have seen a man bringing on his back a bag of
charcoal, with which to buy some trifle, and another carrying
a plank to exchange for a bottle of wine.  Hence every tradesman
must also be a merchant, and again sell the goods which
he takes in exchange.

November  24th. — The yawl and whale-boat were sent under
the command of Mr. (now Captain) Sulivan, to survey the
eastern or inland coast of Chiloe; and with orders to meet
the Beagle at the southern extremity of the island; to which
point she would proceed by the outside, so as thus to
circumnavigate the whole.  I accompanied this expedition, but
instead of going in the boats the first day, I hired horses to
take me to Chacao, at the northern extremity of the island.
The road followed the coast; every now and then crossing
promontories covered by fine forests.  In these shaded paths
it is absolutely necessary that the whole road should be made
of logs of wood, which are squared and placed by the side of
each other.  From the rays of the sun never penetrating the
evergreen foliage, the ground is so damp and soft, that except
by this means neither man nor horse would be able to pass
along.  I arrived at the village of Chacao shortly after the
tents belonging to the boats were pitched for the night.

The land in this neighbourhood has been extensively
cleared, and there were many quiet and most picturesque
nooks in the forest.  Chacao was formerly the principal port
in the island; but many vessels having been lost, owing to the
dangerous currents and rocks in the straits, the Spanish
government burnt the church, and thus arbitrarily compelled the
greater number of inhabitants to migrate to S. Carlos.  We
had not long bivouacked, before the barefooted son of the
governor came down to reconnoitre us.  Seeing the English
flag hoisted at the yawl's mast-head, he asked with the utmost
indifference, whether it was always to fly at Chacao.  In several
places the inhabitants were much astonished at the
appearance of men-of-war's boats, and hoped and believed
it was the forerunner of a Spanish fleet, coming to recover
the island from the patriot government of Chile.  All the
men in power, however, had been informed of our intended
visit, and were exceedingly civil.  While we were eating our
supper, the governor paid us a visit.  He had been a lieutenant-
colonel in the Spanish service, but now was miserably
poor.  He gave us two sheep, and accepted in return two cotton
handkerchiefs, some brass trinkets, and a little tobacco.

25th. — Torrents of rain: we managed, however, to run
down the coast as far as Huapi-lenou.  The whole of this
eastern side of Chiloe has one aspect; it is a plain, broken by
valleys and divided into little islands, and the whole thickly
covered with one impervious blackish-green forest.  On the
margins there are some cleared spaces, surrounding the high-
roofed cottages.

26th — The day rose splendidly clear.  The volcano of
Orsono was spouting out volumes of smoke.  This most
beautiful mountain, formed like a perfect cone, and white
with snow, stands out in front of the Cordillera.  Another
great volcano, with a saddle-shaped summit, also emitted
from its immense crater little jets of steam.  Subsequently
we saw the lofty-peaked Corcovado — well deserving the name
of "el famoso Corcovado." Thus we beheld, from one point
of view, three great active volcanoes, each about seven thousand
feet high.  In addition to this, far to the south, there
were other lofty cones covered with snow, which, although
not known to be active, must be in their origin volcanic.
The line of the Andes is not, in this neighbourhood, nearly
so elevated as in Chile; neither does it appear to form so
perfect a barrier between the regions of the earth.  This
great range, although running in a straight north and south
line, owing to an optical deception, always appeared more or
less curved; for the lines drawn from each peak to the
beholder's eye, necessarily converged like the radii of a
semicircle, and as it was not possible (owing to the clearness
of the atmosphere and the absence of all intermediate objects)
to judge how far distant the farthest peaks were off,
they appeared to stand in a flattish semicircle.

Landing at midday, we saw a family of pure Indian extraction.
The father was singularly like York Minster; and some
of the younger boys, with their ruddy complexions, might
have been mistaken for Pampas Indians.  Everything I have
seen, convinces me of the close connexion of the different
American tribes, who nevertheless speak distinct languages.
This party could muster but little Spanish, and talked to each
other in their own tongue.  It is a pleasant thing to see the
aborigines advanced to the same degree of civilization, however
low that may be, which their white conquerors have
attained.  More to the south we saw many pure Indians:
indeed, all the inhabitants of some of the islets retain their
Indian surnames.  In the census of 1832, there were in Chiloe
and its dependencies forty-two thousand souls; the greater
number of these appear to be of mixed blood.  Eleven thousand
retain their Indian surnames, but it is probable that not
nearly all of these are of a pure breed.  Their manner of life
is the same with that of the other poor inhabitants, and they
are all Christians; but it is said that they yet retain some
strange superstitious ceremonies, and that they pretend to
hold communication with the devil in certain caves.  Formerly,
every one convicted of this offence was sent to the
Inquisition at Lima.  Many of the inhabitants who are not
included in the eleven thousand with Indian surnames, cannot
be distinguished by their appearance from Indians.
Gomez, the governor of Lemuy, is descended from noblemen
of Spain on both sides; but by constant intermarriages with
the natives the present man is an Indian.  On the other hand
the governor of Quinchao boasts much of his purely kept
Spanish blood.

We reached at night a beautiful little cove, north of the
island of Caucahue.  The people here complained of want of
land.  This is partly owing to their own negligence in not
clearing the woods, and partly to restrictions by the government,
which makes it necessary, before buying ever so small
a piece, to pay two shillings to the surveyor for measuring
each quadra (150 yards square), together with whatever
price he fixes for the value of the land.  After his valuation
the land must be put up three times to auction, and if no one
bids more, the purchaser can have it at that rate.  All these
exactions must be a serious check to clearing the ground,
where the inhabitants are so extremely poor.  In most countries,
forests are removed without much difficulty by the aid
of fire; but in Chiloe, from the damp nature of the climate,
and the sort of trees, it is necessary first to cut them down.
This is a heavy drawback to the prosperity of Chiloe.  In the
time of the Spaniards the Indians could not hold land; and a
family, after having cleared a piece of ground, might be
driven away, and the property seized by the government.
The Chilian authorities are now performing an act of justice
by making retribution to these poor Indians, giving to each
man, according to his grade of life, a certain portion of land.
The value of uncleared ground is very little.  The government
gave Mr. Douglas (the present surveyor, who informed
me of these circumstances) eight and a half square miles of
forest near S. Carlos, in lieu of a debt; and this he sold for
350 dollars, or about 70 pounds sterling.

The two succeeding days were fine, and at night we reached
the island of Quinchao.  This neighbourhood is the most cultivated
part of the Archipelago; for a broad strip of land on
the coast of the main island, as well as on many of the smaller
adjoining ones, is almost completely cleared.  Some of the
farmhouses seemed very comfortable.  I was curious to
ascertain how rich any of these people might be, but Mr.
Douglas says that no one can be considered as possessing a
regular income.  One of the richest land-owners might possibly
accumulate, in a long industrious life, as much as 1000 pounds
sterling; but should this happen, it would all be stowed away
in some secret corner, for it is the custom of almost every
family to have a jar or treasure-chest buried in the ground.

November 30th. — Early on Sunday morning we reached
Castro, the ancient capital of Chiloe, but now a most forlorn
and deserted place.  The usual quadrangular arrangement
of Spanish towns could be traced, but the streets and plaza
were coated with fine green turf, on which sheep were
browsing.  The church, which stands in the middle, is entirely
built of plank, and has a picturesque and venerable appearance.
The poverty of the place may be conceived from the
fact, that although containing some hundreds of inhabitants,
one of our party was unable anywhere to purchase either a
pound of sugar or an ordinary knife.  No individual possessed
either a watch or a clock; and an old man, who was supposed
to have a good idea of time, was employed to strike the
church bell by guess.  The arrival of our boats was a rare
event in this quiet retired corner of the world; and nearly all
the inhabitants came down to the beach to see us pitch our
tents.  They were very civil, and offered us a house; and one
man even sent us a cask of cider as a present.  In the afternoon
we paid our respects to the governor — a quiet old man,
who, in his appearance and manner of life, was scarcely
superior to an English cottager.  At night heavy rain set in,
which was hardly sufficient to drive away from our tents the
large circle of lookers-on.  An Indian family, who had come
to trade in a canoe from Caylen, bivouacked near us.  They
had no shelter during the rain.  In the morning I asked a
young Indian, who was wet to the skin, how he had passed
the night.  He seemed perfectly content, and answered, "Muy
bien, senor."

December 1st. - We steered for the island of Lemuy.  I
was anxious to examine a reported coal-mine which turned
out to be lignite of little value, in the sandstone (probably
of an ancient tertiary epoch) of which these islands are
composed.  When we reached Lemuy we had much difficulty in
finding any place to pitch our tents, for it was spring-tide,
and the land was wooded down to the water's edge.  In a
short time we were surrounded by a large group of the nearly
pure Indian inhabitants.  They were much surprised at our
arrival, and said one to the other, "This is the reason we
have seen so many parrots lately; the cheucau (an odd red-
breasted little bird, which inhabits the thick forest, and utters
very peculiar noises) has not cried 'beware' for nothing."
They were soon anxious for barter.  Money was scarcely
worth anything, but their eagerness for tobacco was something
quite extraordinary.  After tobacco, indigo came next
in value; then capsicum, old clothes, and gunpowder.  The
latter article was required for a very innocent purpose: each
parish has a public musket, and the gunpowder was wanted
for making a noise on their saint or feast days

The people here live chiefly on shell-fish and potatoes.  At
certain seasons they catch also, in "corrales," or hedges
under water, many fish which are left on the mud-banks as
the tide falls.  They occasionally possess fowls, sheep, goats,
pigs, horses, and cattle; the order in which they are here
mentioned, expressing their respective numbers.  I never
saw anything more obliging and humble than the manners
of these people.  They generally began with stating that
they were poor natives of the place, and not Spaniards
and that they were in sad want of tobacco and other comforts.
At Caylen, the most southern island, the sailors
bought with a stick of tobacco, of the value of three-halfpence,
two fowls, one of which, the Indian stated, had skin
between its toes, and turned out to be a fine duck; and with
some cotton handkerchiefs, worth three shillings, three sheep
and a large bunch of onions were procured.  The yawl at
this place was anchored some way from the shore, and we
had fears for her safety from robbers during the night.  Our
pilot, Mr. Douglas, accordingly told the constable of the
district that we always placed sentinels with loaded arms
and not understanding Spanish, if we saw any person in the
dark, we should assuredly shoot him.  The constable, with
much humility, agreed to the perfect propriety of this
arrangement, and promised us that no one should stir out
of his house during that night.

During the four succeeding days we continued sailing
southward.  The general features of the country remained
the same, but it was much less thickly inhabited.  On the
large island of Tanqui there was scarcely one cleared spot,
the trees on every side extending their branches over the
sea-beach.  I one day noticed, growing on the sandstone
cliffs, some very fine plants of the panke (Gunnera scabra),
which somewhat resembles the rhubarb on a gigantic scale.
The inhabitants eat the stalks, which are subacid, and tan
leather with the roots, and prepare a black dye from them.
The leaf is nearly circular, but deeply indented on its margin.
I measured one which was nearly eight feet in diameter,
and therefore no less than twenty-four in circumference!
The stalk is rather more than a yard high, and each
plant sends out four or five of these enormous leaves,
presenting together a very noble appearance.

December 6th. — We reached Caylen, called "el fin del
Cristiandad." In the morning we stopped for a few minutes
at a house on the northern end of Laylec, which was the
extreme point of South American Christendom, and a miserable
hovel it was.  The latitude is 43 degs. 10', which is two
degrees farther south than the Rio Negro on the Atlantic
coast.  These extreme Christians were very poor, and, under
the plea of their situation, begged for some tobacco.  As a
proof of the poverty of these Indians, I may mention that
shortly before this, we had met a man, who had travelled
three days and a half on foot, and had as many to return,
for the sake of recovering the value of a small axe and a few
fish.  How very difficult it must be to buy the smallest article,
when such trouble is taken to recover so small a debt.

In the evening we reached the island of San Pedro, where
we found the Beagle at anchor.  In doubling the point, two
of the officers landed to take a round of angles with the
theodolite.  A fox (Canis fulvipes), of a kind said to be
peculiar to the island, and very rare in it, and which is a new
species, was sitting on the rocks.  He was so intently absorbed
in watching the work of the officers, that I was able,
by quietly walking up behind, to knock him on the head
with my geological hammer.  This fox, more curious or
more scientific, but less wise, than the generality of his
brethren, is now mounted in the museum of the Zoological
Society.

We stayed three days in this harbour, on one of  which
Captain Fitz Roy, with a party, attempted to ascend to the
summit of San Pedro.  The woods here had rather a different
appearance from those on the northern part of the island.
The rock, also, being micaceous slate, there was no beach,
but the steep sides dipped directly beneath the water.  The
general aspect in consequence was more like that of Tierra
del Fuego than of Chiloe.  In vain we tried to gain the
summit: the forest was so impenetrable, that no one who
has not beheld it can imagine so entangled a mass of dying
and dead trunks.  I am sure that often, for more than ten
minutes together, our feet never touched the ground, and
we were frequently ten or fifteen feet above it, so that the
seamen as a joke called out the soundings.  At other times
we crept one after another on our hands and knees, under
the rotten trunks.  In the lower part of the mountain, noble
trees of the Winter's Bark, and a laurel like the sassafras
with fragrant leaves, and others, the names of which I do
not know, were matted together by a trailing bamboo or cane.
Here we were more like fishes struggling in a net than any
other animal.  On the higher parts, brushwood takes the
place of larger trees, with here and there a red cedar or an
alerce pine.  I was also pleased to see, at an elevation of a
little less than 1000 feet, our old friend the southern beech.
They were, however, poor stunted trees, and I should think
that this must be nearly their northern limit.  We ultimately
gave up the attempt in despair.

December 10th. — The yawl and whale-boat, with Mr.
Sulivan, proceeded on their survey, but I remained on board
the Beagle, which the next day left San Pedro for the southward.
On the 13th we ran into an opening in the southern
part of Guayatecas, or the Chonos Archipelago; and it was
fortunate we did so, for on the following day a storm, worthy
of Tierra del Fuego, raged with great fury.  White massive
clouds were piled up against a dark blue sky, and across them
black ragged sheets of vapour were rapidly driven.  The
successive mountain ranges appeared like dim shadows, and
the setting sun cast on the woodland a yellow gleam, much
like that produced by the flame of spirits of wine.  The water
was white with the flying spray, and the wind lulled and
roared again through the rigging: it was an ominous, sublime
scene.  During a few minutes there was a bright rainbow,
and it was curious to observe the effect of the spray,
which being carried along the surface of the water, changed
the ordinary semicircle into a circle — a band of prismatic
colours being continued, from both feet of the common arch
across the bay, close to the vessel's side: thus forming a
distorted, but very nearly entire ring.

We stayed here three days.  The weather continued bad:
but this did not much signify, for the surface of the land
in all these islands is all but impassable.  The coast is so
very rugged that to attempt to walk in that direction requires
continued scrambling up and down over the sharp
rocks of mica-slate; and as for the woods, our faces, hands,
and shin-bones all bore witness to the maltreatment we
received, in merely attempting to penetrate their forbidden
recesses.

December 18th. — We stood out to sea.  On the 20th we
bade farewell to the south, and with a fair wind turned the
ship's head northward.  From Cape Tres Montes we sailed
pleasantly along the lofty weather-beaten coast, which is
remarkable for the bold outline of its hills, and the thick
covering of forest even on the almost precipitous flanks.  The
next day a harbour was discovered, which on this dangerous
coast might be of great service to a distressed vessel.  It
can easily be recognized by a hill 1600 feet high, which is
even more perfectly conical than the famous sugar-loaf at
Rio de Janeiro.  The next day, after anchoring, I succeeded
in reaching the summit of this hill.  It was a laborious
undertaking, for the sides were so steep that in some parts it
was necessary to use the trees as ladders.  There were also
several extensive brakes of the Fuchsia, covered with its
beautiful drooping flowers, but very difficult to crawl through.
In these wild countries it gives much delight to gain the summit
of any mountain.  There is an indefinite expectation of seeing
something very strange, which, however often it may be
balked, never failed with me to recur on each successive
attempt.  Every one must know the feeling of triumph and
pride which a grand view from a height communicates to the
mind.  In these little frequented countries there is also joined
to it some vanity, that you perhaps are the first man who ever
stood on this pinnacle or admired this view.

A strong desire is always felt to ascertain whether any
human being has previously visited an unfrequented spot.
A bit of wood with a nail in it, is picked up and studied as
if it were covered with hieroglyphics.  Possessed with this
feeling, I was much interested by finding, on a wild part of
the coast, a bed made of grass beneath a ledge of rock.  Close
by it there had been a fire, and the man had used an axe.
The fire, bed, and situation showed the dexterity of an Indian;
but he could scarcely have been an Indian, for the race is
in this part extinct, owing to the Catholic desire of making
at one blow Christians and Slaves.  I had at the time some
misgivings that the solitary man who had made his bed on
this wild spot, must have been some poor shipwrecked sailor,
who, in trying to travel up the coast, had here laid himself
down for his dreary night

December 28th. — The weather continued very bad, but it
at last permitted us to proceed with the survey.  The time
hung heavy on our hands, as it always did when we were
delayed from day to day by successive gales of wind.  In
the evening another harbour was discovered, where we
anchored.  Directly afterwards a man was seen waving a
shirt, and a boat was sent which brought back two seamen.
A party of six had run away from an American whaling
vessel, and had landed a little to the southward in a boat,
which was shortly afterwards knocked to pieces by the surf.
They had now been wandering up and down the coast for
fifteen months, without knowing which way to go, or where
they were.  What a singular piece of good fortune it was
that this harbour was now discovered!  Had it not been for
this one chance, they might have wandered till they had
grown old men, and at last have perished on this wild coast.
Their sufferings had been very great, and one of their party
had lost his life by falling from the cliffs.  They were
sometimes obliged to separate in search of food, and this
explained the bed of the solitary man.  Considering what they
had undergone, I think they had kept a very good reckoning of
time, for they had lost only four days.

December 30th. — We anchored in a snug little cove at the
foot of some high hills, near the northern extremity of Tres
Montes.  After breakfast the next morning, a party ascended
one of these mountains, which was 2400 feet high.  The
scenery was remarkable The chief part of the range was
composed of grand, solid, abrupt masses of granite, which
appeared as if they had been coeval with the beginning of
the world.  The granite was capped with mica-slate, and this
in the lapse of ages had been worn into strange finger-
shaped points.  These two formations, thus differing in their
outlines, agree in being almost destitute of vegetation.  This
barrenness had to our eyes a strange appearance, from having
been so long accustomed to the sight of an almost universal
forest of dark-green trees.  I took much delight in examining
the structure of these mountains.  The complicated and lofty
ranges bore a noble aspect of durability — equally profitless,
however, to man and to all other animals.  Granite to the
geologist is classic ground: from its widespread limits, and its
beautiful and compact texture, few rocks have been more
anciently recognised.  Granite has given rise, perhaps, to
more discussion concerning its origin than any other formation.
We generally see it constituting the fundamental rock,
and, however formed, we know it is the deepest layer in the
crust of this globe to which man has penetrated.  The limit
of man's knowledge in any subject possesses a high interest,
which is perhaps increased by its close neighbourhood to the
realms of imagination.

January 1st 1835. — The new year is ushered in with the
ceremonies proper to it in these regions.  She lays out no
false hopes: a heavy north-western gale, with steady rain,
bespeaks the rising year.  Thank God, we are not destined
here to see the end of it, but hope then to be in the Pacific
Ocean, where a blue sky tells one there is a heaven, — a
something beyond the clouds above our heads.

The north-west winds prevailing for the next four days,
we only managed to cross a great bay, and then anchored in
another secure harbour.  I accompanied the Captain in a
boat to the head of a deep creek.  On the way the number of
seals which we saw was quite astonishing: every bit of flat
rock, and parts of the beach, were covered with them.  There
appeared to be of a loving disposition, and lay huddled
together, fast asleep, like so many pigs; but even pigs would
have been ashamed of their dirt, and of the foul smell which
came from them.  Each herd was watched by the patient but
inauspicious eyes of the turkey-buzzard.  This disgusting bird,
with its bald scarlet head, formed to wallow in putridity, is
very common on the west coast, and their attendance on the
seals shows on what they rely for their food.  We found the
water (probably only that of the surface) nearly fresh: this
was caused by the number of torrents which, in the form
of cascades, came tumbling over the bold granite mountains
into the sea.  The fresh water attracts the fish, and these
bring many terns, gulls, and two kinds of cormorant.  We
saw also a pair of the beautiful black-necked swans, and
several small sea-otters, the fur of which is held in such
high estimation.  In returning, we were again amused by the
impetuous manner in which the heap of seals, old and young,
tumbled into the water as the boat passed.  They did not
remain long under water, but rising, followed us with
outstretched necks, expressing great wonder and curiosity.

7th. — Having run up the coast, we anchored near the
northern end of the Chonos Archipelago, in Low's Harbour,
where we remained a week.  The islands were here, as in
Chiloe, composed of a stratified, soft, littoral deposit; and
the vegetation in consequence was beautifully luxuriant.  The
woods came down to the sea-beach, just in the manner of
an evergreen shrubbery over a gravel walk.  We also enjoyed
from the anchorage a splendid view of four great snowy
cones of the Cordillera, including "el famoso Corcovado;"
the range itself had in this latitude so little height, that few
parts of it appeared above the tops of the neighbouring
islets.  We found here a party of five men from Caylen, "el
fin del Cristiandad," who had most adventurously crossed in
their miserable boat-canoe, for the purpose of fishing, the
open space of sea which separates Chonos from Chiloe.  These
islands will, in all probability, in a short time become peopled
like those adjoining the coast of Chiloe.


The wild potato grows on these islands in great abundance,
on the sandy, shelly soil near the sea-beach.  The tallest
plant was four feet in height.  The tubers were generally
small, but I found one, of an oval shape, two inches in
diameter: they resembled in every respect, and had the same
smell as English potatoes; but when boiled they shrunk much,
and were watery and insipid, without any bitter taste.  They
are undoubtedly here indigenous: they grow as far south,
according to Mr. Low, as lat. 50 degs., and are called Aquinas by
the wild Indians of that part: the Chilotan Indians have a
different name for them.  Professor Henslow, who has examined
the dried specimens which I brought home, says that
they are the same with those described by Mr. Sabine [1] from
Valparaiso, but that they form a variety which by some
botanists has been considered as specifically distinct.  It is
remarkable that the same plant should be found on the sterile
mountains of central Chile, where a drop of rain does not
fall for more than six months, and within the damp forests
of these southern islands.

In the central parts of the Chonos Archipelago (lat. 45 degs.),
the forest has very much the same character with that along
the whole west coast, for 600 miles southward to Cape Horn.
The arborescent grass of Chiloe is not found here; while the
beech of Tierra del Fuego grows to a good size, and forms a
considerable proportion of the wood; not, however, in the
same exclusive manner as it does farther southward.  Cryptogamic
plants here find a most congenial climate.  In the Strait
of Magellan, as I have before remarked, the country appears
too cold and wet to allow of their arriving at perfection; but
in these islands, within the forest, the number of species and
great abundance of mosses, lichens, and small ferns, is quite
extraordinary. [2] In Tierra del Fuego trees grow only on the
hillsides; every level piece of land being invariably covered
by a thick bed of peat; but in Chiloe flat land supports the
most luxuriant forests.  Here, within the Chonos Archipelago,
the nature of the climate more closely approaches that
of Tierra del Fuego than that of northern Chiloe; for every
patch of level ground is covered by two species of plants
(Astelia pumila and Donatia magellanica), which by their
joint decay compose a thick bed of elastic peat

In Tierra del Fuego, above the region of woodland, the
former of these eminently sociable plants is the chief agent
in the production of peat.  Fresh leaves are always succeeding
one to the other round the central tap-root, the lower
ones soon decay, and in tracing a root downwards in the peat,
the leaves, yet holding their place, can be observed passing
through every stage of decomposition, till the whole becomes
blended in one confused mass.  The Astelia is assisted by a
few other plants, — here and there a small creeping Myrtus
(M. nummularia), with a woody stem like our cranberry and
with a sweet berry, — an Empetrum (E. rubrum), like our
heath, — a rush (Juncus grandiflorus), are nearly the only
ones that grow on the swampy surface.  These plants, though
possessing a very close general resemblance to the English
species of the same genera, are different.  In the more level
parts of the country, the surface of the peat is broken up into
little pools of water, which stand at different heights, and
appear as if artificially excavated.  Small streams of water,
flowing underground, complete the disorganization of the
vegetable matter, and consolidate the whole.

The climate of the southern part of America appears particularly
favourable to the production of peat.  In the Falkland
Islands almost every kind of plant, even the coarse grass
which covers the whole surface of the land, becomes converted
into this substance: scarcely any situation checks its
growth; some of the beds are as much as twelve feet thick,
and the lower part becomes so solid when dry, that it will
hardly burn.  Although every plant lends its aid, yet in most
parts the Astelia is the most efficient.  It is rather a singular
circumstance, as being so very different from what occurs
in Europe, that I nowhere saw moss forming by its decay
any portion of the peat in South America.  With respect to
the northern limit, at which the climate allows of that peculiar
kind of slow decomposition which is necessary for its
production, I believe that in Chiloe (lat. 41 to 42 degs.),
although there is much swampy ground, no well-characterized peat
occurs: but in the Chonos Islands, three degrees farther
southward, we have seen that it is abundant.  On the eastern
coast in La Plata (lat. 35 degs.) I was told by a Spanish
resident who had visited Ireland, that he had often sought for
this substance, but had never been able to find any.  He showed
me, as the nearest approach to it which he had discovered, a
black peaty soil, so penetrated with roots as to allow of an
extremely slow and imperfect combustion.


The zoology of these broken islets of the Chonos Archipelago
is, as might have been expected, very poor.  Of quadrupeds
two aquatic kinds are common.  The Myopotamus
Coypus (like a beaver, but with a round tail) is well known
from its fine fur, which is an object of trade throughout the
tributaries of La Plata.  It here, however, exclusively frequents
salt water; which same circumstance has been mentioned
as sometimes occurring with the great rodent, the
Capybara.  A small sea-otter is very numerous; this animal
does not feed exclusively on fish, but, like the seals, draws a
large supply from a small red crab, which swims in shoals
near the surface of the water.  Mr. Bynoe saw one in Tierra
del Fuego eating a cuttle-fish; and at Low's Harbour, another
was killed in the act of carrying to its hole a large volute
shell.  At one place I caught in a trap a singular little mouse
(M. brachiotis); it appeared common on several of the islets,
but the Chilotans at Low's Harbour said that it was not found
in all.  What a succession of chances, [3] or what changes of
level must have been brought into play, thus to spread these
small animals throughout this broken archipelago!

In all parts of Chiloe and Chonos, two very strange birds
occur, which are allied to, and replace, the Turco and Tapacolo
of central Chile.  One is called by the inhabitants
"Cheucau" (Pteroptochos rubecula): it frequents the most
gloomy and retired spots within the damp forests.  Sometimes,
although its cry may be heard close at hand, let a person
watch ever so attentively he will not see the cheucau; at
other times, let him stand motionless and the red-breasted
little bird will approach within a few feet in the most familiar
manner.  It then busily hops about the entangled mass of
rotting cones and branches, with its little tail cocked upwards.
The cheucau is held in superstitious fear by the Chilotans, on
account of its strange and varied cries.  There are three
very distinct cries: One is called "chiduco," and is an omen
of good; another, "huitreu," which is extremely unfavourable;
and a third, which I have forgotten.  These words are
given in imitation of the noises; and the natives are in some
things absolutely governed by them.  The Chilotans assuredly
have chosen a most comical little creature for their prophet.
An allied species, but rather larger, is called by the natives
"Guid-guid" (Pteroptochos Tarnii), and by the English the
barking-bird.  This latter name is well given; for I defy any
one at first to feel certain that a small dog is not yelping
somewhere in the forest.  Just as with the cheucau, a person
will sometimes hear the bark close by, but in vain many
endeavour by watching, and with still less chance by beating
the bushes, to see the bird; yet at other times the guid-guid
fearlessly comes near.  Its manner of feeding and its general
habits are very similar to those of the cheucau.

On the coast, [4] a small dusky-coloured bird (Opetiorhynchus
Patagonicus) is very common.  It is remarkable from
its quiet habits; it lives entirely on the sea-beach, like a
sandpiper.  Besides these birds only few others inhabit this
broken land.  In my rough notes I describe the strange
noises, which, although frequently heard within these gloomy
forests, yet scarcely disturb the general silence.  The yelping
of the guid-guid, and the sudden whew-whew of the
cheucau, sometimes come from afar off, and sometimes from
close at hand; the little black wren of Tierra del Fuego
occasionally adds its cry; the creeper (Oxyurus) follows the
intruder screaming and twittering; the humming-bird may
be seen every now and then darting from side to side, and
emitting, like an insect, its shrill chirp; lastly, from the top
of some lofty tree the indistinct but plaintive note of the
white-tufted tyrant-flycatcher (Myiobius) may be noticed.
From the great preponderance in most countries of certain
common genera of birds, such as the finches, one feels at
first surprised at meeting with the peculiar forms above
enumerated, as the commonest birds in any district.  In central
Chile two of them, namely, the Oxyurus and Scytalopus, occur,
although most rarely.  When finding, as in this case,
animals which seem to play so insignificant a part in the great
scheme of nature, one is apt to wonder why they were
created.

But it should always be recollected, that in some other
country perhaps they are essential members of society, or
at some former period may have been so.  If America
south of 37 degs. were sunk beneath the waters of the ocean,
these two birds might continue to exist in central Chile for
a long period, but it is very improbable that their numbers
would increase.  We should then see a case which must inevitably
have happened with very many animals.

These southern seas are frequented by several species of
Petrels: the largest kind, Procellaria gigantea, or nelly
(quebrantahuesos, or break-bones, of the Spaniards), is a common
bird, both in the inland channels and on the open sea.
In its habits and manner of flight, there is a very close
resemblance with the albatross; and as with the albatross, a
person may watch it for hours together without seeing on
what it feeds.  The "break-bones" is, however, a rapacious
bird, for it was observed by some of the officers at Port St.
Antonio chasing a diver, which tried to escape by diving
and flying, but was continually struck down, and at last
killed by a blow on its head.  At Port St. Julian these great
petrels were seen killing and devouring young gulls.  A second
species (Puffinus cinereus), which is common to Europe,
Cape Horn, and the coast of Peru, is of much smaller size
than the P. gigantea, but, like it, of a dirty black colour.  It
generally frequents the inland sounds in very large flocks:
I do not think I ever saw so many birds of any other sort
together, as I once saw of these behind the island of Chiloe.
Hundreds of thousands flew in an irregular line for several
hours in one direction.  When part of the flock settled on the
water the surface was blackened, and a noise proceeded from
them as of human beings talking in the distance.

There are several other species of petrels, but I will only
mention one other kind, the Pelacanoides Berardi which
offers an example of those extraordinary cases, of a bird
evidently belonging to one well-marked family, yet both in
its habits and structure allied to a very distinct tribe.  This
bird never leaves the quiet inland sounds.  When disturbed
it dives to a distance, and on coming to the surface, with the
same movement takes flight.  After flying by a rapid movement
of its short wings for a space in a straight line, it drops,
as if struck dead, and dives again.  The form of its beak and
nostrils, length of foot, and even the colouring of its plumage,
show that this bird is a petrel: on the other hand, its
short wings and consequent little power of flight, its form
of body and shape of tail, the absence of a hind toe to its
foot, its habit of diving, and its choice of situation, make it
at first doubtful whether its relationship is not equally close
with the auks.  It would undoubtedly be mistaken for an auk,
when seen from a distance, either on the wing, or when diving
and quietly swimming about the retired channels of
Tierra del Fuego.

[1] Horticultural Transact., vol. v. p. 249. Mr. Caldeleugh
sent home two tubers, which, being well manured, even the
first season produced numerous potatoes and an abundance of
leaves.  See Humboldt's interesting discussion on this plant,
which it appears was unknown in Mexico,  —  in Polit. Essay
on New Spain, book iv. chap. ix.

[2] By sweeping with my insect-net, I procured from these
situations a considerable number of minute insects, of the
family of Staphylinidae, and others allied to Pselaphus,
and minute Hymenoptera.  But the most characteristic family
in number, both of individuals and species, throughout the
more open parts of Chiloe and Chonos is that of Telephoridae.

[3] It is said that some rapacious birds bring their prey
alive to their nests.  If so, in the course of centuries,
every now and then, one might escape from the young birds.
Some such agency is necessary, to account for the distribution
of the smaller gnawing animals on islands not very near each other.

[4] I may mention, as a proof of how great a difference there
is between the seasons of the wooded and the open parts of
this coast, that on September 20th, in lat. 34 degs., these
birds had young ones in the nest, while among the Chonos
Islands, three months later in the summer, they were only
laying, the difference in latitude between these two places
being about 700 miles.



CHAPTER XIV

CHILOE AND CONCEPCION: GREAT EARTHQUAKE

San Carlos, Chiloe — Osorno in eruption, contemporaneously
with Aconcagua and Coseguina — Ride to Cucao — Impenetrable
Forests — Valdivia Indians — Earthquake — Concepcion —
Great Earthquake  — Rocks fissured — Appearance of the
former Towns — The Sea Black and Boiling — Direction of
the Vibrations — Stones twisted round —  Great Wave —
Permanent Elevation of the Land — Area of Volcanic
Phenomena — The connection between the Elevatory and
Eruptive Forces — Cause of Earthquakes — Slow Elevation of
Mountain-chains


ON JANUARY the 15th we sailed from Low's Harbour,
and three days afterwards anchored a second time in
the bay of S. Carlos in Chiloe.  On the night of the
19th the volcano of Osorno was in action.  At midnight the
sentry observed something like a large star, which gradually
increased in size till about three o'clock, when it presented
a very magnificent spectacle.  By the aid of a glass, dark
objects, in constant succession, were seen, in the midst of a
great glare of red light, to be thrown up and to fall down.
The light was sufficient to cast on the water a long bright
reflection.  Large masses of molten matter seem very commonly
to be cast out of the craters in this part of the Cordillera.
I was assured that when the Corcovado is in eruption,
great masses are projected upwards and are seen to burst in
the air, assuming many fantastical forms, such as trees:
their size must be immense, for they can be distinguished
from the high land behind S. Carlos, which is no less than
ninety-three miles from the Corcovado.  In the morning the
volcano became tranquil.

I was surprised at hearing afterwards that Aconcagua in
Chile, 480 miles northwards, was in action on the same night;
and still more surprised to hear that the great eruption of
Coseguina (2700 miles north of Aconcagua), accompanied by
an earthquake felt over a 1000 miles, also occurred within
six  hours of this same time.  This coincidence is the more
remarkable, as Coseguina had been dormant for twenty-six
years; and Aconcagua most rarely shows any signs of action.
It is difficult even to conjecture whether this coincidence was
accidental, or shows some subterranean connection.  If Vesuvius,
Etna, and Hecla in Iceland (all three relatively nearer
each other than the corresponding points in South America),
suddenly burst forth in eruption on the same night, the
coincidence would be thought remarkable; but it is far more
remarkable in this case, where the three vents fall on the same
great mountain-chain, and where the vast plains along the
entire eastern coast, and the upraised recent shells along
more than 2000 miles on the western coast, show in how
equable and connected a manner the elevatory forces have acted.

Captain Fitz Roy being anxious that some bearings should
be taken on the outer coast of Chiloe, it was planned that
Mr. King and myself should ride to Castro, and thence across
the island to the Capella de Cucao, situated on the west
coast.  Having hired horses and a guide, we set out on
the morning of the 22nd.  We had not proceeded far, before
we were joined by a woman and two boys, who were bent on
the same journey.  Every one on this road acts on a "hail
fellow well met" fashion; and one may here enjoy the privilege,
so rare in South America, of travelling without firearms.
At first, the country consisted of a succession of hills
and valleys: nearer to Castro it became very level.  The road
itself is a curious affair; it consists in its whole length,
with the exception of very few parts, of great logs of wood,
which are either broad and laid longitudinally, or narrow and
placed transversely.  In summer the road is not very bad; but in
winter, when the wood is rendered slippery from rain, travelling
is exceedingly difficult.  At that time of the year, the
ground on each side becomes a morass, and is often overflowed:
hence it is necessary that the longitudinal logs
should be fastened down by transverse poles, which are
pegged on each side into the earth.  These pegs render a fall
from a horse dangerous, as the chance of alighting on one of
them is not small.  It is remarkable, however, how active
custom has made the Chilotan horses.  In crossing bad parts,
where the logs had been displaced, they skipped from one
to the other, almost with the quickness and certainty of a
dog.  On both hands the road is bordered by the lofty forest-
trees, with their bases matted together by canes.  When
occasionally a long reach of this avenue could be beheld, it
presented a curious scene of uniformity: the white line of logs,
narrowing in perspective, became hidden by the gloomy forest,
or terminated in a zigzag which ascended some steep hill.

Although the distance from S. Carlos to Castro is only
twelve leagues in a straight line, the formation of the road
must have been a great labour.  I was told that several people
had formerly lost their lives in attempting to cross the
forest.  The first who succeeded was an Indian, who cut his
way through the canes in eight days, and reached S. Carlos:
he was rewarded by the Spanish government with a grant of
land.  During the summer, many of the Indians wander
about the forests (but chiefly in the higher parts, where the
woods are not quite so thick) in search of the half-wild cattle
which live on the leaves of the cane and certain trees.  It
was one of these huntsmen who by chance discovered, a few
years since, an English vessel, which had been wrecked on the
outer coast.  The crew were beginning to fail in provisions,
and it is not probable that, without the aid of this man, they
would ever have extricated themselves from these scarcely
penetrable woods.  As it was, one seaman died on the march,
from fatigue.  The Indians in these excursions steer by the
sun; so that if there is a continuance of cloudy weather, they
can not travel.

The day was beautiful, and the number of trees which
were in full flower perfumed the air; yet even this could
hardly dissipate the effects of the gloomy dampness of the
forest.  Moreover, the many dead trunks that stand like
skeletons, never fail to give to these primeval woods a
character of solemnity, absent in those of countries long
civilized.  Shortly after sunset we bivouacked for the night.  Our
female companion, who was rather good-looking, belonged to
one of the most respectable families in Castro: she rode,
however, astride, and without shoes or stockings.  I was
surprised at the total want of pride shown by her and her
brother.  They  brought food with them, but at all our meals sat
watching Mr. King and myself whilst eating, till we were
fairly shamed into feeding the whole party.  The night was
cloudless; and while lying in our beds, we enjoyed the sight
(and it is a high enjoyment) of the multitude of stars which
illumined the darkness of the forest.

January 23rd. — We rose early in the morning, and reached
the pretty quiet town of Castro by two o'clock.  The old governor
had died since our last visit, and a Chileno was acting
in his place.  We had a letter of introduction to Don Pedro,
whom we found exceedingly hospitable and kind, and more
disinterested than is usual on this side of the continent.  The
next day Don Pedro procured us fresh horses, and offered
to accompany us himself.  We proceeded to the south — generally
following the coast, and passing through several hamlets,
each with its large barn-like chapel built of wood.  At
Vilipilli, Don Pedro asked the commandant to give us a guide
to Cucao.  The old gentleman offered to come himself; but
for a long time nothing would persuade him that two Englishmen
really wished to go to such an out-of-the-way place
as Cucao.  We were thus accompanied by the two greatest
aristocrats in the country, as was plainly to be seen in the
manner of all the poorer Indians towards them.  At Chonchi
we struck across the island, following intricate winding
paths, sometimes passing through magnificent forests, and
sometimes through pretty cleared spots, abounding with corn
and potato crops.  This undulating woody country, partially
cultivated, reminded me of the wilder parts of England, and
therefore had to my eye a most fascinating aspect.  At Vilinco,
which is situated on the borders of the lake of Cucao,
only a few fields were cleared; and all the inhabitants appeared
to be Indians.  This lake is twelve miles long, and
runs in an east and west direction.  From local circumstances,
the sea-breeze blows very regularly during the day,
and during the night it falls calm: this has given rise to
strange exaggerations, for the phenomenon, as described to
us at S. Carlos, was quite a prodigy.

The road to Cucao was so very bad that we determined to
embark in a periagua.  The commandant, in the most authoritative
manner, ordered six Indians to get ready to pull
us over, without deigning to tell them whether they would
be paid.  The periagua is a strange rough boat, but the crew
were still stranger: I doubt if six uglier little men ever got
into a boat together.  They pulled, however, very well and
cheerfully.  The stroke-oarsman gabbled Indian, and uttered
strange cries, much after the fashion of a pig-driver driving
his pigs.  We started with a light breeze against us, but yet
reached the Capella de Cucao before it was late.  The country
on each side of the lake was one unbroken forest.  In the
same periagua with us, a cow was embarked.  To get so
large an animal into a small boat appears at first a difficulty,
but the Indians managed it in a minute.  They brought the
cow alongside the boat, which was heeled towards her; then
placing two oars under her belly, with their ends resting on
the gunwale, by the aid of these levers they fairly tumbled
the poor beast heels over head into the bottom of the boat,
and then lashed her down with ropes.  At Cucao we found
an uninhabited hovel (which is the residence of the padre
when he pays this Capella a visit), where, lighting a fire, we
cooked our supper, and were very comfortable.

The district of Cucao is the only inhabited part on the
whole west coast of Chiloe.  It contains about thirty or forty
Indian families, who are scattered along four or five miles
of the shore.  They are very much secluded from the rest of
Chiloe, and have scarcely any sort of commerce, except
sometimes in a little oil, which they get from seal-blubber.
They are tolerably dressed in clothes of their own manufacture,
and they have plenty to eat.  They seemed, however,
discontented, yet humble to a degree which it was quite painful
to witness.  These feelings are, I think, chiefly to be
attributed to the harsh and authoritative manner in which
they are treated by their rulers.  Our companions, although
so very civil to us, behaved to the poor Indians as if they
had been slaves, rather than free men.  They ordered provisions
and the use of their horses, without ever condescending
to say how much, or indeed whether the owners should
be paid at all.  In the morning, being left alone with these
poor people, we soon ingratiated ourselves by presents of
cigars and mate.  A lump of white sugar was divided between
all present, and tasted with the greatest curiosity.  The
Indians ended all their complaints by saying, "And it is only
because we are poor Indians, and know nothing; but it was
not so when we had a King."

The next day after breakfast, we rode a few miles northward
to Punta Huantamo.  The road lay along a very broad
beach, on which, even after so many fine days, a terrible surf
was breaking.  I was assured that after a heavy gale, the
roar can be heard at night even at Castro, a distance of no
less than twenty-one sea-miles across a hilly and wooded
country.  We had some difficulty in reaching the point, owing
to the intolerably bad paths; for everywhere in the shade
the ground soon becomes a perfect quagmire.  The point
itself is a bold rocky hill.  It is covered by a plant allied, I
believe, to Bromelia, and called by the inhabitants Chepones.
In scrambling through the beds, our hands were very much
scratched.  I was amused by observing the precaution our
Indian guide took, in turning up his trousers, thinking that
they were more delicate than his own hard skin.  This plant
bears a fruit, in shape like an artichoke, in which a number
of seed-vessels are packed: these contain a pleasant sweet
pulp, here much esteemed.  I saw at Low's Harbour the
Chilotans making chichi, or cider, with this fruit: so true is
it, as Humboldt remarks, that almost everywhere man finds
means of preparing some kind of beverage from the vegetable
kingdom.  The savages, however, of Tierra del Fuego,
and I believe of Australia, have not advanced thus far in
the arts.

The coast to the north of Punta Huantamo is exceedingly
rugged and broken, and is fronted by many breakers, on
which the sea is eternally roaring.  Mr. King and myself
were anxious to return, if it had been possible, on foot along
this coast; but even the Indians said it was quite
impracticable.  We were told that men have crossed by striking
directly through the woods from Cucao to S. Carlos, but
never by the coast.  On these expeditions, the Indians carry
with them only roasted corn, and of this they eat sparingly
twice a day.

26th. — Re-embarking in the periagua, we returned across
the lake, and then mounted our horses.  The whole of Chiloe
took advantage of this week of unusually fine weather, to
clear the ground by burning.  In every direction volumes of
smoke were curling upwards.  Although the inhabitants were
so assiduous in setting fire to every part of the wood, yet
I did not see a single fire which they had succeeded in making
extensive.  We dined with our friend the commandant,
and did not reach Castro till after dark.  The next morning
we started very early.  After having ridden for some time,
we obtained from the brow of a steep hill an extensive view
(and it is a rare thing on this road) of the great forest.
Over the horizon of trees, the volcano of Corcovado, and
the great flat-topped one to the north, stood out in proud
pre-eminence: scarcely another peak in the long range
showed its snowy summit.  I hope it will be long before I
forget this farewell view of the magnificent Cordillera fronting
Chiloe.  At night we bivouacked under a cloudless sky,
and the next morning reached S. Carlos.  We arrived on the
right day, for before evening heavy rain commenced.

February 4th. — Sailed from Chiloe.  During the last week
I made several short excursions.  One was to examine a
great bed of now-existing shells, elevated 350 feet above
the level of the sea: from among these shells, large forest-
trees were growing.  Another ride was to P. Huechucucuy.
I had with me a guide who knew the country far too well;
for he would pertinaciously tell me endless Indian names for
every little point, rivulet, and creek.  In the same manner as
in Tierra del Fuego, the Indian language appears singularly
well adapted for attaching names to the most trivial features
of the land.  I believe every one was glad to say farewell
to Chiloe; yet if we could forget the gloom and ceaseless
rain of winter, Chiloe might pass for a charming island.
There is also something very attractive in the simplicity and
humble politeness of the poor inhabitants.

We steered northward along shore, but owing to thick
weather did not reach Valdivia till the night of the 8th.  The
next morning the boat proceeded to the town, which is distant
about ten miles.  We followed the course of the river,
occasionally passing a few hovels, and patches of ground
cleared out of the otherwise unbroken forest; and sometimes
meeting a canoe with an Indian family.  The town is situated
on the low banks of the stream, and is so completely
buried in a wood of apple-trees that the streets are merely
paths in an orchard I have never seen any country, where
apple-trees appeared to thrive so well as in this damp part of
South America: on the borders of the roads there were
many young trees evidently self-grown.  In Chiloe the inhabitants
possess a marvellously short method of making an
orchard.  At the lower part of almost every branch, small,
conical, brown, wrinkled points project: these are always
ready to change into roots, as may sometimes be seen, where
any mud has been accidentally splashed against the tree.  A
branch as thick as a man's thigh is chosen in the early spring,
and is cut off just beneath a group of these points, all the
smaller branches are lopped off, and it is then placed about
two feet deep in the ground.  During the ensuing summer
the stump throws out long shoots, and sometimes even bears
fruit: I was shown one which had produced as many as
twenty-three apples, but this was thought very unusual.  In
the third season the stump is changed (as I have myself
seen) into a well-wooded tree, loaded with fruit.  An old
man near Valdivia illustrated his motto, "Necesidad es la
madre del invencion," by giving an account of the several
useful things he manufactured from his apples.  After making
cider, and likewise wine, he extracted from the refuse a
white and finely flavoured spirit; by another process he
procured a sweet treacle, or, as he called it, honey.  His
children and pigs seemed almost to live, during this season of
the year, in his orchard.

February 11th. — I set out with a guide on a short ride, in
which, however, I managed to see singularly little, either
of the geology of the country or of its inhabitants.  There
is not much cleared land near Valdivia: after crossing a
river at the distance of a few miles, we entered the forest, and
then passed only one miserable hovel, before reaching our
sleeping-place for the night.  The short difference in latitude,
of 150 miles, has given a new aspect to the forest compared
with that of Chiloe.  This is owing to a slightly
different proportion in the kinds of trees.  The evergreens
do not appear to be quite so numerous, and the forest in
consequence has a brighter tint.  As in Chiloe, the lower
parts are matted together by canes: here also another kind
(resembling the bamboo of Brazil and about twenty feet in
height) grows in clusters, and ornaments the banks of some
of the streams in a very pretty manner.  It is with this plant
that the Indians make their chuzos, or long tapering spears.
Our resting-house was so dirty that I preferred sleeping
outside: on these journeys the first night is generally very
uncomfortable, because one is not accustomed to the tickling
and biting of the fleas.  I am sure, in the morning, there
was not a space on my legs the size of a shilling which had
not its little red mark where the flea had feasted.

12th. — We continued to ride through the uncleared forest;
only occasionally meeting an Indian on horseback, or a troop
of fine mules bringing alerce-planks and corn from the southern
plains.  In the afternoon one of the horses knocked up:
we were then on a brow of a hill, which commanded a fine
view of the Llanos.  The view of these open plains was very
refreshing, after being hemmed in and buried in the wilderness
of trees.  The uniformity of a forest soon becomes very
wearisome.  This west coast makes me remember with pleasure
the free, unbounded plains of Patagonia; yet, with the
true spirit of contradiction, I cannot forget how sublime is
the silence of the forest.  The Llanos are the most fertile
and thickly peopled parts of the country, as they possess the
immense advantage of being nearly free from trees.  Before
leaving the forest we crossed some flat little lawns, around
which single trees stood, as in an English park: I have often
noticed with surprise, in wooded undulatory districts, that
the quite level parts have been destitute of trees.  On account
of the tired horse, I determined to stop at the Mission
of Cudico, to the friar of which I had a letter of introduction.
Cudico is an intermediate district between the forest
and the Llanos.  There are a good many cottages, with
patches of corn and potatoes, nearly all belonging to Indians.
The tribes dependent on Valdivia are "reducidos y cristianos."
The Indians farther northward, about Arauco and
Imperial, are still very wild, and not converted; but they
have all much intercourse with the Spaniards.  The padre
said that the Christian Indians did not much like coming
to mass, but that otherwise they showed respect for religion.
The greatest difficulty is in making them observe the ceremonies
of marriage.  The wild Indians take as many wives
as they can support, and a cacique will sometimes have more
than ten: on entering his house, the number may be told by
that of the separate fires.  Each wife lives a week in turn
with the cacique; but all are employed in weaving ponchos,
etc., for his profit.  To be the wife of a cacique, is an honour
much sought after by the Indian women.

The men of all these tribes wear a coarse woolen poncho:
those south of Valdivia wear short trousers, and those north
of it a petticoat, like the chilipa of the Gauchos.  All have
their long hair bound by a scarlet fillet, but with no other
covering on their heads.  These Indians are good-sized men;
their cheek-bones are prominent, and in general appearance
they resemble the great American family to which they belong;
but their physiognomy seemed to me to be slightly
different from that of any other tribe which I had before
seen.  Their expression is generally grave, and even austere,
and possesses much character: this may pass either for honest
bluntness or fierce determination.  The long black hair,
the grave and much-lined features, and the dark complexion,
called to my mind old portraits of James I.  On the road we
met with none of that humble politeness so universal in
Chiloe.  Some gave their "mari-mari" (good morning) with
promptness, but the greater number did not seem inclined to
offer any salute.  This independence of manners is probably
a consequence of their long wars, and the repeated victories
which they alone, of all the tribes in America, have gained
over the Spaniards.

I spent the evening very pleasantly, talking with the
padre.  He was exceedingly kind and hospitable; and coming
from Santiago, had contrived to surround himself with some
few comforts.  Being a man of some little education, he bitterly
complained of the total want of society.  With no particular
zeal for religion, no business or pursuit, how completely
must this man's life be wasted!  The next day, on
our return, we met seven very wild-looking Indians, of whom
some were caciques that had just received from the Chilian
government their yearly small stipend for having long remained
faithful.  They were fine-looking men, and they rode
one after the other, with most gloomy faces.  An old cacique,
who headed them, had been, I suppose, more excessively
drunk than the rest, for he seemed extremely grave and
very crabbed.  Shortly before this, two Indians joined us,
who were travelling from a distant mission to Valdivia
concerning some lawsuit.  One was a good-humoured old man,
but from his wrinkled beardless face looked more like an
old woman than a man.  I frequently presented both of them
with cigars; and though ready to receive them, and I dare
say grateful, they would hardly condescend to thank me.  A
Chilotan Indian would have taken off his hat, and given his
"Dios le page!" The travelling was very tedious, both
from the badness of the roads, and from the number of great
fallen trees, which it was necessary either to leap over or to
avoid by making long circuits.  We slept on the road, and
next morning reached Valdivia, whence I proceeded on
board.

A few days afterwards I crossed the bay with a party of
officers, and landed near the fort called Niebla.  The buildings
were in a most ruinous state, and the gun-carriages
quite rotten.  Mr. Wickham remarked to the commanding
officer, that with one discharge they would certainly all fall
to pieces.  The poor man, trying to put a good face upon it,
gravely replied, "No, I am sure, sir, they would stand
two!" The Spaniards must have intended to have made this
place impregnable.  There is now lying in the middle of the
court-yard a little mountain of mortar, which rivals in hardness
the rock on which it is placed.  It was brought from
Chile, and cost 7000 dollars.  The revolution having broken
out, prevented its being applied to any purpose, and now it
remains a monument of the fallen greatness of Spain.

I wanted to go to a house about a mile and a half distant,
but my guide said it was quite impossible to penetrate the
wood in a straight line.  He offered, however, to lead me, by
following obscure cattle-tracks, the shortest way: the walk,
nevertheless, took no less than three hours!  This man is
employed in hunting strayed cattle; yet, well as he must
know the woods, he was not long since lost for two whole
days, and had nothing to eat.  These facts convey a good
idea of the impracticability of the forests of these countries.
A question often occurred to me — how long does any vestige
of a fallen tree remain?  This man showed me one which
a party of fugitive royalists had cut down fourteen years
ago; and taking this as a criterion, I should think a bole a
foot and a half in diameter would in thirty years be changed
into a heap of mould.

February 20th. — This day has been memorable in the
annals of Valdivia, for the most severe earthquake experienced
by the oldest inhabitant.  I happened to be on shore,
and was lying down in the wood to rest myself.  It came on
suddenly, and lasted two minutes, but the time appeared
much longer.  The rocking of the ground was very sensible.
The undulations appeared to my companion and myself to
come from due east, whilst others thought they proceeded
from south-west: this shows how difficult it sometimes is to
perceive the directions of the vibrations.  There was no
difficulty in standing upright, but the motion made me almost
giddy: it was something like the movement of a vessel in a
little cross-ripple, or still more like that felt by a person
skating over thin ice, which bends under the weight of his body.
A bad earthquake at once destroys our oldest associations:
the earth, the very emblem of solidity, has moved beneath
our feet like a thin crust over a fluid; — one second of time
has created in the mind a strange idea of insecurity, which
hours of reflection would not have produced.  In the forest,
as a breeze moved the trees, I felt only the earth tremble, but
saw no other effect.  Captain Fitz Roy and some officers
were at the town during the shock, and there the scene was
more striking; for although the houses, from being built of
wood, did not fall, they were violently shaken, and the boards
creaked and rattled together.  The people rushed out of
doors in the greatest alarm.  It is these accompaniments that
create that perfect horror of earthquakes, experienced by all
who have thus seen, as well as felt, their effects.  Within the
forest it was a deeply interesting, but by no means an awe-
exciting phenomenon.  The tides were very curiously affected.
The great shock took place at the time of low water;
and an old woman who was on the beach told me that the
water flowed very quickly, but not in great waves, to high-
water mark, and then as quickly returned to its proper level;
this was also evident by the line of wet sand.  The same kind
of quick but quiet movement in the tide happened a few
years since at Chiloe, during a slight earthquake, and created
much causeless alarm.  In the course of the evening there
were many weaker shocks, which seemed to produce in the
harbour the most complicated currents, and some of great
strength.


March 4th. — We entered the harbour of Concepcion.  While
the ship was beating up to the anchorage, I landed on the
island of Quiriquina.  The mayor-domo of the estate quickly
rode down to tell me the terrible news of the great earthquake
of the 20th: — "That not a house in Concepcion or
Talcahuano (the port) was standing; that seventy villages
were destroyed; and that a great wave had almost washed
away the ruins of Talcahuano." Of this latter statement I
soon saw abundant proofs — the whole coast being strewed
over with timber and furniture as if a thousand ships had
been wrecked.  Besides chairs, tables, book-shelves, etc., in
great numbers, there were several roofs of cottages, which
had been transported almost whole.  The storehouses at Talcahuano
had been burst open, and great bags of cotton, yerba,
and other valuable merchandise were scattered on the shore.
During my walk round the island, I observed that numerous
fragments of rock, which, from the marine productions adhering
to them, must recently have been lying in deep water,
had been cast up high on the beach; one of these was six feet
long, three broad, and two thick.

The island itself as plainly showed the overwhelming
power of the earthquake, as the beach did that of the consequent
great wave.  The ground in many parts was fissured
in north and south lines, perhaps caused by the yielding of
the parallel and steep sides of this narrow island.  Some of
the fissures near the cliffs were a yard wide.  Many enormous
masses had already fallen on the beach; and the inhabitants
thought that when the rains commenced far greater slips would
happen.  The effect of the vibration on the hard primary slate,
which composes the foundation of the island, was still more
curious: the superficial parts of some narrow ridges were as
completely shivered as if they had been blasted by gunpowder.
This effect, which was rendered conspicuous by the
fresh fractures and displaced soil, must be confined to near
the surface, for otherwise there would not exist a block of
solid rock throughout Chile; nor is this improbable, as it is
known that the surface of a vibrating body is affected
differently from the central part.  It is, perhaps, owing to this
same reason, that earthquakes do not cause quite such terrific
havoc within deep mines as would be expected.  I believe this
convulsion has been more effectual in lessening the size of
the island of Quiriquina, than the ordinary wear-and-tear
of the sea and weather during the course of a whole century.

The next day I landed at Talcahuano, and afterwards rode
to Concepcion.  Both towns presented the most awful yet
interesting spectacle I ever beheld.  To a person who had
formerly know them, it possibly might have been still more
impressive; for the ruins were so mingled together, and the
whole scene possessed so little the air of a habitable place,
that it was scarcely possible to imagine its former condition.
The earthquake commenced at half-past eleven o'clock in the
forenoon.  If it had happened in the middle of the night, the
greater number of the inhabitants (which in this one province
must amount to many thousands) must have perished,
instead of less than a hundred: as it was, the invariable
practice of running out of doors at the first trembling of the
ground, alone saved them.  In Concepcion each house, or
row of houses, stood by itself, a heap or line of ruins; but in
Talcahuano, owing to the great wave, little more than one
layer of bricks, tiles, and timber with here and there part of
a wall left standing, could be distinguished.  From this
circumstance Concepcion, although not so completely desolated,
was a more terrible, and if I may so call it, picturesque sight.
The first shock was very sudden.  The mayor-domo at Quiriquina
told me, that the first notice he received of it, was
finding both the horse he rode and himself, rolling together
on the ground.  Rising up, he was again thrown down.  He
also told me that some cows which were standing on the steep
side of the island were rolled into the sea.  The great wave
caused the destruction of many cattle; on one low island
near the head of the bay, seventy animals were washed off
and drowned.  It is generally thought that this has been the
worst earthquake ever recorded in Chile; but as the very
severe ones occur only after long intervals, this cannot easily
be known; nor indeed would a much worse shock have made
any difference, for the ruin was now complete.  Innumerable
small tremblings followed the great earthquake, and within
the first twelve days no less than three hundred were counted.

After viewing Concepcion, I cannot understand how the
greater number of inhabitants escaped unhurt.  The houses
in many parts fell outwards; thus forming in the middle of
the streets little hillocks of brickwork and rubbish.  Mr.
Rouse, the English consul, told us that he was at breakfast
when the first movement warned him to run out.  He had
scarcely reached the middle of the court-yard, when one side
of his house came thundering down.  He retained presence
of mind to remember, that if he once got on the top of that
part which had already fallen, he would be safe.  Not being
able from the motion of the ground to stand, he crawled up
on his hands and knees; and no sooner had he ascended this
little eminence, than the other side of the house fell in, the
great beams sweeping close in front of his head.  With his
eyes blinded, and his mouth choked with the cloud of dust
which darkened the sky, at last he gained the street.  As
shock succeeded shock, at the interval of a few minutes, no
one dared approach the shattered ruins, and no one knew
whether his dearest friends and relations were not perishing
from the want of help.  Those who had saved any property
were obliged to keep a constant watch, for thieves
prowled about, and at each little trembling of the ground,
with one hand they beat their breasts and cried "Misericordia!"
and then with the other filched what they could
from the ruins.  The thatched roofs fell over the fires, and
flames burst forth in all parts.  Hundreds knew themselves
ruined, and few had the means of providing food for the day.

Earthquakes alone are sufficient to destroy the prosperity
of any country.  If beneath England the now inert subterranean
forces should exert those powers, which most assuredly
in former geological ages they have exerted, how completely
would the entire condition of the country be changed!
What would become of the lofty houses, thickly packed cities,
great manufactories, the beautiful public and private edifices?
If the new period of disturbance were first to commence
by some great earthquake in the dead of the night,
how terrific would be the carnage!  England would at once
be bankrupt; all papers, records, and accounts would from
that moment be lost.  Government being unable to collect
the taxes, and failing to maintain its authority, the hand of
violence and rapine would remain uncontrolled.  In every
large town famine would go forth, pestilence and death following
in its train.

Shortly after the shock, a great wave was seen from the
distance of three or four miles, approaching in the middle
of the bay with a smooth outline; but along the shore it tore
up cottages and trees, as it swept onwards with irresistible
force.  At the head of the bay it broke in a fearful line of
white breakers, which rushed up to a height of 23 vertical
feet above the highest spring-tides.  Their force must have
been prodigious; for at the Fort a cannon with its carriage,
estimated at four tons in weight, was moved 15 feet inwards.
A schooner was left in the midst of the ruins, 200 yards
from the beach.  The first wave was followed by two others,
which in their retreat carried away a vast wreck of floating
objects.  In one part of the bay, a ship was pitched high
and dry on shore, was carried off, again driven on shore, and
again carried off.  In another part, two large vessels anchored
near together were whirled about, and their cables were thrice
wound round each other; though anchored at a depth of 36
feet, they were for some minutes aground.  The great wave
must have travelled slowly, for the inhabitants of Talcahuano
had time to run up the hills behind the town; and
some sailors pulled out seaward, trusting successfully to their
boat riding securely over the swell, if they could reach it
before it broke.  One old woman with a little boy, four or
five years old, ran into a boat, but there was nobody to row
it out: the boat was consequently dashed against an anchor
and cut in twain; the old woman was drowned, but the child
was picked up some hours afterwards clinging to the wreck.
Pools of salt-water were still standing amidst the ruins of
the houses, and children, making boats with old tables and
chairs, appeared as happy as their parents were miserable.
It was, however, exceedingly interesting to observe, how
much more active and cheerful all appeared than could have
been expected.  It was remarked with much truth, that from
the destruction being universal, no one individual was humbled
more than another, or could suspect his friends of coldness
— that most grievous result of the loss of wealth.  Mr. Rouse,
and a large party whom he kindly took under his protection,
lived for the first week in a garden beneath some apple-trees.
At first they were as merry as if it had been a picnic; but
soon afterwards heavy rain caused much discomfort, for they
were absolutely without shelter.

In Captain Fitz Roy's excellent account of the earthquake,
it is said that two explosions, one like a column of smoke and
another like the blowing of a great whale, were seen in the
bay.  The water also appeared everywhere to be boiling; and
it "became black, and exhaled a most disagreeable sulphureous
smell." These latter circumstances were observed in the
Bay of Valparaiso during the earthquake of 1822; they may,
I think, be accounted for, by the disturbance of the mud at
the bottom of the sea containing organic matter in decay.  In
the Bay of Callao, during a calm day, I noticed, that as the
ship dragged her cable over the bottom, its course was marked
by a line of bubbles.  The lower orders in Talcahuano thought
that the earthquake was caused by some old Indian women,
who two years ago, being offended, stopped the volcano of
Antuco.  This silly belief is curious, because it shows that
experience has taught them to observe, that there exists a
relation between the suppressed action of the volcanos, and
the trembling of the ground.  It was necessary to apply the
witchcraft to the point where their perception of cause and
effect failed; and this was the closing of the volcanic vent.
This belief is the more singular in this particular instance,
because, according to Captain Fitz Roy, there is reason to
believe that Antuco was noways affected.

The town of Concepcion was built in the usual Spanish
fashion, with all the streets running at right angles to each
other; one set ranging S.W. by W., and the other set N.W.
by N.  The walls in the former direction certainly stood
better than those in the latter; the greater number of the
masses of brickwork were thrown down towards the N.E.
Both these circumstances perfectly agree with the general
idea, of the undulations having come from the S.W., in which
quarter subterranean noises were also heard; for it is evident
that the walls running S.W. and N.E. which presented their
ends to the point whence the undulations came, would be
much less likely to fall than those walls which, running N.W.
and S.E., must in their whole lengths have been at the same
instant thrown out of the perpendicular; for the undulations,
coming from the S.W., must have extended in N.W. and
S.E. waves, as they passed under the foundations.  This may
be illustrated by placing books edgeways on a carpet, and
then, after the manner suggested by Michell, imitating the
undulations of an earthquake: it will be found that they fall
with more or less readiness, according as their direction more
or less nearly coincides with the line of the waves.  The
fissures in the ground generally, though not uniformly, extended
in a S.E. and N.W. direction, and therefore corresponded
to the lines of undulation or of principal flexure.  Bearing in
mind all these circumstances, which so clearly point to the
S.W. as the chief focus of disturbance, it is a very interesting
fact that the island of S. Maria, situated in that quarter, was,
during the general uplifting of the land, raised to nearly
three times the height of any other part of the coast.

The different resistance offered by the walls, according to
their direction, was well exemplified in the case of the
Cathedral.  The side which fronted the N.E. presented a grand
pile of ruins, in the midst of which door-cases and masses
of timber stood up, as if floating in a stream.  Some of the
angular blocks of brickwork were of great dimensions; and
they were rolled to a distance on the level plaza, like
fragments of rock at the base of some high mountain.  The side
walls (running S.W. and N.E.), though exceedingly fractured,
yet remained standing; but the vast buttresses (at
right angles to them, and therefore parallel to the walls that
fell) were in many cases cut clean off, as if by a chisel, and
hurled to the ground.  Some square ornaments on the coping
of these same walls, were moved by the earthquake into
a diagonal position.  A similar circumstance was observed
after an earthquake at Valparaiso, Calabria, and other places,
including some of the ancient Greek temples. [1] This twisting
displacement, at first appears to indicate a vorticose
movement beneath each point thus affected; but this is highly
improbable.  May it not be caused by a tendency in each stone
to arrange itself in some particular position, with respect
to the lines of vibration, — in a manner somewhat similar to
pins on a sheet of paper when shaken?  Generally speaking,
arched doorways or windows stood much better than any
other part of the buildings.  Nevertheless, a poor lame old
man, who had been in the habit, during trifling shocks, of
crawling to a certain doorway, was this time crushed to
pieces.

I have not attempted to give any detailed description of
the appearance of Concepcion, for I feel that it is quite
impossible to convey the mingled feelings which I experienced.
Several of the officers visited it before me, but their
strongest language failed to give a just idea of the scene of
desolation.  It is a bitter and humiliating thing to see works,
which have cost man so much time and labour, overthrown in one
minute; yet compassion for the inhabitants was almost instantly
banished, by the surprise in seeing a state of things produced
in a moment of time, which one was accustomed to attribute
to a succession of ages.  In my opinion, we have scarcely beheld,
since leaving England, any sight so deeply interesting.

In almost every severe earthquake, the neighbouring waters
of the sea are said to have been greatly agitated.  The
disturbance seems generally, as in the case of Concepcion, to
have been of two kinds: first, at the instant of the shock,
the water swells high up on the beach with a gentle motion,
and then as quietly retreats; secondly, some time afterwards,
the whole body of the sea retires from the coast, and then
returns in waves of overwhelming force.  The first movement
seems to be an immediate consequence of the earthquake
affecting differently a fluid and a solid, so that their
respective levels are slightly deranged: but the second case
is a far more important phenomenon.  During most earthquakes,
and especially during those on the west coast of
America, it is certain that the first great movement of the
waters has been a retirement.  Some authors have attempted
to explain this, by supposing that the water retains its level,
whilst the land oscillates upwards; but surely the water close
to the land, even on a rather steep coast, would partake of the
motion of the bottom: moreover, as urged by Mr. Lyell,
similar movements of the sea have occurred at islands far
distant from the chief line of disturbance, as was the case
with Juan Fernandez during this earthquake, and with
Madeira during the famous Lisbon shock.  I suspect (but the
subject is a very obscure one) that a wave, however produced,
first draws the water from the shore, on which it is advancing
to break: I have observed that this happens with the little
waves from the paddles of a steam-boat.  It is remarkable
that whilst Talcahuano and Callao (near Lima), both situated
at the head of large shallow bays, have suffered during
every severe earthquake from great waves, Valparaiso,
seated close to the edge of profoundly deep water, has never
been overwhelmed, though so often shaken by the severest
shocks.  From the great wave not immediately following the
earthquake, but sometimes after the interval of even half an
hour, and from distant islands being affected similarly with
the coasts near the focus of the disturbance, it appears that
the wave first rises in the offing; and as this is of general
occurrence, the cause must be general: I suspect we must
look to the line, where the less disturbed waters of the deep
ocean join the water nearer the coast, which has partaken
of the movements of the land, as the place where the great
wave is first generated; it would also appear that the wave
is larger or smaller, according to the extent of shoal water
which has been agitated together with the bottom on which it
rested.


The most remarkable effect of this earthquake was the permanent
elevation of the land, it would probably be far more
correct to speak of it as the cause.  There can be no doubt
that the land round the Bay of Concepcion was upraised
two or three feet; but it deserves notice, that owing to the
wave having obliterated the old lines of tidal action on the
sloping sandy shores, I could discover no evidence of this
fact, except in the united testimony of the inhabitants, that
one little rocky shoal, now exposed, was formerly covered
with water.  At the island of S. Maria (about thirty miles
distant) the elevation was greater; on one part, Captain Fitz
Roy founds beds of putrid mussel-shells still adhering to the
rocks, ten feet above high-water mark: the inhabitants had
formerly dived at lower-water spring-tides for these shells.
The elevation of this province is particularly interesting,
from its having been the theatre of several other violent
earthquakes, and from the vast numbers of sea-shells scattered
over the land, up to a height of certainly 600, and I
believe, of 1000 feet.  At Valparaiso, as I have remarked,
similar shells are found at the height of 1300 feet: it is
hardly possible to doubt that this great elevation has been
effected by successive small uprisings, such as that which
accompanied or caused the earthquake of this year, and likewise
by an insensibly slow rise, which is certainly in progress on
some parts of this coast.

The island of Juan Fernandez, 360 miles to the N.E., was,
at the time of the great shock of the 20th, violently shaken,
so that the trees beat against each other, and a volcano burst
forth under water close to the shore: these facts are remarkable
because this island, during the earthquake of 1751, was
then also affected more violently than other places at an equal
distance from Concepcion, and this seems to show some
subterranean connection between these two points.  Chiloe, about
340 miles southward of Concepcion, appears to have been
shaken more strongly than the intermediate district of Valdivia,
where the volcano of Villarica was noways affected,
whilst in the Cordillera in front of Chiloe, two of the volcanos
burst-forth at the same instant in violent action.  These
two volcanos, and some neighbouring ones, continued for a
long time in eruption, and ten months afterwards were
again influenced by an earthquake at Concepcion.  Some
men, cutting wood near the base of one of these volcanos,
did not perceive the shock of the 20th, although the whole
surrounding Province was then trembling; here we have an
eruption relieving and taking the place of an earthquake,
as would have happened at Concepcion, according to the
belief of the lower orders, if the volcano at Antuco had not
been closed by witchcraft.  Two years and three-quarters
afterwards, Valdivia and Chiloe were again shaken, more
violently than on the 20th, and an island in the Chonos
Archipelago was permanently elevated more than eight feet.
It will give a better idea of the scale of these phenomena, if
(as in the case of the glaciers) we suppose them to have
taken place at corresponding distances in Europe: — then
would the land from the North Sea to the Mediterranean
have been violently shaken, and at the same instant of time a
large tract of the eastern coast of England would have been
permanently elevated, together with some outlying islands, — a
train of volcanos on the coast of Holland would have burst
forth in action, and an eruption taken place at the bottom of
the sea, near the northern extremity of Ireland — and lastly,
the ancient vents of Auvergne, Cantal, and Mont d'Or would
each have sent up to the sky a dark column of smoke, and
have long remained in fierce action.  Two years and three-
quarters afterwards, France, from its centre to the English
Channel, would have been again desolated by an earthquake
and an island permanently upraised in the Mediterranean.

The space, from under which volcanic matter on the 20th
was actually erupted, is 720 miles in one line, and 400 miles
in another line at right angles to the first: hence, in all
probability, a subterranean lake of lava is here stretched out,
of nearly double the area of the Black Sea.  From the intimate
and complicated manner in which the elevatory and eruptive
forces were shown to be connected during this train of
phenomena, we may confidently come to the conclusion, that the
forces which slowly and by little starts uplift continents, and
those which at successive periods pour forth volcanic matter
from open orifices, are identical.  From many reasons, I
believe that the frequent quakings of the earth on this line
of coast are caused by the rending of the strata, necessarily
consequent on the tension of the land when upraised, and
their injection by fluidified rock.  This rending and injection
would, if repeated often enough (and we know that earthquakes
repeatedly affect the same areas in the same manner),
form a chain of hills; — and the linear island of S. Mary,
which was upraised thrice the height of the neighbouring
country, seems to be undergoing this process.  I believe that
the solid axis of a mountain, differs in its manner of formation
from a volcanic hill, only in the molten stone having
been repeatedly injected, instead of having been repeatedly
ejected.  Moreover, I believe that it is impossible to explain
the structure of great mountain-chains, such as that of the
Cordillera, were the strata, capping the injected axis of
plutonic rock, have been thrown on their edges along several
parallel and neighbouring lines of elevation, except on this
view of the rock of the axis having been repeatedly injected,
after intervals sufficiently long to allow the upper parts or
wedges to cool and become solid; — for if the strata had been
thrown into their present highly inclined, vertical, and even
inverted positions, by a single blow, the very bowels of the
earth would have gushed out; and instead of beholding abrupt
mountain-axes of rock solidified under great pressure, deluges
of lava would have flowed out at innumerable points on every
line of elevation. [2]

[1] M. Arago in L'Institut, 1839, p. 337. See also Miers's
Chile, vol. i. p. 392; also Lyell's Principles of Geology,
chap. xv., book ii.

[2] For a full account of the volcanic phenomena which
accompanied the earthquake of the 20th, and for the conclusions
deducible from them, I must refer to Volume V. of the Geological
Transactions.



CHAPTER XV

PASSAGE OF THE CORDILLERA

Valparaiso — Portillo Pass — Sagacity of Mules — Mountain-
torrents — Mines, how discovered — Proofs of the gradual
Elevation of the Cordillera — Effect of Snow on Rocks —
Geological Structure of the two main Ranges, their distinct
Origin and Upheaval — Great Subsidence — Red Snow —
Winds — Pinnacles of Snow — Dry and clear Atmosphere —
Electricity — Pampas — Zoology of the opposite Side of
the Andes — Locusts — Great Bugs — Mendoza — Uspallata
Pass — Silicified Trees buried as they grew — Incas Bridge —
Badness of the Passes exaggerated — Cumbre — Casuchas —
Valparaiso.


MARCH 7th, 1835. — We stayed three days at Concepcion,
and then sailed for Valparaiso.  The wind
being northerly, we only reached the mouth of the
harbour of Concepcion before it was dark.  Being very near
the land, and a fog coming on, the anchor was dropped.
Presently a large American whaler appeared alongside of us;
and we heard the Yankee swearing at his men to keep quiet,
whilst he listened for the breakers.  Captain Fitz Roy hailed
him, in a loud clear voice, to anchor where he then was.  The
poor man must have thought the voice came from the shore:
such a Babel of cries issued at once from the ship — every
one hallooing out, "Let go the anchor! veer cable! shorten
sail!" It was the most laughable thing I ever heard.  If
the ship's crew had been all captains, and no men, there could
not have been a greater uproar of orders.  We afterwards
found that the mate stuttered: I suppose all hands were
assisting him in giving his orders.

On the 11th we anchored at Valparaiso, and two days
afterwards I set out to cross the Cordillera.  I proceeded to
Santiago, where Mr. Caldcleugh most kindly assisted me in
every possible way in making the little preparations which
were necessary.  In this part of Chile there are two passes
across the Andes to Mendoza: the one most commonly used,
namely, that of Aconcagua or Uspallata — is situated some
way to the north; the other, called the Portillo, is to the
south, and nearer, but more lofty and dangerous.

March 18th. — We set out for the Portillo pass.  Leaving
Santiago we crossed the wide burnt-up plain on which that
city stands, and in the afternoon arrived at the Maypu, one
of the principal rivers in Chile.  The valley, at the point
where it enters the first Cordillera, is bounded on each side
by lofty barren mountains; and although not broad, it is very
fertile.  Numerous cottages were surrounded by vines, and by
orchards of apple, nectarine, and peach-trees — their boughs
breaking with the weight of the beautiful ripe fruit.  In the
evening we passed the custom-house, where our luggage was
examined.  The frontier of Chile is better guarded by the
Cordillera, than by the waters of the sea.  There are very
few valleys which lead to the central ranges, and the
mountains are quite impassable in other parts by beasts of
burden.  The custom-house officers were very civil, which
was perhaps partly owing to the passport which the President
of the Republic had given me; but I must express my admiration
at the natural politeness of almost every Chileno.  In
this instance, the contrast with the same class of men in
most other countries was strongly marked.  I may mention
an anecdote with which I was at the time much pleased: we
met near Mendoza a little and very fat negress, riding astride
on a mule.  She had a goitre so enormous that it was scarcely
possible to avoid gazing at her for a moment; but my two
companions almost instantly, by way of apology, made the
common salute of the country by taking off their hats.  Where
would one of the lower or higher classes in Europe, have
shown such feeling politeness to a poor and miserable object
of a degraded race?

At night we slept at a cottage.  Our manner of travelling
was delightfully independent.  In the inhabited parts we
bought a little firewood, hired pasture for the animals, and
bivouacked in the corner of the same field with them.  Carrying
an iron pot, we cooked and ate our supper under a
cloudless sky, and knew no trouble.  My companions were
Mariano Gonzales, who had formerly accompanied me in
Chile, and an "arriero," with his ten mules and a "madrina."
The madrina (or godmother) is a most important personage:

she is an old steady mare, with a little bell round her neck;
and wherever she goes, the mules, like good children, follow
her.  The affection of these animals for their madrinas saves
infinite trouble.  If several large troops are turned into one
field to graze, in the morning the muleteers have only to lead
the madrinas a little apart, and tinkle their bells; although
there may be two or three hundred together, each mule
immediately knows the bell of its own madrina, and comes to
her.  It is nearly impossible to lose an old mule; for if
detained for several hours by force, she will, by the power
of smell, like a dog, track out her companions, or rather the
madrina, for, according to the muleteer, she is the chief
object of affection.  The feeling, however, is not of an
individual nature; for I believe I am right in saying that any
animal with a bell will serve as a madrina.  In a troop each
animal carries on a level road, a cargo weighing 416 pounds
(more than 29 stone), but in a mountainous country 100
pounds less; yet with what delicate slim limbs, without any
proportional bulk of muscle, these animals support so great
a burden!  The mule always appears to me a most surprising
animal.  That a hybrid should possess more reason, memory,
obstinacy, social affection, powers of muscular endurance,
and length of life, than either of its parents, seems to
indicate that art has here outdone nature.  Of our ten animals,
six were intended for riding, and four for carrying cargoes,
each taking turn about.  We carried a good deal of food in
case we should be snowed up, as the season was rather late
for passing the Portillo.

March 19th. — We rode during this day to the last, and
therefore most elevated, house in the valley.  The number of
inhabitants became scanty; but wherever water could be
brought on the land, it was very fertile.  All the main valleys
in the Cordillera are characterized by having, on both sides, a
fringe or terrace of shingle and sand, rudely stratified, and
generally of considerable thickness.  These fringes evidently
once extended across the valleys and were united; and the
bottoms of the valleys in northern Chile, where there are no
streams, are thus smoothly filled up.  On these fringes the
roads are generally carried, for their surfaces are even, and
they rise, with a very gentle slope up the valleys: hence, also,
they are easily cultivated by irrigation.  They may be traced
up to a height of between 7000 and 9000 feet, where they
become hidden by the irregular piles of debris.  At the lower
end or mouths of the valleys, they are continuously united to
those land-locked plains (also formed of shingle) at the foot
of the main Cordillera, which I have described in a former
chapter as characteristic of the scenery of Chile, and which
were undoubtedly deposited when the sea penetrated Chile, as
it now does the more southern coasts.  No one fact in the
geology of South America, interested me more than these
terraces of rudely-stratified shingle.  They precisely resemble
in composition the matter which the torrents in each valley
would deposit, if they were checked in their course by any
cause, such as entering a lake or arm of the sea; but the
torrents, instead of depositing matter, are now steadily at
work wearing away both the solid rock and these alluvial
deposits, along the whole line of every main valley and side
valley.  It is impossible here to give the reasons, but I am
convinced that the shingle terraces were accumulated, during
the gradual elevation of the Cordillera, by the torrents
delivering, at successive levels, their detritus on the
beachheads of long narrow arms of the sea, first high up the
valleys, then lower and lower down as the land slowly rose.  If
this be so, and I cannot doubt it, the grand and broken chain
of the Cordillera, instead of having been suddenly thrown up,
as was till lately the universal, and still is the common
opinion of geologists, has been slowly upheaved in mass, in the
same gradual manner as the coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific
have risen within the recent period.  A multitude of facts in the
structure of the Cordillera, on this view receive a simple
explanation.

The rivers which flow in these valleys ought rather to be
called mountain-torrents.  Their inclination is very great,
and their water the colour of mud.  The roar which the
Maypu made, as it rushed over the great rounded fragments,
was like that of the sea.  Amidst the din of rushing waters,
the noise from the stones, as they rattled one over another,
was most distinctly audible even from a distance.  This rattling
noise, night and day, may be heard along the whole
course of the torrent.  The sound spoke eloquently to the
geologist; the thousands and thousands of stones, which,
striking against each other, made the one dull uniform sound,
were all hurrying in one direction.  It was like thinking on
time, where the minute that now glides past is irrevocable.
So was it with these stones; the ocean is their eternity, and
each note of that wild music told of one more step towards
their destiny.

It is not possible for the mind to comprehend, except by
a slow process, any effect which is produced by a cause repeated
so often, that the multiplier itself conveys an idea,
not more definite than the savage implies when he points to
the hairs of his head.  As often as I have seen beds of mud,
sand, and shingle, accumulated to the thickness of many
thousand feet, I have felt inclined to exclaim that causes,
such as the present rivers and the present beaches, could
never have ground down and produced such masses.  But, on
the other hand, when listening to the rattling noise of these
torrents, and calling to mind that whole races of animals have
passed away from the face of the earth, and that during this
whole period, night and day, these stones have gone rattling
onwards in their course, I have thought to myself, can any
mountains, any continent, withstand such waste?

In this part of the valley, the mountains on each side were
from 3000 to 6000 or 8000 feet high, with rounded outlines
and steep bare flanks.  The general colour of the rock was
dullish purple, and the stratification very distinct.  If the
scenery was not beautiful, it was remarkable and grand.  We
met during the day several herds of cattle, which men were
driving down from the higher valleys in the Cordillera.  This
sign of the approaching winter hurried our steps, more than
was convenient for geologizing.  The house where we slept
was situated at the foot of a mountain, on the summit of
which are the mines of S. Pedro de Nolasko.  Sir F. Head
marvels how mines have been discovered in such extraordinary
situations, as the bleak summit of the mountain of S.
Pedro de Nolasko.  In the first place, metallic veins in this
country are generally harder than the surrounding strata:
hence, during the gradual wear of the hills, they project
above the surface of the ground.  Secondly, almost every
labourer, especially in the northern parts of Chile, understands
something about the appearance of ores.  In the great
mining provinces of Coquimbo and Copiapo, firewood is very
scarce, and men search for it over every hill and dale; and
by this means nearly all the richest mines have there been
discovered.  Chanuncillo, from which silver to the value of
many hundred thousand pounds has been raised in the course
of a few years, was discovered by a man who threw a stone
at his loaded donkey, and thinking that it was very heavy, he
picked it up, and found it full of pure silver: the vein
occurred at no great distance, standing up like a wedge of
metal.  The miners, also, taking a crowbar with them, often
wander on Sundays over the mountains.  In this south part
of Chile, the men who drive cattle into the Cordillera, and
who frequent every ravine where there is a little pasture, are
the usual discoverers.

20th. — As we ascended the valley, the vegetation, with
the exception of a few pretty alpine flowers, became exceedingly
scanty, and of quadrupeds, birds, or insects, scarcely
one could be seen.  The lofty mountains, their summits
marked with a few patches of snow, stood well separated
from each other, the valleys being filled up with an immense
thickness of stratified alluvium.  The features in the scenery
of the Andes which struck me most, as contrasted with the
other mountain chains with which I am acquainted, were, —
the flat fringes sometimes expanding into narrow plains on
each side of the valleys, — the bright colours, chiefly red and
purple, of the utterly bare and precipitous hills of porphyry,
the grand and continuous wall-like dykes, — the plainly-
divided strata which, where nearly vertical, formed the
picturesque and wild central pinnacles, but where less inclined,
composed the great massive mountains on the outskirts of the
range, — and lastly, the smooth conical piles of fine and
brightly coloured detritus, which sloped up at a high angle
from the base of the mountains, sometimes to a height of
more than 2000 feet.

I frequently observed, both in Tierra del Fuego and within
the Andes, that where the rock was covered during the greater
part of the year with snow, it was shivered in a very
extraordinary manner into small angular fragments.  Scoresby [1]
has observed the same fact in Spitzbergen.  The case
appears to me rather obscure: for that part of the mountain
which is protected by a mantle of snow, must be less subject
to repeated and great changes of temperature than any other
part.  I have sometimes thought, that the earth and fragments
of stone on the surface, were perhaps less effectually
removed by slowly percolating snow-water [2] than by rain, and
therefore that the appearance of a quicker disintegration of
the solid rock under the snow, was deceptive.  Whatever the
cause may be, the quantity of crumbling stone on the Cordillera
is very great.  Occasionally in the spring, great masses
of this detritus slide down the mountains, and cover the
snow-drifts in the valleys, thus forming natural ice-houses.
We rode over one, the height of which was far below the
limit of perpetual snow.

As the evening drew to a close, we reached a singular
basin-like plain, called the Valle del Yeso.  It was covered
by a little dry pasture, and we had the pleasant sight of a
herd of cattle amidst the surrounding rocky deserts.  The
valley takes its name of Yeso from a great bed, I should think
at least 2000 feet thick, of white, and in some parts quite
pure, gypsum.  We slept with a party of men, who were
employed in loading mules with this substance, which is used
in the manufacture of wine.  We set out early in the morning
(21st), and continued to follow the course of the river, which
had become very small, till we arrived at the foot of the ridge,
that separates the waters flowing into the Pacific and Atlantic
Oceans.  The road, which as yet had been good with a steady
but very gradual ascent, now changed into a steep zigzag
track up the great range, dividing the republics of Chile
and Mendoza.

I will here give a very brief sketch of the geology of the
several parallel lines forming the Cordillera.  Of these lines,
there are two considerably higher than the others; namely,
on the Chilian side, the Peuquenes ridge, which, where the
road crosses it, is 13,210 feet above the sea; and the Portillo
ridge, on the Mendoza side, which is 14,305 feet.  The lower
beds of the Peuquenes ridge, and of the several great lines
to the westward of it, are composed of a vast pile, many
thousand feet in thickness, of porphyries which have flowed as
submarine lavas, alternating with angular and rounded fragments
of the same rocks, thrown out of the submarine craters.
These alternating masses are covered in the central parts,
by a great thickness of red sandstone, conglomerate, and
calcareous clay-slate, associated with, and passing into,
prodigious beds of gypsum.  In these upper beds shells are
tolerably frequent; and they belong to about the period of the
lower chalk of Europe.  It is an old story, but not the less
wonderful, to hear of shells which were once crawling on the
bottom of the sea, now standing nearly 14,000 feet above its
level.  The lower beds in this great pile of strata, have been
dislocated, baked, crystallized and almost blended together,
through the agency of mountain masses of a peculiar white
soda-granitic rock.

The other main line, namely, that of the Portillo, is of a
totally different formation: it consists chiefly of grand bare
pinnacles of a red potash-granite, which low down on the
western flank are covered by a sandstone, converted by the
former heat into a quartz-rock.  On the quartz, there rest
beds of a conglomerate several thousand feet in thickness,
which have been upheaved by the red granite, and dip at an
angle of 45 degs. towards the Peuquenes line.  I was astonished
to find that this conglomerate was partly composed of pebbles,
derived from the rocks, with their fossil shells, of the
Peuquenes range; and partly of red potash-granite, like that
of the Portillo.  Hence we must conclude, that both the Peuquenes
and Portillo ranges were partially upheaved and exposed
to wear and tear, when the conglomerate was forming;
but as the beds of the conglomerate have been thrown off at
an angle of 45 degs. by the red Portillo granite (with the
underlying sandstone baked by it), we may feel sure, that the
greater part of the injection and upheaval of the already
partially formed Portillo line, took place after the
accumulation of the conglomerate, and long after the elevation
of the Peuquenes ridge.  So that the Portillo, the loftiest line
in this part of the Cordillera, is not so old as the less lofty
line of the Peuquenes.  Evidence derived from an inclined stream
of lava at the eastern base of the Portillo, might be adduced
to show, that it owes part of its great height to elevations of
a still later date.  Looking to its earliest origin, the red
granite seems to have been injected on an ancient pre-existing
line of white granite and mica-slate.  In most parts, perhaps in
all parts, of the Cordillera, it may be concluded that each line
has been formed by repeated upheavals and injections; and
that the several parallel lines are of different ages.  Only
thus can we gain time, at all sufficient to explain the truly
astonishing amount of denudation, which these great, though
comparatively with most other ranges recent, mountains have
suffered.

Finally, the shells in the Peuquenes or oldest ridge, prove,
as before remarked, that it has been upraised 14,000 feet
since a Secondary period, which in Europe we are accustomed
to consider as far from ancient; but since these shells
lived in a moderately deep sea, it can be shown that the area
now occupied by the Cordillera, must have subsided several
thousand feet — in northern Chile as much as 6000 feet — so
as to have allowed that amount of submarine strata to have
been heaped on the bed on which the shells lived.  The proof
is the same with that by which it was shown, that at a much
later period, since the tertiary shells of Patagonia lived,
there must have been there a subsidence of several hundred
feet, as well as an ensuing elevation.  Daily it is forced home
on the mind of the geologist, that nothing, not even the wind
that blows, is so unstable as the level of the crust of this
earth.

I will make only one other geological remark: although
the Portillo chain is here higher than the Peuquenes, the
waters draining the intermediate valleys, have burst through
it.  The same fact, on a grander scale, has been remarked in
the eastern and loftiest line of the Bolivian Cordillera,
through which the rivers pass: analogous facts have also
been observed in other quarters of the world.  On the supposition
of the subsequent and gradual elevation of the Portillo
line, this can be understood; for a chain of islets would
at first appear, and, as these were lifted up, the tides would
be always wearing deeper and broader channels between them.
At the present day, even in the most retired Sounds on the
coast of Tierra del Fuego, the currents in the transverse
breaks which connect the longitudinal channels, are very
strong, so that in one transverse channel even a small vessel
under sail was whirled round and round.


About noon we began the tedious ascent of the Peuquenes
ridge, and then for the first time experienced some little
difficulty in our respiration.  The mules would halt every fifty
yards, and after resting for a few seconds the poor willing
animals started of their own accord again.  The short breathing
from the rarefied atmosphere is called by the Chilenos
"puna;" and they have most ridiculous notions concerning
its origin.  Some say "all the waters here have puna;" others
that "where there is snow there is puna;" — and this no
doubt is true.  The only sensation I experienced was a slight
tightness across the head and chest, like that felt on leaving
a warm room and running quickly in frosty weather.  There
was some imagination even in this; for upon finding fossil
shells on the highest ridge, I entirely forgot the puna in my
delight.  Certainly the exertion of walking was extremely
great, and the respiration became deep and laborious: I am
told that in Potosi (about 13,000 feet above the sea) strangers
do not become thoroughly accustomed to the atmosphere for
an entire year.  The inhabitants all recommend onions for
the puna; as this vegetable has sometimes been given in
Europe for pectoral complaints, it may possibly be of real
service: — for my part I found nothing so good as the fossil
shells!

When about half-way up we met a large party with seventy
loaded mules.  It was interesting to hear the wild cries
of the muleteers, and to watch the long descending string
of the animals; they appeared so diminutive, there being
nothing but the black mountains with which they could be
compared.  When near the summit, the wind, as generally
happens, was impetuous and extremely cold.  On each side of
the ridge, we had to pass over broad bands of perpetual
snow, which were now soon to be covered by a fresh layer.
When we reached the crest and looked backwards, a glorious
view was presented.  The atmosphere resplendently clear;
the sky an intense blue; the profound valleys; the wild
broken forms: the heaps of ruins, piled up during the lapse
of ages; the bright-coloured rocks, contrasted with the quiet
mountains of snow, all these together produced a scene no
one could have imagined.  Neither plant nor bird, excepting
a few condors wheeling around the higher pinnacles, distracted
my attention from the inanimate mass.  I felt glad
that I was alone: it was like watching a thunderstorm, or
hearing in full orchestra a chorus of the Messiah.

On several patches of the snow I found the Protococcus
nivalis, or red snow, so well known from the accounts of
Arctic navigators.  My attention was called to it, by observing
the footsteps of the mules stained a pale red, as if their
hoofs had been slightly bloody.  I at first thought that it was
owing to dust blown from the surrounding mountains of red
porphyry; for from the magnifying power of the crystals
of snow, the groups of these microscopical plants appeared
like coarse particles.  The snow was coloured only where it
had thawed very rapidly, or had been accidentally crushed.
A little rubbed on paper gave it a faint rose tinge mingled
with a little brick-red.  I afterwards scraped some off the
paper, and found that it consisted of groups of little spheres
in colourless cases, each of the thousandth part of an inch in
diameter.

The wind on the crest of the Peuquenes, as just remarked,
is generally impetuous and very cold: it is said [3] to blow
steadily from the westward or Pacific side.  As the observations
have been chiefly made in summer, this wind must be
an upper and return current.  The Peak of Teneriffe, with
a less elevation, and situated in lat. 28 degs., in like manner
falls within an upper return stream.  At first it appears rather
surprising, that the trade-wind along the northern parts of
Chile and on the coast of Peru, should blow in so very southerly
a direction as it does; but when we reflect that the Cordillera,
running in a north and south line, intercepts, like a
great wall, the entire depth of the lower atmospheric current,
we can easily see that the trade-wind must be drawn northward,
following the line of mountains, towards the equatorial
regions, and thus lose part of that easterly movement which
it otherwise would have gained from the earth's rotation.  At
Mendoza, on the eastern foot of the Andes, the climate is
said to be subject to long calms, and to frequent though false
appearances of gathering rain-storms: we may imagine that
the wind, which coming from the eastward is thus banked up
by the line of mountains, would become stagnant and irregular
in its movements.

Having crossed the Peuquenes, we descended into a mountainous
country, intermediate between the two main ranges,
and then took up our quarters for the night.  We were now
in the republic of Mendoza.  The elevation was probably not
under 11,000 feet, and the vegetation in consequence exceedingly
scanty.  The root of a small scrubby plant served as
fuel, but it made a miserable fire, and the wind was
piercingly cold.  Being quite tired with my days work, I
made up my bed as quickly as I could, and went to sleep.
About midnight I observed the sky became suddenly clouded:
I awakened the arriero to know if there was any danger of
bad weather; but he said that without thunder and lightning
there was no risk of a heavy snow-storm.  The peril is
imminent, and the difficulty of subsequent escape great, to
any one overtaken by bad weather between the two ranges.
A certain cave offers the only place of refuge: Mr. Caldcleugh,
who crossed on this same day of the month, was
detained there for some time by a heavy fall of snow.  Casuchas,
or houses of refuge, have not been built in this pass
as in that of Uspallata, and, therefore, during the autumn,
the Portillo is little frequented.  I may here remark that
within the main Cordillera rain never falls, for during the
summer the sky is cloudless, and in winter snow-storms alone
occur.

At the place where we slept water necessarily boiled, from
the diminished pressure of the atmosphere, at a lower
temperature than it does in a less lofty country; the case being
the converse of that of a Papin's digester.  Hence the potatoes,
after remaining for some hours in the boiling water,
were nearly as hard as ever.  The pot was left on the fire
all night, and next morning it was boiled again, but yet the
potatoes were not cooked.  I found out this, by overhearing
my two companions discussing the cause, they had come
to the simple conclusion, "that the cursed pot [which was a
new one] did not choose to boil potatoes."

March  22nd. — After eating our potatoless breakfast, we
travelled across the intermediate tract to the foot of the
Portillo range.  In the middle of summer cattle are brought
up here to graze; but they had now all been removed: even
the greater number of the Guanacos had decamped, knowing
well that if overtaken here by a snow-storm, they would be
caught in a trap.  We had a fine view of a mass of mountains
called Tupungato, the whole clothed with unbroken
snow, in the midst of which there was a blue patch, no
doubt a glacier; — a circumstance of rare occurrence in these
mountains.  Now commenced a heavy and long climb, similar
to that of the Peuquenes.  Bold conical hills of red
granite rose on each hand; in the valleys there were several
broad fields of perpetual snow.  These frozen masses, during
the process of thawing, had in some parts been converted
into pinnacles or columns, [4] which, as they were high and
close together, made it difficult for the cargo mules to pass.
On one of these columns of ice, a frozen horse was sticking
as on a pedestal, but with its hind legs straight up in
the air.  The animal, I suppose, must have fallen with its
head downward into a hole, when the snow was continuous,
and afterwards the surrounding parts must have been
removed by the thaw.

When nearly on the crest of the Portillo, we were enveloped
in a falling cloud of minute frozen spicula.  This was
very unfortunate, as it continued the whole day, and quite
intercepted our view.  The pass takes its name of Portillo,
from a narrow cleft or doorway on the highest ridge,
through which the road passes.  From this point, on a clear
day, those vast plains which uninterruptedly extend to the
Atlantic Ocean can be seen.  We descended to the upper
limit of vegetation, and found good quarters for the night
under the shelter of some large fragments of rock.  We met
here some passengers, who made anxious inquiries about the
state of the road.  Shortly after it was dark the clouds suddenly
cleared away, and the effect was quite magical.  The
great mountains, bright with the full moon, seemed impending
over us on all sides, as over a deep crevice: one morning,
very early, I witnessed the same striking effect.  As
soon as the clouds were dispersed it froze severely; but as
there was no wind, we slept very comfortably.

The increased brilliancy of the moon and stars at this
elevation, owing to the perfect transparency of the atmosphere,
was very remarkable.  Travelers having observed
the difficulty of judging heights and distances amidst lofty
mountains, have generally attributed it to the absence of
objects of comparison.  It appears to me, that it is fully as
much owing to the transparency of the air confounding
objects at different distances, and likewise partly to the
novelty of an unusual degree of fatigue arising from a little
exertion, — habit being thus opposed to the evidence of the
senses.  I am sure that this extreme clearness of the air
gives a peculiar character to the landscape, all objects
appearing to be brought nearly into one plane, as in a drawing
or panorama.  The transparency is, I presume, owing to
the equable and high state of atmospheric dryness.  This
dryness was shown by the manner in which woodwork
shrank (as I soon found by the trouble my geological hammer
gave me); by articles of food, such as bread and sugar,
becoming extremely hard; and by the preservation of the
skin and parts of the flesh of the beasts, which had perished
on the road.  To the same cause we must attribute the singular
facility with which electricity is excited.  My flannel
waistcoat, when rubbed in the dark, appeared as if it had
been washed with phosphorus, — every hair on a dog's back
crackled; — even the linen sheets, and leathern straps of the
saddle, when handled, emitted sparks.

March 23rd. — The descent on the eastern side of the Cordillera
is much shorter or steeper than on the Pacific side;
in other words, the mountains rise more abruptly from the
plains than from the alpine country of Chile.  A level and
brilliantly white sea of clouds was stretched out beneath our
feet, shutting out the view of the equally level Pampas.  We
soon entered the band of clouds, and did not again emerge
from it that day.  About noon, finding pasture for the animals
and bushes for firewood at Los Arenales, we stopped
for the night.  This was near the uppermost limit of bushes,
and the elevation, I suppose, was between seven and eight
thousand feet.

I was much struck with the marked difference between
the vegetation of these eastern valleys and those on the
Chilian side: yet the climate, as well as the kind of soil, is
nearly the same, and the difference of longitude very trifling.
The same remark holds good with the quadrupeds, and in
a lesser degree with the birds and insects.  I may instance the
mice, of which I obtained thirteen species on the shores of
the Atlantic, and five on the Pacific, and not one of them
is identical.  We must except all those species, which habitually
or occasionally frequent elevated mountains; and certain
birds, which range as far south as the Strait of Magellan.
This fact is in perfect accordance with the geological
history of the Andes; for these mountains have existed as
a great barrier since the present races of animals have
appeared; and therefore, unless we suppose the same species
to have been created in two different places, we ought not to
expect any closer similarity between the organic beings on
the opposite sides of the Andes than on the opposite shores
of the ocean.  In both cases, we must leave out of the question
those kinds which have been able to cross the barrier,
whether of solid rock or salt-water. [5]

A great number of the plants and animals were absolutely
the same as, or most closely allied to, those of Patagonia.
We here have the agouti, bizcacha, three species of armadillo,
the ostrich, certain kinds of partridges and other birds,
none of which are ever seen in Chile, but are the characteristic
animals of the desert plains of Patagonia.  We have
likewise many of the same (to the eyes of a person who is
not a botanist) thorny stunted bushes, withered grass, and
dwarf plants.  Even the black slowly crawling beetles are
closely similar, and some, I believe, on rigorous examination,
absolutely identical.  It had always been to me a subject of
regret, that we were unavoidably compelled to give up the
ascent of the S. Cruz river before reaching the mountains:
I always had a latent hope of meeting with some great
change in the features of the country; but I now feel sure,
that it would only have been following the plains of Patagonia
up a mountainous ascent.

March  24th. — Early in the morning I climbed up a mountain
on one side of the valley, and enjoyed a far extended
view over the Pampas.  This was a spectacle to which I had
always looked forward with interest, but I was disappointed:
at the first glance it much resembled a distant view of the
ocean, but in the northern parts many irregularities were
soon distinguishable.  The most striking feature consisted
in the rivers, which, facing the rising sun, glittered like
silver threads, till lost in the immensity of the distance.  At
midday we descended the valley, and reached a hovel, where
an officer and three soldiers were posted to examine passports.
One of these men was a thoroughbred Pampas
Indian: he was kept much for the same purpose as a bloodhound,
to track out any person who might pass by secretly,
either on foot or horseback.  Some years ago, a passenger
endeavoured to escape detection, by making a long circuit
over a neighbouring mountain; but this Indian, having by
chance crossed his track, followed it for the whole day over
dry and very stony hills, till at last he came on his prey
hidden in a gully.  We here heard that the silvery clouds,
which we had admired from the bright region above, had
poured down torrents of rain.  The valley from this point
gradually opened, and the hills became mere water-worn
hillocks compared to the giants behind: it then expanded
into a gently sloping plain of shingle, covered with low trees
and bushes.  This talus, although appearing narrow, must be
nearly ten miles wide before it blends into the apparently
dead level Pampas.  We passed the only house in this
neighbourhood, the Estancia of Chaquaio: and at sunset we pulled
up in the first snug corner, and there bivouacked.

March 25th. — I  was reminded of the Pampas of Buenos
Ayres, by seeing the disk of the rising sun, intersected by an
horizon level as that of the ocean.  During the night a heavy
dew fell, a circumstance which we did not experience within
the Cordillera.  The road proceeded for some distance due
east across a low swamp; then meeting the dry plain, it
turned to the north towards Mendoza.  The distance is two
very long days' journey.  Our first day's journey was called
fourteen leagues to Estacado, and the second seventeen to
Luxan, near Mendoza.  The whole distance is over a level
desert plain, with not more than two or three houses.  The
sun was exceedingly powerful, and the ride devoid of all
interest.  There is very little water in this "traversia," and
in our second day's journey we found only one little pool.
Little water flows from the mountains, and it soon becomes
absorbed by the dry and porous soil; so that, although we
travelled at the distance of only ten or fifteen miles from
the outer range of the Cordillera, we did not cross a single
stream.  In many parts the ground was incrusted with a
saline efflorescence; hence we had the same salt-loving
plants which are common near Bahia Blanca.  The landscape
has a uniform character from the Strait of Magellan,
along the whole eastern coast of Patagonia, to the Rio Colorado;
and it appears that the same kind of country extends
inland from this river, in a sweeping line as far as San Luis
and perhaps even further north.  To the eastward of this
curved line lies the basin of the comparatively damp and
green plains of Buenos Ayres.  The sterile plains of Mendoza
and Patagonia consist of a bed of shingle, worn smooth
and accumulated by the waves of the sea while the Pampas,
covered by thistles, clover, and grass, have been formed by
the ancient estuary mud of the Plata.

After our two days' tedious journey, it was refreshing to
see in the distance the rows of poplars and willows growing
round the village and river of Luxan.  Shortly before we
arrived at this place, we observed to the south a ragged cloud
of dark reddish-brown colour.  At first we thought that it
was smoke from some great fire on the plains; but we soon
found that it was a swarm of locusts.  They were flying
northward; and with the aid of a light breeze, they overtook
us at a rate of ten or fifteen miles an hour.  The main body
filled the air from a height of twenty feet, to that, as it
appeared, of two or three thousand above the ground; "and the
sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many
horses running to battle:" or rather, I should say, like a
strong breeze passing through the rigging of a ship.  The
sky, seen through the advanced guard, appeared like a mezzotinto
engraving, but the main body was impervious to sight;
they were not, however, so thick together, but that they
could escape a stick waved backwards and forwards.  When
they alighted, they were more numerous than the leaves in
the field, and the surface became reddish instead of being
green: the swarm having once alighted, the individuals flew
from side to side in all directions.  Locusts are not an uncommon
pest in this country: already during the season, several
smaller swarms had come up from the south, where, as
apparently in all other parts of the world, they are bred in
the deserts.  The poor cottagers in vain attempted by lighting
fires, by shouts, and by waving branches to avert the
attack.  This species of locust closely resembles, and perhaps
is identical with, the famous Gryllus migratorius of the East.

We crossed the Luxan, which is a river of considerable
size, though its course towards the sea-coast is very
imperfectly known: it is even doubtful whether, in passing over
the plains, it is not evaporated and lost.  We slept in the
village of Luxan, which is a small place surrounded by gardens,
and forms the most southern cultivated district in the
Province of Mendoza; it is five leagues south of the capital.
At night I experienced an attack (for it deserves no less a
name) of the Benchuca, a species of Reduvius, the great
black bug of the Pampas.  It is most disgusting to feel soft
wingless insects, about an inch long, crawling over one's
body.  Before sucking they are quite thin, but afterwards
they become round and bloated with blood, and in this state
are easily crushed.  One which I caught at Iquique, (for they
are found in Chile and Peru,) was very empty.  When placed
on a table, and though surrounded by people, if a finger was
presented, the bold insect would immediately protrude its
sucker, make a charge, and if allowed, draw blood.  No pain
was caused by the wound.  It was curious to watch its body
during the act of sucking, as in less than ten minutes it
changed from being as flat as a wafer to a globular form.
This one feast, for which the benchuca was indebted to one
of the officers, kept it fat during four whole months; but,
after the first fortnight, it was quite ready to have another
suck.

March 27th. — We rode on to Mendoza.  The country was
beautifully cultivated, and resembled Chile.  This neighbourhood
is celebrated for its fruit; and certainly nothing could
appear more flourishing than the vineyards and the orchards
of figs, peaches, and olives.  We bought water-melons nearly
twice as large as a man's head, most deliciously cool and
well-flavoured, for a halfpenny apiece; and for the value of
threepence, half a wheelbarrowful of peaches.  The cultivated
and enclosed part of this province is very small; there
is little more than that which we passed through between
Luxan and the capital.  The land, as in Chile, owes its fertility
entirely to artificial irrigation; and it is really wonderful
to observe how extraordinarily productive a barren
traversia is thus rendered.

We stayed the ensuing day in Mendoza.  The prosperity
of the place has much declined of late years.  The inhabitants
say "it is good to live in, but very bad to grow rich in."
The lower orders have the lounging, reckless manners of the
Gauchos of the Pampas; and their dress, riding-gear, and
habits of life, are nearly the same.  To my mind the town
had a stupid, forlorn aspect.  Neither the boasted alameda,
nor the scenery, is at all comparable with that of Santiago;
but to those who, coming from Buenos Ayres, have just
crossed the unvaried Pampas, the gardens and orchards must
appear delightful.  Sir F. Head, speaking of the inhabitants,
says, "They eat their dinners, and it is so very hot, they go
to sleep — and could they do better?" I quite agree with
Sir F. Head: the happy doom of the Mendozinos is to eat,
sleep and be idle.


March 29th. — We set out on our return to Chile, by the
Uspallata pass situated north of Mendoza.  We had to cross
a long and most sterile traversia of fifteen leagues.  The
soil in parts was absolutely bare, in others covered by
numberless dwarf cacti, armed with formidable spines, and called
by the inhabitants "little lions." There were, also, a few
low bushes.  Although the plain is nearly three thousand feet
above the sea, the sun was very powerful; and the heat as
well as the clouds of impalpable dust, rendered the travelling
extremely irksome.  Our course during the day lay nearly
parallel to the Cordillera, but gradually approaching them.
Before sunset we entered one of the wide valleys, or rather
bays, which open on the plain: this soon narrowed into a
ravine, where a little higher up the house of Villa Vicencio
is situated.  As we had ridden all day without a drop of
water, both our mules and selves were very thirsty, and we
looked out anxiously for the stream which flows down this
valley.  It was curious to observe how gradually the water
made its appearance: on the plain the course was quite dry;
by degrees it became a little damper; then puddles of water
appeared; these soon became connected; and at Villa Vicencio
there was a nice little rivulet.

30th. — The solitary hovel which bears the imposing name
of Villa Vicencio, has been mentioned by every traveller who
has crossed the Andes.  I stayed here and at some neighbouring
mines during the two succeeding days.  The geology
of the surrounding country is very curious.  The Uspallata
range is separated from the main Cordillera by a long narrow
plain or basin, like those so often mentioned in Chile,
but higher, being six thousand feet above the sea.  This
range has nearly the same geographical position with respect
to the Cordillera, which the gigantic Portillo line has, but it
is of a totally different origin: it consists of various kinds
of submarine lava, alternating with volcanic sandstones and
other remarkable sedimentary deposits; the whole having a
very close resemblance to some of the tertiary beds on the
shores of the Pacific.  From this resemblance I expected to
find silicified wood, which is generally characteristic of those
formations.  I was gratified in a very extraordinary manner.
In the central part of the range, at an elevation of about
seven thousand feet, I observed on a bare slope some snow-white
projecting columns.  These were petrified trees, eleven
being silicified, and from thirty to forty converted into
coarsely-crystallized white calcareous spar.  They were abruptly
broken off, the upright stumps projecting a few feet
above the ground.  The trunks measured from three to five
feet each in circumference.  They stood a little way apart
from each other, but the whole formed one group.  Mr. Robert
Brown has been kind enough to examine the wood: he
says it belongs to the fir tribe, partaking of the character
of the Araucarian family, but with some curious points of
affinity with the yew.  The volcanic sandstone in which the
trees were embedded, and from the lower part of which they
must have sprung, had accumulated in successive thin layers
around their trunks; and the stone yet retained the impression
of the bark.

It required little geological practice to interpret the
marvellous story which this scene at once unfolded; though I
confess I was at first so much astonished that I could
scarcely believe the plainest evidence.  I saw the spot where
a cluster of fine trees once waved their branches on the
shores of the Atlantic, when that ocean (now driven back
700 miles) came to the foot of the Andes.  I saw that they
had sprung from a volcanic soil which had been raised above
the level of the sea, and that subsequently this dry land,
with its upright trees, had been let down into the depths of
the ocean.  In these depths, the formerly dry land was
covered by sedimentary beds, and these again by enormous
streams of submarine lava — one such mass attaining the
thickness of a thousand feet; and these deluges of molten
stone and aqueous deposits five times alternately had been
spread out.  The ocean which received such thick masses,
must have been profoundly deep; but again the subterranean
forces exerted themselves, and I now beheld the bed of
that ocean, forming a chain of mountains more than seven
thousand feet in height.  Nor had those antagonistic forces
been dormant, which are always at work wearing down the
surface of the land; the great piles of strata had been
intersected by many wide valleys, and the trees now changed
into silex, were exposed projecting from the volcanic soil,
now changed into rock, whence formerly, in a green and
budding state, they had raised their lofty heads.  Now,
all is utterly irreclaimable and desert; even the lichen cannot
adhere to the stony casts of former trees.  Vast, and
scarcely comprehensible as such changes must ever appear,
yet they have all occurred within a period, recent when
compared with the history of the Cordillera; and the Cordillera
itself is absolutely modern as compared with many
of the fossiliferous strata of Europe and America.

April 1st. — We crossed the Upsallata range, and at night
slept at the custom-house — the only inhabited spot on the
plain.  Shortly before leaving the mountains, there was a
very extraordinary view; red, purple, green, and quite white
sedimentary rocks, alternating with black lavas, were broken
up and thrown into all kinds of disorder by masses of porphyry
of every shade of colour, from dark brown to the
brightest lilac.  It was the first view I ever saw, which
really resembled those pretty sections which geologists make
of the inside of the earth.

The next day we crossed the plain, and followed the course
of the same great mountain stream which flows by Luxan.
Here it was a furious torrent, quite impassable, and appeared
larger than in the low country, as was the case with the rivulet
of Villa Vicencio.  On the evening of the succeeding day,
we reached the Rio de las Vacas, which is considered the
worst stream in the Cordillera to cross.  As all these rivers
have a rapid and short course, and are formed by the melting
of the snow, the hour of the day makes a considerable difference
in their volume.  In the evening the stream is muddy
and full, but about daybreak it becomes clearer, and much
less impetuous.  This we found to be the case with the Rio
Vacas, and in the morning we crossed it with little difficulty.

The scenery thus far was very uninteresting, compared
with that of the Portillo pass.  Little can be seen beyond the
bare walls of the one grand flat-bottomed valley, which the
road follows up to the highest crest.  The valley and
the huge rocky mountains are extremely barren: during the
two previous nights the poor mules had absolutely nothing
to eat, for excepting a few low resinous bushes, scarcely a
plant can be seen.  In the course of this day we crossed some
of the worst passes in the Cordillera, but their danger has
been much exaggerated.  I was told that if I attempted to
pass on foot, my head would turn giddy, and that there was
no room to dismount; but I did not see a place where any
one might not have walked over backwards, or got off his
mule on either side.  One of the bad passes, called las
Animas (the souls), I had crossed, and did not find out
till a day afterwards, that it was one of the awful dangers.
No doubt there are many parts in which, if the mule should
stumble, the rider would be hurled down a great precipice;
but of this there is little chance.  I dare say, in the spring,
the "laderas," or roads, which each year are formed anew
across the piles of fallen detritus, are very bad; but from
what I saw, I suspect the real danger is nothing.  With
cargo-mules the case is rather different, for the loads project
so far, that the animals, occasionally running against
each other, or against a point of rock, lose their balance, and
are thrown down the precipices.  In crossing the rivers
I can well believe that the difficulty may be very great: at
this season there was little trouble, but in the summer they
must be very hazardous.  I can quite imagine, as Sir F.
Head describes, the different expressions of those who have
passed the gulf, and those who are passing.  I never heard
of any man being drowned, but with loaded mules it frequently
happens.  The arriero tells you to show your mule
the best line, and then allow her to cross as she likes: the
cargo-mule takes a bad line, and is often lost.

April 4th. — From the Rio de las Vacas to the Puente del
Incas, half a day's journey.  As there was pasture for the
mules, and geology for me, we bivouacked here for the
night.  When one hears of a natural Bridge, one pictures
to one's self some deep and narrow ravine, across which a
bold mass of rock has fallen; or a great arch hollowed out
like the vault of a cavern.  Instead of this, the Incas
Bridge consists of a crust of stratified shingle cemented
together by the deposits of the neighbouring hot springs.  It
appears, as if the stream had scooped out a channel on one
side, leaving an overhanging ledge, which was met by earth
and stones falling down from the opposite cliff.  Certainly
an oblique junction, as would happen in such a case, was
very distinct on one side.  The Bridge of the Incas is by
no means worthy of the great monarchs whose name it
bears.

5th. — We had a long day's ride across the central ridge,
from the Incas Bridge to the Ojos del Agua, which are situated
near the lowest casucha on the Chilian side.  These
casuchas are round little towers, with steps outside to reach
the floor, which is raised some feet above the ground on account
of the snow-drifts.  They are eight in number, and
under the Spanish government were kept during the winter
well stored with food and charcoal, and each courier had a
master-key.  Now they only answer the purpose of caves, or
rather dungeons.  Seated on some little eminence, they are
not, however, ill suited to the surrounding scene of desolation.
The zigzag ascent of the Cumbre, or the partition of
the waters, was very steep and tedious; its height, according
to Mr. Pentland, is 12,454 feet.  The road did not pass over
any perpetual snow, although there were patches of it on
both hands.  The wind on the summit was exceedingly cold,
but it was impossible not to stop for a few minutes to admire,
again and again, the colour of the heavens, and the
brilliant transparency of the atmosphere.  The scenery was
grand: to the westward there was a fine chaos of mountains,
divided by profound ravines.  Some snow generally falls before
this period of the season, and it has even happened that
the Cordillera have been finally closed by this time.  But
we were most fortunate.  The sky, by night and by day, was
cloudless, excepting a few round little masses of vapour, that
floated over the highest pinnacles.  I have often seen these
islets in the sky, marking the position of the Cordillera,
when the far-distant mountains have been hidden beneath
the horizon.

April 6th. — In the morning we found some thief had
stolen one of our mules, and the bell of the madrina.  We
therefore rode only two or three miles down the valley, and
stayed there the ensuing day in hopes of recovering the mule,
which the arriero thought had been hidden in some ravine.
The scenery in this part had assumed a Chilian character:
the lower sides of the mountains, dotted over with the pale
evergreen Quillay tree, and with the great chandelier-like
cactus, are certainly more to be admired than the bare eastern
valleys; but I cannot quite agree with the admiration
expressed by some travellers.  The extreme pleasure, I suspect,
is chiefly owing to the prospect of a good fire and of a
good supper, after escaping from the cold regions above: and
I am sure I most heartily participated in these feelings.

8th. — We left the valley of the Aconcagua, by which we
had descended, and reached in the evening a cottage near the
Villa del St. Rosa.  The fertility of the plain was delightful:
the autumn being advanced, the leaves of many of the
fruit-trees were falling; and of the labourers, — some were
busy in drying figs and peaches on the roofs of their cottages,
while others were gathering the grapes from the vineyards.
It was a pretty scene; but I missed that pensive stillness
which makes the autumn in England indeed the evening
of the year.  On the 10th we reached Santiago, where I received
a very kind and hospitable reception from Mr. Caldcleugh.
My excursion only cost me twenty-four days, and
never did I more deeply enjoy an equal space of time.  A
few days afterwards I returned to Mr. Corfield's house at
Valparaiso.

[1] Scoresby's Arctic Regions, vol. i. p. 122.

[2] I have heard it remarked in Shropshire that the water, when
the Severn is flooded from long-continued rain, is much more
turbid than when it proceeds from the snow melting in the Welsh
mountains.  D'Orbigny (tom. i. p. 184), in explaining the cause
of the various colours of the rivers in South America, remarks
that those with blue or clear water have there source in the
Cordillera, where the snow melts.

[3] Dr. Gillies in Journ. of Nat. and Geograph. Science, Aug.,
1830.  This author gives the heights of the Passes.

[4] This structure in frozen snow was long since observed by
Scoresby in the icebergs near Spitzbergen, and, lately, with
more care, by Colonel Jackson (Journ. of Geograph. Soc., vol. v.
p. 12) on the Neva. Mr. Lyell (Principles, vol. iv. p. 360) has
compared the fissures by which the columnar structure seems to
be determined, to the joints that traverse nearly all rocks, but
which are best seen in the non-stratified masses.  I may observe,
that in the case of the frozen snow, the columnar structure must
be owing to a "metamorphic" action, and not to a process during
deposition.

[5] This is merely an illustration of the admirable laws, first
laid down by Mr. Lyell, on the geographical distribution of
animals, as influenced by geological changes.  The whole
reasoning, of course, is founded on the assumption of the
immutability of species; otherwise the difference in the species
in the two regions might be considered as superinduced during a
length of time.



CHAPTER XVI

NORTHERN CHILE AND PERU

Coast-road to Coquimbo — Great Loads carried by the Miners —
Coquimbo — Earthquake — Step-formed Terrace — Absence of
recent Deposits — Contemporaneousness of the Tertiary
Formations — Excursion up the Valley — Road to Guasco —
Deserts — Valley of Copiapo — Rain and Earthquakes —
Hydrophobia — The Despoblado  — Indian Ruins — Probable
Change of Climate — River-bed arched by an Earthquake —
Cold Gales of Wind — Noises from a Hill — Iquique — Salt
Alluvium — Nitrate of Soda — Lima — Unhealthy Country —
Ruins of Callao, overthrown by an Earthquake — Recent
Subsidence — Elevated Shells on San Lorenzo, their
decomposition — Plain with embedded Shells and fragments
of Pottery — Antiquity of the Indian Race.


APRIL 27th. — I set out on a journey to Coquimbo, and
thence through Guasco to Copiapo, where Captain
Fitz Roy kindly offered to pick me up in the Beagle.
The distance in a straight line along the shore northward is
only 420 miles; but my mode of travelling made it a very
long journey.  I bought four horses and two mules, the
latter carrying the luggage on alternate days.  The six
animals together only cost the value of twenty-five pounds
sterling, and at Copiapo I sold them again for twenty-three.
We travelled in the same independent manner as before,
cooking our own meals, and sleeping in the open air.  As
we rode towards the Vino del Mar, I took a farewell view
of Valparaiso, and admired its picturesque appearance.  For
geological purposes I made a detour from the high road
to the foot of the Bell of Quillota.  We passed through an
alluvial district rich in gold, to the neighbourhood of Limache,
where we slept.  Washing for gold supports the inhabitants
of numerous hovels, scattered along the sides of
each little rivulet; but, like all those whose gains are
uncertain, they are unthrifty in all their habits, and
consequently poor.

28th. — In the afternoon we arrived at a cottage at the
foot of the Bell mountain.  The inhabitants were freeholders,
which is not very usual in Chile.  They supported themselves
on the produce of a garden and a little field, but were
very poor.  Capital is here so deficient, that the people are
obliged to sell their green corn while standing in the field,
in order to buy necessaries for the ensuing year.  Wheat in
consequence was dearer in the very district of its production
than at Valparaiso, where the contractors live.  The next
day we joined the main road to Coquimbo.  At night there
was a very light shower of rain: this was the first drop that
had fallen since the heavy rain of September 11th and 12th,
which detained me a prisoner at the Baths of Cauquenes.
The interval was seven and a half months; but the rain this
year in Chile was rather later than usual.  The distant Andes
were now covered by a thick mass of snow, and were a glorious
sight.

May 2nd. — The road continued to follow the coast, at no
great distance from the sea.  The few trees and bushes which
are common in central Chile decreased rapidly in numbers,
and were replaced by a tall plant, something like a yucca in
appearance.  The surface of the country, on a small scale,
was singularly broken and irregular; abrupt little peaks of
rock rising out of small plains or basins.  The indented coast
and the bottom of the neighbouring sea, studded with breakers,
would, if converted into dry land, present similar forms;
and such a conversion without doubt has taken place in the
part over which we rode.

3rd. — Quilimari to Conchalee.  The country became more
and more barren.  In the valleys there was scarcely sufficient
water for any irrigation; and the intermediate land was
quite bare, not supporting even goats.  In the spring, after
the winter showers, a thin pasture rapidly springs up, and
cattle are then driven down from the Cordillera to graze
for a short time.  It is curious to observe how the seeds of
the grass and other plants seem to accommodate themselves,
as if by an acquired habit, to the quantity of rain which
falls upon different parts of this coast.  One shower far
northward at Copiapo produces as great an effect on the
vegetation, as two at Guasco, and three or four in this
district.  At Valparaiso a winter so dry as greatly to injure
the pasture, would at Guasco produce the most unusual
abundance.  Proceeding northward, the quantity of rain does
not appear to decrease in strict proportion to the latitude.
At Conchalee, which is only 67 miles north of Valparaiso,
rain is not expected till the end of May; whereas at Valparaiso
some generally falls early in April: the annual quantity
is likewise small in proportion to the lateness of the
season at which it commences.

4th. — Finding the coast-road devoid of interest of any
kind, we turned inland towards the mining district and
valley of Illapel.  This valley, like every other in Chile, is
level, broad, and very fertile: it is bordered on each side,
either by cliffs of stratified shingle, or by bare rocky
mountains.  Above the straight line of the uppermost irrigating
ditch, all is brown as on a high road; while all below is of as
bright a green as verdigris, from the beds of alfalfa, a kind
of clover.  We proceeded to Los Hornos, another mining
district, where the principal hill was drilled with holes, like
a great ants'-nest.  The Chilian miners are a peculiar race
of men in their habits.  Living for weeks together in the
most desolate spots, when they descend to the villages on
feast-days, there is no excess of extravagance into which
they do not run.  They sometimes gain a considerable sum,
and then, like sailors with prize-money, they try how soon
they can contrive to squander it.  They drink excessively,
buy quantities of clothes, and in a few days return penniless
to their miserable abodes, there to work harder than beasts
of burden.  This thoughtlessness, as with sailors, is evidently
the result of a similar manner of life.  Their daily food is
found them, and they acquire no habits of carefulness: moreover,
temptation and the means of yielding to it are placed
in their power at the same time.  On the other hand, in
Cornwall, and some other parts of England, where the system
of selling part of the vein is followed, the miners, from
being obliged to act and think for themselves, are a singularly
intelligent and well-conducted set of men.

The dress of the Chilian miner is peculiar and rather
picturesque He wears a very long shirt of some dark-coloured
baize, with a leathern apron; the whole being fastened
round his waist by a bright-coloured sash.  His trousers are
very broad, and his small cap of scarlet cloth is made to fit
the head closely.  We met a party of these miners in full
costume, carrying the body of one of their companions to be
buried.  They marched at a very quick trot, four men supporting
the corpse.  One set having run as hard as they
could for about two hundred yards, were relieved by four
others, who had previously dashed on ahead on horseback.
Thus they proceeded, encouraging each other by wild cries:
altogether the scene formed a most strange funeral.

We continued travelling northward, in a zigzag line;
sometimes stopping a day to geologize.  The country was so
thinly inhabited, and the track so obscure, that we often had
difficulty in finding our way.  On the 12th I stayed at some
mines.  The ore in this case was not considered particularly
good, but from being abundant it was supposed the mine
would sell for about thirty or forty thousand dollars (that is,
6000 or 8000 pounds sterling); yet it had been bought by
one of the English Associations for an ounce of gold (3l.
8s.).  The ore is yellow pyrites, which, as I have already
remarked, before the arrival of the English, was not supposed
to contain a particle of copper.  On a scale of profits nearly
as great as in the above instance, piles of cinders, abounding
with minute globules of metallic copper, were purchased;
yet with these advantages, the mining associations, as is well
known, contrived to lose immense sums of money.  The folly
of the greater number of the commissioners and shareholders
amounted to infatuation; — a thousand pounds per annum
given in some cases to entertain the Chilian authorities;
libraries of well-bound geological books; miners brought out
for particular metals, as tin, which are not found in Chile;
contracts to supply the miners with milk, in parts where
there are no cows; machinery, where it could not possibly
be used; and a hundred similar arrangements, bore witness
to our absurdity, and to this day afford amusement to the
natives.  Yet there can be no doubt, that the same capital
well employed in these mines would have yielded an immense
return, a confidential man of business, a practical
miner and assayer, would have been all that was required.

Captain Head has described the wonderful load which
the "Apires," truly beasts of burden, carry up from the
deepest mines.  I confess I thought the account exaggerated:
so that I was glad to take an opportunity of weighing one
of the loads, which I picked out by hazard.  It required
considerable exertion on my part, when standing directly over
it, to lift it from the ground.  The load was considered under
weight when found to be 197 pounds.  The apire had carried
this up eighty perpendicular yards, — part of the way by
a steep passage, but the greater part up notched poles, placed
in a zigzag line up the shaft.  According to the general
regulation, the apire is not allowed to halt for breath, except
the mine is six hundred feet deep.  The average load is
considered as rather more than 200 pounds, and I have been
assured that one of 300 pounds (twenty-two stone and a half)
by way of a trial has been brought up from the deepest mine!
At this time the apires were bringing up the usual load
twelve times in the day; that is 2400 pounds from eighty
yards deep; and they were employed in the intervals in breaking
and picking ore.

These men, excepting from accidents, are healthy, and appear
cheerful.  Their bodies are not very muscular.  They
rarely eat meat once a week, and never oftener, and then only
the hard dry charqui.  Although with a knowledge that the
labour was voluntary, it was nevertheless quite revolting to
see the state in which they reached the mouth of the mine;
their bodies bent forward, leaning with their arms on the
steps, their legs bowed, their muscles quivering, the
perspiration streaming from their faces over their breasts,
their nostrils distended, the corners of their mouth forcibly
drawn back, and the expulsion of their breath most laborious.
Each time they draw their breath, they utter an articulate
cry of "ay-ay," which ends in a sound rising from deep in
the chest, but shrill like the note of a fife.  After staggering
to the pile of ore, they emptied the "carpacho;" in two or
three seconds recovering their breath, they wiped the sweat
from their brows, and apparently quite fresh descended the
mine again at a quick pace.  This appears to me a wonderful
instance of the amount of labour which habit, for it can be
nothing else, will enable a man to endure.

In the evening, talking with the mayor-domo of these
mines about the number of foreigners now scattered over
the whole country, he told me that, though quite a young
man, he remembers when he was a boy at school at
Coquimbo, a holiday being given to see the captain of an
English ship, who was brought to the city to speak to the
governor.  He believes that nothing would have induced
any boy in the school, himself included, to have gone close
to the Englishman; so deeply had they been impressed with
an idea of the heresy, contamination, and evil to be derived
from contact with such a person.  To this day they relate
the atrocious actions of the bucaniers; and especially of
one man, who took away the figure of the Virgin Mary, and
returned the year after for that of St. Joseph, saying it
was a pity the lady should not have a husband.  I heard
also of an old lady who, at a dinner at Coquimbo, remarked
how wonderfully strange it was that she should have lived
to dine in the same room with an Englishman; for she
remembered as a girl, that twice, at the mere cry of "Los
Ingleses," every soul, carrying what valuables they could,
had taken to the mountains.

14th. — We reached Coquimbo, where we stayed a few
days.  The town is remarkable for nothing but its extreme
quietness.  It is said to contain from 6000 to 8000 inhabitants.
On the morning of the 17th it rained lightly, the first time
this year, for about five hours.  The farmers, who plant
corn near the sea-coast where the atmosphere is most humid,
taking advantage of this shower, would break up the ground;
after a second they would put the seed in; and if a third
shower should fall, they would reap a good harvest in the
spring.  It was interesting to watch the effect of this trifling
amount of moisture.  Twelve hours afterwards the ground
appeared as dry as ever; yet after an interval of ten days,
all the hills were faintly tinged with green patches; the
grass being sparingly scattered in hair-like fibres a full
inch in length.  Before this shower every part of the surface
was bare as on a high road.

In the evening, Captain Fitz Roy and myself were dining
with Mr. Edwards, an English resident well known for his
hospitality by all who have visited Coquimbo, when a sharp
earthquake happened.  I heard the forecoming rumble, but
from the screams of the ladies, the running of the servants,
and the rush of several of the gentlemen to the doorway, I
could not distinguish the motion.  Some of the women afterwards
were crying with terror, and one gentleman said he
should not be able to sleep all night, or if he did, it would
only be to dream of falling houses.  The father of this person
had lately lost all his property at Talcahuano, and he
himself had only just escaped a falling roof at Valparaiso,
in 1822.  He mentioned a curious coincidence which then
happened: he was playing at cards, when a German, one of
the party, got up, and said he would never sit in a room in
these countries with the door shut, as owing to his having
done so, he had nearly lost his life at Copiapo.  Accordingly
he opened the door; and no sooner had he done this, than he
cried out, "Here it comes again!" and the famous shock
commenced.  The whole party escaped.  The danger in an
earthquake is not from the time lost in opening the door, but
from the chance of its becoming jammed by the movement
of the walls.

It is impossible to be much surprised at the fear which
natives and old residents, though some of them known to
be men of great command of mind, so generally experience
during earthquakes.  I think, however, this excess of panic
may be partly attributed to a want of habit in governing
their fear, as it is not a feeling they are ashamed of.  Indeed,
the natives do not like to see a person indifferent.  I
heard of two Englishmen who, sleeping in the open air during
a smart shock, knowing that there was no danger, did not
rise.  The natives cried out indignantly, "Look at those
heretics, they do not even get out of their beds!"


I spent some days in examining the step-formed terraces
of shingle, first noticed by Captain B. Hall, and believed
by Mr. Lyell to have been formed by the sea, during the
gradual rising of the land.  This certainly is the true
explanation, for I found numerous shells of existing species
on these terraces.  Five narrow, gently sloping, fringe-like
terraces rise one behind the other, and where best developed
are formed of shingle: they front the bay, and sweep up both
sides of the valley.  At Guasco, north of Coquimbo, the
phenomenon is displayed on a much grander scale, so as to
strike with surprise even some of the inhabitants.  The terraces
are there much broader, and may be called plains, in
some parts there are six of them, but generally only five;
they run up the valley for thirty-seven miles from the coast.
These step-formed terraces or fringes closely resemble those
in the valley of S. Cruz, and, except in being on a smaller
scale, those great ones along the whole coast-line of Patagonia.
They have undoubtedly been formed by the denuding
power of the sea, during long periods of rest in the
gradual elevation of the continent.

Shells of many existing species not only lie on the surface
of the terraces at Coquimbo (to a height of 250 feet),
but are embedded in a friable calcareous rock, which in some
places is as much as between twenty and thirty feet in
thickness, but is of little extent.  These modern beds rest on an
ancient tertiary formation containing shells, apparently all
extinct.  Although I examined so many hundred miles of
coast on the Pacific, as well as Atlantic side of the continent,
I found no regular strata containing sea-shells of
recent species, excepting at this place, and at a few points
northward on the road to Guasco.  This fact appears to me
highly remarkable; for the explanation generally given by
geologists, of the absence in any district of stratified
fossiliferous deposits of a given period, namely, that the
surface then existed as dry land, is not here applicable; for we
know from the shells strewed on the surface and embedded
in loose sand or mould that the land for thousands of miles
along both coasts has lately been submerged.  The explanation,
no doubt, must be sought in the fact, that the whole
southern part of the continent has been for a long time
slowly rising; and therefore that all matter deposited along
shore in shallow water, must have been soon brought up
and slowly exposed to the wearing action of the sea-beach;
and it is only in comparatively shallow water that the greater
number of marine organic beings can flourish, and in such
water it is obviously impossible that strata of any great
thickness can accumulate.  To show the vast power of the
wearing action of sea-beaches, we need only appeal to the
great cliffs along the present coast of Patagonia, and to the
escarpments or ancient sea-cliffs at different levels, one
above another, on that same line of coast.

The old underlying tertiary formation at Coquimbo,
appears to be of about the same age with several deposits
on the coast of Chile (of which that of Navedad is the
principal one), and with the great formation of Patagonia.
Both at Navedad and in Patagonia there is evidence, that
since the shells (a list of which has been seen by Professor
E. Forbes) there entombed were living, there has been a
subsidence of several hundred feet, as well as an ensuing
elevation.  It may naturally be asked, how it comes that,
although no extensive fossiliferous deposits of the recent
period, nor of any period intermediate between it and the
ancient tertiary epoch, have been preserved on either side of
the continent, yet that at this ancient tertiary epoch,
sedimentary matter containing fossil remains, should have been
deposited and preserved at different points in north and
south lines, over a space of 1100 miles on the shores of the
Pacific, and of at least 1350 miles on the shores of the
Atlantic, and in an east and west line of 700 miles across the
widest part of the continent?  I believe the explanation is
not difficult, and that it is perhaps applicable to nearly
analogous facts observed in other quarters of the world.
Considering the enormous power of denudation which the sea
possesses, as shown by numberless facts, it is not probable
that a sedimentary deposit, when being upraised, could pass
through the ordeal of the beach, so as to be preserved in
sufficient masses to last to a distant period, without it were
originally of wide extent and of considerable thickness: now
it is impossible on a moderately shallow bottom, which
alone is favourable to most living creatures, that a thick
and widely extended covering of sediment could be spread
out, without the bottom sank down to receive the successive
layers.  This seems to have actually taken place at about
the same period in southern Patagonia and Chile, though
these places are a thousand miles apart.  Hence, if prolonged
movements of approximately contemporaneous subsidence
are generally widely extensive, as I am strongly
inclined to believe from my examination of the Coral Reefs
of the great oceans — or if, confining our view to South
America, the subsiding movements have been coextensive
with those of elevation, by which, within the same period
of existing shells, the shores of Peru, Chile, Tierra del
Fuego, Patagonia, and La Plata have been upraised — then
we can see that at the same time, at far distant points,
circumstances would have been favourable to the formation of
fossiliferous deposits of wide extent and of considerable
thickness; and such deposits, consequently, would have a
good chance of resisting the wear and tear of successive
beach-lines, and of lasting to a future epoch.


May 21st. — I set out in company with Don Jose Edwards
to the silver-mine of Arqueros, and thence up the valley of
Coquimbo.  Passing through a mountainous country, we
reached by nightfall the mines belonging to Mr. Edwards.
I enjoyed my night's rest here from a reason which will not
be fully appreciated in England, namely, the absence of
fleas!  The rooms in Coquimbo swarm with them; but they
will not live here at the height of only three or four
thousand feet: it can scarcely be the trifling diminution
of temperature, but some other cause which destroys these
troublesome insects at this place.  The mines are now in a
bad state, though they formerly yielded about 2000 pounds
in weight of silver a year.  It has been said that "a person
with a copper-mine will gain; with silver he may gain; but
with gold he is sure to lose." This is not true: all the large
Chilian fortunes have been made by mines of the more
precious metals.  A short time since an English physician
returned to England from Copiapo, taking with him the
profits of one share of a silver-mine, which amounted to
about 24,000 pounds sterling.  No doubt a copper-mine with
care is a sure game, whereas the other is gambling, or rather
taking a ticket in a lottery.  The owners lose great quantities
of rich ores; for no precautions can prevent robberies.
I heard of a gentleman laying a bet with another, that one
of his men should rob him before his face.  The ore when
brought out of the mine is broken into pieces, and the useless
stone thrown on one side.  A couple of the miners who
were thus employed, pitched, as if by accident, two fragments
away at the same moment, and then cried out for a joke
"Let us see which rolls furthest." The owner, who was
standing by, bet a cigar with his friend on the race.  The
miner by this means watched the very point amongst the
rubbish where the stone lay.  In the evening he picked it
up and carried it to his master, showing him a rich mass of
silver-ore, and saying, "This was the stone on which you
won a cigar by its rolling so far."

May 23rd. — We descended into the fertile valley of Coquimbo,
and followed it till we reached an Hacienda belonging
to a relation of Don Jose, where we stayed the next day.
I then rode one day's journey further, to see what were
declared to be some petrified shells and beans, which latter
turned out to be small quartz pebbles.  We passed through
several small villages; and the valley was beautifully
cultivated, and the whole scenery very grand.  We were here
near the main Cordillera, and the surrounding hills were
lofty.  In all parts of northern Chile, fruit trees produce
much more abundantly at a considerable height near the
Andes than in the lower country.  The figs and grapes of
this district are famous for their excellence, and are
cultivated to a great extent.  This valley is, perhaps, the most
productive one north of Quillota.  I believe it contains,
including Coquimbo, 25,000 inhabitants.  The next day I
returned to the Hacienda, and thence, together with Don
Jose, to Coquimbo.

June 2nd. — We set out for the valley of Guasco, following
the coast-road, which was considered rather less desert than
the other.  Our first day's ride was to a solitary house, called
Yerba Buena, where there was pasture for our horses.  The
shower mentioned as having fallen, a fortnight ago, only
reached about half-way to Guasco; we had, therefore, in the
first part of our journey a most faint tinge of green, which
soon faded quite away.  Even where brightest, it was scarcely
sufficient to remind one of the fresh turf and budding
flowers of the spring of other countries.  While travelling
through these deserts one feels like a prisoner shut up in
a gloomy court, who longs to see something green and to
smell a moist atmosphere.

June 3rd. — Yerba Buena to Carizal.  During the first part
of the day we crossed a mountainous rocky desert, and afterwards
a long deep sandy plain, strewed with broken seashells.
There was very little water, and that little saline:
the whole country, from the coast to the Cordillera, is an
uninhabited desert.  I saw traces only of one living animal in
abundance, namely, the shells of a Bulimus, which were
collected together in extraordinary numbers on the driest
spots.  In the spring one humble little plant sends out a few
leaves, and on these the snails feed.  As they are seen only
very early in the morning, when the ground is slightly damp
with dew, the Guascos believe that they are bred from it.  I
have observed in other places that extremely dry and sterile
districts, where the soil is calcareous, are extraordinarily
favourable to land-shells.  At Carizal there were a few cottages,
some brackish water, and a trace of cultivation: but it
was with difficulty that we purchased a little corn and straw
for our horses.

4th. — Carizal to Sauce.  We continued to ride over desert
plains, tenanted by large herds of guanaco.  We crossed also
the valley of Chaneral; which, although the most fertile one
between Guasco and Coquimbo, is very narrow, and produces
so little pasture, that we could not purchase any for our
horses.  At Sauce we found a very civil old gentleman,
superintendent of a copper-smelting furnace.  As an especial
favour, he allowed me to purchase at a high price an armful
of dirty straw, which was all the poor horses had for supper
after their long day's journey.  Few smelting-furnaces are
now at work in any part of Chile; it is found more profitable,
on account of the extreme scarcity of firewood, and from
the Chilian method of reduction being so unskilful, to ship the
ore for Swansea.  The next day we crossed some mountains
to Freyrina, in the valley of Guasco.  During each day's ride
further northward, the vegetation became more and more
scanty; even the great chandelier-like cactus was here
replaced by a different and much smaller species.  During the
winter months, both in northern Chile and in Peru, a uniform
bank of clouds hangs, at no great height, over the Pacific.
From the mountains we had a very striking view of this
white and brilliant aerial-field, which sent arms up the
valleys, leaving islands and promontories in the same manner, as
the sea does in the Chonos archipelago and in Tierra del Fuego.

We stayed two days at Freyrina.  In the valley of Guasco
there are four small towns.  At the mouth there is the port, a
spot entirely desert, and without any water in the immediate
neighbourhood.  Five leagues higher up stands Freyrina, a
long straggling village, with decent whitewashed houses.
Again, ten leagues further up Ballenar is situated, and above
this Guasco Alto, a horticultural village, famous for its dried
fruit.  On a clear day the view up the valley is very fine; the
straight opening terminates in the far-distant snowy Cordillera;
on each side an infinity of crossing-lines are blended
together in a beautiful haze.  The foreground is singular
from the number of parallel and step-formed terraces; and
the included strip of green valley, with its willow-bushes, is
contrasted on both hands with the naked hills.  That the
surrounding country was most barren will be readily believed,
when it is known that a shower of rain had not fallen during
the last thirteen months.  The inhabitants heard with the
greatest envy of the rain at Coquimbo; from the appearance
of the sky they had hopes of equally good fortune, which, a
fortnight afterwards, were realized.  I was at Copiapo at the
time; and there the people, with equal envy, talked of the
abundant rain at Guasco.  After two or three very dry years,
perhaps with not more than one shower during the whole
time, a rainy year generally follows; and this does more harm
than even the drought.  The rivers swell, and cover with
gravel and sand the narrow strips of ground, which alone are
fit for cultivation.  The floods also injure the irrigating
ditches.  Great devastation had thus been caused three years
ago.

June 8th. — We rode on to Ballenar, which takes its name
from Ballenagh in Ireland, the birthplace of the family of
O'Higgins, who, under the Spanish government, were presidents
and generals in Chile.  As the rocky mountains on each
hand were concealed by clouds, the terrace-like plains gave
to the valley an appearance like that of Santa Cruz in
Patagonia.  After spending one day at Ballenar I set out, on the
10th, for the upper part of the valley of Copiapo.  We rode
all day over an uninteresting country.  I am tired of repeating
the epithets barren and sterile.  These words, however,
as commonly used, are comparative; I have always applied
them to the plains of Patagonia, which can boast of spiny
bushes and some tufts of grass; and this is absolute fertility,
as compared with northern Chile.  Here again, there are not
many spaces of two hundred yards square, where some little
bush, cactus or lichen, may not be discovered by careful
examination; and in the soil seeds lie dormant ready to
spring up during the first rainy winter.  In Peru real deserts
occur over wide tracts of country.  In the evening we
arrived at a valley, in which the bed of the streamlet was
damp: following it up, we came to tolerably good water.
During the night, the stream, from not being evaporated
and absorbed so quickly, flows a league lower down than
during the day.  Sticks were plentiful for firewood, so that
it was a good place to bivouac for us; but for the poor animals
there was not a mouthful to eat.

June 11th. — We rode without stopping for twelve hours
till we reached an old smelting-furnace, where there was
water and firewood; but our horses again had nothing to eat,
being shut up in an old courtyard.  The line of road was
hilly, and the distant views interesting, from the varied
colours of the bare mountains.  It was almost a pity to see
the sun shining constantly over so useless a country; such
splendid weather ought to have brightened fields and pretty
gardens.  The next day we reached the valley of Copiapo.
I was heartily glad of it; for the whole journey was a continued
source of anxiety; it was most disagreeable to hear,
whilst eating our own suppers, our horses gnawing the posts
to which they were tied, and to have no means of relieving
their hunger.  To all appearance, however, the animals
were quite fresh; and no one could have told that they had
eaten nothing for the last fifty-five hours.

I had a letter of introduction to Mr. Bingley, who received
me very kindly at the Hacienda of Potrero Seco.  This
estate is between twenty and thirty miles long, but very narrow,
being generally only two fields wide, one on each side
the river.  In some parts the estate is of no width, that is
to say, the land cannot be irrigated, and therefore is
valueless, like the surrounding rocky desert.  The small quantity
of cultivated land in the whole line of valley, does not so
much depend on inequalities of level, and consequent unfitness
for irrigation, as on the small supply of water.  The
river this year was remarkably full: here, high up the valley,
it reached to the horse's belly, and was about fifteen yards
wide, and rapid; lower down it becomes smaller and smaller,
and is generally quite lost, as happened during one period
of thirty years, so that not a drop entered the sea.  The
inhabitants watch a storm over the Cordillera with great
interest; as one good fall of snow provides them with water
for the ensuing year.  This is of infinitely more consequence
than rain in the lower country.  Rain, as often as it falls,
which is about once in every two or three years, is a great
advantage, because the cattle and mules can for some time
afterwards find a little pasture in the mountains.  But without
snow on the Andes, desolation extends throughout the
valley.  It is on record that three times nearly all the
inhabitants have been obliged to emigrate to the south.  This
year there was plenty of water, and every man irrigated his
ground as much as he chose; but it has frequently been
necessary to post soldiers at the sluices, to see that each
estate took only its proper allowance during so many hours
in the week.  The valley is said to contain 12,000 souls, but
its produce is sufficient only for three months in the year;
the rest of the supply being drawn from Valparaiso and the
south.  Before the discovery of the famous silver-mines of
Chanuncillo, Copiapo was in a rapid state of decay; but now
it is in a very thriving condition; and the town, which was
completely overthrown by an earthquake, has been rebuilt.

The valley of Copiapo, forming a mere ribbon of green
in a desert, runs in a very southerly direction; so that it is
of considerable length to its source in the Cordillera.  The
valleys of Guasco and Copiapo may both be considered as
long narrow islands, separated from the rest of Chile by
deserts of rock instead of by salt water.  Northward of
these, there is one other very miserable valley, called Paposo,
which contains about two hundred souls; and then there
extends the real desert of Atacama — a barrier far worse
than the most turbulent ocean.  After staying a few days at
Potrero Seco, I proceeded up the valley to the house of Don
Benito Cruz, to whom I had a letter of introduction.  I found
him most hospitable; indeed it is impossible to bear too
strong testimony to the kindness with which travellers are
received in almost every part of South America.  The next
day I hired some mules to take me by the ravine of Jolquera
into the central Cordillera.  On the second night the
weather seemed to foretell a storm of snow or rain, and whilst
lying in our beds we felt a trifling shock of an earthquake.

The connection between earthquakes and the weather has
been often disputed: it appears to me to be a point of great
interest, which is little understood.  Humboldt has remarked
in one part of the Personal Narrative, [1] that it would be
difficult for any person who had long resided in New Andalusia,
or in Lower Peru, to deny that there exists some connection
between these phenomena: in another part, however
he seems to think the connection fanciful.  At Guayaquil
it is said that a heavy shower in the dry season is invariably
followed by an earthquake.  In Northern Chile, from the
extreme infrequency of rain, or even of weather foreboding
rain, the probability of accidental coincidences becomes very
small; yet the inhabitants are here most firmly convinced of
some connection between the state of the atmosphere and of
the trembling of the ground: I was much struck by this
when mentioning to some people at Copiapo that there had
been a sharp shock at Coquimbo: they immediately cried out,
"How fortunate! there will be plenty of pasture there this
year." To their minds an earthquake foretold rain as surely
as rain foretold abundant pasture.  Certainly it did so happen
that on the very day of the earthquake, that shower of
rain fell, which I have described as in ten days' time producing
a thin sprinkling of grass.  At other times rain has
followed earthquakes at a period of the year when it is a
far greater prodigy than the earthquake itself: this happened
after the shock of November, 1822, and again in 1829, at
Valparaiso; also after that of September, 1833, at Tacna.
A person must be somewhat habituated to the climate of
these countries to perceive the extreme improbability of rain
falling at such seasons, except as a consequence of some law
quite unconnected with the ordinary course of the weather.
In the cases of great volcanic eruptions, as that of Coseguina,
where torrents of rain fell at a time of the year most
unusual for it, and "almost unprecedented in Central
America," it is not difficult to understand that the volumes
of vapour and clouds of ashes might have disturbed the
atmospheric equilibrium.  Humboldt extends this view to
the case of earthquakes unaccompanied by eruptions; but I
can hardly conceive it possible, that the small quantity of
aeriform fluids which then escape from the fissured ground,
can produce such remarkable effects.  There appears much
probability in the view first proposed by Mr. P. Scrope, that
when the barometer is low, and when rain might naturally
be expected to fall, the diminished pressure of the atmosphere
over a wide extent of country, might well determine
the precise day on which the earth, already stretched to the
utmost by the subterranean forces, should yield, crack, and
consequently tremble.  It is, however, doubtful how far this
idea will explain the circumstances of torrents of rain falling
in the dry season during several days, after an earthquake
unaccompanied by an eruption; such cases seem to
bespeak some more intimate connection between the atmospheric
and subterranean regions.

Finding little of interest in this part of the ravine, we
retraced our steps to the house of Don Benito, where I stayed
two days collecting fossil shells and wood.  Great prostrate
silicified trunks of trees, embedded in a conglomerate, were
extraordinarily numerous.  I measured one, which was fifteen
feet in circumference: how surprising it is that every
atom of the woody matter in this great cylinder should have
been removed and replaced by silex so perfectly, that each
vessel and pore is preserved!  These trees flourished at about
the period of our lower chalk; they all belonged to the fir-
tribe.  It was amusing to hear the inhabitants discussing the
nature of the fossil shells which I collected, almost in the
same terms as were used a century ago in Europe, — namely,
whether or not they had been thus "born by nature." My
geological examination of the country generally created a
good deal of surprise amongst the Chilenos: it was long
before they could be convinced that I was not hunting for
mines.  This was sometimes troublesome: I found the most
ready way of explaining my employment, was to ask them
how it was that they themselves were not curious concerning
earthquakes and volcanos? — why some springs were hot and
others cold? — why there were mountains in Chile, and not
a hill in La Plata?  These bare questions at once satisfied
and silenced the greater number; some, however (like a few
in England who are a century behindhand), thought that all
such inquiries were useless and impious; and that it was
quite sufficient that God had thus made the mountains.

An order had recently been issued that all stray dogs
should be killed, and we saw many lying dead on the road.  A
great number had lately gone mad, and several men had been
bitten and had died in consequence.  On several occasions
hydrophobia has prevailed in this valley.  It is remarkable
thus to find so strange and dreadful a disease, appearing
time after time in the same isolated spot.  It has been
remarked that certain villages in England are in like manner
much more subject to this visitation than others.  Dr. Unanue
states that hydrophobia was first known in South
America in 1803: this statement is corroborated by Azara
and Ulloa having never heard of it in their time.  Dr. Unanue
says that it broke out in Central America, and slowly
travelled southward.  It reached Arequipa in 1807; and it is
said that some men there, who had not been bitten, were
affected, as were some negroes, who had eaten a bullock
which had died of hydrophobia.  At Ica forty-two people thus
miserably perished.  The disease came on between twelve
and ninety days after the bite; and in those cases where it
did come on, death ensued invariably within five days.  After
1808, a long interval ensued without any cases.  On inquiry,
I did not hear of hydrophobia in Van Diemen's Land, or in
Australia; and Burchell says, that during the five years he
was at the Cape of Good Hope, he never heard of an instance
of it.  Webster asserts that at the Azores hydrophobia has
never occurred; and the same assertion has been made with
respect to Mauritius and St. Helena. [2] In so strange a disease
some information might possibly be gained by considering
the circumstances under which it originates in distant climates;
for it is improbable that a dog already bitten, should
have been brought to these distant countries.

At night, a stranger arrived at the house of Don Benito,
and asked permission to sleep there.  He said he had been
wandering about the mountains for seventeen days, having
lost his way.  He started from Guasco, and being accustomed
to travelling in the Cordillera, did not expect any difficulty
in following the track to Copiapo; but he soon became
involved in a labyrinth of mountains, whence he could not
escape.  Some of his mules had fallen over precipices, and he
had been in great distress.  His chief difficulty arose from
not knowing where to find water in the lower country, so that
he was obliged to keep bordering the central ranges.

We returned down the valley, and on the 22nd reached
the town of Copiapo.  The lower part of the valley is broad,
forming a fine plain like that of Quillota.  The town covers
a considerable space of ground, each house possessing a garden:
but it is an uncomfortable place, and the dwellings are
poorly furnished.  Every one seems bent on the one object
of making money, and then migrating as quickly as possible.
All the inhabitants are more or less directly concerned with
mines; and mines and ores are the sole subjects of conversation.
Necessaries of all sorts are extremely dear; as the
distance from the town to the port is eighteen leagues, and
the land carriage very expensive.  A fowl costs five or six
shillings; meat is nearly as dear as in England; firewood,
or rather sticks, are brought on donkeys from a distance of
two and three days' journey within the Cordillera; and pasturage
for animals is a shilling a day: all this for South
America is wonderfully exorbitant.


June 26th. — I hired a guide and eight mules to take me
into the Cordillera by a different line from my last excursion.
As the country was utterly desert, we took a cargo
and a half of barley mixed with chopped straw.  About two
leagues above the town a broad valley called the "Despoblado,"
or uninhabited, branches off from that one by which
we had arrived.  Although a valley of the grandest dimensions,
and leading to a pass across the Cordillera, yet it is
completely dry, excepting perhaps for a few days during
some very rainy winter.  The sides of the crumbling mountains
were furrowed by scarcely any ravines; and the bottom
of the main valley, filled with shingle, was smooth and nearly
level.  No considerable torrent could ever have flowed down
this bed of shingle; for if it had, a great cliff-bounded
channel, as in all the southern valleys, would assuredly have
been formed.  I feel little doubt that this valley, as well as
those mentioned by travellers in Peru, were left in the state we
now see them by the waves of the sea, as the land slowly rose.  I
observed in one place, where the Despoblado was joined by a
ravine (which in almost any other chain would have been
called a grand valley), that its bed, though composed merely
of sand and gravel, was higher than that of its tributary.
A mere rivulet of water, in the course of an hour, would have
cut a channel for itself; but it was evident that ages had
passed away, and no such rivulet had drained this great
tributary.  It was curious to behold the machinery, if such a
term may be used, for the drainage, all, with the last trifling
exception, perfect, yet without any signs of action.  Every one
must have remarked how mud-banks, left by the retiring tide,
imitate in miniature a country with hill and dale; and here
we have the original model in rock, formed as the continent
rose during the secular retirement of the ocean, instead of
during the ebbing and flowing of the tides.  If a shower of
rain falls on the mud-bank, when left dry, it deepens the
already-formed shallow lines of excavation; and so it is with
the rain of successive centuries on the bank of rock and soil,
which we call a continent.

We rode on after it was dark, till we reached a side ravine
with a small well, called "Agua amarga." The water
deserved its name, for besides being saline it was most
offensively putrid and bitter; so that we could not force
ourselves to drink either tea or mate.  I suppose the distance
from the river of Copiapo to this spot was at least twenty-five
or thirty English miles; in the whole space there was not a
single drop of water, the country deserving the name of desert
in the strictest sense.  Yet about half way we passed some old
Indian ruins near Punta Gorda: I noticed also in front of
some of the valleys, which branch off from the Despoblado,
two piles of stones placed a little way apart, and directed so
as to point up the mouths of these small valleys.  My companions
knew nothing about them, and only answered my
queries by their imperturbable "quien sabe?"

I observed Indian ruins in several parts of the Cordillera:
the most perfect which I saw, were the Ruinas de Tambillos,
in the Uspallata Pass.  Small square rooms were there huddled
together in separate groups: some of the doorways were
yet standing; they were formed by a cross slab of stone only
about three feet high.  Ulloa has remarked on the lowness of
the doors in the ancient Peruvian dwellings.  These houses,
when perfect, must have been capable of containing a
considerable number of persons.  Tradition says, that they were
used as halting-places for the Incas, when they crossed the
mountains.  Traces of Indian habitations have been discovered
in many other parts, where it does not appear probable
that they were used as mere resting-places, but yet where
the land is as utterly unfit for any kind of cultivation, as it
is near the Tambillos or at the Incas Bridge, or in the Portillo
Pass, at all which places I saw ruins.  In the ravine of
Jajuel, near Aconcagua, where there is no pass, I heard of
remains of houses situated at a great height, where it is
extremely cold and sterile.  At first I imagined that these
buildings had been places of refuge, built by the Indians on
the first arrival of the Spaniards; but I have since been
inclined to speculate on the probability of a small change of
climate.

In this northern part of Chile, within the Cordillera, old
Indian houses are said to be especially numerous: by digging
amongst the ruins, bits of woollen articles, instruments of
precious metals, and heads of Indian corn, are not unfrequently
discovered: an arrow-head made of agate, and of
precisely the same form with those now used in Tierra del
Fuego, was given me.  I am aware that the Peruvian Indians
now frequently inhabit most lofty and bleak situations; but
at Copiapo I was assured by men who had spent their lives in
travelling through the Andes, that there were very many
(muchisimas)  buildings at heights so great as almost to border
upon the perpetual snow, and in parts where there exist
no passes, and where the land produces absolutely nothing,
and what is still more extraordinary, where there is no water.
Nevertheless it is the opinion of the people of the country
(although they are much puzzled by the circumstance), that,
from the appearance of the houses, the Indians must have
used them as places of residence.  In this valley, at Punta
Gorda, the remains consisted of seven or eight square little
rooms, which were of a similar form with those at Tambillos,
but built chiefly of mud, which the present inhabitants cannot,
either here or, according to Ulloa, in Peru, imitate in
durability.  They were situated in the most conspicuous and
defenceless position, at the bottom of the flat broad valley.
There was no water nearer than three or four leagues, and
that only in very small quantity, and bad: the soil was
absolutely sterile; I looked in vain even for a lichen adhering
to the rocks.  At the present day, with the advantage of beasts
of burden, a mine, unless it were very rich, could scarcely
be worked here with profit.  Yet the Indians formerly chose
it as a place of residence!  If at the present time two or
three showers of rain were to fall annually, instead of one,
as now is the case during as many years, a small rill of water
would probably be formed in this great valley; and then, by
irrigation (which was formerly so well understood by the
Indians), the soil would easily be rendered sufficiently
productive to support a few families.

I have convincing proofs that this part of the continent of
South America has been elevated near the coast at least from
400 to 500, and in some parts from 1000 to 1300 feet, since
the epoch of existing shells; and further inland the rise
possibly may have been greater.  As the peculiarly arid character
of the climate is evidently a consequence of the height of the
Cordillera, we may feel almost sure that before the later
elevations, the atmosphere could not have been so completely
drained of its moisture as it now is; and as the rise has been
gradual, so would have been the change in climate.  On this
notion of a change of climate since the buildings were
inhabited, the ruins must be of extreme antiquity, but I do
not think their preservation under the Chilian climate any
great difficulty.  We must also admit on this notion (and
this perhaps is a greater difficulty) that man has inhabited
South America for an immensely long period, inasmuch as
any change of climate effected by the elevation of the land
must have been extremely gradual.  At Valparaiso, within
the last 220 years, the rise has been somewhat less than 19
feet: at Lima a sea-beach has certainly been upheaved from
80 to 90 feet, within the Indo-human period: but such small
elevations could have had little power in deflecting the
moisture-bringing atmospheric currents.  Dr. Lund, however,
found human skeletons in the caves of Brazil, the appearance
of which induced him to believe that the Indian race has
existed during a vast lapse of time in South America.

When at Lima, I conversed on these subjects [3] with Mr.
Gill, a civil engineer, who had seen much of the interior
country.  He told me that a conjecture of a change of climate
had sometimes crossed his mind; but that he thought
that the greater portion of land, now incapable of cultivation,
but covered with Indian ruins, had been reduced to this state
by the water-conduits, which the Indians formerly constructed
on so wonderful a scale, having been injured by
neglect and by subterranean movements.  I may here mention,
that the Peruvians actually carried their irrigating
streams in tunnels through hills of solid rock.  Mr. Gill told
me, he had been employed professionally to examine one:
he found the passage low, narrow, crooked, and not of uniform
breadth, but of very considerable length.  Is it not
most wonderful that men should have attempted such operations,
without the use of iron or gunpowder?  Mr. Gill also
mentioned to me a most interesting, and, as far as I am
aware, quite unparalleled case, of a subterranean disturbance
having changed the drainage of a country.  Travelling from
Casma to Huaraz (not very far distant from Lima), he
found a plain covered with ruins and marks of ancient
cultivation but now quite barren.  Near it was the dry course of
a considerable river, whence the water for irrigation had
formerly been conducted.  There was nothing in the appearance
of the water-course to indicate that the river had not flowed
there a few years previously; in some parts, beds of sand and
gravel were spread out; in others, the solid rock had been
worn into a broad channel, which in one spot was about 40
yards in breadth and 8 feet deep.  It is self-evident that a
person following up the course of a stream, will always
ascend at a greater or less inclination: Mr. Gill, therefore,
was much astonished, when walking up the bed of this
ancient river, to find himself suddenly going down hill.  He
imagined that the downward slope had a fall of about 40 or
50 feet perpendicular.  We here have unequivocal evidence
that a ridge had been uplifted right across the old bed of a
stream.  From the moment the river-course was thus arched,
the water must necessarily have been thrown back, and a new
channel formed.  From that moment, also, the neighbouring
plain must have lost its fertilizing stream, and become a
desert.

June 27th. — We set out early in the morning, and by midday
reached the ravine of Paypote, where there is a tiny rill
of water, with a little vegetation, and even a few algarroba
trees, a kind of mimosa.  From having fire-wood, a smelting-
furnace had formerly been built here: we found a solitary
man in charge of it, whose sole employment was hunting
guanacos.  At night it froze sharply; but having plenty of
wood for our fire, we kept ourselves warm.

28th. — We continued gradually ascending, and the valley
now changed into a ravine.  During the day we saw several
guanacos, and the track of the closely-allied species, the
Vicuna: this latter animal is pre-eminently alpine in its
habits; it seldom descends much below the limit of perpetual
snow, and therefore haunts even a more lofty and sterile
situation than the guanaco.  The only other animal which we
saw in any number was a small fox: I suppose this animal
preys on the mice and other small rodents, which, as long as
there is the least vegetation, subsist in considerable numbers
in very desert places.  In Patagonia, even on the borders of
the salinas, where a drop of fresh water can never be found,
excepting dew, these little animals swarm.  Next to lizards,
mice appear to be able to support existence on the smallest
and driest portions of the earth — even on islets in the midst
of great oceans.

The scene on all sides showed desolation, brightened and
made palpable by a clear, unclouded sky.  For a time such
scenery is sublime, but this feeling cannot last, and then it
becomes uninteresting.  We bivouacked at the foot of the
"primera linea," or the first line of the partition of waters.
The streams, however, on the east side do not flow to the
Atlantic, but into an elevated district, in the middle of which
there is a large saline, or salt lake; thus forming a little
Caspian Sea at the height, perhaps, of ten thousand feet.  Where
we slept, there were some considerable patches of snow, but
they do not remain throughout the year.  The winds in these
lofty regions obey very regular laws every day a fresh
breeze blows up the valley, and at night, an hour or two after
sunset, the air from the cold regions above descends as
through a funnel.  This night it blew a gale of wind, and the
temperature must have been considerably below the freezing-
point, for water in a vessel soon became a block of ice.  No
clothes seemed to oppose any obstacle to the air; I suffered
very much from the cold, so that I could not sleep, and in
the morning rose with my body quite dull and benumbed.

In the Cordillera further southward, people lose their lives
from snowstorms; here, it sometimes happens from another
cause.  My guide, when a boy of fourteen years old, was
passing the Cordillera with a party in the month of May;
and while in the central parts, a furious gale of wind arose,
so that the men could hardly cling on their mules, and stones
were flying along the ground.  The day was cloudless, and
not a speck of snow fell, but the temperature was low.  It is
probable that the thermometer could not have stood very
many degrees below the freezing-point, but the effect on
their bodies, ill protected by clothing, must have been in
proportion to the rapidity of the current of cold air.  The gale
lasted for more than a day; the men began to lose their
strength, and the mules would not move onwards.  My guide's
brother tried to return, but he perished, and his body was
found two years afterwards, Lying by the side of his mule
near the road, with the bridle still in his hand.  Two other
men in the party lost their fingers and toes; and out of two
hundred mules and thirty cows, only fourteen mules escaped
alive.  Many years ago the whole of a large party are supposed
to have perished from a similar cause, but their bodies
to this day have never been discovered.  The union of a
cloudless sky, low temperature, and a furious gale of wind,
must be, I should think, in all parts of the world an unusual
occurrence.

June 29th — We gladly travelled down the valley to our
former night's lodging, and thence to near the Agua amarga.
On July 1st we reached the valley of Copiapo.  The smell of
the fresh clover was quite delightful, after the scentless air
of the dry, sterile Despoblado.  Whilst staying in the town I
heard an account from several of the inhabitants, of a hill
in the neighbourhood which they called "El Bramador," — the
roarer or bellower.  I did not at the time pay sufficient
attention to the account; but, as far as I understood, the hill
was covered by sand, and the noise was produced only when
people, by ascending it, put the sand in motion.  The same
circumstances are described in detail on the authority of
Seetzen and Ehrenberg, [4] as the cause of the sounds which
have been heard by many travellers on Mount Sinai near the
Red Sea.  One person with whom I conversed had himself
heard the noise: he described it as very surprising; and he
distinctly stated that, although he could not understand how
it was caused, yet it was necessary to set the sand rolling
down the acclivity.  A horse walking over dry coarse sand,
causes a peculiar chirping noise from the friction of the
particles; a circumstance which I several times noticed on the
coast of Brazil.

Three days afterwards I heard of the Beagle's arrival at
the Port, distant eighteen leagues from the town.  There is
very little land cultivated down the valley; its wide expanse
supports a wretched wiry grass, which even the donkeys can
hardly eat.  This poorness of the vegetation is owing to the
quantity of saline matter with which the soil is impregnated.
The Port consists of an assemblage of miserable little hovels,
situated at the foot of a sterile plain.  At present, as the
river contains water enough to reach the sea, the inhabitants
enjoy the advantage of having fresh water within a mile and
a half.  On the beach there were large piles of merchandise,
and the little place had an air of activity.  In the evening
I gave my adios, with a hearty good-will, to my companion
Mariano Gonzales, with whom I had ridden so many leagues
in Chile.  The next morning the Beagle sailed for Iquique.

July 12th. — We anchored in the port of Iquique, in lat.
20 degs. 12', on the coast of Peru.  The town contains about a
thousand inhabitants, and stands on a little plain of sand at
the foot of a great wall of rock, 2000 feet in height, here
forming the coast.  The whole is utterly desert.  A light
shower of rain falls only once in very many years; and the
ravines consequently are filled with detritus, and the
mountain-sides covered by piles of fine white sand, even to a
height of a thousand feet.  During this season of the year a
heavy bank of clouds, stretched over the ocean, seldom rises
above the wall of rocks on the coast.  The aspect of the place
was most gloomy; the little port, with its few vessels, and
small group of wretched houses, seemed overwhelmed and out of
all proportion with the rest of the scene.

The inhabitants live like persons on board a ship: every
necessary comes from a distance: water is brought in boats
from Pisagua, about forty miles northward, and is sold at
the rate of nine reals (4s. 6d.) an eighteen-gallon cask: I
bought a wine-bottle full for threepence.  In like manner
firewood, and of course every article of food, is imported.
Very few animals can be maintained in such a place: on the
ensuing morning I hired with difficulty, at the price of four
pounds sterling, two mules and a guide to take me to the
nitrate of soda works.  These are at present the support of
Iquique.  This salt was first exported in 1830: in one year an
amount in value of one hundred thousand pounds sterling,
was sent to France and England.  It is principally used as a
manure and in the manufacture of nitric acid: owing to its
deliquescent property it will not serve for gunpowder.  Formerly
there were two exceedingly rich silver-mines in this
neighbourhood, but their produce is now very small.

Our arrival in the offing caused some little apprehension.
Peru was in a state of anarchy; and each party having
demanded a contribution, the poor town of Iquique was in
tribulation, thinking the evil hour was come.  The people
had also their domestic troubles; a short time before, three

French carpenters had broken open, during the same night,
the two churches, and stolen all the plate: one of the robbers,
however, subsequently confessed, and the plate was recovered.
The convicts were sent to Arequipa, which though the capital
of this province, is two hundred leagues distant, the government
there thought it a pity to punish such useful workmen,
who could make all sorts of furniture; and accordingly
liberated them.  Things being in this state, the churches were
again broken open, but this time the plate was not recovered.
The inhabitants became dreadfully enraged, and declaring
that none but heretics would thus "eat God Almighty," proceeded
to torture some Englishmen, with the intention of
afterwards shooting them.  At last the authorities interfered,
and peace was established.


13th. — In the morning I started for the saltpetre-works,
a distance of fourteen leagues.  Having ascended the steep
coast-mountains by a zigzag sandy track, we soon came in
view of the mines of Guantajaya and St. Rosa.  These two
small villages are placed at the very mouths of the mines;
and being perched up on hills, they had a still more unnatural
and desolate appearance than the town of Iquique.  We did
not reach the saltpetre-works till after sunset, having ridden
all day across an undulating country, a complete and utter
desert.  The road was strewed with the bones and dried skins
of many beasts of burden which had perished on it from
fatigue.  Excepting the Vultur aura, which preys on the
carcasses, I saw neither bird, quadruped, reptile, nor insect.
On the coast-mountains, at the height of about 2000 feet
where during this season the clouds generally hang, a very
few cacti were growing in the clefts of rock; and the loose
sand was strewed over with a lichen, which lies on the surface
quite unattached.  This plant belongs to the genus
Cladonia, and somewhat resembles the reindeer lichen.  In
some parts it was in sufficient quantity to tinge the sand,
as seen from a distance, of a pale yellowish colour.  Further
inland, during the whole ride of fourteen leagues, I saw only
one other vegetable production, and that was a most minute
yellow lichen, growing on the bones of the dead mules.  This
was the first true desert which I had seen: the effect on me
was not impressive; but I believe this was owing to my
having become gradually accustomed to such scenes, as I
rode northward from Valparaiso, through Coquimbo, to Copiapo.
The appearance of the country was remarkable, from
being covered by a thick crust of common salt, and of a
stratified saliferous alluvium, which seems to have been
deposited as the land slowly rose above the level of the sea.
The salt is white, very hard, and compact: it occurs in water
worn nodules projecting from the agglutinated sand, and is
associated with much gypsum.  The appearance of this superficial
mass very closely resembled that of a country after
snow, before the last dirty patches are thawed.  The existence
of this crust of a soluble substance over the whole face of
the country, shows how extraordinarily dry the climate must
have been for a long period.

At night I slept at the house of the owner of one of the
saltpetre mines.  The country is here as unproductive as
near the coast; but water, having rather a bitter and brackish
taste, can be procured by digging wells.  The well at this
house was thirty-six yards deep: as scarcely any rain falls,
it is evident the water is not thus derived; indeed if it were,
it could not fail to be as salt as brine, for the whole
surrounding country is incrusted with various saline substances.
We must therefore conclude that it percolates under ground
from the Cordillera, though distant many leagues.  In that
direction there are a few small villages, where the inhabitants,
having more water, are enabled to irrigate a little land,
and raise hay, on which the mules and asses, employed in
carrying the saltpetre, are fed.  The nitrate of soda was now
selling at the ship's side at fourteen shillings per hundred
pounds: the chief expense is its transport to the sea-coast.
The mine consists of a hard stratum, between two and three
feet thick, of the nitrate mingled with a little of the sulphate
of soda and a good deal of common salt.  It lies close beneath
the surface, and follows for a length of one hundred and
fifty miles the margin of a grand basin or plain; this, from
its outline, manifestly must once have been a lake, or more
probably an inland arm of the sea, as may be inferred from
the presence of iodic salts in the saline stratum.  The surface
of the plain is 3300 feet above the Pacific.


19th. — We anchored in the Bay of Callao, the seaport of
Lima, the capital of Peru.  We stayed here six weeks but
from the troubled state of public affairs, I saw very little of
the country.  During our whole visit the climate was far
from being so delightful, as it is generally represented.  A
dull heavy bank of clouds constantly hung over the land, so
that during the first sixteen days I had only one view of the
Cordillera behind Lima.  These mountains, seen in stages,
one above the other, through openings in the clouds, had a
very grand appearance.  It is almost become a proverb, that
rain never falls in the lower part of Peru.  Yet this can
hardly be considered correct; for during almost every day of
our visit there was a thick drizzling mist, which was sufficient
to make the streets muddy and one's clothes damp: this the
people are pleased to call Peruvian dew.  That much rain
does not fall is very certain, for the houses are covered only
with flat roofs made of hardened mud; and on the mole shiploads
of wheat were piled up, being thus left for weeks together
without any shelter.

I cannot say I liked the very little I saw of Peru: in
summer, however, it is said that the climate is much pleasanter.
In all seasons, both inhabitants and foreigners suffer
from severe attacks of ague.  This disease is common on the
whole coast of Peru, but is unknown in the interior.  The
attacks of illness which arise from miasma never fail to appear
most mysterious.  So difficult is it to judge from the
aspect of a country, whether or not it is healthy, that if a
person had been told to choose within the tropics a situation
appearing favourable for health, very probably he would
have named this coast.  The plain round the outskirts of
Callao is sparingly covered with a coarse grass, and in some
parts there are a few stagnant, though very small, pools of
water.  The miasma, in all probability, arises from these:
for the town of Arica was similarly circumstanced, and its
healthiness was much improved by the drainage of some
little pools.  Miasma is not always produced by a luxuriant
vegetation with an ardent climate; for many parts of Brazil,
even where there are marshes and a rank vegetation, are
much more healthy than this sterile coast of Peru.  The
densest forests in a temperate climate, as in Chiloe, do not
seem in the slightest degree to affect the healthy condition
of the atmosphere.

The island of St. Jago, at the Cape de Verds, offers another
strongly marked instance of a country, which any one
would have expected to find most healthy, being very much
the contrary.  I have described the bare and open plains as
supporting, during a few weeks after the rainy season, a thin
vegetation, which directly withers away and dries up: at this
period the air appears to become quite poisonous; both natives
and foreigners often being affected with violent fevers.
On the other hand, the Galapagos Archipelago, in the Pacific,
with a similar soil, and periodically subject to the same
process of vegetation, is perfectly healthy.  Humboldt has
observed, that, "under the torrid zone, the smallest marshes
are the most dangerous, being surrounded, as at Vera Cruz
and Carthagena, with an arid and sandy soil, which raises
the temperature of the ambient air." [5] On the coast of Peru,
however, the temperature is not hot to any excessive degree;
and perhaps in consequence, the intermittent fevers are not
of the most malignant order.  In all unhealthy countries the
greatest risk is run by sleeping on shore.  Is this owing to
the state of the body during sleep, or to a greater abundance
of miasma at such times?  It appears certain that those
who stay on board a vessel, though anchored at only a short
distance from the coast, generally suffer less than those
actually on shore.  On the other hand, I have heard of one
remarkable case where a fever broke out among the crew of
a man-of-war some hundred miles off the coast of Africa,
and at the same time one of those fearful periods [6] of death
commenced at Sierra Leone.

No state in South America, since the declaration of
independence, has suffered more from anarchy than Peru.  At
the time of our visit, there were four chiefs in arms contending
for supremacy in the government: if one succeeded
in becoming for a time very powerful, the others coalesced
against him; but no sooner were they victorious, than they
were again hostile to each other.  The other day, at the
Anniversary of the Independence, high mass was performed, the
President partaking of the sacrament: during the Te Deum
laudamus, instead of each regiment displaying the Peruvian
flag, a black one with death's head was unfurled.  Imagine
a government under which such a scene could be ordered, on
such an occasion, to be typical of their determination of
fighting to death!  This state of affairs happened at a time
very unfortunately for me, as I was precluded from taking
any excursions much beyond the limits of the town.  The
barren island of St. Lorenzo, which forms the harbour, was
nearly the only place where one could walk securely.  The
upper part, which is upwards of 1000 feet in height, during
this season of the year (winter), comes within the lower
limit of the clouds; and in consequence, an abundant cryptogamic
vegetation, and a few flowers cover the summit.  On
the hills near Lima, at a height but little greater, the ground
is carpeted with moss, and beds of beautiful yellow lilies,
called Amancaes.  This indicates a very much greater degree
of humidity, than at a corresponding height at Iquique.
Proceeding northward of Lima, the climate becomes damper,
till on the banks of the Guayaquil, nearly under the equator,
we find the most luxuriant forests.  The change, however,
from the sterile coast of Peru to that fertile land is described
as taking place rather abruptly in the latitude of Cape Blanco,
two degrees south of Guayaquil.

Callao is a filthy, ill-built, small seaport.  The inhabitants,
both here and at Lima, present every imaginable shade of
mixture, between European, Negro, and Indian blood.  They
appear a depraved, drunken set of people.  The atmosphere
is loaded with foul smells, and that peculiar one, which may
be perceived in almost every town within the tropics, was
here very strong.  The fortress, which withstood Lord Cochrane's
long siege, has an imposing appearance.  But the
President, during our stay, sold the brass guns, and proceeded
to dismantle parts of it.  The reason assigned was,
that he had not an officer to whom he could trust so important
a charge.  He himself had good reason for thinking
so, as he had obtained the presidentship by rebelling while
in charge of this same fortress.  After we left South America,
he paid the penalty in the usual manner, by being conquered,
taken prisoner, and shot.

Lima stands on a plain in a valley, formed during the
gradual retreat of the sea.  It is seven miles from Callao,
and is elevated 500 feet above it; but from the slope being
very gradual, the road appears absolutely level; so that when
at Lima it is difficult to believe one has ascended even one
hundred feet: Humboldt has remarked on this singularly deceptive
case.  Steep barren hills rise like islands from the
plain, which is divided, by straight mud-walls, into large
green fields.  In these scarcely a tree grows excepting a few
willows, and an occasional clump of bananas and of oranges.
The city of Lima is now in a wretched state of decay: the
streets are nearly unpaved; and heaps of filth are piled up
in all directions, where the black gallinazos, tame as poultry,
pick up bits of carrion.  The houses have generally an upper
story, built on account of the earthquakes, of plastered
woodwork but some of the old ones, which are now used by several
families, are immensely large, and would rival in suites
of apartments the most magnificent in any place.  Lima, the
City of the Kings, must formerly have been a splendid town.
The extraordinary number of churches gives it, even at the
present day, a peculiar and striking character, especially
when viewed from a short distance.

One day I went out with some merchants to hunt in the
immediate vicinity of the city.  Our sport was very poor;
but I had an opportunity of seeing the ruins of one of the
ancient Indian villages, with its mound like a natural hill in
the centre.  The remains of houses, enclosures, irrigating
streams, and burial mounds, scattered over this plain, cannot
fail to give one a high idea of the condition and number of
the ancient population.  When their earthenware, woollen
clothes, utensils of elegant forms cut out of the hardest rocks,
tools of copper, ornaments of precious stones, palaces, and
hydraulic works, are considered, it is impossible not to respect
the considerable advance made by them in the arts of
civilization.  The burial mounds, called Huacas, are really
stupendous; although in some places they appear to be natural
hills incased and modelled.

There is also another and very different class of ruins,
which possesses some interest, namely, those of old Callao,
overwhelmed by the great earthquake of 1746, and its
accompanying wave.  The destruction must have been more
complete even than at Talcahuano.  Quantities of shingle
almost conceal the foundations of the walls, and vast masses
of brickwork appear to have been whirled about like pebbles
by the retiring waves.  It has been stated that the land subsided
during this memorable shock: I could not discover any
proof of this; yet it seems far from improbable, for the
form of the coast must certainly have undergone some change
since the foundation of the old town; as no people in their
senses would willingly have chosen for their building place,
the narrow spit of shingle on which the ruins now stand.
Since our voyage, M. Tschudi has come to the conclusion,
by the comparison of old and modern maps, that the coast
both north and south of Lima has certainly subsided.

On the island of San Lorenzo, there are very satisfactory
proofs of elevation within the recent period; this of course
is not opposed to the belief, of a small sinking of the ground
having subsequently taken place.  The side of this island
fronting the Bay of Callao, is worn into three obscure terraces,
the lower one of which is covered by a bed a mile in
length, almost wholly composed of shells of eighteen species,
now living in the adjoining sea.  The height of this bed is
eighty-five feet.  Many of the shells are deeply corroded, and
have a much older and more decayed appearance than those
at the height of 500 or 600 feet on the coast of Chile.  These
shells are associated with much common salt, a little sulphate
of lime (both probably left by the evaporation of the
spray, as the land slowly rose), together with sulphate of
soda and muriate of lime.  They rest on fragments of the
underlying sandstone, and are covered by a few inches thick
of detritus.  The shells, higher up on this terrace could be
traced scaling off in flakes, and falling into an impalpable
powder; and on an upper terrace, at the height of 170 feet,
and likewise at some considerably higher points, I found a
layer of saline powder of exactly similar appearance, and
lying in the same relative position.  I have no doubt that this
upper layer originally existed as a bed of shells, like that on
the eighty-five-feet ledge; but it does not now contain even a
trace of organic structure.  The powder has been analyzed
for me by Mr. T. Reeks; it consists of sulphates and muriates
both of lime and soda, with very little carbonate of
lime.  It is known that common salt and carbonate of lime
left in a mass for some time together, partly decompose each
other; though this does not happen with small quantities in
solution.  As the half-decomposed shells in the lower parts
are associated with much common salt, together with some
of the saline substances composing the upper saline layer,
and as these shells are corroded and decayed in a remarkable
manner, I strongly suspect that this double decomposition
has here taken place.  The resultant salts, however, ought
to be carbonate of soda and muriate of lime, the latter is
present, but not the carbonate of soda.  Hence I am led to
imagine that by some unexplained means, the carbonate of
soda becomes changed into the sulphate.  It is obvious that
the saline layer could not have been preserved in any country
in which abundant rain occasionally fell: on the other
hand, this very circumstance, which at first sight appears so
highly favourable to the long preservation of exposed shells,
has probably been the indirect means, through the common
salt not having been washed away, of their decomposition
and early decay.

I was much interested by finding on the terrace, at the
height of eighty-five feet, embedded  amidst the shells and
much sea-drifted rubbish, some bits of cotton thread, plaited
rush, and the head of a stalk of Indian corn: I compared
these relics with similar ones taken out of the Huacas, or old
Peruvian tombs, and found them identical in appearance.
On the mainland in front of San Lorenzo, near Bellavista,
there is an extensive and level plain about a hundred feet
high, of which the lower part is formed of alternating layers
of sand and impure clay, together with some gravel, and the
surface, to the depth of from three to six feet, of a reddish
loam, containing a few scattered sea-shells and numerous
small fragments of coarse red earthenware, more abundant
at certain spots than at others.  At first I was inclined to
believe that this superficial bed, from its wide extent and
smoothness, must have been deposited beneath the sea; but
I afterwards found in one spot, that it lay on an artificial
floor of round stones.  It seems, therefore, most probable
that at a period when the land stood at a lower level there
was a plain very similar to that now surrounding Callao,
which being protected by a shingle beach, is raised but very
little above the level of the sea.  On this plain, with its
underlying red-clay beds, I imagine that the Indians
manufactured their earthen vessels; and that, during some
violent earthquake, the sea broke over the beach, and converted
the plain into a temporary lake, as happened round Callao in
1713 and 1746.  The water would then have deposited mud,
containing fragments of pottery from the kilns, more abundant
at some spots than at others, and shells from the sea.
This bed, with fossil earthenware, stands at about the
same height with the shells on the lower terrace of San
Lorenzo, in which the cotton-thread and other relics were
embedded.

Hence we may safely conclude, that within the Indo-human
period there has been an elevation, as before alluded to, of
more than eighty-five feet; for some little elevation must
have been lost by the coast having subsided since the old
maps were engraved.  At Valparaiso, although in the 220
years before our visit, the elevation cannot have exceeded
nineteen feet, yet subsequently to 1817, there has been a rise,
partly insensible and partly by a start during the shock of
1822, of ten or eleven feet.  The antiquity of the Indo-human
race here, judging by the eighty-five feet rise of the land
since the relics were embedded, is the more remarkable, as on
the coast of Patagonia, when the land stood about the same
number of feet lower, the Macrauchenia was a living beast;
but as the Patagonian coast is some way distant from the
Cordillera, the rising there may have been slower than here.
At Bahia Blanca, the elevation has been only a few feet
since the numerous gigantic quadrupeds were there entombed;
and, according to the generally received opinion,
when these extinct animals were living, man did not exist.
But the rising of that part of the coast of Patagonia, is
perhaps no way connected with the Cordillera, but rather with
a line of old volcanic rocks in Banda Oriental, so that it
may have been infinitely slower than on the shores of Peru.
All these speculations, however, must be vague; for who will
pretend to say that there may not have been several periods
of subsidence, intercalated between the movements of elevation;
for we know that along the whole coast of Patagonia,
there have certainly been many and long pauses in
the upward action of the elevatory forces.

[1] Vol. iv. p. 11, and vol. ii. p. 217. For the remarks on
Guayaquil, see Silliman's Journ., vol. xxiv. p. 384.  For those
on Tacna by Mr. Hamilton, see Trans. of British Association,
1840.  For those on Coseguina see Mr. Caldcleugh in Phil. Trans.,
1835.  In the former edition I collected several references on
the coincidences between sudden falls in the barometer and
earthquakes; and between earthquakes and meteors.

[2] Observa. sobre el Clima de Lima, p. 67. — Azara's Travels,
vol. i. p. 381. — Ulloa's Voyage, vol. ii. p. 28. — Burchell's
Travels, vol. ii. p. 524. — Webster's Description of the
Azores, p. 124. — Voyage a l'Isle de France par un Officer du
Roi, tom. i. p. 248. — Description of St. Helena, p. 123.

[3] Temple, in his travels through Upper Peru, or Bolivia, in
going from Potosi to Oruro, says, "I saw many Indian villages or
dwellings in ruins, up even to the very tops of the mountains,
attesting a former population where now all is desolate." He
makes similar remarks in another place; but I cannot tell
whether this desolation has been caused by a want of population,
or by an altered condition of the land.

[4] Edinburgh, Phil. Journ., Jan., 1830, p. 74; and April, 1830,
p. 258 — also Daubeny on Volcanoes, p. 438; and Bengal
Journ., vol. vii. p. 324.

[5] Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain, vol. iv.
p. 199.

[6] A similar interesting case is recorded in the Madras
Medical Quart. Journ., 1839, p. 340.  Dr. Ferguson, in his
admirable Paper (see 9th vol. of Edinburgh Royal Trans.),
shows clearly that the poison is generated in the drying
process; and hence that dry hot countries are often the most
unhealthy.



CHAPTER XVII

GALAPAGOS ARCHIPELAGO

The whole Group Volcanic — Numbers of Craters — Leafless
Bushes Colony at Charles Island — James Island — Salt-lake in
Crater — Natural History of the Group — Ornithology, curious
Finches — Reptiles — Great Tortoises, habits of — Marine
Lizard, feeds on Sea-weed — Terrestrial Lizard, burrowing
habits, herbivorous — Importance of Reptiles in the
Archipelago — Fish, Shells, Insects — Botany — American Type
of Organization — Differences in the Species or Races on
different Islands — Tameness of the Birds — Fear of Man, an
acquired Instinct.


SEPTEMBER 15th. — This archipelago consists of ten
principal islands, of which five exceed the others in
size.  They are situated under the Equator, and between
five and six hundred miles westward of the coast of
America.  They are all formed of volcanic rocks; a few
fragments of granite curiously glazed and altered by the
heat, can hardly be considered as an exception.  Some of
the craters, surmounting the larger islands, are of immense
size, and they rise to a height of between three and four
thousand feet.  Their flanks are studded by innumerable
smaller orifices.  I scarcely hesitate to affirm, that there
must be in the whole archipelago at least two thousand
craters.  These consist either of lava or scoriae, or of finely-
stratified, sandstone-like tuff.  Most of the latter are
beautifully symmetrical; they owe their origin to eruptions of
volcanic mud without any lava: it is a remarkable circumstance
that every one of the twenty-eight tuff-craters which
were examined, had their southern sides either much lower
than the other sides, or quite broken down and removed.  As
all these craters apparently have been formed when standing
in the sea, and as the waves from the trade wind and the
swell from the open Pacific here unite their forces on the
southern coasts of all the islands, this singular uniformity
in the broken state of the craters, composed of the soft and
yielding tuff, is easily explained.

Considering that these islands are placed directly under
the equator, the climate is far from being excessively hot;
this seems chiefly caused by the singularly low temperature
of the surrounding water, brought here by the great southern


[map]


Polar current.  Excepting during one short season, very
little rain falls, and even then it is irregular; but the clouds
generally hang low.  Hence, whilst the lower parts of the
islands are very sterile, the upper parts, at a height of a
thousand feet and upwards, possess a damp climate and a
tolerably luxuriant vegetation.  This is especially the case
on the windward sides of the islands, which first receive and
condense the moisture from the atmosphere.

In the morning (17th) we landed on Chatham Island,
which, like the others, rises with a tame and rounded outline,
broken here and there by scattered hillocks, the remains
of former craters.  Nothing could be less inviting than the
first appearance.  A broken field of black basaltic lava,
thrown into the most rugged waves, and crossed by great
fissures, is everywhere covered by stunted, sun-burnt brushwood,
which shows little signs of life.  The dry and parched
surface, being heated by the noon-day sun, gave to the air
a close and sultry feeling, like that from a stove: we fancied
even that the bushes smelt unpleasantly.  Although I diligently
tried to collect as many plants as possible, I succeeded
in getting very few; and such wretched-looking little
weeds would have better become an arctic than an equatorial
Flora.  The brushwood appears, from a short distance, as
leafless as our trees during winter; and it was some time
before I discovered that not only almost every plant was
now in full leaf, but that the greater number were in flower.
The commonest bush is one of the Euphorbiaceae: an acacia
and a great odd-looking cactus are the only trees which
afford any shade.  After the season of heavy rains, the islands
are said to appear for a short time partially green.  The
volcanic island of Fernando Noronha, placed in many respects
under nearly similar conditions, is the only other
country where I have seen a vegetation at all like this of
the Galapagos Islands.

The Beagle sailed round Chatham Island, and anchored
in several bays.  One night I slept on shore on a part of the
island, where black truncated cones were extraordinarily
numerous: from one small eminence I counted sixty of
them, all surmounted by craters more or less perfect.  The
greater number consisted merely of a ring of red scoriae
or slags, cemented together: and their height above the plain
of lava was not more than from fifty to a hundred feet; none
had been very lately active.  The entire surface of this part
of the island seems to have been permeated, like a sieve, by
the subterranean vapours: here and there the lava, whilst
soft, has been blown into great bubbles; and in other parts,
the tops of caverns similarly formed have fallen in, leaving
circular pits with steep sides.  From the regular form of the
many craters, they gave to the country an artificial appearance,
which vividly reminded me of those parts of Staffordshire,
where the great iron-foundries are most numerous.
The day was glowing hot, and the scrambling over the rough
surface and through the intricate thickets, was very fatiguing;
but I was well repaid by the strange Cyclopean scene.
As I was walking along I met two large tortoises, each of
which must have weighed at least two hundred pounds: one
was eating a piece of cactus, and as I approached, it stared
at me and slowly walked away; the other gave a deep hiss,
and drew in its head.  These huge reptiles, surrounded by
the black lava, the leafless shrubs, and large cacti, seemed to
my fancy like some antediluvian animals.  The few dull-
coloured birds cared no more for me than they did for the
great tortoises.

23rd. — The Beagle proceeded to Charles Island.  This
archipelago has long been frequented, first by the bucaniers,
and latterly by whalers, but it is only within the last six
years, that a small colony has been established here.  The
inhabitants are between two and three hundred in number;
they are nearly all people of colour, who have been banished
for political crimes from the Republic of the Equator, of
which Quito is the capital.  The settlement is placed about
four and a half miles inland, and at a height probably of a
thousand feet.  In the first part of the road we passed
through leafless thickets, as in Chatham Island.  Higher up,
the woods gradually became greener; and as soon as we
crossed the ridge of the island, we were cooled by a fine
southerly breeze, and our sight refreshed by a green and
thriving vegetation.  In this upper region coarse grasses and
ferns abound; but there are no tree-ferns: I saw nowhere
any member of the palm family, which is the more singular,
as 360 miles northward, Cocos Island takes its name from
the number of cocoa-nuts.  The houses are irregularly scattered
over a flat space of ground, which is cultivated with
sweet potatoes and bananas.  It will not easily be imagined
how pleasant the sight of black mud was to us, after having
been so long, accustomed to the parched soil of Peru and
northern Chile.  The inhabitants, although complaining of
poverty, obtain, without much trouble, the means of subsistence.
In the woods there are many wild pigs and goats;
but the staple article of animal food is supplied by the
tortoises.  Their numbers have of course been greatly reduced
in this island, but the people yet count on two days'
hunting giving them food for the rest of the week.  It is
said that formerly single vessels have taken away as many
as seven hundred, and that the ship's company of a frigate
some years since brought down in one day two hundred
tortoises to the beach.

September  29th. — We doubled the south-west extremity of
Albemarle Island, and the next day were nearly becalmed
between it and Narborough Island.  Both are covered with
immense deluges of black naked lava, which have flowed either
over the rims of the great caldrons, like pitch over the
rim of a pot in which it has been boiled, or have burst forth
from smaller orifices on the flanks; in their descent they
have spread over miles of the sea-coast.  On both of these
islands, eruptions are known to have taken place; and in
Albemarle, we saw a small jet of smoke curling from the
summit of one of the great craters.  In the evening we
anchored in Bank's Cove, in Albemarle Island.  The next
morning I went out walking.  To the south of the broken
tuff-crater, in which the Beagle was anchored, there was
another beautifully symmetrical one of an elliptic form; its
longer axis was a little less than a mile, and its depth about
500 feet.  At its bottom there was a shallow lake, in the
middle of which a tiny crater formed an islet.  The day was
overpoweringly hot, and the lake looked clear and blue: I
hurried down the cindery slope, and, choked with dust,
eagerly tasted the water — but, to my sorrow, I found it salt
as brine.

The rocks on the coast abounded with great black lizards,
between three and four feet long; and on the hills, an ugly
yellowish-brown species was equally common.  We saw many of this
latter kind, some clumsily running out of the way, and others
shuffling into their burrows.  I shall presently describe in
more detail the habits of both these reptiles.  The whole of
this northern part of Albemarle Island is miserably sterile.

October 8th. — We arrived at James Island: this island, as
well as Charles Island, were long since thus named after our
kings of the Stuart line.  Mr. Bynoe, myself, and our servants
were left here for a week, with provisions and a tent,
whilst the Beagle went for water.  We found here a party
of Spaniards, who had been sent from Charles Island to dry
fish, and to salt tortoise-meat.  About six miles inland, and
at the height of nearly 2000 feet, a hovel had been built in
which two men lived, who were employed in catching tortoises,
whilst the others were fishing on the coast.  I paid
this party two visits, and slept there one night.  As in the
other islands, the lower region was covered by nearly leafless
bushes, but the trees were here of a larger growth than
elsewhere, several being two feet and some even two feet nine
inches in diameter.  The upper region being kept damp by
the clouds, supports a green and flourishing vegetation.  So
damp was the ground, that there were large beds of a coarse
cyperus, in which great numbers of a very small water-rail
lived and bred.  While staying in this upper region, we lived
entirely upon tortoise-meat: the breast-plate roasted (as the
Gauchos do carne con cuero), with the flesh on it, is very
good; and the young tortoises make excellent soup; but
otherwise the meat to my taste is indifferent.

One day we accompanied a party of the Spaniards in
their whale-boat to a salina, or lake from which salt is
procured.  After landing, we had a very rough walk over a
rugged field of recent lava, which has almost surrounded a
tuff-crater, at the bottom of which the salt-lake lies.  The
water is only three or four inches deep, and rests on a layer
of beautifully crystallized, white salt.  The lake is quite
circular, and is fringed with a border of bright green succulent
plants; the almost precipitous walls of the crater are clothed
with wood, so that the scene was altogether both picturesque
and curious.  A few years since, the sailors belonging to a
sealing-vessel murdered their captain in this quiet spot; and
we saw his skull lying among the bushes.

During the greater part of our stay of a week, the sky
was cloudless, and if the trade-wind failed for an hour, the
heat became very oppressive.  On two days, the thermometer
within the tent stood for some hours at 93 degs.; but in the open
air, in the wind and sun, at only 85 degs.  The sand was extremely
hot; the thermometer placed in some of a brown colour
immediately rose to 137 degs., and how much above that
it would have risen, I do not know, for it was not graduated
any higher.  The black sand felt much hotter, so that
even in thick boots it was quite disagreeable to walk over it.


The natural history of these islands is eminently curious,
and well deserves attention.  Most of the organic productions
are aboriginal creations, found nowhere else; there is even
a difference between the inhabitants of the different islands;
yet all show a marked relationship with those of America,
though separated from that continent by an open space of
ocean, between 500 and 600 miles in width.  The archipelago
is a little world within itself, or rather a satellite attached
to America, whence it has derived a few stray colonists, and
has received the general character of its indigenous
productions.  Considering the small size of the islands, we feel
the more astonished at the number of their aboriginal beings,
and at their confined range.  Seeing every height crowned
with its crater, and the boundaries of most of the lava-
streams still distinct, we are led to believe that within a
period geologically recent the unbroken ocean was here
spread out.  Hence, both in space and time, we seem to be
brought somewhat near to that great fact — that mystery of
mysteries — the first appearance of new beings on this earth.

Of terrestrial mammals, there is only one which must be
considered as indigenous, namely, a mouse (Mus Galapagoensis),
and this is confined, as far as I could ascertain, to
Chatham Island, the most easterly island of the group.  It
belongs, as I am informed by Mr. Waterhouse, to a division
of the family of mice characteristic of America.  At James
Island, there is a rat sufficiently distinct from the common
kind to have been named and described by Mr. Waterhouse;
but as it belongs to the old-world division of the family, and
as this island has been frequented by ships for the last hundred
and fifty years, I can hardly doubt that this rat is
merely a variety produced by the new and peculiar climate,
food, and soil, to which it has been subjected.  Although no
one has a right to speculate without distinct facts, yet even
with respect to the Chatham Island mouse, it should be borne
in mind, that it may possibly be an American species imported
here; for I have seen, in a most unfrequented part of
the Pampas, a native mouse living in the roof of a newly
built hovel, and therefore its transportation in a vessel is
not improbable: analogous facts have been observed by Dr.
Richardson in North America.

Of land-birds I obtained twenty-six kinds, all peculiar to
the group and found nowhere else, with the exception of one
lark-like finch from North America (Dolichonyx oryzivorus),
which ranges on that continent as far north as 54 degs., and
generally frequents marshes.  The other twenty-five birds
consist, firstly, of a hawk, curiously intermediate in structure
between a buzzard and the American group of carrion-feeding
Polybori; and with these latter birds it agrees most
closely in every habit and even tone of voice.  Secondly,
there are two owls, representing the short-eared and white
barn-owls of Europe.  Thirdly, a wren, three tyrant-flycatchers
(two of them species of Pyrocephalus, one or both of
which would be ranked by some ornithologists as only varieties),
and a dove — all analogous to, but distinct from, American
species.  Fourthly, a swallow, which though differing
from the Progne purpurea of both Americas, only in being
rather duller colored, smaller, and slenderer, is considered
by Mr. Gould as specifically distinct.  Fifthly, there are three
species of mocking thrush — a form highly characteristic of
America.  The remaining land-birds form a most singular
group of finches, related to each other in the structure of
their beaks, short tails, form of body and plumage: there are
thirteen species, which Mr. Gould has divided into four
subgroups.  All these species are peculiar to this archipelago;
and so is the whole group, with the exception of one species
of the sub-group Cactornis, lately brought from Bow Island,
in the Low Archipelago.  Of Cactornis, the two species may
be often seen climbing about the flowers of the great cactus-
trees; but all the other species of this group of finches,
mingled together in flocks, feed on the dry and sterile ground
of the lower districts.  The males of all, or certainly of the
greater number, are jet black; and the females (with perhaps
one or two exceptions) are brown.  The most curious fact is
the perfect gradation in the size of the beaks in the different
species of Geospiza, from one as large as that of a hawfinch
to that of a chaffinch, and (if Mr. Gould is right in including
his sub-group, Certhidea, in the main group) even to
that of a warbler.  The largest beak in the genus Geospiza
is shown in Fig. 1, and the smallest in Fig. 3; but instead of
there being only one intermediate species, with a beak of
the size shown in Fig. 2, there are no less than six species
with insensibly graduated beaks.  The beak of the sub-group
Certhidea, is shown in Fig. 4.  The beak of Cactornis is


[picture]

1. Geospiza magnirostris.      2. Geospiza fortis.
3. Geospiza parvula.           4. Certhidea olivasea.


somewhat like that of a starling, and that of the fourth
subgroup, Camarhynchus, is slightly parrot-shaped.  Seeing this
gradation and diversity of structure in one small, intimately
related group of birds, one might really fancy that from an
original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had
been taken and modified for different ends.  In a like manner
it might be fancied that a bird originally a buzzard, had been
induced here to undertake the office of the carrion-feeding
Polybori of the American continent.

Of waders and water-birds I was able to get only eleven
kinds, and of these only three (including a rail confined to
the damp summits of the islands) are new species.  Considering
the wandering habits of the gulls, I was surprised to
find that the species inhabiting these islands is peculiar, but
allied to one from the southern parts of South America.
The far greater peculiarity of the land-birds, namely,
twenty-five out of twenty-six, being new species, or at least
new races, compared with the waders and web-footed birds, is
in accordance with the greater range which these latter
orders have in all parts of the world.  We shall hereafter
see this law of aquatic forms, whether marine or freshwater,
being less peculiar at any given point of the earth's
surface than the terrestrial forms of the same classes,
strikingly illustrated in the shells, and in a lesser degree in
the insects of this archipelago.

Two of the waders are rather smaller than the same species
brought from other places: the swallow is also smaller,
though it is doubtful whether or not it is distinct from its
analogue.  The two owls, the two tyrant-catchers (Pyrocephalus)
and the dove, are also smaller than the analogous
but distinct species, to which they are most nearly related;
on the other hand, the gull is rather larger.  The two owls,
the swallow, all three species of mocking-thrush, the dove
in its separate colours though not in its whole plumage, the
Totanus, and the gull, are likewise duskier coloured than
their analogous species; and in the case of the mocking-
thrush and Totanus, than any other species of the two genera.
With the exception of a wren with a fine yellow breast,
and of a tyrant-flycatcher with a scarlet tuft and breast, none
of the birds are brilliantly coloured, as might have been
expected in an equatorial district.  Hence it would appear
probable, that the same causes which here make the immigrants
of some peculiar species smaller, make most of the
peculiar Galapageian species also smaller, as well as very
generally more dusky coloured.  All the plants have a
wretched, weedy appearance, and I did not see one beautiful
flower.  The insects, again, are small-sized and dull-coloured,
and, as Mr. Waterhouse informs me, there is nothing in their
general appearance which would have led him to imagine
that they had come from under the equator. [1] The birds,
plants, and insects have a desert character, and are not more
brilliantly coloured than those from southern Patagonia; we
may, therefore, conclude that the usual gaudy colouring of
the inter-tropical productions, is not related either to the
heat or light of those zones, but to some other cause, perhaps
to the conditions of existence being generally favourable
to life.


We will now turn to the order of reptiles, which gives
the most striking character to the zoology of these islands.
The species are not numerous, but the numbers of individuals
of each species are extraordinarily great.  There is one
small lizard belonging to a South American genus, and two
species (and probably more) of the Amblyrhynchus — a genus
confined to the Galapagos Islands.  There is one snake which
is numerous; it is identical, as I am informed by M. Bibron,
with the Psammophis Temminckii from Chile. [2] Of sea-
turtle I believe there are more than one species, and of
tortoises there are, as we shall presently show, two or three
species or races.  Of toads and frogs there are none: I was
surprised at this, considering how well suited for them the
temperate and damp upper woods appeared to be.  It recalled
to my mind the remark made by Bory St. Vincent, [3]
namely, that none of this family are found on any of the
volcanic islands in the great oceans.  As far as I can ascertain
from various works, this seems to hold good throughout the
Pacific, and even in the large islands of the Sandwich
archipelago.  Mauritius offers an apparent exception, where I
saw the Rana Mascariensis in abundance: this frog is said
now to inhabit the Seychelles, Madagascar, and Bourbon;
but on the other hand, Du Bois, in his voyage in 1669, states
that there were no reptiles in Bourbon except tortoises; and
the Officier du Roi asserts that before 1768 it had been
attempted, without success, to introduce frogs into Mauritius
— I presume for the purpose of eating: hence it may be well
doubted whether this frog is an aboriginal of these islands.
The absence of the frog family in the oceanic islands is the
more remarkable, when contrasted with the case of lizards,
which swarm on most of the smallest islands.  May this difference
not be caused, by the greater facility with which the
eggs of lizards, protected by calcareous shells might be
transported through salt-water, than could the slimy spawn
of frogs?

I will first describe the habits of the tortoise (Testudo
nigra, formerly called Indica), which has been so frequently
alluded to.  These animals are found, I believe, on all the
islands of the archipelago; certainly on the greater number.
They frequent in preference the high damp parts, but they
likewise live in the lower and arid districts.  I have already
shown, from the numbers which have been caught in a single
day, how very numerous they must be.  Some grow to an
immense size: Mr. Lawson, an Englishman, and vice-governor
of the colony, told us that he had seen several so large,
that it required six or eight men to lift them from the
ground; and that some had afforded as much as two hundred
pounds of meat.  The old males are the largest, the females
rarely growing to so great a size: the male can readily be
distinguished from the female by the greater length of its
tail.  The tortoises which live on those islands where there
is no water, or in the lower and arid parts of the others, feed
chiefly on the succulent cactus.  Those which frequent the
higher and damp regions, eat the leaves of various trees, a
kind of berry (called guayavita) which is acid and austere,
and likewise a pale green filamentous lichen (Usnera plicata),
that hangs from the boughs of the trees.

The tortoise is very fond of water, drinking large quantities,
and wallowing in the mud.  The larger islands alone
possess springs, and these are always situated towards the
central parts, and at a considerable height.  The tortoises,
therefore, which frequent the lower districts, when thirsty,
are obliged to travel from a long distance.  Hence broad and
well-beaten paths branch off in every direction from the
wells down to the sea-coast; and the Spaniards by following
them up, first discovered the watering-places.  When I landed
at Chatham Island, I could not imagine what animal travelled
so methodically along well-chosen tracks.  Near the springs
it was a curious spectacle to behold many of these huge
creatures, one set eagerly travelling onwards with outstretched
necks, and another set returning, after having
drunk their fill.  When the tortoise arrives at the spring,
quite regardless of any spectator, he buries his head in the
water above his eyes, and greedily swallows great mouthfuls,
at the rate of about ten in a minute.  The inhabitants say
each animal stays three or four days in the neighbourhood
of the water, and then returns to the lower country; but
they differed respecting the frequency of these visits.  The
animal probably regulates them according to the nature of
the food on which it has lived.  It is, however, certain, that
tortoises can subsist even on these islands where there is no
other water than what falls during a few rainy days in the
year.

I believe it is well ascertained, that the bladder of the frog
acts as a reservoir for the moisture necessary to its existence:
such seems to be the case with the tortoise.  For some
time after a visit to the springs, their urinary bladders are
distended with fluid, which is said gradually to decrease in
volume, and to become less pure.  The inhabitants, when
walking in the lower district, and overcome with thirst, often
take advantage of this circumstance, and drink the contents
of the bladder if full: in one I saw killed, the fluid was quite
limpid, and had only a very slightly bitter taste.  The
inhabitants, however, always first drink the water in the
pericardium, which is described as being best.

The tortoises, when purposely moving towards any point,
travel by night and day, and arrive at their journey's end
much sooner than would be expected.  The inhabitants, from
observing marked individuals, consider that they travel a
distance of about eight miles in two or three days.  One large
tortoise, which I watched, walked at the rate of sixty yards
in ten minutes, that is 360 yards in the hour, or four miles a
day, — allowing a little time for it to eat on the road.  During
the breeding season, when the male and female are together,
the male utters a hoarse roar or bellowing, which, it is said,
can be heard at the distance of more than a hundred yards.
The female never uses her voice, and the male only at these
times; so that when the people hear this noise, they know
that the two are together.  They were at this time (October)
laying their eggs.  The female, where the soil is sandy, deposits
them together, and covers them up with sand; but
where the ground is rocky she drops them indiscriminately
in any hole: Mr. Bynoe found seven placed in a fissure.  The
egg is white and spherical; one which I measured was seven
inches and three-eighths in circumference, and therefore
larger than a hen's egg.  The young tortoises, as soon as they
are hatched, fall a prey in great numbers to the carrion-
feeding buzzard.  The old ones seem generally to die from
accidents, as from falling down precipices: at least, several
of the inhabitants told me, that they never found one dead
without some evident cause.

The inhabitants believe that these animals are absolutely
deaf; certainly they do not overhear a person walking close
behind them.  I was always amused when overtaking one of
these great monsters, as it was quietly pacing along, to see
how suddenly, the instant I passed, it would draw in its head
and legs, and uttering a deep hiss fall to the ground with a
heavy sound, as if struck dead.  I frequently got on their
backs, and then giving a few raps on the hinder part of their
shells, they would rise up and walk away; — but I found it
very difficult to keep my balance.  The flesh of this animal is
largely employed, both fresh and salted; and a beautifully
clear oil is prepared from the fat.  When a tortoise is caught,
the man makes a slit in the skin near its tail, so as to see
inside its body, whether the fat under the dorsal plate is
thick.  If it is not, the animal is liberated and it is said to
recover soon from this strange operation.  In order to secure
the tortoise, it is not sufficient to turn them like turtle, for
they are often able to get on their legs again.

There can be little doubt that this tortoise is an aboriginal
inhabitant of the Galapagos; for it is found on all, or nearly
all, the islands, even on some of the smaller ones where there
is no water; had it been an imported species, this would
hardly have been the case in a group which has been so little
frequented.  Moreover, the old Bucaniers found this tortoise
in greater numbers even than at present: Wood and Rogers
also, in 1708, say that it is the opinion of the Spaniards, that
it is found nowhere else in this quarter of the world.  It is
now widely distributed; but it may be questioned whether
it is in any other place an aboriginal.  The bones of a tortoise
at Mauritius, associated with those of the extinct Dodo,
have generally been considered as belonging to this tortoise;
if this had been so, undoubtedly it must have been there
indigenous; but M. Bibron informs me that he believes that
it was distinct, as the species now living there certainly is.

The Amblyrhynchus, a remarkable genus of lizards, is confined
to this archipelago; there are two species, resembling

[picture]

each other in general form, one being terrestrial and the
other aquatic.  This latter species (A. cristatus) was first
characterized by Mr. Bell, who well foresaw, from its short,
broad head, and strong claws of equal length, that its habits
of life would turn out very peculiar, and different from those
of its nearest ally, the Iguana.  It is extremely common on all
the islands throughout the group, and lives exclusively on the
rocky sea-beaches, being never found, at least I never saw
one, even ten yards in-shore.  It is a hideous-looking creature,
of a dirty black colour, stupid, and sluggish in its movements.
The usual length of a full-grown one is about a yard,
but there are some even four feet long; a large one weighed
twenty pounds: on the island of Albemarle they seem to
grow to a greater size than elsewhere.  Their tails are flattened
sideways, and all four feet partially webbed.  They are
occasionally seen some hundred yards from the shore,
swimming about; and Captain Collnett, in his Voyage says,
"They go to sea in herds a-fishing, and sun themselves on
the rocks; and may be called alligators in miniature." It
must not, however, be supposed that they live on fish.  When
in the water this lizard swims with perfect ease and quickness,
by a serpentine movement of its body and flattened tail
— the legs being motionless and closely collapsed on its sides.
A seaman on board sank one, with a heavy weight attached
to it, thinking thus to kill it directly; but when, an hour
afterwards, he drew up the line, it was quite active.  Their
limbs and strong claws are admirably adapted for crawling over
the rugged and fissured masses of lava, which everywhere form
the coast.  In such situations, a group of six or seven of
these hideous reptiles may oftentimes be seen on the black
rocks, a few feet above the surf, basking in the sun with
outstretched legs.

I opened the stomachs of several, and found them largely
distended with minced sea-weed (Ulvae), which grows in
thin foliaceous expansions of a bright green or a dull red
colour.  I do not recollect having observed this sea-weed in
any quantity on the tidal rocks; and I have reason to believe
it grows at the bottom of the sea, at some little distance from
the coast.  If such be the case, the object of these animals
occasionally going out to sea is explained.  The stomach
contained nothing but the sea-weed.  Mr. Baynoe, however, found
a piece of crab in one; but this might have got in accidentally,
in the same manner as I have seen a caterpillar, in
the midst of some lichen, in the paunch of a tortoise.  The
intestines were large, as in other herbivorous animals.  The
nature of this lizard's food, as well as the structure of its
tail and feet, and the fact of its having been seen voluntarily
swimming out at sea, absolutely prove its aquatic habits;
yet there is in this respect one strange anomaly, namely, that
when frightened it will not enter the water.  Hence it is
easy to drive these lizards down to any little point overhanging
the sea, where they will sooner allow a person to catch
hold of their tails than jump into the water.  They do not
seem to have any notion of biting; but when much frightened
they squirt a drop of fluid from each nostril.  I threw one
several times as far as I could, into a deep pool left by the
retiring tide; but it invariably returned in a direct line to
the spot where I stood.  It swam near the bottom, with a
very graceful and rapid movement, and occasionally aided
itself over the uneven ground with its feet.  As soon as it
arrived near the edge, but still being under water, it tried to
conceal itself in the tufts of sea-weed, or it entered some
crevice.  As soon as it thought the danger was past, it
crawled out on the dry rocks, and shuffled away as quickly
as it could.  I several times caught this same lizard, by driving
it down to a point, and though possessed of such perfect
powers of diving and swimming, nothing would induce it to
enter the water; and as often as I threw it in, it returned in
the manner above described.  Perhaps this singular piece of
apparent stupidity may be accounted for by the circumstance,
that this reptile has no enemy whatever on shore,
whereas at sea it must often fall a prey to the numerous
sharks.  Hence, probably, urged by a fixed and hereditary
instinct that the shore is its place of safety, whatever the
emergency may be, it there takes refuge.

During our visit (in October), I saw extremely few small
individuals of this species, and none I should think under
a year old.  From this circumstance it seems probable that
the breeding season had not then commenced.  I asked several
of the inhabitants if they knew where it laid its eggs:
they said that they knew nothing of its propagation, although
well acquainted with the eggs of the land kind — a fact,
considering how very common this lizard is, not a little
extraordinary.

We will now turn to the terrestrial species (A. Demarlii),
with a round tail, and toes without webs.  This lizard,
instead of being found like the other on all the islands, is
confined to the central part of the archipelago, namely to
Albemarle, James, Barrington, and Indefatigable islands.  To
the southward, in Charles, Hood, and Chatham islands, and
to the northward, in Towers, Bindloes, and Abingdon, I
neither saw nor heard of any.  It would appear as if it had
been created in the centre of the archipelago, and thence had
been dispersed only to a certain distance.  Some of these
lizards inhabit the high and damp parts of the islands, but
they are much more numerous in the lower and sterile
districts near the coast.  I cannot give a more forcible proof
of  their numbers, than by stating that when we were left at
James Island, we could not for some time find a spot free
from their burrows on which to pitch our single tent.  Like
their brothers the sea-kind, they are ugly animals, of a
yellowish orange beneath, and of a brownish red colour above:
from their low facial angle they have a singularly stupid
appearance.  They are, perhaps, of a rather less size than the
marine species; but several of them weighed between ten and
fifteen pounds.  In their movements they are lazy and half
torpid.  When not frightened, they slowly crawl along with
their tails and bellies dragging on the ground.  They often
stop, and doze for a minute or two, with closed eyes and hind
legs spread out on the parched soil.

They inhabit burrows, which they sometimes make between
fragments of lava, but more generally on level patches of the
soft sandstone-like tuff.  The holes do not appear to be very
deep, and they enter the ground at a small angle; so that
when walking over these lizard-warrens, the soil is constantly
giving way, much to the annoyance of the tired walker.  This
animal, when making its burrow, works alternately the opposite
sides of its body.  One front leg for a short time
scratches up the soil, and throws it towards the hind foot,
which is well placed so as to heave it beyond the mouth of
the hole.  That side of the body being tired, the other takes
up the task, and so on alternately.  I watched one for a long
time, till half its body was buried; I then walked up and pulled
it by the tail, at this it was greatly astonished, and soon
shuffled up to see what was the matter; and then stared me
in the face, as much as to say, "What made you pull my
tail?"

They feed by day, and do not wander far from their burrows;
if frightened, they rush to them with a most awkward
gait.  Except when running down hill, they cannot move
very fast, apparently from the lateral position of their legs.
They are not at all timorous: when attentively watching any
one, they curl their tails, and, raising themselves on their
front legs, nod their heads vertically, with a quick movement,
and try to look very fierce; but in reality they are not at all
so: if one just stamps on the ground, down go their tails,
and off they shuffle as quickly as they can.  I have frequently
observed small fly-eating lizards, when watching anything,
nod their heads in precisely the same manner; but I do not
at all know for what purpose.  If this Amblyrhynchus is held
and plagued with a stick, it will bite it very severely; but
I caught many by the tail, and they never tried to bite me.
If two are placed on the ground and held together, they will
fight, and bite each other till blood is drawn.

The individuals, and they are the greater number, which
inhabit the lower country, can scarcely taste a drop of water
throughout the year; but they consume much of the succulent
cactus, the branches of which are occasionally broken off
by the wind.  I several times threw a piece to two or three
of them when together; and it was amusing enough to see
them trying to seize and carry it away in their mouths, like
so many hungry dogs with a bone.  They eat very deliberately,
but do not chew their food.  The little birds are aware
how harmless these creatures are: I have seen one of the
thick-billed finches picking at one end of a piece of cactus
(which is much relished by all the animals of the lower
region), whilst a lizard was eating at the other end; and
afterwards the little bird with the utmost indifference hopped
on the back of the reptile.

I opened the stomachs of several, and found them full of
vegetable fibres and leaves of different trees, especially of
an acacia.  In the upper region they live chiefly on the acid
and astringent berries of the guayavita, under which trees
I have seen these lizards and the huge tortoises feeding
together.  To obtain the acacia-leaves they crawl up the low
stunted trees; and it is not uncommon to see a pair quietly
browsing, whilst seated on a branch several feet above the
ground.  These lizards, when cooked, yield a white meat,
which is liked by those whose stomachs soar above all
prejudices.

Humboldt has remarked that in intertropical South
America, all lizards which inhabit dry regions are esteemed
delicacies for the table.  The inhabitants state that those
which inhabit the upper damp parts drink water, but that
the others do not, like the tortoises, travel up for it from
the lower sterile country.  At the time of our visit, the
females had within their bodies numerous, large, elongated
eggs, which they lay in their burrows: the inhabitants seek
them for food.

These two species of Amblyrhynchus agree, as I have
already stated, in their general structure, and in many of
their habits.  Neither have that rapid movement, so
characteristic of the genera Lacerta and Iguana.  They are both
herbivorous, although the kind of vegetation on which they
feed is so very different.  Mr. Bell has given the name to the
genus from the shortness of the snout: indeed, the form of
the mouth may almost be compared to that of the tortoise:
one is led to suppose that this is an adaptation to their
herbivorous appetites.  It is very interesting thus to find a
well-characterized genus, having its marine and terrestrial
species, belonging to so confined a portion of the world.  The
aquatic species is by far the most remarkable, because it is
the only existing lizard which lives on marine vegetable
productions.  As I at first observed, these islands are not so
remarkable for the number of the species of reptiles, as for
that of the individuals, when we remember the well-beaten
paths made by the thousands of huge tortoises — the many
turtles — the great warrens of the terrestrial Amblyrhynchus
— and the groups of the marine species basking on the coast-
rocks of every island — we must admit that there is no other
quarter of the world where this Order replaces the herbivorous
mammalia in so extraordinary a manner.  The geologist
on hearing this will probably refer back in his mind to the
Secondary epochs, when lizards, some herbivorous, some
carnivorous, and of dimensions comparable only with our
existing whales, swarmed on the land and in the sea.  It is,
therefore, worthy of his observation, that this archipelago,
instead of possessing a humid climate and rank vegetation,
cannot be considered otherwise than extremely arid, and, for
an equatorial region, remarkably temperate.

To finish with the zoology: the fifteen kinds of sea-fish
which I procured here are all new species; they belong to
twelve genera, all widely distributed, with the exception of
Prionotus, of which the four previously known species live
on the eastern side of America.  Of land-shells I collected
sixteen kinds (and two marked varieties, of which, with the
exception of one Helix found at Tahiti, all are peculiar to
this archipelago: a single fresh-water shell (Paludina) is
common to Tahiti and Van Diemen's Land.  Mr. Cuming,
before our voyage procured here ninety species of sea-shells,
and this does not include several species not yet specifically
examined, of Trochus, Turbo, Monodonta, and Nassa.  He
has been kind enough to give me the following interesting
results: Of the ninety shells, no less than forty-seven are
unknown elsewhere — a wonderful fact, considering how
widely distributed sea-shells generally are.  Of the forty-
three shells found in other parts of the world, twenty-five
inhabit the western coast of America, and of these eight are
distinguishable as varieties; the remaining eighteen (including
one variety) were found by Mr. Cuming in the Low
Archipelago, and some of them also at the Philippines.  This
fact of shells from islands in the central parts of the Pacific
occurring here, deserves notice, for not one single sea-shell is
known to be common to the islands of that ocean and to the
west coast of America.  The space of open sea running north
and south off the west coast, separates two quite distinct
conchological provinces; but at the Galapagos Archipelago
we have a halting-place, where many new forms have been
created, and whither these two great conchological provinces
have each sent up several colonists.  The American province
has also sent here representative species; for there is a
Galapageian species of Monoceros, a genus only found on the
west coast of America; and there are Galapageian species
of Fissurella and Cancellaria, genera common on the west
coast, but not found (as I am informed by Mr. Cuming) in
the central islands of the Pacific.  On the other hand, there
are Galapageian species of Oniscia and Stylifer, genera common
to the West Indies and to the Chinese and Indian seas,
but not found either on the west coast of America or in the
central Pacific.  I may here add, that after the comparison
by Messrs. Cuming and Hinds of about 2000 shells from
the eastern and western coasts of America, only one single
shell was found in common, namely, the Purpura patula,
which inhabits the West Indies, the coast of Panama,
and the Galapagos.  We have, therefore, in this quarter
of the world, three great conchological sea-provinces, quite
distinct, though surprisingly near each other, being separated
by long north and south spaces either of land or of
open sea.

I took great pains in collecting the insects, but excepting
Tierra del Fuego, I never saw in this respect so poor a country.
Even in the upper and damp region I procured very few,
excepting some minute Diptera and Hymenoptera, mostly of
common mundane forms.  As before remarked, the insects,
for a tropical region, are of very small size and dull colours.
Of beetles I collected twenty-five species (excluding a
Dermestes and Corynetes imported, wherever a ship touches);
of these, two belong to the Harpalidae, two to the
Hydrophilidae, nine to three families of the Heteromera, and the
remaining twelve to as many different families.  This
circumstance of insects (and I may add plants), where few in
number, belonging to many different families, is, I believe,
very general.  Mr. Waterhouse, who has published [4] an
account of the insects of this archipelago, and to whom I am
indebted for the above details, informs me that there are
several new genera: and that of the genera not new, one
or two are American, and the rest of mundane distribution.
With the exception of a wood-feeding Apate, and of one or
probably two water-beetles from the American continent,
all the species appear to be new.

The botany of this group is fully as interesting as the
zoology.  Dr. J. Hooker will soon publish in the "Linnean
Transactions" a full account of the Flora, and I am much
indebted to him for the following details.  Of flowering
plants there are, as far as at present is known, 185 species,
and 40 cryptogamic species, making altogether 225; of this
number I was fortunate enough to bring home 193.  Of the
flowering plants, 100 are new species, and are probably confined
to this archipelago.  Dr. Hooker conceives that, of the
plants not so confined, at least 10 species found near the
cultivated ground at Charles Island, have been imported.
It is, I think, surprising that more American species have
not been introduced naturally, considering that the distance
is only between 500 and 600 miles from the continent, and
that (according to Collnet, p. 58) drift-wood, bamboos, canes,
and the nuts of a palm, are often washed on the south-eastern
shores.  The proportion of 100 flowering plants out of 183
(or 175 excluding the imported weeds) being new, is sufficient,
I conceive, to make the Galapagos Archipelago a distinct
botanical province; but this Flora is not nearly so
peculiar as that of St. Helena, nor, as I am informed by
Dr. Hooker, of Juan Fernandez.  The peculiarity of the
Galapageian Flora is best shown in certain families; — thus
there are 21 species of Compositae, of which 20 are peculiar
to this archipelago; these belong to twelve genera, and of
these genera no less than ten are confined to the archipelago!
Dr. Hooker informs me that the Flora has an undoubtedly
Western American character; nor can he detect in it any
affinity with that of the Pacific.  If, therefore, we except the
eighteen marine, the one fresh-water, and one land-shell,
which have apparently come here as colonists from the
central islands of the Pacific, and likewise the one distinct
Pacific species of the Galapageian group of finches, we see
that this archipelago, though standing in the Pacific Ocean,
is zoologically part of America.

If this character were owing merely to immigrants from
America, there would be little remarkable in it; but we see
that a vast majority of all the land animals, and that more
than half of the flowering plants, are aboriginal productions
It was most striking to be surrounded by new birds, new
reptiles, new shells, new insects, new plants, and yet by
innumerable trifling details of structure, and even by the tones
of voice and plumage of the birds, to have the temperate plains
of Patagonia, or rather the hot dry deserts of Northern Chile,
vividly brought before my eyes.  Why, on these small points
of land, which within a late geological period must have
been covered by the ocean, which are formed by basaltic lava,
and therefore differ in geological character from the American
continent, and which are placed under a peculiar climate,
— why were their aboriginal inhabitants, associated, I may
add, in different proportions both in kind and number from
those on the continent, and therefore acting on each other
in a different manner — why were they created on American
types of organization?  It is probable that the islands of the
Cape de Verd group resemble, in all their physical conditions,
far more closely the Galapagos Islands, than these latter
physically resemble the coast of America, yet the aboriginal
inhabitants of the two groups are totally unlike; those of the
Cape de Verd Islands bearing the impress of Africa, as
the inhabitants of the Galapagos Archipelago are stamped
with that of America


I have not as yet noticed by far the most remarkable feature
in the natural history of this archipelago; it is, that
the different islands to a considerable extent are inhabited by
a different set of beings.  My attention was first called to
this fact by the Vice-Governor, Mr. Lawson, declaring that
the tortoises differed from the different islands, and that he
could with certainty tell from which island any one was
brought.  I did not for some time pay sufficient attention
to this statement, and I had already partially mingled together
the collections from two of the islands.  I never
dreamed that islands, about 50 or 60 miles apart, and most of
them in sight of each other, formed of precisely the same
rocks, placed under a quite similar climate, rising to a nearly
equal height, would have been differently tenanted; but we
shall soon see that this is the case.  It is the fate of most
voyagers, no sooner to discover what is most interesting in
any locality, than they are hurried from it; but I ought,
perhaps, to be thankful that I obtained sufficient materials to
establish this most remarkable fact in the distribution of
organic beings.

The inhabitants, as I have said, state that they can distinguish
the tortoises from the different islands; and that
they differ not only in size, but in other characters.  Captain
Porter has described [5] those from Charles and from the nearest
island to it, namely, Hood Island, as having their shells
in front thick and turned up like a Spanish saddle, whilst
the tortoises from James Island are rounder, blacker, and
have a better taste when cooked.  M. Bibron, moreover,
informs me that he has seen what he considers two distinct
species of tortoise from the Galapagos, but he does not know
from which islands.  The specimens that I brought from
three islands were young ones: and probably owing to this
cause neither Mr. Gray nor myself could find in them any
specific differences.  I have remarked that the marine
Amblyrhynchus was larger at Albemarle Island than elsewhere;
and M. Bibron informs me that he has seen two distinct
aquatic species of this genus; so that the different
islands probably have their representative species or races
of the Amblyrhynchus, as well as of the tortoise.  My attention
was first thoroughly aroused, by comparing together
the numerous specimens, shot by myself and several other
parties on board, of the mocking-thrushes, when, to my
astonishment, I discovered that all those from Charles Island
belonged to one species (Mimus trifasciatus) all from
Albemarle Island to M. parvulus; and all from James and
Chatham Islands (between which two other islands are situated,
as connecting links) belonged to M. melanotis.  These
two latter species are closely allied, and would by some
ornithologists be considered as only well-marked races or
varieties; but the Mimus trifasciatus is very distinct.
Unfortunately most of the specimens of the finch tribe were
mingled together; but I have strong reasons to suspect that
some of the species of the sub-group Geospiza are confined
to separate islands.  If the different islands have their
representatives of Geospiza, it may help to explain the
singularly large number of the species of this sub-group in this
one small archipelago, and as a probable consequence of their
numbers, the perfectly graduated series in the size of their
beaks.  Two species of the sub-group Cactornis, and two of
the Camarhynchus, were procured in the archipelago; and
of the numerous specimens of these two sub-groups shot by
four collectors at James Island, all were found to belong to
one species of each; whereas the numerous specimens shot
either on Chatham or Charles Island (for the two sets were
mingled together) all belonged to the two other species:
hence we may feel almost sure that these islands possess
their respective species of these two sub-groups.  In land-
shells this law of distribution does not appear to hold good.
In my very small collection of insects, Mr. Waterhouse
remarks, that of those which were ticketed with their locality,
not one was common to any two of the islands.

If we now turn to the Flora, we shall find the aboriginal
plants of the different islands wonderfully different.  I give
all the following results on the high authority of my friend
Dr. J. Hooker.  I may premise that I indiscriminately collected
everything in flower on the different islands, and fortunately
kept my collections separate.  Too much confidence,
however, must not be placed in the proportional results, as
the small collections brought home by some other naturalists
though in some respects confirming the results, plainly show
that much remains to be done in the botany of this group:
the Leguminosae, moreover, has as yet been only approximately
worked out: —

————————————————————————————————
                                                     Number of
                                                     Species
                                                     confined
                                                     to the
                  Number of   Number of              Galapagos
                  species     species      Number    Archipelago
         Total    found in    confined     confined  but found
Name     Number   other       to the       to the    on more
of       of       parts of    Galapagos    one       than the
Island   Species  the world   Archipelago  island    one island
————————————————————————————————
James       71       33           38           30        8
Albemarle    4       18           26           22        4
Chatham     32       16           16           12        4
Charles     68       39           29           21        8
                 (or 29, if
                 the probably
                 imported
                 plants be
                 subtracted.)
————————————————————————————————

Hence we have the truly wonderful fact, that in James
Island, of the thirty-eight Galapageian plants, or those found
in no other part of the world, thirty are exclusively confined
to this one island; and in Albemarle Island, of the twenty-
six aboriginal Galapageian plants, twenty-two are confined
to this one island, that is, only four are at present known to
grow in the other islands of the archipelago; and so on, as
shown in the above table, with the plants from Chatham and
Charles Islands.  This fact will, perhaps, be rendered even
more striking, by giving a few illustrations: — thus, Scalesia,
a remarkable arborescent genus of the Compositae, is confined
to the archipelago: it has six species: one from Chatham,
one from Albemarle, one from Charles Island, two from
James Island, and the sixth from one of the three latter
islands, but it is not known from which: not one of these six
species grows on any two islands.  Again, Euphorbia, a mundane
or widely distributed genus, has here eight species, of
which seven are confined to the archipelago, and not one
found on any two islands: Acalypha and Borreria, both mundane
genera, have respectively six and seven species, none
of which have the same species on two islands, with the
exception of one Borreria, which does occur on two islands.
The species of the Compositae are particularly local; and Dr.
Hooker has furnished me with several other most striking
illustrations of the difference of the species on the different
islands.  He remarks that this law of distribution holds good
both with those genera confined to the archipelago, and those
distributed in other quarters of the world: in like manner
we have seen that the different islands have their proper
species of the mundane genus of tortoise, and of the widely
distributed American genus of the mocking-thrush, as well
as of two of the Galapageian sub-groups of finches, and
almost certainly of the Galapageian genus Amblyrhynchus.

The distribution of the tenants of this archipelago would
not be nearly so wonderful, if, for instance, one island had
a mocking-thrush, and a second island some other quite distinct
genus, — if one island had its genus of lizard, and a
second island another distinct genus, or none whatever; — or
if the different islands were inhabited, not by representative
species of the same genera of plants, but by totally different
genera, as does to a certain extent hold good: for, to give
one instance, a large berry-bearing tree at James Island has
no representative species in Charles Island.  But it is the
circumstance, that several of the islands possess their own
species of the tortoise, mocking-thrush, finches, and numerous
plants, these species having the same general habits,
occupying analogous situations, and obviously filling the
same place in the natural economy of this archipelago, that
strikes me with wonder.  It may be suspected that some of
these representative species, at least in the case of the
tortoise and of some of the birds, may hereafter prove to be
only well-marked races; but this would be of equally great
interest to the philosophical naturalist.  I have said that most
of the islands are in sight of each other: I may specify that
Charles Island is fifty miles from the nearest part of Chatham
Island, and thirty-three miles from the nearest part of
Albemarle Island.  Chatham Island is sixty miles from the
nearest part of James Island, but there are two intermediate
islands between them which were not visited by me.  James
Island is only ten miles from the nearest part of Albemarle
Island, but the two points where the collections were made
are thirty-two miles apart.  I must repeat, that neither the
nature of the soil, nor height of the land, nor the climate,
nor the general character of the associated beings, and
therefore their action one on another, can differ much in the
different islands.  If there be any sensible difference in their
climates, it must be between the Windward group (namely,
Charles and Chatham Islands), and that to leeward; but
there seems to be no corresponding difference in the productions
of these two halves of the archipelago.

The only light which I can throw on this remarkable difference
in the inhabitants of the different islands, is, that
very strong currents of the sea running in a westerly and
W.N.W. direction must separate, as far as transportal by the
sea is concerned, the southern islands from the northern
ones; and between these northern islands a strong N.W. current
was observed, which must effectually separate James
and Albemarle Islands.  As the archipelago is free to a
most remarkable degree from gales of wind, neither the
birds, insects, nor lighter seeds, would be blown from island
to island.  And lastly, the profound depth of the ocean between
the islands, and their apparently recent (in a geological
sense) volcanic origin, render it highly unlikely that they
were ever united; and this, probably, is a far more important
consideration than any other, with respect to the geographical
distribution of their inhabitants.  Reviewing the facts
here given, one is astonished at the amount of creative force,
if such an expression may be used, displayed on these small,
barren, and rocky islands; and still more so, at its diverse
yet analogous action on points so near each other.  I have
said that the Galapagos Archipelago might be called a satellite
attached to America, but it should rather be called a
group of satellites, physically similar, organically distinct,
yet intimately related to each other, and all related in a
marked, though much lesser degree, to the great American
continent.

I will conclude my description of the natural history of
these islands, by giving an account of the extreme tameness
of the birds.

This disposition is common to all the terrestrial species;
namely, to the mocking-thrushes, the finches, wrens, tyrant-
flycatchers, the dove, and carrion-buzzard.  All of them are
often approached sufficiently near to be killed with a switch,
and sometimes, as I myself tried, with a cap or hat.  A gun
is here almost superfluous; for with the muzzle I pushed a
hawk off the branch of a tree.  One day, whilst lying down,
a mocking-thrush alighted on the edge of a pitcher, made of
the shell of a tortoise, which I held in my hand, and began
very quietly to sip the water; it allowed me to lift it from
the ground whilst seated on the vessel: I often tried, and
very nearly succeeded, in catching these birds by their legs.
Formerly the birds appear to have been even tamer than at
present.  Cowley (in the year 1684) says that the "Turtledoves
were so tame, that they would often alight on our hats
and arms, so as that we could take them alive, they not fearing
man, until such time as some of our company did fire at
them, whereby they were rendered more shy." Dampier
also, in the same year, says that a man in a morning's walk
might kill six or seven dozen of these doves.  At present,
although certainly very tame, they do not alight on people's
arms, nor do they suffer themselves to be killed in such large
numbers.  It is surprising that they have not become wilder;
for these islands during the last hundred and fifty  years have
been frequently visited by bucaniers and whalers; and the
sailors, wandering through the wood in search of tortoises,
always take cruel delight in knocking down the little birds.
These birds, although now still more persecuted, do not
readily become wild.  In Charles Island, which had then
been colonized about six years, I saw a boy sitting by a well
with a switch in his hand, with which he killed the doves
and finches as they came to drink.  He had already procured
a little heap of them for his dinner, and he said that he had
constantly been in the habit of waiting by this well for the
same purpose.  It would appear that the birds of this
archipelago, not having as yet learnt that man is a more
dangerous animal than the tortoise or the Amblyrhynchus,
disregard him, in the same manner as in England shy birds, such
as magpies, disregard the cows and horses grazing in our fields.

The Falkland Islands offer a second instance of birds
with a similar disposition.  The extraordinary tameness of
the little Opetiorhynchus has been remarked by Pernety,
Lesson, and other voyagers.  It is not, however, peculiar to
that bird: the Polyborus, snipe, upland and lowland goose,
thrush, bunting, and even some true hawks, are all more or
less tame.  As the birds are so tame there, where foxes,
hawks, and owls occur, we may infer that the absence of all
rapacious animals at the Galapagos, is not the cause of their
tameness here.  The upland geese at the Falklands show, by
the precaution they take in building on the islets, that they
are aware of their danger from the foxes; but they are not
by this rendered wild towards man.  This tameness of the
birds, especially of the waterfowl, is strongly contrasted with
the habits of the same species in Tierra del Fuego, where for
ages past they have been persecuted by the wild inhabitants.
In the Falklands, the sportsman may sometimes kill more
of the upland geese in one day than he can carry home;
whereas in Tierra del Fuego it is nearly as difficult to kill
one, as it is in England to shoot the common wild goose.

In the time of Pernety (1763), all the birds there appear
to have been much tamer than at present; he states that the
Opetiorhynchus would almost perch on his finger; and that
with a wand he killed ten in half an hour.  At that period
the birds must have been about as tame as they now are at
the Galapagos.  They appear to have learnt caution more
slowly at these latter islands than at the Falklands, where
they have had proportionate means of experience; for besides
frequent visits from vessels, those islands have been at
intervals colonized during the entire period.  Even formerly,
when all the birds were so tame, it was impossible by Pernety's
account to kill the black-necked swan — a bird of
passage, which probably brought with it the wisdom learnt
in foreign countries.

I may add that, according to Du Bois, all the birds at
Bourbon in 1571-72, with the exception of the flamingoes
and geese, were so extremely tame, that they could be caught
by the hand, or killed in any number with a stick.  Again,
at Tristan d'Acunha in the Atlantic, Carmichael [6] states that
the only two land-birds, a thrush and a bunting, were "so
tame as to suffer themselves to be caught with a hand-net."
From these several facts we may, I think, conclude, first, that
the wildness of birds with regard to man, is a particular
instinct directed against him, and not dependent upon any
general degree of caution arising from other sources of
danger; secondly, that it is not acquired by individual birds
in a short time, even when much persecuted; but that in the
course of successive generations it becomes hereditary.  With
domesticated animals we are accustomed to see new mental
habits or instincts acquired or rendered hereditary; but with
animals in a state of nature, it must always be most difficult
to discover instances of acquired hereditary knowledge.  In
regard to the wildness of birds towards man, there is no way
of accounting for it, except as an inherited habit:
comparatively few young birds, in any one year, have been
injured by man in England, yet almost all, even nestlings, are
afraid of him; many individuals, on the other hand, both at the
Galapagos and at the Falklands, have been pursued and
injured by man, yet have not learned a salutary dread of
him.  We may infer from these facts, what havoc the introduction
of any new beast of prey must cause in a country,
before the instincts of the indigenous inhabitants have
become adapted to the stranger's craft or power.

[1] The progress of research has shown that some of these birds,
which were then thought to be confined to the islands, occur on
the American continent.  The eminent ornithologist, Mr. Sclater,
informs me that this is the case with the Strix punctatissima
and Pyrocephalus nanus; and probably with the Otus Galapagoensis
and Zenaida Galapagoensis: so that the number of endemic birds
is reduced to twenty-three, or probably to twenty-one.  Mr.
Sclater thinks that one or two of these endemic forms should be
ranked rather as varieties than species, which always seemed to
me probable.

[2] This is stated by Dr. Gunther (Zoolog. Soc. Jan 24th,
1859) to be a peculiar species, not known to inhabit any other
country.

[3] Voyage aux Quatre Iles d'Afrique.  With respect to the
Sandwich Islands, see Tyerman and Bennett's Journal, vol. i.
p. 434.  For Mauritius, see Voyage par un Officier, etc.,
part i. p. 170.  There are no frogs in the Canary Islands
(Webb et Berthelot, Hist. Nat. des Iles Canaries).  I saw
none at St. Jago in the Cape de Verds.  There are none at
St. Helena.

[4] Ann. and Mag. of Nat. Hist., vol. xvi. p. 19.

[5] Voyage in the U. S. ship Essex, vol. i. p. 215.

[6] Linn. Trans., vol. xii. p. 496.  The most anomalous fact on
this subject which I have met with is the wildness of the small
birds in the Arctic parts of North America (as described by
Richardson, Fauna Bor., vol. ii. p. 332), where they are said
never to be persecuted.  This case is the more strange, because
it is asserted that some of the same species in their winter-
quarters in the United States are tame.  There is much, as Dr.
Richardson well remarks, utterly inexplicable connected with the
different degrees of shyness and care with which birds conceal
their nests.  How strange it is that the English wood-pigeon,
generally so wild a bird, should very frequently rear its young
in shrubberies close to houses!



CHAPTER XVIII

TAHITI AND NEW ZEALAND

Pass through the Low Archipelago — Tahiti — Aspect —
Vegetation on the Mountains — View of Eimeo — Excursion into
the Interior — Profound Ravines — Succession of Waterfalls —
Number of wild useful Plants — Temperance of the Inhabitants —
Their moral state  — Parliament convened — New Zealand — Bay
of Islands — Hippahs  — Excursion to Waimate — Missionary
Establishment — English Weeds now run wild — Waiomio —
Funeral of a New Zealand Woman — Sail for Australia.


OCTOBER 20th. — The survey of the Galapagos Archipelago
being concluded, we steered towards Tahiti
and commenced our long passage of 3200 miles.  In
the course of a few days we sailed out of the gloomy and
clouded ocean-district which extends during the winter far
from the coast of South America.  We then enjoyed bright
and clear weather, while running pleasantly along at the
rate of 150 or 160 miles a day before the steady trade-wind.
The temperature in this more central part of the Pacific is
higher than near the American shore.  The thermometer in
the poop cabin, by night and day, ranged between 80 and
83 degs., which feels very pleasant; but with one degree or two
higher, the heat becomes oppressive.  We passed through
the Low or Dangerous Archipelago, and saw several of
those most curious rings of coral land, just rising above the
water's edge, which have been called Lagoon Islands.  A
long and brilliantly white beach is capped by a margin of
green vegetation; and the strip, looking either way, rapidly
narrows away in the distance, and sinks beneath the horizon
From the mast-head a wide expanse of smooth water can be
seen within the ring.  These low hollow coral islands bear
no proportion to the vast ocean out of which they abruptly
rise; and it seems wonderful, that such weak invaders are
not overwhelmed, by the all-powerful and never-tiring waves
of that great sea, miscalled the Pacific.

November 15th. — At daylight, Tahiti, an island which
must for ever remain classical to the voyager in the South
Sea, was in view.  At a distance the appearance was not
attractive.  The luxuriant vegetation of the lower part could
not yet be seen, and as the clouds rolled past, the wildest
and most precipitous peaks showed themselves towards the
centre of the island.  As soon as we anchored in Matavai
Bay, we were surrounded by canoes.  This was our Sunday,
but the Monday of Tahiti: if the case had been reversed,
we should not have received a single visit; for the injunction
not to launch a canoe on the sabbath is rigidly obeyed.
After dinner we landed to enjoy all the delights produced
by the first impressions of a new country, and that country
the charming Tahiti.  A crowd of men, women, and children,
was collected on the memorable Point Venus, ready to
receive us with laughing, merry faces.  They marshalled
us towards the house of Mr. Wilson, the missionary of the
district, who met us on the road, and gave us a very friendly
reception.  After sitting a very short time in his house, we
separated to walk about, but returned there in the evening.

The land capable of cultivation, is scarcely in any part
more than a fringe of low alluvial soil, accumulated round
the base of the mountains, and protected from the waves of
the sea by a coral reef, which encircles the entire line of
coast.  Within the reef there is an expanse of smooth water,
like that of a lake, where the canoes of the natives can ply
with safety and where ships anchor.  The low land which
comes down to the beach of coral-sand, is covered by the
most beautiful productions of the intertropical regions.  In
the midst of bananas, orange, cocoa-nut, and bread-fruit
trees, spots are cleared where yams, sweet potatoes, and
sugar-cane, and pine-apples are cultivated.  Even the brush-wood
is an imported fruit-tree, namely, the guava, which
from its abundance has become as noxious as a weed.  In
Brazil I have often admired the varied beauty of the
bananas, palms, and orange-trees contrasted together; and
here we also have the bread-fruit, conspicuous from its large,
glossy, and deeply digitated leaf.  It is admirable to behold
groves of a tree, sending forth its branches with the vigour
of an English oak, loaded with large and most nutritious
fruit.  However seldom the usefulness of an object can
account for the pleasure of beholding it, in the case of these
beautiful woods, the knowledge of their high productiveness
no doubt enters largely into the feeling of admiration.  The
little winding paths, cool from the surrounding shade, led
to the scattered houses; the owners of which everywhere
gave us a cheerful and most hospitable reception.

I was pleased with nothing so much as with the inhabitants.
There is a mildness in the expression of their countenances
which at once banishes the idea of a savage; and
intelligence which shows that they are advancing in
civilization.  The common people, when working, keep the upper
part of their bodies quite naked; and it is then that the
Tahitians are seen to advantage.  They are very tall, broad-
shouldered, athletic, and well-proportioned.  It has been
remarked, that it requires little habit to make a dark skin
more pleasing and natural to the eye of an European than
his own colour.  A white man bathing by the side of a
Tahitian, was like a plant bleached by the gardener's art
compared with a fine dark green one growing vigorously in
the open fields.  Most of the men are tattooed, and the ornaments
follow the curvature of the body so gracefully, that
they have a very elegant effect.  One common pattern, varying
in its details, is somewhat like the crown of a palm-tree.
It springs from the central line of the back, and gracefully
curls round both sides.  The simile may be a fanciful one,
but I thought the body of a man thus ornamented was like
the trunk of a, noble tree embraced by a delicate creeper.

Many of the elder people had their feet covered with
small figures, so placed as to resemble a sock.  This fashion,
however, is partly gone by, and has been succeeded by others.
Here, although fashion is far from immutable, every one
must abide by that prevailing in his youth.  An old man
has thus his age for ever stamped on his body, and he cannot
assume the airs of a young dandy.  The women are tattooed
in the same manner as the men, and very commonly on their
fingers.  One unbecoming fashion is now almost universal:
namely, shaving the hair from the upper part of the head,
in a circular form, so as to leave only an outer ring.  The
missionaries have tried to persuade the people to change this
habit; but it is the fashion, and that is a sufficient answer
at Tahiti, as well as at Paris.  I was much disappointed in
the personal appearance of the women: they are far inferior
in every respect to the men.  The custom of wearing a white
or scarlet flower in the back of the head, or through a small
hole in each ear, is pretty.  A crown of woven cocoa-nut
leaves is also worn as a shade for the eyes.  The women
appear to be in greater want of some becoming costume even
than the men.

Nearly all the natives understand a little English — that is,
they know the names of common things; and by the aid of
this, together with signs, a lame sort of conversation could
be carried on.  In returning in the evening to the boat, we
stopped to witness a very pretty scene.  Numbers of children
were playing on the beach, and had lighted bonfires
which illumined the placid sea and surrounding trees;
others, in circles, were singing Tahitian verses.  We seated
ourselves on the sand, and joined their party.  The songs
were impromptu, and I believe related to our arrival: one
little girl sang a line, which the rest took up in parts,
forming a very pretty chorus.  The whole scene made us
unequivocally aware that we were seated on the shores of an
island in the far-famed South Sea.

17th. — This day is reckoned in the log-book as Tuesday
the 17th, instead of Monday the 16th, owing to our, so far,
successful chase of the sun.  Before breakfast the ship was
hemmed in by a flotilla of canoes; and when the natives
were allowed to come on board, I suppose there could not
have been less than two hundred.  It was the opinion of
every one that it would have been difficult to have picked out
an equal number from any other nation, who would have
given so little trouble.  Everybody brought something for
sale: shells were the main articles of trade.  The Tahitians
now fully understand the value of money, and prefer it to
old clothes or other articles.  The various coins, however, of
English and Spanish denomination puzzle them, and they
never seemed to think the small silver quite secure until
changed into dollars.  Some of the chiefs have accumulated
considerable sums of money.  One chief, not long since,
offered 800 dollars (about 160 pounds sterling) for a small
vessel; and frequently they purchase whale-boats and horses at
the rate of from 50 to 100 dollars.

After breakfast I went on shore, and ascended the nearest
slope to a height of between two and three thousand feet.
The outer mountains are smooth and conical, but steep; and
the old volcanic rocks, of which they are formed, have been
cut through by many profound ravines, diverging from the
central broken parts of the island to the coast.  Having
crossed the narrow low girt of inhabited and fertile land,
I followed a smooth steep ridge between two of the deep
ravines.  The vegetation was singular, consisting almost
exclusively of small dwarf ferns, mingled higher up, with
coarse grass; it was not very dissimilar from that on some
of the Welsh hills, and this so close above the orchard of
tropical plants on the coast was very surprising.  At the
highest point, which I reached, trees again appeared.  Of
the three zones of comparative luxuriance, the lower one
owes its moisture, and therefore fertility, to its flatness;
for, being scarcely raised above the level of the sea, the water
from the higher land drains away slowly.  The intermediate
zone does not, like the upper one, reach into a damp and
cloudy atmosphere, and therefore remains sterile.  The
woods in the upper zone are very pretty, tree-ferns replacing
the cocoa-nuts on the coast.  It must not, however, be
supposed that these woods at all equal in splendour the
forests of Brazil.  The vast numbers of productions, which
characterize a continent, cannot be expected to occur in
an island.

From the highest point which I attained, there was a good
view of the distant island of Eimeo, dependent on the same
sovereign with Tahiti.  On the lofty and broken pinnacles,
white massive clouds were piled up, which formed an island
in the blue sky, as Eimeo itself did in the blue ocean.  The
island, with the exception of one small gateway, is completely
encircled by a reef.  At this distance, a narrow but well-
defined brilliantly white line was alone visible, where the
waves first encountered the wall of coral.  The mountains
rose abruptly out of the glassy expanse of the lagoon, included
within this narrow white line, outside which the heaving
waters of the ocean were dark-coloured.  The view was
striking: it may aptly be compared to a framed engraving,
where the frame represents the breakers, the marginal paper
the smooth lagoon, and the drawing the island itself.  When
in the evening I descended from the mountain, a man, whom
I had pleased with a trifling gift, met me, bringing with him
hot roasted bananas, a pine-apple, and cocoa-nuts.  After
walking under a burning sun, I do not know anything more
delicious than the milk of a young cocoa-nut.  Pine-apples
are here so abundant that the people eat them in the same
wasteful manner as we might turnips.  They are of an excellent
flavor — perhaps even better than those cultivated in
England; and this I believe is the highest compliment which
can be paid to any fruit.  Before going on board, Mr. Wilson
interpreted for me to the Tahitian who had paid me so adroit
an attention, that I wanted him and another man to accompany
me on a short excursion into the mountains.

18th. — In the morning I came on shore early, bringing
with me some provisions in a bag, and two blankets for myself
and servant.  These were lashed to each end of a long
pole, which was alternately carried by my Tahitian companions
on their shoulders.  These men are accustomed thus
to carry, for a whole day, as much as fifty pounds at each
end of their poles.  I told my guides to provide themselves
with food and clothing; but they said that there was plenty
of food in the mountains, and for clothing, that their skins
were sufficient.  Our line of march was the valley of Tiaauru,
down which a river flows into the sea by Point Venus.
This is one of the principal streams in the island, and its
source lies at the base of the loftiest central pinnacles,
which rise to a height of about 7000 feet.  The whole island
is so mountainous that the only way to penetrate into the
interior is to follow up the valleys.  Our road, at first, lay
through woods which bordered each side of the river; and
the glimpses of the lofty central peaks, seen as through an
avenue, with here and there a waving cocoa-nut tree on one
side, were extremely picturesque.  The valley soon began to
narrow, and the sides to grow lofty and more precipitous.
After having walked between three and four hours, we
found the width of the ravine scarcely exceeded that of the
bed of the stream.  On each hand the walls were nearly vertical,
yet from the soft nature of the volcanic strata, trees
and a rank vegetation sprung from every projecting ledge.
These precipices must have been some thousand feet high;
and the whole formed a mountain gorge far more magnificent
than anything which I had ever before beheld.  Until
the midday sun stood vertically over the ravine, the air felt
cool and damp, but now it became very sultry.  Shaded by a
ledge of rock, beneath a facade of columnar lava, we ate our
dinner.  My guides had already procured a dish of small
fish and fresh-water prawns.  They carried with them a
small net stretched on a hoop; and where the water was
deep and in eddies, they dived, and like otters, with their
eyes open followed the fish into holes and corners, and thus
caught them.

The Tahitians have the dexterity of amphibious animals
in the water.  An anecdote mentioned by Ellis shows how
much they feel at home in this element.  When a horse was
landing for Pomarre in 1817, the slings broke, and it fell
into the water; immediately the natives jumped overboard,
and by their cries and vain efforts at assistance almost
drowned it.  As soon, however, as it reached the shore, the
whole population took to flight, and tried to hide themselves
from the man-carrying pig, as they christened the horse.

A little higher up, the river divided itself into three little
streams.  The two northern ones were impracticable, owing
to a succession of waterfalls which descended from the
jagged summit of the highest mountain; the other to all
appearance was equally inaccessible, but we managed to ascend
it by a most extraordinary road.  The sides of the
valley were here nearly precipitous, but, as frequently happens
with stratified rocks, small ledges projected, which were
thickly covered by wild bananas, lilaceous plants, and other
luxuriant productions of the tropics.  The Tahitians, by
climbing amongst these ledges, searching for fruit, had
discovered a track by which the whole precipice could be scaled.
The first ascent from the valley was very dangerous; for it
was necessary to pass a steeply inclined face of naked rock,
by  the aid of ropes which we brought with us.  How any
person discovered that this formidable spot was the only
point where the side of the mountain was practicable, I cannot
imagine.  We then cautiously walked along one of the
ledges till we came to one of the three streams.  This ledge
formed a flat spot, above which a beautiful cascade, some
hundred feet in height, poured down its waters, and beneath,
another high cascade fell into the main stream in the valley
below.  From this cool and shady recess we made a
circuit to avoid the overhanging waterfall.  As before, we
followed little projecting ledges, the danger being partly
concealed by the thickness of the vegetation.  In passing
from one of the ledges to another, there was a vertical wall
of rock.  One of the Tahitians, a fine active man, placed
the trunk of a tree against this, climbed up it, and then by
the aid of crevices reached the summit.  He fixed the ropes
to a projecting point, and lowered them for our dog and
luggage, and then we clambered up ourselves.  Beneath the
ledge on which the dead tree was placed, the precipice must
have been five or six hundred feet deep; and if the abyss
had not been partly concealed by the overhanging ferns and
lilies my head would have turned giddy, and nothing should
have induced me to have attempted it.  We continued to
ascend, sometimes along ledges, and sometimes along knife-
edged ridges, having on each hand profound ravines.  In
the Cordillera I have seen mountains on a far grander
scale, but for abruptness, nothing at all comparable with this.
In the evening we reached a flat little spot on the banks
of the same stream, which we had continued to follow, and
which descends in a chain of waterfalls: here we bivouacked
for the night.  On each side of the ravine there were great
beds of the mountain-banana, covered with ripe fruit.  Many
of these plants were from twenty to twenty-five feet high,
and from three to four in circumference.  By the aid of
strips of bark for rope, the stems of bamboos for rafters,
and the large leaf of the banana for a thatch, the Tahitians
in a few minutes built us an excellent house; and with
withered leaves made a soft bed.

They then proceeded to make a fire, and cook our evening
meal.  A light was procured, by rubbing a blunt pointed
stick in a groove made in another, as if with intention of
deepening it, until by the friction the dust became ignited.
A peculiarly white and very light wood (the Hibiscus tiliareus)
is alone used for this purpose: it is the same which
serves for poles to carry any burden, and for the floating
out-riggers to their canoes.  The fire was produced in a few
seconds: but to a person who does not understand the art,
it requires, as I found, the greatest exertion; but at last, to
my great pride, I succeeded in igniting the dust.  The
Gaucho in the Pampas uses a different method: taking an
elastic stick about eighteen inches long, he presses one end
on his breast, and the other pointed end into a hole in a piece
of wood, and then rapidly turns the curved part, like a
carpenter's centre-bit.  The Tahitians having made a small fire
of sticks, placed a score of stones, of about the size of
cricket-balls, on the burning wood.  In about ten minutes the
sticks were consumed, and the stones hot.  They had previously
folded up in small parcels of leaves, pieces of beef,
fish, ripe and unripe bananas, and the tops of the wild arum.
These green parcels were laid in a layer between two layers
of the hot stones, and the whole then covered up with
earth, so that no smoke or steam could escape.  In about
a quarter of an hour, the whole was most deliciously cooked.
The choice green parcels were now laid on a cloth of
banana leaves, and with a cocoa-nut shell we drank the
cool water of the running stream; and thus we enjoyed our
rustic meal.

I could not look on the surrounding plants without admiration.
On every side were forests of banana; the fruit
of which, though serving for food in various ways, lay in
heaps decaying on the ground.  In front of us there was an
extensive brake of wild sugar-cane; and the stream was
shaded by the dark green knotted stem of the Ava, — so famous
in former days for its powerful intoxicating effects.  I
chewed a piece, and found that it had an acrid and unpleasant
taste, which would have induced any one at once to
have pronounced it poisonous.  Thanks to the missionaries,
this plant now thrives only in these deep ravines, innocuous to
every one.  Close by I saw the wild arum, the roots of which,
when well baked, are good to eat, and the young leaves
better than spinach.  There was the wild yam, and a liliaceous
plant called Ti, which grows in abundance, and has a soft
brown root, in shape and size like a huge log of wood: this
served us for dessert, for it is as sweet as treacle, and  with
a pleasant taste.  There were, moreover, several other wild
fruits, and useful vegetables.  The little stream, besides its
cool water, produced eels, and cray-fish.  I did indeed admire
this scene, when I compared it with an uncultivated one in
the temperate zones.  I felt the force of the remark, that
man, at least savage man, with his reasoning powers only
partly developed, is the child of the tropics.

As the evening drew to a close, I strolled beneath the
gloomy shade of the bananas up the course of the stream.
My walk was soon brought to a close, by coming to a waterfall
between two and three hundred feet high; and again
above this there was another.  I mention all these waterfalls
in this one brook, to give a general idea of the inclination
of the land.  In the little recess where the water fell, it did
not appear that a breath of wind had ever blown.  The thin
edges of the great leaves of the banana, damp with spray,
were unbroken, instead of being, as is so generally the case,
split into a thousand shreds.  From our position, almost
suspended on the mountain side, there were glimpses into the
depths of the neighbouring valleys; and the lofty points of
the central mountains, towering up within sixty degrees of
the zenith, hid half the evening sky.  Thus seated, it was
a sublime spectacle to watch the shades of night gradually
obscuring the last and highest pinnacles.

Before we laid ourselves down to sleep, the elder Tahitian
fell on his knees, and with closed eyes repeated a long
prayer in his native tongue.  He prayed as a Christian should
do, with fitting reverence, and without the fear of ridicule
or any ostentation of piety.  At our meals neither of the men
would taste food, without saying beforehand a short grace.
Those travellers who think that a Tahitian prays only when
the eyes of the missionary are fixed on him, should have
slept with us that night on the mountain-side.  Before morning
it rained very heavily; but the good thatch of banana-
leaves kept us dry.

November 19th. — At daylight my friends, after their
morning prayer, prepared an excellent breakfast in the same
manner as in the evening.  They themselves certainly partook
of it largely; indeed I never saw any men eat near so
much.  I suppose such enormously capacious stomachs must
be the effect of a large part of their diet consisting of fruit
and vegetables, which contain, in a given bulk, a comparatively
small portion of nutriment.  Unwittingly, I was the
means of my companions breaking, as I afterwards learned,
one of their own laws, and resolutions: I took with me a
flask of spirits, which they could not refuse to partake of;
but as often as they drank a little, they put their fingers
before their mouths, and uttered the word "Missionary."
About two years ago, although the use of the ava was prevented,
drunkenness from the introduction of spirits became
very prevalent.  The missionaries prevailed on a few good
men, who saw that their country was rapidly going to ruin,
to join with them in a Temperance Society.  From good
sense or shame, all the chiefs and the queen were at last
persuaded to join.  Immediately a law was passed, that no
spirits should be allowed to be introduced into the island,
and that he who sold and he who bought the forbidden
article should be punished by a fine.  With remarkable justice,
a certain period was allowed for stock in hand to be
sold, before the law came into effect.  But when it did, a
general search was made, in which even the houses of the
missionaries were not exempted, and all the ava (as the
natives call all ardent spirits) was poured on the ground.
When one reflects on the effect of intemperance on the
aborigines of the two Americas, I think it will be acknowledged
that every well-wisher of Tahiti owes no common debt
of gratitude to the missionaries.  As long as the little island
of St. Helena remained under the government of the East
India Company, spirits, owing to the great injury they had
produced, were not allowed to be imported; but wine was
supplied from the Cape of Good Hope.  It is rather a striking
and not very gratifying fact, that in the same year
that spirits were allowed to be sold in Helena, their use was
banished from Tahiti by the free will of the people.

After breakfast we proceeded on our Journey.  As my object
was merely to see a little of the interior scenery, we
returned by another track, which descended into the main
valley lower down.  For some distance we wound, by a most
intricate path, along the side of the mountain which formed
the valley.  In the less precipitous parts we passed through
extensive groves of the wild banana.  The Tahitians, with
their naked, tattooed bodies, their heads ornamented with
flowers, and seen in the dark shade of these groves, would
have formed a fine picture of man inhabiting some primeval
land.  In our descent we followed the line of ridges; these
were exceedingly narrow, and for considerable lengths steep
as a ladder; but all clothed with vegetation.  The extreme
care necessary in poising each step rendered the walk fatiguing.
I did not cease to wonder at these ravines and
precipices: when viewing the country from one of the knife-
edged ridges, the point of support was so small, that the
effect was nearly the same as it must be from a balloon.  In
this descent we had occasion to use the ropes only once, at
the point where we entered the main valley.  We slept under
the same ledge of rock where we had dined the day before:
the night was fine, but from the depth and narrowness of the
gorge, profoundly dark.

Before actually seeing this country, I found it difficult
to understand two facts mentioned by Ellis; namely, that
after the murderous battles of former times, the survivors
on the conquered side retired into the mountains, where a
handful of men could resist a multitude.  Certainly half
a dozen men, at the spot where the Tahitian reared the old
tree, could easily have repulsed thousands.  Secondly, that
after the introduction of Christianity, there were wild men
who lived in the mountains, and whose retreats were unknown
to the more civilized inhabitants

November 20th. — In the morning we started early, and
reached Matavai at noon.  On the road we met a large party
of noble athletic men, going for wild bananas.  I found that
the ship, on account of the difficulty in watering, had moved
to the harbour of Papawa, to which place I immediately
walked.  This is a very pretty spot.  The cove is surrounded
by reefs, and the water as smooth as in a lake.  The
cultivated ground, with its beautiful productions, interspersed
with cottages, comes close down to the water's edge.
From the varying accounts which I had read before reaching
these islands, I was very anxious to form, from my own
observation, a judgment of their moral state, — although such
judgment would necessarily be very imperfect.  First impressions
at all times very much depend on one's previously
acquired ideas.  My notions were drawn from Ellis's "Polynesian
Researches" — an admirable and most interesting
work, but naturally looking at everything under a favourable
point of view, from Beechey's Voyage; and from that of
Kotzebue, which is strongly adverse to the whole missionary
system.  He who compares these three accounts will, I think,
form a tolerably accurate conception of the present state of
Tahiti.  One of my impressions which I took from the two
last authorities, was decidedly incorrect; viz., that the
Tahitians had become a gloomy race, and lived in fear of the
missionaries.  Of the latter feeling I saw no trace, unless,
indeed, fear and respect be confounded under one name.
Instead of discontent being a common feeling, it would be
difficult in Europe to pick out of a crowd half so many merry
and happy faces.  The prohibition of the flute and dancing
is inveighed against as wrong and foolish; — the more than
presbyterian manner of keeping the sabbath is looked at in
a similar light.  On these points I will not pretend to offer
any opinion to men who have resided as many years as I
was days on the island.

On the whole, it appears to me that the morality and
religion of the inhabitants are highly creditable.  There are
many who attack, even more acrimoniously than Kotzebue,
both the missionaries, their system, and the effects produced
by it.  Such reasoners never compare the present state with
that of the island only twenty years ago; nor even with that
of Europe at this day; but they compare it with the high
standard of Gospel perfection.  They expect the missionaries
to effect that which the Apostles themselves failed to do.
Inasmuch as the condition of the people falls short of
this high standard, blame is attached to the missionary, instead
of credit for that which he has effected.  They forget,
or will not remember, that human sacrifices, and the power
of an idolatrous priesthood — a system of profligacy
unparalleled in any other part of the world — infanticide a
consequence of that system — bloody wars, where the conquerors
spared neither women nor children — that all these have been
abolished; and that dishonesty, intemperance, and licentiousness
have been greatly reduced by the introduction of Christianity.
In a voyager to forget these things is base ingratitude; for
should he chance to be at the point of shipwreck on some
unknown coast, he will most devoutly pray that the lesson of
the missionary may have extended thus far.

In point of morality, the virtue of the women, it has been
often said, is most open to exception.  But before they are
blamed too severely, it will be well distinctly to call to mind
the scenes described by Captain Cook and Mr. Banks, in
which the grandmothers and mothers of the present race
played a part.  Those who are most severe, should consider
how much of the morality of the women in Europe is owing
to the system early impressed by mothers on their daughters,
and how much in each individual case to the precepts of
religion.  But it is useless to argue against such reasoners; —
I believe that, disappointed in not finding the field of
licentiousness quite so open as formerly, they will not give
credit to a morality which they do not wish to practise, or to a
religion which they undervalue, if not despise.

Sunday, 22nd. — The harbour of Papiete, where the queen
resides, may be considered as the capital of the island: it is
also the seat of government, and the chief resort of shipping.
Captain Fitz Roy took a party there this day to hear divine
service, first in the Tahitian language, and afterwards in our
own.  Mr. Pritchard, the leading missionary in the island,
performed the service.  The chapel consisted of a large airy
framework of wood; and it was filled to excess by tidy, clean
people, of all ages and both sexes.  I was rather disappointed
in the apparent degree of attention; but I believe my
expectations were raised too high.  At all events the appearance
was quite equal to that in a country church in England.
The singing of the hymns was decidedly very pleasing, but
the language from the pulpit, although fluently delivered, did
not sound well: a constant repetition of words, like "tata
ta, mata mai," rendered it monotonous.  After English service,
a party returned on foot to Matavai.  It was a pleasant
walk, sometimes along the sea-beach and sometimes under
the shade of the many beautiful trees.

About two years ago, a small vessel under English colours
was plundered by some of the inhabitants of the Low Islands,
which were then under the dominion of the Queen of Tahiti.
It was believed that the perpetrators were instigated to this
act by some indiscreet laws issued by her majesty.  The
British government demanded compensation; which was acceded
to, and the sum of nearly three thousand dollars was
agreed to be paid on the first of last September.  The Commodore
at Lima ordered Captain Fitz Roy to inquire concerning
this debt, and to demand satisfaction if it were not
paid.  Captain Fitz Roy accordingly requested an interview
with the Queen Pomarre, since famous from the ill-treatment
she had received from the French; and a parliament was
held to consider the question, at which all the principal chiefs
of the island and the queen were assembled.  I will not attempt
to describe what took place, after the interesting account
given by Captain Fitz Roy.  The money, it appeared,
had not been paid; perhaps the alleged reasons were rather
equivocal; but otherwise I cannot sufficiently express our
general surprise at the extreme good sense, the reasoning
powers, moderation, candour, and prompt resolution, which
were displayed on all sides.  I believe we all left the meeting
with a very different opinion of the Tahitians, from what we
entertained when we entered.  The chiefs and people resolved
to subscribe and complete the sum which was wanting;
Captain Fitz Roy urged that it was hard that their private
property should be sacrificed for the crimes of distant
islanders.  They replied, that they were grateful for his
consideration, but that Pomarre was their Queen, and that they
were determined to help her in this her difficulty.  This
resolution and its prompt execution, for a book was opened
early the next morning, made a perfect conclusion to this
very remarkable scene of loyalty and good feeling.

After the main discussion was ended, several of the chiefs
took the opportunity of asking Captain Fitz Roy many intelligent
questions on international customs and laws, relating
to the treatment of ships and foreigners.  On some
points, as soon as the decision was made, the law was issued
verbally on the spot.  This Tahitian parliament lasted for
several hours; and when it was over Captain Fitz Roy invited
Queen Pomarre to pay the Beagle a visit.

November 25th. — In the evening four boats were sent for
her majesty; the ship was dressed with flags, and the yards
manned on her coming on board.  She was accompanied by
most of the chiefs.  The behaviour of all was very proper:
they begged for nothing, and seemed much pleased with Captain
Fitz Roy's presents.  The queen is a large awkward
woman, without any beauty, grace or dignity.  She has only
one royal attribute: a perfect immovability of expression
under all circumstances, and that rather a sullen one.  The
rockets were most admired, and a deep "Oh!" could be
heard from the shore, all round the dark bay, after each
explosion.  The sailors' songs were also much admired; and
the queen said she thought that one of the most boisterous
ones certainly could not be a hymn!  The royal party did
not return on shore till past midnight.

26th. — In the evening, with a gentle land-breeze, a course
was steered for New Zealand; and as the sun set, we had a
farewell view of the mountains of Tahiti — the island to which
every voyager has offered up his tribute of admiration.

December 19th. — In the evening we saw in the distance
New Zealand.  We may now consider that we have nearly
crossed the Pacific.  It is necessary to sail over this great
ocean to comprehend its immensity.  Moving quickly onwards
for weeks together, we meet with nothing but the
same blue, profoundly deep, ocean.  Even within the
archipelagoes, the islands are mere specks, and far distant one
from the other.  Accustomed to look at maps drawn on a
small scale, where dots, shading, and names are crowded
together, we do not rightly judge how infinitely small the
proportion of dry land is to water of this vast expanse.
The meridian of the Antipodes has likewise been passed; and
now every league, it made us happy to think, was one league
nearer to England.  These Antipodes call to one's mind old
recollections of childish doubt and wonder.  Only the other
day I looked forward to this airy barrier as a definite point
in our voyage homewards; but now I find it, and all such
resting-places for the imagination, are like shadows, which
a man moving onwards cannot catch.  A gale of wind lasting
for some days, has lately given us full leisure to measure
the future stages in our homeward voyage, and to wish
most earnestly for its termination.

December 21st. —  Early in the morning we entered the Bay
of Islands, and being becalmed for some hours near the
mouth, we did not reach the anchorage till the middle of the
day.  The country is hilly, with a smooth outline, and is
deeply intersected by numerous arms of the sea extending
from the bay.  The surface appears from a distance as if
clothed with coarse pasture, but this in truth is nothing but
fern.  On the more distant hills, as well as in parts of the
valleys, there is a good deal of woodland.  The general tint
of the landscape is not a bright green; and it resembles the
country a short distance to the south of Concepcion in Chile.
In several parts of the bay, little villages of square tidy
looking houses are scattered close down to the water's edge.
Three whaling-ships were lying at anchor, and a canoe every
now and then crossed from shore to shore; with these
exceptions, an air of extreme quietness reigned over the
whole district.  Only a single canoe came alongside.  This,
and the aspect of the whole scene, afforded a remarkable,
and not very pleasing contrast, with our joyful and boisterous
welcome at Tahiti.

In the afternoon we went on shore to one of the larger
groups of houses, which yet hardly deserves the title of a
village.  Its name is Pahia: it is the residence of the
missionaries; and there are no native residents except servants
and labourers.  In the vicinity of the Bay of Islands, the
number of Englishmen, including their families, amounts to
between two and three hundred.  All the cottages, many of
which are white-washed and look very neat, are the property
of the English.  The hovels of the natives are so diminutive
and paltry, that they can scarcely be perceived from a distance.
At Pahia, it was quite pleasing to behold the English
flowers in the gardens before the houses; there were
roses of several kinds, honeysuckle, jasmine, stocks, and
whole hedges of sweetbrier.

December 22nd. — In the morning I went out walking; but
I soon found that the country was very impracticable.  All
the hills are thickly covered with tall fern, together with
a low bush which grows like a cypress; and very little
ground has been cleared or cultivated.  I then tried the
sea-beach; but proceeding towards either hand, my walk
was soon stopped by salt-water creeks and deep brooks.  The
communication between the inhabitants of the different
parts of the bay, is (as in Chiloe) almost entirely kept up
by boats.  I was surprised to find that almost every hill which
I ascended, had been at some former time more or less
fortified.  The summits were cut into steps or successive
terraces, and frequently they had been protected by deep
trenches.  I afterwards observed that the principal hills inland
in like manner showed an artificial outline.  These are
the Pas, so frequently mentioned by Captain Cook under the
name of "hippah;" the difference of sound being owing to
the prefixed article.

That the Pas had formerly been much used, was evident
from the piles of shells, and the pits in which, as I was
informed, sweet potatoes used to be kept as a reserve.  As
there was no water on these hills, the defenders could never
have anticipated a long siege, but only a hurried attack for
plunder, against which the successive terraces would have
afforded good protection.  The general introduction of firearms
has changed the whole system of warfare; and an exposed
situation on the top of a hill is now worse than useless.
The Pas in consequence are, at the present day, always built
on a level piece of ground.  They consist of a double stockade
of thick and tall posts, placed in a zigzag line, so that every
part can be flanked.  Within the stockade a mound of earth is
thrown up, behind which the defenders can rest in safety, or
use their fire-arms over it.  On the level of the ground
little archways sometimes pass through this breastwork,
by which means the defenders can crawl out to the stockade
and reconnoitre their enemies.  The Rev. W. Williams, who
gave me this account, added, that in one Pas he had noticed
spurs or buttresses projecting on the inner and protected
side of the mound of earth.  On asking the chief the use
of them, he replied, that if two or three of his men were
shot, their neighbours would not see the bodies, and so be
discouraged.

These Pas are considered by the New Zealanders as very
perfect means of defence: for the attacking force is never
so well disciplined as to rush in a body to the stockade, cut
it down, and effect their entry.  When a tribe goes to war,
the chief cannot order one party to go here and another
there; but every man fights in the manner which best pleases
himself; and to each separate individual to approach a stockade
defended by fire-arms must appear certain death.  I
should think a more warlike race of inhabitants could not
be found in any part of the world than the New Zealanders.
Their conduct on first seeing a ship, as described by Captain
Cook, strongly illustrates this: the act of throwing volleys
of stones at so great and novel an object, and their defiance
of "Come on shore and we will kill and eat you all," shows
uncommon boldness.  This warlike spirit is evident in many
of their customs, and even in their smallest actions.  If a
New Zealander is struck, although but in joke, the blow
must be returned and of this I saw an instance with one
of our officers.

At the present day, from the progress of civilization, there
is much less warfare, except among some of the southern
tribes.  I heard a characteristic anecdote of what took place
some time ago in the south.  A missionary found a chief and
his tribe in preparation for war; — their muskets clean and
bright, and their ammunition ready.  He reasoned long on
the inutility of the war, and the little provocation which
had been given for it.  The chief was much shaken in his
resolution, and seemed in doubt: but at length it occurred
to him that a barrel of his gunpowder was in a bad state, and
that it would not keep much longer.  This was brought forward
as an unanswerable argument for the necessity of immediately
declaring war: the idea of allowing so much good
gunpowder to spoil was not to be thought of; and this settled
the point.  I was told by the missionaries that in the
life of Shongi, the chief who visited England, the love of
war was the one and lasting spring of every action.  The
tribe in which he was a principal chief had at one time been
oppressed by another tribe from the Thames River.  A
solemn oath was taken by the men that when their boys
should grow up, and they should be powerful enough, they
would never forget or forgive these injuries.  To fulfil this
oath appears to have been Shongi's chief motive for going
to England; and when there it was his sole object.  Presents
were valued only as they could be converted into arms;
of the arts, those alone interested him which were connected
with the manufacture of arms.  When at Sydney, Shongi,
by a strange coincidence, met the hostile chief of the Thames
River at the house of Mr. Marsden: their conduct was civil
to each other; but Shongi told him that when again in New
Zealand he would never cease to carry war into his country.
The challenge was accepted; and Shongi on his return fulfilled
the threat to the utmost letter.  The tribe on the
Thames River was utterly overthrown, and the chief to
whom the challenge had been given was himself killed.
Shongi, although harbouring such deep feelings of hatred
and revenge, is described as having been a good-natured
person.

In the evening I went with Captain Fitz Roy and Mr.
Baker, one of the missionaries, to pay a visit to Kororadika:
we wandered about the village, and saw and conversed with
many of the people, both men, women, and children.  Looking
at the New Zealander, one naturally compares him with
the Tahitian; both belonging to the same family of mankind.
The comparison, however, tells heavily against the New
Zealander.  He may, perhaps be superior in energy, but
in every other respect his character is of a much lower
order.  One glance at their respective expressions, brings
conviction to the mind that one is a savage, the other a
civilized man.  It would be vain to seek in the whole of
New Zealand a person with the face and mien of the old
Tahitian chief Utamme.  No doubt the extraordinary manner
in which tattooing is here practised, gives a disagreeable
expression to their countenances.  The complicated but
symmetrical figures covering the whole face, puzzle and mislead
an unaccustomed eye: it is moreover probable, that the deep
incisions, by destroying the play of the superficial muscles,
give an air of rigid inflexibility.  But, besides this, there is
a twinkling in the eye, which cannot indicate anything but
cunning and ferocity.  Their figures are tall and bulky; but
not comparable in elegance with those of the working-
classes in Tahiti.

But their persons and houses are filthily dirty and offensive:
the idea of washing either their bodies or their clothes
never seems to enter their heads.  I saw a chief, who was
wearing a shirt black and matted with filth, and when asked
how it came to be so dirty, he replied, with surprise, "Do
not you see it is an old one?" Some of the men have shirts;
but the common dress is one or two large blankets, generally
black with dirt, which are thrown over their shoulders in a
very inconvenient and awkward fashion.  A few of the principal
chiefs have decent suits of English clothes; but these
are only worn on great occasions.

December 23rd. — At a place called Waimate, about fifteen
miles from the Bay of Islands, and midway between the
eastern and western coasts, the missionaries have purchased
some land for agricultural purposes.  I had been introduced
to the Rev. W. Williams, who, upon my expressing a wish,
invited me to pay him a visit there.  Mr. Bushby, the British
resident, offered to take me in his boat by a creek, where I
should see a pretty waterfall, and by which means my
walk would be shortened.  He likewise procured for me a
guide.

Upon asking a neighbouring chief to recommend a man, the
chief himself offered to go; but his ignorance of the value
of money was so complete, that at first he asked how many
pounds I would give him, but afterwards was well contented
with two dollars.  When I showed the chief a very small
bundle, which I wanted carried, it became absolutely necessary
for him to take a slave.  These feelings of pride are
beginning to wear away; but formerly a leading man would
sooner have died, than undergone the indignity of carrying
the smallest burden.  My companion was a light active man,
dressed in a dirty blanket, and with his face completely
tattooed.  He had formerly been a great warrior.  He appeared
to be on very cordial terms with Mr. Bushby; but at
various times they had quarrelled violently.  Mr. Bushby
remarked that a little quiet irony would frequently silence
any one of these natives in their most blustering moments.
This chief has come and harangued Mr. Bushby in a hectoring
manner, saying, "great chief, a great man, a friend
of mine, has come to pay me a visit — you must give him
something good to eat, some fine presents, etc." Mr. Bushby
has allowed him to finish his discourse, and then has quietly
replied by some answer such as, "What else shall your slave
do for you?" The man would then instantly, with a very
comical expression, cease his braggadocio.

Some time ago, Mr. Bushby suffered a far more serious
attack.  A chief and a party of men tried to break into his
house in the middle of the night, and not finding this so easy,
commenced a brisk firing with their muskets.  Mr. Bushby
was slightly wounded, but the party was at length driven
away.  Shortly afterwards it was discovered who was the
aggressor; and a general meeting of the chiefs was convened
to consider the case.  It was considered by the New Zealanders
as very atrocious, inasmuch as it was a night attack, and
that Mrs. Bushby was lying ill in the house: this latter
circumstance, much to their honour, being considered in all
cases as a protection.  The chiefs agreed to confiscate the
land of the aggressor to the King of England.  The whole
proceeding, however, in thus trying and punishing a chief
was entirely without precedent.  The aggressor, moreover,
lost caste in the estimation of his equals and this was
considered by the British as of more consequence than the
confiscation of his land.

As the boat was shoving off, a second chief stepped into
her, who only wanted the amusement of the passage up and
down the creek.  I never saw a more horrid and ferocious
expression than this man had.  It immediately struck me
I had somewhere seen his likeness: it will be found in
Retzch's outlines to Schiller's ballad of Fridolin, where two
men are pushing Robert into the burning iron furnace.  It
is the man who has his arm on Robert's breast.  Physiognomy
here spoke the truth; this chief had been a notorious
murderer, and was an arrant coward to boot.  At the point
where the boat landed, Mr. Bushby accompanied me a few
hundred yards on the road: I could not help admiring the
cool impudence of the hoary old villain, whom we left lying
in the boat, when he shouted to Mr. Bushby, "Do not you
stay long, I shall be tired of waiting here."

We now commenced our walk.  The road lay along a
well beaten path, bordered on each side by the tall fern,
which covers the whole country.  After travelling some
miles, we came to a little country village, where a few hovels
were collected together, and some patches of ground cultivated
with potatoes.  The introduction of the potato has
been the most essential benefit to the island; it is now much
more used than any native vegetable.  New Zealand is
favoured by one great natural advantage; namely, that the
inhabitants can never perish from famine.  The whole
country abounds with fern: and the roots of this plant, if
not very palatable, yet contain much nutriment.  A native
can always subsist on these, and on the shell-fish, which are
abundant on all parts of the sea-coast.  The villages are
chiefly conspicuous by the platforms which are raised on
four posts ten or twelve feet above the ground, and on
which the produce of the fields is kept secure from all
accidents.

On coming near one of the huts I was much amused by
seeing in due form the ceremony of rubbing, or, as it ought
to be called, pressing noses.  The women, on our first approach,
began uttering something in a most dolorous voice;
they then squatted themselves down and held up their faces;
my companion standing over them, one after another, placed
the bridge of his nose at right angles to theirs, and commenced
pressing.  This lasted rather longer than a cordial
shake of the hand with us, and as we vary the force of the
grasp of the hand in shaking, so do they in pressing.  During
the process they uttered comfortable little grunts, very
much in the same manner as two pigs do, when rubbing
against each other.  I noticed that the slave would press
noses with any one he met, indifferently either before or
after his master the chief.  Although among the savages, the
chief has absolute power of life and death over his slave,
yet there is an entire absence of ceremony between them.
Mr. Burchell has remarked the same thing in Southern Africa,
with the rude Bachapins.  Where civilization has
arrived at a certain point, complex formalities soon arise
between the different grades of society: thus at Tahiti all
were formerly obliged to uncover themselves as low as the
waist in presence of the king.

The ceremony of pressing noses having been duly completed
with all present, we seated ourselves in a circle in the
front of one of the-hovels, and rested there half-an-hour.
All the hovels have nearly the same form and dimensions,
and all agree in being filthily dirty.  They resemble a cow-
shed with one end open, but having a partition a little way
within, with a square hole in it, making a small gloomy
chamber.  In this the inhabitants keep all their property,
and when the weather is cold they sleep there.  They eat,
however, and pass their time in the open part in front.  My
guides having finished their pipes, we continued our walk.
The path led through the same undulating country, the whole
uniformly clothed as before with fern.  On our right hand
we had a serpentine river, the banks of which were fringed
with trees, and here and there on the hill sides there was a
clump of wood.  The whole scene, in spite of its green colour,
had rather a desolate aspect.  The sight of so much fern
impresses the mind with an idea of sterility: this, however,
is not correct; for wherever the fern grows thick and breast-
high, the land by tillage becomes productive.  Some of the
residents think that all this extensive open country originally
was covered with forests, and that it has been cleared by fire.
It is said, that by digging in the barest spots, lumps of the
kind of resin which flows from the kauri pine are frequently
found.  The natives had an evident motive in clearing the
country; for the fern, formerly a staple article of food,
flourishes only in the open cleared tracks.  The almost entire
absence of associated grasses, which forms so remarkable a
feature in the vegetation of this island, may perhaps be
accounted for by the land having been aboriginally covered
with forest-trees.

The soil is volcanic; in several parts we passed over
shaggy lavas, and craters could clearly be distinguished on
several of the neighbouring hills.  Although the scenery is
nowhere beautiful, and only occasionally pretty, I enjoyed
my walk.  I should have enjoyed it more, if my companion,
the chief, had not possessed extraordinary conversational
powers.  I knew only three words: "good," "bad," and
"yes:" and with these I answered all his remarks, without
of course having understood one word he said.  This, however,
was quite sufficient: I was a good listener, an agreeable
person, and he never ceased talking to me.

At length we reached Waimate.  After having passed over
so many miles of an uninhabited useless country, the sudden
appearance of an English farm-house, and its well-dressed
fields, placed there as if by an enchanter's wand, was
exceedingly pleasant.  Mr. Williams not being at home, I received
in Mr. Davies's house a cordial welcome.  After drinking tea
with his family party, we took a stroll about the farm.  At
Waimate there are three large houses, where the missionary
gentlemen, Messrs. Williams, Davies, and Clarke, reside;
and near them are the huts of the native labourers.  On an
adjoining slope, fine crops of barley and wheat were standing
in full ear; and in another part, fields of potatoes and clover.
But I cannot attempt to describe all I saw; there were large
gardens, with every fruit and vegetable which England produces;
and many belonging to a warmer clime.  I may instance
asparagus, kidney beans, cucumbers, rhubarb, apples,
pears, figs, peaches, apricots, grapes, olives, gooseberries,
currants, hops, gorse for fences, and English oaks; also many
kinds of flowers.  Around the farm-yard there were stables,
a thrashing-barn with its winnowing machine, a blacksmith's
forge, and on the ground ploughshares and other tools: in
the middle was that happy mixture of pigs and poultry, lying
comfortably together, as in every English farm-yard.  At the
distance of a few hundred yards, where the water of a little
rill had been dammed up into a pool, there was a large and
substantial water-mill.

All this is very surprising, when it is considered that five
years ago nothing but the fern flourished here.  Moreover,
native workmanship, taught by the missionaries, has effected
this change; — the lesson of the missionary is the enchanter's
wand.  The house had been built, the windows framed, the
fields ploughed, and even the trees grafted, by a New Zealander.
At the mill, a New Zealander was seen powdered
white with flower, like his brother miller in England.  When
I looked at this whole scene, I thought it admirable.  It was
not merely that England was brought vividly before my
mind; yet, as the evening drew to a close, the domestic
sounds, the fields of corn, the distant undulating country
with its trees might well have been mistaken for our fatherland:
nor was it the triumphant feeling at seeing what Englishmen
could effect; but rather the high hopes thus inspired
for the future progress of this fine island.


Several young men, redeemed by the missionaries from
slavery, were employed on the farm.  They were dressed in
a shirt, jacket, and trousers, and had a respectable appearance.
Judging from one trifling anecdote, I should think
they must be honest.  When walking in the fields, a young
labourer came up to Mr. Davies, and gave him a knife and
gimlet, saying that he had found them on the road, and did
not know to whom they belonged!  These young men and
boys appeared very merry and good-humoured.  In the evening
I saw a party of them at cricket: when I thought of the
austerity of which the missionaries have been accused, I was
amused by observing one of their own sons taking an active
part in the game.  A more decided and pleasing change was
manifested in the young women, who acted as servants within
the houses.  Their clean, tidy, and healthy appearance, like
that of the dairy-maids in England, formed a wonderful
contrast with the women of the filthy hovels in Kororadika.
The wives of the missionaries tried to persuade them not to
be tattooed; but a famous operator having arrived from the
south, they said, "We really must just have a few lines on
our lips; else when we grow old, our lips will shrivel, and we
shall be so very ugly." There is not nearly so much tattooing
as formerly; but as it is a badge of distinction between the
chief and the slave, it will probably long be practised.  So
soon does any train of ideas become habitual, that the
missionaries told me that even in their eyes a plain face looked
mean, and not like that of a New Zealand gentleman.

Late in the evening I went to Mr. Williams's house, where
I passed the night.  I found there a large party of children,
collected together for Christmas Day, and all sitting round
a table at tea.  I never saw a nicer or more merry group; and
to think that this was in the centre of the land of cannibalism,
murder, and all atrocious crimes!  The cordiality and
happiness so plainly pictured in the faces of the little circle,
appeared equally felt by the older persons of the mission.

December 24th. — In the morning, prayers were read in
the native tongue to the whole family.  After breakfast I
rambled about the gardens and farm.  This was a market-
day, when the natives of the surrounding hamlets bring their
potatoes, Indian corn, or pigs, to exchange for blankets,
tobacco, and sometimes, through the persuasions of the
missionaries, for soap.  Mr. Davies's eldest son, who manages a
farm of his own, is the man of business in the market.  The
children of the missionaries, who came while young to the
island, understand the language better than their parents,
and can get anything more readily done by the natives.

A little before noon Messrs. Williams and Davies walked
with me to a part of a neighbouring forest, to show me the
famous kauri pine.  I measured one of the noble trees, and
found it thirty-one feet in circumference above the roots.
There was another close by, which I did not see, thirty-three
feet; and I heard of one no less than forty feet.  These trees
are remarkable for their smooth cylindrical boles, which run
up to a height of sixty, and even ninety feet, with a nearly
equal diameter, and without a single branch.  The crown
of branches at the summit is out of all proportion small to
the trunk; and the leaves are likewise small compared with
the branches.  The forest was here almost composed of the
kauri; and the largest trees, from the parallelism of their
sides, stood up like gigantic columns of wood.  The timber
of the kauri is the most valuable production of the island;
moreover, a quantity of resin oozes from the bark, which is
sold at a penny a pound to the Americans, but its use was
then unknown.  Some of the New Zealand forest must be
impenetrable to an extraordinary degree.  Mr. Matthews
informed me that one forest only thirty-four miles in width,
and separating two inhabited districts, had only lately, for
the first time, been crossed.  He and another missionary,
each with a party of about fifty men, undertook to open a
road, but it cost more than a fortnight's labour!  In
the woods I saw very few birds.  With regard to animals,
it is a most remarkable fact, that so large an island, extending
over more than 700 miles in latitude, and in many parts
ninety broad, with varied stations, a fine climate, and land
of all heights, from 14,000 feet downwards, with the exception
of a small rat, did not possess one indigenous animal.
The several species of that gigantic genus of birds, the
Deinornis seem here to have replaced mammiferous quadrupeds,
in the same manner as the reptiles still do at the Galapagos
archipelago.  It is said that the common Norway rat, in
the short space of two years, annihilated in this northern
end of the island, the New Zealand species.  In many places
I noticed several sorts of weeds, which, like the rats, I was
forced to own as countrymen.  A leek has overrun whole
districts, and will prove very troublesome, but it was imported
as a favour by a French vessel.  The common dock
is also widely disseminated, and will, I fear, for ever remain
a proof of the rascality of an Englishman, who sold the seeds
for those of the tobacco plant.

On returning from our pleasant walk to the house, I dined
with Mr. Williams; and then, a horse being lent me, I returned
to the Bay of Islands.  I took leave of the missionaries
with thankfulness for their kind welcome, and with feelings
of high respect for their gentlemanlike, useful, and
upright characters.  I think it would be difficult to find
a body of men better adapted for the high office which
they fulfil.

Christmas Day. — In a few more days the fourth year of
our absence from England will be completed.  Our first
Christmas Day was spent at Plymouth, the second at St.
Martin's Cove, near Cape Horn; the third at Port Desire,
in Patagonia; the fourth at anchor in a wild harbour in the
peninsula of Tres Montes, this fifth here, and the next, I
trust in Providence, will be in England.  We attended divine
service in the chapel of Pahia; part of the service being
read in English, and part in the native language.  Whilst at
New Zealand we did not hear of any recent acts of cannibalism;
but Mr. Stokes found burnt human bones strewed
round a fire-place on a small island near the anchorage; but
these remains of a comfortable banquet might have been
lying there for several years.  It is probable that the moral
state of the people will rapidly improve.  Mr. Bushby mentioned
one pleasing anecdote as a proof of the sincerity of
some, at least, of those who profess Christianity.  One of
his young men left him, who had been accustomed to read
prayers to the rest of the servants.  Some weeks afterwards,
happening to pass late in the evening by an outhouse, he saw
and heard one of his men reading the Bible with difficulty
by the light of the fire, to the others.  After this the party
knelt and prayed: in their prayers they mentioned Mr.
Bushby and his family, and the missionaries, each separately
in his respective district.

December 26th. — Mr. Bushby offered to take Mr. Sulivan
and myself in his boat some miles up the river to Cawa-
Cawa, and proposed afterwards to walk on to the village of
Waiomio, where there are some curious rocks.  Following
one of the arms of the bay, we enjoyed a pleasant row, and
passed through pretty scenery, until we came to a village,
beyond which the boat could not pass.  From this place a
chief and a party of men volunteered to walk with us to
Waiomio, a distance of four miles.  The chief was at this
time rather notorious from having lately hung one of his
wives and a slave for adultery.  When one of the missionaries
remonstrated with him he seemed surprised, and said
he thought he was exactly following the English method.
Old Shongi, who happened to be in England during the
Queen's trial, expressed great disapprobation at the whole
proceeding: he said he had five wives, and he would rather
cut off all their heads than be so much troubled about one.
Leaving this village, we crossed over to another, seated on
a hill-side at a little distance.  The daughter of a chief, who
was still a heathen, had died there five days before.  The
hovel in which she had expired had been burnt to the ground:
her body being enclosed between two small canoes, was
placed upright on the ground, and protected by an enclosure
bearing wooden images of their gods, and the whole was
painted bright red, so as to be conspicuous from afar.  Her
gown was fastened to the coffin, and her hair being cut off
was cast at its foot.  The relatives of the family had torn
the flesh of their arms, bodies, and faces, so that they were
covered with clotted blood; and the old women looked most
filthy, disgusting objects.  On the following day some of the
officers visited this place, and found the women still howling
and cutting themselves.

We continued our walk, and soon reached Waiomio.  Here
there are some singular masses of limestone, resembling
ruined castles.  These rocks have long served for burial
places, and in consequence are held too sacred to be approached.
One of the young men, however, cried out, "Let
us all be brave," and ran on ahead; but when within a hundred
yards, the whole party thought better of it, and stopped
short.  With perfect indifference, however, they allowed us
to examine the whole place.  At this village we rested some
hours, during which time there was a long discussion with
Mr. Bushby, concerning the right of sale of certain lands.
One old man, who appeared a perfect genealogist, illustrated
the successive possessors by bits of stick driven into the
ground.  Before leaving the houses a little basketful of
roasted sweet potatoes was given to each of our party; and
we all, according to the custom, carried them away to eat
on the road.  I noticed that among the women employed in
cooking, there was a man-slave: it must be a humiliating
thing for a man in this warlike country to be employed in
doing that which is considered as the lowest woman's work.
Slaves are not allowed to go to war; but this perhaps can
hardly be considered as a hardship.  I heard of one poor
wretch who, during hostilities, ran away to the opposite
party; being met by two men, he was immediately seized;
but as they could not agree to whom he should belong, each
stood over him with a stone hatchet, and seemed determined
that the other at least should not take him away alive.  The
poor man, almost dead with fright, was only saved by the
address of a chief's wife.  We afterwards enjoyed a pleasant
walk back to the boat, but did not reach the ship till late in
the evening.

December 30th. — In the afternoon we stood out of the
Bay of Islands, on our course to Sydney.  I believe we were
all glad to leave New Zealand.  It is not a pleasant place.
Amongst the natives there is absent that charming simplicity
which is found in Tahiti; and the greater part of the English
are the very refuse of society.  Neither is the country itself
attractive.  I look back but to one bright spot, and that is
Waimate, with its Christian inhabitants.



CHAPTER XIX

AUSTRALIA

Sydney — Excursion to Bathurst — Aspect of the Woods — Party
of Natives — Gradual Extinction of the Aborigines — Infection
generated by associated Men in health — Blue Mountains — View
of the grand gulf-like Valleys — Their origin and formation —
Bathurst, general civility of the Lower Orders — State of
Society — Van Diemen's Land — Hobart Town — Aborigines all
banished — Mount Wellington  — King George's Sound —
Cheerless Aspect of the Country — Bald Head, calcareous casts
of branches of Trees — Party of Natives — Leave Australia.


JANUARY 12th, 1836. — Early in the morning a light air
carried us towards the entrance of Port Jackson.  Instead
of beholding a verdant country, interspersed with
fine houses, a straight line of yellowish cliff brought to our
minds the coast of Patagonia.  A solitary lighthouse, built of
white stone, alone told us that we were near a great and
populous city.  Having entered the harbour, it appears fine
and spacious, with cliff-formed shores of horizontally
stratified sandstone.  The nearly level country is covered with
thin scrubby trees, bespeaking the curse of sterility.
Proceeding further inland, the country improves: beautiful
villas and nice cottages are here and there scattered along the
beach.  In the distance stone houses, two and three stories high,
and windmills standing on the edge of a bank, pointed out to us
the neighbourhood of the capital of Australia.

At last we anchored within Sydney Cove.  We found the
little basin occupied by many large ships, and surrounded by
warehouses.  In the evening I walked through the town, and
returned full of admiration at the whole scene.  It is a most
magnificent testimony to the power of the British nation.
Here, in a less promising country, scores of years have done
many more times more than an equal number of centuries
have effected in South America.  My first feeling was to
congratulate myself that I was born an Englishman.  Upon
seeing more of the town afterwards, perhaps my admiration
fell a little; but yet it is a fine town.  The streets are
regular, broad, clean, and kept in excellent order; the houses
are of a good size, and the shops well furnished.  It may be
faithfully compared to the large suburbs which stretch out from
London and a few other great towns in England; but not even near
London or Birmingham is there an appearance of such rapid
growth.  The number of large houses and other buildings just
finished was truly surprising; nevertheless, every one
complained of the high rents and difficulty in procuring a
house.  Coming from South America, where in the towns every man
of property is known, no one thing surprised me more than
not being able to ascertain at once to whom this or that
carriage belonged.

I hired a man and two horses to take me to Bathurst, a
village about one hundred and twenty miles in the interior,
and the centre of a great pastoral district.  By this means I
hoped to gain a general idea of the appearance of the country.
On the morning of the 16th (January) I set out on my excursion.
The first stage took us to Paramatta, a small country
town, next to Sydney in importance.  The roads were excellent,
and made upon the MacAdam principle, whinstone having
been brought for the purpose from the distance of several
miles.  In all respects there was a close resemblance to England:
perhaps the alehouses here were more numerous.  The iron gangs,
or parties of convicts who have committed here some offense,
appeared the least like England: they were working in chains,
under the charge of sentries with loaded arms.

The power which the government possesses, by means
of forced labour, of at once opening good roads throughout
the country, has been, I believe, one main cause of the early
prosperity of this colony.  I slept at night at a very
comfortable inn at Emu ferry, thirty-five miles from Sydney,
and near the ascent of the Blue Mountains.  This line of
road is the most frequented, and has been the longest inhabited
of any in the colony.  The whole land is enclosed
with high railings, for the farmers have not succeeded in
rearing hedges.  There are many substantial houses and good
cottages scattered about; but although considerable pieces of
land are under cultivation, the greater part yet remains as
when first discovered.

The extreme uniformity of the vegetation is the most
remarkable feature in the landscape of the greater part of
New South Wales.  Everywhere we have an open woodland,
the ground being partially covered with a very thin pasture,
with little appearance of verdure.  The trees nearly all
belong to one family, and mostly have their leaves placed in
a vertical, instead of as in Europe, in a nearly horizontal
position: the foliage is scanty, and of a peculiar pale green
tint, without any gloss.  Hence the woods appear light and
shadowless: this, although a loss of comfort to the traveller
under the scorching rays of summer, is of importance to the
farmer, as it allows grass to grow where it otherwise would
not.  The leaves are not shed periodically: this character
appears common to the entire southern hemisphere, namely,
South America, Australia, and the Cape of Good Hope.  The
inhabitants of this hemisphere, and of the intertropical
regions, thus lose perhaps one of the most glorious, though
to our eyes common, spectacles in the world — the first
bursting into full foliage of the leafless tree.  They may,
however, say that we pay dearly for this by having the land
covered with mere naked skeletons for so many months.  This is
too true but our senses thus acquire a keen relish for the
exquisite green of the spring, which the eyes of those living
within the tropics, sated during the long year with the gorgeous
productions of those glowing climates, can never experience.
The greater number of the trees, with the exception
of some of the Blue-gums, do not attain a large size;
but they grow tall and tolerably straight, and stand well
apart.  The bark of some of the Eucalypti falls annually, or
hangs dead in long shreds which swing about with the wind,
and give to the woods a desolate and untidy appearance.  I
cannot imagine a more complete contrast, in every respect,
than between the forests of Valdivia or Chiloe, and the
woods of Australia.

At sunset, a party of a score of the black aborigines passed
by, each carrying, in their accustomed manner, a bundle of
spears and other weapons.  By giving a leading young man a
shilling, they were easily detained, and threw their spears for
my amusement.  They were all partly clothed, and several
could speak a little English: their countenances were good-
humoured and pleasant, and they appeared far from being
such utterly degraded beings as they have usually been
represented.  In their own arts they are admirable.  A cap being
fixed at thirty yards distance, they transfixed it with a spear,
delivered by the throwing-stick with the rapidity of an arrow
from the bow of a practised archer.  In tracking animals or
men they show most wonderful sagacity; and I heard of several
of their remarks which manifested considerable acuteness.
They will not, however, cultivate the ground, or build
houses and remain stationary, or even take the trouble of
tending a flock of sheep when given to them.  On the whole
they appear to me to stand some few degrees higher in the
scale of civilization than the Fuegians.

It is very curious thus to see in the midst of a civilized
people, a set of harmless savages wandering about without
knowing where they shall sleep at night, and gaining their
livelihood by hunting in the woods.  As the white man has
travelled onwards, he has spread over the country belonging
to several tribes.  These, although thus enclosed by one common
people, keep up their ancient distinctions, and sometimes
go to war with each other.  In an engagement which
took place lately, the two parties most singularly chose the
centre of the village of Bathurst for the field of battle.  This
was of service to the defeated side, for the runaway warriors
took refuge in the barracks.

The number of aborigines is rapidly decreasing.  In my
whole ride, with the exception of some boys brought up by
Englishmen, I saw only one other party.  This decrease, no
doubt, must be partly owing to the introduction of spirits, to
European diseases (even the milder ones of which, such as
the measles, [1] prove very destructive), and to the gradual
extinction of the wild animals.  It is said that numbers of
their children invariably perish in very early infancy from
the effects of their wandering life; and as the difficulty of
procuring food increases, so must their wandering habits
increase; and hence the population, without any apparent
deaths from famine, is repressed in a manner extremely
sudden compared to what happens in civilized countries,
where the father, though in adding to his labour he may injure
himself, does not destroy his offspring.

Besides the several evident causes of destruction, there
appears to be some more mysterious agency generally at
work.  Wherever the European has trod, death seems to pursue
the aboriginal.  We may look to the wide extent of the
Americas, Polynesia, the Cape of Good Hope, and Australia,
and we find the same result.  Nor is it the white man alone
that thus acts the destroyer; the Polynesian of Malay extraction
has in parts of the East Indian archipelago, thus driven
before him the dark-coloured native.  The varieties of man
seem to act on each other in the same way as different species
of animals — the stronger always extirpating the weaker.  It
was melancholy at New Zealand to hear the fine energetic
natives saying that they knew the land was doomed to pass
from their children.  Every one has heard of the inexplicable
reduction of the population in the beautiful and healthy island
of Tahiti since the date of Captain Cook's voyages: although
in that case we might have expected that it would have been
increased; for infanticide, which formerly prevailed to so
extraordinary a degree, has ceased; profligacy has greatly
diminished, and the murderous wars become less frequent.

The Rev. J. Williams, in his interesting work, [2] says, that
the first intercourse between natives and Europeans, "is
invariably attended with the introduction of fever, dysentery,
or some other disease, which c