The Voyage Of The Beagle

Chapter X

 

(PLATE 44. YORK MINSTER (BEARING SOUTH 66 DEGREES EAST.)

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.

TIERRA DEL FUEGO.

DECEMBER 17, 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 Staten-land 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
civilised 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 recognised. 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 civilised?

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 firearms;
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 smallpox, 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
ourang-outang 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 daresay 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 20, 1832.

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 snow-storm,
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 21, 1832.

(PLATE 45. CAPE HORN.)

(PLATE 46. CAPE HORN (ANOTHER VIEW).)

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 25, 1832.

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 weight. 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 past, yet every day
snow fell on the hills, and in the valleys there was rain,
accompanied by sleet. The thermometer generally stood about 45
degrees, but in the night fell to 38 or 40 degrees. 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 oneself 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 whales-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 were 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, for 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.

(PLATE 47. BAD WEATHER, MAGELLAN STRAITS.)

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 degrees 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 at 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 lookout 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!

(PLATE 48. FUEGIAN BASKET AND BONE WEAPONS.)

(PLATE 49. FALSE HORN, CAPE HORN.)

JANUARY 15, 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 Loch Ness 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.

JANUARY 19, 1833.

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 woefully 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
firearms. 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.

JANUARY 22, 1833.

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 driftweed 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
farther 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, and red, they looked like so many demoniacs who had been
fighting. (10/1. This substance, when dry, is tolerably compact,
and of little specific gravity: Professor Ehrenberg has examined
it: he states “Konig Akad. der Wissen” Berlin February 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 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.) 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
had 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 farther 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 spouting in
different directions. (10/2. 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.) 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 29, 1833.

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 firearms. 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 6, 1833.

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 civilised 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 halloo 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 phénomènes.”

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, 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. (10/3. 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 Fuegia Basket. She lived (I fear the term probably bears a
double interpretation) some days on board.)

Jemmy went to sleep on shore, and in the morning returned, and
remained on board till the ship got under weigh, 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 civilisation. 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 civilised 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.

Comments are closed.