The Descent Of Man

The Descent Of Man
Read Charles Darwin’s The Descent Of Man free online! Click on any of the links on the right menubar to browse through The Descent Of Man.

Charles Darwin was born in  Shrewsbury, Shropshire, on 12th February 1809. His father was a doctor and a financer and mother was a homemaker. He was from a wealthy and influential family of England.

He started his education in medicine from Edinburg university but he later changed his field of study from medicine to divinity.at Christ college Cambridge University.  But here also he was not getting interested in studies. He used to spend a lot of time examining nature science and beetle collection. Seeing his interest in natural science he was offered a position of natural scientist in HMS Beagle on a voyage to the coast of South America. On the voyage, he became interested in the finch and had a kept a curious eye how in each island their character changes. He also observed how they are adapting to the climate and other aspects of every island.

After coming back from the voyage for the next twenty years he worked on evolution and adaption of the species on different islands.

Influenced by the work of Malthus, Darwin came up with his theory of natural selection and gradual evolution.  He continuously reworked on this theory and finally in 1859 his book “origin of species by means of natural selection” was published. The book soon became the center of attention and had got widespread popularity. His ideas are still now accepted in scientific and nonreligious society.

Darwin was brought up in a church in England and was getting trained to be a priest. But after coming back from the voyage of South America he turned himself away from the church and became doubtful about the source of history that Bible provides. However, he never considered himself an atheist.  In his autobiography, he wrote he gave up Christianity as he disagrees with the statement that nonbelievers spend eternity in hell.

On 19th April 1882, he died. He was given a state burial at Westminster Abbey. He was a great naturalist, geologist, and biologist. Click on Bitcoin Loophole to learn more about him.

 

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin
Read Charles Darwin’s The Autobiography of Charles Darwin free online! Click on any of the links on the right menubar to browse through The Autobiography of Charles Darwin.

Biological change was a long lived question left unnoticed. Charles Darwin was a real naturalist who tried to unfold the truth behind the evolution of living beings. His splendid research was a result of his hard work. He took on a five-year voyage throughout the world to get valuable insights for his research. The specimens that he collected contributed a lot to his analysis and later his scientific discovery. His extensive research was his priority.

He started breeding species to substantiate his theory. This was done to find and infer evidences to prove that species were not fixed but evolved over a period of time. He spent his research in wide varieties of plants and animals to bring a universal phenomenon. It is quite surprising to say that he had not left even the marine invertebrates. He used to dissect and examine its structure with other similar living beings n the surroundings. His comparisons with these structures and their distinctive characteristics dwelled deep on this thinking to figure out the best principles in the evolution of life on earth. On his research, he found slight variation in the body parts too were for specific reasons to fit in the locality. In some species, he found parasite like structures that could be an intermediated level in the different stages of growth bringing in different sexes.

The struggle for existence continued to hamper the living conditions for different organisms. This challenging environment created circumstances for them to evolve and flourish. Darwin’s books and literatures have been a great source of knowledge for all the generations coming next in line. Thus, it is very true to say that only a hard earned struggle will lead to historic discoveries. In the current world, we see a new digital concept flourishing on the trading arena. The Darwin’s concept of different analysis over a period of time to find certain exciting things is very closely evident in this aspect also. We have to learn the cryptocurrency market and invest on secure lines to incur profits. Bitcoin Code is a software system that can facilitate us in active trading with best brokers and algorithms in place. Start using it and experiment on the trading front with such sophisticated software systems.

 

The Descent Of Man

Chapter IV

 

COMPARISON OF THE MENTAL POWERS OF MAN AND THE LOWER ANIMALS–continued.

The moral sense–Fundamental proposition–The qualities of social animals–
Origin of sociability–Struggle between opposed instincts–Man a social
animal–The more enduring social instincts conquer other less persistent
instincts–The social virtues alone regarded by savages–The self-regarding
virtues acquired at a later stage of development–The importance of the
judgment of the members of the same community on conduct–Transmission of
moral tendencies–Summary.

I fully subscribe to the judgment of those writers (1. See, for instance,
on this subject, Quatrefages, ‘Unite de l’Espece Humaine,’ 1861, p. 21,
etc.) who maintain that of all the differences between man and the lower
animals, the moral sense or conscience is by far the most important. This
sense, as Mackintosh (2. ‘Dissertation an Ethical Philosophy,’ 1837, p.
231, etc.) remarks, “has a rightful supremacy over every other principle of
human action”; it is summed up in that short but imperious word “ought,” so
full of high significance. It is the most noble of all the attributes of
man, leading him without a moment’s hesitation to risk his life for that of
a fellow-creature; or after due deliberation, impelled simply by the deep
feeling of right or duty, to sacrifice it in some great cause. Immanuel
Kant exclaims, “Duty! Wondrous thought, that workest neither by fond
insinuation, flattery, nor by any threat, but merely by holding up thy
naked law in the soul, and so extorting for thyself always reverence, if
not always obedience; before whom all appetites are dumb, however secretly
they rebel; whence thy original?” (3. ‘Metaphysics of Ethics,’ translated
by J.W. Semple, Edinburgh, 1836, p. 136.)

This great question has been discussed by many writers (4. Mr. Bain gives
a list (‘Mental and Moral Science,’ 1868, pp. 543-725) of twenty-six
British authors who have written on this subject, and whose names are
familiar to every reader; to these, Mr. Bain’s own name, and those of Mr.
Lecky, Mr. Shadworth Hodgson, Sir J. Lubbock, and others, might be added.)
of consummate ability; and my sole excuse for touching on it, is the
impossibility of here passing it over; and because, as far as I know, no
one has approached it exclusively from the side of natural history. The
investigation possesses, also, some independent interest, as an attempt to
see how far the study of the lower animals throws light on one of the
highest psychical faculties of man.

The following proposition seems to me in a high degree probable–namely,
that any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts (5.
Sir B. Brodie, after observing that man is a social animal (‘Psychological
Enquiries,’ 1854, p. 192), asks the pregnant question, “ought not this to
settle the disputed question as to the existence of a moral sense?”
Similar ideas have probably occurred to many persons, as they did long ago
to Marcus Aurelius. Mr. J.S. Mill speaks, in his celebrated work,
‘Utilitarianism,’ (1864, pp. 45, 46), of the social feelings as a “powerful
natural sentiment,” and as “the natural basis of sentiment for utilitarian
morality.” Again he says, “Like the other acquired capacities above
referred to, the moral faculty, if not a part of our nature, is a natural
out-growth from it; capable, like them, in a certain small degree of
springing up spontaneously.” But in opposition to all this, he also
remarks, “if, as in my own belief, the moral feelings are not innate, but
acquired, they are not for that reason less natural.” It is with
hesitation that I venture to differ at all from so profound a thinker, but
it can hardly be disputed that the social feelings are instinctive or
innate in the lower animals; and why should they not be so in man? Mr.
Bain (see, for instance, ‘The Emotions and the Will,’ 1865, p. 481) and
others believe that the moral sense is acquired by each individual during
his lifetime. On the general theory of evolution this is at least
extremely improbable. The ignoring of all transmitted mental qualities
will, as it seems to me, be hereafter judged as a most serious blemish in
the works of Mr. Mill.), the parental and filial affections being here
included, would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as
its intellectual powers had become as well, or nearly as well developed, as
in man. For, FIRSTLY, the social instincts lead an animal to take pleasure
in the society of its fellows, to feel a certain amount of sympathy with
them, and to perform various services for them. The services may be of a
definite and evidently instinctive nature; or there may be only a wish and
readiness, as with most of the higher social animals, to aid their fellows
in certain general ways. But these feelings and services are by no means
extended to all the individuals of the same species, only to those of the
same association. SECONDLY, as soon as the mental faculties had become
highly developed, images of all past actions and motives would be
incessantly passing through the brain of each individual: and that feeling
of dissatisfaction, or even misery, which invariably results, as we shall
hereafter see, from any unsatisfied instinct, would arise, as often as it
was perceived that the enduring and always present social instinct had
yielded to some other instinct, at the time stronger, but neither enduring
in its nature, nor leaving behind it a very vivid impression. It is clear
that many instinctive desires, such as that of hunger, are in their nature
of short duration; and after being satisfied, are not readily or vividly
recalled. THIRDLY, after the power of language had been acquired, and the
wishes of the community could be expressed, the common opinion how each
member ought to act for the public good, would naturally become in a
paramount degree the guide to action. But it should be borne in mind that
however great weight we may attribute to public opinion, our regard for the
approbation and disapprobation of our fellows depends on sympathy, which,
as we shall see, forms an essential part of the social instinct, and is
indeed its foundation-stone. LASTLY, habit in the individual would
ultimately play a very important part in guiding the conduct of each
member; for the social instinct, together with sympathy, is, like any other
instinct, greatly strengthened by habit, and so consequently would be
obedience to the wishes and judgment of the community. These several
subordinate propositions must now be discussed, and some of them at
considerable length.

It may be well first to premise that I do not wish to maintain that any
strictly social animal, if its intellectual faculties were to become as
active and as highly developed as in man, would acquire exactly the same
moral sense as ours. In the same manner as various animals have some sense
of beauty, though they admire widely-different objects, so they might have
a sense of right and wrong, though led by it to follow widely different
lines of conduct. If, for instance, to take an extreme case, men were
reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly
be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it
a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill
their fertile daughters; and no one would think of interfering. (6. Mr.
H. Sidgwick remarks, in an able discussion on this subject (the ‘Academy,’
June 15, 1872, p. 231), “a superior bee, we may feel sure, would aspire to
a milder solution of the population question.” Judging, however, from the
habits of many or most savages, man solves the problem by female
infanticide, polyandry and promiscuous intercourse; therefore it may well
be doubted whether it would be by a milder method. Miss Cobbe, in
commenting (‘Darwinism in Morals,’ ‘Theological Review,’ April 1872, pp.
188-191) on the same illustration, says, the PRINCIPLES of social duty
would be thus reversed; and by this, I presume, she means that the
fulfilment of a social duty would tend to the injury of individuals; but
she overlooks the fact, which she would doubtless admit, that the instincts
of the bee have been acquired for the good of the community. She goes so
far as to say that if the theory of ethics advocated in this chapter were
ever generally accepted, “I cannot but believe that in the hour of their
triumph would be sounded the knell of the virtue of mankind!” It is to be
hoped that the belief in the permanence of virtue on this earth is not held
by many persons on so weak a tenure.) Nevertheless, the bee, or any other
social animal, would gain in our supposed case, as it appears to me, some
feeling of right or wrong, or a conscience. For each individual would have
an inward sense of possessing certain stronger or more enduring instincts,
and others less strong or enduring; so that there would often be a struggle
as to which impulse should be followed; and satisfaction, dissatisfaction,
or even misery would be felt, as past impressions were compared during
their incessant passage through the mind. In this case an inward monitor
would tell the animal that it would have been better to have followed the
one impulse rather than the other. The one course ought to have been
followed, and the other ought not; the one would have been right and the
other wrong; but to these terms I shall recur.

SOCIABILITY.

Animals of many kinds are social; we find even distinct species living
together; for example, some American monkeys; and united flocks of rooks,
jackdaws, and starlings. Man shews the same feeling in his strong love for
the dog, which the dog returns with interest. Every one must have noticed
how miserable horses, dogs, sheep, etc., are when separated from their
companions, and what strong mutual affection the two former kinds, at
least, shew on their reunion. It is curious to speculate on the feelings
of a dog, who will rest peacefully for hours in a room with his master or
any of the family, without the least notice being taken of him; but if left
for a short time by himself, barks or howls dismally. We will confine our
attention to the higher social animals; and pass over insects, although
some of these are social, and aid one another in many important ways. The
most common mutual service in the higher animals is to warn one another of
danger by means of the united senses of all. Every sportsman knows, as Dr.
Jaeger remarks (7. ‘Die Darwin’sche Theorie,’ s. 101.), how difficult it
is to approach animals in a herd or troop. Wild horses and cattle do not,
I believe, make any danger-signal; but the attitude of any one of them who
first discovers an enemy, warns the others. Rabbits stamp loudly on the
ground with their hind-feet as a signal: sheep and chamois do the same
with their forefeet, uttering likewise a whistle. Many birds, and some
mammals, post sentinels, which in the case of seals are said (8. Mr. R.
Brown in ‘Proc. Zoolog. Soc.’ 1868, p. 409.) generally to be the females.
The leader of a troop of monkeys acts as the sentinel, and utters cries
expressive both of danger and of safety. (9. Brehm, ‘Thierleben,’ B. i.
1864, s. 52, 79. For the case of the monkeys extracting thorns from each
other, see s. 54. With respect to the Hamadryas turning over stones, the
fact is given (s. 76), on the evidence of Alvarez, whose observations Brehm
thinks quite trustworthy. For the cases of the old male baboons attacking
the dogs, see s. 79; and with respect to the eagle, s. 56.) Social animals
perform many little services for each other: horses nibble, and cows lick
each other, on any spot which itches: monkeys search each other for
external parasites; and Brehm states that after a troop of the
Cercopithecus griseo-viridis has rushed through a thorny brake, each monkey
stretches itself on a branch, and another monkey sitting by,
“conscientiously” examines its fur, and extracts every thorn or burr.

Animals also render more important services to one another: thus wolves
and some other beasts of prey hunt in packs, and aid one another in
attacking their victims. Pelicans fish in concert. The Hamadryas baboons
turn over stones to find insects, etc.; and when they come to a large one,
as many as can stand round, turn it over together and share the booty.
Social animals mutually defend each other. Bull bisons in N. America, when
there is danger, drive the cows and calves into the middle of the herd,
whilst they defend the outside. I shall also in a future chapter give an
account of two young wild bulls at Chillingham attacking an old one in
concert, and of two stallions together trying to drive away a third
stallion from a troop of mares. In Abyssinia, Brehm encountered a great
troop of baboons who were crossing a valley: some had already ascended the
opposite mountain, and some were still in the valley; the latter were
attacked by the dogs, but the old males immediately hurried down from the
rocks, and with mouths widely opened, roared so fearfully, that the dogs
quickly drew back. They were again encouraged to the attack; but by this
time all the baboons had reascended the heights, excepting a young one,
about six months old, who, loudly calling for aid, climbed on a block of
rock, and was surrounded. Now one of the largest males, a true hero, came
down again from the mountain, slowly went to the young one, coaxed him, and
triumphantly led him away–the dogs being too much astonished to make an
attack. I cannot resist giving another scene which was witnessed by this
same naturalist; an eagle seized a young Cercopithecus, which, by clinging
to a branch, was not at once carried off; it cried loudly for assistance,
upon which the other members of the troop, with much uproar, rushed to the
rescue, surrounded the eagle, and pulled out so many feathers, that he no
longer thought of his prey, but only how to escape. This eagle, as Brehm
remarks, assuredly would never again attack a single monkey of a troop.
(10. Mr. Belt gives the case of a spider-monkey (Ateles) in Nicaragua,
which was heard screaming for nearly two hours in the forest, and was found
with an eagle perched close by it. The bird apparently feared to attack as
long as it remained face to face; and Mr. Belt believes, from what he has
seen of the habits of these monkeys, that they protect themselves from
eagles by keeping two or three together. ‘The Naturalist in Nicaragua,’
1874, p. 118.)

It is certain that associated animals have a feeling of love for each
other, which is not felt by non-social adult animals. How far in most
cases they actually sympathise in the pains and pleasures of others, is
more doubtful, especially with respect to pleasures. Mr. Buxton, however,
who had excellent means of observation (11. ‘Annals and Magazine of
Natural History,’ November 1868, p. 382.), states that his macaws, which
lived free in Norfolk, took “an extravagant interest” in a pair with a
nest; and whenever the female left it, she was surrounded by a troop
“screaming horrible acclamations in her honour.” It is often difficult to
judge whether animals have any feeling for the sufferings of others of
their kind. Who can say what cows feel, when they surround and stare
intently on a dying or dead companion; apparently, however, as Houzeau
remarks, they feel no pity. That animals sometimes are far from feeling
any sympathy is too certain; for they will expel a wounded animal from the
herd, or gore or worry it to death. This is almost the blackest fact in
natural history, unless, indeed, the explanation which has been suggested
is true, that their instinct or reason leads them to expel an injured
companion, lest beasts of prey, including man, should be tempted to follow
the troop. In this case their conduct is not much worse than that of the
North American Indians, who leave their feeble comrades to perish on the
plains; or the Fijians, who, when their parents get old, or fall ill, bury
them alive. (12. Sir J. Lubbock, ‘Prehistoric Times,’ 2nd ed., p. 446.)

Many animals, however, certainly sympathise with each other’s distress or
danger. This is the case even with birds. Captain Stansbury (13. As
quoted by Mr. L.H. Morgan, ‘The American Beaver,’ 1868, p. 272. Capt.
Stansbury also gives an interesting account of the manner in which a very
young pelican, carried away by a strong stream, was guided and encouraged
in its attempts to reach the shore by half a dozen old birds.) found on a
salt lake in Utah an old and completely blind pelican, which was very fat,
and must have been well fed for a long time by his companions. Mr. Blyth,
as he informs me, saw Indian crows feeding two or three of their companions
which were blind; and I have heard of an analogous case with the domestic
cock. We may, if we choose, call these actions instinctive; but such cases
are much too rare for the development of any special instinct. (14. As
Mr. Bain states, “effective aid to a sufferer springs from sympathy
proper:” ‘Mental and Moral Science,’ 1868, p. 245.) I have myself seen a
dog, who never passed a cat who lay sick in a basket, and was a great
friend of his, without giving her a few licks with his tongue, the surest
sign of kind feeling in a dog.

It must be called sympathy that leads a courageous dog to fly at any one
who strikes his master, as he certainly will. I saw a person pretending to
beat a lady, who had a very timid little dog on her lap, and the trial had
never been made before; the little creature instantly jumped away, but
after the pretended beating was over, it was really pathetic to see how
perseveringly he tried to lick his mistress’s face, and comfort her. Brehm
(15. ‘Thierleben,’ B. i. s. 85.) states that when a baboon in confinement
was pursued to be punished, the others tried to protect him. It must have
been sympathy in the cases above given which led the baboons and
Cercopitheci to defend their young comrades from the dogs and the eagle. I
will give only one other instance of sympathetic and heroic conduct, in the
case of a little American monkey. Several years ago a keeper at the
Zoological Gardens shewed me some deep and scarcely healed wounds on the
nape of his own neck, inflicted on him, whilst kneeling on the floor, by a
fierce baboon. The little American monkey, who was a warm friend of this
keeper, lived in the same large compartment, and was dreadfully afraid of
the great baboon. Nevertheless, as soon as he saw his friend in peril, he
rushed to the rescue, and by screams and bites so distracted the baboon
that the man was able to escape, after, as the surgeon thought, running
great risk of his life.

Besides love and sympathy, animals exhibit other qualities connected with
the social instincts, which in us would be called moral; and I agree with
Agassiz (16. ‘De l’Espece et de la Classe,’ 1869, p. 97.) that dogs
possess something very like a conscience.

Dogs possess some power of self-command, and this does not appear to be
wholly the result of fear. As Braubach (17. ‘Die Darwin’sche Art-Lehre,’
1869, s. 54.) remarks, they will refrain from stealing food in the absence
of their master. They have long been accepted as the very type of fidelity
and obedience. But the elephant is likewise very faithful to his driver or
keeper, and probably considers him as the leader of the herd. Dr. Hooker
informs me that an elephant, which he was riding in India, became so deeply
bogged that he remained stuck fast until the next day, when he was
extricated by men with ropes. Under such circumstances elephants will
seize with their trunks any object, dead or alive, to place under their
knees, to prevent their sinking deeper in the mud; and the driver was
dreadfully afraid lest the animal should have seized Dr. Hooker and crushed
him to death. But the driver himself, as Dr. Hooker was assured, ran no
risk. This forbearance under an emergency so dreadful for a heavy animal,
is a wonderful proof of noble fidelity. (18. See also Hooker’s ‘Himalayan
Journals,’ vol. ii. 1854, p. 333.)

All animals living in a body, which defend themselves or attack their
enemies in concert, must indeed be in some degree faithful to one another;
and those that follow a leader must be in some degree obedient. When the
baboons in Abyssinia (19. Brehm, ‘Thierleben,’ B. i. s. 76.) plunder a
garden, they silently follow their leader; and if an imprudent young animal
makes a noise, he receives a slap from the others to teach him silence and
obedience. Mr. Galton, who has had excellent opportunities for observing
the half-wild cattle in S. Africa, says (20. See his extremely interesting
paper on ‘Gregariousness in Cattle, and in Man,’ ‘Macmillan’s Magazine,’
Feb. 1871, p. 353.), that they cannot endure even a momentary separation
from the herd. They are essentially slavish, and accept the common
determination, seeking no better lot than to be led by any one ox who has
enough self-reliance to accept the position. The men who break in these
animals for harness, watch assiduously for those who, by grazing apart,
shew a self-reliant disposition, and these they train as fore-oxen. Mr.
Galton adds that such animals are rare and valuable; and if many were born
they would soon be eliminated, as lions are always on the look-out for the
individuals which wander from the herd.

With respect to the impulse which leads certain animals to associate
together, and to aid one another in many ways, we may infer that in most
cases they are impelled by the same sense of satisfaction or pleasure which
they experience in performing other instinctive actions; or by the same
sense of dissatisfaction as when other instinctive actions are checked. We
see this in innumerable instances, and it is illustrated in a striking
manner by the acquired instincts of our domesticated animals; thus a young
shepherd-dog delights in driving and running round a flock of sheep, but
not in worrying them; a young fox-hound delights in hunting a fox, whilst
some other kinds of dogs, as I have witnessed, utterly disregard foxes.
What a strong feeling of inward satisfaction must impel a bird, so full of
activity, to brood day after day over her eggs. Migratory birds are quite
miserable if stopped from migrating; perhaps they enjoy starting on their
long flight; but it is hard to believe that the poor pinioned goose,
described by Audubon, which started on foot at the proper time for its
journey of probably more than a thousand miles, could have felt any joy in
doing so. Some instincts are determined solely by painful feelings, as by
fear, which leads to self-preservation, and is in some cases directed
towards special enemies. No one, I presume, can analyse the sensations of
pleasure or pain. In many instances, however, it is probable that
instincts are persistently followed from the mere force of inheritance,
without the stimulus of either pleasure or pain. A young pointer, when it
first scents game, apparently cannot help pointing. A squirrel in a cage
who pats the nuts which it cannot eat, as if to bury them in the ground,
can hardly be thought to act thus, either from pleasure or pain. Hence the
common assumption that men must be impelled to every action by experiencing
some pleasure or pain may be erroneous. Although a habit may be blindly
and implicitly followed, independently of any pleasure or pain felt at the
moment, yet if it be forcibly and abruptly checked, a vague sense of
dissatisfaction is generally experienced.

It has often been assumed that animals were in the first place rendered
social, and that they feel as a consequence uncomfortable when separated
from each other, and comfortable whilst together; but it is a more probable
view that these sensations were first developed, in order that those
animals which would profit by living in society, should be induced to live
together, in the same manner as the sense of hunger and the pleasure of
eating were, no doubt, first acquired in order to induce animals to eat.
The feeling of pleasure from society is probably an extension of the
parental or filial affections, since the social instinct seems to be
developed by the young remaining for a long time with their parents; and
this extension may be attributed in part to habit, but chiefly to natural
selection. With those animals which were benefited by living in close
association, the individuals which took the greatest pleasure in society
would best escape various dangers, whilst those that cared least for their
comrades, and lived solitary, would perish in greater numbers. With
respect to the origin of the parental and filial affections, which
apparently lie at the base of the social instincts, we know not the steps
by which they have been gained; but we may infer that it has been to a
large extent through natural selection. So it has almost certainly been
with the unusual and opposite feeling of hatred between the nearest
relations, as with the worker-bees which kill their brother drones, and
with the queen-bees which kill their daughter-queens; the desire to destroy
their nearest relations having been in this case of service to the
community. Parental affection, or some feeling which replaces it, has been
developed in certain animals extremely low in the scale, for example, in
star-fishes and spiders. It is also occasionally present in a few members
alone in a whole group of animals, as in the genus Forficula, or earwigs.

The all-important emotion of sympathy is distinct from that of love. A
mother may passionately love her sleeping and passive infant, but she can
hardly at such times be said to feel sympathy for it. The love of a man
for his dog is distinct from sympathy, and so is that of a dog for his
master. Adam Smith formerly argued, as has Mr. Bain recently, that the
basis of sympathy lies in our strong retentiveness of former states of pain
or pleasure. Hence, “the sight of another person enduring hunger, cold,
fatigue, revives in us some recollection of these states, which are painful
even in idea.” We are thus impelled to relieve the sufferings of another,
in order that our own painful feelings may be at the same time relieved.
In like manner we are led to participate in the pleasures of others. (21.
See the first and striking chapter in Adam Smith’s ‘Theory of Moral
Sentiments.’ Also ‘Mr. Bain’s Mental and Moral Science,’ 1868, pp. 244,
and 275-282. Mr. Bain states, that, “sympathy is, indirectly, a source of
pleasure to the sympathiser”; and he accounts for this through reciprocity.
He remarks that “the person benefited, or others in his stead, may make up,
by sympathy and good offices returned, for all the sacrifice.” But if, as
appears to be the case, sympathy is strictly an instinct, its exercise
would give direct pleasure, in the same manner as the exercise, as before
remarked, of almost every other instinct.) But I cannot see how this view
explains the fact that sympathy is excited, in an immeasurably stronger
degree, by a beloved, than by an indifferent person. The mere sight of
suffering, independently of love, would suffice to call up in us vivid
recollections and associations. The explanation may lie in the fact that,
with all animals, sympathy is directed solely towards the members of the
same community, and therefore towards known, and more or less beloved
members, but not to all the individuals of the same species. This fact is
not more surprising than that the fears of many animals should be directed
against special enemies. Species which are not social, such as lions and
tigers, no doubt feel sympathy for the suffering of their own young, but
not for that of any other animal. With mankind, selfishness, experience,
and imitation, probably add, as Mr. Bain has shewn, to the power of
sympathy; for we are led by the hope of receiving good in return to perform
acts of sympathetic kindness to others; and sympathy is much strengthened
by habit. In however complex a manner this feeling may have originated, as
it is one of high importance to all those animals which aid and defend one
another, it will have been increased through natural selection; for those
communities, which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic
members, would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring.

It is, however, impossible to decide in many cases whether certain social
instincts have been acquired through natural selection, or are the indirect
result of other instincts and faculties, such as sympathy, reason,
experience, and a tendency to imitation; or again, whether they are simply
the result of long-continued habit. So remarkable an instinct as the
placing sentinels to warn the community of danger, can hardly have been the
indirect result of any of these faculties; it must, therefore, have been
directly acquired. On the other hand, the habit followed by the males of
some social animals of defending the community, and of attacking their
enemies or their prey in concert, may perhaps have originated from mutual
sympathy; but courage, and in most cases strength, must have been
previously acquired, probably through natural selection.

Of the various instincts and habits, some are much stronger than others;
that is, some either give more pleasure in their performance, and more
distress in their prevention, than others; or, which is probably quite as
important, they are, through inheritance, more persistently followed,
without exciting any special feeling of pleasure or pain. We are ourselves
conscious that some habits are much more difficult to cure or change than
others. Hence a struggle may often be observed in animals between
different instincts, or between an instinct and some habitual disposition;
as when a dog rushes after a hare, is rebuked, pauses, hesitates, pursues
again, or returns ashamed to his master; or as between the love of a female
dog for her young puppies and for her master,–for she may be seen to slink
away to them, as if half ashamed of not accompanying her master. But the
most curious instance known to me of one instinct getting the better of
another, is the migratory instinct conquering the maternal instinct. The
former is wonderfully strong; a confined bird will at the proper season
beat her breast against the wires of her cage, until it is bare and bloody.
It causes young salmon to leap out of the fresh water, in which they could
continue to exist, and thus unintentionally to commit suicide. Every one
knows how strong the maternal instinct is, leading even timid birds to face
great danger, though with hesitation, and in opposition to the instinct of
self-preservation. Nevertheless, the migratory instinct is so powerful,
that late in the autumn swallows, house-martins, and swifts frequently
desert their tender young, leaving them to perish miserably in their nests.
(22. This fact, the Rev. L. Jenyns states (see his edition of ‘White’s
Nat. Hist. of Selborne,’ 1853, p. 204) was first recorded by the
illustrious Jenner, in ‘Phil. Transact.’ 1824, and has since been confirmed
by several observers, especially by Mr. Blackwall. This latter careful
observer examined, late in the autumn, during two years, thirty-six nests;
he found that twelve contained young dead birds, five contained eggs on the
point of being hatched, and three, eggs not nearly hatched. Many birds,
not yet old enough for a prolonged flight, are likewise deserted and left
behind. See Blackwall, ‘Researches in Zoology,’ 1834, pp. 108, 118. For
some additional evidence, although this is not wanted, see Leroy, ‘Lettres
Phil.’ 1802, p. 217. For Swifts, Gould’s ‘Introduction to the Birds of
Great Britain,’ 1823, p. 5. Similar cases have been observed in Canada by
Mr. Adams; ‘Pop. Science Review,’ July 1873, p. 283.)

We can perceive that an instinctive impulse, if it be in any way more
beneficial to a species than some other or opposed instinct, would be
rendered the more potent of the two through natural selection; for the
individuals which had it most strongly developed would survive in larger
numbers. Whether this is the case with the migratory in comparison with
the maternal instinct, may be doubted. The great persistence, or steady
action of the former at certain seasons of the year during the whole day,
may give it for a time paramount force.

MAN A SOCIAL ANIMAL.

Every one will admit that man is a social being. We see this in his
dislike of solitude, and in his wish for society beyond that of his own
family. Solitary confinement is one of the severest punishments which can
be inflicted. Some authors suppose that man primevally lived in single
families; but at the present day, though single families, or only two or
three together, roam the solitudes of some savage lands, they always, as
far as I can discover, hold friendly relations with other families
inhabiting the same district. Such families occasionally meet in council,
and unite for their common defence. It is no argument against savage man
being a social animal, that the tribes inhabiting adjacent districts are
almost always at war with each other; for the social instincts never extend
to all the individuals of the same species. Judging from the analogy of
the majority of the Quadrumana, it is probable that the early ape-like
progenitors of man were likewise social; but this is not of much importance
for us. Although man, as he now exists, has few special instincts, having
lost any which his early progenitors may have possessed, this is no reason
why he should not have retained from an extremely remote period some degree
of instinctive love and sympathy for his fellows. We are indeed all
conscious that we do possess such sympathetic feelings (23. Hume remarks
(‘An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals,’ edit. of 1751, p. 132),
“There seems a necessity for confessing that the happiness and misery of
others are not spectacles altogether indifferent to us, but that the view
of the former…communicates a secret joy; the appearance of the latter…
throws a melancholy damp over the imagination.”); but our consciousness
does not tell us whether they are instinctive, having originated long ago
in the same manner as with the lower animals, or whether they have been
acquired by each of us during our early years. As man is a social animal,
it is almost certain that he would inherit a tendency to be faithful to his
comrades, and obedient to the leader of his tribe; for these qualities are
common to most social animals. He would consequently possess some capacity
for self-command. He would from an inherited tendency be willing to
defend, in concert with others, his fellow-men; and would be ready to aid
them in any way, which did not too greatly interfere with his own welfare
or his own strong desires.

The social animals which stand at the bottom of the scale are guided almost
exclusively, and those which stand higher in the scale are largely guided,
by special instincts in the aid which they give to the members of the same
community; but they are likewise in part impelled by mutual love and
sympathy, assisted apparently by some amount of reason. Although man, as
just remarked, has no special instincts to tell him how to aid his fellow-
men, he still has the impulse, and with his improved intellectual faculties
would naturally be much guided in this respect by reason and experience.
Instinctive sympathy would also cause him to value highly the approbation
of his fellows; for, as Mr. Bain has clearly shewn (24. ‘Mental and Moral
Science,’ 1868, p. 254.), the love of praise and the strong feeling of
glory, and the still stronger horror of scorn and infamy, “are due to the
workings of sympathy.” Consequently man would be influenced in the highest
degree by the wishes, approbation, and blame of his fellow-men, as
expressed by their gestures and language. Thus the social instincts, which
must have been acquired by man in a very rude state, and probably even by
his early ape-like progenitors, still give the impulse to some of his best
actions; but his actions are in a higher degree determined by the expressed
wishes and judgment of his fellow-men, and unfortunately very often by his
own strong selfish desires. But as love, sympathy and self-command become
strengthened by habit, and as the power of reasoning becomes clearer, so
that man can value justly the judgments of his fellows, he will feel
himself impelled, apart from any transitory pleasure or pain, to certain
lines of conduct. He might then declare–not that any barbarian or
uncultivated man could thus think–I am the supreme judge of my own
conduct, and in the words of Kant, I will not in my own person violate the
dignity of humanity.

THE MORE ENDURING SOCIAL INSTINCTS CONQUER THE LESS PERSISTENT INSTINCTS.

We have not, however, as yet considered the main point, on which, from our
present point of view, the whole question of the moral sense turns. Why
should a man feel that he ought to obey one instinctive desire rather than
another? Why is he bitterly regretful, if he has yielded to a strong sense
of self-preservation, and has not risked his life to save that of a fellow-
creature? or why does he regret having stolen food from hunger?

It is evident in the first place, that with mankind the instinctive
impulses have different degrees of strength; a savage will risk his own
life to save that of a member of the same community, but will be wholly
indifferent about a stranger: a young and timid mother urged by the
maternal instinct will, without a moment’s hesitation, run the greatest
danger for her own infant, but not for a mere fellow-creature.
Nevertheless many a civilised man, or even boy, who never before risked his
life for another, but full of courage and sympathy, has disregarded the
instinct of self-preservation, and plunged at once into a torrent to save a
drowning man, though a stranger. In this case man is impelled by the same
instinctive motive, which made the heroic little American monkey, formerly
described, save his keeper, by attacking the great and dreaded baboon.
Such actions as the above appear to be the simple result of the greater
strength of the social or maternal instincts rather than that of any other
instinct or motive; for they are performed too instantaneously for
reflection, or for pleasure or pain to be felt at the time; though, if
prevented by any cause, distress or even misery might be felt. In a timid
man, on the other hand, the instinct of self-preservation might be so
strong, that he would be unable to force himself to run any such risk,
perhaps not even for his own child.

I am aware that some persons maintain that actions performed impulsively,
as in the above cases, do not come under the dominion of the moral sense,
and cannot be called moral. They confine this term to actions done
deliberately, after a victory over opposing desires, or when prompted by
some exalted motive. But it appears scarcely possible to draw any clear
line of distinction of this kind. (25. I refer here to the distinction
between what has been called MATERIAL and FORMAL morality. I am glad to
find that Professor Huxley (‘Critiques and Addresses,’ 1873, p. 287) takes
the same view on this subject as I do. Mr. Leslie Stephen remarks (‘Essays
on Freethinking and Plain Speaking,’ 1873, p. 83), “the metaphysical
distinction, between material and formal morality is as irrelevant as other
such distinctions.”) As far as exalted motives are concerned, many
instances have been recorded of savages, destitute of any feeling of
general benevolence towards mankind, and not guided by any religious
motive, who have deliberately sacrificed their lives as prisoners(26. I
have given one such case, namely of three Patagonian Indians who preferred
being shot, one after the other, to betraying the plans of their companions
in war (‘Journal of Researches,’ 1845, p. 103).), rather than betray their
comrades; and surely their conduct ought to be considered as moral. As far
as deliberation, and the victory over opposing motives are concerned,
animals may be seen doubting between opposed instincts, in rescuing their
offspring or comrades from danger; yet their actions, though done for the
good of others, are not called moral. Moreover, anything performed very
often by us, will at last be done without deliberation or hesitation, and
can then hardly be distinguished from an instinct; yet surely no one will
pretend that such an action ceases to be moral. On the contrary, we all
feel that an act cannot be considered as perfect, or as performed in the
most noble manner, unless it be done impulsively, without deliberation or
effort, in the same manner as by a man in whom the requisite qualities are
innate. He who is forced to overcome his fear or want of sympathy before
he acts, deserves, however, in one way higher credit than the man whose
innate disposition leads him to a good act without effort. As we cannot
distinguish between motives, we rank all actions of a certain class as
moral, if performed by a moral being. A moral being is one who is capable
of comparing his past and future actions or motives, and of approving or
disapproving of them. We have no reason to suppose that any of the lower
animals have this capacity; therefore, when a Newfoundland dog drags a
child out of the water, or a monkey faces danger to rescue its comrade, or
takes charge of an orphan monkey, we do not call its conduct moral. But in
the case of man, who alone can with certainty be ranked as a moral being,
actions of a certain class are called moral, whether performed
deliberately, after a struggle with opposing motives, or impulsively
through instinct, or from the effects of slowly-gained habit.

But to return to our more immediate subject. Although some instincts are
more powerful than others, and thus lead to corresponding actions, yet it
is untenable, that in man the social instincts (including the love of
praise and fear of blame) possess greater strength, or have, through long
habit, acquired greater strength than the instincts of self-preservation,
hunger, lust, vengeance, etc. Why then does man regret, even though trying
to banish such regret, that he has followed the one natural impulse rather
than the other; and why does he further feel that he ought to regret his
conduct? Man in this respect differs profoundly from the lower animals.
Nevertheless we can, I think, see with some degree of clearness the reason
of this difference.

Man, from the activity of his mental faculties, cannot avoid reflection:
past impressions and images are incessantly and clearly passing through his
mind. Now with those animals which live permanently in a body, the social
instincts are ever present and persistent. Such animals are always ready
to utter the danger-signal, to defend the community, and to give aid to
their fellows in accordance with their habits; they feel at all times,
without the stimulus of any special passion or desire, some degree of love
and sympathy for them; they are unhappy if long separated from them, and
always happy to be again in their company. So it is with ourselves. Even
when we are quite alone, how often do we think with pleasure or pain of
what others think of us,–of their imagined approbation or disapprobation;
and this all follows from sympathy, a fundamental element of the social
instincts. A man who possessed no trace of such instincts would be an
unnatural monster. On the other hand, the desire to satisfy hunger, or any
passion such as vengeance, is in its nature temporary, and can for a time
be fully satisfied. Nor is it easy, perhaps hardly possible, to call up
with complete vividness the feeling, for instance, of hunger; nor indeed,
as has often been remarked, of any suffering. The instinct of self-
preservation is not felt except in the presence of danger; and many a
coward has thought himself brave until he has met his enemy face to face.
The wish for another man’s property is perhaps as persistent a desire as
any that can be named; but even in this case the satisfaction of actual
possession is generally a weaker feeling than the desire: many a thief, if
not a habitual one, after success has wondered why he stole some article.
(27. Enmity or hatred seems also to be a highly persistent feeling, perhaps
more so than any other that can be named. Envy is defined as hatred of
another for some excellence or success; and Bacon insists (Essay ix.), “Of
all other affections envy is the most importune and continual.” Dogs are
very apt to hate both strange men and strange dogs, especially if they live
near at hand, but do not belong to the same family, tribe, or clan; this
feeling would thus seem to be innate, and is certainly a most persistent
one. It seems to be the complement and converse of the true social
instinct. From what we hear of savages, it would appear that something of
the same kind holds good with them. If this be so, it would be a small
step in any one to transfer such feelings to any member of the same tribe
if he had done him an injury and had become his enemy. Nor is it probable
that the primitive conscience would reproach a man for injuring his enemy;
rather it would reproach him, if he had not revenged himself. To do good
in return for evil, to love your enemy, is a height of morality to which it
may be doubted whether the social instincts would, by themselves, have ever
led us. It is necessary that these instincts, together with sympathy,
should have been highly cultivated and extended by the aid of reason,
instruction, and the love or fear of God, before any such golden rule would
ever be thought of and obeyed.)

A man cannot prevent past impressions often repassing through his mind; he
will thus be driven to make a comparison between the impressions of past
hunger, vengeance satisfied, or danger shunned at other men’s cost, with
the almost ever-present instinct of sympathy, and with his early knowledge
of what others consider as praiseworthy or blameable. This knowledge
cannot be banished from his mind, and from instinctive sympathy is esteemed
of great moment. He will then feel as if he had been baulked in following
a present instinct or habit, and this with all animals causes
dissatisfaction, or even misery.

The above case of the swallow affords an illustration, though of a reversed
nature, of a temporary though for the time strongly persistent instinct
conquering another instinct, which is usually dominant over all others. At
the proper season these birds seem all day long to be impressed with the
desire to migrate; their habits change; they become restless, are noisy and
congregate in flocks. Whilst the mother-bird is feeding, or brooding over
her nestlings, the maternal instinct is probably stronger than the
migratory; but the instinct which is the more persistent gains the victory,
and at last, at a moment when her young ones are not in sight, she takes
flight and deserts them. When arrived at the end of her long journey, and
the migratory instinct has ceased to act, what an agony of remorse the bird
would feel, if, from being endowed with great mental activity, she could
not prevent the image constantly passing through her mind, of her young
ones perishing in the bleak north from cold and hunger.

At the moment of action, man will no doubt be apt to follow the stronger
impulse; and though this may occasionally prompt him to the noblest deeds,
it will more commonly lead him to gratify his own desires at the expense of
other men. But after their gratification when past and weaker impressions
are judged by the ever-enduring social instinct, and by his deep regard for
the good opinion of his fellows, retribution will surely come. He will
then feel remorse, repentance, regret, or shame; this latter feeling,
however, relates almost exclusively to the judgment of others. He will
consequently resolve more or less firmly to act differently for the future;
and this is conscience; for conscience looks backwards, and serves as a
guide for the future.

The nature and strength of the feelings which we call regret, shame,
repentance or remorse, depend apparently not only on the strength of the
violated instinct, but partly on the strength of the temptation, and often
still more on the judgment of our fellows. How far each man values the
appreciation of others, depends on the strength of his innate or acquired
feeling of sympathy; and on his own capacity for reasoning out the remote
consequences of his acts. Another element is most important, although not
necessary, the reverence or fear of the Gods, or Spirits believed in by
each man: and this applies especially in cases of remorse. Several
critics have objected that though some slight regret or repentance may be
explained by the view advocated in this chapter, it is impossible thus to
account for the soul-shaking feeling of remorse. But I can see little
force in this objection. My critics do not define what they mean by
remorse, and I can find no definition implying more than an overwhelming
sense of repentance. Remorse seems to bear the same relation to
repentance, as rage does to anger, or agony to pain. It is far from
strange that an instinct so strong and so generally admired, as maternal
love, should, if disobeyed, lead to the deepest misery, as soon as the
impression of the past cause of disobedience is weakened. Even when an
action is opposed to no special instinct, merely to know that our friends
and equals despise us for it is enough to cause great misery. Who can
doubt that the refusal to fight a duel through fear has caused many men an
agony of shame? Many a Hindoo, it is said, has been stirred to the bottom
of his soul by having partaken of unclean food. Here is another case of
what must, I think, be called remorse. Dr. Landor acted as a magistrate in
West Australia, and relates (28. ‘Insanity in Relation to Law,’ Ontario,
United States, 1871, p. 1.), that a native on his farm, after losing one of
his wives from disease, came and said that, “he was going to a distant
tribe to spear a woman, to satisfy his sense of duty to his wife. I told
him that if he did so, I would send him to prison for life. He remained
about the farm for some months, but got exceedingly thin, and complained
that he could not rest or eat, that his wife’s spirit was haunting him,
because he had not taken a life for hers. I was inexorable, and assured
him that nothing should save him if he did.” Nevertheless the man
disappeared for more than a year, and then returned in high condition; and
his other wife told Dr. Landor that her husband had taken the life of a
woman belonging to a distant tribe; but it was impossible to obtain legal
evidence of the act. The breach of a rule held sacred by the tribe, will
thus, as it seems, give rise to the deepest feelings,–and this quite apart
from the social instincts, excepting in so far as the rule is grounded on
the judgment of the community. How so many strange superstitions have
arisen throughout the world we know not; nor can we tell how some real and
great crimes, such as incest, have come to be held in an abhorrence (which
is not however quite universal) by the lowest savages. It is even doubtful
whether in some tribes incest would be looked on with greater horror, than
would the marriage of a man with a woman bearing the same name, though not
a relation. “To violate this law is a crime which the Australians hold in
the greatest abhorrence, in this agreeing exactly with certain tribes of
North America. When the question is put in either district, is it worse to
kill a girl of a foreign tribe, or to marry a girl of one’s own, an answer
just opposite to ours would be given without hesitation.” (29. E.B.
Tylor, in ‘Contemporary Review,’ April 1873, p. 707.) We may, therefore,
reject the belief, lately insisted on by some writers, that the abhorrence
of incest is due to our possessing a special God-implanted conscience. On
the whole it is intelligible, that a man urged by so powerful a sentiment
as remorse, though arising as above explained, should be led to act in a
manner, which he has been taught to believe serves as an expiation, such as
delivering himself up to justice.

Man prompted by his conscience, will through long habit acquire such
perfect self-command, that his desires and passions will at last yield
instantly and without a struggle to his social sympathies and instincts,
including his feeling for the judgment of his fellows. The still hungry,
or the still revengeful man will not think of stealing food, or of wreaking
his vengeance. It is possible, or as we shall hereafter see, even
probable, that the habit of self-command may, like other habits, be
inherited. Thus at last man comes to feel, through acquired and perhaps
inherited habit, that it is best for him to obey his more persistent
impulses. The imperious word “ought” seems merely to imply the
consciousness of the existence of a rule of conduct, however it may have
originated. Formerly it must have been often vehemently urged that an
insulted gentleman OUGHT to fight a duel. We even say that a pointer OUGHT
to point, and a retriever to retrieve game. If they fail to do so, they
fail in their duty and act wrongly.

If any desire or instinct leading to an action opposed to the good of
others still appears, when recalled to mind, as strong as, or stronger
than, the social instinct, a man will feel no keen regret at having
followed it; but he will be conscious that if his conduct were known to his
fellows, it would meet with their disapprobation; and few are so destitute
of sympathy as not to feel discomfort when this is realised. If he has no
such sympathy, and if his desires leading to bad actions are at the time
strong, and when recalled are not over-mastered by the persistent social
instincts, and the judgment of others, then he is essentially a bad man
(30. Dr. Prosper Despine, in his Psychologie Naturelle, 1868 (tom. i. p.
243; tom. ii. p. 169) gives many curious cases of the worst criminals, who
apparently have been entirely destitute of conscience.); and the sole
restraining motive left is the fear of punishment, and the conviction that
in the long run it would be best for his own selfish interests to regard
the good of others rather than his own.

It is obvious that every one may with an easy conscience gratify his own
desires, if they do not interfere with his social instincts, that is with
the good of others; but in order to be quite free from self-reproach, or at
least of anxiety, it is almost necessary for him to avoid the
disapprobation, whether reasonable or not, of his fellow-men. Nor must he
break through the fixed habits of his life, especially if these are
supported by reason; for if he does, he will assuredly feel
dissatisfaction. He must likewise avoid the reprobation of the one God or
gods in whom, according to his knowledge or superstition, he may believe;
but in this case the additional fear of divine punishment often supervenes.

THE STRICTLY SOCIAL VIRTUES AT FIRST ALONE REGARDED.

The above view of the origin and nature of the moral sense, which tells us
what we ought to do, and of the conscience which reproves us if we disobey
it, accords well with what we see of the early and undeveloped condition of
this faculty in mankind. The virtues which must be practised, at least
generally, by rude men, so that they may associate in a body, are those
which are still recognised as the most important. But they are practised
almost exclusively in relation to the men of the same tribe; and their
opposites are not regarded as crimes in relation to the men of other
tribes. No tribe could hold together if murder, robbery, treachery, etc.,
were common; consequently such crimes within the limits of the same tribe
“are branded with everlasting infamy” (31. See an able article in the
‘North British Review,’ 1867, p. 395. See also Mr. W. Bagehot’s articles
on the Importance of Obedience and Coherence to Primitive Man, in the
‘Fortnightly Review,’ 1867, p. 529, and 1868, p. 457, etc.); but excite no
such sentiment beyond these limits. A North-American Indian is well
pleased with himself, and is honoured by others, when he scalps a man of
another tribe; and a Dyak cuts off the head of an unoffending person, and
dries it as a trophy. The murder of infants has prevailed on the largest
scale throughout the world (32. The fullest account which I have met with
is by Dr. Gerland, in his ‘Ueber den Aussterben der Naturvolker,’ 1868; but
I shall have to recur to the subject of infanticide in a future chapter.),
and has met with no reproach; but infanticide, especially of females, has
been thought to be good for the tribe, or at least not injurious. Suicide
during former times was not generally considered as a crime (33. See the
very interesting discussion on suicide in Lecky’s ‘History of European
Morals,’ vol. i. 1869, p. 223. With respect to savages, Mr. Winwood Reade
informs me that the negroes of West Africa often commit suicide. It is
well known how common it was amongst the miserable aborigines of South
America after the Spanish conquest. For New Zealand, see the voyage of the
“Novara,” and for the Aleutian Islands, Muller, as quoted by Houzeau, ‘Les
Facultes Mentales,’ etc., tom. ii. p. 136.), but rather, from the courage
displayed, as an honourable act; and it is still practised by some semi-
civilised and savage nations without reproach, for it does not obviously
concern others of the tribe. It has been recorded that an Indian Thug
conscientiously regretted that he had not robbed and strangled as many
travellers as did his father before him. In a rude state of civilisation
the robbery of strangers is, indeed, generally considered as honourable.

Slavery, although in some ways beneficial during ancient times (34. See
Mr. Bagehot, ‘Physics and Politics,’ 1872, p. 72.), is a great crime; yet
it was not so regarded until quite recently, even by the most civilised
nations. And this was especially the case, because the slaves belonged in
general to a race different from that of their masters. As barbarians do
not regard the opinion of their women, wives are commonly treated like
slaves. Most savages are utterly indifferent to the sufferings of
strangers, or even delight in witnessing them. It is well known that the
women and children of the North-American Indians aided in torturing their
enemies. Some savages take a horrid pleasure in cruelty to animals (35.
See, for instance, Mr. Hamilton’s account of the Kaffirs, ‘Anthropological
Review,’ 1870, p. xv.), and humanity is an unknown virtue. Nevertheless,
besides the family affections, kindness is common, especially during
sickness, between the members of the same tribe, and is sometimes extended
beyond these limits. Mungo Park’s touching account of the kindness of the
negro women of the interior to him is well known. Many instances could be
given of the noble fidelity of savages towards each other, but not to
strangers; common experience justifies the maxim of the Spaniard, “Never,
never trust an Indian.” There cannot be fidelity without truth; and this
fundamental virtue is not rare between the members of the same tribe: thus
Mungo Park heard the negro women teaching their young children to love the
truth. This, again, is one of the virtues which becomes so deeply rooted
in the mind, that it is sometimes practised by savages, even at a high
cost, towards strangers; but to lie to your enemy has rarely been thought a
sin, as the history of modern diplomacy too plainly shews. As soon as a
tribe has a recognised leader, disobedience becomes a crime, and even
abject submission is looked at as a sacred virtue.

As during rude times no man can be useful or faithful to his tribe without
courage, this quality has universally been placed in the highest rank; and
although in civilised countries a good yet timid man may be far more useful
to the community than a brave one, we cannot help instinctively honouring
the latter above a coward, however benevolent. Prudence, on the other
hand, which does not concern the welfare of others, though a very useful
virtue, has never been highly esteemed. As no man can practise the virtues
necessary for the welfare of his tribe without self-sacrifice, self-
command, and the power of endurance, these qualities have been at all times
highly and most justly valued. The American savage voluntarily submits to
the most horrid tortures without a groan, to prove and strengthen his
fortitude and courage; and we cannot help admiring him, or even an Indian
Fakir, who, from a foolish religious motive, swings suspended by a hook
buried in his flesh.

The other so-called self-regarding virtues, which do not obviously, though
they may really, affect the welfare of the tribe, have never been esteemed
by savages, though now highly appreciated by civilised nations. The
greatest intemperance is no reproach with savages. Utter licentiousness,
and unnatural crimes, prevail to an astounding extent. (36. Mr. M’Lennan
has given (‘Primitive Marriage,’ 1865, p. 176) a good collection of facts
on this head.) As soon, however, as marriage, whether polygamous, or
monogamous, becomes common, jealousy will lead to the inculcation of female
virtue; and this, being honoured, will tend to spread to the unmarried
females. How slowly it spreads to the male sex, we see at the present day.
Chastity eminently requires self-command; therefore it has been honoured
from a very early period in the moral history of civilised man. As a
consequence of this, the senseless practice of celibacy has been ranked
from a remote period as a virtue.

The Voyage Of The Beagle

Chapter III

 

(PLATE 15. HYDROCHAERUS CAPYBARA OR WATER-HOG.)

Monte Video.
Maldonado.
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.

MALDONADO.

JULY 5, 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 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 26, 1832.

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 heretic, probably he came to the
conclusion that all heretics 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 boor 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.

(PLATE 16. RECADO OR SURCINGLE OF GAUCHO.)

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. (See Chapter
11.) 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 varies, 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 farthest 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 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. (3/1. Hearne’s “Journey” page
383.)

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 signalise any event,
on the highest point of the neighbouring land, seems a universal
passion with mankind. At the present day, not a single Indian,
either civilised 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 latitude 35
degrees. 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.

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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 by the annual
amount of moisture (3/2. Maclaren, article “America” “Encyclopedia
Brittannica.”); yet in this province abundant and heavy rain falls
during the winter; and the summer, though dry, is not so in any
excessive degree. (3/3. Azara says “Je crois que la quantité
annuelle des pluies est, dans toutes ces contrées, plus
considérable qu’en Espagne.”–Volume 1 page 36.) 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
latitude 38 degrees 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 latitude 4
degrees South to latitude 32 degrees South, may be described as a
desert; on this western coast, northward of latitude 4 degrees
South, 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 Guayaquil 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. (3/4. 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.) 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. (3/5. 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.)
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 (3/6. 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.): 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
tucu-tuco. 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 tucu-tuco, 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
(probably with more truth than usual with him) on the
gradually-ACQUIRED blindness of the Aspalax, 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.
(3/7. “Philosoph. Zoolog.” tome 1 page 242.) 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 tucu-tuco, 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 tucu-tuco is now passing into the state of the Aspalax 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 the 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, 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.” (3/8. “Magazine of Zoology and Botany” volume 1 page
217.) 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. Prévost alone, I think, has thrown light
by his observations 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. (3/9. Read before the Academy of Sciences in
Paris. L’Institut 1834 page 418.) 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 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,
however, 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 neighbourhood 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. It 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 latitude 41 degrees. 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.” (3/10. “Geological
Transactions” volume 2 page 528. In the “Philosophical
Transactions” 1790 page 294, Dr. Priestley 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.) 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 crystallisation. 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 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.
(3/11. “Annales de Chimie et de Physique” tome 37 page 319.) They
failed both with powdered feldspar 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 degrees, 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, 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. (3/12. Azara’s “Voyage” volume 1 page 36.)
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 volatilised, 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.

(PLATE 17. HALT AT A PULPERIA ON THE PAMPAS.)

The Voyage Of The Beagle

Chapter II

 

(PLATE 8. BOTOFOGO BAY, 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.

RIO DE JANEIRO.

APRIL 4 TO JULY 5, 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 8, 1832.

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 9, 1832.

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.

The great site of climbing parasitic plants reminds us of the parasitic nutrition where the parasite gets it readymade food from the host plant. This is established by maintaining a lower water potential than the host. These plants do not contain chlorophyll, the necessary elements required for photosynthesis. Some examples of this include the

  • Cuscuta
  • Santalaceae

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 degrees. The
beautiful view of the distant wooded hills, reflected in the
perfectly calm water of an extensive lagoon, quite refreshed us. As
the vênda 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. (2/1. Vênda, the
Portuguese name for an inn.) 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 bedrooms 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 vênda 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 senhôr to do us the favour to give us 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 2 shillings 6 pence per head.
Yet the host of this vênda, 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 kind, 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 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. (2/2. “Annales des Sciences Naturelles” for 1833.)
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.

(PLATE 9. VAMPIRE BAT (Desmodus D’Orbigny). Caught on back of
Darwin’s horse near Coquimbo. Head, full size.)

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 notebook,
“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 volcanoes 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 13, 1832.

After three days’ travelling we arrived at Socêgo, the estate of
Senhôr 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 cassava 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 Fazênda, in
consequence of having drunk some of it. Senhôr Figuireda told me
that he had planted, the year before, one bag of feijaô 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
fazêndas 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 14, 1832.

(PLATE 10. VIRGIN FOREST.)

Leaving Socˆgo, we rode to another estate on the Rio Macƒe, 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 degrees, 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 18, 1832.

(PLATE 11. CABBAGE PALM.)

In returning we spent two days at Socˆgo, 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
dimension. Senhôr 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.

(PLATE 12. MANDIOCA OR CASSAVA.)

APRIL 19, 1832.

Leaving Socˆgo, 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 De“s.
This is one of the principal lines of road in Brazil; yet it was in
so bad a state that no wheel 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. (2/3. I
have described and named these species in the “Annals of Natural
History” volume 14 page 241.) 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 redissolved.

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
degrees. 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 cicadae 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
Pyrosoma), 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. (2/4. 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.) I found that this insect emitted the
most brilliant flashes when irritated: in the intervals, the
abdominal rings were obscured. The flash was almost coinstantaneous
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. (2/5.
Kirby’s “Entomology” volume 2 page 317.) 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 degrees.

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.

(PLATE 13. RIO DE JANEIRO.)

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. (2/6. Mr.
Doubleday has lately described (before the Entomological Society,
March 3, 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 page 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.) 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. (2/7. 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.) 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 reappearing 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 as curious and pleasing! (2/8. In a
Manuscript in the British Museum by Mr. Abbott, who made his
observations in Georgia; see Mr. A. White’s paper in the “Annals of
Natural History” volume 7 page 472. Lieutenant Hutton has described
a sphex with similar habits in India, in the “Journal of the
Asiatic Society” volume 1 page 555.) 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. (2/9. Don Felix Azara volume 1 page
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.”)

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 is 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. Fé 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 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. (2/10. Azara’s “Voyage” volume 1 page 213.) 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.

(PLATE 14. DARWIN’S PAPILIO FERONIA, 1833, NOW CALLED AGERONIA
FERONIA, 1889.)

 

The Voyage Of The Beagle

Chapter I

 

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.

ST. JAGO–CAPE DE VERD ISLANDS.

After having been twice driven back by heavy south-western 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 illumine 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 Cocoa bean is the fruit produced by a cocoa tree that is used to make the different world-famous chocolates. The site web indicates that there are two main species of cocoa

  • The Criollo which is known to be the cocoa princess with excellent flavour and aroma
  • The Forastero which is a higher yielding type

The island
would generally be considered as very uninteresting, but to any one
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 (1/1. I state this on the authority of Dr. E.
Dieffenbach, in his German translation of the first edition of this
Journal.), 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 watercourses, 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. (1/2. 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.) 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 Vênda 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
north-east by north, and south-west by south, 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 vintéms, 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 degrees, 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 finds that this
dust consists in great part of infusoria with siliceous shields,
and of the siliceous tissue of plants. (1/3. 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.) 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 seaweeds 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, were
continually passing over the body. (1/4. So named according to
Patrick Symes’s nomenclature.) 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. (1/5. See
“Encyclopedia of Anatomy and Physiology” article “Cephalopoda.”)

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, 1832, close to the island of St. Paul’s. This cluster of
rocks is situated in 0 degrees 58′ north latitude, and 29 degrees
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 feldspathic 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.

(PLATE 4. INCRUSTATION OF SHELLY SAND.)

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 Plate 4,
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 to find substances harder than the
enamel of teeth, and coloured surfaces as well polished as those of
a fresh shell, re-formed through inorganic means from dead organic
matter–mocking, also, in shape, some of the lower vegetable
productions. (1/6. Mr. Horner and Sir David Brewster have described
(“Philosophical Transactions” 1836 page 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.)

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
waterfowl. 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 quite 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, FEBRUARY 20, 1832.

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, FEBRUARY 29, 1832.

The day has past 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 clime, 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 crystallised 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.
(1/7. “Personal Narrative” volume 5 part 1 page 18.) 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.

(PLATE 5. DIODON MACULATUS (DISTENDED AND CONTRACTED).)

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 18, 1832.

(PLATE 6. PELAGIC CONFERVAE.)

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. (1/8. M.
Montagne in “Comptes Rendus” etc. Juillet 1844; and “Annales des
Sciences Naturelles” December 1844.) 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 Plate 6
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 here add 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. (1/9. M. Lesson “Voyage de la Coquille” tome 1
page 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 (volume 2
page 239). To the references given by Peron may be added,
Humboldt’s “Personal Narrative” volume 6 page 804; Flinder’s
“Voyage” volume 1 page 92; Labillardière, volume 1 page 287;
Ulloa’s “Voyage”; “Voyage of the Astrolabe and of the Coquille”;
Captain King’s “Survey of Australia” etc.)

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 mud-like 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 embedded: 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 direction of the bands
indicates 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 carcass 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 organised 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.

(PLATE 7. CATAMARAN (BAHIA).)

The Different Forms Of Flowers On Plants Of The Same Species

Chapter II

 

HYBRID PRIMULAS.

The oxlip a hybrid naturally produced between Primula veris and vulgaris.
The differences in structure and function between the two parent-species.
Effects of crossing long-styled and short-styled oxlips with one another and
with the two forms of both parent-species.
Character of the offspring from oxlips artificially self-fertilised and cross-
fertilised in a state of nature.
Primula elatior shown to be a distinct species.
Hybrids between other heterostyled

Heterostyly is a type of polymorphism, here the morphological structure of flowers are decorated in a way to avoid, for example, the length of style and stigma differs relatively for different species. the heterostyly flowers may be divided into two groups such as distylous flower and tristylous flower. Click look here to know more.

species of Primula.
Supplementary note on spontaneously produced hybrids in the genus Verbascum.

The various species of Primula have produced in a state of nature throughout
Europe an extraordinary number of hybrid forms. For instance, Professor Kerner
has found no less than twenty-five such forms in the Alps. (2/1. “Die
Primulaceen-Bastarten” ‘Oesterr. Botanische Zeitschrift’ Jahr 1875 Numbers 3, 4
and 5. See also Godron on hybrid Primulas in ‘Bull. Soc. Bot. de France’ tome 10
1853 page 178. Also in ‘Revue des Sciences Nat.’ 1875 page 331.) The frequent
occurrence of hybrids in this genus no doubt has been favoured by most of the
species being heterostyled, and consequently requiring cross-fertilisation by
insects; yet in some other genera, species which are not heterostyled and which
in some respects appear not well adapted for hybrid-fertilisation, have likewise
been largely hybridised. In certain districts of England, the common oxlip–a
hybrid between the cowslip (P. veris, vel officinalis) and the primrose (P.
vulgaris, vel acaulis)–is frequently found, and it occurs occasionally almost
everywhere. Owing to the frequency of this intermediate hybrid form, and to the
existence of the Bardfield oxlip (P. elatior), which resembles to a certain
extent the common oxlip, the claim of the three forms to rank as distinct
species has been discussed oftener and at greater length than that of almost any
other plant. Linnaeus considered P. veris, vulgaris and elatior to be varieties
of the same species, as do some distinguished botanists at the present day;
whilst others who have carefully studied these plants do not doubt that they are
distinct species. The following observations prove, I think, that the latter
view is correct; and they further show that the common oxlip is a hybrid between
P. veris and vulgaris.

The cowslip differs so conspicuously in general appearance from the primrose,
that nothing need here be said with respect to their external characters. (2/2.
The Reverend W.A. Leighton has pointed out certain differences in the form of
the capsules and seed in ‘Annals and Magazine of Natural History’ 2nd series
volume 2 1848 page 164.) But some less obvious differences deserve notice. As
both species are heterostyled, their complete fertilisation depends on insects.
The cowslip is habitually visited during the day by the larger humble-bees
(namely Bombus muscorum and hortorum), and at night by moths, as I have seen in
the case of Cucullia. The primrose is never visited (and I speak after many
years’ observation) by the larger humble-bees, and only rarely by the smaller
kinds; hence its fertilisation must depend almost exclusively on moths. There is
nothing in the structure of the flowers of the two plants which can determine
the visits of such widely different insects. But they emit a different odour,
and perhaps their nectar may have a different taste. Both the long-styled and
short-styled forms of the primrose, when legitimately and naturally fertilised,
yield on an average many more seeds per capsule than the cowslip, namely, in the
proportion of 100 to 55. When illegitimately fertilised they are likewise more
fertile than the two forms of the cowslip, as shown by the larger proportion of
their flowers which set capsules, and by the larger average number of seeds
which the capsules contain. The difference also between the number of seeds
produced by the long-styled and short-styled flowers of the primrose, when both
are illegitimately fertilised, is greater than that between the number produced
under similar circumstances by the two forms of the cowslip. The long-styled
flowers of the primrose when protected from the access of all insects, except
such minute ones as Thrips, yield a considerable number of capsules containing
on an average 19.2 seeds per capsule; whereas 18 plants of the long-styled
cowslip similarly treated did not yield a single seed.

The primrose, as every one knows, flowers a little earlier in the spring than
the cowslip, and inhabits slightly different stations and districts. The
primrose generally grows on banks or in woods, whilst the cowslip is found in
more open places. The geographical range of the two forms is different. Dr.
Bromfield remarks that “the primrose is absent from all the interior region of
northern Europe, where the cowslip is indigenous.” (2/3. ‘Phytologist’ volume 3
page 694.) In Norway, however, both plants range to the same degree of north
latitude. (2/4. H. Lecoq ‘Geograph. Bot. de l’Europe’ tome 8 1858 pages 141,
144. See also ‘Annals and Magazine of Natural History’ 9 1842 pages 156, 515.
Also Boreau ‘Flore du centre de la France’ 1840 tome 2 page 376. With respect to
the rarity of P. veris in western Scotland, see H.C. Watson ‘Cybele Britannica’
2 page 293.)

The cowslip and primrose, when intercrossed, behave like distinct species, for
they are far from being mutually fertile. Gartner crossed 27 flowers of P.
vulgaris with pollen of P. veris, and obtained 16 capsules; but these did not
contain any good seed. (2/5. ‘Bastarderzeugung’ 1849 page 721.) He also crossed
21 flowers of P. veris with pollen of P. vulgaris; and now he got only five
capsules, containing seed in a still less perfect condition. Gartner knew
nothing about heterostylism; and his complete failure may perhaps be accounted
for by his having crossed together the same forms of the cowslip and primrose;
for such crosses would have been of an illegitimate as well as of a hybrid
nature, and this would have increased their sterility. My trials were rather
more fortunate. Twenty-one flowers, consisting of both forms of the cowslip and
primrose, were intercrossed legitimately, and yielded seven capsules (i.e. 33
per cent), containing on an average 42 seeds; some of these seeds, however, were
so poor that they probably would not have germinated. Twenty-one flowers on the
same cowslip and primrose plants were also intercrossed illegitimately, and they
likewise yielded seven capsules (or 33 per cent), but these contained on an
average only 13 good and bad seeds. I should, however, state that some of the
above flowers of the primrose were fertilised with pollen from the polyanthus,
which is certainly a variety of the cowslip, as may be inferred from the perfect
fertility inter se of the crossed offspring from these two plants. (2/6. Mr.
Scott has discussed the nature of the polyanthus (‘Proceedings of the Linnean
Society’ 8 Botany 1864 page 103), and arrives at a different conclusion; but I
do not think that his experiments were sufficiently numerous. The degree of
infertility of a cross is liable to much fluctuation. Pollen from the cowslip at
first appears rather more efficient on the primrose than that of the polyanthus;
for 12 flowers of both forms of the primrose, fertilised legitimately and
illegitimately with pollen of the cowslip gave five capsules, containing on an
average 32.4 seeds; whilst 18 flowers similarly fertilised by polyanthus-pollen
yielded only five capsules, containing only 22.6 seeds. On the other hand, the
seeds produced by the polyanthus-pollen were much the finest of the whole lot,
and were the only ones which germinated.) To show how sterile these hybrid
unions were I may remind the reader that 90 per cent of the flowers of the
primrose fertilised legitimately with primrose-pollen yielded capsules,
containing on an average 66 seeds; and that 54 per cent of the flowers
fertilised illegitimately yielded capsules containing on an average 35.5 seeds
per capsule. The primrose, especially the short-styled form, when fertilised by
the cowslip, is less sterile, as Gartner likewise observed, than is the cowslip
when fertilised by the primrose. The above experiments also show that a cross
between the same forms of the primrose and cowslip is much more sterile than
that between different forms of these two species.

The seeds from the several foregoing crosses were sown, but none germinated
except those from the short-styled primrose fertilised with pollen of the
polyanthus; and these seeds were the finest of the whole lot. I thus raised six
plants, and compared them with a group of wild oxlips which I had transplanted
into my garden. One of these wild oxlips produced slightly larger flowers than
the others, and this one was identical in every character (in foliage, flower-
peduncle, and flowers) with my six plants, excepting that the flowers of the
latter were tinged of a dingy red colour, from being descended from the
polyanthus.

We thus see that the cowslip and primrose cannot be crossed either way except
with considerable difficulty, that they differ conspicuously in external
appearance, that they differ in various physiological characters, that they
inhabit slightly different stations and range differently. Hence those botanists
who rank these plants as varieties ought to be able to prove that they are not
as well fixed in character as are most species; and the evidence in favour of
such instability of character appears at first sight very strong. It rests,
first, on statements made by several competent observers that they have raised
cowslips, primroses, and oxlips from seeds of the same plant; and, secondly, on
the frequent occurrence in a state of nature of plants presenting every
intermediate gradation between the cowslip and primrose.

The first statement, however, is of little value; for, heterostylism not being
formerly understood, the seed-bearing plants were in no instance protected from
the visits of insects (2/7. One author states in the ‘Phytologist’ volume 3 page
703 that he covered with bell-glasses some cowslips, primroses, etc., on which
he experimented. He specifies all the details of his experiment, but does not
say that he artificially fertilised his plants; yet he obtained an abundance of
seed, which is simply impossible. Hence there must have been some strange error
in these experiments, which may be passed over as valueless.); and there would
be almost as much risk of an isolated cowslip, or of several cowslips if
consisting of the same form, being crossed by a neighbouring primrose and
producing oxlips, as of one sex of a dioecious plant, under similar
circumstances, being crossed by the opposite sex of an allied and neighbouring
species. Mr. H.C. Watson, a critical and most careful observer, made many
experiments by sowing the seeds of cowslips and of various kinds of oxlips, and
arrived at the following conclusion, namely, “that seeds of a cowslip can
produce cowslips and oxlips, and that seeds of an oxlip can produce cowslips,
oxlips, and primroses.” (2/8. ‘Phytologist’ 2 pages 217, 852; 3 page 43.) This
conclusion harmonises perfectly with the view that in all cases, when such
results have been obtained, the unprotected cowslips have been crossed by
primroses, and the unprotected oxlips by either cowslips or primroses; for in
this latter case we might expect, by the aid of reversion, which notoriously
comes into powerful action with hybrids, that the two parent-forms in appearance
pure, as well as many intermediate gradations, would be occasionally produced.
Nevertheless the two following statements offer considerable difficulty. The
Reverend Professor Henslow raised from seeds of a cowslip growing in his garden,
various kinds of oxlips and one perfect primrose; but a statement in the same
paper perhaps throws light on this anomalous result. (2/9. Loudon’s ‘Magazine of
Natural History’ 3 1830 page 409.) Professor Henslow had previously transplanted
into his garden a cowslip, which completely changed its appearance during the
following year, and now resembled an oxlip. Next year again it changed its
character, and produced, in addition to the ordinary umbels, a few single-
flowered scapes, bearing flowers somewhat smaller and more deeply coloured than
those of the common primrose. From what I have myself observed with oxlips, I
cannot doubt that this plant was an oxlip in a highly variable condition, almost
like that of the famous Cytisus adami. This presumed oxlip was propagated by
offsets, which were planted in different parts of the garden; and if Professor
Henslow took by mistake seeds from one of these plants, especially if it had
been crossed by a primrose, the result would be quite intelligible. Another case
is still more difficult to understand: Dr. Herbert raised, from the seeds of a
highly cultivated red cowslip, cowslips, oxlips of various kinds, and a
primrose. (2/10. ‘Transactions of the Horticultural Society’ 4 page 19.) This
case, if accurately recorded, which I much doubt, is explicable only on the
improbable assumption that the red cowslip was not of pure parentage. With
species and varieties of many kinds, when intercrossed, one is sometimes
strongly prepotent over the other; and instances are known of a variety crossed
by another, producing offspring which in certain characters, as in colour,
hairiness, etc., have proved identical with the pollen-bearing parent, and quite
dissimilar to the mother-plant (2/11. I have given instances in my work ‘On the
Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication’ chapter 15 2nd edition
volume 2 page 69.); but I do not know of any instance of the offspring of a
cross perfectly resembling, in a considerable number of important characters,
the father alone. It is, therefore, very improbable that a pure cowslip crossed
by a primrose should ever produce a primrose in appearance pure. Although the
facts given by Dr. Herbert and Professor Henslow are difficult to explain, yet
until it can be shown that a cowslip or a primrose, carefully protected from
insects, will give birth to at least oxlips, the cases hitherto recorded have
little weight in leading us to admit that the cowslip and primrose are varieties
of one and the same species.

Negative evidence is of little value; but the following facts may be worth
giving:–Some cowslips which had been transplanted from the fields into a
shrubbery were again transplanted into highly manured land. In the following
year they were protected from insects, artificially fertilised, and the seed
thus procured was sown in a hotbed. The young plants were afterwards planted
out, some in very rich soil, some in stiff poor clay, some in old peat, and some
in pots in the greenhouse; so that these plants, 765 in number, as well as their
parents, were subjected to diversified and unnatural treatment; but not one of
them presented the least variation except in size–those in the peat attaining
almost gigantic dimensions, and those in the clay being much dwarfed.

I do not, of course, doubt that cowslips exposed during SEVERAL successive
generations to changed conditions would vary, and that this might occasionally
occur in a state of nature. Moreover, from the law of analogical variation, the
varieties of any one species of Primula would probably in some cases resemble
other species of the genus. For instance I raised a red primrose from seed from
a protected plant, and the flowers, though still resembling those of the
primrose, were borne during one season in umbels on a long foot-stalk like that
of a cowslip.

With regard to the second class of facts in support of the cowslip and primrose
being ranked as mere varieties, namely, the well-ascertained existence in a
state of nature of numerous linking forms (2/12. See an excellent article on
this subject by Mr. H.C. Watson in the ‘Phytologist’ volume 3 page 43.):–If it
can be shown that the common wild oxlip, which is intermediate in character
between the cowslip and primrose, resembles in sterility and other essential
respects a hybrid plant, and if it can further be shown that the oxlip, though
in a high degree sterile, can be fertilised by either parent-species, thus
giving rise to still finer gradational links, then the presence of such linking
forms in a state of nature ceases to be an argument of any weight in favour of
the cowslip and primrose being varieties, and becomes, in fact, an argument on
the other side. The hybrid origin of a plant in a state of nature can be
recognised by four tests: first, by its occurrence only where both presumed
parent-species exist or have recently existed; and this holds good, as far as I
can discover, with the oxlip; but the P. elatior of Jacq., which, as we shall
presently see, constitutes a distinct species, must not be confounded with the
common oxlip. Secondly, by the supposed hybrid plant being nearly intermediate
in character between the two parent-species, and especially by its resembling
hybrids artificially made between the same two species. Now the oxlip is
intermediate in character, and resembles in every respect, except in the colour
of the corolla, hybrids artificially produced between the primrose and the
polyanthus, which latter is a variety of the cowslip. Thirdly, by the supposed
hybrids being more or less sterile when crossed inter se: but to try this fairly
two distinct plants of the same parentage, and not two flowers on the same
plant, should be crossed; for many pure species are more or less sterile with
pollen from the same individual plant; and in the case of hybrids from
heterostyled species the opposite forms should be crossed. Fourthly and lastly,
by the supposed hybrids being much more fertile when crossed with either pure
parent-species than when crossed inter se, but still not as fully fertile as the
parent-species.

For the sake of ascertaining the two latter points, I transplanted a group of
wild oxlips into my garden. They consisted of one long-styled and three short-
styled plants, which, except in the corolla of one being slightly larger,
resembled each other closely. The trials which were made, and the results
obtained, are shown in tables 2.14, 2.15, 2.16, 2.17 and 2.18. No less than
twenty different crosses are necessary in order to ascertain fully the fertility
of hybrid heterostyled plants, both inter se and with their two parent-species.
In this instance 256 flowers were crossed in the course of four seasons. I may
mention, as a mere curiosity, that if any one were to raise hybrids between two
trimorphic heterostyled species, he would have to make 90 distinct unions in
order to ascertain their fertility in all ways; and as he would have to try at
least 10 flowers in each case, he would be compelled to fertilise 900 flowers
and count their seeds. This would probably exhaust the patience of the most
patient man.

TABLE 2.14. Crosses inter se between the two forms of the common Oxlip.

Column 1: Illegitimate union.
Short-styled oxlip, by pollen of short-styled oxlip: 20 flowers fertilised, did
not produce one capsule.

Column 2: Legitimate union.
Short-styled oxlip, by pollen of long-styled oxlip: 10 flowers fertilised, did
not produce one capsule.

Column 3: Illegitimate union.
Long-styled oxlip, by its own pollen: 24 flowers fertilised, produced five
capsules, containing 6, 10, 20, 8, and 14 seeds. Average 11.6.

Column 4: Legitimate union.
Long-styled oxlip, by pollen of short-styled oxlip: 10 flowers fertilised, did
not produce one capsule.

TABLE 2.15. Both forms of the Oxlip crossed with Pollen of both forms of the
Cowslip, P. veris.

Column 1: Illegitimate union.
Short-styled oxlip, by pollen of short-styled cowslip: 18 flowers fertilised,
did not produce one capsule.

Column 2: Legitimate union.
Short-styled oxlip, by pollen of long-styled cowslip: 18 flowers fertilised,
produced three capsules, containing 7, 3, and 3 wretched seeds, apparently
incapable of germination.

Column 3: Illegitimate union.
Long-styled oxlip, by pollen of long-styled cowslip: 11 flowers fertilised,
produced one capsule, containing 13 wretched seeds.

Column 4: Legitimate union.
Long-styled oxlip, by pollen of short-styled cowslip: 5 flowers fertilised,
produced two capsules, containing 21 and 28 very fine seeds.

TABLE 2.16. Both forms of the Oxlip crossed with Pollen of both forms of the
Primrose, P. vulgaris.

Column 1: Illegitimate union.
Short-styled oxlip, by pollen of short-styled primrose: 34 flowers fertilised,
produced two capsules, containing 5 and 12 seeds.

Column 2: Legitimate union.
Short-styled oxlip, by pollen of long-styled primrose: 26 flowers fertilised,
produced six capsules, containing 16, 20, 5, 10, 19, and 24 seeds. Average 15.7.
Many of the seeds very poor, some good.

Column 3: Illegitimate union.
Long-styled oxlip, by pollen of long-styled primrose: 11 flowers fertilised,
produced four capsules, containing 10, 7, 5, and 6 wretched seeds. Average 7.0.

Column 4: Legitimate union.
Long-styled oxlip, by pollen of short-styled primrose: 5 flowers fertilised,
produced five capsules, containing 26, 32, 23, 28, and 34 seeds. Average 28.6.

TABLE 2.17. Both forms of the Cowslip crossed with Pollen of both forms of the
Oxlip.

Column 1: Illegitimate union.
Short-styled cowslip, by pollen of short-styled oxlip: 8 flowers fertilised, did
not produce one capsule.

Column 2: Legitimate union.
Long-styled cowslip, by pollen of short-styled oxlip: 8 flowers fertilised,
produced one capsule, containing 26 seeds.

Column 3: Illegitimate union.
Long-styled cowslip, by pollen of long-styled oxlip: 8 flowers fertilised,
produced three capsules, containing 5, 6 and 14 seeds. Average 8.3.

Column 4: Legitimate union.
Short-styled cowslip, by pollen of long-styled oxlip: 8 flowers fertilised,
produced 8 capsules, containing 58, 38, 31, 44, 23, 26, 37, and 66 seeds.
Average 40.4.

TABLE 2.18. Both forms of the Primrose crossed with Pollen of both forms of the
Oxlip.

Column 1: Illegitimate union.
Short-styled primrose, by pollen of short-styled oxlip: 8 flowers fertilised,
did not produce one capsule.

Column 2: Legitimate union.
Long-styled primrose, by pollen of short-styled oxlip: 8 flowers fertilised,
produced two capsules, containing 5 and 2 seeds.

Column 3: Illegitimate union.
Long-styled primrose, by pollen of long-styled oxlip: 8 flowers fertilised,
produced 8 capsules, containing 15, 7, 12, 20, 22, 7, 16, and 13 seeds. Average
14.0.

Column 4: Legitimate union.
Short-styled primrose, by pollen of long-styled oxlip: 8 flowers fertilised,
produced 4 capsules, containing 52, 52, 42, and 49 seeds, some good and some
bad. Average 48.7.

We see in Tables 2/14 to 2/18 the number of capsules and of seeds produced, by
crossing both forms of the oxlip in a legitimate and illegitimate manner with
one another, and with the two forms of the primrose and cowslip. I may premise
that the pollen of two of the short-styled oxlips consisted of nothing but
minute aborted whitish cells; but in the third short-styled plant about one-
fifth of the grains appeared in a sound condition. Hence it is not surprising
that neither the short-styled nor the long-styled oxlip produced a single seed
when fertilised with this pollen. Nor did the pure cowslips or primroses when
illegitimately fertilised with it; but when thus legitimately fertilised they
yielded a few good seeds. The female organs of the short-styled oxlips, though
greatly deteriorated in power, were in a rather better condition than the male
organs; for though the short-styled oxlips yielded no seed when fertilised by
the long-styled oxlips, and hardly any when illegitimately fertilised by pure
cowslips or primroses, yet when legitimately fertilised by these latter species,
especially by the long-styled primrose, they yielded a moderate supply of good
seed.

The long-styled oxlip was more fertile than the three short-styled oxlips, and
about half its pollen-grains appeared sound. It bore no seed when legitimately
fertilised by the short-styled oxlips; but this no doubt was due to the badness
of the pollen of the latter; for when illegitimately fertilised (Table 2.14) by
its own pollen it produced some good seeds, though much fewer than self-
fertilised cowslips or primroses would have produced. The long-styled oxlip
likewise yielded a very low average of seed, as may be seen in the third
compartment of Tables 2.15 to 2.18, when illegitimately fertilised by, and when
illegitimately fertilising, pure cowslips and primroses. The four corresponding
legitimate unions, however, were moderately fertile, and one (namely that
between a short-styled cowslip and the long-styled oxlip in Table 2.17) was
nearly as fertile as if both parents had been pure. A short-styled primrose
legitimately fertilised by the long-styled oxlip (Table 2.18) also yielded a
moderately good average, namely 48.7 seeds; but if this short-styled primrose
had been fertilised by a long-styled primrose it would have yielded an average
of 65 seeds. If we take the ten legitimate unions together, and the ten
illegitimate unions together, we shall find that 29 per cent of the flowers
fertilised in a legitimate manner yielded capsules, these containing on an
average 27.4 good and bad seeds; whilst only 15 per cent of the flowers
fertilised in an illegitimate manner yielded capsules, these containing on an
average only 11.0 good and bad seeds.

In a previous part of this chapter it was shown that illegitimate crosses
between the long-styled form of the primrose and the long-styled cowslip, and
between the short-styled primrose and short-styled cowslip, are more sterile
than legitimate crosses between these two species; and we now see that the same
rule holds good almost invariably with their hybrid offspring, whether these are
crossed inter se, or with either parent-species; so that in this particular
case, but not as we shall presently see in other cases, the same rule prevails
with the pure unions between the two forms of the same heterostyled species,
with crosses between two distinct heterostyled species, and with their hybrid
offspring.

Seeds from the long-styled oxlip fertilised by its own pollen were sown, and
three long-styled plants raised. The first of these was identical in every
character with its parent. The second bore rather smaller flowers, of a paler
colour, almost like those of the primrose; the scapes were at first single-
flowered, but later in the season a tall thick scape, bearing many flowers, like
that of the parent oxlip, was thrown up. The third plant likewise produced at
first only single-flowered scapes, with the flowers rather small and of a darker
yellow; but it perished early. The second plant also died in September; and the
first plant, though all three grew under very favourable conditions, looked very
sickly. Hence we may infer that seedlings from self-fertilised oxlips would
hardly be able to exist in a state of nature. I was surprised to find that all
the pollen-grains in the first of these seedling oxlips appeared sound; and in
the second only a moderate number were bad. These two plants, however, had not
the power of producing a proper number of seeds; for though left uncovered and
surrounded by pure primroses and cowslips, the capsules were estimated to
include an average of only from fifteen to twenty seeds.

From having many experiments in hand, I did not sow the seed obtained by
crossing both forms of the primrose and cowslip with both forms of the oxlip,
which I now regret; but I ascertained an interesting point, namely, the
character of the offspring from oxlips growing in a state of nature near both
primroses and cowslips. The oxlips were the same plants which, after their seeds
had been collected, were transplanted and experimented on. From the seeds thus
obtained eight plants were raised, which, when they flowered, might have been
mistaken for pure primroses; but on close comparison the eye in the centre of
the corolla was seen to be of a darker yellow, and the peduncles more elongated.
As the season advanced, one of these plants threw up two naked scapes, 7 inches
in height, which bore umbels of flowers of the same character as before. This
fact led me to examine the other plants after they had flowered and were dug up;
and I found that the flower-peduncles of all sprung from an extremely short
common scape, of which no trace can be found in the pure primrose. Hence these
plants are beautifully intermediate between the oxlip and the primrose,
inclining rather towards the latter; and we may safely conclude that the parent
oxlips had been fertilised by the surrounding primroses.

From the various facts now given, there can be no doubt that the common oxlip is
a hybrid between the cowslip (P. veris, Brit. Fl.) and the primrose (P.
vulgaris, Brit. Fl.), as has been surmised by several botanists. It is probable
that oxlips may be produced either from the cowslip or the primrose as the seed-
bearer, but oftenest from the latter, as I judge from the nature of the stations
in which oxlips are generally found (2/13. See also on this head Hardwicke’s
‘Science Gossip’ 1867 pages 114, 137.), and from the primrose when crossed by
the cowslip being more fertile than, conversely, the cowslip by the primrose.
The hybrids themselves are also rather more fertile when crossed with the
primrose than with the cowslip. Whichever may be the seed-bearing plant, the
cross is probably between different forms of the two species; for we have seen
that legitimate hybrid unions are more fertile than illegitimate hybrid unions.
Moreover a friend in Surrey found that 29 oxlips which grew in the neighbourhood
of his house consisted of 13 long-styled and 16 short-styled plants; now, if the
parent-plants had been illegitimately united, either the long- or short-styled
form would have greatly preponderated, as we shall hereafter see good reason to
believe. The case of the oxlip is interesting; for hardly any other instance is
known of a hybrid spontaneously arising in such large numbers over so wide an
extent of country. The common oxlip (not the P. elatior of Jacq.) is found
almost everywhere throughout England, where both cowslips and primroses grow. In
some districts, as I have seen near Hartfield in Sussex and in parts of Surrey,
specimens may be found on the borders of almost every field and small wood. In
other districts the oxlip is comparatively rare: near my own residence I have
found, during the last twenty-five years, not more than five or six plants or
groups of plants. It is difficult to conjecture what is the cause of this
difference in their number. It is almost necessary that a plant, or several
plants belonging to the same form, of one parent-species, should grow near the
opposite form of the other parent-species; and it is further necessary that both
species should be frequented by the same kind of insect, no doubt a moth. The
cause of the rare appearance of the oxlip in certain districts may be the rarity
of some moth, which in other districts habitually visits both the primrose and
cowslip.

Finally, as the cowslip and primrose differ in the various characters above
specified,–as they are in a high degree sterile when intercrossed,–as there is
no trustworthy evidence that either species, when uncrossed, has ever given
birth to the other species or to any intermediate form,–and as the intermediate
forms which are often found in a state of nature have been shown to be more or
less sterile hybrids of the first or second generation,–we must for the future
look at the cowslip and primrose as good and true species.

Primula elatior, Jacq., or the Bardfield Oxlip, is found in England only in two
or three of the eastern counties. On the Continent it has a somewhat different
range from that of the cowslip and primrose; and it inhabits some districts
where neither of these species live. (2/14. For England, see Hewett C. Watson
‘Cybele Britannica’ volume 2 1849 page 292. For the Continent, see Lecoq
‘Geograph. Botanique de l’Europe’ tome 8 1858 page 142. For the Alps see ‘Annals
and Magazine of Natural History’ volume 9 1842 pages 156 and 515.) In general
appearance it differs so much from the common oxlip, that no one accustomed to
see both forms in the living state could afterwards confound them; but there is
scarcely more than a single character by which they can be distinctly defined,
namely, their linear-oblong capsules equalling the calyx in length. (2/15.
Babington ‘Manual of British Botany’ 1851 page 258.) The capsules when mature
differ conspicuously, owing to their length, from those of the cowslip and
primrose. With respect to the fertility of the two forms when these are united
in the four possible methods, they behave like the other heterostyled species of
the genus, but differ somewhat (see Tables 1.8 and 1.12.) in the smaller
proportion of the illegitimately fertilised flowers which set capsules. That P.
elatior is not a hybrid is certain, for when the two forms were legitimately
united they yielded the large average of 47.1 seeds, and when illegitimately
united 35.5 per capsule; whereas, of the four possible unions (Table 2.14)
between the two forms of the common oxlip which we know to be a hybrid, one
alone yielded any seed; and in this case the average number was only 11.6 per
capsule. Moreover I could not detect a single bad pollen-grain in the anthers of
the short-styled P. elatior; whilst in two short-styled plants of the common
oxlip all the grains were bad, as were a large majority in a third plant. As the
common oxlip is a hybrid between the primrose and cowslip, it is not surprising
that eight long-styled flowers of the primrose, fertilised by pollen from the
long-styled common oxlip, produced eight capsules (Table 1.18), containing,
however, only a low average of seeds; whilst the same number of flowers of the
primrose, similarly fertilised by the long-styled Bardfield oxlip, produced only
a single capsule; this latter plant being an altogether distinct species from
the primrose. Plants of P. elatior have been propagated by seed in a garden for
twenty-five years, and have kept all this time quite constant, excepting that in
some cases the flowers varied a little in size and tint. (2/16. See Mr. H.
Doubleday in the ‘Gardener’s Chronicle’ 1867 page 435, also Mr. W. Marshall
ibid. page 462.) Nevertheless, according to Mr. H.C. Watson and Dr. Bromfield
(2/17. ‘Phytologist’ volume 1 page 1001 and volume 3 page 695.), plants may be
occasionally found in a state of nature, in which most of the characters by
which this species can be distinguished from P. veris and vulgaris fail; but
such intermediate forms are probably due to hybridisation; for Kerner states, in
the paper before referred to, that hybrids sometimes, though rarely, arise in
the Alps between P. elatior and veris.

Finally, although we may freely admit that Primula veris, vulgaris, and elatior,
as well as all the other species of the genus, are descended from a common
primordial form, yet from the facts above given, we must conclude that these
three forms are now as fixed in character as are many others which are
universally ranked as true species. Consequently they have as good a right to
receive distinct specific names as have, for instance, the ass, quagga, and
zebra.

Mr. Scott has arrived at some interesting results by crossing other heterostyled
species of Primula. (2/18. ‘Journal of the Linnean Society Botany’ volume 8 1864
page 93 to end.) I have already alluded to his statement, that in four instances
(not to mention others) a species when crossed with a distinct one yielded a
larger number of seeds than the same species fertilised illegitimately with its
own-form pollen, though taken from a distinct plant. It has long been known from
the researches of Kolreuter and Gartner, that two species when crossed
reciprocally sometimes differ as widely as is possible in their fertility: thus
A when crossed with the pollen of B will yield a large number of seeds, whilst B
may be crossed repeatedly with pollen of A, and will never yield a single seed.
Now Mr. Scott shows in several cases that the same law holds good when two
heterostyled species of Primula are intercrossed, or when one is crossed with a
homostyled species. But the results are much more complicated than with ordinary
plants, as two heterostyled dimorphic species can be intercrossed in eight
different ways. I will give one instance from Mr. Scott. The long-styled P.
hirsuta fertilised legitimately and illegitimately with pollen from the two
forms of P. auricula, and reciprocally the long-styled P. auricula fertilised
legitimately and illegitimately with pollen from the two forms of P. hirsuta,
did not produce a single seed. Nor did the short-styled P. hirsuta when
fertilised legitimately and illegitimately with the pollen of the two forms of
P. auricula. On the other hand, the short-styled P. auricula fertilised with
pollen from the long-styled P. hirsuta yielded capsules containing on an average
no less than 56 seeds; and the short-styled P. auricula by pollen of the short-
styled P. hirsuta yielded capsules containing on an average 42 seeds per
capsule. So that out of the eight possible unions between the two forms of these
two species, six were utterly barren, and two fairly fertile. We have seen also
the same sort of extraordinary irregularity in the results of my twenty
different crosses (Tables 2.14 to 2.18), between the two forms of the oxlip,
primrose, and cowslip. Mr. Scott remarks, with respect to the results of his
trials, that they are very surprising, as they show us that “the sexual forms of
a species manifest in their respective powers for conjunction with those of
another species, physiological peculiarities which might well entitle them, by
the criterion of fertility, to specific distinction.”

Finally, although P. veris and vulgaris, when crossed legitimately, and
especially when their hybrid offspring are crossed in this manner with both
parent-species, were decidedly more fertile, than when crossed in an
illegitimate manner, and although the legitimate cross effected by Mr. Scott
between P. auricula and hirsuta was more fertile, in the ratio of 56 to 42, than
the illegitimate cross, nevertheless it is very doubtful, from the extreme
irregularity of the results in the various other hybrid crosses made by Mr.
Scott, whether it can be predicted that two heterostyled species are generally
more fertile if crossed legitimately (i.e. when opposite forms are united) than
when crossed illegitimately.

SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE ON SOME WILD HYBRID VERBASCUMS.

In an early part of this chapter I remarked that few other instances could be
given of a hybrid spontaneously arising in such large numbers, and over so wide
an extent of country, as that of the common oxlip; but perhaps the number of
well-ascertained cases of naturally produced hybrid willows is equally great.
(2/19. Max Wichura ‘Die Bastardbefruchtung etc. der Weiden’ 1865.) Numerous
spontaneous hybrids between several species of Cistus, found near Narbonne, have
been carefully described by M. Timbal-Lagrave (2/20. ‘Mem. de l’Acad. des
Sciences de Toulouse’ 5e serie tome 5 page 28.), and many hybrids between an
Aceras and Orchis have been observed by Dr. Weddell. (2/21. ‘Annales des Sc.
Nat.’ 3e serie Bot. tome 18 page 6.) In the genus Verbascum, hybrids are
supposed to have often originated in a state of nature (2/22. See for instance
the ‘English Flora’ by Sir J.E. Smith 1824 volume 1 page 307.); some of these
undoubtedly are hybrids, and several hybrids have originated in gardens; but
most of these cases require, as Gartner remarks, verification. (2/23. See
Gartner ‘Bastarderzeugung’ 1849 page 590.) Hence the following case is worth
recording, more especially as the two species in question, V. thapsus and
lychnitis, are perfectly fertile when insects are excluded, showing that the
stigma of each flower receives its own pollen. Moreover the flowers offer only
pollen to insects, and have not been rendered attractive to them by secreting
nectar.

I transplanted a young wild plant into my garden for experimental purposes, and
when it flowered it plainly differed from the two species just mentioned and
from a third which grows in this neighbourhood. I thought that it was a strange
variety of V. thapsus. It attained the height (by measurement) of 8 feet! It was
covered with a net, and ten flowers were fertilised with pollen from the same
plant; later in the season, when uncovered, the flowers were freely visited by
pollen-collecting bees; nevertheless, although many capsules were produced, not
one contained a single seed. During the following year this same plant was left
uncovered near plants of V. thapsus and lychnitis; but again it did not produce
a single seed. Four flowers, however, which were repeatedly fertilised with
pollen of V. lychnitis, whilst the plant was temporarily kept under a net,
produced four capsules, which contained five, one, two, and two seeds; at the
same time three flowers were fertilised with pollen of V. thapsus, and these
produced two, two, and three seeds. To show how unproductive these seven
capsules were, I may state that a fine capsule from a plant of V. thapsus
growing close by contained above 700 seeds. These facts led me to search the
moderately-sized field whence my plant had been removed, and I found in it many
plants of V. thapsus and lychnitis as well as thirty-three plants intermediate
in character between these two species. These thirty-three plants differed much
from one another. In the branching of the stem they more closely resembled V.
lychnitis than V. thapsus, but in height the latter species. In the shape of
their leaves they often closely approached V. lychnitis, but some had leaves
extremely woolly on the upper surface and decurrent like those of V. thapsus;
yet the degree of woolliness and of decurrency did not always go together. In
the petals being flat and remaining open, and in the manner in which the anthers
of the longer stamens were attached to the filaments, these plants all took more
after V. lychnitis than V. thapsus. In the yellow colour of the corolla they all
resembled the latter species. On the whole, these plants appeared to take rather
more after V. lychnitis than V. thapsus. On the supposition that they were
hybrids, it is not an anomalous circumstance that they should all have produced
yellow flowers; for Gartner crossed white and yellow-flowered varieties of
Verbascum, and the offspring thus produced never bore flowers of an intermediate
tint, but either pure white or pure yellow flowers, generally of the latter
colour. (2/24. ‘Bastardzeugung’ page 307.)

My observations were made in the autumn; so that I was able to collect some
half-matured capsules from twenty of the thirty-three intermediate plants, and
likewise capsules of the pure V. lychnitis and thapsus growing in the same
field. All the latter were filled with perfect but immature seeds, whilst the
capsules of the twenty intermediate plants did not contain one single perfect
seed. These plants, consequently, were absolutely barren. From this fact,–from
the one plant which was transplanted into my garden yielding when artificially
fertilised with pollen from V. lychnitis and thapsus some seeds, though
extremely few in number,–from the circumstance of the two pure species growing
in the same field,–and from the intermediate character of the sterile plants,
there can be no doubt that they were hybrids. Judging from the position in which
they were chiefly found, I am inclined to believe they were descended from V.
thapsus as the seed-bearer, and V. lychnitis as the pollen-bearer.

It is known that many species of Verbascum, when the stem is jarred or struck by
a stick, cast off their flowers. (2/25. This was first observed by Correa de
Serra: see Sir J.E. Smith’s ‘English Flora’ 1824 volume 1 page 311; also ‘Life
of Sir J.E. Smith’ volume 2 page 210. I was guided to these references by the
Reverend W.A. Leighton, who observed this same phenomenon with V. virgatum.)
This occurs with V. thapsus, as I have repeatedly observed. The corolla first
separates from its attachment, and then the sepals spontaneously bend inwards so
as to clasp the ovarium, pushing off the corolla by their movement, in the
course of two or three minutes. Nothing of this kind takes place with young
barely expanded flowers. With Verbascum lychnitis and, as I believe, V.
phoeniceum the corolla is not cast off, however often and severely the stem may
be struck. In this curious property the above-described hybrids took after V.
thapsus; for I observed, to my surprise, that when I pulled off the flower-buds
round the flowers which I wished to mark with a thread, the slight jar
invariably caused the corollas to fall off.

These hybrids are interesting under several points of view. First, from the
number found in various parts of the same moderately-sized field. That they owed
their origin to insects flying from flower to flower, whilst collecting pollen,
there can be no doubt. Although insects thus rob the flowers of a most precious
substance, yet they do great good; for, as I have elsewhere shown, the seedlings
of V. thapsus raised from flowers fertilised with pollen from another plant, are
more vigorous than those raised from self-fertilised flowers. (2/26. ‘The
Effects of Cross and Self-fertilisation’ 1876 page 89.) But in this particular
instance the insects did great harm, as they led to the production of utterly
barren plants. Secondly, these hybrids are remarkable from differing much from
one another in many of their characters; for hybrids of the first generation, if
raised from uncultivated plants, are generally uniform in character. That these
hybrids belonged to the first generation we may safely conclude, from the
absolute sterility of all those observed by me in a state of nature and of the
one plant in my garden, excepting when artificially and repeatedly fertilised
with pure pollen, and then the number of seeds produced was extremely small. As
these hybrids varied so much, an almost perfectly graduated series of forms,
connecting together the two widely distinct parent-species, could easily have
been selected. This case, like that of the common oxlip, shows that botanists
ought to be cautious in inferring the specific identity of two forms from the
presence of intermediate gradations; nor would it be easy in the many cases in
which hybrids are moderately fertile to detect a slight degree of sterility in
such plants growing in a state of nature and liable to be fertilised by either
parent-species. Thirdly and lastly, these hybrids offer an excellent
illustration of a statement made by that admirable observer Gartner, namely,
that although plants which can be crossed with ease generally produce fairly
fertile offspring, yet well-pronounced exceptions to this rule occur; and here
we have two species of Verbascum which evidently cross with the greatest ease,
but produce hybrids which are excessively sterile.

The Descent Of Man

Chapter I

 

THE EVIDENCE OF THE DESCENT OF MAN FROM SOME LOWER FORM.

Nature of the evidence bearing on the origin of man–Homologous structures
in man and the lower animals–Miscellaneous points of correspondence–
Development–Rudimentary structures, muscles, sense-organs, hair, bones,
reproductive organs, etc.–The bearing of these three great classes of
facts on the origin of man.

He who wishes to decide whether man is the modified descendant of some pre-
existing form, would probably first enquire whether man varies, however
slightly, in bodily structure and in mental faculties; and if so, whether
the variations are transmitted to his offspring in accordance with the laws
which prevail with the lower animals. Again, are the variations the
result, as far as our ignorance permits us to judge, of the same general
causes, and are they governed by the same general laws, as in the case of
other organisms; for instance, by correlation, the inherited effects of use
and disuse, etc.? Is man subject to similar malconformations, the result
of arrested development, of reduplication of parts, etc., and does he
display in any of his anomalies reversion to some former and ancient type
of structure? It might also naturally be enquired whether man, like so
many other animals, has given rise to varieties and sub-races, differing
but slightly from each other, or to races differing so much that they must
be classed as doubtful species? How are such races distributed over the
world; and how, when crossed, do they react on each other in the first and
succeeding generations? And so with many other points.

The enquirer would next come to the important point, whether man tends to
increase at so rapid a rate, as to lead to occasional severe struggles for
existence; and consequently to beneficial variations, whether in body or
mind, being preserved, and injurious ones eliminated. Do the races or
species of men, whichever term may be applied, encroach on and replace one
another, so that some finally become extinct? We shall see that all these
questions, as indeed is obvious in respect to most of them, must be
answered in the affirmative, in the same manner as with the lower animals.
But the several considerations just referred to may be conveniently
deferred for a time: and we will first see how far the bodily structure of
man shews traces, more or less plain, of his descent from some lower form.
In succeeding chapters the mental powers of man, in comparison with those
of the lower animals, will be considered.

THE BODILY STRUCTURE OF MAN.

It is notorious that man is constructed on the same general type or model
as other mammals. All the bones in his skeleton can be compared with
corresponding bones in a monkey, bat, or seal. So it is with his muscles,
nerves, blood-vessels and internal viscera. The brain, the most important
of all the organs, follows the same law, as shewn by Huxley and other
anatomists. Bischoff (1. ‘Grosshirnwindungen des Menschen,’ 1868, s. 96.
The conclusions of this author, as well as those of Gratiolet and Aeby,
concerning the brain, will be discussed by Prof. Huxley in the Appendix
alluded to in the Preface to this edition.), who is a hostile witness,
admits that every chief fissure and fold in the brain of man has its
analogy in that of the orang; but he adds that at no period of development
do their brains perfectly agree; nor could perfect agreement be expected,
for otherwise their mental powers would have been the same. Vulpian (2.
‘Lec. sur la Phys.’ 1866, page 890, as quoted by M. Dally, ‘L’Ordre des
Primates et le Transformisme,’ 1868, page 29.), remarks: “Les differences
reelles qui existent entre l’encephale de l’homme et celui des singes
superieurs, sont bien minimes. Il ne faut pas se faire d’illusions a cet
egard. L’homme est bien plus pres des singes anthropomorphes par les
caracteres anatomiques de son cerveau que ceux-ci ne le sont non seulement
des autres mammiferes, mais meme de certains quadrumanes, des guenons et
des macaques.” But it would be superfluous here to give further details on
the correspondence between man and the higher mammals in the structure of
the brain and all other parts of the body.

It may, however, be worth while to specify a few points, not directly or
obviously connected with structure, by which this correspondence or
relationship is well shewn.

Man is liable to receive from the lower animals, and to communicate to
them, certain diseases, as hydrophobia,

Hydrophobia is the fear of drinking or swimming in the water, in short, we can say when someone suffers from fear of water. This psychological condition is the previous term for rabies. Because in the late stage of this deadly disease person finds it difficult to swallow water that is why fears to drink it. click useful source to know more.

variola, the glanders, syphilis,
cholera, herpes, etc. (3. Dr. W. Lauder Lindsay has treated this subject
at some length in the ‘Journal of Mental Science,’ July 1871; and in the
‘Edinburgh Veterinary Review,’ July 1858.); and this fact proves the close
similarity (4. A Reviewer has criticised (‘British Quarterly Review,’ Oct.
1st, 1871, page 472) what I have here said with much severity and contempt;
but as I do not use the term identity, I cannot see that I am greatly in
error. There appears to me a strong analogy between the same infection or
contagion producing the same result, or one closely similar, in two
distinct animals, and the testing of two distinct fluids by the same
chemical reagent.) of their tissues and blood, both in minute structure and
composition, far more plainly than does their comparison under the best
microscope, or by the aid of the best chemical analysis. Monkeys are
liable to many of the same non-contagious diseases as we are; thus Rengger
(5. ‘Naturgeschichte der Saugethiere von Paraguay,’ 1830, s. 50.), who
carefully observed for a long time the Cebus Azarae in its native land,
found it liable to catarrh, with the usual symptoms, and which, when often
recurrent, led to consumption. These monkeys suffered also from apoplexy,
inflammation of the bowels, and cataract in the eye. The younger ones when
shedding their milk-teeth often died from fever. Medicines produced the
same effect on them as on us. Many kinds of monkeys have a strong taste
for tea, coffee, and spiritous liquors: they will also, as I have myself
seen, smoke tobacco with pleasure. (6. The same tastes are common to some
animals much lower in the scale. Mr. A. Nichols informs me that he kept in
Queensland, in Australia, three individuals of the Phaseolarctus cinereus;
and that, without having been taught in any way, they acquired a strong
taste for rum, and for smoking tobacco.) Brehm asserts that the natives of
north-eastern Africa catch the wild baboons by exposing vessels with strong
beer, by which they are made drunk. He has seen some of these animals,
which he kept in confinement, in this state; and he gives a laughable
account of their behaviour and strange grimaces. On the following morning
they were very cross and dismal; they held their aching heads with both
hands, and wore a most pitiable expression: when beer or wine was offered
them, they turned away with disgust, but relished the juice of lemons. (7.
Brehm, ‘Thierleben,’ B. i. 1864, s. 75, 86. On the Ateles, s. 105. For
other analogous statements, see s. 25, 107.) An American monkey, an
Ateles, after getting drunk on brandy, would never touch it again, and thus
was wiser than many men. These trifling facts prove how similar the nerves
of taste must be in monkeys and man, and how similarly their whole nervous
system is affected.

Man is infested with internal parasites, sometimes causing fatal effects;
and is plagued by external parasites, all of which belong to the same
genera or families as those infesting other mammals, and in the case of
scabies to the same species. (8. Dr. W. Lauder Lindsay, ‘Edinburgh Vet.
Review,’ July 1858, page 13.) Man is subject, like other mammals, birds,
and even insects (9. With respect to insects see Dr. Laycock, “On a
General Law of Vital Periodicity,” ‘British Association,’ 1842. Dr.
Macculloch, ‘Silliman’s North American Journal of Science,’ vol. XVII. page
305, has seen a dog suffering from tertian ague. Hereafter I shall return
to this subject.), to that mysterious law, which causes certain normal
processes, such as gestation, as well as the maturation and duration of
various diseases, to follow lunar periods. His wounds are repaired by the
same process of healing; and the stumps left after the amputation of his
limbs, especially during an early embryonic period, occasionally possess
some power of regeneration, as in the lowest animals. (10. I have given
the evidence on this head in my ‘Variation of Animals and Plants under
Domestication,’ vol. ii. page 15, and more could be added.)

The whole process of that most important function, the reproduction of the
species, is strikingly the same in all mammals, from the first act of
courtship by the male (11. Mares e diversis generibus Quadrumanorum sine
dubio dignoscunt feminas humanas a maribus. Primum, credo, odoratu, postea
aspectu. Mr. Youatt, qui diu in Hortis Zoologicis (Bestiariis) medicus
animalium erat, vir in rebus observandis cautus et sagax, hoc mihi
certissime probavit, et curatores ejusdem loci et alii e ministris
confirmaverunt. Sir Andrew Smith et Brehm notabant idem in Cynocephalo.
Illustrissimus Cuvier etiam narrat multa de hac re, qua ut opinor, nihil
turpius potest indicari inter omnia hominibus et Quadrumanis communia.
Narrat enim Cynocephalum quendam in furorem incidere aspectu feminarum
aliquarem, sed nequaquam accendi tanto furore ab omnibus. Semper eligebat
juniores, et dignoscebat in turba, et advocabat voce gestuque.), to the
birth and nurturing of the young. Monkeys are born in almost as helpless a
condition as our own infants; and in certain genera the young differ fully
as much in appearance from the adults, as do our children from their
full-grown parents. (12. This remark is made with respect to Cynocephalus
and the anthropomorphous apes by Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and F. Cuvier,
‘Histoire Nat. des Mammiferes,’ tom. i. 1824.) It has been urged by some
writers, as an important distinction, that with man the young arrive at
maturity at a much later age than with any other animal: but if we look to
the races of mankind which inhabit tropical countries the difference is not
great, for the orang is believed not to be adult till the age of from ten
to fifteen years. (13. Huxley, ‘Man’s Place in Nature,’ 1863, p. 34.)
Man differs from woman in size, bodily strength, hairiness, etc., as well
as in mind, in the same manner as do the two sexes of many mammals. So
that the correspondence in general structure, in the minute structure of
the tissues, in chemical composition and in constitution, between man and
the higher animals, especially the anthropomorphous apes, is extremely
close.

EMBRYONIC DEVELOPMENT.

[Fig. 1. Shows a human embryo, from Ecker, and a dog embryo, from
Bischoff. Labelled in each are:

a. Fore-brain, cerebral hemispheres, etc.
b. Mid-brain, corpora quadrigemina.
c. Hind-brain, cerebellum, medulla oblongata.
d. Eye.
e. Ear.
f. First visceral arch.
g. Second visceral arch.
H. Vertebral columns and muscles in process of development.
i. Anterior extremities.
K. Posterior extremities.
L. Tail or os coccyx.]

Man is developed from an ovule, about the 125th of an inch in diameter,
which differs in no respect from the ovules of other animals. The embryo
itself at a very early period can hardly be distinguished from that of
other members of the vertebrate kingdom. At this period the arteries run
in arch-like branches, as if to carry the blood to branchiae which are not
present in the higher Vertebrata, though the slits on the sides of the neck
still remain (see f, g, fig. 1), marking their former position. At a
somewhat later period, when the extremities are developed, “the feet of
lizards and mammals,” as the illustrious Von Baer remarks, “the wings and
feet of birds, no less than the hands and feet of man, all arise from the
same fundamental form.” It is, says Prof. Huxley (14. ‘Man’s Place in
Nature,’ 1863, p. 67.), “quite in the later stages of development that the
young human being presents marked differences from the young ape, while the
latter departs as much from the dog in its developments, as the man does.
Startling as this last assertion may appear to be, it is demonstrably
true.”

As some of my readers may never have seen a drawing of an embryo, I have
given one of man and another of a dog, at about the same early stage of
development, carefully copied from two works of undoubted accuracy. (15.
The human embryo (upper fig.) is from Ecker, ‘Icones Phys.,’ 1851-1859,
tab. xxx. fig. 2. This embryo was ten lines in length, so that the drawing
is much magnified. The embryo of the dog is from Bischoff,
‘Entwicklungsgeschichte des Hunde-Eies,’ 1845, tab. xi. fig. 42B. This
drawing is five times magnified, the embryo being twenty-five days old.
The internal viscera have been omitted, and the uterine appendages in both
drawings removed. I was directed to these figures by Prof. Huxley, from
whose work, ‘Man’s Place in Nature,’ the idea of giving them was taken.
Haeckel has also given analogous drawings in his ‘Schopfungsgeschichte.’)

After the foregoing statements made by such high authorities, it would be
superfluous on my part to give a number of borrowed details, shewing that
the embryo of man closely resembles that of other mammals. It may,
however, be added, that the human embryo likewise resembles certain low
forms when adult in various points of structure. For instance, the heart
at first exists as a simple pulsating vessel; the excreta are voided
through a cloacal passage; and the os coccyx projects like a true tail,
“extending considerably beyond the rudimentary legs.” (16. Prof. Wyman in
‘Proceedings of the American Academy of Sciences,’ vol. iv. 1860, p. 17.)
In the embryos of all air-breathing vertebrates, certain glands, called the
corpora Wolffiana, correspond with, and act like the kidneys of mature
fishes. (17. Owen, ‘Anatomy of Vertebrates,’ vol. i. p. 533.) Even at a
later embryonic period, some striking resemblances between man and the
lower animals may be observed. Bischoff says that “the convolutions of the
brain in a human foetus at the end of the seventh month reach about the
same stage of development as in a baboon when adult.” (18. ‘Die
Grosshirnwindungen des Menschen,’ 1868, s. 95.) The great toe, as
Professor Owen remarks (19. ‘Anatomy of Vertebrates,’ vol. ii. p. 553.),
“which forms the fulcrum when standing or walking, is perhaps the most
characteristic peculiarity in the human structure;” but in an embryo, about
an inch in length, Prof. Wyman (20. ‘Proc. Soc. Nat. Hist.’ Boston, 1863,
vol. ix. p. 185.) found “that the great toe was shorter than the others;
and, instead of being parallel to them, projected at an angle from the side
of the foot, thus corresponding with the permanent condition of this part
in the quadrumana.” I will conclude with a quotation from Huxley (21.
‘Man’s Place in Nature,’ p. 65.) who after asking, does man originate in a
different way from a dog, bird, frog or fish? says, “the reply is not
doubtful for a moment; without question, the mode of origin, and the early
stages of the development of man, are identical with those of the animals
immediately below him in the scale: without a doubt in these respects, he
is far nearer to apes than the apes are to the dog.”

RUDIMENTS.

This subject, though not intrinsically more important than the two last,
will for several reasons be treated here more fully. (22. I had written a
rough copy of this chapter before reading a valuable paper, “Caratteri
rudimentali in ordine all’ origine dell’ uomo” (‘Annuario della Soc. d.
Naturalisti,’ Modena, 1867, p. 81), by G. Canestrini, to which paper I am
considerably indebted. Haeckel has given admirable discussions on this
whole subject, under the title of Dysteleology, in his ‘Generelle
Morphologie’ and ‘Schopfungsgeschichte.’) Not one of the higher animals
can be named which does not bear some part in a rudimentary condition; and
man forms no exception to the rule. Rudimentary organs must be
distinguished from those that are nascent; though in some cases the
distinction is not easy. The former are either absolutely useless, such as
the mammae of male quadrupeds, or the incisor teeth of ruminants which
never cut through the gums; or they are of such slight service to their
present possessors, that we can hardly suppose that they were developed
under the conditions which now exist. Organs in this latter state are not
strictly rudimentary, but they are tending in this direction. Nascent
organs, on the other hand, though not fully developed, are of high service
to their possessors, and are capable of further development. Rudimentary
organs are eminently variable; and this is partly intelligible, as they are
useless, or nearly useless, and consequently are no longer subjected to
natural selection. They often become wholly suppressed. When this occurs,
they are nevertheless liable to occasional reappearance through reversion–
a circumstance well worthy of attention.

The chief agents in causing organs to become rudimentary seem to have been
disuse at that period of life when the organ is chiefly used (and this is
generally during maturity), and also inheritance at a corresponding period
of life. The term “disuse” does not relate merely to the lessened action
of muscles, but includes a diminished flow of blood to a part or organ,
from being subjected to fewer alternations of pressure, or from becoming in
any way less habitually active. Rudiments, however, may occur in one sex
of those parts which are normally present in the other sex; and such
rudiments, as we shall hereafter see, have often originated in a way
distinct from those here referred to. In some cases, organs have been
reduced by means of natural selection, from having become injurious to the
species under changed habits of life. The process of reduction is probably
often aided through the two principles of compensation and economy of
growth; but the later stages of reduction, after disuse has done all that
can fairly be attributed to it, and when the saving to be effected by the
economy of growth would be very small (23. Some good criticisms on this
subject have been given by Messrs. Murie and Mivart, in ‘Transact.
Zoological Society,’ 1869, vol. vii. p. 92.), are difficult to understand.
The final and complete suppression of a part, already useless and much
reduced in size, in which case neither compensation nor economy can come
into play, is perhaps intelligible by the aid of the hypothesis of
pangenesis. But as the whole subject of rudimentary organs has been
discussed and illustrated in my former works (24. ‘Variation of Animals
and Plants under Domestication,’ vol. ii pp. 317 and 397. See also ‘Origin
of Species,’ 5th Edition p. 535.), I need here say no more on this head.

Rudiments of various muscles have been observed in many parts of the human
body (25. For instance, M. Richard (‘Annales des Sciences Nat.,’ 3rd
series, Zoolog. 1852, tom. xviii. p. 13) describes and figures rudiments of
what he calls the “muscle pedieux de la main,” which he says is sometimes
“infiniment petit.” Another muscle, called “le tibial posterieur,” is
generally quite absent in the hand, but appears from time to time in a more
or less rudimentary condition.); and not a few muscles, which are regularly
present in some of the lower animals can occasionally be detected in man in
a greatly reduced condition. Every one must have noticed the power which
many animals, especially horses, possess of moving or twitching their skin;
and this is effected by the panniculus carnosus. Remnants of this muscle
in an efficient state are found in various parts of our bodies; for
instance, the muscle on the forehead, by which the eyebrows are raised.
The platysma myoides, which is well developed on the neck, belongs to this
system. Prof. Turner, of Edinburgh, has occasionally detected, as he
informs me, muscular fasciculi in five different situations, namely in the
axillae, near the scapulae, etc., all of which must be referred to the
system of the panniculus. He has also shewn (26. Prof. W. Turner,
‘Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh,’ 1866-67, p. 65.) that the
musculus sternalis or sternalis brutorum, which is not an extension of the
rectus abdominalis, but is closely allied to the panniculus, occurred in
the proportion of about three per cent. in upwards of 600 bodies: he adds,
that this muscle affords “an excellent illustration of the statement that
occasional and rudimentary structures are especially liable to variation in
arrangement.”

Some few persons have the power of contracting the superficial muscles on
their scalps; and these muscles are in a variable and partially rudimentary
condition. M. A. de Candolle has communicated to me a curious instance of
the long-continued persistence or inheritance of this power, as well as of
its unusual development. He knows a family, in which one member, the
present head of the family, could, when a youth, pitch several heavy books
from his head by the movement of the scalp alone; and he won wagers by
performing this feat. His father, uncle, grandfather, and his three
children possess the same power to the same unusual degree. This family
became divided eight generations ago into two branches; so that the head of
the above-mentioned branch is cousin in the seventh degree to the head of
the other branch. This distant cousin resides in another part of France;
and on being asked whether he possessed the same faculty, immediately
exhibited his power. This case offers a good illustration how persistent
may be the transmission of an absolutely useless faculty, probably derived
from our remote semi-human progenitors; since many monkeys have, and
frequently use the power, of largely moving their scalps up and down. (27.
See my ‘Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals,’ 1872, p. 144.)

The extrinsic muscles which serve to move the external ear, and the
intrinsic muscles which move the different parts, are in a rudimentary
condition in man, and they all belong to the system of the panniculus; they
are also variable in development, or at least in function. I have seen one
man who could draw the whole ear forwards; other men can draw it upwards;
another who could draw it backwards (28. Canestrini quotes Hyrtl.
(‘Annuario della Soc. dei Naturalisti,’ Modena, 1867, p. 97) to the same
effect.); and from what one of these persons told me, it is probable that
most of us, by often touching our ears, and thus directing our attention
towards them, could recover some power of movement by repeated trials. The
power of erecting and directing the shell of the ears to the various points
of the compass, is no doubt of the highest service to many animals, as they
thus perceive the direction of danger; but I have never heard, on
sufficient evidence, of a man who possessed this power, the one which might
be of use to him. The whole external shell may be considered a rudiment,
together with the various folds and prominences (helix and anti-helix,
tragus and anti-tragus, etc.) which in the lower animals strengthen and
support the ear when erect, without adding much to its weight. Some
authors, however, suppose that the cartilage of the shell serves to
transmit vibrations to the acoustic nerve; but Mr. Toynbee (29. ‘The
Diseases of the Ear,’ by J. Toynbee, F.R.S., 1860, p. 12. A distinguished
physiologist, Prof. Preyer, informs me that he had lately been
experimenting on the function of the shell of the ear, and has come to
nearly the same conclusion as that given here.), after collecting all the
known evidence on this head, concludes that the external shell is of no
distinct use. The ears of the chimpanzee and orang are curiously like
those of man, and the proper muscles are likewise but very slightly
developed. (30. Prof. A. Macalister, ‘Annals and Magazine of Natural
History,’ vol. vii. 1871, p. 342.) I am also assured by the keepers in the
Zoological Gardens that these animals never move or erect their ears; so
that they are in an equally rudimentary condition with those of man, as far
as function is concerned. Why these animals, as well as the progenitors of
man, should have lost the power of erecting their ears, we cannot say. It
may be, though I am not satisfied with this view, that owing to their
arboreal habits and great strength they were but little exposed to danger,
and so during a lengthened period moved their ears but little, and thus
gradually lost the power of moving them. This would be a parallel case
with that of those large and heavy birds, which, from ihabiting oceanic
islands, have not been exposed to the attacks of beasts of prey, and have
consequently lost the power of using their wings for flight. The inability
to move the ears in man and several apes is, however, partly compensated by
the freedom with which they can move the head in a horizontal plane, so as
to catch sounds from all directions. It has been asserted that the ear of
man alone possesses a lobule; but “a rudiment of it is found in the
gorilla” (31. Mr. St. George Mivart, ‘Elementary Anatomy,’ 1873, p. 396.);
and, as I hear from Prof. Preyer, it is not rarely absent in the negro.

[Fig. 2. Human Ear, modelled and drawn by Mr. Woolner. The projecting
point is labelled a.]

The celebrated sculptor, Mr. Woolner, informs me of one little peculiarity
in the external ear, which he has often observed both in men and women, and
of which he perceived the full significance. His attention was first
called to the subject whilst at work on his figure of Puck, to which he had
given pointed ears. He was thus led to examine the ears of various
monkeys, and subsequently more carefully those of man. The peculiarity
consists in a little blunt point, projecting from the inwardly folded
margin, or helix. When present, it is developed at birth, and, according
to Prof. Ludwig Meyer, more frequently in man than in woman. Mr. Woolner
made an exact model of one such case, and sent me the accompanying drawing.
(Fig. 2). These points not only project inwards towards the centre of the
ear, but often a little outwards from its plane, so as to be visible when
the head is viewed from directly in front or behind. They are variable in
size, and somewhat in position, standing either a little higher or lower;
and they sometimes occur on one ear and not on the other. They are not
confined to mankind, for I observed a case in one of the spider-monkeys
(Ateles beelzebuth) in our Zoological Gardens; and Mr. E. Ray Lankester
informs me of another case in a chimpanzee in the gardens at Hamburg. The
helix obviously consists of the extreme margin of the ear folded inwards;
and this folding appears to be in some manner connected with the whole
external ear being permanently pressed backwards. In many monkeys, which
do not stand high in the order, as baboons and some species of macacus (32.
See also some remarks, and the drawings of the ears of the Lemuroidea, in
Messrs. Murie and Mivart’s excellent paper in ‘Transactions of the
Zoological Society,’ vol. vii. 1869, pp. 6 and 90.), the upper portion of
the ear is slightly pointed, and the margin is not at all folded inwards;
but if the margin were to be thus folded, a slight point would necessarily
project inwards towards the centre, and probably a little outwards from the
plane of the ear; and this I believe to be their origin in many cases. On
the other hand, Prof. L. Meyer, in an able paper recently published (33.
‘Uber das Darwin’sche Spitzohr,’ Archiv fur Path. Anat. und Phys., 1871, p.
485.), maintains that the whole case is one of mere variability; and that
the projections are not real ones, but are due to the internal cartilage on
each side of the points not having been fully developed. I am quite ready
to admit that this is the correct explanation in many instances, as in
those figured by Prof. Meyer, in which there are several minute points, or
the whole margin is sinuous. I have myself seen, through the kindness of
Dr. L. Down, the ear of a microcephalous idiot, on which there is a
projection on the outside of the helix, and not on the inward folded edge,
so that this point can have no relation to a former apex of the ear.
Nevertheless in some cases, my original view, that the points are vestiges
of the tips of formerly erect and pointed ears, still seems to me probable.
I think so from the frequency of their occurrence, and from the general
correspondence in position with that of the tip of a pointed ear. In one
case, of which a photograph has been sent me, the projection is so large,
that supposing, in accordance with Prof. Meyer’s view, the ear to be made
perfect by the equal development of the cartilage throughout the whole
extent of the margin, it would have covered fully one-third of the whole
ear. Two cases have been communicated to me, one in North America, and the
other in England, in which the upper margin is not at all folded inwards,
but is pointed, so that it closely resembles the pointed ear of an ordinary
quadruped in outline. In one of these cases, which was that of a young
child, the father compared the ear with the drawing which I have given (34.
‘The Expression of the Emotions,’ p. 136.) of the ear of a monkey, the
Cynopithecus niger, and says that their outlines are closely similar. If,
in these two cases, the margin had been folded inwards in the normal
manner, an inward projection must have been formed. I may add that in two
other cases the outline still remains somewhat pointed, although the margin
of the upper part of the ear is normally folded inwards–in one of them,
however, very narrowly. [Fig.3. Foetus of an Orang(?). Exact copy of a
photograph, shewing the form of the ear at this early age.] The following
woodcut (No. 3) is an accurate copy of a photograph of the foetus of an
orang (kindly sent me by Dr. Nitsche), in which it may be seen how
different the pointed outline of the ear is at this period from its adult
condition, when it bears a close general resemblance to that of man. It is
evident that the folding over of the tip of such an ear, unless it changed
greatly during its further development, would give rise to a point
projecting inwards. On the whole, it still seems to me probable that the
points in question are in some cases, both in man and apes, vestiges of a
former condition.

The nictitating membrane, or third eyelid, with its accessory muscles and
other structures, is especially well developed in birds, and is of much
functional importance to them, as it can be rapidly drawn across the whole
eye-ball. It is found in some reptiles and amphibians, and in certain
fishes, as in sharks. It is fairly well developed in the two lower
divisions of the mammalian series, namely, in the monotremata and
marsupials, and in some few of the higher mammals, as in the walrus. But
in man, the quadrumana, and most other mammals, it exists, as is admitted
by all anatomists, as a mere rudiment, called the semilunar fold. (35.
Muller’s ‘Elements of Physiology,’ Eng. translat. 1842, vol. ii. p. 1117.
Owen, ‘Anatomy of Vertebrates,’ vol. iii. p. 260; ibid. on the Walrus,
‘Proceedings of the Zoological Society,’ November 8, 1854. See also R.
Knox, ‘Great Artists and Anatomists,’ p. 106. This rudiment apparently is
somewhat larger in Negroes and Australians than in Europeans, see Carl
Vogt, ‘Lectures on Man,’ Eng. translat. p. 129.)

The sense of smell is of the highest importance to the greater number of
mammals–to some, as the ruminants, in warning them of danger; to others,
as the Carnivora, in finding their prey; to others, again, as the wild
boar, for both purposes combined. But the sense of smell is of extremely
slight service, if any, even to the dark coloured races of men, in whom it
is much more highly developed than in the white and civilised races. (36.
The account given by Humboldt of the power of smell possessed by the
natives of South America is well known, and has been confirmed by others.
M. Houzeau (‘Etudes sur les Facultes Mentales,’ etc., tom. i. 1872, p. 91)
asserts that he repeatedly made experiments, and proved that Negroes and
Indians could recognise persons in the dark by their odour. Dr. W. Ogle
has made some curious observations on the connection between the power of
smell and the colouring matter of the mucous membrane of the olfactory
region as well as of the skin of the body. I have, therefore, spoken in
the text of the dark-coloured races having a finer sense of smell than the
white races. See his paper, ‘Medico-Chirurgical Transactions,’ London,
vol. liii. 1870, p. 276.) Nevertheless it does not warn them of danger,
nor guide them to their food; nor does it prevent the Esquimaux from
sleeping in the most fetid atmosphere, nor many savages from eating
half-putrid meat. In Europeans the power differs greatly in different
individuals, as I am assured by an eminent naturalist who possesses this
sense highly developed, and who has attended to the subject. Those who
believe in the principle of gradual evolution, will not readily admit that
the sense of smell in its present state was originally acquired by man, as
he now exists. He inherits the power in an enfeebled and so far
rudimentary condition, from some early progenitor, to whom it was highly
serviceable, and by whom it was continually used. In those animals which
have this sense highly developed, such as dogs and horses, the recollection
of persons and of places is strongly associated with their odour; and we
can thus perhaps understand how it is, as Dr. Maudsley has truly remarked
(37. ‘The Physiology and Pathology of Mind,’ 2nd ed. 1868, p. 134.), that
the sense of smell in man “is singularly effective in recalling vividly the
ideas and images of forgotten scenes and places.”

Man differs conspicuously from all the other primates in being almost
naked. But a few short straggling hairs are found over the greater part of
the body in the man, and fine down on that of the woman. The different
races differ much in hairiness; and in the individuals of the same race the
hairs are highly variable, not only in abundance, but likewise in position:
thus in some Europeans the shoulders are quite naked, whilst in others they
bear thick tufts of hair. (38. Eschricht, Uber die Richtung der Haare am
menschlichen Korper, Muller’s ‘Archiv fur Anat. und Phys.’ 1837, s. 47. I
shall often have to refer to this very curious paper.) There can be little
doubt that the hairs thus scattered over the body are the rudiments of the
uniform hairy coat of the lower animals. This view is rendered all the
more probable, as it is known that fine, short, and pale-coloured hairs on
the limbs and other parts of the body, occasionally become developed into
“thickset, long, and rather coarse dark hairs,” when abnormally nourished
near old-standing inflamed surfaces. (39. Paget, ‘Lectures on Surgical
Pathology,’ 1853, vol. i. p. 71.)

I am informed by Sir James Paget that often several members of a family
have a few hairs in their eyebrows much longer than the others; so that
even this slight peculiarity seems to be inherited. These hairs, too, seem
to have their representatives; for in the chimpanzee, and in certain
species of Macacus, there are scattered hairs of considerable length rising
from the naked skin above the eyes, and corresponding to our eyebrows;
similar long hairs project from the hairy covering of the superciliary
ridges in some baboons.

The fine wool-like hair, or so-called lanugo, with which the human foetus
during the sixth month is thickly covered, offers a more curious case. It
is first developed, during the fifth month, on the eyebrows and face, and
especially round the mouth, where it is much longer than that on the head.
A moustache of this kind was observed by Eschricht (40. Eschricht, ibid.
s. 40, 47.) on a female foetus; but this is not so surprising a
circumstance as it may at first appear, for the two sexes generally
resemble each other in all external characters during an early period of
growth. The direction and arrangement of the hairs on all parts of the
foetal body are the same as in the adult, but are subject to much
variability. The whole surface, including even the forehead and ears, is
thus thickly clothed; but it is a significant fact that the palms of the
hands and the soles of the feet are quite naked, like the inferior surfaces
of all four extremities in most of the lower animals. As this can hardly
be an accidental coincidence, the woolly covering of the foetus probably
represents the first permanent coat of hair in those mammals which are born
hairy. Three or four cases have been recorded of persons born with their
whole bodies and faces thickly covered with fine long hairs; and this
strange condition is strongly inherited, and is correlated with an abnormal
condition of the teeth. (41. See my ‘Variation of Animals and Plants
under Domestication,’ vol. ii. p. 327. Prof. Alex. Brandt has recently
sent me an additional case of a father and son, born in Russia, with these
peculiarities. I have received drawings of both from Paris.) Prof. Alex.
Brandt informs me that he has compared the hair from the face of a man thus
characterised, aged thirty-five, with the lanugo of a foetus, and finds it
quite similar in texture; therefore, as he remarks, the case may be
attributed to an arrest of development in the hair, together with its
continued growth. Many delicate children, as I have been assured by a
surgeon to a hospital for children, have their backs covered by rather long
silky hairs; and such cases probably come under the same head.

It appears as if the posterior molar or wisdom-teeth were tending to become
rudimentary in the more civilised races of man. These teeth are rather
smaller than the other molars, as is likewise the case with the
corresponding teeth in the chimpanzee and orang; and they have only two
separate fangs. They do not cut through the gums till about the
seventeenth year, and I have been assured that they are much more liable to
decay, and are earlier lost than the other teeth; but this is denied by
some eminent dentists. They are also much more liable to vary, both in
structure and in the period of their development, than the other teeth.
(42. Dr. Webb, ‘Teeth in Man and the Anthropoid Apes,’ as quoted by Dr. C.
Carter Blake in Anthropological Review, July 1867, p. 299.) In the
Melanian races, on the other hand, the wisdom-teeth are usually furnished
with three separate fangs, and are generally sound; they also differ from
the other molars in size, less than in the Caucasian races. (43. Owen,
‘Anatomy of Vertebrates,’ vol. iii. pp. 320, 321, and 325.) Prof.
Schaaffhausen accounts for this difference between the races by “the
posterior dental portion of the jaw being always shortened” in those that
are civilised (44. ‘On the Primitive Form of the Skull,’ Eng. translat.,
in ‘Anthropological Review,’ Oct. 1868, p. 426), and this shortening may, I
presume, be attributed to civilised men habitually feeding on soft, cooked
food, and thus using their jaws less. I am informed by Mr. Brace that it
is becoming quite a common practice in the United States to remove some of
the molar teeth of children, as the jaw does not grow large enough for the
perfect development of the normal number. (45. Prof. Montegazza writes to
me from Florence, that he has lately been studying the last molar teeth in
the different races of man, and has come to the same conclusion as that
given in my text, viz., that in the higher or civilised races they are on
the road towards atrophy or elimination.)

With respect to the alimentary canal, I have met with an account of only a
single rudiment, namely the vermiform appendage of the caecum. The caecum
is a branch or diverticulum of the intestine, ending in a cul-de-sac, and
is extremely long in many of the lower vegetable-feeding mammals. In the
marsupial koala it is actually more than thrice as long as the whole body.
(46. Owen, ‘Anatomy of Vertebrates,’ vol. iii. pp. 416, 434, 441.) It is
sometimes produced into a long gradually-tapering point, and is sometimes
constricted in parts. It appears as if, in consequence of changed diet or
habits, the caecum had become much shortened in various animals, the
vermiform appendage being left as a rudiment of the shortened part. That
this appendage is a rudiment, we may infer from its small size, and from
the evidence which Prof. Canestrini (47. ‘Annuario della Soc. d. Nat.’
Modena, 1867, p. 94.) has collected of its variability in man. It is
occasionally quite absent, or again is largely developed. The passage is
sometimes completely closed for half or two-thirds of its length, with the
terminal part consisting of a flattened solid expansion. In the orang this
appendage is long and convoluted: in man it arises from the end of the
short caecum, and is commonly from four to five inches in length, being
only about the third of an inch in diameter. Not only is it useless, but
it is sometimes the cause of death, of which fact I have lately heard two
instances: this is due to small hard bodies, such as seeds, entering the
passage, and causing inflammation. (48. M. C. Martins (“De l’Unite
Organique,” in ‘Revue des Deux Mondes,’ June 15, 1862, p. 16) and Haeckel
(‘Generelle Morphologie,’ B. ii. s. 278), have both remarked on the
singular fact of this rudiment sometimes causing death.)

In some of the lower Quadrumana, in the Lemuridae and Carnivora, as well as
in many marsupials, there is a passage near the lower end of the humerus,
called the supra-condyloid foramen, through which the great nerve of the
fore limb and often the great artery pass. Now in the humerus of man,
there is generally a trace of this passage, which is sometimes fairly well
developed, being formed by a depending hook-like process of bone, completed
by a band of ligament. Dr. Struthers (49. With respect to inheritance,
see Dr. Struthers in the ‘Lancet,’ Feb. 15, 1873, and another important
paper, ibid. Jan. 24, 1863, p. 83. Dr. Knox, as I am informed, was the
first anatomist who drew attention to this peculiar structure in man; see
his ‘Great Artists and Anatomists,’ p. 63. See also an important memoir on
this process by Dr. Gruber, in the ‘Bulletin de l’Acad. Imp. de St.
Petersbourg,’ tom. xii. 1867, p. 448.), who has closely attended to the
subject, has now shewn that this peculiarity is sometimes inherited, as it
has occurred in a father, and in no less than four out of his seven
children. When present, the great nerve invariably passes through it; and
this clearly indicates that it is the homologue and rudiment of the
supra-condyloid foramen of the lower animals. Prof. Turner estimates, as
he informs me, that it occurs in about one per cent. of recent skeletons.
But if the occasional development of this structure in man is, as seems
probable, due to reversion, it is a return to a very ancient state of
things, because in the higher Quadrumana it is absent.

There is another foramen or perforation in the humerus, occasionally
present in man, which may be called the inter-condyloid. This occurs, but
not constantly, in various anthropoid and other apes (50. Mr. St. George
Mivart, ‘Transactions Phil. Soc.’ 1867, p. 310.), and likewise in many of
the lower animals. It is remarkable that this perforation seems to have
been present in man much more frequently during ancient times than
recently. Mr. Busk (51. “On the Caves of Gibraltar,” ‘Transactions of the
International Congress of Prehistoric Archaeology,’ Third Session, 1869, p.
159. Prof. Wyman has lately shewn (Fourth Annual Report, Peabody Museum,
1871, p. 20), that this perforation is present in thirty-one per cent. of
some human remains from ancient mounds in the Western United States, and in
Florida. It frequently occurs in the negro.) has collected the following
evidence on this head: Prof. Broca “noticed the perforation in four and a
half per cent. of the arm-bones collected in the ‘Cimetiere du Sud,’ at
Paris; and in the Grotto of Orrony, the contents of which are referred to
the Bronze period, as many as eight humeri out of thirty-two were
perforated; but this extraordinary proportion, he thinks, might be due to
the cavern having been a sort of ‘family vault.’ Again, M. Dupont found
thirty per cent. of perforated bones in the caves of the Valley of the
Lesse, belonging to the Reindeer period; whilst M. Leguay, in a sort of
dolmen at Argenteuil, observed twenty-five per cent. to be perforated; and
M. Pruner-Bey found twenty-six per cent. in the same condition in bones
from Vaureal. Nor should it be left unnoticed that M. Pruner-Bey states
that this condition is common in Guanche skeletons.” It is an interesting
fact that ancient races, in this and several other cases, more frequently
present structures which resemble those of the lower animals than do the
modern. One chief cause seems to be that the ancient races stand somewhat
nearer in the long line of descent to their remote animal-like progenitors.

In man, the os coccyx, together with certain other vertebrae hereafter to
be described, though functionless as a tail, plainly represent this part in
other vertebrate animals. At an early embryonic period it is free, and
projects beyond the lower extremities; as may be seen in the drawing (Fig.
1.) of a human embryo. Even after birth it has been known, in certain rare
and anomalous cases (52. Quatrefages has lately collected the evidence on
this subject. ‘Revue des Cours Scientifiques,’ 1867-1868, p. 625. In 1840
Fleischmann exhibited a human foetus bearing a free tail, which, as is not
always the case, included vertebral bodies; and this tail was critically
examined by the many anatomists present at the meeting of naturalists at
Erlangen (see Marshall in Niederlandischen Archiv fur Zoologie, December
1871).), to form a small external rudiment of a tail. The os coccyx is
short, usually including only four vertebrae, all anchylosed together: and
these are in a rudimentary condition, for they consist, with the exception
of the basal one, of the centrum alone. (53. Owen, ‘On the Nature of
Limbs,’ 1849, p. 114.) They are furnished with some small muscles; one of
which, as I am informed by Prof. Turner, has been expressly described by
Theile as a rudimentary repetition of the extensor of the tail, a muscle
which is so largely developed in many mammals.

The spinal cord in man extends only as far downwards as the last dorsal or
first lumbar vertebra; but a thread-like structure (the filum terminale)
runs down the axis of the sacral part of the spinal canal, and even along
the back of the coccygeal bones. The upper part of this filament, as Prof.
Turner informs me, is undoubtedly homologous with the spinal cord; but the
lower part apparently consists merely of the pia mater, or vascular
investing membrane. Even in this case the os coccyx may be said to possess
a vestige of so important a structure as the spinal cord, though no longer
enclosed within a bony canal. The following fact, for which I am also
indebted to Prof. Turner, shews how closely the os coccyx corresponds with
the true tail in the lower animals: Luschka has recently discovered at the
extremity of the coccygeal bones a very peculiar convoluted body, which is
continuous with the middle sacral artery; and this discovery led Krause and
Meyer to examine the tail of a monkey (Macacus), and of a cat, in both of
which they found a similarly convoluted body, though not at the extremity.

The reproductive system offers various rudimentary structures; but these
differ in one important respect from the foregoing cases. Here we are not
concerned with the vestige of a part which does not belong to the species
in an efficient state, but with a part efficient in the one sex, and
represented in the other by a mere rudiment. Nevertheless, the occurrence
of such rudiments is as difficult to explain, on the belief of the separate
creation of each species, as in the foregoing cases. Hereafter I shall
have to recur to these rudiments, and shall shew that their presence
generally depends merely on inheritance, that is, on parts acquired by one
sex having been partially transmitted to the other. I will in this place
only give some instances of such rudiments. It is well known that in the
males of all mammals, including man, rudimentary mammae exist. These in
several instances have become well developed, and have yielded a copious
supply of milk. Their essential identity in the two sexes is likewise
shewn by their occasional sympathetic enlargement in both during an attack
of the measles. The vesicula prostatica, which has been observed in many
male mammals, is now universally acknowledged to be the homologue of the
female uterus, together with the connected passage. It is impossible to
read Leuckart’s able description of this organ, and his reasoning, without
admitting the justness of his conclusion. This is especially clear in the
case of those mammals in which the true female uterus bifurcates, for in
the males of these the vesicula likewise bifurcates. (54. Leuckart, in
Todd’s ‘Cyclopaedia of Anatomy’ 1849-52, vol. iv. p. 1415. In man this
organ is only from three to six lines in length, but, like so many other
rudimentary parts, it is variable in development as well as in other
characters.) Some other rudimentary structures belonging to the
reproductive system might have been here adduced. (55. See, on this
subject, Owen, ‘Anatomy of Vertebrates,’ vol. iii. pp. 675, 676, 706.)

The bearing of the three great classes of facts now given is unmistakeable.
But it would be superfluous fully to recapitulate the line of argument
given in detail in my ‘Origin of Species.’ The homological construction of
the whole frame in the members of the same class is intelligible, if we
admit their descent from a common progenitor, together with their
subsequent adaptation to diversified conditions. On any other view, the
similarity of pattern between the hand of a man or monkey, the foot of a
horse, the flipper of a seal, the wing of a bat, etc., is utterly
inexplicable. (56. Prof. Bianconi, in a recently published work,
illustrated by admirable engravings (‘La Theorie Darwinienne et la creation
dite independante,’ 1874), endeavours to shew that homological structures,
in the above and other cases, can be fully explained on mechanical
principles, in accordance with their uses. No one has shewn so well, how
admirably such structures are adapted for their final purpose; and this
adaptation can, as I believe, be explained through natural selection. In
considering the wing of a bat, he brings forward (p. 218) what appears to
me (to use Auguste Comte’s words) a mere metaphysical principle, namely,
the preservation “in its integrity of the mammalian nature of the animal.”
In only a few cases does he discuss rudiments, and then only those parts
which are partially rudimentary, such as the little hoofs of the pig and
ox, which do not touch the ground; these he shews clearly to be of service
to the animal. It is unfortunate that he did not consider such cases as
the minute teeth, which never cut through the jaw in the ox, or the mammae
of male quadrupeds, or the wings of certain beetles, existing under the
soldered wing-covers, or the vestiges of the pistil and stamens in various
flowers, and many other such cases. Although I greatly admire Prof.
Bianconi’s work, yet the belief now held by most naturalists seems to me
left unshaken, that homological structures are inexplicable on the
principle of mere adaptation.) It is no scientific explanation to assert
that they have all been formed on the same ideal plan. With respect to
development, we can clearly understand, on the principle of variations
supervening at a rather late embryonic period, and being inherited at a
corresponding period, how it is that the embryos of wonderfully different
forms should still retain, more or less perfectly, the structure of their
common progenitor. No other explanation has ever been given of the
marvellous fact that the embryos of a man, dog, seal, bat, reptile, etc.,
can at first hardly be distinguished from each other. In order to
understand the existence of rudimentary organs, we have only to suppose
that a former progenitor possessed the parts in question in a perfect
state, and that under changed habits of life they became greatly reduced,
either from simple disuse, or through the natural selection of those
individuals which were least encumbered with a superfluous part, aided by
the other means previously indicated.

Thus we can understand how it has come to pass that man and all other
vertebrate animals have been constructed on the same general model, why
they pass through the same early stages of development, and why they retain
certain rudiments in common. Consequently we ought frankly to admit their
community of descent: to take any other view, is to admit that our own
structure, and that of all the animals around us, is a mere snare laid to
entrap our judgment. This conclusion is greatly strengthened, if we look
to the members of the whole animal series, and consider the evidence
derived from their affinities or classification, their geographical
distribution and geological succession. It is only our natural prejudice,
and that arrogance which made our forefathers declare that they were
descended from demi-gods, which leads us to demur to this conclusion. But
the time will before long come, when it will be thought wonderful that
naturalists, who were well acquainted with the comparative structure and
development of man, and other mammals, should have believed that each was
the work of a separate act of creation.

The Voyage Of The Beagle

Chapter XI

 

(PLATE 50. WOLLASTON ISLAND, TIERRA DEL FUEGO.)

(PLATE 51. PATAGONIANS FROM CAPE GREGORY.)

Strait of Magellan.
Port Famine.
Ascent of Mount Tarn.
Forests.
Edible fungus.
Zoology.
Great Seaweed.
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.

STRAIT OF MAGELLAN.–CLIMATE OF THE SOUTHERN COASTS.

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,
although rapid, turbulent, and unconfined by any apparent limits,
yet seem to follow, like a river in its bed, a regularly determined
course. (11/1. The south-westerly breezes are generally very dry.
January 29th, being at anchor under Cape Gregory: a very hard gale
from west by south, clear sky with few cumuli; temperature 57
degrees, dew-point 36 degrees,–difference 21 degrees. 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
south-south-west. Temperature 60 degrees, dew-point 42
degrees,–difference 18 degrees.)

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 civilised,
and proportionally demoralised.

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 (11/2. Rengger “Natur. der
Saugethiere von Paraguay” S. 334.); 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 1, 1834.

(PLATE 52. PORT FAMINE, MAGELLAN.)

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 daresay 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.

(PLATE 53. PATAGONIAN BOLAS.)

(PLATE 54. PATAGONIAN SPURS AND PIPE.)

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 then 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, in which two or three species of trees grow, to
the exclusion of all others. (11/3. 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 be owing to the same general law of vegetation.
The trees of Tierra del Fuego during no part of the year entirely
shed their leaves.) 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.

(PLATE 55. CYTTARIA DARWINII.)

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 a smooth
surface; but when mature, it shrinks, becomes tougher, and has its
entire surface deeply pitted or honeycombed, as represented in
Plate 55. This fungus belongs to a new and curious genus (11/4.
Described from my specimens and notes by the Reverend J.M. Berkeley
in the “Linnean Transactions” volume 19 page 37, under the name of
Cyttaria Darwinii: the Chilean species is the C. Berteroii. This
genus is allied to Bulgaria.); 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 Dieman’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 is 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 woodpecker,
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 degrees 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 (11/5. 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 Natural History.”); I saw very few flies,
butterflies, or bees, and no crickets or Orthoptera. In the pools
of water I found but 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 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. (11/6. 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 latitude 43 degrees,–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 degrees in longitude.) 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 up from the greater depth of
forty-five fathoms. (11/7. “Voyages of the ‘Adventure’ and
‘Beagle'” volume 1 page 363. It appears that seaweed grows
extremely quick. Mr. Stephenson found Wilson’s “Voyage round
Scotland” volume 2 page 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.) 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
seaweed. 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 organised
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, cuttlefish, crabs of all orders, sea-eggs, starfish,
beautiful Holothuriae, 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 8, 1834.

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 9, 1834.

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 10, 1834.

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:–

Latitude    Summer Winter Mean of Summer
degrees ‘ Temp.    Temp.     and Winter
deg. F. deg. F.     deg. F.
—————————————————————
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 1/2 degrees 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 degrees, and this place is actually 13 degrees nearer the pole
than Port Famine! (11/8. With respect to Tierra del Fuego, the
results are deduced from the observations of Captain King
“Geographical Journal” 1830, and those taken on board the “Beagle.”
For the Falkland Islands, I am indebted to Captain Sulivan for the
mean of the mean temperature (reduced from careful observation at
midnight, 8 A.M., noon, and 8 P.M.) of the three hottest months,
namely, December, January, and February. The temperature of Dublin
is taken from Barton.) 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 latitude 55 degrees south. 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 latitude 39 degrees south, 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 characterised 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 latitude 39
degrees 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 farther 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 are often brought into the houses to be dried and
ripened. (11/9. Agüeros “Descrip. Hist. de la Prov. de Chiloé” 1791
page 94.) At Valdivia (in the same latitude of 40 degrees 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.

Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium and fibre content. Learn more about the importance of Vitamin A that it is a fat-soluble thing that

  • Helps in maintaining a good vision
  • Strengthens the immune system of our body along with supporting the cell growth
  • Maintains a healthy and glowing skin

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 latitude 45 to 38 degrees, 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 latitude 37 degrees; an arborescent
grass, very like a bamboo, in 40 degrees; and another closely
allied kind, of great length, but not erect, flourishes even as far
south as 45 degrees south.

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, latitude
16 to 18 degrees south 17,000                Pentland.

Central Chile, latitude
33 degrees south         14,500 to 15,000     Gillies and the
Author.

Chiloe, latitude
41 to 43 degrees south 6,000                 Officers of the
“Beagle” and the
Author.

Tierra del Fuego
54 degrees south         3,500 – 4,000 King.
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 (latitude 45 degrees), and I measured one trunk no
less than six feet in circumference. An arborescent fern was found
by Forster in New Zealand in 46 degrees, where orchideous plants
are parasitical on the trees. In the Auckland Islands, ferns,
according to Dr. Dieffenbach have trunks so thick and high that
they may be almost called tree-ferns; and in these islands, and
even as far south as latitude 55 degrees in the Macquarie Islands,
parrots abound. (11/10. See the German Translation of this Journal;
and for the other facts Mr. Brown’s Appendix to Flinders’s
“Voyage.”)

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 latitude 67 and 70 degrees north,
that is, about 14 degrees 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 (a distance of only 9 degrees of latitude), is
truly wonderful. (11/11. 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.) The
land from the southward of Chiloe to near Concepcion (latitude 37
degrees) 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.
(11/12. Miers’s “Chile” volume 1 page 415. It is said that the
sugar-cane grew at Ingenio, latitude 32 to 33 degrees, 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.) 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.

(PLATE 56. EYRE SOUND.)

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 (11/13. Bulkeley’s and Cummin’s
“Faithful Narrative of the Loss of the Wager.” The earthquake
happened August 25, 1741.)) 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.

(PLATE 57. GLACIER IN GULF OF PENAS.)

The glacier farthest from the Pole, surveyed during the voyages of
the “Adventure” and “Beagle,” is in latitude 46 degrees 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 the Laguna de San Rafael, some Spanish missionaries
encountered “many icebergs, some great, some small, and others
middle-sized,” in a narrow arm of the sea, on the 22 of the month
corresponding with our June, and in a latitude corresponding with
that of the Lake of Geneva! (11/14. Agüeros “Desc. Hist. de Chiloé”
page 227.)

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
latitude 67 degrees. Now, this is more than 20 degrees 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 1/2 degrees 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 degrees from where palms
grow, within 4 1/2 degrees of a region where the jaguar and puma
range over the plains, less than 2 1/2 degrees from arborescent
grasses, and (looking to the westward in the same hemisphere) less
than 2 degrees 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 explains 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 in the repeated ploughing up of
the sea-bottom by the stranding of icebergs, and by the matter
transported on them. (11/15. “Geological Transactions” volume 6
page 415.) 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 farther than 48 degrees of
latitude, measured from the southern pole; in North America it
appears that the limit of their transportal extends to 53 1/2
degrees from the northern pole; but in Europe to not more than 40
degrees 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. (11/16. 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 hot countries are due to
erroneous observations; several statements there given I have since
found confirmed by various authors.)

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 degrees 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
Lieutenant Kendall found the bay in which he was at anchor,
beginning to freeze at a period corresponding with our 8th of
September. (11/17. “Geographical Journal” 1830 pages 65, 66.) The
soil here consists of ice and volcanic ashes interstratified; and
at a little depth beneath the surface it must remain perpetually
congealed, for Lieutenant 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
under-soil in a low latitude–namely, in 56 degrees in North
America at the depth of three feet (11/18. Richardson’s “Append. to
Back’s Exped.” and Humboldt’s “Fragm. Asiat.” tome 2 page 386.),
and in 62 degrees 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 (latitude 62 to 63 degrees south), in
a rather lower latitude than that (latitude 64 degrees north) 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 (11/19. Messrs. Dease and Simpson, in “Geographical
Journal” volume 8 pages 218 and 220.), 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 degrees,
as is 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 (11/20. Cuvier
“Ossemens Fossiles” tome 1 page 151, from Billing’s “Voyage.”); 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.

(PLATE 58. FLORA OF MAGELLAN.)

(PLATE 59. MACROCYSTIS PYRIFERA, OR MAGELLAN KELP.)

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! (11/21. In the former edition
and Appendix, I have given some facts on the transportal of erratic
boulders and icebergs in the Antarctic Ocean. This subject has
lately been treated excellently by Mr. Hayes, in the “Boston
Journal” volume 4 page 426. The author does not appear aware of a
case published by me “Geographical Journal” volume 9 page 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 submarine 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 Philosophical Magazine”
volume 21 page 180) the adjoining action of glaciers and floating
icebergs.

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.