Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Conrad Martens - Journal of a voyage on board H.M.S. Hyacinth, commenced May 19, 1833
[See page 126 for notes provided by Michael Organ, who transcribed the journal].
of a Voyage on board
commenced May 19. 1833.
Names of Officers on board
F.P. Blackwood Esqr. Commander
W. Dickey Esqr. 1st Lieut.
John Gore 2nd -
Harry Davy Master
John Colwell Purser
A. Muirhead Assist. Surgeon
A. Derbyshire Mate
Supt - Hardy Ditto
Parkes Lt. Marines
[In margin] Falmouth Harbour
May 10 The first day on board HMS Hyacinth now lying in Falmouth harbour and only waiting for despatches to sail for Trincomabe [Ceylon].
11 Still in Harbour.
S.12 Sunday still in harbour no despatches - wind favourable and very anxious to be off.
13 Still in harbour - wind fair, but no dispatches.
16-18 Delightful weather, and amused by vicarious excursions about the harbour, but the wind being very favourable, by no means pleased by our detention.
S.19 [In margin] Lat. 48.26 N. Long. 7.42.
This morning we have received orders to prepare for sailing, at AM, the day in the week the most favourable for the commencement of a voyage, in the opinion of seamen, it being Sunday. Our place of destination is however changed to Calcutta instead of Trincomabe.
22 [In margin] Dist. run 89 miles. Lat. 45.16.N.
Monday and Tuesday almost entirely devoted to the cot being much inconvenienced by sickness, now however nearly recovered thanks to the fine weather, which would be every thing that could be desired had we but a little more wind; at present our rate of sailing will average but 4 Knots; somewhat tedious, as we are now crossing the bay of Biscay, and rather annoyed by a rolling sea which I believe is always to be met with here.
23 [In margin] Lat. 45.16.N. Long. 10.1.W -
Crossed the bay of Biscay, and nearly abrest of Cape Finesterre, the weather beautiful, very
[Page 5]little motion in the ship, with a fine breeze sending us along at the rate of 9 or 10 knots. Thermometer at 9 P.M. 67 - distance from the coast of Portugal about 60 miles.
[In margin] Dist. run 129 miles
24 Little or no wind, with a dense fog all the afternoon. Wind N.W. Thermo 65.
[In margin] 83 miles
25 A dead calm but fine, fog again in the evening with a light wind, but exactly from the point to which we are steering.
S. 26 Still nearly calm, light breeze in the evening, with every appearance of its freshening. The guns practiced for the first time, and some very good shots at a mark between 3 and 4 hundred yards distant, the guns being short 32lb carronades, certainly if worked in good style capable of doing great execution.
[In margin] 66 miles
27 Fine weather and a spanking breeze, which if it holds will take us to Madiera in two more days, being distant about 360 miles.
[In margin] 207 miles
28 Still a fine breeze. Average rate thro' this day 9 knots.
Island of Porto Santo
[In margin] Lat. 32.11. Long. 17.6 217.9
29 Hitherto, so little has occured worthy of notice, that I fear the most experienced book maker would make but a dull story of it. This however has been a day of much interest. The day was beautiful and as we expected, about noon the island of Porto Santo made its appearance upon the starboard bow bearing N.W. by W. and looking like three
small conical hills, which however soon became connected together, and at the same time reinforced by others less elevated tho' nearly of the same form, excepting towards the west where it gradually sank nearly to a level with the sea. At this time the beautiful pearly tints which extended over the whole, was by degrees exchanged at those parts which received most light for a warm yellowish tone approaching in some places to a red and thence leading the eye thro' purple into the original grey which still remained in, and marked, the numerous hollows and ravines. This island as well as its more elevated neighbour Madiera, has every appearance of being of volcanic origin, but as I am no geologist, cannot of course speak with confidence upon the subject. At any rate whatever may have been the ways in which it was made it had, as we passed within about 4 miles a very novel and beautiful appearance totally unlike any Land I had ever seen before, and viewed with more interest from being the first land made since leaving England. The magnificent appearance however of Madiera itself which was fast approaching soon engaged all our attention and Porto Santo was no longer noticed. I cannot indeed conceive any thing of the kind to be finer than the
form of that island as you approach it from the N.E. The upper part which is at least 5000 feet above the sea, appears misty and part hidden by clouds, while at the foot is seen in strong relief, a range of rocks apparently of little elevation, dark, and their forms wild and picturesque. We were all this time favoured by a lively breeze which sent us thro' the water at the rate of 9 knots, consequently the forms already seen were perpetually changing, and new ones as often coming into notice.
We had no sooner however passed the first point of the land, still at a considerable distance on our right, then the wind died away, the sun set, and altho' we continued to near the anchorage, it was by an almost imperceptable motion, and the beautiful forms too, and rich colours, were soon entirely lost and the whole island appeared but to consist of one enormus mass towering high above us, with nothing but the outline visible against the clear western sky, the moon too had risen and there was such a delicious mildness in the air that it was long before I could persuade myself to turn in to my cot. I was disturbed
however in my first sleep by the loud rattling of the chain cable at that time an agreable sound, as it proved that we were within a short distance of the shore.
The view of Madiera from the anchorage is exceedingly fine. The town
of Funchal opposite which we had anchored and which is the principal town
on the island, rises gradually from the beach and is backed by the high
ground of the island finely broken but at the same time covered nearly to
the top with the richest vegetation. The principal is the vine which is
however trained too low to make the appearance of a vineyard particularly
attractive. This kind of cultivation is by no means injurious to the
picturesque beauty of the scene, as there is none of that chequered
appearance which the hedgrows in England present, the ground appearing at
a distance only ruffled and varied in colour with here and there a
convent or church, or occasionally a villa, with its white walls coming
out in strong relief.
[In margin] Bay of Funchal, Madiera
Our first business in the morning as soon as we had received the assurance that an equal number of guns should be returned, was to fire
a salute of 10 guns after which came an invitation from the British Consul Veitch Esqr. to breakfast, and who certainly did all in his power to entertain us during our stay on the island. Accordingly it was proposed that we should the next morning, along with the principal officers of the ship, mount horses and ride to the Corall, a valley in the interior of the island, and a sort of shew scene - one of those places which often disappoint the traveller, not perhaps thro' their own unworthiness, but because he is sometimes dragged to the spot and called upon in the most peremtory manner to express the greatest admiration at the taste and judgement of his guide without being in the smallest degree allow'd to exercise his own, and a place about which he has been bored with numerous lame descriptions tending in the greatest degree to counteract the effect which might otherwise be produced. This however was not the case here.
Madiera has not been much frequented by the descriptive traveller, and certainly I think the grandeur and magnificence of the Corral would receive but a poor compliment
from the most eloquent of them. Upon the whole we left Madiera with much regret. Our stay was so short being only 3 days that there was no time for the novelty to wear off, and the extreme beauty of the place, the delicious fragrance and luxurious softness of the air, joined to the great civility we had received will certainly cause the name of Madiera for ever to be accompanied with the most pleasing recollections.
[In margin] Pico Ruiro the highest point of Madiera nearly 5000 feet high
[In margin] Lat. 32.37N.
Left Funchal roads at about 6 PM. with a light breeze from the N.W.
[In margin] Dist. run 152 miles. Course S.S.W.
Fine weather with the wind still favourable. Today occured the first case of punishment performed upon one of the Marines for drunkeness which altho' very severe he bore without once exclaiming.
[In margin] Lat. 27.49N. Lon., 17.41
Light breeze and fine. The island of Palma one of the Canaries made its appearance between which and that of Gomera our course lay. The peak of Teneriffe was likewise visible, but as I had expected much I was disappointed at the appearance of it, for altho' its hight is nearly 13,000 feet, its tip did not range much above that of Gomera owing to the distance being so much greater, but of which the eye
was not made sensible, both appearing to have the same horizon for their base and both of nearly the same aerial tint.
Passing the Canary Islands
We soon after passed close to the island of Ferro another of the Canaries, bold and rugged, but shewing considerable signs of cultivation near the tip, the edges of the highest mountains being fringed as it were, with trees and seeming as if placed singly and at equal distances. We could likewise distinguish several very good houses in spots richly wooded, but were at a loss to conceive what kind of beings might inhabit them. It is to be hoped that they are friendly inclined towards each other.
[In margin] Dist run 162 miles
Once more with a clear horizon and with the certainty likewise of not seeing any thing more except perhaps a distant sail until we make the Cape Verd islands at present distant 600 miles. We are now fully sensible of the change of climate the Therm0 72 in the shade, the heat however is by no means oppressive. I think even 10 degrees higher might well be borne as long as we are favored with this
fine breeze, which is now allowed by all to be the N.E. trade.
[In margin] Lat 22 37N. Long. 20.52.W.
Entered the Tropic of Cancer, between which and that of Capricorn is considered more particularly to be under the dominion of Mr Neptune. Accordingly the sailors are beginning to make preparations to receive him; the flying fish too are now occasionally seen, darting swiftly along a few feet above the surface of the water, but only to a distance of perhaps 20 or 30 yards, being obliged to return to their more natural element as soon as their thin flying ings become dry. They have however a very beautiful silvery appearance. We have likewise seen a species of Nautilus called the Portugese man-of-war with its thin transparent membrane acting as a sail but as yet have had no opportunity of examining it closely.
[In margin] Dist run 190 miles
Nearly finished painting the ship which was begun yesterday, a little interrupted however by what the good Bishop Heber would call a "vexasious rolling".
[In margin] Dist run 142 miles
The breeze much lighter, but still the trade which I hope we may be blessed with to its greatest limits. I fear we
must wait another day before coming in sight of the Verdes.
Passing the Verdes
[In margin] 8 oclock PM. Latd. 16.57 N. Longt. 23.56 W
This afternoon the breeze freshened and and we came in sight of St Nicholas one of the Verds, appearing like a long range of mountains of different forms, but the evening which soon closes in has prevented further observation. The sun which about this time has entered the Tropic of Cancer is of course nearly vertical and makes our day but one hour longer than the night. This seems strange as it is in every other respect like the most delightful of English summer weather. The soft and delicious feel of the air at night is however finer than any thing I have ever felt before, and I am now at 10 oclock just going upon deck, where I shall lie down and indulge in the full enjoyment of it, and watch the brilliant phosphoric light as it flashes from under the stern of the ship.
[In margin] Lat 15.42. Long. 23.30
This day at noon we came in sight of St Iago another of Cape Verd Islands and I believe one of the principal composing the group, ten in number. It is lofty and
[Page 14]picturesque in its form, but having a most barren appearance. Altho we are passing within a very short distance there is not a tree to be seen. It does however produce several kinds of fruits and must therefore be more fertile towards the interior. Vessels bound to the East Indies not unfrequently touch at it, but it is not a good place for watering. The town is called Porto Praya. We soon after perceived the the Island of Fogo, the appearance of which is particularly grand and I regret much that we had not a near view of it. The upper part indeed seems all that we saw of it rising like an enormous pyramid above a distant range of clouds, but those of so light a grey as to give no signs of land when looking only at the horizon. It is in fact nothing but one imense volcano still in action and with an elevation of about 10,000 feet.
[In margin] At sea, H.M.S. Hyacinth
[In margin] Lat 14.17. L. 23.22 W.
We have now nearly passed the
the Cape Verd Islands. We have been at sea three weeks and one day, have run a distance of about 2,300, and the weather has been so favourable that there has not been one day in which we might not with perfect safety have carried royals. We have now a long run for the Cape of Good Hope and if we keep a steady course it will be the first land we shall make, but near a month must elapse before we may reasonable expect it, in the mean time as there will be but little to sketch and for the same reason, little subject for remark, I shall endeavour to work up a few drawings from those already made.
[In margin] Lat 10.30.N. Long. 20.16.W.
This morning as it was nearly calm orders were given to take in sail and those who felt inclined had an opportunity of bathing. It was however rather inconvenient for those who could not swim. I indeed was the only one of that class who ventured
for as there was no boat lowered all I could do was to take a rope in my hand before going overboard which, by the by, having no knot at the end, was very near slipping through my hands when I attempted to climb up the ship's side. It was however very refreshing altho' the water possitively was too warm to make it completely so.
[In margin] Lat 8.53. Long. 19.32.W
To day we have had the last of the N.E. trade and are consequently in the variables and must keep a good look out for squalls. We have now been some days within the Tropics and I cannot but confess myself disappointed at not finding that difference in the appearance of the skys &c. &c. which I was led, from the descriptions of many travellers, to expect, but as I have not yet crossed the equator shall for the present make no further remarks on the subject.
[In margin] Lat. Long. 18.14.W.
Last night the rain which had been for some time brewing made a descent upon us in no very gentle style. It was in fact, the first showers since leaving England but at he same time by no means
agreeable in its consequences as it immediately caused us to be deprived of our windsail without which our cabin in this climate would be hardly bearable, as being what is called a well cabin and at present without any other means of a circulation of air.
[In margin] Thermo in shade 85 degr.
[In margin] Lat 5.35.N. Long 17.34.W.
Fine weather again to our great satisfaction but the wind contrary so that we were obliged to tack to prevent running too much upon the coast of Africa.
[In margin] Distance 83 miles
Light winds in the same direction as yesterday. The weather beautiful but somewhat too hot. The thermometer shewing 78 directly under the windsail, we are now within about 300 miles of the Equator and if the wind continues in this quarter shall cross it 5 or 6 degrees further west than was originally intended.
[In margin] Lat 4.15.N. Long 18.39W.
This morning the jolly boat was lowered and we had another bathe, tho' not entirely without some fear of the sharks as there was a large one seen last night in the wake of the ship. The weather is still very unsettled, alternately a pouring rain with a stiff breeze, and
then a blazing sun, and no wind at all.
[In margin] Distance 82 miles
Stiff breeze from the S.W. with a good deal of sea.
[In margin] Lat. 3.47.N. Long 17.34.
Nothing particular. The weather appears to be getting more favourable.
[In margin] Lat 2.37.N. Long 19.19. Distance 140 miles
Wind contrary so that instead [of] making direct for the line we are running parrallel as it were, and thus increasing our longitude.
Crossing the Line
[In margin] Lat 1.4.N. Long 21.2.
We are now in the S.E. Trade and shall again have fine settled weather. Neptune hails the ship tonight as we are within a few miles of the Equator. His voice only is heard, and he then drops astern in a flaming tar barrel. A letter is however handed to the Captain in which he invites himself on board tomorrow.
[In margin] Lat 0.45 South Long 22.39.W.
Today the grand ceremony has been performed of shaving, ducking, and so forth. No one was particularly ill treated, nor was there any accident further than plenty of bruizes which may be considered wholly unavoidable when one has to deal with such rough dogs as these sailors mostly are. I regret much not being able to make a sketch of the dramatas personae, which consisted
of Neptune, Amphitrite and a child in the car drawn by a bear, and several other wild half-naked fellows. The bear has afterwards much to perform, being placed in a sail, or bath, and required to give each of the victimes a friendly hug, as they tumble backwards, and blind fall into the water, after being released from the hands of the barber who besmears their faces with tar and filth and shaves them with a smoth or notched razor according to the popularity or otherways which the new comer may have enjoyed among the ships company.
[In margin] Latde. obs. 2.42. South. Longd. 23.26.W. Distance 92 miles
A fine steady breeze and a good course too good indeed for me, as I have been hitherto in hopes that the same wind would have continued which we have lately had, and thereby induce the Captain to make for Rio Jenairo, a rare place as I am told, for sketching. Today the thermometer stands at 80 on the coolest part of the deck.
[In margin] Long. 24.42.W.
Squally, with rain, but fine and cool towards evening.
[In margin] Lat. ob. 5.26.S. Longde. 26.23. Dist 120
Fine weather and a fresh breeze with a good chance of going to Rio Janairo, indeed if we continue our present course it is likely we shall make the land even to the northward of that place.
[In margin] Lat 7.32. South Long 27.25
Fresh breeze and fine. Distance run 131 miles.
[In margin] Lat 9.33. Longde. 27.42
Fresh breeze and fine. Distance 115 miles.
28th. Strong breeze and cloudy with frequent squalls. Distance run 135. Lat 11.49 S. Long. 28.9.
[In margin] Lat. 14.33.S. Long. 29.37.
Strong breeze and fine. Distance run 178 miles.
[In margin] Lat. ob. 17.11.S. Long. 31.49.W
Fresh breeze and fine, course S.W. Distant from Rio Janeiro about 650 miles. Distance run since yesterday at noon 184 miles.
[In margin] Lat. 19.2. Long. 34.11. Dist. 166
This evening there was an eclipse of the moon soon after she rose. The sea was nearly calm and we were upon the deck smoaking cigars and enjoying this delicious climate. I hope the sky was as clear in England for then I know that some of
my friends were looking at the same object as myself and probably making nearly the same remarks. The greatest pleasure I experienced was in thinking that such was the case. We are now within a few days sail of Rio Janiero.
July 2. Fair and fine breezes.
[In margin] Lat. 20.25. Longt. 36 Dist 129
Fine breeze, in the evening a perfect calm and the finest sunset I have yet seen.
[In margin] Lat. 22.47. Long. 40.56. Dist 104
Cape Frio and the coast of Brazil appeared on the starboard this morning at 10 AM. which we are making with a light but fair wind. The Thetis was wrecked on Cape Frio about 2 years since, when only 2 days from Rio Janiero.
[In margin] Rio Janiero
5th. This evening after a day of much interest we arrived and let go our anchor in the Harbour of Rio Janiero. Here we found the Spartiate 74 flag ship Rear Admiral Sir Hugh Seymour an old friend of Capt. Blackwood's whome we of course
saluted as we ran in. Little did I think at this time that I would leave Rio in any vessel but the Hyacinth, or steer any other course but that for the East Indies.
What a place for an artist! I do most fervently hope that I may once more visit it, and have more time to revel in such delicious scenes. However my conversation with Mr Hammond and the determination to leave the Hyacinth, makes me less at leasure to follow my favourite occupation, my whole aim being, now, to find a vessel which will convey me as quick as possible from this place to Monte Video least I should by any chance miss the Beagle.
I shall not attempt a description of the place here; I am indeed but ill qualified to describe any think but the scenery, and that I am certainly better able to do with the pencil than the pen. Would it be right to say that because I was cheated in one shop (the only one almost that I entered), that they are a set of
extortioners, or that the houses are all very dirty because the one which I inhabited was so.
Of one thing which does not belong to the scenery nor appeal to the sight I can speak with confidence and that is the mosquito which is certainly to most new comers an infernal bore, and to ladies with pretty faces a sourse of absolute misery. There are however little agreables as well as disagreables and among these I should certainly mention the abundance and excellent quality of the oranges. There are plenty of pines also but not of so fine a flavor as those obtained in an English hothouse. I shall never forget the delight with which I plucked ripe oranges from the trees on the road side or rather in the lanes during my first ride into the country.
[In margin] Sent to England by favour of Mr H. a drawing View at Madiera with two figures for my brother
[In margin] Rio du Janiero
July 14. The Hyacinth has sailed and left me at Rio to abide the issue of my fate. Rio is a place in which under any other circumstances I should have
been extremely glad to remain for some time. The harbour must I think be one of the finest in the world. The country which surrounds the city is likewise of the most beautiful description, abounding in mountains not high but most abrupt and picturesque in their forms and richly wooded with here and there a small quiet lake which is disturbed only by the wellformed graceful canoe of the native; invariably from out of the trunk of single and sometimes enormous tree.
[In margin] The Sugarloaf 1275. The Corcovado 2300 feet above the sea.
I think myself fortunate in going to Johnstons Hotel in the Rua d'Ovidor for in addition to the really good accommodation for which I consider 3 Mille Raes (about 9s.9d.) a day a moderate charge, I met with English people including Sir Richard Spencer and his family on their way to King George's Sound, and likewise heard of the early departure of the Indus.
18th. Early in the morning the brig Indus of Halifax Capt. Burnell and Mr K'nout supercargo left the Harbour having
on board two other passengers besides myself, an old man and his son. The son spoke a little French and it was by that means only that they could make known their wants. Their misery required not language to be made known, as they were both very sick during the whole voyage.
The voyage form Rio is generally very uncertain but more particularly at this, the winter season, altho' the distance is not I believe more [than] 1100 miles. We were fifteen days in accomplishing it, during which we experienced all the vicicitudes of a long voyage as the wind seldom remained so long as 24 hours in the same quarter. We had like wise on the evening of the 25th the most fearful storm of thunder and lightning I have yet witnessed. I cannot indeed conceive how the ship escaped as the fluid appeared to descend in broad streams around us in every direction. It is however thought but little of here, and considering the violence and frequency of it, does
comparatively little damage.
The Pampero too which is so much dreaded by those unaccustomed to this coast and supposed to be a tremendous gale of wind is in fact nothing more than a general term for a south west wind and derives the name from the Pampas which lie in that direction. It is true, indeed that violent gales are sometimes experienced here and mostly from that quarter, but they are by no means frequent.
[In margin] Lat. 34.53. Long.t 55.13
Arrived at day break at Monte Video but was detained some time as the wind was not sufficiently strong to enable us to overcome the current which was setting against. Seals are very frequently seen here rising for a few seconds above the water but it was quite out of our power to make a closer acquaintance.
The appearance of Monte Video is by no means inviting, either at a
distance or on closer observation. The houses are seldom more than a suit
of rooms upon the ground floor and forming three or four sides of a small
They The rooms
are however lofty and well proportioned but appear extremely unfinished to an eye accustomed only to houses of England. Instead of a fine smooth ceiling one sees but a succession of rafters or beams, and between which are visible the bricks used for the pavement of the flat roof, a place admirably adapted for air and exercise, and constantly used for that purpose.
[In margin] Notes - The hedges about Montevideo are chiefly composed of the Aloe & prickly pear. It was not the time of year to see the blossom.
The country round Monte Video is generally flat or slightly undulating with few trees, and altogether as far as I can judge extremely uninteresting. The Mount indeed rises to about the hight of 450 feet, but is an ugly lump of ground unbroken by a single bush or even a crag of any size. There is one amusement however for those who are fond of shooting, there being an abundance of partridges by far too common to be thought a delicacy. Riding too is at this time hardly practicable for altho there are plenty of horses, the mud in the roads is too deep to be passable to any but the Gouchos, and even in the
streets (from these not being paved) the horses are frequently knee
deep and the carts buried to the very axles.
[In margin] Note. Carriages are never used, they must indeed be of a peculiar construction to avoid being constantly upset.
Montevideo contains at present about 17000 inhabitants with not more than 100 English. The President General Frutoso is a complete goucho and resides in a miserable kind of farmhouse at a considerable distance from the city. He was elected in spite of the opposition of a great portion of the citizens & has lately been engaged with the Indians in the interior. The few troops employed to garrison the town are Indians. They are short, ill made, not very dark and with a cast of countenance which reminded me strongly of the chinese and on my mentioning this to a friend was surprised to hear that they call themselves china's and have moreover many words in their language similar to the chinese.
The goucho's are on the contrary a fine race of men, pure descendants as I should suppose of the original spanish settlers; they are chiefly employed as
handimen and in agriculture, but have a savage and warlike appearance and in costume are exceedingly picturesque: the poncho which is the principal part of their dress and which they are never seen to lay aside for at night it is their bed, is a cloak of the simplist form being that of a long square with an opening in the middle to let the head thro', the longest ends coming before and behind, and the width spreading across the shoulders and reaching to about the elbow leaving the arms quite at liberty, tho not uncovered. It is usually made of blue cloth lined with scarlet, tho' not unfrequently of scarlet above and sometimes of broad purple and white stripes with a white fringe. Under this is a blue jacket confined by girdle containing a long knife and not unfrequently a pistol. If trousers are worn they are of white coarse linen fringed at bottom,
in either case however the legs are when walking apparently confined by a kind of apron consisting of a piece of square scarlet cloth wraped close round the waist and reaching to the calves of the legs. They are excellent horsemen and very expert at throwing the lasso.
The ladies of Montevideo in general are good looking - many indeed may be called handsome but from some cause which I am at a loss to understand their beauty fades almost as soon as it is fully developed. They have good taste in dress and the large high combs are in my opinion better calculated to set off a pretty face than the English bonnet. The price of labour is very high. I am told that an industrious carpenter can earn as much as from 7 to 10s/ a day, this however is I should think is by no means equivalent to the like sum in England, for altho' beef is not more than 1d per lb it is the only thing that is not extravagantly dear.
[In margin] Montevideo
The climate of this place is at this time
very variable (viz July Augst and Sept.) the latter month being what they call the breaking up of winter at which the Thermometer will sometimes range from 40 to 60 degrees in one day. The air is in general very light and penetrating and especially so during a pampero, so that the same degree of cold which in England would be thought little of is here found extremely piercing. Of the heat in summer I have had no opportunity of judging but am told that it is at times very great altho from the general lightness and elasticity of the air together with the exposed situation of the town to the sea breezes, I should think the heat was not very oppressive. Thunder storms are very frequent, particularly I believe at this time of the year and come on with a violence but seldom or never witnessed in England.
[In margin] Sent to England by favour of good Mr Parry a packet containing 2 drawings for Mr H. of Montevideo and likewise 3 drawings, one for my brother and one for each of the Mr Moxons
The slaughter of cattle here is emense. The hides which are the most valuable part of the animal are brought in to this place alone to the number of 30,000 per month and the carcase which was formerly
left to rot on the ground, is now cut up, salted and dried in the sun, and shiped off to be food for the slave population in the Havanna and elsewhere. The horses here are small and well adapted for riding, being active and spirited notwithstanding their hard usage and frequently ridden to death, as those in common are of so little value that a horse may be bought for not more than double the sum that it will cost to have him shod. Mares are never ridden, it being considered disgraceful and are reserved for the sole purpose of breeding. The Goucho's are excellent horsemen, and their chief and most characteristic weapon is nothing more than two balls of about 3/4 lb weight attached to each end of a strip of hide something more than two yards in length. This is thrown with wonderful force and accuracy at the object in chase, and within the distance of 50 yards seldom fails, not only to strike but at the same time to entangle itself so completely round the legs whether of a horse, an ostrich, or a bull as to lead to its capture in a few minutes. The lasso is I believe made use of afterwards from a shorter distance as an additional security.
"Jerked beef, cut thin and dried in the sun.
"Patio, an open space formed by the inner sides of the house which in general forms a hollow square.
Agatia [?Ayotea]. The flat top of the house.
[In margin] Ther.ter 80-67
This day removed bag and baggage on board the Beagle and fairly took possession of my cabin. The weather at this time extremely
hot, the thermometer as high as 90 in the shade.
[In margin] Ther.ter Max. 93 Min. 54
This morning at 4 got under weigh and proceeded in company with the "Adventure a short distance up the river where the water is quite fresh in order to complete our stock, so far however that the city of Montevideo is no longer visible.
The Beagle started for her present voyage from Plymouth Decr. 27. 1831
[In margin] Lat 47.45 S. Long. 65.56.W. Ther.tr 57.50
Arrived at Port Desire on the coast of Patagonia. It is a fine harbour, but the surrounding country is barren and uninteresting. There are no inhabitants and it [is] I believe but seldom visited by the Indians. Vessels bound to the southward for seals sometimes put in here but there is no good water, and but a scanty supply of wood. The face of the country is in general elevated from about 250 to 300 feet above the sea. It undulates considerably and frequently breaks into crags; there is a pile of rocks on the south side of the harbour resembling tho' on a very impressive scale one of the Dartmoor Torrs; there is but little however to attract or interest the eye. It improves a little towards the inner part of the harbour where the scenery might at times resemble that of a beautiful lake, were it not deficient in that most important feature
Names of Officers
of H.M.S. "Beagle
Capt. Honble. Robert FitzRoy
2. 1st Lieuts Wickham Sullivan
2nd do. J. Usbund
in the composition of the beautiful, namely: wood, which indeed seldom exceeds a bush, and that not above the hight of a man.
It appears that the Spaniards had formerly some intention of making a settlement here, as there is on the north side near the mouth of the harbour, the remains of a fort and other buildings.
There are two kinds of animals here which are excellent food, and consequently afforded us a very agreable substitute for our usual salted fare; there are the Guanaco, or Lama, and the Cavy. The former is a large and very graceful animal; the latter is about twice the size of a hare, & which it somewhat resembles in appearance.
[In margin] Ther.ter 68.56
I should have been a good deal surprised had I been told last Christmas day that this would have been passed at such an unfrequented and to me unheard of spot, but I am now fairly launched and shall be content to follow the course which seems most desirable or in other words, ready for whatever may turn up.
[In margin] Port Desire River
Since being here we have decided a point which seem hitherto to have been but doubtful; namely whether this harbour terminated in a fresh water river. I made one [excursion] in the yawl which was despatched for the purpose of finding fresh water wherever it might be, and had the satisfaction after ascending the inlet for
about 20 miles of dipping it up alongsides the boat; the scene had indeed by this time every appearance of a river. It had deminished from 1 1/2 to less than half a mile in width, and altho' it was rockly and wild, there was a degree of freshess and verdure immediately upon the banks which is not to be found lower down and which fresh water alone could produce.
We were gone nearly 3 days, and the circumstances attending the Bivuack, such as rigging the tents, lighting fires, and shooting game for the pot, and lastly tho' not the least interesting, the turn of keeping watch at night in a country where lions are numerous, and Indians not unfrequently passing, amused and interested me not a little.
Port St. Julien
[In margin] Thermometer 65" 52
We left Port Desire on the 4th Jany 1834 and arrived at this place on the 9th. The distance however is not more than one days sail; but as nearly all the coast between the two places required surveying we of course made very slow progress. Port St. Julien has but little more to recommend it than the place we had left, being but one shadeless haven. The harbour indeed is not so good, it is quite sheltered, but not so large and more difficult of access. The country however on the northern side is by no means so flat as at the latter place
there is a range of hills not far from the harbour, having an elevation of perhaps 600 feet or more. There is but little game, altho' it was here for the first time that I had an opportunity of seeing flamingo, whose plumage is certainly brilliant in the extreem, particular when seen by the side of a small marshy pool with no colour surrounding but the brown dusky colour of the burnt up grass or the grey neutral tint of the bare earth.
[In margin] Ther.ter 71 54
In the afternoon we were somewhat surprised by the arrival [of] a large ship in the harbour; she proved to be a French whaler on her passage to the horn and wanting some light repairs.
Jany 20th. Again at Port Desire - Schooner ready for sea having been left here during our visit to Port St. Julien.
[In margin] Ther.ter 60.47
While out with my gun in search of any thing which might serve for the pot, or for the naturalists, I fell in with a party of ostriches and succeded in putting a hole into one of them; it was a young one and very fat. I had some trouble in getting it to the ship but from the novelty of the thing I was determined not to leave him behind. He must have weighed at least 40 lb. I was indeed somewhat surprised on being told that it was good eating, tho' certainly we are none of us very
particular at that respect provided it affords a change from the salt provisions. It did however turn out exceedingly good tho' it would be difficult to say what it resembles.
[In margin] Straits of Magelhaens
[In margin] Ther.ter 67-57
We left Port Desire this morning and about 7 P.M. parted from the schooner who is to make the best of her way to the Falklands, while we are bound for some part of the straits of Magellan [which] still remains unsurveyed; not expecting to meet again until about the middle of March. She is much improved by the alteration made in her rigging while in Port Desire.
[In margin] Ther.ter 60.52
Entered the straits of Magellan passing close by the northern shore or Virgins Cape - land still low and barren.
28th. Were unable to proceed further than Possession Bay on account of the strong S.W. wind which I believe prevails here for more than 9 months out of the 12. It was therefore by the tide only that we were able to make any progress.
[In margin] Gregory Bay
[In margin] Ther.ter 57-49
Strong gales as usual, the tide however assisted us as far as Gregory Bay, which is near the entrance of the second Narrows. Here we found a tribe of Patagonian Indians and in the evening I had the satisfaction of seeing three
of them on board. The Captain had been on shore, and their importunities were too great, lo so resisted indeed it was with no little difficulty that the boat was cleared of several others who had forced themselves into it. They were however by no means inclined to be quarrelsome. Ships occasionally touch here such as sealers &c. which has perhaps in some measure taught them what conduct is best to be pursued, tho' to me there appeared such an expression of mildness as well as humility in their countenances that instruction upon that head would hardly be necessary.
[In margin] Thermometer 57" 45
This morning I had an opportunity of going on shore and it may be easily supposed, was much gratified. We found about 70 or 80 men, women, and children squatted on the river bank, some having fur mantles, made of lion and other skins for the purpose of bartering with us, for tobacco, knives, swords &c. &c. Tobacco however appeared to be in the greatest demand, as two or three pounds of the common negrohead, would purchase one of their best lion skin mantles; they were by no means so destitute as those met with further up the straits. They were all of them, more or less clothed in mantles made of guanaco skins, with a tolerable supply of ornaments
which were however chiefly sported on their childrens heads and necks. I found great difficulty in distinguishing men from women arrising chiefly from the men having no appearance of beard or mustache, and likewise from their being clothed in the same manner, namely with one large cloak or mantle. Perhaps if I had had more time to make comparisons I should have found a general diference in their hights, the average hight of the men being, I should say with confidence, at least 6 feet. We however paid them but a short visit intending to renew our intercourse on our return, against which time they promised to get much guanaco flesh for us, and we parted with a mutual appearance of good will.
[In margin] Note - The hair of the women is always divided into two plaited tails, while that of the men is allowed to flow loosely, and unconfined except by a band which passed round the head, a very common ornament with all the natives of this part of the world.
[In margin] Ther.ter 53" 47 Evening
Yesterday we passed the second Narrows and are now at anchor between Elizabeth Island and the main land of Patagonia; again under weigh in search of a more convenient place, as some days are to be spent here.
Sarmiento, the King of the mountains of Terra del is in sight, but at a distance of 90 miles; it is 6800 feet in hight, its appearance at present is of two rugged peaks covered with snow. There are other mountains in sight of considerable hight and partialy covered with snow. This to me is a great
treat, particularly after being so long upon the flat and sterile shores of Patagonia.
The fires of the Indians which are now visible in several directions and made for the purpose of attracting us, are objects of considerable interest, and from the large columns of smoke we may judge that wood, in pretty large quantities, is beginning to make its appearance.
[In margin] Ther.ter 59-49
On account of our not finding a good supply of wood and water at Cape Negro, or rather that it was judged to be too far for carriage, we took the advantage of a fair wind and ran for this place, where we arrived on the evening of Sunday Feby 2.
Here the scenery is of a very differant kind to that which we have had so much of during our passage down the coast. Mount Tarn, which is on the left hand as we enter the bay, is the most conspicuous object. It rises to the hight of 2600 feet and is finely wooded to within a short distance of the summit. The form is not particularly good, but the mountains in this direction are I perceive fast approaching to what may be termed good, and magnificent. Port Famine has more than usual interest to the Officers of the Beagle as the remains of their former Commander
Capt P. Stokes are deposited here. The low ground here is almost entirely covered with large wood, chiefly I believe a kind of beech and where that is not the case an almost impenetrable brush-wood supplies its place, so that our rambles were generally confined to the waters edge. Great numbers of parrots are to be met with, and their loud shrill cry would sometimes tempt one to enter the woods for sake of a shot, tho the trouble of sewing up large cuts in ones trowsers was I soon found more than equivalent to the pleasure of destroying them. They are it is true very good to eat but the quantity and excellent quality of the fish here, prevented the shooting for the pot from being a work of necessity.
[In margin] One tree atop the head of the bay and near the water measured 21 feet in girth @ 6ft from the ground
There is one very striking feature in the scenery of this part of the world, and that is, the immense quantity of drift wood which is seen lying on the beach piled sometimes in such heaps as to make what would otherwise be good walking very laborious.
Altho there are not many wild flowers to attract notice, there is a kind of Fusia which grows very luxuriently, and whose flowers are I think quite as large and beautiful as the finest I
have ever seen in an English hothouse.
February The climate is now moderately warm, the mean of the thermometer during the week we passed here and taken at Noon 54. It is now however the middle of summer, there is a great deal of rain at times, as well as wind, but we have been favored. There is still a great deal of snow upon the mountains, and which has in my opinion a bad effect when only in patches causing by its harsh outline the mountain to appear much lower than it really is. This is however by no means the case when it is entirely covered, as some of the higher range of mountains have a very magnificent appearance, altho at such a distance as to be visible only on a clear day.
[In margin] 580 - 47
Yesterday we set sail from Port Famine and are now retracing our course, having got a sufficient supply of wood & water to last us while the work is going on at a less hospitable part of the coast.
12th. Passed Elizabeth Island on which were some Fuegians from the opposite coast. Came to anchor same evening in Gregory Bay.
[In margin] Note - Had not our promised communication with the natives.
[In margin] Bay of St Sebastian
[In margin] Ther. Max. 58. Min. 50
We are now on our passage from the Straits of Magalhaens to Good, Success Bay near the Straits of Le Maire, but as the whole of the intermediate coast is to be surveyed, our progress is but slow, and we are this evening at anchor in an extensive Bay, at the head of which there is said by some to be a channel communicating with Useless Bay in the straits of Magalhaens.
[In margin] Ther. Max. 61 Min. 43
It is now clearly assertained that this is no channel, but a deep bay, terminating in a low mud flat. It is fine anchoring ground. Tho the water is shallow, it abounds at this time with whales. The latitude is about 53.24' and Cape St Sebastian forms the southern headland.
[In margin] Ther. Max. 48 Min. 42
Thetis Bay - between the Capes St Vincent and St Deigo - after a successful run from the Bay of St Sebastian, the whole of the intermediate coast having been laid down, - a piece of work well over as it is an outside coast without a single harbour - fortunately the strongest and most prevailing winds are from the shore - our nights which were always passed at anchor were therefore without any other inconvenience than a heavy rolling sea.
There is nothing particular in the scenery of this place excepting that we have here the first view of the wild rugged outline of Staten Land! There appears to be a family of Fuegians sojourning here, but with whome I believe we shall have no communication, as we shall in all probability start tomorrow.
[In margin] Straits of Le Maire
[In margin] Ther. Max. 46 Min. 44
Yesterday as we expected we weighed anchor at 5 in the morning and shortly after entered the straits of La Maire, going thro' a tide rip which knocked our little craft about in a way I had never before seen. It however did not last long and we were soon fairly out at sea, when contrary I believe to what may generally be expected here, it fell calm, we it seems being at the time in a strong current which was setting us to the eastward at the rate of 3 miles an hour and giving us at sunset a much nearer view of Staten Land than was desirable, particularly as it was on our lee beam and extending for nearly 90 degrees * without either harbour or anchorage. The calm continued with but little intermission during the whole night altho there must have been an offset of current from the island as we were no nearer in the morning tho' nearly abrest of
* meaning a quarter of the circle
of the eastern end of it. Today however I hope we shall make amends for what was lost yesterday as we are now making 5 knots on our right course and every appearance of fine weather.
[In margin] Wollaston Island
[In margin] Ther. Max. 53 Min. 46
An interesting day for me. Cape Horn in sight, but as our course was more westerly it was only a distant view. The weather fine but rather cold with now and then a drift of fine rain.
[In margin] Except a heavy gale of wind.
We bore up for Wolaston Island and came to anchor under the lee of a range of mountains of the finest forms.
[In margin] Ther. Max. 46 Min. 39
We left our anchorage under Wollaston Island this morning and are now at the entrance of the Beagle Channel. It has been blowing a gale of wind for the last two days, and it [is] therefore no small piece of good fortune that we were in so sheltered a birth. There were a few natives at the latter place of the very wildest class, and having a canoe, but the bad weather which detained us, at the same time prevented any communication, except a short interview with one of our boats the morning after our arrival.
[In margin] Beagle Channel
[In margin] Ther. Max. 46 Min. 41
In the evening we anchored in a beautiful little bay, intending to send the boats up the
channel, but it was afterwards determined to proceed in the vessel having first completed wood and water. There were several canoes of Fuegians at this place, and one large Wigwam sufficent to hold them all. As they did not muster very strong nor were at all troublesome we had free intercourse with them. The women were chiefly employed during the day fishing in the canoe moored to a piece of kelp in some sheltered smooth water not far from the shore, while the men found sufficient amusement in watching our operations which were going on on shore. We took our departure however, on the third morning and were in the course of the day visited, as the weather was very calm, by several canoes, and a most interesting scene of bartering took place. They have very little however that can be desired even by the most determined collector of curiosities, and are altogether I should think the most destitute of human beings. Poverty however is seldom injurous to picturesque effect, and these figures are all that can be desired in that respect, seen as they sometimes are, at the skirts of the dark wood or on the projecting rocks
shouting, and wearing a small fur mantle, their only covering, or when in the canoe stealing along in the smoothe water, the effect of which is still hightened by the smoke proceeding from the fire always kept burning therein.
In the evening we as usual dropped anchor. It was by the side of a beautiful island but too late to go on shore. The next day we made a good run with a fine breeze, and [on] that account had little or no intercourse altho we saw several during the remainder of our run or at least for the next 20 miles very few were seen, and I had therefore more leisure to sketch the mountains which were now beginning to assume a very grand appearance, particularly on the northern shore, tho' there were occasionaly some on the opposite side or Navarin Island which equaled them in wildness if not in hight. They were all partly covered with snow, and at a rough guess I should say they rose to between 2 and 3,000 feet, their bases washed by the blue deep water of the channel which in some places did not exceed a mile in width.
[In margin] Ponsonby Sound
[In margin] Ther. Max. 52 Min. 40
Came to anchor in the narrow passage
leading into Ponsonby Sound, and were again visited by the wild beings whose appearance well accords with scenery and climate, tho in respect to the latter it seems we are exceedingly fortunate the weather having been particularly fine up to this time. Ponsonby Sound is the country of one of the 3 Fuegians which were taken to England by Capt. FitzRoy and who shewed a very tractable and amiable disposition. He had however been transported back to his native land at the Beagles last visit after being in England two years or if not there at least in civilized society.
[In margin] Ther. Max. 52 Min. 39
Today all hands have had the pleasure of seeing Jemmy Button as he was called, alive and in good spirits apparently well contented at being returned to his original mode of living tho' his loss of flesh makes one inclined to believe that they are some times rather hard up for eatables. He has been again clothed for it seems his friends and countrymen soon robbed him of the trousers which he had taken with him, a mantle rather larger than ordinary being the whole amount of his wardrobe. He says he does not feel cold and it is very likely finds himself altogether much more at his ease. These people are
not entirely exempt even by their own statement from the suspicion of cannibalism, but I belive it is by no means common.
[In margin] Ther. Max. 42 Min. 39
Yesterday in the forenoon we took leave of our friend Jemmy Button and his family who were no losers by our visit and it is to be hoped that the Owensmen his enemies may not hear of the vast accession of riches which it has occasioned to him. He now lives apart from the tribe in a small but romantic island of perhaps a mile in circumference in possession of 3 canoes and enjoying uninterruptedly the society of his young wife and some half dozen of their nearest relations. Staten Land and the western part of Terra Del is now fast receeding from us and I believe not again to be visited. We are running with a fair wind for the Faulklands.
[In margin] Berkley Sound, East Faulklands
[In margin] Ther. Max. 42 Min. 39
Arrived at Berkley Sound, east Faulklands after experiencing rather a heavy gale of wind on the night previous during which we lay too being already in sight of land. Before coming to anchor we received a visit from the Officer, just appointed to this place, and who was the first civilized
being we had met with since leaving Monte Video, with the exception of one or two sealing Captains who might perhaps more properly be considered as a link between the two.
This officer or as he is now styled par excellance governour is an old pivot Lieutnt. of the name Smith, a very gentlemanly man and who therefore during our rather protracted stay made an agreeable addition to our society.
[In margin] The Faulklands were formerly taken possession of by H.M.S. Clio in Jany. 1833, and in Jany. 1834 Lieut. Smith with 10 men was left by H.M.S. Challenger as Commandant of said Islands.
From him we learned the full particulars of the murder of poor Brisbane (a sealing captain who has resided here ever since the unjust attack made by the Americans on Vernot the former resident) and four of his party by some goucho's, and I am sorry to add one or two Englishmen who were in his employ. Smith will I think have a difficult part to play unless the government give him a coniderable addition to his establishment, which at present consists of but a boats crew and a few marines.
The next day we weighed and stood up to head of the head of the sound and anchored in Port Louis abrest of the settlement. This place (the Faulklands) appears to have been fatal in many instances to vessels, owing I suppose
to the imperfect knowledge which has hitherto existed of the coast and joined I firmly believe very frequently to a want of proper vigilence on the part of the navigator. The coast is certainly dangerous but if our government chose to give it the consideration which it undoubtedly deserves the place will soon become well known and much frequented. It contains many fine harbours and from its position would be the resort of all vessels either going or returning round the Horn.
[In margin] This group consists of two which are distinguished by the name of east and west Faulklands, and divided by a narrow channel. There are likewise several others but not of any size, the whole extending from east to west about 150 miles.
[In margin] Add 3hr. 52ms. to get Greenwich time
[Note: Whilst at Port Louis, Martens found time to write a letter to his brother Henry in England, a copy of which survives in the artist's manuscript 'Notes on painting: a commonplace book on technique' (Dixson Library MS142). It describes his time at Port Desire and the excursion up the inlet with Charles Darwin and others; it also refers to Martens' cramped quarters on board the Beagle:
Copy of a letter to my brother Henry
H.M.S. Beagle, March 19, 1834
The hove at this place [gives] an opportunity of forwarding letters to England, all hands are therefore busy in spinning long yarns to wives, sweethearts &c &c, and it is with much pleasure that I avail myself of it to send you a despatch. If young Parry has had a tolerable passage, you have ere this received my last from Montevideo, which place we left on 6th Decr, making the best of our way to the southward, and on the 23rd arrived at Port Desire, a fine harbour but wholly uninhabited, tho' some ruins shew that the Spaniards had formerly attempted a settlement here. Our tender the Schooner underwent an alteration in her rigging, and we at the same time attempted to get in a fresh supply of wood and water. The country is bare and desolate in the extreme, affording us but a scanty supply of the former, and still worse of the latter, that being not only brackish but so full of animalculae that I made the practice before drinking it to kill them all with certain proportions of brandy.
It must, however, be a place infinitely worse then Port Desire that will not afford amusement to men just let loose from a ship and at the same time bent upon a lark; and altho' we had no chance of seeing men and women 8 or 10 ft high, we knew for certain that there was a good sprinkling of game in the neighbourhood, not exactly such as you have in England, but what was in our case far more acceptable, viz. guanaco, cavy, and ostriches. The guanaco is an animal is some respects similar to the deer but much larger; they are exceedingly shy, but we succeeded in getting one in time for a Christmas dinner. The cavy is an animal something like a hare, but much larger. I was surprised to find them all so shy, but believe it is on account of the lions, which are pretty numerous here, and to whom they are a constant prey.
The most amusing part of the time, however, was that spent in an expedition up the harbour, in order to ascertain whether it did or did not terminate in a fresh water river. A party was formed consisting of Mr Darwin the naturalist, 3 officers and myself, with 4 or 5 seamen in the yawl, with provisions for 3 days. The weather was fine, and we generally contrived to get into some little snug creek an hour or so before sunset, where the tents were rigged, a fire lighted, and skirmishers turned out to scower the ground and bring in everything in the shape of game that could be got hold of. In short, it was a genuine bivouack, and such as I am sure you would have liked much; and indeed both there and since I have often wished that you could form one of the party. Of course, I was not exempt from taking my turn in the night watch, for altho no Indians had been seen in the neighbourhood, they are known to come over this part of the country from the northward, and from the late massacres that have taken place in the neighbourhood of Buenos Ayres, we should stand a poor chance if caught napping. The chance of these, and the certainty of lions not being far off, was sufficient to keep my fancy at work during my watch, which was only for an hour and a half; when that was over, however, I had too much confidence in my party not to sleep soundly for the rest of the night.
We succeeded in finding good water, but it was too far up to be of use in watering the ship, and we returned.
While here [Port Desire], as there was but little to be done in the way of sketching, I used generally to take my gun and was fortunate enough one day to bring home an ostrich, the only one indeed which as yet we had been able to kill, altho great numbers had been seen. It was a young one, and excellent eating.
I am happy to say that not only myself but all on board have up to this time been in excellent health, notwithstanding the variety of food which occasionally presents itself, it being allowed by all that any thing is better than our own salted beef and pork. Accordingly gulls, shags, and sharks, muscels, limpets and land crabbs, are seldom rejected if nothing better is to be had. Not that we are by any means insensible to our present excellent fare, which consists of geese, ducks, snipes and beef in the greatest plenty.
...... It would be useless here to attempt a description of all the out of the way places, wild scenes, and still wilder inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia. Something of the kind will be found in my letter to ---. I should, rather, like to convey to you and my friends in North St a tolerable idea of the snug way in which I am domiciled on board this small little craft.
Suppose me then where I am now writing, in my cabin, which by the by I must tell you is allowed to be a pattern of neatness and convenience, the door of which opens into the gunroom. It is lighted by two bulls eyes from the upper deck in the manner of a skylight, and as I am upon too familiar a footing with my messmates ever to think of shutting the door, a good deal of light comes in that way also. A tasty blue cloth curtain, however, is drawn at night, closing likewise a small window alongside it. Facing the door, built in as it were and occupying the whole length of the cabin, is a nest of drawers of 3 tiers, above which is the bed place, particularly well adapted for those who like to lie high, being at least 4 1/2 feet from the deck. The dimensions of the cabin is 6ft long by rather more than 5 ft wide and 6 ft high. The bedplace is not very wide, being of course only intended for one person. Now fancy yourself there, and the sketch will at once finish the description. On the left of the door is my table, desk, lamp, and drawing materials. The end which is seen in perspective is occupied by books, guns, pistols, my plate, a picture, and sundry other useful articles, arranged and fixed in such a manner that the utmost motion of the vessel will not disturb. The whole is painted in imitation of oak the same as your own pretty parlour, with the exception of the drawers, which are of mahogany.... ]The climate is not the best, neither is [it] very objectionable. There is at present a great number of wild cattle which if properly managed would I should [think] be a source of considerable profit.
[In margin] Ther. 51.45
Sunday. 30th. Today the french whaler has sailed intending as he says to go shortly to Monte Video. He has therefore taken some letters which may or may not reach their destination.
[In margin] Ther. Max. 40 Min. 39
Last night the bag was closed containing along with the rest four of mine viz to Henry, M.A, Captain James and to Chideock one. It was expected that they would go without loss of time to Rio by the Cutter, which was to have taken the prisoners, but
as she has not returned from round the island, they will be left here for the first man of war, but which will in all probability be outward bound; our letters will therefore I fear be a long time on their passage.
[In margin] Faulkland Islands
[In margin] Ther. 46 300
Sunday. 6th. Went on shore for the last time to shoot geese for our sea stock and found the remains of Lieut. Clive.
[In margin] Ther. 48.42
7th. Early this morning a party was sent on shore to bury poor Clive and at 12 with a fine wind and bright weather we took our depart from Berkley Sound, having the french whaler in company, whose men had refused to go further with him as his vessel had grounded and sprung a leak, but were intimidated by a threat of Capt. F. The name of her is the Albatross and the Capt. a very gentlemanly man.
[In margin] Santa Cruz River
[In margin] Ther. Max. 54 Min. 47. Lat 50.10.S.
Arrived off the mouth of the Santa Cruz, the wind and tide however not being altogether favourable we had a specimen of what is technically called "carrying on" fortunately nothing gave way. We entered and were safely moored before night on the 16th. The vessel early in the morning was run aground, part of her forepost had been carryed away. A few hours work however was sufficient to repair all the damage and with the next
tide she was again at her moorings.
The harbour possesses all the character of the Patagonian coast having on one side a low sandy flat apparently without end, and presenting to the eye for nearly a quarter of a circle an horizon hardly distinguishable from the sea itself, and on the other, sandy cliffs of no great hight on the slopes of which are thinly scattered a few small stunted bushes mingled with tufts of coarse dry grass, upon which the guanocoe and ostrich only are capable of existing. A River however of considerable size tho hitherto unexplored except for a few miles here joins the sea and it was proposed by Capt. F. that a party headed by himself should endeavour to ascend and if possible trace it to its source.
[In margin] Ther. 51 39
Accordingly on the morning of the 18th April 3 whale boats each carrying from 6 to 8 men including each with two officers besides myself, provisions for 3 weeks consisting of beef, pork, preserved meats, rice, callorances[?], and biscuit, left the ship with a fair wind and flowing tide and after a pleasant days sail, just as the sun was sinking, the boats were run aground, fires lighted, and preparations made for passing the night, having advanced a distance
of about 30 miles. There was here but little variation in the appearance of the land, neither had our expectations hitherto been raised, Capt Stokes having previously penetrated many miles beyond this. The River had however very much contracted its course having no longer the appearance of an estuary or inlet of the sea; the effects of the tide was here scarcely visible.
The next day, at about half an hour after sunrise, we were again on the move for it would surprise the most experienced manager of picnics in England to see with what despatch our tents were taken down and stowed and our breakfasts prepared and eaten. We had not however proceeded far before the current of the river now unchecked by any tide, opposed us with so much force that our anticipated amusement (a sailor finds wherewithall to ask his jokes in any employment which is the least unusual to him) of towing the boats commenced, all hands therefore from henceforth cheerfully took their turn at the rope, 8 at one time, the boats being made fast to each other for a spell of some hours, and as there were about 24 of us it allowed us an interval of two hours between each one of labour, during which those who had guns diverged occasionally from the main party or cut off a bend of the river in hopes of getting a shot at the guanacoes, many of which were now beginning to shew themselves
but were much to our surprise so exceedingly shy that it was many days and not before they had become very numerous that they could often be approached within rifle shot. No other animal notwithstanding our sharp lookout could be seen altho tracks of the Puma or S. American lion were very frequent. Only a very few waterfowl, and those as wild as the guanaco, were to the disappointment of the less aspiring sportsmen, to be seen throughout the day. In short the river was as barren (if the expression may be allowed) as the land, leaving no richness where it at times overflows, nor imparting the least freshness even to the low and level ground with which it is either on the one side or the other constantly bordered; so that we at last came to the conclusion that the reason why there were no ducks and geese was, simply, because there was nothing for them to live upon.
[In margin] Ther. Max. 73 Min. 34
On the morning of the third day however a circumstance occured which excited considerable interest in our little party. This was no other than the smoke of three distant fires, plainly seen rising in columns over the elevated ridge of land upon our right apparently on our side of the river and at no very great distance from us.
Soon after, the great print of horses feet were numerous in our very path and beside it the trail of the tase, or long spear, which is constantly carried by the norther Patagonian or Pampa Indians. These then were supposed to be some of those against whome Genl. Rosas and the Buenos Ayeres Government have been lately carrying on a war of extermination, a tribe naturally savage and blood thirsty now rendered if possible deadly so, taught to consider every stranger as an enemy from whome no quarter will be received and consequently none given, and perhaps even now in the act of retreating into these barren and desolate regions to the less warlike tribes of Gregory Bay and southern Patagonia; thro' a country impassable indeed to any human being but themselves.
The question was now whether or not these people had seen us, or our fires on the preceeding night. The eye of an indian is watchful and keen, even beyond what can easily be conceived, and it was by no means improbable that we had been observed. The stagglers were therefore desired to keep close, for altho' if we kept together no immediate danger was to be apprehended from them, seeing that we were every man well provided
with arms and ammunition and moreover would always be able to retreat in case of necessity to our boats, yet we were at the same time likely to be retarded in our progress by them and to be put to much additional trouble in securing ourselves during the night. There was little doubt but that they were on the move and if we had been hitherto unobserved of course our best plan was to endeavour to remain so, accordingly we now formed a small and compact body with the exception of two who were sent forward by way of advanced piquet or scouts.
The same day at noon during our short halt for dinner, the remains of 3 fires with some fresh well picked bones were found at a short distance from us. Numerous foot prints were also seen on the opposite side of the river, and we had afterwards good reason to suppose that they had here crossed the river on their way to the southward as their trail was not afterwards seen upon the north side, but at intervals large columns of smoke were observed rising over the distant land far to the south. This was all that we saw
of the Indians. It served however as a subject for consideration and added of course a degree of interest to our journey which was now becoming, at least to me, somewhat dull and tedious. The current was now running at the rate of from 5 to 7 knots per hour, our tracking ground was sometimes over large and loose pebbles at other times a sloping bank scattered with thorny bushes just strong and large enough to entangle and hold the towing line, & not unfrequently a shoal or high perpendicular bank would oblige us to shift our ground to the opposite side. This as the river was generally from 250 to 300 yards in width occasioned much loss of time, the rapid water always sweeping us down far below the point of embarkation so that without wasting the smallest portion of it, if at the end of the day we had accomplished a distance of 20 miles it was considered good work. Moreover no day passed which we were not all of us thoroughly wetted at least up to our knees, by the time therefore we had dried ourselves, pitched tents, collected enough wood to keep up the fires thro' the
night and dispatched our suppers, there were few who were not quite ready to occupy each his portion of ground within the tent, and to roll up the coat for a pillow, with a blanket bag snugly enclosing the whole person, the further ceremony of undressing being considered as inconvenient as unnecessary to obtain that repose which is but seldom denied to those who by a hard days work may well be considered entitled to it.
[In margin] Lowest point of temperature observed up River was 25 Fart.
There was one source of comfort and pleasure however which served during the whole journey most materialy to keep us in good spirits. This was the uninterrupted fine weather. The sun was seldom hidden from us during the day, frequently indeed the sky was without a cloud, the air particularly dry and healthy, and of a temperature neither too warm nor too cold for men in action. The nights it is true were frequently very sharp, the Thermometer being more than once as low as 250 and the inside of the tents completely covered with a heavy frost arrising from the breath
of those within. This was however thought but little of, we were generally if not asleep, busily employed; and a good large fire could, excepting at some few places, be always made for the trouble of cutting the wood.
[In margin] Ther. Max. 70 Min. 43
Up to this time I had not made a single sketch. The hills which made the boundary of our sight were at a distance varying perhaps from 1/2 a mile to 5, generally running in a direction parralel to the river unchanging in form and without end. They were in fact a succession of table lands frequently composing two or three steps or levels increasing in hight as they receeded from the equally level valley thro' which ran the river, and at the same time presenting a uniform surface of loose sand and gravel clearly shewing as well as by their form that the whole country was nothing but one immense alluvial deposit and that the valley had been formed by a mighty stream, diminishing at intervals, and truly producing the steps or levels above mentioned. It was likewise very evident that the whole country was gradually
becoming more elevated not only from the constant rapidity of the stream but from our now and then meeting with an abrupt rise of the valley itself and the highest land being now at least 1000 feet above us.
[In margin] Ther. 80-45
We are now about 100 miles inland and as we went on day after day slowly and with much labour over ground which had hitherto never been explored, I could not help pureying that we were forcing ourselves into a region which was in the course of preparation tho certainly not yet fitted for the abode of man. Distant land too of very considerable hight was now becoming visible, and to my great satisfaction, more irregular and mountainous in appearance.
A very extensive bed of lava, the first new feature in the landscape, was now observed to spread itself over the surface of one of the levels at a hight of 500 feet above the plain, and from this time, rocky prongrands[?], and fine bold crags round which and above the majestic Condor of the Andes was frequently seen soaring generally formed a part of the scene. The
[In margin] Ther. 72-30
Andes themselves towards which we knew we were approaching and which we were likewise certain could not be many days journey from us, were now anxiously looked for and on the third day from this, viz. May 2, we had the pleasure of seeing them in all the varied and principal forms of castles, peaks, and pinnacles. From this day they were constantly in view, a snowy barrier becoming every day more imposing and altho' still very distant were looked upon as a goal which we were all more or less sanguin in our hopes of reaching.
It was true we had now been traveling without a single days delay for more than a fortnight; he was a rich man who had still some tobacco or a few sigars yet left. The whole of the sugar and all but the scanty ship's allowance of spirits had vanished, from this day forth, but half the allowance of bread was to be served out and what was of nearly equal consequence the shoes of most of the party were in the last stage of consumption. Only 3 guanaco had been added to original stock of meat, another however had been found in the river with a fractured skull by the
[In margin] Note. One guanaco which had been shot, and left on the plain for a few hours was entirely eaten by the hawks and condors.
ball of some Indian hunter and which as it had evident signs of being but lately killed there were few who objected to his share of him.
The guanaco were still plentiful; they would even if all else failed furnish us with excellent food and could no doubt be obtained in plenty, if time were only allowed for the purpose; the skins would furnish us likewise with moccasins a substitute for shoes which had been already found to answer tolerable well, and it was therefore with some surprise, not altogether ammixed with disappointment, that it was understood that the boats were to go no further.
[In margin] Ther. 48-39
Our tents were pitched this evening in a more sheltered spot and one in which there was plenty of fuel. It was therefore arranged that the bivouac should not be broken up untill after one day had been spent in a walk straight towards the mountains, by which it was supposed we might advance a distance equal to two days journey with the boats, and return to the tents by sunset. We did not however commence our walk until the day was somewhat advanced and by the time that 10 miles had been performed, sights taken, and refreshment served out, it was
time to return. The scenery was now as may easily be supposed far more interesting tho' still as barren as ever, and I confess that I was less inclined to turn back now than some days previous, but our time was expired, time which appeared now to be even of more than usual importance. Much yet remained to be done in the Straits of Magelhaeans. The winter season was already considerably advanced, and we had likewise ordered the Schooner to meet us at Port Famine by the 1st of June and altho the river had not been traced to its source we were now within 20 miles of the chain of mountains in which it no doubt has its rise and were not more than 60 miles from the western coast of S. America. We had ascended it a distance of 280 miles and there was but little change to be expected in the nature of the country for the remainder of its course until we should have certainly arrived at the foot of the mountains.
The almost total absence of drift wood, or indeed of any floating substinces whatever, seemed greatly to strengthen the opinion that the river was equally barren to its source or that its sediments, and drift, had been previously deposited
in some large lagoons and of which it might itself form the overflowing. Its main direction is nearly from west to east, running with a velocity of 7 and sometimes 8 knots and by barometrical measurement its bed at the farthest point reached by us was found to be 400 feet above the levels of the sea. Its water is good tasted, of a light blue colour not very clear but depositing a thin layer of light grey mud; its depth from mid channel was generally from 4 to 6 fathoms, and its greatest width never exceed 400 yards towards the upper point and in the lava district large rocks were often met with round and over which the stream rushed with extreme voilence, and I cannot but think it fortunate that no serious accident [occured] throughout the expedition. Once in endeavoring to avoid these rocks by going into the middle of the stream the mast of the foremost boat to which the towing line was fastened was carried away thereby preventing a far more serious accident, for had that not given way the boat must eventually have upset, and a good swimmer must he have
been to have reached the shore. Once we were obliged to unload and carry the contents for some distance over land, the velocity of the current round a rocky shoal making it a work of some labour for 16 hands to tow the lightened boats against it.
As we had three boats and three tents it was likewise arranged that here should be three distinct messes which was if not apparently the most friendly was clearly the most convenient. Upon an expedition of this nature much of the reserve between Officers and men is necessarily done away with. The circle is formed round the fire without respect to persons, all are served out of the same pot or mess kettle and each takes the piece he fancy's most from out the contents of the frying pan. The men have not the mortification of seeing dainties alongside of them which they are not permited to partake of, a bit of cheese, an extra glass of grog or a sugar is not noticed, and I think this self denial on the part of the officers is well repaid by the increased cheerfulness and good temper of the men.
All of us therefore, the Captain not except, took our share of the work and it generally was my employment at the end of the day to collect fuel for our nights consumption.
The bushes as I have said before were at some place exceedingly scarce frequently obliging us to continue our labour of tracking for some time after sunset in search only of a sufficiency for our fires. This grew chiefly in small hollows or on the sloping bank of the river, so that where we found wood was often a convenient spot for the bivouace. Only three kinds of wood were I believe met with, one of them not unlike the harberry of England, and all of them containing so much resin as to burn quite freely altho' green.
One thing which surprised me much and was strongly indicative of the sterile nature of this country, was, that during the whole course of our journey we fell in with but two tributary streams and those so insignificant that at a distance of but 50 or 100 yards from the rivers bank one could easily step across them.
[In margin] Santa Cruz River Coast of Patagonia
The extreme wildness solitude of the scene was likewise much augmented by the heaps of bones, which were constantly met with. They were entirely of the guanacoe and generally under the shadow of some large bush or thicket but whether they had there fallen prey to the puma or had voluntarily chosen the retired spot to end their days, was a matter of doubt with many of us, tho' I am much inclined to the former opinion.
[In margin] Ther. 58-38
We were now on our way back to the ship and with such rapidity that by the time the sun has set and notwithstanding several stoppages and the caution which was necessary to observe in passing the rapids, particularly in this our first days retreat, we had returned a distance of between 80 and 90 miles. Nothing particular occurred during our passage down and with much pleasure we again reached the ship at noon on the 8th. We had a few flying shots occasionally at the guanacoes and ostriches as we passed swiftly along the banks, but we found our shipkeeping friends had been more successful having succeeded in killing in addition to several guanacoes, two condors
and a Puma, the latter about the size of a small tiger. The largest of the Condors measured from the tip of the bill to the tip of the tail 4 feet 2 inches, from tip to tip of the wings 9 feet 7 inch, and weighed 34 pounds.
[In margin] The weight of a full grown Guanacoe is about 250 lbs
[In margin] Straits of Magalhaens - May
[In margin] Ther. 48-30
Made sail from the Santa Cruz and on the
[In margin] Thert. 42-37
22nd arrived and dropped anchor at the entrance of the Magelhaens Straits having in the mean time decided upon the nonexistence of the Eagle Rock and obtained numerous soundings of Cape Virgins, and the next morning were agreeably surprised by the appearance of our tender the Adventure from the Faulklands. She had fallen in with the Conway on her passage round the Horn and was the bearer of sundry letters, Newspapers, &c. much to the delight of those to whome they were addressed but for my part I can expect at present only to hear of any thing with home and friends thro' medium of the latter.
The entrance to the Straits if it may be so called from Cape Possession to Queen Catherines Foreland is about 12 miles across but widens afterwards when abrest of Possession Bay to nearly 30. Again about 15 miles further
List of Game killed by
the Officers of H.M.S. Beagle and
the Adventure - on the
East Coast of Patagonia and
the Falkland Islands, between
the months of Decr. and June 1834.
At Port Desire
At Port Santa Cruz
At the Falkland Islands
besides a number of ducks, teal, wedgeow, and snipe, of which no account has been taken, and an emense draught of Fish.
on it contracts to 1 1/2 miles and this is called the first Narrows. The depth of water about this part of the Straits is at low tide no where more than 40ft but the rise of the tide is generally about 50ft, the same as at the mouth of the river Santa Cruz - see a work by Capt. Phillip P. King entitled Sailing Directions for the Coast of Patagonia including the Straits of Magalhaens & Tierra de Fuego.
[In margin] Ther.ter Max. 35 Min. 31
We have been detained much against our inclination by a gale of wind from the S.W. which has lasted with but little intermission for 3 days. This morning was however moderate and after a short run we came to anchor in Gregory Bay, chiefly I believe for a supply of water, but our friends were no where to be seen. The weather is now very cold. A good deal of snow has fallen today and the land has a most dreary aspect. The Therm.tr this afternoon upon deck stood at 31 but in the gunroom it is still 50 altho we have no fire.
[In margin] Port Famine June 1834
[In margin] Ther.ter 41-34
Sunday June 1
Once more at Port Famine, on our way thro' the Straits. From this place all will be
new to me, the weather however is now cold, wet, and foggy, but still no more than may be expected here. It has not yet materialy affected the health of the crew, and we may now hope as all the work is finished in the Straits, soon to enjoy benefit of a more genial climate.
We were yesterday somewhat surprised by perceiving two men upon the shore and not indians by their dress, which by the aid of a good glass we made out to be that of sailors. A boat was sent to bring them on board and they proved to be an Englishman and an American who had run away from a sealing vessed about a fortnight since. They said they had been living a few days with the Indians but on their return one day from hunting found that they had all decamped, that they thought Port Famine the most likely place to meet with a vessel and they were then on their way, subsisting only upon muscels and berries. They are certainly ill looking fellows, and not likely to be much acquisition to us. It is however a satisfaction to think that we
have met with them, as they would in all probabily either have been starved to death or, what is perhaps less probable, tho by no means impossible, have furnished a meal for the first party of Fuegians that had chanced to spy them out.
[In margin] Ther. Max. 47 Min. 34
The weather particularly fine affording us a beautiful sight of the mountains which are now well covered with snow.
The Adventure likewise made her appearance and came to anchor alongside us about noon. She was shortly followed by 2 canoes of fuegians from the opposite side of the straits who I suppose were tempted across by the fine weather and the hopes of a little trafic. The distance must be a least ten miles but the canoes are longer and the natives seem to be a finer race than those of the Beagle Channel. We have however seen but little of them, as it was considered expedient to drive them away to some distance as the aemoore sponge and many other things of sufficient value
to induce them to commit thefts which would give us much trouble, and perhaps end in serious mischief to themselves, particularly as they shewed no want of courage and were armed with bows and strings which they knew well how to use. They accordingly took up a position about a mile from us where they now are and appear determined to stand their ground. They have fine otter skin mantles. I should like much to make acquaintance with them but that is forbidden as they are angry and no doubt consider themselves agrieved.
[In margin] Ther. Max. 38 Min. 33
Yesterday a party of Fuegians made their appearance on the shore a short distance from the ship. They were however soon driven away by the discharge of a few round shot, over their heads. They are such thieves that we should be great losers were they allowed to come near our position on shore. It is a pity that such must be our policy for we would
willingly bring them by acts of kindness to distinguish between an English man of war and the rascally sealers that yearly visit the straits, who I believe make no scruple to shoot them upon the slightest provocation and to plunder their wigwams of whatever might appear curious or to search for skins of the sea otter which they presently are found in possession of.
[In margin] Magdalen Channel June
[In margin] Ther.ter 48-34
Started early this morning with a fair wind for the Magdalen Channel. The sky was cloudy but with occasional gleams of sunshine and we soon came in sight of Cape Froward, which is the most southern point of the actual continent of South America. Here the Magalhaens Strait turns and runs in a westerly direction while we still kept our southern course and entered Magdalen Channel. The scene was here exceedingly wild. The channel was in some places not above 2 miles in width, we were surrounded by mountains rising abruptly from the water
to a hight of from 1800 to 2 and sometimes 3000 feet and now thickly covered on the upper parts with snow. Their sides are mostly cloathed with wood but not shewing in general such grand forms and rugged peaks as those in the Beagle Channel, with the exception however of Sarmiento the King of Tierra del, along whose base we were now passing, tho to my great disappointment the mist had thickened and nothing but the lower part of the glaciers was visible. Of these we had at one time no less than four in view at no great distance, and which had a very beautiful appearance The parts that were level, or only gently inclined and covered with new fallen snow were of a delicate rose colour, while the perpendicular crags being of pure ice and extremely rugged, look on all the different shades of a most beautiful blue which is, I think peculiar to that substance. We anchored this
evening in a little snug cover, round which the mountains rose abruptly to the hight of 1500 feet. There was a little lightening this evening, the first I have seen in Terra del!
[In margin] Ther.ter 42-38
This morning we have been favored with a sight of Mount Sarmiento for some hours. Our anchorage last night was within 6 miles of its base which is washed by the deep blue water of the Channel. This, altho' very remarkable and perhaps the only instance in a mountain of that magnitude, tends very materialy to deminish the apparent hight from the want of intermediate hights and distances. Its appearance however is exceedingly grand; the principal glacier seems to take its rise within a short distance of its summit, and may be traced covering a great proportion of the western side down to the very edge of the water.
The mountain is now covered with snow excepting about 1500ft of the base. The sky during the whole day was of a light grey and some part of the mountain was alternately hidden by small horizontal clouds of a darker grey by which the effect was considerably hightened. The local colour of the mountains
here is generally composed of a redish brown, green, and purple, and the middle distance redish brown, purple, and slate colour. The dark purple, with some washes of blue serves to mark the numerous hollows and ravines, while those parts which receive the light a generally of a light slate or ash colour, which harmonizes tolerably well with the shadewed parts of the snow, but the whole is much subdued by the intervention of a grey atmosphere which is indeed strongly characteristic of Terra del' scenery.
[In margin] Ther. Max. 44 Min. 39
Today we have emerged from the wild & gloomy region of Tierra del' by the way of the Cockburn Channel, at which place from the almost total want of wood, and the broken and irregular forms of the mountains, the scene of dessolation appears to have reached the highest pitch. Thus we are now fairly on our way up the western coast of S. America without having come either round the Horn or thro' the Straits of Magalhaens.
San Carlos, Chiloe
[In margin] Lat. 41.51' South
Last night to the great satisfaction of all on board we dropped our anchor at this place, after a most protracted and boisterous passage for the first two or three
days. Indeed, the wind was fair which enabled us to get well clear of the land. Contrary winds however almost without interruption were destined to be our portion for the rest of the passage, and generally in such heavy squalls, and with so much sea, that for several successive nights the hatches were battened down, and for the first time I became fully sensible of all the inconveniences of a gale of wind. This however has long ceased to annoy in a serious way any of my companions, but it is with much sorrow that I have to record the loss of one of our messmates - J. Rowlet Esq. Purser - a most pleasant and gentlemanly fellow. His remains were consigned to the deep on the morning of the 28th, with the usual simple but affective ceremony.
July Sunday. July 13th. Weighed anchor and stood out of the harbour, but were compelled by contrary winds to come to again, by getting clear of the Island.
[In margin] San Carlos Island of Chiloe July 1834
The harbour of San Carlos extends inwards a distance of 6 or 8 miles. The land on all sides beautifully wooded, and rising in some places to a hight of
about 700ft. The uniform colour of the forests is partially enlivened and broken by small bright patches of a lighter green; spots chosen and cleared by some of the tolerably numerous but widely scattered inhabitants. The roads here have for the most part a dark and rich tone of colour owing I should think to the trees being nearly all evergreens, the numerous and luxurient creepers and parasites giving them at the same time a very superior and decidedly different character to those of Tierra del Fuego. Owing to the distance which the vessel lay from the town, I visited it but once, deferring 'till our return whatever may be worth seeing in that direction. The inhabitants of point 'Arenas' the land nearest to which we lay are of what I should suppose the middling class, having but little notion of comfort or cleanliness tho' exceedingly kind and well behaved, and hospitable to the fullest extent of their means.
We obtained here a good supply of potatoes,
apples, fowls, pork, and beef, a most welcome addition to our stock, which had indeed been reduced to a very disagreeable state of simplicity. The people here shew but little ingenuity or talent for manufacture excepting in the solitary instance of weaving and dring poncho's, an art for which the Indians in this part of Chile have long been famous. Their boats or paraagua's as they are called, would however scarcely do credit to a Fuegian.
19th. We are now in a fair way of seeing Valparaiso in two or three days, and the climate is fast improving. A smooth sea is a thing we have not seen since leaving the Straits, consequently I have not been able to do any drawing while at sea. The swell in the Pacific is at times exceedingly grand and the maine has hitherto appeared to us very inapplicable.
Spoke an English merchant brig on the 16th five days from Valparaiso who told us the Dublin 50 gun frigate had sailed for England
and in which are most probably our letters from the Faulklands.
Part of a range of the Cordillera's is visible from the harbour of Chiloe including the Volcano of Osorno from the summit of which smoke is plainly perceived. If one can get an opportunity of viewing it before sunrise, after which indeed, as it is nearly east of us and at a distance of more than 60 miles it would entirely disappear. It is entirely covered with snow, of a pyramidal form, that is to say as much as is visible to us, and has rather a grand effect even at that distance.
Valparaiso July 1834
[In margin] Lat. 33.1.S. Long. 71.37.W.
At Night after a tolerable passage we found ourselves off Valparaiso.
22. Calm but beautiful day, during which we lay off about 9 or 10 miles unable to get into the harbour. Fine view of the Cordilleras which however are not particularly elevated with the exception of the mountain of Aconcagua.
23. Early this morning we can to anchor in the bay of Valparaiso.
Augst 8th. Altho this place has been often described, the most striking feature in my opinion has some how or other, escaped with little notice; I know not how far the town may be said to extend, but by far the greater number of inhabitants dwell in small houses cottages in the Quebradas. The land without being much broken into cliffs rises within a short distance from the sea to the hight of 1000 or 1500 feet intersected however by steep and precipitous ravines or quebradas running at right angles with, and terminating at the beach, or more properly speaking, with the principal street which runs in the same direction. These are dotted with innumerable cottages hanging as it were one over the other to a considerable hight, and are accessible only by narrow winding and zigzag paths, and requiring in
many places such a cautious footstep that if some of our previous descriptive troubles have been of the nervous class or subject to giddiness in the head, it is easy to account for this part of Valparaiso not having been more particularly observed. This is certainly the most picturesque part of the town and from the increased elevation the range of mountains seen across the bay have a more spendid and magnificent effect. Of these Aconcagua, tho' the most distant, forms the greatest angle of elevation. It is a volcano tho' not in action, and is said to be 17000 feet in hight - 23,000 by the calculations of the Officers, the Beagle. The Almendral is an extensive suburb occupying a level space to the east of the town but deserving no particular description.
The greater number of foreigners here appear to be English forming the most respectable class of inhabitants, not excepting the Chilians
with whome they appear to have but little intimacy. There are also many germans and americans of good property. Upon the whole the place appears to be thriving, the government is vigilant but at the same time upright, and more tolerant than in most parts of S. America.
The climate is bright, temperate, and exceedingly healthy, but altho' the soil appears rich a good sized tree is but seldom seen. Palm trees are occasionally met with in the neighbourhood but of a clumsey and inelligant form. Since the year -24 no very violent earthquake has been felt here, but slight tremblores as they are called are not unfrequent. These are nothing more than a quick and continued trembling of the earth during the space of 1 or 2 minutes, not exactly similar to that produced by the passing of a heavy carriage, tho' such may perhaps convey
[In Margin] Valparaiso Sept. 1834
the best idea to those who have never experienced it.
The lower class of people appear in general to be happy and contented. One is never annoyed by beggars or misserable objects of compassion. The guitar and dancing is their chief amusement and there is a degree of grace and elegance frequently among the common women which many ladies in England might in vain endeavour to obtain.
Oct. 15. This day I have received my long expected letters from home, from my brother one datd 5th Feby./34 and one from Chideock of 12th April.
Novr. 10th. The Beagle, no longer accompanied by the schooner, sailed from Valparaiso on her way to Chiloe, up to which time I had constantly been employed in finishing the principal part of the sketches which I had made during our cruize to the southward and thus terminated prematurely
my business with Capt. FitzRoy.
Being once more my own master, and now more than ever at liberty to remain here or to go in whatever direction my fancy should lead me or my sober judgement point out; and moreover with my finances in tolerable good order, I determined in the first place after completing a picture upon which I was then at work, to shift my quarters to Santiago, where it was probable that independent of the many beautiful subjects which that part of Chile would afford me, I should obtain likewise a few more commissions, which might besides defraying my current expenses still add something more to my little capital, which I had now determined to nurse with particular care. Chile was not a place well calculated to so forward my views , and of all the places I could think of, or about which I could have any means of forming a judgment, Sidney appeared to be the most likely to suit me.
[In Margin] Valparaiso Decr. 1834
To get there however from Valparaiso was no easy matter. I was told that it might be a year or two before an opportunity offered to go directly across the Pacific, without which it seems I had no other alternative but to go to Canton, between which place and Sidney there is much trade carried on. I had no objection certainly to see Canton but the expenses of the voyage would be considerable, probably not less than £100. Fortune however seemed to favor me. I was on the point of removing myself, bag, and baggage to Santiago, when by accident I heard of a small American Schooner which was about to sail for Tahiti. She had come from thence, and the Capt. whose intention was to have sold her, not meeting with a purchaser, had just then made up his mind to return. From him I likewise learned that I need not unless I pleased stay long at that
place, as there were from thence frequent opportunities of a passage to N.S.Wales. I therefore eventually agreed to go with him. I was to pay 40z, or about £14.8.- Sterling for my passage, and thus accomplish in a short time more than half of what would otherwise have been an exceedingly long and tedious journey. So prompt and active was the Capt. in his movements that I had not more than sufficient time to get myself ready and on the 3rd Decr./34 to the geat surprise and I believe severe regret of my good landlady and her family, I took leave of Valparaiso, tho' not without something of a similar feeling on my own part. 1st on account of the friendly intercourse I had had with some exceedingly pleasant and agreeable people in that place, and secondly that I had not visited the Capital of Chile and made a nearer acquaintance with the noble Cordillieras of which I had now a much more elevated idea than
their first appearance had given me, the ease of which first impression I am more inclined to ascribe to the writings of Capt. Basil Hall than to any insignificance on the part of the mountains themselves.
The passage across the Pacific in this latitude is at all times delightful, in this instance the N.E. trade wind carried us along at the rate of 6-8 and sometimes 9 knots per hour, and in a general temperature of about 80 in the shade. This on shore would certainly be oppressive but at sea and accompanied by a fresh breeze, we could bear very well. In this manner for about 21 days did we continue our uninterrupted voyage, until light winds, calms, and occasionally heavy squalls, with rain, gave signs of approaching land which as the moon had now left us was anxiously looked for during the day. We had run by the log a distance of 3335 miles, but as we had no chronometer, we could not be certain of our distance from Gambiers Group, the land we were then endeavouring to make.
S. 28 Calm.
29 Fair breezes 136
30 Gambiers Island 6 AM 76
Decr. 30. Gambiers Group. Left with Mr Murphy the letters for Mr Nobbs and Mr Buffett who were at another part of the island, and likewise the letter for Mr Evans which would shortly be forwarded to him at Pitcairns.
Gambiers Group Decr. 30. 1834
[In margin] Lat. 22 50'S. Long. 134.58.W.
On the morning of the 30th when we
had almost come to the conclusion that we had run past it during the night, land suddenly shewed itself on the weather beam from beneath a raining cloud, and two high peaks at once proved it to be the land we were in search of. We immediately bore up and in about 2 hours came to anchor in a small bay under the lea of one of the principal islands.
A party of natives soon made their appearance but as the raft which they were navigating was merely three or four logs lashed together and not sufficient to accomodate the whole party save of the youngest, were under the necessity of swimming by the side taking an occasional rest by holding on in the same way as boys assist themselves by runing behind a carriage. The Capt. and myself on our part lost no time in returning the visit on shore, principally for the purpose of finding the two missionaries, whome we knew were somewhere on the Group, and for whome the Capt. had brought a supply
of provisions from Valparaiso. These two identicle persons however we could easily distinguish as we approached the shore, by their long white robes, and three-cornered hats, followed by a number of the savage looking natives of whome by far the greater part has no covering but the loin cloth or maro.
The missionarys were french Roman Catholics. They had been about four months at the islands making alternate visits of a few days from one to another. Where we now found them was not that of their general residence, and we therefore took them in our boat along with their stores to their own island, the better to observe their manner of living and to judge how far they were likely to succeed in their mission.
There we found things better than we expected having something like an appearance of comfort, tho' this is easily obtained where the leaves are always green, and the sun always shines and where the cocoa nut and the breadfruit tree are made
to shade at pleasure their little dwelling from its too powerful rays.
The chastisement which the natives [received] from Capt. Beechy in H.M.S. Blossom appears to have had a beneficial effect as far as we could judge. They seem now to be well desposed towards strangers, but as we did not land on the principal island where the King resides we cannot answer. It seems indeed that he had refused for him to admit the holy men upon his island.
They are a fine race of people of a stature decidedly above the European standard with a very intelligent expression of countenance altho' somewhat ferocious in appearance on account of the beard and mustache which are always allowed to grow. The islands which form the group are I believe about 9 in number, partly surrounded and intersected by corral reefs tho' I should suppose the islands themselves of volcanic origin. They are mostly of a pyramidal form, and have at a distance rather a barren appearance, as the vegetation is mostly confined to the narrow
slip of low land that surrounds them.
As our anchorage would not have been safe in the event of a westerly wind, we left there the evening of the same day and stood on our course towards Tahiti.
Jany 4th. About noon we passed some low land at a short distance to the northward of us, which the Capt. supposed to be part of Bunyers group, and the next morning land again made its appearance which we at first concluded was Chain island. A near view however soon convinced us of our error, being indeed at that time as we afterwards found, distant from it at least 130 miles. This circumstance, when I considered that we were within a short distance of a numerous cluster of small, low islands, convinced me that our voyage was at this time somewhat hazardous, particularly as we seldom shortened sail for the night tho' there was no moon; we trusted entirely to a good lookout, notwithstanding the Capt. as he informed me had himself
been wrecked under similar circumstances upon one of this very group called Furneau's Island, he himself however was exceedingly negligent.
On the morning of the 6th the true Chain Island or "Anaa as it is called by the natives came in sight. It is a low island or rather chain of islands connected by a corral reef and enclosing one or more large and beautiful lagoons. There is no harbour and very bad anchoring ground. The vessel therefore stood off and on, while a boat was sent on shore to barter for pigs, cocoanuts &c. &c. I joined the shore party taking with me a few shoemakers knives, to exchange for shells or anything that might appear curious. We had to row a long way before we could effect a landing as the sea broke heavily upon the uninterrupted wall of corral. At last we found a small opening into which the boat was thrust, tho' still far from the beach amidst rocks and pools of water. The natives had by this time collected in considerable numbers
and I therefore made signs to a very large and powerful man whome I saw among the crowd, that he should take me on his back, which he immediately did and carried me quickly across the reef to the shade of beautiful cocoanut trees which we here found growing in the greatest profusion. Here another party of natives awaited us out of which steped a short illmade man, but who nevertheless appeared to be a chief, and without speaking, took me by the hand and led me to his house.
This consisted but of one room. It contained two or three beds, made similar to those in general use among the south sea islanders, viz a square frame of wood across which is stretched a network of ceuit or cord plaited from the fibres of cocoanut bark. This is raised about 2 feet from the ground and covered with one or two mats. Upon that on which I was invited to sit, lay a little child, naked but fast asleep and who I could not but remark, continued in undisturbed repose throughout all the noise and bustle that ensued.
The house was in a short time filled with a crowd of men, women and children, for as far as I could judge from what I saw both here and at the other islands, all have the privilege of entree without ceremony or invitation. Here, after we had sufficiently stared at each other, finding the heat almost intolerable, I made the signal for a move, thinking it would be as well to see what might have become of my little party whom I had not seen since landing and who were as well as myself entirely at the mercy of the people if they should feel inclined to take advantage of our situation. Upon going out however I soon perceived them, surrounded by a crowd, while the children despairing of a peep by other means, had climbed and were hanging about the trees like monkeys.
The natives appeared to conduct themselves exceedingly well and I found a brisk trade going on with pigs, pearls, and cocoanuts, in exchange for printed cotton, and tobacco. The chief in whose house
I had been and who had chosen me for his friend, no sooner perceived that pigs were in demand, than he ordered two large ones to be caught and laid before making signs that I should accept them along with some mats and a heap of cocoanuts. This I declined and perceiving that the wind had freshened and was fair for us, proposed that we should take leave of our new acquaintances, accordingly with a promise that we would again visit them, we made the best of our way to the boat and pushed off for the vessel; by this time there was a considerable swell, and we soon came up with a canoe, the owner of which had been sent off with some pigs as we thought our little boat too small to take every thing we had purchased. His canoe however had unfortunately swamped. He was alone, swimming round it, endeavouring at the same time to
get the water out, and to keep the pigs in, and altho' his own life was in no great danger, that of his pigs, and his own patience (tho' an Indian) were likely soon to be exhausted. We at last contrived tho' with considerable risk of upsetting out boat, which would indeed have been a far more serious disaster, to get the noisy grunters into it, and a present of a small piece of tobacco, sent the poor fellow well pleased back to the shore. We got on board without further mishap and were soon out of sight of the island.
[In margin] We were afterwards told that they were very treacherous and had committed many acts of piracy
7th. The next morning the small island called Mitea was visible distant about 20 miles on our weather beam, in form very much resembling the core of a volcanoe and soon after Tahiti itself, having at first the appearance of two islands, similar in form, rising gradually from a broad base, to a considerable hight in the centre. Our distance from it when first visible would not have been less
than 70 miles, consequently it was very doubtful whether we should arrive at the anchorage before night even with a fresh breeze, but to our great disappointment the wind by degrees died away to a perfect calm, and left us for the whole of that night and all the next day to the mercy of a heavy rolling sea accompanied by incessant rain; about sunset however a light air from the land at last relieved us, and we sailed slowly along in a parallet direction with it until an opening in the reef to what is called Tawnie
[In margin] Tawnoa
bay became visible. It was now about midnight, the moon was bright and near the full, and shewed us clearly for a great distance the long silvery line of breakers whose deep and solemn roar told us in language not to be misunderstood that short would be the work of destruction if we once got among them. Of course no pilot made his
appearance, altho we [were] near enough to distinguish the houses on shore but whose inmates were at this time little conscious of our approach or prepared to render us assistance had it been needed. The wind was very light, and the most prudent course would doubtless have been to run off and wait 'till morning, but the appearance of the weather to seaward, was by no means inviting. The whole extent of the horizon was obscured by a dense, mysterious looking, mass of vapour, tho' at intervals the lightening which was now becoming more and more vivid shewed for a moment the rounded forms of clouds filed confusedly one upon another and the thunder, altho' still distant, was now plainly distinguishable from the steady and uninterrupted sound of the breakers.
The Capt. therefore determined to attempt the passage; the little schooner was close hauled to the wind, but before
we could reach the opening, tho' within a short gunshot, the air had lightened to a breath, and it was clear that in a few minutes the vessel would lose all power of guidance.
[In margin] Our situation was now one of intense interest. Often was the hand held up to ascertain if possible in what direction the wind might be coming, but not a word was heard upon the deck.
The width of the opening was not above 200 yards and the enormous arch of the wave as it descended upon the reef, was clearly visible on both side of us, by degrees however we drew off the vessel, again felt the breeze, and I retired to my berth full of thankfulness for having escaped so dangerous a situation, and thinking that I should see no more of the reef 'till morning but the wind had freshened so fast, and continued so steady that the Capt. in a short time came down to tell me that he intended to make one more attempt. In this he fortunately succeeded and in a quarter of an hour we found ourselves safely at anchor within a short distance of the beach. The next morning the
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The next morning presented a scene of beauty and magnificence of which it would be useless in me to attempt a description. The storm had not reached the island but was still visible in the horizon and the thundering surf upon the reef gave token of its fury, within which however, our little vessel lay in perfect calmness & security.
Before us was the island, green & silvery with the light of early morning and presenting a beautiful variety of grand mountain forms broken by mist and vapour, rich small vallies matted with luxuriant vegetation and the neatly thatched habitations of the islanders, half hidden by the enormous leaves of the banana or overshadowed by the gracefully waving cocoanut tree.
Upon going ashore however my extacies received a slight check by being told that it was doubtful whether I should be allowed to remain upon the island. It seemed a law had just been passed that no foreigners should on any account be allowed to purchase
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land nor even set foot upon the island without leave. The jealousy of the natives had been excited by some foolish person having told them that the King of the Sandwich Islands had lost all his power by being too indulgent to foreingers, and that such would soon be the case with the Queen of Tahiti, added to which I believe her anger had been somewhat raised by the late visit of Capt. Seymour in the "Challenger who came to demand restitution of certain acts of piracy which had been committed upon some island of her majestys dominions, but one [over] which it is very clear she had not the slightest control. I therefore thought it best to have an audience with her majesty and requested Mr Pritchard the missionary to accompany me as interpreter. Two days however elapsed before we went, and in the mean time it became known that I was an officer of an English man of war which would visit the island before many months. This as well as it being likewise made known that I intended only to remain a short time ensured me a very favourable reception. Her majesty was pleased to say that I might draw pictures and go wherever I pleased about the island, without molestation.
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vessel was towed for about a mile within the reef to the Harbour of Papiete, the principal place of anchorage for all vessels coming to this side of the island. The whole island of Tahiti may be about 40 or 50 miles in length, by 20 or 25 in breadth but is nearly divided in the middle, the two parts being only connected by a narrow neck of land.
[In margin] It is nearly surrounded by a reef, which is generally at a considerable distance from the shore within which the water is at all times smooth and in my opinion one of the most beautiful features of these islands by hightening in the greatest degree the appearance of tranquility therefore.
The Queen and the royal family reside at present upon a small island within the harbour of Papiete, where during the time of my visit, she gave birth to a son and heir to the Tahitian throne, a fortunate circumstance, as there would in all probability have been much contention and bloodshed among the people in the event ot her dying without issue.
[In margin] Her house is made the same as the others upon the island, and she lives without any particular state or ceremony.
She is a young woman tolerabley goodlooking with hands and feet remarkably small and delicate. She has been however until lately, exceedingly free and unrestrained in her conduct,
that is to say, somewhat prone to drunkenness and other kinds of debauchery, but is now much reformed: her chief connection is an aunt, a woman, by all accounts posssessed of much good sense and no little courage, which was proved a short time since in a skirmish with a revolutionary party from the opposite side of the island, in which she shouldered her musquet, led on the troops, and caused by her example a signal defeat and over-throw of the opposing forces.
For my accommodation while at the island, I am endebted to the kindness and hospitality of Mr Pritchard the missionary of that part of the island, in whose house I resided and from whome as well as from Mrs Pritchard I received numerous acts of kindness. Mr P. is a very sensible man and has resided many years upon the island
and is well calculated for the situation which he holds, not perhaps so much on account of his talent for preaching as for the great interest which he takes in everything relating to improvement, order, & justice, upon the island.
From the luxurious softness of the air, and beautiful profusion with which nature has distributed every where the most wholesome food, both for man and beast, it is not surprising that the natives in general are found to be lazy and inactive; breadfruit the grand allie of food, grows plentifully round their dwellings. The Fei, or mountain banana, may be had for the trouble of fetching it, and the cocoanut tree is everywhere to be seen not only in scattered groups but forming at intervals, thick and shady groves. There is also the tarro, the yam, and sweet potatoe, and for delicious fruits, the banana, the Yu,
pine apple, and the guava, with limes, citrous, and oranges in abundance, as well as great quantities of excellent arrow-root. Bullocks, pigs and fowls range over the island at liberty and are taken but little care of.
Tahiti is very mountainous, having no level land but that which is bordering on the sea shore, and where alone the inhabitants reside. It is therefore no easy matter for a visitor to examine the interior of the country. A days walk where there are no paths and but little open ground, will go but a short way towards it. In the dry season however, with one or two natives to act as guides, to carry occasionally across the streams, to gather food, and to build if necessary a hut for the night, one might if possessing a moderate share of enthusiasm for the picturesque, or taste for natural history, spend a
week with much pleasure, and but little real hardship.
The island exhibits strong proof of volcanic origin. Oropena, the highest mountain, has an altitude of at least 7000 feet from whose base diverge valleys, the steep sides of which are covered with the most luxuriant vegetation, and at the bottom sometimes almost impassable by enormous blocks of porous lava, or by the torrent which running round the perpendicular precipices which itself has formed, alternately on the one side and the other, obliging the explorer to cross and recross it many times within the distance of a quarter of a mile.
[In margin] Tahiti
The climate is a perpetual summer with but little variation of temperature, indeed during the rainy season which they call the winter, viz. Jany. Feby. and March, the island has by far the most luxuriant appearance. Not having a thermometer I was unable to ascertain
exactly but should suppose the medium temperature at noon in the shade to be about "80 Faren.t
There is not much rise and fall of tide, but what appears mostly of remark, is, that it is invariably high water at noon and midnight.
The number of inhabitants upon Tahiti is supposed to be at this time about 5000. It is by no means so populous as it was many years ago altho infanticide was then very commonly practiced, nor have the inhabitants at all improved in their way of living but on the contrary appear in many instances to have retrograded. The introduction of ardent spirits however of which they are immoderately fond, has lately been entirely prohibited and much improvement may I think now be reasonably expected. Few ships frequent the place besides American Whalers from whome of course no advantage
to their moral character can be expected to arise. They are very desirous of getting money tho' it is in fact but of little use to them, and are frequently rediculously exhorbitant in their demands. They are a robust and healthy people considerably above the European standard of hight, subject to few if any of the diseases prevalent in Europe. They have however two kinds of diseases peculiar to themselves, which are very distressing, one of which called the Faypay generally attacks foreigners who have been long resident in the climate, causing the legs and various parts of the body to swell to an enormous size.
The Tahitian shew no particular skill in manufacture. Their canoes are clumsey and ill formed tho' very picturesque when under sail. Their houses are generally built in the form of parrallelogram with circlular ends, the roof is neatly thatched with the leaves [of the] Farra palm.
[In margin] The dress of the natives is not now so picturesque as formerly. The women wear nothing but a loose slovenly kind of gown, or rous about as it is called, and on Sundays they shew off with some fine shawl and straw bonnet with red ribbons. The men look better. They have generally a skirt of red & white stripes and confined about the waist by a piece of blue cloth wrapped round and reaching to about the knee. The girls retain more of the original style of dress, having merely a large piece of their own manufactured stuff or some gay printed cotton, thrown about them in graceful folds and their black shining hair ornamented with a favourite red flower placed over each ear. They are frequently finely formed, and rather pretty.
The side of the house, when not entirely open, is formed of pealed sticks, placed upright and at a small distance apart. They have at a distance when surrounded by the enormous leaves of the tarro and the plantoin, something of the appearance of a magpies cage and to which the leaves of a full grown cabbage would bear about the same proportion.
The most curious article of manufacture is their cloth, being made of the inner bark of the breadfruit tree, the pieces of which after being duly prepared, are united by being beaten together while in a moist state, upon a long beam of wood, perfectly flat upon the upper surface and about 6 or 8 inches wide. This employment tho' tolerably hard work is frequently at the same time a source of amusement. The beam by being hollowed at the under part
gives out when struck a clear, sharp and not unmusical sound. This, if many women happen to be engaged upon the same piece of work, is accompanied by singing and if they are in a particularly merry mood by dancing also, the whole party springing up from the ground on which they have been sitting, for a few seconds and then with a simultaneous movement resuming their work.
The neighbouring island of Moorea adds much to the beauty of Tahitian scenery. It bears N.W. distant about 14 miles. It is very mountainous and exceedingly picturesque in its form and quite equal to Tahiti in richness of vegetation. It is about 15 miles in length by 8 or 9 in breadth.
[In margin] This island is more easy to explore than Tahiti. During my visit there for a few days I managed to walk across it and also to circumnavigate in a canoe, within the reef.
On it is the school for the education of the missionaries children employed upon these and the neighbouring islands and
under the management of Mr Simpson the missionary, an exceedingly hospitable and biblical minded man.
Voyage to the Colony
4th. The "Black Warrior, Capt. Millet - an American merchant ship, in which I had engaged my passage to the colony being ready for sea, I took leave of my friends and acquaintances at Tahiti after a visit of 7 weeks, and proceeded on board. As the wind was fair we passed between the two islands of Tahiti and Moorea, which in a few hours after had assumed the beautiful pearly tint, which distance in this delightful climate never fails to produce. The ship was large and well regulated, and the Capt. a wellbehaved gentlemanly man. I had moreover the choice of two or three staterooms, all which things I considered myself so fortunate in having found at such a place as Tahiti, that I made no objection to the charge of
£20 for the passage, tho' the distance was no more than that of my last, for which I had only paid £14. or thereabouts.
10th. Made the island of Rucuta. It has nothing remarkable in its form, the highest point is I should suppose about 1500 feet and its greatest length 5 miles. It is not surrounded by a reef, but at intervals rises into bold and rockly headlands perpendicular from the waters edge. Here the Capt. took in some cocoanut oil which he had previously purchased and we proceeded.
[In margin] Island of Mangeea
[In margin] Lat. 21.57.S. Long. 158.7.W.
In the afternoon with a light breeze we made "Mangeea, the island from which stone adges and other curious articles of native workmanship are procured, and we were therefore pleased to preceive several canoes coming towards us from the shore, knowing that this would be
the last time we should have an opportunity of purchasing, except at a high price, things of this description. The natives however anticipated the demand, had brought a good supply, particularly of adges, for each of which the price generally asked was a fathom of cloth, of in other words, two yards of plain, white, or printed cotton, the general name of cloth being applied whether the stuff be cotton, wollen, or any other kind of manufacture.
We were soon after visited by a white man named "Conaut, who came accompanied by two of the principal chiefs, and whose principal object was to purchase wine as they said for the sacrament, this for what seemed to me a parcel of halfnaked savages, I confess somewhat surprised me. I knew indeed that they had long since been said to have embraced christianity, but that no white missionary had hitherto resided among them.
The mere circumstance however of a man's being with, or without breeches, is not that by which in this part of the world, one may judge of his advancement in knowledge. Decency here requires little more than the maro, still less does the climate, and I am therefore unwilling to dispute, as for want of opportunity I am incompetent to judge of their advancement in mental civilization.
The ship was now abrest of the principal settlement. The sea was quite calm, altho there was a light air from the land sufficient to keep the ship manageable. Mr Conaut had told us that by going on shore we should get a good supply of turkeys, pigs &c. &c., and that by getting into a canoe out side the reef we should land in perfect safety. The Capt. therefore proposed that as during the calm little time would be lost, we should pay them a visit. Accordingly the whale boat was lowered from the ship, we steped into it, and pulled for the shore, taking with us plenty
of cloth &c. &c. The reef was indeed as we had been told, far too formidable for our boat to attempt. We therefore transferred ourselves and our "pedlars pack, well sto'd with "six peny prints, and calicoe as coarse as hapsack, to a canoe, and waiting for a favourable opportunity, shot through the surf amidst the shouts of two or three hundred wondering and delighted spectators.
The scene was wild and picturesque in the extreme; the sun had long set but the moon was at the full, and the sky without a cloud. Many of the men carried torches, and as they ran and jumped, now over, and now behind the rocks, for the very ground partook of the wild nature of the scene, and while dark swarthy faces with eager eyes, at one moment strongly lighted by the glaring torch, and the next in dark relief, shewed themselves ever and anon, so close and so full in front as to check ones footstep, I could
not but wish, often and vainly as I have done before, that some one of those congenial spirits at home whome memory holds dear, could have been a partaker with me in the enjoyment of the novel scene.
We were indirectly conducted to a house belonging to one of the chiefs, and here we could not but express our surprise, for instead of the cagelike shed as at Tahiti sometimes without door or window, and with no enclosure but that which is necessary to keep out the pigs, we steped over a stile into a neat forecourt thro' which was a walk leading to the house strewed with white coral sand, and bordered with a row of flowering shrubs, while the court itself was tastefully planted with pines, bananas &c.
The house was neatly plastered, having windows in the form of venetian blinds, and surrounded by a verandah which
as well as the floor of the house [was] laid with boards, and raised a few steps from the ground. The room into which we were ushered, and in due form introduced to the wife of the chief, contained neither beds, nor bamboo's of oil, but instead of which, were three sofa's of native workmanship, made of brown wood enlaid with white, two or three chairs, and a table on which was soon spread a supper of fish, breadfuit, tarra, and bananas, with plates, and knives and forks. None of these conveniences, any more than the comfortable style of house, are to be seen at Tahiti except in the possession of the missionaries, and the cordial welcome with these things were proffered to us, at the small unfrequented and insignficent island of Mangeea, was a agreeable as it was unexpected, and for my part
I gave proof of my satisfaction by eating a most hearty supper. We afterwards went ot see the church which had been lately built and is certainly a singular specimen of the skill and persevering industry of the natives. It is 140 feet in length, the roof supported by three rows of pillars, every one of which, together with the beams, rafters, wallplate, in short every piece of wood that was visible, being carved most minutely, and afterwards painted with a curious mixture of black and white lines; the whole having been begun and finished in little more than four months.
By this time the people had driven their pigs to market and accordingly upon coming out of the church, the business of bartering began and was carried on in a most amusing way for at least 3 hours, without a single dispute, at the end of which time
we were in the possession of 47 turkeys, 8 pigs, several heaps of tarro, banana's and cocoanuts, besides spears, clubs, native cloth, and other curiosities, and one sacriligious rogue seeing that we had admired the church extremely, actually brought a large piece of the carved woodwork for sale, which however we declined to purchase, being unwilling to give offence, or to set a bad example and therefore dismissed the unprincipaled trader with contempt, and thus after cordially shaking hands with the chiefs and wishing them long to continue free from the corruption of the Tahitians, we embarked with our supplies, and a light breeze soon carried us away from the interesting island of Mangeea.
April 4. The appearance of the northern coast of New Zealand is remarkable only for the numerous insulated
rocks and small islands which are to be met with, the general outline tho' broken and tolerably high does not assume a mountainous form. The land in the neighbourhood of the Bay of Islands has [by] no means a rich or promising appearance. It is mostly covered with brushwood and while trees are met with, they are neither large nor healthy looking having together with the land a grey, dull, and sombre tone of coloring which reminded me strongly of some parts of Tierra del Fuego.
The bay itself might perhaps more properly be called a sound, containing as it does so many bays, islands, creeks and inlets.
The number of white people residing in scattered groups about the bay may perhaps amount to 1000. These are for the most part
keepers of grog shops, and petty dealers in ships stores, tho' there are some few very respectable persons including of course H.B.M. Consul Mr Busby who altho' he does very little work may perhaps be considered entitled to his salary of £500 per annum on account of the inconveniences which at this out of the way place he must necessarily have to put up with.
The missionaries are both numerous and thriving and I regret that I had no oportunity of judging of the result of their labours, the state of the people in the bay can hardly be taken for a criterion being as it is the resort of whaleships and others of that description whose crews when on shore are subject to no kind of restraint.
April 9 Kororarika the native village near
which our ship lay is an assemblage of some 50 or 60 huts constructed of wattled reeds and consisting of one or at most two apartments each tolerably weatherproof together with a small open space in front over which the roof projects. No light is admitted to the inner chamber but by the door and there is altogether a gloom and savageness about it as well as in the appearance of the natives themselves which contrasted strongly in my mind with the cherrful appearance of the Tahitians.
April 9. Sailed from the Bay of Islands and on 17 arrived at Port Jackson, having had a strong and fair wind the whole way.
The appearance when off the heads of port Jackson is that of a wild and iron bound coast and the entrance that of a gigantic gateway, but the scene changes immediately upon entering
to the calm and beautiful. Islands, bays and headlands of no great highs but covered with wood present themselves in succession and after passing a point about 2 miles within the entrance, the town of Sydney is seen tho' still at a distance of 5 or 6 miles and still further the faint outline of the blue mountains in the interior.
Notes Upon the Journal & Transcription
Conrad Martens (1801-78) is widely regarded as Australia's foremost watercolourist of the colonial period, having produced a large body of work whilst resident in New South Wales between 1835-78. His journal of a voyage from England to Australia during 1833-35 was until recently catalogued as an 'Anonymous Journal of a Voyage on board H.M.S. Hyacinth' (Mitchell Library ML A429). However early in 1993 Ms Elizabeth Ellis, whilst viewing the manuscript in connection with her researches into the artist, identified it as from his hand. This was a significant find as it also contained an account of Martens' time aboard His Majesty's sloop Beagle between 1833-4, forming an especially interesting addition to the archive of extant Beagle-related material which includes the diaries, journals, letters and published accounts of individuals such as Charles Darwin and Robert Fitzroy, along with the pictorial record of Martens, Augustus Earle and other amateur artists.
The surviving manuscript is a rare example of the travel journal of an early nineteenth century English landscape painter. It is steeped in Picturesque language and terminology, reflecting the artist's training in that method under Anthony Vandyke Copley Fielding, and as part of the then burgeoning English school of watercolour painting. Throughout his travels Martens was mainly concerned with encountering and recording varied and rugged landscapes, 'wild and picturesque in the extreme.' Days spent in transit on calm flat seas, with no land to be seen for miles in any direction, were of no great interest, though he did endeavour to observe cloud and wave formations and expand his knowledge of meteorology. It was upon encountering the rugged ice-capped and glacier shrouded mountains of Tierra del Fuego, or the tropical vegetation of Valparaiso and Tahiti, that the artist was most aroused. This is reflected in the large collection (numbering over 400 individual works) of extant pencil sketches and finished watercolours that record pictorially this period of his life. Martens' Journal also contains extensive descriptions of the picturesque scenery and 'exotic' natives such as the Patagonian Indians, Gauchos of South America and South Sea islanders met with during the three years spent travelling from England to Australia via South America and the Pacific Islands. Both the Journal and paintings and drawings are complementary, combining to provide a detailed picture of the artist's response to new localities and unfamiliar peoples.
The results of this intense period of visual stimulation were profound. The artist who boarded the Hyacinth at Falmouth harbour on 10 May 1833 was a skilled amateur, adept in the execution of the pencil sketch and unextraordinary in the use of watercolour. When Conrad Martens arrived in Sydney on 17 April 1835 his ability to select a picturesque view and use watercolour to reproduce the emotive power of nature had improved to such a degree that he was an instant success amongst the small, though knowledgeable art community of the colony. Over the next five years he would produce some of the most picturesque and romantic landscapes in watercolour of New South Wales to appear during the nineteenth century, laying the foundation for a uniquely Australian oeuvre.
This work contains a straightforward transcription of Martens' Journal, with minimal editorial input. As the artist was want to use punctuation infrequently - preferring simple commas and semi-colons to full stops and capitals - the editor has necessarily taken some liberties in inserting the latter to assist in comprehension and general readability. Paragraphs have also been allocated to break up the flow. Marginal paragraph titles and headings (e.g. 'At Sea, HMS Hyacinth'; 'Funchal, Madiera') are also placed within the text where appropriate, though these are often repetitive. Spelling inconsistencies or errors are as per Martens, e.g. ‘Hight´ for ‘Height´, ‘enormus´ for ‘enormous´, etc.
It is obvious from internal evidence that the Journal was written up by Martens at a later stage, though based on his everyday diary notes and memories of the voyage. This is further suggested when we consider the extant diary entries for the period December 1834 - January 1835 contained in one of his sketchbooks in the Dixson Library collection (DL PX13). A copy of a letter by Martens to his brother Henry, written at the Falkland Islands and dated 19 March 1834, is also included within the body of the transcription.
Conrad Martens and the Beagle
Conrad Martens' Journal of a Voyage from England to Australia is somewhat remiss in its description of the circumstances that brought about the artist's engagement on the Beagle during October 1833 and subsequent departure at Valparaiso in November 1834. From various sources we know that upon the Hyacinth's arrival at Rio de Janeiro, Martens encountered Lt. Hammond, a former Beagle crewman then on his way back to England. Hammond informed Martens of the expedition's urgent need for an artist and draughtsman. Much enthused about the opportunity on offer, he left the Hyacinth and made his way to Monte Video to meet up with the Beagle and attempt to persuade Captain Fitzroy to take him on.
A letter from Fitzroy to Charles Darwin, dated 'Monte Video, 4th October 1833', records aspects of the subsequent meeting and Martens' successful efforts at persuasion: 'If Mr P.[arry] has written as he intended, you have heard of Mr Martens - Earle's Successor, - a stone pounding artist - who exclaims in his sleep "think of me standing upon a pinnacle of the Andes, or sketching a Fuegian Glacier!!!". By my faith in Bumpology, I am sure you will like him, and like him very much - he is - or I am wofully mistaken - a "rara avis in navibus, - Carlo que Simillima Darwin". - Don't be jealous now for I only put in the last bit to make the line scan - you know very well your degree is "rarissima" and that your line runs thus - Est avis in navibus Carlos rarissima Darwin. - but you will think I am cracked so seriatim he is a gentlemanlike well informed man. His landscapes are really good (compared with London men), though perhaps in figures he cannot equal Earle. He is very industrious, and gentlemanlike in his habits, - (not a small recommendation).' (Keynes, 1979, 159)
Captain Fitzroy further referred to the circumstances of Martens' engagement within the initial pages of the published Narrative: 'Knowing well that no one actively engaged in the surveying duties on which we were going to be employed, would have time - even if he had ability - to make much use of the pencil, I engaged an artist, Mr. Augustus Earle, to go out in a private capacity; though not without the sanction of the Admiralty, who authorized him also to be victualled .... Mr Earle suffered so much from continued ill health, that he could not remain on board the Beagle after August 1832; but he lived at Monte Video several months previously to his return to England. The disappointment caused by loosing his services was diminished by meeting Mr Martens at Monte Video, and engaging him to embark with me as my draughtsman .... Mr Martens left me, at Valparaiso, in 1834.' (Fitzroy, 1839, 19-20)
On 13 November 1833 Charles Darwin recorded in a letter to his sister the last notice of Augustus Earle, and the first of his replacement: 'Poor Earl has never been well since leaving England & now his health is so entirely broken up that he leaves us - & Mr Marten, a pupil of C. Fielding, & excellent landscape drawer, has joined us. He is a pleasant person, & like all birds of that class, full up to the mouth with enthusiasm.' (Barlow, 1945, 95). A further note regarding Martens was recorded in Darwin's diary on 7 December: 'Mr Martens is on board the Beagle filling the place which Mr Earle is obliged to vacate from ill health.' (Darwin, 1935, 201)
Conrad Martens is thereafter rarely mentioned in the published accounts of the voyage. A notable exception concerns his involvement in securing the specimen of a rare ostrich-like bird, subsequently given the name Rhea darwinii. Darwin, in his Journal of Researches, recorded the results of an excursion with Martens during which the bird was taken: 'When at Port Desire, in Patagonia (Lat. 48o), Mr Martens shot an ostrich; and I looked at it, forgetting at the moment, in the most unaccountable manner, the whole subject of the Petises, and thought it was a not full-grown bird of the common sort. [While at Rio Negro, Northern Patagonia, Darwin had repeatedly heard the Gauchos talking of a very rare bird which they called avestruz petise.] It was cooked and eaten before my memory returned. Fortunately the head, legs, wings, many of the larger feathers, and a large part of the skin, had been preserved; and from these a very nearly perfect specimen has been put together, and is now exhibited in the museum of the Zoological Society. Mr. Gould, in describing this new species [Rhea Darwinii], has done me the honour of calling it after my name.' (Darwin, 1846, 118-9)
Following their voyage to Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands between December 1833 and July 1834, Darwin refers to Martens in a letter written during 20-29 July 1834, whilst en route to Valparaiso: 'Our new artist, who joined us at M. Video, is a pleasant sort of person, rather too much of the drawing-master about him; he is very unlike to Earle´s eccentric character. - We all jog on well together, there is no quarrelling on board, which is something to say: - The Captain keeps all smooth by rowing every one in turn.' (Darwin, 1985, 103)
The Beagle remained for more than three months at Valparaiso (23 July-6 November 1834). Fitzroy, in a letter written from that place on 14 August, notes at during this period: 'Mr Martens (the Artist) is at work on shore, living with an exceedingly able man of the same profession, a German by the name 'Rugendas'. Pray when you have five minutes to bestow upon beautiful prints ask at a shop for Voyage pittoresque en Bresil par M. Rugendas, published by 'Engelmann, Graf & Condor', Newman St. They are the most faithful, the very best delineations of Tropical scenery and human beings that I have seen or can imagine it possible to produce. Rugendas has been lately in Mexico, and is now here, collecting material for another work.' (Keynes, 1979, 231)
As a result of lack of financial support from the government, Fitzroy was shortly thereafter forced to sell the tender vessel Adventure and let go a number of the crew, including Martens. Darwin noted in his diary on 26 September 1834: 'Mr Martens, the artist, has been obliged from want of room to leave the Beagle.' (Darwin, 1935, 249). In the meantime, Martens busied himself aboard the Beagle with the task of completing the many drawings and watercolours he had taken during the previous twelve months, passing them on to Fitzroy for inclusion in the planned published account of the expedition. An extract survives of one of the artists' letters written at Valparaiso during October 1834: '....painting while we are here, I am on board every day. It is so pleasant to be once more in the midst of those with whom I have gone thro' no little toil & danger and all the misfortunes of storm and sunshine. It is almost like home but not when I recollect how far you are from me I cannot consent to call it by that name. Since landing and ..... I reproach myself for not writing to you from Valparaiso but I was so busy and had so much upon my mind at the time I was there, and left it so suddenly, and writing to....' (Martens, MS142, 163)
Martens was now forced to reassess his plans for the immediate future. At first he was indecisive, considering travelling on to Santiago, and as Darwin noted in a letter to his sister Caroline, dated 13 October 1834: 'It is necessary also to leave our little painter, Martens, to wander about the world.' (Darwin, 1985, 108). However the artist was somewhat buoyed by the opportunities before him. He was once again his own master and, as he records in his Journal, 'now more than ever at liberty to remain here or go in whatever direction my fancy should lead me'. With the Beagle scheduled to sail for Chile on 10 November, Martens finally decided on travelling to the colony of New South Wales. On 5 November he obtained a letter of introduction from Fitzroy to Philip Parker King, father of fellow crew member Philip Gidley King junr., and former commander of the Beagle. King, now a Rear Admiral (retired), was an influential settler in the colony, able to open many doors for Martens as a professional artist there. The surviving portion of Fitzroy's letter reads as follows:
5th Nov. 1834
Dear Captain King
The bearer of this letter, Mr Conrad Martens, has parted from me, I am
sorry to say, because there is no longer room for him on board the
Beagle, nor money for him in my pocket. Had I more money, and more
storage rooms, I should not think of ending my engagement with him. He
has been nearly a year with us, and is much liked by my shipmates and
myself. He is a quiet, industrious, good fellow, and I wish him well. He
thinks of visiting and perhaps settling at Sydney, therefore I write this
letter by way of an introduction to you. Enclosed is a letter I received
about him from Captain Blackwood of the Hyacinth. You will be able to
judge of his abilities, by a glance at his works, far better than any
words of mine. He has a host of views of Terra Del. [Feugo] in his sketch
book. His profession is his maintenance....
Captain P.P. King R.N.
[King Family Papers, Mitchell Library FM4/66, pp.55-7]
Martens later met up with his old shipmates when the Beagle arrived in Sydney during 1836, during which period he sold a number of South American watercolours to both Darwin and Fitzroy (Nicholas, 1989). His final comment on the Beagle expedition and his former comrades is contained in an letter to Charles Darwin written in 1862 and commenting on that author's infamous book The Origin of the Species, published in London in 1859:
T. Chas Darwin Esq.
Many thanks old shipmate for your kind message which I have just recd. by the padre. I thought you had quite forgotten that I was in existence and certainly [when a] the man who voluntarily sets himself down in such a place as this has no right to grumble if he finds such to be the case. As it appears however that you have still two of my sketches hanging up in your room, I hope you will not refuse to accept another which I shall have much pleasure in preparing and will send you by the next mail.
Your "book of the season" as the reviewers have it, I must own I have not yet read altho Mr Clarke offered to lend it me. I am afraid of your eloquence and I don't want to think that I have an origin in common with toads and tadpoles for if there is anything in human nature that I hate it is a toady, but of course I know nothing of the subject, and they do make such microscopes now adays. I suppose yours is one of the best that Ross could make.
By the by I got him to make two eyepieces for a reflector telescope just before he died, two metals for which I have succeeded in making of 6 & 7 feet focal length and so now I can shew the good people here the mountains in the moon turned up side down as of course they ought to be when seen from the antipodes. But I must apologize for I suppose you dont laugh at nonsense now as you used to do in the Beagle or rather I suppose nonsense does not come in your way.
Well, that was a jolly cruize, and I hope you have been well and happy ever since, and that you may continue to be so for [a] long time to come is the sincere wish of your old shipmate.I wonder whither the Admiral what is now, I should like to send my kind regards, if you should see him, but, don't if you don't like, coffee without sugar, you know.
The journey from England to Australia between 1833-35 was to result in Conrad Martens becoming a much-improved artist. Forced to work under difficult physical conditions and tight deadlines whilst a member of the Beagle expedition; influenced and educated in matters of science and natural history by shipmates Charles Darwin and Robert Fitzroy (the father of modern meteorology); having the opportunity to observe a variety of stimulating picturesque landscapes and peoples; plus workings with other travel artists such as Augustus Earle and J.M. Rugendas, all led to an improvement in Martens skill and technique as a watercolourist and observer of nature, laying the foundation for his professional success as an exponent of the picturesque landscape in New South Wales after 1835.
The editor would like to thank a number of people for their assistance in producing this work. Firstly to Elizabeth Ellis, Pictorial Librarian, Mitchell Library, for discovering the Journal and making copies available to the editor to assist in transcription. To Dr R.D. Keynes and David James for their pioneering work on Conrad Martens' time in South America. Also to Frank McDonald, Thirty Victoria Street.