The Voyage of the Beagle
Charles Darwin

Part 6 out of 11

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


Back to Full Books