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									    THE VOYAGE
                OF
     THE BEAGLE
                  by

    Charles Darwin
A PENN STATE ELECTRONIC CLASSICS SERIES
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                                                Charles Darwin
                                                             Fitz Roy, I hope I may here be permitted to repeat
   The Voyage of the Beagle                                  my expression of gratitude to him; and to add that,
                                                             during the five years we were together, I received
                         by                                  from him the most cordial friendship and steady as-
                                                             sistance. Both to Captain Fitz Roy and to all the Of-
                                                             ficers of the Beagle* I shall ever feel most thankful
              Charles Darwin
                                                             for the undeviating kindness with which I was
                                                             treated during our long voyage.
                  PREFACE                                      This volume contains, in the form of a Journal, a
                                                             history of our voyage, and a sketch of those obser-
  I have stated in the preface to the first Edition of
                                                             vations in Natural History and Geology, which I
this work, and in the Zoology of the Voyage of the
                                                             think will possess some interest for the general
Beagle, that it was in consequence of a wish ex-
                                                             reader. I have in this edition largely condensed and
pressed by Captain Fitz Roy, of having some scien-
                                                             corrected some parts, and have added a little to oth-
tific person on board, accompanied by an offer from
                                                             ers, in order to render the volume more fitted for
him of giving up part of his own accommodations,
                                                             popular reading; but I trust that naturalists will re-
that I volunteered my services, which received,
                                                             member, that they must refer for details to the larger
through the kindness of the hydrographer, Captain
                                                             publications which comprise the scientific results of
Beaufort, the sanction of the Lords of the Admiralty.
                                                             the Expedition. The Zoology of the Voyage of the
As I feel that the opportunities which I enjoyed of
studying the Natural History of the different coun-          *I must take this opportunity of returning my sincere thanks
                                                             to Mr. Bynoe, the surgeon of the Beagle, for his very kind
tries we visited, have been wholly due to Captain            attention to me when I was ill at Valparaiso.
                                                         3
                                          The Voyage of the Beagle
Beagle includes an account of the Fossil Mammalia,         Volcanic Phenomena of South America. Messrs.
by Professor Owen; of the Living Mammalia, by Mr.          Waterhouse, Walker, Newman, and White, have
Waterhouse; of the Birds, by Mr. Gould; of the Fish,       published several able papers on the Insects which
by the Rev. L. Jenyns; and of the Reptiles, by Mr.         were collected, and I trust that many others will here-
Bell. I have appended to the descriptions of each          after follow. The plants from the southern parts of
species an account of its habits and range. These          America will be given by Dr. J. Hooker, in his great
works, which I owe to the high talents and disinter-       work on the Botany of the Southern Hemisphere. The
ested zeal of the above distinguished authors, could       Flora of the Galapagos Archipelago is the subject of
not have been undertaken, had it not been for the          a separate memoir by him, in the ‘Linnean Transac-
liberality of the Lords Commissioners of Her               tions.’ The Reverend Professor Henslow has pub-
Majesty’s Treasury, who, through the representation        lished a list of the plants collected by me at the Keel-
of the Right Honourable the Chancellor of the Ex-          ing Islands; and the Reverend J. M. Berkeley has
chequer, have been pleased to grant a sum of one           described my cryptogamic plants.
thousand pounds towards defraying part of the ex-            I shall have the pleasure of acknowledging the
penses of publication.                                     great assistance which I have received from several
  I have myself published separate volumes on the          other naturalists, in the course of this and my other
‘Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs;’ on the        works; but I must be here allowed to return my most
‘Volcanic Islands visited during the Voyage of the         sincere thanks to the Reverend Professor Henslow,
Beagle;’ and on the ‘Geology of South America.’ The        who, when I was an undergraduate at Cambridge,
sixth volume of the ‘Geological Transactions’ con-         was one chief means of giving me a taste for Natural
tains two papers of mine on the Erratic Boulders and       History, —who, during my absence, took charge of

                                                       4
                                             Charles Darwin
the collections I sent home, and by his correspon-
dence directed my endeavours, — and who, since
                                                                 THE VOYAGE OF
my return, has constantly rendered me every assis-                THE BEAGLE
tance which the kindest friend could offer.


 DOWN, BROMLEY, KENT, June 9, 1845

                                                                         CHAPTER I
                                                         ST. JAGO — CAPE DE VERD ISLANDS

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


                                                           After having been twice driven back by heavy
                                                         southwestern gales, Her Majesty’s ship Beagle, a ten-
                                                         gun brig, under the command of Captain Fitz Roy,
                                                     5
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
R. N., sailed from Devonport on the 27th of Decem-           vegetation. The country rises in successive steps of
ber, 1831. The object of the expedition was to com-          table-land, interspersed with some truncate conical
plete the survey of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego,          hills, and the horizon is bounded by an irregular
commenced under Captain King in 1826 to 1830, —              chain of more lofty mountains. The scene, as beheld
to survey the shores of Chile, Peru, and of some is-         through the hazy atmosphere of this climate, is one
lands in the Pacific—and to carry a chain of                 of great interest; if, indeed, a person, fresh from sea,
chronometrical measurements round the World. On              and who has just walked, for the first time, in a grove
the 6th of January we reached Teneriffe, but were            of cocoa-nut trees, can be a judge of anything but his
prevented landing, by fears of our bringing the chol-        own happiness. The island would generally be con-
era: the next morning we saw the sun rise behind the         sidered as very uninteresting, but to anyone accus-
rugged outline of the Grand Canary island, and sud-          tomed only to an English landscape, the novel as-
denly illuminate the Peak of Teneriffe, whilst the           pect of an utterly sterile land possesses a grandeur
lower parts were veiled in fleecy clouds. This was           which more vegetation might spoil. A single green
the first of many delightful days never to be forgot-        leaf can scarcely be discovered over wide tracts of
ten. On the 16th of January, 1832, we anchored at            the lava plains; yet flocks of goats, together with a
Porto Praya, in St. Jago, the chief island of the Cape       few cows, contrive to exist. It rains very seldom, but
de Verd archipelago.                                         during a short portion of the year heavy torrents fall,
  The neighbourhood of Porto Praya, viewed from              and immediately afterwards a light vegetation
the sea, wears a desolate aspect. The volcanic fires         springs out of every crevice. This soon withers; and
of a past age, and the scorching heat of a tropical          upon such naturally formed hay the animals live. It
sun, have in most places rendered the soil unfit for         had not now rained for an entire year. When the is-

                                                         6
                                                      Charles Darwin
land was discovered, the immediate neighbourhood                   duces a most refreshing margin of luxuriant vegeta-
of Porto Praya was clothed with trees,* the reckless               tion. In the course of an hour we arrived at Ribeira
destruction of which has caused here, as at St. Hel-               Grande, and were surprised at the sight of a large
ena, and at some of the Canary islands, almost en-                 ruined fort and cathedral. This little town, before its
tire sterility. The broad, flat-bottomed valleys, many             harbour was filled up, was the principal place in the
of which serve during a few days only in the season                island: it now presents a melancholy, but very pic-
as water-courses, are clothed with thickets of leaf-               turesque appearance. Having procured a black Pa-
less bushes. Few living creatures inhabit these val-               dre for a guide, and a Spaniard who had served in
leys. The commonest bird is a kingfisher (Dacelo                   the Peninsular war as an interpreter, we visited a
Iagoensis), which tamely sits on the branches of the               collection of buildings, of which an ancient church
castor-oil plant, and thence darts on grasshoppers                 formed the principal part. It is here the governors
and lizards. It is brightly coloured, but not so beau-             and captain-generals of the islands have been bur-
tiful as the European species: in its flight, manners,             ied. Some of the tombstones recorded dates of the
and place of habitation, which is generally in the                 sixteenth century.*
driest valley, there is also a wide difference.                      The heraldic ornaments were the only things in this
  One day, two of the officers and myself rode to                  retired place that reminded us of Europe. The church
Ribeira Grande, a village a few miles eastward of                  or chapel formed one side of a quadrangle, in the
Porto Praya. Until we reached the valley of St. Mar-               middle of which a large clump of bananas were
tin, the country presented its usual dull brown ap-
pearance; but here, a very small rill of water pro-
                                                                   *The Cape de Verd Islands were discovered in 1449. There
*I state this on the authority of Dr. E. Dieffenbach, in his       was a tombstone of a bishop with the date of 1571; and a
German translation of the first edition of this Journal.           crest of a hand and dagger, dated 1497.
                                                               7
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
growing. On another side was a hospital, containing            branches was exactly N. E. by N., and S. W. by S.,
about a dozen miserable-looking inmates.                       and these natural vanes must indicate the prevail-
  We returned to the Venda to eat our dinners. A               ing direction of the force of the trade-wind. The trav-
considerable number of men, women, and children,               elling had made so little impression on the barren
all as black as jet, collected to watch us. Our com-           soil, that we here missed our track, and took that to
panions were extremely merry; and everything we                Fuentes. This we did not find out till we arrived
said or did was followed by their hearty laughter.             there; and we were afterwards glad of our mistake.
Before leaving the town we visited the cathedral. It           Fuentes is a pretty village, with a small stream; and
does not appear so rich as the smaller church, but             everything appeared to prosper well, excepting, in-
boasts of a little organ, which sent forth singularly          deed, that which ought to do so most — its inhabit-
inharmonious cries. We presented the black priest              ants. The black children, completely naked, and look-
with a few shillings, and the Spaniard, patting him            ing very wretched, were carrying bundles of fire-
on the head, said, with much candour, he thought               wood half as big as their own bodies.
his colour made no great difference. We then re-                 Near Fuentes we saw a large flock of guinea-fowl
turned, as fast as the ponies would go, to Porto Praya.        —probably fifty or sixty in number. They were ex-
  Another day we rode to the village of St. Domingo,           tremely wary, and could not be approached. They
situated near the centre of the island. On a small plain       avoided us, like partridges on a rainy day in Sep-
which we crossed, a few stunted acacias were grow-             tember, running with their heads cocked up; and if
ing; their tops had been bent by the steady trade-             pursued, they readily took to the wing.
wind, in a singular manner—some of them even at                  The scenery of St. Domingo possesses a beauty to-
right angles to their trunks. The direction of the             tally unexpected, from the prevalent gloomy char-

                                                           8
                                                  Charles Darwin
acter of the rest of the island. The village is situated       ing from the appearance, and from similar cases in
at the bottom of a valley, bounded by lofty and                England, I supposed that the air was saturated with
jagged walls of stratified lava. The black rocks af-           moisture. The fact, however, turned out quite the
ford a most striking contrast with the bright green            contrary. The hygrometer gave a difference of 29.6
vegetation, which follows the banks of a little stream         degs., between the temperature of the air, and the
of clear water. It happened to be a grand feast-day,           point at which dew was precipitated. This difference
and the village was full of people. On our return we           was nearly double that which I had observed on the
overtook a party of about twenty young black girls,            previous mornings. This unusual degree of atmo-
dressed in excellent taste; their black skins and snow-        spheric dryness was accompanied by continual
white linen being set off by coloured turbans and              flashes of lightning. Is it not an uncommon case, thus
large shawls. As soon as we approached near, they              to find a remarkable degree of aerial transparency
suddenly all turned round, and covering the path               with such a state of weather?
with their shawls, sung with great energy a wild                Generally the atmosphere is hazy; and this is
song, beating time with their hands upon their legs.           caused by the falling of impalpably fine dust, which
We threw them some vintems, which were received                was found to have slightly injured the astronomical
with screams of laughter, and we left them redou-              instruments. The morning before we anchored at
bling the noise of their song.                                 Porto Praya, I collected a little packet of this brown-
 One morning the view was singularly clear; the                coloured fine dust, which appeared to have been fil-
distant mountains being projected with the sharpest            tered from the wind by the gauze of the vane at the
outline on a heavy bank of dark blue clouds. Judg-             masthead. Mr. Lyell has also given me four packets


                                                           9
                                               The Voyage of the Beagle
of dust which fell on a vessel a few hundred miles                he finds none of these in the dust which I sent him.
northward of these islands. Professor Ehrenberg*                  On the other hand, he finds in it two species which
finds that this dust consists in great part of infusoria          hitherto he knows as living only in South America.
with siliceous shields, and of the siliceous tissue of            The dust falls in such quantities as to dirty every-
plants. In five little packets which I sent him, he has           thing on board, and to hurt people’s eyes; vessels
ascertained no less than sixty-seven different organic            even have run on shore owing to the obscurity of the
forms! The infusoria, with the exception of two ma-               atmosphere. It has often fallen on ships when sev-
rine species, are all inhabitants of fresh-water. I have          eral hundred, and even more than a thousand miles
found no less than fifteen different accounts of dust             from the coast of Africa, and at points sixteen hun-
having fallen on vessels when far out in the Atlantic.            dred miles distant in a north and south direction. In
From the direction of the wind whenever it has fallen,            some dust which was collected on a vessel three
and from its having always fallen during those                    hundred miles from the land, I was much surprised
months when the harmattan is known to raise clouds                to find particles of stone above the thousandth of an
of dust high into the atmosphere, we may feel sure                inch square, mixed with finer matter. After this fact
that it all comes from Africa. It is, however, a very             one need not be surprised at the diffusion of the far
singular fact, that, although Professor Ehrenberg                 lighter and smaller sporules of cryptogamic plants.
knows many species of infusoria peculiar to Africa,                 The geology of this island is the most interesting
                                                                  part of its natural history. On entering the harbour, a
*I must take this opportunity of acknowledging the great          perfectly horizontal white band, in the face of the
kindness with which this illustrious naturalist has exam-
                                                                  sea cliff, may be seen running for some miles along
ined many of my specimens. I have sent (June, 1845) a
full account of the falling of this dust to the Geological        the coast, and at the height of about forty-five feet
Society.
                                                             10
                                                 Charles Darwin
above the water. Upon examination this white stra-             the many red cindery hills; yet the more recent
tum is found to consist of calcareous matter with              streams can be distinguished on the coast, forming
numerous shells embedded, most or all of which                 lines of cliffs of less height, but stretching out in ad-
now exist on the neighbouring coast. It rests on an-           vance of those belonging to an older series: the height
cient volcanic rocks, and has been covered by a                of the cliffs thus affording a rude measure of the age
stream of basalt, which must have entered the sea              of the streams.
when the white shelly bed was lying at the bottom.               During our stay, I observed the habits of some
It is interesting to trace the changes produced by the         marine animals. A large Aplysia is very common.
heat of the overlying lava, on the friable mass, which         This sea-slug is about five inches long; and is of a
in parts has been converted into a crystalline lime-           dirty yellowish colour veined with purple. On each
stone, and in other parts into a compact spotted stone         side of the lower surface, or foot, there is a broad
Where the lime has been caught up by the scoria-               membrane, which appears sometimes to act as a ven-
ceous fragments of the lower surface of the stream,            tilator, in causing a current of water to flow over the
it is converted into groups of beautifully radiated            dorsal branchiae or lungs. It feeds on the delicate
fibres resembling arragonite. The beds of lava rise            sea-weeds which grow among the stones in muddy
in successive gently-sloping plains, towards the in-           and shallow water; and I found in its stomach sev-
terior, whence the deluges of melted stone have                eral small pebbles, as in the gizzard of a bird. This
originally proceeded. Within historical times, no              slug, when disturbed, emits a very fine purplish-red
signs of volcanic activity have, I believe, been mani-         fluid, which stains the water for the space of a foot
fested in any part of St. Jago. Even the form of a cra-        around. Besides this means of defence, an acrid se-
ter can but rarely be discovered on the summits of             cretion, which is spread over its body, causes a sharp,

                                                          11
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
stinging sensation, similar to that produced by the           numerous minute spots of bright yellow: the former
Physalia, or Portuguese man-of-war.                           of these varied in intensity; the latter entirely disap-
  I was much interested, on several occasions, by             peared and appeared again by turns. These changes
watching the habits of an Octopus, or cuttle-fish.            were effected in such a manner, that clouds, varying
Although common in the pools of water left by the             in tint between a hyacinth red and a chestnut-brown,*
retiring tide, these animals were not easily caught.          were continually passing over the body. Any part,
By means of their long arms and suckers, they could           being subjected to a slight shock of galvanism, be-
drag their bodies into very narrow crevices; and              came almost black: a similar effect, but in a less de-
when thus fixed, it required great force to remove            gree, was produced by scratching the skin with a
them. At other times they darted tail first, with the         needle. These clouds, or blushes as they may be
rapidity of an arrow, from one side of the pool to the        called, are said to be produced by the alternate ex-
other, at the same instant discolouring the water with        pansion and contraction of minute vesicles contain-
a dark chestnut-brown ink. These animals also es-             ing variously coloured fluids.**
cape detection by a very extraordinary, chameleon-              This cuttle-fish displayed its chameleon-like power
like power of changing their colour. They appear to           both during the act of swimming and whilst remain-
vary their tints according to the nature of the ground        ing stationary at the bottom. I was much amused by
over which they pass: when in deep water, their gen-          the various arts to escape detection used by one in-
eral shade was brownish purple, but when placed               dividual, which seemed fully aware that I was watch-
on the land, or in shallow water, this dark tint              ing it. Remaining for a time motionless, it would then
changed into one of a yellowish green. The colour,
examined more carefully, was a French grey, with              *So named according to Patrick Symes’s nomenclature.
                                                              **See Encyclop. of Anat. and Physiol., article Cephalopoda
                                                         12
                                                 Charles Darwin
stealthily advance an inch or two, like a cat after a          hove-to during the morning of February 16th, close
mouse; sometimes changing its colour: it thus pro-             to the island of St. Paul’s. This cluster of rocks is situ-
ceeded, till having gained a deeper part, it darted            ated in 0 degs. 58' north latitude, and 29 degs. 15'
away, leaving a dusky train of ink to hide the hole            west longitude. It is 540 miles distant from the coast
into which it had crawled.                                     of America, and 350 from the island of Fernando
  While looking for marine animals, with my head               Noronha. The highest point is only fifty feet above
about two feet above the rocky shore, I was more               the level of the sea, and the entire circumference is
than once saluted by a jet of water, accompanied by            under three-quarters of a mile. This small point rises
a slight grating noise. At first I could not think what        abruptly out of the depths of the ocean. Its mineral-
it was, but afterwards I found out that it was this            ogical constitution is not simple; in some parts the
cuttle-fish, which, though concealed in a hole, thus           rock is of a cherty, in others of a felspathic nature,
often led me to its discovery. That it possesses the           including thin veins of serpentine. It is a remarkable
power of ejecting water there is no doubt, and it ap-          fact, that all the many small islands, lying far from
peared to me that it could certainly take good aim             any continent, in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic
by directing the tube or siphon on the under side of           Oceans, with the exception of the Seychelles and this
its body. From the difficulty which these animals              little point of rock, are, I believe, composed either of
have in carrying their heads, they cannot crawl with           coral or of erupted matter. The volcanic nature of
ease when placed on the ground. I observed that one            these oceanic islands is evidently an extension of that
which I kept in the cabin was slightly phosphores-             law, and the effect of those same causes, whether
cent in the dark.                                              chemical or mechanical, from which it results that a
  ST. PAUL’S ROCKS. — In crossing the Atlantic we              vast majority of the volcanoes now in action stand

                                                          13
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
either near sea-coasts or as islands in the midst of           pearly texture, like the enamel of teeth, but so hard
the sea.                                                       as just to scratch plate-glass. I may here mention, that
  The rocks of St. Paul appear from a distance of a            on a part of the coast of Ascension, where there is a
brilliantly white colour. This is partly owing to the          vast accumulation of shelly sand, an incrustation is
dung of a vast multitude of seafowl, and partly to a           deposited on the tidal rocks by the water of the sea,
coating of a hard glossy substance with a pearly lus-          resembling, as represented in the woodcut, certain
tre, which is intimately united to the surface of the          cryptogamic plants (Marchantiae) often seen on
rocks. This, when examined with a lens, is found to            damp walls. The surface of the fronds is beautifully
consist of numerous exceedingly thin layers, its to-           glossy; and those parts formed where fully exposed
tal thickness being about the tenth of an inch. It con-        to the light are of a jet black colour, but those shaded
tains much animal matter, and its origin, no doubt,            under ledges are only grey. I have shown specimens
is due to the action of the rain or spray on the birds’        of this incrustation to several geologists, and they
dung. Below some small masses of guano at Ascen-               all thought that they were of volcanic or igneous ori-
sion, and on the Abrolhos Islets, I found certain sta-         gin! In its hardness and translucency — in its polish,
lactitic branching bodies, formed apparently in the            equal to that of the finest oliva-shell — in the bad
same manner as the thin white coating on these rocks.          smell given out, and loss of colour under the blow-
The branching bodies so closely resembled in gen-              pipe — it shows a close similarity with living sea-
eral appearance certain nulliporae (a family of hard           shells. Moreover, in sea-shells, it is known that the
calcareous sea-plants), that in lately looking hastily         parts habitually covered and shaded by the mantle
over my collection I did not perceive the difference.          of the animal, are of a paler colour than those fully
The globular extremities of the branches are of a              exposed to the light, just as is the case with this in-

                                                          14
                                                        Charles Darwin
crustation. When we remember that lime, either as a                stupid disposition, and are so unaccustomed to visi-
phosphate or carbonate, enters into the composition                tors, that I could have killed any number of them
of the hard parts, such as bones and shells, of all liv-           with my geological hammer. The booby lays her eggs
ing animals, it is an interesting physiological fact* to           on the bare rock; but the tern makes a very simple
find substances harder than the enamel of teeth, and               nest with seaweed. By the side of many of these nests
coloured surfaces as well polished as those of a fresh             a small flying-fish was placed; which I suppose, had
shell, reformed through inorganic means from dead                  been brought by the male bird for its partner. It was
organic matter — mocking, also, in shape, some of                  amusing to watch how quickly a large and active
the lower vegetable productions.                                   crab (Graspus), which inhabits the crevices of the
  We found on St. Paul’s only two kinds of birds —                 rock, stole the fish from the side of the nest, as soon
the booby and the noddy. The former is a species of                as we had disturbed the parent birds. Sir W.
gannet, and the latter a tern. Both are of a tame and              Symonds, one of the few persons who have landed
                                                                   here, informs me that he saw the crabs dragging even
*Mr. Horner and Sir David Brewster have described (Philo-          the young birds out of their nests, and devouring
sophical Transactions, 1836, p. 65) a singular “artificial sub-
stance resembling shell.” It is deposited in fine, transpar-       them. Not a single plant, not even a lichen, grows on
ent, highly polished, brown-coloured laminae, possess-             this islet; yet it is inhabited by several insects and
ing peculiar optical properties, on the inside of a vessel, in     spiders. The following list completes, I believe, the
which cloth, first prepared with glue and then with lime, is
made to revolve rapidly in water. It is much softer, more          terrestrial fauna: a fly (Olfersia) living on the booby,
transparent, and contains more animal matter, than the             and a tick which must have come here as a parasite
natural incrustation at Ascension; but we here again see
                                                                   on the birds; a small brown moth, belonging to a
the strong tendency which carbonate of lime and animal
matter evince to form a solid substance allied to shell.           genus that feeds on feathers; a beetle (Quedius) and

                                                              15
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
a woodlouse from beneath the dung; and lastly, nu-               FERNANDO NORONHA, Feb. 20th. — As far as I
merous spiders, which I suppose prey on these small            was enabled to observe, during the few hours we
attendants and scavengers of the water-fowl. The               stayed at this place, the constitution of the island is
often repeated description of the stately palm and             volcanic, but probably not of a recent date. The most
other noble tropical plants, then birds, and lastly            remarkable feature is a conical hill, about one thou-
man, taking possession of the coral islets as soon as          sand feet high, the upper part of which is exceed-
formed, in the Pacific, is probably not correct; I fear        ingly steep, and on one side overhangs its base. The
it destroys the poetry of this story, that feather and         rock is phonolite, and is divided into irregular col-
dirt-feeding and parasitic insects and spiders should          umns. On viewing one of these isolated masses, at
be the first inhabitants of newly formed oceanic land.         first one is inclined to believe that it has been sud-
  The smallest rock in the tropical seas, by giving a          denly pushed up in a semi-fluid state. At St. Helena,
foundation for the growth of innumerable kinds of              however, I ascertained that some pinnacles, of a
seaweed and compound animals, supports likewise                nearly similar figure and constitution, had been
a large number of fish. The sharks and the seamen in           formed by the injection of melted rock into yielding
the boats maintained a constant struggle which                 strata, which thus had formed the moulds for these
should secure the greater share of the prey caught             gigantic obelisks. The whole island is covered with
by the fishing-lines. I have heard that a rock near the        wood; but from the dryness of the climate there is
Bermudas, lying many miles out at sea, and at a con-           no appearance of luxuriance. Half-way up the moun-
siderable depth, was first discovered by the circum-           tain, some great masses of the columnar rock, shaded
stance of fish having been observed in the                     by laurel-like trees, and ornamented by others cov-
neighbourhood.                                                 ered with fine pink flowers but without a single leaf,

                                                          16
                                                 Charles Darwin
gave a pleasing effect to the nearer parts of the scen-        storm. I tried to find shelter under a tree, which was
ery.                                                           so thick that it would never have been penetrated
  BAHIA, OR SAN SALVADOR. BRAZIL, Feb. 29th.                   by common English rain; but here, in a couple of
— The day has passed delightfully. Delight itself,             minutes, a little torrent flowed down the trunk. It is
however, is a weak term to express the feelings of a           to this violence of the rain that we must attribute the
naturalist who, for the first time, has wandered by            verdure at the bottom of the thickest woods: if the
himself in a Brazilian forest. The elegance of the             showers were like those of a colder climate, the
grasses, the novelty of the parasitical plants, the            greater part would be absorbed or evaporated be-
beauty of the flowers, the glossy green of the foli-           fore it reached the ground. I will not at present at-
age, but above all the general luxuriance of the veg-          tempt to describe the gaudy scenery of this noble
etation, filled me with admiration. A most paradoxi-           bay, because, in our homeward voyage, we called
cal mixture of sound and silence pervades the shady            here a second time, and I shall then have occasion to
parts of the wood. The noise from the insects is so            remark on it.
loud, that it may be heard even in a vessel anchored             Along the whole coast of Brazil, for a length of at
several hundred yards from the shore; yet within the           least 2000 miles, and certainly for a considerable
recesses of the forest a universal silence appears to          space inland, wherever solid rock occurs, it belongs
reign. To a person fond of natural history, such a             to a granitic formation. The circumstance of this enor-
day as this brings with it a deeper pleasure than he           mous area being constituted of materials which most
can ever hope to experience again. After wandering             geologists believe to have been crystallized when
about for some hours, I returned to the landing-place;         heated under pressure, gives rise to many curious
but, before reaching it, I was overtaken by a tropical         reflections. Was this effect produced beneath the

                                                          17
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
depths of a profound ocean? or did a covering of               of these brown burnished stones which glitter in the
strata formerly extend over it, which has since been           sun’s rays. They occur only within the limits of the
removed? Can we believe that any power, acting for             tidal waves; and as the rivulet slowly trickles down,
a time short of infinity, could have denuded the gran-         the surf must supply the polishing power of the cata-
ite over so many thousand square leagues?                      racts in the great rivers. In like manner, the rise and
  On a point not far from the city, where a rivulet            fall of the tide probably answer to the periodical in-
entered the sea, I observed a fact connected with a            undations; and thus the same effects are produced
subject discussed by Humboldt.* At the cataracts of            under apparently different but really similar circum-
the great rivers Orinoco, Nile, and Congo, the syen-           stances. The origin, however, of these coatings of
itic rocks are coated by a black substance, appearing          metallic oxides, which seem as if cemented to the
as if they had been polished with plumbago. The                rocks, is not understood; and no reason, I believe, can
layer is of extreme thinness; and on analysis by               be assigned for their thickness remaining the same.
Berzelius it was found to consist of the oxides of man-          One day I was amused by watching the habits of
ganese and iron. In the Orinoco it occurs on the rocks         the Diodon antennatus, which was caught swimming
periodically washed by the floods, and in those parts          near the shore. This fish, with its flabby skin, is well
alone where the stream is rapid; or, as the Indians            known to possess the singular power of distending
say, “the rocks are black where the waters are white.”         itself into a nearly spherical form. After having been
Here the coating is of a rich brown instead of a black         taken out of water for a short time, and then again
colour, and seems to be composed of ferruginous                immersed in it, a considerable quantity both of wa-
matter alone. Hand specimens fail to give a just idea          ter and air is absorbed by the mouth, and perhaps
                                                               likewise by the branchial orifices. This process is ef-
*Pers. Narr., vol. v., pt. 1., p. 18.
                                                          18
                                                 Charles Darwin
fected by two methods: the air is swallowed, and is            with considerable force from the branchial apertures
then forced into the cavity of the body, its return be-        and mouth. It could emit, at will, a certain portion of
ing prevented by a muscular contraction which is               the water, and it appears, therefore, probable that
externally visible: but the water enters in a gentle           this fluid is taken in partly for the sake of regulating
stream through the mouth, which is kept wide open              its specific gravity. This Diodon possessed several
and motionless; this latter action must, therefore,            means of defence. It could give a severe bite, and
depend on suction. The skin about the abdomen is               could eject water from its mouth to some distance,
much looser than that on the back; hence, during the           at the same time making a curious noise by the move-
inflation, the lower surface becomes far more dis-             ment of its jaws. By the inflation of its body, the pa-
tended than the upper; and the fish, in consequence,           pillae, with which the skin is covered, become erect
floats with its back downwards. Cuvier doubts                  and pointed. But the most curious circumstance is,
whether the Diodon in this position is able to swim;           that it secretes from the skin of its belly, when
but not only can it thus move forward in a straight            handled, a most beautiful carmine-red fibrous mat-
line, but it can turn round to either side. This latter        ter, which stains ivory and paper in so permanent a
movement is effected solely by the aid of the pecto-           manner that the tint is retained with all its bright-
ral fins; the tail being collapsed, and not used. From         ness to the present day: I am quite ignorant of the
the body being buoyed up with so much air, the bran-           nature and use of this secretion. I have heard from
chial openings are out of water, but a stream drawn            Dr. Allan of Forres, that he has frequently found a
in by the mouth constantly flows through them.                 Diodon, floating alive and distended, in the stom-
  The fish, having remained in this distended state            ach of the shark, and that on several occasions he
for a short time, generally expelled the air and water         has known it eat its way, not only through the coats

                                                          19
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
of the stomach, but through the sides of the monster,            some account is given of these confervae. They ap-
which has thus been killed. Who would ever have                  pear especially common in the sea near Australia;
imagined that a little soft fish could have destroyed            and off Cape Leeuwin I found an allied but smaller
the great and savage shark?                                      and apparently different species. Captain Cook, in
  March 18th. — We sailed from Bahia. A few days                 his third voyage, remarks, that the sailors gave to
afterwards, when not far distant from the Abrolhos               this appearance the name of sea-sawdust.
Islets, my; attention was called to a reddish-brown                Near Keeling Atoll, in the Indian Ocean, I observed
appearance in the sea. The whole surface of the wa-              many little masses of confervae a few inches square,
ter, as it appeared under a weak lens, seemed as if              consisting of long cylindrical threads of excessive
covered by chopped bits of hay, with their ends                  thinness, so as to be barely visible to the naked eye,
jagged. These are minute cylindrical confervae, in               mingled with other rather larger bodies, finely coni-
bundles or rafts of from twenty to sixty in each. Mr.            cal at both ends. Two of these are shown in the wood-
Berkeley informs me that they are the same species               cut united together. They vary in length from .04 to
(Trichodesmium erythraeum) with that found over                  .06, and even to .08 of an inch in length; and in diam-
large spaces in the Red Sea, and whence its name of              eter from .006 to .008 of an inch. Near one extremity
Red Sea is derived.* Their numbers must be infinite:             of the cylindrical part, a green septum, formed of
the ship passed through several bands of them, one               granular matter, and thickest in the middle, may
of which was about ten yards wide, and, judging                  generally be seen. This, I believe, is the bottom of a
from the mud-like colour of the water, at least two              most delicate, colourless sac, composed of a pulpy
and a half miles long. In almost every long voyage               substance, which lines the exterior case, but does not
*M. Montagne, in Comptes Rendus, etc., Juillet, 1844; and        extend within the extreme conical points. In some
Annal. des Scienc. Nat., Dec. 1844
                                                            20
                                                Charles Darwin
specimens, small but perfect spheres of brownish              swollen river; and again, a degree south of
granular matter supplied the places of the septa; and         Valparaiso, when fifty miles from the land, the same
I observed the curious process by which they were             appearance was still more extensive. Some of the
produced. The pulpy matter of the internal coating            water placed in a glass was of a pale reddish tint;
suddenly grouped itself into lines, some of which             and, examined under a microscope, was seen to
assumed a form radiating from a common centre; it             swarm with minute animalcula darting about, and
then continued, with an irregular and rapid move-             often exploding. Their shape is oval, and contracted
ment, to contract itself, so that in the course of a          in the middle by a ring of vibrating curved ciliae. It
second the whole was united into a perfect little             was, however, very difficult to examine them with
sphere, which occupied the position of the septum             care, for almost the instant motion ceased, even while
at one end of the now quite hollow case. The for-             crossing the field of vision, their bodies burst. Some-
mation of the granular sphere was hastened by any             times both ends burst at once, sometimes only one,
accidental injury. I may add, that frequently a pair          and a quantity of coarse, brownish, granular matter
of these bodies were attached to each other, as rep-          was ejected. The animal an instant before bursting
resented above, cone beside cone, at that end where           expanded to half again its natural size; and the ex-
the septum occurs.                                            plosion took place about fifteen seconds after the
  I will add here a few other observations connected          rapid progressive motion had ceased: in a few cases
with the discoloration of the sea from organic causes.        it was preceded for a short interval by a rotatory
On the coast of Chile, a few leagues north of                 movement on the longer axis. About two minutes
Concepcion, the Beagle one day passed through                 after any number were isolated in a drop of water,
great bands of muddy water, exactly like that of a            they thus perished. The animals move with the nar-
                                                              row apex forwards, by the aid of their vibratory ciliae,
                                                         21
                                                    The Voyage of the Beagle
and generally by rapid starts. They are exceedingly                 In the sea around Tierra del Fuego, and at no great
minute, and quite invisible to the naked eye, only               distance from the land, I have seen narrow lines of
covering a space equal to the square of the thou-
sandth of an inch. Their numbers were infinite; for              water of a bright red colour, from the number of crus-
the smallest drop of water which I could remove                  tacea, which somewhat resemble in form large
contained very many. In one day we passed through prawns. The sealers call them whale-food. Whether
two spaces of water thus stained, one of which alone whales feed on them I do not know; but terns, cor-
must have extended over several square miles. What
incalculable numbers of these microscopical animals! morants, and immense herds of great unwieldy seals
The colour of the water, as seen at some distance, derive, on some parts of the coast, their chief suste-
was like that of a river which has flowed through a nance from these swimming crabs. Seamen invari-
red clay district, but under the shade of the vessel’s ably attribute the discoloration of the water to spawn;
side it was quite as dark as chocolate. The line where
the red and blue water joined was distinctly defined. but I found this to be the case only on one occasion.
The weather for some days previously had been                    At the distance of several leagues from the Archi-
calm, and the ocean abounded, to an unusual de-                  pelago of the Galapagos, the ship sailed through
gree, with living creatures.*                                    three strips of a dark yellowish, or mudlike water;
*M. Lesson (Voyage de la Coquille, tom. i., p. 255) men-         these strips were some miles long, but only a few
tions red water off Lima, apparently produced by the same        yards wide, and they were separated from the sur-
cause. Peron, the distinguished naturalist, in the Voyage        rounding water by a sinuous yet distinct margin. The
aux Terres Australes, gives no less than twelve references
to voyagers who have alluded to the discoloured waters           colour was caused by little gelatinous balls, about
of the sea (vol. ii. p. 239). To the references given by Peron   the fifth of an inch in diameter, in which numerous
may be added, Humboldt’s Pers. Narr., vol. vi. p. 804;
                                                                 minute spherical ovules were imbedded: they were
Flinder’s Voyage, vol. i. p. 92; Labillardiere, vol. i. p. 287;
Ulloa’s Voyage; Voyage of the Astrolabe and of the Co-           of two distinct kinds, one being of a reddish colour
quille; Captain King’s Survey of Australia, etc.
                                                         22
                                                  Charles Darwin
and of a different shape from the other. I cannot form          their movements were as coinstantaneous as in a
a conjecture as to what two kinds of animals these              regiment of soldiers; but this cannot happen from
belonged. Captain Colnett remarks, that this appear-            anything like voluntary action with the ovules, or
ance is very common among the Galapagos Islands,                the confervae, nor is it probable among the infuso-
and that the directions of the bands indicate that of           ria. Secondly, what causes the length and narrow-
the currents; in the described case, however, the line          ness of the bands? The appearance so much re-
was caused by the wind. The only other appearance               sembles that which may be seen in every torrent,
which I have to notice, is a thin oily coat on the water        where the stream uncoils into long streaks the froth
which displays iridescent colours. I saw a consider-            collected in the eddies, that I must attribute the ef-
able tract of the ocean thus covered on the coast of            fect to a similar action either of the currents of the air
Brazil; the seamen attributed it to the putrefying car-         or sea. Under this supposition we must believe that
case of some whale, which probably was floating at              the various organized bodies are produced in cer-
no great distance. I do not here mention the minute             tain favourable places, and are thence removed by
gelatinous particles, hereafter to be referred to, which        the set of either wind or water. I confess, however,
are frequently dispersed throughout the water, for              there is a very great difficulty in imagining any one
they are not sufficiently abundant to create any                spot to be the birthplace of the millions of millions
change of colour.                                               of animalcula and confervae: for whence come the
  There are two circumstances in the above accounts             germs at such points? — the parent bodies having
which appear remarkable: first, how do the various              been distributed by the winds and waves over the
bodies which form the bands with defined edges                  immense ocean. But on no other hypothesis can I
keep together? In the case of the prawn-like crabs,             understand their linear grouping. I may add that

                                                           23
                                           The Voyage of the Beagle
Scoresby remarks that green water abounding with
pelagic animals is invariably found in a certain part
                                                                      CHAPTER II
of the Arctic Sea.
                                                                         RIO DE JANEIRO

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


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

                                                        24
                                                  Charles Darwin
  April 8th. — Our party amounted to seven. The                 mon in this country. This spot is notorious from hav-
first stage was very interesting. The day was power-            ing been, for a long time, the residence of some run-
fully hot, and as we passed through the woods, ev-              away slaves, who, by cultivating a little ground near
erything was motionless, excepting the large and                the top, contrived to eke out a subsistence. At length
brilliant butterflies, which lazily fluttered about. The        they were discovered, and a party of soldiers being
view seen when crossing the hills behind Praia                  sent, the whole were seized with the exception of
Grande was most beautiful; the colours were intense,            one old woman, who, sooner than again be led into
and the prevailing tint a dark blue; the sky and the            slavery, dashed herself to pieces from the summit of
calm waters of the bay vied with each other in                  the mountain. In a Roman matron this would have
splendour. After passing through some cultivated                been called the noble love of freedom: in a poor
country, we entered a forest, which in the grandeur             negress it is mere brutal obstinacy. We continued
of all its parts could not be exceeded. We arrived by           riding for some hours. For the few last miles the road
midday at Ithacaia; this small village is situated on           was intricate, and it passed through a desert waste
a plain, and round the central house are the huts of            of marshes and lagoons. The scene by the dimmed
the negroes. These, from their regular form and po-             light of the moon was most desolate. A few fireflies
sition, reminded me of the drawings of the Hottentot            flitted by us; and the solitary snipe, as it rose, ut-
habitations in Southern Africa. As the moon rose                tered its plaintive cry. The distant and sullen roar of
early, we determined to start the same evening for              the sea scarcely broke the stillness of the night.
our sleeping-place at the Lagoa Marica. As it was                 April 9th. — We left our miserable sleeping-place
growing dark we passed under one of the massive,                before sunrise. The road passed through a narrow
bare, and steep hills of granite which are so com-              sandy plain, lying between the sea and the interior

                                                           25
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
salt lagoons. The number of beautiful fishing birds,          glazed windows; but are generally pretty well
such as egrets and cranes, and the succulent plants           roofed. Universally the front part is open, forming a
assuming most fantastical forms, gave to the scene            kind of verandah, in which tables and benches are
an interest which it would not otherwise have pos-            placed. The bed-rooms join on each side, and here
sessed. The few stunted trees were loaded with para-          the passenger may sleep as comfortably as he can,
sitical plants, among which the beauty and delicious          on a wooden platform, covered by a thin straw mat.
fragrance of some of the orchideae were most to be            The venda stands in a courtyard, where the horses
admired. As the sun rose, the day became extremely            are fed. On first arriving it was our custom to un-
hot, and the reflection of the light and heat from the        saddle the horses and give them their Indian corn;
white sand was very distressing. We dined at                  then, with a low bow, to ask the senhor to do us the
Mandetiba; the thermometer in the shade being 84              favour to give up something to eat. “Anything you
degs. The beautiful view of the distant wooded hills,         choose, sir,” was his usual answer. For the few first
reflected in the perfectly calm water of an extensive         times, vainly I thanked providence for having guided
lagoon, quite refreshed us. As the venda* here was a          us to so good a man. The conversation proceeding,
very good one, and I have the pleasant, but rare re-          the case universally became deplorable. “Any fish
membrance, of an excellent dinner, I will be grateful         can you do us the favour of giving ?” — “Oh! no,
and presently describe it, as the type of its class.          sir.” — “Any soup?” — “No, sir.” — “Any bread?”
These houses are often large, and are built of thick          — “Oh! no, sir.” — “Any dried meat?” — “Oh! no,
upright posts, with boughs interwoven, and after-             sir.” If we were lucky, by waiting a couple of hours,
wards plastered. They seldom have floors, and never           we obtained fowls, rice, and farinha. It not
                                                              unfrequently happened, that we were obliged to kill,
*Venda, the Portuguese name for an inn.

                                                         26
                                                     Charles Darwin
with stones, the poultry for our own supper. When,                   Leaving Mandetiba, we continued to pass through
thoroughly exhausted by fatigue and hunger, we timo-               an intricate wilderness of lakes; in some of which
rously hinted that we should be glad of our meal, the              were fresh, in others salt water shells. Of the former
pompous, and (though true) most unsatisfactory an-                 kinds, I found a Limnaea in great numbers in a lake,
swer was, “It will be ready when it is ready.” If we had           into which, the inhabitants assured me that the sea
dared to remonstrate any further, we should have been              enters once a year, and sometimes oftener, and makes
told to proceed on our journey, as being too imperti-              the water quite salt. I have no doubt many interest-
nent. The hosts are most ungracious and disagreeable               ing facts, in relation to marine and fresh water ani-
in their manners; their houses and their persons are               mals, might be observed in this chain of lagoons,
often filthily dirty; the want of the accommodation of             which skirt the coast of Brazil. M. Gay* has stated
forks, knives, and spoons is common; and I am sure no              that he found in the neighbourhood of Rio, shells of
cottage or hovel in England could be found in a state              the marine genera solen and mytilus, and fresh wa-
so utterly destitute of every comfort. At Campos Novos,            ter ampullariae, living together in brackish water. I
however, we fared sumptuously; having rice and fowls,              also frequently observed in the lagoon near the
biscuit, wine, and spirits, for dinner; coffee in the              Botanic Garden, where the water is only a little less
evening, and fish with coffee for breakfast. All this, with        salt than in the sea, a species of hydrophilus, very
good food for the horses, only cost 2s. 6d. per head.              similar to a water-beetle common in the ditches of
Yet the host of this venda, being asked if he knew any-            England: in the same lake the only shell belonged to
thing of a whip which one of the party had lost, gruffly           a genus generally found in estuaries.
answered, “How should I know? why did you not take                   Leaving the coast for a time, we again entered the
care of it? — I suppose the dogs have eaten it.”
                                                                   *Annales des Sciences Naturelles for 1833.

                                                              27
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
forest. The trees were very lofty, and remarkable,            lately been doubted in England; I was therefore for-
compared with those of Europe, from the whiteness             tunate in being present when one (Desmodus
of their trunks. I see by my note-book, “wonderful            d’orbignyi, Wat.) was actually caught on a horse’s
and beautiful, flowering parasites,” invariably struck        back. We were bivouacking late one evening near
me as the most novel object in these grand scenes.            Coquimbo, in Chile, when my servant, noticing that
Travelling onwards we passed through tracts of pas-           one of the horses was very restive, went to see what
turage, much injured by the enormous conical ants’            was the matter, and fancying he could distinguish
nests, which were nearly twelve feet high. They gave          something, suddenly put his hand on the beast’s
to the plain exactly the appearance of the mud vol-           withers, and secured the vampire. In the morning
canos at Jorullo, as figured by Humboldt. We arrived          the spot where the bite had been inflicted was easily
at Engenhodo after it was dark, having been ten               distinguished from being slightly swollen and
hours on horseback. I never ceased, during the whole          bloody. The third day afterwards we rode the horse,
journey, to be surprised at the amount of labour              without any ill effects.
which the horses were capable of enduring; they                 April 13th. — After three days’ travelling we ar-
appeared also to recover from any injury much                 rived at Socego, the estate of Senhor Manuel
sooner than those of our English breed. The Vam-              Figuireda, a relation of one of our party. The house
pire bat is often the cause of much trouble, by biting        was simple, and, though like a barn in form, was
the horses on their withers. The injury is generally          well suited to the climate. In the sitting-room gilded
not so much owing to the loss of blood, as to the             chairs and sofas were oddly contrasted with the
inflammation which the pressure of the saddle af-             whitewashed walls, thatched roof, and windows
terwards produces. The whole circumstance has                 without glass. The house, together with the grana-

                                                         28
                                                   Charles Darwin
ries, the stables, and workshops for the blacks, who             produced eighty, and the latter three hundred and
had been taught various trades, formed a rude kind               twenty fold. The pasturage supports a fine stock of
of quadrangle; in the centre of which a large pile of            cattle, and the woods are so full of game that a deer
coffee was drying. These buildings stand on a little             had been killed on each of the three previous days.
hill, overlooking the cultivated ground, and sur-                This profusion of food showed itself at dinner,
rounded on every side by a wall of dark green luxu-              where, if the tables did not groan, the guests surely
riant forest. The chief produce of this part of the coun-        did; for each person is expected to eat of every dish.
try is coffee. Each tree is supposed to yield annu-              One day, having, as I thought, nicely calculated so
ally, on an average, two pounds; but some give as                that nothing should go away untasted, to my utter
much as eight. Mandioca or cassada is likewise cul-              dismay a roast turkey and a pig appeared in all their
tivated in great quantity. Every part of this plant is           substantial reality. During the meals, it was the em-
useful; the leaves and stalks are eaten by the horses,           ployment of a man to drive out of the room sundry
and the roots are ground into a pulp, which, when                old hounds, and dozens of little black children,
pressed dry and baked, forms the farinha, the prin-              which crawled in together, at every opportunity. As
cipal article of sustenance in the Brazils. It is a curi-        long as the idea of slavery could be banished, there
ous, though well-known fact, that the juice of this              was something exceedingly fascinating in this simple
most nutritious plant is highly poisonous. A few                 and patriarchal style of living: it was such a perfect
years ago a cow died at this Fazenda, in consequence             retirement and independence from the rest of the
of having drunk some of it. Senhor Figuireda told                world.
me that he had planted, the year before, one bag of                As soon as any stranger is seen arriving, a large
feijao or beans, and three of rice; the former of which          bell is set tolling, and generally some small cannon

                                                            29
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
are fired. The event is thus announced to the rocks            considered as anything, compared to that which is
and woods, but to nothing else. One morning I                  left in the state of nature: at some future age, how
walked out an hour before daylight to admire the               vast a population it will support! During the second
solemn stillness of the scene; at last, the silence was        day’s journey we found the road so shut up, that it
broken by the morning hymn, raised on high by the              was necessary that a man should go ahead with a
whole body of the blacks; and in this manner their             sword to cut away the creepers. The forest abounded
daily work is generally begun. On such fazendas as             with beautiful objects; among which the tree ferns,
these, I have no doubt the slaves pass happy and               though not large, were, from their bright green foli-
contented lives. On Saturday and Sunday they work              age, and the elegant curvature of their fronds, most
for themselves, and in this fertile climate the labour         worthy of admiration. In the evening it rained very
of two days is sufficient to support a man and his             heavily, and although the thermometer stood at 65
family for the whole week.                                     degs., I felt very cold. As soon as the rain ceased, it
  April 14th. — Leaving Socego, we rode to another             was curious to observe the extraordinary evapora-
estate on the Rio Macae, which was the last patch of           tion which commenced over the whole extent of the
cultivated ground in that direction. The estate was            forest. At the height of a hundred feet the hills were
two and a half miles long, and the owner had forgot-           buried in a dense white vapour, which rose like col-
ten how many broad. Only a very small piece had                umns of smoke from the most thickly wooded parts,
been cleared, yet almost every acre was capable of             and especially from the valleys. I observed this phe-
yielding all the various rich productions of a tropi-          nomenon on several occasions. I suppose it is ow-
cal land. Considering the enormous area of Brazil,             ing to the large surface of foliage, previously heated
the proportion of cultivated ground can scarcely be            by the sun’s rays.

                                                          30
                                                 Charles Darwin
  While staying at this estate, I was very nearly be-          him; for instantly, with a frightened look and half-
ing an eye-witness to one of those atrocious acts              shut eyes, he dropped his hands. I shall never forget
which can only take place in a slave country. Owing            my feelings of surprise, disgust, and shame, at see-
to a quarrel and a lawsuit, the owner was on the point         ing a great powerful man afraid even to ward off a
of taking all the women and children from the male             blow, directed, as he thought, at his face. This man
slaves, and selling them separately at the public auc-         had been trained to a degradation lower than the sla-
tion at Rio. Interest, and not any feeling of compas-          very of the most helpless animal.
sion, prevented this act. Indeed, I do not believe the           April 18th. — In returning we spent two days at
inhumanity of separating thirty families, who had              Socego, and I employed them in collecting insects in
lived together for many years, even occurred to the            the forest. The greater number of trees, although so
owner. Yet I will pledge myself, that in humanity              lofty, are not more than three or four feet in circum-
and good feeling he was superior to the common                 ference. There are, of course, a few of much greater
run of men. It may be said there exists no limit to the        dimensions. Senhor Manuel was then making a ca-
blindness of interest and selfish habit. I may men-            noe 70 feet in length from a solid trunk, which had
tion one very trifling anecdote, which at the time             originally been 110 feet long, and of great thickness.
struck me more forcibly than any story of cruelty. I           The contrast of palm trees, growing amidst the com-
was crossing a ferry with a negro, who was uncom-              mon branching kinds, never fails to give the scene
monly stupid. In endeavouring to make him under-               an intertropical character. Here the woods were or-
stand, I talked loud, and made signs, in doing which           namented by the Cabbage Palm — one of the most
I passed my hand near his face. He, I suppose,                 beautiful of its family. With a stem so narrow that it
thought I was in a passion, and was going to strike            might be clasped with the two hands, it waves its el-

                                                          31
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
egant head at the height of forty or fifty feet above the        work, as the road generally ran across a glaring hot
ground. The woody creepers, themselves covered by                sandy plain, not far from the coast. I noticed that each
other creepers, were of great thickness: some which I            time the horse put its foot on the fine siliceous sand, a
measured were two feet in circumference. Many of                 gentle chirping noise was produced. On the third day
the older trees presented a very curious appearance              we took a different line, and passed through the gay
from the tresses of a liana hanging from their boughs,           little village of Madre de Deos. This is one of the prin-
and resembling bundles of hay. If the eye was turned             cipal lines of road in Brazil; yet it was in so bad a state
from the world of foliage above, to the ground be-               that no wheeled vehicle, excepting the clumsy bul-
neath, it was attracted by the extreme elegance of the           lock-wagon, could pass along. In our whole journey
leaves of the ferns and mimosae. The latter, in some             we did not cross a single bridge built of stone; and
parts, covered the surface with a brushwood only a               those made of logs of wood were frequently so much
few inches high. In walking across these thick beds of           out of repair, that it was necessary to go on one side
mimosae, a broad track was marked by the change of               to avoid them. All distances are inaccurately known.
shade, produced by the drooping of their sensitive               The road is often marked by crosses, in the place of
petioles. It is easy to specify the individual objects of        milestones, to signify where human blood has been
admiration in these grand scenes; but it is not pos-             spilled. On the evening of the 23rd we arrived at Rio,
sible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings            having finished our pleasant little excursion.
of wonder, astonishment, and devotion, which fill and               During the remainder of my stay at Rio, I resided
elevate the mind.                                                in a cottage at Botofogo Bay. It was impossible to
  April 19th.—Leaving Socego, during the two first               wish for anything more delightful than thus to spend
days, we retraced our steps. It was very wearisome               some weeks in so magnificent a country. In England

                                                            32
                                                Charles Darwin
any person fond of natural history enjoys in his walks        two small transverse slits, from the anterior one of
a great advantage, by always having something to              which a funnel-shaped and highly irritable mouth
attract his attention; but in these fertile climates,         can be protruded. For some time after the rest of the
teeming with life, the attractions are so numerous,           animal was completely dead from the effects of salt
that he is scarcely able to walk at all.                      water or any other cause, this organ still retained its
  The few observations which I was enabled to make            vitality.
were almost exclusively confined to the invertebrate            I found no less than twelve different species of ter-
animals. The existence of a division of the genus Pla-        restrial Planariae in different parts of the southern
naria, which inhabits the dry land, interested me             hemisphere.* Some specimens which I obtained at
much. These animals are of so simple a structure,             Van Dieman’s Land, I kept alive for nearly two
that Cuvier has arranged them with the intestinal             months, feeding them on rotten wood. Having cut
worms, though never found within the bodies of                one of them transversely into two nearly equal parts,
other animals. Numerous species inhabit both salt             in the course of a fortnight both had the shape of
and fresh water; but those to which I allude were             perfect animals. I had, however, so divided the body,
found, even in the drier parts of the forest, beneath         that one of the halves contained both the inferior ori-
logs of rotten wood, on which I believe they feed. In         fices, and the other, in consequence, none. In the
general form they resemble little slugs, but are very         course of twenty-five days from the operation, the
much narrower in proportion, and several of the spe-          more perfect half could not have been distinguished
cies are beautifully coloured with longitudinal               from any other specimen. The other had increased
stripes. Their structure is very simple: near the
middle of the under or crawling surface there are             *I have described and named these species in the Annals
                                                              of Nat. Hist., vol. xiv. p. 241.

                                                         33
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
much in size; and towards its posterior end, a clear            might appear. We were accompanied by the son of a
space was formed in the parenchymatous mass, in                 neighbouring farmer — a good specimen of a wild
which a rudimentary cup-shaped mouth could                      Brazilian youth. He was dressed in a tattered old
clearly be distinguished; on the under surface, how-            shirt and trousers, and had his head uncovered: he
ever, no corresponding slit was yet open. If the in-            carried an old-fashioned gun and a large knife. The
creased heat of the weather, as we approached the               habit of carrying the knife is universal; and in tra-
equator, had not destroyed all the individuals, there           versing a thick wood it is almost necessary, on ac-
can be no doubt that this last step would have com-             count of the creeping plants. The frequent occurrence
pleted its structure. Although so well-known an ex-             of murder may be partly attributed to this habit. The
periment, it was interesting to watch the gradual               Brazilians are so dexterous with the knife, that they
production of every essential organ, out of the simple          can throw it to some distance with precision, and
extremity of another animal. It is extremely difficult          with sufficient force to cause a fatal wound. I have
to preserve these Planariae; as soon as the cessation           seen a number of little boys practising this art as a
of life allows the ordinary laws of change to act, their        game of play and from their skill in hitting an up-
entire bodies become soft and fluid, with a rapidity            right stick, they promised well for more earnest at-
which I have never seen equalled.                               tempts. My companion, the day before, had shot two
  I first visited the forest in which these Planariae           large bearded monkeys. These animals have prehen-
were found, in company with an old Portuguese                   sile tails, the extremity of which, even after death,
priest who took me out to hunt with him. The sport              can support the whole weight of the body. One of
consisted in turning into the cover a few dogs, and             them thus remained fast to a branch, and it was nec-
then patiently waiting to fire at any animal which              essary to cut down a large tree to procure it. This

                                                           34
                                               Charles Darwin
was soon effected, and down came tree and monkey             real height of 2300 feet. Mr. Daniell has observed, in
with an awful crash. Our day’s sport, besides the            his meteorological essays, that a cloud sometimes
monkey, was confined to sundry small green par-              appears fixed on a mountain summit, while the wind
rots and a few toucans. I profited, however, by my           continues to blow over it. The same phenomenon
acquaintance with the Portuguese padre, for on an-           here presented a slightly different appearance. In this
other occasion he gave me a fine specimen of the             case the cloud was clearly seen to curl over, and rap-
Yagouaroundi cat.                                            idly pass by the summit, and yet was neither dimin-
  Every one has heard of the beauty of the scenery           ished nor increased in size. The sun was setting, and
near Botofogo. The house in which I lived was seated         a gentle southerly breeze, striking against the south-
close beneath the well-known mountain of the                 ern side of the rock, mingled its current with the
Corcovado. It has been remarked, with much truth,            colder air above; and the vapour was thus con-
that abruptly conical hills are characteristic of the        densed; but as the light wreaths of cloud passed over
formation which Humboldt designates as gneiss-               the ridge, and came within the influence of the
granite. Nothing can be more striking than the effect        warmer atmosphere of the northern sloping bank,
of these huge rounded masses of naked rock rising            they were immediately re-dissolved.
out of the most luxuriant vegetation.                          The climate, during the months of May and June,
  I was often interested by watching the clouds,             or the beginning of winter, was delightful. The mean
which, rolling in from seaward, formed a bank just           temperature, from observations taken at nine o’clock,
beneath the highest point of the Corcovado. This             both morning and evening, was only 72 degs. It of-
mountain, like most others, when thus partly veiled,         ten rained heavily, but the drying southerly winds
appeared to rise to a far prouder elevation than its         soon again rendered the walks pleasant. One morn-

                                                        35
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
ing, in the course of six hours, 1.6 inches of rain fell.        evening after dark this great concert commenced; and
As this storm passed over the forests which surround             often have I sat listening to it, until my attention has
the Corcovado, the sound produced by the drops                   been drawn away by some curious passing insect.
pattering on the countless multitude of leaves was                 At these times the fireflies are seen flitting about
very remarkable, it could be heard at the distance of            from hedge to hedge. On a dark night the light can
a quarter of a mile, and was like the rushing of a               be seen at about two hundred paces distant. It is re-
great body of water. After the hotter days, it was               markable that in all the different kinds of glow-
delicious to sit quietly in the garden and watch the             worms, shining elaters, and various marine animals
evening pass into night. Nature, in these climes,                (such as the crustacea, medusae, nereidae, a coral-
chooses her vocalists from more humble performers                line of the genus Clytia, and Pyrosma), which I have
than in Europe. A small frog, of the genus Hyla, sits            observed, the light has been of a well-marked green
on a blade of grass about an inch above the surface              colour. All the fireflies, which I caught here, belonged
of the water, and sends forth a pleasing chirp: when             to the Lampyridae (in which family the English glow-
several are together they sing in harmony on differ-             worm is included), and the greater number of speci-
ent notes. I had some difficulty in catching a speci-            mens were of Lampyris occidentalis.* I found that
men of this frog. The genus Hyla has its toes termi-             this insect emitted the most brilliant flashes when
nated by small suckers; and I found this animal could            irritated: in the intervals, the abdominal rings were
crawl up a pane of glass, when placed absolutely                 obscured. The flash was almost co-instantaneous in
perpendicular. Various cicidae and crickets, at the              the two rings, but it was just perceptible first in the
same time, keep up a ceaseless shrill cry, but which,
                                                                 *I am greatly indebted to Mr. Waterhouse for his kindness
softened by the distance, is not unpleasant. Every               in naming for me this and many other insects, and giving
                                                                 me much valuable assistance.
                                                            36
                                                  Charles Darwin
anterior one. The shining matter was fluid and very             are very singular organs, for they act, by a well-fit-
adhesive: little spots, where the skin had been torn,           ted contrivance, as suckers or organs of attachment,
continued bright with a slight scintillation, whilst the        and likewise as reservoirs for saliva, or some such
uninjured parts were obscured. When the insect was              fluid. I repeatedly fed them on raw meat; and I in-
decapitated the rings remained uninterruptedly                  variably observed, that every now and then the ex-
bright, but not so brilliant as before: local irritation        tremity of the tail was applied to the mouth, and a
with a needle always increased the vividness of the             drop of fluid exuded on the meat, which was then in
light. The rings in one instance retained their lumi-           the act of being consumed. The tail, notwithstand-
nous property nearly twenty-four hours after the                ing so much practice, does not seem to be able to
death of the insect. From these facts it would appear           find its way to the mouth; at least the neck was al-
probable, that the animal has only the power of con-            ways touched first, and apparently as a guide.
cealing or extinguishing the light for short intervals,           When we were at Bahia, an elater or beetle
and that at other times the display is involuntary.             (Pyrophorus luminosus, Illig.) seemed the most com-
On the muddy and wet gravel-walks I found the lar-              mon luminous insect. The light in this case was also
vae of this lampyris in great numbers: they re-                 rendered more brilliant by irritation. I amused my-
sembled in general form the female of the English               self one day by observing the springing powers of
glowworm. These larvae possessed but feeble lu-                 this insect, which have not, as it appears to me, been
minous powers; very differently from their parents,             properly described.* The elater, when placed on its
on the slightest touch they feigned death and ceased            back and preparing to spring, moved its head and
to shine; nor did irritation excite any fresh display. I        thorax backwards, so that the pectoral spine was
kept several of them alive for some time: their tails
                                                                *Kirby’s Entomology, vol. ii. p. 317.

                                                           37
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
drawn out, and rested on the edge of its sheath. The            seen growing. The leaves of the camphor, pepper,
same backward movement being continued, the                     cinnamon, and clove trees were delightfully aro-
spine, by the full action of the muscles, was bent like         matic; and the bread-fruit, the jaca, and the mango,
a spring; and the insect at this moment rested on the           vied with each other in the magnificence of their fo-
extremity of its head and wing-cases. The effort be-            liage. The landscape in the neighbourhood of Bahia
ing suddenly relaxed, the head and thorax flew up,              almost takes its character from the two latter trees.
and in consequence, the base of the wing-cases struck           Before seeing them, I had no idea that any trees could
the supporting surface with such force, that the in-            cast so black a shade on the ground. Both of them
sect by the reaction was jerked upwards to the height           bear to the evergreen vegetation of these climates
of one or two inches. The projecting points of the              the same kind of relation which laurels and hollies
thorax, and the sheath of the spine, served to steady           in England do to the lighter green of the deciduous
the whole body during the spring. In the descrip-               trees. It may be observed, that the houses within the
tions which I have read, sufficient stress does not             tropics are surrounded by the most beautiful forms
appear to have been laid on the elasticity of the spine:        of vegetation, because many of them are at the same
so sudden a spring could not be the result of simple            time most useful to man. Who can doubt that these
muscular contraction, without the aid of some me-               qualities are united in the banana, the cocoa-nut, the
chanical contrivance.                                           many kinds of palm, the orange, and the bread-fruit
  On several occasions I enjoyed some short but most            tree?
pleasant excursions in the neighbouring country.                  During this day I was particularly struck with a
One day I went to the Botanic Garden, where many                remark of Humboldt’s, who often alludes to “the thin
plants, well known for their great utility, might be            vapour which, without changing the transparency

                                                           38
                                                   Charles Darwin
of the air, renders its tints more harmonious, and               retired spots. Whenever I saw these little creatures
softens its effects.” This is an appearance which I have         buzzing round a flower, with their wings vibrating
never observed in the temperate zones. The atmo-                 so rapidly as to be scarcely visible, I was reminded
sphere, seen through a short space of half or three-             of the sphinx moths: their movements and habits are
quarters of a mile, was perfectly lucid, but at a greater        indeed in many respects very similar.
distance all colours were blended into a most beau-                Following a pathway, I entered a noble forest, and
tiful haze, of a pale French grey, mingled with a little         from a height of five or six hundred feet, one of those
blue. The condition of the atmosphere between the                splendid views was presented, which are so com-
morning and about noon, when the effect was most                 mon on every side of Rio. At this elevation the land-
evident, had undergone little change, excepting in               scape attains its most brilliant tint; and every form,
its dryness. In the interval, the difference between             every shade, so completely surpasses in magnifi-
the dew point and temperature had increased from                 cence all that the European has ever beheld in his
7.5 to 17 degs.                                                  own country, that he knows not how to express his
  On another occasion I started early and walked to              feelings. The general effect frequently recalled to my
the Gavia, or topsail mountain. The air was delight-             mind the gayest scenery of the Opera-house or the
fully cool and fragrant; and the drops of dew still              great theatres. I never returned from these excursions
glittered on the leaves of the large liliaceous plants,          empty-handed. This day I found a specimen of a
which shaded the streamlets of clear water. Sitting              curious fungus, called Hymenophallus. Most people
down on a block of granite, it was delightful to watch           know the English Phallus, which in autumn taints
the various insects and birds as they flew past. The             the air with its odious smell: this, however, as the
humming-bird seems particularly fond of such shady               entomologist is aware, is, to some of our beetles a

                                                            39
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
delightful fragrance. So was it here; for a Strongylus,        its of Papilio feronia. This butterfly is not uncom-
attracted by the odour, alighted on the fungus as I            mon, and generally frequents the orange-groves.
carried it in my hand. We here see in two distant              Although a high flier, yet it very frequently alights
countries a similar relation between plants and in-            on the trunks of trees. On these occasions its head is
sects of the same families, though the species of both         invariably placed downwards; and its wings are ex-
are different. When man is the agent in introducing            panded in a horizontal plane, instead of being folded
into a country a new species, this relation is often           vertically, as is commonly the case. This is the only
broken: as one instance of this I may mention, that            butterfly which I have ever seen, that uses its legs
the leaves of the cabbages and lettuces, which in              for running. Not being aware of this fact, the insect,
England afford food to such a multitude of slugs and           more than once, as I cautiously approached with my
caterpillars, in the gardens near Rio are untouched.           forceps, shuffled on one side just as the instrument
  During our stay at Brazil I made a large collection          was on the point of closing, and thus escaped. But a
of insects. A few general observations on the com-             far more singular fact is the power which this spe-
parative importance of the different orders may be             cies possesses of making a noise.* Several times
interesting to the English entomologist. The large             *Mr. Doubleday has lately described (before the Entomo-
and brilliantly coloured Lepidoptera bespeak the               logical Society, March 3rd, 1845) a peculiar structure in the
                                                               wings of this butterfly, which seems to be the means of its
zone they inhabit, far more plainly than any other             making its noise. He says, “It is remarkable for having a
race of animals. I allude only to the butterflies; for         sort of drum at the base of the fore wings, between the
the moths, contrary to what might have been ex-                costal nervure and the subcostal. These two nervures,
                                                               moreover, have a peculiar screw-like diaphragm or vessel
pected from the rankness of the vegetation, certainly
                                                               in the interior.” I find in Langsdorff’s travels (in the years
appeared in much fewer numbers than in our own                 1803-7, p. 74) it is said, that in the island of St. Catherine’s
temperate regions. I was much surprised at the hab-            on the coast of Brazil, a butterfly called Februa
                                                               Hoffmanseggi, makes a noise, when flying away, like a rattle.
                                                          40
                                                      Charles Darwin
when a pair, probably male and female, were chas-               forward to the future dimensions of a complete cata-
ing each other in an irregular course, they passed              logue. The carnivorous beetles, or Carabidae, appear
within a few yards of me; and I distinctly heard a              in extremely few numbers within the tropics: this is
clicking noise, similar to that produced by a toothed           the more remarkable when compared to the case of
wheel passing under a spring catch. The noise was               the carnivorous quadrupeds, which are so abundant
continued at short intervals, and could be distin-              in hot countries. I was struck with this observation
guished at about twenty yards’ distance: I am cer-              both on entering Brazil, and when I saw the many
tain there is no error in the observation.                      elegant and active forms of the Harpalidae re-appear-
  I was disappointed in the general aspect of the               ing on the temperate plains of La Plata. Do the very
Coleoptera. The number of minute and obscurely                  numerous spiders and rapacious Hymenoptera sup-
coloured beetles is exceedingly great.* The cabinets            ply the place of the carnivorous beetles? The carrion-
of Europe can, as yet, boast only of the larger spe-            feeders and Brachelytra are very uncommon; on the
cies from tropical climates. It is sufficient to disturb        other hand, the Rhyncophora and Chrysomelidae,
the composure of an entomologist’s mind, to look                all of which depend on the vegetable world for sub-
                                                                sistence, are present in astonishing numbers. I do
*I may mention, as a common instance of one day’s (June         not here refer to the number of different species, but
23rd) collecting, when I was not attending particularly to      to that of the individual insects; for on this it is that
the Coleoptera, that I caught sixty-eight species of that
order. Among these, there were only two of the Carabidae,       the most striking character in the entomology of dif-
four Brachelytra, fifteen Rhyncophora, and fourteen of the      ferent countries depends. The orders Orthoptera and
Chrysomelidae. Thirty-seven species of Arachnidae,
                                                                Hemiptera are particularly numerous; as likewise
which I brought home, will be sufficient to prove that I was
not paying overmuch attention to the generally favoured         is the stinging division of the Hymenoptera the bees,
order of Coleoptera.
                                                           41
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
perhaps, being excepted. A person, on first entering            came to the charge, and again having failed to make
a tropical forest, is astonished at the labours of the          any impression, this line of march was entirely given
ants: well-beaten paths branch off in every direction,          up. By going an inch round, the file might have
on which an army of never-failing foragers may be               avoided the stone, and this doubtless would have
seen, some going forth, and others returning, bur-              happened, if it had been originally there: but having
dened with pieces of green leaf, often larger than their        been attacked, the lion-hearted little warriors scorned
own bodies.                                                     the idea of yielding.
   A small dark-coloured ant sometimes migrates in                Certain wasp-like insects, which construct in the
countless numbers. One day, at Bahia, my attention              corners of the verandahs clay cells for their larvae,
was drawn by observing many spiders, cockroaches,               are very numerous in the neighbourhood of Rio.
and other insects, and some lizards, rushing in the             These cells they stuff full of half-dead spiders and
greatest agitation across a bare piece of ground. A             caterpillars, which they seem wonderfully to know
little way behind, every stalk and leaf was blackened           how to sting to that degree as to leave them paraly-
by a small ant. The swarm having crossed the bare               sed but alive, until their eggs are hatched; and the
space, divided itself, and descended an old wall. By            larvae feed on the horrid mass of powerless, half-
this means many insects were fairly enclosed; and               killed victims — a sight which has been described
the efforts which the poor little creatures made to             by an enthusiastic naturalist* as curious and pleas-
extricate themselves from such a death were won-                ing! I was much interested one day by watching a
derful. When the ants came to the road they changed
their course, and in narrow files reascended the wall.          *In a MS. in the British Museum by Mr. Abbott, who made
Having placed a small stone so as to intercept one of           his observations in Georgia; see Mr. A. White’s paper in
the lines, the whole body attacked it, and then im-             the “Annals of Nat. Hist.,” vol. vii. p. 472. Lieut. Hutton has
                                                                described a sphex with similar habits in India, in the “Jour-
mediately retired. Shortly afterwards another body              nal of the Asiatic Society,” vol. i. p. 555.
                                                           42
                                                       Charles Darwin
deadly contest between a Pepsis and a large spider                  The number of spiders, in proportion to other in-
of the genus Lycosa. The wasp made a sudden dash                  sects, is here compared with England very much
at its prey, and then flew away: the spider was evi-              larger; perhaps more so than with any other divi-
dently wounded, for, trying to escape, it rolled down             sion of the articulate animals. The variety of species
a little slope, but had still strength sufficient to crawl        among the jumping spiders appears almost infinite.
into a thick tuft of grass. The wasp soon returned,               The genus, or rather family, of Epeira, is here char-
and seemed surprised at not immediately finding                   acterized by many singular forms; some species have
its victim. It then commenced as regular a hunt as                pointed coriaceous shells, others enlarged and spiny
ever hound did after fox; making short semicircular               tibiae. Every path in the forest is barricaded with the
casts, and all the time rapidly vibrating its wings and           strong yellow web of a species, belonging to the same
antennae. The spider, though well concealed, was                  division with the Epeira clavipes of Fabricius, which
soon discovered, and the wasp, evidently still afraid             was formerly said by Sloane to make, in the West
of its adversary’s jaws, after much manoeuvring, in-              Indies, webs so strong as to catch birds. A small and
flicted two stings on the under side of its thorax. At            pretty kind of spider, with very long fore-legs, and
last, carefully examining with its antennae the now               which appears to belong to an undescribed genus,
motionless spider, it proceeded to drag away the                  lives as a parasite on almost every one of these webs.
body. But I stopped both tyrant and prey.*                        I suppose it is too insignificant to be noticed by the
*Don Felix Azara (vol. i. p. 175), mentioning a hymenopter-
                                                                  great Epeira, and is therefore allowed to prey on the
ous insect, probably of the same genus, says he saw it
dragging a dead spider through tall grass, in a straight line     minute insects, which, adhering to the lines, would
to its nest, which was one hundred and sixty-three paces          otherwise be wasted. When frightened, this little
distant. He adds that the wasp, in order to find the road,
                                                                  spider either feigns death by extending its front legs,
every now and then made “demi-tours d’environ trois
palmes.”
                                                             43
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
or suddenly drops from the web. A large Epeira of              low, it suddenly falls down; and I have distinctly
the same division with Epeira tuberculata and conica           seen the thread from the spinners lengthened by the
is extremely common, especially in dry situations.             animal while yet stationary, as preparatory to its fall.
Its web, which is generally placed among the great             If the ground is clear beneath, the Epeira seldom falls,
leaves of the common agave, is sometimes strength-             but moves quickly through a central passage from
ened near the centre by a pair or even four zigzag             one to the other side. When still further disturbed, it
ribbons, which connect two adjoining rays. When any            practises a most curious manoeuvre: standing in the
large insect, as a grasshopper or wasp, is caught, the         middle, it violently jerks the web, which it attached
spider, by a dexterous movement, makes it revolve              to elastic twigs, till at last the whole acquires such a
very rapidly, and at the same time emitting a band             rapid vibratory movement, that even the outline of
of threads from its spinners, soon envelops its prey           the spider’s body becomes indistinct.
in a case like the cocoon of a silkworm. The spider               It is well known that most of the British spiders,
now examines the powerless victim, and gives the               when a large insect is caught in their webs, endeav-
fatal bite on the hinder part of its thorax; then re-          our to cut the lines and liberate their prey, to save
treating, patiently waits till the poison has taken ef-        their nets from being entirely spoiled. I once, how-
fect. The virulence of this poison may be judged of            ever, saw in a hot-house in Shropshire a large female
from the fact that in half a minute I opened the mesh,         wasp caught in the irregular web of a quite small
and found a large wasp quite lifeless. This Epeira             spider; and this spider, instead of cutting the web,
always stands with its head downwards near the                 most perseveringly continued to entangle the body,
centre of the web. When disturbed, it acts differently         and especially the wings, of its prey. The wasp at
according to circumstances: if there is a thicket be-          first aimed in vain repeated thrusts with its sting at

                                                          44
                                                 Charles Darwin
its little antagonist. Pitying the wasp, after allowing        has described a gregarious spider in Paraguay,
it to struggle for more than an hour, I killed it and          which Walckanaer thinks must be a Theridion, but
put it back into the web. The spider soon returned;            probably it is an Epeira, and perhaps even the same
and an hour afterwards I was much surprised to find            species with mine. I cannot, however, recollect see-
it with its jaws buried in the orifice, through which          ing a central nest as large as a hat, in which, during
the sting is protruded by the living wasp. I drove             autumn, when the spiders die, Azara says the eggs
the spider away two or three times, but for the next           are deposited. As all the spiders which I saw were
twenty-four hours I always found it again sucking              of the same size, they must have been nearly of the
at the same place. The spider became much dis-                 same age. This gregarious habit, in so typical a ge-
tended by the juices of its prey, which was many               nus as Epeira, among insects, which are so blood-
times larger than itself.                                      thirsty and solitary that even the two sexes attack
  I may here just mention, that I found, near St. Fe           each other, is a very singular fact.
Bajada, many large black spiders, with ruby-                     In a lofty valley of the Cordillera, near Mendoza, I
coloured marks on their backs, having gregarious               found another spider with a singularly-formed web.
habits. The webs were placed vertically, as is invari-         Strong lines radiated in a vertical plane from a com-
ably the case with the genus Epeira: they were sepa-           mon centre, where the insect had its station; but only
rated from each other by a space of about two feet,            two of the rays were connected by a symmetrical
but were all attached to certain common lines, which           mesh-work; so that the net, instead of being, as is
were of great length, and extended to all parts of the         generally the case, circular, consisted of a wedge-
community. In this manner the tops of some large               shaped segment. All the webs were similarly con-
bushes were encompassed by the united nets. Azara*             structed.
*Azara’s Voyage, vol. i. p. 213
                                                          45
                                          The Voyage of the Beagle
                                                            ship was running nine knots an hour, these animals
       CHAPTER III                                          could cross and recross the bows with the greatest
                                                            of ease, and then dash away right ahead. As soon as
              MALDONADO                                     we entered the estuary of the Plata, the weather was
                                                            very unsettled. One dark night we were surrounded
  Monte Video—Excursion to R. Polanco—Lazo and              by numerous seals and penguins, which made such
Bolas —Partridges — Absence of Trees—Deer —                 strange noises, that the officer on watch reported he
Capybara, or River Hog — Tucutuco—Molothrus,                could hear the cattle bellowing on shore. On a sec-
cuckoo-like habits—Tyrant-flycatcher—Mocking-               ond night we witnessed a splendid scene of natural
bird—Carrion Hawks—Tubes formed by Lightning                fireworks; the mast-head and yard-arm-ends shone
—House struck.                                              with St. Elmo’s light; and the form of the vane could
                                                            almost be traced, as if it had been rubbed with phos-
  July 5th, 1832 — In the morning we got under way,         phorus. The sea was so highly luminous, that the
and stood out of the splendid harbour of Rio de             tracks of the penguins were marked by a fiery wake,
Janeiro. In our passage to the Plata, we saw nothing        and the darkness of the sky was momentarily illu-
particular, excepting on one day a great shoal of           minated by the most vivid lightning.
porpoises, many hundreds in number. The whole                 When within the mouth of the river, I was interested
sea was in places furrowed by them; and a most ex-          by observing how slowly the waters of the sea and
traordinary spectacle was presented, as hundreds,           river mixed. The latter, muddy and discoloured, from
proceeding together by jumps, in which their whole          its less specific gravity, floated on the surface of the
bodies were exposed, thus cut the water. When the           salt water. This was curiously exhibited in the wake

                                                       46
                                                     Charles Darwin
of the vessel, where a line of blue water was seen                 business for a circuit of fifty miles round. The town
mingling in little eddies, with the adjoining fluid.               is separated from the river by a band of sand-hill-
  July 26th. — We anchored at Monte Video. The                     ocks, about a mile broad: it is surrounded, on all
Beagle was employed in surveying the extreme                       other sides, by an open slightly-undulating coun-
southern and eastern coasts of America, south of the               try, covered by one uniform layer of fine green turf,
Plata, during the two succeeding years. To prevent                 on which countless herds of cattle, sheep, and horses
useless repetitions, I will extract those parts of my              graze. There is very little land cultivated even close
journal which refer to the same districts without al-              to the town. A few hedges, made of cacti and agave,
ways attending to the order in which we visited them.              mark out where some wheat or Indian corn has been
  Maldonado is situated on the northern bank of the                planted. The features of the country are very similar
Plata, and not very far from the mouth of the estu-                along the whole northern bank of the Plata. The only
ary. It is a most quiet, forlorn, little town; built, as is        difference is, that here the granitic hills are a little
universally the case in these countries, with the                  bolder. The scenery is very uninteresting; there is
streets running at right angles to each other, and hav-            scarcely a house, an enclosed piece of ground, or
ing in the middle a large plaza or square, which, from             even a tree, to give it an air of cheerfulness Yet, after
its size, renders the scantiness of the population more            being imprisoned for some time in a ship, there is a
evident. It possesses scarcely any trade; the exports              charm in the unconfined feeling of walking over
being confined to a few hides and living cattle. The               boundless plains of turf. Moreover, if your view is
inhabitants are chiefly landowners, together with a                limited to a small space, many objects possess
few shopkeepers and the necessary tradesmen, such                  beauty. Some of the smaller birds are brilliantly
as blacksmiths and carpenters, who do nearly all the               coloured; and the bright green sward, browsed short

                                                              47
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
by the cattle, is ornamented by dwarf flowers, among             dead on the road, with his throat cut. This happened
which a plant, looking like the daisy, claimed the               close to a cross, the record of a former murder.
place of an old friend. What would a florist say to                On the first night we slept at a retired little coun-
whole tracts, so thickly covered by the Verbena                  try-house; and there I soon found out that I possessed
melindres, as, even at a distance, to appear of the              two or three articles, especially a pocket compass,
most gaudy scarlet?                                              which created unbounded astonishment. In every
  I stayed ten weeks at Maldonado, in which time a               house I was asked to show the compass, and by its
nearly perfect collection of the animals, birds, and             aid, together with a map, to point out the direction
reptiles, was procured. Before making any observa-               of various places. It excited the liveliest admiration
tions respecting them, I will give an account of a little        that I, a perfect stranger, should know the road (for
excursion I made as far as the river Polanco, which              direction and road are synonymous in this open
is about seventy miles distant, in a northerly direc-            country) to places where I had never been. At one
tion. I may mention, as a proof how cheap every-                 house a young woman, who was ill in bed, sent to
thing is in this country, that I paid only two dollars a         entreat me to come and show her the compass. If their
day, or eight shillings, for two men, together with a            surprise was great, mine was greater, to find such
troop of about a dozen riding-horses. My compan-                 ignorance among people who possessed their thou-
ions were well armed with pistols and sabres; a pre-             sands of cattle, and “estancias” of great extent. It can
caution which I thought rather unnecessary but the               only be accounted for by the circumstance that this
first piece of news we heard was, that, the day be-              retired part of the country is seldom visited by for-
fore, a traveller from Monte Video had been found                eigners. I was asked whether the earth or sun moved;
                                                                 whether it was hotter or colder to the north; where

                                                            48
                                                  Charles Darwin
Spain was, and many other such questions. The                   country to ask for a night’s lodging at the first con-
greater number of the inhabitants had an indistinct             venient house. The astonishment at the compass, and
idea that England, London, and North America, were              my other feats of jugglery, was to a certain degree
different names for the same place; but the better              advantageous, as with that, and the long stories my
informed well knew that London and North America                guides told of my breaking stones, knowing venom-
were separate countries close together, and that En-            ous from harmless snakes, collecting insects, etc., I
gland was a large town in London! I carried with me             repaid them for their hospitality. I am writing as if I
some promethean matches, which I ignited by bit-                had been among the inhabitants of central Africa:
ing; it was thought so wonderful that a man should              Banda Oriental would not be flattered by the com-
strike fire with his teeth, that it was usual to collect        parison; but such were my feelings at the time.
the whole family to see it: I was once offered a dollar           The next day we rode to the village of Las Minas.
for a single one. Washing my face in the morning                The country was rather more hilly, but otherwise
caused much speculation at the village of Las Minas;            continued the same; an inhabitant of the Pampas no
a superior tradesman closely cross-questioned me                doubt would have considered it as truly Alpine. The
about so singular a practice; and likewise why on               country is so thinly inhabited, that during the whole
board we wore our beards; for he had heard from                 day we scarcely met a single person. Las Minas is
my guide that we did so. He eyed me with much                   much smaller even than Maldonado. It is seated on
suspicion; perhaps he had heard of ablutions in the             a little plain, and is surrounded by low rocky moun-
Mahomedan religion, and knowing me to be a                      tains. It is of the usual symmetrical form, and with
heretick, probably he came to the conclusion that all           its whitewashed church standing in the centre, had
hereticks were Turks. It is the general custom in this          rather a pretty appearance. The outskirting houses

                                                           49
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
rose out of the plain like isolated beings, without               On the third day we pursued rather an irregular
the accompaniment of gardens or courtyards. This                course, as I was employed in examining some beds
is generally the case in the country, and all the houses        of marble. On the fine plains of turf we saw many
have, in consequence an uncomfortable aspect. At                ostriches (Struthio rhea). Some of the flocks contained
night we stopped at a pulperia, or drinking-shop.               as many as twenty or thirty birds. These, when stand-
During the evening a great number of Gauchos came               ing on any little eminence, and seen against the clear
in to drink spirits and smoke cigars: their appear-             sky, presented a very noble appearance. I never met
ance is very striking; they are generally tall and hand-        with such tame ostriches in any other part of the coun-
some, but with a proud and dissolute expression of              try: it was easy to gallop up within a short distance
countenance. They frequently wear their moustaches              of them; but then, expanding their wings, they made
and long black hair curling down their backs. With              all sail right before the wind, and soon left the horse
their brightly coloured garments, great spurs clank-            astern.
ing about their heels, and knives stuck as daggers                At night we came to the house of Don Juan Fuentes,
(and often so used) at their waists, they look a very           a rich landed proprietor, but not personally known
different race of men from what might be expected               to either of my companions. On approaching the
from their name of Gauchos, or simple countrymen.               house of a stranger, it is usual to follow several little
Their politeness is excessive; they never drink their           points of etiquette: riding up slowly to the door, the
spirits without expecting you to taste it; but whilst           salutation of Ave Maria is given, and until some-
making their exceedingly graceful bow, they seem                body comes out and asks you to alight, it is not cus-
quite as ready, if occasion offered, to cut your throat.        tomary even to get off your horse: the formal answer
                                                                of the owner is, “sin pecado concebida” — that is,

                                                           50
                                                 Charles Darwin
conceived without sin. Having entered the house,               tered for the supply of the establishment. These half-
some general conversation is kept up for a few min-            wild cattle are very active; and knowing full well
utes, till permission is asked to pass the night there.        the fatal lazo, they led the horses a long and labori-
This is granted as a matter of course. The stranger            ous chase. After witnessing the rude wealth dis-
then takes his meals with the family, and a room is            played in the number of cattle, men, and horses, Don
assigned him, where with the horsecloths belonging             Juan’s miserable house was quite curious. The floor
to his recado (or saddle of the Pampas) he makes his           consisted of hardened mud, and the windows were
bed. It is curious how similar circumstances produce           without glass; the sitting-room boasted only of a few
such similar results in manners. At the Cape of Good           of the roughest chairs and stools, with a couple of
Hope the same hospitality, and very nearly the same            tables. The supper, although several strangers were
points of etiquette, are universally observed. The dif-        present, consisted of two huge piles, one of roast
ference, however, between the character of the Span-           beef, the other of boiled, with some pieces of pump-
iard and that of the Dutch boer is shown, by the               kin: besides this latter there was no other vegetable,
former never asking his guest a single question be-            and not even a morsel of bread. For drinking, a large
yond the strictest rule of politeness, whilst the hon-         earthenware jug of water served the whole party. Yet
est Dutchman demands where he has been, where                  this man was the owner of several square miles of
he is going, what is his business, and even how many           land, of which nearly every acre would produce corn,
brothers sisters, or children he may happen to have.           and, with a little trouble, all the common vegetables.
  Shortly after our arrival at Don Juan’s, one of the          The evening was spent in smoking, with a little im-
largest herds of cattle was driven in towards the              promptu singing, accompanied by the guitar. The
house, and three beasts were picked out to be slaugh-

                                                          51
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
signoritas all sat together in one corner of the room,           consists of two round stones, covered with leather,
and did not sup with the men.                                    and united by a thin plaited thong, about eight feet
  So many works have been written about these                    long. The other kind differs only in having three balls
countries, that it is almost superfluous to describe             united by the thongs to a common centre. The Gau-
either the lazo or the bolas. The lazo consists of a             cho holds the smallest of the three in his hand, and
very strong, but thin, well-plaited rope, made of raw            whirls the other two round and round his head; then,
hide. One end is attached to the broad surcingle,                taking aim, sends them like chain shot revolving
which fastens together the complicated gear of the               through the air. The balls no sooner strike any ob-
recado, or saddle used in the Pampas; the other is               ject, than, winding round it, they cross each other,
terminated by a small ring of iron or brass, by which            and become firmly hitched. The size and weight of
a noose can be formed. The Gaucho, when he is go-                the balls vary, according to the purpose for which
ing to use the lazo, keeps a small coil in his bridle-           they are made: when of stone, although not larger
hand, and in the other holds the running noose which             than an apple, they are sent with such force as some-
is made very large, generally having a diameter of               times to break the leg even of a horse. I have seen
about eight feet. This he whirls round his head, and             the balls made of wood, and as large as a turnip, for
by the dexterous movement of his wrist keeps the                 the sake of catching these animals without injuring
noose open; then, throwing it, he causes it to fall on           them. The balls are sometimes made of iron, and
any particular spot he chooses. The lazo, when not               these can be hurled to the greatest distance. The main
used, is tied up in a small coil to the after part of the        difficulty in using either lazo or bolas is to ride so
recado. The bolas, or balls, are of two kinds: the sim-          well as to be able at full speed, and while suddenly
plest, which is chiefly used for catching ostriches,             turning about, to whirl them so steadily round the

                                                            52
                                                Charles Darwin
head, as to take aim: on foot any person would soon           English kind. It appears a very silly bird. A man on
learn the art. One day, as I was amusing myself by            horseback by riding round and round in a circle, or
galloping and whirling the balls round my head, by            rather in a spire, so as to approach closer each time,
accident the free one struck a bush, and its revolv-          may knock on the head as many as he pleases. The
ing motion being thus destroyed, it immediately fell          more common method is to catch them with a run-
to the ground, and, like magic, caught one hind leg           ning noose, or little lazo, made of the stem of an
of my horse; the other ball was then jerked out of my         ostrich’s feather, fastened to the end of a long stick.
hand, and the horse fairly secured. Luckily he was            A boy on a quiet old horse will frequently thus catch
an old practised animal, and knew what it meant;              thirty or forty in a day. In Arctic North America* the
otherwise he would probably have kicked till he had           Indians catch the Varying Hare by walking spirally
thrown himself down. The Gauchos roared with                  round and round it, when on its form: the middle of
laughter; they cried out that they had seen every sort        the day is reckoned the best time, when the sun is
of animal caught, but had never before seen a man             high, and the shadow of the hunter not very long.
caught by himself.                                              On our return to Maldonado, we followed rather a
  During the two succeeding days, I reached the fur-          different line of road. Near Pan de Azucar, a land-
thest point which I was anxious to examine. The               mark well known to all those who have sailed up
country wore the same aspect, till at last the fine           the Plata, I stayed a day at the house of a most hos-
green turf became more wearisome than a dusty turn-           pitable old Spaniard. Early in the morning we as-
pike road. We everywhere saw great numbers of                 cended the Sierra de las Animas. By the aid of the
partridges (Nothura major). These birds do not go             rising sun the scenery was almost picturesque. To
in coveys, nor do they conceal themselves like the            *Hearne’s Journey, p. 383.

                                                         53
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
the westward the view extended over an immense                   Arroyo Tapes I heard of a wood of palms; and one
level plain as far as the Mount, at Monte Video, and             of these trees, of considerable size, I saw near the
to the eastward, over the mammillated country of                 Pan de Azucar, in lat. 35 degs. These, and the trees
Maldonado. On the summit of the mountain there                   planted by the Spaniards, offer the only exceptions
were several small heaps of stones, which evidently              to the general scarcity of wood. Among the intro-
had lain there for many years. My companion assured              duced kinds may be enumerated poplars, olives,
me that they were the work of the Indians in the old             peach, and other fruit trees: the peaches succeed so
time. The heaps were similar, but on a much smaller              well, that they afford the main supply of firewood
scale, to those so commonly found on the mountains               to the city of Buenos Ayres. Extremely level coun-
of Wales. The desire to signalize any event, on the              tries, such as the Pampas, seldom appear favourable
highest point of the neighbouring land, seems an uni-            to the growth of trees. This may possibly be attrib-
versal passion with mankind. At the present day, not             uted either to the force of the winds, or the kind of
a single Indian, either civilized or wild, exists in this        drainage. In the nature of the land, however, around
part of the province; nor am I aware that the former             Maldonado, no such reason is apparent; the rocky
inhabitants have left behind them any more perma-                mountains afford protected situations; enjoying vari-
nent records than these insignificant piles on the sum-          ous kinds of soil; streamlets of water are common at
mit of the Sierra de las Animas.                                 the bottoms of nearly every valley; and the clayey
  The general, and almost entire absence of trees in             nature of the earth seems adapted to retain mois-
Banda Oriental is remarkable. Some of the rocky hills            ture. It has been inferred with much probability, that
are partly covered by thickets, and on the banks of              the presence of woodland is generally determined*
the larger streams, especially to the north of Las               by the annual amount of moisture; yet in this prov-
Minas, willow-trees are not uncommon. Near the                   *Maclaren, art. “America,” Encyclop. Brittann.
                                                            54
                                                    Charles Darwin
ince abundant and heavy rain falls during the win-            the mountains, the arid plains of Patagonia support
ter; and the summer, though dry, is not so in any             a most scanty vegetation. In the more northern parts
excessive degree.* We see nearly the whole of Aus-            of the continent, within the limits of the constant
tralia covered by lofty trees, yet that country pos-          south-eastern trade-wind, the eastern side is orna-
sesses a far more arid climate. Hence we must look            mented by magnificent forests; whilst the western
to some other and unknown cause.                              coast, from lat. 4 degs. S. to lat. 32 degs. S., may be
  Confining our view to South America, we should              described as a desert; on this western coast, north-
certainly be tempted to believe that trees flourished         ward of lat. 4 degs. S., where the trade-wind loses its
only under a very humid climate; for the limit of the         regularity, and heavy torrents of rain fall periodi-
forest-land follows, in a most remarkable manner,             cally, the shores of the Pacific, so utterly desert in
that of the damp winds. In the southern part of the           Peru, assume near Cape Blanco the character of luxu-
continent, where the western gales, charged with              riance so celebrated at Guyaquil and Panama. Hence
moisture from the Pacific, prevail, every island on           in the southern and northern parts of the continent,
the broken west coast, from lat. 38 degs. to the ex-          the forest and desert lands occupy reversed posi-
treme point of Tierra del Fuego, is densely covered           tions with respect to the Cordillera, and these posi-
by impenetrable forests. On the eastern side of the           tions are apparently determined by the direction of
Cordillera, over the same extent of latitude, where a         the prevalent winds. In the middle of the continent
blue sky and a fine climate prove that the atmosphere         there is a broad intermediate band, including cen-
has been deprived of its moisture by passing over             tral Chile and the provinces of La Plata, where the
                                                              rain-bringing winds have not to pass over lofty
*Azara says, “Je crois que la quantite annuelle des pluies
est, dans toutes ces contrees, plus considerable qu’en        mountains, and where the land is neither a desert
Espagne.” — Vol. i. p. 36.
                                                         55
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
nor covered by forests. But even the rule, if confined          During our stay at Maldonado I collected several
to South America, of trees flourishing only in a cli-         quadrupeds, eighty kinds of birds, and many rep-
mate rendered humid by rain-bearing winds, has a              tiles, including nine species of snakes. Of the indig-
strongly marked exception in the case of the Falkland         enous mammalia, the only one now left of any size,
Islands. These islands, situated in the same latitude         which is common, is the Cervus campestris. This deer
with Tierra del Fuego and only between two and                is exceedingly abundant, often in small herds,
three hundred miles distant from it, having a nearly          throughout the countries bordering the Plata and in
similar climate, with a geological formation almost           Northern Patagonia. If a person crawling close along
identical, with favourable situations and the same            the ground, slowly advances towards a herd, the deer
kind of peaty soil, yet can boast of few plants de-           frequently, out of curiosity, approach to reconnoitre
serving even the title of bushes; whilst in Tierra del        him. I have by this means, killed from one spot, three
Fuego it is impossible to find an acre of land not            out of the same herd. Although so tame and inquisi-
covered by the densest forest. In this case, both the         tive, yet when approached on horseback, they are
direction of the heavy gales of wind and of the cur-          exceedingly wary. In this country nobody goes on
rents of the sea are favourable to the transport of           foot, and the deer knows man as its enemy only when
seeds from Tierra del Fuego, as is shown by the ca-           he is mounted and armed with the bolas. At Bahia
noes and trunks of trees drifted from that country,           Blanca, a recent establishment in Northern Patagonia,
and frequently thrown on the shores of the Western            I was surprised to find how little the deer cared for
Falkland. Hence perhaps it is, that there are many            the noise of a gun: one day I fired ten times from
plants in common to the two countries but with re-            within eighty yards at one animal; and it was much
spect to the trees of Tierra del Fuego, even attempts         more startled at the ball cutting up the ground than
made to transplant them have failed.
                                                         56
                                                Charles Darwin
at the report of the rifle. My powder being exhausted,        the buck is most powerful at the period when its
I was obliged to get up (to my shame as a sportsman           horns are perfect, or free from the hairy skin. When
be it spoken, though well able to kill birds on the           in this state the meat is, of course, quite uneatable;
wing) and halloo till the deer ran away.                      but the Gauchos assert, that if buried for some time
  The most curious fact with respect to this animal,          in fresh earth, the taint is removed. I have somewhere
is the overpoweringly strong and offensive odour              read that the islanders in the north of Scotland treat
which proceeds from the buck. It is quite indescrib-          the rank carcasses of the fish-eating birds in the same
able: several times whilst skinning the specimen              manner.
which is now mounted at the Zoological Museum, I                The order Rodentia is here very numerous in spe-
was almost overcome by nausea. I tied up the skin             cies: of mice alone I obtained no less than eight
in a silk pocket-handkerchief, and so carried it home:        kinds.* The largest gnawing animal in the world, the
this handkerchief, after being well washed, I continu-        Hydrochaerus capybara (the water-hog), is here also
ally used, and it was of course as repeatedly washed;         common. One which I shot at Monte Video weighed
yet every time, for a space of one year and seven             ninety-eight pounds: its length from the end of the
months, when first unfolded, I distinctly perceived
the odour. This appears an astonishing instance of            *In South America I collected altogether twenty-seven spe-
the permanence of some matter, which nevertheless             cies of mice, and thirteen more are known from the works
                                                              of Azara and other authors. Those collected by myself
in its nature must be most subtile and volatile. Fre-         have been named and described by Mr. Waterhouse at
quently, when passing at the distance of half a mile          the meetings of the Zoological Society. I must be allowed
                                                              to take this opportunity of returning my cordial thanks to
to leeward of a herd, I have perceived the whole air
                                                              Mr. Waterhouse, and to the other gentleman attached to
tainted with the effluvium. I believe the smell from          that Society, for their kind and most liberal assistance on
                                                              all occasions.
                                                         57
                                                 The Voyage of the Beagle
snout to the stump-like tail, was three feet two inches;             animals, at Maldonado, were very tame; by cau-
and its girth three feet eight. These great Rodents                  tiously walking, I approached within three yards of
occasionally frequent the islands in the mouth of the                four old ones. This tameness may probably be ac-
Plata, where the water is quite salt, but are far more               counted for, by the Jaguar having been banished for
abundant on the borders of fresh-water lakes and riv-                some years, and by the Gaucho not thinking it worth
ers. Near Maldonado three or four generally live to-                 his while to hunt them. As I approached nearer and
gether. In the daytime they either lie among the                     nearer they frequently made their peculiar noise,
aquatic plants, or openly feed on the turf plain.*                   which is a low abrupt grunt, not having much actual
When viewed at a distance, from their manner of                      sound, but rather arising from the sudden expulsion
walking and colour they resemble pigs: but when                      of air: the only noise I know at all like it, is the first
seated on their haunches, and attentively watching                   hoarse bark of a large dog. Having watched the four
any object with one eye, they reassume the appear-                   from almost within arm’s length (and they me) for
ance of their congeners, cavies and rabbits. Both the                several minutes, they rushed into the water at full
front and side view of their head has quite a ludi-                  gallop with the greatest impetuosity, and emitted at
crous aspect, from the great depth of their jaw. These               the same time their bark. After diving a short dis-
                                                                     tance they came again to the surface, but only just
*In the stomach and duodenum of a capybara which I                   showed the upper part of their heads. When the fe-
opened I found a very large quantity of a thin yellowish
fluid, in which scarcely a fibre could be distinguished. Mr.         male is swimming in the water, and has young ones,
Owen informs me that a part of the oesophagus is so con-             they are said to sit on her back. These animals are
structed that nothing much larger than a crowquill can be
                                                                     easily killed in numbers; but their skins are of tri-
passed down. Certainly the broad teeth and strong jaws
of this animal are well fitted to grind into pulp the aquatic        fling value, and the meat is very indifferent. On the
plants on which it feeds.
                                                                58
                                                  Charles Darwin
islands in the Rio Parana they are exceedingly abun-            easy to tell whence it comes, nor is it possible to
dant, and afford the ordinary prey to the Jaguar.               guess what kind of creature utters it. The noise con-
  The Tucutuco (Ctenomys Brasiliensis) is a curious             sists in a short, but not rough, nasal grunt, which is
small animal, which may be briefly described as a               monotonously repeated about four times in quick
Gnawer, with the habits of a mole. It is extremely              succession:* the name Tucutuco is given in imita-
numerous in some parts of the country, but it is dif-           tion of the sound. Where this animal is abundant, it
ficult to be procured, and never, I believe, comes out          may be heard at all times of the day, and sometimes
of the ground. It throws up at the mouth of its bur-            directly beneath one’s feet. When kept in a room,
rows hillocks of earth like those of the mole, but              the tucutucos move both slowly and clumsily, which
smaller. Considerable tracts of country are so com-             appears owing to the outward action of their hind
pletely undermined by these animals, that horses in             legs; and they are quite incapable, from the socket
passing over, sink above their fetlocks. The tucutucos          of the thigh-bone not having a certain ligament, of
appear, to a certain degree, to be gregarious: the man          jumping even the smallest vertical height. They are
who procured the specimens for me had caught six                very stupid in making any attempt to escape; when
together, and he said this was a common occurrence.             angry or frightened they utter the tucutuco. Of those
They are nocturnal in their habits; and their princi-
pal food is the roots of plants, which are the object of        *At the R. Negro, in Northern Patagonia, there is an ani-
                                                                mal of the same habits, and probably a closely allied spe-
their extensive and superficial burrows. This animal            cies, but which I never saw. Its noise is different from that
is universally known by a very peculiar noise which             of the Maldonado kind; it is repeated only twice instead of
                                                                three or four times, and is more distinct and sonorous;
it makes when beneath the ground. A person, the
                                                                when heard from a distance it so closely resembles the
first time he hears it, is much surprised; for it is not        sound made in cutting down a small tree with an axe, that
                                                                I have sometimes remained in doubt concerning it.
                                                           59
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
I kept alive several, even the first day, became quite          living in dark caverns filled with water; in both of
tame, not attempting to bite or to run away; others             which animals the eye is in an almost rudimentary
were a little wilder.                                           state, and is covered by a tendinous membrane and
  The man who caught them asserted that very many               skin. In the common mole the eye is extraordinarily
are invariably found blind. A specimen which I pre-             small but perfect, though many anatomists doubt
served in spirits was in this state; Mr. Reid consid-           whether it is connected with the true optic nerve; its
ers it to be the effect of inflammation in the nictitat-        vision must certainly be imperfect, though probably
ing membrane. When the animal was alive I placed                useful to the animal when it leaves its burrow. In the
my finger within half an inch of its head, and not the          tucutuco, which I believe never comes to the surface
slightest notice was taken: it made its way, however,           of the ground, the eye is rather larger, but often ren-
about the room nearly as well as the others. Consid-            dered blind and useless, though without apparently
ering the strictly subterranean habits of the tucutuco,         causing any inconvenience to the animal; no doubt
the blindness, though so common, cannot be a very               Lamarck would have said that the tucutuco is now
serious evil; yet it appears strange that any animal            passing into the state of the Asphalax and Proteus.
should possess an organ frequently subject to be in-              Birds of many kinds are extremely abundant on
jured. Lamarck would have been delighted with this              the undulating, grassy plains around Maldonado.
fact, had he known it, when speculating* (probably              There are several species of a family allied in struc-
with more truth than usual with him) on the gradu-              ture and manners to our Starling: one of these
ally _acquired_ blindness of the Asphalax, a Gnawer             (Molothrus niger) is remarkable from its habits. Sev-
living under ground, and of the Proteus, a reptile              eral may often be seen standing together on tbe back
                                                                of a cow or horse; and while perched on a hedge,
*Philosoph. Zoolog., tom. i. p. 242.

                                                           60
                                                     Charles Darwin
pluming themselves in the sun, they sometimes at-                  quarters of a great continent, always strikes one as
tempt to sing, or rather to hiss; the noise being very             interesting, though of common occurrence.
peculiar, resembling that of bubbles of air passing                   Mr. Swainson has well remarked,* that with the
rapidly from a small orifice under water, so as to                 exception of the Molothrus pecoris, to which must
produce an acute sound. According to Azara, this                   be added the M. niger, the cuckoos are the only birds
bird, like the cuckoo, deposits its eggs in other birds’           which can be called truly parasitical; namely, such
nests. I was several times told by the country people              as “fasten themselves, as it were, on another living
that there certainly is some bird having this habit;               animal, whose animal heat brings their young into
and my assistant in collecting, who is a very accu-                life, whose food they live upon, and whose death
rate person, found a nest of the sparrow of this coun-             would cause theirs during the period of infancy.” It
try (Zonotrichia matutina), with one egg in it larger              is remarkable that some of the species, but not all,
than the others, and of a different colour and shape.              both of the Cuckoo and Molothrus, should agree in
In North America there is another species of                       this one strange habit of their parasitical propaga-
Molothrus (M. pecoris), which has a similar cuckoo-                tion, whilst opposed to each other in almost every
like habit, and which is most closely allied in every              other habit: the molothrus, like our starling, is emi-
respect to the species from the Plata, even in such                nently sociable, and lives on the open plains with-
trifling peculiarities as standing on the backs of cattle;         out art or disguise: the cuckoo, as every one knows,
it differs only in being a little smaller, and in its plum-        is a singularly shy bird; it frequents the most retired
age and eggs being of a slightly different shade of                thickets, and feeds on fruit and caterpillars. In struc-
colour. This close agreement in structure and hab-                 ture also these two genera are widely removed from
its, in representative species coming from opposite
                                                                   *Magazine of Zoology and Botany, vol. i. p. 217.

                                                              61
                                               The Voyage of the Beagle
each other. Many theories, even phrenological theo-               I am strongly inclined to believe that this view is
ries, have been advanced to explain the origin of the             correct, from having been independently led (as we
cuckoo laying its eggs in other birds’ nests. M.                  shall hereafter see) to an analogous conclusion with
Prevost alone, I think, has thrown light by his obser-            regard to the South American ostrich, the females of
vations* on this puzzle: he finds that the female                 which are parasitical, if I may so express it, on each
cuckoo, which, according to most observers, lays at               other; each female laying several eggs in the nests of
least from four to six eggs, must pair with the male              several other females, and the male ostrich under-
each time after laying only one or two eggs. Now, if              taking all the cares of incubation, like the strange
the cuckoo was obliged to sit on her own eggs, she                foster-parents with the cuckoo.
would either have to sit on all together, and there-                 I will mention only two other birds, which are very
fore leave those first laid so long, that they probably           common, and render themselves prominent from
would become addled; or she would have to hatch                   their habits. The Saurophagus sulphuratus is typi-
separately each egg, or two eggs, as soon as laid:                cal of the great American tribe of tyrant-flycatchers.
but as the cuckoo stays a shorter time in this country            In its structure it closely approaches the true shrikes,
than any other migratory bird, she certainly would                but in its habits may be compared to many birds. I
not have time enough for the successive hatchings.                have frequently observed it, hunting a field, hover-
Hence we can perceive in the fact of the cuckoo pair-             ing over one spot like a hawk, and then proceeding
ing several times, and laying her eggs at intervals,              on to another. When seen thus suspended in the air,
the cause of her depositing her eggs in other birds’              it might very readily at a short distance be mistaken
nests, and leaving them to the care of foster-parents.            for one of the Rapacious order; its stoop, however,
*Read before the Academy of Sciences in Paris. L’Institut,        is very inferior in force and rapidity to that of a hawk.
1834, p. 418.
                                                             62
                                                  Charles Darwin
At other times the Saurophagus haunts the                       America which I have observed to take its stand for
neighbourhood of water, and there, like a kingfisher,           the purpose of singing. The song may be compared
remaining stationary, it catches any small fish which           to that of the Sedge warbler, but is more powerful;
may come near the margin. These birds are not                   some harsh notes and some very high ones, being
unfrequently kept either in cages or in courtyards,             mingled with a pleasant warbling. It is heard only
with their wings cut. They soon become tame, and                during the spring. At other times its cry is harsh and
are very amusing from their cunning odd manners,                far from harmonious. Near Maldonado these birds
which were described to me as being similar to those            were tame and bold; they constantly attended the
of the common magpie. Their flight is undulatory,               country houses in numbers, to pick the meat which
for the weight of the head and bill appears too great           was hung up on the posts or walls: if any other small
for the body. In the evening the Saurophagus takes              bird joined the feast, the Calandria soon chased it
its stand on a bush, often by the roadside, and con-            away. On the wide uninhabited plains of Patagonia
tinually repeats without a change a shrill and rather           another closely allied species, O. Patagonica of
agreeable cry, which somewhat resembles articulate              d’Orbigny, which frequents the valleys clothed with
words: the Spaniards say it is like the words “Bien             spiny bushes, is a wilder bird, and has a slightly dif-
te veo” (I see you well), and accordingly have given            ferent tone of voice. It appears to me a curious cir-
it this name.                                                   cumstance, as showing the fine shades of difference
   A mocking-bird (Mimus orpheus), called by the                in habits, that judging from this latter respect alone,
inhabitants Calandria, is remarkable, from possess-             when I first saw this second species, I thought it was
ing a song far superior to that of any other bird in            different from the Maldonado kind. Having after-
the country: indeed, it is nearly the only bird in South        wards procured a specimen, and comparing the two

                                                           63
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
without particular care, they appeared so very simi-          and is far from unfrequent throughout the sterile
lar, that I changed my opinion; but now Mr. Gould             plains of Patagonia. In the desert between the rivers
says that they are certainly distinct; a conclusion in        Negro and Colorado, numbers constantly attend the
conformity with the trifling difference of habit, of          line of road to devour the carcasses of the exhausted
which, of course, he was not aware.                           animals which chance to perish from fatigue and
  The number, tameness, and disgusting habits of              thirst. Although thus common in these dry and open
the carrion-feeding hawks of South America make               countries, and likewise on the arid shores of the Pa-
them pre-eminently striking to any one accustomed             cific, it is nevertheless found inhabiting the damp
only to the birds of Northern Europe. In this list may        impervious forests of West Patagonia and Tierra del
be included four species of the Caracara or                   Fuego. The Carranchas, together with the Chimango,
Polyborus, the Turkey buzzard, the Gallinazo, and             constantly attend in numbers the estancias and
the Condor. The Caracaras are, from their structure,          slaughtering-houses. If an animal dies on the plain
placed among the eagles: we shall soon see how ill            the Gallinazo commences the feast, and then the two
they become so high a rank. In their habits they well         species of Polyborus pick the bones clean. These
supply the place of our carrion-crows, magpies, and           birds, although thus commonly feeding together, are
ravens; a tribe of birds widely distributed over the          far from being friends. When the Carrancha is qui-
rest of the world, but entirely absent in South               etly seated on the branch of a tree or on the ground,
America. To begin with the Polyborus Brasiliensis:            the Chimango often continues for a long time flying
this is a common bird, and has a wide geographical            backwards and forwards, up and down, in a semi-
range; it is most numerous on the grassy savannahs            circle, trying each time at the bottom of the curve to
of La Plata (where it goes by the name of Carrancha),         strike its larger relative. The Carrancha takes little

                                                         64
                                                Charles Darwin
notice, except by bobbing its head. Although the              them. If a party of men go out hunting with dogs
Carranchas frequently assemble in numbers, they are           and horses, they will be accompanied, during the
not gregarious; for in desert places they may be seen         day, by several of these attendants. After feeding,
solitary, or more commonly by pairs.                          the uncovered craw protrudes; at such times, and
  The Carranchas are said to be very crafty, and to           indeed generally, the Carrancha is an inactive, tame,
steal great numbers of eggs. They attempt, also, to-          and cowardly bird. Its flight is heavy and slow, like
gether with the Chimango, to pick off the scabs from          that of an English rook. It seldom soars; but I have
the sore backs of horses and mules. The poor ani-             twice seen one at a great height gliding through the
mal, on the one hand, with its ears down and its back         air with much ease. It runs (in contradistinction to
arched; and, on the other, the hovering bird, eyeing          hopping), but not quite so quickly as some of its con-
at the distance of a yard the disgusting morsel, form         geners. At times the Carrancha is noisy, but is not
a picture, which has been described by Captain Head           generally so: its cry is loud, very harsh and peculiar,
with his own peculiar spirit and accuracy. These false        and may be likened to the sound of the Spanish gut-
eagles most rarely kill any living bird or animal; and        tural g, followed by a rough double r r; when utter-
their vulture-like, necrophagous habits are very evi-         ing this cry it elevates its head higher and higher, till
dent to any one who has fallen asleep on the deso-            at last, with its beak wide open, the crown almost
late plains of Patagonia, for when he wakes, he will          touches the lower part of the back. This fact, which
see, on each surrounding hillock, one of these birds          has been doubted, is quite true; I have seen them
patiently watching him with an evil eye: it is a fea-         several times with their heads backwards in a com-
ture in the landscape of these countries, which will          pletely inverted position. To these observations I
be recognised by every one who has wandered over              may add, on the high authority of Azara, that the

                                                         65
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
Carrancha feeds on worms, shells, slugs, grasshop-              and on marine productions; and on the Ramirez
pers, and frogs; that it destroys young lambs by tear-          rocks their whole sustenance must depend on the
ing the umbilical cord; and that it pursues the                 sea. They are extraordinarily tame and fearless, and
Gallinazo, till that bird is compelled to vomit up the          haunt the neighborhood of houses for offal. If a hunt-
carrion it may have recently gorged. Lastly, Azara              ing party kills an animal, a number soon collect and
states that several Carranchas, five or six together,           patiently await, standing on the ground on all sides.
will unite in chase of large birds, even such as her-           After eating, their uncovered craws are largely pro-
ons. All these facts show that it is a bird of very ver-        truded, giving them a disgusting appearance. They
satile habits and considerable ingenuity.                       readily attack wounded birds: a cormorant in this
  The Polyborus Chimango is considerably smaller                state having taken to the shore, was immediately
than the last species. It is truly omnivorous, and will         seized on by several, and its death hastened by their
eat even bread; and I was assured that it materially            blows. The Beagle was at the Falklands only during
injures the potato crops in Chiloe, by stocking up              the summer, but the officers of the Adventure, who
the roots when first planted. Of all the carrion-feed-          were there in the winter, mention many extraordi-
ers it is generally the last which leaves the skeleton          nary instances of the boldness and rapacity of these
of a dead animal, and may often be seen within the              birds. They actually pounced on a dog that was ly-
ribs of a cow or horse, like a bird in a cage. Another          ing fast asleep close by one of the party; and the
species is the Polyborus Novae Zelandiae, which is              sportsmen had difficulty in preventing the wounded
exceedingly common in the Falkland Islands. These               geese from being seized before their eyes. It is said
birds in many respects resemble in their habits the             that several together (in this respect resembling the
Carranchas. They live on the flesh of dead animals              Carranchas) wait at the mouth of a rabbit-hole, and

                                                           66
                                                 Charles Darwin
together seize on the animal when it comes out. They           their heads upwards and backwards, after the same
were constantly flying on board the vessel when in             manner as the Carrancha. They build in the rocky
the harbour; and it was necessary to keep a good               cliffs of the sea-coast, but only on the small adjoin-
look out to prevent the leather being torn from the            ing islets, and not on the two main islands: this is a
rigging, and the meat or game from the stern. These            singular precaution in so tame and fearless a bird.
birds are very mischievous and inquisitive; they will          The sealers say that the flesh of these birds, when
pick up almost anything from the ground; a large               cooked, is quite white, and very good eating; but
black glazed hat was carried nearly a mile, as was a           bold must the man be who attempts such a meal.
pair of the heavy balls used in catching cattle. Mr.             We have now only to mention the turkey-buzzard
Usborne experienced during the survey a more se-               (Vultur aura), and the Gallinazo. The former is found
vere loss, in their stealing a small Kater’s compass           wherever the country is moderately damp, from
in a red morocco leather case, which was never re-             Cape Horn to North America. Differently from the
covered. These birds are, moreover, quarrelsome and            Polyborus Brasiliensis and Chimango, it has found
very passionate; tearing up the grass with their bills         its way to the Falkland Islands. The turkey-buzzard
from rage. They are not truly gregarious; they do              is a solitary bird, or at most goes in pairs. It may at
not soar, and their flight is heavy and clumsy; on the         once be recognised from a long distance, by its lofty,
ground they run extremely fast, very much like                 soaring, and most elegant flight. lt is well known to
pheasants. They are noisy, uttering several harsh              be a true carrion-feeder. On the west coast of
cries, one of which is like that of the English rook,          Patagonia, among the thickly-wooded islets and bro-
hence the sealers always call them rooks. It is a curi-        ken land, it lives exclusively on what the sea throws
ous circumstance that, when crying out, they throw             up, and on the carcasses of dead seals. Wherever

                                                          67
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
these animals are congregated on the rocks, there the            seem to have pleasure in society, and are not solely
vultures may be seen. The Gallinazo (Cathartes                   brought together by the attraction of a common prey.
atratus) has a different range from the last species,            On a fine day a flock may often be observed at a
as it never occurs southward of lat. 41 degs. Azara              great height, each bird wheeling round and round
states that there exists a tradition that these birds, at        without closing its wings, in the most graceful evo-
the time of the conquest, were not found near Monte              lutions. This is clearly performed for the mere plea-
Video, but that they subsequently followed the in-               sure of the exercise, or perhaps is connected with
habitants from more northern districts.At the present            their matrimonial alliances.
day they are numerous in the valley of the Colorado,               I have now mentioned all the carrion-feeders, ex-
which is three hundred miles due south of Monte                  cepting the condor, an account of which will be more
Video. It seems probable that this additional migra-             appropriately introduced when we visit a country
tion has happened since the time of Azara. The                   more congenial to its habits than the plains of La
Gallinazo generally prefers a humid climate, or                  Plata.
rather the neighbourhood of fresh water; hence it is
extremely abundant in Brazil and La Plata, while it                In a broad band of sand-hillocks which separate
is never found on the desert and arid plains of North-           the Laguna del Potrero from the shores of the Plata,
ern Patagonia, excepting near some stream. These                 at the distance of a few miles from Maldonado, I
birds frequent the whole Pampas to the foot of the               found a group of those vitrified, siliceous tubes,
Cordillera, but I never saw or heard of one in Chile;            which are formed by lightning entering loose sand.
in Peru they are preserved as scavengers. These vul-             These tubes resemble in every particular those from
tures certainly may be called gregarious, for they               Drigg in Cumberland, described in the Geological

                                                            68
                                                      Charles Darwin
Transactions.* The sand-hillocks of Maldonado not               microscope appeared, from the number of minute
being protected by vegetation, are constantly chang-            entangled air or perhaps steam bubbles, like an as-
ing their position. From this cause the tubes projected         say fused before the blowpipe. The sand is entirely,
above the surface, and numerous fragments lying                 or in greater part, siliceous; but some points are of a
near, showed that they had formerly been buried to              black colour, and from their glossy surface possess
a greater depth. Four sets entered the sand perpen-             a metallic lustre. The thickness of the wall of the tube
dicularly: by working with my hands I traced one of             varies from a thirtieth to a twentieth of an inch, and
them two feet deep; and some fragments which evi-               occasionally even equals a tenth. On the outside the
dently had belonged to the same tube, when added                grains of sand are rounded, and have a slightly
to the other part, measured five feet three inches. The         glazed appearance: I could not distinguish any signs
diameter of the whole tube was nearly equal, and                of crystallization. In a similar manner to that de-
therefore we must suppose that originally it ex-                scribed in the Geological Transactions, the tubes are
tended to a much greater depth. These dimensions                generally compressed, and have deep longitudinal
are however small, compared to those of the tubes               furrows, so as closely to resemble a shrivelled veg-
from Drigg, one of which was traced to a depth of               etable stalk, or the bark of the elm or cork tree. Their
not less than thirty feet.                                      circumference is about two inches, but in some frag-
  The internal surface is completely vitrified, glossy,         ments, which are cylindrical and without any fur-
and smooth. A small fragment examined under the                 rows, it is as much as four inches. The compression
*Geolog. Transact. vol. ii. p. 528. In the Philosoph. Trans-    from the surrounding loose sand, acting while the
act. (1790, p. 294) Dr. Priestly has described some imper-
                                                                tube was still softened from the effects of the intense
fect siliceous tubes and a melted pebble of quartz, found
in digging into the ground, under a tree, where a man had       heat, has evidently caused the creases or furrows.
been killed by lightning.
                                                           69
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
Judging from the uncompressed fragments, the mea-                  The tubes, as I have already remarked, enter the
sure or bore of the lightning (if such a term may be             sand nearly in a vertical direction. One, however,
used) must have been about one inch and a quarter.               which was less regular than the others, deviated from
At Paris, M. Hachette and M. Beudant* succeeded in               a right line, at the most considerable bend, to the
making tubes, in most respects similar to these fulgu-           amount of thirty-three degrees. From this same tube,
rites, by passing very strong shocks of galvanism                two small branches, about a foot apart, were sent off;
through finely-powdered glass: when salt was                     one pointed downwards, and the other upwards.
added, so as to increase its fusibility, the tubes were          This latter case is remarkable, as the electric fluid
larger in every dimension, They failed both with                 must have turned back at the acute angle of 26 degs.,
powdered felspar and quartz. One tube, formed with               to the line of its main course. Besides the four tubes
pounded glass, was very nearly an inch long, namely              which I found vertical, and traced beneath the sur-
.982, and had an internal diameter of .019 of an inch.           face, there were several other groups of fragments,
When we hear that the strongest battery in Paris was
                                                                 the original sites of which without doubt were near.
used, and that its power on a substance of such easy
                                                                 All occurred in a level area of shifting sand, sixty
fusibility as glass was to form tubes so diminutive,
                                                                 yards by twenty, situated among some high sand-
we must feel greatly astonished at the force of a shock
                                                                 hillocks, and at the distance of about half a mile from
of lightning, which, striking the sand in several places,
                                                                 a chain of hills four or five hundred feet in height.
has formed cylinders, in one instance of at least thirty
                                                                 The most remarkable circumstance, as it appears to
feet long, and having an internal bore, where not com-
                                                                 me, in this case as well as in that of Drigg, and in one
pressed, of full an inch and a half; and this in a mate-
                                                                 described by M. Ribbentrop in Germany, is the num-
rial so extraordinarily refractory as quartz!
                                                                 ber of tubes found within such limited spaces. At
*Annals de Chimie et de Physique, tom. xxxvii. p. 319.

                                                            70
                                                   Charles Darwin
Drigg, within an area of fifteen yards, three were               equilibrium? Even during our occasional visits to
observed, and the same number occurred in Ger-                   this part of South America, we heard of a ship, two
many. In the case which I have described, certainly              churches, and a house having been struck. Both the
more than four existed within the space of the sixty             church and the house I saw shortly afterwards: the
by twenty yards. As it does not appear probable that             house belonged to Mr. Hood, the consul-general at
the tubes are produced by successive distinct shocks,            Monte Video. Some of the effects were curious: the
we must believe that the lightning, shortly before               paper, for nearly a foot on each side of the line where
entering the ground, divides itself into separate                the bell-wires had run, was blackened. The metal had
branches.                                                        been fused, and although the room was about fif-
                                                                 teen feet high, the globules, dropping on the chairs
  The neighbourhood of the Rio Plata seems pecu-                 and furniture, had drilled in them a chain of minute
liarly subject to electric phenomena. In the year 1793,          holes. A part of the wall was shattered, as if by gun-
*one of the most destructive thunderstorms perhaps               powder, and the fragments had been blown off with
on record happened at Buenos Ayres: thirty-seven                 force sufficient to dent the wall on the opposite side
places within the city were struck by lightning, and             of the room. The frame of a looking-glass was black-
nineteen people killed. From facts stated in several             ened, and the gilding must have been volatilized,
books of travels, I am inclined to suspect that thun-            for a smelling-bottle, which stood on the chimney-
derstorms are very common near the mouths of great               piece, was coated with bright metallic particles,
rivers. Is it not possible that the mixture of large bod-        which adhered as firmly as if they had been enam-
ies of fresh and salt water may disturb the electrical           elled.

*Azara’s Voyage, vol. i. p. 36.

                                                            71
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
                                                               most southern position (lat. 41 degs.) on this eastern
        CHAPTER IV                                             coast of America inhabited by civilized man.
                                                                 The country near the mouth of the river is wretched
       RIO NEGRO TO BAHIA                                      in the extreme: on the south side a long line of per-
                                                               pendicular cliffs commences, which exposes a section
             BLANCA
                                                               of the geological nature of the country. The strata are
                                                               of sandstone, and one layer was remarkable from be-
  Rio Negro—Estancias attacked by the Indians—
                                                               ing composed of a firmly-cemented conglomerate of
Salt-Lakes—Flamingoes—R. Negro to R. Colorado
                                                               pumice pebbles, which must have travelled more than
—Sacred Tree—Patagonian Hare—Indian Families
                                                               four hundred miles, from the Andes. The surface is
—General Rosas—Proceed to Bahia Blanca—Sand
                                                               everywhere covered up by a thick bed of gravel, which
Dunes—Negro Lieutenant—Bahia Blanca—Saline
                                                               extends far and wide over the open plain. Water is
Incrustations—Punta Alta—Zorillo.
                                                               extremely scarce, and, where found, is almost invari-
                                                               ably brackish. The vegetation is scanty; and although
  JULY 24th, 1833.—The Beagle sailed from
                                                               there are bushes of many kinds, all are armed with
Maldonado, and on August the 3rd she arrived off
                                                               formidable thorns, which seem to warn the stranger
the mouth of the Rio Negro. This is the principal river
                                                               not to enter on these inhospitable regions.
on the whole line of coast between the Strait of
                                                                 The settlement is situated eighteen miles up the
Magellan and the Plata. It enters the sea about three
                                                               river. The road follows the foot of the sloping cliff,
hundred miles south of the estuary of the Plata. About
                                                               which forms the northern boundary of the great val-
fifty years ago, under the old Spanish government, a
                                                               ley, in which the Rio Negro flows. On the way we
small colony was established here; and it is still the

                                                          72
                                                      Charles Darwin
passed the ruins of some fine “estancias,” which a              result of their entrance under any circumstances, the
few years since had been destroyed by the Indians.              answer was given by a volley of musketry. The Indi-
They withstood several attacks. A man present at one            ans, with great steadiness, came to the very fence of
gave me a very lively description of what took place.           the corral: but to their surprise they found the posts
The inhabitants had sufficient notice to drive all the          fastened together by iron nails instead of leather
cattle and horses into the “corral”* which surrounded           thongs, and, of course, in vain attempted to cut them
the house, and likewise to mount some small can-                with their knives. This saved the lives of the Chris-
non. The Indians were Araucanians from the south                tians: many of the wounded Indians were carried
of Chile; several hundreds in number, and highly                away by their companions, and at last, one of the
disciplined. They first appeared in two bodies on a             under caciques being wounded, the bugle sounded
neighbouring hill; having there dismounted, and                 a retreat. They retired to their horses, and seemed to
taken off their fur mantles, they advanced naked to             hold a council of war. This was an awful pause for
the charge. The only weapon of an Indian is a very              the Spaniards, as all their ammunition, with the ex-
long bamboo or chuzo, ornamented with ostrich                   ception of a few cartridges, was expended. In an in-
feathers, and pointed by a sharp spearhead. My in-              stant the Indians mounted their horses, and galloped
former seemed to remember with the greatest hor-                out of sight. Another attack was still more quickly
ror the quivering of these chuzos as they approached            repulsed. A cool Frenchman managed the gun; he
near. When close, the cacique Pincheira hailed the              stopped till the Indians approached close, and then
besieged to give up their arms, or he would cut all             raked their line with grape-shot: he thus laid thirty-
their throats. As this would probably have been the             nine of them on the ground; and, of course, such a
* The corral is an enclosure made of tall and strong stakes.    blow immediately routed the whole party.
Every estancia, or farming estate, has one attached to it.
                                                           73
                                               The Voyage of the Beagle
  The town is indifferently called El Carmen or                   of ferocity, is almost counterbalanced by their entire
Patagones. It is built on the face of a cliff which fronts        immorality. Some of the younger men are, however,
the river, and many of the houses are excavated even              improving; they are willing to labour, and a short time
in the sandstone. The river is about two or three hun-            since a party went on a sealing-voyage, and behaved
dred yards wide, and is deep and rapid. The many                  very well. They were now enjoying the fruits of their
islands, with their willow-trees, and the flat head-              labour, by being dressed in very gay, clean clothes,
lands, seen one behind the other on the northern                  and by being very idle. The taste they showed in their
boundary of the broad green valley, form, by the aid              dress was admirable; if you could have turned one of
of a bright sun, a view almost picturesque. The num-              these young Indians into a statue of bronze, his drap-
ber of inhabitants does not exceed a few hundreds.                ery would have been perfectly graceful.
These Spanish colonies do not, like our British ones,               One day I rode to a large salt-lake, or Salina, which
carry within themselves the elements of growth.                   is distant fifteen miles from the town. During the
Many Indians of pure blood reside here: the tribe of              winter it consists of a shallow lake of brine, which in
the Cacique Lucanee constantly have their Toldos*                 summer is converted into a field of snow-white salt.
on the outskirts of the town. The local government                The layer near the margin is from four to five inches
partly supplies them with provisions, by giving them              thick, but towards the centre its thickness increases.
all the old worn-out horses, and they earn a little by            This lake was two and a half miles long, and one
making horse-rugs and other articles of riding-gear.              broad. Others occur in the neighbourhood many
These Indians are considered civilized; but what                  times larger, and with a floor of salt, two and three
their character may have gained by a lesser degree                feet in thickness, even when under water during the
                                                                  winter. One of these brilliantly white and level ex-
*The hovels of the Indians are thus called.

                                                             74
                                                  Charles Darwin
panses in the midst of the brown and desolate plain,            able cause for this inferiority: a conclusion which no
offers an extraordinary spectacle. A large quantity             one, I think, would have suspected, but which is
of salt is annually drawn from the salina: and great            supported by the fact lately ascertained,* that those
piles, some hundred tons in weight, were lying ready            salts answer best for preserving cheese which con-
for exportation. The season for working the salinas             tain most of the deliquescent chlorides.
forms the harvest of Patagones; for on it the prosper-            The border of this lake is formed of mud: and in
ity of the place depends. Nearly the whole popula-              this numerous large crystals of gypsum, some of
tion encamps on the bank of the river, and the people           which are three inches long, lie embedded; whilst
are employed in drawing out the salt in bullock-                on the surface others of sulphate of soda lie scattered
waggons, This salt is crystallized in great cubes, and          about. The Gauchos call the former the “Padre del
is remarkably pure: Mr. Trenham Reeks has kindly                sal,” and the latter the “Madre;” they state that these
analyzed some for me, and he finds in it only 0.26 of           progenitive salts always occur on the borders of the
gypsum and 0.22 of earthy matter. It is a singular              salinas, when the water begins to evaporate. The
fact, that it does not serve so well for preserving meat        mud is black, and has a fetid odour. I could not at
as sea-salt from the Cape de Verd islands; and a                first imagine the cause of this, but I afterwards per-
merchant at Buenos Ayres told me that he consid-                ceived that the froth which the wind drifted on shore
ered it as fifty per cent. less valuable. Hence the Cape        was coloured green, as if by confervae; I attempted
de Verd salt is constantly imported, and is mixed               to carry home some of this green matter, but from an
with that from these salinas. The purity of the                 accident failed. Parts of the lake seen from a short
Patagonian salt, or absence from it of those other sa-          distance appeared of a reddish colour, and this per-
line bodies found in all sea-water, is the only assign-         *Report of the Agricult. Chem. Assoc. in the Agricult. Ga-
                                                                zette, 1845, p. 93.
                                                           75
                                                The Voyage of the Beagle
haps was owing to some infusorial animalcula. The                  in countless numbers in the brine-pans at Lymington:
mud in many places was thrown up by numbers of                     but only in those in which the fluid has attained, from
some kind of worm, or annelidous animal. How sur-                  evaporation, considerable strength — namely, about
prising it is that any creatures should be able to ex-             a quarter of a pound of salt to a pint of water. Well
ist in brine, and that they should be crawling among               may we affirm that every part of the world is habit-
crystals of sulphate of soda and lime! And what be-                able! Whether lakes of brine, or those subterranean
comes of these worms when, during the long sum-                    ones hidden beneath volcanic mountains — warm
mer, the surface is hardened into a solid layer of salt?           mineral springs — the wide expanse and depths of
Flamingoes in considerable numbers inhabit this                    the ocean — the upper regions of the atmosphere,
lake, and breed here, throughout Patagonia, in                     and even the surface of perpetual snow — all sup-
Northern Chile, and at the Galapagos Islands, I met                port organic beings.
with these birds wherever there were lakes of brine.
I saw them here wading about in search of food—                     To the northward of the Rio Negro, between it and
probably for the worms which burrow in the mud;
                                                                   depressions in the plains; in both the mud on the borders
and these latter probably feed on infusoria or                     is black and fetid; beneath the crust of common salt, sul-
confervae. Thus we have a little living world within               phate of soda or of magnesium occurs, imperfectly crys-
itself adapted to these inland lakes of brine. A minute            tallized; and in both, the muddy sand is mixed with lentils
                                                                   of gypsum. The Siberian salt-lakes are inhabited by small
crustaceous animal (Cancer salinus) is said* to live               crustaceous animals; and flamingoes (Edin. New Philos.
*Linnaean Trans,. vol. xi. p. 205. It is remarkable how all        Jour., Jan 1830) likewise frequent them. As these circum-
the circumstances connected with the salt-lakes in Sibe-           stances, apparently so trifling, occur in two distant conti-
ria and Patagonia are similar. Siberia, like Patagonia, ap-        nents, we may feel sure that they are the necessary re-
pears to have been recently elevated above the waters of           sults of a common cause — See Pallas’s Travels, 1793 to
the sea. In both countries the salt-lakes occupy shallow           1794, pp. 129 - 134.
                                                              76
                                                Charles Darwin
the inhabited country near Buenos Ayres, the Span-              August 11th. — Mr. Harris, an Englishman resid-
iards have only one small settlement, recently es-            ing at Patagones, a guide, and five Gauchos who
tablished at Bahia Blanca. The distance in a straight         were proceeding to the army on business, were my
line to Buenos Ayres is very nearly five hundred              companions on the journey. The Colorado, as I have
British miles. The wandering tribes of horse Indians,         already said, is nearly eighty miles distant: and as
which have always occupied the greater part of this           we travelled slowly, we were two days and a half on
country, having of late much harassed the outlying            the road. The whole line of country deserves scarcely
estancias, the government at Buenos Ayres equipped
                                                              a better name than that of a desert. Water is found
some time since an army under the command of
                                                              only in two small wells; it is called fresh; but even at
General Rosas for the purpose of exterminating them.
                                                              this time of the year, during the rainy season, it was
The troops were now encamped on the banks of the
                                                              quite brackish. In the summer this must be a dis-
Colorado; a river lying about eighty miles northward
                                                              tressing passage; for now it was sufficiently deso-
of the Rio Negro When General Rosas left Buenos
                                                              late. The valley of the Rio Negro, broad as it is, has
Ayres he struck in a direct line across the unexplored
                                                              merely been excavated out of the sandstone plain;
plains: and as the country was thus pretty well
cleared of Indians, he left behind him, at wide inter-        for immediately above the bank on which the town
vals, a small party of soldiers with a troop of horses        stands, a level country commences, which is inter-
(a posta), so as to be enabled to keep up a communi-          rupted only by a few trifling valleys and depressions.
cation with the capital. As the Beagle intended to            Everywhere the landscape wears the same sterile
call at Bahia Blanca, I determined to proceed there           aspect; a dry gravelly soil supports tufts of brown
by land; and ultimately I extended my plan to travel          withered grass, and low scattered bushes, armed
the whole way by the postas to Buenos Ayres.                  with thorns.

                                                         77
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
  Shortly after passing the first spring we came in             bleached bones of horses which had been slaugh-
sight of a famous tree, which the Indians reverence             tered as sacrifices. All Indians of every age and sex
as the altar of Walleechu. It is situated on a high part        make their offerings; they then think that their horses
of the plain; and hence is a landmark visible at a great        will not tire, and that they themselves shall be pros-
distance. As soon as a tribe of Indians come in sight           perous. The Gaucho who told me this, said that in
of it, they offer their adorations by loud shouts. The          the time of peace he had witnessed this scene, and
tree itself is low, much branched, and thorny: just             that he and others used to wait till the Indians had
above the root it has a diameter of about three feet. It        passed by, for the sake of stealing from Walleechu
stands by itself without any neighbour, and was in-             the offerings.
deed the first tree we saw; afterwards we met with a              The Gauchos think that the Indians consider the
few others of the same kind, but they were far from             tree as the god itself, but it seems for more probable
common. Being winter the tree had no leaves, but in             that they regard it as the altar. The only cause which
their place numberless threads, by which the vari-              I can imagine for this choice, is its being a landmark
ous offerings, such as cigars, bread, meat, pieces of           in a dangerous passage. The Sierra de la Ventana is
cloth, etc., had been suspended. Poor Indians, not              visible at an immense distance; and a Gaucho told
having anything better, only pull a thread out of their         me that he was once riding with an Indian a few miles
ponchos, and fasten it to the tree. Richer Indians are          to the north of the Rio Colorado when the Indian
accustomed to pour spirits and mate into a certain              commenced making the same loud noise which is
hole, and likewise to smoke upwards, thinking thus              usual at the first sight of the distant tree, putting his
to afford all possible gratification to Walleechu. To           hand to his head, and then pointing in the direction
complete the scene, the tree was surrounded by the              of the Sierra. Upon being asked the reason of this,

                                                           78
                                                 Charles Darwin
the Indian said in broken Spanish, “First see the Si-          above described. It is inhabited by few birds or ani-
erra.” About two leagues beyond this curious tree              mals of any kind. Occasionally a deer, or a Guanaco
we halted for the night: at this instant an unfortunate        (wild Llama) may be seen; but the Agouti (Cavia
cow was spied by the lynx-eyed Gauchos, who set                Patagonica) is the commonest quadruped. This ani-
off in full chase, and in a few minutes dragged her in         mal here represents our hares. It differs, however,
with their lazos, and slaughtered her. We here had             from that genus in many essential respects; for in-
the four necessaries of life “en el campo,” — pasture          stance, it has only three toes behind. It is also nearly
for the horses, water (only a muddy puddle), meat              twice the size, weighing from twenty to twenty-five
and firewood. The Gauchos were in high spirits at              pounds. The Agouti is a true friend of the desert; it
finding all these luxuries; and we soon set to work            is a common feature of the landscape to see two or
at the poor cow. This was the first night which I              three hopping quickly one after the other in a straight
passed under the open sky, with the gear of the                line across these wild plains. They are found as far
recado for my bed. There is high enjoyment in the              north as the Sierra Tapalguen (lat. 37 degs. 30'), where
independence of the Gaucho life — to be able at any            the plain rather suddenly becomes greener and more
moment to pull up your horse, and say, “Here we                humid; and their southern limit is between Port De-
will pass the night.” The death-like stillness of the          sire and St. Julian, where there is no change in the
plain, the dogs keeping watch, the gipsy-group of              nature of the country. It is a singular fact, that al-
Gauchos making their beds round the fire, have left            though the Agouti is not now found as far south as
in my mind a strongly-marked picture of this first             Port St. Julian, yet that Captain Wood, in his voyage
night, which will never be forgotten.                          in 1670, talks of them as being numerous there. What
  The next day the country continued similar to that           cause can have altered, in a wide, uninhabited, and

                                                          79
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
rarely-visited country, the range of an animal like             plants, of the same kind with those growing on the
this? It appears also, from the number shot by Cap-             sea-shore. The Colorado, at the pass where we
tain Wood in one day at Port Desire, that they must             crossed it, is only about sixty yards wide; generally
have been considerably more abundant there for-                 it must be nearly double that width. Its course is very
merly than at present. Where the Bizcacha lives and             tortuous, being marked by willow-trees and beds of
makes its burrows, the Agouti uses them; but where,             reeds: in a direct line the distance to the mouth of
as at Bahia Blanca, the Bizcacha is not found, the              the river is said to be nine leagues, but by water
Agouti burrows for itself. The same thing occurs with           twenty-five. We were delayed crossing in the canoe
the little owl of the Pampas (Athene cunicularia),              by some immense troops of mares, which were
which has so often been described as standing like a            swimming the river in order to follow a division of
sentinel at the mouth of the burrows; for in Banda              troops into the interior. A more ludicrous spectacle
Oriental, owing to the absence of the Bizcacha, it is           I never beheld than the hundreds and hundreds of
obliged to hollow out its own habitation.                       heads, all directed one way, with pointed ears and
  The next morning, as we approached the Rio Colo-              distended snorting nostrils, appearing just above the
rado, the appearance of the country changed; we                 water like a great shoal of some amphibious animal.
soon came on a plain covered with turf, which, from             Mare’s flesh is the only food which the soldiers have
its flowers, tall clover, and little owls, resembled the        when on an expedition. This gives them a great fa-
Pampas. We passed also a muddy swamp of con-                    cility of movement; for the distance to which horses
siderable extent, which in summer dries, and be-                can be driven over these plains is quite surprising: I
comes incrusted with various salts; and hence is                have been assured that an unloaded horse can travel
called a salitral. It was covered by low succulent              a hundred miles a day for many days successively.

                                                           80
                                                    Charles Darwin
  The encampment of General Rosas was close to the              We stayed two days at the Colorado; I had little to
river. It consisted of a square formed by waggons,            do, for the surrounding country was a swamp, which
artillery, straw huts, etc. The soldiers were nearly          in summer (December), when the snow melts on the
all cavalry; and I should think such a villainous,            Cordillera, is over-flowed by the river. My chief
banditti-like army was never before collected to-             amusement was watching the Indian families as they
gether. The greater number of men were of a mixed             came to buy little articles at the rancho where we
breed, between Negro, Indian, and Spaniard. I know            stayed. It was supposed that General Rosas had
not the reason, but men of such origin seldom have            about six hundred Indian allies. The men were a tall,
a good expression of countenance. I called on the             fine race, yet it was afterwards easy to see in the
Secretary to show my passport. He began to cross-             Fuegian savage the same countenance rendered hid-
question me in the most dignified and mysterious              eous by cold, want of food, and less civilization.
manner. By good luck I had a letter of recommenda-            Some authors, in defining the primary races of man-
tion from the government of Buenos Ayres* to the              kind, have separated these Indians into two classes;
commandant of Patagones. This was taken to Gen-               but this is certainly incorrect. Among the young
eral Rosas, who sent me a very obliging message;              women or chinas, some deserve to be called even
and the Secretary returned all smiles and gracious-           beautiful. Their hair was coarse, but bright and black;
ness. We took up our residence in the rancho, or              and they wore it in two plaits hanging down to the
hovel, of a curious old Spaniard, who had served              waist. They had a high colour, and eyes that glis-
with Napoleon in the expedition against Russia.               tened with brilliancy; their legs, feet, and arms were
*I am bound to express in the strongest terms, my obliga-     small and elegantly formed; their ankles, and some-
tion to the government of Buenos Ayres for the obliging
manner in which passports to all parts of the country were    times their wrists, were ornamented by broad brace-
given me, as naturalist of the Beagle.
                                                         81
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
lets of blue beads. Nothing could be more interest-             round is the labour of two days, the manufacture of
ing than some of the family groups. A mother with               the balls is a very common employment. Several of
one or two daughters would often come to our                    the men and women had their faces painted red, but
rancho, mounted on the same horse. They ride like               I never saw the horizontal bands which are so com-
men, but with their knees tucked up much higher.                mon among the Fuegians. Their chief pride consists
This habit, perhaps, arises from their being accus-             in having everything made of silver; I have seen a
tomed, when travelling, to ride the loaded horses.              cacique with his spurs, stirrups, handle of his knife,
The duty of the women is to load and unload the                 and bridle made of this metal: the head-stall and reins
horses; to make the tents for the night; in short to be,        being of wire, were not thicker than whipcord; and
like the wives of all savages, useful slaves. The men           to see a fiery steed wheeling about under the com-
fight, hunt, take care of the horses, and make the              mand of so light a chain, gave to the horsemanship a
riding gear. One of their chief indoor occupations is           remarkable character of elegance.
to knock two stones together till they become round,              General Rosas intimated a wish to see me; a cir-
in order to make the bolas. With this important                 cumstance which I was afterwards very glad of. He
weapon the Indian catches his game, and also his                is a man of an extraordinary character, and has a most
horse, which roams free over the plain. In fighting,            predominant influence in the country, which it seems
his first attempt is to throw down the horse of his             he will use to its prosperity and advancement.* He
adversary with the bolas, and when entangled by                 is said to be the owner of seventy-four square leagues
the fall to kill him with the chuzo. If the balls only          of land, and to have about three hundred thousand
catch the neck or body of an animal, they are often             head of cattle. His estates are admirably managed,
carried away and lost. As the making the stones                 *This prophecy has turned out entirely and miserably
                                                                wrong. 1845.
                                                           82
                                                Charles Darwin
and are far more productive of corn than those of             done, than he turned to the steward and said, “You
others. He first gained his celebrity by his laws for         now have broken the laws, so you must take my
his own estancias, and by disciplining several hun-           place in the stocks.” Such actions as these delighted
dred men, so as to resist with success the attacks of         the Gauchos, who all possess high notions of their
the Indians. There are many stories current about the         own equality and dignity.
rigid manner in which his laws were enforced. One               General Rosas is also a perfect horseman — an ac-
of these was, that no man, on penalty of being put            complishment of no small consequence In a country
into the stocks, should carry his knife on a Sunday:          where an assembled army elected its general by the
this being the principal day for gambling and drink-          following trial: A troop of unbroken horses being
ing, many quarrels arose, which from the general              driven into a corral, were let out through a gateway,
manner of fighting with the knife often proved fatal.         above which was a cross-bar: it was agreed whoever
One Sunday the Governor came in great form to pay             should drop from the bar on one of these wild ani-
the estancia a visit, and General Rosas, in his hurry,        mals, as it rushed out, and should be able, without
walked out to receive him with his knife, as usual,           saddle or bridle, not only to ride it, but also to bring
stuck in his belt. The steward touched his arm, and           it back to the door of the corral, should be their gen-
reminded him of the law; upon which turning to the            eral. The person who succeeded was accordingly
Governor, he said he was extremely sorry, but that            elected; and doubtless made a fit general for such
he must go into the stocks, and that till let out, he         an army. This extraordinary feat has also been per-
possessed no power even in his own house. After a             formed by Rosas.
little time the steward was persuaded to open the                By these means, and by conforming to the dress and
stocks, and to let him out, but no sooner was this            habits of the Gauchos, he has obtained an unbounded

                                                         83
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
popularity in the country, and in consequence a des-            laughs he spares neither mad man nor sound.” The
potic power. I was assured by an English merchant,              poor flighty gentleman looked quite dolorous, at the
that a man who had murdered another, when arrested              very recollection of the staking. This is a very severe
and questioned concerning his motive, answered, “He             punishment; four posts are driven into the ground,
spoke disrespectfully of General Rosas, so I killed             and the man is extended by his arms and legs hori-
him.” At the end of a week the murderer was at lib-             zontally, and there left to stretch for several hours.
erty. This doubtless was the act of the general’s party,        The idea is evidently taken from the usual method
and not of the general himself.                                 of drying hides. My interview passed away, with-
  In conversation he is enthusiastic, sensible, and             out a smile, and I obtained a passport and order for
very grave. His gravity is carried to a high pitch: I           the government post-horses, and this he gave me in
heard one of his mad buffoons (for he keeps two,                the most obliging and ready manner.
like the barons of old) relate the following anecdote.            In the morning we started for Bahia Blanca, which
“I wanted very much to hear a certain piece of mu-              we reached in two days. Leaving the regular encamp-
sic, so I went to the general two or three times to ask         ment, we passed by the toldos of the Indians. These
him; he said to me, ‘Go about your business, for I              are round like ovens, and covered with hides; by
am engaged.’ I went a second time; he said, ‘If you             the mouth of each, a tapering chuzo was stuck in the
come again I will punish you.’ A third time I asked,            ground. The toldos were divided into separate
and he laughed. I rushed out of the tent, but it was            groups, which belong to the different caciques’ tribes,
too late — he ordered two soldiers to catch and stake           and the groups were again divided into smaller ones,
me. I begged by all the saints in heaven he would let           according to the relationship of the owners. For sev-
me off; but it would not do, — when the general                 eral miles we travelled along the valley of the Colo-

                                                           84
                                                 Charles Darwin
rado. The alluvial plains on the side appeared fer-            come exceedingly small, and here the characteristic
tile, and it is supposed that they are well adapted to         vegetation of Patagonia ceases.
the growth of corn. Turning northward from the river,            Having ridden about twenty-five miles, we came
we soon entered on a country, differing from the               to a broad belt of sand-dunes, which stretches, as far
plains south of the river. The land still continued            as the eye can reach, to the east and west. The sand-
dry and sterile: but it supported many different kinds         hillocks resting on the clay, allow small pools of
of plants, and the grass, though brown and withered,           water to collect, and thus afford in this dry country
was more abundant, as the thorny bushes were less              an invaluable supply of fresh water. The great ad-
so. These latter in a short space entirely disappeared,        vantage arising from depressions and elevations of
and the plains were left without a thicket to cover            the soil, is not often brought home to the mind. The
their nakedness. This change in the vegetation marks           two miserable springs in the long passage between
the commencement of the grand calcareo argilla-                the Rio Negro and Colorado were caused by trifling
ceous deposit, which forms the wide extent of the              inequalities in the plain, without them not a drop of
Pampas, and covers the granitic rocks of Banda Ori-            water would have been found. The belt of sand-
ental. From the Strait of Magellan to the Colorado, a          dunes is about eight miles wide; at some former
distance of about eight hundred miles, the face of             period, it probably formed the margin of a grand es-
the country is everywhere composed of shingle: the             tuary, where the Colorado now flows. In this district,
pebbles are chiefly of porphyry, and probably owe              where absolute proofs of the recent elevation of the
their origin to the rocks of the Cordillera. North of          land occur, such speculations can hardly be neglected
the Colorado this bed thins out, and the pebbles be-           by any one, although merely considering the physi-
                                                               cal geography of the country. Having crossed the

                                                          85
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
sandy tract, we arrived in the evening at one of the             painful to see that he would not sit down and eat
post-houses; and, as the fresh horses were grazing at            with us.
a distance we determined to pass the night there.                  In the morning we sent for the horses very early,
  The house was situated at the base of a ridge be-              and started for another exhilarating gallop. We
tween one and two hundred feet high — a most re-                 passed the Cabeza del Buey, an old name given to
markable feature in this country. This posta was com-            the head of a large marsh, which extends from Bahia
manded by a negro lieutenant, born in Africa: to his             Blanca. Here we changed horses, and passed through
credit be it said, there was not a ranche between the            some leagues of swamps and saline marshes. Chang-
Colorado and Buenos Ayres in nearly such neat or-                ing horses for the last time, we again began wading
der as his. He had a little room for strangers, and a            through the mud. My animal fell and I was well
small corral for the horses, all made of sticks and              soused in black mire — a very disagreeable accident
reeds; he had also dug a ditch round his house as a              when one does not possess a change of clothes. Some
defence in case of being attacked. This would, how-              miles from the fort we met a man, who told us that a
ever, have been of little avail, if the Indians had come;        great gun had been fired, which is a signal that Indi-
but his chief comfort seemed to rest in the thought              ans are near. We immediately left the road, and fol-
of selling his life dearly. A short time before, a body          lowed the edge of a marsh, which when chased of-
of Indians had travelled past in the night; if they had          fers the best mode of escape. We were glad to arrive
been aware of the posta, our black friend and his                within the walls, when we found all the alarm was
four soldiers would assuredly have been slaugh-                  about nothing, for the Indians turned out to be
tered. I did not anywhere meet a more civil and oblig-           friendly ones, who wished to join General Rosas.
ing man than this negro; it was therefore the more                 Bahia Blanca scarcely deserves the name of a vil-

                                                            86
                                                 Charles Darwin
lage. A few houses and the barracks for the troops             only where salt abounds. Bad as the country was,
are enclosed by a deep ditch and fortified wall. The           ostriches, deer, agoutis, and armadilloes, were abun-
settlement is only of recent standing (since 1828); and        dant. My guide told me, that two months before he
its growth has been one of trouble. The government             had a most narrow escape of his life: he was out hunt-
of Buenos Ayres unjustly occupied it by force, in-             ing with two other men, at no great distance from
stead of following the wise example of the Spanish             this part of the country, when they were suddenly
Viceroys, who purchased the land near the older                met by a party of Indians, who giving chase, soon
settlement of the Rio Negro, from the Indians. Hence           overtook and killed his two friends. His own horse’s
the need of the fortifications; hence the few houses           legs were also caught by the bolas, but he jumped
and little cultivated land without the limits of the           off, and with his knife cut them free: while doing
walls; even the cattle are not safe from the attacks of        this he was obliged to dodge round his horse, and
the Indians beyond the boundaries of the plain, on             received two severe wounds from their chuzos.
which the fortress stands.                                     Springing on the saddle, he managed, by a most
   The part of the harbour where the Beagle intended           wonderful exertion, just to keep ahead of the long
to anchor being distant twenty-five miles, I obtained          spears of his pursuers, who followed him to within
from the Commandant a guide and horses, to take                sight of the fort. From that time there was an order
me to see whether she had arrived. Leaving the plain           that no one should stray far from the settlement. I
of green turf, which extended along the course of a            did not know of this when I started, and was sur-
little brook, we soon entered on a wide level waste            prised to observe how earnestly my guide watched
consisting either of sand, saline marshes, or bare             a deer, which appeared to have been frightened from
mud. Some parts were clothed by low thickets, and              a distant quarter.
others with those succulent plants, which luxuriate              We found the Beagle had not arrived, and conse-
                                                          87
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
quently set out on our return, but the horses soon            dered me very weak. How people survive two or
tiring, we were obliged to bivouac on the plain. In           three days under such circumstances, I cannot imag-
the morning we had caught an armadillo, which al-             ine: at the same time, I must confess that my guide
though a most excellent dish when roasted in its              did not suffer at all, and was astonished that one
shell, did not make a very substantial breakfast and          day’s deprivation should be so troublesome to me.
dinner for two hungry men. The ground at the place              I have several times alluded to the surface of the
where we stopped for the night, was incrusted with            ground being incrusted with salt. This phenomenon
a layer of sulphate of soda, and hence, of course, was        is quite different from that of the salinas, and more
without water. Yet many of the smaller rodents man-           extraordinary. In many parts of South America, wher-
aged to exist even here, and the tucutuco was mak-            ever the climate is moderately dry, these incrusta-
ing its odd little grunt beneath my head, during half         tions occur; but I have nowhere seen them so abun-
the night. Our horses were very poor ones, and in             dant as near Bahia Blanca. The salt here, and in other
the morning they were soon exhausted from not hav-            parts of Patagonia, consists chiefly of sulphate of
ing had anything to drink, so that we were obliged            soda with some common salt. As long as the ground
to walk. About noon the dogs killed a kid, which we           remains moist in the salitrales (as the Spaniards im-
roasted. I ate some of it, but it made me intolerably         properly call them, mistaking this substance for salt-
thirsty. This was the more distressing as the road,           peter), nothing is to be seen but an extensive plain
from some recent rain, was full of little puddles of          composed of a black, muddy soil, supporting scat-
clear water, yet not a drop was drinkable. I had              tered tufts of succulent plants. On returning through
scarcely been twenty hours without water, and only            one of these tracts, after a week’s hot weather, one is
part of the time under a hot sun, yet the thirst ren-         surprised to see square miles of the plain white, as

                                                         88
                                                  Charles Darwin
if from a slight fall of snow, here and there heaped            which are well known to contain much soda, the
up by the wind into little drifts. This latter appear-          power of decomposing the muriate? Does the black
ance is chiefly caused by the salts being drawn up,             fetid mud, abounding with organic matter, yield the
during the slow evaporation of the moisture, round              sulphur and ultimately the sulphuric acid?
blades of dead grass, stumps of wood, and pieces of               Two days afterwards I again rode to the harbour:
broken earth, instead of being crystallized at the bot-         when not far from our destination, my companion,
toms of the puddles of water. The salitrales occur              the same man as before, spied three people hunting
either on level tracts elevated only a few feet above           on horseback. He immediately dismounted, and
the level of the sea, or on alluvial land bordering             watching them intently, said, “They don’t ride like
rivers. M. Parchappe* found that the saline incrusta-           Christians, and nobody can leave the fort.” The three
tion on the plain, at the distance of some miles from           hunters joined company, and likewise dismounted
the sea, consisted chiefly of sulphate of soda, with            from their horses. At last one mounted again and
only seven per cent. of common salt; whilst nearer              rode over the hill out of sight. My companion said,
to the coast, the common salt increased to 37 parts in          “We must now get on our horses: load your pistol;”
a hundred. This circumstance would tempt one to                 and he looked to his own sword. I asked, “Are they
believe that the sulphate of soda is generated in the           Indians?” —”Quien sabe? (who knows?) if there are
soil, from the muriate, left on the surface during the          no more than three, it does not signify.” It then struck
slow and recent elevation of this dry country. The              me, that the one man had gone over the hill to fetch
whole phenomenon is well worthy the attention of                the rest of his tribe. I suggested this; but all the an-
naturalists. Have the succulent, salt-loving plants,            swer I could extort was, “Quien sabe?” His head and
*Voyage dans l’Amerique Merid par M. A. d’Orbigny. Part.        eye never for a minute ceased scanning slowly the
Hist. tom. i. p. 664
                                                           89
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
distant horizon. I thought his uncommon coolness                why they could not have been Indians; but all these
too good a joke, and asked him why he did not re-               were forgotten at the time. We then rode on in peace
turn home. I was startled when he answered, “We                 and quietness to a low point called Punta Alta,
are returning, but in a line so as to pass near a swamp,        whence we could see nearly the whole of the great
into which we can gallop the horses as far as they              harbour of Bahia Blanca.
can go, and then trust to our own legs; so that there             The wide expanse of water is choked up by nu-
is no danger.” I did not feel quite so confident of             merous great mud-banks, which the inhabitants call
this, and wanted to increase our pace. He said, “No,            Cangrejales, or crabberies, from the number of small
not until they do.” When any little inequality con-             crabs. The mud is so soft that it is impossible to walk
cealed us, we galloped; but when in sight, contin-              over them, even for the shortest distance. Many of
ued walking. At last we reached a valley, and turn-             the banks have their surfaces covered with long
ing to the left, galloped quickly to the foot of a hill;        rushes, the tops of which alone are visible at high
he gave me his horse to hold, made the dogs lie                 water. On one occasion, when in a boat, we were so
down, and then crawled on his hands and knees to                entangled by these shallows that we could hardly
reconnoitre. He remained in this position for some              find our way. Nothing was visible but the flat beds
time, and at last, bursting out in laughter, exclaimed,         of mud; the day was not very clear, and there was
“Mugeres!” (women!). He knew them to be the wife                much refraction, or as the sailors expressed it, “things
and sister-in-law of the major’s son, hunting for               loomed high.” The only object within our view which
ostrich’s eggs. I have described this man’s conduct,            was not level was the horizon; rushes looked like
because he acted under the full impression that they            bushes unsupported in the air, and water like mud-
were Indians. As soon, however, as the absurd mis-              banks, and mud-banks like water.
take was found out, he gave me a hundred reasons                  We passed the night in Punta Alta, and I employed
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                                                 Charles Darwin
myself in searching for fossil bones; this point being
a perfect catacomb for monsters of extinct races. The                   CHAPTER V
evening was perfectly calm and clear; the extreme
monotony of the view gave it an interest even in the                        BAHIA BLANCA
midst of mud-banks and gulls sand-hillocks and
solitary vultures. In riding back in the morning we
                                                                 Bahia Blanca — Geology — Numerous gigantic
came across a very fresh track of a Puma, but did not
                                                               Quadrupeds —Recent Extinction — Longevity of
succeed in finding it. We saw also a couple of
Zorillos, or skunks, — odious animals, which are               species — Large Animals do not require a luxuriant
far from uncommon. In general appearance, the                  vegetation — Southern Africa —Siberian Fossils —
Zorillo resembles a polecat, but it is rather larger,          Two Species of Ostrich — Habits of Oven-bird —
and much thicker in proportion. Conscious of its               Armadilloes — Venomous Snake, Toad, Lizard —
power, it roams by day about the open plain, and               Hybernation of Animal — Habits of Sea-Pen — In-
fears neither dog nor man. If a dog is urged to the            dian Wars and Massacres — Arrow-head, antiquar-
attack, its courage is instantly checked by a few drops        ian Relic.
of the fetid oil, which brings on violent sickness and
running at the nose. Whatever is once polluted by it,            The Beagle arrived here on the 24th of August, and
is for ever useless. Azara says the smell can be per-          a week afterwards sailed for the Plata. With Captain
ceived at a league distant; more than once, when               Fitz Roy’s consent I was left behind, to travel by land
entering the harbour of Monte Video, the wind be-              to Buenos Ayres. I will here add some observations,
ing off shore, we have perceived the odour on board            which were made during this visit and on a previ-
the Beagle. Certain it is, that every animal most will-        ous occasion, when the Beagle was employed in sur-
ingly makes room for the Zorillo.                              veying the harbour.
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                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
  The plain, at the distance of a few miles from the           great allied animal. Thirdly, the Scelidotherium, also
coast, belongs to the great Pampean formation, which           an allied animal, of which I obtained a nearly per-
consists in part of a reddish clay, and in part of a           fect skeleton. It must have been as large as a rhinoc-
highly calcareous marly rock. Nearer the coast there           eros: in the structure of its head it comes according
are some plains formed from the wreck of the upper             to Mr. Owen, nearest to the Cape Anteater, but in
plain, and from mud, gravel, and sand thrown up                some other respects it approaches to the armadilloes.
by the sea during the slow elevation of the land, of           Fourthly, the Mylodon Darwinii, a closely related
which elevation we have evidence in upraised beds              genus of little inferior size. Fifthly, another gigantic
of recent shells, and in rounded pebbles of pumice             edental quadruped. Sixthly, a large animal, with an
scattered over the country. At Punta Alta we have a            osseous coat in compartments, very like that of an
section of one of these later-formed little plains,            armadillo. Seventhly, an extinct kind of horse, to
which is highly interesting from the number and ex-            which I shall have again to refer. Eighthly, a tooth of
traordinary character of the remains of gigantic land-         a Pachydermatous animal, probably the same with
animals embedded in it. These have been fully de-              the Macrauchenia, a huge beast with a long neck like
scribed by Professor Owen, in the Zoology of the               a camel, which I shall also refer to again. Lastly, the
voyage of the Beagle, and are deposited in the Col-            Toxodon, perhaps one of the strangest animals ever
lege of Surgeons. I will here give only a brief outline        discovered: in size it equalled an elephant or
of their nature.                                               megatherium, but the structure of its teeth, as Mr.
  First, parts of three heads and other bones of the           Owen states, proves indisputably that it was inti-
Megatherium, the huge dimensions of which are                  mately related to the Gnawers, the order which, at
expressed by its name. Secondly, the Megalonyx, a              the present day, includes most of the smallest quad-

                                                          92
                                                  Charles Darwin
rupeds: in many details it is allied to the                     which these remains were embedded, contains, ac-
Pachydermata: judging from the position of its eyes,            cording to Professor Ehrenberg, eight fresh-water
ears, and nostrils, it was probably aquatic, like the           and one salt-water infusorial animalcule; therefore,
Dugong and Manatee, to which it is also allied. How             probably, it was an estuary deposit.
wonderfully are the different Orders, at the present              The remains at Punta Alta were embedded in strati-
time so well separated, blended together in differ-             fied gravel and reddish mud, just such as the sea
ent points of the structure of the Toxodon!                     might now wash up on a shallow bank. They were
  The remains of these nine great quadrupeds, and               associated with twenty-three species of shells, of
many detached bones, were found embedded on the                 which thirteen are recent and four others very closely
beach, within the space of about 200 yards square. It           related to recent forms.* From the bones of the
is a remarkable circumstance that so many different             Scelidotherium, including even the knee-cap, being
species should be found together; and it proves how             intombed in their proper relative positions, and from
numerous in kind the ancient inhabitants of this                the osseous armour of the great armadillo-like ani-
country must have been. At the distance of about                mal being so well preserved, together with the bones
thirty miles from Punta Alta, in a cliff of red earth, I        of one of its legs, we may feel assured that these re-
found several fragments of bones, some of large size.           mains were fresh and united by their ligaments,
Among them were the teeth of a gnawer, equalling                when deposited in the gravel together with the
in size and closely resembling those of the Capy-               shells.* Hence we have good evidence that the above
bara, whose habits have been described; and there-              *Since this was written, M. Alcide d’Orbingy has examined these
                                                                shells, and pronounces them all to be recent.
fore, probably, an aquatic animal. There was also part          *M. Aug. Bravard has described, in a Spanish work (‘Observaciones
                                                                Geologicas,’ 1857), this district, and he believes that the bones of the
of the head of a Ctenomys; the species being differ-            extinct mammals were washed out of the underlying Pampean de-
                                                                posit, and subsequently became embedded with the still existing
ent from the Tucutuco, but with a close general re-             shells; but I am not convinced by his remarks. M. Bravard believes
                                                                that the whole enormous Pampean deposit is a sub-aerial formation,
semblance. The red earth, like that of the Pampas, in           like sand-dunes: this seems to me to be an untenable doctrine.
                                                           93
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
enumerated gigantic quadrupeds, more different                 eminent naturalists have actually believed, that, like
from those of the present day than the oldest of the           the sloths, to which they are intimately related, they
tertiary quadrupeds of Europe, lived whilst the sea            subsisted by climbing back downwards on trees, and
was peopled with most of its present inhabitants;              feeding on the leaves. It was a bold, not to say pre-
and we have confirmed that remarkable law so of-               posterous, idea to conceive even antediluvian trees,
ten insisted on by Mr. Lyell, namely, that the “lon-           with branches strong enough to bear animals as large
gevity of the species in the mammalia is upon the              as elephants. Professor Owen, with far more prob-
whole inferior to that of the testacea.”*                      ability, believes that, instead of climbing on the trees,
  The great size of the bones of the Megatheroid ani-          they pulled the branches down to them, and tore up
mals, including the Megatherium, Megalonyx,                    the smaller ones by the roots, and so fed on the
Scelidotherium, and Mylodon, is truly wonderful.               leaves. The colossal breadth and weight of their
The habits of life of these animals were a complete            hinder quarters, which can hardly be imagined with-
puzzle to naturalists, until Professor Owen* solved            out having been seen, become on this view, of obvi-
the problem with remarkable ingenuity. The teeth               ous service, instead of being an incumbrance: their
indicate, by their simple structure, that these                apparent clumsiness disappears. With their great
Megatheroid animals lived on vegetable food, and               tails and their huge heels firmly fixed like a tripod
probably on the leaves and small twigs of trees; their         on the ground, they could freely exert the full force
ponderous forms and great strong curved claws                  of their most powerful arms and great claws. Strongly
seem so little adapted for locomotion, that some               rooted, indeed, must that tree have been, which
*Principles of Geology, vol. iv. p. 40.
                                                               could have resisted such force! The Mylodon, more-
**This theory was first developed in the Zoology of the
Voyage of the Beagle, and subsequently in Professor            over, was furnished with a long extensile tongue like
Owen’s Memoir on Mylodon robustus.
                                                          94
                                                 Charles Darwin
that of the giraffe, which, by one of those beautiful          that the former vegetation was probably similar to
provisions of nature, thus reaches with the aid of its         the existing one; but this would have been an erro-
long neck its leafy food. I may remark, that in                neous inference for some of these same shells live
Abyssinia the elephant, according to Bruce, when it            on the luxuriant coast of Brazil; and generally, the
cannot reach with its proboscis the branches, deeply           character of the inhabitants of the sea are useless as
scores with its tusks the trunk of the tree, up and            guides to judge of those on the land. Nevertheless,
down and all round, till it is sufficiently weakened           from the following considerations, I do not believe
to be broken down.                                             that the simple fact of many gigantic quadrupeds
  The beds including the above fossil remains, stand           having lived on the plains round Bahia Blanca, is
only from fifteen to twenty feet above the level of            any sure guide that they formerly were clothed with
high-water; and hence the elevation of the land has            a luxuriant vegetation: I have no doubt that the ster-
been small (without there has been an intercalated             ile country a little southward, near the Rio Negro,
period of subsidence, of which we have no evidence)            with its scattered thorny trees, would support many
since the great quadrupeds wandered over the sur-              and large quadrupeds.
rounding plains; and the external features of the
country must then have been very nearly the same                 That large animals require a luxuriant vegetation,
as now. What, it may naturally be asked, was the               has been a general assumption which has passed
character of the vegetation at that period; was the            from one work to another; but I do not hesitate to
country as wretchedly sterile as it now is? As so many         say that it is completely false, and that it has vitiated
of the co-embedded shells are the same with those              the reasoning of geologists on some points of great
now living in the bay, I was at first inclined to think        interest in the ancient history of the world. The preju-

                                                          95
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
dice has probably been derived from India, and the              traveller may pass for days together through open
Indian islands, where troops of elephants, noble for-           plains, covered by a poor and scanty vegetation. It
ests, and impenetrable jungles, are associated to-              is difficult to convey any accurate idea of degrees of
gether in every one’s mind. If, however, we refer to            comparative fertility; but it may be safely said that
any work of travels through the southern parts of               the amount of vegetation supported at any one time*
Africa, we shall find allusions in almost every page            by Great Britain, exceeds, perhaps even tenfold, the
either to the desert character of the country, or to the        quantity on an equal area, in the interior parts of
numbers of large animals inhabiting it. The same                Southern Africa. The fact that bullock-waggons can
thing is rendered evident by the many engravings                travel in any direction, excepting near the coast, with-
which have been published of various parts of the               out more than occasionally half an hour’s delay in
interior. When the Beagle was at Cape Town, I made              cutting down bushes, gives, perhaps, a more defi-
an excursion of some days’ length into the country,             nite notion of the scantiness of the vegetation. Now,
which at least was sufficient to render that which I            if we look to the animals inhabiting these wide
had read more fully intelligible.                               plains, we shall find their numbers extraordinarily
  Dr. Andrew Smith, who, at the head of his adven-              great, and their bulk immense. We must enumerate
turous party, has lately succeeded in passing the               the elephant, three species of rhinoceros, and prob-
Tropic of Capricorn, informs me that, taking into               ably, according to Dr. Smith, two others, the hippo-
consideration the whole of the southern part of Af-             potamus, the giraffe, the bos caffer — as large as a
rica, there can be no doubt of its being a sterile coun-        full-grown bull, and the elan — but little less, two
try. On the southern and south-eastern coasts there
                                                                *I mean this to exclude the total amount which may have
are some fine forests, but with these exceptions, the           been successively produced and consumed during a given
                                                                period.
                                                           96
                                                  Charles Darwin
zebras, and the quaccha, two gnus, and several ante-            bers. Dr. Smith describes the country passed through
lopes even larger than these latter animals. It may             that day, as “being thinly covered with grass, and
be supposed that although the species are numer-                bushes about four feet high, and still more thinly
ous, the individuals of each kind are few. By the kind-         with mimosa-trees.” The waggons were not pre-
ness of Dr. Smith, I am enabled to show that the case           vented travelling in a nearly straight line.
is very different. He informs me, that in lat. 24 degs.,          Besides these large animals, every one the least
in one day’s march with the bullock-waggons, he                 acquainted with the natural history of the Cape, has
saw, without wandering to any great distance on ei-             read of the herds of antelopes, which can be com-
ther side, between one hundred and one hundred                  pared only with the flocks of migratory birds. The
and fifty rhinoceroses, which belonged to three spe-            numbers indeed of the lion, panther, and hyaena,
cies: the same day he saw several herds of giraffes,            and the multitude of birds of prey, plainly speak of
amounting together to nearly a hundred; and that                the abundance of the smaller quadrupeds: one
although no elephant was observed, yet they are                 evening seven lions were counted at the same time
found in this district. At the distance of a little more        prowling round Dr. Smith’s encampment. As this
than one hour’s march from their place of encamp-               able naturalist remarked to me, the carnage each day
ment on the previous night, his party actually killed           in Southern Africa must indeed be terrific! I confess
at one spot eight hippopotamuses, and saw many                  it is truly surprising how such a number of animals
more. In this same river there were likewise croco-             can find support in a country producing so little food.
diles. Of course it was a case quite extraordinary, to          The larger quadrupeds no doubt roam over wide
see so many great animals crowded together, but it              tracts in search of it; and their food chiefly consists
evidently proves that they must exist in great num-             of underwood, which probably contains much nu-

                                                           97
                                                    The Voyage of the Beagle
triment in a small bulk. Dr. Smith also informs me                 on the one side, the elephant,* hippopotamus, gi-
that the vegetation has a rapid growth; no sooner is               raffe, bos caffer, elan, certainly three, and probably
a part consumed, than its place is supplied by a fresh             five species of rhinoceros; and on the American side,
stock. There can be no doubt, however, that our ideas              two tapirs, the guanaco, three deer, the vicuna,
respecting the apparent amount of food necessary                   peccari, capybara (after which we must choose from
for the support of large quadrupeds are much exag-                 the monkeys to complete the number), and then place
gerated: it should have been remembered that the                   these two groups alongside each other, it is not easy
camel, an animal of no mean bulk, has always been                  *The elephant which was killed at Exeter Change was
                                                                   estimated (being partly weighed) at five tons and a half.
considered as the emblem of the desert.
                                                                   The elephant actress, as I was informed, weighed one
  The belief that where large quadrupeds exist, the                ton less; so that we may take five as the average of a full-
vegetation must necessarily be luxuriant, is the more              grown elephant. I was told at the Surry Gardens, that a
                                                                   hippopotamus which was sent to England cut up into
remarkable, because the converse is far from true.
                                                                   pieces was estimated at three tons and a half; we will call
Mr. Burchell observed to me that when entering Bra-                it three. From these premises we may give three tons and
zil, nothing struck him more forcibly than the                     a half to each of the five rhinoceroses; perhaps a ton to
                                                                   the giraffe, and half to the bos caffer as well as to the elan
splendour of the South American vegetation con-                    (a large ox weighs from 1200 to 1500 pounds). This will
trasted with that of South Africa, together with the               give an average (from the above estimates) of 2.7 of a ton
absence of all large quadrupeds. In his Travels,* he               for the ten largest herbivorous animals of Southern Africa.
                                                                   In South America, allowing 1200 pounds for the two tapirs
has suggested that the comparison of the respective                together, 550 for the guanaco and vicuna, 500 for three
weights (if there were sufficient data) of an equal                deer, 300 for the capybara, peccari, and a monkey, we
                                                                   shall have an average of 250 pounds, which I believe is
number of the largest herbivorous quadrupeds of
                                                                   overstating the result. The ratio will therefore be as 6048
each country would be extremely curious. If we take                to 250, or 24 to 1, for the ten largest animals from the two
*Travels in the Interior of South Africa, vol. ii. p. 207.         continents.
                                                              98
                                                     Charles Darwin
to conceive ranks more disproportionate in size. Af-           abounding to an astonishing degree with large ani-
ter the above facts, we are compelled to conclude,             mals, because we find the remains of many ages ac-
against anterior probability,* that among the                  cumulated at certain spots, could hardly boast of
mammalia there exists no close relation between the            more large quadrupeds than Southern Africa does
bulk of the species, and the quantity of the vegeta-           at present. If we speculate on the condition of the
tion, in the countries which they inhabit.                     vegetation during these epochs we are at least bound
 With regard to the number of large quadrupeds,                so far to consider existing analogies, as not to urge
there certainly exists no quarter of the globe which           as absolutely necessary a luxuriant vegetation, when
will bear comparison with Southern Africa. After the           we see a state of things so totally different at the Cape
different statements which have been given, the ex-            of Good Hope.
tremely desert character of that region will not be              We know* that the extreme regions of North
disputed. In the European division of the world, we            America, many degrees beyond the limit where the
must look back to the tertiary epochs, to find a con-          ground at the depth of a few feet remains perpetu-
dition of things among the mammalia, resembling                ally congealed, are covered by forests of large and
that now existing at the Cape of Good Hope. Those              tall trees. In a like manner, in Siberia, we have woods
tertiary epochs, which we are apt to consider as
                                                               *See Zoological Remarks to Capt. Back’s Expedition, by
*If we suppose the case of the discovery of a skeleton of      Dr. Richardson. He says, “The subsoil north of latitude 56
a Greenland whale in a fossil state, not a single cetaceous    degs. is perpetually frozen, the thaw on the coast not pen-
animal being known to exist, what naturalist would have        etrating above three feet, and at Bear Lake, in latitude 64
ventured conjecture on the possibility of a carcass so gi-     degs., not more than twenty inches. The frozen substra-
gantic being supported on the minute crustacea and             tum does not of itself destroy vegetation, for forests flour-
mollusca living in the frozen seas of the extreme North?       ish on the surface, at a distance from the coast.”
                                                          99
                                                 The Voyage of the Beagle
of birch, fir, aspen, and larch, growing in a latitude*          tion possessing a character of tropical luxuriance, to
(64 degs.) where the mean temperature of the air falls           support such large animals, and the impossibility
below the freezing point, and where the earth is so              of reconciling this with the proximity of perpetual
completely frozen, that the carcass of an animal em-             congelation, was one chief cause of the several theo-
bedded in it is perfectly preserved. With these facts            ries of sudden revolutions of climate, and of over-
we must grant, as far as quantity alone of vegetation            whelming catastrophes, which were invented to ac-
is concerned, that the great quadrupeds of the later             count for their entombment. I am far from suppos-
tertiary epochs might, in most parts of Northern Eu-             ing that the climate has not changed since the period
rope and Asia, have lived on the spots where their               when those animals lived, which now lie buried in
remains are now found. I do not here speak of the                the ice. At present I only wish to show, that as far as
kind of vegetation necessary for their support; be-              quantity of food alone is concerned, the ancient rhi-
cause, as there is evidence of physical changes, and             noceroses might have roamed over the steppes of cen-
as the animals have become extinct, so may we sup-               tral Siberia (the northern parts probably being un-
pose that the species of plants have likewise been               der water) even in their present condition, as well as
changed.                                                         the living rhinoceroses and elephants over the Karros
  These remarks, I may be permitted to add, directly             of Southern Africa.
bear on the case of the Siberian animals preserved in              I will now give an account of the habits of some of
ice. The firm conviction of the necessity of a vegeta-           the more interesting birds which are common on the
                                                                 wild plains of Northern Patagonia: and first for the
*See Humboldt, Fragments Asiatiques, p. 386: Barton’s
                                                                 largest, or South American ostrich. The ordinary hab-
Geography of Plants: and Malte Brun. In the latter work it
is said that the limit of the growth of trees in Siberia may     its of the ostrich are familiar to every one. They live
be drawn under the parallel of 70 degs.
                                                               100
                                                 Charles Darwin
on vegetable matter, such as roots and grass; but at        their own accord when not frightened: the distance
Bahia Blanca I have repeatedly seen three or four           crossed was about two hundred yards. When swim-
come down at low water to the extensive mud-banks           ming, very little of their bodies appear above water;
which are then dry, for the sake, as the Gauchos say,       their necks are extended a little forward, and their
of feeding on small fish. Although the ostrich in its       progress is slow. On two occasions I saw some os-
habits is so shy, wary, and solitary, and although so       triches swimming across the Santa Cruz river, where
fleet in its pace, it is caught without much difficulty     its course was about four hundred yards wide, and
by the Indian or Gaucho armed with the bolas. When          the stream rapid. Captain Sturt,* when descending
several horsemen appear in a semicircle, it becomes         the Murrumbidgee, in Australia, saw two emus in
confounded, and does not know which way to es-              the act of swimming.
cape. They generally prefer running against the               The inhabitants of the country readily distinguish,
wind; yet at the first start they expand their wings,       even at a distance, the cock bird from the hen. The
and like a vessel make all sail. On one fine hot day I      former is larger and darker-coloured, ** and has a
saw several ostriches enter a bed of tall rushes, where     bigger head. The ostrich, I believe the cock, emits a
they squatted concealed, till quite closely ap-             singular, deep-toned, hissing note: when first I heard
proached. It is not generally known that ostriches          it, standing in the midst of some sand-hillocks, I
readily take to the water. Mr. King informs me that         thought it was made by some wild beast, for it is a
at the Bay of San Blas, and at Port Valdes in               sound that one cannot tell whence it comes, or from
Patagonia, he saw these birds swimming several
                                                            *Sturt’s Travels, vol. ii. p. 74.
times from island to island. They ran into the water
                                                            **A Gucho assured me that he had once seen a snow-
both when driven down to a point, and likewise of           white or Albino variety, and that it was a most beautiful
                                                            bird.
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                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
how far distant. When we were at Bahia Blanca in            whom he had seen much terrified by one chasing
the months of September and October, the eggs, in           him. I observe in Burchell’s travels in South Africa,
extraordinary numbers, were found all over the              that he remarks, “Having killed a male ostrich, and
country. They lie either scattered and single, in which     the feathers being dirty, it was said by the Hottentots
case they are never hatched, and are called by the          to be a nest bird.” I understand that the male emu in
Spaniards huachos; or they are collected together into      the Zoological Gardens takes charge of the nest: this
a shallow excavation, which forms the nest. Out of          habit, therefore, is common to the family.
the four nests which I saw, three contained twenty-           The Gauchos unanimously affirm that several fe-
two eggs each, and the fourth twenty-seven. In one          males lay in one nest. I have been positively told
day’s hunting on horseback sixty-four eggs were             that four or five hen birds have been watched to go
found; forty-four of these were in two nests, and the       in the middle of the day, one after the other, to the
remaining twenty, scattered huachos. The Gauchos            same nest. I may add, also, that it is believed in Af-
unanimously affirm, and there is no reason to doubt         rica, that two or more females lay in one nest.* Al-
their statement, that the male bird alone hatches the       though this habit at first appears very strange, I think
eggs, and for some time afterwards accompanies the          the cause may be explained in a simple manner. The
young. The cock when on the nest lies very close; I         number of eggs in the nest varies from twenty to
have myself almost ridden over one. It is asserted          forty, and even to fifty; and according to Azara, some
that at such times they are occasionally fierce, and        times to seventy or eighty. Now, although it is most
even dangerous, and that they have been known to            probable, from the number of eggs found in one dis-
attack a man on horseback, trying to kick and leap          trict being so extraordinarily great in proportion to
on him. My informer pointed out to me an old man,
                                                            *Burchell’s Travels, vol. i. p. 280.

                                                          102
                                                            Charles Darwin
the parent birds, and likewise from the state of the                  the great numbers of huachos, or deserted eggs; so
ovarium of the hen, that she may in the course of the                 that in one day’s hunting twenty were found in this
season lay a large number, yet the time required                      state. It appears odd that so many should be wasted.
must be very long. Azara states,* that a female in a                  Does it not arise from the difficulty of several females
state of domestication laid seventeen eggs, each at                   associating together, and finding a male ready to
the interval of three days one from another. If the                   undertake the office of incubation? It is evident that
hen was obliged to hatch her own eggs, before the                     there must at first be some degree of association be-
last was laid the first probably would be addled; but                 tween at least two females; otherwise the eggs would
if each laid a few eggs at successive periods, in dif-                remain scattered over the wide plain, at distances
ferent nests, and several hens, as is stated to be the                far too great to allow of the male collecting them into
case, combined together, then the eggs in one collec-                 one nest: some authors have believed that the scat-
tion would be nearly of the same age. If the number                   tered eggs were deposited for the young birds to
of eggs in one of these nests is, as I believe, not greater           feed on. This can hardly be the case in America, be-
on an average than the number laid by one female in                   cause the huachos, although often found addled and
the season, then there must be as many nests as fe-                   putrid, are generally whole.
males, and each cock bird will have its fair share of                   When at the Rio Negro in Northern Patagonia, I
the labour of incubation; and that during a period                    repeatedly heard the Gauchos talking of a very rare
when the females probably could not sit, from not                     bird which they called Avestruz Petise. They de-
having finished laying.** I have before mentioned                     scribed it as being less than the common ostrich
* Azara, vol. iv. p. 173.
**Lichtenstein, however, asserts (Travels, vol. ii. p. 25) that the   (which is there abundant), but with a very close gen-
hens begin sitting when they have laid ten or twelve eggs; and        eral resemblance. They said its colour was dark and
that they continue laying, I presume, in another nest. This ap-
pears to me very improbable. He asserts that four or five hens        mottled, and that its legs were shorter, and feath-
associate for incubation with one cock, who sits only at night.
                                                                  103
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
ered lower down than those of the common ostrich.          put together, and is now exhibited in the museum
It is more easily caught by the bolas than the other       of the Zoological Society. Mr. Gould, in describing
species. The few inhabitants who had seen both             this new species, has done me the honour of calling
kinds, affirmed they could distinguish them apart          it after my name.
from a long distance. The eggs of the small species           Among the Patagonian Indians in the Strait of
appeared, however, more generally known; and it            Magellan, we found a half Indian, who had lived
was remarked, with surprise, that they were very           some years with the tribe, but had been born in the
little less than those of the Rhea, but of a slightly      northern provinces. I asked him if he had ever heard
different form, and with a tinge of pale blue. This        of the Avestruz Petise? He answered by saying, “
species occurs most rarely on the plains bordering         Why, there are none others in these southern coun-
the Rio Negro; but about a degree and a half further       tries.” He informed me that the number of eggs in
south they are tolerably abundant. When at Port            the nest of the petise is considerably less than in that
Desire, in Patagonia (lat. 48 degs.), Mr. Martens shot     of the other kind, namely, not more than fifteen on
an ostrich; and I looked at it, forgetting at the mo-      an average, but he asserted that more than one fe-
ment, in the most unaccountable manner, the whole          male deposited them. At Santa Cruz we saw several
subject of the Petises, and thought it was a not full-     of these birds. They were excessively wary: I think
grown bird of the common sort. It was cooked and           they could see a person approaching when too far
eaten before my memory returned. Fortunately the           off to be distinguished themselves. In ascending the
head, neck, legs, wings, many of the larger feathers,      river few were seen; but in our quiet and rapid de-
and a large part of the skin, had been preserved; and      scent, many, in pairs and by fours or fives, were ob-
from these a very nearly perfect specimen has been         served. It was remarked that this bird did not ex-

                                                         104
                                                       Charles Darwin
pand its wings, when first starting at full speed, af-          the Strait of Magellan are smaller and more beauti-
ter the manner of the northern kind. In conclusion I            ful, for their white feathers are tipped with black at
may observe, that the Struthio rhea inhabits the coun-          the extremity, and their black ones in like manner
try of La Plata as far as a little south of the Rio Negro       terminate in white.”
in lat. 41 degs., and that the Struthio Darwinii takes            A very singular little bird, Tinochorus rumicivorus,
its place in Southern Patagonia; the part about the             is here common: in its habits and general appear-
Rio Negro being neutral territory. M. A. d’Orbigny,*            ance, it nearly equally partakes of the characters, dif-
when at the Rio Negro, made great exertions to pro-             ferent as they are, of the quail and snipe. The
cure this bird, but never had the good fortune to suc-          Tinochorus is found in the whole of southern South
ceed. Dobrizhoffer** long ago was aware of there                America, wherever there are sterile plains, or open
being two kinds of ostriches, he says, “You must                dry pasture land. It frequents in pairs or small flocks
know, moreover, that Emus differ in size and habits             the most desolate places, where scarcely another liv-
in different tracts of land; for those that inhabit the         ing creature can exist. Upon being approached they
plains of Buenos Ayres and Tucuman are larger, and              squat close, and then are very difficult to be distin-
have black, white and grey feathers; those near to              guished from the ground. When feeding they walk
*When at the Rio Negro, we heard much of the indefati-          rather slowly, with their legs wide apart. They dust
gable labours of this naturalist. M. Aleide d’Orbigny, dur-     themselves in roads and sandy places, and frequent
ing the years 1825 to 1833, traversed several large por-
tions of South America, and has made a collection, and is       particular spots, where they may be found day after
now publishing the results on a scale of magnificence,          day: like partridges, they take wing in a flock. In all
which at once places himself in the list of American trav-
                                                                these respects, in the muscular gizzard adapted for
ellers second only to Humboldt.
**Account of the Abipones, A.D. 1749, vol. i. (English Trans-   vegetable food, in the arched beak and fleshy nos-
lation) p. 314.
                                                            105
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
trils, short legs and form of foot, the Tinochorus has       birds is one of those which, from its varied relations
a close affinity with quails. But as soon as the bird is     to other families, although at present offering only
seen flying, its whole appearance changes; the long          difficulties to the systematic naturalist, ultimately
pointed wings, so different from those in the galli-         may assist in revealing the grand scheme, common
naceous order, the irregular manner of flight, and           to the present and past ages, on which organized
plaintive cry uttered at the moment of rising, recall        beings have been created.
the idea of a snipe. The sportsmen of the Beagle               The genus Furnarius contains several species, all
unanimously called it the short-billed snipe. To this        small birds, living on the ground, and inhabiting
genus, or rather to the family of the Waders, its skel-      open dry countries. In structure they cannot be com-
eton shows that it is really related.                        pared to any European form. Ornithologists have
  The Tinochorus is closely related to some other            generally included them among the creepers, al-
South American birds. Two species of the genus               though opposed to that family in every habit. The
Attagis are in almost every respect ptarmigans in            best known species is the common oven-bird of La
their habits; one lives in Tierra del Fuego, above the       Plata, the Casara or housemaker of the Spaniards.
limits of the forest land; and the other just beneath        The nest, whence it takes its name, is placed in the
the snow-line on the Cordillera of Central Chile. A          most exposed situations, as on the top of a post, a
bird of another closely allied genus, Chionis alba, is       bare rock, or on a cactus. It is composed of mud and
an inhabitant of the antarctic regions; it feeds on sea-     bits of straw, and has strong thick walls: in shape it
weed and shells on the tidal rocks. Although not web         precisely resembles an oven, or depressed beehive.
footed, from some unaccountable habit, it is fre-            The opening is large and arched, and directly in front,
quently met with far out at sea. This small family of        within the nest, there is a partition, which reaches

                                                           106
                                                   Charles Darwin
nearly to the roof, thus forming a passage or ante-           of the little casarita, several of which I afterwards
chamber to the true nest.                                     observed at work. It is rather curious to find how
  Another and smaller species of Furnarius (F.                incapable these birds must be of acquiring any no-
cunicularius), resembles the oven-bird in the gen-            tion of thickness, for although they were constantly
eral reddish tint of its plumage, in a peculiar shrill        flitting over the low wall, they continued vainly to
reiterated cry, and in an odd manner of running by            bore through it, thinking it an excellent bank for their
starts. From its affinity, the Spaniards call it Casarita     nests. I do not doubt that each bird, as often as it
(or little housebuilder), although its nidification is        came to daylight on the opposite side, was greatly
quite different. The Casarita builds its nest at the          surprised at the marvellous fact.
bottom of a narrow cylindrical hole, which is said to           I have already mentioned nearly all the mammalia
extend horizontally to nearly six feet under ground.          common in this country. Of armadilloes three spe-
Several of the country people told me, that when              cies occur namely, the Dasypus minutus or pichy,
boys, they had attempted to dig out the nest, but             the D. villosus or peludo, and the apar. The first ex-
had scarcely ever succeeded in getting to the end of          tends ten degrees further south than any other kind;
the passage. The bird chooses any low bank of firm            a fourth species, the Mulita, does not come as far
sandy soil by the side of a road or stream. Here (at          south as Bahia Blanca. The four species have nearly
Bahia Blanca) the walls round the houses are built            similar habits; the peludo, however, is nocturnal,
of hardened mud, and I noticed that one, which en-            while the others wander by day over the open plains,
closed a courtyard where I lodged, was bored                  feeding on beetles, larvae, roots, and even small
through by round holes in a score of places. On ask-          snakes. The apar, commonly called mataco, is remark-
ing the owner the cause of this he bitterly complained        able by having only three moveable bands; the rest

                                                            107
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
of its tesselated covering being nearly inflexible. It          Of reptiles there are many kinds: one snake (a
has the power of rolling itself into a perfect sphere,        Trigonocephalus, or Cophias*), from the size of the
like one kind of English woodlouse. In this state it is       poison channel in its fangs, must be very deadly.
safe from the attack of dogs; for the dog not being           Cuvier, in opposition to some other naturalists,
able to take the whole in its mouth, tries to bite one        makes this a sub-genus of the rattlesnake, and inter-
side, and the ball slips away. The smooth hard cov-           mediate between it and the viper. In confirmation of
ering of the mataco offers a better defence than the          this opinion, I observed a fact, which appears to me
sharp spines of the hedgehog. The pichy prefers a             very curious and instructive, as showing how every
very dry soil; and the sand-dunes near the coast,             character, even though it may be in some degree in-
where for many months it can never taste water, is            dependent of structure, has a tendency to vary by
its favourite resort: it often tries to escape notice, by     slow degrees. The extremity of the tail of this snake
squatting close to the ground. In the course of a day’s       is terminated by a point, which is very slightly en-
ride, near Bahia Blanca, several were generally met           larged; and as the animal glides along, it constantly
with. The instant one was perceived, it was neces-            vibrates the last inch; and this part striking against
sary, in order to catch it, almost to tumble off one’s        the dry grass and brushwood, produces a rattling
horse; for in soft soil the animal burrowed so quickly,       noise, which can be distinctly heard at the distance
that its hinder quarters would almost disappear be-           of six feet. As often as the animal was irritated or
fore one could alight. It seems almost a pity to kill         surprised, its tail was shaken; and the vibrations were
such nice little animals, for as a Gaucho said, while         extremely rapid. Even as long as the body retained
sharpening his knife on the back of one, “Son tan             its irritability, a tendency to this habitual movement
mansos” (they are so quiet).
                                                              *M. Bibron calls it T. crepitans.

                                                            108
                                                  Charles Darwin
was evident. This Trigonocephalus has, therefore,            appearance will be gained. If it had been an unnamed
in some respects the structure of a viper, with the          species, surely it ought to have been called Diabolicus,
habits of a rattlesnake: the noise, however, being pro-      for it is a fit toad to preach in the ear of Eve. Instead
duced by a simpler device. The expression of this            of being nocturnal in its habits, as other toads are,
snake’s face was hideous and fierce; the pupil con-          and living in damp obscure recesses, it crawls dur-
sisted of a vertical slit in a mottled and coppery iris;     ing the heat of the day about the dry sand-hillocks
the jaws were broad at the base, and the nose termi-         and arid plains, where not a single drop of water
nated in a triangular projection. I do not think I ever      can be found. It must necessarily depend on the dew
saw anything more ugly, excepting, perhaps, some             for its moisture; and this probably is absorbed by
of the vampire bats. I imagine this repulsive aspect         the skin, for it is known, that these reptiles possess
originates from the features being placed in posi-           great powers of cutaneous absorption. At
tions, with respect to each other, somewhat propor-          Maldonado, I found one in a situation nearly as dry
tional to those of the human face; and thus we ob-           as at Bahia Blanca, and thinking to give it a great
tain a scale of hideousness.                                 treat, carried it to a pool of water; not only was the
   Amongst the Batrachian reptiles, I found only one         little animal unable to swim, but I think without help
little toad (Phryniscus nigricans), which was most           it would soon have been drowned. Of lizards there
singular from its colour. If we imagine, first, that it      were many kinds, but only one (Proctotretus
had been steeped in the blackest ink, and then, when         multimaculatus) remarkable from its habits. It lives
dry, allowed to crawl over a board, freshly painted          on the bare sand near the sea coast, and from its
with the brightest vermilion, so as to colour the soles      mottled colour, the brownish scales being speckled
of its feet and parts of its stomach, a good idea of its     with white, yellowish red, and dirty blue, can hardly

                                                           109
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
be distinguished from the surrounding surface.             deeply sculptured bodies, were slowly crawling
When frightened, it attempts to avoid discovery by         about; while the lizard tribe, the constant inhabit-
feigning death, with outstretched legs, depressed          ants of a sandy soil, darted about in every direction.
body, and closed eyes: if further molested, it buries      During the first eleven days, whilst nature was dor-
itself with great quickness in the loose sand. This        mant, the mean temperature taken from observations
lizard, from its flattened body and short legs, cannot     made every two hours on board the Beagle, was 51
run quickly.                                               degs.; and in the middle of the day the thermometer
  I will here add a few remarks on the hybernation         seldom ranged above 55 degs. On the eleven suc-
of animals in this part of South America. When we          ceeding days, in which all living things became so
first arrived at Bahia Blanca, September 7th, 1832,        animated, the mean was 58 degs., and the range in
we thought nature had granted scarcely a living crea-      the middle of the day 7 between 60 and 70 degs. Here,
ture to this sandy and dry country. By digging, how-       then, an increase of seven degrees in mean tempera-
ever, in the ground, several insects, large spiders,       ture, but a greater one of extreme heat, was suffi-
and lizards were found in a half-torpid state. On the      cient to awake the functions of life. At Monte Video,
15th, a few animals began to appear, and by the 18th       from which we had just before sailed, in the twenty-
(three days from the equinox), everything announced        three days included between the 26th of July and
the commencement of spring. The plains were orna-          the 19th of August, the mean temperature from 276
mented by the flowers of a pink wood-sorrel, wild          observations was 58.4 degs.; the mean hottest day
peas, cenotherae, and geraniums; and the birds be-         being 65.5 degs., and the coldest 46 degs. The low-
gan to lay their eggs. Numerous Lamellicorn and            est point to which the thermometer fell was 41.5
Heteromerous insects, the latter remarkable for their      degs., and occasionally in the middle of the day it

                                                         110
                                                 Charles Darwin
rose to 69 or 70 degs. Yet with this high tempera-          dile lay buried in the hardened mud. He adds, “The
ture, almost every beetle, several genera of spiders,       Indians often find enormous boas, which they call
snails, and land-shells, toads and lizards were all         Uji or water serpents, in the same lethargic state. To
lying torpid beneath stones. But we have seen that          reanimate them, they must be irritated or wetted with
at Bahia Blanca, which is four degrees southward            water.”
and therefore with a climate only a very little colder,       I will only mention one other animal, a zoophyte (I
this same temperature with a rather less extreme            believe Virgularia Patagonica), a kind of sea-pen. It
heat, was sufficient to awake all orders of animated        consists of a thin, straight, fleshy stem, with alter-
beings. This shows how nicely the stimulus required         nate rows of polypi on each side, and surrounding
to arouse hybernating animals is governed by the            an elastic stony axis, varying in length from eight
usual climate of the district, and not by the absolute      inches to two feet. The stem at one extremity is trun-
heat. It is well known that within the tropics, the         cate, but at the other is terminated by a vermiform
hybernation, or more properly aestivation, of ani-          fleshy appendage. The stony axis which gives
mals is determined not by the temperature, but by           strength to the stem may be traced at this extremity
the times of drought. Near Rio de Janeiro, I was at         into a mere vessel filled with granular matter. At low
first surprised to observe, that, a few days after some     water hundreds of these zoophytes might be seen,
little depressions had been filled with water, they         projecting like stubble, with the truncate end up-
were peopled by numerous full-grown shells and              wards, a few inches above the surface of the muddy
beetles, which must have been lying dormant.                sand. When touched or pulled they suddenly drew
Humboldt has related the strange accident of a hovel        themselves in with force, so as nearly or quite to dis-
having been erected over a spot where a young croco-        appear. By this action, the highly elastic axis must

                                                          111
                                                         The Voyage of the Beagle
be bent at the lower extremity, where it is naturally                      ask, what is an individual? It is always interesting to
slightly curved; and I imagine it is by this elasticity                    discover the foundation of the strange tales of the
alone that the zoophyte is enabled to rise again                           old voyagers; and I have no doubt but that the hab-
through the mud. Each polypus, though closely                              its of this Virgularia explain one such case. Captain
united to its brethren, has a distinct mouth, body,                        Lancaster, in his voyage* in 1601, narrates that on
and tentacula. Of these polypi, in a large specimen,                       the sea-sands of the Island of Sombrero, in the East
there must be many thousands; yet we see that they                         Indies, he “found a small twig growing up like a
act by one movement: they have also one central axis                       young tree, and on offering to pluck it up it shrinks
connected with a system of obscure circulation, and                        down to the ground, and sinks, unless held very
the ova are produced in an organ distinct from the                         hard. On being plucked up, a great worm is found
separate individuals.* Well may one be allowed to                          to be its root, and as the tree groweth in greatness,
*The cavities leading from the fleshy compartments of the ex-              so doth the worm diminish, and as soon as the worm
tremity, were filled with a yellow pulpy matter, which, examined
under a microscope, presented an extraordinary appearance. The             is entirely turned into a tree it rooteth in the earth,
mass consisted of rounded, semi-transparent, irregular grains,             and so becomes great. This transformation is one of
aggregated together into particles of various sizes. All such par-
ticles, and the separate grains, possessed the power of rapid              the strangest wonders that I saw in all my travels:
movement; generally revolving around different axes, but some-             for if this tree is plucked up, while young, and the
times progressive. The movement was visible with a very weak
power, but even with the highest its cause could not be per-               leaves and bark stripped off, it becomes a hard stone
ceived. It was very different from the circulation of the fluid in the
elastic bag, containing the thin extremity of the axis. On other           when dry, much like white coral: thus is this worm
occasions, when dissecting small marine animals beneath the                twice transformed into different natures. Of these we
microscope, I have seen particles of pulpy matter, some of large
size, as soon as they were disengaged, commence revolving. I               gathered and brought home many.”
have imagined, I know not with how much truth, that this granulo-
pulpy matter was in process of being converted into ova. Cer-              *Kerr’s Collection of Voyages, vol. viii. p. 119.
tainly in this zoophyte such appeared to be the case.
                                                                         112
                                               Charles Darwin
                                                          Immensus, saniem eructans, ac frusta cruenta Per
  During my stay at Bahia Blanca, while waiting for       somnum commixta mero.
the Beagle, the place was in a constant state of ex-         In the morning they started for the scene of the
citement, from rumours of wars and victories, be-         murder, with orders to follow the “rastro,” or track,
tween the troops of Rosas and the wild Indians. One       even if it led them to Chile. We subsequently heard
day an account came that a small party forming one        that the wild Indians had escaped into the great Pam-
of the postas on the line to Buenos Ayres, had been       pas, and from some cause the track had been missed.
found all murdered. The next day three hundred men        One glance at the rastro tells these people a whole
arrived from the Colorado, under the command of           history. Supposing they examine the track of a thou-
Commandant Miranda. A large portion of these men          sand horses, they will soon guess the number of
were Indians (mansos, or tame), belonging to the          mounted ones by seeing how many have cantered;
tribe of the Cacique Bernantio. They passed the night     by the depth of the other impressions, whether any
here; and it was impossible to conceive anything          horses were loaded with cargoes; by the irregularity
more wild and savage than the scene of their biv-         of the footsteps, how far tired; by the manner in which
ouac. Some drank till they were intoxicated; others       the food has been cooked, whether the pursued trav-
swallowed the steaming blood of the cattle slaugh-        elled in haste; by the general appearance, how long
tered for their suppers, and then, being sick from        it has been since they passed. They consider a rastro
drunkenness, they cast it up again, and were be-          of ten days or a fortnight, quite recent enough to be
smeared with filth and gore.                              hunted out. We also heard that Miranda struck from
  Nam simul expletus dapibus, vinoque sepultus            the west end of the Sierra Ventana, in a direct line to
Cervicem inflexam posuit, jacuitque per antrum            the island of Cholechel, situated seventy leagues up

                                                        113
                                           The Voyage of the Beagle
the Rio Negro. This is a distance of between two and      ans, men, women, and children, were about one hun-
three hundred miles, through a country completely         dred and ten in number, and they were nearly all
unknown. What other troops in the world are so in-        taken or killed, for the soldiers sabre every man. The
dependent? With the sun for their guide, mare’s flesh     Indians are now so terrified that they offer no resis-
for food, their saddle-cloths for beds, — as long as      tance in a body, but each flies, neglecting even his
there is a little water, these men would penetrate to     wife and children; but when overtaken, like wild
the end of the world.                                     animals, they fight against any number to the last
  A few days afterwards I saw another troop of these      moment. One dying Indian seized with his teeth the
banditti-like soldiers start on an expedition against     thumb of his adversary, and allowed his own eye to
a tribe of Indians at the small Salinas, who had been     be forced out sooner than relinquish his hold. An-
betrayed by a prisoner cacique. The Spaniard who          other, who was wounded, feigned death, keeping a
brought the orders for this expedition was a very         knife ready to strike one more fatal blow. My in-
intelligent man. He gave me an account of the last        former said, when he was pursuing an Indian, the
engagement at which he was present. Some Indians,         man cried out for mercy, at the same time that he
who had been taken prisoners, gave information of         was covertly loosing the bolas from his waist, mean-
a tribe living north of the Colorado. Two hundred         ing to whirl it round his head and so strike his pur-
soldiers were sent; and they first discovered the In-     suer. “I however struck him with my sabre to the
dians by a cloud of dust from their horses’ feet, as      ground, and then got off my horse, and cut his throat
they chanced to be travelling. The country was moun-      with my knife.” This is a dark picture; but how much
tainous and wild, and it must have been far in the        more shocking is the unquestionable fact, that all the
interior, for the Cordillera were in sight. The Indi-     women who appear above twenty years old are mas-

                                                        114
                                                  Charles Darwin
sacred in cold blood! When I exclaimed that this ap-         Cordillera. They were remarkably fine men, very fair,
peared rather inhuman, he answered, “Why, what               above six feet high, and all under thirty years of age.
can be done? they breed so!”                                 The three survivors of course possessed very valu-
  Every one here is fully convinced that this is the         able information and to extort this they were placed
most just war, because it is against barbarians. Who         in a line. The two first being questioned, answered,
would believe in this age that such atrocities could         “No se” (I do not know), and were one after the other
be committed in a Christian civilized country? The           shot. The third also said “ No se;” adding, “Fire, I
children of the Indians are saved, to be sold or given       am a man, and can die!” Not one syllable would they
away as servants, or rather slaves for as long a time        breathe to injure the united cause of their country!
as the owners can make them believe themselves               The conduct of the above-mentioned cacique was
slaves; but I believe in their treatment there is little     very different; he saved his life by betraying the in-
to complain of.                                              tended plan of warfare, and the point of union in the
  In the battle four men ran away together. They were        Andes. It was believed that there were already six or
pursued, one was killed, and the other three were            seven hundred Indians together, and that in sum-
taken alive. They turned out to be messengers or             mer their numbers would be doubled. Ambassadors
ambassadors from a large body of Indians, united in          were to have been sent to the Indians at the small
the common cause of defence, near the Cordillera.            Salinas, near Bahia Blanca, whom I have mentioned
The tribe to which they had been sent was on the             that this same cacique had betrayed. The communi-
point of holding a grand council, the feast of mare’s        cation, therefore, between the Indians, extends from
flesh was ready, and the dance prepared: in the morn-        the Cordillera to the coast of the Atlantic.
ing the ambassadors were to have returned to the               General Rosas’s plan is to kill all stragglers, and

                                                           115
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
having driven the remainder to a common point, to             Among the captive girls taken in the same engage-
attack them in a body, in the summer, with the assis-       ment, there were two very pretty Spanish ones, who
tance of the Chilenos. This operation is to be repeated     had been carried away by the Indians when young,
for three successive years. I imagine the summer is         and could now only speak the Indian tongue. From
chosen as the time for the main attack, because the         their account they must have come from Salta, a dis-
plains are then without water, and the Indians can          tance in a straight line of nearly one thousand miles.
only travel in particular directions. The escape of the     This gives one a grand idea of the immense territory
Indians to the south of the Rio Negro, where in such        over which the Indians roam: yet, great as it is, I think
a vast unknown country they would be safe, is pre-          there will not, in another half-century, be a wild In-
vented by a treaty with the Tehuelches to this effect;      dian northward of the Rio Negro. The warfare is too
— that Rosas pays them so much to slaughter every           bloody to last; the Christians killing every Indian,
Indian who passes to the south of the river, but if         and the Indians doing the same by the Christians. It
they fail in so doing, they themselves are to be exter-     is melancholy to trace how the Indians have given
minated. The war is waged chiefly against the Indi-         way before the Spanish invaders. Schirdel* says that
ans near the Cordillera; for many of the tribes on this     in 1535, when Buenos Ayres was founded, there were
eastern side are fighting with Rosas. The general,          villages containing two and three thousand inhabit-
however, like Lord Chesterfield, thinking that his          ants. Even in Falconer’s time (1750) the Indians made
friends may in a future day become his enemies, al-         inroads as far as Luxan, Areco, and Arrecife, but now
ways places them in the front ranks, so that their          they are driven beyond the Salado. Not only have
numbers may be thinned. Since leaving South                 whole tribes been exterminated, but the remaining
America we have heard that this war of extermina-
                                                            *Purchas’s Collection of Voyages. I believe the date was
tion completely failed.                                     really 1537.
                                                          116
                                                Charles Darwin
Indians have become more barbarous: instead of liv-        back. Thus hanging on one side, he was seen patting
ing in large villages, and being employed in the arts      the horse’s head, and talking to him. The pursuers
of fishing, as well as of the chase, they now wander       urged every effort in the chase; the Commandant
about the open plains, without home or fixed occu-         three times changed his horse, but all in vain. The
pation.                                                    old Indian father and his son escaped, and were free.
  I heard also some account of an engagement which         What a fine picture one can form in one’s mind, —
took place, a few weeks previously to the one men-         the naked, bronze-like figure of the old man with
tioned, at Cholechel. This is a very important station     his little boy, riding like a Mazeppa on the white
on account of being a pass for horses; and it was, in      horse, thus leaving far behind him the host of his
consequence, for some time the head-quarters of a          pursuers!
division of the army. When the troops first arrived          I saw one day a soldier striking fire with a piece of
there they found a tribe of Indians, of whom they          flint, which I immediately recognised as having been
killed twenty or thirty. The cacique escaped in a          a part of the head of an arrow. He told me it was
manner which astonished every one. The chief Indi-         found near the island of Cholechel, and that they are
ans always have one or two picked horses, which            frequently picked up there. It was between two and
they keep ready for any urgent occasion. On one of         three inches long, and therefore twice as large as
these, an old white horse, the cacique sprung, tak-        those now used in Tierra del Fuego: it was made of
ing with him his little son. The horse had neither         opaque cream-coloured flint, but the point and barbs
saddle nor bridle. To avoid the shots, the Indian rode     had been intentionally broken off. It is well known
in the peculiar method of his nation namely, with an       that no Pampas Indians now use bows and arrows. I
arm round the horse’s neck, and one leg only on its        believe a small tribe in Banda Oriental must be ex-

                                                         117
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
cepted; but they are widely separated from the Pam-
pas Indians, and border close on those tribes that
                                                                     CHAPTER VI
inhabit the forest, and live on foot. It appears, there-
fore, that these arrow-heads are antiquarian* relics                     BAHIA BLANCA
of the Indians, before the great change in habits con-                  TO BUENOS AYRES
sequent on the introduction of the horse into South
America.
                                                               Set out for Buenos Ayres — Rio Sauce — Sierra
                                                             Ventana —Third Posta — Driving Horses — Bolas —
                                                             Partridges and Foxes — Features of the Country —
                                                             Long-legged Plover —Teru-tero — Hail-storm —
                                                             Natural Enclosures in the Sierra Tapalguen — Flesh
                                                             of Puma — Meat Diet — Guardia del Monte — Ef-
                                                             fects of Cattle on the Vegetation — Cardoon —Buenos
                                                             Ayres — Corral where Cattle are Slaughtered.


                                                               SEPTEMBER 18th. — I hired a Gaucho to accom-
                                                             pany me on my ride to Buenos Ayres, though with
                                                             some difficulty, as the father of one man was afraid
                                                             to let him go, and another, who seemed willing, was
                                                             described to me as so fearful, that I was afraid to
*Azara has even doubted whether the Pampas Indians
                                                             take him, for I was told that even if he saw an ostrich
ever used bows.
                                                           118
                                                  Charles Darwin
at a distance, he would mistake it for an Indian, and        but from that point, in its course to the sea, it is quite
would fly like the wind away. The distance to Buenos         impassable, and hence makes a most useful barrier
Ayres is about four hundred miles, and nearly the            against the Indians.
whole way through an uninhabited country. We                   Insignificant as this stream is, the Jesuit Falconer,
started early in the morning; ascending a few hun-           whose information is generally so very correct, fig-
dred feet from the basin of green turf on which Ba-          ures it as a considerable river, rising at the foot of
hia Blanca stands, we entered on a wide desolate             the Cordillera. With respect to its source, I do not
plain. It consists of a crumbling argillaceo-calcare-        doubt that this is the case for the Gauchos assured
ous rock, which, from the dry nature of the climate,         me, that in the middle of the dry summer, this stream,
supports only scattered tufts of withered grass, with-       at the same time with the Colorado has periodical
out a single bush or tree to break the monotonous            floods; which can only originate in the snow melt-
uniformity. The weather was fine, but the atmo-              ing on the Andes. It is extremely improbable that a
sphere remarkably hazy; I thought the appearance             stream so small as the Sauce then was, should
foreboded a gale, but the Gauchos said it was owing          traverse the entire width of the continent; and indeed,
to the plain, at some great distance in the interior,        if it were the residue of a large river, its waters, as in
being on fire. After a long gallop, having changed           other ascertained cases, would be saline. During the
horses twice, we reached the Rio Sauce: it is a deep,        winter we must look to the springs round the Sierra
rapid, little stream, not above twenty-five feet wide.       Ventana as the source of its pure and limpid stream.
The second posta on the road to Buenos Ayres stands          I suspect the plains of Patagonia like those of Aus-
on its banks, a little above there is a ford for horses,     tralia, are traversed by many water-courses which
where the water does not reach to the horses’ belly;         only perform their proper parts at certain periods.

                                                           119
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
Probably this is the case with the water which flows        main ridge, we had much difficulty in finding any
into the head of Port Desire, and likewise with the         water, and we thought we should have been obliged
Rio Chupat, on the banks of which masses of highly          to have passed the night without any. At last we dis-
cellular scoriae were found by the officers employed        covered some by looking close to the mountain, for
in the survey.                                              at the distance even of a few hundred yards the
  As it was early in the afternoon when we arrived,         streamlets were buried and entirely lost in the fri-
we took fresh horses, and a soldier for a guide, and        able calcareous stone and loose detritus. I do not
started for the Sierra de la Ventana. This mountain         think Nature ever made a more solitary, desolate pile
is visible from the anchorage at Bahia Blanca; and          of rock; — it well deserves its name of Hurtado, or
Capt. Fitz Roy calculates its height to be 3340 feet —      separated. The mountain is steep, extremely rugged,
an altitude very remarkable on this eastern side of         and broken, and so entirely destitute of trees, and
the continent. I am not aware that any foreigner, pre-      even bushes, that we actually could not make a
vious to my visit, had ascended this mountain; and          skewer to stretch out our meat over the fire of thistle-
indeed very few of the soldiers at Bahia Blanca knew        stalks.* The strange aspect of this mountain is con-
anything about it. Hence we heard of beds of coal, of       trasted by the sea-like plain, which not only abuts
gold and silver, of caves, and of forests, all of which     against its steep sides, but likewise separates the
inflamed my curiosity, only to disappoint it. The           parallel ranges. The uniformity of the colouring gives
distance from the posta was about six leagues over          an extreme quietness to the view, — the whitish grey
a level plain of the same character as before. The ride     of the quartz rock, and the light brown of the with-
was, however, interesting, as the mountain began to         ered grass of the plain, being unrelieved by any
show its true form. When we reached the foot of the         *I call these thistle-stalks for the want of a more correct
                                                            name. I believe it is a species of Eryngium.
                                                          120
                                               Charles Darwin
brighter tint. From custom, one expects to see in the     minutes was often lost in the next. At last, when I
neighbourhood of a lofty and bold mountain, a bro-        reached the ridge, my disappointment was extreme
ken country strewed over with huge fragments. Here        in finding a precipitous valley as deep as the plain,
nature shows that the last movement before the bed        which cut the chain transversely in two, and sepa-
of the sea is changed into dry land may sometimes         rated me from the four points. This valley is very
be one of tranquillity. Under these circumstances I       narrow, but flat-bottomed, and it forms a fine horse-
was curious to observe how far from the parent rock       pass for the Indians, as it connects the plains on the
any pebbles could be found. On the shores of Bahia        northern and southern sides of the range. Having de-
Blanca, and near the settlement, there were some of       scended, and while crossing it, I saw two horses graz-
quartz, which certainly must have come from this          ing: I immediately hid myself in the long grass, and
source: the distance is forty-five miles.                 began to reconnoitre; but as I could see no signs of
  The dew, which in the early part of the night wet-      Indians I proceeded cautiously on my second ascent.
ted the saddle-cloths under which we slept, was in        It was late in the day, and this part of the mountain,
the morning frozen. The plain, though appearing           like the other, was steep and rugged. I was on the
horizontal, had insensibly sloped up to a height of       top of the second peak by two o’clock, but got there
between 800 and 900 feet above the sea. In the morn-      with extreme difficulty; every twenty yards I had the
ing (9th of September) the guide told me to ascend        cramp in the upper part of both thighs, so that I was
the nearest ridge, which he thought would lead me         afraid I should not have been able to have got down
to the four peaks that crown the summit. The climb-       again. It was also necessary to return by another road,
ing up such rough rocks was very fatiguing; the sides     as it was out of the question to pass over the saddle-
were so indented, that what was gained in one five        back. I was therefore obliged to give up the two

                                                        121
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
higher peaks. Their altitude was but little greater,           I was, on the whole, disappointed with this ascent.
and every purpose of geology had been answered;             Even the view was insignificant; — a plain like the
so that the attempt was not worth the hazard of any         sea, but without its beautiful colour and defined out-
further exertion. I presume the cause of the cramp          line. The scene, however, was novel, and a little dan-
was the great change in the kind of muscular action,        ger, like salt to meat, gave it a relish. That the danger
from that of hard riding to that of still harder climb-     was very little was certain, for my two companions
ing. It is a lesson worth. remembering, as in some          made a good fire — a thing which is never done when
cases it might cause much difficulty.                       it is suspected that Indians are near. I reached the place
  I have already said the mountain is composed of           of our bivouac by sunset, and drinking much mate,
white quartz rock, and with it a little glossy clay-        and smoking several cigaritos, soon made up my bed
slate is associated. At the height of a few hundred         for the night. The wind was very strong and cold, but
feet above the plain patches of conglomerate adhered        I never slept more comfortably.
in several places to the solid rock. They resembled            September 10th. — In the morning, having fairly
in hardness, and in the nature of the cement, the           scudded before the gale, we arrived by the middle
masses which may be seen daily forming on some              of the day at the Sauce posta. In the road we saw
coasts. I do not doubt these pebbles were in a simi-        great numbers of deer, and near the mountain a gua-
lar manner aggregated, at a period when the great           naco. The plain, which abuts against the Sierra, is
calcareous formation was depositing beneath the             traversed by some curious gullies, of which one was
surrounding sea. We may believe that the jagged and         about twenty feet wide, and at least thirty deep; we
battered forms of the hard quartz yet show the ef-          were obliged in consequence to make a consider-
fects of the waves of an open ocean.                        able circuit before we could find a pass. We stayed

                                                          122
                                                   Charles Darwin
the night at the posta, the conversation, as was gen-         Buenos Ayres with five hundred horses, and when
erally the case, being about the Indians. The Sierra          he arrived at the army he had under twenty.
Ventana was formerly a great place of resort; and               Soon afterwards we perceived by the cloud of dust,
three or four years ago there was much fighting there.        that a party of horsemen were coming towards us;
My guide had been present when many Indians were              when far distant my companions knew them to be
killed: the women escaped to the top of the ridge,            Indians, by their long hair streaming behind their
and fought most desperately with great stones; many           backs. The Indians generally have a fillet round their
thus saving themselves.                                       heads, but never any covering; and their black hair
  September 11th. — Proceeded to the third posta in           blowing across their swarthy faces, heightens to an
company with the lieutenant who commanded it. The             uncommon degree the wildness of their appearance.
distance is called fifteen leagues; but it is only guess-     They turned out to be a party of Bernantio’s friendly
work, and is generally overstated. The road was un-           tribe, going to a salina for salt. The Indians eat much
interesting, over a dry grassy plain; and on our left         salt, their children sucking it like sugar. This habit is
hand at a greater or less distance there were some low        very different from that of the Spanish Gauchos, who,
hills; a continuation of which we crossed close to the        leading the same kind of life, eat scarcely any; accord-
posta. Before our arrival we met a large herd of cattle       ing to Mungo Park,* it is people who live on vegetable
and horses, guarded by fifteen soldiers; but we were          food who have an unconquerable desire for salt. The
told many had been lost. It is very difficult to drive        Indians gave us good-humoured nods as they passed
animals across the plains; for if in the night a puma,        at full gallop, driving before them a troop of horses,
or even a fox, approaches, nothing can prevent the            and followed by a train of lanky dogs.
horses dispersing in every direction; and a storm will
have the same effect. A short time since, an officer left     *Travels in Africa, p. 233.
                                                            123
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
  September 12th and 13th. — I stayed at this posta          at full gallop after him, shouting to him to stop, and
two days, waiting for a troop of soldiers, which Gen-        saying that he only wanted to speak to him. Just as
eral Rosas had the kindness to send to inform me,            the Spaniard was on the point of reaching the boat,
would shortly travel to Buenos Ayres; and he ad-             Luciano threw the balls: they struck him on the legs
vised me to take the opportunity of the escort. In the       with such a jerk, as to throw him down and to ren-
morning we rode to some neighbouring hills to view           der him for some time insensible. The man, after
the country, and to examine the geology. After din-          Luciano had had his talk, was allowed to escape. He
ner the soldiers divided themselves into two parties         told us that his legs were marked by great weals,
for a trial of skill with the bolas. Two spears were         where the thong had wound round, as if he had been
stuck in the ground twenty-five yards apart, but they        flogged with a whip. In the middle of the day two
were struck and entangled only once in four or five          men arrived, who brought a parcel from the next
times. The balls can be thrown fifty or sixty yards,         posta to be forwarded to the general: so that besides
but with little certainty. This, however, does not ap-       these two, our party consisted this evening of my
ply to a man on horseback; for when the speed of the         guide and self, the lieutenant, and his four soldiers.
horse is added to the force of the arm, it is said, that     The latter were strange beings; the first a fine young
they can be whirled with effect to the distance of           negro; the second half Indian and negro; and the two
eighty yards. As a proof of their force, I may men-          others non-descripts; namely, an old Chilian miner,
tion, that at the Falkland Islands, when the Spaniards       the colour of mahogany, and another partly a mu-
murdered some of their own countrymen and all the            latto; but two such mongrels with such detestable
Englishmen, a young friendly Spaniard was running            expressions, I never saw before. At night, when they
away, when a great tall man, by name Luciano, came           were sitting round the fire, and playing at cards, I

                                                           124
                                                  Charles Darwin
retired to view such a Salvator Rosa scene. They were        horses; each one taking a line for himself, and driving
seated under a low cliff, so that I could look down          with him as many animals as he was able to manage.
upon them; around the party were lying dogs, arms,             The little hovel, built of thistle-stalks, in which they
remnants of deer and ostriches; and their long spears        slept, neither kept out the wind nor rain; indeed in
were stuck in the turf. Further in the dark back-            the latter case the only effect the roof had, was to
ground, their horses were tied up, ready for any sud-        condense it into larger drops. They had nothing to
den danger. If the stillness of the desolate plain was       eat excepting what they could catch, such as os-
broken by one of the dogs barking, a soldier, leav-          triches, deer, armadilloes, etc., and their only fuel
ing the fire, would place his head close to the ground,      was the dry stalks of a small plant, somewhat re-
and thus slowly scan the horizon. Even if the noisy          sembling an aloe. The sole luxury which these men
teru-tero uttered its scream, there would be a pause         enjoyed was smoking the little paper cigars, and
in the conversation, and every head, for a moment, a         sucking mate. I used to think that the carrion vul-
little inclined.                                             tures, man’s constant attendants on these dreary
   What a life of misery these men appear to us to lead!     plains, while seated on the little neighbouring cliffs
They were at least ten leagues from the Sauce posta,         seemed by their very patience to say, “Ah! when the
and since the murder committed by the Indians,               Indians come we shall have a feast.”
twenty from another. The Indians are supposed to               In the morning we all sallied forth to hunt, and al-
have made their attack in the middle of the night; for       though we had not much success, there were some
very early in the morning after the murder, they were        animated chases. Soon after starting the party sepa-
luckily seen approaching this posta. The whole party         rated, and so arranged their plans, that at a certain
here, however, escaped, together with the troop of           time of the day (in guessing which they show much

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                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
skill) they should all meet from different points of         we returned to the posta, we found two of the party
the compass on a plain piece of ground, and thus             returned who had been hunting by themselves. They
drive together the wild animals. One day I went out          had killed a puma, and had found an ostrich’s nest
hunting at Bahia Blanca, but the men there merely            with twenty-seven eggs in it. Each of these is said to
rode in a crescent, each being about a quarter of a          equal in weight eleven hen’s eggs; so that we ob-
mile apart from the other. A fine male ostrich being         tained from this one nest as much food as 297 hen’s
turned by the headmost riders, tried to escape on            eggs would have given.
one side. The Gauchos pursued at a reckless pace,              September 14th. — As the soldiers belonging to
twisting their horses about with the most admirable          the next posta meant to return, and we should to-
command, and each man whirling the balls round               gether make a party of five, and all armed, I deter-
his head. At length the foremost threw them, revolv-         mined not to wait for the expected troops. My host,
ing through the air: in an instant the ostrich rolled        the lieutenant, pressed me much to stop. As he had
over and over, its legs fairly lashed together by the        been very obliging — not only providing me with
thong. The plains abound with three kinds of par-            food, but lending me his private horses — I wanted
tridge,* two of which are as large as hen pheasants.         to make him some remuneration. I asked my guide
Their destroyer, a small and pretty fox, was also sin-       whether I might do so, but he told me certainly not;
gularly numerous; in the course of the day we could          that the only answer I should receive, probably
not have seen less than forty or fifty. They were gen-       would be, “We have meat for the dogs in our coun-
erally near their earths, but the dogs killed one. When      try, and therefore do not grudge it to a Christian.” It
                                                             must not be supposed that the rank of lieutenant in
*Two species of Tinamus and Eudromia elegans of A.
d’Orbigny, which can only be called a partridge with re-     such an army would at all prevent the acceptance of
gard to its habits.
                                                           126
                                                Charles Darwin
payment: it was only the high sense of hospitality,        stationed here; at sunset they returned from hunting,
which every traveller is bound to acknowledge as           bringing with them seven deer, three ostriches, and
nearly universal throughout these provinces. After         many armadilloes and partridges. When riding
galloping some leagues, we came to a low swampy            through the country, it is a common practice to set
country, which extends for nearly eighty miles north-      fire to the plain; and hence at night, as on this occa-
ward, as far as the Sierra Tapalguen. In some parts        sion, the horizon was illuminated in several places
there were fine damp plains, covered with grass,           by brilliant conflagrations. This is done partly for the
while others had a soft, black, and peaty soil. There      sake of puzzling any stray Indians, but chiefly for
were also many extensive but shallow lakes, and            improving the pasture. In grassy plains unoccupied
large beds of reeds. The country on the whole re-          by the larger ruminating quadrupeds, it seems nec-
sembled the better parts of the Cambridgeshire fens.       essary to remove the superfluous vegetation by fire,
At night we had some difficulty in finding amidst          so as to render the new year’s growth serviceable.
the swamps, a dry place for our bivouac.                     The rancho at this place did not boast even of a
  September 15th. — Rose very early in the morning         roof, but merely consisted of a ring of thistle-stalks,
and shortly after passed the posta where the Indians       to break the force of the wind. It was situated on the
had murdered the five soldiers. The officer had eigh-      borders of an extensive but shallow lake, swarming
teen chuzo wounds in his body. By the middle of the        with wild fowl, among which the black-necked swan
day, after a hard gallop, we reached the fifth posta:      was conspicuous.
on account of some difficulty in procuring horses we         The kind of plover, which appears as if mounted
stayed there the night. As this point was the most ex-     on stilts (Himantopus nigricollis), is here common
posed on the whole line, twenty-one soldiers were          in flocks of considerable size. It has been wrongfully

                                                         127
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
accused of inelegance; when wading about in shal-             ing season, they attempt, like our peewits, by feign-
low water, which is its favourite resort, its gait is far     ing to be wounded, to draw away from their nests
from awkward. These birds in a flock utter a noise,           dogs and other enemies. The eggs of this bird are
that singularly resembles the cry of a pack of small          esteemed a great delicacy.
dogs in full chase: waking in the night, I have more            September 16th. — To the seventh posta at the foot
than once been for a moment startled at the distant           of the Sierra Tapalguen. The country was quite level,
sound. The teru-tero (Vanellus cayanus) is another            with a coarse herbage and a soft peaty soil. The hovel
bird, which often disturbs the stillness of the night.        was here remarkably neat, the posts and rafters be-
In appearance and habits it resembles in many re-             ing made of about a dozen dry thistle-stalks bound
spects our peewits; its wings, however, are armed             together with thongs of hide; and by the support of
with sharp spurs, like those on the legs of the com-          these Ionic-like columns, the roof and sides were
mon cock. As our peewit takes its name from the               thatched with reeds. We were here told a fact, which
sound of its voice, so does the teru-tero. While riding       I would not have credited, if I had not had partly
over the grassy plains, one is constantly pursued by          ocular proof of it; namely, that, during the previous
these birds, which appear to hate mankind, and I am           night hail as large as small apples, and extremely
sure deserve to be hated for their never-ceasing,             hard, had fallen with such violence, as to kill the
unvaried, harsh screams. To the sportsman they are            greater number of the wild animals. One of the men
most annoying, by telling every other bird and ani-           had already found thirteen deer (Cervus campestris)
mal of his approach: to the traveller in the country,         lying dead, and I saw their fresh hides; another of the
they may possibly, as Molina says, do good, by warn-          party, a few minutes after my arrival brought in
ing him of the midnight robber. During the breed-             seven more. Now I well know, that one man without

                                                            128
                                                   Charles Darwin
dogs could hardly have killed seven deer in a week.           hail fell of an enormous size and killed vast num-
The men believed they had seen about fifteen os-              bers of cattle: the Indians hence called the place
triches (part of one of which we had for dinner); and         Lalegraicavalca, meaning “the little white things.” Dr.
they said that several were running about evidently           Malcolmson, also, informs me that he witnessed in
blind in one eye. Numbers of smaller birds, as ducks,         1831 in India, a hail-storm, which killed numbers of
hawks, and partridges, were killed. I saw one of the          large birds and much injured the cattle. These hail-
latter with a black mark on its back, as if it had been       stones were flat, and one was ten inches in circum-
struck with a paving-stone. A fence of thistle-stalks         ference, and another weighed two ounces. They
round the hovel was nearly broken down, and my                ploughed up a gravel-walk like musket-balls, and
informer, putting his head out to see what was the            passed through glass-windows, making round holes,
matter, received a severe cut, and now wore a ban-            but not cracking them.
dage. The storm was said to have been of limited                Having finished our dinner, of hail-stricken meat,
extent: we certainly saw from our last night’s biv-           we crossed the Sierra Tapalguen; a low range of hills,
ouac a dense cloud and lightning in this direction. It        a few hundred feet in height, which commences at
is marvellous how such strong animals as deer could           Cape Corrientes. The rock in this part is pure quartz;
thus have been killed; but I have no doubt, from the          further eastward I understand it is granitic. The hills
evidence I have given, that the story is not in the least     are of a remarkable form; they consist of flat patches
exaggerated. I am glad, however, to have its cred-            of table-land, surrounded by low perpendicular
ibility supported by the Jesuit Dobrizhoffen,* who,           cliffs, like the outliers of a sedimentary deposit. The
speaking of a country much to the northward, says,            hill which I ascended was very small, not above a
                                                              couple of hundred yards in diameter; but I saw oth-
*History of the Abipones, vol. ii. p. 6.

                                                            129
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
ers larger. One which goes by the name of the “Cor-         “the flesh of the lion is in great esteem having no
ral,” is said to be two or three miles in diameter, and     small affinity with veal, both in colour, taste, and
encompassed by perpendicular cliffs, between thirty         flavour.” Such certainly is the case with the Puma.
and forty feet high, excepting at one spot, where the       The Gauchos differ in their opinion, whether the Jag-
entrance lies. Falconer* gives a curious account of         uar is good eating, but are unanimous in saying that
the Indians driving troops of wild horses into it, and      cat is excellent.
then by guarding the entrance, keeping them secure.           September 17th. — We followed the course of the
I have never heard of any other instance of table-land      Rio Tapalguen, through a very fertile country, to the
in a formation of quartz, and which, in the hill I ex-      ninth posta. Tapalguen, itself, or the town of
amined, had neither cleavage nor stratification. I was      Tapalguen, if it may be so called, consists of a per-
told that the rock of the “Corral” was white, and           fectly level plain, studded over, as far as the eye can
would strike fire.                                          reach, with the toldos or oven-shaped huts of the
  We did not reach the posta on the Rio Tapalguen           Indians. The families of the friendly Indians, who
till after it was dark. At supper, from something           were fighting on the side of Rosas, resided here. We
which was said, I was suddenly struck with horror           met and passed many young Indian women, riding
at thinking that I was eating one of the favourite          by two or three together on the same horse: they, as
dishes of the country namely, a half-formed calf, long      well as many of the young men, were strikingly
before its proper time of birth. It turned out to be        handsome, —their fine ruddy complexions being the
Puma; the meat is very white and remarkably like            picture of health. Besides the toldos, there were three
veal in taste. Dr. Shaw was laughed at for stating that     ranchos; one inhabited by the Commandant, and the
                                                            two others by Spaniards with small shops.
*Falconer’s Patagonia, p. 70.

                                                          130
                                                 Charles Darwin
  We were here able to buy some biscuit. I had now          from food. I was told that at Tandeel, some troops
been several days without tasting anything besides          voluntarily pursued a party of Indians for three days,
meat: I did not at all dislike this new regimen; but I      without eating or drinking.
felt as if it would only have agreed with me with             We saw in the shops many articles, such as
hard exercise. I have heard that patients in England,       horsecloths, belts, and garters, woven by the Indian
when desired to confine themselves exclusively to           women. The patterns were very pretty, and the
an animal diet, even with the hope of life before their     colours brilliant; the workmanship of the garters was
eyes, have hardly been able to endure it. Yet the           so good that an English merchant at Buenos Ayres
Gaucho in the Pampas, for months together, touches          maintained they must have been manufactured in
nothing but beef. But they eat, I observe, a very large     England, till he found the tassels had been fastened
proportion of fat, which is of a less animalized na-        by split sinew.
ture; and they particularly dislike dry meat, such as         September 18th. — We had a very long ride this
that of the Agouti. Dr. Richardson* also, has re-           day. At the twelfth posta, which is seven leagues
marked, “that when people have fed for a long time          south of the Rio Salado, we came to the first estancia
solely upon lean animal food, the desire for fat be-        with cattle and white women. Afterwards we had to
comes so insatiable, that they can consume a large          ride for many miles through a country flooded with
quantity of unmixed and even oily fat without nau-          water above our horses’ knees. By crossing the stir-
sea:” this appears to me a curious physiological fact.      rups, and riding Arab-like with our legs bent up, we
It is, perhaps, from their meat regimen that the Gau-       contrived to keep tolerably dry. It was nearly dark
chos, like other carnivorous animals, can abstain long      when we arrived at the Salado; the stream was deep,
                                                            and about forty yards wide; in summer, however,
*Fauna Boreali-Americana, vol. i. p. 35.
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                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
its bed becomes almost dry, and the little remaining         that here, as well as in Banda Oriental, where there
water nearly as salt as that of the sea. We slept at one     is as great a difference between the country round
of the great estancias of General Rosas. It was forti-       Monte Video and the thinly-inhabited savannahs of
fied, and of such an extent, that arriving in the dark I     Colonia, the whole was to be attributed to the ma-
thought it was a town and fortress. In the morning           nuring and grazing of the cattle. Exactly the same
we saw immense herds of cattle, the general here             fact has been observed in the prairies* of North
having seventy-four square leagues of land. For-             America, where coarse grass, between five and six
merly nearly three hundred men were employed                 feet high, when grazed by cattle, changes into com-
about this estate, and they defied all the attacks of        mon pasture land. I am not botanist enough to say
the Indians.                                                 whether the change here is owing to the introduc-
  September 19th. — Passed the Guardia del Monte.            tion of new species, to the altered growth of the same,
This is a nice scattered little town, with many gar-         or to a difference in their proportional numbers.
dens, full of peach and quince trees. The plain here         Azara has also observed with astonishment this
looked like that around Buenos Ayres; the turf be-           change: he is likewise much perplexed by the im-
ing short and bright green, with beds of clover and          mediate appearance of plants not occurring in the
thistles, and with bizcacha holes. I was very much           neighbourhood, on the borders of any track that leads
struck with the marked change in the aspect of the           to a newly-constructed hovel. In another part he
country after having crossed the Salado. From a              says,* “ces chevaux (sauvages) ont la manie de
coarse herbage we passed on to a carpet of fine green        preferer les chemins, et le bord des routes pour de-
verdure. I at first attributed this to some change in
                                                             *See Mr. Atwater’s account of the Prairies, in Silliman’s N.
the nature of the soil, but the inhabitants assured me       A. Journal, vol. i. p. 117.
                                                             **Azara’s Voyages, vol. i. p. 373.
                                                           132
                                                               Charles Darwin
poser leurs excremens, dont on trouve des monceaux                       continent. I saw it in unfrequented spots in Chile,
dans ces endroits.” Does this not partly explain the                     Entre Rios, and Banda Oriental. In the latter country
circumstance? We thus have lines of richly manured                       alone, very many (probably several hundred) square
land serving as channels of communication across                         miles are covered by one mass of these prickly
wide districts.                                                          plants, and are impenetrable by man or beast. Over
  Near the Guardia we find the southern limit of two                     the undulating plains, where these great beds oc-
European plants, now become extraordinarily com-                         cur, nothing else can now live. Before their introduc-
mon. The fennel in great profusion covers the ditch-                     tion, however, the surface must have supported, as
banks in the neighbourhood of Buenos Ayres, Monte                        in other parts, a rank herbage. I doubt whether any
Video, and other towns. But the cardoon (Cynara                          case is on record of an invasion on so grand a scale
cardunculus) has a far wider range:* it occurs in these                  of one plant over the aborigines. As I have already
latitudes on both sides of the, Cordillera, across the                   said, I nowhere saw the cardoon south of the Salado;
*M. A. d’Orbigny (vol. i. p. 474) says that the cardoon and arti-        but it is probable that in proportion as that country
choke are both found wild. Dr. Hooker (Botanical Magazine, vol.          becomes inhabited, the cardoon will extend its lim-
lv. p. 2862), has described a variety of the Cynara from this part
of South America under the name of inermis. He states that               its. The case is different with the giant thistle (with
botanists are now generally agreed that the cardoon and the ar-          variegated leaves) of the Pampas, for I met with it in
tichoke are varieties of one plant. I may add, that an intelligent
farmer assured me that he had observed in a deserted garden              the valley of the Sauce. According to the principles
some artichokes changing into the common cardoon. Dr. Hooker             so well laid down by Mr. Lyell, few countries have
believes that Head’s vivid description of the thistle of the Pam-
pas applies to the cardoon, but this is a mistake. Captain Head          undergone more remarkable changes, since the year
referred to the plant, which I have mentioned a few lines lower          1535, when the first colonist of La Plata landed with
down, under the title of giant thistle. Whether it is a true thistle I
do not know; but it is quite different from the cardoon; and more        seventy-two horses. The countless herds of horses,
like a thistle properly so called.
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                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
cattle, and sheep, not only have altered the whole         and for the success of the “most just of all wars, be-
aspect of the vegetation, but they have almost ban-        cause against barbarians.” This expression, it must
ished the guanaco, deer and ostrich. Numberless            be confessed, is very natural, for till lately, neither
other changes must likewise have taken place; the          man, woman nor horse, was safe from the attacks of
wild pig in some parts probably replaces the peccari;      the Indians. We had a long day’s ride over the same
packs of wild dogs may be heard howling on the             rich green plain, abounding with various flocks, and
wooded banks of the less-frequented streams; and           with here and there a solitary estancia, and its one
the common cat, altered into a large and fierce ani-       ombu tree. In the evening it rained heavily: on arriv-
mal, inhabits rocky hills. As M. d’Orbigny has re-         ing at a posthouse we were told by the owner, that if
marked, the increase in numbers of the carrion-vul-        we had not a regular passport we must pass on, for
ture, since the introduction of the domestic animals,      there were so many robbers he would trust no one.
must have been infinitely great; and we have given         When he read, however, my passport, which began
reasons for believing that they have extended their        with “El Naturalista Don Carlos,” his respect and ci-
southern range. No doubt many plants, besides the          vility were as unbounded as his suspicions had been
cardoon and fennel, are naturalized; thus the islands      before. What a naturalist might be, neither he nor his
near the mouth of the Parana, are thickly clothed with     countrymen, I suspect, had any idea; but probably
peach and orange trees, springing from seeds car-          my title lost nothing of its value from that cause.
ried there by the waters of the river.                       September 20th. — We arrived by the middle of
  While changing horses at the Guardia several             the day at Buenos Ayres. The outskirts of the city
people questioned us much about the army, — I              looked quite pretty, with the agave hedges, and
never saw anything like the enthusiasm for Rosas,          groves of olive, peach and willow trees, all just

                                                         134
                                                         Charles Darwin
throwing out their fresh green leaves. I rode to the                 The great corral, where the animals are kept for
house of Mr. Lumb, an English merchant, to whose                   slaughter to supply food to this beef-eating popula-
kindness and hospitality, during my stay in the coun-              tion, is one of the spectacles best worth seeing. The
try, I was greatly indebted.                                       strength of the horse as compared to that of the bul-
  The city of Buenos Ayres is large;* and I should                 lock is quite astonishing: a man on horseback hav-
think one of the most regular in the world. Every                  ing thrown his lazo round the horns of a beast, can
street is at right angles to the one it crosses, and the           drag it anywhere he chooses. The animal ploughing
parallel ones being equidistant, the houses are col-               up the ground with outstretched legs, in vain efforts
lected into solid squares of equal dimensions, which               to resist the force, generally dashes at full speed to
are called quadras. On the other hand, the houses                  one side; but the horse immediately turning to re-
themselves are hollow squares; all the rooms open-                 ceive the shock, stands so firmly that the bullock is
ing into a neat little courtyard. They are generally               almost thrown down, and it is surprising that their
only one story high, with flat roofs, which are fitted             necks are not broken. The struggle is not, however,
with seats and are much frequented by the inhabit-                 one of fair strength; the horse’s girth being matched
ants in summer. In the centre of the town is the Plaza,            against the bullock’s extended neck. In a similar
where the public offices, fortress, cathedral, etc.,               manner a man can hold the wildest horse, if caught
stand. Here also, the old viceroys, before the revolu-             with the lazo, just behind the ears. When the bullock
tion, had their palaces. The general assemblage of                 has been dragged to the spot where it is to be slaugh-
buildings possesses considerable architectural                     tered, the matador with great caution cuts the ham-
beauty, although none individually can boast of any.               strings. Then is given the death bellow; a noise more
*It is said to contain 60,000 inhabitants. Monte Video, the sec-   expressive of fierce agony than any I know. I have
ond town of importance on the banks of the Plata, has 15,000.
                                                               135
                                           The Voyage of the Beagle
often distinguished it from a long distance, and have
always known that the struggle was then drawing to
                                                                CHAPTER VII
a close. The whole sight is horrible and revolting:
the ground is almost made of bones; and the horses            BUENOS AYRES AND ST. FE
and riders are drenched with gore.
                                                            Excursion to St. Fe — Thistle Beds — Habits of the
                                                          Bizcacha —Little Owl — Saline Streams — Level
                                                          Plain — Mastodon — St. Fe — Change in Landscape
                                                          — Geology — Tooth of extinct Horse — Relation of
                                                          the Fossil and recent Quadrupeds of North and South
                                                          America — Effects of a great Drought — Parana —
                                                          Habits of the Jaguar — Scissor-beak — Kingfisher,
                                                          Parrot, and Scissor-tail — Revolution — Buenos
                                                          Ayres State of Government.


                                                            SEPTEMBER 27th. — In the evening I set out on an
                                                          excursion to St. Fe, which is situated nearly three
                                                          hundred English miles from Buenos Ayres, on the
                                                          banks of the Parana. The roads in the neighbourhood
                                                          of the city after the rainy weather, were extraordi-
                                                          narily bad. I should never have thought it possible

                                                        136
                                                  Charles Darwin
for a bullock waggon to have crawled along: as it              September 28th. — We passed the small town of
was, they scarcely went at the rate of a mile an hour,       Luxan where there is a wooden bridge over the river
and a man was kept ahead, to survey the best line            — a most unusual convenience in this country. We
for making the attempt. The bullocks were terribly           passed also Areco. The plains appeared level, but
jaded: it is a great mistake to suppose that with im-        were not so in fact; for in various places the horizon
proved roads, and an accelerated rate of travelling,         was distant. The estancias are here wide apart; for
the sufferings of the animals increase in the same           there is little good pasture, owing to the land being
proportion. We passed a train of waggons and a               covered by beds either of an acrid clover, or of the
troop of beasts on their road to Mendoza. The dis-           great thistle. The latter, well known from the ani-
tance is about 580 geographical miles, and the jour-         mated description given by Sir F. Head, were at this
ney is generally performed in fifty days. These              time of the year two-thirds grown; in some parts they
waggons are very long, narrow, and thatched with             were as high as the horse’s back, but in others they
reeds; they have only two wheels, the diameter of            had not yet sprung up, and the ground was bare and
which in some cases is as much as ten feet. Each is          dusty as on a turnpike-road. The clumps were of the
drawn by six bullocks, which are urged on by a goad          most brilliant green, and they made a pleasing min-
at least twenty feet long: this is suspended from            iature-likeness of broken forest land. When the
within the roof; for the wheel bullocks a smaller one        thistles are full grown, the great beds are impen-
is kept; and for the intermediate pair, a point projects     etrable, except by a few tracts, as intricate as those in
at right angles from the middle of the long one.             a labyrinth. These are only known to the robbers,
  The whole apparatus looked like some implement             who at this season inhabit them, and sally forth at
of war.                                                      night to rob and cut throats with impunity. Upon

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                                                  The Voyage of the Beagle
asking at a house whether robbers were numerous, I                 guay: yet in this province there are plains which ap-
was answered, “The thistles are not up yet;” — the                 pear admirably adapted to its habits. The Uruguay
meaning of which reply was not at first very obvi-                 has formed an insuperable obstacle to its migration:
ous. There is little interest in passing over these                although the broader barrier of the Parana has been
tracts, for they are inhabited by few animals or birds,            passed, and the bizcacha is common in Entre Rios,
excepting the bizcacha and its friend the little owl.              the province between these two great rivers. Near
  The bizcacha* is well known to form a prominent                  Buenos Ayres these animals are exceedingly com-
feature in the zoology of the Pampas. It is found as               mon. Their most favourite resort appears to be those
far south as the Rio Negro, in lat. 41 degs., but not              parts of the plain which during one-half of the year
beyond. It cannot, like the agouti, subsist on the grav-           are covered with giant thistles, to the exclusion of
elly and desert plains of Patagonia, but prefers a                 other plants. The Gauchos affirm that it lives on roots;
clayey or sandy soil, which produces a different and               which, from the great strength of its gnawing teeth,
more abundant vegetation. Near Mendoza, at the foot                and the kind of places frequented by it, seems prob-
of the Cordillera, it occurs in close neighbourhood                able. In the evening the bizcachas come out in num-
with the allied alpine species. It is a very curious               bers, and quietly sit at the mouths of their burrows
circumstance in its geographical distribution, that it             on their haunches. At such times they are very tame,
has never been seen, fortunately for the inhabitants               and a man on horseback passing by seems only to
of Banda Oriental, to the eastward of the river Uru-               present an object for their grave contemplation. They
*The bizcacha (Lagostomus trichodactylus) somewhat re-             run very awkwardly, and when running out of dan-
sembles a large rabbit, but with bigger gnawing teeth and          ger, from their elevated tails and short front legs
a long tail; it has, however, only three toes behind, like the
                                                                   much resemble great rats. Their flesh, when cooked,
agouti. During the last three or four years the skins of these
animals have been sent to England for the sake of the fur.         is very white and good, but it is seldom used.
                                                                 138
                                                  Charles Darwin
  The bizcacha has one very singular habit; namely,          extraordinary Australian bird, the Calodera
dragging every hard object to the mouth of its bur-          maculata, which makes an elegant vaulted passage
row: around each group of holes many bones of                of twigs for playing in, and which collects near the
cattle, stones, thistle-stalks, hard lumps of earth, dry     spot, land and sea-shells, bones and the feathers of
dung, etc., are collected into an irregular heap, which      birds, especially brightly coloured ones. Mr. Gould,
frequently amounts to as much as a wheelbarrow               who has described these facts, informs me, that the
would contain. I was credibly informed that a gentle-        natives, when they lose any hard object, search the
man, when riding on a dark night, dropped his                playing passages, and he has known a tobacco-pipe
watch; he returned in the morning, and by searching          thus recovered.
the neighbourhood of every bizcacha hole on the line           The little owl (Athene cunicularia), which has been
of road, as he expected, he soon found it. This habit        so often mentioned, on the plains of Buenos Ayres
of picking up whatever may be lying on the ground            exclusively inhabits the holes of the bizcacha; but in
anywhere near its habitation, must cost much                 Banda Oriental it is its own workman. During the
trouble. For what purpose it is done, I am quite un-         open day, but more especially in the evening, these
able to form even the most remote conjecture: it can-        birds may be seen in every direction standing fre-
not be for defence, because the rubbish is chiefly           quently by pairs on the hillock near their burrows. If
placed above the mouth of the burrow, which enters           disturbed they either enter the hole, or, uttering a
the ground at a very small inclination. No doubt             shrill harsh cry, move with a remarkably undulatory
there must exist some good reason; but the inhabit-          flight to a short distance, and then turning round,
ants of the country are quite ignorant of it. The only       steadily gaze at their pursuer. Occasionally in the
fact which I know analogous to it, is the habit of that      evening they may be heard hooting. I found in the

                                                           139
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
stomachs of two which I opened the remains of mice,          29th and 30th. — We continued to ride over plains
and I one day saw a small snake killed and carried         of the same character. At San Nicolas I first saw the
away. It is said that snakes are their common prey         noble river of the Parana. At the foot of the cliff on
during the daytime. I may here mention, as showing         which the town stands, some large vessels were at
on what various kinds of food owls subsist, that a         anchor. Before arriving at Rozario, we crossed the
species killed among the islets of the Chonos Archi-       Saladillo, a stream of fine clear running water, but
pelago, had its stomach full of good-sized crabs. In       too saline to drink. Rozario is a large town built on a
India* there is a fishing genus of owls, which like-       dead level plain, which forms a cliff about sixty feet
wise catches crabs.                                        high over the Parana. The river here is very broad,
  In the evening we crossed the Rio Arrecife on a          with many islands, which are low and wooded, as is
simple raft made of barrels lashed together, and slept     also the opposite shore. The view would resemble
at the post-house on the other side. I this day paid       that of a great lake, if it were not for the linear-shaped
horse-hire for thirty-one leagues; and although the        islets, which alone give the idea of running water.
sun was glaring hot I was but little fatigued. When        The cliffs are the most picturesque part; sometimes
Captain Head talks of riding fifty leagues a day, I do     they are absolutely perpendicular, and of a red
not imagine the distance is equal to 150 English           colour; at other times in large broken masses, cov-
miles. At all events, the thirty-one leagues was only      ered with cacti and mimosa-trees. The real grandeur,
76 miles in a straight line, and in an open country I      however, of an immense river like this, is derived
should think four additional miles for turnings            from reflecting how important a means of commu-
would be a sufficient allowance.                           nication and commerce it forms between one nation
                                                           and another; to what a distance it travels, and from
*Journal of Asiatic Soc., vol. v. p. 363.

                                                         140
                                                 Charles Darwin
how vast a territory it drains the great body of fresh      searching for fossil bones. Besides a perfect tooth of
water which flows past your feet.                           the Toxodon, and many scattered bones, I found two
  For many leagues north and south of San Nicolas           immense skeletons near each other, projecting in bold
and Rozario, the country is really level. Scarcely any-     relief from the perpendicular cliff of the Parana. They
thing which travellers have written about its extreme       were, however, so completely decayed, that I could
flatness, can be considered as exaggeration. Yet I          only bring away small fragments of one of the great
could never find a spot where, by slowly turning            molar teeth; but these are sufficient to show that the
round, objects were not seen at greater distances in        remains belonged to a Mastodon, probably to the
some directions than in others; and this manifestly         same species with that, which formerly must have
proves inequality in the plain. At sea, a person’s eye      inhabited the Cordillera in Upper Peru in such great
being six feet above the surface of the water, his ho-      numbers. The men who took me in the canoe, said
rizon is two miles and four-fifths distant. In like         they had long known of these skeletons, and had of-
manner, the more level the plain, the more nearly           ten wondered how they had got there: the necessity
does the horizon approach within these narrow lim-          of a theory being felt, they came to the conclusion that,
its; and this, in my opinion, entirely destroys that        like the bizcacha, the mastodon was formerly a bur-
grandeur which one would have imagined that a vast          rowing animal! In the evening we rode another stage,
level plain would have possessed.                           and crossed the Monge, another brackish stream, bear-
  October 1st. - We started by moonlight and arrived        ing the dregs of the washings of the Pampas.
at the Rio Tercero by sunrise. The river is also called       October 2nd. — We passed through Corunda,
the Saladillo, and it deserves the name, for the water      which, from the luxuriance of its gardens, was one
is brackish. I stayed here the greater part of the day,     of the prettiest villages I saw. From this point to St.

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                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
Fe the road is not very safe. The western side of the        ary between the two places, and that the character of
Parana northward, ceases to be inhabited; and hence          the country is nearly similar, the difference was much
the Indians sometimes come down thus far, and                greater than I should have expected.
waylay travellers. The nature of the country also              October 3rd and 4th. — I was confined for these
favours this, for instead of a grassy plain, there is an     two days to my bed by a headache. A good-natured
open woodland, composed of low prickly mimosas.              old woman, who attended me, wished me to try
We passed some houses that had been ransacked                many odd remedies. A common practice is, to bind
and since deserted; we saw also a spectacle, which           an orange-leaf or a bit of black plaster to each temple:
my guides viewed with high satisfaction; it was the          and a still more general plan is, to split a bean into
skeleton of an Indian with the dried skin hanging on         halves, moisten them, and place one on each temple,
the bones, suspended to the branch of a tree.                where they will easily adhere. It is not thought proper
  In the morning we arrived at St. Fe. I was surprised       ever to remove the beans or plaster, but to allow them
to observe how great a change of climate a differ-           to drop off, and sometimes, if a man, with patches
ence of only three degrees of latitude between this          on his head, is asked, what is the matter? he will an-
place and Buenos Ayres had caused. This was evi-             swer, “I had a headache the day before yesterday.”
dent from the dress and complexion of the men —              Many of the remedies used by the people of the coun-
from the increased size of the ombu-trees — the num-         try are ludicrously strange, but too disgusting to be
ber of new cacti and other plants —and especially            mentioned. One of the least nasty is to kill and cut
from the birds. In the course of an hour I remarked          open two puppies and bind them on each side of a
half-a-dozen birds, which I had never seen at Buenos         broken limb. Little hairless dogs are in great request
Ayres. Considering that there is no natural bound-           to sleep at the feet of invalids.

                                                           142
                                                   Charles Darwin
  St. Fe is a quiet little town, and is kept clean and in     resentatives, ministers, a standing army, and gover-
good order. The governor, Lopez, was a common                 nors: so it is no wonder that they have their revolu-
soldier at the time of the revolution; but has now            tions. At some future day this must be one of the
been seventeen years in power. This stability of gov-         richest countries of La Plata. The soil is varied and
ernment is owing to his tyrannical habits; for tyranny        productive; and its almost insular form gives it two
seems as yet better adapted to these countries than           grand lines of communication by the rivers Parana
republicanism. The governor’s favourite occupation            and Uruguay.
is hunting Indians: a short time since he slaughtered
forty-eight, and sold the children at the rate of three           I was delayed here five days, and employed my-
or four pounds apiece.                                        self in examining the geology of the surrounding
  October 5th. — We crossed the Parana to St. Fe              country, which was very interesting. We here see at
Bajada, a town on the opposite shore. The passage             the bottom of the cliffs, beds containing sharks’ teeth
took some hours, as the river here consisted of a laby-       and sea-shells of extinct species, passing above into
rinth of small streams, separated by low wooded is-           an indurated marl, and from that into the red clayey
lands. I had a letter of introduction to an old               earth of the Pampas, with its calcareous concretions
Catalonian Spaniard, who treated me with the most             and the bones of terrestrial quadrupeds. This verti-
uncommon hospitality. The Bajada is the capital of            cal section clearly tells us of a large bay of pure salt-
Entre Rios. In 1825 the town contained 6000 inhabit-          water, gradually encroached on, and at last converted
ants, and the province 30,000; yet, few as the inhabit-       into the bed of a muddy estuary, into which floating
ants are, no province has suffered more from bloody           carcasses were swept. At Punta Gorda, in Banda
and desperate revolutions. They boast here of rep-            Oriental, I found an alternation of the Pampaean

                                                            143
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
estuary deposit, with a limestone containing some           there are upraised beds of sea-shells of existing spe-
of the same extinct sea-shells; and this shows either       cies, which also proves that the period of elevation
a change in the former currents, or more probably           of the Pampas was within the recent period.
an oscillation of level in the bottom of the ancient          In the Pampaean deposit at the Bajada I found the
estuary. Until lately, my reasons for considering the       osseous armour of a gigantic armadillo-like animal,
Pampaean formation to be an estuary deposit were,           the inside of which, when the earth was removed,
its general appearance, its position at the mouth of        was like a great cauldron; I found also teeth of the
the existing great river the Plata, and the presence of     Toxodon and Mastodon, and one tooth of a Horse,
so many bones of terrestrial quadrupeds: but now            in the same stained and decayed state. This latter
Professor Ehrenberg has had the kindness to exam-           tooth greatly interested me,* and I took scrupulous
ine for me a little of the red earth, taken from low        care in ascertaining that it had been embedded con-
down in the deposit, close to the skeletons of the          temporaneously with the other remains; for I was
mastodon, and he finds in it many infusoria, partly         not then aware that amongst the fossils from Bahia
salt-water and partly fresh-water forms, with the lat-      Blanca there was a horse’s tooth hidden in the ma-
ter rather preponderating; and therefore, as he re-         trix: nor was it then known with certainty that the
marks, the water must have been brackish. M. A.             remains of horses are common in North America. Mr.
d’Orbigny found on the banks of the Parana, at the          Lyell has lately brought from the United States a
height of a hundred feet, great beds of an estuary          tooth of a horse; and it is an interesting fact, that Pro-
shell, now living a hundred miles lower down nearer         fessor Owen could find in no species, either fossil or
the sea; and I found similar shells at a less height on     recent, a slight but peculiar curvature characterizing
the banks of the Uruguay; this shows that just before
                                                            *I need hardly state here that there is good evidence
the Pampas was slowly elevated into dry land, the           against any horse living in America at the time of Colum-
water covering it was brackish. Below Buenos Ayres          bus.
                                                          144
                                                              Charles Darwin
it, until he thought of comparing it with my specimen                   land presents an obstacle to the migration of spe-
found here: he has named this American horse Equus                      cies, by affecting the climate, and by forming, with
curvidens. Certainly it is a marvellous fact in the his-                the exception of some valleys and of a fringe of low
tory of the Mammalia, that in South America a native                    land on the coast, a broad barrier; we shall then have
horse should have lived and disappeared, to be suc-                     the two zoological provinces of North and South
ceeded in after-ages by the countless herds descended                   America strongly contrasted with each other. Some
from the few introduced with the Spanish colonists!                     few species alone have passed the barrier, and may
   The existence in South America of a fossil horse, of                 be considered as wanderers from the south, such as
the mastodon, possibly of an elephant,* and of a hol-                   the puma, opossum, kinkajou, and peccari. South
low-horned ruminant, discovered by MM. Lund and                         America is characterized by possessing many pecu-
Clausen in the caves of Brazil, are highly interesting                  liar gnawers, a family of monkeys, the llama, peccari,
facts with respect to the geographical distribution of                  tapir, opossums, and, especially, several genera of
animals. At the present time, if we divide America,                     Edentata, the order which includes the sloths, ant-
not by the Isthmus of Panama, but by the southern                       eaters, and armadilloes. North America, on the other
part of Mexico** in lat. 20 degs., where the great table-               hand, is characterized (putting on one side a few
*Cuvier. Ossemens Fossils, tom. i. p. 158.                              wandering species) by numerous peculiar gnawers,
**This is the geographical division followed by Lichtenstein,           and by four genera (the ox, sheep, goat, and ante-
Swainson, Erichson, and Richardson. The section from Vera Cruz
to Acapulco, given by Humboldt in the Polit. Essay on Kingdom           lope) of hollow-horned ruminants, of which great
of N. Spain will show how immense a barrier the Mexican table-          division South America is not known to possess a
land forms. Dr. Richardson, in his admirable Report on the Zool-        single species. Formerly, but within the period when
ogy of N. America read before the Brit. Assoc. 1836 (p. 157),
talking of the identification of a Mexican animal with the              most of the now existing shells were living, North
Synetheres prehensilis, says, “We do not know with what propri-         America possessed, besides hollow-horned rumi-
ety, but if correct, it is, if not a solitary instance, at least very
                                                                        nants, the elephant, mastodon, horse, and three gen-
nearly so, of a rodent animal being common to North and South
America.”
                                                                    145
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
era of Edentata, namely, the Megatherium,                     of the present zoological separation of North and
Megalonyx, and Mylodon. Within nearly this same               South America. The South American character of the
period (as proved by the shells at Bahia Blanca) South        West Indian mammals* seems to indicate that this
America possessed, as we have just seen, a mast-              archipelago was formerly united to the southern con-
odon, horse, hollow-horned ruminant, and the same             tinent, and that it has subsequently been an area of
three genera (as well as several others) of the               subsidence.
Edentata. Hence it is evident that North and South              When America, and especially North America,
America, in having within a late geological period            possessed its elephants, mastodons, horse, and hol-
these several genera in common, were much more                low-horned ruminants, it was much more closely
closely related in the character of their terrestrial in-     related in its zoological characters to the temperate
habitants than they now are. The more I reflect on            parts of Europe and Asia than it now is. As the re-
this case, the more interesting it appears: I know of         mains of these genera are found on both sides of
no other instance where we can almost mark the pe-            Behring’s Straits** and on the plains of Siberia, we
riod and manner of the splitting up of one great re-          are led to look to the north-western side of North
gion into two well-characterized zoological prov-             *See Dr. Richardson’s Report, p. 157; also L’Institut, 1837,
inces. The geologist, who is fully impressed with the         p. 253. Cuvier says the kinkajou is found in the larger
vast oscillations of level which have affected the            Antilles, but this is doubtful. M. Gervais states that the Di-
                                                              delphis crancrivora is found there. It is certain that the West
earth’s crust within late periods, will not fear to           Indies possess some mammifers peculiar to themselves.
speculate on the recent elevation of the Mexican plat-        A tooth of a mastadon has been brought from Bahama;
                                                              Edin. New Phil. Journ., 1826, p. 395.
form, or, more probably, on the recent submergence
                                                              **See the admirable Appendix by Dr. Buckland to
of land in the West Indian Archipelago, as the cause          Beechey’s Voyage; also the writings of Chamisso in
                                                              Kotzebue’s Voyage.
                                                            146
                                                    Charles Darwin
America as the former point of communication be-               thistles, failed; the brooks were dried up, and the
tween the Old and so-called New World. And as so               whole country assumed the appearance of a dusty
many species, both living and extinct, of these same           high road. This was especially the case in the north-
genera inhabit and have inhabited the Old World, it            ern part of the province of Buenos Ayres and the
seems most probable that the North American el-                southern part of St. Fe. Very great numbers of birds,
ephants, mastodons, horse, and hollow-horned ru-               wild animals, cattle, and horses perished from the
minants migrated, on land since submerged near                 want of food and water. A man told me that the deer*
Behring’s Straits, from Siberia into North America,            used to come into his courtyard to the well, which
and thence, on land since submerged in the West                he had been obliged to dig to supply his own family
Indies, into South America, where for a time they              with water; and that the partridges had hardly
mingled with the forms characteristic of that south-           strength to fly away when pursued. The lowest esti-
ern continent, and have since become extinct.
                                                               *In Captain Owen’s Surveying Voyage (vol. ii. p. 274) there
                                                               is a curious account of the effects of a drought on the
  While travelling through the country, I received             elephants, at Benguela (west coast of Africa). “A number
                                                               of these animals had some time since entered the town,
several vivid descriptions of the effects of a late great      in a body, to possess themselves of the wells, not being
drought; and the account of this may throw some                able to procure any water in the country. The inhabitants
light on the cases where vast numbers of animals of            mustered, when a desperate conflict ensued, which ter-
                                                               minated in the ultimate discomfiture of the invaders, but
all kinds have been embedded together. The period              not until they had killed one man, and wounded several
included between the years 1827 and 1830 is called             others.” The town is said to have a population of nearly
                                                               three thousand! Dr. Malcolmson informs me that, during a
the “gran seco,” or the great drought. During this
                                                               great drought in India, the wild animals entered the tents
time so little rain fell, that the vegetation, even to the     of some troops at Ellore, and that a hare drank out of a
                                                               vessel held by the adjutant of the regiment.
                                                             147
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
mation of the loss of cattle in the province of Buenos     up the muddy banks, and thus were drowned. The
Ayres alone, was taken at one million head. A pro-         arm of the river which runs by San Pedro was so full
prietor at San Pedro had previously to these years         of putrid carcasses, that the master of a vessel told
20,000 cattle; at the end not one remained. San Pedro      me that the smell rendered it quite impassable. With-
is situated in the middle of the finest country; and       out doubt several hundred thousand animals thus
even now abounds again with animals; yet during            perished in the river: their bodies when putrid were
the latter part of the “gran seco,” live cattle were       seen floating down the stream; and many in all prob-
brought in vessels for the consumption of the inhab-       ability were deposited in the estuary of the Plata.
itants. The animals roamed from their estancias, and,      All the small rivers became highly saline, and this
wandering far southward, were mingled together in          caused the death of vast numbers in particular spots;
such multitudes, that a government commission was          for when an animal drinks of such water it does not
sent from Buenos Ayres to settle the disputes of the       recover. Azara describes* the fury of the wild horses
owners. Sir Woodbine Parish informed me of another         on a similar occasion, rushing into the marshes, those
and very curious source of dispute; the ground be-         which arrived first being overwhelmed and crushed
ing so long dry, such quantities of dust were blown        by those which followed. He adds that more than
about, that in this open country the landmarks be-         once he has seen the carcasses of upwards of a thou-
came obliterated, and people could not tell the lim-       sand wild horses thus destroyed. I noticed that the
its of their estates.                                      smaller streams in the Pampas were paved with a
  I was informed by an eye-witness that the cattle in      breccia of bones but this probably is the effect of a
herds of thousands rushed into the Parana, and be-         gradual increase, rather than of the destruction at any
ing exhausted by hunger they were unable to crawl
                                                           *Travels, vol. i. p. 374.
                                                         148
                                                     Charles Darwin
one period. Subsequently to the drought of 1827 to              In the memory of the master several large ones had
1832, a very rainy season followed which caused                 disappeared, and others again had been formed and
great floods. Hence it is almost certain that some              protected by vegetation. They are composed of
thousands of the skeletons were buried by the de-               muddy sand, without even the smallest pebble, and
posits of the very next year. What would be the opin-           were then about four feet above the level of the river;
ion of a geologist, viewing such an enormous col-               but during the periodical floods they are inundated.
lection of bones, of all kinds of animals and of all            They all present one character; numerous willows
ages, thus embedded in one thick earthy mass?                   and a few other trees are bound together by a great
Would he not attribute it to a flood having swept               variety of creeping plants, thus forming a thick
over the surface of the land, rather than to the com-           jungle. These thickets afford a retreat for capybaras
mon order of things?*                                           and jaguars. The fear of the latter animal quite de-
  October 12th. — I had intended to push my excur-              stroyed all pleasure in scrambling through the
sion further, but not being quite well, I was com-              woods. This evening I had not proceeded a hundred
pelled to return by a balandra, or one-masted vessel            yards, before finding indubitable signs of the recent
of about a hundred tons’ burden, which was bound                presence of the tiger, I was obliged to come back.
to Buenos Ayres. As the weather was not fair, we                On every island there were tracks; and as on the
moored early in the day to a branch of a tree on one            former excursion “el rastro de los Indios” had been
of the islands. The Parana is full of islands, which            the subject of conversation, so in this was “el rastro
undergo a constant round of decay and renovation.               del tigre.” The wooded banks of the great rivers ap-
                                                                pear to be the favourite haunts of the jaguar; but
*These droughts to a certain degree seem to be almost
periodical; I was told the dates of several others, and the     south of the Plata, I was told that they frequented
intervals were about fifteen years.
                                                              149
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
the reeds bordering lakes: wherever they are, they            It is said that they kill their prey by breaking their
seem to require water. Their common prey is the               necks. If driven from the carcass, they seldom return
capybara, so that it is generally said, where capyba-         to it. The Gauchos say that the jaguar, when wander-
ras are numerous there is little danger from the jag-         ing about at night, is much tormented by the foxes
uar. Falconer states that near the southern side of           yelping as they follow him. This is a curious coinci-
the mouth of the Plata there are many jaguars, and            dence with the fact which is generally affirmed of
that they chiefly live on fish; this account I have heard     the jackals accompanying, in a similarly officious
repeated. On the Parana they have killed many                 manner, the East Indian tiger. The jaguar is a noisy
wood-cutters, and have even entered vessels at night.         animal, roaring much by night, and especially be-
There is a man now living in the Bajada, who, com-            fore bad weather.
ing up from below when it was dark, was seized on               One day, when hunting on the banks of the Uru-
the deck; he escaped, however, with the loss of the           guay, I was shown certain trees, to which these ani-
use of one arm. When the floods drive these animals           mals constantly recur for the purpose, as it is said,
from the islands, they are most dangerous. I was told         of sharpening their claws. I saw three well-known
that a few years since a very large one found its way         trees; in front, the bark was worn smooth, as if by the
into a church at St. Fe: two padres entering one after        breast of the animal, and on each side there were
the other were killed, and a third, who came to see           deep scratches, or rather grooves, extending in an
what was the matter, escaped with difficulty. The             oblique line, nearly a yard in length. The scars were
beast was destroyed by being shot from a corner of            of different ages. A common method of ascertaining
the building which was unroofed. They commit also             whether a jaguar is in the neighbourhood is to ex-
at these times great ravages among cattle and horses.         amine these trees. I imagine this habit of the jaguar

                                                            150
                                                    Charles Darwin
is exactly similar to one which may any day be seen            ter. This same fish has the power of firmly catching
in the common cat, as with outstretched legs and ex-           hold of any object, such as the blade of an oar or the
serted claws it scrapes the leg of a chair; and I have         fishing-line, with the strong spine both of its pecto-
heard of young fruit-trees in an orchard in England            ral and dorsal fin. In the evening the weather was
having been thus much injured. Some such habit                 quite tropical, the thermometer standing at 79 degs.
must also be common to the puma, for on the bare               Numbers of fireflies were hovering about, and the
hard soil of Patagonia I have frequently seen scores           musquitoes were very troublesome. I exposed my
so deep that no other animal could have made them.             hand for five minutes, and it was soon black with
The object of this practice is, I believe, to tear off the     them; I do not suppose there could have been less
ragged points of their claws, and not, as the Gau-             than fifty, all busy sucking.
chos think, to sharpen them. The jaguar is killed,               October 15th. — We got under way and passed
without much difficulty, by the aid of dogs baying             Punta Gorda, where there is a colony of tame Indi-
and driving him up a tree, where he is despatched              ans from the province of Missiones. We sailed rap-
with bullets.                                                  idly down the current, but before sunset, from a silly
  Owing to bad weather we remained two days at                 fear of bad weather, we brought-to in a narrow arm
our moorings. Our only amusement was catching                  of the river. I took the boat and rowed some distance
fish for our dinner: there were several kinds, and all         up this creek. It was very narrow, winding, and deep;
good eating. A fish called the “armado” (a Silurus)            on each side a wall thirty or forty feet high, formed
is remarkable from a harsh grating noise which it              by trees intwined with creepers, gave to the canal a
makes when caught by hook and line, and which can              singularly gloomy appearance. I here saw a very
be distinctly heard when the fish is beneath the wa-           extraordinary bird, called the Scissor-beak

                                                             151
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
(Rhynchops nigra). It has short legs, web feet, ex-           per and shorter half of their scissor-like bills. This fact
tremely long-pointed wings, and is of about the size          I repeatedly saw, as, like swallows, they continued to
of a tern. The beak is flattened laterally, that is, in a     fly backwards and forwards close before me. Occa-
plane at right angles to that of a spoonbill or duck. It      sionally when leaving the surface of the water their
is as flat and elastic as an ivory paper-cutter, and the      flight was wild, irregular, and rapid; they then uttered
lower mandible, differing from every other bird, is           loud harsh cries. When these birds are fishing, the
an inch and a half longer than the upper. In a lake           advantage of the long primary feathers of their wings,
near Maldonado, from which the water had been                 in keeping them dry, is very evident. When thus em-
nearly drained, and which, in consequence, swarmed            ployed, their forms resemble the symbol by which
with small fry, I saw several of these birds, gener-          many artists represent marine birds. Their tails are
ally in small flocks, flying rapidly backwards and            much used in steering their irregular course.
forwards close to the surface of the lake. They kept             These birds are common far inland along the course
their bills wide open, and the lower mandible half            of the Rio Parana; it is said that they remain here
buried in the water. Thus skimming the surface, they          during the whole year, and breed in the marshes.
ploughed it in their course: the water was quite              During the day they rest in flocks on the grassy plains
smooth, and it formed a most curious spectacle to             at some distance from the water. Being at anchor, as
behold a flock, each bird leaving its narrow wake on          I have said, in one of the deep creeks between the
the mirror-like surface. In their flight they frequently      islands of the Parana, as the evening drew to a close,
twist about with extreme quickness, and dexterously           one of these scissor-beaks suddenly appeared. The
manage with their projecting lower mandible to                water was quite still, and many little fish were ris-
plough up small fish, which are secured by the up-            ing. The bird continued for a long time to skim the

                                                            152
                                                 Charles Darwin
surface, flying in its wild and irregular manner up         Its flight also, instead of being direct and rapid, like
and down the narrow canal, now dark with the grow-          the course of an arrow, is weak and undulatory, as
ing night and the shadows of the overhanging trees.         among the soft-billed birds. It utters a low note, like
At Monte Video, I observed that some large flocks           the clicking together of two small stones. A small green
during the day remained on the mud-banks at the             parrot (Conurus murinus), with a grey breast, appears
head of the harbour, in the same manner as on the           to prefer the tall trees on the islands to any other situ-
grassy plains near the Parana; and every evening            ation for its building-place. A number of nests are
they took flight seaward. From these facts I suspect        placed so close together as to form one great mass of
that the Rhynchops generally fishes by night, at            sticks. These parrots always live in flocks, and com-
which time many of the lower animals come most              mit great ravages on the corn-fields. I was told, that
abundantly to the surface. M. Lesson states that he         near Colonia 2500 were killed in the course of one
has seen these birds opening the shells of the mactrae      year. A bird with a forked tail, terminated by two long
buried in the sand-banks on the coast of Chile: from        feathers (Tyrannus savana), and named by the Span-
their weak bills, with the lower mandible so much           iards scissor-tail, is very common near Buenos Ayres:
projecting, their short legs and long wings, it is very     it commonly sits on a branch of the ombu tree, near a
improbable that this can be a general habit.                house, and thence takes a short flight in pursuit of
  In our course down the Parana, I observed only            insects, and returns to the same spot. When on the
three other birds, whose habits are worth mention-          wing it presents in its manner of flight and general
ing. One is a small kingfisher (Ceryle Americana); it       appearance a caricature-likeness of the common swal-
has a longer tail than the European species, and            low. It has the power of turning very shortly in the
hence does not sit in so stiff and upright a position.      air, and in so doing opens and shuts its tail, some-

                                                          153
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
times in a horizontal or lateral and sometimes in a        in this country. He professed a great liking to the
vertical direction, just like a pair of scissors.          English, but stoutly maintained that the battle of
  October 16th. — Some leagues below Rozario, the          Trafalgar was merely won by the Spanish captains
western shore of the Parana is bounded by perpen-          having been all bought over; and that the only really
dicular cliffs, which extend in a long line to below       gallant action on either side was performed by the
San Nicolas; hence it more resembles a sea-coast than      Spanish admiral. It struck me as rather characteris-
that of a fresh-water river. It is a great drawback to     tic, that this man should prefer his countrymen be-
the scenery of the Parana, that, from the soft nature      ing thought the worst of traitors, rather than unskilful
of its banks, the water is very muddy. The Uruguay,        or cowardly.
flowing through a granitic country, is much clearer;         18th and 19th. — We continued slowly to sail down
and where the two channels unite at the head of the        the noble stream: the current helped us but little. We
Plata, the waters may for a long distance be distin-       met, during our descent, very few vessels. One of
guished by their black and red colours. In the             the best gifts of nature, in so grand a channel of com-
evening, the wind being not quite fair, as usual we        munication, seems here wilfully thrown away — a
immediately moored, and the next day, as it blew           river in which ships might navigate from a temper-
rather freshly, though with a favouring current, the       ate country, as surprisingly abundant in certain pro-
master was much too indolent to think of starting.         ductions as destitute of others, to another possess-
At Bajada, he was described to me as “hombre muy           ing a tropical climate, and a soil which, according to
aflicto” — a man always miserable to get on; but cer-      the best of judges, M. Bonpland, is perhaps un-
tainly he bore all delays with admirable resignation.      equalled in fertility in any part of the world. How
He was an old Spaniard, and had been many years            different would have been the aspect of this river if

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                                                Charles Darwin
English colonists had by good fortune first sailed         sation with the commandant, I obtained permission
up the Plata! What noble towns would now have              to go the next day to General Rolor, who commanded
occupied its shores! Till the death of Francia, the        a division of the rebels on this side the capital. In the
Dictator of Paraguay, these two countries must re-         morning I rode to the encampment. The general, of-
main distinct, as if placed on opposite sides of the       ficers, and soldiers, all appeared, and I believe re-
globe. And when the old bloody-minded tyrant is            ally were, great villains. The general, the very
gone to his long account, Paraguay will be torn by         evening before he left the city, voluntarily went to
revolutions, violent in proportion to the previous         the Governor, and with his hand to his heart, pledged
unnatural calm. That country will have to learn, like      his word of honour that he at least would remain
every other South American state, that a republic          faithful to the last. The general told me that the city
cannot succeed till it contains a certain body of men      was in a state of close blockade, and that all he could
imbued with the principles of justice and honour.          do was to give me a passport to the commander-in-
  October 20th. — Being arrived at the mouth of the        chief of the rebels at Quilmes. We had therefore to
Parana, and as I was very anxious to reach Buenos          take a great sweep round the city, and it was with
Ayres, I went on shore at Las Conchas, with the in-        much difficulty that we procured horses. My recep-
tention of riding there. Upon landing, I found to my       tion at the encampment was quite civil, but I was
great surprise that I was to a certain degree a pris-      told it was impossible that I could be allowed to enter
oner. A violent revolution having broken out, all the      the city. I was very anxious about this, as I antici-
ports were laid under an embargo. I could not re-          pated the Beagle’s departure from the Rio Plata ear-
turn to my vessel, and as for going by land to the         lier than it took place. Having mentioned, however,
city, it was out of the question. After a long conver-     General Rosas’s obliging kindness to me when at the

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                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
Colorado, magic itself could not have altered circum-        country took arms. The city was then blockaded, no
stances quicker than did this conversation. I was in-        provisions, cattle or horses, were allowed to enter;
stantly told that though they could not give me a            besides this, there was only a little skirmishing, and
passport, if I chose to leave my guide and horses, I         a few men daily killed. The outside party well knew
might pass their sentinels. I was too glad to accept         that by stopping the supply of meat they would cer-
of this, and an officer was sent with me to give direc-      tainly be victorious. General Rosas could not have
tions that I should not be stopped at the bridge. The        known of this rising; but it appears to be quite con-
road for the space of a league was quite deserted. I         sonant with the plans of his party. A year ago he was
met one party of soldiers, who were satisfied by             elected governor, but he refused it, unless the Sala
gravely looking at an old passport: and at length I          would also confer on him extraordinary powers. This
was not a little pleased to find myself within the city.     was refused, and since then his party have shown
  This revolution was supported by scarcely any              that no other governor can keep his place. The war-
pretext of grievances: but in a state which, in the          fare on both sides was avowedly protracted till it
course of nine months (from February to October,             was possible to hear from Rosas. A note arrived a
1820), underwent fifteen changes in its government           few days after I left Buenos Ayres, which stated that
— each governor, according to the constitution, be-          the General disapproved of peace having been bro-
ing elected for three years — it would be very un-           ken, but that he thought the outside party had jus-
reasonable to ask for pretexts. In this case, a party of     tice on their side. On the bare reception of this, the
men — who, being attached to Rosas, were disgusted           Governor, ministers, and part of the military, to the
with the governor Balcarce — to the number of sev-           number of some hundreds, fled from the city. The
enty left the city, and with the cry of Rosas the whole      rebels entered, elected a new governor, and were

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                                                Charles Darwin
paid for their services to the number of 5500 men.
From these proceedings, it was clear that Rosas ulti-            CHAPTER VIII
mately would become the dictator: to the term king,
the people in this, as in other republics, have a par-               BANDA ORIENTAL
ticular dislike. Since leaving South America, we have                 AND PATAGONIA
heard that Rosas has been elected, with powers and
for a time altogether opposed to the constitutional
                                                             Excursion to Colonia del Sacramiento — Value of
principles of the republic.
                                                           an Estancia —Cattle, how counted — Singular Breed
                                                           of Oxen — Perforated Pebbles — Shepherd Dogs —
                                                           Horses broken-in, Gauchos riding — Character of
                                                           Inhabitants — Rio Plata — Flocks of Butterflies —
                                                           Aeronaut Spiders — Phosphorescence of the Sea —
                                                           Port Desire — Guanaco — Port St. Julian — Geology
                                                           of Patagonia — Fossil gigantic Animal — Types of
                                                           Organization constant — Change in the Zoology of
                                                           America — Causes of Extinction.


                                                             HAVING BEEN DELAYED for nearly a fortnight in the
                                                           city, I was glad to escape on board a packet bound
                                                           for Monte Video. A town in a state of blockade must
                                                           always be a disagreeable place of residence; in this

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                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
case moreover there were constant apprehensions                November 14th. — We left Monte Video in the af-
from robbers within. The sentinels were the worst of        ternoon. I intended to proceed to Colonia del
all; for, from their office and from having arms in         Sacramiento, situated on the northern bank of the
their hands, they robbed with a degree of authority         Plata and opposite to Buenos Ayres, and thence, fol-
which other men could not imitate.                          lowing up the Uruguay, to the village of Mercedes
  Our passage was a very long and tedious one. The          on the Rio Negro (one of the many rivers of this name
Plata looks like a noble estuary on the map; but is in      in South America), and from this point to return di-
truth a poor affair. A wide expanse of muddy water          rect to Monte Video. We slept at the house of my
has neither grandeur nor beauty. At one time of the         guide at Canelones. In the morning we rose early, in
day, the two shores, both of which are extremely low,       the hopes of being able to ride a good distance; but
could just be distinguished from the deck. On arriv-        it was a vain attempt, for all the rivers were flooded.
ing at Monte Video I found that the Beagle would            We passed in boats the streams of Canelones, St.
not sail for some time, so I prepared for a short ex-       Lucia, and San Jose, and thus lost much time. On a
cursion in this part of Banda Oriental. Everything          former excursion I crossed the Lucia near its mouth,
which I have said about the country near Maldonado          and I was surprised to observe how easily our horses,
is applicable to Monte Video; but the land, with the        although not used to swim, passed over a width of
one exception of the Green Mount 450 feet high, from        at least six hundred yards. On mentioning this at
which it takes its name, is far more level. Very little     Monte Video, I was told that a vessel containing
of the undulating grassy plain is enclosed; but near        some mountebanks and their horses, being wrecked
the town there are a few hedge-banks, covered with          in the Plata, one horse swam seven miles to the shore.
agaves, cacti, and fennel.                                  In the course of the day I was amused by the dexter-

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                                                 Charles Darwin
ity with which a Gaucho forced a restive horse to           Rio Rozario being flooded. It would not, however,
swim a river. He stripped off his clothes, and jump-        be of much consequence; for, although he had passed
ing on its back, rode into the water till it was out of     through some of the principal towns in Banda Ori-
its depth; then slipping off over the crupper, he           ental, his luggage consisted of two letters! The view
caught hold of the tail, and as often as the horse          from the house was pleasing; an undulating green
turned round the man frightened it back by splash-          surface, with distant glimpses of the Plata. I find that
ing water in its face. As soon as the horse touched         I look at this province with very different eyes from
the bottom on the other side, the man pulled him-           what I did upon my first arrival. I recollect I then
self on, and was firmly seated, bridle in hand, be-         thought it singularly level; but now, after galloping
fore the horse gained the bank. A naked man on a            over the Pampas, my only surprise is, what could
naked horse is a fine spectacle; I had no idea how          have induced me ever to call it level. The country is
well the two animals suited each other. The tail of a       a series of undulations, in themselves perhaps not
horse is a very useful appendage; I have passed a           absolutely great, but, as compared to the plains of
river in a boat with four people in it, which was fer-      St. Fe, real mountains. From these inequalities there
ried across in the same way as the Gaucho. If a man         is an abundance of small rivulets, and the turf is
and horse have to cross a broad river, the best plan        green and luxuriant.
is for the man to catch hold of the pommel or mane,           November 17th. — We crossed the Rozario, which
and help himself with the other arm.                        was deep and rapid, and passing the village of Colla,
  We slept and stayed the following day at the post         arrived at midday at Colonia del Sacramiento. The
of Cufre. In the evening the postman or letter-carrier      distance is twenty leagues, through a country cov-
arrived. He was a day after his time, owing to the          ered with fine grass, but poorly stocked with cattle

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                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
or inhabitants. I was invited to sleep at Colonia, and      erals are numbered (but not paid) in the United Prov-
to accompany on the following day a gentleman to            inces of La Plata than in the United Kingdom of Great
his estancia, where there were some limestone rocks.        Britain. These gentlemen have learned to like power,
The town is built on a stony promontory something           and do not object to a little skirmishing. Hence there
in the same manner as at Monte Video. It is strongly        are many always on the watch to create disturbance
fortified, but both fortifications and town suffered        and to overturn a government which as yet has never
much in the Brazilian war. It is very ancient; and the      rested on any staple foundation. I noticed, however,
irregularity of the streets, and the surrounding            both here and in other places, a very general interest
groves of old orange and peach trees, gave it a pretty      in the ensuing election for the President; and this
appearance. The church is a curious ruin; it was used       appears a good sign for the prosperity of this little
as a powder-magazine, and was struck by lightning           country. The inhabitants do not require much edu-
in one of the ten thousand thunder-storms of the Rio        cation in their representatives; I heard some men
Plata. Two-thirds of the building were blown away           discussing the merits of those for Colonia; and it was
to the very foundation; and the rest stands a shat-         said that, “although they were not men of business,
tered and curious monument of the united powers             they could all sign their names:” with this they
of lightning and gunpowder. In the evening I wan-           seemed to think every reasonable man ought to be
dered about the half-demolished walls of the town.          satisfied.
It was the chief seat of the Brazilian war; — a war           18th. — Rode with my host to his estancia, at the
most injurious to this country, not so much in its im-      Arroyo de San Juan. In the evening we took a ride
mediate effects, as in being the origin of a multitude      round the estate: it contained two square leagues and
of generals and all other grades of officers. More gen-     a half, and was situated in what is called a rincon;

                                                          160
                                                  Charles Darwin
that is, one side was fronted by the Plata, and the          is known: so that, one being lost out of ten thousand,
two others guarded by impassable brooks. There was           it is perceived by its absence from one of the tropillas.
an excellent port for little vessels, and an abundance       During a stormy night the cattle all mingle together;
of small wood, which is valuable as supplying fuel           but the next morning the tropillas separate as be-
to Buenos Ayres. I was curious to know the value of          fore; so that each animal must know its fellow out of
so complete an estancia. Of cattle there were 3000,          ten thousand others.
and it would well support three or four times that              On two occasions I met with in this province some
number; of mares 800, together with 150 broken-in            oxen of a very curious breed, called nata or niata.
horses, and 600 sheep. There was plenty of water             They appear externally to hold nearly the same rela-
and limestone, a rough house, excellent corrals, and         tion to other cattle, which bull or pug dogs do to
a peach orchard. For all this he had been offered 2000       other dogs. Their forehead is very short and broad,
Pounds, and he only wanted 500 Pounds additional,            with the nasal end turned up, and the upper lip much
and probably would sell it for less. The chief trouble       drawn back; their lower jaws project beyond the
with an estancia is driving the cattle twice a week to       upper, and have a corresponding upward curve;
a central spot, in order to make them tame, and to           hence their teeth are always exposed. Their nostrils
count them. This latter operation would be thought           are seated high up and are very open; their eyes
difficult, where there are ten or fifteen thousand head      project outwards. When walking they carry their
together. It is managed on the principle that the cattle     heads low, on a short neck; and their hinder legs are
invariably divide themselves into little troops of           rather longer compared with the front legs than is
from forty to one hundred. Each troop is recognized          usual. Their bare teeth, their short heads, and up-
by a few peculiarly marked animals, and its number

                                                           161
                                                  The Voyage of the Beagle
turned nostrils give them the most ludicrous self-                niata breed, characterizes, as I am informed by Dr.
confident air of defiance imaginable.                             Falconer, that great extinct ruminant of India, the
  Since my return, I have procured a skeleton head,               Sivatherium. The breed is very true; and a niata bull
through the kindness of my friend Captain Sulivan,                and cow invariably produce niata calves. A niata bull
R. N., which is now deposited in the College of Sur-              with a common cow, or the reverse cross, produces
geons.* Don F. Muniz, of Luxan, has kindly collected              offspring having an intermediate character, but with
for me all the information which he could respect-                the niata characters strongly displayed: according to
ing this breed. From his account it seems that about              Senor Muniz, there is the clearest evidence, contrary
eighty or ninety years ago, they were rare and kept               to the common belief of agriculturists in analogous
as curiosities at Buenos Ayres. The breed is univer-              cases, that the niata cow when crossed with a com-
sally believed to have originated amongst the Indi-               mon bull transmits her peculiarities more strongly
ans southward of the Plata; and that it was with them             than the niata bull when crossed with a common cow.
the commonest kind. Even to this day, those reared                When the pasture is tolerably long, the niata cattle
in the provinces near the Plata show their less civi-             feed with the tongue and palate as well as common
lized origin, in being fiercer than common cattle, and            cattle; but during the great droughts, when so many
in the cow easily deserting her first calf, if visited            animals perish, the niata breed is under a great dis-
too often or molested. It is a singular fact that an al-          advantage, and would be exterminated if not at-
most similar structure to the abnormal** one of the               tended to; for the common cattle, like horses, are able
*Mr. Waterhouse has drawn up a detailed description of            just to keep alive, by browsing with their lips on
this head, which I hope he will publish in some Journal.          twigs of trees and reeds; this the niatas cannot so
**A nearly similar abnormal, but I do not know whether            well do, as their lips do not join, and hence they are
hereditary, structure has been observed in the carp, and
likewise in the crocodile of the Ganges: Histoire des
                                                                  found to perish before the common cattle. This
Anomalies, par M. Isid. Geoffroy St. Hilaire, tom. i. p. 244.     strikes me as a good illustration of how little we are
                                                                162
                                                 Charles Darwin
able to judge from the ordinary habits of life, on what     mission to sleep at an estancia at which we happened
circumstances, occurring only at long intervals, the        to arrive. It was a very large estate, being ten leagues
rarity or extinction of a species may be determined.        square, and the owner is one of the greatest land-
  November 19th. — Passing the valley of Las Vacas,         owners in the country. His nephew had charge of it,
we slept at a house of a North American, who worked         and with him there was a captain in the army, who
a lime-kiln on the Arroyo de las Vivoras. In the morn-      the other day ran away from Buenos Ayres. Consid-
ing we rode to a protecting headland on the banks           ering their station, their conversation was rather
of the river, called Punta Gorda. On the way we tried       amusing. They expressed, as was usual, unbounded
to find a jaguar. There were plenty of fresh tracks,        astonishment at the globe being round, and could
and we visited the trees, on which they are said to         scarcely credit that a hole would, if deep enough,
sharpen their claws; but we did not succeed in dis-         come out on the other side. They had, however, heard
turbing one. From this point the Rio Uruguay pre-           of a country where there were six months of light
sented to our view a noble volume of water. From            and six of darkness, and where the inhabitants were
the clearness and rapidity of the stream, its appear-       very tall and thin! They were curious about the price
ance was far superior to that of its neighbour the          and condition of horses and cattle in England. Upon
Parana. On the opposite coast, several branches from        finding out we did not catch our animals with the
the latter river entered the Uruguay. As the sun was        lazo, they cried out, “Ah, then, you use nothing but
shining, the two colours of the waters could be seen        the bolas:” the idea of an enclosed country was quite
quite distinct.                                             new to them. The captain at last said, he had one
  In the evening we proceeded on our road towards           question to ask me, which he should be very much
Mercedes on the Rio Negro. At night we asked per-           obliged if I would answer with all truth. I trembled

                                                          163
                                           The Voyage of the Beagle
to think how deeply scientific it would be: it was,       The cardoon is as high as a horse’s back, but the Pam-
“Whether the ladies of Buenos Ayres were not the          pas thistle is often higher than the crown of the rider’s
handsomest in the world.” I replied, like a renegade,     head. To leave the road for a yard is out of the ques-
“Charmingly so.” He added, “I have one other ques-        tion; and the road itself is partly, and in some cases
tion: Do ladies in any other part of the world wear       entirely closed. Pasture, of course there is none; if
such large combs?” I solemnly assured him that they       cattle or horses once enter the bed, they are for the
did not. They were absolutely delighted. The cap-         time completely lost. Hence it is very hazardous to
tain exclaimed, “Look there! a man who has seen half      attempt to drive cattle at this season of the year; for
the world says it is the case; we always thought so,      when jaded enough to face the thistles, they rush
but now we know it.” My excellent judgment in             among them, and are seen no more. In these districts
combs and beauty procured me a most hospitable            there are very few estancias, and these few are situ-
reception; the captain forced me to take his bed, and     ated in the neighbourhood of damp valleys, where
he would sleep on his recado.                             fortunately neither of these overwhelming plants can
  21st. — Started at sunrise, and rode slowly during      exist. As night came on before we arrived at our
the whole day. The geological nature of this part of      journey’s end, we slept at a miserable little hovel
the province was different from the rest, and closely     inhabited by the poorest people. The extreme though
resembled that of the Pampas. In consequence, there       rather formal courtesy of our host and hostess, con-
were immense beds of the thistle, as well as of the       sidering their grade of life, was quite delightful.
cardoon: the whole country, indeed, may be called           November 22nd. — Arrived at an estancia on the
one great bed of these plants. The two sorts grow         Berquelo belonging to a very hospitable Englishman,
separate, each plant in company with its own kind.        to whom I had a letter of introduction from my friend

                                                        164
                                                Charles Darwin
Mr. Lumb. I stayed here three days. One morning I          of wood followed its course, and the horizon termi-
rode with my host to the Sierra del Pedro Flaco, about     nated in the distant undulations of the turf-plain.
twenty miles up the Rio Negro. Nearly the whole              When in this neighbourhood, I several times heard
country was covered with good though coarse grass,         of the Sierra de las Cuentas: a hill distant many miles
which was as high as a horse’s belly; yet there were       to the northward. The name signifies hill of beads. I
square leagues without a single head of cattle. The        was assured that vast numbers of little round stones,
province of Banda Oriental, if well stocked, would         of various colours, each with a small cylindrical hole,
support an astonishing number of animals, at present       are found there. Formerly the Indians used to col-
the annual export of hides from Monte Video                lect them, for the purpose of making necklaces and
amounts to three hundred thousand; and the home            bracelets — a taste, I may observe, which is common
consumption, from waste, is very considerable. An          to all savage nations, as well as to the most polished.
“estanciero” told me that he often had to send large       I did not know what to understand from this story,
herds of cattle a long journey to a salting establish-     but upon mentioning it at the Cape of Good Hope to
ment, and that the tired beasts were frequently            Dr. Andrew Smith, he told me that he recollected
obliged to be killed and skinned; but that he could        finding on the south-eastern coast of Africa, about
never persuade the Gauchos to eat of them, and ev-         one hundred miles to the eastward of St. John’s river,
ery evening a fresh beast was slaughtered for their        some quartz crystals with their edges blunted from
suppers! The view of the Rio Negro from the Sierra         attrition, and mixed with gravel on the sea-beach.
was more picturesque than any other which I saw in         Each crystal was about five lines in diameter, and
this province. The river, broad, deep, and rapid,          from an inch to an inch and a half in length. Many of
wound at the foot of a rocky precipitous cliff: a belt     them had a small canal extending from one extrem-

                                                         165
                                                 The Voyage of the Beagle
ity to the other, perfectly cylindrical, and of a size           in the sheep-pen; at no time is it allowed to associ-
that readily admitted a coarse thread or a piece of              ate with other dogs, or with the children of the fam-
fine catgut. Their colour was red or dull white. The             ily. The puppy is, moreover, generally castrated; so
natives were acquainted with this structure in crys-             that, when grown up, it can scarcely have any feel-
tals. I have mentioned these circumstances because,              ings in common with the rest of its kind. From this
although no crystallized body is at present known                education it has no wish to leave the flock, and just
to assume this form, it may lead some future travel-             as another dog will defend its master, man, so will
ler to investigate the real nature of such stones.               these the sheep. It is amusing to observe, when ap-
                                                                 proaching a flock, how the dog immediately ad-
   While staying at this estancia, I was amused with             vances barking, and the sheep all close in his rear, as
what I saw and heard of the shepherd-dogs of the                 if round the oldest ram. These dogs are also easily
country.* When riding, it is a common thing to meet              taught to bring home the flock, at a certain hour in
a large flock of sheep guarded by one or two dogs,               the evening. Their most troublesome fault, when
at the distance of some miles from any house or man.             young, is their desire of playing with the sheep; for
I often wondered how so firm a friendship had been               in their sport they sometimes gallop their poor sub-
established. The method of education consists in                 jects most unmercifully.
separating the puppy, while very young, from the                   The shepherd-dog comes to the house every day
bitch, and in accustoming it to its future compan-               for some meat, and as soon as it is given him, he
ions. An ewe is held three or four times a day for the           skulks away as if ashamed of himself. On these oc-
little thing to suck, and a nest of wool is made for it          casions the house-dogs are very tyrannical, and the
*M. A. d’Orbigny has given nearly a similar account of these     least of them will attack and pursue the stranger. The
dogs, tom. i. p. 175.
                                                               166
                                                   Charles Darwin
minute, however, the latter has reached the flock, he         dogs, though knowing that the individual sheep are
turns round and begins to bark, and then all the              not dogs, but are good to eat, yet partly consent to
house-dogs take very quickly to their heels. In a simi-       this view when seeing them in a flock with a shep-
lar manner a whole pack of the hungry wild dogs               herd-dog at their head.
will scarcely ever (and I was told by some never)               One evening a “domidor” (a subduer of horses)
venture to attack a flock guarded by even one of these        came for the purpose of breaking-in some colts. I will
faithful shepherds. The whole account appears to me           describe the preparatory steps, for I believe they have
a curious instance of the pliability of the affections        not been mentioned by other travellers. A troop of
in the dog; and yet, whether wild or however edu-             wild young horses is driven into the corral, or large
cated, he has a feeling of respect or fear for those          enclosure of stakes, and the door is shut. We will
that are fulfilling their instinct of association. For we     suppose that one man alone has to catch and mount
can understand on no principle the wild dogs being            a horse, which as yet had never felt bridle or saddle.
driven away by the single one with its flock, except          I conceive, except by a Gaucho, such a feat would be
that they consider, from some confused notion, that           utterly impracticable. The Gaucho picks out a full-
the one thus associated gains power, as if in com-            grown colt; and as the beast rushes round the circus
pany with its own kind. F. Cuvier has observed that           he throws his lazo so as to catch both the front legs.
all animals that readily enter into domestication,            Instantly the horse rolls over with a heavy shock, and
consider man as a member of their own society, and            whilst struggling on the ground, the Gaucho, hold-
thus fulfil their instinct of association. In the above       ing the lazo tight, makes a circle, so as to catch one
case the shepherd-dog ranks the sheep as its fellow-          of the hind legs just beneath the fetlock, and draws
brethren, and thus gains confidence; and the wild             it close to the two front legs: he then hitches the lazo,

                                                            167
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
so that the three are bound together. Then sitting on         on the stirrup, so that the horse may not lose its bal-
the horse’s neck, he fixes a strong bridle, without a         ance; and at the moment that he throws his leg over
bit, to the lower jaw: this he does by passing a nar-         the animal’s back, he pulls the slip-knot binding the
row thong through the eye-holes at the end of the             front legs, and the beast is free. Some “domidors” pull
reins, and several times round both jaw and tongue.           the knot while the animal is lying on the ground, and,
The two front legs are now tied closely together with         standing over the saddle, allow him to rise beneath
a strong leathern thong, fastened by a slip-knot. The         them. The horse, wild with dread, gives a few most
lazo, which bound the three together, being then              violent bounds, and then starts off at full gallop: when
loosed, the horse rises with difficulty. The Gaucho           quite exhausted, the man, by patience, brings him back
now holding fast the bridle fixed to the lower jaw,           to the corral, where, reeking hot and scarcely alive,
leads the horse outside the corral. If a second man is        the poor beast is let free. Those animals which will
present (otherwise the trouble is much greater) he            not gallop away, but obstinately throw themselves
holds the animal’s head, whilst the first puts on the         on the ground, are by far the most troublesome. This
horsecloths and saddle, and girths the whole together.        process is tremendously severe, but in two or three
During this operation, the horse, from dread and as-          trials the horse is tamed. It is not, however, for some
tonishment at thus being bound round the waist,               weeks that the animal is ridden with the iron bit and
throws himself over and over again on the ground,             solid ring, for it must learn to associate the will of its
and, till beaten, is unwilling to rise. At last, when the     rider with the feel of the rein, before the most power-
saddling is finished, the poor animal can hardly              ful bridle can be of any service.
breathe from fear, and is white with foam and sweat.            Animals are so abundant in these countries, that
The man now prepares to mount by pressing heavily             humanity and self-interest are not closely united;

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                                                    Charles Darwin
therefore I fear it is that the former is here scarcely        fall himself. I recollect seeing a Gaucho riding a very
known. One day, riding in the Pampas with a very               stubborn horse, which three times successively
respectable “estanciero,” my horse, being tired,               reared so high as to fall backwards with great vio-
lagged behind. The man often shouted to me to spur             lence. The man judged with uncommon coolness the
him. When I remonstrated that it was a pity, for the           proper moment for slipping off, not an instant be-
horse was quite exhausted, he cried out, “Why not?             fore or after the right time; and as soon as the horse
— never mind — spur him — it is my horse.” I had               got up, the man jumped on his back, and at last they
then some difficulty in making him comprehend that             started at a gallop. The Gaucho never appears to
it was for the horse’s sake, and not on his account,           exert any muscular force. I was one day watching a
that I did not choose to use my spurs. He exclaimed,           good rider, as we were galloping along at a rapid
with a look of great surprise, “Ah, Don Carlos, que            pace, and thought to myself, “Surely if the horse
cosa!” It was clear that such an idea had never be-            starts, you appear so careless on your seat, you must
fore entered his head.                                         fall.” At this moment, a male ostrich sprang from its
  The Gauchos are well known to be perfect riders              nest right beneath the horse’s nose: the young colt
The idea of being thrown, let the horse do what it             bounded on one side like a stag; but as for the man,
likes; never enters their head. Their criterion of a           all that could be said was, that he started and took
good rider is, a man who can manage an untamed                 fright with his horse.
colt, or who, if his horse falls, alights on his own feet,       In Chile and Peru more pains are taken with the
or can perform other such exploits. I have heard of a          mouth of the horse than in La Plata, and this is evi-
man betting that he would throw his horse down                 dently a consequence of the more intricate nature of
twenty times, and that nineteen times he would not             the country. In Chile a horse is not considered per-

                                                             169
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
fectly broken, till he can be brought up standing, in         of a wheel. In consequence many men have been
the midst of his full speed, on any particular spot,          killed; for if the lazo once takes a twist round a man’s
— for instance, on a cloak thrown on the ground: or,          body, it will instantly, from the power of the two
again, he will charge a wall, and rearing, scrape the         opposed animals, almost cut him in twain. On the
surface with his hoofs. I have seen an animal bound-          same principle the races are managed; the course is
ing with spirit, yet merely reined by a fore-finger           only two or three hundred yards long, the wish be-
and thumb, taken at full gallop across a courtyard,           ing to have horses that can make a rapid dash. The
and then made to wheel round the post of a veranda            racehorses are trained not only to stand with their
with great speed, but at so equal a distance, that the        hoofs touching a line, but to draw all four feet to-
rider, with outstretched arm, all the while kept one          gether, so as at the first spring to bring into play the
finger rubbing the post. Then making a demi-volte             full action of the hind-quarters. In Chile I was told
in the air, with the other arm outstretched in a like         an anecdote, which I believe was true; and it offers a
manner, he wheeled round, with astonishing force,             good illustration of the use of a well-broken animal.
in an opposite direction.                                     A respectable man riding one day met two others,
   Such a horse is well broken; and although this at          one of whom was mounted on a horse, which he
first may appear useless, it is far otherwise. It is only     knew to have been stolen from himself. He chal-
carrying that which is daily necessary into perfec-           lenged them; they answered him by drawing their
tion. When a bullock is checked and caught by the             sabres and giving chase. The man, on his good and
lazo, it will sometimes gallop round and round in a           fleet beast, kept just ahead: as he passed a thick bush
circle, and the horse being alarmed at the great strain,      he wheeled round it, and brought up his horse to a
if not well broken, will not readily turn like the pivot      dead check. The pursuers were obliged to shoot on

                                                            170
                                                 Charles Darwin
one side and ahead. Then instantly dashing on, right        which purpose they were driven round a circular
behind them, he buried his knife in the back of one,        enclosure, where the wheat-sheaves were strewed.
wounded the other, recovered his horse from the             The man employed for slaughtering the mares hap-
dying robber, and rode home. For these feats of             pened to be celebrated for his dexterity with the lazo.
horsemanship two things are necessary: a most se-           Standing at the distance of twelve yards from the
vere bit, like the Mameluke, the power of which,            mouth of the corral, he has laid a wager that he would
though seldom used, the horse knows full well; and          catch by the legs every animal, without missing one,
large blunt spurs, that can be applied either as a mere     as it rushed past him. There was another man who
touch, or as an instrument of extreme pain. I con-          said he would enter the corral on foot, catch a mare,
ceive that with English spurs, the slightest touch of       fasten her front legs together, drive her out, throw
which pricks the skin, it would be impossible to            her down, kill, skin, and stake the hide for drying
break in a horse after the South American fashion           (which latter is a tedious job); and he engaged that
  At an estancia near Las Vacas large numbers of            he would perform this whole operation on twenty-
mares are weekly slaughtered for the sake of their          two animals in one day. Or he would kill and take
hides, although worth only five paper dollars, or           the skin off fifty in the same time. This would have
about half a crown apiece. It seems at first strange        been a prodigious task, for it is considered a good
that it can answer to kill mares for such a trifle; but     day’s work to skin and stake the hides of fifteen or
as it is thought ridiculous in this country ever to         sixteen animals.
break in or ride a mare, they are of no value except          November 26th. — I set out on my return in a di-
for breeding. The only thing for which I ever saw           rect line for Monte Video. Having heard of some
mares used, was to tread out wheat from the ear, for        giant’s bones at a neighbouring farm-house on the

                                                          171
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
Sarandis, a small stream entering the Rio Negro, I            small flame. The number of the remains embedded
rode there accompanied by my host, and purchased              in the grand estuary deposit which forms the Pam-
for the value of eighteen pence the head of the               pas and covers the granitic rocks of Banda Oriental,
Toxodon.* When found it was quite perfect; but the            must be extraordinarily great. I believe a straight line
boys knocked out some of the teeth with stones, and           drawn in any direction through the Pampas would
then set up the head as a mark to throw at. By a most         cut through some skeleton or bones. Besides those
fortunate chance I found a perfect tooth, which ex-           which I found during my short excursions, I heard
actly fitted one of the sockets in this skull, embed-         of many others, and the origin of such names as “the
ded by itself on the banks of the Rio Tercero, at the         stream of the animal,” “the hill of the giant,” is obvi-
distance of about 180 miles from this place. I found          ous. At other times I heard of the marvellous prop-
remains of this extraordinary animal at two other             erty of certain rivers, which had the power of chang-
places, so that it must formerly have been common.            ing small bones into large; or, as some maintained,
I found here, also, some large portions of the armour         the bones themselves grew. As far as I am aware, not
of a gigantic armadillo-like animal, and part of the          one of these animals perished, as was formerly sup-
great head of a Mylodon. The bones of this head are           posed, in the marshes or muddy river-beds of the
so fresh, that they contain, according to the analysis        present land, but their bones have been exposed by
by Mr. T. Reeks, seven per cent of animal matter;             the streams intersecting the subaqueous deposit in
and when placed in a spirit-lamp, they burn with a            which they were originally embedded. We may con-
                                                              clude that the whole area of the Pampas is one wide
*I must express my obligations to Mr. Keane, at whose
                                                              sepulchre of these extinct gigantic quadrupeds.
house I was staying on the Berquelo, and to Mr. Lumb at
Buenos Ayres, for without their assistance these valuable       By the middle of the day, on the 28th, we arrived
remains would never have reached England.
                                                            172
                                                  Charles Darwin
at Monte Video, having been two days and a half on           bloodshed: the habit of constantly wearing the knife
the road. The country for the whole way was of a             is the chief cause of the latter. It is lamentable to hear
very uniform character, some parts being rather more         how many lives are lost in trifling quarrels. In fight-
rocky and hilly than near the Plata. Not far from            ing, each party tries to mark the face of his adversary
Monte Video we passed through the village of Las             by slashing his nose or eyes; as is often attested by
Pietras, so named from some large rounded masses             deep and horrid-looking scars. Robberies are a natu-
of syenite. Its appearance was rather pretty. In this        ral consequence of universal gambling, much drink-
country a few fig-trees round a group of houses, and         ing, and extreme indolence. At Mercedes I asked two
a site elevated a hundred feet above the general level,      men why they did not work. One gravely said the
ought always to be called picturesque.                       days were too long; the other that he was too poor.
                                                             The number of horses and the profusion of food are
  During the last six months I have had an opportu-          the destruction of all industry. Moreover, there are so
nity of seeing a little of the character of the inhabit-     many feast-days; and again, nothing can succeed with-
ants of these provinces. The Gauchos, or                     out it be begun when the moon is on the increase; so
countryrmen, are very superior to those who reside           that half the month is lost from these two causes.
in the towns. The Gaucho is invariably most oblig-             Police and justice are quite inefficient. If a man who
ing, polite, and hospitable: I did not meet with even        is poor commits murder and is taken, he will be im-
one instance of rudeness or inhospitality. He is mod-        prisoned, and perhaps even shot; but if he is rich
est, both respecting himself and country, but at the         and has friends, he may rely on it no very severe
same time a spirited, bold fellow. On the other hand,        consequence will ensue. It is curious that the most
many robberies are committed, and there is much              respectable inhabitants of the country invariably as-

                                                           173
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
sist a murderer to escape: they seem to think that the     before a certain time a man who has cheated me. I
individual sins against the government, and not            know it is against the law, but my lawyer (naming
against the people. A traveller has no protection be-      him) recommended me to take this step.” The Chief
sides his fire-arms; and the constant habit of carry-      Justice smiled acquiescence, thanked him, and the
ing them is the main check to more frequent robber-        man before night was safe in prison. With this entire
ies. The character of the higher and more educated         want of principle in many of the leading men, with
classes who reside in the towns, partakes, but per-        the country full of ill-paid turbulent officers, the
haps in a lesser degree, of the good parts of the Gau-     people yet hope that a democratic form of govern-
cho, but is, I fear, stained by many vices of which he     ment can succeed!
is free. Sensuality, mockery of all religion, and the        On first entering society in these countries, two or
grossest corruption, are far from uncommon. Nearly         three features strike one as particularly remarkable.
every public officer can be bribed. The head man in        The polite and dignified manners pervading every
the post-office sold forged government franks. The         rank of life, the excellent taste displayed by the
governor and prime minister openly combined to             women in their dresses, and the equality amongst
plunder the state. Justice, where gold came into play,     all ranks. At the Rio Colorado some men who kept
was hardly expected by any one. I knew an English-         the humblest shops used to dine with General Rosas.
man, who went to the Chief Justice (he told me, that       A son of a major at Bahia Blanca gained his liveli-
not then understanding the ways of the place, he           hood by making paper cigars, and he wished to ac-
trembled as he entered the room), and said, “Sir, I        company me, as guide or servant, to Buenos Ayres,
have come to offer you two hundred (paper) dollars         but his father objected on the score of the danger
(value about five pounds sterling) if you will arrest      alone. Many officers in the army can neither read nor

                                                         174
                                                  Charles Darwin
write, yet all meet in society as equals. In Entre Rios,       December 6th. — The Beagle sailed from the Rio
the Sala consisted of only six representatives. One          Plata, never again to enter its muddy stream. Our
of them kept a common shop, and evidently was not            course was directed to Port Desire, on the coast of
degraded by the office. All this is what would be            Patagonia. Before proceeding any further, I will here
expected in a new country; nevertheless the absence          put together a few observations made at sea.
of gentlemen by profession appears to an English-              Several times when the ship has been some miles
man something strange.                                       off the mouth of the Plata, and at other times when
  When speaking of these countries, the manner in            off the shores of Northern Patagonia, we have been
which they have been brought up by their unnatural           surrounded by insects. One evening, when we were
parent, Spain, should always be borne in mind. On            about ten miles from the Bay of San Blas, vast num-
the whole, perhaps, more credit is due for what has          bers of butterflies, in bands or flocks of countless
been done, than blame for that which may be defi-            myriads, extended as far as the eye could range. Even
cient. It is impossible to doubt but that the extreme        by the aid of a telescope it was not possible to see a
liberalism of these countries must ultimately lead           space free from butterflies. The seamen cried out “it
to good results. The very general toleration of for-         was snowing butterflies,” and such in fact was the
eign religions, the regard paid to the means of edu-         appearance. More species than one were present, but
cation, the freedom of the press, the facilities offered     the main part belonged to a kind very similar to, but
to all foreigners, and especially, as I am bound to          not identical with, the common English Colias edusa.
add, to every one professing the humblest preten-            Some moths and hymenoptera accompanied the but-
sions to science, should be recollected with gratitude       terflies; and a fine beetle (Calosoma) flew on board.
by those who have visited Spanish South America.             Other instances are known of this beetle having been

                                                           175
                                                   The Voyage of the Beagle
caught far out at sea; and this is the more remark-             mens, but those which I preserved belonged to the
able, as the greater number of the Carabidae seldom             genera Colymbetes, Hydroporus, Hydrobius (two
or never take wing. The day had been fine and calm,             species), Notaphus, Cynucus, Adimonia, and
and the one previous to it equally so, with light and           Scarabaeus. At first I thought that these insects had
variable airs. Hence we cannot suppose that the in-             been blown from the shore; but upon reflecting that
sects were blown off the land, but we must conclude             out of the eight species four were aquatic, and two
that they voluntarily took flight. The great bands of           others partly so in their habits, it appeared to me
the Colias seem at first to afford an instance like those       most probable that they were floated into the sea by
on record of the migrations of another butterfly,               a small stream which drains a lake near Cape
Vanessa cardui;* but the presence of other insects              Corrientes. On any supposition it is an interesting
makes the case distinct, and even less intelligible.            circumstance to find live insects swimming in the
Before sunset a strong breeze sprung up from the                open ocean seventeen miles from the nearest point
north, and this must have caused tens of thousands              of land. There are several accounts of insects having
of the butterflies and other insects to have perished.          been blown off the Patagonian shore. Captain Cook
  On another occasion, when seventeen miles off                 observed it, as did more lately Captain King of the
Cape Corrientes, I had a net overboard to catch pe-             Adventure. The cause probably is due to the want
lagic animals. Upon drawing it up, to my surprise, I            of shelter, both of trees and hills, so that an insect on
found a considerable number of beetles in it, and               the wing with an off-shore breeze, would be very
although in the open sea, they did not appear much              apt to be blown out to sea. The most remarkable in-
injured by the salt water. I lost some of the speci-            stance I have known of an insect being caught far
                                                                from the land, was that of a large grasshopper
*Lyell’s Principles of Geology, vol. iii. p. 63.

                                                             176
                                                Charles Darwin
(Acrydium), which flew on board, when the Beagle           always seated on a single thread, and not on the floc-
was to windward of the Cape de Verd Islands, and           culent mass. This latter seems merely to be produced
when the nearest point of land, not directly opposed       by the entanglement of the single threads. The spi-
to the trade-wind, was Cape Blanco on the coast of         ders were all of one species, but of both sexes, to-
Africa, 370 miles distant.*                                gether with young ones. These latter were distin-
  On several occasions, when the Beagle has been           guished by their smaller size and more dusky colour.
within the mouth of the Plata, the rigging has been        I will not give the description of this spider, but
coated with the web of the Gossamer Spider. One            merely state that it does not appear to me to be in-
day (November 1st, 1832) I paid particular attention       cluded in any of Latreille’s genera. The little aero-
to this subject. The weather had been fine and clear,      naut as soon as it arrived on board was very active,
and in the morning the air was full of patches of the      running about, sometimes letting itself fall, and then
flocculent web, as on an autumnal day in England.          reascending the same thread; sometimes employing
The ship was sixty miles distant from the land, in         itself in making a small and very irregular mesh in
the direction of a steady though light breeze. Vast        the corners between the ropes. It could run with fa-
numbers of a small spider, about one-tenth of an inch      cility on the surface of the water. When disturbed it
in length, and of a dusky red colour, were attached        lifted up its front legs, in the attitude of attention.
to the webs. There must have been, I should sup-           On its first arrival it appeared very thirsty, and with
pose, some thousands on the ship. The little spider,       exserted maxillae drank eagerly of drops of water,
when first coming in contact with the rigging, was         this same circumstance has been observed by Strack:
                                                           may it not be in consequence of the little insect hav-
*The flies which frequently accompany a ship for some
days on its passage from harbour to harbour, wandering     ing passed through a dry and rarefied atmosphere?
from the vessel, are soon lost, and all disappear.
                                                         177
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
Its stock of web seemed inexhaustible. While watch-        threads from its spinners. These, glittering in the
ing some that were suspended by a single thread, I         sunshine, might be compared to diverging rays of
several times observed that the slightest breath of        light; they were not, however, straight, but in undu-
air bore them away out of sight, in a horizontal line.     lations like films of silk blown by the wind. They
                                                           were more than a yard in length, and diverged in an
  On another occasion (25th) under similar circum-         ascending direction from the orifices. The spider then
stances, I repeatedly observed the same kind of small      suddenly let go its hold of the post, and was quickly
spider, either when placed or having crawled on            borne out of sight. The day was hot and apparently
some little eminence, elevate its abdomen, send forth      calm; yet under such circumstances, the atmosphere
a thread, and then sail away horizontally, but with a      can never be so tranquil as not to affect a vane so
rapidity which was quite unaccountable. I thought I        delicate as the thread of a spider’s web. If during a
could perceive that the spider, before performing the      warm day we look either at the shadow of any ob-
above preparatory steps, connected its legs together       ject cast on a bank, or over a level plain at a distant
with the most delicate threads, but I am not sure          landmark, the effect of an ascending current of heated
whether this observation was correct.                      air is almost always evident: such upward currents,
  One day, at St. Fe, I had a better opportunity of        it has been remarked, are also shown by the ascent
observing some similar facts. A spider which was           of soap-bubbles, which will not rise in an in-doors
about three-tenths of an inch in length, and which in      room. Hence I think there is not much difficulty in
its general appearance resembled a Citigrade (there-       understanding the ascent of the fine lines projected
fore quite different from the gossamer), while stand-      from a spider’s spinners, and afterwards of the spi-
ing on the summit of a post, darted forth four or five     der itself; the divergence of the lines has been at-

                                                         178
                                                    Charles Darwin
tempted to be explained, I believe by Mr. Murray,              the under side of rocks), is very remarkable from the
by their similar electrical condition. The circumstance        structure of its hind pair of legs. The penultimate
of spiders of the same species, but of different sexes         joint, instead of terminating in a simple claw, ends
and ages, being found on several occasions at the              in three bristle-like appendages of dissimilar lengths
distance of many leagues from the land, attached in            — the longest equalling that of the entire leg. These
vast numbers to the lines, renders it probable that            claws are very thin, and are serrated with the finest
the habit of sailing through the air is as characteris-        teeth, directed backwards: their curved extremities
tic of this tribe, as that of diving is of the Argyroneta.     are flattened, and on this part five most minute cups
We may then reject Latreille’s supposition, that the           are placed which seem to act in the same manner as
gossamer owes its origin indifferently to the young            the suckers on the arms of the cuttle-fish. As the ani-
of several genera of spiders: although, as we have             mal lives in the open sea, and probably wants a place
seen, the young of other spiders do possess the                of rest, I suppose this beautiful and most anoma-
power of performing aerial voyages.*                           lous structure is adapted to take hold of floating
  During our different passages south of the Plata, I          marine animals.
often towed astern a net made of bunting, and thus               In deep water, far from the land, the number of liv-
caught many curious animals. Of Crustacea there                ing creatures is extremely small: south of the lati-
were many strange and undescribed genera. One,                 tude 35 degs., I never succeeded in catching anything
which in some respects is allied to the Notopods (or           besides some beroe, and a few species of minute
those crabs which have their posterior legs placed             entomostracous crustacea. In shoaler water, at the
almost on their backs, for the purpose of adhering to          distance of a few miles from the coast, very many
*Mr. Blackwall, in his Researches in Zoology, has many         kinds of crustacea and some other animals are nu-
excellent observations on the habits of spiders.
                                                             179
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
merous, but only during the night. Between latitudes        beautiful spectacle. There was a fresh breeze, and
56 and 57 degs. south of Cape Horn, the net was put         every part of the surface, which during the day is
astern several times; it never, however, brought up         seen as foam, now glowed with a pale light. The ves-
anything besides a few of two extremely minute spe-         sel drove before her bows two billows of liquid phos-
cies of Entomostraca. Yet whales and seals, petrels         phorus, and in her wake she was followed by a milky
and albatross, are exceedingly abundant throughout          train. As far as the eye reached, the crest of every
this part of the ocean. It has always been a mystery to     wave was bright, and the sky above the horizon, from
me on what the albatross, which lives far from the          the reflected glare of these livid flames, was not so
shore, can subsist; I presume that, like the condor, it     utterly obscure as over the vault of the heavens.
is able to fast long; and that one good feast on the          As we proceed further southward the sea is sel-
carcass of a putrid whale lasts for a long time. The        dom phosphorescent; and off Cape Horn I do not
central and intertropical parts of the Atlantic swarm       recollect more than once having seen it so, and then
with Pteropoda, Crustacea, and Radiata, and with            it was far from being brilliant. This circumstance
their devourers the flying-fish, and again with their       probably has a close connection with the scarcity of
devourers the bonitos and albicores; I presume that         organic beings in that part of the ocean. After the
the numerous lower pelagic animals feed on the In-          elaborate paper,* by Ehrenberg, on the phosphores-
fusoria, which are now known, from the researches of        cence of the sea, it is almost superfluous on my part
Ehrenberg, to abound in the open ocean: but on what,        to make any observations on the subject. I may how-
in the clear blue water, do these Infusoria subsist?        ever add, that the same torn and irregular particles
  While sailing a little south of the Plata on one very     of gelatinous matter, described by Ehrenberg, seem
dark night, the sea presented a wonderful and most          *An abstract is given in No. IV. of the Magazine of Zoology
                                                            and Botany.
                                                          180
                                                 Charles Darwin
in the southern as well as in the northern hemisphere,      ally owing to minute crustacea. But there can be no
to be the common cause of this phenomenon. The              doubt that very many other pelagic animals, when
particles were so minute as easily to pass through          alive, are phosphorescent.
fine gauze; yet many were distinctly visible by the           On two occasions I have observed the sea lumi-
naked eye. The water when placed in a tumbler and           nous at considerable depths beneath the surface.
agitated, gave out sparks, but a small portion in a         Near the mouth of the Plata some circular and oval
watch-glass scarcely ever was luminous. Ehrenberg           patches, from two to four yards in diameter, and with
states that these particles all retain a certain degree     defined outlines, shone with a steady but pale light;
of irritability. My observations, some of which were        while the surrounding water only gave out a few
made directly after taking up the water, gave a dif-        sparks. The appearance resembled the reflection of
ferent result. I may also mention, that having used         the moon, or some luminous body; for the edges were
the net during one night, I allowed it to become par-       sinuous from the undulations of the surface. The ship,
tially dry, and having occasion twelve hours after-         which drew thirteen feet of water, passed over, with-
wards to employ it again, I found the whole surface         out disturbing these patches. Therefore we must sup-
sparkled as brightly as when first taken out of the         pose that some animals were congregated together at
water. It does not appear probable in this case, that       a greater depth than the bottom of the vessel.
the particles could have remained so long alive. On           Near Fernando Noronha the sea gave out light in
one occasion having kept a jelly-fish of the genus          flashes. The appearance was very similar to that
Dianaea till it was dead, the water in which it was         which might be expected from a large fish moving
placed became luminous. When the waves scintil-             rapidly through a luminous fluid. To this cause the
late with bright green sparks, I believe it is gener-       sailors attributed it; at the time, however, I enter-

                                                          181
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
tained some doubts, on account of the frequency and          within the entrance, in front of the ruins of an old
rapidity of the flashes. I have already remarked that        Spanish settlement.
the phenomenon is very much more common in                     The same evening I went on shore. The first land-
warm than in cold countries; and I have sometimes            ing in any new country is very interesting, and espe-
imagined that a disturbed electrical condition of the        cially when, as in this case, the whole aspect bears
atmosphere was most favourable to its production.            the stamp of a marked and individual character. At
Certainly I think the sea is most luminous after a few       the height of between two and three hundred feet
days of more calm weather than ordinary, during              above some masses of porphyry a wide plain ex-
which time it has swarmed with various animals.              tends, which is truly characteristic of Patagonia. The
Observing that the water charged with gelatinous             surface is quite level, and is composed of well-
particles is in an impure state, and that the luminous       rounded shingle mixed with a whitish earth. Here
appearance in all common cases is produced by the            and there scattered tufts of brown wiry grass are sup-
agitation of the fluid in contact with the atmosphere, I     ported, and still more rarely, some low thorny
am inclined to consider that the phosphorescence is          bushes. The weather is dry and pleasant, and the fine
the result of the decomposition of the organic par-          blue sky is but seldom obscured. When standing in
ticles, by which process (one is tempted almost to call      the middle of one of these desert plains and looking
it a kind of respiration) the ocean becomes purified.        towards the interior, the view is generally bounded
   December 23rd. — We arrived at Port Desire, situ-         by the escarpment of another plain, rather higher,
ated in lat. 47 degs., on the coast of Patagonia. The        but equally level and desolate; and in every other
creek runs for about twenty miles inland, with an            direction the horizon is indistinct from the trembling
irregular width. The Beagle anchored a few miles             mirage which seems to rise from the heated surface.

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                                                Charles Darwin
 In such a country the fate of the Spanish settlement          The zoology of Patagonia is as limited as its flora.*
was soon decided; the dryness of the climate during        On the arid plains a few black beetles (Heteromera)
the greater part of the year, and the occasional hos-      might be seen slowly crawling about, and occasion-
tile attacks of the wandering Indians, compelled the       ally a lizard darted from side to side. Of birds we
colonists to desert their half-finished buildings. The     have three carrion hawks and in the valleys a few
style, however, in which they were commenced               finches and insect-feeders. An ibis (Theristicus
shows the strong and liberal hand of Spain in the          melanops — a species said to be found in central
old time. The result of all the attempts to colonize       Africa) is not uncommon on the most desert parts: in
this side of America south of 41 degs., has been mis-      their stomachs I found grasshoppers, cicadae, small
erable. Port Famine expresses by its name the lin-         lizards, and even scorpions.** At one time of the year
gering and extreme sufferings of several hundred           these birds go in flocks, at another in pairs, their cry
wretched people, of whom one alone survived to
                                                           *I found here a species of cactus, described by Professor
relate their misfortunes. At St. Joseph’s Bay, on the      Henslow, under the name of Opuntia Darwinii (Magazine
coast of Patagonia, a small settlement was made; but       of Zoology and Botany, vol. i. p. 466), which was remark-
                                                           able for the irritability of the stamens, when I inserted ei-
during one Sunday the Indians made an attack and           ther a piece of stick or the end of my finger in the flower.
massacred the whole party, excepting two men, who          The segments of the perianth also closed on the pistil, but
                                                           more slowly than the stamens. Plants of this family, gen-
remained captives during many years. At the Rio            erally considered as tropical, occur in North America
Negro I conversed with one of these men, now in            (Lewis and Clarke’s Travels, p. 221), in the same high lati-
                                                           tude as here, namely, in both cases, in 47 degs.
extreme old age.                                           **These insects were not uncommon beneath stones. I
                                                           found one cannibal scorpion quietly devouring another.
                                                         183
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
is very loud and singular, like the neighing of the           tively, he will probably see the herd standing in a
guanaco.                                                      line on the side of some distant hill. On approach-
  The guanaco, or wild llama, is the characteristic           ing nearer, a few more squeals are given, and off they
quadruped of the plains of Patagonia; it is the South         set at an apparently slow, but really quick canter,
American representative of the camel of the East. It is       along some narrow beaten track to a neighbouring
an elegant animal in a state of nature, with a long slen-     hill. If, however, by chance he abruptly meets a single
der neck and fine legs. It is very common over the            animal, or several together, they will generally stand
whole of the temperate parts of the continent, as far         motionless and intently gaze at him; then perhaps
south as the islands near Cape Horn. It generally lives       move on a few yards, turn round, and look again.
in small herds of from half a dozen to thirty in each;        What is the cause of this difference in their shyness?
but on the banks of the St. Cruz we saw one herd which        Do they mistake a man in the distance for their chief
must have contained at least five hundred.                    enemy the puma? Or does curiosity overcome their
  They are generally wild and extremely wary. Mr.             timidity? That they are curious is certain; for if a per-
Stokes told me, that he one day saw through a glass           son lies on the ground, and plays strange antics, such
a herd of these animals which evidently had been              as throwing up his feet in the air, they will almost
frightened, and were running away at full speed,              always approach by degrees to reconnoitre him. It
although their distance was so great that he could            was an artifice that was repeatedly practised by our
not distinguish them with his naked eye. The sports-          sportsmen with success, and it had moreover the
man frequently receives the first notice of their pres-       advantage of allowing several shots to be fired,
ence, by hearing from a long distance their peculiar          which were all taken as parts of the performance.
shrill neighing note of alarm. If he then looks atten-        On the mountains of Tierra del Fuego, I have more

                                                            184
                                                 Charles Darwin
than once seen a guanaco, on being approached, not          island to island. Byron, in his voyage says he saw
only neigh and squeal, but prance and leap about in         them drinking salt water. Some of our officers like-
the most ridiculous manner, apparently in defiance          wise saw a herd apparently drinking the briny fluid
as a challenge. These animals are very easily domes-        from a salina near Cape Blanco. I imagine in several
ticated, and I have seen some thus kept in northern         parts of the country, if they do not drink salt water,
Patagonia near a house, though not under any re-            they drink none at all. In the middle of the day they
straint. They are in this state very bold, and readily      frequently roll in the dust, in saucer-shaped hollows.
attack a man by striking him from behind with both          The males fight together; two one day passed quite
knees. It is asserted that the motive for these attacks     close to me, squealing and trying to bite each other;
is jealousy on account of their females. The wild           and several were shot with their hides deeply scored.
guanacos, however, have no idea of defence; even a          Herds sometimes appear to set out on exploring par-
single dog will secure one of these large animals,          ties: at Bahia Blanca, where, within thirty miles of
till the huntsman can come up. In many of their hab-        the coast, these animals are extremely unfrequent, I
its they are like sheep in a flock. Thus when they see      one day saw the tracks of thirty or forty, which had
men approaching in several directions on horseback,         come in a direct line to a muddy salt-water creek.
they soon become bewildered, and know not which             They then must have perceived that they were ap-
way to run. This greatly facilitates the Indian method      proaching the sea, for they had wheeled with the
of hunting, for they are thus easily driven to a cen-       regularity of cavalry, and had returned back in as
tral point, and are encompassed.                            straight a line as they had advanced. The guanacos
  The guanacos readily take to the water: several           have one singular habit, which is to me quite inex-
times at Port Valdes they were seen swimming from           plicable; namely, that on successive days they drop

                                                          185
                                           The Voyage of the Beagle
their dung in the same defined heap. I saw one of         serve, that the wounded guanacos at the St. Cruz in-
these heaps which was eight feet in diameter, and         variably walked towards the river. At St. Jago in the
was composed of a large quantity. This habit, accord-     Cape de Verd Islands, I remember having seen in a
ing to M. A. d’Orbigny, is common to all the species      ravine a retired corner covered with bones of the goat;
of the genus; it is very useful to the Peruvian Indi-     we at the time exclaimed that it was the burial ground
ans, who use the dung for fuel, and are thus saved        of all the goats in the island. I mention these trifling
the trouble of collecting it.                             circumstances, because in certain cases they might
  The guanacos appear to have favourite spots for         explain the occurrence of a number of uninjured
lying down to die. On the banks of the St. Cruz, in       bones in a cave, or buried under alluvial accumula-
certain circumscribed spaces, which were generally        tions; and likewise the cause why certain animals
bushy and all near the river, the ground was actu-        are more commonly embedded than others in sedi-
ally white with bones. On one such spot I counted         mentary deposits.
between ten and twenty heads. I particularly exam-          One day the yawl was sent under the command of
ined the bones; they did not appear, as some scat-        Mr. Chaffers with three days’ provisions to survey
tered ones which I had seen, gnawed or broken, as if      the upper part of the harbour. In the morning we
dragged together by beasts of prey. The animals in        searched for some watering-places mentioned in an
most cases must have crawled, before dying, beneath       old Spanish chart. We found one creek, at the head
and amongst the bushes. Mr. Bynoe informs me that         of which there was a trickling rill (the first we had
during a former voyage he observed the same cir-          seen) of brackish water. Here the tide compelled us
cumstance on the banks of the Rio Gallegos. I do not      to wait several hours; and in the interval I walked
at all understand the reason of this, but I may ob-       some miles into the interior. The plain as usual con-

                                                        186
                                                 Charles Darwin
sisted of gravel, mingled with soil resembling chalk        the dingey and went up two or three miles further,
in appearance, but very different from it in nature.        where she also grounded, but in a fresh-water river.
From the softness of these materials it was worn into       The water was muddy, and though the stream was
many gulleys. There was not a tree, and, excepting          most insignificant in size, it would be difficult to
the guanaco, which stood on the hill-top a watchful         account for its origin, except from the melting snow
sentinel over its herd, scarcely an animal or a bird.       on the Cordillera. At the spot where we bivouacked,
All was stillness and desolation. Yet in passing over       we were surrounded by bold cliffs and steep pin-
these scenes, without one bright object near, an ill-       nacles of porphyry. I do not think I ever saw a spot
defined but strong sense of pleasure is vividly ex-         which appeared more secluded from the rest of the
cited. One asked how many ages the plain had thus           world, than this rocky crevice in the wide plain.
lasted, and how many more it was doomed thus to               The second day after our return to the anchorage,
continue.                                                   a party of officers and myself went to ransack an old
  “None can reply — all seems eternal now. The wil-         Indian grave, which I had found on the summit of a
derness has a mysterious tongue, Which teaches              neighbouring hill. Two immense stones, each prob-
awful doubt.”*                                              ably weighing at least a couple of tons, had been
  In the evening we sailed a few miles further up,          placed in front of a ledge of rock about six feet high.
and then pitched the tents for the night. By the middle     At the bottom of the grave on the hard rock there
of the next day the yawl was aground, and from the          was a layer of earth about a foot deep, which must
shoalness of the water could not proceed any higher.        have been brought up from the plain below. Above
The water being found partly fresh, Mr. Chaffers took       it a pavement of flat stones was placed, on which
                                                            others were piled, so as to fill up the space between
*Shelley, Lines on Mt. Blanc.

                                                          187
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
the ledge and the two great blocks. To complete the        less perishable part of their dead to their ancient
grave, the Indians had contrived to detach from the        burial-ground on the coast.
ledge a huge fragment, and to throw it over the pile         January 9th, 1834. — Before it was dark the Beagle
so as to rest on the two blocks. We undermined the         anchored in the fine spacious harbour of Port St.
grave on both sides, but could not find any relics, or     Julian, situated about one hundred and ten miles to
even bones. The latter probably had decayed long           the south of Port Desire. We remained here eight
since (in which case the grave must have been of ex-       days. The country is nearly similar to that of Port
treme antiquity), for I found in another place some        Desire, but perhaps rather more sterile. One day a
smaller heaps beneath which a very few crumbling           party accompanied Captain Fitz Roy on a long walk
fragments could yet be distinguished as having be-         round the head of the harbour. We were eleven hours
longed to a man. Falconer states, that where an In-        without tasting any water, and some of the party
dian dies he is buried, but that subsequently his          were quite exhausted. From the summit of a hill
bones are carefully taken up and carried, let the dis-     (since well named Thirsty Hill) a fine lake was spied,
tance be ever so great, to be deposited near the sea-      and two of the party proceeded with concerted sig-
coast. This custom, I think, may be accounted for by       nals to show whether it was fresh water. What was
recollecting, that before the introduction of horses,      our disappointment to find a snow-white expanse
these Indians must have led nearly the same life as        of salt, crystallized in great cubes! We attributed our
the Fuegians now do, and therefore generally have          extreme thirst to the dryness of the atmosphere; but
resided in the neighbourhood of the sea. The com-          whatever the cause might be, we were exceedingly
mon prejudice of lying where one’s ancestors have          glad late in the evening to get back to the boats. Al-
lain, would make the now roaming Indians bring the         though we could nowhere find, during our whole

                                                         188
                                                   Charles Darwin
visit, a single drop of fresh water, yet some must            of miles of coast we have one great deposit, includ-
exist; for by an odd chance I found on the surface of         ing many tertiary shells, all apparently extinct. The
the salt water, near the head of the bay, a Colymbetes        most common shell is a massive gigantic oyster,
not quite dead, which must have lived in some not             sometimes even a foot in diameter. These beds are
far distant pool. Three other insects (a Cincindela, like     covered by others of a peculiar soft white stone, in-
hybrida, a Cymindis, and a Harpalus, which all live           cluding much gypsum, and resembling chalk, but
on muddy flats occasionally overflowed by the sea),           really of a pumiceous nature. It is highly remark-
and one other found dead on the plain, complete the           able, from being composed, to at least one-tenth of
list of the beetles. A good-sized fly (Tabanus) was ex-       its bulk, of Infusoria. Professor Ehrenberg has al-
tremely numerous, and tormented us by its painful             ready ascertained in it thirty oceanic forms. This bed
bite. The common horsefly, which is so troublesome            extends for 500 miles along the coast, and probably
in the shady lanes of England, belongs to this same           for a considerably greater distance. At Port St. Julian
genus. We here have the puzzle that so frequently             its thickness is more than 800 feet! These white beds
occurs in the case of musquitoes — on the blood of            are everywhere capped by a mass of gravel, form-
what animals do these insects commonly feed? The              ing probably one of the largest beds of shingle in the
guanaco is nearly the only warm-blooded quadruped,            world: it certainly extends from near the Rio Colo-
and it is found in quite inconsiderable numbers com-          rado to between 600 and 700 nautical miles south-
pared with the multitude of flies.                            ward, at Santa Cruz (a river a little south of St. Julian),
  The geology of Patagonia is interesting. Differently        it reaches to the foot of the Cordillera; half way up
from Europe, where the tertiary formations appear             the river, its thickness is more than 200 feet; it prob-
to have accumulated in bays, here along hundreds              ably everywhere extends to this great chain, whence

                                                            189
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
the well-rounded pebbles of porphyry have been              raised in mass (and in Patagonia to a height of be-
derived: we may consider its average breadth as 200         tween 300 and 400 feet), within the period of the now
miles, and its average thickness as about 50 feet. If       existing sea-shells. The old and weathered shells left
this great bed of pebbles, without including the mud        on the surface of the upraised plain still partially
necessarily derived from their attrition, was piled         retain their colours. The uprising movement has been
into a mound, it would form a great mountain chain!         interrupted by at least eight long periods of rest,
When we consider that all these pebbles, countless          during which the sea ate, deeply back into the land,
as the grains of sand in the desert, have been de-          forming at successive levels the long lines of cliffs,
rived from the slow falling of masses of rock on the        or escarpments, which separate the different plains
old coast-lines and banks of rivers, and that these         as they rise like steps one behind the other. The
fragments have been dashed into smaller pieces, and         elevatory movement, and the eating-back power of
that each of them has since been slowly rolled,             the sea during the periods of rest, have been equable
rounded, and far transported the mind is stupefied          over long lines of coast; for I was astonished to find
in thinking over the long, absolutely necessary, lapse      that the step-like plains stand at nearly correspond-
of years. Yet all this gravel has been transported, and     ing heights at far distant points. The lowest plain is
probably rounded, subsequently to the deposition            90 feet high; and the highest, which I ascended near
of the white beds, and long subsequently to the un-         the coast, is 950 feet; and of this, only relics are left in
derlying beds with the tertiary shells.                     the form of flat gravel-capped hills. The upper plain
  Everything in this southern continent has been ef-        of Santa Cruz slopes up to a height of 3000 feet at the
fected on a grand scale: the land, from the Rio Plata       foot of the Cordillera. I have said that within the pe-
to Tierra del Fuego, a distance of 1200 miles, has been     riod of existing sea-shells, Patagonia has been up-

                                                          190
                                                    Charles Darwin
raised 300 to 400 feet: I may add, that within the pe-       of the Macrauchenia Patachonica, a remarkable quad-
riod when icebergs transported boulders over the             ruped, full as large as a camel. It belongs to the same
upper plain of Santa Cruz, the elevation has been at         division of the Pachydermata with the rhinoceros,
least 1500 feet. Nor has Patagonia been affected only        tapir, and palaeotherium; but in the structure of the
by upward movements: the extinct tertiary shells             bones of its long neck it shows a clear relation to the
from Port St. Julian and Santa Cruz cannot have lived,       camel, or rather to the guanaco and llama. From re-
according to Professor E. Forbes, in a greater depth         cent sea-shells being found on two of the higher step-
of water than from 40 to 250 feet; but they are now          formed plains, which must have been modelled and
covered with sea-deposited strata from 800 to 1000           upraised before the mud was deposited in which
feet in thickness: hence the bed of the sea, on which        the Macrauchenia was entombed, it is certain that
these shells once lived, must have sunk downwards            this curious quadruped lived long after the sea was
several hundred feet, to allow of the accumulation           inhabited by its present shells. I was at first much
of the superincumbent strata. What a history of geo-         surprised how a large quadruped could so lately
logical changes does the simply-constructed coast            have subsisted, in lat. 49 degs. 15', on these wretched
of Patagonia reveal!                                         gravel plains, with their stunted vegetation; but the
  At Port St. Julian,* in some red mud capping the           relationship of the Macrauchenia to the Guanaco,
gravel on the 90-feet plain, I found half the skeleton       now an inhabitant of the most sterile parts, partly
*I have lately heard that Capt. Sulivan, R.N., has found     explains this difficulty.
numerous fossil bones, embedded in regular strata, on          The relationship, though distant, between the
the banks of the R. Gallegos, in lat. 51 degs. 4'. Some of   Macrauchenia and the Guanaco, between the
the bones are large; others are small, and appear to have
belonged to an armadillo. This is a most interesting and     Toxodon and the Capybara, — the closer relation-
important discovery.
                                                         191
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
ship between the many extinct Edentata and the liv-        beings on our earth, and their disappearance from
ing sloths, ant-eaters, and armadillos, now so emi-        it, than any other class of facts.
nently characteristic of South American zoology, —            It is impossible to reflect on the changed state of
and the still closer relationship between the fossil       the American continent without the deepest aston-
and living species of Ctenomys and Hydrochaerus,           ishment. Formerly it must have swarmed with great
are most interesting facts. This relationship is shown     monsters: now we find mere pigmies, compared with
wonderfully — as wonderfully as between the fos-           the antecedent, allied races. If Buffon had known of
sil and extinct Marsupial animals of Australia — by        the gigantic sloth and armadillo-like animals, and
the great collection lately brought to Europe from         of the lost Pachydermata, he might have said with a
the caves of Brazil by MM. Lund and Clausen. In            greater semblance of truth that the creative force in
this collection there are extinct species of all the       America had lost its power, rather than that it had
thirty-two genera, excepting four, of the terrestrial      never possessed great vigour. The greater number,
quadrupeds now inhabiting the provinces in which           if not all, of these extinct quadrupeds lived at a late
the caves occur; and the extinct species are much          period, and were the contemporaries of most of the
more numerous than those now living: there are fos-        existing sea-shells. Since they lived, no very great
sil ant-eaters, armadillos, tapirs, peccaries, guana-      change in the form of the land can have taken place.
cos, opossums, and numerous South American                 What, then, has exterminated so many species and
gnawers and monkeys, and other animals. This won-          whole genera? The mind at first is irresistibly hur-
derful relationship in the same continent between          ried into the belief of some great catastrophe; but
the dead and the living, will, I do not doubt, hereaf-     thus to destroy animals, both large and small, in
ter throw more light on the appearance of organic          Southern Patagonia, in Brazil, on the Cordillera of

                                                         192
                                                  Charles Darwin
Peru, in North America up to Behring’s Straits, we           destroy, as has been suggested, the unwieldy
must shake the entire framework of the globe. An             Megatherium and the other Edentata? We must at
examination, moreover, of the geology of La Plata            least look to some other cause for the destruction of
and Patagonia, leads to the belief that all the features     the little tucutuco at Bahia Blanca, and of the many
of the land result from slow and gradual changes. It         fossil mice and other small quadrupeds in Brazil.
appears from the character of the fossils in Europe,         No one will imagine that a drought, even far severer
Asia, Australia, and in North and South America, that        than those which cause such losses in the provinces
those conditions which favour the life of the larger         of La Plata, could destroy every individual of every
quadrupeds were lately co-extensive with the world:          species from Southern Patagonia to Behring’s Straits.
what those conditions were, no one has yet even con-         What shall we say of the extinction of the horse? Did
jectured. It could hardly have been a change of tem-         those plains fail of pasture, which have since been
perature, which at about the same time destroyed             overrun by thousands and hundreds of thousands
the inhabitants of tropical, temperate, and arctic lati-     of the descendants of the stock introduced by the
tudes on both sides of the globe. In North America           Spaniards? Have the subsequently introduced spe-
we positively know from Mr. Lyell, that the large            cies consumed the food of the great antecedent races?
quadrupeds lived subsequently to that period, when           Can we believe that the Capybara has taken the food
boulders were brought into latitudes at which ice-           of the Toxodon, the Guanaco of the Macrauchenia,
bergs now never arrive: from conclusive but indi-            the existing small Edentata of their numerous gigan-
rect reasons we may feel sure, that in the southern          tic prototypes? Certainly, no fact in the long history
hemisphere the Macrauchenia, also, lived long sub-           of the world is so startling as the wide and repeated
sequently to the ice-transporting boulder-period.            exterminations of its inhabitants.
Did man, after his first inroad into South America,            Nevertheless, if we consider the subject under an-
                                                           193
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
other point of view, it will appear less perplexing.         allied in habits, being rare and the other abundant
We do not steadily bear in mind, how profoundly              in the same district; or, again, that one should be
ignorant we are of the conditions of existence of ev-        abundant in one district, and another, filling the same
ery animal; nor do we always remember, that some             place in the economy of nature, should be abundant
check is constantly preventing the too rapid increase        in a neighbouring district, differing very little in its
of every organized being left in a state of nature. The      conditions. If asked how this is, one immediately
supply of food, on an average, remains constant, yet         replies that it is determined by some slight differ-
the tendency in every animal to increase by propa-           ence, in climate, food, or the number of enemies: yet
gation is geometrical; and its surprising effects have       how rarely, if ever, we can point out the precise cause
nowhere been more astonishingly shown, than in the           and manner of action of the check! We are therefore,
case of the European animals run wild during the             driven to the conclusion, that causes generally quite
last few centuries in America. Every animal in a state       inappreciable by us, determine whether a given spe-
of nature regularly breeds; yet in a species long es-        cies shall be abundant or scanty in numbers.
tablished, any great increase in numbers is obviously          In the cases where we can trace the extinction of a
impossible, and must be checked by some means.               species through man, either wholly or in one lim-
We are, nevertheless, seldom able with certainty to          ited district, we know that it becomes rarer and rarer,
tell in any given species, at what period of life, or at     and is then lost: it would be difficult to point out
what period of the year, or whether only at long in-         any just distinction* between a species destroyed by
tervals, the check falls; or, again, what is the precise     man or by the increase of its natural enemies. The
nature of the check. Hence probably it is, that we           evidence of rarity preceding extinction, is more strik-
feel so little surprise at one, of two species closely       *See the excellent remarks on this subject by Mr. Lyell, in
                                                             his Principles of Geology.
                                                           194
                                                 Charles Darwin
ing in the successive tertiary strata, as remarked by       we should have the plainest evidence of less
several able observers; it has often been found that a      favourable conditions for their existence. To admit
shell very common in a tertiary stratum is now most         that species generally become rare before they be-
rare, and has even long been thought extinct. If then,      come extinct — to feel no surprise at the compara-
as appears probable, species first become rare and          tive rarity of one species with another, and yet to
then extinct — if the too rapid increase of every spe-      call in some extraordinary agent and to marvel
cies, even the most favoured, is steadily checked, as       greatly when a species ceases to exist, appears to
we must admit, though how and when it is hard to            me much the same as to admit that sickness in the
say — and if we see, without the smallest surprise,         individual is the prelude to death — to feel no sur-
though unable to assign the precise reason, one spe-        prise at sickness — but when the sick man dies to
cies abundant and another closely allied species rare       wonder, and to believe that he died through violence.
in the same district —why should we feel such great
astonishment at the rarity being carried one step fur-
ther to extinction? An action going on, on every side
of us, and yet barely appreciable, might surely be
carried a little further, without exciting our observa-
tion. Who would feel any great surprise at hearing
that the Magalonyx was formerly rare compared with
the Megatherium, or that one of the fossil monkeys
was few in number compared with one of the now
living monkeys? and yet in this comparative rarity,

                                                          195
                                           The Voyage of the Beagle
                                                          but then, from the want of provisions, was obliged
        CHAPTER IX                                        to return. Excepting what was discovered at that
                                                          time, scarcely anything was known about this large
SANTA CRUZ, PATAGONIA, AND                                river. Captain Fitz Roy now determined to follow
                                                          its course as far as time would allow. On the 18th
  THE FALKLAND ISLANDS
                                                          three whale-boats started, carrying three weeks’ pro-
                                                          visions; and the party consisted of twenty-five souls
  Santa Cruz — Expedition up the River — Indians
                                                          — a force which would have been sufficient to have
— Immense Streams of Basaltic Lava — Fragments
                                                          defied a host of Indians. With a strong flood-tide and
not transported by the River — Excavations of the
                                                          a fine day we made a good run, soon drank some of
Valley — Condor, Habits of —Cordillera — Erratic
                                                          the fresh water, and were at night nearly above the
Boulders of great size — Indian Relics —Return to
                                                          tidal influence.
the Ship — Falkland Islands — Wild Horses, Cattle,
                                                            The river here assumed a size and appearance
Rabbits — Wolf-like Fox — Fire made of Bones —
                                                          which, even at the highest point we ultimately
Manner of Hunting Wild Cattle — Geology —
                                                          reached, was scarcely diminished. It was generally
Streams of Stones — Scenes of Violence — Penguins
                                                          from three to four hundred yards broad, and in the
— Geese — Eggs of Doris — Compound Animals.
                                                          middle about seventeen feet deep. The rapidity of
                                                          the current, which in its whole course runs at the rate
  APRIL 13, 1834. — The Beagle anchored within the
                                                          of from four to six knots an hour, is perhaps its most
mouth of the Santa Cruz. This river is situated about
                                                          remarkable feature. The water is of a fine blue colour,
sixty miles south of Port St. Julian. During the last
                                                          but with a slight milky tinge, and not so transparent
voyage Captain Stokes proceeded thirty miles up it,

                                                        196
                                                    Charles Darwin
as at first sight would have been expected. It flows           independent of the others. After sunset the first leve
over a bed of pebbles, like those which compose the            spot where any bushes were growing, was chosen
beach and the surrounding plains. It runs in a wind-           for ou night’s lodging. Each of the crew took it in
ing course through valley, which extends in a direct           turns to b cook. Immediately the boat was hauled
line westward. This valle varies from five to ten miles        up, the cook mad his fire; two others pitched the tent;
in breadth; it is bounded b step-formed terraces,              the coxswain hande the things out of the boat; the
which rise in most parts, one above th other, to the           rest carried them up to th tents and collected fire-
height of five hundred feet, and have on th opposite           wood. By this order, in half an hou everything was
sides a remarkable correspondence.                             ready for the night. A watch of two me and an officer
  April 19th. — Against so strong a current it was, o          was always kept, whose duty it was to loo after the
course, quite impossible to row or sail: consequently          boats, keep up the fire, and guard against Indians
th three boats were fastened together head and stern,          Each in the party had his one hour every night.
two hand left in each, and the rest came on shore to             During this day we tracked but a short distance,
track. As th general arrangements made by Captain              for ther were many islets, covered by thorny bushes,
Fitz Roy were ver good for facilitating the work of            and the channels between them were shallow.
all, and as all had a shar in it, I will describe the sys-       April 20th. — We passed the islands and set to
tem. The party including ever one, was divided into            work. Ou regular day’s march, although it was hard
two spells, each of which hauled at th tracking line           enough, carrie us on an average only ten miles in a
alternately for an hour and a half. The officers of each       straight line, and perhaps fifteen or twenty alto-
boat lived with, ate the same food, and slep in the            gether. Beyond the place wher we slept last night,
same tent with their crew, so that each boat wa quite          the country is completely _terra incognita_ for it was

                                                             197
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
there that Captain Stokes turned back. We sa in the          the land, and the water flowing over a bed of pebble
distance a great smoke, and found the skeleton of            partakes of the same curse. Hence the number of
horse, so we knew that Indians were in the                   waterfowl is very scanty; for there is nothing to sup-
neighbourhood On the next morning (21st) tracks of           port life i the stream of this barren river.
a party of horse and marks left by the trailing of the         Patagonia, poor as she is in some respects, can
chuzos, or long spears were observed on the ground.          howeve boast of a greater stock of small rodents*
It was generally though that the Indians had recon-          than perhaps an other country in the world. Several
noitred us during the night Shortly afterwards we            species of mice ar externally characterized by large
came to a spot where, from the fres footsteps of men,        thin ears and a very fin fur. These little animals
children, and horses, it was evident tha the party had       swarm amongst the thickets in th valleys, where they
crossed the river.                                           cannot for months together taste a dro of water ex-
  April 22nd. — The country remained the same, and           cepting the dew. They all seem to be cannibals for
wa extremely uninteresting. The complete similar-            no sooner was a mouse caught in one of my traps
ity of th productions throughout Patagonia is one of         tha it was devoured by others. A small and delicately
its most striking characters. The level plains of arid       shape fox, which is likewise very abundant, prob-
shingle suppor the same stunted and dwarf plants;            ably derives it entire support from these small ani-
and in the valleys th same thorn-bearing bushes              mals. The guanaco i also in his proper district, herds
grow. Everywhere we see th same birds and insects.           of fifty or a hundred wer common; and, as I have
Even the very banks of the rive and of the clear
                                                             *The desserts of Syria are characterized, according to
streamlets which entered it, were scarcel enlivened
                                                             Volney (tom. i. p. 351), by woody bushes, numerous rats,
by a brighter tint of green. The curse of sterilit is on     gazelles and hares. In the landscape of Patagonia, the
                                                             guanaco replaces the gazelle, and the agouti the hare.
                                                           198
                                                Charles Darwin
stated, we saw one which mus have contained at least       change i the geological structure of the plains. From
five hundred. The puma, with th condor and other           the first starting I had carefully examined the gravel
carrion-hawks in its train, follows an preys upon          in the river, an for the two last days had noticed the
these animals. The footsteps of the puma wer to be         presence of a few smal pebbles of a very cellular
seen almost everywhere on the banks of the river           basalt. These gradually increase in number and in
and the remains of several guanacos, with their neck       size, but none were as large as a man’ head. This
dislocated and bones broken, showed how they had           morning, however, pebbles of the same rock but
met thei death.                                            more compact, suddenly became abundant, and in
  April 24th. — Like the navigators of old when            th course of half an hour we saw, at the distance of
approachin an unknown land, we examined and                five o six miles, the angular edge of a great basaltic
watched for the mos trivial sign of a change. The          platform When we arrived at its base we found the
drifted trunk of a tree, or boulder of primitive rock,     stream bubblin among the fallen blocks. For the next
was hailed with joy, as if we ha seen a forest grow-       twenty-eight mile the river-course was encumbered
ing on the flanks of the Cordillera. Th top, however,      with these basaltic masses Above that limit immense
of a heavy bank of clouds, which remaine almost            fragments of primitive rocks derived from its sur-
constantly in one position, was the most promisin          rounding boulder-formation, wer equally numerous.
sign, and eventually turned out a true harbinger. At       None of the fragments of any considerable size had
first th clouds were mistaken for the mountains them-      been washed more than three or four mile down the
selves, instea of the masses of vapour condensed by        river below their parent-source: considering th sin-
their icy summits.                                         gular rapidity of the great body of water in the Sant
  April 26th. — We this day met with a marked              Cruz, and that no still reaches occur in any part, this

                                                         199
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
example is a most striking one, of the inefficiency of       had an average thickness of nearl three hundred feet,
rivers i transporting even moderately-sized frag-            and a breadth varying from rather les than two miles
ments.                                                       to four miles? The river, though it has s little power
  The basalt is only lava, which has flowed beneath          in transporting even inconsiderable fragments yet
the sea but the eruptions must have been on the              in the lapse of ages might produce by its gradual
grandest scale. A the point where we first met this          erosio an effect of which it is difficult to judge the
formation it was 120 fee in thickness; following up          amount. Bu in this case, independently of the insig-
the river course, the surfac imperceptibly rose and          nificance of such a agency, good reasons can be as-
the mass became thicker, so that a forty miles above         signed for believing that thi valley was formerly oc-
the first station it was 320 feet thick What the thick-      cupied by an arm of the sea. It i needless in this work
ness may be close to the Cordillera, I hav no means          to detail the arguments leading to thi conclusion,
of knowing, but the platform there attains a heigh of        derived from the form and the nature of th step-
about three thousand feet above the level of the sea         formed terraces on both sides of the valley, from th
we must therefore look to the mountains of that great        manner in which the bottom of the valley near the
chai for its source; and worthy of such a source are         Ande expands into a great estuary-like plain with
streams tha have flowed over the gently inclined bed         sand-hillock on it, and from the occurrence of a few
of the sea to distance of one hundred miles. At the          sea-shells lying i the bed of the river. If I had space I
first glance of th basaltic cliffs on the opposite sides     could prove tha South America was formerly here
of the valley, it wa evident that the strata once were       cut off by a strait, joinin the Atlantic and Pacific
united. What power, then has removed along a whole           oceans, like that of Magellan But it may yet be asked,
line of country, a solid mass o very hard rock, which        how has the solid basalt bee moved? Geologists for-

                                                           200
                                                 Charles Darwin
merly would have brought into play the violent ac-          were reduced first to smaller blocks, then to pebbles
tion of some overwhelming debacle; but in thi case          an lastly to the most impalpable mud, which the tides
such a supposition would have been quite inadmis-           drifte far into the Eastern or Western Ocean.
sible because, the same step-like plains with exist-          With the change in the geological structure of the
ing sea-shell lying on their surface, which front the       plain the character of the landscape likewise altered.
long line of the Patagonian coast, sweep up on each         While rambling up some of the narrow and rocky
side of the valley of Sant Cruz. No possible action of      defiles, I could almos have fancied myself trans-
any flood could thus hav modelled the land, either          ported back again to the barre valleys of the island
within the valley or along the ope coast; and by the        of St. Jago. Among the basaltic cliffs I found some
formation of such step-like plains or terraces the val-     plants which I had seen nowhere else, bu others I
ley itself had been hollowed out. Although w know           recognised as being wanderers from Tierra de Fuego.
that there are tides, which run within the Narrow of        These porous rocks serve as a reservoir for th scanty
the Strait of Magellan at the rate of eight knots an        rain-water; and consequently on the line where th
hour yet we must confess that it makes the head al-         igneous and sedimentary formations unite, some
most giddy t reflect on the number of years, century        smal springs (most rare occurrences in Patagonia)
after century, whic the tides, unaided by a heavy surf,     burst forth and they could be distinguished at a dis-
must have required t have corroded so vast an area          tance by the circumscribed patches of bright green
and thickness of solid basalti lava. Nevertheless, we       herbage.
must believe that the strata undermined by the wa-            April 27th. — The bed of the river became rather
ters of this ancient strait, were broken u into huge        narrower and hence the stream more rapid. It here
fragments, and these lying scattered on the beach           ran at the rat of six knots an hour. From this cause,

                                                          201
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
and from the man great angular fragments, tracking           lar cliffs. I Chile, they haunt, during the greater part
the boats became bot dangerous and laborious                 of the year, th lower country near the shores of the
                                                             Pacific, and at nigh several roost together in one tree;
  This day I shot a condor. It measured from tip to ti       but in the early part o summer, they retire to the most
of the wings, eight and a half feet, and from beak to        inaccessible parts of th inner Cordillera, there to
tail four feet. This bird is known to have a wide            breed in peace.
geographica range, being found on the west coast of            With respect to their propagation, I was told by th
South America from the Strait of Magellan along the          country people in Chile, that the condor makes no
Cordillera as far a eight degrees north of the equa-         sort o nest, but in the months of November and De-
tor. The steep cliff near th mouth of the Rio Negro is       cember lay two large white eggs on a shelf of bare
its northern limit on the Patagonian coast; and they         rock. It is said tha the young condors cannot fly for
have there wandered about fou hundred miles from             an entire year; and lon after they are able, they con-
the great central line of their habitation in the Andes.     tinue to roost by night, an hunt by day with their
Further south, among the bold precipices at the head         parents. The old birds generally liv in pairs; but
of Port Desire, the condor is not uncommon; yet only         among the inland basaltic cliffs of the Sant Cruz, I
a few stragglers occasionally visit the seacoast. A line     found a spot, where scores must usually haunt. O
of cliff near the mouth of the Santa Cruz i frequented       coming suddenly to the brow of the precipice, it was
by these birds, and about eighty miles up th river,          a gran spectacle to see between twenty and thirty of
where the sides of the valley are formed by stee ba-         these grea birds start heavily from their resting-place,
saltic precipices, the condor reappears. From these          and wheel awa in majestic circles. From the quantity
facts it seems that the condors require perpendicu-          of dung on the rocks they must long have frequented

                                                           202
                                                  Charles Darwin
this cliff for roosting an breeding. Having gorged           Besides feeding on carrion, the condors frequently
themselves with carrion on th plains below, they re-         attack young goats and lambs; and the shepherd-
tire to these favourite ledges to diges their food. From     dogs are trained, whenever they pass over, to run
these facts, the condor, like the gallinazo must to a        out, an looking upwards to bark violently. The
certain degree be considered as a gregarious bird In         Chilenos destro and catch numbers. Two methods
this part of the country they live altogether on the         are used; one is to plac a carcass on a level piece of
guanacos which have died a natural death, or as more         ground within an enclosure o sticks with an open-
commonl happens, have been killed by the pumas. I            ing, and when the condors are gorged to gallop up
believe, fro what I saw in Patagonia, that they do not       on horseback to the entrance, and thus enclos them:
on ordinary occasions extend their daily excursions          for when this bird has not space to run, it canno give
to any great distanc from their regular sleeping-            its body sufficient momentum to rise from the
places.                                                      ground The second method is to mark the trees in
  The condors may oftentimes be seen at a great              which, frequentl to the number of five or six together,
height soaring over a certain spot in the most grace-        they roost, and the at night to climb up and noose
ful circles On some occasions I am sure that they do         them. They are such heav sleepers, as I have myself
this only fo pleasure, but on others, the Chileno coun-      witnessed, that this is not a difficult task. At
tryman tells yo that they are watching a dying ani-          Valparaiso, I have seen a living condor sol for six-
mal, or the puma devouring its prey. If the condors          pence, but the common price is eight or ten shillings
glide down, and then suddenl all rise together, the          One which I saw brought in, had been tied with rope,
Chileno knows that it is the pum which, watching             an was much injured; yet, the moment the line was
the carcass, has sprung out to drive awa the robbers.        cut b which its bill was secured, although sur-

                                                           203
                                                 The Voyage of the Beagle
rounded by people it began ravenously to tear a                  den the following experiment: the condor were tied,
piece of carrion. In a garde at the same place, be-              each by a rope, in a long row at the bottom of wall;
tween twenty and thirty were kept alive They were                and having folded up a piece of meat in white pa-
fed only once a week, but they appeared in prett                 per, walked backwards and forwards, carrying it in
good health.* The Chileno countrymen assert that                 my hand a the distance of about three yards from
the condor will live, and retain its vigour, between             them, but no notic whatever was taken. I then threw
five and six week without eating: I cannot answer                it on the ground, withi one yard of an old male bird;
for the truth of this, bu it is a cruel experiment, which        he looked at it for a momen with attention, but then
very likely has been tried.                                      regarded it no more. With a stic I pushed it closer
  When an animal is killed in the country, it is well            and closer, until at last he touched it wit his beak;
know that the condors, like other carrion-vultures,              the paper was then instantly torn off with fury and
soon gain intelligence of it, and congregate in an in-           at the same moment, every bird in the long row bega
explicable manner In most cases it must not be over-             struggling and flapping its wings. Under the same
looked, that the bird have discovered their prey, and            circumstances, it would have been quite impossible
have picked the skeleto clean, before the flesh is in            to have deceive a dog. The evidence in favour of and
the least degree tainted. Remembering the experi-                against the acut smelling powers of carrion-vultures
ments of M. Audubon, on the littl smelling powers                is singularly balanced Professor Owen has demon-
of carrion-hawks, I tried in the above mentioned gar-            strated that the olfactory nerve of the turkey-buzzard
                                                                 (Cathartes aura) are highly developed, and on the
*I noticed that several hours before any one of the con-
                                                                 evening when Mr. Owen’s paper was rea at the Zoo-
dors died, all the lice, with which it was infested, crawled
to the outside feathers. I was assured that this always          logical Society, it was mentioned by a gentlema that
happens.
                                                               204
                                                 Charles Darwin
he had seen the carrion-hawks in the West Indies o          fact are attested by the signatures of six gentlemen,
two occasions collect on the roof of a house, when a        besides tha of Mr. Bachman.*
corps had become offensive from not having been               Often when lying down to rest on the open plains,
buried, in thi case, the intelligence could hardly have     o looking upwards, I have seen carrion-hawks sail-
been acquired b sight. On the other hand, besides           ing throug the air at a great height. Where the coun-
the experiments of Audubon and that one by my-              try is level I d not believe a space of the heavens, of
self, Mr. Bachman has tried in th United States many        more than fifteen degrees above the horizon, is com-
varied plans, showing that neither th turkey-buzzard        monly viewed with any attention by a person either
(the species dissected by Professor Owen nor the            walking or on horseback. If suc be the case, and the
                                                            vulture is on the wing at a height o between three
gallinazo find their food by smell. He covered por-
                                                            and four thousand feet, before it could com within
tions of highly-offensive offal with a thin canvas
                                                            the range of vision, its distance in a straight lin from
cloth, an strewed pieces of meat on it: these the car-
                                                            the beholder’s eye, would be rather more than tw
rion-vultures at up, and then remained quietly stand-
                                                            British miles. Might it not thus readily be overlooked
ing, with their beak within the eighth of an inch of
                                                            When an animal is killed by the sportsman in a lonely
the putrid mass, withou discovering it. A small rent
                                                            valley may he not all the while be watched from
was made in the canvas, an the offal was immedi-            above by th sharp-sighted bird? And will not the
ately discovered; the canvas was replaced by a fresh        manner of its descen proclaim throughout the dis-
piece, and meat again put on it, and wa again de-           trict to the whole family o carrion-feeders, that their
voured by the vultures without their discoverin the         prey is at hand?
hidden mass on which they were trampling. These
                                                            *London’s Magazine of Nat. Hist., vol. vii.

                                                          205
                                           The Voyage of the Beagle
  When the condors are wheeling in a flock round          upwards with th even and steady movement of a
an round any spot, their flight is beautiful. Except      paper kite. In the case o any bird soaring, its motion
when risin from the ground, I do not recollect ever       must be sufficiently rapid s that the action of the in-
having seen on of these birds flap its wings. Near        clined surface of its body on th atmosphere may
Lima, I watched severa for nearly half an hour, with-     counterbalance its gravity. The force t keep up the
out once taking off my eyes they moved in large           momentum of a body moving in a horizonta plane
curves, sweeping in circles, descendin and ascend-        in the air (in which there is so little friction) canno be
ing without giving a single flap. As they glide close     great, and this force is all that is wanted. The move-
over my head, I intently watched from an oblique          ment of the neck and body of the condor, we must
position, the outlines of the separate and great ter-     suppose is sufficient for this. However this may be,
minal feather of each wing; and these separate feath-     it is truly wonderful and beautiful to see so great a
ers, if there had bee the least vibratory movement,       bird, hour after hour without any apparent exertion,
would have appeared as i blended together; but they       wheeling and gliding ove mountain and river
were seen distinct against th blue sky. The head and        April 29th. — From some high land we hailed with
neck were moved frequently, an apparently with            jo the white summits of the Cordillera, as they were
force; and the extended wings seemed t form the ful-      seen occasionally peeping through their dusky en-
crum on which the movements of the neck, body and         velope of clouds During the few succeeding days
tail acted. If the bird wished to descend, the wing       we continued to get o slowly, for we found the river-
were for a moment collapsed; and when again               course very tortuous, an strewed with immense frag-
expande with an altered inclination, the momentum         ments of various ancient slat rocks, and of granite.
gained by th rapid descent seemed to urge the bird        The plain bordering the valley ha here attained an

                                                        206
                                                  Charles Darwin
elevation of about 1100 feet above the river and its         a bunch of ostrich feathers —but they appeared to
character was much altered. The well-rounded                 have been lying long on the ground Between the
pebbles of porphyry were mingled with many im-               place where the Indians had so lately crosse the river
mense angula fragments of basalt and of primary              and this neighbourhood, though so many mile apart,
rocks. The first of thes erratic boulders which I no-        the country appears to be quite unfrequented. At first
ticed, was sixty-seven miles distant from the nearest        considering the abundance of the guanacos, I was
mountain; another which I measure was five yards             surprise at this; but it is explained by the stony na-
square, and projected five feet above th gravel. Its         ture of the plains which would soon disable an un-
edges were so angular, and its size so great, tha I at       shod horse from taking par in the chase. Neverthe-
first mistook it for a rock in situ, and took out my         less, in two places in this very centra region, I found
compass to observe the direction of its cleavage. The        small heaps of stones, which I do not thin could have
plain her was not quite so level as that nearer the          been accidentally thrown together. They wer placed
coast, but yet i betrayed no signs of any great vio-         on points, projecting over the edge of the highest
lence. Under these circumstances it is, I believe, quite     lav cliff, and they resembled, but on a small scale,
impossible to explain th transportal of these gigan-         those nea Port Desire.
tic masses of rock so many mile from their parent-             May 4th. — Captain Fitz Roy determined to take
source, on any theory except by that o floating ice-         the boat no higher. The river had a winding course,
bergs.                                                       and was ver rapid; and the appearance of the coun-
  During the two last days we met with signs of              try offered no temptation to proceed any further.
horses, an with several small articles which had be-         Everywhere we met with th same productions, and
longed to the Indian — such as parts of a mantle and         the same dreary landscape. We wer now one hun-

                                                           207
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
dred and forty miles distant from the Atlantic and           Beagle after our twenty-one days expedition. Every
about sixty from the nearest arm of the Pacific. Th          one, excepting myself, had cause to b dissatisfied;
valley in this upper part expanded into a wide ba-           but to me the ascent afforded a most interestin sec-
sin, bounde on the north and south by the basaltic           tion of the great tertiary formation of Patagonia
platforms, and fronte by the long range of the snow-           On March 1st, 1833, and again on March 16th, 1834,
clad Cordillera. But w viewed these grand moun-              th Beagle anchored in Berkeley Sound, in East
tains with regret, for we wer obliged to imagine their       Falkland Island This archipelago is situated in nearly
nature and productions, instead o standing, as we            the same latitude wit the mouth of the Strait of
had hoped, on their summits. Besides th useless loss         Magellan; it covers a space o one hundred and
of time which an attempt to ascend the river an higher       twenty by sixty geographical miles, and is little more
would have cost us, we had already been for som              than half the size of Ireland. After the possession of
days on half allowance of bread. This, although reall        these miserable islands had been contested by France
enough for reasonable men, was, after a hard day’s           Spain, and England, they were left uninhabited. The
march rather scanty food: a light stomach and an easy        government of Buenos Ayres then sold them to a
digestio are good things to talk about, but very un-         private individual, but likewise used them, as old
pleasant in practice                                         Spain had done before for a penal settlement. En-
  5th. — Before sunrise we commenced our descent.            gland claimed her right an seized them. The English-
W shot down the stream with great rapidity, gener-           man who was left in charge o the flag was conse-
ally at th rate of ten knots an hour. In this one day we     quently murdered. A British officer wa next sent,
effected wha had cost us five-and-a-half hard days’          unsupported by any power: and when we arrived
labour in ascending On the 8th, we reached the               we found him in charge of a population, of which

                                                           208
                                                    Charles Darwin
rathe more than half were runaway rebels and mur-            starte with six horses and two Gauchos: the latter
derers.                                                      were capita men for the purpose, and well accus-
  The theatre is worthy of the scenes acted on it. An        tomed to living on thei own resources. The weather
undulating land, with a desolate and wretched as-            was very boisterous and cold with heavy hail-storms.
pect, is everywhere covered by a peaty soil and wiry         We got on, however, pretty well but, except the ge-
grass, of one monotonous brown colour. Here and              ology, nothing could be less interestin than our day’s
there a peak or ridg of grey quartz rock breaks              ride. The country is uniformly the sam undulating
through the smooth surface Every one has heard of            moorland; the surface being covered by ligh brown
the climate of these regions; i may be compared to           withered grass and a few very small shrubs, al
that which is experienced at the heigh of between            springing out of an elastic peaty soil. In the valleys
one and two thousand feet, on the mountains o North          her and there might be seen a small flock of wild
Wales; having however less sunshine and less frost           geese, an everywhere the ground was so soft that
but more wind and rain.*                                     the snipe were abl to feed. Besides these two birds
  16th. — I will now describe a short excursion which        there were few others There is one main range of
made round a part of this island. In the morning I           hills, nearly two thousand fee in height, and com-
                                                             posed of quartz rock, the rugged and barren crests
*From accounts published since our voyage, and more          of which gave us some trouble to cross. On th south
especially from several interesting letters from Capt.
Sulivan, R. N., employed on the survey, it appears that we   side we came to the best country for wild cattle; w
took an exaggerated view of the badness of the climate       met, however, no great number, for they had been
on these islands. But when I reflect on the almost univer-
                                                             latel much harassed.
sal covering of peat, and on the fact of wheat seldom rip-
ening here, I can hardly believe that the climate in sum-      In the evening we came across a small herd. One
mer is so fine and dry as it has lately been represented.
                                                         209
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
of m companions, St. Jago by name, soon separated            one, and would not stand still, but gave in to the
a fat cow he threw the bolas, and it struck her legs,        cow as sh struggled. It was admirable to see with
but failed in becoming entangled. Then dropping              what dexterity St Jago dodged behind the beast, till
his hat to mark the spo where the balls were left,           at last he contrived t give the fatal touch to the main
while at full gallop, he uncoile his lazo, and after a       tendon of the hind le after which, without much dif-
most severe chase, again came up t the cow, and              ficulty, he drove his knif into the head of the spinal
caught her round the horns. The other Gauch had              marrow, and the cow droppe as if struck by light-
gone on ahead with the spare horses, so that St. Jag         ning. He cut off pieces of flesh wit the skin to it, but
had some difficulty in killing the furious beast. He         without any bones, sufficient for ou expedition. We
managed to get her on a level piece of ground, by            then rode on to our sleeping-place, an had for sup-
taking advantage of her as often as she rushed at him;       per “carne con cuero,” or meat roasted with th skin
and when sh would not move, my horse, from hav-              on it. This is as superior to common beef as veniso is
ing been trained, woul canter up, and with his chest         to mutton. A large circular piece taken from the bac
give her a violent push. Bu when on level ground it          is roasted on the embers with the hide downwards
does not appear an easy job fo one man to kill a beast       and i the form of a saucer, so that none of the gravy
mad with terror. Nor would it b so, if the horse, when       is lost If any worthy alderman had supped with us
left to itself without its rider, di not soon learn, for     that evening “carne con cuero,” without doubt,
its own safety, to keep the lazo tight so that, if the       would soon have bee celebrated in London
cow or ox moves forward, the horse move just as                During the night it rained, and the next day (17th)
quickly forward; otherwise, it stands motionles lean-        wa very stormy, with much hail and snow. We rode
ing on one side. This horse, however, was a youn             across th island to the neck of land which joins the

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                                                Charles Darwin
Rincon del Tor (the great peninsula at the S. W. ex-       his horns as h rushed at the horse, and another round
tremity) to the rest o the island. From the great num-     his hind legs: in minute the monster was stretched
ber of cows which hav been killed, there is a large        powerless on the ground After the lazo has once been
proportion of bulls. These wander about single, or         drawn tightly round the horn of a furious animal, it
two and three together, and are ver savage. I never        does not at first appear an easy thin to disengage it
saw such magnificent beasts; they equalle in the size      again without killing the beast: nor, I apprehend,
of their huge heads and necks the Grecian marbl            would it be so if the man was by himself. By th aid,
sculptures. Capt. Sulivan informs me that the hide         however, of a second person throwing his lazo so as
of a average-sized bull weighs forty-seven pounds,         t catch both hind legs, it is quickly managed: for the
whereas hide of this weight, less thoroughly dried,        animal as long as its hind legs are kept outstretched,
is considered a a very heavy one at Monte Video.           is quite helpless, and the first man can with his hands
The young bulls generally run away, for a short dis-       loosen his laz from the horns, and then quietly mount
tance; but the old ones do no stir a step, except to       his horse; but th moment the second man, by back-
rush at man and horse; and man horses have been            ing ever so little, relaxe the strain, the lazo slips off
thus killed. An old bull crossed a bogg stream, and        the legs of the struggling beast which then rises free,
took his stand on the opposite side to us; w in vain       shakes himself, and vainly rushes a his antagonist
tried to drive him away, and failing, were oblige to         During our whole ride we saw only one troop of
make a large circuit. The Gauchos in revenge deter-        wil horses. These animals, as well as the cattle, were
mined to emasculate him and render him for the             introduce by the French in 1764, since which time
futur harmless. It was very interesting to see how art     both have greatl increased. It is a curious fact, that
completel mastered force. One lazo was thrown over         the horses have neve left the eastern end of the is-

                                                         211
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
land, although there is no natural boundary to pre-         her foal to its fate. Capt. Sulivan can so fa corrobo-
vent them from roaming, and that par of the island          rate this curious account, that he has several time
is not more tempting than the rest. The Gauchos             found young foals dead, whereas he has never found
whom I asked, though asserting this to be the case          a dea calf. Moreover, the dead bodies of full-grown
were unable to account for it, except from the strong       horses ar more frequently found, as if more subject
attachment which horses have to any locality to             to disease o accidents, than those of the cattle. From
which they ar accustomed. Considering that the is-          the softness o the ground their hoofs often grow ir-
land does not appea fully stocked, and that there           regularly to a grea length, and this causes lameness.
are no beasts of prey, I wa particularly curious to         The predominant colour are roan and iron-grey. All
know what has checked their originally rapid in-            the horses bred here, both tam and wild, are rather
crease. That in a limited island some chec would            small-sized, though generally in goo condition; and
sooner or later supervene, is inevitable; but why ha        they have lost so much strength, that the are unfit to
the increase of the horse been checked sooner than          be used in taking wild cattle with the lazo: i conse-
that o the cattle? Capt. Sulivan has taken much pains       quence, it is necessary to go to the great expense o
for m in this inquiry. The Gauchos employed here            importing fresh horses from the Plata. At some futur
attribute i chiefly to the stallions constantly roaming     period the southern hemisphere probably will have
from place t place, and compelling the mares to ac-         its bree of Falkland ponies, as the northern has its
company them, whethe or not the young foals are             Shetland breed.
able to follow. One Gaucho tol Capt. Sulivan that he          The cattle, instead of having degenerated like the
had watched a stallion for a whol hour, violently           horse seem, as before remarked, to have increased
kicking and biting a mare till he force her to leave        in size; an they are much more numerous than the

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                                                   Charles Darwin
horses Capt. Sulivan informs me that they vary much           though living on th high land, calve about a month
less in the genera form of their bodies and in the            earlier in the season tha the other coloured beasts on
shape of their horns tha English cattle. In colour they       the lower land. It is interesting thus to find the once
differ much; and it is a remarkable circumstance, that        domesticated cattle breakin into three colours, of
in different parts of this on small island, different         which some one colour would in al probability ulti-
colours predominate. Round Moun Usborne, at a                 mately prevail over the others, if the herd were left
height of from 1000 to 1500 feet above the sea about          undisturbed for the next several centuries.
half of some of the herds are mouse or lead-coloured            The rabbit is another animal which has been intro-
a tint which is not common in other parts of the is-          duced and has succeeded very well; so that they
land Near Port Pleasant dark brown prevails,                  abound over larg parts of the island. Yet, like the
whereas south o Choiseul Sound (which almost di-              horses, they are confine within certain limits; for they
vides the island into tw parts), white beasts with            have not crossed the centra chain of hills, nor would
black heads and feet are the mos common: in all parts         they have extended even so far a its base, if, as the
black, and some spotted animals ma be observed.               Gauchos informed me, small colonies ha not been
Capt. Sulivan remarks, that the difference i the pre-         carried there. I should not have supposed tha these
vailing colours was so obvious, that in looking fo            animals, natives of northern Africa, could have existe
the herds near Port Pleasant, they appeared from a            in a climate so humid as this, and which enjoys so
lon distance like black spots, whilst south of Choiseul       littl sunshine that even wheat ripens only occasion-
Soun they appeared like white spots on the hill-sides.        ally. It i asserted that in Sweden, which any one
Capt. Sulivan thinks that the herds do not mingle;            would have though a more favourable climate, the
and it is a singula fact, that the mouse-coloured cattle,     rabbit cannot live out o doors. The first few pairs,

                                                            213
                                                  The Voyage of the Beagle
moreover, had here to conten against pre-existing                 differently from the French specific description. This
enemies, in the fox and some larg hawks. The French               circumstance shows how cautious naturalists should
naturalists have considered the black variety a dis-              be i making species; for even Cuvier, on looking at
tinct species, and called it Lepus Magellanicus.*                 the skul of one of these rabbits, thought it was prob-
They imagined that Magellan, when talking of an                   ably distinct!
anima under the name of “conejos” in the Strait of                  The only quadruped native to the island*; is a large
Magellan referred to this species; but he was allud-              wolf like fox (Canis antarcticus), which is common
ing to a small cavy which to this day is thus called              to both Eas and West Falkland. I have no doubt it is
by the Spaniards. Th Gauchos laughed at the idea of               a peculiar species and confined to this archipelago;
the black kind being different from the grey, and they            because many sealers Gauchos, and Indians, who
said that at all events it ha not extended its range              have visited these islands, al maintain that no such
any further than the grey kind; tha the two were never            animal is found in any part of Sout America.
found separate; and that they readil bred together,                 Molina, from a similarity in habits, thought that
and produced piebald offspring. Of the latte I now                thi was the same with his “culpeu;”** but I have seen
possess a specimen, and it is marked about the hea                both and they are quite distinct. These wolves are
*Lesson’s Zoology of the Voyage of the Coquille, tom. i. p.
168. All the early voyagers, and especially Bougainville,         *I have reason, however, to suspect that there is a field-
distinctly state that the wolf-like fox was the only native       mouse. The common European rat and mouse have
animal on the island. The distinction of the rabbit as a spe-     roamed far from the habitations of the settlers. The com-
cies, is taken from peculiarities in the fur, from the shape      mon hog has also run wild on one islet; all are of a black
of the head, and from the shortness of the ears. I may            colour: the boars are very fierce, and have great trunks.
here observe that the difference between the Irish and            **The “culpeu” is the Canis Magellanicus brought home
English hare rests upon nearly similar characters, only           by Captain King from the Strait of Magellan. It is common
more strongly marked                                              in Chile.
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                                               Charles Darwin
well know from Byron’s account of their tameness          hea of Choiseul Sound, which forms the south-west
and curiosity, whic the sailors, who ran into the wa-     peninsula The valley was pretty well sheltered from
ter to avoid them, mistoo for fierceness. To this day     the cold wind but there was very little brushwood
their manners remain the same They have been ob-          for fuel. The Gauchos however, soon found what, to
served to enter a tent, and actually pul some meat        my great surprise, made nearl as hot a fire as coals;
from beneath the head of a sleeping seaman. Th Gau-       this was the skeleton of a bullock lately killed, from
chos also have frequently in the evening killed them      which the flesh had been picked by the carrion-
by holding out a piece of meat in one hand, and in        hawks. They told me that in winter they often killed
the othe a knife ready to stick them. As far as I am      a beast, cleaned the flesh from the bones with their
aware, ther is no other instance in any part of the       knives and then with these same bones roasted the
world, of so smal a mass of broken land, distant from     meat for thei suppers.
a continent, possessin so large an aboriginal quad-         18th. — It rained during nearly the whole day. At
ruped peculiar to itself. Thei numbers have rapidly       nigh we managed, however, with our saddle-cloths
decreased; they are already banishe from that half of     to keep ourselves pretty well dry and warm; but the
the island which lies to the eastward o the neck of       ground on whic we slept was on each occasion nearly
land between St. Salvador Bay and Berkele Sound.          in the state of a bog and there was not a dry spot to
Within a very few years after these islands shal have     sit down on after our day’ ride. I have in another
become regularly settled, in all probability this fo      part stated how singular it is tha there should be ab-
will be classed with the dodo, as an animal which         solutely no trees on these islands, althoug Tierra del
has perished from the face of the earth.                  Fuego is covered by one large forest. Th largest bush
  At night (17th) we slept on the neck of land at the     in the island (belonging to the family of Compositae)

                                                        215
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
is scarcely so tall as our gorse. The best fuel i af-       ing been confined for thre months by illness, he went
forded by a green little bush about the size of commo       out hunting wild cattle, and i consequence, for the
heath, which has the useful property of burning             next two days, his thighs were so stif that he was
while fres and green. It was very surprising to see         obliged to lie in bed. This shows that the Gauchos,
the Gauchos, i the midst of rain and everything soak-       although they do not appear to do so, yet really mus
ing wet, with nothin more than a tinder-box and a           exert much muscular effort in riding. The hunting
piece of rag, immediately mak a fire. They sought           wil cattle, in a country so difficult to pass as this is
beneath the tufts of grass and bushe for a few dry          on accoun of the swampy ground, must be very hard
twigs, and these they rubbed into fibres; the sur-          work. Th Gauchos say they often pass at full speed
rounding them with coarser twigs, something like a          over ground whic would be impassable at a slower
bird’ nest, they put the rag with its spark of fire in      pace; in the same manne as a man is able to skate
the middl and covered it up. The nest being then            over thin ice. When hunting, th party endeavours to
held up to th wind, by degrees it smoked more and           get as close as possible to the herd with out being
more, and at las burst out in flames. I do not think        discovered. Each man carries four or five pair o the
any other method woul have had a chance of suc-             bolas; these he throws one after the other at as man
ceeding with such damp materials.                           cattle, which, when once entangled, are left for some
  19th. — Each morning, from not having ridden for          day till they become a little exhausted by hunger
som time previously, I was very stiff. I was surprised      and struggling They are then let free and driven to-
to hea the Gauchos, who have from infancy almost            wards a small herd o tame animals, which have been
lived on horseback, say that, under similar circum-         brought to the spot on purpose. From their previ-
stances, they alway suffer. St. Jago told me, that hav-     ous treatment, being too much terrified to leave the

                                                          216
                                                  Charles Darwin
herd, they are easily driven, if thei strength last out,     related to, bu not identical with, those found in the
to the settlement.                                           Silurian formation of Europe; the hills are formed of
  The weather continued so very bad that we deter-           white granular quart rock. The strata of the latter are
mine to make a push, and try to reach the vessel be-         frequently arched wit perfect symmetry, and the ap-
fore night From the quantity of rain which had fallen,       pearance of some of the masse is in consequence
the surfac of the whole country was swampy. I sup-           most singular. Pernety* has devote several pages to
pose my horse fel at least a dozen times, and some-          the description of a Hill of Ruins, th successive strata
times the whole six horse were floundering in the            of which he has justly compared to th seats of an
mud together. All the little stream are bordered by          amphitheatre. The quartz rock must have bee quite
soft peat, which makes it very difficult fo the horses       pasty when it underwent such remarkable flexure
to leap them without falling. To complete ou dis-            without being shattered into fragments. As the quart
comforts we were obliged to cross the head of a cree         insensibly passes into the sandstone, it seems prob-
of the sea, in which the water was as high as our            able tha the former owes its origin to the sandstone
horses backs; and the little waves, owing to the vio-        having bee heated to such a degree that it became
lence of th wind, broke over us, and made us very            viscid, and upon cooling crystallized. While in the
wet and cold. Eve the iron-framed Gauchos pro-               soft state it must have bee pushed up through the
fessed themselves glad whe they reached the settle-          overlying beds.
ment, after our little excursion                               In many parts of the island the bottoms of the val-
  The geological structure of these islands is in mos        leys ar covered in an extraordinary manner by myri-
respects simple. The lower country consists of clay-         ads of grea loose angular fragments of the quartz
slat and sandstone, containing fossils, very closely
                                                             *Pernety, Voyage aux Isles Malouines, p. 526.
                                                           217
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
rock, forming “stream of stones.” These have been           stone to another. So large were the fragments that
mentioned with surprise b every voyager since the           being overtaken by a shower of rain, I readily foun
time of Pernety. The blocks ar not waterworn, their         shelter beneath one of them.
angles being only a little blunted; the vary in size          Their little inclination is the most remarkable cir-
from one or two feet in diameter to ten, or eve more        cumstance in these “streams of stones.” On the hill-
than twenty times as much. They are not throw to-           sides I hav seen them sloping at an angle of ten de-
gether into irregular piles, but are spread out into        grees with the horizon but in some of the level, broad-
leve sheets or great streams. It is not possible to as-     bottomed valleys, the inclination is only just suffi-
certain thei thickness, but the water of small              cient to be clearly perceived. On so rugged a surface
streamlets can be hear trickling through the stones         there was no means of measuring th angle, but to
many feet below the surface The actual depth is prob-       give a common illustration, I may say that th slope
ably great, because the crevice between the lower           would not have checked the speed of an English
fragments must long ago have been fille up with             mail-coach. In some places, a continuous stream of
sand. The width of these sheets of stones varie from        these fragments followed up the course of a valley,
a few hundred feet to a mile; but the peaty soil dail       and eve extended to the very crest of the hill. On
encroaches on the borders, and even forms islets            these crests hug masses, exceeding in dimensions
whereve a few fragments happen to lie close to-             any small building, seeme to stand arrested in their
gether. In a valle south of Berkeley Sound, which           headlong course: there, also, th curved strata of the
some of our party calle the “great valley of frag-          archways lay piled on each other, lik the ruins of
ments,” it was necessary to cros an uninterrupted           some vast and ancient cathedral. In endeavouring to
band half a mile wide, by jumping fro one pointed           describe these scenes of violence one is tempted to

                                                          218
                                                Charles Darwin
pas from one simile to another. We may imagine that        transverse sectio within these valleys, the bottom is
stream of white lava had flowed from many parts of         nearly level, or rises bu very little towards either
the mountain into the lower country, and that when         side. Hence the fragments appea to have travelled
solidified they had bee rent by some enormous con-         from the head of the valley; but in realit it seems
vulsion into myriads of fragments. The expression          more probable that they have been hurled down fro
“streams of stones,” which immediately occurred to         the nearest slopes; and that since, by a vibratory
every one, conveys the same idea. Thes scenes are          movemen of overwhelming force,* the fragments
on the spot rendered more striking by the contrast         have been levelle into one continuous sheet. If dur-
of the low rounded forms of the neighbouring hills.        ing the earthquake** whic in 1835 overthrew
  I was interested by finding on the highest peak of       Concepcion, in Chile, it was thought wonderful that
on range (about 700 feet above the sea) a great arched     small bodies should have been pitched a fe inches
fragment, lying on its convex side, or back down-          from the ground, what must we say to a movemen
wards. Mus we believe that it was fairly pitched up        which has caused fragments many tons in weight, to
in the air, and thu turned? Or, with more probabil-
                                                           *“Nous n’avons pas ete moins saisis d’etonnement a la
ity, that there existed formerly a part of the same        vue de l’innombrable quantite de pierres de touts gran-
range more elevated than the poin on which this            deurs, bouleversees les unes sur les autres, et cependent
monument of a great convulsion of nature no lies.          rangees, comme si elles avoient ete amoncelees
                                                           negligemment pour remplir des ravins. On ne se lassoit
As the fragments in the valleys are neither rounde         pas d’admirer les effets prodigieux de la nature.” — Pernety,
nor the crevices filled up with sand, we must infer        p. 526.
that th period of violence was subsequent to the land      **An inhabitant of Mendoza, and hence well capable of
                                                           judging, assured me that, during the several years he had
having bee raised above the waters of the sea. In a        resided on these islands, he had never felt the slightest
                                                           shock of an earthquake.
                                                         219
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
mov onwards like so much sand on a vibrating                it had caught. Eight times successively the bird let
board, and fin their level? I have seen, in the Cordil-     its prey go, then dived after it, an although in deep
lera of the Andes, th evident marks where stupen-           water, brought it each time to the surface In the Zoo-
dous mountains have been broke into pieces like so          logical Gardens I have seen the otter treat a fis in the
much thin crust, and the strata thrown o their verti-       same manner, much as a cat does a mouse: I do no
cal edges; but never did any scene, like thes “streams      know of any other instance where dame Nature ap-
of stones,” so forcibly convey to my mind the ide of        pears s wilfully cruel. Another day, having placed
a convulsion, of which in historical records we might       myself betwee a penguin (Aptenodytes demersa)
i vain seek for any counterpart: yet the progress of        and the water, I was muc amused by watching its
knowledg will probably some day give a simple               habits. It was a brave bird; and til reaching the sea, it
explanation of thi phenomenon, as it already has of         regularly fought and drove me backwards Nothing
the so long-thought inexplicable transportal of the         less than heavy blows would have stopped him; ever
erratic boulders, which are strewed over the plains         inch he gained he firmly kept, standing close before
of Europe.                                                  me erec and determined. When thus opposed he
  I have little to remark on the zoology of these is-       continually rolle his head from side to side, in a very
lands. have before described the carrion-vulture of         odd manner, as if th power of distinct vision lay only
Polyborus There are some other hawks, owls, and a           in the anterior and basa part of each eye. This bird is
few small land-birds. The water-fowl are particularly       commonly called the jackas penguin, from its habit,
numerous, and the must formerly, from the accounts          while on shore, of throwing its hea backwards, and
of the old navigators have been much more so. One           making a loud strange noise, very like th braying of
day I observed a cormoran playing with a fish which         an ass; but while at sea, and undisturbed, its not is

                                                          220
                                                  Charles Darwin
very deep and solemn, and is often heard in the              Chile. In the dee and retired channels of Tierra del
night-time In diving, its little wings are used as fins;     Fuego, the snow-whit gander, invariably accompa-
but on the land, as front legs. When crawling, it may        nied by his darker consort, an standing close by each
be said on four legs through the tussocks or on the          other on some distant rocky point, i a common fea-
side of a grassy cliff, it move so very quickly that it      ture in the landscape.
might easily be mistaken for a quadruped. When at              In these islands a great loggerheaded duck or goose
sea and fishing, it comes to the surface fo the pur-         (Ana brachyptera), which sometimes weighs twenty-
pose of breathing with such a spring, and dives agai         two pounds is very abundant. These birds were in
so instantaneously, that I defy any one at first sight       former days called from their extraordinary manner
to b sure that it was not a fish leaping for sport.          of paddling and splashin upon the water, race-
  Two kinds of geese frequent the Falklands. The             horses; but now they are named, muc more appro-
uplan species (Anas Magellanica) is common, in               priately, steamers. Their wings are too small an weak
pairs and in smal flocks, throughout the island. They        to allow of flight, but by their aid, partly swimming
do not migrate, but buil on the small outlying islets.       an partly flapping the surface of the water, they move
This is supposed to be fro fear of the foxes: and it is      ver quickly. The manner is something like that by
perhaps from the same caus that these birds, though          which th common house-duck escapes when pur-
very tame by day, are shy and wil in the dusk of the         sued by a dog; but am nearly sure that the steamer
evening. They live entirely on vegetabl matter.              moves its wings alternately instead of both together,
  The rock-goose, so called from living exclusively          as in other birds. These clumsy loggerheaded ducks
on th sea-beach (Anas antarctica), is common both            make such a noise and splashing, that th effect is
here and o the west coast of America, as far north as        exceedingly curious.

                                                           221
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
  Thus we find in South America three birds which             will mention only on class of facts, relating to cer-
use thei wings for other purposes besides flight; the         tain zoophytes in the more highl organized division
penguins as fins the steamer as paddles, and the os-          of that class. Several genera (Flustra Eschara, Cellaria,
trich as sails: and th Apteryz of New Zealand, as well        Crisia, and others) agree in having singular move-
as its gigantic extinct prototype the Deinornis, pos-         able organs (like those of Flustra avicularia, foun in
sess only rudimentary representatives of wings. The           the European seas) attached to their cells. The or-
steamer is able to dive only to a very short distance. It     gan, i the greater number of cases, very closely re-
feeds entirely on shell-fish from the kelp and tidal          sembles the hea of a vulture; but the lower mandible
rocks: hence the beak and head, for the purpose of            can be opened muc wider than in a real bird’s beak.
breaking them, are surprisingly heavy and strong: the         The head itself possesse considerable powers of
head is so strong that I have scarcely been able to frac-     movement, by means of a short neck. In one zoo-
ture it with my geological hammer; and all our sports-        to five eggs (each three-thousandths of an inch in diam-
men soon discovered how tenacious these birds were            eter) were contained in spherical little case. These were
                                                              arranged two deep in transverse rows forming a ribbon.
of life. When in the evening pluming themselves in a          The ribbon adhered by its edge to the rock in an oval spire.
flock, they make the sam odd mixture of sounds which          One which I found, measured nearly twenty inches in
bull-frogs do within the tropics                              length and half in breadth. By counting how many balls
                                                              were contained in a tenth of an inch in the row, and how
  In Tierra del Fuego, as well as in the Falkland Is-         many rows in an equal length of the ribbon, on the most
lands, made many observations on the lower ma-                moderate computation there were six hundred thousand
rine animals,* but they are of little general interest. I     eggs. Yet this Doris was certainly not very common; al-
                                                              though I was often searching under the stones, I saw only
*I was surprised to find, on counting the eggs of a large     seven individuals. No fallacy is more common with natu-
white Doris (this sea-slug was three and a half inches        ralists, than that the numbers of an individual species de-
long), how extraordinarily numerous they were. From two       pend on its powers of propagation.
                                                            222
                                                 Charles Darwin
phyte the head itself was fixed, but the lower ja free:     oscillated backwards and forwards a the rate of about
in another it was replaced by a triangular hood, with       five seconds each turn, others moved rapidly and
beautifully-fitted trap-door, which evidently an-           by starts. When touched with a needle, the bea gen-
swered to th lower mandible. In the greater number          erally seized the point so firmly, that the whole branc
of species, each cel was provided with one head, but        might be shaken.
in others each cell had two.                                  These bodies have no relation whatever with the
  The young cells at the end of the branches of these       production of the eggs or gemmules, as they are
corallines contain quite immature polypi, yet the           formed before th young polypi appear in the cells at
vulture-head attached to them, though small, are in         the end of the growin branches; as they move inde-
every respect perfect When the polypus was re-              pendently of the polypi, and d not appear to be in
moved by a needle from any of th cells, these organs        any way connected with them; and a they differ in
did not appear in the least affected. Whe one of the        size on the outer and inner rows of cells, I hav little
vulture-like heads was cut off from the cell, th lower      doubt, that in their functions, they are related rathe
mandible retained its power of opening and closing          to the horny axis of the branches than to the polypi
Perhaps the most singular part of their structure is,       in th cells. The fleshy appendage at the lower ex-
tha when there were more than two rows of cells on          tremity of th sea-pen (described at Bahia Blanca) also
a branch the central cells were furnished with these        forms part of th zoophyte, as a whole, in the same
appendages, only one-fourth the size of the outside         manner as the roots of tree form part of the whole
ones. Their movements varied according to the spe-          tree, and not of the individua leaf or flower-buds.
cies; but in some I neve saw the least motion; while          In another elegant little coralline (Crisia?), each cell
others, with the lower mandibl generally wide open,         wa furnished with a long-toothed bristle, which had

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                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
the powe of moving quickly. Each of these bristles         flashes of light always proceeded up the branches,
and each of th vulture-like heads generally moved          from th base towards the extremities.
quite independently o the others, but sometimes              The examination of these compound animals was
all on both sides of a branch, sometimes only those        alway very interesting to me. What can be more re-
on one side, moved together coinstantaneously,             markable tha to see a plant-like body producing an
sometimes each moved in regular order one after            egg, capable of swimming about and of choosing a
another. In these actions we apparently behold as          proper place to adhere to which then sprouts into
perfect a transmission of will in the zoophyte,            branches, each crowded with innumerable distinct
though composed o thousands of distinct polypi,            animals, often of complicated organizations The
as in any single animal. Th case, indeed, is not dif-      branches, moreover, as we have just seen, sometime
ferent from that of the sea-pens, which when               possess organs capable of movement and indepen-
touched, drew themselves into the sand on the coast        dent of th polypi. Surprising as this union of sepa-
o Bahia Blanca. I will state one other instance of         rate individuals in common stock must always ap-
unifor action, though of a very different nature, in       pear, every tree displays th same fact, for buds must
a zoophyt closely allied to Clytia, and therefore very     be considered as individual plants It is, however,
simply organized Having kept a large tuft of it in a       natural to consider a polypus, furnished wit a mouth,
basin of salt-water, whe it was dark I found that as       intestines, and other organs, as a distinct individual
often as I rubbed any part of branch, the whole be-        whereas the individuality of a leaf-bud is not easily
came strongly phosphorescent with green light: I           realised so that the union of separate individuals in
do not think I ever saw any object more beautifully        a common bod is more striking in a coralline than in
so. But the remarkable circumstance was, that th           a tree. Our conception of a compound animal, where

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                                                Charles Darwin
in some respects the individuality of each is not com-
pleted, may be aided, by reflectin on the production                CHAPTER X
of two distinct creatures by bisecting single one with
a knife, or where Nature herself perform the task of                TIERRA DEL FUEGO
bisection. We may consider the polypi in zoophyte,
or the buds in a tree, as cases where the divisio of         Tierra del Fuego, first arrival — Good Success Bay
the individual has not been completely effected.           — An Account of the Fuegians on board — Inter-
Certainl in the case of trees, and judging from anal-      view With the Savages — Scenery of the Forests —
ogy in that o corallines, the individuals propagated       Cape Horn — Wigwam Cove — Miserable Condi-
by buds seem mor intimately related to each other,         tion of the Savages — Famines —Cannibals — Ma-
than eggs or seeds are t their parents. It seems now       tricide — Religious Feelings — Great Gale — Beagle
pretty well established tha plants propagated by           Channel — Ponsonby Sound — Build Wigwams and
buds all partake of a common duratio of life; and it       settle the Fuegians — Bifurcation of the Beagle Chan-
is familiar to every one, what singular an numerous        nel — Glaciers — Return to the Ship — Second Visit
peculiarities are transmitted with certainty, b buds,      in the Ship to the Settlement — Equality of Condi-
layers, and grafts, which by seminal propagation           tion amongst the Natives.
neve or only casually reappear
                                                             DECEMBER 17th, 1832. — Having now finished
                                                           with Patagonia and the Falkland Islands, I will de-
                                                           scribe our first arrival in Tierra del Fuego. A little
                                                           after noon we doubled Cape St. Diego, and entered

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                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
the famous strait of Le Maire. We kept close to the           In the morning the Captain sent a party to commu-
Fuegian shore, but the outline of the rugged, inhos-        nicate with the Fuegians. When we came within hail,
pitable Statenland was visible amidst the clouds. In        one of the four natives who were present advanced
the afternoon we anchored in the Bay of Good Suc-           to receive us, and began to shout most vehemently,
cess. While entering we were saluted in a manner            wishing to direct us where to land. When we were
becoming the inhabitants of this savage land. A             on shore the party looked rather alarmed, but con-
group of Fuegians partly concealed by the entangled         tinued talking and making gestures with great ra-
forest, were perched on a wild point overhanging            pidity. It was without exception the most curious
the sea; and as we passed by, they sprang up and            and interesting spectacle I ever beheld: I could not
waving their tattered cloaks sent forth a loud and          have believed how wide was the difference between
sonorous shout. The savages followed the ship, and          savage and civilized man: it is greater than between
just before dark we saw their fire, and again heard         a wild and domesticated animal, inasmuch as in man
their wild cry. The harbour consists of a fine piece of     there is a greater power of improvement. The chief
water half surrounded by low rounded mountains              spokesman was old, and appeared to be the head of
of clay-slate, which are covered to the water’s edge        the family; the three others were powerful young
by one dense gloomy forest. A single glance at the          men, about six feet high. The women and children
landscape was sufficient to show me how widely              had been sent away. These Fuegians are a very dif-
different it was from anything I had ever beheld. At        ferent race from the stunted, miserable wretches far-
night it blew a gale of wind, and heavy squalls from        ther westward; and they seem closely allied to the
the mountains swept past us. It would have been a           famous Patagonians of the Strait of Magellan. Their
bad time out at sea, and we, as well as others, may         only garment consists of a mantle made of guanaco
call this Good Success Bay.
                                                          226
                                                 Charles Darwin
skin, with the wool outside: this they wear just            ing a chuckling kind of noise, as people do when
thrown over their shoulders, leaving their persons          feeding chickens. I walked with the old man, and
as often exposed as covered. Their skin is of a dirty       this demonstration of friendship was repeated sev-
coppery-red colour.                                         eral times; it was concluded by three hard slaps,
  The old man had a fillet of white feathers tied round     which were given me on the breast and back at the
his head, which partly confined his black, coarse, and      same time. He then bared his bosom for me to re-
entangled hair. His face was crossed by two broad           turn the compliment, which being done, he seemed
transverse bars; one, painted bright red, reached from      highly pleased. The language of these people, ac-
ear to ear and included the upper lip; the other, white     cording to our notions, scarcely deserves to be called
like chalk, extended above and parallel to the first,       articulate. Captain Cook has compared it to a man
so that even his eyelids were thus coloured. The            clearing his throat, but certainly no European ever
other two men were ornamented by streaks of black           cleared his throat with so many hoarse, guttural, and
powder, made of charcoal. The party altogether              clicking sounds.
closely resembled the devils which come on the stage          They are excellent mimics: as often as we coughed
in plays like Der Freischutz.                               or yawned, or made any odd motion, they immedi-
  Their very attitudes were abject, and the expres-         ately imitated us. Some of our party began to squint
sion of their countenances distrustful, surprised, and      and look awry; but one of the young Fuegians (whose
startled. After we had presented them with some             whole face was painted black, excepting a white band
scarlet cloth, which they immediately tied round            across his eyes) succeeded in making far more hid-
their necks, they became good friends. This was             eous grimaces. They could repeat with perfect cor-
shown by the old man patting our breasts, and mak-          rectness each word in any sentence we addressed

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                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
them, and they remembered such words for some              and dreaded our fire-arms; nothing would tempt
time. Yet we Europeans all know how difficult it is        them to take a gun in their hands. They begged for
to distinguish apart the sounds in a foreign language.     knives, calling them by the Spanish word “cuchilla.”
Which of us, for instance, could follow an American        They explained also what they wanted, by acting as
Indian through a sentence of more than three words?        if they had a piece of blubber in their mouth, and
All savages appear to possess, to an uncommon de-          then pretending to cut instead of tear it.
gree, this power of mimicry. I was told, almost in           I have not as yet noticed the Fuegians whom we
the same words, of the same ludicrous habit among          had on board. During the former voyage of the Ad-
the Caffres; the Australians, likewise, have long been     venture and Beagle in 1826 to 1830, Captain Fitz Roy
notorious for being able to imitate and describe the       seized on a party of natives, as hostages for the loss
gait of any man, so that he may be recognized. How         of a boat, which had been stolen, to the great jeop-
can this faculty be explained? is it a consequence of      ardy of a party employed on the survey; and some
the more practised habits of perception and keener         of these natives, as well as a child whom he bought
senses, common to all men in a savage state, as com-       for a pearl-button, he took with him to England, de-
pared with those long civilized?                           termining to educate them and instruct them in reli-
  When a song was struck up by our party, I thought        gion at his own expense. To settle these natives in
the Fuegians would have fallen down with aston-            their own country, was one chief inducement to Cap-
ishment. With equal surprise they viewed our danc-         tain Fitz Roy to undertake our present voyage; and
ing; but one of the young men, when asked, had no          before the Admiralty had resolved to send out this
objection to a little waltzing. Little accustomed to       expedition, Captain Fitz Roy had generously char-
Europeans as they appeared to be, yet they knew            tered a vessel, and would himself have taken them

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                                                  Charles Darwin
back. The natives were accompanied by a mission-             turn on one side to hide a smile or laugh, and then
ary, R. Matthews; of whom and of the natives, Cap-           he would repeat his “Poor, poor fellow!” He was of
tain Fitz Roy has published a full and excellent ac-         a patriotic disposition; and he liked to praise his own
count. Two men, one of whom died in England of               tribe and country, in which he truly said there were
the small-pox, a boy and a little girl, were originally      “plenty of trees,” and he abused all the other tribes:
taken; and we had now on board, York Minster,                he stoutly declared that there was no Devil in his
Jemmy Button (whose name expresses his purchase-             land. Jemmy was short, thick, and fat, but vain of his
money), and Fuegia Basket. York Minster was a full-          personal appearance; he used always to wear gloves,
grown, short, thick, powerful man: his disposition           his hair was neatly cut, and he was distressed if his
was reserved, taciturn, morose, and when excited             well-polished shoes were dirtied. He was fond of
violently passionate; his affections were very strong        admiring himself in a looking glass; and a merry-
towards a few friends on board; his intellect good.          faced little Indian boy from the Rio Negro, whom
Jemmy Button was a universal favourite, but like-            we had for some months on board, soon perceived
wise passionate; the expression of his face at once          this, and used to mock him: Jemmy, who was always
showed his nice disposition. He was merry and of-            rather jealous of the attention paid to this little boy,
ten laughed, and was remarkably sympathetic with             did not at all like this, and used to say, with rather a
any one in pain: when the water was rough, I was             contemptuous twist of his head, “Too much skylark.”
often a little sea-sick, and he used to come to me and       It seems yet wonderful to me, when I think over all
say in a plaintive voice, “Poor, poor fellow!” but the       his many good qualities that he should have been of
notion, after his aquatic life, of a man being sea-sick,     the same race, and doubtless partaken of the same
was too ludicrous, and he was generally obliged to           character, with the miserable, degraded savages

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                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
whom we first met here. Lastly, Fuegia Basket was a           impossible to find out, by cross questioning, whether
nice, modest, reserved young girl, with a rather pleas-       one had rightly understood anything which they had
ing but sometimes sullen expression, and very quick           asserted. Their sight was remarkably acute; it is well
in learning anything, especially languages. This she          known that sailors, from long practice, can make out
showed in picking up some Portuguese and Span-                a distant object much better than a landsman; but
ish, when left on shore for only a short time at Rio de       both York and Jemmy were much superior to any
Janeiro and Monte Video, and in her knowledge of              sailor on board: several times they have declared
English. York Minster was very jealous of any atten-          what some distant object has been, and though
tion paid to her; for it was clear he determined to marry     doubted by every one, they have proved right, when
her as soon as they were settled on shore.                    it has been examined through a telescope. They were
  Although all three could both speak and under-              quite conscious of this power; and Jemmy, when he
stand a good deal of English, it was singularly diffi-        had any little quarrel with the officer on watch, would
cult to obtain much information from them, concern-           say, “Me see ship, me no tell.”
ing the habits of their countrymen; this was partly              It was interesting to watch the conduct of the sav-
owing to their apparent difficulty in understanding           ages, when we landed, towards Jemmy Button: they
the simplest alternative. Every one accustomed to             immediately perceived the difference between him
very young children, knows how seldom one can                 and ourselves, and held much conversation one with
get an answer even to so simple a question as                 another on the subject. The old man addressed a long
whether a thing is black or white; the idea of black          harangue to Jemmy, which it seems was to invite him
or white seems alternately to fill their minds. So it         to stay with them But Jemmy understood very little
was with these Fuegians, and hence it was generally           of their language, and was, moreover, thoroughly

                                                            230
                                                  Charles Darwin
ashamed of his countrymen. When York Minster af-             grave astonishment was over, nothing could be more
terwards came on shore, they noticed him in the same         ludicrous than the odd mixture of surprise and imi-
way, and told him he ought to shave; yet he had not          tation which these savages every moment exhibited.
twenty dwarf hairs on his face, whilst we all wore
our untrimmed beards. They examined the colour                 The next day I attempted to penetrate some way
of his skin, and compared it with ours. One of our           into the country. Tierra del Fuego may be described
arms being bared, they expressed the liveliest sur-          as a mountainous land, partly submerged in the sea,
prise and admiration at its whiteness, just in the same      so that deep inlets and bays occupy the place where
way in which I have seen the ourangoutang do at              valleys should exist. The mountain sides, except on
the Zoological Gardens. We thought that they mis-            the exposed western coast, are covered from the
took two or three of the officers, who were rather           water’s edge upwards by one great forest. The trees
shorter and fairer, though adorned with large beards,        reach to an elevation of between 1000 and 1500 feet,
for the ladies of our party. The tallest amongst the         and are succeeded by a band of peat, with minute
Fuegians was evidently much pleased at his height            alpine plants; and this again is succeeded by the line
being noticed. When placed back to back with the             of perpetual snow, which, according to Captain King,
tallest of the boat’s crew, he tried his best to edge on     in the Strait of Magellan descends to between 3000
higher ground, and to stand on tiptoe. He opened             and 4000 feet. To find an acre of level land in any
his mouth to show his teeth, and turned his face for         part of the country is most rare. I recollect only one
a side view; and all this was done with such alacrity,       little flat piece near Port Famine, and another of
that I dare say he thought himself the handsomest            rather larger extent near Goeree Road. In both places,
man in Tierra del Fuego. After our first feeling of          and everywhere else, the surface is covered by a thick

                                                           231
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
bed of swampy peat. Even within the forest, the              till I came to a spot where a great slip had cleared a
ground is concealed by a mass of slowly putrefying           straight space down the mountain side. By this road
vegetable matter, which, from being soaked with              I ascended to a considerable elevation, and obtained
water, yields to the foot.                                   a good view of the surrounding woods. The trees all
  Finding it nearly hopeless to push my way through          belong to one kind, the Fagus betuloides; for the
the wood, I followed the course of a mountain tor-           number of the other species of Fagus and of the
rent. At first, from the waterfalls and number of dead       Winter’s Bark, is quite inconsiderable. This beech
trees, I could hardly crawl along; but the bed of the        keeps its leaves throughout the year; but its foliage
stream soon became a little more open, from the              is of a peculiar brownish-green colour, with a tinge
floods having swept the sides. I continued slowly to         of yellow. As the whole landscape is thus coloured,
advance for an hour along the broken and rocky               it has a sombre, dull appearance; nor is it often en-
banks, and was amply repaid by the grandeur of the           livened by the rays of the sun.
scene. The gloomy depth of the ravine well accorded            December 20th. — One side of the harbour is
with the universal signs of violence. On every side          formed by a hill about 1500 feet high, which Captain
were lying irregular masses of rock and torn-up trees;       Fitz Roy has called after Sir J. Banks, in commemo-
other trees, though still erect, were decayed to the         ration of his disastrous excursion, which proved fa-
heart and ready to fall. The entangled mass of the           tal to two men of his party, and nearly so to Dr.
thriving and the fallen reminded me of the forests           Solander. The snowstorm, which was the cause of
within the tropics — yet there was a difference: for         their misfortune, happened in the middle of Janu-
in these still solitudes, Death, instead of Life, seemed     ary, corresponding to our July, and in the latitude of
the predominant spirit. I followed the watercourse           Durham! I was anxious to reach the summit of this

                                                           232
                                                Charles Darwin
mountain to collect alpine plants; for flowers of any      by the guanacos; for these animals, like sheep, al-
kind in the lower parts are few in number. We fol-         ways follow the same line. When we reached the hill
lowed the same watercourse as on the previous day,         we found it the highest in the immediate
till it dwindled away, and we were then compelled          neighbourhood, and the waters flowed to the sea in
to crawl blindly among the trees. These, from the          opposite directions. We obtained a wide view over
effects of the elevation and of the impetuous winds,       the surrounding country: to the north a swampy
were low, thick and crooked. At length we reached          moorland extended, but to the south we had a scene
that which from a distance appeared like a carpet of       of savage magnificence, well becoming Tierra del
fine green turf, but which, to our vexation, turned        Fuego. There was a degree of mysterious grandeur
out to be a compact mass of little beech-trees about       in mountain behind mountain, with the deep inter-
four or five feet high. They were as thick together as     vening valleys, all covered by one thick, dusky mass
box in the border of a garden, and we were obliged         of forest. The atmosphere, likewise, in this climate,
to struggle over the flat but treacherous surface. Af-     where gale succeeds gale, with rain, hail, and sleet,
ter a little more trouble we gained the peat, and then     seems blacker than anywhere else. In the Strait of
the bare slate rock.                                       Magellan looking due southward from Port Famine,
  A ridge connected this hill with another, distant        the distant channels between the mountains ap-
some miles, and more lofty, so that patches of snow        peared from their gloominess to lead beyond the
were lying on it. As the day was not far advanced, I       confines of this world.
determined to walk there and collect plants along            December 21st. — The Beagle got under way: and
the road. It would have been very hard work, had it        on the succeeding day, favoured to an uncommon
not been for a well-beaten and straight path made          degree by a fine easterly breeze, we closed in with

                                                         233
                                           The Voyage of the Beagle
the Barnevelts, and running past Cape Deceit with         hill, called Kater’s Peak, rises to the height of 1700
its stony peaks, about three o’clock doubled the          feet. The surrounding islands all consist of conical
weather-beaten Cape Horn. The evening was calm            masses of greenstone, associated sometimes with
and bright, and we enjoyed a fine view of the sur-        less regular hills of baked and altered clay-slate. This
rounding isles. Cape Horn, however, demanded his          part of Tierra del Fuego may be considered as the
tribute, and before night sent us a gale of wind di-      extremity of the submerged chain of mountains al-
rectly in our teeth. We stood out to sea, and on the      ready alluded to. The cove takes its name of
second day again made the land, when we saw on            “Wigwam” from some of the Fuegian habitations;
our weather-bow this notorious promontory in its          but every bay in the neighbourhood might be so
proper form — veiled in a mist, and its dim outline       called with equal propriety. The inhabitants, living
surrounded by a storm of wind and water. Great            chiefly upon shell-fish, are obliged constantly to
black clouds were rolling across the heavens, and         change their place of residence; but they return at
squalls of rain, with hail, swept by us with such ex-     intervals to the same spots, as is evident from the
treme violence, that the Captain determined to run        piles of old shells, which must often amount to many
into Wigwam Cove. This is a snug little harbour, not      tons in freight. These heaps can be distinguished at
far from Cape Horn; and here, at Christmas-eve, we        a long distance by the bright green colour of certain
anchored in smooth water. The only thing which re-        plants, which invariably grow on them. Among these
minded us of the gale outside, was every now and          may be enumerated the wild celery and scurvy grass,
then a puff from the mountains, which made the ship       two very serviceable plants, the use of which has not
surge at her anchors.                                     been discovered by the natives.
  December 25th. — Close by the Cove, a pointed             The Fuegian wigwam resembles, in size and di-

                                                        234
                                               Charles Darwin
mensions, a haycock. It merely consists of a few bro-       While going one day on shore near Wollaston Is-
ken branches stuck in the ground, and very imper-         land, we pulled alongside a canoe with six Fuegians.
fectly thatched on one side with a few tufts of grass     These were the most abject and miserable creatures
and rushes. The whole cannot be the work of an hour,      I anywhere beheld. On the east coast the natives, as
and it is only used for a few days. At Goeree Roads       we have seen, have guanaco cloaks, and on the west
I saw a place where one of these naked men had slept,     they possess seal-skins. Amongst these central tribes
which absolutely offered no more cover than the form      the men generally have an otter-skin, or some small
of a hare. The man was evidently living by himself,       scrap about as large as a pocket-handkerchief, which
and York Minster said he was “very bad man,” and          is barely sufficient to cover their backs as low down
that probably he had stolen something. On the west        as their loins. It is laced across the breast by strings,
coast, however, the wigwams are rather better, for        and according as the wind blows, it is shifted from
they are covered with seal-skins. We were detained        side to side. But these Fuegians in the canoe were
here several days by the bad weather. The climate is      quite naked, and even one full-grown woman was
certainly wretched: the summer solstice was now           absolutely so. It was raining heavily, and the fresh
passed, yet every day snow fell on the hills, and in      water, together with the spray, trickled down her
the valleys there was rain, accompanied by sleet. The     body. In another harbour not far distant, a woman,
thermometer generally stood about 45 degs., but in        who was suckling a recently-born child, came one
the night fell to 38 or 40 degs. From the damp and        day alongside the vessel, and remained there out of
boisterous state of the atmosphere, not cheered by a      mere curiosity, whilst the sleet fell and thawed on
gleam of sunshine, one fancied the climate even           her naked bosom, and on the skin of her naked baby!
worse than it really was.                                 These poor wretches were stunted in their growth,

                                                        235
                                                 The Voyage of the Beagle
their hideous faces bedaubed with white paint, their               They often suffer from famine: I heard Mr. Low, a
skins filthy and greasy, their hair entangled, their             sealing-master intimately acquainted with the na-
voices discordant, and their gestures violent. View-             tives of this country, give a curious account of the
ing such men, one can hardly make one’s self be-                 state of a party of one hundred and fifty natives on
lieve that they are fellow-creatures, and inhabitants            the west coast, who were very thin and in great dis-
of the same world. It is a common subject of conjec-             tress. A succession of gales prevented the women
ture what pleasure in life some of the lower animals             from getting shell-fish on the rocks, and they could
can enjoy: how much more reasonably the same                     not go out in their canoes to catch seal. A small party
question may be asked with respect to these barbar-              of these men one morning set out, and the other In-
ians! At night, five or six human beings, naked and              dians explained to him, that they were going a four
scarcely protected from the wind and rain of this tem-           days’ journey for food: on their return, Low went to
pestuous climate, sleep on the wet ground coiled                 meet them, and he found them excessively tired, each
up like animals. Whenever it is low water, winter or             man carrying a great square piece of putrid whale’s-
summer, night or day, they must rise to pick shell-              blubber with a hole in the middle, through which
fish from the rocks; and the women either dive to                they put their heads, like the Gauchos do through
collect sea-eggs, or sit patiently in their canoes, and          their ponchos or cloaks. As soon as the blubber was
with a baited hair-line without any hook, jerk out               brought into a wigwam, an old man cut off thin slices,
little fish. If a seal is killed, or the floating carcass of     and muttering over them, broiled them for a minute,
a putrid whale is discovered, it is a feast; and such            and distributed them to the famished party, who
miserable food is assisted by a few tasteless berries            during this time preserved a profound silence. Mr.
and fungi.                                                       Low believes that whenever a whale is cast on shore,

                                                               236
                                                  Charles Darwin
the natives bury large pieces of it in the sand, as a          Captain Fitz Roy could never ascertain that the
resource in time of famine; and a native boy, whom           Fuegians have any distinct belief in a future life. They
he had on board, once found a stock thus buried.             sometimes bury their dead in caves, and sometimes
The different tribes when at war are cannibals. From         in the mountain forests; we do not know what cer-
the concurrent, but quite independent evidence of            emonies they perform. Jemmy Button would not eat
the boy taken by Mr. Low, and of Jemmy Button, it            land-birds, because “eat dead men”: they are unwill-
is certainly true, that when pressed in winter by hun-       ing even to mention their dead friends. We have no
ger, they kill and devour their old women before             reason to believe that they perform any sort of reli-
they kill their dogs: the boy, being asked by Mr. Low        gious worship; though perhaps the muttering of the
why they did this, answered, “Doggies catch otters,          old man before he distributed the putrid blubber to
old women no.” This boy described the manner in              his famished party, may be of this nature. Each fam-
which they are killed by being held over smoke and           ily or tribe has a wizard or conjuring doctor, whose
thus choked; he imitated their screams as a joke, and        office we could never clearly ascertain. Jemmy be-
described the parts of their bodies which are consid-        lieved in dreams, though not, as I have said, in the
ered best to eat. Horrid as such a death by the hands        devil: I do not think that our Fuegians were much
of their friends and relatives must be, the fears of the     more superstitious than some of the sailors; for an
old women, when hunger begins to press, are more             old quartermaster firmly believed that the succes-
painful to think of; we are told that they then often        sive heavy gales, which we encountered off Cape
run away into the mountains, but that they are pur-          Horn, were caused by our having the Fuegians on
sued by the men and brought back to the slaughter-           board. The nearest approach to a religious feeling
house at their own firesides!                                which I heard of, was shown by York Minster, who,

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                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
when Mr. Bynoe shot some very young ducklings               like the form of a hare, where a single man had slept
as specimens, declared in the most solemn manner,           the night before, I should have thought that they were
“Oh, Mr. Bynoe, much rain, snow, blow much.” This           thieves who had been driven from their tribes; but
was evidently a retributive punishment for wasting          other obscure speeches made me doubt this; I have
human food. In a wild and excited manner he also            sometimes imagined that the most probable expla-
related, that his brother, one day whilst returning to      nation was that they were insane.
pick up some dead birds which he had left on the              The different tribes have no government or chief;
coast, observed some feathers blown by the wind.            yet each is surrounded by other hostile tribes, speak-
His brother said (York imitating his manner), “What         ing different dialects, and separated from each other
that?” and crawling onwards, he peeped over the             only by a deserted border or neutral territory: the
cliff, and saw “wild man” picking his birds; he             cause of their warfare appears to be the means of
crawled a little nearer, and then hurled down a great       subsistence. Their country is a broken mass of wild
stone and killed him. York declared for a long time         rocks, lofty hills, and useless forests: and these are
afterwards storms raged, and much rain and snow             viewed through mists and endless storms. The hab-
fell. As far as we could make out, he seemed to con-        itable land is reduced to the stones on the beach; in
sider the elements themselves as the avenging               search of food they are compelled unceasingly to
agents: it is evident in this case, how naturally, in a     wander from spot to spot, and so steep is the coast,
race a little more advanced in culture, the elements        that they can only move about in their wretched ca-
would become personified. What the “bad wild                noes. They cannot know the feeling of having a home,
men” were, has always appeared to me most myste-            and still less that of domestic affection; for the hus-
rious: from what York said, when we found the place         band is to the wife a brutal master to a laborious

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                                                Charles Darwin
slave. Was a more horrid deed ever perpetrated, than       Brazil, and then to enter on one of the most inhospi-
that witnessed on the west coast by Byron, who saw         table countries within the limits of the globe? Al-
a wretched mother pick up her bleeding dying in-           though such reflections must at first seize on the
fant-boy, whom her husband had mercilessly dashed          mind, yet we may feel sure that they are partly erro-
on the stones for dropping a basket of sea-eggs! How       neous. There is no reason to believe that the Fuegians
little can the higher powers of the mind be brought        decrease in number; therefore we must suppose that
into play: what is there for imagination to picture,       they enjoy a sufficient share of happiness, of what-
for reason to compare, or judgment to decide upon?         ever kind it may be, to render life worth having.
to knock a limpet from the rock does not require even      Nature by making habit omnipotent, and its effects
cunning, that lowest power of the mind. Their skill        hereditary, has fitted the Fuegian to the climate and
in some respects may be compared to the instinct of        the productions of his miserable country.
animals; for it is not improved by experience: the
canoe, their most ingenious work, poor as it is, has         After having been detained six days in Wigwam
remained the same, as we know from Drake, for the          Cove by very bad weather, we put to sea on the 30th
last two hundred and fifty years.                          of December. Captain Fitz Roy wished to get west-
  Whilst beholding these savages, one asks, whence         ward to land York and Fuegia in their own country.
have they come? What could have tempted, or what           When at sea we had a constant succession of gales,
change compelled a tribe of men, to leave the fine         and the current was against us: we drifted to 57 degs.
regions of the north, to travel down the Cordillera or     23' south. On the 11th of January, 1833, by carrying a
backbone of America, to invent and build canoes,           press of sail, we fetched within a few miles of the
which are not used by the tribes of Chile, Peru, and       great rugged mountain of York Minster (so called

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                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
by Captain Cook, and the origin of the name of the         decided soon, and for ever. We had now been
elder Fuegian), when a violent squall compelled us         twenty-four days trying in vain to get westward; the
to shorten sail and stand out to sea. The surf was         men were worn out with fatigue, and they had not
breaking fearfully on the coast, and the spray was         had for many nights or days a dry thing to put on.
carried over a cliff estimated to 200 feet in height.      Captain Fitz Roy gave up the attempt to get west-
On the 12th the gale was very heavy, and we did not        ward by the outside coast. In the evening we ran in
know exactly where we were: it was a most unpleas-         behind False Cape Horn, and dropped our anchor
ant sound to hear constantly repeated, “keep a good        in forty-seven fathoms, fire flashing from the wind-
look-out to leeward.” On the 13th the storm raged          lass as the chain rushed round it. How delightful
with its full fury: our horizon was narrowly limited       was that still night, after having been so long in-
by the sheets of spray borne by the wind. The sea          volved in the din of the warring elements!
looked ominous, like a dreary waving plain with              January 15th, 1833. — The Beagle anchored in
patches of drifted snow: whilst the ship laboured          Goeree Roads. Captain Fitz Roy having resolved to
heavily, the albatross glided with its expanded wings      settle the Fuegians, according to their wishes, in
right up the wind. At noon a great sea broke over us,      Ponsonby Sound, four boats were equipped to carry
and filled one of the whale boats, which was obliged       them there through the Beagle Channel. This chan-
to be instantly cut away. The poor Beagle trembled         nel, which was discovered by Captain Fitz Roy dur-
at the shock, and for a few minutes would not obey         ing the last voyage, is a most remarkable feature in
her helm; but soon, like a good ship that she was,         the geography of this, or indeed of any other coun-
she righted and came up to the wind again. Had an-         try: it may be compared to the valley of Lochness in
other sea followed the first, our fate would have been     Scotland, with its chain of lakes and friths. It is about

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                                                Charles Darwin
one hundred and twenty miles long, with an aver-           ported by the crossed oars, and the smoke curling up
age breadth, not subject to any very great variation,      the wooded valley, formed a picture of quiet retire-
of about two miles; and is throughout the greater          ment. The next day (20th) we smoothly glided on-
part so perfectly straight, that the view, bounded on      wards in our little fleet, and came to a more inhabited
each side by a line of mountains, gradually becomes        district. Few if any of these natives could ever have
indistinct in the long distance. It crosses the south-     seen a white man; certainly nothing could exceed their
ern part of Tierra del Fuego in an east and west line,     astonishment at the apparition of the four boats. Fires
and in the middle is joined at right angles on the         were lighted on every point (hence the name of Tierra
south side by an irregular channel, which has been         del Fuego, or the land of fire), both to attract our at-
called Ponsonby Sound. This is the residence of            tention and to spread far and wide the news. Some of
Jemmy Button’s tribe and family.                           the men ran for miles along the shore. I shall never
  19th. — Three whale-boats and the yawl, with a           forget how wild and savage one group appeared:
party of twenty-eight, started under the command           suddenly four or five men came to the edge of an over-
of Captain Fitz Roy. In the afternoon we entered the       hanging cliff; they were absolutely naked, and their
eastern mouth of the channel, and shortly afterwards       long hair streamed about their faces; they held rug-
found a snug little cove concealed by some sur-            ged staffs in their hands, and, springing from the
rounding islets. Here we pitched our tents and             ground, they waved their arms round their heads, and
lighted our fires. Nothing could look more comfort-        sent forth the most hideous yells.
able than this scene. The glassy water of the little         At dinner-time we landed among a party of
harbour, with the branches of the trees hanging over       Fuegians. At first they were not inclined to be
the rocky beach, the boats at anchor, the tents sup-       friendly; for until the Captain pulled in ahead of the

                                                         241
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
other boats, they kept their slings in their hands. We     as much as to say, “If you will not give it me, surely
soon, however, delighted them by trifling presents,        you will to such as these.”
such as tying red tape round their heads. They liked         At night we endeavoured in vain to find an unin-
our biscuit: but one of the savages touched with his       habited cove; and at last were obliged to bivouac
finger some of the meat preserved in tin cases which       not far from a party of natives. They were very inof-
I was eating, and feeling it soft and cold, showed as      fensive as long as they were few in numbers, but in
much disgust at it, as I should have done at putrid        the morning (21st) being joined by others they
blubber. Jemmy was thoroughly ashamed of his               showed symptoms of hostility, and we thought that
countrymen, and declared his own tribe were quite          we should have come to a skirmish. An European
different, in which he was wofully mistaken. It was        labours under great disadvantages when treating
as easy to please as it was difficult to satisfy these     with savages like these, who have not the least idea
savages. Young and old, men and children, never            of the power of fire-arms. In the very act of levelling
ceased repeating the word “yammerschooner,”                his musket he appears to the savage far inferior to a
which means “give me.” After pointing to almost            man armed with a bow and arrow, a spear, or even a
every object, one after the other, even to the buttons     sling. Nor is it easy to teach them our superiority
on our coats, and saying their favourite word in as        except by striking a fatal blow. Like wild beasts, they
many intonations as possible, they would then use          do not appear to compare numbers; for each indi-
it in a neuter sense, and vacantly repeat                  vidual, if attacked, instead of retiring, will endeav-
“yammerschooner.” After yammerschoonering for              our to dash your brains out with a stone, as certainly
any article very eagerly, they would by a simple ar-       as a tiger under similar circumstances would tear
tifice point to their young women or little children,      you. Captain Fitz Roy on one occasion being very

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                                                 Charles Darwin
anxious, from good reasons, to frighten away a small        that it has no force at all. Certainly I believe that many
party, first flourished a cutlass near them, at which       savages of the lowest grade, such as these of Tierra
they only laughed; he then twice fired his pistol close     del Fuego, have seen objects struck, and even small
to a native. The man both times looked astounded,           animals killed by the musket, without being in the
and carefully but quickly rubbed his head; he then          least aware how deadly an instrument it is.
stared awhile, and gabbled to his companions, but             22nd. — After having passed an unmolested night,
he never seemed to think of running away. We can            in what would appear to be neutral territory between
hardly put ourselves in the position of these sav-          Jemmy’s tribe and the people whom we saw yester-
ages, and understand their actions. In the case of this     day, we sailed pleasantly along. I do not know any-
Fuegian, the possibility of such a sound as the re-         thing which shows more clearly the hostile state of
port of a gun close to his ear could never have en-         the different tribes, than these wide border or neu-
tered his mind. He perhaps literally did not for a          tral tracts. Although Jemmy Button well knew the
second know whether it was a sound or a blow, and           force of our party, he was, at first, unwilling to land
therefore very naturally rubbed his head. In a simi-        amidst the hostile tribe nearest to his own. He often
lar manner, when a savage sees a mark struck by a           told us how the savage Oens men “when the leaf
bullet, it may be some time before he is able at all to     red,” crossed the mountains from the eastern coast
understand how it is effected; for the fact of a body       of Tierra del Fuego, and made inroads on the na-
being invisible from its velocity would perhaps be          tives of this part of the country. It was most curious
to him an idea totally inconceivable. Moreover, the         to watch him when thus talking, and see his eyes
extreme force of a bullet, that penetrates a hard sub-      gleaming and his whole face assume a new and wild
stance without tearing it, may convince the savage          expression. As we proceeded along the Beagle Chan-

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                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
nel, the scenery assumed a peculiar and very mag-            to our great surprise, to be streaming with perspira-
nificent character; but the effect was much lessened         tion at undergoing such a roasting. They seemed,
from the lowness of the point of view in a boat, and         however, very well pleased, and all joined in the
from looking along the valley, and thus losing all the       chorus of the seamen’s songs: but the manner in
beauty of a succession of ridges. The mountains were         which they were invariably a little behindhand was
here about three thousand feet high, and terminated          quite ludicrous.
in sharp and jagged points. They rose in one unbro-            During the night the news had spread, and early
ken sweep from the water’s edge, and were covered            in the morning (23rd) a fresh party arrived, belong-
to the height of fourteen or fifteen hundred feet by         ing to the Tekenika, or Jemmy’s tribe. Several of them
the dusky-coloured forest. It was most curious to ob-        had run so fast that their noses were bleeding, and
serve, as far as the eye could range, how level and          their mouths frothed from the rapidity with which
truly horizontal the line on the mountain side was, at       they talked; and with their naked bodies all be-
which trees ceased to grow: it precisely resembled           daubed with black, white,* and red, they looked like
the high-water mark of drift-weed on a sea-beach.
                                                             *This substance, when dry, is tolerably compact, and of little
  At night we slept close to the junction of Ponsonby        specific gravity: Professor Ehrenberg has examined it: he states
Sound with the Beagle Channel. A small family of             (Konig Akad. der Wissen: Berlin, Feb. 1845) that it is composed
                                                             of infusoria, including fourteen polygastrica, and four phytolitharia.
Fuegians, who were living in the cove, were quiet            He says that they are all inhabitants of fresh-water; this is a
and inoffensive, and soon joined our party round a           beautiful example of the results obtainable through Professor
                                                             Ehrenberg’s microscopic researches; for Jemmy Button told me
blazing fire. We were well clothed, and though sit-          that it is always collected at the bottoms of mountain-brooks. It
ting close to the fire were far from too warm; yet these     is, moreover, a striking fact that in the geographical distribution
                                                             of the infusoria, which are well known to have very wide ranges,
naked savages, though further off, were observed,            that all the species in this substance, although brought from the
                                                             extreme southern point of Tierra del Fuego, are old, known forms.
                                                           244
                                                  Charles Darwin
so many demoniacs who had been fighting. We then             nally intended, as before stated, to have taken York
proceeded (accompanied by twelve canoes, each                Minster and Fuegia to their own tribe on the west
holding four or five people) down Ponsonby Sound             coast; but as they expressed a wish to remain here,
to the spot where poor Jemmy expected to find his            and as the spot was singularly favourable, Captain
mother and relatives. He had already heard that his          Fitz Roy determined to settle here the whole party,
father was dead; but as he had had a “dream in his           including Matthews, the missionary. Five days were
head” to that effect, he did not seem to care much           spent in building for them three large wigwams, in
about it, and repeatedly comforted himself with the          landing their goods, in digging two gardens, and
very natural reflection — “Me no help it.” He was            sowing seeds.
not able to learn any particulars regarding his father’s       The next morning after our arrival (the 24th) the
death, as his relations would not speak about it.            Fuegians began to pour in, and Jemmy’s mother and
  Jemmy was now in a district well known to him,             brothers arrived. Jemmy recognised the stentorian
and guided the boats to a quiet pretty cove named            voice of one of his brothers at a prodigious distance.
Woollya, surrounded by islets, every one of which            The meeting was less interesting than that between
and every point had its proper native name. We               a horse, turned out into a field, when he joins an old
found here a family of Jemmy’s tribe, but not his re-        companion. There was no demonstration of affection;
lations: we made friends with them; and in the               they simply stared for a short time at each other; and
evening they sent a canoe to inform Jemmy’s mother           the mother immediately went to look after her ca-
and brothers. The cove was bordered by some acres            noe. We heard, however, through York that the
of good sloping land, not covered (as elsewhere) ei-         mother has been inconsolable for the loss of Jemmy
ther by peat or by forest-trees. Captain Fitz Roy origi-     and had searched everywhere for him, thinking that

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                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
he might have been left after having been taken in         saw, during his absence from his country, nothing
the boat. The women took much notice of and were           seems more to have astonished him than an ostrich,
very kind to Fuegia. We had already perceived that         near Maldonado: breathless with astonishment he
Jemmy had almost forgotten his own language. I             came running to Mr. Bynoe, with whom he was out
should think there was scarcely another human be-          walking — “Oh, Mr. Bynoe, oh, bird all same horse!”
ing with so small a stock of language, for his English     Much as our white skins surprised the natives, by
was very imperfect. It was laughable, but almost piti-     Mr. Low’s account a negro-cook to a sealing vessel,
able, to hear him speak to his wild brother in En-         did so more effectually, and the poor fellow was so
glish, and then ask him in Spanish (“no sabe?”)            mobbed and shouted at that he would never go on
whether he did not understand him.                         shore again. Everything went on so quietly that some
  Everything went on peaceably during the three next       of the officers and myself took long walks in the sur-
days whilst the gardens were digging and wigwams           rounding hills and woods. Suddenly, however, on
building. We estimated the number of natives at            the 27th, every woman and child disappeared. We
about one hundred and twenty. The women worked             were all uneasy at this, as neither York nor Jemmy
hard, whilst the men lounged about all day long,           could make out the cause. It was thought by some
watching us. They asked for everything they saw,           that they had been frightened by our cleaning and
and stole what they could. They were delighted at          firing off our muskets on the previous evening; by
our dancing and singing, and were particularly in-         others, that it was owing to offence taken by an old
terested at seeing us wash in a neighbouring brook;        savage, who, when told to keep further off, had
they did not pay much attention to anything else,          coolly spit in the sentry’s face, and had then, by ges-
not even to our boats. Of all the things which York        tures acted over a sleeping Fuegian, plainly showed,

                                                         246
                                               Charles Darwin
as it was said, that he should like to cut up and eat     with this beautiful weather, the view in the middle
our man. Captain Fitz Roy, to avoid the chance of an      of the Beagle Channel was very remarkable. Look-
encounter, which would have been fatal to so many         ing towards either hand, no object intercepted the
of the Fuegians, thought it advisable for us to sleep     vanishing points of this long canal between the
at a cove a few miles distant. Matthews, with his         mountains. The circumstance of its being an arm of
usual quiet fortitude (remarkable in a man appar-         the sea was rendered very evident by several huge
ently possessing little energy of character), deter-      whales* spouting in different directions. On one oc-
mined to stay with the Fuegians, who evinced no           casion I saw two of these monsters, probably male
alarm for themselves; and so we left them to pass         and female, slowly swimming one after the other,
their first awful night.                                  within less than a stone’s throw of the shore, over
  On our return in the morning (28th) we were de-         which the beech-tree extended its branches. We
lighted to find all quiet, and the men employed in        sailed on till it was dark, and then pitched our tents
their canoes spearing fish. Captain Fitz Roy deter-       in a quiet creek. The greatest luxury was to find for
mined to send the yawl and one whale-boat back to         our beds a beach of pebbles, for they were dry and
the ship; and to proceed with the two other boats,        yielded to the body. Peaty soil is damp; rock is un-
one under his own command (in which he most               even and hard; sand gets into one’s meat, when
kindly allowed me to accompany him), and one un-          cooked and eaten boat-fashion; but when lying in
der Mr. Hammond, to survey the western parts of           *One day, off the East coast of Tierra del Fuego, we saw
the Beagle Channel, and afterwards to return and          a grand sight in several spermaceti whales jumping up-
                                                          right quite out of the water, with the exception of their tail-
visit the settlement. The day to our astonishment was
                                                          fins. As they fell down sideways, they splashed the water
overpoweringly hot, so that our skins were scorched:      high up, and the sound reverberated like a distant broad-
                                                          side.
                                                        247
                                               The Voyage of the Beagle
our blanket-bags, on a good bed of smooth pebbles,             cascades pour their waters, through the woods, into
we passed most comfortable nights.                             the narrow channel below. In many parts, magnifi-
   It was my watch till one o’clock. There is some-            cent glaciers extend from the mountain side to the
thing very solemn in these scenes. At no time does             water’s edge. It is scarcely possible to imagine any-
the consciousness in what a remote corner of the               thing more beautiful than the beryl-like blue of these
world you are then standing, come so strongly be-              glaciers, and especially as contrasted with the dead
fore the mind. Everything tends to this effect; the still-     white of the upper expanse of snow. The fragments
ness of the night is interrupted only by the heavy             which had fallen from the glacier into the water were
breathing of the seamen beneath the tents, and some-           floating away, and the channel with its icebergs pre-
times by the cry of a night-bird. The occasional bark-         sented, for the space of a mile, a miniature likeness
ing of a dog, heard in the distance, reminds one that          of the Polar Sea. The boats being hauled on shore at
it is the land of the savage.                                  our dinner-hour, we were admiring from the distance
   January 20th. — Early in the morning we arrived             of half a mile a perpendicular cliff of ice, and were
at the point where the Beagle Channel divides into             wishing that some more fragments would fall. At last,
two arms; and we entered the northern one. The scen-           down came a mass with a roaring noise, and imme-
ery here becomes even grander than before. The lofty           diately we saw the smooth outline of a wave travel-
mountains on the north side compose the granitic               ling towards us. The men ran down as quickly as
axis, or backbone of the country and boldly rise to a          they could to the boats; for the chance of their being
height of between three and four thousand feet, with           dashed to pieces was evident. One of the seamen
one peak above six thousand feet. They are covered             just caught hold of the bows, as the curling breaker
by a wide mantle of perpetual snow, and numerous               reached it: he was knocked over and over, but not

                                                             248
                                                Charles Darwin
hurt, and the boats though thrice lifted on high and       find space enough to pitch our two tents: one night
let fall again, received no damage. This was most          we slept on large round boulders, with putrefying
fortunate for us, for we were a hundred miles dis-         sea-weed between them; and when the tide rose, we
tant from the ship, and we should have been left           had to get up and move our blanket-bags. The far-
without provisions or fire-arms. I had previously          thest point westward which we reached was Stewart
observed that some large fragments of rock on the          Island, a distance of about one hundred and fifty
beach had been lately displaced; but until seeing this     miles from our ship. We returned into the Beagle
wave, I did not understand the cause. One side of          Channel by the southern arm, and thence proceeded,
the creek was formed by a spur of mica-slate; the          with no adventure, back to Ponsonby Sound.
head by a cliff of ice about forty feet high; and the        February 6th. — We arrived at Woollya. Matthews
other side by a promontory fifty feet high, built up       gave so bad an account of the conduct of the
of huge rounded fragments of granite and mica-slate,       Fuegians, that Captain Fitz Roy determined to take
out of which old trees were growing. This promon-          him back to the Beagle; and ultimately he was left at
tory was evidently a moraine, heaped up at a pe-           New Zealand, where his brother was a missionary.
riod when the glacier had greater dimensions.              From the time of our leaving, a regular system of
  When we reached the western mouth of this north-         plunder commenced; fresh parties of the natives kept
ern branch of the Beagle Channel, we sailed amongst        arriving: York and Jemmy lost many things, and
many unknown desolate islands, and the weather             Matthews almost everything which had not been
was wretchedly bad. We met with no natives. The            concealed underground. Every article seemed to
coast was almost everywhere so steep, that we had          have been torn up and divided by the natives.
several times to pull many miles before we could           Matthews described the watch he was obliged al-

                                                         249
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
ways to keep as most harassing; night and day he              with us. His own brother had stolen many things
was surrounded by the natives, who tried to tire him          from him; and as he remarked, “What fashion call
out by making an incessant noise close to his head.           that:” he abused his countrymen, “all bad men, no
One day an old man, whom Matthews asked to leave              sabe (know) nothing” and, though I never heard him
his wigwam, immediately returned with a large                 swear before, “damned fools.” Our three Fuegians,
stone in his hand: another day a whole party came             though they had been only three years with civilized
armed with stones and stakes, and some of the                 men, would, I am sure, have been glad to have re-
younger men and Jemmy’s brother were crying:                  tained their new habits; but this was obviously im-
Matthews met them with presents. Another party                possible. I fear it is more than doubtful, whether their
showed by signs that they wished to strip him na-             visit will have been of any use to them.
ked and pluck all the hairs out of his face and body.           In the evening, with Matthews on board, we made
I think we arrived just in time to save his life. Jemmy’s     sail back to the ship, not by the Beagle Channel, but
relatives had been so vain and foolish, that they had         by the southern coast. The boats were heavily laden
showed to strangers their plunder, and their man-             and the sea rough, and we had a dangerous passage.
ner of obtaining it. It was quite melancholy leaving          By the evening of the 7th we were on board the
the three Fuegians with their savage countrymen; but          Beagle after an absence of twenty days, during which
it was a great comfort that they had no personal fears.       time we had gone three hundred miles in the open
York, being a powerful resolute man, was pretty sure          boats. On the 11th, Captain Fitz Roy paid a visit by
to get on well, together with his wife Fuegia. Poor           himself to the Fuegians and found them going on
Jemmy looked rather disconsolate, and would then,             well; and that they had lost very few more things.
I have little doubt, have been glad to have returned

                                                            250
                                                Charles Darwin
  On the last day of February in the succeeding year       gloomy nook, and then the little signal-smoke has
(1834) the Beagle anchored in a beautiful little cove      curled up to spread the news far and wide. On leav-
at the eastern entrance of the Beagle Channel. Cap-        ing some place we have said to each other, “Thank
tain Fitz Roy determined on the bold, and as it            heaven, we have at last fairly left these wretches!”
proved successful, attempt to beat against the west-       when one more faint hallo from an all-powerful
erly winds by the same route, which we had followed        voice, heard at a prodigious distance, would reach
in the boats to the settlement at Woollya. We did not      our ears, and clearly could we distinguish —
see many natives until we were near Ponsonby               “yammerschooner.” But now, the more Fuegians the
Sound, where we were followed by ten or twelve             merrier; and very merry work it was. Both parties
canoes. The natives did not at all understand the rea-     laughing, wondering, gaping at each other; we pity-
son of our tacking, and, instead of meeting us at each     ing them, for giving us good fish and crabs for rags,
tack, vainly strove to follow us in our zigzag course.     etc.; they grasping at the chance of finding people so
I was amused at finding what a difference the cir-         foolish as to exchange such splendid ornaments for
cumstance of being quite superior in force made, in        a good supper. It was most amusing to see the un-
the interest of beholding these savages. While in the      disguised smile of satisfaction with which one young
boats I got to hate the very sound of their voices, so     woman with her face painted black, tied several bits
much trouble did they give us. The first and last          of scarlet cloth round her head with rushes. Her hus-
word was “yammerschooner.” When, entering some             band, who enjoyed the very universal privilege in
quiet little cove, we have looked round and thought        this country of possessing two wives, evidently be-
to pass a quiet night, the odious word                     came jealous of all the attention paid to his young
“yammerschooner” has shrilly sounded from some

                                                         251
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
wife; and, after a consultation with his naked beau-        remarked concerning these people, that they treat
ties, was paddled away by them.                             the “chefs d’oeuvre de l’industrie humaine, comme
  Some of the Fuegians plainly showed that they had         ils traitent les loix de la nature et ses phenomenes.”
a fair notion of barter. I gave one man a large nail (a       On the 5th of March, we anchored in a cove at
most valuable present) without making any signs             Woollya, but we saw not a soul there. We were
for a return; but he immediately picked out two fish,       alarmed at this, for the natives in Ponsonby Sound
and handed them up on the point of his spear. If any        showed by gestures, that there had been fighting;
present was designed for one canoe, and it fell near        and we afterwards heard that the dreaded Oens men
another, it was invariably given to the right owner.        had made a descent. Soon a canoe, with a little flag
The Fuegian boy, whom Mr. Low had on board                  flying, was seen approaching, with one of the men
showed, by going into the most violent passion, that        in it washing the paint off his face. This man was
he quite understood the reproach of being called a          poor Jemmy, — now a thin, haggard savage, with
liar, which in truth he was. We were this time, as on       long disordered hair, and naked, except a bit of blan-
all former occasions, much surprised at the little          ket round his waist. We did not recognize him till
notice, or rather none whatever, which was taken of         he was close to us, for he was ashamed of himself,
many things, the use of which must have been evi-           and turned his back to the ship. We had left him
dent to the natives. Simple circumstances — such as         plump, fat, clean, and well-dressed; — I never saw
the beauty of scarlet cloth or blue beads, the absence      so complete and grievous a change. As soon, how-
of women, our care in washing ourselves, — excited          ever, as he was clothed, and the first flurry was over,
their admiration far more than any grand or compli-         things wore a good appearance. He dined with Cap-
cated object, such as our ship. Bougainville has well       tain Fitz Roy, and ate his dinner as tidily as formerly.

                                                          252
                                                          Charles Darwin
He told us that he had “too much” (meaning enough)                  country, and had taken farewell by an act of consum-
to eat, that he was not cold, that his relations were               mate villainy; he persuaded Jemmy and his mother
very good people, and that he did not wish to go                    to come with him, and then on the way deserted them
back to England: in the evening we found out the                    by night, stealing every article of their property.
cause of this great change in Jemmy’s feelings, in the                Jemmy went to sleep on shore, and in the morning
arrival of his young and nice-looking wife. With his                returned, and remained on board till the ship got
usual good feeling he brought two beautiful otter-                  under way, which frightened his wife, who contin-
skins for two of his best friends, and some spear-                  ued crying violently till he got into his canoe. He
heads and arrows made with his own hands for the                    returned loaded with valuable property. Every soul
Captain. He said he had built a canoe for himself, and              on board was heartily sorry to shake hands with him
he boasted that he could talk a little of his own lan-              for the last time. I do not now doubt that he will be
guage! But it is a most singular fact, that he appears              as happy as, perhaps happier than, if he had never
to have taught all his tribe some English: an old man               left his own country. Every one must sincerely hope
spontaneously announced “Jemmy Button’s wife.”                      that Captain Fitz Roy’s noble hope may be fulfilled,
Jemmy had lost all his property. He told us that York               of being rewarded for the many generous sacrifices
Minster had built a large canoe, and with his wife                  which he made for these Fuegians, by some ship-
Fuegia,* had several months since gone to his own                   wrecked sailor being protected by the descendants
*Captain Sulivan, who, since his voyage in the Beagle, has been     of Jemmy Button and his tribe! When Jemmy reached
employed on the survey of the Falkland Islands, heard from a
sealer in (1842?), that when in the western part of the Strait of
                                                                    the shore, he lighted a signal fire, and the smoke
Magellan, he was astonished by a native woman coming on board,      curled up, bidding us a last and long farewell, as
who could talk some English. Without doubt this was Fuega
Basket. She lived (I fear the term probably bears a double inter-
                                                                    the ship stood on her course into the open sea.
pretation) some days on board.
                                                                253
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
  The perfect equality among the individuals com-          another. On the other hand, it is difficult to under-
posing the Fuegian tribes must for a long time re-         stand how a chief can arise till there is property of
tard their civilization. As we see those animals,          some sort by which he might manifest his superior-
whose instinct compels them to live in society and         ity and increase his power.
obey a chief, are most capable of improvement, so is         I believe, in this extreme part of South America,
it with the races of mankind. Whether we look at it        man exists in a lower state of improvement than in
as a cause or a consequence, the more civilized al-        any other part of the world. The South Sea Islanders,
ways have the most artificial governments. For in-         of the two races inhabiting the Pacific, are compara-
stance, the inhabitants of Otaheite, who, when first       tively civilized. The Esquimau in his subterranean
discovered, were governed by hereditary kings, had         hut, enjoys some of the comforts of life, and in his
arrived at a far higher grade than another branch of       canoe, when fully equipped, manifests much skill.
the same people, the New Zealanders, — who, al-            Some of the tribes of Southern Africa prowling about
though benefited by being compelled to turn their          in search of roots, and living concealed on the wild
attention to agriculture, were republicans in the most     and arid plains, are sufficiently wretched. The Aus-
absolute sense. In Tierra del Fuego, until some chief      tralian, in the simplicity of the arts of life, comes near-
shall arise with power sufficient to secure any ac-        est the Fuegian: he can, however, boast of his boo-
quired advantage, such as the domesticated animals,        merang, his spear and throwing-stick, his method of
it seems scarcely possible that the political state of     climbing trees, of tracking animals, and of hunting.
the country can be improved. At present, even a piece      Although the Australian may be superior in acquire-
of cloth given to one is torn into shreds and distrib-     ments, it by no means follows that he is likewise
uted; and no one individual becomes richer than            superior in mental capacity: indeed, from what I saw

                                                         254
                                              Charles Darwin
of the Fuegians when on board and from what I have
read of the Australians, I should think the case was             CHAPTER XI
exactly the reverse.
                                                              STRAIT OF MAGELLAN. —
                                                             CLIMATE OF THE SOUTHERN
                                                                      COASTS

                                                           Strait of Magellan — Port Famine — Ascent of
                                                         Mount Tarn —Forests — Edible Fungus — Zoology
                                                         — Great Sea-weed — Leave Tierra del Fuego — Cli-
                                                         mate — 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 Car-
                                                         casses —Recapitulation.


                                                           IN THE END OF MAY, 1834, we entered for a second
                                                         time the eastern mouth of the Strait of Magellan. The
                                                         country on both sides of this part of the Strait con-
                                                         sists of nearly level plains, like those of Patagonia.
                                                       255
                                                The Voyage of the Beagle
Cape Negro, a little within the second Narrows, may             any apparent limits, yet seem to follow, like a river
be considered as the point where the land begins to             in its bed, a regularly determined course.
assume the marked features of Tierra del Fuego. On                During our previous visit (in January), we had an
the east coast, south of the Strait, broken park-like           interview at Cape Gregory with the famous so-called
scenery in a like manner connects these two coun-
                                                                gigantic Patagonians, who gave us a cordial recep-
tries, which are opposed to each other in almost ev-
                                                                tion. Their height appears greater than it really is,
ery feature. It is truly surprising to find in a space of
twenty miles such a change in the landscape. If we              from their large guanaco mantles, their long flowing
take a rather greater distance, as between Port Fam-            hair, and general figure: on an average, their height
ine and Gregory Bay, that is about sixty miles, the             is about six feet, with some men taller and only a
difference is still more wonderful. At the former               few shorter; and the women are also tall; altogether
place, we have rounded mountains concealed by                   they are certainly the tallest race which we anywhere
impervious forests, which are drenched with the rain,           saw. In features they strikingly resemble the more
brought by an endless succession of gales; while at
                                                                northern Indians whom I saw with Rosas, but they
Cape Gregory, there is a clear and bright blue sky
                                                                have a wilder and more formidable appearance: their
over the dry and sterile plains. The atmospheric cur-
rents,* although rapid, turbulent, and unconfined by            faces were much painted with red and black, and
*The south-westerly breezes are generally very dry. Janu-       one man was ringed and dotted with white like a
ary 29th, being at anchor under Cape Gregory: a very            Fuegian. Captain Fitz Roy offered to take any three
hard gale from W. by S., clear sky with few cumuli; tem-
perature 57 degs., dew-point 36 degs., — difference 21          of them on board, and all seemed determined to be
degs. On January 15th, at Port St. Julian: in the morning,      of the three. It was long before we could clear the
light winds with much rain, followed by a very heavy squall     boat; at last we got on board with our three giants,
with rain, — settled into heavy gale with large cumuli, —
cleared up, blowing very strong from S.S.W. Temperature         who dined with the Captain, and behaved quite like
60 degs., dew-point 42 degs., — difference 18 degs.
                                                              256
                                                  Charles Darwin
gentlemen, helping themselves with knives, forks,            the north. They are well stocked with horses, each
and spoons: nothing was so much relished as sugar.           man having, according to Mr. Low, six or seven, and
This tribe has had so much communication with seal-          all the women, and even children, their one own
ers and whalers that most of the men can speak a             horse. In the time of Sarmiento (1580), these Indians
little English and Spanish; and they are half civilized,     had bows and arrows, now long since disused; they
and proportionally demoralized.                              then also possessed some horses. This is a very curi-
   The next morning a large party went on shore, to          ous fact, showing the extraordinarily rapid multipli-
barter for skins and ostrich-feathers; fire-arms being       cation of horses in South America. The horse was first
refused, tobacco was in greatest request, far more so        landed at Buenos Ayres in 1537, and the colony being
than axes or tools. The whole population of the              then for a time deserted, the horse ran wild;* in 1580,
toldos, men, women, and children, were arranged              only forty-three years afterwards, we hear of them at
on a bank. It was an amusing scene, and it was im-           the Strait of Magellan! Mr. Low informs me, that a
possible not to like the so-called giants, they were         neighbouring tribe of foot-Indians is now changing
so thoroughly good-humoured and unsuspecting:                into horse-Indians: the tribe at Gregory Bay giving
they asked us to come again. They seem to like to            them their worn-out horses, and sending in winter a
have Europeans to live with them; and old Maria,             few of their best skilled men to hunt for them.
an important woman in the tribe, once begged Mr.               June 1st. — We anchored in the fine bay of Port
Low to leave any one of his sailors with them. They          Famine. It was now the beginning of winter, and I
spend the greater part of the year here; but in sum-         never saw a more cheerless prospect; the dusky
mer they hunt along the foot of the Cordillera: some-        woods, piebald with snow, could be only seen in-
times they travel as far as the Rio Negro 750 miles to
                                                             *Rengger, Natur. der Saeugethiere von Paraguay. S. 334.
                                                           257
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
distinctly, through a drizzling hazy atmosphere. We        joined the Patagonians. These Indians had treated
were, however, lucky in getting two fine days. On          them with their usual disinterested hospitality. They
one of these, Mount Sarmiento, a distant mountain          had parted company through accident, and were then
6800 feet high, presented a very noble spectacle. I        proceeding to Port Famine in hopes of finding some
was frequently surprised in the scenery of Tierra del      ship. I dare say they were worthless vagabonds, but
Fuego, at the little apparent elevation of mountains       I never saw more miserable-looking ones. They had
really lofty. I suspect it is owing to a cause which       been living for some days on mussel-shells and ber-
would not at first be imagined, namely, that the           ries, and their tattered clothes had been burnt by
whole mass, from the summit to the water’s edge, is        sleeping so near their fires. They had been exposed
generally in full view. I remember having seen a           night and day, without any shelter, to the late inces-
mountain, first from the Beagle Channel, where the         sant gales, with rain, sleet, and snow, and yet they
whole sweep from the summit to the base was full           were in good health.
in view, and then from Ponsonby Sound across sev-            During our stay at Port Famine, the Fuegians twice
eral successive ridges; and it was curious to observe      came and plagued us. As there were many instru-
in the latter case, as each fresh ridge afforded fresh     ments, clothes, and men on shore, it was thought
means of judging of the distance, how the mountain         necessary to frighten them away. The first time a few
rose in height.                                            great guns were fired, when they were far distant. It
  Before reaching Port Famine, two men were seen           was most ludicrous to watch through a glass the In-
running along the shore and hailing the ship. A boat       dians, as often as the shot struck the water, take up
was sent for them. They turned out to be two sailors       stones, and, as a bold defiance, throw them towards
who had run away from a sealing-vessel, and had            the ship, though about a mile and a half distant! A

                                                         258
                                                   Charles Darwin
boat was sent with orders to fire a few musket-shots          a boat to the foot of the mountain (but unluckily not
wide of them. The Fuegians hid themselves behind              to the best part), and then began our ascent. The for-
the trees, and for every discharge of the muskets they        est commences at the line of high-water mark, and
fired their arrows; all, however, fell short of the boat,     during the first two hours I gave over all hopes of
and the officer as he pointed at them laughed. This           reaching the summit. So thick was the wood, that it
made the Fuegians frantic with passion, and they              was necessary to have constant recourse to the com-
shook their mantles in vain rage. At last, seeing the         pass; for every landmark, though in a mountainous
balls cut and strike the trees, they ran away, and we         country, was completely shut out. In the deep ravines,
were left in peace and quietness. During the former           the death-like scene of desolation exceeded all de-
voyage the Fuegians were here very troublesome,               scription; outside it was blowing a gale, but in these
and to frighten them a rocket was fired at night over         hollows, not even a breath of wind stirred the leaves
their wigwams; it answered effectually, and one of            of the tallest trees. So gloomy, cold, and wet was ev-
the officers told me that the clamour first raised, and       ery part, that not even the fungi, mosses, or ferns could
the barking of the dogs, was quite ludicrous in con-          flourish. In the valleys it was scarcely possible to crawl
trast with the profound silence which in a minute or          along, they were so completely barricaded by great
two afterwards prevailed. The next morning not a              mouldering trunks, which had fallen down in every
single Fuegian was in the neighbourhood.                      direction. When passing over these natural bridges,
  When the Beagle was here in the month of Febru-             one’s course was often arrested by sinking knee deep
ary, I started one morning at four o’clock to ascend          into the rotten wood; at other times, when attempting
Mount Tarn, which is 2600 feet high, and is the most          to lean against a firm tree, one was startled by finding
elevated point in this immediate district. We went in         a mass of decayed matter ready to fall at the slightest

                                                            259
                                                 The Voyage of the Beagle
touch. We at last found ourselves among the stunted              species of trees grow, to the exclusion of all others.
trees, and then soon reached the bare ridge, which               Above the forest land, there are many dwarf alpine
conducted us to the summit. Here was a view charac-              plants, which all spring from the mass of peat, and
teristic of Tierra del Fuego; irregular chains of hills,         help to compose it: these plants are very remarkable
mottled with patches of snow, deep yellowish-green               from their close alliance with the species growing
valleys, and arms of the sea intersecting the land in            on the mountains of Europe, though so many thou-
many directions. The strong wind was piercingly cold,            sand miles distant. The central part of Tierra del
and the atmosphere rather hazy, so that we did not               Fuego, where the clay-slate formation occurs, is most
stay long on the top of the mountain. Our descent was            favourable to the growth of trees; on the outer coast
not quite so laborious as our ascent, for the weight of          the poorer granitic soil, and a situation more exposed
the body forced a passage, and all the slips and falls           to the violent winds, do not allow of their attaining
were in the right direction.                                     any great size. Near Port Famine I have seen more
  I have already mentioned the sombre and dull char-             large trees than anywhere else: I measured a Winter’s
acter of the evergreen forests,* in which two or three           Bark which was four feet six inches in girth, and sev-
*Captain Fitz Roy informs me that in April (our October),        eral of the beech were as much as thirteen feet. Cap-
the leaves of those trees which grow near the base of the        tain King also mentions a beech which was seven
mountains change colour, but not those on the more el-           feet in diameter, seventeen feet above the roots.
evated parts. I remember having read some observa-
tions, showing that in England the leaves fall earlier in a        There is one vegetable production deserving no-
warm and fine autumn than in a late and cold one, The            tice from its importance as an article of food to the
change in the colour being here retarded in the more el-
                                                                 Fuegians. It is a globular, bright-yellow fungus,
evated, and therefore colder situations, must he owing to
the same general law of vegetation. The trees of Tierra del      which grows in vast numbers on the beech-trees.
Fuego during no part of the year entirely shed their leaves.
                                                               260
                                                     Charles Darwin
When young it is elastic and turgid, with a smooth              In New Zealand, before the introduction of the po-
surface; but when mature it shrinks, becomes                    tato, the roots of the fern were largely consumed; at
tougher, and has its entire surface deeply pitted or            the present time, I believe, Tierra del Fuego is the only
honey-combed, as represented in the accompanying                country in the world where a cryptogamic plant af-
wood-cut. This fungus belongs to a new and curi-                fords a staple article of food.
ous genus,* I found a second species on another spe-              The zoology of Tierra del Fuego, as might have
cies of beech in Chile: and Dr. Hooker informs me,              been expected from the nature of its climate and veg-
that just lately a third species has been discovered            etation, is very poor. Of mammalia, besides whales
on a third species of beech in Van Diernan’s Land.              and seals, there is one bat, a kind of mouse
How singular is this relationship between parasiti-             (Reithrodon chinchilloides), two true mice, a
cal fungi and the trees on which they grow, in dis-             ctenomys allied to or identical with the tucutuco, two
tant parts of the world! In Tierra del Fuego the fun-           foxes (Canis Magellanicus and C. Azarae), a sea-ot-
gus in its tough and mature state is collected in large         ter, the guanaco, and a deer. Most of these animals
quantities by the women and children, and is eaten              inhabit only the drier eastern parts of the country;
un-cooked. It has a mucilaginous, slightly sweet taste,         and the deer has never been seen south of the Strait
with a faint smell like that of a mushroom. With the            of Magellan. Observing the general correspondence
exception of a few berries, chiefly of a dwarf arbutus,         of the cliffs of soft sandstone, mud, and shingle, on
the natives eat no vegetable food besides this fungus.          the opposite sides of the Strait, and on some inter-
                                                                vening islands, one is strongly tempted to believe
*Described from my specimens and notes by the Rev. J.
                                                                that the land was once joined, and thus allowed ani-
M. Berkeley, in the Linnean Transactions (vol. xix. p. 37),
under the name of Cyttaria Darwinii; the Chilean species        mals so delicate and helpless as the tucutuco and
is the C. Berteroii. This genus is allied to Bulgaria.
                                                              261
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
Reithrodon to pass over. The correspondence of the           pecker, with a fine scarlet crest on its head. A little,
cliffs is far from proving any junction; because such        dusky-coloured wren (Scytalopus Magellanicus)
cliffs generally are formed by the intersection of slop-     hops in a skulking manner among the entangled
ing deposits, which, before the elevation of the land,       mass of the fallen and decaying trunks. But the
had been accumulated near the then existing shores.          creeper (Oxyurus tupinieri) is the commonest bird
It is, however, a remarkable coincidence, that in the        in the country. Throughout the beech forests, high
two large islands cut off by the Beagle Channel from         up and low down, in the most gloomy, wet, and im-
the rest of Tierra del Fuego, one has cliffs composed        penetrable ravines, it may be met with. This little
of matter that may be called stratified alluvium,            bird no doubt appears more numerous than it really
which front similar ones on the opposite side of the         is, from its habit of following with seeming curios-
channel, — while the other is exclusively bordered           ity any person who enters these silent woods: con-
by old crystalline rocks: in the former, called Navarin      tinually uttering a harsh twitter, it flutters from tree
Island, both foxes and guanacos occur; but in the lat-       to tree, within a few feet of the intruder’s face. It is
ter, Hoste Island, although similar in every respect,        far from wishing for the modest concealment of the
and only separated by a channel a little more than           true creeper (Certhia familiaris); nor does it, like that
half a mile wide, I have the word of Jemmy Button            bird, run up the trunks of trees, but industriously,
for saying that neither of these animals are found.          after the manner of a willow-wren, hops about, and
  The gloomy woods are inhabited by few birds:               searches for insects on every twig and branch. In the
occasionally the plaintive note of a white-tufted ty-        more open parts, three or four species of finches, a
rant-flycatcher (Myiobius albiceps) may be heard,            thrush, a starling (or Icterus), two Opetiorhynchi, and
concealed near the summit of the most lofty trees;           several hawks and owls occur.
and more rarely the loud strange cry of a black wood-          The absence of any species whatever in the whole
                                                           262
                                                 Charles Darwin
class of Reptiles, is a marked feature in the zoology       feeding Chrysomelidae, so eminently characteristic
of this country, as well as in that of the Falkland Is-     of the Tropics, are here almost entirely absent;* I saw
lands. I do not ground this statement merely on my          very few flies, butterflies, or bees, and no crickets or
own observation, but I heard it from the Spanish in-        Orthoptera. In the pools of water I found but a few
habitants of the latter place, and from Jemmy Button        aquatic beetles, and not any fresh-water shells:
with regard to Tierra del Fuego. On the banks of the        Succinea at first appears an exception; but here it must
Santa Cruz, in 50 degs. south, I saw a frog; and it is      be called a terrestrial shell, for it lives on the damp
not improbable that these animals, as well as lizards,      herbage far from the water. Land-shells could be pro-
may be found as far south as the Strait of Magellan,        cured only in the same alpine situations with the
where the country retains the character of Patagonia;       beetles. I have already contrasted the climate as well
but within the damp and cold limit of Tierra del            as the general appearance of Tierra del Fuego with
Fuego not one occurs. That the climate would not            that of Patagonia; and the difference is strongly ex-
have suited some of the orders, such as lizards, might
have been foreseen; but with respect to frogs, this         *I believe I must except one alpine Haltica, and a single
                                                            specimen of a Melasoma. Mr. Waterhouse informs me,
was not so obvious.                                         that of the Harpalidae there are eight or nine species —
  Beetles occur in very small numbers: it was long          the forms of the greater number being very peculiar; of
before I could believe that a country as large as Scot-     Heteromera, four or five species; of Rhyncophora, six or
                                                            seven; and of the following families one species in each:
land, covered with vegetable productions and with a         Staphylinidae, Elateridae, Cebrionidae, Melolonthidae. The
variety of stations, could be so unproductive. The few      species in the other orders are even fewer. In all the or-
                                                            ders, the scarcity of the individuals is even more remark-
which I found were alpine species (Harpalidae and
                                                            able than that of the species. Most of the Coleoptera have
Heteromidae) living under stones. The vegetable-            been carefully described by Mr. Waterhouse in the An-
                                                            nals of Nat. Hist.
                                                          263
                                                 The Voyage of the Beagle
emplified in the entomology. I do not believe they               ing the voyages of the Adventure and Beagle, not
have one species in common; certainly the general                one rock near the surface was discovered which was
character of the insects is widely different.                    not buoyed by this floating weed. The good service
  If we turn from the land to the sea, we shall find             it thus affords to vessels navigating near this stormy
the latter as abundantly stocked with living creatures           land is evident; and it certainly has saved many a
as the former is poorly so. In all parts of the world a          one from being wrecked. I know few things more
rocky and partially protected shore perhaps sup-                 surprising than to see this plant growing and flour-
ports, in a given space, a greater number of indi-               ishing amidst those great breakers of the western
vidual animals than any other station. There is one              ocean, which no mass of rock, let it be ever so hard,
marine production which, from its importance, is                 can long resist. The stem is round, slimy, and smooth,
worthy of a particular history. It is the kelp, or               and seldom has a diameter of so much as an inch. A
Macrocystis pyrifera. This plant grows on every rock             few taken together are sufficiently strong to support
from low-water mark to a great depth, both on the                the weight of the large loose stones, to which in the
outer coast and within the channels.* I believe, dur-            inland channels they grow attached; and yet some
*Its geographical range is remarkably wide; it is found from     of these stones were so heavy that when drawn to
the extreme southern islets near Cape Horn, as far north         the surface, they could scarcely be lifted into a boat
on the eastern coast (according to information given me          by one person. Captain Cook, in his second voyage,
by Mr. Stokes) as lat. 43 degs., — but on the western
coast, as Dr. Hooker tells me, it extends to the R. San          says, that this plant at Kerguelen Land rises from a
Francisco in California, and perhaps even to Kamtschatka.        greater depth than twenty-four fathoms; “and as it
We thus have an immense range in latitude; and as Cook,
                                                                 does not grow in a perpendicular direction, but makes
who must have been well acquainted with the species,
found it at Kerguelen Land, no less than 140 degs. in lon-       a very acute angle with the bottom, and much of it
gitude.
                                                               264
                                                       Charles Darwin
afterwards spreads many fathoms on the surface of               derful. A great volume might be written, describing
the sea, I am well warranted to say that some of it             the inhabitants of one of these beds of sea-weed. Al-
grows to the length of sixty fathoms and upwards.” I            most all the leaves, excepting those that float on the
do not suppose the stem of any other plant attains so           surface, are so thickly incrusted with corallines as to
great a length as three hundred and sixty feet, as stated       be of a white colour. We find exquisitely delicate
by Captain Cook. Captain Fitz Roy, moreover, found              structures, some inhabited by simple hydra-like
it growing* up from the greater depth of forty-five             polypi, others by more organized kinds, and beau-
fathoms. The beds of this sea-weed, even when of not            tiful compound Ascidiae. On the leaves, also, vari-
great breadth, make excellent natural floating break-           ous patelliform shells, Trochi, uncovered molluscs,
waters. It is quite curious to see, in an exposed               and some bivalves are attached. Innumerable crus-
harbour, how soon the waves from the open sea, as               tacea frequent every part of the plant. On shaking
they travel through the straggling stems, sink in               the great entangled roots, a pile of small fish, shells,
height, and pass into smooth water.                             cuttle-fish, crabs of all orders, sea-eggs, star-fish,
  The number of living creatures of all Orders, whose           beautiful Holuthuriae, Planariae, and crawling
existence intimately depends on the kelp, is won-               nereidous animals of a multitude of forms, all fall
                                                                out together. Often as I recurred to a branch of the
*Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle, vol. i. p. 363. — It      kelp, I never failed to discover animals of new and
appears that sea-weed grows extremely quick. — Mr.
Stephenson found (Wilson’s Voyage round Scotland, vol.          curious structures. In Chiloe, where the kelp does
ii. p. 228) that a rock uncovered only at spring-tides, which   not thrive very well, the numerous shells, corallines,
had been chiselled smooth in November, on the following
                                                                and crustacea are absent; but there yet remain a few
May, that is, within six months afterwards, was thickly
covered with Fucus digitatus two feet, and F. esculentus        of the Flustraceae, and some compound Ascidiae;
six feet, in length.
                                                            265
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
the latter, however, are of different species from those     ered. Our course lay due south, down that gloomy
in Tierra del Fuego: we see here the fucus possess-          passage which I have before alluded to as appear-
ing a wider range than the animals which use it as           ing to lead to another and worse world. The wind
an abode. I can only compare these great aquatic for-        was fair, but the atmosphere was very thick; so that
ests of the southern hemisphere with the terrestrial         we missed much curious scenery. The dark ragged
ones in the intertropical regions. Yet if in any coun-       clouds were rapidly driven over the mountains, from
try a forest was destroyed, I do not believe nearly so       their summits nearly down to their bases. The
many species of animals would perish as would                glimpses which we caught through the dusky mass
here, from the destruction of the kelp. Amidst the           were highly interesting; jagged points, cones of
leaves of this plant numerous species of fish live,          snow, blue glaciers, strong outlines, marked on a
which nowhere else could find food or shelter; with          lurid sky, were seen at different distances and
their destruction the many cormorants and other fish-        heights. In the midst of such scenery we anchored at
ing birds, the otters, seals, and porpoises, would           Cape Turn, close to Mount Sarmiento, which was
soon perish also; and lastly, the Fuegian savage, the        then hidden in the clouds. At the base of the lofty
miserable lord of this miserable land, would re-             and almost perpendicular sides of our little cove
double his cannibal feast, decrease in numbers, and          there was one deserted wigwam, and it alone re-
perhaps cease to exist.                                      minded us that man sometimes wandered into these
  June 8th. — We weighed anchor early in the morn-           desolate regions. But it would be difficult to imag-
ing and left Port Famine. Captain Fitz Roy deter-            ine a scene where he seemed to have fewer claims or
mined to leave the Strait of Magellan by the                 less authority. The inanimate works of nature — rock,
Magdalen Channel, which had not long been discov-            ice, snow, wind, and water — all warring with each

                                                           266
                                                  Charles Darwin
other, yet combined against man — here reigned in            full as beautiful as the moving ones of water. By night
absolute sovereignty.                                        we reached the western part of the channel; but the
  June 9th. — In the morning we were delighted by            water was so deep that no anchorage could be found.
seeing the veil of mist gradually rise from Sarmiento,       We were in consequence obliged to stand off and on
and display it to our view. This mountain, which is          in this narrow arm of the sea, during a pitch-dark night
one of the highest in Tierra del Fuego, has an altitude      of fourteen hours long.
of 6800 feet. Its base, for about an eighth of its total       June 10th. — In the morning we made the best of
height, is clothed by dusky woods, and above this a          our way into the open Pacific. The western coast gen-
field of snow extends to the summit. These vast piles        erally consists of low, rounded, quite barren hills of
of snow, which never melt, and seem destined to last         granite and greenstone. Sir J. Narborough called one
as long as the world holds together, present a noble         part South Desolation, because it is “so desolate a
and even sublime spectacle. The outline of the moun-         land to behold:” and well indeed might he say so.
tain was admirably clear and defined. Owing to the           Outside the main islands, there are numberless scat-
abundance of light reflected from the white and glit-        tered rocks on which the long swell of the open ocean
tering surface, no shadows were cast on any part; and        incessantly rages. We passed out between the East
those lines which intersected the sky could alone be         and West Furies; and a little farther northward there
distinguished: hence the mass stood out in the bold-         are so many breakers that the sea is called the Milky
est relief. Several glaciers descended in a winding          Way. One sight of such a coast is enough to make a
course from the upper great expanse of snow to the           landsman dream for a week about shipwrecks, peril,
sea-coast: they may be likened to great frozen               and death; and with this sight we bade farewell for
Niagaras; and perhaps these cataracts of blue ice are        ever to Tierra del Fuego.

                                                           267
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
  The following discussion on the climate of the
southern parts of the continent with relation to its          Hence we see that the central part of Tierra del
productions, on the snow-line, on the extraordinar-         Fuego is colder in winter, and no less than 9.5 degs.
ily low descent of the glaciers, and on the zone of         less hot in summer, than Dublin. According to von
perpetual congelation in the antarctic islands, may         Buch, the mean temperature of July (not the hottest
be passed over by any one not interested in these           month in the year) at Saltenfiord in Norway, is as
curious subjects, or the final recapitulation alone may     high as 57.8 degs., and this place is actually 13 degs.
be read. I shall, however, here give only an abstract,      nearer the pole than Port Famine!* Inhospitable as
and must refer for details to the Thirteenth Chapter        this climate appears to our feelings evergreen trees
and the Appendix of the former edition of this work.        flourish luxuriantly under it. Humming-birds may
  On the Climate and Productions of Tierra del              be seen sucking the flowers, and parrots feeding on
Fuego and of the South-west Coast. — The follow-            the seeds of the Winter’s Bark, in lat. 55 degs. S. I
ing table gives the mean temperature of Tierra del          have already remarked to what a degree the sea
Fuego, the Falkland Islands, and, for comparison,           swarms with living creatures; and the shells (such
that of Dublin: —                                           as the Patellae, Fissurellae, Chitons, and Barnacles),

         Summer Winter Mean of Summer                       *With regard to Tierra del Fuego, the results are deduced
        Latitude Temp. Temp. and Winter                     from the observations of Capt. King (Geographical Jour-
                                                            nal, 1830), and those taken on board the Beagle. For the
                                                            Falkland Islands, I am indebted to Capt. Sulivan for the
 Tierra del Fuego 53 38' S. 50 33.08 41.54                  mean of the mean temperature (reduced from careful ob-
                                                            servations at midnight, 8 A.M., noon, and 8 P.M.) of the
 Falkland Islands 51 38' S. 51 — —
                                                            three hottest months, viz., December, January, and Feb-
 Dublin            53 21' N. 59.54 39.2 49.37               ruary. The temperature of Dublin is taken from Barton.
                                                          268
                                                 Charles Darwin
according to Mr. G. B. Sowerby, are of a much larger        nent. The forests for 600 miles northward of Cape
size and of a more vigorous growth, than the analo-         Horn, have a very similar aspect. As a proof of the
gous species in the northern hemisphere. A large            equable climate, even for 300 or 400 miles still fur-
Voluta is abundant in southern Tierra del Fuego and         ther northward, I may mention that in Chiloe (corre-
the Falkland Islands. At Bahia Blanca, in lat. 39 degs.     sponding in latitude with the northern parts of Spain)
S., the most abundant shells were three species of          the peach seldom produces fruit, whilst strawber-
Oliva (one of large size), one or two Volutas, and a        ries and apples thrive to perfection. Even the crops
Terebra. Now, these are amongst the best character-         of barley and wheat* are often brought into the
ized tropical forms. It is doubtful whether even one        houses to be dried and ripened. At Valdivia (in the
small species of Oliva exists on the southern shores        same latitude of 40 degs., with Madrid) grapes and
of Europe, and there are no species of the two other        figs ripen, but are not common; olives seldom ripen
genera. If a geologist were to find in lat 39 degs. on      even partially, and oranges not at all. These fruits,
the coast of Portugal a bed containing numerous             in corresponding latitudes in Europe, are well
shells belonging to three species of Oliva, to a Voluta     known to succeed to perfection; and even in this con-
and Terebra, he would probably assert that the cli-         tinent, at the Rio Negro, under nearly the same par-
mate at the period of their existence must have been        allel with Valdivia, sweet potatoes (convolvulus) are
tropical; but judging from South America, such an           cultivated; and grapes, figs, olives, oranges, water
inference might be erroneous.                               and musk melons, produce abundant fruit. Although
  The equable, humid, and windy climate of Tierra           the humid and equable climate of Chiloe, and of the
del Fuego extends, with only a small increase of heat,      coast northward and southward of it, is so
for many degrees along the west coast of the conti-
                                                            *Agueros, Descrip. Hist. de la Prov. de Chiloe, 1791, p. 94.
                                                          269
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
unfavourable to our fruits, yet the native forests, from     on the trees. In the Auckland Islands, ferns, according
lat. 45 to 38 degs., almost rival in luxuriance those of     to Dr. Dieffenbach* have trunks so thick and high that
the glowing intertropical regions. Stately trees of          they may be almost called tree-ferns; and in these is-
many kinds, with smooth and highly coloured barks,           lands, and even as far south as lat. 55 degs. in the
are loaded by parasitical monocotyledonous plants;           Macquarrie Islands, parrots abound.
large and elegant ferns are numerous, and arbores-             On the Height of the Snow-line, and on the Descent
cent grasses entwine the trees into one entangled            of the Glaciers in South America. — For the detailed
mass to the height of thirty or forty feet above the         authorities for the following table, I must refer to the
ground. Palm-trees grow in lat 37 degs.; an arbores-         former edition: —
cent grass, very like a bamboo, in 40 degs.; and an-
other closely allied kind, of great length, but not              Height in feet Latitude         of Snow-line Observer
erect, flourishes even as far south as 45 degs. S.
  An equable climate, evidently due to the large area            Equatorial region; mean result 15,748 Humboldt.
of sea compared with the land, seems to extend over              Bolivia, lat. 16 to 18 degs. S. 17,000        Pentland.
the greater part of the southern hemisphere; and, as a           Central Chile, lat. 33 degs. S. 14,500 - 15,000 Gillies, and
consequence, the vegetation partakes of a semi-tropi-                            the Author.
cal character. Tree-ferns thrive luxuriantly in Van              Chiloe, lat. 41 to 43 degs. S. 6,000 Officers of the
Diemen’s Land (lat. 45 degs.), and I measured one                                 Beagle and the Author.
trunk no less than six feet in circumference. An ar-             Tierra del Fuego, 54 degs. S. 3,500 - 4,000 King.
borescent fern was found by Forster in New Zealand
in 46 degs., where orchideous plants are parasitical         *See the German Translation of this Journal; and for the
                                                             other facts, Mr. Brown’s Appendix to Flinders’s Voyage.
                                                           270
                                                      Charles Darwin
  As the height of the plane of perpetual snow seems           ping with moisture. The sky is cloudy, and we have
chiefly to be determined by the extreme heat of the            seen how badly the fruits of southern Europe suc-
summer, rather than by the mean temperature of the             ceed. In central Chile, on the other hand, a little north-
year, we ought not to be surprised at its descent in           ward of Concepcion, the sky is generally clear, rain
the Strait of Magellan, where the summer is so cool,           does not fall for the seven summer months, and
to only 3500 or 4000 feet above the level of the sea;          southern European fruits succeed admirably; and
although in Norway, we must travel to between lat.             even the sugar-cane has been cultivated.* No doubt
67 and 70 degs. N., that is, about 14 degs. nearer the         the plane of perpetual snow undergoes the above
pole, to meet with perpetual snow at this low level.           remarkable flexure of 9000 feet, unparalleled in other
The difference in height, namely, about 9000 feet,             parts of the world, not far from the latitude of
between the snow-line on the Cordillera behind                 Concepcion, where the land ceases to be covered
Chiloe (with its highest points ranging from only              with forest-trees; for trees in South America indicate
5600 to 7500 feet) and in central Chile* (a distance of        a rainy climate, and rain a clouded sky and little heat
only 9 degs. of latitude), is truly wonderful. The land        in summer.
from the southward of Chiloe to near Concepcion                  The descent of glaciers to the sea must, I conceive,
(lat. 37 degs.) is hidden by one dense forest drip-            mainly depend (subject, of course, to a proper sup-
                                                               ply of snow in the upper region) on the lowness of
*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      *Miers’s Chile, vol. i. p. 415. It is said that the sugar-cane
snow disappeared from Aconcagua, although it attains the       grew at Ingenio, lat. 32 to 33 degs., but not in sufficient
prodigious height of 23,000 feet. It is probable that much     quantity to make the manufacture profitable. In the valley
of the snow at these great heights is evaporated rather        of Quillota, south of Ingenio, I saw some large date palm
than thawed.                                                   trees.
                                                           271
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
the line of perpetual snow on steep mountains near          tion, and traversed by fissures! I can readily believe
the coast. As the snow-line is so low in Tierra del         that the water would be fairly beaten back out of the
Fuego, we might have expected that many of the gla-         deepest channel, and then, returning with an over-
ciers would have reached the sea. Nevertheless, I was       whelming force, would whirl about huge masses of
astonished when I first saw a range, only from 3000         rock like so much chaff. In Eyre’s Sound, in the lati-
to 4000 feet in height, in the latitude of Cumberland,      tude of Paris, there are immense glaciers, and yet
with every valley filled with streams of ice descend-       the loftiest neighbouring mountain is only 6200 feet
ing to the sea-coast. Almost every arm of the sea,          high. In this Sound, about fifty icebergs were seen at
which penetrates to the interior higher chain, not only     one time floating outwards, and one of them must
in Tierra del Fuego, but on the coast for 650 miles         have been at least 168 feet in total height. Some of
northwards, is terminated by “tremendous and as-            the icebergs were loaded with blocks of no incon-
tonishing glaciers,” as described by one of the offic-      siderable size, of granite and other rocks, different
ers on the survey. Great masses of ice frequently fall      from the clay-slate of the surrounding mountains.
from these icy cliffs, and the crash reverberates like      The glacier furthest from the pole, surveyed during
the broadside of a man-of-war through the lonely            the voyages of the Adventure and Beagle, is in lat.
channels. These falls, as noticed in the last chapter,      46 degs. 50', in the Gulf of Penas. It is 15 miles long,
produce great waves which break on the adjoining            and in one part 7 broad and descends to the sea-coast.
coasts. It is known that earthquakes frequently cause       But even a few miles northward of this glacier, in
masses of earth to fall from sea-cliffs: how terrific,      Laguna de San Rafael, some Spanish missionaries*
then, would be the effect of a severe shock (and such       encountered “many icebergs, some great, some
occur here*) on a body like a glacier, already in mo-       small, and others middle-sized,” in a narrow arm of
                                                            the sea, on the 22nd of the month corresponding with
*Bulkeley’s and Cummin’s Faithful Narrative of the Loss
of the Wager. The earthquake happened August 25, 1741.      *Agueros, Desc. Hist. de Chiloe, p. 227.
                                                          272
                                                Charles Darwin
our June, and in a latitude corresponding with that        the period when boulders were transported. I will
of the Lake of Geneva !                                    not here detail how simply the theory of icebergs
  In Europe, the most southern glacier which comes         being charged with fragments of rock, explain the
down to the sea is met with, according to Von Buch,        origin and position of the gigantic boulders of east-
on the coast of Norway, in lat. 67 degs. Now, this is      ern Tierra del Fuego, on the high plain of Santa Cruz,
more than 20 degs. of latitude, or 1230 miles, nearer      and on the island of Chiloe. In Tierra del Fuego, the
the pole than the Laguna de San Rafael. The posi-          greater number of boulders lie on the lines of old
tion of the glaciers at this place and in the Gulf of      sea-channels, now converted into dry valleys by the
Penas may be put even in a more striking point of          elevation of the land. They are associated with a great
view, for they descend to the sea-coast within 7.5         unstratified formation of mud and sand, containing
degs. of latitude, or 450 miles, of a harbour, where       rounded and angular fragments of all sizes, which
three species of Oliva, a Voluta, and a Terebra, are       has originated* in the repeated ploughing up of the
the commonest shells, within less than 9 degs. from        sea-bottom by the stranding of icebergs, and by the
where palms grow, within 4.5 degs. of a region where       matter transported on them. Few geologists now
the jaguar and puma range over the plains, less than       doubt that those erratic boulders which lie near lofty
2.5 degs. from arborescent grasses, and (looking to        mountains have been pushed forward by the gla-
the westward in the same hemisphere) less than 2           ciers themselves, and that those distant from moun-
degs. from orchideous parasites, and within a single       tains, and embedded in subaqueous deposits, have
degree of tree-ferns!                                      been conveyed thither either on icebergs or frozen
  These facts are of high geological interest with re-     in coast-ice. The connection between the transportal
spect to the climate of the northern hemisphere at
                                                           *Geological Transactions, vol. vi. p. 415.

                                                         273
                                                   The Voyage of the Beagle
of boulders and the presence of ice in some form, is                by Cook, during the hottest month of the year, “cov-
strikingly shown by their geographical distribution                 ered many fathoms thick with everlasting snow;” and
over the earth. In South America they are not found                 there seems to be scarcely any vegetation. Georgia,
further than 48 degs. of latitude, measured from the                an island 96 miles long and 10 broad, in the latitude
southern pole; in North America it appears that the                 of Yorkshire, “in the very height of summer, is in a
limit of their transportal extends to 53.5 degs. from               manner wholly covered with frozen snow.” It can
the northern pole; but in Europe to not more than 40                boast only of moss, some tufts of grass, and wild
degs. of latitude, measured from the same point. On                 burnet; it has only one land-bird (Anthus correndera),
the other hand, in the intertropical parts of America,              yet Iceland, which is 10 degs. nearer the pole, has,
Asia, and Africa, they have never been observed; nor                according to Mackenzie, fifteen land-birds. The South
at the Cape of Good Hope, nor in Australia.*                        Shetland Islands, in the same latitude as the south-
  On the Climate and Productions of the Antarctic                   ern half of Norway, possess only some lichens, moss,
Islands. — Considering the rankness of the vegeta-                  and a little grass; and Lieut. Kendall* found the bay,
tion in Tierra del Fuego, and on the coast northward                in which he was at anchor, beginning to freeze at a
of it, the condition of the islands south and south-                period corresponding with our 8th of September. The
west of America is truly surprising. Sandwich Land,                 soil here consists of ice and volcanic ashes
in the latitude of the north part of Scotland, was found            interstratified; and at a little depth beneath the sur-
*I have given details (the first, I believe, published) on this     face it must remain perpetually congealed, for Lieut.
subject in the first edition, and in the Appendix to it. I have     Kendall found the body of a foreign sailor which had
there shown that the apparent exceptions to the absence
                                                                    long been buried, with the flesh and all the features
of erratic boulders in certain countries, are due to errone-
ous observations; several statements there given I have
                                                                    *Geographical Journal, 1830, pp. 65, 66.
since found confirmed by various authors.
                                                                  274
                                                 Charles Darwin
perfectly preserved. It is a singular fact, that on the     require heat as it does protection from intense cold,
two great continents in the northern hemisphere (but        would approach much nearer to this zone of per-
not in the broken land of Europe between them ), we         petual congelation under the equable climate of the
have the zone of perpetually frozen undersoil in a          southern hemisphere, than under the extreme climate
low latitude — namely, in 56 degs. in North America         of the northern continents.
at the depth of three feet,* and in 62 degs. in Siberia       The case of the sailor’s body perfectly preserved
at the depth of twelve to fifteen feet — as the result      in the icy soil of the South Shetland Islands (lat. 62 to
of a directly opposite condition of things to those of      63 degs. S.), in a rather lower latitude than that (lat.
the southern hemisphere. On the northern continents,        64 degs. N.) under which Pallas found the frozen
the winter is rendered excessively cold by the radia-       rhinoceros in Siberia, is very interesting. Although
tion from a large area of land into a clear sky, nor is     it is a fallacy, as I have endeavoured to show in a
it moderated by the warmth-bringing currents of the         former chapter, to suppose that the larger quadru-
sea; the short summer, on the other hand, is hot. In        peds require a luxuriant vegetation for their support,
the Southern Ocean the winter is not so excessively         nevertheless it is important to find in the South Shet-
cold, but the summer is far less hot, for the clouded       land Islands a frozen under-soil within 360 miles of
sky seldom allows the sun to warm the ocean, itself         the forest-clad islands near Cape Horn, where, as far
a bad absorbent of heat: and hence the mean tem-            as the bulk of vegetation is concerned, any number
perature of the year, which regulates the zone of           of great quadrupeds might be supported. The per-
perpetually congealed under-soil, is low. It is evi-        fect preservation of the carcasses of the Siberian el-
dent that a rank vegetation, which does not so much         ephants and rhinoceroses is certainly one of the most
*Richardson’s Append. to Back’s Exped., and Humboldt’s      wonderful facts in geology; but independently of the
Fragm. Asiat., tom. ii. p. 386.
                                                          275
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
imagined difficulty of supplying them with food            now in the extreme northern parts of Siberia bones
from the adjoining countries, the whole case is not, I     are infinitely numerous, so that even islets are said
think, so perplexing as it has generally been consid-      to be almost composed of them;* and those islets lie
ered. The plains of Siberia, like those of the Pampas,     no less than ten degrees of latitude north of the place
appear to have been formed under the sea, into which       where Pallas found the frozen rhinoceros. On the
rivers brought down the bodies of many animals; of         other hand, a carcass washed by a flood into a shal-
the greater number of these, only the skeletons have       low part of the Arctic Sea, would be preserved for
been preserved, but of others the perfect carcass.         an indefinite period, if it were soon afterwards cov-
Now, it is known that in the shallow sea on the Arc-       ered with mud sufficiently thick to prevent the heat
tic coast of America the bottom freezes,* and does         of the summer-water penetrating to it; and if, when
not thaw in spring so soon as the surface of the land,     the sea-bottom was upraised into land, the covering
moreover at greater depths, where the bottom of the        was sufficiently thick to prevent the heat of the sum-
sea does not freeze the mud a few feet beneath the         mer air and sun thawing and corrupting it.
top layer might remain even in summer below 32               Recapitulation. — I will recapitulate the principal
degs., as in the case on the land with the soil at the     facts with regard to the climate, ice-action, and or-
depth of a few feet. At still greater depths, the tem-     ganic productions of the southern hemisphere, trans-
perature of the mud and water would probably not           posing the places in imagination to Europe, with
be low enough to preserve the flesh; and hence, car-       which we are so much better acquainted. Then, near
casses drifted beyond the shallow parts near an Arc-       Lisbon, the commonest sea-shells, namely, three spe-
tic coast, would have only their skeletons preserved:      cies of Oliva, a Voluta, and a Terebra, would have a
*Messrs. Dease and Simpson, in Geograph. Journ., vol.      *Cuvier (Ossemens Fossiles, tom. i. p. 151), from Billing’s
viii. pp. 218 and 220.                                     Voyage.
                                                         276
                                               Charles Darwin
tropical character. In the southern provinces of          away from their original site. Another island of large
France, magnificent forests, intwined by arborescent      size in the latitude of southern Scotland, but twice
grasses and with the trees loaded with parasitical        as far to the west, would be “almost wholly covered
plants, would hide the face of the land. The puma         with everlasting snow,” and would have each bay
and the jaguar would haunt the Pyrenees. In the lati-     terminated by ice-cliffs, whence great masses would
tude of Mont Blanc, but on an island as far westward      be yearly detached: this island would boast only of
as Central North America, tree-ferns and parasitical      a little moss, grass, and burnet, and a titlark would
Orchideae would thrive amidst the thick woods.            be its only land inhabitant. From our new Cape Horn
Even as far north as central Denmark, humming-birds       in Denmark, a chain of mountains, scarcely half the
would be seen fluttering about delicate flowers, and      height of the Alps, would run in a straight line due
parrots feeding amidst the evergreen woods; and in        southward; and on its western flank every deep creek
the sea there, we should have a Voluta, and all the       of the sea, or fiord, would end in “bold and aston-
shells of large size and vigorous growth. Neverthe-       ishing glaciers.” These lonely channels would fre-
less, on some islands only 360 miles northward of         quently reverberate with the falls of ice, and so often
our new Cape Horn in Denmark, a carcass buried in         would great waves rush along their coasts; numer-
the soil (or if washed into a shallow sea, and cov-       ous icebergs, some as tall as cathedrals, and occa-
ered up with mud) would be preserved perpetually          sionally loaded with “no inconsiderable blocks of
frozen. If some bold navigator attempted to penetrate     rock,” would be stranded on the outlying islets; at
northward of these islands, he would run a thou-          intervals violent earthquakes would shoot prodi-
sand dangers amidst gigantic icebergs, on some of         gious masses of ice into the waters below. Lastly,
which he would see great blocks of rock borne far         some missionaries attempting to penetrate a long

                                                        277
                                                        The Voyage of the Beagle
arm of the sea, would behold the not lofty surround-
ing mountains, sending down their many grand icy
                                                                                 CHAPTER XII
streams to the sea-coast, and their progress in the
boats would be checked by the innumerable float-                                      CENTRAL CHILE
ing icebergs, some small and some great; and this
would have occurred on our twenty-second of June,                           Valparaiso — Excursion to the Foot of the Andes —
and where the Lake of Geneva is now spread out!*                          Structure of the Land — Ascend the Bell of Quillota
                                                                          — Shattered Masses of Greenstone — Immense Val-
*In the former edition and Appendix, I have given some facts on           leys — Mines — State of Miners — Santiago — Hot-
the transportal of erratic boulders and icebergs in the Atlantic
Ocean. This subject has lately been treated excellently by Mr.            baths of Cauquenes — Gold-mines —Grinding-mills
Hayes, in the Boston Journal (vol. iv. p. 426). The author does           — Perforated Stones — Habits of the Puma — El Turco
not appear aware of a case published by me (Geographical Jour-
nal, vol. ix. p. 528) of a gigantic boulder embedded in an iceberg        and Tapacolo — Hummingbirds.
in the Antarctic Ocean, almost certainly one hundred miles dis-
tant from any land, and perhaps much more distant. In the Ap-
pendix I have discussed at length the probability (at that time             JULY 23rd. — The Beagle anchored late at night in
hardly thought of) of icebergs, when stranded, grooving and pol-          the bay of Valparaiso, the chief seaport of Chile.
ishing rocks, like glaciers. This is now a very commonly received
opinion; and I cannot still avoid the suspicion that it is applicable     When morning came, everything appeared delight-
even to such cases as that of the Jura. Dr. Richardson has as-            ful. After Tierra del Fuego, the climate felt quite de-
sured me that the icebergs off North America push before them
pebbles and sand, and leave the sub-marine rocky flats quite              licious — the atmosphere so dry, and the heavens
bare; it is hardly possible to doubt that such ledges must be             so clear and blue with the sun shining brightly, that
polished and scored in the direction of the set of the prevailing
currents. Since writing that Appendix, I have seen in North Wales         all nature seemed sparkling with life. The view from
(London Phil. Mag., vol. xxi. p. 180) the adjoining action of gla-        the anchorage is very pretty. The town is built at the
ciers and floating icebergs.
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                                                 Charles Darwin
very foot of a range of hills, about 1600 feet high,        part of their beauty to the atmosphere through which
and rather steep. From its position, it consists of one     they are seen. When the sun was setting in the Pa-
long, straggling street, which runs parallel to the         cific, it was admirable to watch how clearly their rug-
beach, and wherever a ravine comes down, the                ged outlines could be distinguished, yet how var-
houses are piled up on each side of it. The rounded         ied and how delicate were the shades of their colour.
hills, being only partially protected by a very scanty        I had the good fortune to find living here Mr. Rich-
vegetation, are worn into numberless little gullies,        ard Corfield, an old schoolfellow and friend, to
which expose a singularly bright red soil. From this        whose hospitality and kindness I was greatly in-
cause, and from the low whitewashed houses with             debted, in having afforded me a most pleasant resi-
tile roofs, the view reminded me of St. Cruz in             dence during the Beagle’s stay in Chile. The imme-
Teneriffe. In a north-westerly direction there are some     diate neighbourhood of Valparaiso is not very pro-
fine glimpses of the Andes: but these mountains             ductive to the naturalist. During the long summer
appear much grander when viewed from the                    the wind blows steadily from the southward, and a
neighbouring hills: the great distance at which they        little off shore, so that rain never falls; during the
are situated can then more readily be perceived. The        three winter months, however, it is sufficiently abun-
volcano of Aconcagua is particularly magnificent.           dant. The vegetation in consequence is very scanty:
This huge and irregularly conical mass has an el-           except in some deep valleys, there are no trees, and
evation greater than that of Chimborazo; for, from          only a little grass and a few low bushes are scattered
measurements made by the officers in the Beagle,            over the less steep parts of the hills. When we re-
its height is no less than 23,000 feet. The Cordillera,     flect, that at the distance of 350 miles to the south,
however, viewed from this point, owe the greater            this side of the Andes is completely hidden by one

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                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
impenetrable forest, the contrast is very remarkable.      belonged to Lord Cochrane. My object in coming here
I took several long walks while collecting objects of      was to see the great beds of shells, which stand some
natural history. The country is pleasant for exercise.     yards above the level of the sea, and are burnt for lime.
There are many very beautiful flowers; and, as in          The proofs of the elevation of this whole line of coast
most other dry climates, the plants and shrubs pos-        are unequivocal: at the height of a few hundred feet
sess strong and peculiar odours — even one’s clothes       old-looking shells are numerous, and I found some
by brushing through them became scented. I did not         at 1300 feet. These shells either lie loose on the sur-
cease from wonder at finding each succeeding day           face, or are embedded in a reddish-black vegetable
as fine as the foregoing. What a difference does cli-      mould. I was much surprised to find under the mi-
mate make in the enjoyment of life! How opposite           croscope that this vegetable mould is really marine
are the sensations when viewing black mountains            mud, full of minute particles of organic bodies.
half enveloped in clouds, and seeing another range           15th. — We returned towards the valley of Quillota.
through the light blue haze of a fine day! The one for     The country was exceedingly pleasant; just such as
a time may be very sublime; the other is all gaiety        poets would call pastoral: green open lawns, sepa-
and happy life.                                            rated by small valleys with rivulets, and the cottages,
  August 14th. — I set out on a riding excursion, for      we may suppose of the shepherds scattered on the
the purpose of geologizing the basal parts of the          hill-sides. We were obliged to cross the ridge of the
Andes, which alone at this time of the year are not        Chilicauquen. At its base there were many fine ever-
shut up by the winter snow. Our first day’s ride was       green forest-trees, but these flourished only in the
northward along the seacoast. After dark we reached        ravines, where there was running water. Any per-
the Hacienda of Quintero, the estate which formerly        son who had seen only the country near Valparaiso,

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                                                   Charles Darwin
would never have imagined that there had been such            southward: in these, the principal towns are situated,
picturesque spots in Chile. As soon as we reached             as San Felipe, Santiago, San Fernando. These basins
the brow of the Sierra, the valley of Quillota was im-        or plains, together with the transverse flat valleys
mediately under our feet. The prospect was one of             (like that of Quillota) which connect them with the
remarkable artificial luxuriance. The valley is very          coast, I have no doubt are the bottoms of ancient in-
broad and quite flat, and is thus easily irrigated in         lets and deep bays, such as at the present day inter-
all parts. The little square gardens are crowded with         sect every part of Tierra del Fuego and the western
orange and olive trees, and every sort of vegetable.          coast. Chile must formerly have resembled the lat-
On each side huge bare mountains rise, and this from          ter country in the configuration of its land and wa-
the contrast renders the patchwork valley the more            ter. The resemblance was occasionally shown strik-
pleasing. Whoever called “Valparaiso” the “Valley             ingly when a level fog-bank covered, as with a
of Paradise,” must have been thinking of Quillota.            mantle, all the lower parts of the country: the white
We crossed over to the Hacienda de San Isidro, situ-          vapour curling into the ravines, beautifully repre-
ated at the very foot of the Bell Mountain.                   sented little coves and bays; and here and there a
  Chile, as may be seen in the maps, is a narrow strip        solitary hillock peeping up, showed that it had for-
of land between the Cordillera and the Pacific; and           merly stood there as an islet. The contrast of these
this strip is itself traversed by several mountain-lines,     flat valleys and basins with the irregular mountains,
which in this part run parallel to the great range.           gave the scenery a character which to me was new
Between these outer lines and the main Cordillera, a          and very interesting.
succession of level basins, generally opening into              From the natural slope to seaward of these plains,
each other by narrow passages, extend far to the              they are very easily irrigated, and in consequence

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                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
singularly fertile. Without this process the land           Campana, or Bell Mountain, which is 6400 feet high.
would produce scarcely anything, for during the             The paths were very bad, but both the geology and
whole summer the sky is cloudless. The mountains            scenery amply repaid the trouble. We reached by
and hills are dotted over with bushes and low trees,        the evening, a spring called the Agua del Guanaco,
and excepting these the vegetation is very scanty.          which is situated at a great height. This must be an
Each landowner in the valley possesses a certain            old name, for it is very many years since a guanaco
portion of hill-country, where his half-wild cattle, in     drank its waters. During the ascent I noticed that
considerable numbers, manage to find sufficient             nothing but bushes grew on the northern slope,
pasture. Once every year there is a grand “rodeo,”          whilst on the southern slope there was a bamboo
when all the cattle are driven down, counted, and           about fifteen feet high. In a few places there were
marked, and a certain number separated to be fat-           palms, and I was surprised to see one at an eleva-
tened in the irrigated fields. Wheat is extensively         tion of at least 4500 feet. These palms are, for their
cultivated, and a good deal of Indian corn: a kind of       family, ugly trees. Their stem is very large, and of a
bean is, however, the staple article of food for the        curious form, being thicker in the middle than at the
common labourers. The orchards produce an over-             base or top. They are excessively numerous in some
flowing abundance of peaches figs, and grapes. With         parts of Chile, and valuable on account of a sort of
all these advantages, the inhabitants of the country        treacle made from the sap. On one estate near Petorca
ought to be much more prosperous than they are.             they tried to count them, but failed, after having num-
  16th. — The mayor-domo of the Hacienda was                bered several hundred thousand. Every year in the
good enough to give me a guide and fresh horses;            early spring, in August, very many are cut down,
and in the morning we set out to ascend the                 and when the trunk is lying on the ground, the crown

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                                                  Charles Darwin
of leaves is lopped off. The sap then immediately            than twenty-six geographical miles distant, could be
begins to flow from the upper end, and continues so          distinguished clearly as little black streaks. A ship
doing for some months: it is, however, necessary that        doubling the point under sail, appeared as a bright
a thin slice should be shaved off from that end every        white speck. Anson expresses much surprise, in his
morning, so as to expose a fresh surface. A good tree        voyage, at the distance at which his vessels were dis-
will give ninety gallons, and all this must have been        covered from the coast; but he did not sufficiently
contained in the vessels of the apparently dry trunk.        allow for the height of the land, and the great trans-
It is said that the sap flows much more quickly on           parency of the air.
those days when the sun is powerful; and likewise,             The setting of the sun was glorious; the valleys be-
that it is absolutely necessary to take care, in cutting     ing black whilst the snowy peaks of the Andes yet
down the tree, that it should fall with its head up-         retained a ruby tint. When it was dark, we made a fire
wards on the side of the hill; for if it falls down the      beneath a little arbour of bamboos, fried our charqui
slope, scarcely any sap will flow; although in that case     (or dried slips of beef), took our mate, and were quite
one would have thought that the action would have            comfortable. There is an inexpressible charm in thus
been aided, instead of checked, by the force of grav-        living in the open air. The evening was calm and still;
ity. The sap is concentrated by boiling, and is then         — the shrill noise of the mountain bizcacha, and the
called treacle, which it very much resembles in taste.       faint cry of a goatsucker, were occasionally to be heard.
  We unsaddled our horses near the spring, and pre-          Besides these, few birds, or even insects, frequent
pared to pass the night. The evening was fine, and           these dry, parched mountains.
the atmosphere so clear, that the masts of the vessels         August 17th. — In the morning we climbed up the
at anchor in the bay of Valparaiso, although no less         rough mass of greenstone which crowns the sum-

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                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
mit. This rock, as frequently happens, was much shat-      heightened by the many reflections which arose from
tered and broken into huge angular fragments. I ob-        the mere view of the Campana range with its lesser
served, however, one remarkable circumstance,              parallel ones, and of the broad valley of Quillota
namely, that many of the surfaces presented every          directly intersecting them. Who can avoid wonder-
degree of freshness some appearing as if broken the        ing at the force which has upheaved these moun-
day before, whilst on others lichens had either just       tains, and even more so at the countless ages which
become, or had long grown, attached. I so fully be-        it must have required to have broken through, re-
lieved that this was owing to the frequent earth-          moved, and levelled whole masses of them? It is well
quakes, that I felt inclined to hurry from below each      in this case to call to mind the vast shingle and sedi-
loose pile. As one might very easily be deceived in        mentary beds of Patagonia, which, if heaped on the
a fact of this kind, I doubted its accuracy, until as-     Cordillera, would increase its height by so many
cending Mount Wellington, in Van Diemen’s Land,            thousand feet. When in that country, I wondered how
where earthquakes do not occur; and there I saw the        any mountain-chain could have supplied such
summit of the mountain similarly composed and              masses, and not have been utterly obliterated. We
similarly shattered, but all the blocks appeared as if     must not now reverse the wonder, and doubt
they had been hurled into their present position           whether all-powerful time can grind down moun-
thousands of years ago.                                    tains — even the gigantic Cordillera — into-gravel
  We spent the day on the summit, and I never en-          and mud.
joyed one more thoroughly. Chile, bounded by the             The appearance of the Andes was different from
Andes and the Pacific, was seen as in a map. The           that which I had expected. The lower line of the snow
pleasure from the scenery, in itself beautiful, was        was of course horizontal, and to this line the even

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                                                  Charles Darwin
summits of the range seemed quite parallel. Only at          It is said that some few of the greater landowners
long intervals, a group of points or a single cone           possess from five to ten thousand pounds sterling
showed where a volcano had existed, or does now              per annum: an inequality of riches which I believe is
exist. Hence the range resembled a great solid wall,         not met with in any of the cattle-breeding countries
surmounted here and there by a tower, and making             eastward of the Andes. A traveller does not here meet
a most perfect barrier to the country.                       that unbounded hospitality which refuses all pay-
  Almost every part of the hill had been drilled by          ment, but yet is so kindly offered that no scruples
attempts to open gold-mines: the rage for mining has         can be raised in accepting it. Almost every house in
left scarcely a spot in Chile unexamined. I spent the        Chile will receive you for the night, but a trifle is
evening as before, talking round the fire with my            expected to be given in the morning; even a rich man
two companions. The Guasos of Chile, who corre-              will accept two or three shillings. The Gaucho, al-
spond to the Gauchos of the Pampas, are, however,            though he may be a cutthroat, is a gentleman; the
a very different set of beings. Chile is the more civi-      Guaso is in few respects better, but at the same time
lized of the two countries, and the inhabitants, in con-     a vulgar, ordinary fellow. The two men, although
sequence, have lost much individual character. Gra-          employed much in the same manner, are different
dations in rank are much more strongly marked: the           in their habits and attire; and the peculiarities of each
Guaso does not by any means consider every man               are universal in their respective countries. The Gau-
his equal; and I was quite surprised to find that my         cho seems part of his horse, and scorns to exert him-
companions did not like to eat at the same time with         self except when on his back: the Guaso may be hired
myself. This feeling of inequality is a necessary con-       to work as a labourer in the fields. The former lives
sequence of the existence of an aristocracy of wealth.       entirely on animal food; the latter almost wholly on

                                                           285
                                           The Voyage of the Beagle
vegetable. We do not here see the white boots, the        mass of peach-blossoms. I saw, also, in one or two
broad drawers and scarlet chilipa; the picturesque        places the date-palm; it is a most stately tree; and I
costume of the Pampas. Here, common trousers are          should think a group of them in their native Asiatic
protected by black and green worsted leggings. The        or African deserts must be superb. We passed like-
poncho, however, is common to both. The chief pride       wise San Felipe, a pretty straggling town like
of the Guaso lies in his spurs, which are absurdly        Quillota. The valley in this part expands into one of
large. I measured one which was six inches in the         those great bays or plains, reaching to the foot of the
_diameter_ of the rowel, and the rowel itself con-        Cordillera, which have been mentioned as forming
tained upwards of thirty points. The stirrups are on      so curious a part of the scenery of Chile. In the
the same scale, each consisting of a square, carved       evening we reached the mines of Jajuel, situated in a
block of wood, hollowed out, yet weighing three or        ravine at the flank of the great chain. I stayed here
four pounds. The Guaso is perhaps more expert with        five days. My host the superintendent of the mine,
the lazo than the Gaucho; but, from the nature of the     was a shrewd but rather ignorant Cornish miner. He
country, he does not know the use of the bolas.           had married a Spanish woman, and did not mean to
  August 18th. — We descended the mountain, and           return home; but his admiration for the mines of
passed some beautiful little spots, with rivulets and     Cornwall remained unbounded. Amongst many
fine trees. Having slept at the same hacienda as be-      other questions, he asked me, “Now that George Rex
fore, we rode during the two succeeding days up           is dead, how many more of the family of Rexes are
the valley, and passed through Quillota, which is         yet alive?” This Rex certainly must be a relation of
more like a collection of nursery-gardens than a          the great author Finis, who wrote all books!
town. The orchards were beautiful, presenting one           These mines are of copper, and the ore is all

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                                                 Charles Darwin
shipped to Swansea, to be smelted. Hence the mines          carrying to the coast, for transportation to England,
have an aspect singularly quiet, as compared to those       a cargo of such cinders. But the first case is much the
in England: here no smoke, furnaces, or great steam-        most curious. The Chilian miners were so convinced
engines, disturb the solitude of the surrounding            that copper pyrites contained not a particle of cop-
mountains.                                                  per, that they laughed at the Englishmen for their
  The Chilian government, or rather the old Spanish         ignorance, who laughed in turn, and bought their
law, encourages by every method the searching for           richest veins for a few dollars. It is very odd that, in
mines. The discoverer may work a mine on any                a country where mining had been extensively car-
ground, by paying five shillings; and before paying         ried on for many years, so simple a process as gen-
this he may try, even in the garden of another man,         tly roasting the ore to expel the sulphur previous to
for twenty days.                                            smelting it, had never been discovered. A few im-
  It is now well known that the Chilian method of           provements have likewise been introduced in some
mining is the cheapest. My host says that the two           of the simple machinery; but even to the present day,
principal improvements introduced by foreigners             water is removed from some mines by men carrying
have been, first, reducing by previous roasting the         it up the shaft in leathern bags!
copper pyrites — which, being the common ore in                The labouring men work very hard. They have little
Cornwall, the English miners were astounded on              time allowed for their meals, and during summer
their arrival to find thrown away as useless: secondly,     and winter they begin when it is light, and leave off
stamping and washing the scoriae from the old fur-          at dark. They are paid one pound sterling a month,
naces — by which process particles of metal are re-         and their food is given them: this for breakfast con-
covered in abundance. I have actually seen mules            sists of sixteen figs and two small loaves of bread;

                                                          287
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
for dinner, boiled beans; for supper, broken roasted       fifteen feet, and the girth (with spines) of the branches
wheat grain. They scarcely ever taste meat; as, with       between three and four feet.
the twelve pounds per annum, they have to clothe              A heavy fall of snow on the mountains prevented
themselves, and support their families. The miners         me during the last two days, from making some in-
who work in the mine itself have twenty-five shil-         teresting excursions. I attempted to reach a lake
lings per month, and are allowed a little charqui. But     which the inhabitants, from some unaccountable rea-
these men come down from their bleak habitations           son, believe to be an arm of the sea. During a very
only once in every fortnight or three weeks.               dry season, it was proposed to attempt cutting a
  During my stay here I thoroughly enjoyed scram-          channel from it for the sake of the water, but the pa-
bling about these huge mountains. The geology, as          dre, after a consultation, declared it was too danger-
might have been expected, was very interesting. The        ous, as all Chile would be inundated, if, as gener-
shattered and baked rocks, traversed by innumer-           ally supposed, the lake was connected with the Pa-
able dykes of greenstone, showed what commotions           cific. We ascended to a great height, but becoming
had formerly taken place. The scenery was much the         involved in the snow-drifts failed in reaching this
same as that near the Bell of Quillota — dry barren        wonderful lake, and had some difficulty in return-
mountains, dotted at intervals by bushes with a            ing. I thought we should have lost our horses; for
scanty foliage. The cactuses, or rather opuntias were      there was no means of guessing how deep the drifts
here very numerous. I measured one of a spherical          were, and the animals, when led, could only move
figure, which, including the spines, was six feet and      by jumping. The black sky showed that a fresh snow-
four inches in circumference. The height of the com-       storm was gathering, and we therefore were not a
mon cylindrical, branching kind, is from twelve to         little glad when we escaped. By the time we reached

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                                                 Charles Darwin
the base the storm commenced, and it was lucky for          each other, grow in large numbers. These trees are
us that this did not happen three hours earlier in the      never found near the sea-coast; and this gives an-
day.                                                        other characteristic feature to the scenery of these
  August 26th. — We left Jajuel and again crossed           basins. We crossed a low ridge which separates
the basin of San Felipe. The day was truly Chilian:         Guitron from the great plain on which Santiago
glaringly bright, and the atmosphere quite clear. The       stands. The view was here pre-eminently striking:
thick and uniform covering of newly fallen snow ren-        the dead level surface, covered in parts by woods of
dered the view of the volcano of Aconcagua and the          acacia, and with the city in the distance, abutting
main chain quite glorious. We were now on the road          horizontally against the base of the Andes, whose
to Santiago, the capital of Chile. We crossed the Cerro     snowy peaks were bright with the evening sun. At
del Talguen, and slept at a little rancho. The host,        the first glance of this view, it was quite evident that
talking about the state of Chile as compared to other       the plain represented the extent of a former inland
countries, was very humble: “Some see with two              sea. As soon as we gained the level road we pushed
eyes, and some with one, but for my part I do not           our horses into a gallop, and reached the city before
think that Chile sees with any.”                            it was dark.
  August 27th. — After crossing many low hills we              I stayed a week in Santiago, and enjoyed myself
descended into the small land-locked plain of               very much. In the morning I rode to various places
Guitron. In the basins, such as this one, which are         on the plain, and in the evening dined with several
elevated from one thousand to two thousand feet             of the English merchants, whose hospitality at this
above the sea, two species of acacia, which are             place is well known. A never-failing source of plea-
stunted in their forms, and stand wide apart from           sure was to ascend the little hillock of rock (St. Lucia)

                                                          289
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
which projects in the middle of the city. The scenery        curiosity. They asked me, “Why do you not become
certainly is most striking, and, as I have said, very        a Christian — for our religion is certain?” I assured
peculiar. I am informed that this same character is          them I was a sort of Christian; but they would not
common to the cities on the great Mexican platform.          hear of it — appealing to my own words, “Do not
Of the town I have nothing to say in detail: it is not       your padres, your very bishops, marry?” The absur-
so fine or so large as Buenos Ayres, but is built after      dity of a bishop having a wife particularly struck
the same model. I arrived here by a circuit to the           them: they scarcely knew whether to be most amused
north; so I resolved to return to Valparaiso by a rather     or horror-struck at such an enormity.
longer excursion to the south of the direct road.              6th. — We proceeded due south, and slept at
  September 5th. — By the middle of the day we ar-           Rancagua. The road passed over the level but nar-
rived at one of the suspension bridges, made of hide,        row plain, bounded on one side by lofty hills, and
which cross the Maypu, a large turbulent river a few         on the other by the Cordillera. The next day we
leagues southward of Santiago. These bridges are             turned up the valley of the Rio Cachapual, in which
very poor affairs. The road, following the curvature         the hot-baths of Cauquenes, long celebrated for their
of the suspending ropes, is made of bundles of sticks        medicinal properties, are situated. The suspension
placed close together. It was full of holes, and oscil-      bridges, in the less frequented parts, are generally
lated rather fearfully, even with the weight of a man        taken down during the winter when the rivers are
leading his horse. In the evening we reached a com-          low. Such was the case in this valley, and we were
fortable farm-house, where there were several very           therefore obliged to cross the stream on horseback.
pretty senoritas. They were much horrified at my             This is rather disagreeable, for the foaming water,
having entered one of their churches out of mere             though not deep, rushes so quickly over the bed of

                                                           290
                                                  Charles Darwin
large rounded stones, that one’s head becomes quite          with the lowest temperature have scarcely any min-
confused, and it is difficult even to perceive whether       eral taste. After the great earthquake of 1822 the
the horse is moving onward or standing still. In sum-        springs ceased, and the water did not return for
mer, when the snow melts, the torrents are quite im-         nearly a year. They were also much affected by the
passable; their strength and fury are then extremely         earthquake of 1835; the temperature being suddenly
great, as might be plainly seen by the marks which           changed from 118 to 92 degs.* It seems probable that
they had left. We reached the baths in the evening,          mineral waters rising deep from the bowels of the
and stayed there five days, being confined the two           earth, would always be more deranged by subterra-
last by heavy rain. The buildings consist of a square        nean disturbances than those nearer the surface. The
of miserable little hovels, each with a single table         man who had charge of the baths assured me that in
and bench. They are situated in a narrow deep val-           summer the water is hotter and more plentiful than
ley just without the central Cordillera. It is a quiet,      in winter. The former circumstance I should have
solitary spot, with a good deal of wild beauty.              expected, from the less mixture, during the dry sea-
  The mineral springs of Cauquenes burst forth on a          son, of cold water; but the latter statement appears
line of dislocation, crossing a mass of stratified rock,     very strange and contradictory. The periodical in-
the whole of which betrays the action of heat. A con-        crease during the summer, when rain never falls, can,
siderable quantity of gas is continually escaping            I think, only be accounted for by the melting of the
from the same orifices with the water. Though the            snow: yet the mountains which are covered by snow
springs are only a few yards apart, they have very           during that season, are three or four leagues distant
different temperature; and this appears to be the re-        from the springs. I have no reason to doubt the accu-
sult of an unequal mixture of cold water: for those
                                                             *Caldeleugh, in Philosoph. Transact. for 1836.

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                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
racy of my informer, who, having lived on the spot           caste Spaniard, who collected a great body of Indi-
for several years, ought to be well acquainted with          ans together and established himself by a stream in
the circumstance, — which, if true, certainly is very        the Pampas, which place none of the forces sent af-
curious: for we must suppose that the snow-water,            ter him could ever discover. From this point he used
being conducted through porous strata to the regions         to sally forth, and crossing the Cordillera by passes
of heat, is again thrown up to the surface by the line       hitherto unattempted, he ravaged the farm-houses
of dislocated and injected rocks at Cauquenes; and           and drove the cattle to his secret rendezvous.
the regularity of the phenomenon would seem to               Pincheira was a capital horseman, and he made all
indicate that in this district heated rock occurred at a     around him equally good, for he invariably shot any
depth not very great.                                        one who hesitated to follow him. It was against this
  One day I rode up the valley to the farthest inhab-        man, and other wandering Indian tribes, that Rosas
ited spot. Shortly above that point, the Cachapual           waged the war of extermination.
divides into two deep tremendous ravines, which                September 13th. — We left the baths of Cauquenes,
penetrate directly into the great range. I scrambled         and, rejoining the main road, slept at the Rio Clara.
up a peaked mountain, probably more than six thou-           From this place we rode to the town of San Fernando.
sand feet high. Here, as indeed everywhere else,             Before arriving there, the last land-locked basin had
scenes of the highest interest presented themselves.         expanded into a great plain, which extended so far
It was by one of these ravines, that Pincheira entered       to the south, that the snowy summits of the more
Chile and ravaged the neighbouring country. This             distant Andes were seen as if above the horizon of
is the same man whose attack on an estancia at the           the sea. San Fernando is forty leagues from Santiago;
Rio Negro I have described. He was a renegade half-          and it was my farthest point southward; for we here

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                                                    Charles Darwin
turned at right angles towards the coast. We slept at        pale appearance of many of the men, and inquired
the gold-mines of Yaquil, which are worked by Mr.            from Mr. Nixon respecting their condition. The mine
Nixon, an American gentleman, to whose kindness I            is 450 feet deep, and each man brings up about 200
was much indebted during the four days I stayed at           pounds weight of stone. With this load they have to
his house. The next morning we rode to the mines,            climb up the alternate notches cut in the trunks of
which are situated at the distance of some leagues,          trees, placed in a zigzag line up the shaft. Even beard-
near the summit of a lofty hill. On the way we had a         less young men, eighteen and twenty years old, with
glimpse of the lake Tagua-tagua, celebrated for its          little muscular development of their bodies (they are
floating islands, which have been described by M.            quite naked excepting drawers) ascend with this
Gay.* They are composed of the stalks of various             great load from nearly the same depth. A strong man,
dead plants intertwined together, and on the surface         who is not accustomed to this labour, perspires most
of which other living ones take root. Their form is          profusely, with merely carrying up his own body.
generally circular, and their thickness from four to         With this very severe labour, they live entirely on
six feet, of which the greater part is immersed in the       boiled beans and bread. They would prefer having
water. As the wind blows, they pass from one side            bread alone; but their masters, finding that they can-
of the lake to the other, and often carry cattle and         not work so hard upon this, treat them like horses,
horses as passengers.                                        and make them eat the beans. Their pay is here rather
  When we arrived at the mine, I was struck by the           more than at the mines of Jajuel, being from 24 to 28
                                                             shillings per month. They leave the mine only once
*Annales des Sciences Naturelles, March, 1833. M. Gay,
                                                             in three weeks; when they stay with their families
a zealous and able naturalist, was then occupied in study-
ing every branch of natural history throughout the king-     for two days. One of the rules of this mine sounds
dom of Chile.
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                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
very harsh, but answers pretty well for the master.        or two, and then rewashed, it yields gold; and this
The only method of stealing gold is to secrete pieces      process may be repeated even six or seven times;
of the ore, and take them out as occasion may offer.       but the gold each time becomes less in quantity, and
Whenever the major-domo finds a lump thus hid-             the intervals required (as the inhabitants say, to gen-
den, its full value is stopped out of the wages of all     erate the metal) are longer. There can be no doubt
the men; who thus, without they all combine, are           that the chemical action, already mentioned, each
obliged to keep watch over each other.                     time liberates fresh gold from some combination. The
  When the ore is brought to the mill, it is ground        discovery of a method to effect this before the first
into an impalpable powder; the process of washing          grinding would without doubt raise the value of
removes all the lighter particles, and amalgamation        gold-ores many fold.
finally secures the gold-dust. The washing, when             It is curious to find how the minute particles of
described, sounds a very simple process; but it is         gold, being scattered about and not corroding, at last
beautiful to see how the exact adaptation of the cur-      accumulate in some quantity. A short time since a
rent of water to the specific gravity of the gold, so      few miners, being out of work, obtained permission
easily separates the powdered matrix from the metal.       to scrape the ground round the house and mills; they
The mud which passes from the mills is collected           washed the earth thus got together, and so procured
into pools, where it subsides, and every now and           thirty dollars’ worth of gold. This is an exact coun-
then is cleared out, and thrown into a common heap.        terpart of what takes place in nature. Mountains suf-
A great deal of chemical action then commences, salts      fer degradation and wear away, and with them the
of various kinds effloresce on the surface, and the        metallic veins which they contain. The hardest rock
mass becomes hard. After having been left for a year       is worn into impalpable mud, the ordinary metals

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                                                Charles Darwin
oxidate, and both are removed; but gold, platina, and      erty is very common among the labouring classes in
a few others are nearly indestructible, and from their     this country.
weight, sinking to the bottom, are left behind. After        There are some old Indian ruins in this
whole mountains have passed through this grind-            neighbourhood, and I was shown one of the perfo-
ing mill, and have been washed by the hand of na-          rated stones, which Molina mentions as being found
ture, the residue becomes metalliferous, and man           in many places in considerable numbers. They are
finds it worth his while to complete the task of sepa-     of a circular flattened form, from five to six inches in
ration.                                                    diameter, with a hole passing quite through the cen-
  Bad as the above treatment of the miners appears,        tre. It has generally been supposed that they were
it is gladly accepted of by them; for the condition of     used as heads to clubs, although their form does not
the labouring agriculturists is much worse. Their          appear at all well adapted for that purpose. Burchell*
wages are lower, and they live almost exclusively          states that some of the tribes in Southern Africa dig
on beans. This poverty must be chiefly owing to the        up roots by the aid of a stick pointed at one end, the
feudal-like system on which the land is tilled: the        force and weight of which are increased by a round
landowner gives a small plot of ground to the              stone with a hole in it, into which the other end is
labourer for building on and cultivating, and in re-       firmly wedged. It appears probable that the Indians
turn has his services (or those of a proxy) for every      of Chile formerly used some such rude agricultural
day of his life, without any wages. Until a father has     instrument.
a grown-up son, who can by his labour pay the rent,          One day, a German collector in natural history, of
there is no one, except on occasional days, to take        the name of Renous, called, and nearly at the same
care of his own patch of ground. Hence extreme pov-
                                                           *Burchess’s Travels, vol. ii. p. 45.

                                                         295
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
time an old Spanish lawyer. I was amused at being            and agreed it must be some heresy. Accordingly,
told the conversation which took place between               when Renous returned, he was arrested.
them. Renous speaks Spanish so well, that the old              September 19th. — We left Yaquil, and followed
lawyer mistook him for a Chilian. Renous alluding            the flat valley, formed like that of Quillota, in which
to me, asked him what he thought of the King of              the Rio Tinderidica flows. Even at these few miles
England sending out a collector to their country, to         south of Santiago the climate is much damper; in
pick up lizards and beetles, and to break stones? The        consequence there are fine tracts of pasturage, which
old gentleman thought seriously for some time, and           are not irrigated. (20th.) We followed this valley till
then said, “It is not well, — hay un gato encerrado aqui     it expanded into a great plain, which reaches from
(there is a cat shut up here). No man is so rich as to       the sea to the mountains west of Rancagua. We
send out people to pick up such rubbish. I do not            shortly lost all trees and even bushes; so that the in-
like it: if one of us were to go and do such things in       habitants are nearly as badly off for firewood as those
England, do not you think the King of England                in the Pampas. Never having heard of these plains, I
would very soon send us out of his country?” And             was much surprised at meeting with such scenery
this old gentleman, from his profession, belongs to          in Chile. The plains belong to more than one series
the better informed and more intelligent classes!            of different elevations, and they are traversed by
Renous himself, two or three years before, left in a         broad flat-bottomed valleys; both of which circum-
house at San Fernando some caterpillars, under               stances, as in Patagonia, bespeak the action of the
charge of a girl to feed, that they might turn into but-     sea on gently rising land. In the steep cliffs border-
terflies. This was rumoured through the town, and            ing these valleys, there are some large caves, which
at last the padres and governor consulted together,          no doubt were originally formed by the waves: one

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                                                 Charles Darwin
of these is celebrated under the name of Cueva del          wide geographical range; being found from the equa-
Obispo; having formerly been consecrated. During            torial forests, throughout the deserts of Patagonia as
the day I felt very unwell, and from that time till the     far south as the damp and cold latitudes (53 to 54
end of October did not recover.                             degs.) of Tierra del Fuego. I have seen its footsteps
  September 22nd. — We continued to pass over               in the Cordillera of central Chile, at an elevation of
green plains without a tree. The next day we arrived        at least 10,000 feet. In La Plata the puma preys chiefly
at a house near Navedad, on the sea-coast, where a          on deer, ostriches, bizcacha, and other small quad-
rich Haciendero gave us lodgings. I stayed here the         rupeds; it there seldom attacks cattle or horses, and
two ensuing days, and although very unwell, man-            most rarely man. In Chile, however, it destroys many
aged to collect from the tertiary formation some            young horses and cattle, owing probably to the scar-
marine shells.                                              city of other quadrupeds: I heard, likewise, of two
  24th. — Our course was now directed towards               men and a woman who had been thus killed. It is
Valparaiso, which with great difficulty I reached on        asserted that the puma always kills its prey by
the 27th, and was there confined to my bed till the         springing on the shoulders, and then drawing back
end of October. During this time I was an inmate in         the head with one of its paws, until the vertebrae
Mr. Corfield’s house, whose kindness to me I do not         break: I have seen in Patagonia the skeletons of gua-
know how to express.                                        nacos, with their necks thus dislocated.
                                                              The puma, after eating its fill, covers the carcass
 I will here add a few observations on some of the          with many large bushes, and lies down to watch it.
animals and birds of Chile. The Puma, or South              This habit is often the cause of its being discovered;
American Lion, is not uncommon. This animal has a           for the condors wheeling in the air every now and

                                                          297
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
then descend to partake of the feast, and being an-          animals, like long-legged terriers, but are born with
grily driven away, rise all together on the wing. The        a particular instinct for this sport. The puma is de-
Chileno Guaso then knows there is a lion watching            scribed as being very crafty: when pursued, it often
his prey — the word is given — and men and dogs              returns on its former track, and then suddenly mak-
hurry to the chase. Sir F. Head says that a Gaucho in        ing a spring on one side, waits there till the dogs
the pampas, upon merely seeing some condors                  have passed by. It is a very silent animal, uttering
wheeling in the air, cried “A lion!” I could never           no cry even when wounded, and only rarely during
myself meet with any one who pretended to such               the breeding season.
powers of discrimination. It is asserted that, if a puma       Of birds, two species of the genus Pteroptochos
has once been betrayed by thus watching the car-             (megapodius and albicollis of Kittlitz) are perhaps
cass, and has then been hunted, it never resumes this        the most conspicuous. The former, called by the
habit; but that, having gorged itself, it wanders far        Chilenos “el Turco,” is as large as a fieldfare, to which
away. The puma is easily killed. In an open country,         bird it has some alliance; but its legs are much longer,
it is first entangled with the bolas, then lazoed, and       tail shorter, and beak stronger: its colour is a red-
dragged along the ground till rendered insensible.           dish brown. The Turco is not uncommon. It lives on
At Tandeel (south of the plata), I was told that within      the ground, sheltered among the thickets which are
three months one hundred were thus destroyed. In             scattered over the dry and sterile hills. With its tail
Chile they are generally driven up bushes or trees,          erect, and stilt-like legs, it may be seen every now
and are then either shot, or baited to death by dogs.        and then popping from one bush to another with
The dogs employed in this chase belong to a par-             uncommon quickness. It really requires little imagi-
ticular breed, called Leoneros: they are weak, slight        nation to believe that the bird is ashamed of itself,

                                                           298
                                                    Charles Darwin
and is aware of its most ridiculous figure. On first           toms of hedge-rows, and the bushes scattered over
seeing it, one is tempted to exclaim, “A vilely stuffed        the barren hills, where scarcely another bird can ex-
specimen has escaped from some museum, and has                 ist. In its general manner of feeding, of quickly hop-
come to life again!” It cannot be made to take flight          ping out of the thickets and back again, in its desire
without the greatest trouble, nor does it run, but only        of concealment, unwillingness to take flight, and
hops. The various loud cries which it utters when              nidification, it bears a close resemblance to the Turco;
concealed amongst the bushes, are as strange as its            but its appearance is not quite so ridiculous. The
appearance. It is said to build its nest in a deep hole        Tapacolo is very crafty: when frightened by any per-
beneath the ground. I dissected several specimens:             son, it will remain motionless at the bottom of a bush,
the gizzard, which was very muscular, contained                and will then, after a little while, try with much ad-
beetles, vegetable fibres, and pebbles. From this char-        dress to crawl away on the opposite side. It is also
acter, from the length of its legs, scratching feet, mem-      an active bird, and continually making a noise: these
branous covering to the nostrils, short and arched             noises are various and strangely odd; some are like
wings, this bird seems in a certain degree to connect          the cooing of doves, others like the bubbling of wa-
the thrushes with the gallinaceous order.                      ter, and many defy all similes. The country people
  The second species (or P. albicollis) is allied to the       say it changes its cry five times in the year —accord-
first in its general form. It is called Tapacolo, or           ing to some change of season, I suppose.*
“cover your posterior;” and well does the shame-               *It is a remarkable fact, that Molina, though describing in detail
                                                               all the birds and animals of Chile, never once mentions this ge-
less little bird deserve its name; for it carries its tail     nus, the species of which are so common, and so remarkable in
more than erect, that is, inclined backwards towards           their habits. Was he at a loss how to classify them, and did he
                                                               consequently think that silence was the more prudent course? It
its head. It is very common, and frequents the bot-            is one more instance of the frequency of omissions by authors,
                                                               on those very subjects where it might have been least expected.
                                                             299
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
  Two species of humming-birds are common;                 with a very slow and powerful movement, totally
Trochilus forficatus is found over a space of 2500         different from that vibratory one common to most of
miles on the west coast, from the hot dry country of       the species, which produces the humming noise. I
Lima, to the forests of Tierra del Fuego — where it        never saw any other bird where the force of its wings
may be seen flitting about in snow-storms. In the          appeared (as in a butterfly) so powerful in propor-
wooded island of Chiloe, which has an extremely            tion to the weight of its body. When hovering by a
humid climate, this little bird, skipping from side to     flower, its tail is constantly expanded and shut like
side amidst the dripping foliage, is perhaps more          a fan, the body being kept in a nearly vertical posi-
abundant than almost any other kind. I opened the          tion. This action appears to steady and support the
stomachs of several specimens, shot in different parts     bird, between the slow movements of its wings. Al-
of the continent, and in all, remains of insects were      though flying from flower to flower in search of food,
as numerous as in the stomach of a creeper. When           its stomach generally contained abundant remains
this species migrates in the summer southward, it is       of insects, which I suspect are much more the object
replaced by the arrival of another species coming          of its search than honey. The note of this species, like
from the north. This second kind (Trochilus gigas) is      that of nearly the whole family, is extremely shrill.
a very large bird for the delicate family to which it
belongs: when on the wing its appearance is singu-
lar. 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

                                                         300
                                               Charles Darwin
                                                          21st we anchored in the bay of S. Carlos, the capital
     CHAPTER XIII                                         of Chiloe.
                                                            This island is about ninety miles long, with a
       CHILOE AND CHONOS                                  breadth of rather less than thirty. The land is hilly,
                                                          but not mountainous, and is covered by one great
            ISLANDS
                                                          forest, except where a few green patches have been
                                                          cleared round the thatched cottages. From a distance
  Chiloe — General Aspect — Boat Excursion —
                                                          the view somewhat resembles that of Tierra del
Native Indians — Castro — Tame Fox — Ascend San
                                                          Fuego; but the woods, when seen nearer, are incom-
Pedro — Chonos Archipelago — Peninsula of Tres
                                                          parably more beautiful. Many kinds of fine ever-
Montes — Granitic Range — Boat-wrecked Sailors
                                                          green trees, and plants with a tropical character, here
— Low’s Harbour — Wild Potato — Formation of
                                                          take the place of the gloomy beech of the southern
Peat — Myopotamus, Otter and Mice —Cheucau and
                                                          shores. In winter the climate is detestable, and in
Barking-bird — Opetiorhynchus — Singular Char-
                                                          summer it is only a little better. I should think there
acter of Ornithology — Petrels.
                                                          are few parts of the world, within the temperate re-
                                                          gions, where so much rain falls. The winds are very
  NOVEMBER 10th. — The Beagle sailed from
                                                          boisterous, and the sky almost always clouded: to
Valparaiso to the south, for the purpose of survey-
                                                          have a week of fine weather is something wonder-
ing the southern part of Chile, the island of Chiloe,
                                                          ful. It is even difficult to get a single glimpse of the
and the broken land called the Chonos Archipelago,
                                                          Cordillera: during our first visit, once only the vol-
as far south as the Peninsula of Tres Montes. On the
                                                          cano of Osorno stood out in bold relief, and that was

                                                        301
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
before sunrise; it was curious to watch, as the sun        adjoining islets. Even where paths exist, they are
rose, the outline gradually fading away in the glare       scarcely passable from the soft and swampy state of
of the eastern sky.                                        the soil. The inhabitants, like those of Tierra del Fuego,
  The inhabitants, from their complexion and low           move about chiefly on the beach or in boats. Although
stature; appear to have three-fourths of Indian blood      with plenty to eat, the people are very poor: there is
in their veins. They are an humble, quiet, industri-       no demand for labour, and consequently the lower
ous set of men. Although the fertile soil, resulting       orders cannot scrape together money sufficient to
from the decomposition of the volcanic rocks, sup-         purchase even the smallest luxuries. There is also a
ports a rank vegetation, yet the climate is not            great deficiency of a circulating medium. I have seen
favourable to any production which requires much           a man bringing on his back a bag of charcoal, with
sunshine to ripen it. There is very little pasture for     which to buy some trifle, and another carrying a plank
the larger quadrupeds; and in consequence, the             to exchange for a bottle of wine. Hence every trades-
staple articles of food are pigs, potatoes, and fish.      man must also be a merchant, and again sell the goods
The people all dress in strong woollen garments,           which he takes in exchange.
which each family makes for itself, and dyes with            November 24th. — The yawl and whale-boat were
indigo of a dark blue colour. The arts, however, are       sent under the command of Mr. (now Captain)
in the rudest state; — as may be seen in their strange     Sulivan, to survey the eastern or inland coast of
fashion of ploughing, their method of spinning,            Chiloe; and with orders to meet the Beagle at the
grinding corn, and in the construction of their boats.     southern extremity of the island; to which point she
The forests are so impenetrable, that the land is no-      would proceed by the outside, so as thus to circum-
where cultivated except near the coast and on the          navigate the whole. I accompanied this expedition,

                                                         302
                                                  Charles Darwin
but instead of going in the boats the first day, I hired     We had not long bivouacked, before the barefooted
horses to take me to Chacao, at the northern extrem-         son of the governor came down to reconnoitre us.
ity of the island. The road followed the coast; every        Seeing the English flag hoisted at the yawl’s mast-
now and then crossing promontories covered by fine           head, he asked with the utmost indifference, whether
forests. In these shaded paths it is absolutely neces-       it was always to fly at Chacao. In several places the
sary that the whole road should be made of logs of           inhabitants were much astonished at the appearance
wood, which are squared and placed by the side of            of men-of-war’s boats, and hoped and believed it was
each other. From the rays of the sun never penetrat-         the forerunner of a Spanish fleet, coming to recover
ing the evergreen foliage, the ground is so damp and         the island from the patriot government of Chile. All
soft, that except by this means neither man nor horse        the men in power, however, had been informed of
would be able to pass along. I arrived at the village        our intended visit, and were exceedingly civil. While
of Chacao shortly after the tents belonging to the           we were eating our supper, the governor paid us a
boats were pitched for the night.                            visit. He had been a lieutenant-colonel in the Spanish
  The land in this neighbourhood has been exten-             service, but now was miserably poor. He gave us two
sively cleared, and there were many quiet and most           sheep, and accepted in return two cotton handker-
picturesque nooks in the forest. Chacao was formerly         chiefs, some brass trinkets, and a little tobacco.
the principal port in the island; but many vessels             25th. — Torrents of rain: we managed, however, to
having been lost, owing to the dangerous currents            run down the coast as far as Huapi-lenou. The whole
and rocks in the straits, the Spanish government             of this eastern side of Chiloe has one aspect; it is a
burnt the church, and thus arbitrarily compelled the         plain, broken by valleys and divided into little is-
greater number of inhabitants to migrate to S. Carlos.       lands, and the whole thickly covered with one im-

                                                           303
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
pervious blackish-green forest. On the margins there         owing to an optical deception, always appeared
are some cleared spaces, surrounding the high-               more or less curved; for the lines drawn from each
roofed cottages.                                             peak to the beholder’s eye, necessarily converged
  26th — The day rose splendidly clear. The volcano          like the radii of a semicircle, and as it was not pos-
of Orsono was spouting out volumes of smoke. This            sible (owing to the clearness of the atmosphere and
most beautiful mountain, formed like a perfect cone,         the absence of all intermediate objects) to judge how
and white with snow, stands out in front of the Cor-         far distant the farthest peaks were off, they appeared
dillera. Another great volcano, with a saddle-shaped         to stand in a flattish semicircle.
summit, also emitted from its immense crater little            Landing at midday, we saw a family of pure In-
jets of steam. Subsequently we saw the lofty-peaked          dian extraction. The father was singularly like York
Corcovado — well deserving the name of “el famoso            Minster; and some of the younger boys, with their
Corcovado.” Thus we beheld, from one point of                ruddy complexions, might have been mistaken for
view, three great active volcanoes, each about seven         Pampas Indians. Everything I have seen, convinces
thousand feet high. In addition to this, far to the          me of the close connexion of the different American
south, there were other lofty cones covered with             tribes, who nevertheless speak distinct languages.
snow, which, although not known to be active, must           This party could muster but little Spanish, and talked
be in their origin volcanic. The line of the Andes is        to each other in their own tongue. It is a pleasant
not, in this neighbourhood, nearly so elevated as in         thing to see the aborigines advanced to the same
Chile; neither does it appear to form so perfect a bar-      degree of civilization, however low that may be,
rier between the regions of the earth. This great range,     which their white conquerors have attained. More
although running in a straight north and south line,         to the south we saw many pure Indians: indeed, all

                                                           304
                                                 Charles Darwin
the inhabitants of some of the islets retain their In-        We reached at night a beautiful little cove, north of
dian surnames. In the census of 1832, there were in         the island of Caucahue. The people here complained
Chiloe and its dependencies forty-two thousand              of want of land. This is partly owing to their own
souls; the greater number of these appear to be of          negligence in not clearing the woods, and partly to
mixed blood. Eleven thousand retain their Indian            restrictions by the government, which makes it nec-
surnames, but it is probable that not nearly all of         essary, before buying ever so small a piece, to pay
these are of a pure breed. Their manner of life is the      two shillings to the surveyor for measuring each
same with that of the other poor inhabitants, and they      quadra (150 yards square), together with whatever
are all Christians; but it is said that they yet retain     price he fixes for the value of the land. After his valu-
some strange superstitious ceremonies, and that they        ation the land must be put up three times to auction,
pretend to hold communication with the devil in cer-        and if no one bids more, the purchaser can have it at
tain caves. Formerly, every one convicted of this of-       that rate. All these exactions must be a serious check
fence was sent to the Inquisition at Lima. Many of          to clearing the ground, where the inhabitants are so
the inhabitants who are not included in the eleven          extremely poor. In most countries, forests are re-
thousand with Indian surnames, cannot be distin-            moved without much difficulty by the aid of fire;
guished by their appearance from Indians. Gomez,            but in Chiloe, from the damp nature of the climate,
the governor of Lemuy, is descended from noble-             and the sort of trees, it is necessary first to cut them
men of Spain on both sides; but by constant inter-          down. This is a heavy drawback to the prosperity of
marriages with the natives the present man is an In-        Chiloe. In the time of the Spaniards the Indians could
dian. On the other hand the governor of Quinchao            not hold land; and a family, after having cleared a
boasts much of his purely kept Spanish blood.               piece of ground, might be driven away, and the prop-

                                                          305
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
erty seized by the government. The Chilian authori-         in a long industrious life, as much as 1000 pounds
ties are now performing an act of justice by making         sterling; but should this happen, it would all be
retribution to these poor Indians, giving to each man,      stowed away in some secret corner, for it is the cus-
according to his grade of life, a certain portion of        tom of almost every family to have a jar or treasure-
land. The value of uncleared ground is very little.         chest buried in the ground.
The government gave Mr. Douglas (the present sur-             November 30th. — Early on Sunday morning we
veyor, who informed me of these circumstances)              reached Castro, the ancient capital of Chiloe, but now
eight and a half square miles of forest near S. Carlos,     a most forlorn and deserted place. The usual qua-
in lieu of a debt; and this he sold for 350 dollars, or     drangular arrangement of Spanish towns could be
about 70 pounds sterling.                                   traced, but the streets and plaza were coated with
  The two succeeding days were fine, and at night           fine green turf, on which sheep were browsing. The
we reached the island of Quinchao. This                     church, which stands in the middle, is entirely built
neighbourhood is the most cultivated part of the            of plank, and has a picturesque and venerable ap-
Archipelago; for a broad strip of land on the coast of      pearance. The poverty of the place may be conceived
the main island, as well as on many of the smaller          from the fact, that although containing some hun-
adjoining ones, is almost completely cleared. Some          dreds of inhabitants, one of our party was unable
of the farmhouses seemed very comfortable. I was            anywhere to purchase either a pound of sugar or an
curious to ascertain how rich any of these people           ordinary knife. No individual possessed either a
might be, but Mr. Douglas says that no one can be           watch or a clock; and an old man, who was supposed
considered as possessing a regular income. One of           to have a good idea of time, was employed to strike
the richest land-owners might possibly accumulate,          the church bell by guess. The arrival of our boats

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                                                 Charles Darwin
was a rare event in this quiet retired corner of the        Lemuy we had much difficulty in finding any place
world; and nearly all the inhabitants came down to          to pitch our tents, for it was spring-tide, and the land
the beach to see us pitch our tents. They were very         was wooded down to the water’s edge. In a short
civil, and offered us a house; and one man even sent        time we were surrounded by a large group of the
us a cask of cider as a present. In the afternoon we        nearly pure Indian inhabitants. They were much sur-
paid our respects to the governor — a quiet old man,        prised at our arrival, and said one to the other, “This
who, in his appearance and manner of life, was              is the reason we have seen so many parrots lately;
scarcely superior to an English cottager. At night          the cheucau (an odd red-breasted little bird, which
heavy rain set in, which was hardly sufficient to drive     inhabits the thick forest, and utters very peculiar
away from our tents the large circle of lookers-on.         noises) has not cried ‘beware’ for nothing.” They
An Indian family, who had come to trade in a canoe          were soon anxious for barter. Money was scarcely
from Caylen, bivouacked near us. They had no shel-          worth anything, but their eagerness for tobacco was
ter during the rain. In the morning I asked a young         something quite extraordinary. After tobacco, indigo
Indian, who was wet to the skin, how he had passed          came next in value; then capsicum, old clothes, and
the night. He seemed perfectly content, and an-             gunpowder. The latter article was required for a very
swered, “Muy bien, senor.”                                  innocent purpose: each parish has a public musket,
  December 1st. - We steered for the island of Lemuy.       and the gunpowder was wanted for making a noise
I was anxious to examine a reported coal-mine which         on their saint or feast days
turned out to be lignite of little value, in the sand-        The people here live chiefly on shell-fish and po-
stone (probably of an ancient tertiary epoch) of which      tatoes. At certain seasons they catch also, in
these islands are composed. When we reached                 “corrales,” or hedges under water, many fish which

                                                          307
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
are left on the mud-banks as the tide falls. They oc-       mility, agreed to the perfect propriety of this arrange-
casionally possess fowls, sheep, goats, pigs, horses,       ment, and promised us that no one should stir out
and cattle; the order in which they are here men-           of his house during that night.
tioned, expressing their respective numbers. I never          During the four succeeding days we continued
saw anything more obliging and humble than the              sailing southward. The general features of the coun-
manners of these people. They generally began with          try remained the same, but it was much less thickly
stating that they were poor natives of the place, and       inhabited. On the large island of Tanqui there was
not Spaniards and that they were in sad want of to-         scarcely one cleared spot, the trees on every side
bacco and other comforts. At Caylen, the most south-        extending their branches over the sea-beach. I one
ern island, the sailors bought with a stick of tobacco,     day noticed, growing on the sandstone cliffs, some
of the value of three-halfpence, two fowls, one of          very fine plants of the panke (Gunnera scabra), which
which, the Indian stated, had skin between its toes,        somewhat resembles the rhubarb on a gigantic scale.
and turned out to be a fine duck; and with some cot-        The inhabitants eat the stalks, which are subacid, and
ton handkerchiefs, worth three shillings, three sheep       tan leather with the roots, and prepare a black dye
and a large bunch of onions were procured. The yawl         from them. The leaf is nearly circular, but deeply
at this place was anchored some way from the shore,         indented on its margin. I measured one which was
and we had fears for her safety from robbers during         nearly eight feet in diameter, and therefore no less
the night. Our pilot, Mr. Douglas, accordingly told         than twenty-four in circumference! The stalk is rather
the constable of the district that we always placed         more than a yard high, and each plant sends out four
sentinels with loaded arms and not understanding            or five of these enormous leaves, presenting together
Spanish, if we saw any person in the dark, we should        a very noble appearance.
assuredly shoot him. The constable, with much hu-             December 6th. — We reached Caylen, called “el
                                                          308
                                                 Charles Darwin
fin del Cristiandad.” In the morning we stopped for         the rocks. He was so intently absorbed in watching
a few minutes at a house on the northern end of             the work of the officers, that I was able, by quietly
Laylec, which was the extreme point of South Ameri-         walking up behind, to knock him on the head with
can Christendom, and a miserable hovel it was. The          my geological hammer. This fox, more curious or
latitude is 43 degs. 10', which is two degrees farther      more scientific, but less wise, than the generality of
south than the Rio Negro on the Atlantic coast. These       his brethren, is now mounted in the museum of the
extreme Christians were very poor, and, under the           Zoological Society.
plea of their situation, begged for some tobacco. As          We stayed three days in this harbour, on one of
a proof of the poverty of these Indians, I may men-         which Captain Fitz Roy, with a party, attempted to
tion that shortly before this, we had met a man, who        ascend to the summit of San Pedro. The woods here
had travelled three days and a half on foot, and had        had rather a different appearance from those on the
as many to return, for the sake of recovering the value     northern part of the island. The rock, also, being mi-
of a small axe and a few fish. How very difficult it        caceous slate, there was no beach, but the steep sides
must be to buy the smallest article, when such              dipped directly beneath the water. The general as-
trouble is taken to recover so small a debt.                pect in consequence was more like that of Tierra del
  In the evening we reached the island of San Pedro,        Fuego than of Chiloe. In vain we tried to gain the
where we found the Beagle at anchor. In doubling            summit: the forest was so impenetrable, that no one
the point, two of the officers landed to take a round       who has not beheld it can imagine so entangled a
of angles with the theodolite. A fox (Canis fulvipes),      mass of dying and dead trunks. I am sure that often,
of a kind said to be peculiar to the island, and very       for more than ten minutes together, our feet never
rare in it, and which is a new species, was sitting on      touched the ground, and we were frequently ten or

                                                          309
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
fifteen feet above it, so that the seamen as a joke         the Chonos Archipelago; and it was fortunate we did
called out the soundings. At other times we crept           so, for on the following day a storm, worthy of Tierra
one after another on our hands and knees, under the         del Fuego, raged with great fury. White massive
rotten trunks. In the lower part of the mountain, noble     clouds were piled up against a dark blue sky, and
trees of the Winter’s Bark, and a laurel like the sas-      across them black ragged sheets of vapour were rap-
safras with fragrant leaves, and others, the names of       idly driven. The successive mountain ranges ap-
which I do not know, were matted together by a trail-       peared like dim shadows, and the setting sun cast
ing bamboo or cane. Here we were more like fishes           on the woodland a yellow gleam, much like that pro-
struggling in a net than any other animal. On the           duced by the flame of spirits of wine. The water was
higher parts, brushwood takes the place of larger           white with the flying spray, and the wind lulled and
trees, with here and there a red cedar or an alerce         roared again through the rigging: it was an ominous,
pine. I was also pleased to see, at an elevation of a       sublime scene. During a few minutes there was a
little less than 1000 feet, our old friend the southern     bright rainbow, and it was curious to observe the
beech. They were, however, poor stunted trees, and          effect of the spray, which being carried along the
I should think that this must be nearly their northern      surface of the water, changed the ordinary semicircle
limit. We ultimately gave up the attempt in despair.        into a circle — a band of prismatic colours being con-
   December 10th. — The yawl and whale-boat, with           tinued, from both feet of the common arch across the
Mr. Sulivan, proceeded on their survey, but I re-           bay, close to the vessel’s side: thus forming a dis-
mained on board the Beagle, which the next day left         torted, but very nearly entire ring.
San Pedro for the southward. On the 13th we ran into          We stayed here three days. The weather continued
an opening in the southern part of Guayatecas, or           bad: but this did not much signify, for the surface of

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                                                  Charles Darwin
the land in all these islands is all but impassable. The     sides were so steep that in some parts it was neces-
coast is so very rugged that to attempt to walk in that      sary to use the trees as ladders. There were also sev-
direction requires continued scrambling up and down          eral extensive brakes of the Fuchsia, covered with
over the sharp rocks of mica-slate; and as for the           its beautiful drooping flowers, but very difficult to
woods, our faces, hands, and shin-bones all bore wit-        crawl through. In these wild countries it gives much
ness to the maltreatment we received, in merely at-          delight to gain the summit of any mountain. There
tempting to penetrate their forbidden recesses.              is an indefinite expectation of seeing something very
  December 18th. — We stood out to sea. On the 20th          strange, which, however often it may be balked,
we bade farewell to the south, and with a fair wind          never failed with me to recur on each successive at-
turned the ship’s head northward. From Cape Tres             tempt. Every one must know the feeling of triumph
Montes we sailed pleasantly along the lofty weather-         and pride which a grand view from a height com-
beaten coast, which is remarkable for the bold out-          municates to the mind. In these little frequented
line of its hills, and the thick covering of forest even     countries there is also joined to it some vanity, that
on the almost precipitous flanks. The next day a             you perhaps are the first man who ever stood on this
harbour was discovered, which on this dangerous              pinnacle or admired this view.
coast might be of great service to a distressed ves-           A strong desire is always felt to ascertain whether
sel. It can easily be recognized by a hill 1600 feet         any human being has previously visited an unfre-
high, which is even more perfectly conical than the          quented spot. A bit of wood with a nail in it, is picked
famous sugar-loaf at Rio de Janeiro. The next day,           up and studied as if it were covered with hieroglyph-
after anchoring, I succeeded in reaching the summit          ics. Possessed with this feeling, I was much inter-
of this hill. It was a laborious undertaking, for the        ested by finding, on a wild part of the coast, a bed

                                                           311
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
made of grass beneath a ledge of rock. Close by it           in a boat, which was shortly afterwards knocked to
there had been a fire, and the man had used an axe.          pieces by the surf. They had now been wandering
The fire, bed, and situation showed the dexterity of         up and down the coast for fifteen months, without
an Indian; but he could scarcely have been an In-            knowing which way to go, or where they were. What
dian, for the race is in this part extinct, owing to the     a singular piece of good fortune it was that this
Catholic desire of making at one blow Christians and         harbour was now discovered! Had it not been for
Slaves. I had at the time some misgivings that the           this one chance, they might have wandered till they
solitary man who had made his bed on this wild spot,         had grown old men, and at last have perished on
must have been some poor shipwrecked sailor, who,            this wild coast. Their sufferings had been very great,
in trying to travel up the coast, had here laid himself      and one of their party had lost his life by falling from
down for his dreary night                                    the cliffs. They were sometimes obliged to separate
  December 28th. — The weather continued very                in search of food, and this explained the bed of the
bad, but it at last permitted us to proceed with the         solitary man. Considering what they had undergone,
survey. The time hung heavy on our hands, as it al-          I think they had kept a very good reckoning of time,
ways did when we were delayed from day to day                for they had lost only four days.
by successive gales of wind. In the evening another             December 30th. — We anchored in a snug little cove
harbour was discovered, where we anchored. Di-               at the foot of some high hills, near the northern ex-
rectly afterwards a man was seen waving a shirt, and         tremity of Tres Montes. After breakfast the next morn-
a boat was sent which brought back two seamen. A             ing, a party ascended one of these mountains, which
party of six had run away from an American whal-             was 2400 feet high. The scenery was remarkable The
ing vessel, and had landed a little to the southward         chief part of the range was composed of grand, solid,

                                                           312
                                               Charles Darwin
abrupt masses of granite, which appeared as if they       man has penetrated. The limit of man’s knowledge
had been coeval with the beginning of the world.          in any subject possesses a high interest, which is
The granite was capped with mica-slate, and this in       perhaps increased by its close neighbourhood to the
the lapse of ages had been worn into strange finger-      realms of imagination.
shaped points. These two formations, thus differing         January 1st 1835. — The new year is ushered in
in their outlines, agree in being almost destitute of     with the ceremonies proper to it in these regions.
vegetation. This barrenness had to our eyes a strange     She lays out no false hopes: a heavy north-western
appearance, from having been so long accustomed           gale, with steady rain, bespeaks the rising year.
to the sight of an almost universal forest of dark-       Thank God, we are not destined here to see the end
green trees. I took much delight in examining the         of it, but hope then to be in the Pacific Ocean, where
structure of these mountains. The complicated and         a blue sky tells one there is a heaven, — a something
lofty ranges bore a noble aspect of durability —          beyond the clouds above our heads.
equally profitless, however, to man and to all other        The north-west winds prevailing for the next four
animals. Granite to the geologist is classic ground:      days, we only managed to cross a great bay, and then
from its widespread limits, and its beautiful and         anchored in another secure harbour. I accompanied
compact texture, few rocks have been more anciently       the Captain in a boat to the head of a deep creek. On
recognised. Granite has given rise, perhaps, to more      the way the number of seals which we saw was quite
discussion concerning its origin than any other for-      astonishing: every bit of flat rock, and parts of the
mation. We generally see it constituting the funda-       beach, were covered with them. There appeared to
mental rock, and, however formed, we know it is           be of a loving disposition, and lay huddled together,
the deepest layer in the crust of this globe to which     fast asleep, like so many pigs; but even pigs would

                                                        313
                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
have been ashamed of their dirt, and of the foul smell         7th. — Having run up the coast, we anchored near
which came from them. Each herd was watched by              the northern end of the Chonos Archipelago, in Low’s
the patient but inauspicious eyes of the turkey-buz-        Harbour, where we remained a week. The islands
zard. This disgusting bird, with its bald scarlet head,     were here, as in Chiloe, composed of a stratified, soft,
formed to wallow in putridity, is very common on            littoral deposit; and the vegetation in consequence
the west coast, and their attendance on the seals           was beautifully luxuriant. The woods came down
shows on what they rely for their food. We found            to the sea-beach, just in the manner of an evergreen
the water (probably only that of the surface) nearly        shrubbery over a gravel walk. We also enjoyed from
fresh: this was caused by the number of torrents            the anchorage a splendid view of four great snowy
which, in the form of cascades, came tumbling over          cones of the Cordillera, including “el famoso
the bold granite mountains into the sea. The fresh          Corcovado;” the range itself had in this latitude so
water attracts the fish, and these bring many terns,        little height, that few parts of it appeared above the
gulls, and two kinds of cormorant. We saw also a            tops of the neighbouring islets. We found here a
pair of the beautiful black-necked swans, and sev-          party of five men from Caylen, “el fin del
eral small sea-otters, the fur of which is held in such     Cristiandad,” who had most adventurously crossed
high estimation. In returning, we were again amused         in their miserable boat-canoe, for the purpose of fish-
by the impetuous manner in which the heap of seals,         ing, the open space of sea which separates Chonos
old and young, tumbled into the water as the boat           from Chiloe. These islands will, in all probability, in
passed. They did not remain long under water, but           a short time become peopled like those adjoining
rising, followed us with outstretched necks, express-       the coast of Chiloe.
ing great wonder and curiosity.

                                                          314
                                                       Charles Darwin
  The wild potato grows on these islands in great               central Chile, where a drop of rain does not fall for
abundance, on the sandy, shelly soil near the sea-              more than six months, and within the damp forests
beach. The tallest plant was four feet in height. The           of these southern islands.
tubers were generally small, but I found one, of an               In the central parts of the Chonos Archipelago (lat.
oval shape, two inches in diameter: they resembled              45 degs.), the forest has very much the same charac-
in every respect, and had the same smell as English             ter with that along the whole west coast, for 600 miles
potatoes; but when boiled they shrunk much, and                 southward to Cape Horn. The arborescent grass of
were watery and insipid, without any bitter taste.              Chiloe is not found here; while the beech of Tierra
They are undoubtedly here indigenous: they grow                 del Fuego grows to a good size, and forms a consid-
as far south, according to Mr. Low, as lat. 50 degs.,           erable proportion of the wood; not, however, in the
and are called Aquinas by the wild Indians of that              same exclusive manner as it does farther southward.
part: the Chilotan Indians have a different name for            Cryptogamic plants here find a most congenial cli-
them. Professor Henslow, who has examined the                   mate. In the Strait of Magellan, as I have before re-
dried specimens which I brought home, says that                 marked, the country appears too cold and wet to al-
they are the same with those described by Mr.                   low of their arriving at perfection; but in these is-
Sabine* from Valparaiso, but that they form a vari-             lands, within the forest, the number of species and
ety which by some botanists has been considered as              great abundance of mosses, lichens, and small ferns,
specifically distinct. It is remarkable that the same           is quite extraordinary.* In Tierra del Fuego trees
plant should be found on the sterile mountains of
                                                                *By sweeping with my insect-net, I procured from these
*Horticultural Transact., vol. v. p. 249. Mr. Caldeleugh sent   situations a considerable number of minute insects, of the
home two tubers, which, being well manured, even the            family of Staphylinidae, and others allied to Pselaphus,
first season produced numerous potatoes and an abun-            and minute Hymenoptera. But the most characteristic fam-
dance of leaves. See Humboldt’s interesting discussion          ily in number, both of individuals and species, throughout
on this plant, which it appears was unknown in Mexico, —        the more open parts of Chiloe and Chonos is that of
in Polit. Essay on New Spain, book iv. chap. ix.                Telephoridae.
                                                            315
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
grow only on the hillsides; every level piece of land      our cranberry and with a sweet berry, — an
being invariably covered by a thick bed of peat; but       Empetrum (E. rubrum), like our heath, — a rush
in Chiloe flat land supports the most luxuriant for-       (Juncus grandiflorus), are nearly the only ones that
ests. Here, within the Chonos Archipelago, the na-         grow on the swampy surface. These plants, though
ture of the climate more closely approaches that of        possessing a very close general resemblance to the
Tierra del Fuego than that of northern Chiloe; for         English species of the same genera, are different. In
every patch of level ground is covered by two spe-         the more level parts of the country, the surface of the
cies of plants (Astelia pumila and Donatia                 peat is broken up into little pools of water, which
magellanica), which by their joint decay compose a         stand at different heights, and appear as if artificially
thick bed of elastic peat                                  excavated. Small streams of water, flowing under-
  In Tierra del Fuego, above the region of woodland,       ground, complete the disorganization of the veg-
the former of these eminently sociable plants is the       etable matter, and consolidate the whole.
chief agent in the production of peat. Fresh leaves          The climate of the southern part of America ap-
are always succeeding one to the other round the           pears particularly favourable to the production of
central tap-root, the lower ones soon decay, and in        peat. In the Falkland Islands almost every kind of
tracing a root downwards in the peat, the leaves, yet      plant, even the coarse grass which covers the whole
holding their place, can be observed passing through       surface of the land, becomes converted into this sub-
every stage of decomposition, till the whole becomes       stance: scarcely any situation checks its growth; some
blended in one confused mass. The Astelia is assisted      of the beds are as much as twelve feet thick, and the
by a few other plants, — here and there a small creep-     lower part becomes so solid when dry, that it will
ing Myrtus (M. nummularia), with a woody stem like         hardly burn. Although every plant lends its aid, yet

                                                         316
                                                  Charles Darwin
in most parts the Astelia is the most efficient. It is       The Myopotamus Coypus (like a beaver, but with a
rather a singular circumstance, as being so very dif-        round tail) is well known from its fine fur, which is
ferent from what occurs in Europe, that I nowhere            an object of trade throughout the tributaries of La
saw moss forming by its decay any portion of the             Plata. It here, however, exclusively frequents salt
peat in South America. With respect to the northern          water; which same circumstance has been mentioned
limit, at which the climate allows of that peculiar kind     as sometimes occurring with the great rodent, the
of slow decomposition which is necessary for its pro-        Capybara. A small sea-otter is very numerous; this
duction, I believe that in Chiloe (lat. 41 to 42 degs.),     animal does not feed exclusively on fish, but, like
although there is much swampy ground, no well-               the seals, draws a large supply from a small red crab,
characterized peat occurs: but in the Chonos Islands,        which swims in shoals near the surface of the water.
three degrees farther southward, we have seen that           Mr. Bynoe saw one in Tierra del Fuego eating a
it is abundant. On the eastern coast in La Plata (lat.       cuttle-fish; and at Low’s Harbour, another was killed
35 degs.) I was told by a Spanish resident who had           in the act of carrying to its hole a large volute shell.
visited Ireland, that he had often sought for this sub-      At one place I caught in a trap a singular little mouse
stance, but had never been able to find any. He              (M. brachiotis); it appeared common on several of
showed me, as the nearest approach to it which he            the islets, but the Chilotans at Low’s Harbour said
had discovered, a black peaty soil, so penetrated            that it was not found in all. What a succession of
with roots as to allow of an extremely slow and im-          chances,* or what changes of level must have been
perfect combustion.
                                                             *It is said that some rapacious birds bring their prey alive
                                                             to their nests. If so, in the course of centuries, every now
 The zoology of these broken islets of the Chonos            and then, one might escape from the young birds. Some
Archipelago is, as might have been expected, very            such agency is necessary, to account for the distribution
poor. Of quadrupeds two aquatic kinds are common.            of the smaller gnawing animals on islands not very near
                                                             each other.
                                                           317
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
brought into play, thus to spread these small ani-         noises; and the natives are in some things absolutely
mals throughout this broken archipelago!                   governed by them. The Chilotans assuredly have
  In all parts of Chiloe and Chonos, two very strange      chosen a most comical little creature for their
birds occur, which are allied to, and replace, the         prophet. An allied species, but rather larger, is called
Turco and Tapacolo of central Chile. One is called         by the natives “Guid-guid” (Pteroptochos Tarnii),
by the inhabitants “Cheucau” (Pteroptochos                 and by the English the barking-bird. This latter name
rubecula): it frequents the most gloomy and retired        is well given; for I defy any one at first to feel certain
spots within the damp forests. Sometimes, although         that a small dog is not yelping somewhere in the
its cry may be heard close at hand, let a person watch     forest. Just as with the cheucau, a person will some-
ever so attentively he will not see the cheucau; at        times hear the bark close by, but in vain many en-
other times, let him stand motionless and the red-         deavour by watching, and with still less chance by
breasted little bird will approach within a few feet       beating the bushes, to see the bird; yet at other times
in the most familiar manner. It then busily hops about     the guid-guid fearlessly comes near. Its manner of
the entangled mass of rotting cones and branches,          feeding and its general habits are very similar to
with its little tail cocked upwards. The cheucau is        those of the cheucau.
held in superstitious fear by the Chilotans, on ac-          On the coast,* a small dusky-coloured bird
count of its strange and varied cries. There are three
                                                           *I may mention, as a proof of how great a difference there
very distinct cries: One is called “chiduco,” and is       is between the seasons of the wooded and the open parts
an omen of good; another, “huitreu,” which is ex-          of this coast, that on September 20th, in lat. 34 degs., these
                                                           birds had young ones in the nest, while among the Chonos
tremely unfavourable; and a third, which I have for-
                                                           Islands, three months later in the summer, they were only
gotten. These words are given in imitation of the          laying, the difference in latitude between these two places
                                                           being about 700 miles.
                                                         318
                                                  Charles Darwin
(Opetiorhynchus Patagonicus) is very common. It is           as the commonest birds in any district. In central
remarkable from its quiet habits; it lives entirely on       Chile two of them, namely, the Oxyurus and
the sea-beach, like a sandpiper. Besides these birds         Scytalopus, occur, although most rarely. When find-
only few others inhabit this broken land. In my rough        ing, as in this case, animals which seem to play so
notes I describe the strange noises, which, although         insignificant a part in the great scheme of nature, one
frequently heard within these gloomy forests, yet            is apt to wonder why they were created.
scarcely disturb the general silence. The yelping of           But it should always be recollected, that in some
the guid-guid, and the sudden whew-whew of the               other country perhaps they are essential members
cheucau, sometimes come from afar off, and some-             of society, or at some former period may have been
times from close at hand; the little black wren of           so. If America south of 37 degs. were sunk beneath
Tierra del Fuego occasionally adds its cry; the              the waters of the ocean, these two birds might con-
creeper (Oxyurus) follows the intruder screaming             tinue to exist in central Chile for a long period, but it
and twittering; the humming-bird may be seen ev-             is very improbable that their numbers would in-
ery now and then darting from side to side, and              crease. We should then see a case which must inevi-
emitting, like an insect, its shrill chirp; lastly, from     tably have happened with very many animals.
the top of some lofty tree the indistinct but plaintive        These southern seas are frequented by several spe-
note of the white-tufted tyrant-flycatcher (Myiobius)        cies of Petrels: the largest kind, Procellaria gigantea,
may be noticed. From the great preponderance in              or nelly (quebrantahuesos, or break-bones, of the
most countries of certain common genera of birds,            Spaniards), is a common bird, both in the inland
such as the finches, one feels at first surprised at         channels and on the open sea. In its habits and man-
meeting with the peculiar forms above enumerated,            ner of flight, there is a very close resemblance with

                                                           319
                                              The Voyage of the Beagle
the albatross; and as with the albatross, a person may        only mention one other kind, the Pelacanoides
watch it for hours together without seeing on what it         Berardi which offers an example of those extraordi-
feeds. The “break-bones” is, however, a rapacious             nary cases, of a bird evidently belonging to one well-
bird, for it was observed by some of the officers at          marked family, yet both in its habits and structure
Port St. Antonio chasing a diver, which tried to es-          allied to a very distinct tribe. This bird never leaves
cape by diving and flying, but was continually struck         the quiet inland sounds. When disturbed it dives to
down, and at last killed by a blow on its head. At            a distance, and on coming to the surface, with the
Port St. Julian these great petrels were seen killing         same movement takes flight. After flying by a rapid
and devouring young gulls. A second species                   movement of its short wings for a space in a straight
(Puffinus cinereus), which is common to Europe,               line, it drops, as if struck dead, and dives again. The
Cape Horn, and the coast of Peru, is of much smaller          form of its beak and nostrils, length of foot, and even
size than the P. gigantea, but, like it, of a dirty black     the colouring of its plumage, show that this bird is a
colour. It generally frequents the inland sounds in           petrel: on the other hand, its short wings and conse-
very large flocks: I do not think I ever saw so many          quent little power of flight, its form of body and
birds of any other sort together, as I once saw of these      shape of tail, the absence of a hind toe to its foot, its
behind the island of Chiloe. Hundreds of thousands            habit of diving, and its choice of situation, make it at
flew in an irregular line for several hours in one di-        first doubtful whether its relationship is not equally
rection. When part of the flock settled on the water          close with the auks. It would undoubtedly be mis-
the surface was blackened, and a noise proceeded              taken for an auk, when seen from a distance, either
from them as of human beings talking in the distance.         on the wing, or when diving and quietly swimming
  There are several other species of petrels, but I will      about the retired channels of Tierra del Fuego.

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                                             Charles Darwin
                                                       night of the 19th the volcano of Osorno was in ac-
     CHAPTER XIV                                       tion. At midnight the sentry observed something like
                                                       a large star, which gradually increased in size till
  CHILOE AND CONCEPCION:                               about three o’clock, when it presented a very mag-
                                                       nificent spectacle. By the aid of a glass, dark objects,
    GREAT EARTHQUAKE
                                                       in constant succession, were seen, in the midst of a
                                                       great glare of red light, to be thrown up and to fall
  San Carlos, Chiloe — Osorno in eruption, contem-
                                                       down. The light was sufficient to cast on the water a
poraneously with Aconcagua and Coseguina — Ride
                                                       long bright reflection. Large masses of molten mat-
to Cucao — Impenetrable Forests — Valdivia Indi-
                                                       ter seem very commonly to be cast out of the craters
ans — Earthquake — Concepcion —Great Earth-
                                                       in this part of the Cordillera. I was assured that when
quake — Rocks fissured — Appearance of the former
                                                       the Corcovado is in eruption, great masses are pro-
Towns — The Sea Black and Boiling — Direction of
                                                       jected upwards and are seen to burst in the air, as-
the Vibrations — Stones twisted round — Great
                                                       suming many fantastical forms, such as trees: their
Wave —Permanent Elevation of the Land — Area of
                                                       size must be immense, for they can be distinguished
Volcanic Phenomena — The connection between the
                                                       from the high land behind S. Carlos, which is no less
Elevatory and Eruptive Forces — Cause of Earth-
                                                       than ninety-three miles from the Corcovado. In the
quakes — Slow Elevation of Mountain-chains
                                                       morning the volcano became tranquil.
                                                         I was surprised at hearing afterwards that
 ON JANUARY the 15th we sailed from Low’s
                                                       Aconcagua in Chile, 480 miles northwards, was in
Harbour, and three days afterwards anchored a sec-
                                                       action on the same night; and still more surprised to
ond time in the bay of S. Carlos in Chiloe. On the

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hear that the great eruption of Coseguina (2700 miles       should be taken on the outer coast of Chiloe, it was
north of Aconcagua), accompanied by an earthquake           planned that Mr. King and myself should ride to
felt over a 1000 miles, also occurred within six hours      Castro, and thence across the island to the Capella
of this same time. This coincidence is the more re-         de Cucao, situated on the west coast. Having hired
markable, as Coseguina had been dormant for                 horses and a guide, we set out on the morning of the
twenty-six years; and Aconcagua most rarely shows           22nd. We had not proceeded far, before we were
any signs of action. It is difficult even to conjecture     joined by a woman and two boys, who were bent on
whether this coincidence was accidental, or shows           the same journey. Every one on this road acts on a
some subterranean connection. If Vesuvius, Etna,            “hail fellow well met” fashion; and one may here
and Hecla in Iceland (all three relatively nearer each      enjoy the privilege, so rare in South America, of trav-
other than the corresponding points in South                elling without firearms. At first, the country consisted
America), suddenly burst forth in eruption on the           of a succession of hills and valleys: nearer to Castro
same night, the coincidence would be thought re-            it became very level. The road itself is a curious af-
markable; but it is far more remarkable in this case,       fair; it consists in its whole length, with the excep-
where the three vents fall on the same great moun-          tion of very few parts, of great logs of wood, which
tain-chain, and where the vast plains along the en-         are either broad and laid longitudinally, or narrow
tire eastern coast, and the upraised recent shells          and placed transversely. In summer the road is not
along more than 2000 miles on the western coast,            very bad; but in winter, when the wood is rendered
show in how equable and connected a manner the              slippery from rain, travelling is exceedingly diffi-
elevatory forces have acted.                                cult. At that time of the year, the ground on each side
  Captain Fitz Roy being anxious that some bearings         becomes a morass, and is often overflowed: hence it

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                                                Charles Darwin
is necessary that the longitudinal logs should be fas-     ceeded was an Indian, who cut his way through the
tened down by transverse poles, which are pegged           canes in eight days, and reached S. Carlos: he was
on each side into the earth. These pegs render a fall      rewarded by the Spanish government with a grant
from a horse dangerous, as the chance of alighting         of land. During the summer, many of the Indians
on one of them is not small. It is remarkable, how-        wander about the forests (but chiefly in the higher
ever, how active custom has made the Chilotan              parts, where the woods are not quite so thick) in
horses. In crossing bad parts, where the logs had been     search of the half-wild cattle which live on the leaves
displaced, they skipped from one to the other, al-         of the cane and certain trees. It was one of these hunts-
most with the quickness and certainty of a dog. On         men who by chance discovered, a few years since,
both hands the road is bordered by the lofty forest-       an English vessel, which had been wrecked on the
trees, with their bases matted together by canes.          outer coast. The crew were beginning to fail in pro-
When occasionally a long reach of this avenue could        visions, and it is not probable that, without the aid
be beheld, it presented a curious scene of uniformity:     of this man, they would ever have extricated them-
the white line of logs, narrowing in perspective, be-      selves from these scarcely penetrable woods. As it
came hidden by the gloomy forest, or terminated in         was, one seaman died on the march, from fatigue.
a zigzag which ascended some steep hill.                   The Indians in these excursions steer by the sun; so
  Although the distance from S. Carlos to Castro is        that if there is a continuance of cloudy weather, they
only twelve leagues in a straight line, the formation      can not travel.
of the road must have been a great labour. I was told        The day was beautiful, and the number of trees
that several people had formerly lost their lives in       which were in full flower perfumed the air; yet even
attempting to cross the forest. The first who suc-         this could hardly dissipate the effects of the gloomy

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                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
dampness of the forest. Moreover, the many dead             found exceedingly hospitable and kind, and more
trunks that stand like skeletons, never fail to give to     disinterested than is usual on this side of the conti-
these primeval woods a character of solemnity, ab-          nent. The next day Don Pedro procured us fresh
sent in those of countries long civilized. Shortly af-      horses, and offered to accompany us himself. We
ter sunset we bivouacked for the night. Our female          proceeded to the south — generally following the
companion, who was rather good-looking, belonged            coast, and passing through several hamlets, each
to one of the most respectable families in Castro: she      with its large barn-like chapel built of wood. At
rode, however, astride, and without shoes or stock-         Vilipilli, Don Pedro asked the commandant to give
ings. I was surprised at the total want of pride shown      us a guide to Cucao. The old gentleman offered to
by her and her brother. They brought food with them,        come himself; but for a long time nothing would
but at all our meals sat watching Mr. King and my-          persuade him that two Englishmen really wished to
self whilst eating, till we were fairly shamed into         go to such an out-of-the-way place as Cucao. We
feeding the whole party. The night was cloudless;           were thus accompanied by the two greatest aristo-
and while lying in our beds, we enjoyed the sight           crats in the country, as was plainly to be seen in the
(and it is a high enjoyment) of the multitude of stars      manner of all the poorer Indians towards them. At
which illumined the darkness of the forest.                 Chonchi we struck across the island, following intri-
  January 23rd. — We rose early in the morning, and         cate winding paths, sometimes passing through
reached the pretty quiet town of Castro by two              magnificent forests, and sometimes through pretty
o’clock. The old governor had died since our last           cleared spots, abounding with corn and potato crops.
visit, and a Chileno was acting in his place. We had        This undulating woody country, partially cultivated,
a letter of introduction to Don Pedro, whom we              reminded me of the wilder parts of England, and

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                                                  Charles Darwin
therefore had to my eye a most fascinating aspect.           against us, but yet reached the Capella de Cucao
At Vilinco, which is situated on the borders of the          before it was late. The country on each side of the
lake of Cucao, only a few fields were cleared; and           lake was one unbroken forest. In the same periagua
all the inhabitants appeared to be Indians. This lake        with us, a cow was embarked. To get so large an
is twelve miles long, and runs in an east and west           animal into a small boat appears at first a difficulty,
direction. From local circumstances, the sea-breeze          but the Indians managed it in a minute. They brought
blows very regularly during the day, and during the          the cow alongside the boat, which was heeled towards
night it falls calm: this has given rise to strange ex-      her; then placing two oars under her belly, with their
aggerations, for the phenomenon, as described to us          ends resting on the gunwale, by the aid of these le-
at S. Carlos, was quite a prodigy.                           vers they fairly tumbled the poor beast heels over
  The road to Cucao was so very bad that we deter-           head into the bottom of the boat, and then lashed her
mined to embark in a _periagua_. The commandant,             down with ropes. At Cucao we found an uninhabited
in the most authoritative manner, ordered six Indi-          hovel (which is the residence of the padre when he
ans to get ready to pull us over, without deigning to        pays this Capella a visit), where, lighting a fire, we
tell them whether they would be paid. The periagua           cooked our supper, and were very comfortable.
is a strange rough boat, but the crew were still               The district of Cucao is the only inhabited part on
stranger: I doubt if six uglier little men ever got into     the whole west coast of Chiloe. It contains about
a boat together. They pulled, however, very well and         thirty or forty Indian families, who are scattered
cheerfully. The stroke-oarsman gabbled Indian, and           along four or five miles of the shore. They are very
uttered strange cries, much after the fashion of a pig-      much secluded from the rest of Chiloe, and have
driver driving his pigs. We started with a light breeze      scarcely any sort of commerce, except sometimes in

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                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
a little oil, which they get from seal-blubber. They        northward to Punta Huantamo. The road lay along
are tolerably dressed in clothes of their own manu-         a very broad beach, on which, even after so many
facture, and they have plenty to eat. They seemed,          fine days, a terrible surf was breaking. I was assured
however, discontented, yet humble to a degree which         that after a heavy gale, the roar can be heard at night
it was quite painful to witness. These feelings are, I      even at Castro, a distance of no less than twenty-one
think, chiefly to be attributed to the harsh and au-        sea-miles across a hilly and wooded country. We had
thoritative manner in which they are treated by their       some difficulty in reaching the point, owing to the
rulers. Our companions, although so very civil to           intolerably bad paths; for everywhere in the shade
us, behaved to the poor Indians as if they had been         the ground soon becomes a perfect quagmire. The
slaves, rather than free men. They ordered provisions       point itself is a bold rocky hill. It is covered by a
and the use of their horses, without ever condescend-       plant allied, I believe, to Bromelia, and called by the
ing to say how much, or indeed whether the owners           inhabitants Chepones. In scrambling through the
should be paid at all. In the morning, being left alone     beds, our hands were very much scratched. I was
with these poor people, we soon ingratiated our-            amused by observing the precaution our Indian
selves by presents of cigars and mate. A lump of            guide took, in turning up his trousers, thinking that
white sugar was divided between all present, and            they were more delicate than his own hard skin. This
tasted with the greatest curiosity. The Indians ended       plant bears a fruit, in shape like an artichoke, in which
all their complaints by saying, “And it is only be-         a number of seed-vessels are packed: these contain
cause we are poor Indians, and know nothing; but it         a pleasant sweet pulp, here much esteemed. I saw at
was not so when we had a King.”                             Low’s Harbour the Chilotans making chichi, or ci-
  The next day after breakfast, we rode a few miles         der, with this fruit: so true is it, as Humboldt remarks,

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                                                 Charles Darwin
that almost everywhere man finds means of prepar-           ing upwards. Although the inhabitants were so as-
ing some kind of beverage from the vegetable king-          siduous in setting fire to every part of the wood, yet
dom. The savages, however, of Tierra del Fuego, and         I did not see a single fire which they had succeeded
I believe of Australia, have not advanced thus far in       in making extensive. We dined with our friend the
the arts.                                                   commandant, and did not reach Castro till after dark.
  The coast to the north of Punta Huantamo is ex-           The next morning we started very early. After hav-
ceedingly rugged and broken, and is fronted by              ing ridden for some time, we obtained from the brow
many breakers, on which the sea is eternally roar-          of a steep hill an extensive view (and it is a rare thing
ing. Mr. King and myself were anxious to return, if         on this road) of the great forest. Over the horizon of
it had been possible, on foot along this coast; but         trees, the volcano of Corcovado, and the great flat-
even the Indians said it was quite impracticable. We        topped one to the north, stood out in proud pre-
were told that men have crossed by striking directly        eminence: scarcely another peak in the long range
through the woods from Cucao to S. Carlos, but never        showed its snowy summit. I hope it will be long be-
by the coast. On these expeditions, the Indians carry       fore I forget this farewell view of the magnificent Cor-
with them only roasted corn, and of this they eat spar-     dillera fronting Chiloe. At night we bivouacked un-
ingly twice a day.                                          der a cloudless sky, and the next morning reached S.
  26th. — Re-embarking in the periagua, we returned         Carlos. We arrived on the right day, for before
across the lake, and then mounted our horses. The           evening heavy rain commenced.
whole of Chiloe took advantage of this week of un-            February 4th. — Sailed from Chiloe. During the last
usually fine weather, to clear the ground by burn-          week I made several short excursions. One was to
ing. In every direction volumes of smoke were curl-         examine a great bed of now-existing shells, elevated

                                                          327
                                            The Voyage of the Beagle
350 feet above the level of the sea: from among these      canoe with an Indian family. The town is situated on
shells, large forest-trees were growing. Another ride      the low banks of the stream, and is so completely
was to P. Huechucucuy. I had with me a guide who           buried in a wood of apple-trees that the streets are
knew the country far too well; for he would pertina-       merely paths in an orchard I have never seen any
ciously tell me endless Indian names for every little      country, where apple-trees appeared to thrive so
point, rivulet, and creek. In the same manner as in        well as in this damp part of South America: on the
Tierra del Fuego, the Indian language appears sin-         borders of the roads there were many young trees
gularly well adapted for attaching names to the most       evidently self-grown. In Chiloe the inhabitants pos-
trivial features of the land. I believe every one was      sess a marvellously short method of making an or-
glad to say farewell to Chiloe; yet if we could forget     chard. At the lower part of almost every branch,
the gloom and ceaseless rain of winter, Chiloe might       small, conical, brown, wrinkled points project: these
pass for a charming island. There is also something        are always ready to change into roots, as may some-
very attractive in the simplicity and humble polite-       times be seen, where any mud has been accidentally
ness of the poor inhabitants.                              splashed against the tree. A branch as thick as a man’s
  We steered northward along shore, but owing to           thigh is chosen in the early spring, and is cut off just
thick weather did not reach Valdivia till the night of     beneath a group of these points, all the smaller
the 8th. The next morning the boat proceeded to the        branches are lopped off, and it is then placed about
town, which is distant about ten miles. We followed        two feet deep in the ground. During the ensuing
the course of the river, occasionally passing a few        summer the stump throws out long shoots, and
hovels, and patches of ground cleared out of the oth-      sometimes even bears fruit: I was shown one which
erwise unbroken forest; and sometimes meeting a            had produced as many as twenty-three apples, but

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                                                 Charles Darwin
this was thought very unusual. In the third season          est compared with that of Chiloe. This is owing to a
the stump is changed (as I have myself seen) into a         slightly different proportion in the kinds of trees. The
well-wooded tree, loaded with fruit. An old man near        evergreens do not appear to be quite so numerous,
Valdivia illustrated his motto, “Necesidad es la            and the forest in consequence has a brighter tint. As
madre del invencion,” by giving an account of the           in Chiloe, the lower parts are matted together by
several useful things he manufactured from his              canes: here also another kind (resembling the bam-
apples. After making cider, and likewise wine, he           boo of Brazil and about twenty feet in height) grows
extracted from the refuse a white and finely                in clusters, and ornaments the banks of some of the
flavoured spirit; by another process he procured a          streams in a very pretty manner. It is with this plant
sweet treacle, or, as he called it, honey. His children     that the Indians make their chuzos, or long tapering
and pigs seemed almost to live, during this season          spears. Our resting-house was so dirty that I pre-
of the year, in his orchard.                                ferred sleeping outside: on these journeys the first
   February 11th. — I set out with a guide on a short       night is generally very uncomfortable, because one
ride, in which, however, I managed to see singularly        is not accustomed to the tickling and biting of the
little, either of the geology of the country or of its      fleas. I am sure, in the morning, there was not a space
inhabitants. There is not much cleared land near            on my legs the size of a shilling which had not its
Valdivia: after crossing a river at the distance of a       little red mark where the flea had feasted.
few miles, we entered the forest, and then passed              12th. — We continued to ride through the un-
only one miserable hovel, before reaching our sleep-        cleared forest; only occasionally meeting an Indian
ing-place for the night. The short difference in lati-      on horseback, or a troop of fine mules bringing
tude, of 150 miles, has given a new aspect to the for-      alerce-planks and corn from the southern plains. In

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                                             The Voyage of the Beagle
the afternoon one of the horses knocked up: we were         many cottages, with patches of corn and potatoes,
then on a brow of a hill, which commanded a fine            nearly all belonging to Indians. The tribes depen-
view of the Llanos. The view of these open plains           dent on Valdivia are “reducidos y cristianos.” The
was very refreshing, after being hemmed in and bur-         Indians farther northward, about Arauco and Impe-
ied in the wilderness of trees. The uniformity of a         rial, are still very wild, and not converted; but they
forest soon becomes very wearisome. This west coast         have all much intercourse with the Spaniards. The
makes me remember with pleasure the free, un-               padre said that the Christian Indians did not much
bounded plains of Patagonia; yet, with the true spirit      like coming to mass, but that otherwise they showed
of contradiction, I cannot forget how sublime is the        respect for religion. The greatest difficulty is in mak-
silence of the forest. The Llanos are the most fertile      ing them observe the ceremonies of marriage. The
and thickly peopled parts of the country, as they           wild Indians take as many wives as they can sup-
possess the immense advantage of being nearly free          port, and a cacique will sometimes have more than
from trees. Before leaving the forest we crossed some       ten: on entering his house, the number may be told
flat little lawns, around which single trees stood, as      by that of the separate fires. Each wife lives a week
in an English park: I have often noticed with sur-          in turn with the cacique; but all are employed in
prise, in wooded undulatory districts, that the quite       weaving ponchos, etc., for his profit. To be the wife
level parts have been destitute of trees. On account        of a cacique, is an honour much sought after by the
of the tired horse, I determined to stop at the Mis-        Indian women.
sion of Cudico, to the friar of which I had a letter of       The men of all these tribes wear a coarse woolen
introduction. Cudico is an intermediate district be-        poncho: those south of Valdivia wear short trousers,
tween the forest and the Llanos. There are a good           and those north of it a petticoat, like the chilipa of

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                                                 Charles Darwin
the Gauchos. All have their long hair bound by a              I spent the evening very pleasantly, talking with
scarlet fillet, but with no other covering on their         the padre. He was exceedingly kind and hospitable;
heads. These Indians are good-sized men; their              and coming from Santiago, had contrived to sur-
cheek-bones are prominent, and in general appear-           round himself with some few comforts. Being a man
ance they resemble the great American family to             of some little education, he bitterly complained of
which they belong; but their physiognomy seemed             the