31st October 1833

Syms Covington’s Journal:
Stopt BY the army all the forenoon (a curious sight AS I HAD BEEN up to MY middle in water for several miles). Got in Buenos Ayres the same afternoon. With some trouble, passed all the sentries with my guide; when in town, I WAS obliged to keep in house, or be pressed.

30th October 1833

Syms Covington’s Journal:
Left Camp October 30th. Slept at an estancia the same night.

22nd October to November 1st

St Fe. to B: Ayres
These disturbances caused me much inconvenience; my servant was outside, I was obliged to bribe a man to smuggle him in through the belligerents. His clothes, my riding gear, collections from St Fe, were outside with no possibility of obtaining them. I was, however, lucky in having them all sent to me at M: Video. The residence in the town was disagreeable, it was difficult to transact any business, the shops being closed; & there were constant apprehensions of the town being ransacked. The real danger lay with the lawless soldiery within; they robbed many people in the day time, & at night the very sentinels stopped people to demand money from them.

21st October 1833

St Fe. to B: Ayres
Arrived early in the morning at Rolors encampment, the general, officers, & soldiers all appeared, & I believe really were, great villains. — The General told me, that the city was in a state of close blockade; that he could only give me a passport to the General in chief (of the rebels) at Quilmes. — I had therefore to take a great sweep round the city; & it was with very much difficulty that I procured horses. — When I arrived at the encampment, they were civil, but told me I could not be allowed to enter. This was General Rosases party; & his brother was there. — I soon began to talk about the Generals civility to me at the R. Colorado. — Magic could not have altered circumstances quicker than this conversation did. At last they offered me the choice to enter the city on foot without my Peon horses &c &c & without a passport: I was too glad to accept it, & an officer was sent to give directions not to stop me at the bridge. The road, about a league in length, was quite deserted; I met one party of soldiers; but I satisfied them with an old passport. — I was exceedingly glad when I found myself safe on the stones of B. Ayres.

This revolution is nothing more or less than a downright rebellion. — A party of men who are attached to General Rosas, were disgusted with the Governor; they left the city to the number of 70, & with the cry of Rosas, the whole country took arms. — The city is now was then closely blockaded: no provisions, cattle, or horses are allowed to enter; excepting this, there is only a little skirmishing, a few men daily killed. — The outside party well know that by stopping the supply of meat they will certainly be victorious.

General Rosas could not have known of this rising; but I think it is quite consonant with his schemes. — A year ago he was elected Governor; he refused it, without the Sala would also give him extraordinary powers. — This they refused, & now Rosas means to show them that no other Governor can keep his place. — The warfare on both sides was avowedly protracted till it was possible to hear from Rosas. — A note arrived, a few days after my leaving B. Ayres, which stated that the General disapproved of peace being broken, but that he thought the outside party had justice on their side. — Instantly, on the reception of this, the Governor & ministers resigned, & they with the military to the amount of some hundreds flew from the city. — The rebels entered, elected a new Governor, & were paid for their services to the number of 5500 men. — It is clear to me that Rosas ultimately must be absolute Dictator, (they object to the term king) of this country.
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Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
On the 21st moored off Monte Video, to take in our final supplies previous to quitting the River Plata for the last time. Here, to my surprise, I found people talking about the English having taken possession of the island of Gorriti, and built houses upon it. This, I knew, must in some way have arisen out of the temporary encampment of the Adventure's crew; and enquiring further, I found that columns of the Monte Video newspapers had been filled with discussions on the subject.

The local authorities at Maldonado having been told (incorrectly) that the English had hoisted British colours upon the island—had repaired several old buildings—and had erected a house with glass windows, for the commanding officer's residence—became alarmed; and as stories seldom lose by repetition, the good people of Monte Video were soon in commotion. However, the affair was easily explained; but not without many a laugh at the absurdity of my little observatory (made of ninety small pieces of wood, so as to be stowed in a boat), having 'loomed' so large. Had our colours ever been displayed on shore, there might have been some foundation for their alarm; but it so happened that the only flag that was on the island, at any time while our party was there, was an old Monte Video (Banda Oriental) ensign, which belonged to the schooner when I bought her from Mr. Low.

This incident, trifling as it is, may be worth notice, as showing how necessary it is to be more circumspect and explanatory in every dealing with a small State, than in similar transactions with the Authorities of old established governments.

20th October 1833

St Fe. to B: Ayres
I was very anxious to reach B. Ayres, so that I determined to leave the vessel at Las Conchas & ride into town a distance about 20 miles. After changing my vessel three times in order to pass the bar, I obtained a canoe, & we paddled quickly along to the Punta de St Fernando. The channel is narrow & several miles long. On each side the islands were covered with peaches & Oranges. These have been planted by nature, & flourish so well, that the market of B. Ayres, in the fruit season is supplied by them. On one of the islands I saw a bevy of fine gallinaceous birds of a black colour & the nearly the size of a Turkey.

Upon leaving the canoe, I found to my utter astonishment I was a sort of prisoner. About a week before, a violent revolution had broken out; all the ports were under an embargo. I could not return to my vessel, & as for going by land to the city it was out of the question. After a long conversation with the Commandante I obtained permission to go the next day to General Rolor, who commanded a division of the rebels on this side of the Capital.

18th & 19th October 1833

St Fe. to B: Ayres
Sailed quietly on with gentle winds, & anchored in the middle of the night near the mouth of the Parana, called Las Palmas.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
By the 19th she [the Adventure] was almost ready, so we weighed in company, ran up the river to water.

17th October 1833

St Fe. to B: Ayres
Gale, remained stationary.

16th October 1833

[Modern Rosario]
St Fe. to B: Ayres
Some leagues above Rozario we came to cliffs, which are absolutely perpendicular, these form the West bank to below St Nicholas; & the whole coast more resembles that of a sea than a fresh-water river. It is a great draw back to the scenery of the Parana, that from the soft nature of the banks, all the water is very muddy. The Uruguay is much clearer, & I am told where the two waters flow in one channel, they may clearly be distinguished by their black & red colours. In the evening, the wind not being quite fair, the master was much too indolent to think of proceeding. Moored 5 leagues above St Nicholas.

Syms Covington’s Journal:
On the 16th of the same month, a revolution broke out, which of course put a stop to all intercourse between the Citizens and Country People, the former denominated Unitarians, the latter Federals. The latter were more numerous, and could muster an army of five thousand strong; altogether they were a motley group, most part of them having nothing but what they could muster themselves. As there were only two or three skirmishes, the loss of men was trivial. The principal sufferers in those revolutions are the farmers, who one day are estimated to be worth perhaps fifty thousand dollars and upwards, and the next left pennyless. They only receive a bill for their cattle, one which can never be cashed, and they are obliged to put up with the rude insults of the soldiers. To this I was an eyewitness myself. These petty feuds are a good pretext for to rob and plunder (and of course our own countrymen are the first sufferers). The pe├│ns or labourers wish for those times, as they can then take a bullock, etc. without being apprehended.

15th October 1833

St Fe. to B: Ayres
We got under weigh; passed Punta Gorda, where there is colony of tame Indians from the province of Missiones. We sailed rapidly down the current; before sunset from a silly fear of bad weather brought to in a narrow arm or "Riacho". I took the boat & rowed some distance up the creek; it was very narrow, winding & deep; on each side there was a wall 30 or 40 feet high formed by the trees entwined with creepers, this gave to the canal a singularly gloomy appearance. I here saw a very extraordinary bird, the scissor-beak. The lower mandible is as flat & elastic as an ivory paper-cutter, it is an inch & a half longer than the upper. With its mouth wide open, & the lower mandible immersed some depth in the water, it flies rapidly up & down the stream. Thus ploughing the surface, it occasionally seizes a small fish.

The evenings are quite tropical; the thermometer 79° -- an abundance of fire flies, & the mosquitoes very troublesome. I exposed my hand for five minutes, it was black with them: I do not think there could have been less than 50, all busy with sucking. At night, I slept on deck, the greater coolness allowing the head & face to be covered up with comfort.

13th & 14th October 1833

St Fe. to B: Ayres
A constant gale & rain from the SE, remained at our moorings, the greater part of the time I passed in bed, as the cabin was too low to sit up in. There was also good sport in fishing, the river abounds in large & extraordinary looking fish, which are excellent food.

12th October 1833

St Fe. to B: Ayres
Embarked on board the Balandra; a one masted vessel of a hundred tuns; we made sail down the current. The weather continuing bad, we only went a few leagues & fastened the vessel to the trees on one of the islands. The Parana is full of islands; they are all of one character, composed of muddy sand, at present about four feet above the level of the water; in the floods they are covered. An abundance of willows & two or three other sorts of trees grow on them, & the whole is rendered a complete jungle by the variety & profusion of creeping plants. These thickets afford a safe harbour for many capinchas & tigers. The fear of these latter animals quite destroyed all pleasure in scrambling in the islands. On this day I had not proceeded a hundred yards, before finding the most indubitable & recent sign of the tiger. I was obliged to retreat; on every islands there are tracks; as in a former excursion the "rastro" of the Indians had been the constant subject of observation, so in this was the "rastro" del tigre".
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The jaguar is a much more dangerous animal than is generally supposed: they have killed several wood-cutters; occassionally they enter vessels. There is a man now in the Bajada, who coming up from below at night time was seized by a tiger, but he escaped with the loss of the use of one arm. When the floods drive the tigers out of the islands; they are most dangerous, a few years since a very large one entered a church at St Fe. Two padres entering one after the other were killed, a third coming to see what was the cause of their delay, escaped with difficulty. The beast was killed by unroofing one corner of the room & firing at it. The tigers annually kill a considerable number of young oxen & horses. These islands undergo a constant round of decay & renovation. In the memory of the master several large ones had disappeared, others again had been formed & protected by vegetation.
---oOo---
Jaguars were historically found from the southwestern United States to southern Argentina. Its range is now reduced. The results from WCS's workshop, held in Mexico in 1999, indicated that jaguars have been lost from over 50% of their range since 1900. Most of the loss has occurred in Mexico and the United States in the north, and in Brazil and Argentina in the south. The largest contiguous area of jaguar range is centered in the Amazon Basin and includes adjoining areas in the Cerrado, Pantanal, and Chaco to the south and extending to the Caribbean coast in Venezuela and the Guianas. Jaguar range has decreased due to deforestation, conversion of land to other uses, and killing of jaguars and their prey.

6th - 11th October 1833

[A modern map of the area in which Darwin spends the next week... in 1833 of course!]

St Fe
By the indolence of the master & from bad weather I was delayed five days. The time passed pleasantly & was enabled to see the geology of the surrounding district. And this possessed no common interest. The Bajada itself, a quiet town; about as large as St Fe or St Nicholas; it contained in 1825, 6,000 inhabitants. The whole province only contains 30,000. Yet here there are representatives, ministers, standing army, governors &c &c. Few, as they are, none have suffered more from desperate & bloody revolutions. In some future day however this will be one of the finest provinces. As its name expresses, it is surrounded on every side by the magnificent rivers, the Parana & Uruguay, the land is most fertile. Here there is no fear of the Indians; an immense advantage over their neighbours; to the North of St Fe, there is not a single Estancia on the West of the Parana; & we have seen that the road is not safe between the Capital & Coronda.

My usual walk during these days was to the cliffs on the Parana to admire the view of the river & pick up fossil shells. Amongst the fallen masses of rock, vegetation was very luxuriant; there were many beautiful flowers, around which humming birds were hovering. I could almost fancy that I was transported to that earthly paradise, Brazil.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
On the 6th of October we returned to Maldonado; to prepare for a long excursion southward, and to hasten the equipment of.

5th October 1833

St Fe
Crossed the Parana to St Fe Bajada, or as it is now called Parana, the capital of Entre Rios. The passage took up four hours; winding about the different branches. which are all deep & rapid; we crossed the main arm & arrived at the Port. The town is more than a mile from the river; it was placed there formerly so as not to be exposed so much to the attacks of the Paraguay Indians. I had a letter of introduction to an old Catalonian, who treated me with the most uncommon hospitality. My original intention had been to cross the province of Entre Rios & return by the Banda Oriental to B. Ayres. Not being quite well and thinking that the Beagle would sail long before she eventually did, I gave up this plan, & determined to return immediately to B. Ayres. I was unable to hire a boat so took a passage in a Balandra.

3rd & 4th October 1833

St Fe
Unwell in bed. St Fe is nice, straggling town, with many gardens. It is kept clean & in good order. The governor of the province, Lopez, is a tyrant; which perhaps is the best form of government for the inhabitants. He was a common soldier at the great revolution & has now been 17 years in power. His chief occupation is killing Indians, a short time since he slaughtered 48 of them. The children are sold for between 3 & 4 pound sterling.

2nd October 1833

Buenos Ayres to St Fe
Unwell & feverish, from having exerted myself too much in the sun. — The change in latitude between St Fe & Buenos Ayres is about 3 degrees; the change in climate is much greater. — everything shows it. — the dress & complexion of the inhabitants, the increased size of the Ombus, many new cacti, the greater beauty of the birds & flowers; all proves the greater influence of the sun. We passed Corunda, from the luxuriance of its gardens it is the prettiest village I have seen. — From this place to St Fe, the road is not very safe; it runs through one large wood of low prickly trees, apparently all Mimosa. — As there are no habitations to the West of this part of the Parana, the Indians sometime come down & kill passengers. — On the road there were some houses now deserted from having been plundered; there was also a spectacle, which my guide looked at with great satisfaction, viz the skeleton with the dried skin hanging to the bones, of an Indian hanging suspended to a tree. The wood had a pretty appearance opening into glades like a lawn.
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We changed our horses at a Posta where there are twenty soldiers: & by sun set arrived at St Fe. There was much delay on the road, on account of having to cross an arm of the Parana, St Fe being situated in a large island. — I was much exhausted & was very glad to procure an room unfurnished room. —

1st October 1833

Buenos Ayres to St Fe
Started by moonlight & arrived at the R. Carcavàna by sun rise. This river is also called the Saladillo, & it deserves the name for the water is brackish. I staid here the greater part of the day, searching for bones in the cliff. Old Falkner mentions having seen great bones in this river.
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I found a curious & large cutting tooth. Hearing also heard of some "giants" bones on the Parana, I hired a canoe; there were two groups of bones sticking out of a cliff which came perpendicular into the water. The bones were very large, I believe belonging to the Mastodon. They were so completely decayed & soft, that I was unable to extract even a small bone. In the evening rode on another stage on the road, crossing the Monge, another brackish stream.