31st December 1834

Chonos Archipelago
After breakfast the next morning, a party ascended one of the highest viz. 2400 ft. elevation. — The scenery was very remarkable; the chief part of the range is composed of grand solid abrupt masses of granite, which look as if they had been coeval with the very beginning of the world. — The granite is capped with slaty gneiss, & this in the lapse of ages of time has been worn into strange finger-shaped points. These two formations, thus differing in their outlines, agree in being almost destitute of vegetation; and this barrenness had to our eyes a more strange appearance, from being accustomed to the sight of an almost universal forest of dark green trees. I took much delight in examining the structure of these mountains. — The complicated & lofty ranges bore a noble aspect of durability — equally profitless however to man & to all other animals. Granite to the Geologist is a classic ground: from its wide-spread limits, its beautiful & compact texture, few rocks have been more anciently recognised. Granite has given rise perhaps to more discussion concerning its origin than any other formation. — We see it generally the fundamental rock, & however formed, we know it to be the deepest layer in the crust of this globe to which man is able to penetrate. — The limit of mans knowledge in every subject possesses a high interest, which is perhaps increased by its close neighbourhood to the realms of imagination.

30th December 1834

Chonos Archipelago
In the morning went on shore; to our great surprise we found the Island well stocked with fine wild Goats. The sportsmen soon killed eight, which have given us two days fresh meat. I should think these Goats must originally have been turned out by some of the old Spanish Missionary expeditions. Others besides us have visited this place; I found marks of trees long ago cut down, an old fire, & remains of a sort of Shed. I presume it has been one of the prowling tribe of Sealers. In the evening changed our anchorage to a snug cove at the foot of some high hills.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
On landing an old wooden hut was discovered in a sheltered corner, and we found that the island was overrun with goats, which I suppose to have been left by the Santa Barbara's crew, if not by Machado's people. While Mr. Stokes and I were engaged with the instruments, and two boats sounding, a couple of guns were sent against the goats, and in consequence of their effectual employment in the hands of Mr. Bynoe and H. Fuller, all on board had a good fresh meal the next two days. After noon we sailed across the Bay, and found a snug, though very small cove, where we moored in security, and remained till the 4th of January, exploring the neighbourhood—an unprofitable wilderness of rocky mountains, woody and swampy valleys, islands and rocks in profusion, and inlets or arms of the sea penetrating in every direction.

29th December 1834

Chonos Archipelago
Ran along the Coast till we came to an anchor at Yuche Island, a little to the North of the Peninsula of Tres Montes.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
While examining the coast towards Cape Taytao, we found a very dangerous patch of rocks, five miles from the nearest land; there are soundings near them. In the evening we dropped our anchor under Inchemo Island; an interesting locality, because there the Anna Pink anchored before she was drifted across the adjacent bay into Port Refuge (in 1741).

Just as all hope seemed lost, they saw the entry to a harbour (now called Bahaia Anna Pink*, Chile at 45.83S 74.83W) and were able to take refuge. For two months they stayed to perform makeshift repairs to the ship and allow the crew to recover their health before departing for Juan Fernandez. The harbour had a good fresh water supply, wild greens and game. Given the abundant provisions and minimal crew on the merchant ship, the crew was in much better health even than those on the warships at the time she was blown ashore. However, a survey after arrival at Juan Fernandez reported that she was so badly damaged that she was beyond repair so Anson had the ship broken up and the crew transferred to the Gloucester.

*Anna Pink" where "pink" is a "small sailing vessel with sharply narrowed stern and an overhanging transom".

(from George Anson's voyage around the world 1741)

28th December 1834

Chonos Archipelago
At last the weather barely permitted us to run out; our time has hung heavy on our hands, as it always does when we are detained from day to day by successive gales of wind. — Our Christmas day was not such a merry one as we had last year at Port Desire. — Between 30 & 40 miles of coast was surveyed & in the afternoon we found an excellent harbor. — Directly after anchoring we saw a man waving a shirt. A boat was sent & brought two men off. — They turned out to be N. American seamen, who from bad treatment had run away from their vessel when 70 miles from the land. The party consisted of five men & the officer of the watch; who together in the middle watch had lowered a boat & taken a weeks provisions with them, thinking to go along the coast to Valdivia; The boat on their first landing had been dashed into pieces. — This happened 15 months ago; since which time the poor wretches have been wandering up & down the coast, without knowing which way to go or where they were (they knew nothing of Chiloe). What a singular piece of good fortune our happening to discover this harbor at the very time they were in it. Excepting by this chance they might have wandered till they had been old men & probably would not have been picked up. — This explains the bed in the last harbor; the party had separated when this was used. — They were now all together & the boat subsequently brought off three more. — one man had fallen from a cliff & perished. — I never saw such anxiety as was pictured in the mens faces to get into the boat. — before she landed, they were nearly jumping into the water. They were in good condition, having plenty of seals-flesh which together with shell- fish had entirely supported them. — In the evening we paid a visit to their little hut made of reeds; a few days since, they had killed nine seals; they cut the flesh into pieces & secured it on sticks which they place cross-wise over the fire & thus preserve it. — They had some few clothese, a book (well thumbed), 2 hatchets & knives; with these they had hollowed out two trees to make canoes, but neither answered. — The difficulties they encountered in trying to travel up the coast were dreadful; it was in passing a head- land the man was lost; some of the Bays gave them 5 days walking to reach the head. Latterly they appear to have given up in despair their attempt at reaching Valdivia! And well they might.— They had one comfort in having always plenty of firewood; they managed to make a fire by placing a bit of tinder with a spark from a steel & flint between two pieces of charcoal, & by blowing this was sufficient to ignite it. — There are no Indians. — Their treatment on board the Whaler does not appear to have been so very bad; but their remedy, probably from ignorance of the dangers, has been a most desperately perilous one. I am very glad the Beagle has been the means of saving their lives. — Considering what they have undergone, I think they have kept a very good tally of the time; they making this day to be the 24th instead of the 28th.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
Directly the weather would admit, we weighed and coasted along till the sun was getting low, when we ran under shelter from sea and wind, and anchored in the corner of a bay which I afterwards concluded must be the bay or port called Stephens, and more properly, San Estevan. While we were furling sails, some men were seen on a point of land near the ship, making signals to us in a very earnest manner. Being dressed as sailors, it was natural for us to conclude that they were some boat's crew left there to collect sealskins. A boat was sent to them, and directly she touched the land they rushed into her, without saying a word, as men would if pursued by a dreaded enemy; and not till they were afloat could they compose themselves enough to tell their story. They were North American sailors, who had deserted from the Frances Henrietta (a whaler of New Bedford), in October 1833. When off Cape Tres Montes, but out of sight of land, and in the middle of the night, these six men lowered a boat and left their ship, intending to coast along until they should arrive at Chilóe. Their first landing was effected on the 18th, but owing to negligence the boat was so badly stove that they could not repair her, and all their hopes of effecting a coasting voyage were thus crushed in the very outset.

Finding it impossible to penetrate far into the country, on account of its ruggedness, and thick forests, which, though only trifling in height, were almost impervious, they began a pilgrimage along-shore; but it was soon evident, to their dismay, that there were so many arms of the sea to pass round, and it was so difficult to walk, or rather climb, along the rocky shores, that they must abandon that idea also, and remain stationary. To this decision they were perhaps more inclined after the death of one of their number; who, in trying to cross a chasm between two cliffs, failed in his leap, fell, and was dashed to pieces. Their permanent abode was then taken up at the point which shelters Port San Estevan, now called Rescue Point; where they passed a year in anxious hope. Of course the few provisions which their boat had carried ashore were soon exhausted, and for thirteen months they had lived only upon seals' flesh, shell-fish, and wild celery: yet those five men, when received on board the Beagle, were in better condition, as to healthy fleshiness, colour, and actual health, than any five individuals belonging to our ship. Few remarks worth noticing had been made by them, as the only experienced man (whose name was John Lawson) lost his life as above-mentioned. There was an almost continual succession of rain and wind for several months after their first landing, except from the 20th to the 29th of December, which passed without rain: in July (1834) they had an extraordinary storm from south-west, which began early one morning, after a rainy night with northerly wind: and in November (1834) there were twenty-one days successively without rain. One day (in May) they saw eight vessels sailing northwards together; excepting which, not a sail was ever seen by their aching eyes till the Beagle hove in sight. Between San Andres, near which they first landed, and San Estevan, the hull of a small vessel was found, quite bedded in sand; she seemed to be about thirty-five tons burthen, from thirty to thirty-five feet in the keel, and about sixteen broad. She was full-built; neither coppered nor sheathed. In a cave, which had been used as a dwelling, near San Andres, the skull of a man was found, and some burned wood. A bracelet of beads was lying in the cave, but they noticed nothing else. The skull seemed to them to have been that of a black man. No animals were seen at any time except deer and nutria, seal and otter; the former were of a reddish colour, with short straight horns, and very rough coats: no traces of other quadrupeds were observed, nor during the whole fourteen months did they ever meet a native human being. They told me that the night tides seemed always to be a foot or more higher than those of the day, which, as they said, rose from four to seven or eight feet perpendicularly. I had intended to explore the interior of Port San Estevan; but as they had already done so, and found it terminate in a fresh water river, or rather mountain stream, I gave up that plan, and sailed next day.

25th December 1834

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
Strong gales set in afterwards and kept us prisoners several days. This Christmas was unlike the last: it was a sombre period. The wind blew heavily (though we did not feel it much, being well sheltered); all looked dismal around us; our prospects for the future were sadly altered; and our immediate task was the survey of another Tierra del Fuego, a place swampy with rain, tormented by storms, without the interest even of population: for hitherto we had neither found traces, nor heard the voices of natives.

24th December 1834

Chonos Archipelago
I was here much interested by finding quantities of Lava & other Volcanic products.

Syms Covington Journal:
Anchored in a small bay, Near the Sugar-loaf, (Cape Tres Montes), on the western coast of South America, where we spent the Christmas; the two previous days, blowing very heavy.

23rd December 1834

Chonos Archipelago
Stood out to sea, but bad weather coming on from the Northward, we ran back again & anchored in another cove.

22nd December 1834

Chonos Archipelago
On the Monday I succeeded in reaching the summit (1600 ft. high); it was a laborious undertaking; the ascent being so steep as to make it necessary to use the trees like a ladder. (Note in margin: Great thickets of Fushza.) In these wild countries it gives much delight to reach the summit of any high hill; there is an indefinite expectation of meeting something very strange, which however often it is baulked, never with me failed to recur.— Every one must know the feeling of triumph or pride which a great & extensive view from a height communicates to the mind. — In this case there is joined to it a little vanity of distinction, that you perhaps are the first man who ever stood on this pinnacle, or admired this view. — There is always a strong desire to ascertain whether any body has previously visited the place where one may happen to be. — A bit of wood with a nail in it is picked up & studied as if it was covered with hieroglyphics. Owing to this feeling, I was much interested by finding on a wild piece of the coast, a bed made of grass, beneath a ledge of rock; close by it there had been a fire, & the man had used an axe. — The fire, bed & situation were chosen with the dexterity of an Indian, but it could scarcely be an Indian. — We subsequently found traces of a sealing vessel having been in here; yet I cannot help having some misgivings that the solitary man who had made his bed on this wild spot, was some poor shipwrecked sailor, trying to travel up the coast. If so, probably before this, he has laid himself down & died.

21st December 1834

Chonos Archipelago
Found an harbor, which on this unknown & dangerous coast might be of great utility to a distressed vessel. It can be easily recognized by the most perfectly conical hill I ever saw; it quite beats the famous Sugar-loaf at the entrance of Rio de Janeiro harbor.

20th December 1834

Chonos Archipelago
The Beagle had a fair wind to the extreme Southern point where it was necessary to proceed; & when at Noon on the 20th, we bid farewell to the South & put the Ships head to the North, the wind continued fair. — From C. Tres Montes we ran pleasantly along this lofty weather-beaten coast. It is remarkable by the bold outline of the hills & the thick covering, even on the almost precipitous sides of [the] forest.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
At day-light on the 20th we were off Cape Tres Montes: having a fine day and smooth water, we surveyed the coast between that promontory and San Andres Bay, but it became dark before an anchorage could be gained. Next morning we anchored in a narrow creek, close by a singular cone (1,300 feet high), an unfailing landmark. Finding it a place difficult to get out of, and not to be recommended, unless in distress, we did not stay there long, but moved to a cove at the south-west part of the bay. While under sail for this purpose, advantage was taken of an interval of moderate weather to run several miles along the coast northward, and back again.

18th December 1834

Chonos Archipelago
Stood out to sea. — Mr Stokes, the day before, was despatched in a Whale-boat with three weeks provisions to survey the Northern part of the Archipelago & there meet us. — We have now three boats away; which is something for a ten gun-brig to say. — The Jonas is out of the Ship (whoever he may be);

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
The Beagle weighed and sailed out of Vallenar Road, after experiencing the shelter afforded by that anchorage, during a heavy gale from the south-west and southward

15th to 17th December 1834

Chonos Archipelago
The weather continued bad; to me it did not much signify, because the land in all these islands is next thing to impassable; the coast is rugged & so very uneven that it is one never ceasing climb to attempt to pass that way; as for the woods, I have said enough about them; I shall never forget or forgive them; my face, hands, shin-bones all bear witness what maltreatment I have received in simply trying to penetrate into their forbidden recesses.

14th December 1834

Chonos Archipelago
It is fortunate we reached this shelter. For now a real storm of T. del Fuego is raging with its wonted fury. White massive clouds were piled up against a dark blue sky & across them black ragged sheets of vapor were rapidly driven. The successive ranges of mountains appeared like dim shadows; it was a most ominous, sublime scene. — The setting sun cast on the woodland a yellow gleam, much like the flame of spirits of wine on a man's countenance. The water was white with the flying spray; & the wind lulled & roared again through the rigging: the gale in all its features was complete. It was curious to notice the effect which the spray had on a bright rain-bow; instead of approaching to a semicircle, the ring was nearly complete, for the prismatic colors were carried on the surface of the water on both sides to the Ships stern; & hence formed a circle.

13th December 1834

Chonos Archipelago
We ran into an opening in the Southern part of the Guyatecas or Chonos Archipelago & soon found a good harbor.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
We succeeded in finding a sheltered, and apparently safe anchorage in a road named by me Vallenar, because it corresponded in situation to an island so called in an old chart, said to be of the Chonos, but which bore no resemblance whatever to them. However, being anxious to remove no "neighbour's landmark," and retain original names, when they could be ascertained, I kept them wherever I was able to do so. As to the native names, those given by Indians, I had not the means of finding them out, for no inhabitants were seen; but, so far as Moraleda had collected them from his Indian interpreters, and made them known by his chart, I have scrupulously followed him.

11th December 1834

We left S. Pedro in the Beagle.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
Having despatched Mr. Sulivan, with the same party excepting Mr. Darwin, we got under weigh, and hastened towards the middle of the Chonos group, in order to find a port whence Mr. Stokes might set out to explore northwards, while I should examine the southern half of the archipelago.

10th December 1834

The Yawl & Whale-boat, with Mr Sulivan, started to continue their survey.

9th December 1834

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
We remained a few days in San Pedro harbour; and on the 9th Mr. Sulivan and his party joined us. Next day Mr. Stokes and I endeavoured to get to the top of the mountain named Huampelen, Huamblin, or San Pedro; but after climbing, creeping, struggling, and tumbling about, among old decayed trees, strongly interwoven canes, steep, slippery places, and treacherous bog, we failed, and gave up the attempt. Mr. Darwin, Douglas, and others were with me, but we were all foiled.

8th December 1834

A party with Capt FitzRoy tried to reach the summit of San Pedro, the highest part of the islands. — The woods here have a different aspect from those in the North, there is a much larger proportion of trees with deciduous leaves. — the rock also being primitive Micaceous slate, there is no beach, but the steep sides of the hills dip directly down into the sea; the whole appearance is in consequence much more that of T. del Fuego than of Chiloe. In vain we tried to gain the summit; the wood is so intricate that a person who has never seen it will not be able to imagine such a confused mass of dead & dying trunks. I am sure oftentimes for quarter of an hour our feet never touched the ground, being generally from 10 to 20 feet above it; at other times, like foxes, one after the other we crept on our hands & knees under the rotten trunks. In the lower parts of the hills, noble trees of Winters bark, & the Laurus sassafras (?) with fragrant leaves, & others the names of which I do not know, were matted together by Bamboos or Canes. Here our party were more like fish struggling in a net than any other animal. On the higher parts brushwood took the place of larger trees, with here & there a red Cypress or an Alerce. I was also much interested by finding our old friend the T. del F. Beech, Fagus antarcticus; they were poor stunted little trees, & at an elevation of little less than a thousand feet. This must be, I should apprehend from their appearance, nearly their Northern limit. We ultimately gave up the ascent in despair.

7th December 1834

In the morning we stopped for a few minutes at a house at the extreme North point of Isd of Laylec. This was the last house; the extreme point of S. American Christendom; & a miserable hovel it was. The latitude is about 43° 10′, which is considerably to the South of the R. Negro on the Atlantic coast of America. The people were miserably poor & as usual begged for a little tobacco. I forgot to mention an anecdote which forcibly shows the poverty of these Indians; some days since, we met a man who had travelled 3 & ½ days on foot, on bad roads, & had the same distance to return to recover the value of an axe & a few fish! How difficult it must be to buy the smallest article, where such trouble is taken to recover so small a debt.

We had a foul wind & a good deal of swell to struggle with, but we reached the Island of S. Pedro, the SE extremity of Chiloe, in the evening. When doubling the point of the harbor, Mrs Stuart & Usborne landed to take a round of angles. A fox (of Chiloe, a rare animal) sat on the point & was so absorbed in watching their mænœvres, that he allowed me to walk behind him & actually kill him with my geological hammer. We found the Beagle at anchor, she had arrived the day before & from bad weather had not been able to survey the outer coast of Chiloe. The most singular result of the observations is that Chiloe is made 30 miles too long, hence it will be necessary to shorten the island; ¼ of its received size.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
These three outlying islands are thickly wooded, rather level, compared with their neighbours, and not exceeding eight hundred feet in height. There are few, if any others, like them in the Chonos Archipelago; almost all the rest, however portions of some may resemble them, being mountainous, and very like those of Tierra del Fuego and the west coast of Patagonia, beyond 47° south; therefore I need only remark, that the vegetation is more luxuriant; that there is a slight difference in it, consequent probably upon a milder climate; that some productions, such as canes and potatoes, &c., are found there which do not grow near the Strait of Magalhaens; and that in other respects, as to appearance, nature, and climate, the Chonos Archipelago is like Tierra del Fuego in summer.

6th December 1834

Reached Caylen, called "el fin del Christianitad". It is rather better inhabited.

5th December 1834

I noticed to day growing on the cliffs of soft sandstone some very fine plants of the Pangi*, which somewhat resembles the Rhubarb on a gigantic scale. The inhabitants eat the stalks, which are sub-acid, & with the root tan leather & prepare a black dye. (Note in margin: The stalks are called Nalca, so indeed is the plant sometimes.) The leaf is much indented in its margin & is nearly circular; the diameter of one was nearly 8 feet (giving a circumference of 24 feet!). The stalk rather more than a yard high: each plant throws out from four to six of these enormous leaves & a group of them hence has a very fine appearance.

*Probably a Gunnera - Gunnera Masafuerae of the Juan Fernandez Islands off the Chilean coast. They can have leaves up to 2.9 m (9 ft 5 inches) in width on stout leaf stalks 1.5 m (5 ft) long and 11 cm (4.5 in) thick according to Skottsberg. On nearby Isla Más Afuera, G. peltata frequently has an upright trunk to 5.5 m (18 ft) in height by 25–30 cm (10–12 in) thick, bearing leaves up to 2 m (6 ft 4 inches) wide. G. magnifica of the Colombian Andes bears the largest leaf buds of any plant; up to 60 cm (2 ft) long and 40 cm (16 inches) thick. The succulent leaf stalks are up to 2.7 m (8 ft 10 inches) long. The massive inflorescence of small, reddish flowers is up to 2.3 m (7 ft 6 inches) long and weighs about 13 kg. [Wikipedia] I have one growing in my garden in the UK.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
On the 5th, we were near Huafo, which, to our surprise, we found to be twenty-five miles farther north than the Spanish charts (following Moraleda) showed its position, yet the longitude was almost correct. In a small cove, near the south-east point of Huafo, we anchored, but broke a bower-anchor in doing so; for the cove is small—an unexpected puff of wind gave us too much way—and dropping the bower in haste, it fell upon a rock, and broke.§ Only two days before another anchor was broken, near Socorro, by the ship pitching while a short scope of cable was out, and the anchor hooking to a rock. I found, on landing, that the formation of the island, like that of Socorro and Narborough Island, is a soft sandstone, which can be cut with a knife as easily as a cake of chocolate.

4th December 1834

The weather was squally, but we reached P. Chagua: the general features of the country remain precisely the same: it is much less thickly inhabited: the whole of the large island of Tanqui has scarcely one cleared spot; the trees on every side extend their branches over the sea.

3rd December 1834

During our last visit, I fancied Chiloe never enjoyed such a day as this; I cannot imagine a more beautiful scene, than the snowy cones of the Cordilleras seen over an inland sea of glass, only here & there rippled by a Porpoise or logger-headed Duck. And I admired this view from a cliff adorned with sweet-smelling evergreens, where the bright colored, smooth trunks, the parasitical plants, the ferns, the arborescent grasses, all reminded me of the Tropics, neither did the temperature recall me to the reality.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
Having passed the night quietly at single anchor, near the north-east point of Socorro, we weighed and continued our route to and fro along the coast, taking angles, soundings, and observations.

2nd December 1834

2nd The day was calm & we only reached the South extreme of Lemuy.*

* In Down House Notebook 1.8, CD wrote: 'I have mentioned having found at Lemuy an beach very much silicified wood — one piece pentrated by Teredo. Likewise I found many fragments on coast above Yal.[?] At last I found in the yellow sandstone a great trunk (structure beautifully clear) throwing off branches: main stem much thicker than my body & standing out from weathering 2 feet. — Central parts generally black & vascular, & structure not visible. — This tree coetaneous (near in position) with the shells of above: it is curious chemical action, such a sandstone in sea, holding such silex in solution: vessels transparent quartz. This observation most important, as proof of general facts of petrified wood. For here the inhabitants firmly believe the process is now going on.'

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
While standing towards distant mountainous land, about the latitude of 45°, we saw a comparatively low and level island;† considerably detached from those which seemed like Tierra del Fuego, being a range of irregular mountains and hills, forming apparently a continuous coast. This level island I have since ascertained to be that formerly called Nuestra Señora del Socorro, where Narborough anchored and landed, in 1670. It was selected in 1740, by Anson, as a rendezvous for his squadron; but no one seemed to know where to look for it: the Anna Pink having made the land in 45°.35′, and the unfortunate Wager in 47°, near Cape Tres Montes. Narborough mentions seeing 'an old Indian hut' on this island; and in a MS. journal, written by Moraleda‡ (now in my possession) it is said that the former natives of the Chonos used to make annual excursions to that as well as other outlying islands. After witnessing the distance to which savages venture in such frail canoes as those of Tierra del Fuego, it does not surprise one to find them going fifteen or twenty miles across an open space of sea in such large canoes as those of the Chonos Indians, which are indeed boats. Fuegian wigwams have been found upon Staten Land and upon Noir Island, each of which is as far from any neighbouring coast as Socorro is from the nearest shore.

While Narborough's ship was under sail, near Socorro, he went in his boat to the island which is nearest to it, by him named Narborough Island. There he landed, and took possession for his Majesty and his heirs.

1st December 1834

We steered for the Isd of Lemuy. — I was anxious to examine a reported coal mine, which turned out to be Lignite of little value in the tertiary Sandstones of which these Islands are composed. — During the day we passed many Chapels; the number of these all over Chiloe is remarkable; every collection even of a few houses has its Capella. When we reached Lemuy we had great difficulty in finding a place for the tents, owing to it being Spring tides & the land being universally wooded to the high water line.

We were soon surrounded by a large group of the nearly pure Indian inhabitants. They were much surprised at our arrival & said one to the other, this is the reason we have seen so many Parrots lately; the Cheucau (an odd red-breasted little bird, which inhabits the thick forest & utters very peculiar noises) has not cried "beware" for nothing. They were soon eager for barter. Money is scarcely worth anything, but their esteem & anxiety for tobacco was something quite extraordinary: after tobacco, indigo came next in value, then capsicum, old clothes & gunpowder; the latter article was required for a very innocent purpose; each parish has a public musket, & the gunpowder was wanted to make a noise on their Saint or Feast days.

The people here live chiefly on shell-fish & potatoes; at certain seasons they catch also, in "Corrales"or hedges under water, many fish which are left as the tide falls dry on the mud-banks. — They occasionally possess fowls, sheep & goats, pigs, horses & cattle, the order in which they are mentioned expressing their frequency. — I never saw anything more obliging & humble than the manners of these people. — They generally begin with stating that they are poor natives of the place & not Spaniards & are in sad want of tobacco and other comforts. At Caylen, the most Southern island, we bought with a stick of tobacco, of the value of three half-pennies, two fowls (one of which the Indian stated had skin between its toes & turned out to be a fine duck): & with some cotton handkerchiefs worth three shillings, we procured three sheep & a large bunch of onions. — All these purchases were transacted under the denomination of money; the stick of tobacco was valued at one shilling & the proportion of a shilling to the half-pennies expresses the profit of the traders with these Islanders.

The Yawl at this place was anchored some way from the shore & we had fears for her safety during the night. Our pilot, Mr Douglas, accordingly told the constable of the district that we always placed sentinels with loaded arms, & not understanding Spanish, if we saw any person in the dark, we should assuredly shoot him. The constable, with much humility, agreed to the propriety of this consequence & promised us that no one should stir out of his house during the night.

30th November 1834

Syms Covington Journal:
Anchored at Castro (the old capital) on Sunday the 30th. This town is situated on the South part of the island of Chiloé, a channel is formed here by the latter and the island of San Pedro. The town is built on a flat tableland about a mile square each way, has a church, but all in ruins, the houses all built of wood. The inhabitants are but few in comparison to what there were when it was the capital.

29th - 30th November 1834

We reached on the Sunday morning Castro, the ancient capital of Chiloe. I never saw before so truly a deserted city. The usual quadrangular arrangement of Spanish towns was to be traced, but the streets & Plaza were coated with fine green turf on which Sheep were browzing. A church, built by that all-powerful order of the Jesuits shortly before their expulsion, is highly picturesque; (Note in margin: It is not the Jesuits Church but the Parochial one.) it is entirely built of plank, even to the roof: it seems wonderful that wood should last for half a century in so wet a climate. The arrival of our boats was a rare event in this quiet retired corner of the world, nearly all the inhabitants came to the beach to see us pitch our tents. They were very civil & offered us a house; & one man even sent us a cask of cyder as a present. In the afternoon we paid our respects to the Governor; a quiet old man, who in his appearance & manner of life was scarcely superior to an English cottager. I afterwards went out riding, to examine the geology of the neighbourhead. The country rises to some height behind the town, it is partly cultivated & pleasant looking. At night rain commenced, which was hardly sufficient to drive away from the tents the large circle of lookers on. An Indian family, who had come to trade in a canoe from Caylen, bivouacked near us: & they had no shelter during the heavy rain: in the morning I asked a young Indian, who was wet to the skin, how he passed the night; — he seemed perfectly content & answered "Muy bien Signor".

27th - 28th November 1834

We had the good luck to have these two days fine, & reached by night the Isd of Quinchao. This neighbourhead is the centre of cultivation; many of the islands are nearly cleared & a broad strip of cleared ground follows the coast of the main Island. I was curious to know the wealth of the Chilotans. — Mr Douglas tells me that no one can be considered to possess a regular income. Each person raises enough for the consumption of his own family & a little more such as hams & potatoes, which are sent in the rude country boats to S. Carlos, where they are exchanged for such articles of clothing as they can not themselves manufacture, & a few other luxuries. — One of the richest landowners, in a long industrious life, might possibly accumulate as much as a thousand pounds sterling; should this happen it would be stowed away in some secret place, for each family generally possesses a hidden jar or chest buried in the ground.

26th November 1834

Having not written in his Journal for weeks, Charles today records one of his longest entries.

The day rose splendidly clear: The Volcano of Osorno was spouting out volumes of smokes; this most beautiful mountain, formed like a perfect cone & white with snow, stands out in front of the Cordillera. Another great Volcano, with a saddle shaped summit, also emitted from its immense crater little jets of steam or white smoke. Subsequently we saw the lofty peaked Corcobado, well deserving the name of "el famoso Corcovado". Thus we saw at one point of view three great active Volcanoes, each of which had an elevation of about seven thousand feet. In addition to this, far to the South, there were other very lofty cones of snow, which although not known to be active must be in their origin volcanic. — The line of the Andes is not, however, in this neighbourhead nearly so elevated as in Chili, neither does it appear to form so perfect a barrier between the regions of the earth. — This great range though running in a North & South line, from an occular deception always appeared more or less semicircular; because the extreme peaks being seen standing above the same horizon with the nearer ones, their much greater distance was not so easily recognized.

When landing on a point to take observations, we saw a family of pure Indian extraction; the father was singularly like to York Minster; some of the younger boys, with their ruddy complexions, might be mistaken for Pampas Indians. Everything I have seen convinces me of the close connection of the different tribes, who yet speak quite distinct languages. — This party could muster but little Spanish & talked to each other in their own dialect. — It is a pleasant thing in any case to see the aboriginal inhabitants, advanced to the same degree of civilization, however low that may be, which their white conquerors have attained. — More to the South we saw many pure Indians, indeed some of the Islands as Chauques &c &c have no other inhabitants but those retaining the Indian surname. — In the census of 1832 there were in Chiloe & its dependencies 42 thousand souls, the greater number of these appear to be little copper-colored men of mixed blood. — Eleven thousand actually retain their Indian surname, but probably not nearly all their pure blood & they are all Christians; dress & manners of living like the rest of the poor inhabitants; cultivating potatoes & picking up, like their brethren in T. del Fuego, shellfish at low water. — They however to this day hold superstitious communication in caves with the devil; the particulars of the ceremony are not known; because formerly every one convicted of this offence was sent to the inquisition at Lima. — Many of the people who are not included in the eleven thousand cannot be told by their appearance from Indians. Gomez, the governor of Lemuy, is descended from noblemen of Spain on both sides, but by constant intermarriages with natives, the present man is an Indian. — On the other hand, the Governor of Quinchao boasts much of his pure Spanish blood. — The Indians belong to the tribes of the Chawes (or Chahues) and Ragunos, who both speak dialects of the Beliche language. — They are not however believed to be the original inhabitants of Chiloe; but rather the Bybenies, who speak quite a distinct language. This nation, when they found so many intruders, migrated, no one knows exactly where; Mr Lowe on a sealing voyage met a large party of Indians in the channels South of C. Tres Montes; they had canoes built of plank like the Periaguas & pulled by oars; & in the head of each canoe there was a cross. — Were not these men descended from the ancient inhabitants of Chiloe? The Chawes & Ragunos are believed to be descended from Indians sent from the North to the first Spanish settlers "en nomiendas commendo", that is to be taught the Christian religion & in return to work, in short be slaves to their Christian teachers; & likewise from a large tribe, who remained faithful at the surprisal of Osorno & other Spanish towns: they were given at first the territory of Cabluco, from whence they have spread over other Islands. — Of the original Bybenies only a few families remain, chiefly in Caylen, & these have lost their own dialect. The Indians yet retain their Caciques, but they scarcely have any power;3 when the land-surveyor or other government officer visits their village the Cacique appears with a silver-headed cane. — (all the above particulars I heard from Mr Douglas who is employed in the boats as a pilot, & has been long resident in the island).

We reached at night a beautiful little cove North of the Isd of Caucahue; the people here were all related one to the other & complained of the want of land. — This is partly owing to their own negligence in not clearing the woods & partly to restrictions of the Government, which makes it necessary before buying ever so small a piece to pay two shillings to the Surveyor for measuring each quadra (150 yards square) & whatever price he fixes for the value of the land. — After his valuation, the land must be put up three times to auction & if no one bids more, the purchaser can have it at that rate. — All these enactions must be a serious check to clearing the ground, where the inhabitants are so extremely poor. — In most countries, forests are removed without much difficulty by the aid of fire, in Chiloe however from the damp nature of the climate & sort of trees, it is necessary first to cut them down: this is a heavy injury to the prosperity of Chiloe. — In the time of the Spaniards the Indians could not hold land; but a family after having cleared a piece of ground might be driven away & the property seized by Government. — The Chilian authorities are now performing an act of justice by making retribution to these poor Indians, by giving to each Cacique twelve quadras of land, to his widow six, to any man who has served in the militia the same number, & to the aged four. — The value of uncleared land is very little. Government gave Mr Douglas, the present surveyor, who was kind enough to give me the above information, eight & a half square miles of forest near S. Carlos in lieu of a debt, this he sold for 350 dollars or about seventy pounds sterling.

Syms Covington Journal:
We were up with the break of day every morning, took breakfast and sailed; and every afternoon found a creek or inlet to anchor in, allowing sufficient time to get every thing that was necessary on shore before dark. During our passage from place to place, we had many fine views of the Cordillera, and also of some of its active volcanoes, from which we could see from the distance, vast volumes of smoke arising, as if from a furnace only on so great a scale.

25th November 1834

Torrents of Rain: we managed however to run down the coast as far as Huapilenou. The whole of this Eastern side of Chiloe has one aspect; it is a plain broken by vallies or divided into little islands, the whole of which are thickly covered with an impervious blackish-green forest. On the margins there are some cleared spaces surrounding high-roofed cottages. The plain in this part is only 100 to 200 ft high, further Southward it is double of this.

24th November 1834

Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published 150 years ago today on the 24 November 1859

The Yawl & whale-boat under the command of Mr Sullivan proceeded to examine the correctness of the charts of the East Coast of Chiloe, & to meet the Beagle at the Southern extremity at the Isd of S. Pedro. — I accompanied the expedition: instead of going in the boats, the first day I hired horses to take me to Chacao. The road followed the coast, every now & then crossing promontories covered with fine forests. — In these shaded paths, it is absolutely necessary to make the whole road of logs of trees, such as described on the main road to Castro. — otherwise the ground is so damp from the suns rays never penetrating the evergreen foliage, that neither man nor horse would be able to pass along. — I arrived at the village of Chacao shortly after the tents belonging to the boats had been pitched. — The land in this neighbourhead is extensively cleared & there are many quiet & most picturesque nooks in the forest. Chacao formerly was the principal port; but many vessels have been lost owing to the dangerous currents & rocks in the Straits; the Spanish government burnt the Church & thus arbitrarily compelled the greater number of inhabitants to migrate to S. Carlos.

In a short time the bare-footed Governor's son came down to reconnoitre us; seeing the English flag hoisted to the yawls mast head 492 he asked with the utmost indifference whether it was always to fly at Chacao. In several places, the inhabitants were much astonished at the appearance of Men of wars boats, & hoped & believed it was the forerunners of a Spanish fleet coming to recover the Island from the patriot Government of Chili. — All the men in power however had been informed of our intended visit & were exceedingly civil. — Whilst eating our supper, the Governor paid us a visit; he had been a Lieut. Colonel in the Spanish service, but was now miserably poor. — He gave us two sheep & accepted in return two cotton handkerchiefs, some brass trinkets & a little tobacco.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
Lieutenant Sulivan set out with the yawl and a whale-boat, to survey the east side of Chilóe and the islets in the Gulf of Ancud. With him were Messrs. Darwin, Usborne, Stewart and Kent; Douglas as a pilot, and ten men. Two days afterwards, the Beagle sailed, to examine the western coast of Chilóe, and the Chonos Archipelago.

Syms Covington Journal:
Left the ship, the 24th at San Carlos. Went in a yawl to survey about the different islands of the archipelago, which are very woody and the ground, moist. We came to an anchor every night; pitched our tents, and of course, slept on shore with a watch, or lookout man, throughout the night. As most of the islands are peopled, we always had plenty of fresh provisions, and the expenses of which were very little, as we often bought a sheep for two or three negro-heads of tobacco; pigs, fowls, eggs, potatoes and bread in like manner. And also milk. The natives were very sociable and willing to oblige in general. Patches of cultivated ground were to be seen on all the islands which we passed and stopt at.

23rd November 1834

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
Mr. Low hired a crew of six men,* and set out. After he had quitted the southernmost place at which provisions could be procured, called Caylin, or 'El fin de la Christiandad,' one of his men† persuaded some of the others‡ to eat up the stock of provisions in the boat as soon as possible, in order that they might be obliged to return without going far. But Low was too much inured to hardship to be so easily diverted from his plan; he went on, directly south, even after his provisions were consumed; obliging them to live for fourteen days upon shell-fish and sea-weed. After exploring much of the Chonos Archipelago, sufficiently to facilitate our survey materially, he returned with his hungry crew to Caylin.
* A Welshman, two Chilotes, a Chilian, and two Sandwich Islanders who had been left at San Carlos by a whaler.

† The Chilian.

‡ The Chilotes and Sandwich Islanders. Taffy remained faithful: he and Low, being able-bodied active men, frightened the rest into reluctant submission.

22nd November 1834

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
When last at San Carlos I proposed to Mr. Low, then serving as pilot on board the Adventure, to pass the time of our absence at Valparaiso, in exploring part of the Chonos Archipelago with a whale-boat belonging to me, and a crew of natives (Chilotes). Low, ever restless and enterprising, entered eagerly into my views; so furnishing him with money, a chart, and a few instruments, I explained where I wished him to go, and when he should be again at San Carlos, all further arrangement being left to him.

21st November 1834

Arrived in the harbor of S. Carlos. Considering the time of year, with almost constant Southerly winds, our passage was a pretty good one. — The island wore quite a pleasing aspect, with the sun shining brightly on the patches of cleared ground & dusky green woods. At night however we were convinced that it was Chiloe, by torrents of rain & a gale of wind.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
On the 21st we arrived at San Carlos, and were pleased to find that Mr. Low had returned safe from his difficult undertaking; and that a person (Mr. Douglas) whom I had engaged to make an excursion to Calbuce and into the forests of 'Alerse,' on the Cordillera of the Andes, had also come back with the required information, and was ready to engage himself to act as a pilot and interpreter.

Valparaiso, November 8th, 1834

Valparaiso, November 8, 1834.

My dear Catherine,

My last letter was rather a gloomy one, for I was not very well when I
wrote it. Now everything is as bright as sunshine. I am quite well again
after being a second time in bed for a fortnight. Captain Fitz-Roy very
generously has delayed the ship ten days on my account, and without at the
time telling me for what reason.

We have had some strange proceedings on board the "Beagle", but which have
ended most capitally for all hands. Captain Fitz-Roy has for the last two
months been working EXTREMELY hard, and at the same time constantly annoyed
by interruptions from officers of other ships; the selling the schooner and
its consequences were very vexatious; the cold manner the Admiralty (solely
I believe because he is a Tory) have treated him, and a thousand other,
etc. etc.'s, has made him very thin and unwell. This was accompanied by a
morbid depression of spirits, and a loss of all decision and resolution...
All that Bynoe [the Surgeon] could say, that it was merely the effect of
bodily health and exhaustion after such application, would not do; he
invalided, and Wickham was appointed to the command. By the instructions
Wickham could only finish the survey of the southern part, and would then
have been obliged to return direct to England. The grief on board the
"Beagle" about the Captain's decision was universal and deeply felt; one
great source of his annoyment was the feeling it impossible to fulfil the
whole instructions; from his state of mind it never occurred to him that
the very instructions ordered him to do as much of the West coast AS HE HAS
TIME FOR, and then proceed across the Pacific.

Wickham (very disinterestedly giving up his own promotion) urged this most
strongly, stated that when he took the command nothing should induce him to
go to Tierra del Fuego again; and then asked the Captain what would be
gained by his resignation? why not do the more useful part, and return as
commanded by the Pacific. The Captain at last, to every one's joy,
consented, and the resignation was withdrawn.

Hurrah! hurrah! it is fixed the "Beagle" shall not go one mile south of
Cape Tres Montes (about 200 miles south of Chiloe), and from that point to
Valparaiso will be finished in about five months. We shall examine the
Chonos Archipelago, entirely unknown, and the curious inland sea behind
Chiloe. For me it is glorious. Cape Tres Montes is the most southern
point where there is much geological interest, as there the modern beds
end. The Captain then talks of crossing the Pacific; but I think we shall
persuade him to finish the Coast of Peru, where the climate is delightful,
the country hideously sterile, but abounding with the highest interest to a
geologist. For the first time since leaving England I now see a clear and
not so distant prospect of returning to you all: crossing the Pacific, and
from Sydney home, will not take much time.

As soon as the Captain invalided I at once determined to leave the
"Beagle", but it was quite absurd what a revolution in five minutes was
effected in all my feelings. I have long been grieved and most sorry at
the interminable length of the voyage (although I never would have quitted
it); but the minute it was all over, I could not make up my mind to return.
I could not give up all the geological castles in the air which I had been
building up for the last two years. One whole night I tried to think over
the pleasure of seeing Shrewsbury again, but the barren plains of Peru
gained the day. I made the following scheme (I know you will abuse me, and
perhaps if I had put it in execution, my father would have sent a mandamus
after me); it was to examine the Cordilleras of Chili during this summer,
and in winter go from port to port on the coast of Peru to Lima, returning
this time next year to Valparaiso, cross the Cordilleras to Buenos Ayres,
and take ship to England. Would not this have been a fine excursion, and
in sixteen months I should have been with you all? To have endured Tierra
del Fuego and not seen the Pacific would have been miserable...

I go on board to-morrow; I have been for the last six weeks in Corfield's
house. You cannot imagine what a kind friend I have found him. He is
universally liked, and respected by the natives and foreigners. Several
Chileno Signoritas are very obligingly anxious to become the signoras of
this house. Tell my father I have kept my promise of being extravagant in
Chili. I have drawn a bill of 100 pounds (had it not better be notified to
Messrs. Robarts & Co.); 50 pounds goes to the Captain for the ensuing year,
and 30 pounds I take to sea for the small ports; so that bona fide I have
not spent 180 pounds during these last four months. I hope not to draw
another bill for six months. All the foregoing particulars were only
settled yesterday. It has done me more good than a pint of medicine, and I
have not been so happy for the last year. If it had not been for my
illness, these four months in Chili would have been very pleasant. I have
had ill luck, however, in only one little earthquake having happened. I
was lying in bed when there was a party at dinner in the house; on a sudden
I heard such a hubbub in the dining-room; without a word being spoken, it
was devil take the hindmost who should get out first; at the same moment I
felt my bed SLIGHTLY vibrate in a lateral direction. The party were old
stagers, and heard the noise which always precedes a shock; and no old
stager looks at an earthquake with philosophical eyes...

Good-bye to you all; you will not have another letter for some time.

My dear Catherine,
Yours affectionately,

My best love to my father, and all of you. Love to Nancy.

9th November 1834

Capt FitzRoy very kindly delayed the sailing of the Ship [till the 10th of November] by which time I was quite well again. — During my absence, some great changes took place in the affairs of the expedition. The Adventure was sold; in consequence Mr Wickham has returned as 1st Lieutenant: Every one feels the want of room occasioned by this change; it is indeed in every point of view a great but unavoidable evil. Only one good has resulted, that necessarily the perfecting of the former survey in Tierra del Fuego is given up & the Voyage has become more definite in its length.

Mr Martens, the artist has been obliged from want of room to leave the Beagle.

[As someone who has very much enjoyed Conrad’s sketches, I’m sorry to see him go - RR]

8th November 1834

In a letter to Catherine Darwin dated 8 November, CD wrote: "Capt FitzRoy has for the last two months, been working extremely hard & at same time constantly annoyed by interruptions from officers of other ships: the selling the Schooner & its consequences were very vexatious: the cold manner the Admiralty (solely I believe because he is a Tory) have treated him, & a thousand other &c &c has made him very thin & unwell. This was accompanied by a morbid depression of spirits, & a loss of all decision & resolution. The Captain was afraid that his mind was becoming deranged (being aware of his heredetary predisposition). All that Bynoe could say, that it was merely the effect of bodily health & exhaustion after such application, would not do; he invalided & Wickham was appointed to the command. By the instructions Wickham could only finish the survey of the Southern part & would then have been obliged to return direct to England.

The grief on board the Beagle about the Captains decision was universal & deeply felt. One great source of his annoyment, was the feeling it impossible to fulfil the whole instructions; from his state of mind, it never occurred to him, that the very instructions order him to do as much of West coast, as he has time for & then proceed across the Pacific. Wickham (very disinterestedly, giving up his own promotion) urged this most strongly, stating that when he took the command, nothing should induce him to go to T. del Fuego again; & then asked the Captain, what would be gained by his resignation. Why not do the more useful part & return as commanded by the Pacific. The Captain, at last, to every ones joy consented & the resignation was withdrawn."

October 1834 (4)

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
I now proposed, first, to go to San Carlos, there set two of our boats at work among the islands eastward of the large island, while the Beagle would survey the more exposed coasts, those to the west and south; then the ship was to examine the seaward shores of the Chonos archipelago, while another of her boats was employed among those islands; and, the Chonos explored, she would return to San Carlos, collect her scattered parties, and proceed along the coast, northwards, taking all the ports and islands in her way.

October 1834 (3)

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
All on board partook, more or less, of the mortification caused by parting with our consort, just as she was most wanted, and most able to take an effective part; and I confess that my own feelings and health were so much altered in consequence — so deprived of their former elasticity and soundness — that I could myself no longer bear the thoughts of such a prolonged separation from my country, as I had encouraged others to think lightly of, while I could hold out to them the prospect of seeing as well as doing a great deal among the islands of the Pacific, besides completing the surveys of Chile and Peru.

October 1834 (2)

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
I had asked to be allowed to bear twenty additional seamen on the Beagle's books, whose pay and provisions would then be provided by Government, being willing to defray every other expense myself; but even this was refused. As soon as my mind was made up, after a most painful struggle, I discharged the Adventure's crew, took the officers back to the Beagle, and sold the vessel.

October 1834 (1)

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
At this time I was made to feel and endure a bitter disappointment; the mortification it caused preyed deeply, and the regret is still vivid. I found that it would be impossible for me to maintain the Adventure much longer: my own means had been taxed, even to involving myself in difficulties, and as the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty did not think it proper to give me any assistance, I saw that all my cherished hopes of examining many groups of islands in the Pacific, besides making a complete survey of the Chilian and Peruvian shores, must utterly fail.

A hiatus

With Charles being sick (see last post) there are no diary entries until the 10th November. So until that time I will be using various of Charles' letters and Fitzroy's Journal for the period to fill the gap. But stay tuned, there is still SO much to anticipate, including, of course, the Beagle's visit to the Galapagos.

By the time the diary resumes, Conrad Martens will have left the Beagle. Above is an image by Conrad, made just before the Beagle voyage, of a view from Lympstone in the Exe estuary in Devon, only a few miles from my home. It is completely unchanged today. I have a watercolour by a local artist made around 15 years ago of the same view ~ the likeness is uncanny, yet coincidental.

27th September 1834

Here I remained in bed till the end of October.

In a letter to Caroline Darwin CD wrote: 'I have been unwell & in bed for the last fortnight, & am now only able to sit up for a short time. As I want occupation I will try & fill this letter. — Returning from my excursion into the country I staid a few days at some Goldmines & whilst there I drank some Chichi a very weak, sour new made wine, this half poisoned me, I staid till I thought I was well; but my first days ride, which was a long one again disordered my stomach, & afterwards I could not get well; I quite lost my appetite & became very weak. I had a long distance to travel & suffered very much; at last I arrived here quite exhausted. It was a grievous loss of time, as I had hoped to have collected many animals.

26th September 1834

I sent to Valparaiso for a carriage & so reached the next day Mr Corfields house.

25th September 1834

Necessity made me push on & I contrived to reach Casa Blanca. it was wretched work. To be ill in a bed is almost a pleasure compared to it.

24th September 1834

Our course now lay directly to Valparaiso, still passing over the same plains. At night I was exceedingly exhausted; but had the uncommon luck of obtaining some clean straw for my bed. I was amused afterwards by reflecting how truly comparative all comfort is. If I had been in England & very unwell, clean straw & stinking horse cloths would have been thought a very miserable bed.

23rd September 1834

I staid here the whole ensuing day, & although very unwell managed to collect many marine remains from beds of the tertiary formation of which these plains consist.

The presence there of beds of early Tertiary rocks 800 feet thick containing fossil shells that could only have lived in shallow water provided useful proof for Darwin's theory that at such places there must have been a slow subsidence of the sea-bottom in a previous era.

22nd September 1834

Continued crossing green plains without a tree, which almost resembled the Pampas, till we arrived at the village of Navedad, South of the mouth of the R. Rapel. We passed during the day immense flocks of sheep, which appear to thrive better than the cattle. We found a rich Haciendero, who received us in his house close to the sea.

21st September 1834

Rode but a short distance & obliged to rest.

20th September 1834

We followed this vally till it expanded into a great plain which reaches from the sea to the mountains West of Rancagua. We shortly lost all trees & even bushes; the inhabitants are nearly as badly off for fire-wood as in the Pampas. Never having heard of these plains, I was quite astonished to meet with such a country in Chill. These plains are traversed by numerous great valleys, & there is more than one set of plains, all of which plainly bespeaks the residence & retreat of the ocean. In the steep sides of these valleys, there are some large caves; one of which is celebrated as having been consecrated: Formerly the Indians must have buried their dead in it, as various remains have been found. I felt during the day very unwell, & from this time to the end of October did not recover.

19th September 1834

We took leave of Yaquil & followed the flat valley, formed like Quillota, in which the R. Tinderidica flows. — The climate even this little way South of St Jago is much damper: in consequence there were fine tracks of pasture ground which were not irrigated.

17th September 1834

In Mr Nixons house a German collector Renous was staying. I was amused by a conversation which ensued between Renous (who is taken for a Chilian) & an old Spanish lawyer. Renous asked him what he thought of the King of England sending out me to their country to collect Lizards & beetles & to break rocks. The old Gentleman thought for some time & said, "it is not well, hay un gato encerrado aqui" "there is a cat shut up here"; no man is so rich as to send persons to pick up such rubbish; I do not like it; if one of us was to go & do such things in England, the King would very soon send us out of the country". And this old gentleman, from his profession is of course one of the more intelligent classes! Renous himself, two or three years ago, left some Caterpillars in a house in S. Fernando under charge of a girl to turn into Butterflies. This was talked about in the town, at last the Padres & the Governor consulted together & agreed it must be some Heresy, & accordingly Renous when he returned was arrested.

16th September 1834

One of the rules of this mine sounds very harsh, but answers pretty well. The method of stealing gold is to secrete pieces of the metal & take them out as occasion may offer. Whenever the Major-domo finds a lump of ore thus hidden, its full value is stopped out of the wages of all the men, who thus are obliged to keep watch on each other. The ore is sent down to the mills on mules. I was curious to enquire about the load which each mule carries: on a level road the regular cargo weighs 416 pounds. In a troop there is a muleteer to every six mules. Yet to carry this enormous weight, what delicate slim limbs they have; the bulk of muscle seems to bear no proportion to its power. The mule always strikes me as a most surprising animal: that a Hybrid should possess far more reason, memory, obstinacy, powers of digestion & muscular endurance, than either of its parents. One fancys art has here out-mastered Nature.

When the ore is brought to the Mill it is ground into an impalpable powder; the process of washing takes away the lighter particles & amalgamation at last secures all the gold dust. The washing when described sounds a very simple process: but it is at the same time beautiful to see how the exact adaptation of the current of water to the Specific Gravity of the gold so easily separates it from its matrix. It is curious how the minute particles of gold become scattered about, & not corroding, at last accumulate even in the least likely spots. Some men asked permission to sweep the ground round the house & mill; they washed the earth & obtained 30 dollars worth of gold.

15th September 1834

When we arrived at the mine, I was struck by the pale appearance of many of the men, & enquired from Mr Nixon respecting their state. The mine is altogether 450 feet deep, each man brings up on his back a quintal or 104lbs weight of stone. With this load they have to climb up the alternate notches cut in a trunks of trees placed obliquely in the shaft. Even beardless young men of 18 & 20 years with little muscular development of their bodies (they are quite naked excepting drawers) carry this great load from nearly the same depth. — A strong man, who is not accustomed to this sort of exercise perspires most profusely with merely carrying their own bodies up. — With this very severe labor they are allowed only beans & bread; they would prefer living entirely upon the latter; but with this they cannot work so hard, so that their masters, treating them like horses, make them eat the beans. — Their pay is 25 or 30s per month. — They only leave the mine once in three weeks, when they remain with their families two days. — This treatment, bad as it sounds, is gladly accepted; the state of the labouring Agriculturist is much worse, many of them eat nothing but beans & have still less money. — This must be chiefly owing to the miserable feudal-like system by which the land is tilled. The land-owner gives so much land to a man, which he may cultivate & build on, & in return has his services (or a proxy) for every day for his life gratis. Till a father has a grown up son to pay his rent by his labor, of course there is no one to take care of the patch of ground. Hence poverty is very common with all the labouring classes.

14th September 1834

From this place we rode on to the town of S. Fernando. — Before arriving there, the inland basin expands into a great plain, which to the South is so extensive that the snowy summits of the distant Andes were seen as over the horizon of the sea. — S. Fernando was my furthest point to the South, it is 40 leagues from St Jago. From this point I turned at right angles to seaward. — We slept at the gold mines of Yaquil near Rancagua, in the possession of Mr Nixon, an American gentleman. — I staid at this place four days, during two of which I was unwell. — Where Mr Nixon lives the Trapiche or grinding mill is erected; the mine itself is at the distance of some leagues & nearly at the summit of [a] high hill. On the road we passed through some large woods of the Roble or Chilian oak; this tree from its ruggedness & shape of leaf & manner of growth deserves its name. (Note in margin: The Roble of Chili is different from the Roble of Chiloe.) This is its furthest limit to the North. I was glad to see anything which so strongly reminded me of England. — To the South there was a fine view of the Andes including the Descabezado described by Molina. — To the North I saw part of the lake of Taguatagua, with its floating islands: these islands are composed of various dead plants; with living vegetation on the surface, they float about 4 feet above the surface: as the wind blows they pass over the lake, carrying with them cattle & horses.

13th September 1834

We escaped from our foodless prison, & rejoining the main road slept at the village of Rio Claro.

11th September 1834

During my stay at this place, I had observed that there were very few Condors to be seen; yet one morning there were at least twenty wheeling at a great height over a particular spot: I asked a Guasso what was the cause, he said that probably a Lion had killed a cow or that one was dying; if the Condors alight & then suddenly all fly up; the cry is then "a Lion" & all hurry to the chace. — Capt Head states that a Gaucho exclaimed "a Lion" upon merely seeing one wheeling in the air. — I do not see how this is possible. The Lion after killing an animal & eating of it, covers the carcase up with large bushes & lies down at a few yards distance to watch it. If the Condors alight, he springs out & drives them away, & by this means commonly discovers himself. There is a reward of Colts & Cows. — I am assured that if a Lion has once been hunted, he never again watches the carcase, but eating his fill, wanders far away. They describe the Lion in these hunts as very crafty; he will run in a straight line & then suddenly return close to his former track & thus allow the dogs to pass by & completely puzzle them. The Guasso's possess a particular breed of small dogs, which by instinct (like pointers set) know how to spring at the Lions throat & will very commonly kill him single-handed. The man at the baths had one. I never saw a more miserable creature to attempt fighting with so large an animal as the Puma. — From the uneven nature of the country nearly all these animals must be killed with dogs. — It is rather singular that the Lions on this side of the Cordilleras, appear to be much more dangerous than on the other. At Jajuel I heard of a man being killed & here of a woman & child; now this never happens in the Pampas. There being no deer or ostriches in Chili obliges them to kill a far greater number of Cattle; by this means perhaps they learn to attack a man. — It would also appear that the Lion is here more noisy, roaring when hungry & when breeding.

9th September 1834

I rode one day to the last house in the valley; shortly above, the Cachapual divides into 2 deep tremendous ravines which penetrate right into the great range. I scrambled up one very high peaked mountain, the height of which could not be much less than 6000 feet; here, as indeed everywhere else scenes presented themselves of the highest interest. — It was by one of these ravines (valle del Yeso) that Pinchero entered & ravaged Chili. — This is the same man whose attack on an Estancia at R. Negro I have described. — He was a Renegade Spaniard, who collected a great body of Indians together, & established himself by a stream in the Pampas, which none of the forces sent after him could ever find.— From this point he sallied forth, & crossing the Cordilleras by unknown passes, ravaged Chili & drove the flocks of cattle to his own recret rendezvous. — This man was a capital horseman, & he made all round him equally good, for he invariably shot any person who even hesitated to follow him. It was against this man & other wandering tribes of true Indians, that Rosas waged the war of exterminations. — I have since heard from B. Ayres, that this was not so completely effected as it was supposed. The Indians had decamped 8 or 10 hundred miles & were hovering in great numbers about the borders of Cordova.

7th September 1834

Left the great road to the South, turned up the valley of the R. Cachapol to the hot-baths of Cauquenes, long celebrated for medicinal properties. We were obliged to cross the above river; it is very disagreeable crossing these torrents; the bed is composed of very large stones, they are shallow & broad, but foaming with the rapidity with which they run. When in the middle it is almost difficult to tell whether your horse is moving or standing still; the water rushes by so quick that it quite confuses the head. — In summer these torrents are of course quite impassable, the scene of violence which their beds show at this time of year may give one some idea of their strength & fury. Generally the Suspension bridges which are necessary for the Summer, are taken down during the winter & this was the case in the present instance.

The buildings attached to these Hot Springs consist of a square of hovels, each with a table & stool. The situation is in a narrow deep valley not far from the Andes, there are only one or two houses higher up. — It is a solitary quiet spot with a good deal of beauty. — I staid here five days, being detained a prisoner during the last two by heavy rain; & this has been the last rain which has fallen this summer in Chili.

6th September 1934

Rode on to Rancagua, never leaving the level plain. — the country here is divided by mud walls & hedges, like England & of course well irrigated.

5th September 1834

I had arrived here by a circuit to the North, & I determined to return to Valparaiso by a longer circuit to the South. By the middle of the day we crossed one of the famous suspension bridges of Hide. — They are miserable affairs & much out of order. — the road is not level as at the Menai, but follows the curvature of the suspending ropes. — the road part is made of bundles of sticks & full of holes; the bridge oscillates rather fearfully with the weight of a man leading a horse. — In the evening we reached a very nice Hacienda; where there were several very pretty Signoritas; they turned up their charming eyes in pious horror at my having entered a Church to look about me; they asked me, why I did not become a Christian, "for our religion is certain"; I assured them I was a sort of Christian; they would not hear of it, appealing to my own words, "Do not your padres, your very bishops, marry" The absurdity of a Bishop having a wife particularly struck them, they scarcely knew whether to be most amused or horrified at such an atrocity.

1st September 1834

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

31st August 2009

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

From “The Voyage of the Beagle”

28th August 1834

I staid a week in St Jago & enjoyed myself very much: in the mornings I rode to various places in the plain, & in the evenings dined with different merchants. A never failing source of delight was to mount the little pap of rock (Fort of St Lucia) which stands in the middle of the city; the scenery certainly is very striking, & as I have said, very peculiar. I am informed that this same character is common to some of the Mexican cities. Of the town itself there is nothing to be said; generally it is not so fine or so large as B. Ayres, but built on same model.

27th August 1834

[Modern Santiago]

After crossing many low hills we descended into the small land-locked plain of Guitròn. In these basins which are elevated from 1000 to 2000 feet above the sea, two species of Acacia, which are stunted in their forms, and stand wide apart from each other, grow in great numbers. I do not know the cause, but they never seem to live near the sea, & this gives another characteristic mark to the scenery of these basins. We crossed a low ridge which separates Guitron from the plain on which St Jago stands: the view was here preeminently striking, the dead level surface, covered in parts by woods of Acacia, & with the city in the distance, abutted horizontally against the base of the Andes, their snowy peaks bright with the evening sun. This was one of those views, where immediate inspection convinced me that a plain now represents the extent of a former inland sea. There was equally little doubt, how much more beautiful a foreground a plain makes, where distances can be measured, than an expanse of water. We pushed our horses into a gallop & reached the city before it was dark.