29th September 1836
Azores to Falmouth
Among the scenes which are deeply impressed on my mind, none exceed in sublimity the primeval forests, undefaced by the hand of man, whether those of Brazil, where the powers of life are predominant, or those of Tierra del Fuego, where death & decay prevail. Both are temples filled with the varied productions of the God of Nature: — No one can stand unmoved in these solitudes, without feeling that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body. — In calling up images of the past, I find the plains of Patagonia most frequently cross before my eyes. Yet these plains are pronounced by all most wretched & useless. They are only characterized by negative possessions; — without habitations, without water, without trees, without mountains, they support merely a few dwarf plants. Why then, and the case is not peculiar to myself, do these arid wastes take so firm possession of the memory? Why have not the still more level, greener & fertile Pampas, which are serviceable to mankind, produced an equal impression? I can scarcely analyse these feelings. — But it must be partly owing to the free scope given to the imagination. They are boundless, for they are scarcely practicable & hence unknown: they bear the stamp of having thus lasted for ages, & there appears no limit to their duration through future time. If, as the ancients supposed, the flat earth was surrounded by an impassable breadth of water, or by deserts heated to an intolerable excess, who would not look at these last boundaries to man's knowledge with deep, but ill defined sensations. — Lastly of natural scenery, the views from lofty mountains, though certainly in one sense not beautiful, are very memorable. I remember looking down from the crest of the highest Cordillera; the mind, undisturbed by minute details, was filled by the stupendous dimensions of the surrounding masses.
Of individual objects, perhaps no one is more sure to create astonishment, than the first sight, in his native haunt, of a real barbarian, — of man in his lowest and most savage state. One's mind hurries back over past centuries, & then asks could our progenitors be such as these? Men, — whose very signs & expressions are less intelligible to us than those of the domesticated animals; who do not possess the instinct of those animals, nor yet appear to boast of human reason, or at least of arts consequent on that reason. I do not believe it is possible to describe or paint the difference of savage and civilized man. It is the difference between a wild and tame animal: and part of the interest in beholding a savage is the same which would lead every one to desire to see the lion in his desert, the tiger tearing his prey in the jungle, the rhinoceros on the wide plain, or the hippopotamus wallowing in the mud of some African river.
Syms Covington Journal
The ship ran at times ten knots and six tenths. The following morning it blew a heavy gale, so that the ship was hove too under a close reefed maintopsail and storm staysail at same time. We were about 500 miles from the Lands End. The sea went down greatly in course of the day.
Posted by Arborfield at 08:27