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Buenos Ayres And St. Fe

Excursion to St. Fe -- Thistle Beds -- Habits of the Bizcacha -- Little Owl -- Saline Streams -- Level Plain -- Mastodon -- St. Fe -- Change in Landscape -- Geology -- Tooth of extinct Horse -- Relation of the Fossil and recent Quadrupeds of North and South America -- Effects of a great Drought -- Parana -- Habits of the Jaguar -- Scissor-beak -- Kingfisher, Parrot, and Scissor-tail -- Revolution -- Buenos Ayres State of Government.

SEPTEMBER 27th. -- In the evening I set out on an excursion to St. Fe, which is situated nearly three hundred English miles from Buenos Ayres, on the banks of the Parana. The roads in the neighbourhood of the city after the rainy weather, were extraordinarily bad. I should never have thought it possible for a bullock waggon to have crawled along: as it was, they scarcely went at the rate of a mile an hour, and a man was kept ahead, to survey the best line for making the attempt. The bullocks were terribly jaded: it is a great mistake to suppose that with improved roads, and an accelerated rate of travelling, the sufferings of the animals increase in the same proportion. We passed a train of waggons and a troop of beasts on their road to Mendoza. The distance is about 580 geographical miles, and the journey is generally performed in fifty days. These waggons are very long, narrow, and thatched with reeds; they have only two wheels, the diameter of which in some cases is as much as ten feet. Each is drawn by six bullocks, which are urged on by a goad at least twenty feet long: this is suspended from within the roof; for the wheel bullocks a smaller one is kept; and for the intermediate pair, a point projects at right angles from the middle of the long one.

The whole apparatus looked like some implement of war.

September 28th. -- We passed the small town of Luxan where there is a wooden bridge over the river -- a most unusual convenience in this country. We passed also Areco. The plains appeared level, but were not so in fact; for in various places the horizon was distant. The estancias are here wide apart; for there is little good pasture, owing to the land being covered by beds either of an acrid clover, or of the great thistle. The latter, well known from the animated description given by Sir F. Head, were at this time of the year two-thirds grown; in some parts they were as high as the horse's back, but in others they had not yet sprung up, and the ground was bare and dusty as on a turnpike- road. The clumps were of the most brilliant green, and they made a pleasing miniature-likeness of broken forest land. When the thistles are full grown, the great beds are impenetrable, except by a few tracts, as intricate as those in a labyrinth. These are only known to the robbers, who at this season inhabit them, and sally forth at night to rob and cut throats with impunity. Upon asking at a house whether robbers were numerous, I was answered, "The thistles are not up yet;" -- the meaning of which reply was not at first very obvious. There is little interest in passing over these tracts, for they are inhabited by few animals or birds, excepting the bizcacha and its friend the little owl.

The bizcacha [1] is well known to form a prominent feature in the zoology of the Pampas. It is found as far south as the Rio Negro, in lat. 41 degs., but not beyond. It cannot, like the agouti, subsist on the gravelly and desert plains of Patagonia, but prefers a clayey or sandy soil, which produces a different and more abundant vegetation. Near Mendoza, at the foot of the Cordillera, it occurs in close neighbourhood with the allied alpine species. It is a very curious circumstance in its geographical distribution, that it has never been seen, fortunately for the inhabitants of Banda Oriental, to the eastward of the river Uruguay: yet in this province there are plains which appear admirably adapted to its habits. The Uruguay has formed an insuperable obstacle to its migration: although the broader barrier of the Parana has been passed, and the bizcacha is common in Entre Rios, the province between these two great rivers. Near Buenos Ayres these animals are exceedingly common. Their most favourite resort appears to be those parts of the plain which during one-half of the year are covered with giant thistles, to the exclusion of other plants. The Gauchos affirm that it lives on roots; which, from the great strength of its gnawing teeth, and the kind of places frequented by it, seems probable. In the evening the bizcachas come out in numbers, and quietly sit at the mouths of their burrows on their haunches. At such times they are very tame, and a man on horseback passing by seems only to present an object for their grave contemplation. They run very awkwardly, and when running out of danger, from their elevated tails and short front legs much resemble great rats. Their flesh, when cooked, is very white and good, but it is seldom used.

The bizcacha has one very singular habit; namely, dragging every hard object to the mouth of its burrow: around each group of holes many bones of cattle, stones, thistle- stalks, hard lumps of earth, dry dung, etc., are collected into an irregular heap, which frequently amounts to as much as a wheelbarrow would contain. I was credibly informed that a gentleman, when riding on a dark night, dropped his watch; he returned in the morning, and by searching the neighbourhood of every bizcacha hole on the line of road, as he expected, he soon found it. This habit of picking up whatever may be lying on the ground anywhere near its habitation, must cost much trouble. For what purpose it is done, I am quite unable to form even the most remote conjecture: it cannot be for defence, because the rubbish is chiefly placed above the mouth of the burrow, which enters the ground at a very small inclination. No doubt there must exist some good reason; but the inhabitants of the country are quite ignorant of it. The only fact which I know analogous to it, is the habit of that extraordinary Australian bird, the Calodera maculata, which makes an elegant vaulted passage of twigs for playing in, and which collects near the spot, land and sea-shells, bones and the feathers of birds, especially brightly coloured ones. Mr. Gould, who has described these facts, informs me, that the natives, when they lose any hard object, search the playing passages, and he has known a tobacco- pipe thus recovered.

The little owl (Athene cunicularia), which has been so often mentioned, on the plains of Buenos Ayres exclusively inhabits the holes of the bizcacha; but in Banda Oriental it is its own workman. During the open day, but more especially in the evening, these birds may be seen in every direction standing frequently by pairs on the hillock near their burrows. If disturbed they either enter the hole, or, uttering a shrill harsh cry, move with a remarkably undulatory flight to a short distance, and then turning round, steadily gaze at their pursuer. Occasionally in the evening they may be heard hooting. I found in the stomachs of two which I opened the remains of mice, and I one day saw a small snake killed and carried away. It is said that snakes are their common prey during the daytime. I may here mention, as showing on what various kinds of food owls subsist, that a species killed among the islets of the Chonos Archipelago, had its stomach full of good-sized crabs. In India [2] there is a fishing genus of owls, which likewise catches crabs.

In the evening we crossed the Rio Arrecife on a simple raft made of barrels lashed together, and slept at the post- house on the other side. I this day paid horse-hire for thirty-one leagues; and although the sun was glaring hot I was but little fatigued. When Captain Head talks of riding fifty leagues a day, I do not imagine the distance is equal to 150 English miles. At all events, the thirty-one leagues was only 76 miles in a straight line, and in an open country I should think four additional miles for turnings would be a sufficient allowance.

29th and 30th. -- We continued to ride over plains of the same character. At San Nicolas I first saw the noble river of the Parana. At the foot of the cliff on which the town stands, some large vessels were at anchor. Before arriving at Rozario, we crossed the Saladillo, a stream of fine clear running water, but too saline to drink. Rozario is a large town built on a dead level plain, which forms a cliff about sixty feet high over the Parana. The river here is very broad, with many islands, which are low and wooded, as is also the opposite shore. The view would resemble that of a great lake, if it were not for the linear-shaped islets, which alone give the idea of running water. The cliffs are the most picturesque part; sometimes they are absolutely perpendicular, and of a red colour; at other times in large broken masses, covered with cacti and mimosa-trees. The real grandeur, however, of an immense river like this, is derived from reflecting how important a means of communication and commerce it forms between one nation and another; to what a distance it travels, and from how vast a territory it drains the great body of fresh water which flows past your feet.

For many leagues north and south of San Nicolas and Rozario, the country is really level. Scarcely anything which travellers have written about its extreme flatness, can be considered as exaggeration. Yet I could never find a spot where, by slowly turning round, objects were not seen at greater distances in some directions than in others; and this manifestly proves inequality in the plain. At sea, a person's eye being six feet above the surface of the water, his horizon is two miles and four-fifths distant. In like manner, the more level the plain, the more nearly does the horizon approach within these narrow limits; and this, in my opinion, entirely destroys that grandeur which one would have imagined that a vast level plain would have possessed.

October 1st. - We started by moonlight and arrived at the Rio Tercero by sunrise. The river is also called the Saladillo, and it deserves the name, for the water is brackish. I stayed here the greater part of the day, searching for fossil bones. Besides a perfect tooth of the Toxodon, and many scattered bones, I found two immense skeletons near each other, projecting in bold relief from the perpendicular cliff of the Parana. They were, however, so completely decayed, that I could only bring away small fragments of one of the great molar teeth; but these are sufficient to show that the remains belonged to a Mastodon, probably to the same species with that, which formerly must have inhabited the Cordillera in Upper Peru in such great numbers. The men who took me in the canoe, said they had long known of these skeletons, and had often wondered how they had got there: the necessity of a theory being felt, they came to the conclusion that, like the bizcacha, the mastodon was formerly a burrowing animal! In the evening we rode another stage, and crossed the Monge, another brackish stream, bearing the dregs of the washings of the Pampas.

October 2nd. -- We passed through Corunda, which, from the luxuriance of its gardens, was one of the prettiest villages I saw. From this point to St. Fe the road is not very safe. The western side of the Parana northward, ceases to be inhabited; and hence the Indians sometimes come down thus far, and waylay travellers. The nature of the country also favours this, for instead of a grassy plain, there is an open woodland, composed of low prickly mimosas. We passed some houses that had been ransacked and since deserted; we saw also a spectacle, which my guides viewed with high satisfaction; it was the skeleton of an Indian with the dried skin hanging on the bones, suspended to the branch of a tree.

In the morning we arrived at St. Fe. I was surprised to observe how great a change of climate a difference of only three degrees of latitude between this place and Buenos Ayres had caused. This was evident from the dress and complexion of the men -- from the increased size of the ombu-trees -- the number of new cacti and other plants -- and especially from the birds. In the course of an hour I remarked half-a-dozen birds, which I had never seen at Buenos Ayres. Considering that there is no natural boundary between the two places, and that the character of the country is nearly similar, the difference was much greater than I should have expected.

October 3rd and 4th. -- I was confined for these two days to my bed by a headache. A good-natured old woman, who attended me, wished me to try many odd remedies. A common practice is, to bind an orange-leaf or a bit of black plaster to each temple: and a still more general plan is, to split a bean into halves, moisten them, and place one on each temple, where they will easily adhere. It is not thought proper ever to remove the beans or plaster, but to allow them to drop off, and sometimes, if a man, with patches on his head, is asked, what is the matter? he will answer, "I had a headache the day before yesterday." Many of the remedies used by the people of the country are ludicrously strange, but too disgusting to be mentioned. One of the least nasty is to kill and cut open two puppies and bind them on each side of a broken limb. Little hairless dogs are in great request to sleep at the feet of invalids.

St. Fe is a quiet little town, and is kept clean and in good order. The governor, Lopez, was a common soldier at the time of the revolution; but has now been seventeen years in power. This stability of government is owing to his tyrannical habits; for tyranny seems as yet better adapted to these countries than republicanism. The governor's favourite occupation is hunting Indians: a short time since he slaughtered forty-eight, and sold the children at the rate of three or four pounds apiece.

October 5th. -- We crossed the Parana to St. Fe Bajada, a town on the opposite shore. The passage took some hours, as the river here consisted of a labyrinth of small streams, separated by low wooded islands. I had a letter of introduction to an old Catalonian Spaniard, who treated me with the most uncommon hospitality. The Bajada is the capital of Entre Rios. In 1825 the town contained 6000 inhabitants, and the province 30,000; yet, few as the inhabitants are, no province has suffered more from bloody and desperate revolutions. They boast here of representatives, ministers, a standing army, and governors: so it is no wonder that they have their revolutions. At some future day this must be one of the richest countries of La Plata. The soil is varied and productive; and its almost insular form gives it two grand lines of communication by the rivers Parana and Uruguay.

I was delayed here five days, and employed myself in examining the geology of the surrounding country, which was very interesting. We here see at the bottom of the cliffs, beds containing sharks' teeth and sea-shells of extinct species, passing above into an indurated marl, and from that into the red clayey earth of the Pampas, with its calcareous concretions and the bones of terrestrial quadrupeds. This vertical section clearly tells us of a large bay of pure salt- water, gradually encroached on, and at last converted into the bed of a muddy estuary, into which floating carcasses were swept. At Punta Gorda, in Banda Oriental, I found an alternation of the Pampaean estuary deposit, with a limestone containing some of the same extinct sea-shells; and this shows either a change in the former currents, or more probably an oscillation of level in the bottom of the ancient estuary. Until lately, my reasons for considering the Pampaean formation to be an estuary deposit were, its general appearance, its position at the mouth of the existing great river the Plata, and the presence of so many bones of terrestrial quadrupeds: but now Professor Ehrenberg has had the kindness to examine for me a little of the red earth, taken from low down in the deposit, close to the skeletons of the mastodon, and he finds in it many infusoria, partly salt-water and partly fresh-water forms, with the latter rather preponderating; and therefore, as he remarks, the water must have been brackish. M. A. d'Orbigny found on the banks of the Parana, at the height of a hundred feet, great beds of an estuary shell, now living a hundred miles lower down nearer the sea; and I found similar shells at a less height on the banks of the Uruguay; this shows that just before the Pampas was slowly elevated into dry land, the water covering it was brackish. Below Buenos Ayres there are upraised beds of sea-shells of existing species, which also proves that the period of elevation of the Pampas was within the recent period.

In the Pampaean deposit at the Bajada I found the osseous armour of a gigantic armadillo-like animal, the inside of which, when the earth was removed, was like a great cauldron; I found also teeth of the Toxodon and Mastodon, and one tooth of a Horse, in the same stained and decayed state. This latter tooth greatly interested me, [3] and I took scrupulous care in ascertaining that it had been embedded contemporaneously with the other remains; for I was not then aware that amongst the fossils from Bahia Blanca there was a horse's tooth hidden in the matrix: nor was it then known with certainty that the remains of horses are common in North America. Mr. Lyell has lately brought from the United States a tooth of a horse; and it is an interesting fact, that Professor Owen could find in no species, either fossil or recent, a slight but peculiar curvature characterizing it, until he thought of comparing it with my specimen found here: he has named this American horse Equus curvidens. Certainly it is a marvellous fact in the history of the Mammalia, that in South America a native horse should have lived and disappeared, to be succeeded in after- ages by the countless herds descended from the few introduced with the Spanish colonists!

The existence in South America of a fossil horse, of the mastodon, possibly of an elephant, [4] and of a hollow-horned ruminant, discovered by MM. Lund and Clausen in the caves of Brazil, are highly interesting facts with respect to the geographical distribution of animals. At the present time, if we divide America, not by the Isthmus of Panama, but by the southern part of Mexico [5] in lat. 20 degs., where the great table-land presents an obstacle to the migration of species, by affecting the climate, and by forming, with the exception of some valleys and of a fringe of low land on the coast, a broad barrier; we shall then have the two zoological provinces of North and South America strongly contrasted with each other. Some few species alone have passed the barrier, and may be considered as wanderers from the south, such as the puma, opossum, kinkajou, and peccari. South America is characterized by possessing many peculiar gnawers, a family of monkeys, the llama, peccari, tapir, opossums, and, especially, several genera of Edentata, the order which includes the sloths, ant-eaters, and armadilloes. North America, on the other hand, is characterized (putting on one side a few wandering species) by numerous peculiar gnawers, and by four genera (the ox, sheep, goat, and antelope) of hollow-horned ruminants, of which great division South America is not known to possess a single species. Formerly, but within the period when most of the now existing shells were living, North America possessed, besides hollow-horned ruminants, the elephant, mastodon, horse, and three genera of Edentata, namely, the Megatherium, Megalonyx, and Mylodon. Within nearly this same period (as proved by the shells at Bahia Blanca) South America possessed, as we have just seen, a mastodon, horse, hollow- horned ruminant, and the same three genera (as well as several others) of the Edentata. Hence it is evident that North and South America, in having within a late geological period these several genera in common, were much more closely related in the character of their terrestrial inhabitants than they now are. The more I reflect on this case, the more interesting it appears: I know of no other instance where we can almost mark the period and manner of the splitting up of one great region into two well- characterized zoological provinces. The geologist, who is fully impressed with the vast oscillations of level which have affected the earth's crust within late periods, will not fear to speculate on the recent elevation of the Mexican platform, or, more probably, on the recent submergence of land in the West Indian Archipelago, as the cause of the present zoological separation of North and South America. The South American character of the West Indian mammals [6] seems to indicate that this archipelago was formerly united to the southern continent, and that it has subsequently been an area of subsidence.

When America, and especially North America, possessed its elephants, mastodons, horse, and hollow-horned ruminants, it was much more closely related in its zoological characters to the temperate parts of Europe and Asia than it now is. As the remains of these genera are found on both sides of Behring's Straits [7] and on the plains of Siberia, we are led to look to the north-western side of North America as the former point of communication between the Old and so-called New World. And as so many species, both living and extinct, of these same genera inhabit and have inhabited the Old World, it seems most probable that the North American elephants, mastodons, horse, and hollowhorned ruminants migrated, on land since submerged near Behring's Straits, from Siberia into North America, and thence, on land since submerged in the West Indies, into South America, where for a time they mingled with the forms characteristic of that southern continent, and have since become extinct.

While travelling through the country, I received several vivid descriptions of the effects of a late great drought; and the account of this may throw some light on the cases where vast numbers of animals of all kinds have been embedded together. The period included between the years 1827 and 1830 is called the "gran seco," or the great drought. During this time so little rain fell, that the vegetation, even to the thistles, failed; the brooks were dried up, and the whole country assumed the appearance of a dusty high road. This was especially the case in the northern part of the province of Buenos Ayres and the southern part of St. Fe. Very great numbers of birds, wild animals, cattle, and horses perished from the want of food and water. A man told me that the deer [8] used to come into his courtyard to the well, which he had been obliged to dig to supply his own family with water; and that the partridges had hardly strength to fly away when pursued. The lowest estimation of the loss of cattle in the province of Buenos Ayres alone, was taken at one million head. A proprietor at San Pedro had previously to these years 20,000 cattle; at the end not one remained. San Pedro is situated in the middle of the finest country; and even now abounds again with animals; yet during the latter part of the "gran seco," live cattle were brought in vessels for the consumption of the inhabitants. The animals roamed from their estancias, and, wandering far southward, were mingled together in such multitudes, that a government commission was sent from Buenos Ayres to settle the disputes of the owners. Sir Woodbine Parish informed me of another and very curious source of dispute; the ground being so long dry, such quantities of dust were blown about, that in this open country the landmarks became obliterated, and people could not tell the limits of their estates.

I was informed by an eye-witness that the cattle in herds of thousands rushed into the Parana, and being exhausted by hunger they were unable to crawl up the muddy banks, and thus were drowned. The arm of the river which runs by San Pedro was so full of putrid carcasses, that the master of a vessel told me that the smell rendered it quite impassable. Without doubt several hundred thousand animals thus perished in the river: their bodies when putrid were seen floating down the stream; and many in all probability were deposited in the estuary of the Plata. All the small rivers became highly saline, and this caused the death of vast numbers in particular spots; for when an animal drinks of such water it does not recover. Azara describes [9] the fury of the wild horses on a similar occasion, rushing into the marshes, those which arrived first being overwhelmed and crushed by those which followed. He adds that more than once he has seen the carcasses of upwards of a thousand wild horses thus destroyed. I noticed that the smaller streams in the Pampas were paved with a breccia of bones but this probably is the effect of a gradual increase, rather than of the destruction at any one period. Subsequently to the drought of 1827 to 1832, a very rainy season followed which caused great floods. Hence it is almost certain that some thousands of the skeletons were buried by the deposits of the very next year. What would be the opinion of a geologist, viewing such an enormous collection of bones, of all kinds of animals and of all ages, thus embedded in one thick earthy mass? Would he not attribute it to a flood having swept over the surface of the land, rather than to the common order of things? [10]

October 12th. -- I had intended to push my excursion further, but not being quite well, I was compelled to return by a balandra, or one-masted vessel of about a hundred tons' burden, which was bound to Buenos Ayres. As the weather was not fair, we moored early in the day to a branch of a tree on one of the islands. The Parana is full of islands, which undergo a constant round of decay and renovation. In the memory of the master several large ones had disappeared, and others again had been formed and protected by vegetation. They are composed of muddy sand, without even the smallest pebble, and were then about four feet above the level of the river; but during the periodical floods they are inundated. They all present one character; numerous willows and a few other trees are bound together by a great variety of creeping plants, thus forming a thick jungle. These thickets afford a retreat for capybaras and jaguars. The fear of the latter animal quite destroyed all pleasure in scrambling through the woods. This evening I had not proceeded a hundred yards, before finding indubitable signs of the recent presence of the tiger, I was obliged to come back. On every island there were tracks; and as on the former excursion "el rastro de los Indios" had been the subject of conversation, so in this was "el rastro del tigre." The wooded banks of the great rivers appear to be the favourite haunts of the jaguar; but south of the Plata, I was told that they frequented the reeds bordering lakes: wherever they are, they seem to require water. Their common prey is the capybara, so that it is generally said, where capybaras are numerous there is little danger from the jaguar. Falconer states that near the southern side of the mouth of the Plata there are many jaguars, and that they chiefly live on fish; this account I have heard repeated. On the Parana they have killed many wood-cutters, and have even entered vessels at night. There is a man now living in the Bajada, who, coming up from below when it was dark, was seized on the deck; he escaped, however, with the loss of the use of one arm. When the floods drive these animals from the islands, they are most dangerous. I was told that a few years since a very large one found its way into a church at St. Fe: two padres entering one after the other were killed, and a third, who came to see what was the matter, escaped with difficulty. The beast was destroyed by being shot from a corner of the building which was unroofed. They commit also at these times great ravages among cattle and horses. It is said that they kill their prey by breaking their necks. If driven from the carcass, they seldom return to it. The Gauchos say that the jaguar, when wandering about at night, is much tormented by the foxes yelping as they follow him. This is a curious coincidence with the fact which is generally affirmed of the jackals accompanying, in a similarly officious manner, the East Indian tiger. The jaguar is a noisy animal, roaring much by night, and especially before bad weather.

One day, when hunting on the banks of the Uruguay, I was shown certain trees, to which these animals constantly recur for the purpose, as it is said, of sharpening their claws. I saw three well-known trees; in front, the bark was worn smooth, as if by the breast of the animal, and on each side there were deep scratches, or rather grooves, extending in an oblique line, nearly a yard in length. The scars were of different ages. A common method of ascertaining whether a jaguar is in the neighbourhood is to examine these trees. I imagine this habit of the jaguar is exactly similar to one which may any day be seen in the common cat, as with outstretched legs and exserted claws it scrapes the leg of a chair; and I have heard of young fruit- trees in an orchard in England having been thus much injured. Some such habit must also be common to the puma, for on the bare hard soil of Patagonia I have frequently seen scores so deep that no other animal could have made them. The object of this practice is, I believe, to tear off the ragged points of their claws, and not, as the Gauchos think, to sharpen them. The jaguar is killed, without much difficulty, by the aid of dogs baying and driving him up a tree, where he is despatched with bullets.

Owing to bad weather we remained two days at our moorings. Our only amusement was catching fish for our dinner: there were several kinds, and all good eating. A fish called the "armado" (a Silurus) is remarkable from a harsh grating noise which it makes when caught by hook and line, and which can be distinctly heard when the fish is beneath the water. This same fish has the power of firmly catching hold of any object, such as the blade of an oar or the fishing- line, with the strong spine both of its pectoral and dorsal fin. In the evening the weather was quite tropical, the thermometer standing at 79 degs. Numbers of fireflies were hovering about, and the musquitoes were very troublesome. I exposed my hand for five minutes, and it was soon black with them; I do not suppose there could have been less than fifty, all busy sucking.

October 15th. -- We got under way and passed Punta Gorda, where there is a colony of tame Indians from the province of Missiones. We sailed rapidly down the current, but before sunset, from a silly fear of bad weather, we brought-to in a narrow arm of the river. I took the boat and rowed some distance up this creek. It was very narrow, winding, and deep; on each side a wall thirty or forty feet high, formed by trees intwined with creepers, gave to the canal a singularly gloomy appearance. I here saw a very extraordinary bird, called the Scissor-beak (Rhynchops nigra). It has short legs, web feet, extremely long-pointed wings, and is of about the size of a tern. The beak is flattened laterally, that is, in a plane at right angles to that of a spoonbill or duck. It is as flat and elastic as an ivory paper-cutter, and the lower mandible, differing from every other bird, is an inch and a half longer than the upper. In a lake near Maldonado, from which the water had been nearly drained, and which, in consequence, swarmed with small fry, I saw several of these birds, generally in small flocks, flying rapidly backwards and forwards close to the surface of the lake. They kept their bills wide open, and the lower mandible half buried in the water. Thus skimming the surface, they ploughed it in their course: the water was quite smooth, and it formed a most curious spectacle to behold a flock, each bird leaving its narrow wake on the mirror-like surface. In their flight they frequently twist about with extreme quickness, and dexterously manage with their projecting lower mandible to plough up small fish, which are secured by the upper and shorter half of their scissor-like

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bills. This fact I repeatedly saw, as, like swallows, they continued to fly backwards and forwards close before me. Occasionally when leaving the surface of the water their flight was wild, irregular, and rapid; they then uttered loud harsh cries. When these birds are fishing, the advantage of the long primary feathers of their wings, in keeping them dry, is very evident. When thus employed, their forms resemble the symbol by which many artists represent marine birds. Their tails are much used in steering their irregular course.

These birds are common far inland along the course of the Rio Parana; it is said that they remain here during the whole year, and breed in the marshes. During the day they rest in flocks on the grassy plains at some distance from the water. Being at anchor, as I have said, in one of the deep creeks between the islands of the Parana, as the evening drew to a close, one of these scissor-beaks suddenly appeared. The water was quite still, and many little fish were rising. The bird continued for a long time to skim the surface, flying in its wild and irregular manner up and down the narrow canal, now dark with the growing night and the shadows of the overhanging trees. At Monte Video, I observed that some large flocks during the day remained on the mud-banks at the head of the harbour, in the same manner as on the grassy plains near the Parana; and every evening they took flight seaward. From these facts I suspect that the Rhynchops generally fishes by night, at which time many of the lower animals come most abundantly to the surface. M. Lesson states that he has seen these birds opening the shells of the mactrae buried in the sandbanks on the coast of Chile: from their weak bills, with the lower mandible so much projecting, their short legs and long wings, it is very improbable that this can be a general habit.

In our course down the Parana, I observed only three other birds, whose habits are worth mentioning. One is a small kingfisher (Ceryle Americana); it has a longer tail than the European species, and hence does not sit in so stiff and upright a position. Its flight also, instead of being direct and rapid, like the course of an arrow, is weak and undulatory, as among the soft-billed birds. It utters a low note, like the clicking together of two small stones. A small green parrot (Conurus murinus), with a grey breast, appears to prefer the tall trees on the islands to any other situation for its building-place. A number of nests are placed so close together as to form one great mass of sticks. These parrots always live in flocks, and commit great ravages on the corn-fields. I was told, that near Colonia 2500 were killed in the course of one year. A bird with a forked tail, terminated by two long feathers (Tyrannus savana), and named by the Spaniards scissor-tail, is very common near Buenos Ayres: it commonly sits on a branch of the _ombu_ tree, near a house, and thence takes a short flight in pursuit of insects, and returns to the same spot. When on the wing it presents in its manner of flight and general appearance a caricature-likeness of the common swallow. It has the power of turning very shortly in the air, and in so doing opens and shuts its tail, sometimes in a horizontal or lateral and sometimes in a vertical direction, just like a pair of scissors.

October 16th. -- Some leagues below Rozario, the western shore of the Parana is bounded by perpendicular cliffs, which extend in a long line to below San Nicolas; hence it more resembles a sea-coast than that of a fresh-water river. It is a great drawback to the scenery of the Parana, that, from the soft nature of its banks, the water is very muddy. The Uruguay, flowing through a granitic country, is much clearer; and where the two channels unite at the head of the Plata, the waters may for a long distance be distinguished by their black and red colours. In the evening, the wind being not quite fair, as usual we immediately moored, and the next day, as it blew rather freshly, though with a favouring current, the master was much too indolent to think of starting. At Bajada, he was described to me as "hombre muy aflicto" -- a man always miserable to get on; but certainly he bore all delays with admirable resignation. He was an old Spaniard, and had been many years in this country. He professed a great liking to the English, but stoutly maintained that the battle of Trafalgar was merely won by the Spanish captains having been all bought over; and that the only really gallant action on either side was performed by the Spanish admiral. It struck me as rather characteristic, that this man should prefer his countrymen being thought the worst of traitors, rather than unskilful or cowardly.

18th and 19th. -- We continued slowly to sail down the noble stream: the current helped us but little. We met, during our descent, very few vessels. One of the best gifts of nature, in so grand a channel of communication, seems here wilfully thrown away -- a river in which ships might navigate from a temperate country, as surprisingly abundant in certain productions as destitute of others, to another possessing a tropical climate, and a soil which, according to the best of judges, M. Bonpland, is perhaps unequalled in fertility in any part of the world. How different would have been the aspect of this river if English colonists had by good fortune first sailed up the Plata! What noble towns would now have occupied its shores! Till the death of Francia, the Dictator of Paraguay, these two countries must remain distinct, as if placed on opposite sides of the globe. And when the old bloody-minded tyrant is gone to his long account, Paraguay will be torn by revolutions, violent in proportion to the previous unnatural calm. That country will have to learn, like every other South American state, that a republic cannot succeed till it contains a certain body of men imbued with the principles of justice and honour.

October 20th. -- Being arrived at the mouth of the Parana, and as I was very anxious to reach Buenos Ayres, I went on shore at Las Conchas, with the intention of riding there. Upon landing, I found to my great surprise that I was to a certain degree a prisoner. A violent revolution having broken out, all the ports were laid under an embargo. I could not return to my vessel, and as for going by land to the city, it was out of the question. After a long conversation with the commandant, I obtained permission to go the next day to General Rolor, who commanded a division of the rebels on this side the capital. In the morning I rode to the encampment. The general, officers, and soldiers, all appeared, and I believe really were, great villains. The general, the very evening before he left the city, voluntarily went to the Governor, and with his hand to his heart, pledged his word of honour that he at least would remain faithful to the last. The general told me that the city was in a state of close blockade, and that all he could do was to give me a passport to the commander-in-chief of the rebels at Quilmes. We had therefore to take a great sweep round the city, and it was with much difficulty that we procured horses. My reception at the encampment was quite civil, but I was told it was impossible that I could be allowed to enter the city. I was very anxious about this, as I anticipated the Beagle's departure from the Rio Plata earlier than it took place. Having mentioned, however, General Rosas's obliging kindness to me when at the Colorado, magic itself could not have altered circumstances quicker than did this conversation. I was instantly told that though they could not give me a passport, if I chose to leave my guide and horses, I might pass their sentinels. I was too glad to accept of this, and an officer was sent with me to give directions that I should not be stopped at the bridge. The road for the space of a league was quite deserted. I met one party of soldiers, who were satisfied by gravely looking at an old passport: and at length I was not a little pleased to find myself within the city.

This revolution was supported by scarcely any pretext of grievances: but in a state which, in the course of nine months (from February to October, 1820), underwent fifteen changes in its government -- each governor, according to the constitution, being elected for three years -- it would be very unreasonable to ask for pretexts. In this case, a party of men -- who, being attached to Rosas, were disgusted with the governor Balcarce -- to the number of seventy left the city, and with the cry of Rosas the whole country took arms. The city was then blockaded, no provisions, cattle or horses, were allowed to enter; besides this, there was only a little skirmishing, and a few men daily killed. The outside party well knew that by stopping the supply of meat they would certainly be victorious. General Rosas could not have known of this rising; but it appears to be quite consonant with the plans of his party. A year ago he was elected governor, but he refused it, unless the Sala would also confer on him extraordinary powers. This was refused, and since then his party have shown 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 I left Buenos Ayres, which stated that the General disapproved of peace having been broken, but that he thought the outside party had justice on their side. On the bare reception of this, the Governor, ministers, and part of the military, to the number of some hundreds, fled from the city. The rebels entered, elected a new governor, and were paid for their services to the number of 5500 men. From these proceedings, it was clear that Rosas ultimately would become the dictator: to the term king, the people in this, as in other republics, have a particular dislike. Since leaving South America, we have heard that Rosas has been elected, with powers and for a time altogether opposed to the constitutional principles of the republic.

[1] The bizcacha (Lagostomus trichodactylus) somewhat resembles a large rabbit, but with bigger gnawing teeth and a long tail; it has, however, only three toes behind, like the agouti. During the last three or four years the skins of these animals have been sent to England for the sake of the fur.

[2] Journal of Asiatic Soc., vol. v. p. 363.

 

[3] I need hardly state here that there is good evidence against any horse living in America at the time of Columbus.

 

[4] Cuvier. Ossemens Fossils, tom. i. p. 158.

[5] This is the geographical division followed by Lichtenstein, Swainson, Erichson, and Richardson. The section from Vera Cruz to Acapulco, given by Humboldt in the Polit. Essay on Kingdom of N. Spain will show how immense a barrier the Mexican table-land forms. Dr. Richardson, in his admirable Report on the Zoology of N. America read before the Brit. Assoc. 1836 (p. 157), talking of the identification of a Mexican animal with the Synetheres prehensilis, says, "We do not know with what propriety, but if correct, it is, if not a solitary instance, at least very nearly so, of a rodent animal being common to North and South America."

[6] See Dr. Richardson's Report, p. 157; also L'Institut, 1837, p. 253. Cuvier says the kinkajou is found in the larger Antilles, but this is doubtful. M. Gervais states that the Didelphis crancrivora is found there. It is certain that the West Indies possess some mammifers peculiar to themselves. A tooth of a mastadon has been brought from Bahama; Edin. New Phil. Journ., 1826, p. 395.

[7] See the admirable Appendix by Dr. Buckland to Beechey's Voyage; also the writings of Chamisso in Kotzebue's Voyage.

[8] In Captain Owen's Surveying Voyage (vol. ii. p. 274) there is a curious account of the effects of a drought on the elephants, at Benguela (west coast of Africa). "A number of these animals had some time since entered the town, in a body, to possess themselves of the wells, not being able to procure any water in the country. The inhabitants mustered, when a desperate conflict ensued, which terminated in the ultimate discomfiture of the invaders, but not until they had killed one man, and wounded several others." The town is said to have a population of nearly three thousand! Dr. Malcolmson informs me that, during a great drought in India, the wild animals entered the tents of some troops at Ellore, and that a hare drank out of a vessel held by the adjutant of the regiment.

[9] Travels, vol. i. p. 374.

 

[10] These droughts to a certain degree seem to be almost periodical; I was told the dates of several others, and the intervals were about fifteen years.

Banda Oriental And Patagonia

Excursion to Colonia del Sacramiento -- Value of an Estancia -- Cattle, how counted -- Singular Breed of Oxen -- Perforated Pebbles -- Shepherd Dogs -- Horses broken-in, Gauchos riding -- Character of Inhabitants -- Rio Plata -- Flocks of Butterflies -- Aeronaut Spiders -- Phosphorescence of the Sea -- Port Desire -- Guanaco -- Port St. Julian -- Geology of Patagonia -- Fossil gigantic Animal -- Types of Organization constant -- Change in the Zoology of America -- Causes of Extinction.

HAVING been delayed for nearly a fortnight in the city, I was glad to escape on board a packet bound for Monte Video. A town in a state of blockade must always be a disagreeable place of residence; in this case moreover there were constant apprehensions from robbers within. The sentinels were the worst of all; for, from their office and from having arms in their hands, they robbed with a degree of authority which other men could not imitate.

Our passage was a very long and tedious one. The Plata looks like a noble estuary on the map; but is in truth a poor affair. A wide expanse of muddy water has neither grandeur nor beauty. At one time of the day, the two shores, both of which are extremely low, could just be distinguished from the deck. On arriving at Monte Video I found that the Beagle would not sail for some time, so I prepared for a short excursion in this part of Banda Oriental. Everything which I have said about the country near Maldonado is applicable to Monte Video; but the land, with the one exception of the Green Mount 450 feet high, from which it takes its name, is far more level. Very little of the undulating grassy plain is enclosed; but near the town there are a few hedge-banks, covered with agaves, cacti, and fennel.

November 14th. -- We left Monte Video in the afternoon. I intended to proceed to Colonia del Sacramiento, situated on the northern bank of the Plata and opposite to Buenos Ayres, and thence, following up the Uruguay, to the village of Mercedes on the Rio Negro (one of the many rivers of this name in South America), and from this point to return direct to Monte Video. We slept at the house of my guide at Canelones. In the morning we rose early, in the hopes of being able to ride a good distance; but it was a vain attempt, for all the rivers were flooded. We passed in boats the streams of Canelones, St. Lucia, and San Jose, and thus lost much time. On a former excursion I crossed the Lucia near its mouth, and I was surprised to observe how easily our horses, although not used to swim, passed over a width of at least six hundred yards. On mentioning this at Monte Video, I was told that a vessel containing some mountebanks and their horses, being wrecked in the Plata, one horse swam seven miles to the shore. In the course of the day I was amused by the dexterity with which a Gaucho forced a restive horse to swim a river. He stripped off his clothes, and jumping on its back, rode into the water till it was out of its depth; then slipping off over the crupper, he caught hold of the tail, and as often as the horse turned round the man frightened it back by splashing water in its face. As soon as the horse touched the bottom on the other side, the man pulled himself on, and was firmly seated, bridle in hand, before the horse gained the bank. A naked man on a naked horse is a fine spectacle; I had no idea how well the two animals suited each other. The tail of a horse is a very useful appendage; I have passed a river in a boat with four people in it, which was ferried across in the same way as the Gaucho. If a man and horse have to cross a broad river, the best plan is for the man to catch hold of the pommel or mane, and help himself with the other arm.

We slept and stayed the following day at the post of Cufre. In the evening the postman or letter-carrier arrived. He was a day after his time, owing to the Rio Rozario being flooded. It would not, however, be of much consequence; for, although he had passed through some of the principal towns in Banda Oriental, his luggage consisted of two letters! The view from the house was pleasing; an undulating green surface, with distant glimpses of the Plata. I find that I look at this province with very different eyes from what I did upon my first arrival. I recollect I then thought it singularly level; but now, after galloping over the Pampas, my only surprise is, what could have induced me ever to call it level. The country is a series of undulations, in themselves perhaps not absolutely great, but, as compared to the plains of St. Fe, real mountains. From these inequalities there is an abundance of small rivulets, and the turf is green and luxuriant.

November 17th. -- We crossed the Rozario, which was deep and rapid, and passing the village of Colla, arrived at midday at Colonia del Sacramiento. The distance is twenty leagues, through a country covered with fine grass, but poorly stocked with cattle or inhabitants. I was invited to sleep at Colonia, and to accompany on the following day a gentleman to his estancia, where there were some limestone rocks. The town is built on a stony promontory something in the same manner as at Monte Video. It is strongly fortified, but both fortifications and town suffered much in the Brazilian war. It is very ancient; and the irregularity of the streets, and the surrounding groves of old orange and peach trees, gave it a pretty appearance. The church is a curious ruin; it was used as a powder- magazine, and was struck by lightning in one of the ten thousand thunder-storms of the Rio Plata. Two-thirds of the building were blown away to the very foundation; and the rest stands a shattered and curious monument of the united powers of lightning and gunpowder. In the evening I wandered about the half-demolished walls of the town. It was the chief seat of the Brazilian war; -- a war most injurious to this country, not so much in its immediate effects, as in being the origin of a multitude of generals and all other grades of officers. More generals are numbered (but not paid) in the United Provinces of La Plata than in the United Kingdom of Great Britain. These gentlemen have learned to like power, and do not object to a little skirmishing. Hence there are many always on the watch to create disturbance and to overturn a government which as yet has never rested on any staple foundation. I noticed, however, both here and in other places, a very general interest in the ensuing election for the President; and this appears a good sign for the prosperity of this little country. The inhabitants do not require much education in their representatives; I heard some men discussing the merits of those for Colonia; and it was said that, "although they were not men of business, they could all sign their names:" with this they seemed to think every reasonable man ought to be satisfied.
18th. -- Rode with my host to his estancia, at the Arroyo de San Juan. In the evening we took a ride round the estate: it contained two square leagues and a half, and was situated in what is called a rincon; that is, one side was fronted by the Plata, and the two others guarded by impassable brooks. There was an excellent port for little vessels, and an abundance of small wood, which is valuable as supplying fuel to Buenos Ayres. I was curious to know the value of so complete an estancia. Of cattle there were 3000, and it would well support three or four times that number; of mares 800, together with 150 broken-in horses, and 600 sheep. There was plenty of water and limestone, a rough house, excellent corrals, and a peach orchard. For all this he had been offered 2000 Pounds, and he only wanted 500 Pounds additional, and probably would sell it for less. The chief trouble with an estancia is driving the cattle twice a week to a central spot, in order to make them tame, and to count them. This latter operation would be thought difficult, where there are ten or fifteen thousand head together. It is managed on the principle that the cattle invariably divide themselves into little troops of from forty to one hundred. Each troop is recognized by a few peculiarly marked animals, and its number is known: so that, one being lost out of ten thousand, it is perceived by its absence from one of the tropillas. During a stormy night the cattle all mingle together; but the next morning the tropillas separate as before; so that each animal must know its fellow out of ten thousand others.

On two occasions I met with in this province some oxen of a very curious breed, called nata or niata. They appear externally to hold nearly the same relation to other cattle, which bull or pug dogs do to other dogs. Their forehead is very short and broad, with the nasal end turned up, and the upper lip much drawn back; their lower jaws project beyond the upper, and have a corresponding upward curve; hence their teeth are always exposed. Their nostrils are seated high up and are very open; their eyes project outwards. When walking they carry their heads low, on a short neck; and their hinder legs are rather longer compared with the front legs than is usual. Their bare teeth, their short heads, and upturned nostrils give them the most ludicrous self-confident air of defiance imaginable.

Since my return, I have procured a skeleton head, through the kindness of my friend Captain Sulivan, R. N., which is now deposited in the College of Surgeons. [1] Don F. Muniz, of Luxan, has kindly collected for me all the information which he could respecting this breed. From his account it seems that about eighty or ninety years ago, they were rare and kept as curiosities at Buenos Ayres. The breed is universally believed to have originated amongst the Indians southward of the Plata; and that it was with them the commonest kind. Even to this day, those reared in the provinces near the Plata show their less civilized origin, in being fiercer than common cattle, and in the cow easily deserting her first calf, if visited too often or molested. It is a singular fact that an almost similar structure to the abnormal [2] one of the niata breed, characterizes, as I am informed by Dr. Falconer, that great extinct ruminant of India, the Sivatherium. The breed is very _true_; and a niata bull and cow invariably produce niata calves. A niata bull with a common cow, or the reverse cross, produces offspring having an intermediate character, but with the niata characters strongly displayed: according to Senor Muniz, there is the clearest evidence, contrary to the common belief of agriculturists in analogous cases, that the niata cow when crossed with a common bull transmits her peculiarities more strongly than the niata bull when crossed with a common cow. When the pasture is tolerably long, the niata cattle feed with the tongue and palate as well as common cattle; but during the great droughts, when so many animals perish, the niata breed is under a great disadvantage, and would be exterminated if not attended to; for the common cattle, like horses, are able just to keep alive, by browsing with their lips on twigs of trees and reeds; this the niatas cannot so well do, as their lips do not join, and hence they are found to perish before the common cattle. This strikes me as a good illustration of how little we are able to judge from the ordinary habits of life, on what circumstances, occurring only at long intervals, the rarity or extinction of a species may be determined.

November 19th. -- Passing the valley of Las Vacas, we slept at a house of a North American, who worked a lime- kiln on the Arroyo de las Vivoras. In the morning we rode to a protecting headland on the banks of the river, called Punta Gorda. On the way we tried to find a jaguar. There were plenty of fresh tracks, and we visited the trees, on which they are said to sharpen their claws; but we did not succeed in disturbing one. From this point the Rio Uruguay presented to our view a noble volume of water. From the clearness and rapidity of the stream, its appearance was far superior to that of its neighbour the Parana. On the opposite coast, several branches from the latter river entered the Uruguay. As the sun was shining, the two colours of the waters could be seen quite distinct.

In the evening we proceeded on our road towards Mercedes on the Rio Negro. At night we asked permission to sleep at an estancia at which we happened to arrive. It was a very large estate, being ten leagues square, and the owner is one of the greatest landowners in the country. His nephew had charge of it, and with him there was a captain in the army, who the other day ran away from Buenos Ayres. Considering their station, their conversation was rather amusing. They expressed, as was usual, unbounded astonishment at the globe being round, and could scarcely credit that a hole would, if deep enough, come out on the other side. They had, however, heard of a country where there were six months of light and six of darkness, and where the inhabitants were very tall and thin! They were curious about the price and condition of horses and cattle in England. Upon finding out we did not catch our animals with the lazo, they cried out, "Ah, then, you use nothing but the bolas:" the idea of an enclosed country was quite new to them. The captain at last said, he had one question to ask me, which he should be very much obliged if I would answer with all truth. I trembled to think how deeply scientific it would be: it was, "Whether the ladies of Buenos Ayres were not the handsomest in the world." I replied, like a renegade, "Charmingly so." He added, "I have one other question: Do ladies in any other part of the world wear such large combs?" I solemnly assured him that they did not. They were absolutely delighted. The captain exclaimed, "Look there! a man who has seen half the world says it is the case; we always thought so, but now we know it." My excellent judgment in combs and beauty procured me a most hospitable reception; the captain forced me to take his bed, and he would sleep on his recado.

21st. -- Started at sunrise, and rode slowly during the whole day. The geological nature of this part of the province was different from the rest, and closely resembled that of the Pampas. In consequence, there were immense beds of the thistle, as well as of the cardoon: the whole country, indeed, may be called one great bed of these plants. The two sorts grow separate, each plant in company with its own kind. The cardoon is as high as a horse's back, but the Pampas thistle is often higher than the crown of the rider's head. To leave the road for a yard is out of the question; and the road itself is partly, and in some cases entirely closed. Pasture, of course there is none; if cattle or horses once enter the bed, they are for the time completely lost. Hence it is very hazardous to attempt to drive cattle at this season of the year; for when jaded enough to face the thistles, they rush among them, and are seen no more. In these districts there are very few estancias, and these few are situated in the neighbourhood of damp valleys, where fortunately neither of these overwhelming plants can exist. As night came on before we arrived at our journey's end, we slept at a miserable little hovel inhabited by the poorest people. The extreme though rather formal courtesy of our host and hostess, considering their grade of life, was quite delightful.

November 22nd. -- Arrived at an estancia on the Berquelo belonging to a very hospitable Englishman, to whom I had a letter of introduction from my friend Mr. Lumb. I stayed here three days. One morning I rode with my host to the Sierra del Pedro Flaco, about twenty miles up the Rio Negro. Nearly the whole country was covered with good though coarse grass, which was as high as a horse's belly; yet there were square leagues without a single head of cattle. The province of Banda Oriental, if well stocked, would support an astonishing number of animals, at present the annual export of hides from Monte Video amounts to three hundred thousand; and the home consumption, from waste, is very considerable. An "estanciero" told me that he often had to send large herds of cattle a long journey to a salting establishment, and that the tired beasts were frequently obliged to be killed and skinned; but that he could never persuade the Gauchos to eat of them, and every evening a fresh beast was slaughtered for their suppers! The view of the Rio Negro from the Sierra was more picturesque than any other which I saw in this province. The river, broad, deep, and rapid, wound at the foot of a rocky precipitous cliff: a belt of wood followed its course, and the horizon terminated in the distant undulations of the turf-plain.

When in this neighbourhood, I several times heard of the Sierra de las Cuentas: a hill distant many miles to the northward. The name signifies hill of beads. I was assured that vast numbers of little round stones, of various colours, each with a small cylindrical hole, are found there. Formerly the Indians used to collect them, for the purpose of making necklaces and bracelets -- a taste, I may observe, which is common to all savage nations, as well as to the most polished. I did not know what to understand from this story, but upon mentioning it at the Cape of Good Hope to Dr. Andrew Smith, he told me that he recollected finding on the south-eastern coast of Africa, about one hundred miles to the eastward of St. John's river, some quartz crystals with their edges blunted from attrition, and mixed with gravel on the sea-beach. Each crystal was about five lines in diameter, and from an inch to an inch and a half in length. Many of them had a small canal extending from one extremity to the other, perfectly cylindrical, and of a size that readily admitted a coarse thread or a piece of fine catgut. Their colour was red or dull white. The natives were acquainted with this structure in crystals. I have mentioned these circumstances because, although no crystallized body is at present known to assume this form, it may lead some future traveller to investigate the real nature of such stones. While staying at this estancia, I was amused with what I saw and heard of the shepherddogs of the country. [3] When riding, it is a common thing to meet a large flock of sheep guarded by one or two dogs, at the distance of some miles from any house or man. I often wondered how so firm a friendship had been established. The method of education consists in separating the puppy, while very young, from the bitch, and in accustoming it to its future companions. An ewe is held three or four times a day for the little thing to suck, and a nest of wool is made for it in the sheep-pen; at no time is it allowed to associate with other dogs, or with the children of the family. The puppy is, moreover, generally castrated; so that, when grown up, it can scarcely have any feelings in common with the rest of its kind. From this education it has no wish to leave the flock, and just as another dog will defend its master, man, so will these the sheep. It is amusing to observe, when approaching a flock, how the dog immediately advances barking, and the sheep all close in his rear, as if round the oldest ram. These dogs are also easily taught to bring home the flock, at a certain hour in the evening. Their most troublesome fault, when young, is their desire of playing with the sheep; for in their sport they sometimes gallop their poor subjects most unmercifully.

The shepherd-dog comes to the house every day for some meat, and as soon as it is given him, he skulks away as if ashamed of himself. On these occasions the house-dogs are very tyrannical, and the least of them will attack and pursue the stranger. The minute, however, the latter has reached the flock, he turns round and begins to bark, and then all the house-dogs take very quickly to their heels. In a similar manner a whole pack of the hungry wild dogs will scarcely ever (and I was told by some never) venture to attack a flock guarded by even one of these faithful shepherds. The whole account appears to me a curious instance of the pliability of the affections in the dog; and yet, whether wild or however educated, he has a feeling of respect or fear for those that are fulfilling their instinct of association. For we can understand on no principle the wild dogs being driven away by the single one with its flock, except that they consider, from some confused notion, that the one thus associated gains power, as if in company with its own kind. F. Cuvier has observed that all animals that readily enter into domestication, consider man as a member of their own society, and thus fulfil their instinct of association. In the above case the shepherd-dog ranks the sheep as its fellow- brethren, and thus gains confidence; and the wild dogs, though knowing that the individual sheep are not dogs, but are good to eat, yet partly consent to this view when seeing them in a flock with a shepherd-dog at their head.

One evening a "domidor" (a subduer of horses) came for the purpose of breaking-in some colts. I will describe the preparatory steps, for I believe they have not been mentioned by other travellers. A troop of wild young horses is driven into the corral, or large enclosure of stakes, and the door is shut. We will suppose that one man alone has to catch and mount a horse, which as yet had never felt bridle or saddle. I conceive, except by a Gaucho, such a feat would be utterly impracticable. The Gaucho picks out a full-grown colt; and as the beast rushes round the circus he throws his lazo so as to catch both the front legs. Instantly the horse rolls over with a heavy shock, and whilst struggling on the ground, the Gaucho, holding the lazo tight, makes a circle, so as to catch one of the hind legs just beneath the fetlock, and draws it close to the two front legs: he then hitches the lazo, so that the three are bound together. Then sitting on the horse's neck, he fixes a strong bridle, without a bit, to the lower jaw: this he does by passing a narrow thong through the eye-holes at the end of the reins, and several times round both jaw and tongue. The two front legs are now tied closely together with a strong leathern thong, fastened by a slip-knot. The lazo, which bound the three together, being then loosed, the horse rises with difficulty. The Gaucho now holding fast the bridle fixed to the lower jaw, leads the horse outside the corral. If a second man is present (otherwise the trouble is much greater) he holds the animal's head, whilst the first puts on the horsecloths and saddle, and girths the whole together. During this operation, the horse, from dread and astonishment at thus being bound round the waist, throws himself over and over again on the ground, and, till beaten, is unwilling to rise. At last, when the saddling is finished, the poor animal can hardly breathe from fear, and is white with foam and sweat. The man now prepares to mount by pressing heavily on the stirrup, so that the horse may not lose its balance; and at the moment that he throws his leg over the animal's back, he pulls the slip-knot binding the front legs, and the beast is free. Some "domidors" pull the knot while the animal is lying on the ground, and, standing over the saddle, allow him to rise beneath them. The horse, wild with dread, gives a few most violent bounds, and then starts off at full gallop: when quite exhausted, the man, by patience, brings him back to the corral, where, reeking hot and scarcely alive, the poor beast is let free. Those animals which will not gallop away, but obstinately throw themselves on the ground, are by far the most troublesome. This process is tremendously severe, but in two or three trials the horse is tamed. It is not, however, for some weeks that the animal is ridden with the iron bit and solid ring, for it must learn to associate the will of its rider with the feel of the rein, before the most powerful bridle can be of any service.

Animals are so abundant in these countries, that humanity and self-interest are not closely united; therefore I fear it is that the former is here scarcely known. One day, riding in the Pampas with a very respectable "estanciero," my horse, being tired, lagged behind. The man often shouted to me to spur him. When I remonstrated that it was a pity, for the horse was quite exhausted, he cried out, "Why not? -- never mind -- spur him -- it is my horse." I had then some difficulty in making him comprehend that it was for the horse's sake, and not on his account, that I did not choose to use my spurs. He exclaimed, with a look of great surprise, "Ah, Don Carlos, que cosa!" It was clear that such an idea had never before entered his head.

The Gauchos are well known to be perfect riders The idea of being thrown, let the horse do what it likes; never enters their head. Their criterion of a good rider is, a man who can manage an untamed colt, or who, if his horse falls, alights on his own feet, or can perform other such exploits. I have heard of a man betting that he would throw his horse down twenty times, and that nineteen times he would not fall himself. I recollect seeing a Gaucho riding a very stubborn horse, which three times successively reared so high as to fall backwards with great violence. The man judged with uncommon coolness the proper moment for slipping off, not an instant before or after the right time; and as soon as the horse got up, the man jumped on his back, and at last they started at a gallop. The Gaucho never appears to exert any muscular force. I was one day watching a good rider, as we were galloping along at a rapid pace, and thought to myself, "Surely if the horse starts, you appear so careless on your seat, you must fall." At this moment, a male ostrich sprang from its nest right beneath the horse's nose: the young colt bounded on one side like a stag; but as for the man, all that could be said was, that he started and took fright with his horse.

In Chile and Peru more pains are taken with the mouth of the horse than in La Plata, and this is evidently a consequence of the more intricate nature of the country. In Chile a horse is not considered perfectly broken, till he can be brought up standing, in the midst of his full speed, on any particular spot, -- for instance, on a cloak thrown on the ground: or, again, he will charge a wall, and rearing, scrape the surface with his hoofs. I have seen an animal bounding with spirit, yet merely reined by a fore-finger and thumb, taken at full gallop across a courtyard, and then made to wheel round the post of a veranda with great speed, but at so equal a distance, that the rider, with outstretched arm, all the while kept one finger rubbing the post. Then making a demi-volte in the air, with the other arm outstretched in a like manner, he wheeled round, with astonishing force, in an opposite direction.

Such a horse is well broken; and although this at first may appear useless, it is far otherwise. It is only carrying that which is daily necessary into perfection. When a bullock is checked and caught by the lazo, it will sometimes gallop round and round in a circle, and the horse being alarmed at the great strain, if not well broken, will not readily turn like the pivot of a wheel. In consequence many men have been killed; for if the lazo once takes a twist round a man's body, it will instantly, from the power of the two opposed animals, almost cut him in twain. On the same principle the races are managed; the course is only two or three hundred yards long, the wish being to have horses that can make a rapid dash. The racehorses are trained not only to stand with their hoofs touching a line, but to draw all four feet together, so as at the first spring to bring into play the full action of the hind-quarters. In Chile I was told an anecdote, which I believe was true; and it offers a good illustration of the use of a well-broken animal. A respectable man riding one day met two others, one of whom was mounted on a horse, which he knew to have been stolen from himself. He challenged them; they answered him by drawing their sabres and giving chase. The man, on his good and fleet beast, kept just ahead: as he passed a thick bush he wheeled round it, and brought up his horse to a dead check. The pursuers were obliged to shoot on one side and ahead. Then instantly dashing on, right behind them, he buried his knife in the back of one, wounded the other, recovered his horse from the dying robber, and rode home. For these feats of horsemanship two things are necessary: a most severe bit, like the Mameluke, the power of which, though seldom used, the horse knows full well; and large blunt spurs, that can be applied either as a mere touch, or as an instrument of extreme pain. I conceive that with English spurs, the slightest touch of which pricks the skin, it would be impossible to break in a horse after the South American fashion

At an estancia near Las Vacas large numbers of mares are weekly slaughtered for the sake of their hides, although worth only five paper dollars, or about half a crown apiece. It seems at first strange that it can answer to kill mares for such a trifle; but as it is thought ridiculous in this country ever to break in or ride a mare, they are of no value except for breeding. The only thing for which I ever saw mares used, was to tread out wheat from the ear, for which purpose they were driven round a circular enclosure, where the wheat-sheaves were strewed. The man employed for slaughtering the mares happened to be celebrated for his dexterity with the lazo. Standing at the distance of twelve yards from the mouth of the corral, he has laid a wager that he would catch by the legs every animal, without missing one, as it rushed past him. There was another man who said he would enter the corral on foot, catch a mare, fasten her front legs together, drive her out, throw her down, kill, skin, and stake the hide for drying (which latter is a tedious job); and he engaged that he would perform this whole operation on twenty-two animals in one day. Or he would kill and take the skin off fifty in the same time. This would have been a prodigious task, for it is considered a good day's work to skin and stake the hides of fifteen or sixteen animals.

November 26th. -- I set out on my return in a direct line for Monte Video. Having heard of some giant's bones at a neighbouring farm-house on the Sarandis, a small stream entering the Rio Negro, I rode there accompanied by my host, and purchased for the value of eighteen pence the head of the Toxodon. [4] When found it was quite perfect; but the boys knocked out some of the teeth with stones, and then set up the head as a mark to throw at. By a most fortunate chance I found a perfect tooth, which exactly fitted one of the sockets in this skull, embedded by itself on the banks of the Rio Tercero, at the distance of about 180 miles from this place. I found remains of this extraordinary animal at two other places, so that it must formerly have been common. I found here, also, some large portions of the armour of a gigantic armadillo-like animal, and part of the great head of a Mylodon. The bones of this head are so fresh, that they contain, according to the analysis by Mr. T. Reeks, seven per cent of animal matter; and when placed in a spirit-lamp, they burn with a small flame. The number of the remains embedded in the grand estuary deposit which forms the Pampas and covers the granitic rocks of Banda Oriental, must be extraordinarily great. I believe a straight line drawn in any direction through the Pampas would cut through some skeleton or bones. Besides those which I found during my short excursions, I heard of many others, and the origin of such names as "the stream of the animal," "the hill of the giant," is obvious. At other times I heard of the marvellous property of certain rivers, which had the power of changing small bones into large; or, as some maintained, the bones themselves grew. As far as I am aware, not one of these animals perished, as was formerly supposed, in the marshes or muddy riverbeds of the present land, but their bones have been exposed by the streams intersecting the subaqueous deposit in which they were originally embedded. We may conclude that the whole area of the Pampas is one wide sepulchre of these extinct gigantic quadrupeds.

By the middle of the day, on the 28th, we arrived at Monte Video, having been two days and a half on the road. The country for the whole way was of a very uniform character, some parts being rather more rocky and hilly than near the Plata. Not far from Monte Video we passed through the village of Las Pietras, so named from some large rounded masses of syenite. Its appearance was rather pretty. In this country a few fig-trees round a group of houses, and a site elevated a hundred feet above the general level, ought always to be called picturesque.
During the last six months I have had an opportunity of seeing a little of the character of the inhabitants of these provinces. The Gauchos, or countryrmen, are very superior to those who reside in the towns. The Gaucho is invariably most obliging, polite, and hospitable: I did not meet with even one instance of rudeness or inhospitality. He is modest, both respecting himself and country, but at the same time a spirited, bold fellow. On the other hand, many robberies are committed, and there is much bloodshed: the habit of constantly wearing the knife is the chief cause of the latter. It is lamentable to hear how many lives are lost in trifling quarrels. In fighting, each party tries to mark the face of his adversary by slashing his nose or eyes; as is often attested by deep and horridlooking scars. Robberies are a natural consequence of universal gambling, much drinking, and extreme indolence. At Mercedes I asked two men why they did not work. One gravely said the days were too long; the other that he was too poor. The number of horses and the profusion of food are the destruction of all industry. Moreover, there are so many feast-days; and again, nothing can succeed without it be begun when the moon is on the increase; so that half the month is lost from these two causes.

Police and justice are quite inefficient. If a man who is poor commits murder and is taken, he will be imprisoned, and perhaps even shot; but if he is rich and has friends, he may rely on it no very severe consequence will ensue. It is curious that the most respectable inhabitants of the country invariably assist a murderer to escape: they seem to think that the individual sins against the government, and not against the people. A traveller has no protection besides his fire-arms; and the constant habit of carrying them is the main check to more frequent robberies. The character of the higher and more educated classes who reside in the towns, partakes, but perhaps in a lesser degree, of the good parts of the Gaucho, but is, I fear, stained by many vices of which he is free. Sensuality, mockery of all religion, and the grossest corruption, are far from uncommon. Nearly every public officer can be bribed. The head man in the post-office sold forged government franks. The governor and prime minister openly combined to plunder the state. Justice, where gold came into play, was hardly expected by any one. I knew an Englishman, who went to the Chief Justice (he told me, that not then understanding the ways of the place, he trembled as he entered the room), and said, "Sir, I have come to offer you two hundred (paper) dollars (value about five pounds sterling) if you will arrest before a certain time a man who has cheated me. I know it is against the law, but my lawyer (naming him) recommended me to take this step." The Chief Justice smiled acquiescence, thanked him, and the man before night was safe in prison. With this entire want of principle in many of the leading men, with the country full of ill-paid turbulent officers, the people yet hope that a democratic form of government can succeed!

On first entering society in these countries, two or three features strike one as particularly remarkable. The polite and dignified manners pervading every rank of life, the excellent taste displayed by the women in their dresses, and the equality amongst all ranks. At the Rio Colorado some men who kept the humblest shops used to dine with General Rosas. A son of a major at Bahia Blanca gained his livelihood by making paper cigars, and he wished to accompany me, as guide or servant, to Buenos Ayres, but his father objected on the score of the danger alone. Many officers in the army can neither read nor write, yet all meet in society as equals. In Entre Rios, the Sala consisted of only six representatives. One of them kept a common shop, and evidently was not degraded by the office. All this is what would be expected in a new country; nevertheless the absence of gentlemen by profession appears to an Englishman something strange.

When speaking of these countries, the manner in which they have been brought up by their unnatural parent, Spain, should always be borne in mind. On the whole, perhaps, more credit is due for what has been done, than blame for that which may be deficient. It is impossible to doubt but that the extreme liberalism of these countries must ultimately lead to good results. The very general toleration of foreign religions, the regard paid to the means of education, the freedom of the press, the facilities offered to all foreigners, and especially, as I am bound to add, to every one professing the humblest pretensions to science, should be recollected with gratitude by those who have visited Spanish South America.

December 6th. -- The Beagle sailed from the Rio Plata, never again to enter its muddy stream. Our course was directed to Port Desire, on the coast of Patagonia. Before proceeding any further, I will here put together a few observations made at sea.

Several times when the ship has been some miles off the mouth of the Plata, and at other times when off the shores of Northern Patagonia, we have been surrounded by insects. One evening, when we were about ten miles from the Bay of San Blas, vast numbers of butterflies, in bands or flocks of countless myriads, extended as far as the eye could range. Even by the aid of a telescope it was not possible to see a space free from butterflies. The seamen cried out "it was snowing butterflies," and such in fact was the appearance. More species than one were present, but the main part belonged to a kind very similar to, but not identical with, the common English Colias edusa. Some moths and hymenoptera accompanied the butterflies; and a fine beetle (Calosoma) flew on board. Other instances are known of this beetle having been caught far out at sea; and this is the more remarkable, as the greater number of the Carabidae seldom or never take wing. The day had been fine and calm, and the one previous to it equally so, with light and variable airs. Hence we cannot suppose that the insects were blown off the land, but we must conclude that they voluntarily took flight. The great bands of the Colias seem at first to afford an instance like those on record of the migrations of another butterfly, Vanessa cardui; [5] but the presence of other insects makes the case distinct, and even less intelligible. Before sunset a strong breeze sprung up from the north, and this must have caused tens of thousands of the butterflies and other insects to have perished.

On another occasion, when seventeen miles off Cape Corrientes, I had a net overboard to catch pelagic animals. Upon drawing it up, to my surprise, I found a considerable number of beetles in it, and although in the open sea, they did not appear much injured by the salt water. I lost some of the specimens, but those which I preserved belonged to the genera Colymbetes, Hydroporus, Hydrobius (two species), Notaphus, Cynucus, Adimonia, and Scarabaeus. At first I thought that these insects had been blown from the shore; but upon reflecting that out of the eight species four were aquatic, and two others partly so in their habits, it appeared to me most probable that they were floated into the sea by a small stream which drains a lake near Cape Corrientes. On any supposition it is an interesting circumstance to find live insects swimming in the open ocean seventeen miles from the nearest point of land. There are several accounts of insects having been blown off the Patagonian shore. Captain Cook observed it, as did more lately Captain King of the Adventure. The cause probably is due to the want of shelter, both of trees and hills, so that an insect on the wing with an off-shore breeze, would be very apt to be blown out to sea. The most remarkable instance I have known of an insect being caught far from the land, was that of a large grasshopper (Acrydium), which flew on board, when the Beagle was to windward of the Cape de Verd Islands, and when the nearest point of land, not directly opposed to the trade-wind, was Cape Blanco on the coast of Africa, 370 miles distant. [6]

On several occasions, when the Beagle has been within the mouth of the Plata, the rigging has been coated with the web of the Gossamer Spider. One day (November 1st, 1832) I paid particular attention to this subject. The weather had been fine and clear, and in the morning the air was full of patches of the flocculent web, as on an autumnal day in England. The ship was sixty miles distant from the land, in the direction of a steady though light breeze. Vast numbers of a small spider, about one-tenth of an inch in length, and of a dusky red colour, were attached to the webs. There must have been, I should suppose, some thousands on the ship. The little spider, when first coming in contact with the rigging, was always seated on a single thread, and not on the flocculent mass. This latter seems merely to be produced by the entanglement of the single threads. The spiders were all of one species, but of both sexes, together with young ones. These latter were distinguished by their smaller size and more dusky colour. I will not give the description of this spider, but merely state that it does not appear to me to be included in any of Latreille's genera. The little aeronaut as soon as it arrived on board was very active, running about, sometimes letting itself fall, and then reascending the same thread; sometimes employing itself in making a small and very irregular mesh in the corners between the ropes. It could run with facility on the surface of the water. When disturbed it lifted up its front legs, in the attitude of attention. On its first arrival it appeared very thirsty, and with exserted maxillae drank eagerly of drops of water, this same circumstance has been observed by Strack: may it not be in consequence of the little insect having passed through a dry and rarefied atmosphere? Its stock of web seemed inexhaustible. While watching some that were suspended by a single thread, I several times observed that the slightest breath of air bore them away out of sight, in a horizontal line.

On another occasion (25th) under similar circumstances, I repeatedly observed the same kind of small spider, either when placed or having crawled on some little eminence, elevate its abdomen, send forth a thread, and then sail away horizontally, but with a rapidity which was quite unaccountable. I thought I could perceive that the spider, before performing the above preparatory steps, connected its legs together with the most delicate threads, but I am not sure whether this observation was correct.
One day, at St. Fe, I had a better opportunity of observing some similar facts. A spider which was about three-tenths of an inch in length, and which in its general appearance resembled a Citigrade (therefore quite different from the gossamer), while standing on the summit of a post, darted forth four or five threads from its spinners. These, glittering in the sunshine, might be compared to diverging rays of light; they were not, however, straight, but in undulations like films of silk blown by the wind. They were more than a yard in length, and diverged in an ascending direction from the orifices. The spider then suddenly let go its hold of the post, and was quickly borne out of sight. The day was hot and apparently calm; yet under such circumstances, the atmosphere can never be so tranquil as not to affect a vane so delicate as the thread of a spider's web. If during a warm day we look either at the shadow of any object cast on a bank, or over a level plain at a distant landmark, the effect of an ascending current of heated air is almost always evident: such upward currents, it has been remarked, are also shown by the ascent of soap-bubbles, which will not rise in an in-doors room. Hence I think there is not much difficulty in understanding the ascent of the fine lines projected from a spider's spinners, and afterwards of the spider itself; the divergence of the lines has been attempted to be explained, I believe by Mr. Murray, by their similar electrical condition. The circumstance of spiders of the same species, but of different sexes and ages, being found on several occasions at the distance of many leagues from the land, attached in vast numbers to the lines, renders it probable that the habit of sailing through the air is as characteristic of this tribe, as that of diving is of the Argyroneta. We may then reject Latreille's supposition, that the gossamer owes its origin indifferently to the young of several genera of spiders: although, as we have seen, the young of other spiders do possess the power of performing aerial voyages. [7]

During our different passages south of the Plata, I often towed astern a net made of bunting, and thus caught many curious animals. Of Crustacea there were many strange and undescribed genera. One, which in some respects is allied to the Notopods (or those crabs which have their posterior legs placed almost on their backs, for the purpose of adhering to the under side of rocks), is very remarkable from the structure of its hind pair of legs. The penultimate joint, instead of terminating in a simple claw, ends in three bristle-like appendages of dissimilar lengths -- the longest equalling that of the entire leg. These claws are very thin, and are serrated with the finest teeth, directed backwards: their curved extremities are flattened, and on this part five most minute cups are placed which seem to act in the same manner as the suckers on the arms of the cuttle-fish. As the animal lives in the open sea, and probably wants a place of rest, I suppose this beautiful and most anomalous structure is adapted to take hold of floating marine animals.

In deep water, far from the land, the number of living creatures is extremely small: south of the latitude 35 degs., I never succeeded in catching anything besides some beroe, and a few species of minute entomostracous crustacea. In shoaler water, at the distance of a few miles from the coast, very many kinds of crustacea and some other animals are numerous, but only during the night. Between latitudes 56 and 57 degs. south of Cape Horn, the net was put astern several times; it never, however, brought up anything besides a few of two extremely minute species of Entomostraca. Yet whales and seals, petrels and albatross, are exceedingly abundant throughout this part of the ocean. It has always been a mystery to me on what the albatross, which lives far from the shore, can subsist; I presume that, like the condor, it is able to fast long; and that one good feast on the carcass of a putrid whale lasts for a long time. The central and intertropical parts of the Atlantic swarm with Pteropoda, Crustacea, and Radiata, and with their devourers the flying- fish, and again with their devourers the bonitos and albicores; I presume that the numerous lower pelagic animals feed on the Infusoria, which are now known, from the researches of Ehrenberg, to abound in the open ocean: but on what, in the clear blue water, do these Infusoria subsist?

While sailing a little south of the Plata on one very dark night, the sea presented a wonderful and most beautiful spectacle. There was a fresh breeze, and every part of the surface, which during the day is seen as foam, now glowed with a pale light. The vessel drove before her bows two billows of liquid phosphorus, and in her wake she was followed by a milky train. As far as the eye reached, the crest of every wave was bright, and the sky above the horizon, from the reflected glare of these livid flames, was not so utterly obscure as over the vault of the heavens.

As we proceed further southward the sea is seldom phosphorescent; and off Cape Horn I do not recollect more than once having seen it so, and then it was far from being brilliant. This circumstance probably has a close connection with the scarcity of organic beings in that part of the ocean. After the elaborate paper, [8] by Ehrenberg, on the phosphorescence of the sea, it is almost superfluous on my part to make any observations on the subject. I may however add, that the same torn and irregular particles of gelatinous matter, described by Ehrenberg, seem in the southern as well as in the northern hemisphere, to be the common cause of this phenomenon. The particles were so minute as easily to pass through fine gauze; yet many were distinctly visible by the naked eye. The water when placed in a tumbler and agitated, gave out sparks, but a small portion in a watch- glass scarcely ever was luminous. Ehrenberg states that these particles all retain a certain degree of irritability. My observations, some of which were made directly after taking up the water, gave a different result. I may also mention, that having used the net during one night, I allowed it to become partially dry, and having occasion twelve hours afterwards to employ it again, I found the whole surface sparkled as brightly as when first taken out of the water. It does not appear probable in this case, that the particles could have remained so long alive. On one occasion having kept a jelly-fish of the genus Dianaea till it was dead, the water in which it was placed became luminous. When the waves scintillate with bright green sparks, I believe it is generally owing to minute crustacea. But there can be no doubt that very many other pelagic animals, when alive, are phosphorescent.

On two occasions I have observed the sea luminous at considerable depths beneath the surface. Near the mouth of the Plata some circular and oval patches, from two to four yards in diameter, and with defined outlines, shone with a steady but pale light; while the surrounding water only gave out a few sparks. The appearance resembled the reflection of the moon, or some luminous body; for the edges were sinuous from the undulations of the surface. The ship, which drew thirteen feet of water, passed over, without disturbing these patches. Therefore we must suppose that some animals were congregated together at a greater depth than the bottom of the vessel.

Near Fernando Noronha the sea gave out light in flashes. The appearance was very similar to that which might be expected from a large fish moving rapidly through a luminous fluid. To this cause the sailors attributed it; at the time, however, I entertained some doubts, on account of the frequency and rapidity of the flashes. I have already remarked that the phenomenon is very much more common in warm than in cold countries; and I have sometimes imagined that a disturbed electrical condition of the atmosphere was most favourable to its production. Certainly I think the sea is most luminous after a few days of more calm weather than ordinary, during which time it has swarmed with various animals. Observing that the water charged with gelatinous particles is in an impure state, and that the luminous appearance in all common cases is produced by the agitation of the fluid in contact with the atmosphere, I am inclined to consider that the phosphorescence is the result of the decomposition of the organic particles, by which process (one is tempted almost to call it a kind of respiration) the ocean becomes purified.

December 23rd. -- We arrived at Port Desire, situated in lat. 47 degs., on the coast of Patagonia. The creek runs for about twenty miles inland, with an irregular width. The Beagle anchored a few miles within the entrance, in front of the ruins of an old Spanish settlement.

The same evening I went on shore. The first landing in any new country is very interesting, and especially when, as in this case, the whole aspect bears the stamp of a marked and individual character. At the height of between two and three hundred feet above some masses of porphyry a wide plain extends, which is truly characteristic of Patagonia. The surface is quite level, and is composed of well-rounded shingle mixed with a whitish earth. Here and there scattered tufts of brown wiry grass are supported, and still more rarely, some low thorny bushes. The weather is dry and pleasant, and the fine blue sky is but seldom obscured. When standing in the middle of one of these desert plains and looking towards the interior, the view is generally bounded by the escarpment of another plain, rather higher, but equally level and desolate; and in every other direction the horizon is indistinct from the trembling mirage which seems to rise from the heated surface.

In such a country the fate of the Spanish settlement was soon decided; the dryness of the climate during the greater part of the year, and the occasional hostile attacks of the wandering Indians, compelled the colonists to desert their half-finished buildings. The style, however, in which they were commenced shows the strong and liberal hand of Spain in the old time. The result of all the attempts to colonize this side of America south of 41 degs., has been miserable. Port Famine expresses by its name the lingering and extreme sufferings of several hundred wretched people, of whom one alone survived to relate their misfortunes. At St. Joseph's Bay, on the coast of Patagonia, a small settlement was made; but during one Sunday the Indians made an attack and massacred the whole party, excepting two men, who remained captives during many years. At the Rio Negro I conversed with one of these men, now in extreme old age.
The zoology of Patagonia is as limited as its flora. [9] On the arid plains a few black beetles (Heteromera) might be seen slowly crawling about, and occasionally a lizard darted from side to side. Of birds we have three carrion hawks and in the valleys a few finches and insect-feeders. An ibis (Theristicus melanops -- a species said to be found in central Africa) is not uncommon on the most desert parts: in their stomachs I found grasshoppers, cicadae, small lizards, and even scorpions. [10] At one time of the year these birds go in flocks, at another in pairs, their cry is very loud and singular, like the neighing of the guanaco.

The guanaco, or wild llama, is the characteristic quadruped of the plains of Patagonia; it is the South American representative of the camel of the East. It is an elegant animal in a state of nature, with a long slender neck and fine legs. It is very common over the whole of the temperate parts of the continent, as far south as the islands near Cape Horn. It generally lives in small herds of from half a dozen to thirty in each; but on the banks of the St. Cruz we saw one herd which must have contained at least five hundred.

They are generally wild and extremely wary. Mr. Stokes told me, that he one day saw through a glass a herd of these animals which evidently had been frightened, and were running away at full speed, although their distance was so great that he could not distinguish them with his naked eye. The sportsman frequently receives the first notice of their presence, by hearing from a long distance their peculiar shrill neighing note of alarm. If he then looks attentively, he will probably see the herd standing in a line on the side of some distant hill. On approaching nearer, a few more squeals are given, and off they set at an apparently slow, but really quick canter, along some narrow beaten track to a neighbouring hill. If, however, by chance he abruptly meets a single animal, or several together, they will generally stand motionless and intently gaze at him; then perhaps move on a few yards, turn round, and look again. What is the cause of this difference in their shyness? Do they mistake a man in the distance for their chief enemy the puma? Or does curiosity overcome their timidity? That they are curious is certain; for if a person lies on the ground, and plays strange antics, such as throwing up his feet in the air, they will almost always approach by degrees to reconnoitre him. It was an artifice that was repeatedly practised by our sportsmen with success, and it had moreover the advantage of allowing several shots to be fired, which were all taken as parts of the performance. On the mountains of Tierra del Fuego, I have more than once seen a guanaco, on being approached, not only neigh and squeal, but prance and leap about in the most ridiculous manner, apparently in defiance as a challenge. These animals are very easily domesticated, and I have seen some thus kept in northern Patagonia near a house, though not under any restraint. They are in this state very bold, and readily attack a man by striking him from behind with both knees. It is asserted that the motive for these attacks is jealousy on account of their females. The wild guanacos, however, have no idea of defence; even a single dog will secure one of these large animals, till the huntsman can come up. In many of their habits they are like sheep in a flock. Thus when they see men approaching in several directions on horseback, they soon become bewildered, and know not which way to run. This greatly facilitates the Indian method of hunting, for they are thus easily driven to a central point, and are encompassed.
The guanacos readily take to the water: several times at Port Valdes they were seen swimming from island to island. Byron, in his voyage says he saw them drinking salt water. Some of our officers likewise saw a herd apparently drinking the briny fluid from a salina near Cape Blanco. I imagine in several parts of the country, if they do not drink salt water, they drink none at all. In the middle of the day they frequently roll in the dust, in saucer-shaped hollows. The males fight together; two one day passed quite close to me, squealing and trying to bite each other; and several were shot with their hides deeply scored. Herds sometimes appear to set out on exploring parties: at Bahia Blanca, where, within thirty miles of the coast, these animals are extremely unfrequent, I one day saw the tracks of thirty or forty, which had come in a direct line to a muddy salt-water creek. They then must have perceived that they were approaching the sea, for they had wheeled with the regularity of cavalry, and had returned back in as straight a line as they had advanced. The guanacos have one singular habit, which is to me quite inexplicable; namely, that on successive days they drop their dung in the same defined heap. I saw one of these heaps which was eight feet in diameter, and was composed of a large quantity. This habit, according to M. A. d'Orbigny, is common to all the species of the genus; it is very useful to the Peruvian Indians, who use the dung for fuel, and are thus saved the trouble of collecting it.

The guanacos appear to have favourite spots for lying down to die. On the banks of the St. Cruz, in certain circumscribed spaces, which were generally bushy and all near the river, the ground was actually white with bones. On one such spot I counted between ten and twenty heads. I particularly examined the bones; they did not appear, as some scattered ones which I had seen, gnawed or broken, as if dragged together by beasts of prey. The animals in most cases must have crawled, before dying, beneath and amongst the bushes. Mr. Bynoe informs me that during a former voyage he observed the same circumstance on the banks of the Rio Gallegos. I do not at all understand the reason of this, but I may observe, that the wounded guanacos at the St. Cruz invariably walked towards the river. At St. Jago in the Cape de Verd Islands, I remember having seen in a ravine a retired corner covered with bones of the goat; we at the time exclaimed that it was the burial ground of all the goats in the island. I mention these trifling circumstances, because in certain cases they might explain the occurrence of a number of uninjured bones in a cave, or buried under alluvial accumulations; and likewise the cause why certain animals are more commonly embedded than others in sedimentary deposits.

One day the yawl was sent under the command of Mr. Chaffers with three days' provisions to survey the upper part of the harbour. In the morning we searched for some watering-places mentioned in an old Spanish chart. We found one creek, at the head of which there was a trickling rill (the first we had seen) of brackish water. Here the tide compelled us to wait several hours; and in the interval I walked some miles into the interior. The plain as usual consisted of gravel, mingled with soil resembling chalk in appearance, but very different from it in nature. From the softness of these materials it was worn into many gulleys. There was not a tree, and, excepting the guanaco, which stood on the hill-top a watchful sentinel over its herd, scarcely an animal or a bird. All was stillness and desolation. Yet in passing over these scenes, without one bright object near, an ill-defined but strong sense of pleasure is vividly excited. One asked how many ages the plain had thus lasted, and how many more it was doomed thus to continue.

"None can reply -- all seems eternal now. The wilderness has a mysterious tongue, Which teaches awful doubt." [11]

In the evening we sailed a few miles further up, and then pitched the tents for the night. By the middle of the next day the yawl was aground, and from the shoalness of the water could not proceed any higher. The water being found partly fresh, Mr. Chaffers took the dingey and went up two or three miles further, where she also grounded, but in a freshwater river. The water was muddy, and though the stream was most insignificant in size, it would be difficult to account for its origin, except from the melting snow on the Cordillera. At the spot where we bivouacked, we were surrounded by bold cliffs and steep pinnacles of porphyry. I do not think I ever saw a spot which appeared more secluded from the rest of the world, than this rocky crevice in the wide plain.

The second day after our return to the anchorage, a party of officers and myself went to ransack an old Indian grave, which I had found on the summit of a neighbouring hill. Two immense stones, each probably weighing at least a couple of tons, had been placed in front of a ledge of rock about six feet high. At the bottom of the grave on the hard rock there was a layer of earth about a foot deep, which must have been brought up from the plain below. Above it a pavement of flat stones was placed, on which others were piled, so as to fill up the space between the ledge and the two great blocks. To complete the grave, the Indians had contrived to detach from the ledge a huge fragment, and to throw it over the pile so as to rest on the two blocks. We undermined the grave on both sides, but could not find any relics, or even bones. The latter probably had decayed long since (in which case the grave must have been of extreme antiquity), for I found in another place some smaller heaps beneath which a very few crumbling fragments could yet be distinguished as having belonged to a man. Falconer states, that where an Indian dies he is buried, but that subsequently his bones are carefully taken up and carried, let the distance be ever so great, to be deposited near the sea-coast. This custom, I think, may be accounted for by recollecting, that before the introduction of horses, these Indians must have led nearly the same life as the Fuegians now do, and therefore generally have resided in the neighbourhood of the sea. The common prejudice of lying where one's ancestors have lain, would make the now roaming Indians bring the less perishable part of their dead to their ancient burial-ground on the coast.

January 9th, 1834. -- Before it was dark the Beagle anchored in the fine spacious harbour of Port St. Julian, situated about one hundred and ten miles to the south of Port Desire. We remained here eight days. The country is nearly similar to that of Port Desire, but perhaps rather more sterile. One day a party accompanied Captain Fitz Roy on a long walk round the head of the harbour. We were eleven hours without tasting any water, and some of the party were quite exhausted. From the summit of a hill (since well named Thirsty Hill) a fine lake was spied, and two of the party proceeded with concerted signals to show whether it was fresh water. What was our disappointment to find a snow-white expanse of salt, crystallized in great cubes! We attributed our extreme thirst to the dryness of the atmosphere; but whatever the cause might be, we were exceedingly glad late in the evening to get back to the boats. Although we could nowhere find, during our whole visit, a single drop of fresh water, yet some must exist; for by an odd chance I found on the surface of the salt water, near the head of the bay, a Colymbetes not quite dead, which must have lived in some not far distant pool. Three other insects (a Cincindela, like hybrida, a Cymindis, and a Harpalus, which all live on muddy flats occasionally overflowed by the sea), and one other found dead on the plain, complete the list of the beetles. A good-sized fly (Tabanus) was extremely numerous, and tormented us by its painful bite. The common horsefly, which is so troublesome in the shady lanes of England, belongs to this same genus. We here have the puzzle that so frequently occurs in the case of musquitoes -- on the blood of what animals do these insects commonly feed? The guanaco is nearly the only warm-blooded quadruped, and it is found in quite inconsiderable numbers compared with the multitude of flies.

The geology of Patagonia is interesting. Differently from Europe, where the tertiary formations appear to have accumulated in bays, here along hundreds of miles of coast we have one great deposit, including many tertiary shells, all apparently extinct. The most common shell is a massive gigantic oyster, sometimes even a foot in diameter. These beds are covered by others of a peculiar soft white stone, including much gypsum, and resembling chalk, but really of a pumiceous nature. It is highly remarkable, from being composed, to at least one-tenth of its bulk, of Infusoria. Professor Ehrenberg has already ascertained in it thirty oceanic forms. This bed extends for 500 miles along the coast, and probably for a considerably greater distance. At Port St. Julian its thickness is more than 800 feet! These white beds are everywhere capped by a mass of gravel, forming probably one of the largest beds of shingle in the world: it certainly extends from near the Rio Colorado to between 600 and 700 nautical miles southward, at Santa Cruz (a river a little south of St. Julian), it reaches to the foot of the Cordillera; half way up the river, its thickness is more than 200 feet; it probably everywhere extends to this great chain, whence the well-rounded pebbles of porphyry have been derived: we may consider its average breadth as 200 miles, and its average thickness as about 50 feet. If this great bed of pebbles, without including the mud necessarily derived from their attrition, was piled into a mound, it would form a great mountain chain! When we consider that all these pebbles, countless as the grains of sand in the desert, have been derived from the slow falling of masses of rock on the old coast-lines and banks of rivers, and that these fragments have been dashed into smaller pieces, and that each of them has since been slowly rolled, rounded, and far transported the mind is stupefied in thinking over the long, absolutely necessary, lapse of years. Yet all this gravel has been transported, and probably rounded, subsequently to the deposition of the white beds, and long subsequently to the underlying beds with the tertiary shells.

Everything in this southern continent has been effected on a grand scale: the land, from the Rio Plata to Tierra del Fuego, a distance of 1200 miles, has been raised in mass (and in Patagonia to a height of between 300 and 400 feet), within the period of the now existing sea-shells. The old and weathered shells left on the surface of the upraised plain still partially retain their colours. The uprising movement has been interrupted by at least eight long periods of rest, during which the sea ate, deeply back into the land, forming at successive levels the long lines of cliffs, or escarpments, which separate the different plains as they rise like steps one behind the other. The elevatory movement, and the eating-back power of the sea during the periods of rest, have been equable over long lines of coast; for I was astonished to find that the step-like plains stand at nearly corresponding heights at far distant points. The lowest plain is 90 feet high; and the highest, which I ascended near the coast, is 950 feet; and of this, only relics are left in the form of flat gravel-capped hills. The upper plain of Santa Cruz slopes up to a height of 3000 feet at the foot of the Cordillera. I have said that within the period of existing seashells, Patagonia has been upraised 300 to 400 feet: I may add, that within the period when icebergs transported boulders over the upper plain of Santa Cruz, the elevation has been at least 1500 feet. Nor has Patagonia been affected only by upward movements: the extinct tertiary shells from Port St. Julian and Santa Cruz cannot have lived, according to Professor E. Forbes, in a greater depth of water than from 40 to 250 feet; but they are now covered with sea-deposited strata from 800 to 1000 feet in thickness: hence the bed of the sea, on which these shells once lived, must have sunk downwards several hundred feet, to allow of the accumulation of the superincumbent strata. What a history of geological changes does the simply-constructed coast of Patagonia reveal!

At Port St. Julian, [12] in some red mud capping the gravel on the 90-feet plain, I found half the skeleton of the Macrauchenia Patachonica, a remarkable quadruped, full as large as a camel. It belongs to the same division of the Pachydermata with the rhinoceros, tapir, and palaeotherium; but in the structure of the bones of its long neck it shows a clear relation to the camel, or rather to the guanaco and llama. From recent sea-shells being found on two of the higher step-formed plains, which must have been modelled and upraised before the mud was deposited in which the Macrauchenia was entombed, it is certain that this curious quadruped lived long after the sea was inhabited by its present shells. I was at first much surprised how a large quadruped could so lately have subsisted, in lat. 49 degs. 15', on these wretched gravel plains, with their stunted vegetation; but the relationship of the Macrauchenia to the Guanaco, now an inhabitant of the most sterile parts, partly explains this difficulty.

The relationship, though distant, between the Macrauchenia and the Guanaco, between the Toxodon and the Capybara, -- the closer relationship between the many extinct Edentata and the living sloths, ant-eaters, and armadillos, now so eminently characteristic of South American zoology, -- and the still closer relationship between the fossil and living species of Ctenomys and Hydrochaerus, are most interesting facts. This relationship is shown wonderfully -- as wonderfully as between the fossil and extinct Marsupial animals of Australia -- by the great collection lately brought to Europe from the caves of Brazil by MM. Lund and Clausen. In this collection there are extinct species of all the thirty-two genera, excepting four, of the terrestrial quadrupeds now inhabiting the provinces in which the caves occur; and the extinct species are much more numerous than those now living: there are fossil ant-eaters, armadillos, tapirs, peccaries, guanacos, opossums, and numerous South American gnawers and monkeys, and other animals. This wonderful relationship in the same continent between the dead and the living, will, I do not doubt, hereafter throw more light on the appearance of organic beings on our earth, and their disappearance from it, than any other class of facts.
It is impossible to reflect on the changed state of the American continent without the deepest astonishment. Formerly it must have swarmed with great monsters: now we find mere pigmies, compared with the antecedent, allied races. If Buffon had known of the gigantic sloth and armadillo-like animals, and of the lost Pachydermata, he might have said with a greater semblance of truth that the creative force in America had lost its power, rather than that it had never possessed great vigour. The greater number, if not all, of these extinct quadrupeds lived at a late period, and were the contemporaries of most of the existing sea-shells. Since they lived, no very great change in the form of the land can have taken place. What, then, has exterminated so many species and whole genera? The mind at first is irresistibly hurried into the belief of some great catastrophe; but thus to destroy animals, both large and small, in Southern Patagonia, in Brazil, on the Cordillera of Peru, in North America up to Behring's Straits, we must shake the entire framework of the globe. An examination, moreover, of the geology of La Plata and Patagonia, leads to the belief that all the features of the land result from slow and gradual changes. It appears from the character of the fossils in Europe, Asia, Australia, and in North and South America, that those conditions which favour the life of the _larger_ quadrupeds were lately co-extensive with the world: what those conditions were, no one has yet even conjectured. It could hardly have been a change of temperature, which at about the same time destroyed the inhabitants of tropical, temperate, and arctic latitudes on both sides of the globe. In North America we positively know from Mr. Lyell, that the large quadrupeds lived subsequently to that period, when boulders were brought into latitudes at which icebergs now never arrive: from conclusive but indirect reasons we may feel sure, that in the southern hemisphere the Macrauchenia, also, lived long subsequently to the ice-transporting boulder-period. Did man, after his first inroad into South America, destroy, as has been suggested, the unwieldy Megatherium and the other Edentata? We must at least look to some other cause for the destruction of the little tucutuco at Bahia Blanca, and of the many fossil mice and other small quadrupeds in Brazil. No one will imagine that a drought, even far severer than those which cause such losses in the provinces of La Plata, could destroy every individual of every species from Southern Patagonia to Behring's Straits. What shall we say of the extinction of the horse? Did those plains fail of pasture, which have since been overrun by thousands and hundreds of thousands of the descendants of the stock introduced by the Spaniards? Have the subsequently introduced species consumed the food of the great antecedent races? Can we believe that the Capybara has taken the food of the Toxodon, the Guanaco of the Macrauchenia, the existing small Edentata of their numerous gigantic prototypes? Certainly, no fact in the long history of the world is so startling as the wide and repeated exterminations of its inhabitants.

Nevertheless, if we consider the subject under another point of view, it will appear less perplexing. We do not steadily bear in mind, how profoundly ignorant we are of the conditions of existence of every animal; nor do we always remember, that some check is constantly preventing the too rapid increase of every organized being left in a state of nature. The supply of food, on an average, remains constant, yet the tendency in every animal to increase by propagation is geometrical; and its surprising effects have nowhere been more astonishingly shown, than in the case of the European animals run wild during the last few centuries in America. Every animal in a state of nature regularly breeds; yet in a species long established, any _great_ increase in numbers is obviously impossible, and must be checked by some means. We are, nevertheless, seldom able with certainty to tell in any given species, at what period of life, or at what period of the year, or whether only at long intervals, the check falls; or, again, what is the precise nature of the check. Hence probably it is, that we feel so little surprise at one, of two species closely allied in habits, being rare and the other abundant in the same district; or, again, that one should be abundant in one district, and another, filling the same place in the economy of nature, should be abundant in a neighbouring district, differing very little in its conditions. If asked how this is, one immediately replies that it is determined by some slight difference, in climate, food, or the number of enemies: yet how rarely, if ever, we can point out the precise cause and manner of action of the check! We are therefore, driven to the conclusion, that causes generally quite inappreciable by us, determine whether a given species shall be abundant or scanty in numbers.

In the cases where we can trace the extinction of a species through man, either wholly or in one limited district, we know that it becomes rarer and rarer, and is then lost: it would be difficult to point out any just distinction [13] between a species destroyed by man or by the increase of its natural enemies. The evidence of rarity preceding extinction, is more striking in the successive tertiary strata, as remarked by several able observers; it has often been found that a shell very common in a tertiary stratum is now most rare, and has even long been thought extinct. If then, as appears probable, species first become rare and then extinct -- if the too rapid increase of every species, even the most favoured, is steadily checked, as we must admit, though how and when it is hard to say -- and if we see, without the smallest surprise, though unable to assign the precise reason, one species abundant and another closely allied species rare in the same district -- why should we feel such great astonishment at the rarity being carried one step further to extinction? An action going on, on every side of us, and yet barely appreciable, might surely be carried a little further, without exciting our observation. Who would feel any great surprise at hearing that the Magalonyx was formerly rare compared with the Megatherium, or that one of the fossil monkeys was few in number compared with one of the now living monkeys? and yet in this comparative rarity, we should have the plainest evidence of less favourable conditions for their existence. To admit that species generally become rare before they become extinct -- to feel no surprise at the comparative rarity of one species with another, and yet to call in some extraordinary agent and to marvel greatly when a species ceases to exist, appears to me much the same as to admit that sickness in the individual is the prelude to death -- to feel no surprise at sickness -- but when the sick man dies to wonder, and to believe that he died through violence.

[1] Mr. Waterhouse has drawn up a detailed description of this head, which I hope he will publish in some Journal.

[2] A nearly similar abnormal, but I do not know whether hereditary, structure has been observed in the carp, and likewise in the crocodile of the Ganges: Histoire des Anomalies, par M. Isid. Geoffroy St. Hilaire, tom. i. p. 244.

[3] M. A. d'Orbigny has given nearly a similar account of these dogs, tom. i. p. 175. [4] I must express my obligations to Mr. Keane, at whose house I was staying on the Berquelo, and to Mr. Lumb at Buenos Ayres, for without their assistance these valuable remains would never have reached England.

[5] Lyell's Principles of Geology, vol. iii. p. 63.

 

[6] The flies which frequently accompany a ship for some days on its passage from harbour to harbour, wandering from the vessel, are soon lost, and all disappear.

 

[7] Mr. Blackwall, in his Researches in Zoology, has many excellent observations on the habits of spiders.

 

[8] An abstract is given in No. IV. of the Magazine of Zoology and Botany.

[9] I found here a species of cactus, described by Professor Henslow, under the name of Opuntia Darwinii (Magazine of Zoology and Botany, vol. i. p. 466), which was remarkable for the irritability of the stamens, when I inserted either a piece of stick or the end of my finger in the flower. The segments of the perianth also closed on the pistil, but more slowly than the stamens. Plants of this family, generally considered as tropical, occur in North America (Lewis and Clarke's Travels, p. 221), in the same high latitude as here, namely, in both cases, in 47 degs.

[10] These insects were not uncommon beneath stones. I found one cannibal scorpion quietly devouring another.

 

[11] Shelley, Lines on Mt. Blanc.

[12] I have lately heard that Capt. Sulivan, R.N., has found numerous fossil bones, embedded in regular strata, on the banks of the R. Gallegos, in lat. 51 degs. 4'. Some of the bones are large; others are small, and appear to have belonged to an armadillo. This is a most interesting and important discovery.

[13] See the excellent remarks on this subject by Mr. Lyell, in his Principles of Geology.

Santa Cruz, Patagonia, And The Falkland Islands

Santa Cruz -- Expedition up the River -- Indians -- Immense Streams of Basaltic Lava -Fragments not transported by the River -- Excavations of the Valley -- Condor, Habits of
-- Cordillera -- Erratic Boulders of great size -- Indian Relics -- Return to the Ship -- Falkland Islands -- Wild Horses, Cattle, Rabbits -- Wolf-like Fox -- Fire made of Bones
- Manner of Hunting Wild Cattle -- Geology -- Streams of Stones -- Scenes of Violence -- Penguins -- Geese -- Eggs of Doris -- Compound Animals.

APRIL 13, 1834. -- The Beagle anchored within the mouth of the Santa Cruz. This river is situated about sixty miles south of Port St. Julian. During the last voyage Captain Stokes proceeded thirty miles up it, but then, from the want of provisions, was obliged to return. Excepting what was discovered at that time, scarcely anything was known about this large river. Captain Fitz Roy now determined to follow its course as far as time would allow. On the 18th three whale-boats started, carrying three weeks' provisions; and the party consisted of twenty-five souls -- a force which would have been sufficient to have defied a host of Indians. With a strong flood-tide and a fine day we made a good run, soon drank some of the fresh water, and were at night nearly above the tidal influence.

The river here assumed a size and appearance which, even at the highest point we ultimately reached, was scarcely diminished. It was generally from three to four hundred yards broad, and in the middle about seventeen feet deep. The rapidity of the current, which in its whole course runs at the rate of from four to six knots an hour, is perhaps its most remarkable feature. The water is of a fine blue colour, but with a slight milky tinge, and not so transparent as at first sight would have been expected. It flows over a bed of pebbles, like those which compose the beach and the surrounding plains. It runs in a winding course through valley, which extends in a direct line westward. This valle varies from five to ten miles in breadth; it is bounded b step-formed terraces, which rise in most parts, one above th other, to the height of five hundred feet, and have on th opposite sides a remarkable correspondence.

April 19th. -- Against so strong a current it was, o course, quite impossible to row or sail: consequently th three boats were fastened together head and stern, two hand left in each, and the rest came on shore to track. As th general arrangements made by Captain Fitz Roy were ver good for facilitating the work of all, and as all had a shar in it, I will describe the system. The party including ever one, was divided into two spells, each of which hauled at th tracking line alternately for an hour and a half. The officers of each boat lived with, ate the same food, and slep in the same tent with their crew, so that each boat wa quite independent of the others. After sunset the first leve spot where any bushes were growing, was chosen for ou night's lodging. Each of the crew took it in turns to b cook. Immediately the boat was hauled up, the cook mad his fire; two others pitched the tent; the coxswain hande the things out of the boat; the rest carried them up to th tents and collected firewood. By this order, in half an hou everything was ready for the night. A watch of two me and an officer was always kept, whose duty it was to loo after the boats, keep up the fire, and guard against Indians Each in the party had his one hour every night.

During this day we tracked but a short distance, for ther were many islets, covered by thorny bushes, and the channels between them were shallow.

April 20th. -- We passed the islands and set to work. Ou regular day's march, although it was hard enough, carrie us on an average only ten miles in a straight line, and perhaps fifteen or twenty altogether. Beyond the place wher we slept last night, the country is completely _terra incognita_ for it was there that Captain Stokes turned back. We sa in the distance a great smoke, and found the skeleton of horse, so we knew that Indians were in the neighbourhood On the next morning (21st) tracks of a party of horse and marks left by the trailing of the chuzos, or long spears were observed on the ground. It was generally though that the Indians had reconnoitred us during the night Shortly afterwards we came to a spot where, from the fres footsteps of men, children, and horses, it was evident tha the party had crossed the river.

April 22nd. -- The country remained the same, and wa extremely uninteresting. The complete similarity of th productions throughout Patagonia is one of its most striking characters. The level plains of arid shingle suppor the same stunted and dwarf plants; and in the valleys th same thorn-bearing bushes grow. Everywhere we see th same birds and insects. Even the very banks of the rive and of the clear streamlets which entered it, were scarcel enlivened by a brighter tint of green. The curse of sterilit is on the land, and the water flowing over a bed of pebble partakes of the same curse. Hence the number of waterfowl is very scanty; for there is nothing to support life i the stream of this barren river.

Patagonia, poor as she is in some respects, can howeve boast of a greater stock of small rodents [1] than perhaps an other country in the world. Several species of mice ar externally characterized by large thin ears and a very fin fur. These little animals swarm amongst the thickets in th valleys, where they cannot for months together taste a dro of water excepting the dew. They all seem to be cannibals for no sooner was a mouse caught in one of my traps tha it was devoured by others. A small and delicately shape fox, which is likewise very abundant, probably derives it entire support from these small animals. The guanaco i also in his proper district, herds of fifty or a hundred wer common; and, as I have stated, we saw one which mus have contained at least five hundred. The puma, with th condor and other carrion-hawks in its train, follows an preys upon these animals. The footsteps of the puma wer to be seen almost everywhere on the banks of the river and the remains of several guanacos, with their neck dislocated and bones broken, showed how they had met thei death.

April 24th. -- Like the navigators of old when approachin an unknown land, we examined and watched for the mos trivial sign of a change. The drifted trunk of a tree, or boulder of primitive rock, was hailed with joy, as if we ha seen a forest growing on the flanks of the Cordillera. Th top, however, of a heavy bank of clouds, which remaine almost constantly in one position, was the most promisin sign, and eventually turned out a true harbinger. At first th clouds were mistaken for the mountains themselves, instea of the masses of vapour condensed by their icy summits.

April 26th. -- We this day met with a marked change i the geological structure of the plains. From the first starting I had carefully examined the gravel in the river, an for the two last days had noticed the presence of a few smal pebbles of a very cellular basalt. These gradually increase in number and in size, but none were as large as a man' head. This morning, however, pebbles of the same rock but more compact, suddenly became abundant, and in th course of half an hour we saw, at the distance of five o six miles, the angular edge of a great basaltic platform When we arrived at its base we found the stream bubblin among the fallen blocks. For the next twenty-eight mile the river-course was encumbered with these basaltic masses Above that limit immense fragments of primitive rocks derived from its surrounding boulder-formation, wer equally numerous. None of the fragments of any considerable size had been washed more than three or four mile down the river below their parent-source: considering th singular rapidity of the great body of water in the Sant Cruz, and that no still reaches occur in any part, this example is a most striking one, of the inefficiency of rivers i transporting even moderately-sized fragments.

The basalt is only lava, which has flowed beneath the sea but the eruptions must have been on the grandest scale. A the point where we first met this formation it was 120 fee in thickness; following up the river course, the surfac imperceptibly rose and the mass became thicker, so that a forty miles above the first station it was 320 feet thick What the thickness may be close to the Cordillera, I hav no means of knowing, but the platform there attains a heigh of about three thousand feet above the level of the sea we must therefore look to the mountains of that great chai for its source; and worthy of such a source are streams tha have flowed over the gently inclined bed of the sea to distance of one hundred miles. At the first glance of th basaltic cliffs on the opposite sides of the valley, it wa evident that the strata once were united. What power, then has removed along a whole line of country, a solid mass o very hard rock, which had an average thickness of nearl three hundred feet, and a breadth varying from rather les than two miles to four miles? The river, though it has s little power in transporting even inconsiderable fragments yet in the lapse of ages might produce by its gradual erosio an effect of which it is difficult to judge the amount. Bu in this case, independently of the insignificance of such a agency, good reasons can be assigned for believing that thi valley was formerly occupied by an arm of the sea. It i needless in this work to detail the arguments leading to thi conclusion, derived from the form and the nature of th stepformed terraces on both sides of the valley, from th manner in which the bottom of the valley near the Ande expands into a great estuary-like plain with sand-hillock on it, and from the occurrence of a few sea-shells lying i the bed of the river. If I had space I could prove tha South America was formerly here cut off by a strait, joinin the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, like that of Magellan But it may yet be asked, how has the solid basalt bee moved? Geologists formerly would have brought into play the violent action of some overwhelming debacle; but in thi case such a supposition would have been quite inadmissible because, the same step-like plains with existing sea-shell lying on their surface, which front the long line of the Patagonian coast, sweep up on each side of the valley of Sant Cruz. No possible action of any flood could thus hav modelled the land, either within the valley or along the ope coast; and by the formation of such step-like plains or terraces the valley itself had been hollowed out. Although w know that there are tides, which run within the Narrow of the Strait of Magellan at the rate of eight knots an hour yet we must confess that it makes the head almost giddy t reflect on the number of years, century after century, whic the tides, unaided by a heavy surf, must have required t have corroded so vast an area and thickness of solid basalti lava. Nevertheless, we must believe that the strata undermined by the waters of this ancient strait, were broken u into huge fragments, and these lying scattered on the beach were reduced first to smaller blocks, then to pebbles an lastly to the most impalpable mud, which the tides drifte far into the Eastern or Western Ocean.

With the change in the geological structure of the plain the character of the landscape likewise altered. While rambling up some of the narrow and rocky defiles, I could almos have fancied myself transported back again to the barre valleys of the island of St. Jago. Among the basaltic cliffs I found some plants which I had seen nowhere else, bu others I recognised as being wanderers from Tierra de Fuego. These porous rocks serve as a reservoir for th scanty rain-water; and consequently on the line where th igneous and sedimentary formations unite, some smal springs (most rare occurrences in Patagonia) burst forth and they could be distinguished at a distance by the circumscribed patches of bright green herbage.

April 27th. -- The bed of the river became rather narrower and hence the stream more rapid. It here ran at the rat of six knots an hour. From this cause, and from the man great angular fragments, tracking the boats became bot dangerous and laborious

This day I shot a condor. It measured from tip to ti of the wings, eight and a half feet, and from beak to tail four feet. This bird is known to have a wide geographica range, being found on the west coast of South America from the Strait of Magellan along the Cordillera as far a eight degrees north of the equator. The steep cliff near th mouth of the Rio Negro is its northern limit on the Patagonian coast; and they have there wandered about fou hundred miles from the great central line of their habitation in the Andes. Further south, among the bold precipices at the head of Port Desire, the condor is not uncommon; yet only a few stragglers occasionally visit the seacoast. A line of cliff near the mouth of the Santa Cruz i frequented by these birds, and about eighty miles up th river, where the sides of the valley are formed by stee basaltic precipices, the condor reappears. From these facts it seems that the condors require perpendicular cliffs. I Chile, they haunt, during the greater part of the year, th lower country near the shores of the Pacific, and at nigh several roost together in one tree; but in the early part o summer, they retire to the most inaccessible parts of th inner Cordillera, there to breed in peace.

With respect to their propagation, I was told by th country people in Chile, that the condor makes no sort o nest, but in the months of November and December lay two large white eggs on a shelf of bare rock. It is said tha the young condors cannot fly for an entire year; and lon after they are able, they continue to roost by night, an hunt by day with their parents. The old birds generally liv in pairs; but among the inland basaltic cliffs of the Sant Cruz, I found a spot, where scores must usually haunt. O coming suddenly to the brow of the precipice, it was a gran spectacle to see between twenty and thirty of these grea birds start heavily from their resting-place, and wheel awa in majestic circles. From the quantity of dung on the rocks they must long have frequented this cliff for roosting an breeding. Having gorged themselves with carrion on th plains below, they retire to these favourite ledges to diges their food. From these facts, the condor, like the gallinazo must to a certain degree be considered as a gregarious bird In this part of the country they live altogether on the guanacos which have died a natural death, or as more commonl happens, have been killed by the pumas. I believe, fro what I saw in Patagonia, that they do not on ordinary occasions extend their daily excursions to any great distanc from their regular sleeping-places.

The condors may oftentimes be seen at a great height soaring over a certain spot in the most graceful circles On some occasions I am sure that they do this only fo pleasure, but on others, the Chileno countryman tells yo that they are watching a dying animal, or the puma devouring its prey. If the condors glide down, and then suddenl all rise together, the Chileno knows that it is the pum which, watching the carcass, has sprung out to drive awa the robbers. Besides feeding on carrion, the condors frequently attack young goats and lambs; and the shepherd-dogs are trained, whenever they pass over, to run out, an looking upwards to bark violently. The Chilenos destro and catch numbers. Two methods are used; one is to plac a carcass on a level piece of ground within an enclosure o sticks with an opening, and when the condors are gorged to gallop up on horseback to the entrance, and thus enclos them: for when this bird has not space to run, it canno give its body sufficient momentum to rise from the ground The second method is to mark the trees in which, frequentl to the number of five or six together, they roost, and the at night to climb up and noose them. They are such heav sleepers, as I have myself witnessed, that this is not a difficult task. At Valparaiso, I have seen a living condor sol for sixpence, but the common price is eight or ten shillings One which I saw brought in, had been tied with rope, an was much injured; yet, the moment the line was cut b which its bill was secured, although surrounded by people it began ravenously to tear a piece of carrion. In a garde at the same place, between twenty and thirty were kept alive They were fed only once a week, but they appeared in prett good health. [2] The Chileno countrymen assert that the condor will live, and retain its vigour, between five and six week without eating: I cannot answer for the truth of this, bu it is a cruel experiment, which very likely has been tried.

When an animal is killed in the country, it is well know that the condors, like other carrion-vultures, soon gain intelligence of it, and congregate in an inexplicable manner In most cases it must not be overlooked, that the bird have discovered their prey, and have picked the skeleto clean, before the flesh is in the least degree tainted. Remembering the experiments of M. Audubon, on the littl smelling powers of carrion-hawks, I tried in the above mentioned garden the following experiment: the condor were tied, each by a rope, in a long row at the bottom of wall; and having folded up a piece of meat in white paper, walked backwards and forwards, carrying it in my hand a the distance of about three yards from them, but no notic whatever was taken. I then threw it on the ground, withi one yard of an old male bird; he looked at it for a momen with attention, but then regarded it no more. With a stic I pushed it closer and closer, until at last he touched it wit his beak; the paper was then instantly torn off with fury and at the same moment, every bird in the long row bega struggling and flapping its wings. Under the same circumstances, it would have been quite impossible to have deceive a dog. The evidence in favour of and against the acut smelling powers of carrion-vultures is singularly balanced Professor Owen has demonstrated that the olfactory nerve of the turkey-buzzard (Cathartes aura) are highly developed, and on the evening when Mr. Owen's paper was rea at the Zoological Society, it was mentioned by a gentlema that he had seen the carrion-hawks in the West Indies o two occasions collect on the roof of a house, when a corps had become offensive from not having been buried, in thi case, the intelligence could hardly have been acquired b sight. On the other hand, besides the experiments of Audubon and that one by myself, Mr. Bachman has tried in th United States many varied plans, showing that neither th turkey-buzzard (the species dissected by Professor Owen nor the gallinazo find their food by smell. He covered portions of highly-offensive offal with a thin canvas cloth, an strewed pieces of meat on it: these the carrion-vultures at up, and then remained quietly standing, with their beak within the eighth of an inch of the putrid mass, withou discovering it. A small rent was made in the canvas, an the offal was immediately discovered; the canvas was replaced by a fresh piece, and meat again put on it, and wa again devoured by the vultures without their discoverin the hidden mass on which they were trampling. These fact are attested by the signatures of six gentlemen, besides tha of Mr. Bachman. [3

Often when lying down to rest on the open plains, o looking upwards, I have seen carrion-hawks sailing throug the air at a great height. Where the country is level I d not believe a space of the heavens, of more than fifteen degrees above the horizon, is commonly viewed with any attention by a person either walking or on horseback. If suc be the case, and the vulture is on the wing at a height o between three and four thousand feet, before it could com within the range of vision, its distance in a straight lin from the beholder's eye, would be rather more than tw British miles. Might it not thus readily be overlooked When an animal is killed by the sportsman in a lonely valley may he not all the while be watched from above by th sharp-sighted bird? And will not the manner of its descen proclaim throughout the district to the whole family o carrion-feeders, that their prey is at hand?

When the condors are wheeling in a flock round an round any spot, their flight is beautiful. Except when risin from the ground, I do not recollect ever having seen on of these birds flap its wings. Near Lima, I watched severa for nearly half an hour, without once taking off my eyes they moved in large curves, sweeping in circles, descendin and ascending without giving a single flap. As they glide close over my head, I intently watched from an oblique position, the outlines of the separate and great terminal feather of each wing; and these separate feathers, if there had bee the least vibratory movement, would have appeared as i blended together; but they were seen distinct against th blue sky. The head and neck were moved frequently, an apparently with force; and the extended wings seemed t form the fulcrum on which the movements of the neck, body and tail acted. If the bird wished to descend, the wing were for a moment collapsed; and when again expande with an altered inclination, the momentum gained by th rapid descent seemed to urge the bird upwards with th even and steady movement of a paper kite. In the case o any bird soaring, its motion must be sufficiently rapid s that the action of the inclined surface of its body on th atmosphere may counterbalance its gravity. The force t keep up the momentum of a body moving in a horizonta plane in the air (in which there is so little friction) canno be great, and this force is all that is wanted. The movement of the neck and body of the condor, we must suppose is sufficient for this. However this may be, it is truly wonderful and beautiful to see so great a bird, hour after hour without any apparent exertion, wheeling and gliding ove mountain and river

April 29th. -- From some high land we hailed with jo the white summits of the Cordillera, as they were seen occasionally peeping through their dusky envelope of clouds During the few succeeding days we continued to get o slowly, for we found the river-course very tortuous, an strewed with immense fragments of various ancient slat rocks, and of granite. The plain bordering the valley ha here attained an elevation of about 1100 feet above the river and its character was much altered. The well-rounded pebbles of porphyry were mingled with many immense angula fragments of basalt and of primary rocks. The first of thes erratic boulders which I noticed, was sixty-seven miles distant from the nearest mountain; another which I measure was five yards square, and projected five feet above th gravel. Its edges were so angular, and its size so great, tha I at first mistook it for a rock _in situ_, and took out my compass to observe the direction of its cleavage. The plain her was not quite so level as that nearer the coast, but yet i betrayed no signs of any great violence. Under these circumstances it is, I believe, quite impossible to explain th transportal of these gigantic masses of rock so many mile from their parent-source, on any theory except by that o floating icebergs.

During the two last days we met with signs of horses, an with several small articles which had belonged to the Indian -- such as parts of a mantle and a bunch of ostrich feathers -- but they appeared to have been lying long on the ground Between the place where the Indians had so lately crosse the river and this neighbourhood, though so many mile apart, the country appears to be quite unfrequented. At first considering the abundance of the guanacos, I was surprise at this; but it is explained by the stony nature of the plains which would soon disable an unshod horse from taking par in the chase. Nevertheless, in two places in this very centra region, I found small heaps of stones, which I do not thin could have been accidentally thrown together. They wer placed on points, projecting over the edge of the highest lav cliff, and they resembled, but on a small scale, those nea Port Desire.

May 4th. -- Captain Fitz Roy determined to take the boat no higher. The river had a winding course, and was ver rapid; and the appearance of the country offered no temptation to proceed any further. Everywhere we met with th same productions, and the same dreary landscape. We wer now one hundred and forty miles distant from the Atlantic and about sixty from the nearest arm of the Pacific. Th valley in this upper part expanded into a wide basin, bounde on the north and south by the basaltic platforms, and fronte by the long range of the snow-clad Cordillera. But w viewed these grand mountains with regret, for we wer obliged to imagine their nature and productions, instead o standing, as we had hoped, on their summits. Besides th useless loss of time which an attempt to ascend the river an higher would have cost us, we had already been for som days on half allowance of bread. This, although reall enough for reasonable men, was, after a hard day's march rather scanty food: a light stomach and an easy digestio are good things to talk about, but very unpleasant in practice

5th. -- Before sunrise we commenced our descent. W shot down the stream with great rapidity, generally at th rate of ten knots an hour. In this one day we effected wha had cost us five-and-a-half hard days' labour in ascending On the 8th, we reached the Beagle after our twenty-one days expedition. Every one, excepting myself, had cause to b dissatisfied; but to me the ascent afforded a most interestin section of the great tertiary formation of Patagonia

On March 1st, 1833, and again on March 16th, 1834, th Beagle anchored in Berkeley Sound, in East Falkland Island This archipelago is situated in nearly the same latitude wit the mouth of the Strait of Magellan; it covers a space o one hundred and twenty by sixty geographical miles, and is little more than half the size of Ireland. After the possession of these miserable islands had been contested by France Spain, and England, they were left uninhabited. The government of Buenos Ayres then sold them to a private individual, but likewise used them, as old Spain had done before for a penal settlement. England claimed her right an seized them. The Englishman who was left in charge o the flag was consequently murdered. A British officer wa next sent, unsupported by any power: and when we arrived we found him in charge of a population, of which rathe more than half were runaway rebels and murderers.

The theatre is worthy of the scenes acted on it. An undulating land, with a desolate and wretched aspect, is everywhere covered by a peaty soil and wiry grass, of one monotonous brown colour. Here and there a peak or ridg of grey quartz rock breaks through the smooth surface Every one has heard of the climate of these regions; i may be compared to that which is experienced at the heigh of between one and two thousand feet, on the mountains o North Wales; having however less sunshine and less frost but more wind and rain. [4]

16th. -- I will now describe a short excursion which made round a part of this island. In the morning I starte with six horses and two Gauchos: the latter were capita men for the purpose, and well accustomed to living on thei own resources. The weather was very boisterous and cold with heavy hail-storms. We got on, however, pretty well but, except the geology, nothing could be less interestin than our day's ride. The country is uniformly the sam undulating moorland; the surface being covered by ligh brown withered grass and a few very small shrubs, al springing out of an elastic peaty soil. In the valleys her and there might be seen a small flock of wild geese, an everywhere the ground was so soft that the snipe were abl to feed. Besides these two birds there were few others There is one main range of hills, nearly two thousand fee in height, and composed of quartz rock, the rugged and barren crests of which gave us some trouble to cross. On th south side we came to the best country for wild cattle; w met, however, no great number, for they had been latel much harassed.
In the evening we came across a small herd. One of m companions, St. Jago by name, soon separated a fat cow he threw the bolas, and it struck her legs, but failed in becoming entangled. Then dropping his hat to mark the spo where the balls were left, while at full gallop, he uncoile his lazo, and after a most severe chase, again came up t the cow, and caught her round the horns. The other Gauch had gone on ahead with the spare horses, so that St. Jag had some difficulty in killing the furious beast. He managed to get her on a level piece of ground, by taking advantage of her as often as she rushed at him; and when sh would not move, my horse, from having been trained, woul canter up, and with his chest give her a violent push. Bu when on level ground it does not appear an easy job fo one man to kill a beast mad with terror. Nor would it b so, if the horse, when left to itself without its rider, di not soon learn, for its own safety, to keep the lazo tight so that, if the cow or ox moves forward, the horse move just as quickly forward; otherwise, it stands motionles leaning on one side. This horse, however, was a youn one, and would not stand still, but gave in to the cow as sh struggled. It was admirable to see with what dexterity St Jago dodged behind the beast, till at last he contrived t give the fatal touch to the main tendon of the hind le after which, without much difficulty, he drove his knif into the head of the spinal marrow, and the cow droppe as if struck by lightning. He cut off pieces of flesh wit the skin to it, but without any bones, sufficient for ou expedition. We then rode on to our sleeping-place, an had for supper "carne con cuero," or meat roasted with th skin on it. This is as superior to common beef as veniso is to mutton. A large circular piece taken from the bac is roasted on the embers with the hide downwards and i the form of a saucer, so that none of the gravy is lost If any worthy alderman had supped with us that evening "carne con cuero," without doubt, would soon have bee celebrated in London

During the night it rained, and the next day (17th) wa very stormy, with much hail and snow. We rode across th island to the neck of land which joins the Rincon del Tor (the great peninsula at the S. W. extremity) to the rest o the island. From the great number of cows which hav been killed, there is a large proportion of bulls. These wander about single, or two and three together, and are ver savage. I never saw such magnificent beasts; they equalle in the size of their huge heads and necks the Grecian marbl sculptures. Capt. Sulivan informs me that the hide of a average-sized bull weighs fortyseven pounds, whereas hide of this weight, less thoroughly dried, is considered a a very heavy one at Monte Video. The young bulls generally run away, for a short distance; but the old ones do no stir a step, except to rush at man and horse; and man horses have been thus killed. An old bull crossed a bogg stream, and took his stand on the opposite side to us; w in vain tried to drive him away, and failing, were oblige to make a large circuit. The Gauchos in revenge determined to emasculate him and render him for the futur harmless. It was very interesting to see how art completel mastered force. One lazo was thrown over his horns as h rushed at the horse, and another round his hind legs: in minute the monster was stretched powerless on the ground After the lazo has once been drawn tightly round the horn of a furious animal, it does not at first appear an easy thin to disengage it again without killing the beast: nor, I apprehend, would it be so if the man was by himself. By th aid, however, of a second person throwing his lazo so as t catch both hind legs, it is quickly managed: for the animal as long as its hind legs are kept outstretched, is quite helpless, and the first man can with his hands loosen his laz from the horns, and then quietly mount his horse; but th moment the second man, by backing ever so little, relaxe the strain, the lazo slips off the legs of the struggling beast which then rises free, shakes himself, and vainly rushes a his antagonist

During our whole ride we saw only one troop of wil horses. These animals, as well as the cattle, were introduce by the French in 1764, since which time both have greatl increased. It is a curious fact, that the horses have neve left the eastern end of the island, although there is no natural boundary to prevent them from roaming, and that par of the island is not more tempting than the rest. The Gauchos whom I asked, though asserting this to be the case were unable to account for it, except from the strong attachment which horses have to any locality to which they ar accustomed. Considering that the island does not appea fully stocked, and that there are no beasts of prey, I wa particularly curious to know what has checked their originally rapid increase. That in a limited island some chec would sooner or later supervene, is inevitable; but why ha the increase of the horse been checked sooner than that o the cattle? Capt. Sulivan has taken much pains for m in this inquiry. The Gauchos employed here attribute i chiefly to the stallions constantly roaming from place t place, and compelling the mares to accompany them, whethe or not the young foals are able to follow. One Gaucho tol Capt. Sulivan that he had watched a stallion for a whol hour, violently kicking and biting a mare till he force her to leave her foal to its fate. Capt. Sulivan can so fa corroborate this curious account, that he has several time found young foals dead, whereas he has never found a dea calf. Moreover, the dead bodies of full-grown horses ar more frequently found, as if more subject to disease o accidents, than those of the cattle. From the softness o the ground their hoofs often grow irregularly to a grea length, and this causes lameness. The predominant colour are roan and iron-grey. All the horses bred here, both tam and wild, are rather smallsized, though generally in goo condition; and they have lost so much strength, that the are unfit to be used in taking wild cattle with the lazo: i consequence, it is necessary to go to the great expense o importing fresh horses from the Plata. At some futur period the southern hemisphere probably will have its bree of Falkland ponies, as the northern has its Shetland breed.

The cattle, instead of having degenerated like the horse seem, as before remarked, to have increased in size; an they are much more numerous than the horses Capt. Sulivan informs me that they vary much less in the genera form of their bodies and in the shape of their horns tha English cattle. In colour they differ much; and it is a remarkable circumstance, that in different parts of this on small island, different colours predominate. Round Moun Usborne, at a height of from 1000 to 1500 feet above the sea about half of some of the herds are mouse or lead-coloured a tint which is not common in other parts of the island Near Port Pleasant dark brown prevails, whereas south o Choiseul Sound (which almost divides the island into tw parts), white beasts with black heads and feet are the mos common: in all parts black, and some spotted animals ma be observed. Capt. Sulivan remarks, that the difference i the prevailing colours was so obvious, that in looking fo the herds near Port Pleasant, they appeared from a lon distance like black spots, whilst south of Choiseul Soun they appeared like white spots on the hill-sides. Capt. Sulivan thinks that the herds do not mingle; and it is a singula fact, that the mouse-coloured cattle, though living on th high land, calve about a month earlier in the season tha the other coloured beasts on the lower land. It is interesting thus to find the once domesticated cattle breakin into three colours, of which some one colour would in al probability ultimately prevail over the others, if the herd were left undisturbed for the next several centuries.

The rabbit is another animal which has been introduced and has succeeded very well; so that they abound over larg parts of the island. Yet, like the horses, they are confine within certain limits; for they have not crossed the centra chain of hills, nor would they have extended even so far a its base, if, as the Gauchos informed me, small colonies ha not been carried there. I should not have supposed tha these animals, natives of northern Africa, could have existe in a climate so humid as this, and which enjoys so littl sunshine that even wheat ripens only occasionally. It i asserted that in Sweden, which any one would have though a more favourable climate, the rabbit cannot live out o doors. The first few pairs, moreover, had here to conten against pre-existing enemies, in the fox and some larg hawks. The French naturalists have considered the black variety a distinct species, and called it Lepus Magellanicus. [5 They imagined that Magellan, when talking of an anima under the name of "conejos" in the Strait of Magellan referred to this species; but he was alluding to a small cavy which to this day is thus called by the Spaniards. Th Gauchos laughed at the idea of the black kind being different from the grey, and they said that at all events it ha not extended its range any further than the grey kind; tha the two were never found separate; and that they readil bred together, and produced piebald offspring. Of the latte I now possess a specimen, and it is marked about the hea differently from the French specific description. This circumstance shows how cautious naturalists should be i making species; for even Cuvier, on looking at the skul of one of these rabbits, thought it was probably distinct!

The only quadruped native to the island [6]; is a large wolf like fox (Canis antarcticus), which is common to both Eas and West Falkland. I have no doubt it is a peculiar species and confined to this archipelago; because many sealers Gauchos, and Indians, who have visited these islands, al maintain that no such animal is found in any part of Sout America.

Molina, from a similarity in habits, thought that thi was the same with his "culpeu;" [7] but I have seen both and they are quite distinct. These wolves are well know from Byron's account of their tameness and curiosity, whic the sailors, who ran into the water to avoid them, mistoo for fierceness. To this day their manners remain the same They have been observed to enter a tent, and actually pul some meat from beneath the head of a sleeping seaman. Th Gauchos also have frequently in the evening killed them by holding out a piece of meat in one hand, and in the othe a knife ready to stick them. As far as I am aware, ther is no other instance in any part of the world, of so smal a mass of broken land, distant from a continent, possessin so large an aboriginal quadruped peculiar to itself. Thei numbers have rapidly decreased; they are already banishe from that half of the island which lies to the eastward o the neck of land between St. Salvador Bay and Berkele Sound. Within a very few years after these islands shal have become regularly settled, in all probability this fo will be classed with the dodo, as an animal which has perished from the face of the earth.
At night (17th) we slept on the neck of land at the hea of Choiseul Sound, which forms the south-west peninsula The valley was pretty well sheltered from the cold wind but there was very little brushwood for fuel. The Gauchos however, soon found what, to my great surprise, made nearl as hot a fire as coals; this was the skeleton of a bullock lately killed, from which the flesh had been picked by the carrion-hawks. They told me that in winter they often killed a beast, cleaned the flesh from the bones with their knives and then with these same bones roasted the meat for thei suppers.

18th. -- It rained during nearly the whole day. At nigh we managed, however, with our saddle-cloths to keep ourselves pretty well dry and warm; but the ground on whic we slept was on each occasion nearly in the state of a bog and there was not a dry spot to sit down on after our day' ride. I have in another part stated how singular it is tha there should be absolutely no trees on these islands, althoug Tierra del Fuego is covered by one large forest. Th largest bush in the island (belonging to the family of Compositae) is scarcely so tall as our gorse. The best fuel i afforded by a green little bush about the size of commo heath, which has the useful property of burning while fres and green. It was very surprising to see the Gauchos, i the midst of rain and everything soaking wet, with nothin more than a tinder-box and a piece of rag, immediately mak a fire. They sought beneath the tufts of grass and bushe for a few dry twigs, and these they rubbed into fibres; the surrounding them with coarser twigs, something like a bird' nest, they put the rag with its spark of fire in the middl and covered it up. The nest being then held up to th wind, by degrees it smoked more and more, and at las burst out in flames. I do not think any other method woul have had a chance of succeeding with such damp materials.

19th. -- Each morning, from not having ridden for som time previously, I was very stiff. I was surprised to hea the Gauchos, who have from infancy almost lived on horseback, say that, under similar circumstances, they alway suffer. St. Jago told me, that having been confined for thre months by illness, he went out hunting wild cattle, and i consequence, for the next two days, his thighs were so stif that he was obliged to lie in bed. This shows that the Gauchos, although they do not appear to do so, yet really mus exert much muscular effort in riding. The hunting wil cattle, in a country so difficult to pass as this is on accoun of the swampy ground, must be very hard work. Th Gauchos say they often pass at full speed over ground whic would be impassable at a slower pace; in the same manne as a man is able to skate over thin ice. When hunting, th party endeavours to get as close as possible to the herd with out being discovered. Each man carries four or five pair o the bolas; these he throws one after the other at as man cattle, which, when once entangled, are left for some day till they become a little exhausted by hunger and struggling They are then let free and driven towards a small herd o tame animals, which have been brought to the spot on purpose. From their previous treatment, being too much terrified to leave the herd, they are easily driven, if thei strength last out, to the settlement.

The weather continued so very bad that we determine to make a push, and try to reach the vessel before night From the quantity of rain which had fallen, the surfac of the whole country was swampy. I suppose my horse fel at least a dozen times, and sometimes the whole six horse were floundering in the mud together. All the little stream are bordered by soft peat, which makes it very difficult fo the horses to leap them without falling. To complete ou discomforts we were obliged to cross the head of a cree of the sea, in which the water was as high as our horses backs; and the little waves, owing to the violence of th wind, broke over us, and made us very wet and cold. Eve the iron-framed Gauchos professed themselves glad whe they reached the settlement, after our little excursion

The geological structure of these islands is in mos respects simple. The lower country consists of clay-slat and sandstone, containing fossils, very closely related to, bu not identical with, those found in the Silurian formation of Europe; the hills are formed of white granular quart rock. The strata of the latter are frequently arched wit perfect symmetry, and the appearance of some of the masse is in consequence most singular. Pernety [8] has devote several pages to the description of a Hill of Ruins, th successive strata of which he has justly compared to th seats of an amphitheatre. The quartz rock must have bee quite pasty when it underwent such remarkable flexure without being shattered into fragments. As the quart insensibly passes into the sandstone, it seems probable tha the former owes its origin to the sandstone having bee heated to such a degree that it became viscid, and upon cooling crystallized. While in the soft state it must have bee pushed up through the overlying beds.

In many parts of the island the bottoms of the valleys ar covered in an extraordinary manner by myriads of grea loose angular fragments of the quartz rock, forming "stream of stones." These have been mentioned with surprise b every voyager since the time of Pernety. The blocks ar not waterworn, their angles being only a little blunted; the vary in size from one or two feet in diameter to ten, or eve more than twenty times as much. They are not throw together into irregular piles, but are spread out into leve sheets or great streams. It is not possible to ascertain thei thickness, but the water of small streamlets can be hear trickling through the stones many feet below the surface The actual depth is probably great, because the crevice between the lower fragments must long ago have been fille up with sand. The width of these sheets of stones varie from a few hundred feet to a mile; but the peaty soil dail encroaches on the borders, and even forms islets whereve a few fragments happen to lie close together. In a valle south of Berkeley Sound, which some of our party calle the "great valley of fragments," it was necessary to cros an uninterrupted band half a mile wide, by jumping fro one pointed stone to another. So large were the fragments that being overtaken by a shower of rain, I readily foun shelter beneath one of them.

Their little inclination is the most remarkable circumstance in these "streams of stones." On the hill-sides I hav seen them sloping at an angle of ten degrees with the horizon but in some of the level, broad-bottomed valleys, the inclination is only just sufficient to be clearly perceived. On so rugged a surface there was no means of measuring th angle, but to give a common illustration, I may say that th slope would not have checked the speed of an English mail-coach. In some places, a continuous stream of these fragments followed up the course of a valley, and eve extended to the very crest of the hill. On these crests hug masses, exceeding in dimensions any small building, seeme to stand arrested in their headlong course: there, also, th curved strata of the archways lay piled on each other, lik the ruins of some vast and ancient cathedral. In endeavouring to describe these scenes of violence one is tempted to pas from one simile to another. We may imagine that stream of white lava had flowed from many parts of the mountain into the lower country, and that when solidified they had bee rent by some enormous convulsion into myriads of fragments. The expression "streams of stones," which immediately occurred to every one, conveys the same idea. Thes scenes are on the spot rendered more striking by the contrast of the low rounded forms of the neighbouring hills.

I was interested by finding on the highest peak of on range (about 700 feet above the sea) a great arched fragment, lying on its convex side, or back downwards. Mus we believe that it was fairly pitched up in the air, and thu turned? Or, with more probability, that there existed formerly a part of the same range more elevated than the poin on which this monument of a great convulsion of nature no lies. As the fragments in the valleys are neither rounde nor the crevices filled up with sand, we must infer that th period of violence was subsequent to the land having bee raised above the waters of the sea. In a transverse sectio within these valleys, the bottom is nearly level, or rises bu very little towards either side. Hence the fragments appea to have travelled from the head of the valley; but in realit it seems more probable that they have been hurled down fro the nearest slopes; and that since, by a vibratory movemen of overwhelming force, [9] the fragments have been levelle into one continuous sheet. If during the earthquake [10] whic in 1835 overthrew Concepcion, in Chile, it was thought wonderful that small bodies should have been pitched a fe inches from the ground, what must we say to a movemen which has caused fragments many tons in weight, to mov onwards like so much sand on a vibrating board, and fin their level? I have seen, in the Cordillera of the Andes, th evident marks where stupendous mountains have been broke into pieces like so much thin crust, and the strata thrown o their vertical edges; but never did any scene, like thes "streams of stones," so forcibly convey to my mind the ide of a convulsion, of which in historical records we might i vain seek for any counterpart: yet the progress of knowledg will probably some day give a simple explanation of thi phenomenon, as it already has of the so long-thought inexplicable transportal of the erratic boulders, which are strewed over the plains of Europe.

I have little to remark on the zoology of these islands. have before described the carrionvulture of Polyborus There are some other hawks, owls, and a few small land-birds. The water-fowl are particularly numerous, and the must formerly, from the accounts of the old navigators have been much more so. One day I observed a cormoran playing with a fish which it had caught. Eight times successively the bird let its prey go, then dived after it, an although in deep water, brought it each time to the surface In the Zoological Gardens I have seen the otter treat a fis in the same manner, much as a cat does a mouse: I do no know of any other instance where dame Nature appears s wilfully cruel. Another day, having placed myself betwee a penguin (Aptenodytes demersa) and the water, I was muc amused by watching its habits. It was a brave bird; and til reaching the sea, it regularly fought and drove me backwards Nothing less than heavy blows would have stopped him; ever inch he gained he firmly kept, standing close before me erec and determined. When thus opposed he continually rolle his head from side to side, in a very odd manner, as if th power of distinct vision lay only in the anterior and basa part of each eye. This bird is commonly called the jackas penguin, from its habit, while on shore, of throwing its hea backwards, and making a loud strange noise, very like th braying of an ass; but while at sea, and undisturbed, its not is very deep and solemn, and is often heard in the night-time In diving, its little wings are used as fins; but on the land, as front legs. When crawling, it may be said on four legs through the tussocks or on the side of a grassy cliff, it move so very quickly that it might easily be mistaken for a quadruped. When at sea and fishing, it comes to the surface fo the purpose of breathing with such a spring, and dives agai so instantaneously, that I defy any one at first sight to b sure that it was not a fish leaping for sport.

Two kinds of geese frequent the Falklands. The uplan species (Anas Magellanica) is common, in pairs and in smal flocks, throughout the island. They do not migrate, but buil on the small outlying islets. This is supposed to be fro fear of the foxes: and it is perhaps from the same caus that these birds, though very tame by day, are shy and wil in the dusk of the evening. They live entirely on vegetabl matter.

The rock-goose, so called from living exclusively on th sea-beach (Anas antarctica), is common both here and o the west coast of America, as far north as Chile. In the dee and retired channels of Tierra del Fuego, the snow-whit gander, invariably accompanied by his darker consort, an standing close by each other on some distant rocky point, i a common feature in the landscape.

In these islands a great loggerheaded duck or goose (Ana brachyptera), which sometimes weighs twenty-two pounds is very abundant. These birds were in former days called from their extraordinary manner of paddling and splashin upon the water, race-horses; but now they are named, muc more appropriately, steamers. Their wings are too small an weak to allow of flight, but by their aid, partly swimming an partly flapping the surface of the water, they move ver quickly. The manner is something like that by which th common house-duck escapes when pursued by a dog; but am nearly sure that the steamer moves its wings alternately instead of both together, as in other birds. These clumsy loggerheaded ducks make such a noise and splashing, that th effect is exceedingly curious.

Thus we find in South America three birds which use thei wings for other purposes besides flight; the penguins as fins the steamer as paddles, and the ostrich as sails: and th Apteryz of New Zealand, as well as its gigantic extinct prototype the Deinornis, possess only rudimentary representatives of wings. The steamer is able to dive only to a very short distance. It feeds entirely on shell-fish from the kelp and tidal rocks: hence the beak and head, for the purpose of breaking them, are surprisingly heavy and strong: the head is so strong that I have scarcely been able to fracture it with my geological hammer; and all our sportsmen soon discovered how tenacious these birds were of life. When in the evening pluming themselves in a flock, they make the sam odd mixture of sounds which bull-frogs do within the tropics

In Tierra del Fuego, as well as in the Falkland Islands, made many observations on the lower marine animals, [11] bu they are of little general interest. I will mention only on class of facts, relating to certain zoophytes in the more highl organized division of that class. Several genera (Flustra Eschara, Cellaria, Crisia, and others) agree in having singular moveable organs (like those of Flustra avicularia, foun in the European seas) attached to their cells. The organ, i the greater number of cases, very closely resembles the hea of a vulture; but the lower mandible can be opened muc wider than in a real bird's beak. The head itself possesse considerable powers of movement, by means of a short neck In one zoophyte the head itself was fixed, but the lower ja free: in another it was replaced by a triangular hood, with beautifully-fitted trap-door, which evidently answered to th lower mandible. In the greater number of species, each cel was provided with one head, but in others each cell had two.

The young cells at the end of the branches of these corallines contain quite immature polypi, yet the vulture-head attached to them, though small, are in every respect perfect When the polypus was removed by a needle from any of th cells, these organs did not appear in the least affected. Whe one of the vulture-like heads was cut off from the cell, th lower mandible retained its power of opening and closing Perhaps the most singular part of their structure is, tha when there were more than two rows of cells on a branch the central cells were furnished with these appendages, o only one-fourth the size of the outside ones. Their movements varied according to the species; but in some I neve saw the least motion; while others, with the lower mandibl generally wide open, oscillated backwards and forwards a the rate of about five seconds each turn, others moved rapidly and by starts. When touched with a needle, the bea generally seized the point so firmly, that the whole branc might be shaken.

These bodies have no relation whatever with the production of the eggs or gemmules, as they are formed before th young polypi appear in the cells at the end of the growin branches; as they move independently of the polypi, and d not appear to be in any way connected with them; and a they differ in size on the outer and inner rows of cells, I hav little doubt, that in their functions, they are related rathe to the horny axis of the branches than to the polypi in th cells. The fleshy appendage at the lower extremity of th sea-pen (described at Bahia Blanca) also forms part of th zoophyte, as a whole, in the same manner as the roots of tree form part of the whole tree, and not of the individua leaf or flower-buds.

In another elegant little coralline (Crisia?), each cell wa furnished with a long-toothed bristle, which had the powe of moving quickly. Each of these bristles and each of th vulture-like heads generally moved quite independently o the others, but sometimes all on both sides of a branch, sometimes only those on one side, moved together coinstantaneously, sometimes each moved in regular order one after another. In these actions we apparently behold as perfect a transmission of will in the zoophyte, though composed o thousands of distinct polypi, as in any single animal. Th case, indeed, is not different from that of the sea-pens, which when touched, drew themselves into the sand on the coast o Bahia Blanca. I will state one other instance of unifor action, though of a very different nature, in a zoophyt closely allied to Clytia, and therefore very simply organized Having kept a large tuft of it in a basin of salt-water, whe it was dark I found that as often as I rubbed any part of branch, the whole became strongly phosphorescent with green light: I do not think I ever saw any object more beautifully so. But the remarkable circumstance was, that th flashes of light always proceeded up the branches, from th base towards the extremities.

The examination of these compound animals was alway very interesting to me. What can be more remarkable tha to see a plant-like body producing an egg, capable of swimming about and of choosing a proper place to adhere to which then sprouts into branches, each crowded with innumerable distinct animals, often of complicated organizations The branches, moreover, as we have just seen, sometime possess organs capable of movement and independent of th polypi. Surprising as this union of separate individuals in common stock must always appear, every tree displays th same fact, for buds must be considered as individual plants It is, however, natural to consider a polypus, furnished wit a mouth, intestines, and other organs, as a distinct individual whereas the individuality of a leafbud is not easily realised so that the union of separate individuals in a common bod is more striking in a coralline than in a tree. Our conception of a compound animal, where in some respects the individuality of each is not completed, may be aided, by reflectin on the production of two distinct creatures by bisecting single one with a knife, or where Nature herself perform the task of bisection. We may consider the polypi in zoophyte, or the buds in a tree, as cases where the divisio of the individual has not been completely effected. Certainl in the case of trees, and judging from analogy in that o corallines, the individuals propagated by buds seem mor intimately related to each other, than eggs or seeds are t their parents. It seems now pretty well established tha plants propagated by buds all partake of a common duratio of life; and it is familiar to every one, what singular an numerous peculiarities are transmitted with certainty, b buds, layers, and grafts, which by seminal propagation neve or only casually reappear

[1] The desserts of Syria are characterized, according to Volney (tom. i. p. 351), by woody bushes, numerous rats, gazelles and hares. In the landscape of Patagonia, the guanaco replaces the gazelle, and the agouti the hare.

[2] I noticed that several hours before any one of the condors died, all the lice, with which it was infested, crawled to the outside feathers. I was assured that this always happens.

[3] London's Magazine of Nat. Hist., vol. vii.

[4] From accounts published since our voyage, and more especially from several interesting letters from Capt. Sulivan, R. N., employed on the survey, it appears that we took an exaggerated view of the badness of the climate on these islands. But when I reflect on the almost universal covering of peat, and on the fact of wheat seldom ripening here, I can hardly believe that the climate in summer is so fine and dry as it has lately been represented.

[5] Lesson's Zoology of the Voyage of the Coquille, tom. i. p. 168. All the early voyagers, and especially Bougainville, distinctly state that the wolf-like fox was the only native animal on the island. The distinction of the rabbit as a species, is taken from peculiarities in the fur, from the shape of the head, and from the shortness of the ears. I may here observe that the difference between the Irish and English hare rests upon nearly similar characters, only more strongly marked

[6] I have reason, however, to suspect that there is a field- mouse. The common European rat and mouse have roamed far from the habitations of the settlers. The common hog has also run wild on one islet; all are of a black colour: the boars are very fierce, and have great trunks.

[7] The "culpeu" is the Canis Magellanicus brought home by Captain King from the Strait of Magellan. It is common in Chile

 

[8] Pernety, Voyage aux Isles Malouines, p. 526.

[9] "Nous n'avons pas ete moins saisis d'etonnement a la vue de l'innombrable quantite de pierres de touts grandeurs, bouleversees les unes sur les autres, et cependent rangees, comme si elles avoient ete amoncelees negligemment pour remplir des ravins. On ne se lassoit pas d'admirer les effets prodigieux de la nature." -- Pernety, p. 526.

[10] An inhabitant of Mendoza, and hence well capable of judging, assured me that, during the several years he had resided on these islands, he had never felt the slightest shock of an earthquake.

[11] I was surprised to find, on counting the eggs of a large white Doris (this sea-slug was three and a half inches long), how extraordinarily numerous they were. From two to five eggs (each three-thousandths of an inch in diameter) were contained in spherical little case. These were arranged two deep in transverse rows forming a ribbon. The ribbon adhered by its edge to the rock in an oval spire. One which I found, measured nearly twenty inches in length and half in breadth. By counting how many balls were contained in a tenth of an inch in the row, and how many rows in an equal length of the ribbon, on the most moderate computation there were six hundred thousand eggs. Yet this Doris was certainly not very common; although I was often searching under the stones, I saw only seven individuals. No fallacy is more common with naturalists, than that the numbers of an individual species depend on its powers of propagation.