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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-01-14 21:28:34
Typefacelarge in Small
The Beagle arrived here on the 24th of August, and a week afterwards sailed for the Plata. With Captain Fitz Roy’s consent I was left behind, to travel by land to Buenos Ayres. I will here add some observations, which were made during this visit and on a previous occasion, when the Beagle was employed in surveying the harbour.

Landing at midday, we saw a family of pure Indian extraction. The father was singularly like York Minster; and some of the younger boys, with their ruddy complexions, might have been mistaken for Pampas Indians. Everything I have seen convinces me of the close connexion of the different American tribes, who nevertheless speak distinct languages. This party could muster but little Spanish, and talked to each other in their own tongue. It is a pleasant thing to see the aborigines advanced to the same degree of civilisation, however low that may be, which their white conquerors have attained.

After having been detained six days in Wigwam Cove by very bad weather, we put to sea on the 30th of December. Captain Fitz Roy wished to get westward to land York and Fuegia in their own country. When at sea we had a constant succession of gales, and the current was against us: we drifted to 57° 23’ south. On the 11th of January, 1833, by carrying a press of sail, we fetched within a few miles of the great rugged mountain of York Minster (so called by Captain Cook, and the origin of the name of the elder Fuegian), when a violent squall compelled us to shorten sail and stand out to sea. The surf was breaking fearfully on the coast, and the spray was carried over a cliff estimated at 200 feet in height. On the 12th the gale was very heavy, and we did not know exactly where we were: it was a most unpleasant sound to hear constantly repeated, Keep a good lookout to leeward.” On the 13th the storm raged with its full fury: our horizon was narrowly limited by the sheets of spray borne by the wind. The sea looked ominous, like a dreary waving plain with patches of drifted snow: whilst the ship laboured heavily, the albatross glided with its expanded wings right up the wind. At noon a great sea broke over us, and filled one of the whale-boats, which was obliged to be instantly cut away. The poor Beagle” trembled at the shock, and for a few minutes would not obey her helm; but soon, like a good ship that she was, she righted and came up to the wind again. Had another sea followed the first, our fate would have been decided soon, and for ever. We had now been twenty-four days trying in vain to get westward; the men were worn out with fatigue, and they had not had for many nights or days a dry thing to put on. Captain Fitz Roy gave up the attempt to get westward by the outside coast. In the evening we ran in behind False Cape Horn, and dropped our anchor in forty-seven fathoms, fire flashing from the windlass as the chain rushed round it. How delightful was that still night, after having been so long involved in the din of the warring elements!


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