CHILI is a long narrow strip of picturesque and beautiful country, between the Cordillera and the Pacific, extending from the 25th to the 43d degree of south latitude. This great difference of latitude occasions a remarkable difference of climate. The northern provinces are hot and dry, being almost destitute of rain; but their mineral wealth is very great. In the southern provinces of Valdivia and Chiloe the rain pours in torrents for ten months in the year. The central provinces, from Valparaiso to Valdivia, enjoy a delicious climate, while the country is watered by countless rivers which run from the Cordillera to the Pacific. It is very fertile, and abounds in orchards, and produces large crop; of grain. But the country, throughout its whole extent, suffers periodically from earthquakes.
The aboriginal tribes have been for the most part subdued, and are now mixed with their conquerors; but the warlike Araucanian tribes who inhabit the country which lies between the Biobio at Concepcion and the Calle-calle or Valdivia, still in great measure maintain their independence.
This was the people among whom Captain Gardiner made his first missionary researches in South America. He left Table Bay in South Africa on the 15th of May 1838, and conducted his family to Rio Janeiro, thence to Buenos Ayres, and across the Pampas to Mendoza. As soon as the season was sufficiently advanced, they crossed the Cordillera into Chili.
Arrived within sight of the river Biobio, he writes, in Dec. 1838:--
"Being now within a short distance of what is generally reported as the territory of the Araucanian Indians, it was with much interest that we viewed the beautiful wooded hills on the opposite side of the Biobio; and in the hope that it might not be long before we were located among them, I hastened to make the necessary preparations for a journey of inspection, in order to acquire that information for our guidance which could not otherwise be obtained.
"Had the Biobio been the real frontier, as I had been led to suppose, between this part of Chili and the independent Indians, a few hours would have been sufficient for my first journey; but such is not the ease. From time to time, either by capture or purchase, a considerable tract of country on the left bank of the river, in which are some of the best farms and grazing grounds, has come to be occupied and claimed by Chilians. In proportion to the distance from the coast, the width of this acquired territory is diminished, until the Biobio itself becomes the actual boundary. I resolved to make my way by the nearest route to Los Angeles, the principal military post on this frontier, and thence to cross into the Indian territory at the most convenient point.
"At Los Angeles I waited on the commandant of the frontier, Major Barga, who, on receiving the passport which I had brought from the Intendente at Concepcion, kindly promised to furnish me with a letter to the officer commanding at the advanced post of San Carlos.....From the conversation which I afterwards had with Captain Sinega, the commandant at San Carlos, it appeared that the nearest independent native chief of any note resided at a place called Piligen; and as this was not above twenty-four miles distant, it was agreed that I should set out at once, accompanied by the government interpreter.
"But there was an impediment to the speedy accomplishment of this plan. The Biobio, still a respectable stream, and in this part exceedingly rapid, had to be crossed, and the raft, by which alone it was fordable, was adrift, and a new one had to be prepared. It consisted merely of four trunks of trees about eighteen feet long, closely lashed together by hide-thongs to two transverse poles, one at each extremity, and when laden with ourselves and our saddles, it was scarcely an inch, in the highest part, above the surface of the water. As a matter of precaution, I not only took off my shoes and stockings, but also my coat and waistcoat, a measure which seemed to be regarded by the rest of the party as by no means unnecessary; for I had scarcely stepped upon the yielding raft when an inquiry was made whether I could swim or not. But the real novelty was the method of navigation. One of my horses, which was noted as an excellent swimmer, had not escaped observation by the way, and his powers were now to be tried in a most ludicrous manner. His tail was first smoothed out, and, the hair being doubled bade, was firmly knotted to the end of the tow-rope: a naked lad then sprang upon his back, and in plunged the horse and his rider. By a simultaneous effort of those on the shore, the raft he was destined to tow was at the same instant pushed oil' into deep water. Partly by swimming, partly by riding, now on one side, now on the other of the horse, firmly grasping throughout a, lock of long hair always left for this purpose, the boy succeeded, by the aid of his heels, his hand, and his voice, in urging on the snorting and half-affrighted animal until he conveyed us to the opposite bank, where he was immediately disengaged, and the raft secured by the rope until we landed. By half-past two we were again mounted, and in three hours had reached Piligen, crossing in our way the rivers Buran and Mulchaya. The first person whom we met was Corbalan himself, the chief of this district, who was galloping his horse in another direction, but on perceiving us, cut across, and escorted us to his house.
"These people, who are excellent horsemen, always appear to best advantage when mounted. Corbalan was attired in a dark-coloured poncho, and seated with bare legs upon a rude kind of saddle-tree, above and beneath which a couple of sheep-skins were strapped, his great toes alone being thrust into the tiny wooden stirrups. A red band tied back from the forehead his long black hair, which flowed loosely on his shoulders, and concealed more than half his face, the expression of which was remarkably mild and intelligent.
"He received me with much hospitality, and before even a hint was given of any intended present, a sheep was ordered to be killed and dressed for our supper. The house, which, is of an oval form, about thirty-five feet long, with a high pitched roof, supported by a row of interior posts, formed but one apartment. The wattled sides, which were about five feet high, as also the roof, which projected considerably over them, were neatly thatched with grass. The floor was of mud; there were no windows, but the door was of convenient height and width. No excavation is made for the fireplace, which is always in the centre, where all the cooking is performed; but notwithstanding this, little inconvenience is experienced from the smoke, which passes through two openings left for the purpose in the roof, at each extremity of a high ridge-coping. Much cleanliness was observed in the preparation of their food; the meat was washed and skewered upon a bamboo, by which it was held slantingly over the fire until it was thoroughly grilled. It was then presented to us in wooden bowls. They had no milk, but gave us the usual beverage of parched meal and water, together with some piñones, the seed of the Cordillera pine, which is nutritious, and in flavour resembles a roasted chestnut.
"Before we retired to rest, for which purpose Corbalan ordered a smooth bullock s hide to be spread for me on the floor, much conversation took place around the fire; for besides his two wives, and other members of his family, some men from the neighbourhood had joined the party. They appeared to speak with great volubility, but the tone and manner of the address--now a rapid and monotonous intonation, now a single word, dwelt upon with a lengthened drawl, and immediately succeeded by as rapid a sentence--had a very ludicrous effect.
"During this conversation, some little progress appeared to have been made towards the accomplishment of my object m visiting this tribe. Corbalan was informed of my desire to acquire his language, in order that I might impart to his people the knowledge or the true God, as also of my wish to obtain his consent to bring my family, and reside in his immediate neighbourhood. Such a purpose scorned to be altogether strange to his ear; still he made no objection, and after a little further explanation, he seemed to enter cordially into it. On being asked whether he should like to see the Book in which God had taught us respecting Himself and the way to heaven, he said yes, that it was good, and he should be glad.
"An order had been given overnight to the neighbouring chiefs to assemble as many of their people as were on the spot, in order to welcome my arrival, and as soon as we wore mounted in the morning, Corbalan led us to the group, which were collected under the tree at a short distance from his house. As we approached, they mounted their horses, and advanced towards us. Some few were on foot, hut all in their turn came up and took our hands. Corbalan apologised for the smallness of the party, which amounted to forty five men, saying that the greater part of his people were absent in the mountains, collecting piñones. Among these, however, were five inferior chiefs, two of whom in passing presented me with a boiled fowl, which till then had been concealed under their ponchos. Where to bestow this unexpected token of friendship in my case was rather puzzling; the interpreter, however, at once relieved me of my dilemma by depositing them in his saddle-bags. A small present of indigo, beads, buttons, and handkerchiefs was distributed among the chiefs--indigo, in particular, being much valued by them for dyeing their home-spun wool.
"We then took our leave, Corbalan having previously agreed to show me some of the inhabited spots in the neighbourhood, as I was anxious to obtain some idea of the amount of population in this district, as also to select a spot for my future residence. In every direction the country was beautiful, but without possessing any bold or romantic features, excepting now and then, from some of the highest points, a distant peep of the snowy Cordillera. But the grass was rich, the surface undulating, and the trees in clumps and groves were so ornamentally scattered, and discovered through their openings so many park-like vistas, that I felt myself no longer a stranger, the whole scenery being so similar to many parts of England, that it was only when I recognised the flowing ponchos and long, streaming hair of my companions, that the illusion was broken. Two clusters of houses, in all, not exceeding ten or eleven, were visited in this ride, all apparently as neat, though not quite as large, as that of the chief. Around all were little patches of cultivation, consisting chiefly of barley, wheat, and beans. On our return, I selected a spot within a short distance of the chief's residence; but I had no sooner pointed it out to him, than it became evident his mind on this point had undergone a considerable change; nor did he long disguise his sentiments, but plainly acknowledged that, notwithstanding what he had before said, he must withdraw his consent. The reason which he assigned for this unexpected refusal was in all probability the result of a conference with the chiefs this morning, and appeared sufficiently weighty. Although still desirous that I should remain, he said it would not be safe: the Huilliches, his neighbours, a large and warlike tribe, would be offended; they would not permit a foreigner to live so near them; as soon as they hoard it, they would attack him, and he should not be able to resist them. The result would be that both himself and his tribe, which could not muster more than a hundred fighting men, would be destroyed. I therefore took my leave of Corbalan, and soon lost sight of a spot which I shall ever remember with deep interest, and not without an earnest desire that the time may not be far distant when the dayspring from on high may visit this people, and the scattered hamlets of those secluded woodlands shall resound with grateful songs for redeeming love.
"My subsequent journey to Concepcion, where I arrived on the evening of the 13th, was a most unpleasant one, on account of the rain, which continued with little intermission throughout; and the roads, never good, had become, so slippery, that it was with the greatest difficulty the horses could be kept upon their legs."
We pass over, for brevity's sake, a journey which was made to Arauco, near which Mr A. W. Gardiner now lives, a subsequent voyage to Valdivia, and the passage up the river Calle-calle to Quinchilca, and proceed to the narrative of a visit to the Indians on the Lake Banco. There was some difficulty in procuring an interpreter; at length a man was found, and Captain Gardiner writes:--
"With this man, whose name was Pacheco, I set out on the 22d of February, and obtained shelter for the night at an Indian cottage. Within the short space of about two hours after leaving Quinchilca, the river Calle-calle is crossed no less than six times. The right bank exhibits in some places walls of gravel, large fragments having been detached by the late earthquake, carrying with them entire trees, many of which have taken root below, while others are still growing upon the projections which obstructed their further descent. Our route lay through a forest of bamboo. The stems, which are of a bright glossy yellow colour, and from two to three inches in diameter, are not tuberous, but solid, and so extremely hard, though light and elastic, that the Indians make use of them almost exclusively for their spears. So impervious a jungle is formed by these trees, that until a passage is cut, it is impossible to penetrate even on foot; and when riding, much caution is necessary, to avoid the sharp points of the broken stem, which often impede the narrow path. When once entered, the effect is striking--a wall of yellow leafless stems, inclining as they rise, until they unite in a sharp angle overhead, like the cloistered aisles of some Gothic building.
"We continued our route early in the morning, until we reached a cluster of houses, among which was that of the chief,--whence I hastened forward to the brow of a rising ground, in order to enjoy a full view of the lake, of which I had only hitherto caught detached glimpses.
"An extensive sheet of water lay before us, probably about fifty miles in circumference. To the southward, by which its waters are conveyed to the Pacific, the land is comparatively low, and bare of trees, but to the northward it is hemmed in with bold ridges of wooded mountains, while the majestic Cordillera, clothed with snow, appeared to skirt its eastern limit. Eight islands, of different sizes, (some mere rocks,) appeared in the centre; one of them, which gives name to the lake, is inhabited, and about two miles in length. From the same spot, the scattered houses of Vutronway, (the name of this Indian village,) with their several patches of cultivation, although half embosomed in apple groves, were visible. Every object which met the eye seemed to speak its great Creator's praise; but he for whose enjoyment all these beauties were arranged had not yet learned to raise one song of thanksgiving to Him, who crowneth the year with His goodness! In the earnest hope that it might please the Lord to permit us to enter upon some work for His glory in this place, I entered into a conditional agreement with a native to let his house to me, until a more suitable one could be erected. Then, as Neggiman, the chief, had gone on a visit to Arique, I returned the same day to Quinchilca, and on the following day, the 24th, set out for Arique. On my way thither I met Neggiman, and from his lofty bearing at once recognised him as the chief I was in search of. As he could only speak a few words of Spanish, and I was alone, we all paused a while, and the wood was made to echo with shouts and whistling, until one of the party who was behind galloped up, and performed the office of interpreter. My object in wishing to reside at Vutronway was then plainly stated to him, to which he made no objection; but on hearing of my recent visit to his village, he expressed some surprise that I should have gone unaccompanied by any person deputed by Don Francisco Abierto, the commissary. After some further conversation, he said that, although he had never permitted a stranger to reside among his people, still he would not withhold his consent, provided I made him a present, which he specified, (one pound of indigo and a bar of salt,) and came accompanied by a messenger from the commissary, with an assurance of his concurrence in the arrangement. Thankful for this apparent success, I proceeded to Arique, where the commissary resided, and obtained from him a promise that a guide should be in readiness to accompany me from Quinchilca the following Monday."
The next interview with Neggiman was at Vutronway.
"My new abode being cleaned out, I occupied it for the night, and early on the next morning, the 30th, the pack-horses arrived, and all were busily occupied in unlading and bringing in the baggage. I had just arranged everything, when Neggiman, followed by one attendant, was observed slowly approaching the house.
"Although it was a drizzling rain, he took his seat outside, and inquired how long I thought of remaining at Vutronway. As no limit had been hinted at before, and I was unwilling to name one, I replied that I could not say--that it might be twelve moons, or two or three times that period, as I wished to become acquainted with his people, and to learn their language. It was evident from his manner that he had begun to waver in his determination, and he shortly informed me that he should limit my stay to one moon. Imagining that some lurking suspicion of my ulterior intention might have prompted this sudden curtailment of his previous sanction, I gave him plainly to understand that I had not the slightest wish to purchase land, that I should always be prepared to leave whenever he saw fit, but at the same time that it would not be worth my while to bring up my family, with the understanding that on the following moon we were to return. He then again adverted to his determination not to permit Spaniards to reside among his people, adding that I was, moreover, a stranger from another country, and that he must therefore withhold his consent.
"Finding at length that his determination could not be shaken, I again felt the necessity of altogether abandoning what I could not regard as a legitimate opening, and of endeavouring to approach the independent Indians from another quarter. Nothing now remained but to repack the furniture, a charge which I consigned to the arriero and the interpreter; and dejected, I own, but not in despair, I retraced my steps to Quinchilca."
The next journey was from Antilque to Cruces, and from Cruces to Queule. It was fatiguing and "tedious, not so much on account of the irregularity of the ground, and the number of fallen trees and logs, as from the thick jungle of bamboo which overhung the path. At length we entered a retired valley, skirted by the sea, into which the river Queule was running. The neat cottages of the Indians, scattered without order, the patches of barley, potatoes, &c., which now appeared, the windings of the river, and the distant roar of the surf, at once broke the monotony, and gave a new interest to the scene. A native from one of the nearest houses conducted us to that of the chief, who soon made his appearance, having just been bathing in the river. Two low wooden stools, over which some skins were spread, were brought by the women, and on one of these the chief, Wykepang, seated himself, after the customary greeting. He was an elderly man, rather short in stature, of a stout muscular frame, with coarse features, and of a somewhat blunt address. His first inquiries were as to whence I came, and where I was going, and he quite laughed at my design of going forward to visit some of the chiefs beyond. 'No Spaniards,' he said, 'were living in those parts; they were not permitted to remain.' By the help of a native who understood Spanish, I endeavoured to obtain his sentiments regarding the particular object which I had in view, inquiring whether he had ever heard of God's Book. He expressed his surprise that I should possess it, but seemed quite indifferent as to its contents. Being asked if he would permit a missionary, who would instruct him and his people in that Book, to remain with him, he quickly replied that he did not want one. I proposed that he should allow me to visit him again, and remain with him a sufficient time to acquire their language.
To this proposition he seemed quite averse, and informed me that I must return, that he would permit me to stay one night, but that it would not be safe to remain longer, as the other chiefs would be angry, and make war upon him, if he allowed me to go farther. Our supper consisted of cold peas and hot potatoes. A skin was spread on the floor for my bed; and though much disappointed at the feeble prospect of gaining admittance among these suspicious people, I was enabled to sleep soundly, with my saddle for my pillow.
"Unwilling to take my leave without making one further effort, I again inquired what reception he would give me,, supposing, on my next visit, it should be found that I had acquired his language. ' Then,' he said, 'you may come without fear;' and although he would not guarantee an equally favourable treatment from the chiefs who resided in. the interior, yet from his manner, and the probability which he expressed of their relaxing from then usual restraints upon strangers under such circumstances, I felt that this was (humanly speaking) the hinge and turning-point of the whole matter in question. Taking my leave of Wykepang, we retraced our steps by the same tangled and tedious passes to Cruces, and arrived at Quinchilca the following day."
A few words of explanation shall now be given, to account in some degree for the difficulties which beset Captain Gardiner's every effort to settle among the Indians of Chili.
Throughout the whole tract of country, from Concepcion to Valdbia, a chain of forts had formerly tended to keep the natives in check, and in every fort Romish missionaries were stationed. There were at one time twenty-five of these stations; but the Indians eyed them with jealousy, and hated the soldier without loving the priest. The War of Independence, which began in 1810, relaxed the discipline of the frontier, and left the Indians in some degree their own masters. Tucapel and other forts were taken and dismantled by the Indians, and certain monasteries destroyed. After the establishment of the republic of Chili, a new policy was adopted. Friendly relations were established with many of the frontier chiefs; the rank and pay of a major was given to some, annual presents were made to others, and commissaries were stationed, to reside with the friendly chiefs. Thus those frontier tribes, whose chiefs were not above receiving Chilian pay, formed a barrier between Chili and the more remote and more powerful tribes.
Two attempts were made by Captain Gardiner, in the year 1841, to communicate with certain Indian tribes residing near the Cordillera. He relates the account as follows:--
"Chiloe, July 31, 1841.--To cross the Cordillera, in order to communicate with the natives residing on the eastern side, has been my object ever since our return to Valparaiso. With this view, a journey to Talea was made, in the hope of reaching the Pehuenche tribe by way of the Planchon Pass. The result was unsatisfactory. Interpreters could not be procured in that neighbourhood--the location of the tribe was not even known, and it was supposed to have removed for some years back considerably to the southward. We accordingly came here, having understood that there was no lack of Indians on the opposite side of the Cordillera, fronting Osorno and Chiloe. My information, as far as it could be available, was complete, and I had made all the preliminary arrangements, purposing, if it were the Lord's will, on the 1st of September to have crossed to the opposite coast, and by one of the most practicable passes which could be found, to have struck directly eastward, until some traces of the Indians were found. Since 1745 no one has crossed the Cordillera in this part of Chili, and as the route then taken was much more northerly than that I should have attempted, considering the natural obstacles which were there encountered, we should necessarily have had to work our way by compass. But I will now explain why the execution of this plan has been given up. It appears a remarkable coincidence that the same padre who was at Arique at the time we were at Quinchilca was a fellow-passenger with us in the brig which conveyed us to this island. No sooner had he landed here than he deliberately circulated all sorts of absurd reports concerning me. I was come to disturb the minds of the faithful, to make proselytes, &c., &c. It was gravely believed that I was a clergyman, some even affirmed that I was a bishop in disguise. But of all this I heard nothing except the exclamation, 'Padre,' as I passed, whispered by the peasantry, nor should have alluded to such mere tattle but to introduce a graver subject. In the course of a few weeks, Mr Lawson, whom we had known before at Valdivia, arrived here in command of a trading sloop, and called me aside to inform me that Manuel, the friar above alluded to, was now here, and that after we had left Valdivia, he had openly declared that it was entirely in consequence of his influence with Don Francisco Abierto, the commissary for the Indians in that province, that I had been thwarted in my plans at residing at Ranco. Notwithstanding this, as it was not yet the season for travelling, I was still in hopes of outliving, by a quiet residence here, every sinister attempt to prejudice me in the minds of the Chilotes, fully expecting that these foolish reports would gradually subside. In this, however, I was too sanguine; for no sooner did I commence to search in earnest for the men who were to accompany me across the mountains, than it was found to be altogether impracticable. A North American seaman, who was the only individual whom I engaged, and who, from some length of residence in the country, was well acquainted with the people, assured me that he found it quite impossible to get up the party required. Further inquiry fully bore out his statement, and made it still more evident that Friar Manuel had not laid aside any of his opposition. In order still further to prejudice me in the minds of this people, it was insinuated that I had, by some means or other, occasioned the loss of the consecrated wafer, which a few nights before had been missed!
". . . . Having at last abandoned, with great reluctance, all hope of reaching the Indian population in the part where they are most civilised and least migratory, my thoughts are necessarily turned towards the south. Happily for us, and I trust, eventually for the poor Indians, the Falkland Islands are now under the British flag; and although the settlement is poor, and may never be much improved from its present condition, still it is the rendezvous of numbers of whalers, and the head-quarters of the small sealing vessels which frequent the straits of Magelhaen.....Making this our headquarters, I purpose crossing over in a sealer, and, if possible, bringing back with me two or three Patagonian lads in order to teach them English, and thus prepare them to become interpreters to the missionaries who, we trust, may eventually settle amongst them. Who can tell but that the Falkland Islands, so admirably situated for the purpose, may become the key to the aborigines both of Tierra del Fuego and of Patagonia?"
After this decision, the earliest opportunity was seized for the return of the family to Valparaiso, whence they sailed for the Falkland Islands in the following November, and anchored in Berkeley Sound on the 2od of December. This group of islands numbers about two hundred, but most of them are very small--the two largest are called East and West Falkland. The seat of government was at that time at Port Louis, in Berkeley Sound, but was afterwards transferred to Port William, where the town of Stanley has been built.
In December 1841, Port Louis presented a very dreary aspect. It was simply a naval station, under the command of Lieutenant Tyssen, of H.M. ketch Arrow, and he was absent surveying another harbour. A few scattered cottages formed the settlement, and one a little better than the rest was called the Government House. No cultivation varied the monotony of the treeless landscape, but the undulating plains were healthy, and abounded with wild fowl: there were also herds of wild cattle, which had multiplied from a few imported when the Spaniards held possession of the island, and the numerous bays abounded with fish. The residents on the island numbered only about twenty men and three or four women; and the new-comers were much indebted to Lieutenant Cox, of H.M. ketch Sparrow, who rendered them every friendly help, including the services of a boat's crew to erect a small wooden house which they had brought with them.
A few months later, Lieutenant Moody, E.E., came as governor with a company of sappers and miners; and in the month of April the society of the island received a great accession by the arrival of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror, under Captain J. C. Ross and Captain F. Crozier, who were on a voyage of magnetic observation and put in for the winter.
Captain Gardiner found it much less easy than he had anticipated to obtain a passage to Patagonia from the Falkland Islands, and was at last induced to charter a small sailing schooner to take him there. We give his own account of the trip:--
"The schooner which had been engaged for the purpose entered the straits of Magelhaen, March 22, 1842, and after a fruitless attempt to obtain the confidence of the natives, on the north coast of Tierra del Fuego, we anchored in Gregory Bay. Although this is one of the principal resorts of the natives, none were seen on this occasion; the country for a considerable distance was examined, and at a spot, about eight miles inland, traces of a recent encampment were observed; but as no eligible site was found for a missionary station, we proceeded to Oazy harbour, about twenty miles to the westward, where a party of Indians, who were not far distant, soon made their appearance, and shortly afterwards formed an encampment near the anchorage.
"By means of an individual named San Leon, (a native of Monte Video, who had resided twelve years in the country,) they were made distinctly to understand that I came in the character of a missionary, and that my only object in visiting them was to prepare the way for their being instructed in the knowledge of the true God. They replied that I was at liberty to remain as long as I pleased, and to build where I thought proper: they also entered into an agreement, at my request, that none of my property should be stolen or injured. This I deemed expedient, from the number of Fuegians who were residing amongst them, and who have the character of being notorious thieves. During the time that the schooner was absent, procuring a cargo of timber in Port Famine, I had an opportunity of putting these fair promises to the test, and must acknowledge that they gave me as little trouble as any natives whom I have seen.
Shortly before I left the encampment at Oazy harbour, which consisted of about a hundred individuals, the principal chief, Wissale, arrived with about an equal number from the interior, having been absent eight months on a trading expedition to El Carmen, the Buenos Ayrean settlement on the Rio Negro, whence he had brought one hundred and twenty newly-purchased horses. With this party was a North American coloured man, named Isaac, who had left a whaler on the coast, and for the last three years had been living with the Patagonians. He has in a great measure mastered the language, and can make himself perfectly understood, which is not the case with San Leon, although he has been so many years in the country. Availing myself of this favourable circumstance, my objects were again fully explained, and Wissale was informed on every point. The result was perfectly satisfactory, and from the high character which Isaac gave of him, and from the open and friendly manner in which he received me, I felt assured that he was sincere."
In consequence of the peaceable and friendly demeanour of the Patagonians, Captain Gardiner was encouraged to believe that a good work might be carried on among them, with every hope for a blessing. It had been his plan to remove his family there, and himself hold the ground, (as he termed it,) till the Church Missionary Society could send out a staff of missionaries, to carry on the work more effectually than he could do. Circumstances afterwards induced him to conduct his family to England, and follow up, by his personal exertions, the letters that he had written from the Falklands. But his efforts were unavailing. The subject was considered by the committee of the Church Missionary Society; but Captain Gardiner was informed that the missions already established demanded more than the means at their command; and any attempt to form a mission in Patagonia was declined, though it was pressed upon them with the offer, that if they would select and appoint the agents, the whole expenses of the undertaking should be guaranteed for three years, and £100 a year afterwards.
At length, in 1844, a special Society was formed for South America alone, and it took its name from the country destined to be the scene of its earliest effort. The head-quarters of the Society were at the outset at Brighton; and very soon Mr Robert Hunt, the master of an endowed school in Kendal, was engaged as their first catechist to go to Patagonia. The committee very much wished to send out a clergyman, in the first instance, for obvious reasons: but four years had now passed since Captain Gardiner's interview with Wissale, and fears were entertained that a Chilian settlement, just formed at Port Famine, might exert an unfavourable influence over Wissale and his people, if further delay ensued. Consent was, therefore, given to the proposal, that Mr Hunt should immediately go out, Captain Gardiner offering to accompany him, and to remain with him, till he should be joined by a clergyman. [Now an ordained missionary of the Church Missionary Society in Prince Rupert's Land.]
The two Christian adventurers were landed by the brig Rosalie, at Oazy harbour, in the strait of Magelhaen, with three small huts, one for stores, one for cooking, and the other for sleeping, and every necessary provision for their support for some months. The wandering tribe, whom they came to benefit, were inland at the time of their arrival, and the Rosalie pursued her voyage to the Pacific, leaving them alone. This was in the month of February 1845.
They found, on landing, the hut of a Fuegian, who, with his family, seemed inoffensive and readily pointed out the place where fresh water could be procured always the first consideration to settlers.
"A few days afterwards two Patagonians arrived, giving us to understand that they belonged to Wissale's party; each of them carried a bow and arrow, and was on foot. Towards the afternoon the chief arrived, the only mounted man of the party. His attendants were eight men, from six feet two inches to six feet seven inches in stature, and two women, one of them his grandmother, and the other one of his wives. They had brought with them a store of guanaco and ostrich meat, but this was deposited in our kitchen; while at Wissale's request, biscuit was served out to them. The next day we did not expect them to dine with us, as some of their tents had arrived. Wissale, however, hung about the place, and when dinner was ready, I invited him to partake of it. Instead of accepting our hospitality, he sat sullenly in the midst of a small group of natives at a short distance from the house, with his mantle closely wrapped round him, and his upper lip covered--a sure sign of anger, among all the natives whom I have met with, whether in Africa or America.
"A pretext for his displeasure was indeed set up, but of so trivial a nature that only a determination to create a misunderstanding could have made it a subject of remonstrance. He soon afterwards mounted his horse, saying that to-morrow his people would arrive, intimating not very unequivocally that then he would avenge himself upon us. I followed him as he was walking his horse, and pressed him to receive a present of biscuit. Every argument I could think of was employed, still he proceeded, still I continued at his side, telling him I should not leave him till he gave me his hand. At length he relaxed a little, but the biscuit was a second time refused.
"On the 16th, more Patagonians arrived--men, women, and children--about seventy in all. Wissale and his son breakfasted with us. He had said:--'Whenever you partake of food, I and one of my children must eat with you.' There was room neither for remonstrance nor modification; it was not a request, but a demand, and there was no alternative but to submit. That same day the Commodore, from Valparaiso, bound for Liverpool, put into the bay, and the captain and a passenger came on shore. While they were with us, I took the opportunity of recapitulating what had been said before to Wissale, requesting him in their presence either to retract or ratify the permission he had given, adding that, as an English vessel had now arrived, it remained with him to decide whether we should go home by her, or remain and endeavour to instruct his people, giving him to understand that, unless he promised to protect us, we could not possibly stay, He replied that we were brothers, and that he would protect us, adding that, after a short visit to Port Famine, it was his intention to return to Gregory Bay, and remain there with his people during the winter."
Nevertheless, on the very day of the Commodore sailing, Wissale returned to his sullen attitude within his ample cloak, demanding food on all occasions, as well as spirits and tobacco. His gusts of ill-temper were sudden and violent, and his whole bearing was so hostile that the lives of our friends seemed to hang by a very slender thread.
The Commodore was soon followed by the Ancud schooner from Port Famine, having on board Padre Domingo, a South American Indian, who had been trained up and sent, on the principle of the Propaganda, to be a teacher among his countrymen. He was civil, and so was the captain, oven offering the Englishmen a passage to Port Famine. This was declined; but the growing influence of the Chilian settlement was so apparent that this consideration, added to the hostility of Wissale, led to the decision that it was necessary to abandon Patagonia for the present.
Captain Gardiner writes:--"My own observations have led me to conclude that a very great change had taken place in the character and condition of Wissale and the people about him. They are now a mere wreck of what they were in 1812. Instead of possessing 120 horses, they had now scarcely a dozen, and even those only fit to carry their tents from place to place at a foot's pace. The same men who formerly rode off at a gallop on their hunting expeditions are now compelled to proceed on foot, and employ bows and arrows, like the Fuegians. This tribe is now divided; the majority of the men and horses were with San Leon. Wissale is evidently jealous of him. For some time we were in hope that this circumstance might have operated in our favour, by causing Wissale gradually to absent himself from Port Famine, and make Gregory Bay his more permanent residence. But we have seen too much of his character to place any confidence in his conduct or his professions.
", . . . "We can never do wrong in casting the gospel net on any side, or in any place. During many a dark and wearisome night we may appear to have toiled in vain, but it will not always be so; the promise, though long delayed, will assuredly come to pass. "We can know, no more than St Peter did, at what time or on what side of the vessel we are most likely to meet with success; but this one word I will add, 'Having cast the net on one side, let us not slothfully or unbelievingly relinquish the work, but, committing ourselves and the heathen, whose souls we seek, afresh to the direction and tender mercy of our God, lot us now cast it in humble confidence on the other side; and who can tell but the same gracious Saviour who commanded success to the disciples on the sea of Tiberias, will vouchsafe to ordain strength out of our weakness, so that we shall have cause to admire the riches of His grace?'"
No sooner had the resolution been taken of returning to England than an opportunity of doing so was afforded. The English barque Ganges, from Valparaiso, made her appearance, and anchored in the Bay. In this vessel Captain Gardiner and Mr Hunt embarked for England on the 20th of March.