Chapter VII. Missionary Work in Tierra del Fuego
ON the return of the Allen Gardiner to England, in January 1862, it was determined to add to her length, and thereby increase her efficiency as a sea boat, and the accommodation for those on board. This was accomplished; and in August of that year, with a fresh missionary party, she left Bristol for her work in the Antarctic Ocean. A favourable passage was made to the River Plate, where for three weeks the vessel remained, while Mr Stirling, the new Superintendent, visited Monte Video and Buenos Ayres in the interests of the Mission. In both these places committees were formed, and pecuniary aid was given towards the work in the south. But while attention was drawn to the special sphere of operations for which the Allen Gardiner was designed, and to occupy which the Mission party on board had come out, a strong and earnest desire was expressed by several persons of influence that a wider development should be given to the Society's agencies. Opportunities of Christian usefulness were pointed out on all sides, and the value of the Society as a means of turning these to good account was thoroughly recognised.
Leaving the River Plate, the Allen Gardiner proceeded on her voyage to the Rio Negro, which is the northern boundary of Patagonia. The visit to this place, and also to the river Santa Cruz, and the missionary work in those parts, will be referred to in another chapter; and we mention it in passing now, merely to account for the fact that the Allen Gardiner did not reach Keppel Island in the Falklands till January 30, 1863. There were at the mission station at this time but two adult natives of Tierra del Fuego, and their two little children. The prescribed course of work had been, in fact, interrupted by the massacre already spoken of, and the subsequent return to England of Mr Despard and his family. Yet the interval had not been wholly lost time. On the contrary, Mr Bridges had diligently applied himself, under favourable circumstances, to the acquisition of the Fuegian language, and the moral effect on Okokko and his wife of their sojourn at the mission station was very marked. An extract from Mr Stirling's journal, referring to his arrival at Keppel Island, will not be out of place here:--
"From the water the station does not bear a very prepossessing look--the houses are not grouped for effect; and, architecturally, are not imposing. The views from the land, on the contrary, are full of interest. The high lands of the Falklands and the islands so thickly scattered, and so richly occupied with beetling rock and pinnacle, now glow with purple in the hazy prospect, or stand out sharp and clear under a cloudless sky, the ever-changing sea rolling grandly between. On landing, we were met on the jetty by William Bartlett and Okokko. The latter's wife and two children were watching us from a little distance. The letters announcing our approach had never reached the station, but the possibility of such a thing did not occur to me, and I failed to introduce myself by name until Bartlett's difficulty was manifest on attempting to introduce me to his wife. Okokko surprised me by his good English, pleasant manners, and joyous laugh. He and his family have had many advantages since 1859; but if in less than four years the result of education and kind treatment are so conspicuously good in their case those who labour for the future benefit of these people have the utmost encouragement and rewards in store. I cannot fail to hope, moreover, that though at the present time there is much need of a deeper insight into the faith of Christ on Okokko's part than he can be said to have, (such in fact as would justify me in baptizing him,) he is, nevertheless, very capable as well as desirous of teaching his countrymen many of the lessons that he has learned, both from the word of God and the practices of Christian family life. Okokko foretells the time when, he being old and his children grown up, the whole people of Ticira del Fuego shall be taught to know God, and enjoy in peaceable habitations the fruits of Christian civilisation. This is his own picture, and the time of the prophecy his own.
"Perhaps I ought to have given mi earlier place in my letter to the mention of Mr Bridges. I am satisfied that he holds in his hand, and can use far better than any one else, the key of the Fuegian language. He has caught the verbal formations, and traced them through all their intricacies. He accompanies me in the Allen Gardiner to Tierra del Fuego, where Okokko and his family will also go, but our stay must be short, as the season is already far advanced."
An anecdote may Help to give an impression of the action upon Okokko's mind at this time of what he had been taught. In reply to a question by Mr Stirling, William Bartlett said--"I would rather have Okokko to work with me than half the English lads,"--and added--"He is very much changed, that he is, from what he was when he first came. Any person can see it. But he has got a quick temper." "How has he shown it? Has he done any act of violence?" "No, sir; he has done no act of violence; but the other day I went down to Mr Bridges' house, and found Okokko there in a great passion with Mr Bridges, who could do nothing with him." "And what did you do?" "Why, sir, I told him he had better come out with me in the garden, and work a bit." "And did he come?" "He came, sir; and when he was working, I talked to him about his temper, and told him it was very wrong to be so quick angry; that Mr Bridges was his very good friend; and that God would be angry with him if he gave way to such violent temper." "What reply did he make?" "He said, in his way of speaking, 'God does not answer prayer now as He used to. Mr Bridges tells me, if I pray, God will give me a new heart, and He hasn't done it.' "
It was thus made plain to the missionary party just arrived, that they were entering upon other men's labours. Not only had a station, with all its details of farming and gardening, been formed in Keppel Island; not uiily had the way been pioneered; not only had the language of a Fuegian tribe been in great measure acquired; but a breaking in of light upon the mind of one at least of these natives was perceptible. It was encouraging to the new comers to find that Okokko had earned a reputation for industry, and that he had learned to pray.
Before proceeding further, it may be well to give some account of the people and country of Tierra del Fuego. We are indebted to Darwin for the following summary of its physical features and zoology:--"The country may be described as a mountainous land, partly submerged in the sea, so that deep inlets and bays occupy the place where valleys should exist. The mountain sides, except on the exposed western coast, are covered from the water's edge upwards by one great forest. The trees reach to an elevation of between 1000 and 1500 feet, and are succeeded by a band of peat, with minute Alpine plants, and this again is succeeded by the line of perpetual snow. Level land is scarcely to be found. The zoology of Tierra del Fuego is very poor. Of mammalia, besides whales and seals, there are one bat, a kind of mouse, two true mice, two foxes, a sea-otter, the guanaco, and a deer. Most of these animals inhabit only the drier eastern parts of the country. The gloomy woods are inhabited by few birds. No reptiles are found throughout the country."
To compensate for this dearth of animal life on land, the waters of the sea are abundantly stocked with living creatures. Darwin thus speaks of them:--
"In all parts of the world, a rocky and partially protected shore perhaps supports in a given space a greater number of individual animals than any other station. There is one marine production, which, from its importance, is worthy of a particular history. It is the kelp, or macrocystis pyrifera. This plant grows on every rock, from low-water mark to a great depth, both on the outer coast and within the channels. The number of living creatures of all orders whose existence intimately depends on the kelp is wonderful. A great volume might be written describing the inhabitants of one of these beds of sea-weed. I can only compare these great aquatic forests of the southern hemisphere with the terrestrial ones in the inter-tropical regions. Yet, if in any country a forest was destroyed, I do not believe that nearly so many species of animals would perish as would here from the destruction of the kelp. Amidst the leaves of this plant, numerous species of fish live, which nowhere else could find food or shelter. With their destruction, the many cormorants and other fishing birds, the otters, seals, and porpoises, would soon perish also; and lastly the Fuegian savage, the miserable lord of this miserable land, would redouble his cannibal feasts, decrease in numbers, and perhaps cease to exist."
Further acquaintance with the Fuegians leads us to doubt whether cannibalism exists at all among them. The Fuegiana may be roughly divided into canoe Indians and foot Indians, the latter occupying the main island. The foot Indians are a superior race to the canoe Indians, more akin to those of Patagonia. They rarely use canoes, but live on the spoils of the chase.
The Fuegian climate is damp and windy, but equable. The mean temperature in winter and summer is about 33°. It is doubtful whether corn will ripen there; yet evergreen trees flourish, and humming-birds may be seen sucking the flowers, and parrots feeding on the seeds of the winterbark, in lat. 55 S. The southern hemisphere is occupied to a far larger extent than the northern by water, which accounts for the equable climate. The snow-line descends to 4000 or 3500 feet above the level of the sea, In the northern hemisphere, to meet with perpetual snow at this low level, we must travel to Norway between lat. 67° and 70°.
On the east coast the natives use a guanaco skin as a cloak; on the west, seal skins are used. Among the central tribes the men for the most part have either an otter skin or a seal skin as a partial protection for the body. But some are to be found entirely destitute of clothing. Their condition is miserable indeed. Polygamy exists certainly among sonic of the tribes, and probably among all. Among the different tribes there seems to be no government or chief. Each tribe is surrounded more or less remotely by hostile tribes, who speak different dialects; and jealousies arise and are rendered permanent by disputes about the means of subsistence. They are a thriftless people, with no domestic animals excepting dogs; not given to tilling the ground, and dependent, in the case of the canoo Indians, on fish and fungus; in that of the foot Indians, on the skilful use of the bow and arrow. The whale is a great boon to them, for they feed on the blubber, and manufacture the bones into spearheads and other instruments of hunting, and make fishing lines of plaited sinews; yet these natives could not procure a whale for themselves, but are indebted to the swordfish for harassing and driving ashore these monsters of the deep. The kelp and the swordfish are the mainstay of Fuegian life, The Fuegian language has no written character, and the missionary, in order to be tible to instruct them has in fact to become the pupil of a savage, who inadequately fulfils the duties of his new office of teacher. Few abstract terms are found in their language. No one word, so far as we know, represents fish. Yet the names of all the various kinds of fish existing in those waters are in common use. More than one name is used for the same thing, according as it is regarded from this or that point of view. The accidents, rather than the essence, of a thing are seized upon; and a stranger, while endeavouring to pick up the language, is often thereby perplexed. They count no higher than three. They are, moreover, without any form of worship, have no idols, and no knowledge of God. Their language is, so far as our information extends, without a word to represent the Divine Being.
It is with the fisher or canoe Indians that the missionaries hitherto have had to do, and it is plain that, in order to give scope among them for the development of Christian principles, there must be introduced along with the precepts of the gospel the elements of civilisation. This has been borne in mind in the attempts which have been made to establish a Christian mission among them, and it has been very interesting to watch the effect of these efforts in the case of Okokko's family. We now resume our narrative.
It was the duty of Mr Stirling to re-open communications with the Fuegians, for all communication between the mission station and Tierra del Fuego had ceased after the massacre in 1859. It was important that a good understanding should be established between the missionaries and the natives. On the influence of Okokko, and his efficiency as an interpreter very much depended.
The Allen Gardiner sailed for Tierra del Fuego in March 1863, touching at Banner Cove, Packsaddle Bay, and Woollya.
Among those on board was Okokko. How he acquitted himself as a friend and as an interpreter will be seen by reference to extracts from Mr Stirling's journal. At Packsaddle Bay a footing of confidence was speedily established through the friendly explanations of Okokko with the family of a man named Chingaline, whose son is now in England.
"Having overheard us singing at our morning prayer, they wished us to sing again, which we did, Okokko once leading, and then Mr Bridges; and subsequently, on the shore when we landed, the man and his eldest son sat and listened with the most evident pleasure while we sang 'Praise God from whom all blessings flow,' and 'From Greenland's Icy Mountains.' I desired Okokko and Mr Bridges to make plain to this man the nature of our work, and our desire to teach and benefit his people. To this he attentively listened, and when we asked him if he would like his son to visit Kcppel Island to be instructed, he was not long in talking to his boy abont it before he gave his consent. The boy, too, was well pleased. And now a word about the lad, whose age is perhaps fourteen, and his name Uroopatoosaloom. In height he is just over five feet, with black hair and full laughing eyes, a very pleasant expression, good features, and a mouth just large enough to display an enviable set of white teeth. Full of gentleness and good nature is this Fuegian lad, as far removed from a savage as I am. Not a man in the Allen Gardiner but likes him, not a man but has expressed surprise at his good qualities, his docility, his willingness to oblige, his quick accommodation to his new circumstances, his good looks, and cleanly habits. The fact is, I went to Tierra del Fuego screwed tight up in my prejudices, and desiring to exercise a very large charity towards a people belonging to the lowest portion of the human race. To my surprise I found myself wondering at the evident resemblance to myself which these savages presented, and then unconsciously striving to convince myself that they must be worse than they seemed to be. But I think I have learnt that it is more becoming to think and speak of these people respectfully, and to observe the apostolic precept, 'Honour all men.'
"The father's last words to his son were an exhortation that he should not go ashore at Woollya, but remain in the vessel, aa the natives there were not friendly with his people."
No more satisfactory evidence of confidence could be given than this. The father would trust his son to strangers, whose motives and purposes he recognised to be good, to be taken to the Falkland Islands, while yet he mistrusted his own countrymen, belonging to a neighbouring clan, distant but twenty miles. Thus was the way smoothed for a development of the plans of the Mission. The lad here referred to is one of the four who arrived in England in August 1865. We resume the journal:
"Woollya, March 2S.--It was very interesting to watch Okokko as he sought to impress his people with our desire to benefit them, to raise them out of their present poverty, and to teach them about God and Jesus Christ. The tone of his voice, as he addressed them, was unaffectedly earnest; and many attentive eyes and ears were fixed upon him and occupied with his words, as he spoke with an energy and animation congenial to the Fuegian mind, iron; the deck of the Allen Gardiner, to the assembled natives in the canoes about the ship. This was the first time that anything like preaching in their own tongue, and in their own land, had been addressed to these neglected people, and it seemed like the beginning of better things. It is certainly significant of a blessing on the past labours of the Mission, and prophetic, I trust, of greater blessings to come.
"Sunday, March 29.--He went on shore with his wife and family, and spent the day, as he assures me, and I have no doubt of it, in seeking to make his countrymen understand our real object, and to secure their friendly disposition towards us; telling them that the ship was built and sent out expressly for them that they might be made acquainted with God, and know about Jesus Christ who died for them; and that good men go to heaven, and bad men go to hell; that if they were good we would come and teach them many things that would profit them now, and that by and by they should have goats, and sheep, and gardens, the same as at Keppel Island. This is a faithful summary of what he staled that he said to his people, as he visited them in their wigwams; and if I may judge of the effect of his words by the subsequent quiet and exemplary conduct of the natives, I should say it was eminently beneficial."
Our readers will not misunderstand, or give an exaggerated force to the word "preaching," in the foregoing extract. They will bear in mind the very imperfectly informed state of mind of the native who addressed his people, and the incapability of the people at this time of taking in the meaning of such words as God and Jesus Christ, as heaven and hell; and the chief effect, therefore, of Okokko's address to his countrymen must have been derived from the earnestness of his manner, and the assurance which he gave of a friendly spirit on the part of the missionaries. They had come "not to destroy men's lives, but to save them."
"During the remainder of our stay at Woollya we continued on the most friendly terms with the natives. Mr Bridges gained much éclat by his acquaintance with their language, and there can be no doubt that his whole heart is in his work."
The number of Fuegians who were desirous of visiting the mission station were more than could be accommodated there. But on the return of the Allen Gardiner to Keppel, Mr Stirling writes:--"We have now, with Okokko and his family, eleven natives of Tierra del Fuego under our training and care."
Shortly afterwards three Patagonians, from Santa Cruz, came in the Allen Gardiner to the mission station on Keppel Island. The trio were composed of a man aged about sixty, his daughter and son. In appearance they far excelled the natives of the Fuegian Archipelago, and although good-humoured and civil, they did not affect to disguise the superiority of which they were conscious. The orderly arrangements of everything at the station did not fail to strike the new comers. Nothing could be more different from all they had been accustomed to than the circumstances of their new position. The regularity of the hours of labour, of meals, and of the issuing of stores; the morning and evening services of religion to which they were summoned by the sound of the bell; the appointed periods of instruction; the attention bestowed upon the gardens and the farm; the tameness of the animals about the station; the novelties of diet, and the large use of vegetables; the contrasts between the toldo, or the wigwam, and the snug cottage; the differences of clothing, and the importance attached to cleanliness in every particular; these, and a hundred other matters utterly beyond the range of their past experience--in themselves so small as almost to escape our notice--immediately arrested the observation of these strangers, and exercised a wonderful influence upon their imaginations. The new life was a series of surprises to them. Yet they fell in with its requirements easily; and the occasions on which it was necessary to enforce a rule, when once understood, were remarkably rare.
But with all its novelties and restrictions, Keppel Island was well adapted as a place of training for the natives. The climate is healthy and invigorating, rendering bodily exercise pleasant. The daily necessities of supplying food and fuel by steady industry in the extensive mission gardens and the peat valley, or by the more exciting pursuit of the cattle., now running wild in the camp, harmonised at once the aims of the missionaries with the instincts of the natives. In the gardens were laid the foundation of orderly habits of labour, while expeditions into the camp for beef, relieved the insular life of its monotony, by satisfying that innate love of the chase, which is so strong a passion in the South American races. As a consequence, the natives were generally healthy; and, not being afflicted with "long thinking," accepted with great readiness the new conditions of life in which they were placed. In the morning they regularly attended the services, which commenced the day; attentive and reverent in their manner, not indeed at first understanding all that took place, but imbued with the solemnity of the proceedings, and carrying away with them convictions of a worship due to the unseen Spirit. The morning service over, lessons commenced. In one class are the little boys--it may be, just arrived from their own country. They know but a few stray words of English, and their own language offers no means of telling them about God, and of the gift of His Son, and of His kingdom. Words to express these things, oven in a mutilated form, are wanting in their tongue. The basis of Christian instruction must be the English language. Accordingly, by line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, the young lads are familiarised with Christian truths in English, and their memories are exercised by verses of Scripture, or hymns, which they are taught to repeat. At first, the process of instruction is to them an amusing puzzle, and there are frequent smiles on the part of some who possess a more facile utterance than their companions, at false pronunciations made by them. One remarks, to the evident satisfaction of the majority, that so and so, in his attempts at English, "brays like a penguin." The allusion is not polite, but exceedingly good-humoured, and nobody is offended. A laugh of approval is the only consequence. By degrees the bearing upon their daily life of what they have been committing to memory begins to strike them. The God about whom they have lately heard for the first time is He, in obedience to whose commands the missionaries are there to teach them, is the One whose law Englishmen acknowledge, is a God of mercy, desirous of doing good, not evil to men--is the Maker of all things, knows all things, sees all things, governs all things. Thus far, it may be said, the natives, under regular instruction, show a readiness to accept what is taught. They listen, too, with satisfaction to the evidence of God's love in. the gift of His Son; but the Atonement has its manifest difficulties to their minds, and it may be questioned whether this fundamental truth has hitherto been truly received in its fulness by any of the natives. As a statement of fact, they believe it; but, from the absence of deep sin-conviction, they have not yet learned the value of that blood shed for the forgiveness of sin. Their outward conduct, however, answers rapidly to the new principle of action which the gospel enforces; and lads from Tierra del Fuego, belonging to the degraded tribes of that benighted laud, show, in their general demeanour and docility, how capable they are of profiting by the instruction given.
The more advanced youths are meanwhile pursuing their studies, slowly indeed, but satisfactorily,--here engaged in learning to write and there in reading, while all are taught come text of Scripture, on which they will be presently questioned. The hours of morning school are not long. At 11 A.M. they are expected to be at their outdoor work, and not till the evening will they again be in the presence of the black-board and their primers, or storing their minds with some lines of a hymn, which on the morrow they will sing together. It is a happy thing that these natives are musical, for the hymns and chants in the Church services delight them, and very pleasant it is to hear their young voices singing, in sweet accord, words and tunes familiar to our English ears.
We have spoken of our male pupils. Girls are not visitors at our station. Only married women are invited; nor would others he permitted by the natives of Tierra del Fuego to come under our care. These are few in number, and have scarcely received such regular instruction as their husbands and the boys have enjoyed. Still they have profited to a considerable degree by their sojourn on Keppel Island, and have, in acquiring the habits of civilised life, prepared themselves for future usefulness. The wife of Okokko, owing to the early training received from Mr Despard's family, and followed up by others, is as capable of keeping house and looking after her children, their clothes, &c., and making a home for her husband, as most English labourers' wives. Her knowledge of English, and facility of reading and writing, are at least on a par with Okokko's; and all that we can desire for her is the fulness of the Divine grace, which alone sanctifies and transforms the human heart. Of the other women we can speak hopefully. They interest and encourage in many ways those who seek their good, but it would be wrong to say more than this, and allow mere wishes to outstrip one's judgment.
It may be suggested that the comforts and regularity of life on Keppel Island unfit, to some extent, those who have enjoyed them, for the ruder state of things in their own. home, and that the natives thus trained are thereby more or loss separated, in feeling and interest, from their fellow-countrymen. Without denying that there is some truth in this, it is yet satisfactory to know that the natural affection of these natives for their people is a pretty safe counteracting influence to danger of this kind. We find, for instance, Okokko, after a protracted stay at the mission station, expressing his desire to settle amongst his people, lest by a too long separation he should lose his influence for good over them. At a time when this man and his family were the only ones properly prepared to set an example of Christian civilisation in Tierra del Fuego, he courageously preferred settling there to waiting till others might be more advanced, and ready to aid him in his enterprise. It is true certain natives who had been on Keppel Island belonged to his tribe, and were living in his neighbourhood, and even promised to aid him; but they were young, and, as it proved, without influence, and only most imperfectly instructed. This fact speaks much in favour of the system adopted by the Society. We now revert to Mr Stirling's journal, which gives an account of the voyage to Tierra del Fuego, and the establishment at Woollya of Okokko and his family. The date is Woollya:--
"On February 18, 1864, the Allen Gardiner left Keppel for Woollya. Okokko was now about to settle in Tierra del Fuego, and there to create a home. Camilenna, his wife, was no longer to fish and wander in the canoe. Her position for the future was to resemble that of an English wife; she was to stay at home, take care of the children, and present to her people an example of domestic life. I give you the idea of Okokko--not mine, or any one else's--respecting his wife's future mode of life in her own country. As for the other Fuegians, all was cheerfulness and mirth; one might think they were returning to some cheerful, well-appointed home, and not to the rude privileges of the wigwam and the bark canoe. But, in fact, it was the joyous-ness of youth and health, the flush of pleasure which 'packing-up and going away' produces in boys, or the love of change so deep in young hearts, that caused such unwonted animation in the Allen Gardiner,
"On the 27th the anchor was let go in Lennox Cove. We had our first interview with the natives at Gretton Bay, Wollaston Island. On arriving at Packsaddle Bay, a gloom was cast over the minds of the natives on board by rumours of a fatal malady which, in the past summer, had carried off large numbers of the people. Every one of our party was said to have lost relations. T. Button had lost two brothers; Three-boys his father, and other relations. All Camilenna's relations had died; and Lucca, too, had lost uncles and cousins; Uroopa's father had become a widower, &c. An unaffected grief took possession of our lately happy company of natives: the saddest of all, perhaps, was Threeboys, whose father, James Button, was now reported to be dead. Poor Camilenna, too, had one long night of weeping, and Okokko's eyes in the morning looked swollen and heavy. Tom Button came to me more than once, saying, 'Mr Stirling, I very unhappy; by and by happy,' and his face bore traces of a saddened spirit. We were requested not to allude to the deceased by name, for the Fuegians, like the Patagonians, and other Indians, bury in silence the names of the departed. Our sympathy was expressed in words of kindness; but I longed for a larger utterance of the love and life which are in Christ to cheer and quicken the, mourners' hearts. A desire to proceed quickly to Woollya was, of course, the result of the above intelligence, and on Monday, the wind being fair, the captain got the vessel under way. Uroopa's father, who belongs to this neighbourhood, was absent; the weather had been adverse to his coming; but, in fact, the canoe party, who undertook to fetch him, never fulfilled their contract, and Chingaline was not aware of the Allen Gardiner's presence with his son on board. On March the 7th we reached Woollya. On our passage thither we saw several canoes in snug corners, some moored to the kelp, and the natives in them fishing, some paddling along in shore, while one more bold than the rest attempted to intercept us, and a voice, as we hastened by--(the captain letting the ship go off a little, to avoid running the canoe down)--remonstrated with us for not taking the venturesome craft in tow. It was dark, and a drizzling rain falling, when we anchored in Woollya. The approach of the vessel was the signal for a burst of mournful news; and loud and melancholy sounded the tidings of death. There had been a malignant sickness, and old and young, very many, had been swept away by it. James Button was dead.
"On the following morning we were early visited by the people, but their number was not large. As the day advanced, however, canoes kept coming in, yet not numerously, as a fresh breeze agitated the waters in the Sound too much to allow canoes comfortably to cross it. On the third, or fourth day, the entire Woollya party had probably assembled, and forty canoes were reckoned at one time in the harbour. Poor Jamesina, as Mr Despard used to call James Button's wife, visited the ship the day after its arrival, and in her canoe were eleven persons, mostly young. Her face was full of sorrow; and, pointing with her finger toward the sky, she gave me to understand, by looks more than words, the cause of her grief, and how great it was. A majority of the natives had the hair cut short on the crown of the head, and other evidences of mourning were frequent. Our presence among them, however, produced daily a more cheerful tone.
"We miss many once familiar faces. It is remarkable that the sickness of which I have spoken should not have occurred until after the return of the Allen Gardiner, subsequently to the massacre, and as a pledge of the forgiveness of their enemies which Christians can show; but there are so many suggestive providences in the history of our Mission, that to dwell on them would destroy the character of this letter as a chronicle of facts. I therefore forbear.
"On March 7th, the boat is manned at 9.45 AM., and, under the command of the captain, proceeds to Button Island. Mr Bridges accompanies me in the boat. Okokko and Pinoiensee guide us into a pleasant cove, which they consider suitable for their future dwelling. A site for a station is the object of our search. The water is deep up to the landing-place; in the kelp close by, an old sea-lion was just now sleeping; a young fur-seal every now and then poked his head above water, but took no pains to wake the drowsy lion. Startled by a bullet from our boat, the huge creature has leaped bodily into the air, and with a fierce plunge disappeared beneath the deep waters. That seal would have been a prize for their people, but they still hope that some fortunate canoe party may fall in with and secure it. On landing, we cannot but admire the spot, and the scarlet flower of the mugoo, (Fuegian name,) a beautiful shrub, shines out with dazzling brilliancy. There is a narrow valley before us, but it looks as if winter Hoods chased down it. The rocks rise precipitous to the right and left, with a gorge here and there, up which the thin verdure slopes in a feigned fertility. The soil is good beneath our feet, and Okokko praises it highly. The grass grows luxuriantly, and the wild currant too: but the space available for the purposes of a settlement admits of very narrow development, and it is resolved that we examine another locality.
"A row of two miles or so brings us to a spot very superior in every respect to the one just visited. There is abundance of good ground, good wood, good water, good grass. A walk on shore well repays us, by its frequent introduction to something new and interesting. Here is the funeral pyre on which the body of one of Macooallan's brothers was recently burned--here the wigwam or framework of branches, where for a day the body lay in state. The body of James Button has not yet been burned; it is merely interred. The return of his brother from Keppel Island has been waited for, and now the remains will be submitted to the flames. This information is given to us in a subdued voice by Okokko. Half a mile from where we leave the boat there is a lake. It is muffled round with woods, through which we have approached it. From the trees the boys have gathered two kinds of fungus, which we taste, and while tasting, think the natives not so badly off after all. I may here say that there are some twenty different sorts of fungus, and these come in distinct seasons, so that for several months in the year at least food of that kind is plentiful. Berries, too, in summer are abundant, and of various kinds. In fact, whilst staying at Woollya, it is an almost daily matter to see files of men and boys returning from the woods, laden with these fruits of the season. We retrace our steps to the landing-place, thinking we can do no better than determine on this place for the establishment of Okokko. But down that rugged steep, the captain says, comes the fitful hurricane, the 'Williwaw;' and he dislikes the place for anchorage, with its deep waters and possible blasts. We begin to fear lest the proper safeguards for the ship may be compromised if we cling to our land projects; for to anchor for a night or two is one thing--to anchor off the place, while a station is being laid out on shore, is altogether another. However, here is a breeze, and the boat-sail is hoisted, and we are hastening back to our little vessel at Woollya, thinking a decked-boat would be much safer in these windy channels, and putting off a decision as to the place of Okokko's settlement. The ship is reached by 3.30 P.M., and the chief officer reports favourably of the conduct of the natives during the day. In the evening, Mr Rau tells me that Lucca has pointed out the exact spot where were placed the dead bodies of our friends who fell in Nov. 1859. It is not two hundred yards from where the Allen Gardiner lies at anchor. The next morning I question Lucca about it, and he speaks confidently on the subject. He helped to convey one body to the spot in question, and he and Okokko covered the bodies with large stones, lest the foxes should devour them. Okokko corroborates all this. At once the boat is lowered, and we proceed to the place. Great fragments of rock lie here one upon another, the lowest washed by the waters of the bay, the highest about eighteen feet above them. Overhanging all is the solid rock, rising with a bold front some thirty feet, and then falling back under cover of the descending forest. We scramble over the broken rocks, and presently traces of the deceased come to light. The remains of Mr Phillips and Captain Fell are unmistakable, and I have no doubt that six of the bodies of our beloved friends were placed entire where we sought them, that they were placed there in their clothes, and that not even their pockets were rifled.
"In the afternoon of the 11th of March I read the funeral service, partly in the ship, and partly by the grave. For the Collect immediately succeeding the Lord's Prayer, I substituted that for St Stephen's Day; otherwise, I adhered to the accustomed English service. The flag hung half-mast high, and every token of reverent feeling was unaffectedly offered. The hymn beginning
"'When our heads are bow'd with woe,
When our bitter tears o'erflow,
When we mourn the lost, the dear,
Jesu, born of woman, hear,'
concluded the solemn service, and the booming of the ship's two signal guns announced aloud that it was over."
It was a coincidence not overlooked that, on the very day on which the remains of the party massacred were discovered, the chapter read at the evening service on board the Allen Gardiner, and coming in the ordinary course, was Isaiah xxv. Those present had their at ten lion directed to the remarkable promise,--"And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth, for the Lord hath spoken it."
The physical aspects of the place corresponded with the language of the prophet, and the taking away of the veil cast over all people, and the victory over death, and the wiping away of tears, foretold and secured by the mouth of the Lord, seemed to fit in and harmonise with the circumstances of the work, and the earnest longings of those engaged in it.
"On the 11th of March, Macooallan (i.e., T. Button) ventured to resume life in the wigwam. His wife and two children accompanied him, also Pinoiensee. We gave him some biscuit, and rice, and beans, with about six lbs. of sugar. He expressed himself as pleased with our kindness. Now, I should like to say something of this man, but how to do so without danger of saying too much, or too little, I do not know. You will, however, understand that he is in a very inferior degree, so far as I can see, inwardly acquainted with Christian truth. His mind is, I fear, very dark. Sometimes I am told he gives vent to the expression, 'What will become of me?' in a tone suggestive of earnest, though perplexed inquiry. His manner, too, is reverent, and has a semblance of intelligence in our public worship. Privately he listens with apparent interest to a chapter of the Bible, or some oral statement of truth; but he cannot read, and when not actually within the living zone of Christian influence, and left to stand alone without the direct guidance of Christian teachers, there is, perhaps, little reason to expect from him more than a general improvement in manners. Mr Rau, however, and I rejoice to say it, cherishes a far more hopeful view of Macooallan's state of mind. At Keppel Island he formed no steady habit of industry, although he was ever ready to serve me, and at times gave voluntary assistance in the gardens, &c. His age cannot be less than fifty, I think; and at that time of life old habits are difficult to be broken up. Yet I look for some positive advantages to the Mission work from his influence amongst his country people, and from the gentle temper and grateful spirit of his wife.
"It is finally determined, after examination of several neighbouring islets, to erect a dwelling and goat-house for Okokko, at Woollya, close to the spot where the dilapidated Lut stands.
"On Monday morning, the 14th inst., Chingaline arrived at Woollya. He has heard of our recent visit in Packsaddle Bay, and of our present whereabouts, so he has come to see his son. In the canoe with him are two young women, sisters, (one married, the other single,) a strong and active looking young man, (the husband of the married woman,) and a brother of Uroopa, aged, perhaps, nine years. Not one of the new comers ventures to land; for friendly relations between the people of Packsaddle Bay and Woollya are not reliable. But the deck of the Allen Gardiner is neutral ground, and there Chingaline and his nephew, the man just spoken of, delight to stand. We give them a hospitable reception, and beyond all doubt a good measure of satisfaction is experienced by our visitors, by Chingaline most particularly, who finds his son so strong and well, and contented with his lot. The father wishes Uroopa to go with him in the canoe, to which we immediately agree, and presently--his box being brought up, and all his little property handed down into the canoe--we say good-bye to, and follow with many good wishes, a lad who has won, and kept to the last, the affection of us all. Threeboys came to me, and in a tone, of real sorrow inquired if Uroopa was not coming back. 'Uroopa, a nice boy, I plenty like Uroopa. He not come back?' and then he added, 'perhaps ship go again to Packsaddle?' Lucca no less earnestly expressed his regret at Uroopa's departure, and declared his hearty friendship towards him. But all that day somebody was missed on board the Allen Gardiner.
"Lucca's determination is to return to Keppel Island. Threeboys also, who contemplated residence in Tierra del Fuego, has requested leave to remain with us since the death of his father has been ascertained. Petitions to go to Keppel Island are daily urged. The Allen Gardiner could never carry all who would like to come. The difficulty is to make a selection. But I am desirous to take to our station for instruction one little fellow, a cousin of Threeboys, whose small confidences reposed in me have quite won my heart. He seems to pick up English by instinct; he has a twinkling eye and knowing look, but, above all, he is of a gentle and confiding nature, and most pliable age. When I am on shore, he is seldom far from me, and evidences his attachment by inviting me to sit down to a fungus repast with him. He is an orphan. In the late sickly season his father succumbed to the prevailing epidemic; the little boy, too, suffered from the sickness, as his attenuated limbs testify, but God has raised him up to be a monument perhaps of His highest mercies. To come to Keppel Island is his great desire. The people generally hold him in much affection, and will not let him go without the boy making plain his own wish on the subject. I go on one occasion into the woods, seeking a quiet place, apart from the crowd, to read for a short time. My young ally soon finds me out, and then seating himself as close as possible by my side, begins to talk. Looking into my face with a look that would fain penetrate my inmost thoughts, he asks if I will be his good friend? I assure him I will, and he with evident pleasure states that he will 'be with' me. (The 'be with' is, Mr Bridges tells me, equivalent to the same term, when we say that we throw in our lot with any one.) So I find there is at least one young heart in Tierra del Fuego, which confides in me, and wishes to join its lot to mine. Keppel Island then became a subject of conversation, and I soon found out what a diligent gleaner of news my companion was. He had stored his mind with the whole vocabulary of civilisation at our station, 'Keppel Island, horse, cow, sheep, goat, spoon, pannikin, pig, towel, soap, potatoes, turnips, &e.' When he carne to the pig I was greatly amused, for I had not seen one for a long time, and it seemed to me to be a new piece of information that I was picking up; but on the island, of course, there are pigs, and my intelligent friend was quite right. As he thoughtfully, and without tin: remotest suggestion from me, enumerated the various things belonging to the station, I was not a little surprised; for the boy is small enough to be seven years old only, although he may be more. I wish to take him, to Keppel Island. The children generally I encourage to approach me; and with the help of Three-boys as interpreter, who has marched at the head of a file of children to the old hut, which I had appointed as a schoolroom for the occasion, I form a class of scholars.
"On Friday, March 18, our visitors to Keppel Island were finally assorted. An assembly had the day before been made of those most desirous of going with us, and out of these I selected eight. Lucca and Threeboys are exclusive of this number. Okokko is now in possession of a house built for him.
"On Saturday nothing worthy of notice occurred. We visit Okokko in his new dwelling, and find him occupied in cooking fish for the family breakfast. He seemed in good spirits. Stores were left by us for his use during the next seven months, at the end of which period I expect to be with him again. Without some such supplies, both Okokko and his wife would be thrown back upon canoe life, to the neglect of the children, of the projected gardens, and all that concerns the future introduction of civilised manners. As it is, they will now have sufficient stores to enable them with care to pass the coining winter without suffering, while Okokko's time can be principally devoted to the preparation of ground for a garden, fencing it in, attending to his goats, improving his house, and covering it with bark, when the season for procuring bark arrives. Nevertheless, it will be quite necessary for him to depend to a large extent on fish, and mussels, and the edible fungi, to which the stores left with him are after all but supplementary.
"Sunday, the 20th, is a quiet day with us, the natives paying marked regard to our observance of it. In the afternoon many canoes leave the bay, and I go ashore to visit Okokko, who has not been present at our service in the ship. He could not well leave his house, he said, but he had had prayer at home. His prayer-book he took immediately from his pocket, and when he had sung, 'I will arise and go to my father,' I asked him to read the Collect for the day, which he did, and which formed a basis of my parting exhortation to him. As I was saying good-bye he asked me, in a simple, earnest manner, to pray for him when I was away.
"Our visit at Woollya closed on the morning of the 21st. We have been remarkably favoured by the weather; the natives, too, have been quiet and friendly in their conduct to us. We have had the satisfaction of interring the long-lost remains of our predecessors in the missionary work; we have, by word and act, endeavoured to set forth the mercies of God and the grace of Jesus Christ; we have been permitted to lay the foundations, as we hope, of a Christian civilisation in these hitherto savage parts; and, notwithstanding the apparently small beginning, we have, as our knowledge of the work to be done increases, an increasing hopefulness of its ultimate success."
It was a matter of encouragement that Okokko was not only in possession of a prayer-book in the phonetic character, but able to use it, and aware of its value. "Mr Stirling, will you pray for me?" were likewise encouraging words at this time, especially coming from the lips of one who, a few months before, had said, "God does not answer prayer now." The ship sailed with her party of natives for the mission station, and Okokko was left to stand his ground almost alone. How did he conduct himself? and did he seek at all to instruct his people? We give the following testimony. "Okokko," said one of the natives of Woollya, referring subsequently to this subject, "had often spoken to the people of God, of heaven, and hell, and what sort of people should live in them. His people being very proud, and bad, would not listen, and were sometimes veiy angry, and said Okokko told lies; that as they had never seen nor heard God, they would not believe him, and that man, and all things had ever been as they are, without beginning, and therefore without a Maker. One man pretended to be Jesus Christ. Some were afraid to be in hell, and wished to become quiet, as a requisite preparation for heaven: some threatened to kill Okokko, but were afraid to do so." During Okokko's stay on this occasion, and in his new circumstances, at Woollya, gardens were laid out and fenced in, and sown with potatoes and turnips. A serviceable bridge, across a neighbouring stream, indicated a desire to extend improvement, and the goats were carefully tended. The original flock of seven had in creased to upwards of twenty, A commencement had been made of civilisation; a witness for the truth had been planted in Tierra del Fuego. It was but a feeble beginning, what was to be its issue?
When the Allen Gardiner visited Woollya, in March 1865, it was found, to the great regret of all, that Okokko's house, and goats, and property, had been destroyed by fire. A fit of jealousy, and some pretence of the invasion of tribal rights in occupying the particular spot where the house and garden were established, had caused three natives, when Okokko and his friends were absent on a fishing expedition, to destroy all his property.
When Okokko came on board the Mission schooner he showed signs of great distress at what had happened, and especially lamented that in the conflagration he had lost his Bible and prayer-book. The genuineness of this regret there is no reason to doubt. He knew the difficulty of replacing them, as they were printed in the phonetic character, which alone he could read, and there were no similar copies at the station. The ordinary Roman type was to him utterly strange.
In consequence of this untoward event, it was determined that Okokko and his family should return once more to the mission station on Keppel Island, along with other natives, for further instruction, and with a view to prepare a better organised party for location in Tierra del Fuego. This was the more expedient, as the Allen Gardiner was about to return to England, with Mr Stirling on board, and it would, in all probability, be a considerable time before another visit to Woollya could be paid. To have left Okokko there with impoverished resources, and for a longer time than usual, would have been unwise. His determination to follow up a course of Christian civilisation, in his own country, was in no degree weakened by what had occurred. All he desired were the means to do it.
The Allen. Gardiner returned to the Falklands with the Fuegians on board in April, and, besides Okokko and his family, Lucca and Pinoiensee and their wives, and two other lads, Tirshof and Yesefwaenges were left at the mission station, under the care and instruction of Mr Bridges. Four others accompanied Mr Stirling to England, where they arrived in August 1865. Their names are Thrceboys, Uroopa, Jack, and Sisoy or Sisoyenges. Of these the first was for some months under the instruction of Mr Despard and Mr Phillips, having gone to Reppel with his father and Mr Allen Gardiner in 1858. Uroopa went there for the first time in 1863; and the other two boys first came under instruction in 1864.
On their arrival in England these four boys remained for a short time at Bristol, under careful superintendence; but during the present year they have been placed under the care of Mr Heather, at Clarborough, near Retford. They can read the English Testament tolerably, can write fairly in a copybook, can mend their clothes, can attend in cattle, and can farm and garden in a small way. They are very attentive and orderly in the family with whom they reside. They give indications of considerable moral power. They never pass a day without private prayer; and instances have occurred of their turning to prayer as their only resource when conscious of a fault. They have attended a Bible class, without showing any inferiority to the English boys who belong to the same class: but when clergymen, who are not constantly with them, question them on scriptural subjects the Fuegians do not readily understand the drift of the questions. The reason is obvious, and if the questioner were himself questioned in a language of which he had as imperfect a knowledge as the Fuegian boys have of English, he would at once appreciate the difficulty in which they are placed. It could easily, however, be shown that they understand more of what is said to them, or in their presence, than they can express in English. Our knowledge of their language being less than their knowledge of ours, it is difficult to say more with accuracy. But we insert the testimony of the Bishop of Cork, with respect to one of them, who was present at a public meeting in Cork, at which the bishop presided. The lad was asked to speak a few words in his own tongue, to sing a portion of a hymn, and to repeat the Lord's Prayer. It was in reference to this that the bishop, closed the meeting with the following remarks:--"My own conviction and persuasion is, that the most convincing address which I have heard, and the most persuasive address, and the address I shall longest remember, and the address I shall longest appreciate, was the address written upon the form and the face of the youth, and expressed in the tone of his voice; there was a softness and a sweetness in it, and a ring in it of the same quality as our own, and indicating that he is capable of attaining to our intellectuality, to our morality, our virtue. He can become, and such as he will become, an heir of God and joint-heir with Christ. I hope we shall take a deep interest in that country."
If we can thus look with satisfaction upon these youths now in England, there is likewise much to encourage us, if we look to what is going on, quietly and unobtrusively, on Keppel Island. The accounts from thence are, we think, very satisfactory, and the following portion of Mr Bridges' journal cannot fail to be read with great interest:--
"Evening prayers and Sunday afternoon instruction (in Fuegian) are regularly conducted and attended. I have gone through, since the ship's departure, the Gospels of St Matthew and St Mark, and have begun St Luke's. They were much interested in the miracles of Jesus, and in His death, resurrection, and ascension; and I have every reason to think that the lessons derived from these truths were not 'seed by the wayside' to these people. Okokko has asked many questions, and has shown great concern to be satisfied of the truth of the facts he hears stated, as though he felt their consequences. He should be particularly remembered at the Throne of Grace. This morning, after prayers, he asked me many questions, which show he takes a personal interest in what he hears. With an evident desire to do what is right, he asks me how he should act under such and such circumstances. He asked whether I were certain that Jesus rose from the dead, evidently considering this point, if established, a seal to the truth of all the rest that he had heard. He asked whether I was certain Jesus would return to the earth to make the good happy, and the wicked miserable. I unhesitatingly answered, 'Yes. He rose from the dead, on the third day of his death, and as He has said, He will most certainly return to judge the world.' He then asked whether if he repented, and asked Jesus to forgive him, and to be his friend, and save him, I was sure He would hear and grant it. I answered, 'Yes, certainly He will; that since He came into the world to die for us, and has pleased God in our stead by keeping His commandments, if we ask Him, He will most willingly grant us all we ask.' He appeared to receive heartily all I said, as of the greatest importance. He then asked me, if he should ask God to make him good, peaceable, and wise, whether He would surely hear him; and if a person should quarrel with him, how he should act. If his brother should be killed by a man how he should act. I answered these questions as I best could. He then asked me to tell Lucca, Pinoiensee, Threeboys, and Uroopa, to help him to leach his people, who, if only he taught them the truths he has learnt, would despise what he said, and despise him, as they did before.
"Friday, Jan. 12, 1866.--He frankly acknowledged he had a bad temper, being passionate, and he lamented that he quarrelled so much with the other natives, and he wished to be reconciled to Tirshof, and asked him to forgive him for some quarrel he had needlessly with him some time since. This may give you sonic idea of his state, and doubtless with me you will say, and rejoice, that this man is not far from the kingdom of heaven. He asked me to write out some prayers for him in his own language, that he might use them. He prays to God generally every evening, and often of mornings. I am much more satisfied with his character than I was, and think him much more capable to hold his ground among his people than he was.
"Thursday, Jan. 25.--After evening prayers I spoke to the natives, to induce them to live in love with one another. I told them plainly that if we forgive not men their trespasses neither will our heavenly Father forgive us our trespasses. I showed them that heaven was a place where all is love, and we must here become fit by the renewing of our hearts by the Holy Spirit, else we could never enter therein. Okokko and Lucca being at variance, I asked Okokko to tell us what he had said or done to raise this quarrel? He then frankly told us. He said he was made angry in the morning by finding ashes emptied on the path, and he spoke loudly to his wife, (with intention for his next door neighbour to hear,) asking her who had done it. He then accosted Lucca. Lucca explained how it happened, but did not offer to take them up again. They then had angry words together. I told them how sad it was to me, and to all who loved them, to see and hear how ready they are to dispute. I showed them that they never could be happy, good, and prosperous, if they did not learn to forgive and love one another. We then prayed together."
Let us sum up the results of the work in Tierra del Fuego. First, a wholly new, difficult, and barbarous language has been to a great extent acquired and reduced to writing, and inlaid with words containing Christian truth. It is thus rendered capable of use as a means of daily instruction at the mission station for the natives who speak it. Secondly, the minds and hearts of several of these natives have been brought under the influence of Christian doctrine and practice. Thirdly, they have acquired habits of industry, and learned the value of agriculture. Fourthly, there are natives anxious to reproduce what they have learned amongst their countrymen in their own land. In these things surely we may find great encouragement. We look forward hopefully and confidently to a Christian Church being formed in Tierra del Fuego itself. That the Lord will bless the work of His servants we cannot doubt. There will be a monument of grace in those far-off islands of the sea, and a glorious memorial of the faith and patience, the fortitude and peace, which distinguished the noble Gardiner and his companions who perished there.
While this book is passing through the press, the Allen Gardiner is again advertised to sail for the Falklands. The four Fuegian youths, who have, we think, benefited much during their stay in England, and have gained many friends through their consistent conduct, return in her to the mission station on Keppel Island.