Page images




little gardens in any convenient spot in the Falk- of a wild bull or cow-rather grim landmarks in a land Islands. I therefore determined to seek out a wild solitude. One of these strongly excited my locality adapted to so well-intentioned a purpose. attention. It lay in a pass over a small boggy riv

At half-past ten in the forenoon, I manned the ulet at the bottom of a deep ravine. Here the poor dingy with four boys, and pulled along the shore, brute must have stuck in trying to cross ; the surfrequently landing as a favorable place seemed to rounding earth was torn up, and the vegetation present itself, each of which, however, on examina- | destroyed as if by hoofs and horns. I was inclined tion, proved impracticable. At length we arrived to suspect that this might have been done by wild at a little creek, about forty yards wide, running cattle, in horror at the terrible death of their felinland. Up this we went, following the windings low, who must have perished of starvation; his of the stream about a mile, when they terminated head was stretched out as in the act of bellowing. in a small rivulet running from a lake situated at a While “moralizing this spectacle,” I quite forgot short distance. Leaving the boat in charge of three the purpose for which I landed ; and was only of my young crew, I landed with the fourth boy, roused from my brown study, and warned of my and walked to the wild and sequestered mere, which distance from the boat, by the sudden trumpeting presented a sight to charm the eye of a sportsman. of wild bulls. I felt convinced we were chased. The extent of the water-barely two acres—was Hoping to get back in a direct line, we ascended thickly dotted with birds. Two majestic swans, the side of the ravine, and made for a hill, on the with ebony necks issuing from snowy bodies, floated, summit of which was a little rock which, luckily with an air of haughty patronage, among innumer- for us, was scalable only by bipeds. On gaining able geese, ducks, teal, and divers; but, to my great the base of this position, impregnable to quadrupeds. amazement, the feathered crowd, instead of appear- I climbed up, closely followed by my boy, who had ing the least alarmed and skurrying off, drew hardly got a footing on the top, when we descried towards us ; unlike their civilized brethren, they five huge brutes who closed in our little fortalice, were ignorant of the treachery of man.

and declared war by furiously tearing up the ground. I sat down on the brink of the lake, wondering With all convenient speed I drew from my gun whether, on my return, I should be able to convince the charges of small shot, and loaded with ball ; people of the truth of that which I then beheld. but alas! not expecting a fight, I had only four Except the swans, the whole assembly of fowl ap- bullets ; and considering those not quite sufficient proached gradually until some hundreds were within to physic five full-grown bulls, I determined to lay twenty yards of me. A chorus then arose from them by for a last resource, and await the chapter them, as if with one accord they inquired my busi- of accidents; knowing full well that, should we ness there, and sought to know in a friendly way not return by a certain time, a party would be sent why I disturbed their privacy. I may here remark to our assistance, who would soon deliver us by that the sounds they utter in a wild state are totally raising the siege. To beguile the time, I struck a different from their notes when domesticated, and I light for my cigar, and, reclining at my ease, exshould not have recognized the species by the ear pected the brutes would take themselves off. But alone. The entire congregation appeared to be so no such thing ; they did not even graze, but tame and unsuspecting, that, reluctant to make my watched the rock as a cat would watch a mousepresence shunned by dealing death among them, I trap. I could not help laughing to see my little contented myself (although my double-barrel, loaded companion every now and then lift up his head, with No. 6, was lying across my knees) with tak- reconnoitre tho enemy, and extend his fingers from ing the seal-club from my boy's hand, and shying his nose according to the elegant method now in it among the birds.

vogue of “ taking a sight.” This had an effect contrary to what I expected ; We remained thus blockaded about three hours, for, instead of being alarmed, they gathered, as if when suddenly came on a furious squall of snow with curiosity, round the missile, and pecked at it. and sleet, which completely enveloped us all in Never was so glorious an opportunity of making an the clouds. This being too good an opportunity immortal shot! But again my humanity struggled to be lost, we swiftly and silently evacuated our with my love of sport; I could not kill the poor, position, and ran at least a mile without stopping, confiding creatures, who placed themselves almost after which a rough walk of an hour and a half within my grasp. At this moment a more legiti- brought us down to the boat. I resolved that, in mate opportunity offered ; a flock of teal flew over future land excursions, I would carry more bullets. my head from another place. Mechanically my gun In the afternoon of the following day I again jumped to my shoulder, and before I was aware of landed, having our purser for my companion. it, both barrels had done their work ; five birds fell While rounding an angle in the island, I saw, from the discharge of the first, and four from that spread out fast asleep, a hair seal of about seven of the second. For a few minutes, the flutter and feet in length. Being anxious to observe the confusion that followed on the lake was indescriba- movements of one of these creatures, I halted, and ble; but quiet was soon restored, except that every quietly watched him. My friend had also seen now and then were heard little bursts of rapid chat- the animal from another point of view, and, being tering, as if excited by wonder.

armed with a boarding-pike, had stealthily apBagging my teal, I resumed my quest of a site proached him. The assailant, brandishing his for a garden, passing more than once the skeleton weapon, had so earnest an expression of counte

[ocr errors]


but on

nance, and seemed inspired by so knightly a deter-| powerfully on one or two occasions, as to prevent mination, (as though a new St. George was about the individuals in question from venturing on the to attack a new dragon,) that I could not refrain main land. This peculiar terror on the part of from bursting into a lond laugh. This roused the men of high courage, must, I imagine, have arisen seal, who, slowly raising his head, gazed round from early impressions made in childhood, similar about with sleepy eyes. The next moment, the to the dread some persons have of being alone in purser's pike was stu with right good will into a dark place. the beast's hind-quarters, on which he scuttled into While considering how best we might attack the water, followed by his persecutor, who, in his the brute, a herd of about forty or fifty was sudexcitement, tumbled after him (repeating his digs) denly exposed to our view. Starting La Porte at into the water; whence, what with my excessive them, and enjoining my brave young companion laughter, and the thick kelp, I had some difficulty to keep close to me, we ran full speed towards the in extracting him. Thus ended our exploration animals, the whole of which seemed panic-stricken, for the day. In the thoroughly soaked condition and scoured off. One bull took a direction across of my friend, a speedy return to the ship was my path, at a distance of about fifty yards. I necessary.

levelled my rifle at his fore shoulder, and heard As, about this period, we had not much expe- (immediately after its sharp crack) the dull sound rience in combating wild cattle, we deemed two of the bullet striking him. This enraged the anipersons with guns quite sufficient to attack one mal, when, turning his head at me, on he came at beast. When, however, we had gained a little speed, with tail high above his back. In a momore knowledge, we became cautious, and gen- ment I had changed guns, and, with my left knee erally look with us three or four men well armed. on the ground, waited his approach. La Porte Our first irrational valor arose from ambition of the did all a dog could do to divert his course ; honor of vanquishing a bull single-handed—an me the bull had fixed his eye, and nothing could exploit attempted by Captain Sulivan and myself ; shake his purpose. I must confess I felt as if I after which, being satisfied with our experiment, should have been much safer anywhere else; but we were in no hurry to repeat it.

it was too late to think of that. The animal was One morning early the surveying party landed, within twenty yards when my first barrel opened and were soon lost in the windings of the creeks. on him. The ball entered his forehead, but not About two hours after their departure I ascended, sufficiently deep to cause instantaneous death, or with my spy-glass, to our mast-head, for the pur-even to disable him for the moment. Regardless pose of getting a better view, and could see the of pain, he still galloped forward, when, at ten party on a distant hill building a mark. In a yards, my remaining barrel pierced his left eye. short time I observed them pointing their glass Mad, and half blinded, he now swerved from me very earnestly in the direction of a particular spot, and rushed headlong on my boy, whom, without much nearer the vessel ; towards which, having attempting to toss, he knocked down, trampled on, finished the mark, and put a pole on its summit, and passed over. Before he could turn, La Porte they started at a rapid pace. I conjectured that had him by the nose, and for a few seconds held the object of their anxiety must be a herd of cattle. him ; but he soon threw the dog off, and came Immediately arming myself with my usual weapons, upon us streaming with blood. During the next I pressed into the service my dog La Porte, to-two or three minutes we exerted every nerve and gether with a brave boy of the name of Popham, muscle to keep clear of his repeated, though weakwho afterwards always carried my second gun, ened, charges, and only succeeded by La Porte's and who never once flinched from putting it into powerful assistance, who, when we were nearly my hand at the proper moment. Knowing, from caught, sprang upon him like a tiger. the nature of the ground, that I should stand a At length the bull appeared to stagger slightly, much better chance of getting near the animals and the dog pinned him. Drawing my huntingthan was possessed by the surveyors, who must knife—which, by the bye, I could shave with—I cross one or two creeks, and approach their prey ran up, and was in the act of hamstringing him, from an open plain, I landed, and marched in a when once more he threw off the dog and bounded direct line to the place denoteil. After progress- at me. While making the third bound, (and when ing about two miles, we observed, just over the I fancied I could feel his hot breath, he was so crest of a hillock, a black ridge or eminence, like close,) the tendon having been severed, the remaina bush or small rock, which suddenly started into ing cartilages of the leg gave way, and, with a life, developing a huge head and pair of horns. loud bellow, he was stretched on the earth. The It was a bull, grazing, and a magnificent creature next moment, my knife was sticking in his heart. he appeared to be. These wild fellows are very After a little time we cut his throat and examined different from their species in a tame state. I his wounds, each of which was mortal. He was cannot more fitly describe them than by saying of the low-quartered breed, but young.

One of they have a terrible aspect ; so much so, that some the surveying party, who afterwards came up, proof our men, and one officer, although as brave and nounced him to be only three years old. careless of their personal safety as any could be, We now collected our hats, guns, &c., which were never able to get over their dread of the gor- had been scattered around, and were beginning to gon-like visages of these beasts, which operated sol compose ourselves, when, to our infinite discomfort,



for us.

[ocr errors]


two more bulls appeared over the rising ground, A few evenings after this, having surveyed the with tails up, (a sign of mischief,) and making direct upper part of the harbor, we dropped down to

My first impulse was to 'oad, and be pre- wards the entrance and moored abreast of a narrow pared to receive our pursuers; but in the heat of lussock islet. On examining this the next day, the last battle I had dropped my powder-flask. we discovered traces of pigs; and an officer having Nothing therefore remained wherewith to defend caught sight of one wandering along the beach ourselves but our knives, which we clutched des- “at his own sweet will,” (an enjoyment seldom perately, taking up a position behind the carcass permitted to pigs,) punished the vagabond by knockof our former antagonist. The brutes advanced ing him over in fine style at a distance of sixty furiously ; flight would have been impossible; we yards, with no better weapon than a short ship's deemed our case hopeless. At the moment when musket. This exploit set us all agog for porkthe bulls were within two hundred yards of us, we a delicacy which we esteemed the more, as relievwere unexpectedly cheered by a loud shout, and, ing us from the toujours bæuf. Being thus haunted with delight inappreciable by any one who has not with delectable visions of griskins, spare-ribs, been in a similar predicament, we saw all the sur-chines, black-puddings, sausages, &c., we planned, veyors hastening to our assistance, some with guns, in our enthusiasm, an attack on the swine. To others with boats' stretchers, and one with a very secure such a culinary luxury was an affair of suspicious instrument, which looked marvellously serious importance, and we set about it seriously like a theodolite-stand. This timely diversion had in the following manner ; viz., first, a man with the desired effect. The bulls stopped short, and, a boat's flag stuck on a boat-hook marched down our allies giving a shout, turned tail and fled. the centre of the tussock ; and though he himself

We now cut up the carcass of the bull I had was invisible in consequence of the great height slain, carried the joints down to the boat, and then of the leaves, his banner flaunted gayly above, and proceeded to prepare lunch. Four men were em- was plainly visible to all. Every now and then he ployed to collect“ diddledee ;'** one was sent with sounded a little hunting-horn, which was responded my rifle to procure a couple of geese, and another to by hearty cheers from six men on either side, inwas employed in lighting a fire. In a very short spired by love of pigmeat, and armed with boardtime a heap of fuel was fiercely blazing, and a ing-pikes, who were so spread out as to take up couple of geese lying beside it. Our cookery nearly the whole breadth of the island, thrashing was not very elaborate : the man whom we de- and hallooing with all their might. About two puted to officiate cut off the heads of the birds, hundred yards in advance stood myself, rifle in pulled out the long wing-feathers, and rolling up hand, backed by my boy with another gun; and the bodies in a heap of diddledee," committed on each side of me, at about eighty yards, were them to the flames. In about twenty minutes the two of our best shots. “ The deuce is in it,” geese were thoroughly roasted, and unceremoni- thought I, exultingly, “ if we shan't revel in the ously kicked out of the fire. Thus dressed, they pork now, both fresh and to pickle.” It was an looked exactly like two balls of cinder: this dirty invigorating anticipation. On came the heaters appearance, however, vanished on skinning them, with shouts of expected triumph. They were when they were as white as, and seemed much formed, like the Spanish Armada, in a half-moon, more delicate than, their tame brethren with all the horns rather in advance; but, also like that the sophisticated treatment of a scientific cook. redoubtable armament, our present enterprise ended The insides were not disturbed during the process in a ludicrous failure. The pigs were so stupid of roasting, or rather burning, in order to prevent (poor, wild, benighted creatures !) that they would the juices of the flesh from being dried up. These not come to be killed and cooked. Our exquisite birds, together with a few beefsteaks from the generalship was thrown away: we bagged only beast just killed, made (considering we were in the one little boar, and even that exploit was owing wilderness) a most sumptuous luncheon, salt and not to human but to canine agency. La Porte had biscuit being always carried with us. After our seized the straggler firmly by the back, and held repast we lighted our cigars, and being still further him there, squeaking terribly, till we came up and animated by a potent glass of grog,

captured him alive. But though we could not

achieve a success adequate to our gallant preparaFought all our battles o'er again, And thrice we routed all our foes, and ihrice we slew the tion and array of force, we consoled ourselves in slain.

the reflection that we had “ done more-deserved I am sure we enjoyed our entertainment in these it." primeval solitudes with greater zest than could During our pig-hunt we were tantalized every have been felt in nine tenths of the sumptuous pic- moment by a clownish penguin, which would first nics at Richmond or elsewhere—always excepting pop out his head to survey us, and then stalk close the irresistible charm of ladies' eyes, of which, by with grave and silent contempt. He evidently alas! we were destitute. After spending a rea

saw that the swine would outwit us, and particisonable time in this wild pleasure, I returned to pated in the triumph of the quadrupeds. the vessel, and the surveyors resumed their work. At length, a desperate rustling gave notice that

something large was at hand ; and immediately * A small shrub, of so inflammable a nature that it will after, to our ininite disappointment, for we had burn fiercely even when soaked in water. The above Aame is given to it by the sailors.

calculated on the advent of a good fat hog, out

[ocr errors]

waddled , sea-lion. The beast's huge logger-head | I used almost to laugh at one of the orders given was harus visible, when it formed a target for our by Captain Sulivan, that no one belonging to the guns, of all which the contents crashed into his vessel should be allowed to go on shore without a skull nearly at the same moment. Down he dropped companion ; an order which I understand was rige immediately, and only showed that life remained idly enforced by Captain Fitzroy whilst in comby writhing for a few minutes.

mand of the Beagle, which was only once broken, On one of our excursions ashore, the following and then ended fatally. I am now convinced that singular circumstance occurred. I have read in it is a very necessary precaution, and, if strictly medical and other works instances of a similar acted on in all uninhabited or unknown countries, nature-never witnessed one before.

We had would be the means of saving many valuable lives. breakfasted early and hastily one morning, in order Two or three instances have lately occurred of perto have a long day before us, and at seven o'clock sons going out to shoot in health and spirits, landed for beef. Having walked three hours, we and being found dead the following morning. Exwounded and, after a running skirmish of two haustion, and exposure to the weather, have, in miles, killed a fine cow. This was very fatiguing most cases, produced these melancholy results ; work. We then rested a short time, and began 10 but with common prudence and a companion there retrace our steps towards the shore, in doing which is little or nothing to fear, especially if one is we shot a calf, thus adding considerably to our well armed-a practice which I earnestly recomload. As I had only five persons with me, I did mend to all persons who are desirous to return not take the usual precautions for keeping my home with a whole skin. party together; and, on stopping to rest, I found As I was a passable shot, and an untiring pedesthat a portly marine was missing. Taking the trian, I was invited by Captain Sulivan to accomleast tired of my men, I went back some distance pany him to the top of Mount Pleasant, a hill about to look for the absentee ; and having paced two eight miles distant from our anchorage. The mornweary miles, was nearly giving up the search, ing of November 30th being beautiful and calm, when we observed a flock of caranchos poised we determined to set out, and accordingly started nearly motionless in the air. My companions after an early breakfast, having two men with us shrewdly judged that the birds were balancing to carry our instruments, &c. For the first half themselves over our lost one; and, on going up to mile we amused ourselves very well with shooting the place, I found his suspicions correct. The snipe, &c.; but we were speedily warned by the marine was lying on his face as if fast asleep, bellowings all round us that we should keep more while a couple of caranchos sat watching him on our guard, which we instantly obeyed, by loadwithin two feet of his head. Thinking this was ing our guns with ball and keeping close together. only a lazy fit, and being tired and angry, I Thus prepared, we advanced about a mile further, brought the whole weight of my rifle down on a when four bulls drew out of a herd, and manifested well-covered part of his frame, causing, to my sur- symptoms of resenting our invasion of their terriprise, only a deep groan; and we ascertained that the tory. Not liking the look of the enemy, we slunk fat lout had lost all power of movement, and could back a short distance, and made a détour of nearly not even lift his arm. We were, therefore, under two miles to get clear. La Porte, however, sudthe necessity of carrying his heavy body back to denly dashed away, and for nearly twenty minutes our party, who were then at least six miles from was lost to us—much to our vexation, as he was the beach. On our arrival there, we tried to re- a most puissant ally. Our pleasure, therefore, cover him ; but, as he did not appear to mend, we was proportionately great when we perceived him were obliged by turns to carry him the whole way driving towards us a little calf, baa-ing most pit—and weary work it was. We did not get in sight iably. The moment he was near enough, La of the vessel till past seven o'clock in the even- Porte seized the animal's nose, and held it until ing. The people on board, feeling rather alarmed we came up. Our first impulse was to let the at our protracted absence, luckily kept a good look poor thing go; but the dog, in his anxiety to out, and a boat was on shore nearly as soon as we secure his prey, had broken the upper jaw, and arrived on the beach.

we therefore put an end to the creature's sufferings Having seen the patient, our doctor said that by killing it, marking the spot, that we might pick nothing but food would restore him; an opinion it up on our return. borne out by the fact, inasmuch as the man was as After this, we marched on through the wilderwell as ever after a good meal. His total pros- ness, still in battle array, and dispersed a small tration up to this time forcibly impressed me, as he herd, out of which the dog captured another calf, was a young and powerfully built man. I after- but which, being uninjured, we let go again. At wards learned that this was not a very uncommon length we came to the bank of a large lake, whose case, when violent and long-continued exercise was wide unruffled gleam, quietly reflectiog the sky, combined with an empty stomach. Had the man made the solitude look more solitary. Through been left all night in the wilderness, he would, in this sheet of water we in vain attempted to wade, all probability, have died. As it was, we lost, and were finally compelled to walk round its shore through the marine's illness, our calf and the -a great addition to the fatigue of our journey, prime parts of the cow which we intended to carry which, though in a straight line not more than on board. When first we arrived at the Falklands eight miles, amounted, by these necessary devia

[ocr errors]


tions, to thirteen or fourteen, and principally among to a great height, until dissipated by the upper curlong, soft, springy grass eighteen inches high. rents of air.) No sooner was this seen, than it

About one o'clock at noon we reached the base was responded to by a dozen diminutive objects, of the mount, and sat down beside a streamlet descried through our glasses, climbing up the rigwinding along the bottom. After recovering a ging like ants. A moment after, a small speck of little from our fatigue, we commenced our ascent, white became visible, which announced to us the and crossed once or twice a long line of those fall of the topsail. As the second-hand of Captain stones mentioned with much surprise by every Sulivan's chronometer reached the five minutes, a traveller in this region. Some were so large that thin puff of smoke appeared to spurt out of the we could not have got on them without the help of vessel's side. All was now attention to catch the a ladder. But what struck me most was, that sound; but we were too far off. when half-way up, we could hear, on listening During the time we remained up here, not a intently, a stream rapidly running, and by the single noise disturbed the death-like silence, neideadened noise, evidently some feet below the sur-ther was the solitude invaded by any other living face. Half an hour's more toil brought us to the object than ourselves, excepting that a huge eagle top of the mount; but here our progress was alighted to plume himself on a pinnacle within arrested by a perpendicular wall of rock running twelve yards of the theodolite. to the height of nearly three hundred feet. After After descending with some trouble, we picked a long search, we found a practicable breach, and up our guns, &c., and commenced our return. leaving our guns and other heavy articles behind, The homeward journey was a painful one ; we scrambled up as well as we could—no easy our two men, not being accustomed to such long matter, both from the nature of the rock and the walks, were knocked up, and the wild cattle, as incumbrance of the theodolite stand which we though they knew we were fatigued, were bolder intended to erect so as to take a round of angles and fiercer than in the morning. One beast chased from the very summit. At length we gained the us to the edge of a morass, in which we were glad apex, but so sharp was it that we could not fix the to take refuge. Finding from the nature of the stand, and were obliged, cross-legged, to drag our ground that he could not get at us, he worked selves over a short ridge to a better place. This himself up into a state of madness, which was not at was rather nervous work, for my left leg hung all allayed by a couple of ounces of lead which we over the perpendicular wall as completely at right sent into his body. Not wishing to be benighted, angles with the surface of the earth as if it had we hastened on, and having found the calf we had been built with a plumb-line.

killed in the morning, got safely on board at seven Here we had room to fix the stand, preparatory o'clock to a capital dinner, of which the only fault to making the “ observations.'

We had now a was a total absence of vegetables. bird's-eye view of nearly the whole of the south- A succession of heavy south-west gales, with ern part of the east island from the range of snow and sleet, put a stop, during five days, to all Wickham Heights. The prospect was grand on out-of-door work. In the evenings we were much account of its extent, though I could not have at a loss how to find amusement, as all the books imagined anything so apparently barren and com- in the ship had been read and re-read dozens of fortless ; the grass seemed everywhere brown and times. I hardly know how we should have diverted parched, and innumerable lakes of all forms and the tædium vitæ, had I not, before leaving England, sizes gave, with their wan gleam, a melancholy luckily provided myself with several single-sticks effect to the view. I tried several times, without and hilts from my esteemed friend Mr. H. Angelo, success, to count the cattle in sight; but, after of whom I am proud to acknowledge myself a repeated attempts, gave up the endeavor. The pupil; and whose skill in the art of offence and temperature was bitterly cold, although a dead defence in the use of the broadsword is above that calm; and large icicles were hanging in various of any other professor I ever met with. Our peofantastic shapes from all the overhanging points of ple took great delight in this exercise ; and, by rock.

imparting the knowledge I had acquired under Mr. Before leaving the vessel, we had made arrange- Angelo, I so trained my men, that I flatter myself ments with Mr. Bodie (the master) that we should few of H. M. ships could have turned out a crew announce our arrival on the summit of the rock by equal to the Arrow's ship's company in expertlighting a fire, the smoke of which would direct ness with that thoroughly English weapon, the him to let fall the topsail, and to fire a gun, exactly broadsword. five minutes after (to a second.) By this sound We were now beset by a succession of heavy we expected to get the distance. Collecting what gales. I only landed once, and that was abreast material we could for ignition, and having settled the vessel for an hour or two. With the assistance ourselves in comfortable positions to watch with of the crew I managed to haul our little dingy over

I our Dollonds, the word was given to light the fire. a small bank, and launch her again in a fresh

moment a small column of smoke slowly water lake, where in a very short time we bagged ascended. (We afterwards heard that the effect, upwards of sixty teal, and double the number of as seen from the vessel, was beautiful; the vapor various other birds not mentioned in the gamebeing visible to the naked eye, and ascending like list.

tiny thread from the very peak of the mountain On Sunday, the 10th of December, the gale

In a

« PreviousContinue »