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TERRA DEL FUEGO.
ORANGE HARBOUR is on the western side of Nassau Bay, separated and protected from it by Burnt Island. It is nearly land-locked, and is the safest harbour on the coast. The hills on each side, after several undulations, rise into conical peaks, and the naked rock is every where broken into a jagged outline, with no creeping plants to soften or take off its harshness. Every thing has a bleak and wintry appearance, and is in excellent keeping with the climate ; yet the scenery about it is pleasing to the eye, bounded on all sides by undulating hills, which are covered with evergreen foliage. Distant mountains, some of which are capped with snow, shooting up in a variety of forms, seen beyond the extensive bays, form a fine background. From the vessels, the hills look like smooth downs, and if it were not for the inclemency and fitfulness of the weather, they might be contemplated with some pleasure.
The hills are covered with dense forests of beech, birch, willow, and winter-bark. Some of the former trees are forty or fifty feet high, having all their tops bent to the northeast by the prevailing southwest winds. They are remarkably even as to height, having more the look, at a distance, of heath, than of forest trees.
The whole coast has the appearance of being of recent volcanic rocks, but all our investigations tended to prove the contrary. We nowhere found any cellular lava, pumice, or obsidian, nor was there any granite, or other primitive rock seen, though reported by Captain King as existing. The rock was trachytic, or of trap formation, apparently having undergone more or less action by fire.
Immediately on our arrival at Orange Harbour, active preparations were made for a short cruise to the Antarctic. Although the season
was late, I at least anticipated getting some experience among the ice; and I supposed that the lateness of the season would have allowed it to detach itself from the shores of Palmer's Land, and would permit as near an approach as possible to its main body or barrier, in the vicinity of Cook's Ne Plus Ultra.
Agreeably to my instructions, such disposition was made of the squadron as seemed best calculated to obtain the necessary results in the different departments. Captain Hudson, with the Peacock, and the Flying-Fish, under Lieutenant Walker, as a tender, were ordered to the westward, as far as the Ne Plus Ultra of Cook. I went in the Porpoise, Lieutenant-Commandant Ringgold, accompanied by the SeaGull, Lieutenant Johnson, to pass to the south, for the purpose if possible of exploring the southeast side of Palmer's Land, or, should an opportunity offer, of proceeding further south. The Relief, LieutenantCommandant Long, was ordered into the Straits of Magellan, through the Brecknock Passage and Cockburn's Sound, with part of the gentlemen of the scientific corps, in order to enlarge our field of operations. Mr. Peale volunteered to go south in the Peacock.
The Vincennes was safely moored in Orange Harbour, and left under the charge of Lieutenant Craven, to carry on the investigations, surveys, &c. &c. Messrs. Couthouy and Drayton, of the scientific corps, remained in the Vincennes. Lieutenant Carr was put in charge of the observatory.
In making the changes necessary for this cruise to the south, I regretted extremely being compelled, from the want of junior officers, to supersede temporarily both Passed Midshipmen Reid and Knox in command of the two tenders. These officers had not their superiors in the squadron for the situations they occupied; but the duty I owed the Expedition and country compelled me to do it, and also to refuse their application to be transferred from the tenders, for I was well satisfied, as long as they were on board, the vessels would be well taken care of. I had a very high opinion of Mr. Reid, from the experience I had had of him; and as respects Mr. Knox, I feel it my duty here to acknowledge how much the Expedition is indebted to him for nis services on board the Flying-Fish. He not only had the ability, but the necessary perseverance and ambition, to perform his duties well. So arduous were they, that I was for a time obliged to transfer him to my ship on account of his health. The moment his health permitted it, he was again put in command of the Flying-Fish, to the great advantage of the service. In according thus much to his industry, ability, and zeal, I am well satisfied that I but speak the opinion of every officer in the squadron.
The vessels were well supplied with fuel, provisions, and various antiscorbutics, for ten months. A spot for the observatory was fixed upon, and orders left for the duties to be performed during the absence of the squadron.*
The 22d of February was duly celebrated by the hoisting of flags, but we had not time to make a holiday of it.
During our stay, we had at various times, visits from the natives. They were all at first very shy, but after they found our friendly disposition towards them, they became more sociable and confiding.
Before our departure from Orange Harbour, a bark canoe came alongside with an Indian, his squaw, and four children. The tribe to which they belonged is known by the name of the Petcherai Indians. They were entirely naked, with the exception of a small piece of sealskin, only sufficient to cover one shoulder, and which is generally worn on the side from which the wind blows, affording them some little shelter against its piercing influence.
They were not more than five feet high, of a light copper colour, which is much concealed by smut and dirt, particularly on their faces, which they mark vertically with charcoal. They have short faces, narrow foreheads, and high cheek-bones. Their eyes are small and
* The instructions issued for the proceedings of the vessels will be found embraced in the Appendix, from XXV. to XXX. inclusive. VOL. I. L
usually black, the upper eyelids in the inner corner overlapping the under one, and bear a strong resemblance to those of the Chinese. Their nose is broad and flat, with wide-spread nostrils, mouth large, teeth white, large, and regular. The hair is long, lank, and black, hanging over the face, and is covered with white ashes, which gives them a hideous appearance. The whole face is compressed. Their bodies are remarkable from the great developement of the chest, shoulders, and vertebral column; their arms are long, and out of proportion; their legs small and ill made. There is in fact little difference between the size of the ankle and leg; and when standing, the skin at the knee hangs in a large loose fold. In some, the muscles of the leg appear almost wanting, and possess very little strength. This want of developement in the muscles of the legs is owing to their constant sitting posture, both in their huts and canoes. Their skin is sensibly colder than ours. It is impossible to fancy any thing in human nature more
NATIVE OF TERRA DEL FUEGO.
filthy. They are an ill-shapen and ugly race.* They have little or no idea of the relative value of articles, even of those that one would suppose were of the utmost use to them, such as iron and glass-ware. A glass bottle broken into pieces, is valued as much as a knife. Red
For their dimensions, see Table of Comparative Proportions, at the end of the work.
flannel, torn into stripes, pleases them more than in the piece; they wound it around their heads, as a kind of turban, and it was amusing to see their satisfaction at this small acquisition.
The children were quite small, and nestled in the bottom of the canoe on some dry grass. The woman and eldest boy paddled the canoe, the man being employed to bail out the water and attend to the fire, which is always carried in the bottom of the canoe, on a few stones and ashes, which the water surrounds.
Their canoes are constructed of bark, are very frail, and sewed with shreds of whalebone, sealskin, and twigs. They are sharp at both ends, and are kept in shape as well as strengthened by a number of stretchers lashed to the gunwale.
These Indians seldom venture outside the kelp, by the aid of which they pull themselves along; and their paddles are so small as to be of little use in propelling their canoes, unless it is calm. Some of the officers thought they recognised a party on the Hermit Islands that had been on board ship at Orange Harbour. If this was the case, they must have ventured across the Bay of Nassau, a distance of some ten or twelve miles. This, if correct, would go to prove that there is more intercourse among them than their frail barks would lead one to expect.
Their huts are generally found built close to the shore, at the head of some small bay, in a secluded spot, and sheltered from the prevailing winds. They are built of boughs or small trees, stuck in the earth,