Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

When discovered by strangers, the instant impulse of a Fuegian is, to run off into the woods with the children and property; and if nothing hostile is attempted by the intruders, the men gradually return, cautiously making signs, waving skins, rubbing and patting their bellies, and shouting; and if all goes on quietly, the women return whith the children, leaving the property in the woods until wanted for barter. They have hasty tempers, and revengeful dispositions, and ought never to be trusted. They show much hardiness and daring, being always ready to defend their own property, or resent any illtreatment; and they are enterprising thieves.

There is no superiority among them, except that gradually acquired by age, sagacity, and daring conduct; but the “ doctor wizards,” as among the Patagonians, have much influence. These being always concerned in every mischief, to be troublesome as a Fuegian doctor, became a saying among the English party.

Hostilities are usually carried on with slings and stones, with which they are exceedingly expert. They use also spears, bows and arrows, stones in the hand, and clubs. Their bodily strength is very great; and like wild beasts, they seem to have no comprehension of numbers, as they will, single-handed, defy a whole boat's crew, and attempt to kill them.

The word of an old man is never disputed. Any thing, in their opinion, said or done wrong, is believed by them to occasion bad weather or other evil. The Fuegians are supposed to bury their dead similarly to the Patagonians in some instances, and in others, to wrap the body in skins, and deposit it far back in the woods, covering it with branches. They marry young: they allow children to possess property, and consult their little whims and wishes in its disposal.

There seems to be no doubt that the Fuegians eat human flesli upon particular occasions,-namely, when excited by revenge, or extremely pressed for hunger. Almost always at war with adjoining tribes, they seldom meet but a hostile encounter is the result; when those that are vanquished and taken, if not already dead, are killed and eaten by the conquerors. The arms and breast are eaten by the women; the men eat the legs; and the trunk is thrown into the sea. In times of famine, during a severe winter, they lay violent hands on the oldest woman of the party, hold her head over a thick smoke, made by burning green wood, and pinching her throat, choke her. They then devour every particle of the flesh, not excepting the trunk, as in the former cases.

The usual food of the Fuegians is shell-fish, guanaco-meat, birds, eggs, and in fact every thing that is edible, both roasted and raw. Seals and porpoises are much valued, both for the flesh and oil. Pen. guins are much prized; as is also the otter, the body of which they throw away, excepting in famine. The fins of a dead whale are esteemed; but if other food is to be had, they do not eat the blubber. Their manner of catching fish is by a baited line, without a hook, enticing them to the surface of the water, suddenly seizing them with the hand, or if the bait is swallowed, jerking them out of the water before they can disengage themselves.

Of vegetable food they have very little-a few berries, cranberries, and those which grow on the arbutus, and a kind of fungus, of a bright yellow colour, about the size of a small apple which adheres in vast numbers to the bark of the beech-trees. Mr. Darwin particularly describes it in his volume. The only drink of the Fuegians is pure water.

They are very fond of swimming; the women dive for sea-eggs in winter as well as summer. Directly they leave the water, they run to the fire, and rub their bodies with oil or grease, and ochreous earth, to keep out the cold, swinging between trees on ropes, made of strips of sealskin, is a favourite amusement. With similar ropes the men are lowered over steep cliffs in search of eggs and young birds, and to attack seals, otherwise inaccessible.

When seriously ill, the Fuegians know of no remedies, but rubbing the body with oil, drinking cold water, and causing perspiration, by lying near the fire, wrapped up in skins.

The Fuegians generally, could not be made to comprehend the effect of fire-arms upon human life, although every means were taken to convince them of it, by firing at targets, birds, and quadrupeds; and, except in one solitary instance, none of them were even wounded, they are still comparatively ignorant in this respect. When a few great guns were fired at Port Fainine to frighten them, as the shot fell in the water, they returned them with arrows and stones thrown by hand. When pistols were fired close to them, they looked astounded and rubbed their heads, thinking it was a blow; and after staring awhile gabbled to their companions, but did not think of running away. As balls were always fired over them, they laughed when a musket was presented ; even when they have seen animals killed,

they seemed not in the least aware how deadly the instrument was. The invisibility of the ball, from its velocity, is to them incomprehensible; and the penetration of a hard substance without tearing it, by a bullet, leads them to think it has no force at all. r. The Chonos tribes, living on the western or Pacific shores and islands of Patagonia, are a far finer race than the Fuegians of the southern islands: they are taller, more upright, and better-proportioned; have cleaner and clearer skins, and less ugly features : they are also less dishonest and deceitful. They have great sagacity, and possess extensive knowledge of their coasts; their canoes are nearly thirty feet in length and seven broad, with proportional depth, being made of planks sewed together, and are propelled with oars about seven feet long. They have great faith in a good spirit, whom they call Yerri Yuppon, “the author of all good,” whom they invoke in distress or danger. They also believe in an evil spirit, called Yaccy-ma, “ capable of all kinds of mischief, author of bad weather, famine, illness, &c.” He is supposed to be like an immense black man, always wandering in the woods, yet ubiquious and omniscient. They have regular places for depositing their dead, which are placed in a large cave in shallow graves, about a foot deep, which are covered over with twigs and leaves.

One of the most interesting incidents connected with the voyages of the Beagle, is that of some aboriginal natives having been brought from Tierra del Fuego to this country by Captain Fitzroy on his return from the first voyage; and, after a course of education, or at least so much as could be accomplished in so short a time, being restored to their relatives in their native land, after an absence of three years, accompanied

Sept.-VOL. LVII. NO. Ccs.xv.

G

.......

by a missionary, with an abundant supply of such articles as was thought suitable for the gradual civilization of their countrymen.

We must refer to the volumes of Captains King and Fitzroy, for the circumstances which placed these natives under the charge of the latter gentleman: they were four in number, and their names and estimated ages being York Minster (Alikhoolip)

26 Boat Memory (Tekeenica)

20 James Button (Ditto).

14 Fuegia Basket, a girl (Alikhoolip).

9 Immediately after their arrival in England, they were placed by Captain Fitzroy, at whose expense they were principally supported, after being vaccinated, in a quiet farm-house. In November, Boat Memory having taken the smallpox, the Fuegians were sent to the Royal Hospital at Plymouth, where Boat Memory unfortunately died. Neither of the others being attacked—the vaccination having taken effect - they were shortly afterwards removed to the Infant-School at Walthamstow, where they remained from December, 1830, till October, 1831. They were there taught English, the plainer truths of Christianity, the use of common tools, a slight acquaintance with husbandry, gardening, and mechanism. They gave no particular trouble, were healthy, and the two younger ones became general favourites. In 1831, they were presented to their Majesties William and Adelaide, from whom they received great kindness. For further particulars respecting their stay in England, and their voyage to their native country, we must refer to Captain Fitzroy's volume, and to the appendix to the work.

The Fuegians were much elated at the certainty of returning to their country; and on the passage, Jemmy Button continually spoke of the excellence of his own land, and how glad his friends would be to see him, and how well they would treat Captain Fitzroy and his party in return for their kindness to him. On arriving off Tierra del Fuego, a group of Indians were seen near Cape Penas, at whom York Minster and Jemmy asked Captain Fitzroy to fire, saying that they were “ Oens-men-very bad men.”

At Good Success Bay, where they first came in contact with natives (not the tribe of our Fuegians), “ It was amusing and interesting," says Captain Fitzroy, “to see their meeting with York and Jemmy, who would not acknowledge them as countrymen, but laughed at and mocked them."

Further on the coast, York Minster told Captain Fitzroy that he would rather live with Jemmy Button in the Tekeenica country than go to his own people. This was a complete change in his ideas, which Captain Fitzroy was very glad of; because it might be far better that the three, York, Jemmy, and Fuegia, should settle together. He little thought how deep a scheme master York had in contemplation ! passing the Yacana country, the natives seen were stated by Jemmy not to be his people, who were very good and clean; and York laughed heartily at them, calling them large monkeys. Fuegia was shocked and ashamed; she hid herself, and would not look at them a second time. It was interesting to observe the change which three years only had made in their ideas, and to notice how completely they had forgotten the appearance and habits of their former associates; for it

[merged small][ocr errors]

turned out that Jemmy's own tribe was as inferior in every way, as the worst of those whom he and York called “monkeys, dirty, fools, not men."

Arrived at length at Jemmy's land, Wollya, in Murray's Narrow, which Captain Fitzroy describes as exceedingly beautiful, resembling a scene in the South Sea Islands, from the first natives that were seen Jemmy heard of his mothers and brothers, but found that his father was dead-a fact of which he was singularly enough several months previously convinced through a dream which he had communicated. Poor Jemmy looked very grave and mysterious at the news, but showed no other symptom of sorrow. He reminded his English friends of his dream, and then went for some green branches, which he burned, watching them with a solemn look; after which he talked and laughed as usual, never once, of his own accord, recurring to the subject of his father's decease. Notwithstanding his ridicole of the former natives, his own people were found as abject and degraded in their outward appearance, as any foreigners that had been seen. It was here found that Jemmy had almost forgotten his native language, and that York, although belonging to another tribe, was rather the best interpreter.

At last Jemmy's family approached in a canoe. " When it arrived," says Captain Fitzroy, " instead of an eager meeting, there was a cautious circumspection which astonished us. Jemmy walked slowly to meet the party, consisting of his mother, two sisters, and four brothers. The old woman hardly looked at him before she hastened away to secure her canoe and hide her property, all she possessed--a basket containing tinder, firestone, paint, &c., and a bundle of fish. The girls ran off with her without even looking at Jemmy; and the brothers (a man and three boys) stood still, stared, walked up to Jemmy, and all round him, without uttering a word. Animals when they meet show far more animation and anxiety than was displayed at this meeting. Jemmy was evidently much mortified; and to add to his confusion and disappointment, as well as my own, he was unable to talk to his brothers, except by broken sentences, in which English predominated. After a few minutes had elapsed, his elder brother begun to talk to him; but although Jemmy understood what was said, he could not reply. York and Fuegia were able to understand some words, but could not or did not choose to speak.” Jemmy passed the first evening on shore with his mother and brothers, in their wigwam, but returned on board to sleep; and York and Fuegia went about among the natives, who the next day made wigwams, one for Mr. Mathews, the young missionary, one for Jemmy, and another for York and Fuegia, who had decided on becoming man and wife.

A small plot of ground was selected near the wigwams for a garden, in which various vegetables were planted and sowed. Jemmy clothed his family with old clothes received from his English friends, and presented them on board. His eldest brother, Tommy Button, was discovered to be a “doctor,” and held in high estimation among his tribe for conjuring and doctoring. On the third day after their arrival Jemmy's paternal uncle visited him; and many strangers came, who Jemmy said were bad people, “no friends," and who continued so to increase that his mothers and brothers had no longer any influence over the majority

In the evening, Mathews, Jemmy, York, and Puegia, went to their new wigwams. The most valuable of Mathews's articles were deposited in a box, and hid in the ground underneath the wigwam, where fire could not reach. He continued steady to his purpose, and was as willing as ever for a trial. The Beagle then left their new colony for the night, Being exceedingly anxious about Mathews, boats were sent in the next day, when Captain Fitzroy ascertained that nothing had occurred to damp his spirits, or in any way check his inclination for his attempt. A longer absence was then determined on, and after a cruise of nine days the Beagle again returned to Woollya. On approaching the shore, parties of natives were seen ornamented with rags of English clothing, evidently the last remnants of the new comer's stock. Mathews, Jemmy, and York, however, appeared dressed as usual. The former gave a very bad account of the prospect before him, and did not think himself safe among such savages.

No actual violence had been committed, beyond holding down his head by force, as if in contempt of his strength; but he had been harshly threatened by several of the men. During the last few days he had been altogether occupied in watching his property. Three days after the departure of the Beagle, several canoes full of strangers to Jemmy's family arrived, who robbed Mathews incessantly, threatening him, pulling his hair, pushing him about and making faces at him. His only partisans were the women, who treated him kindly. Fortunately the most valuable of his things were hidden underground, or overhead, unsuspected by the natives. York and Fuegia had fared very well; they lost nothing; but Jemmy had been sadly plundered, even by his own family. The garden was trampled over by the natives, notwithstanding Jemmy's exertions to preserve it.

My people, said he, “ very bad; great fool; know nothing at all; very great fool.” It was soon decided that Mathews should not be allowed to remain : he had already undergone a severe trial. His property and tools were dug up and reconveyed on board. Captain Fitzroy then distributed several useful articles, such as axes, saws, gimlets, knives, and nails, among the natives, bade Jemmy and York farewell, promising to see them again in a few days, and departed from Woollya.

Eight days afterwards they were again visited, and found little changed. They were tidily dressed, and York was engaged in building a canoe out of planks left for him for that purpose. Jemmy was also engaged in hollowing out a canoe from the trunk of a large tree. The garden had been left uninjured since its repair, and vegetables were sprouting. Strangers, however, had been there, with whom they had had “

very much jaw," and a fight, throwing “great many stone." They had stolen two women, Jemmy's party stealing one of theirs in exchange. Jemmy's mother was decently clothed. Finding that they were apparently contented and happy, Captain Fitzroy left them, with rather sanguine hopes of their effecting among their countrymen some change for the better.

Twelve months now elapsed before the Beagle revisited Woollya. The wigwams of York, Jemmy, and Fuegia, were found empty, seeming to have been deserted many months, and not a living soul was any where visible. After an anxious hour or two, three canoes were seen in the offing, paddling hastily to the vessel. Through the glass, two

« PředchozíPokračovat »