Auguste Guinnard.

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THE LIBRARY OF
BROWN UNIVERSITY




THE CHURCH
COLLECTION

The Bequest of

Colonel George Earl Church

1835-1910



vo Mon.di'rui'



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BtooIm Biyi.3^ ■•;.•



THREE YEARS' SLAYERY



AMONG



THE PATAGONIANS



AN ACCOUNT OF HIS CAPTIVITY,



BY A. GUINNARD,

MEMBER OF THE GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY OF FRANCE.



FROM THE THIRD FRENCH EDITION,



BY CHARLES S. CHELTNAM,

AUTHOR OF "A FIELD-FULL OF WONDERS," ETC.




LONDON :

RICHARD BENTLEY AND SON,

NEW BURLINGTON STREET,

Jjablisjjtts itf ®rbinarg to fa glajjcstg.
1871.

All Rights Reserved.



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TRANSLATORS PEEFACE.



It is only doing justice to Monsieur Guin-
nard, the writer of the following extremely
interesting, and in many respects important,
narrative of personal adventure and expe-
rience in a little-known region of the earth,
to point out that the materials composing it
were collected under circumstances of diffi-
culty and peril, precluding the possibility of
strictly methodical observation or scientific
precision of detail, even had his qualifica-
tions for such work been greater than he
modestly states them to have been. The






a



TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.



dates and distances given are mostly ap-
proximate only. It is the same with regard
to the routes traced in his map as having
been followed by him in company with the
Indians of various tribes by whom he was
held in slavery, as well as during his
flight from captivity. " This labour," he
says, in his address to the French readers
of his narrative, "is not and could not be
mathematically exact, for having been com-
pletely destitute, I had not the necessary
instruments to determine the several po-
sitions of the places traversed by me." He
took the greatest pains, however, to supply
an excellent memory with data, and felt
satisfied that the indications he has given
are not far from the truth.

"It will doubtless be asked," he re-
marks, " for what reason the names in
this map are written in an unknown



TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.



tongue ? It is because, knowing the lan-
guage of these nomads, I have acquired
the certainty that not only have the names
of their tribes been mangled hitherto, but
that very few of them have been known at
all. The orthography of these names differs
from that generally adopted, because I think
it not only necessary to make these denomi-
nations known, but also useful to preserve
their true Indian pronunciation."

The most interesting and important
point for consideration, however, is, that M.
Guinnard claims to be the only European
who has yet penetrated so far into the
interior of Patagonia. His narrative is in
every way extraordinary, and he admits that
many persons were hardly able to believe in
the possibility of his return after under-
going such trials as he relates, and that
others went so far as absolutely to discredit



vi TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.

his statements. These statements, however,
were believed in by many men of science,
especially by the late M. Jomard, of
the Institut, who gave him valuable advice
in regard to the preparation of his book
for publication, and would have practically
assisted him to that end, had his life for-
tunately been spared.

For my own part, I think the in-
ternal evidence furnished by M. Guinnard's
volume sufficient to establish the bona fides
of the writer, and it is this conviction that
has determined me to reproduce his narra-
tive in English. I have scrupulously re-
frained from making alterations of any sort,
even preferring to leave the measurements
in French, rather than to interfere with the
literal exactness of the statements made on
the author's own responsibility.

I will only add, that M. Guinnard's



TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE. vii

narrative has nothing in common with the
numerous sensational travellers' tales told of
Patagonia and the Patagonians ; I have little
doubt of its being found to surpass them all
in thrilling interest, as it unquestionably
surpasses all previously published accounts,
in the novelty and value of the information
it conveys regarding a race of the fiercest
and most revolting savages in existence.



HAMilERSillTH,

March 21, 1871.



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I.

PAGE

HOW IT WAS THAT I STARTED FOR MONTE VIDEO, AND FOR

WHAT PURPOSE I UNDERTOOK THE VOYAGE . . 1

CHAPTER II.

INTO WHAT HANDS I HAD FALLEN . . .39

CHAPTER III.

THE PAMPAS AND THE PAMPEANS . . .106

CHAPTER IY.

OF THE RELIGION OF THE INDIANS . . .160

CHAPTER Y.

MEDICINE AMONGST THE INDIANS . . . 168

CHAPTER VI.

FATTENING OF HORSES — SLAUGHTERING A HORSE — PRIN-
CIPAL FOOD OF THE INDIANS DURING THE FINE
SEASON — ARMADILLOS — A TRAGIC EVENT . .181

CHAPTER VII.

MUSIC AMONGST THE INDIANS — THEIR DIVERS INSTRU-
MENTS—GAMES ..... 195



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER VIII.

PAGE

PROJECTS OP PLIGHT — DESPAIR — CHANGE OP POSITION — I

BECOME SECRETARY TO THE INDIANS . . 204

'CHAPTER IX.

ORGIES OF THE INDIANS — THEIR DIFFERENT DRINKS — I

CONSTRUCT A HUT — SCIENCES OF THE INDIANS . 246

CHAPTER X.

RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS OF THE INDIANS . . . 264

CHAPTER XI.

HOW THE POLICY OF THE UNITED PROVINCES OF LA PLATA
INFLUENCED MY DESTINY — GENERAL URQUIZA — DE-
LIVERANCE — AN ORGIE .... 281

CHAPTER XII.

STAY AT RIO QUINTO — DEPARTURE FOR MENDOZA . . 302

CHAPTER XIII.

MENDOZA ....... 312

CHAPTER XIV.

DEPARTURE FROM MENDOZA — PASSAGE OF THE CORDIL-
LERAS — SOJOURN IN CHILI — RETURN TO FRANCE . 320



THREE YEARS' SLAVERY



AMONG



THE PATAGONIANS,



CHAPTER I.



HOW IT WAS THAT I STARTED FOR MONTE
VIDEO, AND FOR WHAT PURPOSE I UNDER-
TOOK THE VOYAGE.

In 1855, I was but three-and- twenty years of
age. I liad very little experience, but I had
some ambition, and, above all, I was pos-
sessed by an ardent love of travel. From
my earliest infancy I had felt myself electri-
fied by the recital of the travels of my
maternal ancestor, TTlliac de Kvallant, a

1



THREE YEARS' SLAVERY



naval officer, who, at twenty -two, had three
times made the voyage to the East Indies,
and whom fortune had deigned to favour
with one of her most gracious smiles. At
a later period, reading developed in me
this passion still more powerfully. I had
such faith in my success abroad, that,
seeing myself without a future to my taste,
I suddenly took the fatal resolution to
expatriate myself for several years, intend-
ing to employ them as usefully as possible
to the equal profit of my memory and purse.
I thought of the happiness I should feel, if
it were permitted me to put an end to the
misfortunes which weighed down my family,
and this idea alone sufficed to console me for
the painful separation I was inflicting on
myself.

I did not impart my resolution to my
relatives until a few days only before my
departure. It was a sad surprise to them ;
but all the efforts they made to turn me



AMONG TEE TATAGONIANS.



from my purpose were unavailing. It was
thus, that, after receiving the visit of my
beloved brother, who had come to bid me
farewell, and to bring me the last greetings
of all my relatives, I embarked at Havre,
in the month of August, 1855, for Monte
Video.

The weather was magnificent when we
set sail, but changed completely during the
following night, and for a fortnight we re-
mained at the mercy of the furious waves of
the Channel, in spite of all efforts that were
made to enter the Atlantic Ocean. At
length, on the sixteenth day, the sea became
calm, and we began to make good way.

The further we went, the more splendid
the weather appeared to become, and we
reached the embouchure of the Plata with-
out encountering a single danger. We
were not, however, to arrive at the end of
the voyage without my experiencing some of
the horrors to which sailors are exposed, for



THREE YEARS' SLAVERY



on entering the Plata we were met by one of
the most frightful tempests imaginable, and
thrown upon the English Bank, where we ran
the greatest risk of perishing. We owed
our escape solely to the great strength of the
ship, which, fortunately, was a new one, and
to the coolness of our able captain, who
succeeded in reanimating the energy of his
crew, when, for a moment, it had become
paralyzed by fear.

As soon as the danger was passed, and
calm restored on board, I heard the crew
once more talking together of their plans
for amusing themselves on shore. I never
ceased questioning them concerning Monte
Video, where so many others before me had
been happy enough to see their desires
realized ; to the wishes of all sorts which I
had formed was added a feverish impatience
to set foot on the American soil, which I had
been told was so wonderful.

But I had scarcely arrived, before I was



AMONG THE PATAGOXIANS.



seized with a presentiment of ill augury,
when heavy, rolling clouds of smoke met my
sight, and the first sounds that fell upon my
ears at the portals of the New World were
those of a lively fusillade, mixed with the
booming of cannon.

I had arrived just in time to witness one
of the insurrections so frequent in the Re-
publics of La Plata. I went on shore the
next day, and in spite of the dissentient
state of the country, felt happy to make
acquaintance with a people so new to me,
whose opinions at once awakened my com-
pletest sympathy.

Not without difficulty, I succeeded in
gaining admission to an hotel of modest ap-
pearance, the first I came upon, the door of
which was strongly barricaded on the inside.
Though the voyage had been one of the best,
I felt in great need of repose ; but I found it
impossible to sleep, for the shouts of the
populace and the firing that were going on.



THREE YEARS' SLAVERY



The following day I was up at dawn, moved
by an ardent desire to explore the city, which
I was bent on doing in spite of the charitably
hostile exclamations of mine host, who feared
to lose a lodger; but quickly reassured, as
soon as he learned that I intended to leave all
my baggage as security for my return, he
admitted and explained to me how little
danger there really was in walking about
the streets in the daytime. He told the
truth ; for, in spite of the cries and mus-
ketry-firing, the greater part of the inhabi-
tants came into the streets to purchase pro-
visions. In a short space of time, I passed
through the principal streets, filled with
soldiers — almost all of them negroes — in
rags, and barefooted, looking like a horde of
robbers, and appearing much more intent on
avoiding the blows to which they are usually
exposed, than on submitting themselves to
any sort of discipline ; to which state of
things may be attributed the greater part of



AMONG TEE TATAGONIANS. 7

the crimes and disorders committed in these
outbreaks.

In these distant countries, few men are
killed in fair fighting ; for the struggles are
wholly contemptible. Many victims of revenge
fall, however ; the darkness of the streets —
for the most part unlighted — apparently
facilitating this result. It is by no means
rare, even in times of peace, to hear the
groans of some unfortunate late wayfarer who
has neglected to place himself under the guar-
dianship of Los serenos, or guardians of the
night, who, for a payment of money, unautho-
rized, it need hardly be said, would have passed
him safely from beat to beat to his domicile.
These watchmen carry a lanthorn in the left
hand, and a spear in the right, their arma-
ment being completed with a sword. Their
duty is to guard the safety of the inhabi-
tants, and to call through the streets the
hours and the state of the weather ; but the
sentiment cf duty is so much a secondary



THREE YEARS' SLAVERY



consideration with them, that they frequently
refuse to escort los ciudadanso — the citizens
— who do not offer them money. Besides
this, many of them push their love of
property to such an extent as not to shrink
from despoiling those whom they accompany
gratuitously.

After staying for a month and a half at
Monte Video, during which time I visited all
the environs, the generally bad state of affairs
showing me that I could neither profitably
employ my time there, nor go by land either
to Assumption or Brazil, I determined to go
to Buenos Ayres, and reached there in one
night by steamer. This city also I found
distracted by an intestine war, the end of
which it was impossible to foresee ; and I
was thus, as at Monte Video, prevented from
using my letters of introduction.

The lives of foreigners there were very
insecure, and I again saw myself under the
necessity of moving elsewhere. At first I



AMONG THE PATAGONIANS.



thought of going to Eosario, the general
meeting-place of Europeans ; but not wish-
ing to run the risk of afterwards regretting
having acted too precipitately, I employed
every means I could devise for establishing
relations with the traders. But all my at-
tempts were fruitless, and I returned to my
first idea of betaking myself to Eosario after
exploring all the Argentine Provinces.

We were already in the month of February,
1856. Winter beginning in May, I had but
two months before me to fix on my desti-
nation. After having visited the Argentine
Confederation to the South, Carmen on the
Eio Negro, Fort Argentine and White Bay, I
wandered through all the districts of Buenos
Ayres to the source of the Eio Quequene,
a watercourse rarelv traced and still more
rarely laid down in the maps. Having also
vainly traversed Tendil, Azul, Bragado-
Grande, Bragado-Chico, Mulita, even to the
smallest villages and farms, connecting these



10 THREE YEARS' SLAVERY

divers populations, which are too far removed
from one another to form a frontier, properly
so called.

Seeing that it was in vain for me to hope
to meet with better chances on this soil, little
trodden as it is by Europeans, I determined
to put my first project into execution. To
this end, I returned to Quequene- Grande for
the purpose of providing myself with the
provisions requisite for such a journey, re-
ceiving on my way the hospitality of the
Estanceros, or farmers devoted mainly to
cattle-rearing and trading.

On my return to Quequene, I met an
Italian named Pedritto, like myself misled
into visiting this useless part of the coun-
try. We were not long in striking up an
acquaintance; we discovered in the course
of conversation that we had arrived in
America only a few days apart, both actu-
ated by the desire to form a suitable position,
and both led — looking at the difficulties we



AMONG TEE PATAGONIANS. 11

had met with from the time of our landing —
to form the same project, of going to Rosario«£
We at once agreed to join company in the
journey, made the more difficult by our igno-
rance of the Spanish language, and our in-
ability to ride ; these disqualifications, by
depriving us of the use of horses and guides,
compelled us to travel on foot. We joined
our pecuniary resources, and purchased arms
and munitions sufficient to last us a month :
we each carried five livres of gunpowder,
fifteen livres of lead, some eatables, and a
few spare articles of dress.

We were not ignorant of the numberless
difficulties and dangers by which we might
be assailed, but having determined to brave
all, we only took the precaution to purchase
a compass and a sun-dial, and to make out a
plan of our intended route on which each
day's journey was laid down ; this done, we
started with that confidence with which reso-
lution and hope inspire youth.



12 THREE YEARS 1 SLAVERY



It was on the 18th of May, 1856, that we
ffirst set foot on the soil of the Pampas, in
the direction of the West, which we intended
to follow only so far as the Sierra Yentana.

But, as I have already said, this period
coincides with winter in these regions, making
us fear more bad than good weather.

On the day after the commencement of
our journey, indeed, a torrent-like rain, aug-
mented by a violent and icy wind whistling
from the depths of Patagonia, cruelly assailed
us. This bad weather continued for four
mortal days, during which we were compelled
to rest stretched upon the wet ground, with-
out being able to hunt or to light a fire.
We had the greatest difficulty to keep our
arms uninjured, on which our existence de-
pended during the long course of the journey
of winch we were only at the outset, and
which already had shown itself so painful
and dangerous.

It was not until the evening of the fourth



AMONG THE PATAGONIANS. ' 13

day that the rain ceased, and was followed
by a ray of sunshine, which reanimated our
courage and enabled us to dry our clothes.
During the few hours we rested we were able
to admire the immense plains of thick green
grass spread beneath our eyes to the bound-
less horizon, and from which the setting sun
called forth the full beauty.

Before the return of night we had put
on our perfectly-dried clothes, and taken
advantage of the opportunity which the hunt-
ing of viscachas * gave us of replenish-
ing our store of provisions, for we had
that day finished the small quantity of rain-
soaked bread that remained to us. Our
strength being restored and our moral con-
dition fortified, we consulted our plan of
route and our compass, making for the
south-east, in the firm conviction that we
were on the right course for Kosario. Our
march became more and more difficult, ob-

* Note A.



14* THREE YEARS' SLAVERY



structed as it was by a compact mass of high
grass, compelling us to raise our knees in an
extremely fatiguing manner. Besides this,
the soddened earth injured and stretched our
shoes to such a degree that we were fre-
quently threatened with the loss of them — a
loss which actually occurred on the following
night, during the most complete obscurity,
while we were struggling in a muddy hollow,
from which we had the greatest trouble in
the world to extricate ourselves. As it had
been impossible for us to procure a change of
shoes before our departure from Quequene-
Grancle, we were now reduced to travel with
bare feet over ground often bristling with
sharp stones or thorns, and with the cold
becoming more and more intense.

Towards the morning of the fifth day, in
spite of numerous difficulties which seemed
purposely to oppose our march, we had none
the less traversed a very considerable space
of ground. During the following evening we



AMONG TEE PATAGONIANS. 15

came upon a narrow and deep river, buried
between nearly perpendicular banks. How
to cross this river, we had to think a good
deal. To descend to the edge of the stream
was a real labour, so steep was the bank ;
the rest of the day was spent in searching
for a crossing to the opposite side. When
at length we found one, we were so tired
out as to prefer putting off the passage until
the next day, especially as the side which we
were on appeared to promise us shelter from
the icy wind which blew unceasingly. To
protect ourselves as completely as we could
from the cold and damp of the atmosphere,
we hit on the plan of digging out the side of
the steep river-bank with our knives, so as
to form a cavern. This work finished, we
carried luxury to the extent of lighting in
the interior a pile of brushwood to dry the
walls ; and after having done honour to an
excellent supper, composed of a leg of gam a,
the produce of our hunting, we installed our-



16 THREE YEARS' SLAVERY

solves inside of our still warm habitation,
which seemed to promise our fatigued bodies
a night of delicious repose.

But, alas ! one never thinks of every-
thing. We had been too much absorbed in
the work of making ourselves comfortable,
to pay any attention to the rising of the
river, swollen by the rain. Hardly had we
closed an eyelid, than our cave was suddenly
invaded by the boiling and rapid stream,
that nearly made of it our tomb. Being,
most fortunately, not yet quite asleep, I had
time to awaken my companion, to snatch
up our arms, and fly.

But to escape was not an easy thing for
two men thus surprised by danger at the
moment of their first sleep. We had to find
a way through the whirling waters and dark-
ness, and to use our knives as steps in
climbing a high bank, the foot of which was
undermined by the action of the water, and
which threatened to crumble under us at



AMONG TEE FATAGONIANS. 17

every liasty movement we made. In spite
of all our coolness, Providence must have
come to our assistance, for, great as the
peril was, we had the happiness of reaching
safe and sound the summit of the cliff,
furnished with all our arms. We had only
to deplore the loss of part of our stores, of
our powder, and of the spare small things,
which became under our eyes the prey of the
impetuous torrent. This night, begun under
such dispiriting auspices, ended, however,
in profound sleep, and the next day, on
awaking, there remained of the danger passed
nothing but a remembrance, which would
have served rather to encourage than to
depress us, if we had not been obliged to
wait during two long days of privation and
hunger, until the subsidence of the waters
allowed us to cross the river.

Not till the third day did we attempt the
passage, after having each made a package of

his effects, which we placed on our heads.

2



18 THREE YEARS' SLAVERY

We swam with one hand, while with the
other we held our rifles and revolvers above
the water ; but it was not an easy thing to
do. The current was extremely strong, aisd
carried us into a whirlpool, in which we
might both have been drowned ; and by the
time we reached the opposite bank, we were
both nearly exhausted. We were, however,
so fortunate as to be able to make a good
fire with roots, which invigorated our limbs
and dried our clothing and arms, which we
looked to with the greatest care.

If, on the one hand, these grievous ex-
periences augmented our confidence in our
strength and in our contempt of danger, on
the other it delayed our progress. More-
over, our feet, already bleeding, suffered the
more cruelly from our having no means of
protecting them either against the roughness
of the ground, or against the influence of the
frost. Towards the middle of the day, how-
ever, having had the good fortune to kill a



AMONG THE PATAGONIANS. 19

she gama,* which we roasted, our spirits rose
with our repast, and rendered it delicious. Of
the skin of this animal we attempted to make
sandals, but this fragile covering for the feet,
besides being insufficient to protect them from
the stones and thorns, was speedily torn. It
did not even serve to diminish the effect of
the intense cold on our open wounds. Being
thus rendered incapable of quickening our
pace, we resolved on walking day and night,
only according to the imperative require-
ments of sleep and hunger as much time
as was strictly necessary, with the view of
limiting, as far as possible, the duration of
our journey.

But, in spite of this economical arrange-
ment, our provisions were speedily ex-
hausted, without the possibility of our being
able to replace them, for we had entered
upon uno campo, or kind of pampas, to the
south-west of some mountains linked with

* Note B.



20 THREE YEARS' SLAVERY



the Sierra Yentana by a stretch of rough
calcareous land, which offered to the eager
eyes of us poor hungry travellers no trace of
animals or of vegetation.

The entire day slowly passed without our
discovering the smallest atom of anything
with which to appease our hunger and thirst.
Evening came, and being unable to find any
sort of shelter, we were obliged to lie down
upon the stony and frost-covered ground.
To the frightful torture of hunger which we
felt, succeeded the most complete inertia.
Thank God, however, the burning fever from
which we suffered plunged us into a leaden
sleep, during which our aching and exhausted
limbs regained some portion of their lost
strength. On waking, we continued our
painful pilgrimage over plains of the nature
of saltpetre, and covered with numerous
shallow salt-pools, the loathsome waters —
tasting like copper — resting on beds of black
and nauseating mud, in which at times



AMONG TEE PATAGONIANS. 21

animals disappeared, drawn thither by thirst,
and betrayed by the limpidity of the water.

These pools were tenanted by myriads
of flamingoes with long necks, thin, tailless
bodies, and tall legs, the bright poppy-red
of their wings standing ont forcibly from
the irreproachable whiteness of their other


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