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Considering that the island does not appear fully stocked, and that
there are no beasts of prey, I was particularly curious to know
what has checked their originally rapid increase. That in a limited
island some check would sooner or later supervene, is inevitable;
but why has the increase of the horse been checked sooner than that
of the cattle? Captain Sulivan has taken much pains for me in this
inquiry. The Gauchos employed here attribute it chiefly to the
stallions constantly roaming from place to place, and compelling
the mares to accompany them, whether or not the young foals are
able to follow. One Gaucho told Captain Sulivan that he had watched
a stallion for a whole hour, violently kicking and biting a mare
till he forced her to leave her foal to its fate. Captain Sulivan
can so far corroborate this curious account, that he has several
times found young foals dead, whereas he has never found a dead
calf. Moreover, the dead bodies of full-grown horses are more
frequently found, as if more subject to disease or accidents than
those of the cattle. From the softness of the ground their hoofs
often grow irregularly to a great length, and this causes lameness.
The predominant colours are roan and iron-grey. All the horses bred
here, both tame and wild, are rather small-sized, though generally
in good condition; and they have lost so much strength, that they
are unfit to be used in taking wild cattle with the lazo: in
consequence, it is necessary to go to the great expense of
importing fresh horses from the Plata. At some future period the
southern hemisphere probably will have its breed of Falkland
ponies, as the northern has its Shetland breed.

The cattle, instead of having degenerated like the horses, seem, as
before remarked, to have increased in size; and they are much more
numerous than the horses. Captain Sulivan informs me that they vary
much less in the general form of their bodies and in the shape of
their horns than English cattle. In colour they differ much; and it
is a remarkable circumstance, that in different parts of this one
small island, different colours predominate. Round Mount Usborne,
at a height of from 1000 to 1500 feet above the sea, about half of
some of the herds are mouse or lead coloured, a tint which is not
common in other parts of the island. Near Port Pleasant dark brown
prevails, whereas south of Choiseul Sound (which almost divides the
island into two parts) white beasts with black heads and feet are
the most common: in all parts black, and some spotted animals may
be observed. Captain Sulivan remarks that the difference in the
prevailing colours was so obvious, that in looking for the herds
near Port Pleasant, they appeared from a long distance like black
spots, whilst south of Choiseul Sound they appeared like white
spots on the hill-sides. Captain Sulivan thinks that the herds do
not mingle; and it is a singular fact, that the mouse-coloured
cattle, though living on the high land, calve about a month earlier
in the season than the other coloured beasts on the lower land. It
is interesting thus to find the once domesticated cattle breaking
into three colours, of which some one colour would in all
probability ultimately prevail over the others, if the herd were
left undisturbed for the next several centuries.

The rabbit is another animal which has been introduced, and has
succeeded very well; so that they abound over large parts of the
island. Yet, like the horses, they are confined within certain
limits; for they have not crossed the central chain of hills, nor
would they have extended even so far as its base, if, as the
Gauchos informed me, small colonies had not been carried there. I
should not have supposed that these animals, natives of Northern
Africa, could have existed in a climate so humid as this, and which
enjoys so little sunshine that even wheat ripens only occasionally.
It is asserted that in Sweden, which any one would have thought a
more favourable climate, the rabbit cannot live out of doors. The
first few pairs, moreover, had here to contend against pre-existing
enemies, in the fox and some large hawks. The French naturalists
have considered the black variety a distinct species, and called it
Lepus Magellanicus. (9/5. Lesson's "Zoology of the Voyage of the
Coquille" tome 1 page 168. All the early voyagers, and especially
Bougainville, distinctly state that the wolf-like fox was the only
native animal on the island. The distinction of the rabbit as a
species is taken from peculiarities in the fur, from the shape of
the head, and from the shortness of the ears. I may here observe
that the difference between the Irish and English hare rests upon
nearly similar characters, only more strongly marked.) They
imagined that Magellan, when talking of an animal under the name of
"conejos" in the Strait of Magellan, referred to this species; but
he was alluding to a small cavy, which to this day is thus called
by the Spaniards. The Gauchos laughed at the idea of the black kind
being different from the grey, and they said that at all events it
had not extended its range any farther than the grey kind; that the
two were never found separate; and that they readily bred together,
and produced piebald offspring. Of the latter I now possess a
specimen, and it is marked about the head differently from the
French specific description. This circumstance shows how cautious
naturalists should be in making species; for even Cuvier, on
looking at the skull of one of these rabbits, thought it was
probably distinct!

The only quadruped native to the island is a large wolf-like fox
(Canis antarcticus), which is common to both East and West
Falkland. (9/6. I have reason, however, to suspect that there is a
field-mouse. The common European rat and mouse have roamed far from
the habitations of the settlers. The common hog has also run wild
on one islet; all are of a black colour: the boars are very fierce,
and have great tusks.) I have no doubt it is a peculiar species,
and confined to this archipelago; because many sealers, Gauchos,
and Indians, who have visited these islands, all maintain that no
such animal is found in any part of South America. Molina, from a
similarity in habits, thought that this was the same with his
"culpeu" (9/7. The "culpeu" is the Canis Magellanicus brought home
by Captain King from the Strait of Magellan. It is common in
Chile.); but I have seen both, and they are quite distinct. These
wolves are well known from Byron's account of their tameness and
curiosity, which the sailors, who ran into the water to avoid them,
mistook for fierceness. To this day their manners remain the same.
They have been observed to enter a tent, and actually pull some
meat from beneath the head of a sleeping seaman. The Gauchos also
have frequently in the evening killed them, by holding out a piece
of meat in one hand, and in the other a knife ready to stick them.
As far as I am aware, there is no other instance in any part of the
world, of so small a mass of broken land, distant from a continent,
possessing so large an aboriginal quadruped peculiar to itself.
Their numbers have rapidly decreased; they are already banished
from that half of the island which lies to the eastward of the neck
of land between St. Salvador Bay and Berkeley Sound. Within a very
few years after these islands shall have become regularly settled,
in all probability this fox will be classed with the dodo, as an
animal which has perished from the face of the earth.

At night (17th) we slept on the neck of land at the head of
Choiseul Sound, which forms the south-west peninsula. The valley
was pretty well sheltered from the cold wind; but there was very
little brushwood for fuel. The Gauchos, however, soon found what,
to my great surprise, made nearly as hot a fire as coals; this was
the skeleton of a bullock lately killed, from which the flesh had
been picked by the carrion-hawks. They told me that in winter they
often killed a beast, cleaned the flesh from the bones with their
knives and then with these same bones roasted the meat for their
suppers.

MAY 18, 1834.

It rained during nearly the whole day. At night we managed,
however, with our saddle-cloths to keep ourselves pretty well dry
and warm; but the ground on which we slept was on each occasion
nearly in the state of a bog, and there was not a dry spot to sit
down on after our day's ride. I have in another part stated how
singular it is that there should be absolutely no trees on these
islands, although Tierra del Fuego is covered by one large forest.
The largest bush in the island (belonging to the family of
Compositae) is scarcely so tall as our gorse. The best fuel is
afforded by a green little bush about the size of common heath,
which has the useful property of burning while fresh and green. It
was very surprising to see the Gauchos, in the midst of rain and
everything soaking wet, with nothing more than a tinder-box and a
piece of rag, immediately make a fire. They sought beneath the
tufts of grass and bushes for a few dry twigs, and these they
rubbed into fibres; then surrounding them with coarser twigs,
something like a bird's nest, they put the rag with its spark of
fire in the middle and covered it up. The nest being then held up
to the wind, by degrees it smoked more and more, and at last burst
out in flames. I do not think any other method would have had a
chance of succeeding with such damp materials.

MAY 19, 1834.

Each morning, from not having ridden for some time previously, I
was very stiff. I was surprised to hear the Gauchos, who have from
infancy almost lived on horseback, say that, under similar
circumstances, they always suffer. St. Jago told me, that having
been confined for three months by illness, he went out hunting wild
cattle, and in consequence, for the next two days, his thighs were
so stiff that he was obliged to lie in bed. This shows that the
Gauchos, although they do not appear to do so, yet really must
exert much muscular effort in riding. The hunting wild cattle, in a
country so difficult to pass as this is on account of the swampy
ground, must be very hard work. The Gauchos say they often pass at
full speed over ground which would be impassable at a slower pace;
in the same manner as a man is able to skate over thin ice. When
hunting, the party endeavours to get as close as possible to the
herd without being discovered. Each man carries four or five pair
of the bolas; these he throws one after the other at as many
cattle, which, when once entangled, are left for some days, till
they become a little exhausted by hunger and struggling. They are
then let free and driven towards a small herd of tame animals,
which have been brought to the spot on purpose. From their previous
treatment, being too much terrified to leave the herd, they are
easily driven, if their strength last out, to the settlement.

The weather continued so very bad that we determine to make a push,
and try to reach the vessel before night. From the quantity of rain
which had fallen, the surface of the whole country was swampy. I
suppose my horse fell at least a dozen times, and sometimes the
whole six horses were floundering in the mud together. All the
little streams are bordered by soft peat, which makes it very
difficult for the horses to leap them without falling. To complete
our discomforts we were obliged to cross the head of a creek of the
sea, in which the water was as high as our horses' backs; and the
little waves, owing to the violence of the wind, broke over us, and
made us very wet and cold. Even the iron-framed Gauchos professed
themselves glad when they reached the settlement, after our little
excursion.

The geological structure of these islands is in most respects
simple. The lower country consists of clay-slate and sandstone,
containing fossils, very closely related to, but not identical
with, those found in the Silurian formations of Europe; the hills
are formed of white granular quartz rock. The strata of the latter
are frequently arched with perfect symmetry, and the appearance of
some of the masses is in consequence most singular. Pernety has
devoted several pages to the description of a Hill of Ruins, the
successive strata of which he has justly compared to the seats of
an amphitheatre. (9/8. Pernety "Voyage aux Isles Malouines" page
526.) The quartz rock must have been quite pasty when it underwent
such remarkable flexures without being shattered into fragments. As
the quartz insensibly passes into the sandstone, it seems probable
that the former owes its origin to the sandstone having been heated
to such a degree that it became viscid, and upon cooling
crystallised. While in the soft state it must have been pushed up
through the overlying beds.

In many parts of the island the bottoms of the valleys are covered
in an extraordinary manner by myriads of great loose angular
fragments of the quartz rock, forming "streams of stones." These
have been mentioned with surprise by every voyager since the time
of Pernety. The blocks are not waterworn, their angles being only
a little blunted; they vary in size from one or two feet in
diameter to ten, or even more than twenty times as much. They are
not thrown together into irregular piles, but are spread out into
level sheets or great streams. It is not possible to ascertain
their thickness, but the water of small streamlets can be heard
trickling through the stones many feet below the surface. The
actual depth is probably great, because the crevices between the
lower fragments must long ago have been filled up with sand. The
width of these sheets of stones varies from a few hundred feet to a
mile; but the peaty soil daily encroaches on the borders, and even
forms islets wherever a few fragments happen to lie close together.
In a valley south of Berkeley Sound, which some of our party called
the "great valley of fragments," it was necessary to cross an
uninterrupted band half a mile wide, by jumping from one pointed
stone to another. So large were the fragments, that being overtaken
by a shower of rain, I readily found shelter beneath one of them.

Their little inclination is the most remarkable circumstance in
these "streams of stones." On the hill-sides I have seen them
sloping at an angle of ten degrees with the horizon; but in some of
the level, broad-bottomed valleys, the inclination is only just
sufficient to be clearly perceived. On so rugged a surface there
was no means of measuring the angle; but to give a common
illustration, I may say that the slope would not have checked the
speed of an English mail-coach. In some places a continuous stream
of these fragments followed up the course of a valley, and even
extended to the very crest of the hill. On these crests huge
masses, exceeding in dimensions any small building, seemed to stand
arrested in their headlong course: there, also, the curved strata
of the archways lay piled on each other, like the ruins of some
vast and ancient cathedral. In endeavouring to describe these
scenes of violence one is tempted to pass from one simile to
another. We may imagine that streams of white lava had flowed from
many parts of the mountains into the lower country, and that when
solidified they had been rent by some enormous convulsion into
myriads of fragments. The expression "streams of stones," which
immediately occurred to every one, conveys the same idea. These
scenes are on the spot rendered more striking by the contrast of
the low, rounded forms of the neighbouring hills.

I was interested by finding on the highest peak of one range (about
700 feet above the sea) a great arched fragment, lying on its
convex side, or back downwards. Must we believe that it was fairly
pitched up in the air, and thus turned? Or, with more probability,
that there existed formerly a part of the same range more elevated
than the point on which this monument of a great convulsion of
nature now lies. As the fragments in the valleys are neither
rounded nor the crevices filled up with sand, we must infer that
the period of violence was subsequent to the land having been
raised above the waters of the sea. In a transverse section within
these valleys the bottom is nearly level, or rises but very little
towards either side. Hence the fragments appear to have travelled
from the head of the valley; but in reality it seems more probable
that they have been hurled down from the nearest slopes; and that
since, by a vibratory movement of overwhelming force, the fragments
have been levelled into one continuous sheet. (9/9. "Nous n'avons
pas ete moins saisis d'etonnement a la vue de l'innombrable
quantite de pierres de toutes grandeurs, bouleversees les unes sur
les autres, et cependant rangees, comme si elles avoient ete
amoncelees negligemment pour remplir des ravins. On ne se lassoit
pas d'admirer les effets prodigieux de la nature." "Pernety" page
526.) If during the earthquake which in 1835 overthrew Concepcion,
in Chile, it was thought wonderful that small bodies should have
been pitched a few inches from the ground, what must we say to a
movement which has caused fragments many tons in weight to move
onwards like so much sand on a vibrating board, and find their
level? (9/10. An inhabitant of Mendoza, and hence well capable of
judging, assured me that, during the several years he had resided
on these islands, he had never felt the slightest shock of an
earthquake.) I have seen, in the Cordillera of the Andes, the
evident marks where stupendous mountains have been broken into
pieces like so much thin crust, and the strata thrown on their
vertical edges; but never did any scene, like these "streams of
stones," so forcibly convey to my mind the idea of a convulsion, of
which in historical records we might in vain seek for any
counterpart: yet the progress of knowledge will probably some day
give a simple explanation of this phenomenon, as it already has of
the so long thought inexplicable transportal of the erratic
boulders which are strewed over the plains of Europe.

I have little to remark on the zoology of these islands. I have
before described the carrion-vulture of Polyborus. There are some
other hawks, owls, and a few small land-birds. The waterfowl are
particularly numerous, and they must formerly, from the accounts of
the old navigators, have been much more so. One day I observed a
cormorant playing with a fish which it had caught. Eight times
successively the bird let its prey go, then dived after it, and
although in deep water, brought it each time to the surface. In the
Zoological Gardens I have seen the otter treat a fish in the same
manner, much as a cat does a mouse: I do not know of any other
instance where dame Nature appears so wilfully cruel. Another day,
having placed myself between a penguin (Aptenodytes demersa) and
the water, I was much amused by watching its habits. It was a brave
bird; and till reaching the sea, it regularly fought and drove me
backwards. Nothing less than heavy blows would have stopped him;
every inch he gained he firmly kept, standing close before me erect
and determined. When thus opposed he continually rolled his head
from side to side, in a very odd manner, as if the power of
distinct vision lay only in the anterior and basal part of each
eye. This bird is commonly called the jackass penguin, from its
habit, while on shore, of throwing its head backwards, and making a
loud strange noise, very like the braying of an ass; but while at
sea, and undisturbed, its note is very deep and solemn, and is
often heard in the night-time. In diving, its little wings are used
as fins; but on the land, as front legs. When crawling, it may be
said on four legs, through the tussocks or on the side of a grassy
cliff, it moves so very quickly that it might easily be mistaken
for a quadruped. When at sea and fishing, it comes to the surface
for the purpose of breathing with such a spring, and dives again so
instantaneously, that I defy any one at first sight to be sure that
it was not a fish leaping for sport.

Two kinds of geese frequent the Falklands. The upland species (Anas
Magellanica) is common, in pairs and in small flocks, throughout
the island. They do not migrate, but build on the small outlying
islets. This is supposed to be from fear of the foxes: and it is
perhaps from the same cause that these birds, though very tame by
day, are shy and wild in the dusk of the evening. They live
entirely on vegetable matter. The rock-goose, so called from living
exclusively on the sea-beach (Anas antarctica), is common both here
and on the west coast of America, as far north as Chile. In the
deep and retired channels of Tierra del Fuego, the snow-white
gander, invariably accompanied by his darker consort, and standing
close by each other on some distant rocky point, is a common
feature in the landscape.

In these islands a great loggerheaded duck or goose (Anas
brachyptera), which sometimes weighs twenty-two pounds, is very
abundant. These birds were in former days called, from their
extraordinary manner of paddling and splashing upon the water,
racehorses; but now they are named, much more appropriately,
steamers. Their wings are too small and weak to allow of flight,
but by their aid, partly swimming and partly flapping the surface
of the water, they move very quickly. The manner is something like
that by which the common house-duck escapes when pursued by a dog;
but I am nearly sure that the steamer moves its wings alternately,
instead of both together, as in other birds. These clumsy,
loggerheaded ducks make such a noise and splashing, that the effect
is exceedingly curious.

Thus we find in South America three birds which use their wings for
other purposes besides flight; the penguin as fins, the steamer as
paddles, and the ostrich as sails: and the Apteryx of New Zealand,
as well as its gigantic extinct prototype the Deinornis, possess
only rudimentary representatives of wings. The steamer is able to
dive only to a very short distance. It feeds entirely on shell-fish
from the kelp and tidal rocks; hence the beak and head, for the
purpose of breaking them, are surprisingly heavy and strong: the
head is so strong that I have scarcely been able to fracture it
with my geological hammer; and all our sportsmen soon discovered
how tenacious these birds were of life. When in the evening pluming
themselves in a flock, they make the same odd mixture of sounds
which bull-frogs do within the tropics.

In Tierra del Fuego, as well as in the Falkland Islands, I made
many observations on the lower marine animals, but they are of
little general interest. (9/11. I was surprised to find, on
counting the eggs of a large white Doris (this sea-slug was three
and a half inches long), how extraordinarily numerous they were.
From two to five eggs (each three-thousandths of an inch in
diameter) were contained in spherical little case. These were
arranged two deep in transverse rows forming a ribbon. The ribbon
adhered by its edge to the rock in an oval spire. One which I found
measured nearly twenty inches in length and half in breadth. By
counting how many balls were contained in a tenth of an inch in the
row, and how many rows in an equal length of the ribbon, on the
most moderate computation there were six hundred thousand eggs. Yet
this Doris was certainly not very common: although I was often
searching under the stones, I saw only seven individuals. NO
FALLACY IS MORE COMMON WITH NATURALISTS, THAN THAT THE NUMBERS OF
AN INDIVIDUAL SPECIES DEPEND ON ITS POWERS OF PROPAGATION.) I will
mention only one class of facts, relating to certain zoophytes in
the more highly organised division of that class. Several genera
(Flustra, Eschara, Cellaria, Crisia, and others) agree in having
singular movable organs (like those of Flustra avicularia, found in
the European seas) attached to their cells. The organ, in the
greater number of cases, very closely resembles the head of a
vulture; but the lower mandible can be opened much wider than in a
real bird's beak. The head itself possesses considerable powers of
movement, by means of a short neck. In one zoophyte the head itself
was fixed, but the lower jaw free: in another it was replaced by a
triangular hood, with a beautifully-fitted trap-door, which
evidently answered to the lower mandible. In the greater number of
species, each cell was provided with one head, but in others each
cell had two.

The young cells at the end of the branches of these corallines
contain quite immature polypi, yet the vulture-heads attached to
them, though small, are in every respect perfect. When the polypus



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