February 1833 Archives
If the garden succeeds, this little settlement may be yet the means of producing great good & altering the habits of the truly savage inhabitants:
On the 13th, a party of eight under the command of Mr Chaffers crossed Hardy Peninsula so as to reach & survey the West coast. The distance was not great; but from the soft swampy ground was fatiguing. This peninsula, although really part of an island, may be considered as the most Southern
The day was beautiful, even sufficiently so as to communicate part of its charms to the surrounding desolate scenery. This, & a view of the Pacific was all that repaid us for our trouble
Arrived at the Settlement.
Matthews gave so bad an account of the
conduct of the Fuegians that the Captain advised him to return to the
From the moment of our leaving, a regular system of plunder commenced, in which not only Matthews, but York & Jemmy suffered. Matthews had nearly lost all his things; & the constant watching was most harassing & entirely prevented him from doing anything to obtain food &c. Night & day large parties of the natives surrounded his house. (they tried to tire him out by making incessant noises).
One day, having requested an old man to leave the place, he
returned with a large stone in his hand: Another day, a whole party
advanced with stones & stakes, & some of the younger men &
Jemmys brother were crying. Matthews thought it was only to rob him
& he met them with presents. I cannot help thinking that more was meant. They showed by signs they would strip him & pluck all the hairs out
of his face & body. I think we returned just in time to save his
The perfect equality of all the inhabitants will for many years prevent their civilization: even a shirt or other article of clothing is immediately torn into pieces. -- Until some chief rises, who by his power might be able to keep to himself such presents as animals &c &c, there must be an end to all hopes of bettering their condition.
It would not have been so bad if all the plunder had
remained in one family or tribe. But there was a constant succession
of fresh canoes, & each one returned with something. Jemmy's own
relations were absolutely so foolish & vain, as to show to
strangers what they had stolen & the method of doing it.
It was quite melancholy leaving our Fuegians amongst their
barbarous countrymen: there was one comfort; they appeared to have no
personal fears. But, in contradiction of what has often been stated,
3 years has been sufficient to change savages, into, as far as habits
go, complete & voluntary Europaeans.
York, who was a full grown
man & with a strong violent mind, will I am certain in every respect live as far as his means go, like an Englishman. Poor Jemmy, looked rather
disconsolate, & certainly would have liked to have returned with
us; he said "they were all very bad men, no 'sabe' nothing". Jemmy's
own brother had been stealing from him as Jemmy said, "what fashion do
you call that".
I am afraid whatever other ends their excursion to England produces, it will not be conducive to their
happiness. They have far too much sense not to see the vast
superiority of civilized over uncivilized habits; & yet I am afraid
to the latter they must return.