31st July 1832

[Image: TrekEarth - Montevideo seafront]
At one oclock we stood out of the Bay with a light fair wind. As we passed the Druid, we picked up Mr Hammond, a Midshipman belonging to her who has now joined the Beagle. Mr Hammond is a connection of poor little Musters.

Before sailing, I went ashore to the Town with the Captain; the appearance of the place does not speak much in its favor; it is of no great size; possesses no architectural beauties, & the streets are irregular & filthily dirty. It is scarcely credible that any degree of indolence would permit the roads to be in such a bad state as they are. The bed of a torrent with blocks of stone lying in mud. is an exact resemblance. It was distressing to see the efforts of the Bullocks, as harnessed by their horns to the clumsy carts they managed to stumble on amongst the stones. As far as regards the inhabitants, they are a much finer set than at Rio de Janeiro. Many of the men have handsome expressive faces & athletic figures; either of which it is very rare to meet with amongst the Portugeese. I believe in about a weeks time we shall return to M. Video & complete our equipment.

30th July 1832

I was busily employed with the collections of Saturday. The Captain this morning procured information of some old Spanish charts of Patagonia, which are now at Buenos Ayres. He immediately determined to run up there to see them.

29th July 1832

This morning we are pitching heavily, & occasionally a sea breaking over us. The weather is yet boisterous & the rain very cold.

28th July 1832

Landed early in the morning on the Mount. This little hill is about 450 feet high & being by far the most elevated land in the country gives the name Monte Video. The view from the summit is one of the most uninteresting I ever beheld. Not a tree or a house or trace of cultivation give cheerfulness to the scene. An undulating green plain & large herds of cattle has not even the charm of novelty. Whoever has seen Cambridgeshire if in his mind he changes arable into pasture ground & roots out every tree, may say he has seen Monte Video.

Although this is true, yet there is a charm in the unconfined feeling of walking. over the boundless turf plain: Moreover if your view is limited to a small space, many objects possess great beauty. Some of the smallest birds are most brilliantly coloured; much more so than those in Brazil. The bright green turf being browsed short by the cattle, is ornamented by dwarf flowers; amongst which to my eyes the Daisy claimed the place of an old friend. The only other plants of larger size are tall rushes & a thistle resembling much the Acanthus; this latter with its silvery foliage covers large spaces of ground.

I went on board with a party of midshipmen; who had been shooting & had killed several brace of Partridges & wild Ducks, & had caught a large Guano nearly about 3 feet long. These lizards at certain times of the year are reckoned excellent food.

The evening was calm & bright, but in the middle of night it blew a sudden gale. All hands were piped up to send Top-gallant masts on deck & to get in the Cutter: In such scenes of confusion, I am doubtful whether the war of the elements or shouts of the officers be most discordant.

27th July 1832

I had no opportunity of taking a long walk, so that I went with the Captain to Rat island. whilst he took sights. I found some animals & amongst them there was one very curious. At first sight every one would pronounce it to be a snake: but two small hind legs or rather fins marks the passage by which Nature joins the Lizards to the Snakes.

[Above: The mole at Montevideo]

26th July 1832

[Modern Montevideo]
We entered the bay about 9 oclock: just as we were coming to an anchor, signals were made from the Druid, a frigate lying here; which (to our utter astonishment & amusement) ordered us to "Clear for action" & shortly afterward "Prepare to cover our boats". We set sail again & the latter part of order was shortly explained by the arriving of 6 boats heavily armed with Carronades & containing about 70 marines, all ready for fighting, & more than 100 blue-jackets.

Captain Hamilton came on board & informed us that the present government is a military usurpation, and that the head of the party had seized upon 400 horses, the property of a British subject; & that in short the flotilla of boats went to give weight to his arguments. The revolutions in these countries are quite laughable; some few years ago in Buenos Ayres, they had 14 revolutions in 12 months, things go as quietly as possible; both parties dislike the sight of blood; & so that the one which appears the strongest gains the day. The disturbances do not much affect the inhabitants of the town, for both parties find it best to protect private property.

The present governor has about 260 Gaucho cavalry & about same number of Negro infantry, the opposite party is now collecting a force & the moment he enters the town the others will scamper out. Mr Parry (a leading merchant here) says he is quite certain a 150 men from the Frigate could any night take M: Video. The dispute has terminated by a promise of restitution of the horses; but which I do not think is very clear will be kept. — I am afraid, it is not impossible that the consequences will be very unpleasant to us: The Druids officers have not for some weeks been allowed to go on shore, & perhaps we shall be obliged to act in the same manner. How annoying will be the sight of green turf plains, whilst we are performing a sort of quarantine on board.

25th July 1832

[Satellite image clearly showing the very muddy nature of the Plate estuary]

Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo
A fine breeze has carried us to an anchor within six or seven miles of Monte Video. At about noon we passed between Maldonado & the little island of Lobos covered with seals. At some future time we shall lay in the harbor at Maldonado. the country in the neighbourhead is more uneven. than in the other parts of the coast, but from the sandy hillocks has a dreary uninteresting appearance. To day the water from its calmness & reddish muddy colour looked like that of a river: of course however the Southern bank is far beyond the reach of vision. The fresher discoloured water from its less specific gravity floats on the surface of the salt; this was curiously shown by the wake of the vessel, where a line of blue might be seen mingling in little eddies with the adjoining fluid, in this case instead of stirring up the mud, it was the reverse & stirred up the clear water.

24th July 1832

Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo
The wind yet continues dead on end against us, & as there is a strong current setting out we make scarcely any progress. The same line of low & green coast is to be seen as yesterday only not quite so near. It is quite curious, how much I have suffered from the cold. The thermometer stands above 50°, & I am loaded with clothes; yet judging from my feelings I should have thought it a very cold English winter day. Others in the vessel have not experienced this so strongly, so that I presume my constitution in a shorter time becomes habituated to a warm climate, & therefore on leaving it more strongly feels the contrary extreme.

I procured this evening a Watch-bill & as most likely our crew will for rest of the voyage remain the same. — I will copy it.

Boatswains mates. J. Smith & W. Williams
Quarter-Masters. J. Peterson. White. Bennett. Henderson
Forecastle Men, J. Davis, (gunmen Heard, Bosworthick (rope maker); Tanner; Harper (sail maker); Wills (armourer);
Fore top-men, Evans; Rensfrey; Door. Wright; Robinson; MacCurdy; Hare; Clarke;
Main top-men Phipps; J. Blight; Moore; Hughes; Johns B.; Sloane; Chadwick; Johns; Williams; Blight, B.; Childs;
Carpenters crew, Rogers; Rowe; J. May; James;
Idlers, Stebbing (instrument mender); Ash, gunroom steward; Fuller, Captains do; R. Davis, boy do; Matthews, missionary; E. Davis, Officers cook; G Phillips, ships cook; Lester, cooper; Covington, fiddler & boy to Poop-cabin; Billet, gunroom-boy;
Royal Marines, — Beareley, sergeant; William, Jones, Burgess, Bute, Doyle, Martin, Middleton, Prior (midshipmen steward);
Boatswain, Mr Sorrell; Carpenter, Mr May.
Midshipmen, Mrss Stewart, Usborne, Johnson, Stokes, Mellersh, King, Forsyth.
Hellyar, Captains clerk.
Mr Bino, acting surgeon;
Mr Rowlett, purser.
Mr Chaffers, Master.
Mr Sulivan, 2d Lieutenant;
Mr Wickham, 1st Lieutenant;
R. FitzRoy, Commander.

There are (including Earl, the Fuegians & myself) 76 souls on board the Beagle.

I hear the cable rattling through the Hawse-hole so we have come to an anchor for the night.

23rd July 1832

Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo
All day we have been beating up the river, & now at night are come to an anchor. We were generally at the distance of four or five miles from the Northern shore. Thus seen, it presented a most uniform appearance, a long straight line of sandy beach was surmounted by a sloping bank of green turf. On this viewed through a glass were large herds of cattle feeding. Not a tree broke the continuity of outline: & I only observed one hut, near to which was the Corral or enclosure of stakes, so frequently mentioned by all travellers in the Pampas. I am afraid we shall not even tomorrow reach M. Video.

22nd July 1832

Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo
We have had this morning a true specimen of the Plata weather. The lightning was most vivid, accompanied by heavy rain & gusts of wind. The day has been exceedingly cold & raw. We passed through large flocks of different sea-birds; and some insects & a bird very like a yellow hammer flew on board. We are about 50 miles from Cape St Marys. I have just been on deck, the night presents a most extraordinary spectacle: the darkness of the sky is interrupted by the most vivid lightning, St. Elmo's fire. The tops of our masts & higher yards ends shone with the Electric fluid playing about them, the form of the vane might almost be traced as if it had been rubbed with phosphorus. To complete these natural fire-works, the sea was so highly luminous that the Penguins might be tracked by the stream of light in their wake. As the night looked dirty & there were heavy showers squalls of rain & wind, we have dropped our anchor.
St. Elmo's Fire (a glowing light seen on the tops of masts caused by a discharge of atmospheric electricity which gives off a crackling or fizzing noise). Fortunately the Beagle was equipped with William Harris's new lightning conductors, which worked perfectly during the entire voyage.

21st July 1832

Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo
The weather to day felt just like an Autumnal day in England. In the evening the wind freshened & a thick fog came on. These are very frequent in the neighbourhead of the Plata, & we are only now about 50 miles from the Mouth. The night was dirty & squally: we were surrounded by Penguins & Seals which made such odd noises that in the middle watch Mr Chaffers went below to report to Mr Wickham that he heard cattle lowing on shore.

20th July 1832

Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo
There is a fine breeze but we can hardly keep our course. At noon we were 160 miles from Cape St Mary. We have experienced to day a most complete change of climate. From the joint cause of shoal water & probably a current from the South, the temperature of the sea at noon was 61°½, it being in the morning 68°½. The wind felt quite chilling; the thermometer standing at 59°. By the time we arrive in harbor, we shall have made a very bad passage & I am sure to me a very tedious one. The only thing I have been able to do is reading Voyages & Travels — these are now to me much more interesting than even novels.

17th, 18th & 19th July 1832

Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo
My eyes were rejoiced with the sight of studding sails, alow & aloft, — that is wind abaft the beam & favourable.

We are driving along at the rate 8 & 9 knots per hour. A wonderful shoal of Porpoises at least many hundreds in number crossed the bows of our vessel. The whole sea in places was furrowed by them; they proceeded by jumps, in which the whole body was exposed; & as hundreds thus cut the water it presented a most extraordinary spectacle. When the ship was running 9 knots these animals could with the greatest ease cross & recross our bows & then dash away right ahead. Thus showing off to us their great strength & activity. Several flying-fish were skimming over the water; considering time of year & Latitude 31° ., 37' S: Long 49°., 22' W, I was surprised to see them.

15th & 16th July 1832

Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo
From noon of yesterday to the same time to day we had run 160 knots & all congratulated ourselves on soon doubling Cape St Mary's. — On the contrary however we experienced the true uncertainty of a sailors life. — By the evening it blew a gale right in our teeth. — Top-gallant masts were sent on deck. — & with close reefed main top-sail, trysails & fore sails, we beat up against a heavy sea. —

We are about 80 miles from the Morro de St Martha. — It is a curious fact, that often as the different officers have passed this point they have always met a gale. — The Beagle, on her return to England from the last expedition, experienced the heaviest she had had during the whole time. — In the morning I was much interested by watching a large herd of Grampuses, which followed the ship for some time. — They were about 15 feet in length, & generally rose together, cutting & splashing the water with great violence. — In the distance some whales were seen blowing. — All these have been the black whale. — The Spermaceti is the sort which the Southern Whalers pursue. —

There was a good deal of sea up & I in consequence, with my spirits a good deal down.

12th, 13th & 14th July 1832

Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo
The wind yet continues foul, but light: we are only about 150 miles from Rio, & 700 from Cape St Mary's. A beautiful day; the bright sky & smooth water reminded me of the delightful cruises on the Tropical seas. But as now we are pressing all sail to the stormy regions of the South, the sooner such scenes are forgotten, the more tolerable will the present be. Everybody is full of expectation & interest about the undescribed coast of Patagonia. Endless plans are forming for catching Ostriches, Guanaco, Foxes &c.

Already in our day-dreams, have we returned heavily loaded with Cavies, Partridges, Snipes &c. I believe the unexplored course of the Rio Negro will be investigated. What can be imagined more exciting than following a great river through a totally unknown country? Every thing shows we are steering for barbarous regions, all the officers have stowed away their razors, & intend allowing their beards to grow in a truly patriarchal fashion. Fine day & a prosperous breeze.

11th July 1832

Rio de Janeiro to Monte Video
The day has passed in listless discomfort. If I had been well several things would have interested me during these latter days. The vessel has been followed by many sorts of Petrels. A very elegant one, the Cape-pidgeon, we met as is generally the case on passing the Tropic. Several Whales have been seen. I just had a peep at one, but to my jaundiced eyes it even possessed little interest.

10th July 1832

Rio de Janeiro to Monte Video
In the afternoon the calm was broken by a stiff breeze, almost a gale: (i.e. a very heavy one in a Landsman's eyes). We first lowered the Top-gallant yards, & then struck the masts. This was the first time that I have been able to look about, when there has been anything of a sea up. It was a beautiful spectacle to see how gracefully the Beagle glided over the waves, appearing as if by her own choice she avoided the heavy shocks. As the night came on, the sky looked very dirty, & the waves with their white crests dashed angrily against the ships sides. In the middle watch however the wind fell & was succeded by a calm: this is always the worst part of a gale, for the ship not being steadied by the wind pressing on the sails rolls in a most uncomfortable manner between the troughs of the sea.

7th, 8th & 9th July 1832

Rio de Janeiro to Monte Video
The weather has been most provoking; light variable breezes, a long swell, & I very sick & miserable. This second attack of sea-sickness has not brought quite so much wretchedness as the former one. But yet what it wants in degree is made up by the indignation which is felt at finding all ones efforts to do anything paralysed.

6th July 1832

Rio de Janeiro to Monte Video
Scarcely any wind. The Sugar Loaf is still in view & points out the entrance into Rio.

5th July 1832

Rio de Janeiro to Monte Video
A little after 9 oclock we tripped our anchor, & with a gentle breeze stood out of the bay. — Capts Talbot & Harding accompanied us beyond Santa Cruz. As we sailed past the Warspite & Samarang (our old Bahia friend). They manned the rigging & gave us a true sailor-like farewell, with three cheers. The band at the same time striking up "To glory you steer". The Captain had intended touching at Cape Frio, but as the Lightning did so. we made a direct course for the South. Near to the Isle de Raza the wind lulled, & we are now becalmed & shall probably remain so during the night:

The moon is now shining brightly on the glassy water. Every one is in high spirits at again being at sea & a little more wind is all that is wanted. The still & quiet regularity of the ship is delightful; at no time is "the busy hum of men" so strongly perceived as when leaving it for the open ocean.

4th July 1832

Rio de Janeiro
In the evening unmoored ship; now therefore it is certain we leave Rio in the morning. — I am very glad, as nothing can be more dull than lying in the harbour. And I always find the interval between sailing & the first day announced hangs heavily on hand.

3rd July 1832 - Comments on Slavery in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro
Went to the city. On landing, found the Palace Square crowded with people round the house of two money changers who were murdered yesterday evening in a more atrocious manner than usual. — It is quite fearful to hear what enormous crimes are daily committed & go unpunished. — If a slave murders his master, after being confined for some-time he then becomes a government one. — However great the charge may be against a rich man; he is certain in a short time to be free. — Everybody can here be bribed. — A man may become a sailor or a physician or any profession, if he can afford to pay sufficiently. — It has been gravely asserted by Brazilians that the only fault they found with the English laws was that they could not perceive rich respectable people had any advantage over the miserable & the poor.

The Brazilians, as far as I am able to judge, possess but a small share of those qualities which give dignity to mankind. Ignorant, cowardly, & indolent in the extreme; hospitable & good natured as long as it gives them no trouble; temperate, revengeful, but not quarrelsome; contented with themselves & their customs, they answer all remarks by asking "why cannot we do as our grandfathers before us did". — Their very appearance bespeaks their little elevation of character. — figures short, they soon become corpulent; and their faces possessing little expression, appear sunk between the shoulders. — The Monks differ for the worse in this latter respect; it requires little physiognomy to see plainly stamped persevering cunning, sensuality & pride. — One old man I always stop to look at, the only thing I ever saw like it, is Scoens Judas Iscariot.

All that I have said about the countenances of the priests, may be transferred to the voices of the older women. — Being surrounded by slaves, they become habituated to the harsh tones of command & the sneer of reproach. — Their manners are seldom softened by terms of endearment: they are born women, but die more like fiends. — It will be more readily believed, when I state that Mr Earl has seen the stump of the joint, which was wrenched off in the thumbscrew which is not unfrequently kept in the house.

The state of the enormous slave population must interest everyone who enters the Brazils. — Passing along the streets it is curious to observe the numbers of tribes which may be known by the different ornaments cut in the skin & the various expressions. — From this results the safety of the country. The slaves must communicate amongst themselves in Portugeese & are not in consequence united. — I cannot help believing they will ultimately be the rulers. I judge of it from their numbers, from their fine athletic figures, (especially contrasted with the Brazilians) proving they are in a congenial climate, & from clearly seeing their intellects have been much underrated. — they are the efficient workmen in all the necessary trades. — If the free blacks increase in numbers (as they must) & become discontented at not being equal to white men, the epoch of the general liberation would not be far distant.

I believe the slaves are happier than what they themselves expected to be or than people in England think they are. — I am afraid however there are many terrible exceptions. — The leading feature in their character appears to be wonderful spirits & cheerfulness, good nature & a "stout heart" mingled with a good deal of obstinacy. — I hope the day will come when they will assert their own rights & forget to avenge these wrongs.

2nd July 1832

Rio de Janeiro
Walked to Botofogo & called on the Admiral, Mr Aston & Mr Price. The latter I hope we shall again see at Valparaiso: He is afraid 17 years in Chili has quite unfitted him for any other country, & now on his road, he is sorry he ever attempted the change. It will make Valparaiso very pleasant if we are lucky enough to find him there.

1st July 1832

Rio de Janeiro
Attended divine service on board the Warspite: the ceremony was imposing; especially the preliminary parts such as the "God save the King", when 650 men took off their hats. — Seeing, when amongst foreigners, the strength & power of ones own Nation, gives a feeling of exultation which is not felt at home. — This ship would be in exactly the same state, if she was going to fight another battle of Trafalgar. — It is in the whole & its parts a most splendid piece of mechanism. — Can one wonder at pride in the Captain, when he knows that all & everything bends to his will? When standing on the Quarter deck, in the midst of such a crew, can there be imagined a more lofty situation?- After divisions (the men being all arranged along deck in the two watches), the head officers go the rounds of the whole ship. — I accompanied them, & thus well saw all the store-rooms &c. — Those who have never seen them will form no just idea of their cleanliness & extreme neatness. — After Church I was introduced to two officers who were fond of Nat: History: I was surprised to find in one of their cabins an aviary of Cape-birds & plants in frames. — I dined in the Wardroom & had a very agreeable party. — Coming from a ten-gun Brig into such comforts & luxuries, makes one a little envious. — So many corners unoccupied, appeared to my eyes. as great a waste as throwing good food overboard. — After the King’s health & "God save the King" the band played some beautiful music. — It was no common pleasure to hear the Overture to Figaro, Semiramides, Il Barbiere. After so long a fast, the appetite for Music becomes very keen.

Before I returned to the Beagle I saw all the hammocks carried down out of the nettings. — it is said that this rush of the men surprised Napoleon more than anything else on an English ship.