4th December 1833


At the Colorado, men who keep the lowest little shops used to dine with General Rosas. — A son of a Major at B. Bianca gains a livelihood by making paper cigars; he wished to come as Vaqueano with me to B. Ayres; but his father was afraid. — Many in the army can neither read or write; yet all meet on perfect terms of equality. — In Entre Rios the Sala contains 6 members. — One of these was a sort of shopman in a store, & evidently by no means degraded by such an employment. — This is all what might be expected in a new country; nevertheless the abscence of Gentlemen par excellence strikes one as a novelty.

My time at M. Video was spent in getting ready for our long cruize in Tierra del Fuego. — It was a pleasant employment preparing to leave for ever the uninteresting plains of the R. de La Plata.

The Beagle & Adventure are both ready for sea, with a fine stock of provisions & excellent crews. — The other day, there was an instance of the unaccountable manner in which seamen sometimes run away from a ship. Two men, petty officers in good favour & with 2 or 3 years pay owing them, ran away & the design must have been made sometime previously. — These men were allowed repeatedly to go on shore & held the first stations on board. — There is a degree of infatuation & childish want of steadiness in seamen, which to a landsman is quite incomprehensible & hardly to be credited. —

I called one day on Mr Hood, the Consul General, in order to see his house which had been a short time previously struck by lightning. — The effects were curious: the bell wires were melted & the red hot globules dropping on the furniture drilled small holes in a line beneath them — when falling on glass vessels, they melted & adhered to them. — Yet the room was at least 15 feet high & the wire close to the ceiling. — In one of the walls the electric fluid exploded like gunpowder, & shot fragments of bricks with such force as to dent the wall on the opposite side. Where the bell wire ran, the paper was blackened by the oxide of the metal for nearly a foot on each side; in a like manner the frame of a looking glass was blackened; the gilding must have been volatilized, for a smelling bottle which stood near was firmly coated with some of it. The windows were all broken & everything hanging up fell down by the Jar. It happened very early in the morning. When I was at B: Ayres a short time previous to this, the church was much shattered & a vessel lost her main-mast.

I ought not to conclude my few remarks on the Inhabitants of the Provinces of the R. de La Plata, without adding that a most perfect & spirited outline of their manners & customs will be found in "Heads rough notes".1 — I do not think that his picture is at all more exaggerated, than every good one must be-that is by taking strong examples & neglecting those of less interest. I cannot however agree with him "in the ten thousand beauties of the Pampas". But I grant that the rapid galloping & the feeding on "beef & water" is exhilarating to the highest pitch.

1 Head, Sir Francis Bond, Rough notes taken during some rapid journeys across the Pampas and among the Andes. London: John Murray, 1826.

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