29th June 1834

[from: Conrad Martens' Sketchbooks]*
In the morning, many of the poor people who had houses on the point, rowed off to us in their little boats; it was quite pleasing to see the unaffected joy with which they welcomed the Ship & those who were formerly in her. They told us that the money they gained from cutting wood &c &c had enabled them to buy sheep & that they had ever since been much better off. They all appear to have a great mixture of Indian blood & widely differ from almost every other set of Spaniards in not being Gauchos. The country is so thickly wooded that neither horses or cattle seem to increase much. Potatoes & pigs & fish are the main articles of food; the obtaining these requires labor, & has consequently induced a different set of manners from what is found in other parts of S. America. — In the middle of the day I took a short walk, following up one of the winding creeks: Seen from a considerable distance the country bears a very close resemblance to T. del Fuego; the country is hilly & entirely clothed in thick wood, excepting a few scattered green patches which have been cleared near to the Cottages. — The woods are incomparably more beautiful than those of T. del Fuego, instead of the dusky uniformity of that country we have the variety of Tropical scenery; excepting in Brazil I have never seen such an abundance of elegant forms. — Chiloe, situated on the West coast, enjoys a very uniform temperature, & an atmosphere saturated with moisture; the soil resulting from Volcanic ashes appears very fertile; hence arises the teeming luxuriance of the forests. — The high thatched roofs of the cottages with the little railed paddocks of grass surrounded by lofty evergreens, reminded me of some drawings of the houses in the S. Sea Islands. — This resemblance to Tropical scenery is chiefly to be attributed to a sort of arborescent grass or Bamboo, which twines amongst the trees to the height of 30 or 40 feet & renders the woods quite impervious. — to this may be added some large ferns, the trees also are all evergreens, & the stems are variously coloured white, & red &c. — This walk called to my mind all the delights of the sublime scenery of Brazil.
* The background is occupied by dense leafy woodland, with tree tops of even height in the left and centre of the picture. The trees are not so tall in the centre right and right, and one is apparently broken off. There is a taller clump to the right. In the left midground, the right-hand half of a thatched and probably timber-and-straw single storey building is depicted, with a human figure squatting at its right-hand end facing the viewer. Further to the right a pig is scavenging in the shadow cast by the building. In the foreground the ground slopes gently from left to centre, with a scattering of grass clumps. In front of the building there are two possibly dead thin treetrunks with no remaining branches or foliage. The annotation reads: "this cottage -- new and of a light brown", and below that: "The houses have no chimneys, and the smoke issues from all parts of the roof --". In the centre midground, to the right of the building and behind the human figure and the pig, there is some indication of fencing installed in front of the woodland, to the right of which stands a second single-storey building, apparently constructed with timber uprights, with a somewhat `anvil'-shaped roof as in 18a. The right-hand half of this building is obscured by a rectangular open-fronted stockade of upright tree stems of uneven heights. There are clumps of grass in the foreground below the second building and the stockade, below which the annotation reads: "black with smoke".

No comments: