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tallow, are, commercially, the beginning side and the principal buildings on the and ending of the Falklands. With re- other. The buildings of the Falkland gard to the tallow, it is hinted that in Islands' Company occupy a considerthese days of petroleum products it is able part of the eastern end of the no longer to reappear as candles, but as settlement. This company, which has an edible substance, the sale of which an affinity, on a smaller scale, with the has required a recent Act of Victoria for old Honorable East India Company, or its legislation. with the Hudson Bay Company, was incorporated by royal charter in 1851, having acquired by purchase the rights of one Mr. Lafone to a large tract of country on the East Falkland, since known as Lafonia.
The Falkland group is made up of the East and West Falkland Islands, and of a large number of small islands, only a few of which are inhabited, and which, together with rocks and reefs, number over one hundred. Their general appearance is wild and desolate, but the distant heights are often grand in outline, and the sunset coloring of them, with the soft mauve and ochre peculiar to barren mountain regions, recalls the similar tinting of some Spanish scenery.
Of course nothing can atone for the want of that verdure which Great Britons admire so pre-eminently at home, or for the total absence of trees throughout the islands. "Our only tree," declared a colonist, "is the bulrush," and upon inquiry, even this was discovered to be an empty boast.
Much of the coast scenery is remarkable. Towering headlands rise from waves lashing fiercely at their base; columns of spray burst upwards, geyser-like, through fissures in the shelving rocks; beneath lie piled huge crags, hurled headlong in some outburst of incarcerated force, the interrupted strata at all angles to their surroundings—a scene of one of Dame Nature's mighty house-movings where no succeeding forest covers the confusion of her flight, but chaos reigns unveiled and staring.
As seen from the harbor, Stanley, the principal settlement, which is on the East Falkland, has much the appearance of a box of toys, or of the style of picture with which Caldecott made us familiar; such is the impression produced by the flat white surface of the painted houses and their cheerful colored roofs.
The settlement lies on the southern shore of the harbor, and a road runs the length of it, having the harbor on one
The company, in addition to other trading operations, have workshops and a staff of men employed for repairing the disabled vessels which may put in here the worse for their attempts to weather the Horn. Sometimes a ship, with coal cargo smouldering, will put in; and in 1893 one was in such straits that the crew could scarcely be persuaded to jettison the red-hot mass, and the presence of the captain's wife was necessary for their encouragement, whilst the thermometer burst in the cabin.
More recently, a Belfast barque was towed in in sorry plight. Her cargo had shifted in heavy weather off the Horn, and she had lain for many hours with half her main deck under water, until, by dint of trimming coal for eighteen hours on end, and cutting away her topmasts, she had been sufficiently righted to creep into Port William, outside Stanley Harbor, with a favoring wind. Here she would have ended on the rocks but for H.M.S. Acorn, which, happily, was visiting Stanley, and which started at once to the rescue, being sighted from afar by her commander, ashore with a shooting-party, who, amazed at seeing his “heart of oak,” steaming along full speed under a subordinate officer, started after her in his pinnace to know the reason why. The rescued ship was safely brought into Stanley Harbor, with extra glory for one of those employed, who performed the feat of cutting away under water a befouling towline.
From the extensive plant required for ship repairs, and the high wages current, it follows that the charges for
such work should be heavy. Indeed, that a ship should not attempt navigaso large have they been in some instances, that it would have profited the owners and underwriters better to abandon the ship; and this has been done in several cases, and the hulks purchased by the Falkland Islands' Company as store-ships.
tion amongst it. Indeed, one might, in a moment of recognition, attribute to Providence, besides the designing of the trade winds for his benefit, a special care for the interests of poor Jack in the danger signal of the kelp. The masses of weed, growing as they do outside Hill Cove on the West Falkland, for example, constitute a natural breakwater, destroying much of the energy of the incoming billows, which undulate crestshaven through the tanglement to vent a greatly diminished fury on the shore.
In a letter from Mrs. Carlyle to her husband, headed Liverpool, July 25th, 1845, she says: "I did the Great Britain. It is three hundred and twenty feet long and fifty feet broad, and all of iron, and has six sails, and one pays a shilling to see it, and it was not a good joy."
Navigation about the islands is both intricate and startling. One of the smaller islands, Pebble Island, is approached by two narrow passes, socalled, the North-West and Tamar Pass. In the North-West Pass, at the best of times, a sailing vessel must be piloted on a five-knot current through kelp run under by the tide. Steam-power is not used about the Falklands, where coal is only available at sixty shillings a ton. Through Tamar Pass pours a still fiercer current; and in these boiling waters the schooner lone, losing her rudder, was dashed upon the rocks and wrecked, her crew and passengers escaping in the boat with some hazard and the loss of all their effects. It is said, by the by, that when the naming of the Falkland Islands' Company's new ship was under discussion in 1893, an official of the company, mindful of certain figure-heads of heathen nymphs under which he had served, proposed to add to their number by christening the new ship the Hebe. The managing director met this with stern refusal. "We have been told," he said, "already of the 'Black 'Awk' and the 'Sparrow'awk' in the islands, and I am not going to risk the ''Eab.'" That he had cause for his distrust of Falkland parlance may be allowed when one hears a hapless "orchid" converted into "orchard," whilst "Ione" is confidently affirmed to be "I-1," for "I saw it written, sir, with my own eyes;" and beyond "I-own," it has not even now advanced; whilst "I-rene" in two syllables is equally curtailed.
The curiosities of meteorology in
Here in Stanley Harbor, fifty years later, is moored the great hulk of Brunel's big vessel, now used as a receiving-ship for the wool coming in from the coast ports. A relic of her is incorporated in the ship Talisman, which was once repaired in Stanley, a new bowsprit being constructed for her out of the Great Britain's foreyard.
There are many fine natural harbors in the islands, though most of them are difficult of access, especially to sailing vessels. Port Edgar, on the West Falkland, is spoken of as the one which will be utilized should the Falklands become a naval station in the future. In most of these harbors are wrecks, generally of some local schooner; whilst on the unlighted coast many vessels have been lost with all hands, their identity often perishing with them.
It is said that there is only one sunken rock of any importance about the Falklands, which is not indicated by kelp growing upon it, and this exception is the "Uranie," on the east coast of the East Falkland, which was named from a hapless French frigate which foundered upon it in 1820.
All navigators and surveyors of these islands have noted the giant seaweed and its uses. As they point out, the presence of fixed kelp is a sign almost infallible of the presence of rocks; and although, in some instances, soundings may reveal a depth of even thirty or forty fathoms, through which the seaplant rises upwards from its rocky anchorage, yet it may be taken generally
these islands would perhaps repay a leisured observer; they appear to baffle all experience; even the pilot of thirty years' standing will own to being completely taken aback by developments of weather. It generally blows hard for three days a week, whilst about Easter time a yearly hurricane justifies tradition, causing damage or even loss amongst the shipping in harbor.
The great Good Friday gale of 1893 drove every boat in Darwin Harbor, on the East Falkland, ashore, and ended the days of the Castalia, a coasting schooner belonging to the Falkland Islands' Company, and once a famous yacht. She was lying at anchor in Gull Harbor, Weddell Island, when this gale came down, as gales do in the Falklands, like a house falling on one, and caught her in this harbor, where the rarer gales from the south-east are felt in all their fury, and before chain could be given her, she had dragged too far for it to help her, and nothing remained for the crew but to scramble ashore over her bows as she piled herself up on a shelf of rocks off the settlement. That gale was curiously varied in its time of visitation to different parts of the islands. It is said to have commenced about 2.30 A.M. in Weddell Island.
That morning a local pilot was on board the trading barque Ruth Waldron in Port San Salvador, about a hundred miles east of Weddell. They had hove short the anchor before eight o'clock breakfast, intending to start directly afterwards, there being then and there no sign of anything extraordinary. After breakfast the captain, looking round on deck, observed a strange appearance in the sky, with a brilliant rainbow, and he and the pilot decided to wait and see what it meant. Soon after the gale fell upon him in all its fury. Even allowing for some undoubted irregularity in clock-keeping, the time of visitation furnished an interesting token of the peculiar path of the storm about the islands. It is not surprising that the settlers in such an "ultimate dim Thule" find it hard to keep their clocks and the sun together. VOL. XV. 747
One morning a settler came off from shore to a newly anchored ship in one of the smaller islands. The skipper and his family were sitting at breakfast about 8.30 and thought him rather an early bird, but no more. The man who had accompanied him from the shore was not, however, of a similar opinion with regard to the ship's company. "Here's a pretty time for folks to be breakfasting aboard ship!" was his growling comment to the cook for'ard. Upon comparison with his perplexed hearer, it was discovered that the clocks ashore were two good hours ahead of the sun, hence his wrath at the sloth of an eleven o'clock breakfast. By help of the ship's chronometer and the sixty-first meridian, which passes through that particular settlement, this was all put right, the settler freely confiding in such measures, though at another settlement, where the skipper incautiously proffered an altitude for the purpose of righting disordered time-pieces, he was assured that there was no demand, as the correct time was always obtained by means of a certain scratch upon a windowpane, a method the inhabitants clearly considered as very superior to the operations of the sextant.
The writer had a considerable experience, a few years ago, of Falkland coasting, having visited most of the settlements on board the company's Thetis, which comes out annually from England with all manner of stores, and spends several months delivering the same round the islands, and taking the settlers' wool into Stanley for the mail steamers of the Kosmos Line to ship to England. The Thetis is a small steel barquentine of about three hundred and forty tons gross, and was built for the company in 1893, under Lloyd's special survey, by Messrs. Macmillan of Dumbarton; and, with especial regard to the dangerous navigation of the Falklands, she was constructed with a double bottom and intervening tanks for water ballast. Her decks throughout are of teak-wood, affording great stability, and no effort has been spared to make her deserving
of her century, of Lloyd's, and of favorable terms of insurance.
On Thetis we spent many weeks, and endured many things during her efforts to get the upper hand of the weather. A pilot and an officer of customs were our fellow-travellers. The revenue of the Falklands, which are a Crown colony, depends largely on the drink duties, and Mr. Poppy is sent round on the merchant ships by the government to guard against unlawful landing of liquor at the different ports. Mr. Poppy is a man of reading, and is quite prepared to discuss the "fourth R.," or the position of the Russian autocrat. "Yes," he says, "I would rather be plain John Poppy than the czar of Russia any day."
Well said, O Poppy, whose duties lie with wax and seal (or tailor's button, if they want the seal ashore) and a polite if careful scrutiny of landed cargo, with occasional tapping of a guilty looking barrel, to end in vinegar and vituperation. Many a half-hour of discussion had we passed with Poppy on the afterhatch before the cargo was replaced by the inexcisable fleeces.
Charlie Gibbert was our pilot-one of the many Charlies of the Falklands, from African "Black Charlie" to "Charlie the Masher," a Swedish Adonis at a coast settlement.
It is said that a boat-load of shipwrecked sailors once landed on the Falklands, and saw approaching down the beach Black Charlie aforesaid. Beholding in him a cannibal chief, attired in the garments of the latest victim, they turned to the mercies of the deep, and put to sea with the fervor of terror, leaving their would-be rescuer arrested with astonishment at their incomprehensible flight from his benevolence. Black Charlie is now skipper of the private yawl at Pebble Island, having lost his command of the Ione on the day on which she foundered in Tamar Pass before mentioned.
We were once at anchor for a week in Gull Harbor, Weddell Island, and being somewhat weary of the vast stretches of moorland which, whatever compensation they may have to the
colonists in the splendid pasturage they afford to the sheep, alike their wealth and occupation, are nevertheless very dreary to the eye, we thought that we ought to climb a hill and see how the country looked from the top. So on a warm, calm morning we started up Mount Weddell (twelve hundred and fifty feet); first, over a fence or two, through thick, dry fern like polypodium, only with glossy leaves; up higher, where green and orange moss straggled over the ground amidst the dun-colored herbage; then across a stone-run, jumping from one great boulder to another to reach the softer ground beyond the stony torrent. These stone-runs have furnished much matter for speculation, and if our memory holds good, it was Darwin who pointed out their probable origin in glacial surroundings-the moraine still spread upon the mountain-side, whence ice has long since melted away. So perhaps will appear the mountains of Switzerland when icebergs meet their dissolution in Lac Léman, whence steamer traffic shall ere that have been ousted by the flying fleet of Hiram. Upwards still we go, with a blazing sun now beating on our backs. A cold country, forsooth! We are panting now for a gale to cool the air, with a handkerchief tucked into our hat and collar to preserve from sunstroke. With joy we gain the summit, and cast our limbs upon a granite slab aloft to rest awhile.
Since then we have experienced the necessity of holding on to the jagged peaks aloft to steady ourselves in the blast, when only a fresh breeze was blowing in the plain below. Far and wide below us now is camp-land, motionless, except for shimmering of heated air, or for the moving shadow where horsemen are driving the flocks towards the stream for "dipping." Below is "Circum" Island, named on the New Year's day of its discovery, and the mainland of the West Falkland farther off still, with sea between
blue and shining waters with oily streaks kelp-calmed, and in some bay the curve of surf moving so slowly
and noiselessly upwards, as eye and brain aver in self-deceived conjunction. Below us, too, is Thetis and her cargo-raft half-way to shore, with flashing oars made silver by the water and the sun, and Castalia lying helpless, gleaming virid as the coppered roof of La Madeleine; and again, farther to the north, the sheds and the more distant houses of the settlement. Down hill we go, with a pleasant breeze now rising in our face, to the hospitable camphouse, where a gentle shepherdess has a welcome and a meal, and her own gracious company awaiting us.
times eaten, being by no means So fishy as might be supposed, but rather flavorless in comparison with a hen's egg. The gentu lays an egg about four times the size of a hen's egg, with a shell of a beautiful bluegreen color, and a blood-red yolk. These answer well enough for cooking purposes, coloring everything with a rich apricot tint. The large white eggs of the mollyhawk, or mollymauk, a bird of the albatross kind, are considered better than those of the penguin; and that there is some demand for the various kinds may be gathered from the fact that a schooner, laden with eggs, recently returned from the West Falkland Island to Stanley and sold her cargo within a few hours at the rate of sixteen shillings a hundred. Hens' eggs are scarce in that settlement. The eggs of the tern and oystercatcher slightly resemble the plovers' eggs, which are destroyed wholesale by London epicures. There is a great variety of gulls round the islands, and several kinds of carrion birds, which perform a useful office in devouring the refuse of the thousands of sheep slaughtered annually, but some of which are detestable to the settlers from their treatment of the young lambs, whose eyes they will pluck out at the moment of birth. Gunpowder warfare has therefore been waged with them, and their numbers have greatly diminished; still, the fringed wings of the "Johnny Rook" are seen hovering aloft, and the crafty eye of the turkey-buzzard (a different bird from his American namesake) marks its prey at closer quarters when killing is going on. These birds are incredibly impudent, and have been known to carry off a knife laid down for a moment during skinning operations.
The "stinker" and sea-hen are aquatic birds of a dirty brown color. A white "stinker" was once reported, but is at any rate extremely rare. Shags abound; also the logger-head or steamer-duck, which, when disturbed, flaps clumsily through the water, churning up the foam in its wake. This bird, like several other amphibi
As some small set-off against the dun-colored wastes, many of the islets are covered with the giant tussac grass, which grows in huge tufts, far higher than a man, and forms a firstrate food for cattle, for which purpose it is regularly gathered. Amongst the tussac, in holes burrowed deep in the earth, live the penguins, of which several varieties are found, the common "jackass" black and white, filling the twilight with discordant brayings, the "rocky," with a yellow tuft upon its head, and the "gentu," with a grebelike breast, and beak, claws, and topknot of bright scarlet. Stray specimens of the great king penguin have also been found, but no rookery of them appears to exist. In winter most of these penguins leave their holes and journey to the South American continent, making their mysterious passage with that instinctive surety which leaves man so far behind, and they will return next season to inhabit the very burrows they deserted, some of the birds having been marked by the settlers before migration for purposes of observation.
When pursued they rush for their holes, flippers waving, and looking much like a crowd of irate barristers, or plunge into the waves, diving in long sweeps beneath the water with great strength and swiftness. The foolish jackass, although providing itself with a snug nursery, makes its nest and lays two or three eggs at the mouth of its hole. The eggs are some.