Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

CHAPTER X.

Conclusion.

WITH offerings of devotion,

Ships from the isles shall meet,
To pour the wealth of ocean

In tribute at his feet.

For he shall have dominion

O’er river, sea, and shore,
Far as the eagle's pinion,
Or dove's light wing can soar.

Psalm lxxii. 8, 10.-James Montgomery.

When we look abroad on a world that is rent with woe, and bur. dened with the curse, how gladly vught we to turn to the prophetic picture of the same world, clothed with the verdure of righteousness and peace, love and joy! When we behold the wretched multitudes everywhere ground down by oppression, how cheering to think of the happy period when kings shall be the nursing-fathers and queens the nursing-mothers of their people—when justice will everywhere be seen holding up her even scales—and the genius of charity opening, on the most barbarous shores, new founts of blessing that shall never more be sealed !Dr Duff.

We never hear of a great catastrophe without seeing, or fancying that we see, how it might have been averted. And it is a relief from the sharpness of sorrow to be allowed to criticise the conduct of others, and to point out the simple precautions which ought to have been adopted. In concluding the foregoing narrative, many will feel that this entire mission was sadly mismanaged. They will condemn the initial blunder which induced seven men, divided betwixt two little boats, to venturo into seas so wild, and among savages so treacherous; and in such an expedition they will say that a strong ship, ably manned, was the true economy. They will lament the over-sanguine calculation which, for an imprisonment of uncertain duration, provided supplies so very limited; and they will allege that it was not prudent generalship, but a foolhardy trust in the chapter of accidents, which, for its commissariat, drew on the uncaught fish and fowl of Fuegia, and the unpurchased beef

1

of Montevideo. They will lift up their hands at the successive fatalities which left the ammunition on ship-board, which lost the fishing-nets, and which, the very first day they were used, let the dingies go adrift. They will point out expedients which might from time to time have been tried with advantage ; and, with the precedent of long voyages in whale-boats and wherries, they will wonder why the adventurers did not seek to escape in their launches to some more friendly shore. And, in the fair distribution of reproof, they will blame the directors who allowed their agents to depart so scantily provided, and who permitted nine months instead of six to elapse betwixt the sailing of the Ocean Queen and the despatch of additional supplies.

We do not deprecate discussion, and we are assured that the community eventually gains much from the freedom with which the proceedings of associations and official personages are reviewed by the organs of public opinion. And it is only candid to add that we have felt in full force some of the regrets which have been expressed in regard to this Patagonian Mission. But it ought to be remembered that the scanty equipment of the expedition was necessitated by the want of funds. None knew better than Captain Gardiner the desirableness of a large sloop or brig; but as this was utterly unattainable, he resolved to do his best with such launches as the Society could afford.

And although an ample supply of provisions would have been a great security, the boats could scarcely carry more ; and believing that in the directors at home, in correspondents at Montevideo, and in the produce of the islands, he had three strings to his bow, the leader of the enterprise again yielded to his too chivalrous anxiety to spare the funds of a Society whose treasury was low, and whose friends were few. On the other hand, to account for the disasters of Banner Cove and Lennox Harbour, we would need to exchange places with the devoted band, and imagine ourselves an inexperienced crew of seven persons, two of them mere landsmen, divided betwixt two vessels, contending with ceaseless tempests, drenched in rain, pierced with cold, disheartened by hunger and disease, and only left the wretched choice betwixt a coast swarming with cannibals, and “ desolate places,” the domain of frost and hunger. And to account for the delay in forwarding supplies, we would need to exchange places with the office-bearers, and repeat the desperate search for a conveyance made by men whose freight was no inducement to ships of any value, and who had not the means wherewith to charter a vessel of their own.

But from all disputes about secondary causes, and from vain speculations about contingencies which cannot now be realised, the Christian will raise his thoughts to that “ determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” which ordained the

« IndietroContinua »