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Had the funds of the mission admitted of the purchase of a vessel of a hundred tons burden, the mission party would have been comparatively independent. As soon as it became dangerous to remain on shore, they would have found a secure refuge on ship-board; and, in the event of their provisions failing, they could easily have proceeded for supplies to Port Famine or the Falkland Isles. In that case, they would also have been saved the fatigue and anxiety of hiding their stores where there was great risk of the natives finding them; and instead of creeping round these dreary coasts in boats too small to weather a storm, and which could scarcely offer them a dry berth when the day was done, they would have faced the blast with some confidence, and they would, at least, have lodged in comfort.
As it was, with their shallop launches, as soon as the Ocean Queen took leave of them they were almost as completely imprisoned in the Fuegian islands as was Alexander Selkirk in Juan Fernandez; and to reach a Christian settlement across such turbulent seas, would have been little less than a miracle. On the other hand, as Mr Ritchie represented to Captain Gardiner, the chances of European vessels visiting their rendezvous were very small, and it would have required a powerful inducement to tempt any to such a dangerous deflexion from their usual course.
But with a noble ardor the leader of the expedition longed to enter on his cherished project. He knew that there were fish in the sea, and abundance of birds on the shore. He had with him provisions for six months; and before these should be expended he calculated on fresh supplies from England. And although none knew better the wildness of these waters, should it be found impossible to propitiate the natives, he trusted that on some unfrequented coast, or afloat in some tranquil cove, he and his comrades might hold out till more effectual means were placed at their disposal.
Already, however, several elements in this calculation were annihilated.
To say nothing of the unsuitableness of low-decked boats, whose iron roofs condensed the vapor and kept a perpetual rain dripping on the berths and floors, their serviceableness from the first was materially impaired by the loss of the two “ dingies,” which were intended as a communication between the launches and the land. By a fearful oversight the gunpowder was left in the ship, and it was now on its way to San Francisco; and although there were fowling-pieces and good marksmen in the party, they had less power to secure the game with which they were surrounded than the savages who had nothing but their slings. And, although they had brought with them a net, this also they were destined to lose ; so that, in a climate beyond all others requiring warm shelter and generous diet, these devoted men soon found themselves without cordials, without animal food, without dry clothing, without a single material comfort.
But not to anticipate the narrative, we resume the Journal of our meek and cheerful missionary
“ Lennox Cove, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 1851.-Another eventful period has elapsed, and introduced new scenes, and brought fresh trials; but, praise God, the good providence of God has been marvellously manifested. As previously mentioned, the natives caused us some alarm, by their mustering together at an early hour on the morning of Tuesday the 24th December; but we could not be sure, though we had a strong suspicion, that their intentions on that occasion were hostile. They passed on, and did not return till Thursday the 26th, when they shewed a decidedly pacific spirit, but we were surprised to see nothing more of them after that time. We did not know whether they left the Cove the same evening or the morning following ; nor did we know their
motive for leaving again. It might be that they were planning some mischief against us, or it might be that they were going to fish. We, however, cheerfully entrusted our keeping to God, and determined to wait the order of events, and to act as circumstances should direct.
“ That the Fuegians were not to be trusted, and that our property was a great excitement to their cupidity, and that they would go any length to gain possession of it, we were now well assured. The art of dissimulation is very perfect among them: when they were few in number, and while the ship was present, their demeanor was quiet enough ; but when they were upon a par with us, the ship being gone, matters were altogether altered.
« The boldness and troublesome conduct of the party who disturbed us whilst in our tents on Garden Island, afforded us one striking instance of their disposition. On that occasion, there were only three or four of them; yet we had some difficulty to keep them from thrusting themselves into our tents, and repeatedly since then we had occasion to notice the haughtiness of their bearing and the forwardness of their conduct. This was more particularly the case with the individual whom, for the sake of distinction, we named Jemmy. This man was very well formed and featured, and most active in his habits : unusual energy and quickness of mind were very perceptible in him. But all this was for evil, and not for good: he was the ring