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character, the forest is composed of coniferous trees, which have a very different aspect, and at the corresponding season they are, I imagine, usually so laden with snow that they can give little relief to the eye.

I was struck by the fact that, although we had travelled southward five and a half degrees of latitude (nearly four hundred English miles) since entering the Gulf of Peñas, the upper limit of the forest belt was so little depressed. I could not estimate the average depression at more than from two to three hundred feet.

As we advanced into the main channel, and were drawing near to the headland of Cape Tamar, where the Straits of Magellan are narrowed between that and the opposite coast of the Land of Desolation, we noticed that what seemed from a distance to be a mere film of vapour lying on the surface of the sea grew gradually thicker, rose to a height of about one hundred feet, and quite abruptly, in the space of two or three ship's lengths, we lost the bright sky and the wonderful panorama, and were plunged in a fog that lasted through the greater part of the afternoon. The one constant characteristic of the climate of this region is its liability at all seasons to frequent and abrupt change, especially by day. It is, as I learned, a rare event when a day passes without one or two, or even more frequent, changes of the wind, bringing corresponding changes of temperature, rain, or snow, or clear sky; but, as a rule, the weather is less inconstant in winter than at other seasons. A short experience makes it easy to understand the extreme difficulty of navigation in the Straits for sailing ships,

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and the expediency of preferring the less inviting course of rounding Cape Horn.

Several times during the day the fog cleared away for a while, and gave us grand views of the coast on either hand. That of the Land of Desolation especially attracted my attention. Captain Willsen pointed out to me, as we stood on the bridge, to which I had free access, the opening of a narrow sound which has lately been ascertained to penetrate entirely through what used to be considered a single island. The expressive name must, indeed, be abandoned, for, if I am not mistaken, the Land of Desolation of our maps is already known to consist of three, and may possibly form many more islands, divided from each other by very narrow channels. Our cautious commander resolved once again to anchor for the night, and selected for the purpose Borya Bay, a small sheltered cove some distance east of Port Gallant, a harbour often visited by the English surveying-expeditions. Daylight had departed when, about half-past five, we reached our anchorage ; but the sky was again quite clear, and we enjoyed the weird effects of moonlight illumination. The scenery is very grand, and was more wintry in aspect than at any other point in our voyage. A mountain at the head of the cove rose steeply to a height of at least two thousand feet, and cast a dark shadow over the ship as we lay very near the shore. The shores were begirt with the usual belt of forest, but this did not extend far, and the declivities all around were clad with snow, which lay rather deep. It appeared to me that a rather large glacier descended to within



a few hundred feet of the shore, but, seen by the imperfect light, I felt uncertain as to the fact. Since entering the Straits, I had noticed that on the steeper slopes facing the south, where the surface can receive but little sunshine at any season, the forest ascends but a short distance above the sea-level. Above that limit in such situations I observed only a scanty covering of bushes, and higher up the surface at this season appeared quite bare.

As Borya Bay is one of the customary haunts of the Fuegians, the steam-whistle was sounded on our arrival as an invitation to any natives who might be encamped there. This always suffices to attract them, with the hope of being able to gratify their universal craving for tobacco. The appeal was not answered, as the people were doubtless on the outer coasts, and we not destined to anything of the most miserable of all the races of man.

As the weather remained bright, the anchor was raised soon after midnight, and by one a.m. we were on our way, steering south-east, to round the southern extremity of the mainland of America. . Awaking to the disappointment of having missed a view of one of the most interesting portions of the Straits, I hurried on deck, and found a new change in the aspect of the skies. The night had been cold, with a sharp frost; but in the morning, soon after daybreak, the air felt quite warm, with the thermometer marking 39° Fahr. A northerly breeze had set in, and as an inevitable result brought thick weather.

I again noticed, however, that the barometer on these coasts






CAUREANA seems to be very slightly affected by changes in the wind's direction. It stood last night at 30°16 inches, and on the morning of the roth, with a complete change of weather, had fallen only eight-hundredths of an inch.

The southern end of the continent is shaped like a broad wedge, whose apex is Cape Froward, laying in south latitude 53° 54'. We passed it early in the forenoon, giving the headland, which we saw dimly to the north, a broad berth, so that we about touched the 54th parallel. If we compare this with the climate of places in about the same latitude, as, for instance, with that of the Isle of Man, we are apt to consider the climate as severe ; but we habitually forget how far the condition of Western Europe is affected by exceptional circumstances; and if we look elsewhere in the northern hemisphere, taking, for instance, the Labrador coast, the south of Kamschatka, or even the coast of British Columbia, we must admit that the Straits of Magellan afford no confirmation to the prevalent ideas respecting the greater cold of the climate of the southern hemisphere.

Soon after this turning-point of the voyage the sky partially cleared to the southward, and we were fortunate enough to enjoy one of the most impressive scenes that my memory has recorded. The broad sound that divides Clarence Island from the main island of Tierra del Fuego lay open before us, flanked on either hand by lofty snow-clad summits. In the background, set as in a frame, rose the magnificent peak of Mount Sarmiento, the Matterhorn of this region, springing, as it appeared, from the shore to a

height of seven thousand feet.* Sole sovereign of these antarctic solitudes, I know of no other peak that impresses the mind so deeply with the sense of wonder and we. As seen from the north, the eastern and western faces are almost equally precipitous, and the broad top is jagged by sharp teeth, of which the two outermost, one to the east, the other to the west, present summits of apparently equal height. At a distance of about twenty-five miles the whole mass seemed to be coated with snow and ice, save where some sharp ridges and teeth of black rock stood out against the sky. I remained for some time utterly engrossed by the marvellous spectacle, and at last bethought myself of endeavouring to secure at least an outline of the scene; but before I could fetch a sketch-book, a fresh change in the weather partly obscured, and, a few minutes later, finally concealed from my eyes a picture that remains vividly impressed on my memory.

It was impossible not to speculate on the origin and past history of this remarkable peak. Admitting that there is evidence to show that the larger part of the rocks of this region are of volcanic origin, it appeared to me evident not only that Mount Sarmiento is not a volcanic cone, but that the rock of which it is composed is not of volcanic origin. Whether its real form be that of a tower, or that of a ridge with precipitous sides seen in profile, no volcanic rocks elsewhere in the world can retain slopes so

* I am not aware that the concurrent conclusions as to the height of this mountain have been verified by accurate observations, but the height commonly given appears to be a close approximation to the truth.

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