When I paid 25 pounds for my place in the fine English barque, "John Renwick," Captain Bell, the latter promised me that he would be ready to sail on the 25th of November at the latest, and would stop at no intermediate port, but shape his course direct to Valparaiso. The first part of this promise I believed, because he assured me that every day he stopped cost him 7 pounds; and the second, because, as a general rule, I willingly believe every one, even ship captains. In both particulars, however, was I deceived; for it was not until the 8th of December that I received a notice to go on board that evening and then for the first time the captain informed me that he must run into Santos, to lay in a stock of provisions, which were there much cheaper than in Rio Janeiro; that he also intended clearing out a cargo of coal and taking in another of sugar. He did not tell me till we arrived in Santos itself, where he also assured me that all these different matters would not take him more than three or four days.

I took leave of my friends and went on board in the evening; Count Berchthold and Messrs. Geiger and Rister accompanying me to the ship.

Early in the morning of the 9th of December we weighed anchor, but the wind was so unfavourable that we were obliged to tack the whole day in order to gain the open sea, and it was not until about 10 A.M. that we lost sight of land.

There were eight passengers besides myself; five Frenchmen, one Belgian, and two citizens of Milan. I looked upon the latter as half countrymen of mine, and we were soon very good friends.

It was the second time this year that the two Italians were making the voyage round Cape Horn. Their first had not been fortunate; they reached Cape Horn in winter, which in those cold southern latitudes lasts from April till about November. {53} They were unable to circumnavigate the Cape, being driven back by violent contrary winds and storms, against which they strove for fourteen weary days without making the least progress. The crew now lost courage, and affirmed that it would be advisable to turn back and wait for more favourable winds. The captain, however, was not of this opinion, and succeeded so well in working upon the pride of the crew that they once more engaged in their conflict with the elements. It was, however, for the last time, for the very same night a tremendous sea broke over the ship, tearing away all her upper works, and sweeping the captain and six of the sailors overboard. The water poured in torrents into the cabins, and drove every one from the berths. The bulwarks, boats, and binnacle were carried clean off, and the mainmast had to be cut away. The sailors then turned the ship about, and after a long and dangerous voyage, succeeded in bringing her, dismasted as she was, into Rio Janeiro.

This story was not very encouraging, but the fine weather and our good ship relieved us of all anxiety. With regard to the vessel, we could not have chosen a better. It had large, comfortable cabins, an exceedingly good-natured and obliging captain, and a bill of fare which must have contented the most dainty palate. Every day we had roast or stewed fowls, ducks, or geese, fresh mutton or pork, eggs variously prepared, plum-pudding and tarts; to all this were added side dishes of ham, rice, potatoes, and other vegetables; and for dessert, dried fruit, nuts, almonds, cheese, etc. There was also plenty of bread, fresh baked every day, and good wine. We all unanimously acknowledged that we had never been so well treated, or had so good a table in any sailing vessel before; and we could, therefore, in this respect, look forward to our voyage without any apprehension.

On the 12th of December we hove in sight of the mountain ranges of Santos, and at 9 o'clock the same evening we reached a bay which the captain took for that of the same name. Lighted torches were repeatedly held over the vessel's side to summon a pilot; no pilot, however, made his appearance, and we were therefore obliged to trust to chance, and anchor at the mouth of the bay.

On the morning of the 13th a pilot came on board, and astonished us with the intelligence that we had anchored before the wrong bay. We had some trouble in working our way out, and anchoring about noon in the right one. A pretty little chateau-like building immediately attracted our attention. We took it for some advanced building of the town, and congratulated one another on having reached our temporary destination so quickly. On approaching nearer, however, we could perceive no signs of the town, and learned that the building was a small fort, and that Santos was situated in a second bay, communicating with the first by a small arm of the sea. Unluckily, the wind had by this time fallen, and we were obliged to be at anchor all day, and it was not until the 14th that a slight breeze sprang up and wafted us into port.

Santos is most charmingly situated at the entrance of a large valley. Picturesque hills, adorned with chapels and detached houses, rise on each side, and immediately beyond are considerable mountain ranges, spreading in a semi-circle round the valley, while a lovely island forms a most beautiful foreground to the whole.

We had scarcely landed before the captain informed us that we must stop for at least five days. The Italians, one of the Frenchmen, and myself determined that we would take advantage of this delay to make an excursion to St. Paulo, the largest inland town of the Brazils, and about forty miles from Santos. The same evening we hired mules, for which we paid five milreis (10s. 10d.) each, and set out upon our trip.

15th December. Early in the morning, we armed ourselves with well-charged double-barrelled pistols, having been alarmed by accounts of the Maroon negroes, {55} about a hundred of whom were said to be at that time lurking in the mountains, and to be so daring that they extended their inroads as far as the vicinity of Santos itself.

The first eight miles led through the valley to the lofty range of mountains which we had to cross. The road was good, and more frequented than any I had yet seen in the Brazils. Handsome wooden bridges traverse the rivers Vicente and Cubatao; one of these bridges is actually covered, but then every one is charged a pretty high toll.

In one of the vendas at the foot of the mountain we fortified ourselves with some excellent pan-cakes, laid in a stock of sugar-canes, the juice of which is excessively refreshing in the great heat, and then proceeded to scale the Serra, 3,400 feet high. The road was execrable; full of holes, pits, and puddles, in which our poor beasts often sank above their knees. We had to skirt chasms and ravines, with torrents rolling loudly beneath, yet not visible to us, on account of the thick underwood which grew over them. Some part of the way, too, lay through virgin forests, which, however, were not nearly so beautiful or thick as some I had traversed on my excursion to the Puris. There were hardly any palm-trees, and the few there were, reminded us, from their thin stems and scanty foliage, of those of a colder climate.

The prospect from the Serra struck us all with astonishment. The entire valley with its woods and prairies was spread far and wide before our sight as far as the bays, the little detached huts being quite indistinguishable, while only a part of the town and a few masts of ships were perceptible in the distance.

A turning in the road soon shut out this charming picture from our gaze; we then left the Serra and entered upon a woody, uneven tract, alternating with large level grass-plots, covered with low brushwood, and innumerable mole-hills, two feet high.

Half way from Santos to St. Paulo is a place called Rio Grande, the houses of which lie, after the Brazilian fashion, so far apart, that no one would suppose they had any connection with each other. The owner of the mules used on this journey resides here, and here, likewise, the money for their hire is paid. If the traveller desires to proceed immediately he has fresh mules given him, but, should he prefer stopping the afternoon or night, he finds very good victual and clean rooms, for which he has nothing to pay, as they are included in the five milreis (10s. 10d.), charged for the mules.

We snatched a hasty morsel or two, and then hurried on, in order to complete the second half of the road before sunset. The plain became broader and broader the nearer we approached the town; the beauty of the scenery falls off very much, and for the first time since I left Europe, did I see fields and hills of sand. The town itself, situated upon a hill, presents a tolerable appearance; it contains about 22,000 inhabitants, and is a place of considerable importance for the internal commerce of the country. In spite of this, however, it has neither an inn nor any other place where strangers can alight.

After inquiring for a long time in vain for lodgings, we were directed to a German and a Frenchman, with the remark that both received lodgers out of pure politeness. We first went to the German, who very bluntly cut us short by saying that he had no room. From him we proceeded to the Frenchman, who sent us to a Portuguese, and on visiting the latter we received the same answer we had obtained from the German.

We were now greatly embarrassed; the more so, because the wearisome nature of our journey had so fatigued the Frenchman that he was hardly able any longer to sit upright in his saddle.

In this critical position I thought of the letter of recommendation that Herr Geiger had given me in Rio Janeiro, for a German gentleman of the name of Loskiel, who had settled here. I had intended not to deliver this letter until the next day, but "necessity knows no law," and so I paid my visit the same evening.

He was kind enough to interest himself for us in the warmest manner imaginable. He gave one of the gentlemen and myself lodgings in his own house, and our two companions in that of a neighbour of his, inviting all of us to dine at his table. We now learned that in St. Paulo no one, not even an hotel-keeper, will receive a stranger if he be not provided with a letter of recommendation. It is certainly a lucky thing for travellers that this strange custom is not prevalent everywhere.

16th December. After having completely recovered ourselves from the fatigues of our yesterday's ride, our first thought was to view the curiosities of the town. We asked our hospitable host for information on this point, but he merely shrugged his shoulders, and said, that he knew of no curiosities, unless, indeed, we chose to look upon the Botanical Garden in the light of one.

We went out, therefore, after breakfast, and first of all viewed the town: where we found that the number of large and well-built houses was, in comparison to the size of the two places, greater than in Rio Janeiro, although even here, there was nothing like taste or peculiar architectural style. The streets are tolerably wide, but present an extraordinarily deserted appearance, the universal silence being broken only by the insupportable creaking of the country people's carts. These carts rest upon two wheels, or rather two wooden disks, which are often not even hooped with iron to keep them together. The axle, which is likewise of wood, is never greased, and thus causes the demoniacal kind of music to which I alluded.

A peculiarity of dress, very remarkable in this hot climate, is here prevalent: all the men, with the exception of the slaves, wear large cloth cloaks, one half of which they throw over their shoulder; I even saw a great many women enveloped in long, broad cloth capes.

In St. Paulo there is a High School. Those who study there, and come from the country or the smaller towns, are exposed to the inconvenience of being refused lodgings under any one's roof. They are obliged to hire and furnish houses for themselves, and be their own housekeepers.

We visited several churches which possess very little worth looking at, either inside or out, and then concluded by proceeding to the Botanical Garden, which also contains no object of any interest, with the exception of a plantation of Chinese teas.

All our sight-seeing did not occupy us more than a few hours, and we could very conveniently have begun our journey back to Santos the next morning; but the Frenchman, who, on account of the great fatigue he had suffered, had not accompanied us in our walk, begged us to put off our return for half a day longer, and to arrange it in such a manner, that we should pass the night in Rio Grande. We willingly acceded to his wish, and set out upon the afternoon of the 17th, after thanking our kind host most cordially for his hospitable entertainment. In Rio Grande we found an excellent supper, convenient sleeping apartments, and a good breakfast the next morning. About 12 o'clock on the 18th of December, we arrived safely in Santos, and the Frenchman then confessed to us he had felt so fatigued on arriving at St. Paulo, from his long ride, that he was afraid of being seriously ill. However, he recovered himself completely in a few days, but assured us, that it would be some time before he again accompanied us on one of our trips.

The first question we put to the captain was: "When do you weigh anchor?" to which he very politely replied, that as soon as he had cleared out 200 tons of coal, and shipped 6,000 sacks of sugar, he should be ready to set sail, and in consequence of this we had to remain three whole weary weeks in Santos.

We were still in Santos when we celebrated New-Year's Day, 1847, and at last, on the 2nd of January, were lucky enough to bid the town adieu; but did not proceed far, for in the first bay the wind fell, and did not spring up again till after midnight. It was now Sunday, and no true Englishman will set sail on a Sunday; we remained, therefore, lying at anchor the whole of the 3rd of January, looking with very melancholy feelings after two ships, whose captains, in spite of the holiness of the day, had profited by the fresh breeze, and sailed gaily past us.

On the same evening we saw a vessel, which our captain affirmed was a slaver, run into the bay. It kept as far as possible from the fort, and cast anchor at the most outward extremity of the bay. As the night was clear and moonlight we walked late upon deck, when, true enough, we saw little boats laden with negroes pulling in shore. An officer, indeed, came from the fort to inquire into the doings of this suspicious craft; but the owner seemed to afford him a satisfactory account, for he left the ship, and the slaves continued during the whole night to be quietly and undisturbedly smuggled in as before.

On the morning of the 4th of January, as we sailed past the vessel, we beheld a great number of the poor creatures still standing upon the deck. Our captain inquired of the slave-dealer how many slaves he had had on board, and we learned with astonishment that the number amounted to 670. Much has already been said and written upon this horrible trade; it is everywhere execrated, and looked upon as a blot on the human race, and yet it still continues to flourish.

This day promised to turn out a very melancholy one in many respects. We had hardly lost sight of the slaver before one of our own crew had nearly committed suicide. The steward, a young mulatto, had contracted the bad habit of indulging too much in liquor. The captain had often threatened to punish him severely, but all to no purpose; and this morning he was so intoxicated that the sailors were obliged to lay him in a corner of the forecastle, where he might sleep himself sober. Suddenly, however, he leapt up, clambered on to the forepart of the ship, and threw himself into the sea. Luckily, it was almost a calm, the water was quite still, and we had hopes of saving him. He soon reappeared at the side of the vessel, and ropes were thrown him from every side. The love of life was awakened in his breast, and caused him to grasp involuntarily at the ropes, but he had not strength enough to hold on. He again sank, and it was only after great exertion that the brave sailors succeeded in rescuing him from a watery grave. Hardly had he recovered his senses ere he endeavoured to throw himself in again, exclaiming that he had no wish to live. The man was raving mad, and the captain was obliged to have him bound hand and foot, and chained to the mast. On the following day he was deprived of his office, and degraded to the rank of subordinate to a new steward.

5th January. Mostly calms. Our cook caught, today, a fish three feet long, and remarkable for the manner in which it changed colour. When it came out of the water it was a bright yellow, to which colour it owes its name of Dorado. At the expiration of one or two minutes the brilliant yellow changed into a light sky-blue, and after its death its belly again turned to a beautiful light yellow, but the back was a brownish green. It is reckoned a great delicacy, but, for my own part, I found its flesh rather dry.

On the 9th of January we were off the Rio Grande. In the evening everything seemed to promise a violent storm; the captain consulted his barometer every second almost, and issued his orders according to its indications. Black clouds now began to drive towards us, and the wind increased to such a pitch that the captain had all the hatchways carefully fastened down, and the crew ready to reef the sails at a moment's notice. At a little past 8, the hurricane broke forth. Flash after flash of lightning darted across the horizon from every side, and lighted the sailors in their work; the agitated waves being illuminated with the most dazzling brilliancy. The majestic rolling of the thunder drowned the captain's voice, and the white foaming billows broke with such terrific force over the deck, that it appeared as if they would carry everything with them into the depths of the ocean. Unless there had been ropes stretched on each side of the ship for the sailors to catch hold of, the latter would most certainly have been washed away. Such a storm as this affords much food for reflection. You are alone upon the boundless ocean, far from all human help, and feel more than ever that your life depends upon the Almighty alone. The man who, in such a dreadful and solemn moment, can still believe there is no God, must indeed be irretrievably struck with mental blindness. A feeling of tranquil joy always comes over me during such great convulsions of Nature. I very often had myself bound near the binnacle, and let the tremendous waves break over me, in order to absorb, as it were, as much of the spectacle before me as possible; on no occasion did I ever feel alarmed, but always confident and resigned.

At the expiration of four hours the storm had worn itself out, and was succeeded by a perfect calm.

On the 10th of January we caught sight of several sea-turtles and a whale. The latter was only a young one, about forty feet long.

11th January. We were now off the Rio Plata, {59} and found the temperature very perceptibly cooler.

Up to the present time we had seen no signs of sea-tangle or molluscae, but during the night we beheld some molluscae for the first time, shining like stars at a great depth below the surface of the water.

In these latitudes the constellation of the southern cross keeps increasing in brilliancy and beauty, though it is far from being as wonderful as it is said to be. The stars in it, four in number, and disposed somewhat in the following manner, **** are, it is true, large and splendid; but they did not excite, either in myself or any other person of our company, much more admiration than the other constellations.

As a general rule, many travellers exaggerate a great deal. On the one hand, they often describe things which they have never seen themselves, and only know from hearsay; and, on the other, they adorn what they really have seen with a little too much imagination.

16th January. In 37 degrees South lat. we fell in with a strong current, running from south to north, and having a yellow streak down the middle of it. The captain said that this streak was caused by a shoal of small fishes. I had some water drawn up in a bucket, and really found a few dozen living creatures, which, in my opinion, however, belonged rather to some species of molluscae than to any kind of fish. They were about three-quarters of an inch long, and as transparent as the most delicate water-bubbles; they were marked with white and light yellow spots on the forepart of their bodies, and had a few feelers underneath.

In the night of the 20th to 21st of January we were overtaken by a very violent storm, which so damaged our mainmast that the captain determined on running into some haven on the first opportunity, and putting in a new one. For the present the old one was made fast with cables, iron chains, and braces.

In 43 degrees North lat. we saw the first sea-tangle. The temperature had by this time very perceptibly decreased in warmth, the glass often standing no higher than 59 or 63 degrees Fah.

23rd January. We were so near Patagonia that we could distinctly make out the outline of the coast.

26th January. We still kept near the land. In 50 degrees South lat. we saw the chalky mountains of Patagonia. Today we passed the Falkland Islands, which stretched from 51 to 52 degrees South lat. We did not see them, however, as we kept as near the land as possible, in order not to miss the Straits of Magellan. For some days the captain had been studying an English book, which, in his opinion, clearly proved that the passage through the Straits of Magellan was far less dangerous and far shorter than that round Cape Horn. I asked him how it happened that other sailors knew nothing of this valuable book, and why all vessels bound for the western coast of America went round Cape Horn? He could give me no other answer than that the book was very dear, and that that was the reason no one bought it. {60}

To me this bold idea of the captain's was extremely welcome. I already pictured in my mind the six-feet tall Patagonians putting off to us in their boats; I saw myself taking their mussels, plants, ornaments, and weapons in exchange for coloured ribbons and handkerchiefs; while, to render my satisfaction complete, the captain said that he should land at Port Famine (a Patagonian haven) to supply the injured portion of our mainmast. How thankful was I, in secret, to the storm for having reduced our ship to her present condition.

Too soon, however, were all my flattering hopes and dreams dispelled. On the 27th of January the latitude and longitude were taken, and it was then found that the Straits of Magellan were twenty-seven minutes (or nautical miles) behind us, but as we were becalmed, the captain promised, in case a favourable wind should spring up, to endeavour to return as far as the Straits.

I placed no more confidence in this promise, and I was right. About noon a scarcely perceptible breeze sprang up, which the captain, in high spirits, pronounced a favourable one - for rounding Cape Horn. If he had ever really intended to pass through the Straits, he would only have had to cruise about for a few hours, for the wind soon changed and blew directly in the desired direction.

28th January. We were constantly so near Terra del Fuego that we could make out every bush with the naked eye. We could have reached the land in an hour, without retarding our voyage in the least, for we were frequently becalmed; but the captain would not consent, as the wind might spring up every instant.

The coast appeared rather steep, but not high; the foreground was composed of meagre pasture alternating with tracts of sand, and in the background were ranges of woody hills, beyond which rose snow- covered mountains. On the whole, the country struck me as being much more inhabitable than the Island of Iceland, which I had visited a year and a half previously. The temperature, too, must here be higher, as even at sea we had 54 degrees 5' and 59 degrees Fah.

I saw three kinds of sea-tangle, but could only obtain a specimen of one, resembling that which I had seen in 44 degrees South lat. The second kind was not very different, and it was only the third that had pointed leaves, several of which together formed a sort of fan several feet long and broad.

On the 30th of January we passed very near the Staten Islands, lying between 56 and 57 degrees South lat. They are composed of bare high mountains, and separated from Terra del Fuego by an arm of the sea, called Le Maire, only seven miles long and about the same distance across.

The captain told us, seaman-like, that on one occasion of his sailing through these Straits, his ship had got into a strong current, and regularly danced, turning round during the passage at least a thousand times! I had already lost a great deal of confidence in the captain's tales, but I kept my eye steadily fixed upon a Hamburgh brig, that happened to be sailing ahead, to see whether she would dance; but neither she nor our own bark was so obliging. Neither vessels turned even once, and the only circumstance worthy of remark was the heaving and foaming of the waves in the Strait, while at both ends the sea lay majestically calm before our eyes. We had passed the Strait in an hour, and I took the liberty of asking the captain why our ship had not danced, to which he replied that it was because we had had both wind and current with us. It is, perhaps, possible that under other circumstances the vessel might have turned round once or twice, but I strongly doubt its doing so a thousand times. This was, however, a favourite number with our worthy captain. One of the gentlemen once asked him some question about the first London hotels, and was told that it was impossible to remember their names, as there were above a thousand of the first class.

Near the Strait Le Maire begins, in the opinion of seamen, the dangerous part of the passage round Cape Horn, and ends off the Straits of Magellan. Immediately we entered it we were greeted with two most violent bursts of wind, each of which lasted about half an hour; they came from the neighbouring icy chasms in the mountains of Terra del Fuego, and split two sails, and broke the great studding sail-yard, although the sailors were numerous and quick. The distance from the end of the Strait Le Maire to the extreme point of the Cape is calculated to be not more than seventy miles, and yet this trifling passage cost us three days.

At last, on the 3rd of February, we were fortunate enough to reach the southernmost point of America, so dreaded by all mariners. Bare, pointed mountains, one of which looks like a crater that has fallen in, form the extremity of the mighty mountain-chain, and a magnificent group of colossal black rocks (basalt?), of all shapes and sizes, are scattered at some distance in advance, and are separated only by a small arm of the sea. The extreme point of Cape Horn is 600 feet high. At this spot, according to our works on geography, the Atlantic Ocean changes its name and assumes that of the Pacific. Sailors, however, do not give it the latter designation before reaching the Straits of Magellan, as up to this point the sea is continually stormy and agitated, as we learned to our cost, being driven by violent storms as far back as 60 degrees South lat. Besides this, we lost our top-mast, which was broken off, and which, in spite of the heavy sea, had to be replaced; the vessel, meanwhile, being so tossed about, that we were often unable to take our meals at the table, but were obliged to squat down upon the ground, and hold our plates in our hands. On one of these fine days the steward stumbled with the coffee-pot, and deluged me with its burning contents. Luckily, only a small portion fell upon my hands, so that the accident was not a very serious one.

After battling for fourteen days with winds and waves, with rain and cold, {62} we at last arrived off the western entrance to the Straits of Magellan, having accomplished the most dangerous portion of our voyage. During these fourteen days we saw very few whales or albatrosses, and not one iceberg.

We thought that we should now quietly pursue our way upon the placid sea, trusting confidently in its peaceful name. For three whole days we had nothing to complain of; but in the night of the 19th to the 20th of February, we were overtaken by a storm worthy of the Atlantic itself, which lasted for nearly twenty-four hours, and cost us four sails. We suffered most damage from the tremendous waves, which broke with such fury over the ship, that they tore up one of the planks of the deck, and let the water into the cargo of sugar. The deck itself was like a lake, and the portholes had to be opened in order to get rid of the water more quickly. The water leaked in the hold at the rate of two inches an hour. We could not light any fire, and were obliged to content ourselves with bread and cheese and raw ham, which we with great difficulty conveyed to our mouth as we sat upon the ground.

The last cask of lamp oil, too, fell a sacrifice to this storm, having been torn from its fastenings, and broken into pieces. The captain was very apprehensive of not having enough oil to light the compass till we arrived at Valparaiso; and all the lamps on the ship were, in consequence, replaced by candles, and the small quantity of oil remaining kept for the compass. In spite of all these annoyances, we kept up our spirits, and even, during the storm, we could scarcely refrain from laughing at the comical positions we all fell into whenever we attempted to stand up.

The remainder of the voyage to Valparaiso was calm, but excessively disagreeable. The captain wished to present a magnificent appearance on arriving, so that the good people might believe that wind and waves could not injure his fine vessel. He had the whole ship painted from top to bottom with oil colours; even the little doors in the cabins were not spared this infliction. Not content with creating a most horrible disturbance over our heads, the carpenter invaded even our cabins, filling all our things with sawdust and dirt, so that we poor passengers had not a dry or quiet place of refuge in the whole ship. Just as much as we had been pleased with Captain Bell's politeness during all the previous part of the voyage, were we indignant at his behaviour during the last five or six days. But we could offer no resistance, for the captain is an autocrat on board his own ship, knowing neither a constitution nor any other limit to his despotic power.

At 6 o'clock in the morning of the 2nd of March, we ran into the port of Valparaiso.