We arrived early in the morning at Port Louis, the most
Eastern point of the Falkland Islands: The first news we received was
to our astonishment, that England had taken possession of the Falklands
islands & that the Flag was now flying.
These islands have been
for some time uninhabited, untill the Buenos Ayres Government, a few
years since claimed them & sent some colonists. Our government
remonstrated against this, & last month the Clio arrived here with
orders to take possession of the place. A Buenos ayrean man of war
was here, at the time, with some fresh colonists. Both they & the
vessel returned to the Rio Plata.
The present inhabitants consist of
one Englishman, who has resided here for some years, & has now the
charge of the British flag, 20 Spaniards & three women, two of whom
are negresses. The island is abundantly stocked with animals. There
are about 5000 wild oxen, many horses, & pigs. Wild fowl,
rabbits, & fish in the greatest plenty. Europaean vegetables will
grow. And as there is an abundance of water & good anchorage; it
is most surprising that it has not been long ago colonized, in order to
afford provisions for Ships going round the Horn. At present it is
only frequented by Whalers, one of which is here now.
We received all this intelligence from a French boat, belonging to a Whaler, which
was in is n ow lying a wreck on the beach. Between the 12th & 13th
of January, the very time when we suffered from the gale off Cape Horn,
this fine ship parted from three anchors & drove on shore. They
describe the gale as a perfect hurricane. They were glad to see us,
as they were at a loss what to do. All the stores are saved & of
course plenty of food. Capt: FitzRoy has offered to take them 22 in number in the Beagle & to purchase for the on account of the owners, any stores which we may want. The rest must be sacrificed.