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a coarse and unfeeling scoff from the parties who performed this office, I was again left to solitude and my own miserable thoughts.
While I was occupied in calculating the lapse of time with an ever-increasing horror, I heard footsteps approaching; my daughter bent tenderly over me, repeatedly kissed my lips, while her tears fell fast upon my face ; and whispering an almost inaudible “ Farewell for ever, my dear, dear father !" retired sobbing from the room. Most sweet and dear was this evidence of filial affection, even although it could not for an instant defer the appalling catastrophe which was about to overtake me.
WHILE reflecting upon the visit of my dear and good daughter, which was not altogether without a soothing influence upon my soul, I was startled by the tolling of the church-bell, at all times a solemn and impressive sound, but oh ! how indescribably awful and harrowing to me, who heard it tolling for my own funeral, my own quick interment ! Whatever faint lingerings of hope had hitherto clung to my heart now died away,
and my despair was consummated when the foreman returned to the chamber and screwed down the top of the coffin, an operation which he effected with a celerity which surprised me.
His assistants joining him after a brief interval, I was hoisted on their shoulders, carried through the parlour and the hall, and finally pushed into a hearse, the door of which must have been left open for several minutes, since I distinctly heard much of what was passing around me—a circumstance for which I was subsequently enabled to account. I caught the sound of my son's voice, talking not only in a tone of unconcern, but of absolute levity, with his Newmarket friend Sir Freeman Dashwood, who had doubtless been summoned rather to celebrate the son's succession than to show respect to the deceased father. By the trampling of hoofs, the rolling of wheels, and other indications, I became aware that, my funeral not being deficient in any of the customary paraphernalia, I was to make my triumphal procession to the grave with all that mockery of earthly grandeur which is usually displayed when a gentleman's corpse is about to be subjected to the worms. The bearer of the black panache marshalled the array, followed by horses with nodding plumes and housings of sable velvet, and mourning-coaches whose occupants seemed to be anything but mourners, and wand-bearing footmen, and the decorated hearse in slow and solemn stateliness, conveying earth to earth with all the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious—dust!
On the arrival of this idle pageant, the vanity of vanities, at the church-door, the coffin was borne into the sacred building; and the funeral service, of which, from my position, I did not lose a single word, was performed by Mr. Mason, the curate, with a more than usual impressiveness and feeling. When I reflected — for I had time for thought even in that harrowing moment—that I had not only refused my daughter's hand to this gifted and excellent man, but had impoverished her, should she marry
him after my decease, in order still further to enrich my unnatural son, my heart became penetrated by a pang of the most
intense shame and remorse.
Blind and erring mortals that we are! How often and
how completely should we alter our wills, could we look forward for a few days, or even for a few hours !
Callous indeed must be the heart of the mere spectator who, when the coffin is lowered, and he hears the mould rattling on the lid, accompanied by the solemn words, “ Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust," remains unaffected by an audible announcement, telling him, as if it were a voice from the grave, that a fellow-creature has been consigned to that final resting-place whither he himself, perhaps at no distant date, must inevitably follow him. What, then, must have been its effect upon me, to whom that sound was literally a death-rattle, utterly extinguishing hope, and imparting to my dark and dismal apprehensions a still blacker despair?. A few steps in the churchyard, usually covered with a slab of stone, led down to the door of our family vault. Down that slope I was carried; I was borne into the sepulchre ; by the directions of the undertaker's foreman I was deposited on the ground near the entrance; the men withdrew; the door was locked ; I heard the departing footsteps of the assembled spectators ; all was over ; I was buried alive!
Long as I had anticipated this frightful result, I had hitherto been unable to realise it to my own mind ; and even now that the catastrophe had actually occurred, my thoughts, strange to say, dwelt more on its immediate than its ultimate effect. It had ever been my ambition, stimulated perhaps by my dislike of its proprietor, Godfrey Thorpe, to become the owner of Oakfield Hall, with its extensive deer-stocked park and wide domains; and I contrasted that coveted possession with my present habitation. My Elizabethan mansion was a coffin
deerstocked park was a narrow vault occupied by mouldering corpses ; four mildewed walls were its ring-fence; and instead of the broad acres, the sunny cope of heaven, and the living face of nature, I was the lord of sepulchral darkness and noisome death. The miserable utterness of the contrast seemed to possess some unaccountable attraction, for it engrossed my reflections during several minutes.
Anon, as my mind wandered back to my past life, to the fine fortune I had made, and to the occasional malversations by which I had unfairly augmented it, a deep contrition and humiliation depressed my spirit ; and I made a vow to my soul that if ever I should be restored to life-improbable, not to say impossible, as such a contingency appeared-I would make restitution, and thenceforward lead a righteous and blameless life in the sight of God and man. In this frame of mind I prayed long and fervently for pardon of my misdeeds—a penitent appeal to Heaven which afforded me a momentary solace.
WILD SPORTS OF THE FALKLANDS.
SKETCHED DURING A SURVEY OF THOSE ISLANDS.
BY CAPTAIN MACKINNON, R.N.
INTRODUCTION. As the spring-tide of emigration appears to have set strongly towards the colonial possessions of Great Britain, it may not, perhaps, be superfluous, by way of introduction to the following sketches, to give a brief summary of prominent circumstances connected with the Falkland Islands since they were first occupied by an English governor (Lieutenant Moody), whose appointment took place in 1842, to which year the birth of the colony may be assigned. Soon after the governor's arrival, the intended site of the principal town was changed from Port Louis, at the head of Berkeley Sound, to Port Stanley, as a more convenient spot at which passing ships might call when in need of repair or victualling: For some time, however, the infant colony languished for want of maternal care; the government expenditure on its behalf barely sufficing to keep life within it. Still, though the islands were not so fortunate as to excite interest in England, it was far otherwise on the adjacent coasts of South America. The English merchants residing in the latter country, actuated by the keen foresight and enterprise of their nation, wisely turned their attention towards the only spot of land, within thousands of miles, that hoisted the British standard; and one of these merchant-princes immediately took steps to make an agreement with government to purchase a large extent of territory in the Falklands.
The following condensed extract from the report of the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners for 1846, will give the material parts of the agreement. It is a curious and interesting document:
"Ist. Indenture, made the 16th day of March, 1846, between her most gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, of the one part, and Samuel Fisher Lafone, of Monte Video in South America, merchant, of the other part. Her Majesty Queen Victoria sells to Lafone that part of East Falkland lying south of the isthmus in Choiseul Sound. Also the islands in Choiseul Sound, and all other islands adjacent to the coast purchased; also Beauchene Island; also one town allotment of half an acre, and one suburban allotment of twenty-five acres in the principal town.
“ 2nd. For six years and six months from this date, Lafone to have absolute dominion over all wild cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and swine on the East Falkland.
“3rd. For the above advantages, Lafone is to pay her said majesty Queen Victoria 60,0001. by instalments in the manner following: 10,0001. within ten days (since paid); 50001, on the 1st of January, 1851; 50001. on each succeeding 1st of January, until the whole shall be paid in full.
“ 4th. Technical reservations of lands for government purposes, such as arsenals, ports, bridges, &c.
“5th. That Lafone is to deliver to the governor yearly in good health
the following stock : in 1847, 500 cows, 5 bulls, 4000 sheep, 40 rams, 20 horses. In 1848, 1000 cows, 10 bulls, 5000 sheep, 50 rams, 20 horses, 50 mares, 5 stallions, 30 sows, and 10 boars. In 1849, 1500 cows, 15 bulls, 5000 sheep, 50 rams, 50 mares. In 1850, 6000 sheep, 60 rams. The sheep to be all white ewes, good breed (not merinos), common and hardy, similar to those in the colony. The stock to be delivered at such good and safe ports as the governor may direct."*
In 1848, when a new governor was appointed, sixty houses had been erected at Port Stanley, besides the establishment of Mr. Lafone in the southern peninsula, and a small farm of sheep and cattle, belonging to Mr. Whitington, at the old settlement of Port Louis. The entire population numbered from 300 to 400 souls.
Towards the end of 1848, Captain Sulivan, R.N., having reached the highest step in his profession, and being deeply impressed with the great advantages to be derived from the establishment of a sheep-and-cattle grazing-farm in the Falklands, determined, as the chance of employment afloat was small indeed, to form a company for the above purpose on a large scale. An additional motive existed in the state of his health, which suffered so much from the cold and damp climate of England, that his physician advised his departure to such a climate as the captain had described the Falklands to be.
In so great a country as ours, an enterprise of so prominent a nature as the one in question is seized on with avidity, particularly by those who happen to have a large family of sons. The needful arrangements were therefore speedily completed, and a vessel of 375 tons (the Australia) was chartered to take out stock and materials necessary to set the venture 6 well afloat.”
As the author is very much interested in the success of this enterprise, he is anxious to correct an error into which he fell some years ago, in reference to the seal-fishing of these islands, when, writing about the Volunteer Rocks off Berkeley Sound, and the South Sea Rocks slightly to the southward of the former, he stated that they are superior, in number of fur seal and extent of surface, to the island of Lobos in the Rio de la Plata, for which is paid a yearly rent of 80,000 dollars. In making this statement he was much mistaken, and regrets having fallen into an exaggeration.
Since the departure of Captain Sulivan's expedition, government has taken up the Nautilus, a vessel of 200 tons, to convey the necessary materials for repairing ships at the Falklands. This is, indeed, very much required, especially since the “golden dreams” from California
* This contract was based on a rough calculation of the extent of land in the southern peninsula. Thus, the length and with only were taken into account before the survey was completed. This rough estimate gave 200 square leagues, or about half a million of acres. It was found, however, from the peculiar indentation of the coast, that a considerable error had been committed, and that 93 square leagues formed a just calculation for the main-land. The islands would make 17 more: making altogether 110; being little more than half the extent considered in the bargain. It is but just, therefore, that some reduction should be made in the instalments. This is still a point of dispute between the contracting parties; the sooner, however, an equitable adjustment takes place, the better for the colony, whose energies are considerably retarded by this delay and uncertainty. The latest reports from the islands state that the governor is about to stop the works of Mr. Lafone: this would be a serious blow to the settlement.
have set all the rest of the world dreaming of mines of gold, which, says quaint old Burton, “is of all other a most delicious object. A sweet light, a goodly lustre hath gold, and we had rather see it than the sun. Intolerable pains we take for it. Long journeys, heavy burdens, all are made light and easy by it. The sight of gold refresheth our spirits and ravisheth our hearts. It will make a man run to the Antipodes.” Even before the existence of the Californian mania, the average number of vessels passing the Falklands both ways was five per diem. Most of these ships sighted the islands to verify their chronometers ; and it is not too much to say, that if captains of vessels were generally acquainted with the facilities offered by the Falklands, such as the abundance and marvellous cheapness of provisions, the admirable havens (more like basins than harbours), the great facility of entrance and departure, and, though last not least, the ports being perfectly free, full ninety per cent. of the above-named vessels would call there, to carry out a proper system of economy on the long-voyage trade.*
Apropos of economy: a caution is here given to unwary persons who may desire to send out, by the hands of adventurers, seeds or other trifles to benefit the colonies. The author does not intend to accuse the class of shipbrokers, but merely to expose an instance of very sharp practice tending to injure our colonial possessions, and to bring disrepute on a body of respectable men. A small fig-drum, containing about twenty-five ears of black barley and a few seeds, weighing under five pounds, and of the value of 2s. 6d., was sent to the advertising agent of the Nautilus. In the course of two days a bill for shipment, customs, &c., was received, amounting to 11. 48. 6. !-upwards of 5001. a ton.
With regard to the climate of the Falklands, it is a singular fact that this archipelago has always been characterised as barren, desolate, and tempestuous. Nothing can be more erroneous. The misrepresentations in " Anson's Voyages” have probably strengthened, if not created, the general prejudice ; but there can be little doubt that this navigator's passage round Cape Horn manifested more zeal than judgment, particularly in keeping his squadron together, rather than appointing a rendezvous in the Pacific. " It is notorious that his vessels were badly found and fitted; his crew was not only weak, but the majority untrained ; and, to complete the list of evils, the very worst time of year was, by defective arrangement, forced upon them for rounding this prominent southern headland. Where so many elements of disaster exist, it is not surprising that misfortune should occur. The Falklands being in the vicinity, came in for a share of the misrepresentation which still retains a hold on the public mind. Captain Sulivan was employed seven years in minutely examining and surveying these islands. He was accompanied by his family, who not only enjoyed uninterrupted good health, but considered the climate better, on the whole, than Cornwall or Devonshire.
Voyagers frequently form erroneous impressions of climate from the temporary nature of their sojourn. This is remarkably exemplified in the journal of Darwin, who is generally an accurate author. He says“ The climate of the Falklands may be compared to that which is
A large ship of 800 tons (the Victory) has been chartered by government to take out ninety pensioners and their families. This large and useful addition to the population of the islands will be of inestimable benefit.