Narrative of a Voyage to Patagonia and Terra del Fuego
On 22 May 1826, HMS Beagle left Plymouth Sound on her maiden voyage, accompanying HMS Adventure to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego to survey the Strait of Magellan. Years later, Royal Naval officer John Macdouall (fl.1820-30) proclaimed himself 'one whose visit to Port Famine, and sometime residence on that inhospitable coast, have left no wish of re-visiting it, really or metaphorically'. Nevertheless, his first-hand account of the first nineteen months of the Beagle's voyage, originally published in 1833, is a highly entertaining read. With an amusing combination of self-deprecation and caustic observation, and in preference to 'the trouble of detailing the monotonous course of a long sea voyage', Macdouall relates anecdotes about life aboard ship and the peoples and places encountered. While unforgiving of 'absurd' Spanish customs and 'national indolence', and Rio de Janeiro's 'bowing hypocritical Portuguese', he offers a generally kinder portrait of Fuegian and Patagonian 'savages'.