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The departure last year of a French expedition, organised by the energy of its conductor, M. Pertuiset, to Tierra del Fuego, attracted considerable attention at the time. Only the shores of the territory to be explored had been previously examined, and the adventurers were therefore certain to plant the French flag in an unknown land.

Communications from the explorers are from time to time received by the French Geographical Society, through the agency of the French Consulate at Valparaiso, and published in the Journal Officiel. From these we gather the following particulars:--

The debarkation took place on December 7, and, although the weather was unfavourable, the party, armed to the teeth, straightway started for the interior, turning their steps in a southerly direction towards Cape Horn. Their first discovery was a lake of great beauty, from twelve to fifteen miles in circumference, and covered with thousands of wild fowl. To this was given the name of the leader of the expedition. At the further extremity of the lake a group of Fuegians were observed. The men immediately fled, but M. Pertuiset was enabled to secure a woman and two children who remained hidden amongst the vegetation. The poor creatures were very much frightened, and, apprehending death, began to cry bitterly but presents of biscuit, sugar, tobacco and handkerchiefs calmed then, and the woman, whose appearance was far from disagreeable, gave M. Pertuiset, in exchange for his gifts, a piece of tin which had formerly belonged to a sardine case. M. Pertuiset then sent forward an advanced guard of five men, under the direction of Captain Marguin and Viscount Bourguet, to propose a treaty of peace.

The number of fires which were lit in all directions led him to fear that an amicable, reception would not be accorded. These fears appear to have proved unfounded, and M. Pertuiset has not experienced in the Fuegians that ferocity ascribed to them by the Chilian colonists of Punta Arenas. On the contrary, he reports very favourably of his relations with them. Far from attacking him, they have on all occasions besought his friendship, He believes that they are not cannibals except when reduced by absolute want of food to the necessity of eating each other, and he states that a few sacks of flour and some tons of dried meats would constitute the best treaty of peace. At the date of the last advice, January 23, M. Pertuiset had returned to Punta Arenas. The caravan had advanced 300 kilometres (about 188 miles) towards the south, having taken about a month for the journey. Immense plains and vast pastures, very suitable for the rearing of cattle, had been discovered. The temperature had proved gentle, and the floral richness and variety of the country are described as being extreme. M. Pertuiset speaks specially of groves of cinnamon trees and fuchsias, and a species of wild camellia. Bird-shooting had proved sufficiently productive and an important source of food supply for the travellers, who had at one time been reduced to the necessity of eating one of their horses. M. Pertuiset is at present resting at Punta Arenas, and preparing a detailed account of his perilous journey, after finishing which account he intends to prosecute his discoveries.

Source: "Star" (Canterbury, NZ), 17 July 1874
Clipped: 25-IX-2012
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