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A Correspondent writes:

After a rather rough passage from the western coast we came in sight of Sandy Point one fine morning lately, meeting[?] two emigrant steamers on their way to Honolulu. Our captain had introduced me on board to the English doctor [Thomas Fenton, Ed.] stationed at Sandy Point by the Chilian Government. This gentleman received me kindly, and we went ashore together with the mails. He procured a very large clean room for me at a small inn, and invited me to take my meals at his house. The town of Sandy Point is composed of one-storied wooden houses scattered about on the sides of very broad grass-grown streets. There are a good many stores and drinking-shops, a very small chapel, and a low lighthouse, next to which is a small iron observatory, left there by the German Expedition which came to observe the passage of Venus. There were no ships in the bay, only some 10-ton schooners, belonging to the residents, and a few launches and boats. The English doctor is married, has a nice little house and four pretty little children. After lunch he took me to see the Governor [Francisco Sampaio, Ed.], who has had the misfortune to lose one eye. He is a married man, has 4,000l. a year, and next to nothing to do. The garrison of twenty soldiers do all the household work, and I found one nursing[?] the Governor's child, while another brought me some brandy and cigars. This work seems to effeminate this noble band of warriors very considerably, for another man came to the Governor's wife with tears in his eyes, complaining that a goose had bitten him. Each house in the town has a little enclosed vegetable garden belonging to it, but they do not look nice, and the street is deserted except by the dogs, which all seem to be of the biggest breeds, and outnumber the human inhabitants. The colony has 1,400 souls, more or less, and a great many of them do no work, but manage to consume plenty of liquor, which is very cheap, as there are no duties to pay. The town lies on a long beach running along the foot of some low, densely-wooded hills, in which the snow was lying. The wood to the north of the town had been on fire, and whole acres of ground are covered with fallen, charred wood, and upright trees all charred and dry. The trees are a kind of beech, and very tall. In the afternoon we procured horses and rode across the small river running past the town, where some men were employed in gold-washing.

We entered the burnt forest; a small railway which leads to some abandoned coal mines served us for a track, otherwise it would have been nearly impossible to pass over all the fallen logs scattered in every direction. Farther in the forest snow and ice were lying, and it was bitterly cold. We soon reached the end of the burnt part, and had a very pretty view of the virgin forest down a little valley, but the underwood and old fallen trees so hem the way that it is only on the clever little horses from the south of Chili that it is possible to pass. These animals scramble like little cats over the fallen trunks, never jumping, but picking their way carefully and slowly. At this place we met with one of the three or four prisoners left in the colony. He [probably Alfred W. Scott, Ed.] was setting up a sawmill. He had been taken in a torpedo boat up in Peru, and found in possession of a document in which the Peruvian Government promised him about 10,000l. for every Chilian man-of-war he blew up, and I only wonder he was not shot as soon as they caught him. Now he is working for the Government, gets 60 dollars a month for rations, and makes money besides, and would be able to escape easily, only that he is quite happy where he is, and, after the authorities, seems one of the principal men in the colony. There are several steam and water sawmills about Sandy Point, and the timber is very easy to get, but not very good, nevertheless it sells well at Monte Video, where a few cargoes are sent every year.

We got back to dinner at five in the evening with wonderful appetites, though our hands, feet, and ears were half frozen. We retired to rest early, and even then the town was silent as the grave, and not a soul to be seen. Next morning I invested myself with two flannel shirts, two pairs of trousers, a jersey, and two waistcoats, two silk handkerchiefs round my neck, and then felt quite cozy. I found the doctor rather unwell, so he lent me his old Indian horse, and sent me with his little son, only six years old, but a splendid little rider, to take a ramble, in an opposite direction to yesterday's excursions, along the seashore to the south. We had to cross two or three small rivers, wading through up to our girths, and then entered the forests, where we saw plenty of green parrots, snipe, and other birds. On our way back we had frequently to seek shelter from heavy showers of rain, and we found quantities of the real champignon in a meadow. Meeting the Governor as we entered the town, he invited me to come out to a small place about 25 miles away, where he has a log house and keeps the Government cattle in a big enclosed place. So next morning the doctor, his little boy, and I started off, fully equipped with revolvers, jack-knives, tremendously big boots, with large guanaco-skin rugs under our saddles, a leg of mutton, four bottles of wine, some bread, and tinned meats in our saddle bags, as we intended to stay with the Governor a day or two. The doctor was got up in killing fashion; he wore a Scotch cap, ditto shooting jacket, a belt with revolver in it, Bedford-cow breeches, red morocco boots with a large knife stuck in one of them, and gloves with long cuffs. We rode all the way close to the sea, as the forest came quite down to the sand, and saw lots of porpoises and big lobsters in the sea; we also found a big penguin on which a hawk was feeding, and passed one little inland pond with wild geese and ducks. At last we reached an open place near the sea-shore, where some deserted log-houses and small cattle-enclosures showed traces of civilisation; and further on, on a small hill where the trees had been cleared away, stood the Governor's log hut, with three gables and a little garden; while down below were the houses of the cowherds, and a river flowing into the sea close by, on the other side of which [Chabunco, Ed.] a French Swiss [Émile Bays, Ed.] had a hut and keeps some cows, making imitation Swiss cheeses, which are as hard as stone, but rather nicely flavoured.

The Governor received us with open arms. We turned our tired nags loose and went for a stroll, afterwards sitting down to dinner, which was cooked by an old hag and brought to us in pots, where it was kept warm on the fire, and served by the Governor's little daughter. My bedroom turned out to be a bare room with two rough wooden bedsteads, furnished with straw mattresses and a couple of fur rugs; into one of these I threw myself, and on awaking next morning found the other occupied by the doctor and his little son. We made a very hearty breakfast, the coffee being excellent and then sent a man to lasso some horses, of which there are always some knocking about. We then accompanied the Governor to see the cattle. They are lodged in a cleared part of the forest on beautiful grass meadows, and looked very nice and fat. The whole place looked something like an English park, only the paths through the woods are very bad, and we had continually to scramble over fallen trees and through nasty swamps. A good deal of snow was lying on the meadows, but the sun was shining brightly and the air quite warm. We reached home at five for dinner, and the Governor produced some very fine old Madeira and Champagne, as the log-house, besides the beds, two chairs and a table in the dining room, contains little else but boxes of wine and cognac. Being persuaded to pass another night with the Governor, we rose next morning and spent a couple of hours in capturing our horses, which had strayed, and after breakfast started back to Sandy Point. Out in the pampas the doctor has got a sheep-farm, and has annexed about 40,000 acres of grass land, but cannot yet manage to get his documents from the Government as rightful possessor. The sheep get on splendidly there, better than in the Falklands whence they were originally imported, and the only drawback is the lions, which carry off a good many, though they are cowardly brutes, afraid of men and dogs. I don't think the colony will ever be anything very great, though the climate is splendid, and the place exceptionally healthy, but grain will not grow, and the forests, if measures are not taken, will soon be either burnt or cut down, and then sheep-farming and gold-mining will be the only industries. The gold-washings do not produce much, but now and then big nuggets are found, and one fellow found one the other day weighing 30 grammes. My return steamer arrived too soon for my wishes, as I had promised myself a day or two's snipe shooting. [...]

Source: "London Daily News", 8 September 1883
Clipped: 20-X-2015
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