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Patagonian Missionary Society (SAMS)
Cape Gregory Station, Straits of Magellan
16 March 1845

Letter from Captain Allen Gardiner to the Missionary Committee

Missionary Station Gregory Bay
March 16, 1845

My dear Sir Thomas

These few hasty lines I am enabled to send by a vessel which has just anchored. I wrote by the Rosalie, but will now add a few particulars. We have been much tried by the caprice of Huissale, who with his people is now with us, and the property of the Mission has been in danger from the several attempts to pilfer, by the Fuegians, who were with us, before their arrival. The settlement in Port Famine has much divided the Patagonians, many of them prefer that neighbourhood in order to traffic, but Huissale seems more inclined to remain here, he tells me that he purposes continuing near us throughout the winter.

I trust that the Committee will see the necessity of sending out a Catechist as soon as possible - and if he could speak Spanish it would be advisable, at all events, he should be accompanied by a working man, and such a person might be found, who could speak the Spanish language. Maria is dead - San Leon absent - and Isaac has been sent by the Governor of Port Famine in irons to Chile, so that all our communications with Huissale are through the medium of Spanish, he having acquired, since my absence, sufficient for this purpose. He is very courteous, and insists on partaking together with one of his children of all our meals. The provisions will not stand this very long, so that unless the Society send us a fresh supply we shall be reduced to a state of almost starvation, as the Indians are very reluctant to let us have any meat - indeed as yet we have not tasted a piece of guanaco.

There are many difficulties which I cannot state in this hasty letter, but the Lord has been very bountiful to us, and we are prepared to do, and to suffer whatsoever he shall see fit to lay upon us. I trust that a Catechist will be sent without delay and another person to sleep in the kitchen and protect the property at night - besides which unless Mr Hunt is relieved from the work of drawing water, fetching wood, cooking, & in which we materially assist each other, he will have not time properly to attend to the study of the language. In a few words I would strongly recommend that a vessel be sent to our succour without delay, and bring a Catechist, and provisions. If when she arrives, we shall see our way more clearly to remain, we can be left, but if otherwise, we shall be able safely to make an honourable retreat. It is not a place for a family, at all events under present circumstances.

I am very sorry to write so short and hasty a letter, but the vessel cannot wait - pray excuse this, and believe that if it please the Lord to preserve us, we shall remain at our post, waiting His time, and endeavour in His strength to do his will. There may not be another opportunity to write for a long time, but we shall anxiously look out for the aid which I have requested above. Some strong planking or another small house much stronger than these will be required, as Mr Thompson has sadly constructed these which we now inhabit, they are almost carried away by the high winds which are very frequent here. We have purchased a bag of biscuit of the 'Commodore', now at anchor here, for which Mr Hunt has paid 12s. my money being left in a mountain during our late journey in quest of the Patagonians. I have endeavoured to get through this letter although the house is filled with natives, all talking, besides the people from the vessel. We are, thank God, in good health. Accept our very kind regards, & believe me &c.

Allen F. Gardiner.

Letter from Robert Hunt to the Missionary Committee

Cape Gregory, Patagonia
March 16, 1845.

My dear Sir Thomas

I have a few minutes, I know not how to say, that we have had to go through dangers, difficulties and fatigues since our landing. Dangers, arising in the first place from the savage Lagoon or Lake Indians previous to the arrival of the Patagonians and next from the anger of Wesail the Patagonian chief, which anger originated in a misunderstanding about some biscuit for his children.

We had once almost abandoned the hope of success, and felt ourselves called upon to leave our houses and provisions, partly in consequence of the dangers surrounding us here, and partly to make an effort to find the Patagonians. Capt. Gardiner's experience in such exertions enabled him to undergo them and his load, much better than I could mine. By day I felt parched with thirst, and faint from fatigue, and shivering with cold on the bare ground under the open heavens by night, in wind and rain, this we could not endure beyond the fourth day, when we determined to return without having seen the Patagonians, and hardly expecting to find a home when we reached the station. For the last three miles, I had to lie down every five minutes from faintness and thirst. But God was very gracious to us, and heard us when we cried to him, and delivered us in a remarkable manner.

The Patagonians came three days since, and last night, we were told that they talked of killing us, but again God interposed and enabled us to pacify Wesail, by presents, and an explanation. But matters had come to that pass, that we yesterday agreed to pray for a vessel to take us away, unless God interposed in some other way. Today an English vessel is here, but in the altered state of the chief's mind, we see an indication, that God may yet take us up, and use us, as his instruments in bringing these people to the knowledge of his glorious Name. Capt. Gardiner's knowledge of Spanish probably saved our lives yesterday.

We have enjoyed extraordinary consolations in our extraordinary circumstances. As our day, our strength has been. Blessed be our faithful God. We resign ourselves to his will, our confidence is that we shall live, and not die, but declare the wonderful works of God. Truly events here have been a chain of most special Providences. In danger and doubt, God has allowed us, as it were to dictate to him. May we never be unmindful of his benefits, and always find his present aid. Hoping for this, we thank God, and take courage. Let not our past difficulties cause any man's heart to fail or to fear for us, but oh, let them continue to pray for us, and all will at length be well.

Pray excuse my familiar and hasty address, and present my dutiful and respectful regards to the Committee. And allow me to remain &c

Robert Hunt

P.S. Wesail has just now in the presence of his peopled wished us to stay, and assured us of kind treatment. The vessel has been of essential service to us in influencing the natives in our favour.

Letter from Captain Allen Gardiner to his wife

Gregory Bay,
March 16, 1845.

[begins] A Barque has just anchored here, and I send these few lines to say that thank God, we are all well. We have been here just a fortnight, viz since the Rosalie left us, at first very much plagued by Fuegians. A deserter from Port Famine arrived some days ago, and gave us much information respecting the Indians, who were at that time, in that neighbourhod. Finding that there was no probability of the Patagonians coming to us, we endeavoured to go to them, and set out on foot carrying some clothes and provisions, we were out 4 days, sleeping on the ground, but returned without meeting them. The day before yesterday Huissale with a small party made his appearance and today many more of his people arrived. He purposes making a journey in the early part of next month to Port Famine, and then returning here for the winter.

Maria is dead. Isaac sent in irons to Chile, by the Governor of Port Famine, on suspicion of treachery. The Patagonians do not like the country about the Chilian settlement and prefer this neighbourhood, but they are divided. One of the Patagonian chiefs named Centurion has made great alliance with the Chilians, and his people will probably remain frequently in that part of the country.

We have had very great trials. The Fuegians tried to open the store house, and steal the provisions, and yesterday Huissale took offence, and was in a great rage with us, but we committed ourselves to God, reading the first 4 verses of Isaiah 26. It pleased our gracious God to turn his heart, he received the present which he had in his fret refused, and now all is smooth again, excepting that he has quartered himself and one of his young children upon us, and insists that whenever we eat, he and his child must eat with us. We are obliged to receive him at all times, whenever he chooses to come into our house, as also any one whom he brings with him.

Circumstances have materially altered since I was here last, but I feel assured that God will overrule all for good. The houses are very badly built - too weak - not strong enough even to contend with the wind, which is often very high here. I have been hard at work carpentering, and they are now tolerably secure.

Pray for us, for we are in great need of succour from on high. All our dependence is in our Covenant God who has dealt mercifully with us. Do not let anything deter our friends in England from sending us supplies and a Catechist for otherwise we shall soon have no provisions, as we are obliged to give all that the Chief demands. [ends]

Committee Members present at the reading of these letters
Rev. C. D. Maitland
R. C. Glyn Esq.
Rev. R. I. Smith
Dr. Bradley
Rev. E. E. Wilmot
Dr. Davies RN
Sir Thomas Blomefield Bt. (Secretary)

Source: Proceedings of the Brighton Missionary Association for Patagonia (2 June 1845)
Thanks: Denis Chevallay
Updated: 14-IV-2003