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Dossier: Entanglements of Architecture and Comfort beyond the Temperate Zone - 2

London’s uncertain comforts: Fuegian travelers and the indeterminate geography of climate and health

Voyageurs fuéguiens à Londres : entre confort incertain et géographie indéterminée de la santé et du climat
William M. Taylor

Résumés

Le phénomène que John Crowley nomme « invention » du confort a été façonné par l’urbanisation européenne et les bouleversements démographiques qui l’ont accompagnée, avec le déplacement et la concentration d’une population toujours plus nombreuse dans les métropoles des régions tempérées telles que Londres, Paris et New York. Ces centres urbains renfermaient un savoir, une expertise technico-scientifique et des capitaux indispensables aux succès coloniaux et commerciaux à l’étranger, favorisant la connaissance d’autres régions climatiques et des populations qui y vivaient. Avec la venue (volontaire ou non) de représentants de ces populations dans les capitales européennes, l’intérêt qui se développe à l’époque pour la géographie et les exhibitions humaines peut être rétrospectivement rapproché de la topographie médicale, discipline qui a émergé dans les années 1820 à la croisée des notions de géographie, climat, races et maladies. La discipline s’appuyait sur les théories de Parménide et Aristote, selon lesquels le globe était divisible en zones climatiques distinctes déterminant les caractéristiques des êtres humains y demeurant. Elle s’accordait aussi avec l’anatomie comparative et le racisme scientifique, selon lesquels les extrêmes observés en matière de températures et de climat dans certaines régions expliquaient les « anomalies » physionomiques et sensorielles jugées présentes chez certains des individus qui en étaient issus et que l’on exhibait dans les rues, sur les scènes et dans les cercles intellectuels européens. Ces rencontres et les traces qui en subsistent témoignent du rôle de la mobilité mondiale dans le raisonnement géographique à l’œuvre dans ces discours et ceux des périodes suivantes. L’histoire de Yamana Jemmy Button, un homme de la Terre de Feu arrivé à Londres en 1830 et reparti un an plus tard dans sa région, au climat froid et venteux, permettra d’examiner l’invention du confort sous l’angle de sources historiques et théoriques diverses (récits de voyage, théorie médicale et climatique, histoire de l’environnement, théorie architecturale, etc.). L’article vise à élargir la thèse de John Crowley, en particulier quant à la contribution du spectacle et de la culture matérielle à la construction sociale du confort. Nous examinerons les écueils du déterminisme géographique mis en évidence par la science hygiénique et l’immunologie du XIXe siècle et par la somme croissante des données scientifiques se basant sur l’observation directe du climat. Ces développements ont permis d’établir des liens entre maladies, populations humaines, milieux urbains et constructions de manière nuancée et sensible aux variations environnementales. L’article conclut sur l’importance ici de l’histoire navale et le rôle particulier joué par des navires tels que le HMS Beagle qui transporta les Fuégiens en Angleterre avant de les ramener chez eux.

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Texte intégral

Figure 1: “Illustration of a Fuegian, Yapoo Tekenika.”

Figure 1: “Illustration of a Fuegian, Yapoo Tekenika.”

Source: Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836, describing their examination of the Southern shores of South America, and the Beagle's circumnavigation of the globe, London: Henry Colburn, 1839. Provided under Creative Commons license and the Wellcome Collection. URL: https://wellcomecollection.org/​works/​sc3c693w

Indigenous encounters

  • 1 Following his retirement from the navy, Fitzroy was elected to the Royal Society and appointed to (...)

1On a day in late December 1826, Captain Philip King of the HMS Adventure piloted his ship into the Straits of Magellan and Tierra del Fuego, territory at the far southernmost reaches of South America. It was summer in the antipodean region, though the weather commonly defeated expectations for the season acquired in northern climes. King was accompanied by Robert Fitzroy, able surveyor, pioneering meteorologist and future ethnographer.1 Fitzroy was captain of the HMS Beagle, the second ship to make up the expedition. The two ships followed a course that had been more or less known to European navigators, adventurers, and scientists for over three centuries. Most ship captains preferred to attempt to navigate the Strait’s large tides, irregular shorelines and inclement weather rather than risk Cape Horn’s mountainous seas, hence the British Admiralty’s interest to survey the region.

  • 2 Cited by Robert Fitzroy, Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty’s Ships Adventure and B (...)
  • 3 José Quiroga, cited in Mirela Altic, “Jesuits at Sea: José Quiroga and José Cardiel–Two Complement (...)

2The commissions proceeded although (or because) “the prospects” of the Straits, warned one of Captain King’s predecessors who made the passage “had more the appearance of a chaos than of nature.”2 The “chaos” the sailor invoked was in parts geophysical and meteorological, appertaining to place and the meaningfulness of geographical locales derived from their topography and climate. But the disorder was also broadly existential, alluding to the inhospitable regions and moral barrens commonly believed to characterize Europe’s distant ‘other’ places. The practical concerns of European travelers to voyage safely, to map, and ultimately to exploit the region’s natural resources had long supported missionary interests there. The eighteenth-century Portuguese Jesuit navigator and missionary José Quiroga described places where the coast appeared to him deserted and where he (falsely) concluded there were “no Indians anywhere near the sea […] because of the salty and fruitless earth.”3

  • 4 Scholarship on the sources and contradictions of the nature and culture dichotomy is vast. The aut (...)

3The background story to this article is well known owing to early publication of King’s account of the expedition and the longer record of voyages to the territory. Moreover, the passage of the two ships initiated an episode of consequence for the theory of comfort. The episode’s contribution to Victorian- era speculation on the multiple and uncertain influences of geography, climate, and race on human distinctiveness and vitality—about nature and culture, more or less (although the terms and dichotomy fail to fully frame the critical issues at stake)—merits further scrutiny.4

  • 5 Jean Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the origin of inequality among men (c. 1755); quoted passage b (...)

4Fitzroy’s encounters with the natives of Tierra del Fuego in particular called upon and reinforced the complex and largely bifurcated caricature of indigenous people and their environs that had shaped (imperfectly) received wisdom by his day. There were various ways to articulate the difference depending on one or the other perspective or acquired interest. Among the learned, versed in the writings of Rousseau, Laugier and other Enlightenment scholars, it was the difference between the idea of the “noble savage” (following Rousseau) who seemed perfectly accommodated to their natural surroundings, on the one hand, and “the primitive” whose apparent indifference to wild nature, their nakedness and exposure to extremes of heat and cold (or an “uncomfortable damp that penetrates everywhere” as Laugier put it) was understood as brutish, signaling susceptibility to disease and moral dissipation, on the other.5 Complicating matters further, the noble savage’s apparent ease in their environs was seen as evidence of a prelapsarian state by some scholars, or the result of a proto-evolutionary process by others. For the social reformer or architectural visionary, the difference was more one of means than ends. Reformers may well have wondered whether the attributes and prospects for each race were fixed or, on the contrary, could be improved by means of a Christian education and a built environment that aimed to ensure the health and well-being—and the comfort—of everyone.

  • 6 Philip D. Curtin, “‘The White Man's Grave’: Image and Reality, 1780-1850,” Journal of British Stud (...)
  • 7 Mark Harrison, “Differences of Degree: Representations of India in British Medical Topography, 182 (...)

5Medical topography, combining geographical reasoning and medical sciences, provided one framework for elaborating, if not easily resolving these differences. Both an outcome of and support for European imperialism and global commerce, the discourse led colonial authorities, scholars, and medical experts to establish the character and range of physiological attributes, productive capacities, and endemic infirmities of subject peoples. Medical topography also supported acclimatization theory and practices, including the so-called “seasoning” prescribed for Europeans settled in tropical climes to mitigate disease. It justified the periodic retreat of colonials in hilltop or coastal districts where their health was hoped to be preserved or restored. Though popularized by fearful accounts of the “white man’s grave” associated with sweltering, humid, and insect-ridden locales in Africa, acclimatization theory was ambiguous, like medical topography, generally.6 As Mark Harrison observes, in view of its representations of Indian peoples from the 1820s to 70s, the discourse was “not so much medical as moral, political, and aesthetic.”7

  • 8 Literature on the encounter includes works of historical scholarship, fiction, and theatre. Schola (...)

6As well as highlighting the influence and sources of racial interpretation and prejudice, there is another aspect to Fitzroy’s encounter with the Yamana that inspires this article. His observations of the Fuegians were not limited to views from the ship’s deck, his spyglass, or meteorological observations. Famously, he either coerced or enticed (the circumstances remain vague) four of the indigenous people to board his ship. He then returned with them to London. Fitzroy’s action thereby promised the captain, his crew and crowds of curious Londoners multiple occasions to observe their reactions to the “temperate” metropolis and to anticipate the natives’ transformation by what were believed to be the city’s civilizing influences.8

  • 9 Coll Thrush, Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire, New Haven, CT: Yale Unive (...)

7The kidnapping of indigenous peoples from the Americas by Europeans had been going on for centuries. Natives were captured to indulge aristocratic patrons and satisfy curious observers at home. They were taken and trained to be translators for future commercial and colonial exploits, to extract potentially useful information about the territories visited, or, simply, to be slaves. During the Elizabethan period, for instance, scores of Algonquin, Inuit and other native-American captives were brought to London. By the early seventeenth century the abduction of native peoples from colonial Virginia was government policy.9 Supporting academic, socio-geographical and proto-anthropological interests in indigenous people and their dwellings—their “wigwams” and “tepees” as they were commonly caricatured—was a series of ship brigs, portside dungeons, “guest” houses and schools in which the natives were held captive and trained to behave like their hosts.

8It was not that Fitzroy and his missionary accomplices believed London’s temperate climate would be the determining factor in the indigenes’ transformation. It was not that England’s geography or meteorology would effectively acclimatize them to the place or “undo” whatever influence Tierra del Fuego’s harsh environs may have had on the region’s native inhabitants. (Although, as related below, at least one observer believed there was an obvious physiological change and visible transformation in Jemmy Button’s appearance resulting from his tenure in London.) Rather, encounters with native travelers contributed to a shift in scholarly and public opinion that had gained traction by the late Victorian era. A new and complex perspective opened that directed attention towards an environmental context in which climate conjoined with other variables, including biological and social factors, hygiene, and disease, that governed whether the native travelers and their hosts withered or thrived.

  • 10 The author is grateful to the special issue’s editors for encouraging work on this aspect of Crowl (...)

9There is an element of spectacle to the episode that connects, but then also distinguishes the Fuegian arrivals in London from scores of native disembarkations over the preceding centuries. Spectacle brings us to John Crowley’s thesis and the tension he observes between the discourse on comfort and the threat to privacy experienced by Britain’s propertied classes as the metropolis burgeoned. This was a pattern of evolving sensibility and design informed by monastic traditions as well as colonial and economic dynamics.10 Fitzroy’s concern to secure a measure of seclusion for his charges upon their arrival in London arose partly from the desire to manage the crowds of boisterous, gawking, and hawking bystanders that had long followed native travelers around the city. Moreover, privacy was thought necessary to preserve the health of the travelers. It was long known indigenous people were particularly susceptible to smallpox and other European diseases for which they appeared to have no resistance, the concept of acquired immunity being a relatively new biological concept and social idea.

  • 11 James Weddell, A Voyage Toward the South Pole: Performed in the Years 1822-24, London: Longman et (...)

10Contributing to the spectacle of native travelers in London, the episode that inspires this article also has noteworthy urban and domestic aspects. These first appear on board ship and then along the crowded streets and within the public spaces and the domestic interiors to which the natives were introduced for the first time. These aspects were further made evident by observations of Fuegian reactions to British material culture, including reporting on the indigenes’ seeming disregard for the value of material goods and property. James Weddell, a sealer and natural scientist who made repeated voyages to South America and the Antarctic region, was an observer of Fuegian behavior. He noted the natives seemed to have no need for a chief and that “the philanthropic principle” they showed to one another promised they may one day “be instructed in those arts which raise man above the brute.”11

  • 12 Richard Connaughton, Omai: The Prince Who Never Was, London: Timewell, 2005, p. 246.

11In this case and other narratives about returned travelers, objects defined status in different ways. The custom to share and distribute gifts observed among the Fuegians and other indigenous peoples posed a unique problem for Europeans seeking to impose their domestic lifestyles and architecture on native communities. Nails and other fittings accenting or holding buildings together, for instance, were commonly admired, valued and pilfered by natives, leaving missionary and settler houses—and the comforts demonstrated within—to wrack and ruin. Upon his return to Tahiti in August 1777, the native “Prince” Omai (or Mai) was provided by Captain James Cook’s ship carpenters with a European-style house, furniture, and garden (also a vineyard). These were meant to represent and reinforce Omai’s cultured status following his tenure in London and so also encourage respect for English ways and property. Cook’s carpenters provided him with a “one-room building 24 feet by 18 feet by 10 feet high, with a small attic. Nails were used sparingly so as not to be an incentive for others to destroy the house.”12 However, as one crewman observed:

  • 13 Ibid., p. 246.

Omai was not well satisfied with his house which we had built for him and said His Majesty the King of England had promised him a house with a second floor and that this was only a one-storey structure such as was used for housing pigs in England.13

  • 14 David Shribman, “One Man’s Evolution,” Wall Street Journal (European edition), 17 May 1991, p. 13.

12The abduction of Fitzroy’s natives and then their return to Tierra del Fuego on the HMS Beagle’s second voyage forms a telling chapter in a longer story. It was one whereby indigenous arrivals in the temperate metropolis contributed to a growing body of knowledge that confronted belief in the direct connection and determining impacts of geography and climate on human identity. As David Shribman observes, Robert Fitzroy possessed “a missionary’s zeal, a scientist’s mien, and a mystical belief in the power of a new instrument called the barometer to transform not only the nautical sciences but man's relationship with his environment.”14 As it happened, the climatological interests of Fitzroy and his contemporaries were unable to forecast or predict the outcome of the Fuegians’ encounter with London or the extent and character of the city’s transformative impacts.

The Fuegian travelers

13The passage of the Adventure and Beagle through the Straits of Magellan was the first (1826-1830) of three successive expeditions commissioned by the British government to include surveys of Tierra del Fuego. The second (1831-1836) is more commonly celebrated for it included Charles Darwin’s voyage on board the Beagle, on his circumnavigation of the world. (The third (1837-1843) played an important role in the British survey and further colonization of Australia.) Darwin’s fame was enlarged by his diary account of the second journey The Voyage of the Beagle (the title commonly given to the book published as his Journal and Remarks), included as the final book of the three-volume historical account of all three expeditions, edited by Robert Fitzroy and published in 1839 with the short title The Narrative of the Voyages of H. M. Ships Adventure and Beagle.

  • 15 Anne Chapman provides an account of the Yamana that includes a map showing the extent of their hom (...)
  • 16 Captain Philip King, in Robert Fitzroy, The Narrative of the Surveying Voyages. Volume I, op. cit.(...)
  • 17 Ibid., p. 20.

14In King’s account of the first voyage, the captain relates his contact with the indigenous peoples of the territory who he calls the “Patagonians” and the “Fuegians.” These were both uncertain geographical appellations at the time. They could have described any one or more of several groups of people now recognized to have inhabited the cold, windswept, rainy region, including the Alakaluy, the Selknam, and the Yamana people.15 The published volume (I) describing events of the first expedition includes as its frontispiece a London illustrator’s representation of a travelling party of Patagonians, people to whom King, according to his diary, was favorably disposed. Encountering them early in the passage, at Gregory Bay on the northern shore of the Strait, he described them being all “robust in appearance, and with respect to the head, length of body, and breadth of shoulders, of gigantic size.”16 King singled out for praise one Patagonian male in particular who had a face that was “full of expression” and proved “good-tempered, and easily pleased.”17 In the frontispiece illustration, the indigenes, one standing obliquely to the image frame, the others riding horseback behind him, are drawn barefoot, but fully wrapped in animal skin mantles against the inclement weather.

  • 18 Mirela Altic, “Jesuits at Sea,” op  cit. (note 3), p. 166.
  • 19 Ibid., p. 166-167.

15King reveals little about the Patagonian settlements he may have seen. Given the scarcity of detail, readers could have surmised they were essentially nomadic people. Consulting Portuguese ship logs and diary accounts of Patagonia’s indigenous people, Mirela Altic relates how navigator-missionaries José Quiroga and José Cardiel found neither fixed settlements nor cemeteries. Instead of houses, the Patagonians “used a crude store covered with horse skins while the southern people located at the Rio Sauce used guanaco leather, an animal similar to a small camel.”18 She concludes (with “postmodern” terms) they were people who, unlike their European counterparts, “preferred mobility over fixity, constitute territories whose limits cannot be understood as precise boundaries but rather as transition zones.”19

  • 20 Philip King, in Robert Fitzroy, The Narrative of the Voyages. Volume I, op. cit. (note 2), p. 23.
  • 21 Ibid., p. 23.
  • 22 Ibid., p. 24.

16By contrast, and perhaps in view of similar structures, King was contemptuous of the Fuegians he encountered further along the Strait, on its southern shore where the tribe appeared to be isolated. He described their “wigwams” as crude, constructed of bent branches, with a slight covering of smaller limbs and skins and a fire in the middle which “half fills the hut with smoke.”20 (fig. 1) He observed the men were “very slightly clothed” with only their backs covered by a seal’s skin, though he admitted the women were more fully protected with fur mantles.21 King wrote that the Fuegians “appeared to be a most miserable, squalid race, very inferior, in every respect to the Patagonians.”22 His sentiments were echoed by Fitzroy. Proceeding on the Beagle once again through the Straits on the 13th April 1829 following a hiatus in the passage to replenish supplies in Buenos Aires, Fitzroy and his crew saw some people, including a young woman, walking on the beach:

  • 23 Robert Fitzroy, The Narrative of the Voyages. Volume I, op. cit. (note 2), p. 216. Dutch explorers (...)

Their figures reminded me of drawings of the Esquimaux [possibly Inuit, though the term was used loosely at the time], being rather below the middle size, wrapped in rough skins, with their hair hanging down on all sides, like old thatch, and their skins of a reddish brown colour, smeared over with oil, and very dirty. Their features were bad, but peculiar; and, if physiognomy can be trusted, indicated cunning, indolence, passive fortitude, deficient intellect, and want of energy […] The young woman would not have been ill-looking, had she been well scrubbed, and all the yellow clay with which she was bedaubed, washed away. I think they use the clayey mixture for warmth rather than for show, as it stops the pores of the skin, preventing evaporation and keeping out the cold air.23

  • 24 Philip King, in Robert Fitzroy, The Narrative of the Voyages. Volume I, op. cit. (note 2), p. 429.

17In 1830 King and Fitzroy returned from this voyage with four Fuegians, including Jemmy Button (or so he was named), then about 12 or 14 years old. Details of Jemmy’s kidnapping remain vague even though the episode has long attracted study by scholars, novelists and playwrights. Fitzroy perhaps bought Jemmy from his family for the price of a mother-of-pearl button or Jemmy was given the item by the naval officer as an inducement to voluntarily accompany the ship’s crew on its return voyage to England, along with additional “beads, buttons and other trifles.”24 In some period newspaper reports the Fuegians are simply called “prisoners.”

18The Beagle arrived at Plymouth in mid-October 1830. The ship’s long-awaited return was reported in many local and national newspapers. Under the headline “Interesting Voyage of Discovery” the Morning Post said:

  • 25 Quoted in Nick Hazlewood, Savage: The Life and Times of Jemmy Button, op. cit. (note 8), p. 50.

The Beagle has brought to England four natives of Tierra del Fuego…taken prisoners, during the time that the Beagle was employed on the southwest coast of that country … [Captain Fitzroy’s] intentions are to procure them a suitable education, and in the course of a few years, to send or take them back to their own country. He hopes that by their assistance the condition of the savages inhabiting the Fuegian Archipelago may be in some measure improved, and that they may be rendered less hostile to strangers. At present they are the lowest of mankind, and, without a doubt, cannibals.25

19The correspondent’s charge of cannibalism was likely false. However, it was an offense routinely reported in the popular media, adding to fascination with the Fuegians and stories of their savageness and then progress towards civilization. It was also widely believed that progress demanded Christian conversion. Trained in the religion in England, it was intended from the start that Jemmy and his fellow travelers would be returned to Tierra del Fuego so they might promote Christian beliefs. Moreover, by their example, the reformed natives were intended to encourage the righteous disgust of cannibalism in lands along the Straits of Magellan, so that shipwrecked English sailors need never again fear being eaten.

  • 26 Robert Fitzroy, Narrative of the Surveying Voyages, Volume II. Proceedings of the Second Expeditio (...)
  • 27 Ibid., p. 7.
  • 28 Ibid., p. 7.

20Upon their arrival in England, Jemmy and his tribesmen were brought to “comfortable, airy lodgings” where they spent the next two days.26 Fitzroy was reportedly “anxious to protect the Fuegians, as far as possible, from the contagion of any of those disorders, sometimes prevalent, and which unhappily have so often proved fatal to the aboriginal natives of distant countries when brought to Europe.”27 On their third day in England, the Fuegians were removed to Castle Farm, a rural retreat a few miles outside of Plymouth, where Fitzroy hoped they would be able to “enjoy more freedom and fresh air, and, at the same time, incur less risk of contagion than in a populous sea-port town, where curiosity would be excited.”28

21Repeated references to the requisites of “fresh air” and “freedom” from contagion (as well as excessive public contact and scrutiny) speak to prevailing understanding of the sanitary (also miasmic), demographic, and communicable contexts for disease. The references also demonstrate there was more to England’s temperate climate than the moderating effects of mild weather.

Columbian and cultural exchange

  • 29 Research so far has not determined whether similar advice was given to missionaries to Patagonia a (...)
  • 30 Lee Boo, an aristocratic youth from Belau, arrived in Portsmouth on 14 July, 1784 and then travell (...)

22The environment highlighted and degraded by London’s densely populated streets and unhealthy residential and industrial districts is the background for the Fuegians’ arrival in the metropolis. The city’s crowds, ceaseless traffic, noise, and pollution entered into their benefactors’ calculations to more or less quarantine the native travelers as the necessary first step to “improving” them. Improvement by means of English language training, Christian education, and visits to cultural sites could only succeed if the natives were protected from the life-threatening diseases that were endemic among Britain’s urban population, carried overseas by its ships, and known to be particularly virulent among indigenous populations. Whereas colonial settlers in the British Empire’s tropical territories were commonly warned to seek the safety of health retreats periodically, by comparison, London’s native travelers were often escorted to “safe” extra-mural districts or city clinics after their arrival.29 In the clinics they were inoculated (more on this below), a revolutionary and risky procedure that continued to be debated well into the nineteenth century. Likewise, whereas the language and science of “acclimatization” accompanied the transportation of plant and animal species throughout the Empire for much of its history, the Fuegians were accommodated to their surroundings by means of their forced infection with forms of virus (commonly cowpox virus, a less virulent cousin of smallpox). Their experience can be likened to the “seasoning” of colonials, slaves, and indentured laborers in malaria-ridden regions, though achieved by means of their scratching by a virus-laden needle and a much accelerated time-frame for acquiring immunity. Not everyone was saved by the treatments.30

  • 31 Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, New York, NY; London: Norton, (...)
  • 32 Charles Mann, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, New York, NY: Knopf, 2011; see part (...)

23With hindsight, the Fuegians were caught up in the “Columbian Exchange” that determined what geographer and physiologist Jared Diamond called the “fates of human societies.”31 This is where the movement of people, and their exposure of sources of infectious disease arising outside indigenous territories, have prompted new ways for thinking about connections between climate and racial typologies.32 The migration of species introduced yet another, dynamic dimension to relations understood to exist between geography and human physiology as well. The contribution of pathogenic species, including invasive bacteria, viruses, and parasitic protozoa, to patterns of human resilience and vulnerability was often a hidden or only vaguely understood (but readily apparent) factor determining “the fates” of many indigenous captives, performers, and emissaries transported to London from abroad.

  • 33 Nick Hazlewood, The Life and Times of Jemmy Button, op. cit. (note 8), p. 54.

24Seeking institutional support for his captives, Fitzroy approached the Reverend J.L. Harris to intervene on his behalf with the Church Missionary Society, an organization that “had a long-running, though not necessarily successful, track record of bringing indigenous peoples to England.”33 Fitzroy and Harris were largely successful in their appeal to London’s missionaries. Jemmy and his companions, including the tribeswoman who was given the name Fuegia, were enrolled in the Walthamstow Infants School near the city and their training began. Reportedly, Fitzroy wished to downplay the presence of the Fuegians in the metropolis in order to avoid the kind of public and media circus to which native travelers were bound. He attempted to restrict their access outside of Walthamstow to a small coterie of friends and family and introducing them on occasion to one or another learned person or aristocrat. (The group was presented to the King William IV and Queen Adelaide at Kew Gardens, the later famously giving Fuegia a prized bonnet.)

25Fitzroy also brought the Fuegians to a phrenologist, reinforcing belief that the quality of a person’s intellectual capacity and possibly other attributes—including the record of birthplace and situational circumstances, if not yet “the environment” per se—could be read on individual bodies. As Darwin historian Janet Browne relates about Jemmy and his fellow travelers:

  • 34 Janet Browne, Charles Darwin. Voyaging, Volume 1 of a Biography, New York, NY: Knopf, 1995, p. 235

All three, the phrenologist concluded, possessed several marked “animal” traits that would be difficult to eradicate, even through education. Their intellectual bumps—those associated with civilized mankind—were found to be small, whereas their “propensities”—the parts of the brain believed most characteristic of a barbarian—were large and full.34

26Despite these apparent shortcomings, the education of the natives at the Walthamstow School (and in London generally) appeared to be successful. Subsequently, as Hazlewood observes:

  • 35 Nick Hazlewood, The Life and Times of Jemmy Button, op. cit. (note 8), p. 82-83.

In eleven months the two [Jemmy and Fuegia] went, in British eyes, from primitive beasts content with a scrap of fur as a shoulder cover to well-dressed poseurs. Jemmy, in particular, loved the indulgence of fine clothes, gleaming shoes and kid gloves. He could not pass a mirror without preening. The transformation was remarkable. Giving a speech to a rally in Bedford twenty-five years later, Lieutenant [Bartholomew] Sulivan [an officer of the Beagle] still remembered the boy’s vanity when, at the end of his time in England, he returned to the ship: “Jemmy was the favorite…and his progress in civilization was most conspicuous in his excessive dandyism. In his own country two years previously he was a naked savage, but then, even in weather that made the officers thankful for their rough coats and greased boots, he would make his appearance on deck with polished boots and well brushed broad cloth…”.35

27Upon his return to Tierra del Fuego in 1831 with Jemmy and the two Fuegian tribespeople who survived their London captivity (the third companion died of smallpox in England), Fitzroy had opportunity to underscore Jemmy’s remarkable transformation in comparison to his tribespeople who appeared along the Strait of Magellan’s shores. Apparently, Jemmy’s education and encounter with the metropolis had not only changed the captive’s language and dress, but also his physical appearance. Observing the native Fuegians on the Beagle’s second voyage, the captain wrote:

  • 36 Robert Fitzroy, Narrative of the Surveying Voyages, Volume II, op. cit. (note 2), p. 175.

Their eyes are small, sunken, black, and as restless as those of savages in general. Their eyelids are made red and watery by the wood smoke in their wigwams. The chin varies much; that of a Tekeenica is smaller and less prominent than that of an Alikhoolip, in who it is large and rather projecting, but there is much variety. The nose is always narrow between the eyes, and, except in a few curious instances, is hollow, in profile outline, or almost flat. The mouth is coarsely formed (I speak of them in their savage state, and not of those who were in England, whose features were much improved by altered habits, and by education).36

28Darwin was far less impressed. The 1830s were noteworthy not only for his thinking on adaptation. Moreover, the period was marked by the arrival of London Zoo’s first orangutan, providing additional material for Darwin’s theory of evolution. The primate was named Jenny, dolled up in children’s clothes and obliged to compete with Jemmy and other natives for public attention. As Felipe Fernández Armesto observes:

  • 37 Felipe Fernández Armesto, Millennium: A History of Our Last Thousand Years, New York, NY: Scribner (...)

Darwin preferred little Jenny, with her pretty clothes and tentative self-control, to the intractable Fuegians, but earlier observers had been less fastidious, representing classical postures and physiques around the Straits of Magellan, where Darwin saw only a difference between savage and civilized man “greater than that between a wild and domesticated animal.” Early observers had beheld the practice of social nakedness with awe, as a survival from a golden age of sylvan innocence, of which classical poets sang, or as evidence of almost pre-lapsarian sinlessness. To Darwin, the same phenomenon was another instance of animal adaptation, which enabled the Fuegians to endure, unclad in the bitter cold of their habitat.37

  • 38 Dandeson Coates, quoted in Nick Hazlewood, Savage, op. cit. (note 8), p. 102.
  • 39 Ibid., p. 102.

29In preparation for their return to Tierra del Fuego, a young “mechanic missionary” was found, Richard Matthews. He agreed to accompany Jemmy and his native companions and establish a mission among their tribespeople. Dandeson Coates, the lay secretary to the Church Missionary Society, instructed Matthews to familiarize himself with the Fuegian languages by regularly communicating with the native returnees while on board ship. Matthews was encouraged to use the Bible as the basis for lessons, but also told it was the “temporal advantages” he should communicate to the natives, these being foremost the “acquisition of better dwellings, and better and more plentiful clothing” to which the Fuegians would “be most easily and immediately sensible” and amenable.38 Animal husbandry and agriculture were a priority, Coates instructed the missionary, as well as construction of a “commodious habitation.”39 Hazlewood writes:

  • 40 Ibid., p. 102.

Example was to be Matthews’s watchword, Coates concluded. By fencing off a piece of land for himself, with a clean, orderly house, a well-stocked garden and a flourishing supply of live-stock, the natives would learn the advantages of changing their traditional ways.40

  • 41 Charles Darwin, in Janet Browne, Charles Darwin, op. cit. (note 34), p. 252.

30To assist the enterprise, the Society established a subscription fund to provide tools, furnishings, and additional means of advancement. Darwin’s dismay was stoked by the quantity and choice of gifts collected. They included a quantity of European clothing, tools, ironmongery and earthenware, but also a large number of “fashionable London luxuries” such as toilette services, cut glass decanters, and fine white linen. The evolutionist believed these commodities were wholly inappropriate, the store demonstrating the “culpable folly and negligence” of benefactors.41

  • 42 David Shribman, “One Man’s Evolution,” op. cit. (note 14), p. 13.

31The picture of Jemmy, the dandified Londoner with this shipload of goods returning to his native land, challenges the straightforward representation of the native Fuegian as either a noble savage or a product of evolution. Jemmy’s behavior following his arrival in Tierra del Fuego was clearly remarkable, given period accounts and mixed expectations for his return. Shortly after he disembarked from the Beagle and was reunited with his family and estranged tribespeople, he notoriously cast off his European clothing and finery and resumed (at least for a period) his former “savage” nakedness. A year later an English expedition returned to Tierra del Fuego to find “a skinny, hungry, filthy and half-blind Jemmy Button, caught betwixt two worlds.”42 As Ruth Mayer observes:

  • 43 Ruth Mayer, “The Things of Civilization, the Matters of Empire: Representing Jemmy Button,” New Li (...)

In the following years and decades, indeed until our days, the story of Jemmy Button has been told over and over again, with so many variations and ramifications that it is hard to come up with one definitive version. Jemmy Button's fate was taken as proof that civilization shall eventually rule the world, or, conversely, as evidence that savagery will prevail or even gain the upper hand. He appeared at times as the upwardly mobile hero of a successful story of modernization, at other times as a sly trickster figure moving between the worlds, then again he was envisioned as the atavistic primitive who will forever hold on to his brutal heritage; he was made out as victim or as perpetrator, agent or inert object—depending on who told what part of his story in what format, at which point in time, and with what goal in mind.43

Model houses and the change of weather

  • 44 William Parker Snow, The “Patagonian Missionary Society,” and Some Truths Connected with It, Londo (...)
  • 45 George Pakenham Despard quoted by Anne Chapman, European Encounters, op. cit. (note 11), p. 348.

32In 1858, the mission Jemmy’s London benefactors had intended for him, following his return to South America, was back on track. Anglican clergyman and Patagonian Missionary Society member George Pakenham Despard convinced Jemmy to board ship again. Along with several members of his family and a number of their tribespeople, Jemmy was taken to Keppel Island, a remote British colonial outpost some distance offshore from West Falkland Island and about ten days’ sailing journey from Tierra del Fuego and the Yamana native land. The Despard family had arrived on Keppel Island in August 1856 and came to occupy one of two prefabricated timber cottages shipped out from England for the missionaries, houses complete with “flooring, roofs, windows, and doors, and wooden fittings.”44 Despard and his wife hoped Jemmy would stay for a while (he stayed five months in the end) and play a pivotal role to establish a missionary base there. Despard envisioned the move would lay “the bridge for constant traffic between the Fuegians and us” so that it “secures the good treatment of our Missionaries from his tribe.”45

  • 46 Reverend George Pakenham Despard, Hope Deferred, Not Lost. A Narrative of Missionary Effort in Sou (...)
  • 47 Ibid., p. 349.
  • 48 Ibid., p. 369.
  • 49 Despard, 1859; quoted ibid., p. 369.

33Despard prepared a written account of his experiences. The missionary believed he treated Jemmy and his family on Keppel Island in the “very best manner” possible.46 An abandoned brick storehouse was made into a dwelling for them, with a wooden “board floor, a tight roof, a comfortable bed and plenty of blankets” as well as a chimney for warmth and cooking.47 The party of Fuegians at Keppel Island were also given tools, instructions, and encouragement to build a second house—amounting to hands-on guidance on how to take responsibility for their own comfort. Chapman records Despard’s insistence that the structure “was not just for the missionaries, [but] that it was also to show the natives, ‘a very improved style of dwelling, and quite within their capacity to make.’”48 Despard was pleased with the early results of his experiment, observing how, a few days later, Jemmy’s youngest wife Jamesina slept in the mission house “even without roof” and had found it much warmer “than their own uccers [wigwams].”49

  • 50 Ibid., p. 369.
  • 51 James Weddell, A Voyage Toward the South Pole, op. cit. (note 11), p. 187.
  • 52 Ibid, p. 188.
  • 53 W. H. B. Webster, Narrative of a Voyage to the Southern Atlantic Ocean, in the Years 1828, 29, 30, (...)

34As Chapman wryly observes the house was warmer to be sure, given the month was December and it was summer in the Southern Hemisphere, but the building was not so warm during the winter months on the Island.50 The historian’s offhand comment provides an opportunity to pause and consider how global moves, including colonial and missionary exploits resulting in building projects such as the Fuegians’ new house, contributed to a nuanced or more “realistic” understanding of the particularities of place identity, climate, and weather. These moves must be placed within the context of nineteenth-century developments in climate theory and meteorology. They led to a novel understanding that contrasted with and displaced the abstract idea of distinct geographic bands associated with the globe’s latitudinal division. Zones of frigid, temperate, and torrid temperatures could no longer account for variable human attributes such as physiognomy and behavioral responses to extremes of temperature and weather. James Weddell explored the Cape Horn region on several voyages. His geographical and climatological observations on his second voyage (1822-24), in particular, contributed to a more comprehensive understanding of Tierra del Fuego’s weather and the indigenous peoples’ manner of adapting to its seasonal patterns. He found that the long summer days and weather in the Cape Horn area, for instance, had “an enlivening effect; and, when the weather is fine and water smooth, the wildness of the scenery is quite romantic.”51 However, much depended on “the direction of the wind,” because the strong southerly winds from Antarctica, frequent in the middle of summer, resulted near-freezing temperatures. By contrast northerly wind brought weather “almost as fine as that of summer in England.”52 William H. B. Webster, a physician and naturalist on board the HMS Chanticleer on its 1828 voyage to the South Shetland Islands near Antarctica, was the first to publish an extensive analysis of the region’s weather. He correctly theorized that, unlike comparable northern latitudes where the sun’s rays fall mostly on land, greater solar radiation was absorbed in the area of Cape Horn owing to the large expanse and depth of the surrounding oceans. These were both factors accounting for the greater degree of mildness in the area, even in winter, and more uniform oceanic and atmospheric temperatures prevailing there. However, like Weddell, Webster insisted that the beneficial effects of these circumstances were offset and the climate rendered intemperate by the direction and force of the winds that often brought rain, hail, and sometimes snow.53

35Then again, responses to climate and extremes of weather were as culturally-nuanced and dynamic among indigenous peoples as they were for British and European societies. For example, Jemmy’s uncle was discovered to be among the Fuegians on Keppel Island. Despard described him as a yaccomosh (also spelled yakamush), a shaman, to whom the missionary added the epithet “Doctor of Weather.” The title was:

  • 54 Anne Chapman, European Encounters, op. cit. (note 11), p. 370.

[…] also correct as predicting and controlling the weather was an attribute (or obligation) of the yakamush. Despard noted that his “operations” were audible—not visible. From his “laboratory wigwam” Dr Button was heard moaning, having a fit of crying while “curing the weather.” Actually he was chanting, probably to induce a trance and request or beg the outer forces to improve the weather.54

36Compared to the shaman’s hut, the Fuegian missionary house on Keppel Island was intended to perform a demonstrative and edifying role, though it could be said there was also a spiritual quality about it—something about the soul. The purpose of the mission house was to teach the Fuegians about the building requirements for English domestic comforts as well as associated “mechanical” arts. It aimed to instill appreciation for the character traits of self-awareness and resourcefulness, necessary to realize those comforts.

  • 55 Tim Fulford, Debbie Lee and Peter J. Kitson, Literature, Science and Exploration in the Romantic Er (...)

37These aims were prefigured by a key object among those comprising a hoard of gifts and status-building assets given to the Tahitian Omai for his return trip to Tahiti as a passenger on Cook’s third voyage to the Pacific (1776-1780). Packed into the ship’s hold of the HMS Endeavour, which was already crowded with the necessary supplies for a long voyage and building material for Omai’s house, were gifts intended to support the European lifestyle the native had acquired in London and to enhance Omai’s reputation among his tribespeople. The stash included tools and a bed, table, and chairs, crockery and kitchenware (all unheard of in Tahiti), and a dolls house. The toy was included at the request of his hosts in England, to show “how Britons lived” and to communicate “in miniature the ideals of comfort and consumerism determining English domestic space.” 55

Conclusion: Imaginative extremes and shipborne comforts

  • 56 Felipe Fernández Armesto, Millennium, op. cit. (note 39), p. 435, fig. 15.1.

38In Millennium (1995) Felipe Fernández Armesto includes the image of a Fuegian drawn by Conrad Martens, the artist on board the HMS Beagle during its second voyage to Tierra del Fuego (fig. 1). This was the journey that returned Jemmy Button to his native land. The illustration highlights a pivotal chapter in Armesto’s book that interprets the narrative and setting of Fitzroy’s and Darwin’s encounters with the region’s tribespeople as comprising one of history’s “graveyards of certainty” (the title of the chapter).56 By way of concluding, it is worth a pause to think about what this could mean.

39Consider again the “bifurcated caricature of indigenous people” described earlier in the article. The environmental perspective that emerged from the Enlightenment era demanded a broadened domain of discrimination than previously entailed either by the counterpoising of noble savages and insensible primitives or by connecting their provenance and fortunes to distinct climatic zones. These were two sources of deterministic or “certain” belief underpinning the geography and authority of medical topography that were displaced by environmental reasoning. There followed additional distinctions and doubt concerning the complexities of human nature.

40On the one hand, developments in evolutionary theory and the sciences of hygiene and immunology described the demographic and organic contexts for disease and its transmission, so that the viewer came to detect signs of vulnerability in the image of the Fuegian drawn by the Beagle’s artist. They understood that germs, viruses, and parasitic organisms occupied transient habitats that overlapped and intruded into the geographical regions and climatic zones occupied by their hosts. The dynamic interplay between spectacle and privacy that Crowley sees as contributing to the theory of comfort helps us understand the mixed responses to the indigenous arrivals in London, namely their exhibition and confinement. However, reasons for the latter were multiplied by the time Button and his companions arrived in the metropolis. The spectacle of native travelers in the capital’s crowded streets came to be congruent with a Malthusian concern for human populations and urban settings in which disease was understood, communicated, and combatted. The geography behind medical topography was challenged by the science of epidemiology that provided the rationale for preventive or prophylactic measures like sanitation, medical quarantine, and inoculation.

  • 57 Richard Connaughton, Omai, op. cit. (note 12), p. 121.
  • 58 Tomás Maldonado, “The Idea of Comfort,” Design Issues, vol. 8, no. 1, 1991, p. 35-43; and Jiat-Hwe (...)

41On the other hand, the theory and sociology of comfort suggested there were clearly indeterminate factors such as individual temperament and behavior, including practices of self-care, dress, and the material culture of well-tempered environs that governed whether or not natives like Button could hope to flourish once they were transported to “civilized” environs. As artefacts of material culture, the country retreats, city clinics, and inoculation rooms joined the domain of ship cabins, portside accommodation, and urban settings frequented by native travelers to reinforce architecture’s controlling and normalizing effects. The pedagogic intent behind the doll’s house that travelled with Omai on his return voyage can be compared to the steps taken to educate the Tahitian and other native travelers to London in the procedure and purpose of inoculation, their patrons grappling with the counter-intuitiveness of the practice (that one was exposed to the disease in order to acquire immunity).57 At the scale of the city, the fatality of many indigenous people transported to the temperate metropolis owing to smallpox and other diseases for which they had no immunity cast London, Paris, and New York as the counterpart to the “white man’s grave” more commonly associated with hot and humid climes. Subsequently, the understanding of environmental context outlined here provides additional support for theorists, like Crowley and others, who see the state of comfort as a historical and cultural construct, a normalizing contrivance, and a means of social control.58

42Finally, whereas Martens’ Fuegian could be seen as emblematic of the Columbian exchange, sailing ships like the HMS Beagle were foremost vehicles of the exchange. Ships were mobile agents in the global transfer of people, species and pathogens. They were also key sites for the acquisition of environmental knowledge, climate science, and meteorology.

43Few details are provided in Fitzroy’s Narrative of the Voyages of H. M. Ships Adventure and Beagle describing the standard of accommodation given the Fuegian travelers on board the vessels or how they experienced them. The ships were vehicles of conveyance, obviously, but also vessels in which the travelers were first closely observed and from which they were shown the material trappings of European civilization. Tours of London and its environs, aiming to show off the magnificent buildings, parks and botanical gardens, were routinely given to native travelers. They invariably began with the port where the indigene first landed in England. Touring then continued and commonly featured return visits to the country’s docklands. The outings served to impress as well as intimidate the visitors, and to remind them they were subject-people (or could be subjugated).

  • 59 Daniel J. Peacock, Lee Boo of Belau, op. cit. (note 30), p. 72-73.

44The vast fleets of sailing ships observed in port must have been at least remotely familiar to some native travelers (having arrived on one or another of the vessels in the first place or come from seafaring communities). However, they were also extraordinary. On travelling from his Pacific island home (now called Palau) to London in 1783, Lee Boo and his British escort stopped at Macao. Entering the first European-style house he had ever encountered, the native was reportedly impressed by its interior construction. He was said to have been astonished by rooms with smooth walls and flat ceilings that revealed nothing of their structure, unlike the Pacific island tropical architecture comprised of pole frames and thatched roofs.59 Lee Boo would have first encountered these novelties and the spatial sequestration they provided on board ship.

  • 60 Alain Corbin, The Foul and the Fragrant: Odour and the Social Imagination [First published as Le mi (...)

45Ships also served to convey British expertise. They were vehicles for the acquisition and distribution of power-knowledge required to transform native travelers into obedient subjects of European crowns. Historically, Alain Corbin tells us that ships, along with schools and prisons, offered instances in which the course of diseases and the effects of crowded spaces could be experienced long before they became an issue for nineteenth-century public-health reformers and urban planners. These were instrumental in the formation of both hygienic science and psychology and furthered thoughts on the nature of the senses of smell and personal space.60

  • 61 Ibid., p. 106.
  • 62 Stephen Hales, A description of ventilators: whereby great quantities of fresh air may with ease be (...)

46Vessels also played a role in the delivery of sanitary and immunological practices (such as inoculation) aimed at preventing disease. Captain James Cook’s Endeavour is particularly noteworthy in this regard. Corbin describes the vessel as “the first hygienic city in miniature.”61 Ten years after Stephen Hales published his Statical essays, in which he had applied investigations into the composition and behavior of air to the study of the circulation of fluids in plants and animals, the scientist described various devices, air-pumps and ventilators for exchanging the noxious vapors within ships, mines, jails, hospitals, and workhouses for plenty of fresh air, that “genuine Cordial of Life” as Hales described it.62

  • 63 Richard Connaughton, Omai, op. cit. (note 12), p. 89.

47On Cook’s second voyage to the South Pacific, the Captain’s apparent concern for the health of the Tongan islanders he encountered while provisioning the vessel meant that native women were forbidden from coming on board and no crewman was allowed on shore until they were first inspected by the ship’s surgeons and determined to be free of venereal disease.63 As an addendum to Corbin’s theory, it is worth noting that observations of discomforting and life-threatening diseases (including smallpox, measles, and scarlet fever) and their hoped-for remedy by means of the prophylactic agency of inoculation were both carried out on board the ship. The latter was also conducted, and in the case of Fitzroy’s Fuegian captives, repeated, on shore, two more times—in the cordon-sanitaire promised by sparsely populated rural locations and the inoculation clinics.

  • 64 Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London, vol. 1, 1861, p. 1.

48Besides conveying ship surgeons, the vessels also transported skilled craftsmen able to create simulacra of English domestic comforts, like the model dwelling erected on Keppel Island or Omai’s house on Tahiti. Ship captains and their crews were thus implicated in the export and installation of domestic regimes among indigenous communities. They could also be influential in the acquisition of new knowledge, including novel understanding of the requisites of comfort. Shortly before the end of his life, Robert Fitzroy wrote the leading article for the first volume of the Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London (1861), a learned society established in 1843 as an offshoot of the Aborigines’ Protection Society established six years earlier. Fitzroy’s paper argued for a nuanced view of the relationship between climate and racial identities. According to the former ship captain, retired Admiral and now ethnographer, climatic variables composed only one set of factors accounting for the diversity of human physiognomies, skin colors, and facial characteristics encountered around the world. Tellingly, the global traveler cited the persistent operation and historic patterns of human migration to account for the “principal varieties” of the human race.64

49It came to be reasonable that “civilization” was unlikely to be delivered simply by a change of environs, atmosphere, and barometric readings. As experiences in either London or Tierra del Fuego suggested, the links between a “temperate” climate, race, and disease—and comfort, in parts, as both means and measure of a healthy constitution—were multiple and only imprecisely determined.

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Notes

1 Following his retirement from the navy, Fitzroy was elected to the Royal Society and appointed to lead a new government department responsible for the collection of maritime weather data, forerunner to the UK Meteorological Office. See Robert Fitzroy, The Weather Book: A Manual of Practical Meteorology, London: Longman et al., 1863.

2 Cited by Robert Fitzroy, Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty’s Ships Adventure and Beagle, between the Years 1826 and 1836, describing their Examination of the Southern Shores of South America, and the Beagle’s Circumnavigation of the Globe, Volume I – Proceedings of the First Expedition, 1826-1830, London: Henry Colburn, 1839, p. 10.

3 José Quiroga, cited in Mirela Altic, “Jesuits at Sea: José Quiroga and José Cardiel–Two Complementary Views of Patagonia (1745-1746),” Terra Incognitae, vol. 49, no. 2, 2017, p. 160. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00822884.2017.1351599.

4 Scholarship on the sources and contradictions of the nature and culture dichotomy is vast. The author remains inspired by Paul Hirst and Penny Woolley, “Nature and Culture in Social Science: The Demarcation of Domains of Being in Eighteenth Century and Modern Discourses,” Geoforum, vol. 16, no. 2, 1985, p. 151-161. For work that enlarges their account in relation to architecture, see William M. Taylor, The Vital Landscape: Nature and the Built Environment in Nineteenth-Century Britain, London: Ashgate Press, 2004, p. 36-62.

5 Jean Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the origin of inequality among men (c. 1755); quoted passage by Marc-Antoine Laugier, translated with an introduction by Wolfgang and Anni Herrmann, An essay on architecture, Los Angeles, CA: Hennessey & Ingalls, 1977 (c. 1753), p. 11-12.

6 Philip D. Curtin, “‘The White Man's Grave’: Image and Reality, 1780-1850,” Journal of British Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, 1961, p. 94-110. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/175101. Accessed 25 January 2021.

7 Mark Harrison, “Differences of Degree: Representations of India in British Medical Topography, 1820-c1870,” Medical History (Supplement), vol. 20, 2000, p. 53.URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2530994/. Accessed 25 January 2021.

8 Literature on the encounter includes works of historical scholarship, fiction, and theatre. Scholarship includes Nick Hazlewood, Savage: The Life and Times of Jemmy Button, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2000; and Richard Lee Marks, Three Men of the Beagle, New York, NY: Alfred Knopf, 1991.

9 Coll Thrush, Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016, p. 15.

10 The author is grateful to the special issue’s editors for encouraging work on this aspect of Crowley’s thesis; see John Crowley, The Invention of Comfort: Sensibilities and Design in Early Moderne Britain and Early America, Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press, 2001, p. 24-27, 84, 86.

11 James Weddell, A Voyage Toward the South Pole: Performed in the Years 1822-24, London: Longman et al., 1825, p. 169; see also Anne Chapman, European Encounters with the Yamana People of Cape Horn, before and after Darwin, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010, p. 82, 84.

12 Richard Connaughton, Omai: The Prince Who Never Was, London: Timewell, 2005, p. 246.

13 Ibid., p. 246.

14 David Shribman, “One Man’s Evolution,” Wall Street Journal (European edition), 17 May 1991, p. 13.

15 Anne Chapman provides an account of the Yamana that includes a map showing the extent of their homeland and those of other native tribes in the region; see Anne Chapman, European Encounters, op. cit. (note 11), p. 6, fig. 1.2. See also Laura Rhoden, “Ecology, Coloniality, Modernity: Argentine Fictions of Tierra del Fuego,” Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, vol. 41, no. 1, 2008, p. 1-18.

16 Captain Philip King, in Robert Fitzroy, The Narrative of the Surveying Voyages. Volume I, op. cit. (note 2), p. 17.

17 Ibid., p. 20.

18 Mirela Altic, “Jesuits at Sea,” op  cit. (note 3), p. 166.

19 Ibid., p. 166-167.

20 Philip King, in Robert Fitzroy, The Narrative of the Voyages. Volume I, op. cit. (note 2), p. 23.

21 Ibid., p. 23.

22 Ibid., p. 24.

23 Robert Fitzroy, The Narrative of the Voyages. Volume I, op. cit. (note 2), p. 216. Dutch explorers to the region in 1624 were less scathing in their judgment of the Fuegians, though similarly amazed the Fuegians went about nearly naked in the cold climate. Captain James Cook on his voyage to the region in 1774, saw children “as naked as they were born” and, thus, he explained “they are inured from their infancy to Cold and hardships.” See Anne Chapman (quoting Cook), European Encounters, op. cit. (note 11), p. 41.

24 Philip King, in Robert Fitzroy, The Narrative of the Voyages. Volume I, op. cit. (note 2), p. 429.

25 Quoted in Nick Hazlewood, Savage: The Life and Times of Jemmy Button, op. cit. (note 8), p. 50.

26 Robert Fitzroy, Narrative of the Surveying Voyages, Volume II. Proceedings of the Second Expedition, 1831-1836, Under the Command of Captain Robert Fitzroy, op. cit. (note 2), p. 7.

27 Ibid., p. 7.

28 Ibid., p. 7.

29 Research so far has not determined whether similar advice was given to missionaries to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, but then the region lay beyond the earth’s usual malarial zones, the common setting for tropical “dissipation” and death. The first missionaries to Tierra del Fuego were more fearful of cannibalism frequently (and mistakenly) reported there. Scurvy was also much feared.

30 Lee Boo, an aristocratic youth from Belau, arrived in Portsmouth on 14 July, 1784 and then travelled to Rotherhithe, in London. He died of smallpox on 27 December of that year, despite receiving the best medical care available at the time from physician James Carmichael Smyth. Smyth was known for his hospital work and expertise on epidemics on board prison ships. Perhaps the best-known case was that of King Kamehameha II who travelled to London in 1824. The King arrived in May and was dead from measles two months later. His wife, Queen Kamamalu, who made the trip with him, had died six days earlier. See Daniel J. Peacock, Lee Boo of Belau. A Prince in London, Honolulu, HI: Pacific Islands Studies Program, Center for Asian and Pacific Studies University of Hawaï; University of Hawaii Press (South Sea Books), 1987, p. 72-73, 166.

31 Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, New York, NY; London: Norton, 1997.

32 Charles Mann, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, New York, NY: Knopf, 2011; see particularly Chapter 3 “Evil Air,” p. 76-116.

33 Nick Hazlewood, The Life and Times of Jemmy Button, op. cit. (note 8), p. 54.

34 Janet Browne, Charles Darwin. Voyaging, Volume 1 of a Biography, New York, NY: Knopf, 1995, p. 235.

35 Nick Hazlewood, The Life and Times of Jemmy Button, op. cit. (note 8), p. 82-83.

36 Robert Fitzroy, Narrative of the Surveying Voyages, Volume II, op. cit. (note 2), p. 175.

37 Felipe Fernández Armesto, Millennium: A History of Our Last Thousand Years, New York, NY: Scribner, 1995, p. 475.

38 Dandeson Coates, quoted in Nick Hazlewood, Savage, op. cit. (note 8), p. 102.

39 Ibid., p. 102.

40 Ibid., p. 102.

41 Charles Darwin, in Janet Browne, Charles Darwin, op. cit. (note 34), p. 252.

42 David Shribman, “One Man’s Evolution,” op. cit. (note 14), p. 13.

43 Ruth Mayer, “The Things of Civilization, the Matters of Empire: Representing Jemmy Button,” New Literary History, vol. 39, no. 2, 2008, p. 193.

44 William Parker Snow, The “Patagonian Missionary Society,” and Some Truths Connected with It, London: Piper, Stephenson, and Spence, 1858, p. 48.

45 George Pakenham Despard quoted by Anne Chapman, European Encounters, op. cit. (note 11), p. 348.

46 Reverend George Pakenham Despard, Hope Deferred, Not Lost. A Narrative of Missionary Effort in South America, London: J. Nisbet & Co., 1854; passage quoted by Anne Chapman, European Encounters, op. cit. (note 11), p. 348.

47 Ibid., p. 349.

48 Ibid., p. 369.

49 Despard, 1859; quoted ibid., p. 369.

50 Ibid., p. 369.

51 James Weddell, A Voyage Toward the South Pole, op. cit. (note 11), p. 187.

52 Ibid, p. 188.

53 W. H. B. Webster, Narrative of a Voyage to the Southern Atlantic Ocean, in the Years 1828, 29, 30, Performed in H. M. S. Sloop Chanticleer, under the Command of the Late Captain Henry Foster, Volume I, London: Dawsons, 1834, p. 200-201.

54 Anne Chapman, European Encounters, op. cit. (note 11), p. 370.

55 Tim Fulford, Debbie Lee and Peter J. Kitson, Literature, Science and Exploration in the Romantic Era: Bodies of Knowledge, Cambridge; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2004 (Cambridge Studies in Romanticism, 60), p. 60; and Pamela Cheek, Sexual Antipodes: Enlightenment, Globalization, and the Placing of Sex, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003, p. 200, note 54.

56 Felipe Fernández Armesto, Millennium, op. cit. (note 39), p. 435, fig. 15.1.

57 Richard Connaughton, Omai, op. cit. (note 12), p. 121.

58 Tomás Maldonado, “The Idea of Comfort,” Design Issues, vol. 8, no. 1, 1991, p. 35-43; and Jiat-Hwee Chang, A Genealogy of Tropical Architecture: Colonial Networks, Nature and Technoscience, London; New York, NY: Routledge, 2016 (The Architext Series), p. 45.

59 Daniel J. Peacock, Lee Boo of Belau, op. cit. (note 30), p. 72-73.

60 Alain Corbin, The Foul and the Fragrant: Odour and the Social Imagination [First published as Le miasme et la jonquille: l’odorat et l’imaginaire social, xviiie-xixe siècles, Paris: Flammarion, 1982 (Champs)], London: Macmillan, 1996, p. 106.

61 Ibid., p. 106.

62 Stephen Hales, A description of ventilators: whereby great quantities of fresh air may with ease be conveyed into mines, gaols, hospitals, work-houses and ships, in exchange for their noxious air, etc., London, 1743, p. iv-v.

63 Richard Connaughton, Omai, op. cit. (note 12), p. 89.

64 Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London, vol. 1, 1861, p. 1.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1: “Illustration of a Fuegian, Yapoo Tekenika.”
Crédits Source: Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836, describing their examination of the Southern shores of South America, and the Beagle's circumnavigation of the globe, London: Henry Colburn, 1839. Provided under Creative Commons license and the Wellcome Collection. URL: https://wellcomecollection.org/​works/​sc3c693w
URL http://journals.openedition.org/abe/docannexe/image/8951/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 315k
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William M. Taylor, « London’s uncertain comforts: Fuegian travelers and the indeterminate geography of climate and health »ABE Journal [En ligne], 18 | 2021, mis en ligne le 01 juillet 2021, consulté le 28 janvier 2023. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/abe/8951 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/abe.8951

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Auteur

William M. Taylor

Professor, School of Design, University of Western Australia, Perth (Australia)

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https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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