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Darwin Correspondence Project

From B. J. Sulivan   1 July 1870


July 1/70

My dear Darwin

I send by post the five last numbers of the Mission Magazine as they give all the recent information. Do not return them as I have duplicates.1 You will also be interested in the Araucanian Mission where little has been done yet beyond Gardiner’s Labours at Lota, where there is a considerable European population, and where he first fixed himself through difficulty of residing in the Araucanian portion of the Country: but where he had much communication with the Indian chiefs, & some Indian children at school.2 He worked there with all classes, Roman Catholics helping to build church & school, though the priests tried to stop it, but gave up in dispair: and three years since when the law for free religious toleration was hotly debated in the chambers at St Jago.3 several liberal speakers pointed to the altered condition of Lota & its neighbourhood, and the good a protestant minister had done, as the stong argument for toleration. During the last two years a catechist had been settled at Lebu with several sons of chiefs at school—residing with him: but the war with Chili has done much harm to the work. Still you will see by the letters that something is still being done.4

The last letter of Mr. Bridges about the station at Keppel Island you will think more of a farming than a mission character.5 but from the first we have relied much on teaching the Fuegians to plant Potatoes & vegetables, and take care of cattle sheep and goats, and all the accounts of hundred tons of potatoes and wool of 1300 sheep (all sprung from 16 first landed) refer to so much native work. We having only had one farm labourer and his wife on that Island, to teach & superintend the natives, who do nearly all the work. Those on the Island at the last accounts being chiefly new hands—the older trained ones having been some time living again in T. D. Fuego in wooden huts build by themselves, & with some cultivation going on, and every desire to increase it. Mr. Bridges went out as a boy with our first missionary, he has taught all the natives that know any thing, speaks the language fluently, and has long since reduced it to writing in the phonectic character; so that many of them read and write.6 He is more known & looked up to by the natives than any one who has been there, from his more continued & familiar communications with them, & therefore he will be even safer than Mr. Stirling with the natives, besides having two companions & two females with them. I have always opposed beginning the station as I have feared the danger from the Natives more than any of those at the Mission did. & I could not forget the Murder of our whole party—but one—when they rashly trusted them in spite of my warnings—.7 but because I refused to be a party, as one of the Committee, to a too hasty attempt to settle among them—Stirling determined to give us the proof it was safe by living alone amongst them; & now I hope it is really quite safe.8 at all events it is justifiable. I am glad to hear so favorable an account of your health. only dont do too much.

Yours very sincerely | B. J. Sulivan


Sulivan refers to the South American Missionary Magazine, published every other month; the copies sent to CD have not been found.
For the description of work in Araucania, see South American Missionary Magazine 4 (1870): 65–9 and 101–3. Lota is a coastal city in the Región del Biobío, over 200 miles south of Santiago, Chile. Allen Weare Gardiner took up his missionary post in Chile around 1865 (Clergy list 1864, Crockford’s clerical directory 1865). ‘Araucana’ was the name the Spanish gave to the native people (who called themselves ‘Mapuche’) occupying the area between the rivers Biobío and Toltén in southern Chile (Blancpain 1990, p. 20). The Araucanians were not under the control of the Chilean government.
St Jago: Santiago, the capital of Chile.
Lebu is a coastal town south of Lota; the letters referred to are in the South American Missionary Magazine. For more on the Chilean government’s ongoing attempt to subjugate Araucania, which became part of Chile in 1882, see Blancpain 1990, pp. 140–6. The catechist was Christian Keller.
Sulivan refers to a published letter from Thomas Bridges, which included details of wool production at the mission station on Keppel Island, one of the Falkland Islands (see South American Missionary Magazine 4 (1870): 95–9).
As a child, Bridges was found abandoned and was adopted by George Pakenham Despard, who became secretary of the Patagonian Missionary Society. Bridges eventually compiled a dictionary of the Yaghan (Yámana) language. (ODNB.)
Sulivan refers to the killing in 1859 of a group of missionaries who tried to start a settlement on Tierra del Fuego (see Hazlewood 2000, pp. 243–53).
Waite Hockin Stirling lived alone among native people at Ushuaia for seven months in 1869 (F. C. Macdonald 1929, pp. 83–113).


Sends copies of a mission magazine [missing] and discusses the missionaries’ work in S. America, especially that of Thomas Bridges and W. H. Stirling.

Letter details

Letter no.
Bartholomew James Sulivan
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 177: 294
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7260,” accessed on 22 July 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18