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Darwin Correspondence Project

From B. J. Sulivan   7 February 1874


Feby. 7/74

My dear Darwin

The Bishop of Falklands, who has seen so much of Fuegians, is coming to us next week, & I will get all the information I can on the point you mention.1 I know that two of the four lads that were a year in England, died soon after. One from lung complaint before reaching home— the other I think the following year from some internal complaint which I now forget.2 but I think those settled near the station in Beagle channel & leading a more settled life with fewer privations than before have remained healthy.

I suppose you have seen in this month’s magazine the account of Fuegia. but in case you have not I will mention that she retained only a few words of English, the names of “Baygle”, FitzRoy & one or two others—but they hope she may return and pass the rest of her life at the station.3

When the Patagonian chief with son and daughter came to Keppel Island on a visit, the daughter soon died there, but that would hardly I think apply to your question.4

I am anxious that something should be done for that fine Eastern tribe, even the knowledge—I suppose—that white men have been kind to their neighbours appears to have changed their conduct. Near the place where Brisbane had to barricade and defend his crew against the attacks of the Natives while building the boat a large English iron ship was wrecked.5 The natives treated the crew kindly and accompanied them by land to Good Success Bay where a vessel picked them up. That fine country, and grass land, south of Sebastian Bay would enable those Natives to keep cattle & perhaps sheep, & vastly improve their condition, and help to bring them under instruction.6

We have been been badly beat in our election, we returned a liberal member last time by 49 votes. Now the same Tory Candidate has got in by 371. through the “Unholy Alliance” of clergy of all sections, on account of Education question, with nearly every publican, on the drink question; more than 50 public houses swimming with beer; only two remaining “liberal” with no beer. It is really come to this that “Parsons & publicans”—or “Church & Beer” is the cry that gives a Tory majority; or, as put forth as the principles of one Candidate (not here) “Church and State and free trade in liquor”— It is no injustice to call this the “Unholy Alliance”—7 The Evangelical church party that says it wants reform to check Ritualism—with the exception of a very few of us—joined with Ritualists in returning a candidate pledged not to do anything to check Ritualism.

Our kind regards to Mrs. Darwin & all your party | yours very sincy | B J Sulivan


The bishop of the Falkland Islands was Waite Hockin Stirling. CD’s question about the Fuegians has not been found, but he evidently asked whether their health deteriorated under the influence of European civilisation (letter from B. J. Sulivan, 23 February 1874).
For a photograph of the four Fuegian (Yahgan) youths, Uroopa, Sesoienges, Wammestriggins (Threeboys Button), and Mamastudagenges (Jack), who were brought to England by Stirling in 1865, see Correspondence vol. 16, pl. facing p. 114. Uroopa died at the Falkland Islands on the return voyage to Tierra del Fuego, and Wammestriggins shortly after his return; he was diagnosed with Bright’s disease. See Hazlewood 2000, pp. 316–18.
Yokcushlu (Fuegia Basket) of the Alakaluf tribe was one of four Fuegians brought to England in 1830 by Robert FitzRoy, and returned on the Beagle in 1833, during the voyage in which CD took part (Correspondence vol. 1). The South American Missionary Magazine, 2 February 1874, contained a letter from Thomas Bridges at the Ushuaia Mission in the Beagle Channel (Tierra del Fuego) describing, amongst other news, a visit from Yokcushlu between 16 and 21 May 1873.
In 1863, the Patagonian Platero, his daughter, Mariquita, and son, Belokon, visited Keppel Island (one of the Falkland Islands); Mariquita died there (J. W. Marsh and Stirling 1867, pp. 152–4). These are their names as written down by the German missionary Theophilus Schmid; they have not been further identified.
Matthew Brisbane was shipwrecked in 1830 in the Saxe Cobourg on the east coast of Tierra del Fuego, near Policarpo Cove (Narrative 2: 332–5; Chapman 2010, p. 219). The iron ship has not been identified. The ‘fine Eastern tribe’ was presumably the Haush or Eastern Ona (see Bridges 1948, pp. 61 and 212, and Chapman 2010, pp. xix–xx and 6).
Good Success Bay is on the south coast of Tierra del Fuego (Argentina); San Sebastián Bay is in north-east Tierra del Fuego.
A general election took place at the end of January and early February 1874; the Liberal government of William Ewart Gladstone was defeated by the Conservatives under Benjamin Disraeli. Elections at Christchurch, Dorset, three miles east of Bournemouth, which did not yet have an MP of its own, took place on 4 February (Morning Post, 5 February 1874, p. 2). Henry Drummond Charles Wolff (Conservative) defeated the Liberal candidate by 371 votes. In the 1868 general election, Wolff had lost by 49 votes to Edmund Haviland-Burke (Liberal). Haviland-Burke resigned in 1874. (See Stenton 1976 and Craig ed. 1989.) In the election campaign, publicans and advocates of religious education in Board Schools both supported the Conservatives, the publicans in the hope that licensing laws would be relaxed: they were to be disappointed (Annual register (1874), pp. 44–5).


Annual register: The annual register. A view of the history and politics of the year. 1838–62. The annual register. A review of public events at home and abroad. N.s. 1863–1946. London: Longman & Co. [and others].

Bridges, Esteban Lucas. 1948. Uttermost part of the earth. London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Chapman, Anne. 2010. European encounters with the Yamana people of Cape Horn, before and after Darwin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Craig, Frederick Walter Scott, ed. 1989. British parliamentary election results: 1832–1885. 2d edition. Aldershot, Hampshire: Parliamentary Research Services.

Hazlewood, Nick. 2000. Savage. The life and times of Jemmy Button. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Marsh, John W. and Stirling, Waite Hockin. 1867. The story of Commander Allen Gardiner, R.N.: with sketches of missionary work in South America. London: James Nisbet & Co.

Narrative: Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836. [Edited by Robert FitzRoy.] 3 vols. and appendix. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Stenton, Michael. 1976. Who’s who of British members of Parliament, 1832–1885. Volume 1 of Who’s who of British members of Parliament: a biographical dictionary of the House of Commons based on annual volumes of Dod’s Parliamentary companion and other sources. Brighton: Harvester Press.


The Bishop of Falkland [Waite Hockin Stirling] is coming to visit BJS, who will question him for CD.

Discusses politics; regrets they have been badly beaten by the Tory candidate.

Letter details

Letter no.
Bartholomew James Sulivan
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 177: 300
Physical description
ALS 8pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9273,” accessed on 21 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22