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289

CAVERN OF ATARUIPE.

the cradle o f so m a n y various nations, will for ever remain the c e n t r e o f human civilization in the torrid zone. From these fertile and temperate table-lands, f r o m these islets scattered in t h e aërial o c e a n , k n o w l e d g e and the blessings o f social institutions will b e spread o v e r t h o s e vast forests e x t e n d i n g along the foot o f the A n d e s , n o w inhabited o n l y b y savage tribes w h o m the very wealth o f nature has retained in indolence and barbarism.

CHAPTER

XXI.

Raudal of Garcita. — Maypures. — Cataracts of Quituna. — Mouth o f the Vichada and the Zama. — Rock of Aricagua. — Siquita.

We directed o u r c o u r s e t o the Puerto de arriba, above t h e cataract o f A t u r e s , o p p o s i t e t h e m o u t h o f the Rio Cataniapo, where o u r boat was t o b e ready for us. I n the narrow path that leads t o the embarcadero w e beheld for the last time the peak o f U n i a n a . I t appeared like a c l o u d rising a b o v e the horizon o f the plains. The Guahibos w a n d e r at the f o o t o f the m o u n t a i n s , and e x t e n d their c o u r s e as far as t h e banks o f t h e V i c h a d a . W e were s h o w n at a distance, o n the right o f t h e river, the r o c k s that s u r r o u n d t h e cavern o f A t a r u i p e ; b u t w e had n o t t i m e t o visit that c e m e t e r y o f the destroyed tribe o f the Atures. Father Z e a had repeatedly described t o us this extraordinary cavern, the skeletons painted with a n o t o , the large vases o f baked earth, in which the b o n e s o f separate families appear t o be collected ; and many other curious o b j e c t s , which w e p r o p o s e d t o examine o n o u r r e t u r n from t h e Rio N e g r o . " Y o u will scarcely b e l i e v e , " said the missionaries, " that these skeletons, these painted vases, things which we believed were u n k n o w n to the rest o f the w o r l d , have b r o u g h t t r o u b l e u p o n m e and m y n e i g h b o u r , t h e missionary o f Carichana. Y o u have seen t h e misery i n which I live in the raudales. T h o u g h devoured by m o s quitos, and often in want o f plantains and cassava, yet I have found envious p e o p l e even in this c o u n t r y ! A white m a n , who inhabits the pastures b e t w e e n the M e t a and the A p u r e , d e n o u n c e d me recently in the A u d e n c i a o f Caracas, VOL.

II.

U


290

SUPPOSED HIDDEN TREASURE.

as concealing a treasure I had discovered, j o i n t l y with the missionary o f Carichana, amid the t o m b s o f the I n d i a n s . I t is asserted that the Jesuits of Santa FĂŠ de B o g o t a were apprised beforehand o f the destruction o f their c o m p a n y ; and that, in o r d e r t o save the riches t h e y possessed i n money and precious vases, they sent them, either by the Rio M e t a o r the V i c h a d a , t o the O r i n o c o , with orders to have t h e m hidden in the islets amid the raudales. These treasures I am supposed t o have appropriated u n k n o w n to m y superiors. The A u d e n c i a o f Caracas b r o u g h t a c o m plaint before the g o v e r n o r o f Guiana, and we were ordered t o appear in person. W e uselessly performed a j o u r n e y of o n e hundred and fifty leagues ; and, although we declared that we had found in the cavern only human bones, and dried bats and polecats, commissioners were gravely nominated to c o m e hither and search on the spot for the supposed treasures o f the Jesuits. W e shall wait long for these commissioners. W h e n they have g o n e up the O r i n o c o as far as San Borja, the fear o f the mosquitos will prevent them from going farther. T h e cloud o f flies which envelopes us in the raudales is a good d e f e n c e . " The account given by the missionary was entirely c o n formable t o what we afterwards learned at A n g o s t u r a from the g o v e r n o r himself. F o r t u i t o u s circumstances had given rise t o the strangest suspicions. I n the caverns where the m u m m i e s and skeletons o f the nation o f the A t u r e s are found, even in the midst of the cataracts, and in the m o s t inaccessible islets, the Indians long ago discovered boxes bound with iron, containing various European tools, r e m nants o f clothes, rosaries, and glass trinkets. T h e s e objects arc t h o u g h t to have b e l o n g e d t o Portuguese traders of the Rio Negro and G r a n d Para, w h o , before the establishment o f the Jesuits on the banks o f the O r i n o c o , w e n t u p to A t u r e s b y the portages and interior c o m m u n i c a t i o n s of rivers, to trade with the natives. If is supposed that these men sunk beneath the epidemic maladies so common in the raudales, and that their chests became the property o f the Indians, the wealthiest o f whom were usually buried with all they possessed m o s t valuable during their lives. From these very uncertain traditions the tale o f hidden treasures has been fabricated. A s in the A n d e s o f Q u i t o every ruined


291

SUPPRESSION OF THE JESUITS.

building, n o t e x c e p t i n g the foundations o f t h e pyramids erected b y the F r e n c h savans for the measurement o f t h e meridian, is regarded as Inga, pilca,* that is, t h e w o r k o f t h e I n c a ; so o n the O r i n o c o every hidden treasure can b e l o n g o n l y t o t h e Jesuits, an o r d e r w h i c h , n o d o u b t , g o v e r n e d the missions b e t t e r than t h e Capuchins and the m o n k s o f t h e O b s e r v a n c e , b u t w h o s e riches and success in the civilization o f t h e I n d i a n s have b e e n much exaggerated. W h e n the Jesuits o f Santa Fé w e r e arrested, those heaps o f piastres, those emeralds o f M u z o , those bars o f g o l d o f C h o c o , which t h e enemies o f t h e c o m p a n y s u p p o s e d they possessed, w e r e n o t f o u n d in their dwellings. I can cite a respectable testimony, which proves i n c o n testibly, that the viceroy o f N e w G r a n a d a had n o t w a r n e d the Jesuits o f Santa Fé o f t h e danger with which they w e r e m e n a c e d . D o n V i c e n t e O r o s c o , an engineer officer in t h e Spanish army, related to m e that, b e i n g arrived at A n gostura, with D o n M a n u e l C e n t u r i o n , to arrest t h e m i s sionaries o f Carichana, h e m e t an I n d i a n b o a t that was g o i n g d o w n the Rio M e t a . T h e boat b e i n g m a n n e d with Indians w h o c o u l d speak n o n e o f the t o n g u e s o f the c o u n t r y , gave rise t o suspicions. A f t e r useless researches, a b o t t l e was at length discovered, c o n t a i n i n g a letter, in which the Superior o f the c o m p a n y residing at Santa Fé informed t h e missionaries o f the O r i n o c o o f t h e persecutions t o which t h e Jesuits were e x p o s e d in N e w Grenada. T h i s letter r e c o m m e n d e d n o measure o f precaution ; it was short, w i t h o u t a m b i g u i t y , and respectful towards t h e g o v e r n m e n t , whose orders w e r e e x e c u t e d with useless and unreasonable severity. E i g h t Indians o f A t u r e s had c o n d u c t e d o u r b o a t t h r o u g h the raudales, and seemed well satisfied with the slight r e c o m p e n c e we gave them. T h e y gain little b y this e m p l o y m e n t ; and in o r d e r t o give a j u s t idea o f t h e p o v e r t y and w a n t o f c o m m e r c e in t h e missions o f the O r i n o c o , I shall observe that during three years, with the e x c e p t i o n o f t h e boats sent annually to Angostura by the c o m m a n d e r o f San Carlos du Rio N e g r o , to fetch the pay o f the soldiers, the missionary had seen b u t five canoes o f t h e U p p e r * Pilca (properly in Quichua pirca), wall of the Inca.

U 2


292

THE MACO INDIANS.

Orinoco pass the cataract, which were bound for the harvest of turtles' eggs, and eight boats laden with merchandize. About eleven on the morning of the 17th of April we reached our boat. Father Zea caused to be embarked, with our instruments, the small store of provisions he had been able to procure for the voyage, on which he was to accompany us ; these provisions consisted of a few bunches of plantains, some cassava, and fowls. Leaving the embarcadero, we immediately passed the mouth of the Cataniapo, a small river, the banks of which are inhabited by the Macos, or Piaroas, who belong to the great family of the Salive nations. Besides the Piaroas of Cataniapo, who pierce their ears, and wear as ear-ornaments the teeth of caymans and peccaries, three other tribes of Macos are known : one, on the Ventuari, above the Rin Manata ; the second, on the Padamo, north of the mountains of Maraguaca ; and the third, near the Guaharibos, towards the sources of the Orinoco, above the Rio Gehette. This last tribe bears the name of Macos-Macos. I collected the following words from a young Maco of the banks of the Cataniapo, whom we met near the embarcadero, and who wore in his ears, instead of a tusk of the peccary, a large wooden cylinder.* Plantain, Paruru (in Tamanac also, paruru). Cassava, Elente (in Maco, cahig). Maize, Niarne. The sun. .Jama (in Salive, mvme-seke-cocco). The moon, Jama (in Salive, vexio). Water. Ahia (in Salive, cagua). One, Nianti. Two, Tajus. Three, Percotahuja. Four, Imontegroa. The young man could not reckon as far as five, which certainly is no proof that the word live does not exist in the Maco tongue. I know not whether this tongue be a dialect of the Salive, as is pretty generally asserted ; for idioms * This custom is observed among the Cabres, the Maypures, and the Pevas of the Amazon. These last, described by La Condamine, stretch their ears by weights of a considerable size.


RAUDAL OF GARCITA.

293

derived from o n e another, sometimes furnish words utterly different f o r the m o s t c o m m o n and most important t h i n g s . * B u t in discussions o n m o t h e r - t o n g u e s a n d derivative languages, it is n o t t h e sounds, t h e roots only, that are decisive ; b u t rather t h e interior structure and grammatical forms. I n the A m e r i c a n idioms, which are notwithstanding rich, the m o o n is c o m m o n l y e n o u g h called the sun of night, o r even the sun of leep ; b u t t h e m o o n and sun very rarely bear t h e same name, as a m o n g the, M a c o s . I k n o w only a f e w examples in t h e most northerly part o f A m e r i c a , a m o n g t h e W o c c o n s , the O j i b b e w a y s , the M u s k o g u l g e s , and t h e M o h a w k s . + O u r missionary asserted that jama, in M a c o , indicated at t h e same time t h e S u p r e m e B e i n g , and t h e great orbs o f night a n d day ; while many other A m e r i c a n t o n g u e s , for instance t h e Tamanac, and t h e C a r i b b e e , have distinct w o r d s t o denote G o d , t h e M o o n , and the Sun. W e shall soon see h o w anxious t h e missionaries o f t h e O r i n o c o are n o t t o e m p l o y , in their translations o f the prayers o f the church, the native w o r d s which denote the Divinity, the Creator (Amanene), the G r e a t Spirit w h o animates all nature. They choose rather t o Indianize t h e Spanish w o r d Dios, c o n v e r t i n g i t , a c c o r d i n g t o t h e differe n c e s o f p r o n u n c i a t i o n , a n d t h e genius o f t h e different, dialects, into Dioso, Tiosu, o r Piosu. W h e n we again embarked on the O r i n o c o , we found the river free from shoals. After a few hours w e passed t h e Raudal o f Garcita, t h e rapids o f which are easy o f ascent, when the waters are high. T o the eastward is seen a small chain o f mountains called t h e chain o f Cumadaminari, c o n sisting o f gneiss, and n o t o f stratified granite. W e were struck with a succession o f great holes at more than o n e hundred and eighty feet above t h e present level o f t h e O r i n o c o , yet which, notwithstanding, appear t o b e the effects o f the erosion o f t h e waters. W e shall see hereafter, that this p h e n o m e n o n o c c u r s again nearly at t h e same height, both in t h e rocks that b o r d e r t h e cataracts o f M a y p u r e s , and fifty leagues t o t h e east, near the m o u t h o f the Rio J a o . * The great family of the Esthonian (or Tschoudi) languages, and of the Samoiede languages, affords numerous examples of these differences. + Nipia-kisathwa in the Shawanese (the idiom of Canada), from nippi, to sleep, and kixathwa, the sun.


294

STRENGTH OF THE

CURRENT.

We slept in the open air, on the left bank o f the river, b e l o w the island o f T o m o . T h e night was beautiful and serene, but the t o r m e n t o f the mosquitos was so great near the ground, that I could not succeed in levelling the artificial horizon ; c o n s e q u e n t l y I lost the o p p o r t u n i t y o f making an observation. O n the 18th we set o u t at three in t h e m o r n i n g , t o b e m o r e sure o f arriving before t h e close o f t h e day at t h e cataract known by the name of the Raudal de los Guahibos. W e stopped at the mouth o f the Rio T o m o . T h e I n d i a n s w e n t o n shore, t o prepare their food, and take some repose. W h e n w e reached the foot o f the raudal, it was near five in the afternoon. I t was extremely difficult to g o u p the c u r rent against a mass o f water, precipitated from a bank of gneiss several feet high. A n Indian threw himself into t h e water, t o reach, by swimming, the rock that divides t h e cataract into two parts. A rope was fastened to the point of this r o c k , and w h e n the c a n o e was hauled near e n o u g h , our instruments, our dry plants, and the provision w e h a d collected at Atures, were landed in the raudal itself. We remarked with surprise, that the natural dam over which t h e river is precipitated, presents a dry space o f considerable extent ; where we stopped to see the boat g o u p . T h e rock of gneiss exhibits circular holes, the largest o f which are four feet deep, and eighteen inches wide. These funnels contain quartz pebbles, and appear to have b e e n formed by the friction o f masses rolled along by the impulse o f the waters. O u r situation, in the midst o f the cataract, was singular e n o u g h , but unattended by the smallest danger. T h e missionary, who accompanied us, had his fever-fit o n him. In o r d e r to quench the thirst by which he was t o r mented, the idea suggested itself to us of preparing a refreshing beverage for him in one o f the excavations o f the r o c k . We had taken o n b o a r d at A t u r e s an Indian basket called a mapire, filled with sugar, limes, and those grenadillas, or fruits of the passion-flower, to which the Spaniards give the name of parchas. A s we were absolutely destitute o f large vessels for holding and mixing liquids, we poured the water o f the river, by means o f a calabash, into o n e o f the holes o f the rock : to this we added sugar and lime-juice. In a few minutes we had an excellent beverage, which i s


ARRIVAL AT THE VILLAGE.

295

almost a refinement of luxury, in that wild spot ; but our wauls rendered us every day more and more ingenious. After an hour of expetation, we saw the boat arrive above the raudal, and we were soon ready to depart. After quitting the rock, our passage was not exempt from danger. The river is eight hundred toises broad, and must be crossed obliquely, above the cataract, at the point where the waters, impelled by the slope of their bed, rush with extreme violence toward the ledge from which they are precipitated. W e were overtaken by a storm, accompanied happily by no wind, but the rain fell in torrents. After rowing for twenty minutes, the pilot declared, that, far from gaining upon the current, we were again approaching the raudal. These moments of uncertainty appeared to us very long : the Indians spoke only in whispers, as they do always when they think their situation perilous. They redoubled their efforts, and we arrived at nightfall, without any accident, in the port of Maypures.

Storms within the tropics are as short a they are violent. The lightning had fallen twice near our boat, and had no doubt struck the surface of the water. I mention this phenomenon, because it is pretty generally believed in those countries that the clouds, the surface of which is charged with electricity, arc at so great a height that the lightning reaches the ground more rarely than in Europe. The night was extremely dark, and we could not in less than two hours reach the village of Maypures. W e were wet to the skin. In proportion as the rain ceased, the zancudos reappeared, with that voracity which tipulary insects always display immediately after a storm. My fellow-travellers were uncertain whether it would be best to stop in the port or proceed on our way on foot, in spite of the darkness of the night. Father Zea was determined to reach his home. He had given directions for the construction of a large house of two stories, which was to be begun by the Indians of the mission. " You will there find," said he gravely, " the same conveniences as in the open air ; I have neither a bench nor a table, but you will not suffer so much from the flies, which are less troublesome in the mission than on the banks of the river." We followed the counsel of the missionary, who caused torches of copal to be lighted.


296

A NOCTURNAL JOURNEY.

These torches are tubes made of bark, three inches in diameter, and filled with copal resin. We walked at first over beds of rock, which were bare and slippery, and then we entered a thick g r o v e of palm t r e e s . W e w e r e twice obliged to pass a stream on trunks of trees hewn down. The torches had already ceased to g i v e light. Being formed on a strange principle, the woody substance which resembles the wick surrounding t h e resin, they emit more smoke than light, and a r e easily extinguished. The Indian pilot, who expressed himself with s o m e facility in Spanish, told us of snakes, water-serpents, and tigers, by which we might be attacked. Such conversations may be expected as matters of course, by persons who travel at night with the natives. By intimidating the European traveller, the Indians imagine they render themselves more necessary, and gain the confidence of the stranger. The rudest inhabitant of the missions fully understands the deceptions which everywhere arise f r o m the relations b e t w e e n men of unequal fortune and civilization. Under the absolute and sometimes vexatious government of the monks, the Indian seeks to ameliorate his condition by t h o s e l i t t l e artifices which are the weapons of physical and intellectual weakness. Having arrived during the night at San Jose de Maypures we w e r e forcibly s t r u c k by the solitude of the place ; the Indians w e r e plunged in profound s l e e p , and nothing was heard but the c r i e s o f nocturnal b i r d s , and the distant sound of the c a t a r a c t . In the calm of the night, amid the deep r e p o s e of nature, the monotonous sound of a fall of water has in it something sad and solemn. W e remained three days at Maypures, a s m a l l village founded by Don Jose S o l a n o at the t i m e of the expedition o f the boundaries, the situation of which is m o r e picturesque, it might be said still m o r e admirable, than that o f Atures. The raudal of Maypures, t a i l e d by t h e Indians Quituna, is formed, as all cataracts are, by the resistance which the river encounters in its way across a ridge of rocks, or a chain of mountains. The lofty mountains of Cunavami and Calitamini, between the sources of the rivers Cataniapo and Ventuari, stretch toward the west in a chain of granitic hills, from this chain flow three small rivers, which embrace in some sort the cataract of Maypures. There are, on


ALTERATION

OF

THE

WATER-LEVEL.

297

t h e eastern bank, t h e Sanariapo, and on the western, t h e Cameji and the T o p a r o . O p p o s i t e the village o f M a y p u r e s , t h e mountains fall back in an arch, and, like a r o c k y coast, form a g u l f o p e n to the south-east. T h e irruption o f t h e river is effected b e t w e e n the m o u t h s o f the T o p a r o and the Sanariapo, at the western extremity o f this majestic amphitheatre. T h e waters o f t h e O r i n o c o n o w roll at t h e f o o t o f t h e eastern chain o f the mountains, and have r e c e d e d from t h e west, where, in a d e e p valley, the ancient shore is easily recognized. A savannah, scarcely raised thirty feet a b o v e the mean level o f the river, extends from this valley as far as the cataracts. There the small church o f M a y p u r e s has been constructed. I t is built o f trunks o f palm-trees, and is s u r r o u n d e d by seven o r eight huts. T h e dry valley, which runs in a straight line from south t o n o r t h , from the Cameji t o the T o p a r o , is filled with granitic and solitary m o u n d s , all resembling those found in the shape o f islands and shoals in the present b e d o f the river. I was s t r u c k with this analogy o f f o r m , o n c o m p a r i n g t h e r o c k s o f K e r i a n d O c o , situated in the deserted b e d o f t h e river, west o f M a y p u r e s , with t h e islets o f Ouivitari and Caminitamini, which rise like old castles amid the cataracts to the east o f the mission. T h e geological aspect o f these scenes, the insular form o f the elevations farthest from the present shore o f the O r i n o c o , the cavities which the waves appear t o have hollowed in t h e rock O c o , and which are precisely o n t h e same level ( t w e n t y five o r thirty toises h i g h ) as the excavations perceived o p p o site t o t h e m in t h e isle o f Ouivitari ; all these appearances p r o v e that the w h o l e o f this bay, n o w dry, was formerly covered by water. T h o s e waters probably formed a lake, the northern dike preventing their r u n n i n g out : but, when this dike was broken d o w n , the savannah that surrounds t h e mission appeared at first like a very low island, b o u n d e d by t w o arms o f the same river. It may be supposed that the O r i n o c o c o n t i n u e d for s o m e t i m e t o till the ravine, which We shall call the valley o f Keri, because it contains the rock o f that name ; and that t h e waters retired wholly t o w a r d the eastern chain, leaving dry the western arm o f the river, only as they gradually diminished. C o l o u r e d stripes, which n o d o u b t o w e their black tint t o the oxides o f iron and


298

PORTAGES ON THE RIVERS.

manganese, seem to justify this c o n j e c t u r e . T h e y are f o u n d on all the stones, far from the mission, and indicate the f o r m e r a b o d e o f the waters. I n g o i n g u p t h e river, all merchandise is discharged at the confluence o f the Rio T o p a r o and the O r i n o c o . T h e boats are entrusted t o the natives, w h o have so perfect a k n o w l e d g e o f the raudal, that they have a particular name for every step. T h e y c o n d u c t the boats as far as the m o u t h o f the Cameji, w h e r e the danger is considered as past. I will here describe the cataract o f Q u i t u n a o r M a y p u r e s as it appeared at the t w o periods when I examined it, in g o i n g d o w n and u p the river. I t is formed, like that of Mapara or Attires, by an archipelago o f islands, which, to the length o f three thousand toises, till the bed o f the r i v e r ; and by r o c k y dikes, which j o i n the islands t o g e t h e r . The m o s t remarkable o f these dikes, o r natural dams, are Purimarimi, Manini, and the Leap of the Sardine (Salto de la S a r d i n a ) . I n a m e t h e m in the order in w h i c h I saw them in succession from south to north. T h e last o f these three stages is near n i n e feet high, and forms b y its breadth a magnificent cascade. I must here repeat, h o w e v e r , that the turbulent shock o f the precipitated and b r o k e n waters d e pends not so much on the absolute height o f each step or dike, as upon the multitude o f c o u n t e r - c u r r e n t s , the g r o u p ing o f the islands and shoals, that lie at the foot of the raudalitos o r partial cascades, and the c o n t r a c t i o n of the channels, which often do not leave a free navigable passage o f t w e n t y o r thirty feet. T h e eastern part o f the cataract o f Maypures is much more d a n g e r o u s than the w e s t e r n ; and therefore the Indian pilots prefer the left bank o f the river t o c o n d u c t the boats d o w n o r u p . U n f o r t u n a t e l y , in the season of low waters, this bank remains partly dry, and recourse must be had to the process o f portage; that is, the boats are obliged to be dragged on cylinders, o r r o u n d logs. T o c o m m a n d a comprehensive view o f these s t u p e n d o u s scenes, the spectator must, be stationed on the little m o u n tain o f Manimi, a granitic ridge, which rises from the savannah, north o f the church of the mission, and is itself only a continuation o f the ridges o f which the raudalito of M a n i m i is c o m p o s e d . W e often visited this mountain, for we were never weary of gazing on this astonishing spectacle.


SCENERY

OF THE FALLS.

299

F r o m the summit o f the r o c k is descried a sheet o f foam, e x t e n d i n g the length o f a whole mile. E n o r m o u s masses o f stone, black as iron, issue from its b o s o m . S o m e are paps grouped in pairs, like basaltic hills; others resemble t o w e r s , fortified castles, and ruined buildings. T h e i r g l o o m y tint Every contrasts with t h e silvery splendour o f t h e foam. r o c k , every islet is covered with vigorous trees, collected in clusters. A t t h e f o o t o f those paps, far as t h e eye can reach, a thick v a p o u r is suspended over the river, and t h r o u g h this whitish f o g t h e t o p s o f the lofty palm-trees shoot u p . W h a t I suppose n a m e shall we give t o these majestic p l a n t s ? them t o b e t h e vadgiai, a n e w species o f the g e n u s O r e o d o x a , the trunk o f which is more than eighty feet high. T h e feathery leaves o f this palm-tree have a brilliant lustre, a n d rise almost straight toward the s k y . A t every h o u r o f t h e day the sheet o f foam displays different aspects. S o m e t i m e s t h e hilly islands and the palm-trees project their b r o a d s h a d o w s ; sometimes the rays o f the setting s u n are refracted in the cloud that hangs over t h e cataract, a n d c o l o u r e d arcs are formed which vanish and appear alternately. Such is t h e character o f t h e landscape discovered from t h e t o p o f the mountain o f M a n i m i , which n o traveller has y e t described. I d o n o t hesitate to repeat, that neither time, n o r the view o f the Cordilleras, n o r any abode in the t e m perate vallies o f M e x i c o , has effaced from m y m i n d t h e

powerful impression o f the aspect of the cataracts.

When I

read a description o f those places in I n d i a that are e m b e l lished b y r u n n i n g waters and a v i g o r o u s vegetation, m y imagination retraces a sea of foam and palm-trees, t h e t o p s o f which rise above a stratum o f vapour. T h e majestic scenes of nature, like the sublime w o r k s o f p o e t r y and the arts, leave r e m e m b r a n c e s that are incessantly awakening, and which, through the whole o f life, mingle with all o u r feelings o f what, is grand and beautiful. T h e calm o f the atmosphere, and t h e t u m u l t u o u s m o v e ment o f the waters, p r o d u c e a contrast peculiar t o this z o n e Here no breath o f wind ever agitates the foliage, n o c l o u d veils t h e splendour o f the azure vault o f h e a v e n ; a great mass o f light is diffused in the air. on the earth strewn with plants with glossy leaves, and on the bed of the river, which extends as far as the e y e can reach. This appearance s u r -


300

THE

PYTHON

SERPENT.

prises t h e traveller born in t h e n o r t h o f E u r o p e . o f wild s c e n e r y , o f a t o r r e n t r u s h i n g linked

i n his i m a g i n a t i o n

T h e idea

from rock t o rock, is

with that o f a climate where t h e

n o i s e o f t h e t e m p e s t is m i n g l e d with t h e s o u n d o f the c a t a r a c t ; a n d w h e r e , in a g l o o m y a n d m i s t y d a y , s w e e p i n g c l o u d s s e e m to descend into t h e valley, pines. the

a n d to r e s t u p o n t h e t o p s o f t h e

T h e landscape o f t h e tropics

continents

has a peculiar

g r e a t n e s s and repose, which t h e e l e m e n t s is s t r u g g l i n g

in t h e l o w r e g i o n s of

physiognomy,

it preserves with

s o m e t h i n g of

even

invincible

w h e r e o n e of

obstacles.

Near

t h e e q u a t o r , hurricanes a n d t e m p e s t s b e l o n g t o islands

only,

t o deserts d e s t i t u t e o f p l a n t s , a n d t o t h o s e s p o t s w h e r e p a r t s of

the atmosphere

repose

upon

surfaces

from

which t h e

r a d i a t i o n o f h e a t is very u n e q u a l . The

mountain

plain which

of Manimi

furnishes

for its p r o g r e s s i v e the

same

forms

t h e eastern

for t h e history

development

phenomena

which

limit

in bare

and desert

w e have described

s p e a k i n g o f t h e raudal o f A t u r e s .

of a

of vegetation, that is, places,

above in

D u r i n g the rainy s e a s o n ,

w a t e r s heap v e g e t a b l e earth upon t h e g r a n i t i c rock, t h e

the

bare shelves o f which e x t e n d mould,

decorated

with

horizontally.

beautiful

resoluble t h e b l o c k s o f g r a n i t e covered the

inhabitants

of the Alps

call

T h e s e islands of

and odoriferous with

gardens

plants,

flowers,

which

o r courtils, a n d

w h i c h pierce t h e glaciers o f S w i t z e r l a n d . In foot

a place w h e r e w e had bathed o f t h e rock

of Manimi,

seven feet and a-half

long.

Its back d i s p l a y e d , upon partly black, a n d partly

t h e day before,

t h e Indians

T h e M a c o s called

a yellow inclining

at t h e

killed a s e r p e n t camudu.

it a

ground, transverse bands, to a brown g r e e n :

under

t h e belly t h e bands were blue, and united in r h o m b i c

spots.

T h i s a n i m a l , which is n o t v e n o m o u s , is said by t h e natives t o attain m o r e than fifteen feet

in l e n g t h .

I

thought

t h a t t h e camudu w a s a boa ; but I saw with t h e scales b e n e a t h t h e tail were was

therefore

New to the

a viper,

Continent:

admit boas

that

divided

(coluber);

a t first,

surprise,

i n t o t w o rows.

perhaps

a python

that It

o f the

I say p e r h a p s , for great, n a t u r a l i s t s a p p e a r

all t h e p y t h o n s

to t h e N e w World.

belong

t o t h e O l d , a n d all

A s t h e boa o f Pliny was a

s e r p e n t o f Africa a n d o f t h e s o u t h o f E u r o p e , it w o u l d b e e n well i f t h e boas o f A m e r i c a

h a d been named

have

pythons,


WATER

SNAKES.

301

T h e first and t h e pythons of I n d i a b e e n called b o a s . n o t i o n s o f an enormous reptile capable o f seizing man, and even the great quadrupeds, came t o us from I n d i a and t h e coast o f G u i n e a . H o w e v e r indifferent names m a y b e , w e can scarcely admit t h e idea, that t h e hemisphere i n which V i r g i l described t h e agonies o f L a o c o o n , ( a fable w h i c h t h e Greeks of A s i a b o r r o w e d from m u c h m o r e southern n a t i o n s ) I will n o t a u g m e n t does n o t possess the boa-constrictor. the confusion o f zoological nomenclature by p r o p o s i n g n e w c h a n g e s , and shall confine m y s e l f t o observing that at least the missionaries and the latinized Indians o f the missions, if n o t the planters o f Guiana, clearly distinguish t h e tragavenados (real boas, with simple anal plates) from the culebras de agua, o r water-snakes, like t h e camudu ( p y t h o n s with d o u b l e anal scales). T h e traga-venados have n o transverse bands o n t h e back, b u t a chain o f r h o m b i c o r hexagonal spots. S o m e species prefer t h e driest p l a c e s ; others l o v e the water, as the pythons, o r culebras de agua. A d v a n c i n g towards t h e west, w e find the hills o r islets i n the deserted branch o f t h e O r i n o c o c r o w n e d with t h e same palm-trees that rise on t h e r o c k s o f the cataracts. O n e of these hills, called K e r i , is celebrated in t h e c o u n t r y on a c c o u n t o f a white spot which shines from afar, and i n which the natives profess t o see the image o f the full m o o n . I c o u l d n o t climb this steep r o c k , b u t I believe the w h i t e spot t o b e a large n o d u l e o f quartz, formed b y t h e union o f several o f those veins s o c o m m o n in granites passing into gneiss. O p p o s i t e Keri, o r the Rock o f the M o o n , o n t h e twin mountain Ouivitari, which is an islet i n t h e midst o f the cataracts, the Indians point o u t with mysterious a w e a similar white spot. It has the form o f a d i s c ; and they say this is the image o f the sun ( C a m o s i ) . Perhaps the geographical situation o f these t w o objects has c o n t r i b u t e d t o their having received these names. Keri is on the side of the setting, Camosi on that o f the rising s u n . L a n g u a g e s b e i n g t h e m o s t ancient historical m o n u m e n t s o f n a t i o n s , some learned m e n have b e e n singularly struck b y t h e analogy between the A m e r i c a n w o r d camosi and camosch, which seems t o have signified originally, t h e s u n , in o n e o f t h e Semitic dialects. This analogy has g i v e n rise to h y p o t h e s e s


302

THE

MAYPURE

TONGUE.

which appear t o m o at least very problematical. T h e god o f the M o a b i t e s , C h e m o s h , o r C a m o s c h , who has so wearied t h e patience o f t h e l e a r n e d ; A p o l l o C h o m e n s , c i t e d by Strabo and b y A m m i a n u s M a r c e l l i n u s ; B e l p h e g o r ; A m u n o r H a m o n ; and A d o n i s : all, w i t h o u t d o u b t , represent t h e sun in the winter s o l s t i c e ; b u t what can w e c o n c l u d e from a solitary and fortuitous resemblance; o f sounds in languages that have n o t h i n g besides in c o m m o n ? T h e M a y p u r e t o n g u e is still spoken at A t u r e s , although the mission is inhabited only b y G u a h i b o s and M a c o s . At M a y p u r e s the Guareken and Pareni t o n g u e s only are n o w spoken. F r o m t h e R i o A n a v e n i , which falls i n t o the O r i n o c o north o f A t u r e s , as far as b e y o n d J a o , and t o t h e m o u t h o f the Guaviaro ( b e t w e e n the fourth and sixth d e g r e e s o f l a t i t u d e ) , we e v e r y w h e r e find rivers, the t e r m i nation o f which, veni,* recalls t o m i n d the e x t e n t t o which t h e M a y p u r e t o n g u e heretofore prevailed. Veni, o r weni, signifies wafer, o r a river. T h e words camosi and keri, which w e have j u s t cited, are o f the idiom o f t h e Pareni Indians,† w h o , I think I have heard from the natives, lived originally o n the banks o f the Mataveni.‡ T h e A b b e Gili considers the Pareni as a s i m p l e dialect o f t h e M a y pure. T h i s question c a n n o t b e solved b y a c o m p a r i s o n o f the r o o t s m e r e l y . B e i n g totally i g n o r a n t o f t h e g r a m matical s t r u c t u r e o f the Pareni, I can raise but feeble d o u b t s against the o p i n i o n o f t h e Italian missionary. The P a r e n i is perhaps a mixture o f t w o t o n g u e s that belong t o different f a m i l i e s ; like the Maquiritari, which is c o m p o s e d o f the M a y p u r e and the C a r i b b e e ; or, to cite an e x a m p l e b e t t e r k n o w n , the m o d e r n Persian, which is allied at the same time t o the Sanscrit and t o t h e Semitic t o n g u e s . The * Anaveni, Mataveni, Maraveni, &c. † Or Parenas, who must not be confounded either with the Paravenes of the Rio Caura (Caulin p. 69), or with the Parecas, whose language belongs to the great family of the Tamanac tongues. A young Indian of Maypures, who called himself a Paragini, answered my questions almost in the same words that M . Bonpland heard from a Pareni. I have indicated the differences in the table, see pp. 303-4. ‡ South of the Rio Zama. W e slept in the open air near the mouth of the Mataveni on the 28th day of May, in our return from the Rio Negro.


ANALOGY

f o l l o w i n g are Paroni w o r d s , with M a y p u r e w o r d s . *

which I

PARENI TONGUE. The sun The moon A star The devil Water Fire Lightning The head The hair The eyes The nose The mouth The teeth The tongue The ear

The cheek The neck The arm The hand The breast The back The thigh The nipples The foot The toes The calf of the leg A crocodile A fish Maize Plantain

303

OF WORDS.

Camosi Keri Ouipo Amethami Oueni (ût) Casi Eno Ossipo Nomao Nopurizi Nosivi Nonoma Nasi Notate Notasine Nocaco Nono Nocano Nucavi Notoroni Notoli Nocazo Nocini Nocizi Nociziriani Nocavua Cazuiti Cimasi Cana Paratana (Teot)§

carefully c o m p a r e d

MAYPURE TONGUE. Kiè (Kiepurig) Kejapi (Cagijapi) Urrupu Vasuri Oueni Catti Eno-ima† Nuchibucu ‡ Nupuriki Nukirri Nunumacu Nati Nuare Nuakini Noinu Nuana Nucapi

Nukii Amana Timaki Jomuki Arata

* The words of the Maypure language have been taken from the works of Gili and Hervas. I collected the words placed between parentheses from a young Maco Indian, who understood the Maypure language. † I am ignorant of what ima signifies in this compound word. Eno means in Maypure the sky and thunder. Ina signifies mother. ‡ The syllables no and nu, joined to the words that designate parts of the body, might have been suppressed ; they answer to the possessive pronoun my. § W e may be surprised to find the word teot denote the eminently nutritive substance that supplies the place of corn (the gift of a beneficent divinity), and on which the subsistence of man within the tropics


304

RESEMBLANCE

OF SOUNDS.

PARENI TONGUE. Cacao Tobacco Pimento Mimosa inga Cecropia peltata Agaric

This

MAYPURE TONGUE.

Cacavua* Jеmа (Pumake) (Caraba) (Jocovi) (Cajuli) Puziana (Pagiana) Sinapa (Achinafe) Meteuba(Meuteufafa) Puriana vacavi Puriana vacavi uschanite Puriassima vacavi

comparison

seems to

prove

Jema

Papeta (Popetas) Avanume (Avanome) Apekiva Pejiiveji) (Jaliva

(Javiji)

that the analogies ob ­

served in the roots of the Pareni and the Maypure tongues are not frequent Maypure Moxos,

to

he neglected; they are, however, scarcely more

than of

those that

the Upper

have b een

Orinoco

which is spoken

from

15°

their

pronunciation

to

of

20°

on

south the

ob served

and

the

b anks

latitude.

English

th,

need

not

again

notice

the

The

origin

roots

b etween

furnishes

the

Parenis

the

little

against

the

have in

word

the

German from the Persian and the Greek.

camosi.

proof of com­

nations as the dissimilitude

evidence

of

Marmora,

(devil, evil spirit).

of

Solitary resemb lances of sounds are as munication

of

or tsa of the Arab ians,

as I clearly heard in the word Amethami I

b etween t h e

the language

affiliation

a

of

of

few the

It is remarkab le,

however, that the names of the sun and moon are sometimes found

to b e identical

in

languages,

the

grammatical

con­

depends. I may here mention, that the word Teo, or Teot, which in Aztec signifies God (Teotl, properly Teo, for tl is only a termination), is found in the language of the Betoï of the Rio Mela. The name of the moon, in this language so remarkab le for the complication of its gram­ matical structure, is Teo-ro. The name of the sun is Teo-umasoi. The particle ro designates a woman, umasoi a man. Among the Betoï, the Maypures, and so many other nations of b oth continents, the moon is believed to be the wife of the sun. But what is this root Teo? It appears to me very doub tful, that Teo-ro should signify God-woman, for Memelu is the name of the All­powerful Being in the Betoï language. * Has this word b een introduced from a communication with Europeans? It is almost identical with the Mexican (Aztec) word cacava.


305

NAMES OF CONSTELLATIONS.

struction of which is entirely different; I may cite as examples the Guarany and the Omagua,* languages of nations formerly very powerful. It may be conceived that, with the worship of the stars and of the powers of nature, words which have a relation to these objects might pass from one idiom to another. I showed the constellation of the Southern Cross to a Pareni Indian, who covered the lantern while I was taking the circum-meridian heights of the stars; and he called it Bahumehi, a name which the caribe fish, or serra salme, also bears in Pareni. He was ignorant of the name of the belt of Orion; but a Poignave Indian,† who knew the constellations better, assured me that in his tongue the belt of Orion bore the name of Fuebot; he called the moon Zenquerot. These two words have a very peculiar character for words of American origin. As the names of the constellations may have been transmitted to immense distances from one nation to another, these Poignave words have fixed the attention of the learned, who have imagined they recognize the Phœnician and Moabite tongues in the word camosi of the Pareni. Fuebot and zenquerot seem to remind us of the Phœnician words mot (clay), ardod (oak-tree), ephod, &c. But what can we conclude from simple terminations which are most frequently foreign to the roots ? In Hebrew the feminine plurals terminate also in oth. I noted entire phrases in Poignave; but the young man whom I interrogated spoke so quick that I could not seize the division of the words, and should have mixed them confusedly together had I attempted to write them down.‡ * Sun and Moon, in Guarany, Quarasi and Jasi; in Omagua, Huarassi and Jase. I shall give, farther on, these same words in the principal languages of the old and new worlds. (See note at pp. 3 2 6 - 3 2 8 . ) † At the Orinoco the Puignaves, or Poignaves, are distinguished from the Guipuñaves (Uipunavi). The latter, on account of their language, are considered as belonging to the Maypure and Cabre nations ; yet water is called in Poignave, as well as in Maypure, oueni. ‡ For a curious example of this, see the speech of Artabanes in Aristophanes, (Acharn. act 1 , scene 3,) where a Greek has attempted to give a Persian oration. See also Gibbon's Roman Empire, chap, liii, note 5 4 , for a curious example of the way in which foreign languages have been disfigured when it has been attempted to represent them in a totally different tongue.

VOL. II.

X


306

SOBER

HABITS

OF

THE INDIANS

The Mission near the raudal of Maypures was very c o n siderable in the time o f the Jesuits, w h e n it r e c k o n e d six h u n d r e d inhabitants, a m o n g w h o m were several families o f whites. U n d e r the g o v e r n m e n t o f t h e Fathers o f t h e O b s e r v a n c e the p o p u l a t i o n was r e d u c e d t o less than sixty. It must be observed that in this part o f S o u t h A m e r i c a cultivation has b e e n diminishing for half a c e n t u r y , while b e y o n d the forests, in the provinces near the sea, w e find villages that contain f r o m t w o o r three thousand I n d i a n s . T h e inhabitants o f M a y p u r e s are a mild, temperate people, and distinguished by great cleanliness. The savages o f the O r i n o c o for the most part have not that inordinate fondness for s t r o n g liquors which prevails in N o r t h A m e r i c a . I t is true that the O t t o m a c s , the J a r u r o s , the A c h a g u a s , and the Caribs, are often intoxicated by the immoderate use o f chiza and many other fermented liquors, which they know how t o prepare with cassava, maize, and the saccharine fruit o f the palm-tree; but travellers have as usual generalized what b e l o n g s only to the manners o f some tribes. W e were frequently unable t o prevail upon the Guahibos, or the M a c o - P i r o a s , t o taste brandy while they were labouring for u s , and s e e m e d exhausted b y fatigue. I t will require a l o n g e r residence o f E u r o p e a n s i n these c o u n t r i e s t o spread there the vices that are already c o m m o n a m o n g the Indians on the coast. I n the h u t s o f the natives o f M a y p u r e s we found an appearance o f order and neatness, rarely m e t with in the houses of the missionaries. These natives cultivate plantains and cavassa, but n o maize. Cassava, made i n t o thin cakes, is the bread o f the country. Like the greater part o f the Indians o f the O r i n o c o , the inhabitants o f M a y p u r e s have beverages which may be considered nourishing ; one of these, much celebrated in that c o u n t r y , is furnished by a palm-tree which g r o w s wild in the vicinity o f the mission on the banks o f the A u vana. This tree is the seje: I estimated the n u m b e r o f flowers on one cluster at forty-four t h o u s a n d ; and that o f the fruit, o f which the greater part fall without ripening, at eight thousand. T h e fruit is a small fleshy d r u p e . I t is immersed for a few minutes in boiling water, to separate the kernel from the p a r e n c h y m a t o u s part o f the sarcocarp, which has a sweet taste, and is p o u n d e d and bruised in a


307

NATIVE POTTERY.

largo vessel filled with water. T h e infusion yields a y e l l o w ish liquor, which tastes like milk o f almonds. Sometimes papelon (unrefined sugar) is added. T h e missionary told us that the natives b e c o m e visibly fatter during the t w o or three months in which they drink this seje, into which they dip their cakes o f cassava. T h e piaches, or Indian j u g g l e r s , g o into the forests, and s o u n d the botuto ( t h e sacred t r u m p e t ) under the seje palm-trees, " t o force the tree," they say, " t o yield an ample p r o d u c e the following y e a r . " The people pay for this operation, as the M o n g o l s , the A r a b s , and nations still nearer t o us, pay the chamans, the marabouts, and other classes o f priests, to drive away the white ants and the locusts b y m y s t i c words or prayers, o r t o p r o c u r e a cessation o f c o n t i n u e d rain, and invert the order o f the seasons. " I have a manufacture o f p o t t e r y in m y v i l l a g e , " said Father Zea, w h e n a c c o m p a n y i n g us o n a visit t o an Indian family, who were occupied in baking, by a fire o f b r u s h w o o d , in the o p e n air, large earthen vessels, t w o feet and a half high. This branch o f manufacture is peculiar t o the various tribes o f the great family o f M a y p u r e s , and they appear t o have followed it from time immemorial. In every part o f the forests, far from any human habitation, on d i g g i n g the earth, fragments o f pottery and delf are found. T h e taste for this kind o f manufacture seems to have been c o m m o n heretofore t o the natives o f b o t h N o r t h and South A m e r i c a . T o the n o r t h o f M e x i c o , o n the banks o f the Rio Gila, a m o n g the ruins o f an A z t e c c i t y ; in the U n i t e d States, near the tumuli of the M i a m i s ; in Florida, and in every place where any traces o f ancient civilization are found, the soil covers fragments o f painted p o t t e r y ; and the extreme resemblance o f the ornaments they display is striking. Savage nations, and those civilized p e o p l e * who are c o n d e m n e d by their political and religious institutions always t o imitate themselves, strive, as if by instinct, to perpetuate the same forms, t o preserve a peculiar t y p e or style, and t o follow the methods and processes which were employed by their ancestors. I n N o r t h A m e r i c a , fragments o f delf ware have b e e n • The Hindoos, the Tibetians, the Chinese, the ancient Egyptians, the Aztecs, the Peruvians ; with whom the tendency toward civilization in a body has prevented the free development of the faculties of individuals.

X 2


308

PAINTED

REPRESENTATIONS

OF

discovered in places w h e r e there exist t h e walls

and

of towns

constructed

t i o n , n o w entirely e x t i n c t . have a great days

on

rida.

lines

of

by s o m e

fortification, u n k n o w n na­

T h e paintings on these

similitude t o those which

earthenware

ANIMALS.

by t h e n a t i v e s

fragments

are e x e c u t e d

of

Louisiana

in o u r

and Flo­

T h u s too, t h e Indians of M a y p u r e s often painted b e ­

fore o u r e y e s t h e s a m e in t h e c a v e r n bones.

o r n a m e n t s as t h o s e w e had o b s e r v e d

of A t a r u i p e , o n t h e vases containing

T h e y were

grеcques,

human

m e a n d e r s , a n d figures o f c r o c o ­

d i l e s , of m o n k e y s , a n d of a l a r g e q u a d r u p e d w h i c h I c o u l d n o t r e c o g n i z e , t h o u g h it had a l w a y s t h e s a m e squat form. hazard and

the hypothesis

that

the type

that

had b e e n

migration

of the American

the

and s o u t h - e a s t ;

south

lieve

that

the

it b e l o n g s

figure

brought

nations

thither

from

that t h e d e f o r m e d i m a g e o f a native

The

by

straight

inclined

animal

has b e c o m e b y

lines

skill

the Mexican

edifices

at M i t l a ,

m a n y n a t i o n s w h o , without find

alike a s e n s i b l e pleasure same

Magna

Grecia,

and in t h e w o r k s

in the s y m m e t r i c

Arabesques,

meanders,

or

combined,

c o m m u n i c a t i o n with each

the

forms.

grecques,

variously

s i m i l a r t o t h o s e t h a t w e find on t h e vases o f on

to be­

preserved.

M a y p u r e s e x e c u t e with t h e greatest formed

in t h e g r e a t

t o represent a tapir, and

d e g r e e s o n e o f t h e t y p e s that has b e e n

ornaments

country,

the north-west to

but I am rather

is i n t e n d e d

I might

to another

o f so other,

repetition o f

and

grecques,

please o u r e y e s , b e c a u s e t h e e l e m e n t s o f which t h e i r series is composed,

follow

in r h y t h m i c

o r d e r , in t h e periodical ear

return

order.

d i s t i n g u i s h e s in t h e c a d e n c e d

concords.

C a n we t h e n

rhythm manifests

itself

T h e e y e finds in t h i s

of the same

forms, what t h e

succession

a d m i t a doubt

that

of s o u n d s a n d t h e feeling o f

in m a n at t h e first dawn o f civiliza­

t i o n , a n d in t h e rudest e s s a y s o f p o e t r y a n d s o n g ? Among

t h e natives

is an o c c u p a t i o n purify and

Maypures, the making of

t h e clay by repeated w a s h i n g s ,

mould

rican

of

pottery

principally c o n f i n e d t o t h e w o m e n .

t h e largest

vases with

Indian is u n a c q u a i n t e d with

their hands.

The Ame­

the potter's wheel, which

was familiar to the n a t i o n s o f t h e e a s t in t h e r e m o t e s t quity.

They

form it into c y l i n d e r s ,

anti­

W e m a y be s u r p r i s e d that t h e m i s s i o n a r i e s have n o t

i n t r o d u c e d this s i m p l e a n d useful m a c h i n e a m o n g t h e natives of

the Orinoco,

yet we must

recollect

that

three

centuries


COURSE OF

CIVILIZATION.

309

have n o t sufficed t o make it known,among the Indians o f the peninsula of A r a y a , opposite the p o r t o f Cumana. The colours used by the Maypures are the oxides o f iron and manganese, and particularly the y e l l o w and red ochres that are found in the hollows o f sandstone. Sometimes the fecula o f the B i g n o n i a chica is e m p l o y e d , after the pottery has been exposed to a feeble fire. This painting is covered with a varnish o f algarobo, which is the transparent resin o f the H y m e n ĂŚ a courbaril. T h e large vessels in which the chiza is preserved are called ciamacu; the smallest bear t h e name o f mucra, from which w o r d the Spaniards o f the coast have framed murcura. N o t only the M a y p u r e s , b u t also the G u a y p u n a v e s , the Caribs, the O t t o m a c s , and even the Guam o s , are distinguished at the O r i n o c o as makers of painted pottery, and this manufacture extended formerly towards the banks of the A m a z o n . Orellana was struck with the painted ornaments o n the ware o f the O m a g u a s , w h o in his time were a p o p u l o u s commercial nation. T h e following facts t h r o w some light o n the history o f American civilization. In the United States, west o f the Alleghany mountains, particularly between the Ohio and the great lakes o f Canada, o n d i g g i n g the earth, fragments o f painted pottery, mingled with brass tools, are c o n stantly found. T h i s m i x t u r e may well surprise us in a country where, on the first, arrival of Europeans, the natives were ignorant o f the use o f metals. I n the forests o f South A m e r i c a , which e x t e n d from the equator as far as the eighth degree o f north latitude, from the foot o f the A n d e s to the A t l a n t i c , this painted pottery is discovered in the m o s t desert places, but it is found accompanied by hatchets o f jade and other hard stones, skilfully perforated. N o metallic tools or ornaments have ever been d i s c o v e r e d ; though in the mountains on the shore, and at the back o f the C o r dilleras, the art of melting gold and copper, and o f mixing the latter metal with tin to make c u t t i n g instruments, was k n o w n . How can we a c c o u n t for these contrasts b e t w e e n the temperate and the torrid zone? T h e Incas o f Peru had pushed their conquests and their religious wars as far as the banks o f the N a p o and the A m a z o n , where their language extended over a small space o f land : but the civilization o f the Peruvians, o f the inhabitants o f Q u i t o , and o f the


CYCLOPEAN

310

M u y s c a s of sensible

New

Grenada,

influence

on

must

the

be

WALLS.

never a p p e a r s moral

slate

further,

have had

the

It

America,

between the Ohio, M i a m i , and the Lakes, an systematic authors

that

in

would

feet

high, and seven

or

eight

un-

thousand

the

walls

of

ten

to

e a r t h a n d s o m e t i m e s o f s t o n e w i t h o u t m o r t a r , * from fifteen

feet

long.

circumvallations sometimes enclosed a

d r e d and fifty acres o f g r o u n d .

of

North

make

d e s c e n d a n t s o f t h e T o l t e c s and A z t e c s , c o n s t r u c t e d

These singular

any

nations

Guiana.

known people, whom

observed

to

of

hun-

In the plains o f the O r i n o c o ,

as in t h o s e of M a r i e t t a , the M i a m i , and the Ohio, t h e c e n t r e o f an a n c i e n t civilization is f o u n d in t h e w e s t o n t h e b a c k

of

the m o u n t a i n s ; but the Orinoco, and the countries lying between

that great

river a n d

the

Amazon,

appear

never

to

have b e e n i n h a b i t e d b y n a t i o n s w h o s e c o n s t r u c t i o n s have r e sisted the ravages of t i m e .

Though

symbolical

figures

are

found e n g r a v e d on t h e hardest rocks, y e t f u r t h e r s o u t h t h a n eight d e g r e e s of l a t i t u d e , n o t u m u l u s , n o c i r c u m v a l l a t i o n , n o dike o f earth similar to t h o s e that e x i s t farther north in plains o f Varinas and C a n a g u a , has been f o u n d . contrast t h a t m a y be o b s e r v e d

between

the

S u c h is t h e

t h e eastern parts o f

N o r t h and S o u t h America, t h o s e parts w h i c h e x t e n d f r o m the t a b l e - l a n d of

Cundinamarca†

and I be m o u n t a i n s of

Cayenne

t o w a r d s the A t l a n t i c , and those which stretch from the A n d e s o f New Spain t o w a r d s t h e A l l e g h a n i e s .

N a t i o n s a d v a n c e d in

civilization, of which we discover traces on t h e b a n k s of lake T e g u y o and in the sent

some

Casas

grandes

o f t h e Rio G i l a , might have

tribes e a s t w a r d into t h e o p e n

countries

of

the

M i s s o u r i and the O h i o , where the c l i m a t e differs little from t h a t o f New

Mexico;

but in S o u t h A m e r i c a , w h e r e t h e g r e a t

flux of n a t i o n s has c o n t i n u e d from north to s o u t h , t h o s e w h o had

long e n j o y e d

equinoctial

the mild t e m p e r a t u r e

Cordilleras

b u r n i n g plains bristled periodical

no

doubt

of t h e back

dreaded

with forests, and

s w e l l i n g s o f rivers.

It

is easy

a

of the

descent

inundated

by

to conceive

into the how

m u c h t h e force of v e g e t a t i o n , a n d t h e n a t u r e of t h e soil a n d * Of siliceous limestone, at Pique, on the Great Miami ; of sandstone at. Creek Point, ten leagues from Chillakothe, where the wall is fifteen hundred toises long. † This is the ancient name of the empire of the Zaques. founded by Bochica or Idacanzas, the high priest of Iraca, in New Grenada.


DOMESTICATED

BIRDS

AND

ANIMALS.

311

climate, within the torrid z o n e , embarrassed the natives in regard t o migration in n u m e r o u s bodies, prevented settlem e n t s requiring an extensive space, and perpetuated the misery and barbarism of solitary hordes. The feeble civilization i n t r o d u c e d in o u r days b y the Spanish m o n k s pursues a retrograde course. Father Gili relates that, at the t i m e o f the expedition to the boundaries, agriculture b e g a n t o make s o m e progress on the banks o f the O r i n o c o ; and that cattle, especially goats, had m u l tiplied considerably at M a y p u r e s . W e f o u n d n o goats, either in the mission or in any other village o f the O r i n o c o ; t h e y had all been devoured b y the tigers. T h e black and white breeds o f pigs only, the latter o f which are called F r e n c h pigs ( p u e r c o s franceses), because they are believed to have c o m e from the Caribbee Islands, have resisted the pursuit o f wild beasts. W e saw with m u c h pleasure guacamayas, or tame macaws, round the huts o f the Indians, and f l y i n g t o the fields like o u r p i g e o n s . T h i s bird is the largest and m o s t majestic species o f parrot with naked c h e c k s that we f o u n d in o u r travels. I t is called in M a r a tivitan, cahuei. I n c l u d i n g the tail, it is t w o feet three inches long. W e had observed it also on the banks o f the A t a b a p o , the T e m i , and the Rio N e g r o . T h e flesh o f the cahuei, which is frequently eaten, is black and somewhat tough. T h e s e macaws, whose p l u m a g e g l o w s with vivid tints o f purple, blue, and y e l l o w , are a great o r n a m e n t to the Indian farm-yards; they do not yield in beauty to the p e a c o c k , the g o l d e n pheasant, t h e pauxi, o r the alector. T h e practice of rearing parrots, birds of a family so different from the gallinaceous tribes, was remarked b y C o l u m b u s . When he discovered America ho saw macaws, or large parrots, which served as food to the natives of the Caribbee Islands, instead o f fowls. A majestic tree, m o r e than sixty feet high, which the planters call fruta de burro, g r o w s in t h e vicinity o f t h e little village o f M a y p u r e s . I t is a new species o f the u n o n a , and has the stateliness o f the Uvaria zeylanica of Aublet. Its branches are straight, and rise in a pyramid, nearly like the poplar o f the Mississippi, erroneously called t h e Lombardy poplar. T h e tree is celebrated for its aromatic fruit, the infusion o f which is a powerful febrifuge.


312

REMEDIES FOR THE FEVER.

The

poor

with

tertian

missionaries fevers

of the Orinoco,

during a great

w h o a r e afflicted

part o f t h e y e a r ,

d o m travel w i t h o u t a little b a g filled w i t h frutas I

have

already

observed,

that

between

de

selburro.

t h e tropics,

the

u s e o f a r o m a t i c s , for i n s t a n c e very s t r o n g coffee, the Croton cascarilla,

o r the p e r i c a r p

generally preferred c h o n a , or of bark.

Bonplandia

T h e people

prejudice

trifolatia, which have

the employment

a n d in t h e very

remedy grows, they

xylopioïdes,

o f t h e astringent

of America

against

cinchona;

of the Unona

to that

bark

is t h e A n g o s t u r a

the most of

countries

is

o f cin-

inveterate

different

where

kinds

this

of

valuable

try ( t o use their o w n phrase)

to c u t

off t h e fever, by infusions o f S c o p a r i a dulcis, a n d h o t l e m o n ade

p r e p a r e d with s u g a r a n d t h e s m a l l wild l i m e , t h e rind

o f w h i c h is e q u a l l y oily a n d a r o m a t i c . The

weather I

vations.

was u n f a v o u r a b l e

for a s t r o n o m i c a l

series

of corresponding

altitudes

which

the chronometer

g a v e 70° 37' 33

of

the mission

star observed

towards towards

the most recent m a p s degree us.

found.

for t h e l o n g i t u d e

of latitude. Nowhere

t h e n o r t h , to be 5° 13' 57'' ; and by a t h e s o u t h , 5° 13' 7".

T h e error o f

is half a d e g r e e o f l o n g i t u d e a n d half I t w o u l d be difficult

trouble a n d torments cost

o f the sun. according t o

o f M a y p u r e s ; t h e latitude was found, b y a

star observed a

obser-

o b t a i n e d , h o w e v e r , on t h e 20th o f A p r i l , a g o o d

which

these

t o relate t h e

nocturnal

is a denser cloud

observations

o f mosquitos

I t f o r m e d , a s it w e r e , a particular

t o be

stratum

some

feet a b o v e t h e g r o u n d , and it t h i c k e n e d as w e b r o u g h t l i g h t s to

illumine

pures,

o u r artificial horizon.

for t h e m o s t

islets

amid

less;

others

part, q u i t

T h e inhabitants o f May-

t h e village

the cataracts, where make

t o sleep

the number

a fire o f b r u s h w o o d

in t h e

o f insects is

in their

huts, and

s u s p e n d t h e i r h a m m o c k s in t h e m i d s t o f t h e s m o k e . We

spent,

t w o d a y s and a half

in t h e little

M a y p u r e s , on t h e b a n k s o f t h e great on t h e 21st A p r i l tained

from

we embarked

t h e missionary

d a m a g e d by t h e shoals lessness it.

b u t still

I t w a s t o be d r a g g e d

thirty-six

thousand

feet;

over from

we had o b -

It w a s m u c h

a g a i n s t . and t h e c a r e -

greater

dangers

laud, across the

village o f

Cataract, and

in t h e c a n o e

o f Carichana.

it had struck

of the I n d i a n s ;

Upper

Rio

awaited

an i s t h m u s o f

Tuamini

t o the


NATIVE

CURIOSITIES.

313

R i o N e g r o , to g o u p b y t h e Cassiquiare t o the O r i n o c o , and t o repass the t w o raudales. W h e n the traveller has passed the G r e a t Cataracts, he feels as if be were in a new world, and had overstepped the barriers which nature seems t o have raised b e t w e e n the civilized countries o f t h e coast and the savage and u n k n o w n interior. T o w a r d s the east, in the bluish distance, w e saw for the last time the high chain o f the Cunavami mountains. Its long, horizontal ridge reminded us o f the M e s a o f t h e Brigantine, near C u m a n a ; but it terminates b y a truncated summit. The Peak o f Calitamini (the name given to this s u m m i t ) g l o w s at sunset as with a reddish fire. This appearance is every day the same. No one ever approached this mountain, t h e height o f which does n o t e x c e e d six hundred toises. I believe this splendour, c o m m o n l y reddish b u t sometimes silvery, to be a reflection produced by large plates of talc, or by gneiss passing into mica-slate. The whole o f this c o u n t r y contains granitic r o c k s , on which here and there, in little plains, an argillaceous grit-stone immediately reposes, c o n t a i n i n g fragments o f quartz and o f b r o w n iron-ore. I n g o i n g to the embarcadero, w e c a u g h t on t h e trunk o f a h e v e a * a n e w species o f tree-frog, remarkable for its beautiful c o l o u r s ; it had a yellow belly, t h e back and head o f a line velvety purple, and a very narrow stripe o f white from the point o f the nose t o the hinder extremities. This frog was two inches long, and allied to the Rana tinctoria, the blood o f which, it is asserted, i n t r o d u c e d into the skin o f a parrot, in places where the feathers have been plucked o u t , occasions the g r o w t h o f frizzled feathers o f a y e l l o w or red colour. T h e Indians showed us on the way, what is n o d o u b t very curious in that c o u n t r y , traces o f c a r t wheels in the rock. T h e y spoke, as o f an u n k n o w n animal, o f those beasts with large horns, which, at the time o f the expedition to the boundaries, drew the boats through the valley o f K e r i , from the R i o T o p a r o t o t h e R i o Cameji, t o avoid the cataracts, and save the trouble o f unloading t h e merchandize. I believe these poor inhabitants o f M a y p u r e s would now be as much astonished at the sight o f an ox of the Spanish breed, as the R o m a n s w e r e at the sight o f * One of those trees whose milk yields caoutchouc.


314

RAUDAL

the ‘ Lucanian a r m y of We

oxen,'

DE

CAMEJI.

as t h e y

called

Puerto

de

the

elephants

of

the

Pyrrhus. embarked

at

called

the

surface

as g l a s s .

of

We

Piedra Raton,

difficulty.

the

river

This

the

t o b e d a n g e r o u s w h e n t h e w a t e r is very high ; b u t

found

some

passed

reputed smooth

with

and

de

we

Cameji

Arriba,

Raudal

beyond

passed the night

is

which

passage

the

shrubs,

three-quarters

scattered

as

in a r o c k y island

over

league

of a

l o n g , and displays that s i n g u l a r a s p e c t o f rising those clusters of

raudal

is

vegetation,

a bare and

rocky

soil, o f which w e have often s p o k e n . O n the 2 2 n d

of April

before s u n r i s e .

we

departed

The morning

a breath of w i n d was

felt;

for

south

p u r e s a perpetual calm prevails.

of A t u r e s

mission

of Santa

and

O n the banks of

N e g r o and the C a s s i q u i a r e , at the foot at t h e

an h o u r a n d a

was humid but d e l i c i o u s ;

of C e r r o

half not May-

the

Rio

Duida, and

Barbara, w e never heard t h a t r u s t -

ling of the leaves which has such a p e c u l i a r c h a r m in very h o t climates.

T h e w i n d i n g s o f rivers, t h e s h e l t e r o f

the thickness of the

at o n e or t w o d e g r e e s of l a t i t u d e n o r t h tribute

no

doubt

the m i s s i o n s of

to

the

mountains,

forests, a n d t h e a l m o s t c o n t i n u a l r a i n s , of the equator, c o n -

this p h e n o m e n o n , which is peculiar t o

Orinoco.

In t h a t part o f t h e valley o f the A m a z o n

which

is

south

o f t h e e q u a t o r , b u t at t h e s a m e d i s t a n c e from it, as the places just

m e n t i o n e d , a s t r o n g wind

mid-day.

This

wind

blows

always

rises t w o hours

constantly

a n d is felt o n l y in t h e bed of the river. is an easterly w i n d ; and

at T o m e p e n d a

north-north-east;

it is still

against

the

B e l o w S a n Borja it

I found it b e t w e e n

the

after

stream, north

s a m e breeze, t h e w i n d

o f t h e r o t a t i o n o f t h e g l o b e , b u t modified by s l i g h t local circumstances.

B y favour o f this g e n e r a l b r e e z e y o u m a y g o u p

the A m a z o n u n d e r sail, from

Grand

Para as

d i s t a n c e o f seven h u n d r e d and fifty l e a g u e s . o f Jaen de B r a c a m o r o s , at of

far

as T e f e , a

In the p r o v i n c e

the foot o f the w e s t e r n

declivity

t h e C o r d i l l e r a s , this A t l a n t i c b r e e z e rises s o m e t i m e s t o a

tempest . It

is

Amazon

highly

probable

is o w i n g

air o f t h e

Upper

powerfully,

and

that

the

great

to this c o n s t a n t b r e e z e . Orinoco more

the chemical

deleterious

salubrity

of

the

In t h e s t a g n a n t affinities a c t m o r e

miasmata

are

formed.


BREEZES ON THE AMAZON.

315

T h e insalubrity o f t h e climate w o u l d b e t h e same o n t h e woody banks o f the A m a z o n , i f that river, r u n n i n g like t h e N i g e r from west t o east, did n o t follow in its i m m e n s e length the same direction, which is that o f t h e trade-winds. T h e valley o f t h e A m a z o n is closed only at i t s w e s t e r n e x t r e m i t y , where it approaches the Cordilleras o f the A n d e s . T o w a r d s the east, where t h e sea-breeze strikes t h e New C o n t i n e n t , t h e shore is raised b u t a few feet above the level T h e U p p e r O r i n o c o first runs from east to o f the A t l a n t i c . w e s t , a n d then from n o r t h t o so uth. W h e r e its course is nearly parallel t o that o f the A m a z o n , a very hilly c o u n t r y ( t h e g r o u p o f t h e m o u n t a i n s o f Parima a n d of Dutch and French G u i a n a ) separates it from t h e A t l a n t i c , and prevents the wind o f rotation from reaching Esmeralda. This wind b e g i n s t o b e powerfully felt only from the confluence o f t h e A p u r e , where the Lower O r i n o c o runs from west t o east in a vast plain o p e n towards the A t l a n t i c , a n d therefore t h e climate of this part o f the river is less n o x i o u s than that of the U p p e r

Orinoco.

I n order t o a d d a third p o i n t o f c o m p a r i s o n , I m a y m e n t i o n the valley of t h e Rio M a g d a l e n a , which, like t h e A m a z o n , has o n e direction o n l y , but unfortunately, instead o f being that o f t h e b r e e z e , it is from south t o n o r t h . Situated in t h e region o f the trade-winds, the R i o M a g d a lena has the stagnant air o f the U p p e r O r i n o c o . F r o m t h e canal o f M a h a t e s as far as H o n d a , particularly south o f t h e town o f M o m p o x , w e never felt t h e wind blow b u t at the approach o f t h e evening storms. W h e n , o n t h e contrary, y o u proceed u p t h e river b e y o n d H o n d a , y o u find t h e a t mosphere often agitated. T h e strong winds that are i n gulfed in the valley o f Neiva are n o t e d f o r their excessive heat. W e may be at first surprised t o perceive that t h e calm ceases as we approach the lofty mountains in the upper course o f the river, but this astonishment ends when we recollect that the dry and burning winds o f the Llanos de Neiva are t h e effect o f descending currents. The c o l u m n s o f cold air rush from t h e t o p of t h e N e v a d o s of Q u i n d i u and o f Guanacas into t h e valley, driving before them the lower strata o f the atmosphere. Everywhere t h e unequal heating o f the soil, and the proximity o f mountains c o v e r e d with perpetual s n o w , cause partial currents within


316

CERROS

DE

SIPAPO.

t h e t r o p i c s , as w e l l as i n t h e t e m p e r a t e w i n d s o f N e i v a are n o t t h e

effect

zone.

T h e violent

o f a r e p e r c u s s i o n of

the

t r a d e - w i n d s ; t h e y rise w h e r e t h o s e w i n d s c a n n o t p e n e t r a t e ; a n d if t h e m o u n t a i n s o f t h e Uрреr O r i n o c o , t h e t o p s o f which are g e n e r a l l y c r o w n e d w i t h t r e e s , w e r e m o r e e l e v a t e d , would produce the mosphere

as

Abyssinia,

we

and

same impetuous observe

of

Thibet.

exists between

the

position o f the

adjacent

atmosphere,

and

in

the

the

Cordilleras

The

direction

movements

intimate

o f rivers, t h e

mountains,

the

salubrity o f t h e

well worthy of attention.

they

in the

of

at­

Peru,

of

connection

that

height

dis-

and

movements

of

c l i m a t e , are

the

subjects

T h e study o f the surface and t h e

i n e q u a l i t i e s o f t h e soil w o u l d i n d e e d b e i r k s o m e a n d u s e l e s s were it not c o n n e c t e d with m o r e general c o n s i d e r a t i o n s . At

the

distance

of

six

miles

R a t o n w e p a s s e d , first, o n t h e Sipapo,

called

Tipapu

west,

the

mouth

some

rocks covered

o r raudalito. in

1757,

of

The

and

by

the

the

from

east,

Rio

the

the

island

mouth

Indians;

and

Vichada.

then,

Sipapo,

he

bears

which

Father

the

name

of

the

river,

Cunavami.

rises a b o v e the

Gili

C o r d i l l e r a o f Parima.

of

up a b r u p t l y

from

running

from

to

S.S.E.

the

plain,

N.N.W.

I

heaped tation

with

with that to

a

Catalonia,*

together. every

dark

region

Broad bouring

and

The

are

Cerros

hour o f the d a y . which

strong

plain,

these

green

where and

in

joins

to

the

its the

Peak

Esmeralda, the

lofty of the w h o l e

to

with are

ridge

these

blocks wear

sunrise are

of a

of

granite different

t h e thick

clothed

of

crags,

in t h e s a n d s t o n e to

Sipapo

mountains

shadows form

de At

inclining trees

owing

its c r a g g y believe

t h e s e i n d e n t a t i o n s , which equally o c c u r

aspect

which

T h e y form an i m m e n s e wall o f r o c k s ,

shooting

in

went up

and

Next

mission

C e r r o s o f S i p a p o appeared to m e t h e m o s t

Montserrat

the

says is t w i c e as b r o a d as t h e T i b e r ,

g r o u p o f C a l i t a m i n i and of D u i d a , which

Rio

on

N e a r t h e latter are

c o m e s from a c o n s i d e r a b l e chain o f m o u n t a i n s ,

of

Piedra

by t h e water, that form a small cascade Rio

which

s o u t h e r n part

of

of the

is

vege­ tinged

b r o w n , which is peculiar

coriaceous projected

a contrast

with

leaves on the

prevail.

the vivid

* From them the name of Montserrat is derived, Monte signifying a mountain ridged or jugged like a saw.

neigh­ light Serrato


317

LEGENDS OF HEADLESS MEN. diffused

o v e r the g r o u n d , in t h e air, a n d o n the surface o f

the waters.

B u t towards n o o n , when t h e s u n reaches its

zenith, these strong

shadows gradually

disappear,

and the

w h o l e g r o u p is veiled by an aerial v a p o u r o f a m u c h d e e p e r a z u r e than t h a t o f t h e l o w e r r e g i o n s o f t h e celestial v a u l t . These

vapours, circulating around t h e rocky ridge,

its o u t l i n e , t e m p e r landscape

that

t h e effects

aspect

soften

of t h e light, and give t h e

of calmness

and repose

nature, as in t h e works o f Claude

which

in

Lorraine and Poussin,

arises from t h e h a r m o n y of forms and c o l o u r s . Cruzero, resided

t h e powerful

behind

the

chief o f t h e G u a y p u n a v e s ,

mountains

of

Sipapo,

after

long

having

q u i t t e d w i t h his warlike h o r d e t h e p l a i n s b e t w e e n t h e Rio Inirida a n d t h e C h a m o c h i q u i n i .

T h e Indians told u s that

t h e forests which cover t h e Sipapo a b o u n d in t h e c l i m b i n g called vehuco

plant

celebrated baskets

among

de

maimure.

the

and weaving

altogether unknown,

Indians,

mats.

of

"with

making

Sipapo

are

place t h e

m o u t h s a r e b e l i e v e d t o b e in

A n old Indian, whom

t h e s e acephali

o f l i a n a is for

and there the missionaries

and who boasted o f having seen

species

a n d serves

T h e forests

nation of the R a y a s , * whose their navels.

This

often

w e m e t at Carichana, eaten

human

h i s o w n eyes."

flesh,

These

had

absurd

fables are s p r e a d a s far a s t h e L l a n o s , w h e r e y o u a r e n o t a l w a y s p e r m i t t e d t o doubt t h e e x i s t e n c e o f t h e Raya I n d i a n s . In

every

zone

intolerance

accompanies

might be said t h a t t h e fictions o f ancient passed

credulity;

a n d it

g e o g r a p h e r s had

from o n e h e m i s p h e r e t o t h e o t h e r , did we n o t k n o w

that t h e m o s t fantastic p r o d u c t i o n s o f t h e i m a g i n a t i o n , like t h e w o r k s o f n a t u r e , furnish

everywhere a certain

analogy

of aspect and of form. W e landed at t h e m o u t h o f t h e Rio V i c h a d a o r V i s a t a t o e x a m i n e t h e p l a n t s o f t h a t part o f t h e c o u n t r y . very s i n g u l a r .

T h e s c e n e r y is

T h e forest is t h i n , a n d an i n n u m e r a b l e q u a n t i t y

*Rays, on account of the pretended analogy with the fish of this name, the mouth of which seems as if forced downwards below the body. This singular legend has been spread far and wide over the earth. Shakespeare has described Othello as recounting marvellous tales " of cannibals that do each other eat : Of Anthropophagi, and men whose heads Do grow beneath their shoulders."


318

THE CINNAMON OF THE ORINOCO.

o f small r o c k s rise from the plain. T h e s e form massy prisms, ruined pillars, and solitary towers fifteen o r twenty feet high. Some are shaded by the trees o f the forest, others have their summits c r o w n e d with palms. These rocks are of granite passing into gneiss. At the confluence o f t h e V i c h a d a the rocks o f granite, and what is still m o r e remarkable, the soil itself, are covered with moss and lichens. T h e s e latter resemble the Cladonia pyxidata and the L i c h e n rangiferinus, so c o m m o n in the north o f Europe. W e c o u l d scarcely persuade ourselves that we were elevated less than o n e hundred toises above the level o f the sea, in the fifth degree o f latitude, in the centre o f the torrid zone, which has so l o n g been t h o u g h t t o be destitute o f c r y p t o g a m o u s plants. T h e mean temperature o f this shady and humid s p o t p r o bably exceeds twenty-six degrees o f the centigrade t h e r m o meter. Inflecting on the small quantity o f rain which had hitherto fallen, we were surprised at the beautiful verdure o f the forests. T h i s peculiarity characterises the valley of the Upper Orinoco ; on the coast o f Caracas, and in the Llanos, the trees in winter (in the season called s u m m e r in South A m e r i c a , north o f the e q u a t o r ) are stripped o f their leaves, and the g r o u n d is covered o n l y with y e l l o w a n d withered grass. Between the solitary rocks just described arise some high plants o f c o l u m n a r cactus ( C a c t u s s e p t e m a n g u l a r i s ) , a very rare appearance south o f the cataracts o f A t u r e s and M a y p u r e s . A m i d this picturesque scene M . Bonpland was fortunate e n o u g h to find several specimens o f Laurus c i n n a m o m o 誰 d e s , a very aromatic species o f c i n n a m o n , known at the O r i n o c o by the names o f varimacu and o f canelilla* This valuable production is found also in the valley of the Rio Caura, as well as near Esmeralda, and eastward o f the G r e a t Cataracts. The Jesuit Francisco de Olmo appears to have been the first w h o discovered t h e canelilla, which he did in the country o f the Piaroas, near the sources o f the Cataniapo. T h e missionary Gili, who did not advance so far as the regions I am now describing, seems to c o n f o u n d the varimacu, or guarimacu, with the myristica, or nutmeg-tree o f America. These barks and aromatic fruits, the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the M y r t u s pimenta, and the Laurus pucheri, * The diminutive of the Spanish word canela, which signifies cinnamon.


DISTRIBUTION OF PLANTS

AND ANIMALS.

319

w o u l d have b e c o m e i m p o r t a n t objects o f trade, i f E u r o p e , at t h e period o f t h e discovery o f t h e N e w W o r l d , had n o t already been accustomed t o the spices and aromatics o f India. T h e c i n n a m o n o f the O r i n o c o , a n d that o f t h e A n d a q u i e s missions, a r e , however, less aromatic than t h e cinnamon o f C e y l o n , and w o u l d still b e so even i f dried and prepared by similar processes. E v e r y hemisphere produces plants o f a different species ; and it is n o t by the diversity o f climates that we can attempt t o explain w h y equinoctial A f r i c a has n o laurels, and the N e w W o r l d n o heaths ; w h y calceolariĂŚ are f o u n d wild o n l y in t h e southern hemisphere ; w h y t h e birds o f the East Indies g l o w with colours less splendid than those o f the h o t parts o f A m e r i c a ; finally, w h y the t i g e r is peculiar t o A s i a , and the o r n i t h o r y n c h u s t o Australia. I n the vegetable as well as in the animal k i n g d o m , the causes o f the distribution o f the species are a m o n g the mysteries which natural philosophy cannot solve. The attempts made t o explain the distribution o f various species o n the g l o b e b y the solo influence o f climate, take their date from a period when physical g e o graphy was still in its infancy ; w h e n , recurring incessantly to pretended contrasts b e t w e e n t h e t w o worlds, it was imagined that the whole o f A f r i c a and o f A m e r i c a resembled the deserts o f E g y p t and the marshes of C a y e n n e . A t present, when m e n j u d g e o f t h e state o f things n o t from o n e t y p e arbitrarily chosen, b u t from positive knowledge, if is ascertained that the t w o c o n t i n e n t s , in their i m m e n s e e x t e n t , c o n tain countries that are altogether analagous. T h e r e are regions o f A m e r i c a as barren and b u r n i n g as the interior of Africa. T h o s e islands which p r o d u c e the spices o f India are scarcely remarkable f o r their d r y n e s s ; and it is n o t o n a c c o u n t o f the humidity o f the climate, as has been affirmed in recent works, that the N e w Continent, is deprived o f those fine species of lauriniĂŚ and myristicĂŚ, which are found united in one little c o r n e r o f the earth in the archipelago o f I n d i a . For some years past, cinnamon has been cultivated with success i n several parts o f t h e N e w C o n t i n e n t ; and a z o n e that p r o d u c e s t h e c o u m a r o u n a , the vanilla, the pucheri, t h e pine-apple, the p i m e n t o , the balsam o f tolu, the M y r o x y l o n peruvianum, the c r o t o n , the citroma, the pejoa, the incienso


320

AMERICAN

POISONS.

of the Silla o f Caracas, the quereme, the pancratium, and so many majestic liliaceous plants, cannot be considered аs destitute of aromatics. Besides, a dry air favours the deve­ lopment of the aromatic or exciting properties, only in cer­ tain species of plants. The most inveterate poisons are produced in the most humid zone of America; and it is precisely under the influence of the long rains of the tropics, that the American pimento, (Capsicum baccatum), the fruit of which is of often as caustic and fiery as In­ dian pepper, veg etates best. From all these considerations it follows, 1st, that the New Continent possesses spices, aromatics, and very active veg etable poisons, peculiar to itself, and differing specifically from those of the Old World ; 2ndly, that the primitive distribution of species in the torrid zone cannot be explained by the influence of climate solely, or by the distribution of temperature, which we observe in the present state of our planet ; but that this difference of climates leads us to perceive why a g iven type of org anization developes itself more vig orously in such or such local cir­ cumstances. W e can conceive that a small number of the families of plants, for instance the musaceæ and the palms, cannot belong to very cold reg ions, on account of their internal structure. and the importance of certain org ans; but we cannot explain why no one of the family of the Me­ lastomaceæ veg etates north of the parallel of the thirtieth degree of latitude, or why no rose­tree belong s to the southern hemisphere. Analo g y of climates is often found in the t w o continents, without identity of productions. The Rio Vichada, which has a small raudal at its conflu­ ence with the Orinoco, appeared to me, next to the Meta and the Guaviare, to be the most considerable river coming from the west. Dinin g the last forty years no European has navig ated the Vichada. I could learn nothing of its sources; they rise, I believe, with those of the Tomo, in the plains that extend to the south of Casimena. Fugitive In­ dians of Santa Rosalia de Cabapuna. a villag e situate on the banks of the Meta, have arrived even recently, by the Rio Vichada, at the cataract of Maypures ; which sufficiently proves that the sources of this river are not very distant from the, Meta Father Gumilla has preserved the names


321

UNEXPLORED REGlONS.

o f several G e r m a n and Spanish Jesuits, w h o in 1734 fe victims t o their zeal for religion, b y the hands o f the Caribs on the n o w desert banks o f the Vichada. Having passed the Caño Pirajavi on t h e east, and then a small river on the west, which issues, as t h e Indians say, from a lake; called N a o , w e rested for the night o n t h e shore o f the O r i n o c o , at t h e m o u t h o f the Z a m a , a very c o n s i d e rable river, but as little k n o w n as t h e V i c h a d a . N o t w i t h s t a n d ing the ‘ black waters' o f t h e Zama, w e suffered greatly from insects. T h e night was beautiful, without a breath o f wind in the lower regions o f t h e atmosphere, b u t towards t w o in the m o r n i n g we saw thick clouds crossing the zenith rapidly from east t o west. W h e n , declining t o w a r d t h e horizon, they traversed the great nebulæ o f Sagittarius and t h e Ship, they appeared o f a dark blue. T h e light o f the nebulæ is n e v e r more splendid than when they are in part c o v e r e d b y s w e e p i n g clouds. W e observe the same p h e n o m e n o n in E u r o p e in the M i l k y W a y , in t h e aurora borealis when it beams with a silvery l i g h t ; and at t h e rising and setting o f the sun in that part o f t h e sky that is w h i t e n e d * from causes which philosophers have n o t y e t sufficiently explained. T h e vast tract o f country lying between the M e t a , the V i c h a d a , and the Guaviare, is altogether u n k n o w n a league from t h e banks ; b u t it is believed t o b e inhabited b y wild Indians o f the tribe o f Chiricoas, w h o fortunately build n o boats. F o r m e r l y , when t h e Caribs, and their enemies t h e Cabres, traversed these regions with their little fleets o f rafts and canoes, it w o u l d have b e e n i m p r u d e n t t o have passed the night near the mouth o f a river r u n n i n g from the west. T h e little settlements o f the E u r o p e a n s having n o w caused the independent Indians to retire from t h e banks o f the U p p e r O r i n o c o , the solitude o f these regions is such, that from Carichana t o Javita, and from Esmeralda t o San Fernando do Atabapo, during a course o f o n e hundred and eighty leagues, we did not meet a single boat. A t the mouth o f t h e Rio Z a m a we approach a class of rivers, that merits great attention. T h e Zama the M a t a veni, the A t a b a p o , t h e T u a m i n i , t h e T e m i , and the G u a i n i a , are aguas negras, that is, their waters, seen in a large b o d y , * The dawn ; in French aube (alba, albente cœlo.)

VOL.

II.

Y


322

W H I T E AND BLACK WATERS.

appear b r o w n like coffee, o r o f a greenish black. These waters, notwithstanding, are m o s t beautiful, clear, a n d agreeable t o the taste. I have observed a b o v e , that t h e c r o c o d i l e s , and, if n o t the z a n c u d o s , at least t h e m o s q u i t o s , generally shun the black waters. The people assert t o o , that these waters do not c o l o u r the r o c k s ; and t h a t the white rivers have black b o r d e r s , while the black rivers have white. I n fact, the shores o f the Guainia, k n o w n t o E u r o p e a n s b y the name o f the Rio N e g r o , frequently exhibit masses o f quartz issuing from granite, and o f a dazzling whiteness. T h e waters o f the Mataveni, when examined in a glass, are pretty w h i t e ; those o f the A t a b a p o retain a slight tinge o f y e l l o w i s h - b r o w n . W h e n the least breath o f wind agitates the surface o f these ‘black rivers’ they appear o f a fine grass-green, like the lakes o f Switzerland. I n the shade, the Z a m a , t h e A t a b a p o , and the Guainia, are as dark as coffee-grounds. These phenomena are so striking, that the Indians everywhere distinguish the waters by the t e r m s black and w h i t e . T h e f o r m e r have often served me for an artificial h o r i z o n ; they reflect the i m a g e o f the stars with admirable clearness. T h e colour of the waters o f springs, rivers, and lakes, ranks among those physical problems which it is difficult, if n o t impossible, to solve by direct, e x p e r i m e n t s . T h e tints o f reflected light are generally very different from t h e tints o f transmitted l i g h t ; particularly when the transmission takes place through a great portion of fluid. If there were n o absorption of rays, the transmitted light would be o f a c o l o u r c o r r e s p o n d i n g with that o f the reflected l i g h t ; and in general we judge imperfectly o f transmitted light, by filling with water a shallow glass with a narrow aperture. In a river, the c o l o u r o f the reflected light c o m e s t o u s always from the interior strata of the fluid, and n o t from the u p p e r stratum. Some celebrated naturalists, who have examined the purest waters o f the glaciers, and those which flow from mountains covered with perpetual snow, where the earth is destitute o f the relics o f vegetation, have t h o u g h t that the proper c o l o u r o f water might be blue, o r g r e e n . N o t h i n g , in fact, proves, that water is by nature w h i t e ; and wo must always admit the presence o f a c o l o u r i n g principle, w h e n water viewed by reduction is c o l o u r e d . I n the rivers that contain a c o l o u r i n g


SUPPOSED REASON OF THE COLOURS.

323

principle, that principle is generally so little in quantity, that it eludes all chemical research. T h e tints o f the ocean seem often t o depend neither o n the nature o f the b o t t o m , nor on the reflection o f the sky o n the c l o u d s . Sir H u m p h r e y D a v y was o f o p i n i o n that t h e tints o f different seas m a y very likely b e o w i n g t o different p r o p o r t i o n s o f iodine. O n consulting the geographers o f antiquity, w e find that the G r e e k s had noticed t h e blue waters of T h e r m o p y l Ì , t h e red waters o f J o p p a , a n d t h e black waters o f t h e hot-baths o f A s t y r a , o p p o s i t e L e s b o s . S o m e rivers, t h e R h o n e f o r instance, near G e n e v a , have a decidedly blue c o l o u r . I t is said, that the snow-waters o f the A l p s are s o m e t i m e s o f a dark emerald g r e e n . Several lakes o f Savoy a n d of P e r u M o s t o f these have a b r o w n c o l o u r approaching black. p h e n o m e n a of coloration are observed in waters that are believed t o b e t h e p u r e s t ; and it is rather from reasonings f o u n d e d o n analogy, than from any direct analysis, that w e may t h r o w any light o n so uncertain a matter. I n the vast system o f rivers near the m o u t h o f the Rio Zama, a fact which appears to m e remarkable is, that the black waters are principally restricted t o the equatorial r e g i o n s . T h e y begin a b o u t five degrees o f north l a t i t u d e ; and a b o u n d t h e n c e t o b e y o n d t h e equator as far as a b o u t t w o degrees of south latitude. T h e m o u t h o f t h e Rio N e g r o is indeed in the latitude o f 3° 9 ' ; b u t in this interval the black and white waters are s o s i n g u larly mingled in the forests and t h e savannahs, that w e k n o w not t o what cause the coloration m u s t b e attributed. T h e waters of the Cassiquiare, which fall into the Rio N e g r o , are as white as those of t h e O r i n o c o , from which it issues. O f t w o tributary streams of t h e Cassiquiare very near each o t h e r , t h e Siapa a n d t h e P a c i m o n y , o n e is w h i t e , the other black. W h e n the Indians are interrogated r e s p e c t i n g the causes o f these strange colorations, t h e y answer, as questions i n natural philosophy o r physiology are sometimes answered in E u r o p e , by repeating the fact in o t h e r t e r m s . I f y o u address y o u r s e l f t o the missionaries, they reply, as i f they had t h e m o s t c o n v i n c i n g proofs o f t h e fact, that " t h e waters are c o l o u r e d b y washing the r o o t s o f t h e sarsaparilla." T h e SmilaceÌ n o d o u b t a b o u n d o n the banks o f t h e Rio N e g r o , the P a c i m o n y , and the C a b a b u r y ; their r o o t s , macerated in Y 2


324

COLOUR AT THE TIME

OF

INUNDATIONS.

the water, yield an extractive matter, that is brown, bitter, and mucilaginous; but how many tufts of smilax h a v e seen in places, where the waters were entirely white. In the marshy forest which we traversed, to convey our canoe from the Rio Tuamini to the Caño Pimichin and the Rio Negro, why, in the same soil, did we ford alternately rivulets o f black and white water? W h y did we find n o river white near its springs, and black in the lower part o f its course? I know not whether the Rio Negro preserves its yellowish brown colour as far as its mouth, notwithstanding the great quantity of white water it receives from the Cassiquiare and the Rio Blanco. Although, o n account o f the abundance o f rain, vegetation is more vigorous close to the equator than eight or ten degrees north or south, it cannot be affirmed, that the rivers with black waters rise principally in the most shady and thickest forests. On the contrary, a great number of the aguas negras come from the open savannahs that extend from the Meta beyond the Guaviare towards the Caqueta. In a journey which I made with Señor Montufar from the port of Guayaquil to the Bodegas de Babaojo, at the period of the great inundations, I was struck by the analogy of colour displayed by the vast savannahs of the Invernadero del Garzal and of the Lagartero, as well as by the Rio Negro and the Atabapo. These savannahs, partly inundated during three months, are composed of paspalum, eriochloa, and several species of cyperacæ. W e sailed on waters that were from four to live feet deep; their temperature was by day from 33° 34° o f the centigrade thermometer; they exhaled a strong smell of sulphuretted hydrogen, to which no doubt some rotten plants of arum and heliconia, that swam on the surface of the pools, contributed. The waters of the Lagartero were o f a golden yellow by transmitted, and coffee-brown by reflected light. They are no doubt coloured by a carburet o f hydrogen. An analogous phenomenon is observed in the dunghill-waters prepared by our gardeners, and in the waters that issue from bogs. May we not also admit, that it is a mixture of carbon and hydrogen, an extractive vegetable matter, that colours the black rivers, the Atabapo, the Zama, the Mataveni, and the Guainia? The frequency of o f the equatorial rains contributes no doubt to this colora-


PREVALENCE OF THE PHENOMENON.

325

tion b y filtration through a thick mass o f grasses. I suggest these ideas only in the form of a d o u b t . T h e colouring principle seems t o b e in little a b u n d a n c e ; f o r I observed that the waters o f the G u a i n a o r Rio N e g r o , when subjected t o ebullition, do n o t b e c o m e b r o w n like o t h e r fluids charged with carburets o f h y d r o g e n . I t is also very remarkable, that this p h e n o m e n o n o f black waters, which might b o supposed t o b e l o n g only t o the low regions o f the torrid zone, is found also, t h o u g h rarely, o n the table-lands o f the A n d e s . T h e t o w n o f C u e n c a in the k i n g d o m o f Q u i t o , is surrounded b y three small rivers, the M a c h a n g a r a , the Rio del Matadero, and the Y a n u n c a i ; o f which the t w o former are white, and the waters o f the last are black (aguas n e g r a s ) . T h e s e waters, like those o f t h e A t a b a p o , are o f a coffee-colour b y reflection, and pale y e l l o w by transmission. T h e y are very clear, and the inhabitants o f C u e n c a , w h o drink t h e m in preference t o any other, attrib u t e their c o l o u r t o the sarsaparilla, which it is said g r o w s abundantly on the banks o f the Rio Yanunรงai. W e left the m o u t h o f the Z a m a at five in the m o r n i n g o f the 23rd o f A p r i l . T h e river c o n t i n u e d t o b e skirted o n both sides b y a thick forest. T h e mountains o n t h e east seemed gradually t o retire farther b a c k . W e passed first the m o u t h o f the R i o M a t a v e n i , and afterward an islet o f a very singular form ; a square granitic rock that rises in the middle o f the water. I t is called b y t h e missionaries E l Castillito, o r the L i t t l e Castle. Black bands seem t o indicate, that the highest swellings o f the O r i n o c o d o n o t rise at this place above eight f e e t ; and that the great swellings observed lower d o w n are o w i n g t o the tributary streams which flow i n t o it north o f the raudales o f A t u r e s and M a y pures. W e passed the night o n the right bank opposite t h e mouth o f the R i o Siucurivapu, near a r o c k called A r i c a g u a . D u r i n g the night an innumerable quantity o f bats issued from the clefts o f the r o c k , and hovered around o u r h a m mocks. O n the 24th a violent rain obliged us early t o return to o u r boat. W e departed at t w o o ' c l o c k , after having lost s o m e books, which we c o u l d n o t find in the darkness o f the n i g h t , on the rock o f Aricagua. T h e river runs straight from south to north ; its banks are l o w , and shaded o n b o t h sides


326

ARRIVAL AT SAN FERNANDO.

by thick forests. We passed the mouths of the Ucata, the Arapa, and the Caranaveni. About four in the afternoon we landed at the Conucos de Siquita, the Indian plantations of the mission of San Fernando. The good people wished to detain us among them, but we continued to go up against the current, which ran at the rate of live feet a second, according to a measurement I made by observing the time that afloatingbody took to go down a given distance. W e entered the mouth of the Guaviare on a dark night, passed the point where the Rio Atabapo joins the Guaviare, and arrived at the mission after midnight. We were lodged as usual at the Convent, that is, in the house of the missionary, who, though much surprised at our unexpected visit, nevertheless received us with the kindest hospitality.

NOTE. If, in the philosophical study of the structure of languages, the analogy of a few roots acquires value only when they can be geographically connected together, neither is the want of resemblance in roots any very strong proof against the common origin of nations. In the different dialects of the Totonac language (that of one of the most ancient tribes of Mexico) the sun and the moon have names which custom has rendered entirely different. This difference is found among the Caribs between the language of men and women; a phenomenon that probably arises from the circumstance that, among prisoners, men were oftener put to death than women. Females introduced by degrees words of a foreign language into the Caribbee; and, as the girls followed the occupations of the women much more than the boys, a language was formed peculiar to the women. I shall record in this note the names of the sun and moon in a great number of American and Asiatic idioms, again reminding the reader of the uncertainty of all judgments founded merely on the comparison of solitary words. IN

THE

NEW

WORLD.

SUN.

Eastern Esquimaux (Greenland ) Western Esquimaux (Kadjak)

Ajut, kaumat, sakanach Tschingugak, madschak

MOON.

Anningat, kaumei, tatcok Igaluk, tangeik


327

NAMES OF THE SUN AND MOON.

MOON.

SUN.

Ojibbeway Delaware Nootka Otomi Aztec or Mexican Cora Huasteca Muysca Yaruro Caribbee and Tamanac

Kissis Natatane Opulszthl Hindi Tonatiuh Taica Aquicha Zuhè (sua) Veïou (hueiou)

Maypure Lule Vilela Moxo Chiquito Guarani Tupi (Brasil) Peruvian (Quichua) Araucan (Chili)

Kiè Inni Olo Sachi Suus Quarasi Coaracy Inti Antu

Debicot Keyshocof Omulszthl Zana Meztli Maitsaca Aytz Chia Goppe Nouno (nonum) Kejapi Allit Copi Cohe Copi Jasi Iacy Quilla Cuyen.

IN THE OLD WORLD.

MOON.

SUN. Mongol Mantchou Tschaghatai Ossête (of Caucasus) Tibetan Chinese Japanese Sanscrit Persian Zend Pehlvi Phœnician Hebrew Aramean or Chaldean Syrian Arabic Ethiopian

Naia (naran) Choun Koun Khourr Niyma Jy Fi Surya, aryama, mitra, aditya, arka, hamsa Chor, chorschid, afitab Houere Schemschia, zabzoba, kokma Schemesih Schemesch Schimscha Schemscho Schams Tzahay

Sara (saran) Bia

Ay Mai Rdjawa Yue Tsouki Tschandra, tschandrama, soma, masi Mah

Kokma

Yarea Yarha Yarho Kаmar Warha


328

MIGRATION

OK

THE

ROOTS

OF

WOODS.

The American words arc written according to the Spanish orthography I would not change the orthography of the Nootka word onulszth, taken from Cook's Voyages, to show how much Volney's idea of introducing an uniform notation o f sounds is worthy of attention, if not applied to the languages of the East written without vowels. In Onulszth there a r e tour signs for one single consonant. We have already seen that American nations, speaking languages of a very different structure, call the sun by the same name ; that the moon is sometimes called sleeping sun, sun of night, light of night ; and that sometimes the two orbs have the same denomination. These examples are taken from the Guarany, the Omagna, Shawanese, Miami, Maco, and Ojibbeway idioms. Thus in the Old World, the sun and moon are denoted in Arabic by niryn, ' t h e luminaries;' thus, in Persian, the most common words, aĂ&#x;/ab and rhorschid, are compounds. By the migration of tribes from Asia to America, and from America to Asia, a certain number of roots have passed from one language into others ; and these roots have been transported, like the fragments of a shipwreck, far from the coast, into the islands. (Sun, in New England, kone; in Tschagatai, koun; in Yakout, kouini. Star, in Huastee, ot; in Mongol, oddon ; in Aztec, citlal, citl; in Persian, sitareh. House, in Aztec, calli . in Wogoul, kualla or kolla. Water, in Aztec, atel (itets, a river, in Vilela) ; in Mongol, Tscheremiss, and Tschouvass, atl, atelch, etet, or idel. Stone, in Caribbee, tebou ; in in Turkish, tepe. Food, the Lesgian of Caucasus, teb ; in Aztec, tepetl; in Quichua, micunnan ; in Malay, macannon. Boat, in Haytian, canoa ; in Ayno, cahani; in Greenlandish, kayak; in Turkish, kayik; in Samoyiede, kayouk ; in the Germanic tongues, kahn.) But we must distinguish from these foreign elements what belongs fundamentally to the American idioms themselves. Such is the effect of time, and communication among nations, that the mixture with an heterogenous language has not only an influence upon roots, but most frequently ends by modifying and denaturalizing grammatical forms. " When a language resists a regular analysis," observes William von Humboldt, in his considerations on the Mexican, Cora, Totonac, and Tarahumar tongues, " w e may suspect some mixture, some foreign influence ; for the faculties of man, which are, as we may say, reflected in the structure of languages, and in their grammatical forms, act constantly in a regular and uniform manner."


VOYAGE ON THE ATABAPO.

CHAPTER San

Fernando de Atabapo. — San

329

XXII.

Balthasar. — The rivers Temi and

Tuamini. — Javita. — Portage from the Tuamini to the Rio Negro.

D U R I N G t h e n i g h t , w e had left, almost unperceived, t h e waters o f the O r i n o c o ; and at sunrise found ourselves as if transported t o a n e w c o u n t r y , on the banks of a river t h e name of which w e had scarcely ever heard p r o n o u n c e d , and which was t o c o n d u c t us, by the portage o f P i m i c h i n , t o t h e Rio N e g r o , on t h e frontiers of Brazil. " Y o u will g o u p , " said the president of t h e missions, w h o resides at San Fernando, " f i r s t the A t a b a p o , t h e n t h e T e m i , a n d finally, the Tuamini. W h e n t h e force of the current of ' b l a c k w a t e r s ' hinders y o u from advancing, Y O U will be c o n d u c t e d o u t of the b e d of the river t h r o u g h forests, w h i c h y o u will find inundated. T w o m o n k s only are settled in those desert places, between t h e O r i n o c o and t h e B i o N e g r o ; b u t at Javita y o u will b e furnished with t h e means of having y o u r c a n o e drawn o v e r land i n t h e c o u r s e of f o u r days t o C a ñ o Pimichin. I f it b e n o t b r o k e n t o pieces y o u will d e s c e n d the Rio N e g r o w i t h o u t any obstacle (from north-west t o south-east) as far as the little fort o f San C a r l o s ; y o u will go u p the Cassiquiare ( f r o m south t o n o r t h ) , a n d t h e n return t o San Fernando in a m o n t h , descending the U p p e r O r i n o c o from east t o w e s t . " Such was t h e plan traced for o u r passage, a n d w o carried it i n t o effect w i t h o u t danger, t h o u g h not w i t h o u t s o m e suffering, in the space o f t h i r t y three days. T h e O r i n o c o runs from its s o u r c e , o r at least from Esmeralda, as far as San F e r n a n d o de A t a b a p o . from east t o w e s t ; from San F e r n a n d o , ( w h e r e t h e j u n c t i o n o f t h e Guaviare and the A t a b a p o takes p l a c e , ) as far as t h e m o u t h o f the Rio A p u r e , it flows f r o m south to north, forming the G r e a t C a t a r a c t s ; and from t h e m o u t h of t h e A p u r e as far as A n g o s t u r a and the coast of the A t l a n t i c its direction is from west t o east. In the first part of its c o u r s e , where the river flows from east t o w e s t , it forms that celebrated bifurcation so often d i s p u t e d by geographers, of which I was the first enabled t o d e t e r m i n e t h e situation b y


330

SAN FERNANDO DE ATABAPO.

astronomical observations. O n e arm o f the O r i n o c o , ( t h e Cassiquiare.) running from north t o south, falls into t h e Guainia, or Rio N e g r o , which, in its turn, joins the Mara単on, o r river A m a z o n . T h e m o s t natural way, therefore, t o g o from A n g o s t u r a to Grand Para, would be to ascend the O r i n o c o as far as Fsmeralda, and then to go down the Cassiquiare, the R i o N e g r o , and the A m a z o n ; b u t , as tho R i o N e g r o in the upper part o f its course approaches very near t h e sources o f s o m e rivers that fall into the O r i n o c o near San Fernando de Atabapo (where the O r i n o c o abruptly changes its direction from east t o west t o take that from south to n o r t h ) , the passage up that part o f the river b e t w e e n San Fernando and Fsmeralda, in order to reach the R i o N e g r o , may b e avoided. L e a v i n g the O r i n o c o near the mission o f San Fernando, the traveller proceeds up the little black rivers (the Atabapo, the T e m i , and the T u a m i n i ) , and the boats are carried across an isthmus six thousand toises broad, to the banks o f a stream ( t h e C a 単 o P i m i c h i n ) which flows into the R i o N e g r o . This was the course which wo took. T h e road from San Carlos to San Fernando de A t a b a p o is far more disagreeable, and is half as long again b y the Cassiquiare as by Javita and the Ca単o Pumichin. In this region I determined, by means o f a c h r o n o m e t e r by Berthoud, and by the meridional heights o f stars, the situation o f San Balthasar de Atabapo, Javita, San Carlos del R i o N e g r o , the rock Culimacavi, and Esmeralda. When no roads exist save tortuous and intertwining rivers, when little villages are hidden amid thick forests, and when, in a c o u n t r y entirely flat, n o m o u n t a i n , n o elevated object i s visible from t w o points at o n c e , it is only in the sky that w o CAN read where we are Upon the earth. San Fernando de Atabapo stands near the confluence o f three great r i v e r s ; the O r i n o c o , the Guaviare, and t h o Atabapo. Its situation is similar to that o f Saint Louis or o f New Madrid, at the junction of the Mississippi with the Missouri and the O h i o . In proportion as the activity o f c o m m e r c e increases In these countries traversed by immense rivers, the towns situated at their confluence will necessarily become bustling ports, depots o f merchandise, and centre points o f civilization. Father G u m i l l a confesses, that in


GEOGRAPHICAL

ERRORS.

331

his time n o person had any k n o w l e d g e o f the course o f the O r i n o c o above the mouth o f the Guaviare. D ' A n v i l l e , in the first edition o f his great map o f S o u t h A m e r i c a , laid down the Rio N e g r o as an arm o f the O r i n o c o , that branched off from the principal body o f the river b e t w e e n the m o u t h s o f the M e t a and the Vichada, near the cataract o f A t u r e s . That great g e o g r a p h e r was entirely ignorant o f t h e existence o f the Cassiquiare and t h e A t a b a p o ; and he makes the O r i n o c o o r Rio Paragua, the Japura, and t h e P u t u m a y o , take their rise from three branchings o f t h e Caqueta. The expedition o f t h e boundaries, c o m m a n d e d b y Iturriaga and Solano, corrected these errors. Solano, w h o was the geographical engineer o f this expedition, advanced in 1 7 5 0 as far as the m o u t h o f the Guaviare, after having passed the G r e a t Cataracts. He found that, t o c o n t i n u e t o g o u p the O r i n o c o , he m u s t direct his c o u r s e towards the e a s t ; and that the river received, at the p o i n t o f its great inflection, in latitude 4째 4', the waters o f the Guaviare, which t w o miles higher had received those o f the Atabapo. I n t e r e s t e d in a p p r o a c h i n g the P o r t u g u e s e possessions as near as possible, Solano resolved to p r o c e e d o n w a r d t o the south. A t t h e confluence o f t h e A t a b a p o and the Guaviare he f o u n d an I n d i a n settlement o f t h e warlike nation o f the G u a y p u n a v e s . H e gained their favour by presents, and with their aid founded the mission o f San Fernando, to which he gave the appellation o f villa, o r town. T o make k n o w n the political i m p o r t a n c e o f this M i s s i o n , w e must recollect what was at that period the balance o f p o w e r between the petty Indian tribes o f Guiana. The hanks o f the L o w e r O r i n o c o had b e e n l o n g ensanguined b y the obstinate struggle b e t w e e n t w o powerful nations, the Cabres and t h e Caribs. T h e latter, w h o s e principal a b o d e since the close o f the seventeenth c e n t u r y has b e e n between the sources o f the C a r o n y , the E s s e q u i b o , the O r i n o c o , and the Rio Parima, o n c e n o t only held sway as far as the G r e a t Cataracts, b u t made incursions also i n t o tho U p p e r O r i n o c o , e m p l o y i n g p o r t a g e s b e t w e e n tho P a ruspa* and the Caura, tho Erevato and tho V e n t u a r i , t h e * The Rio Paruspa falls into the Rio Paragua, and the latter into the Rio Carony, wich is one of the tributary streams of the Lower O r i n o c o .


332

MIGRATION OF THE CARIES.

C o n o r i c h i t e and the Atacavi. N o n e knew better than the Caribs the intertwinings o f the rivers, the proximity o f the tributary streams, and the roads by which distances might bo diminished. T h e Caribs had vanquished and almost exterminated the Cabres. Having made t h e m selves masters o f the L o w e r O r i n o c o , they m e t with res i s t a n t ' from the Guaypunaves, who had founded their dominion on the Upper O r i n o c o ; and who, t o g e t h e r with the Cabres, the Manitivitanos, and the Parents, are tho greatest cannibals o f these countries. They originally inhabited the banks o f the great river Inirida, at its confluence with the Chamochiquini, and the hilly c o u n t r y o f M a b i c o r e . A b o u t the year 1744, their chief, or as the natives call him, their king ( a p o t o ) , was named Macapu. He was a man no less distinguished by his intelligence than his v a l o u r ; had led a part o f the nation to the banks of the A t a b a p o ; and when t h e . Jesuit Roman made his memorable expedition from the O r i n o c o to the Rio N e g r o , Macapu suffered that missionary to take with him some families o f the Guaypunaves t o settle t h e m at U r u a n a , and near the cataract o f M a y p u r e s . This p e o p l e are c o n n e c t e d b y their language with the great branch o f the M a y p u r e nations. They are more industrious, we might also say more civilized, than the other nations o f the Upper O r i n o c o . T h e missionaries relate, that the Guaypunaves, at the time o f their sway in those countries, were generally clothed, and had c o n siderable villages. A f t e r the death o f Macapu, the c o m mand devolved on another warrior, Cuseru, called by tho Spaniard El capitan Cusero. He established lines of d e fence o n the banks o f the Inirida, with a kind o f little fort, constructed o f earth and limber. T h e piles were more than sixteen feet high, and surrounded both the house o f the apoto and a magazine o f b o w s a n d arrows. T h e s e structures, There is also an ancient portage of the Caribs between the Paruspa and the Rio Chavaro, which flows into the Rio Caura above the mouth of the Erevato. In going up the Erevato you reach the savannahs that are traversed by the Rio Manipiare above the tributary streams of the Ventuari. The Caribs in their distant excursions sometimes passed from the Rio Caura to the Ventuari, thence to the Padamo, and then by the Upper Orinoco to the Atacavi, which, westward of Manuteso, takes the name of the Atabapo.


THE CHIEF COCUY.

333

remarkable in a c o u n t r y in other respects so wild, have been described by Father Forneri. T h e Marepizanas and the Manitivitanos w e r e the p r e ponderant nations o n t h e banks o f t h e Rio N e g r o . The former had for its chiefs, about the year 1 7 5 0 , t w o warriors called I m u and Cajamu. T h e k i n g o f the Manitivitanos was C o c u y , famous for his cruelty. T h e chiefs o f t h e G u a y p u n a v e s and the Manitivitanos f o u g h t with small bodies of t w o or three hundred m e n ; b u t in their p r o tracted struggles they destroyed the missions, in s o m e o f which the p o o r m o n k s had only fifteen o r t w e n t y Spanish soldiers at their disposal. W h e n the expedition o f I t u r riaga and Solano arrived at the O r i n o c o , the missions had n o l o n g e r t o fear the incursions o f the Caribs. Cuseru, the chief o f the G u a y p u n a v e s , had fixed his dwelling behind the granitic mountains of Sipapo. He was the friend o f the J e s u i t s ; but other nations of the Upper O r i n o c o and the Rio N e g r o , led b y I m u , Cajamu, and C o c u y , penetrated from time t o time t o the north o f the G r e a t Cataracts. They had other motives for lighting than that of h a t r e d ; they hunted men, as was formerly the custom of the Caribs, a n d is still the practice in Africa. Sometimes they furnished slaves (poitos) to the Dutch (in their language, Paranaquiri—inhabitants o f the sea) ; sometimes t h e y sold them to the Portuguese ( I a r a n a v i — s o n s of m u s i c i a n s ) . * I n A m e r i c a , as in Africa, the cupidity o f the E u r o p e a n s has p r o d u c e d the same evils, b y exciting the natives t o make war, in order t o p r o c u r e slaves. E v e r y w h e r e the contact of nations, widely different from each other in the scale of civilization, leads to the abuse of physical strength, and of intellectual preponderance. T h e Phœnicians and Carthaginians formerly sought slaves in E u r o p e . Europe now presses in her turn both on the countries w h e n c e she gathered the first g e r m s o f science, and o n those where she now almost involuntarily spreads t h e m by carrying thither the produce of her industry. I have faithfully

recorded

what I c o u l d collect on

the

* The savage tribes designate every commercial nation of Europe by surnames, the origin of which appears altogether accidental. The Spaniards were called ' c l o t h e d men,' Pongheme or Uavemi, by way o f distinction.


334

THE CHIEF CUSERU.

state o f these countries, where the vanquished nations have b e c o m e gradually extinct, leaving n o other signs o f their existence than a few words o f their language, mixed with that o f t h e c o n q u e r o r s . I n t h e north, b e y o n d the cataracts, the preponderant nations were at first the Caribs and the C a b r e s ; towards the south, o n the U p p e r O r i n o c o , the G u a y p u n a v e s ; and o n the R i o N e g r o , the Marepizanos and t h e Manitivitanos. T h e l o n g resistance which t h e Cabres, united under a valiant chief, had made to the Caribs, b e c a m e fatal t o the latter subsequently t o the year 1720. T h e y at first vanquished their enemies near the mouth of the R i o C a u r a ; a n d a great n u m b e r o f Caribs perished in a precipitate flight, b e t w e e n the rapids o f T o r n o and the Isla del Infierno. T h e prisoners were d e v o u r e d ; and, b y o n e o f those refinements o f c u n n i n g and cruelty which are c o m m o n t o t h e savage nations o f both N o r t h and South A m e r i c a , the Cabres spared the life o f o n e Carib, w h o m they forced to c l i m b up a free to witness this barbarous spectacle, and carry back the tidings to the vanquished. T h o triumph o f T o p , the chief o f the Cabres, was but o f short duration. T h e Caribs returned in such great n u m b e r s that o n l y a feeble; remnant o f the C a b r e s was left o n the banks of the C u c h i v e r o . C o c u y and C u s e r u w e r e carrying o n a war o f extermination o n the U p p e r O r i n o c o when Solano arrived at the m o u t h o f the Guaviare. T h e former bad embraced the cause o f the P o r t u g u e s e ; the latter was a friend o f the Jesuits, and gave them warning whenever the Manitivitanos were m a r c h i n g against the christian establishments o f A t u r e s and Carichana. C u s e r u b e c a m e a christian only a few days before his death ; but in battle he had for s o m e t i m e worn o n his left hip a crucifix, given him by the missionaries, and which ho believed rendered him invulnerable. "We were told an anecdote that paints the violence o f his character. He had married the daughter o f an Indian chief o f the R i o T e n d . In a paroxysm o f rage against his fatherin-law, he declared to his wife that he was g o i n g to fight against him. She reminded him o f the courage and singular strength o f her f a t h e r ; when C u s e r u , w i t h o u t u t t e r i n g a single w o r d , t o o k a poisoned arrow, a n d plunged it into her b o s o m . T h e arrival o f a small b o d y o f Spaniards in


EXPEDITION OF SOLANO.

335

1 7 5 6 , u n d e r the order o f Solano, awakened suspicion in this chief o f t h e G u a y p u n a v e s . H e was on the p o i n t o f a t t e m p t i n g a c o n t e s t with t h e m , w h e n the Jesuits made him sensible that it w o u l d be his interest t o remain at peace with the Christians. Whilst dining at the table o f the Spanish general, C u s e r u was allured by promises, and t h e prediction o f the approaching fall o f his enemies. From b e i n g a king he b e c a m e the m a y o r o f a v i l l a g e ; and c o n sented t o settle with his p e o p l e at the n e w mission o f San F e r n a n d o de A t a b a p o . Such is m o s t frequently the end o f those chiefs w h o m travellers and missionaries stylo Indian princes. " I n m y m i s s i o n , " says the honest father Gili, "I had five reyecillos, o r p e t t y kings, those o f the Tamanacs, the A v a r i g o t e s , t h e Parecas, t h e Quaquas, a n d the M a y p u r e s . A t church I placed them in file o n t h e same b e n c h ; but I t o o k care t o give the first place t o M o n a i t i , k i n g o f the Tamanacs, because he had helped m e t o f o u n d the v i l l a g e ; and ho seemed quite p r o u d o f this p r e c e dency. W h e n C u s e r u , t h e c h i e f o f t h e G u a y p u n a v e s , saw the Spanish t r o o p s pass the cataracts, he advised D o n J o s o Solano to wait a whole year before he formed a settlement o n the A t a b a p o ; predicting the misfortunes which were n o t slow to arrive. " L e t me labour with m y p e o p l e in clearing the g r o u n d , " said Cuseru t o the Jesuits ;' I will plant cassava, and y o u will find hereafter wherewith t o feed all these men." Solano, impatient t o advance, refused t o listen t o the counsel o f the Indian chief, and the n o w inhabitants o f San F e r n a n d o had to suffer all the evils o f scarcity. Canoes w e r e sent at a great expense t o N e w G r e n a d a , b y the M e t a and the Vichada, in search o f Hour. T h e provision arrived t o o late, and many Spaniards and Indians perished o f those diseases which are p r o d u c e d in every climate by want and moral dejection. S o m e traces o f cultivation are still found at San F e r n a n d o . Every Indian has a small plantation o f cacao-trees, which p r o d u c e abundantly in the fifth y e a r ; but they cease t o bear fruit sooner than in the valleys o f A r a g u a . T h e r e are s o m e savannahs and g o o d pasturage r o u n d San F e r n a n d o , b u t hardly seven or eight c o w s are to be found, the remains o f a considerable herd which was b r o u g h t into these countries at


336

THE

PIRITU

PALM-TREE.

the expedition for settling the boundaries. T h e Indians a. a little more civilized here than in the rest, of the missions ; and we found to our surprise a blacksmith o f the native race. I n the mission o f San Fernando, a tree which gives a p e c u liar physiognomy to the landscape, is the piritu or pirijao palm. I t s trunk, armed with thorns, is more than sixty feet h i g h ; its leaves are pinnated, very thin, undulated", and frizzled towards t h e p o i n t s . T h e fruits o f this tree are very e x t r a o r d i n a r y ; every (duster contains from fifty to e i g h t y ; they are yellow like apples, g r o w purple in proportion as they ripen, t w o o r three inches thick, and generally, from abortion, without a kernel. A m o n g the eighty or ninety species o f palm-trees peculiar to the New C o n t i n e n t , which I have enumerated in the ' N o v a G e n e r a Plantarum Ìquinoctialium there are none in which the sarcocarp is developed in a manner so extraordinary. T h e fruit o f the pirijao furnishes a farinaceous substance, as yellow as the yolk o f an e g g , slightly saccharine, and extremely nutritious. It is eaten like plantains or potatoes, boiled or roasted in the ashes, and affords a wholesome and agreeable aliment. The Indians and the missionaries are unwearied in their praises o f this noble palm-tree, which might be called the peachpalm. W e found it cultivated in .abundance at San Fernando, San Balthasar, Santa Barbara, and wherever w e advanced towards the south or the east along the banks o f the A t a b a p o and the Upper O r i n o c o . In those wild regions we are involuntarily reminded o f the assertion of LinnÌus, that the country o f palm-trees was the first abode o f o u r species, and that man is essentially palmivorous.* On examining the provision accumulated in the huts o f the Indians, we perceive that their subsistence during several months o f the year depends as much on the farinaceous fruit o f the pirijao, as on the cassava and plantain. T h e tree bears fruit but once a year, but to the amount o f three clusters, consequently from o n e hundred and fifty to two hundred fruits. * Homo habitat intra tropicos, vescitur palmis, lotophagus; hospitatur extra tropicos sub novercante Cerere, carnivorus. — "Man dwells natu. rally within the tropics, and lives on the fruits of the palm-tree ; he exists in other parts of the world, and there makes shift to feed on corn and flesh." (Syst. Nat., vol. i, p. 24.)


RELIGIOUS

337

INCURSIONS.

San F e r n a n d o d e A t a b a p o , S a n C a r l o s , a n d S a n F r a n c i s c o S o l a n o , art; t h e m o s t

considerable

missions of the U p p e r Orinoco. as in t h e n e i g h b o u r i n g

settlements

villages o f S a n Balthasar a n d J a v i t a ,

t h e a b o d e s of the priests are neatly-built lianas, a n d s u r r o u n d e d b y g a r d e n s . pirijao p a l m s were t h e m o s t g a v e u s an a n i m a t e d Guaviare.

He

undertaken

to

in t h e m .

Under

w h o have d e s e r t e d of

years

us

how much

bapo, and on t h e western

I took

poitos.

declivity

I w a s a s s u r e d also b y s o m e

Guaviare

of the

San Fernando

los

the

A c c o r d i n g to the

t h e distance is o n e

o f t h e provinces

confluence

or ten

among the

of t h e Cordillera

de la suma Paz,

first villages

the

neophytes

o n t h e b a n k s of t h e A t a -

h u n d r e d and seven l e a g u e s only from

to t h e w e s t

journeys,

a b o v e eight

off, a n d d i s t r i b u t e d

observations

Llanos.

these

A l l , e v e n w o m e n a n d old m e n , t a k e

I n d i a n s o f t h e missions as serfs, or

formerly

mission

o n t h e Rio

s o u l s , " are desired b y t h e

the village, children

A n d e s , n e a r t h e Paramo

of these

the

t h e p r e t e x t of recovering

a g e a r e carried

astronomical

of

o f his i n c u r s i o n s

" f o r t h e c o n q u e s t of

I n d i a n s of t h e m i s s i o n s . part

ornaments

t h e president

account

related

houses, covered by

T h e tall t r u n k s o f t h e

beautiful

I n our walks,

plantations.

among the

A t S a n F e r n a n d o , as w e l l

of Caguan

to the

and San J u a n de

Indians, who dwelt

o f t h e island o f A m a n a v e n i ,

o f the Rio Supavi,

beyond

t h a t g o i n g in a boat o n

(in t h e m a n n e r o f t h e s a v a g e s )

s t r a i t ( a n g o s t u r a ) a n d t h e principal

cataract,

beyond they

the

m e t , at

t h r e e d a y s ' d i s t a n c e , bearded a n d clothed m e n , w h o c a m e in standi

of the eggs

alarmed

the Indians

redescending

of the terekay

the Guaviare.

bearded white

men came

It

from

S a n M a r t i n , t h e Rio G u a v i a r e the

rivers A r i a r i

turtle.

so m u c h , that they is

This

fled

probable,

t h e villages

meeting

precipitately, that

of Aroma

these and

b e i n g f o r m e d b y t h e union of

and G u a y a v e r o .

W e must

n o t be sur-

prised that the missionaries o f t h e O r i n o c o and t h e A t a b a p o little

suspect

h o w near

they

live

M o c o a , Rio F r a g u a , a n d C a g u a n . t h e real the data,

distances

longitude. and

the A n d e s , vol.

II.

of

that

these

can b e k n o w n o n l y I t was

a n d t h e information

Popayan

t o t h e missionaries

In

Pasto,

in I

by

consequence gathered

to t h e west

of

desert c o u n t r i e s , observations of

of

astronomical

in t h e c o n v e n t s of of

the Cordillera

of

1 formed an a c c u r a t e ideaideaoft h e respective

z


338

THE RIO ATABAPО.

situations o f the christian settlements on the A t a b a p o , t h e G u a y a v e r o , and the Caqueta.* Everything changes on entering the Rio A t a b a p o ; t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n o f t h e atmosphere, t h e c o l o u r o f the waters, and the form o f the trees that cover the shore. Y o u no longer suffer during the day the t o r m e n t o f m o s q u i t o s ; and the l o n g ­ Be­ legged gnats (zancudos) become rare during the night. y o n d the mission o f San Fernando these nocturnal insects disappear altogether. T h e water o f the O r i n o c o is turbid, and loaded with earthy m a t t e r ; and in the coves, from the accumulation o f d e a d crocodiles and other putrescent s u b ­ stances, it diffuses a musky and faint smell. W e were s o m e ­ times obliged to strain this water through a linen cloth b e f o r e we drank it. T h e w a t e r of the Atabapo. on the contrary, is pure, agreeable to the t a s t e , without any trace o f smell, b r o w n ­ ish by reflected, and o f a pale yellow by transmitted light. T h e people call it light, in opposition to the heavy and turbid waters o f the O r i n o c o . Its temperature is generally t w o degrees, and when you approach the mouth o f the Rio T e m i , three degrees, c o o l e r than the temperature o f the U p p e r Orinoco. After having been compelled during a whole year t o drink water at '27° o r 28°, a lowering o f a few degrees in the temperature produces a very agreeable sensation. I think this lowering o f the temperature may be attributed to the river being less broad, and without the sandy beach, the heat o f which, at the O r i n o c o , is by day more than 5 0 ° , and also to the thick shade o f the forests which are traversed b y the A t a b a p o , the T e m i , the T u a m i n i , and the Guainia, o r Rio N e g r o . T h e extremo purity o f the black waters is proved by their limpidity, their transparency, and the clearness with which they reflect the images and colours o f surrounding objects. T h e smallest fish are visible in them at a depth o f twenty or thirty f e e t ; and most c o m m o n l y the b o t t o m o f the river may be distinguished, which is not a yellowish or brownish mud, like the c o l o u r o f the wafer, but a quartzose and granitic sand o f dazzling whiteness. N o t h i n g can be c o m ­ pared to the beauty o f the banks o f the A t a b a p o . Loaded with plants, a m o n g which rise the palms with feathery leaves; the banks are reflected in the waters, and this * The Caqueta bears, lower down, the name of the Yupurà.


GEOGRAPHICAL DOUBTS.

339

reflex verdure seems to have the same vivid hue as that which clothes t h e real vegetation. T h e surface o f the fluid is h o m o g e n e o u s , s m o o t h , and destitute o f that m i x t u r e o f suspended sand and d e c o m p o s e d organic matter, which roughens and streaks the surface of less limpid rivers. O n quitting the O r i n o c o , several small rapids must he passed, but w i t h o u t any appearance o f danger. A m i d these raudalitos, according to the opinion o f the missionaries, the Rio A t a b a p o falls into the O r i n o c o . I am however disposed t o think that the A t a b a p o falls into the Guaviare. T h e Rio Guaviare, which is m u c h wider than the A t a b a p o , has white waters, and in t h e aspect o f its banks, its fishing-birds, its fish, and the great crocodiles which live in it, resembles the O r i n o c o m u c h m o r e than that part o f the A t a b a p o which c o m e s from the Esmeralda, W h e n a river springs from the j u n c t i o n o f t w o other rivers, nearly alike in size, it is difficult t o j u d g e which o f the t w o confluent streams must be r e garded as its s o u r c e . T h e Indians o f San F e r n a n d o affirm that the O r i n o c o rises from t w o rivers, the Guaviare and the K i o Paragua. They give this latter name to t h e U p p e r O r i n o c o , from San F e r n a n d o and Santa Barbara to b e y o n d t h e Esmeralda, and they say that the Cassiquiare is n o t an arm o f the O r i n o c o , b u t o f the Rio Paragua. It matters b u t little whether o r n o t the name o f O r i n o c o b e given t o the K i o Paragua, provided w e trace t h e course o f these rivers as it is in nature, and d o n o t separate by a chain o f m o u n tains, (as was d o n e previously t o m y travels,) rivers that c o m m u n i c a t e t o g e t h e r , and form one system. W h e n we would give the name o f a large river t o o n e o f t h e t w o branches by which if is formed, if should be applied t o that branch which furnishes m o s t water. N o w , at the t w o seasons o f the year when I saw the Guaviare and the U p p e r O r i n o c o or Rio Paragua ( b e t w e e n the Esmeralda and San F e r n a n d o ) , it appeared to me that the latter was n o t so large as the Guaviare. Similar d o u b t s have been entertained by geographers respecting the j u n c t i o n o f t h e U p p e r Mississippi with the Missouri and the O h i o , t h e j u n c t i o n of the Mara単on with the Guallaga and the U c a yale, and the j u n c t i o n o f the I n d u s with the C h u n a b ( H y d a s p e s o f C a s h m e r e ) and the Gurra, o r S u t l e j . * To * The Hydaspes is properly a tributary stream of the Chunab or z 2


340

VARIETIES OF WATER.

avoid embroiling farther a nomenclature o f rivers so arbitrarily fixed, I will not propose new denominations. I shall c o n t i n u e , with Father Caulin and the Spanish geographers, to call the river Esmeralda the Orinoco, or Upper Orinoco ; but I must observe that if the O r i n o c o , from San Fernando de Atabapo as far as the delta which it forms o p p o s i t e t h e island o f T r i n i d a d , w e r e regarded as the c o n t i n u a n c e o f the Rio G u a v i a r e ; and if that part o f the Upper O r i n o c o between the Esmeralda and the mission o f San Fernando were considered a tributary s t r e a m ; the O r i n o c o w o u l d preserve, from the savannahs o f San Juan de los Llanos and the eastern declivity o f the A n d e s to its mouth, a more uniform and natural direction, that from south-west t o north-east. The Rio Piragua, or that part of the O r i n o c o east o f the mouth of the Guaviare, has clearer, more transparent, and purer water than the part o f the O r i n o c o below San Fernando. The waters of the Guaviare, on the contrary, are white and t u r b i d ; they have the same taste, a c c o r d i n g to the Indians, (whose organs o f sense are extremely delicate and well practised.) as the waters o f the O r i n o c o near the Great Cataracts. " Bring me the waters o f three or four great rivers of these c o u n t r i e s , " an old Indian o f the mission o f Javita said t o u s ; " o n tasting each o f them I will tell y o u , without fear o f mistake, whence it was t a k e n ; whether it comes from a white or black river; the O r i n o c o or the Atabapo, the Paragua or the G u a v i a r e . " The great crocodiles and porpoises ( t o n i n a s ) which are alike c o m m o n in the Rio Guaviare and the L o w e r O r i n o c o , are entirely wanting, as we were told, in the Rio Paragua ( o r Upper O r i n o c o , between San Fernando and the Esmeralda). T h e s e are very remarkable differences in the nature o f the waters, and the distribution o f animals. T h e Indians do not fail to mention them, when they would prove to travellers that the U p p e r O r i n o c o , to the east, o f San Fernando, is a distinct river which falls into the O r i n o c o , and that the real origin o f the latter must be sought in the sources o f the Guaviare. Acesines. The Sutlej or Hysudrus forms, together with the Beyah or Hyphases, the river Gurra. These are the beautiful regions of the Punjab and Douab, celebrated from the time of Alexander to the present day.


SUPPOSED MINERAL RICHES.

341

The astronomical observations made in the night o f the 25th of April did not give m e the latitude with satisfactory precision. T h e latitude o f the mission o f San F e r n a n d o appeared t o m e t o b e 4 ° 2' 4 8 " . I n F a t h e r Caulin's m a p , founded on the observations o f Solano made in 1756, it is 4° 1'. This agreement proves the justness o f a result which, however, I c o u l d only d e d u c e from altitudes considerably distant from the meridian. A g o o d observation o f the stars at G u a p a s o s o gave me 4 ° 2' for San F e r n a n d o de A t a b a p o . 1 was able to fix the longitude with much more precision in m y way t o the Rio N e g r o , and in r e t u r n i n g from that river. I t is 70° 30' 4 6 " ( o r 4° 0' west o f the meridian o f Cumana). O n the 20th o f A p r i l w e advanced o n l y t w o o r three leagues, and passed the night on a rock near the Indian plantations or conucos o f Guapasoso. T h e river losing itself by its inundations in t h e forests, and its real banks being unseen, the traveller can venture to land only where a rock or a small table-land rises above the water. T h e granite o f those countries, o w i n g t o the position o f t h e thin laminæ of black mica, sometimes resembles graphic g r a n i t e ; b u t most frequently (and this determines the age o f its formation) it passes into a real gneiss. Its beds, very regularly stratified, run from south-west to north-east, as in the C o r dillera o n the shore o f Caracas. T h e dip o f the granitegneiss is 70° north-west. It is traversed by an infinito n u m b e r o f veins o f quartz, which are singularly transparent, and three or four, and sometimes fifteen inches thick. I found no cavity ( d r u s e ) , no crystallized substance, not even r o c k - c r y s t a l ; and n o trace o f pyrites, or any other metallic substance. I enter into these particulars on account o f the chimerical ideas that have been spread ever since the sixteenth century, after the voyages of Berreo and Raleigh,* " o n the immense riches o f the great and fine empire o f Guiana." T h e river A t a b a p o presents t h r o u g h o u t a peculiar aspect ; you see nothing o f its real banks formed by flat lauds eight * Raleigh's work bears the high Rounding title of " T h e Discovery of the large, rich, and beautiful Empire of Guiana." (Lond. 1596.) See also Raleghi admiranda Descriptio Regni Guianæ, auri abundantissimi. (Hondius, Noribergœ, 1599.)


342

WATER-SNAKES.

o r ten feet high ; they are concealed b y a r o w o f palms, a n d small trees with slender trunks, the roots of which are hat lied by the waters. T h e r e are many crocodiles from t h e p o i n t where y o u quit the O r i n o c o to the mission o f San Fernando, and their presence indicates that this part o f the river b e l o n g s to the R i o Guaviare and n o t t o the A t a b a p o . In t h e real bed o f the latter river, above the mission o f San F e r n a n d o , there are n o c r o c o d i l e s : w e find there BOUIO bavat, a great many fresh-water dolphins, b u t n o manatis. W e also seek in vain on these hanks for the t h i c k nosed tapir, the araguato, o r great howling m o n k e y , the zamuro, o r V u l t u r aura, and t h e crested pheasant, k n o w n b y the n a m e o f guacharaca. E n o r m o u s water-snakes, in shape resembling the boa, are unfortunately very c o m m o n , and a r e dangerous to Indians w h o bathe. W e saw them almost from the first day we embarked, s w i m m i n g by the side o f o u r c a n o e ; they were at most twelve or fourteen feet long. T h o jaguars of the banks o f the A t a b a p o and the Tend are large and well fed ; they are said, however, to be less daring than the jaguars o f the O r i n o c o . T h e night, o f the 27th was b e a u t i f u l ; dark c l o u d s passed from time to time over the zenith with extreme rapidity. Not a breath o f wind was felt in the lower strata o f t h e a t m o s p h e r e ; the breeze was at the height o f a thousand toises. I dwell upon this peculiarity ; for the m o v e m e n t we saw was not produced by the counter-currents (from west t o east) which are sometimes t h o u g h t t o be observed in t h e torrid z o n e o n the loftiest mountains o f the Cordilleras ; it was the effect o f a real breeze, an east wind. W e left the conucos of Guapasoso at two o ' c l o c k ; and c o n t i n u e d t o ascend the river toward the south, finding it ( o r rather t h a t part o f its bed which is free from trees) g r o w i n g more a n d m o r e n a r r o w . I t b e g a n t o rain toward sunrise. I n t h e s e forests, which are less inhabited by animals than those o f the O r i n o c o , wo no longer heard the howlings o f the m o n keys. T h e dolphins, or toninas, sported by the side o f o u r boat. A c c o r d i n g to the relation o f Mr. C o l e b r o o k e , the Delphinus gangeticus, which is the fresh-water porpoise o f the Old W o r l d , in like manner accompanies the boats t h a t g o tip towards B e n a r e s ; but, from Benares to the point where the G a n g e s receives the salt waters is only t w o h u n -


PIEDRA

DEL

343

TIGRE.

dred leagues, while from the A t a b a p o to thE m o u t h o f t h e O r i n o c o is more than three hundred and t w e n t y . A b o u t n o o n we passed the m o u t h o f the little river I p u r i c h a pano on the east, and afterwards the granitic r o c k , known b y the name o f Piedra del Tigre. B e t w e e n the fourth and fifth degrees o f latitude, a little to the south o f the mountains o f Sipapo, we reach the southern extremity o f that chain o f cataracts, which I proposed, in a m e m o i r published in 1 8 0 0 , t o call the Chain o f Parima. A t 4° 2 0 ' it stretches from the, right hank o f the O r i n o c o toward the east, and east-southeast. T h e whole o f the land e x t e n d i n g from the mountains o f the Parima towards the river A m a z o n , which is traversed b y the A t a b a p o , the Cassiquiare, and the Rio N e g r o , is an immense plain, covered partly with forests, and partly with grass. Small rocks rise here and there like castles. "We regretted that w e had not stopped t o rest near the Piedra del T i g r e ; for on g o i n g up the A t a b a p o w e had great difficulty to find a spot o f dry g r o u n d , o p e n and spacious e n o u g h t o light a lire, and place o u r instrument and o u r h a m m o c k s . O n the 28th o f April, it rained hard after sunset, and w e w e r e afraid that o u r collections would be damaged. The p o o r missionary had his lit o f tertian fever, and besought us t o re-embark immediately after midnight. W e passed a.t day-break the Piedra and the Raudalitos* o f Guarinuma. T h e rock is on the east bank ; it is a shelf o f granite, covered with psora, cladonia, and other lichens. I could have fancied myself transported to the north o f E u r o p e , to the ridge o f the mountains o f gneiss and granite b e t w e e n F r e i b e r g and Marienberg in Saxony. T h e cladonias appeared to me to be identical with the L i c h e n rangiferinus, the L . pixidatus, and the L. p o l y m o r p h i c o f L i n n æ u s . A f t e r having passed the rapids o f Guarinuma, the Indians showed us in t h e middle o f the forest, on o u r right, the ruins o f the m i s sion o f Mendaxari, which has been long abandoned. On the east bank o f the river, near the little rock o f K e m a r u m o , in the midst o f Indian plantations, a gigantic bombax † attracted o u r curiosity. W e landed to measure i t ; the height was nearly o n e hundred and t w e n t y feet, and t h e diameter between fourteen and fifteen. This e n o r m o u s specimen o f * The rock and little cascades.

† Bombax

ceiba.


344

MISSION OF SAN BALTHASAR.

vegetation surprised us the more, as we had till then seen on the banks of the Atabapo only small trees with slender trunks, which from afar resembled y o u n g cherry-trees. T h e Indians assured that these small trees do n o t form a v e r y extensive g r o u p . T h e y are c h e c k e d in their g r o w t h b y t h e inundations o f the r i v e r ; while the dry g r o u n d s near the Atabapo, the T e m i , and the Tuamini, furnish excellent timber for building. These forests do not stretch indefinitely t o t h e east and west, toward the Cassiquiare and the G u a v i a r e ; they are bounded by the open savannahs o f M a nuteso, and the Rio Inirida. W e found it difficult in the evening to stem the current, and we passed the night in a wood a little above Mondaxari ; which is a not her granitic rock traversed by a stratum o f quartz. We found in it a g r o u p o f fine crystals o f black schorl. O n the 29th, the air was cooler. W e had no zancudos, but the sky was constantly clouded. and without stars. 1 began to regret the Lower O r i n o c o . W e st ill advanced but slowly from the force o f the current, and we stopped a great part o f the day to seek for plants. It was night when we arrived at the mission of San Balthasar, or, as the monks style it, the mission of In divina Pastora de Balthasar de Atabapo. W e were lodged with a Catalonian missionary, a lively and agreeable man, who displayed in these wild countries the activity that characterises his nation. He had planted a garden, where the Fig-tree o f Europe was found in c o m p a n y with the persea, and the lemon-tree with the mammee. T h e village was built with that regularity which, in the north o f G e r m a n y , and in protestant America, we find in the hamlets o f the Moravian brethren ; and the Indian plantations seemed better cultivated than elsewhere. Here we saw for the first time that white and fungous substance which I have made known by the name of dapicho and zapis.* W e immediately perceived that it was analogous to i n d i a - r u b b e r ; but, as the Indians made us understand by signs, that it was found u n d e r g r o u n d , we were inclined to think, till we arrived at the mission o f Javita, that the dapicho was a fossil c a o u t c h o u c , though different from the elastic bitumen o f D e r b y shire. A Poimisano Indian, seated by the fire in the hut o f * These two words belong to the Poimisano and Paragini tongues.


PREPARATION OF DAPICHO.

345

the missionary, was e m p l o y e d in r e d u c i n g the dapicho into black c a o u t c h o u c . H e had spitted several bits on a slender stick, and was roasting them like meat. T h e dapicho blackens in p r o p o r t i o n as it g r o w s soft, and b e c o m e s elastic. T h e resinous and aromatic smell which tilled the hut, seemed t o indicate that this coloration is the effect o f the d e c o m position o f a carburet o f h y d r o g e n , and that the carbon appears in proportion as the hydrogen burns at a low heat. The Indian beat the softened and blackened mass with a niece o f brazil-wood, formed at o n e end like a club ; he then kneaded the dapicho into balls o f three or four inches in diameter, and let it c o o l . These balls exactly resemble t h e Caoutchouc o f the shops, but their surface remains in general slightly viscous. T h e y are used at San Balthasar in the Indian game of tennis, which is celebrated a m o n g the inhabitants of Uruana and Encaramada ; they are also cut into cylinders, to be used as corks, and are far preferable t o those made o f the bark o f the cork-tree. This use o f c a o u t c h o u c appeared to us the more w o r t h y n o t i c e , as we had been often embarrassed by t he want o f E u r o pean corks. T h e great utility of cork is fully understood in countries where trade has not supplied this bark in p l e n t y . Equinoctial A m e r i c a nowhere produces, not even on the back o f t h e A n d e s , an oak resembling the Q u e r c u s s u b e r ; and neither the light Wood o f the bombax, the ochroma, and other malvaceous plants, nor the rhachis o f maize, o f which the natives make use, can well supply the place o f our corks. T h e missionary showed us, before the Casa de los Solteros ( t h e house where the y o u n g unmarried men reside), a d r u m , which was a hollow cylinder o f wood, two feet long and eighteen inches thick. This drum was beaten with great masses o f dapicho, which served as d r u m s t i c k s ; it bad o p e n i n g s which could be stopped by the hand at will, to vary the sounds, ami was lived on two light supports. Savage notions love noisy music ; the drum and the botuto, or t r u m p e t o f baked earth, in which a tube of three or four feet long c o m m u n i c a t e s with several barrels, are indispensable instruments a m o n g the Indians for their grand pieces of music. T h e night, o f the 30th o f April was sufficiently fine for observing the meridian heights o f x of Southern Cross,


346

THE ROCK OF THE GUAHIBA.

and the t w o largo stars in the feet o f the Centuar. I f o u n d t h e latitude o f San Balthasar 3째 14' 2 3 " . H o r a r y angles of t h e sun gave 7 0 째 14' 2 1 " for the longitude b y the c h r o n o meter. T h e dip o f the m a g n e t i c needle was 27 8째 ( c e n t . div.) W e left the mission at a late hour in the m o r n i n g , and c o n t i n u e d t o g o u p the A t a b a p o for five m i l e s ; t h e n , instead of following that river to its source in the cast, where it bears the name o f A t a c a v i , we entered the Rio T e m i . Before we reached its continence, a granitic e m i n e n c e o n the western bank, near the mouth o f the Guasacavi, fixed o u r a t t e n t i o n : it is called Piedra de la Guahiba, ( R o c k of the Guahiba w o m a n ) , or the Piedra de la Madre ( M o t h e r ' s Rock.) W e inquired the cause o f so singular a d e n o m i n a t i o n . F a t h e r Z e a could not satisfy o u r curiosity ; b u t s o m e weeks after, another missionary, one o f the predecessors o f that ecclesiastic, whom we found settled at San Fernando as president o f the missions, related to us an event which excited in our minds the most painful feedings. If, in these solitary scenes, man scarcely h a v e s behind hint any trace o f his existence, it is doubly humiliating for a European to see perpetuated by so imperishable a monument of n a t u r e as a r o c k , the r e m e m b r a n c e o f the moral degradation o f o u r species, and the contrast between the virtue o f a savage, and the barbarism o f civilized man ! In 1797 the missionary of San Fernando had led his Indians to the banks of the Rio Guaviare, on one o f those hostile incursions which are prohibited alike by religion and the Spanish laws. They found in an Indian hut a Guahiba w o m e n with her three children ( t w o o f whom were still infants), occupied in preparing the flour o f cassava. Resistance wasi m p o s s i b l ewasgone to fish, and the mother tried in vain to flee with her children. Scarcely had she reached the savannah when she was seized by the Indians o f the mission, who hunt human beings, like the Whites and t h e N e g r o e s in Africa. T h e mot her and her children were b o u n d , and dragged to the bank o f the river. The monk, seated in his boat, waited the issue o f an expedition o f which he shared not the danger. Had the mother made too violent a resistance the Indians would have killed her, for everything is permitted for the sake of the c o n q u e s t o f souls (la conquista e s p i r i t u e l ) , and it is particularly


AFFECTING INCIDENT.

347

desirable t o capture children, w h o may b o treated in t h e m i n i o n as poitos, o r slaves o f the Christians. T h e prisoners were carried to San F e r n a n d o , in the hope that the m o t h e r w o u l d be unable to find her way back t o her h o m e b y land. Separated from her other children w h o had a c c o m p a n i e d their father o n the day in which she had been carried off, t h e unhappy woman showed signs o f the deepest despair. She a t t e m p t e d to take back to her h o m e the children w h o had been seized b y t h e m i s s i o n a r y ; and she fled with t h e m repeatedly from the village o f San F e r n a n d o . B u t t h e Indians never failed to recapture her ; and the missionary, after having caused her t o b e mercilessly beaten, t o o k the cruel resolution o f separating the m o t h e r from the t w o children w h o had been carried off with her. She was c o n v e y e d alone t o the missions o f the Rio N e g r o , g o i n g u p the Atabapo. Slightly b o u n d , she was seated at t h e b o w o f the boat, ignorant o f the fate that awaited h e r ; b u t she j u d g e d b y t h e direction o f the sun, that she was r e m o v i n g farther and farther from her h u t and her native c o u n t r y . She s u c c e e d e d in breaking her b o n d s , t h r e w herself i n t o the water, and swam t o the left b a n k o f the A t a b a p o . The current carried her t o a shelf o f r o c k , which bears her name t o this day. She landed and t o o k shelter in the w o o d s , b u t t h e president o f the missions ordered the Indians t o r o w t o the shore, and follow the traces o f the Guahiba. In the evening she was b r o u g h t back. Stretched u p o n the rock (la Piedra de la Madre) a cruel p u n i s h m e n t was indicted on her with those straps o f manati leather, which serve for whips in that c o u n t r y , and with which t h o alcaldes are always furnished. T h i s u n h a p p y w o m a n , h e r hands tied behind her back with strong stalks o f mavacure, was then dragged t o the mission o f Javita. She was there t h r o w n into o n e o f t h o caravanserais, called las Casas del Rey. It was the rainy season, and the n i g h t was profoundly dark. F o r e s t s till then believed t o be impenetrable separated the mission o f Javita from that o f San Fernando, which was twenty-five leagues distant in a straight line. N o other route is known than that b y t h o r i v e r s ; no man ever attempted to g o by land from o n o village to another. But such difficulties could not deter a mother, separated from her children. T h e Guahiba was


348

AFFECTING INCIDENT.

carelessly gaarded in the caravanserai. Her arms being wounded, the Indians o f Javita had loosened her bonds, unknown to the missionary and the alcaldes. Having succeeded by the help o f her teeth in breaking them entirely, she disappeared during the night ; and at the fourth sunrise was seen at the mission of San Fernando, hovering around the but where her children Were confined. " What, 1 hat woman performed," added the missionary, who gave us this sad narrative, " t h e most robust Indian would not have ventured to undertake!" She traversed the woods at a season when the sky is constantly covered with clouds, and the sun during whole days appears but for a few minutes. Did the course of the waters direct her way? The inundations of the rivers forced her to go far from the banks of the main stream, through the midst of woods where the movement of the water is almost, imperceptible. How often must she have been stopped by the thorny lianas, that form a network around the trunks they e n twine! How often must she have swum across the rivulets that run into the Atabapo ! This unfortunate woman was asked how she had sustained herself during four days. She Said that, exhausted with fatigue, she could find no other nourishment than those great, black ants called vachacos, which climb the trees in long bands, to suspend on them their resinous nests. W e pressed the missionary to tell us whether the Guahiba had peacefully enjoyed the happiness of remaining with her children; and if any repentance had followed this excess of cruelty. He would not satisfy our curiosity ; but at our return from the Rio Negro we learned that the Indian mother was again separated from her children, and scut, to one of the mision-. of tin; Upper Orinoco. There she died, refusing all kind o f nourishment, as savages frequently do in great calamities. Such is the remembrance annexed to this fatal rock, the I'II Jni tii l,t Mmlrr. In this relation of mv travels I feel n o desire to dwell on pictures of individual sulfering— evils which are frequent wherever (here are masters and slaves, civilized Europeans living with people in a state of barbarism, and priests exercising the plenitude of arbitrary power over men ignorant and without defence. In describing the countries through which 1 passed, 1 generally confine


THE

PIRIJAO

PALM-TREE...

349

myself to pointing out what is imperfect, o r fatal t o h u m a nity, in their civil or religious institutions. If I have dwelt l o n g e r o n the Rock of the Ouahiba, it was to r e c o r d an affecting instance o f maternal tenderness in a race o f people so l o n g calumniated ; and because 1 t h o u g h t some benefit m i g h t accrue from publishing a fact, which 1 had from the m o n k s of San Francisco, and which proves how m u c h the system o f the missions calls for the care o f the legislator. A b o v e the mouth o f the Guasucavi we entered the Rio T e n d , the course o f which is from south t o n o r t h . Had we continued to ascend the A t a b a p o , we should have t u r n e d t o east-south-east, g o i n g farther from the banks o f the Guainia or Rio N e g r o . T h e T e m i is only eighty o r n i n e t y toises broad, but in any other c o u n t r y than Guiana it would be a considerable river. T h e country exhibits the uniform aspect of forests covering ground perfectly flat. T h e line pirijao palm, with its fruit like peaches, and a new species o f bache, or mauritia, its trunk bristled with thorns, rise amid smaller trees, the vegetation o f which appears to be retarded b y t h e c o n t i n u a n c e o f the inundations. The Mauritia aculcata is called by the Indians juria or cauvaja ; its leaves are in the form o f a fan, and they bend towards the g r o u n d . A t the centre o f every leaf, n o d o u b t from the effect o f some disease o f the parenchyma, c o n c e n t r i c circles of alternate blue and yellow appear, the yellow prevailing towards the middle. W e were singularly struck b y this a p p e a r a n c e ; the leaves, coloured like the peacock's tail, are supported by short and very thick trunks. The thorns are n o t slender and l o n g like those o f the c o r o z o and other thorny p a l m - t r e e s ; but on the contrary. veryWoody, short, ami broad at the base, like the thorns of the Hura crepitans. On the banks o f the A t a b a p o and the T e m i , this palm-tree is distributed in g r o u p s o f twelve o r fifteen stems, (dose t o g e t h e r , and looking as if they rose from the same root. T h e s e trees resemble in their appearance, form, and scarcity o f leaves, the fan-palms ami palmettos o f the Old W o r l d . W e remarked that some plants o f the juria were entirely destitute o f fruit, and others exhibited a considerable q u a n t i t y ; this circumstance seems to indicate a palm-tree of separate sexes. W h e r e v e r the R i o T e m i forms c o v e s , the forest is i n u n -


350

EXTRAORDINARY

RENCONTRE.

dated to the extent of more than half a square league. To avoid the sinuosities of the river and shorten the passage, the navigation is here performed in a very extraordinary manner. The Indians made us leave the bed of the river; and we proceeded southward across the forest, through paths (sendas), that is, through open channels of four or five feet broad. The depth of the water seldom exceeds half a fathom. These sendas are formed in the inundated forest like paths on dry ground. The Indians, in going from one mission to another, pass with their boats as much as possible by the same way; but tho communications not being frequent, the force of vegetation sometimes produces u n e x p e c t e d obstacles. AN Indian, furnished with a machete (a great knife, the blade of which is fourteen inches long), stood at the head of our boat, employed continually in chopping off the branches that crossed each other from the two sides of the channel. In the thickest part of the forest we were astonished by an extraordinary noise. On beating the bushes, a shoal of toninas (fresh-water dolphins) four feet long, surrounded our boat. These animals had concealed themselves beneath the branches of a fromager, or Bonibax ceiba. They fled across the forest, throwing out those spouts of compressed air and water which have given them in every language the name of ' blowers.' How singular was this spectacle in an inland spot, three or four hundred leagues from the mouths of the Orinoco and tho Amazon ! I am aware that the pleuronectes (dabs) of the Atlantic go up the Loire as far as Orleans; but I am, nevertheless, of opinion that the dolphins of the Temi, like those of the Ganges, and like the skate (raia) of the Orinoco, are of a species essentially different from the dolphins and skates of the ocean. In the immense rivers of South America, and the great lakes of North America, nature seems to repeat several pelagic forms. The Nile has no porpoises:* those of the sea go up the Delta no farther than Biana and Metonbis towards Sclamoun. At five in the evening we regained with some difficulty * Those dolphins that enter the mouth of the Nile, did not escape the observation of the ancients. In a bust in syenite, preserved in the museum at Paris, the sculptor has represented them half concealed in the uudulatory beard of the god of the river.


SAN ANTONIO DE JAVITA.

351

the b e d o f the river. O u r c a n o e remained fast for s o m o minutes b e t w e e n t w o trunks o f t r e e s ; and it was n o sooner disengaged than we reached a spot where several paths, o r small channels, crossed each other, so that the pilot was puzzled t o distinguish the m o s t o p e n path. W o navigated t h r o u g h a forest so thick that w e could g u i d e ourselves neither by the sun n o r b y the stars. W o were again struck during this day b y t h e want o f arborescent ferns in that c o u n t r y ; t h e y diminish visibly from the sixth degree o f n o r t h latitude, while the palm-trees a u g m e n t prodigiously towards t h e equator. Fern-trees b e l o n g t o a climate less h o t , and a soil b u t little m o u n t a i n o u s . I t is only where there aro mountains that these majestic plants descend towards t h e p l a i n s ; they seem to avoid perfectly flat grounds, as those through which run the Cassiquiare, the T e n d , Inirida, and the Rio N e g r o . W e passed in the night near a r o c k , called the Piedra de Astor by the missionaries. T h e g r o u n d from the m o u t h o f the Guaviare constantly displays t h e same geological formation. It is a vast granitic plain, in which from league to league the r o c k pierces the soil, and f o r m s , n o t hillocks, b u t small masses, that resemble pillars o r ruined buildings. O n the 1st o f M a y the I n d i a n s c h o s e t o depart l o n g before sunrise. W e w e n ; stirring before t h e m , however, because I waited ( t h o u g h vainly) for a star ready t o pass the meridian. I n those humid regions covered with forests, the nights became more obscure in proportion as we drew nearer t o the B i o N e g r o and the interior o f Brazil. We remained in the bed o f the river till daybreak, b e i n g afraid o f losing ourselves a m o n g the trees. A t sunrise we again entered the inundated forest, t o avoid t h e force o f t h e current. O n reaching the j u n c t i o n o f the T e n d with a n other little river, the Tuamini, the waters o f which are equally black, w e p r o c e e d e d along the latter t o t h e s o u t h west. This direction led us near t h e mission o f Javita, which is founded on the banks o f the T u a m i n i ; and at this christian settlement w e w e r e t o find t h e aid necessary for transporting o u r canoe by land t o t h e Rio N e g r o . We did not arrive at San A n t o n i o de Javita till near eleven in the m o r n i n g . A n accident, u n i m p o r t a n t in itself, b u t which shows the excessive timidity o f the little sagoins,


352

ТHE ARADORES.

detained us some time at the mouth o f the Tuamini. The noise of the blowers had frightened our monkeys, and one o f them fell into the water. A n i m a l s o f this species, per­ haps o n a c c o u n t o f their extreme meagreness, swim badly ; and consequently it was saved with s o m e difficulty. At Javita we had the pleasure o f finding a very intelligent a n d obliging m o n k , at whoso mission w o were forced t o remain four or five days, the time required for transporting our boat across the portage o f Pimichin. This delay enabled us to visit the surrounding c o u n t r y , as also to relieve o u r ­ selves from an annoyance which we had suffered for t w o days. W e felt an extraordinary irritation on the joints o f o u r fingers, and on the backs o f our hands. T h e missionary told us it was caused by the aradores,* which get under the skin. W e could distinguish with a lens nothing but streaks, o r parallel and whitish furrows. It is the form o f these furrows, that has obtained for the insect the name o f ' p l o u g h ­ man.' A mulatto woman was sent for, w h o professed t o b e thoroughly acquainted with all the little insects that burrow in the human s k i n ; the chego, The nuche, the coya, and the arador; she was the curandera, o r surgeon o f the place. She promised to extirpate, one by one, the insects which caused this smarting irritation, Having heated at a lamp the point a little bit o f hard w o o d , she dug with it into the furrows that marked the skin. After long examina­ tion, she announced with the pedantic gravity peculiar to the mulatto race, that an arador was found. I saw a little round bag. which I suspected to be the e g g o f an acarus. I was to find relief when the mulatto woman had succeeded in taking out three or four o f these aradores. Having the skin o f both hands filled with acari, I had not the patience to w a i t the end of an operation, which had already lasted till late a t night. T h e next day an Indian o f Javita cured us radically, and with surprising promptitude. He brought us the branch o f a shrub, called uzao, with small leaves like those o f cassia, very coriaceous and glossy. H e made a cold infusion o f the bark o f this shrub, which had a bluish c o l o u r , a n d the taste o f liquorice. W h e n beaten, it yields a great deal o f froth. T h e irritation o f the aradores ceased by using simple lotions o f this uzao-water. W e could n o t find t h i s * Literally, 'the ploughers.'


353

THE CHIEF JAVITA.

shrub in flower, o r bearing fruit; it appears t o b e l o n g t o the family o f the leguminous plants, the chemical properties of which are singularly varied. W e dreaded so much the sufferings t o which we had been e x p o s e d , that we constantly kept some branches o f the uzao in o u r boat, till we reached San Carlos. This shrub g r o w s in abundance on the banks o f the Pimichin. W h y has n o r e m e d y b e e n discovered for the irritation p r o d u c e d by the sting of the zancudos, as well as for that, occasioned by the aradores or m i c r o s c o p i c acari ? In 1700, before the expedition for fixing the boundaries, better known by the name o f the expedition o f Solano, the w h o l e country bet ween the missions o f Javita and San Balthasar was regarded as dependent on Brazil. T h e Portuguese had advanced from the Rio N e g r o , by the portage o f the Cano Pimichin, as far as the banks o f the' T e m i . A n Indian chief o f the name o f Javita, celebrated for his c o u r a g e and his spirit o f enterprise, was the ally o f the P o r t u g u e s e . He pushed his hostile incursions from the K i o J u p u r a , o r Caqueta, one of the great tributary streams o f the A m a z o n , b y the rivers t a u p e and X i o , as far as the black waters of t h e T e m i and the Tuamini, a distance o f m o r e than a hundred leagues. H e was furnished with letters patent, which authorised him " t o bring the Indians from the forest, for the c o n q u e s t o f s o u l s . " H e availed himself amply o f this p e r m i s s i o n ; but his incursions had an object which was not altogether spiritual, that of making slaves to sell to the Portuguese. W h e n Solano, the second chief o f the expedi­ tion o f the boundaries, arrived at San Fernando de A t a b a p o , he had Javita seized, in one o f his incursions to the banks o f the T e m i . He treated him with gentleness, and succeeded in gaining him over to the interests o f the Spanish g o v e r n ­ ment by promises that were not fulfilled. T h e Portuguese, who had already formed some stable settlements in these c o u n t r i e s , w e r e driven back as far as t h e l o w e r part o f t h e Rio N e g r o ; and the mission o f San A n t o n i o , ot which the more usual name is Javita, so called after its Indian founder, was removed farther north o f the sources of the Tuamini, to the spot where it is now established. This captain. Javita, was still living, at an advanced age. when we proceeded to the Bio N e g r o , He was an Indian o f great vigour o f mind and b o d y , He spoke Spanish with facility, and preserved a certain VOL.

11.

2 Đť


CANNIBAL TRIBES.

354

influence over the n e i g h b o u r i n g nations. A s he a t t e n d e d in all our herborizations, we obtained from his o w n mouth information so much the m o r e useful, as the m i s sionaries have great confidence in his veracity. He assured us. that in his y o u t h he bad seen almost all the Indian tribes, that inhabit the vast regions between the U p p e r O r i n o c o , the Rio N e g r o , the Inirida, and the Jupura, eat human flesh. T h e Daricavanas, the Puchirmavis, and the Manitivitanos, appeared to him to b e the greatest cannibals a m o n g them. He believes that, this abominable practice is with them the effect, o f a system o f v e n g e a n c e ; they eat only enemies who are made prisoners in battle. The instances where, by a refinement o f c r u e l l y , the Indian eats his nearest relations, his wife, o r an unfaithful mistress, are extremely rare. T h e strange custom o f the Scythians and Massagetes, the Capanaguas o f the Rio Ucayale, and the ancient inhabitants o f the West Indian Islands, o f h o n o u r i n g the dead by eating a part o f their remains, is u n k n o w n o n the banks of the O r i n o c o . In both c o n t i n e n t s this trait o f manners belongs only t o nations that hold in h o r r o r t h e flesh o f a prisoner. The Indian o f Hayti (Saint, D o m i n g o ) Would think himself wanting in regard to the memory o f a relation, if he did not throw into his drink a small portion o f the body o f the deceased, after having dried it like o n e o f 1 he mummies o f the Guanches, and reduced it to powder. This gives us just, occasion to repeat with an eastern p o e t , " o f all animals man is the m o s t fantastic in his manners, and the most disorderly in his p r o p e n s i t i e s . " The climate o f the mission o f San A n t o n i o de Javita is extremely rainy. W h e n y o u have passed the latitude o f three degrees north, and approach the equator, y o u have seldom an o p p o r t u n i t y o f observing the sun o r t h e stars. It rains almost the whole year, and the sky is constantly cloudy. A s the breeze is not felt in these immense forests o f Guiana, and the refluent polar currents do not penetrate them, the column o f air which reposes on this w o o d e d z o n e is not renewed by dryer strata. It is saturated with vapours which tire condensed into equatorial rains. T h e missionary assured us that it often rains here four or live m o n t h s w i t h o u t cessation. The

temperature

of Javita is cooler than that o f M a y p u r e s ,


355

THE INDIAN CANOES.

b u t considerably h o t t e r than that o f the Guainia or Rio N e g r o . T h e centigrade t h e r m o m e t e r k e p t up in the day t o twenty-six o r t w e n t y - s e v e n d e g r e e s ; and in the night t o t w e n t y - o n e degrees. F r o m t h e 3 0 t h o f A p r i l t o the 11th o f M a y , I had n o t b e e n able t o see any star in the meridian so as t o determine t h e latitude o f places. I watched w h o l e nights in order t o make use o f t h e m e t h o d o f d o u b l e a l t i t u d e s ; b u t all m y efforts w e r e useless. T h e fogs o f the north o f E u r o p e are n o t m o r e c o n s t a n t than t h o s e o f t h e equatorial r e g i o n s o f Guiana. O n t h e 4th o f M a y , I saw the sun for s o m e m i n u t e s ; and f o u n d b y t h e c h r o n o m e t e r and the horaryangles the l o n g i t u d e o f Javita t o b e 70° 2 2 ' , o r 1° 1 5 ' father w e s t than the l o n g i t u d e o f the j u n c t i o n o f t h e A p u r e with t h e O r i n o c o . T h i s result is interesting for laying d o w n o n o u r maps the u n k n o w n country lying between the Xiè and the sources o f the Issana, situated o n the same meridian with the mission o f Javita. The Indians o f Javita, whose n u m b e r a m o u n t s t o o n e hundred and sixty, now belong fur the most part to the nations o f the Poimisanos, the Echinavis, and the Paraganis. T h e y are e m p l o y e d in the c o n s t r u c t i o n o f boat's, formed o f the t r u n k s o f sassafras, a largo species o f laurel, h o l l o w e d b y means o f fire and the hatchet. T h e s e trees are m o r o than o n e h u n d r e d feet h i g h ; t h e w o o d is y e l l o w , resinous, almost incorruptible in water, and has a very agreeable smell. W e saw t h e m at San F e r n a n d o , at Javita, and m o r e particularly at Esmeralda, where m o s t o f the canoes o f t h e O r i n o c o are const landed, because the adjacent forests furnish the largest trunks o f sassafras. T h e forest bed ween Javita and the Caño Pimichin, contains an immense quantity o f gigantic trees, ocoteas, and laurels, the A m a s o n i a arborea,* the Retiniphyllum secundiflorum, the curvana, the j a c i o , the iacifate, o f which the w o o d is red like the brazilletto, the g u a m u f a t e , w i t h its fine leaves o f • This is a now species of the genus taligalea of Aublet. O n the same •pot grow the Bignonia magnolia-folia, B. jasminifolia, Solanum topiro, Justicia pertoralis, Faramea cymosa. Piper javitense, Scleria hirtella, Echites javitensis, Lindsea javitensis, and that curious plant of the family of the verbenaceæ, winch I have dedicated to the illustrious Leopold von Buch, in whose early labours I participated.

2 A

2


з.56

DIFFICULTIES IN

HERBORIZATION.

calophyllum from seven to eight inches long, the Amyris caraña, a mi the ma ni. All these trees (with the exception o f o u r new g e n u s Retiniphyllum) were more tha n one hun­ dred o r one hundred a nd ten feet high. A s their trunks throw out bra nches only towa rd the summit, we ha d s o m e t r o u b l e in procuring both lea ves a mi flowers. T h e la tter were frequently strewed upon the ground a t the foot o f the t r e e s ; but, the pla nts o f different fa milies being grouped together in these forests, a nd every tree being covered with lianas, we could not, with a ny degree o f confidence, rely on the a uthority o f the na tives, when they a ssured us tha t a flower b e l o n g e d t o such o r such a tree. A m i d these riches o f nature heboriza tions ca used us more cha grin tha n sa tis­ faction. Wa h t we could ga ther a ppea red to us o f little interest, compa red to wha t we could not rea ch. It ra ined unceasingly during severa l months, a nd M . Bonpl a nd lost t h e grea ter pa rt of the specimens which he ha d been c o m ­ pelled to dry by a rtificia l hea t. Our India ns distinguished the lea ves better tha n the corollæ or the fruit Occupied in seeking timber for ca noes, they a re ina ttentive t o flowers. " A l l those gre a t trees bea r neither flowers nor fruits," they repea ted uncea singly. Like the bota nists o f antiquity, they denied wha t they h a d not at ken the trouble to observe. They were tired with our quest ions, a nd exhausted o u r pa tience in return. W e ha ve a lrea dy mentioned tha t the sa me chemica l pro­ perties being sometimes found in the sa me orga ns o f dif­ ferent fa milies o f pl a nts, these fa milies supply ea ch o t h e r ' s places in va rious clima tes. Sever a l species of pa lms* furnish the inh a bit a nts o f equinoctia l America a nd Africa with the oil which we derive from the (dive. Wh a t, the coniferæ a re to the tempera te zone, the terebintha ceæ a nd the guttiferæ are to the torrid. In the forests o f those burning clima tes, * In Africa , the ela is or ma lm ; in America the cocoa ­tree. In the cocoa­tree it is the pensperm ; a nd in the ela is (a n in the olive, a nd the oleineæ in genera l) it is the sa rcoca rp, or the pulp of the perica rp, tha t yields oil. This difference, observed in the sa me f a mily, a ppea rs to me very rema rka ble, though it is ill no wa y contr a dictory to the results obtained by De Ca ndolle in his ingenious resea rches on the chemica l p r o ­ perties of pla nts. If our Alfonsia oleifera belong to the genus Ela is, la s Brown, with grea t rea son believes,) it follows, tha t in the sa me genus the oil is found in the surcoca rp a nd in the perisperm.

J


GUMS AND RESINS.

357

(where there is neither pine, thuya, t a x o d i u m , n o r even a podooarpus,) resins, balsams, and aromatic g u m s , are furnished b y t h e maronobea, the icica, and t h e amyris. T h e collecting o f these g u m m y and resinous substances is a trade in the village of Javita. T h e most celebrated resin bears t h e name o f mani; and o f this w e saw masses o f several hundred-weight, resembling c o l o p h o n y and mastic. T h e tree called mani by the Paraginis, which M . Bonpland believes t o b e t h e M o r o n o b ĂŚ a c o c c i n e a , furnishes b u t a small quantity o f the substance e m p l o y e d in t h e trade with Angostura. T h e greatest part c o m e s from t h e mararo o r caragna, which is an amyris. I t is remarkable e n o u g h , that the name mani, which A u b l e t heard a m o n g t h e Galibis* o f Cayenne, was again heard by us at Javita, three hundred leagues distant from French Guiana. The moronobĂŚa o r symphonia o f Javita yields a y e l l o w r e s i n ; t h e caragna, a resin strongly odoriferous, and white as s n o w ; t h e latter beomes yellow where it is adherent t o t h e internal part o f old bark. W e w e n t every day t o see h o w o u r canoo advanced on the portages. T w e n t y - t h r e e I n d i a n s were employed in dragging it by land, placing branches o f trees t o serve as rollers. In this manner a small boat proceeds in a day o r a day and a half, from t h e waters o f t h e Tuamini t o those o f the Cano Pimichin, which flow into t h o Rio N e g r o . O u r canoe b e i n g very large, and having t o pass the cataracts a second time, it was necessary t o avoid with particular care any fried ion o n t h e b o t t o m ; c o n s e quently the passage occupied more than four days. I t is only since 1795 that a road has been traced t h r o u g h t h e forest. By substituting a canal for this portage, as I proposed t o t h e ministry of king Charles I V , the communication between the Rio Negro and Angostura, between the Spanish O r i n o c o and the Portuguese possessions o n the A m a z o n , would be singularly facilitated. In this forest we at length obtained precise information * T h e Galibis or Caribis (the r has been changed into l, as often happens) are of the great stock of the Carib nations. T h e products useful in commerce and in domestic life have received the same denomination in every part of America which this warlike and commercial people have overrun.


358

THE DAPICHO.

respecting the pretended fossil c a o u t c h o u c , called dapicho b y t h e Indians. T h e old chief Javita led us t o the b r i n k o f a rivulet which runs into the T u a m i n i ; and showed us that, after digging two or three feet deep, in a marshy soil, this substance was found between the roots o f t w o trees k n o w n by the name o f the jacio and the curvana. T h e first is the hevea o f A u h l e t , o r siphonia o f tho m o d e r n botanists, k n o w n to furnish the c a o u t c h o u c o f c o m m e r c e in Cayenne and Grand Para; the second has pinnate leaves, and its j u i c e is milky, b u t very thin, and almost destitute o f viscosity. Tho dapicho appears to be the result o f an extravasation o f the sap from the roots. This extravasation takes place more especially when the trees have attained a great age, and the interior o f the trunk begins to d e c a y . T h e bark and a l b u r n u m c r a c k ; and thus is effected naturally, what the art o f man performs for tho purpose o f collecting the milky j u i c e s o f the hevea, the castilloa, and the c a o u t c h o u c fig-tree. Aublet relates, that t h e Galibis and the G a r i p o n s o f Cayenne begin by making a deep incision at the foot o f the trunk, so as t o penetrate into the wood ; soon after they j o i n with this horizontal notch others both perpendicular and oblique, reaching from the t o p o f the trunk nearly to the r o o t s . A l l these incisions c o n d u c t the milky j u i c e towards one point, where the vase o f (day is placed, in which the c a o u t c h o u c is to be deposited. W e saw the Indians o f Carichana operate nearly in the same manner. If, as I suppose, the accumulation and overflowing o f the milk in the jacio and t h e curvana be a p a t h o l o g i c a l p h e n o m e n o n , it must s o m e t i m e s tako place at the extremity o f the longest roots, for we found masses o f dapicho t w o feet in diameter and four inches thick, eight feet distant from t h e trunks. Sometimes the Indians dig in vain at the f o o t o f dead t r e e s ; at other times the dapicho is found beneath the hevea o r j a c i o still green. T h e substance is w h i t e , c o r k y , fragile, and resembles by its laminated structure and u n d u lating e d g e , the Boletus ignarius. T h e dapicho perhaps t a k e s a l o n g t i m e t o form by a particular disposition and coagulated in a humid l i g h t ; it is c a o u t c h o u c in

; it is p r o b a b l y a j u i c e t h i c k e n e d o f the vegetable organs, diffused soil secluded from the c o n t a c t o f a particular state, I may almost


ITS

FORMATION.

359

say an etiolated c a o u t c h o u c . T h e h u m i d i t y o f the soil seems to a c c o u n t for the undulating form o f the edges o f t h e dapicho, and its division into layers. I often observed in Peru, that on p o u r i n g slowly tho milky j u i c e o f the hevea, o r the sap o f the carica, into a large quantity o f water, the c o a g u l u m forms undulating outlines. The dapicho is certainly n o t peculiar to t h e forest that e x t e n d s from Javita t o P i m i c h i n , although that is the only spot where it has hitherto b e e n f o u n d . I have n o d o u b t , that on d i g g i n g in F r e n c h G u i a n a beneath t h e r o o t s and the old trunks o f the hevea, those e n o r m o u s masses o f c o r k y c a o u t c h o u c , * which I have j u s t described, w o u l d from t i m e t o t i m e b o f o u n d . A s it is o b s e r v e d in E u r o p e , that at the fall o f the leaf the sap i s c o n v e y e d towards the r o o t , it w o u l d be c u r i o u s t o examine whether, within the t r o p i c s , the milky j u i c e s o f the urticca), t h e euphorbiace æ , a n d t h e a p o c y n e æ , d e s c e n d also at certain seasons. N o t w i t h s t a n d i n g a great equality o f t e m p e r a t u r e , t h e trees o f the torrid z o n e follow a c y c l e o f v e g e t a t i o n ; they undergo changes periodically returning. T h e e x i s t e n c e o f the dapicho is more interesting to physiology than t o vegetable chemistry. A yellowish-white c a o u t c h o u c is now t o be found in the s h o p s , which may be easily distinguished from the dapicho, because it is neither dry like c o r k , n o r friable, but extremely clastic, glossy, and soapy. I lately saw considerable quantities o f it in L o n d o n . This c a o u t c h o u c , white, and greasy to the t o u c h , is prepared in the Past Indies. It exhales that animal and fetid smell which I have attributed in another place to a m i x t u r e o f caseum and albumen. † W h e n w e reflect o n the immense variety * Thus, at five or six inches depth, between the roots of the Hymenea courbaril, masses of the resin anime (erroneously called coupal) are discovered, and are sometimes mistaken for amber in inland places. This phenomenon seems to throw some light on the origin of those large masses of amber which arc picked up from time to time on the coast of Prussia. † The pellicles deposited by the milk of heavea, in contact with the atmospheric oxygen, become brown on exposure to the sun. If the dapicho grow black as it is softened before the fire, it is owing to a slight combustion, to a change in the proportion of its elements. I am surprised that some chemists consider the black caoutchouc of commerce as being mixed with soot, blackened by the smoke to which it has been exposed.


3060

DISTRIBUTION

OF

NATIVE

HORDES.

o f plants in the equinoctial regions that are capable o f furnishing c a o u t c h o u c , it is to be regretted that this s u b stance, so eminently useful, is n o t f o u n d a m o n g us at a lower price. W i t h o u t cultivating trees w i t h a milky sap, a sufficient quantity o f c a o u t c h o u c m i g h t b e collected in the missions o f the O r i n o c o alone for the c o n s u m p t i o n o f civilized E u r o p e . * In the k i n g d o m o f N e w G r e n a d a some successful attempts have been made to make boots and shoes o f this substance w i t h o u t a Beam. A m o n g tho American n a t i o n , the Omaguas o f the A m a z o n best understand how to manufacture c a o u t c h o u c . F o u r days had passed, and our canoe had not y e t arrived at the landing-place o f the Rio Pimichin. " You want for n o t h i n g in my m i s s i o n , " said f a t h e r C e r e s o ; " y o u hayo plantains and fish; at night you are not s t u n g by m o s q u i t o s ; and the longer y o u stay, the b e t t e r chance y o u will have o f seeing the stars o f my c o u n t r y . If y o u r boat be destroyed in the portage, we will give y o u a n o t h e r ; and I shall have had the satisfaction o f passing some weeks con gente blanca y DE razon." * Notwithstanding our impatience, we listened with interest to the information given us by the worthy missionary. It confirmed all we had already heard of the moral state o f the natives o f t h o s e countries. T h e y live, distributed in hordes o f forty o r fifty, under a family g o v e r n m e n t ; and they recognise a c o m m o n c h i e f ( a p o t o , sibierene) only at times when they make war against their neighbours. T h e mistrust, o f these hordes towards one another is increased by the c i r c u m stance that those who live ill the nearest n e i g h b o u r h o o d speak languages a l t o g e t h e r different. In the open plains, in the countries with savannahs, the tribes are fond o f c h o o s i n g their habitations from an affinity o f origin, and a resemblance o f manners and idioms. On the table-land o f Tartary, as in North A m e r i c a , great families o f nations have been seen, formed into several c o l u m n s , e x t e n d i n g their migrations across countries t h i n l y - w o o d e d , and easily tra• We saw in Guiana, besides the jacio and the curvana, two other trees that yield caoutchouc in abundance ; on the banks of the Atabapo, tho guamaqui with jatropha leaves, and at Maypures the cime. † " With white and rational people.'' European self-love usually opposes the gente de razon to the gente parda, or coloured people.


MIGRATION OF TRIBES.

361

versed. Such w e r e the j o u r n e y s o f the Toltec and A z t e c race in t h e high plains o f M e x i c o , from the sixth to the eleventh c e n t u r y o f o u r e r a ; such probably was also t h e movement o f nations by which the petty tribes of Canada were grouped together. A s the immense country between the equator and the eighth degree o f north latitude forms o n e c o n t i n u o u s forest, the hordes were there dispersed by following the branchings o f the rivers, and the nature o f the land compelled them to b e c o m e more or less agriculturists. Such is the labyrinth o f these rivers, that families settled themselves without k n o w i n g what race o f men lived nearest t h e spot. I n Spanish Guiana a mountain, o r a forest half a league broad, sometimes separates hordes w h o could not meet in less than t w o days b y navigating rivers. I n o p e n c o u n tries, or in a state o f advanced civilization, c o m m u n i c a t i o n b y rivers contributes powerfully to generalize languages, manners, and political i n s t i t u t i o n s ; but in the impenetrable forests o f the torrid zone, as in the first rude c o n d i t i o n o f o u r species, rivers increase the d i s m e m b e r m e n t o f great nations, favour the transition o f dialects into languages that appear to us radically distinct, and keep up national hatred and mistrust. B e t w e e n the banks o f the Caura and t h e Padamo everything bears the stamp o f disunion and weakness. M e n avoid, because they d o n o t understand each o t h e r ; they mutally hate, because they mutually fear. W h e n we examine attentively this wild part o f A m e r i c a , w e fancy ourselves transported t o those primitive t i m e s when the earth was p e o p l e d by degrees, and w e seem t o b e present at the birth o f human societies. In the old world w e see that pastoral life has prepared the hunting nations for agriculture. In the N e w W o r l d we seek in vain these progressive developments o f civilization, these intervals o f repose, these stages in the life o f nations. T h e luxury o f vegetation embarrasses the Indians in the c h a s e ; and in their rivers, resembling arms o f the sea, the depth o f the waters prevents fishing during whole months. Those species o f ruminating animals, that constitute the wealth o f the nations o f the Old W o r l d , are w a n t i n g in the N e w . T h e bison and the m u s k - o x have n e v e r b e e n r e d u c e d t o a domestic s t a t e ; the breeding o f llamas and guanacos has n o t created the habits o f pastoral life. I n the temperate


362

IDEAS OF A DEITY.

zonо, on the banks o f the Missouri, as well as on t h e tableland o f N e w M e x i c o , the A m e r i c a n is a h u n t e r ; b u t in t h e torrid z o n e , in the forests o f G u i a n a , b e cultivates cassava, plantains, and s o m e t i m e s maize. S u c h is t h e admirable fertility o f nature, that the field o f the native is a little s p o t of land, t o c h a r which requires o n l y s e t t i n g fire t o the b r a m b l e s ; and putting a few seeds or slips into t h e g r o u n d is all t h e husbandry it demands. I f we g o back in t h o u g h t t o the most remote ages, in these thick forests we must always figure to ourselves nations deriving the greater part o f their n o u r i s h m e n t from the e a r t h ; b u t , as this earth produces a b u n d a n c e in a small space, and almost without tod, we may also imagine these nations often c h a n g i n g their dwellings along the banks o f t h e same river. Even now the native o f the O r i n o c o travels with his s e e d s ; a n d transports his farm ( c o n u c o ) as t h e A r a b transports his t e n t , and c h a n g e s his pasturage. T h e numher o f cultivated plants found wild amid the w o o d s , proves the n o m a d habits o f an agricultural p e o p l e . Can wo b o surprised, that by these habits they lose almost all t h o advantages that result in the temperate zone from stationary culture, from the growth o f c o r n , which requires e x t e n ­ sive lands and the most assiduous l a b o u r ? The nations o f the Upper O r i n o c o , the Atabapo, and the Inirida, like the ancient G e r m a n s and the Persians, have n o o t h e r worship than that o f t h e p o w e r s o f n a t u r e . T h e y call the good principle Cachimana ; it is the Manitou, t h e G r e a t Spirit, that regulates the seasons, and favours the harvests. A l o n g with Cachimana there is an evil principle, Iolokiamo, less powerful, but more artful, and in particular more active. T h e Indians o f the forest, when they occasionally visit the missions, conceive with d i f f i c u l t y the idea o f a temple or an image. " T h e s e g o o d p e o p l e , " said t h e mis­ sionary, " l i k e only processions in the o p e n air. When I last celebrated the festival of San Antonio, the patron o f my village, the Indians o f Inirida w e r e present at mass. ' Y o u r G o d , ' said they to me, 'keeps himself shut up in a house, as if he were old and infirm ; ours is in the forest, in the fields, and on the mountains o f Sipapu, whence the rains come.'" A m o n g the more n u m e r o u s , and on this a c c o u n t less barbarous tribes, religious societies o f a singular kind


THE SACKED TRUMPET.

363

arc forinoci. Sonic old Indians pretend to be b e t t e r i n structed than others on points regarding d i v i n i t y ; and t o t h e m is confided the famous botuto, o f which I have s p o k e n , and which is sounded u n d e r the palm-trees that t h e y may bear abundance o f fruit. O n the hanks o f the O r i n o c o there exists no idol, as a m o n g all the nations w h o have remained faithful to the first worship o f nature, b u t the bollito, the sacred t r u m p e t , is an object o f veneration. To b e initiated into the mysteries o f the botuto, it is requisite t o b e o f p u r e morals, and t o have lived single. T h e initiated are subjected to flagellations, fastings, and other painful e x ercises. T h e r e are but a small n u m b e r o f these sacred t r u m p e t s . T h e m o s t anciently celebrated is that u p o n a hill near the confluence o f the T o m o and the Guainia. It is pretended, that it is heard at once on the hanks o f t h e T u a m i n i , and at the mission o f San M i g u e l de D a v i p e , a distance o f ten leagues. Father C e r e s o assured us, that t h e Indians speak of the botuto o f T o m o as an object of worship c o m m o n to many surrounding tribes. F r u i t and intoxicating liquors are placed beside the sacred trumpet. Sometimes the Great Spirit himself makes the botuto r e s o u n d ; sometimes he is c o n t e n t to manifest his will through him t o whom the keeping o f the instrument, is entrusted. These juggleries being very ancient (from the fathers o f our fathers, say the Indians), we must, not be surprised that some u n believers are already t o b o f o u n d ; b u t they express t h e i r disbelief o f the mysteries o f the botuto only in whispers. W o m e n are n o t permitted t o see this marvellous instrum e n t ; and are excluded from all the ceremonies o f this w o r ship. If a woman have the misfortune to see the t r u m p e t , she is put to death without m e r c y . T h e missionary related t o us, that in 1798 be was happy e n o u g h to save a y o u n g girl, whom a jealous and vindictive lover accused o f having followed, from a motive o f curiosity, the Indians who s o u n d e d the botuto in the plantations. " T h e y would not have m u r dered her p u b l i c l y , " said father C e s e r o , " b u t h o w was she t o be protected from the fanatacism o f the natives, in a c o u n t r y w h e r e it is so easy to give poison ? T h e y o u n g girl told m o o f her fears, and I sent her to o n e of the missions o f the Lower Orinoco." I f the people o f G u i a n a had remained


364

ANTIDOTE

AGAINST

SNAKE

BITES.

masters o f that vast c o u n t r y ; if, w i t h o u t having been i m p e ded by Christian settlemonts, they could follow freely the d e v e l o p m e n t o f their barbarous i n s t i t u t i o n s ; the worship o f the botuto would no doubt become o f some political i m portance. That mysterious society of the initialed, those guardians o f the sacred t r u m p e t , would be transformed into a ruling caste of priests, and the oracle of T o m o would gradually form a link between the bordering nations. i n the evening o f the 4th o f May we were informed, that an Indian, who had assisted in dragging o u r bark o v e r the p o r tage o f Pimichin, had been s t u n g by a viper. He was a tall strong man, and was brought to the mission in a very alarming state. He had dropped down senseless; and nausea, vertigo, and c o n g e s t i o n s in the head, had succeeded the fainting. T h e liana called vejuco de guaco,* which M . M u t i s has rendered so celebrated, and which is the m o s t certain remedy for the bite o f v e n o m o u s serpents, is yet u n known in these countries. A number o f Indians hastened to the hut o f the sick man, and he was cured by an infusion o f raiz de mato. W e cannot indicate with certainty what plant furnishes this a n t i d o t e ; but I am inclined t o think, that the raiz de mato is an apocynea, perhaps the Cerbera thevetia, called by the inhabitants of Cumana lingua de mato or contra-culebra, and which they also use against t h e bite o f serpents. A g e n u s nearly allied to the cerb e r a t is employed in India for the same purpose. It is c o m m o n enough to find in the same family of plants vegetable poisons, and antidotes against the venom of reptiles. Many tonics and narcotics are antidotes more or less active ; and we find these in families very different † from each other, in the aristolochia?, the a p o c y n e æ , the gentianæ, the polyeala?, * This is a mikania, which was confounded for sometime in Europe with the ayapana. De Camdolle thinks that the guaco may be the Eupatorium satureiæ folium of Lamarck; but this Eupatorium differs by its lineary LEAVES, while the Mikania guaco has triangular, oval, and very large LEAVES. † Ophioxylon serpentinum. ‡ I shall mention as examples of these nine families ; Aristolochia anguicida, Cerbera thevetia, Ophoiorhiza mungos, Polygala senega, Nicotiana tabacum, (one of the remedies most used in Spanish America), Mikanua guaco, Hibiscus abelmoschus (The seed-, of which are very active), Lanpujum rumphii, and Kunthia montana (Caña de la Vibora).


SUBSTITUTE

FOR

SALT.

365

the solanEæ, the compositæ, the malvaceæ, the drymyrhizeæ?, and, which is still more surprising, even in the palm-trees. In the hut o f the Indian w h o had b e e n so dangerously bitten b y the viper, we f o u n d balls t w o o r three inches in diameter, o f an earthy and impure salt called chici, which is prepared with great care by the natives. A t M a y p u r e s a conferva is burnt, which is left by the O r i n o c o on the neighbouring rocks, when, after high swellings, it again enters its b e d . A t Javita a salt is fabricated by the incineration o f This the spadix and fruit o f the palm-tree seje o r chimu. fine palm-tree, which abounds on the banks o f the A u v a n a , near the cataract of Guarinumo, and between Javita and the Caño Pimichin, appears to be a new species o f c o c o a tree. I t may be recollected, that the fluid contained in the fruit o f the c o m m o n cocoa-tree is often saline, even when the tree g r o w s far from the sea shore. A t Madagascar salt is extracted from the sap o f a palm-tree called viro. Besides the spadix and the fruit o f the seje palm, the Indians o f Javita lixiviate also the ashes o f the famous liana called CUPANA, which is a new species o f the genus paullinia, consequently a very different plant from the c u pania o f Linnæus. I may here mention, that a missionary seldom travels without being provided with some prepared seeds of the cupana. This preparation requires great care. T h e Indians scrape the seeds, mix them with flour o f cassava, envelope the mass in plantain leaves, and set it to ferment in water, till it acquires a saffron-yellow c o l o u r . This yellow paste dried in the sun. and diluted in water, is taken in the morning as a kind o f tea. T h e beverage is bitter and stomachic, but it appeared to me to have a very disagreeable taste. On the banks o f the N i g e r , and in a great part o f the interior o f A frica, where salt is extremely rare, it is said o f a rich man, " h e is so fortunate as to eat salt at his m e a l s . " T h i s g o o d fortune is not t o o c o m m o n in the interior o f Guinna. The whites only, particularly the soldiers o f the little fort o f San Carlos, know how to procure pure salt, either from the coast o f Caracas, o r from C h i t a * b y t h e Rio * North of Morocote, at the eastern declivity of the Cordillera of New Grenada. The salt of the coasts, which the Indians call yuquira, costs two piastres the almuda at San Carlos.


366

SPECIES

OF

BEARS.

Meta. Here, as t h r o u g h o u t America, the Indians eat little meat, and consume scarcely any salt. Th e chivi of Javita is a mixture of muriate o f potash a n d of soda, of caustic lime, and of several oth er earth y salts. Th e Indians dissolve a few particles i n water, fill with this solutio n a leaf of heliconia folded in a conical form, and let drop a little, as from the extremity of a filter, on th eir food. On th e 5th of May we set off, to follow on foot our canoe, which h ad at len gth arrived, by t h e p o r t a g e , at t h e Caño Pimichin. We had t o ford a great n u m b e r o f streams ; and these passages require some caution on account of the vipers with wh ich th e marshes a b o u n d . Th e Indians pointed out to us on the moist clay th e traces of the little black bears so common o n the banks o f the T e m i . T h e y differ at least in size from th e Ursus americanus. Th e missionaries call th em osso carnicero, t o distinguish them from t h e osso palmero or tamanoir ( Myrmecophaga jubata), and from the osso hormigero, or anteater (tamandua). Th e flesh of th ese animals is good to eat ; th e first two defend th emselves by rising on their hin d feet. Th e tamanoir of Buffon is called uaraca by the Indians; it is irascible an d courageous, wh ich is extra­ ordinary in an an imal w i t h o u t teeth. We foun d, as we ad­ vanced, some vistas in th e forest, wh ich appeared to us th e richer, as it b e c a m e m o r e accessible. W e here gath ered some new species of coffee (th e American tribe, with flowers in panicles, forms probably a particular genus) ; th e Galega piscatorum, of wh ich th e Indians make use, as th ey do of jacquinia, and of a composite plan t, of the Rio Temi, as a kind of barbasco, to intoxicate fish ; and finally, th e liana, known in th ose countries by the name of vejuco de mavacure, wh ich yelds th e famous curare poison. It is neith er a phyllant h us, nor a coriaria, as M . Willdenouw conjectured, but, as M . К u n t h ' s researches sh ow, very probably a s t r y c h n o s . We shall h ave occasion, farth er on, to speak of th is venomous substance, wh ich is an important, object of trade among the savages. The trees of th e forest of Pimich in h ave th e gigantic In height of from eigh ty to a h undred and twenty feet. these burning climates th e laurineæ and amyris* furnish * Th e great wh ite and red cedars of these countries are not the Cedrela odorata, but the Amyris altissima, wh ich is an icica of Aublet.


DREAD OF WASP-STINGS.

367

that fine t i m b e r for building, which, on the north-west coast of A m e r i c a , o n mountains where the t h e r m o m e t e r falls in w i n t e r t o 20° c e n t , b e l o w zero, we find in the family o f the coniferæ. S u c h , in every z o n e , and in all the families o f A m e r i c a n plants, is the p r o d i g i o u s force o f vegetation, that, in the latitude o f fifty-seven degrees n o r t h , on t h e same isothermal line with S t . P e t e r s b u r g h and the O r k n e y s , t h e Pinus canadensis displays trunks one hundred and fifty feet high, and six feet in d i a m e t e r . * T o w a r d s night we arrived at a small farm, in the puerto or landing place o f Pimichin. W e were s h o w n a cross near the road, which marked the s p o t " w h e r e a p o o r capuchin missionary had been killed b y wasps." I state this o n t h e authority o f t h e m o n k s o f Javita and the Indians. T h e y talk m u c h in these c o u n t r i e s o f wasps and v e n o m o u s ants, but we saw neither o n e nor t h e o t h e r o f these i n s e c t s . I t is well k n o w n that in the t o r r i d zone slight stings often cause fits o f fever almost as violent as those that, with us accompany severe organic injuries. T h e death o f this poor monk was probably the effect of fatigue and d a m p , rather than o f the venom contained in the stings of wasps, which the Indians dread e x t r e m e l y . W e must n o t c o n f o u n d the wasps o f Javita with the melipones bees, called by the Spaniards angelitos (little angels) which covered o u r faces and hands on the summit of the Silla de Caracas. T h e landing place o f Pimichin is surrounded by a small plantation o f caaco-trees ; they are very vigorous, and here, as on the b a n k s o f the A t a b a p o a n d the Guainia, t h e y are loaded with flowers and fruits at all seasons. They begin t o boar from the fourth y e a r ; on the coast o f Caracas they d o n o t bear till the sixth o r eighth year. T h e soil o f these countries is sandy, wherever it, is not marshy ; b u t the light lands o f the Tuamini and Pimichin are extremely p r o d u c A r o u n d the conucos o f Pimichin g r o w s , in its wild tive†. * Langsdorf informs, us that the inhabitants of Norfolk Sound make boats of a single trunk, fifty feet long, four feet and a half broad, and three high at the sides. They contain thirty persons. These boats remind us of the canoes of the Rio Chagres in the isthmus of Panama, in the torrid zone. The Populus balsamifera also attains an immense height, on the mountains that border Norfolk Sound. † At Javita, an extent of fifty feet square, planted with Jatropha manihot (yucca) yields in two years, in the worst soil, a harvest of six tortas of cassava : the same extent on a middling soil yields in fourteen


368

VEGETABLE

MILK.

state, the igua, a tre e re se mbling the Caryocar nucife rum, which is cultivate d in Dutch and Fre nch Guiana, and which, with the almedron of Mariquita (Caryocar amygdalife rum), the juvia of the Esme ralda (Be rtholle tia e xce lsa), and the : Geoffrœa of the Amazon, yie lds the fine st almonds of all South A m e r i c a . N o c o m m e r c i a l advantage is here m a d e of the igua ; but I saw vessels arrive on t h e c o a s t of Te rra Firma, that came from De me rara lade n with the fruit of the Caryocar tome ntosum, which is the Pe ke a tube rculosa of A u b l e t . Th e es tre e s re ach a hundre d fe e t in height, and present, by the be auty of the ir corolla, and the multitude of their stame ns, a magnifice nt appe arance . I should we ary the re ade r by continuing the e nume ration of the ve ge table wonders which the se vast fore sts contain. Th e ir varie ty depends on the coe xiste nce of such a gre at numbe r of fami­ lies in a small space of ground, on the stimulating powe r of light and he at, and on the pe rfe ct e laboration of the juices that circulate in the se gigantic plants. W e passe d the night in a hut late ly abandone d by an Indian family, who had le ft be hind the m the ir fishing­ tackle, potte ry, ne ts made of the pe tiole s of palm­tre e s; in short, all that compose s the house hold furniture of that careless racе of me n, little attache d to prope rty. A gre at store of mаni (a mixture of the re sin of the moronobœa and the Amyris caraña) was accumulate d round the house . This is use d by the Indians he re , as at Caye nne , to pitch their canoe s, and fix the bony spine s of the ray at the points of the ir arrows. W e found in the same place jars fille d with a ve ge table milk, which se rve s as a varnish, and is ce le brate d in the missions by the name of leche para pintar* (milk for painting). The y coat with this viscous juice those arti cles months a produce of nine tortas. In an excellent soil, around clumps of mauritia, there is every year from fifty feet square a produce of thirte e n or fourteen tortas. A torta weighs three quarters of a pound, and there tortas cost generally in the province of Caracas one silver rial, or one. eiglith of a piastre-. The se statements appear to me to be of some importance, when we wish to compare the nutritive matte r which man can obtain from the same extent of soil, by covering it, in different climates, with bread-trees, plantains, jatropha, maize , potatoe s, rice, and corn. The tardine ss of the harvest of jatropha has. I believe, a beneficial influence on the manners of the natives, by fixing them to the soil, and compelling them to sojourn long on the same spot.


369

ABUNDANCE OF SERPENTS.

of furniture to which they wish to give a fine white colour. It thickens by the contact of the air, without growing yellow, and it appears singularly glossy. We have already mentioned that the caoutchouc is the oily part, the butter of all vegetable milk. It is, no doubt, a particular modification of caoutchouc that forms this coagulum, this white and glossy skin, that seems as if covered with copal varnish. If different colours could be given to this milky varnish, a very expeditious method would be found of painting and varnishing our carriages by one process. The more we study vegetable chemistry in the torrid zone, the more we shall discover, in remote spots, and half-prepared in the organs of plants, products which we believe belong only to the animal kingdom, or which we obtain by processes which are often tedious and difficult. Already we have found the wax that coats the palm-tree of the Andes of Quindiu, the silk of the palm-tree of Mocoa, the nourishing milk of the palo de vaca, the butter-free of Africa, and the caseous substances obtained from the almost animalized sap of the Carica papaya. These discoveries will be multiplied, when, as the political state of the world seems now to indicate, European civilization shall flow in a great measure toward the equinoctial regions o f the New Continent. The marshy tract between Javita and the embarcadero of Pimichin is infested with great numbers of vipers. Before we took possession of the deserted hut, the Indians killed two great mapanare serpents.* These grow to four or live feet long. They appeared to me to be the same species as those I saw in the Rio Magdalena. This serpent is a beautiful animal, but extremely venomous, white on the belly, and spotted with brown and red on the back. As the inside of the hut was filled with grass, and we were lying on the ground, there being no means of suspending our hammocks, we were not without inquietude during the night. In the morning a large viper was found on lifting the jaguar-skin upon which one of our domestics had slept. * This name is given in the Spanish colonies to very different species. The Coluber mapanare of the province of Caracas has one hundred and forty-two ventral plates, and thirty-eight double caudal scales. The Coluber mapanare of the Rio Magdalena has two hundred and eight ventral plates, and sixty-four double caudal scales.

VOL. II.

2 B


370

THE CANO PIMICHIN.

The Indiana say that these reptiles, slow in their m o v e ments when they are not pursued, creep near a man because they a r e fond of heat. In fact, on the banks of the Magdalena a serpent entered t h e bed of one of our fellow-travellers, and remained there a part of the night, without injuring him. Without wishing to take; up the defence of vipers and rattlesnakes, I believe it may be affirmed t h a t , if these venomous animals had such a disposition f o r offence a s i s supposed, the human species would certainly n o t have withstood their numbers in some parts of America; for instance, on the banks of the Orinoco and the humid mountains of Choco. W e embarked on the 8th of May at sunrise, after having I t had becarefully examined the bottom of our canoe. come thinner, b u t had received n o c r a c k i n t h e portage. W e reckoned that it would still bear the voyage of three hundred leagues, which we had yet to perform, in going down the Rio Negro, ascending the Cassiquiare, and redescending the Orinoco as far as Angostura. The Pimichin, which is called a rivulet (ca単o) is tolerably broad; but small trees that love the water narrow the bed so much that there remains open a channel of only fifteen or twenty toises. N e x t t o the Rio Chagres this river is one of the most celebrated in America for t h e number of its windings: it is said to have eighty-live, which great lengthen it. They often form right angles, and occur every two or three leagues. To determine the difference of longitude between the landing-place and the point where we were to enter the Rio N e g r o , I t o o k by the compass the course o f t h e Ca単o Pimichin, and noted the time during which w e followed the same direction. The velocity of the current was only 2 4 feet in a second; but our canoe made by rowing 4.6 feet. The embarcadero of the Pimichin appeared to me to be eleven thousand toises west of its mouth, and 0属 2' west of the mission of Javita. This Ca単o is navigable during the whole year, and has but one raudal, which is somewhat difficult t o go up; its banks are low. but rocky. After having followed the windings of the Pimichin for four hours and a half we at length entered the Rio Negro. The morning was cool and beautiful. W e had now been confined thirty-six days in a narrow boat, so unsteady that


BANKS

OF

THE

371

CASSIQUIARE.

it would have b e e n overset b y any person rising i m p r u dently from his seat, without warning the rowers. We had suffered severely from t h e sting of insects, b u t w e had withstood the insalubrity o f the c l i m a t e ; we had passed without accident t h e great n u m b e r of waterfalls and bars, which impede the navigation o f the rivers, and often render it more dangerous than l o n g voyages b y sea. A f t e r all w e had e n d u r e d , it m a y b e c o n c e i v e d that w e felt no little satisfaction in having reached the tributary streams o f t h e A m a z o n , having passed the isthmus that separates t w o great systems o f rivers, and in b e i n g sure o f having fulfilled t h e m o s t i m p o r t a n t o b j e c t o f o u r j o u r n e y , namely, t o d e t e r m i n e astronomically t h e course o f that arm o f t h e O r i n o c o which falls into the Rio N e g r o , and o f which t h e e x i s t e n c e has been alternately proved and denied d a r i n g half a c e n In p r o p o r t i o n as w e draw near to an object w e have tury. long had in view, its interest seems to a u g m e n t . T h e uninhabited banks o f the Cassiquiare, covered with forests, without memorials of t i m e s p a s t , then o c c u p i e d m y imagination, as do now the banks of the Euphrates, o r the O x u s , in that i n celebrated in t h e annals of civilized nations. terior part o f t h e New Continent o n e may almost a c c u s t o m o n e self to regard men as not being essential to the o r d e r o f nature. T h e earth is loaded with plants, and nothing impedes their free d e v e l o p m e n t . An immense layer o f mould manifests the uninterrupted action o f organic powers. C r o c o d i l e s and boas are masters of t h e r i v e r ; t h e jaguar, the p e c c a r y , t h e dante, and t h e m o n k e y s traverse the forest without fear and without d a n g e r ; there they dwell as in an ancient inheritance. T h i s aspect o f animated nature, in winch man is nothing, has s o m e t h i n g in it strange and sad. T o this we reconcile ourselves, with difficulty on the ocean, and amid the sands o f A f r i c a ; t h o u g h in scenes where nothing recalls t o mind our fields, o u r w o o d s , and o u r streams, w e are less astonished at the vast solitude t h r o u g h which we pass. H e r e , in a fertile c o u n t r y , adorned with eternal verdure, we seek in vain the traces o f t h e p o w e r o f m a n ; we seem to be transported into a world different from that which gave u s b i r t h . These impressions are the more powerful in p r o p o r t i o n as they are of l o n g duration. A soldier, w h o had s p e n t his w h o l e

2

B

2


372

THE

RIO

NEGRO.

life in the missions of t h e U p p e r O r i n o c o , slept with us on the bank o f the river. He was an intelligent man, w h o , during a calm and serene night, pressed me with questions on the m a g n i t u d e o f the stars, on the inhabitants o f t h e m o o n , on a thousand subjects o f which I was as ignorant as himself. Being unable by m y answers to satisfy his curiosity, he said to me in a firm tone of the most positive c o n v i c t i o n : ' ' w i t h respect to men, I believe there are no more up there than y o u would have found if y o u had g o n e by land from Javita to Cassiquiare. I think I see in the stars, as here, a plain covered with grass, and a forest ( m u c h o m o n t e ) traversed by a r i v e r . " I n citing these w o r d s I paint the impression produced by the m o n o t o n o u s aaspect o f those solitary regions. May this m o n o t o n y not be found t o e x t e n d to t h e journal of o u r navigation, and weary the reader accustomed to the description o f the scenes and his­ torical memorials o f the old continent !

СHAPTER

XXIII.

The- Rio Negro.— Boundaries ofBrazil.—TheCassiquiare—Bifurcationof the Orinoco. The Rio Negro, compared to the Amazon, the Rio de l a Plata, or the Orinoco, is but a river of the second order. Its possession has been forages of great political importance to the Spanish Government, because it is capable of furnish­ ing a rival power, Portugal, with an easy passage into the missions of Guiana, and thereby disturbing the Capitania general of Caracas in its southern limits. Three hundred years have been spent in vain territorial disputes. Accord­ ing to the difference of times, and the degree of civilization among the natives, resource has been had sometimes to the authority of the hope, and sometimes the support o f astronomy; and the disputants being generally more inte­ rested in prolonging than in terminating the struggle, the nautical sciences and the geography of the New Continent, have alone gained by this interminable litigation. When the affairs of Paraguay, and the possession of the colony of Del Sacramento, became of great importance to the c o u r t s


BOUNDARIES OF BRAZIL.

373

o f M a d r i d and L i s b o n , c o m m i s s i o n e r s of the boundaries were sent to t h e O r i n o c o , t h e A m a z o n , a n d the Rio Plata. T h e little that was k n o w n , u p to t h e e n d of t h e last c e n tury, o f t h e astronomical g e o g r a p h y o f t h e interior o f t h e N e w C o n t i n e n t , was o w i n g t o these estimable and laborious men, t h e French and Spanish academicians, w h o measured a meridian line at Quito, and t o officers w h o w e n t from V a l paraiso to Buenos Ayres to j o i n the expedition o f Malaspina. T h o s e persons w h o know the inaccuracy o f the maps o f South A m e r i c a , and have seen those uncultivated lands between t h e J u p u r a and t h e Rio N e g r o , t h e M a d e i r a and the Ucayale, t h e Rio Branco and t h e coasts o f C a y e n n e , which up t o o u r own days have been gravely disputed in E u r o p e , can must not a little surprised at the p e r s e verance with which t h e possession o f a few square leagues is litigated. T h e s e disputed g r o u n d s are generally separated from t h e cultivated part o f t h e colonies b y deserts, the

extent

o f which is unknown.

In t h e celebrated con-

ferences of P u e n t o de C a y a t h e question was agitated, whether, in living the line o f demarcation three hundred and seventy Spanish leagues t o t h e w e s t o f t h e Cape V e r d e Islands, the pope meant that the first meridian should be reckoned from the c e n t r e o f the island o f St. Nicholas, o r (as the c o u r t o f Portugal asserted) from the western e x t r e mity o f the little island o f St. A n t o n i o . In the year 1754, the time o f t h e expedition o f Iturriaga and Solano, n e g o c i a tions were entered into respecting the possession o f t h e then desert banks o f the Tuamini, and o f a marshy tract which we crossed in o n e evening g o i n g from Javita t o Ca単o Pimichin. T h e Spanish commissioners very recently w o u l d have placed the divisional line at t h e point where t h e A p o p o r i s falls into the Jupura, while the Portuguese astron o m e r s carried it back as far as Salto G r a n d e . T h e Rio N e g r o and the Jupuro are t w o tributary streams o f the A m a z o n , and may b e c o m p a r e d in length t o the D a n u b e . The u p p e r parts b e l o n g t o the Spaniards, while the lower are o c c u p i e d by the Portuguese. T h e Christian settlements arc very numerous from M o c o a t o the m o u t h o f the Caguan ; while on the L o w e r Jupura the Portuguese have founded only a few villages. O n t h e Rio N e g r o , on the contrary, the Spaniards have not b e e n able to rival


374

FRONTIER POSTS.

their neighbours. Steppes and forests nearly desert s e p a rate, at a distance of one hundred and sixty leagues, the cultivated part of the coast from the four missions of Marsa, Tomo. Davipe, and San Carlos, which are all that the Spanish Franciscans could establish along the Rio Negro. Among the Portuguese of Brazil the military system, that of presides and capitanes pobladores, has prevailed over the government of the missionaries, Grand Para is no doubt far distant from the mouth of the Rio Negro: but the facility of navigatio on the Amazon, which rains like an immense canal in one direction from west to cast, has enabled the Portuguese population to extend itself rapidly along the river. The banks of the Lower Marañon, from Vistoza as far as Serpa, as well as those of the Rio Negro from Fort da Para to San Jose da Maravitanos, are embellished b y rich cultivation, and by a great number o f large villages and towns. These local considerations are combined with others, suggested by the moral position of nations. The northwest coast of America furnishes to this day no other stable settlements but Russian and Spanish colonies. Before the inhabitants of the United States, in their progressive movement from east to west, could reach the shore between the latitude 41° and 50° , which long separated the Spanish monks and the Siberian hunters* the latter had established themselves south of the »'•/'• >• Hf. River. Thus in N e w California the Franciscan missionares, men estimable for their morals, and their agricultural activity, learnt with astonishment, that Greek priests had arrived in t heir neighbourhood ; and that two nations, who inhabit the eastern and western extremities of Europe, were become neighbours on a coast of America opposite to China. In Guiana circumstances were very different: the Spaniards found on their frontiers those very Portuguese, who, by their language, and their municipal institutions, form with them one of the most, noble remains of Roman Europe; but whom mistrust, founded on unequal strength, and too great * The hunters connected with military posts, and dependent on the Russian Company, of which the principal shareholders live at Irkutsk. In 1804 the little fortress (krepost) at the hay of Jakutal was still six hundred leagues distant from the most northern Mexican possessions.


MUTUAL

DISTRUST.

375

proximity, has converted into an often hostile, and always rival power. I f two nations adjacent to each other in Europe, the Spaniards and the Portuguese, have alike become neighbours in the New Continent, they are indebted for that circumstance to the spirit of enterprise and active courage which both displayed at the period of their military glory and political greatness. The Castilian language is now spoken in North and South America throughout an extent of more than one thousand nine hundred leagues in length; if, however, we consider South America apart, we there find the Portuguese language spread over a larger space of ground, and spoken by a smaller number of individuals than the Castilian. It w o u l d seem as if the bond that so closely connects the line languages of Camoëns and Lope de Vega, had served only to separate two nations, who have become neighbours against their will. National hatred is not modified solely by a diversity of origin, of manners, and of progress in civilization ; whenever it is powerful, it must be considered as the effect of geographical situation, and the conflicting interests thence resulting. Nations detest each other the less, in proportion as they are distant; and when, their languages being radically different, they do not even attempt to combine together. Travellers who have passed through New California, the interior provinces of Mexico, and the northern frontiers of Brazil, have been struck by these shades in the moral dispositions of bordering nations. When I was in the Spanish Rio Negro, the divergent politics of the courts of Lisbon and Madrid had augmented that system of mistrust which, even in calmer times, the commanders of petty neighbouring forts love to encourage. Boats went up from Barcelos as far as the Spanish missions, but the communications were of rare occurrence. A com. mandant with sixteen or eighteen soldiers wearied ‘the garrison' by measures of safety, which were dictated ‘ by the important state of affairs;' if he were at lacked, he hoped to ‘ surround the enemy.’ When we spoke of the indifference with which the Portuguese government doubtless regarded the four little villages founded by the monks of Saint Francisco, on the Upper Guainia, the inhabitants


376

NATIONAL ANIMOSITIES.

were

hurt

b y the m o t i v e s

to give them vigour,

confidence.

which A

impassioned,

feeling,

in t h e

founded

on

in

the consciousness and

affections,

antiquated

t h e most

not

t h e view

preserved in

remote

in

effaced

ceases.

where

Whatever

of

energetic that

are

constitutes

the mother-country

and national

the influence

W e k n o w , from

of an hatreds

rival

prejudices.

colonies;

hatred,

T h e m i n d d e l i g h t s in e v e r y ­

t h e individuality o f n a t i o n s f l o w s from to

with

w h o have

t h r o u g h t h e r e v o l u t i o n s o f a g e s , a national

like o c c a s i o n s o f g i v i n g it v e n t . thing

w e alleged

people

a n t i p a t h i e s are

the same

the interesting

languages

narrative

of K r u -

s e n s t e r n ' s v o y a g e , that t h e hat red o f t w o fugitive sailors, o n e a Frenchman of

a long

Islands. the

and t h e o t h e r an Kiiglishinan, was t h e c a u s e

war b e t w e e n O n the banks

Indians

of the neighbouring

villages d e t e s t the

the inhabitants

each

ether.

bank

Marquesas

Portuguese

These

poor

and Spanish

people speak

only

are i g n o r a n t o f w h a t p a s s e s

native t o n g u e s ; they

the o t h e r

o f the

o f t h e A m a z o n a n d t h e Rio N e g r o ,

of the ocean, beyond

the great

‘on

salt-pool;’

b u t the' g o w n s o f t h e i r m i s s i o n a r i e s are o f a different, c o l o u r , and this displeases t h e m e x t r e m e l y . I have s t o p p e d ties, which have

been

t o paint

t h e effects

wise s t a t e s m e n unable

o f national

have e n d e a v o u r e d

entirely to set at rest.

animosi­

T h i s rivalry has know­

c o n t r i b u t e d t o t h e imperfection o f t h e g e o g r a p h i c a l ledge the

hitherto obtained Amazon.

When

respecting

but

to calm,

t h e tributary

the communications

of

rivers o f

the

natives

art• i m p e d e d , a n d o n e nation is e s t a b l i s h e d

near

the mouth,

and

sаmе

river,

another

difficult

for

acquire

precise

in

the upper

рrsons

part

o f the

who attempt

information.

and still m o r e t h e рortages,

to construct

T h e periodical

b y which

boats

it is

maps

to

inundations,

are passed

from

o n e stream to a n o t h e r , the source's o f which are in t h e s a m e neighbourhood,

have

led to e r r o n e o u s

c a t i o n s a n d b r a n c h i n g s o f rivers. tuguese

missions,

for i n s t a n c e , e n t e r

upon the s p o t ) the Spanish Rio on

Guainia the

the

of t h e

(as

Negro

I

bifur­

of the

was

Por­

informed

on o n e side

by t h e

a n d t h e Rio T o m o ; a n d t h e U p p e r O r i n o c o

o t h e r , by the

Pacimoni,

Rio

ideas

T h e Indians

Idapa,

portages

between

and the Macava,

the Cababuri, the to g a t h e r

matic s e e d s o f the p u c h e r o laurel b e y o n d the

the aro­

Esmeralda.


CONFUSION OF NAMES.

377

T h e Indians, I repeat, are excellent g e o g r a p h e r s ; t h e y outflank t h e e n e m y , notwithstanding the limits traced u p o n the maps, in spite o f the forts and the estacamentos; and w h e n t h e missionaries see them arrive from such distances, a n d in different seasons, they begin to frame hypotheses o f supposed c o m m u n i c a t i o n s o f rivers. E a c h party has an interest in concealing what it k n o w s with c e r t a i n t y ; and t h a t love o f the mysterious, so general a m o n g the ignorant, c o n t r i b u t e s t o p e r p e t u a t e the d o u b t . I t m a y also b e observed that the various Indian nations, who frequent this labyrinth o f rivers, give them names entirely different; a n d that these names are disguised and lengthened b y terminations that signify ' w a t e r , ' ' great water,' a n d ' c u r r e n t . ' How o f t e n hare I been p e r p l e x e d b y t h e necessity o f settling the s y n o n y m e s o f rivers, w h e n I have sent for t h e most intelligent natives, t o interrogate them, through an interpreter, respecting the n u m b e r o f tributary streams, the sources o f the rivers, and the portages. T h r e e o r four languages being spoken in the s a m e mission, it is difficult t o make the witnesses agree. O u r maps are loaded with names arbitrarily shortened o r perverted. T o examine h o w far they may be accurate, we must be guided by the g e o graphical situation o f the continent rivers, I might almost say by a certain etymological tact. T h e Rio U a u p e , o r U a p e s o f the P o r t u g u e s e maps, is the Guapue o f the Spanish maps, and the Ucavari of t h e natives. T h e A n a v a of the old g e o g r a p h e r s is the A n a u a b u o f A r r o w s m i t h , and the Uanauhau or Guanauhu o f the Indians. The desire o f leaving n o void in the maps, in o r d e r t o g i v e t h e m an appearance o f accuracy, has caused rivers to be created, to which names have been applied that have n o t been recognized as s y n o n y m o u s . I t is only lately that travellers in America, in Persia, and in the Indies, have felt the importance o f being correct in the denomination o f places. W h e n we read the travels o f Sir W a l t e r Raleigh, it is difficult indeed to recognise in the ‘ lake o f M r e c a b o ’ t h e laguna o f Maracaybo, and in t h e ‘ M a r q u i s Paraco’ t h e name o f Pizarro, the destroyer o f the empire o f t h e Incas. T h e great tributary streams o f the Amazon are d e s i g nated by the missionaries by different names in their upper


378

LOCATION OF EL DORADO.

and l o w e r c o u r s e .

The Iza is called, h i g h e r u p , Putumayo;

the Jupura t o w a r d s its source The researches the

real

made

origin

hears

o f the Rio Negro

fruitless

because

known.

I h e a r d it called G u a i n i a

San

Carlos.

the name of Caqueta.

in t h e m i s s i o n s o f t h e Andaquies o n

t h e Indian

Southey,

have

name

been

the

more

o f t h e river was un­ a t Javita,

in his history

of

Maroa, and

Brazil,

says

ex­

pressly that the Rio Negro, in the lower part of its course, is called

Guiani,

part, U e n e y a .

or Curana,

by t h e n a t i v e s ;

in t h e u p p e r

It is t h e word G u e n e y a , instead o f Guainia;

for the I n d i a n s o f t h o s e c o u n t r i e s say indifferently Guaranacua o r Ouaranacua, G u a r a p o or Uarapo. The s o u r c e s of

contention

this

o f t h e Rio Negro among

question

origin

have l o n g been an o b j e c t

geograpers.

is n o t m e r e l y

T h e interest

that

which

we feel in

attaches

to the

o f all g r e a t rivers, but is c o n n e c t e d w i t h a crowd of

o t h e r q u e s t i o n s , that c o m p r e h e n d t h e s u p p o s e d

bifurcations

o f the C a q u e t a , t h e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s b e t w e e n t h e Rio N e g r o and

the Orinoco,

merly

called

When

we

a n d t h e local

study

c o u n t r i e s , and

fable o f El D o r a d o ,

or the empire

Enim,

with

care

of the Grand

the

ancient

maps

t h e history of their g e o g r a p h i c a l

for­

Paytiti. of

these

errors, w e

sее h o w by d e g r e e s t h e fable o f El D o r a d o

has been

ported t o w a r d s t h e

of the Orinoco.

west

with

t h e sources

trans­

It w a s a t first fixed on the e a s t e r n declivity of the Andes, to t h e s o u t h - w e s t

of the Rio Negro.

de Urre s o u g h t

for t h e great

the

Even

Guaviare.

Maravitanos

relate

T h e valiant

now the Indians

that, " o n

Philip

city o f M a n n a by t r a v e r s i n g sailing

o f S a n Jose de

t o t h e north-east for

fifteen d a y s , on t h e G u a p e or U a u p e , y o u reach a famous laguna de oro, s u r r o u n d e d

by m o u n t a i n s , and

t h e o p p o s i t e s h o r e cannot be d i s c e r n e d . the G u a n o s , d o not sandy the Rio in

permit

t h e collecting

plain that s u r r o u n d s the l a k e .

lake 1687,

Some

several

Manoa

slips

o f beaten

name o f which is still k n o w n between

Lamalongo

La C o n d a m i n e between

Indians

s o large

o f the g o l d

the C a q u e t a ,

of a

the Jupura and

brought gold.

Father

This

the

Fritz,

n a t i o n , the

on t h e b a n k s of t h e Urarira,

a n d M o r e i r a , d w e l t on t h e

is right

that

ferocious n a t i o n ,

F a t h e r A c u n h a places

M a n o a . o r Yenefiti, b e t w e e n

Negro.

A

in s a y i n g

that t h i s

the R i o N e g r o ,

Yurubesh.

Mesopotamia,

the Yurubesh, and


379

SOURCES OF THE RIO NEGRО. the I q u i a r e , w a s t h e first

s c e n e o f El D o r a d o .

shall

of

w e find

the names

the Fathers Acunha

by

them

in t h e rivers

script Portuguese

and

which

I

B u t where

Iquiare,

think

I

Iguari,* on s o m e

I possess.

I

given

recognise manu­

have l o n g a n d

the geography of South America, north

o f t h e A m a z o n , from rials.

and

and Fritz?

Urubaxi

maps

assiduously studied

Yurubesh

ancient

maps

and u n p u b l i s h e d

mate­

D e s i r o u s t h a t m y work s h o u l d preserve t h e c h a r a c t e r

o f a scientific

performance, I

of subjects

treating

ought

on which

I

n o t to hesitate

flatter m y s e l f

t h r o w s o m e light ; n a m e l y , o n t h e q u e s t i o n s sources

of the

Rio

Negro

nication

between

problem

of the auriferous

these

respecting t h e

and the Orinoco, the commu­

rivers

and the A m a z o n ,

soil, which

tants o f t h e New World

about

t h a t I can

so much

and the

has c o s t t h e i n h a b i ­

suffering

a n d so m u c h

blood. In

t h e d i s t r i b u t i o n o f t h e w a t e r s c i r c u l a t i n g o n the

face

o f t h e globe, as well

bodies, selves for all

nature; h a s p u r s u e d

has been

than

as i n t h e structure

to

the

believed

be guided marvellous.

a much

vague

We

course

conceptions

find,

the exceptions t o t h e laws

inferior of America

less complicated

by t h o s e w h o have suffered

by

t o o , that

furnishes

in t h e o l d w o r l d ,

l i t t l e n e s s , have less s t r u c k

posed

b u t that

these

phenomena,

the imagination

of

W h e n i m m e n s e rivers may be c o n s i d e r e d as c o m ­

o f several

parallel

furrows

o f unequal

depth;

t h e s e rivers are n o t e n c l o s e d in v a l l e y s ; a n d w h e n rior o f t h e g r e a t c o n t i n e n t with

that t h e

p h e n o m e n a equally e x ­

from

travellers.

taste

o f hydrography, which t h e

traordinary their

and a

plan them­

all a n o m a l i e s ,

d i s p l a y s , are merely a p p a r e n t ;

of running waters

sur­

o f organic

u s ; the

when

the inte­

is as flat a s t h e s h o r e s o f t h e s e a

ramifications,

t h e b i f u r c a t i o n s , a n d t h e inter-

l a c i n g s in t h e form of n e t - w o r k , must be infinitely m u l t i p i e d . From what we k n o w o f t h e equilibrium o f t h e seas. I cannot think than

that

the

N e w World

t h e O l d , and that

issued

organic

life

from

t h e waters

is t h e r e

later

younger, or

m o r e recent; b u t w i t h o u t a d m i t t i n g o p p o s i t i o n s b e t w e e n the * It may be written Urubaji. The j and the x were the same as the German ch to Father Fritz. The Urubaxi, or Hyurubaxi (Yurubesh), falls into the Rio Negro near Santa Isabella ; the Iguari (Iquiare ?) runs into the Issana, which in also a tributary of the Rio Negro.


380

СHANGE

two in

hemispheres the

systems from

of

one

dence. the

of

hemisphere

the

another,

and

deposits

and

establish

of

in w a t e r s

their

m u d , which

lose

augment

deposits

entirely

narrow

the

streams.

the

somewhat

of

their

channels

that

accumulation

e a r t h , and

points

of

new

the

great hut

branches

connect

bars,

the

confluent at

length

of t h e

rivers

neighbouring

by r a i n - w a t e r s

isthmuses

of

division that did not before

h e n c e results that t h e s e natural c h a n n e l s are by d e g r e e s divided

wherever

their swiftness, con-

of

the

indepen­

formed

inundations;

obstruct

different

themselves

complete

are

T h e substances washed down

their

by

abundant

no d o u b t , t o raise t h e b e d s

streams, and

s a m e p l a n e t , w e may c o n c e i v e t h a t

most

running waters

these

RIVER-COURSES.

rivers required m o r e t i m e t o s e p a r a t e

The

tribute,

OF

of

into t w o tributary

form

deposited exist.

It

communication

s t r e a m s , and

from

t h e effect o f a t r a n s v e r s e rising, acquire t w o o p p o s i t e slopes ; a

part

of

recipient,

their w a t e r s is t u r n e d back t o w a r d s and

a

buttress

rises

between

b a s i n s , which o c c a s i o n s all t r a c e s cation to disappear,

from

t h i s period time

the

principal

two

o f t h e i r ancient

l o n g e r c o n n e c t different s y s t e m s o f c o n t i n u e to t a k e place at t h e

the

the

parallel

communi­

bifurcations

no

rivers;

and, where they

o f great

i n u n d a t i o n s , we

see that the waters d i v e r g e from t h e principal r e c i p i e n t o n l y to

enter

it

again

after

a longer

or

shorter circuit.

The

l i m i t s , which at first appeared v a g u e and u n c e r t a i n , b e g i n be f i x e d ; ever

a n d in t h e lapse of a g e s , from the action

is m o v e a b l e on t h e surface o f

t h e w a t e r s , t h e d e p o s i t s , and s e p a r a t e , as

great

lose t h e i r ancient

the

globe,

from

of

that

the sands, the basins of

lakes are s u b d i v i d e d , a n d

to

what­ of

rivers

as inland

seas

communications.*

T h e c e r t a i n t y a c q u i r e d by g e o g r a p h e r s since the s i x t e e n t h century, mutual

of

the

existence

dependence

America,

have

led

of

of

several

various

them

to

bifurcations,

systems

admit

an

of

and

rivers in

the

South

intimate connection

* The geological constitution of the soil seems to indicate that, not withstanding the actual difference of level in their waters, the Black Sea, the Caspian, and lake Aral, communicated with each other in an era anterior to historic times. The overflowing of the Aral into the Caspian Seaseemseven to be partly of a more recent date, and independent of the bifurcation of the Gihon (Oxus), on which one of the most learned geo­ graphers of our day, M . Ritter, has thrown new light.


SOURCE OF THE GREAT

STREAMS.

381

between the five great tributary streams o f the O r i n o c o and the Amazon ; the Guaviare, the Inirida, the Rio N e g r o , t h e Caqueta or Hyapura, and the P u t u m a y o or Iza. T h e M e t a , the Guaviare, t h e Caqueta, and t h e P u t u m a y o , are the only great rivers that rise immediately from t h e eastern declivity o f the A n d e s o f Santa FÊ, Popayan, and Pasto. T h e Vichada, the Zatna, the Inirida, the Rio N e g r o , the Uaupe, and the A p o p o r i s , which are marked in our maps as extending west ward as far as the mountains, take rise a t a great distance from them, either in the savannahs b e t w e e n t h e M e t a and the Guaviare, o r in the m o u n t a i n o u s c o u n t r y which, according t o the information given me by the natives, begins at four or live days' j o u r n e y westward o f the missions o f Javita and Maroa, and extends through the Sierra T u h u n y , beyond the Xiè towards the banks o f the Issana. It is remarkable that this ridge o f the Cordilleras, which contains t h e sources o f so m a n y majestic rivers, (the M e t a , the Guaviare, the Caqueta, and the Putumayo,) is as little covered with snow as the mountains o f A b y s s i n i a f r o m which flow the waters o f the B l u e N i l e ; b u t , on t h e c o n trary, on g o i n g up the tributary streams which furrow t h e plains, a volcano is found still in activity, before y o u reach the Cordillera o f the A n d e s . This phenomenon was d i s c o vered by the Franciscan monks, who g o down from Ceja b y the Rio Fragua to Caqueta. A solitary hill, emitting s m o k e night and day, is f o u n d o n the north-east o f the mission of Santa Rosa, and west of the Puerto del Pescado. This is the effect o f a lateral action o f the volcanos o f Popayan and Pasto as G u a c a m a y o and Sangay, situated also at the foot o f the eastern declivity o f the A n d e s , are the effect o f a lateral action p r o d u c e d by the system o f the volcanos o f Q u i t o . A f t e r having closely inspected the banks o f t h e O r i n o c o and the Rio N e g r o , where the granite everywhere pierces the s o i l ; when we reflect on the total absence o f volcanos in Brazil, Guiana, on the coast o f Venezuela, and perhaps in all that part o f the c o n t i n e n t l y i n g eastward o f the A n d e s ; we contemplate with interest the three burning volcanos situated near the sources o f the Caqueta, the N a p o , and the Rio de Macas or M o r o n a . T h e little g r o u p o f mountains with which we became ac-


382

THE G O L D - C O U N T R I E S .

quainted at the sources of the Guainia, is remarkable from its being isolated in the plain that extends to the south-west of the Orinoco. Its situation with regard to longitude might had to the belief t h a t it stretches into a ridge, which forms first the strait (angostura) of the Guaviare, and then the great cataracts (saltos, cachoèiras) of the Uaupe and the Jupura. Does this ground, composed probably of primitive rocks, like t h a t which I examined more to the east, contain disseminated gold? Are there any gold-washings more to the south, toward t h e Uaupe, o n t h e Iquiare (Iguiari, Iguari), and on the Yurubesh (Yurubach, Urubaxi) ? It was there that Philip von Huten first sought, El Dorado, and with a handful of men fought the battle of Omaguas, so celebrated in the sixteenth century. In separating what is fabulous from the narratives of the Conquistadores, we cannot fail to recognize in the names preserved on the same spots a certain basis of historic truth. We follow the expedition of Huten beyond the Guaviare and the Caqeta ; we find in the Guaypes, governed by the cacique of Macatoa. the inhabitants of the river of Uaupe, which also bears the name of Guape, or Guapue ; we call to mind, that Father Acunha calls the Iquiari (Quiquiare) ‘a gold river’; and that fifty years later Father Fritz, a missionary of great veracity, received, in the mission o f Yurimaguas, the Manaos (Manoas), adorned with plates of beaten gold, coming from the c o u n t r y between t h e U a u p e a n d t h e C a q u e t a , or Jupura. The rivers that rise on the eastern declivity o f the Andes (for instance the Napo) carry along with them a great deal of gold, even when their sources are found in trachytic soils. Why may there not b e an alluvial aurifer o u s soil t o the east of the Cordilleras, as there is to the west, in the Sonoro, a t Choco, and at Barbacoas? I am far from wishing t o e x a g g e r a t e t h e r i c h e s o f t h i s soil; but I do not think myself authorized to deny the existence o f precious metals in the primitive mountains of Guiana, merely because in our journey through that country we saw no metallic veins. It is somewhat remarkable that the natives o f the Orinoco have a name in their languages for gold (carucuru in Caribbee, caricuri in Tamanac, cavitta in Maypure ), while the word they use to denote silver,


EXHAUSTION prata,

is m a n i f e s t l y

notions c o l l e c t e d

OF ANCIENT

borrowed

by Acunha,

from

with

what

the

383

Spanish.*

The

F a t h e r F r i t z , a n d La C o n d a -

mine, o n t h e gold-washings south U a u p e , agree

MINES.

and north o f t h e river

I learnt o f the auriferous

soil o f

t h o s e c o u n t r i e s . However great we may suppose t h e comm u n i c a t i o n s that t o o k place b e t w e e n the nations o f the Orinoco did

before

n o t draw

Cordilleras.

t h e arrival

their gold

Quito.

rocks

they

certainly

declivity

it is a l m o s t e n t i r e l y

in t h e p r o v i n c e s

of the

composed of

of Popayan,

Pasto,

and

T h e gold o f Guiana p r o b a b l y c a m e from t h e c o u n t r y

east o f t h e A n d e s .

I n our d a y s a l u m p o f g o l d h a s b e e n

in a ravine n e a r

found

Europeans,

t h e eastern

T h i s declivity is p o o r in m i n e s , particularly in

mines anciently w o r k e d ; volcanic

of

from

we m u s t

the mission

n o t b e surprised

in t h e s e

wild

spots,

we

if,

hear

o f Encaramada,

since less

Europeans

o f t h e plates o f gold,

g o l d - d u s t , a n d a m u l e t s o f j a d e - s t o n e , which could be o b t a i n e d by b a r t e r .

from

t h e Caribs

T h e precious

and

settled

heretofore

and other wandering nations

metals,

n e v e r very

a b u n d a n t on

t h e b a n k s o f t h e O r i n o c o , t h e R i o Negro, and t h e A m a z o n , disappeared almost e n t i r e l y w h e n t h e s y s t e m of t h e m i s s i o n s caused t h e d i s t a n t

communications

between

t h e natives t o

cease. T h e b a n k s o f t h e U p p e r Guainia in general a b o u n d less

in fishing-birds

and

the Auraca,

cient t o enrich scarcity

than

where

those

ornithologists

would

i m m e n s e l y t h e collect ions o f

o f animals

arises,

n o doubt,

shoals a n d flat, s h o r e s , as well

as from

nish

less

aliment

Indians

t o aquatic insects

of these countries, during

y e a r , feed on birds o f passage, which

find

This

t h e want o f

t h e quality very

o f the

purity) fur-

a n d fish.

However,

t w o periods repose

suffi-

Europe.

from

black w a t e r s , which ( o n a c c o u n t o f t h e i r the

much

o f Cassiquiare, t h e M e t a ,

of the

in t h e i r l o n g

* The Parpens say, instead of prata, rata. It is the Castilian word plata ill-pronounced. Near the Yurubesh there is another inconsiderable tributary stream of the Rio Negro, the Curicur-iari, It is easy to recognize in this name the Caribbee word carucur, gold. The Caribs extended their incursions from the mouth of the Orinoco smith-west toward the Rio Negro; and it was this restless people who carried the fable of El Dorado, by the same way, but in an opposite direction (from south-west to north-east), from the Mesopotamia between the Rio Negro and the Jupura to the sources of the Rio Branco.


384

BIRDS OF PASSAGE.

migrations on the waters o f the Rio Negro. W h e n the O r i n o c o begins to swell* after the vernal equinox, an innumerable quantity o f ducks (patos careteros) remove from the eighth to the third degree o f north latitude. to the first and fourth degree o f south latitude, towards the south-south-east. These animals then abandon the valley o f the O r i n o c o , n o d o u b t because the increasing depth o f waters, and the inundations of the shores, prevent them from catching fish, insects, and aquatic worms. They are killed by thousands in their passage across the Rio N e g r o . W h e n they go towards the equator they are very fat and s a v o u r y ; but in the month o f September, when the O r i n o c o decreases and returns into its bed, the ducks, warned either by the voices o f the most experienced birds o f passage, or by that internal feeling which, not knowing how to define, we call instinct, return from the A m a z o n and the Rio Branco towards t h e n o r t h . At this period they are too lean to tempt the appetite o f the Indians o f the Rio Negro, and escape pursuit, more easily from being accompanied by a species o f herons (gavanes) which are excellent eating. Thus the Indians eat ducks in March, and herons in September. We could not learn what becomes o f the gavanes during the swellings o f the O r i n o c o , and why they do not accompany the patos careteros in their migration from the Orinoco to the Rio Branco. These regular migrations o f birds from o n e part o f the tropics towards another, in a zone which is during the whole year o f the same temperature, are very extraordinary phenomena. The southern coasts o f the West India Islands receive also every year, at the period o f the inundations o f the great rivers o f Terra Firma, numerous flights o f the fishing-birds o f the O r i n o c o , and o f its tributary streams. W e must presume that the variations o f drought and humidity in the e q u i n o c tial zone have the same influence as the great changes of temperature in o u r climates, on the habits o f animals. The heat of summer, and the pursuit of insects, call the humming-birds into the northern parts o f the United States, and into Canada as far as the parallels o f Paris and B e r l i n : in * The swellings of the Nile take place much later than those of the Orinoco; alter the summer solstice, below Syene ; and at Cairo in the beginning of July. The Nile begins to sink near that city generally about the 15th of October, and continues Milking till the 20th of May.


NATIVE

385

SUPERSTITlONS.

the same manner a greater facility for fishing draws the w e b footed and long-legged birds from the north to the south, from the Orinoco towards the Amazon. Nothing is more marvellous, and nothing is yet known less clearly in a geographical p o i n t of view, than the direction, e x t e n t , and t e r m of the migrations of birds. After having entered the Rio N e g r o by t h e Pimichin, and passed the small cataract at the confluence of the two rivers, we discovered, at the distance o f a quarter of a league, the mission of Maroa. This village, containing one hundred and fifty Indians, presented an appearance of ease and prosperity. W e purchased some fine specimens of the toucan a l i v e ; a courageous bird, the intelligence of which is developed like that o f our domestic ravens. W e passed on the right, above Maroa, first the mouth of the Aquio,* then that of the Tomo.† On the banks of the latter river dwell the Cheruvichahenas, some families of whom I have seen at San Francisco Solano. The Tomo lies near the Rio Guaicia ( X i è ) . and the mission ot Tomo receives by that way fugitive Indians from the Lower Guainia. W e did not enter the mission, but Father Zea related to us with a smile, that the Indians of Tomo and Maroa had been one day in full insurrection, because an attempt was made to force them to dance the famous " dance of the devils." The missionary had taken a fancy to have the ceremonies by which the piaches (who are at once priest s, physicians, and conjurors) evoke the evil spirit Iolokiamo, represented in a burlesque manner. He thought that the "dance of the devils" would be an excellent means of proving to the neophytes that Iolokiamo had no longer any power over them. Some young Indians, confiding in the promises of the missionary, consented to act the devils, and were already decorated with black and yellow plumes, and jaguar-skins with long sweeping tails. T h e place where the church stands was surrounded by the soldiers who are distributed in the missions, in order to add more effect to the counsels of the monks; and those Indians who were not entirely satisfied with respect t o the consequences of the dance, and the impotency of the evil spirit, were brought t o * Aqui. Aaqui, Ake, of the most recent maps, † Tomui, Temujo, Tomon. VOL.

II.

2

C


386

THE SACRED

DANCES.

the festivity. The oldest and m o s t timid o f t h e Indians, however, imbued all the rest with a superstitious d r e a d ; all resolved to flee al monte, and the missionary adjourned his project of turning into derision the d e m o n o f the natives. What extravagant ideas may sometimes enter the imagination of an idle monk, who passes his life in the forests, far from everything that can recall h u man civilization t o his mind. The violence with which the attempt was made t o e x e c u t e in public at Tomo the mysterious dance of the devils is the more strange, as all the books written by the missionaries relate the efforts they have used t o prevent t h e funereal dances, the dances of the sacred trumpet, and that ancient dance of serpents, the Queti, in which these wily animals are represented as issuing from the forests, and coming to drink with the men in order to deceive them, and carry off the w o m e n . After two hours' navigation from the mouth of the T o m o we arrived at the little mission of San Miguel do Davipe, founded in 1775, not by monks, b u t by a lieutenant of militia. Don Francisco Bobadilla. The missionary of the place, Father Morillo, with whom we spent some hours, received us with great hospitality. He even offered us Madeira wine, but, as an object of luxury, we should have preferred wheaten bread. The want of bread becomes more sensibly felt in length of time than that, of a strong liquor. The Portuguese of the Amazon carry small quantities of Madeira wine, from time to time, to the Rio Negro; and the word madera signifying wood in the Castilian language, the monks, who are not much versed in the study of geography, had a scruple of celebrating mass with Madeira wine, which they took for a fermented liquor extracted from the trunk o f some tree, like palm-wine; and requested the guardian of the missions to decide, whet her the vino de madera were wine from grapes, or the juice of a tree. At the beginning o f the conquest, the question was agitated, whether it were allowable for the priests, in celebrating mass, to use any fermented liquor analogous to grape-wine. The question, as might have been foreseen, was decided in the negative. At Davipe we bought some provisions, among which were fowls and a pig. This purchase greatly interested o u r I n dians, who had been a long while deprived of meat. They


387

PALM-CORDAGE.

pressed us to depart, in order to reach the island o f Dapa, where the pig was to he killed and roasted during the night. W e had scarcely t i m e to examine in the c o n v e n t ( c o n v e n t o ) the great stores o f mani resin, and c o r d a g e o f the chiquichiqui palm, which deserves t o b e m o r e k n o w n in Europe. This c o r d a g e is extremely l i g h t ; it floats u p o n the water, and is m o r e durable in the navigation o f rivers than ropes o f h e m p . I t m u s t b e preserved at sea by being often wetted, and little exposed to the heat o f the tropical sun. D o n A n t o n i o Santos, celebrated in the c o u n t r y for his journey in search o f lake Parima, taught the Indians o f the Spanish Rio N e g r o to make use o f the petioles o f the chiquichiqui, a palm-tree with pinnate leaves, o f which we saw neither the flowers nor the fruit. This officer is the only white man who ever came from Angostura to G r a n d Para, passing by land from the sources o f the R i o Carony t o those o f the R i o B r a n c o . He had studied the m o d e o f fabricating ropes from the chiquichiqui in the Portuguese c o l o n i e s ; and, on his return from the A m a z o n , he introduced this branch o f industry into the missions of Guiana. It were to be wished that extensive rope-walks could be established on the banks o f the Rio Negro and the Cassiquiare, in order to make these cables an article o f trade with Europe. A small quantity is already exported from A n g o s t u r a to the W e s t I n d i e s ; and it costs from fifty to sixty perc e n t less than cordage o f h e m p . Y o u n g palm-trees only being e m p l o y e d , they must be planted and carefully cultivated. A little above the mission o f Davipe. the Rio N e g r o receives a branch o f the Cassiquiare, the existence o f which is a very remarkable phenomenon in the history o f the branchings o f rivers. This branch issues from the Cassiquiare, north o f Vasiva, bearing the name o f the I t i n i v i n i ; and, a f t e r flowing for the length o f twenty-five leagues through a flat and almost uninhabited c o u n t r y , it falls into the Rio N e g r o under the name o f the Rio Conorichite. It appeared t o me to be more than one hundred and twenty toises broad near its mouth. A l t h o u g h the current o f the C o n o r o c h i t e is very rapid, this natural canal abridges by three days the passage from Davipe to Esmeralda. W e cannot be surprised at a double c o m m u n i c a t i o n b e t w e e n the Cassiquiare

2 c 2


388

CARIB

SLAVE-DEALERS

and the R i o N e g r o , when rivers

America

of

tinence

with

Rio

Jupura

Rio

Negro

Jupura

other

as it

rivers.

enter

the

Rio

number

Amazon.

is a much

At

more

that so m a n y o f t h e deltas

were,

Thus

by a g r e a t

and the

there

w e recollect

form,

at

their

of branches

Before this river j o i n s t h e A m a z o n ,

t h e latter,

which

T h e Portuguese astronomer,

important,

fact.

The Amazon

gives waters

T h e slave-traders

territory.

the CaĂąo

MeĂŤ

to

went,

Conorichite;

order to enter the A t a b a p o . the year

about

and

Negro,

put

This

1 7 5 6 ; when

and t h e e s t a b l i s h m e n t Rio

by

an

and

to

as t h e b e i n g

rendered

t h e n a t i v e s t o t h e faith

a r m e d m e n against

them;"

the expedition

of

was no further

Solano, o f the

Charles

severe

incapable o f civil piastres), " t h e

by violent

means,

in

lasted

on t h e b a n k s

O l d laws of

V

penal-

employ-

conversion

and sending

but n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g

and h u m a n e laws, t h e R i o N e g r o , century,

dragged

of Manuteso, trade

it.

m e n t , and a tine o f t w o t h o u s a n d

Cassiquiare

thence

abominable

of the missions end

in t h e S p a n i s h the

Philip I I I * had forbidden u n d e r t h e m o s t

ties ( s u c h of

up

by a portage to the rochelas

their c a n o e s till

to

stream.

R i o C o n o r i c h i t e , o r I t i n i v i n i , formerly facilitated the

trade in slaves carried o n b y t h e Portuguese and

is b u t a

R i b e i r o , has

the J u p u r a itself, before it receives that tributary The

is t h e

Uaranapu,

M a n h a m a , a n d A v a t e p a r a n a , t o t h e Jupura, which proved t h i s

of the

phenomenon.

principal recipient, s e n d s off t h r e e b r a n c h e s called tributary stream.

the

into t h e

the continence

extraordinary

con-

and

Branco

these

wise

in t h e m i d d l e of t h e last

interesting

in

European

politics,

than as it facilitated t h e entradas, o r hostile i n c u r s i o n s , and favoured t h e p u r c h a s e o f slaves.

T h e Caribs, a trading and

warlike p e o p l e , received from t h e P o r t u g u e s e and t h e sorts

beads.

T h e y e x c i t e d t h e Indian chiefs t o m a k e

other,

selves,

bought

by s t r a t a g e m

way.

These

mense

extent

their

mirrors,

all

fish-hooks,

each

small

and

knives,

prisoners,

glass

war against

and carried

off,

o r force, all w h o m t h e y found

them-

in t h e i r

i n c u r s i o n s o f t h e C a r i b s c o m p r e h e n d e d an i m of land;

they

Essequibo

and t h e C a r o n y ,

raguamuzi

on

Branco;

Dutch.

of

one

side,

went

from

the banks

by t h e R u p u n u r i

directly

south

towards

a n d on t h e o t h e r , t o t h e s o u t h - w e s t , * 26 Jan. 1 5 2 3 ; and 10 Oct. 1618.

of the

a n d t h e Pathe

Rio

following

the


USE OF ANTS

AS FOOD.

389

portages between the R i o Paragua, the Caura, and t h e Ventuario. The Caribs, w h e n they arrived amid t h e n u merous tribes o f t h e U p p e r O r i n o c o , divided themselves into several bands, in order t o reach, b y the Cassiquiare, t h e Cababury, the Itinivini, and the A t a b a p o , on a great many points at o n c e , the banks o f the Guiainia o r R i o N e g r o , and carry o n the slave-trade with the P o r t u g u e s e . T h u s the unhappy natives, before they came into immediate contact with t h e E u r o p e a n s , suffered from their p r o x i m i t y . The same causes produce everywhere the same effects. T h e barbarous trade which civilized nations have carried o n , and still partially c o n t i n u e , o n t h e coast o f Africa, extends its fatal influence even t o regions where t h e existence o f white men is u n k n o w n . Having quitted the mouth o f the C o n o r i c h i t e and the mission o f Davipe, we reached at sunset the island o f D a p a , lying in the middle o f the river, and very picturesquely situated. W e were astonished t o find on this spot some cultivated g r o u n d , and on the t o p o f a small hill an Indian hut. Four natives were seated round a fire o f b r u s h w o o d , and they were eating a sort o f white paste with black spots, which much excited o u r curiosity. T h e s e black spots proved to be vachacos, large ants, the hinder parts o f which resemble a lump o f grease. They had been dried, and blackened by smoke. W e saw several bags o f them suspended above the fire. These g o o d people paid but little attention to u s ; y e t there were more than fourteen persons in this confined hut, lying naked in hammocks hung o n e above another. W h e n Father Z e a arrived, he was received with great demonstrations o f j o y . T h e military are in greater numbers on the banks of the Rio N e g r o than on those o f the O r i n o c o , o w i n g t o the necessity o f g u a r d i n g the f r o n t i e r s ; and wherever soldiers and m o n k s dispute for p o w e r over the Indians, the latter are most attached t o the m o n k s . T w o y o u n g w o m e n came d o w n from their h a m m o c k s , t o prepare for us cakes o f cassava. In answer t o some enquiries which we put t o them through an interp r e t e r , they answered that cassava grew poorly on the island, but that it was a good land for ants, and food was n o t wanting. In fact, these vachacos furnish subsistence t o the Indians o f the Rio N e g r o and the Guainia. They


390

WAKEFUL

HABITS

OF

THE

INDIANS.

do not cat t h e a n t s as a l u x u r y , but b e c a u s e , a c c o r d i n g to the e x p r e s s i o n o f t h e m i s s i o n a r i e s , t h e fat of a n t s (the white of the abdomen)

part

is a very

substantial

food.

When

t h e cakes o f cassava were prepared, F a t h e r Z e a , w h o s e fever seemed

to sharpen

rather

to enfeeble

than

his a p p e t i t e ,

ordered a little bag t o be b r o u g h t t o him filled with s m o k e d vachacos.

H e m i x e d t h e s e bruised insects with flour o f cas­ It s o m e w h a t

sava, which he pressed us t o t a s t e .

rancid b u t t e r m i x e d with c r u m b o f bread.

resembled

T h e cassava had

not an acid t a s t e , b u t s o m e remains o f European prevented o u r joining

prejudices

in t h e praises b e s t o w e d b y t h e good

missionary on what he called ‘an excellent ant paste.’

Тhe violence o f t h e rain crowded hut. in

T h e Indians t h e rest

the morning;

obliged slept

us t o sleep

only from

of the time

they

complained was at

their

bitter

T h e y threw fresh fuel on t h e fire, and

o f cold, a l t h o u g h

.

or

four

cupana.

till two

e m p l o y e d in

c o n v e r s i n g in their h a m m o c k s , a n d p r e p a r i n g beverage o f

i n this

eight

the temperature

o f t h e air

T h i s c u s t o m o f being a w a k e , and even on foot,

five

hours

before

sunrise,

is general

among

the

W h e n , in the entradas, an a t t e m p t is

I n d i a n s of G u i a n a .

m a d e t o s u r p r i s e t h e n a t i v e s , t h e h o u r s c h o s e n are those of t h e first sleep, from nine till m i d n i g h t . We

left

t h e island

of Dapa

long

before d a y b r e a k ; and

t h e rapidity o f t h e c u r r e n t , and the acti­

notwithstanding

vity o f o u r rowers, o u r passage

t o t h e fort

del Rio N e g r o occupied

hours.

island

of San Carlos

W e passed, on the

o f t h e Cassiquiare, and, on t h e r i g h t , the

left, t h e m o u t h small

twelve

of Cumarai.

T h e fort

c o u n t r y t o be on t h e equatorial o b s e r v a t i o n s which

is believed

in t h e

l i n e ; b u t , a c c o r d i n g t o the

I m a d e at t h e rocks o f C u l i m a c a r i , it

is in 1 ° 5 4 ' 1 1 " . We

lodged

at S a n C a r l o s

fort, a lieutenant o f militia. part

of the house

islands o f great The if

river runs

with

the commander

From

we enjoyed

a gallery

a delightful

of the

in t h e u p p e r view o f three

l e n g t h , a n d covered with thick v e g e t a t i o n . in a s t r a i g h t

line

from

its bed had been d u g by t h e hand

north

t o s o u t h , as

of man.

The sky

b e i n g c o n s t a n t l y c l o u d y g i v e s t h e s e c o u n t r i e s a s o l e m n and gloomy

character.

trees, which

furnish

W e found

in t h e village a few juvia-

the triangular

n u t s called

in Europe


A FRONTIER-POST.

391

the almonds o f the A m a z o n , or Brazil-nuts. W e have made it known by the name o f Bertholletia excelsa. Rio trees attain after eight years' growth the height o f thirty feet. T h e military establishment of this frontier consisted o f seventeen soldiers, ten of w h o m were detached for the security o f the n e i g h b o u r i n g missions. O w i n g to the extreme humidity o f the air there are n o t four muskets in a c o n dition to he tired. T h e Portuguese have from twenty-five to thirty men, better clothed and armed, at the little fort o f San Jose de Maravitanos. We found in the mission o f San Carlos but one garita,* a square house, constructed with unbaked bricks, and containing six field-pieces. The little fort, or, as they think p r o p e r t o call it here, the Castillo de San Felipe, is situated opposite San Carlos, on the western bank of the Rio N e g r o . T h e banks o f the U p p e r Guainia will b e m o r e p r o d u c t i v e when, by the destruction o f the forests, the excessive humidity o f the air and the soil shall be diminished. In their present state o f culture maize scarcely g r o w s , and the t o b a c c o , which is o f the finest, quality, and much celebrated on the coast o f Caracas, is well cultivated only o n spots amid old ruins, remains o f the huts o f the pueblo viejo (old t o w n ) . Indigo g r o w s wild near the villages o f Maroa, Davipe, and T o m o . Under a different system from that which we found existing in these countries, the Rio N e g r o will produce indigo, coffee, cacao, maize, and rice, in a b u n dance. T h e passage from the mouth o f the R i o N e g r o t o G r a n d Para o c c u p y i n g only twenty or twenty-five days, it would not have taken us much more time to have g o n e down the A m a z o n as far as the coast o f Brazil, than to return b y t h e Cassiquiare and the O r i n o c o to the northern coast o f Caracas. W e were informed at San Carlos that, on account o f political circumstances, it was difficult at that moment to pass from the Spanish to the Portuguese s e t t l e m e n t s ; b u t we did not know till after o u r return to Europe the e x t e n t o f the danger t o which w e should have been exposed in proceeding as far as Barcellos. It was k n o w n at Brazil, possibly through the medium o f the newspapers, that I was * This word literallys i g n i f i e sa sentry-box ; but it is here employed in the sense of store-house or arsenal.


392

THE

GLORIETA

DE

COCUY.

g o i n g t o visit t h e missions o f t h e Rio N e g r o , and e x a m i n e the natural canal which u n i t e s t w o g r e a t s y s t e m s o f rivers. In those desert forests i n s t r u m e n t s had been seen only in t h e hands o f t h e c o m m i s s i o n e r s o f t h e b o u n d a r i e s ; and at t h a t time

the subaltern

agents

of the Portuguese

government

could not c o n c e i v e how a m a n o f sense c o u l d e x p o s e h i m s e l f to the fatigues

of a long journey, " t o

did

not b e l o n g

to h i m . "

my

person,

states.

We

Grand

m e a s u r e lands t h a t

had been issued to seize

m y i n s t r u m e n t s , a n d , a b o v e all, those

of astronomical to

Orders

o b s e r v a t i o n s , so d a n g e r o u s

were to be c o n d u c t e d and t h e n c e

Para,

fortunately

sent

registers

to t h e safety o f

by way o f t h e A m a z o n back

for m e , t h e g o v e r n m e n t

at

to

Lisbon.

Lisbon,

But being

on

informed o f t h e zeal o f its subaltern a g e n t s , instantly gave orders but

that on

that

I should

n o t be d i s t u r b e d

t h e contrary

they should

in m y o p e r a t i o n s ; be e n c o u r a g e d ,

if I

traversed any part o f t h e P o r t u g u e s e p o s s e s s i o n s . In the

going right

down

the

D a r i b a and

t h e G u a i n i a , or Rio N e g r o , y o u pass on

CaĂąo

Eny.

of north latitude, is t h e island o f S a n Josef. that

island, in a spot

orange-trees small the

where

now growing

rock, t w o h u n d r e d missionaries

h o u s e ( f o r such

the CaĂąos

M a l i a p o , and on t h e left

At five leagues d i s t a n c e , nearly

the

there are a g r e a t

wild,

feet

the

in 1° 3 8 '

A little below

traveller

number

of

is s h o w n

a

high, with a cavern called by

Glorieta

de

is t h e signification

Cocuy.

This

summer-

o f the word glorieta in

S p a n i s h ) recalls r e m e m b r a n c e s that are n o t t h e most able.

It was here that

C o c u y , the chief o f t h e

agree-

Manitivi-

t a n o s , * had his harem

of women, and where

the finest and fattest.

T h e tradition o f t h e harem and t h e

orgies o f Cocuy

is more c u r r e n t in t h e L o w e r O r i n o c o than

on t h e b a n k s o f the G u a i n i a . that

the chief

he d e v o u r e d

of

the

At San C a r l o s t h e very idea

Manitivitanos

could

be g u i l t y

of

c a n n i b a l i s m is i n d i g n a n t l y rejected. T h e P o r t u g u e s e g o v e r n m e n t has e s t a b l i s h e d m a n y s e t t l e ment,

even

Glorieta, villages

in

in

this

the

remote

Portuguese

in an e x t e n t

of

part

of

Brazil.

territory,

twenty-five

there

leagues.

Below

the

are eleven I

know

of

* At San Carlos there is still preserved an instrument of music, a kind of large drum, ornamented with very rude Indian paintings, which relate to the exploits of Cocuy.


393

TRIBUTARIES OF THE RIO NEGRO. n i n e t e e n m o r e as far as t h e m o n t h o f t h e Rio N e g r o ,

beside

the

Deme-

six t o w n s

of Thomare,

Moreira (near

the

Rio

n e n e , o r Uаrаса, w h e r e dwelt a n c i e n t l y t h e Guiana I n d i a n s ) , B a r c e l l o s , S a n M i g u e l del R i o Branco, n e a r t h e river o f t h e s a m e n a m e ( s o well

Villa

Mount,

and

butary

stream

known

do

Rio

in t h e fictions o f Negro.

of the Amazon

El

alone

are

Dorado),

o f this

tri­

consequently

ten

T h e banks

times m o r e t h i c k l y peopled than all t h e s h o r e s o f t h e and

Lower

Spanish

Orinoco,

Rio

Uрреr

t h e Passiquiare, t h e A t a b a p o , and t h e

Negro.

A m o n g the tributary s t r e a m s which the R i o N e g r o receives from t h e n o r t h , t h r e e are particularly d e s e r v i n g o f a t t e n t i o n , b e c a u s e on account o f their the

situation

o f their

often-discussed

b r a n c h i n g s , their

p o r t a g e s , and

s o u r c e s , t h e y are c o n n e c t e d with t h e

problem o f t h e origin o f t h e O r i n o c o .

The

m o s t s o u t h e r n of t h e s e tributary st r e a m s are t h e Rio B r a n c o , * w h i c h was long believed t o issue c o n j o i n t l y with t h e O r i n o c o from lake P a r i m e , and t h e Rio Padaviri, w h i c h b y a portage with Upper

Orinoco,

W e shall

communicates

t h e M a v a c a , a n d c o n s e q u e n t l y with t h e

to t h e east

o f t h e mission

of

Esmeralda.

have occasion t o speak o f t h e Rio Branco a n d t h e

Padaviri, when we arrive in that m i s s i o n ; p a u s e a t t h e third

t r i b u t a r y stream

it suffices

of the

Rio

here

to

Negro, the

C a b a b u r y , t h e i n t e r b r a n c h i n g s o f w h i c h w i t h t h e Cassiquiare are alike

important

in their

connexion

with

hydrography,

a n d with t h e trade in sarsaparilla. The

lofty

northern

mountains

bank

of

of the

the Orinoco

Parime, in

the

which

border

upper

part

the

o f its

c o u r s e a b o v e E s m e r a l d a , send off a chain t o w a r d s t h e s o u t h , of

which

summits. rich

in

the Cerro de This

vegetable

liana, e m p l o y e d

Unturan

mountainous productions,

f o r m s o n e o f t h e principal

country, above

o f small

extent

all, in t h e

but

mavacure

in p r e p a r i n g t h e wourali poison, in a l m o n d -

* The Portuguese name, Rio Branco, signifies White River. Rio Parime is a Caribbean name, signifying Great Water. These names having also been applied to different tributary streams, have caused many errors in geography. The great Rio Branco, or Parime, often mentioned in this work, is formed by the Urariquera and the Tacuta, and flows, between Carvoeyro and Villa de Mourn, into the Rio Negro. It is the Quecuene of the natives ; and forms at its confluence, with the Rio Negro a very narrow delta, between the principal trunk and the Amayauhau, which is a little brunch more to the went.


394

VARIETIES OF SARSAPARILLA.

trees ( t h e juvia, o r Bertholletia e x c e l s a ) , in aromatic pucheries, a n d in wild cacao-trees, forms a p o i n t o f division b e t w e e n t h e waters that flow t o t h e O r i n o c o , t h e Cassiquiare, and t h e Rio N e g r o . T h e tributary streams o n t h e n o r t h , o r those o f t h e O r i n o c o , are t h e M a v a c a a n d t h e D a r a c a p o ; t h o s e o n t h e west, o r of the Cassiquiare, are t h e Idapa and the P a c i m o n i ; and those on the south, or o f t h e Rio N e g r o , are the Padaviri and t h e Cababuri. T h e latter is divided near its source i n t o t w o b r a n c h e s , t h e w e s t e r n m o s t o f which is k n o w n b y the name o f Baria. T h e Indians o f t h e mission o f San Francisco Solano gave u s the m o s t minute description o f its c o u r s e . I t affords t h e very rare example o f a branch b y w h i c h an inferior tributary stream, instead of receiving the waters o f the superior stream, sends to it a part o f its o w n waters in a direction o p p o s i t e t o that o f the principal recipient. T h e Cababuri runs into t h e Rio N e g r o near the mission o f N o s s a Senhora das C a l d a s ; b u t t h e rivers Y a a n d D i m i t y , which are higher tributary streams, c o m m u n i c a t e also with t h e C a b a b u r i ; so that, from the little fort o f San Gabriel do Cachòeiras as far as San A n t o n i o do Castanheira t h e I n d i a n s o f t h e P o r t u g u e s e possessions c a n e n t e r t h e territory of the Spanish missions by t h e Baria a n d t h e Pacimoni.

T h e chief o b j e c t o f these incursions is the collection o f sarsaparilla and the aromatic seeds o f t h e puchery-laurel (Laurus pichurim). T h e sarsaparilla o f these countries is celebrated at Grand Para, Angostura, Cumana, Nueva Barcelona, and in other parts o f Terra Firma, by the name of zarza del Rio Negro. I t is much preferred t o the zarza o f the province of Caracas, o r of the mountains o f M e r i d a ; i t is dried with great care, and exposed purposely t o s m o k e , i n order that it may become blacker. This liana grows in profusion on the humid declivities of the mountains o f Unturan and Achivaquery. Decandolle is right in suspecting that different species of smilax are gathered under t h e n a m e of sarsaparilla. We found twelve new species, among which the Smilax siphylitica of the Cassiquaire, and t h e Smilax officinalis of the river Magdalena, are most esteemed o n a c c o u n t of their diuretic properties. T h e quantity o f sarsaparilla e m p l o y e d in the Spanish colonies as a d o m e s t i c


THE A M A Z O N - S T O N E .

395

medicine is v e r y considerable. W e see b y t h e w o r k s o f Clusius, that at t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e Conquista, E u r o p e obtained this salutary m e d i c a m e n t from t h e M e x i c a n coast o f H o n d u r a s and t h e p o r t o f G u a y a q u i l . T h e trade in zarza is n o w m o r e active in t h o s e p o r t s which have interior c o m m u n i c a t i o n s with t h e O r i n o c o , t h e Rio N e g r o , and t h e Amazon. T h e trials made i n several botanical gardens o f E u r o p e p r o v e that t h e Smilax glauca o f V i r g i n i a , which it is p r e t e n d e d is t h e S. sarsaparilla o f L i n n æ u s , m a y b e cultivated in t h e o p e n air, wherever t h e mean w i n t e r temperature rises above six o r seven degrees o f t h e c e n t i g r a d e therm o m e t e r * ; b u t t h o s e species that possess t h e m o s t active virtues b e l o n g exclusively t o t h e torrid z o n e , and require a m u c h higher degree o f heat. I n reading t h e w o r k s o f C l u sius, it c a n scarcely b e c o n c e i v e d w h y o u r writers o n t h e M a t e r i a M e d i c a persist in considering a plant o f t h e U n i t e d States as t h e m o s t ancient t y p e o f the officinal species o f t h e g e n u s smilax. W e found i n t h e possession o f t h e I n d i a n s o f t h e Rio N e g r o some o f those green stones, k n o w n b y t h e name o f “ A m a z o n stones,” because t h e natives p r e t e n d , according t o an ancient tradition, that they c o m e from t h e c o u n t r y “of t h e w o m e n w i t h o u t husbands (Cougnantainsecouima), or women living alone (Aikeambenano†).” We w e r e told at San Carlos, and in t h e n e i g h b o u r i n g villages, that t h e sources o f t h e O r i n o c o , which w e f o u n d east o f t h e Esmeralda, a n d in t h e missions o f t h e C a r o n y a n d at A n g o s t u r a , that t h e sources o f t h e Rio B r a n c o are t h e native spots o f t h e green stones. T h e s e statements confirm t h e r e p o r t o f an o l d soldier o f t h e * T h e winter temperature at London and Paris is 4 2 ° and 3'7°; at Montpelier, 6.7°; at Rome, 7.7°. In that part of Mexico, and the Terra Firma, where we saw the most active species of the sarsaparilla growing, (that which supplies the trade of the Spanish and Portuguese colonies) the temperature is from twenty to twenty-six degrees. The roots of another family of monocotyledons (of some cyperaceæ) possess also diaphoretic and resolvent properties, The Carex arenaria, the C. hirta, &c. furnish the German sarsaparilla of druggists. According to Clusius, Europe received the first sarsaparilla from Yucatan, and the island of Puna, opposite Guayaquil. † This word is of the Tamanac language; these women are the sole Donne of the Italian missionaries.


396

THE

AMAZON-STONE.

garrison o f C a y e n n e ( m e n t i o n e d b y L a C o n d a m i n e ) , w h o affirmed that those mineral substances were obtained f r o m the “ c o u n t r y o f w o m e n , � west o f the rapids o f the O y a p o c . T h e Indians w h o inhabit the fort o f T o p a y o s o n the A m a z o n , five degrees east o f t h e m o u t h o f t h e Rio N e g r o , possessed formerly a great number of these stones. Had they received them from the north, that is, from the c o u n t r y p o i n t e d o u t b y the Indians o f t h e Rio N e g r o , w h i c h extends from the m o u n t a i n s o f C a y e n n e towards the sources o f t h e Essequibo, the C a r o n y , the O r i n o c o , the Parime, and the Rio T r o m betas ? o r did t h e y c o m e from the south b y the Rio T o p a y o s , which descends from the vast table-land o f the C a m p o s Parecis? Superstition attaches great importance t o these mineral substances : they are worn suspended from the neck as amulets, because, a c c o r d i n g t o p o p u l a r belief, they p r e serve the wearer from nervous complaints, fevers, and the stings o f v e n o m o u s serpents. T h e y have conse quent ly been for ages an article o f trade a m o n g the natives, both north and south of the O r i n o c o . T h e Caribs, w h o may be c o n sidered as the Bucharians o f the N e w W o r l d , m a d e t h e m known along the coasts o f G u i a n a ; and the same stones, like m o n e y in circulation, passed successively from nation t o nation in opposite d i r e c t i o n s : their quantity is perhaps n o t a u g m e n t e d , and the spot which produces them is p r o bably u n k n o w n rather than concealed. I n t h e midst o f e n lightened Europe, on occasion o f a warm contest respecting native bark, a few years ago, the green stones o f the O r i n o c o w e r e gravely proposed as a powerful febrifuge. A f t e r this appeal to the credulity o f Europeans, w e c a n n o t b e surprised to learn that the Spanish planters share the predilect i o n o f the Indians for these amulets, and that t h e y are sold at a very considerable price. T h e form given to them most frequently is that o f the Babylonian cylinders,* l o n g i t u d i nally perforated, and loaded with inscriptions and figures. But this is not the work of the Indians o f our days, the natives o f the Orinoco and the A m a z o n , whom we find in the last degree of barbarism. T h e A m a z o n stones, like the perforated and sculptured emeralds, found in the Cordilleras o f New Grenada and Quito, are vestiges o f anterior civilization. * The price of a cylinder two inches long is from twelve to fifteen piastres.


THE AMAZON-STONE.

397

T h e present inhabitants o f t h o s e countries, particularly i n the h o t region, so little c o m p r e h e n d t h e possibility o f c u t t i n g hard stones, ( t h e emerald, j a d e , c o m p a c t feldspar and rock-crystal,) that they imagine the g r e e n stone is soft w h e n taken out o f the earth, and that it hardens after having b e e n moulded b y t h e h a n d . T h e natural soil o f t h e A m a z o n - s t o n e is n o t i n t h e valley o f the river A m a z o n . I t does n o t derive its n a m e from t h e river, b u t like t h e river itself, t h e stone has been n a m e d after a n a t i o n o f warlike w o m e n , w h o m F a t h e r A c u n h a , a n d O v i e d o , i n his letter t o cardinal B e m b o , c o m p a r e t o t h e A m a z o n s o f the ancient w o r l d . W h a t w e see in o u r cabinets under t h e false d e n o m i n a t i o n o f A m a z o n - s t o n e , is neither j a d e , n o r c o m p a c t feldspar, b u t a c o m m o n feldspar o f an apple-green c o l o u r , that c o m e s from t h e U r a l m o u n t a i n s and on lake O n e g a i n R u s s i a , b u t w h i c h I never s a w i n t h e granitic m o u n t a i n s o f G u i a n a . S o m e t i m e s also this very rare and hard A m a z o n - s t o n e is c o n f o u n d e d with t h e hatchetnephrite ( b e i l s t e i n ) * o f W e r n e r , w h i c h has m u c h less t e n a T h e substance which I o b t a i n e d from t h e hands o f city. the Indians, b e l o n g s t o t h e saussurite,† t o t h e real j a d e , which resembles c o m p a c t feldspar, a n d w h i c h f o r m s o n e of the c o n s t i t u e n t parts of the verde de Corsica, o r gabbro.‡ I t takes a tine polish, and passes from apple-green t o emeraldg r e e n ; it is translucent at t h e e d g e s , extremely t e n a c i o u s , a n d in a high degree s o n o r o u s . T h e s e A m a z o n stones w e r e formerly c u t b y t h e natives into very thin plates, perforated at t h e c e n t r e , and suspended b y a thread, a n d these plates yield an almost metallic s o u n d i f struck b y anothe r hard b o d y . | | This fact confirms t h e c o n n e c t i o n w h i c h w e find, n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g t h e difference o f fracture and o f specific gravity b e t w e e n t h e saussurite and t h e siliceous basis o f t h e porphyrschiefer, which is the phonolite ( k l i n g s t e i n ) . I have * Punamustein (jade axinien).

The stone hatchets found in America,

for instance in Mexico, are not of beilstein,butof compact feldspar. † Jade of Saussure, according to the system of Brongniart; tenacious jade, and compact tenacious feldspar of Haüy ; some varieties of the variolithe of Werner. ‡ Euphotide ofHauy,or schillerfels of Raumer. || M . Brongniart, to whom I showed these plates on my return to Europe, very justly compared these jades of Parime to the sonorous stones employed by the Chinese in their musical instruments called king.


398

WORSHIP

OF ROCKS AND STONES.

already observed, that, as it is very rare t o find in A m e r i c a nephrite, j a d e , o r c o m p a c t feldspar, in its native place, w e may well be astonished at the quantity o f hatchets which are everywhere discovered in d i g g i n g the earth, from t h e banks o f the O h i o as far as Chile. W e saw in t h e mountains o f U p p e r O r i n o c o , o r o f P a r i m e , only granular granites containing a little hornblende, granites passing i n t o gneiss, and schistoid h o r n b l e n d e s . H a s nature repeated o n t h e east o f Esmeralda, b e t w e e n the sources o f the C a r o n y , the E s s e q u i b o , the O r i n o c o , and the Rio B r a n c o , t h e transition-formation o f T u c u t u n e m o r e p o s i n g o n mica-schist ? D o e s the A m a z o n - s t o n e c o m e from the r o c k s o f e u p h o t i d e , which form the last m e m b e r o f the series o f primitive r o c k s ? W e find a m o n g the inhabitants o f b o t h hemispheres, at the first dawn o f civilization, a peculiar predilection for c e r tain stones ; n o t only those which, from their hardness, may b e useful t o man as c u t t i n g instruments, b u t also for m i n e ral substances, which, on a c c o u n t o f their c o l o u r and their natural form, are believed to bear s o m e relation t o the o r g a nic functions, and even t o the propensities o f the soul. This ancient worship o f stones, these b e n i g n virtues attrib u t e d to jade and hamiatite, b e l o n g t o the savages o f A m e rica as well as to the inhabitants o f the forests o f T h r a c e . T h e human race, when in an uncultivated state, believes itself t o have s p r u n g from the g r o u n d ; and feels as if it were enchained to the earth, and the substances contained in her b o s o m . T h e p o w e r s o f nature, and still m o r e those which destroy than those which preserve, are the first objects o f its worship. I t is n o t solely in the tempest, in the sound that precedes the earthquake, in the fire that feeds the volc a n o , that these p o w e r s are manifested ; the inanimate rock ; stones, b y their lustre and h a r d n e s s ; m o u n t a i n s , b y their mass and their s o l i t u d e ; act u p o n the u n t a u g h t m i n d with a force w h i c h , in a state o f advanced civilization, can n o l o n g e r be conceived. This worship o f stones, when o n c e established, is preserved amidst m e n ; modern forms o f w o r ship ; and what was at- first the object o f religious h o m a g e , b e c o m e s a source; o f superstitious confidence. Divine stones are transformed into amulets, which are believed to preserve the wearer from every ill, mental and corporeal. A l t h o u g h a distance o f five hundred leagues separates the banks o f the


TRADITION OF THE

AMAZONS.

399

A m a z o n and the O r i n o c o from the M e x i c a n t a b l e - l a n d ; although history records n o fact that c o n n e c t s the savage nations o f G u i a n a with the civilized nations o f A n a h u a c , the m o n k Bernard de Sahagun, at t h e b e g i n n i n g o f the c o n q u e s t , f o u n d preserved as relics at Cholula, certain green stones which had b e l o n g e d to Quetzalcohuatl. T h i s mysterious p e r sonage is the M e x i c a n B u d d h a ; he appeared in the t i m e o f the T o l t e c s , f o u n d e d the first religious associations, and established a g o v e r n m e n t similar to that o f M e r o ë and o f Japan. T h e history o f the j a d e , o r the g r e e n stones o f G u i a n a , is intimately c o n n e c t e d with that o f the warlike w o m e n w h o m the travellers o f the sixteenth c e n t u r y n a m e d the A m a z o n s o f the N e w W o r l d . L a C o n d a m i n e has p r o d u c e d m a n y testimonies in favour o f this tradition. Since m y return from the O r i n o c o and the river A m a z o n , I have often been asked, at Paris, w h e t h e r I embraced the o p i n i o n o f that learned man, o r believed, like several o f his c o n t e m p o r a r i e s , that he u n d e r t o o k the defence o f the Cougnantainsecouima, ( t h e i n d e p e n d e n t w o m e n w h o received m e n into their society o n l y in the m o n t h o f A p r i l ) , merely t o fix, in a p u b l i c sitting o f the A c a d e m y , the attention o f an audience s o m e what eager for novelties. I may t a k e this o p p o r t u n i t y o f expressing m y o p i n i o n o n a tradition which has so romantic an a p p e a r a n c e ; and I am farther led t o do this as L a C o n d a mine asserts that the A m a z o n s o f the Rio C a y a m e * crossed * Orellana, arriving at the Marañon by the Rio Coca and the Napo, fought with the Amazons, as it appears, between the mouth of the R i o Negro and that of the Xingu. La Condamine asserts, that in the seventeenth century they passed the Marañon between Tefe and the mouth o f the Rio Puruz, near the Caño Cuchivara, which is a western branch of the Puruz. These women therefore came from the banks of the Rio Cayame, or Cayambe, consequently from the unknown country which extends south of the Marañon, between the Ucayale and the Madeira. Raleigh also places them on the south of the Marañon, but in the province of Topayos, and on the river of the same name. He says they were “ rich in golden vessels, which they had acquired in exchange for the famous green stones, or piedras hijadas.” (Raleigh means, no doubt, piedras del higado, stones that cure diseases of the liver.) It is remarkable enough, that, one hundred and forty-eight years after, La Condamine still found those green stones (divine stones), which differ neither in colour nor in hardness from oriental jade, in greater numbers among the Indians who live near the mouth of the Rio Topayos, than elsewhere. The Indians said that they inherited these stones, which cure


400

THE "GOLDEN KING."

the M a r a n o n to establish themselves on the Rio N e g r o . A taste for the marvellous, and a wish t o invest the descriptions o f the N e w C o n t i n e n t with s o m e o f t h e c o l o u r i n g o f classic antiquity, n o d o u b t c o n t r i b u t e d t o give great i m p o r t ance t o the first narratives o f Orellana. I n p e r u s i n g t h e works o f V e s p u c c i , F e r n a n d o C o l u m b u s , Geraldini, O v i e d o , and Pietro Martyr, we recognize this tendency o f the writers o f the sixteenth c e n t u r y t o find a m o n g the newly discovered nations all that t h e G r e e k s have related t o us o f the first age o f the world, and o f the manners o f the barbarous S c y thians and Africans. B u t if O v i e d o , in addressing his letters to cardinal B e m b o , t h o u g h t fit t o flatter t h e taste o f a man so familiar with the study o f antiquity, Sir W a l t e r Raleigh had a less poetic aim. He s o u g h t t o fix the attention o f Queen Elizabeth o n the great empire o f G u i a n a , the c o n quest o f which he p r o p o s e d . H e gave a description o f the rising o f that gilded king (el dorado),* whose chamberlains, furnished with l o n g tubes, blew p o w d e r e d g o l d every m o r n ing over his b o d y , after having r u b b e d it over with aromatic oils : b u t nothing could be better adapted to strike the imagination o f queen Elizabeth, than the warlike republic o f women without husbands, who resisted the Castilian h e r o e s . Such were the motives which prompted exaggeration on the part o f those writers who have given most reputation to the A m a z o n s o f A m e r i c a ; b u t these motives d o n o t , I think, suffice for entirely rejecting a tradition, w h i c h is spread a m o n g various nations having no c o m m u n i c a t i o n s o n e with another. Thirty years after L a C o n d a m i n e visited Q u i t o , a P o r t u guese astronomer, Ribeiro, w h o has traversed the A m a z o n , and the tributary streams which run into that river o n t h e northern side, has confirmed on the spot all that the learned Frenchman had advanced. He found the same traditions a m o n g the Indians; and he collected them with the g r e a t e r impartiality as he did not himself believe; that the A m a z o n s the nephritic colic and epilepsy, from their fathers, who received them from the women without husbands." * The term el dorado, which signifies the gilded, was not originally the name of the country. The territory subsequently distinguished by that appellation was at first known as the country of " e l Rey Dorado" (the Gilded King).


LEGEND OF TUE

401

AMAZONS.

formed a separate h o r d e . N o t k n o w i n g any o f the t o n g u e s s p o k e n o n the O r i n o c o and t h e B i o N e g r o , I c o u l d learn n o t h i n g certain r e s p e c t i n g t h e p o p u l a r traditions o f t h e w o m e n w i t h o u t husbands, o r the origin o f the g r e e n stones, which are believed t o b e intimately c o n n e c t e d with t h e m . I shall, h o w e v e r , q u o t e a m o d e r n testimony o f s o m e w e i g h t , that o f Father Gili. " U p o n i n q u i r i n g , " says this wellinformed missionary, o f a Q u a q u a I n d i a n , what nations inhabited t h e Rio C u c h i v e r o , he n a m e d t o m e t h e A c h i r i g o t o s , the Pajuros, and t h e A i k e a m b e n a n o s . * B e i n g well a c q u a i n t e d , " pursues h e , " w i t h t h e T a m a n a c t o n g u e , I instantly c o m p r e h e n d e d the sense o f this last w o r d , which is a c o m p o u n d , and signifies ' w o m e n living alone.' T h e Indian confirmed m y observation, and related that t h e A i k e a m b e nanos w e r e a c o m m u n i t y o f w o m e n , w h o manufactured b l o w t u b e s , t a n d other w e a p o n s o f war. T h e y admit, o n c e a year, the m e n o f the n e i g h b o u r i n g nation o f V o k e a r o s i n t o their society, and send t h e m b a c k with presents. A l l the male children b o r n in this horde o f w o m e n are killed in their infancy." This history seems framed o n the traditions which circulate a m o n g the I n d i a n s o f t h e M a r a 単 o n , and a m o n g t h e C a r i b s ; y e t the Q u a q u a I n d i a n , o f w h o m F a t h e r G i l i speaks, was i g n o r a n t o f the Castilian l a n g u a g e ; he had n e v e r had any c o m m u n i c a t i o n with white m e n ; and certainly k n e w n o t , that south o f the O r i n o c o there existed a n o t h e r river, called the river o f the ' A i k e a m b e n a n o s , ' o r ' A m a z o n s . ' "What m u s t w e c o n c l u d e from this narration o f t h e old missionary o f E n c a r a m a d a ? N o t that there are A m a z o n s o n t h e banks o f t h e C u c h i v e r o , b u t that w o m e n in different parts o f A m e r i c a , wearied o f t h e state o f slavery in which they were held b y the m e n , u n i t e d themselves t o g e t h e r ; that the desire o f preserving their i n d e p e n d e n c e r e n d e r e d t h e m w a r r i o r s ; and that t h e y received visits from a n e i g h b o u r i n g and friendly h o r d e . This society o f w o m e n m a y have acquired some p o w e r in o n e part o f G u i a n a . T h e Caribs of the c o n t i n e n t held intercourse with those o f the islands: and n o d o u b t in this way the traditions o f t h e M a r a 単 o n and t h e O r i n o c o were p r o p a g a t e d t o w a r d the n o r t h . B e f o r e the * I n Italian, Acchirecolti, +

Pajuri, and Aicheam-benano.

L o n g t u b e s m a d e from a h o l l o w c a n e , which the natives use to propel

their p o i s o n e d a r r o w s .

VOL. I I .

2 D


402

PROBABLE ORIGIN OF THE LEGEND.

v o y a g e o f Orellana, Christopher C o l u m b u s imagined he h a d f o u n d the A m a z o n s in the Caribbee Islands. T h i s great m a n was told, that the small island o f M a d a n i n o ( M o n t serrat) was inhabited b y warlike w o m e n , w h o lived t h e greater part o f the year separate from m e n . A t other times also, the conquistadores i m a g i n e d that t h e w o m e n , w h o defended their huts in the absence o f their husbands, were r e p u b l i c s o f A m a z o n s ; and, b y an error less excusable, f o r m e d a like supposition r e s p e c t i n g the religious c o n g r e g a t i o n s , t h e c o n v e n t s o f M e x i c a n virgins, w h o , far from admiti n g m e n at any season o f t h e y e a r i n t o their society, lived a c c o r d i n g t o the austere rule o f Quetzalcohuatl. Such was t h e disposition o f m e n ' s m i n d s , that in the l o n g succession of travellers, w h o c r o w d e d o n each other in their discoveries a n d in narrations o f the marvels o f t h e N e w W o r l d , every o n e readily declared he had seen what his predecessors had announced. W e passed three nights at San Carlos del Rio N e g r o . I c o u n t the n i g h t s , because I w a t c h e d d u r i n g the greater part o f t h e m , in the hope o f seizing the m o m e n t o f the passage o f s o m e star over the meridian. That 1 m i g h t have n o t h i n g t o reproach myself with, I k e p t the instruments always ready for an observation. I c o u l d n o t even obtain double altitudes, t o calculate the latitude b y the m e t h o d o f D o u w e s . What a contrast between two parts o f the same z o n e ; between the sky o f C u m a n a , w h e r e t h e air is constantly pure as in Persia and Arabia, and the sky o f the Kin N e g r o , veiled like that o f the F e r o e islands, w i t h o u t sun, o r m o o n , o r stars! On the 10th o f M a y , o u r canoe being ready before s u n rise, w e e m b a r k e d t o g o u p the R i o N e g r o as far as the m o u t h o f the Cassiquiare, and t o devote ourselves t o r e searches on the real course of that river, which unites the O r i n o c o t o the A m a z o n . T h e m o r n i n g was fine; b u t , in proportion as the heat a u g m e n t e d , the sky b e c a m e o b s c u r e d . T h e air is so saturated by water in these forests, that t h o vesicular vapours b e c o m e visible on the least increase o f evaporation at the surface o f the earth. T h e breeze b e i n g never felt, the humid strata are not displaced and renewed by dryer air. We were every day more grieved at tho aspect o f the c l o u d y sky. M . Bonpland was losing by this excessive h u m i d i t y t h e plants he had c o l l e c t e d ; and I, for


MISTINESS OF THE

ATMOSPHERE.

403

m y part, was afraid lest I should again find the fogs o f t h e Rio N e g r o in the valley o f the Cassiquiare. N o o n e in these missions for half a c e n t u r y past had d o u b t e d t h e existence o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n b e t w e e n t w o great systems o f rivers; the i m p o r t a n t p o i n t o f o u r v o y a g e was confined t h e r e fore to fixing b y astronomical observations the c o u r s e o f t h e Cassiquiare, and particularly the p o i n t o f its e n t r a n c e i n t o the Rio N e g r o , and that o f the bifurcation o f t h e O r i n o c o . W i t h o u t a sight o f t h e sun and the stars this o b j e c t w o u l d b e frustrated, and w o should have e x p o s e d ourselves in vain t o l o n g and painful privations. O u r fellow travellers w o u l d have r e t u r n e d b y the shortest w a y , that o f t h e P i m i c h i n and t h e small rivers; b u t M . B o n p l a n d preferred, like m e , p e r sisting in t h e plan o f t h e v o y a g e , which we had traced for ourselves in passing t h e G r e a t Cataracts. W e had already travelled o n e h u n d r e d and eighty leagues in a b o a t f r o m San F e r n a n d o de A p u r e t o San Carlos, o n t h e Rio A p u r e , t h e O r i n o c o , the A t a b a p o , t h e T e m i , the T u a m i n i , a n d the K i o Negro. I n again entering the O r i n o c o b y the Cassiquiare w e had to navigate three h u n d r e d and t w e n t y leagues, from San Carlos to A n g o s t u r a . B y this w a y w e had t o struggle against the currents d u r i n g ten d a y s ; t h e rest was t o b e p e r f o r m e d b y g o i n g d o w n the stream o f the O r i n o c o . It w o u l d have b e e n blamable t o have suffered ourselves t o b e d i s c o u r a g e d b y the fear o f a c l o u d y sky, a n d b y t h e m o s quitos o f the Cassiquiare. O u r I n d i a n pilot, w h o had been recently at M a n d a v a c a , p r o m i s e d us t h e sun, a n d " t h o s e great stars that eat the c l o u d s , " as s o o n as w e should have left the black waters o f the Guaviare. W e therefore carried o u t o u r first project o f r e t u r n i n g t o San F e r n a n d o de A t a b a p o b y the Cassiquiare; and, fortunately for o u r researches, the prediction o f the I n d i a n was verified. T h e white waters b r o u g h t us b y degrees a m o r e serene sky, stars, m o s q u i t o s , and crocodiles. W e passed b e t w e e n the islands o f Z a r u m a and M i n i , o r M i b i t a , c o v e r e d with thick v e g e t a t i o n ; and, after having ascended the rapids o f t h e Piedra de Uinumane, w e e n t e r e d t h e Rio Cassiquiare at the distance o f eight miles from t h e small fort o f San Carlos. T h e Piedra, o r granitic r o c k which forms t h e little cataract, attracted o u r attention o n a c c o u n t o f t h e n u m e r o u s veins o f quartz b y which it i s 2 D 2


401

TIIE M O CA-SSTQUIAKi:.

traversed. T h e s e veins are several inches broad, and their masses proved that their date a n d formation are very different. I saw distinctly that, wherever they crossed each o t h e r , the veins containing mica and black schorl traversed and drove o u t o f their direction those which contained o n l y white quartz and feldspar. A c c o r d i n g t o t h e theory of W e r n e r , t h e black veins w e r e consequently o f a more recent formation than the white. B e i n g a disciple o f t h e school of F r e y b e r g , I could n o t b u t pause with satisfaction at t h e rock o f U i n u m a n e , t o observe the same p h e n o m e n a near t h e equator, which I had so often seen i n t h e mountains o f m y own country. I confess that the t h e o r y which considers veins as clefts filled from above with various substances, pleases me somewhat less now than it did at that p e r i o d ; but these m o d e s o f intersection and driving aside, observed in the stony and metallic veins, d o n o t the less merit t h e attention o f travellers as being o n e o f the most general and constant o f geological p h e n o m e n a . On t h e east o f Javita, all along t h e Cassiquiare, and particularly in the mountains o f D u i d a , t h e n u m b e r o f veins i n t h e granite increases. T h e s e veins are full o f holes and druses; a n d their frequency seems t o indicate that t h e granite o f these countries is n o t o f very ancient formation. W e f o u n d some lichens o n t h e r o c k U i n u m a n e , opposite the island o f Chamanare, at t h e e d g e o f t h e r a p i d s ; and as the Cassiquiare near its m o u t h turns abruptly from east t o south-west, we saw for the first time this majestic branch o f the O r i n o c o in all its breadth. I t m u c h resembles the K i o N e g r o in t h e general aspect o f the l a n d s c a p e .

T h e trees o f

the forest, as i n the basin o f the latter river, advance as far as the beach, and there form a thick c o p p i c e ;

but the Cassi-

quiare has white waters, a n d m o r e frequently changes its direction. Its breadth, near t h e rapids of Uinumane, almost surpasses that o f the Rio N e g r o . I found it everywhere from t w o hundred a n d fifty t o t w o hundred and eighty toises, as far as above Vasiva. Before we passed t h e island o f Garigave, we perceived t o t h e north-east, a l m o s t at the horizon, a little hill with a hemispheric summit ; the form which in every zone characterises mountains o f granite. Continually surrounded by vast plains, the solitary rocks and hills excite the attention o f the traveller. Contiguous


MISSION OF SAN FRANCISCO.

405

mountains are o n l y f o u n d m o r e to the east, towards the sources o f the P a c i m o n i , Siapa, and M a v a c a . Having arrived on the south o f t h e Randal o f Caravine, we p e r ceived that t h e Cassiquiare, b y t h e w i n d i n g s o f its c o u r s e , again approached San Carlos. T h e distance from this fort t o the mission o f San F r a n c i s c o Solano, w h e r e we slept, is o n l y t w o leagues and a half b y land, b u t it is r e c k o n e d seven o r eight b y the river. I passed a part o f the n i g h t in the open air, waiting vainly for stars. T h e air was misty, notwithstanding the aguas blancas, which w e r e t o lead us beneath an ever-starry sky. T h e mission o f San F r a n c i s c o Solano, situated o n the left bank o f the Cassiquiare, was founded, as w e r e m o s t o f t h e Christian settlements south o f t h e G r e a t Cataracts o f t h e O r i n o c o , n o t b y m o n k s , b u t b y military authority. A t t h e t i m e o f the expedition o f the boundaries, villages were built in p r o p o r t i o n as a subteniente, o r a corporal, advanced with his t r o o p s . P a r t o f the natives, in order t o preserve their i n d e p e n d e n c e , retired w i t h o u t a s t r u g g l e ; others, o f w h o m t h e m o s t powerful chiefs had b e e n gained, j o i n e d the missions. "Where there was n o c h u r c h , they c o n t e n t e d t h e m selves with e r e c t i n g a great cross o f red w o o d , close t o which they c o n s t r u c t e d a casa fuerte, or block-house, the walls o f which w e r e formed o f large b e a m s resting h o r i zontally u p o n each other. T h i s h o u s e had t w o s t o r i e s ; in t h e u p p e r story t w o c a n n o n o f small calibre w e r e p l a c e d ; and t w o soldiers lived on the ground-floor, and w e r e served b y an Indian family. T h o s e o f the natives with w h o m t h e y w e r e at peace cultivated spots o f land r o u n d the casa fuerte. T h e soldiers called them t o g e t h e r b y the sound o f the h o r n , o r a botuto o f b a k e d earth, w h e n e v e r any hostile attack was dreaded. Such w e r e the p r e t e n d e d n i n e t e e n Christian settlements f o u n d e d b y D o n A n t o n i o Santos in t h e w a y f r o m Esmeralda t o t h e E r e v a t o . M i l i t a r y p o s t s , which had n o influence o n the civilization o f the natives, figured on t h e maps, and in the w o r k s o f the missionaries, as villages (pueblos) and reducciones apostolicas.* The preponderance o f the military was maintained o n the b a n k s o f t h e O r i n o c o till 1 7 8 5 , when the system o f t h e m o n k s o f San F r a n c i s c o * Signifying apostolic conquests or conversions.


406

OUR TRAVELLING

MENAGERIE.

began. T h e small n u m b e r o f missions f o u n d e d , o r rather re-established, since that period, o w e their existence t o t h e l a t h e r s o f the O b s e r v a n c e ; for the soldiers n o w distributed a m o n g t h e missions are d e p e n d e n t on t h e missionaries, o r at least are reputed to he so, according to the pretension! o f t h e ecclesiastical hierarchy. T h e Indians w h o m w o found at San F r a n c i s c o Solano w e r e o f t w o n a t i o n s ; Pacimonales and Cheruvichahenas. T h e latter b e i n g descended from a considerable tribe settled on the Rio T o m o , near the M a n i v a s o f the U p p e r Guainia, I tried to gather from them s o m e ideas respecting t h e u p p e r c o u r s e and the sources o f the Rio N e g r o ; b u t the interpreter w h o m I e m p l o y e d c o u l d n o t make them c o m p r e h e n d my questions. T h e i r continually-repeated answer was, that t h e sources o f the Rio N e g r o and the I n i r i d a w e r e as near t o each other as " t w o fingers o f the h a n d . " I n o n e o f the huts o f t h e Pacimonales w e purchased t w o fine large birds, a t o u c a n ( p i a p o c o ) and an ana, a species o f macaw, seventeen inches long, having the whole b o d y o f a purple c o l o u r . "We had already in our canoe seven parrots, t w o manakins ( p i p a ) , a m o t m o t , t w o g u a n s , or pavas de monte, t w o manaviria ( c e r c o l e p t e s or Viverra c a u d i v o l v u l a ) , and eight m o n keys, n a m e l y , t w o ateles,* t w o t i t i s , t one viudita, ‡ t w o d o u r o u c o u l i s o r n o c t u r n a l monkeys,|| and a short-tailed cacajao. § F a t h e r Z e a whispered s o m e c o m p l a i n t s at t h e daily a u g m e n t a t i o n o f this ambulatory collection. The toucan resembles the raven in manners and intelligence. It is a c o u r a g e o u s animal, b u t easily tamed. Its l o n g and s t o u t beak serves t o defend it at a distance. I t makes itself master o f t h e h o u s e , steals whatever it can c o m e at, and loves to bathe often and fish on the banks o f t h e river. T h e t o u c a n w e had b o u g h t was v e r y y o u n g ; y e t it t o o k delight, during t h e whole v o y a g e , in teasing the cusicusis, o r nocturnal m o n k e y s , which are melancholy and irritable. I did n o t observe what has b e e n related in s o m e works o f natural history, that the t o u c a n is forced, from t h e structure of the Great Cataracts, (Simia belzebuth, Brisson.) + Simia sciurea, the saimiri of Button. ‡ Simia lugens. || Cusiensi, or Simia trivirgata. § Simia melanocephala, (mono feo.) These last throe species are new. * Marimonda


PLAN OF OUR ENCAMPMENT.

407

o f its b e a k , t o swallow its f o o d b y t h r o w i n g it u p into the air. I t raises it indeed with s o m e difficulty from the g r o u n d , b u t , having o n c e seized it with the point o f its e n o r m o u s beak, it has o n l y t o lift it up b y throwing back its head, and h o l d i n g it perpendicularly whilst in the act o f swallowing. This bird makes extraordinary gestures when preparing to drink. T h e m o n k s say that it makes the sign o f the cross u p o n the w a t e r ; and this popular belief has obtained for the t o u c a n , from the creoles, the singular n a m e o f diostede.* M o s t o f o u r animals were confined in small w i c k e r cages ; others ran at full liberty in all parts o f the b o a t . A t t h e approach o f rain the macaws sent forth noisy cries, the t o u c a n w a n t e d t o reach the shore t o fish, and the little m o n k e y s ( t h e titis) w e n t in search o f Father Zea, to take shelter in the large sleeves o f his Franciscan habit. These incidents sometimes amused us so m u c h that w e f o r g o t the t o r m e n t o f the mosquitos. A t n i g h t w e placed a leather case ( p e t a c a ) , containing our provisions, in the c e n t r e ; then o u r instruments, and the cages o f o u r a n i m a l s ; o u r h a m m o c k s were suspended around the cages, and b e y o n d w e r e those o f the Indians. T h e exterior circle was formed b y t h e fires which arc lighted t o keep off the jaguars. Such was the o r d e r o f o u r e n c a m p m e n t on the banks of the Cassiquiare. T h e Indians often spoke t o us o f a little n o c t u r n a l animal, with a l o n g nose, which surprises t h e y o u n g parrots in their nests, and in eating makes use o f its hands like the m o n k e y s and the maniveris, o r kinkajous. T h e y call it the guachi; it is, n o d o u b t , a coati, perhaps the V i v e r r a nasua, which I saw wild in M e x i c o . T h e missionaries gravely prohibit the natives from eating t h e flesh o f t h e guachi, t o w h i c h , a c c o r d i n g t o far-spread superstitious ideas, they attribute the same stimulating qualities which the p e o p l e o f the East believe t o exist in the skink, and the A m e r i c a n s in t h e flesh o f the alligator. O n the 11th o f M a y , w e left t h e mission o f San F r a n cisco Solano at a late h o u r , t o make b u t a short d a y ' s journey. T h e uniform stratum o f vapours b e g a n t o b e divided into c l o u d s with distinct o u t l i n e s : and there was a * Dios te dè,

G o d gives it t h e e .


408

SINGULARLY-FORMED ROCKS.

light east wind in the u p p e r regions o f the air. W e r e c o g nized in these signs an approaching change o f the w e a t h e r ; and were unwilling t o g o far from the mouth o f the Cassiquiare, in the hope o f observing d u r i n g the following n i g h t the passage o f s o m e star over t h e meridian. W e descried the C a n o D a q u i a p o t o the south, the Guachaparu t o t h e north, a n d a few miles further, the rapids o f Cananivacari. T h e velocity o f the current being 63 feet in a s e c o n d , w o had t o struggle against the turbulent waves o f the Raudal. W e w e n t o n shore, and M . B o n p l a n d discovered within a few steps o f the beach a majestic almendron, or Bertholletia excelsa. T h e Indians assured u s , that the existence o f this valuable plant o f the banks o f the Cassiquiare was u n k n o w n at San F r a n c i s c o S o l a n o , Vasiva, and Esmeralda. T h e y did n o t think that the tree w e saw, which was more than sixty feet high, h a d been sown by some passing traveller. Experiments made at San Carlos have shown h o w rare it is t o succeed in causing the bertholletia to germinate, on a c c o u n t o f its ligneous pericarp, and the o i l contained in its n u t , which so readily b e c o m e s rancid. Perhaps this tree d e n o t e d t h e existence o f a forest o f bertholletia in the inland c o u n t r y on the east and north-east. W e k n o w , at least, with c e r tainty, that this fine tree g r o w s w i l d in the third degree o f latitude, in t h e C e r r o de G u a n a y a . T h e plants that live in society have seldom marked limits, a n d it, happens, that before we reach a palmar or a pinar, we find solitary palmtrees a n d pines. T h e y are somewhat like colonists that have advanced in t h e midst o f a c o u n t r y p e o p l e d with different v e g e t a b l e p r o d u c t i o n s . F o u r miles distant from t h e rapids o f Cunanivacari, rocks o f t h e s t r a n g e s t form rise in t h e plains. First appears a narrow wall eighty f e e t h i g h , a n d p e r p e n d i c u l a r ; a n d at the southern extremity o f this wall are t w o turrets, the courses o f which are o f granite, and nearly horizontal. T h e g r o u p i n g of the r o c k s o f Guanari is s o symmetrical that they m i g h t b e taken for the ruins o f an ancient edifice. A r e they the remains o f islets in the midst o f an inland sea, that c o v e r e d the flat, g r o u n d b e t w e e n t h e Sierra Parime a n d the Parecis * Two Spanish words, which, according to a Latin form, denote a forest of pulm-trees (palmetum) and of pines (pinetum).


THE CHIRIVA

PALM-TREE.

409

m o u n t a i n s ? * o r have these walls o f r o c k , these turrets o f granite, been upheaved b y the elastic forces that still act in the interior o f o u r planet ? W e m a y b e permitted t o m e d i tate a little o n the origin o f mountains, after having seen the position o f the M e x i c a n volcanos, and o f trachyte summits o n an elongated c r e v i c e ; having f o u n d in t h e A n d e s o f South A m e r i c a primitive and volcanic rocks in a straight line in the same c h a i n ; and when w e recollect t h e island, three miles in circumference, and o f a great height, which in m o d e r n times issued from the depths o f the ocean near Oonalaska. T h e banks o f the Cassiquiare are adorned with t h e chiriva palm-tree with pinnate leaves, silvery o n the u n d e r part. T h e rest o f t h e forest furnishes only trees with large, coriaceous, glossy leaves, that have plain edges. This peculiar p h y s i o g n o m y † o f the vegetation o f t h e Guainia, the Tuamini, and the Cassiquiare, is o w i n g t o t h e preponderance o f the families o f the guttiferæ, the sapotæ, and the laurineæ, in the equatorial regions. T h e serenity o f the sky p r o m i s i n g us a line night, we resolved, at five in the evening, t o rest near t h e Piedra de Culimacari, a solitary granite r o c k , like all t h o s e which I have described b e t w e e n t h e A t a b a p o and the Cassiquiare. W e found b y the bearings o f the sinuosities o f t h e river, that this rock is nearly in the latitude o f the mission o f San Francisco Solano. I n those desert countries, w h e r e man has hitherto left only fugitive traces o f his existence, I constantly endeavoured t o make m y observations near t h e m o u t h o f a river, o r at the foot o f a r o c k distinguishable b y its f o r m . Such points o n l y as are immutable b y their nature can serve for the basis o f geographical maps. I obtained, in the n i g h t o f the 10th o f M a y , a g o o d observat i o n o f latitude b y a o f t h e S o u t h e r n C r o s s ; t h e l o n g i t u d e was determined, but with less precision, b y t h e c h r o n o m e t e r , * The Sierra de la Parime, or of the Upper Orinoco, and the Sierra (or Campos) dos Parecis, are part of the mountains of Matto Grosso, and form the northern back of the Sierra de Chiquitos. I here name the two chains of mountains running from east to west, and bordering the plains or basins of the Cassiquiare, the Rio Negro, and the Amazon, between 5° 30' north, and 14° south latitude. † This physiognomy struck us forcibly, in the vast forests of Spanish Guiana, only between the second and third degrees of north latitudes.


410

THE

RIO

PACIMONI.

taking the altitudes o f the t w o beautiful stars which shine in t h e feet o f the Centaur. This observation made k n o w n t o us at the same time, with sufficient precision for the purposes o f g e o g r a p h y , the positions o f t h e m o u t h o f the P a c i m o n i , o f the fortress o f San Carlos, and o f the j u n c t i o n o f t h e Cassiquiare with the Rio N e g r o . T h e rock o f Culimacari is precisely in latitude 2째 0' 4 2 " , and probably in l o n g i t u d e 69째 33' 50". Satisfied with o u r observations, w e left the rock o f Culimacari at half past o n e on t h e m o r n i n g o f the 12th. The t o r m e n t o f mosquitos, t o which w e were exposed, a u g m e n t e d in p r o p o r t i o n as we withdrew from the Rio N e g r o . There are n o zancudos in the valley o f Cassiquiare, b u t the s i m u lia, and all t h e other insects o f the tipulary family, are the m o r e n u m e r o u s and v e n o m o u s . H a v i n g still eight nights to pass in the o p e n air in this damp and unhealthy climate, before w e c o u l d reach the mission o f Esmeralda, o u r pilot s o u g h t to arrange o u r passage in such a manner as m i g h t enable us t o e n j o y the hospitality o f the missionary o f Mandavaca, and some shelter in the village o f Vasiva. We w e n t up with difficulty against the current, which was nine feet, and in s o m e places (where I measured it with p r e c i s i o n ) eleven feet eight inches in a s e c o n d , that is, almost eight miles an hour. O u r resting-place was probably n o t farther than three leagues in a right line from the mission o f M a n d a v a c a ; y e t , t h o u g h w e had n o reason t o complain o f inactivity o n the part o f o u r rowers, w o were fourteen hours in making this short passage. T o w a r d s sunrise w e passed the m o u t h o f the Rio P a c i m o n i , a river which I m e n t i o n e d when speaking o f the trade in sarsaparilla, and which ( b y means o f the Baria) intertwines in so remarkable a way with the Cababuri. The Pacimoni rises in a hilly g r o u n d , from the confluence o f three small rivers,* not marked on the maps o f the missionaries. Its waters are black, b u t less so than those o f t h e lake o f Vasiva, which also c o m m u n i c a t e s with the Cassiquiare. Between those two tributary streams c o m i n g from the east, lies the mouth o f the Bio Idapa, the waters o f which are white. I shall not recur again to the difficulty o f * The Itios Gwijuvani, Morrjc, a n d Cuchevajnory.


INSECT-FOOD

OF THE NATIVES.

411

explaining this coexistence o f rivers differently c o l o u r e d , within a small e x t e n t o f territory, b u t shall merely o b s e r v e , that at the m o u t h o f the Pacimoni, and o n the borders o f t h e lake Vasiva, w e w e r e again struck with the purity and e x treme transparency o f the b r o w n w a t e r s . A n c i e n t A r a b i a n travellers have observed, that the A l p i n e branch o f t h e N i l e , which j o i n s the B a h r el A b i a d near Halfaja, has g r e e n waters, which are so transparent, that the fish m a y b e seen at the b o t t o m o f the river. We passed some turbulent rapids before w e reached t h e mission o f Mandavaca. T h e village, which bears also t h e name o f Quirabuena, contains only sixty natives. T h e state o f the Christian settlements is in general so miserable, t h a t , in the whole course o f the Cassiquiare, o n a l e n g t h o f fifty leagues, n o t t w o h u n d r e d inhabitants are f o u n d . The banks o f this river w e r e indeed m o r e p e o p l e d before t h e arrival o f t h e missionaries; the Indians have w i t h d r a w n into t h e w o o d s , toward the e a s t ; for t h e western plains are almost deserted. T h e natives subsist d u r i n g a part o f t h e y e a r o n those large ants o f which I have s p o k e n a b o v e . These insects are m u c h e s t e e m e d here, as spiders are in t h e s o u t h ern hemisphere, w h e r e the savages o f Australia d e e m t h e m delicious. W e found at M a n d a v a c a t h e g o o d old m i s s i o n ary, w h o had already spent " t w e n t y years o f m o s q u i t o s in t h e bosques del Cassiquiare" and w h o s e legs w e r e so s p o t t e d b y the stings o f insects, that t h e c o l o u r o f the skin c o u l d scarcely b e perceived. He talked t o us o f his solitude, a n d o f the sad necessity which often compelled him t o leave t h o m o s t atrocious crimes u n p u n i s h e d in the t w o missions o f M a n d a v a c a and Vasiva. I n t h e latter place, an I n d i a n alcalde had, a few years before, eaten o n e o f his wives, after having taken her t o his conuco,* and fattened her b y g o o d feeding. T h e cannibalism o f the nations o f G u i a n a is n e v e r caused b y the want o f subsistence, o r b y the superstitions o f their religion, as in the islands o f t h e South S e a ; b u t is generally the effect o f the vengeance o f a c o n q u e r o r , and ( a s the missionaries say) " o f a vitiated a p p e t i t e . " Victory over a hostile tribe is celebrated b y a repast, in which s o m e parts o f the body o f a prisoner are devoured. S o m e t i m e s a * A hut surrounded with cultivated ground ; a sort of country-house, which the natives prefer to residing in the missions.


412

ENMITY OF THE INDIAN TRIBES.

defenceless family is surprised in the night; or an enemy, who is met with by chance in the woods, is killed by a poisoned arrow. The body is cut to pieces, and carried as a trophy to the hut. I t is civilization only, that has made man feel the unity of the human race; which has revealed to him, as we may say, the ties of consanguinity, by which he is linked to beings to whose language and manners he is a stranger. Savages know only their own family; and a tribe appears to them but a more numerous assemblage of relations. W h e n those who inhabit the missions see I n dians of the forest, who are unknown to them, arrive, they make use of an expression, which has struck us by its simple candour; " t h e y are, no doubt, my relations: I understand them when they speak to m e . " But these very savages detest all who are not of their family, or their tribe; and hunt the Indians of a neighbouring tribe, who live at war with their own, as we hunt, game. They know the duties of family ties and of relationship, but not those of humanity, which require the feeling of a common tie with beings framed like ourselves. No emotion of pity prompts them to spare the wives or children of a hostile race; and the latter are devoured in preference, at the repast, given at the conclusion of a battle or warlike incursion. The hatred which savages for the most, part feel for men who speak another idiom, and appear to them to be of an inferior race, is sometimes rekindled in the missions, after having long slumbered. A short time before our arrival at Esmeralda, an Indian, born in the forest* behind the Duida, travelled alone with another Indian, who, after having been made prisoner by the Spaniards on the banks of the Ventuario, lived peaceably in the village, or, as it is expressed here, "within the sound of the bell," (debaxo de la campa単a.) The latter could only walk slowly, because he was suffering from one of those fevers to which the natives are subject, when they arrive in the missions, and abruptly change their diet. Wearied by his delay, his fellow-traveller * En el monte. The Indians born in the missions are distinguished from those born in the woods. The word monte signifies more frequently, in the colonics, a forest (bosque) than a mountain, and this circumstance hasledto great errors in our maps, on which chains of mountains (sierra) arefigured,where there areonlythick forests, (monte espeso.)


CANNIBALISM

AND HUMAN

SACRIFICES.

413

killed him, and hid the b o d y behind a c o p s e o f thick trees, near Esmeralda. This c r i m e , like many others a m o n g the Indians, would have remained u n k n o w n , if the murderer had not made preparations for a feast o n t h e following day. He tried t o induce his children, b o r n in the mission and b e c o m e Christians, t o g o with him for s o m e parts o f the dead b o d y . T h e y had m u c h difficulty in persuading him t o desist from his p u r p o s e ; and the soldier w h o was p o s t e d at Esmeralda, learned from t h e d o m e s t i c squabble caused b y this event, what the Indians w o u l d have concealed from his k n o w l e d g e . I t is k n o w n that cannibalism and t h e practice o f human sacrifices, with which it is often c o n n e c t e d , are f o u n d t o exist in all parts o f the g l o b e , and a m o n g p e o p l e o f v e r y different races ;* b u t what strikes u s m o r e in the study o f history is t o see h u m a n sacrifices retained in a state o f civilization somewhat a d v a n c e d ; and that the nations w h o hold it a p o i n t o f h o n o u r t o devour their prisoners are n o t always the rudest and m o s t ferocious. T h e painful facts have n o t escaped the observation o f those missionaries w h o are sufficiently enlightened t o reflect o n the manners o f the surrounding tribes. T h e Cabres, the G u i p u ù a v e s , and the Caribs, have always b e e n m o r e p o w e r f u l a n d m o r e civilized than the other hordes o f the O r i n o c o ; and y e t the t w o former are as m u c h addicted t o a n t h r o p o p h a g y as the latter are repugnant t o it. W e m u s t carefully distinguish the different branches i n t o which the great family o f the Caribbee nations is divided. T h e s e branches are as n u m e r o u s as those o f the M o n g o l s , and the western Tartars, o r T u r c o m a n s . T h e Caribs o f the c o n t i n e n t , those w h o inhabit the plains b e t w e e n t h e L o w e r O r i n o c o , the Rio B r a n c o , t h e E s s e q u i b o , and the sources o f the O y a p o c , hold in h o r r o r t h e practice o f devouring their enemies. This barbarous c u s t o m , † at t h e first discovery o f A m e r i c a , * Some casual instances of children carried off by the negroes in the island of Cuba have led to the belief, in the Spanish colonies, that there are tribes of cannibals in Africa. This opinion, though supported by gome travellers, is not borne out by the researches of Mr. Barrow on the interior of that country. Superstitious practices may have given rise to imputations perhaps as unjust as those of which Jewish families were the victims in the ages of intolerance and persecution. † See Geraldini Itinerarium, p. 186, and the eloquent tract of cardinal Bembo on the discoveries of Columbus. " Insularum partem homines


414

INNATE FEROCITY OF THE INDIANS.

existed o n l y a m o n g the Caribs o f the W e s t I n d i e s . I t is they w h o have rendered the names o f cannibals, C a r i b b e e s , and a n t h r o p o p h a g i , s y n o n y m o u s ; it was their cruelties that p r o m p t e d t h e law p r o m u l g a t e d in 1 5 0 4 , b y which t h e Spaniards w e n ; p e r m i t t e d t o make a slave o f every i n d i vidual o f an A m e r i c a n n a t i o n which c o u l d b e p r o v e d t o b e o f Caribbee origin. I believe, h o w e v e r , that the a n t h r o p o p h a g y o f the inhabitants o f the W e s t I n d i a Islands was much exaggerated b y early travellers, whose stories H e r r e r a , a grave and j u d i c i o u s historian, has n o t disdained t o repeat in his Decades historicas. H e has even credited that extraordinary event which led t h e Caribs t o r e n o u n c e this barb a r o u s c u s t o m . T h e natives o f a little island d e v o u r e d a D o m i n i c a n m o n k w h o m they had carried off from t h e coast o f P o r t o R i c o ; t h e y all fell sick, and w o u l d never again eat monk or layman." I f the Caribs o f t h e O r i n o c o , since t h e c o m m e n c e m e n t o f the sixteenth c e n t u r y , have differed in their manners from those o f the W e s t I n d i a I s l a n d s ; if they are unjustly accused o f a n t h r o p o p h a g y ; it is difficult t o attribute this difference t o any superiority o f their social state. The strangest contrasts are found blended in this mixture o f nations, s o m e o f w h o m live o n l y u p o n fish, m o n k e y s , and a n t s ; while others are m o r e o r less cultivators o f t h e g r o u n d , m o r e o r less o c c u p i e d in m a k i n g and p a i n t i n g p o t t e r y , o r w e a v i n g h a m m o c k s o r c o t t o n cloth. Several o f the latter tribes have preserved i n h u m a n c u s t o m s altog e t h e r u n k n o w n t o the former. " Y o u cannot imagine," said the old missionary o f M a n d a v a c a , " the perversity o f this I n d i a n race (familia de I n d i o s ) . Y o u receive m e n o f a n e w tribe i n t o t h e v i l l a g e ; t h e y appear t o b e m i l d , g o o d , incolebant feri trucesque, qui puerorum et virorum carnibus, quos aliis in insulis hello aut latrociniis cepissent, vescebantur ; a feminis abstinebant; Canibales appellati.'' — " Some ut the islands are inhabited by a cruel and savage race, called cannibals, who out the flesh of men and boys, and captives and slaves of the male sex, abstaining from that of females." (Hist. Venet., 1551.) The custom of sparing the lives of female prisoners confirms what I have previously said, p. 326, of the language of the women. Does the word cannibal, applied to the Caribs of the West India Islands, belong to the language of this archipelago (that of Hayti)? or must we seek for it in an idiom of Florida, which some traditions indicate us the first country of the Caribi ?


THEIR

CANNIBAL TASTES.

415

and l a b o r i o u s ; b u t suffer t h e m t o take part in an i n c u r s i o n ( e n t r a d a ) t o b r i n g i n t h e natives, a n d y o u c a n scarcely prevent t h e m f r o m m u r d e r i n g all they m e e t , a n d hiding some p o r t i o n s o f t h e dead b o d i e s . " I n reflecting o n t h e manners o f these I n d i a n s , w e are almost horrified at that c o m b i n a t i o n o f sentiments which seem t o exclude each o t h e r ; that faculty o f nations t o b e c o m e b u t partially h u m a n i z e d ; that p r e p o n d e r a n c e o f c u s t o m s , prejudices, a n d traditions, over the natural affections o f t h e heart. W e had a fugitive I n d i a n f r o m t h e Guaisia i n o u r c a n o e , w h o h a d b e c o m e sufficiently civilized i n a f e w w e e k s t o b e useful t o u s i n placing t h e instruments necessary f o r o u r observations a t night. H e w a s n o less m i l d than intelligent, and w e h a d s o m e desire o f taking him into o u r service. W h a t was o u r h o r r o r w h e n , talking t o h i m b y m e a n s o f a n interpreter, w e learned, " that t h e flesh o f t h e m a r i m o n d e m o n k e y s , t h o u g h blacker, appeared t o him t o have the taste o f h u m a n flesh." H e t o l d us " t h a t his relations (that is, t h e p e o p l e o f his t r i b e ) preferred t h e inside o f t h e hands i n m a n , as in b e a r s . " T h i s assertion w a s a c c o m p a n i e d with gestures o f savage gratification. W e inquired o f this y o u n g man, so calm and s o affectionate i n t h e little services which h e rendered u s , w h e t h e r h e still felt s o m e t i m e s a desire t o eat o f a Cheruvichahena. H e answered, w i t h o u t d i s c o m p o s u r e , that, living in the mission, h e w o u l d o n l y eat what h e saw was eaten b y t h e Padres. R e p r o a c h e s addressed t o t h e natives o n t h e abominable practice w h i c h w e here discuss, p r o d u c e n o e f f e c t ; i t is as i f a B r a h m i n , travelling i n E u r o p e , w e r e t o reproach u s w i t h t h e habit o f feeding o n the flesh o f animals. I n t h e eyes o f t h e I n d i a n o f t h e Guaisia, the Cheruvichahcna was a b e i n g entirely different from h i m s e l f ; a n d o n e w h o m h e t h o u g h t i t w a s n o m o r e unjust t o kill than t h e j a g u a r s o f the forest. I t w a s merely from a sense o f p r o p r i e t y that, whilst h e remained i n t h e mission, h o w o u l d only e a t t h e same f o o d as t h e F a t h e r s . The natives, i f they return t o their tribe ( a l m o n t e ) , o r find themselves pressed b y h u n g e r , s o o n r e s u m e their o l d habits o f a n t h r o p o p h a g y . A n d w h y should w e b e so m u c h astonished at this i n c o n s t a n c y i n t h e t r i b e s o f t h e O r i n o c o , w h e n w e a r e r e m i n d e d , b y terrible a n d well-ascertained examples, o f w h a t has passed a m o n g civilized nations i n


416

INTELLIGENCE

OF CERTAIN

TRIBES.

times o f great scarcity ? I n E g y p t , in the thirteenth c e n t u r y , the habit o f eating human flesh pervaded all classes o f s o c i e t y ; extraordinary snares were spread for physicians in particular. T h e y w e r e called t o attend persons w h o pretended to be sick, but who were Only h u n g r y ; and it was n o t in order t o b e consulted, b u t devoured. A n historian o f great veracity, Abd-allatif, has related how a practice, which at first inspired dread and horror, s o o n o c c a sioned n o t even the slightest s u r p r i s e . " * A l t h o u g h the Indians of the Cassiquiare readily return to their barbarous habits, they evince, whilst in the missions, intelligence, some love o f labour, and, in particular, a great facility in learning the Spanish language. T h e villages being, for the most part, inhabited by three or four tribes, w h o d o n o t understand each other, a foreign idiom, which is at the same t i m e that o f the civil p o w e r , the language o f the missionary, affords t h e advantage o f m o r e general means o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n . I heard a Poiùave Indian c o n v e r s i n g in Spanish with a G u a h i b o , t h o u g h b o t h had c o m e from their forests within three m o n t h s . T h e y u t t e r e d a phrase every quarter o f an hour, prepared with difficulty, and in which the g e r u n d o f the v e r b , n o d o u b t according to the grammatical turn o f their own languages, was constantly * " When the poor began to eat human flesh, the horror and astonishment caused by repasts so dreadful were such that these crimes furnished the never-ceasing subject of every conversation. But at length the people became so accustomed to it, and conceived such a taste for this detestable food, that people of wealth and respectability were found to use it as their ordinary food, to eat it by way of a treat, and even to lay in a stock of it. This flesh was prepared in different ways, and the practice being once introduced, spread into the provinces, so that instances of it were found in every part of Egypt. It then no longer caused any surprise; the horror it had at first, inspired vanished ; and it was mentioned as an indifferent and ordinary thing. This mania of devouring one another became so common among the poor, that the greater part perished in this manner. These wretches employed all sorts of artifices, to seize men by surprise, or decoy them into their houses under false pretences. This happened to three physicians among those who visited me ; and a bookseller who sold me books, an old and very corpulent man, fell into their snares, and escaped with great difficulty. All the facts which we relate as eye-witnesses fell under our observation accidentally, for we generally avoided witnessing spectacles which inspired us with so much horror." — Account of Egypt by Abd-allatif, physician of Bagdad, translated into trench by De Sacy, p. 360 — 374.


417

S U P E R I O R A C T I V I T Y OF O T H E R S .

employed.

" W h e n I seeing Padre,

Padre to me saying

;"*

instead of, " when I saw the missionary, he said to me." I have mentioned in another place, how wise it appeared to me in the Jesuits to generalize one of the languages of civilized America, for instance that of the Peruvians, † and instruct the Indians in an idiom which is foreign to them in its roots, but not in its structure and grammatical forms. This was following the system which the Incas, or kingpriests of Peru had employed for a g e s , in order to humanize the barbarous nations of the Upper Maranon, and maintain them under their domination; a system somewhat more reasonable than that of making the natives of America speak Latin, as w a s g r a v e l y proposed in a p r o v i n c i a l concilio at Mexico. W e were told that the Indians of the Cassiquiare and the Rio Negro are preferred on the Lower Orinoco, and especially at Angostura, to the inhabitants of the other missions, on account of their intelligence and activity. Those of Mandavaca are celebrated among the tribes of their own race for the preparation of the curare poison, which does not yield in strength to the curare of Esmeralda. Unhappily the natives devote themselves to this employment more than to agriculture. Yet the soil on the banks of the Cassiquiare is excellent. W e find there a granitic sand, of a blackish-brown colour, which is covered in the forests with thick layers of rich earth, and on the banks of the river with clay almost impermeable to water. The soil of the Cassiquiare appears more fertile than that of the valley of the Rio Negro, where maize does not prosper. Rice, beans, cotton, sugar, and indigo yield rich harvests, wherever their cultivation has been tried. ‡ W e saw wild indigo around the missions of San Miguel de Davipe, San Carlos, and Mandavaca. No doubt can exist that several nations of America, particularly the Mexicans, long before the conquest, employed real indigo in their hieroglyphic * " Quando io mirando Padre, Padre me d i c i e n d o . " † The Q u i c h u a or Inca language (Lengua del Inga). ‡ M. Bonpland found at Mandavaca, in the huts of the natives, a plant with tuberous roots, exactly like cassava (yucca). It is called cumapana, and is cooked by being baked on the ashes. It grows spontaneously on t h e banks of the Cassiquiare. VOL.

II.

2 E


418

HORTICULTURAL DIFFICUTIES.

p a i n t i n g s ; and that small cakes o f this substance 'were sold at the great market o f T e n o c h t i t l a n . B u t a colouring matter, chemically identical, m a y b e extracted from plants b e l o n g i n g t o n e i g h b o u r i n g g e n e r a ; and I should n o t at present v e n t u r e t o affirm that t h e native indigoferæ o f A m e r i c a do n o t furnish some generic difference from the I n d i g o f e r a anil, and the I n d i g o f e r a argentea o f the O l d World. I n the coffee-trees o f b o t h hemispheres this difference has b e e n observed. H e r e , as at t h e R i o N e g r o , the h u m i d i t y o f the air, and the consequent abundance o f insects, are obstacles almost invincible t o n e w cultivation. E v e r y w h e r e y o u m e e t with those large ants that march in close bands, and direct their attacks the more readily on cultivated plants, because they are herbaceous and succulent, whilst the forests o f these countries afford only plants with w o o d y stalks. I f a m i s sionary wishes t o cultivate salad, o r any culinary plant o f Europe, he is compelled as it were to suspend his garden ill the air. H e fills an old boat with g o o d m o u l d , and, having s o w n the seed, suspends it four feet above the g r o u n d with c o r d s of the chiquichiqui p a l m - t r e e ; b u t m o s t frequently places it o n a slight scaffolding. This p r o t e c t s the y o u n g plants from weeds, w o r m s , and those ants which pursue their migration in a right line, and, n o t k n o w i n g what vegetates above them, seldom turn from their course to climb up stakes that are st ripped o f their bark. I mention this circumstance to prove how difficult, within the tropics, o n the banks of great rivers, are the first attempts o f man t o a p p r o priate t o himself a little spot o f earth in that vast d o m a i n o f nature, invaded b y animals, and covered by spontaneous plants. During the night of the 13th o f May. I obtained some observations o f the stars, unfortunately the last at the Cassiquiare. T h e latitude o f M a n d a v a c a is 2° 4' 7 " ; its l o n g i tude, according to the c h r o n o m e t e r , 69° 27'. I found the magnetic dip 25 25° (cent. div.), showing that it had increased considerably from the fort of San Carlos. Yet the surrounding rocks are o f the same granite, m i x e d with a little hornblende, which we had found at Javita, and which assumes a syenitic aspect. W e left Mandavaca at half-past t w o in the m o r n i n g . A f t e r six h o u r s ' v o y a g e , w e passed o n


419

PLAGUE OF INSECTS.

the east the m o u t h o f t h e I d a p a , o r Siapa, which rises on the m o u n t a i n o f U u t u r a n , and furnishes near its sources a p o r t a g e t o the Rio M a v a c a , one o f the tributary streams o f the O r i n o c o . This river has white waters, and is n o t m o r e than half as b r o a d as the P a c i m o n i , the waters o f which are black. I t s u p p e r course has been strangely misrepresented o n maps. I shall have occasion hereafter t o m e n t i o n the hypotheses that have given rise to these errors, in speaking of the source o f the O r i n o c o . W e s t o p p e d near the raudal o f Cunuri. T h e noise o f the little cataract augmented sensibly during the night, and o u r Indians asserted that it was a certain presage o f rain. I recollected that the mountaineers o f the A l p s have great confidence in the same p r o g n o s t i c . * I t fell before s u n r i s e ; and the araguato m o n k e y s had warned us, b y their l e n g t h e n e d b o w l i n g s , o f the approaching rain, l o n g before the noise o f t h e cataract increased. O n the 14th, the m o s q u i t o s , and especially the ants, drove us from the shore before t w o in the m o r n i n g . W e had hitherto been o f opinion that t h e ants did n o t crawl along the c o r d s b y which the h a m m o c k s are usually suspended : w h e t h e r w e w e r e c o r r e c t in this supposition, o r w h e t h e r the ants fell o n us from the t o p s o f the trees, I c a n n o t say; b u t certain it is that w e hud great difficulty t o k e e p ourselves free f r o m these t r o u b l e s o m e insects. T h e river b e c a m e narrower as w e advanced, and the banks w e r e so marshy, that it was n o t w i t h o u t m u c h labour M . B o n p l a n d could g e t t o a Carolinea princeps loaded with large p u r p l e flowers. This tree is t h e m o s t beautiful ornament o f these forests, and o f those o f t h e Rio N e g r o . W e examined repeatedly, during this day, t h e temperature o f the Cassi* " It is going to rain, because we hear the murmur of the torrents nearer," say the mountaineers of the Alps, like those of the Andes. The cause of the phenomenon is a modification of the atmosphere, which has an influence at once on the sonorous and on the luminous undulations. The prognostic drawn from the increase and the intensity of sound is intimately connected with the prognostic drawn from a less extinction of light. The mountaineers predict a change of weather, when, the air being calm, the Alps covered with perpetual snow seem on a sudden to be nearer the observer, and their outlines are marked with great distinctness on the azure sky. What is it that causes the want of homogeneity in the vertical strata of the atmosphere to disappear instantaneously ? 2 e 2


420

REGION OF BAMBOOS.

quiare. T h e water at the surface o f the river was only 24째 ( w h e n the air was at 25 6 째 ) . This is nearly the temperature o f the R i o N e g r o , b u t f o u r o r five degrees b e l o w that o f the O r i n o c o . A f t e r having passed o n the west the m o u t h o f the Cano Caterico, which has black waters o f extraordinary transparency, w e left t h e b e d o f the river, t o land at an island o n which t h e mission o f Vasiva is established. T h e lake which surrounds this mission is a league broad, and c o m m u n i c a t e s b y three outlets with the Cassiquiare. The surrounding c o u n t r y a b o u n d s in marshes which generate fever. T h e lake, t h e w a t e r s o f w h i c h appear y e l l o w b y transmitted light, is dry in the season o f great heat, and the Indians themselves are unable to resist the miasmata rising from the m u d . T h e c o m p l e t e absence o f w i n d c o n t r i b u t e s to render the climate o f this c o u n t r y more pernicious. F r o m the 14th t o the 21st o f M a y w e slept constantly in the o p e n a i r ; b u t I c a n n o t indicate the spots where w o halted. T h e s e r e g i o n s are so wild, and so little frequented, that with the exception o f a few rivers, the Indians were ignorant of the names o f all the objects which I set by the compass. No observation o f a star helped me to fix thy latitude within the space o f a degree. After having passed the point where the Itinivini separates from the Cassiquiare, t o take its c o u r s e t o t h e west towards the granitic hills o f Daripabo, we found the marshy banks o f the river covered with b a m b o o s . These; arborescent gramina rise t o the height of twenty f e e t ; their stem is constantly arched t o w a r d s the s u m m i t . I t is a n e w species o f B a m b u s a with very broad leaves. M . Bonpland fortunately found one in f l o w e r ; a circumstance I m e n t i o n , because the genera N a s t u s and Bambusa had before been very imperfectly distinguished, and nothing is m o r e rare in the New W o r l d , than to see these gigantic gramina in flower. M . M u t i s herborised during twenty years in a c o u n t r y where the Bambusa guadua forms marshy forests several leagues broad, wit bout having ever been able to procure the flowers. W e sent that learned naturalist the first cars of Bambusa from the temperate vallies o f Popayan. It is strange that the parts o f fructification should develope themselves so rarely in a, plan which is indigenous, and which vegetates with such extraordinary vigour, from the level o f the sea to the height o f nine hundred


DIFFICULTY OF LANDING.

421

toises, that is, t o a subalpine r e g i o n the climate o f w h i c h , b e t w e e n the tropics, resembles that o f the south o f Spain. T h e B a m b u s a latifolia seems t o b e peculiar t o the basins o f the U p p e r O r i n o c o , the Cassiquiare, and the A m a z o n ; it is a social plant, like all the gramina o f the family o f the nasto誰des ; b u t in that part o f Spanish G u i a n a which w e traversed it does n o t g r o w in those large masses which t h e Spanish A m e r i c a n s call guadales, or forests o f b a m b o o s . O u r first resting-place above Vasiva was easily arranged. We found a little n o o k o f dry g r o u n d , free from shrubs, t o the south o f the Cano Curamuni, in a spot where w e saw some c a p u c h i n m o n k e y s . * T h e y w e r e recognizable b y their black beards and their g l o o m y and sullen air, a n d w e r e walking slowly o n the horizontal branches o f a genipa. D u r i n g the five following n i g h t s o u r passage was the m o r e t r o u b l e s o m e in p r o p o r t i o n as we approached the bifurcation o f the O r i n o c o . T h e luxuriance o f the vegetation i n creases in a manner of which it is difficult even for those acquainted with the aspect o f the forests b e t w e e n the t r o p i c s , to form an idea, T h e r e is n o l o n g e r a bank : a palisade o f tufted trees forms the margin o f the river. Y o u see a canal t w o b u n d l e d toises broad, bordered b y t w o e n o r m o u s walls, clothed with lianas and foliage. W e often tried t o land, out w i t h o u t success. T o w a r d s sunset w e sailed along for an hour seeking to discover, n o t an o p e n i n g (since n o n e e x i s t s ) , b u t a s p o t less w o o d e d , where o u r I n d i a n s b y means of the hatchet and manual labour, c o u l d clear space e n o u g h for a resting-place for twelve o r thirteen p e r s o n s . I t was impossible to pass t h e n i g h t in t h e c a n o e ; the m o s q u i t o s , which t o r m e n t e d us d u r i n g the day, accumulated toward evening beneath the t o l d o covered with palm-leaves, which served t o shelter u s f r o m t h e rain. O u r hands and faces had never before been so m u c h swelled. F a t h e r Zea, w h o had till then b o a s t e d o f having in his missions o f the cataracts the largest and fiercest (las mas feroces) m o s q u i t o s , at length gradually a c k n o w l e d g e d that the sting o f the insects o f the Cassiquiare was the m o s t painful he had ever felt. "We e x p e r i e n c e d great difficulty, amid a thick forest, in finding w o o d t o make a fire, the branches o f t h e trees in * Simia chiropotes.


422

PICTURESQUE

ENCAMPMENT.

t h o s e equatorial r e g i o n s where it always rains, b e i n g so full o f sap, that t h e y will scarcely b u r n . T h e r e b e i n g n o bare shore, it is hardly possible t o p r o c u r e old w o o d , which the I n d i a n s call w o o d baked in the sun. H o w e v e r , fire was necessary to us only as a defence against the beasts o f the f o r e s t ; lor we had such a scarcity o f provision that we had little need o f fuel for the p u r p o s e o f preparing o u r f o o d . O n the 18th o f M a y , towards evening, we discovered a spot where wild cacao-trees w e r e g r o w i n g o n the bank o f the river. T h e nut o f these cacaos is small and bitter; the Indians o f the forest suck the pulp, and throw away the nut, which is picked up by the Indians o f the missions, and sold t o p e r s o n s w h o are n o t very nice in the preparation o f their chocolate. "This is the Puerto del C a c a o " ( C a c a o P o r t ) , said t h e p i l o t ; " it is here our Padres sleep, w h e n they g o t o Esmeralda to buy s a r b a c a n s and juvias ( B r a z i l n u t s ) . Not five b o a t s , h o w e v e r , pass annually b y the Cassiquiare; and since we left M a y p u r e s (a whole m o n t h p r e v i o u s l y ) , w e had n o t met o n e living soul o n the rivers we navigated, e x c e p t ill the immediate neighbourhood o f the missions. T o the south o f lake Duractumuni we slept in a forest o f palm-trees. It rained violently, b u t t h e p o t h o s e s , arums, and lianas, f u r nished so thick a natural trellis, thai we were sheltered as under a vault o f foliage. T h e Indians whose hammocks were placed on the e d g e o f the river, interwove the heliconias and other musaceÌ, so as to form a kind o f roof over them. O u r fires lighted up, to the height o f fifty o r sixty feet, the palm-trees, the lianas loaded with flowers, and the c o l u m n s o f white s m o k e , which ascended in a straight line t o w a r d the sky. T h e whole exhibited a magnificent s p e c tacle; but to have enjoyed it fully, we should have breathed an air clear o f insects. T h e most depressing o f all physical sufferings are those which are uniform in their duration, and can be c o m b a t e d only by long patience. It is probable, that in the exhalat i o n s o f the forests o f the Cassiquiare M . Bonpland imbibed the seeds o f a seven; malady, under which he nearly sunk o n o u r arrival at A n g o s t u r a . Happily for him and for m e , nothing led us to presage the danger with which he was * The bamboo tubes furnished by the Arundinaria, used for projecting the poisoned arrows of the natives.—See Views of Nature, p. 180.


DANGERS OF RIVER-NAVIGATION.

423

menaced. T h e view o f the river, and the h u m o f the insects, were a little m o n o t o n o u s ; b u t some remains o f our natural cheerfulness enabled us t o find sources o f relief during o u r wearisome passage. W e discovered, that b y eating small portions o f dry cacao g r o u n d w i t h o u t sugar, and drinking a large quantity o f the river water, w e succeeded in appeasing our appetite for several hours. T h e ants and t h e m o s q u i t o s troubled us m o r e than the humidity and t h e w a n t o f food. N o t w i t h s t a n d i n g the privations t o which w e were e x p o s e d during our excursions in the Cordilleras, the navigation from M a n d a v a c a t o Esmeralda has always appeared to us t h e most painful part of our travels in A m e r i c a . I advise those w h o are n o t very desirous o f seeing the great bifurcation o f the O r i n o c o , t o take the w a y o f the A t a b a p o in preference t o that o f the Cassiquiare. A b o v e the Ca単o D u r a c t u m u n i , the Cassiquiare pursues a uniform direction from north-east to south-west. W e were surprised t o see h o w m u c h the high steep banks o f the Cassiquiare bad been undermined on each side by the sudden risings o f the water. U p r o o t e d trees formed as it were natural rafts; a n d b e i n g half-buried in the m u d , t h e y w e r e extremely dangerous for canoes. W e passed the n i g h t o f the 2 0 t h o f M a y , the last o f o u r passage o n the Cassiquiare, near t h e p o i n t o f the bifurcation o f the O r i n o c o . W e had some h o p e o f b e i n g able t o make an astronomical observation, as falling-stars o f remarkable magnitude were visible t h r o u g h the vapours that veiled the sky; w h e n c e w e c o n c l u d e d that the stratum o f vapours m u s t be very thin, since meteors o f this kind have scarcely ever b e e n seen below a cloud. T h o s e w e n o w beheld shot t o w a r d s t h e north, and succeeded each other at almost equal intervals. T h e I n d i a n s , w h o seldom e n n o b l e b y their expressions t h e wanderings o f the imagination, n a m e the falling-stars t h e urine; a n d the d e w the spittle of the stars. The clouds t h i c k e n e d anew, and we discerned neither the meteors, n o r t h e real stars, for which w e had impatienly waited d u r i n g several days. W e had b e e n t o l d , that w e should find t h e insects at Esmeralda " s t i l l more cruel and v o r a c i o u s , " than in the branch o f the O r i n o c o which w e were g o i n g u p ; nevertheless


424

AUDACITY OF A JAGUAR.

w e indulged the h o p e o f at length sleeping in a spot that was inhabited, and o f taking some exercise in herbalizing. This anticipation was, however, disturbed at o u r last restingplace o n the Cassiquiare, W h i l s t w e were sleeping o n the e d g e o f the forest, w e w e r e warned b y the I n d i a n s , in the middle o f the night, that they heard very near us the cries o f a jaguar. T h e s e cries, t h e y alleged, c a m e from the t o p o f some neighbouring trees. Such is the thickness o f the forests in these r e g i o n s , that scarcely any animals are t o be found there b u t such as climb t r e e s ; as, for instance, the monkeys, animals o f the weasel tribe, jaguars, and other species o f the genus Felis. As our fires burnt brightly, we paid little attention to t h e cries o f the jaguars. T h e y had b e e n attracted b y the smell and noise o f our d o g . This animal (which was o f the mastiff b r e e d ) b e g a n at first to b a r k ; and w h e n the tiger d r e w nearer, to howl, hiding himself below our hammocks. How great was our grief, when In the morning, at the m o m e n t o f re-embarking, the Indians informed us that the d o g had disappeared! There could be no doubt that, it had been carried off by the j a g u a r s . * Perhaps, when their cries had ceased, it had wandered from the fires on the side o f t h e beach; and p o s s i b l y we had not heard its moans, as we were in a profound sleep. W e have often heard the inhabitants o f the banks o f the O r i n o c o and the Rio Magdalena affirm, that the oldest jaguars will carry off animals from the midst o f a halting-place, cunningly grasping them by the neck so as t o prevent their cries. W e waited part o f the m o r n i n g , in the hope that o u r d o g had only strayed. Three days after we came back to the same place; we heard again the cries o f the j a g u a r s , for these animals have a predilection for particular s p o t s : hut all our search was vain. T h e d o g , which had accompanied us from Caracas, and had so often in s w i m m i n g escaped the pursuit o f the crocodiles, † had been devoured ill the forest. O n t h e 2 1 s t M a y , w e again e n t e r e d t h e b e d o f t h e O r i n o c o , t h r e e leagues below the mission o f Esmeralda. It was now a month since we had left that river near the mouth o f t h e Guaviare. W e had still to proceed seven * See Views of Nature, p. 195.

t Ibid., p. 198.


EARLY GEOGRAPHICAL DOUBTS.

425

hundred and fifty m i l e s * before reaching A n g o s t u r a , b u t w e should g o with the s t r e a m ; and this consideration lessened o u r discouragement. I n d e s c e n d i n g great rivers, the r o w e r s take the middle o f the current, w h e r e there are few m o s q u i t o s ; b u t in ascending, they are obliged, in order t o avail t h e m selves o f the dead waters and counter-currents, t o sail near the shore, where the p r o x i m i t y o f the forests, and t h e remains o f organic substances accumulated o n t h e beach, harbour t h e tipulary insects. T h e p o i n t o f t h e celebrated bifurcation o f the O r i n o c o has a very i m p o s i n g aspect. L o f t y granitic mountains rise o n t h e northern b a n k ; and amidst them are discovered at a distance the M a r a g u a c a and t h e Duida. T h e r e arc n o mountains o n the left bank o f t h e O r i n o c o , w e s t or east o f the bifurcation, till opposite the m o u t h o f the Tamatama, O n that spot stands t h e r o c k O u a r a c o , w h i c h is said t o t h r o w o u t flames from t i m e t o time in the rainy season. W h e n the O r i n o c o is n o l o n g e r b o u n d e d by mountains t o w a r d s t h e south, and w h e n it reaches the o p e n i n g o f a valley, o r rather a depression o f the ground, which terminates at the Rio N e g r o , it divides itself into t w o branches. T h e principal branch ( t h e Rio Paragua o f the Indians) c o n t i n u e s its course west-north-west, turning round the g r o u p o f the mountains o f P a r i m e ; the other branch forming the communication with the A m a z o n runs into plains, the general slope o f which is southward, b u t o f w h i c h the partial planes incline, in the Cassiquiare, to south-west, and in t h e basin o f the Rio N e g r o , south-east. A p h e n o m e n o n so strange in appearance, which I verified on t h e s p o t , merits particular attention; the m o r e especially as it may t h r o w s o m e light on analogous facts, which are s u p p o s e d to have been observed in the interior of Africa. T h e existence o f a c o m m u n i c a t i o n o f the O r i n o c o with t h e A m a z o n by the Rio N e g r o , and a bifurcation o f the C a q u e t a , was believed by Sanson, and rejected by Father Fritz and b y B l a e u w : it was marked in t h e first m a p s o f D e l ' I s l e , b u t abandoned by that celebrated g e o g r a p h e r towards the end o f bis days. T h o s e w h o had mistaken the m o d e o f this c o m munication hastened to deny the c o m m u n i c a t i o n itself. It is in fact well worthy o f remark that, at the time when t h e * Of nine hundred and fifty toises each, or two hundred and fifty nautical leagues.


426

GEOGRAPHICAL

ERRORS.

P o r t u g u e s e w e n t u p m o s t frequently b y the A m a z o n , the R i o N e g r o , and the Cassiquiare, and when Father G u m i l l a ' s letters were carried ( b y the natural interbranching o f t h e rivers) from the l o w e r O r i n o c o t o G r a n d Para, that very missionary made every effort t o spread the o p i n i o n t h r o u g h E u r o p e that the basins o f the O r i n o c o a n d the A m a z o n are perfectly separate. H e asserts that, having several times g o n e up the former o f these rivers as far as tho R a n d a l o f Tabaje, situate in the latitude o f 1째 4', he n e v e r saw a river flow in o r o u t that could be taken for the R i o N e g r o . He adds further, that " a great Cordillera, which stretches from east t o west, prevents the m i n g l i n g o f the waters, and renders all discussion on the supposed c o m m u n i c a t i o n o f the t w o rivers useless." T h e errors o f f a t h e r G u m i l l a arose from his firm persuasion that he had reached the parallel o f 1째 4' o n the O r i n o c o . H e was i n error b y m o r e than 5 ' 10' o f l a t i t u d e ; for I found, by observation, at the mission of Atures, thirteen leagues south o f the rapids o f Tabaje, the latitude to be 5째 37' 34". G u m i l l a having g o n e b u t little above the confluence o f the M e t a , it is n o t surprising that he had no knowledge o f the bifurcation o f the O r i n o c o , which is found b y the sinuosities o f the river t o be one hundred and t w e n t y leagues distant from the R a n d a l o f Tabaje. La C o n d a m i n e , during his memorable navigation o n the river Amazon in 1743, carefully collected a great number o f proofs of this c o m m u n i c a t i o n of the rivers, denied by the Spanish Jesuit. T h e m o s t decisive p r o o f t h e n appeared t o him to bo the unsuspected testimony of a Cauriacani Indian w o m a n with w h o m he had conversed, and w h o had c o m e in a boat from the banks o f the O r i n o c o (from the mission o f Pararuina) t o G r a n d Para. B e f o r e the return o f L a C o n damine to his own c o u n t r y , the voyage o f f a t h e r Manuel R o m a n , and the fortuitous m e e t i n g o f the missionaries o f the O r i n o c o and the A m a z o n , left no d o u b t o f this fact, the k n o w l e d g e o f which was first obtained by A c u n b a . T h e incursions undertaken from the middle o f the seventeenth century, to procure slaves, had gradually led the P o r t u g u e s e from the Rio N e g r o , by the Cassiquiare, t o t h e bed o f a great river, which they did not know to be the Upper Orinoco. A flying c a m p , c o m p o s e d o f the t r o o p o f


PORTUGUESE

SLAVE-TRADERS.

427

ransomers,* favoured this inhuman c o m m e r c e . A f t e r having e x c i t e d t h e natives t o make w a r , t h e y ransomed the p r i soners ; and, t o give an appearance o f equity t o t h e traffic, m o n k s a c c o m p a n i e d t h e t r o o p o f ransomers t o examine " whether those w h o sold t h e slaves h a d a right t o d o s o , b y having made them prisoners i n o p e n w a r . " F r o m t h e year 1737 these visits o f t h e P o r t u g u e s e t o t h e U p p e r O r i n o c o b e c a m e very frequent. T h e desire o f e x c h a n g i n g slaves ( p o i t o s ) for hatchets, fish-hooks, and glass trinkets, i n d u c e d the I n d i a n tribes t o make w a r u p o n o n e another. The G u i p u n a v e s , l e d o n b y their valiant a n d cruel c h i e f M a c a p u , descended from the banks o f the Inirida towards the c o n fluence o f t h e A t a b a p o and t h e O r i n o c o . " T h e y sold," says t h e missionary G i l i , " t h e slaves w h o m t h e y did n o t eat."t T h e Jesuits o f t h e L o w e r O r i n o c o b e c a m e u n e a s y at this state o f things, and the superior o f the Spanish missions, Father Roman, t h e intimate friend o f G u m i l l a , took t h e c o u r a g e o u s resolution o f crossing t h e G r e a t Cataracts, a n d visiting t h e G u i p u n a v e s , w i t h o u t b e i n g escorted b y Spanish soldiers. He left Carichana the 4 t h o f F e b r u a r y , 1 7 4 4 ; a n d having arrived at t h e confluence o f t h e Guaviare, the A t a b a p o , and the O r i n o c o , where the last m e n t i o n e d river suddenly c h a n g e s its previous course f r o m east t o west, t o a direction from south t o n o r t h , he saw from afar a canoe as large as his o w n , a n d filled with m e n i n European dresses. He caused a crucifix t o b e p l a c e d at t h e b o w o f his boat in sign o f p e a c e , a c c o r d i n g t o the c u s t o m o f the missionaries w h e n they navigate i n a c o u n t r y u n k n o w n t o t h e m . T h e whites, w h o w e r e P o r t u g u e s e slave-traders o f t h e Rio N e g r o , r e c o g n i z e d with marks o f j o y t h e habit of the order o f St. Ignatius. T h e y heard with astonishment that t h e river o n w h i c h this m e e t i n g t o o k place was t h e O r i n o c o ; and they b r o u g h t F a t h e r R o m a n b y t h e Cassiquiare to the Brazilian settlements o n t h e Rio N e g r o . T h e * Tropa de rescate ; from rescalar, to redeem. † " I Guipunavi avventizj abitatori dell' Alto Orinoco, recavan de' danni Incredibili alle vicine mansuete nazioni ; altre mangiondone, altre conducendone schiave ne' Portoghesi d o m i n j . " — " The Guipunaves, at their tirst arrival on the Upper Orinoco, inflicted incredible injuries on the other peaceable tribes who dwelt near them, devouring some, and selling others as slaves to the Portuguese." (Gili, tom. i, p. 31.)


428

BIFURCATION OF THE ORINOCO.

superior o f the Spanish missions was forced t o remain near the flying c a m p o f the t r o o p o f ransomers till t h e arrival o f t h e P o r t u g u e s e J e s u i t A v o g a d r i , w h o had g o n e u p o n b u s i ness t o G r a n d Para. F a t h e r M a n u e l K o m a n returned with his Salive Indians by the same way, that o f the Cassiquiare and the U p p e r O r i n o c o , to Pararuma,* a little to the north o f Carichana, after an absence o f seven m o n t h s . H e was the first white man who w e n t from the Rio N e g r o , c o n s e quently from the basin o f the A m a z o n , without passing his boats over any portage, to the basin o f the Lower Orinoco. T h e tidings o f this extraordinary passage spread w i t h such rapidity that La C o n d a m i n e was able t o a n n o u n c e it † at a public; sitting o f the A c a d e m y , seven m o n t h s after the return o f Father Koman t o Pararuma. "The c o m m u n i c a t i o n between the O r i n o c o and the A m a z o n , " said he, " r e c e n t l y averred, may pass so m u c h the m o r e for a discovery in g e o g r a p h y , as, although the j u n c t i o n o f these t w o rivers is marked o n t h e old maps ( a c c o r d i n g to t h e information given b y A c u n h a ) , it had been suppressed b y all the modern geographers in their new maps, as if in c o n c e r t . This is n o t the first time that what is positive fact has b e e n t h o u g h t fabulous, that the spirit o f criticism has b e e n pushed t o o far, and that this c o m m u n i c a t i o n has b e e n treated as chimerical b y those w h o o u g h t t o have b e e n better informed." Since the v o y a g e o f Father Roman in 1 7 7 1 , n o p e r s o n in Spanish G u i a n a , o r o n the coasts o f d i m a n a and Caracas, has admitted a d o u b t o f the existence o f the Cassiquiare and the bifurcation o f t h e * On the 15th of October, 1774. La Condamine quitted the town of Grand Para December the 29th, 1713 ; it follows, from a comparison of the dates, that the Indian woman of Pararuma, carried off by the Portuguese, and to whom the French traveller had spoken, had not come with Father Human, as was erroneously affirmed. The appearance of this woman on the banks of the Amazon is interesting with respect to the researches lately made on the mixture of races and languages : it proves the enormous distances through which the individuals of one tribe are compelled to carry on intercourse with those of another. † The intelligence was communicated to him by Father John Ferreyro, rector of the college of Jesuits at Para. (Voy. à l'Amazone, p. 120. Mem. de l'Acad. 1745. p. 450. Caulin, p. 79.) See also, in the work of Gili, the fifth chapter of the first book, published in 1780, with the title: " Della scoperta delle communicazione dell' Orinoco col Maragnone."


JUNCTION WITH THE RIO NEGRO.

429

O r i n o c o . F a t h e r G u m i l l a himself, w h o m B o u g u e r m e t at Carthagena, confessed that he had b e e n d e c e i v e d ; and h e read t o Father Gili, a short time before his death, a s u p p l e ment t o his history o f the O r i n o c o , i n t e n d e d for a n e w edition, in which he recounts pleasantly the manner in which he had b e e n u n d e c e i v e d . T h e expedition o f t h e boundaries, u n d e r Iturriaga and Solano, c o m p l e t e d in detail the k n o w l e d g e o f the g e o g r a p h y o f the Upper O r i n o c o , and the intertwinings o f this river with the Rio Negro. Solano established himself in 1756 at the c o n fluence o f the A t a b a p o ; and from that t i m e t h e Spanish and Portuguese commissioners often passed in their c a n o e s , b y the Cassiquiare, from t h e L o w e r O r i n o c o t o t h e Rio Negro, t o visit each other at their head-quarters o f C a b r u t a * and Mariva, Since t h e y e a r 1 7 6 7 , t w o o r three c a n o e s c o m e annually from the fort o f San Carlos, b y the bifurcation o f the O r i n o c o t o A n g o s t u r a , t o fetch salt and t h e pay o f the t r o o p s . T h e s e passages, from one basin o f a river t o another, b y the natural canal o f t h e Cassiquiarc, excite no more attention in the colonists at present than the arrival o f boats that d e s c e n d the L o i r e b y the canal o f Orleans, awakens on the banks o f the Seine. A l t h o u g h , since the journey o f Father R o m a n , in 1 7 4 1 , precise notions have been acquired in the Spanish p o s s e s i o n s in America, b o t h o f the direction o f the U p p e r O r i n o c o from east t o west, a n d o f t h e m a n n e r o f its c o m m u n i c a t i o n with the Rio N e g r o , this k n o w l e d g e did n o t reach E u r o p e till a m u c h later p e r i o d . I n 1 7 5 0 , L a C o n d a m i n e a n d D ' A n v i l l e † were still o f o p i n i o n that t h e O r i n o c o was a * General Iturriaga, confined by illness, first at Muitaco, or Real Corona, and afterward at Cubruta, received a visit in 1760 from the Portuguese colonel Don Gabriel de Souza y Figueira, who came from Grand I'ara, having made a voyage of nearly nine hundred leagues in his boat. The Swedish botanist, Loefling, who was chosen to accompany the expedition of the boundaries at the expense of the Spanish government, greatly multiplied in his ardent imagination the branchings of the great rivers of South America, that he appeared well persuaded of being able to navigate, by the Rio Negro and the Amazon, to the Rio de la Plata. (Iter, p. 131.) † See the classical memoir of this great geographer in the Journal deg Savans, March 1750, p. 184. " One fact," says D'Anville, "which canDot be considered as equivocal, after the proofs with which we have been


430

CIVILIZATION PROMOTED BY RIVERS.

branch o f the Caqueta c o m i n g from the south-east, and that t h e Rio N e g r o issued immediately from it. I t was only in the second edition o f his South America, that D ' A n v i l l e (witho u t r e n o u n c i n g that i n t e r c o m m u n i c a t i o n o f the Caqueta, b y means o f the Iniricha ( i n i r i d a ) , with the O r i n o c o and the Rio N e g r o ) describes the O r i n o c o as taking its rise at t h e east, near the sources of the Rio Branco, ami marks the Rio Cassiquiare as bearing the waters o f the U p p e r O r i n o c o t o the Rio N e g r o . I t is p r o b a b l e that this indefatigable and learned writer had obtained information on the manner o f t h e bifurcation from his frequent c o m m u n i c a t i o n s with the missionaries,* w h o were then the only geographers o f t h e m o s t inland parts o f the c o n t i n e n t s . H a d the nations o f the l o w e r r e g i o n o f equinoctial A m e r i c a participated in t h e civilization spread over the c o l d and alpine r e g i o n , that i m m e n s e M e s o p o t a m i a b e t w e e n t h e O r i n o c o and the A m a z o n would have favoured the d e v e l o p m e n t o f their industry, animated their c o m m e r c e , and a c c e lerated the progress o f social order. W e see everywhere in t h e old w o r l d the influence o f locality o n the dawning civilization o f nations. T h e island o f M e r o e b e t w e e n t h e A s t a b o r a s and the N i l e , the P u n j a b o f the Indus, the D o u a b o f the G a n g e s , and the M e s o p o t a m i a o f the Euphrates, furnish examples that are justly celebrated in the annals o f the human race. P u t the feeble tribes that w a n d e r in the savannahs and the woods o f eastern America, have profited little b y the advantages o f their soil, and the interbranchings o f their rivers. T h e distant incursions o f the Caribs, w h o w e n t up the O r i n o c o , t h e Cassiquiare, and the recently furnished, is the communication of the Rio Negro with the Orinoco; but we must not hesitate to admit, that we are not yet sufficiently informed of the manner in which this communication takes place." I was surprised to see in a very rare map, which I found at Rome (Provincia Quitensis Soc. Jesu in America, auctore Carolo Brentano et Nicolao de la Torre; RomĂŚ, 1745), that seven years after the discovery of Father Roman, the Jesuits of Quito were ignorant of the existence of the Cassiquiare. The Rio Negro is figured in this map as a branch of the Orinoco. * According to the Annals of Berredo, it. would appear, that as early as the year 1739, the military incursions from the Rio Negro to the Cassiquiare had confirmed the Portuguese Jesuits in the opinion that there was a communication between the Amazon and the Orinoco. Southey's Brazil, vol. i, p. 058.


FUTURE ADVANTAGES TO COMMERCE.

431

Rio N e g r o , t o carry off slaves and exercise pillage, c o m pelled s o m e r u d e tribes t o r o u s e themselves from t h e i r i n d o l e n c e , and form associations for their c o m m o n d e f e n c e ; the little g o o d , h o w e v e r , w h i c h these wars with the Caribs ( t h e B e d o u i n s o f t h e rivers o f G u i a n a ) p r o d u c e d , was b u t slight c o m p e n s a t i o n for the evils that followed i n their train, b y r e n d e r i n g t h e tribes m o r e f e r o c i o u s , a n d diminishing their p o p u l a t i o n . We c a n n o t d o u b t , that t h e physical aspect of G r e e c e , intersected b y small chains o f m o u n t a i n s , and mediterranean gulfs, c o n t r i b u t e d , at t h e dawn o f civilization, t o the intellectual d e v e l o p m e n t o f t h e Greeks. B u t the operation o f this influence o f climate, a n d o f the configuration o f t h e soil, is felt in all i t s force o n l y a m o n g a race o f m e n w h o , e n d o w e d w i t h a h a p p y organization o f the m e n t a l faculties, are susceptible o f exterior impulse. I n s t u d y i n g t h e h i s t o r y o f o u r species, w e see, a t certain distances, these foci o f ancient civilization dispersed over the g l o b e like l u m i n o u s p o i n t s ; and w e are struck b y the inequality o f i m p r o v e m e n t in nations inhabiting analogous climates, and w h o s e native soil appears equally favoured b y the m o s t p r e c i o u s gifts o f nature. Since m y departure f r o m t h e banks o f the O r i n o c o and the A m a z o n , a n e w era has u n f o l d e d itself in the social state o f the nations o f the W e s t . T h e fury o f civil disscusions has b e e n s u c c e e d e d b y t h e blessings' o f p e a c e , and a freer d e v e l o p m e n t o f the arts o f industry. T h e bifurcations of the O r i n o c o , the isthmus o f T u a m i n i , so easy t o b e made passable by an artificial canal, will ere long fix the attention of commercial E u r o p e . T h e Cassiquiare, as broad as t h e R h i n o , and the course o f which is o n e hundred and e i g h t y miles in length, will n o l o n g e r form uselessly a navigable canal between two basins o f rivers which have a surface of o n e hundred and ninety thousand square leagues. T h e grain of. N e w G r e n a d a will be carried t o the banks o f the B i o N e g r o ' boats will d e s c e n d from t h e sources o f the N a p o and t h e U c u y a b e , from the A n d e s o f Q u i t o and o f U p p e r P e r u , t o the m o u t h s o f the O r i n o c o , a distance which equals that from T i m b u c t o o t o Marseilles. A country nine o r t e n times larger than Spain, and enriched with the m o s t varied p r o d u c t i o n s , is navigable in every direction by the m e d i u m of the natural canal o f the Cassiquiare, and the bifurcation


432

THE UPPER ORINOCO.

o f the rivers. This p h e n o m e n o n , which will o n e day b e so i m p o r t a n t for the political c o n n e c t i o n s o f nations, u n q u e s tionably deserves t o b e carefully examined.

CHAPTER

XXIV.

The Upper Orinoco, from Esmeralda to the confluence of the Guaviare.— Second passage across the Cataracts of Atures and Maypures. — The Lower Orinoco, between the mouth of the Rio Apure, and Angostura the capital of Spanish Guiana. OPPOSITE to the point where the O r i n o c o forms its bifurcation, t h e granitic g r o u p o f Duida rises in an amphitheatre o n the right b a n k o f the river. T h i s m o u n t a i n , which the missionaries call a v o l c a n o , is nearly eight thousand feet high. It is perpendicular on the south and west, and has an aspect of solemn grandeur. Its summit is bare and s t o n y , b u t , wherever its less steep declivities are c o v e r e d with mould vast forests appear suspended on its flanks. At the foot o f Duida is the mission o f Esmeralda, a little hamlet with eighty inhabitants, surrounded b y a lovely plain, intersected by rills o f black but limpid water. This plain is adorned with clumps o f the mauritia palm, the sagotree o f A m e r i c a . N e a r e r t h e m o u n t a i n , t h e distance o f which from the cross o f the mission I f o u n d t o b e seven thousand three hundred toises, the marshy plain changes to a savannah, and spends itself along the lower region o f the Cordillera. L a r g e pine-apples arc there found o f a delicious flavour; that species o f bromelia always g r o w s solitary a m o n g the gramina, like our Colchicum autumnale, while t h e B. karatas, anot her species o f the same g e n u s , is a social plant, like o u r whortleberries and heaths. T h e pine-apples o f Esmeralda are cultivated throughout Guiana. T h e r e are certain spots in America, as in Europe, where different fruits attain their highest perfection. T h e sapota-plum ( a c h r a ) should be eaten at the Island o f Margareta o r at C u m a n a : the chirimoya (very different from the custardapple and sweet-sup of the West India Islands) at L o x a in P e r u ; the grenadilla, or parcha, at C a r a c a s ; and the p i n e apple at Esmeralda, o r in the island o f C u b a . T h e p i n c -


WILD

PINE-APPLES.

433

apple forms the o r n a m e n t o f the fields near the H a v a n n a h , where it is planted in parallel r o w s ; on the sides o f t h e D u i d a it embellishes the t u r f o f the savannahs, lifting its y e l l o w fruit, c r o w n e d with a tuft o f silvery leaves, above the setaria, the paspalum, and a few cyperaceĂŚ. This plant, which t h e I n d i a n s o f the O r i n o c o call ana-curua, has been propagated since the sixteenth century in the interior o f China,* and some English travellers found it recently, t o g e ther with other plants indubitably A m e r i c a n (maize, cassava, t o b a c c o , and p i m e n t o ) , o n the banks o f the R i v e r C o n g o , in Africa. T h e r e is n o missionary at E s m e r a l d a ; the m o n k appointed t o celebrate mass in that hamlet is settled at Santa Barbara, more than fifty leagues d i s t a n t ; and he visits this spot b u t five o r six times in a year. W e w e r e cordially received b y an old officer, w h o t o o k us for Catalonian shopkeepers, and w h o supposed that trade had led t o the missions. O n seeing packages o f paper intended for d r y i n g our plants, he smiled at our simple ignorance. " Y o u c o m e , " said he, " to a c o u n t r y where this kind o f merchandise has n o sale ; w e write little here; and the dried leaves o f maize, the platano (plantaint r e e ) , and the vijaho ( h e l i c o n i a ) , serve u s , like paper in E u rope, t o wrap up needles, fish-hooks, and other little articles o f which w e are c a r e f u l . " T h i s old officer united in his person the civil and ecclesiastical authority. H e taught the children, I will n o t say the Catechism, b u t the R o s a r y ; he rang the bells t o amuse h i m s e l f ; and impelled b y ardent zeal for the service o f the church, he sometimes used his chorister's wand in a manner n o t very agreeable t o the natives. N o t w i t h s t a n d i n g t h e small e x t e n t o f t h e mission, three Indian languages are s p o k e n at E s m e r a l d a ; the I d a p i manare, the Catarapenno, and the Maquiritan. T h e last o f these prevails on the Upper O r i n o c o , from the confluence o f * N o doubt remains of the American origin of the Bromelia ananas. See Cayley's Life of Raleigh, vol. i, p. 61. Gili, vol. i, p . 2 1 0 , 3 3 6 . Robert Brown, Geogr. Observ. on the Plants of the River C o n g o , 1818,

p. 50.

† The Arivirianos o f the banks of the Ventuari speak a dialect of the language of the Maquiritares. The latter live, jointly with a tribe of the M a c o s , in the savannahs that are by the Padamo. They are so numerous, that they have even given their name to this tributary stream of the Orinoco. VOL.

II.

2 f


434

ESMERALDA.

the V e n t u a r i as far as that o f the P a d a m o ; the Caribbee prevails on the L o w e r O r i n o c o ; the O t t o m a c , near t h e confluence o f the A p u r e , at the G r e a t Cataracts ; and the Maravitan, o n the banks o f the R i o N e g r o . T h e s e are the live o r six languages m o s t generally s p o k e n . W e were surprised t o find at Esmeralda many z a m b o s , mulattos, and c o p p e r - c o l o u r e d p e o p l e , w h o called themselves Spaniards (Espaùoles) and who fancy they are white, because they are n o t so red as the Indians. T h e s e people live in the m o s t absolute misery ; t h e y have for the m o s t part been sent hither in banishment (desterrados). Solano, in his haste to found colonies in the interior o f the c o u n t r y , in order to guard its entrance against the Portuguese, assembled in the Llanos, and as far as the island o f Margareta, vagabonds and malefactors, w h o m justice had vainly pursued, and made them g o u p the O r i n o c o to j o i n the unhappy Indians w h o had b e e n carried off from the w o o d s . A mineralogies! error gave celebrity to Esmeralda. T h e granites o f D u i d a and Maraguaca contain in o p e n veins fine rock-crystals, some o f them o f great transparency, others coloured b y chlorite o r blended with actonite ; these were mistaken for diamonds and emeralds. So near the sources o f the O r i n o c o w e heard o f nothing in these mountains b u t the p r o x i m i t y o f E l Dorado, the lake Parima, and the ruins o f the great city o f M a n o a . A man, still known in the country for his credulity and his love o f exaggeration, D o n A p o l l i n a r i o D i e z de la Fuente, assumed the p o m p o u s title o f capitan poblador, and cabo militar (military c o m m a n d e r ) o f the fort o f Cassiquiare. This fort consisted o f a few-trunks o f trees, j o i n e d t o g e t h e r by planks ; and to c o m plete the deception, a demand was made at Madrid for the privileges o f a villa for the mission o f Esmeralda, which b u t a hamlet with twelve o r fifteen huts. A c o l o n y c o m p o s e d o f elements altogether heterogeneous perished by degrees. T h e vagabonds of t h e L l a n o s had as little taste for labour as t h e natives, w h o w e r e c o m p e l l e d t o live " within the sound o f the b e l l . " T h e former f o u n d a m o t i v e in their pride t o justify their indolence. I n the missions, every mulatto w h o is n o t decidedly b l a c k as an A f r i c a n , o r c o p p e r - c o l o u r e d as an I n d i a n , calls himself a S p a n i a r d ; ho b e l o n g s to tho gente de razon, — the race e n d u e d with reason ; and that reason (sometimes, it must b e admitted, arrogant and indolent)


ORIGIN

OF THE

435

COLONY.

persuaded the whites, and those w h o fancy they are so, that t o till the g r o u n d is a task fit o n l y for slaves (poitos) and the native n e o p h y t e s . T h e c o l o n y o f Esmeralda had been f o u n d e d o n the principles o f that o f A u s t r a l i a ; b u t it was far from b e i n g g o v e r n e d with the same w i s d o m . T h e A m e rican colonists, being separated from their native soil, n o t b y seas, b u t b y forests and savannahs, d i s p e r s e d ; some taking the road northward, towards the Caura and the Carony ; others p r o c e e d i n g southward t o the P o r t u g u e s e possessions. T h u s the celebrity o f this villa, a n d o f the emerald-mines o f D u i d a , vanished in a few y e a r s ; and E s m e ralda, o n a c c o u n t o f the immense n u m b e r o f insects that o b scure the air at all seasons o f the year, was regarded b y the m o n k s as a place o f banishment. T h e superior o f the missions, when he w o u l d make the lay-brothers mindful o f their d u t y , threatens sometimes t o send them t o E s m e r a l d a ; " t h a t i s , " say the m o n k s , " t o b e c o n d e m n e d t o t h e m o s quitos ; t o b e devoured b y those b u z z i n g flies (zancudos grit o n e s ) , which G o d appears t o have created for the t o r m e n t and chastisement of m a n . " * T h e s e strange punishments have n o t always been confined t o the lay-brothers. There happened in 1788 o n e o f those monastic revolutions, o f which it is difficult to form a c o n c e p t i o n in E u r o p e , according t o the ideas that prevail o f the peaceful state o f the Christian settlements in the N e w W o r l d . F o r a l o n g period the Franciscan m o n k s settled in G u i a n a had b e e n desirous o f forming a. separate republic, and rendering themselves i n d e p e n d e n t o f the college o f Piritu at N u e v a Barcelona. Disc o n t e n t e d with the election o f F r a y G u t i e r e z de A g u i l e r a , chosen b y a general chapter, and confirmed b y the king in the important office o f president o f the missions, five o r six m o n k s o f the U p p e r O r i n o c o , the Cassiquiare, and the B i o N e g r o , assembled t o g e t h e r at San F e r n a n d o de A t a b a p o ; chose hastily a n e w superior from their own b o d y ; and caused the old o n e , w h o , unfortunately for himself, had c o m e t o visit those parts, t o b e arrested. They p u t him in irons, threw him into a boat, and c o n d u c t e d him t o Esmeralda, as * " Estos mosquitos que llaman zancudos gritones los parece cria la naturaleza para castigo y tormento de los h o m b r e s . " — " Those mosquitos which are called buzzing zancudos, Nature seems to have created for the especial punishment and torture of man." (Fray Pedro Simón.)

2 F 2


436

A MONKISH REVOLUTION.

t o a place o f proscription. This great distance o f t h e coast from the scene o f this revolution led the m o n k s to h o p e that their crime would remain long unknown b e y o n d the G r e a t Cataracts. T h e y wished t o gain t i m e t o intrigue, t o negotiate, to frame acts of accusation, and e m p l o y the little artifices b y which, in every c o u n t r y , the invalidity o f a first election may b e proved. Fray G u t i e r e z de A g u i l e r a languished in his prison at Esmeralda, and fell dangerously ill from the double influence o f the excessive heat, and the continual irritation o f the mosquitos. Happily for the fallen power the m o n k s did not remain united. A missionary of the Cassiquiare conceived serious alarms respecting the issue o f this affair ; he dreaded b e i n g sent a prisoner to Cadiz, or, as they say in the colonies, having his name on the list ( b a x o partido de registro). Fear overcame his resolution, and he suddenly disappeared. Indians were p l a c e d o n the watch at the mouth o f the A t a b a p o , at t h e G r e a t Cataracts, and wherever the fugitive was likely to pass on his way to the L o w e r O r i n o c o . Notwithstanding these precautions, he arrived at A n g o s t u r a , and then reached the college of the missions of Piritu ; d e n o u n c e d his c o l l e a g u e s : and was appointed, in r e c o m p e n s e o f this information, to arrest those with whom he had c o n spired against the president o f the missions.* A t Esmeralda, where the political events that have agitated E u r o p e for thirty years past have not yet been heard of, lively interest, is still felt in an event which is called " t h e sedition o f the m o n k s , " (el alboroto de los friales.) In this c o u n t r y , as in the East, n o c o n c e p t i o n is formed o f any other revolutions than those that are made by rulers t h e m s e l v e s ; and we have just seen that the effects arc not very alarming. If the villa, o f Esmeralda, with a population o f twelve o r fifteen families, be at present considered as a frightful place o f abode, this must be at attributed to the want o f cultivation, the distance from every other inhabited c o u n t r y , and the e x c e s * Two of the missionaries, considered as the leaders of the insurrection, were embarked at Angostura, in order to he tried in Spain. The vessel in which they were conveyed became leaky, and put into Spanish Harbour in the island of Trinidad. The governor Chacon intereated himself in the fate of the monks ; they went pardoned a violent proceeding somewhat inconsistent with monastic discipline, and were again employed in the mistions. I was acquainted with them both during my abode in South America,


SITUATION OF

ESMERALDA.

437

sive quantity o f mosquitos. T h e site o f the mission is highly picturesque ; the surrounding c o u n t r y is lovely, and o f great fertility. I never saw plantains o f so large a size as these ; and indigo, sugar, and cacao might b e p r o d u c e d in a b u n dance, i f any trouble were taken for their cultivation. The Cerro D u i d a is surrounded with fine pasturage ; and if the Observantins o f the college o f Piritu partook a little o f the industry o f the Catalonian Capuchins settled on the banks o f the C a r o n y , n u m e r o u s herds would b e seen wandering b e t w e e n the C u n u c u n u m o and the P a d a m o . A t present, n o t a c o w o r a horse is to b e found ; and the inhabitants, victims o f their own indolence, are often reduced t o eat the flesh o f alouate m o n k e y s , and flour made from the b o n e s o f fish, o f which I shall have occasion to speak hereafter. A little cassava and a few plantains only are cultivated ; and w h e n the fishery is n o t abundant, the natives o f a c o u n t r y so favoured by nature are e x p o s e d to the m o s t cruel privations. T h e pilots o f the small n u m b e r o f boats that g o from the R i o N e g r o to A n g o s t u r a b y the Cassiquiare are afraid t o ascend as far as Esmerahla, and therefore that mission would have been much better placed at the p o i n t o f the bifurcation of the O r i n o c o . I t is probable that this vast c o u n t r y will n o t always b e d o o m e d t o the desertion in which it has hitherto been left, o w i n g t o the errors o f monkish administration and the spirit o f m o n o p o l y that characterises c o r porations. "We may even predict on what points o f the O r i n o c o industry and c o m m e r c e will b e c o m e m o s t active. I n every zone, population is concentred at the m o u t h o f tributary streams. T h e Rio A p u r e , b y which the p r o ductions o f the provinces o f Varinas and M e r i d a are e x ported, will give great importance to the little town o f Cabruta, which will then be in rivalship with San F e r n a n d o de A p u r e , where all c o m m e r c e has hitherto centred. H i g h e r up, a n e w settlement will be formed at the confluence of the M e t a , which communicates with N e w Grenada b y t h e Llanos o f Casanare. T h e t w o missions o f the Cataracts will increase, from tho activity to which the transport o f boats at those p o i n t s will give r i s e ; for an unhealthy and damp climate, a n d the swarming o f mosquitos, will as little impede the progress o f cultivation at the O r i n o c o as at the B i o Magdalena, whenever a powerful mercantile


438

THE CURARE POISON.

interest shall call n e w settlers thither. H a b i t u a l evils are those w h i c h are least f e l t ; and m e n b o r n in A m e r i c a d o n o t suffer the same intensity o f pain as, E u r o p e a n s recently arrived. Perhaps, also, the destruction o f forests r o u n d t h e inhabited places, although slow, will somewhat tend t o diminish the t o r m e n t o f the tipulary insects. San F e r n a n d o do A t a b a p o , Javita, San Carlos, and Esmeralda, appear (from their situation at the m o u t h o f the Guaviare, the portage between Tuamini and the; Rio N e g r o , the c o n fluence o f the Cassiquiare, and the p o i n t o f bifurcation o f t h e U p p e r O r i n o c o ) t o promise a considerable increase o f p o p u l a t i o n and prosperity. The same i m p r o v e m e n t will take place i n t h e fertile b u t uncultivated countries t h r o u g h which flow the Guallaga, the A m a z o n , and the O r i n o c o ; as well as at the isthmus o f Panama, the lake o f N i c a r a g u a , and the Rio Huasacualco, which furnish a c o m m u n i c a t i o n b e t w e e n the t w o oceans. The imperfection o f political institutions may for ages have converted into deserts places where the c o m m e r c e o f the world should be found c o n c e n t r e d ; b u t the time approaches w h e n these obstacles will exist n o l o n g e r . A vicious administration c a n n o t always struggle against the united interest o f men ; and civilization will be carried insensibly into those countries, the great destinies o f which nature itself proclaims, b y the physical configuration of the soil, the immense windings o f the rivers, and the p r o x i m i t y o f t w o seas, that bathe the shores o f E u r o p e and o f India. Esmeralda is t h e m o s t celebrated spot on tho O r i n o c o for the preparation o f that active p o i s o n , which is e m p l o y e d in war, in the chase, and, singularly e n o u g h , as a remedy for gastric d e r a n g e m e n t s . The p o i s o n o f the ticunas of the A m a z o n , the u p a s - t i e u t e o f Java, and the curare o f G u i a n a , are the m o s t deleterious substances that are k n o w n . Raleigh, about the end o f the sixteenth c e n t u r y , had beard o f urari* as b e i n g a vegetable substance with which arrows were e n v e n o m e d ; y e t n o fixed n o t i o n s of this poison had reached Europe. T h e missionaries G u m i l l a and Gili had n o t been able t o penetrate into the c o u n t r y where the curare is manufactured. G u m i l l a asserts that " t h i s p r e * In Tamanac marana ; in Maypure, macuri.


THE POISON-MASTER.

439

paration was enveloped in great m y s t e r y ; that its principal ingredient was furnished b y a subterranean plant with a t u b e r o u s root, which never p u t s forth leaves, and which is called specially ' t h e r o o t ' (raiz de si m i s m a ) ; that the v e n o m o u s exhalations which arise from the manufacture are fatal to the lives o f the old w o m e n w h o ( b e i n g otherwise u s e less) are c h o s e n t o w a t c h over this operation ; finally, that these v e g e t a b l e juices are never t h o u g h t to bo sufficiently concentrated till a few drops produce at a distance a repulsive action o n the b l o o d . A n I n d i a n w o u n d s himself s l i g h t l y ; and a dart d i p p e d in the liquid curare is held near t h e wound. I f it make the b l o o d return t o the vessels w i t h o u t having b e e n b r o u g h t into c o n t a c t with t h e m , the p o i s o n is j u d g e d to be sufficiently c o n c e n t r a t e d . " W h e n w e arrived at Esmeralda, the greater part o f the Indians were r e t u r n i n g from an excursion which they had made t o the east, b e y o n d the R i o P a d a m o , t o gather juvias, o r tho fruit o f t h e bertholletia, and the liana which yields the curare. T h e i r return was celebrated b y a festival, which is called in the mission la fiesta de las juvias, and which resembles o u r harvest-homes and vintage-feasts. T h e w o m e n had prepared a quantity o f f e r m e n t e d l i q u o r ; and during t w o days the Indians were in a state o f intoxication. A m o n g nations w h o attach great importance to the fruit o f the palm, and o f some other trees useful for the nourishm e n t o f man, the p e r i o d w h e n these fruits are gathered is marked b y public rejoicings, and t i m e is divided a c c o r d i n g t o these festivals, which succeed o n e another in a course invariably regular. W e w e r e fortunate e n o u g h t o find an old I n d i a n m o r e temperate than t h e rest, w h o was e m p l o y e d in preparing the curare p o i s o n from freshlygathered plants. He was the chemist o f the place. We f o u n d at his dwelling largo earthen p o t s for boiling t h e vegetable juice, shallower vessels to favour the evaporation b y a larger surface, and leaves o f the plantain-tree rolled u p in the shape o f our filters, and used to filtrate the liquids, m o r e o r less loaded with fibrous matter. T h e greatest order and neatness prevailed in this h u t , which was transformed into a chemical laboratory. The old I n d i a n was k n o w n t h r o u g h o u t the mission b y the n a m e o f the p o i s o n master ( a m o del c u r a r e ) . H e had that self-sufficient air


440

PREPARATION OF THE CURARE.

and tone o f pedantry o f which t h e pharmacopolists o f Europe were formerly accused. " I k n o w , " said he, " t h a t the whiles have the secret o f making soap, and m a n u f a c turing that black powder which has the detect o f making a noise when used in killing animals. T h e curare, which w o prepare from lather to son, is superior to anything y o u c a n make down yonder ( b e y o n d s e a ) . It is the j u i c e o f an herb which kills silently, w i t h o u t any o n e k n o w i n g w h e n c e the stroke c o m e s . " This chemical operation, to which the old man attached so much importance, appeared to us extremely simple. The liana ( b e j u c o ) used at Esmeralda for the preparation o f the poison, bears the same name as in the forests o f Javita. It is the bejuco de Manicure, which is gathered in a b u n d a n c e east o f the mission, on the left bank of the O r i n o c o , b e y o n d t h e Rio A m a g u a c a , in t h e m o u n t a i n o u s and rocky tracts o f Guanaya and Yumariquin. A l t h o u g h the bundles o f bejuco which we found in the hut o f the Indian w e r e entirely bare o f leaves, we had no d o u b t o f their b e i n g p r o d u c e d b y the same plant o f the strychnos family (nearly allied to the rouhamon o f A u b l e t ) which we had examined in the forest of Pimichin.* The mavacure is employed fresh or dried indifferently during several weeks. T h e j u i c e o f the liana, w h e n it has b e e n recently gathered, is n o t regarded as p o i s o n o u s ; possibly it is so only when strongly c o n c e n trated. It is the bark and a part o f the alburnum which contain this terrible p o i s o n . Branches o f the mavacure four or five lines in diameter are scraped with a knife, and the bark that c o m e s off is bruised, and reduced into very thin filaments on the stone e m p l o y e d for grinding cassava. T h e venomous j u i c e b e i n g y e l l o w , the whole fibrous mass lakes that c o l o u r . It is thrown into a funnel nine inches * I MAY here insert the description of the curare or bejuco de Mavacure, taken from a manuscript, yet unpublished, of my learned fellow-labourer M. Kunth,. corresponding member of the Institute. "Hamuli lignosi, oppositi, ramulo altero abortivo, teretiusculi, fuscescenti-tomentosi, inter petiolos lincola pilosa notati, gemmula aut processu filiformi (pedunculo?) tcrminati. Folio opposita, bereviter petiolata, ovato-oblonga, acuminata, intergerima, reticulato-triplinervia, nervo medio subtus prominente, membranacea, cibata, utrinque glabra, nervo medio fuscescente-tomentoso, lacte viridia, subtus pallidiora, 11/2-21/2polliceslonga, 8-9 lineas lata. Petioli lineam longi, tomentosi, inarticulati."


ITS COMPONENT

HERBS.

441

high, with an o p e n i n g four inches w i d e . This funnel was o f all the instruments o f t h e Indian laboratory that o f which the p o i s o n - m a s t e r seemed t o b e m o s t p r o u d . He asked u s repeatedly if, por alla (out yonder, meaning in E u r o p e ) , w e had ever seen a n y t h i n g t o b e c o m p a r e d t o this funnel ( e m b u d o ) . I t was a leaf o f the plantain-tree rolled u p in the form o f a c o n e , and placed within another s t r o n g e r c o n e m a d e o f the leaves o f the palm-tree. T h e w h o l e o f this apparatus was supported by slight frame-work made o f the petioles and ribs o f palm-leaves. A c o l d infusion is first prepared by pouring water on the fibrous matter which i s the g r o u n d bark o f the mavacure. A yellowish water filters during several hours, drop b y d r o p , t h r o u g h the leafy funnel. This filtered water is the p o i s o n o u s liquor, b u t it acquires strength o n l y w h e n c o n c e n t r a t e d b y evaporation, like molasses, in a large earthen p o t . T h e I n d i a n from time to time invited us t o taste the l i q u i d ; its taste, m o r e or less bitter, decides w h e n the c o n c e n t r a t i o n b y fire has been carried sufficiently far. T h e r e is n o danger in tasting it, the curare being deleterious only w h e n it c o m e s i n t o immediate c o n t a c t with the blood. T h e vapours, therefore, Which are disengaged from the pans are not hurtful, n o t w i t h standing all that has been asserted on this p o i n t b y the m i s sionaries o f the O r i n o c o . Fontana, in his e x p e r i m e n t s o n the p o i s o n o f t h e ticuna o f the A m a z o n , l o n g since p r o v e d that the vapours arising from this p o i s o n , w h e n t h r o w n On b u r n i n g charcoal, m a y b e inhaled w i t h o u t d a n g e r ; and that the statement o f L a C o n d a m i n e , that I n d i a n Women, w h e n c o n d e m n e d t o death, have b e e n killed b y t h e vapours o f the p o i s o n o f the ticuna, is i n c o r r e c t . T h e m o s t concentrated juice o f the mavacure is not thick e n o u g h t o stick t o the d a r t s ; and therefore, to give a b o d y t o the p o i s o n , another vegetable j u i c e , extremely g l u t i n o u s , d r a w n from a tree with large leaves, called kiracaguero, is poured into the concentrated infusion. As this tree g r o w s a t a great distance from Esmeralda, and was at that period a s destitute o f flowers and fruits as the b e j u c o de mavacure, we could not determine it botanically. I have several t i m e s mentioned that kind o f fatality which withholds the m o s t interesting plants from the examination o f travellers, while thousands of others, o f the chemical properties o f which we


412

PREPARATION

OP

ТHЕ

POISON.

arc ignorant, are found loaded with flowers and fruits. In travelling rapidly, even within the tropics, where the floweri n g o f the ligneous plants is o f such l o n g duration, scarcely one-eighth o f the trees can be seen furnishing the essential parts o f fructification. T h e chances o f b e i n g able t o deter­ m i n e , I do n o t say the family, b u t the genus and species, is c o n s e q u e n t l y as one t o e i g h t ; and it may b e c o n c e i v e d that this unfavourable chance is felt m o s t powerfully w h e n it deprives us o f the intimate k n o w l e d g e o f o b j e c t s which afford a higher interest than that o f descriptive b o t a n y . A t the instant w h e n the g l u t i n o u s j u i c e o f the kiracaguero-tree is poured into the v e n o m o u s liquor well c o n c e n tarted, and k e p t in a state o f ebullition, it blackens, and coagulates into a mass o f t h e consistence o f tar, o r o f a thick syrup. This mass is the curare o f c o m m e r c e . When w e hear the Indians say that the kiracaguero is as necessary as the bejuco de mavacure in the manufacture o f the p o i s o n , w e may be led into error b y the supposition that the former also contains some deleterious principle, while it only serves (as the algarrobo, or any other g u m m y substance would d o ) to give more body to the concentrated j u i c e o f the curare. T h e change o f colour which the mixture undergoes is o w i n g t o the d e c o m p o s i t i o n o f a hydruret o f carbon ; the h y d r o g e n is b u r n e d , and the c a r b o n is set free. T h e curare is sold in little c a l a b a s h e s ; but its preparation b e i n g in the hands o f a few families, and the quantity o f poison attached to each dart b e i n g extremely small, the best curare, that o f E s m e ­ ralda and Mandavaca, is sold at a very high price. This substance, w h e n dried, resembles o p i u m ; b u t it strongly absorbs moisture when e x p o s e d to the air. I t s taste is an agreeable bitter, and M . Bonpland and m y s e l f have often swallowed small portions o f it. There is n o danger in so d o i n g , if it be certain that neither lips n o r g u m s bleed. In experiments made by Mangili on the venom o f the viper, o n e o f his assistants swallowed all the poison that c o u l d be extracted from four large vipers o f Italy, w i t h o u t being affected by it. T h e Indians consider the curare, taken internally, as an excellent stomachic. The same poison prepared by the Piraoas and Salives, though it has s o m e celebrity, is not so much esteemed as that o f Esmeralda. T h e process o f this preparation appears t o be everywhere


DIFFERENT PROCESSES.

443

nearly the s a m e ; b u t there is n o p r o o f that the different poisons sold b y the same n a m e at the O r i n o c o and t h e A m a z o n are identical, and derived from the same plants. Orfila, therefore, in his excellent w o r k O n Poisons, has v e r y j u d i c i o u s l y separated the wourali o f D u t c h Guiana, t h e curare o f the O r i n o c o , the ticuna o f the A m a z o n , and all those substances which have b e e n t o o vaguely united u n d e r the name o f ' A m e r i c a n poisons.' Possibly at some future day, one and the same alkaline principle, similar t o morphine and strychnia, will b e found in poisonous plants b e l o n g i n g to different genera. A t the O r i n o c o the curare de raiz ( o f tho r o o t ) is distinguished from the curare de bejuco ( o f lianas, or o f the bark o f b r a n c h e s ) . W e saw only the latter prepared ; the former is w e a k e r , and m u c h less esteemed. A t the river A m a z o n we learned t o distinguish the poisons o f the T i c u n a , T a g u a , Peva, and X i b a r o I n d i a n s , which b e i n g all obtained from the same plant, perhaps differ only b y a more or less careful Reparation. T h e T i c u n a poison, t o which L a C o n d a m i n e has given so m u c h celebrity in E u r o p e , and which s o m e what improperly begins t o bear the n a m e o f ticuna, is extracted from a liana which g r o w s in the island o f M o r m o r o t e , o n the U p p e r M a r a n o n . This poison is e m ployed partly b y the T i c u n a s , w h o remain i n d e p e n d e n t o n the Spanish territory near the sources o f the Y a c a r i q u e ; and partly b y Indians o f the same tribe, inhabiting t h e Portuguese mission o f L o r e t o . T h e poisons w e have j u s t named differ totally from that o f L a Peca, and from t h e Poison o f L a m a s and o f M o y o b a m b a . I enter i n t o these details because the vestiges of plants which w e w e r e able t o examine, proved t o us (contrary t o the c o m m o n o p i n i o n ) that the three poisons o f the T i c u n a s , o f L a P e c a , and o f M o y o bamba are n o t obtained from the same species, p r o b a b l y n o t even from c o n g e n e r i c plants. I n p r o p o r t i o n as the p r e paration o f the curare is simple, that o f the poison o f M o y o bamba is a l o n g and complicated p r o c e s s . W i t h the juice o f the bejuco de ambihuasca, which is the principal ingredient, are mixed p i m e n t o , t o b a c c o , barbasco (Jacquinia armillaris), sanango ( T a b e r n ĂŚ m o n t a n a ) , and the milk o f s o m e o t h e r a p o c y n e ĂŚ . T h e fresh j u i c e o f the ambihuasca has a deleterious action w h e n in contact with the b l o o d ; t h e j u i c e o f the

(


444

EFFECTS

mavacure fire;

OF

i s a m o r t a l poison

THE

POISON.

o n l y w h e n it is c o n c e n t r a t e d by

and ebullition deprives t h e juice o f t h e root of Jatropha

m a n i h o t ( t h e m a n i o c ) o f all i t s b a n e f u l b i n g a long

time

between

qualities.

rub-

In

m y lingers t h e liana w h i c h y i e l d s

t h e potent poison o f La Peca, w h e n t h e weather w a s excessively

h o t , my

hands

were b e n u m b e d ;

and a person w h o

w a s e m p l o y e d w i t h m e felt t h e s a m e effects

from

this

rapid

absorption by the uninjured i n t e g u m e n t s . I shall not here e n t e r into any detail on t h e p h y s i o l o g i c a l properties o f those with the same

poisons of the New

promptitude

World

which

kill

a s t h e s t r y c h m ĂŚ o f Asia,* b u t

w i t h o u t p r o d u c i n g v o m i t i n g w h e n t h e y are received i n t o t h e stomach, the

and

violent

fowl is e a t e n been

without

excitement

killed

with

method

of the Orinoco

a poisoned

flesh

of death by

the approach

o f t h e spinal m a r r o w .

on the banks

allege that the this

denoting

a

has n o t

a r r o w ; a n d the m i s s i o n a r i e s

of animals

is e m p l o y e d .

Scarcely

which

is n e v e r s o g o o d a s w h e n

Father

Zea, who accompanied

u s , t h o u g h ill o f a tertian fever, e v e r y m o r n i n g h a d t h e live f o w l s a l l o t t e d for o u r food brought t o his h a m m o c k with not

an a r r o w , a n d h e k i l l e d t h e m confide

this

importance,

to

operation, any other

to

himself;

which

person.

he

together

for h e w o u l d

attached

Large

birds,

great

a

guan

( p a v a d e m o n t e ) for i n s t a n c e , o r a c u r a s s a o ( a l e c t o r ) , w h e n wounded

in t h e t h i g h ,

i t is often

pig or a p e c c a r y . bought

d i e in t w o o r t h r e e

ten or twelve

minutes

before

minutes; but

life is e x t i n c t i n a

M . B o n p l a n d found that t h e s a m e p o i s o n ,

in different

villages,

c u r e d a t t h e river A m a z o n

varied

much.

which o f the

keys,

T r a v e l l e r s , on arriving in t h e m i s s i o n s , f r e q u e n t l y

their guanas,

killed with less.

Ticuna

had p r o -

w a s l e s s p o t e n t t h a n a n y o f t h e varieties o f t h e curare Orinoco.

real

We

poison

testify

some

apprehension on learning and

even

poisoned

Majendie

has

the fish

arrows. proved

t h a t t h e fowls, m o n -

which t h e y e a t , have b e e n

B u t t h e s e fears are g r o u n d b y his i n g e n i o u s

experiments

on t r a n s f u s i o n , that t h e blood o f a n i m a l s on which t h e b i t t e r strychnos o f India

h a s p r o d u c e d a d e l e t e r i o u s effect, has no

fatal action on o t h e r

animals.

able quantity of poisoned

blood

A

d o g received into

a consider-

his v e i n s w i t h o u t a n y

trace of irritation b e i n g perceived in the spinal m a r r o w . * The nux vomica, the upus tieute, and the bean of St. Ignatius. (Strychnos Ignatia.)


ITS ACTION ON THE SYSTEM.

445

I placed the most active curare in c o n t a c t with the crural nerves of a frog, w i t h o u t perceiving any sensible change in measuring the degree o f irritability o f the organs, b y means of an arc f o r m e d o f h e t e r o g e n e o u s metals. Galvanic experiments succeeded u p o n birds, some minutes after I had killed them with a p o i s o n e d arrow. T h e s e observations arc n o t uninteresting, w h e n w e recollect that a solution o f the upaspoison poured u p o n the sciatic nerve, o r insinuated into the texture o f the nerve, p r o d u c e s also a sensible effect o n the irritability o f the organs by immediate c o n t a c t with the medullary substance. T h e danger o f the curare, as o f most of the other stryehneĂŚ, (for w e c o n t i n u e t o believe that the mavacure belongs to a neighbouring family,) results only from the action o f the poison o n the vascular system. A t M a y pures, a zambo descended from an Indian and a n e g r o , p r e pared for M . Bonpland some o f those poisoned arrows, that are shot from b l o w i n g - t u b e s t o kill small m o n k e y s or birds. H e was a man o f remarkable muscular strength. Having had the imprudence to rub the curare b e t w e e n his fingers after being slightly w o u n d e d , he fell on the ground seized with a vertigo, that lasted nearly half an hour. Happily the poison was o f that diluted kind which is used for very small animals, that is, for those which it is believed can be recalled t o life by p u t t i n g muriate o f soda into the w o u n d . During our passage in returning from Esmeralda to A t u r e s , I myself narrowly escaped an imminent danger. T h e curare, having imbibed the humidity o f the air,had b e c o m e fluid, and was spilt from an imperfectly closed jar upon our linen. T h e person who washed the linen had neglected t o examine the inside of a stocking, which was filled with curare; and it was o n l y on t o u c h i n g this glutinous matter with m y hand, that I was warned not to draw on the poisoned stocking. T h e danger was so m u c h the greater, as m y feet at that time were bleeding from the w o u n d s made by chegoes ( P u l e x penetrans), which had n o t b e e n well extirpated. This c i r c u m stance may warn travellers o f the c a u t i o n requisite in t h e c o n v e y a n c e of poisons. A n interesting chemical and physiological investigation remains to be accomplished in Europe on the poisons o f the New W o r l d , w h e n , b y more frequent c o m m u n i c a t i o n s , the curare de bejuco, the curare de raiz, and the various p o i s o n s of


446

SUPPOSED REMEDIES.

the A m a z o n , Guallaga, and Brazil, can be p r o c u r e d , w i t h o u t b e i n g c o n f o u n d e d t o g e t h e r , f r o m the places where they are prepared. Since the discovery o f prussic acid,* and m a n y o t h e r n e w substances eminently deleterious, the i n t r o d u c t i o n o f poisons prepared b y savage nations is less feared in E u r o p e ; w e c a n n o t h o w e v e r appeal t o o s t r o n g l y t o the vigilance o f those who keep such n o x i o u s substances in the m i d s t o f p o p u l o u s cities, the centres o f civilization, misery, and depravity. O u r botanical k n o w l e d g e o f the plants e m p l o y e d in making poison can be b u t very slowly acquired. M o s t o f the I n d i a n s w h o make p o i s o n e d arrows, are totally i g n o r a n t o f the nature o f the v e n o m o u s substances they use, and which they obtain from other p e o p l e . A m y s t e r i o u s veil everywhere covers the history o f poisons and o f their antid o t e s . Their preparation a m o n g savages is the m o n o p o l y o f t h e piaches, w h o are at o n c e priests, j u g g l e r s , and physic i a n s ; it is only from the natives w h o are transplanted to t h e missions, that any certain n o t i o n s can b e acquired on matters so problematical. A g e s elapsed before E u r o p e a n s b e c a m e acquainted through the investigation o f M . M u t i s , with the bejuco del guaco ( M i k a n i a g u a c o ) , which is the m o s t powerful o f all antidotes against the bite o f serpents, and of which w e were fortunate e n o u g h to give the first botanical description. T h e opinion is very general in the missions that no c u r e is possible, if the curare be fresh, well c o n c e n t r a t e d , and have staid l o n g in the w o u n d , t o have e n t e r e d freely into the circulation. A m o n g the specifics e m p l o y e d o n the banks o f the O r i n o c o , and in the I n d i a n A r c h i p e l a g o , the m o s t celebrated is muriate o f soda.† T h e w o u n d is r u b b e d * First obtained by Scheele in the year 1782. Gay-Lussac (to whom we are indebted for the complete analysis of this acid) observes, that it can never become very dangerous to society, because its peculiar smell (that of bitter almonds) betrays its presence, and the facility with which it is decomposed makes it difficult to preserve. † Oviedo (Sommario delle Indie Orientali) recommends sea-water as an antidote against vegetable poisons. The people in the missions never fail to assure European travellers, that they have no more to fear from arrows dipped in curare, if they have a little salt in their mouths, than from the electric shocks of the gymnoti, when chewing tobacco. Raleigh recommends as an antidote to the ourari (curare) the juice of garlick. [But later experiments have completely proved that if the poison has once fairly


USUAL

SYMPTOMS.

447

with this salt, which is also taken internally. I had m y s e l f n o direct and sufficiently c o n v i n c i n g p r o o f o f the action o f this s p e c i f i c ; and the e x p e r i m e n t s o f Delille and M a j e n d i e rather t e n d to disprove its efficacy. O n the banks o f t h e A m a z o n , the preference a m o n g the antidotes is given t o s u g a r ; and muriate o f soda b e i n g a substance almost u n k n o w n to the Indians o f the forests, it is probable that t h e honey o f bees, and that farinaceous sugar which oozes from plantains dried in the sun, w e r e anciently e m p l o y e d throughout Guiana. I n vain have ammonia and eau-de-luce been tried against the curare ; it is n o w k n o w n that these specifics are uncertain, even when applied to w o u n d s caused b y the bite o f serpents. Sir Everard H o m e has shown that a cure is often attributed t o a r e m e d y , w h e n it is o w i n g o n l y to the slightness o f the w o u n d , and to a very c i r c u m s c r i b e d action o f the poison. A n i m a l s m a y with i m p u n i t y b e w o u n d e d with p o i s o n e d arrows, i f the w o u n d b e well laid open, and the point imbued with poison b e withdrawn i m m e diately after the w o u n d is m a d e . I f salt o r sugar b e e m ployed in these cases, p e o p l e are t e m p t e d t o regard t h e m as excellent specifics. I n d i a n s , w h o had b e e n w o u n d e d in battle b y weapons dipped in the curare, described t o us t h e symptoms they experienced, which w e r e entirely similar t o those observed in the bite o f serpents. T h e w o u n d e d p e r son feels c o n g e s t i o n in the head, v e r t i g o , and nausea. He is t o r m e n t e d b y a raging thirst, and n u m b n e s s pervades all the parts that are near the w o u n d . T h e old I n d i a n , w h o was called t h e poison-master, seemed flattered b y the interest w e t o o k in his chemical processes. H e found us sufficiently intelligent t o lead him t o the b e lief that w e k n e w h o w t o make soap, an art which, n e x t t o the preparation o f curare, appeared to him o n e o f the finest o f human inventions. W h e n the liquid p o i s o n had b e e n poured into the vessels prepared for their r e c e p t i o n , w e entered into combination with the blood there is no remedy, either for man or any of the inferior animals. The wourali and other poisons mentioned by Humboldt have, since the publication of this work, been carefully analysed by the first chemists of Europe, and experiments made on their symptoms and supposed remedies. Artificial inflation of the lungs was found the most successful, but in very few instances was any cure effected.]


448

FESTIVITIES

OF THE SAVAGES. of the juvias.

a c c o m p a n i e d t h e I n d i a n t o the festival harvest o f juvias, celebrated tion.

by dancing,

and b y excesses

by

of wild

intoxica-

T h e h u t where t h e natives were assembled, displayed

d u r i n g several d a y s a very s i n g u l a r a s p e c t . table

nor b e n c h ;

smoke,

but

large

roasted

T h e r e w a s neither

monkeys,

blackened

ranged in r e g u l a r o r d e r a g a i n s t t h e w a l l .

were

T h e s e w e r e t h e marimondes ( A t e l e s

belzebuth), and those

b e a r d e d m o n k e y s called c a p u c h i n s , which

must

n o t be con-

f o u n d e d w i t h t h e w e e p e r , o r sai ( S i m i a c a p u c i n a o f The

The

or fruits o f t h e B e r t h o l l e t i a e x c e l s a , * w a s

manner

of roasting

these

contributes to render their appearance a b l e in the e y e s o f civilized m a n . o f very hard w o o d ground.

extremely

animals disagree-

A little g r a t i n g o r lattice

is f o r m e d , a n d raised

The monkey

Buffon).

anthropomorphous

o n e foot from t h e

is s k i n n e d , a n d b e n t

into a sitting

p o s t u r e ; t h e head g e n e r a l l y r e s t i n g on t h e a r m s , w h i c h a r e meagre

and l o n g ;

b u t s o m e t i m e s t h e s e are c r o s s e d

t h e back.

W h e n it is tied on t h e g r a t i n g ,

is

below.

kindled

T h e monkey,

behind

a very clear fire

enveloped

in s m o k e a n d

flame, is broiled and b l a c k e n e d a t t h e s a m e t i m e .

O n seeing

t h e natives d e v o u r t h e a r m o r l e g o f a r o a s t e d m o n k e y , i t is difficult

n o t t o believe that this habit

closely r e s e m b l i n g t o a certain cannibalism ticularly

degree, contributed among

those

o f eating animals so

m a n in t h e i r physical these

which

people.

have

organization, has,

t o diminish

very

Roasted round

t h e horror o f monkeys,

heads,

h i d e o u s r e s e m b l a n c e to a c h i l d ; a n d c o n s e q u e n t l y w h o are o b l i g e d to feed

on t h e m

and t h e h a n d s , and serve

par-

display

a

Europeans

prefer s e p a r a t i n g

t h e head

up o n l y t h e rest o f t h e a n i m a l at

their tables.

T h e flesh o f m o n k e y s is so lean a n d d r y , that

M.

has preserved

Bonpland

arm

and

hand,

Esmeralda;

which

in his c o l l e c t i o n s

had been

a n d n o smell

broiled

has arisen

from

at

over

Paris a n

the

them

fire at

after t h e

lapse of a great n u m b e r o f years. W e saw t h e I n d i a n s d a n c e . is

increased

by t h e w o m e n

T h e m o n o t o n y of their dancing not d a r i n g t o t a k e p a r t in i t .

T h e m e n . y o u n g and o l d , form a circle, h o l d i n g each o t h e r s ' hands; left,

a n d turn

for whole

sometimes

h o u r s , with

to t h e right, s o m e t i m e s

silent gravity.

* The Brazil nut.

Most

t o the

frequently


PRIMITIVE

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.

449

t h e dancers themselves are the musicians. F e e b l e sounds, drawn from a scries o f reeds o f different lengths, form a slow and plaintive a c c o m p a n i m e n t . T h e first dancer, t o mark the time, bends both knees in a kind o f c a d e n c e . S o m e t i m e s t h e y all make a pause in their places, and e x e c u t e little oscillatory m o v e m e n t s , b e n d i n g the b o d y from one side t o the o t h e r . T h e reeds ranged in a line, and fastened t o g e t h e r , resemble the Pan's pipes, as we find them represented in the bacchanalian processions on G r e c i a n vases. T o unite reeds o f different lengths, and make t h e m sound in succession b y passing t h e m before the lips, is a simple idea, and has naturally presented itself t o every nation. We were surprised t o see with what p r o m p t i t u d e the y o u n g I n d i a n s c o n s t r u c t e d and t u n e d these pipes, w h e n they f o u n d reeds o n the b a n k o f the river. Uncivilized men, in every zone, make great use o f these gramina w i t h high stalks. T h e G r e e k s , with truth, said that reeds had c o n t r i b u t e d t o subjugate n a t i o n s b y furnishing arrows, t o soften m e n ' s manners by the charm o f m u s i c , and to u n f o l d their understanding b y affording t h e first instruments f o r tracing letters. T h e s e different uses o f reeds mark in s o m e sort three different p e r i o d s in the life o f nations. W e m u s t admit that the tribes o f the O r i n o c o are in the first stage o f d a w n i n g civilization. T h e reed serves them only as an instrument o f war and o f h u n t i n g ; and the Pan's pipes, o f which we have spoken, have not yet, on those distant shores, y i e l d e d sounds capable o f awakening mild and humane feelings. W e f o u n d in t h e h u t allotted for the festival, several vegetable p r o d u c t i o n s which the Indians had b r o u g h t from the mountains o f Guanaya, and which engaged our attention. I shall o n l y here m e n t i o n t h e fruit o f the j u v i a , reeds o f a p r o d i g i o u s length, and shirts m a d e o f the bark o f murium. T h e almendron, o r juvia, o n e o f t h e m o s t majestic trees o f the forests o f the N e w W o r l d , was almost u n k n o w n before o u r visit to the Rio N e g r o . It begins t o b e found after a journey o f four days oast o f Esmeralda, b e t w e e n the Padamo and O c a m o . at the foot o f the C e r r o M a p a y a , o n t h e r i g h t b a n k of t h e O r i n o c o . I t is still m o r e abundant o n t h e left b a n k , at the C e r r o G u a n a j a , b e t w e e n the Rio A m a g u a c a and the G e h e t t e . T h e inhabitants of

VOL. II.

2 G


450

THE

BRAZIL-NUT.

Esmeralda assured u s , that in advancing above t h e G e h e t t e and the Chiguire, the juvia and cacao-trees b e c o m e so c o m m o n that t h e wild I n d i a n s ( t h e G u a i c a s and G u a h a r i b o s ) do not disturb t h e I n d i a n s o f t h e missions w h e n gathering in their harvests. T h e y do not envy t h e m t h e p r o d u c t i o n s Scarcely with which nature has enriched their own soil. any a t t e m p t has b e e n made to propagate; t h e almendrones in the settlements o f t h e U p p e r O r i n o c o . To this t h e i n d o l e n c e of the inhabitants is a greater obstacle than the rapidity with which the oil b e c o m e s rancid in the amygdaliform seeds. W e Found only three trees of the kind at t h e mission o f San Carlos, and t w o at Esmeralda. T h e s e majestic trees were eight or ten years o l d , and had n o t y e t b o r n e flowers. As early as t h e sixteenth century, t h e seeds with l i g n e o u s and triangular teguments (but not the great drupe, like a cocoa-nut, which contains the almonds, were k n o w n in Europe. I recognise them in an imperfect engraving o f Clusius.* T h i s b o t a n i s t designates t h e m u n d e r t h e n a m e of almendras del Peru. They had no doubt been carried, as a very rare fruit, to the U p p e r M a r a ñ o n , and t h e n c e , b y the Cordilleras, to Q u i t o and Peru. T h e ‘ N o v u s O r b i s ' o f Laet, in which I found the first, account, of the cow-tree, furnishes also a description and a figure singularly exact o f the fruit o f t h e bertholletia. L a e t calls the tree totocke, and mentions the drupe of the size o f the human head, which contains the almonds. T h e weight o f these fruits, he says, is so e n o r m o u s , that t h e savages dare n o t enter t h e forests without c o v e r i n g their heads and shoulders with a buckler of very hard w o o d . These bucklers are u n k n o w n to the natives of Esmeralda, but, they told us of the danger incurred w h e n the fruit ripens a n d falls from a height o f fifty or sixty feet. T h e triangular seeds o f t h e j u v i a are sold in Portugal under the vague appellation of chesnuts (easlanas) of the A m a z o n , and in England under the n a m e * Clusius distinguishes very properly the almmendras del Peru, o u r Bertholletia excelsa, or juvia, (fructus amygdalæ-nucleo, triangularis, dorso lato, in bina latera angulosa desinente, rugosus, paululum Cuneiform is) from the pekea, or Amygdala guayanica. Raleigh, who knew none of the productions of the Upper Orinoco, does not speak of the juriva; but it appears that he first brought to Europe the fruit of the mauritia palm, of which we have so often spoken. (Fructus elegantissimus, squamosus, similis palmæ-pini.)


GROWTH

OF T H E

BERTHOLLETIA.

451

of B r a z i l - n u t s ; and it was l o n g believed that, like the fruit of the p e k e a , t h e y g r e w o n separate stalks. T h e y have furnished, an article o f trade for a c e n t u r y past t o the inhabitants o f G r a n d Para, b y w h o m t h e y are sent either directly t o E u r o p e , o r t o C a y e n n e , w h e r e t h e y are called touka. T h e celebrated botanist, C o r r e a de Serra, t o l d u s that this t r e e a b o u n d s i n t h e forests i n t h e n e i g h b o u r h o o d of M a c a p a , at the m o u t h o f the A m a z o n ; that it there bears the n a m e o f capucaya, and that the inhabitants gather the almonds, like those o f the lecythis, to express the oil. A cargo o f almonds o f the j u v i a , b r o u g h t into H a v r e , c a p t u r e d b y a privateer, in 1 8 0 7 , was e m p l o y e d f o r t h e same p u r ­ pose. T h e tree that yields the Brazil-nuts is generally n o t more than t w o o r three feet in diameter, b u t attains o n e hundred o r one h u n d r e d a n d t w e n t y feet in height. I t does not resemble the m a m m e e - t r e e , the star-apple, and several o t h e r trees o f the t r o p i c s , the branches o f w h i c h (as in the laureltrees o f the temper ate z o n e ) rise almost straight towards t h e sky. T h e branches o f the bertholletia are o p e n , very l o n g , almost entirely bare t o w a r d s t h e base, and loaded at their summits with tufts o f very close foliage. T h i s disposition o f t h e semicoriaceous leaves, w h i c h are a little silvery o n their under part, and m o r e than t w o feet, long, makes the branches bend d o w n t o w a r d the g r o u n d , like the fronds o f the p a l m tree. We did n o t see this majestic tree in b l o s s o m : it is n o t loaded with flowers* till in its fifteenth y e a r , a n d t h e y apреаг about the end o f March and the b e g i n n i n g o f A p r i l . T h e fruits r i p e n t o w a r d s t h e e n d of M a y , and some trees retain them till the end o f A u g u s t . T h e s e fruits, which are as large as the head o f a child, often twelve o r thirteen inches in diameter, make a very loud noise in falling from the tops of t h e trees. N o t h i n g is m o r e fitted t o fill the mind with admiration o f t h e force o f o r g a n i c action in the e q u i ­ noctial z o n e than the aspect o f those great ligneous peri­ carps, for instance, the cocoa-tree ( l o d o i c e a ) o f t h e M a l d i v e s * According to accounts somewhat vague, they are yellow, very large, and have some similitude to those of the Bombax ceiba. M . Bonpland says, however, in his botanical journal written on the banks of the Rio Negro, " f l o s violaceus." It was thus the Indians of the river had described to him the colour of the corolla.

2 G 2


452

ABUNDANT OF THE NUTS.

a m o n g the m o n o c o t y l e d o n s , and the berthollctia and t h e lecythis a m o n g the dicotyledons. In o u r climates only the cucurbitaceĂŚ produce in the space o f a few months fruits o f an extraordinary s i z e ; but these fruits are pulpy and succulent. W i t h i n the tropics, the bertholletia forms in less than fifty or sixty days a pericarp, the ligneous part o f w h i c h is half an inch thick, and which it is difficult to saw with the sharpest instruments. A great naturalist has observed, that the wood of fruits attains in general a hardness which is scarcely to b e f o u n d in the w o o d o f the t r u n k s o f trees. T h e pericarp o f the bertholletia has traces o f four cells, a n d I have sometimes f o u n d even five. T h e seeds have t w o very distinct coverings, and this circumstance renders the structure o f the fruit more complicated than in the lecythis, the pekea or caryocar, and the saouvari. The first t e g u m e n t is osseous or ligneous, triangular, t u b e r c u lated o n its exterior surface, and o f the c o l o u r o f c i n n a m o n . F o u r or five, and sometimes eight o f these triangular nuts, are attached t o a central partition. A s they are l o o s e n e d in time, they move freely in the large spherical pericarp. T h e capuchin monkeys (Simia c h i r o p o t e s ) are singularly fond o f the Brazil n u t s ; and the noise made by the seeds, when the fruit is shaken as it falls from the tree, excites the appetites of these animals in the highest degree. I have most frequently found only from fifteen to t w e n t y - t w o nuts in each fruit. T h e second t e g u m e n t o f the almonds is membranaceous, and o f a b r o w n - y e l l o w . Their taste is extremely agreeable when they are f r e s h ; but the oil, with which they a b o u n d , and which is so useful in the arts, becomes easily rancid. A l t h o u g h at the Upper O r i n o c o w e often ate considerable quantities o f these almonds for want o f other food, we never felt any bad effects from so d o i n g . T h e spherical pericarp of the bertholletia, perforated at the summit, is not d e h i s c e n t ; the upper and swelled part o f the columella forms ( a c c o r d i n g to .M. K u n t h ) a sort o f inner c o v e r , as in the fruit o f the lecythis, b u t it seldom opens o f itself. M a n y seeds, from the d e c o m p o sition o f t h e oil contained in the c o t y l e d o n s , lose the faculty o f germination before the rainy season, in which the ligneous integument o f the pericarp o p e n s by the effect o f putrefaction. A tale is very current o n t h e banks o f the


NATIVE

BLOW-PIPES.

453

L o w e r O r i n o c o , that the capuchin and cacajao m o n k e y s (Simia chiropotes, and Simia melanocephala) place t h e m selves in a circle, and, b y striking the shell With a stone, succeed in o p e n i n g it, so as t o take o u t the triangular nuts. This operation m u s t , however, b e impossible, o n a c c o u n t o f the extreme hardness and thickness o f the pericarp. M o n k e y s may have b e e n seen rolling along the fruit o f the bertholletia, b u t t h o u g h this fruit has a small hole closed b y the upper extremity o f the columella, nature has n o t furnished m o n k e y s with the means o f o p e n i n g the ligneous pericarp, as it has o f o p e n i n g the covercle o f the lecythis, called in the missions " the covercle o f the m o n k e y s ' cocoa."* A c c o r d i n g t o the report o f several Indians, o n l y the smaller rodentia, particularly the cavies (the acuri and the lapa), by the structure o f their teeth, and the i n c o n c e i v able perseverance with which they pursue their destructive operations, succeed in perforating the fruit o f the juvia. A s soon as the triangular nuts are spread o n the g r o u n d , all the animals o f the forest, the m o n k e y s , the manaviris, the squirrels, the cavies, the parrots, and the macaws, hastily assemble to dispute the prey. They have all strength enough t o break the ligneous t e g u m e n t o f the s e e d ; they get out the kernel, and carry it to the tops o f the trees. "It is their festival a l s o , " said the Indians w h o had r e turned from the h a r v e s t ; and o n hearing their complaints of the animals, one may perceive that they think themselves alone the lawful masters o f the forest. O n e o f the f o u r canoes, which had taken the I n d i a n s to the gathering of the juvias, was filled in great part with that species o f reeds ( c a r i c e s ) , o f which the blow-tubes are made. T h e s e reeds w e r e from fifteen t o seventeen feet long, yet n o trace o f a k n o t for the insertion o f leaves and branches was perceived. They were quite straight, smooth externally, and perfectly cylindrical. These carices c o m e from the foot o f the mountains o f Yumariquin and Guanaja. They are m u c h s o u g h t after, even b e y o n d the O r i n o c o , by the name o f ‘ reeds o f Esmeralda.’ A hunter preserves the same b l o w - t u b e during his w h o l e life, and boasts o f its lightness and precision, as we boast o f the same qualities in * "La tapa del coco de monos."


454

NATURAL SHIRTS AND CAPS.

our fire-arms. What is the monocotyledonous plant* that furnishes these admirable reeds? D i d we see in fact the internodes (parts between the knots) of a gramen of the tribe of nastoides? or may this carex b e perhaps a cyperaccous plant† destitute of knots ? I cannot solve this question, or determine to what genus another plant belongs, which furnishes the shirts of marima. We saw on the slope o f the Cerra Duida ‘ shirt-trees' fifty feet high. The Indians cut off cylindrical pieces two feet in d i a m e t e r , from w h i c h they peel the red and fibrous bark, without making any longitudinal incision. This bark affords them a sort o f garment, which resembles sacks of a very coarse texture, and without a seam. The upper opening serves for the h e a d ; and two lateral holes are cut for the arms to pass t h r o u g h . T h e natives wear t h e s e shirts of marima in the rainy season: they have the form of the ponchos and ruanas o f cotton, which are so common in New G r e n a d a , at Quito, and in Peru. In these climates the riches and beneficence of nature being regarded as the primary causes of the indolence of the inhabitants, the missionaries say in s h o w ing the shirts of marima, " i n the forests of the O r i n o c o garments arc found ready-made on the trees." W e may also mention the pointed caps, which the spathes of certain palm-trees furnish, and which resemble coarse network. A t the festival of which we were the spectators, t h e women, who were excluded from the dance, and every s o r t of public rejoicing, were daily occupied in serving the men

with

roasted

monkey,

fermented

liquors,

and

palm-

cabbage. This last production has the taste of our c a u l i flowers, and in no other country had we seen specimens o f such an immense size. The leaves that are not unfolded are u n i t e d with t h e y o u n g stem, and w e m e a s u r e d c y l i n d e r s

of six feet long and five inches in diameter. Another substance, which is much more nutritive, is obtained from the animal kingdom: thisisfish-flour(manioc de pescado). The Indians throughout the Upper Orinoco fry fish, dry * The smooth surface of these tubes sufficiently proves that they are not furnished by a plant of the family of umbelliferæ. † The caricillo del manati, which grows abundantly on the banks of the Orinoco, attains from eight to ten feet in height.


POLYGAMY

OF THE NATIVES.

455

them in t h e s u n , a n d r e d u c e t h e m t o p o w d e r w i t h o u t separating t h e b o n e s . I have seen masses o f fifty o r sixty p o u n d s o f this flour, w h i c h resembles that of cassava. W h e n it is w a n t e d f o r eating, it is m i x e d with water, a n d r e d u c e d t o a paste. In every climate t h e abundance o f fish has l e d t o t h e invention o f the same means o f preserving them. Pliny a n d D i o d o r u s Siculus have described the fishbread o f t h e i c h t h y o p h a g o u s nations, that dwelt on t h e Persian G u l f and the shores o f the Red Sea.* At Esmeralda, as everywhere else t h r o u g h o u t t h e missions, the I n d i a n s w h o will n o t b e baptized, and w h o are merely aggregated in the c o m m u n i t y , live in a state o f p o l y g a m y . The n u m b e r of wives differs m u c h in different tribes. It is m o s t considerable a m o n g the Caribs, a n d all t h e nations that have preserved t h e c u s t o m o f carrying off y o u n g girls from the n e i g h b o u r i n g tribes. H o w c a n w e i m a g i n e d o m e s t i c happiness in so u n e q u a l an a s s o c i a t i o n ? T h e w o m e n live in a sort o f slavery, as t h e y d o in m o s t nations which are in a state o f barbarism. T h e husbands b e i n g in t h e full e n j o y ment o f absolute p o w e r , no c o m p l a i n t is heard in their p r e sence. A n apparent tranquillity prevails in the h o u s e h o l d ; the w o m e n are eager t o anticipate the wishes o f an imperious and sullen m a s t e r ; a n d they attend w i t h o u t distinction to their o w n children and those o f their rivals. T h e missionaries assert, what m a y easily b o believed, that this d o m e s t i c peace, the effort o f fear, is singularly disturbed when the husband is l o n g absent. T h e wife w h o c o n t r a c t e d t h e first ties then applies t o the others the names o f c o n c u b i n e s a n d servants. T h e quarrels c o n t i n u e till the return o f t h e master, w h o k n o w s h o w t o calm their passions b y t h e s o u n d of his voice, b y a mere gesticulation, o r , i f h e thinks it necessary, b y means a little m o r e violent. A certain inequality in the rights o f t h e w o m e n is sanctioned b y t h e language of the Tamanacs. The husband calls the second and third wife t h e c o m p a n i o n s o f t h e first; a n d t h e first treats these companions as rivals a n d e n e m i e s ( i p u c j a t o j e ) , * These nations, in a still ruder state than the natives of the Orinoco, contented themselves with drying the raw fish in the sun. They made up the fish-paste in the form of bricks, and sometimes mixed with it the aromatic seed of paliurus (rhamnus), as in Germany, and some other countries, cummin and fennel-seed are mixed with wheaten bread.


456

EASTERN

COURSE

OF

THE ORINOCO.

a term which truly expresses their position. The whole weight of labour being supported by these unhappy women, we must not be surprised if, in some nations, their number is extremely small. When; this happens, a kind of polyandry is formed, which we find more fully displayed in Thibet, and on the lofty mountains at the extremity of the Indian peninsula. Among the Avanos and Maypures, brothers have often but one wife. When an Indian, who lives in polygamy, becomes a christian, he is compelled by the missionaries, to choose among his wives her whom he prefers, and to reject the others. At the moment of separation the new convert sometimes discovers the most valuable qualities in the wives he is obliged to abandon. One understands gardening perfectly ; another knows how to prepare chiza, an intoxicating beverage extracted from the root of cassava ; all appear to him alike clever and useful. Sometimes the desire of preserving his wives overcomes in the Indian his inclination to Christianity; but most frequently, in his perplexity, the husband prefers submitting to the choice of the missionary, as to a blind fatality. The Indians, who from May to August take journeys to the east of Esmeralda, to gather the vegetable productions of the mountains of Yumariquin, gave us precise notions of the course of the Orinoco to the east of the mission. This part of my itinerary may differ entirely from the maps that preceded it. I shall begin the description of this country with the granitic group of Duida, at the foot of which we sojourned. This group is bounded on the west by the Rio Tamatama, and on the east by the Rio Guapo. Between these two tributary streams of the Orinoco, amid the m o r i c h a l e s , or clumps of mauritia palm-trees, which surround Esmeralda, the Rio Sodomoni flows, celebrated for the excellence of the pine-apples that grow upon its banks. I measured, on the 22nd of May, in the savannah at the foot of Duida, a base of four hundred and seventy-five metres in length; the angle, under which the summit of the mountain appeared at the distance of thirteen thousand three hundred and twenty-seven metres, was still nine degrees. A trigonometric measurement, made with great are, gave me for Duida (that is, for the most elevated peak, which is south-west of the Cerro Maraguaca) two thousand


PEAK

OF

DUIDA.

457

one h u n d r e d and seventy-nine metres, or o n e thousand o n e hundred and eighteen toises, above t h e plain of Esmeralda. T h e C e r r o D u i d a t h u s yields b u t little in h e i g h t (scarcely eighty or o n e h u n d r e d toises) to t h e s u m m i t o f St. G o t h a r d , o r t h e Silla o f Caracas o n t h e shore o f V e n e z u e l a . I t is indeed considered as a colossal mountain in those c o u n t r i e s ; and this celebrity gives a precise idea o f the mean height of Parima and o f all the m o u n t a i n s o f eastern A m e r i c a . To the east o f the Sierra N e v a d a de M e r i d a , as well as t o t h e south-east o f the Paramo de las Rosas, n o n e o f the chains that e x t e n d in the same parallel line reach t h e height of t h e central ridge of the P y r e n e e s . T h e granitic summit o f Duida is so nearly perpendicular that the Indians have vainly attempted the ascent. It is a well-known fact, that m o u n t a i n s n o t remarkable for elevation are s o m e t i m e s the most inaccessible. A t the b e g i n n i n g and e n d o f t h e rainy season, small flames, w h i c h seem t o change their place, are seen on the t o p o f D u i d a . This p h e n o m e n o n , the existence o f which is borne out by c o n c u r r e n t t e s t i m o n y , has caused this m o u n t a i n to b e i m properly called a v o l c a n o . A s i t stands nearly alone, i t might be supposed that l i g h t n i n g from t i m e to t i m e sets fire to the b r u s h w o o d ; but this supposition loses its probability w h e n w e reflect o n t h e e x t r e m e difficulty with which plants are ignited in these d a m p climates. I t m u s t b e observed also that these flames are said to appear often Where the rock seems scarcely covered with turf, and that the same i g n e o u s p h e n o m e n a are visible, on days entirely e x e m p t from storms, on the summit o f G u a r a c o or M u r c i e l a g o , a hill o p p o s i t e t h e m o u t h o f the Rio T a m a t a m a , o n the southern bank o f the O r i n o c o . This hill is scarcely elevated one hundred toises above the n e i g h b o u r i n g plains. I f the statements o f the natives be c o r r e c t , it is p r o b a b l e that some subterraneous cause produces these flames on the D u i d a and the G u a r a c o ; for they never appear on t h e l o f t y n e i g h b o u r i n g mountains o f Jao and Maraguaca, so often wrapped in electric storms. T h e granite o f the C e r r o Duda is full o f veins, partly o p e n , and partly filled with crystals o f quartz and pyrites. G a s e o u s and inflammable emanations, either o f hydrogen or o f naphtha, may pass t h r o u g h these veins. O f this the m o u n t a i n s o f Caramania,


458

PEAK OF DUIDA.

o f H i n d o o k h o , and o f Himalaya, furnish frequent examples. W e saw the appearance o f flames in m a n y parts o f eastern A m e r i c a subject t o earthquakes, even from secondary r o c k s , as at C u c h i v e r o , near C u m a n a c o a . T h e fire shows itself when the g r o u n d , strongly heated b y the sun, receives t h e first r a i n s ; o r w h e n , after violent showers, the earth b e g i n s t o dry. T h e first cause o f these i g n e o u s p h e n o m e n a lies at i m m e n s e depths b e l o w the secondary r o c k s , in t h e primitive f o r m a t i o n s : the rains and the d e c o m p o s i t i o n o f atmospheric water act only a secondary part. The hottest springs o f t h e g l o b e issue immediately from granite. Petroleum gushes from m i c a - s c h i s t ; and frightful detonations are heard at Encaramada, b e t w e e n the rivers A r a u c a and Cuchivero, in the midst o f the granitic soil of the O r i n o c o and the Sierra Parima. H e r e , as e v e r y w h e r e else o n t h e g l o b e , the focus o f volcanos is in the most ancient s o i l s ; and it appears that an intimate c o n n e c t i o n exists b e t w e e n the great p h e n o m e n a that heave u p and liquify the; crust o f o u r planet, and those igneous meteors which are seen from t i m e to t i m e o n its surface, and which from their littleness w e aro t e m p t e d t o attribute solely t o the influence o f the atmosphere. D u i d a , t h o u g h l o w e r than the height assigned t o it b y p o p u l a r belief, is however the most p r o m i n e n t point o f the whole g r o u p o f mountains that, separate the basin o f the L o w e r O r i n o c o from I hat o f the A m a z o n . T h e s e mountains lower still more rapidly o n the north-east, toward the Purunama, than on the east, toward the Padamo and the R i o Ocamo. I n the former direction the most elevated summits next, to Duida are Cuneva, at the sources o f the R i o Paru ( o n e o f the tributary streams o f the V e n t u a r i ) , Sipapo, Calitamini, which forms one g r o u p with Cunavami and the peak o f U n i a n a . East o f D u i d a , o n the right bank o f t h e O r i n o c o , Maravaca, o r Sierra Managuaca, is distinguished by its elevation, between the Rio Caurimoni and the P a d a m o ; and o n the left bank o f the O r i n o c o rise t h e mountains o f Guanaja and Yumariquin, between the R i o s A m a g u a c a and Gehette. If is almost superfluous to repeat that the line which passes through these lofty summits (like those o f the Pyrenees, the Carpathian mountains, and so many other chains o f the old c o n t i n e n t ) is very distinct


LUXURIANCE

OF THE

TIMBER.

459

from the line that marks the partition of the waters. This latter line, which separates the tributary streams of the Lower and Upper Orinoco, intersects the meridian of 64째 in latitude 4째. After having separated the sources of the Rio Branco and the Carony, it runs north-west, sending off the waters of the Padamo, the Jao, and the Ventuari towards the south, and the waters of the Arui, the Caura, and the Cuchivero towards the north. The Orinoco may be ascended without danger from Esmeralda as far as the cataracts occupied by the Guaica Indians, who prevent all farther progress of the Spaniards. This is a voyage of six days and a half. In the first two days you arrive at the mouth of the Rio Padamo, or Patamo, having passed, on the north, the little rivers of Tamatama, Sodomoni, Guapo, Caurimoni, and Simirimoni; and on the south the Cuca, situate between the rock of Guaraco, which is said to throw out flames, and the Cerro Canclilla. Throughout this course the Orinoco continues to be three or four hundred toises broad. The tributary streams are most frequent on the right bank, because on that side the river is bounded by the lofty cloud-capped mountains of Duida and Maraguaca, while the left bank on the contrary is low and contiguous to a plain, the general slope of which inclines to the south-west. The northern Cordilleras are covered with tine timber. The growth of plants is so enormous in this hot and constantly humid climate, that the trunks of the Bombax ceiba are sixteen feet in diameter. From the mouth of the Rio Padamo, Which is of considerable breadth, the Indians arrive, in a day and a half, at the Rio Mavaca. The latter takes its rise in the lofty mountains of Unturan, and communicates with a lake, on the banks of which the Portuguese* of the Rio Negro gather the aromatic seeds of the Laurus pucheri, known in trade by the names of the pichurim bean, and * The pichurim bean is the puchiri of La Condamine, which abounds at the Rio Xingu, a tributary stream of the Amazon, and on the banks of the Hyurubaxy, or Yurubesh, which runs into the Rio Negro. The puchery, or pichurim, which is grated like nutmeg, differs from another aromatic fruit (a laurel ?) known in trade at Grand Para by the names of cucheri, cuchiri, or cravo (clavus) do Maranh찾o, and which, on account of its odour, is compared with cloves.


460

SINUOSITIES

OF

THE

RIVER.

toda specie. Between the confluence of the Padamo and that of the Mavaca, the Orinoco receives on the north the Ocamo, into which the Rio Matacona falls. A t the sources of the latter live the Guainares, who are much less coppercoloured, or tawny, than the other inhabitants of those countries. This is one of the tribes called by the missionaries ‘fair I n d i a n s ’ I n d i o s blancos). Near the mouth of the Ocamo, travellers are shown a rock, which is the wonder of the country. It is a granite passing into gneiss, and remarkable for the peculiar distribution of the black mica, which forms little ramified veins. The Spaniards call this rock Piedra Mapaya (the map-stone). The little fragment which I procured indicated a stratified rock, rich in white feldspar, and containing, together with spangles of mica, grouped in streaks, and variously twisted, some crystals of hornblende. It is not a syenite, but probably a granite of new formation, analagous to those to which the stanniferous granites (hyalomictes) and the pegmatites, or graphic granites, belong. Beyond the confluence of the Macava, the Orinoco suddenly diminishes in breadth and depth, becoming extremely sinuous, like an Alpine torrent. Its banks are surrounded by mountains, and the number of its tributary streams on the south augments considerably, yet the Cordillera on the north remains the most elevated. It requires two days to go from the mouth of the Macava, to the Rio Gehette, the navigation being very difficult, and the boats, on account of the want of water, being often dragged along the shore. The tributary streams along this distance are, on the south, the Daracapo and the Amaguaca; which skirt on the west and east the mountains of Guanaya and Yumariquin, where the bertholletias are gathered. The Rio Manaviche flows down from the mountains on the north, the elevation of which diminishes progressively from the Cerro Maraguaca. As we advance further up the Orinoco, the whirlpools and little rapids (chorros y remolinos) become more and more frequent; on the north lies the CaĂąo Chiquire, inhabited by the Guineas, another tribe of white Indians; and two leagues distant is the mouth of the Gehette, where there is a great cataract. A dyke of granitic rocks crosses the Orinoco; these rocks are, as it were,


B R I D G E OF LIANAS.

461

the c o l u m n s o f H e r c u l e s , b e y o n d which n o white man has been able t o penetrate. I t appears, that this point, k n o w n b y t h e n a m e o f the great Randal de Guaharibos, is t h r e e quarters o f a degree west o f Esmeralda, c o n s e q u e n t l y in longitude 67° 38'. A military expedition, undertaken b y the c o m m a n d e r o f the fort of San Carlos, D o n F r a n c i s c o Bovadilla, t o discover the sources o f the O r i n o c o , led to some information respecting the cataracts o f the Guaharibos. Bovadilla had heard, that some fugitive n e g r o e s from D u t c h Guiana, p r o c e e d i n g towards the w e s t ( b e y o n d t h e isthmus between the sources o f the R i o Carony and the R i o B r a n c o ) , had j o i n e d the i n d e p e n d e n t Indians. H e attempted an entrada (hostile i n c u r s i o n ) , w i t h o u t having obtained the p e r mission o f the g o v e r n o r ; t h e desire o f p r o c u r i n g A f r i c a n slaves, b e t t e r fitted for labour than t h e c o p p e r - c o l o u r e d race, was a far m o r e powerful m o t i v e than that o f zeal for the progress o f g e o g r a p h y . Bovadilla arrived w i t h o u t difficulty as far as t h e little Raudal* o p p o s i t e the G e h e t t e ; b u t having advanced t o t h e f o o t o f t h e r o c k y dike that forms t h e great cataract, he was suddenly attacked, while he was breakfasting. by the G u a h a r i b o s and G u a y c a s , t w o warlike tribes, celebrated for t h e virulence o f t h e curare with which their arrows are e m p o i s o n e d . T h e I n d i a n s o c c u p i e d t h e rocks that rise in the middle o f t h e river, and seeing t h e Spaniards without b o w s , and having no k n o w l e d g e o f firearms, they p r o v o k e d the whites, w h o m they believed t o b e without defence. Several o f the latter were dangerously w o u n d e d , and Bovadilla found himself forced t o give t h e signal for battle. A fearful carnage ensued a m o n g t h e natives, b u t n o n e o f the D u t c h n e g r o e s , w h o , as was b e lieved, had taken refuge in those parts, were found. Notwithstanding a victory so easily won, the Spaniards did not dare t o advance eastward in a m o u n t a i n o u s c o u n t r y , and along a river inclosed by very high banks. These white Guaharibos have constructed a bridge o f lianas a b o v e t h e cataract, s u p p o r t e d o n rocks that rise, as generally happens in the pongos o f the U p p e r M a r a ù o n , in the middle o f t h e river. T h e existence o f this b r i d g e , * It is called Raudal de abaxo (Low Cataract), in opposition to the great Raudal de Guaharibos, which is situated higher up toward the east.


462

LOCALITY

OF THE AMAZON

STONES.

which is known to all the inhabitants o f Esmeralda,* seems t o indicate that the O r i n o c o m u s t b e very narrow at this point. I t is generally estimated by the Indians to b e only t w o o r three h u n d r e d feet broad. T h e y say, that t h e O r i n o c o , above the Randal o f t h e Guaharibos, is n o l o n g e r a river, b u t a b r o o k ( r i a c h u e l o ) ; while a well informed e c c l e siastic, Fray J u a n G o n z a l e s , w h o had visited those countries, assured m e , that the O r i n o c o , in the part where its farther course is no no longer known, is two-thirds o f the breadth o f the Rio Negro near San Carlos. This opinion appears t o m e hardly p r o b a b l e ; b u t I relate what I have collected, and affirm nothing positively. In the r o c k y dike that crosses the O r i n o c o , forming the Randal of the G u a h a r i b o s , Spanish soldiers pretend to have f o u n d the fine kind of saussurite ( A m a z o n - s t o n e ) , o f which we have spoken. This tradition however is very u n c e r t a i n ; and the Indians, w h o m I interrogated on the subject, assnred me, that the green stones, called piedras de Macagua† at Esmeralda, were purchased from the (Juaicas and G u a h a ribos, w h o traffic with hordes m u c h farther t o t h e east. T h e same uncertainty prevails respecting these stones, as that which attaches to many other valuable productions o f the Indies. On the coast, at the distance o f some hundred leagues, t h e c o u n t r y w h e r e t h e y are f o u n d is positively n a m e d ; but when the traveller with difficulty penetrates into that c o u n t r y , he discovers that the natives are ignorant even of the name of the object o f his research. It might b e supposed that the amulets of saussurite found in the possession o f t h e I n d i a n s o f t h e R i o N e g r o , c o m e from the L o w e r Maraùon, while those that are received by t h e missions o f t h e U p p e r O r i n o c o and t h e R i o C a r o n y c o m e from a country situated between the sources of the Essequibo and the Rio Branco. The opinion that this stone is taken in * The Amazon also is crossed twice on bridges of wood near its source in the lake Lauricocha ; first north of Chavin, and then below the confluence of the Rio Aguamiras. These, the only two bridges that have been thrown over the largest river we yet know, are called Puente de Quivilla, andPuente,deG u a n c a y b a m b a . † The etymology of this name, which is unknown to me, might lead, to the knowledge of he spot, where these stones are found. I have sought in vain the name of Macagua among the numerous tributary streams of the Tacutu, the Mahu, the Rupunury, and the Rio Trombetas.


WHITE AND DWARF

TRIBES.

463

a soft state like paste from the little lake A m u c u , t h o u g h very prevalent at A n g o s t u r a , is w h o l l y w i t h o u t foundation. A curious g e o g n o s t i c discovery remains t o b e made i n the eastern part o f A m e r i c a , that o f finding in a primitive soil a r o c k of e u p h o t i d e c o n t a i n i n g the piedra de Macagua. I shall here p r o c e e d t o g i v e s o m e information respecting the tribes o f dwarf and fair Indians, w h i c h ancient traditions have placed near the sources o f the O r i n o c o . I had an o p portunity o f seeing s o m e o f these I n d i a n s at Esmeralda, and can affirm, that the short stature o f t h e G u a i c a s , and t h e fair complexion o f the Guaharibos, w h o m F a t h e r Caulin calls Guaribos blancos, have been alike exaggerated. T h e Guaicas, w h o m I measured, were in general from four feet seven inches to four feet e i g h t inches high ( o l d measure o f F r a n c e ) .* We were assured that the whole tribe w e r e o f this diminutive s i z e ; b u t w e m u s t n o t forget that what is called a tribe constitutes, properly speaking, b u t o n e family, o w i n g to the exclusion o f all foreign c o n n e c t i o n s . T h e I n d i a n s o f the lowest stature n e x t t o the Guaicas are t h e Guainares and the Poignaves. I t is singular, that all these nations are found in near proximity to the Caribs, who are remarkably tall. T h e y all inhabit the same climate, and subsist o n t h e same aliments. T h e y are varieties in the race, which n o d o u b t existed previously t o the settlement o f these tribes, (tall and short, fair and dark b r o w n ) in the same c o u n t r y . T h e four nations o f the U p p e r O r i n o c o , which appeared t o me t o be the fairest, are the Guaharibos o f the Rio G e h e t t e , the Guainares o f the O c a m o , the G u a i c a s o f Ca単o Chiguire, and the Maquiritares o f the sources o f the P a d a m o , the J a o , and the V e n t u a r i . It being very extraordinary to see natives with a fair skin b e n e a t h a b u r n i n g sky, and amid nations o f a very dark hue, the Spaniards have a t t e m p t e d t o explain this phenomenon by the following hypotheses. Some assert, that t h e D u t c h o f Surinam and the Rio Essequibo may have intermingled with the Guaharibos and the Guainares; others insist, from hatred t o the Capuchins o f the C a r o n y , and the Observantins of the Orinoco, that the fair Indians are what are called in Dalmatia muso di frate, children w h o s e legitimacy i s s o m e w h a t d o u b t f u l . I n either case t h e Indios blancos w o u l d be mestizos, that is t o say, c h i l d r e n * About five feet three inches English measure.


464

MIXED

RACES.

o f an Indian w o m a n and a w h i t e m a n . N o w , having seen thousands o f mestizos, I can assert that this supposition is altogether inaccurate. T h e individuals o f the fair tribes, w h o m w e examined, have the features, the stature, and t h e s m o o t h , straight, black hair which characterises other Indians It would he impossible to take them for a m i x e d race, like the descendants o f natives and Europeans. Some o f these p e o p l e are very little, others are o f t h e ordinary stature of the copper-coloured Indians. They are neither feeble, nor sickly, nor are they a l b i n o s ; and they differ from the c o p p e r - c o l o u r e d races o n l y b y a m u c h less tawny skin. It w o u l d be useless, after these considerations, to insist on the distance o f the mountains o f the U p p e r O r i n o c o from t h e shores inhabited by the Dutch. I will not deny that descendants o f fugitive negroes may have been seen a m o n g t h e Caribs, at t h e sources o f the E s s e q u i b o ; b u t n o white man ever w e n t from t h e eastern coast to the Rio G e h e t t e and the O c a m o , in t h e interior o f G u i a n a , i t must also b e o b s e r v e d , although w e may b e struck with the singularity o f several fair tribes b e i n g found at o n e p o i n t to the east o f Esmeralda, it is no less certain, that tribes have been found in other parts o f America, distinguished f r o m the neighb o u r i n g tribes by the less tawny c o l o u r o f their skin. Such are the Arivirianos and Maquiritares o f the Rio Ventuario and the Padamo, the Paudacotos and Paravenas o f the Erevato. the Viras and Araguas o f the Caura, the M o l o g a g o s o f Brazil, and the G u a y a n a s o f the U r u g u a y . * • The Cumangotos, the Maypures, the Mapojos, and some hordes of the Tamanacs, are also fair, but in a less degree than the tribes I have just named. We may add to this list (which the researches of SÜmmering. Blumenbach, and Pritchard, on the varieties of the human species, have rendered so interesting) the Ojes of the Cuchivero, the Boanes (now almost destroyed, of the interior of Brazil, and in the north of America, far from the north-west coast, the Mandans and the Akanas (Walkenaer, Geogr., p. 6 4 . Gili, vol. ii, p. 3 4 . Vater, Amerikan. Sprachen, p. 81 Southey, vol. i, p. 603.) The most tawny, we might almost say the blackest of the American race, are the Otomacs and the Guamos. These have perhaps given rise to the confused notions of American negroes, spread through European the early times of the conquest. (Herrera, Dec. i, lib.3 cap. 9. vol, i, p. 79. Garcia, Origin de los Americanos p. 259 W h o are those Negros de Quareca, placed by Gomara, p. 277, in that very isthmus of Panama, whence we received the first absurd tales of an albino American people ? In reading with attention the authors of the


DARK AND FAIR TRIBES.

465

These p h e n o m e n a are so much the more w o r t h y o f attention as they are observed in that great branch o f the A m e r i c a n nations generally ranked in a class totally opposite t o that circumpolar branch, v i z ; the T s c h o u g a z - E s q u i m a u x , * w h o s e children are fair. and w h o acquire; the M o n g o l or yellowish tint only from the influence o f the air and the humidity. In Guiana, the hordes w h o live in the midst o f the thickest forests are generally less t a w n y than those w h o inhabit the shores o f the O r i n o c o , and are e m p l o y e d in fishing. B u t this slight difference, which is alike found in E u r o p e between the artisans o f t o w n s and the cultivators o f t h e fields or the fishermen on the coasts, in n o way explains the p r o b l e m o f t h e Indios blancos. T h e y are surrounded b y other Indians o f the. w o o d s (Indios del monte), w h o are o f a reddish-brown, although n o w e x p o s e d t o t h e same physical influences. T h e causes o f these p h e n o m e n a are very ancient, and w e may repeat with T a c i t u s , " est durans orginis v i s . " T h e fair-complexioned tribes, which w e had an o p p o r t u nity o f seeing at the mission o f Esmeralda, inhabit part o f a mountainous c o u n t r y lying b e t w e e n the sources o f six t r i b u taries o f the O r i n o c o ; that is t o say, b e t w e e n the P a d a m o , the Jao, the V e n t u a r i , the E r e v a t o , the A r u y , and the Paraguay. † T h e Spanish and Portuguese missionaries are accustomed t o designate this c o u n t r y m o r e particularly beginning of the 16th century, we see, that the discovery of America, and of a new race of. men, had singularly awakened the interest of travellers respecting the varieties of our species. Now, if a black race had been mingled with copper-coloured men, as in the South-sea Islands, the conquistadores would not have failed to speak of it in a precise manner. Besides, the religious traditions of the Americans relate the appearance, in the heroic times, of white and bearded men as priests and legislators; but none of these traditions make mention of a black face. The

Chevalier Gieseke has recently confirmed all that Krantz re-

lated of the colour of the skin of the Esquimaux. That race (even in the latitude of seventy-five and seventy-six degrees, where the climate is so rigorous) is not in general so diminutive as it was long believed to be. Ross's Voyage to the North. † They are six tributary streams on the right bank of the Orinoco; the first three run towards the south, or the Upper Orinoco ; the three others towards the north, or the Lower Orinoco. VOL. I I . 2 H


466

INSURRECTION

OF THE INDIANS.

by the name of Parima.* Here, as in several other countries of Spanish America, the savages have reconquered what had been wrested from them by civilization, or rather by its precursors, the missionaries. The expedition of the boundaries under Solano, and the extravagant zeal displayed by a governor of Guiana for the discovery of El Dorado, partially revived in the latter half of the eighteenth century that spirit of enterprise which characterised the Spaniards at the period of the discovery of America. In going along the Rio Padamo, a road was observed across the forests and savannahs (the length of ten days' journey), from Esmeralda to the sources of the Ventuari; and in two days more, from those sources, by the Erevato, the missions on the Rio Caura were reached. Two intelligent and enterprising men, Don Antonio Santos and Captain Bareto, had established, with the aid of the Miquritares, a chain of military posts on this lino from Esmeralda to the Rio Erevato. These posts consisted of block-houses (casas fuertes), mounted with swivels, such as I have already mentioned. The soldiers, left to themselves, exercised all kinds of vexations on the natives (Indians of peace), who had cultivated pieces of ground around the csas fuertes; and the consequence was that, in 1776, several tribes formed a league against the Spaniards. All the military posts were attacked on the same night, on a line of nearly fifty leagues in length. The houses were burnt, and many soldiers massacred; a very small number only owing their preservation to the pity of the Indian women. This nocturnal expedition is still mentioned with horror. It was concerted in the most profound secresy, and executed with that spirit of unity which the natives of America, skilled in concealing their hostile passions, well know how to practise in whatever concerns their common interests. Since 1776 no attempt has been made to re-establish the road which leads by land from the Upper to the Lower Orinoco, and

no white man has been able to pass from Esmeralda to the * The name Parimna, which signifies water, great water, is applied sometimes, and more especially, to the land washed by the Rio Parimi or Rio Branco Rio de Aguas Blancas), a stream running into the Rio Negro; sometimes to the mountains (Sierra Parima), which divide the Upper and Lower Orinoco.


HINDRANCE TO OUR JOURNEY.

467

Erevato. I t is certain, however, that in the mountainous lands, b e t w e e n the sources o f the P a d a m o and the V e n t u a r i (near the sites called b y the I n d i a n s A u r i c h a p a , Ichuana, and I r i q u e ) there are m a n y spots w h e r e the climate is temperate, and where there are pasturages capable o f feeding n u m e r o u s herds o f cattle. T h e military posts w e r e very useful in preventing the incursions o f the Caribs, w h o , from time to t i m e carried off slaves, t h o u g h in very small numbers, b e t w e e n the E r e v a t o and the P a d a m o . They would have resisted the attacks o f t h e natives, if, instead of leaving t h e m isolated and solely t o the c o n t r o l o f t h e soldiery, they had b e e n formed into c o m m u n i t i e s , and g o verned like the villages o f n e o p h y t e Indians. W e left the mission o f Esmeralda on the 2 3 r d o f M a y . Without b e i n g positively ill, w e felt ourselves in a state of languor a n d weakness, caused b y t h e t o r m e n t o f i n sects, bad food, and a l o n g v o y a g e , in narrow and d a m p boats. W e did n o t g o u p t h e O r i n o c o b e y o n d t h e mouth o f the R i o G u a p o , which w e should have d o n e , i f we could have a t t e m p t e d to reach the sources o f the river. There remains a distance o f fifteen leagues from the G u a p o t o the Raudal o f the Guaharibos. A t this cataract, which is passed on a bridge o f lianas, I n d i a n s are posted armed with bows and arrows, t o p r e v e n t the whites, or those w h o c o m e fromtheir territory from advancing westward. H o w could we hope to pass a point where the c o m m a n d e r o f the Rio N e g r o , Don F r a n c i s c o Bovadilla, was stopped when, a c c o m p a n i e d b y his soldiers, he tried to penetrate b e y o n d the G e h e t t e ? * T h e carnage then made a m o n g the natives has rendered them more distrustful, and more averse t o the inhabitants o f the missions. I t m u s t b e r e m e m b e r e d that t h e O r i n o c o had hitherto offered t o g e o g r a p h e r s t w o distinct p r o b l e m s , alike important, the situation o f its sources, and the m o d e of its c o m m u n i c a t i o n with the A m a z o n . T h e latter p r o b l e m formed the o b j e c t o f t h e j o u r n e y which I have d e s c r i b e d ; with respect to the discovery o f its sources, that remains to b e done by the Spanish and P o r t u g u e s e g o v e r n m e n t s . O u r canoe was n o t ready t o receive us till near three o'clock in the afternoon. I t had been filled with i n n u * See p. 461.

2 H 2


468

GEOGRAPHICAL

ERRORS.

merable swarms of ants during the navigation o f the Cassiq u i a r e ; and the t o l d o , or r o o f of palm-leaves, beneath which w e were again d o o m e d to remain stretched o u t during twenty-two days, was with difficulty cleared of these insects. W e e m p l o y e d part o f the m o r n i n g in repeating t o t h e inhabitants of Esmeralda the questions we had already p u t t o t h e m , r e s p e c t i n g the existence o f a lake t o w a r d s t h e east. W e s h o w e d c o p i e s o f the maps o f Surville and L a C r u z to o l d soldiers, w h o had been posted in t h e mission ever since its first establishment. T h e y laughed at t h e supposed c o m m u n i c a t i o n o f the O r i n o c o with t h e R i o Idapa, and at the ‘ W h i t e Sea,’ which the former river was represented to cross. What we politely call geographical fictions they t e r m e d "lies o f the old w o r l d " (mentiras de p o r allĂ ). T h e s e g o o d people c o u l d n o t c o m p r e h e n d how m e n , in m a k i n g t h e m a p o f a country which they had never visited, could pretend to know things ill minute detail, o f which persons w h o lived on the spot were ignorant. T h e lake Parima, the Sierra M e y , and the springs which separate at t h e point where they issue from the earth, were entirely u n k n o w n at Esmeralda. W e were repeatedly assured that n o o n e h a d ever b e e n to t h e east of t h e R a n d a l o f t h e G u a h a r i b o s ; and that beyond that point, a c c o r d i n g t o t h e opinion of some of the natives, the Orinoco descends like a small torrent from a group o f mountains, inhabited by the C o r o t o Indians. f a t h e r Gili, w h o was living on the banks of t h e O r i n o c o w h e n t h e e x p e d i t i o n o f t h e b o u n d a r i e s arrived, says expressly, " t h a t Don Apollinario Diez was sent in 1765 to a t t e m p t the discovery of the source o f t h e O r i n o c o ; that he found the river, east of Esmeralda., full o f s h o a l s ; that he returned for want of p r o v i s i o n ; and that he learned nothing, absolutely nothing, of the existence o f a lake." This statement perfectly accords with what I heard myself thirty-five years later at Esmeralda. The probability of a fact is powerfully shaken when it can be proved t o b e totally u n k n o w n on the very spot where it o u g h t t o b e k n o w n best ; and when those by whom the existence o f the lake is affirmed contradict each other, not in the least essential circumstances, but in all that are the most important.


DISAPPEARANCE

OF

MOSQUITOS.

469

W h e n travellers j u d g e o n l y by their o w n sensations they differ from each other r e s p e c t i n g t h e a b u n d a n c e o f t h e m o s q u i t o s as they d o r e s p e c t i n g t h e progressive increase or diminution o f t h e temperature. T h e state o f o u r o r g a n s , the m o t i o n o f the air, its degree o f humidity o r dryness, i t s electric intensity, a t h o u s a n d c i r c u m s t a n c e s c o n t r i b u t e at o n c e t o make us suffer m o r e o r less from t h e heat and the insects. M y fellow travellers w e r e u n a n i m o u s l y o f o p i n i o n that Esmeralda was m o r e t o r m e n t e d b y m o s q u i t o s than the banks of the Cassiquiare, and even more than the t w o missions of the G r e a t C a t a r a c t s ; whilst I , less sensible than t h e y of the high t e m p e r a t u r e o f the air, t h o u g h t that t h e irritation p r o d u c e d b y the insects w a s s o m e w h a t less at Esmeralda than at t h e entrance o f t h e U p p e r O r i n o c o . O n hearing the complaints that a r c made o f these t o r m e n t i n g insects i n hot countries it is difficult t o believe that their absence, o r rather their sudden disappearance, could b e c o m e a subject of i n q u i e t u d e ; y e t such is t h e fact. T h e inhabitants o f Esmeralda related t o u s , that i n the y e a r 1 7 9 5 , an hour before sunset, when the m o s q u i t o s usually form a very thick cloud, the air was observed t o b e suddenly free from t h e m , During t h e space o f t w e n t y m i n u t e s , n o t o n e insect was perceived, a l t h o u g h t h e s k y w a s cloudless, a n d no w i n d announced rain. I t is necessary t o have lived i n t h o s e countries t o c o m p r e h e n d t h e d e g r e e o f surprise which the sudden disappearance o f t h e insects must have p r o d u c e d . T h e inhabitants congratulated each other, and inquired whether this state of happiness, this relief from pain (felicidad y a l i v i o ) , c o u l d b e of any duration. But soon, instead o f e n j o y i n g the present, they yielded t o chimerical fears, and imagined that the order o f nature was perverted. S o m e old Indians, t h e sages o f the place, asserted that t h e disappearance o f the insects must b e t h e p r e c u r s o r o f a great earthquake. W a r m discussions a r o s e ; t h e least noise amid the foliage o f the trees was listened t o with an attentive e a r ; and when the air was again tilled with m o s q u i t o s they were almost hailed with pleasure. W e could not guess what modification o f the atmosphere had caused this phenomenon, which m u s t n o t b e c o n f o u n d e d with the periodical replacing of o n e species of insects b y another.


470

VARIETIES

OF THE

JAGUAR.

A f t e r four h o u r s ' navigation d o w n the O r i n o c o w e arrived at the point o f the bifurcation. O u r resting place was o n the same beach o f the Cassiquiare, where a few days p r e viously o u r great d o g had, as w e believe, been carried off* by the jaguars. All the endeavours o f the Indians to disc o v e r any traces o f the animal were fruitless. T h e cries of the j a g u a r s were heard during the w h o l e n i g h t . * These animals are very frequent in the tracts situated b e t w e e n the Cerro Maraguaca, the Unturan, and the banks o f the Pamoni. T h e r e also is found that black species o f tiger† o f which I saw some fine skins at Esmeralda. This animal is celebrated for its strength and ferocity ; it appears to be still larger than the c o m m o n jaguar. T h e black spots are scarcely visible o n the dark-brown g r o u n d o f its skin. The I n d i a n s assert, that these tigers are very rare, that t h e y never mingle with the c o m m o n jaguars, and that they " f o r m another r a c e . " I believe that Prima; Maximilian o f N e u w i e d , w h o has enriched American z o o l o g y by so many important observations, acquired the same information farther to the s o u t h , in t h e h o t part o f Brazil. A l b i n o varieties o f the j a g u a r have been seen In Paraguay: for the spots o f these animals, which may be called the beautiful panthers of A m e r i c a , are sometimes so pale, as to be scarcely distinguishable on a very white g r o u n d . In the black j a g u a r s , o n the contrary, it is the c o l o u r o f the g r o u n d which renders the spots indistinct. It requires to reside long in those countries, and to accompany the Indians of Esmeralda in the perilous chace of the tiger, to decide with certainty u p o n the varieties and the species. In all the mammiferÌ, and particularly in the n u m e r o u s family o f the apes, we o u g h t , * This frequency of large jaguars is somewhat remarkable in a country destitute of cattle. The tigers of the Upper Orinoco are far less bountifully supplied with prey than those of the Pampas of Buenos Ayres and the Llanos of Caracas, which are covered with herds of cattle. More than four thousand jaguars are killed annually in the Spanish colonies, several of them equalling the mean size of the royal tiger of Asia. Two thousand skins of jaguars were formerly exported annually from Buenos Ayres alone. † Gmelin, in his ' Synonyma,' seems to confound this animal, under the name of Felis discolor, with the great American lion, (Felis concolor,) which is very different from the puma of the Andes of Quito.


DESOLATE APPEARANCE

OF THE

RIVER.

471

I believe, t o fix o u r attention less o n t h e transition from o n e c o l o u r t o another in individuals, than o n their habit o f separating themselves, and f o r m i n g distinct bands. W e left o u r resting place before sunrise o n the 21th o f May. I n a r o c k y c o v e , which had b e e n t h e dwelling o f some Durimundi Indians, the aromatic o d o u r o f the plants was so powerful, that although sleeping in the o p e n air, and the irritability o f o u r nervous system b e i n g allayed b y t h e habits of a lite o f fatigue, w e were nevertheless i n c o m m o d e d by it. W e c o u l d n o t ascertain the flowers which diffused this perfume. T h e forest was i m p e n e t r a b l e ; b u t M . B o n p l a n d believed that large c l u m p s o f pancratium and other liliaceous plants were concealed in the n e i g h b o u r i n g marshes. Descending the O r i n o c o by favour o f t h e current, w e passed first the m o u t h o f the R i o C u n u c u n u m o , and t h e n t h e G u a n a m i and the Puriname. T h e t w o banks o f t h e p r i n cipal river are entirely d e s e r t ; lofty mountains rise o n the north, and o n the south a vast plain extends far as the eye can reach b e y o n d t h e sources o f t h e A t a c a v i , which l o w e r d o w n takes the name o f the A t a b a p o . There is s o m e t h i n g g l o o m y and desolate in this aspect o f a river, o n which n o t oven a fisherman's canoe is seen. Some independant tribes, the A b i r i a n o s and the Maquiritares, dwell in the m o u n tainous c o u n t r y ; b u t in the n e i g h b o u r i n g savannahs,* b o u n ded b y the Cassiquiare, t h e A t a b a p o , the O r i n o c o , and the R i o N e g r o , there is n o w scarcely a n y trace o f a human habitation. I say n o w ; for here, as in o t h e r parts o f Guiana, rude figures representing the sun, the m o o n , and different animals, traced on the hardest rocks o f granite, attest t h e anterior e x i s t e n c e o f a p e o p l e , very different from those who became k n o w n to us on the banks o f the O r i n o c o . A c c o r d i n g to the a c c o u n t s o f the natives, and o f the m o s t intelligent missionaries, these s y m b o l i c signs resemble p e r fectly the characters we saw a hundred leagues more t o the north, near Caycara, opposite the mouth o f the Rio A p u r e . † I n advancing from the plains o f the Cassiquiare and the * They form a quadrilateral plot of a thousand square leagues, the opposite sides of which have contrary slopes, the Cassiquiare flowing towards the south, the Atabapo towards the north, the Orinoco towards the north-west, and the Rio Negro towards the south-east. †

See p. 183.


472

HIEROGLYPHIC

ROCK-MARKS.

C o n o r i c h i t e , o n e hundred and forty leagues further eastward, b e t w e e n the sources o f the R i o B l a n c o and the R i o E s s e q u i b o , we also meet with rocks and symbolical figures. I have lately verified this curious fact, which is recorded in the journal of the traveller Hortsman, who wont u p the Rupunuvini, o n e o f the tributary streams o f the Essequibo. Where this river, full o f small cascades, winds b e t w e e n the m o u n t a i n s o f M a c a r a n a , he f o u n d , before he reached lake Amucu " r o c k s c o v e r e d with f i g u r e s , " o r (as he says in Portuguese) with "varias letras." We must not take this w o r d letters in its real signification. W e were also shewn, near the rock Culimacari, on the banks o f the Cassiquiare, and at the port of Caycara in the Lower O r i n o c o , traces which were believed to be regular characters. T h e y were however only misshapen figures, representing the heavenly bodies, together with tigers, crocodiles, boas, and instruments used for making the flour of cassava. I t was i m p o s sible t o recognize in these ‘ painted rocks'* (the name b y which the natives denote those masses loaded with figures) any symmetrical arrangement, or characters with regular spaces. The traces discovered in the mountains o f Uruana, by the missionary Fray Ramon Bueno, approach nearer t o alphabetical writing; but are nevertheless very doubtful. Whatever may be the meaning of these figures, and with whatever view they were traced upon granite, t h e y merit the examination of t h o s e who direct their a t t e n t i o n t o the philosophic history of our species, In travelling from the coast of Caracas towards the equator, we are at first led t o believe that monuments of this kind are peculiar t o the mountain-chain of Encaramada ; they are found at the port o f Sedeño, near Caycara,† at San Rafael del C a p u c h i n o , opposite Cabruta, and in almost, every place where the granitic rock pierces the soil, in the savannah which extends from the Cerro Curiquima towards the banks o f the Caura. • In Tamanac, tepumereme. (Tepu, a stone, rock ; as in Mexican, tetl, a stone, and tepetl, a mountain ; in Turco-Tatarian, tepe.) The Spanish Americans also call the rock covered with sculptured figures, piedras pintadas . those for instance, which are found on the summit of theParimo of Guanacas, in New Grenada, and which recall to mind the tepumereme of the Orinoco, the Cassiquiare, and the Rupunuvini. † In the Mountains of the Tyrant, ( C e r r o s del Tirano.)


NATIVE LEGENDS OF A DELUGE.

473

T h e nations o f the T a m a n a c race, the ancient inhabitants o f those countries, have a local m y t h o l o g y , and traditions c o n n e c t e d with these sculptured r o c k s . Amalivaca, the lather o f the Tamanacs, that is, t h e creator o f the human race ( f o r every nation regards itself as the r o o t o f all other n a t i o n s ) , arrived in a bark, at the time o f the great inundation, which is called 'the age o f w a t e r , ' * w h e n the billows of the ocean broke; against the mountains o f Encamarada in the interior o f t h e land. A l l mankind, or, t o speak m o r e correctly, all the Tamanacs, were d r o w n e d , with the exception of one man and one w o m a n , w h o saved themselves o n a f o u n t a i n near the banks o f the A s i v e r u , called Cuchivero by the Spaniards. This mountain is the Ararat o f the Aramean o r Semitic nations, and t h e Tlaloc o r Colhuacan o f the M e x i c a n s . Amalivaca, sailing in his bark, engraved the figures o f the m o o n and the sun o n the Painted R o c k (Tepumereme) o f Encaramada. S o m e blocks o f granite piled upon one another, and f o r m i n g a kind o f cavern, are still called the house or dwelling o f the great forefather o f the Tamanacs. The natives show also a large stone near this cavern, in the plains o f Maita, which they say was an instrument, of music, the d r u m o f Amalivaca. We m u s t here observe, that this heroic personage had a brother, Vochi, who helped him to give the surface o f the earth its in their form the Tamanacs relate, that the t w o b r o t h e r s , in their system o f perfectibility, s o u g h t , at first, t o arrange the O r i n o c o in such a manner, that the current o f the water could always be followed either g o i n g d o w n or g o i n g up the river. T h e y h o p e d b y this means t o spare men t r o u b l e in navigating rivers; but, however great the p o w e r o f these g e n e r a t o r s of the world, they c o u l d never contrive t o give a double slope to the O r i n o c o , and w e n ; c o m p e l l e d t o relinquish this singular plan. Amalivaca had daughters, who had a decided taste f o r travelling. The tradition their doubtless with a figurative meaning, that he b r o k e their legs to render them sedentary, and force t h e m t o people the land of the Tamanacs. A f t e r having regulated everything in America, on that side o f the ' g r e a t water,' Amalivaca again embarked, and " r e t u r n e d to the o t h e r † The Atonatiuh tion of the world.

of the Mexicans, the fourth age, the fourth regenera-


474

IDEAS OF A

DIVINITY.

s h o r e , " to the same place from w h e n c e ho c a m e . Since the natives have seen the missionaries arrive, they imagine, that E u r o p e is this ‘other s h o r e ; ’ and o n e o f them inquired with great simplicity, o f Father Gili, whether ho had there seen the great, Amalivaca, t h e father o f the Tamanacs, w h o had covered the rocks with s y m b o l i c figures. These notions of a great convulsion of nature; of t w o human b e i n g s saved o n the s u m m i t o f a m o u n t a i n , and casting b e h i n d them the fruits of the mauritia palm-tree, t o repeople t h e e a r t h ; of that national divinity, Amalivaca, w h o arrived by water from a distant land, who prescribed laws t o nature, and f o r c e d the nations t o r e n o u n c e their migrations ; these various features o f a very ancient system o f belief, are well worthy of attention. W h a t the T a m a n a c s , and the tribes whose languages are analogous to t h e T a m a n a c t o n g u e , n o w relate t o u s , t h e y have n o d o u b t learned from other people, w h o inhabited before them the s o m e regions. T h e name o f Amalivaca is spread over a region of more than live thousand square l e a g u e s ; he is found designated as ' the father of mankind,' o r 'our great grandfather,' as far as to the Caribbee nations, whose idiom approaches the Tamanac only in the same degree as t h e G e r m a n approaches the G r e e k , the Persian, and the Sanscrit. Amalivaca is not originally the Great Spirit, the Aged of Heaven, the invisible being, whose worship springs from that of the powers of nature, when nations rise insensibly to the consciousness o f the unity of these powers ; he is rather a personage of the heroic times, a man, who, coming from afar, lived in the land o f the Tamanacs and the Caribs, sculptured s y m b o l i c figures upon the rocks, and disappeared b y g o i n g back to the c o u n t r y he had previously inhabited b e y o n d the ocean. T h e a n t h r o p o m o r p h i s m of the divinity has two sources diametrically o p p o s i t e ; and this o p p o s i t i o n seems to arise less from the various degrees of intellectual culture, than from the different dispositions of nations, some of which are more inclined to mysticism, and others more governed by the senses, and by external impressions. S o m e t i m e s man makes the divinities descend upon earth, charging them with the care of ruling nations, and giving them laws, as in the fables o f the East ; s o m e t i m e s , as a m o n g the G r e e k s and other nations of the W e s t , they are


REGION OF SCULPTURED ROCKS.

475

the first m o n a r c h s , priest-kings, w h o are stripped o f what is human in their nature, t o b e raised t o t h e rank o f national w a s a stranger, like M a n c o - C a p a c , divinities. Amalivaca B o c h i c a , a n d Q u e t z a l e o h u a t l ; t h o s e extraordinary m e n , w h o , in the alpine o r civilized part o f A m e r i c a , o n the t a b l e lands o f P e r u , N e w G r e n a d a , and A n a h u a c , organized civil society, regulated t h e order o f sacrifices, and f o u n d e d relig i o u s c o n g r e g a t i o n s . T h e M e x i c a n Quetzaleohuatl, w h o s e descendants M o n t e z u m a * t h o u g h t h e r e c o g n i z e d in t h e companions of C o r t e z , displays an additional resemblance to Amalivaca, t h e m y t h o l o g i c personage o f savage A m e r i c a or the plains o f t h e torrid z o n e . W h e n advanced i n age, t h e high-priest o f T u l a left t h e c o u n t r y o f A n a h u a c , which h e had filled with his miracles, t o return t o an u n k n o w n r e g i o n , called Tlalpallan. W h e n t h e m o n k B e r n a r d d e Sahagun arrived in M e x i c o , the same questions w e r e p u t t o him, as those which were addressed t o Father Gili t w o h u n d r e d years later, in t h e forests o f t h e O r i n o c o ; he was asked, w h e t h e r h e c a m e from ‘the o t h e r shore’ ( d e l o t r o l a d o ) , f r o m the countries t o which Quetzalcohuatl had retired. T h e r e g i o n o f sculptured rocks, o r o f painted stones, e x t e n d s far b e y o n d t h e L o w e r O r i n o c o , b e y o n d t h e c o u n t r y (latitude 7° 5' t o 7° 40', l o n g i t u d e 68° 30' t o 69° 4 5 ' ) to w h i c h b e l o n g s what may b e called the ‘ local fables’ o f t h e Tamanacs. W e again find these same sculptured r o c k s b e t w e e n t h e Cassiquiare a n d t h e A t a b a p o ( l a t . 2 ° 5' t o 3° 2 0 ' ; long. 69° t o 7 0 ° ) ; a n d b e t w e e n t h e sources o f t h e E s s e q u i b o and t h e Rio B r a n c o (lat. 3° 5 0 ' ; l o n g . 62° 3 2 ' ) . I do not assort that those figures p r o v e t h e k n o w l e d g e o f t h e use o f iron, o r that t h e y d e n o t e a very advanced d e g r e e o f c u l t u r e ; b u t even o n t h e supposition that, instead o f b e i n g symbolical, they are t h e fruits o f t h e idleness o f h u n t i n g nations, w e m u s t still admit an anterior race o f m e n , very different from those w h o n o w inhabit t h e b a n k s o f t h e Orinoco a n d t h e R u p u n u r i . The more a country is destitute o f r e m e m b r a n c e s o f generations that are e x t i n c t t h e m o r e i m p o r t a n t it b e c o m e s t o follow t h e least traces o f what appears t o b e m o n u m e n t a l . T h e eastern plains of N o r t h A m e r i c a display o n l y those extraordinary c i r c u m * The second king of this name, o f the race o f Acamapitzin, properly called Montezuma-Ilhuicamina.


476

MISSION o r

SANTA BARBARA.

violations, that remind us o f the fortified camps ( t h e p r e t e n d e d cities o f vast e x t e n t ) o f the ancient and m o d e r n n o m a d tribes o f Asia. In the oriental plains o f South A m e r i c a , the force o f vegetation, the heat o f the climate, and the t o o lavish gifts o f nature, have opposed obstacles still more powerful to the progress o f human civilization. B e t w e e n the O r i n o c o and the A m a z o n I heard no mention o f any wall o f earth, vestige o f a d y k e , o r sepulchral t u m u l u s ; the rocks alone show us (and this through a great extent o f c o u n t r y ) , rude sketches which the hand o f man has traced in times u n k n o w n , and which are c o n n e c t e d with religious traditions. B e f o r e I quitted t h e wildest part o f t h e U p p e r O r i n o c o , I t h o u g h t it desirable t o m e n t i o n facts which are i m p o r tant only when they are considered in their c o n n e c t i o n with each other. All I c o u l d relate o f o u r navigation from Esmeralda to the mouth o f the Atabapo would be merely an enumeration o f rivers and uninhabited places. From the 24th t o the 27th o f M a y , w e slept b u t t w i c e o n l a n d ; o u r first resting-place was at the confluence o f the Rio J a o , and o u r second below the mission o f Santa Barbara, in the island o f Minisi. T h e O r i n o c o being free from shoals, the Indian pilot pursued his course all night, abandoning the boat t o t h e c u r r e n t o f t h e river. S e t t i n g apart the time which we spent on the shore in preparing the rice and plantains that served us for food, we took but thirtyfive hours in going from Esmeralda to Santa Barbara. The c h r o n o m e t e r gave me for the longitude o f the latter mission 7 0 째 3 ' ; we had therefore made near four miles an hour, a velocity which was partly o w i n g to the current, and partly to the action o f the oars. T h e Indians assert, that the c r o codiles do not g o up the O r i n o c o above the mouth o f the Rio Jao, and that the manatis are not even found above the cataract o f May puros. T h e mission o f Santa Barbara is situated a little to the west o f the mouth o f the Rio Ventuari, or Venituari, e x a mined in 1800 by Father Francisco Valor. W e found in this small village o f o n e hundred and twenty inhabitants some traces o f i n d u s t r y ; but the p r o d u c e o f this industry is o f little profit to the n a t i v e s ; it, is reserved for the m o n k s , o r , as they say in these countries, for the church and the c o n -


MANUFACTURING

TRIBES.

477

vent. W e w e r e assured that a great lamp o f massive silver, purchased at the e x p e n s e o f t h e n e o p h y t e s , is e x p e c t e d from Madrid. Let us hope that, after the arrival o f this treasure, they will think also o f c l o t h i n g the I n d i a n s , o f p r o c u r i n g for them s o m e instruments of agriculture, and assembling their children in a school. A l t h o u g h there are a few oxen in t h e savannahs round the mission, they are rarely e m p l o y e d in turning the mill ( t r a p i c h e ) , t o express the j u i c e o f the s u g a r - c a n e ; this is the occupation of the Indians, w h o w o r k without pay here as they d o everywhere when they are u n d e r stood t o work for the c h u r c h . T h e pasturages at t h e foot of the mountains r o u n d Santa Barbara are n o t so rich as at Esmeralda, but superior to those at San Fernando de A t a bapo. T h e grass is short and t h i c k , y e t the upper stratum of earth furnishes only a dry and parched granitic sand, t h e savannahs (far from fertile) of t h e banks o f the G u a viare, the M e t a , and the U p p e r O r i n o c o , arc equally destitute of the mould which a b o u n d s in the surrounding forests, and of the thick stratum o f (day, which covers the sandstone of the Llanos, o r steppes of Venezuela. T h e small herbaceous mimosas c o n t r i b u t e in this zone to fatten the cattle, but are very rare between the Rio Jao and the m o u t h o f the Guaviare. D u r i n g the few h o u r s o f o u r stay at the mission o f Santa Barbara, we obtained pretty accurate ideas respecting the Rio Ventuari, which, next to the Guaviare, appeared to me to be t h e m o s t considerable tributary o f t h e O r i n o c o . Its banks, heretofore o c c u p i e d b y the M a y p u r e s , are still p e o pled by a great n u m b e r o f independent nations. On going up b y the m o u t h o f t h e V e n t u a r i , which forms a delta covered with palm-trees, you find in the east, after three days' j o u r n e y , the Cumaruita and the Paru, t w o streams that rise at t h e f o o t o f t h e l o f t y m o u n t a i n s o f C u n e v a . h i g h e r up, on the. west, lie the Mariata and the Manipiare, inhabited by the Macos and Curacicanas. The latter nation is remarkable for their active cultivation o f c o t t o n . In a hostile incursion (entrada) a large house was found c o n t a i n ing more than thirty or forty hammocks o f a very fine t e x ture of s p u n cotton cordage. and fishing implements. The natives had fled; and Father Valor informed us, that t h e Indians of the mission who accompanied him had sot fire t o


478

ROUTES OF THE SLAVE

TRADERS.

the house before he could save these p r o d u c t i o n s o f the industry o f the Curacicanas. T h e neophytes o f Santa Barbara, who think themselves very superior to these supposed savages, appeared t o m e far less industrious. T h e Rio M a nipiare, o n e o f the principal branches o f the V e n t u a r i , a p proaches near its source those lofty mountains, the northern ridge o f which gives birth t o the C u c h i v e r o . It is a p r o longation o f the chain o f Baraguan ; and there f a t h e r Gili places the table-land o f Siamacu, o f which he vaunts t h e temperate climate. T h e upper course o f the R i o Ventuari, b e y o n d the confluence o f the Asisi, and the Great Raudales, is almost u n k n o w n . I was informed only, that the U p p e r V e n t u a r i bends so much towards the east that the ancient r o a d from Esmeralda to the R i o Caura crosses t h e b e d o f t h e river. T h e proximity of the tributary streams of the C a r o n y , t h e Caura, and the V e n t u a r i , has facilitated for ages the access o f the Caribs t o the banks o f the U p p e r O r i n o c o . B a n d s o f this warlike and trading people w e n t up from the R i o C a r o n y , b y the Taragua, to the sources o f the Taruspa. A portage c o n d u c t e d them t o the Chavarro, an eastern tributary stream o f the R i o C a u r a ; they descended with t h e i r canoes first this stream, and then the Caura itself, as far as the m o u t h o f the Erevato. A f t e r having g o n e up this last river south-west, and traversed vast savannahs for three days, they entered b y the Manipiare into the great R i o Ventuari. I trace this road with precision, n o t o n l y b e cause it was that by which the traffic o f native slaves was carried o n , but also to call the attention of those, w h o at s o m e future day may rule the destiny of Guiana, to the high importance of this labyrinth o f rivers. I t is b y t h e four largest tributary streams, which the majestic river o f t h e O r i n o c o receives o n the right, ( t h e C a r o n y , the Caura, the Padamo, and the Ventuari,) that E u r o p e a n civilization will o n e day penetrate into this r e g i o n o f forests and mountains, which has a surface of ten thousand six hundred square leagues, and which is bounded by the O r i n o c o on the north, the west, and the south. The Capuchins o f Catalonia and the Observantins of Andalusia and Valencia, have already made settlements in the vallies o f the Carony and the Caura. T h e tributary streams of the L o w e r O r i n o c o , b e i n g the nearest to the coast and to the


SAN

FERNANDO DE ATABAPO.

479

cultivated region o f V e n e z u e l a , w e r e naturally t h e first t o receive missionaries, a n d with t h e m s o m e g e r m s o f social life. C o r r e s p o n d i n g t o t h e C a r o n y a n d t h e Caura, w h i c h flow t o w a r d the n o r t h , are t w o great tributary streams o f the U p p e r O r i n o c o , that send their waters toward t h e south ; these are the P a d a m o and t h e V e n t u a r i . N o village has hitherto risen o n their banks, t h o u g h t h e y offer advantages f o r agriculture and pasturage, which w o u l d b e s o u g h t in vain in the valley o f t h e i m m e n s e river to which they are tributary. In t h e c e n t r e o f these wild c o u n t r i e s , w h e r e there will l o n g b e n o other road than t h e rivers, every p r o j e c t o f civilization should b e f o u n d e d o n an intimate k n o w ledge o f t h e hydraulic features o f t h e c o u n t r y , a n d t h e relative importance o f t h e tributary streams. I n the m o r n i n g o f t h e 2 6 t h o f M a y w e left t h e little village o f Santa Barbara, where w e f o u n d several Indians o f Esmeralda, w h o had c o m e reluctantly, b y order o f t h e missionary, t o c o n s t r u c t f o r h i m a house o f t w o stories. D u r i n g t h e w h o l e d a y w e e n j o y e d t h e view o f t h e fine Mountains o f Sipapo, which rise at a distance of more than eighteen leagues in the direction o f north-north-west. T h e vegetation o f the banks o f t h e O r i n o c o is singularly varied in this part o f t h e c o u n t r y ; t h e aborescent f e r n s * descend from the m o u n t a i n s , and m i n g l e with t h e palm-trees o f t h e plain. W e rested that n i g h t o n t h e island o f M i n i s i ; a n d , after having passed the m o u t h s o f t h e little rivers Q u e j a numa, U b u a , a n d M a s a o , w e arrived, o n t h e 27th o f M a y , a t San F e r n a n d o d e A t a b a p o . We l o d g e d in the same h o u s e which we had o c c u p i e d a m o n t h previously, w h e n g o i n g u p the R i o N e g r o . W e t h e n directed o u r c o u r s e t o w a r d s the south, b y t h e A t a b a p o a n d t h e T e m i ; w e w e r e n o w returning from the west, having made a l o n g circuit b y t h e Cassiquiare and the U p p e r O r i n o c o . We remained only o n e day at San F e r n a n d o d e A t a b a p o , although that village, adorned as it was b y t h e pirijao palmtree, with fruit like peaches, appeared t o u s a delicious * The geographical distribution of these plants is extremely singular. Scarcely any are found on the eastern coast of Brazil. (See the interesting work of Prince Maximilian of Neuwied, " Reise nach Brasilien," vol. i P- 274.)


480

THE CAPARRO MONKEY.

a b o d e . T a m e pauxis * surrounded the Indian h u t s ; in o n e o f which w e saw a very rare m o n k e y , which inhabits the banks of the Guaviare. This m o n k e y is the caparro, which I have made known in my " Observations on Z o o l o g y and comparative A n a t o m y ; " it forms, as Geoffrey believes, a new g e n u s ( Lagothrix ) between the ateles and the alouates. T h e hair o f this m o n k e y is g r e y , like that of the marten, and extremely soft to t h e t o u c h . T h e caparro is distinguished by a round head, and a mild and agreeable expression of c o u n t e n a n c e . I believe the missionary Gili is the only author w h o has made mention before me o f this curious animal, around which zoologists begin t o g r o u p other monkeys of Brazil. Having quitted San Fernando on the 27th of May, we arrived, by help of the rapid current o f the O r i n o c o , in seven hours, at the m o u t h o f the R i o Mataveni. W e passed the night in the open air, under the granitic rock El Castillito, which rises in the middle o f the river, and the form of which reminded us of the ruin called the M o u s e - t o w e r ( M a u s e t h u r m ) , on the Rhine, o p p o s i t e Bingen. H e r e , as on the banks of the A t a b a p o , we were struck b y the sight o f a small species of drosera, having exactly the appearance of the drosera of E u r o p e . T h e O r i n o c o had sensibly swelled during the n i g h t ; and the current, strongly accelerated, bore us, in ten hours, from the mouth of the Mataveni to the Upper Great Cataract, that of M a y p u r e s , o r Q u i t u n a . T h e distance which we passed over was thirteen leagues. W e recalled to mind, with much satisfaction, the scenes where we had reposed in g o i n g up the river. W e again found the Indians w h o had accompanied us in our h e r b o r i z a t i o n s ; and we visited anew the fine spring that issues from a rock o f stratified granite behind the house of the m i s s i o n a r y : its temperature was not changed more than 0.3째 From the m o u t h of t h e A t a b a p o as far as that of t h e A p u r e we s e e m e d t o b e travelling as through a c o u n t r y which we had long inhabited. W e were reduced to the same abstinence ; we were stung by the same m o s q u i t o s ; b u t the certainty o f reaching in a few weeks the term of o u r physical sufferings kept up our spirits. * Not the ourax of Cuvier (Crax pauxi, Linn,), but the Crax alector.


THE INDIA'S

481

ZEREPE.

T h e passage o f the c a n o e t h r o u g h the G r e a t Cataract Obliged us t o stop t w o days at M a y p u r e s . Father B e r n a r d o Z e a , missionary at the Raudales, who had accompanied us t o t h e R i o N e g r o , t h o u g h ill, insisted o n c o n d u c t i n g u s with his I n d i a n s as far as A t u r e s . O n e o f these Indians, Z e r e p e , the interpreter, w h o had been so unmercifully punished at t h e beach o f Pararuma, rivetted o u r a t t e n t i o n b y his a p pearance o f deep sorrow. W e learned that his grief was caused b y the loss o f a y o u n g girl t o w h o m he was e n g a g e d , and that he had lost her in c o n s e q u e n c e o f false intellig e n c e which had b e e n spread respecting the direction o f o u r journey. Z e r e p e , w h o was a native of Maypures. had been brought up in the w o o d s by his parents, w h o were o f the tribe o f the M a c o s . He had b r o u g h t with him t o t h e mission a girl o f twelve years o f age, w h o m he intended t o marry at o u r return from the Cataracts. T h e I n d i a n girl was little pleased with the life of the missions, and she was told that the whites w o u l d g o t o t h e c o u n t r y o f the P o r t u g u e s e ( B r a z i l ) , and would take Z e r e p e with them. Disappointed in her hopes, she seized a boat, and with another girl o f her o w n age, crossed the G r e a t Cataract, and fled al monte. T h e recital o f this c o u r a g e o u s adventure was t h e great n e w s o f t h e place. T h e affliction o f Z e r e p e , however, was n o t o f l o n g duration. B o r n a m o n g the Christians, having travelled as far as the foot o f the R i o N e g r o , u n d e r standing Spanish and the language of the Macos, he t h o u g h t himself superior to the people o f his tribe, and he no d o u b t soon forgot his forest l o v e . O n the 3 1 s t o f M a y we passed the rapids o f Guahibos and G a r c i t a . The islands which rise in the middle o f the waters of the river, were overspread with the purest verdure. T h e rains o f winter had unfolded the spathes o f the vadgiai palm-tree, the leaves o f which rise straight toward the sky. T h e eye is never wearied o f the view o f those scenes, where the trees and rocks give the landscape that grand and severe character which we admire in the b a c k g r o u n d of the p i c tures o f Salvator Rosa. W e landed before sunset on the eastern hank o f the O r i n o c o , at the Puerto de la Expedicion, in o r d e r to visit the cavern o f A t a r u i p e , which is t h e place o f sepulchre o f a whole nation destroyed. I shall a t t e m p t t o describe this cavern, so celebrated a m o n g the natives. VOL. I I .

2 I


482

THE CAVERN OF ATARUIPE.

W e climbed with difficulty, and n o t w i t h o u t s o m e danger, a steep rock of granite, entirely bare. It would have been almost impossible to fix the foot on its smooth and sloping surface, if large crystals o f feldspar, resisting d e c o m p o s i t i o n , did n o t stand o u t from the r o c k , and furnish points o f s u p p o r t . Scarcely had we attained the s u m m i t o f the m o u n tain w h e n w e beheld with astonishment the singular aspect o f the surrounding c o u n t r y . T h e foamy bed o f the waters is filled with an archipelago o f islands covered with p a l m trees. W e s t w a r d , on the left bank o f the O r i n o c o , t h e wide-stretching savannahs o f the Meta and the Casanaro resembled a sea o f verdure. T h e setting sun seemed like a g l o b e o f fire suspended over the plain, and the solitary Peak o f Uniana, which appeared more lofty from being wrapped in vapours which softened its outline, all c o n t r i b u t e d t o a u g m e n t the majesty o f the s c e n e . I m m e d i a t e l y b e l o w us lay a deep valley, enclosed on every side. Birds o f prey and goatsuckers winged their lonely flight in this inaccessible circus. W e found a pleasure in following with the eye their fleeting shadows, as they glided slowly over the flanks o f the r o c k . A narrow ridge led us to a n e i g h b o u r i n g mountain, the rounded summit o f which supported immense blocks o f granite. T h e s e masses are m o r e than forty o r fifty feet in d i a m e t e r ; and their form is so perfectly spherical, that, as they appear to touch the soil only by a small n u m b e r o f p o i n t s , it might be supposed, at the least shock o f an earthquake, they w o u l d roll into the abyss. I d o n o t r e m e m b e r t o have seen any where else a similar p h e n o m e n o n , amid the d e c o m p o s i t i o n s o f granitic soils. If the balls rested on a r o c k o f a different nature, as in the blocks o f d u r a , w e might suppose that they had been rounded by the action o f water, or thrown out by the force o f an clastic f l u i d ; b u t their posit ion on the s u m m i t o f a hill alike granitic makes if more probable that they owe their origin to the progressive d e c o m p o s i t i o n o f the rock. T h e most remote part o f the valley is covered b y a thick forest. In this shady and solitary spot, on the declivity o f a steep mountain, the cavern o f Ataruipe o p e n s to the view. It is less a cavern than a j u t t i n g rock, in which the waters h a w scooped a vast hollow when, in the ancient revolutions


I N T E R I O R OF T H E C A V E R N .

483

of our planet, they attained that height.* In this tomb of a whole extinct tribe we soon counted nearly six hundred skeletons well preserved, and regularly placed. Every skeleton reposes in a sort of basket made of the petioles of the palm-tree. These baskets, which the natives call mapires, have the form of a square bag. Their size is proportioned to the age of the dead; there are some for infants cut off at the moment of their birth. W e saw them from ten inches to three feet four inches long, the skeletons in them being bent together. They are all ranged near each other, and are so entire that not a rib or a phalanx is Wanting. The hones have been prepared in three different manners, either whitened in the air and the sun, dyed red with anoto, or, like mummies, varnished with odoriferous resins, and enveloped in leaves of the heliconia or of the plantain-tree. The Indians informed us that the fresh corpse is placed in damp ground, that the flesh may be consumed by degrees; some months afterwards it is taken out, and the flesh remaining on the bones is scraped off with sharp stones. Several hordes in Guiana still observe this custom. Earthen vases half-baked are found near the mapires or baskets. They appear to contain the bones of the same family. The largest of these vases, or funeral urns, are live feet high, and three; feet three inches long. Their colour is greenish-grey, and their oval form is pleasing to the eye. The handles are made in the shape of crocodiles or serpents; the edges are bordered with painted meanders, labyrinths, and grecques, in rows variously combined. Such designs are found in every zone among nations the farthest removed from each other, either with respect to their respective positions on the globe, or to the degree of civilization which they have attained. They still adorn the common pottery made by the inhabitants of the little mission of Maypures; they ornament the bucklers of the Otaheitans, the fishing-implements of the Esquimaux, * I saw no vein, no hole (four) filled with crystals. The decomposition of granitic rocks, and their separation into large masses, dispersed in the plains and valleys in the form of blocks and balls with concentric layers, appear to favour the enlarging of these natural excavations, which resemble real caverns.

2 I 2


484

ITS

SUPPOSED

ANTIQUITY.

the walls o f the M e x i c a n palace o f Mitha, and the vases o f ancient Greece. W e could not acquire any precise idea o f the period t o which t h e origin o f the mapires and t h e painted vases, contained in the hone-cavern o f A t a r u i p e , c a n b e traced. T h e greater part seemed n o t t o b e m o r e than a c e n t u r y old: hut it may b e s u p p o s e d that, sheltered from all humidity under the influence o f a uniform temperature, the preservation of these articles would he no less perfect A if their origin dated from a period far more remote. tradition circulates a m o n g the Guahibos, that the warlike A t u r e s , pursued by the Caribs, escaped to the rocks that rise in the middle o f t h e Great C a t a r a c t s ; and there that nation, heretofore so n u m e r o u s , became gradually extinct, as well as its language. T h e last families o f the Atures still existed in 1 7 6 7 , in t h e time o f t h e missionary Gili. A t the period of o u r voyage an old parrot was shown at M a y p u r e s , of which the inhabitants said, and the fact is w o r t h y o f observation, that " t h e y did n o t understand what it said, because it spoke the language o f the Atures." W e opened, to the great concern o f o u r guides, several mapires, for the purpose o f examining attentively t h e f o r m o f the skulls. They were all marked by the characteristics of the American race, with the exception o f two or three, which approached indubitably t o the Caucasian. In the middle o f t h e Cataracts, in t h e m o s t inaccessible spots, cases are found strengthened with iron bands, and tilled with European tools, vestiges o f clothes, and glass trinkets. These articles . which have given rise to the most absurd reports of treasures hidden by the Jesuits, probably belonged to Portuguese traders who had penetrated into these savage countries. May we suppose that the skulls of European race, which we saw mingled with the skeletons o f the natives, and preserved with the same care, were the remains o f some Portuguese travellers w h o had died o f sickness, or had been killed in battle ? T h e aversion evinced by the natives for whatever is not o f their o w n race renders this hypothesis little probable. Perhaps fugitive mestizos o f the missions o f the Meta and A p u r e may have c o m e and settled near t h e Cataracts, marrying


CRANIAL CONFORMATIONS.

485

w o m e n o f t h e tribe o f t h e A t u r e s . Such mixed marriages sometimes take place in this z o n e , though they are m o r e rare than in Canada, and in t h e whole o f N o r t h A m e r i c a , w h e r e hunters of E u r o p e a n origin unite themselves with savages, assume their habits, and sometimes acquire great

political influence. W e t o o k several skulls, t h e skeleton o f a child o f six o r seven years o l d , and t w o of full-grown m e n of t h e nation o f t h e A t u r e s , from t h e cavern of A t a r u i p e . A l l these b o n e s , partly painted red, partly varnished with odoriferous resins, were placed in the baskets (mapires or canastos) which we have j u s t described. T h e y made almost the whole load o f a m u l e ; and as we knew the superstitious feelings o f t h e Indians in reference t o the remains o f t h e dead after burial, w e carefully enveloped the canastos in mats recently w o v e n . U n f o r t u n a t e l y for us, the penetration o f the I n d i a n s , and the extreme quickness o f their sense o f smelling, rendered all o u r precautions useless. W h e r e v e r w e stopped, in t h e missions o f the Caribbees, amid t h e L l a n o s , b e t w e e n A n gostura and N u e v a Barcelona, t h e natives assembled r o u n d o u r mules t o admire t h e m o n k e y s which w e had purchased at t h e O r i n o c o . T h e s e g o o d people had scarcely t o u c h e d o u r baggage, when they announced the approaching death o f the beast o f b u r d e n " t h a t carried t h e d e a d . " I n vain w e told t h e m that they were deceived in their conjectures ; and that the baskets contained the b o n e s o f crocodiles and m a n a t i s ; they persisted in repeating that they smelt the resin that surrounded t h e skeletons, a n d " that they were their old relations." W e were o b l i g e d t o request that t h e m o n k s would interpose their authority, to overcome the aversion o f t h e natives, a n d p r o c u r e f o r u s a change o f mules. O n e o f the skulls, which w e t o o k from t h e cavern o f A t a r u i p e , has appeared in t h e fine w o r k published b y m y old master, Blumenbach, o n the varieties o f the human species. T h e skeletons o f t h e I n d i a n s were lost on the coast o f Africa, together with a considerable part o f o u r collections, in a shipwreck, in which perished o u r friend and fellow-traveller, Fray Juan Gonzales, the y o u n g monk o f the order o f Saint Francis. W e withdrew in silence from t h e cavern o f A t a r u i p e .


486

ANTIQUITY

OF

RACES.

I t was o n e o f those calm and serene n i g h t s which are so c o m m o n in t h e torrid zone. T h e stars shone with a mild and planetary light. T h e i r scintillation was scarcely sensible at the horizon, which seemed illumined b y the great nebulĂŚ o f the southern hemisphere. A n innumerable multitude o f insects spread a reddish light upon the g r o u n d , loaded with plants, and resplendent w i t h these living a n d m o v i n g fires, as if t h e stars of the firmament had sunk down on the savannah. On quitting the cavern we stopped several times t o admire the beauty o f this singular scene. T h e odoriferous vanilla and festoons o f bignonia decorated the e n t r a n c e ; and above, o n the summit o f the hill, the arrowy branches o f the palm-trees waved m u r m u r i n g in t h e air. We descended towards the river, to take the road t o the mission, where we arrived late in the night. O u r imagination was struck b y all we had j u s t seen. O c c u p i e d continually b y the present, in a c o u n t r y where the traveller is tempted to regard human society as a new institution, he is more powerfully interested by r e m e m brances o f times past. T h e s e remembrances w e r e n o t i n d e e d o f a distant d a t e ; b u t in all that is m o n u m e n t a l antiquity is a relative idea, and we easily c o n f o u n d what is ancient with what is obscure and problematic. The Egyptians considered the historical remembrances o f the G r e e k s as very recent. I f the Chinese, or, as they prefer calling themselves, the inhabitants o f the Celestial Empire, could have communicated with the priests o f Heliopolis, they would have smiled at those pretensions o f the E g y p tians to antiquity. Contrasts not less striking are f o u n d in the north of Europe and of Asia, In the New W o r l d , and in every region where the human race has n o t p r e served a l o n g consciousness of itself. T h e m i g r a t i o n of the T o l t e c s , the most ancient historical event on the tableland o f M e x i c o , dates only ill the sixth c e n t u r y o f o u r era. T h e introduction o f a good system o f intercalation, and the reform o f the calendars, the indispensable basis o f an accurate c h r o n o l o g y , took place in the year 1091. T h e s e e p o c h s , which to us appear so modern, fall on fabulous times, when we reflect on the history o f o u r species between the banks o f the O r i n o c o and the A m a z o n . We there see symbolic figures sculptured o n the r o c k s , b u t n o tradition


DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD.

487

t h r o w s light u p o n their origin. I n t h e h o t part o f G u i a n a w e can g o back o n l y t o the p e r i o d w h e n the Castilian a n d P o r t u g u e s e conquerors, and m o r e recently peaceful m o n k s , penetrated amid so m a n y barbarous nations. I t appears, that, t o the n o r t h o f the Cataracts, in the strait o f Baraguan, there are caverns filled with b o n e s , similar t o those I have j u s t described: b u t I was informed o f this fact only after my return; our Indian pilots did n o t mention it when we landed at the strait. T h e s e t o m b s n o d o u b t have given rise to a fable o f the O t t o m a c s , a c c o r d i n g to which the granitic and solitary r o c k s o f Baraguan, t h e forms o f which are very singular, arc regarded as the ‘ g r a n d fathers,' t h e ‘ ancient chiefs' o f the tribe. T h e c u s t o m o f separating the flesh from the hones, very anciently practised b y the M a s s a g e t e s , is still k n o w n a m o n g several hordes o f the O r i n o c o . I t is even asserted, and with some probability, that the G u a r a o n s p l u n g e their dead bodies u n d e r water enveloped in n e t s ; and, that the small caribe-fishes, o f which we saw everywhere an innumerable quantity, devour in a few days the muscular flesh, and thus prepare the skeleton. It m a y be supposed, that this operation can b e practised only in places where crocodiles are n o t c o m m o n . Some tribes, for instance the Tamanacs, are a c c u s t o m e d t o lay waste the fields o f a deceased relative, and cut d o w n the trees which he has planted. T h e y say, " that the sight o f objects, which belonged to their relation, makes them melancholy." T h e y like better t o efface than t o preserve r e m e m brances. T h e s e effects o f Indian sensibility are very detrimental t o agriculture, and the m o n k s o p p o s e with e n e r g y these superstitious practices, t o which t h e natives c o n v e r t e d to Christianity still adhere in the missions. T h e t o m b s o f the Indians o f the O r i n o c o have n o t b e e n very closely examined, because they do not contain valuable articles like those o f Peru ; and even on the spot no faith is n o w l e n t t o the chimerical ideas, which were heretofore formed o f the wealth o f the ancient inhabitants o f El D o r a d o . T h e thirst o f gold everywhere precedes the desire o f instruct i o n , a n d a taste for researches into a n t i q u i t y ; in all the m o u n t a i n o u s pat of South America, from Merida and Santa M a r t a t o t h e table-lands o f Q u i t o and U p p e r P e r u , t h e labours of absolute mining have been undertaken to discover


488

ATTACHMENT TO BURIAL-PLACES.

t o m b s , or, as the Creoles say, e m p l o y i n g a word altered from the Inca language, guacas. W h e n in Peru, at M a n f i c h i , I went into the guaca, from which, in the sixteenth Century, masses o f gold o f great value were extracted. No trace o f the precious metals has been found in the caverns which have served the natives o f Guiana for ages as sepulchres. T h i s circumstance proves, that, even at the p e r i o d when the Caribs, and other travelling nations, made i n c u r sions to the south-west, gold had flowed in very small q u a n tities from the mountains o f Peru towards the eastern plains. W h e r e v e r the granitic rocks do not present any o f those large cavities caused by their d e c o m p o s i t i o n , or by an a c c u mulation o f their blocks, the Indians deposit their dead in the earth. T h e hammock ( c h i n c h o r r o ) , a kind o f net in which the deceased had reposed during his life, serves for a coffin. This net is fastened tight r o u n d the b o d y , a hole is d u g in the hut, and there the body is laid. This is the m o s t usual method, according to the a c c o u n t o f the m i s sionary Gili, and it accords with what I myself learned from Father Zea. I d o not believe that there exists one tumulus in Guiana, not even in the plains o f the Cassiquiare and t h e E s s e q u i b o . S o m e , however, are t o be m e t with in t h e savannahs o f Varinas, as in Canada, to the west o f t h e Alleghanies.* It seems remarkable enough that, not withstanding the extreme abundance o f wood in those c o u n t r i e s , the natives o f the O r i n o c o were as little accustomed as t h e ancient Scythians to burn the dead. Sometimes they formed funeral piles for that p u r p o s e ; but only after a battle, when the number o f the dead was considerable. In 1748, the Parecas burned not only the bodies o f their enemies, the Tamanacs, but also those o f their o w n people who fell on the field o f battle. T h e Indians o f South America, like all nations in a slate o f nature, are strongly attached to the spots where the bones o f their father- repose. This feeling, which a great writer has beautifully painted in the episode o f Alula, is cherished in all its primitive ardour by the Chinese. T h e s e p e o p l e , * Mummies and skeletons contained in baskets were recently discovered in a cavern in the United States. It in believed, they belong to a race of men analogous to that of the Sandwich Islands. The description of these tombs has some multitude with that of the tombs of Ataruipe.


RAUDAL OF ATURES.

489

a m o n g w h o m everything is the p r o d u c e o f art, o r rather o f the m o s t ancient civilization, d o n o t c h a n g e their dwelling w i t h o u t carrying along with them t h e b o n e s o f their ancestors. Collins are seen deposited on the hanks o f great rivers, t o he transported, with t h e furniture o f t h e family, t o a r e m o t e province. These removals o f b o n e s , heretofore m o r e c o m m o n a m o n g t h e savages o f N o r t h A m e r i c a , are n o t practised a m o n g the tribes o f G u i a n a ; b u t these are n o t n o m a d , like nations w h o live exclusively b y hunting. W e staid at the mission o f A t u r e s only during the time necessary f o r passing the canoe through the Great Cataract. T h e b o t t o m of o u r frail bark had b e c o m e so thin that it r e quired great care t o prevent: it from splitting. W e t o o k leave o f the missionary, Bernardo Zea, w h o remained at A t u r e s , after having accompanied us during t w o months, and shared all o u r sufferings. This p o o r m o n k still c o n t i n u e d t o have fits o f tertian a g u e ; they had b e c o m e t o him an habitual evil, t o which he paid little attention. O t h e r fevers o f a m o r e fatal kind prevailed at A t u r e s o n o u r second visit. T h e greater part o f the Indians could not leave their h a m m o c k s , and w e were obliged t o send in search o f cassavabread, t h e most indispensable food o f the c o u n t r y , t o t h e independent b u t n e i g h b o u r i n g tribe o f the Piraoas. We had hitherto escaped these malignant fevers, which, I believe t o b o always c o n t a g i o u s . W e ventured t o pass in o u r canoe through the latter half o f t h e Raudal o f A t u r e s . W e landed here and there, t o c l i m b upon the rocks, which like narrow dikes j o i n e d t h e islands t o o n e another. Sometimes the waters force their way over the dikes, sometimes they fall within them with a hollow noise. A considerable portion o f t h e O r i n o c o w a s dry, because the river had found an issue by subterraneous caverns, i n these solitary haunts the rock-manakin with gilded plumage ( P i p r a r u p i c o l a ) , o n e o f t h e most beautiful birds o f the tropics, builds its nest. T h e Raudalito o f Carucari is caused by an accumulation o f e n o r m o u s b l o c k s o f granite, several o f which are spheroids o f live o r six feet in diameter, and they are piled together in such a m a n n e r , as t o form spacious caverns. W e entered o n e o f these caverns t o gather t h e confervas that were spread over t h e


490

DANGERS OF THE RIVER.

clefts and humid sides of the r o c k . This spot displayed one of the most extraordinary scenes of nature, that we had contemplated on the hanks of the Orinoco. T h e river rolled its waters turbulently over o u r heads. It seemed like the sea dashing against reefs of r o c k s ; b u t at the entrance o f the cavern we could remain dry beneath a large sheet o f water that precipitated itself in an arch from above the barrier. In other cavities, deeper, b u t less spacious, the r o c k was pierced by the effect o f successive filtrations. W e saw c o l u m n s of wafer, eight or nine inches broad, descending from the t o p o f the vault, and finding an issue by clefts, that sei rued I N c o m m u n i c a t e at great distances with each other. T h e cascades of E u r o p e , f o r m i n g o n l y one fall, or several falls close to each other, can n e v e r p r o d u c e such variety in the shifting landscape. This variety is peculiar t o rapids, to a succession o f small cataracts several miles in length, t o rivers that force their way across rocky dikes and a c c u m u l a t e d b l o c k s of granite. W e had the o p p o r t u n i t y of v i e w i n g this extraordinary sight longer than we wished. O u r boat was to coast the eastern bank o f a narrow island, and to take us in again after a l o n g circuit. We passed an h o u r and a half in vain expectation o f it. Night approached, and with it a tremendous storm. It, rained with violence. W e began to fear that o u r frail bark had been w r e c k e d against the rocks, and that the Indians, conformably to their habitual indifference for the evils o f others, had returned tranquilly to the mission. T h e r e were o n l y three of u s : we were completely wet, and uneasy respecting the fate o f o u r boat : it appeared far from agreeable to pass, w i t h o u t sleep, a l o n g n i g h t o f t h e torrid zone, amid tho noise o f the Raudales. M. Bonpland proposed to leave m e in the island with Don Nicolas S o t o , and to swim across the branches o f the river, that are separated by the granitic dikes. H e Imped to reach the forest, and seek assistance at A t u r e s from f a t h e r Zea. W e dissuaded him with difficulty from undertaking this hazardous enterprise. He knew little o f the labyrinth o f small channels, into which the O r i n o c o is divided. Most- o f them have s t r o n g whirlpools, and what passed before o u r e y e s , while we w e r e deliberating on our situation, proved sufficiently, that the natives had deceived us respecting the absence o f crocodiles in the


CARICHANA.

491

cataracts. T h e little m o n k e y s which w e had carried a l o n g with us for months, were d e p o s i t e d o n the point o f o u r island. Wet b y the rains, and sensible o f the least l o w e r i n g o f the t e m p e r a t u r e , these delicate animals sent forth plaintive cries, and attracted t o the spot t w o crocodiles, t h e size and leaden c o l o u r o f which d e n o t e d their great age. T h e i r u n e x p e c t e d appearance made us reflect on the danger we had incurred b y bathing, at o u r first passing b y the mission o f A t u r e s , in the middle o f the Raudal. A f t e r l o n g waiting, the Indians at length arrived at the (dose o f d a y . T h e natural coffer-dam, b y which they had endeavoured t o descend, in order to make the circuit o f t h e island, had b e c o m e impassable, o w i n g to the shallowness o f t h e water. T h e pilot s o u g h t l o n g for a m o r e accessible passage in this labyrinth o f r o c k s a n d islands. H a p p i l y our canoe was n o t damaged, and in less than half an hour o u r instruments, provision, and animals, w e r e embarked. W e pursued o u r c o u r s e d u r i n g a part o f the n i g h t , t o pitch o u r tent again in the island o f Panumana. W e r e c o g nized with pleasure t h e spots where w e had botanized w h e n g o i n g u p the O r i n o c o . W e examined o n c e m o r e on t h e beach o f G u a c h a c o that small formation o f sandstone, w h i c h reposes directly on granite. I t s position is the same as that o f the sandstone which Burckhardt observed at the entrance o f Nubia, superimposed o n the granite o f S y e n e . We passed, w i t h o u t visiting it, t h e new mission o f San Borga, where (as w e learned with r e g r e t a few days after) the little c o l o n y o f G u a h i b o s had fled al monte, from the chimerical fear that we should carry them off, t o sell t h e m as poitos, o r slaves. A f t e r having passed the rapids o f Tabaje, and the Kaudal o f Cariven. near the m o u t h o f the great Rio M e t a , w e arrived w i t h o u t accident at Carichana. T h e missionary received us with that kind hospitality which ho e x t e n d e d t o us o n o u r first passage. T h e sky was unfavourable for astronomical o b servations ; we had obtained s o m e new ones in the t w o G r e a t C a t a r a c t s ; b u t t h e n c e , as far as the m o u t h o f the A p u r e , we were o b l i g e d t o r e n o u n c e the a t t e m p t . M . Bonpland had the satisfaction at Carichana o f dissecting a manati m o r e than nine feel long. It was a female, ami the flesh appeared t o us n o t unsavoury. 1 have s p o k e n in another place o f the


492

INDIAN PREJUDICES.

m a n n e r o f c a t c h i n g this herbivorous cetacea. T h e Piraoas, some families o f whom inhabit the mission o f Carichana, d e t e s t this animal t o such a degree, that they hid t h e m selves, t o avoid being obliged to touch it, whilst it was b e i n g c o n v e y e d t o o u r hut. T h e y said, that t h e p e o p l e o f their tribe die infallibly, when they eat o f it. This preju dice is the more singular, as the neighbours o f the Piraoas, t h e G u a m o s and the O t t i m a c s , are very fond o f the flesh o f t h e manati. T h e flesh o f the crocodile is also an o b j e c t o f h o r r o r t o s o m e tribes, and o f predilection to others. The island o f Cuba furnishes a fact little known in the history o f the manati. South o f the port o f X a g u a , several miles from the coast, there are s p r i n g ; o f fresh water in t h e middle o f the sea. They are supposed to bo o w i n g to a hydrostatic pressure existing in subterraneous channels, c o m m u n i c a t i n g with the lofty mountains o f Trinidad. Small vessels sometimes take in water t h e r e ; and, what is well w o r t h y o f observation, large manatis remain habitually in t h o s e spots. I have already called the attention o f naturalists to the crocodiles which advance from the mouth o f rivers far into the sea. A n a l o g o u s circumstances may have caused, in the ancient catastrophes o f o u r planet, that singular mixture o f pelagian and fluviatile bones and petrifactions, which is observed in s o m e rocks o f recent formation. O u r stay at Carichana w a s very useful in recruiting o u r strength after our fatigues. M . Bonpland bore with him the germs of a cruel m a l a d y ; he needed r e p o s e ; but as the delta o f the tributary streams included between the Horeda and Paruasi is covered with a rich vegetation, he made long herbalizations, and was wet through several times in a day. W e found, fortunately, in the bouse o f the missionary, t h e most attentive c a r e ; we were supplied with bread made o f maize flour, and even with milk. The c o w s yield milk plentifully e n o u g h in the lower regions o f the torrid z o n e , wherever good pasturage is found. I call at lent ion to this fact, because local circumstances have spread through the Indian A r c h i p e l a g o the prejudice o f c o n s i d e r i n g hot climates as repugnant to the secretion o f milk. W e may c o n c e i v e the i n d i f f e n c e o f the inhabitants o f the N e w W o r l d for a milk diet, the country having been originally


SLIGHT SLOPE OF THE RIVER.

493

destitute o f animals capable o f furnishing i t * ; but h o w can w e avoid being astonished at, this indifference in t h e immense Chinese population, living in great part b e y o n d the tropics, and in the same latitude with the nomad and pastoral tribes o f central Asia ? I f t h e Chinese have ever been a pastoral people, how have they lost the tastes and habits so intimately c o n n e c t e d with that state, w h i c h precedes agricultural institutions ? T h e s e questions are interesting with respect both to the history o f the nations o f oriental A s i a , and t o the ancient c o m m u n i c a t i o n s that are supposed to have existed b e t w e e n that part o f the world and the north o f M e x i c o . W e w e n t d o w n the O r i n o c o in t w o days, from Carichana t o the mission o f Uruana, after having again passed the celebrated strait o f Baraguan. W e stopped several times t o determine the velocity o f the river, a n d its temperature at t h e surface, which was 2 7 ' 4 . T h e velocity was found to b e t w o feet in a second ( s i x t y - t w o toises in 3' 6 " ) , in places where the bed o f the O r i n o c o was m o r e than twelve t h o u sand feet b r o a d , and from t e n t o twelve fathoms d e e p . The slope o f the river is in fact extremely gentle from the Great Cataracts t o A n g o s t u r a ; and, if a barometric m e a s u r e m e n t were wanting, the difference o f height, might be determined b y approximation, by measuring from t i m e t o t i m e the velocity o f the stream, and the extent o f the section in breadth and depth. W e had some observations o f the stars at U r u a n a . I found t h e latitude o f t h e mission t o b e 7째 8 ' ; but the results from different stars left a d o u b t o f m o r e than 1'. T h e stratum o f m o s q u i t o s , which h o v e r e d over the g r o u n d , was so thick that I could not succeed in rectifying properly the artificial horizon. I t o r m e n t e d m y o

* The rein-deer are not domesticated in Greenland as they are in Lapland ; and the Esquimaux care little for their milk. The bisons taken very young, accustom themselves, on the west of the Alleghanics, to graze with herds of European cows. The females in some districts of India yield a little milk, but the natives have never thought of milking them. What is the origin of that fabulous story related by Gomara (chap. 43, p. 36). according to winch the first Spanish navigators saw, on the coast of South Carolina. " stags led to the savannahs by herdsmen ? " The female bisons, according to Mr. Buchanan and the philosophical historian of the Indian Archipelago, Mr. Crawford, yield more milk than common cows.


494

MAJESTIC

RIVER

SCENERY.

self in vain ; and regretted that I was not provided with a mercurial horizon. O n the 7th o f J u n e , g o o d absolute altit u d e s o f the sun gave m e 69째 4 0 ' for the l o n g i t u d e . We had advanced from E s m e r a l d a 1째 1 7 ' t o w a r d the west, and this c h r o n o m e t r i c determination merits entire confidence on o n a c c o u n t o f the d o u b l e observations, made in g o i n g and returning, at the Great Cataracts, and at the confluence o f t h e A t a b a p o and o f the A p u r e . T h e situation o f t h e mission o f Uruana is extremely picturesque. T h e little Indian village stands at the foot o f a lofty granitic m o u n t a i n . R o c k s everywhere appear in the form o f pillars a b o v e t h e forest, rising higher than t h e t o p s o f the tallest trees. T h e aspect o f the O r i n o c o is n o w h e r e m o r e majestic, than w h e n viewed from the hut o f the missionary, Fray R a m o n B u e n o . I t is m o r e than t w o thousand six hundred toises broad, and it runs without any winding, like a vast canal, straight toward the east. T w o long and n a r r o w islands (Isla de Uruana and Isla vieja de la Manteca) c o n t r i b u t e t o give e x t e n t t o the b e d o f the r i v e r ; t h e t w o banks are parallel, a n d w e c a n n o t call it divided i n t o differe n t branches. T h e mission is inhabited b y the O t t o m a c s , a tribe in the rudest state, a n d presenting o n e o f t h e m o s t extraordinary physiological p h e n o m e n a . T h e y eat cart h ; that is, they swallow every day, during several mouths, very considerable quantities, to appease hunger, and this practice does not appear to have any injurious effect on their health. T h o u g h we could stay only one day at Uruana, this short space o f time sufficed to make us acquainted with the preparation o f the poya, o r balls o f earth. I also f o u n d some traces of this vitiated appetite a m o n g the G u a m o s ; and between the continence of the Meta and the Apure, where everybody speaks o f dirt-eating as of a thing anciently known. I shall here confine myself t o an a c c o u n t o f w h a t we ourselves saw or heard from the missionary, who had b e e n d o o m e d t o live for twelve years a m o n g t h e savage and t u r b u l e n t tribe o f the O t t o m a c s . The inhabitants of Uruana belong to those nations o f the savannahs called wandering Indians ( I n d i o s a n d a n t e s ) , w h o , m o r e difficult t o civilize than the nations o f the forest ( I n d i o s del m o n t e ) , have a decided aversion to cultivate the land, and live almost exclusively b y h u n t i n g and fishing.


THE

CUSTOM OF

DIRT-EATING.

495

T h e y are m e n o f very r o b u s t c o n s t i t u t i o n ; b u t ill-looking, savage, vindictive, and passionately fond o f fermented liquors. T h e y are omnivorous animals in the highest d e g r e e ; and therefore the other I n d i a n s , w h o consider t h e m as barbarians, have a c o m m o n saving, " n o t h i n g is so loathsome hut that an O t t o m a c will eat i t . " W h i l e the waters o f the O r i n o c o and its tributary streams are l o w , the O t t o m a c s subsist o n fish and turtles. The former they kill with surprising dexterity, b y s h o o t i n g t h e m w i t h an arrow w h e n they appear at the surface o f the water. W h e n the rivers swell fishing almost entirely ceases.* It is then very difficult to p r o c u r e fish, which often fails the p o o r missionaries, o n fast-days as well as flesh-days, t h o u g h all the y o u n g Indians are u n d e r the obligation o f " fishing for the c o n vent." D u r i n g the period o f these inundations, which last t w o or three months, the O t t o m a c s swallow a prodigious quantity o f earth. W e found heaps o f earth-balls in their huts, piled up in pyramids three o r four feet high. These balls were five or six inches in diameter. The earth which the O t t o m a c s eat, is a very fine a n d u n c t u o u s clay, o f a yellowish grey c o l o u r ; and, when being slightly baked at the fire, the hardened crust has a tint inclining t o red, o w i n g to the oxide o f iron which is mingled with it. We b r o u g h t away some o f this earth, which w e took from t h o winter-provision o f the I n d i a n s ; and it is a mistake to suppose that it is steatitic, and that it contains magnesia. Vauquelin did n o t discover any traces o f that substance in i t : b u t he found that it contained more silex than alumina, and three or four per cent o f lime. T h e O t t o m a c s do not eat every kind o f clay indifferently; they c h o o s e the alluvial beds or strata, which contain the most unctuous earth, and the smoothest to the touch. I inquired o f the missionary whether the moistened clay were made to undergo that peculiar decomposition which is indicated by a disengagement o f carbonic acid and sulphuretted hydrogen, and which is designated in every language by the term o f putrefaction; but he assured us, that the natives neither cause the clay to rot, nor do they mingle it with * In South America, as in Egypt and Nubia, the swelling of the rivers, which occurs periodically in every part of the torrid zone, is erroneously attributed to the melting of the snows.


496

PREVALENCE OF THE PRACTICE.

flour o f maize, oil o f turtle's e g g s , o r fat o f the crocodile. W e ourselves examined, both at the Orinoco and after our return to Paris, the halls o f earth which we brought away with us, and found n o trace o f the mixture o f any organic substance, whether oily or farinaceous. T h e savage regards every thing as nourishing that appeases h u n g e r : w h e n , therefore, you impure of an O t t o m a c on what he subsists during the two months when the river is at its highest, flood he shows y o u his balls o f clayey earth. This he calls his principal food at the period when he can seldom procure a lizard, a root o f fern, or a dead fish s w i m m i n g at the surface o f the water. If necessity force the Indians to eat earth during t w o m o n t h s (and from three quarters to five quarters o f a pound in t w e n t y - f o u r h o u r s ) , he eats it from choice during the rest o f the year. Every day in the season o f d r o u g h t , when fishing is most abundant, he scrapes his halls o f poya, and mingles a little clay with his other aliment. I t is most surprising that the O t t o m a c s do n o t b e c o m e lean b y swallowing such quantities o f e a r t h : they are, on the robust. T h e missionary f r a y Ramon contrary, extremely B u e n o asserts, that he never remarked any alteration in the health o f the natives at the period o f the great risings o f the Orinoco. T h e O t t o m a c s during some months eat daily three-quarters o f a pound o f clay slightly hardened by fire, but which they moisten before swallowing it. It has not been possible to verify hitherto with precision how much nutritious vegetable or animal matter they take in a week at the same t i m e ; b u t they attribute the sensation o f satiety which they feel, to the clay, and not to the wretched aliments which they take with it occasionally. N o physiological phenomenon being entirely insulated, it may be interesting to examine several analogous phenomena, which I have b e e n able to collect. I observed everywhere within the torrid zone, in a great number o f individuals, children, w o m e n , and sometimes even full-grown men, an inordinate and almost irresistible desire o f swallowing earth; not an alkaline or calcareous earth, to neutralize (as it is said) acid juices, but a fat clay, u n c t u o u s , and exhaling a strong smell. It is often found necessary to lie the c h i l d r e n ' s hands or to confine t h e m , to prevent their eating earth,


THE CUSTOM

497

IN AFRICA.

w h e n t h e rain ceases t o fall. A t t h e village o f B a n c o , on the bank o f the river Magdalena, I saw the Indian w o m e n w h o make p o t t e r y continually swallowing great pieces o f clay. T h e s e w o m e n w e r e n o t in a state o f p r e g n a n c y ; a n d they affirmed, that earth is an aliment which they d o n o t find hurtful. In other A m e r i c a n tribes, people soon fall sick, and waste away, when they yield t o o much t o this mania o f eating earth. We found at the mission o f San Borja an Indian child o f the Guahiba nation, w h o was as thin as a skeleton. T h e mother informed us that the little gild was reduced to this lamentable state o f atrophy in c o n s e quence o f a disordered appetite, she having refused during four m o n t h s t o take almost any other f o o d than clay. Y e t San Borja is only twenty-five leagues distant from the mission o f Uruana, inhabited b y that tribe o f t h e O t t o m a c s , w h o , from the effect n o d o u b t o f a habit progressively acquired, swallow t h e poya without experiencing any pernicious effects. F a t h e r Gumilla asserts, that the O t t o m a c s take as an aperient, oil, o r rather t h e melted fat o f t h e crocodile, when they feel a n y gastric o b s t r u c t i o n s ; but the missionary whom we found a m o n g them was little disposed to confirm this assertion. It may be asked, why the mania o f eating earth is m u c h m o r e rare in the frigid and temperate than in the torrid z o n e s ; a n d w h y in E u r o p e it is f o u n d only a m o n g w o m e n in a state o f pregnancy, and sickly children. This difference between hot and temperate climates arises perhaps o n l y from the inert state of the functions o f the stomach, caused b y strong cutaneous perspiration. It has been supposed to b e observed, that the inordinate taste f o r eating earth augments a m o n g the African slaves, and b e c o m e s m o r e pernicious, when they are restricted to a regimen purely vegetable and deprived o f spirituous liquors. T h e negroes on t h e coast o f Guinea delight in eating a yellowish earth, which they call caouac. T h e slaves w h o are taken to America endeavour to indulge in this habit ; b u t it proves detrimental to their health. T h e y say, that the earth o f the West Indies is not so easy o f digestion as that of their c o u n t r y . " Thibaut de Chanvalon, in his V o y a g e t o M a r t i n i c o , expresses himself very judiciously on this pathological p h e n o m e n o n . " A n o t h e r c a u s e , " he says, " o f this pain in the stomach is, that several o f the negroes, w h o c o m e VOL.

II.

2

K


498

EARTH-EATING IN ASIA,

from the coast o f G u i n e a , eat e a r t h ; n o t from a depraved taste, o r in c o n s e q u e n c e o f disease, b u t from a habit c o n tracted at home in Africa, where they eat, t h e y say, a particular earth, the taste o f which they find agreeable, w i t h o u t suffering any inconvenience. They seek in our islands for the earth most similar t o this, and prefer a yellowish red volcanic tufa. I t is sold secretly in o u r public m a r k e t s ; b u t this is an abuse which the police o u g h t to correct. The n e g r o e s w h o have this habit are so fond o f caouac, that n o chastisement will prevent their eating i t . " In the Indian Archipelago, at the island o f Java, L a b i l lardière saw, between Surabaya and Samarang, little square and reddish cukes exposed for sale. These cakes called tanaampo, were cakes o f clay, slightly baked, which the natives eat with relish. The attention of physiologists, since my return from the O r i n o c o , having been powerfully directed to these phenomena o f geophagy, M . Leschenault, ( o n e o f the naturalists o f the expedition to the A n t a r t i c r e gions under the c o m m a n d o f captain Baudin) has published some curious details on the tanaampo, or ampo, o f the Javanese. " T h e reddish and somewhat ferruginous c l a y , " he says " w h i c h the inhabitants o f Java are fond o f eating o c casionally, is spread on a plate o f iron, and baked, after having been rolled into little cylinders in the form o f the bark o f c i n n a m o n . In this state it, takes the name o f ampo, and is sold in the public markets. This clay has a peculiar taste, which is o w i n g to the b a k i n g : it is very absorbent, and adheres to the t o n g u e , which it dries. In general it is only the Javanese women who eat the ampo, either in the time o f pregnancy, or in order to grow t h i n ; the absence; o f plumpness being there regarded as a kind o f beauty. T h e use of this earth is fatal to health; the women lose their appetite imperceptibly, and take only with relish a very small quantity o f food ; but the desire o f b e c o m i n g thin, and of preserving a slender shape, induces them to brave these dangers, and maintains the credit o f the ampo." The savage inhabitants of New Caledonia also, to appease their hunger in times o f scarcity, eat great pieces o f a friable Lapis ollaris. Vauquelin analysed this stone, and found in it, beside magnesia and silex in equal portions, a small quantity o f oxide o f c o p p e r . M . Goldberry had seen the negroes in


AND IN MANY OTHER PLACES.

499

A f r i c a , in the islands o f P u n c k and L o s Idolos, cat a earth o f which he had himself eaten, w i t h o u t b e i n g i n c o m m o d e d b y it, and which also was a white and friable steatite. T h e s e examples o f earth-eating in the torrid zone appear very strange. "We are struck b y the anomaly o f finding a taste, which m i g h t seem t o b e l o n g only t o t h e inhabitants o f t h e m o s t sterile regions, prevailing a m o n g races o f rude and indolent m e n , w h o live in the finest and m o s t fertile countries on the g l o b e . W e saw at P o p a y a n , and in several mountainous parts o f P e r u , lime r e d u c e d t o a v e r y fine p o w d e r , sold in the public m a r k e t s t o t h e natives a m o n g other articles o f f o o d . T h i s p o w d e r , w h e n eaten, is m i n g l e d with coca, that is, with the leaves o f t h e E r y t h r o x y l o n p e r u vianum. I t is well k n o w n , that Indian messengers take n o other aliment f o r w h o l e days than lime and coca: both excite the secretion o f saliva, and o f the gastric j u i c e ; they take away the appetite, without affording any nourishment t o the b o d y . I n o t h e r parts o f S o u t h A m e r i c a , o n t h e coast, o f Rio de la Hacha, the Guajiros swallow lime alone, without adding any vegetable matter t o it. T h e y carry with them a little box filled with lime, as w e do snuff-boxes, and as in A s i a p e o p l e carry a b e t e l - b o x . This American custom excited the curiosity o f the first Spanish navigators. Lime blackens t h e t e e t h ; and in the Indian A r c h i p e l a g o , as among several American hordes, to blacken the teeth is t o beautify t h e m . I n t h e c o l d r e g i o n s o f t h e k i n g d o m o f Q u i t o , the natives o f T i g u a eat habitually from choice, and without any injurious consequences, a very line clay, mixed With quartzose sand. This clay, suspended in water, renders it milky. We find in their huts large vessels filled with this water, which serves as a beverage, a n d which t h e I n dians call agua o r leche de llanka.* W h e n we reflect on these facts, we perceive that the appetite for clayey, magnesian, and calcareous earth is m o s t common a m o n g the people o f the torrid z o n e ; that it is n o t always a cause o f disease ; and that s o m e tribes eat earth from choice, whilst others (as the O t t o m a c s in America, and the inhabitants o f New Caledonia, in the Pacific) eat it from want, a n d t o appease h u n g e r . A great n u m b e r of * Water or milk of clay. Llanka is a word of the general language of the Incas, signifying fine clay. 2 K 2


500

PHYSIOLOGY OF HUNGER.

physiological phenomena prove that a temporary cessation o f hunger may be produced though the substances that are submitted to the organs o f digestion may not be, properly speaking, nutritive. T h e earth o f the Ottomacs, c o m p o s e d o f alumine and silex, furnishes probably nothing, or almost n o t h i n g , t o the c o m p o s i t i o n o f the organs o f man. These organs contain lime and magnesia in the bones, in the lymph o f the thoracic duct, in the c o l o u r i n g matter o f the b l o o d , and in white hairs; they afford very small quantities o f silex in black h a i r ; and, according to Vauquelin, b u t a few atoms o f alumine in the bones, though this is c o n tained abundantly in the greater part o f those vegetable substances which form part o f o u r nourishment. I t is n o t the same with man as with animated beings placed lower in the scale o f organization. In the former, assimilation is exerted o n l y o n those substances that enter essentially into t h e c o m p o s i t i o n o f the b o n e s , t h e muscles, and the m e d u l lary matter o f the nerves a n d the brain. Plants, o n the contrary, draw from the soil the salts that are found accidentally mixed in it ; and their fibrous texture varies according to the nature o f the earths that predominate in the spots which they inhabit. A n o b j e c t well worthy o f research, and which has l o n g fixed m y attention, is t h e small n u m b e r o f simple substances (earthy and metallic) that enter into the composition o f animated beings, and which alone appear lilted to maintain what, we may call the chemical movement o f vitality. W e must not confound the sensations o f hunger with that vague feeling o f debility which is produced by want o f nutrition, and by other pathologic causes. The sensation o f hunger ceases long before digestion takes place, o r the c h y m e is converted into chyle. It ceases either by ft nervous and tonic impression exerted b y the aliments o n the coats of the stomach ; or, because the digestive apparatus is filled with substances that excite the mucous membranes to an abundant secretion o f the gastric juice. To this tonic impression on the nerves o f the stomach the prompt and salutary effects of what are called nutritive medicaments may be attributed, such as chocolate, and e v e n substance that gently stimulates and nourishes at the same time. It is the a b s e n c e o f a nervous stimulant


OTHER SUBSTANCES EMPLOYED.

501

that renders t h e solitary use o f a nutritive substance (as starch, g u m , or sugar) less favourable to assimilation, and t o t h e reparation o f the losses which the human b o d y u n d e r g o e s . O p i u m , which is n o t nutritive, is e m p l o y e d with success in A s i a , in times o f great s c a r c i t y ; it acts as a tonic. B u t w h e n t h e matter which fills t h e stomach c a n b e regarded neither as an aliment, that is, as p r o p e r to b e assimilated, nor as a tonic stimulating the nerves, the cessation o f hunger is probably owing only to the secretion o f the gastric j u i c e . We here t o u c h u p o n a p r o b l e m o f physiology which has not been sufficiently investigated. H u n g e r is appeased, the painful feeling o f inanition ceases, when the stomach is filled. It is said that this viscus stands in need o f b a l l a s t ; and every language furnishes figurative expressions, which convey the idea that a mechanical distension o f t h e stomach causes an agreeable sensation. Recent works o f physiology still speak o f the painful contraction which the stomach experiences d u r i n g hunger, t h e friction o f its sides against o n e another, a n d the action of the gastric juice on the texture o f the digestive apparatus. T h e observations o f Bichat, and more particularly the line experiments o f M a j e n d i e , are in c o n t r a diction to these superannuated hypotheses. After t w e n t y four, forty-eight, o r even sixty hours o f abstinence, n o contraction o f the stomach is o b s e r v e d ; i t is only o n t h e fourth or fifth day that this organ appears to change in a small degree its dimensions. The quantity o f the gastric j u i c e diminishes with the duration o f abstinence. I t is probable that this juice, far from accumulating, is digested as an alimentary substance, i f a cat o r d o g be made t o swallow a substance which is not susceptible o f being digested, a pebble for instance, a m u c o u s and acid liquid is formed abundantly in the cavity o f the stomach, s o m e what resembling in its composition the gastric j u i c e o f t h e human b o d y . It appears to me very probable, that when the want o f aliments compels the O t t o m a c s a n d the inhabitants o f New Caledonia t o swallow clay and steatite during a part o f the year, these earths occasion a p o w e r f u l secretion o f the gastric and pancreatic j u i c e s in the digestive apparatus of these people. T h e observations which I made on the banks o f the O r i n o c o , have been recently confirmed


502

EARTH-EATTNG AMONG ANIMALS.

by the direct experiments o f t w o distinguished y o u n g p h y siologists, M M . C l o q u e t and B r e s c h e t . A f t e r l o n g lasting they ate as much as live ounces of a silvery green and very flexible laminar talc. Their hunger was completely satisfied, and they felt n o inconvenience from a kind o f f o o d t o which their organs were unaccustomed. It is known that groat use is still made in the East o f the bolar and sigillated earths of L e m n o s , which are clay mingled with oxide o f iron. I n G e r m a n y , the w o r k m e n e m p l o y e d in the quarries o f sandstone worked at the mountain o f Kiffhauser spread a very fine clay upon their bread, instead o f butter, which they call steinbutter* (stone-butter). T h e state o f perfect health enjoyed b y the O t t o m a c s during the time when they use little muscular exercise, and are subjected to so extraordinary a regimen, is a p h e n o m e n o n difficult to he explained. It can be attributed only t o a, habit, prolonged from generation to generation. The structure of the digestive apparatus differs much in animals that feed exclusively o n flesh o r o n s e e d s ; it is even p r o bable that the gastric juice; changes its nature, according as it is employed in effecting the digestion o f animal or v e g e table substances ; yet we are able gradually to change the regimen o f herbivorous and carnivorous animals, t o feed the former with flesh, and the latter with vegetables. Man can accustom himself to an extraordinary abstinence, and find it but little painful, if he e m p l o y t o n i c o r stimulating substances (various drugs, small quantities o f o p i u m , betel, t o b a c c o , o r leaves o f c o c a ) ; o r i f he supply his stomach, from time to time, with earthy insipid substances, that are n o t in themselves lit for nutrition. Like man in a savage state, some animals, when pressed by hunger in winter, swallow clay or friable steatites ; such are the wolves in the northeast o f Europe, the rein-deer, and, according to the testimony o f M . Patrin, the kids in Siberia. T h e Russian hunters, on the banks o f the Yenisei and the A m o u r , use a clayey matter, which they call rock-butter, as a bait. The animals scent this clay from afar, and are fond o f the smell ; as the clays of bucaro, known in Portugal and Spain b y the * This steinbutter must not be confounded with the mountain butter (bergbutter), which is a saline substance, produced by a deccomposition of aluminous schists.


STONES SWALLOWED BY BIRDS.

503

name o f odoriferous earths (tierras olorosas), have an o d o u r agreeable t o w o m e n . * B r o w n relates, in his H i s t o r y o f Jamaica, that the crocodiles o f South A m e r i c a swallow small stones and pieces o f very hard w o o d , when the lakes which they inhabit are dry, o r when they are in want o f food. B o n p l a n d and I observed in a crocodile, eleven feet l o n g , which w e dissected at Batallez, on the banks o f the Rio Magdalena, that the stomach o f this reptile c o n tained half-digested fish, and rounded fragments o f granite three o r four inches in diameter. I t is difficult t o admit that the crocodiles swallow these stony masses accidentally, for they d o n o t catch fish with their l o w e r j a w resting o n the g r o u n d at the b o t t o m o f the river. T h e Indians have flamed the absurd hypothesis that these indolent animals like t o a u g m e n t their weight, that t h e y m a y have less trouble in diving. I rather think that they load their stomach with large pebbles, to excite an abundant secretion o f the gastric j u i c e . T h e experiments o f M a j e n d i e render this explanation extremely probable. W i t h respect t o the habit o f the granivorous birds, particularly the gallinaceĂŚ and ostriches, o f swallowing sand and small pebbles, it has been hitherto attributed to an instinctive desire o f accelerating the trituration o f the aliments in a muscular and thick stomach. W e have m e n t i o n e d , that tribes o f N e g r o e s o n the Gambia mingle clay with their rice. Some families o f O t t o macs were perhaps formerly accustomed to cause the maize and other farinaceous seeds to rot in their poya, in o r d e r t o eat earth and amylaceous matter t o g e t h e r : possibly it was a preparation of this kind, that Father Gumilla described i n distinctly in the first volume o f his work, when he affirms, " t h a t the Guamos and the O t t o m a c s feed upon earth o n l y because it is impregnated with the sustancia del maiz, ( s u b stance o f maize) and the fat o f the c a y m a n . " I have already observed that neither the present missionary o f Uruana, n o r Fray Juan Gonzales, who lived long in those countries. k n e w anything of this mixture o f animal and vegetable substances * Bucaro (vas fictile odoriferum). People are fond of drinking out of these vessels on account of the smell of the clay. The women of the province of A lentejo acquire a habit of masticating the bucaro earth ; and feel a great privation when they cannot indulge this vitiated taste.


504

INTOXICATING POWDERS

with the poya. Perhaps Father Gumilla has c o n f o u n d e d the preparation o f the earth, which the natives swallow, with the custom they still retain ( o f which M. Bonpland acquired the certainty on the s p o t ) o f burying in the g r o u n d t h e beans o f a species o f mimosacea,* t o cause them t o enter into decomposition, so as to reduce them into a white bread, savoury, but difficult o f digestion. I repeat that the balls o f poya, which we took from the winter stores o f the Indians, contained no trace of animal fat, or o f amylaceous matter. Gumilla being one of the most credulous travellers we k n o w , it almost perplexes us to credit facts, which even he has thought lit to reject. Ill the second volume o f his w o r k , he however gainsays a great part o f what h o advanced in the first; he no longer d o u b t s , that " half at least (a lo menus) o f the bread o f the O t t o m a c s and t h e Guamos is c l a y . " He asserts, " t h a t children and full g r o w n persons not only eat this bread without suffering in their health, but also great pieces o f pure clay (muchos terrones de pura greda.)" He adds, that those who feel a weight on the stomach physic themselves with the fat o f the crocodile, which restores t heir appetite, and enables them t o c o n t i n u e to eat pure earth. † It is certain, that the (Guamos are very fond, if not o f the fat, at least of the flesh o f the crocodile, which appeared to us white, and without any smell of musk. In Sennaar, according to Burckhardt, it is equally esteemed, and sold in the markets. The little village o f Uruana is more difficult to govern than most of the other missions. T h e O t t o m a c s are a restless, turbulent people, with unbridled passions. They are not only fond to excess o f he fermented liquors prepared from cassava and maize, and o f palm-wine, but they throw t h e m selves into ¡1 peculiar state o f intoxication, we might say o f madness, by the use o f the powder of niopo. They gather the long pods o f a mimosacea, which we have made known b y the name o f Acacia niopo, ‡ cut them into pieces, moisten • ()t till' L'lTllls IllL'll. t tilllllilbl, Vol. ii, J). 260. ‡ It is an acacia with very delicate leaves, and not an Inga We brought home another species mimosacea (the chiga of the Ottomacs, andthesepaof the Maypures), that yields seeds, the flour of which is eaten at Uruana like cassava. from this flour the chiga bread is prepared, which is so common at Cunariche, and on the banks of the Lower


USED BY THE INDIANS.

505

t h e m , and cause them to ferment. W h e n t h e softened seeds b e g i n to g r o w black, t h e y are kneaded like a paste, m i x e d with s o m e Hour o f cassava and lime p r o c u r e d from the shell o f a helix, and the whole mass is exposed t o a very brisk fire, on a gridiron made o f hard w o o d . T h e hardened paste takes the form o f small cakes. W h e n it is to be used, it is reduced to a fine powder, and placed on a dish five or six inches w i d e . T h e O t t o m a c holds this dish, which has a handle, in his right hand, while he inhales the niopo b y t h e nose, through the forked b o n e o f a bird, the t w o extremities o f which are applied to the nostrils. This hone, without which the O t t o m a c believes that he could n o t take this kind o f snuff, is seven inches l o n g : it appeared t o m e t o b e the l e g b o n e o f a large sort o f plover. T h e niopo is so stimulating, that the smallest portions o f it p r o d u c e violent sneezing in those w h o are n o t a c c u s t o m e d t o its nse. Father Gumilla says, " T h i s diabolical p o w d e r o f the O t t o m a c s , furnished b y an arborescent tobacco-plant, intoxicates them through t h e nostrils (emboracha por las narices), deprives them o f reason for some hours, and renders them furious in b a t t l e . " However varied may be the family o f the leguminous plants in the chemical and medical properties o f their seeds, j u i c e s , and roots, we cannot believe, from what we know hitherto o f the g r o u p o f mimosaceĂŚ), that it is principally t h e p o d o f t h e Acacia niopo, which imparts the stimulant p o w e r t o the snuff of the Ottomacs. T h i s p o w e r is o w i n g , n o d o u b t , t o tho freshly calcined lime. W e have s h o w n a b o v e , that t h e mountaineers o f the A n d e s o f Popayan, and the Guajiros, who wander between the lake o f Maracaybo and the Rio la Hacha, are also fond o f swallowing lime as a stimulant, t o augment the secretion o f the saliva and the gastric juice. A custom analogous to the use o f the niopo j u s t d e scribed, was observed by La C o n d a m i n e a m o n g the natives o f the Upper M a r a b o u . T h e O m a g u a s , whose name is r e n dered celebrated by the expeditions attempted in search o f El Dorado, have like the O t t o m a c s , a dish, and the hollow b o n e o f a bird, by which they convey to their nostrils their powder o f curupa. T h e seed that yields this p o w d e r is no doubt also a mimosacea ; for the O t t o m a c s , a c c o r d i n g t o Orinoco. The chiga is a species of Inga, and I know of no other imasacea that can supply the place of the cerealia.


506

ТОBАССО

F a t h e r Gili, d esignate even n o w , at the d istance o f o n e h u n ­ dred and sixty leagues from the A m a z o n , the A c a c i a n i o p o by the name o f curupa. Since the geographical researches which I have recently mad e on the scene o f the exploits o f Philip von Huten, and the real situation o f the province o f P a p a m e n e , or of the Omaguas, the probability o f an ancient c o m m u n i c a t i o n between the O t t o m a c s o f the O r i n o c o an d t h e O m a g u a s o f the Marañon has b e c o m e m o r e interesting and more probable. The former canto from the M e t a , perhaps from the country between the Meta and the G u a v i a r e ; the latter assert, that they d escend ed in great n u m b e r s to the Marabou by the Rio Jupura, c o m i n g from the eastern d eclivity o f the A n d e s o f N e w G r e n a d a . Now, it is precisely between the G u a y a v e r o , (which j o i n s tho Guaviare,) and the Caqueta, (which takes l o w e r d o w n the n a m e o f Japura,) that the c o u n t r y o f the O m a g u a appears to be situate, o f which the ad venturers o f C o r o and T o c u y o in vain attempted the c o n q u e s t . T h e r e is n o d o u b t a striking contract between the present barbarism o f the O t t o m a c s and the ancient civilization of the O m a g u a s ; but all parts o f the latter nation were n o t perhaps alike ad ­ vanced in civilization, and the e x a m p l e o f tribes fallen into c o m p l e t e barbarism are unhappily but t o o c o m m o n in the history o f our species. A n o t h e r point o f resemblance may b e remarked b e t w e e n the O t t o m a c s and the Omaguas. B o t h o f these nations are celebrated a m o n g all the tribes o f the O r i n o c o and the Amazon for their employment o f c a o u t ­ c h o u c in the manufacture o f various .articles o f utility. T h e real herbaceous t o b a c c o * (for the missionaries have * The word tobacco (tabacco), like the word s savannah, maize, cacique, maguey (agave), aud manati, belongs to the ancient language of Hayti, or St. Domingo. It d id not properly d enote the herb, but the tube through which the smoke was inhaled . It seems surprising, that a vegetable prod uction so universally spread should have d ifferent. names among neighbouring people. The pete-ma of the Omaguas is, no d oubt, the pety of the Guaranos ; but the analogy between the Cabre and Al­ gonkin (or Lenni­Lenape) wools, which d enote tobacco, may he merely accidental. The following are the synonymes in thirteen languages. North America. Aztec or Mexican ; yetl: Algonkin ; sema : Huron; oyngoua. South America. Peruvian or Quichua ; sayri: Chiquito; pâis : Guarany ; pety Vilela ; tusup: Mbaja, (west of the Paraguay) nalodagadi : Moxo (between the Rio Ucayale and the Rio Mad eira) sabare: Omagua ; petema ; Tamanac ; cavai: Maypure ; jema : Cabre; scema.


AS A NARCOTIC.

507

tho habit o f calling the niopo o r curupa t r e e - t o b a c c o ) has been cultivated from t i m e immemorial b y all the native people o f the O r i n o c o ; and at the period o f the c o n q u e s t the habit o f s m o k i n g was found to be alike spread over Doth N o r t h and South A m e r i c a . T h e Tamanacs and the M a y pures o f Guiana wrap maize-leaves round their cigars, as t h e M e x i c a n s did at the time o f the arrival o f Cortes. The Spaniards have substituted paper for the leaves o f maize, in imitation of them. The poor Indians o f the forests o f the O r i n o c o k n o w as well as did the great nobles at the c o u r t o f M o n t e z u m a , that the smoke o f tobacco is an excellent narcotic ; and they use it n o t only to procure their afternoon n a p , b u t also t o p u t themselves into that state o f quiescence, which they call dreaming with the eyes open, or day-dreaming. T h e use o f t o b a c c o appears t o m e t o b e n o w very rare i n the m i s s i o n s ; and in N e w Spain, to the great regret o f the revenue-officers, the natives, who are almost all descended from the lowest class o f the Aztec people, do not s m o k e at all. f a t h e r Gili affirms, that the practice o f c h e w i n g t o b a c c o is u n k n o w n to the Indians o f the L o w e r O r i n o c o . 1 rather d o u b t the truth o f this assertion, having been told that the Sercucumas o f the Erevato and the Caura, n e i g h b o u r s o f the whitish Taparitos, swallow t o b a c c o c h o p p e d small, and impregnated with some other very stimulant j u i c e s , t o p r e pare themselves for battle. O f the four species o f n i c o ciana cultivated in E u r o p e * we found only t w o g r o w i n g w i l d ; but the N i c o t i a n a loxensis, and the N i c o t i a n a andicola, which I f o u n d o n t h e back o f the A n d e s , at tho height o f eighteen hundred and fifty toises (almost the height o f the Peak o f Teneriffe), are v e n similar to the N. tabacum and N . rustica. The whole g e n u s , however, is almost e x c l u sively A m e r i c a n , and the greater n u m b e r o f the species appeared to me to b e l o n g to the mountainous and temperate region o f the tropics. It was neither from Virginia, n o r from South A m e r i c a , but from the Mexican province o f Y u c a t a n , that E u r o p e received the first tobacco seeds, about the year 1559. † The * Nicotiana tabacum, N. rustica, N. paniculata, and N. glutinosa. † The Spaniards became acquainted with tobacco in the West India Islands at the end of the 15th century. I have already mentioned that the cultivation of this narcotic plant preceded the cultivation of the


506

NATURAL STYPTIC

celebrated Raleigh contributed most to introduce the custom o f smoking among the nations of the north. A s early, as the end of the sixteenth century, bitter complaints were made in England of this imitation of the manners of a savage people." It was feared that, by the practice of smoking tobacco, " englishmen would degenerate into a barbarous state." * When the Ottomacs of Uruana, by the use of niopo (their arborescent tobacco), and of fermented liquors, have thrown themselves into a state of intoxication, which lasts several days, they kill one another without ostensibly lighting. The most vindictive among them poison the nail of their thumb with curare; and, according to the testimony of the missionary, the mere impression of this poisoned nail may become a mortal wound, if the curare be very active, and immediately mingle with the mass of the blood. When the Indians, after a quarrel at night, commit a murder, they throw the dead body into the river, fearing that some indications of the violence committed on the deceased may be observed. " Every time," said Father Bueno, " that 1 see the women fetch water from a part of the shore to which they are not accustomed to go, 1 suspect that a murder has been committed in my mission." W e found in the Indian huts at Uruana substance called " touchwood of ants," † with become acquainted at the Great Cataracts, employed to stop bleeding. This substance,

the vegetable which we had and which is which might

potato in Europe more than 120 or 140 years. When Raleigh brought tobacco from Virginia to England in 1586, whole fields of it were already cultivated in Portugal. It was also previously known in France, where it was brought into fashion by Catherine de Medicis, from whom it received the name of "herbe á la reine," — "the queen's herb." * This remarkable passage of Camden is as follows, Annal. Elizabet. p. 143 (1585); " e x illo sane tempore [tabacum] usu cepit esse creberrimo in Anglia et magno pretio dum quamplurimi graveolentem illius fumum per tubulum testaceum hauriunt et mox e naribus effllant ; adeo ut Anglorum corporum in barbarorum naturam degenerasse videantur, quum iidem ac barbari delectentur." We may see from this passage that they emitted the smoke through the nose; but at the court of Montezuma the pipe was held in one hand, while the nostrils were stopped with the other, in order that the smoke might be more easily swallowed. (Life of Raleigh, vol. i. p. 82 ). † Yesca de hormigas.


SPECIES

OF

INDIAN

DOGS.

509

less improperly b e called ants' nests, is in much request in a region whoso inhabitants are o f so turbulent a character. A n e w species o f ant, o f a fine emerald-green ( F o r m i c a spinicollis), collects for its habitation a c o t t o n - d o w n , o f a yellowish-brown c o l o u r , and very soft to the t o u c h , from the leaves of a melastomacea. I have no d o u b t that the yesca o r touchwood of ants o f the U p p e r O r i n o c o (the animal is found, we were assured, only south o f Attires) will one day b e c o m e an article o f trade. This substance is very superior t o the ants' nests o f C a y e n n e , which are e m p l o y e d in the hospitals o f E u r o p e , b u t can rarely b e p r o c u r e d . O n the 7th o f J u n e we took leave with regret o f F a t h e r Ramon Bueno. O f t h e ten missionaries w h o m we had found in different parts o f the vast e x t e n t o f Guiana, he alone a p peared to m e t o b e earnestly attentive t o all that regarded the natives. H e hoped to return in a short time t o M a d r i d , Where he intended to publish the result o f his researches on the figures and characters that cover the rocks o f Uruana. In the countries we had j u s t passed through, b e t w e e n the M e t a , the Arauca, and the A p u r e , there were found, at the time o f the first expeditions t o t h e O r i n o c o , in 1 5 3 5 , those mute dogs, called by the natives maios, and auries. This | 'act is curious in many points o f view. W e cannot doubt that the d o g , whatever f a t h e r ( l i b may assert, is indigenous in South A m e r i c a . T h e different Indian languages furnish words t o designate this animal, which are scare. |y derived from any E u r o p e a n t o n g u e . T o this day the word auri, mentioned three hundred years ago b y A l o n z o de Herrera, is found in the M a y p u r e . The dogs we saw at the O r i n o c o may perhaps have descended from those that the Spaniards carried to the coast o f C a r a c a s ; hut it is not less certain that there existed a race o f d o g s before the conquest, in Peru, in N e w Granada, and in Guiana, resembling o u r shepherds' d o g s . T h e allco o f t h e natives of Peru. and in general all the d o g s that we found in the wildest countries o f South A m e r i c a , bark frequently. The first historians, however, till speak o f m u t e d o g s (perros mudos). They still exist in C a n a d a ; and. what appears t o me w o r t h y o f attention, it was this d u m b variety that Was eaten in' preference in M e x i c o , * and at the O r i n o c o . * See, on the Mexican techichi, and on the numerous difficulties that


510

DOGS USED IN DRAUGHT.

A very well informed traveller, M . G i e s e c k e , w h o resided six years in G r e e n l a n d , assured me that the d o g s o f the Esquimaux, which pass their lives in the open air, and bury themselves in winter beneath the s n o w , do n o t bark, b u t howl like wolves.* T h e practice o f eating the flesh o f d o g s is n o w entirely u n k n o w n on the banks o f the O r i n o c o ; b u t as it is a Tartar c u s t o m , spread through all the eastern part, o f Asia, it appears to me highly interesting for the history o f nations t o have ascertained that it existed heretofore in the hot regions o f Guiana and on the table-lands o f M e x i c o . I m u s t o b s e r v e , also, that o n the confines o f t h e p r o v i n c e o f D u r a n g o , at the northern extremity o f N e w Spain, the C o m a n c h e s have preserved the habit o f loading the backs o f the great dogs that accompany them in their migrations, with their tents o f buffalo-leather. It is well known that e m p l o y i n g d o g s as beasts o f burthen and o f draught is equally c o m m o n near the Slave Lake and in Siberia. I dwell on these features o f conformity in the manners o f nations, which become o f some weight when they are not solitary, and are connected with the analogies furnished b y t h e structure o f l a n g u a g e s , t h e division o f t i m e , and religious creeds and institutions. W e passed the night at the island o f Cucuruparu, called also Playa de la Tortuga, because the Indians o f Uruana g o thither t o collect t h e turtles' e g g s . I t is o n e o f the best determined points o f latitude along the banks o f the Orinoco. I was there fortunate enough to observe the passage o f three stars over the meridian. T o the east o f the island is the mouth o f the Cano de la T o r t u g a , which descends from the mountains o f Cerbatana, continually wrapped in electric clouds. On the southern bank o f the Cano, between the tributary streams Parapara and O c h e , occur in the history of mute dogs, and dogs destitute of hair, the "Views of Nature," Holm's edition, p. 85. * They sit down in a circle; one of them begins to howl alone, and the others follow in the same tone. The groups of alouate monkeys howl in the same manner, and among them the Indians distinguish "the leader of the hand." It was the practice at Mexico to castrate the mute dogs, in order to fatten them. This operation must have contributed to alter the organ of the voice.


L I Z A R D S AND OTTERS.

511

lies the almost ruined mission o f San M i g u e l de la T o r t u g a . T h e Indians assured u s that t h e environs o f this little mission abound in otters with a very line fur, called b y t h e P o r t u g u e s e ' w a t e r - d o g s ' (perritos de a g u a ) ; and what is still m o r e remarkable, in lizards (lagartos) with only t w o feet. T h e whole o f this c o u n t r y , which is very accessible b e t w e e n the R i o Cuchivero and the strait o f Baraguan, is w o r t h y o f b e i n g visited b y a well-informed zoologist. T h e lagarto destitute o f hinder extremities, is perhaps a species o f Siren, different from the Siren lacertina o f Carolina. If it were a saurian, a real Bimanis ( C h i r o t e s , C u v . ) , the natives Would not have compared it to a lizard. Besides the arrau turtles, o f which I have in a former place given a detailed account, an innumerable quantity o f land tortoises also, called morocoi, are f o u n d o n the banks o f the O r i n o c o , between Uruana and Encaramada. D u r i n g the great heats o f summer, in the time o f d r o u g h t , these animals remain Without taking food, hidden beneath stones, o r in the holes they have dug. They issue from their shelter and begin to eat, only when the humidity o f the first rains penetrates into the earth. T h e terekay, or tajelu turtle which lives in fresh water, has the same habits. I have already s p o k e n o f the summer-sleep o f some animals o f the tropics. As the natives k n o w the holes in which the tortoises sleep amidst the dried lands, they get out a great n u m b e r at o n c e , b y d i g g i n g fifteen o r eighteen inches deep. F a t h e r G i l i says that this operation, which he had seen, is not without danger, because serpents often bury themselves in s u m m e r With the terekays. F r o m the island o f C u c u r u p a r u , to the capital o f Guiana, c o m m o n l y called A n g o s t u r a , we were but nine days o n the water. T h e distance is somewhat less than n i n e t y five leagues. W e seldom slept on s h o r e ; but the t o r m e n t o f the mosquitos diminished in proportion as we advanced. W e landed on the 8th o f d u n e at a farm ( H a t o de San Rafael del C a p u c h i n o ) opposite the m o u t h of the B i o A p u r e . I obtained some good observations o f latitude a n d longitude.* Having t w o mouths before taken horary angles * I had found, on the 4th of April, for the Boca del Rio Apure (on the western bank of the Orinoco), the latitude 7째 36' 30", the longitude 69째 7' 3 0 " ; on the 8th of June I found, for the Hato del Capuchino (on


512

DISTANT VIEW OF THE LLANOS.

o n the hank opposite C a p u c h i n o , these observations were important for determining the rate o f my c h r o n o m e t e r , and c o n n e c t i n g the situations on the O r i n o c o with those on the shore o f Venezuela. T h e situation o f this farm, being at the point where the O r i n o c o changes its course, (which had p r e viously been from south to north,) and runs from west to east, is extremely picturesque. G r a n i t e r o c k s rise like islets amidst vast meadows. From their tops we discerned towards the north the Llanos o f Calabozo b o u n d i n g the horizon. We had been so long accustomed to the aspect o f forests, that this view made a powerful impression on us. T h e steppes after sunset assume a tint o f greenish gray. T h e visual ray b e i n g intercepted only by the rotundity o f the earth, the stars seemed t o rise as from the b o s o m o f the ocean, and the most experienced mariner would have fancied himself placed o n a projecting capo o f a r o c k y coast. O u r host was a F r e n c h m a n , who lived amidst his numerous herds. Though he had forgotten his native language, he seemed pleased to learn that we came from bis c o u n t r y , which he had left forty years before ; and he wished to retain us fur some days at his farm. T h e small t o w n s o f Caycara and Cabruta were o n l y a few miles distant from the f a r m ; but during part of the year our host was in c o m p l e t e solitude. T h e Capuchino b e c o m e s an island by the inundations o f the A pure and the O r i n o c o , and the c o m m u n i c a t i o n with the neighbouring farms can be kept up only by means o f a boat. T h e horned cattle then seek the higher g r o u n d s which extend on the south toward the chain o f the mountains o f Encaramada. This granitic chain is intersected by vallies, which contain magnetic sands (granulary oxidulated i r o n ) , o w i n g no doubt to the decomposition o f some amphibolic o r O n the morning o f the 9th o f J u n e we met a great n u m b e r o f boats laden with merchandize sailing up the O r i n o c o , in o r d e r to enter the A pure. This is a commercial road much frequented between A n g o s t u r a and the port o f T o r u n o s in the province o f o f Varinas. O u r fellow-traveller. Don Nicolas Soto, brother in law o f the governor o f Varinas, took the same course, to return to his family. At the the eastern bank of the Orinoco), the latitude 7째 37' 45", the longitude 69째 5' 30".

ch


PUERTO SEDENO.

513

period o f the high waters, several m o n t h s are lost in c o n t e n d i n g with the currents o f the O r i n o c o , t h e A p u r e , and the Rio de Santo D o m i n g o . T h e b o a t m e n are forced to carry o u t ropes to the trunks o f trees, and thus warp their canoes u p . I n the great sinuosities o f t h e river w h o l e days are s o m e times passed without advancing more than t w o or three hundred toises. Since m y return to E u r o p e , the c o m m u n i cations between the m o u t h o f the O r i n o c o and the provinces situated on the eastern slope of the mountains o f Merida, P a m p l o n a , and Santa FĂŠ de B o g o t a , have b e c o m e m o r e a c t i v e ; and it may he hoped that steamboats will facilitate these long voyages on the L o w e r O r i n o c o , the P o r t u g u e s e , the B i o Santo D o m i n g o , the Orivante, the M e t a , and the Guaviare. Magazines o f cleft wood might be formed, as o n the banks o f the great rivers o f the United States, sheltering them under sheds. This precaution w o u l d b e indispensible, as, in the country through which we passed, it is n o t easy to procure dry fuel lit to keep up a fire beneath the boiler o f a steam-engine. W e disembarked below San Rafael del Capuchino, on the right, at the Villa de Caycara, near a cove called P u e r t o SedeĂąo. T h e V i l l a is merely a few houses grouped t o gether. Alta Gracia, la Ciudad de la Piedra, Real C o r o n a , B o r b o n , in short all the t o w n s o r villas lying b e t w e e n the mouth o f the A p u r e and A n g o s t u r a , are equally miserable. The presidents o f the missions, and the governors o f the p r o vinces, were formerly accustomed to demand the privileges o f villas and ciudades at M a d r i d , the m o m e n t the first foundations o f a church were laid. This was a means o f persuading the ministry, that the colonies were a u g m e n t i n g rapidly in population and prosperity. Sculpt tired figures o f the sun and m o o n , such as I have already mentioned, are found near Caycara, at the Cerro del Tirano.* I t is " the work of the, old people" (that is o f our fathers), say the natives. O n a rock * The tyrant after whom these mountains are named is not Lope de Aguirre, but probably, as the name of the neighbouring cove seems to prove, the celebrated conquistador Antonio Sedeno, who, after the expedition of Herrera, sought to penetrate by the Orinoco to the Rio Meta, He was in a state of rebellion against the audiencia of Santo Domingo. I know not how Sedino came to Caycara : for historians relate that he was poisoned on the banks of the Rio Tisnado, one of the tributary streams of the Portuguesa. VOL. II. 2 L


514

ALTA GRACIA

more distant from the shore, and called T e c o m a , the s y m bolic figures are found, it is said, at the height o f a hundred feet. T h e Indians knew heretofore a road, that led by land from Caycara to Demerara and Essequibo. O n the northern bank o f t h e O r i n o c o , o p p o s i t e Caycara, is the mission of Cabruta, founded by the Jesuit Rotella, in 1740, as an advanced post against the Caribs. An Indian village, known by the name o f Cabritu,* had existed on the same spot for several ages. At the time when this little place became a Christian settlement, it was believed to be situate in 5° latitude, o r two degrees forty minutes more t o the south than I found it by direct observations made at San Rafael, and at la Boca del Rio A p u r e . N o idea was then conceived o f the direct ion o f a road that could lead by land to N u e v a Valencia and Caracas, which w e r e s u p p o s e d t o b e at an i m m e n s e distance. T h e merit o f having first crossed the Manos, to g o to Cabruta, from the Villa do San Juan Baptista del Pao belongs to a w o m a n . father G i b relates, that Doùa Maria Bargas was so d e v o t e d t o t h e Jesuits, that she attempted herself to discover the way to the missions. She was seen with astonishment to arrive at Cabruta from the north. She took up her abode near the fathers o f St. Ignatius, and died in their settlements o n the banks o f the O r i n o c o . Since that period, the northern part o f the Llanos has been considerably p e o p l e d ; and the road leading from the valleys o f A r a g u a by Calabozo to San Fernando de A p u r e and Cabruta, is much frequented. The c h i e f o f the famous expedition o f tho boundaries made choice o f the latter place in l 7 5 4 , to establish dock-yards for building t he vessels necessary for c o n v e y i n g his troops intended for the Upper O r i n o c o . T h e little mountain, that rises northeast o f Cabrut a, can be discerned from afar in the steppes, and serves as a landmark for travellers. W e embarked in the m o r n i n g at C a y c a r a ; and driving with the current o f the O r i n o c o , we soon passed the mouth o f the Rio C u c h i v e r o , which according to ancient tradition is the country o f the Aikeambenanos, or women without husbands ami we there reached the paltry village o f Alta Gracia, which is called a Spanish town. It was near this place, that ;

A cacique of Cabritu received Alonzo de Herrera at his dwelling, on the expedition undertaken by Herrera for ascending the Orinoco in 1535.


515

CRUELTY TO A SLAVE.

J o s e do Iturriaga founded the Pueblo de Ciudad Peal, which still figures on the most modern m a p s , t h o u g h it has n o t existed for fifty years past, on account o f the insalubrity o f its situation. B e y o n d the point where the O r i n o c o turns t o the east, forests are constantly seen on the right bank, and t h e llanos o r steppes o f V e n e z u e l a o n the left. T h e forests which border the river, are not however so thick as those o f the Upper O r i n o c o . T h e population, which a u g m e n t s perceptibly as you advance toward the capital, comprises but few Indians, and is composed chiefly o f whites, negroes, and men o f m i x e d descent. T h e n u m b e r o f the negroes is n o t great; but here, as everywhere else, the poverty o f their masters does not t e n d t o p r o c u r e for t h e m more humane treatment. A n inhabitant o f Caycara had j u s t b e e n c o n d e m n e d t o four years' i m p r i s o n m e n t , and a fine o f o n e h u n dred piastres, for having, in a paroxysm o f rage, tied a negress by the legs to the tail of his horse, and dragged her at full gal'loo through the savannah, till she expired. I t is gratifying to record that the Audiencia was generally blamed in the c o u n t r y , for not having punished more severely so atrocious an action. Yet some few persons, who pretended to be the most enlightened and most sagacious o f the c o m munity, deemed the punishment o f a white centrary t o sound policy, at the moment when the blacks o f St. D o m i n g o were in c o m p l e t e insurrection. Since I left those countries, civil dissensions have put arms into the hands o f the slaves; and fatal e x p e r i e n c e has led the inhabitants o f V e n e z u e l a t o regret that they refused t o listen t o D o n D o m i n g o T o v a r , and other right-thinking men, w h o , as early as the year 1795, lifted up their voices in the cabildo o f Caracas, t o prevent the introduction o f blacks, and to p r o p o s e means that might ammeliorate their c o n d i t i o n . A f t e r having slept on the 10th o f J u n e in an island in the middle of the river, (I believe that called Acaru by Father C a u l i n ) , we passed the m o u t h o f the Rio Caura. T h i s , t h e Aruy and the Carony, are the largest tributary streams Which the O r i n o c o receives o n its right bank. A l l the Christian settlements are near the mouth o f the river; and the villages of San Pedro, Aripao, Urbani, and Guaraguaraico, succeed each other at the distance o f a few leagues. T h e firts and the most populous, contains only about t w o 2

L

2


516

VALLEY OF CAURA.

hundred and fifty souls. San L u i s de Guaraguaraico is a colony o f negroes, some freed and others fugitives from Essequibo. This c o l o n y merits the particular attention o f the Spanish G o v e r n m e n t , for it can never he sufficiently r e c o m m e n d e d to endeavour to attach the slaves to the soil, and suffer them to enjoy as farmers the fruits o f their agricultural labours. T h e land on the Caura, for the most part a virgin soil, is extremely fertile. There are pasturages for more than 15,000 beasts; but the poor inhabitants have neither horses nor horned cattle. More than five-sixths o f the banks o f the Caura are either desert, or occupied by independent and savage tribes. T h e bed o f the river is twice c h o k e d u p b y r o c k s : these obstructions occasion the famous Raudales o f M u r a and o f Para or Paru, the latter o f which has a Portage, because it cannot be passed by canoes. At the time o f the expedition o f the b o u n daries, a small fort was erected on the northern cataract, that o f M u r a ; and the governor, Don Manuel C e n t u r i o n , gave the name o f Ciudad de San Carlos t o a few houses, which s o m e families consisting o f whites and mulattoes, had c o n t r u c t e d near the fort. South o f the cataract o f Para, at the confluence o f the Caura and the Erevato, the mission o f San Luis was then situated; and a road by land led thence to Angostura, the capital o f the province. All these attempts at civilization have been fruitless. N o village now exists above the Raudal o f M u r a ; and here, as in many other parts o f the c o l o n i c s , the natives may be said to have reconquered the c o u n t r y from the Spaniards. T h e valley of Caura may b e c o m e o n e day o r other highly interesting from the value of its p r o d u c t i o n s , and the c o m m u n i c a t i o n s which it affords with the Rio Ventuari, the Carony, and the C u y u n i . I have shown above the importance of the four tributary streams which the O r i n o c o receives from the mountains o f Parima. Near the mouth o f the Caura. between the villages of San Pedro do Alcantara and San Francisco de Aripao, a small lake o f four hundred toises in diameter was formed in 1790, by the sinking o f the g r o u n d , c o n s e q u e n t on an earthquake. It was a portion o f the forest o f Aripao, which sunk to the depth of eighty or a hundred feet below the level o f the n e i g h b o u r i n g land.

T h e trees remained g r e e n for several


RAUDAL OF CAMISETA.

517

months ; and some o f t h e m , it was believed, c o n t i n u e d t o push forth leaves beneath the water. This p h e n o m e n o n is the m o r e w o r t h y o f attention, as the soil o f these countries is probably granitic. I d o u b t the secondary formations o f the Llanos b e i n g c o n t i n u e d southward as far as the valley o f Caura. O n the 11th o f J u n e we landed o n the right bank o f t h e O r i n o c o at Puerto de los Frailes, at the distance o f three leagues above the Ciudad de la Piedra, to take altitudes o f the sun. T h e longitude o f this p o i n t is 67° 2 6 ' 2 0 " , o r 1° 4 1 ' east o f the mouth o f the A pure. Farther o n , b e t w e e n the t o w n s o f La Piedra and M u i t a c o , o r Real C o r o n a , are the T o r n o and B o c a del Infierno, t w o p o i n t s formerly dreaded by travellers. T h e O r i n o c o suddenly changes its d i r e c t i o n ; it flows first east, then n o r t h - n o r t h - w e s t , and then again east. A little above the Caùo M a r a p i c h e , which o p e n s on the northern bank, a very l o n g island divides the river into t w o branches. W e passed on the south o f this island without difficulty; northward, a chain o f small r o c k s , half covered at high water, forms whirlpools and rapids. This is la Boca del Infierno, and the Randal de Camiseta. T h e first expeditions o f D i e g o Ordaz ( 1 5 3 1 ) and A l o n z o de Herrera ( 1 5 3 5 ) have given celebrity to this bar. T h e C r o a t Cataracts o f the A t u r e s and M a y p u r e s were then u n k n o w n ; and t h e c l u m s y vessels (vergantines) in which travellers persisted in g o i n g up the river, rendered the passage through the rapids extremely difficult. A t present no apprehension is felt in ascending o r descending the O r i n o c o , at any season, from its m o u t h as far as t h e confluence o f the A p u r e and the M e t a . T h e o n l y falls o f water in this space are those o f T o r n o o r Camiseta, Marimara, and Cariven or Carichana Vieja. Neither of these three obstacles is to be feared with experienced Indian pilots. I dwell on these hydrographic details, because a great political and commercial interest is n o w c o n n e c t e d with the c o m m u n i c a t i o n s between A n g o s t u r a and the banks o f the Meta and the A p u r e , t w o rivers that lead to the eastern side o f the Cordilleras o f N e w Grenada, T h e navigation from the mouth o f the L o w e r O r i n o c o to the province o f Varinas is difficult only on account o f the current. The bed o f the river nowhere presents obstacles more difficult to


518

VELOCITY

OF

THE

CURRENT.

b e s u r m o u n t e d than those o f the D a n u b e b e t w e e n V i e n n a and Linz. W e meet with no great bars, no real cataracts, until w e g e t above the Meta. T h e U p p e r O r i n o c o , t h e r e lore, with t h e Cassiquiare and the Rio N e g r o , forms a particular system o f rivers, where the active industry o f A n g o s tura and the shore o f Caracas will remain long u n k n o w n . I obtained horary angles o f the sun in an island in the midst of the Horn del I n f i r n o , where we had set up our instruments. T h e longitude o f this point according to the c h r o n o m e t e r is 67° 10' 31". I attempted to determine the magnetic dip and intensity, but was prevented by a heavy storm o f rain. As the sky again became serene in the aftern o o n , we lay d o w n to rest that night on a vast beach, on t h e southern bank o f the O r i n o c o , nearly in the meridian o f the little town o f Muitaco, or Real Corona. I found the latitude b y three stars t o be 8° 0 ' 2 6 " , and the longitude 67° 5' 1 9 " . When the Observantin m o n k s in 1752 made their first entradas on the territory o f the Caribs, t h e y constructed on this spot a small fort. T h e proximity o f the lofty m o u n tains of Araguacais renders M u i t a c o one o f the most healthy places on the L o w e r O r i n o c o . There Iturriaga took up his abode in 1756, to repose alter the fatigues o f the expedition o f the boundaries ; and as he attributed his recovery to this h o t rather than humid climate, the town, or more properly t h e village, o f Real Corona took the name of Pueblo del Puerto sano. G o i n g down the O r i n o c o more to t h e east, we left the mouth o f the Rio Pao on the north, and that o f the Arui on the south. The latter river, w h i c h is somewhat considerable, is often mentioned by Raleigh. T h e current o f the O r i n o c o diminished in velocity as we advanced. I measured several times a base along the beach, to ascertain the time taken by floating bodies In traversing a known distance. A b o v e Alta Gracia, near the mouth of the Rio Ujape, I had found the velocity o f the O r i n o c o 23 feet in a second; between M u i t a c o and Borbon it was only 17 foot. T h e barometric observations made in the n e i g h b o u r ing steppes prove t h e small s l o p e o f the ground from the longitude o f 69° to the eastern coast o f G u i a n a . W e found in this c o u n t r y , on the right bank o f the O r i n o c o , small format ions o f primitive grünstein, superimposed on granite (perhaps even embedded in the r o c k ) . W e saw between


ARRIVAL

AT

ANGOSTURA.

519

M u i t a c o and the island o f Ceiba a hill entirely composed o f balls with c o n c e n t r i c layers, in which we perceived a close mixture o f hornblende and feldspar, with some traces o f pyrites. T h e gr端nstein resembles that in the vicinity of C a r a c a s ; but it w a s impossible to ascertain the position of a formation which appeared t o m e to be of the same age as the granite o f Parima. M u i t a c o was the last spot where w e slept in the open air on t h e shore of the O r i n o c o : we proceeded along the river t w o nights more before we reached A n g o s t u r a , which terminated o u r voyage. It would be difficult for me to express the satisfaction we felt on landing at A n g o s t u r a , the capital o f Spanish Guiana. The inconveniences endured at sea in small vessels are trivial in comparison with those that arc suffered under a b u r n i n g sky, surrounded by swarms o f mosquitos, and lying stretched in a canoe, without the possibility o f taking the least bodily exercise. In seventy-five days we had performed a passage o f five hundred leagues (twenty to a d e g r e e ) on the five great rivers, A p u r e , O r i n o c o , A t a b a p o , Rio N e g r o , and Cassiq u i a r e ; and in this vast extent we had found but a very small n u m b e r o f inhabited places. A f t e r the life we had led in the woods, our dress was not in the very best order, y e t nevertheless M. Bonpland and I hastened to present ourselves t o D o n F e l i p e de Y n c i a r t e , t h e g o v e r n o r of t h e province o f Guiana. H e received us in the m o s t cordial m a n ner, and lodged us in the house o f the secretary o f the Intendencia. Coming from an almost desert c o u n t r y , we were struck with the bustle o f the t o w n , though it contained only six thousand inhabitants. We admired the conveniences which industry and c o m m e r c e furnish t o civilized man. H u m b l e dwellings appeared to us magnificent; and every person with whom we conversed, seemed to b e e n d o w e d with superior intelligence. Long privations give a value t o the smallest e n j o y m e n t s ; and I c a n n o t express the pleasure we felt, when we saw for the first time wheaten bread o n the g o v e r n o r ' s table. Sensations of this sort are d o u b t l e s s familiar to all who have made distant v o y a g e s . A painful circumstance obliged us t o s o j o u r n a w h o l e month in the t o w n of Angostura. W e felt ourselves on the first days after our arrival tired and enfeebled, but in perfect health. M . Bonpland began t o examine the small n u m b e r


520

ATTACK OF ILLNESS.

of plants which he had been able to save from the influence of the damp c l i m a t e ; and I was o c c u p i e d in s e t t l i n g by astronomical observations the longitude and latitude of the capital,* as well as the dip of the magnetic needle. These labours were soon interrupted. W e were both attacked almost on the same day by a disorder, which with my fellowtraveller took the character of a debilitating fever. A t this period the air was in a slate of the greatest salubrity at A n gostura; and as the only mulatto servant we had brought from Cumana felt symptoms of the same disorder, it was suspected that we had imbibed the germs of typhus in the damp forests of Cassiquiare. It is common enough for travellers to feel no effects from miasmata till, on arriving in a purer atmosphere, they begin to enjoy repose. A certain excitement of the mental powers may suspend for some t i m e the action of pathogenic causes. Our mulatto servant having been much more exposed to the rains than we were, his disorder increased with frightful rapidity. His prostration of strength was excessive, and on the ninth day his death was announced to us. He was however only in a state of swooning, which lasted several hours, and was followed by a salutary crisis. I was attacked at the same time with a violent fit of fever, during which I was made to take a mixture of honey and hark (the cortex .Angosturæ) : a remedy much extolled in the country by the Capuchin missionaries. The intensity of the fever augmented, but it left m e on the following day. M. Bonpland remained in a very alarming state, which during several weeks caused us the most serious imquietude. Fortunately he preserved sufficient self-possession to prescribe; for himself; and he preferred gentler remedies, better adapted to his constitution. The fever was continual; and, as almost always happens within the tropics, it was accompanied by dysentery. M. Bonpland displayed that courage and mildness of character, which never forsook him in the most trying situations. I was agitated by sad presages; for I remembered that the botanist Lœfling, a pupil of Linnæus, died not far from Angostura, near the banks of the Carony, a victim of his * Ifoundthelatitude of Santo Tomas de la Nueva Guiana, commonly called Angostura, or the: Strait, near the cathedral, 8° 8' 11", the long. 66° 15' 21".


MELANCHOLY FOREBODINGS.

521

zeal for the progress o f natural history. W e had not y e t passed a year in t h e torrid z o n e ; and m y t o o faithful memory conjured u p everything I had read in E u r o p e o n the dangers o f t h e atmosphere inhaled in the forests. Instead o f g o i n g up the O r i n o c o , w e might have sojourned s o m e m o n t h s in the temperate and salubrious climate o f the Sierra N e v a d a de M e r i d a . I t was I w h o had c h o s e n the path o f the r i v e r s ; and the danger o f m y fellow-traveller presented itself to m y m i n d as the fatal c o n s e q u e n c e o f this imprudent c h o i c e . A f t e r having attained in a few days an extraordinary degree o f exacerbation, the fever assumed a less alarming character. T h e inflammation o f the intestines y i e l d e d to t h e use o f emollients obtained from malvaceous plants. The sidas and t h e melochias have singularly active properties in the torrid zone. T h e recovery o f the patient however was extremely slow, as it always happens with E u r o p e a n s w h o are n o t thoroughly seasoned to the climate. T h e period o f the rains drew n e a r ; and in order t o return t o the coast o f C u m a n a , it was necessary again to cross the L l a n o s , w h e r e , amidst half-inundated lands, it is rare t o find shelter, o r any other f o o d than meat dried in the sun. T o avoid e x p o s i n g M . B o n p l a n d to a dangerous relapse, we resolved t o stay at A n g o s t u r a till the 10th o f July. W e spent part o f this time at a neighbouring plantation, where mango-trees and bread-fruit trees* were cultivated. T h e latter had attained in the tenth year a height o f m o r e than forty feet. We measured several leaves o f the A r t o c a r p u s , that were three feet long and eighteen inches broad, remarkable d i m e n s i o n s in a plant o f the family o f the d i c o t y l e d o n s . * Artocarpus incisa. Father Andujar, Capuchin missionary of the province of Caracas, zealous in the pursuit of natural history, has introduced the bread-fruit tree from Spanish Guiana at Varinas, and thence into the kingdom of New Grenada. Thus the western coasts of America washed by the Pacific, receive from theE n g l i s hsettlementsin the West Indies a production of the Friendly Islands.

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Sandford and Merton. By THOMAS DAY. EightfineEngravingsby Anemlay. 2s. Taylor's El Dorado; or, Pictures of the Gold Region, 2 vols 1s. each.

Willis's (N. Parker) People I have Met; or, Pictures of Society, and People of Mark. 1s. 6d.

—Convalescent

; or, Rambles

and Adventures, 1s. 6d.

—Life

Here and There ; or,

Sketches of Society and Adventure. 1S. 6d.

—Hurry-graphs

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of Scenery, Celebrities, and Society.1s.6d.

—Pencillings

by the Way.

Four fine plates, 2s. 6d.