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Title: A narrative of travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro, : with an account of the native tribes, and observations on the climate, geology, and natural history of the Amazon valley
Author: Wallace, Alfred R.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A narrative of travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro, : with an account of the native tribes, and observations on the climate, geology, and natural history of the Amazon valley" ***


  Hullmandel & Walton, Lithog.


                          NARRATIVE OF TRAVELS
                                 ON THE
                         AMAZON AND RIO NEGRO,
                            WITH AN ACCOUNT
                                 OF THE
                             NATIVE TRIBES,
                     HISTORY OF THE AMAZON VALLEY.

                           ALFRED R. WALLACE.

                     With a Map and Illustrations.


                               PRINTED BY
                         LINCOLN’S INN FIELDS.


An earnest desire to visit a tropical country, to behold the luxuriance
of animal and vegetable life said to exist there, and to see with my
own eyes all those wonders which I had so much delighted to read of in
the narratives of travellers, were the motives that induced me to break
through the trammels of business and the ties of home, and start for

    “Some far land where endless summer reigns.”

My attention was directed to Pará and the Amazon by Mr. Edwards’s
little book, ‘A Voyage up the Amazon,’ and I decided upon going there,
both on account of its easiness of access and the little that was known
of it compared with most other parts of South America.

I proposed to pay my expenses by making collections in Natural History,
and I have been enabled to do so; and the pleasures I have found in
the contemplation of the strange and beautiful objects continually met
with, and the deep interest arising from the study in their native
wilds of the varied races of mankind, have been such as to determine my
continuing in the pursuit I have entered upon, and to cause me to look
forward with pleasure to again visiting the wild and luxuriant scenery
and the sparkling life of the tropics.

In the following pages I have given a narrative of my journeys and
of the impressions excited at the time. The first and last portions
are from my journals, with little alteration; but all the notes
made during two years, with the greater part of my collections and
sketches, were lost by the burning of the ship on my homeward voyage.
From the fragmentary notes and papers which I saved I have written
the intermediate portion, and the four last chapters on the Natural
History of the country and on the Indian tribes, which, had I saved all
my materials, were intended to form a separate work on the Physical
History of the Amazon.

Several vocabularies of Indian languages, with some remarks on them
kindly furnished me by Dr. R. G. Latham, will be found in an Appendix.

In conclusion, I trust that the great loss of materials which
I have suffered, and which every naturalist and traveller will
fully appreciate, may be taken into consideration, to explain the
inequalities and imperfections of the narrative, and the meagreness
of the other part of the work, so little proportionate to what might
be expected from a four years’ residence in such an interesting and
little-known country.

  _London, October, 1853._


                              CHAPTER I.


Arrival at Pará—Appearance of the city and its environs—The
  inhabitants and their costume—Vegetation—Sensitive
  plants—Lizards—Ants and other insects—Birds—Climate—Food of the
  inhabitants                                                          1

                              CHAPTER II.


Festas—Portuguese and Brazilian currency—M. Borlaz’
  estate—Walk to the rice-mills—The virgin forest, its
  plants and insects—Milk-tree—Saw and rice-mills—Caripé or
  pottery-tree—India-rubber tree—Flowers and trees in blossom—Saüba
  ants, wasps, and chegoes—Journey by water to Magoary—The
  monkeys—The commandante at Laranjeiras—Vampire bats—The
  timber-trade—Boa constrictor and Sloth                              18

                             CHAPTER III.

                            THE TOCANTINS.

Canoe, stores, and crew—River Mojú—Igaripé Miri—Cametá—Senhor Gomez
  and his establishment—Search for a dinner—Jambouassú—Polite
  letter—Bãiao and its inhabitants—A swarm of wasps—Enter the
  rocky district—The Mutuca—Difficulty of getting men—A village
  without houses—Catching an alligator—Duck-shooting—Aroyas, and
  the Falls—A nocturnal concert—Blue Macaws—Turtles’ eggs—A slight
  accident—Capabilities of the country—Return to Pará                 50

                              CHAPTER IV.

                          MEXIANA AND MARAJÓ.

Visit to Olería—Habits of Birds—Voyage to
  Mexiana—Arrival—Birds—Description of the
  Island—Population—Slaves, their treatment and habits—Journey to
  the Lake—Beautiful stream—Fish and Birds at the Lake—Catching
  Alligators—Strange sounds, and abundance of Animal Life—Walk
  back—Jaguar meat—Visit to Jungcal in Marajó—Embarking cattle—Ilha
  das Frechas                                                         82

                              CHAPTER V.

                      THE GUAMÁ AND CAPIM RIVERS.

Natterer’s hunter, Luiz—Birds and insects—Prepare for a
  journey—First sight of the Piroróco—St. Domingo—Senhor
  Calistro—Slaves and slavery—Anecdote—Cane-field—Journey into the
  forest—Game—Explanation of the Piroróco—Return to Pará—Bell-birds
  and yellow parrots                                                 112

                              CHAPTER VI.

                       SANTAREM AND MONTEALEGRE.

Leave Pará—Enter the Amazon—Its peculiar features—Arrive
  at Santarem—The town and its inhabitants—Voyage to
  Montealegre—Mosquito plague and its remedy—Journey to
  the Serras—A cattle estate—Rocks, picture-writings, and
  cave—The _Victoria regia_—Mandiocca fields—A festa—Return to
  Santarem—Beautiful insects—Curious tidal phenomenon—Leave
  Santarem—Obydos—Villa Nova—A kind priest—Serpa—Christmas Day on
  the Amazon                                                         134

                             CHAPTER VII.


Appearance of the Rio Negro—The city of Barra, its trade
  and its inhabitants—Journey up the Rio Negro—The Lingoa
  Geral—The umbrella bird—Mode of life of the Indians—Return
  to Barra—Strangers in the city—Visit to the Solimões—The
  Gapó—Manaquerey—Country life—Curl-crested Araçaris—Vultures
  and Onças—Tobacco growing and manufacture—The Cow-fish—Senhor
  Brandão—A fishing party with Senhor Henrique—Letters from England  163

                             CHAPTER VIII.

                         THE UPPER RIO NEGRO.

Quit Barra for the Upper Rio Negro—Canoe and Cargo—Great width of
  the river—Carvoeiro and Barcellos—Granite rocks—Castanheiro—A
  polite old gentleman—São Jozé—A new language—The cataracts—São
  Gabriel—Nossa Senhora da Guia—Senhor L. and his family—Visit
  to the river Cobati—An Indian village—The Serra—Cocks of the
  rock—Return to Guia—Frei Jozé dos Santos Innocentos                194

                              CHAPTER IX.


Leave Guía—Marabitánas—Serra de Cocoí—Enter Venezuela—São
  Carlos—Pass the Cassiquiare—Antonio Dias—Indian
  shipbuilders—Feather-work—Maróa and Pimichín—A black
  Jaguar—Poisonous serpents—Fishing—Walk to Javíta—Residence
  there—Indian road-makers—Language and customs—A description of
  Javíta—Runaway Indians—Collections at Javíta—Return to Tómo—A
  domestic broil—Marabitánas and its inhabitants—Reach Guía          231

                              CHAPTER X.


Rapid Current—An Indian Malocca—The Inmates—A Festival—Paint
  and ornaments—Illness—São Jeronymo—Passing the
  Cataracts—Jauarité—The Tushaúa Calistro—Singular
  Palm—Birds—Cheap provisions—Edible Ants, and Earthworms—A
  grand dance—Feather ornaments—The snake-dance—The Capí—A State
  cigar—Ananárapicóma—Fish—Chegoes—Pass down the Falls—Tame
  Birds—Orchids—Piums—Eating dirt—Poisoning—Return to Guia—Manoel
  Joaquim—Annoying delays                                            273

                              CHAPTER XI.

                           ON THE RIO NEGRO.

Difficulties of starting—Descending the Falls—Catching an
  Alligator—Tame Parrots—A fortnight in Barra—Frei Jozé’s
  diplomacy—Pickling a Cow-fish—A river storm—Brazilian
  veracity—Wanawáca—Productiveness of the country—A large Snake—São
  Gabriel—São Joaquim—Fever and Ague                                 316

                             CHAPTER XII.

                     THE CATARACTS OF THE UAUPÉS.

Start for the Uaupés—São Jeronymo and Jauarité—Indians run
  away—Numerous cataracts—Reach Carurú—Difficult passage—Painted
  Malocca—Devil Music—More falls—Ocokí—Curious rocks—Reach
  Uarucapurí—Cobeu Indians—Reach Mucúra—An Indian’s house
  and family—Height above the sea—Tenente Jesuino—Return to
  Uarucapurí—Indian prisoners—Voyage to Jauarité—Correcting the
  calendar—Delay at São Jeronymo                                     341

                             CHAPTER XIII.

                      SÃO JERONYMO TO THE DOWNS.

Voyage down the Rio Negro—Arrive at Barra—Obtaining a
  passport—State of the city—Portuguese and Brazilian
  enterprise—System of credit—Trade—Immorality, and its
  causes—Leave Barra—A storm on the Amazon—Salsaparilha—A tale
  about Death—Pará—The yellow fever—Sail for England—Ship takes
  fire—Ten days in the boats—Get picked up—Heavy gales—Short of
  provisions—Storm in the Channel—Arrive at Deal                     369

                             CHAPTER XIV.


                              CHAPTER XV.

VEGETATION OF THE AMAZON VALLEY                                      432

                             CHAPTER XVI.


                             CHAPTER XVII.

ON THE ABORIGINES OF THE AMAZON                                      476


VOCABULARIES OF AMAZONIAN LANGUAGES                                  521


  _of the_
  _and the Northern part

                                 ON THE
                         AMAZON AND RIO NEGRO.

                              CHAPTER I.


  Arrival at Pará—Appearance of the city and its environs—The
    inhabitants and their costume—Vegetation—Sensitive
    plants—Lizards—Ants and other insects—Birds—Climate—Food of the

It was on the morning of the 26th of May, 1848, that after a short
passage of twenty-nine days from Liverpool, we came to anchor opposite
the southern entrance to the River Amazon, and obtained our first
view of South America. In the afternoon the pilot came on board, and
the next morning we sailed with a fair wind up the river, which for
fifty miles could only be distinguished from the ocean by its calmness
and discoloured water, the northern shore being invisible, and the
southern at a distance of ten or twelve miles. Early on the morning
of the 28th we again anchored; and when the sun rose in a cloudless
sky, the city of Pará, surrounded by the dense forest, and overtopped
by palms and plantains, greeted our sight, appearing doubly beautiful
from the presence of those luxuriant tropical productions in a state
of nature, which we had so often admired in the conservatories of Kew
and Chatsworth. The canoes passing with their motley crews of Negroes
and Indians, the vultures soaring overhead or walking lazily about the
beach, and the crowds of swallows on the churches and house-tops, all
served to occupy our attention till the Custom-house officers visited
us, and we were allowed to go on shore.

Pará contains about 15,000 inhabitants, and does not cover a great
extent of ground; yet it is the largest city on the greatest river in
the world, the Amazon, and is the capital of a province equal in extent
to all Western Europe. It is the residence of a President appointed by
the Emperor of Brazil, and of a Bishop whose see extends two thousand
miles into the interior, over a country peopled by countless tribes of
unconverted Indians. The province of Pará is the most northern portion
of Brazil, and though it is naturally the richest part of that vast
empire, it is the least known, and at present of the least commercial

The appearance of the city from the river, which is the best view
that can be obtained of it, is not more foreign than that of Calais
or Boulogne. The houses are generally white, and several handsome
churches and public buildings raise their towers and domes above
them. The vigour of vegetation is everywhere apparent. The ledges and
mouldings support a growth of small plants, and from the wall-tops
and window-openings of the churches often spring luxuriant weeds and
sometimes small trees. Above and below and behind the city, as far as
the eye can reach, extends the unbroken forest; all the small islands
in the river are wooded to the water’s edge, and many sand-banks
flooded at high-water are covered with shrubs and small trees, whose
tops only now appeared above the surface. The general aspect of
the trees was not different from those of Europe, except where the
“feathery palm-trees” raised their graceful forms; but our imaginations
were busy picturing the wonderful scenes to be beheld in their dark
recesses, and we longed for the time when we should be at liberty to
explore them.

On landing, we proceeded to the house of Mr. Miller, the consignee of
our vessel, by whom we were most kindly received, and invited to remain
till we could settle ourselves as we should find most convenient. We
were here introduced to most of the English and American residents, who
are all engaged in trade, and are few in number. For the four following
days we were occupied in walking in the neighbourhood of the city,
presenting our passports and obtaining license to reside, familiarizing
ourselves with the people and the vegetation, and endeavouring to
obtain a residence fitted for our pursuits. Finding that this could
not be immediately done, we removed to Mr. Miller’s “rosinha,” or
country-house, situated about half a mile from the city, which he
kindly gave us the use of till we could find more convenient quarters.
Beds and bedsteads are not wanted here, as cotton woven hammocks are
universally used for sleeping in, and are very convenient on account
of their portability. These, with a few chairs and tables and our
boxes, are all the furniture we had or required. We hired an old Negro
man named Isidora for a cook and servant of all work, and regularly
commenced housekeeping, learning Portuguese, and investigating the
natural productions of the country.

My previous wanderings had been confined to England and a short trip
on the Continent, so that everything here had the charm of perfect
novelty. Nevertheless, on the whole I was disappointed. The weather was
not so hot, the people were not so peculiar, the vegetation was not so
striking, as the glowing picture I had conjured up in my imagination,
and had been brooding over during the tedium of a sea-voyage. And this
is almost always the case with everything but a single view or some one
definite object. A piece of fine scenery, as beheld from a given point,
can scarcely be overdrawn; and there are many such, which will not
disappoint even the most expectant beholder. It is the general effect
that strikes at once and commands the whole attention: the beauties
have not to be sought, they are all before you. With a district or a
country the case is very different. There are individual objects of
interest, which have to be sought out and observed and appreciated. The
charms of a district grow upon one in proportion as the several parts
come successively into view, and in proportion as our education and
habits lead us to understand and admire them. This is particularly the
case with tropical countries. Some such places will no doubt strike at
once as altogether unequalled, but in the majority of cases it is only
in time that the various peculiarities, the costume of the people, the
strange forms of vegetation, and the novelty of the animal world, will
present themselves so as to form a connected and definite impression
on the mind. Thus it is that travellers who crowd into one description
all the wonders and novelties which it took them weeks and months to
observe, must produce an erroneous impression on the reader, and cause
him, when he visits the spot, to experience much disappointment. As one
instance of what is meant, it may be mentioned that during the first
week of our residence at Pará, though constantly in the forest in the
neighbourhood of the city, I did not see a single humming-bird, parrot,
or monkey. And yet, as I afterwards found, humming-birds, parrots, and
monkeys are plentiful enough in the neighbourhood of Pará; but they
require looking for, and a certain amount of acquaintance with them
is necessary in order to discover their haunts, and some practice is
required to see them in the thick forest, even when you hear them close
by you.

But still Pará has quite enough to redeem it from the imputations we
may be supposed to have cast upon it. Every day showed us something
fresh to admire, some new wonder we had been taught to expect as the
invariable accompaniment of a luxuriant country within a degree of the
equator. “Even now, while writing by the last glimmer of twilight, the
vampire bat is fluttering about the room, hovering among the timbers of
the roof (for there are no ceilings), and now and then whizzing past
my ears with a most spectral noise.” The city itself has been laid out
on a most extensive plan; many of the churches and public buildings
are very handsome, but decay and incongruous repairs have injured some
of them, and bits of gardens and waste ground intervening between the
houses, fenced in with rotten palings, and filled with rank weeds and
a few banana-plants, look strange and unsightly to a European eye. The
squares and public places are picturesque, either from the churches and
pretty houses which surround them, or from the elegant palms of various
species, which with the plantain and banana everywhere occur; but
they bear more resemblance to village-greens than to parts of a great
city. A few paths lead across them in different directions through a
tangled vegetation of weedy cassias, shrubby convolvuli, and the pretty
orange-flowered _Asclepias curassavica_,—plants which here take the
place of the rushes, docks, and nettles of England. The principal
street, the “Rua dos Mercadores” (Street of Merchants), contains
almost the only good shops in the city. The houses are many of them
only one story high, but the shops, which are often completely open in
front, are very neatly and attractively furnished, though with rather
a miscellaneous assortment of articles. Here are seen at intervals
a few yards of foot-paving, though so little as only to render the
rest of your walk over rough stones or deep sand more unpleasant by
comparison. The other streets are all very narrow. They consist either
of very rough stones, apparently the remains of the original paving,
which has never been repaired, or of deep sand and mud-holes. The
houses are irregular and low, mostly built of a coarse ferruginous
sandstone, common in the neighbourhood, and plastered over. The
windows, which have no glass, have the lower part filled with lattice,
hung above, so that the bottom may be pushed out and a peep obtained
sideways in either direction, and from these many dark eyes glanced at
us as we passed. Yellow and blue wash are liberally used about most
of the houses and churches in decorating the pilasters and door and
window openings, which are in a debased but picturesque style of Roman
architecture. The building now used as custom-house and barracks,
formerly a convent, is handsome and very extensive.

Beyond the actual streets of the city is a large extent of ground
covered with roads and lanes intersecting each other at right angles.
In the spaces formed by these are the “rosinhas,” or country-houses,
one, two, or more on each block. They are of one story, with several
spacious rooms and a large verandah, which is generally the dining-room
and most pleasant sitting and working apartment. The ground attached
is usually a swamp or a wilderness of weeds or fruit-trees. Sometimes
a portion is formed into a flower-garden, but seldom with much
care or taste, and the plants and flowers of Europe are preferred
to the splendid and ornamental productions of the country. The
general impression of the city to a person fresh from England is not
very favourable. There is such a want of neatness and order, such
an appearance of neglect and decay, such evidences of apathy and
indolence, as to be at first absolutely painful. But this soon wears
off, and some of these peculiarities are seen to be dependent on the
climate. The large and lofty rooms, with boarded floors and scanty
furniture, and with half-a-dozen doors and windows in each, look at
first comfortless, but are nevertheless exactly adapted to a tropical
country, in which a carpeted, curtained, and cushioned room would be

The inhabitants of Pará present a most varied and interesting mixture
of races. There is the fresh-coloured Englishman, who seems to thrive
as well here as in the cooler climate of his native country, the
sallow American, the swarthy Portuguese, the more corpulent Brazilian,
the merry Negro, and the apathetic but finely formed Indian; and
between these a hundred shades and mixtures, which it requires an
experienced eye to detect. The white inhabitants generally dress with
great neatness in linen clothes of spotless purity. Some adhere to the
black cloth coat and cravat, and look most uncomfortably clad with the
thermometer from 85° to 90° in the shade. The men’s dress, whether
Negro or Indian, is simply a pair of striped or white cotton trowsers,
to which they sometimes add a shirt of the same material. The women and
girls on most gala occasions dress in pure white, which, contrasting
with their glossy black or brown skins, has a very pleasing effect; and
it is then that the stranger is astonished to behold the massy gold
chains and ornaments worn by these women, many of whom are slaves.
Children are seen in every degree of clothing, down to perfect nudity,
which is the general condition of all the male coloured population
under eight or ten years of age. Indians fresh from the interior are
sometimes seen looking very mild and mannerly, and, except for holes
in their ears large enough to put a cart-rope through, and a peculiar
wildness with which they gaze at all around them, they would hardly be
noticed among the motley crowd of regular inhabitants.

I have already stated that the natural productions of the tropics did
not at first realize my expectations. This is principally owing to the
accounts of picture-drawing travellers, who, by only describing the
beautiful, the picturesque, and the magnificent, would almost lead a
person to believe that nothing of a different character could exist
under a tropical sun. Our having arrived at Pará at the end of the wet
season, may also explain why we did not at first see all the glories
of the vegetation. The beauty of the palm-trees can scarcely be too
highly drawn; they are peculiarly characteristic of the tropics, and
their varied and elegant forms, their beautiful foliage, and their
fruits, generally useful to man, give them a never-failing interest
to the naturalist, and to all who are familiar with descriptions of
the countries where they most abound. The rest of the vegetation
was hardly what I expected. We found many beautiful flowers and
climbing plants, but there are also many places which are just as
weedy in their appearance as in our own bleak climate. But very few
of the forest-trees were in flower, and most of them had nothing very
peculiar in their appearance. The eye of the botanist, indeed, detects
numerous tropical forms in the structure of the stems, and the form
and arrangement of the leaves; but most of them produce an effect
in the landscape remarkably similar to that of our own oaks, elms,
and beeches. These remarks apply only to the immediate vicinity of
the city, where the whole surface has been cleared, and the present
vegetation is a second growth. On proceeding a few miles out of the
town into the forest, which everywhere surrounds it, a very different
scene is beheld. Trees of an enormous height rise on every side. The
foliage varies from the most light and airy to the darkest and most
massive. Climbing and parasitic plants, with large shining leaves, run
up the trunks, and often mount even to the highest branches, while
others, with fantastic stems, hang like ropes and cables from their
summits. Many curious seeds and fruits are here seen scattered on the
ground; and there is enough to engage the wonder and admiration of
every lover of nature. But even here there is something wanting that
we expected to find. The splendid Orchideous plants, so much sought
after in Europe, we had thought must abound in every luxuriant tropical
forest; yet here are none but a few small species with dull brown or
yellow flowers. Most of the parasitic plants which clothe the stems
of every old or fallen tree with verdure, are of quite a different
character, being ferns, _Tillandsias_, and species of _Pothos_
and _Caladium_, plants resembling the Ethiopian lily so commonly
cultivated in houses. Among the shrubs near the city that immediately
attracted our attention were several _Solanums_, which are allied to
our potato. One of these grows from eight to twelve feet high, with
large woolly leaves, spines on both leaves and stem, and handsome
purple flowers larger than those of the potato. Some other species
have white flowers, and one much resembles our bitter-sweet (_Solanum
Dulcamara_). Many handsome convolvuluses climb over the hedges, as
well as several most beautiful _Bignonias_ or trumpet-flowers, with
yellow, orange, or purple blossoms. But most striking of all are the
passion-flowers, which are abundant on the skirts of the forest, and
are of various colours,—purple, scarlet, or pale pink: the purple ones
have an exquisite perfume, and they all produce an agreeable fruit—the
grenadilla of the West Indies. There are besides many other elegant
flowers, and numbers of less conspicuous ones. The papilionaceous
flowers, or peas, are common; cassias are very numerous, some being
mere weeds, others handsome trees, having a profusion of bright yellow
blossoms. Then there are the curious sensitive plants (_Mimosa_),
looked upon with such interest in our greenhouses, but which here
abound as common wayside weeds. Most of them have purple or white
globular heads of flowers. Some are very sensitive, a gentle touch
causing many leaves to drop and fold up; others require a ruder hand to
make them exhibit their peculiar properties; while others again will
scarcely show any signs of feeling, though ever so roughly treated.
They are all more or less armed with sharp prickles, which may partly
answer the purpose of guarding their delicate frames from some of the
numerous shocks they would otherwise receive.

The immense number of orange-trees about the city is an interesting
feature, and renders that delicious fruit always abundant and cheap.
Many of the public roads are lined with them, and every garden is
well stocked, so that the cost is merely the trouble of gathering
and taking to market. The mango is also abundant, and in some of the
public avenues is planted alternately with the Mangabeira, or silk
cotton-tree, which grows to a great size, though, as its leaves are
deciduous, it is not so well adapted to produce the shade so much
required as some evergreen tree. On almost every road-side, thicket,
or waste, the coffee-tree is seen growing, and generally with flower
or fruit, and often both; yet such is the scarcity of labour or
indolence of the people, that none is gathered but a little for private
consumption, while the city is almost entirely supplied with coffee
grown in other parts of Brazil.

Turning our attention to the world of animal life, what first attract
notice are the lizards. They abound everywhere. In the city they are
seen running along the walls and palings, sunning themselves on logs
of wood, or creeping up to the eaves of the lower houses. In every
garden, road, and dry sandy situation they are scampering out of
the way as we walk along. Now they crawl round the trunk of a tree,
watching us as we pass, and keeping carefully out of sight, just as a
squirrel will do under similar circumstances; now they walk up a smooth
wall or paling as composedly and securely as if they had the plain
earth beneath them. Some are of a dark coppery colour, some with backs
of the most brilliant silky green and blue, and others marked with
delicate shades and lines of yellow and brown. On this sandy soil, and
beneath this bright sunshine, they seem to enjoy every moment of their
existence, basking in the hot sun with the most indolent satisfaction,
then scampering off as if every ray had lent vivacity and vigour to
their chilly constitutions. Far different from the little lizards with
us, which cannot raise their body from the ground, and drag their long
tails like an encumbrance after them, these denizens of a happier clime
carry their tails stuck out in the air, and gallop away on their
four legs with as much freedom and muscular power as a warm-blooded
quadruped. To catch such lively creatures was of course no easy matter,
and all our attempts utterly failed; but we soon got the little Negro
and Indian boys to shoot them for us with their bows and arrows, and
thus obtained many specimens.

Next to the lizards, the ants cannot fail to be noticed. They startle
you with the apparition of scraps of paper, dead leaves, and feathers,
endued with locomotive powers; processions engaged in some abstruse
engineering operations stretch across the public paths; the flower you
gather or the fruit you pluck is covered with them, and they spread
over your hand in such swarms as to make you hastily drop your prize.
At meals they make themselves quite at home upon the table-cloth, in
your plate, and in the sugar-basin, though not in such numbers as to
offer any serious obstruction to your meal. In these situations, and
in many others, you will find them, and in each situation it will be
a distinct kind. Many plants have ants peculiar to them. Their nests
are seen forming huge black masses, several feet in diameter, on
the branches of trees. In paths in woods and gardens we often see a
gigantic black species wandering about singly or in pairs, measuring
near an inch and a half long; while some of the species that frequent
houses are so small as to require a box-lid to fit very closely in
order to keep them out. They are great enemies to any dead animal
matter, especially insects and small birds. In drying the specimens
of insects we procured, we found it necessary to hang up the boxes
containing them to the roof of the verandah; but even then a party got
possession by descending the string, as we caught them in the act, and
found that in a few hours they had destroyed several fine insects. We
were then informed that the Andiroba oil of the country, which is very
bitter, would keep them away, and by well soaking the suspending string
we have since been free from their incursions.

Having at first employed ourselves principally in collecting insects, I
am enabled to say something about the other families of that numerous
class. None of the orders of insects were so numerous as I expected,
with the exception of the diurnal _Lepidoptera_, or butterflies; and
even these, though the number of different species was very great, did
not abound in individuals to the extent I had been led to anticipate.
In about three weeks Mr. B. and myself had captured upwards of a
hundred and fifty distinct species of butterflies. Among them were
eight species of the handsome genus _Papilio_, and three _Morphos_,
those splendid large metallic-blue butterflies which are always first
noticed by travellers in South America, in which country alone they
are found, and where, flying lazily along the paths in the forest,
alternately in deep shade and bright sunshine, they present one of the
most striking sights the insect world can produce. Among the smaller
species the exquisite colouring and variety of marking is wonderful.
The species seem inexhaustible, and probably not one-half of those
which exist in this country are yet discovered. We did not fall in
with any of the large and remarkable insects of South America, such
as the rhinoceros or harlequin beetles, but saw numerous specimens of
a large _Mantis_, or praying insect, and also several of the large
_Mygales_, or bird-catching spiders, which are here improperly called
“tarantulas,” and are said to be very venomous. We found one which
had a nest on a silk cotton-tree, formed like the web of some of our
house-spiders, as a place of concealment, but of a very strong texture,
almost like silk. Other species live in holes in the ground. Beetles
and flies were generally very scarce, and, with few exceptions, of
small size, but bees and wasps were abundant, and many of them very
large and handsome. Mosquitoes, in the low parts of the city and
on shipboard, are very annoying, but on the higher grounds and in
the suburbs there are none. The moqueen, a small red tick, scarcely
visible, the “bête rouge” of Cayenne, abounds in the grass, and,
getting on the legs, is very irritating; but these are trifles which
one soon gets used to, and in fact would hardly think oneself in the
tropics without them.

Of birds we at first saw but few, and those not very remarkable ones.
The only brilliant-coloured bird common about the city is the yellow
troupial (_Cassicus icteronotus_), which builds its nests in colonies,
suspended from the ends of the branches of trees. A tree is sometimes
covered with their long purse-like nests, and the brilliant black
and yellow birds flying in and out have a pretty effect. This bird
has a variety of loud clear notes, and has an extraordinary power of
imitating the song of other birds, so as to render it worthy of the
title of the South American mocking-bird. Besides this, the common
silver-beak tanager (_Rhamphopis jacapa_), some pale blue tanagers,
called here “Sayis,” and the yellow-breasted tyrant flycatchers, are
the only conspicuous birds common in the suburbs of Pará. In the
forest are constantly heard the curious notes of the bush-shrikes,
tooo-too-to-to-t-t-t, each succeeding sound quicker and quicker, like
the successive reboundings of a hammer from an anvil. In the dusk
of the evening many goat-suckers fly about and utter their singular
and melancholy cries. One says “Whip-poor-will,” just like the North
American bird so called, and another with remarkable distinctness
keeps asking, “Who are _you_?” and as their voices often alternate, an
interesting though rather monotonous conversation takes place between

The climate, so far as we had yet experienced, was delightful. The
thermometer did not rise above 87° in the afternoon, nor sink below
74° during the night. The mornings and evenings were most agreeably
cool, and we had generally a shower and a fine breeze in the afternoon,
which was very refreshing and purified the air. On moonlight evenings
till eight o’clock ladies walk about the streets and suburbs without
any head-dress and in ball-room attire, and the Brazilians, in
their rosinhas, sit outside their houses bare-headed and in their
shirt-sleeves till nine or ten o’clock, quite unmindful of the night
airs and heavy dews of the tropics, which we have been accustomed to
consider so deadly.

We will now add a few words on the food of the people. Beef is almost
the only meat used. The cattle are kept on estates some days’ journey
across and up the river, whence they are brought in canoes; they refuse
food during the voyage, and so lose most of their fat, and arrive in
very poor condition. They are killed in the morning for the day’s
consumption, and are cut up with axes and cutlasses, with a total
disregard to appearance, the blood being allowed to run all over the
meat. About six every morning a number of loaded carts may be seen
going to the different butchers’ shops, the contents bearing such a
resemblance to horse-flesh going to a kennel of hounds, as to make a
person of delicate stomach rather uneasy when he sees nothing but beef
on the table at dinner-time. Fish is sometimes obtained, but it is very
dear, and pork is killed only on Sundays. Bread made from United States
flour, Irish and American butter, and other foreign products, are in
general use among the white population; but farinha, rice, salt-fish,
and fruits are the principal food of the Indians and Negroes. Farinha
is a preparation from the root of the mandiocca or cassava plant, of
which tapioca is also made; it looks something like coarsely ground
peas, or perhaps more like sawdust, and when soaked in water or broth
is rather glutinous, and is a very nutritious article of food. This,
with a little salt-fish, chili peppers, bananas, oranges, and assai (a
preparation from a palm fruit), forms almost the entire subsistence
of a great part of the population of the city. Our own bill of fare
comprised coffee, tea, bread, butter, beef, rice, farinha, pumpkins,
bananas, and oranges. Isidora was a good cook, and made all sorts of
roasts and stews out of our daily lump of tough beef; and the bananas
and oranges were such a luxury to us, that, with the good appetite
which our walks in the forest always gave us, we had nothing to
complain of.

                              CHAPTER II.


  Festas—Portuguese and Brazilian currency—M. Borlaz’
    estate—Walk to the rice-mills—The virgin forest, its
    plants and insects—Milk-tree—Saw and rice mills—Caripé or
    pottery-tree—Indiarubber-tree—Flowers and trees in blossom—Saüba
    ants, wasps, and chegoes—Journey by water to Magoary—The
    monkeys—The commandante at Laranjeiras—Vampire bats—The
    timber-trade—Boa constrictor and Sloth.

About a fortnight after our arrival at Pará there were several
holidays, or “festas,” as they are called. Those of the “Espirito
Santo” and the “Trinidade” lasted each nine days. The former was
held at the cathedral, the latter at one of the smaller churches in
the suburbs. The general character of these festas is the same, some
being more celebrated and more attractive than others. They consist of
fireworks every night before the church; Negro girls selling “doces,”
or sweetmeats, cakes, and fruit; processions of saints and crucifixes;
the church open, with regular services; kissing of images and relics;
and a miscellaneous crowd of Negroes and Indians, all dressed in white,
thoroughly enjoying the fun, and the women in all the glory of their
massive gold chains and earrings. Besides these, a number of the higher
classes and foreign residents grace the scene with their presence;
showy processions are got up at the commencement and termination, and
on the last evening a grand display of fireworks takes place, which is
generally provided by some person who is chosen or volunteers to be
“Juiz da festa,” or governor of the feast,—a rather expensive honour
among people who, not content with an unlimited supply of rockets at
night, amuse themselves by firing off great quantities during the day
for the sake of the whiz and the bang that accompany them. The rockets
are looked upon as quite a part of the religious ceremony: on asking
an old Negro why they were let off in the morning, he looked up to the
sky and answered very gravely, “Por Deos” (for God). Music, noise, and
fireworks are the three essentials to please a Brazilian populace; and
for a fortnight we had enough of them, for besides the above-mentioned
amusements, they fire off guns, pistols, and cannon from morning to

After many inquiries, we at last succeeded in procuring a house to suit
us. It was situated at Nazaré, about a mile and a half south of the
city, just opposite a pretty little chapel. Close behind, the forest
commences, and there are many good localities for birds, insects, and
plants in the neighbourhood. The house consisted of a ground-floor of
four rooms, with a verandah extending completely round it, affording
a rather extensive and very pleasant promenade. The grounds contained
oranges and bananas, and a great many forest and fruit trees, with
coffee and mandiocca plantations. We were to pay twenty milreis a
month rent (equal to £2. 5_s._), which is very dear for Pará, but we
could get no other house so convenient. Isidora took possession of an
old mud-walled shed as the domain of his culinary operations; we worked
and took our meals in the verandah, and seldom used the inner rooms but
as sleeping apartments.

We now found much less difficulty in mustering up sufficient Portuguese
to explain our various wants. We were some time getting into the use
of the Portuguese, or rather Brazilian, money, which is peculiar and
puzzling. It consists of paper, silver, and copper. The rey is the unit
or standard, but the milrey, or thousand reis, is the value of the
lowest note, and serves as the unit in which accounts are kept; so that
the system is a decimal one, and very easy, were it not complicated by
several other coins, which are used in reckoning; as the vintem, which
is twenty reis, the patac, three hundred and twenty, and the crusado,
four hundred, in all of which coins sums of money are often reckoned,
which is puzzling to a beginner, because the patac is not an integral
part of the milrey (three patacs and two vintems making a milrey),
and the Spanish dollars which are current here are worth six patacs.
The milrey was originally worth 5_s._ 7½_d._, but now fluctuates from
2_s._ 1_d._ to 2_s._ 4_d._, or not quite half, owing probably to the
over-issue of paper and its inconvertibility into coin. The metallic
currency, being then of less nominal than real value, would soon have
been melted down, so it became necessary to increase its value. This
was done by restamping it and making it pass for double. Thus a vintem
restamped is two vintems; a patac with 160 on it counts for 320 reis;
a twovintem piece counts for four. The newer coinage also having been
diminished in size with the depreciation of the currency, there has
arisen such a confusion, that the size of the coin is scarcely any
index to its value, and when two pieces are of exactly the same size
one may be double the value of the other. An accurate examination of
each coin is therefore necessary, which renders the making up of a
large sum a matter requiring much practice and attention.

There were living on the premises three Negroes who had the care of the
coffee- and fruit-trees, and of the mandiocca field. The principal one,
named Vincente, was a fine stout handsome Negro, who was celebrated
as a catcher of “bichos,” as they here call all insects, reptiles,
and small animals. He soon brought us in several insects. One was
a gigantic hairy spider, a _Mygale_, which he skilfully dug out of
its hole in the earth, and caught in a leaf. He told us he was once
bitten by one, and was bad some time. When questioned on the matter,
he said the “bicho” was “muito mal” (very bad), and concluded with an
expressive “whew-w-w,” which just answers to a schoolboy’s “Aint it
though?” and intimates that there can be no doubt at all about the
matter. It seems probable therefore that this insect is not armed in
vain with such powerful fangs, but is capable of inflicting with them
an envenomed wound.

During one of our exploratory rambles we came upon the country-house
of a French gentleman, M. Borlaz, who is Swiss Consul in Pará. Much to
our surprise he addressed us in English, and then showed us round his
grounds, and pointed out to us the paths in the woods we should find
most practicable. The vegetation here on the banks of the river, a mile
below Pará, was very rich. The Miriti (_Mauritia flexuosa_), a fine
fan-palm, and a slender species, the Marajá (_Bactris Maraja_), a small
prickly tree which bears a fruit with a thin outer pulp, of a pleasant
subacid taste, were both abundant. A mass of cactus, thirty feet high,
grew near the house, having a most tropical aspect, but this was
planted. The thickets were full of curious _Bromeliaceæ_ and _Arums_,
and many singular trees and shrubs, and in their shady recesses
we captured some very fine insects. The splendid blue and orange
butterflies (_Epicalia ancea_) were abundant, settling on the leaves;
and they would repeatedly return to the same tree, and even to the same
leaf, so that, though very difficult to capture, five specimens were
taken without moving from the spot.

On our return to the house M. Borlaz treated us to some fine
fruits,—the berribee, a species of _Anona_, with a pleasant acid
custard-like pulp, the nuts of the bread-fruit roasted, very similar
to Spanish chestnuts, and plantains dried in the sun, and much
resembling figs. The situation of the house was delightful, looking
over the river to the opposite islands, yet sufficiently elevated to
be dry and healthy. The moist woods along the bank of the river were
so productive that we often afterwards availed ourselves of M. Borlaz’
kind invitation to visit his grounds whenever we felt disposed. As
an instance of the voracity of the ants, I may mention that, having
laid down my collecting-box in the verandah during half an hour’s
conversation, I was horrified to find, on opening it to put in a
fresh capture, that it swarmed with small red ants, who had already
separated the wings from near a dozen insects, and were dragging them
in different directions about the box; others were at the process of
dismemberment, while some had buried themselves in the plumpest bodies,
where they were enjoying a delicious repast. I had great difficulty
in making them quit their prey, and gained some useful experience at
the expense of half a successful day’s captures, including some of the
splendid _Epicalias_ which I so much prized.

On the morning of the 23rd of June we started early to walk to the
rice-mills at Magoary, which we had been invited to visit by the
proprietor, Mr. Upton, and the manager, Mr. Leavens, both American
gentlemen. At about two miles from the city we entered the virgin
forest, which the increased height of the trees and the deeper shade
had some time told us we were approaching. Its striking characteristics
were, the great number and variety of the forest-trees, their trunks
rising frequently for sixty or eighty feet without a branch, and
perfectly straight; the huge creepers, which climb about them,
sometimes stretching obliquely from their summits like the stays of
a mast, sometimes winding around their trunks like immense serpents
waiting for their prey. Here, two or three together, twisting spirally
round each other, form a complete living cable, as if to bind securely
these monarchs of the forest; there, they form tangled festoons, and,
covered themselves with smaller creepers and parasitic plants, hide the
parent stem from sight.

Among the trees the various kinds that have buttresses projecting
around their base are the most striking and peculiar. Some of these
buttresses are much longer than they are high, springing from a
distance of eight or ten feet from the base, and reaching only four or
five feet high on the trunk, while others rise to the height of twenty
or thirty feet, and can even be distinguished as ribs on the stem to
forty or fifty. They are complete wooden walls, from six inches to
a foot thick, sometimes branching into two or three, and extending
straight out to such a distance as to afford room for a comfortable hut
in the angle between them. Large square pieces are often cut out of
them to make paddles, and for other uses, the wood being generally very
light and soft.

Other trees, again, appear as if they were formed by a number of
slender stems growing together. They are deeply furrowed and ribbed for
their whole height, and in places these furrows reach quite through
them, like windows in a narrow tower, yet they run up as high as the
loftiest trees of the forest, with a straight stem of uniform diameter.
Another most curious form is presented by those which have many of
their roots high above the surface of the ground, appearing to stand on
many legs, and often forming archways large enough for a man to walk

The stems of all these trees, and the climbers that wind or wave around
them, support a multitude of dependants. _Tillandsias_ and other
_Bromeliaceæ_, resembling wild pine-apples, large climbing _Arums_,
with their dark green arrowhead-shaped leaves, peppers in great
variety, and large-leaved ferns, shoot out at intervals all up the
stem, to the very topmost branches. Between these, creeping ferns and
delicate little species like our _Hymenophyllum_ abound, and in moist
dark places the leaves of these are again covered with minute creeping
mosses and _Jungermanniæ_,—so that we have parasites on parasites,
and on these parasites again. On looking upwards, the finely-divided
foliage, strongly defined against the clear sky, is a striking
characteristic of the tropical forests, as is repeatedly remarked by
Humboldt. Many of the largest forest-trees have leaves as delicate as
those of the trembling _Mimosa_, belonging like them to the extensive
family of the _Leguminosæ_, while the huge palmate leaves of the
_Cecropias_, and the oval glossy ones of the _Clusias_, and a hundred
others of intermediate forms, afford sufficient variety; and the bright
sunshine lighting up all above, while a sombre gloom reigns below, adds
to the grandeur and solemnity of the scene.

Flowers were very few and far between, a few small _Orchideæ_
and inconspicuous wayside weeds, with now and then a white- or
green-blossomed shrub, being all that we met with. On the ground many
varieties of fruits lay decaying: curiously twisted legumes like peas a
yard long, huge broad beans, nuts of various sizes and forms, and large
fruits of the pot-trees, which have lids like the utensil from which
they derive their name. The herbage consisted principally of ferns,
_Scitamineæ_, a few grasses and small creeping plants; but dead leaves
and rotten wood occupied the greater part of the surface.

We found very few insects, but almost all that we met with were new to
us. Our greatest treasure was the beautiful clear-winged butterfly,
with a bright violet patch on its lower wings, the _Hætera esmeralda_,
which we now saw and caught for the first time. Many other rare
insects were also obtained, and the gigantic blue _Morphos_ frequently
passed us, but their undulating flight baffled all our efforts at
capturing them. Of quadrupeds we saw none, and of birds but few,
though we heard enough of the latter to assure us that they were
not altogether wanting. We are inclined to think that the general
statement, that the birds of the tropics have a deficiency of song
proportionate to their brilliancy of plumage, requires to be modified.
Many of the brilliant birds of the tropics belong to families or
groups which have no song; but our most brilliantly coloured birds,
as the goldfinch and canary, are not the less musical, and there are
many beautiful little birds here which are equally so. We heard notes
resembling those of the blackbird and the robin, and one bird gave
forth three or four sweet plaintive tones that particularly attracted
our attention; while many have peculiar cries, in which words may
easily be traced by the fanciful, and which in the stillness of the
forest have a very pleasing effect.

On reaching the mills we found it was one o’clock, the interesting
objects on the road having caused us to linger for six hours on a
distance of scarcely twelve miles. We were kindly welcomed by Mr.
Leavens, who soon set before us substantial fare. After dinner we
strolled round the premises, and saw for the first time toucans
and paroquets in their native haunts. They frequent certain wild
fruit-trees, and Mr. Leavens has many specimens which he has shot,
and preserved in a manner seldom equalled. There are three mills—a
saw-mill and two for cleaning rice. One rice-mill is driven by steam,
the other two by water-power, which is obtained by damming up two
or three small streams, and thus forming extensive mill-pools. The
saw-mill was recently erected by Mr. Leavens, who is a practical
millwright. It is of the kind commonly used in the United States, and
the manner of applying the water is rather different from what we
generally see in England. There is a fall of water of about ten feet,
which, instead of being applied to an overshot or breast-wheel, is
allowed to rush out of a longitudinal aperture at the bottom, against
the narrow floats of a wheel only twenty inches in diameter, which thus
revolves with great velocity, and communicates motion by means of a
crank and connecting-rod directly to the saw, which of course makes a
double stroke to each revolution of the wheel. The expense of a large
slow-motion wheel is thus saved, as well as all the gearing necessary
for producing a sufficiently rapid motion of the saws; and the whole
having a smaller number of working parts, is much less liable to get
out of order, and requires few repairs. The platform carrying the log
is propelled on against the saw in the usual manner, but the method of
carrying it back at the end of the cut is ingenious. The water is shut
off from the main wheel, and let on at another shoot against a vertical
wheel, on the top of the upright shaft of which is a cog-wheel working
into a rack on the frame, which runs it back with great rapidity, and
in the simplest manner. One saw only is used, the various thicknesses
into which the trees are cut rendering more inconvenient.

We here saw the different kinds of timber used, both in the log and in
boards, and were told their various uses by Mr. Leavens. Some are very
hard woods resembling oak, and others lighter and less durable. What
most interested us however were several large logs of the Masseranduba,
or Milk-tree. On our way through the forest we had seen some trunks
much notched by persons who had been extracting the milk. It is one
of the noblest trees of the forest, rising with a straight stem to an
enormous height. The timber is very hard, fine-grained, and durable,
and is valuable for works which are much exposed to the weather. The
fruit is eatable and very good, the size of a small apple, and full
of a rich and very juicy pulp. But strangest of all is the vegetable
milk, which exudes in abundance when the bark is cut: it has about
the consistence of thick cream, and but for a very slight peculiar
taste could scarcely be distinguished from the genuine product of the
cow. Mr. Leavens ordered a man to tap some logs that had lain nearly
a month in the yard. He cut several notches in the bark with an axe,
and in a minute the rich sap was running out in great quantities. It
was collected in a basin, diluted with water, strained, and brought up
at tea-time and at breakfast next morning. The peculiar flavour of the
milk seemed rather to improve the quality of the tea, and gave it as
good a colour as rich cream; in coffee it is equally good. Mr. Leavens
informed us that he had made a custard of it, and that, though it had a
curious dark colour, it was very well tasted. The milk is also used for
glue, and is said to be as durable as that made use of by carpenters.
As a specimen of its capabilities in this line, Mr. Leavens showed us
a violin he had made, the belly-board of which, formed of two pieces,
he had glued together with it applied fresh from the tree without any
preparation. It had been done two years; the instrument had been in
constant use, and the joint was now perfectly good and sound throughout
its whole length. As the milk hardens by exposure to air, it becomes a
very tough, slightly elastic substance, much resembling gutta-percha;
but, not having the property of being softened by hot water, is not
likely to become so extensively useful as that article.

After leaving the wood-yard, we next visited the rice-mills, and
inspected the process by which the rice is freed from its husk. There
are several operations to effect this. The grain first passes between
two mill-stones, not cut as for grinding flour, but worked flat, and
by them the outer husk is rubbed off. It is then conveyed between two
boards of similar size and shape to the stones, set all over with stiff
iron wires about three-eighths of an inch long, so close together that
a grain of rice can just be pushed in between them. The two surfaces
very nearly touch one another, so that the rice is forced through the
spaces of the wires, which rub off the rest of the husk and polish the
grain. A quantity however is broken by this operation, so it is next
shaken through sifters of different degrees of fineness, which separate
the dust from the broken rice. The whole rice is then fanned, to blow
off the remaining dust, and finally passes between rubbers covered with
sheep-skin with the wool on, which clean it thoroughly, and render it
fit for the market. The Pará rice is remarkably fine, being equal in
quality to that of Carolina, but, owing to the carelessness with which
it is cultivated, it seldom shows so good a sample. No care is taken in
choosing seed or in preparing the ground; and in harvesting, a portion
is cut green, because there are not hands enough to get it in quickly
when it is ripe, and rice is a grain which rapidly falls out of the ear
and is wasted. It is therefore seldom cultivated on a large scale, the
greater portion being the produce of Indians and small landholders, who
bring it to the mills to sell.

In the morning, after a refreshing shower-bath under the mill-feeder,
we shouldered our guns, insect-nets, and pouches, and, accompanied
by Mr. Leavens, took a walk into the forest. On our way we saw the
long-toed jacanas on the river-side, Bemteví[1] flycatchers on the
branches of every bare tree, and toucans flying with outstretched
bills to their morning repast. Their peculiar creaking note was often
heard, with now and then the loud tapping of the great woodpeckers, and
the extraordinary sounds uttered by the howling monkeys, all telling
us plainly that we were in the vast forests of tropical America. We
were not successful in shooting, but returned with a good appetite to
our coffee and masseranduba milk, pirarucú, and eggs. The pirarucú is
the dried fish which, with farinha, forms the chief subsistence of
the native population, and in the interior is often the only thing to
be obtained, so we thought it as well to get used to it at once. It
resembles in appearance nothing eatable, looking as much like a dry
cowhide grated up into fibres and pressed into cakes, as anything I can
compare it with. When eaten, it is boiled or slightly roasted, pulled
to pieces, and mixed with vinegar, oil, pepper, onions, and farinha,
and altogether forms a very savoury mess for a person with a good
appetite and a strong stomach.

  [1] “Bemteví” (I saw you well); the bird’s note resembles this word.

After breakfast, we loaded our old Negro (who had come with us to
show the way) with plants that we had collected, and a basket to hold
anything interesting we might meet with on the road, and set out to
walk home, promising soon to make a longer visit. We reached Nazaré
with boxes full of insects, and heads full of the many interesting
things we had seen, among which the milk-giving tree, supplying us with
a necessary of life from so new and strange a source, held a prominent

Wishing to obtain specimens of a tree called Caripé, the bark of
which is used in the manufacture of the pottery of the country, we
inquired of Isidora if he knew such a tree, and where it grew. He
replied that he knew the tree very well, but that it grew in the
forest a long way off. So one fine morning after breakfast we told
him to shoulder his axe and come with us in search of the Caripé,—he
in his usual dishabille of a pair of trowsers,—shirt, hat, and shoes
being altogether dispensed with in this fine climate; and we in our
shirt-sleeves, and with our hunting apparatus across our shoulders. Our
old conductor, though now following the domestic occupation of cook
and servant of all work to two foreign gentlemen, had worked much in
the forest, and was well acquainted with the various trees, could tell
their names, and was learned in their uses and properties. He was of
rather a taciturn disposition, except when excited by our exceeding
dulness in understanding what he wanted, when he would gesticulate with
a vehemence and perform dumb-show with a minuteness worthy of a more
extensive audience; yet he was rather fond of displaying his knowledge
on a subject of which we were in a state of the most benighted
ignorance, and at the same time quite willing to learn. His method of
instruction was by a series of parenthetical remarks on the trees as he
passed them, appearing to speak rather to them than to us, unless we
elicited by questions further information.

“This,” he would say, “is Ocöóba, very good medicine, good for
sore-throat,” which he explained by going through the action of
gargling, and showed us that a watery sap issued freely on the bark
being cut. The tree, like many others, was notched all over by the
number of patients who came for the healing juice. “This,” said he,
glancing at a magnificent tall straight tree, “is good wood for houses,
good for floors; call it Quaröóba.” “This,” pointing to one of the
curious furrowed trees that look as if a bundle of enormously long
sticks had grown into one mass, “is wood for making paddles;” and,
as we did not understand this in Portuguese, he imitated rowing in a
canoe; the name of this was Pootiéka. “This,” pointing to another large
forest-tree, “is good wood for burning, to make charcoal; good hard
wood for everything,—makes the best charcoal for forges,” which he
explained by intimating that the wood made the fire to make the iron of
the axe he held in his hand. This tree rejoiced in the name of Nowará.
Next came the Caripé itself, but it was a young tree with neither fruit
nor flowers, so we had to content ourselves with specimens of the wood
and bark only; it grew on the edge of a swamp filled with splendid
palm-trees. Here the Assai Palm, so common about the city, reached an
enormous height. With a smooth stem only four inches in diameter, some
specimens were eighty feet high. Sometimes they are perfectly straight,
sometimes gently curved, and, with the drooping crowns of foliage, are
most beautiful. Here also grew the Inajá, a fine thick-stemmed species,
with a very large dense head of foliage. The undeveloped leaves of
this as well as many other kinds form an excellent vegetable, called
here _palmeto_, and probably very similar to that produced by the
cabbage-palm of the West Indies. A prickly-stemmed fan-leaved palm,
which we had observed at the mills, was also growing here. But the
most striking and curious of all was the Paxiuba, a tall, straight,
perfectly smooth-stemmed palm, with a most elegant head, formed of a
few large curiously-cut leaves. Its great singularity is, that the
greater part of its roots are above ground, and they successively
die away, fresh ones springing out of the stem higher up, so that
the whole tree is supported on three or four stout straight roots,
sometimes so high that a person can stand between them with the lofty
tree growing over his head. The main roots often diverge again before
they reach the ground, each into three or more smaller ones, not an
inch each in diameter. Though the stem of the tree is quite smooth,
the roots are thickly covered with large tuberculous prickles. Numbers
of small trees of a few feet high grow all around, each standing upon
its legs, a miniature copy of its parent. Isidora cut down an Assai
palm, to get some _palmeto_ for our dinner; it forms an agreeable
vegetable of a sweetish flavour. Just as we were returning, we were
startled by a quiet remark that the tree close by us was the Seringa,
or India-rubber-tree. We rushed to it, axe in hand, cut off a piece of
bark, and had the satisfaction to see the extraordinary juice come out.
Catching a little in a box I had with me, I next day found it genuine
India-rubber, of a yellowish colour, but possessing all its peculiar

It being some saint’s day, in the evening a fire was lit in the road in
front of our house, and going out we found Isidora and Vincente keeping
it up. Several others were visible in the street, and there appeared to
be a line of them reaching to the city. They seemed to be made quite as
a matter of business, being a mark of respect to certain of the more
illustrious saints, and, with rockets and processions, form the greater
part of the religion here. The glorious southern constellations, with
their crowded nebulæ, were shining brilliantly in the heavens as the
fire expired, and we turned into our hammocks well satisfied with all
that we had seen during the day.

_July 4th._—The vegetation now improved in appearance as the dry
season advanced. Plants were successively budding and bursting their
blossoms, and bright green leaves displaced the half-withered ones of
the past season. The climbers were particularly remarkable, as much
for the beauty of their foliage as for their flowers. Often two or
three climb over one tree or shrub, mingling in the most perplexing
though elegant confusion, so that it is a matter of much difficulty
to decide to which plant the different blossoms belong, and should
they be high up it is impossible. A delicate white and a fine yellow
convolvulus were now plentiful; the purple and yellow trumpet-flowers
were still among the most showy; and some noble thick-leaved climbers
mounted to the tops of trees, and sent aloft bright spikes of scarlet
flowers. Among the plants not in flower, the twin-leaved _Bauhinias_
of various forms were most frequently noticed. The species are very
numerous: some are shrubs, others delicate climbers, and one is the
most extraordinary among the extraordinary climbers of the forest, its
broad flattened woody stems being twisted in and out in a most singular
manner, mounting to the summits of the very loftiest forest-trees, and
hanging from their branches in gigantic festoons, many hundred feet
in length. A handsome pink and white _Clusia_ was now abundant, with
large shining leaves, and flowers having a powerful and very fragrant
odour. It grows not only as a good-sized tree out of the ground, but
is also parasitical on almost every other forest-tree. Its large round
whitish fruits are called “cebola braba” (wild onion), by the natives,
and are much eaten by birds, which thus probably convey the seeds
into the forks of lofty trees, where it seems most readily to take
root in any little decaying vegetable matter, dung of birds, etc.,
that may be there; and when it arrives at such a size as to require
more nourishment than it can there obtain, it sends down long shoots
to the ground, which take root, and grow into a new stem. At Nazaré
there is a tree by the road-side, out of the fork of which grows a
large Mucujá palm, and on the palm are three or four young _Clusia_
trees, which no doubt have, or will have, _Orchideæ_ and ferns again
growing upon them. A few forest-trees were also in blossom; and it was
truly a magnificent sight to behold a great tree covered with one mass
of flowers, and to hear the deep distant hum of millions of insects
gathered together to enjoy the honeyed feast. But all is out of reach
of the curious and admiring naturalist. It is only over the outside
of the great dome of verdure exposed to the vertical rays of the sun,
that flowers are produced, and on many of these trees there is not a
single blossom to be found at a less height than a hundred feet. The
whole glory of these forests could only be seen by sailing gently in
a balloon over the undulating flowery surface above: such a treat is
perhaps reserved for the traveller of a future age.

A jararáca, said to be one of the most deadly serpents in Brazil,
was killed by a Negro in our garden. It was small, and not brightly
coloured. A fine coral snake was also brought in; it was about a
yard long, and beautifully marked with black, red, and yellow bands.
Having perhaps had some experience of the lavish manner in which
foreigners pay for such things, the man had the coolness to ask two
milreis, or 4_s_. 6_d_. for it, so he had to throw it away, and got
nothing. A penny or twopence is enough to give for such things, which
are of no value to the natives; and though they will not search much
after them for such a price, yet they will bring you all that come
in their way when they know you will purchase them. Snakes were
unpleasantly abundant at this time. I nearly trod on one about ten
feet long, which rather startled me, and it too, to judge by the rapid
manner in which it glided away. I caught also a small _Amphisbena_
under the coffee-trees in our garden. Though it is known to have no
poison-fangs, the Negroes declared it was very dangerous, and that its
bite could not be cured. It is commonly known as the two-headed snake,
from the tail being blunt and the head scarcely visible; and they
believe that if it is cut in two, and the two parts thrown some yards
apart, they will come together again, and join into an entire animal.

Among the curious things we meet with in the woods are large heaps of
earth and sand, sometimes by the roadside, and sometimes extending
quite across the path, making the pedestrian ascend and descend, (a
pleasing variety in this flat country,) and looking just as if some
“Pará and Peru direct Railway Company” had commenced operations. These
mounds are often thirty or forty feet long, by ten or fifteen wide, and
about three or four feet high; but instead of being the work of a lot
of railway labourers, we find it is all due to the industry of a native
insect, the much-dreaded Saüba ant. This insect is of a light-red
colour, about the size of our largest English species, the wood-ant,
but with much more powerful jaws. It does great injury to young trees,
and will sometimes strip them of their leaves in a single night. We
often see, hurrying across the pathways, rows of small green leaves;
these are the Saübas, each with a piece of leaf cut as smoothly as with
scissors, and completely hiding the body from sight. The orange-tree
is very subject to their attacks, and in our garden the young trees
were each planted in the centre of a ring-shaped earthen vessel, which
being filled with water completely surrounded the stem, preventing the
ants from reaching it. Some places are so infested by them that it
is useless planting anything. No means of destroying them are known,
their numbers being so immense, as may readily be seen from the great
quantities of earth they remove.

Many different kinds of wasps’ and bees’ nests are constantly met
with; but we were rather shy of meddling with them. They are generally
attached to the undersides of leaves, especially of the young Tucumá
palm, which are broad, and offer a good shelter. Some are little flat
domes, with a single small opening; others have the cells all exposed.
Some have only two or three cells, others a great number. These are all
of a delicate papery substance; but some have large cylindrical nests,
on high trees, of a material like thick cardboard. Then again there are
nests in hollow trees, and others among their roots in the earth, while
the solitary species make little holes in the paths, and pierce the
mud-walls of the houses, till they appear as if riddled with shot. Many
of these insects sting very painfully; and some are so fierce, that on
their nests being approached, they will fly out and attack the unwary
passer-by. The larger kinds of wasps have very long stings, and can so
greatly extend their bodies that we were often stung when endeavouring
to secure them for our collections.

I also suffered a little from another of our insect enemies: the
celebrated _chigoe_ at length paid us a visit. I found a tender pimple
on the side of my foot, which Isidora pronounced to be a “bicho do
pé,” or chigoe; so preferring to extract it myself, I set to work with
a needle, but not being used to the operation, could not get it out
entire. I then rubbed a little snuff in the wound, and afterwards felt
no more of it. The insect is a minute flea, which burrows into the
skin of the toes, where it grows into a large bag of eggs as big as
a pea, the insect being just distinguishable as a black speck on one
side of it. When it first enters it causes a slight irritation, and
if found may then be easily extracted; but when it grows large it is
very painful, and if neglected may produce a serious wound. With care
and attention however this dreaded insect is not so annoying as the
mosquito or our own domestic flea.

Having made arrangements for another and a longer visit to Magoary,
we packed up our hammocks, nets, and boxes, and went on board a canoe
which trades regularly to the mills, bringing the rice and timber, and
taking whatever is required there. We left Pará about nine at night,
when the tide served, and at five the next morning found the vessel
lying at anchor, waiting for the flood. We were to proceed on to the
mills in a montaria, or small Indian canoe, and as we were five with
the Negroes who were to paddle, I felt rather nervous on finding that
we sank the little boat to within two inches of the water’s edge, and
that a slight motion of any one of the party would be enough to swamp
us altogether. However there was no help for it, so off we went, but
soon found that with its unusual load our boat leaked so much that we
had to keep baling by turns with a calabash all the time. This was not
very agreeable; but after a few miles we got used to it, and looked to
the safe termination of our voyage as not altogether improbable.

The picturesque and novel appearance of the river’s banks, as the
sun rose, attracted all our attention. The stream, though but an
insignificant tributary of the Amazon, was wider than the Thames. The
banks were everywhere clothed with a dense forest. In places were
numerous mangroves, their roots descending from the branches into
the water, having a curious appearance; on some we saw the fruit
germinating on the tree, sending out a shoot which would descend to the
water, and form another root to the parent. Behind these rose large
forest-trees, mingled with the Assai, Miriti, and other palms, while
passion-flowers and convolvuluses hung their festoons to the water’s

As we advanced the river became narrower, and about seven o’clock we
landed, to stretch our cramped limbs, at a sitio, where there was
a tree covered with the hanging nests of the yellow troupial, with
numbers of the birds continually flying in and out. In an hour more
we passed Larangeiras, a pretty spot, where there are a few huts, and
the residence of Senhor C., the Commandante of the district. Further
on we turned into a narrow igaripé, which wound about in the forest
for a mile or two, when a sudden turn at length brought us the welcome
sight of the mills. Here a hearty welcome from Mr. Leavens, and a
good breakfast, quite compensated for our four hours’ cramping in the
montaria, and prepared us for an exploring expedition among the woods,
paths, and lakes in the vicinity.

Our daily routine during our stay at the mills was as follows:—We rose
at half-past five, when whoever pleased took a bath at the mill-stream.
We then started, generally with our guns, into the forest, as early
in the morning is the best time for shooting, and Mr. Leavens often
accompanied us, to show us the best feeding-trees. At eight we returned
to breakfast, and then again started off in search of insects and
plants till dinner-time. After dinner we generally had another walk for
an hour or two; and the rest of the evening was occupied in preparing
and drying our captures, and in conversation. Sometimes we would start
down the igaripé in the montaria, not returning till late in the
afternoon; but it was in my early expeditions into the forest that I
had my curiosity most gratified by the sight of many strange birds and
other animals. Toucans and parrots were abundant, and the splendid blue
and purple chatterers were also sometimes met with. Humming-birds would
dart by us, and disappear in the depths of the forest, and woodpeckers
and creepers of various sizes and colours were running up the trunks
and along the branches. The little red-headed and puff-throated
manakins were also seen, and heard making a loud clapping noise with
their wings, which it seemed hardly possible for so small a bird to

But to me the greatest treat was making my first acquaintance with
the monkeys. One morning, when walking alone in the forest, I heard a
rustling of the leaves and branches, as if a man were walking quickly
among them, and expected every minute to see some Indian hunter make
his appearance, when all at once the sounds appeared to be in the
branches above, and turning up my eyes there, I saw a large monkey
looking down at me, and seeming as much astonished as I was myself. I
should have liked to have had a good look at him, but he thought it
safer to retreat. The next day, being out with Mr. Leavens, near the
same place, we heard a similar sound, and it was soon evident that a
whole troop of monkeys were approaching. We therefore hid ourselves
under some trees, and, with guns cocked, waited their coming. Presently
we caught a glimpse of them skipping about among the trees, leaping
from branch to branch, and passing from one tree to another with the
greatest ease. At last one approached too near for its safety. Mr.
Leavens fired, and it fell, the rest making off with all possible
speed. The poor little animal was not quite dead, and its cries, its
innocent-looking countenance, and delicate little hands were quite
childlike. Having often heard how good monkey was, I took it home, and
had it cut up and fried for breakfast: there was about as much of it
as a fowl, and the meat something resembled rabbit, without any very
peculiar or unpleasant flavour. Another new dish was the Cotia or
Agouti, a little animal, something between a guinea-pig and a hare, but
with longer legs. It is abundant, and considered good eating, but the
meat is rather dry and tasteless.

One day we took the montaria and started to pay a visit to the
Commandante at Larangeiras. The morning was beautiful; swallows and
kingfishers flew before us, but the beautiful _pavon_ (_Eurypygia
helias_), which I most wanted, wisely kept out of the way. The banks
of the igaripé were covered with a species of _Inga_, in flower, from
which Mr. B. obtained some fine floral beetles. Among the roots of
the mangroves numbers of “calling crabs” were running about; their
one large claw held up, as if beckoning, having a very grotesque
appearance. At Larangeiras the Commandante welcomed us with much
politeness in his palace of posts and clay, and offered us wine and
bananas. He then produced a large bean, very thick and hard, on
breaking which, with a hammer, the whole interior was seen to be
filled with a farinaceous yellow substance enveloping the seeds: it
has a sweet taste, and is eaten by the Indians with much relish. On
our expressing a wish to go into the forest, he kindly volunteered
to accompany us. We soon reached a lofty forest-tree, under which
lay many of the legumes, of which we collected some fine specimens.
The old gentleman then took us along several paths, showing us the
various trees, some useful as timber, others as “remedios” for all the
ills of life. One tree, which is very plentiful, produces a substance
intermediate between camphor and turpentine. It is called here white
pitch, and is extensively collected, and when melted up with oil, is
used for pitching boats. Its strong camphor-like odour might perhaps
render it useful in some other way.

In the grounds around the house were a breadfruit-tree, some
cotton-plants, and a fine castanha, or Brazil-nut tree, on which were
several large fruits, and many nests of the yellow troupial, which
seems to prefer the vicinity of houses. Finding in Mr. Edwards’s book
a mention of his having obtained some good shells from Larangeiras, we
spoke to Senhor C. about them, when he immediately went to a box and
produced two or three tolerable specimens; so we engaged his son, a boy
of eleven or twelve, to get us a lot at a vintem (halfpenny) each, and
send them to Mr. Leavens at the mill, which however he never did.

During our makeshift conversation, carried on with our very slender
Portuguese vocabulary, Senhor C. would frequently ask us what such and
such a word was in “Americano” (for so the English language is here
called), and appeared highly amused at the absurd and incomprehensible
terms used by us in ordinary conversation. Among other things we told
him that we called “rapaz” in Americano “boy,” which word (_boi_) in
Portuguese means an ox. This was to him a complete climax of absurdity,
and tickled him into roars of laughter, and he made us repeat it to
him several times, that he might not forget so good a joke; even when
we were pulling away into the middle of the stream, and waving our
“adeos,” his last words were, as loud as he could bawl, “O que se chama
rapaz?” (What do you call _rapaz_?)

A day or two before we left the mills we had an opportunity of seeing
the effects of the vampire’s operations on a young horse Mr. Leavens
had just purchased. The first morning after its arrival the poor animal
presented a most pitiable appearance, large streams of clotted blood
running down from several wounds on its back and sides. The appearance
was however, I daresay, worse than the reality, as the bats have the
skill to bleed without giving pain, and it is quite possible the horse,
like a patient under the influence of chloroform, may have known
nothing of the matter. The danger is in the attacks being repeated
every night, till the loss of blood becomes serious. To prevent this,
red peppers are usually rubbed on the parts wounded, and on all likely
places; and this will partly check the sanguinivorous appetite of the
bats, but not entirely, as in spite of this application the poor
animal was again bitten the next night in fresh places.

Mr. Leavens is a native of Canada, and has been much engaged in the
timber-trade of that country, and we had many conversations on the
possibility of obtaining a good supply of timber from the Amazons.
It seems somewhat extraordinary that the greater part of our timber
should be brought from countries where the navigation is stopped nearly
half the year by ice, and where the rivers are at all times obstructed
by rapids and subject to storms, which render the bringing down the
rafts a business of great danger; where, too, there is little variety
of timber, and much of it of such poor quality as only to be used on
account of its cheapness. On the other hand, the valley of the Amazon
and its countless tributary streams, offers a country where the rivers
are open all the year, and are for hundreds and even thousands of
miles unobstructed by rapids, and where violent storms at any season
seldom occur. The banks of all these streams are clothed with virgin
forests, containing timber-trees in inexhaustible quantities, and of
such countless varieties that there seems no purpose for which wood is
required, but one of a fitting quality may be found. In particular,
there is cedar, said to be so abundant in some localities, that it
could, on account of the advantages before mentioned, be sent to
England at a less price than even the Canada white pine. It is a wood
which works nearly as easy as pine, has a fine aromatic odour, and is
equal in appearance to common mahogany, and is therefore well adapted
for doors and all internal finishings of houses; yet, owing to the
want of a regular supply, the merchants are obliged to have pine from
the States to make their packing-cases. For centuries the woodman’s axe
has been the pioneer of civilization in the gloomy forests of Canada,
while the treasures of this great and fertile country are still unknown.

Mr. Leavens had been informed that plenty of cedar is to found on the
Tocantíns, the first great tributary of the Amazon from the south, and
much wished to make a trip to examine it, and, if practicable, bring
a raft of the timber down to Pará; in which case we agreed to go with
him, for the purpose of investigating the natural history of that
almost unknown district. We determined to start, if at all, in a few
weeks; so having been nearly a fortnight at the mills, we returned to
Pará on foot, sending our luggage and collections by the canoe.

Vessels had arrived from the States and from Rio. A law had been lately
passed by the Imperial Government, which was expected to produce a very
beneficial effect on the commerce and tranquillity of the province. It
had hitherto been the custom to obtain almost all the recruits for the
Brazilian army from this province. Indians, who came down the rivers
with produce, were forcibly seized and carried off for soldiers. This
was called voluntary enlistment, and had gone on for many years, till
the fear of it kept the natives from coming down to Pará, and thus
seriously checked the trade of the province. A law had now been passed
(in consequence of the repeated complaints of the authorities here,
frightening the Government with the prospect of another revolution),
forbidding enlistment in the province of Pará for fifteen years; so we
might now hope to be free from any disturbances which might have arisen
from this cause.

Nothing impressed me more than the quiet and orderly state of the city
and neighbourhood. No class of people carry knives or other weapons,
and there is less noise, fighting, or drunkenness in the streets both
day and night, than in any town in England of equal population. When
it is remembered that the population is mostly uneducated, that it
consists of slaves, Indians, Brazilians, Portuguese, and foreigners,
and that rum is sold at every corner at about twopence per pint, it
says much for the good-nature and pacific disposition of the people.

_August 3rd._—We received a fresh inmate into our verandah in the
person of a fine young boa constrictor. A man who had caught it in the
forest left it for our inspection. It was tightly tied round the neck
to a good-sized stick, which hindered the freedom of its movements,
and appeared nearly to stop respiration. It was about ten feet long,
and very large, being as thick as a man’s thigh. Here it lay writhing
about for two or three days, dragging its clog along with it, sometimes
stretching its mouth open with a most suspicious yawn, and twisting up
the end of its tail into a very tight curl. At length we agreed with
the man to purchase it for two milreis (4_s._ 6_d._), and so fitted
up a box with bars at the top, and got the seller to put it into the
cage. It immediately began making up for lost time by breathing most
violently, the expirations sounding like high-pressure steam escaping
from a Great Western locomotive. This it continued for some hours,
making about four and a half inspirations per minute, and then
settled down into silence, which it afterwards maintained, unless when
disturbed or irritated.

Though it was without food for more than a week, the birds we gave it
were refused, even when alive. Rats are said to be their favourite
food, but these we could not procure. These serpents are not at all
uncommon, even close to the city, and are considered quite harmless.
They are caught by pushing a large stick under them, when they twist
round it, and their head being then cautiously seized and tied to the
stick, they are easily carried home. Another interesting little animal
was a young sloth, which Antonio, an Indian boy, who had enlisted
himself in our service, brought alive from the forest. It was not
larger than a rabbit, was covered with coarse grey and brown hair, and
had a little round head and face resembling the human countenance quite
as much as a monkey’s, but with a very sad and melancholy expression.
It could scarcely crawl along the ground, but appeared quite at home
on a chair, hanging on the back, legs, or rails. It was a most quiet,
harmless little animal, submitting to any kind of examination with no
other manifestation of displeasure than a melancholy whine. It slept
hanging with its back downwards and its head between its fore-feet.
Its favourite food is the leaf of the _Cecropia peltata_, of which
it sometimes ate a little from a branch we furnished it with. After
remaining with us three days, we found it dead in the garden, whither
it had wandered, hoping no doubt to reach its forest home. It had eaten
scarcely anything with us, and appeared to have died of hunger.

We were now busy packing up our first collection of insects to send
to England. In just two months we had taken the large number of 550
species of _Lepidoptera_, of which more than 400 were butterflies, 350
beetles, and 400 of other orders, making in all 1300 species of insects.

Mr. Leavens decided on making the Tocantíns trip, and we agreed to
start in a week, looking forward with much pleasure to visiting a new
and unexplored district.

                             CHAPTER III.

                            THE TOCANTÍNS.

  Canoe, stores, and crew—River Mojú—Igaripé Miri—Cametá—Senhor
    Gomez and his establishment—Search for a dinner—Jambouassú—Polite
    letter—Baião and its inhabitants—A swarm of wasps—Enter the
    rocky district—The Mutuca—Difficulty of getting men—A village
    without houses—Catching an alligator—Duck-shooting—Aroyas, and
    the Falls—A nocturnal concert—Blue Macaws—Turtles’ eggs—A slight
    accident—Capabilities of the country—Return to Pará.

On the afternoon of the 26th of August, we left Pará for the Tocantíns.
Mr. Leavens had undertaken to arrange all the details of the voyage. He
had hired one of the country canoes, roughly made, but in some respects
convenient, having a tolda, or palm-thatched roof, like a gipsy’s
tent, over the stern, which formed our cabin; and in the forepart a
similar one, but lower, under which most of our provisions and baggage
were stowed. Over this was a rough deck of cedar-boards, where the
men rowed, and where we could take our meals when the sun was not too
hot. The canoe had two masts and fore and aft sails, and was about
twenty-four feet long and eight wide.

Besides our guns, ammunition, and boxes to preserve our collections
in, we had a three months’ stock of provisions, consisting of farinha,
fish, and caxaça for the men; with the addition of tea, coffee,
biscuits, sugar, rice, salt beef, and cheese, for ourselves. This, with
clothes, crockery, and about a bushel sack of copper money—the only
coin current in the interior—pretty well loaded our little craft. Our
crew consisted of old Isidora, as cook; Alexander, an Indian from the
mills, who was named Captain; Domingo, who had been up the river, and
was therefore to be our pilot; and Antonio, the boy before mentioned.
Another Indian deserted when we were about to leave, so we started
without him, trusting to get two or three more as we went along.

Though in such a small boat, and going up a river in the same province,
we were not allowed to leave Pará without passports and clearances
from the custom-house, and as much difficulty and delay as if we had
been taking a two hundred ton ship into a foreign country. But such
is the rule here, the very internal trade of the province, carried
on by Brazilian subjects, not being exempt from it. The forms to be
filled up, the signing and countersigning at different offices, the
applications to be made and formalities to be observed, are so numerous
and complicated, that it is quite impossible for a stranger to go
through them; and had not Mr. Leavens managed all this part of the
business, we should probably have been obliged, from this cause alone,
to have given up our projected journey.

Soon after leaving the city night came on, and the tide turning against
us, we had to anchor. We were up at five the next morning, and found
that we were in the Mojú, up which our way lay, and which enters the
Pará river from the south. The morning was delightful; the Suacuras,
a kind of rail, were tuning their melancholy notes, which are always
to be heard on the river-banks night and morning; lofty palms rose on
either side, and when the sun appeared all was fresh and beautiful.
About eight, we passed Jaguararí, an estate belonging to Count Brisson,
where there are a hundred and fifty slaves, engaged principally in
cultivating mandiocca. We breakfasted on board, and about two in the
afternoon reached Jighery, a very pretty spot, with steep grassy banks,
cocoa and other palms, and oranges in profusion. Here we staid for
the tide, and dined on shore, and Mr. B. and myself went in search
of insects. We found them rather abundant, and immediately took two
species of butterflies we had never seen at Pará. We had not expected
to find, in so short a distance, such a difference in the insects;
though, as the same thing takes place in England, why should it not
here? I saw a very long and slender snake, of a brown colour, twining
among the bushes, so that till it moved it was hardly distinguishable
from the stem of a climbing plant. Our men had caught a sloth in the
morning, as it was swimming across the river, which was about half a
mile wide; it was different from the species we had had alive at Pará,
having a patch of short yellow and black fur on the back. The Indians
stewed it for their dinner, and as they consider the meat a great
delicacy, I tasted it, and found it tender and very palatable.

In the evening, at sunset, the scene was lovely. The groups of elegant
palms, the large cotton-trees relieved against the golden sky, the
Negro houses surrounded with orange and mango trees, the grassy bank,
the noble river, and the background of eternal forest, all softened
by the mellowed light of the magical half-hour after sunset, formed a
picture indescribably beautiful.

At nine, A.M., on the 28th, we entered the Igaripé Mirí, which is a cut
made for about half a mile, connecting the Mojú river with a stream
flowing into the Tocantíns, nearly opposite Cametá; thus forming an
inner passage, safer than the navigation by the Pará river, where
vessels are at times exposed to a heavy swell and violent gales, and
where there are rocky shoals, very dangerous for the small canoes by
which the Cametá trade is principally carried on. When about half-way
through, we found the tide running against us, and the water very
shallow, and were obliged to wait, fastening the canoe to a tree. In a
short time the rope by which we were moored broke, and we were drifted
broadside down the stream, and should have been upset by coming against
a shoal, but were luckily able to turn into a little bay where the
water was still. On getting out of the canal, we sailed and rowed along
a winding river, often completely walled in with a luxuriant vegetation
of trees and climbing plants. A handsome tree with a mass of purple
blossoms was not uncommon, and a large aquatic _Arum_, with its fine
white flowers and curious fruits, grew on all the mud-banks along the
shores. The Miriti palm here covered extensive tracts of ground, and
often reached an enormous height.

At five P.M. we arrived at Santa Anna, a village with a pretty
church in the picturesque Italian architecture usual in Pará. We had
anticipated some delay here with our passports; but finding there was
no official to examine them, we continued our journey.

The 29th was spent in progressing slowly among intricate channels and
shoals, on which we several times got aground, till we at last reached
the main stream of the Tocantíns, studded with innumerable palm-covered

On the 30th, at daylight, we crossed over the river, which is five or
six miles wide, to Cametá, one of the principal towns in the province.
Its trade is in Brazil-nuts, cacao, India-rubber, and cotton, which
are produced in abundance by the surrounding district. It is a small
straggling place, and though there are several shops, such a thing
as a watch-key, which I required, was not to be obtained. It has a
picturesque appearance, being situated on a bank thirty or forty feet
high; and the view from it, of the river studded with island beyond
island, as far as the eye can reach, is very fine. We breakfasted here
with Senhor Le Roque, a merchant with whom Mr. Leavens is acquainted,
and who showed us round the place, and then offered to accompany us
in his boat to the sitio of Senhor Gomez, about thirty miles up the
river, to whom we had an introduction, and who we hoped would be able
to furnish us with some more men.

On going to our canoe however, one of our men, Domingo the pilot, was
absent; but the tide serving, Senhor Le Roque set off, and we promised
to follow as soon as we could find our pilot, who was, no doubt,
hidden in some _taverna_, or liquor-shop, in the town. But after making
every inquiry, and search for him in vain, waiting till the tide was
almost gone, we determined to start without him, and send back word by
Senhor Le Roque, that he was to come on in a montaria the next day.
If we had had more experience of the Indian character, we should have
waited patiently till the following morning, when we should, no doubt,
have found him. As it was, we never saw him during the rest of the
voyage, though he had left clothes and several other articles in the

In consequence of our delay we lost the wind, and our remaining man
and boy had to row almost all the way, which put them rather out of
humour; and before we arrived, we met Senhor Le Roque returning. Senhor
Gomez received us kindly, and we staid with him two days, waiting for
men he was trying to procure for us. We amused ourselves very well,
shooting and entomologizing. Near the house was a large leguminous
tree loaded with yellow blossoms, which were frequented by paroquets
and hummers. Up the igaripé were numbers of the curious and handsome
birds, called ‘Ciganos,’ or Gipsies (_Opisthocomus cristatus_), which
are as large as a fowl, have an elegant moveable crest on their head,
and a varied brown and white plumage. I shot two, but they were not in
good condition; and as they are plentiful on all these streams, though
not found at Pará, it was with less regret that I threw them away.
They keep in flocks on low trees and bushes on the banks of the river,
feeding on the fruits and leaves of the large _Arum_ before mentioned.
They never descend to the ground, and have a slow and unsteady flight.

In the Campos, about a mile through the forest, I found waxbills,
pigeons, toucans, and white-winged and blue chatterers. In the forest,
we found some fine new _Heliconias_ and _Erycinidæ_, and I took two
_Cicadas_ sitting on the trunk of a tree: when caught they make a noise
almost deafening; they generally rest high up on the trees, and though
daily and hourly heard, are seldom seen or captured. As I was returning
to the house, I met a little Indian boy, and at the same time a large
iguana at least three feet long, with crested back and hanging dewlap,
looking very fierce, ran across the path. The boy immediately rushed
after it, and seizing the tail with both hands, dashed the creature’s
head against a tree, killing it on the spot, and then carried it home,
where it no doubt made a very savoury supper.

We here had an opportunity of seeing something of the arrangement and
customs of a Brazilian country-house. The whole edifice in this case
was raised four or five feet on piles, to keep it above water at the
high spring tides. Running out to low-water mark was a substantial
wooden pier, terminated by a flight of steps. This leads from a
verandah, opening out of which is a room where guests are received and
business transacted, and close by is the sugar-mill and distillery.
Quite detached is the house where the mistress, children, and servants
reside, the approach to it being through the verandah, and along a
raised causeway forty or fifty feet in length. We took our meals in the
verandah with Senhor Gomez, never once being honoured by the presence
of the lady or her grown-up daughters. At six A.M. we had coffee;
at nine, breakfast, consisting of beef and dried fish, with farinha,
which supplies the place of bread; and, to finish, coffee and farinha
cakes, and the rather unusual luxury of butter. We dined at three,
and had rice or shrimp soup, more variety of meat or fresh fish, and
terminating with fruit, principally pine-apples and oranges, cut up in
slices and served in saucers; and at eight in the evening we had tea
and farinha cakes. Two or three Negro and Indian boys wait at table,
constantly changing the plates, which, as soon as empty, are whipped
off the table, and replaced by clean ones, a woman just behind being
constantly at work washing them.

Our boy Antonio had here turned lazy, disobeyed orders, and was
discharged on the spot, going off with a party who were proceeding up
the Amazon after pirarucú. We now had but one man left, and with two
that Senhor Gomez lent us to go as far as Baião, we left Vista Alegre
on the morning of the 2nd of September. The river presented the same
appearance as below,—innumerable islands, most of them several miles
long, and the two shores never to be seen at once. As we had nothing
for dinner, I went with Mr. Leavens in the montaria, which our Indians
were to return in, to a house up an igaripé, to see what we could buy.
Cattle and sheep, fowls and ducks were in plenty, and we thought we
had come to the right place; but we were mistaken, for the following
conversation took place between Mr. Leavens and a Negro woman, the only
person we saw:—“Have you any fowls to sell?”—“No.” “Any ducks?”—“No.”
“Any meat?”—“ No.” “What do you do here then?”—“Nothing.” “Have
you any eggs to sell?”—“No, the hens don’t lay any eggs.” And
notwithstanding our declaration that we had nothing to eat, we were
obliged to go away as empty as we came, because her master was not at
home, and nothing was hers to sell. At another house we were lucky
enough to buy a small turtle, which made us an excellent meal.

We were to call at Jambouassú, a sitio about fifteen miles below Baião,
where Senhor Seixus, to whom we had a letter, sometimes resided. The
house is situated up a narrow igaripé, the entrance to which even our
Indians had much difficulty in discovering, as it was night when we
reached the place. Mr. Leavens and myself then went in the montaria up
the narrow stream, which the tall trees, almost meeting overhead, made
intensely dark and gloomy. It was but a few hundred yards to the house,
where we found Senhor Seixus, and delivered the letter from his partner
in Pará; and as it is a very good specimen of Portuguese composition
and politeness, I will here give a literal translation of it.

  “_Senhor Jozé Antonio Correio Seixus & Co., Baião._


  “Knowing that it is always agreeable for you to have an opportunity
  of showing your hospitable and generous feelings towards strangers
  in general, and more particularly to those who visit our country
  for the purpose of making discoveries and extending the sphere
  of their knowledge; I do not hesitate to take advantage of the
  opportunity which the journey of Mr. Charles Leavens and his two
  worthy companions presents, to recommend them to your friendship
  and protection in the scientific enterprise which they have
  undertaken, in order to obtain those natural productions which
  render our province a classic land in the history of animals and

  “In this laborious enterprise, which the illustrious (_elites_)
  travellers have undertaken, I much wish that they may find in you
  all that the limited resources of the place allows, not only that
  whatever difficulties they encounter may be removed, but that
  you may render less irksome the labours and privations they must
  necessarily endure; and for men like them, devoted to science,
  and whose very aliment is Natural History, in a country like ours
  abounding in the most exquisite productions, it is easy to find
  means to gratify them.

  “I therefore hope, and above all pray you to fulfil my wishes in
  the attentions you pay to Senhor Leavens and his companions, and
  thus give me another proof of your esteem and friendship.

                           “Your friend and obedient servant,
                                          “JOÃO AUGUSTO CORREIO.”

After reading the letter Senhor Seixus told us that he was going to
Baião in two or three days, and that we could either remain here,
or have the use of his house there till he arrived. We determined
therefore to proceed, as we wished to send back the men Senhor
Gomez had lent us, so returned to our canoe to be ready to start
the next tide. In the morning I went on ahead in the montaria, with
Alexander, to shoot some birds. We saw numbers of kingfishers and
small green-backed swallows, and some pretty red-headed finches
(_Tanagra gularis_), called here “marinheiros,” or sailors: they are
always found near the water, on low trees and bushes. We landed on an
extensive sandy beach, where many terns and gulls were flying about, of
which, after a good many ineffectual attempts, we shot two. We reached
the canoe again as she came to anchor at Baião, under a very steep bank
about a hundred feet high, which commences a few miles below. Here
we had about a hundred and twenty irregular steps to ascend, when we
found the village on level ground, and the house of Senhor Seixus close
at hand, which, though the floors and walls were of mud, was neatly
whitewashed. As the house was quite empty, we had to bring a great many
necessaries up from the canoe, which was very laborious work in the hot
sun. We did not see a floored house in the village, which is not to be
wondered at when it is considered that there is not such a thing as a
sawn board in this part of the country. A tree is cut longitudinally
down the middle with an axe, and the outside then hewn away, and the
surface finished off with an adze, so that a tree makes but two boards.
All the boarded floors at Cametá, and many at Pará, have been thus
formed, without the use of either saw or plane.

We remained here some days, and had very good sport. Birds were
tolerably plentiful, and I obtained a brown jacamar, a purple-headed
parrot, and some fine pigeons. All round the village, for some miles,
on the dry high land, are coffee-plantations and second-growth forest,
which produced many butterflies new to us, particularly the whites and
yellows, of which we obtained six or seven species we had not before
met with. While preparing insects or skinning birds in the house, the
window which opened into the street was generally crowded with boys and
men, who would wait for hours, watching my operations with the most
untiring curiosity. The constantly-repeated remark, on seeing a bird
skinned, was, “Oh, the patience of the whites!” Then one would whisper
to another, “Does he take all the meat out?” “Well, I never!” “Look,
he makes eyes of cotton!” And then would come a little conversation
as to what they could possibly be wanted for. “Para mostrar” (to
show) was the general solution; but they seemed to think it rather
unsatisfactory, and that the English could hardly be such fools as
to want to see a few parrot and pigeon skins. The butterflies they
settled much to their own satisfaction, deciding that they were for the
purpose of obtaining new patterns for printed calicoes and other goods,
while the ugly insects were supposed to be valuable for “remedios,” or
medicine. We found it best quietly to assent to this, as it saved us a
deal of questioning, and no other explanation that we could give would
be at all intelligible to them.

One day, while I was in the woods pursuing some insects, I was suddenly
attacked by a whole swarm of small wasps, whose nest, hanging from a
leaf, I had inadvertently disturbed. They covered my face and neck,
stinging me severely, while in my haste to escape, and free myself from
them, I knocked off my spectacles, which I did not perceive till I was
at some distance from the spot, and as I was quite out of any path,
and had not noticed where I was, it was useless to seek them. The pain
of the stings, which was at first very severe, went off altogether in
about an hour; and as I had several more glasses with me, I did not
suffer any inconvenience from my loss.

The soil here is red clay, in some places of so bright a colour as to
be used for painting earthenware. Igaripés are much rarer than they
were lower down, and where they occur form little valleys or ravines
in the high bank. When Senhor Seixus arrived, he insisted on our all
taking our meals with him, and was in every way very obliging to us.
His son, a little boy of six or seven, ran about the house completely

The neighbours would drop in once or twice a day to see how the
_brancos_ (white people) got on, and have a little conversation, mostly
with Mr. Leavens, who spoke Portuguese fluently. One inquired if in
America (meaning in the United States) there was any _terra firma_,
appearing to have an idea that it was all a cluster of islands. Another
asked if there were campos, and if the people had mandioca and seringa.
On being told they had neither, he asked why they did not plant them,
and said he thought it would answer well to plant seringa-trees, and
so have fresh milk every day to make India-rubber shoes. When told
that the climate was too cold for mandiocca or seringa to grow if
planted, he was quite astonished, and wondered how people could live
in a country where such necessaries of life could not be grown; and he
no doubt felt a kind of superiority over us, on account of our coming
to his country to buy India-rubber and cocoa, just as the inhabitants
of the Celestial Empire think that we must be very poor miserable
barbarians indeed, to be obliged to come so far to buy their tea.

Even Senhor Seixus himself, an educated Brazilian and the Commandante
of the district, inquired if the government of England were
constitutional or despotic, and was surprised to hear that our
Sovereign was a woman.

We at length procured two men, and proceeded on our journey up the
river, having spent four days very pleasantly at Baião. As we went
slowly along the shore, we saw on a tree an iguana, called here a
chameleon, which Mr. Leavens shot, and our men cooked for their supper.
In the evening, we anchored under a fine bank, where a large leguminous
tree was covered with clusters of pink and white flowers and large pale
green flat pods. Venus and the moon were shining brilliantly, and the
air was deliciously cool, when, at nine o’clock, we turned in under our
tolda, but mosquitoes and sand-flies would not allow us to sleep for
some hours. The next day we had a good wind and went along briskly; the
river was narrower and had fewer islands; palms were less abundant than
below, but the vegetation of the banks was equally luxuriant. Here were
plenty of porpoises, and we saw some handsome birds like golden orioles.

On the 9th, early in the morning, we arrived at Jutahí, a cattle
estate, where we expected to get more men; but the owner of the place
being out, we had to wait till he returned. We obtained here about
a gallon of delicious new milk, a great treat for us. We shot a few
birds, and found some small shells in the river, but none of any size
or beauty, and could see scarcely any insects.

As the man we wanted did not arrive, we left on the 10th, hoping
to meet him up the river. I walked across an extensive sand-bank,
where, about noon, it was decidedly hot. There were numerous little
Carabideous beetles on the sand, very active, and of a pale colour with
dark markings, reminding me of insects that frequent similar situations
in England. In the afternoon we reached a house, and made a fire on
the beach to cook our dinner. Here were a number of men and women, and
naked children. The house was a mere open shed,—a roof of palm-thatch
supported on posts, between which the _redes_ (hammocks) are hung,
which serve the purpose of bed and chair. At one end was a small
platform, raised about three feet above the floor, ascended by deep
notches cut in a post, instead of a ladder. This seemed to be a sort of
boudoir, or ladies’ room, as they alone occupied it; and it was useful
to keep clothes and food out of the way of the fowls, ducks, pigs, and
dogs, which freely ranged below. The head of the establishment was a
Brazilian, who had come down from the mines. He had in cultivation,
cotton, tobacco, cacao, mandiocca, and abundance of bananas. He wanted
powder and shot, which Mr. Leavens furnished him with in exchange for
tobacco. He said they had not had any rain for three months, and that
the crops were much injured in consequence. At Pará, from which we
were not distant more than 150 miles, there had never been more than
three days without rain. The proximity to the great body of water of
the Amazon and the ocean, together with the greater extent of lowland
and dense forest about the city, are probably the causes of this great
difference of climate in so short a distance.

Proceeding on our way, we still passed innumerable islands, the river
being four or five miles wide. About four in the afternoon, we came
in sight of the first rocks we met with on the river, on a projecting
point, rugged and volcanic in appearance, with little detached islands
in the stream, and great blocks lying along the shore. After so much
flat alluvial country, it had quite a picturesque effect. A mile
further, we reached Patos, a small village, where we hoped to get men,
and anchored for the night. I took a walk along the shore to examine
the rocks, and found them to be decidedly volcanic, of a dark colour,
and often as rugged as the scoriæ of an iron-furnace. There was also a
coarse conglomerate, containing blackened quartz pebbles, and in the
hollows a very fine white quartz sand.

We remained here two days; Mr. Leavens going up the igaripé to look for
cedar, while we remained hunting for birds, insects, and shells. I shot
several pretty birds, and saw, for the first time, the beautiful blue
macaws, which we had been told we should meet with up the Tocantíns.
They are entirely of a fine indigo-blue, with a whitish beak; but they
flew very high, and we could not find their feeding-place. The insects
most abundant were the yellow butterflies, which often settled in
great numbers on the beach, and when disturbed rose in a body, forming
a complete yellow and orange fluttering cloud. Shells were tolerably
plentiful, and we added some new ones to our small stock. Since leaving
Baião, a small fly, with curiously marked black and white wings, had
much annoyed us, settling on our hands and faces in the quietest
manner, and then suddenly piercing them like the prick of a needle.
The people call it the Mutúca, and say it is one of the torments of the
interior, being in many parts much more abundant than it is here.

Mr. Leavens having ascertained that there was no cedar within a mile of
the water, we arranged to proceed the next day, when a pilot and two
men from Patos had agreed to accompany us to the Falls. In the morning
we waited till eight o’clock, and no one making their appearance, we
sent to them, when they replied, they could not come; so after having
waited a day, we were at last obliged to go on without them, hoping to
be able to get as far as the Falls, and then return. Cedar was quite
out of the question, as men could not be got to work the canoe, much
less to cut timber. We had now altogether been delayed nine or ten days
waiting for men, and in only one instance had got them after all. This
is one of the greatest difficulties travellers here have to encounter.
All the men you want must be taken from Pará, and if they choose to run
away, as they are almost sure to do, others cannot be procured.

At ten in the morning we reached Troquera, on the west bank of the
river, where there is a small igaripé, on which there are some falls.
There were several families living here, yet they had not a house among
them, but had chosen a nice clear space under some trees, between the
trunks and from the branches of which they hung their redes. Numbers of
children were rolling about naked in the sand, while the women and some
of the men were lounging in their hammocks. Their canoes were pulled
up on the beach, their guns were leaning against the trees, a couple
of large earthen pots were on the fire, and they seemed to possess,
in their own estimation, every luxury that man can desire. As in the
winter the place is all under water, it is only a summer encampment;
during which season they collect seringa, grow a little cotton,
mandiocca, and maize, catch fish, and hunt. All they wanted of us was
ammunition and caxaça (rum), which Mr. Leavens supplied them with,
taking rubber in exchange.

We walked about a mile through the forest to the Falls on the igaripé.
Black slaty rocks rose up at a high angle in the bed of the brook, in
irregular stratified masses, among which the water foams and dashes for
about a quarter of a mile: “a splendid place for a saw-mill,” said Mr.
Leavens. There were no palms here, or any striking forms of tropical
vegetation; the mosses and small plants had nothing peculiar in them;
and, altogether, the place was very like many I have seen at home.
The depths of the virgin forest are solemn and grand, but there is
nothing in this country to surpass the beauty of our river and woodland
scenery. Here and there some exquisite clump of plants covered with
blossoms, or a huge tree overrun with flowering climbers, strikes us as
really tropical; but this is not the general character of the scenery.
In the second-growth woods, in the campos, and in many other places,
there is nothing to tell any one but a naturalist, that he is out of

Before leaving Troquera, I shot some goat-suckers, which were flying
about and settling upon the rocks in the hot sunshine. We went on to
Panajá, where there is a house occupied by some seringa-gatherers,
and staid there for the night. All along the sandy shore, from Baião
to this place, are trailing prickly cassias, frequently forming an
impenetrable barrier; and, in places, there is a larger shrubby
species, also prickly. The large-stemmed arums had now disappeared,
and with them the ciganos. The next morning I went with our Indian,
Alexander, to visit a lake, about a mile through the woods. There was
a small montaria, which would just hold two, in which we embarked
to explore it, and shoot some birds. Alligators were very abundant,
showing their heads every now and then above water. Alexander fired
at one, which immediately disappeared, but soon came up again, half
turned over, and with one leg out of water; so we thought he was quite
dead, and paddled up to secure him. I seized hold of the elevated claw,
when—dash! splash!—over he turned, and dived down under our little
boat, which he had half filled with water and nearly upset. Again he
appeared at the surface, and this time we poked him with a long stick,
to see if he were really dead or shamming, when he again dived down and
appeared no more.

We went to the end of the lake, which was about a mile long, and then
returned to the place where we had embarked. I had shot a kingfisher,
and was loading my gun, when Alexander shot at a small coot or rail,
and having a large charge, the shock threw me off my balance, and to
save myself I dropped my gun into the water and very nearly swamped
the canoe. I thought my shooting for this voyage was all over; but,
luckily, the water was only three or four feet deep, and we soon hooked
the gun up. I employed the rest of the morning in taking off the
locks, and by careful cleaning and oiling got all right again.

We went on with a fair wind for a few hours, when two of our men
proposed taking the montaria to go and shoot ducks at a place near,
where they abounded; so Mr. B. and myself agreed to go with them, while
Mr. Leavens proceeded a mile or two on, to get dinner ready and wait
for us. We had about half a mile of paddling to reach the shore, then
half a mile of walking over a sandy beach, when our Indians plunged
into the forest along a narrow path, we following in silence. About a
mile more brought us to some open ground, where there was abundance of
fine grass and scattered clumps of low trees and shrubs, among which
were many pretty flowers. We walked for a mile through this kind of
country, along a track which was often quite imperceptible to us, till
at length we reached an extensive morass covered with aquatic plants,
with some clumps of bushes and blackened stumps of trees.

Our Indians, without saying a word, plunged in up to their knees, and
waded after the ducks, which we could see at a distance, with egrets
and other aquatic birds. As we could do nothing on shore, we followed
them, floundering about in mud and water, among immersed trees and
shrubs, and tangled roots of aquatic plants, feeling warm and slimy, as
if tenanted by all sorts of creeping things. The ducks were far from
easy to get at, being very wild and shy. After one or two ineffectual
long shots, I saw one sitting on the top of a stump, and by creeping
cautiously along under cover of some bushes, got within shot and
fired. The bird flew away, I thought unhurt, but soon fell into the
water, where I picked it up dead, having been shot through the head,
and flown I suppose in the same manner that fowls will run after being

I then came out on to dry land, and waited for the Indians, who soon
appeared, but all empty-handed. A pale yellow water-lily and some
pretty buttercups and bladder-worts were abundant in the lake. We had
a long row to reach the canoe, which we found at Jucahipuá, where
Senhor Joaquim resided, who, we had been told, would pilot us up to the
falls. After a good dinner of turtle I skinned my birds, and then took
a walk along the beach: here were fine crystalline sandstone rocks,
in regularly stratified beds. In the evening a small _Ephemera_ was
so abundant about the candle as to fall on the paper like rain, and
got into our hair and down our necks in such abundance as to be very

In the morning we passed the locality of the old settlement of
Alcobaza, where there was once a fort and a considerable village,
but now no signs of any habitation. The inhabitants were murdered
by the Indians about fifty years ago, and since then it has never
been re-settled. The river was now about a mile wide, and had fewer
islands. There was a fine flat-bedded sandstone here, very suitable for
building. We were shown a stone on which is said to be writing which no
man can read, being circular and pothook marks, almost as much like the
work of nature as of art. The water was here beautifully transparent,
and there were many pretty fishes variously marked and spotted.

About noon we reached the “Ilha dos Santos,” a small sandy island
in the middle of the river, where there was a house, the inhabitants
of which continually asked us for caxaça. We had a land-tortoise for
dinner today, which was as good as turtle. Two hours further we landed
for the night. The river was now very full of rocks and eddies, and we
were unable to go on in our large canoe. The next morning, having put
our redes and some provisions into the montaria, we started with two of
our men and Senhor Joaquim, leaving one man and old Isidora in charge
of the canoe till we returned. In about an hour we all had to get out
of the boat, for the men to pull it up a little rapid over some rocks.
The whole river is here full of small rocky islands and masses of rock
above and under water. In the wet season the water is fifteen to twenty
feet higher than it was now, and this part is then safe for large
canoes. We passed the mouth of an igaripé on the west bank, and another
on the opposite side, in both of which gold is said to exist. Large
silk-cotton-trees appear at intervals, raising their semiglobular heads
above the rest of the forest, and the castanha, or Brazil-nut, grows on
the river-banks, where we saw many of the trees covered with fruit.

We passed the Ilha das Pacas, which is completely covered with wood,
and very abrupt and rocky. The rocks in the river were now thicker
than ever, and we frequently scraped against them; but as the bottoms
of the montarias are hollowed out of the trunks of trees and left very
thick, they do not readily receive any injury. At three P.M. we reached
Aroyas, a mile below the Falls. Here the bank of the river slopes up to
a height of about three hundred feet, and is thickly wooded. There was
a house near the river, with numerous orange-trees, and on the top of
the hill were mandiocca and coffee plantations. We dined here; and when
we had finished, the mistress handed round a basin of water and a clean
napkin to wash our hands,—a refinement we had hardly expected in a room
without walls, and at such a distance from civilization.

After dinner we went on to see the Falls. The river was still about a
mile wide, and more wild and rocky than before. Near the Falls are vast
masses of volcanic rock; one in particular, of a cubical form, thirty
feet on the side and twenty feet high, we passed close under in the
montaria. There are also small islands composed entirely of scoria-like
rocks, heaped up and containing caves and hollows of a most picturesque
appearance, affording evident proofs of violent volcanic action at some
former period. On both sides of the river, and as far as the sight
extends, is an undulating country, from four to five hundred feet high,
covered with forest, the commencement of the elevated plains of Brazil.

On arriving at the Falls we found the central channel about a quarter
of a mile wide, bounded by rocks, with a deep and very powerful stream
rushing down in an unbroken sweep of dark green waters, and producing
eddies and whirlpools below more dangerous to canoes than the fall
itself. When the river is full they are much more perilous, the force
of the current being almost irresistible, and much skill is required
to avoid the eddies and sunken rocks. The great cubical block I have
mentioned is then just under water, and has caused the loss of many
canoes. The strata were much twisted and confused, dipping in various
directions about 12°, with volcanic masses rising up among them. As
nearly as we could judge by the distances we had come, these rapids
must be in about 4° of south latitude, where a considerable bend in the
river occurs. Above are numerous falls and rapids, and after a time the
forest ceases and open undulating plains are found. From the point we
reached, the country becomes very interesting, and we much regretted
that we were unable to explore it further.

On our return to Aroyas, our men, while descending the various smaller
rapids, shouted and sang in the most wild and excited manner, and
appeared to enjoy it amazingly. They had had a hard day’s work, having
paddled and poled about twenty miles against a powerful current, in
some places so strong as to require all their exertions to keep the
boats head up the stream. At Aroyas we took some coffee, and then
turned into our redes in an open shed, about twelve feet square, at the
back part of the house, and where six or eight other members of the
family also found room for themselves. We were kept awake some time
by our pilot, who had got drunk on caxaça, and was very violent and
abusive, so to quiet him we administered another glass or two, which
soon had the desired sedative effect. The next morning he looked very
dull and sheepish; in fact, most of the Tapuyas, or half-civilized
Indians, consider it rather disgraceful to get drunk, and seem ashamed
of it afterwards.

After paying our hostess in biscuit, tea, and sugar, which were great
luxuries to her, we started on our return to the canoe, which we
reached about noon, having staid an hour to explore the igaripé for
gold, but without the smallest success. At the canoe we found that
Isidora had some turtle stew ready, to which we did ample justice, and,
finding the man we had left with him very ill, went on immediately to
Jucahipuah, where he could have some “remedios” given him by the women.
We found there a canoe going to Baião, and sent him by it, as he would
thus get home sooner than if he remained with us.

While walking on the beach I saw a tall, narrow-leaved, white-flowered
_Polygonum_, so like some of our British species as to call up thoughts
of home and of my botanical rambles there. Many curious land-shells
were found, but all dead and bleached, and though we searched
repeatedly we could find no living specimens. The feathers of the blue
macaw were lying about the ground where the people had been feasting
off their flesh, but we could not succeed in obtaining any specimens.

Every night, while in the upper part of the river, we had a concert of
frogs, which made most extraordinary noises. There are three kinds,
which can frequently be all heard at once. One of these makes a noise
something like what one would expect a frog to make, namely a dismal
croak, but the sounds uttered by the others were like no animal noise
that I ever heard before. A distant railway-train approaching, and a
blacksmith hammering on his anvil, are what they exactly resemble. They
are such true imitations, that when lying half-dozing in the canoe I
have often fancied myself at home, hearing the familiar sounds of the
approaching mail-train, and the hammering of the boiler-makers at the
iron-works. Then we often had the “guarhibas,” or howling monkeys,
with their terrific noises, the shrill grating whistle of the cicadas
and locusts, and the peculiar notes of the suacúras and other aquatic
birds; add to these the loud unpleasant hum of the mosquito in your
immediate vicinity, and you have a pretty good idea of our nightly
concert on the Tocantíns.

On the morning of the 19th, at Panajá, where we had passed the night,
I took my gun and went into the forest, but found nothing. I saw
however an immense silk-cotton-tree, one of the buttresses of which
ran out twenty feet from the trunk. On the beach was a pretty yellow
_Œnothera_, which is common all along this part of the river, as
well as a small white passion-flower. Mr. Leavens here bought some
rubber, and we then rowed or sailed on for the rest of the day. In
the afternoon I took the montaria, with Isidora, to try and shoot
some of the pretty yellow orioles. I killed one, but it stuck in a
thick prickly tree, and we were obliged to come away without it. We
passed Patos in the afternoon; near it was a tree covered with a mass
of bright yellow blossoms, more brilliant than laburnum, and a really
gorgeous sight.

The next day we left the land of the blue macaw without a single
specimen. From this place to the Falls we had seen them every day,
morning and evening, flying high over the river. At almost every house
feathers were on the ground, showing that this splendid bird is often
shot for food. Alexander once had a chance at them, but his gun missed
fire, and they immediately flew off. Lower down the river they are
scarcely ever seen, and never below Baião, while from this place up
they are very abundant. What can be the causes which so exactly limit
the range of such a strong-flying bird? It appears with the rock, and
with this there is no doubt a corresponding change in the fruits on
which the birds feed.

Our Indians seeing a likely place on the beach for turtles’ eggs, went
on shore in the montaria, and were fortunate enough to find a hundred
and twenty-three buried in the sand. They are oily and very savoury,
and we had an immense omelet for dinner. The shell is leathery, and the
white never coagulates, but is thrown away, and the yolk only eaten.
The Indians eat them also raw, mixed with farinha. We dined on the
beach, where there was abundance of a plant much resembling chamomile.
The sands were very hot, so that it was almost impossible to walk over
them barefooted. The Indians, in crossing extensive beaches, stop and
dig holes in the sand to cool their feet in. We now got on very slowly,
having to tack across and across the river, the wind blowing up it, as
it always does at this season.

Where we stopped for breakfast on the 21st, I shot a very
prettily-marked small hawk. Insects were also rather abundant, and
we captured some fine _Papilios_, and two or three new species of
clear-winged _Heliconia_. Alexander found a bees’-nest in a hole in
a tree, and got about two quarts of honey, which when strained was
very sweet, but with a hot waxy taste. The comb consists of oval
cells of black wax, very irregular in shape and size, and displaying
little of the skill of our bees at home. The next night, rather late,
we arrived at Jambouassu, the sitio of Senhor Seixus, where we were
kindly received, and, about nine o’clock, turned into our redes in his

The next morning I walked out, to examine the premises. The whole of
the forest, for some miles round the house, is a cacao plantation,
there being about sixty thousand trees, which have all been planted;
the small trees and brush having been cleared from the forest, but all
the seringa and other large forest-trees left for shade, which the
cacao requires. The milk from the seringa-trees is collected every
morning in large univalve shells, which are stuck with clay to the
tree, and a small incision made in the bark above. It is formed into
shoes or bottles, on moulds of clay, or into flat cakes. It hardens in
a few hours, and is blackened with a smoke produced by burning the nuts
of the Urucurí palm, and is then India-rubber. Just before leaving this
place I met with an accident, which might have been very serious. My
gun was lying loaded on the top of the canoe, and wishing to shoot some
small birds near the house, I drew it towards me by the muzzle, which,
standing on the steps of the landing-place, was the only part I could
reach. The hammer however lay in a joint of the boards, and as I drew
the gun towards me it was raised up, and let fall on the cap, firing
off the gun, the charge carrying off a small piece of the under-side of
my hand, near the wrist, and, passing under my arm within a few inches
of my body, luckily missed a number of people who were behind me. I
felt my hand violently blown away, and looking at it, saw a stream of
blood, but felt no pain for some minutes. As we had nothing to put to
it, I tied it up with a quantity of cotton; and about twelve o’clock,
the tide serving, we bade adieu to Senhor Seixus, who had treated us
very kindly both here and at Baião.

On the 24th we staid for the tide, at a house on an island abounding
in cacao and seringa. The water of the river had become muddy, but not
ill-tasted. On the 25th we staid at a sugar estate, where there was
a tree full of the hanging nests of the japims, or yellow troupials.
Seeing a number of the large frigate-bird pelican over the river, I
went out with Alexander in the montaria to try and shoot one, and,
after a few ineffectual shots, Alexander succeeded in doing so. It
measured seven feet from wing to wing; the feet were very small and
webbed, and the bill long and hooked at the end. They appear almost to
live upon the wing, going in small flocks over the river, and darting
down to seize any fish which may appear near the surface. The neck is
partly bare, and very extensible, like that of the true pelicans. There
are two kinds, which fly together, one with the body entirely black,
the other with the head and neck white, which are said to be the male
and female of the same species.

On the 26th we staid for the tide at a low island covered with palms
and underwood. Just as we were going to step on shore we saw a large
snake twisted on a branch overhead, so we hung back a little till
Mr. Leavens shot it. It was about ten feet long, and very handsomely
marked with yellow and black slanting lines. In the wood we got some
assai, and made a quantity of the drink so much liked by the people
here, and which is very good when you are used to it. The fruit grows
in large bunches on the summit of a graceful palm, and is about the
size and colour of a sloe. On examining it, a person would think that
it contained nothing eatable, as immediately under the skin is a hard
stone. The very thin, hardly perceptible pulp, between the skin and
the stone, is what is used. To prepare it, the fruit is soaked half an
hour in water, just warm enough to bear the hand in. It is next rubbed
and kneaded with the hands, till all the skin and pulp is worn off the
stones. The liquid is then poured off, and strained, and is of the
consistence of cream, and of a fine purple colour. It is eaten with
sugar and farinha; with use it becomes very agreeable to the taste,
something resembling nuts and cream, and is no doubt very nourishing;
it is much used in Pará, where it is constantly sold in the streets,
and, owing to the fruit ripening at different seasons, according to the
locality, is to be had there all the year round.

On the east side of the river, which we had kept along in our descent,
there was more cultivation than on the side we went up. A short
distance from the shore the land rises, and most of the houses are
situated on the slope, with the ground cleared down to the river. Some
of the places are kept in tolerable order, but there are numbers of
houses and cottages unoccupied and in ruins, with land once cultivated,
overgrown with weeds and brushwood. Rubber-making and gathering cacao
and Brazil-nuts are better liked than the regular cultivation of the

In the districts we passed through, sugar, cotton, coffee, and rice
might be grown, in any quantity and of the finest quality. The
navigation is always safe and uninterrupted, and the whole country
is so intersected by igaripés and rivers that every estate has
water-carriage for its productions. But the indolent disposition of the
people, and the scarcity of labour, will prevent the capabilities of
this fine country from being developed till European or North American
colonies are formed. There is no country in the world where people can
produce for themselves so many of the necessaries and luxuries of life.
Indian corn, rice, mandiocca, sugar, coffee, and cotton, beef, poultry,
and pork, with oranges, bananas, and abundance of other fruits and
vegetables, thrive with little care. With these articles in abundance,
a house of wood, calabashes, cups and pottery of the country, they
may live in plenty without a single exotic production. And then what
advantages there are in a country where there is no stoppage of
agricultural operations during winter, but where crops may be had,
and poultry be reared, all the year round; where the least possible
amount of clothing is the most comfortable, and where a hundred little
necessaries of a cold region are altogether superfluous. With regard to
the climate I have said enough already; and I repeat, that a man can
work as well here as in the hot summer months in England, and that if
he will only work three hours in the morning and three in the evening,
he will produce more of the necessaries and comforts of life than by
twelve hours’ daily labour at home.

Nothing more of importance occurred, and we arrived safely at Pará on
the 30th of September, just five weeks from the day we left. We had not
had a wet day the whole voyage, yet found to our surprise that it had
been there the same as usual—a shower and a thunderstorm every second
or third day.

                              CHAPTER IV.

                          MEXIANA AND MARAJÓ.

  Visit to Olería—Habits of Birds—Voyage to
    Mexiana—Arrival—Birds—Description of the
    Island—Population—Slaves, their treatment and habits—Journey to
    the Lake—Beautiful stream—Fish and Birds at the Lake—Catching
    Alligators—Strange sounds, and abundance of Animal Life—Walk
    back—Jaguar meat—Visit to Jungcal in Marajo—Embarking cattle—Ilha
    das Frechas.

Soon after our return to Pará, my hand became so much inflamed, that I
was obliged to put my arm in a sling, and go to a doctor, under whose
treatment I remained a fortnight, unable to do anything, not even pin
an insect, and consequently rather miserable. As I intended, as soon as
possible, going to the great island of Marajo, in search of some of the
curious and rare water-birds which abound there, I obtained permission
from Mr. C., an English gentleman, to visit his cattle estates; but as
there was no canoe going there for some weeks, I spent the interim at
Olería, where M. Borlaz kindly offered me a room and a place at his

I found plenty of occupation in procuring specimens of the various
small birds, and making myself acquainted with their habits. None were
more abundant, both in species and individuals, than the bush-shrikes,
which are all remarkable for the same kind of falling note I have
already alluded to, though each one has some slight peculiarity by
which it may be distinguished. They generally hide themselves in the
very thickest and most impenetrable bushes, where it is impossible to
see them except by creeping up within a distance of two yards, when it
is difficult to shoot, without blowing them to pieces. They are small
birds with very loose, long, silky feathers, prettily banded or spotted
with black and white, and are constantly hopping about the bushes and
twigs, picking off whatever small insects they fall in with.

The ant-thrushes are another closely allied group, which are equally
abundant. They have stronger legs and very short tails, and walk more
on the ground, picking up insects, especially ants, very much after the
manner of poultry. When one is shot, it is often a dangerous matter
to go and fetch it, for the ground generally swarms with ants, which
attack an intruder most unmercifully both with stings and jaws. Many
times, after a fruitless attempt, have I been obliged to leave the dead
body on the field, and beat an inglorious retreat.

In all works on Natural History, we constantly find details of the
marvellous adaptation of animals to their food, their habits, and
the localities in which they are found. But naturalists are now
beginning to look beyond this, and to see that there must be some
other principle regulating the infinitely varied forms of animal
life. It must strike every one, that the numbers of birds and insects
of different groups, having scarcely any resemblance to each other,
which yet feed on the same food and inhabit the same localities, cannot
have been so differently constructed and adorned for that purpose
alone. Thus the goatsuckers, the swallows, the tyrant flycatchers, and
the jacamars, all use the same kind of food, and procure it in the
same manner: they all capture insects on the wing, yet how entirely
different is the structure and the whole appearance of these birds! The
swallows, with their powerful wings, are almost entirely inhabitants of
the air; the goatsuckers, nearly allied to them, but of a much weaker
structure, and with largely developed eyes, are semi-nocturnal birds,
sometimes flying in the evening in company with the swallows, but most
frequently settling on the ground, seizing their prey by short flights
from it, and then returning to the same spot. The fly-catchers are
strong-legged, but short-winged birds, which can perch, but cannot fly
with the ease of the swallows: they generally seat themselves on a bare
tree, and from it watch for any insects which may come within reach
of a short swoop, and which their broad bills and wide gape enable
them to seize. But with the jacamars this is not the case: their bills
are long and pointed—in fact, a weak kingfisher’s bill—yet they have
similar habits to the preceding: they sit on branches in open parts
of the forest, from thence flying after insects, which they catch on
the wing, and then return to their former station to devour them. Then
there are the trogons, with a strong serrated bill, which have similar
habits; and the little humming-birds, though they generally procure
insects from the flowers, often take them on the wing, like any other
fissirostral bird.

What birds can have their bills more peculiarly formed than the ibis,
the spoonbill, and the heron? yet they may be seen side by side,
picking up the same food from the shallow water on the beach; and
on opening their stomachs, we find the same little crustacea and
shell-fish in them all. Then among the fruit-eating birds, there are
pigeons, parrots, toucans, and chatterers,—families as distinct and
widely separated as possible,—which yet may be often seen feeding all
together on the same tree; for in the forests of South America, certain
fruits are favourites with almost every kind of fruit-eating bird. It
has been assumed by some writers on Natural History, that every wild
fruit is the food of some bird or animal, and that the varied forms and
structure of their mouths may be necessitated by the peculiar character
of the fruits they are to feed on; but there is more of imagination
than fact in this statement: the number of wild fruits furnishing food
for birds is very limited, and birds of the most varied structure and
of every size will be found visiting the same tree.

Insects were now more abundant than ever, and new kinds were met with
almost every day. Lovely little butterflies, spangled with gold, or
glittering with the most splendid metallic tints, hid themselves under
leaves or expanded their wings in the morning sun; while the larger and
more majestic kinds flew lazily along the shaded forest paths. The more
sombre _Hesperidæ_ were the most abundant, and it would often happen
that, of a dozen specimens taken in a day’s excursion, no two were

At length the canoe, for which I had been waiting, was ready to sail;
and on the 3rd of November we left Pará, for the island of Mexiana,
situated in the main stream of the Amazon, between the great island of
Marajó and the northern shore. We had to go down the Pará river, and
round the eastern point of Marajó, where we were quite exposed to the
ocean; and, though most of the time in fresh water, I was very sea-sick
all the voyage, which lasted four days. The canoe was intended for the
conveyance of cattle, and therefore had no particular accommodation for
human passengers. There was certainly a little cabin, with two berths
just five feet long, but not at all suitable for me (I am six feet two
inches high), so I preferred the hold. Our crew consisted of eight
young Tapuyas,—fine active fellows, from fifteen to twenty years of
age. Each wore a tight-fitting pair of trousers and a very short shirt,
so that six inches of red skin appeared between the two garments. The
shrouds of the canoe consisted of the stay-ropes only, without any
rattlins or cross-steps, yet up these they would run like monkeys,
holding on with their toes.

The island of Mexiana is about twenty-five miles long by twelve broad,
of a regular oval shape, and is situated exactly on the equator. It
is quite flat, and is all _campo_, or open ground, but dotted with
scattered trees and bushes, and with a little forest at the water’s
edge. It is celebrated for its birds, alligators, and onças, and is
used as a cattle estate by the proprietor. The alligators abound in
a lake in the centre of the island, where they are killed in great
numbers for their fat, which is made into oil.

I was accompanied by Mr. Yates, a collector of Orchids, who, after a
few weeks’ stay, not finding much variety of those plants, returned to
Pará. On our arrival we were received by Senhor Leonardo, a German,
who is the overseer, to whom we presented our letter from Mr. C. We
were then shown the rooms we were to occupy in the house, which is
spacious and has an upper story; and having got our luggage on shore,
we soon made ourselves at home. Round the house are a good many orange
and mango trees, behind which is a row of cottages, where reside the
_vaqueiros_ or herdsmen, who are mostly Negroes and slaves; and beyond,
as far as the eye can reach, is the flat campo, dotted over with cattle
and horses.

On inquiring about the best localities for insects, birds, and plants,
we were rather alarmed by being told that onças were very numerous,
even near the house, and that it was dangerous to walk out alone or
unarmed. We soon found however that no one had been actually attacked
by them; though they, poor animals, are by no means unmolested, as
numerous handsome skins drying in the sun, and teeth and skulls lying
about, sufficiently proved. There is no doubt but they are unpleasant
animals to encounter, and their teeth and claws are so fearfully
adapted to destroy whatever may come within their reach, that it is
much better to be a little cautious, than to run any risk: I therefore
put half-a-dozen bullets in my game-bag, in case of an encounter.

Some of the horses and cattle were miserable-looking objects, from
wounds inflicted by the bats, which cause them to lose much blood, and
sometimes, by successive attacks, kill them. Senhor Leonardo informed
us that they particularly abounded in some parts of the island, and
that he often has bat-hunts, when several thousand are killed. It is
a large species, of a coffee-brown colour, probably the _Phyllostoma

The morning after my arrival I took my gun, and walked out to see what
sport the island afforded. First going to a tree near the house, which
Senhor Leonardo pointed out to me, I found numerous humming-birds
fluttering about the leaves (which were still wet with dew), and
seeming to wash and cool themselves with the moisture: they were of
a blue and green colour, with a long forked tail (_Campylopterus
hirundinaceus_). Walking on in the campo, I found abundance of Bemteví
flycatchers, cuckoos, and tanagers, and also shot a buzzard and a black
eagle different from any I had seen at Pará. Insects were very scarce,
owing to the dryness of the season and the absence of forest; so I
soon gave up collecting them, and attended entirely to birds, which
were rather plentiful, though not very rare or handsome. In ten days I
obtained seventy specimens, among which were fourteen hawks and eagles,
several herons, egrets, paroquets, woodpeckers, and one of the large
yellow-billed toucans (_Rhamphastos Toco_), which are not found at Pará.

Having made several excursions for some miles into the interior of
the island and along the coast, I obtained a tolerable idea of its
geography. It is everywhere a perfect flat, the greatest elevations
being a very few feet. Along the shore in most places, and extending
along the banks of the creeks inland, is a belt of forest, varying in
width from a hundred yards to half a mile, containing a few palms and
lofty trees, and abundance of bamboos and climbers, rendering it almost
impassable. The whole of the interior is campo, or open plain, covered
with a coarse herbage, and in places sprinkled with round-headed palms,
and with low branching trees bearing a profusion of yellow flowers.
Scattered about, at intervals of a few miles, are clumps of trees and
bushes, some very small, but others sufficiently extensive to form
little forests. These are generally known as “ilhas,” or islands,
and many of them have separate names, as, “Ilha do São Pedro,” “Ilha
dos Urubus.” In the wet season a great part of the island appears to
be flooded, and dead crabs and fresh-water shells are found a long
way inland: these groves are then probably real islands, though not
perceptibly above the general level.

A phenomenon, which is seen on the banks of the Mississippi and most
other rivers which overflow their banks, also occurs here. The land
is highest near the water’s edge, and gradually falls inland, caused
by the heavier sediment being deposited during floods at the shortest
distance, while the lighter matter only is carried inland, and spread
over a larger area. The surface of the campos is very uneven for
walking, being in little clumps or hillocks, so that it is equally
tiresome and fatiguing to walk on their summits or between them. The
stems of the palms were all covered with orchideous plants, but they
had now generally neither leaves nor flowers, and seemed to be of very
little variety of species. In the marshy places shrubby convolvuli are
abundant, and in others are large beds of cassias and mimosas, while
scattered among them are many delicate little flowers.

Long-tailed, light-coloured cuckoos were continually flying about from
tree to tree, uttering their peculiar note, not at all like that of our
cuckoo, but more like the creaking of a rusty hinge, which the name
given to them, _Carerú_, is intended to resemble. Equally abundant
are the black hornbill cuckoos, called Anús; and on almost every tree
may be seen sitting a hawk or buzzard, the variety of which is very
great, as in a few weeks I obtained eight different kinds. Pretty
paroquets, with white and orange bands on their wings, and others with
an orange-coloured crown, were very plentiful, and it was amusing to
watch the activity with which they climbed about over the trees, and
how suddenly and simultaneously they flew away when alarmed. Their
plumage is so near the colour of the foliage, that it is sometimes
impossible to see them, though you may have watched a whole flock enter
a tree, and can hear them twittering overhead, when, after gazing until
your patience is exhausted, they will suddenly fly off with a scream of

Then among the bushes there were flocks of the beautiful red-breasted
oriole, _Icterus militaris_; but they were unfortunately not in good
plumage at the time of my visit. The common black vulture is generally
to be seen sailing overhead, or seated on some dead tree; and great
Muscovy ducks fly past with a rushing sound, like some great aerial
machine beating the air violently to support its ponderous body, and
offering a striking contrast to the great wood-ibis, which sails along
with noiseless wings in flocks of ten or a dozen. In the skirt of
forest and in the larger “ilhas,” black and spotted jaguars are often
found, while pacas, cotias, tatus or armadillos, deer, and other small
game are plentiful.

The whole population of the island consists of about forty persons, of
whom twenty are slaves, and the remainder free Indians and Negroes in
the employ of the proprietors. These are all engaged in attending to
the cattle and horses on the island, which vary in number, and were
much more numerous three or four years ago; the horses in particular
having been almost exterminated by a disease which suddenly appeared
among them. There were now about fifteen hundred head of cattle,
besides a great number of wild ones, which keep in the remote parts
of the island, and four hundred horses. The slaves and labourers are
allowed farinha only; but they can cultivate Indian corn and vegetables
for themselves, and have powder and shot given them for hunting, so
that they do not fare so badly. They also have tobacco allowed them,
and most of them earn money by making baskets or other trifles, or
by killing onças, the skin being worth from five to ten shillings.
Besides attending to the cattle and horses, they have to build houses
and corrals, to hunt alligators for oil, and kill bats, which do great
injury to the cattle by sucking their blood night after night. The bats
live in holes in trees, where they are killed in considerable numbers,
Senhor Leonardo informing me that they had destroyed about seven
thousand during the last six months. Many hundreds of cattle are said
to have been killed by them in a few years.

The slaves appeared contented and happy, as slaves generally do. Every
evening at sunset they came to bid good-night to Senhor Leonardo and
myself, a similar salutation taking place when they first met us in the
morning. If one goes out for the day to any distance, he bids adieu
to all he may meet, as if he were parting from his dearest friends on
the eve of a long journey; contrasting strongly with the apathy of the
Indian, who scarcely ever exhibits any feelings of regret on parting,
or of pleasure on his return. In the evening they play and sing in
their own houses: their instrument is a homemade guitar, from which
they obtain three or four notes, which are repeated for hours with the
most wearisome monotony. To this music they join an extempore song,
generally relating to some events of the day; and the doings of the
“brancos,” or white people, have often a considerable share in it.
Many of them keep fowls and ducks, which they sell, to buy any little
luxuries they may require, and they often go fishing to supply the
house, when they have a share for themselves.

Every Saturday evening they meet for Divine service, which is performed
in a room fitted up as a chapel, with an altar gaily decorated with
figures of the Virgin and Child, and several saints painted and gilt
in a most brilliant manner. Some of these figures are the work of
Senhor Leonardo, who is an excellent self-taught carver; and when the
candles are lit, and all is in order, the effect is equal to that of
many village churches. Two of the oldest Negroes conduct the service,
kneeling at the altar; the rest kneel or stand about the room. What
they chant is, I believe, part of the vesper service of the Roman
Catholic Church, and all join in the responses with much fervour,
though without understanding a word. Sunday is their own day, for
working in their gardens, hunting, or idleness, as they choose; and in
the evening they often assemble in the verandah to dance, and sometimes
keep it up all night.

While I was on the island a child of a few weeks old was to be
baptized. This they consider a most important ceremony; so the father
and mother, with godfathers and godmothers, set out in a canoe for
Chaves, on the island of Marajó, the nearest place where there is a
priest. They were absent three days, and then returned with the news
that the Padre was ill, and could not perform the ceremony; so they
were obliged to bring back the poor little unsanctified creature,
liable, according to their ideas, should it die, to eternal perdition.
The same evening they sang for three hours to their usual music the
whole history of their journey, judging from the portions which were
here and there intelligible.

They made every fact into a verse, which was several times repeated.
Thus one would suddenly burst out—

    “The Padre was ill, and could not come,
     The Padre was ill, and could not come.”


    “The Padre was ill, and could not come.”

Then for a time the music continued without the voices, while they were
trying to find another fact to found a verse upon. At length some one
continued the subject:—

    “He told us to come the next day,
     To see if he was better.”


    “He told us to come the next day,
     To see if he was better.”

And so on to the end of the history, which struck me as being probably
very similar to the unwritten lays of the ancient bards, who could
thus make well-known facts interesting by being sung to music in an
appropriate and enthusiastic manner. In a warlike nation, what more
would at first be necessary than to relate the bold deeds of the
warriors, the discomfiture of the enemy, and the trophies of victory,
in order to raise the enthusiasm of the audience to the highest pitch?
Some of these would be handed down from generation to generation, the
language improved, and when they came to be reduced to writing, rhyme
would be added, and a regular poem constructed.

Having now arrived at the height of the dry season, and the waters of
the lake before mentioned being sufficiently low, the German steward
informed me that he should make an excursion there to kill alligators,
and I determined to accompany him. There are two ways to reach the
place—overland in nearly a direct line, or round to the other side
of the island in a boat and up a stream, which can be ascended to
within a few miles of the lake, with which indeed in the wet season it
communicates. The tide served for the boat to start about midnight, and
I decided on going in it, as I thought I should thus see more of the
island. The overseer was to go by land in the morning. Being roused
up at midnight, I got into the canoe with three Negroes, and tried to
compose myself for a nap as well as I could upon the baskets of farinha
and salt with which it was loaded. It was a large clumsy canoe, and
with a sail and the tide we went on pretty well; but as morning dawned
we got out rather far from land into the ocean-like river, and the
swell beginning to be disagreeable, I arose from my uneven couch very
qualmish and uncomfortable.

However, about ten o’clock we reached the mouth of the igaripé, or
small stream we were to ascend, and I was very glad to get into still
water. We staid for breakfast in a little clear space under a fine
tree, and I enjoyed a cup of coffee and a little biscuit, while the
men luxuriated on fish and farinha. We then proceeded up the stream,
which was at its commencement about two hundred yards wide, but soon
narrowed to fifty or eighty. I was much delighted with the beauty of
the vegetation, which surpassed anything I had seen before: at every
bend of the stream some new object presented itself,—now a huge cedar
hanging over the water, or a great silk cotton-tree standing like a
giant above the rest of the forest. The graceful assaí palms occurred
continually, in clumps of various sizes, sometimes raising their stems
a hundred feet into the air, or bending in graceful curves till they
almost met from the opposite banks. The majestic murutí palm was also
abundant, its straight and cylindrical stems like Grecian columns,
and with its immense fan-shaped leaves and gigantic bunches of fruit,
produced an imposing spectacle. Some of these bunches were larger than
any I had before seen, being eight or ten feet in length, weighing
probably two or three hundredweight: each consisted of several bushels
of a large reticulated fruit. These palms were often clothed with
creepers, which ran up to the summits, and there put forth their
blossoms. Lower down, on the water’s edge, were numerous flowering
shrubs, often completely covered with convolvuluses, passion-flowers,
or bignonias. Every dead or half-rotten tree was clothed with parasites
of singular forms, or bearing beautiful flowers, while smaller palms,
curiously-shaped stems, and twisting climbers, formed a background in
the interior of the forest.

Nor were there wanting animated figures to complete the picture.
Brilliant scarlet and yellow macaws flew continually overhead, while
screaming parrots and paroquets were passing from tree to tree in
search of food. Sometimes from a branch over the water were suspended
the hanging nests of the black and yellow troupial (_Cassicus
icteronotus_), into which those handsome birds were continually
entering. The effect of the scene was much heightened by the river
often curving to one side or the other, so as to bring to view a
constant variety of objects. At every bend we would see before us a
flock of the elegant white heron, seated on some dead tree overhanging
the water; but as soon as we came in sight of them, they would take
flight, and on passing another bend we would find them again perched
in front of us, and so on for a considerable distance. On many of the
flowering shrubs gay butterflies were settled, and sometimes on a muddy
bank a young alligator would be seen comfortably reposing in the sun.

We continued our journey thus for several hours, the men rowing
vigorously, for fear of the tide turning against us before we reached
our destination: this however happened just as we entered a narrower
part of the stream. The scenery was now much more gloomy; the tall
trees closed overhead so as keep out every sunbeam. The palms twisted
and bent in various contortions, so that we sometimes could hardly pass
beneath, and sunken logs often lay across from bank to bank, compelling
us to get out of the canoe, and use all our exertions to force it over.
Our progress was therefore very slow, and the stream was every minute
running stronger against us. Here was a building-place for various
aquatic birds: the wood-ibis and numerous cranes and herons had their
nests on the summits of the lofty trees over the water, while lower
down was the station chosen by the boat-bill. There was a continual
rustle and flapping of wings as these long-legged, clumsy birds flew
about, startled at our approach; and when I shot one of the large
wood-ibises, the confusion was at its height. Numerous kingfishers were
continually passing up and down, or darting from some dead stick into
the water to seize their prey.

After about two hours of very hard and disagreeable work, we reached
the landing-place, where there was an old deserted cottage, and the
overseer and several Negroes with horses were waiting to convey the
provisions we had brought, to the Lake. We immediately set off on
foot over an extensive plain, which was in places completely bare,
and in others thinly clothed with low trees. There could not be a
greater contrast than between the scene we had just left, and that
which we now entered upon. The one was all luxuriance and verdure,
the other as brown and barren as could be,—a dreary waste of marsh,
now parched up by the burning sun, and covered with tufts of a wiry
grass, with here and there rushes and prickly sensitive plants, and
a few pretty little flowers occasionally growing up among them. The
trees, which in some places were abundant, did not much diminish the
general dreariness of the prospect, for many of the leaves had fallen
off owing to the continued drought, and those that were left were brown
and half-shrivelled. The ground was very disagreeable for walking,
being composed of numerous little clumps and ridges, placed so closely
together that you could neither step securely upon nor between them:
they appeared to be caused by the rains and floods in the wet season
washing away the earth from between the roots of the grass-tufts, the
whole being afterwards hardened by the excessive heat of the sun, and
the grass almost entirely burnt away.

After walking over four or five miles of such ground, we arrived at the
Lake just as it was getting dark. The only building there was a small
shed without any walls, under which we hung our hammocks, while the
Negroes used the neighbouring trees and bushes for the same purpose.
A large fire was blazing, and round it were numerous wooden spits,
containing pieces of fresh fish and alligator’s tail for our supper.
While it was getting ready, we went to look at some fish which had
just been caught, and lay ready for salting and drying the next day:
they were the pirarucú (_Sudis gigas_), a splendid species, five or
six feet long, with large scales of more than an inch in diameter,
and beautifully marked and spotted with red. The Lake contains great
quantities of them, and they are salted and dried for the Pará market.
It is a very fine-flavoured fish, the belly in particular being so fat
and rich that it cannot be cured, and is therefore generally eaten
fresh. This, with farinha and some coffee, made us an excellent supper,
and the alligator’s tail, which I now tasted for the first time, was by
no means to be despised. We soon turned into our hammocks, and slept
soundly after the fatigue of the day. Jaguars were abundant, and had
carried off some fish a night or two before; the alligators too were
plunging and snorting within twenty yards of us: but we did not suffer
such trifles to disturb our slumbers.

Before daybreak I had my gun upon my shoulder, eager to make an attack
upon the ducks and other aquatic birds which swarmed about the lake. I
soon found plenty of them, and, my gun being loaded with small shot, I
killed seven or eight at the first fire. They were very pretty little
birds, with metallic-green and white wings, and besides forming good
specimens, provided us with an excellent breakfast. After the first
discharge however they became remarkably shy, so I went after the
roseate spoonbills, white herons, and long-legged plovers, which I saw
on the other side: they also seemed to have taken warning by the fate
of their companions, for I could not get near enough for a shot, as
there was no means of concealing my approach.

What is called the Lake is a long, winding piece of water, from thirty
to fifty yards wide and of little depth. It is bordered with aquatic
plants and shrubs, and in some parts is thickly covered with floating
grass and duckweed. It is inhabited by immense numbers of the fish
already mentioned, and alligators, which are so thick that there is
scarcely any place where you may not stir one up. There are also great
quantities of very small fish about two inches long, which I suppose
serve as food for the larger ones, which in their turn are probably
sometimes devoured by the alligators; though it appears almost a
mystery how so many large animals can find a subsistence, crowded
together in such a small space.

After breakfast the overseer commenced the alligator-hunt. A number of
Negroes went into the water with long poles, driving the animals to the
side, where others awaited them with harpoons and lassos.

Sometimes the lasso was at once thrown over their heads, or, if first
harpooned, a lasso was then secured to them, either over the head or
the tail; and they were easily dragged to the shore by the united force
of ten or twelve men. Another lasso was fixed, if necessary, so as to
fasten them at both ends, and on being pulled out of the water, a Negro
cautiously approached with an axe, and cut a deep gash across the root
of the tail, rendering that formidable weapon useless; another blow
across the neck disabled the head, and the animal was then left, and
pursuit of another commenced, which was speedily reduced to the same
condition. Sometimes the cord would break, or the harpoon get loose,
and the Negroes had often to wade into the water among the ferocious
animals in a very hazardous manner. They were from ten to eighteen
feet long, sometimes even twenty, with enormous mis-shapen heads, and
fearful rows of long sharp teeth. When a number were out on the land,
dead or dying, they were cut open, and the fat which accumulates in
considerable quantities about the intestines was taken out, and made
up into packets in the skins of the smaller ones, taken off for the
purpose. There is another smaller kind, here called Jacaré-tinga, which
is the one eaten, the flesh being more delicate than in the larger
species. After killing twelve or fifteen, the overseer and his party
went off to another lake at a short distance, where the alligators were
more plentiful, and by night had killed near fifty. The next day they
killed twenty or thirty more, and got out the fat from the others.

I amused myself very well with my gun, creeping among the long grass,
to get a shot at the shy aquatic birds, and sometimes wandering about
the campo, where a woodpecker or a macaw rewarded my perseverance. I
was much pleased when I first brought down a splendid blue and yellow
macaw, but it gave me some hours of hard work to skin and prepare it,
for the head is so fleshy and muscular, that it is no trifling matter
to clean it thoroughly. The great tuyuyú (_Mycteria Americana_) was
often seen stalking about; but, with every precaution, I could not get
within gun-shot of it. The large and small white herons were abundant,
as well as black and grey ibises, boat-bills, blue storks, and ducks of
several species; there were also many black and yellow orioles, and a
glossy starling,—of all of which I procured specimens.

I had an opportunity of seeing the manner of curing fish practised
here. They are partially skinned, and a large piece of meat cut out
from each side, leaving the backbone with the head and skin attacked.
Each piece of meat is then cut lengthways, so as to unfold into a large
flat slab, which is then slightly sprinkled with salt and laid upon a
board. Other slices are laid on this, and, when the salt has penetrated
sufficiently, they are hung upon poles or laid upon the ground in the
sun to dry, which does not occupy more than two or three days. They
are then packed up in bundles of about a hundred pounds each, and are
ready for market. The bones and heads furnish a fine feast for the
vultures, and sometimes a jaguar will carry them away in the night, but
he prefers an entire fish if one is left in his way.

Immediately on the fish being cut up, every part of it is blackened by
thousands of flies, which keep up a continual hum the whole day. In
fact, the sound of animal life never ceases. Directly after sunset,
the herons, bitterns, and cranes begin their discordant cries, and the
boat-bills and frogs set up a dismal croaking. The note of one frog
deserves a better name: it is an agreeable whistle, and, could it be
brought into civilized society, would doubtless have as many admirers
as the singing mouse, or the still more marvellous whistling oyster
described by ‘Punch.’ All night long, the alligators and fish keep
up a continual plunging; but, with the grey of morning, commence the
most extraordinary noises. All of a sudden ten thousand white-winged
paroquets begin their morning song with such a confusion of piercing
shrieks as it is quite impossible to describe: a hundred knife-grinders
at full work would give but a faint idea of it. A little later, and
another noise is heard: the flies, which had weighed down every blade
of grass, now wake up, and, with a sounding hum, commence their attack
upon the fish: every piece that has lain a few hours upon the ground
has deposited around it masses of their eggs as large as walnuts.
In fact, the abundance of every kind of animal life crowded into a
small space was here very striking, compared with the sparing manner
in which it is scattered in the virgin forests. It seems to force us
to the conclusion, that the luxuriance of tropical vegetation is not
favourable to the production and support of animal life. The plains are
always more thickly peopled than the forest; and a temperate zone, as
has been pointed out by Mr. Darwin, seems better adapted to the support
of large land-animals than the tropics.

In this lake the overseer informed me he had killed as many as a
hundred alligators in a few days, whereas in the Amazon or Pará rivers
it would be difficult to procure as many in a year. Geologists, judging
from the number of large reptiles, the remains of which are found in
considerable quantities in certain strata, tell us of a time when the
whole world was peopled by such animals, before a sufficient quantity
of dry land had been formed to support land quadrupeds. But, as it is
evident that the remains of these alligators would be found accumulated
together should any revolution of the earth cause their death, it would
appear that such descriptions are founded upon insufficient data,
and that considerable portions of the earth might have been as much
elevated as they are at present, notwithstanding the numerous remains
of aquatic reptiles which would seem to indicate a great extent of
shallow water for their abode.

The alligator fat and a quantity of fish were now ready, so we prepared
to return home. I determined this time to walk overland, so as to see
the character of the interior of the island. I returned with the two
Negroes to the ruined cottage before mentioned, so as to be ready to
start the next morning for a walk of some ten or twelve miles across
the campo. On our way to the hut we passed over a part which was
burning, and saw the curious phenomenon of the fire proceeding in two
opposite directions at the same time. The wind carried the fire rapidly
in a westerly direction, while, at the same time, by causing the tall
grass to bend over into the flames, they progressed, though at a slower
rate, towards the east. The campos are set on fire purposely every
summer, as the coarse grass being burnt down, leaves room for a fine
crop to spring up afresh with the first rains. Near the hut I shot a
large grey heron, which made us a very good supper; and we then hung up
our hammocks for the night in the little dirty ruined hut, from which a
short time before a jaguar had carried away a large bundle of fish.

In the morning the canoe was loaded to return, and I proceeded along
a faint track homewards. The scene was generally very desolate and
barren. Sometimes there was not a blade of grass for miles. Then would
come a wide bed of gigantic rushes, which extends across the island
nearly from one side to the other. In other places were large beds of
prickly mimosas, and, at intervals, considerable tracts covered with
leafless trees about which numbers of woodpeckers were busily at work.
Hawks and vultures were also seen, and the great red-billed toucan
(_Rhamphastos Toco_) flew by in an undulating course in parties of
three or four. It was cloudy, and there was a good deal of wind; but
at this time of the year no rain ever falls here, so I did not hurry
myself on that account, and, early in the afternoon, reached the house,
rather tired, but much interested with my walk. I forgot to mention
that in the evening, after the alligator-hunt, the Negroes sang several
hymns, as a thanksgiving for having escaped their jaws.

The next day all were busily employed boiling the fat into oil,
which supplies the lamps on all Mr. C.’s estates. It has rather a
disagreeable smell, but not worse than train-oil. I now went out every
day with my gun about the campo, or to the clumps of wood called
islands, on the banks of the small streams. The principal birds I
procured were toucans, parrots, hawks, and buzzards, the red-headed
manakin, and numerous small finches and flycatchers. The mango-trees
were loaded with ripe fruit, and attracted many small tanagers and
paroquets. I now ate the mango for the first time, and soon got to like
it very much. It is not generally eaten in Pará except by the Negroes,
who seem very fond of it, to judge by the certainty with which every
fruit disappeared the moment it became ripe. There seems to be scarcely
an animal that is not fond of it,—cattle, sheep, pigs, ducks, and
fowls, all rush to secure every one that falls.

Soon after Christmas we had a few showers at intervals, and the grass
began to grow more greenly—a sign that the summer was nearly at an end.
Some butterflies and moths now made their appearance, and the skirts
of the forest were covered with passion-flowers, convolvuluses, and
many other flowers. Bees and wasps also began to abound, and several
aquatic birds I had not before seen made their appearance. In January,
Mr. C. and his family and some visitors arrived to spend a few weeks on
the island, and the time passed more pleasantly. Several of the Negroes
were sent hunting, and wild ducks of various species, deer, armadillos,
and fish, with beef and mutton, gave us plenty for our table. Several
jaguars were killed, as Mr. C. pays about eight shillings each for
their skins: one day we had some steaks at the table, and found the
meat very white, and without any bad taste.

It appears evident to me that the common idea of the food of an animal
determining the quality of its meat is quite erroneous. Domestic
poultry and pigs are the most unclean animals in their food, yet their
flesh is most highly esteemed, while rats and squirrels, which eat only
vegetable food, are in general disrepute. Carnivorous fish are not less
delicate eating than herbivorous ones, and there appears no reason why
some carnivorous animals should not furnish wholesome and palatable
food. Venison, so highly esteemed at home, is here the most dry and
tasteless meat that can be had, as it must be cooked within twelve
hours after it is killed.

A good deal more rain now fell, and small pools were formed in some
parts of the campos. About these, plovers and other birds were to
be seen wading, and a small flock of the elegant long-legged plover
(_Himantopus_). After much difficulty I succeeded in killing three or
four of them. The curious razor-bill was also often seen skimming over
the water, and the great tuyuyú occasionally approached near the house,
but always kept out of gunshot, and though I crawled along prostrate
to get within reach of him, he always found me out in time for his own

As I was getting scarcely any insects here, and the birds were not very
valuable, I determined to return to Pará with Mr. C., who was going to
pass a week at his other estate on the island of Marajó by the way.

The journey across in Mr. C.’s schooner occupied but a few hours, and
we then entered a river which leads up to the estate called Jungcal. On
arriving we found a mud-walled house not quite finished, which was to
be our abode while we staid. At the back of the house stretched out, as
far as the eye could reach, a perfectly flat plain or campo, on which
fed numerous herds of cattle. Hound about were “corrals” fenced in for
collecting the cattle, and huts for the “vaqueiros,” or cowherds; and
along the banks of the river were patches of wood, and thickets of a
great prickly bamboo. About the campo were numerous marshes and narrow
streams or ditches, which contained many curious and pretty aquatic
plants. Mosquitoes were plentiful, and annoyed us much in the evenings,
when we wished to enjoy the cool air in the verandah.

The Negroes and Mulattoes employed about the estate were mostly fine
young men, and led a life of alternate idleness and excitement, which
they seemed to enjoy very much. All their work is done on horseback,
where they showed to great advantage, only wearing a pair of trousers
and a cap with a tassel, displaying the fine symmetry of their bodies.
We were much amused by seeing them bring in the cattle, driving them
into the corral, or using the lasso when one was to be slaughtered. For
this purpose they generally get two lassos on the head or legs of the
animal, the end of each of which is held by a horseman. The “matador”
then goes up and hamstrings the poor animal with a cutlass. This quite
disables him: in vain he tries to rise on his legs and run at his
merciless assailants, till the cutlass is thrust into his neck and
deep down into his chest. He is hardly dead when he is skinned and cut
up, and the dogs and vultures rush to feast upon the pool of blood and
entrails which mark the spot. The sight was a sickening one, and I did
not care to witness it more than once.

There were few birds or insects worth catching, and it was not the time
of year for the spoonbills and ibises, which have a building-place
near, and arrive in immense numbers in the month of June.

After spending about a week at Jungcal we embarked to return to Pará.
A cattle-canoe was to accompany us, and we were to take some of the
animals on board our schooner. We started early in the morning, and in
about an hour arrived at a corral on the river-side, where the cattle
were. The boat was anchored about twenty yards from the shore, and
a block and fall rigged to haul them up on deck. In the corral were
twenty or thirty wild cattle, who had been kicking and plunging about
till they had filled the place with mud knee-deep. Several men with
lassos were trying to secure them, by throwing the loops over their
horns. The cattle used all their endeavours to avoid being caught,
by shaking their heads and throwing the cords off before they could
be pulled tight. Each man kept his attention directed to one animal,
following it about to every part of the corral. After a few attempts
he generally succeeded in getting the loop fixed over the horns, and
then half-a-dozen came to his assistance, to get the ox out of the
corral into the water. This was done by some pulling at the lassos,
while others poked and beat the animal with long poles, which would so
irritate it that it would roll itself on the ground and rush at the men
with all its force. At this they did not seem to be much alarmed, but
jumped on one side or sprang on to the rails of the corral, and then
immediately returned to the attack. At length the creature would be
either pulled or driven into the water, and the end of the rope being
quickly thrown on board the canoe, the ox was towed up to the vessel’s
side. A strong rope was then noosed over its horns, by which it was
lifted into the air, struggling as helplessly as a kitten held by the
skin of its neck; it was then lowered into the hold, where, after a
little disturbance, it soon became quiet. One after another were put
on board in this manner, each offering something interesting, arising
from the fury of the animal or the great skill and coolness of the
vaqueiros. Once or twice the lasso, which is made of twisted hide, was
thrown short of the canoe, and I then admired the rapidity with which
an Indian plunged head foremost after it, not stopping even to take
the cap from his head; he then gave the rope to those on board, and
mounting on the back of the swimming ox, rode in triumph to the canoe.

We did not get them all on board without an accident. The principal
herdsman, a strong and active Mulatto, was in the corral, driving the
cattle to one end of it, when a furious ox rushed at him, and with
the rapidity of lightning he was stretched, apparently dead, upon the
ground. The other men immediately carried him out, and Mr. and Mrs.
C. went on shore to attend to him. In about half an hour he revived a
little. He appeared to have been struck in the chest by the animal’s
head, the horns not having injured him. In a very short time he was
in the corral again, as if nothing had happened, and when all were
embarked he came on board and made a hearty dinner, his appetite not
having suffered by the accident.

We then proceeded on our voyage, and as soon as we got into the Amazon
I again experienced the uncomfortable sensation of sea-sickness, though
in fresh-water. The next night we had a very strong wind, which split
our mainsail all to pieces. The following day we landed at a little
island called Ilha das Frechas (the Isle of Arrows), on account of the
quantity of a peculiar kind of reed, used by the Indians for making
their arrows, which grows there. We staid nearly the whole day, dining
under the shade of the trees, and roaming about, picking a wild fruit,
like a small plum, which grew there in abundance; there were also many
curious fruits and handsome flowers which attracted our attention. Some
years ago the island is said to have swarmed with wild hogs, but they
are now nearly exterminated. The next day we passed the eastern point
of the island of Marajó, where there is a sudden change from the waters
of the Amazon to those of the Pará river, the former being yellow and
fresh, the latter green and salt: they mix but little at the junction,
so that we passed in a moment from one kind of water to the other. In
two days more we reached Pará.

                              CHAPTER V.

                      THE GUAMÁ AND CAPIM RIVERS.

  Natterer’s hunter, Luiz—Birds and insects—Prepare for a
    journey—First sight of the Piroróco—St. Domingo—Senhor
    Calistro—Slaves and slavery—Anecdote—Cane-field—Journey into the
    forest—Game—Explanation of the Piroróco—Return to Pará—Bell-birds
    and yellow parrots.

I had written to Mr. Miller to get me a small house at Nazaré, and I
now at once moved into it, and set regularly to work in the forest,
as much as the showery and changeable weather would allow me. An
old Portuguese, who kept a kind of tavern next-door, supplied my
meals, and I was thus enabled to do without a servant. The boys in
the neighbourhood soon got to know of my arrival, and that I was a
purchaser of all kinds of “bichos.” Snakes were now rather abundant,
and almost every day I had some brought me, which I preserved in

As insects were not very plentiful at this season, I wished to get a
hunter to shoot birds for me, and came to an arrangement with a Negro
named Luiz, who had had much experience. He had been with Dr. Natterer
during the whole of his seventeen years’ residence in Brazil, having
been purchased by him in Rio de Janeiro when a boy; and when the doctor
left Pará, in 1835, he gave him his freedom. His whole occupation
while with Dr. Natterer was shooting and assisting to skin birds and
animals. He had now a little land, and had saved enough to purchase a
couple of slaves himself,—a degree of providence that the less careful
Indian seldom attains to. He is a native of Congo, and a very tall and
handsome man. I agreed to give him a milrei (2_s._ 3_d._) a day and his
living. He used to amuse me much by his accounts of his travels with
the doctor, as he always called Natterer. He said he treated him very
well, and gave him a small present whenever he brought a new bird.

Luiz was an excellent hunter. He would wander in the woods from
morning to night, going a great distance, and generally bringing home
some handsome bird. He soon got me several fine cardinal chatterers,
red-breasted trogons, toucans, etc. He knew the haunts and habits of
almost every bird, and could imitate their several notes so as to call
them to him.

In this showery weather the pretty little esmeralda butterfly (_Hætera
Esmeralda_) seemed to delight, for almost every wet day I got one or
two specimens in a certain narrow gloomy path in the forest, though I
never found but one in any other place. Once or twice I walked over
to the rice-mills, to see my friend Mr. Leavens, and get some of the
curious insects which were seldom met with near the city. Several young
men in Pará were now making collections, and it is a proof of the
immense abundance and luxuriance of insect life in this country, that
in every collection, however small, I almost always saw something new
to me.

Having heard much of the “Piroróco,” or bore, that occurs in the Guamá
River at spring-tides, I determined to take a little trip in order to
see it, and make some variation from my rather monotonous life at Pará.
I wished to go in a canoe of my own, so as to be able to stop where
and when I liked, and I also thought it would be useful afterwards in
ascending the Amazon. I therefore agreed to purchase one that I thought
would suit me, of a Frenchman in Pará, and having paid part of the
purchase-money, got it fitted up and laid in a stock of requisites for
the voyage. I took a barrel and a quantity of spirits for preserving
fish, and everything necessary for collecting and preparing birds and
insects. As the canoe was small, I did not want many men, for whom
there would not indeed have been room, so determined to manage with
only a pilot, and one man or boy besides Luiz.

I soon found a boy who lived near, and had been accustomed to bring me
insects. To all appearance he was an Indian, but his mother had Negro
blood in her, and was a slave, so her son of course shared her fate.
I had therefore to hire him of his master, an officer, and agreed for
three milreis (about seven shillings) a month. People said that the
boy’s master was his father, which, as he certainly resembled him,
might have been the case. He generally had a large chain round his body
and leg, as a punishment, and to prevent his running away; he wore it
concealed under his trousers, and it clanked very disagreeably at
every step he took. Of course this was taken off when he was delivered
over to me, and he promised to be very faithful and industrious if I
took him with me. I also agreed with a lame Spaniard to go as pilot,
because he said he knew the river, and some little experience is
required at the time of the Piroróco. He begged for a few milreis
beforehand to purchase some clothes; and when I wanted him to assist me
in loading the canoe he was feasting on biscuit and cheese, with oil,
vinegar, and garlic, washing it down so plentifully with caxaça that
he was quite intoxicated, so I was obliged to wait till the next day,
when, having spent all his money and got a little sober, he was very
quiet and submissive.

At length, all being ready, we started, rowing along quietly with the
flood-tide, as there was no wind, and at night, when the tide turned,
anchoring a few miles up the Guamá. This is a fine stream, about half
a mile wide in the lower part. A short distance up, the banks are
rather undulating, with many pretty sitios. During ebb-tide we managed
generally to anchor near some house or cottage, where we could get on
shore and make a fire under a tree to cook our dinner or supper. Luiz
would then take his gun and I my insect-net, and start off into the
forest to make the most of our time till the tide turned again, when
we would continue our voyage, and I generally had occupation skinning
birds or setting out insects till the evening. About thirty miles
above Pará the Piroróco commences. There was formerly an island in the
river at this point, but it is said to have been completely washed
away by the continual action of the bore, which, after passing this
place, we rather expected to see, now being the time of the highest
tides, though at this season (May) they are not generally high enough
to produce it with any great force. It came however with a sudden
rush, a wave travelling rapidly up the stream, and breaking in foam
all along the shore and on the shallows. It lifted our canoe just as a
great rolling ocean-wave would do, but, being deep water, did no harm,
and was past in an instant, the tide then continuing to flow up with
very great velocity. The highest tide was now past, so at the next we
had no wave, but the flood began running up, instantaneously, and not
gradually, as is generally the case.

The next day we arrived at São Domingo, a little village at the
junction of the Guamá and Capim rivers. I had a letter of introduction
to a Brazilian trader residing here, on presenting which he placed his
house at my disposal. I took him at his word, and said I should stay a
few days. Luiz went into the woods every day, generally bringing home
some birds, and I wandered about in search of insects, which I did
not find very abundant, the dry season having scarcely begun; there
were however plenty of pleasant paths about the woods to the rice- and
mandiocca-fields, and abundance of oranges and other fruit. Our food
was principally fish from the river and some jerked beef, with beans
and rice. The house was little better than a mud hovel, with a bench,
a rickety table, and a few hammocks for furniture; but in this country
the people away from the towns never think of expending any great
labour or going to any expense to make a comfortable house.

After staying nearly a week, with not much success in my collections,
I proceeded up the west branch of the river, called the Capim. My
canoe was a very unsteady and top-heavy one, and soon after leaving
the village a sudden squall nearly upset us, the water pouring in
over the side, and it was with some difficulty we got the sail down
and secured the boat to a bush on the river’s bank till the storm
had passed over. We went pleasantly along for two or three days, the
country being prettily diversified with cane-fields, rice-grounds, and
houses built by the early Portuguese settlers, with elegant little
chapels attached, and cottages for the Negroes and Indians around,
all much superior in appearance and taste to anything erected now. At
length we reached São Jozé, the estate of Senhor Calistro, to whom I
brought letters of introduction. He received me very kindly, and on my
telling him the purpose of my visit he invited me to stay with him as
long as I liked, and promised to do all he could to assist me. He was
a stout, good-humoured looking man, of not much more than thirty. He
had recently built a rice-mill and warehouses, one of the best modern
buildings I had seen in the country. It was entirely of stone; the mill
was approached by arches in the centre, and the warehouses, offices,
and dwelling apartments were at the sides. There was a gallery or
verandah on the first floor connecting the two ends of the building,
and looking down upon the mill, with its great water-wheel in the
centre, and out through the windows on to the river, and a handsome
stone quay which ran along the whole front of the building. It was all
substantially constructed, and had cost him several thousand pounds.

He had about fifty slaves, of all ages, and about as many Indians,
employed in his cane- and rice-fields, and in the mills, and on board
his canoes. He made sugar and caxaça, but most of the latter, as
it paid best. Every kind of work was done on the premises: he had
shoemakers, tailors, carpenters, smiths, boat-builders, and masons,
either slaves or Indians, some of whom could make good locks for
doors and boxes, and tin and copper articles of all kinds. He told
me that by having slaves and Indians working together he was enabled
to get more work out of the latter than by any other system. Indians
will not submit to strict rules when working by themselves, but when
with slaves, who have regular hours to commence and leave off work,
and stated tasks to perform, they submit to the same regulations and
cheerfully do the same work. Every evening at sunset all the workpeople
come up to Senhor Calistro to say good-night or ask his blessing. He
was seated in an easy chair in the verandah, and each passed by with a
salutation suited to his age or station. The Indians would generally be
content with “Boa noite” (good night); the younger ones, and most of
the women and children, both Indians and slaves, would hold out their
hand, saying, “Sua benção” (your blessing), to which he would reply,
“Deos te bençoe” (God bless you), making at the same time the sign of
the Cross. Others—and these were mostly the old Negroes—would gravely
repeat, “Louvado seja o nome do Senhor Jesu Christo” (blessed be the
name of the Lord Jesus Christ), to which he would reply, with equal
gravity, “Para sempre” (for ever).

Children, of all classes, never meet their parents in the morning or
leave them at night without in the same manner asking their blessing,
and they do the same invariably of every stranger who enters the house.
In fact, it is the common salutation of children and inferiors, and has
a very pleasing effect.

The slaves here were treated remarkably well. Senhor Calistro assured
me he buys slaves, but never sells any, except as the last punishment
for incorrigibly bad conduct. They have holidays on all the principal
saints’ days and festivals, which are pretty often, and on these
occasions an ox is killed for them, and a quantity of rum given,
to make themselves merry. Every evening, as they come round, they
prefer their several petitions: one wants a little coffee and sugar
for his wife, who is unwell; another requires a new pair of trousers
or a shirt; a third is going with a canoe to Pará, and asks for a
milrei to buy something. These requests are invariably granted, and
Senhor Calistro told me that he never had cause for refusal, because
the slaves never begged for anything unreasonable, nor asked favours
when from bad conduct they did not deserve them. In fact, all seemed
to regard him in quite a patriarchal view, at the same time that he
was not to be trifled with, and was pretty severe against absolute
idleness. When picking rice, all had a regular quantity to bring in,
and any who were considerably deficient several times, from idleness
alone, were punished with a moderate flogging. He told me of one Negro
he had bought, who was incorrigibly lazy, though quite strong and
healthy. The first day he was set a moderate task, and did not near
complete it, and received a moderate flogging. The next day he was set
a much larger task, with the promise of a severe flogging if he did
not get through it: he failed, saying it was quite beyond his ability,
and received the flogging. The third day he was set a still larger
amount of work, with the promise of a much severer flogging if he
failed to finish it; and so, finding that the two former promises had
been strictly kept, and that he was likely to gain nothing by carrying
out his plan any longer, he completed the work with ease, and had ever
since done the same quantity, which was after all only what every good
workman did on the estate. Every Sunday morning and evening, though
they do not work, they are required to appear before their master,
unless they have special leave to be absent: this, Senhor Calistro told
me, was to prevent their going to a great distance to other plantations
to steal, as, if they could go off after work on Saturday evening, and
not return till Monday morning, they might go to such a distance to
commit robbery as to be quite free from suspicion.

In fact, Senhor Calistro attends to his slaves just as he would to a
large family of children. He gives them amusement, relaxation, and
punishment in the same way, and takes the same precautions to keep
them out of mischief. The consequence is, they are perhaps as happy
as children: they have no care and no wants, they are provided for
in sickness and old age, their children are never separated from
them, nor are husbands separated from their wives, except under such
circumstances as would render them liable to the same separation, were
they free, by the laws of the country. Here, then, slavery is perhaps
seen under its most favourable aspect, and, in a mere physical point of
view, the slave may be said to be better off than many a freeman. This
however is merely one particular case,—it is by no means a necessary
consequence of slavery, and, from what we know of human nature, can be
but a rare occurrence.

But looking at it in this, its most favourable light, can we say that
slavery is good or justifiable? Can it be right to keep a number
of our fellow-creatures in a state of adult infancy,—of unthinking
childhood? It is the responsibility and self-dependence of manhood
that calls forth the highest powers and energies of our race. It is
the struggle for existence, the “battle of life,” which exercises the
moral faculties and calls forth the latent sparks of genius. The hope
of gain, the love of power, the desire of fame and approbation, excite
to noble deeds, and call into action all those faculties which are the
distinctive attributes of man.

Childhood is the animal part of man’s existence, manhood the
intellectual; and when the weakness and imbecility of childhood
remain, without its simplicity and pureness, its grace and beauty, how
degrading is the spectacle! And this is the state of the slave when
slavery is the best that it can be. He has no care of providing food
for his family, no provision to make for old age. He has nothing to
incite him to labour but the fear of punishment, no hope of bettering
his condition, no future to look forward to of a brighter aspect.
Everything he receives is a favour; he has no rights,—what can he know
therefore of duties? Every desire beyond the narrow circle of his daily
labours is shut out from his acquisition. He has no intellectual
pleasures, and, could he have education and taste them, they would
assuredly embitter his life; for what hope of increased knowledge,
what chance of any further acquaintance with the wonders of nature or
the triumphs of art, than the mere hearing of them, can exist for one
who is the property of another, and can never hope for the liberty of
working for his own living in the manner that may be most agreeable to

But such views as these are of course too refined for a Brazilian
slaveholder, who can see nothing beyond the physical wants of the
slave. And as the teetotallers have declared that the example of the
moderate drinker is more pernicious than that of the drunkard, so may
the philanthropist consider that a good and kind slave-master does an
injury to the cause of freedom, by rendering people generally unable
to perceive the false principles inherent in the system, and which,
whenever they find a suitable soil in the bad passions of man, are
ready to spring up and produce effects so vile and degrading as to make
honest men blush for disgraced human nature.

Senhor C. was as kind and good-tempered a man as I have ever met with.
I had but to mention anything I should like, and, if it was in his
power, it was immediately got for me. He altered his dinner-hour to
suit my excursions in the forest, and made every arrangement he could
for my accommodation. A Jewish gentleman called when I was there: he
was going up the river to collect some debts, and brought a letter
for Senhor C. He staid with us some days, and, as he would not eat
any meat, because it had not been killed according to the rules of
his religion, nor any fish that had not scales, which include some
of the best these rivers produce, he hardly found anything at table
the first day that he could partake of. Every day afterwards however,
while he was with us, there was a variety of scaled fish provided,
boiled and roasted, stewed and fried, with eggs, rice, and vegetables
in abundance, so that he could always make an excellent meal. Senhor
C. was much amused at his scruples, though perfectly polite about
them, and delighted to ask him about the rites of his religion, and me
about mine, and would then tell us the Catholic doctrine on the same
questions. He related to us many anecdotes, of which the following is
a specimen, serving to illustrate the credulity of the Negroes. “There
was a Negro,” said he, “who had a pretty wife, to whom another Negro
was rather attentive when he had an opportunity. One day the husband
went out to hunt, and the other party thought it a good opportunity
to pay a visit to the lady. The husband however returned rather
unexpectedly, and the visitor climbed up on the rafters to be out of
sight among the old boards and baskets that were stowed away there. The
husband put his gun by in a corner, and called to his wife to get his
supper, and then sat down in his hammock. Casting his eyes up to the
rafters, he saw a leg protruding from among the baskets, and, thinking
it something supernatural, crossed himself, and said, ‘Lord, deliver us
from the legs appearing overhead!’ The other, hearing this, attempted
to draw up his legs out of sight, but, losing his balance, came down
suddenly on the floor in front of the astonished husband, who, half
frightened, asked, ‘Where do you come from?’ ‘I have just come from
heaven,’ said the other, and have brought you news of your little
daughter Maria.’ ‘Oh! wife, wife! come and see a man who has brought
us news of our little daughter Maria;’ then, turning to the visitor,
continued: ‘And what was my little daughter doing when you left?’ ‘Oh!
she was sitting at the feet of the Virgin, with a golden crown on her
head, and smoking a golden pipe a yard long,’ ‘And did she not send any
message to us?’ ‘Oh yes, she sent many remembrances, and begged you to
send her two pounds of your tobacco from the little rhossa, they have
not got any half so good up there.’ ‘Oh! wife, wife! bring two pounds
of our tobacco from the little rhossa, for our daughter Maria is in
heaven, and she says they have not any half so good up there.’ So the
tobacco was brought, and the visitor was departing, when he was asked:
‘Are there many white men up there?’ ‘Very few,’ he replied; ‘they are
all down below with the _diabo_.’ ‘I thought so,’ the other replied,
apparently quite satisfied; ‘good night!’”

Senhor Calistro had a beautiful canoe made of a single piece of wood,
without a nail, the benches being all notched in. He often went in
it to Pará, near two hundred miles, and, with twelve good Indians to
paddle, and plenty of caxaça, reached the city, without stopping, in
twenty-four hours. We sometimes went out to inspect the cane-fields
in this canoe, with eight little Negro and Indian boys to paddle, who
were always ready for such service. I then took my gun and net, and
shot some birds or caught any insects that we met with, while Senhor
Calistro would send the boys to climb after any handsome flowers I
admired, or to gather the fruit of the passion-flowers, which hung
like golden apples in the thickets on the banks. His cane-field this
year was a mile and a half long and a quarter of a mile wide, and very
luxuriant; across it were eight roads, all planted on each side with
bananas and pine-apples. He informed me that when the fruit was in
full season all the slaves and Indians had as much as they liked to
take, and could never finish them all; but, said he, “It is not much
trouble planting them when setting the cane-field, and I always do it,
for I like to have plenty.” It was altogether a noble sight,—a sample
of the overflowing abundance produced by a fertile soil and a tropical
sun. Having mentioned that I much wished to get a collection of fish
to preserve in spirits, he set several Indians to work stopping up
igaripés to poison the water, and others to fish at night with line and
bow and arrow; all that they procured being brought to me to select
from, and the rest sent to the kitchen. The best way of catching a
variety was however with a large drag-net fifty or sixty yards long.
We went out one day in two canoes, and with about twenty Negroes and
Indians, who swam with the net in the water, making a circuit, and
then drew it out on to a beach. We had not very good fortune, but soon
filled two half-bushel baskets with a great variety of fish, large
and small, from which I selected a number of species to increase my

Senhor Calistro was now going to send several Indian hunters up a
small stream into the deep forest to hunt for him, and salt and dry
game, and bring home live tortoises, of which there are great numbers
in the forest. I particularly wanted a large and handsome species of
_Tinamus_, or Brazilian partridge, which is found in these forests,
but which I had not yet met with since I saw one being plucked for
supper on the Tocantíns; I was also anxious to procure the hyacinthine
macaw: so he kindly offered to let me go with them, and to lend me a
small canoe and another Indian, to return when I liked, as they were
going to stay two or three months. All the Indians took, was farinha
and salt, with powder and shot; but my kind host loaded my canoe with
fowls, roast meat, eggs, plantains, pine-apples, and cocoa-nuts, so
that I went well provided. It was about half a day’s journey further
up the river, to the mouth of the narrow stream or igaripé we were to
enter; after going up which a short distance we staid at the cottage of
some acquaintances of our men for the night. The next morning early we
proceeded on our journey, and soon passed the last house, and entered
upon the wild, unbroken, and uninhabited virgin forest. The stream
was very narrow and very winding, running with great rapidity round
the bends, and often much obstructed by bushes and fallen trees. The
branches almost met overhead, and it was as dark and gloomy and silent
as can be imagined. In these sombre shades a flower was scarcely ever
to be found. A few of the large blue butterflies (_Morphos_) were
occasionally seen flitting over the water or seated upon a leaf on the
banks, and numerous green-backed kingfishers darted along before us.
Early in the afternoon we found a little cleared place where hunters
were accustomed to stay, and here we hung up our hammocks, lit our
fire, and prepared to pass the night. After an excellent supper and
some coffee, I lay down in my hammock, gazing up through the leafy
canopy overhead, to the skies spangled with brightly shining stars,
from which the fire-flies, flitting among the foliage, could often
hardly be distinguished. They were a species of _Pyrophorus_, larger
than any I had seen in Pará. They seemed attracted by the fire, to
which they came in numbers; by moving one over the lines of a newspaper
I was enabled easily to read it. The Indians amused themselves by
recounting their hunting adventures, their escapes from jaguars and
serpents, or of their being lost in the forest. One told how he had
been lost for ten days, and all that time had eaten nothing, for he had
no farinha, and though he could have killed game he would not eat it
alone, and seemed quite surprised that I should think him capable of
such an action, though I should certainly have imagined a week’s fast
would have overcome any scruples of that sort.

The next day the Indians went hunting, proposing to return early in
the afternoon to proceed on, and I searched the woods after insects;
but in these gloomy forests, and without any paths along which I could
walk with confidence, I met with little success. In the afternoon some
of them returned with two trumpeters (_Psophia viridis_) and a monkey,
which I skinned; but as one Indian did not arrive till late, we could
not continue our voyage till the next day. This night we were not so
fortunate as the last, for just about dusk it began to rain, and our
canoes were so small and so loaded with articles that must be kept dry,
that we had little chance of making ourselves comfortable in them.
I managed to crowd in somehow, terribly cramped, hoping the shower
would soon pass over; but as it did not, and we had turned in without
our suppers, I began to feel very hungry. It was pitch-dark, but I
groped my way out, fumbled about for some wood, and with an Indian’s
assistance made up the fire, by which I sat with some palm-leaves over
my head, and made a hearty meal of Jacu (a species of _Penelope_),
which had been stewed in the afternoon. When I had finished, I was
pretty well soaked; but to find or put on dry clothes was out of the
question, so I again rolled myself up uncomfortably into a ball, and
slept pretty well till daybreak, when it had just ceased raining, and
a cup of hot coffee set me all right. We then again started off, but
this day had great difficulties to encounter: several sunken logs were
passed over with great labour, but at last there was a tree fallen
over the stream, which the canoe could not possibly pass under, so
we had to spend more than an hour cutting it through with axes which
we carried for the purpose. About three in the afternoon we reached
another stopping-place, and as we did not wish to have a repetition
of last night’s enjoyment, the Indians set to work making a little
sleeping-hut. They had a long way to go for thatch, as there was only
one palm-tree about a mile off, and this they cut down to supply us
with a roof.

However, as we took the trouble to make a house, we had fine weather
the three days we staid, and did not want it. While here we had not
much success. The hunters killed some deer, large birds, and monkeys,
but did not meet with either of those I particularly wanted. Insects
also, as at the former station, were very scarce, and though I got
several curious small birds, I was not very well satisfied with the
success of my expedition.

Accordingly, after three days, I set out on my return, the rest of
the party proceeding further up into the forest in search of a better
hunting-ground. On the second day we again reached the open river, and
I much enjoyed the change from the dark forest, the damp foliage and
decaying leaves and branches, to the bright sunshine and the blue sky,
with the chirping birds and the gay flowers on the banks. Passing an
estate of Senhor Calistro’s on the opposite side of the river, I went
on shore to shoot a large goatsucker which was sitting on the ground
in the sunshine, and succeeded in killing two, which I skinned on our
way to São Jozé, where we arrived just in time for supper, and were
heartily received by Senhor Calistro. After a few days more I left his
hospitable roof, loaded with luxuries: eggs, tapioca, a roast pig,
pine-apples, and sweets were sent to my canoe; and I bade adieu with
regret to my kind host.

On our way down I again encountered the “piroróco” when I hardly
expected it. We had gone in shore at a sugar estate to wait for the
tide, when the agent told us we had better put out further into the
stream, as the piroróco beat there. Though thinking he only wished to
frighten us, we judged it prudent to do as he advised; and while we
were expecting the tide to turn, a great wave came suddenly rushing
along, and breaking on the place where our canoe had been at first
moored. The wave having passed, the water was as quiet as before, but
flowing up with great rapidity. As we proceeded down the river, we
saw everywhere signs of its devastations in the uprooted trees which
lined the shores all along, and the high mud-banks where the earth
had been washed away. In winter, when the spring-tides are highest,
the “piroróco” breaks with terrific force, and often sinks and dashes
to pieces, boats left incautiously in too shallow water. The ordinary
explanations given of this phenomenon are evidently incorrect. Here
there is no meeting of salt and fresh water, neither is the stream
remarkably narrowed where it commences. I collected all the information
I could respecting the depth of the river, and the shoals that occur in
it. Where the bore first appears, there is a shoal across the river,
and below that, the stream is somewhat contracted. The tide flows up
past Pará with great velocity, and entering the Guamá river comes to
the narrow part of the channel. Here the body of tidal water will be
deeper and flow faster, and coming suddenly on to the shoal will form
a wave, in the same manner that in a swift brook a large stone at the
bottom will cause an undulation, while a slow-flowing stream will keep
its smooth surface. This wave will be of great size, and, as there is
a large body of water in motion, will be propagated onwards unbroken.
Wherever there are shallows, either in the bed or on the margin of
the river, it will break, or as it passes over slight shoals will be
increased, and, as the river narrows, will go on with greater rapidity.
When the tides are low, they rise less rapidly, and at the commencement
a much less body of water is put in motion: the depth of the moving
water is less, and does not come in contact with the bottom in passing
over the shoal, and so no wave is formed. It is only when the body of
water in motion, as the tide first flows in, is of sufficient depth,
that it comes in contact with the shoal, and is, as it were, lifted up
by it, forming a great rolling wave.


The above diagram will show more clearly the manner in which I suppose
the wave to the formed. A A represents the level of the water when the
tide is out; D D the bottom of the river; B B the depth to which the
water is put in motion at low tides, not reaching so deep as the bottom
of the river at the shoal C, at which time no wave, but a swift current
only, is formed; C´ C the depth to which the water is set in motion at
spring-tides, when the mass, coming in contact with the bottom at C,
is lifted up, and forms a wave at E, which is propagated up the river.
It appears therefore that there must exist some peculiar formation of
the bottom, and not merely a narrowing and widening in a tidal river to
produce a bore, otherwise it would occur much more frequently than it
does. In the Mojú and Acarrá the same phenomenon is said to take place;
and, as these rivers all run parallel to each other, it is probable
that the same bed of rock running across produces a somewhat similar
shoal in all of them. It may also easily be seen why there is only one
wave, not a succession of them; for, when the first wave has passed,
the water has risen so much that the stream now flows clear over the
shoal, and is therefore not affected by it.

On arriving at Pará I again took up my abode at Nazaré. I had found in
this voyage that my canoe was far too unsteady and confined to think
of going up the Amazon in it, so I returned it to the owner, who had
warranted it steady and adapted for my purpose, but, after much trouble
and annoyance, I was obliged to lose the £10 I had given in part
payment. In the beginning of July, my younger brother H. came out to
Pará to assist me; and by the return of the vessel in which he arrived,
I sent off my collections of fish and insects up to this time.

We had the good fortune one day to fall in with a small flock of the
rare and curious bell-bird (_Casmarhynchos carunculata_), but they were
on a very thick lofty tree, and took flight before we could get a shot
at them. Though it was about four miles off in the forest, we went
again the next day, and found them feeding on the same tree, but had
no better success. On the third day we went to the same spot, but from
that time saw them no more. The bird is of a pure white colour, the
size of a blackbird, has a broad bill, and feeds on fruits. From the
base of the bill above, grows a fleshy tubercle, two to three inches
long, and as thick as a quill, sparingly clothed with minute feathers:
it is quite lax, and hangs down on one side of the bird’s head, not
stuck up like a horn, as we see it placed in some stuffed specimens.
This bird is remarkable for its loud clear ringing note, like a bell,
which it utters at midday, when most other birds are silent.

A few days after, we found feeding on the same tree some beautiful
yellow parrots. They are called here imperial parrots, and are much
esteemed because their colours are those of the Brazilian flag—yellow
and green. I had long been seeking them, and was much pleased when my
brother shot one. It is the _Conurus Carolineæ_, and is figured by Spix
in his expensive work on the birds of Brazil.

                              CHAPTER VI.

                       SANTAREM AND MONTEALEGRE.

  Leave Pará—Enter the Amazon—Its peculiar features—Arrive
    at Santarem—The town and its inhabitants—Voyage to
    Montealegre—Mosquito plague and its remedy—Journey to
    the Serras—A cattle estate—Rocks, picture writings, and
    cave—The _Victoria regia_—Mandiocca fields—A festa—Return to
    Santarem—Beautiful insects—Curious tidal phenomenon—Leave
    Santarem—Obydos—Villa Nova—A kind priest—Serpa—Christmas Day on
    the Amazon.

We now prepared for our voyage up the Amazon; and, from information we
obtained of the country, determined first to go as far as Santarem,
a town about five hundred miles up the river, and the seat of a
considerable trade. We had to wait a long time to procure a passage,
but at length with some difficulty agreed to go in a small empty canoe
returning to Santarem.

We were to have the hold to ourselves, and found it very redolent of
salt-fish, and some hides which still remained in it did not improve
the odour. But voyagers on the Amazon must not be fastidious, so we got
our things on board, and hung up our hammocks as conveniently as we
could for the journey.

Our canoe had a very uneven deck, and, we soon found, a very leaky
one, which annoyed us much by wetting our clothes and hammocks; and
there were no bulwarks, which, in the quiet waters of the Amazon, are
not necessary. We laid in a good stock of provisions for the voyage,
and borrowed some books from our English and American friends, to help
to pass away the time; and in the beginning of August, left Pará with
a fine wind, which soon carried us beyond the islands opposite the
city into the wide river beyond. The next day we crossed the little
sea formed opposite the mouth of the Tocantíns, and sailed up a fine
stream till we entered again among islands, and soon got into the
narrow channel which forms the communication between the Pará and
Amazon rivers. We passed the little village of Breves, the trade of
which consists principally of India-rubber, and painted basins and
earthenware, very brilliantly coloured. Some of our Indians went on
shore while we staid for the tide, and returned rather tipsy, and with
several little clay teapot-looking doves, much valued higher up the

We proceeded for several days in those narrow channels, which form a
net-work of water—a labyrinth quite unknown, except to the inhabitants
of the district. We had to wait daily for the tide, and then to help
ourselves on by warping along shore, there being no wind. A small
montaria was sent on ahead, with a long rope, which the Indians
fastened to some projecting tree or bush, and then returned with the
other end to the large canoe, which was pulled up by it. The rope was
then taken on again, and the operation repeated continually till the
tide turned, when we could not make way against the current. In many
parts of the channel I was much pleased with the bright colours of the
leaves, which displayed all the variety of autumnal tints in England.
The cause however was different: the leaves were here budding, instead
of falling. On first opening they were pale reddish, then bright
red, brown, and lastly green; some were yellow, some ochre, and some
copper-colour, which, together with various shades of green, produced a
most beautiful appearance.

It was about ten days after we left Pará that the stream began to
widen out and the tide to flow into the Amazon, instead of into the
Pará river, giving us the longer ebb to make way with. In about two
days more we were in the Amazon itself, and it was with emotions of
admiration and awe that we gazed upon the stream of this mighty and
far-famed river. Our imagination wandered to its sources in the distant
Andes, to the Peruvian Incas of old, to the silver mountains of Potosi,
and the gold-seeking Spaniards and wild Indians who now inhabit the
country about its thousand sources. What a grand idea it was to think
that we now saw the accumulated waters of a course of three thousand
miles; that all the streams that for a length of twelve hundred
miles drained from the snow-clad Andes were here congregated in the
wide extent of ochre-coloured water spread out before us! Venezuela,
Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil—six mighty states,
spreading over a country far larger than Europe—had each contributed to
form the flood which bore us so peacefully on its bosom.

We now felt the influence of the easterly wind, which during the whole
of the summer months blows pretty steadily up the Amazon, and enables
vessels to make way against its powerful current. Sometimes we had
thunder-storms, with violent squalls, which, as they were generally
in the right direction, helped us along the faster; and twice we ran
aground on shoals, which caused us some trouble and delay. We had
partly to unload the canoe into the montaria, and then, by getting out
anchors in the deep water, managed after some hard pulling to extricate
ourselves. Sometimes we caught fish, which were a great luxury for us,
or went on shore, to purchase fruit at some Indian’s cottage.

The most striking features of the Amazon are—its vast expanse of smooth
water, generally from three to six miles wide; its pale yellowish-olive
colour; the great beds of aquatic grass which line its shores, large
masses of which are often detached, and form floating islands; the
quantity of fruits and leaves and great trunks of trees which it
carries down, and its level banks clad with lofty unbroken forest. In
places the white stems and leaves of the _Cecropias_ give a peculiar
aspect, and in others the straight dark trunks of lofty forest-trees
form a living wall along the water’s edge. There is much animation,
too, on this giant stream. Numerous flocks of parrots, and the great
red and yellow macaws, fly across every morning and evening, uttering
their hoarse cries. Many kinds of herons and rails frequent the marshes
on its banks, and the large handsome duck (_Chenalobex jubata_) is
often seen swimming about the bays and inlets. But perhaps the most
characteristic birds of the Amazon are the gulls and terns, which
are in great abundance: all night long their cries are heard over the
sand-banks, where they deposit their eggs, and during the day they
constantly attracted our attention by their habit of sitting in a row
on a floating log, sometimes a dozen or twenty side by side, and going
for miles down the stream as grave and motionless as if they were on
some very important business. These birds deposit their eggs in little
hollows in the sand, and the Indians say that during the heat of the
day they carry water in their beaks to moisten them and prevent their
being roasted by the glowing rays of the sun. Besides these there are
divers and darters in abundance, porpoises are constantly blowing in
every direction, and alligators are often seen slowly swimming across
the river.

On the north bank of the Amazon, for about two hundred miles, are
ranges of low hills, which, as well as the country between them, are
partly bare and partly covered with brush and thickets. They vary from
300 to 1000 feet high, and extend inland, being probably connected
with the mountains of Cayenne and Guiana. After passing them there
are no more hills visible from the river for more than two thousand
miles, till we reach the lowest ranges of the Andes: they are called
the Serras de Paru, and terminate in the Serras de Montealegre, near
the little village of Montealegre, about one hundred miles below
Santarem. A few other small villages were passed, and here and there
some Brazilian’s country-house or Indian’s cottage, often completely
buried in the forest. Fishermen were sometimes seen in their canoes,
and now and then a large schooner passing down the middle of the river,
while often for a whole day we would not pass a house or see a human
being. The wind, too, was seldom enough for us to make way against the
stream, and then we had to proceed by the laborious and tedious method
of warping already described.

At length, after a prolonged voyage of twenty-eight days, we reached
Santarem, at the mouth of the river Tapajoz, whose blue, transparent
waters formed a most pleasing contrast to the turbid stream of the
Amazon. We brought letters of introduction to Captain Hislop, an old
Scotchman settled here many years. He immediately sent a servant to get
a house for us, which after some difficulty was done, and hospitably
invited us to take our meals at his table as long as we should find it
convenient. Our house was by no means an elegant one, having mud walls
and floors, and an open tiled roof, and all very dusty and ruinous;
but it was the best we could get, so we made ourselves contented. As
we thought of going to Montealegre, three days’ voyage down the river,
before settling ourselves for any time at Santarem, we accepted Captain
Hislop’s kind invitation as far as regarded dinner, but managed to
provide breakfast and tea for ourselves.

The town of Santarem is pleasantly situated on a slope at the mouth of
the Tapajoz, with a fine sandy beach, and a little hill at one end,
where a mud fort commands the approach from the Amazon. The houses are
neat and the streets regular, but, owing to there being no wheeled
vehicles and but few horses, they are overgrown with grass. The church
is a handsome building with two towers, and the houses are mostly
coloured white or yellow, with the doors and windows painted bright
green. There is no quay or wharf of any kind, everything being landed
in montarias, so that you can seldom get on shore without a wet shoe
and stocking. There is a fine beach extending for some miles above and
below the town, where all the washing of the place is done, the linen
being beautifully bleached on the hot sand. At all hours of the day
are plenty of bathers, and the Negro and Indian children are quite
amphibious animals. At the back of the town are extensive sandy campos,
scattered over with myrtles, cashews, and many other trees and bushes,
and beyond are low hills, some bare, and others covered with thick

The trade here is principally in Brazil-nuts, salsaparilha—which is the
best on the Amazon,—farinha, and salt-fish,—some of which articles are
obtained from the Mundrucús, an industrious tribe of Indians inhabiting
the Tapajoz. There are here, as in Pará, many persons who live an idle
life, entirely supported by the labours of a few slaves which they have
inherited. The local executive government consists of a “Commandante
Militar,” who has charge of the fort and a dozen or two of soldiers;
the “Commandante dos trabalhadores,” who superintends the Indians
engaged in any public service; the “Juiz de direito,” or civil and
criminal judge of the district; the “Delegardo de policia,” who has the
management of the passport office, the police, etc., the “Vicario,” or
priest, and a few subordinate officers. In the evening some of these,
and a few of the principal traders, used generally to meet in front of
Captain Hislop’s house, which was in an airy situation overlooking the
river, where they would sit and smoke, take snuff, and talk politics
and law for an hour or two.

Besides the Captain, there were two Englishmen in Santarem, who had
resided there many years, and were married to Brazilian women. A
day or two after our arrival they invited us to take a trip up to
a pretty stream which forms a small lake a mile or two above the
town. We went in a neat canoe, with several Indians and Negroes, and
plenty of provisions, to make an agreeable picnic. The place was very
picturesque, with dry sands, old trees, and shady thickets, where we
amused ourselves shooting birds, catching insects, and examining the
new forms of vegetation which were everywhere abundant. The clear,
cool water invited us to a refreshing bathe, after which we dined, and
returned home by moonlight in the evening.

I was acquainted with the “Juiz de direito,” having met him in Pará,
and he now very kindly offered to lend me an excellent canoe to go to
Montealegre, and to give me introductions to his friends there; but he
had no men to spare, so these I had to obtain as I could. This was, as
is always the case here, a difficult matter. Captain H. went with me
to the Commandante, who promised to give me three Indians, but after
waiting a whole week we got only two; the Juiz however kindly lent me
one with his canoe, and with these we started. The first night we staid
at a cacao-plantation, where we got some excellent fresh fish. In the
morning we took a walk among the cacao-trees, and caught numbers of a
butterfly (_Didonis biblis_), which, though a common South American
species, we had never found either at Santarem or Pará; nor did I ever
after see it until I reached Javíta, near the sources of the Rio Negro.
As another instance of the peculiar distribution of these insects, I
may mention that during four years’ collecting I saw the beautiful
_Epicalia Numilius_ only twice,—once at Pará, and once at Javíta,
stations two thousand miles apart.

In the afternoon, just as we reached the mouth of the little river that
flows by Montealegre, a violent storm came on suddenly, producing a
heavy sea, and nearly capsizing our boat, which the men did not very
well know how to manage; but, after being some time in considerable
danger, we got safely into smooth water, and, after about two hours’
rowing up a winding stream, reached the village. The banks were mostly
open, grassy, and half-flooded, with clumps of trees at intervals. Near
the village was a range of high rocks, of a fine red and yellow colour,
which we afterwards found to be merely indurated clay, in some places
very hard, in others soft and friable: they were clothed with wood to
their summits, and had a very picturesque appearance.

The village of Montealegre is situated on a hill about a quarter of a
mile from the water’s edge. The ascent to it is up a shallow ravine,
and the path is entirely covered with deep, loose sand, which makes
the walk a very laborious one. On each side are numbers of large
cactus-plants, of the branched candelabrum form, and twenty to thirty
feet high: they grow in immense masses, having great woody stems as
thick as a man’s body, and were quite a novel feature in the landscape.
The village itself forms a spacious square, in which the most
conspicuous object is the skeleton of a large and handsome church of
dark sandstone, which was commenced about twenty years ago, when the
place was more populous and thriving, and before the revolutions which
did so much injury to the province; but there is little prospect of its
ever being finished. The present church is a low, thatched, barn-like
edifice, and most of the houses are equally poor in their appearance.
There are no neat enclosures or gardens,—nothing but weeds and rubbish
on every side, with sometimes a few rotten palings round a corral for

The trade of this place is in cacao, fish, calabashes, and cattle.
The cacao is grown on the low lands along the banks of the rivers. It
is here all planted on cleared ground fully exposed to the sun, and
does not seem to thrive so well as when in the shade of the partially
cleared forest, which is the plan we had seen adopted in the Tocantíns.
When an Indian can get a few thousand cacao-trees planted, he passes
an idle, quiet, contented life: all he has to do is to weed under
the trees two or three times in the year, and to gather and dry the
seeds. The fruit of the cacao-tree is of an oblong shape, about five
inches long, and with faint longitudinal ribs. It is of a green colour,
but turns yellow as it ripens, and it grows on the stem and larger
branches by a short strong stalk, never on the smaller twigs; it grows
so firmly, that it will never fall off, but, if left, will entirely
rot away on the tree. The outer covering is hard and rather woody.
Within is a mass of seeds, which are the cacao-nuts, covered with a
pure white pulp, which has a pleasant sub-acid taste, and when rubbed
off in water and sweetened, forms an agreeable and favourite drink.
In preparing the cacao, this pulp is not washed off, but the whole is
laid in the sun to dry. This requires some care, as if wetted by rain
or dew it moulds and is spoilt: on large cacao plantations they have
a drying-frame running on rollers, so that it can be pushed under a
shed every night or on the approach of rain. The price of good cacao is
about 3_s._ for an arroba (thirty-two pounds).

The fish are the pirarucú, which abound in all the lakes here, and
give plenty of employment to the Indians in the dry season. The cattle
estates are situated at the base of the adjacent serras, where there
is a scanty pasture, but in the dry season the marshes which extend to
the Amazon afford abundance of herbage. The calabashes, or “cuyas,”
are made in great quantities, and exported to Pará and all parts of
the Amazon. They are very neatly finished, scraped thin, and either
stained of a shining black or painted in brilliant colours and gilt.
The designs are fanciful, with sometimes figures of birds and animals,
and are filled up with much taste and regularity. The Indian women make
the colours themselves from various vegetable juices or from the yellow
earth, and they are so permanent that the vessels may be constantly
wetted for a long time without injury. There is no other place on the
whole Amazon where painted calabashes are made with such taste and
brilliancy of colour.

We brought a letter of introduction to Senhor Nunez, a Frenchman from
Cayenne, who has a small shop in the village; and he soon procured us
an empty house, to which we had our things carried. It consisted of
two good parlours, several small sleeping-rooms, a large verandah, and
a closed yard behind. We were warned that the mosquitoes were here very
annoying, and we soon found them so, for immediately after sunset they
poured in upon us in swarms, so that we found them unbearable, and were
obliged to rush into our sleeping-rooms, which we had kept carefully
closed. Here we had some respite for a time, but they soon found their
way in at the cracks and keyholes, and made us very restless and
uncomfortable all the rest of the night.

After a few days’ residence we found them more tormenting than ever,
rendering it quite impossible for us to sit down to read or write after
sunset. The people here all use cow-dung burnt at their doors to keep
away the “praga,” or plague, as they very truly call them, it being the
only thing that has any effect. Having now got an Indian to cook for
us, we every afternoon sent him to gather a basket of this necessary
article, and just before sunset we lighted an old earthen pan full of
it at our bedroom door, in the verandah, so as to get as much smoke as
possible, by means of which we could, by walking about, pass an hour
pretty comfortably. In the evening every house and cottage has its pan
of burning dung, which gives rather an agreeable odour; and as there
are plenty of cows and cattle about, this necessary of life is always
to be procured.

We found the country here an undulating, sandy plain, in some places
thickly covered with bushes, in others with larger scattered trees.
Along the banks of the streams were some flat places and steep banks,
all thickly clothed with wood, while at a distance of ten or twelve
miles were several fine rocky mountains, on one of which was a curious
and conspicuous pillar of rock, with a flat overhanging cap, something
like a tall mushroom. The cactus before mentioned was everywhere
abundant, and often in the most magnificent and lofty masses.
Pine-apples were found growing wild in large beds in the thickets, and
the cashew was also general. On the rocky slopes above the river were
numerous springs gushing out, where on the moistened rock grew curious
ferns and mosses and pretty creeping plants. In these shady groves
was our best collecting-ground for insects. Here we first found the
beautiful indigo-blue butterfly, the _Callithea Leprieurii_, sitting
on leaves in the shade, and afterwards more abundantly on stems from
which a black gummy sap was exuding. Here were also many trogons
and jacamars, and a curious creeper, with a long sickle-shaped bill
(_Dendrocolaptes_ sp.).

We much wished to visit the serras, which daily seemed more inviting;
and the account we had heard of the Indian picture-writings which exist
there increased our curiosity. We accordingly borrowed a small montaria
of Senhor Nunez, as we had to go five or six miles by water to a cattle
estate situated at the foot of the mountain. Our canoe was furnished
with a mat sail, made of strips of the bark of a large water-plant, and
as soon as we got away from the village we hoisted it and were carried
briskly along: it was rather nervous work at times, as the sail was far
too heavy for the canoe, and rendered it very unsteady whenever there
came a little extra puff of wind. Numerous divers and darters were
swimming in the river or seated upon trees on its banks. We tried to
shoot some, but without effect, as these birds are so active in the
water that even when wounded they dive and swim beneath it so rapidly
as to render all attempt to capture them fruitless. We then entered a
narrower branch of the stream, which we soon found to be much impeded
by water-plants growing in large floating masses. We had now no wind,
and had to paddle, till the weeds blocked up the channel so completely
that we could get on no further. Our Indian then went ashore, and cut
two long poles with a forked end, and with these we commenced pushing
on the canoe by means of the great masses of weeds, which were so
thick and solid as to afford a tolerable hold to the fork. Now and
then we would emerge into clear water, and could row a little among
pretty _Utricularias_ and _Pontederias_. Then, again, we would enter
into a mass of weeds and tall grass, completely filling up the channel
and rising above our heads, through which we almost despaired to make
our way; the grass, too, cut the hands severely if it merely brushed
against them. On the banks was now to be seen a vast extent of flat,
grassy campo, half water and half land, and which in the rainy season
is a complete lake. After forcing our way with great labour for several
miles, we at length reached the cattle estate, where we were kindly
received by the owner, to whom we had a note of introduction.

The house was situated close to the great marsh which extends from the
Amazon to the serras. It was built of mud, with two or three rooms,
and an open shed adjoining, used as kitchen and sleeping-place for the
Indians. A corral—a square enclosed yard for the cattle—was near, and
at the back rose the sloping ground towards the mountain. All around
were interspersed thickets and open ground, and the picturesque masses
of cactus rose in every direction. We strolled about a little before
dark, and shot a couple of pretty green purple-shouldered paroquets,
one of the smallest species that inhabits the country. When we returned
to the house we were offered some new milk, and then sat outside the
door looking at the strange accoutrements of some of the herdsmen,
who were going on horseback to some distant part of the estate.
Their curious and clumsy-looking wooden saddles, huge stirrups, long
lassos, and leather ammunition-bags, with long guns and powder-horns
of formidable dimensions, made them striking figures, and the more
picturesque from their being dusky mulattoes. As soon as the sun set
the mosquitoes made their appearance, and the doors of the house were
shut, a pan of cow-dung lighted outside, and a lamp within. After a
short time supper was announced, and we sat down on a mat on the floor
to an excellent repast of turtle, which had been recently brought
from the Amazon. We then turned into our hammocks, which were hung
across the room in every direction. In fact, the house was pretty
well occupied before we came, so that we were now rather crowded; but
a Brazilian thinks nothing of that, and is used to sleep in company.
The doors and windows were well closed, and though rather warm we did
not suffer from the mosquitoes, an annoyance to which any other is

The next morning we prepared for our expedition to the mountain, and
as we did not know whether we should have to stay the night, we
provided ourselves with sufficient provisions, and a large gourd to
carry water. We walked some miles along the side of the marsh, on which
were many curious aquatic birds, till we arrived at a deserted cottage,
where we made our breakfast, and then turned off by a path through
a wood. On passing this we found ourselves at the foot of a steep
slope, covered with huge blocks of stone, in the greatest confusion,
overgrown with coarse sedges and shrubs, rendering any ascent among
them extremely difficult. Just above was the curious pillar we had
seen from the village, and which we determined to reach. After a most
fatiguing scramble over the rocks and among innumerable chasms, we
found ourselves on the platform below the columnar mass, which rises
perpendicularly thirty or forty feet, and then hangs over at the top
all round in a most curious and fearful manner. Its origin is very
plainly to be seen. The pillar is of friable stone, in horizontal
layers, and is constantly decaying away by the action of the weather.
The top is formed by a stratum of hard crystalline rock, which resists
the rain and sun, and is apparently now of the same diameter that the
pillar which supports it originally was.

We had thought, looking from below, that we could have proceeded along
the ridge of the mountain to the further end, where the cave and
picture-writings were to be found. Now however we saw the whole summit
completely covered with the same gigantic masses of rock and the same
coarse rigid vegetation which had rendered our ascent so difficult, and
made our proceeding for miles along similar ground quite out of the
question. Our only remedy was to descend on the other side into the
sandy plain which extended along its base. We first took a good view
of the prospect which spread out before us,—a wide undulating plain
covered with scattered trees and shrubs, with a yellow sandy soil and
a brownish vegetation. Beyond this were seen, stretching out to the
horizon, a succession of low conical and oblong hills, studding the
distant plain in every direction. Not a house was to be seen, and the
picture was one little calculated to impress the mind with a favourable
idea of the fertility of the country or the beauty of tropical scenery.
Our descent was very precipitous. Winding round chasms, creeping under
overhanging rocks, clinging by roots and branches, we at length reached
the bottom, and had level ground to walk on.

We now saw the whole side of the mountain, along its summit, split
vertically into numerous rude columns, in all of which the action of
the atmosphere on the different strata of which they were composed was
more or less discernible. They diminished and increased in thickness
as the soft and hard beds alternated, and in some places appeared like
globes standing on pedestals, or the heads and bodies of huge giants.
They did not seem to be prismatic, but to be the result of successive
earthquake shocks, producing vertical cracks in cross directions, the
action of the sun and rains then widening the fissures and forming
completely detached columns.

As we proceeded along the sands we found the heat very oppressive. We
had finished the water in our gourd, and knew not where to get more.
Our Indian told us there was a spring half-way up the mountain, a
little further on, but it might now have failed, as it was the height
of the dry season.

We soon came in sight of the spot, and a group of Mauritia palms,
which always grow in damp places, as well as some patches of brilliant
green herbage, gave us hope. On reaching the palms we found a moist,
boggy soil, but such a slow filtering of water among the weeds that it
took nearly half an hour to fill our gourd. Seeing a mass of green at
the very base of the perpendicular rocks higher up, where the spring
appeared to issue, we proceeded there, and found, to our great joy, a
little trickle of pure and delightfully cool water, and a shady place
where we could rest and eat our lunch in comfort.

We then went on till we arrived where our guide said the cave was
situated; but having been there only once he could not find it again,
among the confused mass of rocks which in several places appeared to
present openings, but which on reaching the spot deceived us. After
various clamberings we gave up the search, and determined to return
home and get a better guide another day.

On our way back we passed by a high cliff, on which were some of the
picture-writings I had so much wished to see. They were executed in a
red tint, produced apparently by rubbing them in with pieces of the
rock, which in places is of that colour. They looked quite fresh, and
were not at all obliterated by the weather, though no one knows their
antiquity. They consisted of various figures, rudely executed, some
representing animals, as the alligator, and birds, others like some
household utensils, and others again circles and mathematical figures,
while there were some very complicated and fantastic forms: all were
scattered irregularly over the rock to the height of eight or ten feet.
The size of most of the figures was from one to two feet.

I took a general sketch of the whole, and some accurate tracings of the
more curious single figures, which have unfortunately been since lost.
The night felt chilly and damp, and we had nothing to cover ourselves
with, or should have slept on the mountain. As it was, we arrived home
very tired about eight o’clock, and were glad soon to turn into our

The next day Senhor Nunez determined to go with us himself, to show
us the cave and some more picture-writings, situated in another part
of the mountain. We now went on horseback, but could no more find the
cave than before, and were forced to send our Indian for an old man who
lived a couple of miles off, and who knew the place well. While he was
gone, Senhor Nunez went with me to find the picture-writings, which we
did after a fatiguing walk. They were situated on a perpendicular rock,
rising from the top of a steep, stony slope, which almost deterred me
from getting up to them, as I was very tired and thirsty, and there
was no water. However, having come on purpose to see them, I was
determined to persevere, and soon reached the place. They were much
larger than the others, and extended higher up the rock; the figures,
too, were all different, consisting principally of large concentric
circles, called by the natives the sun and moon, and several others
more complicated and three or four feet high. Among them were two dates
of years about 1770, in very neat well-formed figures, which I have
no doubt were the work of some travellers who wished to show that they
knew how the others were executed, and to record the date of their
visit. Near some of the higher figures were two or three impressions
of hands in the same colour, showing the palm and all the fingers very
distinctly, as if the person executing the upper figures had stood on
another’s shoulders and supported himself with one hand (smeared with
the red colour) while he drew with the other. I also took copies of the
figures at this place, which, being large and exposed, are visible from
a considerable distance round, and are more generally known than the
others, which are in a secluded and out-of-the-way situation, and were
probably not visited by any European traveller before myself.

We walked some distance further, to get some water, before returning
towards the cave. There we found that our guides had arrived, and they
soon led us up a steep path to its mouth, which is so well concealed by
trees and bushes that our failing to discover it was not to be wondered
at. The entrance is a rude archway, fifteen or twenty feet high; but
what is most curious is a thin piece of rock which runs completely
across the opening, about five feet from the ground, like an irregular
flat board. This stone has not fallen into its present position, but
is a portion of the solid rock harder than the rest, so that it has
resisted the force which cleared away the material above and below it.
Inside there is a large irregularly arched chamber, with a smooth sandy
floor, and at the end there are openings into other chambers; but as we
had not brought candles we could not explore them. There was nothing
about the cave at all remarkable, except the flat transverse rock
at its mouth. The vegetation around it was by no means luxuriant or
beautiful, nor were there any flowers worth noticing. In fact, many of
our caves in the limestone districts of England are in every way more
picturesque and interesting.

I had heard of a plant growing in the pools in the marsh, which I was
convinced must be the _Victoria regia_. Senhor Nunez told me there were
plenty near his house, and early the next morning he sent an Indian
to try and get me one. After some search the man found one, with a
half-opened flower, and brought it to me. The leaf was about four feet
in diameter, and I was much pleased at length to see this celebrated
plant; but as it has now become comparatively common in England, it is
not necessary for me to describe it. It is found all over the Amazon
district, but rarely or never in the river itself. It seems to delight
in still waters, growing in inlets, lakes, or very quiet branches of
the river, fully exposed to the sun. Here it grew in the pools left in
the bog; but in June the water would be twenty or thirty feet deeper,
so its leaf and flower-stalks must increase in length rapidly while the
water rises, as they did not seem to be very long now. I took the leaf
home, in order to dry some portions of it. It is called by the Indians
“Uaupé Japóna” (the Jacana’s oven), from the resemblance of the leaf,
with its deep rim, to the clay ovens used for making farinha.

As we wished to get home that day, we took leave of our kind host,
and again had to pole our way over the grass and weeds in the small
stream. It did not however now seem so tedious as on our ascent, and we
soon got into the open river.

Passing along a sandy shore, our Indian saw signs of turtles’ eggs,
and immediately jumped out and commenced scraping away the sand, in
a very short time turning up a hatful of eggs of the small turtle
called “Tracaxá.” A little lower down there was an old tree giving a
tempting shade, so we made a fire under it, boiled our eggs, made some
coffee, and with some farinha and beef we had brought with us made an
excellent breakfast. Proceeding on, we fell in with a great number of
alligators, of a large size, swimming about in all directions. We fired
at some of them, but only succeeded in making them dive rapidly to the
bottom. They are much feared by the natives, who never venture far
into the water when bathing. In a place where we had bathed a few days
previously, we saw one close in shore, and resolved to be more careful
for the future, as every year some lives are lost by incautiousness.

After a few days more at the village, we paid a visit to a mandiocca
plantation some miles in the interior, where there is a considerable
extent of forest-land, and where we therefore expected to find more
insects. We went on foot, carrying our redes, guns, boxes, nets, and
other necessaries for a week’s stay. On arriving, we found the only
accommodation to consist of a little low thatched hut, just large
enough to hang our hammocks in, and the only inhabitants four or five
Negroes belonging to the place.

However we soon made ourselves at home, and our little coffee-pot
supplied us with an unfailing and refreshing luxury. We found in the
forest several scarce butterflies pretty abundant, and among them a
new species of _Catagramma_, which we had only met with very rarely
at Pará; trogons and jacamars were also plentiful, but there was not
any great variety either of birds or insects. There was no running
stream here, but a kind of moist, marshy flat, in which shallow holes
were dug, and soon filled with water, whence the only supply of this
necessary was obtained.

On returning to the village my brother sprained his leg, which swelled
and formed an abscess above the knee, quite preventing him from going
out for a fortnight. After some trouble I purchased a small canoe here,
in which I intended to return to Santarem, and afterwards proceed up
the Amazon to Barra, on the Rio Negro.

A festa took place before we left. The church was decorated with leaves
and flowers, and sweetmeats were provided for all visitors. Dancing and
drinking then went on all night and during the following day, and we
were left to cook our own meals, as our Indian was a performer on the
violin, and did not think it at all necessary to ask us in order to
absent himself two days. The Indians now came in from all the country
round, and I bought a number of the pretty painted calabashes for which
this place is celebrated.

Soon after we returned to Santarem, where we found our house occupied,
but got another, consisting of two small mud-floored rooms and a yard
at the back, situated at the further end of the town. We here engaged
an old Negro woman to cook for us, and soon got into a regular routine
of living. We rose at six, got ready our collecting-boxes, nets, etc.,
while our old cook was preparing breakfast, which we took at seven; and
having given her money to buy meat and vegetables for dinner, started
at eight for a walk of about three miles, to a good collecting-ground
we had found below the town.

We staid hard at work till about two or three in the afternoon,
generally procuring some new and interesting insects. Here was the
haunt of the beautiful _Callithea sapphira_, one of the most lovely of
butterflies, and of numerous curious and brilliant little _Erycinidæ_.
As we returned we staid to bathe in the Tapajoz, and on arriving at
home immediately ate a water-melon, which was always ready for us,
and which at that time we found most grateful and refreshing. We then
changed our clothes, dined, set out our insects, and in the cool of the
evening took tea, and called on, or received visits from, our Brazilian
or English friends—among whom was now Mr. Spruce, the botanist, who
arrived here from Pará shortly after we had returned from Montealegre.

The constant hard exercise, pure air, and good living, notwithstanding
the intense heat, kept us in the most perfect health, and I have never
altogether enjoyed myself so much. In Santarem there is an abundance
of beef, fish, milk, and fruits, a dry soil, and clear water,—a
conjunction of advantages seldom to be met with in this country. There
were some boggy meadows here, more like those of Europe than one
often sees so near the equator, on which were growing pretty small
_Melastomas_ and other flowers. The paths and campos were covered with
flowering myrtles, tall _Melastomas_, and numbers of passion-flowers,
convolvuluses, and bignonias. At the back of the town, a mile or two
off, were some bare conical hills, to which I paid some visits. They
were entirely formed of scoriæ, and were as barren and uninviting as
can possibly be imagined. A curious tidal phenomenon was to be seen
here:—the tide _rises_ in the Amazon to considerably above Santarem,
but it never _flows up_, the water merely rising and falling. The river
Tapajoz had now very little water, and its surface was below the level
of the Amazon at high water, so that the tide was every day seen to
flow up the Tapajoz, while a hundred yards out in the stream of the
Amazon it was still flowing rapidly down.

It was now November, and as some rain had fallen, and gloomy weather
had set in, we determined to start for the Rio Negro as soon as we
could. Our canoe was at length ready, having taken us a long time
to repair the bottom, which was quite rotten. After much delay the
Commandante had procured us three Indians, who were to go with us only
to Obydos, about three days up the Amazon, and had given us a letter to
the authorities there, to furnish us with more. Mr. Spruce had set out
for Obydos just a week before us, in a large canoe, the owner of which
had offered him a passage. On our arrival we found him unpacking his
things, and he told us he had only got there the night previous, having
been ten days on a journey which is frequently performed in a day and a
night: want of wind was the cause, and the owner of the canoe, who was
with them, would not move at night. But to such delays the unfortunate
traveller who ventures on the Amazon must make up his mind patiently
to submit. Captain Hislop had written to a friend of his to lend us an
unoccupied house, where we had to remain several days quite alone, for
our Indians, after unloading the canoe, went off immediately, and we
could not get others till the Commandante had sent to fetch them from a
considerable distance.

We amused ourselves in the forest, where we found insects very
abundant, but mostly of species we had before obtained. As our canoe
had leaked so much in coming here that we were almost afraid to venture
in it, we had it pulled up on the beach, and discovered some of the
cracks, which we stopped as well as we could by plugging in cotton
dipped in hot pitch. At length we set off again with two Indians, who
were to go with us only to Villa Nova, the next town, about four days’
voyage from Obydos. As we had only two, we could not do much with the
paddles, one being required at the helm; but luckily the wind was
strong and steady, and we went on day and night very briskly. We had
to cross the river several times, and generally at night. The wind
created a great swell, and as we dashed along furiously through it,
I was rather doubtful of our rotten boat holding together. In four
days however we reached Villa Nova in safety, and I was very glad to
have got so far on our way. We were kindly received on the beach by
the priest of the village, Padre Torquato, who invited us in such a
pressing manner to stay in his house till we should get men to go on,
that we could not refuse. The Commandante, to whom we brought letters,
to give us more men, was out at his sitio; they therefore had to be
sent after him, and it would probably be several days before we had an
answer, and perhaps much longer before the men were procured.

The Padre was a very well-educated and gentlemanly man, and made us
as comfortable as he could, though, as he had only two small rooms
to share with us, he was putting himself to much inconvenience on
our account. He is already known to the English reader from having
accompanied Prince Adalbert of Prussia up the Xingu, and he well
deserves all the encomiums the Prince has bestowed upon him. He was
very fond of enigmas, which he amused himself and his friends by
inventing and solving. I much delighted him by turning such of our best
as would bear the process into Portuguese; and I also translated for
him the old puzzle on the word “tobacco”—in Portuguese, “tabaco,” which
did just as well—and much pleased him. I took here some fine insects,
but it was too late in the season: from July to October it would be, I
have no doubt, a fine locality.

A week passed away, and the men came not, and as I was very anxious
to be off, the Padre agreed with a trader to let me have three of his
Indians, he taking instead those that the Commandante would probably
soon send for me. One of the Indians however did not choose to come,
and was driven to the canoe by severe lashes, and at the point of the
bayonet. He was very furious and sullen when he came on board, vowing
that he would not go with me, and would take vengeance on those who had
forced him on board. He complained bitterly of being treated like a
slave, and I could not much blame him. I tried what I could to pacify
him, offering him good pay and plenty to eat and drink, but to no
purpose; he declared he would go back from the first place we stopped
at, and kill the man who had struck him. At the same time he was very
civil, assuring me that he felt no ill-will against me, as I had had
nothing to do with it. It was afternoon when we started, and about
sunset we staid to make supper; and then the ill-used Indian politely
wished me good-bye, and taking his bundle of clothes returned through
the forest to the village. As I could not go on with two only, I sent
one of them back early in the morning to get another in the place
of the one who had run away, which he did, and returning about ten
o’clock, we pursued our journey.

We went along slowly, now and then sailing, but generally rowing, and
suffering much annoyance from the rain, which was almost incessant.
The mosquitoes, too, were a great torture: night after night we were
kept in a state of feverish irritation, unable to close our eyes for a
moment. Our Indians suffered quite as much as ourselves: it is a great
mistake to suppose that the mosquitoes do not bite them. You hear them,
all night long, slapping on their bare bodies to drive their tormentors
off; or they will completely roll themselves up in the sail, suffering
the pangs of semi-suffocation to escape from their irritating bites.
There are particular spots along the banks of the river where there are
no mosquitoes; and no inducement would make our men paddle so hard as
the probability of reaching one of these places before midnight, and
being enabled to enjoy the comforts of sleep till morning.

Towards the end of December, we reached the little village of Serpa,
where we found a festa or procession going on,—a number of women and
girls, with ribands and flowers, dancing along to the church with the
priest at their head, in a most ludicrous manner. In the evening we
went to the house where the dancing took place, and had some wine and
sweetmeats. We bought here some coffee and a large basket of plantains.
On Christmas day we reached a house where they had just caught a
quantity of fish, and we wanted to buy some, which was refused, but
they gave us a fine fat piece for our dinner. We bought some eggs, and
when we stopped for the day concocted a farinha pudding, and so, with
our fish and coffee, made a very tolerable Christmas dinner, while
eating which our thoughts turned to our distant home, and to dear
friends who at their more luxurious tables would think of us far away
upon the Amazon.

                             CHAPTER VII.


  Appearance of the Rio Negro—The city of Barra, its trade
    and its inhabitants—Journey up the Rio Negro—The Lingoa
    Geral—The umbrella bird—Mode of life of the Indians—Return
    to Barra—Strangers in the city—Visit to the Solimões—The
    Gapó—Manaquerey—Country life—Curl-crested Araçaris—Vultures
    and Onças—Tobacco growing and manufacture—The Cow-fish—Senhor
    Brandão—A fishing party with Senhor Henrique—Letters from England.

On the 31st of December, 1849, we arrived at the city of Barra on the
Rio Negro. On the evening of the 30th the sun had set on the yellow
Amazon, but we continued rowing till late at night, when we reached
some rocks at the mouth of the Rio Negro, and caught some fine fish in
the shallows. In the morning we looked with surprise at the wonderful
change in the water around us. We might have fancied ourselves on the
river Styx, for it was black as ink in every direction, except where
the white sand, seen at the depth of a few feet through its dusky wave,
appeared of a golden hue. The water itself is of a pale brown colour,
the tinge being just perceptible in a glass, while in deep water it
appears jet black, and well deserves its name of Rio Negro—“black

We brought letters to Senhor Henrique Antony, an Italian gentleman
settled here many years, and the principal merchant in the city; who
received us with such hearty hospitality as at once to make us feel at
home. He gave us the use of two large rooms in a new house of his own
not quite finished, and invited us to take our meals at his table.

The city of Barra do Rio Negro is situated on the east bank of that
river, about twelve miles above its junction with the Amazon. It is on
uneven ground, about thirty feet above the high-water level, and there
are two small streams or gullies running through it, where during the
wet season the water rises to a considerable height, and across which
are two wooden bridges. The streets are regularly laid out, but quite
unpaved, much undulating, and full of holes, so that walking about at
night is very unpleasant. The houses are generally of one story, with
red-tiled roofs, brick floors, white- and yellow-washed walls, and
green doors and shutters; and, when the sun shines, are pretty enough.
The “Barra,” or fort, is now represented by a fragment of wall and a
mound of earth, and there are two churches, but both very poor and far
inferior to that of Santarem. The population is five or six thousand,
of which the greater part are Indians and half-breeds; in fact there
is probably not a single person born in the place of pure European
blood, so completely have the Portuguese amalgamated with the Indians.
The trade is chiefly in Brazil-nuts, salsaparilha, and fish; and the
imports are European cotton-goods of inferior quality, and quantities
of coarse cutlery, beads, mirrors, and other trinkets for the trade
with the Indian tribes, of which this is the head-quarters. The
distance from Pará is about a thousand miles, and the voyage up in the
wet season often takes from two to three months, so that flour, cheese,
wine, and other necessaries, are always very dear, and often not to be
obtained. The more civilized inhabitants of Barra are all engaged in
trade, and have literally no amusements whatever, unless drinking and
gambling on a small scale can be so considered: most of them never open
a book, or have any mental occupation.

As might be expected therefore, etiquette in dress is much attended
to, and on Sunday at mass all are in full costume. The ladies dress
very elegantly in a variety of French muslins and gauzes; they all have
fine hair, which they arrange carefully, and ornament with flowers,
and never hide it or their faces under caps or bonnets. The gentlemen,
who pass all the week in dirty warehouses, in their shirt-sleeves and
slippers, are then seen in suits of the finest black, with beaver hats,
satin cravats, and patent-leather boots of the smallest dimensions;
and then is the fashionable visiting time, when every one goes to see
everybody, to talk over the accumulated scandal of the week. Morals
in Barra are perhaps at the lowest ebb possible in any civilized
community: you will every day hear things commonly talked of, about the
most respectable families in the place, which would hardly be credited
of the inhabitants of the worst parts of St. Giles’s.

The wet season had now set in, and we soon found there was little to
be done in collecting birds or insects at Barra. I had been informed
that this was the time to find the celebrated umbrella chatterers in
plumage, and that they were plentiful in the islands about three days’
voyage up the Rio Negro. On communicating to Senhor Henrique my wish
to go there, he applied to some of the authorities to furnish me with
Indians to make the voyage. When they came, which was after three or
four days, I started in my own canoe, leaving my brother H. to pay
a visit to an estate in another direction. My voyage occupied three
days, and I had a good opportunity of observing the striking difference
between this river and the Amazon. Here were no islands of floating
grass, no logs and uprooted trees, with their cargoes of gulls,
scarcely any stream, and few signs of life in the black and sluggish
waters. Yet when there is a storm, there are greater and more dangerous
waves than on the Amazon. When the dark clouds above cause the water
to appear of a yet more inky blackness, and the rising waves break in
white foam over the vast expanse, the scene is gloomy in the extreme.

At Barra the river is about a mile and a half wide. A few miles up it
widens considerably, in many places forming deep bays eight or ten
miles across. Further on, again, it separates into several channels,
divided by innumerable islands, and the total width is probably not
less than twenty miles. We crossed where it is four or five miles wide,
and then keeping up the left bank we entered among the islands, when
the opposite shore was no more seen. We passed many sandy and pebbly
beaches, with occasional masses of sandstone and volcanic rock, and a
long extent of high and steep gravelly banks, everywhere, except in the
most precipitous places, covered with a luxuriant vegetation of shrubs
and forest-trees. We saw several cottages, and a village prettily
situated on a high, grassy slope, and at length reached Castanheiro,
the residence of Senhor Balbino, to whom I brought a letter. After
reading it he asked me my intentions, and then promised to get me a
good hunter, to kill birds and any other animals I wanted.

The house of Senhor Balbino is generally known as the “Sobrado,” or
upper-storied house, being the only one of the kind out of Barra. It
was however in rather a dilapidated condition, the ladder which served
for stairs wanting two steps, and requiring a great exertion of the
muscles of the leg to ascend it. This, Senhor Henrique afterwards
informed me, had been in the same state for several years, though
Balbino has always a carpenter at work making canoes, who might put in
a couple of boards in an hour.

An Indian living near now arrived, and we accompanied him to his house,
where I was to find a lodging. It was about half a mile further up
the river, at the mouth of a small stream, where there was a little
settlement of two or three families. The part which it was proposed I
should occupy was a small room with a very steep hill for a floor, and
three doorways, two with palm-leaf mats and the other doing duty as a
window. No choice being offered me, I at once accepted the use of this
apartment, and, my men having now brought on my canoe, I ordered my
boxes on shore, hung up my hammock, and at once took possession. The
Indians then left me; but a boy lent me by Senhor Henrique remained
with me to light a fire and boil my coffee, and prepare dinner when we
were so fortunate as to get any. I borrowed a table to work at, but,
owing to the great inclination of the ground, nothing that had not a
very broad base would stay upon it. The houses here were imbedded in
the forest, so that although there were four not twenty yards apart,
they were not visible from each other, the space where the forest had
been cut down being planted with fruit-trees.

Only one of the men here could speak Portuguese, all the rest using
the Indian language, called Lingoa Geral, which I found very difficult
to get hold of without any books, though it is an easy and simple
language. The word _igaripé_, applied to all small streams, means “path
of the canoe”; _tatatinga_, smoke, is literally “white fire.” Many of
the words sound like Greek, as _sapucaía_, a fowl; _apegáua_, a man.
In the names of animals the same vowel is often repeated, producing a
very euphonious effect; as _parawá_, a parrot; _maracajá_, a tiger-cat;
_sucurujú_, a poisonous snake. My Indian boy spoke Lingoa Geral and
Portuguese, and so with his assistance I got on very well.

The next morning my hunter arrived, and immediately went out in his
canoe among the islands, where the umbrella-birds are found. In the
evening after dark he returned, bringing one fine specimen. This
singular bird is about the size of a raven, and is of a similar colour,
but its feathers have a more scaly appearance, from being margined
with a different shade of glossy blue. It is also allied to the crows
in its structure, being very similar to them in its feet and bill. On
its head it bears a crest, different from that of any other bird. It
is formed of feathers more than two inches long, very thickly set,
and with hairy plumes curving over at the end. These can be laid back
so as to be hardly visible, or can be erected and spread out on every
side, forming a hemispherical, or rather a hemi-ellipsoidal dome,
completely covering the head, and even reaching beyond the point of
the beak: the individual feathers then stand out something like the
down-bearing seeds of the dandelion. Besides this, there is another
ornamental appendage on the breast, formed by a fleshy tubercle, as
thick as a quill and an inch and a half long, which hangs down from
the neck, and is thickly covered with glossy feathers, forming a large
pendent plume or tassel. This also the bird can either press to its
breast, so as to be scarcely visible, or can swell out, so as almost
to conceal the forepart of its body. In the female the crest and the
neck-plume are less developed, and she is altogether a smaller and much
less handsome bird. It inhabits the flooded islands of the Rio Negro
and the Solimões, never appearing on the mainland. It feeds on fruits,
and utters a loud, hoarse cry, like some deep musical instrument;
whence its Indian name, _Ueramimbé_, “trumpet-bird.” The whole of the
neck, where the plume of feathers springs from, is covered internally
with a thick coat of hard, muscular fat, very difficult to be cleaned
away,—which, in preparing the skins, must be done, as it would
putrefy, and cause the feathers to drop off. The birds are tolerably
abundant, but are shy, and perch on the highest trees, and, being very
muscular, will not fall unless severely wounded. My hunter worked very
perseveringly to get them, going out before daylight and often not
returning till nine or ten at night, yet he never brought me more than
two at a time, generally only one, and sometimes none.

The only other birds found in the islands were the beautiful and rare
little bristle-tailed manakin, and two species of curassow-bird. On the
mainland, the white bell-bird was found on the loftiest trees of the
forest, almost out of gunshot. Three were brought me, much disfigured
with blood, having been shot at four or five times each before they
fell. The beautiful trumpeter (_Psophia crepitans_), a different
species from that found at Pará, was plentiful here. A rare little
toucan (_Pteroglossus Azaræ_), and a few parrots, hawks, and Brazilian
partridges, were the only other birds we met with.

Insects were by no means abundant, there being few paths in the woods
in which to hunt for them or to cause them to accumulate together;
for I have invariably found that in an open path through the forest
the chequered light and shade causes a variety of plants to spring
up and flowers to blow, which in their turn attract a great variety
of insects. An open pathway seems to have similar attractions for
many kinds of insects to what it has for ourselves. The great blue
butterflies, and many smaller ones, will course along it for miles, and
if driven into the forest, will generally soon return to it again. The
gleams of sunshine and the free current of air attract some; others
seek the blossoms which there abound; while every particle of animal
matter in the pathway is sure to be visited by a number of different
species: so that upon the number and extent of the paths and roads
which traverse the forest will depend in a great measure the success
of the entomologist in these parts of South America.

There were two other rooms in the house where I lived, inhabited by
three families. The men generally wore nothing but a pair of trowsers,
the women only a petticoat, and the children nothing at all. They
all lived in the poorest manner, and at first I was quite puzzled to
find out when they had their meals. In the morning early they would
each have a cuya of mingau; then about midday they would eat some dry
farinha cake or a roasted yam; and in the evening some more mingau of
farinha or pacovas. I could not imagine that they really had nothing
else to eat, but at last was obliged to come to the conclusion that
various preparations of mandiocca and water formed their only food.
About once a week they would get a few small fish or a bird, but then
it would be divided among so many as only to serve as a relish to the
cassava bread. My hunter never took anything out with him but a bag of
dry farinha, and after being away fourteen hours in his canoe would
come home and sit down in his hammock, and converse as if his thoughts
were far from eating, and then, when a cuya of mingau was offered him,
would quite contentedly drink it, and be ready to start off before
daybreak the next morning. Yet he was as stout and jolly-looking as
John Bull himself, fed daily on fat beef and mutton.

Most of the wild fruits—which are great favourites with these people,
especially the women and children—are of an acrid or bitter taste,
to which long practice only can reconcile a foreigner. Often, when
seeing a little child gnawing away at some strange fruit, I have
asked to taste it, thinking that it must be sweet to please at that
lollipop-loving age, and have found a flavour like aloes or quassia,
that I could not get out of my mouth for an hour; others equally
relished are like yellow soap, and some as sour as verjuice.

These people almost always seem at work, but have very little to show
for it. The women go to dig up mandiocca or yams, or they have weeding
or planting to do, and at other times have earthen pots to make, and
their scanty clothing to mend and wash. The men are always busy,
either clearing the forest or cutting down timber for a canoe or for
paddles, or to make a board for some purpose or other; and their houses
always want mending, and then there is thatch to be brought from a
long distance; or they want baskets, or bows and arrows, or some other
thing, which occupies nearly their whole time, and yet does not produce
them the bare necessaries of life, or allow them leisure to hunt the
game that abounds in the forest around them. This is principally the
result of everybody doing everything for himself, slowly and with
much unnecessary labour, instead of occupying himself with one kind
of industry, and exchanging its produce for the articles he requires.
An Indian spends a week in cutting down a tree in the forest, and
fashioning an article which, by the division of labour, can be made
for sixpence: the consequence is, that his work produces but sixpence
a week, and he is therefore all his life earning a scanty supply of
clothing, in a country where food may be had almost for nothing.

Having remained here a month, and obtained twenty-five specimens of
the umbrella-bird, I prepared to return to Barra. On the last day my
hunter went out, he brought me a fine male bird alive. It had been
wounded slightly on the head, just behind the eye, and had fallen to
the ground stunned, for in a short time it became very active, and when
he brought it me was as strong and fierce as if it was quite uninjured.
I put it in a large wicker basket, but as it would take no food during
two days, I fed it by thrusting pieces of banana down its throat; this
I continued for several days, with much difficulty, as its claws were
very sharp and powerful. On our way to Barra I found by the river-side
a small fruit which it ate readily: this fruit was about the size of
a cherry, of an acid taste, and was swallowed whole. The bird arrived
safely in the city, and lived a fortnight; when one day it suddenly
fell off its perch and died. On skinning it, I found the shot had
broken the skull and entered to the brain, though it seems surprising
that it should have remained so long apparently in perfect health. I
had had however an excellent opportunity of observing its habits, and
its method of expanding and closing its beautiful crest and neck-plume.

I had now a dull time of it in Barra. The wet season had regularly set
in: a day hardly ever passed without rain, and on many days it was
incessant. We seized every opportunity for a walk in the forest, but
scarcely anything was to be found when we got there, and what we did
get was with the greatest difficulty preserved; for the atmosphere was
so saturated with moisture, that insects moulded, and the feathers
and hair dropped from the skins of birds and animals, so as to render
them quite unserviceable. Luckily however there were a good number
of foreigners in Barra, so we had a little company. Two traders on
the Amazon, an American and an Irishman, had arrived. Mr. Bates had
reached Barra a few weeks after me, and was now here, unwilling, like
myself, to go further up the country in such uninviting weather. There
were also three Germans, one of whom spoke English well and was a bit
of a naturalist, and all were good singers, and contributed a little

There was also a deaf and dumb American, named Baker, a very humorous
and intelligent fellow, who was a constant fund of amusement both
for the Brazilians and ourselves. He had been educated in the same
institution with Laura Bridgman, as a teacher of the deaf and dumb. He
seemed to have a passion for travelling, probably as the only means of
furnishing through his one sense the necessary amount of exercise and
stimulus to his mind. He had travelled alone through Peru and Chile,
across to Brazil, through Pará to Barra, and now proposed going by
the Rio Branco to Demerara, and so to the United States. He supported
himself by selling the deaf and dumb alphabet, with explanations in
Spanish and Portuguese. He carried a little slate, on which he could
write anything in English or French, and also a good deal in Spanish,
so that he could always make his wants known. He made himself at home
in every house in Barra, walking in and out as he liked, and asking
by signs for whatever he wanted. He was very merry, fond of practical
jokes, and of making strange gesticulations. He pretended to be a
phrenologist; and on feeling the head of a Portuguese or Brazilian
would always write down on his slate, “Very fond of the ladies;” which
on being translated, would invariably elicit, “He verdade” (that’s very
true), and signs of astonishment at his penetration. He was a great
smoker, and would drink wine and spirits so freely as sometimes to make
him carry his antics to a great length; still he was much liked, and
will be long remembered by the people of Barra. But, poor fellow! he
was never to see his native land again: he died a few months after,
at the fortress of São Joaquim, on the Rio Branco,—it was said, of

Notwithstanding all this, the time passed heavily enough; and though
Mr. Hauxwell soon after arrived to add to our party, still nothing
could make up for the desolation and death which the incessant rains
appeared to have produced in all animated nature. Between two and three
months passed away in this unexciting monotony, when, the river having
nearly risen to its height, and there being some appearance of the
weather improving, I determined on taking a journey to the Solimões
(as the Amazon is called above the entrance of the Rio Negro), to the
estate of Senhor Brandão, my kind host’s father-in-law.

The river was now so high that a great portion of the lowlands between
the Rio Negro and the Amazon was flooded, being what is called “Gapó.”
This is one of the most singular features of the Amazon. It extends
from a little above Santarem up to the confines of Peru—a distance of
about seventeen hundred miles—and varies in width on each side of the
river from one to ten or twenty miles. From Santarem to Coarí, a little
town on the Solimões, a person may go by canoe in the wet season
without once entering into the main river. He will pass through small
streams, lakes, and swamps, and everywhere around him will stretch out
an illimitable waste of waters, but all covered with a lofty virgin
forest. For days he will travel through this forest, scraping against
tree-trunks, and stooping to pass beneath the leaves of prickly palms,
now level with the water, though raised on stems forty feet high. In
this trackless maze the Indian finds his way with unerring certainty,
and by slight indications of broken twigs or scraped bark, goes on day
by day as if travelling on a beaten road. In the Gapó peculiar animals
are found, attracted by the fruits of trees which grow only there. In
fact, the Indians assert that every tree that grows in the Gapó is
distinct from all those found in other districts; and when we consider
the extraordinary conditions under which these plants exist, being
submerged for six months of the year till they are sufficiently lofty
to rise above the highest water-level, it does not seem improbable
that such may be the case. Many species of trogons are peculiar to
the Gapó, others to the dry virgin forest. The umbrella chatterer is
entirely confined to it, as is also the little bristle-tailed manakin.
Some monkeys are found there only in the wet season, and whole tribes
of Indians, such as the Purupurús and Múras, entirely inhabit it,
building small, easily-removable huts on the sandy shores in the dry
season, and on rafts in the wet; spending a great part of their lives
in canoes, sleeping suspended in rude hammocks from trees over the deep
water, cultivating no vegetables, but subsisting entirely on the fish,
turtle, and cow-fish which they obtain from the river.

On crossing the Rio Negro from the city of Barra, we entered into a
tract of this description. Our canoe was forced under branches and
among dense bushes, till we got into a part where the trees were
loftier, and a deep gloom prevailed. Here the lowest branches of the
trees were level with the surface of the water, and were many of them
putting forth flowers. As we proceeded, we sometimes came to a grove
of small palms, the leaves being now only a few feet above us, and
among them was the marajá, bearing bunches of agreeable fruit, which,
as we passed, the Indians cut off with their long knives. Sometimes
the rustling of leaves overhead told us that monkeys were near, and
we would soon perhaps discover them peeping down from among the thick
foliage, and then bounding rapidly away as soon as we had caught a
glimpse of them. Presently we came out into the sunshine, in a grassy
lake filled with lilies and beautiful water-plants, little yellow
bladder-worts (_Utricularias_), and the bright-blue flowers and curious
leaves with swollen stalks of the _Pontederias_. Again in the gloom
of the forest, among the lofty cylindrical trunks rising like columns
out of the deep water: now a splashing of falling fruit around us
would announce that birds were feeding overhead, and we could discover
a flock of paroquets, or some bright-blue chatterers, or the lovely
pompadour, with its delicate white wings and claret-coloured plumage;
now with a whirr a trogon would seize a fruit on the wing, or some
clumsy toucan make the branches shake as he alighted.

But what lovely yellow flower is that suspended in the air between
two trunks, yet far from either? It shines in the gloom as if its
petals were of gold. Now we pass close by it, and see its stalk, like
a slender wire a yard and a half long, springing from a cluster of
thick leaves on the bark of a tree. It is an _Oncidium_, one of the
lovely orchis tribe, making these gloomy shades gay with its airy and
brilliant flowers. Presently there are more of them, and then others
appear, with white and spotted and purple blossoms, some growing on
rotten logs floating in the water, but most on moss and decaying bark
just above it. There is one magnificent species, four inches across,
called by the natives St. Ann’s flower (Flor de Santa Anna), of a
brilliant purple colour, and emitting a most delightful odour; it is
a new species, and the most magnificent flower of its kind in these
regions; even the natives will sometimes deign to admire it, and to
wonder how such a beautiful flower grows “atóa” (uselessly) in the Gapó.

At length, after about eight hours’ paddling, we came out again into
the broad waters of the Solimões. How bright shone the sun! how gay
flowed the stream! how pleasant it was again to see the floating grass
islands, and the huge logs and trees, with their cargoes of gulls
sitting gravely upon them! These, with the white-leaved and straggling
umboöbas (_Cecropias_), give an aspect to the Amazon quite distinct
from that of the Rio Negro, independently of their differently-coloured
waters. Now however there was no land to be reached, and we feared
we should have to sup on farinha and water, but luckily found a huge
floating trunk fast moored amongst some grass near the side, and on
it, with the assistance of a few dead twigs, we soon made a fire,
roasted our fish, and boiled some coffee. But we had intruded on a
colony of stinging ants, who, not liking the vicinity of fire, and not
choosing to take to the water, swarmed into our canoe and made us pay
for our supper in a very unpleasant manner. Dusk soon came on, and
we had to stay for the night; but the mosquitoes made their presence
known, and we lay uncomfortable and feverish till the morning. By the
next night we had reached the mouth of the small stream that leads up
to Manaquery, and had few mosquitoes to annoy us. In the morning we
went on, and soon plunged again into the Gapó, passing through some
small lakes so choked up with grass that the canoe could hardly be
forced over it. Again we emerged into the igaripé—here about a quarter
of a mile wide—and at ten in the morning reached Manaquery.

The estate is situated on the south side of the Solimões, about a
hundred miles above its junction with the Rio Negro. The whole tract
of country round it consists of igaripés, or small streams, lakes,
gapó, and patches of high and dry land, so scattered and mixed together
that it is very difficult to tell whether any particular portion is
an island or not. The land, for a short distance on the banks of the
stream, rises in an abrupt, rocky cliff, thirty or forty feet above
high-water mark: the rocks are of a volcanic nature, being a coarse and
often vitreous scoria. On ascending by some rude steps, I found myself
in a flat grassy meadow, scattered over with orange-trees, mangoes, and
some noble tamarind and calabash trees, and at the back a thicket of

Cattle and sheep were grazing about, and pigs and poultry were seen
nearer the house. This was a large thatched shed, half of which
contained the cane-mill, and was only enclosed by a railing, instead
of a wall; the other half had coarse mud walls, with small windows
and thatch shutters. The floor was of earth only, and very uneven,
yet here resided Senhor Brandão and his daughter, whom I had met at
Barra. The fact was that some ten or twelve years before, during the
Revolution, a party of Indians burnt down his house, and completely
destroyed his gardens and fruit-trees, killed several of his servants
and cattle, and would have killed his wife and children, had they not,
at a moment’s notice, escaped to the forest, where they remained three
days, living on Indian corn and wild fruits. Senhor B. was at the time
in the city, and while the Revolution lasted, which was several years,
he was glad to have his family with him in safety, and could not think
of rebuilding his house. Afterwards he was engaged as Delegarde de
Policia for some years, and he had now only just returned to live on
his estate with one unmarried daughter, and of course had plenty to do
to get things a little in order. His wife being dead, he did not feel
the pleasure he had formerly done in improving his place, and it is,
I think, not improbable that, after having lived here a few years, he
will get so used to it that he will think it quite unnecessary to go to
the expense of rebuilding his house. Still it seemed rather strange to
see a nicely-dressed young lady sitting on a mat on a very mountainous
mud-floor, and with half-a-dozen Indian girls around her engaged in
making lace and in needlework. She introduced me to an elder married
sister who was staying with them, and soon Senhor B. came in from his
cane-field, and heartily welcomed me. About twelve we sat down to
dinner, consisting of tambakí, the most delicious of fish, with rice,
beans, and Indian-meal bread, and afterwards oranges _ad libitum_.

I staid here nearly two months, enjoying a regular country life, and
getting together a tolerable collection of birds and insects.

In a few days a hunter I had engaged in Barra arrived, and forthwith
commenced operations. In the afternoon he generally brought me some
birds or monkeys, which were very plentiful. We rose about half-past
five, and by six had a cup of hot coffee; I then sat down to skin
birds, if any had been brought late over-night, or, if not, took my
gun and walked out in search of some. At seven or half-past we had
a basin of Indian-meal porridge, or chocolate, with new milk, as a
sort of breakfast. At twelve punctually we dined, the standing dish
being tambakí, varied occasionally with fowl, cow-fish, deer, or other
game. At four we had another cup of coffee, with biscuit or fruit,
and at seven we took supper of fish like our dinner, if the fisherman
had arrived. In the morning, for a couple of hours, I generally went
with my net in search of insects. Several rare butterflies were
found sitting on the river’s side, on the margin of mud left by the
retiring waters. Small toucans or araçaris of several species were
very abundant, the rarest and most beautiful being the “curl-crested,”
whose head is covered with little glossy curls of a hard substance,
more like quill or metallic shavings than feathers. These are at times
plentiful, but did not appear till some weeks later than the other
species, when I was at last rewarded for my patience by obtaining
several beautiful specimens.

The common black vultures were abundant, but were rather put to it for
food, being obliged to eat palm-fruits in the forest when they could
find nothing else. Every morning it was an amusing sight to see them
run after the pigs the moment they got up, three or four following
close at the heels of each animal, for the purpose of devouring its
dung the moment it was dropped. The pigs seemed to be very much annoyed
at such indecent behaviour, and would frequently turn round and take a
run at the birds, who would hop out of the way or fly a short distance,
but immediately resume their positions as soon as the pig continued his

I am convinced, from repeated observations, that the vultures depend
entirely on sight, and not at all on smell, in seeking out their food.
While skinning a bird, a dozen of them used to be always waiting
attendance at a moderate distance. The moment I threw away a piece of
meat they would all run up to seize it; but it frequently happened to
fall in a little hollow of the ground or among some grass, and then
they would hop about, searching within a foot of it, and very often go
away without finding it at all. A piece of stick or paper would bring
them down just as rapidly, and after seeing what it was they would
quietly go back to their former places. They always choose elevated
stations, evidently to see what food they can discover; and when
soaring at an immense height in the air, they will descend into the
forest where a cow has died or been killed, long before it becomes
putrid or emits any strong smell. I have often wrapped a piece of
half putrid meat in paper and thrown it to them, and even then, after
hopping up to it, they will retire quite satisfied that it is only
paper, and nothing at all eatable.

Senhor B. had two fine sows, very fat, and each was expected to bring
forth a litter of pigs in a few days. There were no pig-sties or sheds
of any kind; and all animals retire into the forest on such occasions,
and in a few days return with their young family, just as cats do
with us. These sows had both disappeared for some days, and had not
returned, and we began to be afraid that a jaguar which had been heard
near the house, and whose track had been seen, had destroyed them. A
search was accordingly made, and the remains of a sow were discovered
in a thicket not far from the house. The next night we heard the jaguar
roaring within fifty yards of us, as we lay in our hammocks in the
open shed; but there being plenty of cattle, pigs, and dogs about, we
did not feel much alarmed. Presently we heard a report of a gun from
an Indian’s cottage near, and made sure the animal was dead. The next
morning we found that it had passed within sight of the door, but the
man was so frightened that he had fired at random and missed, for there
are some Indians who are as much cowards in this respect as any one
else. For two or three days more we heard reports of the animal at
different parts of the estate, so my hunter went out at night to lie in
wait for it, and succeeded in killing it with a bullet. It was an onça
of the largest size, and was believed to have killed, besides the sow,
a cow which had disappeared some weeks previously.

The weather was now very dry: no rain had fallen for some time;
the oranges were fully ripe, and the grass, so green and fresh
when I arrived, was beginning to assume a brownish-yellow tinge.
Tobacco-picking had begun, and I saw the process of the manufacture as
carried on here. Tobacco is sown thickly on a small patch of ground,
and the young plants are then set in rows, just as we do cabbages. They
are much attacked by the caterpillar of a sphinx moth, which grows to
a large size, and would completely devour the crop unless carefully
picked off. Old men, and women, and children are therefore constantly
employed going over a part of the field every day, and carefully
examining the plants leaf by leaf till the insects are completely
exterminated. When they show any inclination to flower, the buds are
nipped off; and as soon as the leaves have reached their full size,
they are gathered in strong wicker baskets, and are laid out in the
house or a shed, on poles supported by uprights from the floor to
the ceiling. In a few days they dry, and during the hot days become
quite crisp; but the moisture of the night softens them, and early in
the morning they are flaccid. When they are judged sufficiently dry,
every leaf must have the strong fibrous midrib taken out of it. For
this purpose all the household—men, women, and children—are called up
at four in the morning, and are set to work tearing out the midrib,
before the heat of the day makes the leaves too brittle to allow of
the operation. A few of the best leaves are sometimes selected to make
cigars, but the whole is generally manufactured into rolls of two
or four pounds each. The proper quantity is weighed out, and placed
regularly in layers on a table in a row about a yard long, rather
thicker in the middle. Beginning at one end, this is carefully rolled
up and wound round with a cord as tightly as possible. In a few days
these rolls are opened out, to see if there is any tendency to heat or
mould, and if all is right they are again made up with greater care.
Every day they are rebound tighter and tighter, the operator sitting
on the ground with the cord twisted round a post, and winding and
tightening with all his strength, till at length the roll has become
compressed into a solid mass about an inch in diameter, and gradually
tapering towards each end. It is then wound closely from end to end
with a neat strip of the rind of the Uarumá (a water-rush), and tied
up in bundles of an arroba and half an arroba (thirty-two and sixteen
pounds), and is ready for sale. When the tobacco is good, or has, as
they term it, “much honey in it,” it will cut as smooth and solid as a
piece of Spanish liquorice, and can be bent double without cracking.
The price varies according to the quality and the supply, from 4_d._ to
1_s._ per pound.

One day the fisherman brought us in a fine “peixe boi,” or cow-fish, a
species of _Manatus_, which inhabits the Amazon, and is particularly
abundant in the lakes in this part of the river. It was a female, about
six feet long, and near five in circumference in the thickest part. The
body is perfectly smooth, and without any projections or inequalities,
gradually changing into a horizontal semicircular flat tail, with no
appearance whatever of hind limbs. There is no distinct neck; the head
is not very large, and is terminated by a large month and fleshy lips,
somewhat resembling those of a cow. There are stiff bristles on the
lips, and a few distantly scattered hairs over the body. Behind the
head are two powerful oval fins, and just beneath them are the breasts,
from which, on pressure being applied, flows a stream of beautiful
white milk. The ears are minute holes, and the eyes very small. The
dung resembles that of a horse. The colour is a dusky lead, with some
large pinkish-white marbled blotches on the belly. The skin is about
an inch thick on the back, and a quarter of an inch on the belly.
Beneath the skin is a layer of fat of a greater or less thickness,
generally about an inch, which is boiled down to make an oil used for
light and for cooking. The intestines are very voluminous, the heart
about the size of a sheep’s, and the lungs about two feet long, and
six or seven inches wide, very cellular and spongy, and can be blown
out like a bladder. The skull is large and solid, with no front teeth;
the vertebræ extend to the very tip of the tail, but show no rudiments
of posterior limbs; the fore limbs, on the contrary, are very highly
developed, the bones exactly corresponding to those of the human arm,
having even the five fingers, with every joint distinct, yet enclosed
in a stiff inflexible skin, where not a joint can have any motion.

The cow-fish feeds on grass at the borders of the rivers and lakes,
and swims quickly with the tail and paddles; and though the external
organs of sight and hearing are so imperfect, these senses are said
by the hunters to be remarkably acute, and to render necessary all
their caution and skill to capture the animals. They bring forth one,
or rarely two, young ones, which they clasp in their arms or paddles
while giving suck. They are harpooned, or caught in a strong net, at
the narrow entrance of a lake or stream, and are killed by driving a
wooden plug with a mallet up their nostrils. Each yields from five to
twenty-five gallons of oil. The flesh is very good, being something
between beef and pork, and this one furnished us with several meals,
and was an agreeable change from our fish diet.

As I now expected a canoe shortly to arrive, bringing me letters and
remittances from England, after which I was anxious to set off for the
Upper Rio Negro as soon as possible, I determined to return to Barra,
and having agreed for a passage in a canoe going there, I took leave of
my kind host. I must however first say a few words about him. Senhor
José Antonio Brandão had come over from Portugal when very young, and
had married early and settled, with the intention of spending his life
here. Very singularly for a Portuguese, he entirely devoted himself
to agriculture. He built himself a country house at Manaquery, on a
lake near the main river, brought Indians from a distance to settle
with him, cleared the forest, planted orange, tamarind, mango, and
many other fruit-bearing trees, made pleasant avenues, gardens, and
pastures, stocked them well with cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry, and
set himself down to the full enjoyment of a country life. But about
twenty years ago, while his family were yet young, disturbances and
revolutions broke out, and he, as well as all natives of Portugal,
though he had signed the constitution of the Empire, and was in heart
a true Brazilian, became an object of dislike and suspicion to many
of the more violent of the revolutionists. A tribe of Indians who
resided near him, and to whom he had shown constant kindness, were
incited to burn down his house and destroy his property. This they did
effectually, rooting up his fruit-trees, burning his crops, killing
his cattle and his servants, and his wife and family only escaped from
their murderous arrows by timely flight to the forest. During the long
years of anarchy and confusion which followed, he was appointed a
magistrate in Barra, and was unable to look after his estate. His wife
died, his children married, and he of course felt then little interest
in restoring things to their former state.

He is a remarkably intelligent man, fond of reading, but without books,
and with a most tenacious memory. He has taught himself French, which
he now reads with ease, and through it he has got much information,
though of course rather tinged with French prejudice. He has several
huge quarto volumes of Ecclesiastical History, and is quite learned
in all the details of the Councils, and in the history of the
Reformation. He can tell you, from an old work on geography, without
maps, the length and breadth of every country in Europe, and the main
particulars respecting it. He is about seventy years of age, thirsting
for information, and has never seen a map! Think of this, ye who roll
in intellectual luxury. In this land of mechanics’ institutions and
cheap literature few have an idea of the real pursuit of knowledge
under difficulties,—of the longing thirst for information which there
is no fountain to satisfy. In his conversation there was something racy
and refreshing: such an absence of information, but such a fertility
of ideas. He had read the Bible in Portuguese, as a forbidden book,
though the priests make no very great objection to it here; and it was
something new to hear a man’s opinions of it who had first read it at
a mature age, and solely from a desire for information. The idea had
not entered his mind that it was all inspired, so he made objections to
all parts which he thought incredible, or which appeared to him to be
capable of a simple explanation; and, as might have been expected, he
found of his own accord confirmation of the doctrines of the religion
in which he had been brought up from childhood.

On arriving at Barra, the expected canoe had not arrived, and many
weeks passed wearily away. The weather was fine, but Barra is a very
poor locality for making collections. Insects were remarkably scarce
and uninteresting, and I looked forward anxiously to the time when I
could start for some distant and more promising district. The season
was very dry and hot: the thermometer, at two, every afternoon,
reaching 94° and 95° in the shade, and not often sinking below 75°
during the night. The lowest which I observed, just before sunrise,
was 70°, and the highest in the afternoon, 96°. There was scarcely
any rain during the months of July and August, so the grass about the
city was completely burnt up. The river was now falling rapidly, and
the sand-banks in the Amazon were, some of them, just rising above the

One day, Senhor Henrique made a party to go fishing, with a large
drag-net, in the Solimões. We started in the afternoon in a good canoe,
with a party of about a dozen, and eight or ten Indian rowers; and just
before sunset, reached the mouth of the Rio Negro, and turned up into
the strong and turbid waters of the Solimões. There was a bright moon,
and we kept on talking and singing, while passing the narrow channels
and green islands of the north side of the river, which looked most
picturesquely wild and solitary, by the pale silvery moonlight, and
amid the solemn silence of the forest. By about midnight, we reached
a large sand-bank, just rising out of the water. Most of the party
turned up their trousers, and waded through the shallows, till they
reached the bank, where they began searching for small turtles’ eggs,
and those of gulls and other water-birds, which lay them in little
hollows scraped in the sand. Gulls, divers, ducks, and sandpipers flew
screaming about as we landed, and the splash of fish in the shallow
water told us that there was abundance of sport for us. Senhor Henrique
soon ordered the Indians to get out the net, and commenced dragging.
Every time the net was drawn on shore, we nearly filled a basket with
numerous small fishes, and a few of larger size. There were quantities
of little ones armed with spines, which inflict a serious wound if
trodden on, so we had to be cautious with our bare feet. I was much
interested in the great variety and the curious forms that every
basketful contained. There were numbers of a little fish, peculiar to
the Amazon, which inflates the fore part of the body into a complete
ball, and when stamped upon explodes with a noise similar to that
produced by the bursting of an inflated paper bag.

After two or three hours, we felt rather tired, so we made a fire,
and cooked some of our fish for a meal,—which we might call supper
or breakfast, as we pleased, for dawn was now appearing. We then
again went on fishing, while others got their guns, and endeavoured
to shoot some of the wild ducks. One gentleman, with a rifle, made
an extraordinary shot, bringing down a single duck flying, at a long
distance, with a bullet. Now it was daylight, I endeavoured to sketch
some of the curious fish, but they were so numerous, and the sun was
so hot, that I could do but little; and as they became putrid in a few
hours, I could not keep them for the purpose till we returned home.
About ten in the morning we left off fishing, and began cooking. We
had roasted, broiled, and stewed fish, and with oil and vinegar, and
plenty of pepper and salt, made a very excellent breakfast. We also had
wine, bread, and farinha, and coffee for those who preferred it. While
we were at breakfast, our Indians lay down on the sand, in the sun, to
take a nap, as they had been hard at work for two days without sleep.
In about an hour they were roused to breakfast, and then at noon we
started on our way home.

At five in the afternoon we reached a place at the mouth of the Rio
Negro, where there are some flat rocks, and generally abundance of
fish. Here most of the party began fishing again with rod and line, and
were pretty successful; and a fisherman coming in with a fine pirarucú,
weighing thirty or forty pounds, Senhor Henrique bought it of him, in
order to have something worth showing from our excursion.

We then proceeded homewards, many of us dozing; and our Indians rowing
hard, but hardly able to keep their eyes open. Now and then, one would
regularly drop off to sleep, but keep on paddling mechanically, without
pulling very hard. One of his companions would then tickle his nose,
and rouse him up, and his look of astonishment to find he had been
sleeping would set all in a roar of laughter at his expense. It was
midnight when we reached Barra, and we were all pretty glad to seek our

Several weeks more passed wearily, till at length we had news of the
long-expected canoe; one of the owners, having arrived beforehand in
a montaria, informing us that it would be up in two days more. There
was at this time in the city a trader from the upper Rio Negro, a
Portuguese, and generally considered a very good sort of fellow. He
was to start the next day, but on Senhor Henrique’s representation,
he agreed to stay till Senhor Neill Bradley’s canoe arrived, and then
give me a passage up to the Falls of the Rio Negro, or to any other
place I might wish to go to. The next afternoon the expected vessel
reached Barra; about six in the evening I got a long arrear of letters
from Pará, from England, from California, and Australia, some twenty in
number, and several dated more than a year back. I sat up till two in
the morning reading them, lay down, but slept little till five in the
morning; I then commenced answering the most important of them,—packing
up—buying forgotten necessaries for the voyage—making up a box for
England—giving instructions to my brother H., who was to stay in
Barra, and, in six months, return to England,—and by noon was ready to
start on a voyage of seven hundred miles, and, probably, for a year’s
absence. The Juiz de Direito, or Judge of the district, had kindly
sent me a turkey and a sucking-pig; the former of which I took alive,
and the latter roasted; so I had a stock of provisions to commence the

                             CHAPTER VIII.

                         THE UPPER RIO NEGRO.

  Quit Barra for the Upper Rio Negro—Canoe and cargo—Great width of
    the river—Carvoeiro and Barcellos—Granite rocks—Castanheiro—A
    polite old gentleman—S. Jozé—A new language—The cataracts—S.
    Gabriel—Nossa Senhora da Guia—Senhor L. and his family—Visit
    to the river Cobati—An Indian village—The Serra—Cocks of the
    rock—Return to Guia—Frei Jozé dos Santos Innocentos.

It was on the last day of August, 1850, at about two o’clock on a fine
bright afternoon, that I bade adieu to Barra, looking forward with
hope and expectation to the distant and little-known regions I was now
going to visit. I found our canoe a tolerably roomy one, it being about
thirty-five feet long and seven broad. The after-part had a rough deck,
made of split palm-stems, covered with a tolda, or semicircular roof,
high enough to sit up comfortably within it, and well thatched with
palm-leaves. A part of the front opening was stopped up on each side,
leaving a doorway about three feet wide. The forepart was covered with
a similar tolda, but much lower, and above it was a flat deck, formed
like the other, and supported by upright poles along the sides. This
is called the jangáda, or raft, and serves for the Indians to stand
on, while rowing with oars formed of paddle-blades fixed to long poles.
The canoe was well loaded with all the articles most desired by the
semicivilized and savage inhabitants of the Upper Rio Negro. There were
bales of coarse cotton cloth and of the commonest calico, of flimsy
but brilliantly-coloured prints, of checked and striped cottons, and
of blue or red handkerchiefs. Then there were axes and cutlasses, and
coarse pointed knives in great profusion, fish-hooks by thousands,
flints and steels, gunpowder, shot, quantities of blue, black, and
white beads, and countless little looking-glasses; needles and thread,
and buttons and tape were not forgotten. There was plenty of caxaça
(the rum of the country) and wine for the trader’s own use, as well
as a little brandy for “medicine,” and tea, coffee, sugar, vinegar,
oil for cooking and for light, biscuit, butter, garlic, black pepper,
and other little household luxuries, sufficient to last the family for
at least six months, and supply the pressing wants of any famishing

My host, Senhor João Antonio de Lima, was a middle-sized, wiry, grizzly
man, with a face something like the banished lord in the National
Gallery. He had however all the politeness of his countrymen, placed
the canoe and everything in it “at my orders,” and made himself very
agreeable. Our tolda contained numerous boxes and packages of his
and my own, but still left plenty of room for us to sit or lie down
comfortably; and in the cool of the morning and evening we stood upon
the plank at its mouth, or sat upon its top, enjoying the fresh air
and the cool prospect of dark waters around us. For the first day or
two we found no land, all the banks of the river being flooded, but
afterwards we had plenty of places on which to go on shore and make
our fire. Generally, as soon after daylight as we could discover a
convenient spot, we landed and made coffee, into which we broke some
biscuit and put a piece of butter, which I soon found to be a very
great improvement in the absence of milk. About ten or eleven we
stopped again for breakfast—the principal meal for the Indians. We now
cooked a fowl, or some fish if we had caught any during the night.
About six we again landed, to prepare supper and coffee, which we sat
sipping on the top of the tolda, while we proceeded on our way, till
eight or nine at night, when the canoe was moored in a place where we
could hang up our hammocks on shore, and sleep comfortably till four
or five in the morning. Sometimes this was varied by stopping for
the night at six o’clock, and then we would start again by midnight,
or by one or two in the morning. We would often make our stoppages
at a cottage, where we could buy a fowl or some eggs, or a bunch of
bananas or some oranges; or at another time at a pretty opening in the
forest, where some would start off with a gun, to shoot a curassow or
a guan, and others would drop their line into the water, and soon have
some small but delicious fish to broil. Senhor L. was an old hand at
canoe-travelling, and was always well provided with hooks and lines.
Bait was generally carefully prepared during the day, and at night
the lines would be thrown in; and we were often rewarded with a fine
pirahíba of twenty or thirty pounds’ weight, which made us a breakfast
and supper for the next day.

A little above Barra the river spreads out into great bays on each
side, so as to be from six to ten miles wide; and here, when there is
much wind, a heavy sea rises, which is very dangerous for small canoes.
Above this the river again narrows to about a mile and a half, and
soon afterwards branches out into diverging channels, with islands of
every size between them. For several hundred miles after this the two
banks of the river can never be seen at once: they are probably from
ten to twenty-five miles apart. Some of the islands are of great size,
reaching to thirty or forty miles in length, and with others often
intervening between them and the shore.

On the second and third day after we left Barra, there were high,
picturesque, gravelly banks to the river. A little further on, a few
isolated rocks appear, and at the little village of Ayrão, which we
reached in a week, there were broken ledges of sandstone rock of rather
a crystalline texture. A little lower we had passed points of a soft
sandstone, worn into caves and fantastic hollows by the action of the
water. Further on, at Pedreiro, the rock was perfectly crystalline;
while a little further still, at the mouth of the Rio Branco, a real
granitic rock appears.

At Pedreiro we staid for the night with a friend of Senhor L.’s,
where the news of the city was discussed, and the prices of fish,
salsaparilha, piassaba, etc., communicated. The next day we passed
some picturesque granitic rocks opposite the mouth of the Rio Branco,
where again the two shores of the river are seen at one view. On a
little island there are some curious Indian picture-writings, being
representations of numerous animals and men, roughly picked out of the
hard granite. I made careful drawings of these at the time, and took
specimens of the rock.

The next day we reached Carvoeiro, a village desolate and half
deserted, as are all those on the Rio Negro. We found only two families
inhabiting it, a blacksmith, and a Brazilian, who bore the title of
Capitão Vasconcellos, a good-humoured, civil man, who treated us very
well the day we remained with him. For dinner we had turtle, with
silver knives and forks, but our table was a mat on the ground. In
the afternoon the Capitão got drunk with his old friend Senhor L.,
and then became very violent, and abused him as a vile, unworthy,
skulking Portuguese villain, and used many more epithets, of which the
language has a copious store. Senhor L., who prides himself on never
getting intoxicated, took it very coolly, and the next morning the
Capitão expressed his heartfelt contrition, vowed eternal friendship,
and regretted much that he should have given the “estrangeiro” so much
reason to think ill of his countrymen.

Proceeding on our journey, we entered on a labyrinth of small islands,
so flooded that they appeared like masses of bushes growing out of the
water. Though Senhor L. is well acquainted with the river, we here
almost lost our way, and met another canoe which had quite done so. As
it was late, we staid at a point of dry land for the night, and hung
our hammocks under the trees. The next day we called at the house of a
man who owed Senhor L. some money, and who paid him in turtles, eight
or nine of which we embarked.

The two shores of the river had only been seen for a moment. Again we
plunged into a sea of islands, and channels opening among them often
stretched out to the horizon. Sometimes a distant shore continued for
days unbroken, but was at last found to be but a far-stretching island.
All was now again alluvial soil, and we sometimes had a difficulty in
finding dry land to cook our meals on. In a few days more we reached
Barcellos, once the capital of the Rio Negro, but now depopulated and
almost deserted. On the shore lie several blocks of marble, brought
from Portugal for some public buildings which were never erected. The
lines of the old streets are now paths through a jungle, where orange
and other fruit-trees are mingled with cassias and tall tropical weeds.
The houses that remain are mostly ruinous mud-huts, with here and there
one more neatly finished and whitewashed.

We called on an old Italian, who has the reputation of being rich, but
a great miser. He was however merry enough. He gave us coffee sweetened
with molasses, and pressed us to stay breakfast with him,—which meal
was served in an old storehouse filled with cables, anchors, cordage,
casks, and demijohns. We had silver forks and spoons, and a dirty towel
for a tablecloth, and raw spirits and tough curassow-bird was the fare
placed upon it. He however gave us a basket of oranges to take to the

In a day or two more we passed another decayed village, called
Cabuqueno. About Barcellos had first appeared a very pretty little
palm growing at the water’s edge, a new species of _Mauritia_, which
was afterwards abundant all the way up. Fish were now more plentiful
than in the lower part of the river, and several species occurred, not
found below. Senhor L. often sent two men in a small canoe, to fish
early in the morning, and they would by ten o’clock generally come up
with sufficient for our breakfast and supper, I began now to take a
great interest in the beauty and variety of the species, and, whenever
I could, made accurate drawings and descriptions of them. Many are of a
most excellent flavour, surpassing anything I have tasted in England,
either from the fresh or the salt waters; and many species have real
fat, which renders the water they are boiled in a rich and agreeable
broth. Not a drop of this is wasted, but, with a little pepper and
farinha, is all consumed, with as much relish as if it were the most
delicate soup. Our tolda was pretty hot during the day, generally being
from 95° to 100° inside. Early in the morning the temperature was about
75°, the water at the same time being 85° and feeling quite warm; at
noon or in the afternoon the water would be about 86°, and then feel
delightfully cool from its contrast with the heated air.

We had altogether very fine weather; but every afternoon, or at least
four or five times in a week, we had a “trovoádo,” or storm, which
came on suddenly, with violent gusts of wind, and often thunder and
rain, but passed over in about an hour or two, leaving the atmosphere
beautifully mild and clear. A great luxury of this river is the absence
of mosquitoes. Sunset, instead of being the signal for discomfort
and annoyance, brought us the pleasantest part of the day. We could
sit on the top of the tolda, enjoying the cool evening breeze, and
sipping a cup of coffee—our greatest luxury—till the glories of sunset
faded rapidly away and the stars shone brightly out above us. At this
quiet hour the goatsuckers came out to hunt their insect prey over
the stream, and amused us with their rapid evolutions; the tree-frogs
commenced their mournful chants, a few lingering parrots would cross
the river to their nests, and the guarhibas fill the air with their
howling voices. When at length the dews of evening fell thick upon us,
I would turn in beneath the tolda, while Senhor L., wrapping himself in
a sheet, preferred taking his repose outside.

On September 30th, just a month after we had left Barra, we again saw
the opposite side of the river, and crossed over where it is about
four miles wide. The next day we reached a part where the granitic
rocks commence, and I was delighted to step out of the canoe on to a
fine sloping table of granite, with quartz-veins running across it in
various directions. From this point the river became more picturesque.
Small rocky islands abounded, and fine granite beaches were frequent,
offering delightful places to take our picnic meals. Fish too became
yet more abundant, and we were seldom without this luxury.

On the 3rd of October we reached a sitio, where resided a half-breed
Brazilian named João Cordeiro (John Lamb), who was a friend of Senhor
L. as well as a customer. We staid here two days, while a good part of
the cargo of the canoe was taken out, for Senhor João to choose what
he liked best. Here, for the second time since we left Barra, we saw a
few cows, and had milk to our coffee. I amused myself by walking in the
forest and catching some insects, of which I found many new species.
At length, the gay cottons and gauzes, the beads and cutlery, wines
and spirits, sugar and butter, having been selected, we went on our
way, Senhor João promising to get plenty of piassaba, salsa, and other
products, ready to pay Senhor L. by the time he next sent to the city.

The following day we reached St. Isabel, a miserable village overgrown
with weeds and thickets, and having at this time but a single
inhabitant, a Portuguese, with whom we took a cup of coffee, sweetening
it however with our own sugar, as he had no such luxury. He was one
of the many decent sort of men who drag on a miserable existence
here, putting up with hardships and deprivations which in a civilized
community would be only the result of the most utter poverty.

On the 8th we reached Castanheiro, and staid a day with another
Portuguese, one of the richest traders on the river. He owed his
wealth principally to having steadily refused to take goods on credit,
which is the curse of this country: he thus was always his own master,
instead of being the slave of the Barra and Pará merchants, and could
buy in the cheapest and sell in the dearest market. With economy and a
character for closeness, he had accumulated some five or six thousand
pounds, which went on rapidly increasing, as in this country living
costs a man nothing, unless he drinks or gambles. He trades with the
Indians, takes the product in his own canoe to Pará, buys the articles
he knows are most saleable, and gets a profit of about a hundred per
cent. on all the business he does. It may give some insight into the
state of this country to know that, though this man is distinguished
from almost all other traders by his strict integrity and fairness,
which all allow, yet he is seldom spoken well of, because he does not
enter into the extravagance and debauchery which it is thought he can
well afford.

A little further on we passed some more curious Indian picture-writings
on a granite rock, of which I took a sketch. On the 11th we reached
Wanawacá, the seat of a Brazilian from Pernambuco, banished to the Rio
Negro for joining in some insurrection. I had heard the most horrible
stories of this man’s crimes. He had murdered the Indians, carried
away their wives and daughters, and committed barbarities that are too
disgusting to mention. Yet, as I had a letter of introduction to him,
and he was a friend of Senhor L., we went to call upon him. I found
him a mild, quiet, polite, white-haired old gentleman, who received
us with great civility, gave us a very good breakfast, and conversed
in an unusually rational manner. When we had gone, Senhor L. asked me
if I was not surprised to see such a mild-looking man. “But,” said
he, “these soft-spoken ones are always the worst. He is a regular
hypocrite, and he will stick at nothing. Among his friends he will
boast of his crimes, and he declares there is nothing that he will not
do for his own pleasure or profit.”

The next day we staid at another village, São Jozé, where we were to
leave our little vessel, and proceed in two smaller ones, as the stream
was now so rapid that we could not make much way, and the Falls a
little higher up were quite impassable for our large canoe. Here we
staid two days, unloading and loading. I found plenty to do capturing
the butterflies, several rare species of which were abundant on the hot
rocks by the river’s side. At length all was right, and we proceeded
on our way in two heavily-laden canoes, and rather cramped for room
compared to what we had been before. We had several little rapids to
pass, round projecting points of rock, where the Indians had to jump
into the water and push the canoe past the difficulty. In two days
more we reached the village of São Pedro, where Senhor L. borrowed
another canoe, much better and more convenient, so that we had again
half a day’s delay. The owner was a young Brazilian trader, a very
hospitable and civil fellow, with whom we spent a pleasant evening.
He and Senhor L. were old cronies, and began talking in a language I
could not understand, though I knew it was some kind of Portuguese. I
soon however found out what it was, and Senhor L. afterwards told me
that he had learnt it when a boy at school. It consisted in adding to
every syllable another, rhyming with it, but beginning with p; thus to
say, “Venha ca” (come here), he would say “Venpenhapa capa,” or if in
English “Comepum herepere;” and this, when spoken rapidly, is quite
unintelligible to a person not used to it. This Senhor was a bit of a
musician, and amused us with some simple tunes on the guitar, almost
the only instrument used in this part of the country.

Leaving this place, we passed the mouth of the small river Curicuriarí,
from which we had a fine view of the Serras of the same name. These are
the finest mountains I had yet seen, being irregular conical masses
of granite about three thousand feet high. They are much jagged and
peaked, clothed with forest in all the sloping parts, but with numerous
bare precipices, on which shine huge white veins and masses of quartz,
putting me in mind of what must be the appearance of the snow-capped
Andes. Lower down, near St. Isabel, we had passed several conical
peaks, but none more than a thousand feet high: these all rise abruptly
from a perfectly level plain, and are not part of any connected range
of hills.

On the same day, the 19th of October, we reached the celebrated Falls
of the Rio Negro. Small rocky islands and masses of bare rock now
began to fill the river in every part. The stream flowed rapidly round
projecting points, and the main channel was full of foam and eddies.
We soon arrived at the commencement of the actual rapids. Beds and
ledges of rock spread all across the river, while through the openings
between them the water rushed with terrific violence, forming dangerous
whirlpools and breakers below. Here it was necessary to cross to the
other side, in order to get up. We dashed into the current, were
rapidly carried down, got among the boiling waves, then passed suddenly
into still water under shelter of an island; whence starting again, we
at length reached the other side, about a mile across. Here we found
ourselves at the foot of a great rush of water, and we all got out upon
the rocks, while the Indians, with a strong rope, partly in the water,
and partly on land, pulled the canoe up, and we again proceeded. As
we went on we constantly encountered fresh difficulties. Sometimes we
had to cross into the middle of the stream, to avoid some impassable
mass of rocks; at others, the canoe was dragged and pushed in narrow
channels, which hardly allowed it to pass. The Indians, all naked,
with their trowsers tied round their loins, plunged about in the water
like fishes. Sometimes a projecting crag had to be reached with the
tow-rope. An Indian takes it in his hand, and leaps into the rapid
current: he is carried down by its irresistible force. Now he dives
to the bottom, and there swims and crawls along, where the stream has
less power. After two or three trials, he reaches the rock, and tries
to mount upon it; but it rises high and abruptly out of the water, and
after several efforts he falls back exhausted, and floats down again
to the canoe amid the mirth and laughter of his comrades. Another now
tries, with the same result. Then another plunges in without the rope,
and thus unencumbered mounts on the rock and gives a helping hand to
his companion; and then all go to work, and we are pulled up past the

But a little ahead of us is an extensive mass of rocks. There is no
passage for the canoe, and we must cross to yonder islet far in the
middle of the stream, where, by the height of the water, Senhor L. and
the pilot judge we shall find a passage. Every stone, even those under
water, form eddies or returning currents, where a canoe can rest in
its passage. Off we go, to try to reach one of them. In a moment we
are in a stream running like a mill-race: “Pull away, boys!” shouts
Senhor L. We are falling swiftly down the river. There is a strong
rapid carrying us, and we shall be dashed against those black masses
just rising above the foaming waters. “All right, boys!” cries Senhor
L.; and just as we seemed in the greatest danger, the canoe wheels
round in an eddy, and we are safe under the shelter of a rock. We are
in still water, but close on each side of us it rages and bubbles, and
we must cross again. Now the Indians are rested; and so off we go,—down
drops the canoe,—again the men strain at their paddles,—again we are
close on some foaming breakers: I see no escape, but in a moment we are
in an eddy caused by a sunken mass above us; again we go on, and reach
at length our object, a rocky island, round which we pull and push our
canoe, and from the upper point cross to another, and so make a zigzag
course, until, after some hours’ hard work, we at length reach the
bank, perhaps not fifty yards above the obstacle which had obliged us
to leave it.

Thus we proceeded, till, reaching a good resting-place about five
in the afternoon, we staid for the night, to rest the Indians well,
against the further fatigues to be encountered the following day.

Most of the principal rapids and falls have names. There are the
“Furnos” (ovens), “Tabocal” (bamboo), and many others. The next day we
went on in a similar manner to the day before, along a most picturesque
part of the river. The brilliant sun, the sparkling waters, the strange
fantastic rocks, and broken woody islands, were a constant source
of interest and enjoyment to me. Early in the afternoon we reached
the village of São Gabriel, where are the principal falls. Here the
river is narrower, and an island in the middle divides it into two
channels, along each of which rolls a tremendous flood of water down an
incline formed by submerged rocks. Below, the water boils up in great
rolling breakers, and, a little further down, forms dangerous eddies
and whirlpools. Here we could only pass by unloading the canoe almost
entirely, and then pulling it up amidst the foaming water as near as
possible to the shore. This done, Senhor L. and myself dressed, and
proceeded up the hill to the house of the Commandante, who must give
permission before any one can pass above the fort. He was a friend of
Senhor L., and I brought him a letter of introduction so he was pretty
civil, gave us some coffee, chatted of the news of the river and the
city for an hour or two, and invited us to breakfast with him before we
left the next morning. We then went to the house of an old Portuguese
trader, whom I had met in Barra, with whom we supped and spent the

The next morning, after breakfasting with the Commandante, we proceeded
on our way. Above São Gabriel the rapids are perhaps more numerous than
below. We twisted about the river, round islands and from rock to rock,
in a most complicated manner. On a point where we staid for the night I
saw the first tree-fern I had yet met with, and looked on it with much
pleasure, as an introduction to a new and interesting district: it was
a small, thin-stemmed, elegant species, about eight or ten feet high.
At night, on the 22nd, we passed the last rapid, and now had smooth
water before us for the rest of our journey. We had thus been four
days ascending these rapids, which are about thirty miles in length.
The next morning we entered the great and unknown river “Uaupés,” from
which there is another branch into the Rio Negro, forming a delta at
its mouth. During our voyage I had heard much of this river from Senhor
L., who was an old trader up it, and well acquainted with the numerous
tribes of uncivilized Indians which inhabit its banks, and with the
countless cataracts and rapids which render its navigation so dangerous
and toilsome. Above the Uaupés the Rio Negro was calm and placid, about
a mile, or sometimes two to three miles, wide, and its waters blacker
than ever.

On the 24th of October, early in the morning, we reached the little
village of Nossa Senhora da Guía, where Senhor L. resided, and where he
invited me to remain with him as long as I felt disposed.

The village is situated on high ground sloping down suddenly to
the river. It consists of a row of thatched mud-huts, some of them
whitewashed, others the colour of the native earth. Immediately
behind are some patches of low sandy ground, covered with a shrubby
vegetation, and beyond is the virgin forest. Senhor L’s house had
wooden doors, and shutters to the windows, as had also one or two
others. In fact Guía was once a very populous and decent village,
though now as poor and miserable as all the others of the Rio Negro.
Going up to the house I was introduced to Senhor L’s family, which
consisted of two grown-up daughters, two young ones, and a little
boy of eight years old. A good-looking “mamelúca,” or half-breed
woman, of about thirty, was introduced as the “mother of his younger
children.” Senhor L. had informed me during the voyage that he did
not patronize marriage, and thought everybody a great fool who did.
He had illustrated the advantages of keeping oneself free of such
ties by informing me that the mother of his two elder daughters having
grown old, and being unable to bring them up properly or teach them
Portuguese, he had turned her out of doors, and got a younger and
more civilized person in her place. The poor woman had since died of
jealousy, or “passion,” as he termed it. When young, she had nursed him
during an eighteen months’ illness and saved his life; but he seemed to
think he had performed a duty in turning her away,—for, said he, “She
was an Indian, and could only speak her own language, and, so long as
she was with them, my children would never learn Portuguese.”

The whole family welcomed him in a very cold and timid manner, coming
up and asking his blessing as if they had parted from him the evening
before, instead of three months since. We then had some coffee and
breakfast; after which the canoe was unloaded, and a little house just
opposite his which happened to be unoccupied, was swept out for me. My
boxes were placed in it, my hammock hung up, and I soon made myself
comfortable in my new quarters, and then walked out to look about me.

In the village were about a dozen houses belonging to Indians, all of
whom had their sitios, or country-houses, at from a few hours’ to some
days’ distance up or down the river, or on some of the small tributary
streams. They only inhabit the village at times of festas, or on the
arrival of a merchant like Senhor L., when they bring any produce they
may have to dispose of, or, if they have none, get what goods they can
on credit, with the promise of payment at some future time.

There were now several families in the village, to welcome their sons
and husbands, who had formed our crew; and for some days there was a
general drinking and dancing from morning to night. During this time, I
took my gun into the woods, in order to kill a few birds. Immediately
behind the house were some fruit-trees, to which many chatterers and
other pretty birds resorted, and I managed to shoot some every day.
Insects were very scarce in the forest; but on the river-side there
were often to be found rare butterflies, though not in sufficient
abundance to give me much occupation. In a few days, Senhor L. got a
couple of Indians to come and hunt for me, and I hoped then to have
plenty of birds. They used the gravatána, or blow-pipe, a tube ten
to fifteen feet in length, through which they blow small arrows with
such force and precision, that they will kill birds or other game as
far off, and with as much certainty, as with a gun. The arrows are
all poisoned, so that a very small wound is sufficient to bring down
a large bird. I soon found that my Indians had come at Senhor L’s
bidding, but did not much like their task; and they frequently returned
without any birds, telling me they could not find any, when I had very
good reason to believe they had spent the day at some neighbouring
sitio. At other times, after a day in the forest, they would bring a
little worthless bird, which can be found around every cottage. As they
had to go a great distance in search of good birds, I had no hold upon
them, and was obliged to take what they brought me, and be contented.
It was a great annoyance here, that there were no good paths in the
forest, so that I could not go far myself, and in the immediate
vicinity of the village there is little to be obtained.

I found it more easy to procure fishes, and was much pleased by being
frequently able to add to my collection of drawings. The smaller
species I also preserved in spirits. The electrical eel is common in
all the streams here; it is caught with a hook, or in weirs, and is
eaten, though not much esteemed. When the water gets low, and leaves
pools among the rocks, many fish are caught by poisoning the waters
with a root called “timbo.” The mouths of the small streams are also
staked across, and large quantities of all kinds are obtained. The fish
thus caught are very good when fresh, but putrefy sooner than those
caught in weirs or hooked.

Not being able to do much here, I determined to take a trip up a small
stream to a place where, on a lonely granite mountain, the “Cocks of
the Rock” are found. An Indian, who could speak a little Portuguese,
having come from a village near it, I agreed to return with him. Senhor
L. lent me a small canoe; and my two hunters, one of whom lived there,
accompanied me. I took with me plenty of ammunition, a great box for
my birds, some salt, hooks, mirrors, knives, etc., for the Indians,
and left Guía early one morning. Just below the village we turned
into the river Isanna, a fine stream, about half a mile wide, and in
the afternoon reached the mouth of the small river Cobáti (fish),
on the south side, which we entered. We had hitherto seen the banks
clothed with thick virgin forest, and here and there were some low
hills covered entirely with lofty trees. Now the country became very
bushy and scrubby; in parts sandy and almost open; perfectly flat,
and apparently inundated at the high floods. The water was of a more
inky blackness; and the little stream, not more than fifty yards wide,
flowed with a rapid current, and turned and doubled in a manner that
made our progress both difficult and tedious. At night, we stopped
at a little piece of open sandy ground, where we drove stakes in the
earth to hang our hammocks. The next morning at daybreak we continued
our journey. The whole day long we wound about, the stream keeping up
exactly the same bleak character as before;—not a tree of any size
visible, and the vegetation of a most monotonous and dreary character.
At night we staid near a lake, where the Indians caught some fine
fish, and we made a good supper. The next day we wound about more than
ever; often, after an hour’s hard rowing, returning to within fifty
yards of a point we had started from. At length, however, early in the
afternoon, the aspect of the country suddenly changed; lofty trees
sprang up on the banks, the characteristic creepers hung in festoons
over them; moss-covered rocks appeared; and from the river gradually
rose up a slope of luxuriant virgin forest, whose varied shades of
green and glistening foliage were most grateful to the eye and the
imagination, after the dull, monotonous vegetation of the previous days.

In half an hour more, we were at the village, which consisted of
five or six miserable little huts imbedded in the forest. Here I was
introduced to my conductor’s house. It contained two rooms, with a
floor of earth, and smoky thatch over head. There were three doors,
but no windows. Near one of these I placed my birdbox, to serve as a
table, and on the other side swung my hammock. We then took a little
walk, to look about us. Paths led to the different cottages, in which
were large families of naked children, and their almost naked parents.
Most of the houses had no walls, but were mere thatched sheds supported
on posts, and with sometimes a small room enclosed with a palm-leaf
fence, to make a sleeping apartment. There were several young boys here
of from ten to fifteen years of age, who were my constant attendants
when I went into the forest. None of them could speak a single word
of Portuguese, so I had to make use of my slender stock of Lingoa
Geral. But Indian boys are not great talkers, and a few monosyllables
would generally suffice for our communications. One or two of them had
blow-pipes, and shot numbers of small birds for me, while others would
creep along by my side and silently point out birds, or small animals,
before I could catch sight of them. When I fired, and, as was often
the case, the bird flew away wounded, and then fell far off in the
forest, they would bound away after it, and seldom search in vain. Even
a little humming-bird, falling in a dense thicket of creepers and dead
leaves, which I should have given up looking for in despair, was always
found by them.

One day I accompanied the Indian, with whom I lived, into the forest,
to get stems for a blow-pipe. We went, about a mile off, to a place
where numerous small palms were growing: they were the _Iriartea
setigera_ of Martius, from ten to fifteen feet high, and varying from
the thickness of one’s finger, to two inches in diameter. They appear
jointed outside, from the scars of the fallen leaves, but within have
a soft pith, which, when cleared out, leaves a smooth, polished bore.
My companion selected several of the straightest he could find, both
of the smallest and largest diameter. These stems were carefully dried
in the house, the pith cleared out with a long rod made of the wood
of another palm, and the bore rubbed clean and polished with a little
bunch of roots of a tree-fern, pulled backwards and forwards through
it. Two stems are selected of such a size, that the smaller can be
pushed inside the larger; this is done, so that any curve in the one
may counteract that in the other; a conical wooden mouthpiece is then
fitted on to one end, and sometimes the whole is spirally bound with
the smooth, black, shining bark of a creeper. Arrows are made of the
spinous processes of the Patawá (_Œnocarpus Batawa_) pointed, and
anointed with poison, and with a little conical tuft of tree cotton
(the silky covering of the seeds of a _Bombax_) at the other end, to
fill up exactly, but not tightly, the bore of the tube: these arrows
are carried in a wicker quiver, well covered with pitch at the lower
part, so that it can be inverted in wet weather, to keep the arrows
dry. The blow-pipes, or gravatánas, are the principal weapon here.
Every Indian has one, and seldom goes into the forest, or on the
rivers, without it.

I soon found that the Cocks of the Rock, to obtain which was my chief
object in coming here, were not to be found near the village. Their
principal resort was the Serra de Cobáti, or mountain before mentioned,
situated some ten or twelve miles off in the forest, where I was
informed they were very abundant. I accordingly made arrangements for
a trip to the Serra, with the intention of staying there a week. By
the promise of good payment for every “Gallo” they killed for me, I
persuaded almost the whole male population of the village to accompany
me. As our path was through a dense forest for ten miles, we could not
load ourselves with much baggage: every man had to carry his gravatána,
bow and arrows, rede, and some farinha; which, with salt, was all the
provisions we took, trusting to the forest for our meat; and I even
gave up my daily and only luxury of coffee.

We started off, thirteen in number, along a tolerable path. In about an
hour we came to a mandiocca-field and a house, the last on the road to
the serra. Here we waited a short time, took some “mingau,” or gruel,
made of green plantains, and got a volunteer to join our company. I was
much struck with an old woman whose whole body was one mass of close
deep wrinkles, and whose hair was white, a sure sign of very great age
in an Indian; from information I obtained, I believe she was more than
a hundred years old. There was also a young “mamelúca,” very fair and
handsome, and of a particularly intelligent expression of countenance,
very rarely seen in that mixed race. The moment I saw her I had little
doubt of her being a person of whom I had heard Senhor L. speak, as
the daughter of the celebrated German naturalist, Dr. Natterer, by
an Indian woman. I afterwards saw her at Guía, and ascertained that
my supposition was correct. She was about seventeen years of age,
was married to an Indian, and had several children. She was a fine
specimen of the noble race produced by the mixture of the Saxon and
Indian blood.

Proceeding onwards, we came to another recently-cleared
mandiocca-field. Here the path was quite obliterated, and we had to
cross over it as we could. Imagine the trees of a virgin forest cut
down so as to fall across each other in every conceivable direction.
After lying a few months they are burnt; the fire however only consumes
the leaves and fine twigs and branches; all the rest remains entire,
but blackened and charred. The mandiocca is then planted without any
further preparation; and it was across such a field that we, all
heavily laden, had to find our way. Now climbing on the top of some
huge trunk, now walking over a shaking branch or creeping among a
confused thicket of charcoal, few journeys require more equanimity of
temper than one across an Amazonian clearing.

Passing this, we got into the forest. At first the path was tolerable;
soon however it was a mere track a few inches wide, winding among
thorny creepers, and over deep beds of decaying leaves. Gigantic
buttress trees, tall fluted stems, strange palms, and elegant
tree-ferns were abundant on every side, and many persons may suppose
that our walk must necessarily have been a delightful one; but there
were many disagreeables. Hard roots rose up in ridges along our path,
swamp and mud alternated with quartz pebbles and rotten leaves; and
as I floundered along in the barefooted enjoyment of these, some
overhanging bough would knock the cap from my head or the gun from my
hand; or the hooked spines of the climbing palms would catch in my
shirt-sleeves, and oblige me either to halt and deliberately unhook
myself, or leave a portion of my unlucky garment behind. The Indians
were all naked, or, if they had a shirt or trowsers, carried them in
a bundle on their heads, and I have no doubt looked upon me as a good
illustration of the uselessness and bad consequences of wearing clothes
upon a forest journey.

After four or five hours’ hard walking, at a pace which would not have
been bad upon clear level ground, we came to a small stream of clear
water, which had its source in the serra to which we were going. Here
we waited a few moments to rest and drink, while doing which we heard
a strange rush and distant grunt in the forest. The Indians started
up, all excitement and animation: “Tyeassú!” (wild hogs) they cried,
seizing their bows and arrows, tightening the strings, and grasping
their long knives. I cocked my gun, dropped in a bullet, and hoped to
get a shot at a “porco;” but being afraid, if I went with them, of
losing myself in the forest, I waited with the boys in hopes the game
would pass near me. After a little time we heard a rushing and fearful
gnashing of teeth, which made me stand anxiously expecting the animals
to appear; but the sound went further off, and died away at length in
the distance.

The party now appeared, and said that there was a large herd of fine
pigs, but that they had got away. They however directed the boys to go
on with me to the Serra, and they would go again after the herd. We
went on accordingly over very rough, uneven ground, now climbing up
steep ascents over rotting trunks of fallen trees, now descending into
gullies, till at length we reached a curious rock—a huge table twenty
or thirty feet in diameter, supported on two points only, and forming
an excellent cave; round the outer edge we could stand upright under
it, but towards the centre the roof was so low that one could only lie
down. The top of this singular rock was nearly flat, and completely
covered with forest-trees, and it at first seemed as if their weight
must overbalance it from its two small supports; but the roots of the
trees, not finding nourishment enough from the little earth on the
top of the rock, ran along it to the edge, and there dropped down
vertically and penetrated among the broken fragments below, thus
forming a series of columns of various sizes supporting the table all
round its outer edge. Here, the boys said, was to be our abode during
our stay, though I did not perceive any water near it. Through the
trees we could see the mountain a quarter or half a mile from us,—a
bare, perpendicular mass of granite, rising abruptly from the forest to
a height of several hundred feet.

We had hung up our redes and waited about half an hour, when three
Indians of our party made their appearance, staggering under the weight
of a fine hog they had killed, and had slung on a strong pole. I then
found the boys had mistaken our station, which was some distance
further on, at the very foot of the Serra, and close to a running steam
of water, where was a large roomy cave formed by an immense overhanging
rock. Over our heads was growing a forest, and the roots again hung
down over the edge, forming a sort of screen to our cave, and the
stronger ones serving for posts to hang our redes. Our luggage was
soon unpacked, our redes hung, a fire lighted, and the pig taken down
to the brook, which ran at the lower end of the cave, to be skinned and
prepared for cooking.

The animal was very like a domestic pig, but with a higher back,
coarser and longer bristles, and a most penetrating odour. This I found
proceeded from a gland situated on the back, about six inches above
the root of the tail: it was a swelling, with a large pore in the
centre, from which exuded an oily matter, producing a most intense and
unbearable pig-sty smell, of which the domestic animal can convey but
a faint idea. The first operation of the Indians was to cut out this
part completely, and the skin and flesh for some inches all round it,
and throw the piece away. If this were not done, they say, the “pitiú”
(_catinga_, Port.), or bad smell, would render all the meat uneatable.
The animal was then skinned, cut up into pieces, some of which were put
into an earthen pot to stew, while the legs and shoulders were kept to
smoke over the fire till they were thoroughly dry, as they can thus be
preserved several weeks without salt.

The greater number of the party had not yet arrived, so we ate our
suppers, expecting to see them soon after sunset. However, as they did
not appear, we made up our fires, put the meat on the “moqueen,” or
smoking-stage, and turned comfortably into our redes. The next morning,
while we were preparing breakfast, they all arrived, with the produce
of their hunting expedition. They had killed three hogs, but as it was
late and they were a long way off, they encamped for the night, cut
up the animals, and partially smoked all the prime pieces, which they
now brought with them carefully packed up in palm-leaves. The party had
no bows and arrows, but had killed the game with their blow-pipes, and
little poisoned arrows about ten inches long.

After breakfast was over we prepared for an attack upon the “Gallos.”
We divided into three parties, going in different directions. The
party which I accompanied went to ascend the Serra itself as far as
practicable. We started out at the back of our cave, which was, as I
have stated, formed by the base of the mountain itself. We immediately
commenced the ascent up rocky gorges, over huge fragments, and through
gloomy caverns, all mixed together in the most extraordinary confusion.
Sometimes we had to climb up precipices by roots and creepers, then to
crawl over a surface formed by angular rocks, varying from the size of
a wheelbarrow to that of a house. I could not have imagined that what
at a distance appeared so insignificant, could have presented such a
gigantic and rugged scene. All the time we kept a sharp look-out, but
saw no birds. At length however an old Indian caught hold of my arm,
and whispering gently, “Gallo!” pointed into a dense thicket. After
looking intently a little while, I caught a glimpse of the magnificent
bird sitting amidst the gloom, shining out like a mass of brilliant
flame. I took a step to get a clear view of it, and raised my gun, when
it took alarm and flew off before I had time to fire. We followed, and
soon it was again pointed out to me. This time I had better luck, fired
with a steady aim, and brought it down. The Indians rushed forward,
but it had fallen into a deep gully between steep rocks, and a
considerable circuit had to be made to get it. In a few minutes however
it was brought to me, and I was lost in admiration of the dazzling
brilliancy of its soft downy feathers. Not a spot of blood was visible,
not a feather was ruffled, and the soft, warm, flexible body set off
the fresh swelling plumage in a manner which no stuffed specimen can
approach. After some time, not finding any more gallos, most of the
party set off on an excursion up a more impracticable portion of the
rock, leaving two boys with me till they returned. We soon got tired
of waiting, and as the boys made me understand that they knew the path
back to our cave, I determined to return. We descended deep chasms in
the rocks, climbed up steep precipices, descended again and again, and
passed through caverns with huge masses of rocks piled above our heads.
Still we seemed not to get out of the mountain, but fresh ridges rose
before us, and more fearful fissures were to be passed. We toiled on,
now climbing by roots and creepers up perpendicular walls, now creeping
along a narrow ledge, with a yawning chasm on each side of us. I could
not have imagined such serrated rocks to exist. It appeared as if a
steep mountain-side had been cut and hacked by some gigantic force
into fissures and ravines, from fifty to a hundred feet deep. My gun
was a most inconvenient load when climbing up these steep and slippery
places, and I did it much damage by striking its muzzle against the
hard granite rock. At length we appeared to have got into the very
heart of the mountain: no outlet was visible, and through the dense
forest and matted underwood, with which every part of these rocks were
covered, we could only see an interminable succession of ridges, and
chasms, and gigantic blocks of stone, with no visible termination. As
it was evident the boys had lost their way, I resolved to turn back.
It was a weary task. I was already fatigued enough, and the prospect
of another climb over these fearful ridges, and hazardous descent into
those gloomy chasms, was by no means agreeable. However, we persevered,
one boy taking my gun; and after about an hour’s hard work we got back
to the place whence we had started, and found the rest of the party
expecting us. We then went down by the proper path, which they told me
was the only known way of ascending and descending the mountain, and by
which we soon arrived at our cave.


The accompanying sketch gives a section of this mountain, as near as
I can make it out. The extraordinary jaggedness of the rocks is not
at all exaggerated, and is the more surprising when you get into it,
because from a distance it appears one smooth forest-covered hill, of
very inconsiderable height, and of a gradual slope. Besides the great
caverns and ridges shown above, the surfaces of each precipice are
serrated in a most extraordinary manner, forming deep sloping gutters,
cut out of the smooth face of the rock, or sometimes vertical channels,
with angular edges, such as might be supposed to be formed were the
granite in a plastic state forced up against hard angular masses.

On reaching the cave I immediately skinned my prize before it was dark,
and we then got our supper. No more “gallos” were brought in that day.
The fires were made up, the pork put to smoke over them, and around
me were thirteen naked Indians, talking in unknown tongues. Two only
could speak a little Portuguese, and with them I conversed, answering
their various questions about where iron came from, and how calico was
made, and if paper grew in my country, and if we had much mandiocca and
plantains; and they were greatly astonished to hear that all were white
men there, and could not imagine how white men could work, or how there
could be a country without forest. They would ask strange questions
about where the wind came from, and the rain, and how the sun and moon
got back to their places again after disappearing from us; and when I
had tried to satisfy them on these points, they would tell me forest
tales of jaguars and pumas, and of the fierce wild hogs, and of the
dreaded curupurí, the demon of the woods, and of the wild man with a
long tail, found far in the centre of the forest. They told me also a
curious tale about the tapir, which however others have assured me is
not true.

The tapir, they say, has a peculiar fancy for dropping his dung only
in the water, and they never find it except in brooks and springs,
though it is so large and abundant that it could not be overlooked
in the forest. If there is no water to be found, the animal makes a
rough basket of leaves and carries it to the nearest stream, and there
deposits it. The Indians’ tale goes, that one tapir met another in the
forest with a basket in his mouth: “What have you in your basket?” said
the one. “Fruit,” answered the other. “Let me have some,” said the
first. “I won’t,” said the other; upon which the first tapir pulled
the basket from the other’s mouth, broke it open, and on seeing the
contents both turned tail, quite ashamed of themselves, ran away in
opposite directions, and never came near the spot again all their lives.

With such conversation we passed the time till we fell asleep. We rose
with the earliest dawn, for the naked Indian feels the chill morning
air, and gets up early to renew his fire, and make some mingau to warm
himself. Having no coffee, I had to put up also with “mingau” (farinha
gruel), and we then all started off again in search of game. This time
I took the forest, having had enough of the Serra, and the two boys
came with me for guides and companions. After wandering about a good
way we found some fine curassow-birds high up in lofty trees, and
succeeded in shooting one. This, with a large jacamar, was all we could
find, so we returned to the cave, skinned the jacamar, and put the
“mutun” (curassow bird) on the fire for breakfast.

In the afternoon the other parties returned unsuccessful, one only
bringing in a gallo. The next day nothing at all was met with, and it
was therefore agreed to move our camp to a spot some miles off on the
other side of the serra, where was a feeding-place of the gallos. We
accordingly started; and if our former path was bad enough, this was
detestable. It was principally through second-growth woods, which are
much thicker than the virgin forest, full of prickly plants, entangled
creepers, and alternations of soft mud and quartz pebbles under foot.
As our farinha was getting low, we had sent half our party home, to
bring such a supply as would enable us to remain a week in our new camp.

On reaching the place we found a pleasant open glade and low woods,
where there had formerly been a small Indian settlement. It was much
more airy and agreeable than our cave, so closely surrounded by the
tall dense forest that scarcely a straggling ray of sunshine could
enter. Here were numerous trees of a species of _Melastoma_, bearing
purple berries, of which the gallos and many other birds are very fond.
There was a little shed, just large enough to hang my hammock under;
this we repaired and thatched, and made our head-quarters, where I soon
established myself comfortably. We had not been here long before we
heard the shrill cry of a gallo near us. All immediately started off,
and I soon had the pleasure of again seeing this living flame darting
among the foliage. My gun however had been wetted in walking so far
through the dripping underwood, and missed fire. In the evening two
fine birds were brought in,—a very satisfactory commencement. The next
evening the party who had gone to the village returned with farinha,
salt, and a few mammee apples, which were very refreshing.

We staid here four days longer, with various success: some days we had
not a bird; others, plenty of game, and one or two gallos. What with
monkeys, guans, and mutuns, we had pretty good fare in the meat way.
One day I went out alone, and by patiently watching under a fruit-tree
in a drenching shower, was rewarded by obtaining another beautiful
gallo. Two were brought in alive: one of them I killed and skinned at
once, knowing the great risk of attempting to keep them alive; the
other was kept by the Indian who caught it, but a few weeks afterwards
it died. They are caught by snares at certain places, where the males
assemble to play. These places are on rocks, or roots of trees, and
are worn quite smooth and clean. Two or three males meet and perform a
kind of dance, walking and jigging up and down. The females and young
are never seen at these places, so that you are sure of catching only
full-grown fine-plumaged males. I am not aware of any other bird that
has this singular habit. On the last day of our stay, we were rather
short of provisions. The Indians supped well off a young alligator they
had caught in a brook near; but the musky odour was so strong that
I could not stomach it, and, after getting down a bit of the tail,
finished my supper with mingau.

The next day we returned home to the little village. With twelve
hunters, nine days in the forest, I had obtained twelve gallos,
two of which I had shot myself; I had, besides, two fine trogons,
several little blue-capped manikins, and some curious barbets, and

At the village I spent nearly a fortnight more, getting together a
good many small birds, but nothing very rare. I shot a specimen of the
curious bald-headed brown crow (_Gymnocephalus calvus_), which, though
common in Cayenne, is very rare in the Rio Negro district; nobody, in
fact, but the Indians, had ever seen the bird, and they regarded it as
my greatest curiosity. I also skinned a black agouti, and made drawings
of many curious fish.

The Padre having come to Guía, most of the Indians returned with me to
attend the festa, and get their children baptized. When we arrived,
however, we found that he had left for the villages higher up, and was
to call on his return. I now wished to set off as soon as possible for
the Upper Rio Negro, in Venezuela; but of course no Indian could be
got to go with me till the Padre returned, and I was obliged to wait
patiently and idly at Guía. For days I would go out into the forest,
and not get a bird worth skinning; insects were equally scarce. The
forest was gloomy, damp, and silent as death. Every other day was wet,
and almost every afternoon there was a thunder-storm; and on these dull
days and weary evenings, I had no resource but the oft-told tales of
Senhor L., and the hackneyed conversation on buying and selling calico,
on digging salsa, and cutting piassaba.

At length however the Padre, Frei Jozé, arrived with Senhor Tenente
Filisberto, the Commandante of Marabitanas. Frei Jozé dos Santos
Innocentos was a tall, thin, prematurely old man, thoroughly worn
out by every kind of debauchery, his hands crippled, and his body
ulcerated; yet he still delighted in recounting the feats of his youth,
and was celebrated as the most original and amusing story-teller in the
province of Pará. He was carried up the hill, from the river-side, in
a hammock; and took a couple of days to rest, before he commenced his
ecclesiastical operations. I often went with Senhor L. to visit him,
and was always much amused with his inexhaustible fund of anecdotes:
he seemed to know everybody and everything in the Province, and had
always something humorous to tell about them. His stories were, most
of them, disgustingly coarse; but so cleverly told, in such quaint and
expressive language, and with such amusing imitations of voice and
manner, that they were irresistibly ludicrous. There is always, too, a
particular charm in hearing good anecdotes in a foreign language. The
point is the more interesting, from the obscure method of arriving at
it; and the knowledge you acquire of the various modes of using the
peculiar idioms of the language, causes a pleasure quite distinct from
that of the story itself. Frei Jozé never repeated a story twice, in
the week he was with us; and Senhor L., who has known him for years,
says he had never before heard many of the anecdotes he now related. He
had been a soldier, then a friar in a convent, and afterwards a parish
priest: he told tales of his convent life, just like what we read in
Chaucer of their doings in his time. Don Juan was an innocent compared
with Frei Jozé; but he told us he had a great respect for his cloth,
and never did anything disreputable—_during the day_!

At length the baptisms took place: there were some fifteen or twenty
Indian children of all ages, to undergo the operation at once. There
are seven or eight distinct processes in the Roman Catholic baptism,
well calculated to attract the attention of the Indians: there is water
and holy oil,—and spittle rubbed on the eyes,—and crosses on the eyes,
nose, mouth, and body,—and kneelings and prayers in between, which all
bear sufficient resemblance to the complicated operations of their own
“pagés” (conjurors), to make them think they have got something very
good, in return for the shilling they pay for the ceremony.

The next day there were a few weddings, the ceremony of which is very
like our own. After it was over, Frei Jozé gave the newly married
people a very good and practical homily on the duties of the married
state, which might have done some good, had the parties to whom it was
addressed understood it; which, as it was in Portuguese, they did not.
He at all times strenuously exhorted the Indians to get married, and
thus save their souls,—and fill his pocket. The only two white men,
besides myself, were however bad examples,—for they were not, nor would
be married, though they both had large families; which the Padré got
over by saying, “Never mind what these white people do, they will all
go to purgatory, but don’t you be such fools as to go too!” at which
Senhor L. and the Commandante laughed heartily, and the poor Indians
looked much astonished.

                              CHAPTER IX.


  Leave Guía—Marabitánas—Serra de Cocoí—Enter Venezuela—São
    Carlos—Pass the Cassiquiare—Antonio Dias—Indian
    shipbuilders—Feather-work—Maróa and Pimichín—A black
    Jaguar—Poisonous serpents—Fishing—Walk to Javíta—Residence
    there—Indian road-makers—Language and customs—A description of
    Javíta—Runaway Indians—Collections at Javíta—Return to Tómo—A
    domestic broil—Marabitánas, and its inhabitants—Reach Guía.

When at length our visitors were gone, I commenced arrangements for my
voyage further up the country.

Senhor L. lent me a canoe, and I had four Indians to go with me, only
one of whom, an old man named Augustinho, could speak a little broken
Portuguese. I took with me my watch, sextant, and compass, insect-
and bird-boxes, gun and ammunition, with salt, beads, fish-hooks,
calico, and coarse cotton cloth for the Indians. My men all had
their gravatánas and quivers of poisoned arrows, a pair of trowsers,
shirt, paddle, knife, tinder-box, and rede, which comprise the whole
assortment of an Indian’s baggage.

On the 27th of January, 1851, we left Guía, paddling up against the
stream. The canoe had been fresh caulked, but still I found it leaking
so much, as to keep me constantly baling; and in the afternoon, when
we staid for dinner, I made an examination, and found out the cause of
the leakage. The cargo was heavy and was supported on a little stage,
or floor, resting upon cross-bearers in the bottom of the canoe; the
ends of these bearers had been carelessly placed just on a seam, so
that the whole weight of the cargo tended to force out the plank, and
thus produce the leak. I was accordingly obliged to unload the boat
entirely, and replace the bearers in a better position; after which, I
was glad to find the leak much diminished.

On the 28th, in the afternoon, we arrived at the little village of
Mabé, which we reached in very good time, for the inhabitants had just
returned from a fishing expedition: they had procured a great quantity
of fish by poisoning an igaripé near, and I purchased enough for our
supper and breakfast. I found several which I had not seen before;
among them, a most curious little species allied to _Centrarcus_,
called the butterfly fish, from the extraordinary development of its
fins, and pretty banded markings.

On the 29th, about noon, we passed the mouth of the river Xié, a
black-water stream of moderate size and no great length. There is
little trade up it, and the Indians inhabiting it are uncivilized and
almost unknown.

On the 30th, we came in sight of the serras of the Cababurís, and the
long row of hills called Pirapucó (the long fish): they consist of
lofty and isolated granite peaks, like those generally found in this
district. The next day we reached Marabitánas, the frontier fort of
Brazil: there is now only the remnant of a mud entrenchment, and a
small detachment of soldiers. As the Commandante was not there, we did
not stay, except to purchase a few plantains.

On the 1st of February we reached the Serra of Cocoí, which marks the
boundary between Brazil and Venezuela. This is a granite rock, very
precipitous and forming nearly a square frustum of a prism, about a
thousand feet high. It rises at once out of the forest plain, and is
itself, on the summit and the less precipitous portions, covered with
thick wood. Here the pium̃s, or little biting flies, swarm, and made
us very uncomfortable for the rest of the day. We had now beautiful
weather, and in the evening slept on a fine granite beach very
comfortably. The next night we staid at a rock on which we found some
curious figures engraven below high-water mark. Here having a clear
horizon up the river to the north, I saw my old friend the pole-star,
though I was only in 1° 20´ north latitude. We had now every day fine
rocky beaches, along which I often walked, while young Luiz would shoot
fish for us with his bow and arrow. He was very skilful, and always had
his bow by his side, and as we approached a rock or shallow would fit
his arrow and send it into some glittering acarrá or bright-coloured

At length, on the afternoon of the 4th of February, we arrived at São
Carlos, the principal Venezuelan village on the Rio Negro. This was the
furthest point reached by Humboldt from an opposite direction, and I
was therefore now entering upon ground gone over fifty years before
by that illustrious traveller. At the landing-place I was agreeably
surprised to see a young Portuguese I had met at Guía, and as he was
going up the river to Tómo in a day or two, I agreed to wait and take
him with me. I went with him to the house of the Commissario, got
introduced, and commenced my acquaintance with the Spanish language.
I was civilly received, and found myself in the midst of a party
of loosely-dressed gentlemen, holding a conversation on things in
general. I found some difficulty in making out anything, both from
the peculiarity of accent and the number of new words constantly
occurring; for though Spanish is very similar to Portuguese in the
verbs, pronouns, and adjectives, the nouns are mostly different, and
the accent and pronunciation peculiar.

We took our meals at the Commissario’s table, and with every meal had
coffee, which custom I rather liked. The next day I walked into the
forest along the road to Soláno, a village on the Cassiquiare. I found
a dry, sandy soil, but with very few insects. The village of São Carlos
is laid out with a large square, and parallel streets. The principal
house, called the Convento, where the priests used to reside, is now
occupied by the Commissario. The square is kept clean, the houses
whitewashed, and altogether the village is much neater than those of
Brazil. Every morning the bell rings for matins, and the young girls
and boys assemble in the church and sing a few hymns; the same takes
place in the evening; and on Sundays the church is always opened, and
service performed by the Commissario and the Indians.

Soon after leaving the village we passed the mouth of the Cassiquiare,
that singular stream which connects the Rio Negro with the Orinooko
near the sources of both. It is a mixture of white and black water,
and swarms with pium̃s, which are abundant down to São Carlos; but on
passing the mouth of the Cassiquiare they cease immediately, and up
to the sources of the Rio Negro there is a freedom at least from this
pest. In the evening we staid at an Indian cottage, and bought a fine
cabeçudo, or big-headed turtle, for a basin of salt: it furnished us
with an excellent supper for eight persons, and even the next day we
did not finish it all. The weather was now hot, and brilliantly fine,
contrasting much with the constant rains of Guía; and, marvellous to
relate, the people here told us they had not had any rain for three
months past. The effects were seen in the river, which was very low
and still falling, and so full of rocks and shallows as to render it
sometimes difficult for us to find a passage for our canoes.

After passing the village of São Miguel these difficulties increased,
till we came to a place where the whole channel, a mile wide, appeared
but one bed of rocks, with nowhere water enough for our canoe to
pass, though eighteen inches would have sufficed. We went wandering
about over this rocky plain in search of some opening, and after
much difficulty succeeded in pushing and dragging our boat over the
rocks. We passed by two or three “Caños,” or channels leading to the
Cassiquiare, up which many of the inhabitants were now going, to lay in
a stock of fish and cabeçudos against the “tiempo del faminto” (time of
famine), as the wet season is called, when but little fish and game
are to be obtained.

On the 10th of February we reached Tómo, a village at the mouth of a
stream of the same name. The inhabitants are all Indians, except one
white man, a Portuguese, named Antonio Dias, of whom I had heard much
at Barra. I found him in his shirt and trowsers, covered with dust and
perspiration, having just been assisting his men at their work at some
canoes he was building. He received me kindly, with a strange mixture
of Portuguese and Spanish, and got the “casa de nação,” or stranger’s
house, a mere dirty shed, swept out for my accommodation for a few
days. Like most of the white men in this neighbourhood, he is occupied
entirely in building large canoes and schooners for the Rio Negro and
Amazon trade. When finished, the hulls alone are taken down to Barra or
to Pará, generally with a cargo of piassába or farinha, and there sold.
He had now one on the stocks, of near two hundred tons burden; but most
of them are from thirty to a hundred tons. These large vessels have to
be taken down the cataracts of the Rio Negro, which can only be done in
the wet season, when the water is deep.

It seems astonishing how such large vessels can be at all constructed
by persons entirely ignorant of the principles of naval architecture.
They are altogether made by the Indians without drawing or design.
During the time when Brazil and Venezuela were under the Portuguese and
Spanish governments, building-yards were established in several places
where good timber was to be found, and the Indians were employed, under
naval architects from Spain and Portugal, in the construction of
vessels for the coast and inland trade. When the independence of these
countries took place, all such establishments were broken up, and a
long succession of revolutions and disturbances occurred. The Indians
employed had however learnt an art they did not forget, but taught
it to their children and countrymen. By eye and hand alone they will
form the framework and fit on the planks of fine little vessels of a
hundred tons or more, with no other tools than axe, adze, and hammer.
Many a Portuguese, who has scarcely ever seen a boat except during his
passage to Brazil, gets together half-a-dozen Indians with some old
Indian carpenter at their head, buys a dozen axes and a few thousands
of nails, and sets up as a shipbuilder. The products of the Upper Rio
Negro, principally piassába, pitch, and farinha, are bulky, and require
large vessels to take them down, but their value in iron and cotton
goods can be brought up again in a very small canoe. Large vessels,
too, cannot possibly return up the cataracts. Those made on the Upper
Rio Negro, therefore, never return there, and the small traders require
a new one annually. They are used below in the navigation of the
Amazon, and of all its branches not obstructed by falls or rapids.
The vessels are made very cheaply and roughly, and seldom of the best
timbers, which are difficult to obtain in sufficient quantity. On an
average these canoes do not last more than six or eight years,—many not
more than two or three, though there are woods which will stand for
thirty years perfectly sound. Owing to these peculiar circumstances,
there is a constant demand for these Spanish vessels, as they are
called; and the villages of São Carlos, Tiriquím, São Miguel, Tómo, and
Maróa are entirely inhabited by builders of canoes.

While I was at Tómoe the village was being cleaned, by scraping off the
turf and weeds wherever they appeared within the limits of the houses.
The people show an instance of their peculiar delicacy in this work:
they will not touch any spot on which there lies a piece of dung of a
dog or any animal, or the body of any dead bird or reptile, but hoe
carefully around it, and leave a little circular tuft of grass marking
the spot where all such impurities exist. This is partly owing to a
kind of superstition; but in many other ways they show a dislike to
touch, however remotely, any offensive animal substance. This idea is
carried so far as to lead them sometimes to neglect the sick in any
offensive disease. It seems to be a kind of feeling very similar to
that which exists in many animals, with regard to the sick and the

Senhor Antonio Dias was rather notorious, even in this country of loose
morals, for his patriarchal propensities, his harem consisting of a
mother and daughter and two Indian girls, all of whom he keeps employed
at feather-work, which they do with great skill,—Senhor Antonio
himself, who has some taste in design, making out the patterns. The
cocks of the rock, white herons, roseate spoonbills, golden jacamars,
metallic trogons, and exquisite little seven-coloured tanagers, with
many gay parrots, and other beautiful birds, offer an assortment of
colours capable of producing the most exquisite effects. The work
is principally applied to the borders or fringes of hammocks. The
hammocks themselves are of finely netted palm-fibre string, dyed of
red, yellow, green, and other brilliant colours. The fringes are about
a foot deep, also finely netted, of the same material, and on these are
stuck, with the milk of the cow-tree, sprays and stars and flowers of
feather-work. In the best he puts in the centre the arms of Portugal or
Brazil beautifully executed; and the whole, on a ground of the snowy
white heron’s feathers, has a very pleasing effect.

Senhor Antonio informed me, that, owing to the lowness of the water,
I could not go on any further in my canoe, and must therefore get an
Indian _obá_, of one piece of wood, to stand the scraping over the
rocks up to Pimichín; so, on the 13th, I left Tómo with Senhor Antonio
in his canoe, for Maróa, a village a few miles above, where I hoped to
get an obá suited for the remainder of the journey. This was a large
village, entirely inhabited by Indians, and with an Indian Commissario,
who could read and write, and was quite fashionably dressed in
patent-leather boots, trowsers, and straps. I here got an obá, lent me
by a Gallician trader, and took two Indians with me from the place to
bring it back. Senhor Antonio returned to Tómo, and about three P.M. I
started, with my little tottering canoe, on my journey.

About a mile above Maróa, we reached the entrance of the little river
Pimichín, up which we were to ascend. At the very mouth was a rock
filling up the channel, and we had great difficulty in passing. We then
had deep water for some distance, but came again to rocks and reedy
shallows, where our heavily-laden canoe was only got over by great
exertions. At night we reached a fine sandy beach, where we staid,
but had not been fortunate enough to get any fish, so had nothing
for supper but farinha mingau and a cup of coffee; and I then hung
my hammock under a little palm-leaf shed, that had been made by some
former traveller.

Our breakfast was a repetition of our supper, and we again started
onwards, but every half-hour had to stop and partly unload our boat,
and drag it over some impediment. In many places there was a smooth
ledge of rock with only a little water trickling over it, or a series
of steps forming miniature cascades. The stream was now sunk in a
little channel or ravine fifteen or twenty feet deep, and with an
interminable succession of turnings and windings towards every point
of the compass. At length, late in the evening, we reached the port of
Pimichín, formerly a village, but now containing only two houses. We
found an old shed without doors and with a leaky roof—the traveller’s
house—of which we took possession.

Our canoe being unloaded, I went to one of the cottages to forage, and
found a Portuguese deserter, a very civil fellow, who gave me the only
eatable thing he had in the house, which was a piece of smoke-dried
fish, as hard as a board and as tough as leather. This I gave to the
Indians, and got him to come and take a cup of coffee with me, which,
though he had some coffee-trees around his house, was still quite a
treat, as he had no sugar or molasses. From this place a road leads
overland about ten miles through the forest to Javíta, a village on
the Témi, a branch of the Atabapo, which flows into the Orinooko.
Finding that here I could get nothing to eat, I could not remain, as
I had at first intended, but was obliged to get my things all carried
by road to Javíta, and determined to walk over the next day to see
about getting men to do it. In the evening I took my gun, and strolled
along the road a little way into the forest, at the place I had so long
looked forward to reaching, and was rewarded by falling in with one of
the lords of the soil, which I had long wished to encounter.

As I was walking quietly along I saw a large jet-black animal come out
of the forest about twenty yards before me, and which took me so much
by surprise that I did not at all imagine what it was. As it moved
slowly on, and its whole body and long curving tail came into full view
in the middle of the road, I saw that it was a fine black jaguar. I
involuntarily raised my gun to my shoulder, but remembering that both
barrels were loaded with small shot, and that to fire would exasperate
without killing him, I stood silently gazing. In the middle of the
road he turned his head, and for an instant paused and gazed on me,
but having, I suppose, other business of his own to attend to, walked
steadily on, and disappeared in the thicket. As he advanced, I heard
the scampering of small animals, and the whizzing flight of ground
birds, clearing the path for their dreaded enemy.

This encounter pleased me much. I was too much surprised, and occupied
too much with admiration, to feel fear. I had at length had a full
view, in his native wilds, of the rarest variety of the most powerful
and dangerous animal inhabiting the American continent. I was however
by no means desirous of a second meeting, and, as it was near sunset,
thought it most prudent to turn back towards the village.

The next morning I sent my Indians all out to fish, and walked myself
along the road over to Javíta, and thus crossed the division between
the basins of the Amazon and the Orinooko. The road is, generally
speaking, level, consisting of a series of slight ascents and descents,
nowhere probably varying more than fifty feet in elevation, and a great
part of it being over swamps and marshes, where numerous small streams
intersect it. At those places roughly squared trunks of trees are
laid down longitudinally, forming narrow paths or bridges, over which
passengers have to walk.

The road is about twenty or thirty feet wide, running nearly straight
through a lofty forest. On the sides grow numbers of the Inajá palm
(_Maximiliana regia_), the prickly Mauritia (_M. aculeata_) in the
marshes, and that curious palm the Piassába, which produces the fibrous
substance now used for making brooms and brushes in this country for
street-sweeping and domestic purposes. This is the first and almost the
only point where this curious tree can be seen, while following any
regular road or navigation. From the mouth of the Padauarí (a branch
of the Rio Negro about five hundred miles above Barra), it is found
on several rivers, but never on the banks of the main stream itself.
A great part of the population of the Upper Rio Negro is employed in
obtaining the fibre for exportation; and I thus became acquainted
with all the localities in which it is found. These are the rivers
Padauarí, Jahá, and Darahá on the north bank of the Rio Negro, and the
Marié and Xié on the south. The other two rivers, the Maravihá and
Cababurís, on the north, have not a tree; neither have the Curicuriarí,
Uaupés, and Isánna, on the south, though they flow between the Marié
and the Xié, where it abounds. In the whole of the district about
the Upper Rio Negro above São Carlos, and about the Atabapo and its
branches, it is abundant, and just behind the village of Tómo was
where I first saw it. It grows in moist places, and is about twenty or
thirty feet high, with the leaves large, pinnate, shining, and very
smooth and regular. The whole stem is covered with a thick coating of
the fibres, hanging down like coarse hair, and growing from the bases
of the leaves, which remain attached to the stem. Large parties of
men, women, and children go into the forests to cut this fibre. It is
extensively used in its native country for cables and small ropes for
all the canoes and larger vessels on the Amazon. Humboldt alludes to
this plant by the native Venezuelan name of Chíquichíqui, but does not
appear to have seen it, though he passed along this road. I believe it
to be a species of _Leopoldinia_, of which two other kinds occur in the
Rio Negro, and, like this tree, are found there only. I could not find
it in flower or fruit, but took a sketch of its general appearance, and
have called it _Leopoldinia Piassaba_, from its native name, in the
greater part of the district which it inhabits.

On approaching the end of the road, I came to a “rhossa,” or cleared
field, where I found a tall, stout Indian, planting cassáva. He
addressed me with “Buenos dias,” and asked me where I was going, and
if I wanted anything at the village, for that the Commissario was away,
and he was the Capitão. I replied in the best Spanish I could muster
up for the occasion, and we managed to understand each other pretty
well. He was rather astonished when I told him I was going to stay at
the village, and seemed very doubtful of my intentions. I informed him
however that I was a “Naturalista,” and wanted birds, insects, and
other animals; and then he began to comprehend, and at last promised to
send me some men the day after the next, to carry over my luggage. I
accordingly turned back without going to the village, which was still
nearly a mile off.

On my return to Pimichin I found that my Indians had had but little
success in fishing, three or four small perch being all we could muster
for supper. As we had the next day to spare, I sent them early to get
some “timbo” to poison the water, and thus obtain some more fish. While
they were gone, I amused myself with walking about the village, and
taking notes of its peculiarities. Hanging up under the eaves of our
shed was a dried head of a snake, which had been killed a short time
before. It was a jararáca, a species of _Craspedocephalus_, and must
have been of a formidable size, for its poison-fangs, four in number,
were nearly an inch long. My friend the deserter informed me that there
were plenty like it in the mass of weeds close to the house, and that
at night they came out, so that it was necessary to keep a sharp watch
in and about the house. The bite of such a one as this would be certain

At Tómo I had observed signs of stratified upheaved rocks close to the
village. Here the flat granite pavement presented a curious appearance:
it contained, imbedded in it, fragments of rock, of an angular shape,
of sandstone crystallized and stratified, and of quartz. Up to São
Carlos I had constantly registered the boiling-point of water with an
accurate thermometer, made for the purpose, in order to ascertain the
height above the level of the sea. There I had unfortunately broken it,
before arriving at this most interesting point, the watershed between
the Amazon and the Orinooko. I am however inclined to think that the
height given by Humboldt for São Carlos is too great. He himself says
it is doubtful, as his barometer had got an air-bubble in it, and was
emptied and refilled by him, and before returning to the coast was
broken, so as to render a comparison of its indications impossible.
Under these circumstances, I think little weight can be attached to the
observations. He gives, however, 812 feet as the height of São Carlos
above the sea. My observations made a difference of 0·5° of Fahrenheit
in the temperature of boiling water between Barra and São Carlos, which
would give a height of 250 feet, to which may be added fifty feet
for the height of the station at which the observations were made at
Barra, making 300 feet. Now the height of Barra above the sea I cannot
consider to be more than a hundred feet, for both my own observations
and those of Mr. Spruce with the aneroid would make Barra lower than
Pará, if the difference of pressure of the atmosphere was solely owing
to height, the barometer appearing to stand regularly higher at Barra
than at Pará,—a circumstance which shows the total inapplicability of
that instrument to determine small heights at very great distances, I
cannot therefore think that São Carlos is more than four hundred, or at
the outside five hundred feet, above the level of the sea. Should, as I
suspect, the mean pressure of the atmosphere in the interior and on the
coasts of South America differ from other causes than the elevation,
it will be a difficult point ever accurately to ascertain the levels
of the interior of this great continent, for the distances are too
vast and the forests too impenetrable to allow a line of levels to be
carried across it.

When my Indians returned with the roots of timbo, we all set to work
beating it on the rocks with hard pieces of wood, till we had reduced
it to fibres. It was then placed in a small canoe, filled with water
and clay, and well mixed and squeezed, till all the juice had come out
of it. This being done, it was carried a little way up the stream,
and gradually tilted in, and mixed with the water. It soon began to
produce its effects: small fish jumped up out of the water, turned and
twisted about on the surface, or even lay on their backs and sides.
The Indians were in the stream with baskets, hooking out all that came
in the way, and diving and swimming after any larger one that appeared
at all affected. In this way, we got in an hour or two a basketful of
fish, mostly small ones, but containing many curious species I had not
before met with. Numbers escaped, as we had no weir across the stream;
and the next day several were found entangled at the sides, and already
putrefying. I now had plenty to do. I selected about half-a-dozen of
the most novel and interesting species to describe and figure, and
gave the rest to be cleaned and put in the pot, to provide us a rather
better supper than we had had for some days past.

The next morning early our porters appeared, consisting of one man and
eight or ten women and girls. We accordingly made up loads for each of
them. There was a basket of salt, about a hundred pounds weight, four
baskets of farinha, besides boxes, baskets, a jar of oil, a demijohn of
molasses, a portable cupboard, and numerous other articles. The greater
part of these were taken, in loads proportioned to the strength of the
bearers, and two of my Indians accompanied them, and were to return in
the evening, and then go with me the next day. Night came however, and
they did not appear; but near midnight they came in, telling me that
they could not keep up with the Javíta Indians, and night coming on
while they were in the middle of the road, they had hid their burdens
in the forest and returned. So the next morning they had to go off
again to finish their journey, and I was obliged to wait till they came
back, and was delayed another day before I could get all my things

I occupied myself in the forest, catching a few insects, which however
were not very numerous. The following morning we had nothing for
breakfast, so I sent the Indians off early to fish, with positive
instructions to return by ten o’clock, in order that we might get
to Javíta before night. They chose however to stay till past noon,
and then came with two or three small fish, which did not give us a
mouthful apiece. It was thus two o’clock before we started. I was
pretty well loaded, with gun, ammunition, insect-boxes, etc., but soon
got on ahead, with one Indian boy, who could not understand a single
word of Portuguese. About half-way I saw a fine mutun, a little way
off the road, and went after it; but I had only small shot in my gun,
and wounded it, but did not bring it down. I still followed, and fired
several times but without effect, and as it had suddenly got dark I
was obliged to leave it. We had still some miles to go. The sun had
set, so we pushed on quickly, my attendant keeping close at my heels.
In the marshes and over the little streams we had now some difficulty
in finding our way along the narrow trunks laid for bridges. I was
barefoot, and every minute stepped on some projecting root or stone,
or trod sideways upon something which almost dislocated my ankle. It
was now pitch-dark: dull clouds could just be distinguished through
the openings in the high arch of overhanging trees, but the road we
were walking on was totally invisible. Jaguars I knew abounded here,
deadly serpents were plentiful, and at every step I almost expected to
feel a cold, gliding body under my feet, or deadly fangs in my leg.
Through the darkness I gazed, expecting momentarily to encounter the
glaring eyes of a jaguar, or to hear his low growl in the thicket. But
to turn back or to stop were alike useless: I knew that we could not be
very far from the village, and so pressed on, with a vague confidence
that after all nothing disagreeable would happen, and that the next
day I should only laugh at my fears overnight. Still the sharp fangs
of the dried snake’s head at Pimichín would come across my memory,
and many a tale of the fierceness and cunning of the jaguar were not
to be forgotten. At length we came to the clearing I had reached two
days before, and I now knew that we had but a short distance to go.
There were however several small streams to cross. Suddenly we would
step into water, which we felt but could not see, and then had to find
the narrow bridge crossing it. Of the length of the bridge, its height
above the water, or the depth of the stream, we were entirely ignorant;
and to walk along a trunk four inches wide under such circumstances,
was rather a nervous matter. We proceeded, placing one foot before the
other, and balancing steadily, till we again felt ourselves on firm
ground. On one or two occasions I lost my balance, but it was luckily
only a foot or two to the ground and water below, though if it had been
twenty it would have been all the same. Some half-dozen of brooks and
bridges like this had to be passed, and several little ups and downs in
the road, till at length, emerging from the pitchy shade upon an open
space, we saw twinkling lights, which told us the village was before us.

In about a quarter of an hour more we reached it, and, knocking at a
door, asked where the Commissario lived. We were directed to a house
on the other side of the square, where an old man conducted us to the
“Casa de nação” (a shed with a door), in which were all my goods. On
asking him if he could furnish me something for supper, he gave us some
smoked turtle’s eggs and a piece of salt fish, and then left us. We
soon made a fire with some sticks we found, roasted our fish, and made
a supper with the eggs and some farinha; I then hung up my hammock, and
my companion lay on the ground by the side of the fire; and I slept
well, undisturbed by dreams of snakes or jaguars.

The next morning I called on the Commissario, for the old man I had
seen the evening before was only a capitão. I found him in his house:
he was an Indian who could read and write, but not differing in any
other respect from the Indians of the place. He had on a shirt and
a pair of short-legged trowsers, but neither shoes nor stockings. I
informed him why I had come there, showed him my Brazilian passport,
and requested the use of the Convento (a house formerly occupied by
the priests, but now kept for travellers) to live in. After a little
demur, he gave me the key of the house, and so I said good-morning, and
proceeded to take possession.

About the middle of the day, the Indians who had started with me the
day before arrived; they had been afraid to come on in the dark, so
had encamped in the road. I now got the house swept out, and my things
taken into it. It consisted of two small rooms, and a little verandah
at the back; the larger room contained a table, chair, and bench, and
in the smaller I hung up my hammock. My porters then came to be paid
for bringing over my goods. All wanted salt, and I gave them a basinful
each and a few fish-hooks, for carrying a heavy load ten miles: this is
about their regular payment.

I had now reached the furthest point in this direction that I had
wished to attain. I had passed the boundary of the mighty Amazon
valley, and was among the streams that go to swell another of the
world’s great waters—the Orinooko. A deficiency in all other parts of
the Upper Amazon district was here supplied,—a road through the virgin
forest, by which I could readily reach its recesses, and where I was
more sure of obtaining the curious insects of so distant a region, as
well as the birds and other animals which inhabit it; so I determined
to remain here at least a month, steadily at work. Every day I went
myself along the road, and sent my Indians, some to fish in the little
black river Témi, others with their gravatanas to seek for the splendid
trogons, monkeys, and other curious birds and animals in the forest.

Unfortunately however for me, on the very night I reached the village
it began to rain, and day after day cloudy and showery weather
continued. For three months Javíta had enjoyed the most splendid summer
weather, with a clear sky and hardly a shower. I had been wasting all
this time in the rainy district of the cataracts of the Rio Negro. No
one there could tell me that the seasons, at such a short distance,
differed so completely, and the consequence was that I arrived at
Javíta on the very last day of summer.

The winter or rainy season commenced early this year. The river kept
rapidly rising. The Indians constantly assured me that it was too soon
for the regular rains to commence,—that we should have fine weather
again,—the river would fall, and the winter not set in for two or
three weeks. However, such was not the case. Day after day the rain
poured down; every afternoon or night was wet, and a little sunshine in
the morning was the most we were favoured with. Insects consequently
were much more scarce than they otherwise would have been, and the
dampness of the atmosphere rendered it extremely difficult to dry and
preserve those that I obtained. However, by perseverance I amassed
a considerable number of specimens; and what gave me the greatest
pleasure was, that I almost daily obtained some new species which the
Lower Amazon and Rio Negro had not furnished me with. During the time
I remained here (forty days), I procured at least forty species of
butterflies quite new to me, besides a considerable collection of other
orders; and I am sure that during the dry season Javíta would be a
most productive station for any persevering entomologist. I never saw
the great blue butterflies, _Morpho Menelaus_, _M. Helenor_, etc., so
abundant as here. In certain places in the road, I found them by dozens
sitting on the ground or on twigs by the roadside, and could easily
have captured a dozen or twenty a day if I had wanted them. In birds
and mammalia I did not do much, for my Indians wanted to get back, and
were lazy and would not hunt after them. During my walks in the forest,
I myself saw wild-pigs, agoutis, coatis, monkeys, numerous beautiful
trogons, and many other fine birds, as well as many kinds of serpents.

One day I had brought to me a curious little alligator of a rare
species, with numerous ridges and conical tubercles (_Caiman gibbus_),
which I skinned and stuffed, much to the amusement of the Indians,
half-a-dozen of whom gazed intently at the operation.

Of fish too I obtained many new species, as my Indians were out
fishing every day to provide our supper, and I generally had some
to figure and describe in the afternoon. I formed a good collection
of the smaller kinds in spirits. My drawings here were made under
great difficulties. I generally returned from the forest about three
or four in the afternoon, and if I found a new fish, had to sit down
immediately to figure it before dark. I was thus exposed to the pest
of the sand-flies, which, every afternoon, from four to six, swarm in
millions, causing by their bites on the face, ears, and hands, the
most painful irritation. Often have I been obliged to start up from my
seat, dash down my pencil, and wave my hands about in the cool air to
get a little relief. But the sun was getting low, and I must return
to my task, till, before I had finished, my hands would be as rough
and as red as a boiled lobster, and violently inflamed. Bathing them
in cold water however, and half an hour’s rest, would bring them to
their natural state; in which respect the bite of this little insect is
far preferable to that of the mosquito, the pium̃, or the mutúca, the
effects of whose bites are felt for days.

The village of Javíta is rather a large one, regularly laid out,
and contains about two hundred inhabitants: they are all Indians of
pure blood; I did not see a white man, a mulatto, or a half-breed
among them. Their principal occupation is in cutting piassába in the
neighbouring forests, and making cables and cordage of it. They are
also the carriers of all goods across the “Estrada de Javíta,” and,
being used to this service from childhood, they will often take two
loads a day ten miles each way, with less fatigue than a man not
accustomed to the work can carry one. When my Indians accompanied the
Javitanos the first time from Pimichin, they could not at all keep up
with them, but were, as I have related, obliged to stop half-way.
They go along the road at a sort of run, stopping to rest twice only
for a few minutes each time. They go over the narrow bridges with the
greatest certainty, often two together, carrying heavy loads suspended
from a pole between them. Besides this, once or twice a year they all
go in a body to clean the road as far as the middle, where there is
a cross erected. The inhabitants of Maroa, Tomo, and other villages
of the Rio Negro assemble to clean the other half. One of these
cleanings occurred while I was there. The whole village, men, women,
and children, turned out, the former carrying axes and cutlasses, the
latter bundles of switches to serve as brooms. They divided themselves
into parties, going on to different parts of the road, and then
worked to meet each other. The men cut down all overhanging or fallen
trees which obstructed the way, and cleared off all the brushwood and
weeds which were growing up on the sides. The women and girls and
boys carried these away, and swept clean with their switch brooms
all the dead leaves and twigs, till the whole looked quite neat and
respectable. To clear up a road five miles in length in this manner was
no trifle, but they accomplished it easily and very thoroughly in two

A little while after, the men again turned out, to make new bridges
in several places where they had become decayed. This was rather a
laborious task. Large trees had to be cut down, often some distance
from the spot; they were then roughly squared or flattened on top and
bottom, and with cords of withes and creepers, and with numerous round
sticks and logs placed beneath for rollers, were dragged by twenty
or thirty men to the spot, placed in a proper position over the marsh
or stream, propped and wedged securely, and the upper surface roughed
with the axe to make the footing more sure. In this way eight or ten
of these bridges were made in a few days, and the whole road put in
complete order. This work is done by order of the Commissario Geral at
São Fernando, without any kind of payment, or even rations, and with
the greatest cheerfulness and good humour.

The men of Javíta when at work wear only the “tanga,” in other respects
being entirely naked. The women wear usually a large wrapping dress
passing over the left shoulder but leaving the right arm perfectly
free, and hanging loosely over their whole person. On Sundays and
festivals they have well-made cotton gowns, and the men a shirt and
trowsers. Here exists the same custom as at São Carlos, of the girls
and boys assembling morning and evening at the church to sing a hymn
or psalm. The village is kept remarkably clean and free from weeds by
regular weekly hoeings and weedings, to which the people are called by
the Capitãos, who are the executive officers under the Commissario.

My evenings were very dull, having few to converse with, and no books.
Now and then I would talk a little with the Commissario, but our stock
of topics was soon exhausted. One or two evenings I went to their
festas, when they had made a quantity of “xirac”—the caxirí of the
Brazilian Indians—and were very merry. They had a number of peculiar
monotonous dances, accompanied by strange figures and contortions.
The young girls generally came neatly dressed, their glossy hair
beautifully plaited, and with gay ribbons or flowers to set it off. The
moment the xirac is finished the party breaks up, as they do not seem
to think it possible to dance without it: sometimes they make enough to
last two or three days. Their dances appear quite national, but they
have apparently left off paint, as I saw very little used.

The language spoken by these people is called the Maniva or Baniwa, but
it differs considerably from the Baniwa of the Rio Negro, and is not so
harsh and guttural. At Tomo and Maroa another language is spoken, quite
distinct from this, but still called the Baniwa; a little further down,
at São Carlos, the Barré is used; so that almost every village has
its language. Here the men and old women all speak Spanish tolerably,
there having formerly been priests living at the Convento, who
instructed them. The younger women and the boys and girls, not having
had this advantage, speak only the native tongue; but many of them can
understand a little Spanish. I found considerable difficulty in making
myself intelligible here. The white men, who are called “rationáles”
(rationals), could understand my mixed Portuguese and Spanish very
well, but the Indians, knowing but little Spanish themselves, cannot of
course comprehend any deviations from the ordinary method of speaking.
I found it necessary therefore to keep my Spanish by itself, as they
could better understand a little and good, than a great deal of
explanation in the mixed tongue.

Some of my dull and dreary evenings I occupied in writing a
description of the village and its inhabitants, in what may probably be
very dreary blank verse; but as it shows my ideas and thoughts at the
time, I may as well give it the reader in place of the more sober and
matter-of-fact view of the matter I should probably take now. I give it
as I wrote it, in a state of excited indignation against civilized life
in general, got up to relieve the monotony of my situation, and not
altogether as my views when writing in London in 1853.

                       A DESCRIPTION OF JAVITA.

    ’Tis where the streams divide, to swell the floods
    Of the two mighty rivers of our globe;
    Where gushing brooklets in their narrow beds
    Lie hid, o’ershadow’d by th’ eternal woods,
    And trickle onwards,—these to increase the wave
    Of turbid Orinooko; those, by a longer course
    In the Black River’s isle-strewn bed, flow down
    To mighty Amazon, the river-king,
    And, mingled with his all-engulfing stream,
    Go to do battle with proud Ocean’s self,
    And drive him back even from his own domain.
    There is an Indian village; all around,
    The dark, eternal, boundless forest spreads
    Its varied foliage. Stately palm-trees rise
    On every side, and numerous trees unknown
    Save by strange names uncouth to English ears.
    Here I dwelt awhile, the one white man
    Among perhaps two hundred living souls.
    They pass a peaceful and contented life,
    These black-hair’d, red-skinn’d, handsome, half-wild men.
    Directed by the sons of Old Castile,
    They keep their village and their houses clean;
    And on the eve before the Sabbath-day
    Assemble all at summons of a bell,
    To sweep within and all around their church,
    In which next morn they meet, all neatly dress’d,
    To pray as they’ve been taught unto their God.
    It was a pleasing sight, that Sabbath morn,
    Reminding me of distant, dear-loved home.
    On one side knelt the men, their simple dress
    A shirt and trowsers of coarse cotton cloth:
    On the other side were women and young girls,
    Their glossy tresses braided with much taste,
    And on their necks all wore a kerchief gay,
    And some a knot of riband in their hair.
    How like they look’d, save in their dusky skin,
    To a fair group of English village maids!
    Yet far superior in their graceful forms;
    For their free growth no straps or bands impede,
    But simple food, free air, and daily baths
    And exercise, give all that Nature asks
    To mould a beautiful and healthy frame.

      Each day some labour calls them.   Now they go
    To fell the forest’s pride, or in canoe,
    With hook, and spear, and arrow, to catch fish;
    Or seek the various products of the wood,
    To make their baskets or their hanging beds.
    The women dig the mandiocca root,
    And with much labour make of it their bread.
    These plant the young shoots in the fertile earth-
    Earth all untill’d, to which the plough, or spade,
    Or rake, or harrow, are alike unknown.
    The young girls carry water on their heads
    In well-formed pitchers, just like Cambrian maids;
    And all each morn and eve wash in the stream,
    And sport like mermaids in the sparkling wave.

      The village is laid out with taste and skill:
    In the midst a spacious square, where stands the church,
    And narrow streets diverging all around.
    Between the houses, filling up each space,
    The broad, green-leaved, luxuriant plantain grows,
    Bearing huge bunches of most wholesome fruit;
    The orange too is there, and grateful lime;
    The Inga pendent hangs its yard-long pods
    (Whose flowers attract the fairy humming-birds);
    The guava, and the juicy, sweet cashew,
    And a most graceful palm, which bears a fruit
    In bright red clusters, much esteem’d, for food;
    And there are many more which Indians
    Esteem, and which have only Indian names.
    The houses are of posts fill’d up with mud,
    Smooth’d, and wash’d over with a pure white clay;
    A palm-tree’s spreading leaves supply a thatch
    Impervious to the winter’s storms and rain.
    No nail secures the beams or rafters, all
    Is from the forest, whose lithe, pendent cords
    Binds them into a firm enduring mass.
    From the tough fibre of a fan-palm’s leaf
    They twist a cord to make their hammock-bed,
    Their bow-string, line, and net for catching fish.
    Their food is simple—fish and cassava-bread,
    With various fruits, and sometimes forest game,
    All season’d with hot, pungent, fiery peppers.
    Sauces and seasonings too, and drinks they have,
    Made from the mandiocca’s poisonous juice;
    And but one foreign luxury, which is salt.
    Salt here is money: daily they bring to me
    Cassava cakes, or fish, or ripe bananas,
    Or birds or insects, fowls or turtles’ eggs,
    And still they ask for salt. Two teacups-full
    Buy a large basket of cassava cakes,
    A great bunch of bananas, or a fowl.

      One day they made a festa, and, just like
    Our villagers at home, they drank much beer,
    (Beer made from roasted mandiocca cakes,)
    Call’d here “shirac,” by others “caxirí,”
    But just like beer in flavour and effect;
    And then they talked much, shouted and sang,
    And men and maids all danced in a ring
    With much delight, like children at their play.
    For music they’ve small drums and reed-made fifes,
    And vocal chants, monotonous and shrill,
    To which they’ll dance for hours without fatigue.
    The children of small growth are naked, and
    The boys and men wear but a narrow cloth.
    How I delight to see those naked boys!
    Their well-form’d limbs, their bright, smooth, red-brown skin,
    And every motion full of grace and health;
    And as they run, and race, and shout, and leap,
    Or swim and dive beneath the rapid stream,
    Or, all bareheaded in the noonday sun,
    Creep stealthily, with blowpipe or with bow,
    To shoot small birds or swiftly gliding fish,
    I pity English boys; their active limbs
    Cramp’d and confined in tightly-fitting clothes;
    Their toes distorted by the shoemaker,
    Their foreheads aching under heavy hats,
    And all their frame by luxury enervate.
    But how much more I pity English maids,
    Their waist, and chest, and bosom all confined
    By that vile torturing instrument called stays!

      And thus these people pass their simple lives.
    They are a peaceful race; few serious crimes
    Are known amongst them; they nor rob nor murder,
    And all the complicated villanies
    Of man called civilized are here unknown.
    Yet think not I would place, as some would do,
    The civilized below the savage man;
    Or wish that we could retrograde, and live
    As did our forefathers ere Cæsar came.
    ’Tis true the miseries, the wants and woes,
    The poverty, the crimes, the broken hearts,
    The intense mental agonies that lead
    Some men to self-destruction, some
    To end their days within a madhouse cell,
    The thousand curses that gold brings upon us,
    The long death-struggle for the means to live,—
    All these the savage knows and suffers not.
    But then the joys, the pleasures and delights,
    That the well-cultivated mind enjoys;
    The appreciation of the beautiful
    In nature and in art; the boundless range
    Of pleasure and of knowledge books afford;
    The constant change of incident and scene
    That makes us live a life in every year;—
    All these the savage knows not and enjoys not.
    Still we may ask, “Does stern necessity
    Compel that this great good must co-exist
    For ever with that monstrous mass of ill?
    Must millions suffer these dread miseries,
    While but a few enjoy the grateful fruits?”
    For are there not, confined in our dense towns,
    And scattered over our most fertile fields,
    Millions of men who live a lower life—
    Lower in physical and moral health—
    Than the Red Indian of these trackless wilds?
    Have we not thousands too who live a life
    More low, through eager longing after gold,—
    Whose thoughts, from morn to night, from night to morn,
    Are—how to get more gold?
    What know such men of intellectual joys?
    They’ve but one joy—the joy of getting gold.
    In nature’s wondrous charms they’ve no delight,
    The one thing beautiful for them is—gold.
    Thoughts of the great of old which books contain,
    The poet’s and the historian’s fervid page,
    Or all the wonders science brings to light,
    For them exist not. They’ve no time to spend
    In such amusements; “Time,” say they, “is gold.”
    And if they hear of some immortal deed,
    Some noble sacrifice of power or fortune
    To save a friend or spotless reputation,—
    A deed that moistens sympathetic eyes,
    And makes us proud we have such fellow-men,—
    They say, “Who make such sacrifice are fools,
    For what is life without one’s hard-earn’d gold?”
    Rather than live a man like one of these,
    I’d be an Indian here, and live content
    To fish, and hunt, and paddle my canoe,
    And see my children grow, like young wild fawns,
    In health of body and in peace of mind,
    Rich without wealth, and happy without gold!

  _Javita, March, 1851._ A. W.

I had gone on here in my regular routine some time, when one morning,
on getting up, I found none of the Indians, and no fire in the
verandah. Thinking they had gone out early to hunt or fish, as they
sometimes did, I lit the fire and got my breakfast, but still no sign
of any of them. Looking about, I found that their hammocks, knives, an
earthen pan, and a few other articles, were all gone, and that nothing
was left in the house but what was my own. I was now convinced that
they had run away in the night, and left me to get on as I could. They
had been rather uneasy for some days past, asking me when I meant to
go back. They did not like being among people whose language they
could not speak, and had been lately using up an enormous quantity of
farinha, hoping when they had finished the last basket that I should
be unable to purchase any more in the village, and should therefore be
obliged to return. The day before I had just bought a fresh basket, and
the sight of that appears to have supplied the last stimulus necessary
to decide the question, and make them fly from the strange land and
still stranger white man, who spent all his time in catching insects,
and wasting good caxaça by putting fish and snakes into it. However
there was now nothing to be done, so I took my insect-net, locked up
my house, put the key (an Indian-made wooden one) in my pocket, and
started off for the forest.

I had luckily, a short time before, bought a fine Venezuelan cheese and
some dried beef, so that, with plenty of cassava-bread and plantains, I
could get on very well. In the evening some of my usual visitors among
the Indians dropped in, and were rather surprised to see me lighting my
fire and preparing my dinner; and on my explaining the circumstances to
them, they exclaimed that my Indians were “mala gente” (bad fellows),
and intimated that they had always thought them no better than they
should be. I got some of the boys to fetch me water from the river,
and to bring me in a stock of fuel, and then, with coffee and cheese,
roasted plantains and cassava-bread, I lived luxuriously. My coffee
however was just finished, and in a day or two I had none. This I could
hardly put up with without a struggle, so I went down to the cottage of
an old Indian who could speak a little Spanish, and begged him, “por
amor de Dios,” to get me some coffee from a small plantation he had.
There were some ripe berries on the trees, the sun was shining out, and
he promised to set his little girl to work immediately. This was about
ten in the morning. I went into the forest, and by four returned, and
found that my coffee was ready. It had been gathered, the pulp washed
off, dried in the sun (the longest part of the business), husked,
roasted, and pounded in a mortar; and in half an hour more I enjoyed
one of the most delicious cups of coffee I have ever tasted.

As I wanted to remain a fortnight longer, I tried to persuade one of
the brown damsels of the village to come and make my fire and cook for
me; but, strange to say, not one would venture, though in the other
villages of the Rio Negro I might at any moment have had my choice of
half-a-dozen; and I was forced to be my own cook and housemaid for the
rest of my stay in Javíta.

There was now in the village an old Indian trader who had come from
Medina, a town at the foot of the Andes, near Bogotá, and from him and
some other Indians I obtained much information relative to that part
of the country, and the character of the streams that flow from the
mountains down to the Orinooko. He informed me that he had ascended by
the river Muco, which enters the Orinooko above the Falls of Maypures,
and by which he had reached a point within twenty miles of the upper
waters of the Meta, opposite Medina. The river Muco had no falls or
obstructions to navigation, and all the upper part of its course flowed
through an open country, and had fine sandy beaches; so that between
this river and the Guaviare is the termination of the great forest of
the Amazon valley.

The weather was now terribly wet. For successive days and nights rain
was incessant, and a few hours of sunshine was a rarity. Insects were
few, and those I procured it was almost impossible to dry. In the
drying box they got destroyed by mould, and if placed in the open air
and exposed to the sun minute flies laid eggs upon them, and they were
soon eaten up by maggots. The only way I could preserve them was to
hang them up some time every evening and morning over my fire. I now
began to regret more than ever my loss of the fine season, as I was
convinced that I could have reaped a splendid harvest. I had, too, just
began to initiate the Indian boys into catching beetles for me, and was
accumulating a very nice collection. Every evening three or four would
come in with their treasures in pieces of bamboo, or carefully tied
up in leaves. I purchased all they brought, giving a fish-hook each;
and among many common I generally found some curious and rare species.
_Coleoptera_, generally so scarce in the forest districts of the Amazon
and Rio Negro, seemed here to become more abundant, owing perhaps to
our approach to the margins of the great forest, and the plains of the

I prepared to leave Javíta with much regret. Although, considering
the season, I had done well, I knew that had I been earlier I might
have done much better. In April I had arranged to go up the unexplored
Uaupés with Senhor L., and even the prospect of his conversation was
agreeable after the weary solitude I was exposed to here.

I would however strongly recommend Javíta to any naturalist wishing for
a good unexplored locality in South America. It is easily reached from
the West Indies to Angostura, and thence up the Orinooko and Atabápo. A
pound’s worth of fish-hooks, and five pounds laid out in salt, beads,
and calico, will pay all expenses there for six months. The traveller
should arrive in September, and can then stay till March, and will have
the full benefit of the whole of the dry season. The insects alone
would well repay any one; the fishes are also abundant, and very new
and interesting; and, as my collections were lost on the voyage home,
they would have all the advantage of novelty.

On the 31st of March I left Javíta, the Commissario having sent five or
six Indians to carry my luggage, four of whom were to proceed with me
to Tomo. The Indians of São Carlos, Tomo, and Maroa had been repairing
their part of the road, and were returning home, so some of them agreed
to go with me in the place of the Javitanos. They had found in the
forest a number of the harlequin beetles (_Acrocinus longimanus_),
which they offered me, carefully wrapped up in leaves; I bought five
for a few fish-hooks each. On arriving at Pimichin the little river
presented a very different appearance from what it had when I last saw
it. It was now brim-full, and the water almost reached up to our shed,
which had before been forty yards off, up a steep rocky bank. Before
my men ran away I had sent two of them to Tomo to bring my canoe to
Pimichin, the river having risen enough to allow it to come up, and I
now found it here. They had taken a canoe belonging to Antonio Dias,
who had passed Javíta a few days before on his way to São Fernando, so
that when he returned he had to borrow another to go home in.

We descended the little river rapidly, and now saw the extraordinary
number of bends in it. I took the bearings of thirty with the compass,
but then there came on a tremendous storm of wind and rain right in
our faces, which rendered it quite impossible to see ahead. Before
this had cleared off night came on, so that the remainder of the bends
and doubles of the Pimichin river must still remain in obscurity. The
country it flows through appears to be a flat sandy tract, covered with
a low scrubby vegetation, very like that of the river Cobáti, up which
I ascended to the Serra to obtain the cocks of the rock.

It was night when we reached Maróa, and we were nearly passing the
village without seeing it. We went to the “casa de nação,” rather
a better kind of shed than usual, and, making a good fire, passed a
comfortable night. The next morning I called on Senhor Carlos Bueno
(Charles Good), the dandy Indian Commissario, and did a little business
with him. I bought a lot of Indian baskets, gravatánas, quivers, and
ururí or curarí poison, and in return gave him some fish-hooks and
calico, and, having breakfasted with him, went on to Tomo.

Senhor Antonio Dias was not there, having gone to São Carlos, so I
determined to wait a few days for his return, as he had promised to
send men with me to Guia. I took up my abode with Senhor Domingos,
who was busy superintending the completion of the large vessel before
mentioned, in order to get it launched with the high water, which was
now within a foot or two of its bottom. I amused myself walking about
the campo with my gun, and succeeded in shooting one of the beautiful
little black-headed parrots, which have the most brilliant green
plumage, crimson under-wings, and yellow cheeks; they are only found in
these districts, and are rather difficult to obtain. I also got some
curious fish to figure,—in particular two large species of _Gymnotus_,
of the group which are not electric.

The Indians had a festa while I was here. They made abundance of
“shirac,” and kept up their dancing for thirty hours. The principal
peculiarity of it was that they mixed up their civilized dress and
their Indian decorations in a most extraordinary manner. They all
wore clean trousers and white or striped shirts; but they had also
feather-plumes, bead necklaces, and painted faces, which made
altogether a rather queer mixture. They also carried their hammocks
like scarfs over their shoulders, and had generally hollow cylinders
in their hands, used to beat upon the ground in time to the dancing.
Others had lances, bows, and wands, ornamented with feathers, producing
as they danced in the moonlight a singular and wild appearance.

Senhor Antonio Dias delayed his return, and rather a scene in his
domestic circle took place in consequence. As might be expected, the
ladies did not agree very well together. The elder one in particular
was very jealous of the Indian girls, and took every opportunity of
ill-treating them, and now that the master was absent went, I suppose,
to greater lengths than usual; and the consequence was, one of the
girls ran away. This was an unexpected _dénouement_, and they were in a
great state of alarm, for the girl was a particular favourite of Senhor
Antonio’s, and if he returned before she came back he was not likely
to be very delicate in showing his displeasure. The girl had gone off
in a canoe with a child about a year old; the night had been stormy
and wet, but that sort of thing will not stop an Indian. Messengers
were sent after her, but she was not to be found; and then the old lady
and her daughter went off themselves in a tremendous rain, but with no
better success. One resource more however remained, and they resolved
to apply to the Saints. Senhor Domingos was sent to bring the image of
St. Antonio from the church. This saint is supposed to have especial
power over things lost, but the manner of securing his influence is
rather singular:—the poor saint is tied round tightly with a cord and
laid on his back on the floor, and it is believed that in order to
obtain deliverance from such durance vile he will cause the lost sheep
to return. Thus was the unfortunate St. Antony of Tomo now treated, and
laid ignominiously on the earthen floor all night, but without effect;
he was obstinate, and nothing was heard of the wanderer. More inquiries
were made, but with no result, till two days afterwards Senhor Antonio
himself returned accompanied by the girl. She had hid herself in a
sitio a short distance from the village, waited for Senhor Antonio’s
passing, and then joined him, and told her own story first; and so the
remainder of the harem got some hard words, and I am inclined to think
some hard blows too.

Before leaving Tomo, I purchased a pair of the beautiful feather-work
borders, before alluded to, for which I paid £3 in silver dollars. Five
Indians were procured to go with me, and at the same time take another
small canoe, in which to bring back several articles that Senhor
Antonio was much in want of. We paid the men between us, before going,
with calicoes and cotton cloth, worth in England about twopence a yard,
but here valued at 2_s._ 6_d._, and soap, beads, knives, and axes, in
the same proportion. On the way, I got these Tomo Indians to give me a
vocabulary of their language, which differs from that of the villages
above and below them. We paddled by day, and floated down by night; and
as the current was now tremendous, we got on so quickly, that in three
days we reached Marabitanas, a distance which had taken us nine in
going up.

Here I stayed a week with the Commandante, who had invited me when at
Guia. I however did little in the collecting way: there were no paths
in the forest, and no insects, and very few birds worth shooting. I
obtained some very curious half-spiny rodent animals, and a pretty
white-marked bird, allied to the starlings, which appears here only
once a year in flocks, and is called “Ciucí uera” (the star-bird).

The inhabitants of Marabitanas are celebrated for their festas: their
lives are spent, half at their festas, and the other half in preparing
for them. They consume immense quantities of raw spirit, distilled from
cane-juice and from the mandiocca: at a festa which took place while
I was here, there was about a hogshead of strong spirit consumed, all
drunk raw. In every house, where the dancing takes place, there are
three or four persons constantly going round with a bottle and glass,
and no one is expected ever to refuse; they keep on the whole night,
and the moment you have tasted one glass, another succeeds, and you
must at least take a sip of it. The Indians empty the glass every time;
and this continues for two or three days. When all is finished, the
inhabitants return to their sitios, and commence the preparation of a
fresh lot of spirit for the next occasion.

About a fortnight before each festa—which is always on a Saint’s day of
the Roman Catholic Church—a party of ten or a dozen of the inhabitants
go round, in a canoe, to all the sitios and Indian villages within
fifty or a hundred miles, carrying the image of the saint, flags, and
music. They are entertained at every house, the saint is kissed, and
presents are made for the feast: one gives a fowl, another some eggs
or a bunch of plantains, another a few coppers. The live animals are
frequently promised beforehand for a particular saint; and often, when
I have wanted to buy some provisions, I have been assured that “that is
St. John’s pig,” or that “those fowls belong to the Holy Ghost.”

Bidding adieu to the Commandante, Senhor Tenente Antonio Filisberto
Correio de Araujo, who had treated me with the greatest kindness and
hospitality, I proceeded on to Guia, where I arrived about the end of
April, hoping to find Senhor L. ready, soon to start for the river
Uaupés; but I was again doomed to delay, for a canoe which had been
sent to Barra had not yet returned, and we could not start till it
came. It was now due, but as there were Indians only with it, who had
no particular interest in hurrying back, it might very well be a month
longer. And so it proved, for it did not arrive till the end of May.
All that time I could do but little; the season was very wet, and Guia
was a poor locality. Fishes were my principal resource, as Senhor L.
had a fisherman out every day, to procure us our suppers, and I always
had the day’s sport brought to me first, to select any species I had
not yet seen. In this way I constantly got new kinds, and became more
than ever impressed with the extraordinary variety and abundance of
the inhabitants of these rivers. I had now figured and described a
hundred and sixty species from the Rio Negro alone; I had besides seen
many others; and fresh varieties still occurred as abundantly as ever
in every new locality. I am convinced that the number of species in
the Rio Negro and its tributaries alone would be found to amount to
five or six hundred. But the Amazon has most of its fishes peculiar to
itself, and so have all its numerous tributaries, especially in their
upper waters; so that the number of distinct kinds inhabiting the whole
basin of the Amazon must be immense.

                              CHAPTER X.


  Rapid Current—An Indian Malocca—The Inmates—A Festival—Paint
    and Ornaments—Illness—São Jeronymo—Passing the
    Cataracts—Jauarité—The Tushaúa Calistro—Singular
    Palm—Birds—Cheap Provisions—Edible Ants, and Earthworms—A
    grand dance—Feather ornaments—The snake-dance—The Capí—A State
    cigar—Ananárapicóma—Fish—Chegoes—Pass down the Falls—Tame
    Birds—Orchids—Piums—Eating dirt—Poisoning—Return to Guia—Manoel
    Joaquim—Annoying delays.

At length the long looked-for canoe arrived, and we immediately made
preparations for our voyage. Fish-hooks and knives and beads were
looked out to suit the customers we were going among, and from whom
Senhor L. hoped to obtain farinha and salsaparilha: and I, fish,
insects, birds, and all sorts of bows, arrows, blowpipes, baskets, and
other Indian curiosities.

On the 3rd of June, at six in the morning, we started. The weather had
cleared up a few days before, and was now very fine. We had only two
Indians with us, the same who had run away from Javíta, and who had
been paid their wages beforehand, so we now made them work it out.
Those who had just returned from Barra, were not willing to go out
again immediately, but we hoped to get plenty on entering the Uaupés.
The same afternoon, we reached São Joaquim, at the mouth of that river;
but as there were no men there, we were obliged to go on, and then
commenced our real difficulties, for we had to encounter the powerful
current of the overflowing stream. At first some bays, in which there
were counter-currents, favoured us; but in more exposed parts, the
waters rushed along with such violence, that our two paddles could not
possibly move the canoe.

We could only get on by pulling the bushes and creepers and
tree-branches which line the margin of the river, now that almost all
the adjacent lands were more or less flooded. The next day we cut long
hooked poles, by which we could pull and push ourselves along at all
difficult points, with more advantage. Sometimes, for miles together,
we had to proceed thus,—getting the canoe filled, and ourselves
covered, with stinging and biting ants of fifty different species,
each producing its own peculiar effect, from a gentle tickle to an
acute sting; and which, getting entangled in our hair and beards, and
creeping over all parts of our bodies under our clothes, were not the
most agreeable companions. Sometimes, too, we would encounter swarms
of wasps, whose nests were concealed among the leaves, and who always
make a most furious attack upon intruders. The naked bodies of the
Indians offered no defence against their stings, and they several
times suffered while we escaped. Nor are these the only inconveniences
attending an up-stream voyage in the time of high flood, for all the
river-banks being overflowed, it is only at some rocky point which
still keeps above water that a fire can be made; and as these are few
and far between, we frequently had to pass the whole day on farinha and
water, with a piece of cold fish or a pacova, if we were so lucky as to
have any. All these points, or sleeping places, are well known to the
traders in the river, so that whenever we reached one, at whatever hour
of the day or night, we stopped to make our coffee and rest a little,
knowing that we should only get to another haven after eight or ten
hours of hard pulling and paddling.

On the second day we found a small “Sucurujú” (_Eunectes murinus_),
about a yard long, sunning itself on a bush over the water; one of our
Indians shot it with an arrow, and when we staid for the night roasted
it for supper. I tasted a piece, and found it excessively tough and
glutinous, but without any disagreeable flavour; and well stewed, it
would, I have no doubt, be very good. Having stopped at a sitio we
purchased a fowl, which, boiled with rice, made us an excellent supper.

On the 7th we entered a narrow winding channel, branching from the
north bank of the river, and in about an hour reached a “malocca,” or
native Indian lodge, the first we had encountered. It was a large,
substantial building, near a hundred feet long, by about forty wide
and thirty high, very strongly constructed of round, smooth, barked
timbers, and thatched with the fan-shaped leaves of the Caraná palm.
One end was square, with a gable, the other circular; and the eaves,
hanging over the low walls, reached nearly to the ground. In the
middle was a broad aisle, formed by the two rows of the principal
columns supporting the roof, and between these and the sides were other
rows of smaller and shorter timbers; the whole of them were firmly
connected by longitudinal and transverse beams at the top, supporting
the rafters, and were all bound together with much symmetry by sipós.

Projecting inwards from the walls on each side were short partitions of
palm-thatch, exactly similar in arrangement to the boxes in a London
eating-house, or those of a theatre. Each of these is the private
apartment of a separate family, who thus live in a sort of patriarchal
community. In the side aisles are the farinha ovens, tipitís for
squeezing the mandiocca, huge pans and earthen vessels for making
caxirí, and other large articles, which appear to be in common; while
in every separate apartment are the small pans, stools, baskets, redes,
water-pots, weapons, and ornaments of the occupants. The centre aisle
remains unoccupied, and forms a fine walk through the house. At the
circular end is a cross partition or railing about five feet high,
cutting off rather more than the semicircle, but with a wide opening
in the centre: this forms the residence of the chief or head of the
malocca, with his wives and children; the more distant relations
residing in the other part of the house. The door at the gable end is
very wide and lofty, that at the circular end is smaller, and these are
the only apertures to admit light and air. The upper part of the gable
is loosely covered with palm-leaves hung vertically, through which the
smoke of the numerous wood fires slowly percolates, giving however in
its passage a jetty lustre to the whole of the upper part of the roof.

On entering this house, I was delighted to find myself at length in the
presence of the true denizens of the forest. An old and a young man and
two women were the only occupiers, the rest being out on their various
pursuits. The women were absolutely naked; but on the entrance of the
“brancos” they slipped on a petticoat, with which, in these lower parts
of the river, they are generally provided, but never use except on such
occasions. Their hair was but moderately long, and they were without
any ornament but strongly knitted garters, tightly laced immediately
below the knee.

It was the men however who presented the most novel appearance, as
different from all the half-civilized races among whom I had been so
long living, as they could be if I had been suddenly transported to
another quarter of the globe. Their hair was carefully parted in the
middle, combed behind the ears, and tied behind in a long tail reaching
a yard down the back. The hair of this tail was firmly bound with a
long cord formed of monkeys’ hair, very soft and pliable. On the top
of the head was stuck a comb, ingeniously constructed of palm-wood
and grass, and ornamented with little tufts of toucans’ rump feathers
at each end; and the ears were pierced, and a small piece of straw
stuck in the hole; altogether giving a most feminine appearance to the
face, increased by the total absence of beard or whiskers, and by the
hair of the eyebrows being almost entirely plucked out. A small strip
of “tururí” (the inner bark of a tree) passed between the legs, and
secured to a string round the waist, with a pair of knitted garters,
constituted their simple dress.

The young man was lazily swinging in a maqueira, but disappeared soon
after we entered; the elder one was engaged making one of the flat
hollow baskets, a manufacture peculiar to this district. He continued
quietly at his occupation, answering the questions Senhor L. put to him
about the rest of the inhabitants in a very imperfect “Lingoa Geral,”
which language is comparatively little known in this river, and that
only in the lower and more frequented parts. As we wanted to procure
one or two men to go with us, we determined to stay here for the night.
We succeeded in purchasing for a few fish-hooks some fresh fish, which
another Indian brought in; and then prepared our dinner and coffee,
and brought our maqueiras up to the house, hanging them in the middle
aisle, to pass the night there. About dusk many more Indians, male
and female, arrived; fires were lighted in the several compartments,
pots put on with fish or game for supper, and fresh mandiocca cakes
made. I now saw several of the men with their most peculiar and valued
ornament—a cylindrical, opaque, white stone, looking like marble, but
which is really quartz imperfectly crystallized. These stones are
from four to eight inches long, and about an inch in diameter. They
are ground round, and flat at the ends, a work of great labour, and
are each pierced with a hole at one end, through which a string is
inserted, to suspend it round the neck. It appears almost incredible
that they should make this hole in so hard a substance without any iron
instrument for the purpose. What they are said to use is the pointed
flexible leaf-shoot of the large wild plantain, triturating with fine
sand and a little water; and I have no doubt it is, as it is said to
be, a labour of years. Yet it must take a much longer time to pierce
that which the Tushaúa wears as the symbol of his authority, for it
is generally of the largest size, and is worn transversely across the
breast, for which purpose the hole is bored lengthways from one end to
the other, an operation which I was informed sometimes occupies two
lives. The stones themselves are procured from a great distance up the
river, probably from near its sources at the base of the Andes; they
are therefore highly valued, and it is seldom the owners can be induced
to part with them, the chiefs scarcely ever. I here purchased a club
of hard red wood for a small mirror, a comb for half-a-dozen small
fish-hooks, and some other trifling articles.

A portion only of the inhabitants arrived that night, as when traders
come they are afraid of being compelled to go with them, and so hide
themselves. Many of the worst characters in the Rio Negro come to trade
in this river, force the Indians, by threats of shooting them, into
their canoes, and sometimes even do not scruple to carry their threats
into execution, they being here quite out of reach of even that minute
portion of the law which still struggles for existence in the Rio Negro.

We passed the night in the malocca, surrounded by the naked Indians
hanging round their fires, which sent a fitful light up into the dark
smoke-filled roof. A torrent of rain poured without, and I could not
help admiring the degree of sociality and comfort in numerous families
thus living together in patriarchal harmony. The next morning Senhor
L. succeeded in persuading one Indian to earn a “saía” (petticoat) for
his wife, and embark with us, and so we bade adieu to Assaí Paraná
(Assaí river). On lifting up the mat covering of our canoe, I found
lying comfortably coiled up on the top of my box a fine young boa,
of a species of which I possessed two live specimens at Guía: he had
probably fallen in unperceived during our passage among the bushes
on the river-side. In the afternoon we reached another village,
also situated up a narrow igaripé, and consisting of a house and
two maloccas at some distance from it. The inhabitants had gone to
a neighbouring village, where there was caxirí and dancing, and two
women only were left behind with some children. About these houses were
several parrots, macaws, and curassow-birds, which all these Indians
breed in great numbers. The next day we reached Ananárapicóma, or
“Pine-apple Point,” the village where the dance was taking place. It
consisted of several small houses besides the large malocca, many of
the Indians who have been with traders to the Rio Negro imitating them
in using separate dwellings.

On entering the great malocca a most extraordinary and novel scene
presented itself. Some two hundred men, women, and children were
scattered about the house, lying in the maqueiras, squatting on the
ground, or sitting on the small painted stools, which are made only by
the inhabitants of this river. Almost all were naked and painted, and
wearing their various feathers and other ornaments. Some were walking
or conversing, and others were dancing, or playing small fifes and
whistles. The regular festa had been broken up that morning; the chiefs
and principal men had put off their feather head-dresses, but as caxirí
still remained, the young men and women continued dancing. They were
painted over their whole bodies in regular patterns of a diamond or
diagonal character, with black, red, and yellow colours; the former,
a purple or blue black, predominating. The face was ornamented in
various styles, generally with bright red in bold stripes or spots, a
large quantity of the colour being applied to each ear, and running
down on the sides of the cheeks and neck, producing a very fearful and
sanguinary appearance. The grass in the ears was now decorated with a
little tuft of white downy feathers, and some in addition had three
little strings of beads from a hole pierced in the lower lip. All wore
the garters, which were now generally painted yellow. Most of the young
women who danced had besides a small apron of beads of about eight
inches by six inches, arranged in diagonal patterns with much taste;
besides this, the paint on their naked bodies was their only ornament;
they had not even the comb in their hair, which the men are never

The men and boys appropriated all the ornaments, thus reversing the
custom of civilized countries and imitating nature, who invariably
decorates the male sex with the most brilliant colours and most
remarkable ornaments. On the head all wore a coronet of bright red and
yellow toucans’ feathers, set in a circlet of plaited straw. The comb
in the hair was ornamented with feathers, and frequently a bunch of
white heron’s plumes attached to it fell gracefully down the back.
Round the neck or over one shoulder were large necklaces of many folds
of white or red beads, as well as the white cylindrical stone hung on
the middle of a string of some black shining seeds.

The ends of the monkey-hair cords which tied the hair were ornamented
with little plumes, and from the arm hung a bunch of curiously-shaped
seeds, ornamented with bright coloured feathers attached by strings of
monkeys’ hair. Round the waist was one of their most valued ornaments,
possessed by comparatively few,—the girdle of onças’ teeth. And lastly,
tied round the ankles were large bunches of a curious hard fruit, which
produce a rattling sound in the dance. In their hands some carried
a bow and a bundle of curabís, or war-arrows; others a murucú, or
spear of hard polished wood, or an oval painted gourd, filled with
small stones and attached to a handle, which, being shaken at regular
intervals in the dance, produced a rattling accompaniment to the leg
ornaments and the song.

The wild and strange appearance of these handsome, naked, painted
Indians, with their curious ornaments and weapons, the stamp and song
and rattle which accompanies the dance, the hum of conversation in a
strange language, the music of fifes and flutes and other instruments
of reed, bone, and turtles’ shells, the large calabashes of caxirí
constantly carried about, and the great smoke-blackened gloomy house,
produced an effect to which no description can do justice, and of which
the sight of half-a-dozen Indians going through their dances for show,
gives but a very faint idea.

I staid looking on a considerable time, highly delighted at such
an opportunity of seeing these interesting people in their most
characteristic festivals. I was myself a great object of admiration,
principally on account of my spectacles, which they saw for the first
time and could not at all understand. A hundred bright pairs of eyes
were continually directed on me from all sides, and I was doubtless
the great subject of conversation. An old man brought me three ripe
pine-apples, for which I gave him half-a-dozen small hooks, and he was
very well contented.

Senhor L. was conversing with many of the Indians, with whom he was
well acquainted, and was arranging with one to go up a branch of the
river, several days’ journey, to purchase some salsa and farinha for
him. I succeeded in buying a beautiful ornamented murucú, the principal
insignia of the Tushaúa, or chief. He was very loth to part with it,
and I had to give an axe and a large knife, of which he was much in
want. I also bought two cigar-holders, about two feet long, in which a
gigantic cigar is placed and handed round on these occasions. The next
morning, after making our payments for the articles we had purchased,
we went to bid our adieus to the chief. A small company who had come
from some distance were taking their leave at the same time, going
round the great house in Indian file, and speaking in a muttering tone
to each head of a family. First came the old men bearing lances and
shields of strong wicker-work, then the younger ones with their bows
and arrows, and lastly the old and young women carrying their infants
and the few household utensils they had brought with them. At these
festivals drink alone is provided, in immense quantities, each party
bringing a little mandiocca-cake or fish for his consumption, which,
while the caxirí lasts, is very little. The paint on their bodies is
very durable, for though they never miss washing two or three times
a-day, it lasts a week or a fortnight before it quite disappears.

Leaving Ananárapicóma, we arrived the same evening at Mandii Paraná,
where there was also a malocca, which, owing to the great rise of the
river, could only be reached by wading up to the middle through the
flooded forest. I accordingly staid to superintend the making of a
fire, which the soaking rain we had had all the afternoon rendered
a somewhat difficult matter, while Senhor L. went with an Indian to
the house to arrange some “negocio” and obtain fish for supper. We
staid here for the night, and the next morning the Indians came down
in a body to the canoe, and made some purchases of fish-hooks, beads,
mirrors, cloth for trowsers, etc., of Senhor L., to be paid in farinha,
fowls, and other articles on our return. I also ordered a small canoe
as a specimen, and some sieves and fire-fanners, which I paid for in
similar trifles; for these Indians are so accustomed to receive payment
beforehand, that without doing so you cannot depend upon their making
anything. The next day, the 12th of June, we reached São Jeronymo,
situated about a mile below the first and most dangerous of the Falls
of the Uaupés.

For the last five days I had been very ill with dysentery and continual
pains in the stomach, brought on, I believe, by eating rather
incautiously of the fat and delicious fish, the white Pirahiba or
Laulau, three or four times consecutively without vegetable food. Here
the symptoms became rather aggravated, and though not at all inclined
to despond in sickness, yet as I knew this disease to be a very fatal
one in tropical climates, and I had no medicines or even proper food of
any kind, I certainly did begin to be a little alarmed. The worst of
it was that I was continually hungry, but could not eat or drink the
smallest possible quantity of anything without pains of the stomach and
bowels immediately succeeding, which lasted several hours. The diarrhœa
too was continual, with evacuations of slime and blood, which my diet
of the last few days, of tapioca-gruel and coffee, seemed rather to
have increased.

I remained here most of the day in my maqueira, but in the afternoon
some fish were brought in, and finding among them a couple of new
species, I set to work figuring them, determined to let no opportunity
pass of increasing my collections. This village has no malocca, but a
number of small houses; having been founded by the Portuguese before
the Independence. It is pleasantly situated on the sloping bank of the
river, which is about half a mile wide, with rather high land opposite,
and a view up to the narrow channel, where the waters are bounding and
foaming and leaping high in the air with the violence of the fall, or
more properly rapid.

There was a young Brazilian “negociante” and his wife residing in this
village, and as he was also about ascending the river to fetch farinha,
we agreed to go together. The next morning we accordingly started,
proceeding along the shore to near the fall, where we crossed among
boiling foam and whirling eddies, and entered into a small igaripé,
where the canoe was entirely unloaded, all the cargo carried along a
rugged path through the forest, and the canoe taken round a projecting
point, where the violence of the current and the heaving waves of the
fall render it impossible for anything but a small empty obá to pass,
and even that with great difficulty.

The path terminated at a narrow channel, through which a part of the
river in the wet season flows, but which in the summer is completely
dry. Were it not for this stream, the passage of the rapids in the wet
season would be quite impossible; for though the actual fall of the
water is trifling, its violence is inconceivable. The average width
of the river may be stated at near three times that of the Thames at
London; and it is in the wet season very deep and rapid. At the fall
it is enclosed in a narrow sloping rocky gorge, about the width of
the middle arch of London Bridge, or even less. I need say no more to
prove the impossibility of ascending such a channel. There are immense
whirlpools which engulf large canoes. The waters roll like ocean waves,
and leap up at intervals, forty or fifty feet into the air, as if great
subaqueous explosions were taking place.

Presently the Indians appeared with our canoe, and, assisted by a dozen
more who came to help us, pulled it up through the shallows, where
the water was less violent. Then came another difficult point; and we
plunged again into the forest with half the Indians carrying our cargo,
while the remainder went with the canoe. There were several other
dangerous places, and two more disembarkations and land carriages, the
last for a considerable distance. Above the main fall the river is
suddenly widened out into a kind of a lake, filled with rocky islands,
among which are a confusion of minor falls and rapids. However, having
plenty of Indians to assist us, we passed all these dangers by a little
after midday, and reached a malocca, where we staid for the afternoon
repairing the wear and tear of the palm-mats and toldas, and cleaning
our canoe and arranging our cargo, ready to start the next morning.

In two days more we reached another village, called Jukeíra Picóma,
or Salt Point, where we staid a day. I was well satisfied to find
myself here considerably better, owing, I believe, to my having tried
fasting as a last resource: for two days I had only taken a little
farinha gruel once in the twenty-four hours. In a day and a half from
Jukeíra we reached Jauarité, a village situated just below the caxoeira
of the same name, the second great rapid on the Uaupés. Here we had
determined to stay some days and then return, as the caxoeira is very
dangerous to pass, and above it the river, for many days’ journey, is
a succession of rapids and strong currents, which render the voyage
up at this season in the highest degree tedious and disagreeable. We
accordingly disembarked our cargo into a house, or rather shed, near
the shore, made for the accommodation of traders, which we cleaned
and took possession of, and felt ourselves quite comfortable after
the annoyances we had been exposed to in reaching this place. We then
walked up to the malocca, to pay a visit to the Tushaúa. This house
was a noble building of its kind, being one hundred and fifteen feet
long, seventy-five wide, and about twenty-five feet high, the roof and
upper timbers being black as jet with the smokes of many years. There
were besides about a dozen private cottages, forming a small village.
Scattered around were immense numbers of the Pupunha Palm (_Guilielma
speciosa_), the fruit of which forms an important part of the food of
these people during the season; it was now just beginning to ripen. The
Tushaúa was rather a respectable-looking man, the possessor of a pair
of trowsers and a shirt, which he puts on in honour of white visitors.
Senhor L. however says he is one of the greatest rogues on the river,
and will not trust him, as he does most of the other Indians, with
goods beforehand. He rejoices in the name of Galistro, and pleased me
much by his benevolent countenance and quiet dignified manner. He is
said to be the possessor of great riches in the way of onças’ teeth
and feathers, the result of his wars upon the Macús and other tribes
of the tributary rivers; but these he will not show to the whites, for
fear of being made to sell them. Behind the malocca I was pleased to
see a fine broad path, leading into the forest to the several mandiocca
rhossas. The next morning early I went with my net to explore it, and
found it promise pretty well for insects, considering the season. I was
greatly delighted at meeting in it the lovely clear-winged butterfly
allied to the _Esmeralda_, that I had taken so sparingly at Javíta; and
I also took a specimen of another of the same genus, quite new to me. A
plain-coloured _Acræa_, that I had first met with at Jukeíra, was here
also very abundant.

In a hollow near a small stream that crossed the path I found growing
the singular palm called “Paxiúba barriguda” (the big-bellied
paxiuba). It is a fine, tall, rather slender tree, with a head of
very elegant curled leaves. At the base of the stem is a conical mass
of air-roots, five or six feet high, more or less developed in all
the species of this genus. But the peculiar character from which it
derives its name is, that the stem at rather more than half-way up
swells suddenly out to double its former thickness or more, and after
a short distance again contracts, and continues cylindrical to the
top. It is only by seeing great numbers of these trees, all with this
character more or less palpable, that one can believe it is not an
accidental circumstance in the individual tree, instead of being truly
characteristic of the species. It is the _Iriartea ventricosa_ of

I tried here to procure some hunters and fishermen, but was not very
successful. I had a few fish brought me, and now and then a bird. A
curious bird, called anambé, was flying in flocks about the pupunha
palms, and after much trouble I succeeded in shooting one, and it
proved, as I had anticipated, quite different from the _Gymnoderus
nudicollis_, which is a species much resembling it in its flight, and
common in all the Rio Negro. I went after them several times, but
could not succeed in shooting another; for though they take but short
flights, they remain at rest scarcely an instant. About the houses here
were several trumpeters, curassow-birds, and those beautiful parrots,
the anacás (_Derotypus accipitrinus_), which all wander and fly about
at perfect liberty, but being bred from the nest, always return to be
fed. The Uaupés Indians take much delight, and are very successful, in
breeding birds and animals of all kinds.

We staid here a week, and I went daily into the forest when the weather
was not very wet, and generally obtained something interesting. I
frequently met parties of women and boys, going to and returning from
the rhossas. Sometimes they would run into the thicket till I had
passed; at other times they would merely stand on one side of the path,
with a kind of bashful fear at encountering a white man while in that
state of complete nudity, which they know is strange to us. When about
the houses in the village however, or coming to fill their water-pots
or bathe in the river close to our habitation, they were quite
unembarrassed, being, like Eve, “naked and not ashamed.” Though some
were too fat, most of them had splendid figures, and many of them were
very pretty. Before daylight in the morning all were astir, and came
to the river to wash. It is the chilliest hour of the twenty-four, and
when we were wrapping our sheet or blanket more closely around us, we
could hear the plunges and splashings of these early bathers. Rain or
wind is all alike to them: their morning bath is never dispensed with.

Fish were here very scarce, and we were obliged to live almost entirely
on fowls, which, though very nice when well roasted and with the
accompaniment of ham and gravy, are rather tasteless simply boiled or
stewed, with no variation in the cookery, and without vegetables. I
had now got so thoroughly into the life of this part of the country,
that, like everybody else here, I preferred fish to every other
article of food. One never tires of it; and I must again repeat that
I believe there are fish here superior to any in the world. Our fowls
cost us about a penny each, paid in fish-hooks or salt, so that they
are not such expensive food as they would be at home. In fact, if a
person buys his hooks, salt, and other things in Pará, where they are
about half the price they are in Barra, the price of a fowl will not
exceed a halfpenny; and fish, pacovas, and other eatables that the
country produces, in the same proportion. A basket of farinha, that
will last one person very well a month, will cost about threepence; so
that with a small expenditure a man may obtain enough to live on. The
Indians here made their mandiocca bread very differently from, and very
superior to, those of the adjacent rivers. The greater part is tapioca,
which they mix with a small quantity of the prepared mandiocca-root,
and form a white, gelatinous, granular cake, which with a little use is
very agreeable, and is much sought after by all the white traders on
the river. Farinha they scarcely ever eat themselves, but make it only
to sell; and as they extract the tapioca, which is the pure glutinous
portion of the root, to make their own bread, they mix the refuse with
a little fresh mandiocca to make farinha, which is thus of a very poor
quality; yet such is the state of agriculture on the Rio Negro, that
the city of Barra depends in a great measure upon this refuse food of
the Indians, and several thousand alqueires are purchased, and most of
it sent there, annually.

The principal food of these Indians is fish, and when they have neither
this nor any game, they boil a quantity of peppers, in which they dip
their bread. At several places where we stopped this was offered to
our men, who ate with a relish the intensely burning mess. Yams and
sweet potatoes are also abundant, and with pacovas form a large item in
their stock of eatables. Then they have the delicious drinks made from
the fruits of the assaí, baccába, and patawá palms, as well as several
other fruits.

The large saübas and white ants are an occasional luxury, and when
nothing else is to be had in the wet season they eat large earth-worms,
which, when the lands in which they live are flooded, ascend trees, and
take up their abode in the hollow leaves of a species of _Tillandsia_,
where they are often found accumulated by thousands. Nor is it only
hunger that makes them eat these worms, for they sometimes boil them
with their fish to give it an extra relish.

They consume great quantities of mandiocca in making caxirí for their
festas, which are continually taking place. As I had not seen a regular
dance, Senhor L. asked the Tushaúa to make some caxirí and invite his
friends and vassals to dance, for the white stranger to see. He readily
consented, and, as we were to leave in two or three days, immediately
sent round a messenger to the houses of the Indians near, to make known
the day and request the honour of their company. As the notice was so
short, it was only those in the immediate neighbourhood who could be

On the appointed day numerous preparations were taking place. The
young girls came repeatedly to fill their pitchers at the river early
in the morning, to complete the preparation of the caxirí. In the
forenoon they were busy weeding all round the malocca, and sprinkling
water, and sweeping within it. The women were bringing in dry wood for
the fires, and the young men were scattered about in groups, plaiting
straw coronets or arranging some other parts of their ornaments. In the
afternoon, as I came from the forest, I found several engaged in the
operation of painting, which others had already completed. The women
had painted themselves or each other, and presented a neat pattern in
black and red all over their bodies, some circles and curved lines
occurring on their hips and breasts, while on their faces round spots
of a bright vermilion seemed to be the prevailing fashion. The juice of
a fruit which stains of a fine purplish-black is often poured on the
back of the head and neck, and, trickling all down the back, produces
what they no doubt consider a very elegant dishabille. These spotted
beauties were now engaged in performing the same operation for their
husbands and sweethearts, some standing, others sitting, and directing
the fair artists how to dispose the lines and tints to their liking.

We prepared our supper rather early, and about sunset, just as we had
finished, a messenger came to notify to us that the dance had begun,
and that the Tushaúa had sent to request our company. We accordingly
at once proceeded to the malocca, and entering the private apartment
at the circular end, were politely received by the Tushaúa, who was
dressed in his shirt and trowsers only, and requested us to be seated
in maqueiras. After a few minutes’ conversation I turned to look
at the dancing, which was taking place in the body of the house,
in a large clear space round the two central columns. A party of
about fifteen or twenty middle-aged men were dancing; they formed a
semicircle, each with his left hand on his neighbour’s right shoulder.
They were all completely furnished with their feather ornaments, and I
now saw for the first time the head-dress, or acangatára, which they
value highly. This consists of a coronet of red and yellow feathers
disposed in regular rows, and firmly attached to a strong woven or
plaited band. The feathers are entirely from the shoulders of the great
red macaw, but they are not those that the bird naturally possesses,
for these Indians have a curious art by which they change the colours
of the feathers of many birds.

They pluck out those they wish to paint, and in the fresh wound
inoculate with the milky secretion from the skin of a small frog or
toad. When the feathers grow again they are of a brilliant yellow or
orange colour, without any mixture of blue or green, as in the natural
state of the bird; and on the new plumage being again plucked out, it
is said always to come of the same colour without any fresh operation.
The feathers are renewed but slowly, and it requires a great number of
them to make a coronet, so we see the reason why the owner esteems it
so highly, and only in the greatest necessity will part with it.

Attached to the comb on the top of the head is a fine broad plume
of the tail-coverts of the white egret, or more rarely of the under
tail-coverts of the great harpy eagle. These are large, snowy white,
loose and downy, and are almost equal in beauty to a plume of white
ostrich feathers. The Indians keep these noble birds in great open
houses or cages, feeding them with fowls (of which they will consume
two a day), solely for the sake of these feathers; but as the birds
are rare, and the young with difficulty secured, the ornament is one
that few possess. From the end of the comb cords of monkeys’ hair,
decorated with small feathers, hang down the back and in the ears
are the little downy plumes, forming altogether a most imposing and
elegant head-dress. All these dancers had also the cylindrical stone of
large size, the necklace of white beads, the girdle of onças’ teeth,
the garters, and ankle-rattles. A very few had besides a most curious
ornament, the nature of which completely puzzled me: it was either a
necklace or a circlet round the forehead, according to the quantity
possessed, and consisted of small curiously curved pieces of a white
colour with a delicate rosy tinge, and appearing like shell or enamel.
They say they procure them from the Indians of the Japurá and other
rivers, and that they are very expensive, three or four pieces only,
costing an axe. They appear to me more like portions of the lip of a
large shell cut into perfectly regular pieces than anything else, but
so regular in size and shape, as to make me doubt again that they can
be of shell, or that Indians can form them.

In their hands each held a lance, or bundle of arrows, or the painted
calabash-rattle. The dance consisted simply of a regular sideway step,
carrying the whole body round and round in a circle; the simultaneous
stamping of the feet, the rattle and clash of the leg ornaments
and calabashes, and a chant of a few words repeated in a deep tone,
producing a very martial and animated effect. At certain intervals
the young women joined in, each one taking her place between two men,
whom she clasped with each arm round the waist, her head bending
forward beneath the outstretched arm above, which, as the women were
all of low stature, did not much interfere with their movements. They
kept their places for one or two rounds, and then, at a signal of
some sort, all left and retired to their seats on stools or on the
ground, till the time should come for them again to take their places.
The greater part of them wore the “tanga,” or small apron of beads,
but some were perfectly naked. Several wore large cylindrical copper
earrings, so polished as to appear like gold. These and the garters
formed their only ornaments,—necklaces, bracelets, and feathers being
entirely monopolized by the men. The paint with which they decorate
their whole bodies has a very neat effect, and gives them almost the
appearance of being dressed, and as such they seem to regard it; and
however much those who have not witnessed this strange scene may be
disposed to differ from me, I must record my opinion that there is far
more immodesty in the transparent and flesh-coloured garments of our
stage-dancers, than in the perfect nudity of these daughters of the

In the open space outside the house, a party of young men and boys, who
did not possess the full costume, were dancing in the same manner. They
soon however began what may be called the snake dance. They had made
two huge artificial snakes of twigs and bushes bound together with
sipós, from thirty to forty feet long and about a foot in diameter,
with a head of a bundle of leaves of the Umboöba (_Cecropia_), painted
with bright red colour, making altogether a very formidable-looking
reptile. They divided themselves into two parties of twelve or fifteen
each, and lifting the snakes on their shoulders, began dancing.

In the dance, they imitated the undulations of the serpent, raising the
head and twisting the tail. They kept advancing and retreating, keeping
parallel to each other, and every time coming nearer to the principal
door of the house. At length they brought the heads of the snakes into
the very door, but still retreated several times. Those within had now
concluded their first dance, and after several more approaches, in came
the snakes with a sudden rush, and, parting, went one on the right side
and one on the left. They still continued the advancing and retreating
step, till at length, each having traversed a semicircle, they met face
to face. Here the two snakes seemed inclined to fight, and it was only
after many retreatings and brandishings of the head and tail, that they
could muster resolution to rush past each other. After one or two more
rounds, they passed out to the outside of the house, and the dance,
which had apparently much pleased all the spectators, was concluded.

During all this time caxirí was being abundantly supplied, three
men being constantly employed carrying it to the guests. They came
one behind the other down the middle of the house, with a large
calabash-full in each hand, half stooping down, with a kind of running
dance, and making a curious whirring, humming noise: on reaching the
door they parted on each side, distributing their calabashes to whoever
wished to drink. In a minute or two they were all empty, and the
cupbearers returned to fill them, bringing them every time with the
same peculiar forms, which evidently constitute the etiquette of the
caxirí-servers. As each of the calabashes holds at least two quarts,
the quantity drunk during a whole night that this process is going on
must be very great.

Presently the Capí was introduced, an account of which I had had from
Senhor L. An old man comes forward with a large newly-painted earthen
pot, which he sets down in the middle of the house. He then squats
behind it, stirs it about, and takes out two small calabashes-full,
which he holds up in each hand. After a moment’s pause, two Indians
advance with bows and arrows or lances in their hands. Each takes the
proffered cup and drinks, makes a wry face, for it is intensely bitter,
and stands motionless perhaps half a minute. They then with a start
twang their bows, shake their lances, stamp their feet, and return to
their seats. The little bowls are again filled, and two others succeed
them, with a similar result. Some however become more excited, run
furiously, lance in hand, as if they would kill an enemy, shout and
stamp savagely, and look very warlike and terrible, and then, like the
others, return quietly to their places. Most of these receive a hum or
shake of applause from the spectators, which is also given at times
during the dances.

The house at this time contained at least three hundred men, women,
and children; a continual murmuring conversation was kept up, and
fifty little fifes and flutes were constantly playing, each on its
own account, producing a not very harmonious medley. After dark a
large fire was lighted in the middle of the house, and as it blazed up
brightly at intervals, illuminating the painted and feather-dressed
dancers and the numerous strange groups in every variety of posture
scattered about the great house, I longed for a skilful painter to do
justice to a scene so novel, picturesque, and interesting.

A number of fires were also made outside the house, and the young men
and boys amused themselves by jumping over them when flaming furiously,
an operation which, with their naked bodies, appeared somewhat
hazardous. Having been now looking on about three hours, we went to
bid adieu to the Tushaúa, previous to retiring to our house, as I did
not feel much inclined to stay with them all night. We found him with
a few visitors, smoking, which on these occasions is performed in a
very ceremonious manner. The cigar is eight or ten inches long and
an inch in diameter, made of tobacco pounded and dried, and enclosed
in a cylinder made of a large leaf spirally twisted. It is placed in
a cigar-holder about two feet long, like a great two-pronged fork.
The bottom is pointed, so that when not in use it can be stuck in the
ground. This cigar was offered to us, and Senhor L. took a few whiffs
for us both, as he is a confirmed smoker. The caxirí was exceedingly
good (although the mandiocca-cake of which it is made is chewed by
a parcel of old women), and I much pleased the lady of the Tushaúa
by emptying the calabash she offered me, and pronouncing it to be
“purángareté” (excellent). We then said “Eré” (adieu), and groped our
way down the rough path to our river-side house, to be sung to sleep by
the hoarse murmur of the cataract. The next morning the dance was still
going on, but, as the caxirí was nearly finished, it terminated about
nine o’clock, and the various guests took their leave.

During the dance, Bernardo, an Indian of São Jeronymo, arrived from the
Rio Apaporis. Senhor L. had sent a message to him by his son (who had
come with us) to procure some Indian boys and girls for him, and he now
came to talk over the business. The procuring, consists in making an
attack on some malocca of another nation, and taking prisoner all that
do not escape or are not killed. Senhor L. has frequently been on these
expeditions, and has had some narrow escapes from lances and poisoned
arrows. At Ananárapicóma there was an Indian dreadfully scarred all
over one shoulder and part of his back, the effects of a discharge of
B.B. shot which Senhor L. had given him, just as he was in the act of
turning with his bow and arrow: they are now excellent friends, and do
business together. The “negociantes” and authorities in Barra and Pará,
ask the traders among the Indians to procure a boy or girl for them,
well knowing the only manner in which they can be obtained; in fact the
Government in some degree authorize the practice. There is something
to be said too in its favour, for the Indians make war on each
other,—principally the natives of the margin of the river, on those in
the more distant igaripés,—for the sake of their weapons and ornaments,
and for revenge of any injury, real or imaginary, and then kill all
they can, reserving only some young girls for their wives. The hope of
selling them to the traders, however, induces them to spare many who
would otherwise be murdered. These are brought up to some degree of
civilization (though I much doubt if they are better or happier than in
their native forests), and though at times ill treated, they are free
and can leave their masters whenever they like, which, however, they
seldom do when taken very young. Senhor L. had been requested by two
parties at Barra—one the Delegarde de Policia—to furnish them each with
an Indian girl, and as this man was an old hand at the business, he was
now agreeing with him, furnishing him with powder and shot—for he had a
gun—and giving him some goods, to pay other Indians for assisting him,
and to do a little business at the same time if he had the opportunity.
He was to return at the furthest in a fortnight, and we were to wait
for him in São Jeronymo.

The Tushaúa came to pay us a visit almost every day, to talk a
little, and sometimes drink a cup of coffee. His wife and some of
his daughters, who possessed a “saía,” also often came, bringing us
pacovas, mandiocca-cake, and other things, for which they always
expected to be paid. We bought here a good number of stools and
baskets, which cost five or six hooks each; also fowls, parrots,
trumpeters, and some other tame birds. When we first arrived, almost
the whole body of the inhabitants came to visit us, requesting to see
what we had brought to sell; accordingly we spread out our whole stock
of fish-hooks, knives, axes, mirrors, beads, arrow-heads, cottons and
calicoes, which they handled and admired in unintelligible languages,
for about two hours. It is necessary to make this exposition in every
village, as they will bring nothing to sell unless they first know that
you have what they want in exchange.

Two days after the dance we bade adieu to Jauarité, and by midday
reached Jukeíra, where we had determined to spend another week. There
was no regular house here for the accommodation of travellers, so we
had to take possession of an unoccupied shed, which the Tushaúa had
prepared for us, and where we soon found we were exposed to a pest
abundant in all Indians’ houses, the “bichos do pé,” or chegoes. Nor
was this all, for the blood-sucking bats were abundant, and the very
first night bit Senhor L., as well as his little boy, who in the
morning presented a ghastly sight, both legs being thickly smeared and
blotched with blood. There was only one bite on the toe, but the blood
flows plentifully, and as the boy was very restless at night, he had
managed to produce the sanguinary effect I have mentioned. Several of
the Indians were also bitten, but I escaped by always wrapping my feet
well in my blanket.

The paths in the forest here were not so good as those at Jauarité, and
produced me very few insects; the Indians, however, were rather better
in bringing me birds and fish. I obtained some very pretty little
tanagers, and several new fish. In one lot of small fish brought to me
in a calabash were seven different species, five of which were quite
new to me. A species of _Chalceus_, called Jatuarána, was abundant
here, and most delicious eating, almost, if not quite, equal to the
Waracú; but like it very full of forked spines, which require practice
and delicate handling to extract, or they may produce dangerous
effects. Several Indians of the Coveu nation, from considerably higher
up the river, were staying here. They are distinguished by the ear-lobe
being pierced with so large a hole as to be plugged with a piece of
wood the size of a common bottle-cork. When we entered their house they
set before us, on the ground, smoked fish and mandiocca-cake, which
Senhor L. informs me is the general custom higher up the river, where
the Indians have not lost any of their primitive customs by intercourse
with the whites. Senhor L. had bought a quantity of “coroá” (the fibres
of a species of _Bromelia_, very like flax), and he set these and
several other Indians to twist it into thread, which they do by rolling
it on their breasts, and form a fine well-twisted two-strand string, of
which fine maqueiras are netted. Each one in two or three days produced
a ball of string of a quarter of a pound weight, and with a small basin
of salt or half-a-dozen hooks in payment were well satisfied.

On one or two days of bright sunshine, a beautiful _Papilio_ came
about the house, settling on the ground in moist places: I succeeded
in taking two specimens; it is allied to _P. Thoas_, and will probably
prove a new species. This was my only capture worth mentioning at
Jukeíra. I had seen the same species at Jauarité, but could not take a
specimen. I purchased one of the red macaws painted as I have mentioned
above. Senhor L. was here quite a martyr to the chegoes, frequently
extracting ten or a dozen in a day, which made his feet so full of
holes and wounds as to render walking painful, as I had experienced
at Cobáti and Javíta. I however escaped pretty well, seldom having to
take out more than two or three at a time, partly I believe owing to
my being a good deal in the forest and to my always wearing slippers
in the house. When a person has only one or two now and then, it is a
trifling affair, and one is apt to think, as I for a long time did,
that the dread of chegoes was quite unnecessary, and the accounts of
their persecutions much exaggerated. Let any one, however, who still
thinks so, take a trip into this part of the country, and live a month
in an Indian’s house, and he will be thoroughly undeceived.

After staying here six days, finding little to be done, we proceeded
on our downward passage to São Jeronymo. On the second day, in the
morning, we reached Urubuquárra, the malocca of Bernardo, situated just
above the falls. There is a path from this place through the forest,
about three miles, to the village; and as there were no Indians here to
assist us in passing the falls, we set ours to work, carrying part of
the cargo along it. In the afternoon Bernardo’s son, who had returned
before us with a canoe-load of farinha, came in, and we arranged to
pass the falls the next morning. The river had risen considerably since
we ascended, and had now reached a higher point than had been known
for several years, and the rapids were proportionably more dangerous.
I therefore preferred going through the forest, carrying with me two
small boxes, containing the insects I had collected, and my drawings
of fish,—the loss of which would have been irreparable. The morning
was fine, and I had a pleasant walk, though the path was very rugged
in places, with steep descents and ascents at the crossing of several
small brooks. Arrived at São Jeronymo, I waited for Senhor L., at the
house of Senhor Augustinho, the young Brazilian before mentioned,
who had returned from Jauarité before us, with upwards of a hundred
alqueires of farinha. About midday a tremendous storm of wind and
rain came on, and in the afternoon Senhor L. arrived with the canoe,
thoroughly soaked; and informed me that they had had a most dangerous
passage, a portion of the path where the cargo had to be carried
through the forest being breast-deep in water; and at some of the
points, the violence of the current was so great that they narrowly
escaped being carried down to the great fall, and dashed to pieces on
the rocks.

Here was a good house for travellers, (though without doors,) and we
took possession and settled ourselves for a week or ten days’ stay. We
nearly filled the house with farinha, pitch, baskets, stools, earthen
pots and pans, maqueiras, etc.; we had also near a hundred fowls, which
had been brought crammed into two huge square baskets, and were now
much pleased to be set at liberty,—as well as a large collection of
tame birds, parrots, macaws, paroquets, etc., which kept up a continual
cawing and crying, not always very agreeable. All these birds were
loose, flying about the village, but returning generally to be fed. The
trumpeters and curassow-birds wandered about the houses of the Indians,
and sometimes did not make their appearance for several days; but
being brought up from the nest, or even sometimes from the egg, there
was little danger of their escaping to the forest. We had nine pretty
little black-headed parrots, which every night would go of their own
accord into a basket prepared for them to sleep in.

From what I had seen on this river, there is no place equal to it
for procuring a fine collection of live birds and animals; and this,
together with the desire to see more of a country so interesting and
so completely unknown, induced me, after mature deliberation, to give
up for the present my intended journey to the Andes, and to substitute
another voyage up the river Uaupés, at least to the Juruparí (Devil)
cataract, the “_ultima Thule_” of most of the traders, and about a
month’s voyage up from its mouth. Several traders who had arrived at
São Jeronymo on the way up, as well as the more intelligent Indians,
assured me that in the upper districts there are many birds and
animals not met with below. But what above all attracted me, was the
information that a white species of the celebrated umbrella-chatterer
was to be found there. The information on this point from several
parties was so positive, that, though much inclined to doubt the
existence of such a bird at all, I could not rest satisfied without
one more trial, as, even if I did not find it, I had little doubt of
obtaining many new species to reward me. The worst of it was, that I
must go to Barra and return—a voyage of fifteen hundred miles—which was
very disagreeable. But there was no remedy, for I had a considerable
lot of miscellaneous collections here and at Guia, as well as what I
left at Barra, which must be packed and sent off to England, or they
might be destroyed by damp and insects. Besides which I could not
undertake a voyage on this wild river for several months, without
being well supplied with necessaries, and articles for barter with
the Indians, which could only be obtained at Barra; moreover the best
season for ascending would not arrive for two or three months, so
that I could do scarcely anything if I remained here. The months of
November, December, January, and February, are the “vasante,” or low
water, and then is the summer-season, when the river presents a totally
different and a much more agreeable aspect, being everywhere bordered
with fine sandy or rocky beaches, on which one can eat and sleep with
comfort at any hour. Fish are then much more abundant; turtles of a new
species are said to be found on the sands, in the upper part of the
river, and to lay abundance of eggs; the delicious fruit of the baccába
and patawá palms are then ripe, and birds and insects of all kinds more
easily procurable. These four months I hoped therefore to spend there,
so as to be able to descend to Barra, and thence to Pará, in time to
return to England by July or August, with a numerous and valuable
collection of live animals. It was on account of these, principally,
that I determined to return to England a year before the time I had
fixed upon, as it was impossible to send them without personal care and

And so, having once made up my mind to this course, with what delight
I thought upon the sweets of home! What a paradise did that distant
land seem to me! How I thought of the many simple pleasures, so long
absent,—the green fields, the pleasant woods, the flowery paths, the
neat gardens,—all so unknown here! What visions of the fire-side did
I conjure up, of the social tea-table, with familiar faces around
it! What a luxury seemed simple bread and butter!—and to think that,
perhaps in one short year, I might be in the midst of all this!
There was a pleasure in the mere thought, that made me leap over the
long months, the weary hours, the troubles and annoyances of tedious
journeys, that had first to be endured. I passed hours in solitary
walks thinking of home; and never did I in former years long to be away
in this tropic-land, with half the earnestness with which I now looked
forward to returning back again.

Our stay at São Jeronymo was prolonged by the non-appearance of
Bernardo. Insects were not so plentiful even as at Jauarité; but I
generally found something in my walks, and obtained two fine species
of _Satyridæ_ quite new to me. In a little patch of open bushy campo,
which occurs about a mile back from the village, I was delighted to
find abundance of orchids. I had never seen so many collected in one
place; it was a complete natural orchid-house. In an hour’s ramble, I
noticed about thirty different species;—some, minute plants scarcely
larger than mosses, and one large semi-terrestrial species, which grew
in clumps eight or ten feet high. There were but few in flower, and
most of them were very small, though pretty. One day however I was much
delighted to come suddenly upon a magnificent flower: growing out of
a rotten stem of a tree, just level with my eye, was a bunch of five
or six blossoms, which were three inches in diameter, nearly round,
and varying from a pale delicate straw-colour to a rich deep yellow,
on the basal portion of the labellum. How exquisitely beautiful did
it appear, in that wild, sandy, barren spot! A day or two afterwards I
found another handsome species, the flowers of which, unlike most of
the family, were of very short duration, opening in the morning, and
lasting but a single day. The sight of these determined me to try and
send some to England, as from such a distant and unexplored locality
there would probably be many new species. I accordingly began bringing
a few home every day, and, packing them in empty farinha-baskets,
placed them under a rough stage, with some plantain-leaves to defend
them from the heat of the sun, till we should be ready to embark. I
was rather doubtful of the result, as they could not arrive in England
before the winter, which might be injurious; but on my next voyage, I
looked forward to bringing a larger collection of these beautiful and
interesting plants, as they would then arrive in a good season of the

São Jeronymo is celebrated for its abundance of fish, but at this
season they are in all places difficult to take. However, we had on
most days enough for breakfast and supper, and scarcely a day passed,
but I had some new and strange kinds to add to my collection. The
small fishes of these rivers are in wonderful variety, and the large
proportion of the species here, different from those I had observed in
the Rio Negro, led me to hope that in the upper parts of the river I
should find them almost entirely new.

Here we were tolerably free from chegoes, but had another plague,
far worse, because more continual. We had suffered more or less from
pium̃s in all parts of the river, but here they were in such countless
myriads, as to render it almost impossible to sit down during the day.
It was most extraordinary that previously to this year they had never
been known in the river. Senhor L. and the Indians, all agreed that a
pium̃ had hitherto been a rarity, and now they were as plentiful as in
their very worst haunts. Having long discarded the use of stockings in
these “altitudes,” and not anticipating any such pest, I did not bring
a pair, which would have been useful to defend my feet and ankles in
the house, as the pium̃, unlike the mosquito, does not penetrate any
covering, however thin.

As it was, the torments I suffered when skinning a bird or drawing a
fish, can scarcely be imagined by the unexperienced. My feet were so
thickly covered with the little blood-spots produced by their bites, as
to be of a dark purplish-red colour, and much swelled and inflamed. My
hands suffered similarly, but in a less degree, being more constantly
in motion. The only means of taking a little rest in the day, was
by wrapping up hands and feet in a blanket. The Indians close their
houses, as these insects do not bite in the dark, but ours having no
door, we could not resort to this expedient. Whence these pests could
thus suddenly appear in such vast numbers is a mystery which I am quite
unable to explain.

When we had been here about a week, some Indians who had been sent to
Guia with a small cargo of farinha, returned and brought us news of two
deaths, which had taken place in the village since we had left. One
was of Jozé, a little Indian boy in Senhor L’s house, who had killed
himself by eating dirt,—a very common and destructive habit among
Indians and half-breeds in the houses of the whites. All means had been
tried to cure him of the habit; he had been physicked and whipped, and
confined in-doors, but when no other opportunity offered he would find
a plentiful supply in the mud-walls of the house. The symptoms produced
were swelling of the whole body, face, and limbs, so that he could with
difficulty walk, and not having so much care taken of him after we
left, he ate his fill and died.

The other was an old Indian, the Juiz of the festa of St. Antonio,
which took place shortly after we left. He was poisoned with caxirí,
into which had been put the juice of a root which produces the most
dreadful effects: the tongue and throat swell, putrefy, and rot away,
and the same effects seem to take place in the stomach and intestines,
till, in two or three days, the patient dies in great agony. The
poisoner was not known, but it was suspected to be a young woman,
sister of an Indian who died in the village a short time before, and
whose death they imagined to be caused by charms or witchcraft; and
the present murder was probably in revenge for this supposed injury.
Coroners’ inquests are here unknown, and the poor old man was buried,
and nothing more thought about the matter; perhaps however his family
may resort to the same means to repay the suspected party.

A few days afterwards a boy died in São Jeronymo, and a great crying
and wailing was made for several hours over the body. His maqueira, and
bow and arrows, were burnt in a fire made at the back of the house,
within which, according to the universal custom of these Indians, he
was buried, and the mother continued her mournful wailing for several

The only additions I made to my collections during the time I staid
here, were a prehensile-tailed anteater, and one of the small nocturnal
monkeys, called “Juruparí Macaco,” or Devil Monkey, a species very
closely allied to that called “Iá,” which inhabits the Solimões. After
waiting anxiously a fortnight, Bernardo made his appearance with three
of his wives and a host of children: he had been unsuccessful in his
projected attack, the parties having obtained notice of his motions and
absconded. He had taken every precaution, by entering in a different
river from that in which the attack was to be made, and penetrating
through the forest; but his movements were, no doubt, thought
suspicious, and it was considered safer to get out of his way: he was
however confident of succeeding next time in another place, where he
thought he could arrive unawares.

Having now no further cause for delay, we loaded our canoes, and the
next morning left São Jeronymo, on our return to Guia, where we arrived
on the morning of the 24th, having been absent on our trip fifty days.

The most important event that had occurred in the village, was the
arrival from Barra of Manoel Joaquim, a half-breed Brazilian, some time
resident at Guia. This man was a specimen of the class of white men
found in the Rio Negro. He had been a soldier, and had been engaged
in some of the numerous revolutions which had taken place in Brazil.
It was said he had murdered his wife, and for that, or some other
crimes, had been banished to the Rio Negro, instead of being hung,
as he deserved. Here he was accustomed to threaten and shoot at the
Indians, to take their daughters and wives from them, and to beat the
Indian woman who lived with him, so that she was obliged to hide for
days in the forest. The people of Guia declared he had murdered two
Indian girls, and had committed many other horrible crimes. He had
formerly been friendly with Senhor L., but, a year or two ago, had
quarrelled with him, and had attempted to set fire to his house; he had
also attempted to shoot an old Mulatto soldier, who was friendly with
Senhor L. For these and other crimes, the Subdelegarde de Policia of
the district had indicted him, and after taking the depositions of the
Indians and of Senhor L. against him, had wished to send him prisoner
to Barra, but could not do so, because he had no force at his command.
He therefore applied to the Commandante of Marabitánas, who was at
Guia at the time; but he was Manoel Joaquim’s “compadre,” and took his
part, and would not send him as a prisoner, but let him go in his own
canoe, accompanied by two soldiers, bearing a recommendation from the
Commandante in his favour.

This had happened shortly before we left for the Uaupés; and now we
found that Manoel Joaquim had returned in great triumph—firing salutes
and sending up rockets at every village he passed through. He had gone
on to Marabitánas; but, in a day or two more, returned, and brought
me some letters and papers from Barra. There also came a letter to
Senhor L. from the Delegarde de Policia in Barra, saying, that Manoel
Joaquim had presented himself, and that he (the Delegarde) had asked
him if he came a prisoner; that he replied, “No; he came to attend
to his own business.” “Well, then,” said the Delegarde, “as you have
not been incommoded by this indictment, it is better to treat these
slanders and quarrels with disdain;” and said he to Senhor L., “I
would advise you to do the same.” And so ended the attempt to punish
a man who, if one-half the crimes imputed to him were true, ought, by
the laws of Brazil, to have been hung, or imprisoned for life. The
poor Subdelegarde, it seems, through pure ignorance, committed some
informalities, and this was the reason why Manoel Joaquim so easily and
gloriously escaped.

The best of it is, that there is a special officer in Barra and in
every other city, called the “Promotor Publico,” whose sole duty it
is to see that all the other officers of justice and of police do
their duty, so that no criminal may escape or injustice be done, by
the laxity or connivance of any of these parties. Yet, with all this,
nothing is easier in the Rio Negro, than for any person possessed of
friends or money, to defeat the ends of justice.

I now found another unavoidable delay in my projected voyage to Barra.
A canoe that was making for me was not yet ready, and I did not know
where to obtain one sufficiently capacious to take all my luggage and
collections; but, a few days after, a Spaniard, or Venezuelano, arrived
at Guia with a canoe for Manoel Joaquim; and as he was to return by
Marabitánas, I took the opportunity of writing to the Commandante,
asking the loan of his igarité, for the voyage to Barra and back. He
very kindly consented, and in about a week I received it; but I was
as badly off as ever, for a canoe without men was of no use; and the
Indians, fearing the results of Manoel Joaquim’s return, had all left
Guia, and retired to their sitios in distant igaripés, and in the most
inaccessible depths of the forest. The Commandante had sent orders to
two Indians to go with me, but these were not sufficient to descend the
falls with safety; so, as Senhor L. was about to remove to São Joaquim,
at the mouth of the Uaupés, I agreed to go with him, and try and
procure more men there. My Indians took nearly a fortnight to prepare
the canoe with new toldas—about two days’ work; but then, though I was
in a hurry, they were not.

Senhor L. had not a single man left with him, and had to take his canoe
down himself, and bring back Indians to assist him to remove his goods
and his family, when we went all together to São Joaquim, where he
intended to reside some time. I now thought I should be able to leave
immediately, but found it not such an easy matter, for every Indian I
applied to had some business of his own to attend to, before he could
possibly go with me to Barra. One said, his house was very much out
of repair, and he must first mend it; another had appointed a dance
to take place in a week or two, and when that was over, he was at my
service; so I still had to wait a little longer, and try the Brazilian
remedy for all such annoyances—“paciencia.”

                              CHAPTER XI.

                           ON THE RIO NEGRO.

  Difficulties of starting—Descending the Falls—Catching an
    Alligator—Tame Parrots—A fortnight in Barra—Frei Jozé’s
    diplomacy—Pickling a Cow-fish—A river storm—Brazilian
    veracity—Wanawáca—Productiveness of the country—A large Snake—São
    Gabriel—São Joaquim—Fever and Ague.

At length, on September 1st, after another week’s delay, having
succeeded in procuring two more Indians and a pilot, I left on my
long-desired voyage. One Indian I could only persuade to go, by sending
four others to assist him for three days in clearing his mandiocca
rhossa, without doing which he would not leave. My canoe went fully
loaded, as I took a quantity of farinha and miscellaneous goods for
Senhor L., and I had some little fear of the passage of the Caxoeiras,
which was not diminished by my pilot’s being completely stupefied with
his parting libations of caxirí. He was also rather fearful, saying,
that the canoe was overloaded, and that he did not know the channel
well below São Gabriel; and that from there to Camanaú, I must get
another pilot.

The rapids, before arriving at São Gabriel, are not very dangerous, and
much to my satisfaction we arrived there in safety, about four in the
afternoon. We there partially unloaded, to pass the narrow channel at
the Fort, which was also accomplished with safety; though not without
danger at one point, where the canoe got out of the proper course, and
the waves dashed in rather fearfully. I then succeeded in agreeing with
a good pilot to take us down the next morning, and was much relieved by
his informing me, that, the river being very full, the Falls were not
dangerous, and the canoe would pass with perfect safety without more
unloading. I therefore willingly paid him what he asked, four milreis
(about nine shillings); and the next morning, having got the canoe
properly reloaded, we bade adieu to the Commandante, and in two hours
had passed safely down to Camanaú.

The navigation of these Falls is of a character quite distinct from
anything in our part of the world. A person looking at the river,
sees only a rapid current, a few eddies, swells, and small breakers,
in which there appears nothing very formidable. When however you are
in the midst of them, you are quite bewildered with the conflicting
motions of the waters. Whirling and boiling eddies, which burst up
from the bottom at intervals, as if from some subaqueous explosion,
with short crosswaves, and smooth intervening patches, almost make one
giddy. On one side of the canoe there is often a strong down-current;
while, on the other, it flows in an opposite direction. Now there is
a cross stream at the bows, and a diagonal one at the stern, with a
foaming Scylla on one side and a whirling Charybdis on the other. All
depends upon the pilot, who, well acquainted with every sunken rock and
dangerous whirlpool, steers clear of all perils,—now directing the crew
to pull hard, now to slacken, as circumstances require, and skilfully
preparing the canoe to receive the impetus of the cross currents that
he sees abroad. I imagine that the neighbourhood of the arches of Old
London Bridge, at certain states of the tide, must have presented on
a small scale somewhat similar dangers. When the river is low, the
descent is more perilous; for, though the force of the waters is not so
great, they are so crammed with rocks in all stages of submersion, that
to avoid them becomes a work requiring the greatest knowledge and care
on the part of the pilot. Having passed these much-dreaded rapids, we
proceeded pleasantly to São Jozé, where I staid a day, to take out part
of Senhor L.’s cargo, and reload the canoe properly for the voyage to

In the afternoon, a fine specimen of one of the smaller species of
alligator, or Jacaré, was brought in, and preparations were made to
cut it up for supper. I however immediately determined to skin it,
and requested to be allowed to do so, promising to get out the tail
and body, for culinary purposes, in a very short time. After about an
hour’s hard work, I extracted the most meaty part of the tail, which is
considered the best; and in another hour delivered up the body, leaving
the head and legs to be cleaned the next day in the canoe. The animal
was very nearly six feet long, and the scales of the belly could only
be cut by heavy blows with a hammer on a large knife. It was caught
with a line, to which was attached, by the middle, a short strong
pointed stick baited with fish; when swallowed, the stick remains
firmly fixed across the stomach of the animal. The flesh has a very
strong but rather agreeable odour, like guavas or some musky fruit,
and is much esteemed by Indians and many whites; but it requires to be
young, fat, and well dressed, to form, in my opinion, a palatable meal.
I had plenty of work the next day, cleaning the head and limbs, and
these furnished a supply of meat for my Indians’ supper.

I called at the sitio of Senhor Chagas, whom I had met at Guia,
and from him I again received the most positive information of the
existence, on the river Uaupés, of a white umbrella-bird, having
himself seen a specimen, which one of his Indians had killed.

On the 6th I reached the sitio of Senhor João Cordeiro, the
Subdelegarde, where I stopped to breakfast; and arranged with him to
remain a few days at his house, on my return voyage, in order to skin
and prepare the skeleton of a _peixe boi_, which he promised to procure
for me, as they are very abundant in the river Urubaxí, which enters
the Rio Negro just above his house, and where he, every year, takes
great numbers with the net and harpoon. At breakfast we had some of the
meat,—preserved, by being boiled or fried in its own oil; it is then
put into large pots, and will keep many months. On taking my leave, he
sent me a plate of the meat, and some sausages for my voyage.

I here finished stuffing my Jacaré, and was obliged to borrow a drill
to make the holes to sew up the skin. I had no box to put it in,
and no room for it in the canoe, so I tied it on a board, and had a
palm-leaf mat made to cover it from rain, on the top of the tolda.
Senhor João told us to visit his “cacoarie,” or fish-weir, on our way
down, and take what we found in it. We did so, and of fish only got
one,—a curious mailed species, quite new to me, and which gave me an
afternoon’s work to figure and describe. There were also five small
red-headed turtles, which were very acceptable, and furnished us with
dinner for several days.

We proceeded pleasantly on our voyage, sometimes with rain and
sometimes with sunshine, and often obliged to make a supper of farinha
and water, on account of there being no land on which to make a fire;
but to all these inconveniences I was by this time well inured, and
thought nothing of what, a year before, was a very great hardship. At
the different sitios where I called, I often received orders for Barra;
for everybody whom I had once seen was, on a second encounter, an old
friend, and would take a friend’s privilege. One requested me to bring
him a pot of turtle oil,—another, a garafão of wine; the Delegarde
wanted a couple of cats, and his clerk, a couple of ivory small-tooth
combs; another required gimlets, and another, again, a guitar. For all
these articles I received not a vintem of payment, but was promised the
money certain on my return, or an equivalent in coffee or tobacco, or
some other article current in the Rio Negro. To many persons, with whom
I had never spoken, I was nevertheless well known, and addressed by
name; and these would often hint, that such and such an article they
were much in want of, and, without directly requesting me to get it for
them, would intimate that if I should bring it, they would be happy to
purchase it of me.

The only live animals I had with me were a couple of parrots, which
were a never-failing source of amusement, One was a little “Mariánna,”
or Macaí of the Indians, a small black-headed, white-breasted,
orange-neck and thighed parrot; the other, an Anacá, a most beautiful
bird, banded on the breast and belly with blue and red, and the back
of the neck and head covered with long bright red feathers margined
with blue, which it would elevate when angry, forming a handsome
crest somewhat similar to that of the harpy eagle; its ornithological
name is _Derotypus accipitrinus_, the hawk-headed parrot. There was
a remarkable difference in the characters of these birds. The Anacá
was of a rather solemn, morose, and irritable disposition; while
the Mariánna was a lively little creature, inquisitive as a monkey,
and playful as a kitten. It was never quiet, running over the whole
canoe, climbing into every crack and cranny, diving into all the
baskets, pans, and pots it could discover, and tasting everything they
contained. It was a most omnivorous feeder, eating rice, farinha, every
kind of fruit, fish, meat, and vegetable, and drinking coffee too as
well as myself; and as soon as it saw me with basin in hand, would
climb up to the edge, and not be quiet without having a share, which it
would lick up with the greatest satisfaction, stopping now and then,
and looking knowingly round, as much as to say, “This coffee is very
good,” and then sipping again with increased gusto. The bird evidently
liked the true flavour of the coffee, and not that of the sugar, for
it would climb up to the edge of the coffee-pot, and hanging on the
rim plunge boldly down till its little tail only appeared above, and
then drink the coffee-grounds for five minutes together. The Indians
in the canoe delighted to imitate its pretty clear whistle, making it
reply and stare about, in a vain search after its companions. Whenever
we landed to cook, the Mariánna was one of the first on shore,—not
with any view to an escape, but merely to climb up some bush or tree
and whistle enjoyment of its elevated position, for as soon as eating
commenced, it came down for a share of fish or coffee. The more sober
Anacá would generally remain quietly in the canoe, till, lured by the
cries and whistles of its lively little companion, it would venture out
to join it; for, notwithstanding their difference of disposition, they
were great friends, and would sit for hours side by side, scratching
each other’s heads, or playing together just like a cat and a kitten;
the Marianna sometimes so exasperating the Anacá by scratches and
peckings, and by jumping down upon it, that a regular fight would
ensue, which however soon terminated, when they would return to their
former state of brotherhood. I intended them as presents to two friends
in Barra, but was almost sorry to part them.

On September 15th, exactly a fortnight after leaving São Joaquim, we
arrived safely at Barra. The whitened houses and open situation of the
city appeared quite charming, after being so long accustomed to the
mud-walled, forest-buried villages of the Rio Negro. I found that my
friend Mr. Spruce was in the city, being a prisoner there, as I had
been at Guia, for want of men. He occupied a house, made classic to the
Naturalist by having been the abode of Dr. Natterer, where he kindly
accommodated me during my stay, which I intended should be as short as

Bad news was waiting for me from Pará. Letters, dated more than three
months back, from my correspondent, Mr. Miller, informed me of the
dangerous illness of my brother, who had been attacked by yellow fever;
and when the canoe left, which brought the letter, was exhibiting such
symptoms as left little hope of his recovery. The only additional
information brought since, was that the “Princess Victoria,” with a
valuable cargo, had been lost entering Pará; and that the consequent
excitement and anxiety of Mr. Miller, had led to an attack of brain
fever, which had terminated in his death. From no one could I obtain
a word of information about my brother, and so remained in a state of
the greatest suspense. Had he recovered, he would himself, of course,
have written; but, on the other hand, it was strange that none of the
English residents in Pará had sent me a line to inform me of his death,
had it occurred.

I was a fortnight in Barra, busily occupied buying and selling, and
arranging and packing my miscellaneous collections. I had to make
insect-boxes and packing-cases, the only carpenter in the place having
taken it into his head to leave a good business, and, like everybody
else, go trading about the rivers.

In the evening, and at all spare moments, we luxuriated in the
enjoyments of rational conversation,—to me, at least, the greatest,
and here the rarest of pleasures. Mr. Spruce, as well as myself, much
wished that we could ascend together; but my canoe was too small to
accommodate us both, and my men were too few for his, loaded, as it
would be, with our combined cargoes. No men were to be obtained at
Barra, for love or money. Even the authorities, when they require to
make some journey on official business, are obliged, frequently, to beg
men of Senhor Henrique or some other negociante. To such a state is
this fine country reduced, by Brazilian misrule and immorality!

Just as I was about to start, the Subdelegarde sent to inform me I
must take a passport, an annoyance I had quite forgotten. However,
there was no remedy, as the clerk does not like to lose his fee of a
“crusado.” I had first to get paper stamped (and the Stamp-office was
not open), and then to go the other end of the city to where the clerk
lived, to get the passport. As everything was on board and all ready,
this was a great bore, and Senhor Henrique advised me to go without a
passport, and he would send it after me. As I knew the Subdelegarde
would not send after me to fetch me back, I took his advice and
started. Mr. S. came with me for a day’s trip, taking a couple of boys
and a montaria to return in. We had a fine wind, which took us across
the great bays above Barra; and about four in the afternoon we landed
on a sandy beach, near which were a couple of cottages. Here Mr. S.
found some handsome new flowering shrubs and trees, and I obtained
five specimens of a small fish, a pacú new to me, so we both had work
till supper-time; after which meal we hung our redes under the bushes
as we best could, and passed an agreeable night. The next morning we
bade each other farewell; Mr. S. returning to Barra, and I pursuing my
voyage up the river. On arriving at a sitio, where I had on the way
down left my montaría in order that it might not be stolen in Barra, I
found my precaution had been of no avail, as it had been stolen a few
days before by an Indian of the Rio Branco. He had had his own canoe
taken from him near that place, by a man going to the Solimões, who
tried to compel the owner to go also, and so, in self-defence, the
Indian took mine to pursue his journey. I had no remedy, so we went on,
trusting to buy a montaría somewhere shortly. We had several strong
“trovoádos,” which were rather dangerous, owing to my canoe being very
much loaded. One came on with great violence from the other side of the
river, raising tremendous waves, which would have driven us on shore
and broken our boat all to pieces, had there not luckily been some
bushes in the water, to which we fastened prow and poop, and remained
tossing and rolling about more than an hour, baling out the water as
fast as it came in, and in constant fear of shipping a sea that would
send us to the bottom.

The same evening I overtook Frei Jozé, who was on a pastoral and
trading visit to Pedreiro. We staid at the same place to sleep, and I
went to converse a little with him in his canoe, which was large and
commodious. Our conversation turning on the prevalence of the small-pox
in Pará, he related an anecdote of his own diplomatic powers with
respect to that dreadful disease, on which he appeared to pride himself

“When I was in Bolivia,” said he, “there were several nations of very
warlike Indians, who plundered and murdered travellers on the way to
Stᵃ. Cruz. The President sent the soldiers after them, and spent much
money in powder and ball, but with very little effect. The small-pox
was in the city at the time, and the clothes of all who died of it
were ordered to be burnt, to prevent infection. One day conversing
with his Excellency about the Indians, I put him up to a much cheaper
way than powder and ball for exterminating them. ‘Instead of burning
the clothes,’ said I, ‘just order them to be put in the way of the
Indians: they are sure to take possession of them, and they’ll die off
like wildfire.’ He followed my advice, and in a few months there was
no more heard of the depredations of the Indians. Four or five nations
were totally destroyed.” “For,” added he, “the bixiga plays the devil
among the Indians.” I could hardly help a shudder at this cool account
of such a cold-blooded massacre, but said nothing, consoling myself
with the idea that it was probably one of the ingenious fabrications of
Frei Jozé’s fertile brain; though it showed that he would look upon the
reality as a very politic and laudable action.

At Pedreiro I bought a couple of fine turtles, and staid half a day to
kill and cook one. It was very fat, so we fried almost all the meat
and put it in a large pot with the oil, as it keeps a long time, and,
boiled up with a little rice, makes an excellent dinner when fish are
not be had. The insides, all of which are eatable, together with the
meat adhering to the upper and lower shell, and some of the eggs (of
which there were near two hundred) were sufficient for all the crew
for two days. At Carvoeiro I staid a day to get my guns mended, some
large hooks made, and the tolda (which the Indians had made very badly
in Barra) repaired. Senhor Vasconcellos gave me a curious flat-headed
species of river-tortoise I had not before met with; he had kept it in
a small pond two years, having brought it from the lower Amazon. Here
I had strong symptoms of fever, and expected I was going to have an
attack of the much-dreaded ‘seizãos,’ for which Carvoeiro is a noted
locality. Looking after the arrangement of the canoe in the hot sun did
not do me much good; and shortly after leaving, I found myself quite
knocked up, with headache, pains in the back and limbs, and violent
fever. I had commenced operations that morning by taking some purgative
medicine, and the next day I began taking doses of quinine, drinking
plentifully cream of tartar water, though I was so weak and apathetic
that at times I could hardly muster resolution to move myself to
prepare them. It is at such times that one feels the want of a friend
or attendant; for of course it is impossible to get the Indians to do
these little things without so much explanation and showing as would
require more exertion than doing them oneself. By dint however of
another purge, an emetic, washing and bathing, and quinine three times
a day, I succeeded in subduing the fever; and in about four days had
only a little weakness left, which in a day or two more quite passed
away. All this time the Indians went on with the canoe as they liked;
for during two days and nights I hardly cared if we sank or swam. While
in that apathetic state I was constantly half-thinking, half-dreaming,
of all my past life and future hopes, and that they were perhaps all
doomed to end here on the Rio Negro. And then I thought of the dark
uncertainty of the fate of my brother Herbert, and of my only remaining
brother in California, who might perhaps ere this have fallen a victim
to the cholera, which according to the latest accounts was raging
there. But with returning health these gloomy thoughts passed away, and
I again went on, rejoicing in this my last voyage, and looking forward
with firm hope to home, sweet home! I however made an inward vow
never to travel again in such wild, unpeopled districts without some
civilized companion or attendant.

I had intended to skin the remaining turtle on the voyage, and had
bought a large packing-case to put it in; but not having room in the
canoe, it had been secured edgeways, and one of its feet being squeezed
had begun to putrefy, so we were obliged to kill it at once and add
the meaty parts to our stock of “mixira” (as meat preserved in oil is
called), for the voyage.

We continued our progress with a most tedious slowness, though without
accident, till we arrived on the 29th of October at the sitio of João
Cordeiro, the Subdelegarde, where I intended staying some days, to
preserve the skin and skeleton of a cow-fish. I found here an old
friend, Senhor Jozé de Azevedos, who had visited us at Guia, now ill
with ague, from which he had been suffering severely for several
days, having violent attacks of vomiting and dysentery. As usual, he
was quite without any proper remedies, and even such simple ones as
cooling drinks during the fever were shunned as poison; hot broths, or
caxaça and peppers, being here considered the appropriate medicines.
With the help of a few sudorifics and purgatives, and cooling drinks
and baths, with quinine between the fits, he soon got better,—much to
his astonishment, as he was almost afraid to submit himself to the
treatment I recommended.

I spent a whole week here, for the fishermen were unsuccessful, and
for five days no Peixe boi appeared. I however had plenty to do, as
I skinned a small turtle and a “matamatá” (_Chelys Matamata_), that
Senhor João gave me. This is an extraordinary river-tortoise, with
a deeply-keeled and tubercled shell, and a huge flat broad head and
neck, garnished with curious lobed fleshy appendages; the nostrils are
prolonged into a tube,—giving the animal altogether a most singular
appearance. Some of our Indians went every day to fish, and I several
times sent the net, and thus procured many new species to figure and
describe, which kept me pretty constantly at work, the intervals being
filled up by visits to my patient, eating water-melons, and drinking
coffee. This is a fine locality for fish, and as far as they are
concerned I should have liked to stay a month or two, as there were
many curious and interesting species to be found here, which I had not
yet obtained.

At length one morning the Peixi boi we had been so long expecting,
arrived. It had been caught the night before, with a net, in a lake
at some distance. It was a nearly full-grown male, seven feet long
and five in circumference. By the help of a long pole and cords
four Indians carried it to a shed, where it was laid on a bed of
palm-leaves, and two or three men set to work skinning it; I myself
operating on the paddles and the head, where the greatest delicacy is
required, which the Indians are not accustomed to. After the skin was
got off, a second operation was gone through, to take away the layer
of fat beneath it, with which to fry the meat I intended to preserve;
the inside was then taken out, and the principal mass of meat at once
obtained from the belly, back, and sides of the tail. This was all
handed over to Senhor João, who undertook to prepare it for me; his
men being used to the work, from having some scores to operate upon
every year. My Indians then cut away the remaining meat from the ribs,
head, and arms for their own panellas, and in a very short time left
the skeleton tolerably bare. All this time I was at work myself at the
paddles, and looking on to see that no bones were injured or carried
away. I separated the skeleton into convenient pieces for entering into
the barrel, cleaned out the spinal marrow, cleared off some more of
the meat, and having sprinkled it over with salt, put it with the skin
into the barrel to drain for the night, and left the Indians to make a
good supper, and stuff themselves till contented. The next day, after
arranging the skin and the bones afresh, I with some trouble fastened
in the head of the barrel, when I found the brine that was in it oozing
out in every direction, and soon discovered that the cask was riddled
by little wood-boring beetles. The holes seemed innumerable, but I
immediately set to work with two of my Indians, stopping them up with
little wooden pegs. We were occupied at this some hours, and had pegged
up I don’t know how many hundred holes, till we could not by the
closest examination discover any more. A huge pan of brine had been
made by dissolving salt in boiling water, and as some of it was now
cool I commenced filling with a funnel; when instantly, notwithstanding
all our labour, out trickled the liquid by a dozen unperceived holes,
most of them situated close to, or beneath the hoops. These last could
not be plugged, so I pushed in tow and rag under the hoops, to be
afterwards pitched over. With the filling and plugging we were occupied
all day; holes constantly appearing in fresh places and obstinately
refusing to be stopped. Nothing would adhere to the wet surface, so
the upper part of the cask had to be dried, covered with pitch, then
with cloth, and then again well pitched over. Then rolling over the
barrel, another leaky portion was brought to the top, and treated in
the same manner. After great labour, all seemed complete, yet numerous
little streams still appeared; but as they were very small, and their
sources quite undiscoverable, I left them in despair, trusting that
the salt or the swelling of the wood would stop them. By the time I
got the cask carried up to the house and deposited in charge of Senhor
João till my return, it was dusk: and so finished two most disagreeable
days’ work with the Peixe boi. Senhor João had prepared me a pot of
meat and sausages preserved in the oil, which I embarked, and got all
ready to leave the next morning, as I had now been delayed a week of
most valuable time. I left him also a box containing four species of
turtles, which I had stuffed here and on my voyage.

Continuing our journey, nothing particular occurred but several
storms of rain and wind, accompanied with thunder, which sometimes
retarded us, and sometimes helped us on. Many of them were complete
hurricanes, the wind shifting round suddenly, through every point of
the compass; so that, if our little canoe had not been well ballasted
with her cargo of salt and iron, she would have capsized. Once, in
particular, at about four in the morning, we experienced one of these
storms in a wide part of the river, where the waves raised were very
great, and tossed us about violently. A sudden shift of the wind took
our sail aback, and we had great difficulty in getting it in. The
rain was driving thickly against us, and rendered it bitterly cold;
our montaría, which was towed astern, got water-logged,—plunged, and
dashed against the canoe,—tore out its benches, and lost its paddles.
I gave orders to cast it loose, thinking it impossible to save it;
but the Indians thought otherwise, for one of them plunged in after
it, and succeeded in guiding it to the shore, where we also with much
difficulty arrived, and managed to fasten our bows to some bushes, and
get a rope out from our stern to a tree growing in the water, so as to
prevent the canoe from getting broadside to the waves, which rolled in
furiously, keeping one of our men constantly baling out water; and thus
we waited for daylight. I then gave the men a cup of caxaça each; and
when the sea had subsided sufficiently to allow of rowing, we continued
our passage. These storms are the only things that make travelling
here disagreeable: they are very frequent, but each succeeding one,
instead of reconciling me to them, made me more fearful than before.
It is by no means an uncommon thing for canoes to be swamped by
them, or dashed to pieces on the sands; and the Rio Negro has such a
disagreeable notoriety for the suddenness and fury of its trovoádos,
that many persons will never put up a sail when there is a sign of one
approaching, but seek some safe port, to wait till it has passed.

On November 12th I reached the sitio of Senhor Chágas, where I stopped
for the night: he gave me some letters to take up to São Gabriel, and
just as I was going, requested me, as a favour, to tell everybody
that I had not found him at his sitio, but that he was gone to the
“mato” to get salsa. As I was on familiar terms with him, I told him
that really I was very sorry I could not oblige him, but that, as I
was not accustomed to lying, I should be found out immediately if
I attempted it: he however insisted that I might surely try, and I
should soon learn to lie as well as the best of them. So I told him
at once, that in my country a liar was considered as bad as a thief;
at which he seemed rather astonished. I gave him a short account of
the pillory, as a proof of how much our ancestors detested lying and
perjury, which much edified him, and he called his son (a nice boy of
twelve or fourteen, just returned from school), to hear and profit
by the example; showing, I think, that the people here are perfectly
aware of the moral enormity of the practice, but that constant habit
and universal custom, and above all, that false politeness which
renders them unable verbally to deny anything, has rendered it almost a
necessary evil. Any native of the country would have instantly agreed
to Senhor Chágas’s request, and would then have told every one of it up
the river, always begging them not to say he told them,—thus telling a
lie for themselves instead of for Senhor Chágas.

The next morning I reached Wanawáca, the sitio of Manoel Jacinto,
and staid to breakfast with him, luxuriating in milk with my coffee,
and “coalhado,” or curdled milk, pine-apple, and pacovas with
cheese,—luxuries which, though every one might have, are seldom met
with in the Rio Negro. His sitio is, perhaps, the prettiest on the
river; and this, simply because there is an open space of grass around
the house, with some forest and fruit-trees scattered about it,
affording shade for the cattle and sheep, and a most agreeable relief
to the eye, long fatigued with eternal forest.

When I consider the excessively small amount of labour required in this
country, to convert the virgin forest into green meadows and fertile
plantations, I almost long to come over with half-a-dozen friends,
disposed to work, and enjoy the country; and show the inhabitants how
soon an earthly paradise might be created, which they have never even
conceived capable of existing.

It is a vulgar error, copied and repeated from one book to another,
that in the tropics the luxuriance of the vegetation overpowers the
efforts of man. Just the reverse is the case: nature and the climate
are nowhere so favourable to the labourer, and I fearlessly assert,
that here, the “primeval” forest, can be converted into rich pasture
and meadow land, into cultivated fields, gardens, and orchards,
containing every variety of produce, with half the labour, and, what is
of more importance, in less than half the time than would be required
at home, even though there we had clear, instead of forest ground
to commence upon. It is true that ground once rudely cleared, in the
manner of the country, by merely cutting down the wood and burning
it as it lies, will, if left to itself, in a single year, be covered
with a dense shrubby vegetation; but if the ground is cultivated and
roughly weeded, the trunks and stumps will have so rotted in two or
three years, as to render their complete removal an easy matter, and
then a fine crop of grass succeeds; and, with cattle upon it, no
more care is required, as no shrubby vegetation again appears. Then,
whatever fruit-trees are planted will reach a large size in five or
six years, and many of them give fruit in two or three. Coffee and
cacao both produce abundantly with the minimum of attention; orange
and other fruit-trees are never done anything to, but, if pruned,
would no doubt yield fruit of a superior quality, in greater quantity.
Pine-apples, melons, and water-melons are planted, and when ripe the
fruit is gathered, there being no intermediate process whatever. Indian
corn and rice are treated nearly in the same manner. Onions, beans,
and many other vegetables, thrive luxuriantly. The ground is never
turned up, and manure never applied; if both were done, it is probable
that the labour would be richly repaid. Cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs
may be had to any extent; nobody ever gives them anything to eat, and
they always do well. Poultry of all kinds thrive. Molasses may be
easily made in any quantity, for cane put into the ground grows, and
gives no trouble; and I do not see why the domestic process used in
the United States for making maple-sugar should not be applied here.
Now, I unhesitatingly affirm, that two or three families, containing
half-a-dozen working and industrious men and boys, and being able to
bring a capital in goods of fifty pounds, might, in three years, find
themselves in the possession of all I have mentioned. Supposing them
to get used to the mandiocca and Indian-corn bread, they would, with
the exception of clothing, have no one necessary or luxury to purchase:
they would be abundantly supplied with pork, beef and mutton, poultry,
eggs, butter, milk and cheese, coffee and cacao, molasses and sugar;
delicious fish, turtles and turtles’ eggs, and a great variety of game,
would furnish their table with constant variety, while vegetables would
not be wanting, and fruits, both cultivated and wild, in superfluous
abundance, and of a quality that none but the wealthy of our land can
afford. Oranges and lemons, figs and grapes, melons and water-melons,
jack-fruits, custard-apples, pine-apples, cashews, alligator pears, and
mammee apples are some of the commonest, whilst numerous palm and other
forest fruits furnish delicious drinks, which everybody soon gets very
fond of. Both animal and vegetable oils can be procured in abundance
for light and cooking. And then, having provided for the body, what
lovely gardens and shady walks might not be made! How easy to construct
a natural orchid-house, beneath a clump of forest-trees, and collect
the most beautiful species found in the neighbourhood! What elegant
avenues of palms might be formed! What lovely climbers abound, to train
over arbours, or up the walls of the house!

In the whole Amazon, no such thing as neatness or cultivation has ever
been tried. Walks, and avenues, and gardens have never been made; but I
can imagine how much beauty and variety might be called into existence
from the gloomy monotony of the forest.

  “England! my heart is truly thine,—my loved, my native earth!”

But the idea of the glorious life which might be led here, free from
all the money-matter cares and annoyances of civilization, make me
sometimes doubt, if it would not be wiser to bid thee adieu for ever,
and come and live a life of ease and plenty in the Rio Negro.

This district is superior to any other part of the Amazon, and perhaps
any other part of Brazil, in having a climate free from long droughts.
In fact, the variableness of rain and sunshine, all the year round, is
as great as in England itself; but it is this very thing which produces
a perennial verdure. There are parts of the Rio Negro where the turtle,
the peixe boi, and all sorts of fish abound; advantages, for which many
persons endure the tormenting “carapanás” of the Solimões, but which
can be had here without any insect torment, and with a far superior
climate for agricultural purposes.

All cultivated products of the soil are so scarce, that they meet
with a ready sale at good prices, not only in the city of Barra, but
also to passing traders, who have no time or means for cultivating
them themselves. Tobacco, coffee, molasses, cotton, castor-oil, rice,
maize, eggs, poultry, salt-meat, and fish, all kinds of oils, cheese,
and butter, can always be sold,—the supply being invariably below the
demand,—and, besides providing clothing and other extras, which in this
climate are a mere trifle, might be made to produce a handsome profit.
To do all this, requires some experience and some industry; but not a
tithe of either, which are necessary to get a bare living at home.

Leaving this pleasant place about midday, we proceeded slowly on.
One of my best Indians fell ill of fever and ague; and, a few days
after, another was attacked. It was in vain attempting, at any sitio
or village, to get men to help me on the rest of my voyage; no offer
of extra wages would induce them to leave their houses; all had some
excuse of occupation or illness, so we were forced to creep on as
well as we could. Two days below the Falls, I bought a smaller canoe
of a Portuguese trader, to ascend the Uaupés, and moved my cargo into
it, leaving that of Senhor Lima with the 1 other canoe, to be sent
for afterwards. At Camanaú, I with much difficulty, and some delay,
procured a pilot and another Indian, to go with me to São Gabriel.
There, after another day’s delay, I found two Indians, who agreed to go
as far as São Joaquim; and after keeping me waiting three or four hours
beyond the time appointed, absconded at night from the sitio where we
slept, having been previously paid double wages for the whole distance.
Here, however, I was lucky enough to get three more in place of the two
rogues; but as another of my Indians had now fallen ill, we still had
few enough for passing the numerous rapids and rocks with which the
river is obstructed.

One day we found, coiled up on the bank, a large Sucurujú, the first
large snake I had met with, and as I was very anxious to secure it,
to preserve the skin, I loaded my gun, and telling my Indians not to
let it escape, fired. It remained motionless some time, as if stunned
by the shock, and then slowly began to uncoil, turning its head down
towards the water, but evidently so much injured, as to be unable to
move its body on land. In vain I cried to the Indians to secure it:
the pilot had been severely bitten by one some time before, and was
afraid; and so, instead of obeying me, they kept striking it with a
thick stick, which only hastened its descent down the bank into the
water, where, sinking to the bottom among dead trees, it was quite out
of our power. As near as I could judge, the snake was fifteen or twenty
feet long, and as thick as my thigh. At São Gabriel I saw also, on the
rocks, asleep, one of the most deadly serpents of South America, the
Surucucú (_Lachesis mutus_). It is very handsomely marked with rich
umber-brown, and armed with terrific poison-fangs, two on each side; it
is much dreaded, as its bite is said to be incurable.

On leaving São Gabriel I was again attacked with fever, and on
arriving at São Joaquim I was completely laid up. My Indians took
the opportunity to steal a quantity of the caxaça I had brought for
preserving the fishes, and anything else they could lay their hands on;
so I was glad, on the occasion of a slight remission of the fever, to
pay their wages and send them off. After a few days, the violence of
the fever abated, and I thought I was going to get over it very easily;
but such was not the case, for every alternate day I experienced a
great depression, with disinclination to motion: this always followed a
feverish night, in which I could not sleep. The next night I invariably
slept well perspiring profusely, and, the succeeding day, was able to
move about, and had a little appetite. The weakness and fever however
increased, till I was again confined to my rede,—could eat nothing, and
was so torpid and helpless, that Senhor L., who attended me, did not
expect me to live. I could not speak intelligibly, and had not strength
to write, or even to turn over in my hammock. A few days after this, I
was attacked with severe ague, which recurred every two days. I took
quinine for some time without any apparent effect, till, after nearly a
fortnight, the fits ceased, and I only suffered from extreme emaciation
and weakness. In a few days, however, the fits of ague returned, and
now came every day. Their visits, thus frequent, were by no means
agreeable; as, what with the succeeding fever and perspiration, which
lasted from before noon till night, I had little quiet repose. In this
state I remained till the beginning of February, the ague continuing,
but with diminished force; and though with an increasing appetite, and
eating heartily, yet gaining so little strength, that I could with
difficulty stand alone, or walk across the room with the assistance of
two sticks. The ague, however, now left me, and in another week, as I
could walk with a stick down to the river-side, I went to São Gabriel,
to see Mr. Spruce, who had arrived there, and had kindly been to see
me a short time before. I purchased some wine and biscuits of the
Commandante, and then returned to São Joaquim, determined, though the
wet season was now again beginning, to set off for the Upper Uaupés, as
soon as I could procure men, and get my canoe ready.

                             CHAPTER XII.

                     THE CATARACTS OF THE UAUPÉS.

  Start for the Uaupés—São Jeronymo and Jauarité—Indians run
    away—Numerous cataracts—Reach Carurú—Difficult passage—Painted
    Malocca—Devil Music—More falls—Ocokí—Curious rocks—Reach
    Uarucapurí—Cobeu Indians—Reach Mucúra—An Indian’s house
    and family—Height above the sea—Tenente Jesuino—Return to
    Uarucapurí—Indian prisoners—Voyage to Jauarité—Correcting the
    calendar—Delay at São Jeronymo.

At length, on February 16th, two months and twenty-three days after
my arrival at São Joaquim, I left on my voyage up the Uaupés. I was
still so weak, that I had great difficulty in getting in and out of
the canoe; but I thought I should be as well there, as confined in the
house; and as I now longed more than ever to return home, I wished
first to make this voyage, and get a few living birds and animals to
take with me. I had seven Uaupés Indians, that Senhor L. had brought
from São Jeronymo, in order to take me up the river. Three more, who
had already received payment for the voyage, did not appear; and,
though they knew very well the time of my leaving, had fixed on that
very day to give a feast of fish and caxirí. Antonio, my former pilot
to Barra, was one. I met him coming to the village from his sitio, and
he flatly refused to come with me, unless I waited some days more for
him; I therefore made him send his Macu boy, João, instead, to go and
return, and so pay for what both owed. This he did, and we went on
our way rejoicing, for Antonio was what they call an Indian “ladino,”
or crafty; he could speak Portuguese, and, strongly suspecting him of
being an expert thief, I was not sorry to be without his company.

On Saturday evening, the 21st, we arrived at São Jeronymo, where I was
cordially received by Senhor Augustinho. The next day was occupied in
paying my men, and sending for Bernardo to conduct my canoe up the
falls, and get me more Indians for the voyage.

On Monday he arrived, and I let him take the canoe, but did not go
with him, as, for some days past, the ague had again attacked me,
and this was the day of the fit; so I sent the two guardas, my head
men, who could speak Portuguese, to take charge of the canoe and
cargo, and remained myself till the next day. In the evening a small
trader arrived from above, very tipsy, and an Indian informed Senhor
Augustinho that it was with my caxaça, which the men whom I had brought
specially to take charge of my cargo, had opened. This I next day found
to be the case, as the seals had been broken, and clumsily refastened
with a burning stick. These men were half-civilized Indians, who came
with me as hunters, to interpret for me with the Indians and take
charge of my goods, on account of which I paid them extra wages. They
ate with me, and did not row with the other Indians; but the temptation
of being left alone for nearly a day, with a garrafão of caxaça, was
too strong for them. Of course I passed all over in silence, appearing
to be perfectly ignorant of what had taken place, as, had I done
otherwise, they would probably both have left me, after having received
the greater part of their payment beforehand, and I should have been
unable to proceed on my voyage.

With Bernardo’s assistance, I soon got ten paddles in my canoe; and
having paid most of them out of my stock of axes, mirrors, knives,
beads, etc., we went along very briskly to Jauarité, where we arrived
on the morning of the 28th. I was anxious to pass the caxoeira
immediately, but was delayed,—paying two Indians, who left me here,
and procuring others; so my ague fit fell upon me before we left the
village, and I was very weak and feverish when we went to pass the
falls. We unloaded the whole of the cargo, which had to be carried a
considerable distance through the forest; and even then, pulling the
canoe up the falls was a matter of great difficulty. There are two
falls, at some distance from each other, which make the land-carriage
very long.

We then re-embarked, when Bernardo coolly informed me that he could
go no further, after having received payment for the whole voyage.
His brother, he said, should go in his place; and when I returned, he
would pay me what he owed me. So I was forced to make the best of it;
but shortly after I found that his brother would only go to Jacaré
caxoeira, and thus I was a second time deceived.

On starting, I missed João, and found that he had left us in the
village, telling the guardas that he had only agreed with me to come
so far, and they had never said a word to me about it till now, that
it was too late. Antonio’s debt therefore still remained unpaid, and
was even increased by a knife which João had asked for, and I had given
him, in order that he might go on the voyage satisfied.

The river now became full of rocks, to a degree to which even the
rockiest part of the Rio Negro was a trifle. All were low, and
apparently covered at high-water, while numbers more remained below the
surface, and we were continually striking against them. That afternoon
we passed four more falls, the “Uacú” (a fruit), “Uacará” (Egret),
“Mucúra” (Opossum), and “Japóna” (oven) caxoeiras. At Uacará there was
a malocca of the same name; and at Japóna another, where we passed
the night. All these rapids we ascended without unloading; but the
Uacará was very bad, and occasioned us much trouble and delay. The next
morning, when about to start, we found that another Indian was missing:
he had absconded in the night, and it was useless attempting to seek
him, though we knew he had gone to Uacará Malocca, where he wished to
stay the day before, but where all knowledge of him would be denied,
and he well hidden, had we returned to fetch him. He was one who had
received full payment, making three who had already gone away in my
debt; a not very encouraging beginning for my voyage.

We passed the “Tyeassu” (Pig) caxoeira early, and then had a good
stretch of quiet water till midday, when we reached the “Oomarie” (a
fruit) caxoeira, where there is a sitio. Here we dined off a fine fresh
Tucunaré, which an old man sold me; and I agreed with his son, by the
temptation of an axe, to go with me. We pulled the canoe up this rapid
without unloading, which is seldom done, except when the river is low,
as it now was. The rest of the day we had quiet water, and stopped at a
rock to make our supper and sleep.

_March 1st._—We passed the “Macáco” (monkey) caxoeira early. The
rocks here, and particularly about Oomarie caxoeira, were so full of
parallel veins, as to give them the appearance of being stratified and
thrown up nearly vertically; whereas they are granitic, and similar to
those we had already seen. We then soon reached the “Irá” (Honey) and
“Baccába” (a Palm) caxoeiras; at both of which there are figures or
picture-writings on the rocks, which I staid to sketch. In passing the
latter rapid, we knocked off one of the false keels I had had put to
the canoe previous to starting, to preserve the bottom in the centre,
where it was worn very thin by being dragged over the rocks by its
former owner. We therefore stopped at a sand-bank, unloaded the canoe,
and plugged up the nail-holes, which were letting in water very fast.

The next day we passed in succession the “Arára Mirí” (Little Macaw),
“Tamaquerié” (Gecko), “Paroquet,” “Japoó” (a bird), “Arára” (Macaw),
“Tatú” (Armadillo), “Amána” (Rain), “Camóa”(?), “Yauti” (Tortoise);
and, finally, about three P.M., arrived at “Carurú” (a water-plant)
caxoeira. The last five of these, before arriving at Carurú, were
exceedingly bad; the passage being generally in the middle of the
river, among rocks, where the water rushes furiously. The falls were
not more than three or four feet each; but, to pull a loaded canoe up
these, against the foaming waters of a large river, was a matter of
the greatest difficulty for my dozen Indians, their only resting-place
being often breast-deep in water, where it was a matter of wonder that
they could stand against the current, much less exert any force to pull
the canoe. At Arára fall, the general passage is over the dry rock,
and we unloaded for that purpose; but all the efforts of the Indians
could not get the heavy canoe up the steep and rugged ascent which
was the only pathway. Again and again they exerted themselves, but to
no purpose; and I was just sending by an old man, who was passing in
a small canoe, to Carurú for assistance, when he suggested that by
getting a long sipó (the general cable in these rivers) we might obtain
a good purchase, to pull the canoe up the margin of the fall, which we
had previously tried without success. We accordingly did so, and by
great exertions the difficulty was passed,—much to my satisfaction, as
sending to Carurú would have occasioned a great and very annoying delay.

The river from Jauarité may be said to average about a third of a mile
wide, but the bends and turns are innumerable; and at every rapid it
almost always spreads out into such deep bays, and is divided into
channels by so many rocks and islands, as to make one sometimes think
that the water is suddenly flowing back in a direction contrary to
that it had previously been taking. Carurú caxoeira itself is greater
than any we had yet seen,—rushing amongst huge rocks down a descent
of perhaps fifteen or twenty feet. The only way of passing this, was
to pull the canoe over the dry rock, which rose considerably above the
level of the water, and was rather rugged, being interrupted in places
by breaks or steps two or three feet high. The canoe was accordingly
unloaded, quantities of poles and branches cut and laid in the path to
prevent the bottom being much injured by the rocks, and a messenger
sent to the village on the other side of the river, to request the
Tushaúa to come with plenty of men to our assistance. He soon arrived
with eleven Indians, and all hands set to work pushing the canoe, or
pulling at the sipós; and even then, the strength of five-and-twenty
persons could only move it by steps, and with great difficulty.
However, it was at length passed, and we then proceeded to the village,
where the Tushaúa lent us a house.

The canoe was so weak in the bottom in one place, that I was fearful
of some accident in my descent, so I determined to stay here two or
three days, to cut out the weak part and put in a strong board. I now
also saw that this canoe was much too heavy to proceed further up the
river, as at many of the falls there was no assistance to be obtained,
even in places as difficult to pass as Carurú; so I opened negotiations
to purchase a very large “obá” of the Tushaúa, which, before leaving,
I effected for an axe, a shirt and trowsers, two cutlasses, and some
beads. We were delayed here five entire days, owing to the difficulty
of finding a tree of good wood, sufficiently large to give a board
of twelve or fourteen inches wide; and at last I was obliged to be
content with two narrow boards, clumsily inserted, rather than be
exposed to more delay.

There was a large malocca here, and a considerable number of houses.
The front of the malocca was painted very tastefully in diamonds and
circles, with red, yellow, white, and black. On the rocks were a series
of strange figures, of which I took a sketch. The Indians were of
the “Ananás” or Pine-apple tribe; I bought some dresses and feather
ornaments of them; and fish, mandiocca-cakes, etc., were brought me
in considerable quantities, the articles most coveted in return being
fishhooks and red beads, of both of which I had a large stock. Just
below the fall, the river is not more than two or three hundred yards
wide; while above, it is half a mile, and contains several large

The large black pacu was abundant here, and, with other small fish, was
generally brought us in sufficient quantity to prevent our recurring to
fowls, which are considered by the traders to be the most ordinary fare
a man can live on. I now ate for the first time the curious river-weed,
called carurú, that grows on the rocks. We tried it as a salad, and
also boiled with fish; and both ways it was excellent;—boiled, it much
resembled spinach.

Here, too, I first saw and heard the “Juriparí,” or Devil-music of the
Indians. One evening there was a caxirí-drinking; and a little before
dusk, a sound as of trombones and bassoons was heard coming on the
river towards the village, and presently appeared eight Indians, each
playing on a great bassoon-looking instrument. They had four pairs,
of different sizes, and produced a wild and pleasing sound. They
blew them all together, tolerably in concert, to a simple tune, and
showed more taste for music than I had yet seen displayed among these
people. The instruments are made of bark spirally twisted, and with a
mouthpiece of leaves.

In the evening I went to the malocca, and found two old men playing on
the largest of the instruments. They waved them about in a singular
manner, vertically and sideways, accompanied by corresponding
contortions of the body, and played a long while in a regular tune,
accompanying each other very correctly. From the moment the music
was first heard, not a female, old or young, was to be seen; for it
is one of the strangest superstitions of the Uaupés Indians, that
they consider it so dangerous for a woman ever to see one of these
instruments, that having done so is punished with death, generally by
poison. Even should the view be perfectly accidental, or should there
be only a suspicion that the proscribed articles have been seen, no
mercy is shown; and it is said that fathers have been the executioners
of their own daughters, and husbands of their wives, when such has been
the case. I was of course anxious to purchase articles to which such
curious customs belong, and spoke to the Tushaúa on the subject. He at
length promised to sell them to me on my return, stipulating that they
were to be embarked at some distance from the village, that there might
be no danger of their being seen by the women.

On the morning previous to that on which we were to leave, two more of
our Indians who had received full payment on starting, were discovered
to have left us. They had taken possession of a canoe, and absconded
in the night; leaving me no remedy, but the chance of finding them in
their houses on my return, and the still more remote chance of their
having anything to pay me with.

The Indians here have but little characteristic distinction from those
below. The women wear more beads around their necks and arms. The
lower lip is often pierced, and two or three little strings of white
beads inserted; but as the nations are so mixed by intermarriages,
this custom is probably derived from the Tucanos. Some of the women
and children wore two garters, one above the ankle and one below the
knee—swelling out the calf enormously, which they consider a very great
beauty. I did not see here so many long tails of hair; most of the men
having probably been to the Rio Negro with some trader, and thence worn
their hair like Christians; or perhaps because the last Tushaúa was a
“homen muito civilizado” (a very well-bred person).

After four days’ delay, we at length started, with a comparatively
small complement of Indians, but with some extra ones to assist us in
passing several caxoeiras, which occur near at hand. These are the
“Piréwa” (Wound), “Uacorouá” (Goat-sucker), “Maniwára” (White Ant),
“Matapí” (Fish-trap), “Amána” (Rain), “Tapíracúnga” (Tapir’s head),
“Tapíra eura” (Tapir’s mouth), and “Jacaré” (Alligator). Three of these
were very bad, the canoe having to be unloaded entirely, and pulled
over the dry and uneven rocks. The last was the highest; the river
rushing furiously about twenty feet down a rugged slope of rock. The
loading and unloading of the canoe three or four times in the course
of as many hours, is a great annoyance. Baskets of farinha and salt,
of mandiocca-cakes and pacovas, are strewn about. Panellas are often
broken; and when there comes a shower of rain, everything has to be
heaped together in a hurry,—palm-leaves cut, and the more perishable
articles covered; but boxes, redes, and numerous other articles are
sure to be wetted, and very uncomfortable when again placed, with
equal hurry and confusion, in the canoe. If I had birds or insects out
drying, they were sure to be tumbled, or blown by the wind, or wetted
by the rain, and the same fate was shared by my note-books and papers.
Articles in boxes, unless packed tight, were shaken and rumpled by not
being carried evenly; so that it was an excellent practice of patience,
to bear all with philosophical serenity. We had passed all these falls
by midday; and at night slept on a rock, where was a small rapid, and a
house without inhabitants.

On the 8th we had tolerably quiet water, with only two small rapids,
the “Taiéna” (Child), and “Paroquet” caxoeiras. On the 9th, in the
morning, we reached the “Pacu” fall, and then had a quiet stream,
though full of rocks, till the afternoon, when we passed the “Macucú”
(a tree), “Ananás” (Pine-apple), and “Uacú” (a fruit) caxoeiras; all
very bad and difficult ones. We had left Carurú with very little
farinha, as none was to be had there, and we had seen no inhabited
sitios where any could be purchased; so the Indians were now on short
allowance of “beijú,” which they had brought with them. Of a passing
Indian I bought a basket of Ocokí, and some fish. The Ocokí is a large
pear-shaped fruit, with a hard thick outer skin of almost a woody
texture, then a small quantity of very sweet pulpy matter, and within a
large black oval stone. The pulp is very luscious, but is so acrid as
to make the mouth and throat sore, if more than two or three are eaten.
When however the juice is boiled, it loses this property; and when
made into mingau with tapioca, is exceedingly palatable, and generally
highly esteemed in the Upper Rio Negro, where it is abundant. It takes
at least a peck of fruit, to give one small panella of mingau.

On the next day, the 10th, in the afternoon, the Indians all suddenly
sprang like otters into the water, swam to the shore, and disappeared
in the forest. “Ocokí,” was the answer to my inquiries as to the cause
of their sudden disappearance; and I soon found they had discovered an
ocokí-tree, and were loading themselves with the fruit to satisfy the
cravings of hunger, for an Indian’s throat and mouth seem invulnerable
to all those scarifying substances which act upon civilized man. The
tree is one of the loftiest in the forest, but the fruit falls as soon
as ripe, and its hard woody coating preserves it from injury. Baskets,
shirts, trowsers, etc., were soon filled with the fruit and emptied
into the canoe; and I made each of the Indians bring a small basketful
for me; so that we had “mingau de ocokí” for three succeeding mornings.

The rocks from Carurú often present a scoriaceous appearance, as if
the granite had been remelted. Sometimes they are a mass of burnt
fragments, sometimes a honeycombed rock with a shining surface. In
some places there are enclosed fragments of a finer-grained rock,
apparently sandstone, and numerous veins and dykes, which often cross
each other in three or four sets. The rocks are, in many places, so
broken and cleft vertically, as to appear stratified and thrown up on
end. The rounded form and concentric arrangement, observed in the Rio
Negro, is here also constantly met with. The interstices of the rounded
and angular masses of rock are often filled with a curious volcanic
substance, which outwardly resembles pitch, but consists of scoriæ,
sand, clays, etc., variously cemented together.

On the 10th we passed the “Tapioca,” “Tucáno” (Toucan), “Tucunaré”
(a fish), “Uaracú piními” (a fish), and “Tyeassú” (Pig) caxoeiras.
The first was very bad, and both difficult and dangerous to pass; it
consisted of many distinct falls among huge masses of rock. At one
place the canoe remained stuck fast, amidst foaming waters, on the very
edge of a fall, for nearly an hour; all the efforts of the Indians
could not move it forward. They heaved it over from one side to the
other, but with no effect; till I began to despair of getting out of
the difficulty before night. At last the canoe suddenly moved on, with
apparently not so much force as had been before applied to it; but
my Indians, being of several nations, did not understand any common
language, and it was impossible to get them to act in concert, or obey
any leader. It was probably some chance combination of forces, that
at last extricated us from our unpleasant situation. At this fall,
on the rocks, were very numerous figures, or picture-writings, and I
stopped to make drawings of them; of which I had by this time a rather
extensive collection.

The next three falls were small rapids; but the last, which we reached
late in the evening, was fearful. The river makes a sudden bend, and is
confined in a very narrow channel, which is one confused mass of rocks
of every size and shape, piled on one another, and heaped up in the
greatest possible confusion. Every stone which rises above high-water
mark, is covered with vegetation; and among the whole the river
rushes and foams, so as to make the task of pilot one of no ordinary
difficulty. Just as it was getting dark, we passed out of these gloomy
narrows into a wider and more cheerful part of the river, and staid at
a rock to sup and sleep.

On the 11th, early, we reached Uarucapurí, where are a village and
several maloccas. The first which we entered was inhabited by people
of the Cobeu nation. There were about a dozen handsome men, all
clean-limbed and well painted, with armlets and necklaces of white
beads, and with the ears plugged with a piece of wood the size of a
common bottle-cork, to the end of which was glued a piece of porcelain
presenting a white shining surface. We agreed with these men to help to
pass our canoe up the falls, and then proceeded with our walk through
the village. My old friend Senhor Chágas was here, and with him I
breakfasted off a fine pirahíba, which his men had caught that morning,
and which was the first I had eaten since my illness.

With some difficulty I succeeded in buying two or three baskets of
farinha; and being anxious to get to my journey’s end, which was now
near at hand, about midday we proceeded. Our pilot and his son left
us, and we had now only six paddles; but four or five additional men
came with us to pass the remaining caxoeiras, which were near. Close
to the village, we passed the “Cururú” (a toad), and “Murucututú” (an
owl) falls, both rather bad; and, soon after, arrived at the “Uacorouá”
(Goatsucker), the last great fall on the river below the “Juruparí,”
which is many days further up. Here the river is precipitated over a
nearly vertical rock, about ten feet high, and much broken in places.
The canoe had to be entirely unloaded, and then pulled up over the
rocks on the margin of the fall, a matter of considerable difficulty.
To add to our discomfort, a shower of rain came on while the canoe was
passing; and the Indians, as usual, having scattered the cargo about in
great confusion, it had to be huddled together and covered with mats
and palm-leaves, till the shower, which was luckily a short one, passed
over. Loading again and proceeding onwards, we passed three small
rapids, the “Tatu” (Armadillo), “Ocokí” (a fruit), and “Piranterá” (a
fish) caxoeiras; and our additional Indians here left us, with their
payment of fish-hooks and arrow-heads, as we now had only smooth water
before us. In the afternoon we passed a malocca, where one of the
Indians wished to land, to see his friends; and as we did not stay, at
night he took his departure, and we saw no more of him.

Early the next morning we reached Mucúra, where two young Brazilians,
whom I had met with below, were residing, trading for salsa. I was now
in the country of the painted turtle and the white umbrella-bird, and
I determined to make a stay of at least a fortnight, to try and obtain
these much-desired rarities.

Messrs. Nicoláu and Bellarmine were both out, and their little
palm-leaf huts were evidently quite inadequate to my accommodation.
The only other house was a small Indian malocca, also made entirely
of “palha;” and I agreed with the owner to let me have half of it,
giving him a small knife and mirror in payment, with which he was well
contented. We accordingly cleared and swept out our part of the house,
unloaded and arranged our things, and I then sent my guardas to a
malocca, about which were said to be plenty of Indians, to see if they
had any farinha or pacovas to dispose of; and also to let them know
that I would purchase birds, or fish, or any other animals they would
obtain for me. The men were all out; but the same afternoon they came
in great force to see the “Branco,” and make an attack on my fish-hooks
and beads, bringing me fish, pacovas, farinha, and mandiocca-cake, for
all of which one of these two articles was asked in exchange.

I was now settled at the limit of my expedition, for I could not think
of going a week further up only to see Juruparí caxoeira,—wasting the
little time I had to rest, before again descending. We had made a
favourable voyage, without any serious accident, up a river perhaps
unsurpassed for the difficulties and dangers of its navigation. We
had passed fifty caxoeiras, great and small; some mere rapids, others
furious cataracts, and some nearly perpendicular falls. About twenty
were rapids; up which, by the help of a long sipó attached to the
canoe, instead of a rope, we were pulled without much difficulty.
About eighteen were very bad and dangerous, requiring the canoe to
be partially unloaded where practicable, and all the exertions of my
Indians, often with additional assistance, to pass; and twelve were so
high and furious as to require the canoe to be entirely unloaded, and
either pulled over the dry and often very precipitous rocks, or with
almost equal difficulty up the margin of the fall. At Carurú, as I have
said, four-and-twenty men were scarcely able to pull my empty canoe
over the rock, though plentifully strewn with branches and bushes, to
smooth the asperities which would otherwise much damage the bottom:
this was the reason why I purchased the Tushaúa’s smaller obá, to
proceed; and it was well I did, or I might otherwise have had to return
without ever reaching the locality I had at length attained.

The next day, the 13th, I was employed figuring some new fish brought
me the preceding evening. My hunters went out and brought me nothing
but a common hawk. In the afternoon, the father and brother of the
Indian I had found in the house, arrived, with their wives and
families; so now, with my six Indians and two hunters, we were pretty
full; some of them however slept in a shed, and we were as comfortably
accommodated as could be expected. The wives of the father and two sons
were perfectly naked, and were, moreover, apparently quite unconscious
of the fact. The old woman possessed a “saía,” or petticoat, which she
sometimes put on, and seemed then almost as much ashamed of herself as
civilized people would be if they took theirs off. So powerful is the
effect of education and habit!

Having been told by Senhor Chágas that there was an excellent hunter in
the Codiarí, a river which enters from the north a short distance above
Mucúra, I sent Philippe, one of my guardas, to try and engage him, and
also to buy all the living birds and animals he could meet with. The
following day he returned, bringing with him one “Macaco barrigudo”
(_Lagothrix Humboldtii_), and a couple of parrots. On most days I had a
new fish or two to figure, but birds and insects were very scarce. This
day Senhor Nicoláu returned. On my first arrival, I had been told that
he had a “tataruga pintata” (painted turtle) for me, but that he would
give it me himself on his arrival; so I did not meddle with it, though
my Indians saw it in a “corrál,” in a small stream near the house. On
arriving, he sent to fetch it, but found it had escaped, though it had
been seen in its cage on the preceding day. I thus lost perhaps my
only chance of obtaining a much-desired and probably undescribed river
turtle, as the time of disovation was past, and they had now retired
into the lakes, and become very scarce and difficult to be met with.

As my Indians were here doing nothing, I sent three of them with
Sebastião up the Codiarí, with beads, hooks, mirrors, etc., to buy
monkeys, parrots, or whatever else they could meet with, as well as
some farinha, which I did not wish to be in want of again. I sent them
with instructions to go for five or six days, in order to reach the
last sitio, and purchase all that was to be had. In two days however
they returned, having been no further than Philippe had gone, Sebastião
saying that his companions would not go on. He brought me some parrots
and small birds, bows, bird-skins, and more farinha than my canoe would
carry, all purchased very dearly, judging by the remnant of articles
brought back.

Being now in a part of the country that no European traveller had
ever before visited, I exceedingly regretted my want of instruments
to determine the latitude, longitude, and height above the sea. The
two last I had no means whatever of ascertaining, having broken my
boiling-point thermometer, and lost my smaller one, without having been
able to replace either. I once thought of sealing up a flask of air,
by accurately weighing which on my return, the density of air at that
particular time would be obtained, and the height at which a barometer
would have stood might be deduced. But, besides that this would only
give a result equal to that of a single barometer observation, there
were insuperable difficulties in the way of sealing up the bottle,
for whether sealing-wax or pitch were used, or even should the bottle
be hermetically sealed, heat must be applied, and at the moment of
application would, of course, rarefy the air within the bottle, and
so produce in such a delicate operation very erroneous results. My
observations however on the heights of the falls we passed, would give
their sum as about two hundred and fifty feet; now if we add fifty for
the fall of the river between them, we shall obtain three hundred feet,
as the probable height of the point I reached above the mouth of the
river; and, as I have every reason to believe that that is not five
hundred feet above the sea, we shall obtain eight hundred feet as the
probable limit of the height of the river at the point I reached, above
the sea-level. Nothing however can accurately determine this fact, but
a series of barometer or “boiling-point” observations; and to determine
this height above the next great fall, and ascertain the true course
and sources of this little-known but interesting and important river,
would be an object worth the danger and expense of the voyage.

There is said to be a week’s smooth water above this place, to the
Juruparí caxoeira, which is higher than any below it; and above this no
other fall has been found, though traders have been ten or fifteen days
up. They say the river still keeps as wide or wider than below,—that
the water is as “white,” or muddy, as that of the Solimões,—that many
trees, birds, and fish peculiar to the Solimões are there found,—that
the Indians have Spanish knives, ponchos, and coins,—and relate that,
higher up, there are extensive “campos,” with cattle, and men on
horseback. All these interesting particulars seem to show that the
river has its sources in the great plains which extend to the base of
the Andes, somewhere near where the sources of the Guaviare are placed
in most maps; but which is, from all the information I can obtain, a
much smaller river, and rises at a much shorter distance. Having only
a pocket surveying sextant, without any means of viewing two objects
much differing in brilliancy, I endeavoured to obtain the latitude as
accurately as I could, first by means of the zenith-distance at noon,
obtained by a plumb-line and image of the sun, formed by a lens of
about fifteen inches focus; and afterwards, by the meridian altitude of
a star, obtained on a calm night, by reflection in a cuya of water. I
took much care to ensure an accurate result, and have every reason to
believe that the mean of the two observations will not be more than two
or three minutes from the truth.

My expectations of finding rare and handsome birds here were quite
disappointed. My hunter and Senhor Nicolau killed a few umbrella-birds,
of the Rio Negro species; but of the white bird, such contradictory
statements were given,—many knowing nothing whatever about it, others
saying that it was sometimes, but very rarely seen,—that I am inclined
to think it is a mere white variety, such as occurs at times with our
blackbirds and starlings at home, and as are sometimes found among
the curassow-birds and agoutis. Another bird, which I had been long
searching for, the “anambé de catinga,” a species of _Cyanurus_, was
here shot; and before leaving, I obtained four or five specimens of
it, and as many of the commoner black-headed species. One or two small
birds, new to me, were also obtained; and these, with two or three
scarce butterflies, and about a dozen new species of fish, composed my
natural-history collections in this remote and unvisited district. This
was entirely owing however to my unfortunate and unforeseen illness,
for birds in great variety had been very abundant, but the time of the
fruit was now over; fish and turtles, too, were in extraordinary plenty
at the commencement of the fall of the river, two months back; and
during that period, constituting the short summer in these districts,
while I lay half-dead at São Joaquim, insects were doubtless more

But as there was now no remedy, I made myself as contented as I could,
and endeavoured at least to complete my collection of the arms,
implements, and ornaments of the natives. The Indians here were mostly
“Cobeus,” and I obtained several of their peculiar ornaments and
dresses, to add to my collection. I also took advantage of the visit of
a Tushaúa, or chief, who well understood the Lingoa Geral, to obtain a
vocabulary of their language.

Just as I was about to leave on my voyage down, I received a note from
Senhor Chagas, requesting, in the name of Tenente Jesuino, the loan
of my canoe, to ascend higher up the river; which, as the time of his
stay was very uncertain, I was obliged to refuse. This Tenente, an
ignorant half-breed, was sent by the new Barra government to bring all
the Tushaúas, or chiefs, of the Uaupés and Isanna rivers to Barra, to
receive diplomas and presents. An Indian, sent by him, had arrived at
Carurú caxoeira, and wished to buy the obá of the Tushaúa, after I
had paid for and got possession of it, and even had the impudence to
request me to give it back again, in order that he might purchase or
borrow it; and my refusal was, of course, quite sufficient seriously to
offend the said Tenente.

On the 25th, having been just a fortnight at Mucúra, I left, much
disappointed with regard to the collections I had made there. The same
day I reached Uarucapurí, whence I could not proceed without a pilot,
as the falls below are very dangerous. There was hardly a male in the
village, Messrs. Jesuíno and Chagas having taken all with them up the
river, to assist in an attack on an Indian tribe, the “Carapanás,”
where they hoped to get a lot of women, boys, and children, to take as
presents to Barra. There was scarcely anything to be had to eat: fish
were not to be caught, though we sent our Indians out every day; and
though fowls were abundant, their owners were out, and those in charge
of them would not sell them. At length, after four days, I succeeded in
persuading the son of the Tushaúa to go with me as pilot to Jauarité,
he not being able to resist the knives, beads, and mirror, which I
spread out before him.

I had collected scarcely anything in this place, but a single specimen
of the beautiful and rare topaz-throated hummer (_Trochilus pyra_)
and a new butterfly of the genus _Callithea_. I heard of the handsome
bronze Jacana being found here, but my hunters searched for it in vain.

On the morning after we left, we saw a fine deer on a sand-bank near
us, so I sent Manoel into the forest to get behind it, while we
remained quietly watching from the canoe. After walking about the beach
a short time, it took to the water to cross the river, when we followed
in pursuit; and, notwithstanding its turnings and doublings, soon came
up,—when the poor animal was despatched by a blow on the head, and
pulled into the canoe. The Indians then went briskly on, rejoicing in
the certainty of a dinner for the next day or two, in which I heartily
joined them. At Tapioca caxoeira we staid two hours, to cook and salt
the deer, and descended the fall without any accident.

On April 1st we passed a host of falls, shooting most of them amidst
fearful waves and roaring breakers, and arrived safely at Carurú,
where the Tushaúa gave us his house; for, having two canoes, we were
obliged to wait to get more Indians. I was still too weak to go out
into the forest; and, besides, had my live stock to attend to, which
now consisted of four monkeys, about a dozen parrots, and six or
eight small birds. It was a constant trouble to get food for them in
sufficient variety, and to prevent them from escaping. Most of the
birds are brought up without being confined, and if placed in a cage,
attempt constantly to get out, and refuse food, till they die; if,
on the other hand, they are loose, they wander about to the Indians’
houses, or into the forest, and are often lost. I here had two new
toldas made to my canoes, but all attempts to hire men were fruitless.
Fowls and fish were tolerably abundant, so we were better off than at

On the 4th, in the afternoon, Senhors Jesuino and Chagas arrived with a
whole fleet of canoes, and upwards of twenty prisoners, all, but one,
women and children. Seven men and one woman had been killed; the rest
of the men escaped; but only one of the attacking party was killed. The
man was kept bound, and the women and children well guarded, and every
morning and evening they were all taken down to the river to bathe. At
night there was abundance of caxirí and caxaça drunk, in honour of the
new comers, and all the inhabitants assembled in the great house. I
spoke to Jesuino about obtaining some Indians for me, which he promised
to do. Next morning however his first act was to summon my pilot, and
scold him for coming with me at all,—frightening the poor fellow so,
that he immediately went off with his father down the river. Before
he had left however, having been told by my guardas what was going
on, I applied to Jesuino about the matter, when he denied having said
anything to the pilot, but refused to call him back, or make him
fulfil his engagement with me. Soon after Jesuino left, having first
sent five Indians to take me to Jauarité; so I started immediately
after him. The men however had had instructions to go with me only a
short distance, and then leave me where I could not procure any more;
and about noon, much to my surprise, they got into a little obá, and
intimated their intention to return, saying that they had only been
told to come so far. I had overtaken Jesuino at this place, and now
appealed to him; but though the men would have immediately obeyed an
order from him, he refused to give it, telling me that he had put them
in my canoe, and now I must arrange with them as well as I could. I
accordingly told the Indians, that if they came on with me to Jauarité,
I would pay them well, but that, if they left me at this place, they
should not have a single fish-hook; but they knew very well what Senhor
Jesuino wanted, so without another word they paddled off, leaving me to
get on as I could. I had now only one man and one boy in each canoe,
to pass rapids which required six or eight good paddles to shoot with
safety; but staying here was useless, so we went on,—drifting down the
stream after Senhor Jesuino, who, no doubt, rejoiced in the idea that I
should probably lose my canoes, if not my life, in the caxoeiras, and
thought himself well revenged on the stranger, who had dared to buy the
canoe he had wanted to purchase.

In the afternoon we passed a caxoeira with considerable danger, and
then, luckily, persuaded some Indians at a sitio to come with us to
Jauarité. In the afternoon I staid at several houses, purchasing fowls,
parrots, bows and arrows, and feathers; and at one of them I found my
runaway pilot, and made him give me two baskets of farinha, instead of
the payment he had received for the voyage from Carurú to Jauarité.
At the last caxoeira, close to Jauarité, we were very near losing our
canoe, which was let down by a rope, I remaining in it; but just in
passing, it got twisted broadside, and the water rushing up from the
bottom, had the curious effect of pushing it up against the fall, where
it remained a considerable time completely on one side, and appearing
as if every minute it would turn over. However, at last it was got out,
and we reached the village, much to the surprise of Senhor Jesuino,
who had arrived there but a few hours before us. My friend Senhor
Augustinho, of São Jeronymo, was also there, and I spent the evening
pleasantly with them.

I found that we differed in our calculations of the date, there being a
day’s difference in our reckonings of the day of the week and the day
of the month. As I had been three months up the river, it was to be
supposed I was wrong; yet as I had kept a regular diary all the voyage,
I could not at all make out how I had erred. This however is a common
thing in these remote districts. When two parties meet, one going up
and the other coming down the river, the first inquiry of the latter,
after the usual compliments, is, “What day is it with you?” and it not
unfrequently happens, that there are three parties present, all of whom
make it different days; and then there is a comparison of authorities,
and a determination of past Saints’-days, in order to settle the
correction of the disputed calendar. When at Carurú, caxoeira, we
had found that Messrs. Jesuino and Chagas differed from us on this
important particular; but as they had been some time out, we thought
they might have erred as well as ourselves. Now however that Senhor
Augustinho, who had recently come from São Gabriel, whence he had
brought the correct date, agreed with them, there was no withstanding
such authority. A minute examination of my diary was made, and it was
then found that on our first stay at Carurú we had reckoned our delay
there as five days instead of six. The Indians generally keep accounts
of the time very accurately on a voyage, by cutting notches on a stick,
as boys do at school on the approach of the holidays. In our case,
however, even they were most of them wrong, for some of them agreed
with me, while others made a day in advance, and others again a day
behind us, so that we got completely confused. Sometimes the traders
residing at the Indian villages pass many months, without seeing a
person from any civilized part, and get two or three days out in their
reckonings. Even in more populous places, where all the inhabitants
depend on the priest or the commandante, errors have been made, and
Sundays and Saints’-days have been desecrated, while Mondays and common
days have been observed in their place, much to the horror of all good

The next morning I took a turn over the village,—bought some paroquets
and parrots, and some feather ornaments and small pots, of the
Tushaúa; and then, having nothing to keep me at Jauarité, and having
vainly endeavoured to get some Indians to go with me, I left for São
Jeronymo. On arriving at the first great fall of Pinupinú, we found
only one Indian, and were obliged to send to the village for more. That
afternoon they did not choose to come, and we lost a beautiful day. The
next morning, as was to be expected, commenced a soaking rain; but as
the Indians arrived we went on, and about noon, the rain clearing off a
little, we passed the fall of Panoré, and arrived safely at the village
of São Jeronymo. Here we disembarked, and unloaded our canoes, taking
possession of the doorless “casa da nação,” and made up our minds to
remain quietly till we should get men to go down the river.

The same afternoon Jesuino arrived, and the next morning left,—kindly
inquiring when I intended to proceed, and saying, he had spoken with
the Tushaúa to get me Indians. In two days however the Tushaúa also
left for Barra, without giving me a single Indian, notwithstanding the
promises and threats I had alternately employed.

The two Indians who had remained with me now left, and the two boys
who had come from São Joaquim ran away, leaving me alone in my glory,
with my two “guardas” and two canoes. In vain I showed my axes, knives,
beads, mirrors, and cloth, to every passing Indian; not one could be
induced to go with me, and I might probably have remained prisoner
there for months, had not Senhor Victorino, the “Juiz de Paz,” arrived,
and also Bernardo, my old pilot, who had left me at Jauarité, and had
now been down to São Joaquim. Between them, after a delay of several
more days, some Indians were persuaded to receive payment to go with me
as far Castanheiro, where I hoped to get Capitão Ricardo to order them
on to Barra.

                             CHAPTER XIII

                      SÃO JERONYMO TO THE DOWNS.

  Voyage down the Rio Negro—Arrive at Barra—Obtaining a
    passport—State of the city—Portuguese and Brazilian
    enterprise—System of credit—Trade—Immorality, and its
    causes—Leave Barra—A storm on the Amazon—Salsaparilha—A tale
    about Death—Pará—The yellow fever—Sail for England—Ship takes
    fire—Ten days in the boats—Get picked up—Heavy gales—Short of
    provisions—Storm in the Channel—Arrive at Deal.

At length, on the 23rd of April, I bade adieu, with much pleasure, to
São Jeronymo. I stopped at several places to buy beiju, fish, pacovas,
and any parrots I could meet with. My Indians went several times,
early in the morning, to the gapó to catch frogs, which they obtained
in great numbers, stringing them on a sipó, and, boiling them entire,
entrails and all, devoured them with much gusto. The frogs are mottled
of various colours, have dilated toes, and are called Juí.

On the 26th we reached São Joaquim, where I staid a day, to make some
cages for my birds, and embark the things I had left with Senhor Lima.

On the 28th I went on to São Gabriel, and paid my respects to the new
Commandante, and then enjoyed a little conversation with my friend Mr.
Spruce. Several of my birds died or were lost here, and at São Joaquim.
A little black monkey killed and devoured two which had escaped from
their cages, and one of my most valuable and beautiful parrots (a
single specimen) was lost in passing the falls. I had left São Joaquim
with fifty-two live animals (monkeys, parrots, etc.), which, in a small
canoe, were no little trouble and annoyance.

I was lucky enough to get the Commandante to send a soldier with me in
charge of the Correio, or post, and thus ensured my passage to Barra
without further delays, a point on which I had been rather uneasy.
Leaving São Gabriel I staid for the night at the house of Senhor
Victoríno; of whom I bought several green parrots, and a beautiful
“anacá,” or purple and red-necked crested parrot, in place of the one
which had gone overboard while passing the falls at São Gabriel. The
following day I reached the house of Senhor Palheta, and thought myself
fortunate to purchase of him another anacá for seven shillings; but the
very next morning it died from cold, having flown into the river, and
become completely chilled before it could be rescued.

On the 2nd of May I arrived at the sitio of my old friend Senhor
Chagas, who made me breakfast with him, and sold me some farinha,
coffee, and a lot of guinea-fowls’ eggs; and embraced me with great
affection at parting, wishing me every happiness. The same night I
reached Castanheiro, where I particularly wished to get a pilot,
to take me down the east bank of the river, for the purpose of
making a sketch-survey of that side, and ascertaining the width of
this extraordinary stream. Senhor Ricardo, who is the Capitão dos
Trabalhadores, immediately gave me an order to embark a man, whose
house I should pass the next day, and who, he said, was perfectly
acquainted with that side of the river. After breakfasting with
him the next morning, I left, well satisfied to have a prospect of
accomplishing this long-cherished scheme. On arriving at the house,
however, it was empty, and there was no sign of its having been
inhabited for some weeks, so that I had to give up all hopes of
completing my project.

I applied again to the Subdelegarde, João Cordeiro, whose house I
reached the next day, and also to the lieutenant of Senhor Ricardo,
but without effect; all making the usual reply, “Não ha gente nenhum
aqui” (there is not a single person about here); so I was reluctantly
compelled to proceed down the river by the same course which I had
already traversed three times, as, by attempting to go on the other
route without a pilot, I might lose my way, and not get to Barra for a

The fever and ague now attacked me again, and I passed several days
very uncomfortably. We had almost constant rains; and to attend to my
numerous birds and animals was a great annoyance, owing to the crowded
state of the canoe, and the impossibility of properly cleaning them
during the rain. Some died almost every day, and I often wished I had
had nothing whatever to do with them, though, having once taken them in
hand, I determined to persevere.

On the 8th I reached Barcellos, and here I was annoyed by having
to give an account of what had in my canoes, and pay duty, the
new Government of Barra not allowing anything to escape without
contributing its share.

On the 11th we passed the mouth of the Rio Branco, and I noticed for
the first time the peculiar colour of the water, which is a very pale
yellow-olive, almost milky, very different from and much whiter than
the waters of the Amazon, and making its name of the “White River” very
appropriate. In the dry season the waters are much clearer.

In the morning I reached Pedreiro, and purchased a a turtle, which
we stopped to cook, a short distance below the village; it was a
very large and fat one, and we fried the greater part of the meat in
fat for the rest of the voyage. At a sitio, in the evening, I bought
two parrots, and the next morning, at Ayrão, five more; and in the
afternoon, at another sitio, a blue macaw, a monkey, a toucan, and a
pigeon. At night we had a storm of rain and wind, and for a long time
beat about in the middle of the river, tossed by the waves, without
being able to find the shore.

On the 15th we reached “Ai purusá,” where I bought some fish and maize.
Here was lying a fine harpy eagle, which Senhor Bagatta had shot the
day before, and, having plucked out some of the wing-feathers, had
left it to rot; I thus just missed, by a day, getting a specimen of
this bird, which I so much desired, and which I had never been able to
procure during a four years’ residence in the country. We had plenty
more rain every night, making the journey very disagreeable; and at
length, on the 17th, reached Barra do Rio Negro, now the capital of the
new Province of Amazonas.

I was here kindly received by my friend Henrique Antony; and I spent
all the day in searching for some house or lodging, which was very
hard to be procured, every house being occupied, and rents having much
risen, from the influx of strangers and traders consequent on the
arrival of the new Government. However, by the evening I succeeded in
getting a small mud-floored, leaky-roofed room, which I was glad to
hire, as I did not know how long I might be obliged to remain in Barra,
before I could obtain a passage to Pará. The next morning I could not
disembark my things till the new Custom-house opened, at nine o’clock;
when I had to pay duties on every article, even on my bird-skins,
insects, stuffed alligators, etc., and so it was night before I got
everything on shore. The next day I paid off my Indians, and settled
myself to wait patiently and attend to my menagerie, till I could get a
passage to Pará.

For three weeks I had been nearly lame, with a sore and inflamed toe,
into which the chegoes had burrowed under the nail, and rendered
wearing a shoe, or walking, exceedingly painful: having been compelled
to move about the last few days, it had inflamed and swelled, and I
was now therefore glad to remain quietly at home, and by poultices and
plaisters endeavour to cure it. During the short time the Indians had
remained in charge of my canoe, while I was looking after a house,
they had lost three of my birds; but I soon found I had quite enough
left to keep me constantly employed attending to them. My parrots,
in particular, of which I had more than twenty, would persist in
wandering about into the street, and I lost several of my best, which
were, no doubt, safely domiciled in some of the adjoining houses. I was
much annoyed, too, by persons constantly coming to me, to sell them
parrots or monkeys; and my repeated assurances, that I myself wanted
to buy more, did not in the least check the pertinacity of my would-be

The city was now full of fashionably-dressed young men, who received
the public money for services they did not know how to perform. Many
of them could not fill up a few dozen words in a printed form without
making blunders, or in a shorter time than two or three hours; their
contemplations seeming scarcely to rise beyond their polished-leather
boots and gold watch-chains. As it was necessary to get a passport,
I presented myself at the office of the “Chef de Policia,” for the
purpose; but was told that I must first advertise my intention of
leaving, in the newspaper. I accordingly did so, and about a week
after went again. I was now requested to bring a formal application in
writing, to have a passport granted me: I returned, and prepared one,
and the next day went with it; now the Chef was engaged, and he must
sign the requisition before anything else could be done. I called again
the next day, and now that the requisition was signed, I had a blank
form given me to go and get stamped in another office, in a distant
part of the city. Off I had to go,—get the stamp, which took two clerks
to sign, and paid my eight vintems for it; armed with this, I returned
to the police-office, and now, to my surprise, the passport was
actually made out and given me; and on paying another twelve vintems
(sixpence), I was at liberty to leave Barra whenever I could; for as to
leaving it whenever I pleased, that was out of the question.

The city of Barra, the capital of the Province and the residence of
the President, was now in a very miserable condition. No vessel had
arrived from Pará for five months, and all supplies were exhausted.
Flour had been long since finished, consequently there was no bread;
neither was there biscuit, butter, sugar, cheese, wine, nor vinegar;
molasses even, to sweeten our coffee, was very scarce; and the spirit
of the country (caxaça) was so nearly exhausted, that it could only be
obtained retail, and in the smallest quantities: everybody was reduced
to farinha and fish, with beef twice a week, and turtle about as often.
This state of destitution was owing to there having been a vessel lost
a month before, near Barra, which was coming from Pará; and at this
time of the year, when the river is full, and the winds adverse, the
passage frequently takes from seventy days to three months,—having to
be performed almost entirely by warping with a rope sent ahead in a
canoe, against the powerful current of the Amazon. It may therefore
be well imagined that Barra was not the most agreeable place in the
world to reside in, when, joined to the total absence of amusement
and society which universally prevails there, the want of the common
necessaries of life had also to be endured.

Several vessels were leaving for Pará, but all were so completely
filled as not to have room for me or my baggage; and I had to wait in
patience for the arrival of a small canoe from the Solimões, in which
Senhor Henrique guaranteed me a passage to Pará.

Before proceeding with my journey, I will note the few observations
that occur to me on the character and customs of the inhabitants of
this fine country. I of course speak solely of the province of Pará,
and it is probable that to the rest of Brazil my remarks may not in
the least apply; so different in every respect is this part of the
Empire from the more southern and better-known portion. There is,
perhaps, no country in the world so capable of yielding a large return
for agricultural labour, and yet so little cultivated; none where the
earth will produce such a variety of valuable productions, and where
they are so totally neglected; none where the facilities for internal
communication are so great, or where it is more difficult or tedious to
get from place to place; none which so much possesses all the natural
requisites for an immense trade with all the world, and where commerce
is so limited and insignificant.

This may well excite some wonder, when we remember that the
white inhabitants of this country are the Portuguese and their
descendants,—the nation which a few centuries ago took the lead in
all great discoveries and commercial enterprises,—which spread its
colonies over the whole world, and exhibited the most chivalric spirit
of enterprise in overcoming the dangers of navigation in unknown seas,
and of opening a commercial intercourse with barbarous or uncivilized

But yet, as far as I myself have been able to observe, their national
character has not changed. The Portuguese, and their descendants,
exhibit here the same perseverance, the same endurance of every
hardship, and the same wandering spirit, which led and still leads them
to penetrate into the most desolate and uncivilized regions in pursuit
of commerce and in search of gold. But they exhibit also a distaste for
agricultural and mechanical labour, which appears to have been ever a
part of their national character, and which has caused them to sink to
their present low condition in the scale of nations, in whatever part
of the world they may be found. When their colonies were flourishing in
every quarter of the globe, and their ships brought luxuries for the
supply of half the civilized world, a great part of their population
found occupation in trade, in the distribution of that wealth which
set in a constant stream from America, Asia, and Africa, to their
shores; but now that this stream has been diverted into other channels
by the energy of the Saxon races, the surplus population, averse from
agriculture, and unable to find a support in the diminished trade of
the country, swarm to Brazil, in the hope that wealth may be found
there, in a manner more congenial to their tastes.

Thus we find the province of Pará overrun with traders, the greater
part of whom deserve no better name than pedlars, only they carry their
goods in a canoe instead of upon their backs. As their distaste for
agriculture, or perhaps rather their passionate love of trade, allows
scarcely any of them to settle, or produce anything for others to
trade in, their only resource is in the indigenous inhabitants of the
country; and as these are also very little given to cultivation except
to procure the mere necessaries of life, it results that the only
articles of commerce are the natural productions of the country, to
catch or collect which requires an irregular and wandering life, better
suited to an Indian’s habits than the settled and continued exertions
of agriculture. These products are principally dried fish, and oil from
the turtles’ eggs and cow-fish, for the inland trade; and salsaparilha,
piassaba, India-rubber, Brazil-nuts, balsam of capivi, and cacao, for
the exports. Though the coffee-plant and sugar-cane grow everywhere
almost spontaneously, yet coffee and sugar have to be imported from
other parts of Brazil for home consumption. Beef is everywhere bad,
principally because there are no good pastures near the towns where
cattle brought from a distance can be fattened, and no one thinks of
making them, though it might easily be done. Vegetables are also very
scarce and dear, and so are all fruits, except such as the orange and
banana, which once planted only require the produce to be gathered
when ripe; fowls in Pará are 3_s._ 6_d._ each, and sugar as dear as
in England. And all this because nobody will make it his business
to supply any one of these articles! There is a kind of gambling
excitement in trade which outshines all the steady profits of labour,
and regular mechanics are constantly leaving their business to get a
few goods on credit and wander about the country trading.

There is, I should think, no country where such a universal and
insecure system of credit prevails as here. There is hardly a trader,
great or small, in the country, that can be said to have any capital
of his own. The merchants in Pará, who have foreign correspondents,
have goods out on credit; they sell on credit to the smaller merchants
or shopkeepers of Pará; these again supply on credit the negociantes
in the country towns. From these last the traders up the different
rivers get their supplies also on credit. These traders give small
parcels of goods to half-civilized Indians, or to any one who will take
them, to go among the wild Indian tribes and buy up their produce.
They, however, have to give credit to the Indians, who will not work
till they have been paid six months beforehand; and so they are paid
for salsaparilha or oil, which is still in the forest or the lake.
And at every step of this credit there is not the slightest security;
and robbery, waste, and a profuse squandering away of the property of
others, is of constant occurrence.—To cover all these chances of loss,
the profits are proportionably great at every step, and the consumer
often has to pay two shillings a yard for calico worth twopence, and
everything else in like proportion. It is these apparently enormous
profits that lead mechanics and others into trade, as they do not
consider the very small business that can be done in a given time,
owing to the poverty of the country and the enormous number of traders
in proportion to the purchasers. It seems a very nice and easy way of
getting a living, to sell goods at double the price you pay for them,
and then again to sell the produce you receive at double what you
pay for it; but as the greater part of the small traders do not get
rid of more than a hundred pounds’ worth of goods in a year, and the
expenses of Indians and canoes, their families and bad debts, wines
and liquors, and the waste which always takes place where everything
is obtained upon credit, are often double that sum, it is not to be
wondered at that they are almost all of them constantly in debt to
their correspondents, who, when they have once thus got a hold on them,
do not allow them easily to get free.

It is this universal love of trade which leads, I think, to three
great vices very prevalent here—drinking, gambling, and lying,—besides
a whole host of trickeries, cheatings, and debaucheries of every
description. The life of a river trader admits of little enjoyment
to a man who has no intellectual resources; it is not therefore to
be wondered at that the greater part of these men are more or less
addicted to intoxication; and when they can supply themselves on credit
with as much wine and spirits as they like, there is little inducement
to break through the habit. A man who, if he had to pay ready money,
would never think of drinking wine, when he can have it on credit takes
twenty or thirty gallons with him in his canoe, which, as it has cost
him nothing, is little valued, and he perhaps arrives at the end of
his voyage without a drop. In the towns in the interior every shop
sells spirits, and numbers of persons are all day drinking, taking
a glass at every place they go to, and, by this constant dramming,
ruining their health perhaps more than by complete intoxication at
more distant intervals. Gambling is almost universal in a greater or
less degree, and is to be traced to that same desire to gain money by
some easier road than labour, which leads so many into commerce; and
the great number of traders, who have to get a living out of an amount
of business which would not be properly sufficient for one-third the
number, leads to the general use of trickery and lying of every degree,
as fair means to be employed to entrap a new customer or to ruin a
rival trader.—Truth, in fact, in matters of business is so seldom
made use of, that a lie seems to be preferred even when it can serve
no purpose whatever, and where the person addressed must be perfectly
aware of the falsehood of every asseveration made; but Portuguese
politeness does not permit him by word or look to throw any doubt on
his friend’s veracity. I have been often amused to hear two parties
endeavouring to cheat each other, by assertions which each party knew
to be perfectly false, and yet pretended to receive as undoubted fact.

On the subject of the most prevalent kind of immorality, it is
impossible to enter, without mentioning facts too disgusting to be
committed to paper. Vices of such a description as at home are never
even alluded to, are here the subjects of common conversation, and
boasted of as meritorious acts, and no opportunity is lost of putting
the vilest construction upon every word or act of a neighbour.

Among the causes which tend to promote the growth of such wide-spread
immorality, we may perhaps reckon the geographical position and
political condition of the country, and the peculiar state of
civilization in which it now exists. To a native, a tropical climate
certainly offers fewer pleasures, pursuits, and occupations than a
temperate one. The heat in the dry, and the moisture in the rainy
season do not admit of the outdoor exercise and amusements, in which
the inhabitants of a temperate zone can almost constantly indulge.
The short twilights afford but a few moments between the glare of
the descending sun and the darkness of night. Nature itself, dressed
in an eternal and almost unchangeable garb of verdure, presents but
a monotonous scene to him who has beheld it from childhood. In the
interior of the country there is not a road or path out of the towns,
along which a person can walk with comfort or pleasure; all is dense
forest, or more impassable clearings. Here are no flower-bespangled
meadows, no turfy glades, or smooth shady walks to tempt the lover of
nature; here are no dry gravelled roads, where, even in the intervals
of rain, we may find healthy and agreeable exercise; here are no
field-side paths among golden corn or luxuriant clover. Here are no
long summer evenings, to wander in at leisure, and admire the slowly
changing glories of the sunset; nor long winter nights, with the
blazing hearth, which, by drawing all the members of a family into
close contact, promote a social intercourse and domestic enjoyment,
which the inhabitants of a tropical clime can but faintly realize.

At length the canoe arrived in which I was to go to Pará, and I soon
agreed for my passage and set to work getting my things together. I had
a great number of cases and boxes, six large ones which I had left with
Senhor Henrique the year before, being still in his possession, because
the great men of Barra were afraid they might contain contraband
articles, and would not let them pass.

I now got them embarked, by making a declaration of their contents, and
paying a small duty on them. Out of a hundred live animals which I had
purchased or had had given to me, there now only remained thirty-four,
consisting of five monkeys, two macaws, twenty parrots and paroquets of
twelve different species, five small birds, a white-crested Brazilian
pheasant, and a toucan.

On the 10th of June we left Barra, commencing our voyage very
unfortunately for me; for, on going on board, after bidding adieu to my
friends, I missed my toucan, which had, no doubt, flown overboard, and
not being noticed by any one, was drowned. This bird I esteemed very
highly, as he was full-grown and very tame, and I had great hopes of
bringing him alive to England.

On the 13th we reached Villa Nova, at which place, being the last in
the new Province, we had to disembark to show our passports, as if
entering into another kingdom; and not content with this, there is
another station half a day further down, on the exact boundary-line,
where all vessels have to stay a second time, and again present their
papers, as if the great object of the Government were to make their
regulations as annoying and expensive as possible. At Villa Nova I was
glad to get some butter and biscuits; quite a treat, after the scanty
luxuries of Barra. Here, too, I met the kind priest, Padre Torquato,
who had entertained us so hospitably on our ascent of the river. He
received me with great kindness, and regretted I could not stay longer
with him; he gave me a curious animal, which I had heard of but never
seen before, a forest-dog,—an animal somewhat resembling a fox, in its
bushy tail and great taste for poultry, and apparently very tame and

The next day we passed Obydos, the strong current of the river, now at
its height, carrying us down with great rapidity; and the succeeding
night we had a tremendous storm, which blew and tossed our little
vessel about in a very alarming manner. The owner of the canoe, an
Indian, was much frightened; he called upon the Virgin, and promised
her several pounds of candles, if she would but save the canoe; and,
opening the door of the little cabin where I was sleeping, cried out in
a most piteous voice, “Oh! meu amigo, estamos perdidos” (Oh! my friend,
we are all lost). In vain I tried to comfort him with assurances that,
as the vessel was new and strong, and not too heavily laden, there was
no danger,—although the night was pitch-dark, and the wind blew in the
most fierce and furious gusts imaginable. We did not know whether we
were in the middle of the river or near the side, and the only danger
we were exposed to, was of our drifting ashore or running aground.
After about an hour however the canoe came to a stop, without any
shock whatever, and remained perfectly still, although the wind still
blew. It was so dark that nothing was to be seen, and it was only by
stretching his arm down over the side, that the master ascertained that
we had drifted into one of the large compact beds of floating grass
which, in many places, line the banks of the Amazon for hundreds of
yards from the shore. Here therefore we were safely moored, and waited
for the morning, sleeping comfortably, with the knowledge that we were
out of all danger.

The next day, by noon, we reached the mouth of the Tapajoz, and went in
the montaria to Santarem, to make some purchases and visit my friends.
I found old Captain Hislop; but Mr. Bates, whom I most wished to see,
had left a week before on an excursion up the Tapajoz. Having laid in
a stock of sugar, vinegar, oil, biscuits, and fresh bread and meat, we
proceeded on our journey, which we were anxious to complete as soon as

On the 18th we passed Gurupá; and on the 19th, entered the narrow
channels which form the communication with the Pará river,—bidding
adieu to the turbid mighty flood of the never-to-be-forgotten Amazon.

We here met a vessel from Pará, fifty days out, having made a much
shorter distance than we, descending the river, had come in five.

On the 22nd we reached Breves, a neat little village with well-supplied
shops, where I bought half-a-dozen of the pretty painted basins, for
the manufacture of which the place is celebrated; we here also got some
oranges, at six for a halfpenny.

The next day we staid at a sitio built upon piles, for the whole
country about here is covered at spring-tides. The master of the canoe
had a lot of salsaparilha to put up properly for the Pará market,
and staid a day to do it. The salsaparilha is the root of a prickly,
climbing plant, allied to our common black bryony; the roots are dug by
the Indians, and tied up in bundles of various lengths and sizes; but,
as it is a very light cargo, it is necessary to form it into packages
of a convenient and uniform size and length, for closer stowage;—these
are cylindrical, generally of sixteen pounds each, and are about three
and a half feet long and five or six inches in diameter, cut square and
even at the ends, and wound round closely from end to end with, the
long flexible roots of a species of _Pothos_, which, growing on the
tops of lofty trees, hang down often a hundred feet or more, and, when
the outer bark is scraped off, are universally used for this purpose.
It was to do this binding we staid here, the salsa having been already
done up in proper packages; and while the crew were busy about it, I
occupied myself making some sketches of palms, which were yet wanting
to complete my collection.

In two days more we reached the mouth of the Tocantíns, where there is
a great bay,—so wide, that the further shore is not visible. As there
are some dangerous sand-banks here, there is a pilot who takes canoes
over, and we waited all day in order to start with the morning’s tide,
which is considered the most favourable for the passage. While here
I got a few shells, and amused myself by talking with the pilot, his
wife, and two very lively daughters. Our conversation turned upon the
shortness and uncertainty of life; which the old woman illustrated by a
tale, which seemed to be another version of the “three warnings.”

“A man and his wife were conversing together, and remarking on the
unpleasantness of being subject to death. ‘I should like to make
friends with Death, some way,’ said the man; ‘then perhaps he will not
trouble me.’ ‘That you can easily do,’ said his wife; ‘invite him to
be padrinho (godfather) to our little boy, who is to be baptized next
week; you will then be able to talk to him on the subject, and he will
surely not be able to refuse a slight favour to his ‘compadre.’ So he
was invited accordingly, and came; and after the ceremony and the
feast were over, as he was going away, the man said to him, ‘Compadre
Death, as there are plenty of people in the world for you to take, I
hope you will never come for me.’ ‘Really, Compadre,’ replied Death,
‘I cannot promise you that, for when God sends me for anybody I must
go. However, I will do all I can, and I will at all events promise you
a week’s notice, that you may have time to prepare yourself.’ Several
years passed on, and Death at last came to pay them a visit. ‘Good
evening, Compadre,’says he, ‘I’m come on a disagreeable business: I
have received orders to fetch you this day week, so I’m come to give
you the notice I promised you.’ ‘Oh! Compadre,’ said the man, ‘you’re
come very soon; it’s exceedingly inconvenient for me to go just now,
I’m getting on very nicely, and shall be a rich man in a few years, if
you will but let me alone: it’s very unkind of you, Compadre; I’m sure
you can arrange it if you like, and take some one else instead of me.’
‘Very sorry,’ said Death, ‘but it can’t be done, no-how: I’ve got my
orders, and I must obey them. Nobody ever gets off when the order’s
once given, and very few get so long a notice as I’ve been able to give
you. However, I’ll try all I can, and if I succeed, you won’t see me
this day week; but I don’t think there’s any hope,—so good bye.’

“When the day came, the man was in a great fright, for he did not
expect to escape; his wife however hit upon a plan, which they
resolved to try. They had an old Negro man in the house, who used to
be generally employed in the kitchen. They made him exchange clothes
with his master, and sent him away out of the house; the master then
blacked his face, and made himself as much like the old nigger as he
could. On the evening appointed Death came. ‘Good evening, Compadre,’
said he; ‘where is my compadre?—I’m obliged to take him with me.’ ‘Oh!
Compadre,’ said she, ‘he didn’t at all expect you, and is gone on some
business into the village, and won’t be back till late.’ ‘Now I’m in
a pretty mess,’ said Death; ‘I did not expect my compadre would have
treated me so; it’s very ungentlemanly of him to get me into this
scrape after all I’ve done for him. However, I must take somebody;—who
is there in the house?’ The woman was rather alarmed at this question,
for she expected he would immediately have started off to the village
in search of her husband: however, she considered it best to be civil,
so replied, ‘There’s only our old nigger, that’s in the kitchen,
getting supper ready. Sit down, Compadre, and take a bit, and then
perhaps my husband will be in; I’m very sorry he should give you so
much trouble.’ ‘No, I can’t stay,’ said Death; ‘I’ve got a long way to
go, and must take somebody, so let’s see if the old nigger will do?’
and he walked into the kitchen, where the man was pretending to be
busily engaged over the fire. ‘Well, if Compadre won’t come, I suppose
I must take the old nigger,’ said Death; and before the wife could
speak a word, he stretched out his hand, and down fell her husband a

“So you see,” said the old woman to me, “when a man’s time is come he
must go: neither doctors nor anything else can stop him, and you can’t
cheat Death no-how.” To which sentiment I did not think it worth while
to make any objection.

About two days before, had been St. John’s day, when it is the
custom to make bonfires and jump over and through them, which act is
considered by the common people as an important religious ceremony. As
we were talking about it, the old lady gravely asked if we knew that
animals also passed through the fire? We replied that we were not aware
of the fact; upon which she informed us that we might hereafter believe
it, for that she had had ocular demonstration of it. “It was last
year,” said she, “on the day after St. John’s, my son went out to hunt,
and brought home a cotía and a pacá, and both of them were completely
scorched all along the belly: they had evidently passed through the
fire the night before.” “But where do they get the fire from?” I asked.
“Oh! God prepares it for them,” said she; and on my hinting that fires
were not often found in the forest unless lit by human hands, she at
once silenced my objections by triumphantly asking me, “if anything was
impossible with God?” at the same time observing that perhaps I was a
Protestant, and did not believe in God or the Virgin. So I was obliged
to give up the point; and though I assured her that Protestants did
generally believe in God and went to church, she replied that she did
not know, but had always heard to the contrary.

At length, on the 2nd of July, we reached Pará, where I was kindly
received by my friend Mr. C., and was glad to learn that there was a
vessel in port that would probably sail for London in about a week.
Several times on the voyage down I had had fits of ague, and was
still very weak and quite unable to make any exertion. The yellow
fever, which the year before had cut off thousands of the inhabitants,
still attacked new comers, and scarcely a ship was in port but had
a considerable portion of her crew in the hospital. The weather was
beautiful; the summer or dry season was just commencing, vegetation
was luxuriantly verdant, and the bright sky and clear fresh atmosphere
seemed as if they could not harbour the fatal miasma which had crowded
the cemetery with funeral crosses, and made every dwelling in the city
a house of mourning. Once or twice I attempted to walk out into the
forest, but the exertion generally brought on shiverings and sickness,
so I thought it best to remain as quiet as possible till the time of my

Since I had left the city it had been much improved. Avenues of almond
and other trees had been formed along the road to Nazaré and round
the Largo de Palacio; new roads and drives had been made, and some
new buildings erected: in other respects the city was the same. The
dirty, straggling, uncovered market, the carts of hacked beef, the loud
chanting of the Negro porters, and the good-humoured smiling faces of
the Indian and Negro girls selling their fruits and “doces,” greeted me
as of old. Fowls had risen in price from about 2_s._ to 3_s._ 6_d._,
and fruits and vegetables in about the same proportion; while in
changing English money for Brazilian I now got about ten per cent. less
than I used, and yet everybody complained of trade being very bad, and
prices quite unremunerative. I heard many stories of miraculous cures
of the yellow fever, when at its worst stage, and after the parties
had been given up by the doctors. One had been cured by eating ices,
another by drinking a bottle of wine; ices in fact had got into great
favour as a fine tonic, and were taken daily by many persons as a most
useful medicine.

I agreed for my passage in the brig Helen, 235 tons, Captain John
Turner, whose property she was; and on the morning of Monday, the 12th
of July, we got aboard, and bade adieu to the white houses and waving
palm-trees of Pará. Our cargo consisted of about a hundred and twenty
tons of India-rubber, and a quantity of cocoa, arnotto, piassaba, and
balsam of capivi. About two days after we left I had a slight attack of
fever, and almost thought that I was still doomed to be cut off by the
dread disease which had sent my brother and so many of my countrymen
to graves upon a foreign shore. A little calomel and opening medicines
however soon set me right again; but as I was very weak, and suffered
much from sea-sickness, I spent most of my time in the cabin. For three
weeks we had very light winds and fine weather, and on the 6th of
August had reached about latitude 30° 30´ north, longitude 52° west.

On that morning, after breakfast, I was reading in the cabin, when the
Captain came down and said to me, “I’m afraid the ship’s on fire; come
and see what you think of it,” and proceeded to examine the lazaretto,
or small hole under the floor where the provisions are kept, but no
signs of fire were visible there. We then went on deck to the fore
part of the ship, where we found a dense vapoury smoke issuing from
the forecastle. The fore hatchway was immediately opened, and, the
smoke issuing there also, the men were set to work clearing out part
of the cargo. After throwing out some quantity without any symptom of
approaching the seat of the fire, we opened the after hatchway; and
here the smoke was much more dense, and in a very short time became
so suffocating, that the men could not stay in the hold to throw out
more cargo, so they were set to work pouring in water, while others
proceeded to the cabin, and now found abundance of smoke issuing from
the lazaretto, whence it entered through the joints of the bulkhead
which separated it from the hold. Attempts were now made to break
this bulkhead down; but the planks were so thick and the smoke so
unbearable that it could not be effected, as no man could remain in
the lazaretto to make more than a couple of blows. The cabin table was
therefore removed, and a hole attempted to be cut in the cabin floor,
so as to be able to pour water immediately on the seat of the fire,
which appeared to be where the balsam was stowed. This took some time,
owing to the suffocating smoke, which also continued to pour in dense
volumes out of the hatchway. Seeing that there was now little chance of
our being able to extinguish the fire, the Captain thought it prudent
to secure our own safety, and called all hands to get out the boats,
and such necessaries as we should want, in case of being obliged to
take to them. The long-boat was stowed on deck, and of course required
some time to get it afloat. The gig was hung on davits on the quarter,
and was easily let down. All now were in great activity. Many little
necessaries had to be hunted up from their hiding-places. The cook was
sent for corks, to plug the holes in the bottoms of the boats. Now
no one knew where a rudder had been put away; now the thowl-pins were
missing. The oars had to be searched for, and spars to serve as masts,
with proportionate sails, spare canvas, twine, cordage, tow-ropes,
sail-needles, nails and tacks, carpenters’ tools, etc. The Captain was
looking after his chronometer, sextant, barometer, charts, compasses,
and books of navigation; the seamen were getting their clothes into
huge canvas bags; all were lugging about pilot-coats, blankets,
southwesters, and oilskin coats and trowsers; and I went down into the
cabin, now suffocatingly hot and full of smoke, to see what was worth
saving. I got my watch and a small tin box containing some shirts and
a couple of old note-books, with some drawings of plants and animals,
and scrambled up with them on deck. Many clothes and a large portfolio
of drawings and sketches remained in my berth; but I did not care to
venture down again, and in fact felt a kind of apathy about saving
anything, that I can now hardly account for. On deck the crew were
still busy at the boats; two barrels of bread were got in, a lot of raw
pork, some ham and cases of preserved meats, some wine and a large cask
of water. The cask had to be lowered into the boat empty, for fear of
any accident, and after being securely fixed in its place, filled with
buckets from those on board.

The boats, having been so long drying in a tropical sun, were very
leaky, and were now half full of water, and books, coats, blankets,
shoes, pork, and cheese, in a confused mass, were soaking in them.
It was necessary to put two men in each, to bale; and everything
necessary being now ready, the rest of the crew were called off
again to pour water into the hatchways and cabin, from which rose
volumes of thick yellow smoke. Now, too, we could hear in the hold
the balsam bubbling, like some great boiling caldron, which told of
such intense heat, that we knew the flames must soon break out. And
so it was, for in less than half an hour the fire burst through the
cabin-floor into the berths, and consuming rapidly the dry pine-wood,
soon flamed up through the skylight. There was now a scorching heat on
the quarter-deck, and we saw that all hope was over, and that we must
in a few minutes be driven by the terrible element to take refuge on
the scarcely less dangerous one, which heaved and swelled its mighty
billows a thousand miles on every side of us. The Captain at length
ordered all into the boats, and was himself the last to leave the
vessel. I had to get down over the stern by a rope into the boat,
rising and falling and swaying about with the swell of the ocean;
and, being rather weak, rubbed the skin considerably off my fingers,
and tumbled in among the miscellaneous articles already soaking there
in the greatest confusion. One sailor was baling with a bucket, and
another with a mug; but the water not seeming at all to diminish,
but rather the contrary, I set to work helping them, and soon found
the salt-water producing a most intense smarting and burning on my
scarified fingers.

We now lay astern of the ship, to which we were moored, watching the
progress of the fire. The flames very soon caught the shrouds and
sails, making a most magnificent conflagration up to the very peak,
for the royals were set at the time. Soon after, the fore rigging and
sails also burnt, and flames were seen issuing from the fore hatchway,
showing how rapidly the fire was spreading through the combustible
cargo. The vessel, having now no sails to steady her, rolled heavily,
and the masts, no longer supported by the shrouds, bent and creaked,
threatening to go overboard every minute. The main-mast went first,
breaking off about twenty feet above the deck; but the fore-mast stood
for a long time, exciting our admiration and wonder, at the time it
resisted the heavy rolls and lurches of the vessel; at last, being
partly burned at the bottom, it went over, more than an hour after its
companion. The decks were now a mass of fire, and the bulwarks partly
burnt away. Many of the parrots, monkeys, and other animals we had on
board, were already burnt or suffocated; but several had retreated
to the bowsprit out of reach of the flames, appearing to wonder what
was going on, and quite unconscious of the fate that awaited them. We
tried to get some of them into the boats, by going as near as we could
venture; but they did not seem at all aware of the danger they were in,
and would not make any attempt to reach us. As the flames caught the
base of the bowsprit, some of them ran back and jumped into the midst
of the fire. Only one parrot escaped: he was sitting on a rope hanging
from the bowsprit, and this burning above him let him fall into the
water, where, after floating a little way, we picked him up.

Night was now coming on. The whole deck was a mass of fire, giving out
an intense heat. We determined to stay by the vessel all night, as the
light would attract any ship passing within a considerable distance of
us. We had eaten nothing since the morning, and had had plenty to do
and to think of, to prevent our being hungry; but now, as the evening
air began to get cool and pleasant, we all found we had very good
appetites, and supped well on biscuits and water.

We then had to make our arrangements for the night. Our mooring ropes
had been burnt, and we were thus cast adrift from the ship, and were
afraid of getting out of sight of it during the night, and so missing
any vessel which might chance to be attracted by its light. A portion
of the masts and rigging were floating near the ship, and to this
we fastened our boats; but so many half-burnt spars and planks were
floating about us, as to render our situation very perilous, for there
was a heavy swell, and our boats might have been in an instant stove in
by coming in contact with them.

We therefore cast loose again, and kept at a distance of a quarter or
half a mile from the ship by rowing when requisite. We were incessantly
baling the whole night. Ourselves and everything in the boats were
thoroughly drenched, so we got little repose: if for an instant we
dozed off into forgetfulness, we soon woke up again to the realities
of our position, and to see the red glare which our burning vessel
cast over us. It was now a magnificent spectacle, for the decks had
completely burnt away, and as it heaved and rolled with the swell of
the sea, presented its interior towards us filled with liquid flame,—a
fiery furnace tossing restlessly upon the ocean.

At length morning came; the dangers of the night were past, and with
hopeful hearts we set up our little masts, and rigged our sails,
and, bidding adieu to the still burning wreck of our ship, went gaily
bounding along before a light east wind. And then pencils and books
were hunted out, and our course and distance to Bermuda calculated;
and we found that this, the nearest point of land in the vast waste of
waters round us, was at least seven hundred miles away. But still we
went on full of hope, for the wind was fair, and we reckoned that, if
it did not change, we might make a hundred miles a day, and so in seven
days reach the longed-for haven.

As we had supped but scantily the night before, we had now good
appetites, and got out our ham and pork, biscuit and wine and water,
and made a very hearty meal, finding that even uncooked meat was not to
be despised where no fire could be got to cook it with.

The day was fine and warm, and the floating seaweed called Gulf-weed
was pretty abundant. The boats still required almost incessant baling,
and though we did not ship many seas, yet there was quite enough spray
to keep us constantly wet. At night we got a rope fastened to the
long-boat, for her to tow us, in order that we might not get separated;
but as we sailed pretty equally, we kept both sails up. We passed
a tolerable night under the circumstances. The next day, the 8th,
was fine, gulf-weed still floated plentifully by us, and there were
numerous flying-fish, some of which fell into our boats, and others
flew an immense distance over the waves. I now found my hands and face
very much blistered by the sun, and exceedingly sore and painful. At
night two boobies, large dusky sea-birds with very long wings, flew
about us. During the night I saw several meteors, and in fact could not
be in a better position for observing them, than lying on my back in a
small boat in the middle of the Atlantic. We also saw a flock of small
birds fly by, making a chirping noise; the sailors did not know what
they were.

The 9th was again fine and hot, and my blistered hands were very
painful. No ship appeared in sight, though we were crossing the track
of the West India vessels. It was rather squally, and I passed a
nervous, uncomfortable night; our boats did not however now leak so
much, which was a great satisfaction.

The 10th was squally, and the wind veered to the south-west, so that
we could not make our course for Bermuda, but were obliged to go to
the north of it. The sea ran very high, and sudden gusts of wind would
frequently heel us over in a manner very alarming to me. We had some
heavy showers of rain, and should have liked to have caught some fresh
water, but could not, as all our clothes and the sails were saturated
with salt. Our position at noon was in latitude 31° 59´ north,
longitude 57° 22´ west.

The 11th was still rough and squally. There was less gulf-weed now.
The wind got still more to the westward, so that we were obliged to go
nearly north. Our boats had now got swollen with the water, and leaked
very little. This night I saw some more falling stars.

On the 12th the wind still kept foul, and we were getting quite out of
the track of ships, and appeared to have but little chance of reaching
Bermuda. The long-boat passed over some green water to day, a sign of
there being soundings, probably some rock at a moderate depth. Many
dolphins swam about the boats; their colours when seen in the water are
superb, the most gorgeous metallic hues of green, blue, and gold: I was
never tired of admiring them.

On the 13th the wind was due west, blowing exactly from the point we
wanted to go to. The day was very fine, and there were several stormy
petrels, or Mother Cary’s chickens, flying about us. We had now been a
week in the boats, and were only half-way to the Islands, so we put all
hands on short allowance of water before it was too late. The sun was
very hot and oppressive, and we suffered much from thirst.

The 14th was calm, and we could not get on at all. The sun was
scorching and we had no shelter, and were parched with thirst the whole
day. Numerous dolphins and pilot-fish were about the boats. At night
there was a very slight favourable breeze, and as we had by this time
got our clothes pretty dry we slept well.

On the 15th the wind again died away, and we had another calm. The
sea was full of minute _Medusæ_, called “blubber” by the sailors:
some were mere whitish oval or spherical lumps, others were brown,
and beautifully constructed like a little cap, swimming rapidly along
by alternate contractions and expansions, and so expelling the water
behind them. The day was very hot, and we suffered exceedingly from
thirst. We were almost in despair about seeing a ship, or getting on
to the Islands. At about 5 P.M., while taking our dinner, we saw the
long-boat, which was at some distance from us, tack. “She must see a
sail,” said the Captain, and looking round we saw a vessel coming
nearly towards us, and only about five miles distant.—We were saved!

The men joyfully drank the rest of their allowance of water, seized
their oars, and pulled with hearty goodwill, and by seven o’clock we
were alongside. The captain received us kindly on board. The men went
first to the water-casks, and took long and hearty draughts, in which
we joined them, and then enjoyed the almost forgotten luxury of tea.
From having been so long cramped in the boats, I could hardly stand
when I got on board.

That night I could not sleep. Home and all its pleasures seemed now
within my grasp; and crowding thoughts, and hopes and fears, made
me pass a more restless night than I should have done, had we still
been in the boats, with diminished hopes of rescue. The ship was the
“Jordeson,” Captain Venables, from Cuba, bound for London, with a cargo
of mahogany, fustic, and other woods. We were picked up in latitude 32°
48´ north, longitude 60° 27´ west, being still about two hundred miles
from Bermuda.

For several days afterwards we had fine weather and very light winds,
and went creeping along about fifty miles a day. It was now, when
the danger appeared past, that I began to feel fully the greatness
of my loss. With what pleasure had I looked upon every rare and
curious insect I had added to my collection! How many times, when
almost overcome by the ague, had I crawled into the forest and been
rewarded by some unknown and beautiful species! How many places, which
no European foot but my own had trodden, would have been recalled
to my memory by the rare birds and insects they had furnished to my
collection! How many weary days and weeks had I passed, upheld only
by the fond hope of bringing home many new and beautiful forms from
those wild regions; every one of which would be endeared to me by the
recollections they would call up,—which should prove that I had not
wasted the advantages I had enjoyed, and would give me occupation and
amusement for many years to come! And now everything was gone, and I
had not one specimen to illustrate the unknown lands I had trod, or to
call back the recollection of the wild scenes I had beheld! But such
regrets I knew I were vain, and I tried to think as little as possible
about what might have been, and to occupy myself with the state of
things which actually existed.

On the 22nd of August we saw three water-spouts, the first time I had
beheld that curious phenomenon. I had much wished once to witness a
storm at sea, and I was soon gratified.

Early in September we had a very heavy gale. The barometer had fallen
nearly half an inch during the night; and in the morning it was blowing
strong, and we had a good deal of canvas up, when the Captain began to
shorten sail; but before it could be taken in, four or five sails were
blown to pieces, and it took several hours to get the others properly
stowed. By the afternoon we were driving along under double-reefed
topsails. The sea was all in a foam, and dashed continually over us. By
night a very heavy sea was up, and we rolled about fearfully, the water
pouring completely over the bulwarks, deluging the decks, and making
the old ship stagger like a drunken man. We passed an uncomfortable
night, for a great sea broke into the cabin skylight and wetted us all,
and the ship creaked and shook, and plunged so madly, that I feared
something would give way, and we should go to the bottom after all; all
night, too, the pumps were kept going, for she leaked tremendously, and
it was noon the next day before she was got free of water. The wind had
now abated, and we soon had fine weather again, and all hands were busy
bending new sails and repairing the old ones.

We caught at different times several dolphins, which were not bad
eating. I did not see so much to admire in the colours of the dying
dolphin; they are not to be compared with the colours of the living
fish seen in the blue transparent water.

We were now getting rather short of provisions, owing to the increased
number of mouths: our cheese and ham were finished,—then our peas gave
out, and we had no more pea-soup,—next the butter came to an end, and
we had to eat our biscuit dry,—our bread and pork, too, got very short,
and we had to be put upon allowance. We then got some supplies from
another ship; but our voyage was so much prolonged, and we had adverse
winds and another heavy gale, so that we were again in want, finished
our last piece of meat, and had to make some scanty dinners off biscuit
and water. Again we were relieved with a little supply of pork and some
molasses, and so managed pretty well.

We were in the Channel on the night of the 29th of September, when
a violent gale occurred, that did great damage to the shipping, and
caused the destruction of many vessels much more sea-worthy than our
own. The next morning we had four feet of water in the hold.

On the 1st of October the pilot came on board, and Captain Turner and
myself landed at Deal, after an eighty days’ voyage from Pará; thankful
for having escaped so many dangers, and glad to tread once more on
English ground.

                             CHAPTER XIV.


The basin of the Amazon surpasses in dimensions that of any other
river in the world. It is entirely situated in the Tropics, on both
sides of the Equator, and receives over its whole extent the most
abundant rains. The body of fresh water emptied by it into the ocean,
is therefore far greater than that of any other river; not only
absolutely, but probably also relatively to its area, for as it is
almost entirely covered by dense virgin forests, the heavy rains which
penetrate them do not suffer so much evaporation as when they fall
on the scorched Llanos of the Orinooko or the treeless Pampas of La
Plata. For richness of vegetable productions and universal fertility of
soil it is unequalled on the globe, and offers to our notice a natural
region capable of supporting a greater population, and supplying it
more completely with the necessaries and luxuries of life, than any
other of equal extent. Of this wonderful district we will now describe
the principal physical peculiarities.

From about 4° north latitude to 20° south, every stream that flows down
the eastern slope of the Andes, is a tributary of the Amazon. This is
as if every river, from St. Petersburg to Madrid, united their waters
into one mighty flood.

The Marañon, which is generally considered the main stream of the
Amazon, deserves that title on several accounts. It rises to the
westward of all the other great tributaries, and it receives all the
waters which flow nearest to the Pacific, and most remote in a direct
line from the mouth of the river. It flows for a considerable distance
in the most westerly valley of the Andes, separated by one range only
from the Pacific, and at the point where it breaks through the eastern
chain of the Andes, in 78° west longitude, is already a large river,
on a meridian where all the other streams which can lay a claim to be
considered the head-waters of the Amazon have as yet no existence. On
going up the Amazon from its mouth, it is that branch on which you can
keep longest in the general east and west direction of the river; and
if the actual length of its course is considered, it still keeps its
place, for I find that there is not more than ten or twenty miles’
difference between it and the Uaycali, reckoning to the most distant
source of the latter; and its course is at present so uncertain, that
future surveys may increase or diminish it considerably.

These considerations, I think, decide the question as to the propriety
of considering the Marañon as the true source of the Amazon. We find
that from its origin in the Lake Lauricocha, to its mouth in longitude
50° west, its length, following the main curves, but disregarding the
minuter windings, is 2740 English miles.

Its extent, in a straight line from east to west, is about 2050 miles;
and from north to south, its tributary streams cover a space of 1720

The whole area of its basin, not including that of the Tocantíns, which
I consider a distinct river, is 2,330,000 English square miles, or
1,760,000 nautical square miles. This is more than a third of all South
America, and equal to two-thirds of all Europe. All western Europe
could be placed in it without touching its boundaries, and it would
even contain our whole Indian empire.

The numerous tributary streams of the Amazon, many of them equal to
the largest rivers of Europe, differ remarkably in the colour of
their waters, the character of the vegetation on their banks, and the
animals that inhabit them. They may be divided into three groups,—the
white-water rivers, the blue-water rivers, and the black-water rivers.

The main stream of the Amazon itself is a white-water river, this
name being applied to those waters which are of a pale yellowish
olive-colour. This colour does not seem to depend entirely on free
earthy matter, but rather on some colouring material held in solution;
for in lakes and inlets, where the waters are undisturbed and can
deposit all their sediment, they still retain the colour.

The waters of the Amazon continue of the same colour up to the mouth of
the Uaycali, when they become blue or transparent, and the white waters
are extended up that branch.

This has been taken as an evidence of the Uaycali being the main stream
of the Amazon; but I cannot consider that it has anything to do with
the question. It is evident that if equal quantities of clear and
muddy water are mixed together, the result will differ very little
from the latter in colour, and if the clear water is considerably
more in quantity the resulting mixture will still be muddy. But the
difference of colour between the white- and blue-water rivers, is
evidently owing to the nature of the country they flow through: a rocky
and sandy district will always have clear-water rivers; an alluvial or
clayey one, will have yellow or olive-coloured streams. A river may
therefore rise in a rocky district, and after some time flow through an
alluvial basin, where the water will of course change its colour, quite
independently of any tributaries which may enter it near the junction
of the two formations.

The Iça and Japurá have waters very similar in colour to the Amazon.
The Rio Branco, a branch of the Rio Negro from the north, is remarkable
for its peculiar colour: till I saw it, I had not believed it so well
deserved its name. The Indians and traders had always told me that it
was really white, much more so than the Amazon; and on descending the
Rio Negro in 1852, I passed its mouth, and found that its waters were
of a milky colour mixed with olive. It seemed as if it had a quantity
of chalk in solution, and I have little doubt of there being on its
banks considerable beds of the pure white clay which occurs in many
parts of the Amazon, and which helps to give the waters their peculiar
whiteness. The Madeira and Purús have also white waters in the wet
season, when their powerful currents bring down the alluvial soil
from their banks; but in the dry season they are a dark transparent

All the rivers that rise in the mountains of Brazil have blue or clear
water. The Tocantíns, the Xingú, and the Tapajóz, are the chief of this
class. The Tocantíns runs over volcanic and crystalline rocks in the
lower parts of its course, and its waters are beautifully transparent;
the tide however enters for some miles, and renders it turbid, as also
the Xingú. The Tapajóz, which enters the Amazon about five hundred
miles above Pará, is clear to its mouth, and forms a striking contrast
to the yellow flood of that river.

It is above the Madeira that we first meet with the curious phenomenon
of great rivers of black water. The Rio Negro is the largest and most
celebrated of these. It rises in about 2° 30´ N. lat., and its waters
are there much blacker than in the lower part of its course. All its
upper tributaries, the smaller ones especially, are very dark, and,
where they run over white sand, give it the appearance of gold, from
the rich colour of the water, which, when deep, appears inky black.
The small streams which rise in the same district, and flow into the
Orinooko, are of the same dark colour. The Cassiquiare first pours
in some white or olive-coloured water. Lower down, the Cababurís,
Maravihá, and some smaller white-water streams help to dilute it, and
then the Rio Branco adds its flood of milky water. Notwithstanding all
this, the Rio Negro at its mouth still appears as black as ink; only
in shallow water it is seen to be paler than it is up above, and the
sands are not dyed of that pure golden tint so remarkable there.

On the south of the Amazon there are also some black-water streams—the
Coary, the Teffe, the Juruá, and some others. The inhabitants have
taken advantage of these, to escape from the plague of the mosquitoes,
and the towns of Coary and Ega are places of refuge for the traveller
on the Upper Amazon, those annoying insects being scarcely ever found
on the black waters. The causes of the peculiar colour of these rivers
are not, I think, very obscure; it appears to me to be produced by the
solution of decaying leaves, roots, and other vegetable matter. In the
virgin forests, in which most of these streams have their source, the
little brooks and rivulets are half choked up with dead leaves and
rotten branches, giving various brown tinges to the water. When these
rivulets meet together and accumulate into a river, they of course have
a deep brown hue, very similar to that of our bog or peat water, if
there are no other circumstances to modify it. But if the streams flow
through a district of soft alluvial clay, the colour will of course be
modified, and the brown completely overpowered; and I think this will
account for the anomalies observed, of streams in the same districts
being of different colours. Those whose sources are pretty well known
are seen to agree with this view. The Rio Negro, the Atabapo, the
Isanna, and several other smaller rivers, have their sources and their
whole course in the deep forest; they flow generally over clean granite
rocks and beds of sand, and their streams are gentle, so as not to wear
away the soft parts of their banks.

The Iça, Japurá, and Upper Amazon, on the contrary, flow through a long
extent of alluvial country, and, having their sources on the slopes of
the Andes, are much more liable to sudden floods, and by their greater
velocity bring down a quantity of sediment. In fact it seems clear,
that a thorough knowledge of the course of each river would enable us
to trace the colour of its waters to the various peculiarities of the
country through which it flows.

With the exception of the streams rising in the Andes, the boundaries
of the Amazon basin, or the most distant sources of its tributaries
on the north and south, are comparatively little elevated above the
level of the sea. The whole basin, with the exception of a very small
portion, is one great plain of the most perfect and regular character.

The true altitude of the source in the Lake Lauricocha has not been
ascertained. At Tomependa Humboldt states it to be 1320 feet above the
sea: this is as near as possible 2000 miles in a straight line from the
mouth; so that the average rise is only eight inches in a mile. But
if we take the height at Tabatinga, on the boundary of Brazil, which,
according to Spix and Martius is 670 feet, we shall find, the distance
being about 1400 miles, that the rise is only five and a half inches
per mile. If we had the height of Barra do Rio Negro accurately, we
should no doubt find the rise to that point not more than two or three
inches in a mile. The distance is, in a straight line, about seven
hundred miles, and we may therefore probably estimate the height at
less than 200, and perhaps not more than 150 feet.

This height I am inclined to believe quite great enough, from some
observations I made with an accurate thermometer, reading to tenths
of a degree, on the temperature of boiling water. This instrument
I received from England, after leaving Pará. The mean of five
observations at Barra, some with river- and some with rain-water,
gave 212·5° as the temperature of boiling water; a remarkable result,
showing that the barometer must stand there at more than thirty inches,
and that unless it is, in the months of May and August, considerably
more than that at the sea-level, Barra can be but very little elevated
above the sea.

For the height of the country about the sources of the Rio Negro,
Humboldt is our only authority. He gives 812 feet as the height of São
Carlos; he however states that the determination is uncertain, owing
to an accident happening to the barometer; I may therefore, though
with great diffidence, venture to doubt the result. The distance, in a
straight line, from the mouth of the Rio Negro to São Carlos, is rather
less than from the same point to Tabatinga, whose height is 670 feet.
The current however from Tabatinga is much more rapid than down the Rio
Negro, the lower part of which has so little fall, that in the month
of January, when the Amazon begins to rise, the water enters the mouth
of the Rio Negro, and renders that river stagnant for several hundred
miles up. The falls of the Rio Negro I cannot consider to add more than
fifty feet to the elevation, as above and below them the river is not
very rapid. Thus, from this circumstance alone, we should be disposed
to place São Carlos at a rather less elevation than Tabatinga, or
at about 600 feet. My observations up the Rio Negro gave consistent
results. At Castanheiro, about five hundred miles up, the temperature
of boiling water was 212·4°, at the mouth of the Uaupés 212·2°, and at
a point just below São Carlos, 212·0°. This would not give more than
250 feet for the height of São Carlos above Barra; and, as we have
estimated this at 200 feet above the sea, the height of São Carlos will
become 450 feet, which I think will not be found far from the truth.

The velocity of the current varies with the width of the stream and the
time of the year; we have little accurate information on this subject.
In a Brazilian work on the Province of Pará, the Madeira is stated to
flow 2970 braças, or about three and a half miles, an hour in the wet
season. At Obidos I made an observation in the month of November, when
the Amazon is at the lowest level, and found it four miles an hour;
but this by no means represents the current in the rainy season. On
descending to Pará, in the month of June, 1852, I found that we often
floated down about five miles an hour, and as the wind was strong
directly up the river, it probably retarded us, rather than helped us
on, our vessel not being rigged in the best manner.

Martius calculates that 500,000 cubic feet of water per second pass
Obidos. This agrees pretty well with my own calculations of the
quantity in the dry season; when the river is full, it is probably much
greater. If we suppose, on a moderate calculation, that seventy-two
inches, or six feet, of rain fall annually over the whole Amazon
valley, it will amount to 1,500,000 cubic feet per second, the whole of
which must either evaporate, or flow out of the mouth of the Amazon;
so that if we increase the amount given by Martius by one-half, to take
in the lower part of the Amazon and to allow for the whole year, we
shall have the evaporation as one-half of the rain falling annually.

It is a fact which has been frequently stated, and which seems fully
established, that the Amazon carries its fresh waters out into the
ocean, which it discolours for a distance of a hundred and fifty miles
from its mouth. It is also generally stated that the tide flows up the
river as far as Obidos, five hundred miles from the mouth. These two
statements appear irreconcilable, for it is not easy to understand how
the tides can flow up to such a great distance, and yet no salt water
enter the river. But the fact appears to be, that the tide never does
flow up the river at all. The water of the Amazon rises, but during
the flood as well as the ebb the current is running rapidly down. This
takes place even at the very mouth of the river, for at the island of
Mexiana, exposed to the open sea, the water is always quite fresh, and
is used for drinking all the year round. But as salt water is heavier
than fresh, it might flow up at the bottom, while the river continued
to pour down above it; though it is difficult to conceive how this
could take place to any extent without some salt water appearing at the

The rising of the water so far up the river can easily be explained,
and goes to prove also that the slope of the river up to where the tide
has any influence cannot be great; for as the waters of the ocean rose,
the river would of course be banked up, the velocity of its current
still forcing its waters onward; but it is not easy to see how the
stream could be thus elevated to a higher level than the waters of
the ocean which caused the rise, and we should therefore suppose that
at Obidos, where the tidal rise ceases to be felt, the river is just
higher than the surface of the ocean at the highest spring-tides.

A somewhat similar phenomenon is seen at the mouth of the Tapajóz.
Here, at the end of the dry season, there is but a small body of water,
and the current is very sluggish. The Amazon however rises considerably
with the tides, and its waters then become higher than those of the
Tapajóz, and they therefore enter into that river and force it back;
we then see the Amazon flowing rapidly down, at the same time that the
Tapajóz is flowing up.

It seems to be still a disputed question among geographers, whether
the Pará river is or is not a branch of the Amazon. From my own
observation, I am decidedly of opinion that it is not: it appears to me
to be merely the outlet of the Tocantíns and of numerous other small
streams. The canal or channel of Tagipurú, which connects it with the
Amazon, and by which all the trade between Pará and the interior is
carried on, is one of a complete network of channels, along which the
tide ebbs and flows, so as in a great measure to disguise the true
direction and velocity of its current. It seems probable that not a
drop of Amazon water finds its way by this channel into the Pará river,
and I ground my opinion upon the following facts.

It is well known, that in a tidal river the ebb-tide will continue
longer than the flood, because the stream of the river requires to
be overcome, and thus delays the commencement of the flood, while it
facilitates that of the ebb. This is very remarkable in all the smaller
rivers about Pará. Taking this as our guide, we shall be able to
ascertain which way the current in the Tagipurú sets, independently of
the tide.

On my journey from Pará to the Amazon, our canoe could only proceed
with the tide, having to wait moored to the bank while it was against
us, so that we were of course anxious to find the time of our tedious
stoppages diminished. Up to a certain point, we always had to wait more
time than we were moving, showing that the current set against us and
towards Pará; but after passing that point, where there was a bend, and
several streams met, we had but a short time to wait, and a long ebb in
our favour, showing that the current was with us or towards the Amazon,
whereas it would evidently have been different had there been any
permanent current flowing from the Amazon through the Tagipurú towards

I therefore look upon the Tagipurú as a channel formed by the small
streams between the Tocantíns and Xingú, meeting together about
Melgáço, and flowing through a low swampy country in two directions,
towards the Amazon, and towards the Pará river.

At high tides the water becomes brackish, even up to the city of Pará,
and a few miles down is quite salt. The tide flows very rapidly past
Pará, up all the adjacent streams, and as far as the middle of the
Tagipurú channel; another proof that a very small portion, if any, of
the Amazon water is there to oppose it.

The curious phenomenon of the bore, or “piroróco,” in the rivers Guamá
and Mojú, I have described and endeavoured to explain in my Journal,
and need not now repeat the account of it. (See page 131.)

Our knowledge of the courses of most of the tributaries of the Amazon
is very imperfect. The main stream is tolerably well laid down in
the maps as far as regards its general course and the most important
bends; the details however are very incorrect. The numerous islands and
parallel channels,—the great lakes and offsets,—the deep bays,—and the
varying widths of the stream, are quite unknown. Even the French survey
from Pará to Obidos, the only one which can lay claim to detailed
accuracy, gives no idea of the river, because only one channel is
laid down. I obtained at Santarem a manuscript map of the lower part
of the river, much more correct than any other I have seen. It was,
with most of my other papers, lost on my voyage home; but I hope to be
able to obtain another copy from the same party. The Madeira and the
Rio Negro are the only other branches of the Amazon whose courses are
at all accurately known, and the maps of them are very deficient in
anything like detail. The other great rivers, the Xingu, the Tapajóz,
the Purús, Coarí, Teffe, Juruá, Jutaí, Jabarí, Içá, Japurá, etc.,
though all inserted in our maps, are put in quite by guess, or from the
vaguest information of the general direction of their course. Between
the Tocantíns and the Madeira, and between the Madeira and the Uaycali,
there are two tracts of country of five hundred thousand square miles
each, or each twice as large as France, and as completely unexplored as
the interior of Africa.

The Rio Negro is one of the most unknown in its characteristic
features; although, as before stated, its general course is laid down
with tolerable accuracy. I have narrated in my Journal how I was
prevented from descending on the north side of it, and thus completing
my survey of its course.

The most remarkable feature is the enormous width to which it
spreads,—first, between Barra and the mouth of the Rio Branco, and
from thence to near St. Isabel. In some places, I am convinced, it is
between twenty and thirty miles wide, and, for a very great distance,
fifteen to twenty. The sources of the rivers Uaupés, Isanna, Xié, Rio
Negro, and Guaviare, are very incorrectly laid down. The Serra Tunuhy
is generally represented as a chain of hills cutting off these rivers;
it is however a group of isolated granite peaks, about two thousand
feet high, situated on the north bank of the river Isanna, in about 1°
north latitude and 70° west longitude. The river rises considerably
beyond them, in a flat forest-country, and further west than the Rio
Negro, for there is a path across to the Inirizá, a branch of the
Guaviare which does not traverse any stream, so that the Rio Negro does
not there exist.

My own journey up the Uaupés extended to near 72° west longitude.
Five days further, in a small canoe, or about a hundred miles, is the
Juruparí caxoeira, the last fall on the river. Above that, traders have
been twelve days’ journey on a still, almost currentless river, which,
by the colour of its water, and the aspect of its vegetation, resembles
the Upper Amazon. In all this distance, which must reach very nearly to
the base of the Andes, is a virgin forest. The Indians however in the
upper part give account of campos, or plains, and cattle, further up;
and they possess Spanish knives, and other articles, showing that they
have communications with the civilized inhabitants of the country to
the east of Bogotá.

I am therefore strongly inclined to believe that the rivers Ariarí and
others, rising about a hundred miles south of Bogotá, are not, as shown
in all our maps, the sources of the Guaviare, but of the Uaupés, and
that the basin of the Amazon must therefore be here extended to within
sixty miles of the city of Bogotá. This opinion is strengthened by
information obtained from the Indians of Javíta, who annually ascend
the Guaviare to fish in the dry season, and who state that the river
is very small, and in its upper part, where some hills occur, and the
forest ends, it is not more than a hundred yards wide; whereas the
Uaupés, at the furthest point the traders have reached, is still a
large river, from a quarter of a mile to a mile in width.

The Amazon and all its branches are subject, like most tropical rivers,
to an annual rise and fall of very great regularity.

In the main stream, and in all the branches which flow from the Andes,
the waters begin to rise in December or January, when the rains
generally commence, and continue rising till June, when the fine
weather has just set in. The time when the waters begin to fall is
about the 21st of June,—seldom deviating more than a few days from this
date. In branches which have their sources in a different direction,
such as the Rio Negro, the time of rising does not coincide. On that
river the rains do not commence steadily till February or March, when
the river rises with very great rapidity, and generally is quite filled
by June, and then begins to fall with the Amazon. It thus happens
that in the months of January and February, when the Amazon is rising
rapidly, the Rio Negro is still falling in its upper part; the waters
of the Amazon therefore flow into the mouth of the Rio Negro, causing
that river to remain stagnant like a lake, or even occasionally to flow
back towards its source. The total rise of the Amazon between high and
low water mark has not been accurately ascertained, as it cannot be
properly determined without a spirit-level; it is however certainly
not less than forty, and probably often fifty feet. If therefore we
consider the enormous water surface raised fifty feet annually, we
shall gain from another point of view an idea of the immense quantity
of water falling annually in the Amazon valley. We cannot take the
length of the Amazon and its main tributaries at less than ten thousand
miles, and their average width about two miles; so that there will be
a surface of twenty thousand square miles of water, raised fifty feet
every year. But it is not only this surface that is raised, for a great
extent of land on the banks of all the rivers is flooded to a great
depth at every time of high water. These flooded lands are called, in
the language of the country, “gapó,” and are one of the most singular
features of the Amazon. Sometimes on one side, sometimes on both, to
a distance of twenty or thirty miles from the main river, these gapós
extend on the Amazon, and on portions of all its great branches. They
are all covered with a dense virgin forest of lofty trees, whose
stems are every year, during six months, from ten to forty feet under
water. In this flooded forest the Indians have paths for their canoes,
cutting across from one river to another, and much used, to avoid the
strong current of the main stream. From the mouth of the river Tapajoz
to Coary, on the Solimões, a canoe can pass, without once entering the
Amazon: the path lies across lakes, and among narrow inland channels,
and through miles of dense flooded forest, crossing the Madeira, the
Purus, and a hundred other smaller streams. All along, from the mouth
of the Rio Negro to the mouth of the Iça, is an immense extent of gapó,
and it reaches also far up into the interior; for even near the sources
of the Rio Negro, and on the upper waters of the Uaupés, are extensive
tracts of land which are annually overflowed.

In the whole country around the mouth of the Amazon, round the great
island of Marajó, and about the mouths of the Tocantíns and Xingú,
the diurnal and semi-monthly tides are most felt, the annual rise and
fall being almost lost. Here the low lands are overflowed at all the
spring-tides, or every fortnight, subjecting all vegetation to another
peculiar set of circumstances. Considerable tracts of land, still
covered with vegetation, are so low, that they are flooded at every
high water, and again vary the conditions of vegetable growth.


Fully to elucidate the Geology of the Amazon valley, requires much more
time and research than I was able to devote to it. The area is so
vast, and the whole country being covered with forests renders natural
sections so comparatively scarce, that the few distant observations one
person can make will lead to no definite conclusions.

It is remarkable that I was never able to find any fossil remains
whatever,—not even a shell, or a fragment of fossil wood, or anything
that could lead to a conjecture as to the state in which the valley
existed at any former period. We are thus unable to assign the
geological age to which any of the various beds of rock belong.

My notes, and a fine series of specimens of the rocks of the Rio Negro,
were lost, and I have therefore very few materials to go upon.

Granite seems to be, in South America, more extensively developed
than in any other part of the world. Darwin and Gardner found it in
every part of the interior of Brazil, in La Plata, and Chile. Up the
Xingú Prince Adalbert met with it. Over the whole of Venezuela and New
Granada, it was found by Humboldt. It seems to form all the mountains
in the interior of Guiana, and it was met with by myself over the whole
of the upper part of the Rio Negro, and far up the Uaupés towards the

From what I could see of the granitic formation of the Upper Rio Negro,
it appeared to be spread out in immense undulating areas, the hollows
of which, being filled up with alluvial deposits, form those beds of
earth and clay which occur, of various dimensions, everywhere in the
midst of the granite formation. In these places grow the lofty virgin
forests, while on the scantily covered granite rocks, and where beds of
sand occur, are the more open catinga forests, so different in their
aspect and peculiar in their vegetation. What strikes one most in this
great formation, is its almost perfect flatness. There are no ranges
of mountains, or even slightly elevated plateaus; all is level, except
the abrupt peaks that rise suddenly from the plain, to a height of
from one hundred to three thousand feet. In the Upper Rio Negro these
peaks are very numerous. The first is the Serra de Jacamí, a little
above St. Isabel; it rises immediately from the bank of the river, on
the south side, to a height of about six hundred feet. Several others
are scattered about, but the Serras de Curicuriarí are far the most
lofty. They are a group of three or four mountains, rising abruptly
to the height of near three thousand feet; towards their summits are
immense precipices and jagged peaks. Higher up, on the same river, is
another group of rather less height. On the Uaupés are numerous hills,
some conical, others dome-shaped, but all keeping the same character
of abrupt elevations, quite independent of the general profile of the
country. About the falls of the river Uaupés there are small hills of
granite, broken about in the greatest confusion. Great chasms or bowls
occur, and slender pillars of rock rise up like dead trunks out of the
surrounding forest. Up the river Isanna, the Tunuhy mountains are a
similar isolated group. The Cocoí is a quadrangular or cubical mass,
about a thousand feet in elevation, which forms the boundary between
Brazil and Venezuela; and behind it are the Pirapocó, and the serras of
the Cababurís, which seem rather more extensive, and form something
more like a connected range of hills.

[Illustration: _Plate I._

  _a. Fragments imbedded in Granite._
  _b. Granite with twisted veins._
  _c. Stratified rocks protruded through Granite._

  A. R. Wallace, del. et. lith.      F. Reeve, imp.]

But the great peculiarity of them all is, that the country does not
perceptibly rise to their bases; they spring up abruptly, as if
elevated by some local isolated force. I ascended one of the smaller of
these serras as far as practicable, and have recorded my impressions of
it in my Journal. (See page 218.)

The isolation and abrupt protrusion of these mountains is not however
altogether without parallel in the Andes itself. This mighty range,
from all the information I can obtain, rises with almost equal
abruptness from an apparently level plain. The Andes of Quito, and
southward to the Amazon, is like a huge rocky rampart, bounding the
great plain which extends in one unbroken imperceptible slope from the
Atlantic Ocean to its base. It is one of the grandest physical features
of the earth,—this vast unbroken plain,—that mighty and precipitous

The granitic rocks of the Rio Negro in general contain very little
mica; in some places however that mineral is abundant, and exists in
large plates. Veins of pure quartz are common, some of very great
size; and numerous veins or dykes of granite, of a different colour or
texture. The direction of these is generally nearer east and west, than
north and south.

Just below the falls of the Rio Negro are some coarse sandstone rocks,
apparently protruding through the granite, dipping at an angle of 60°
or 70° south-southwest. (Plate I. _c_.) Near the same place a large
slab of granite rock exhibits quantities of curiously twisted or
folded quartz veins (Plate I. _b_), which vary in size from a line to
some inches in diameter, and are folded in a most minute and regular

On an island in the river, near this place, are finely stratified
crystalline rocks, dipping south from 70° to vertical, and sometimes
waved and twisted,

The granite often exhibits a concentric arrangement of laminæ,
particularly in the large dome-shaped masses in the bed of the river
(Plate II. _a_, _c_), or in portions protruding from the ground (Plate
II. _b_). Near São Gabriel, and in the Uaupés, large masses of pure
quartz rock occur, and the shining white precipices of the serras are
owing, I have no doubt, to the same cause. At Pimichin, near the source
of the Rio Negro, the granite contains numerous fragments of stratified
sandstone rock imbedded in it (Plate I. _a_); I did not notice this so
distinctly at any other locality.

High up the river Uaupés there is a very curious formation. All along
the river-banks there are irregular fragments of rocks, with their
interstices filled up with a substance that looks exactly like pitch.
On examination, it is found to be a conglomerate of sand, clay, and
scoriæ, sometimes very hard, but often rotten and easily breaking to
pieces; its position immediately suggests the idea of its having been
liquid, for the fragments of rocks appear to have sunk in it.

Coarse volcanic scoriæ, with a vitreous surface, are found over a
very wide area. They occur at Caripé, near Pará,—above Baião, in
the Tocantíns,—at the mouth of the Tapajóz,—at Villa Nova, on the
Amazon,—above Barra, on the Rio Negro, and again up the Uaupés. A
small conical hill behind the town of Santarem, at the mouth of the
Tapajóz, has all the appearance of being a volcanic cone.

[Illustration: _Plate II._

  _Forms of Granite rocks._

  R. Wallace, del. et. lith.    F. Reeve, imp.]

The neighbourhood of Pará consists entirely of a coarse iron sandstone,
which is probably a continuation of the rocks observed by Mr. Gardner
at Maranham and in the Province of Piauhy, and which he considered
to belong to the chalk formation. Up the Tocantíns we found fine
crystalline stratified rocks, coarse volcanic conglomerates, and
fine-grained slates. At the falls were metamorphic slates and other
hard crystalline rocks; many of these split into flat slabs, well
adapted for building, or even for paving, instead of the stones now
imported from Portugal into Pará. In the serras of Montealegre, on the
north bank of the Amazon, are a great variety of rocks,—coarse quartz
conglomerates, fine crystalline sandstones, soft beds of yellow and
red sandstones, and indurated clay rocks. These beds are all nearly
horizontal, but are much cleft and shattered vertically; they are
alternately hard and soft, and by their unequal decay have formed the
hanging stones and curious cave described in my Journal.

The general impression produced by the examination of the country is,
that here we see the last stage of a process that has been going on,
during the whole period of the elevation of the Andes and the mountains
of Brazil and Guiana, from the ocean. At the commencement of this
period, the greater portion of the valleys of the Amazon, Orinooko, and
La Plata must have formed a part of the ocean, separating the groups of
islands (which those elevated lands formed on their first appearance)
from each other. The sediment carried down into this sea by the rapid
streams running down the sides of these mountains, would tend to fill
up and level the deeper and more irregular depressions, forming those
large tracts of alluvial deposits we now find in the midst of the
granite districts. At the same time volcanic forces were in operation,
as shown by the isolated granite peaks which in many places rise out of
the flat forest district, like islands from a sea of verdure, because
their lower slopes, and the valleys between them, have been covered
and filled up by the sedimentary deposits. This simultaneous action of
the aqueous and volcanic forces, of submarine earthquakes and marine
currents, shaking up, as it were, and levelling the mass of sedimentary
matter brought down from the now increasing surface of dry land, is
what has produced that marvellous regularity of surface, that gradual
and imperceptible slope, which exists over such an immense area.

At the point where the mountains of Guiana approach nearest to the
chain of the Andes, the volcanic action appears to have been continued
in the interval between them, throwing up the serras of Curicuriarí,
Tunuhy, and the numerous smaller granite mountains of the Uaupés; and
it is here probably that dry land first appeared, connecting Guiana
and New Granada, and forming that slightly elevated ridge which is now
the watershed between the basins of the Amazon and Orinooko. The same
thing occurs in the southern part of the continent, for it is where
the mountains of Brazil, and the eastern range of the Bolivian Andes,
stretch out to meet each other, that the sedimentary deposits in that
part appear to have been first raised above the water, and thus to
have determined the limits of the basin of the Amazon on the south. The
Amazon valley would then have formed a great inland gulf or sea, about
two thousand miles long and seven or eight hundred wide.

The rivers and mountain-torrents pouring into it on every side,
would gradually fill up this great basin; and the volcanic action
still visible in the scoriæ of the Tocantíns and Tapajoz, and the
shattered rocks of Montealegre, would all tend to the levelling of
the vast area, and to determining the channels of the future rivers.
This process, continuing for ages, would at length narrow this inland
sea, almost within the limits of what is now gapó, or flooded land.
Ridges, gradually elevated a few feet above the waters, would separate
the tributary streams; and then the eddies and currents would throw
up sand-banks as they do now, and gradually define the limits of the
river, as we now see it. And changes are yet going on. New islands are
yearly forming in the stream, large tracts of flooded land are being
perceptibly raised by the deposits upon them, and the numerous great
lakes are becoming choked with aquatic plants, and filled up with

The large extent of flat land on the banks of the river will still
continue to be flooded, till some renewed earthquakes raise it
gradually above the waters; during which time the stream will work for
itself a wider and deeper bed, capable of containing its accumulated
flood. In the course of ages perhaps this might be produced by the
action of the river itself, for at every annual inundation a deposit
of sediment is formed, and these lands must therefore be rising, and
would in time become permanently elevated above the highest rise of the
river. This however would take a very long time, for as the banks rose,
the river, unable to spread its waters over the adjoining country,
would swell higher, and flow more rapidly than before, and so overflow
a country elevated above the level of its former inundations.

The complete history of these changes,—the periods of elevation and of
repose, the time when the dividing ridges first rose above the waters,
and the comparative antiquity of the tributary streams,—cannot be
ascertained till the country has been more thoroughly explored, and the
organic remains, which must doubtless exist, be brought forward, to
give us more accurate information respecting the birth and growth of
the Amazon.


The climate of the Amazon valley seems remarkable for uniformity of
temperature, and for a regular supply of moisture. There are, in most
parts of it, six months’ wet, and six months’ dry season, neither of
which are so severe as in some other tropical countries. From June to
December is the dry, and from January to May the wet season. In the dry
season there are a few occasional rains, especially about All Saints
day, in November; and during the wet season there are intervals of fine
weather, and often bright mornings, and many days of gentle misty rain.

This is the general character of the climate over the whole of the
main stream of the Amazon and its im- mediate neighbourhood.
There are however remarkable deviations from this general routine,
in particular localities. Pará itself is one of these exceptional
places. Here the seasons are so modified, as to render the climate
one of the most agreeable in the world. During the whole of the dry
season, scarcely ever more than three days or a week passes without a
slight thunderstorm and heavy shower, which comes on about four in the
afternoon, and by six has cleared off again, leaving the atmosphere
delightfully pure and cool, and all vegetable and animal life refreshed
and invigorated. Had I only judged of the climate of Pará from my first
residence of a year, I might be thought to have been impressed by the
novelty of the tropical climate; but on my return from a three years’
sojourn on the Upper Amazon and Rio Negro, I was equally struck with
the wonderful freshness and brilliancy of the atmosphere, and the balmy
mildness of the evenings, which are certainly not equalled in any other
part I have visited.

[Illustration: _Plate III._

  _Comparative Climates of Pará and London._]

The wet season has not so many stormy and cloudy days, as in other
parts. Sunshine and rain alternate, and the days are comparatively
bright and cheerful, even when rainy. Generally, the variation of the
thermometer in any one day does not exceed 15°; 75° being the lowest,
and 90° the highest. The greatest variation in one day is not, I
think, ever more than 20°; and in four years, the lowest and highest
temperatures were 70° and 95°, giving only an extreme variation of
25°. A more equable climate probably does not exist on the earth. (See
Diagram, Plate III.)

On the Guiana side of the Amazon, in the islands of Mexiana and
Marajo, the seasons are more strongly marked than even higher up the
river. In the dry season, for about three months, no rain ever falls;
and in the wet it is almost continual.

But it is in the country about the falls of the Rio Negro, that the
most curious modifications of the seasons occur. Here the regular
tropical dry season has almost disappeared, and a constant alternation
of showers and sunshine occurs, almost all the year round. In the
months of June, July, August, and September, when the Amazon summer is
in all its glory, we have here only a little finer weather about June,
and then rain again as much as ever; till, in January or February,
when the wet season in the Amazon commences, there is generally here
a month or two of fine warm weather. It is then that the river, which
has been very slowly falling since July, empties rapidly, and in March
is generally at its lowest ebb. In the beginning of April it suddenly
begins to rise, and by the end of May has risen twenty feet, and then
continues slowly rising till July, when it reaches its highest point,
and begins to fall with the Amazon. The district of the greatest
quantity of rain, or rather of the greatest number of rainy days, seems
to be very limited, extending only from a little below the falls of São
Gabriel to Marabitanas, at the confines of Brazil, where the Pirapocó
and Cocoí mountains, and the Serra of Tunuhy, seem to form a separation
from the Venezuela district, where there is a more regular summer in
the months of December, January, and February.

The water of the Rio Negro in the month of September did not vary
in temperature more than two degrees. I unfortunately lost my
thermometers, or had intended keeping a regular series of observations
on the waters of the higher parts of the rivers I ascended.

[Illustration: _Plate IV._

  _Mean Atmospheric Pressure at Para for 3 years._]

The extreme variation of the barometer at Pará for three years was only
three-tenths of an inch (see diagram, Plate IV.). The mean height, with
all the necessary corrections, would seem to be almost exactly thirty
inches; I have however already given my reasons for believing that
there is a considerable difference in the pressure of the atmosphere
in the interior of the country. In the month of May some very cold
days are said to occur annually on the Upper Amazon and Rio Negro; but
I never experienced anything of the kind very remarkable myself. Many
intelligent persons have assured me that they sometimes are so severe
that the inhabitants suffer much, and, what is much more extraordinary,
the fishes in the rivers die of it. Allowing this to be the fact, I am
quite unable to account for it, as it is difficult to conceive that a
diminution of temperature of five or ten degrees, which is as much as
ever takes place, can produce any effect upon them.

I have an authentic account of hail having once fallen on the Upper
Amazon, a remarkable occurrence at a place only three degrees south of
the equator, and about two hundred feet above the level of the sea. The
children were out at play, and brought it to their parents, astonished
at a substance falling from the clouds quite new to them, and which was
so remarkably cold. The person who told me was a Portuguese, and his
information can be perfectly relied on.

                              CHAPTER XV.


Perhaps no country in the world contains such an amount of vegetable
matter on its surface as the valley of the Amazon. Its entire extent,
with the exception of some very small portions, is covered with one
dense and lofty primeval forest, the most extensive and unbroken which
exists upon the earth. It is the great feature of the country,—that
which at once stamps it as a unique and peculiar region. It is not here
as on the coasts of southern Brazil, or on the shores of the Pacific,
where a few days’ journey suffices to carry us beyond the forest
district, and into the parched plains and rocky serras of the interior.
Here we may travel for weeks and months inland, in any direction, and
find scarcely an acre of ground unoccupied by trees. It is far up in
the interior, where the great mass of this mighty forest is found;
not on the lower part of the river, near the coast, as is generally

A line from the mouth of the river Parnaíba, in long. 41° 30’ W.,
drawn due west towards Guayaquil, will cut the boundary of the great
forest in long. 78° 30’, and, for the whole distance of about 2600
miles, will have passed through the centre of it, dividing it into two
nearly equal portions.

For the first thousand miles, or as far as long. 56° W., the width of
the forest from north to south is about four hundred miles; it then
stretches out both to the north and south, so that in long. 67° W.
it extends from 7° N., on the banks of the Orinooko, to 18° S., on
the northern slope of the Andes of Bolivia, a distance of more than
seventeen hundred miles. From a point about sixty miles south-east of
Tabatinga, a circle may be drawn of 1100 miles in diameter, the whole
area of which will be virgin forest.

Along the Andes of Quito, from Pasto to Guancabamba, it reaches close
up to the eastern base of the mountains, and even ascends their lower
slopes. In the moderately elevated country between the river Huallaga
and Marañon, the forest extends only over the eastern portion,
commencing in the neighbourhood of Moyobamba. Further on, to the east
of Cuzco and La Paz, it spreads high up on the slopes of the Bolivian
Andes, and passing a little to the west of Santa Cruz de la Sierra,
turns off to the north-east, crossing the Tapajóz and Xingú rivers
somewhere about the middle of their course, and the Tocantíns not far
above its junction with the Araguáya, and then passes over to the river
Parnaíba, which it follows to its mouth.

The Island of Marajó, at the mouth of the Amazon, has its eastern
half open plains, while in the western commences the forest. On the
north of the Amazon, from its mouth to beyond Montealegre, are open
plains; but opposite the month of the Tapajóz at Santarem, the forest
begins, and appears to extend up to the Serras of Carumaní, on the Rio
Branco, and thence stretches west, to join the wooded country on the
eastern side of the Orinooko. West of that river, it commences south of
the Vicháda, and, crossing over the upper waters of the Guaviáre and
Uaupés, reach the Andes east of Pasto, where we commenced our survey.

The forests of no other part of the world are so extensive and unbroken
as this. Those of Central Europe are trifling in comparison; nor
in India are they very continuous or extensive; while the rest of
Asia seems to be a country of thinly wooded plains, and steppes, and
deserts. Africa contains some large forests, situated on the east and
west coasts, and in the interior south of the equator; but the whole of
them would bear but a small proportion to that of the Amazon. In North
America alone is there anything approaching to it, where the whole
country east of the Mississippi and about the great lakes, is, or has
been, an almost uninterrupted extent of woodland.

In a general survey of the earth, we may therefore look upon the New
World as pre-eminently the land of forests, contrasting strongly with
the Old, where steppes and deserts are the most characteristic features.

The boundaries of the Amazonian forest have not hitherto been
ascertained with much accuracy. The open plains of Caguan have
been supposed much more extensive than they really are; but I have
very nearly determined their limits to the south and east, by the
observations I made, and the information I obtained in my voyage up the
Uaupés. Again, on the Uaycáli there is a district marked on the maps
as the “Pampas del Sacramento,” which has been supposed to be an open
plain; but the banks of the Amazon up to the mouth of the Uaycáli are
clothed with thick forest, and Messrs. Smyth and Lowe, who crossed the
Pampa in two places, found no open plains; and from their observations
and those of Lieut. Mawe we must extend the forest district up to near
Moyabamba, west of the Huallaga, and to the foot of the mountains
east of Pasco and Tarma. I was informed by a native of Ecuador, well
acquainted with the country, that the Napo, Tigre, Pastaza, and the
adjacent rivers all flow through dense forest, which extends up even to
Baéza and Canélos and over all the lower slopes of the Andes. Tschudi
informs us that the forest districts commence on all the north and
east slopes of the Andes of Peru, near Huánta, and at Urubámba north
of Cúzco. I have learnt from a gentleman, a native of La Paz, that
immediately on crossing the Bolivian Andes from that city and from
Oropéssa and Santa Cruz, you enter the great forests, which extend
over all the tributaries of the Madeira. Traders up the Purús and all
the southern branches of the Upper Amazon, neither meet with, nor hear
accounts of, any open land, so that there is little doubt but that the
extent here pointed out is one vast, ever-verdant, unbroken forest.

The forests of the Amazon are distinguished from those of most other
countries, by the great variety of species of trees composing them.
Instead of extensive tracts covered with pines, or oaks, or beeches,
we scarcely ever see two individuals of the same species together,
except in certain cases, principally among the Palms. A great extent of
flooded land about the mouth of the Amazon, is covered with the Mirití
Palms (_Mauritia flexuosa_ and _M. vinifera_), and in many places the
Assaí (_Euterpe edulis_) is almost equally abundant. Generally however
the same species of tree is repeated only at distant intervals. On
a road for ten miles through the forest near Pará, there are only
two specimens of the Masserandúba, or Cow-tree, and all through the
adjoining district they are equally scarce. On the Javíta road, on the
Upper Rio Negro, I observed the same thing. On the Uaupés, I once sent
my Indians into the forest to obtain a board of a particular kind of
tree; they searched for three days, and found only a few young trees,
none of them of sufficient size.

Certain kinds of hard woods are used on the Amazon and Rio Negro, for
the construction of canoes and the schooners used in the navigation of
the river. The difficulty of getting timber of any one kind for these
vessels is so great, that they are often constructed of half-a-dozen
different sorts of wood, and not always of the same colours or degrees
of hardness. Trees producing fruit, or with medicinal properties, are
often so widely scattered, that two or three only are found within a
reasonable distance of a village, and supply the whole population. This
peculiarity of distribution must prevent a great trade in timber for
any particular purpose, being carried on here. The India-rubber and
Brazil-nut trees are not altogether exceptions to this rule, and the
produce from them is collected over an immense extent of country, to
which the innumerable lakes and streams offer a ready access.

The chief district from which India-rubber is procured, is in the
country between Pará and the Xingú. On the Upper Amazon and Rio Negro
it is also found, but is not yet collected.

The Brazil-nuts, from the _Bertholletia excelsa_, are brought chiefly
from the interior; the greater part from the country around the
junction of the Rio Negro and Madeira with the Amazon rivers. This
tree takes more than a whole year to produce and ripen its fruits. In
the month of January I observed the trees loaded at the same time with
flowers and ripe fruits, both of which were falling from the tree; from
these flowers would be formed the nuts of the following year; so that
they probably require eighteen months for their complete development
from the bud. The fruits, which are nearly as hard and heavy as
cannon-balls, fall with tremendous force from the height of a hundred
feet, crashing through the branches and undergrowth, and snapping off
large boughs which they happen to strike against. Persons are sometimes
killed by them, and accidents are not unfrequent among the Indians
engaged in gathering them.

The fruits are all procured as they fall from the tree. They are
collected together in small heaps, where they are opened with an axe,
an operation that requires some practice and skill, and the triangular
nuts are taken out and carried to the canoes in baskets. Other trees of
the same family (_Lecythideæ_) are very abundant, and are remarkable
for their curious fruits, which have lids, and are shaped like pots or
cups, whence they are called “pot-trees.” Some of the smaller ones are
called by the natives “cuyas de macaco,”—monkeys’ calabashes.

The next most important vegetable product of the Amazon district,
is the Salsaparilha, the roots of _Smilax syphilitica_, and perhaps
of other allied species. This plant appears to occur over the whole
forest-district of the Amazon, from Venezuela to Bolivia, and from the
Lower Amazon to Peru. It is not generally found near the great rivers,
but far in the interior, on the banks of the small streams, and on dry
rocky ground. It is principally dug up by the Indians, often by the
most uncivilized tribes, and is the means of carrying on a considerable
trade with them.

The Brazilian nutmegs, produced by the _Nectandrum Puchury_, grow in
the country between the Rio Negro and Japura.

The Cumarú, or Tonquin-beans, are very abundant on the Upper Rio Negro,
and are also found near Santarem on the Amazon.

A highly odoriferous bark, called by the Portuguese “Cravo de Maranhão”
(Cloves of Maranham), is produced by a small tree growing only on one
or two small tributaries of the Rio Negro.

A peculiar transparent oil, with an odour of turpentine, called
Sassafras by the Venezuelans, is abundantly obtained by tapping a tree,
common on the Upper Rio Negro, whence it is exported to Barra, and
used for mixing oil-colours. In the Lower Amazon, a bitter oil, called
Andiróba, much used for lamps, is made from a forest fruit.

A whitish resin, with a strong camphorous smell, is produced very
abundantly in the Rio Negro and the Amazon, and is commonly used
as pitch for the canoes and all the larger vessels of the country;
while the inner bark of young trees of the _Bertholletia excelsa_, or
Brazil-nut tree, is used instead of oakum for caulking.

Among the forest-trees of the Amazon, the _Leguminosæ_ are much the
most abundant in species, and they also most attract attention from
their curious bean-like fruits, often of extraordinary size or length.
Some of the Ingás, and allied genera, have pods a yard long, and very
slender; while others are short, and three or four inches wide. There
are some curious fruits of this family, which grow on a stalk three to
five feet long and very slender, appearing as if some one had suspended
a number of pods from the branches by long strings.

The flowers of this family are among the most brilliant and
conspicuous; and their often finely-cut pinnate foliage has a very
elegant appearance.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following is a list of the principal vegetable productions of the
Amazon forests:—

  India-rubber, from the sap of the _Siphonia elastica_.

  Brazil-nuts, the seeds of the _Bertholletia excelsa_.

  Salsaparilha, the roots of _Smilax syphilitica_.

  Tonquin-beans, the seeds of _Dipteryx odorata_.

  Puxiri, the fruit of _Nectandrum Puchury_.

  Sassafras oil, tree not known.

  Andiróba oil, from the fruit of an unknown tree.

  Crajurú, a red colour prepared from the leaves of _Bignonia Chica_.

  Pitch—exudes from a forest tree.

  Cacao, the seeds of _Theobroma Cacao_ and other species.

  Cravo, from an unknown tree.

  Canella, the bark of _Canella alba_.

  Vanilla, the fruits of various species of _Vanilla_.

  Guaraná, a preparation from a fruit, grated in water, to form an
  agreeable and medicinal drink.

  Piassába, the fibres from the petioles of a palm, _Leopoldinia_ n.

  Balsam Capivi, from the _Copaifera officinalis_.

  Silk cotton, from various species of _Bombax_.

In many parts of my Journal, I have expressed an opinion that
travellers have exaggerated the beauty and brilliancy of tropical
vegetation, and on a calm review of all I have seen in the districts I
have visited, I must repeat it.

There is grandeur and solemnity in the tropical forest, but little of
beauty or brilliancy of colour. The huge buttress trees, the fissured
trunks, the extraordinary air roots, the twisted and wrinkled climbers,
and the elegant palms, are what strike the attention and fill the mind
with admiration and surprise and awe. But all is gloomy and solemn,
and one feels a relief on again seeing the blue sky, and feeling the
scorching rays of the sun.

It is on the roadside and on the rivers’ banks, that we see all the
beauty of the tropical vegetation. There we find a mass of bushes and
shrubs and trees of every height, rising over one another, all exposed
to the bright light and the fresh air; and putting forth, within
reach, their flowers and fruit, which, in the forest, only grow far up
on the topmost branches. Bright flowers and green foliage combine their
charms, and climbers with their flowery festoons cover over the bare
and decaying stems. Yet, pick out the loveliest spots, where the most
gorgeous flowers of the tropics expand their glowing petals, and for
every scene of this kind, we may find another at home of equal beauty,
and with an equal amount of brilliant colour.

Look at a field of buttercups and daisies,—a hill-side covered
with gorse and broom,—a mountain rich with purple heather,—or a
forest-glade, azure with a carpet of wild hyacinths, and they will bear
a comparison with any scene the tropics can produce. I have never seen
anything more glorious than an old crab-tree in full blossom; and the
horse-chestnut, lilac, and laburnum will vie with the choicest tropical
trees and shrubs. In the tropical waters are no more beautiful plants
than our white and yellow water-lilies, our irises, and flowering rush;
for I cannot consider the flower of the _Victoria regia_ more beautiful
than that of the _Nymphæa alba_, though it may be larger; nor is it so
abundant an ornament of the tropical waters as the latter is of ours.

But the question is not to be decided by a comparison of individual
plants, or the effects they may produce in the landscape, but on the
frequency with which they occur, and the proportion the brilliantly
coloured bear to the inconspicuous plants. My friend Mr. B. Spruce,
now investigating the botany of the Amazon and Rio Negro, assures me
that by far the greater proportion of plants gathered by him have
inconspicuous green or white flowers; and with regard to the frequency
of their occurrence, it was not an uncommon thing for me to pass days
travelling up the rivers, without seeing any striking flowering tree
or shrub. This is partly owing to the flowers of most tropical trees
being so deciduous: they no sooner open, than they begin to fall; the
Melastomas in particular, generally burst into flower in the morning,
and the next day are withered, and for twelve months that tree bears
no more flowers. This will serve to explain why the tropical flowering
trees and shrubs do not make so much show as might be expected.

From the accounts of eye-witnesses, I believe that the forests of the
southern United States present a more gay and brilliant appearance than
those of tropical America.

Humboldt, in his ‘Aspects of Nature,’ repeatedly remarks on the
contrast between the steppes of Tartary and the llanos of the Orinooko.
The former, in the temperate zone, are gay with the most brilliant
flowers; while the latter, in the tropics, produce little but grasses
and sedges, and but few and inconspicuous flowering plants. Mr. Darwin
mentions the brilliancy of the flowers adorning the plains of Monte
Video, which, with the luxuriant thistles of the Pampas, seems hardly
equalled in the campos of tropical Brazil, where, with some exceptions,
the earth is brown and sterile. The countless beautiful geraniums
and heaths of the Cape cease on entering the tropics, and we have no
account of any plants equally striking and brilliant supplying their

What we may fairly allow of tropical vegetation is, that there is a
much greater number of species, and a greater variety of forms, than
in the temperate zones. Among this great variety occur, as we might
reasonably expect, the most striking and brilliant flowers, and the
most remarkable forms of stem and foliage. But there is no evidence to
show that the proportion of species bearing brightly coloured, compared
to those bearing inconspicuous flowers, is any greater in the tropics,
than in the temperate regions; and with regard to individuals—which is,
after all, what produces the effects of vegetation—it seems probable
that there is a greater mass of brilliant colouring and picturesque
beauty, produced by plants in the temperate, than in the tropical

There are several reasons which lead us to this conclusion. In the
tropics, a greater proportion of the surface is covered either with
dense forests or with barren deserts, neither of which can exhibit many
flowers. Social plants are less common in the tropics, and thus masses
of colour are less frequently produced. Individual objects may be more
brilliant and striking, but the general effect will not be so great, as
that of a smaller number of less conspicuous plants, grouped together
in masses of various colours, so strikingly displayed in the meadows
and groves of the temperate regions.

The changing hues of autumn, and the tender green of spring, are
particular beauties which are not seen in tropical regions, and which
are quite unsurpassed by anything that exists there. The wide expanse
of green meadows and rich pastures is also wanting; and, however much
individual objects may please and astonish, the effect of the distant
landscape is decidedly superior in the temperate parts of the world.

The sensations of pleasure we experience on seeing natural objects,
depends much upon association of ideas with their uses, their novelty,
or their history. What causes the sensations we feel on gazing upon a
waving field of golden corn? Not, surely, the mere beauty of the sight,
but the associations we connect with it. We look on it as a national
blessing, as the staff of life, as the most precious produce of the
soil; and this makes it beautiful in our eyes.

So, in the tropics, the broad-leaved banána, beautiful in itself,
becomes doubly so, when looked upon as producing a greater quantity of
food in a given time, and on a limited space, than any other plant.
We take it as a type of the luxuriance of the tropics,—we look at
its broad leaves, the produce of six months’ growth,—we think of its
delicious and wholesome fruit: and all this is beauty, as we gaze upon

In the same manner, a field of sugar-cane or an extensive plantation of
cotton produces similar sensations: we think of the thousands they will
feed and clothe, and the thought clothes them with beauty.

Palms too are subject to the same influence. They are elegant and
graceful in themselves; they are almost all useful to man; they are
associated with the brightness and warmth of the tropics: and thus they
acquire an additional interest, a new beauty.

To the naturalist everything in the tropics acquires this kind of
interest, for some reason or another. One plant is a tropical form,
and he examines it with curiosity and delight. Another is allied to
some well-known European species, and this too attracts his attention.
The structure of some are unknown, and he is pleased to examine them.
The locality of another is doubtful, and he feels a great pleasure in
determining it. He is ever examining individual objects, and confounds
his own interest in them, from a variety of causes, with the sensations
produced by their beauty, and thus is led to give exaggerated
descriptions of the luxuriance and splendour of the vegetation.

As most travellers are naturalists, this supposition will account for
the ideas of the tropics generally obtained from a perusal of their

If I have come to a different conclusion, it is not that I am incapable
of appreciating the splendours of tropical scenery, but because I
believe that they are not of the kind usually represented, and that
the scenery of our own land is, of its own kind, unsurpassed: there
is nothing approaching it in the tropics, nor is the scenery of the
tropics to be found with us. There,—forms of stems and climbers,
gigantic leaves, elegant palms, and individual plants with brilliant
flowers, are the characteristic features. Here,—an endless carpet of
verdure, with masses of gay blossoms, the varying hues of the foliage,
and the constant variety of plain and forest, meadow and woodland, more
than individual objects, are what fill the beholder with delight.

                             CHAPTER XVI.


                            _A._ MAMMALIA.

Notwithstanding the luxuriance of the vegetation, which might be
supposed to afford sustenance, directly or indirectly, to every kind
of animal life, the Amazon valley is remarkably deficient in large
animals, and of Mammalia generally has a smaller number both of species
and individuals, than any other part of the world of equal extent,
except Australia. Three small species of deer, which occur but rarely,
are the only representatives of the vast herds of countless species of
deer and antelopes and buffaloes which swarm in Africa and Asia, and of
the wild sheep and goats of Europe and North America. The tapir alone
takes the place of the elephants and rhinoceroses of the Old World.
Two or three species of large _Felidæ_, and two wild hogs, with the
capybára and páca, comprise almost all its large game; and all these
are thinly scattered over a great extent of country, and never occur
in such large numbers as do the animals representing them in other
parts of the world.

Those singular creatures, the sloths, the armadilloes, and the
ant-eaters, are very generally distributed, but only occur singly and
sparingly. The small agoutis are perhaps rather more plentiful; but
almost the only animals found in any numbers are the monkeys, which are
abundant, both in species and individuals, and are the only mammalia
that give some degree of life to these trackless forests, which seem
peculiarly fitted for their development and increase.

I met with twenty-one species of these animals, some of which I had no
opportunity of examining. Several others exist; but it is necessary to
reside for some years in each locality, in order to meet with all the
different kinds. I subjoin a list of the species, with the localities
in which they were found.


  1. _Mycetes seniculus_, Geoff.; on the Rio Negro and the north bank
of the Amazon.

  2. _Mycetes caraya_, Gray; on the Upper Amazon.

  3. _Mycetes beelzebub_, Br. Mus.; Pará.

  4. _Lagothrix Humboldtii_, Geoff.; Upper Amazon and west of Rio Negro.

  5. _Ateles paniscus_, Geoff.; Guiana, north bank of Amazon and east
of Rio Negro.

  6. _Cebus apella_, Erxl. (?); Amazon and Rio Negro.

  7. _Cebus gracilis_, Spix; Rio Negro and Upper Amazon.

  8. _Callithrix sciureus_, Geoff.; the whole Amazon valley.

  9. _Callithrix torquatus_ (_amictus_, Geoff.); Upper Rio Negro.

  10. _Callithrix personatus_, Geoff.; south bank of Upper Amazon.

  11. _Nyctipithecus trivirgatus_, Humb.; Upper Rio Negro.

  12. _Nyctipithecus felinus_, Spix ; Upper Amazon.

  13. _Pithecia irrorata_ (_hirsuta_, Spix); south bank of Upper Amazon.

  14. _Pithecia_ ——, north of Upper Amazon.

  15. _Brachiurus satanas_, Br. Mus.; Guiana, east bank of Rio Negro.

  16. _Brachiurus oakary_, Spix; Upper Rio Negro.

  17. _Brachiurus rubicundus_, Isid.; Upper Amazon.

  18. _Brachiurus_ ——, south side of Upper Amazon.

  19. _Jacchus bicolor_, Spix; north of the Amazon and Rio Negro.

  20. _Jacchus tamarin_, Br. Mus.; Pará.

  21. _Jacchus_ n.s., Upper Rio Negro.

Of the above, the first seven have prehensile tails, a character
only found among the monkeys of America. The howlers, forming the
genus _Mycetes_, are the largest and most powerful. They have a bony
vessel situated beneath the chin, and a strong muscular apparatus in
the throat, which assists in producing the loud rolling noise from
which they derive their name, and which appears as if a great number
of animals were crying in concert. This however is not the case; a
full-grown male alone makes the howling, which is generally heard at
night, or on the approach of rain.

The annexed list of the other larger mammalia of the Amazon district,
will serve to confirm the statement of the extreme poverty of these
regions in that class of animals. Owing to the loss of my notes and
specimens, many of the specific names are doubtful: such are marked

       *       *       *       *       *

_Phyllostoma hastatum._—This is a common bat on the Amazon, and is, I
believe, the one which does much injury to the horses and cattle, by
sucking their blood; it also attacks men, when it has opportunity. The
species of blood-sucking bats seem to be numerous in the interior. They
do not inhabit houses, like many of the frugivorous bats, but enter
at dusk through any aperture they may find. They generally attack the
tip of the toe, or sometimes any other part of the body that may be
exposed. I have myself been twice bitten, once on the toe, and the
other time on the tip of the nose; in neither case did I feel anything,
but awoke after the operation was completed: in what way they effect it
is still quite unknown. The wound is a small round hole, the bleeding
of which it is very difficult to stop. It can hardly be a bite, as
that would awake the sleeper; it seems most probable that it is either
a succession of gentle scratches with the sharp edge of the teeth,
gradually wearing away the skin, or a triturating with the point of the
tongue, till the same effect is produced. My brother was frequently
bitten by them, and his opinion was, that the bat applied one of its
long canine teeth to the part, and then flew round and round on that
as a centre, till the tooth, acting as an awl, bored a small hole;
the wings of the bat serving, at the same time, to fan the patient
into a deeper slumber. He several times awoke while the bat was at
work, and though of course the creature immediately flew away, it was
his impression that the operation was conducted in the manner above
described. Many persons are particularly annoyed by bats, while others
are free from their attacks. An old Mulatto at Guia, on the Upper Rio
Negro, was bitten almost every night, and though there were frequently
half-a-dozen other persons in the room, he would be the party favoured
by their attentions. Once he came to us with a doleful countenance,
telling us, he thought the bats meant to eat him up quite, for, having
covered up his hands and feet in a blanket, they had descended beneath
his hammock of open net-work, and, attacking the most prominent part of
his person, had bitten him through a hole in his trowsers! We could not
help laughing at the catastrophe, but to him it was no laughing matter.

Senhor Brandão, of Manaquery, informed me that he had once an Indian
girl in his house, who was much subject to the attacks of the bats.
She was at length so much weakened by loss of blood, that fears were
entertained of her life, if they continued their attacks; and it was
found necessary to send her to a distance, where these bloodthirsty
animals did not abound.

The wound made by them is very difficult to heal, especially in its
usual locality—the tip of the great toe, as it generally renders a shoe
unbearable for a day or two, and forces one to the conclusion that,
after the first time, for the curiosity of the thing, to be bitten by
a bat is very disagreeable. They will however very rarely enter a
lighted room, and for this reason the practice of burning a lamp all
night is almost universal.

_Tapirus Americanus._—The Tapir is common over the whole Amazon
district, but is nowhere very abundant. It feeds on leaves and a great
many different kinds of fruits, and sometimes does much injury in the
mandiocca-fields of the Indians. Its flesh is very good eating, and
is considered very wholesome, and is even said to be a remedy for the
ague. It is a very shy and timid animal, wandering about principally
at night. When the Indian discovers a feeding-place, he builds a
stage between two trees, about eight feet above the ground, and there
stations himself soon after dusk, armed with a gun, or with his bow and
arrow. Though such a heavy animal, the tapir steps as lightly as a cat,
and can only be heard approaching by the gentle rustling of the bushes;
the slightest sound or smell will alarm it, and the Indian lies still
as death for hours, till the animal approaches sufficiently near to be
shot, or until scenting its enemy it makes off in another direction. I
have accompanied the Indians on these expeditions, but always without

_Coassus nemorivagus._

_C. rufus._—These are the small white and red deer of the forests,
found in all parts of the Amazon. They have very small unbranched horns.

_Mazama campestris?_—The “Viado galera,” or horned deer of the Rio
Branco, is probably of this species. It has small branched horns, and
inhabits the open plains, never the thick forests.

_Dicotyles taiaçu._ The smaller wild Hog. Taititú of the Indians.

_D. labiatus?_—The larger species, called by the natives “Taiaçu.”

There seems to be also a third species, of the same size as the last.

_Arctopithecus flaccidus?_ Preguiça real. Ai, L. G. The great Sloth.

_Bradypus torquatus._ Ai, L. G.—These and some other species of sloths
are not uncommon. They feed entirely on leaves, preferring those of the
_Cecropias_. They are frequently attacked by the harpy eagle, and are
also eaten by the Indians. For their habits see pages 48 and 52.

_Myrmecophaga jubata._ Tamanduá assu, L. G. “The great Anteater.”—This
animal is rare, but widely distributed. During rain it turns its long
bushy tail up over its back and stands still; the Indians, when they
meet with one, rustle the leaves, and it thinks rain is falling, and
turning up its tail, they take the opportunity of killing it by a blow
on the head with a stick. It feeds on the large termites, or white
ants, tearing up with its powerful claws the earth and rotten wood
in which their nests are made. The Indians positively assert that it
sometimes kills the jaguar, embracing it and forcing in its enormous
claws, till they mutually destroy each other. They also declare that
these animals are all females, and believe that the male is the
“curupíra,” or demon of the forests: the peculiar organization of the
animal has probably led to this error. It lives entirely on the ground.

_Tamandua tetradactylus?_ The smaller Prehensile-tailed Anteater.—This
animal is entirely arboreal, feeding on the tree termites; it has no
nest, and sleeps in a fork of a tree with its head bent under its body.

_Cyclothurus didactylus._ Tamanduái, L. G. The small Silky-haired
Anteater,—is arboreal, and rather abundant. There is another species
much smaller, and as white as cotton; but it is rare, and I never met
with it.

_Priodonta gigas?_ Tatuassú, L. G. The great Armadillo.—Rather scarce.

_Tatusia septemcinctus?_ Tatu, L. G.—This and another very small
species are the most abundant in the Amazon district, but can seldom
be procured except by hunting with dogs. All the kinds are eaten, and
their flesh is very white and delicate.

_Didelphis_ ——. Opossum. Mucúra, L. G.—Several species are found. They
frequent the neighbourhood of houses, and attack poultry. The young
are carried in an abdominal pouch, like the kangaroos, and have their
little prehensile tails twisted round that of the mother.

_Hydrochærus capybara._ Capywára, L. G.—This animal is found on all the
river-banks. It feeds on grass, and takes to the water and dives when
pursued. It is sometimes eaten, but is not considered very good.

_Cœlogenis paca._ Páca, L. G.—This animal is generally abundant. It is
nocturnal, and is much esteemed for its meat, which is the very best
the country produces, being fat, delicate, and very tender.

_Dasyprocta nigricans_, Natt. Black Agouti. Cotía, L. G.—This species
is found on the Rio Negro.

_D. punctata?_ Yellow Agouti.—This is probably the common Amazon

_D. agouti?_ Cotiwya, L. G.—A smaller species, very widely distributed.
All are eaten, but the meat is rather dry and tasteless.

_Cercolabes prehensilis._ The Brazilian Porcupine.—This animal is
scarce. It is eaten by the Indians.

_Echimys_ ——. Several species of these curious, spinous, rat-like
animals are found on the Upper Rio Negro.

_Cercoleptes caudivolvus._ The Potto.—It is a nocturnal animal, and
inhabits the banks of the Upper Amazon.

_Nasua olivacea?_ Coatí.—Two species, the “Coati” and “Coati mondi” of
the Indians, are found on the Amazon.

_Lontra Brasiliensis?_ The Brazilian Otter,—is abundant on the Rio

                                         6   1–1    4–4
_Galera barbara._ Irára, L. G. Teeth, I. — C.——— M. ——– This is
                                         6   1–1    4–4
a curious animal, somewhat allied to the bears. It lives in trees, and
eats honey, whence probably its Indian name,—from Irá, in the Lingoa
Geral, “honey.”

_Vulpes ——?_ A wild dog, or fox, of the forests; it hunts in small
packs; it is easily domesticated, but is very scarce.

_Leopardus concolor._ The Puma. In the Lingoa Geral, Sasurána, “the
false deer,” from its colour.

_L. onça._ The Jaguar. Jauarité, L. G.—“The Great Dog.”

_L. onça_, var. _nigra_. The Black Jaguar. Jauarité pixuna, L. G. Tigre

_L. pictus_ and _L. griseus_. Tiger Cats. Maracajá, L. G.

The jaguar, or onça, appears to approach very nearly in fierceness and
strength to the tiger of India. Many persons are annually killed or
wounded by these animals. When they can obtain other food, they will
seldom attack man. The Indians however assert that they often face a
man boldly, springing forward till within a few feet of him, and then,
if the man turns, they will attack him; the hunters will sometimes meet
them thus face to face, and kill them with a cutlass. They also destroy
them with the bow and arrow, for which purpose an old knife-blade is
used for the head of the arrow; and they say it is necessary not to
pull too strong a bow, or the arrow will pass completely through the
body of the animal, and not do him so much injury as if it remains in
the wound. For the same reason, in shooting with a gun, they use rough
leaden cylinders instead of bullets, which make a larger and rougher
wound, and do not pass so readily quite through the body. I heard of
one case, of a jaguar entering an Indian’s house, and attacking him in
his hammock.

The jaguar, say the Indians, is the most cunning animal in the forest:
he can imitate the voice of almost every bird and animal so exactly, as
to draw them towards him: he fishes in the rivers, lashing the water
with his tail to imitate falling fruit, and when the fish approach,
hooks them up with his claws. He catches and eats turtles, and I have
myself found the unbroken shells, which he has cleaned completely out
with his paws; he even attacks the cow-fish in its own element, and an
eye-witness assured me he had watched one dragging out of the water
this bulky animal, weighing as much as a large ox.

A young Portuguese trader told me he had seen (what many persons had
before assured me often happened) an onça feeding on a full-grown live
alligator, tearing and eating its tail. On leaving off, and retiring
a yard or two, the alligator would begin to move towards the water,
when the onça would spring upon it, and again commence eating at the
tail, during which time the alligator lay perfectly still. We had been
observing a cat playing with a lizard, both behaving in exactly the
same manner, the lizard only attempting to move when the cat for a
moment left it; the cat would then immediately spring upon it again:
and my informant assured me that he had seen the jaguar treating the
alligator in exactly the same way.

The onça is particularly fond of dogs, and will carry them off in
preference to any other animal. When one has been committing any
depredations, it is a common thing to tie a dog to a tree at night, the
howling of which attracts the onça, who comes to seize it, and is then
shot by a person concealed for the purpose.

It is a general belief among the Indians and the white inhabitants of
Brazil, that the onça has the power of fascination. Many accounts are
given to prove this; among others, a person informed me, that he had
seen an onça standing at the foot of a high tree, looking up into it:
on the top was a guariba, or howling-monkey, looking down at the onça,
and jumping about from side to side, crying piteously; the onça stood
still; the monkey continued descending lower and lower on the branches,
still uttering its cries, till at length it fell down at the very feet
of the onça, which seized and devoured it. Many incidents of this kind
are related by persons who have witnessed them; but whether they are
exaggerated, or are altogether imaginary, it is difficult to decide.
The belief in them, by persons best acquainted with the habits of the
animal, is universal.

Of the smaller Tiger-cats, there are several kinds, but having lost
my collection of skins, I cannot ascertain the species. The Puma
is considered much less fierce than the jaguar, and is very little
feared by the inhabitants. There are several varieties of the jaguar,
distinguished by the Indians by different names. The black variety is
rarer than the others, and is generally thought to be quite distinct;
in some localities it is unknown, while in others it is as abundant as
the ocellated variety.

Many small rodent animals—squirrels, rats, etc.—complete the
terrestrial mammalia of the Amazon district.

The waters of the Amazon, up even to the base of the Andes, are
inhabited by several species of true _Cetacea_, of which however we
have as yet but very scanty information.

Two, if not more, species of Dolphins are common in every part of the
Amazon, and in almost all of its tributaries. They are found above the
falls of the Rio Negro, and in the Cassiquiare and Upper Orinooko.
They vary in size and colour, and two of them have distinct Indian
names,—Piraiowára (Fish-dog), and Tucuxí.

D’Orbigny mentions their being killed by the inhabitants of Bolivia
to make oil. In the Lower Amazon and Rio Negro they are scarcely
ever caught, and I was unable ever to obtain a specimen. The species
described by D’Orbigny is probably distinct, as he mentions their
being twenty feet long, whereas none I have seen could have exceeded
six or seven.

Herbivorous _Cetacea_ are also found in the Amazon; they are called by
the Brazilians, Peixe boi, or cow-fish, and by the Indians, Juarouá.

It has not yet been ascertained, whether the cow-fish of the Amazon is
the same as the _Manatus_ of the West Indies and the coasts of Guiana,
or a distinct species. All the accounts of the _Manatus Americanus_
mention it as being twelve or fifteen feet long on the average, and
sometimes reaching twenty. Those of the Amazon appear to average seven
or eight feet only; of five or six specimens I have myself seen, none
have exceeded this; Lieutenant Smyth saw one on the Upper Uaycali, of
the same size; and Condamine describes the one he saw as not being

The inhabitants of the Amazon give accounts of three kinds, which they
seem to consider distinct, one smaller, and one larger than the common
kind, and differing also in the shape of the tail and fins, and in the

The West Indian species is always described as having external nails on
the edge of the fin, or fore-arm. This I never observed in the Amazon
species; though in cutting the edge of the fin to take out the bones
entire, I must have noticed them, had they been at all so prominent as
usually described; neither does Lieutenant Smyth mention them, though
he could hardly have overlooked so singular an external character.

I am therefore inclined to think that the Amazon possesses one or two
distinct species. Having carefully prepared a skin and skeleton of a
fine male (which, with the rest of my collections, was lost on the
voyage home), I did not describe it so minutely as I otherwise should
have done, but have some notes, referring to male and female specimens,
which I will now give:—

    _Manatus_ of the Amazon.
    Peixe boi, of the Portuguese.
    Vaca marina, of the Spaniards.
    Juarouá, of the Indians’ Lingoa Geral.

    _Dimensions of full-grown male and female specimens from the Rio
                           Negro and Amazon._

                                                 FT.  IN.
  Total length of male and female                 7   0
  Snout to the base of the fins                   1   6
  Snout to the penis in the male                  2   9½
  Snout to the testicles in the male              4   1
  Snout to the vagina in the female               4   1
  Snout to the anus                               4   7
  Snout to the root of the tail                   5   3
  Circumference at the fins                       3   8
  Circumference in middle of body                 5   4
  Circumference at the anus                       4   9½
  Circumference at the root of the tail           2   6
  Breadth of the tail                             1   9
  Length of the fins                              1   2
  Opening for exsertion of penis, in length       0   2
  Teeth, M. ———

The mammæ of the female, one close to the base of each fin behind. The
muzzle is blunt, fleshy, and covered with numerous stiff bristles; the
nostrils are on the upper part of it, and lunate. The lips, thick,
fleshy, and bristly, and the tongue rough. The skin is lead-colour,
with a few pinkish-white marblings on the belly; others have the whole
of the neck and fore-part of the body beneath cream-colour, and
another spot of the same colour on the underside of the tail. The skin
is entirely smooth, resembling India-rubber in appearance, and there
are short hairs scattered over it, about an inch apart; it is an inch
thick on the back, and a quarter of an inch on the belly; beneath it,
is a layer of fat, of an inch or more in thickness, enveloping every
part of the body, and furnishing from five to ten gallons of oil.

The intestines are very voluminous. The lungs are two feet long, and
six or seven inches wide, very cellular, and when blown up, much
resemble a Macintosh air-belt. The ribs are each nearly semicircular,
arching back from the spine, so as to form a ridge or keel inside, and
on the back there is a great depth of flesh. The bone is excessively
hard and heavy, and can scarcely be broken. The dung resembles that of
a horse.

The cow-fish feeds on grass on the margins of the rivers and lakes. It
is captured either with the harpoon, or with strong nets, placed at the
mouth of some lake, whence it comes at night to feed.

Though it has very small eyes, and minute pores for ears, its senses
are very acute; and the fishermen say there is no animal can hear,
see, and smell better, or which requires greater skill and caution
to capture. When caught, it is killed by driving a wooden plug up
its nostrils. The Indian fills his canoe full of water, and sinks it
beneath the body; he then bales out the water, and paddles home with
a load which requires a dozen men to move on shore. The meat is very
good, and both for it and for the oil the animal is much sought after.
It ascends most of the tributaries of the Amazon, but does not pass the
falls or rapids.

                              _B._ BIRDS.

The birds of the Amazon district are so numerous and striking, that
it is impossible here to do more than mention a few of the most
interesting and beautiful, so as to give some general idea of the
ornithology of the district.

Among the birds of prey, the most conspicuous are the King Vulture
(_Sarcorhamphus papa_), and the Harpy Eagle (_Thrasaëtos harpyia_),
both of which are found in the whole district of the lower Amazon.
There is also a great variety of eagles, hawks, kites, and owls, and
probably between twenty and thirty species may be obtained in the
country around Pará.

Those two fine eagles, the _Spizaëtus ornatus_ and the _Morphnus
Guianensis_, inhabit the Upper Amazon.

Among the smaller perching-birds, the yellow-breasted tyrant shrikes
immediately attract attention, perched upon dead trees in the open
grounds. In the forests the curious notes of the bush-shrikes
(_Thamnophilinæ_) are often heard, and the ever-recurring vociferous
cries of the great grey flycatcher (_Lipaugus simplex_).

Several pretty little tanagers are found about Pará; but the exquisite
little seven-coloured tanager (_Calospiza tatao_), and the scarcely
less beautiful scarlet and black one (_Rhamphocelis nigrogularis_), do
not occur till we reach the Rio Negro and the Upper Amazon.

The Chatterers form one of the most splendid families of birds, and we
have on the Amazon some of the finest species, such as the _Cotinga
cayana_, _C. cærulea_, _Phœnicurus carnifex_, and _P. militaris_, which
are found at Pará, and the _C. Pompadour_ a and _P. nigrogularis_ on
the Upper Amazon and Rio Negro.

The hang-nest Orioles, species of _Cassicus_, are numerous, and by
their brilliant plumage of yellow or red and black, and their curious
pendulous nests, give a character to the ornithology of the country.

Woodpeckers, kingfishers, and splendid metallic jacamars and trogons,
are numerous in species and individuals. But of all the families
of birds that inhabit this country, the parrots and the toucans
are perhaps the most characteristic; they abound in species and
individuals, and are much more frequently seen than any other birds.

From Pará to the Rio Negro I met with sixteen species of toucans, the
most curious and beautiful of which is the _Pteroglossus Beauharnasii_,
or “curl-crested Araçari,” whose glossy crest of horny black curls is
unique among birds.

Of parrots and paroquets I found at least thirty distinct species,
varying in size from the little _Psittaculus passerinus_, scarcely
larger than a sparrow, to the magnificent crimson macaws. In ascending
the Amazon, large flocks of parrots are seen, every morning and
evening, crossing the river to their feeding- or resting-places; and
however many there may be, they constantly fly in pairs, as do also the
macaws,—while the noisy little paroquets associate indiscriminately in
flocks, and fly from tree to tree with a rapidity which few birds can

Though humming-birds are almost entirely confined to tropical America,
they appear to abound most in the hilly and mountainous districts,
and the level forests of the Amazon have comparatively few and
inconspicuous ones. The whole number of species I met with in the Lower
Amazon and Rio Negro, does not exceed twenty, and few of them are very
handsome. The beautiful little _Lophornis Gouldi_, found rarely at
Pará, and the magnificent _Topaza pyra_, which is not uncommon on the
Upper Rio Negro, are however exceptions, and will bear comparison with
any species in this wonderful family.

Probably no country in the world contains a greater variety of birds
than the Amazon valley. Though I did not collect them very assiduously,
I obtained upwards of five hundred species, a greater number than can
be found all over Europe; and I have little hesitation in saying that
any one collecting industriously for five or six years might obtain
near a thousand different kinds.

                       _C._ REPTILES AND FISHES.

Like all tropical countries, the Amazon district abounds in reptiles,
and contains many of the largest size and most singular structure. The
lizards and serpents are particularly abundant, and among the latter
are several very venomous species; but the most remarkable are the boa
and the anaconda, which reach an enormous size. The former inhabits the
land, and though it is often found very large, yet the most authentic
and trustworthy accounts of monstrous serpents refer to the latter, the
_Eunectes murinus_ of naturalists, which lives in or near the water.
The Indians are aware of the generic distinction of these creatures,
for while they call the former “Jiboa,” the latter is the “Sucurujú.”

The largest specimens I met with myself were not more than from fifteen
to twenty feet long, but I have had several accounts of their having
been killed, and measured, of a length of thirty-two feet. They have
been seen very much larger, but, as may be supposed, are then very
difficult to kill or secure, owing to their tenacity of life and their
aquatic habits. It is an undisputed fact that they devour cattle
and horses, and the general belief in the country is that they are
sometimes from sixty to eighty feet long.

Alligators of three or four distinct species abound in the Amazon,
and in all its tributary streams. The smaller ones are eaten by the
natives, the larger often devour them in return. In almost every
village some persons may be seen maimed by these creatures, and many
children are killed every year. The eggs of all the different kinds are
eaten, though they have a very strong musky odour. The largest species
(_Jacare nigra_) reaches a length of fifteen, or rarely of twenty feet.

The most interesting and useful reptiles of the Amazon are however
the various species of fresh-water turtles, which supply an abundance
of wholesome food, and from whose eggs an excellent oil is made. The
largest and most abundant of these is the Tataruga, or great turtle of
the Amazon, the Jurará of the Indians. It grows to the length of three
feet, and has an oval flattish shell of a dark colour and quite smooth;
it abounds in all parts of the Amazon, and in most places is the common
food of the inhabitants.

In the month of September, as soon as the sand-banks begin to be
uncovered, the females deposit their eggs, scraping hollows of a
considerable depth, covering them over carefully, smoothing and beating
down the sand, and then walking across and across the place in various
directions for the purpose of concealment. There are such numbers
of them, that some beaches are almost one mass of eggs beneath the
surface, and here the Indians come to make oil. A canoe is filled with
the eggs, which are all broken and mashed up together. The oil rises
to the top, and is skimmed off and boiled, when it will keep, and is
used both for light and for cooking. Millions of eggs are thus annually
destroyed, and the turtles have already become scarce in consequence.
There are some extensive beaches which yield two thousand pots of
oil annually; each pot contains five gallons, and requires about two
thousand five hundred eggs, which would give five millions of eggs
destroyed in one locality.

But of those that remain, a very small portion only can arrive at
maturity. When the young turtles issue from the egg, and run to the
water, many enemies are awaiting them. Great alligators open their jaws
and swallow them by hundreds; the jaguars from the forest come and feed
upon them; eagles and buzzards, and the great wood ibises attend the
feast; and when they have escaped all these, there are many ravenous
fishes which seize them in the stream.

The Indians catch the full-grown turtles, either with the hook, net,
or arrow. The last is the most ingenious method, and requires the most
skill. The turtle never shows its back above water, only rising to
breathe, which it does by protruding its nostrils almost imperceptibly
above the surface: the Indian’s keen eyes perceive this, even at a
considerable distance; but an arrow shot obliquely would glance off
the smooth flat shell, so he shoots up into the air with such accurate
judgment, that the arrow falls nearly vertically upon the shell, which
it penetrates, and remains securely fixed in the turtle’s back. The
head of the arrow fits loosely on to the shaft, and is connected with
it by a long fine cord, carefully wound round it; as the turtle dives,
they separate, the light shaft forming a float or buoy, which the
Indian secures, and by the attached cord draws the prize up into his
canoe. In this manner almost all the turtles sold in the cities have
been procured, and the little square vertical hole of the arrow-head
may generally be seen in the shell.

Besides the great tataruga (_Podocnemis expansa_), there are several
smaller kinds, also much used for food. The Tracaxa (_Emys tracaxa_,
Spix) and the Cabeçudo (_E. macrocephala_, Spix) have been described
by the French naturalists, Duméril and Bibron, as one species, under
the name of _Peltocephalus tracaxa_; but they are quite distinct, and
though their characters are perhaps not easy to define, they could
never be confounded by any one who had examined them in the living
state. They are found too in different localities. The tracaxa is
abundant in the Amazon, in the Orinooko, and in the Guaviare, all
white-water rivers, and very scarce in the Rio Negro. The cabeçudo
is very abundant in the Rio Negro and in the Atabapo, but is not
found in the Guaviare or the Amazon, appearing to be confined to the
black-water streams. I obtained ten distinct kinds of river tortoises,
or _Chelydidæ_, and there are also two or three kinds of land-tortoises
inhabiting the adjacent district.

As might be expected in the greatest river in the world, there is a
corresponding abundance and variety of fish. They supply the Indians
with the greater part of their animal food, and are at all times more
plentiful, and easier to be obtained, than birds or game from the

During my residence on the Rio Negro I carefully figured and described
every species I met with; and at the time I left, fresh ones were every
day occurring. The soft-finned fishes are much the most numerous,
and comprise some of the best kinds for food. Of the _Siluridæ_
I obtained fifty-one species, of _Serrasalmo_ twenty-four, of
_Chalceus_ twenty-six, of _Gymnotus_ ten, and of spinous-finned fishes
(_Acanthopterygia_) forty-two. Of all kinds of fishes I found two
hundred and five species in the Rio Negro alone, and these, I am sure,
are but a small portion of what exist there. Being a black-water river,
most of its fishes are different from those found in the Amazon. In
fact, in every small river, and in different parts of the same river,
distinct kinds are found. The greater part of those which inhabit the
Upper Rio Negro are not found near its mouth, where there are many
other kinds equally unknown in the clearer, darker, and probably colder
waters of its higher branches. From the number of new fishes constantly
found in every fresh locality and in every fisherman’s basket, we may
estimate that at least five hundred species exist in the Rio Negro and
its tributary streams. The number in the whole valley of the Amazon, it
is impossible to estimate with any approach to accuracy.

                             _D._ INSECTS.

To describe the countless tribes of insects that swarm in the dense
forests of the Amazon, would require volumes. In no country in the
world is there more variety and beauty; nowhere are there species
of larger size or of more brilliant colours. Here are found the
extraordinary harlequin-beetle, the gigantic _Prioni_ and _Dynastes_;
but these are exceptions to the great mass of the _Coleoptera_, which,
though in immense variety, are of small size and of little brilliancy
of colour, offering a great contrast to the generally large-sized and
gorgeous species of tropical Africa, India, and Australia. In the
other orders the same rule holds good, except in the _Hymenoptera_,
which contain many gigantic and handsome species. It is in the lovely
butterflies that the Amazonian forests are unrivalled, whether we
consider the endless variety of the species, their large size, or their
gorgeous colours. South America is the richest part of the world in
this group of insects, and the Amazon seems the richest part of South
America. This continent is distinguished from every other, by having a
most extensive and peculiar family, the _Heliconiidæ_, of which not a
single species is found in either Europe, Asia, Africa, nor even North
America (excepting Mexico). Another family, still more extensive, of
exquisitely beautiful small butterflies, the _Erycinidæ_, is also
almost peculiar to it, a few species only, being found in tropical Asia
and Africa. In both these peculiar families the Amazon is particularly
rich, so that we may consider it as the head-quarters of South American

Pará itself, for variety of species, is perhaps the best locality for
diurnal _Lepidoptera_; six hundred distinct kinds may be obtained
within a day’s journey of the city. At Santarem I had increased my
collection to seven hundred species, at Barra to eight hundred,
and I should have brought home with me nine hundred species had my
collections arrived in safety. Mr. Bates, who has paid more exclusive
attention to insects, states that he has now obtained twelve hundred
species,—a wonderful collection to be made by one person, in a country
without any variation of climate or of physical features, and no part
of it elevated five hundred feet above the level of the sea.


There is no part of natural history more interesting or instructive,
than the study of the geographical distribution of animals.

It is well known that countries possessing a climate and soil very
similar, may differ almost entirely in their productions. Thus Europe
and North America have scarcely an animal in common in the temperate
zone; and South America contrasts equally with the opposite coast of
Africa; while Australia differs almost entirely in its productions
from districts under the same parallel of latitude in South Africa
and South America. In all these cases there is a wide extent of sea
separating the countries, which few animals can pass over; so that,
supposing the animal productions to have been originally distinct, they
could not well have become intermixed.

In each of these countries we find well-marked smaller districts,
appearing to depend upon climate. The tropical and temperate parts of
America and Africa have, generally speaking, distinct animals in each
of them.

On a more minute acquaintance with the animals of any country, we
shall find that they are broken up into yet smaller local groups, and
that almost every district has peculiar animals found nowhere else.
Great mountain-chains are found to separate countries possessing very
distinct sets of animals. Those of the east and west of the Andes
differ very remarkably. The Rocky Mountains also separate two distinct
zoological districts; California and Oregon on the one side, possessing
plants, birds, and insects, not found in any part of North America east
of that range.

But there must be many other kinds of boundaries besides these, which,
independently of climate, limit the range of animals. Places not more
than fifty or a hundred miles apart, often have species of insects and
birds at the one, which are not found at the other. There must be some
boundary which determines the range of each species; some external
peculiarity to mark the line which each one does not pass.

These boundaries do not always form a barrier to the progress of
the animal, for many birds have a limited range, in a country where
there is nothing to prevent them flying in every direction,—as in
the case of the nightingale, which is quite unknown in some of our
western counties. Rivers generally do not determine the distribution of
species, because, when small, there are few animals which cannot pass
them; but in very large rivers the case is different, and they will, it
is believed, be found to be the limits, determining the range of many
animals of all orders.

With regard to the Amazon and its larger tributaries, I have
ascertained this to be the case, and shall here mention the facts which
tend to prove it.

On the north side of the Amazon, and the east of the Rio Negro, are
found the following three species of monkeys, _Ateles paniscus_,
_Brachiurus satanas_, and _Jacchus bicolor_. These are all found
close up to the margins of the Rio Negro and Amazon, but never on the
opposite banks of either river; nor am I able to ascertain that either
of them have ever been found in any other part of South America than
Cayenne or Guiana, and the eastern part of Venezuela, a district which
is bounded on the south and west by the Amazon and Rio Negro.

The species of _Pithecia_, No. 14 of my list, is found on the west side
of the Rio Negro for several hundred miles, from its mouth up to the
river Curicuriarí, but never on the east side, neither is it known on
the south side of the Upper Amazon, where it is replaced by an allied
species, the _P. irrorata_ (_P. hirsuta_, Spix), which, though abundant
there, is never found on the north bank. These facts are, I think,
sufficient to prove that these rivers do accurately limit the range of
some species, and in the cases just mentioned, the evidence is the
more satisfactory, because monkeys are animals so well known to the
native hunters, they are so much sought after for food, and all their
haunts are so thoroughly searched, and the localities for the separate
kinds are so often the subject of communication from one hunter to
another, that it is quite impossible that any well-known species can
exist in a particular district, unknown to men whose lives are occupied
in forming an acquaintance with the various tenants of the forests.

On the south side of the Lower Amazon, in the neighbourhood of Pará,
are found two monkeys, _Mycetes beelzebub_ and _Jacchus tamarin_,
which do not pass the river to the north. I have never heard of
monkeys swimming over any river, so that this kind of boundary might
be expected to be more definite in their case than in that of other
quadrupeds, most of which readily take to the water.

Towards their sources, rivers do not form a boundary between distinct
species; but those found there, though ranging on both sides of the
stream, do not often extend down to the mouth.

Thus on the Upper Rio Negro and its branches, are found the _Callithrix
torquatus_, _Nyctipithecus trivirgatus_, and _Jacchus_ (No. 21), none
of which inhabit the Lower Río Negro or Amazon; they are probably
confined to the granitic districts which extend from Guiana across the
sources of the Rio Negro towards the Andes.

Among birds it cannot be expected that we should find many proofs of
rivers limiting their range; but there is one very remarkable instance
of a genus, the three known species of which are separated by rivers,
namely, the three species of the genus _Psophia_, _P. crepitans_
(Linn.), _P. viridis_ (Spix), and _P. leucoptera_ (Spix). The _P.
crepitans_ is the common trumpeter of Guiana; it extends into the
interior all over the country, beyond the sources of the Rio Negro and
Orinooko, towards the Andes, and down to the Amazon, both east and west
of the Rio Negro, but is never found on the south side of the Amazon.

The _P. viridis_ is found in the forests of Pará, at Villa Nova, on the
south bank of the Amazon, and up to the Madeira, where it is found at
Borba, on the east bank.

The _P. leucoptera_, a most beautiful white-backed species, is found
also on the south bank of the Amazon, at São Paulo, at Ega, at Coarí,
and opposite the mouth of the Rio Negro, but not east of the Madeira,
where the green-backed species commences. These birds are all great
favourites in the houses of the Brazilians, and all three may sometimes
be seen domesticated at Barra, where they are brought by the traders
from the different districts in which they are found. They are
inhabitants of the dense forests, and scarcely ever fly; so that we see
the reason why the rivers should so sharply divide the species, which,
spreading towards each other from different directions, might otherwise
become intermingled. It is not improbable that, if the two Brazilian
species extend as far as the sources of the Madeira, they may be found
inhabiting the same district.

Of the smaller perching-birds and insects, which doubtless would
have afforded many interesting facts corroborative of those already
mentioned, I have nothing to say, as my extensive collection of
specimens from the Rio Negro and Upper Amazon, all ticketed for my
own use, have been lost; and of course in such a question as this, the
exact determination of species is everything.

The two beautiful butterflies, _Callithea sapphira_ and _C. Leprieuri_,
which were originally found, the former in Brazil, and the latter in
Guiana, have been taken by myself on the opposite banks of the Amazon,
within a few miles of each other, but neither of them on both sides of
that river.

Mr. Bates has since discovered another species, named after himself,
on the south side of the Amazon; and a fourth, distinct from either of
them, was found by me high up in one of the north-western tributaries
of the Rio Negro, so that it seems probable that distinct species of
this genus inhabit the opposite shores of the Amazon.

The cock of the rock, _Rupicola cayana_, is, on the other hand, an
example of a bird having its range defined by a geological formation,
and by the physical character of the country. Its range extends in a
curving line along the centre of the mountainous district of Guiana,
across the sources of the Rio Negro and Orinooko, towards the Andes; it
is thus entirely comprised in the granite formation, and in that part
of it where there are numerous peaks and rocks, in which the birds make
their nests.

Whether it actually reaches the Andes, or occurs in the same district
with the allied _R. Peruviana_, is not known, but personal information
obtained in the districts it inhabits, shows that it is confined to the
narrow tract I have mentioned, between 1° south and 6° north latitude,
and from the mountains of Cayenne to the Andes, south of Bogotá.

Another bird appears bounded by a geological formation. The common
red-backed parrot, _Psittacus festivus_, is found all over the Lower
Amazon, but, on ascending the Rio Negro, has its northern limit about
St. Isabel, or just where the alluvial country ends and the granite
commences; it also extends up the Japura, but does not pass over to the
Uaupés, which is all in the granite district.

The fine blue macaw (_Macrocercus Maximilianus?_) inhabits the borders
of the hilly country south of the Amazon, from the sea-coast probably
up to the Madeira. Below Santarem, it is sometimes found close up to
the banks of the Amazon, but is said never to cross that river. Its
head-quarters are the upper waters of the Tocantíns, Xingú, and Tapajoz

As another instance of a bird not crossing the Amazon, I may mention
the beautiful curl-crested Araçarí (_Pteroglossus Beauharnasii_), which
is found on the south side of the Upper Amazon, opposite the Rio Negro,
and at Coarí and Ega, but has never been seen on the north side. The
green Jacamar of Guiana also (_Galbula viridis_) occurs all along the
north bank of the Amazon, but is not found on the south, where it is
replaced by the _G. cyanocollis_ and _G. maculicauda_, both of which
occur in the neighbourhood of Pará.

                             CHAPTER XVII.


Comparing the accounts given by other travellers with my own
observations, the Indians of the Amazon valley appear to be much
superior, both physically and intellectually, to those of South Brazil
and of most other parts of South America; they more closely resemble
the intelligent and noble races inhabiting the western prairies of
North America. This view is confirmed by Prince Adalbert of Prussia,
who first saw the uncivilized Indians of South Brazil, and afterwards
those of the Amazon; and records his surprise and admiration at the
vast superiority of the latter in strength and beauty of body, and in
gentleness of disposition.

I have myself had opportunities of observing the Aborigines of the
interior, in places where they retain all their native customs and
peculiarities. These truly uncivilized Indians are seen by few
travellers, and can only be found by going far beyond the dwellings of
white men, and out of the ordinary track of trade. In the neighbourhood
of civilization the Indian loses many of his peculiar customs,—changes
his mode of life, his house, his costume, and his language,—becomes
imbued with the prejudices of civilization, and adopts the forms and
ceremonies of the Roman Catholic religion. In this state he is a
different being from the true denizen of the forests, and it may be
doubted, where his civilization goes no further than this, if he is not
a degenerate and degraded one; but it is in this state alone that he is
met with by most travellers in Brazil, on the banks of the Amazon, in
Venezuela, and in Peru.

I do not remember a single circumstance in my travels so striking and
new, or that so well fulfilled all previous expectations, as my first
view of the real uncivilized inhabitants of the river Uaupés. Though I
had been already three years in the country, and had seen Indians of
almost every shade of colour and every degree of civilization, I felt
that I was as much in the midst of something new and startling, as if I
had been instantaneously transported to a distant and unknown country.

The Indians of the Amazon and its tributaries, are of a countless
variety of tribes and nations; all of whom have peculiar languages and
customs, and many of them some distinct physical characteristics. Those
now found in the city of Pará, and all about the country of the Lower
Amazon, have long been civilized,—have lost their own language, and
speak the Portuguese, and are known by the general names of Tapúyas,
which is applied to all Indians, and seems to be a corruption of
“Tupis,” the name applied to the natives of the coast-districts, on
the first settlement of the country. These Indians are short, stout,
and well made. They learn all trades quickly and well, and are a
quiet, good-natured, inoffensive people. They form the crews of most
of the Pará trading canoes. Their main peculiarity consists in their
short stature, which is more observable than in any other tribe I am
acquainted with. It may be as well, before proceeding further, to
mention the general characteristics of the Amazon Indians, from which
the particular tribes vary but very slightly.

They are, a skin of a coppery or brown colour of various shades, often
nearly the tint of smooth Honduras mahogany,—jet-black straight hair,
thick, and never curled,—black eyes, and very little or no beard.
With regard to their features, it is impossible to give any general
characteristics. In some the whole face is wide and rather flattened,
but I never could discern an unusual obliquity of the eyes, or
projection of the cheek-bones; in many, of both sexes, the most perfect
regularity of features exists, and there are numbers who in colour
alone differ from a good-looking European.

Their figures are generally superb; and I have never felt so
much pleasure in gazing at the finest statue, as at these living
illustrations of the beauty of the human form. The development of the
chest is such as I believe never exists in the best-formed European,
exhibiting a splendid series of convex undulations, without a hollow in
any part of it.

Some native tribes exist in the rivers Guamá, Capím, and Acarrá, just
above the city of Pará, but I could learn little definite about them.
High up the rivers Tocantíns and Araguáya, there are numerous tribes
of tall well-formed Indians, some of whom I have seen in Pará, where
they arrive in canoes from the interior. Most of them have enormously
elongated ears hanging down on their shoulders, produced probably by
weights suspended from the lobe in youth. On the Xingú are many native
tribes, some of whom were visited by Prince Adalbert. On the next
river, the Tapajóz, dwell the Mundrucus, and they extend far into the
interior, across to the Madeira and to the river Purús; they are a very
numerous tribe, and portions of them are now civilized. The Múras,
another of the populous tribes, are also partly civilized, about the
mouths of the Madeira and Rio Negro; but in the interior, and up the
river Purús, many yet live in a totally wild and savage state.

All along the banks of the main streams of the Amazon, Solimões,
Madeira, and Rio Negro, live Indians of various races, in a
semi-civilized state, and with their peculiar habits and languages in
a great measure lost. Traces of these peculiarities are however still
to be found, in the painted pottery manufactured at Breves, the elegant
calabashes of Montealegre, the curious baskets of some tribes on the
Rio Negro, and the calabashes of Ega, always painted in geometrical

Commencing near Santarem, and extending among all the half-civilized
Indians of the Amazon, Rio Negro, and other rivers, the Lingoa Geral,
or general Indian language, is spoken. Near the more populous towns
and villages, it is used indiscriminately with the Portuguese; a
little further, it is often the only language known; and far up in the
interior it exists in common with the native language of the tribe
to which the inhabitants belong. Thus on the Lower Amazon, all the
Indians can speak both Portuguese and Lingoa Geral; on the Solimões and
Rio Negro, Lingoa Geral alone is generally spoken; and in the interior,
on the lakes and tributaries of the Solimões, the Múra and Jurí tongues
are in common use, with the Lingoa Geral as a means of communication
with the traders. Near the sources of the Rio Negro, in Venezuela, the
Barré and Baníwa languages are those used among the Indians themselves.

The Lingoa Geral is the Tupi, an Indian language found in the country
by the Jesuits, and modified and extended by them for use among all
the tribes included in their missions. It is now spread over all the
interior of Brazil, and even extends into Peru and Venezuela, as well
as Bolivia and Paraguay, and is the general vehicle of communication
between the Brazilian traders and the Indians. It is a simple and
euphonious language, and is often preferred by Europeans who get
thoroughly used to it. I knew a Frenchman who had been twenty years
in the Solimões, who always conversed with his wife and children in
Lingoa Geral, and could speak it with more ease than either French or
Portuguese; and, in many cases, I have seen Portuguese settlers whose
children were unable to speak any other language.

I shall now proceed to give some account of the various tribes that
still exist, in all their native integrity, among the trackless forests
of the Purús, Rio Branco, Japurá, and rivers Uaupés and Isánna, near
the sources of the Rio Negro.

As I am best acquainted with the Indians of the river Uaupés, I shall
first state all I know of them, and then point out the particulars in
which other nations differ from them. The tribes which inhabit the
Uaupés, as far as any of the traders ascend, and of which I can get any
information, are the following:—

                         _Up the main stream._

  1. Queianás, at São Joaquim.
  2. Tariánas, about São Jeronymo.
  3. Ananás (Pine-apples), below Jauarité.
  4. Cobéus, about Carurú caxoeira.
  5. Piraiurú (Fish’s mouth).
  6. Pisá (Net).
  7. Carapaná (Mosquito), Jurupuri caxoeira.
  8. Tapüra (Tapir).
  9. Uaracú (a Fish), above Jukeira Paraná.
  10. Cohídias.
  11. Tucundéra (an Ant).
  12. Jacamí (Trumpeter).
  13. Mirití (Mauritia Palm), Baccate Paraná.
  14. Omáuas.

                         _On the river Tiquié._

  15. Macunás.
  16. Taiassú (Pig Indians).
  17. Tijúco (Mud Indians).

                           _On Japoó Paraná._

  18. Arapásso (Woodpeckers).

                        _On the river Apaporís._

  19. Tucános (Toucans).
  20. Uacarrás (Herons).
  21. Pirá (Fish).
  22. Desannas.

                        _On the river Quiriri._

  23. Ipécas (Ducks).
  24. Gi (Axe).
  25. Coúa (Wasp).

                        _On the river Codaiarí._

  26. Corócoró (Green Ibis).
  27. Bauhúnas.
  28. Tatús (Armadillos).

                          _On Canísi Paraná._

  29. Tenimbúca (Ashes).

                          _On Jukeíra Paraná._

  30. Mucúra (Opossum).

These tribes have almost all of them some peculiarities of language
and customs, but they all go under the general name of “Uaupés,” and
distinguish themselves, as a body, from the inhabitants of other
rivers. Hence the river is called “Rio dos Uaupés” (the River of the
Uaupés), though the proper name of it is “Uacaiarí,” and it is always
so termed by the Indians.

The Uaupés are generally rather tall, five feet nine or ten inches
being not an uncommon height, and they are very stout and well formed.
Their hair is jet-black and straight, only turning grey with extreme
old age. The men do not cut their hair, but gather it behind into a
long tail, bound round with cord, and hanging down to the middle of the
back, and often to the thighs; the hair of the women hangs loose down
their backs, and is cut to a moderate length. The men have very little
beard, and that little they eradicate by pulling it out; men and women
also eradicate the hair of the eyebrows, the arm-pits, and the private
parts. The colour of the skin is a light, uniform, glossy reddish-brown.

They are an agricultural people, having a permanent abode, and
cultivating mandiocca (_Jatropha Manihot_), sugar-cane (_Saccharum
officinarum_), sweet potatoes (_Convolvulus Batatas_), carrá, or
yam (_Dioscorea_ sp.), pupunha palms (_Guilielma speciosa_), cocura
(a fruit like grapes), pine-apples (_Ananassa sativa_), maize (_Zea
Mays_), urucú or arnotto (_Bixa Orellana_), plantains and banánas
(_Musa_ sp.), abios (_Lucuma Caimito_), cashews (_Anacardium
occidentale_), ingás (_Inga_ sp.), peppers (_Capsicum_ sp.), tobacco
(_Nicotiana Tabacum_), and plants for dyes and cordage. All, even in
the most remote districts, have now iron axes and knives, though the
stone axes which they formerly used are still to be found among them.
The men cut down the trees and brush-wood, which, after they have lain
some months to dry, are burnt; and the mandiocca is then planted by
the women, together with little patches of cane, sweet potatoes, and
various fruits. The women also dig up the mandiocca, and prepare from
it the bread which is their main subsistence. The roots are brought
home from the field in large baskets called aturás, made of a climber,
and only manufactured by these tribes; they are then washed and peeled,
this last operation being generally performed with the teeth, after
which they are grated on large wooden graters, about three feet long
and a foot wide, rather concave, and covered all over with small sharp
pieces of quartz, set in in a regular diagonal pattern. These graters
are an article of trade in all the Upper Amazon, as they are cheaper
than the copper graters used in other parts of Brazil. The pulp is
placed to drain on a large sieve made of the bark of a water-plant. It
is then put into a long elastic cylinder made of the outer rind, or
bark, of a climbing palm, a species of _Desmoncus_: this is filled with
the half-dry pulp, and, being hung on a crossbeam between two posts,
is stretched by a lever, on the further end of which the woman sits,
and thus presses out the remaining liquid. These cylinders, called
“tipitis,” are also a considerable article of trade, and the Portuguese
and Brazilians have not yet introduced any substitute for this rude
Indian press. The pulp is then turned out, a dry compact mass, which
is broken up, and the hard lumps and fibres picked out, when it is at
once roasted on large flat ovens from four to six feet in diameter,
with a sloping rim about six inches high. These ovens are well made,
of clay mixed with the ashes of the bark of a tree called “caripé,”
and are supported on walls of mud about two feet high, with a large
opening on one side, to make a fire of logs of wood beneath them. The
mandiocca cakes, or “beijú,” thus prepared, are sweet and agreeable to
the taste; but the Indians generally first soak the roots some days
in water, which softens and ferments them, and gives the bread a sour
taste, much relished by the natives, but not generally so agreeable to
Europeans. The bread is made fresh every day, as when it gets cold and
dry it is far less palatable. The women thus have plenty to do, for
every other day at least they have to go to the field, often a mile or
two distant, to fetch the root, and every day to grate, prepare, and
bake the bread; as it forms by far the greater part of their food, and
they often pass days without eating anything else, especially when the
men are engaged in clearing the forest. For the greater part of the
year however the men go daily to fish, and at these times they have
a good supply of this their favourite food. Meat and game they only
eat occasionally; they prefer jabutís, or land-tortoises, monkeys,
inambus (_Tinamus_ sp.), toucans, and the smaller species of wild pig
(_Dicotyles torquatus_). But they will not eat the large wild pig (_D.
labiatus_), the anta (_Tapirus Americanus_), or the white-rumped mutun
(_Crax globicera?_). They consume great quantities of peppers (species
of _Capsicum_), preferring the small red ones, which are of excessive
pungency: when they have no fish, they boil several pounds of these
peppers in a little water, and dip their bread into the fiery soup thus

The poisonous juice expressed from the mandiocca root, when fermented
and boiled in various ways, forms sauces and peculiarly flavoured
drinks, of which they are very fond. In making their bread they have a
peculiarity, not noticed among the neighbouring tribes, of extracting
pure tapioca from the mandiocca, and, by mixing this with the ordinary
pulp, forming a very superior cake.

They use plantains extensively, eating them as a fruit, and making a
mingau, or gruel, by boiling and beating them up into a pulp, which
is a very agreeable food. From the fruits of the Baccába, Patawá, and
Assai palms (_Œnocarpus Baccaba_, _Œ. Batawa_, and _Euterpe oleracea_
and allied species), they produce wholesome and nourishing drinks.

Besides these they make much use of sweet potatoes, yams, roasted
corn, and many forest fruits, from all of which, and from mandiocca
cakes, they make fermented drinks, which go under the general name
of “caxirí.” That made from the mandiocca is the most agreeable,
and much resembles good table-beer. At their feasts and dances they
consume immense quantities of it, and it does not seem to produce any
bad effects. They also use, on these occasions, an intensely exciting
preparation of the root of a climber,—it is called capí, and the manner
of using it I have described in my Narrative (page 298).

The weapons of these Indians are bows and arrows, gravatánas, lances,
clubs, and also small hand-nets, and rods and lines, for catching fish.

Their bows are of different kinds of hard elastic wood, well made,
and from five to six feet long. The string is either of the “tucum”
leaf fibre (_Astrocaryum vulgare_), or of the inner bark of trees
called “tururi.” The arrows are of various kinds, from five to seven
feet long. The shaft is made of the flower-stalk of the arrow-grass
(_Gynerium saccharinum_). In the war-arrows, or “curubís,” the head is
made of hard wood, carefully pointed, and by some tribes armed with
the serrated spine of the rayfish: it is thickly anointed with poison,
and notched in two or three places so as to break off in the wound.
Arrows for shooting fish are now almost always made with iron heads,
sold by the traders, but many still use heads made of monkeys’ bones,
with a barb, to retain a hold of the fish: the iron heads are bent at
an angle, so that the lower part projects and forms a barb, and are
securely fastened on with twine and pitch. Lighter arrows are made for
shooting birds and other small game, and these alone are feathered
at the base. The feathers generally used are from the wings of the
macaw, and, in putting them on, the Indian shows his knowledge of the
principle which is applied in the spirally-grooved rifle-barrel: three
feathers are used, and they are all secured spirally, so as to form a
little screw on the base of the arrow, the effect of which of course
must be, that the arrow revolves rapidly in its onward progress, and
this no doubt tends to keep it in a direct course.

The gravatána and small poisoned arrows are made and used exactly as I
have already described in my Narrative (page 215).

The small hand-nets used for catching fish are of two kinds,—a small
ring-net, like a landing-net, and one spread between two slender
sticks, just like the large folding-nets of entomologists: these are
much used in the rapids, and among rocks and eddies, and numbers
of fish are caught with them. They also use the rod and line, and
consume an enormous quantity of hooks: there are probably not less
than a hundred thousand fishhooks sold every year in the river Uaupés;
yet there are still many of their own hooks, ingeniously made of
palm-spines, to be found among them. They have many other ways of
catching fish: one is by a small cone of wicker, called a “matapí,”
which is placed in some little current in the gapó; the larger end
is entirely open, and it appears at first sight quite incapable of
securing the fish, yet it catches great quantities, for when the fish
get in they have no room to turn round, and cannot swim backwards,
and three or four are often found jammed in the end of these little
traps, with the scales and skin quite rubbed off their heads by their
vain endeavours to proceed onwards. Other matapís are larger and more
cylindrical, with a reversed conical mouth (as in our wire rat-traps),
to prevent the return of the fish: these are often made of a very large
size, and are placed in little forest-streams, and in narrow channels
between rocks, where the fish, in passing up, must enter them. But
the best method of procuring fish, and that which has been generally
adopted by the Europeans in the country, is with the Cacoaries, or
fish-weirs. These are principally used at high-water, when fish are
scarce: they are formed at the margin of rivers, supported by strong
posts, which are securely fixed at the time of low-water, when the
place of the weir is quite dry; to these posts is secured a high fence
of split palm-stems, forming an entering angle, with a narrow opening
into a fenced enclosure. Fish almost always travel against the stream,
and generally abound more at the sides where the current is less rapid:
they are guided by the side-wings of the weir into the narrow opening,
from which they cannot find their way out. They are obtained by diving
into the weir, and then catching them with the pisá (small net), or
with the hand, or sticking them with a knife. In these cacoaries every
kind of fish is caught, from the largest to the smallest, as well as
river tortoises and turtles. The Indian generally feels about well
with a rod before entering a cacoarí, to ascertain if it contains an
electrical eel, in which case he gets it out first with a net. The
Piránhas, species of _Serrasalmo_, are also rather dangerous, for I
have seen an Indian boy return from the cacoary with his finger bitten
off by one of them.

The “Geraú,” is yet on a larger scale than the Cacoarí. It is used only
in the cataracts, and is very similar to the eel-traps used at mills
and sluices in England. It is a large wooden sieve, supported in the
midst of a cataract, so that the full force of the water dashes through
it. All the fish which are carried down by the violence of the current
are here caught, and their numbers are often so great as to supply a
whole village with food. At many of the falls on the Uaupés, they make
these geraús, which require the united exertions of the inhabitants to
construct them; huge timbers having to be planted in every crevice of
the rocks, to withstand the strength of the torrent of water brought
down by the winter’s floods.

All the fish not used at the time are placed on a little platform of
sticks, over the fire, till they are so thoroughly dried and imbued
with smoke, as to keep good any length of time. They are then used for
voyages, and to sell to travellers, but, having no salt, are a very
tasteless kind of food.

Salt is not so much sought after by these Indians as by many other
tribes; for they will generally prefer fishhooks and beads in payment
for any articles you may purchase of them. Peppers seem to serve them
in place of salt. They do however extract from the fruits of the Inajá
palm (_Maximiliana regia_) and the Jará palm (_Leopoldinia major_), and
also from the Carurú (a species of _Lacis_ very common on the rocks in
the falls), a kind of flour which has a saline taste, and with which
they season their food. The Carurú indeed has quite the smell of salt
water, and is excellent eating, both boiled as a vegetable, or with oil
and vinegar as a salad.

All the tribes of the Uaupés construct their dwellings after one plan,
which is peculiar to them. Their houses are the abode of numerous
families, sometimes of a whole tribe. The plan is a parallelogram, with
a semicircle at one end. The dimensions of one at Jauarité were one
hundred and fifteen feet in length, by seventy-five broad, and about
thirty high. This house would hold about a dozen families, consisting
of near a hundred individuals. In times of feasts and dances, three or
four hundred are accommodated in them. The roof is supported on fine
cylindrical columns, formed of the trunks of trees, and beautifully
straight and smooth. In the centre a clear opening is left, twenty
feet wide, and on the sides are little partitions of palm-leaf thatch,
dividing off rooms for the separate families: here are kept the private
household utensils, weapons, and ornaments; while the rest of the
space contains, on each side, the large ovens and gigantic pans for
making caxirí, and, in the centre, a place for the children to play,
and for their dances to take place. These houses are built with much
labour and skill; the main supporters, beams, rafters, and other parts,
are straight, well proportioned to the strength required, and bound
together with split creepers, in a manner that a sailor would admire.
The thatch is of the leaf of some one of the numerous palms so well
adapted to the purpose, and is laid on with great compactness and
regularity. The walls, which are very low, are formed also of palm
thatch, but so thick and so well bound together, that neither arrow nor
bullet will penetrate it. At the gable-end is a large doorway, about
six feet wide and eight or ten high: the door is a large palm-mat,
hung from the top, supported by a pole during the day, and let down at
night. At the semicircular end is a smaller door, which is the private
entrance of the Tushaúa, or chief, to whom this part of the house
exclusively belongs. The lower part of the gable-end, on each side of
the entrance, is covered with the thick bark of a tree unrolled, and
standing vertically. Above this is a loose hanging of palm-leaves,
between the fissures of which the smoke from the numerous fires within
finds an exit. In some cases this gable-end is much ornamented with
symmetrical figures painted in colours, as at Carurú caxoeira.

The furniture consists principally of maqueiras, or hammocks, made
of string, twisted from the fibres of the leaves of the _Mauritia
flexuosa_: they are merely an open network of parallel threads, crossed
by others at intervals of a foot; the loops at each end have a cord
passed through them, by which they are hung up. The Uaupés make great
quantities of string of this and other fibres, twisting it on their
breasts or thighs, with great rapidity.

They have always in their houses a large supply of earthen pots, pans,
pitchers, and cooking utensils, of various sizes, which they make of
clay from the river and brooks, mixed with the ashes of the caripé
bark, and baked in a temporary furnace. They have also great quantities
of small saucer-shaped baskets, called “Balaios,” which are much
esteemed down the river, and are the subject of a considerable trade.

Two tribes in the lower part of the river, the Tariános and Tucános,
make a curious little stool, cut of a solid block of wood, and neatly
painted and varnished; these, which take many days to finish, are sold
for about a pennyworth of fish-hooks.

Their canoes are all made out of a single tree, hollowed and forced
open by the cross-benches; they are very thick in the middle, to resist
the wear and tear they are exposed to among the rocks and rapids; they
are often forty feet long, but smaller ones are generally preferred.
The paddles are about three feet long, with an oval blade, and are each
cut out of one piece of wood.

These people are as free from the encumbrances of dress as it is
possible to conceive. The men wear only a small piece of tururí passed
between the legs, and twisted on to a string round the loins. Even such
a costume as this is dispensed with by the women: they have no dress
or covering whatever, but are entirely naked. This is the universal
custom among the Uaupés Indians, from which, in a state of nature, they
never depart. Paint, with these people, seems to be looked upon as a
sufficient clothing; they are never without it on some part of their
bodies, but it is at their festivals that they exhibit all their art in
thus decorating their persons: the colours they use are red, yellow,
and black, and they dispose them generally in regular patterns, similar
to those with which they ornament their stools, their canoes, and other
articles of furniture.

They pour the juice of a tree, which stains a deep blue-black, on
their heads, and let it run in streams all down their backs; and the
red and yellow are often disposed in large round spots upon the cheeks
and forehead.

The use of ornaments and trinkets of various kinds is almost confined
to the men. The women wear a bracelet on the wrists, but none on the
neck, and no comb in the hair; they have a garter below the knee, worn
tight from infancy, for the purpose of swelling out the calf, which
they consider a great beauty. While dancing in their festivals, the
women wear a small tanga, or apron, made of beads, prettily arranged:
it is only about six inches square, but is never worn at any other
time, and immediately the dance is over, it is taken off.

The men, on the other hand, have the hair carefully parted and combed
on each side, and tied in a queue behind. In the young men, it hangs in
long locks down their necks, and, with the comb, which is invariably
carried stuck in the top of the head, gives to them a most feminine
appearance: this is increased by the large necklaces and bracelets of
beads, and the careful extirpation of every symptom of beard. Taking
these circumstances into consideration, I am strongly of opinion
that the story of the Amazons has arisen from these feminine-looking
warriors encountered by the early voyager. I am inclined to this
opinion, from the effect they first produced on myself, when it was
only by close examination I saw that they were men; and, were the
front parts of their bodies and their breasts covered with shields,
such as they always use, I am convinced any person seeing them for the
first time would conclude they were women. We have only therefore to
suppose that tribes having similar customs to those now existing on the
river Uaupés, inhabited the regions where the Amazons were reported
to have been seen, and we have a rational explanation of what has so
much puzzled all geographers. The only objection to this explanation
is, that traditions are said to exist among the natives, of a nation
of “women without husbands.” Of this tradition however I was myself
unable to obtain any trace, and I can easily imagine it entirely to
have arisen from the suggestions and inquiries of Europeans themselves.
When the story of the Amazons was first made known, it became of course
a point with all future travellers to verify it, or if possible get
a glimpse of these warlike ladies. The Indians must no doubt have
been overwhelmed with questions and suggestions about them, and they,
thinking that the white men must know best, would transmit to their
descendants and families the idea that such a nation did exist in some
distant part of the country. Succeeding travellers, finding traces of
this idea among the Indians, would take it as a proof of the existence
of the Amazons; instead of being merely the effect of a mistake at
the first, which had been unknowingly spread among them by preceding
travellers, seeking to obtain some evidence on the subject.

In my communications and inquiries among the Indians on various
matters, I have always found the greatest caution necessary, to prevent
one’s arriving at wrong conclusions. They are always apt to affirm
that which they see you wish to believe, and, when they do not at
all comprehend your question, will unhesitatingly answer, “Yes.” I
have often in this manner obtained, as I thought, information, which
persons better acquainted with the facts have assured me was quite
erroneous. These observations however must only be taken to apply
to those almost uncivilized nations who do not understand, at all
clearly, any language in which you can communicate with them. On what
is obtained from Indians speaking Portuguese readily, I have always
been able to rely, and I believe that much trustworthy information
can be obtained from them. Such however is not the case with the wild
tribes, who are totally incapable of understanding any connected
sentence of the language in which they are addressed; and I fear the
story of the Amazons must be placed with those of the wild man-monkeys,
which Humboldt mentions and which tradition I also met with, and
of the “curupíra,” or demon of the woods, and “carbunculo,” of the
Upper Amazon and Peru; but of which superstitions we have no such
satisfactory elucidations as I think has been now given of the warlike

To return to our Uaupés Indians and their toilet. We find their daily
costume enlivened with a few other ornaments; a circlet of parrots’
tail-feathers is generally worn round the head, and the cylindrical
white quartz-stone, already described in my Narrative (p. 278), is
invariably carried on the breast, suspended from a necklace of black

At festivals and dances they decorate themselves with a complicated
costume of feather head-dresses, cinctures, armlets, and leg ornaments,
which I have sufficiently described in the account of their dances (p.

We will now describe some peculiarities connected with their births,
marriages, and deaths.

The women are generally delivered in the house, though sometimes in the
forest. When a birth takes place in the house, everything is taken out
of it, even the pans and pots, and bows and arrows, till the next day;
the mother takes the child to the river and washes herself and it, and
she generally remains in the house, not doing any work, for four or
five days.

The children, more particularly the females, are restricted to a
particular food: they are not allowed to eat the meat of any kind
of game, nor of fish, except the very small bony kinds; their food
principally consisting of mandiocca-cake and fruits.

On the first signs of puberty in the girls, they have to undergo an
ordeal. For a month previously, they are kept secluded in the house,
and allowed only a small quantity of bread and water. All relatives
and friends of the parents are then assembled, bringing, each of them,
pieces of “sipó” (an elastic climber); the girl is then brought out,
perfectly naked, into the midst of them, when each person present
gives her five or six severe blows with the sipó across the back and
breast, till she falls senseless, and it sometimes happens, dead. If
she recovers, it is repeated four times, at intervals of six hours,
and it is considered an offence to the parents not to strike hard.
During this time numerous pots of all kinds of meat and fish have been
prepared, when the sipós are dipped in them and given to her to lick,
and she is then considered a woman, and allowed to eat anything, and is

The boys undergo a somewhat similar ordeal, but not so severe; which
initiates them into manhood, and allows them to see the Juruparí music,
which will be presently described.

Tattooing is very little practised by these Indians; they all however
have a row of circular punctures along the arm, and one tribe, the
Tucános, are distinguished from the rest by three vertical blue
lines on the chin; and they also pierce the lower lip, through which
they hang three little threads of white beads. All the tribes bore
their ears, and wear in them little pieces of grass, ornamented with
feathers. The Cobeus alone expand the hole to so large a size, that a
bottle-cork could be inserted: they ordinarily wear a plug of wood in
it, but, on festas, insert a little bunch of arrows.

The men generally have but one wife, but there is no special limit, and
many have two or three, and some of the chiefs more; the elder one is
never turned away, but remains the mistress of the house. They have no
particular ceremony at their marriages, except that of always carrying
away the girl by force, or making a show of doing so, even when she and
her parents are quite willing. They do not often marry with relations,
or even neighbours,—preferring those from a distance, or even from
other tribes. When a young man wishes to have the daughter of another
Indian, his father sends a message to say he will come with his son and
relations to visit him. The girl’s father guesses what it is for, and,
if he is agreeable, makes preparations for a grand festival: it lasts
perhaps two or three days, when the bridegroom’s party suddenly seize
the bride, and hurry her off to their canoes; no attempt is made to
prevent them, and she is then considered as married.

Some tribes, as the Uacarrás, have a trial of skill at shooting with
the bow and arrow, and if the young man does not show himself a good
marksman, the girl refuses him, on the ground that he will not be able
to shoot fish and game enough for the family.

The dead are almost always buried in the houses, with their bracelets,
tobacco-bag, and other trinkets upon them: they are buried the same day
they die, the parents and relations keeping up a continual mourning and
lamentation over the body, from the death to the time of interment;
a few days afterwards, a great quantity of caxirí is made, and all
friends and relatives invited to attend, to mourn for the dead, and to
dance, sing, and cry to his memory. Some of the large houses have more
than a hundred graves in them, but when the houses are small, and very
full, the graves are made outside.

The Tariánas and Tucános, and some other tribes, about a month after
the funeral, disinter the corpse, which is then much decomposed, and
put it in a great pan, or oven, over the fire, till all the volatile
parts are driven off with a most horrible odour, leaving only a black
carbonaceous mass, which is pounded into a fine powder, and mixed in
several large couchés (vats made of hollowed trees) of caxirí: this is
drunk by the assembled company till all is finished; they believe that
thus the virtues of the deceased will be transmitted to the drinkers.

The Cobeus alone, in the Uaupés, are real cannibals: they eat those
of other tribes, whom they kill in battle, and even make war for the
express purpose of procuring human flesh for food. When they have more
than they can consume at once, they smoke-dry the flesh over the fire,
and preserve it for food a long time. They burn their dead, and drink
the ashes in caxirí, in the same manner as described above.

Every tribe and every “malocca” (as their houses are called) has its
chief, or “Tushaúa,” who has a limited authority over them, principally
in war, in making festivals, and in repairing the malocca and keeping
the village clean, and in planting the mandiocca-fields; he also treats
with the traders, and supplies them with men to pursue their journeys.
The succession of these chiefs is strictly hereditary in the male line,
or through the female to her husband, who may be a stranger: their
regular hereditary chief is never superseded, however stupid, dull, or
cowardly he may be. They have very little law of any kind; but what
they have is of strict retaliation,—an eye for an eye and a tooth for a
tooth; and a murder is punished or revenged in the same manner and by
the same weapon with which it was committed.

They have numerous “Pagés,” a kind of priests, answering to the
“medicine-men” of the North American Indians. These are believed to
have great power: they cure all diseases by charms, applied by strong
blowing and breathing upon the party to be cured, and by the singing of
certain songs and incantations. They are also believed to have power
to kill enemies, to bring or send away rain, to destroy dogs or game,
to make the fish leave a river, and to afflict with various diseases.
They are much consulted and believed in, and are well paid for their
services. An Indian will give almost all his wealth to a pagé, when he
is threatened with any real or imaginary danger.

They scarcely seem to think that death can occur naturally, always
imputing it either to direct poisoning or the charms of some enemy,
and, on this supposition, will proceed to revenge it. This they
generally do by poisons, of which they have many which are most deadly
in their effects: they are given at some festival in a bowl of caxirí,
which it is good manners always to empty, so that the whole dose is
sure to be taken. One of the poisons often used is most terrible in
its effects, causing the tongue and throat, as well as the intestines,
to putrefy and rot away, so that the sufferer lingers some days in the
greatest agony: this is of course again retaliated, on perhaps the
wrong party, and thus a long succession of murders may result from a
mere groundless suspicion in the first instance.

I cannot make out that they have any belief that can be called a
religion. They appear to have no definite idea of a God; if asked who
they think made the rivers, and the forests, and the sky, they will
reply that they do not know, or sometimes that they suppose it was
“Tupánau,” a word that appears to answer to God, but of which they
understand nothing. They have much more definite ideas of a bad spirit,
“Juruparí,” or Devil, whom they fear, and endeavour through their pagés
to propitiate. When it thunders, they say the “Juruparí” is angry, and
their idea of natural death is that the Juruparí kills them. At an
eclipse they believe that this bad spirit is killing the moon, and
they make all the noise they can to frighten him away.

One of their most singular superstitions is about the musical
instruments they use at their festivals, which they call the Juruparí
music. They consist of eight or sometimes twelve pipes, or trumpets,
made of bamboos or palm-stems hollowed out, some with trumpet-shaped
mouths of bark and with mouth-holes of clay and leaf. Each pair
of instruments gives a distinct note, and they produce a rather
agreeable concert, something resembling clarionets and bassoons. These
instruments however are with them such a mystery, that no woman must
ever see them, on pain of death. They are always kept in some igaripé,
at a distance from the malocca, whence they are brought on particular
occasions: when the sound of them is heard approaching, every woman
retires into the woods, or into some adjoining shed, which they
generally have near, and remains invisible till after the ceremony is
over, when the instruments are taken away to their hiding-place, and
the women come out of their concealment. Should any female be supposed
to have seen them, either by accident or design, she is invariably
executed, generally by poison, and a father will not hesitate to
sacrifice his daughter, or a husband his wife, on such an occasion.

They have many other prejudices with regard to women. They believe that
if a woman, during her pregnancy, eats of any meat, any other animal
partaking of it will suffer: if a domestic animal or tame bird, it
will die; if a dog, it will be for the future incapable of hunting;
and even a man will be unable to shoot that particular kind of game
for the future. An Indian, who was one of my hunters, caught a fine
cock of the rock, and gave it to his wife to feed, but the poor woman
was obliged to live herself on cassava-bread and fruits, and abstain
entirely from all animal food, peppers, and salt, which it was believed
would cause the bird to die; notwithstanding all precautions however
the bird did die, and the woman got a beating from her husband, because
he thought she had not been sufficiently rigid in her abstinence from
the prohibited articles.

Most of these peculiar practices and superstitions are retained with
much tenacity, even by those Indians who are nominally civilized and
Christian, and many of them have been even adopted by the Europeans
resident in the country: there are actually Portuguese in the Rio Negro
who fear the power of the Indian pagés, and who fully believe and act
on all the Indian superstitions respecting women.

The river Uaupés is the channel by which European manufactures find
their way into the extensive and unknown regions between the Rio
Guaviare on the one side, and the Japurá on the other. About a thousand
pounds’ worth of goods enter the Uaupés yearly, mostly in axes,
cutlasses, knives, fish-hooks, arrow-heads, salt, mirrors, beads, and a
few cottons.

The articles given in exchange are salsaparilha, pitch, farinha,
string, hammocks, and Indian stools, baskets, feather ornaments, and
curiosities. The salsaparilha is by far the most valuable product, and
is the only one exported. Great quantities of articles of European
manufacture are exchanged by the Indians with those of remote
districts, for the salsa, which they give to the traders; and thus
numerous tribes, among whom no civilized man has ever yet penetrated,
are well supplied with iron goods, and send the product of their labour
to European markets.

[Illustration: _Plate V._

  _a. Mandiocca grater._
  _b. Oven._
  _c. Fire place._
  _d. Basket._

  A. R. Wallace, del. et. lith.         F. Reeve, imp.]

In order to give some idea of the state of industry and the arts among
these people, I subjoin a list of articles which I collected when among
them, to illustrate their manners, customs, and state of civilization,
but which were unfortunately all lost on my passage home.

                        OF THE RIO DOS UAUPÉS.

                  _Household Furniture and Utensils._

1. Hammocks, or maqueiras, of palm-fibre, of various materials,
colours, and texture.

2. Small wooden stools, of various sizes, painted and varnished. (Plate
VI. _d._)

3. Flat baskets of plaited bark, in regular patterns and of various

4. Deeper baskets, called “Aturás.” (Plate V. _d._)

5. Calabashes and gourds, of various shapes and sizes.

6. Water-pitchers of earthenware.

7. Pans of earthenware for cooking.

         _Articles used in the Manufacture of Mandiocca Bread._

8. Mandiocca graters, of quartz fragments set in wood. (Plate V. _a._)

9. Tipitis, or wicker elastic pressure cylinders.

10. Wicker sieves for straining the pulp.

11. Ovens for roasting cassava-bread and farinha. (Plate V. _b._)

12. Plaited fans for blowing the fire and turning the cakes.

              _Weapons used in War, Hunting, and Fishing._

13. Bows of various woods and different sizes.

14. Quivers of curabís, or poisoned war-arrows.

15. Arrows with heads of monkey-bones.

16. Arrows, with iron heads, for shooting fish.

17. Gravatánas, or blow-tubes, from eight to fourteen feet long.

18. Wicker and wooden quivers, with poisoned arrows for them.

19. Small pots and calabashes, with the curarí or ururí poison.

20. Large carved clubs of hard wood.

21. Carved and feather ornamented lances.

22. Large circular shields of wicker-work.

23. Ditto, covered with tapir’s skin.

24. Nets for fishing (Pisás).

25. Rod and line for fishing.

26. Palm-spine fish-hooks.

27. Small wicker traps for catching fish (Matapís).

                         _Musical Instruments._

28. A small drum.

29. Eight large trumpets, the Juruparí music.

30. Numerous fifes and flutes of reeds.

31. Fifes made of deer-bones.

31*. Whistle of a deer’s skulk

32. Vibrating instruments of tortoise and turtle shells.

[Illustration: _Plate VI._

  _a. Comb._
  _b. Cigar holder._
  _c. Rattle._
  _d. Stool._

  A. R. Wallace, del. et. lith.            F. Reeve, imp.]

                 _Ornaments, Dress, and Miscellaneous._

33. About twenty distinct articles, forming the feather head-dress.

34. Combs of palm-wood, ornamented with feathers. (Plate VI. _a._)

35. Necklaces of seeds and beads.

36. Bored cylindrical quartz-stone.

37. Copper earrings, and wooden plugs for the ears.

38. Armlet of feathers, beads, seeds, etc.

39. Girdle of jaguars’ teeth.

40. Numbers of cords, made of the “coroá” fibre, mixed with the hair of
monkeys and jaguars,—making a soft elastic cord used for binding up the
hair, and various purposes of ornament.

41. Painted aprons, or “tangas,” made from the inner bark of a tree.

42. Women’s bead tangas.

43. Battles and ornaments for the legs.

44. Garters strongly knitted of “coroá.”

45. Packages and carved calabashes, filled with a red pigment called

46. Large cloths of prepared bark.

47. Very large carved wooden forks for holding cigars. (Plate VI. _b._)

48. Large cigars used at festivals.

49. Spathes of the Bussu palm (_Manicaria saccifera_), used for
preserving feather-ornaments, etc.

50. Square mats.

51. Painted earthen pot, used for holding the “capi” at festivals.

52. Small pot of dried peppers.

53. Rattles used in dancing, formed of calabashes, carved, and
ornamented with small stones inside. (Plate VI. _c._) (Maracás.)

54. Painted dresses of prepared bark (tururí).

55. Balls of string, of various materials and degrees of fineness.

56. Bottle-shaped baskets, for preserving the edible ants.

57. Tinder-boxes of bamboo carved, and filled with tinder from an ant’s

58. Small canoe hollowed from a tree.

59. Paddles used with ditto.

60. Triangular tool, used for making the small stools.

61. Pestles and mortars, used for pounding peppers and tobacco.

62. Bark bag, full of summaúma, the silk-cotton of a _Bombax_, used for
making blowing-arrows.

63. Chest of plaited palm-leaves, used for holding feather-ornaments.

64. Stone axes, used before the introduction of iron.

65. Clay cylinders, for supporting cooking utensils. (Plate V. _c._)[2]

  [2] Specimens of Nos. 1, 2, 3, 9, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 21, 34, 36,
  41, 47, 49, and 63, of this list, have been sent home by my friend
  R. Spruce, Esq., and may be seen in the very interesting Museum at
  the Royal Botanical Gardens, at Kew.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Indians of the river Isánna are few in comparison with those of the
Uaupés, the river not being so large or so productive of fish.

The tribes are named—

  Baníwas, or Manívas (Mandiocca).
  Ciuçí (Stars).
  Coatí (the _Nasua coatimundi_).
  Juruparí (Devils).
  Ipéca (Ducks).

Papunauás, the name of a river, a tributary of the Guaviáre, but which
has its sources close to the Isánna.

These tribes are much alike in all their customs, differing only in
their languages; as a whole however they offer remarkable points of
difference from those of the river Uaupés.

In stature and appearance they are very similar, but they have rather
more beard, and do not pull out the hair of the body and face, and
they cut the hair of their head with a knife, or, wanting that, with a
hard sharp grass. Thus, the absence of the long queue of hair forms a
striking characteristic difference in their appearance.

In their dress they differ in the women always wearing a small tanga
of turúri, instead of going perfectly naked, as among the Uaupés; they
also wear more necklaces and bracelets, and the men fewer, and the
latter do not make use of so many feather-ornaments and decorations in
their festivals.

Each family has a separate house, which is small, of a square shape,
and possesses both a door and windows; and the houses are collected
together in little scattered villages. The Isánna Indians make the
small flat baskets like the Uaupés, but not the stools, nor the aturás,
neither have they the white cylindrical stone which the others so much
esteem. They marry one, two, or three wives, and prefer relations,
marrying with cousins, uncles with nieces, and nephews with aunts,
so that in a village all are connected. The men are more warlike and
morose in their disposition than the Uaupés, by whom they are much
feared. They bury their dead in their houses, and mourn for them a
long time, but make no feast on the occasion. The Isánna Indians are
said not to be nearly so numerous, nor to increase so rapidly, as the
Uaupés; which may perhaps be owing to their marrying with relations,
while the former prefer strangers.

The Arekámas make war against other tribes, to obtain prisoners for
food, like the Cobeus. In their superstitions and religious ideas they
much resemble the Uaupés.

The Macús are one of the lowest and most uncivilized tribes of Indians
in the Amazon district. They inhabit the forests and serras about
the rivers Marié, Curicuriarí, and Urubaxí, and live a wandering
life, having no houses and no fixed place of abode, and of course no
clothing; they have little or no iron, and use the tusks of the wild
pig to scrape and form their bows and arrows, and they make a most
deadly kind of poison to anoint them. At night they sleep on a bundle
of palm-leaves, or stick up a few leaves to make a shed if it rains, or
sometimes, with “sipós,” construct a rude hammock, which however serves
only once. They eat all kinds of birds and fish, roasted or boiled in
palm-spathes; and all sorts of wild fruits.

The Macús often attack the houses of other Indians situated in solitary
places, and murder all the inhabitants; and they have even depopulated
and caused the removal of several villages. All the other tribes of
Indians catch them and keep them as slaves, and in most villages you
will see some of them. They are distinguishable at once from the
surrounding tribes by a wavy and almost curly hair, and by being
rather lanky and ill formed in their limbs: I am inclined however to
think that this latter is partly owing to their mode of life, and the
hardships and exposure they have to undergo; as some that I have seen
in the houses of traders have been as well-formed and handsome as any
of the other Indian tribes.

The Curetús are a nation inhabiting the country about the river
Apaporís, between the Japurá and Uaupés. I met with some Indians of
this tribe on the Rio Negro, and the only peculiarity I observed in
them was, that their cheek-bones were rather more prominent than usual.
From them, and from an Isánna Indian who had visited them, I obtained
some information about their customs.

They wear their hair long like the Uaupés, and, like them, the women
go entirely naked; and they paint their bodies, but do not tattoo.
Their houses are large and circular, with walls of thatch, and a high
conical capped roof, made like some chimney-pots, with the upper part
overlapping, so as to let the smoke escape without allowing the rain
to enter. They do not wander about, but reside in small permanent
villages, governed by a chief, and are said to be long-lived and very
peaceable, never quarrelling or making war with other nations. The men
have but one wife. There are no pagés, or priests, among them, and they
have no ideas of a superior Being. They cultivate mandiocca, maize,
and other fruits, and use game more than fish for food. No civilized
man has ever been among them, so they have no salt, and a very scanty
supply of iron, and obtain fire by friction. It is said also that they
differ from most other tribes in making no intoxicating drinks. Their
language is full of harsh and aspirated sounds, and is somewhat allied
to those of the Tucanos and Cobeus among the Uaupés.

In the lower part of the Japurá reside the “Uaenambeus,” or
Humming-bird Indians. I met with some of them in the Rio Negro, and
obtained some information as to their customs and language. In most
particulars they much resemble the last-mentioned tribe, particularly
in their circular houses, their food, and mode of life. Like them they
weave the fibres of the Tucúm palm-leaf (_Astrocaryum vulgare_) to make
their hammocks, whereas the Uaupés and Isánna Indians always use the
leaf of the Mirití (_Mauritia flexuosa_). They are distinguished from
other tribes by a small blue mark on the upper lips. They have from one
to four wives, and the women always wear a small apron of bark.

Closely allied to these, are the Jurís of the Solimões, between the
Iça and Japurá. A number of them have migrated to the Rio Negro, and
become settled and partly civilized there. They are remarkable for a
custom of tattooing in a circle (not in a square, as in a plate in Dr.
Prichard’s work,) round the mouth, so as exactly to resemble the little
black-mouthed squirrel-monkeys (_Callithrix sciureus_); from this
cause they are often called the Juripixúnas (Black Juris), or by the
Brazilians “Bocapreitos” (Black-mouths). From this, strange errors have
arisen: we find in some maps the note “Juries, curly-haired Negroes,”
whereas they are pure straight-haired Indians. They are good servants
for canoe and agricultural work, and are the most skilful of all in
the use of the gravatána, or blow-pipe.

In the same neighbourhood are Miránhas, who are cannibals; and the
Ximánas and Cauxánas, who kill all their first-born children: in fact,
between the Upper Amazon, the Guaviare, and the Andes, there is a
region as large as England, whose inhabitants are entirely uncivilized
and unknown.

On the south side of the Amazon also, between the Madeira and the
Uaycáli, and extending to the Andes of Peru and Bolivia, is a still
larger tract of unknown virgin forest, uninhabited by a single
civilized man: here reside numerous nations of the native American
race, known only by the reports of the border tribes, who form the
communication between them and the traders of the great rivers.

One of the best-known and most regularly visited rivers of this great
tract is the Purús, whose mouth is a short distance above the Rio
Negro, but whose sources a three months’ voyage does not reach. Of the
Indians found on the banks of this river I have been able to get some

Five tribes are met with by the traders:—

1. Múras, from the mouth to sixteen days’ voyage up.

2. Purupurús, from thence to about thirty days’ voyage up.

3. Catauxís, in the district of the Purupurús, but in the igaripés and
lakes inland.

4. Jamamarís, inland on the west bank.

5. Jubirís, on the river-banks above the Purupurús.

The Múras are rather a tall race, have a good deal of beard for
Indians, and the hair of the head is slightly crisp and wavy. They used
formerly to go naked, but now the men all wear trowsers and shirts,
and the women petticoats. Their houses are grouped together in small
villages, and are scarcely ever more than a roof supported on posts;
very rarely do they take the trouble to build any walls. They make
no hammocks, but hang up three bands of a bark called “invíra,” on
which they sleep; but the more civilized now purchase of the traders,
hammocks made by other Indians. They practise scarcely any cultivation,
except sometimes a little mandiocca, but generally live on wild fruits,
and abundance of fish and game: their food is entirely produced by the
river, consisting of the _Manatus_, or cow-fish, which is as good as
beef, turtles, and various kinds of fish, all of which are in great
abundance, so that the traders say there are no people who live so
well as the Múras; they have therefore no occasion for gravatánas,
which they do not make, but have a great variety of bows and arrows
and harpoons, and construct very good canoes. They now all cut their
hair; the old men have a large hole in their lower lip filled up with
a piece of wood, but this custom is now disused. Each man has two
or three wives, but there is no ceremony of marriage; and they bury
their dead sometimes in the house, but more commonly outside, and put
all the goods of the deceased upon his grave. The women use necklaces
and bracelets of beads, and the men tie the seeds of the India-rubber
tree to their legs when they dance. Each village has a Tushaúa: the
succession is hereditary, but the chief has very little power. They
have pagés, whom they believe to have much skill, and are afraid of,
and pay well. They were formerly very warlike, and made many attacks
upon the Europeans, but are now much more peaceful; and are the most
skilful of all Indians in shooting turtles and fish, and in catching
the cow-fish. They still use their own language among themselves,
though they also understand the Lingoa Geral. The white traders obtain
from them salsaparilha, oil from turtles’ eggs and the cow-fish,
Brazil-nuts, and estopa, which is the bark of the young Brazil-nut tree
(_Bertholletia excelsa_), used extensively for caulking canoes; and pay
them in cotton goods, harpoon and arrow-heads, hooks, beads, knives,
cutlasses, etc.

The next tribe, the Purupurús, are in many respects very peculiar, and
differ remarkably in their habits from any other nation we have yet
described. They call themselves Pamouirís, but are always called by the
Brazilians Purupurús, a name also applied to a peculiar disease, with
which they are almost all afflicted: this consists in the body being
spotted and blotched with white, brown, or nearly black patches, of
irregular size and shape, and having a very disagreeable appearance:
when young, their skins are clear, but as they grow up, they invariably
become more or less spotted. Other Indians are sometimes seen afflicted
in this manner, and they are then said to have the Purupurú; though
it does not appear whether the disease is called after the tribe of
Indians who are most subject to it, or the Indians after the disease.
Some say that the word is Portuguese, but this seems to be a mistake.

The Purupurús, men and women, go perfectly naked; and their houses
are of the rudest construction, being semicylindrical, like those
of our gipsies, and so small, as to be set up on the sandy beaches,
and carried away in their canoes whenever they wish to move. These
canoes are of the rudest construction, having a flat bottom and
upright sides,—a mere square box, and quite unlike those of all other
Indians. But what distinguishes them yet more from their neighbours
is, that they use neither the gravatána, nor bow and arrows, but have
an instrument called a “palheta,” which is a piece of wood with a
projection at the end, to secure the base of the arrow, the middle of
which is held with the handle of the palheta in the hand, and thus
thrown as from a sling: they have a surprising dexterity in the use of
this weapon, and with it readily kill game, birds, and fish.

They grow a few fruits, such as yams and plantains, but seldom have any
mandiocca, and they construct earthen pans to cook in. They sleep in
their houses on the sand of the prayas, making no hammocks or clothing
of any kind; they make no fires in their houses, which are too small,
but are kept warm at night by the number of persons in them. They bore
large holes in the upper and lower lip, in the septum of the nose, and
in the ears; at their festivals they insert in these holes sticks, six
or eight inches long; at other times they have only a short piece in,
to keep them open. In the wet season, when the prayas and banks of the
river are all flooded, they construct rafts, of trunks of trees bound
together with creepers, and on them erect their huts, and live there
till the waters fall again, when they guide their raft to the first
sandy beach that appears.

Little is known of their domestic customs and superstitions. The men
have each but one wife; the dead are buried in the sandy beaches;
and they are not known to have any pagés. A few families only live
together, in little moveable villages, to each of which there is a
Tushaúa. They have, at times, dances and festivals, when they make
intoxicating drinks from wild fruits, and amuse themselves with rude
musical instruments, formed of reeds and bones. They do not use salt,
but prefer payment in fish-hooks, knives, beads, and farinha, for the
salsaparilha and turtle-oil which they sell to the traders.

May not the curious disease, to which they are so subject, be produced
by their habit of constantly sleeping naked on the sand, instead of
in the comfortable, airy, and cleanly hammock, so universally used by
almost every other tribe of Indians in this part of South America?

The Catauixis, though in the immediate neighbourhood of the last, are
very different. They have permanent houses, cultivate mandiocca, sleep
in hammocks, and are clear-skinned. They go naked like the last, but
do not bore holes in their nose and lips; they wear a ring of twisted
hair on their arms and legs. They use bows, arrows, and gravatánas, and
make the ervadúra, or ururí poison. Their canoes are made of the bark
of a tree, taken off entire. They eat principally forest game, tapirs,
monkeys, and large birds; they are however cannibals, killing and
eating any Indians of other tribes they can procure, and they preserve
the meat, smoked and dried. Senhor Domingos, a Portuguese trader up the
river Purús, informed me that he once met a party of them, who felt his
belly and ribs, as a butcher would handle a sheep, and talked much
to each other, apparently intimating that he was fat, and would be
excellent eating.

Of the Jamamarís we have no authentic information, but that they much
resemble the last in their manners and customs, and in their appearance.

The Jubirís are equally unknown; they however most resemble the
Purupurús in their habits and mode of life, and, like them, have their
bodies spotted and mottled, though not to such a great extent.

In the country between the Tapajóz and the Madeira, among the labyrinth
of lakes and channels of the great island of the Tupinambarános, reside
the Mundrucús, the most warlike Indians of the Amazon. These are, I
believe, the only perfectly tattooed nation in South America: the
markings are extended all over the body; they are produced by pricking
with the spines of the pupunha palm, and rubbing in the soot from
burning pitch to produce the indelible bluish tinge.

They make their houses with mud walls, in regular villages. In each
village they have a large building which serves as a kind of barrack,
or fortress, where all the men sleep at night, armed with their bows
and arrows, ready in case of alarm: this house is surrounded within
with dried heads of their enemies: these heads they smoke and dry,
so as to preserve all the features and the hair most perfectly. They
make war every year with an adjoining tribe, the Parentintins, taking
the women and children for slaves, and preserving the heads of the
men. They make good canoes and hammocks. They live principally on
forest-game, and are very agricultural, making quantities of farinha
and growing many fruits. The men have each one wife, and each village
its chief. Cravo or wild nutmegs, and farinha, are the principal
articles of their trade; and they receive in exchange cotton cloth,
iron goods, salt, beads, etc.

In the Rio Branco are numerous tribes, and some of them are said to
practise circumcision.

Others, near the sources of the Tapajóz, make the girls undergo the
same cruel initiation as has been already described as common among the
Uaupés and Isánna Indians.

On the north banks of the Rio Negro are many uncivilized tribes, very
little known.

On the south banks, the Manaós were formerly a very numerous nation. It
appears to have been these tribes who gave rise to the various accounts
of imaginary wealth prevalent soon after the discovery of America: the
whole of them are now civilized, and their blood mingles with that of
some of the best families in the Province of Pará: their language is
said still to exist, and to be spoken by many old persons, but I was
never fortunate enough to meet with any one understanding it.

One of the singular facts connected with these Indians of the Amazon
valley, is the resemblance which exists between some of their customs,
and those of nations most remote from them. The gravatána, or
blow-pipe, reappears in the sumpitan of Borneo; the great houses of
the Uaupés closely resemble those of the Dyaks of the same country;
while many small baskets and bamboo-boxes, from Borneo and New Guinea,
are so similar in their form and construction to those of the Amazon,
that they would be supposed to belong to adjoining tribes. Then
again the Mundrucús, like the Dyaks, take the heads of their enemies,
smoke-dry them with equal care, preserving the skin and hair entire,
and hang them up around their houses. In Australia the throwing-stick
is used; and, on a remote branch of the Amazon, we see a tribe of
Indians differing from all around them, in substituting for the bow a
weapon only found in such a remote portion of the earth, among a people
differing from them in almost every physical character.

It will be necessary to obtain much more information on this subject,
before we can venture to decide whether such similarities show any
remote connection between these nations, or are mere accidental
coincidences, produced by the same wants, acting upon people subject
to the same conditions of climate and in an equally low state of
civilization; and it offers additional matter for the wide-spreading
speculations of the ethnographer.

The main feature in the personal character of the Indians of this part
of South America, is a degree of diffidence, bashfulness, or coldness,
which affects all their actions. It is this that produces their quiet
deliberation, their circuitous way of introducing a subject they have
come to speak about, talking half an hour on different topics before
mentioning it: owing to this feeling, they will run away if displeased,
rather than complain, and will never refuse to undertake what is asked
them, even when they are unable or do not intend to perform it.

It is the same peculiarity which causes the men never to exhibit any
feeling on meeting after a separation; though they have, and show, a
great affection for their children, whom they never part with; nor can
they be induced to do so, even for a short time. They scarcely ever
quarrel among themselves, work hard, and submit willingly to authority.
They are ingenious and skilful workmen, and readily adopt any customs
of civilized life that may be introduced among them; and they seem
capable of being formed, by education and good government, into a
peaceable and civilized community.

This change however will perhaps never take place: they are exposed
to the influence of the refuse of Brazilian society, and will
probably, before many years, be reduced to the condition of the other
half-civilized Indians of the country, who seem to have lost the good
qualities of savage life, and gained only the vices of civilization.


                    |               |              |              |    _Curetú._
      _English._    |_Lingoa Geral._| _Uainambeu._ |   _Juri._    |(_R. Jupura, and
                    |               |              |              |R. Apaporis._)
                    |               |              |              |
 1. Man, male       |Apegaúa        |Achíjari      |Tchoucú       |Ermeú
 2. Woman, female   |Cúnha          |Ináru         |Tchúre        |Nomí
 3. Boy             |Curumí         |Maishú        |Raiuté        |Ing̃ig̃u
 4. Girl            |Cunhañtáñ      |Maishú        |Uítemi        |Nomi amang̃á
 5. Head (my)       |Acánga         |(Eri)bída     |(Tcho)kircú   |Cuilrí
 6. Mouth (my)      |Eúru           |(Eri)núma     |(Tcho)iá      |Dishí
 7. Eye (my)        |Sésa           |(Eri)dóe      |(Tcho)ití     |Yeëllúh
 8. Nose (my)       |Etíñ           |(Nü)etácu     |Youcóne       |Ergílli
 9. Teeth (my)      |Sánha          |(Nu)áei       |(Tcha)tíkou   |Gophpecuh
10. Belly (my)      |Maríca         |(Nu)cútu      |Tura-éh       |Tohtóno
11. Arm (my)        |Juá            |(Eri)bédo     |(Tcho)uá      |Dicáh
12. Hand (my)       |Epó            |(Eri)kiápi    |(Tcho)upumáu  |Muhú
13. Fingers (my)    |Pumirí         |(Nu)cápi      |(Tcho)upeí    |Muétshu
14. Toes (my)       |Pumirí         |(Nu)ipaména   |(Tcho)upomórli|Giápa muélshu
15. Foot (my)       |Ipi            |(Eri)ípa      |(Tcho)u-óti   |Giápaʰ
16. Bone (my)       |Cañéra         |(Nu)ápi       |(Tcho)uinó    |Gnuéh
17. Blood (my)      |Tuí            |(Nu)ira       |Ehcóniᵉʳⁱ     |Dií
18. Hunger          |Eumasí         |Oaríkena      |              |Yehaurí
19. Thirst          |Shauputari i   |Macararinuámba|              |Deco ilré
                    |(I want water) |              |              |
20. Meat            |Söó            |Irií          |Tuóieh        |Séheá
21. Fat             |Caúa           |Kési          |Iiá           |Giauí
22. Water           |I              |Uné           |Coörá         |Deco
23. Farinha         |Oí             |Cáou          |Omohó         |Bagarín
24. Language        |Henga          |Nodásha       |              |Goco
25. The tongue (my) |Siapecu        |              |(Tcho)uté     |Dolóʳ
26. Tobacco         |Pitíma         |              |Iiyá          |
27. Fire            |Tatá           |Itchípa       |Ií            |Piúˡre
28. Wind            |Oitú           |Opírina       |Rereáh        |Tchultchúe
29. Egg             |Supiá          |Rëébi         |Eaté          |Diá
30. Cassava bread   |Mehu           |Úre           |Oró           |Baëdéʰ
31. Knife           |Kisé           |Baá           |Iíno          |Uipeí
32. Bow             |Mirapára       |Páro          |Mechouaí      |Patueipeí
33. Arrow           |Juía           |Isíepe        |Poconé        |Garléh
34. Basket          |Ursacánga      |Caáme         |Coömó         |Diillú
35. Pan             |Panéra         |Ítse          |Coöwé         |Shooló
36. House           |Óca            |Panísi        |Tíno          |Ueé
37. Ground          |Euípi          |Ípai          |Péa           |Tʰetáh
38. Forest          |Caápi          |Aapánn        |Noiyú         |Puú
39. Path            |Pé             |Idjápu        |Nemó          |Maá
40. Tree            |Mirá           |Abána         |Noinó         |Yabú
41. Grass           |Capim (Port.)  |Imitsi        |Pinóu         |Taá
42. Bird            |Uerá           |Sibéni        |Récapu        |Mirˡá
43. Fish            |Pirá           |Idjá          |Oöó           |Iaú
44. Pig             |Taihassú       |Capéna        |Aáte          |Tshetshé
45. Dog             |Iaoára         |Tchábi        |Wéri          |Imaᵗsa
46. Banana          |Pacóa          |Panári        |Weramá        |Gopeiabúh
47. Fruit           |Iuá            |Duákisari     |              |Unhú
48. Leaf            |Caá            |Aápana        |Noiyóu        |Giˡrá
49. Bark            |Piríra (skin)  |Reéma         |Coinoá        |Peiaposi
50. Hair (my)       |Siaúa          |              |Tikiriú       |Phoá
51. Beard (my)      |Seniaúa        |              |(Tch)upéri    |Gocolópuáh
52. Cord            |Tupasáma       |Uádasi        |Nepenöólⁱ     |Pohnculú
53. Réde            |Maquéira       |Hamáka        |Nebipé        |Puú
54. Canoe           |Igára          |Íta           |Noöwú         |Cumú
55. Paddle          |Apecuitoúa     |Déna          |Noomé         |Ueepihn
56. Sun             |Curasé         |Camúi         |Iyé           |Aoué
57. Moon            |Iási           |Cári          |Noimó         |Iamímaíga
58. Star            |Siúsi          |Ibídji        |Oúca          |Omoari
59. Morning         |Coéma          |Amáraa        |              |Uahuhí
60. Evening         |Carúka         |Daiaábe       |              |Maigaᵁhúa
61. Day             |Ára            |Amáraki       |Oáh           |Ipáni
62. Night           |Pitúna         |Dapiibé       |Epóri         |Iamí
63. Father          |Paía           |Paí i         |Háto          |Yiupuíh
                    |               |              |              |
64. Mother          |Maía           |Ámi           |Iyuhó         |Maí (?)
                    |               |              |              |
65. Son             |Taiéra         |Núiri         |Owúye         |Simugí
66. Daughter        |Taiéra         |Núito         |Owúye         |Noimí
67. Good            |Cató           |Mísare        |Óco           |Oá
68. Bad             |Púshi          |Pítseai       |Eéñ           |Uelrí
69. Hot             |Sacú           |Amóiri        |Noré          |Bicashiá
70. Cold            |Erosanga       |Ipíriri       |Reréya        |Bicashushága
71. Long            |Pucú           |Biáshiri      |Meyé          |Uadú
72. Short           |Iátuca         |Adákiri       |Erímo         |Uawádu
73. Hard            |Sañtañ         |Tchítchiri    |Cowní         |Bicádya
74. Soft            |Mimbéca        |Kidjáma       |Coaná         |Nilyiyúh
75. White           |Murutínga      |Áriri         |Ahré          |Borliéda
76. Black           |Pishúna        |Tcháriri      |Tuyí          |Niiyá
77. Red             |Piránga        |Cáriri        |Ahrí          |Dianá
78. Yellow          |Itaúa          |Ebári         |Coetí         |Ebó
79. One             |Iapé           |Apári         |Comeéh        |Tchudyú
80. Two             |Mocoín         |Matchámi      |Paoó          |Apaᵈyú
81. Three           |Mosapúiri      |Matsiáca      |Keuyecopáh    |Arayú
82. Four            |{             }|Apuacápi      |Cominó púh    |Apaedyái
83. Five            |{             }|Adápui        |Weuóri        |Tchumupá
84. Six             |{ The         }|Etaípui       |Pañinopúh     |Tchurutchuarú
85. Seven           |{ Portuguese  }|Apecápecapisi |              |Pahá
86. Eight           |{ are used    }|Aiapéi aiapéi |              |Apamupá
                    |{ for these   }|  apaiápesi   |              |
87. Nine            |{             }|              |              |Apamuparéwa
88. Ten             |{             }|Bitchicápesi  |              |Tchewerá
89. Twenty          |{             }|Beitchimacáni |              |Tchewerá
90. Give me         |Erimehí        |Bei nodiá     |Etuwáni ere   |Heouashú
91. Come here       |Júri           |Piúca náikeni |Ereiniáh      |Uarishá
92. Go              |Icóin          |Pipína        |Imaraíu       |Uaiashú
93. Go fetch        |Icoin piamo    |Piátacuni     |Irínecu       |Uatá
94. Let us go fetch |Iaso ipiámo    |Tcháubitacumi |              |Tchemeuacíu
95. Have you water  |Ai coe será i  |Idjária puníni|Rií           |Iasí deco
96. Have you farinha|Ai coe será oi |Idjaria cáou  |              |Iasí bagaría
97. I am ill        |Se ma ci       |Eidiríkeno    |Tcharichéouki |Bicuhpúnha
98. I am well       |Se cató        |Misabihano    |              |Pulimeihóa

                         |                    |                   |
          _Cobeu._       |     _Tucáno._      |    _Tariána._     |    _Baniwa._
                         |                    |                   |  (_R. Isanna._)
                         |                    |                   |
 1. Erméu                |Érmeu               |Tchíali            |Atchináli
 2. Nomiá                |Nómio               |Ínalʰu             |Ínaru (nuino, wife)
 3. Hethoukí             |Muktúinᵍʰ           |Inapaíʰ            |Mápen
 4. Nomihetokoú          |Muktúin             |Ínalʰutáki         |Mápeni
 5. Ipóbu                |Righpóah            |(Nhu)hída          |(Nhú)ideu
 6. Ihécuno              |Igséro              |(No)núma           |(No)numá
 7. Yacóli               |Cá_ch_peri          |(Nó)ti             |(Nu)íti
 8. Nuénca               |Í_ch_kenᵍa          |(No)tákhu          |(Ni)tueú
 9. Coping               |Oᵍʰpíri             |(Nó)e              |(Nó)yeihei
10. Yapíbu               |Pára                |(No)öúa            |(No)sháda
11. Amoué                |Ómogha              |(No)cápi           |(No)zeté
12. Piulrí               |Tómogha             |(No)cápi wána      |(Nu)cápi
13. Amoíyo               |Omóghpia            |(No)páda           |(Nu)capi
14. Ibólowa              |Ni póghpigha        |(No)páda           |(Nu)hipá
15. Kiboúba              |Dí pogha            |(No)híbama         |(Nu)pipa
16. Cualhó               |Oʰwa                |(Nó)api            |(No)apí
17. Iwé                  |Díi                 |Ílhei              |(Nu)ira
18.                      |                    |                   |Mauítukei
19.                      |                    |                   |Nuíra úni
                         |                    |                   |
20. Iárlre               |Diíro               |Núibe              |Ueneinéu
21. Neaú                 |Tsé                 |Núisi              |Rhoieugéu
22. Óghcógh              |Óghcogh             |Úni                |Úni
23. Utilʳhá              |Poóca               |Cáui               |Matchúca
24.                      |                    |                   |
25. Erimendó             |Iáméro              |(No)énana          |(Nu)niñe
26. EButí                |Béuro               |Iéma               |
27. Touá                 |Pekhámi             |Tsiaúa             |Tidgé
28. Oomé                 |Uílonho             |Calédhi            |Carlía
29. Carduhín             |Niéri               |Diéve              |Liaué
30. Aoúno                |Ahóua               |Peilítha           |Perité
31. Cauwé                |Niípei              |Marliá             |Marlíhe
32. Temutalabi           |Miábgaki            |Yaviteábʰu         |Djepitábu
33. Témuyu               |Anúᵍʰa              |Shidóa             |Capoúi
34. Iaibó                |Wuhíbati            |Ápa                |Uapa
35. Cuíya                |Kibúdti             |Tchíwa             |Caturéwabi
36. Kelámi               |Wíi                 |Pánishi            |Panthi
37. |Obó                 |Diíta               |Hipéi              |Hipéi
38. Yocá                 |Pulí                |Panapʰe            |Djecápe
39. Má                   |Maá                 |Inípu              |Anípo
40. Okérgi               |Yúkena              |Heícu              |Heicúi
41. Coniá                |Taá                 |Canápithi          |Lhijudeu
42. Miwér                |Mírimágheu          |Capilla            |Tepirá
43. Móaki                |Waií                |Copʰé              |Copʰé
44. Wáni                 |Yétste              |Ábia               |Hapíja
45. Youimi               |Díeiyi              |Tchíno             |Tchínu
46. Órlhi                |Ohóh                |Délʰi              |Pálaneu
47.                      |                    |                   |Héikeuda
48. Onirocá              |Púghli              |Denípe             |Apánape
49. Okigikái             |Cághseri            |Tápa               |Tchekéia
50. Pohlá                |Poárli              |(No)tsialliʰ       |(No)chídupe
51. Ewí                  |Ughsíkapori         |(No)édha           |(No)chínumu
52. Pómboka              |Póhlamo             |Nódusi             |Ninórua
53. Pównki               |Póhneu              |Hámaka             |Makeitiba
54. Yówliko              |Uhkérsiweu          |Íta                |Íta
55. Yowliwé              |Uihówape            |Héicuita           |Tíwe
56. Ouiá                 |Uípo                |Kéthi              |Camuí
57. Ouiá                 |Uípo                |Kéthi              |Kerí
58. Amiócowa             |Uáhcoa              |Uallípele          |Hiwiri
59.                      |                    |                   |Danacadjéni
60.                      |                    |                   |Deikéna
61. Alowí                |Ermérlico           |Coápi              |Hecuápi
62. Yamuí                |Yámi                |Dépi               |Depipomijoíokeu
63. Ipáki                |Paguí               |Paíca              |Padjo
                         |                    |                   |
64. Ipáko                |Máou                |Náca               |Nádjo
                         |                    |                   |
65. Himáki               |Yéhmacuh            |Noénipe            |Níri
66. Himáki               |Yéhmacunah          |Nóitu              |Nóitu
67. Mehámihi             |Anyóöni             |Mátsia             |Matcheradi
68. Méhouméhou           |Mánii               |Madsi              |Matchídi
69. Boiúthi              |Achtsínika          |Hámuna             |Heúmode
70. Erhérwe              |Yeughsianítsa       |Hápaimuᵐ           |Iwírde
71. Oárwi                |Yoánii              |Uía                |Iápide
72. Oárbowi              |Youoúeh             |Mandoáde           |Madúadi
73. Aahárwi              |Búchtiniani         |Tálʰa              |Táradi
74. Arharméma            |Cabínin             |Helémi             |Awíladi
75. Bówi                 |Yietsísi            |Harlégʰa           |Yalanóui
76. Yeméhum              |Yéntsi              |Cadamaʰ            |Tapaíuna
77. Uwówa                |Tsuártsi            |Íleʰ               |Iréidi
78. Kilhiomí             |Ewiᵏ                |Éwa                |Ewádi
79. Cuináki              |Nekeú               |Paíta              |Cadúdi
80. |Picano              |Piána               |Yamhémpa           |Djámi
81. Nopécuno             |Itiána              |Mandárlipa         |Madállipa
82. Youicuwéno           |Bapalitína          |Hepunípe           |Manupéga nóuiki
83. Napulipé             |Nicumakína          |Pemapacápi         |
84. Apepelucouiní        |Piámo penipána      |Yemimamacábi       |
85. Pepeliapecouilími    |Bapalati penipána   |Yemimabacapilianúda|
86. Pepelicoloblicouilini|It’sa apenipána     |Pehipelianúda      |
                         |                    |                   |
87. (The same as eight)  |Manamo apenipana    |Paihipáwalianúda   |
88.                      |Amamopipametína     |Paihipawalianúda   |
89.                      |Mano deno dipopimeno|Yemawanalianuda    |
90. Irihiárki            |Yída óya            |Piniúda            |Pia nohíulni
91. Daháki               |A’tia               |Pinú               |Uátchi
92. Ihánki               |Teá                 |Piauégada          |Pipitu
93. Ikíluiaki            |Miníta              |Piteigúda          |Pitiken cadja
94.                      |                    |                   |Cadja piatchin
95. Kewaculimá           |Kióti maur          |Pidinénul          |Utcháperi úni
96.                      |                    |                   |Utchaperi matchuca
97. Ihiwudjúrni          |Doáti wetsaá        |Nucamia gúmahu     |Cacálinapuhli
98.                      |                    |                   |Matchiuphíha

                                |                 |
             _Barré._           |   _Baniwa._     |       _Baniwa._
                                |(_Tomo, Maroa._) |      (_Javíta._)
                                |                 |
 1. Hénul                       |Henúmi           |Caténimuni           1.
 2. Inéituti (nunio, wife)      |Néyau            |Thalinafemi          2.
 3. Hantitchuli                 |Irlubeʳlib       |Mathicoyu            3.
 4. Heineítutchli               |Néyau férium     |Mathicoyu            4.
 5. (No)dúsia                   |Nobu             |(Wa)sího             5.
 6. (No)núma                    |Enomá            |(Wa)nóma             6.
 7. (Nu)iti                     |(No)fúrli        |(Wa)hólisi           7.
 8. (Nu)tí                      |(Nú)yapeu        |(Wa)síwi             8.
 9. (Na)heí                     |(Ná)si           |(Wa)thi              9.
10. (No)dúllah                  |Panéni           |(Wa)hnwíti          10.
11. (No)dana                    |(Na)nu           |(Wa)cano            11.
12. (Nu)cábi                    |(Na)phi          |(Wa)cávi            12.
13. (Nu)cabi heíntibe           |(Na)phibu        |(Wa)cavi thiani     13.
14. Nísi heíntibi               |Geiutsísini      |(Wa)tsítsi culohási 14.
15. Nisi                        |(Nú)itsipalu     |(Wa)tsitsi          15.
16. Nábi                        |(Nó)piuna        |(Wa)ʳlanuku         16.
17. Níya                        |Miasi            |(Wa)thanúma         17.
18. Wamári                      |Mauáli           |(Wa)táva            18.
19. Macáinᵍ inuni               |Núcalouwénifi    |Úno                 19.
                                |                 |
20. Nuodíti                     |Émeu             |Básu                20.
21. Cuníhin                     |Rípa             |                    21.
22. Úni                         |Wéni             |Wéni                22.
23. Matᶜʰúca                    |Matsúca          |Matshúca            23.
24. Nahélluca                   |                 |                    24.
25. (No)néna                    |Patáli           |(Wa)táli            25.
26.                             |Eeli             |Djéema              26.
27. Camíni                      |Ársi             |Cáthi               27.
28. Ouisí                       |Uítsi            |                    28.
29. Teinico                     |Íneneu           |                    29.
30. Cúsi                        |Cáca             |Ahósi               30.
31. Titéhi                      |Marlía           |Cotsio              31.
32. Suépi                       |Saúitouli        |Saútolethi          32.
33. Dábida                      |Uéipipi          |Saúto               33.
34. Uápa                        |Sétau            |Canato              34.
35. Yúlleti                     |Rhíli            |Ániothi             35.
36. Pʰani                       |Panísi           |Panithi             36.
37. Cadi                        |Yatsiphe         |Caatsi              37.
38. Demacállabu                 |Taúape           |Titsvená            38.
39. Denábu                      |Tenepo           |Coathá              39.
40. Áda                         |Witsípha         |                    40.
41. Hibéni                      |Nunábi           |                    41.
42. Tábatᵉ                      |Eiúwi            |                    42.
43. Cobáti                      |Ríme             |Simási              43.
44. Habíja                      |Aminami          |                    44.
45. Tchínu                      |Tsíno            |                    45.
46. Pálanu                      |Palátna          |Palatana            46.
47. Dábu                        |Pinábi           |                    47.
48. Dabánube                    |Tsápi            |Barlbúnna           48.
49. Adáda                       |Átaphi máta      |                    49.
50. (Ní)ta                      |Notsipana        |(Wa)maoó            50.
51. (Nu)sínamu                  |Noránumi         |Fasanumá            51.
52. Nunaheí                     |Enonási          |Kinósi              52.
53. Míh                         |Mítsa            |Hamáka              53.
54. Ísa                         |Murupuriáni      |Báca                54.
55. Néhew                       |Nehewᵖᵃ          |Néhew               55.
56. Camu                        |Námouri          |                    56.
57. Tʰé, Kʰé                     |Narhíta         |Énoo                57.
58. Wénadi                      |Uimínari         |                    58.
59. Yehani                      |Yauwáiha         |Yahenáse            59.
60. Piúakan                     |Yaúwa            |Yáthi               60.
61. Yeháni                      |Pépurhi          |Yahenusíta          61.
62. Hebinameh                   |Yarápu           |Meroría             62.
63. { Mbaba, my father     }    |Nomámi           |                    63.
    { Biákari, your father }    |                 |
64. { Memi, my mother          }|Nosurámi         |                    64.
    { Biakou, your, his, mother}|                 |
65. Noditulh                    |Noü’ta           |                    65.
66. Nísu                        |                 |                    66.
67. Dúari                       |Anétua           |Yenií               67.
68. Mapʰo                       |Ónsubarlo        |                    68.
69. Tacʰuñ                      |Árte             |Cathií              69.
70. Huméneni begu               |Apatiwáli        |Cafatené            70.
71. Hulábi                      |                 |                    71.
72. Hebúcati                    |                 |                    72.
73. Capudʰ                      |Tépe             |                    73.
74. Cusani                      |Urlrái           |                    74.
75. Tikíne, Balíne              |Árlu             |Caátsi              75.
76. Tapaiun                     |Ríre             |Anuithi             76.
77. Kíyun                       |Íre              |                    77.
78. Witun                       |Eiúlinare        |                    78.
79. Bucunákilhi                 |Yabibulim        |                    79.
80. Micúnumᵃ                    |Enábe            |                    80.
81. Tricúnumi                   |Yabebuli         |                    81.
82. Ualibucúbi                  |Yunúlibumítsi    |                    82.
83. Ualibucúbi                  |Pinawiáphi       |                    83.
84. Bucunabicúbi                |Pimiri           |                    84.
85. Bobadunabucubi              |Yúmaliwi         |                    85.
86. Casainabuacúbi              |Piúrhuili        |                    86.
                                |                 |
87. Ualibacúbi                  |Pieírurwhi       |                    87.
88. Amakinneícubi               |Picalaurwhili    |                    88.
89. Amakinnaeiuesi              |Itsiruápi        |                    89.
90. Decaníko                    |                 |                    90.
91. Douáti                      |Maihipéta        |                    91.
92. Bihíwa                      |                 |                    92.
93. Bihíwa hówa                 |Ripianati        |                    93.
94. Bihiwa hoúa                 |Raioata          |                    94.
95. Duca bicu úni               |Ubeda piu weni   |                    95.
96. Duca bicu matchuca          |Ubeda pi matsuca |                    96.
97. Nucu beheini                |                 |                    97.
98. Douulína                    |                 |                    98.



The accompanying Vocabularies were collected with much care, and
several of them tested by a second party. The words are spelt with
the vowels sounded as in Portuguese, thus, _a_, _e_, _i_, _o_, _u_,
_ai_, pronounced _ah_, _a_, _e_, _o_, _oo_, _i_, and the consonants as
in English. A til, thus ~, over a letter denotes that it has a nasal
sound; the accent shows where the stress is to be laid; and a letter
placed above the line shows that it is to be very faintly sounded,
often in a peculiar way, as the _l_ in walnut. The languages are
arranged in geographical order, commencing with those spoken on the
banks of the Amazon, near the frontiers of Ecuador and terminating on
the tributaries of the Orinooko. The Lingoa Geral is placed first,
because it is the most widely spread language of South America, but
it does not contain a single word in common with any of the other ten
languages here given; and those that agree with it in not placing the
pronoun “_my_” as a prefix to the words signifying parts of the body,
differ most remarkably from it in the general combinations of the
letters and the sounds of the words.

The Lingoa Geral, the Uainambeu, and the languages spoken at Maroa
and Javita are soft and euphonious, while the Curetu and Tucano are
particularly harsh and guttural, the former having the _ll_, and
the latter the _ch_, sounded as in Welsh. The Tucano and Tariana are
spoken by adjoining tribes on the Uaupés, who often intermarry, yet
they have not a word in common, and differ remarkably in the character
of the pronunciation. The last two languages in the list are spoken in
villages not twenty miles apart.

In order to elucidate in some degree the grammatical forms of these
languages, I subjoin a few idioms in the Lingoa Geral, which probably
much resembles the rest in this respect.

                   _Change of the initial consonant._

  Eggs                               Súpia.
  Fowls’ eggs                        Sapucáia rupia.
  Alligators’ eggs                   Jacaré rupia.

               _Different forms used by male and female._

The father says—

  My son                             Seraíra.
  My daughter                        Seraíra cunhá.

The mother says—

  My son                             Señ bira.
  My daughter      Señ bira cunhá.

                      _Form of the genitive case._

  This is the white man’s knife      Coa caríwa kisé.
  This a white knife                 Coa kisé murutínga.

                       _Form of the superlative._

  Pretty                             Puránga.
  Very pretty                        Purángareté.
  Canoe                              Igára.
  Good canoe, large canoe            Igárité.

                        _Composition of words._

  Small stream                       Igarapé (literally “path of the canoe”).
  Dog                                Iauará.
  Jaguar (great or real dog)         Iauarité.
  Eagles, hawks (great birds)        Uera assú.
  Smoke (white fire)                 Tatatínga.
  Very well, yes, or a general
    affirmation, used also for
    farewell                         Eré.
  No, I will not, (negative)         Nim bá, een tío.

    _Names of natural objects, showing the repetition of vowels and

                           _Names of Palms._


                        _Names of Forest-trees._

  Masserandúba                       Milk tree.
  Itaúba                             Iron-wood tree.
  Socoúba                            Heron tree.
  Jacaréuba                          Alligator tree.
  Miratauá                           Yellow wood.
  Mirapiními                         Painted wood.
  Mirapiránga                        Red wood.

             _Names of Animals and other natural objects._

  Paraná                             River.
  Maracajá                           Tiger-cat.
  Caiarára                           A monkey (_Cebus gracilis_).
  Surucuá                            Trogons.
  Arára                              Macaw.
  Arapapá                            Boatbill.
  Maracaná                           Parrot (genus _Conurus_).
  Parawá                             Parrot.
  Panapaná                           Butterfly.
  Jararáca                           A serpent (_Craspedocephalus_).
  Surucucú                           A serpent (_Lachesis mutus_).
  Sucurujú                           Water boa (_Eunectes murinus_).

As connected with the languages of these people, we may mention the
curious figures on the rocks commonly known as picture-writings, which
are found all over the Amazon district.

The first I saw was on the serras of Montealegre, as described in my
Journal (p. 152). These differed from all I have since seen, in being
painted or rubbed in with a red colour, and not cut or scratched as in
most of the others I met with. They were high up on the mountain, at a
considerable distance from any river.

The next I fell in with were on the banks of the Amazon, on rocks
covered at high water just below the little village of Serpa. These
figures were principally of the human face, and are roughly cut into
the hard rock, blackened by the deposit which takes place in the waters
of the Amazon, as in those of the Orinooko.

Again, at the mouth of the Rio Branco, on a little rocky island in the
river, are numerous figures of men and animals of a large size scraped
into the hard granitic rock. Near St. Isabel, S. Jozé, and Castanheiro,
there are more of these figures, and I found others on the Upper Rio
Negro in Venezuela. I took careful drawings of all of them,—which are
unfortunately lost.

In the river Uaupés also these figures are very numerous, and of
these I preserved my sketches. They contain rude representations of
domestic utensils, canoes, animals, and human figures, as well as
circles, squares, and other regular forms. They are all scraped on the
excessively hard granitic rock. Some are entirely above and others
below high-water mark, and many are quite covered with a growth of
lichens, through which however they are still plainly visible. (Plates
VII. and VIII.) Whether they had any signification to those who
executed them, or were merely the first attempts of a rude art guided
only by fancy, it is impossible now to say. It is however beyond a
doubt that they are of some antiquity, and are never executed by
the present race of Indians. Even among the most uncivilized tribes,
where these figures are found, they have no idea whatever of their
origin; and if asked, will say they do not know, or that they suppose
the spirits did them. Many of the Portuguese and Brazilian traders will
insist upon it that they are natural productions, or, to use their
own expression, that “God made them;” and on any objection being made
they triumphantly ask, “And could not God make them?” which of course
settles the point. Most of them in fact are quite unable to see any
difference between these figures and the natural marks and veins that
frequently occur in the rocks.

[Illustration: _Plate VII._

  _Figures on The Granite Rocks of the River Uaupes._

  A. R. Wallace del. et. lith.      F. Reeve, imp.]

[Illustration: _Plate VIII._

  _Figures on the Granite Rocks of the River Uaupes._

  A. R. Wallace, del. et lith.      F. Reeve, imp.]

                     REMARKS ON THE VOCABULARIES.

                         BY R. G. LATHAM, M.D.

The observation which is the most necessary to the general student,
as a preliminary to Mr. Wallace’s tables, is the nature of certain
syllables which in the Uainambeu, Juri, Tariana, and other lists,
appear at the beginning of the names of the different parts of the
human body. It is certainly not by accident that in one language they
all begin with _eri-_, in another with _n-_; and so on. It is equally
certain that these prefixes are no part of the original word. In the
Baniwa of the Rio Isanna, the term for _hand_ is _capi_; the syllable
_nu-_ is a _non_-radical prefix. Now the non-radical prefix is (almost
to a certainty) the possessive pronoun, so that _nu_-cabi = _my head_:
the amalgamation of the two elements being common in the American,
as well as in certain languages of the Old World. (Appendix to
Macgillivray’s ‘Voyage of the Rattlesnake’—Languages of the Louisiade.)
The distribution of these prefixed possessive pronouns is a better
guide than the affinities of the substantives themselves: since the
personal pronouns are parts of speech which languages are slow to
borrow from each other.

To apply the observation to the details of the vocabularies under
notice, we find that the Juri and Javita prefixes are different
from each other, and different from those of the Tariana, etc.
throughout,—the pronominal syllables being _tch_, and _wa_,
respectively. Neither of these elements lead to anything very clear
and patent in the way of affinity. On the other hand it is equally
clear that in the Tariana, Isanna, Barré, and Tomo-Maroa lists the
prefix (_-n-_) is constant, however much the roots which follow it may
differ; so that the inference, in favour of the possessive pronouns (at
least) being the same throughout those four tongues, is legitimate.
In the Uainambeu the case is slightly different. It is only in some
of the words that the prefix is _-n_: in others it is _-eri_. This
however is not very material, since the two forms, in all probability,
represent two persons,—_nu_ = _my_, and _eri_ = _thy_ (or _vice versâ_)

Without, then, taking cognizance of the roots at all, the
classification of the languages before us, according to the similarity
of their pronominal prefixes, is as follows:—

_a. Allied._—Uainambeu, Tariana, Isanna, Barré, Tomo-Maroa.

_b. Disconnected._—Juri, Javíta.

_c. Uncertain._—Lingoa Geral, Coretu, Cobeu, Tucano.

The geographical localities of these tongues coincide with the nature
of their pronominal prefix, and favour (_pro tanto_) the notion that
they all belong to one and the same class,—a class of which the value
is at present wholly conjectural.

How far are the roots themselves similar? Upon the whole it may be said
that where the geography and where the pronominal prefixes indicate
affinity, the roots themselves do the same; though not so clearly and
patently as the investigator unpractised in American philology has a
tendency to expect. To go into the reasons of this would take up much
time and paper. It is sufficient to state that, whether the percentage
of similar words be great or small, it tallies with the similarity of
the prefixes. This may be verified by noticing the distribution of such
words as the following:—

_Head_ = root _b–d_ in Uainambeu, Tariana (?), Isanna (?).

_Mouth_ = root _n–m_ in Uainambeu, Tariana, Isanna, Barré, Tomo-Maroa.

_Eye_ = root _-t_ or _-d_, in Uainambeu, Tariana, Isanna, Barré.

_Nose_ = root _t–k_ in Uainambeu, Tariana, Isanna.

_Teeth_ = root _-i-_ in Uainambeu, Tariana, Isanna, Barré.

This list may be extended, but the foregoing words suffice for
illustration. That the root, in many cases, agrees where the pronouns
differ is evident: but it must be remembered that the position to which
the present writer commits himself is simply that of the _greatest
amount of radical affinities going along with the greatest amount of
pronominal similarity_. He by no means asserts, that where the pronouns
differ everything else differs also.

When specimens of a language are laid before the public, and such
specimens are, at one and the same time, limited in extent and the
first of their kind, it is rarely safe to go beyond the indication
of their probable affinities, and a general sketch of the class they
illustrate. This is the reason why the present writer limits himself to
observations of the miscellaneous and unsystematic character of those
here made.

_The Barré._—The Barré forms the centre of a group—a group of which the
value is uncertain. The other members of this, are the Baniwa of the
Tomo and Maroa to the north, the Uainambeu to the south, the Tariana,
and Baniwa of the Isanna to the west.

This statement (as has been already suggested) lies in the identity of
the prefix _n-_, throughout.

The name requires notice. In Humboldt’s account of the population
between the Orinooko and Amazon, we meet with a notice of the
_Poignavi_, called also Gui-_punavi_: which are probably neither more
nor less than _Baniwa_, as modified by the pronunciation of a different
dialect or language. The localities coincide nearly as closely as
the name. That branches however of the same population are denoted
by these forms is by no means certain; inasmuch as the name may be
applied by one population to several,—just as the root _Wel_-sh (a term
equally foreign to Wales, Italy, Wallachia, and the French portion of
Belgium, as a native name) is applied to the Germans, to the Welsh, the
Italians, the Wallachians, and the Walloons.

The Poignavi of Humboldt are said to speak a form of the Maypure; which
is likely enough, and which is by no means incompatible with their
affinities to the Baniwa. A full vocabulary however of their language
is wanting. In place hereof we have but two words,—

  _Water_       Oueni.
  _Moon_        Zenquerot.

Of these _oueni_ is Baniwa.

Further notice of the name will occur when we come to the Baniwa of
Javita. That the _Manivas_ of the maps are _Baniwa_ is suggested by Mr.
Wallace; and probably the E-_quinabi_ are but little different.

_The Juri._—The geographical relations of the Juri to the other
languages of Mr. Wallace’s list may be seen on the map. The
population which uses it lies south of the Japura, and probably on
the water-system (we can scarcely apply the word _valley_ to these
vast levels) of the Iça or Putumayo. It is perhaps as far from the
Uainambeu, as the Uainambeu is from the Isanna; and certainly farther
from any other member of the class last under notice than any such
members are from each other. Hence, the _primâ facie_ view afforded by
its geographical position is in favour of comparative isolation, at
least as far as regards the tongues which delight in the use of the
_n-_ prefix.

Neither is it in any very close geographical contact with the Tucano
and Coretu, the nearest of the other languages.

It is comparatively _isolated_, as far as the languages of the present
tables are concerned.

Now if we go from these to the ordinary maps, we find the contiguous
populations to bear the names Tapaxana, Cambeva, Ticuna, etc., etc.
What are the relations of the Juri tongue in this direction? Unknown.
We have no specimens of the Ticuna, no specimens of the Cambeva, no
specimens of the Tapaxana. There may be anything or nothing in the way
of likeness; anything or nothing in the way of difference.

_The Baniwa of Javita._—The relation of this to the other Baniwas must
be determined by the vocabulary itself: since (as has been already
suggested) the identity of name goes for nothing either way. It proves
nothing in favour of affinity; nothing in favour of difference.

The pronominal prefixes (_wa-_) are different; but this again is only
_primâ facie_ evidence of real difference. A pronoun of a different
person (as has also been already suggested) may have been used.

_The Lingoa Geral._—Last in the order of notice, though first in the
list, is the Lingoa Geral. The basis of this is the Guarani language;
and, with two exceptions, the distribution of the numerous dialects
and subdialects of the Guarani tongue is the most remarkable in the
world; the exception lying with the Malay and the Athabascan tongues.
The Malay numerals have long been known to extend from Polynesia on
one side to Madagascar on the other, and, along with the numerals, a
notable percentage of other words as well. The Athabascan dialects
are spoken on the shores of the Arctic Sea, at the mouth of the River
Columbia, and within the tropics; since the speech of certain of the
formidable Apach tribes of Mexico has been shown to belong to the same
class with that of the Loucheux at the month of the Mackenzie River.

These are the two most remarkable instances of a wide and irregular
distribution of language known to investigators; and next to these
comes, as already stated, that of the Guarani tongues.

It matters little from what point we begin to consider them. Perhaps
the mouth of the Amazons is as convenient as any. If this be our
starting-point, we may follow the coast southwards, and in the
direction of the River Plate. In nine cases out of ten, as often as the
earlier Portuguese adventurers came upon an Indian population occupying
the sea-shore, that population spoke a language which they called
_Tupi_, _Tupi_naki, _Tupi_nambi, or something similar in the way of a
compound of the root _tup_, and which they found to be intelligible
with the forms of speech spoken in several distant districts elsewhere.
If they landed on the parts about Bahia, the language was akin to what
they had previously heard at Olinda, and what they would afterwards
hear at Rio Janeiro: and so on along the whole sea-board. Hence,
there were Tupi forms of speech as far north as the Island of Marajo,
Tupi forms of speech as far south as Monte Video, and Tupi forms of
speech in all (or nearly all) the intervening points of coast. The
fishermen of the Laguna de los Patos spoke Tupi. The Cahetes of Bahia
did the same. So did the Tamoyos of the Bay of Rio Janeiro, and so the
Tupinaki, Tupinambi, and Tupinaes—the Tupi Proper so to say. This made
the Tupi pass for the leading language of Brazil; so long at least as
Brazil was known imperfectly, or along the sea-coast only.

It was soon however noticed that, as a general rule, the Tupi was
spoken to only an inconsiderable distance inland, _i.e._ until one
got to the Province of San Paolo, going southwards. In Goyaz, in the
hill-ranges of Pernambuco, Bahia, Porto Seguro, etc., came forms of
speech which those who spoke the Tupi separated from their own,—forms
of speech of the barbarians (so to say) of the interior as opposed to
the more civilized mariners of the coast. The Botocudo, the Canarin,
the Coroado, the Coropo, the Machacari, the Camacan, the Penhami, the
Kirivi, the Sabuja, the Gran, the Timbyra, and a vast list of other
Brazilian Indians besides, were different from and other than the Tupi.
But this distinction between the coastmen and the inlanders ceases as
we go southwards; and when Cabeza de Vaca, in 1540, made his overland
journey from St. Catalina to the city of Assumcio on the Parana, the
chief Indians with whom he came in contact were allied to each other
and allied to the tribes of the coast.

But the nomenclature changed with the change from Portuguese to Spanish
dominion; and, though the Indians of the Brazilian province of San
Paolo (the province of Brazil where they first began to extend inland
and towards the centre of the continent) and those of Rio Grande de Sul
might be Tupi, the allied populations of Entre Rios, Corrientes, Monte
Video, and Paraguay were known under the designation of _Guarani_. This
gave us a _Tupi-Guarani_ class of languages in which it was not very
incorrect to say that the Tupi were the Guarani of Brazil, and the
Guarani the Tupi of Paraguay. The _chief_ difference was a verbal and
nominal one.

The first part, then, of the South American continent where the
Tupi-Guarani (or Guarani-Tupi) were found in large masses, with an
extension inland as well as an extension coastwise, were the Brazilian
provinces of San Paolo in its southern part, the Brazilian province
of Rio Grande de Sul, and the Spanish territories of Entre Rios,
Corrientes, part of Buenos Ayres, Monte Video, and Paraguay—Paraguay
in its southern and eastern rather than in its northern and western
parts. In these quarters the language changed, and the affinities of
the populations were with the Indians of the Chaco—the Mocobi, Toba,
and Abiponians, etc.

It was through the Guarani of Paraguay that the Jesuits did the chief
part of their labours in the way of conversion, and it was through the
Tupi of Brazil that the Portuguese did the chief part of their Indian
trading: facts which favoured the formation of a Lingua Franca on a
Tupi-Guarani basis.

At present we have seen the Indians of this family following the
coast or the water-system of the Plata. But there is another series
of fact connected with their distribution, clear and patent enough to
have been known to the earlier philologists, such as Hervas and his
contemporaries. The extension of populations akin to the Tupi-Guarani
was just as great along the course of the Amazon as it was along
that of the Parana,—just as great, and probably greater. It was also
spread along the feeders of the Amazon; the southern feeders, and the
northern feeders of that river. By the southern feeders the line ran
towards the system of the Parana, by the northern towards that of the
Orinoco. So that as far northwards as the equator, and as far south as
Buenos Ayres, Tupi-Guarani were to be found. More than this, as the
Amazon arises on the Andes, and as its head-waters were Tupi-Guarani,
the extension of that family from east to west was as remarkable as
its diffusion from south to north. Still it gives us the hem of the
garment, the fringe of the carpet, rather than the carpet or the
garment itself. It gave the circumference of a circle rather than the
parts pertaining to the centre. I call it a circle for the sake of
illustration; for the sake of showing that there were a vast class of
distinct and different languages which it had more or less completely
surrounded. In reality the outline was irregular, formed in the main
by the Ocean and the Amazons, but with long processes attached to it;
dipping in towards the centre on one side, and flying off from the
periphery on another.

We will go further in the details of the same processes, offsets,
indentations, or prolongations. The Omaguas are found as far west as
the Napo; and they preponderate at the junction of the Japura. They are
said to speak the Yete, Putumayo, and Zeokeyo dialects of the Sucumbia
language. This gives us a third term; possibly a third philological
division—Tupi, Guarani, Sucumbia. Such are the names of the languages,
the populations being Tupi, Guarani, and Omagua; the Tupi (chiefly)
in Brazil, the Guarani in Paraguay, the Omagua in New Granada. The
full details of the Tupi-Guaranis of the Amazons are somewhat obscure.
At the mouth of the Tapajos, and the mouth of the Tocantins, they
are specially mentioned, so they are in the great island of the

The Napo and Putumayo are the chief rivers that carry us along the
Tupi-Guarani (Omagua) lines northwards. The most important of the
southern lines are those of the Ucayale and the Huallaga, rivers, be
it observed, of the extreme west; the latter running at the very foot
of the Andes. The Cocamas and the Cocamillas occupy the watershed of
these two streams for an undetermined distance southwards; and they
navigate them with the boldness of the Omaguas. This gives us a fourth
section—Tupi, Guarani, Omagua, Cocamilla.

Fifthly and (in the present state of our knowledge) lastly, come
the Indians of the Peruvian province of Santa Cruz de la Sierra,
extended, on one side, into the Republic of Tarija and the Chaco,
and, on another, into the Mission of Chiquitos. Three sections of the
division have been visited and described—_a_, the Guarayos; _b_, the
Chiriguanos; _c_, and the Sirionos. These are described by D’Orbigny in
his ‘Homme Américain,’ pp. 338–348.

It is submitted that, in the question as to the original _habitat_
and _focus_ of the Guarani family the _primâ facie_ evidence is in
favour of the Provinces of Santa Cruz de la Sierra; the locality
of the Guarayos, Chiriguanos and Sirionos, the two latter bearing,
probably, the same name in a modified form. This view is proposed
because the locality in question is the only portion of the Guarani
occupancy which is common to the two great water-systems on which
they are so remarkably distributed; and it rests upon the principle
of not multiplying causes unnecessarily, rather than upon any special
evidence. In one respect indeed, there is an accredited fact against
it. The Chiriguanos are said to have been pressed forward into their
present locality by the Spanish conquest—a fact, however, of which
the evidence is very unsatisfactory, and one which does not apply to
the Guarayos. I repeat the statement that the present notice goes no
further than the indication of the _primâ facie_ probabilities of the
question, and that it merely points out the most promising line of
criticism, a line which has yet to be worked out.

But there is a point of detail which may well find its place here. The
languages which have hitherto been placed in the Guarani class are
languages of which the Guarani character has long been admitted. Of
new additions no notice has been taken; yet one such new addition can
probably be made—one, and perhaps more.

Into the details of a language spoken to the south of the Amazons,
and to the east of the Madeira, the language of the Mundrucu Indians,
I have gone no further than the short list of Balbi’s ‘Atlas
Ethnographique.’ However, the inspection of this is sufficient to show
that it is more Guarani than aught else.—_e. g._

    _English_          Sun.
    Mundrucu           _uashi_.
    Guarani            _cuarazi_.
    Lingoa Geral       _arassi_.
    Tupinamba          _gouarassi_.
    Tupi               _coaracy_.
    Omagua             _huarassi_.

    _English_          Moon.
    Mundrucu           _uashiat_.
    Guarani            _yaci_.
    Lingoa Geral       _iassu_.
    Tupinamba          _iasce_.
    Tupi               _iacy_.
    Omagua             _yase_.

    _English_          Earth.
    Mundrucu           _ipu_.
    Guarani            _ibi_.
    Lingoa Geral       _bu_.
    Tupinamba          _ubuy_.
    Tupi               _ibi_.
    Omagua             _tujuca_.

    _English_           Water.
    Mundrucu            _hu_.
    Guarani             _i_.
    Lingoa Geral        _hu_.
    Tupi                _i_.
    Omagua              _uni_.

    _English_           Fire.
    Mundrucu            _tasha_.
    Guarani, etc.       _tata_.

    _English_           Eye.
    Mundrucu            _uieta_.
    Guarani             _teza_.
    Lingoa Geral        _tessa_.
    Tupinamba           _dessa_.
    Tupi                _tesa_.
    Omagua              _ssissazaicana_.

    _English_           Head.
    Mundrucu            _oija_.
    Guarani             _acang_.
    Lingoa Geral        _acanga_.
    Tupinamba           _acan_.
    Tupi                _acanga_.
    Omagua              _yacae_.

    _English_           Nose.
    Mundrucu            _ueinampo_.
    Guarani             _hu_.
    ——                  _tu_.
    Lingoa Geral        _una_.
    Tupinamba           _tin_.
    Tupi                _un_.
    Omagua              _ti_.

    _English_           Mouth.
    Mundrucu            _woi-pi_.
    Guarani             _yurù_.
    Lingoa Geral        _puru_.
    Tupinamba           _ioure_.
    Tupi                _puru_.
    Omagua              _yuru_.

    _English_           Tongue.
    Guarani             _wai-co_.
    Lingoa Geral        _cu_.
    ——                  _apo-cum_.
    Tupinamba           _ape-cou_.
    Tupi                _ape-cu_.
    Omagua              _cu-muera_.

    _English_           Tooth.
    Mundrucu            _woi-no_.
    Guarani             _tai_.
    Lingoa Geral        _tanha_.
    Tupinambi           _ram_.
    Tupi                _tanha_.
    Omagua              _sai_.
    ——                  _dai_.

    _English_           Hand.
    Mundrucu            _woi-po_.
    Guarani             _po_.
    ——                  _mbo_.
    Lingoa Geral        _po_.
    Tupinambi           _po_.
    Tupi                _poo_.
    Omagua              _pua_.

    _English_           Foot.
    Mundrucu            _woi-canuputa_.
    Guarani             _pi_.
    ——                  _mbi_.
    Lingoa Geral        _purumga_.
    Tupinambi           _povy_.
    Tupi                _pu_.
    Omagua              _pueta_.

If this view be tenable, the _uaschi_ of Mundrucu simply = _light_, and
its difference in form from the Guarani words is explained. So is its
similarity to the name _uashiat_ = _moon_.

_The Coretu._—It by no means follows that because two languages have
the same name they are identical; on the contrary, they may be widely
different—a point which has already been noticed. Now the ‘Atlas
Ethnologique’ of Balbi gives us a short Coretu vocabulary which is
_not_ the Coretu of Mr. Wallace.

  ENGLISH.    CORETU (_Balbi_).    CORETU (_Wallace_).
    _Sun_       haie                 aoué.
    _Moon_      haia-pucku           jamímaíga.
    _Earth_     gaira                thetáh.
    _Water_     cootabre             deco.
    _Fire_      aegacae              puílre.
    _Eye_       siroho               yeellúh.
    _Head_      caumeo               cuilrí.
    _Nose_      liiissapo            ergílli.
    _Mouth_     hiamolecko           dishí.
    _Tongue_    coahuri              dolóʳ.
    _Tooth_     simahapo             gophpecuh.
    _Hand_      coholo               muhú.
    _Foot_      namacgo              giápah.

In these two lists the only two similar words are the names for _sun_.
Hence, the phenomenon illustrated by the name _Baniwa_ is repeated in
the case of the word _Coretu_.

Upon the _Cobeu_ and _Tucano_, no facts beyond those that lie in the
tables themselves are known.

With the exception of the Lingoa Geral, Mr. Wallace’s vocabularies
represent languages hitherto unknown. What is their geographical
relation to the known ones?

It is only through the northern tongues (the Baniwa of Javita and the
Tomo) that we even approach the areas of any well-described dialect.
The Uainambeu in the south-west, the Juri in the south, and the Coretu
in the west, are each and all on the limits of _terræ incognitæ_. For
the parts between the western watershed of the Rio Magdalena in New
Granada, the 71st degree of west longitude, the 4th degree of north
latitude (there or thereabouts), the River Napo, and the Amazons, I
know of no vocabularies, still less of any grammars. Hence, of any
tongue spoken at one and the same time to the west of the Rio Negro, to
the south of the Rio Inirida, to the north of the Amazons, and to the
east of the Putumayo, the only specimens are the ones under notice.

1. To the east of the Rio Negro, the vocabularies that bring us nearest
to Mr. Wallace’s are those of Sir Robert Schomburgk, of which the
Guinau is the most western. They are all dealt with by Sir Robert
Schomburgk himself as members of the great Carib (Carib-Tamanak)
family, and this upon reasonable and sufficient grounds.

2. For the north we must seek our chief data in the ‘Mithridates’ and
in Humboldt.

Along the rivers Meta, Vichada, and Guaviare, feeders of the Orinoco,
different forms of the Saliva language are spoken—a language of which
the distribution reminds us of the Guarani, although it is far less
remarkable for its extent. At the same time it is so far _fluviatile_
as to follow to the system of the Orinoco, and so far extensive as to
occur on the Upper Meta at the present time, and to be supposed (on
reasonable grounds) to have once reached as far eastwards as Trinidad.

_b._ Conterminous with the Saliva, and also conterminous with the
Guiana and Venezuelan members of the great Carib family, lie the
populations speaking languages akin to the Maypure and Pareni—of both
of which forms of speech we have specimens (Humboldt’s and that of the
‘Mithridates’), though short and insufficient. That the Caveri, the
Avani, and the Poignavi (Guipunavi) speak dialects akin to each other
and to the Maypure rests upon external evidence. Specimens are wanted.
South of the Rio Uapes in Arrowsmith’s London Atlas lie the Meppuris,
similar in name to the Maypure, but by no means necessarily allied to

_c._ Further north (in a north-western direction) on the Casanare and
the Lower Meta, are the Yarura, Betoi, and Otomaca tongues.

3. South of the Amazons we must descend as far as the Province of
Moxos (on the Beni) before we get anything beyond the most fragmentary
specimens of language.

4. _Westwards_, and in the direction of the Andes, the break is greater
still. For New Granada, a few words of the old Muysca language from the
parts about Tunja, and, then, a short list from the mouth of the Atrato
(at the very neck of the Isthmus of Darien) constitute the whole of our

_b._ And matters are but little better in Ecuador. Between the Andes
(of which the different Quichua dialects are pretty well known) and the
area now under notice, the Zapara vocabulary of Osculati’s recently
published work is all we have. The Zapara is spoken on the Rio Napo.

Hence, if we pass from the area illustrated by the specimens before
us—specimens from a _terra incognita_—to the region of known dialects,
we have (after a few Puru and Mundrucu samples from the south bank of
the Amazons), as languages nearest in respect to their geographical

_East._—-The, Carib dialects, of which the nearest is Sir R.
Schomburgk’s Guinau.

_North._—The Maypure and Saliva families.

_West._—The Zapara.

_South._—The languages of the Province of Moxos.

To the Zapara the present vocabularies are the _least_ like; and
perhaps they are _most_ like the Carib dialects. Now the Carib dialects
have numerous affinities—some of them of a very remarkable kind. In the
first place they have them with the Maypure and Saliva; next, they have
them with the Guarani; thirdly, there is the statement (accompanied
by a table which partially verifies it) in the ‘Mithridates’ that the
Moxos and Maypure have several important elements in common.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following Tables are formed from a very slight collation, viz. from
one with short specimens of Guiana languages by Sir R. Schomburgk,
and the equally scanty lists in D’Orbigny’s ‘Homme Américain.’ They
are laid before the reader less on account of their own merits than
for the sake of counteracting the common (but erroneous) belief that
the South American tongues are wholly unconnected in respect to their
vocabularies. The extent to which the commoner roots occur in different
languages may be surmised from even so short a table as the subjoined.

  _English_        Head.
  Cobeu            i-_pobu_.
  Carabisi         yu-_bupo_.
  Accaway          yu-_popo_.
  Macusi           _pupei_.
  Woyawai          i-_pawa_.
  Arecuna          o-_puwei_.
  ——               o-_pei_.

  _English_        Mouth.
  Uainambeu        eri-_numa_.
  Baniwa (I.)      no-_numa_.
  Barre            no-_numa_.
  Baniwa (J.)      wa-_noma_.
  Baniwa (T.M.)    e-_noma_.
  Tariana          no-_numa_.
  Guinau           noma.

  _English_        Nose.
  Baniwa (T.M.)    ny-_apeu_.
  Aturia           _ohipe_.
  Dauri            _ohebe_.
  Juri             _youcone_.
  Tucano           ich-_kena_.
  Sœrikong         _akone_.
  Salivi           _incuu_.

  _English_        Hand.
  Uainambeu        eri-_kiapi_.
  Baniwa (I.)      nu-_capi_.
  Barre            nu-_cabi_.
  Baniwa (J.)      wa-_cavi_.
  Guinau           in-_kabo_.
  Mawakwa          ngn-_kowa_.
  Atorai           un-_kuai_.
  Arawàk           de-_cabbu_.
  Maypure          nu-_capi_.

  _English_        Foot.
  Uainambeu        er-_upa_.
  Baniwa (I.)      nu-_hipi_.
  Macusi           _hupu_.
  Taruma           _appa_.
  Cobeu            ki-_bouba_.
  Carabisi         _pupu_.
  Saliva           caa-_bapa_.

  _English_        Water.
  Baniwa (I.)      _uni_.
  Barre            _uni_.
  Baniwa (J.)      _weni_.
  Baniwa (T.M.)    _weni_.
  Tariana          _uni_.
  Guinau           _oni_.
  Mawakwa          _wune_.
  Taruma           _ona_-bo.
  Arawak           _wuni_-abo.
  Maypure          _weni_.
  Sarabeca         _une_.
  Paioceneca       _une_.
  Moxa             _une_.
  Pacaguara        _jene_.

  _English_        Water.
  Tucano           _oghcogh_.
  Cobeu            _oghcogh_.
  Saliva           _cagua_.

  _English_        Fire.
  Baniwa (I.)      _tidge_.
  Guinau           _tsheke_.
  Mawakwa          _tshikase_.
  Wapisiana        _tegherre_.
  Atorai           _tegherre_.
  Dauri            _tekerre_.
  Sarabeca         _tikiai_.
  Mataguayo        _itag_.
  Baniwa (J.)      _cathi_.
  Maypure          _cãtti_.
  Araucanian       _cutal_.

  _English_        Fire.
  Juri             _ii_.
  Taruma           _hua_.

  _English_        Bow.
  Uainambeu        _paro_.
  Atorai[3]        _parauri_.

  _English_        Arrow.
  Baniwa (I.)      _capoui_.
  Taruma           _cupa_.

  _English_        Tree.
  Tucano           _yukena_.
  Zapara           _nackuna_.

  _English_        Sun.
  Cobeu            _ouia_.
  Carabisi         _wehu_.
  Accaway          _wiyheu_.
  Macusi           _weh_.
  Arecuna          _wae_.

  _English_        Sun.
  Juri             _iye_.
  Warau            _yah_.
  Maypure          _khie_.

  _English_        Sun.
  Uainambeu        _camiu_.
  Baniwa (I.)      _camuí_.
  Barre            _camu_.
  Guiana           _kamuhu_.
  Woyawai          _kamu_.
  Mawakwa          _kamu_.
  Wapisiana        _kamo_.
  Atorai           _kamoi_.
  Dauri            _tamoi_.
  Sarebeca         _caame_.

  _English_        Moon.
  Uainambeu        _cari_.
  Baniwa (I.)      _keri_.
  Quichua          _killa_.
  Mataguayo        _guela_.
  Guinau           _kewari_.
  Mawakwa          _kirsu_.
  Wapisiana        _keirrh_.
  Atorai           _keirrhe_.
  Dauri            _kaiira_.
  Baniwa (J.)      _enu_.
  Carabisi         _nuna_.

  _English_        Star.
  Baniwa (I.)      _kiwiri_.
  Wapescana        _weri_.

  _English_        One.
  Uainambeu        _apari_.
  Mawakwa          _apaura_.
  Arawak           _abaru_.

  _English_        One.
  Tariana          _paita_.
  Wapisiana        _peit_-e-ieppa.
  Atorai           _peit_-aghpa.
  Dauri            _weit_-appa.

  [3] In several of the other Carib dialects the root _p–sr_ = _arrow_.

                               THE END.

                              PRINTED BY
                         LINCOLN’S INN FIELDS.

                         Transcriber’s Notes:

  - Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).
  - Blank  pages have been removed.
  - Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected.

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