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Title: Wanderings in South America
Author: Waterton, Charles, 1782-1865
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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WANDERINGS IN SOUTH AMERICA

By CHARLES WATERTON



PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION


I offer this book of "Wanderings" with a hesitating hand. It has little
merit, and must make its way through the world as well as it can. It
will receive many a jostle as it goes along, and perhaps is destined to
add one more to the number of slain in the field of modern criticism.
But if it fall, it may still, in death, be useful to me; for should
some accidental rover take it up and, in turning over its pages, imbibe
the idea of going out to explore Guiana in order to give the world an
enlarged description of that noble country, I shall say, "fortem ad
fortia misi," and demand the armour; that is, I shall lay claim to a
certain portion of the honours he will receive, upon the plea that I
was the first mover of his discoveries; for, as Ulysses sent Achilles
to Troy, so I sent him to Guiana. I intended to have written much more
at length; but days and months and years have passed away, and nothing
has been done. Thinking it very probable that I shall never have
patience enough to sit down and write a full account of all I saw and
examined in those remote wilds, I give up the intention of doing so,
and send forth this account of my "Wanderings" just as it was written
at the time.

If critics are displeased with it in its present form, I beg to observe
that it is not totally devoid of interest, and that it contains
something useful. Several of the unfortunate gentlemen who went out to
explore the Congo were thankful for the instructions they found in it;
and Sir Joseph Banks, on sending back the journal, said in his letter:
"I return your journal with abundant thanks for the very instructive
lesson you have favoured us with this morning, which far excelled, in
real utility, everything I have hitherto seen." And in another letter
he says: "I hear with particular pleasure your intention of resuming
your interesting travels, to which natural history has already been so
much indebted." And again: "I am sorry you did not deposit some part of
your last harvest of birds in the British Museum, that your name might
become familiar to naturalists and your unrivalled skill in preserving
birds be made known to the public." And again: "You certainly have
talents to set forth a book which will improve and extend materially
the bounds of natural science."

Sir Joseph never read the third adventure. Whilst I was engaged in it,
death robbed England of one of her most valuable subjects and deprived
the Royal Society of its brightest ornament.



CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION

PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION

FIRST JOURNEY
    REMARKS

SECOND JOURNEY

THIRD JOURNEY

FOURTH JOURNEY

ON PRESERVING BIRDS FOR CABINETS OF NATURAL HISTORY

GLOSSARY

INDEX



WANDERINGS IN SOUTH AMERICA


FIRST JOURNEY

  ----nec herba, nec latens in asperis
  Radix fefellit me locis.

In the month of April 1812 I left the town of Stabroek to travel
through the wilds of Demerara and Essequibo, a part of _ci-devant_
Dutch Guiana, in South America.

The chief objects in view were to collect a quantity of the strongest
wourali poison and to reach the inland frontier-fort of Portuguese
Guiana.

It would be a tedious journey for him who wishes to travel through
these wilds to set out from Stabroek on foot. The sun would exhaust him
in his attempts to wade through the swamps, and the mosquitos at night
would deprive him of every hour of sleep.

The road for horses runs parallel to the river, but it extends a very
little way, and even ends before the cultivation of the plantations
ceases.

The only mode then that remains is to proceed by water; and when you
come to the high-lands, you may make your way through the forest on
foot or continue your route on the river.

After passing the third island in the River Demerara there are few
plantations to be seen, and those not joining on to one another, but
separated by large tracts of wood.

The Loo is the last where the sugar-cane is growing. The greater part
of its negroes have just been ordered to another estate, and ere a few
months shall have elapsed all signs of cultivation will be lost in
underwood.

Higher up stand the sugar-works of Amelia's Waard, solitary and
abandoned; and after passing these there is not a ruin to inform the
traveller that either coffee or sugar have ever been cultivated.

From Amelia's Waard an unbroken range of forest covers each bank of the
river, saving here and there where a hut discovers itself, inhabited by
free people of colour, with a rood or two of bared ground about it; or
where the wood-cutter has erected himself a dwelling and cleared a few
acres for pasturage. Sometimes you see level ground on each side of you
for two or three hours at a stretch; at other times a gently sloping
hill presents itself; and often, on turning a point, the eye is pleased
with the contrast of an almost perpendicular height jutting into the
water. The trees put you in mind of an eternal spring, with summer and
autumn kindly blended into it.

Here you may see a sloping extent of noble trees whose foliage displays
a charming variety of every shade, from the lightest to the darkest
green and purple. The tops of some are crowned with bloom of the
loveliest hue, while the boughs of others bend with a profusion of
seeds and fruits.

Those whose heads have been bared by time or blasted by the
thunderstorm strike the eye, as a mournful sound does the ear in music,
and seem to beckon to the sentimental traveller to stop a moment or two
and see that the forests which surround him, like men and kingdoms,
have their periods of misfortune and decay.

The first rocks of any considerable size that are observed on the side
of the river are at a place called Saba, from the Indian word which
means a stone. They appear sloping down to the water's edge, not
shelvy, but smooth, and their exuberances rounded off and, in some
places, deeply furrowed, as though they had been worn with continual
floods of water.

There are patches of soil up and down, and the huge stones amongst them
produce a pleasing and novel effect. You see a few coffee-trees of a
fine luxuriant growth, and nearly on the top of Saba stands the house
of the post-holder.

He is appointed by Government to give in his report to the protector of
the Indians of what is going on amongst them and to prevent suspicious
people from passing up the river.

When the Indians assemble here, the stranger may have an opportunity of
seeing the aborigines dancing to the sound of their country music and
painted in their native style. They will shoot their arrows for him
with an unerring aim and send the poisoned dart, from the blow-pipe,
true to its destination: and here he may often view all the different
shades, from the red savage to the white man; and from the white man to
the sootiest son of Africa.

Beyond this post there are no more habitations of white men or free
people of colour.

In a country so extensively covered with wood as this is, having every
advantage that a tropical sun and the richest mould, in many places,
can give to vegetation, it is natural to look for trees of very large
dimensions. But it is rare to meet with them above six yards in
circumference. If larger have ever existed they have fallen a sacrifice
either to the axe or to fire.

If, however, they disappoint you in size, they make ample amends in
height. Heedless, and bankrupt in all curiosity, must he be who can
journey on without stopping to take a view of the towering mora. Its
topmost branch, when naked with age or dried by accident, is the
favourite resort of the toucan. Many a time has this singular bird felt
the shot faintly strike him from the gun of the fowler beneath, and
owed his life to the distance betwixt them.

The trees which form these far-extending wilds are as useful as they
are ornamental. It would take a volume of itself to describe them.

The green-heart, famous for its hardness and durability; the hackea for
its toughness; the ducalabali surpassing mahogany; the ebony and
letter-wood vying with the choicest woods of the old world; the
locust-tree yielding copal; and the hayawa- and olou-trees furnishing a
sweet-smelling resin, are all to be met with in the forest betwixt the
plantations and the rock Saba.

Beyond this rock the country has been little explored, but it is very
probable that these, and a vast collection of other kinds, and possibly
many new species, are scattered up and down, in all directions, through
the swamps and hills and savannas of _ci-devant_ Dutch Guiana.

On viewing the stately trees around him, the naturalist will observe
many of them bearing leaves and blossoms and fruit not their own.

The wild fig-tree, as large as a common English apple-tree, often rears
itself from one of the thick branches at the top of the mora, and when
its fruit is ripe, to it the birds resort for nourishment. It was to an
undigested seed passing through the body of the bird which had perched
on the mora that the fig-tree first owed its elevated station there.
The sap of the mora raised it into full bearing, but now, in its turn,
it is doomed to contribute a portion of its own sap and juices towards
the growth of different species of vines, the seeds of which also the
birds deposited on its branches. These soon vegetate, and bear fruit in
great quantities; so what with their usurpation of the resources of the
fig-tree, and the fig-tree of the mora, the mora, unable to support a
charge which nature never intended it should, languishes and dies under
its burden; and then the fig-tree, and its usurping progeny of vines,
receiving no more succour from their late foster-parent, droop and
perish in their turn.

A vine called the bush-rope by the wood-cutters, on account of its use
in hauling out the heaviest timber, has a singular appearance in the
forests of Demerara. Sometimes you see it nearly as thick as a man's
body, twisted like a corkscrew round the tallest trees and rearing its
head high above their tops. At other times three or four of them, like
strands in a cable, join tree and tree and branch and branch together.
Others, descending from on high, take root as soon as their extremity
touches the ground, and appear like shrouds and stays supporting the
mainmast of a line-of-battle ship; while others, sending out parallel,
oblique, horizontal and perpendicular shoots in all directions, put you
in mind of what travellers call a matted forest. Oftentimes a tree,
above a hundred feet high, uprooted by the whirlwind, is stopped in its
fall by these amazing cables of nature, and hence it is that you
account for the phenomenon of seeing trees not only vegetating, but
sending forth vigorous shoots, though far from their perpendicular, and
their trunks inclined to every degree from the meridian to the horizon.

Their heads remain firmly supported by the bush-rope; many of their
roots soon refix themselves in the earth, and frequently a strong shoot
will sprout out perpendicularly from near the root of the reclined
trunk, and in time become a fine tree. No grass grows under the trees
and few weeds, except in the swamps.

The high grounds are pretty clear of underwood, and with a cutlass to
sever the small bush-ropes it is not difficult walking among the trees.

The soil, chiefly formed by the fallen leaves and decayed trees, is
very rich and fertile in the valleys. On the hills it is little better
than sand. The rains seem to have carried away and swept into the
valleys every particle which Nature intended to have formed a mould.

Four-footed animals are scarce considering how very thinly these
forests are inhabited by men.

Several species of the animal commonly called tiger, though in reality
it approaches nearer to the leopard, are found here, and two of their
diminutives, named tiger-cats. The tapir, the lobba and deer afford
excellent food, and chiefly frequent the swamps and low ground near the
sides of the river and creeks.

In stating that four-footed animals are scarce, the peccari must be
excepted. Three or four hundred of them herd together and traverse the
wilds in all directions in quest of roots and fallen seeds. The Indians
mostly shoot them with poisoned arrows. When wounded they run about one
hundred and fifty paces; they then drop, and make wholesome food.

The red monkey, erroneously called the baboon, is heard oftener than it
is seen, while the common brown monkey, the bisa, and sacawinki rove
from tree to tree, and amuse the stranger as he journeys on.

A species of the polecat, and another of the fox, are destructive to
the Indian's poultry, while the opossum, the guana and salempenta
afford him a delicious morsel.

The small ant-bear, and the large one, remarkable for his long, broad,
bushy tail, are sometimes seen on the tops of the wood-ants' nests; the
armadillos bore in the sand-hills, like rabbits in a warren; and the
porcupine is now and then discovered in the trees over your head.

This, too, is the native country of the sloth. His looks, his gestures
and his cries all conspire to entreat you to take pity on him. These
are the only weapons of defence which Nature hath given him. While
other animals assemble in herds, or in pairs range through these
boundless wilds, the sloth is solitary and almost stationary; he cannot
escape from you. It is said his piteous moans make the tiger relent and
turn out of the way. Do not then level your gun at him or pierce him
with a poisoned arrow--he has never hurt one living creature. A few
leaves, and those of the commonest and coarsest kind, are all he asks
for his support. On comparing him with other animals you would say that
you could perceive deficiency, deformity and superabundance in his
composition. He has no cutting-teeth, and though four stomachs, he
still wants the long intestines of ruminating animals. He has only one
inferior aperture, as in birds. He has no soles to his feet nor has he
the power of moving his toes separately. His hair is flat, and puts you
in mind of grass withered by the wintry blast. His legs are too short;
they appear deformed by the manner in which they are joined to the
body, and when he is on the ground, they seem as if only calculated to
be of use in climbing trees. He has forty-six ribs, while the elephant
has only forty, and his claws are disproportionably long. Were you to
mark down, upon a graduated scale, the different claims to superiority
amongst the four-footed animals, this poor ill-formed creature's claim
would be the last upon the lowest degree.

Demerara yields to no country in the world in her wonderful and
beautiful productions of the feathered race. Here the finest precious
stones are far surpassed by the vivid tints which adorn the birds. The
naturalist may exclaim that Nature has not known where to stop in
forming new species and painting her requisite shades. Almost every one
of those singular and elegant birds described by Buffon as belonging to
Cayenne are to be met with in Demerara, but it is only by an
indefatigable naturalist that they are to be found.

The scarlet curlew breeds in innumerable quantities in the muddy
islands on the coasts of Pomauron; the egrets and crabiers in the same
place. They resort to the mud-flats at ebbing water, while thousands of
sandpipers and plovers, with here and there a spoonbill and flamingo,
are seen amongst them. The pelicans go farther out to sea, but return
at sundown to the courada-trees. The humming-birds are chiefly to be
found near the flowers at which each of the species of the genus is
wont to feed. The pie, the gallinaceous, the columbine and passerine
tribes resort to the fruit-bearing trees.

You never fail to see the common vulture where there is carrion. In
passing up the river there was an opportunity of seeing a pair of the
king of the vultures; they were sitting on the naked branch of a tree,
with about a dozen of the common ones with them. A tiger had killed a
goat the day before; he had been driven away in the act of sucking the
blood, and not finding it safe or prudent to return, the goat remained
in the same place where he had killed it; it had begun to putrefy, and
the vultures had arrived that morning to claim the savoury morsel.

At the close of day the vampires leave the hollow trees, whither they
had fled at the morning's dawn, and scour along the river's banks in
quest of prey. On waking from sleep the astonished traveller finds his
hammock all stained with blood. It is the vampire that hath sucked him.
Not man alone, but every unprotected animal, is exposed to his
depredations; and so gently does this nocturnal surgeon draw the blood
that, instead of being roused, the patient is lulled into a still
profounder sleep. There are two species of vampire in Demerara, and
both suck living animals: one is rather larger than the common bat, the
other measures above two feet from wing to wing extended.

Snakes are frequently met with in the woods betwixt the sea-coast and
the rock Saba, chiefly near the creeks and on the banks of the river.
They are large, beautiful and formidable. The rattlesnake seems partial
to a tract of ground known by the name of Canal Number-three: there the
effects of his poison will be long remembered.

The camoudi snake has been killed from thirty to forty feet long;
though not venomous, his size renders him destructive to the passing
animals. The Spaniards in the Oroonoque positively affirm that he grows
to the length of seventy or eighty feet and that he will destroy the
strongest and largest bull. His name seems to confirm this: there he is
called "matatoro," which literally means "bull-killer." Thus he may be
ranked amongst the deadly snakes, for it comes nearly to the same thing
in the end whether the victim dies by poison from the fangs, which
corrupts his blood and makes it stink horribly, or whether his body be
crushed to mummy, and swallowed by this hideous beast.

The whipsnake of a beautiful changing green, and the coral, with
alternate broad traverse bars of black and red, glide from bush to
bush, and may be handled with safety; they are harmless little
creatures.

The labarri snake is speckled, of a dirty brown colour, and can
scarcely be distinguished from the ground or stump on which he is
coiled up; he grows to the length of about eight feet and his bite
often proves fatal in a few minutes.

Unrivalled in his display of every lovely colour of the rainbow, and
unmatched in the effects of his deadly poison, the counacouchi glides
undaunted on, sole monarch of these forests; he is commonly known by
the name of the bush-master. Both man and beast fly before him, and
allow him to pursue an undisputed path. He sometimes grows to the
length of fourteen feet.

A few small caymen, from two to twelve feet long, may be observed now
and then in passing up and down the river; they just keep their heads
above the water, and a stranger would not know them from a rotten stump.

Lizards of the finest green, brown and copper colour, from two inches
to two feet and a half long, are ever and anon rustling among the
fallen leaves and crossing the path before you, whilst the chameleon is
busily employed in chasing insects round the trunks of the neighbouring
trees.

The fish are of many different sorts and well-tasted, but not,
generally speaking, very plentiful. It is probable that their numbers
are considerably thinned by the otters, which are much larger than
those of Europe. In going through the overflowed savannas, which have
all a communication with the river, you may often see a dozen or two of
them sporting amongst the sedges before you.

This warm and humid climate seems particularly adapted to the producing
of insects; it gives birth to myriads, beautiful past description in
their variety of tints, astonishing in their form and size, and many of
them noxious in their qualities.

He whose eye can distinguish the various beauties of uncultivated
nature, and whose ear is not shut to the wild sounds in the woods, will
be delighted in passing up the River Demerara. Every now and then the
maam or tinamou sends forth one long and plaintive whistle from the
depth of the forest, and then stops; whilst the yelping of the toucan
and the shrill voice of the bird called pi-pi-yo is heard during the
interval. The campanero never fails to attract the attention of the
passenger; at a distance of nearly three miles you may hear this
snow-white bird tolling every four or five minutes, like the distant
convent-bell. From six to nine in the morning the forests resound with
the mingled cries and strains of the feathered race; after this they
gradually die away. From eleven to three all nature is hushed as in a
midnight silence, and scarce a note is heard, saving that of the
campanero and the pi-pi-yo; it is then that, oppressed by the solar
heat, the birds retire to the thickest shade and wait for the
refreshing cool of evening.

At sundown the vampires, bats and goat-suckers dart from their lonely
retreat and skim along the trees on the river's bank. The different
kinds of frogs almost stun the ear with their hoarse and
hollow-sounding croaking, while the owls and goat-suckers lament and
mourn all night long.

About two hours before daybreak you will hear the red monkey moaning as
though in deep distress; the houtou, a solitary bird, and only found in
the thickest recesses of the forest, distinctly articulates "houtou,
houtou," in a low and plaintive tone an hour before sunrise; the maam
whistles about the same hour; the hannaquoi, pataca and maroudi
announce his near approach to the eastern horizon, and the parrots and
paroquets confirm his arrival there.

The crickets chirp from sunset to sunrise, and often during the day
when the weather is cloudy. The bête-rouge is exceedingly numerous in
these extensive wilds, and not only man, but beasts and birds, are
tormented by it. Mosquitos are very rare after you pass the third
island in the Demerara, and sand-flies but seldom appear.

Courteous reader, here thou hast the outlines of an amazing landscape
given thee; thou wilt see that the principal parts of it are but
faintly traced, some of them scarcely visible at all, and that the
shades are wholly wanting. If thy soul partakes of the ardent flame
which the persevering Mungo Park's did, these outlines will be enough
for thee; they will give thee some idea of what a noble country this
is; and if thou hast but courage to set about giving the world a
finished picture of it, neither materials to work on nor colours to
paint it in its true shades will be wanting to thee. It may appear a
difficult task at a distance, but look close at it, and it is nothing
at all; provided thou hast but a quiet mind, little more is necessary,
and the genius which presides over these wilds will kindly help thee
through the rest. She will allow thee to slay the fawn and to cut down
the mountain-cabbage for thy support, and to select from every part of
her domain whatever may be necessary for the work thou art about; but
having killed a pair of doves in order to enable thee to give mankind a
true and proper description of them, thou must not destroy a third
through wantonness or to show what a good marksman thou art: that would
only blot the picture thou art finishing, not colour it.

Though retired from the haunts of men, and even without a friend with
thee, thou wouldst not find it solitary. The crowing of the hannaquoi
will sound in thine ears like the daybreak town-clock; and the wren and
the thrush will join with thee in thy matin hymn to thy Creator, to
thank Him for thy night's rest.

At noon the genius will lead thee to the troely, one leaf of which will
defend thee from both sun and rain. And if, in the cool of the evening,
thou hast been tempted to stray too far from thy place of abode, and
art deprived of light to write down the information thou hast
collected, the fire-fly, which thou wilt see in almost every bush
around thee, will be thy candle. Hold it over thy pocket-book, in any
position which thou knowest will not hurt it, and it will afford thee
ample light. And when thou hast done with it, put it kindly back again
on the next branch to thee. It will want no other reward for its
services.

When in thy hammock, should the thought of thy little crosses and
disappointments, in thy ups and downs through life, break in upon thee
and throw thee into a pensive mood, the owl will bear thee company. She
will tell thee that hard has been her fate, too; and at intervals
"Whip-poor-will" and "Willy come go" will take up the tale of sorrow.
Ovid has told thee how the owl once boasted the human form and lost it
for a very small offence; and were the poet alive now he would inform
thee that "Whip-poor-will" and "Willy come go" are the shades of those
poor African and Indian slaves who died worn out and broken-hearted.
They wail and cry "Whip-poor-will," "Willy come go," all night long;
and often, when the moon shines, you see them sitting on the green turf
near the houses of those whose ancestors tore them from the bosom of
their helpless families, which all probably perished through grief and
want after their support was gone.

About an hour above the rock of Saba stands the habitation of an Indian
called Simon, on the top of a hill. The side next the river is almost
perpendicular, and you may easily throw a stone over to the opposite
bank. Here there was an opportunity of seeing man in his rudest state.
The Indians who frequented this habitation, though living in the midst
of woods, bore evident marks of attention to their persons. Their hair
was neatly collected and tied up in a knot; their bodies fancifully
painted red, and the paint was scented with hayawa. This gave them a
gay and animated appearance. Some of them had on necklaces composed of
the teeth of wild boars slain in the chase; many wore rings, and others
had an ornament on the left arm midway betwixt the shoulder and the
elbow. At the close of day they regularly bathed in the river below,
and the next morning seemed busy in renewing the faded colours of their
faces.

One day there came into the hut a form which literally might be called
the wild man of the woods. On entering he laid down a ball of wax which
he had collected in the forest. His hammock was all ragged and torn,
and his bow, though of good wood, was without any ornament or polish:
"erubuit domino, cultior esse suo." His face was meagre, his looks
forbidding and his whole appearance neglected. His long black hair hung
from his head in matted confusion; nor had his body, to all appearance,
ever been painted. They gave him some cassava bread and boiled fish,
which he ate voraciously, and soon after left the hut. As he went out
you could observe no traces in his countenance or demeanour which
indicated that he was in the least mindful of having been benefited by
the society he was just leaving.

The Indians said that he had neither wife nor child nor friend. They
had often tried to persuade him to come and live amongst them, but all
was of no avail. He went roving on, plundering the wild bees of their
honey and picking up the fallen nuts and fruits of the forest. When he
fell in with game he procured fire from two sticks and cooked it on the
spot. When a hut happened to be in his way he stepped in and asked for
something to eat, and then months elapsed ere they saw him again. They
did not know what had caused him to be thus unsettled: he had been so
for years; nor did they believe that even old age itself would change
the habits of this poor harmless, solitary wanderer.

From Simon's the traveller may reach the large fall, with ease, in four
days.

The first falls that he meets are merely rapids, scarce a stone
appearing above the water in the rainy season; and those in the bed of
the river barely high enough to arrest the water's course, and by
causing a bubbling show that they are there.

With this small change of appearance in the stream, the stranger
observes nothing new till he comes within eight or ten miles of the
great fall. Each side of the river presents an uninterrupted range of
wood, just as it did below. All the productions found betwixt the
plantations and the rock Saba are to be met with here.

From Simon's to the great fall there are five habitations of the
Indians: two of them close to the river's side; the other three a
little way in the forest. These habitations consist of from four to
eight huts, situated on about an acre of ground which they have cleared
from the surrounding woods. A few pappaw, cotton and mountain-cabbage
trees are scattered round them.

At one of these habitations a small quantity of the wourali poison was
procured. It was in a little gourd. The Indian who had it said that he
had killed a number of wild hogs with it, and two tapirs. Appearances
seemed to confirm what he said, for on one side it had been nearly
taken out to the bottom, at different times, which probably would not
have been the case had the first or second trial failed.

Its strength was proved on a middle-sized dog. He was wounded in the
thigh, in order that there might be no possibility of touching a vital
part. In three or four minutes he began to be affected, smelt at every
little thing on the ground around him, and looked wistfully at the
wounded part. Soon after this he staggered, laid himself down, and
never rose more. He barked once, though not as if in pain. His voice
was low and weak; and in a second attempt it quite failed him. He now
put his head betwixt his fore-legs, and raising it slowly again he fell
over on his side. His eye immediately became fixed, and though his
extremities every now and then shot convulsively, he never showed the
least desire to raise up his head. His heart fluttered much from the
time he laid down, and at intervals beat very strong; then stopped for
a moment or two, and then beat again; and continued faintly beating
several minutes after every other part of his body seemed dead.

In a quarter of an hour after he had received the poison he was quite
motionless.

A few miles before you reach the great fall, and which indeed is the
only one which can be called a fall, large balls of froth come floating
past you. The river appears beautifully marked with streaks of foam,
and on your nearer approach the stream is whitened all over.

At first you behold the fall rushing down a bed of rocks with a
tremendous noise, divided into two foamy streams which, at their
junction again, form a small island covered with wood. Above this
island, for a short space, there appears but one stream, all white with
froth, and fretting and boiling amongst the huge rocks which obstruct
its course.

Higher up it is seen dividing itself into a short channel or two, and
trees grow on the rocks which cause its separation. The torrent, in
many places, has eaten deep into the rocks, and split them into large
fragments by driving others against them. The trees on the rocks are in
bloom and vigour, though their roots are half bared and many of them
bruised and broken by the rushing waters.

This is the general appearance of the fall from the level of the water
below to where the river is smooth and quiet above. It must be
remembered that this is during the periodical rains. Probably, in the
dry season, it puts on a very different appearance. There is no
perpendicular fall of water of any consequence throughout it, but the
dreadful roaring and rushing of the torrent, down a long rocky and
moderately sloping channel, has a fine effect; and the stranger returns
well pleased with what he has seen. No animal, nor craft of any kind,
could stem this downward flood. In a few moments the first would be
killed, the second dashed in pieces.

The Indians have a path alongside of it, through the forest, where
prodigious crabwood trees grow. Up this path they drag their canoes and
launch them into the river above; and on their return bring them down
the same way.

About two hours below this fall is the habitation of an Acoway chief
called Sinkerman. At night you hear the roaring of the fall from it. It
is pleasantly situated on the top of a sand-hill. At this place you
have the finest view the River Demerara affords: three tiers of hills
rise in slow gradation, one above the other, before you, and present a
grand and magnificent scene, especially to him who has been accustomed
to a level country.

Here, a little after midnight, on the first of May, was heard a most
strange and unaccountable noise: it seemed as though several regiments
were engaged and musketry firing with great rapidity. The Indians,
terrified beyond description, left their hammocks and crowded all
together like sheep at the approach of the wolf. There were no soldiers
within three or four hundred miles. Conjecture was of no avail, and all
conversation next morning on the subject was as useless and
unsatisfactory as the dead silence which succeeded to the noise.

He who wishes to reach the Macoushi country had better send his canoe
over-land from Sinkerman's to the Essequibo.

There is a pretty good path, and meeting a creek about three-quarters
of the way, it eases the labour, and twelve Indians will arrive with it
in the Essequibo in four days.

The traveller need not attend his canoe; there is a shorter and a
better way. Half an hour below Sinkerman's he finds a little creek on
the western bank of the Demerara. After proceeding about a couple of
hundred yards up it, he leaves it, and pursues a west-north-west
direction by land for the Essequibo. The path is good, though somewhat
rugged with the roots of trees, and here and there obstructed by fallen
ones; it extends more over level ground than otherwise. There are a few
steep ascents and descents in it, with a little brook running at the
bottom of them, but they are easily passed over, and the fallen trees
serve for a bridge.

You may reach the Essequibo with ease in a day and a half; and so
matted and interwoven are the tops of the trees above you that the sun
is not felt once all the way, saving where the space which a
newly-fallen tree occupied lets in his rays upon you. The forest
contains an abundance of wild hogs, lobbas, acouries, powisses, maams,
maroudis and waracabas for your nourishment, and there are plenty of
leaves to cover a shed whenever you are inclined to sleep.

The soil has three-fourths of sand in it till you come within half an
hour's walk of the Essequibo, where you find a red gravel and rocks. In
this retired and solitary tract Nature's garb, to all appearance, has
not been injured by fire nor her productions broken in upon by the
exterminating hand of man.

Here the finest green-heart grows, and wallaba, purple-heart,
siloabali, sawari, buletre, tauronira and mora are met with in vast
abundance, far and near, towering up in majestic grandeur, straight as
pillars, sixty or seventy feet high, without a knot or branch.

Traveller, forget for a little while the idea thou hast of wandering
farther on, and stop and look at this grand picture of vegetable
nature: it is a reflection of the crowd thou hast lately been in, and
though a silent monitor, it is not a less eloquent one on that account.
See that noble purple-heart before thee! Nature has been kind to it.
Not a hole, not the least oozing from its trunk, to show that its best
days are past. Vigorous in youthful blooming beauty, it stands the
ornament of these sequestered wilds and tacitly rebukes those base ones
of thine own species who have been hardy enough to deny the existence
of Him who ordered it to flourish here.

Behold that one next to it! Hark how the hammerings of the red-headed
woodpecker resound through its distempered boughs! See what a quantity
of holes he has made in it, and how its bark is stained with the drops
which trickle down from them. The lightning, too, has blasted one side
of it. Nature looks pale and wan in its leaves, and her resources are
nearly dried up in its extremities: its sap is tainted; a mortal
sickness, slow as a consumption and as sure in its consequences, has
long since entered its frame, vitiating and destroying the wholesome
juices there.

Step a few paces aside and cast thine eye on that remnant of a mora
behind it. Best part of its branches, once so high and ornamental, now
lie on the ground in sad confusion, one upon the other, all shattered
and fungus-grown and a prey to millions of insects which are busily
employed in destroying them. One branch of it still looks healthy! Will
it recover? No, it cannot; Nature has already run her course, and that
healthy-looking branch is only as a fallacious good symptom in him who
is just about to die of a mortification when he feels no more pain, and
fancies his distemper has left him; it is as the momentary gleam of a
wintry sun's ray close to the western horizon. See! while we are
speaking a gust of wind has brought the tree to the ground and made
room for its successor.

Come farther on and examine that apparently luxuriant tauronira on thy
right hand. It boasts a verdure not its own; they are false ornaments
it wears. The bush-rope and bird-vines have clothed it from the root to
its topmost branch. The succession of fruit which it hath borne, like
good cheer in the houses of the great, has invited the birds to resort
to it, and they have disseminated beautiful, though destructive, plants
on its branches which, like the distempers vice brings into the human
frame, rob it of all its health and vigour. They have shortened its
days, and probably in another year they will finally kill it, long
before Nature intended that it should die.

Ere thou leavest this interesting scene, look on the ground around
thee, and see what everything here below must come to.

Behold that newly-fallen wallaba! The whirlwind has uprooted it in its
prime, and it has brought down to the ground a dozen small ones in its
fall. Its bark has already begun to drop off! And that heart of mora
close by it is fast yielding, in spite of its firm, tough texture.

The tree which thou passedst but a little ago, and which perhaps has
laid over yonder brook for years, can now hardly support itself, and in
a few months more it will have fallen into the water.

Put thy foot on that large trunk thou seest to the left. It seems
entire amid the surrounding fragments. Mere outward appearance,
delusive phantom of what it once was! Tread on it and, like the
fuss-ball, it will break into dust.

Sad and silent mementos to the giddy traveller as he wanders on!
Prostrate remnants of vegetable nature, how incontestably ye prove what
we must all at last come to, and how plain your mouldering ruins show
that the firmest texture avails us naught when Heaven wills that we
should cease to be!

  The cloud-capt towers, the gorgeous palaces,
  The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
  Yea, all which it inhabit, shall dissolve,
  And, like the baseless fabric of a vision,
  Leave not a wreck behind.

Cast thine eye around thee and see the thousands of Nature's
productions. Take a view of them from the opening seed on the surface
sending a downward shoot, to the loftiest and the largest trees rising
up and blooming in wild luxuriance: some side by side, others separate;
some curved and knotty, others straight as lances; all, in beautiful
gradation, fulfilling the mandates they had received from Heaven and,
though condemned to die, still never failing to keep up their species
till time shall be no more.

Reader, canst thou not be induced to dedicate a few months to the good
of the public, and examine with thy scientific eye the productions
which the vast and well-stored colony of Demerara presents to thee?

What an immense range of forest is there from the rock Saba to the
great fall! and what an uninterrupted extent before thee from it to the
banks of the Essequibo! No doubt there is many a balsam and many a
medicinal root yet to be discovered, and many a resin, gum and oil yet
unnoticed. Thy work would be a pleasing one, and thou mightest make
several useful observations in it.

Would it be thought impertinent in thee to hazard a conjecture that,
with the resources the Government of Demerara has, stones might be
conveyed from the rock Saba to Stabroek to stem the equinoctial tides
which are for ever sweeping away the expensive wooden piles round the
mounds of the fort? Or would the timber-merchant point at thee in
passing by and call thee a descendant of La Mancha's knight, because
thou maintainest that the stones which form the rapids might be removed
with little expense, and thus open the navigation to the wood-cutter
from Stabroek to the great fall? Or wouldst thou be deemed enthusiastic
or biassed because thou givest it as thy opinion that the climate in
these high-lands is exceedingly wholesome, and the lands themselves
capable of nourishing and maintaining any number of settlers? In thy
dissertation on the Indians thou mightest hint that possibly they could
be induced to help the new settlers a little; and that, finding their
labours well requited, it would be the means of their keeping up a
constant communication with us which probably might be the means of
laying the first stone towards their Christianity. They are a poor
harmless, inoffensive set of people, and their wandering and
ill-provided way of living seems more to ask for pity from us than to
fill our heads with thoughts that they would be hostile to us.

What a noble field, kind reader, for thy experimental philosophy and
speculations, for thy learning, for thy perseverance, for thy
kindheartedness, for everything that is great and good within thee!

The accidental traveller who has journeyed on from Stabroek to the rock
Saba, and from thence to the banks of the Essequibo, in pursuit of
other things, as he told thee at the beginning, with but an indifferent
interpreter to talk to, no friend to converse with, and totally unfit
for that which he wishes thee to do, can merely mark the outlines of
the path he has trodden, or tell thee the sounds he has heard, or
faintly describe what he has seen in the environs of his
resting-places; but if this be enough to induce thee to undertake the
journey, and give the world a description of it, he will be amply
satisfied.

It will be two days and a half from the time of entering the path on
the western bank of the Demerara till all be ready and the canoe fairly
afloat on the Essequibo. The new rigging it, and putting every little
thing to rights and in its proper place, cannot well be done in less
than a day.

After being night and day in the forest, impervious to the sun's and
moon's rays, the sudden transition to light has a fine heart-cheering
effect. Welcome as a lost friend, the solar beam makes the frame
rejoice, and with it a thousand enlivening thoughts rush at once on the
soul and disperse, as a vapour, every sad and sorrowful idea which the
deep gloom had helped to collect there. In coming out of the woods you
see the western bank of the Essequibo before you, low and flat. Here
the river is two-thirds as broad as the Demerara at Stabroek.

To the northward there is a hill higher than any in the Demerara; and
in the south-south-west quarter a mountain. It is far away, and appears
like a bluish cloud in the horizon. There is not the least opening on
either side. Hills, valleys and low-lands are all linked together by a
chain of forest. Ascend the highest mountain, climb the loftiest tree,
as far as the eye can extend, whichever way it directs itself, all is
luxuriant and unbroken forest.

In about nine or ten hours from this you get to an Indian habitation of
three huts, on the point of an island. It is said that a Dutch post
once stood here. But there is not the smallest vestige of it remaining
and, except that the trees appear younger than those on the other
islands, which shows that the place has been cleared some time or
other, there is no mark left by which you can conjecture that ever this
was a post.

The many islands which you meet with in the way enliven and change the
scene, by the avenues which they make, which look like the mouths of
other rivers, and break that long-extended sameness which is seen in
the Demerara.

Proceeding onwards you get to the falls and rapids. In the rainy season
they are very tedious to pass, and often stop your course. In the dry
season, by stepping from rock to rock, the Indians soon manage to get a
canoe over them. But when the river is swollen, as it was in May 1812,
it is then a difficult task, and often a dangerous one, too. At that
time many of the islands were over-flowed, the rocks covered and the
lower branches of the trees in the water. Sometimes the Indians were
obliged to take everything out of the canoe, cut a passage through the
branches which hung over into the river, and then drag up the canoe by
main force.

At one place the falls form an oblique line quite across the river
impassable to the ascending canoe, and you are forced to have it
dragged four or five hundred yards by land.

It will take you five days, from the Indian habitation on the point of
the island, to where these falls and rapids terminate.

There are no huts in the way. You must bring your own cassava bread
along with you, hunt in the forest for your meat and make the night's
shelter for yourself.

Here is a noble range of hills, all covered with the finest trees
rising majestically one above the other, on the western bank, and
presenting as rich a scene as ever the eye would wish to look on.
Nothing in vegetable nature can be conceived more charming, grand and
luxuriant.

How the heart rejoices in viewing this beautiful landscape when the sky
is serene, the air cool and the sun just sunk behind the mountain's top!

The hayawa-tree perfumes the woods around: pairs of scarlet aras are
continually crossing the river. The maam sends forth its plaintive
note, the wren chants its evening song. The caprimulgus wheels in busy
flight around the canoe, while "Whip-poor-will" sits on the broken
stump near the water's edge, complaining as the shades of night set in.

A little before you pass the last of these rapids two immense rocks
appear, nearly on the summit of one of the many hills which form this
far-extending range where it begins to fall off gradually to the south.

They look like two ancient stately towers of some Gothic potentate
rearing their heads above the surrounding trees. What with their
situation and their shape together, they strike the beholder with an
idea of antiquated grandeur which he will never forget. He may travel
far and near and see nothing like them. On looking at them through a
glass the summit of the southern one appeared crowned with bushes. The
one to the north was quite bare. The Indians have it from their
ancestors that they are the abode of an evil genius, and they pass in
the river below with a reverential awe.

In about seven hours from these stupendous sons of the hill you leave
the Essequibo and enter the River Apoura-poura, which falls into it
from the south. The Apoura-poura is nearly one-third the size of the
Demerara at Stabroek. For two days you see nothing but level ground
richly clothed in timber. You leave the Siparouni to the right hand,
and on the third day come to a little hill. The Indians have cleared
about an acre of ground on it and erected a temporary shed. If it be
not intended for provision-ground alone, perhaps the next white man who
travels through these remote wilds will find an Indian settlement here.

Two days after leaving this you get to a rising ground on the western
bank where stands a single hut, and about half a mile in the forest
there are a few more: some of them square and some round, with spiral
roofs.

Here the fish called pacou is very plentiful: it is perhaps the fattest
and most delicious fish in Guiana. It does not take the hook, but the
Indians decoy it to the surface of the water by means of the seeds of
the crab-wood tree and then shoot it with an arrow.

You are now within the borders of Macoushia, inhabited by a different
tribe of people called Macoushi Indians, uncommonly dexterous in the
use of the blow-pipe and famous for their skill in preparing the deadly
vegetable-poison commonly called wourali.

It is from this country that those beautiful paroquets named
kessi-kessi are procured. Here the crystal mountains are found; and
here the three different species of the ara are seen in great
abundance. Here too grows the tree from which the gum-elastic is got:
it is large and as tall as any in the forest. The wood has much the
appearance of sycamore. The gum is contained in the bark: when that is
cut through it oozes out very freely; it is quite white and looks as
rich as cream; it hardens almost immediately as it issues from the
tree, so that it is very easy to collect a ball by forming the juice
into a globular shape as fast as it comes out. It becomes nearly black
by being exposed to the air, and is real india-rubber without
undergoing any other process.

The elegant crested bird called cock-of-the-rock, admirably described
by Buffon, is a native of the woody mountains of Macoushia. In the
daytime it retires amongst the darkest rocks, and only comes out to
feed a little before sunrise and at sunset: he is of a gloomy
disposition and, like the houtou, never associates with the other birds
of the forest.

The Indians in the just-mentioned settlement seemed to depend more on
the wourali poison for killing their game than upon anything else. They
had only one gun, and it appeared rusty and neglected, but their
poisoned weapons were in fine order. Their blow-pipes hung from the
roof of the hut, carefully suspended by a silk-grass cord, and on
taking a nearer view of them no dust seemed to have collected there,
nor had the spider spun the smallest web on them, which showed that
they were in constant use. The quivers were close by them, with the
jaw-bone of the fish pirai tied by a string to their brim and a small
wicker-basket of wild cotton, which hung down to the centre; they were
nearly full of poisoned arrows. It was with difficulty these Indians
could be persuaded to part with any of the wourali poison, though a
good price was offered for it: they gave to understand that it was
powder and shot to them, and very difficult to be procured.

On the second day after leaving this settlement, in passing along, the
Indians show you a place where once a white man lived. His retiring so
far from those of his own colour and acquaintance seemed to carry
something extraordinary along with it, and raised a desire to know what
could have induced him to do so. It seems he had been unsuccessful, and
that his creditors had treated him with as little mercy as the strong
generally show to the weak. Seeing his endeavours daily frustrated and
his best intentions of no avail, and fearing that when they had taken
all he had they would probably take his liberty too, he thought the
world would not be hardhearted enough to condemn him for retiring from
the evils which pressed so heavily on him, and which he had done all
that an honest man could do to ward off. He left his creditors to talk
of him as they thought fit, and, bidding adieu for ever to the place in
which he had once seen better times, he penetrated thus far into these
remote and gloomy wilds and ended his days here.

According to the new map of South America, Lake Parima, or the White
Sea, ought to be within three or four days' walk from this place. On
asking the Indians whether there was such a place or not, and
describing that the water was fresh and good to drink, an old Indian,
who appeared to be about sixty, said that there was such a place, and
that he had been there. This information would have been satisfactory
in some degree had not the Indians carried the point a little too far.
It is very large, said another Indian, and ships come to it. Now these
unfortunate ships were the very things which were not wanted: had he
kept them out, it might have done, but his introducing them was sadly
against the lake. Thus you must either suppose that the old savage and
his companion had a confused idea of the thing, and that probably the
Lake Parima they talked of was the Amazons, not far from the city of
Para, or that it was their intention to deceive you. You ought to be
cautious in giving credit to their stories, otherwise you will be apt
to be led astray.

Many a ridiculous thing concerning the interior of Guiana has been
propagated and received as true merely because six or seven Indians,
questioned separately, have agreed in their narrative.

Ask those who live high up in the Demerara, and they will, every one of
them, tell you that there is a nation of Indians with long tails; that
they are very malicious, cruel and ill-natured; and that the Portuguese
have been obliged to stop them off in a certain river to prevent their
depredations. They have also dreadful stories concerning a horrible
beast called the water-mamma which, when it happens to take a spite
against a canoe, rises out of the river and in the most unrelenting
manner possible carries both canoe and Indians down to the bottom with
it, and there destroys them. Ludicrous extravagances! pleasing to those
fond of the marvellous, and excellent matter for a distempered brain.

The misinformed and timid court of policy in Demerara was made the dupe
of a savage who came down the Essequibo and gave himself out as king of
a mighty tribe. This naked wild man of the woods seemed to hold the
said court in tolerable contempt, and demanded immense supplies, all
which he got; and moreover, some time after, an invitation to come down
the ensuing year for more, which he took care not to forget.

This noisy chieftain boasted so much of his dynasty and domain that the
Government was induced to send up an expedition into his territories to
see if he had spoken the truth, and nothing but the truth. It appeared,
however, that his palace was nothing but a hut, the monarch a needy
savage, the heir-apparent nothing to inherit but his father's club and
bow and arrows, and his officers of state wild and uncultivated as the
forests through which they strayed.

There was nothing in the hut of this savage, saving the presents he had
received from Government, but what was barely sufficient to support
existence; nothing that indicated a power to collect a hostile force;
nothing that showed the least progress towards civilisation. All was
rude and barbarous in the extreme, expressive of the utmost poverty and
a scanty population.

You may travel six or seven days without seeing a hut, and when you
reach a settlement it seldom contains more than ten.

The farther you advance into the interior, the more you are convinced
that it is thinly inhabited.

The day after passing the place where the white man lived you see a
creek on the left-hand, and shortly after the path to the open country.
Here you drag the canoe up into the forest, and leave it there. Your
baggage must now be carried by the Indians. The creek you passed in the
river intersects the path to the next settlement; a large mora has
fallen across it and makes an excellent bridge. After walking an hour
and a half you come to the edge of the forest, and a savanna unfolds
itself to the view.

The finest park that England boasts falls far short of this delightful
scene. There are about two thousand acres of grass, with here and there
a clump of trees and a few bushes and single trees scattered up and
down by the hand of Nature. The ground is neither hilly nor level, but
diversified with moderate rises and falls, so gently running into one
another that the eye cannot distinguish where they begin nor where they
end; while the distant black rocks have the appearance of a herd at
rest. Nearly in the middle there is an eminence which falls off
gradually on every side, and on this the Indians have erected their
huts.

To the northward of them the forest forms a circle, as though it had
been done by art; to the eastward it hangs in festoons; and to the
south and west it rushes in abruptly, disclosing a new scene behind it
at every step as you advance along.

This beautiful park of Nature is quite surrounded by lofty hills, all
arrayed in superbest garb of trees: some in the form of pyramids,
others like sugar-loaves, towering one above the other, some rounded
off, and others as though they had lost their apex. Here two hills rise
up in spiral summits, and the wooded line of communication betwixt them
sinks so gradually that it forms a crescent; and there the ridges of
others resemble the waves of an agitated sea. Beyond these appear
others, and others past them, and others still farther on, till they
can scarcely be distinguished from the clouds.

There are no sand-flies nor bête-rouge nor mosquitos in this pretty
spot. The fire-flies, during the night, vie in numbers and brightness
with the stars in the firmament above; the air is pure, and the
north-east breeze blows a refreshing gale throughout the day. Here the
white-crested maroudi, which is never found in the Demerara, is pretty
plentiful; and here grows the tree which produces the moran, sometimes
called balsam-capivi.

Your route lies south from this place; and at the extremity of the
savanna you enter the forest and journey along a winding path at the
foot of a hill. There is no habitation within this day's walk. The
traveller, as usual, must sleep in the forest; the path is not so good
the following day. The hills over which it lies are rocky, steep and
rugged; and the spaces betwixt them swampy and mostly knee-deep in
water. After eight hours' walk you find two or three Indian huts,
surrounded by the forest; and in little more than half an hour from
these you come to ten or twelve others, where you pass the night. They
are prettily situated at the entrance into a savanna. The eastern and
western hills are still covered with wood; but on looking to the
south-west quarter you perceive it begins to die away. In these forests
you may find plenty of the trees which yield the sweet-smelling resin
called accaiari, and which, when pounded and burnt on charcoal, gives a
delightful fragrance.

From hence you proceed, in a south-west direction, through a long
swampy savanna. Some of the hills which border on it have nothing but a
thin coarse grass and huge stones on them: others quite wooded; others
with their summits crowned and their base quite bare; and others again
with their summits bare and their base in thickest wood.

Half of this day's march is in water nearly up to the knees. There are
four creeks to pass: one of them has a fallen tree across it. You must
make your own bridge across the other three. Probably, were the truth
known, these apparently four creeks are only the meanders of one.

The jabiru, the largest bird in Guiana, feeds in the marshy savanna
through which you have just passed. He is wary and shy, and will not
allow you to get within gunshot of him.

You sleep this night in the forest, and reach an Indian settlement
about three o'clock the next evening, after walking one-third of the
way through wet and miry ground.

But bad as the walking is through it, it is easier than where you cross
over the bare hills, where you have to tread on sharp stones, most of
them lying edgewise.

The ground gone over these two last days seems condemned to perpetual
solitude and silence. There was not one four-footed animal to be seen,
nor even the marks of one. It would have been as silent as midnight,
and all as still and unmoved as a monument, had not the jabiru in the
marsh and a few vultures soaring over the mountain's top shown that it
was not quite deserted by animated nature. There were no insects,
except one kind of fly about one-fourth the size of the common
house-fly. It bit cruelly, and was much more tormenting than the
mosquito on the sea-coast.

This seems to be the native country of the arrowroot. Wherever you
passed through a patch of wood in a low situation, there you found it
growing luxuriantly.

The Indian place you are now at is not the proper place to have come to
in order to reach the Portuguese frontiers. You have advanced too much
to the westward. But there was no alternative. The ground betwixt you
and another small settlement (which was the right place to have gone
to) was overflowed; and thus, instead of proceeding southward, you were
obliged to wind along the foot of the western hills, quite out of your
way.

But the grand landscape this place affords makes you ample amends for
the time you have spent in reaching it. It would require great
descriptive powers to give a proper idea of the situation these people
have chosen for their dwelling.

The hill they are on is steep and high, and full of immense rocks. The
huts are not all in one place, but dispersed wherever they have found a
place level enough for a lodgment. Before you ascend the hill you see
at intervals an acre or two of wood, then an open space with a few huts
on it; then wood again, and then an open space, and so on, till the
intervening of the western hills, higher and steeper still, and crowded
with trees of the loveliest shades, closes the enchanting scene.

At the base of this hill stretches an immense plain which appears to
the eye, on this elevated spot, as level as a bowling-green. The
mountains on the other side are piled one upon the other in romantic
forms, and gradually retire, till they are undiscernible from the
clouds in which they are involved. To the south-southwest this
far-extending plain is lost in the horizon. The trees on it, which look
like islands on the ocean, add greatly to the beauty of the landscape,
while the rivulet's course is marked out by the æta-trees which follow
its meanders.

Not being able to pursue the direct course from hence to the next
Indian habitation, on account of the floods of water which fall at this
time of the year, you take a circuit westerly along the mountain's foot.

At last a large and deep creek stops your progress: it is wide and
rapid, and its banks very steep. There is neither curial nor canoe nor
purple-heart tree in the neighbourhood to make a wood-skin to carry you
over, so that you are obliged to swim across; and by the time you have
formed a kind of raft composed of boughs of trees and coarse grass to
ferry over your baggage, the day will be too far spent to think of
proceeding. You must be very cautious before you venture to swim across
this creek, for the alligators are numerous and near twenty feet long.
On the present occasion the Indians took uncommon precautions lest they
should be devoured by this cruel and voracious reptile. They cut long
sticks and examined closely the side of the creek for half a mile above
and below the place where it was to be crossed; and as soon as the
boldest had swum over he did the same on the other side, and then all
followed.

After passing the night on the opposite bank, which is well wooded, it
is a brisk walk of nine hours before you reach four Indian huts, on a
rising ground, a few hundred paces from a little brook whose banks are
covered over with coucourite- and æta-trees.

This is the place you ought to have come to two days ago, had the water
permitted you. In crossing the plain at the most advantageous place you
are above ankle-deep in water for three hours; the remainder of the way
is dry, the ground gently rising. As the lower parts of this spacious
plain put on somewhat the appearance of a lake during the periodical
rains, it is not improbable but that this is the place which hath given
rise to the supposed existence of the famed Lake Parima, or El Dorado;
but this is mere conjecture.

A few deer are feeding on the coarse, rough grass of this far-extending
plain; they keep at a distance from you, and are continually on the
look-out.

The spur-winged plover and a species of the curlew, black with a white
bar across the wings, nearly as large again as the scarlet curlew on
the sea-coast, frequently rise before you. Here too the muscovy duck is
numerous, and large flocks of two other kinds wheel round you as you
pass on, but keep out of gunshot. The milk-white egrets and jabirus are
distinguished at a great distance, and in the æta- and coucourite-trees
you may observe flocks of scarlet and blue aras feeding on the seeds.

It is to these trees that the largest sort of toucan resorts. He is
remarkable by a large black spot on the point of his fine yellow bill.
He is very scarce in Demerara, and never seen except near the sea-coast.

The ants' nests have a singular appearance on this plain; they are in
vast abundance on those parts of it free from water, and are formed of
an exceeding hard yellow clay. They rise eight or ten feet from the
ground, in a spiral form, impenetrable to the rain and strong enough to
defy the severest tornado.

The wourali poison procured in these last-mentioned huts seemed very
good, and proved afterwards to be very strong.

There are now no more Indian settlements betwixt you and the Portuguese
frontiers. If you wish to visit their fort, it would be advisable to
send an Indian with a letter from hence and wait his return. On the
present occasion a very fortunate circumstance occurred. The Portuguese
commander had sent some Indians and soldiers to build a canoe not far
from this settlement; they had just finished it, and those who did not
stay with it had stopped here on their return.

The soldier who commanded the rest said he durst not, upon any account,
convey a stranger to the fort: but he added, as there were two canoes,
one of them might be despatched with a letter, and then we could
proceed slowly on in the other.

About three hours from this settlement there is a river called
Pirarara, and here the soldiers had left their canoes while they were
making the new one. From the Pirarara you get into the River Maou, and
then into the Tacatou; and just where the Tacatou falls into the Rio
Branco there stands the Portuguese frontier-fort called Fort St.
Joachim. From the time of embarking in the River Pirarara it takes you
four days before you reach this fort.

There was nothing very remarkable in passing down these rivers. It is
an open country, producing a coarse grass and interspersed with clumps
of trees. The banks have some wood on them, but it appears stinted and
crooked, like that on the bleak hills in England.

The tapir frequently plunged into the river; he was by no means shy,
and it was easy to get a shot at him on land. The kessi-kessi paroquets
were in great abundance, and the fine scarlet aras innumerable in the
coucourite-trees at a distance from the river's bank. In the Tacatou
was seen the troupiale. It was charming to hear the sweet and plaintive
notes of this pretty songster of the wilds. The Portuguese call it the
nightingale of Guiana.

Towards the close of the fourth evening the canoe which had been sent
on with a letter met us with the commander's answer. During its absence
the nights had been cold and stormy, the rain had fallen in torrents,
the days cloudy, and there was no sun to dry the wet hammocks. Exposed
thus, day and night, to the chilling blast and pelting shower, strength
of constitution at last failed and a severe fever came on. The
commander's answer was very polite. He remarked, he regretted much to
say that he had received orders to allow no stranger to enter the
frontier, and this being the case he hoped I would not consider him as
uncivil: "however," continued he, "I have ordered the soldier to land
you at a certain distance from the fort, where we can consult together."

We had now arrived at the place, and the canoe which brought the letter
returned to the fort to tell the commander I had fallen sick.

The sun had not risen above an hour the morning after when the
Portuguese officer came to the spot where we had landed the preceding
evening. He was tall and spare, and appeared to be from fifty to
fifty-five years old; and though thirty years of service under an
equatorial sun had burnt and shrivelled up his face, still there was
something in it so inexpressibly affable and kind that it set you
immediately at your ease. He came close up to the hammock, and taking
hold of my wrist to feel the pulse, "I am sorry, Sir," said he, "to see
that the fever has taken such hold of you. You shall go directly with
me," continued he, "to the fort; and though we have no doctor there, I
trust," added he, "we shall soon bring you about again. The orders I
have received forbidding the admission of strangers were never intended
to be put in force against a sick English gentleman."

As the canoe was proceeding slowly down the river towards the fort, the
commander asked with much more interest than a question in ordinary
conversation is asked, where was I on the night of the first of May? On
telling him that I was at an Indian settlement a little below the great
fall in the Demerara, and that a strange and sudden noise had alarmed
all the Indians, he said the same astonishing noise had roused every
man in Fort St. Joachim, and that they remained under arms till
morning. He observed that he had been quite at a loss to form any idea
what could have caused the noise; but now learning that the same noise
had been heard at the same time far away from the Rio Branco, it struck
him there must have been an earthquake somewhere or other.

Good nourishment and rest, and the unwearied attention and kindness of
the Portuguese commander, stopped the progress of the fever and enabled
me to walk about in six days.

Fort St. Joachim was built about five and forty years ago under the
apprehension, it is said, that the Spaniards were coming from the Rio
Negro to settle there. It has been much neglected; the floods of water
have carried away the gate and destroyed the wall on each side of it,
but the present commander is putting it into thorough repair. When
finished it will mount six nine- and six twelve-pounders.

In a straight line with the fort, and within a few yards of the river,
stand the commander's house, the barracks, the chapel, the
father-confessor's house and two others, all at little intervals from
each other; and these are the only buildings at Fort St. Joachim. The
neighbouring extensive plains afford good pasturage for a fine breed of
cattle, and the Portuguese make enough of butter and cheese for their
own consumption.

On asking the old officer if there were such a place as Lake Parima, or
El Dorado, he replied he looked upon it as imaginary altogether. "I
have been above forty years," added he, "in Portuguese Guiana, but have
never yet met with anybody who has seen the lake."

So much for Lake Parima, or El Dorado, or the White Sea. Its existence
at best seems doubtful: some affirm that there is such a place and
others deny it.

  Grammatici certant, et adhuc sub judice lis est.

Having now reached the Portuguese inland frontier and collected a
sufficient quantity of the wourali poison, nothing remains but to give
a brief account of its composition, its effects, its uses and its
supposed antidotes.

It has been already remarked that in the extensive wilds of Demerara
and Essequibo, far away from any European settlement, there is a tribe
of Indians who are known by the name of Macoushi.

Though the wourali poison is used by all the South American savages
betwixt the Amazons and the Oroonoque, still this tribe makes it
stronger than any of the rest. The Indians in the vicinity of the Rio
Negro are aware of this, and come to the Macoushi country to purchase
it.

Much has been said concerning this fatal and extraordinary poison. Some
have affirmed that its effects are almost instantaneous, provided the
minutest particle of it mixes with the blood; and others again have
maintained that it is not strong enough to kill an animal of the size
and strength of a man. The first have erred by lending a too willing
ear to the marvellous and believing assertions without sufficient
proof. The following short story points out the necessity of a cautious
examination.

One day, on asking an Indian if he thought the poison would kill a man,
he replied that they always go to battle with it; that he was standing
by when an Indian was shot with a poisoned arrow, and that he expired
almost immediately. Not wishing to dispute this apparently satisfactory
information the subject was dropped.

However, about an hour after, having purposely asked him in what part
of the body the said Indian was wounded, he answered without hesitation
that the arrow entered betwixt his shoulders and passed quite through
his heart. Was it the weapon or the strength of the poison that brought
on immediate dissolution in this case? Of course the weapon.

The second have been misled by disappointment caused by neglect in
keeping the poisoned arrows, or by not knowing how to use them, or by
trying inferior poison. If the arrows are not kept dry the poison loses
its strength, and in wet or damp weather it turns mouldy and becomes
quite soft. In shooting an arrow in this state, upon examining the
place where it has entered, it will be observed that, though the arrow
has penetrated deep into the flesh, still by far the greatest part of
the poison has shrunk back, and thus, instead of entering with the
arrow, it has remained collected at the mouth of the wound. In this
case the arrow might as well have not been poisoned. Probably it was to
this that a gentleman, some time ago, owed his disappointment when he
tried the poison on a horse in the town of Stabroek, the capital of
Demerara; the horse never betrayed the least symptom of being affected
by it.

Wishful to obtain the best information concerning this poison, and as
repeated inquiries, in lieu of dissipating the surrounding shade, did
but tend more and more to darken the little light that existed, I
determined to penetrate into the country where the poisonous
ingredients grow, where this pernicious composition is prepared and
where it is constantly used. Success attended the adventure, and the
information acquired made amends for one hundred and twenty days passed
in the solitudes of Guiana, and afforded a balm to the wounds and
bruises which every traveller must expect to receive who wanders
through a thorny and obstructed path.

Thou must not, courteous reader, expect a dissertation on the manner in
which the wourali poison operates on the system: a treatise has been
already written on the subject, and, after all, there is probably still
reason to doubt. It is supposed to affect the nervous system, and thus
destroy the vital functions; it is also said to be perfectly harmless
provided it does not touch the blood. However, this is certain: when a
sufficient quantity of it enters the blood, death is the inevitable
consequence; but there is no alteration in the colour of the blood, and
both the blood and flesh may be eaten with safety.

All that thou wilt find here is a concise, unadorned account of the
wourali poison. It may be of service to thee some time or other
shouldst thou ever travel through the wilds where it is used. Neither
attribute to cruelty, nor to a want of feeling for the sufferings of
the inferior animals, the ensuing experiments. The larger animals were
destroyed in order to have proof positive of the strength of a poison
which hath hitherto been doubted, and the smaller ones were killed with
the hope of substantiating that which has commonly been supposed to be
an antidote.

It makes a pitying heart ache to see a poor creature in distress and
pain; and too often has the compassionate traveller occasion to heave a
sigh as he journeys on. However, here, though the kind-hearted will be
sorry to read of an unoffending animal doomed to death in order to
satisfy a doubt, still it will be a relief to know that the victim was
not tortured. The wourali poison destroys life's action so gently that
the victim appears to be in no pain whatever; and probably, were the
truth known, it feels none, saving the momentary smart at the time the
arrow enters.

A day or two before the Macoushi Indian prepares his poison he goes
into the forest in quest of the ingredients. A vine grows in these
wilds which is called wourali. It is from this that the poison takes
its name, and it is the principal ingredient. When he has procured
enough of this he digs up a root of a very bitter taste, ties them
together, and then looks about for two kinds of bulbous plants which
contain a green and glutinous juice. He fills a little quake which he
carries on his back with the stalks of these; and lastly ranges up and
down till he finds two species of ants. One of them is very large and
black, and so venomous that its sting produces a fever: it is most
commonly to be met with on the ground. The other is a little red ant
which stings like a nettle, and generally has its nest under the leaf
of a shrub. After obtaining these he has no more need to range the
forest.

A quantity of the strongest Indian pepper is used, but this he has
already planted round his hut. The pounded fangs of the labarri snake
and those of the counacouchi are likewise added. These he commonly has
in store, for when he kills a snake he generally extracts the fangs and
keeps them by him.

Having thus found the necessary ingredients, he scrapes the wourali
vine and bitter root into thin shavings and puts them into a kind of
colander made of leaves. This he holds over an earthen pot, and pours
water on the shavings: the liquor which comes through has the
appearance of coffee. When a sufficient quantity has been procured the
shavings are thrown aside. He then bruises the bulbous stalks and
squeezes a proportionate quantity of their juice through his hands into
the pot. Lastly the snakes' fangs, ants and pepper are bruised and
thrown into it. It is then placed on a slow fire, and as it boils more
of the juice of the wourali is added, according as it may be found
necessary, and the scum is taken off with a leaf: it remains on the
fire till reduced to a thick syrup of a deep brown colour. As soon as
it has arrived at this state a few arrows are poisoned with it, to try
its strength. If it answer the expectations it is poured out into a
calabash, or little pot of Indian manufacture, which is carefully
covered with a couple of leaves, and over them a piece of deer's skin
tied round with a cord. They keep it in the most dry part of the hut,
and from time to time suspend it over the fire to counteract the
effects of dampness.

The act of preparing this poison is not considered as a common one: the
savage may shape his bow, fasten the barb on the point of his arrow and
make his other implements of destruction either lying in his hammock or
in the midst of his family; but if he has to prepare the wourali
poison, many precautions are supposed to be necessary.

The women and young girls are not allowed to be present, lest the
Yabahou, or evil spirit, should do them harm. The shed under which it
has been boiled is pronounced polluted, and abandoned ever after. He
who makes the poison must eat nothing that morning, and must continue
fasting as long as the operation lasts. The pot in which it is boiled
must be a new one, and must never have held anything before, otherwise
the poison would be deficient in strength: add to this that the
operator must take particular care not to expose himself to the vapour
which arises from it while on the fire.

Though this and other precautions are taken, such as frequently washing
the face and hands, still the Indians think that it affects the health;
and the operator either is, or, what is more probable, supposes himself
to be, sick for some days after.

Thus it appears that the making the wourali poison is considered as a
gloomy and mysterious operation; and it would seem that they imagine it
affects others as well as him who boils it, for an Indian agreed one
evening to make some for me, but the next morning he declined having
anything to do with it, alleging that his wife was with child!

Here it might be asked, are all the ingredients just mentioned
necessary in order to produce the wourali poison? Though our opinions
and conjectures may militate against the absolute necessity of some of
them, still it would be hardly fair to pronounce them added by the hand
of superstition till proof positive can be obtained.

We might argue on the subject, and by bringing forward instances of
Indian superstition draw our conclusion by inference, and still remain
in doubt on this head. You know superstition to be the offspring of
ignorance, and of course that it takes up its abode amongst the rudest
tribes of uncivilised man. It even too often resides with man in his
more enlightened state.

The Augustan age furnishes numerous examples. A bone snatched from the
jaws of a fasting bitch, and a feather from the wing of a
night-owl--"ossa ab ore rapta jejunæ canis, plumamque nocturnæ
strigis"--were necessary for Canidia's incantations. And in after-times
Parson Evans, the Welshman, was treated most ungenteelly by an enraged
spirit solely because he had forgotten a fumigation in his witch-work.

If, then, enlightened man lets his better sense give way, and believes,
or allows himself to be persuaded, that certain substances and actions,
in reality of no avail, possess a virtue which renders them useful in
producing the wished-for effect, may not the wild, untaught,
unenlightened savage of Guiana add an ingredient which, on account of
the harm it does him, he fancies may be useful to the perfection of his
poison, though in fact it be of no use at all? If a bone snatched from
the jaws of a fasting bitch be thought necessary in incantation; or if
witchcraft have recourse to the raiment of the owl because it resorts
to the tombs and mausoleums of the dead and wails and hovers about at
the time that the rest of animated nature sleeps; certainly the savage
may imagine that the ants, whose sting causes a fever, and the teeth of
the labarri and counacouchi snakes, which convey death in a very short
space of time, are essentially necessary in the composition of his
poison; and being once impressed with this idea, he will add them every
time he makes the poison and transmit the absolute use of them to his
posterity. The question to be answered seems not to be if it is natural
for the Indians to mix these ingredients, but if they are essential to
make the poison.

So much for the preparing of this vegetable essence: terrible importer
of death, into whatever animal it enters. Let us now see how it is
used; let us examine the weapons which bear it to its destination, and
take a view of the poor victim from the time he receives his wound till
death comes to his relief.

When a native of Macoushia goes in quest of feathered game or other
birds he seldom carries his bow and arrows. It is the blow-pipe he then
uses. This extraordinary tube of death is, perhaps, one of the greatest
natural curiosities of Guiana. It is not found in the country of the
Macoushi. Those Indians tell you that it grows to the south-west of
them, in the wilds which extend betwixt them and the Rio Negro. The
reed must grow to an amazing length, as the part the Indians use is
from ten to eleven feet long, and no tapering can be perceived in it,
one end being as thick as the other. It is of a bright yellow colour,
perfectly smooth both inside and out. It grows hollow, nor is there the
least appearance of a knot or joint throughout the whole extent. The
natives call it ourah. This of itself is too slender to answer the end
of a blow-pipe, but there is a species of palma, larger and stronger,
and common in Guiana, and this the Indians make use of as a case in
which they put the ourah. It is brown, susceptible of a fine polish,
and appears as if it had joints five or six inches from each other. It
is called samourah, and the pulp inside is easily extracted by steeping
it for a few days in water.

Thus the ourah and samourah, one within the other, form the blow-pipe
of Guiana. The end which is applied to the mouth is tied round with a
small silk-grass cord to prevent its splitting, and the other end,
which is apt to strike against the ground, is secured by the seed of
the acuero fruit cut horizontally through the middle, with a hole made
in the end through which is put the extremity of the blow-pipe. It is
fastened on with string on the outside, and the inside is filled up
with wild-bees' wax.

The arrow is from nine to ten inches long. It is made out of the leaf
of a species of palm-tree called coucourite, hard and brittle, and
pointed as sharp as a needle. About an inch of the pointed end is
poisoned. The other end is burnt to make it still harder, and wild
cotton is put round it for about an inch and a half. It requires
considerable practice to put on this cotton well. It must just be large
enough to fit the hollow of the tube and taper off to nothing
downwards. They tie it on with a thread of the silk-grass to prevent
its slipping off the arrow.

The Indians have shown ingenuity in making a quiver to hold the arrows.
It will contain from five to six hundred. It is generally from twelve
to fourteen inches long, and in shape resembles a dice-box used at
backgammon. The inside is prettily done in basket-work with wood not
unlike bamboo, and the outside has a coat of wax. The cover is all of
one piece formed out of the skin of the tapir. Round the centre there
is fastened a loop large enough to admit the arm and shoulder, from
which it hangs when used. To the rim is tied a little bunch of
silk-grass and half of the jaw-bone of the fish called pirai, with
which the Indian scrapes the point of his arrow.

Before he puts the arrows into the quiver he links them together by two
strings of cotton, one string at each end, and then folds them round a
stick which is nearly the length of the quiver. The end of the stick,
which is uppermost, is guarded by two little pieces of wood crosswise,
with a hoop round their extremities, which appears something like a
wheel, and this saves the hand from being wounded when the quiver is
reversed in order to let the bunch of arrows drop out.

There is also attached to the quiver a little kind of basket to hold
the wild cotton which is put on the blunt end of the arrow. With a
quiver of poisoned arrows slung over his shoulder, and with his
blow-pipe in his hand, in the same position as a soldier carries his
musket, see the Macoushi Indian advancing towards the forest in quest
of powises, maroudis, waracabas and other feathered game.

These generally sit high up in the tall and tufted trees, but still are
not out of the Indian's reach, for his blow-pipe, at its greatest
elevation, will send an arrow three hundred feet. Silent as midnight he
steals under them, and so cautiously does he tread the ground that the
fallen leaves rustle not beneath his feet. His ears are open to the
least sound, while his eye, keen as that of the lynx, is employed in
finding out the game in the thickest shade. Often he imitates their
cry, and decoys them from tree to tree, till they are within range of
his tube. Then taking a poisoned arrow from his quiver, he puts it in
the blow-pipe and collects his breath for the fatal puff.

About two feet from the end through which he blows there are fastened
two teeth of the acouri, and these serve him for a sight. Silent and
swift the arrow flies, and seldom fails to pierce the object at which
it is sent. Sometimes the wounded bird remains in the same tree where
it was shot, and in three minutes falls down at the Indian's feet.
Should he take wing his flight is of short duration, and the Indian,
following the direction he has gone, is sure to find him dead.

It is natural to imagine that when a slight wound only is inflicted the
game will make its escape. Far otherwise; the wourali poison almost
instantaneously mixes with blood or water, so that if you wet your
finger and dash it along the poisoned arrow in the quickest manner
possible you are sure to carry off some of the poison. Though three
minutes generally elapse before the convulsions come on in the wounded
bird, still a stupor evidently takes place sooner, and this stupor
manifests itself by an apparent unwillingness in the bird to move. This
was very visible in a dying fowl.

Having procured a healthy full-grown one, a short piece of a poisoned
blow-pipe arrow was broken off and run up into its thigh, as near as
possible betwixt the skin and the flesh, in order that it might not be
incommoded by the wound. For the first minute it walked about, but
walked very slowly, and did not appear the least agitated. During the
second minute it stood still, and began to peck the ground; and ere
half another had elapsed it frequently opened and shut its mouth. The
tail had now dropped and the wings almost touched the ground. By the
termination of the third minute it had sat down, scarce able to support
its head, which nodded, and then recovered itself, and then nodded
again, lower and lower every time, like that of a weary traveller
slumbering in an erect position; the eyes alternately open and shut.
The fourth minute brought on convulsions, and life and the fifth
terminated together.

The flesh of the game is not in the least injured by the poison, nor
does it appear to corrupt sooner than that killed by the gun or knife.
The body of this fowl was kept for sixteen hours in a climate damp and
rainy, and within seven degrees of the equator, at the end of which
time it had contracted no bad smell whatever and there were no symptoms
of putrefaction, saving that just round the wound the flesh appeared
somewhat discoloured.

The Indian, on his return home, carefully suspends his blow-pipe from
the top of his spiral roof, seldom placing it in an oblique position,
lest it should receive a cast.

Here let the blow-pipe remain suspended while you take a view of the
arms which are made to slay the larger beasts of the forest.

When the Indian intends to chase the peccari, or surprise the deer, or
rouse the tapir from his marshy retreat, he carries his bow and arrows,
which are very different from the weapons already described.

The bow is generally from six to seven feet long and strung with a cord
spun out of the silk-grass. The forests of Guiana furnish many species
of hard wood, tough and elastic, out of which beautiful and excellent
bows are formed.

The arrows are from four to five feet in length, made of a yellow reed
without a knot or joint. It is found in great plenty up and down
throughout Guiana. A piece of hard wood about nine inches long is
inserted into the end of the reed, and fastened with cotton well waxed.
A square hole an inch deep is then made in the end of this piece of
hard wood, done tight round with cotton to keep it from splitting. Into
this square hole is fitted a spike of coucourite-wood, poisoned, and
which may be kept there or taken out at pleasure. A joint of bamboo,
about as thick as your finger, is fitted on over the poisoned spike to
prevent accidents and defend it from the rain, and is taken off when
the arrow is about to be used. Lastly, two feathers are fastened the
other end of the reed to steady it in its flight.

Besides his bow and arrows, the Indian carries a little box made of
bamboo which holds a dozen or fifteen poisoned spikes six inches long.
They are poisoned in the following manner: a small piece of wood is
dipped in the poison, and with this they give the spike a first coat.
It is then exposed to the sun or fire. After it is dry it receives
another coat, and then dried again; after this a third coat, and
sometimes a fourth.

They take great care to put the poison on thicker at the middle than at
the sides, by which means the spike retains the shape of a two-edged
sword. It is rather a tedious operation to make one of these arrows
complete, and as the Indian is not famed for industry, except when
pressed by hunger, he has hit upon a plan of preserving his arrows
which deserves notice.

About a quarter of an inch above the part where the coucourite spike is
fixed into the square hole he cuts it half through, and thus, when it
has entered the animal, the weight of the arrow causes it to break off
there, by which means the arrow falls to the ground uninjured, so that,
should this be the only arrow he happens to have with him and should
another shot immediately occur, he has only to take another poisoned
spike out of his little bamboo box, fit it on its arrow, and send it to
its destination.

Thus armed with deadly poison, and hungry as the hyæna, he ranges
through the forest in quest of the wild-beasts' track. No hound can act
a surer part. Without clothes to fetter him or shoes to bind his feet,
he observes the footsteps of the game where an European eye could not
discern the smallest vestige. He pursues it through all its turns and
windings with astonishing perseverance, and success generally crowns
his efforts. The animal, after receiving the poisoned arrow, seldom
retreats two hundred paces before it drops.

In passing over-land from the Essequibo to the Demerara we fell in with
a herd of wild hogs. Though encumbered with baggage and fatigued with a
hard day's walk, an Indian got his bow ready and let fly a poisoned
arrow at one of them. It entered the cheek-bone and broke off. The wild
hog was found quite dead about one hundred and seventy paces from the
place where he had been shot. He afforded us an excellent and wholesome
supper.

Thus the savage of Guiana, independent of the common weapons of
destruction, has it in his power to prepare a poison by which he can
generally ensure to himself a supply of animal food: and the food so
destroyed imbibes no deleterious qualities. Nature has been bountiful
to him. She has not only ordered poisonous herbs and roots to grow in
the unbounded forests through which he strays, but has also furnished
an excellent reed for his arrows, and another still more singular for
his blow-pipe, and planted trees of an amazing hard, tough and elastic
texture out of which he forms his bows. And in order that nothing might
be wanting, she has superadded a tree which yields him a fine wax and
disseminated up and down a plant not unlike that of the pine-apple
which affords him capital bow-strings.

Having now followed the Indian in the chase and described the poison,
let us take a nearer view of its action and observe a large animal
expiring under the weight of its baneful virulence.

Many have doubted the strength of the wourali poison. Should they ever
by chance read what follows, probably their doubts on that score will
be settled for ever.

In the former experiment on the dog some faint resistance on the part
of Nature was observed, as if existence struggled for superiority, but
in the following instance of the sloth life sunk in death without the
least apparent contention, without a cry, without a struggle and
without a groan. This was an ai, or three-toed sloth. It was in the
possession of a gentleman who was collecting curiosities. He wished to
have it killed in order to preserve the skin, and the wourali poison
was resorted to as the easiest death.

Of all animals, not even the toad and tortoise excepted, this poor
ill-formed creature is the most tenacious of life. It exists long after
it has received wounds which would have destroyed any other animal, and
it may be said, on seeing a mortally-wounded sloth, that life disputes
with death every inch of flesh in its body.

The ai was wounded in the leg, and put down on the floor about two feet
from the table; it contrived to reach the leg of the table, and
fastened itself on it, as if wishful to ascend. But this was its last
advancing step: life was ebbing fast though imperceptibly, nor could
this singular production of Nature, which has been formed of a texture
to resist death in a thousand shapes, make any stand against the
wourali poison.

First one fore-leg let go its hold, and dropped down motionless by its
side; the other gradually did the same. The fore-legs having now lost
their strength, the sloth slowly doubled its body and placed its head
betwixt its hind-legs, which still adhered to the table; but when the
poison had affected these also it sunk to the ground, but sunk so
gently that you could not distinguish the movement from an ordinary
motion, and had you been ignorant that it was wounded with a poisoned
arrow you would never have suspected that it was dying. Its mouth was
shut, nor had any froth or saliva collected there.

There was no _subsultus tendinum_ or any visible alteration in its
breathing. During the tenth minute from the time it was wounded it
stirred, and that was all; and the minute after life's last spark went
out. From the time the poison began to operate you would have
conjectured that sleep was overpowering it, and you would have
exclaimed: "Pressitque jacentem, dulcis et alta quies, placidæque
simillima morti."

There are now two positive proofs of the effect of this fatal poison:
viz. the death of the dog and that of the sloth. But still these
animals were nothing remarkable for size, and the strength of the
poison in large animals might yet be doubted were it not for what
follows.

A large well-fed ox, from nine hundred to a thousand pounds weight, was
tied to a stake by a rope sufficiently strong to allow him to move to
and fro. Having no large coucourite spikes at hand, it was judged
necessary, on account of his superior size, to put three wild-hog
arrows into him: one was sent into each thigh just above the hock in
order to avoid wounding a vital part, and the third was shot traversely
into the extremity of the nostril.

The poison seemed to take effect in four minutes. Conscious as though
he would fall, the ox set himself firmly on his legs and remained quite
still in the same place till about the fourteenth minute, when he
smelled the ground and appeared as if inclined to walk. He advanced a
pace or two, staggered and fell, and remained extended on his side,
with his head on the ground. His eye, a few minutes ago so bright and
lively, now became fixed and dim, and though you put your hand close to
it, as if to give him a blow there, he never closed his eyelid.

His legs were convulsed and his head from time to time started
involuntarily, but he never showed the least desire to raise it from
the ground. He breathed hard and emitted foam from his mouth. The
startings, or _subsultus tendinum_, now became gradually weaker and
weaker; his hinder parts were fixed in death, and in a minute or two
more his head and fore-legs ceased to stir.

Nothing now remained to show that life was still within him except that
his heart faintly beat and fluttered at intervals. In five and twenty
minutes from the time of his being wounded he was quite dead. His flesh
was very sweet and savoury at dinner.

On taking a retrospective view of the two different kinds of poisoned
arrows, and the animals destroyed by them, it would appear that the
quantity of poison must be proportioned to the animal, and thus those
probably labour under an error who imagine that the smallest particle
of it introduced into the blood has almost instantaneous effects.

Make an estimate of the difference in size betwixt the fowl and the ox,
and then weigh a sufficient quantity of poison for a blow-pipe arrow,
with which the fowl was killed, and weigh also enough poison for three
wild-hog arrows, which destroyed the ox, and it will appear that the
fowl received much more poison in proportion than the ox. Hence the
cause why the fowl died in five minutes and the ox in five and twenty.

Indeed, were it the case that the smallest particle of it introduced
into the blood has almost instantaneous effects, the Indian would not
find it necessary to make the large arrow: that of the blow-pipe is
much easier made and requires less poison.

And now for the antidotes, or rather the supposed antidotes. The
Indians tell you, that if the wounded animal be held for a considerable
time up to the mouth in water the poison will not prove fatal; also
that the juice of the sugar-cane poured down the throat will counteract
the effects of it. These antidotes were fairly tried upon full-grown
healthy fowls, but they all died, as though no steps had been taken to
preserve their lives. Rum was recommended, and given to another, but
with as little success.

It is supposed by some that wind introduced into the lungs by means of
a small pair of bellows would revive the poisoned patient, provided the
operation be continued for a sufficient length of time. It may be so;
but this is a difficult and a tedious mode of cure, and he who is
wounded in the forest, far away from his friends, or in the hut of the
savages, stands but a poor chance of being saved by it.

Had the Indians a sure antidote, it is likely they would carry it about
with them or resort to it immediately after being wounded, if at hand;
and their confidence in its efficacy would greatly diminish the horror
they betray when you point a poisoned arrow at them.

One day, while we were eating a red monkey erroneously called the
baboon, in Demerara, an Arowack Indian told an affecting story of what
happened to a comrade of his. He was present at his death. As it did
not interest this Indian in any point to tell a falsehood, it is very
probable that his account was a true one. If so, it appears that there
is no certain antidote, or at least an antidote that could be resorted
to in a case of urgent need, for the Indian gave up all thoughts of
life as soon as he was wounded.

The Arowack Indian said it was but four years ago that he and his
companion were ranging in the forest in quest of game. His companion
took a poisoned arrow and sent it at a red monkey in a tree above him.
It was nearly a perpendicular shot. The arrow missed the monkey, and in
the descent struck him in the arm a little above the elbow. He was
convinced it was all over with him. "I shall never," said he to his
companion, in a faltering voice, and looking at his bow as he said it,
"I shall never," said he, "bend this bow again." And having said that,
he took off his little bamboo poison-box, which hung across his
shoulder, and putting it together with his bow and arrows on the
ground, he laid himself down close by them, bid his companion farewell,
and never spoke more.

He who is unfortunate enough to be wounded by a poisoned arrow from
Macoushia had better not depend upon the common antidotes for a cure.
Many who have been in Guiana will recommend immediate immersion in
water, or to take the juice of the sugar-cane, or to fill the mouth
full of salt; and they recommend these antidotes because they have got
them from the Indians. But were you to ask them if they ever saw these
antidotes used with success, it is ten to one their answer would be in
the negative.

Wherefore let him reject these antidotes as unprofitable and of no
avail. He has got an active and deadly foe within him which, like
Shakespeare's fell Serjeant Death, is strict in his arrest, and will
allow him but little time--very, very little time. In a few minutes he
will be numbered with the dead. Life ought, if possible, to be
preserved, be the expense ever so great. Should the part affected admit
of it, let a ligature be tied tight round the wound, and have immediate
recourse to the knife:

  Continuo, culpam ferro compesce, priusquam
  Dira per infaustum serpant contagia corpus.

And now, kind reader, it is time to bid thee farewell. The two ends
proposed have been obtained. The Portuguese inland frontier-fort has
been reached and the Macoushi wourali poison acquired. The account of
this excursion through the interior of Guiana has been submitted to thy
perusal in order to induce thy abler genius to undertake a more
extensive one. If any difficulties have arisen, or fevers come on, they
have been caused by the periodical rains which fall in torrents as the
sun approaches the Tropic of Cancer. In dry weather there would be no
difficulties or sickness.

Amongst the many satisfactory conclusions which thou wouldest be able
to draw during the journey there is one which, perhaps, would please
thee not a little, and that is with regard to dogs. Many a time, no
doubt, thou hast heard it hotly disputed that dogs existed in Guiana
previously to the arrival of the Spaniards in those parts. Whatever the
Spaniards introduced, and which bore no resemblance to anything the
Indians had been accustomed to see, retains its Spanish name to this
day.

Thus the Warow, the Arowack, the Acoway, the Macoushi and Carib tribes
call a hat _sombrero_; a shirt or any kind of cloth _camisa_; a shoe
_zapalo_; a letter _carta_; a fowl _gallina_; gunpowder _colvora_
(Spanish _polvora_); ammunition _bala_; a cow _vaca_; and a dog _perro_.

This argues strongly against the existence of dogs in Guiana before it
was discovered by the Spaniards, and probably may be of use to thee in
thy next canine dispute.

In a political point of view this country presents a large field for
speculation. A few years ago there was but little inducement for any
Englishman to explore the interior of these rich and fine colonies, as
the British Government did not consider them worth holding at the Peace
of Amiens. Since that period their mother-country has been blotted out
from the list of nations, and America has unfolded a new sheet of
politics. On one side the Crown of Braganza, attacked by an ambitious
chieftain, has fled from the palace of its ancestors, and now seems
fixed on the banks of the Janeiro. Cayenne has yielded to its arms, La
Plata has raised the standard of independence and thinks itself
sufficiently strong to obtain a Government of its own. On the other
side the Caraccas are in open revolt, and should Santa Fé join them in
good earnest they may form a powerful association.

Thus on each side of _ci-devant_ Dutch Guiana most unexpected and
astonishing changes have taken place. Will they raise or lower it in
the scale of estimation at the Court of St. James's? Will they be of
benefit to these grand and extensive colonies? Colonies enjoying
perpetual summer. Colonies of the richest soil. Colonies containing
within themselves everything necessary for their support. Colonies, in
fine, so varied in their quality and situation as to be capable of
bringing to perfection every tropical production, and only want the
support of Government, and an enlightened governor, to render them as
fine as the finest portions of the equatorial regions. Kind reader,
fare thee well!

       *       *       *       *       *

_Letter to the Portuguese Commander_

MUY SEÑOR,

Como no tengo el honor, de ser conocido de VM. lo pienso mejor, y mas
decoroso, quedarme aqui, hastaque huviere recibido su respuesta.
Haviendo caminado hasta la choza, adonde estoi, no quisiere volverme,
antes de haver visto la fortaleza de los Portugueses; y pido licencia
de VM. para que me adelante. Honradissimos son mis motivos, ni tengo
proyecto ninguno, o de comercio, o de la soldadesca, no siendo yo, o
comerciante, o oficial. Hidalgo catolico soy, de hacienda in
Ynglatierra, y muchos años de mi vida he pasado en caminar.
Ultimamente, de Demeraria vengo, la quai dexé el 5 dia de Abril, para
ver este hermoso pais, y coger unas curiosidades, especialmente, el
veneno, que se llama wourali. Las mas recentes noticias que tenian en
Demeraria, antes di mi salida, eran medias tristes, medias alegres.
Tristes digo, viendo que Valencia ha caido en poder del enemigo comun,
y el General Blake, y sus valientes tropas quedan prisioneros de
guerra. Alegres, al contrario, porque Milord Wellington se ha apoderado
de Ciudad Rodrigo. A pesar de la caida de Valencia, parece claro al
mundo, que las cosas del enemigo, estan andando, de pejor a pejor cada
dia. Nosotros debemos dar gracias al Altissimo, por haver sido servido
dexarnos castigar ultimamente, a los robadores, de sus santas Yglesias.
Se vera VM. que yo no escribo Portugues ni aun lo hablo, pero, haviendo
aprendido el Castellano, no nos faltará medio de communicar y tener
conversacion. Ruego se escuse esta carta escrita sin tinta, porque un
Indio dexo caer mi tintero y quebrose. Dios le dé a VM. muchos años de
salud. Entretanto, tengo el honor de ser

Su mas obedeciente servidor,

CARLOS WATERTON.

       *       *       *       *       *

REMARKS

  Incertus, quo fata ferant, ubi sistere detur.

Kind and gentle reader, if the journey in quest of the wourali poison
has engaged thy attention, probably thou mayest recollect that the
traveller took leave of thee at Fort St. Joachim, on the Rio Branco.
Shouldest thou wish to know what befell him afterwards, excuse the
following uninteresting narrative.

Having had a return of fever, and aware that the farther he advanced
into these wild and lonely regions the less would be the chance of
regaining his health, he gave up all idea of proceeding onwards, and
went slowly back towards the Demerara, nearly by the same route he had
come.

On descending the falls in the Essequibo, which form an oblique line
quite across the river, it was resolved to push through them, the
downward stream being in the canoe's favour. At a little distance from
the place a large tree had fallen into the river, and in the meantime
the canoe was lashed to one of its branches.

The roaring of the water was dreadful: it foamed and dashed over the
rocks with a tremendous spray, like breakers on a lee-shore,
threatening destruction to whatever approached it. You would have
thought, by the confusion it caused in the river and the whirlpools it
made, that Scylla and Charybdis, and their whole progeny, had left the
Mediterranean and come and settled here. The channel was barely twelve
feet wide, and the torrent in rushing down formed traverse furrows
which showed how near the rocks were to the surface.

Nothing could surpass the skill of the Indian who steered the canoe. He
looked steadfastly at it, then at the rocks, then cast an eye on the
channel, and then looked at the canoe again. It was in vain to speak.
The sound was lost in the roar of waters, but his eye showed that he
had already passed it in imagination. He held up his paddle in a
position as much as to say that he would keep exactly amid channel, and
then made a sign to cut the bush-rope that held the canoe to the fallen
tree. The canoe drove down the torrent with inconceivable rapidity. It
did not touch the rocks once all the way. The Indian proved to a
nicety: "medio tutissimus ibis."

Shortly after this it rained almost day and night, the lightning
flashing incessantly and the roar of thunder awful beyond expression.

The fever returned, and pressed so heavy on him that to all appearance
his last day's march was over. However, it abated, his spirits rallied,
and he marched again; and after delays and inconveniences he reached
the house of his worthy friend Mr. Edmonstone, in Mibiri Creek, which
falls into the Demerara. No words of his can do justice to the
hospitality of that gentleman, whose repeated encounters with the
hostile negroes in the forest have been publicly rewarded and will be
remembered in the colony for years to come.

Here he learned that an eruption had taken place in St. Vincent's, and
thus the noise heard in the night of the first of May, which had caused
such terror amongst the Indians and made the garrison at Fort St.
Joachim remain under arms the rest of the night, is accounted for.

After experiencing every kindness and attention from Mr. Edmonstone he
sailed for Granada, and from thence to St. Thomas's, a few days before
poor Captain Peake lost his life on his own quarter-deck bravely
fighting for his country on the coast of Guiana.

At St. Thomas's they show you a tower, a little distance from the town,
which they say formerly belonged to a bucanier chieftain. Probably the
fury of besiegers has reduced it to its present dismantled state. What
still remains of it bears testimony of its former strength and may
brave the attack of time for centuries. You cannot view its ruins
without calling to mind the exploits of those fierce and hardy hunters,
long the terror of the Western world. While you admire their undaunted
courage, you lament that it was often stained with cruelty; while you
extol their scrupulous justice to each other, you will find a want of
it towards the rest of mankind. Often possessed of enormous wealth,
often in extreme poverty, often triumphant on the ocean and often
forced to fly to the forests, their life was an ever-changing scene of
advance and retreat, of glory and disorder, of luxury and famine. Spain
treated them as outlaws and pirates, while other European powers
publicly disowned them. They, on the other hand, maintained that
injustice on the part of Spain first forced them to take up arms in
self-defence, and that, whilst they kept inviolable the laws which they
had framed for their own common benefit and protection, they had a
right to consider as foes those who treated them as outlaws. Under this
impression they drew the sword and rushed on as though in lawful war,
and divided the spoils of victory in the scale of justice.

After leaving St. Thomas's, a severe tertian ague every now and then
kept putting the traveller in mind that his shattered frame, "starting
and shivering in the inconstant blast, meagre and pale, the ghost of
what it was," wanted repairs. Three years elapsed after arriving in
England before the ague took its final leave of him.

During that time, several experiments were made with the wourali
poison. In London an ass was inoculated with it and died in twelve
minutes. The poison was inserted into the leg of another, round which a
bandage had been previously tied a little above the place where the
wourali was introduced. He walked about as usual and ate his food as
though all were right. After an hour had elapsed the bandage was
untied, and ten minutes after death overtook him.

A she-ass received the wourali poison in the shoulder, and died
apparently in ten minutes. An incision was then made in its windpipe
and through it the lungs were regularly inflated for two hours with a
pair of bellows. Suspended animation returned. The ass held up her head
and looked around, but the inflating being discontinued she sunk once
more in apparent death. The artificial breathing was immediately
recommenced, and continued without intermission for two hours more.
This saved the ass from final dissolution: she rose up and walked
about; she seemed neither in agitation nor in pain. The wound through
which the poison entered was healed without difficulty. Her
constitution, however, was so severely affected that it was long a
doubt if ever she would be well again. She looked lean and sickly for
above a year, but began to mend the spring after, and by midsummer
became fat and frisky.

The kind-hearted reader will rejoice on learning that Earl Percy,
pitying her misfortunes, sent her down from London to Walton Hall, near
Wakefield. There she goes by the name of Wouralia. Wouralia shall be
sheltered from the wintry storm; and when summer comes she shall feed
in the finest pasture. No burden shall be placed upon her, and she
shall end her days in peace.

For three revolving autumns, the ague-beaten wanderer never saw without
a sigh the swallow bend her flight towards warmer regions. He wished to
go too, but could not for sickness had enfeebled him, and prudence
pointed out the folly of roving again too soon across the northern
tropic. To be sure, the Continent was now open, and change of air might
prove beneficial, but there was nothing very tempting in a trip across
the Channel, and as for a tour through England!--England has long
ceased to be the land for adventures. Indeed, when good King Arthur
reappears to claim his crown, he will find things strangely altered
here; and may we not look for his coming? for there is written upon his
gravestone:

  Hic jacet Arturus, Rex quondam Rexque futurus.

  Here Arthur lies, who formerly
  Was king--and king again to be.

Don Quixote was always of opinion that this famous king did not die,
but that he was changed into a raven by enchantment and that the
English are momentarily expecting his return. Be this as it may, it is
certain that when he reigned here all was harmony and joy. The browsing
herds passed from vale to vale, the swains sang from the
bluebell-teeming groves, and nymphs, with eglantine and roses in their
neatly-braided hair, went hand in hand to the flowery mead to weave
garlands for their lambkins. If by chance some rude, uncivil fellow
dared to molest them, or attempted to throw thorns in their path, there
was sure to be a knight-errant not far off ready to rush forward in
their defence. But alas! in these degenerate days it is not so. Should
a harmless cottage-maid wander out of the highway to pluck a primrose
or two in the neighbouring field, the haughty owner sternly bids her
retire; and if a pitying swain hasten to escort her back, he is perhaps
seized by the gaunt house-dog ere he reach her!

Æneas's route on the other side of Styx could not have been much worse
than this, though, by his account, when he got back to earth, it
appears that he had fallen in with "Bellua Lernæ, horrendum stridens,
flammisque, armata Chimæra."

Moreover, he had a sibyl to guide his steps; and as such a conductress
nowadays could not be got for love or money, it was judged most prudent
to refrain from sauntering through this land of freedom, and wait with
patience the return of health. At last this long-looked-for,
ever-welcome stranger came.



SECOND JOURNEY


In the year 1816, two days before the vernal equinox, I sailed from
Liverpool for Pernambuco, in the southern hemisphere, on the coast of
Brazil. There is little at this time of the year, in the European part
of the Atlantic, to engage the attention of the naturalist. As you go
down the Channel you see a few divers and gannets. The middle-sized
gulls, with a black spot at the end of the wings, attend you a little
way into the Bay of Biscay. When it blows a hard gale of wind the
stormy petrel makes its appearance. While the sea runs mountains high,
and every wave threatens destruction to the labouring vessel, this
little harbinger of storms is seen enjoying itself, on rapid pinion, up
and down the roaring billows. When the storm is over it appears no
more. It is known to every English sailor by the name of Mother Carey's
chicken. It must have been hatched in Æolus's cave, amongst a clutch of
squalls and tempests, for whenever they get out upon the ocean it
always contrives to be of the party.

Though the calms and storms and adverse winds in these latitudes are
vexatious, still, when you reach the trade-winds, you are amply repaid
for all disappointments and inconveniences. The trade-winds prevail
about thirty degrees on each side of the equator. This part of the
ocean may be called the Elysian Fields of Neptune's empire; and the
torrid zone, notwithstanding Ovid's remark, "non est habitabilis æstu,"
is rendered healthy and pleasant by these gently-blowing breezes. The
ship glides smoothly on, and you soon find yourself within the northern
tropic. When you are on it Cancer is just over your head, and betwixt
him and Capricorn is the high-road of the Zodiac, forty-seven degrees
wide, famous for Phaeton's misadventure. His father begged and
entreated him not to take it into his head to drive parallel to the
five zones, but to mind and keep on the turnpike which runs obliquely
across the equator. "There you will distinctly see," said he, "the ruts
of my chariot wheels, 'manifesta rotæ vestigia cernes.'" "But," added
he, "even suppose you keep on it, and avoid the by-roads, nevertheless,
my dear boy, believe me, you will be most sadly put to your shifts;
'ardua prima via est,' the first part of the road is confoundedly
steep! 'ultima via prona est,' and after that, it is all down-hill!
Moreover, 'per insidias iter est, formasque ferarum,' the road is full
of nooses and bull-dogs, 'Hæmoniosque arcus,' and spring guns, 'sævaque
circuitu, curvantem brachia longo, Scorpio,' and steel traps of
uncommon size and shape." These were nothing in the eyes of Phaeton; go
he would, so off he set, full speed, four in hand. He had a tough drive
of it, and after doing a prodigious deal of mischief, very luckily for
the world he got thrown out of the box, and tumbled into the River Po.

Some of our modern bloods have been shallow enough to try to ape this
poor empty-headed coachman on a little scale, making London their
Zodiac. Well for them if tradesmen's bills and other trivial
perplexities have not caused them to be thrown into the King's Bench.

The productions of the torrid zone are uncommonly grand. Its plains,
its swamps, its savannas and forests abound with the largest serpents
and wild beasts; and its trees are the habitation of the most beautiful
of the feathered race. While the traveller in the Old World is
astonished at the elephant, the tiger, the lion and rhinoceros, he who
wanders through the torrid regions of the New is lost in admiration at
the cotingas, the toucans, the humming-birds and aras.

The ocean likewise swarms with curiosities. Probably the flying-fish
may be considered as one of the most singular. This little scaled
inhabitant of water and air seems to have been more favoured than the
rest of its finny brethren. It can rise out of the waves and on wing
visit the domain of the birds.

After flying two or three hundred yards, the intense heat of the sun
has dried its pellucid wings, and it is obliged to wet them in order to
continue its flight. It just drops into the ocean for a moment, and
then rises again and flies on; and then descends to remoisten them, and
then up again into the air; thus passing its life, sometimes wet,
sometimes dry, sometimes in sunshine, and sometimes in the pale moon's
nightly beam, as pleasure dictates or as need requires. The additional
assistance of wings is not thrown away upon it. It has full occupation
both for fins and wings, as its life is in perpetual danger.

The bonito and albicore chase it day and night, but the dolphin is its
worst and swiftest foe. If it escape into the air, the dolphin pushes
on with proportional velocity beneath, and is ready to snap it up the
moment it descends to wet its wings.

You will often see above one hundred of these little marine aerial
fugitives on the wing at once. They appear to use every exertion to
prolong their flight, but vain are all their efforts, for when the last
drop of water on their wings is dried up their flight is at an end, and
they must drop into the ocean. Some are instantly devoured by their
merciless pursuer, part escape by swimming, and others get out again as
quick as possible, and trust once more to their wings.

It often happens that this unfortunate little creature, after alternate
dips and flights, finding all its exertions of no avail, at last drops
on board the vessel, verifying the old remark:

  Incidit in Scyllam, cupiens vitare Charybdim.

There, stunned by the fall, it beats the deck with its tail and dies.
When eating it you would take it for a fresh herring. The largest
measure from fourteen to fifteen inches in length. The dolphin, after
pursuing it to the ship, sometimes forfeits his own life.

In days of yore the musician used to play in softest, sweetest strain,
and then take an airing amongst the dolphins: "inter delphinas Arion."
But nowadays our tars have quite capsized the custom, and instead of
riding ashore on the dolphin, they invite the dolphin aboard. While he
is darting and playing around the vessel a sailor goes out to the
spritsail yard-arm, and with a long staff, leaded at one end, and armed
at the other with five barbed spikes, he heaves it at him. If
successful in his aim there is a fresh mess for all hands. The dying
dolphin affords a superb and brilliant sight:

  Mille trahit moriens, adverse sole colores.

All the colours of the rainbow pass and repass in rapid succession over
his body, till the dark hand of death closes the scene.

From the Cape de Verd Islands to the coast of Brazil you see several
different kinds of gulls, which, probably, are bred in the Island of
St. Paul. Sometimes the large bird called the frigate pelican soars
majestically over the vessel, and the tropic bird comes near enough to
let you have a fair view of the long feathers in his tail. On the line,
when it is calm, sharks of a tremendous size make their appearance.
They are descried from the ship by means of the dorsal fin, which is
above the water.

On entering the Bay of Pernambuco, the frigate pelican is seen watching
the shoals of fish from a prodigious height. It seldom descends without
a successful attack on its numerous prey below.

As you approach the shore the view is charming. The hills are clothed
with wood, gradually rising towards the interior, none of them of any
considerable height. A singular reef of rocks runs parallel to the
coast and forms the harbour of Pernambuco. The vessels are moored
betwixt it and the town, safe from every storm. You enter the harbour
through a very narrow passage, close by a fort built on the reef. The
hill of Olinda, studded with houses and convents, is on your
right-hand, and an island thickly planted with cocoa-nut trees adds
considerably to the scene on your left. There are two strong forts on
the isthmus betwixt Olinda and Pernambuco, and a pillar midway to aid
the pilot.

Pernambuco probably contains upwards of fifty thousand souls. It stands
on a flat, and is divided into three parts: a peninsula, an island and
the continent. Though within a few degrees of the line, its climate is
remarkably salubrious and rendered almost temperate by the refreshing
sea-breeze. Had art and judgment contributed their portion to its
natural advantages, Pernambuco at this day would have been a stately
ornament to the coast of Brazil. On viewing it, it will strike you that
everyone has built his house entirely for himself, and deprived public
convenience of the little claim she had a right to put in. You would
wish that this city, so famous for its harbour, so happy in its climate
and so well situated for commerce, could have risen under the flag of
Dido, in lieu of that of Braganza.

As you walk down the streets the appearance of the houses is not much
in their favour. Some of them are very high, and some very low; some
newly whitewashed, and others stained and mouldy and neglected, as
though they had no owner.

The balconies, too, are of a dark and gloomy appearance. They are not,
in general, open as in most tropical cities, but grated like a farmer's
dairy-window, though somewhat closer.

There is a lamentable want of cleanliness in the streets. The
impurities from the houses and the accumulation of litter from the
beasts of burden are unpleasant sights to the passing stranger. He
laments the want of a police as he goes along, and when the wind begins
to blow his nose and eyes are too often exposed to a cloud of very
unsavoury dust.

When you view the port of Pernambuco, full of ships of all nations;
when you know that the richest commodities of Europe, Africa and Asia
are brought to it; when you see immense quantities of cotton, dye-wood
and the choicest fruits pouring into the town, you are apt to wonder at
the little attention these people pay to the common comforts which one
always expects to find in a large and opulent city. However, if the
inhabitants are satisfied, there is nothing more to be said. Should
they ever be convinced that inconveniences exist, and that nuisances
are too frequent, the remedy is in their own hands. At present,
certainly, they seem perfectly regardless of them; and the
Captain-General of Pernambuco walks through the streets with as
apparent content and composure as an English statesman would proceed
down Charing Cross. Custom reconciles everything. In a week or two the
stranger himself begins to feel less the things which annoyed him so
much upon his first arrival, and after a few months' residence he
thinks no more about them, while he is partaking of the hospitality and
enjoying the elegance and splendour within doors in this great city.

Close by the river-side stands what is called the palace of the
Captain-General of Pernambuco. Its form and appearance altogether
strike the traveller that it was never intended for the use it is at
present put to.

Reader, throw a veil over thy recollection for a little while, and
forget the cruel, unjust and unmerited censures thou hast heard against
an unoffending order. This palace was once the Jesuits' college, and
originally built by those charitable fathers. Ask the aged and
respectable inhabitants of Pernambuco, and they will tell thee that the
destruction of the Society of Jesus was a terrible disaster to the
public, and its consequences severely felt to the present day.

When Pombal took the reins of power into his own hands, virtue and
learning beamed bright within the college walls. Public catechism to
the children, and religious instruction to all, flowed daily from the
mouths of its venerable priests.

They were loved, revered and respected throughout the whole town. The
illuminating philosophers of the day had sworn to exterminate Christian
knowledge, and the college of Pernambuco was doomed to founder in the
general storm. To the long-lasting sorrow and disgrace of Portugal, the
philosophers blinded her king and flattered her prime minister. Pombal
was exactly the tool these sappers of every public and private virtue
wanted. He had the naked sword of power in his own hand, and his heart
was hard as flint. He struck a mortal blow and the Society of Jesus,
throughout the Portuguese dominions, was no more.

One morning all the fathers of the college in Pernambuco, some of them
very old and feeble, were suddenly ordered into the refectory. They had
notice beforehand of the fatal storm, in pity, from the governor, but
not one of them abandoned his charge. They had done their duty and had
nothing to fear. They bowed with resignation to the will of Heaven. As
soon as they had all reached the refectory they were there locked up,
and never more did they see their rooms, their friends, their scholars,
or acquaintance. In the dead of the following night a strong guard of
soldiers literally drove them through the streets to the water's edge.
They were then conveyed in boats aboard a ship and steered for Bahia.
Those who survived the barbarous treatment they experienced from
Pombal's creatures, were at last ordered to Lisbon. The college of
Pernambuco was plundered, and some time after an elephant was kept
there.

Thus the arbitrary hand of power, in one night, smote and swept away
the sciences: to which succeeded the low vulgar buffoonery of a
showman. Virgil and Cicero made way for a wild beast from Angola! and
now a guard is on duty at the very gate where, in times long past, the
poor were daily fed!

Trust not, kind reader, to the envious remarks which their enemies have
scattered far and near; believe not the stories of those who have had a
hand in the sad tragedy. Go to Brazil, and see with thine own eyes the
effect of Pombal's short-sighted policy. There vice reigns triumphant
and learning is at its lowest ebb. Neither is this to be wondered at.
Destroy the compass, and will the vessel find her far-distant port?
Will the flock keep together, and escape the wolves, after the
shepherds are all slain? The Brazilians were told that public education
would go on just as usual. They might have asked Government, who so
able to instruct our youth as those whose knowledge is proverbial? who
so fit as those who enjoy our entire confidence? who so worthy as those
whose lives are irreproachable?

They soon found that those who succeeded the fathers of the Society of
Jesus had neither their manner nor their abilities. They had not made
the instruction of youth their particular study. Moreover, they entered
on the field after a defeat where the officers had all been slain;
where the plan of the campaign was lost; where all was in sorrow and
dismay. No exertions of theirs could rally the dispersed, or skill
prevent the fatal consequences. At the present day the seminary of
Olinda, in comparison with the former Jesuits' college, is only as the
waning moon's beam to the sun's meridian splendour.

When you visit the places where those learned fathers once flourished,
and see with your own eyes the evils their dissolution has caused; when
you hear the inhabitants telling you how good, how clever, how
charitable they were; what will you think of our poet laureate for
calling them, in his _History of Brazil_, "Missioners whose zeal the
most fanatical was directed by the coolest policy"?

Was it _fanatical_ to renounce the honours and comforts of this
transitory life in order to gain eternal glory in the next, by denying
themselves, and taking up the cross? Was it _fanatical_ to preach
salvation to innumerable wild hordes of Americans? to clothe the naked?
to encourage the repenting sinner? to aid the dying Christian? The
fathers of the Society of Jesus did all this. And for this their zeal
is pronounced to be the most fanatical, directed by the coolest policy.
It will puzzle many a clear brain to comprehend how it is possible, in
the nature of things, that _zeal_ the most _fanatical_ should be
directed by the _coolest policy_. Ah, Mr. Laureate, Mr. Laureate, that
"quidlibet audendi" of yours may now and then gild the poet at the same
time that it makes the historian cut a sorry figure!

Could Father Nobrega rise from the tomb, he would thus address you:
"Ungrateful Englishman, you have drawn a great part of your information
from the writings of the Society of Jesus, and in return you attempt to
stain its character by telling your countrymen that 'we taught the
idolatry we believed'! In speaking of me, you say it was my happy
fortune to be stationed in a country where _none_ but the good
principles of my order were called into action. Ungenerous laureate,
the narrow policy of the times has kept your countrymen in the dark
with regard to the true character of the Society of Jesus; and you draw
the bandage still tighter over their eyes by a malicious insinuation. I
lived and taught and died in Brazil, where you state that _none_ but
the good principles of my order were called into action, and still, in
most absolute contradiction to this, you remark we believed the
_idolatry_ we taught in Brazil. Thus we brought none but good
principles into action, and still taught idolatry!

"Again, you state there is no individual to whose talents Brazil is so
greatly and permanently indebted as mine, and that I must be regarded
as the founder of that system so successfully pursued by the Jesuits in
Paraguay: a system productive of as much good as is compatible with
pious fraud. Thus you make me, at one and the same time, a teacher of
none but good principles, and a teacher of idolatry, and a believer in
idolatry, and still the founder of a system for which Brazil is greatly
and permanently indebted to me, though, by the by, the system was only
productive of as much good as is compatible with pious fraud!

"What means all this? After reading such incomparable nonsense, should
your countrymen wish to be properly informed concerning the Society of
Jesus, there are in England documents enough to show that the system of
the Jesuits was a system of Christian charity towards their
fellow-creatures administered in a manner which human prudence judged
best calculated to ensure success; and that the idolatry which you
uncharitably affirm they taught was really and truly the very same
faith which the Catholic Church taught for centuries in England, which
she still teaches to those who wish to hear her, and which she will
continue to teach, pure and unspotted, till time shall be no more."

The environs of Pernambuco are very pretty. You see country houses in
all directions, and the appearance of here and there a sugar-plantation
enriches the scenery. Palm-trees, cocoanut-trees, orange and lemon
groves, and all the different fruits peculiar to Brazil, are here in
the greatest abundance.

At Olinda there is a national botanical garden: it wants space, produce
and improvement. The forests, which are several leagues off, abound
with birds, beasts, insects and serpents. Besides a brilliant plumage,
many of the birds have a very fine song. The troupiale, noted for its
rich colours, sings delightfully in the environs of Pernambuco. The
red-headed finch, larger than the European sparrow, pours forth a sweet
and varied strain, in company with two species of wrens, a little
before daylight. There are also several species of the thrush, which
have a song somewhat different from that of the European thrush; and
two species of the linnet, whose strain is so soft and sweet that it
dooms them to captivity in the houses. A bird called here
sangre-do-buey, blood of the ox, cannot fail to engage your attention:
he is of the passerine tribe, and very common about the houses; the
wings and tail are black and every other part of the body a flaming
red. In Guiana there is a species exactly the same as this in shape,
note and economy, but differing in colour, its whole body being like
black velvet; on its breast a tinge of red appears through the black.
Thus Nature has ordered this little tangara to put on mourning to the
north of the line and wear scarlet to the south of it.

For three months in the year the environs of Pernambuco are animated
beyond description. From November to March the weather is particularly
fine; then it is that rich and poor, young and old, foreigners and
natives, all issue from the city to enjoy the country till Lent
approaches, when back they hie them. Villages and hamlets, where
nothing before but rags was seen, now shine in all the elegance of
dress; every house, every room, every shed become eligible places for
those whom nothing but extreme necessity could have forced to live
there a few weeks ago: some join in the merry dance, others saunter up
and down the orange groves; and towards evening the roads become a
moving scene of silk and jewels. The gaming-tables have constant
visitors: there thousands are daily and nightly lost and won--parties
even sit down to try their luck round the outside of the door as well
as in the room:

  Vestibulum ante ipsum primisque in faucibus aulæ
  Luctus et ultrices, posucre sedilia curæ.

About six or seven miles from Pernambuco stands a pretty little village
called Monteiro. The river runs close by it, and its rural beauties
seem to surpass all others in the neighbourhood. There the
Captain-General of Pernambuco resides during this time of merriment and
joy.

The traveller who allots a portion of his time to peep at his
fellow-creatures in their relaxations, and accustoms himself to read
their several little histories in their looks and gestures as he goes
musing on, may have full occupation for an hour or two every day at
this season amid the variegated scenes around the pretty village of
Monteiro. In the evening groups sitting at the door, he may sometimes
see with a sigh how wealth and the prince's favour cause a booby to
pass for a Solon, and be reverenced as such, while perhaps a poor
neglected Camoens stands silent at a distance, awed by the dazzling
glare of wealth and power. Retired from the public road he may see poor
Maria sitting under a palm-tree, with her elbow in her lap and her head
leaning on one side within her hand, weeping over her forbidden bans.
And as he moves on "with wandering step and slow," he may hear a
broken-hearted nymph ask her faithless swain:

  How could you say my face was fair,
    And yet that face forsake?
  How could you win my virgin heart,
    Yet leave that heart to break?

One afternoon, in an unfrequented part not far from Monteiro, these
adventures were near being brought to a speedy and a final close: six
or seven blackbirds, with a white spot betwixt the shoulders, were
making a noise and passing to and fro on the lower branches of a tree
in an abandoned, weed-grown orange-orchard. In the long grass
underneath the tree apparently a pale green grasshopper was fluttering,
as though it had got entangled in it. When you once fancy that the
thing you are looking at is really what you take it for, the more you
look at it the more you are convinced it is so. In the present case
this was a grasshopper beyond all doubt, and nothing more remained to
be done but to wait in patience till it had settled, in order that you
might run no risk of breaking its legs in attempting to lay hold of it
while it was fluttering--it still kept fluttering; and having quietly
approached it, intending to make sure of it --behold, the head of a
large rattlesnake appeared in the grass close by: an instantaneous
spring backwards prevented fatal consequences. What had been taken for
a grasshopper was, in fact, the elevated rattle of the snake in the act
of announcing that he was quite prepared, though unwilling, to make a
sure and deadly spring. He shortly after passed slowly from under the
orange-tree to the neighbouring wood on the side of a hill: as he moved
over a place bare of grass and weeds he appeared to be about eight feet
long; it was he who had engaged the attention of the birds and made
them heedless of danger from another quarter: they flew away on his
retiring--one alone left his little life in the air, destined to become
a specimen, mute and motionless, for the inspection of the curious in a
far distant clime.

It was now the rainy season. The birds were moulting--fifty-eight
specimens of the handsomest of them in the neighbourhood of Pernambuco
had been collected; and it was time to proceed elsewhere. The
conveyance to the interior was by horses, and this mode, together with
the heavy rains, would expose preserved specimens to almost certain
damage. The journey to Maranham by land would take at least forty days.
The route was not wild enough to engage the attention of an explorer,
or civilised enough to afford common comforts to a traveller. By sea
there were no opportunities, except slave-ships. As the transporting
poor negroes from port to port for sale pays well in Brazil, the ships'
decks are crowded with them. This would not do.

Excuse here, benevolent reader, a small tribute of gratitude to an
Irish family whose urbanity and goodness have long gained it the esteem
and respect of all ranks in Pernambuco. The kindness and attention I
received from Dennis Kearney, Esq., and his amiable lady will be
remembered with gratitude to my dying day.

After wishing farewell to this hospitable family, I embarked on board a
Portuguese brig, with poor accommodations, for Cayenne in Guiana. The
most eligible bedroom was the top of a hen-coop on deck. Even here an
unsavoury little beast, called bug, was neither shy nor deficient in
appetite.

The Portuguese seamen are famed for catching fish. One evening, under
the line, four sharks made their appearance in the wake of the vessel.
The sailors caught them all.

On the fourteenth day after leaving Pernambuco, the brig cast anchor
off the Island of Cayenne. The entrance is beautiful. To windward, not
far off, there are two bold wooded islands called the Father and
Mother, and near them are others, their children, smaller, though as
beautiful as their parents. Another is seen a long way to leeward of
the family, and seems as if it had strayed from home and cannot find
its way back. The French call it "l'enfant perdu." As you pass the
islands the stately hills on the main, ornamented with ever-verdant
foliage, show you that this is by far the sublimest scenery on the
sea-coast from the Amazons to the Oroonoque. On casting your eye
towards Dutch Guiana you will see that the mountains become unconnected
and few in number, and long before you reach Surinam the Atlantic wave
washes a flat and muddy shore.

Considerably to windward of Cayenne, and about twelve leagues from
land, stands a stately and towering rock called the Constable. As
nothing grows on it to tempt greedy and aspiring man to claim it as his
own, the sea-fowl rest and raise their offspring there. The bird called
the frigate is ever soaring round its rugged summit. Hither the phaeton
bends his rapid flight, and flocks of rosy flamingos here defy the
fowler's cunning. All along the coast, opposite the Constable, and
indeed on every uncultivated part of it to windward and leeward, are
seen innumerable quantities of snow-white egrets, scarlet curlews,
spoonbills and flamingos.

Cayenne is capable of being a noble and productive colony. At present
it is thought to be the poorest on the coast of Guiana. Its estates are
too much separated one from the other by immense tracts of forest; and
the revolutionary war, like a cold eastern wind, has chilled their zeal
and blasted their best expectations.

The clove-tree, the cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg, and many other choice
spices and fruits of the Eastern and Asiatic regions, produce
abundantly in Cayenne.

The town itself is prettily laid out, and was once well fortified. They
tell you it might easily have been defended against the invading force
of the two united nations; but Victor Hugues, its governor, ordered the
tri-coloured flag to be struck; and ever since that day the standard of
Braganza has waved on the ramparts of Cayenne.

He who has received humiliations from the hand of this haughty,
iron-hearted governor may see him now, in Cayenne, stripped of all his
revolutionary honours, broken down and ruined, and under arrest in his
own house. He has four accomplished daughters, respected by the whole
town. Towards the close of day, when the sun's rays are no longer
oppressive, these much-pitied ladies are seen walking up and down the
balcony with their aged parent, trying, by their kind and filial
attention, to remove the settled gloom from his too guilty brow.

This was not the time for a traveller to enjoy Cayenne. The hospitality
of the inhabitants was the same as ever, but they had lost their wonted
gaiety in public, and the stranger might read in their countenances, as
the recollection of recent humiliations and misfortunes every now and
then kept breaking in upon them, that they were still in sorrow for
their fallen country: the victorious hostile cannon of Waterloo still
sounded in their ears: their emperor was a prisoner amongst the hideous
rocks of St. Helena; and many a Frenchman who had fought and bled for
France was now amongst them begging for a little support to prolong a
life which would be forfeited on the parent soil. To add another
handful to the cypress and wormwood already scattered amongst these
polite colonists, they had just received orders from the Court of
Janeiro to put on deep mourning for six months, and half-mourning for
as many more, on account of the death of the queen of Portugal.

About a day's journey in the interior is the celebrated national
plantation. This spot was judiciously chosen, for it is out of the
reach of enemies' cruisers. It is called La Gabrielle. No plantation in
the Western world can vie with La Gabrielle. Its spices are of the
choicest kind, its soil particularly favourable to them, its
arrangements beautiful, and its directeur, Monsieur Martin, a botanist
of first-rate abilities. This indefatigable naturalist ranged through
the East, under a royal commission, in quest of botanical knowledge;
and during his stay in the Western regions has sent over to Europe from
twenty to twenty-five thousand specimens in botany and zoology. La
Gabrielle is on a far-extending range of woody hills. Figure to
yourself a hill in the shape of a bowl reversed, with the buildings on
the top of it, and you will have an idea of the appearance of La
Gabrielle. You approach the house through a noble avenue, five hundred
toises long, of the choicest tropical fruit-trees, planted with the
greatest care and judgment; and should you chance to stray through it,
after sunset, when the clove-trees are in blossom, you would fancy
yourself in the Idalian groves or near the banks of the Nile, where
they were burning the finest incense as the queen of Egypt passed.

On La Gabrielle there are twenty-two thousand clove-trees in full
bearing. They are planted thirty feet asunder. Their lower branches
touch the ground. In general the trees are topped at five and twenty
feet high, though you will see some here towering up above sixty. The
black pepper, the cinnamon and nutmeg are also in great abundance here,
and very productive.

While the stranger views the spicy groves of La Gabrielle, and tastes
the most delicious fruits which have been originally imported hither
from all parts of the tropical world, he will thank the Government
which has supported, and admire the talents of the gentleman who has
raised to its present grandeur, this noble collection of useful fruits.
There is a large nursery attached to La Gabrielle where plants of all
the different species are raised and distributed gratis to those
colonists who wish to cultivate them.

Not far from the banks of the River Oyapoc, to windward of Cayenne, is
a mountain which contains an immense cavern. Here the cock-of-the-rock
is plentiful. He is about the size of a fantail pigeon, his colour a
bright orange and his wings and tail appear as though fringed; his head
is ornamented with a superb double-feathery crest edged with purple. He
passes the day amid gloomy damps and silence, and only issues out for
food a short time at sunrise and sunset. He is of the gallinaceous
tribe. The South-American Spaniards call him "Gallo del Rio Negro"
(Cock of the Black River), and suppose that he is only to be met with
in the vicinity of that far-inland stream; but he is common in the
interior of Demerara, amongst the huge rocks in the forests of
Macoushia, and he has been shot south of the line, in the captainship
of Para.

The bird called by Buffon grand gobe-mouche has never been found in
Demerara, although very common in Cayenne. He is not quite so large as
the jackdaw, and is entirely black, except a large spot under the
throat, which is a glossy purple.

You may easily sail from Cayenne to the River Surinam in two days. Its
capital, Paramaribo, is handsome, rich and populous: hitherto it has
been considered by far the finest town in Guiana, but probably the time
is not far off when the capital of Demerara may claim the prize of
superiority. You may enter a creek above Paramaribo and travel through
the interior of Surinam till you come to the Nicari, which is close to
the large River Coryntin. When you have passed this river there is a
good public road to New Amsterdam, the capital of Berbice.

On viewing New Amsterdam, it will immediately strike you that something
or other has intervened to prevent its arriving at that state of wealth
and consequence for which its original plan shows it was once intended.
What has caused this stop in its progress to the rank of a fine and
populous city remains for those to find out who are interested in it;
certain it is that New Amsterdam has been languid for some years, and
now the tide of commerce seems ebbing fast from the shores of Berbice.

Gay and blooming is the sister colony of Demerara. Perhaps, kind
reader, thou hast not forgot that it was from Stabroek, the capital of
Demerara, that the adventurer set out, some years ago, to reach the
Portuguese frontier-fort and collect the wourali poison. It was not
intended, when this second sally was planned in England, to have
visited Stabroek again by the route here described. The plan was to
have ascended the Amazons from Para and got into the Rio Negro, and
from thence to have returned towards the source of the Essequibo, in
order to examine the crystal mountains and look once more for Lake
Parima, or the White Sea; but on arriving at Cayenne the current was
running with such amazing rapidity to leeward that a Portuguese sloop,
which had been beating up towards Para for four weeks, was then only
half-way. Finding, therefore, that a beat to the Amazons would be long,
tedious and even uncertain, and aware that the season for procuring
birds in fine plumage had already set in, I left Cayenne in an American
ship for Paramaribo, went through the interior to the Coryntin, stopped
a few days in New Amsterdam, and proceeded to Demerara. If, gentle
reader, thy patience be not already worn out, and thy eyes half-closed
in slumber by perusing the dull adventures of this second sally,
perhaps thou wilt pardon a line or two on Demerara; and then we will
retire to its forests to collect and examine the economy of its most
rare and beautiful birds, and give the world a new mode of preserving
them.

Stabroek, the capital of Demerara, has been rapidly increasing for some
years back; and if prosperity go hand in hand with the present
enterprising spirit, Stabroek, ere long, will be of the first colonial
consideration. It stands on the eastern bank at the mouth of the
Demerara, and enjoys all the advantages of the refreshing sea-breeze;
the streets are spacious, well bricked and elevated, the trenches
clean, the bridges excellent, and the houses handsome. Almost every
commodity and luxury of London may be bought in the shops at Stabroek:
its market wants better regulations. The hotels are commodious, clean
and well-attended. Demerara boasts as fine and well-disciplined militia
as any colony in the Western world.

The court of justice, where in times of old the bandage was easily
removed from the eyes of the goddess and her scales thrown out of
equilibrium, now rises in dignity under the firmness, talents and
urbanity of Mr. President Rough.

The plantations have an appearance of high cultivation; a tolerable
idea may be formed of their value when you know that last year Demerara
numbered 72,999 slaves. They made above 44,000,000 pounds of sugar,
near 2,000,000 gallons of rum, above 11,000,000 pounds of coffee, and
3,819,512 pounds of cotton; the receipt into the public chest was
553,956 guilders; the public expenditure 451,603 guilders.

Slavery can never be defended. He whose heart is not of iron can never
wish to be able to defend it: while he heaves a sigh for the poor negro
in captivity, he wishes from his soul that the traffic had been stifled
in its birth; but unfortunately the Governments of Europe nourished it,
and now that they are exerting themselves to do away the evil, and
ensure liberty to the sons of Africa, the situation of the
plantation-slaves is depicted as truly deplorable and their condition
wretched. It is not so. A Briton's heart, proverbially kind and
generous, is not changed by climate or its streams of compassion dried
up by the scorching heat of a Demerara sun: he cheers his negroes in
labour, comforts them in sickness, is kind to them in old age, and
never forgets that they are his fellow-creatures.

Instances of cruelty and depravity certainly occur here as well as all
the world over, but the edicts of the colonial Government are well
calculated to prevent them, and the British planter, except here and
there one, feels for the wrongs done to a poor ill-treated slave, and
shows that his heart grieves for him by causing immediate redress and
preventing a repetition.

Long may ye flourish, peaceful and liberal inhabitants of Demerara.
Your doors are ever open to harbour the harbourless; your purses never
shut to the wants of the distressed: many a ruined fugitive from the
Oroonoque will bless your kindness to him in the hour of need, when
flying from the woes of civil discord, without food or raiment, he
begged for shelter underneath your roof. The poor sufferer in Trinidad
who lost his all in the devouring flames will remember your charity to
his latest moments. The traveller, as he leaves your port, casts a
longing, lingering look behind: your attentions, your hospitality, your
pleasantry and mirth are uppermost in his thoughts; your prosperity is
close to his heart. Let us now, gentle reader, retire from the busy
scenes of man and journey on towards the wilds in quest of the
feathered tribe.

Leave behind you your high-seasoned dishes, your wines and your
delicacies: carry nothing but what is necessary for your own comfort
and the object in view, and depend upon the skill of an Indian, or your
own, for fish and game. A sheet about twelve feet long, ten wide,
painted, and with loop-holes on each side, will be of great service: in
a few minutes you can suspend it betwixt two trees in the shape of a
roof. Under this, in your hammock, you may defy the pelting shower, and
sleep heedless of the dews of night. A hat, a shirt and a light pair of
trousers will be all the raiment you require. Custom will soon teach
you to tread lightly and barefoot on the little inequalities of the
ground, and show you how to pass on unwounded amid the mantling briers.

Snakes, in these wilds, are certainly an annoyance, though perhaps more
in imagination than reality, for you must recollect that the serpent is
never the first to offend: his poisonous fang was not given him for
conquest--he never inflicts a wound with it but to defend existence.
Provided you walk cautiously and do not absolutely touch him, you may
pass in safety close by him. As he is often coiled up on the ground,
and amongst the branches of the trees above you, a degree of
circumspection is necessary lest you unwarily disturb him.

Tigers are too few, and too apt to fly before the noble face of man, to
require a moment of your attention.

The bite of the most noxious of the insects, at the very worst, only
causes a transient fever with a degree of pain more or less.

Birds in general, with a few exceptions, are not common in the very
remote parts of the forest. The sides of rivers, lakes and creeks, the
borders of savannas, the old abandoned habitations of Indians and
wood-cutters, seem to be their favourite haunts.

Though least in size, the glittering mantle of the humming-bird
entitles it to the first place in the list of the birds of the new
world. It may truly be called the bird of paradise: and had it existed
in the Old World, it would have claimed the title instead of the bird
which has now the honour to bear it. See it darting through the air
almost as quick as thought!--now it is within a yard of your face!--in
an instant gone!--now it flutters from flower to flower to sip the
silver dew--it is now a ruby--now a topaz --now an emerald--now all
burnished gold! It would be arrogant to pretend to describe this winged
gem of Nature after Buffon's elegant description of it.

Cayenne and Demerara produce the same hummingbirds. Perhaps you would
wish to know something of their haunts. Chiefly in the months of July
and August, the tree called bois immortel, very common in Demerara,
bears abundance of red blossom which stays on the tree for some weeks;
then it is that most of the different species of humming-birds are very
plentiful. The wild red sage is also their favourite shrub, and they
buzz like bees round the blossom of the wallaba tree. Indeed, there is
scarce a flower in the interior, or on the sea-coast, but what receives
frequent visits from one or other of the species.

On entering the forests, on the rising land in the interior, the blue
and green, the smallest brown, no bigger than the humble-bee, with two
long feathers in the tail, and the little forked-tail purple-throated
humming-birds, glitter before you in ever-changing attitudes. One
species alone never shows his beauty to the sun: and were it not for
his lovely shining colours, you might almost be tempted to class him
with the goat-suckers, on account of his habits. He is the largest of
all the humming-birds, and is all red and changing gold-green, except
the head, which is black. He has two long feathers in the tail which
cross each other, and these have gained him the name of karabimiti, or
ara humming-bird, from the Indians. You never find him on the
sea-coast, or where the river is salt, or in the heart of the forest,
unless fresh water be there. He keeps close by the side of woody
fresh-water rivers and dark and lonely creeks. He leaves his retreat
before sunrise to feed on the insects over the water; he returns to it
as soon as the sun's rays cause a glare of light, is sedentary all day
long, and comes out again for a short tune after sunset. He builds his
nest on a twig over the water in the unfrequented creeks: it looks like
tanned cow-leather.

As you advance towards the mountains of Demerara other species of
humming-birds present themselves before you. It seems to be an
erroneous opinion that the humming-bird lives entirely on honey-dew.
Almost every flower of the tropical climates contains insects of one
kind or other. Now the humming-bird is most busy about the flowers an
hour or two after sunrise and after a shower of rain, and it is just at
this time that the insects come out to the edge of the flower in order
that the sun's rays may dry the nocturnal dew and rain which they have
received. On opening the stomach of the humming-bird dead insects are
almost always found there.

Next to the humming-birds, the cotingas display the gayest plumage.
They are of the order of Passer, and you number five species betwixt
the sea-coast and the rock Saba. Perhaps the scarlet cotinga is the
richest of the five, and is one of those birds which are found in the
deepest recesses of the forest. His crown is flaming red; to this
abruptly succeeds a dark shining brown, reaching half-way down the
back: the remainder of the back, the rump and tail, the extremity of
which is edged with black, are a lively red; the belly is a somewhat
lighter red; the breast reddish-black; the wings brown. He has no song,
is solitary, and utters a monotonous whistle which sounds like "quet."
He is fond of the seeds of the hitia-tree and those of the siloabali-
and bastard siloabali-trees, which ripen in December and continue on
the trees for above two months. He is found throughout the year in
Demerara; still nothing is known of his incubation. The Indians all
agree in telling you that they have never seen his nest.

The purple-breasted cotinga has the throat and breast of a deep purple,
the wings and tail black, and all the rest of the body a most lovely
shining blue.

The purple-throated cotinga has black wings and tail, and every other
part a light and glossy blue, save the throat, which is purple.

The pompadour cotinga is entirely purple, except his wings, which are
white, their four first feathers tipped with brown. The great coverts
of the wings are stiff, narrow and pointed, being shaped quite
different from those of any other bird. When you are betwixt this bird
and the sun, in his flight, he appears uncommonly brilliant. He makes a
hoarse noise which sounds like "wallababa." Hence his name amongst the
Indians.

None of these three cotingas have a song. They feed on the hitia,
siloabali- and bastard siloabali-seeds, the wild guava, the fig, and
other fruit-trees of the forest. They are easily shot in these trees
during the months of December, January and part of February. The
greater part of them disappear after this, and probably retire far away
to breed. Their nests have never been found in Demerara.

The fifth species is the celebrated campanero of the Spaniards, called
dara by the Indians, and bell-bird by the English. He is about the size
of the jay. His plumage is white as snow. On his forehead rises a
spiral tube nearly three inches long. It is jet black, dotted all over
with small white feathers. It has a communication with the palate, and
when filled with air looks like a spire; when empty it becomes
pendulous. His note is loud and clear, like the sound of a bell, and
may be heard at the distance of three miles. In the midst of these
extensive wilds, generally on the dried top of an aged mora, almost out
of gun-reach, you will see the campanero. No sound or song from any of
the winged inhabitants of the forest, not even the clearly pronounced
"Whip-poor-will" from the goat-sucker, cause such astonishment as the
toll of the campanero.

With many of the feathered race he pays the common tribute of a morning
and an evening song; and even when the meridian sun has shut in silence
the mouths of almost the whole of animated nature the campanero still
cheers the forest. You hear his toll, and then a pause for a minute,
then another toll, and then a pause again, and then a toll, and again a
pause. Then he is silent for six or eight minutes, and then another
toll, and so on. Acteon would stop in mid-chase, Maria would defer her
evening song, and Orpheus himself would drop his lute to listen to him,
so sweet, so novel and romantic is the toll of the pretty snow-white
campanero. He is never seen to feed with the other cotingas, nor is it
known in what part of Guiana he makes his nest.

While the cotingas attract your attention by their superior plumage,
the singular form of the toucan makes a lasting impression on your
memory. There are three species of toucans in Demerara, and three
diminutives, which may be called toucanets. The largest of the first
species frequents the mangrove trees on the sea-coast. He is never seen
in the interior till you reach Macoushia, where he is found in the
neighbourhood of the River Tacatou. The other two species are very
common. They feed entirely on the fruits of the forest and, though of
the pie kind, never kill the young of other birds or touch carrion. The
larger is called bouradi by the Indians (which means nose), the other
scirou. They seem partial to each other's company, and often resort to
the same feeding-tree and retire together to the same shady noon-day
retreat. They are very noisy in rainy weather at all hours of the day,
and in fair weather at morn and eve. The sound which the bouradi makes
is like the clear yelping of a puppy-dog, and you fancy he says
"pia-po-o-co," and thus the South-American Spaniards call him piapoco.

All the toucanets feed on the same trees on which the toucan feeds, and
every species of this family of enormous bill lays its eggs in the
hollow trees. They are social, but not gregarious. You may sometimes
see eight or ten in company, and from this you would suppose they are
gregarious; but upon a closer examination you will find it has only
been a dinner-party, which breaks up and disperses towards
roosting-time.

You will be at a loss to conjecture for what ends Nature has overloaded
the head of this bird with such an enormous bill. It cannot be for the
offensive, as it has no need to wage war with any of the tribes of
animated nature, for its food is fruits and seeds, and those are in
superabundance throughout the whole year in the regions where the
toucan is found. It can hardly be for the defensive, as the toucan is
preyed upon by no bird in South America and, were it obliged to be at
war, the texture of the bill is ill-adapted to give or receive blows,
as you will see in dissecting it. It cannot be for any particular
protection to the tongue, as the tongue is a perfect feather.

The flight of the toucan is by jerks: in the action of flying it seems
incommoded by this huge disproportioned feature, and the head seems as
if bowed down to the earth by it against its will. If the extraordinary
form and size of the bill expose the toucan to ridicule, its colours
make it amends. Were a specimen of each species of the toucan presented
to you, you would pronounce the bill of the bouradi the most rich and
beautiful: on the ridge of the upper mandible a broad stripe of most
lovely yellow extends from the head to the point; a stripe of the same
breadth, though somewhat deeper yellow, falls from it at right angles
next the head down to the edge of the mandible; then follows a black
stripe, half as broad, falling at right angles from the ridge and
running narrower along the edge to within half an inch of the point.
The rest of the mandible is a deep bright red. The lower mandible has
no yellow: its black and red are distributed in the same manner as on
the upper one, with this difference, that there is black about an inch
from the point. The stripe corresponding to the deep yellow stripe on
the upper mandible is sky-blue. It is worthy of remark that all these
brilliant colours of the bill are to be found in the plumage of the
body and the bare skin round the eye.

All these colours, except the blue, are inherent in the horn: that part
which appears blue is in reality transparent white, and receives its
colour from a thin piece of blue skin inside. This superb bill fades in
death, and in three or four days' time has quite lost its original
colours.

Till within these few years no idea of the true colours of the bill
could be formed from the stuffed toucans brought to Europe. About eight
years ago, while eating a boiled toucan, the thought struck me that the
colours in the bill of a preserved specimen might be kept as bright as
those in life. A series of experiments proved this beyond a doubt. If
you take your penknife and cut away the roof of the upper mandible, you
will find that the space betwixt it and the outer shell contains a
large collection of veins and small osseous fibres running in all
directions through the whole extent of the bill. Clear away all these
with your knife, and you will come to a substance more firm than skin,
but of not so strong a texture as the horn itself. Cut this away also,
and behind it is discovered a thin and tender membrane: yellow where it
has touched the yellow part of the horn, blue where it has touched the
red part, and black towards the edge and point; when dried this thin
and tender membrane becomes nearly black; as soon as it is cut away
nothing remains but the outer horn, red and yellow, and now become
transparent. The under mandible must undergo the same operation. Great
care must be taken and the knife used very cautiously when you are
cutting through the different parts close to where the bill joins on to
the head: if you cut away too much the bill drops off; if you press too
hard the knife comes through the horn; if you leave too great a portion
of the membrane it appears through the horn and, by becoming black when
dried, makes the horn appear black also, and has a bad effect.
Judgment, caution, skill and practice will ensure success.

You have now cleared the bill of all those bodies which are the cause
of its apparent fading, for, as has been said before, these bodies dry
in death and become quite discoloured, and appear so through the horn;
and reviewing the bill in this state, you conclude that its former
bright colours are lost.

Something still remains to be done. You have rendered the bill
transparent by the operation, and that transparency must be done away
to make it appear perfectly natural. Pound some clean chalk and give it
enough water till it be of the consistency of tar, add a proportion of
gum-arabic to make it adhesive, then take a camel-hair brush and give
the inside of both mandibles a coat; apply a second when the first is
dry, then another, and a fourth to finish all. The gum-arabic will
prevent the chalk from cracking and falling off. If you remember, there
is a little space of transparent white in the lower mandible which
originally appeared blue, but which became transparent white as soon as
the thin piece of blue skin was cut away: this must be painted blue
inside. When all this is completed the bill will please you: it will
appear in its original colours. Probably your own abilities will
suggest a cleverer mode of operating than the one here described. A
small gouge would assist the penknife and render the operation less
difficult.

The houtou ranks high in beauty amongst the birds of Demerara. His
whole body is green, with a bluish cast in the wings and tail; his
crown, which he erects at pleasure, consists of black in the centre,
surrounded with lovely blue of two different shades; he has a
triangular black spot, edged with blue, behind the eye extending to the
ear, and on his breast a sable tuft consisting of nine feathers edged
also with blue. This bird seems to suppose that its beauty can be
increased by trimming the tail, which undergoes the same operation as
our hair in a barber's shop, only with this difference, that it uses
its own beak, which is serrated, in lieu of a pair of scissors. As soon
as his tail is full grown, he begins about an inch from the extremity
of the two longest feathers in it and cuts away the web on both sides
of the shaft, making a gap about an inch long. Both male and female
adonise their tails in this manner, which gives them a remarkable
appearance amongst all other birds. While we consider the tail of the
houtou blemished and defective, were he to come amongst us he would
probably consider our heads, cropped and bald, in no better light. He
who wishes to observe this handsome bird in his native haunts must be
in the forest at the morning's dawn. The houtou shuns the society of
man: the plantations and cultivated parts are too much disturbed to
engage it to settle there; the thick and gloomy forests are the places
preferred by the solitary houtou.

In those far-extending wilds, about daybreak, you hear him articulate,
in a distinct and mournful tone, "houtou, houtou." Move cautious on to
where the sound proceeds from, and you will see him sitting in the
underwood about a couple of yards from the ground, his tail moving up
and down every time he articulates "houtou." He lives on insects and
the berries amongst the underwood, and very rarely is seen in the lofty
trees, except the bastard siloabali-tree, the fruit of which is
grateful to him. He makes no nest, but rears his young in a hole in the
sand, generally on the side of a hill.

While in quest of the houtou, you will now and then fall in with the
jay of Guiana, called by the Indians ibibirou. Its forehead is black,
the rest of the head white, the throat and breast like the English
magpie; about an inch of the extremity of the tail is white, the other
part of it, together with the back and wings, a greyish changing
purple; the belly is white. There are generally six or eight of them in
company: they are shy and garrulous, and tarry a very short time in one
place. They are never seen in the cultivated parts.

Through the whole extent of the forest, chiefly from sunrise till nine
o'clock in the morning, you hear a sound of "wow, wow, wow, wow." This
is the bird called boclora by the Indians. It is smaller than the
common pigeon, and seems, in some measure, to partake of its nature:
its head and breast are blue; the back and rump somewhat resemble the
colour on the peacock's neck; its belly is a bright yellow. The legs
are so very short that it always appears as if sitting on the branch:
it is as ill-adapted for walking as the swallow. Its neck, for above an
inch all round, is quite bare of feathers, but this deficiency is not
seen, for it always sits with its head drawn in upon its shoulders. It
sometimes feeds with the cotingas on the guava- and hitia-trees, but
its chief nutriment seems to be insects, and, like most birds which
follow this prey, its chaps are well armed with bristles: it is found
in Demerara at all times of the year, and makes a nest resembling that
of the stock-dove. This bird never takes long nights, and when it
crosses a river or creek it goes by long jerks.

The boclora is very unsuspicious, appearing quite heedless of danger:
the report of a gun within twenty yards will not cause it to leave the
branch on which it is sitting, and you may often approach it so near as
almost to touch it with the end of your bow. Perhaps there is no bird
known whose feathers are so slightly fixed to the skin as those of the
boclora. After shooting it, if it touch a branch in its descent, or if
it drop on hard ground, whole heaps of feathers fall off: on this
account it is extremely hard to procure a specimen for preservation. As
soon as the skin is dry in the preserved specimen the feathers become
as well fixed as those in any other bird.

Another species, larger than the boclora, attracts much of your notice
in these wilds: it is called cuia by the Indians, from the sound of its
voice. Its habits are the same as those of the boclora, but its colours
different: its head, breast, back and rump are a shining, changing
green; its tail not quite so bright; a black bar runs across the tail
towards the extremity, and the outside feathers are partly white, as in
the boclora; its belly is entirely vermilion, a bar of white separating
it from the green on the breast.

There are diminutives of both these birds: they have the same habits,
with a somewhat different plumage, and about half the size. Arrayed
from head to tail in a robe of richest sable hue, the bird called
rice-bird loves spots cultivated by the hand of man. The woodcutter's
house on the hills in the interior, and the planter's habitation on the
sea-coast, equally attract this songless species of the order of pie,
provided the Indian-corn be ripe there. He is nearly of the jackdaw's
size and makes his nest far away from the haunts of men. He may truly
be called a blackbird: independent of his plumage, his beak, inside and
out, his legs, his toes and claws are jet black.

Mankind, by clearing the ground and sowing a variety of seeds, induces
many kinds of birds to leave their native haunts and come and settle
near him: their little depredations on his seeds and fruits prove that
it is the property, and not the proprietor, which has the attractions.

One bird, however, in Demerara is not actuated by selfish motives: this
is the cassique. In size he is larger than the starling: he courts the
society of man, but disdains to live by his labours. When Nature calls
for support he repairs to the neighbouring forest, and there partakes
of the store of fruits and seeds which she has produced in abundance
for her aerial tribes. When his repast is over he returns to man, and
pays the little tribute which he owes him for his protection. He takes
his station on a tree close to his house, and there, for hours
together, pours forth a succession of imitative notes. His own song is
sweet, but very short. If a toucan be yelping in the neighbourhood, he
drops it, and imitates him. Then he will amuse his protector with the
cries of the different species of the woodpecker, and when the sheep
bleat he will distinctly answer them. Then comes his own song again;
and if a puppy-dog or a guinea-fowl interrupt him, he takes them off
admirably, and by his different gestures during the time you would
conclude that he enjoys the sport.

The cassique is gregarious, and imitates any sound he hears with such
exactness that he goes by no other name than that of mocking bird
amongst the colonists.

At breeding-time a number of these pretty choristers resort to a tree
near the planter's house, and from its outside branches weave their
pendulous nests. So conscious do they seem that they never give
offence, and so little suspicious are they of receiving any injury from
man, that they will choose a tree within forty yards from his house,
and occupy the branches so low down that he may peep into the nests. A
tree in Waratilla Creek affords a proof of this.

The proportions of the cassique are so fine that he may be said to be a
model of symmetry in ornithology. On each wing he has a bright yellow
spot, and his rump, belly and half the tail are of the same colour. All
the rest of the body is black. His beak is the colour of sulphur, but
it fades in death, and requires the same operation as the bill of the
toucan to make it keep its colours. Up the rivers, in the interior,
there is another cassique, nearly the same size and of the same habits,
though not gifted with its powers of imitation. Except in
breeding-time, you will see hundreds of them retiring to roost amongst
the moca-moca-trees and low shrubs on the banks of the Demerara, after
you pass the first island. They are not common on the sea-coast. The
rump of this cassique is a flaming scarlet. All the rest of the body is
a rich glossy black. His bill is sulphur-colour. You may often see
numbers of this species weaving their pendulous nests on one side of a
tree, while numbers of the other species are busy in forming theirs on
the opposite side of the same tree. Though such near neighbours, the
females are never observed to kick up a row or come to blows!

Another species of cassique, as large as a crow, is very common in the
plantations. In the morning he generally repairs to a large tree, and
there, with his tail spread over his back and shaking his lowered
wings, he produces notes which, though they cannot be said to amount to
a song, still have something very sweet and pleasing in them. He makes
his nest in the same form as the other cassiques. It is above four feet
long, and when you pass under the tree, which often contains fifty or
sixty of them, you cannot help stopping to admire them as they wave to
and fro, the sport of every storm and breeze. The rump is chestnut; ten
feathers of the tail are a fine yellow, the remaining two, which are
the middle ones, are black, and an inch shorter than the others. His
bill is sulphur-colour; all the rest of the body black, with here and
there shades of brown. He has five or six long narrow black feathers on
the back of his head, which he erects at pleasure.

There is one more species of cassique in Demerara which always prefers
the forests to the cultivated parts. His economy is the same as that of
the other cassiques. He is rather smaller than the last described bird.
His body is greenish, and his tail and rump paler than those of the
former. Half of his beak is red.

You would not be long in the forests of Demerara without noticing the
woodpeckers. You meet with them feeding at all hours of the day. Well
may they do so. Were they to follow the example of most of the other
birds, and only feed in the morning and evening, they would be often on
short allowance, for they sometimes have to labour three or four hours
at the tree before they get to their food. The sound which the largest
kind makes in hammering against the bark of the tree is so loud that
you would never suppose it to proceed from the efforts of a bird. You
would take it to be the woodman, with his axe, trying by a sturdy blow,
often repeated, whether the tree were sound or not. There are fourteen
species here: the largest the size of a magpie, the smallest no bigger
than the wren. They are all beautiful, and the greater part of them
have their heads ornamented with a fine crest, movable at pleasure.

It is said, if you once give a dog a bad name, whether innocent or
guilty, he never loses it. It sticks close to him wherever he goes. He
has many a kick and many a blow to bear on account of it; and there is
nobody to stand up for him. The woodpecker is little better off. The
proprietors of woods in Europe have long accused him of injuring their
timber by boring holes in it and letting in the water, which soon rots
it. The colonists in America have the same complaint against him. Had
he the power of speech, which Ovid's birds possessed in days of yore,
he could soon make a defence: "Mighty lord of the woods," he would say
to man, "why do you wrongfully accuse me? Why do you hunt me up and
down to death for an imaginary offence? I have never spoiled a leaf of
your property, much less your wood. Your merciless shot strikes me at
the very time I am doing you a service. But your shortsightedness will
not let you see it, or your pride is above examining closely the
actions of so insignificant a little bird as I am. If there be that
spark of feeling in your breast which they say man possesses, or ought
to possess, above all other animals, do a poor injured creature a
little kindness and watch me in your woods only for one day. I never
wound your healthy trees. I should perish for want in the attempt. The
sound bark would easily resist the force of my bill; and were I even to
pierce through it, there would be nothing inside that I could fancy or
my stomach digest. I often visit them it is true, but a knock or two
convince me that I must go elsewhere for support; and were you to
listen attentively to the sound which my bill causes, you would know
whether I am upon a healthy or an unhealthy tree. Wood and bark are not
my food. I live entirely upon the insects which have already formed a
lodgment in the distempered tree. When the sound informs me that my
prey is there, I labour for hours together till I get at it, and by
consuming it for my own support, I prevent its further depredations in
that part. Thus I discover for you your hidden and unsuspected foe,
which has been devouring your wood in such secrecy that you had not the
least suspicion it was there. The hole which I make in order to get at
the pernicious vermin will be seen by you as you pass under the tree. I
leave it as a signal to tell you that your tree has already stood too
long. It is past its prime. Millions of insects, engendered by disease,
are preying upon its vitals. Ere long it will fall a log in useless
ruins. Warned by this loss, cut down the rest in time, and spare, O
spare the unoffending woodpecker."

In the rivers and different creeks you number six species of the
kingfisher. They make their nest in a hole in the sand on the side of
the bank. As there is always plenty of foliage to protect them from the
heat of the sun, they feed at all hours of the day. Though their
plumage is prettily varied, still it falls far short of the brilliancy
displayed by the English kingfisher. This little native of Britain
would outweigh them altogether in the scale of beauty.

A bird called jacamar is often taken for a kingfisher, but it has no
relationship to that tribe. It frequently sits in the trees over the
water, and as its beak bears some resemblance to that of the
kingfisher, this may probably account for its being taken for one; it
feeds entirely upon insects; it sits on a branch in motionless
expectation, and as soon as a fly, butterfly, or moth pass by, it darts
at it, and returns to the branch it had just left. It seems an
indolent, sedentary bird, shunning the society of all others in the
forest. It never visits the plantations, but is found at all times of
the year in the woods. There are four species of jacamar in Demerara.
They are all beautiful: the largest, rich and superb in the extreme.
Its plumage is of so fine a changing blue and golden-green that it may
be ranked with the choicest of the humming-birds. Nature has denied it
a song, but given a costly garment in lieu of it. The smallest species
of jacamar is very common in the dry savannas. The second size, all
golden-green on the back, must be looked for in the wallaba-forest. The
third is found throughout the whole extent of these wilds, and the
fourth, which is the largest, frequents the interior, where you begin
to perceive stones in the ground.

When you have penetrated far into Macoushia, you hear the pretty
songster called troupiale pour forth a variety of sweet and plaintive
notes. This is the bird which the Portuguese call the nightingale of
Guiana. Its predominant colours are rich orange and shining black,
arrayed to great advantage. His delicate and well-shaped frame seems
unable to bear captivity. The Indians sometimes bring down troupiales
to Stabroek, but in a few months they languish and die in a cage. They
soon become very familiar, and if you allow them the liberty of the
house, they live longer than in a cage and appear in better spirits,
but when you least expect it they drop down and die in epilepsy.

Smaller in size, and of colour not so rich and somewhat differently
arranged, another species of troupiale sings melodiously in Demerara.
The woodcutter is particularly favoured by him, for while the hen is
sitting on her nest, built in the roof of the woodcutter's house, he
sings for hours together close by. He prefers the forests to the
cultivated parts.

You would not grudge to stop for a few minutes, as you are walking in
the plantations, to observe a third species of troupiale: his wings,
tail and throat are black; all the rest of the body is a bright yellow.
There is something very sweet and plaintive in his song, though much
shorter than that of the troupiale in the interior.

A fourth species goes in flocks from place to place, in the cultivated
parts, at the time the indian-corn is ripe; he is all black, except the
head and throat, which are yellow. His attempt at song is not worth
attending to.

Wherever there is a wild fig-tree ripe, a numerous species of birds
called tangara is sure to be on it. There are eighteen beautiful
species here. Their plumage is very rich and diversified. Some of them
boast six separate colours; others have the blue, purple, green and
black so kindly blended into each other that it would be impossible to
mark their boundaries; while others again exhibit them strong, distinct
and abrupt. Many of these tangaras have a fine song. They seem to
partake much of the nature of our linnets, sparrows and finches. Some
of them are fond of the plantations; others are never seen there,
preferring the wild seeds of the forest to the choicest fruits planted
by the hand of man.

On the same fig-trees to which they repair, and often accidentally up
and down the forest, you fall in with four species of manikin. The
largest is white and black, with the feathers on the throat remarkably
long; the next in size is half red and half black; the third black,
with a white crown; the fourth black, with a golden crown, and red
feathers at the knee. The half-red and half-black species is the
scarcest. There is a creek in the Demerara called Camouni. About ten
minutes from the mouth you see a common-sized fig-tree on your right
hand, as you ascend, hanging over the water; it bears a very small fig
twice a year. When its fruit is ripe this manikin is on the tree from
morn till eve.

On all the ripe fig-trees in the forest you see the bird called the
small tiger-bird. Like some of our belles and dandies, it has a gaudy
vest to veil an ill-shaped body. The throat, and part of the head, are
a bright red; the breast and belly have black spots on a yellow ground;
the wings are a dark green, black, and white; and the rump and tail
black and green. Like the manikin, it has no song: it depends solely
upon a showy garment for admiration.

Devoid, too, of song, and in a still superber garb, the yawaraciri
comes to feed on the same tree. It has a bar like black velvet from the
eyes to the beak; its legs are yellow; its throat, wings and tail
black; all the rest of the body a charming blue. Chiefly in the dry
savannas, and here and there accidentally in the forest, you see a
songless yawaraciri still lovelier than the last: his crown is whitish
blue, arrayed like a coat of mail; his tail is black, his wings black
and yellow; legs red; and the whole body a glossy blue. Whilst roving
through the forest, ever and anon you see individuals of the wren
species busy amongst the fallen leaves, or seeking insects at the roots
of the trees.

Here, too, you find six or seven species of small birds whose backs
appear to be overloaded with silky plumage. One of these, with a
chestnut breast, smoke-coloured back, tail red, white feathers like
horns on his head, and white narrow-pointed feathers under the jaw,
feeds entirely upon ants. When a nest of large light-brown ants
emigrates, one following the other in meandering lines above a mile
long, you see this bird watching them and every now and then picking
them up. When they disappear he is seen no more: perhaps this is the
only kind of ant he is fond of. When these ants are stirring, you are
sure to find him near them. You cannot well mistake the ant after you
have once been in its company, for its sting is very severe, and you
can hardly shoot the bird and pick it up without having five or six
upon you.

Parrots and paroquets are very numerous here, and of many different
kinds. You will know when they are near you in the forest not only by
the noise they make, but also by the fruits and seeds which they let
fall while they are feeding.

The hia-hia parrot, called in England the parrot of the sun, is very
remarkable: he can erect at pleasure a fine radiated circle of tartan
feathers quite round the back of his head from jaw to jaw. The
fore-part of his head is white; his back, tail and wings green; and his
breast and belly tartan.

Superior in size and beauty to every parrot of South America, the ara
will force you to take your eyes from the rest of animated nature and
gaze at him: his commanding strength, the flaming scarlet of his body,
the lovely variety of red, yellow, blue and green in his wings, the
extraordinary length of his scarlet and blue tail, seem all to join and
demand for him the title of emperor of all the parrots. He is scarce in
Demerara till you reach the confines of the Macoushi country: there he
is in vast abundance. He mostly feeds on trees of the palm species.
When the coucourite-trees have ripe fruit on them they are covered with
this magnificent parrot. He is not shy or wary: you may take your
blow-pipe and quiver of poisoned arrows and kill more than you are able
to carry back to your hut. They are very vociferous, and, like the
common parrots, rise up in bodies towards sunset and fly two and two to
their place of rest. It is a grand sight in ornithology to see
thousands of aras flying over your head, low enough to let you have a
full view of their flaming mantle. The Indians find their flesh very
good, and the feathers serve for ornaments in their head-dresses. They
breed in the holes of trees, are easily reared and tamed, and learn to
speak pretty distinctly.

Another species frequents the low-lands of Demerara. He is nearly the
size of the scarlet ara, but much inferior in plumage. Blue and yellow
are his predominant colours.

Along the creeks and river-sides, and in the wet savannas, six species
of the bittern will engage your attention. They are all handsome, the
smallest not so large as the English water-hen.

In the savannas, too, you will sometimes surprise the snow-white egret,
whose back is adorned with the plumes from which it takes its name.
Here, too, the spur-winged water-hen, the blue and green water-hen and
two other species of ordinary plumage are found. While in quest of
these, the blue heron, the large and small brown heron, the boatbill
and muscovy duck now and then rise up before you.

When the sun has sunk in the western woods, no longer agitated by the
breeze; when you can only see a straggler or two of the feathered tribe
hastening to join its mate, already at its roosting-place, then it is
that the goat-sucker comes out of the forest, where it has sat all day
long in slumbering ease, unmindful of the gay and busy scenes around
it. Its eyes are too delicately formed to bear the light, and thus it
is forced to shun the flaming face of day and wait in patience till
night invites him to partake of the pleasures her dusky presence brings.

The harmless, unoffending goat-sucker, from the time of Aristotle down
to the present day, has been in disgrace with man. Father has handed
down to son, and author to author, that this nocturnal thief subsists
by milking the flocks. Poor injured little bird of night, how sadly
hast thou suffered, and how foul a stain has inattention to facts put
upon thy character! Thou hast never robbed man of any part of his
property nor deprived the kid of a drop of milk.

When the moon shines bright you may have a fair opportunity of
examining the goat-sucker. You will see it close by the cows, goats and
sheep, jumping up every now and then under their bellies. Approach a
little nearer--he is not shy: "he fears no danger, for he knows no
sin." See how the nocturnal flies are tormenting the herd, and with
what dexterity he springs up and catches them as fast as they alight on
the belly, legs and udder of the animals. Observe how quiet they stand,
and how sensible they seem of his good offices, for they neither strike
at him nor hit him with their tail, nor tread on him, nor try to drive
him away as an uncivil intruder. Were you to dissect him, and inspect
his stomach, you would find no milk there. It is full of the flies
which have been annoying the herd.

The prettily-mottled plumage of the goat-sucker, like that of the owl,
wants the lustre which is observed in the feathers of the birds of day.
This at once marks him as a lover of the pale moon's nightly beams.
There are nine species here. The largest appears nearly the size of the
English wood-owl. Its cry is so remarkable that, having once heard it,
you will never forget it. When night reigns over these immeasurable
wilds, whilst lying in your hammock you will hear this goat-sucker
lamenting like one in deep distress. A stranger would never conceive it
to be the cry of a bird. He would say it was the departing voice of a
midnight murdered victim or the last wailing of Niobe for her poor
children before she was turned into stone. Suppose yourself in hopeless
sorrow, begin with a high loud note, and pronounce "ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,
ha, ha," each note lower and lower, till the last is scarcely heard,
pausing a moment or two betwixt every note, and you will have some idea
of the moaning of the largest goat-sucker in Demerara.

Four other species of the goat-sucker articulate some words so
distinctly that they have received their names from the sentences they
utter, and absolutely bewilder the stranger on his arrival in these
parts. The most common one sits down close by your door, and flies and
alights three or four yards before you, as you walk along the road,
crying, "Who-are-you, who-who-who-are-you." Another bids you
"Work-away, work-work-work-away." A third cries, mournfully,
"Willy-come-go, willy-willy-willy-come-go." And high up in the country
a fourth tells you to "Whip-poor-will, whip-whip-whip-poor-will."

You will never persuade the negro to destroy these birds or get the
Indian to let fly his arrow at them. They are birds of omen and
reverential dread. Jumbo, the demon of Africa, has them under his
command, and they equally obey the Yabahou, or Demerara Indian devil.
They are the receptacles for departed souls, who come back again to
earth, unable to rest for crimes done in their days of nature; or they
are expressly sent by Jumbo, or Yabahou, to haunt cruel and
hard-hearted masters and retaliate injuries received from them. If the
largest goat-sucker chance to cry near the white man's door, sorrow and
grief will soon be inside: and they expect to see the master waste away
with a slow consuming sickness. If it be heard close to the negro's or
Indian's hut, from that night misfortune sits brooding over it: and
they await the event in terrible suspense.

You will forgive the poor Indian of Guiana for this. He knows no
better; he has nobody to teach him. But shame it is that in our own
civilised country the black cat and broomstaff should be considered as
conductors to and from the regions of departed spirits.

Many years ago I knew poor harmless Mary: old age had marked her
strongly, just as he will mark you and me, should we arrive at her
years and carry the weight of grief which bent her double. The old men
of the village said she had been very pretty in her youth, and nothing
could be seen more comely than Mary when she danced on the green. He
who had gained her heart left her for another, less fair, though
richer, than Mary. From that time she became sad and pensive; the rose
left her cheek, and she was never more seen to dance round the maypole
on the green. Her expectations were blighted; she became quite
indifferent to everything around her, and seemed to think of nothing
but how she could best attend her mother, who was lame and not long for
this life. Her mother had begged a black kitten from some boys who were
going to drown it, and in her last illness she told Mary to be kind to
it for her sake.

When age and want had destroyed the symmetry of Mary's fine form, the
village began to consider her as one who had dealings with spirits: her
cat confirmed the suspicion. If a cow died, or a villager wasted away
with an unknown complaint, Mary and her cat had it to answer for. Her
broom sometimes served her for a walking-stick: and if ever she
supported her tottering frame with it as far as the maypole, where
once, in youthful bloom and beauty, she had attracted the eyes of all,
the boys would surround her and make sport of her, while her cat had
neither friend nor safety beyond the cottage-wall. Nobody considered it
cruel or uncharitable to torment a witch; and it is probable, long
before this, that cruelty, old age and want have worn her out, and that
both poor Mary and her cat have ceased to be.

Would you wish to pursue the different species of game, well-stored and
boundless is your range in Demerara. Here no one dogs you, and
afterwards clandestinely inquires if you have a hundred a year in land
to entitle you to enjoy such patrician sport. Here no saucy intruder
asks if you have taken out a licence, by virtue of which you are
allowed to kill the birds which have bred upon your own property. Here

  You are as free as when God first made man,
  Ere the vile laws of servitude began,
  And wild in woods the noble savage ran.

Before the morning's dawn you hear a noise in the forest which sounds
like "duraquaura" often repeated. This is the partridge, a little
smaller than and differing somewhat in colour from the English
partridge: it lives entirely in the forest, and probably the young
brood very soon leaves its parents, as you never flush more than two
birds in the same place, and in general only one.

About the same hour, and sometimes even at midnight, you hear two
species of maam, or tinamou, send forth their long and plaintive
whistle from the depth of the forest. The flesh of both is delicious.
The largest is plumper, and almost equals in size the blackcock of
Northumberland. The quail is said to be here, though rare.

The hannaquoi, which some have compared to the pheasant, though with
little reason, is very common.

Here are also two species of the powise, or hocco, and two of the small
wild turkeys called maroudi: they feed on the ripe fruits of the forest
and are found in all directions in these extensive wilds. You will
admire the horned screamer as a stately and majestic bird: he is almost
the size of the turkey-cock, on his head is a long slender horn, and
each wing is armed with a strong, sharp, triangular spur an inch long.

Sometimes you will fall in with flocks of two or three hundred
waracabas, or trumpeters, called so from the singular noise they
produce. Their breast is adorned with beautiful changing blue and
purple feathers; their head and neck like velvet; their wings and back
grey, and belly black. They run with great swiftness, and when
domesticated attend their master in his walks with as much apparent
affection as his dog. They have no spurs, but still, such is their high
spirit and activity, they browbeat every dunghill fowl in the yard and
force the guinea-birds, dogs and turkeys to own their superiority.

If, kind and gentle reader, thou shouldst ever visit these regions with
an intention to examine their productions, perhaps the few observations
contained in these wanderings may be of service to thee. Excuse their
brevity: more could have been written, and each bird more particularly
described, but it would have been pressing too hard upon thy time and
patience.

Soon after arriving in these parts thou wilt find that the species here
enumerated are only as a handful from a well-stored granary. Nothing
has been said of the eagles, the falcons, the hawks and shrikes;
nothing of the different species of vultures, the king of which is very
handsome, and seems to be the only bird which claims regal honours from
a surrounding tribe. It is a fact beyond all dispute that, when the
scent of carrion has drawn together hundreds of the common vultures,
they all retire from the carcass as soon as the king of the vultures
makes his appearance. When his majesty has satisfied the cravings of
his royal stomach with the choicest bits from the most stinking and
corrupted parts, he generally retires to a neighbouring tree, and then
the common vultures return in crowds to gobble down his leavings. The
Indians, as well as the whites, have observed this, for when one of
them, who has learned a little English, sees the king, and wishes you
to have a proper notion of the bird, he says: "There is the governor of
the carrion-crows."

Now the Indians have never heard of a personage in Demerara higher than
that of governor; and the colonists, through a common mistake, call the
vultures carrion-crows. Hence the Indian, in order to express the
dominion of this bird over the common vultures, tells you he is
governor of the carrion-crows. The Spaniards have also observed it, for
through all the Spanish Main he is called Rey de Zamuros, king of the
vultures. The many species of owls, too, have not been noticed; and no
mention made of the columbine tribe. The prodigious variety of
water-fowl on the sea-shore has been but barely hinted at.

There, and on the borders and surface of the inland waters, in the
marshes and creeks, besides the flamingos, scarlet curlews and
spoonbills already mentioned, will be found greenish-brown curlews,
sandpipers, rails, coots, gulls, pelicans, jabirus, nandapoas,
crabiers, snipes, plovers, ducks, geese, cranes and anhingas; most of
them in vast abundance; some frequenting only the sea-coast, others
only the interior, according to their different natures; all worthy the
attention of the naturalist, all worthy of a place in the cabinet of
the curious.

Should thy comprehensive genius not confine itself to birds alone,
grand is the appearance of other objects all around. Thou art in a land
rich in botany and mineralogy, rich in zoology and entomology.
Animation will glow in thy looks and exercise will brace thy frame in
vigour. The very time of thy absence from the tables of heterogeneous
luxury will be profitable to thy stomach, perhaps already sorely
drenched with Londo-Parisian sauces, and a new stock of health will
bring thee an appetite to relish the wholesome food of the chase.
Never-failing sleep will wait on thee at the time she comes to soothe
the rest of animated nature, and ere the sun's rays appear in the
horizon thou wilt spring from thy hammock fresh as the April lark. Be
convinced also that the dangers and difficulties which are generally
supposed to accompany the traveller in his journey through distant
regions are not half so numerous or dreadful as they are commonly
thought to be.

The youth who incautiously reels into the lobby of Drury Lane after
leaving the table sacred to the god of wine is exposed to more certain
ruin, sickness and decay than he who wanders a whole year in the wilds
of Demerara. But this will never be believed because the disasters
arising from dissipation are so common and frequent in civilised life
that man becomes quite habituated to them, and sees daily victims sink
into the tomb long before their time without ever once taking alarm at
the causes which precipitated them headlong into it.

But the dangers which a traveller exposes himself to in foreign parts
are novel, out-of-the-way things to a man at home. The remotest
apprehension of meeting a tremendous tiger, of being carried off by a
flying dragon, or having his bones picked by a famished cannibal: oh,
that makes him shudder. It sounds in his ears like the bursting of a
bombshell. Thank Heaven he is safe by his own fireside.

Prudence and resolution ought to be the traveller's constant
companions. The first will cause him to avoid a number of snares which
he will find in the path as he journeys on; and the second will always
lend a hand to assist him if he has unavoidably got entangled in them.
The little distinctions which have been shown him at his own home ought
to be forgotten when he travels over the world at large, for strangers
know nothing of his former merits, and it is necessary that they should
witness them before they pay him the tribute which he was wont to
receive within his own doors. Thus to be kind and affable to those we
meet, to mix in their amusements, to pay a compliment or two to their
manners and customs, to respect their elders, to give a little to their
distressed and needy, and to feel, as it were, at home amongst them, is
the sure way to enable you to pass merrily on, and to find other
comforts as sweet and palatable as those which you were accustomed to
partake of amongst your friends and acquaintance in your own native
land.

We will now ascend in fancy on Icarian wing and take a view of Guiana
in general. See an immense plain! betwixt two of the largest rivers in
the world, level as a bowling-green, save at Cayenne, and covered with
trees along the coast quite to the Atlantic wave, except where the
plantations make a little vacancy amongst the foliage.

Though nearly in the centre of the Torrid Zone, the sun's rays are not
so intolerable as might be imagined, on account of the perpetual
verdure and refreshing north-east breeze. See what numbers of broad and
rapid rivers intersect it in their journey to the ocean, and that not a
stone or a pebble is to be found on their banks, or in any part of the
country, till your eye catches the hills in the interior. How beautiful
and magnificent are the lakes in the heart of the forests, and how
charming the forests themselves, for miles after miles on each side of
the rivers! How extensive appear the savannas or natural meadows,
teeming with innumerable herds of cattle, where the Portuguese and
Spaniards are settled, but desert as Saara where the English and Dutch
claim dominion! How gradually the face of the country rises! See the
sandhills all clothed in wood first emerging from the level, then hills
a little higher, rugged with bold and craggy rocks, peeping out from
amongst the most luxuriant timber. Then come plains and dells and
far-extending valleys, arrayed in richest foliage; and beyond them
mountains piled on mountains, some bearing prodigious forests, others
of bleak and barren aspect. Thus your eye wanders on over scenes of
varied loveliness and grandeur, till it rests on the stupendous
pinnacles of the long-continued Cordilleras de los Andes, which rise in
towering majesty and command all America.

How fertile must the low-lands be from the accumulation of fallen
leaves and trees for centuries! How propitious the swamps and slimy
beds of the rivers, heated by a downward sun, to the amazing growth of
alligators, serpents and innumerable insects! How inviting the forests
to the feathered tribes, where you see buds, blossoms, green and ripe
fruit, full grown and fading leaves all on the same tree! How secure
the wild beasts may rove in endless mazes! Perhaps those mountains,
too, which appear so bleak and naked, as if quite neglected, are, like
Potosi, full of precious metals.

Let us now return the pinions we borrowed from Icarus, and prepare to
bid farewell to the wilds. The time allotted to these wanderings is
drawing fast to a close. Every day for the last six months has been
employed in paying close attention to natural history in the forests of
Demerara. Above two hundred specimens of the finest birds have been
collected and a pretty just knowledge formed of their haunts and
economy. From the time of leaving England, in March 1816, to the
present day, nothing has intervened to arrest a fine flow of health,
saving a quartan ague which did not tarry, but fled as suddenly as it
appeared.

And now I take leave of thee, kind and gentle reader. The new mode of
preserving birds heretofore promised thee shall not be forgotten. The
plan is already formed in imagination, and can be penned down during
the passage across the Atlantic. If the few remarks in these wanderings
shall have any weight in inciting thee to sally forth and explore the
vast and well-stored regions of Demerara, I have gained my end. Adieu.

CHARLES WATERTON.

_April 6, 1817._


       *       *       *       *       *



THIRD JOURNEY

  Desertosque videre locos, littusque relictum.

Gentle reader, after staying a few months in England, I strayed across
the Alps and the Apennines, and returned home, but could not tarry.
Guiana still whispered in my ear, and seemed to invite me once more to
wander through her distant forests.

Shouldst thou have a leisure hour to read what follows, I pray thee
pardon the frequent use of that unwelcome monosyllable _I_. It could
not well be avoided, as will be seen in the sequel. In February 1820 I
sailed from the Clyde, on board the _Glenbervie_, a fine West-Indiaman.
She was driven to the north-west of Ireland, and had to contend with a
foul and wintry wind for above a fortnight. At last it changed, and we
had a pleasant passage across the Atlantic.

Sad and mournful was the story we heard on entering the River Demerara.
The yellow fever had swept off numbers of the old inhabitants, and the
mortal remains of many a new-comer were daily passing down the streets
in slow and mute procession to their last resting-place.

After staying a few days in the town, I went up the Demerara to the
former habitation of my worthy friend Mr. Edmonstone, in Mibiri Creek.

The house had been abandoned for some years. On arriving at the hill,
the remembrance of scenes long past and gone naturally broke in upon
the mind. All was changed: the house was in ruins and gradually sinking
under the influence of the sun and rain; the roof had nearly fallen in;
and the room, where once governors and generals had caroused, was now
dismantled and tenanted by the vampire. You would have said:

  'Tis now the vampire's bleak abode,
  'Tis now the apartment of the toad:
  'Tis here the painful chegoe feeds,
  'Tis here the dire labarri breeds
  Conceal'd in ruins, moss, and weeds.

On the outside of the house Nature had nearly reassumed her ancient
right: a few straggling fruit-trees were still discernible amid the
varied hue of the near-approaching forest; they seemed like strangers
lost and bewildered and unpitied in a foreign land, destined to linger
a little longer, and then sink down for ever.

I hired some negroes from a woodcutter in another creek to repair the
roof; and then the house, or at least what remained of it, became
headquarters for natural history. The frogs, and here and there a
snake, received that attention which the weak in this world generally
experience from the strong, and which the law commonly denominates an
ejectment. But here neither the frogs nor serpents were ill-treated:
they sallied forth, without buffet or rebuke, to choose their place of
residence--the world was all before them. The owls went away of their
own accord, preferring to retire to a hollow tree rather than to
associate with their new landlord. The bats and vampires stayed with
me, and went in and out as usual.

It was upon this hill in former days that I first tried to teach John,
the black slave of my friend Mr. Edmonstone, the proper way to do
birds. But John had poor abilities, and it required much time and
patience to drive anything into him. Some years after this his master
took him to Scotland, where, becoming free, John left him, and got
employed in the Glasgow, and then the Edinburgh, Museum. Mr. Robert
Edmonstone, nephew to the above gentleman, had a fine mulatto capable
of learning anything. He requested me to teach him the art. I did so.
He was docile and active, and was with me all the time in the forest. I
left him there to keep up this new art of preserving birds and to
communicate it to others. Here, then, I fixed my headquarters, in the
ruins of this once gay and hospitable house. Close by, in a little hut
which, in times long past, had served for a store to keep provisions
in, there lived a coloured man and his wife, by name Backer. Many a
kind turn they did to me; and I was more than once a service to them
and their children, by bringing to their relief in time of sickness
what little knowledge I had acquired of medicine.

I would here, gentle reader, wish to draw thy attention, for a few
minutes, to physic, raiment and diet. Shouldst thou ever wander through
these remote and dreary wilds, forget not to carry with thee bark,
laudanum, calomel and jalap, and the lancet. There are no
druggist-shops here, nor sons of Galen to apply to in time of need. I
never go encumbered with many clothes. A thin flannel waistcoat under a
check shirt, a pair of trousers and a hat were all my wardrobe: shoes
and stockings I seldom had on. In dry weather they would have irritated
the feet and retarded me in the chase of wild beasts; and in the rainy
season they would have kept me in a perpetual state of damp and
moisture. I eat moderately, and never drink wine, spirits or fermented
liquors in any climate. This abstemiousness has ever proved a faithful
friend; it carried me triumphant through the epidemia at Malaga, where
death made such havoc about the beginning of the present century; and
it has since befriended me in many a fit of sickness brought on by
exposure to the noon-day sun, to the dews of night, to the pelting
shower and unwholesome food.

Perhaps it will be as well here to mention a fever which came on, and
the treatment of it: it may possibly be of use to thee, shouldst thou
turn wanderer in the tropics; a word or two also of a wound I got in
the forest, and then we will say no more of the little accidents which
sometimes occur, and attend solely to natural history. We shall have an
opportunity of seeing the wild animals in their native haunts,
undisturbed and unbroken in upon by man. We shall have time and leisure
to look more closely at them, and probably rectify some errors which,
for want of proper information or a near observance, have crept into
their several histories.

It was in the month of June, when the sun was within a few days of
Cancer, that I had a severe attack of fever. There had been a deluge of
rain, accompanied with tremendous thunder and lightning, and very
little sun. Nothing could exceed the dampness of the atmosphere. For
two or three days I had been in a kind of twilight state of health,
neither ill nor what you may call well: I yawned and felt weary without
exercise, and my sleep was merely slumber. This was the time to have
taken medicine, but I neglected to do so, though I had just been
reading: "O navis, referent in mare te novi fluctus, O quid agis?
fortiter occupa portum." I awoke at midnight: a cruel headache, thirst
and pain in the small of the back informed me what the case was. Had
Chiron himself been present he could not have told me more distinctly
that I was going to have a tight brush of it, and that I ought to meet
it with becoming fortitude. I dozed and woke and startled, and then
dozed again, and suddenly awoke thinking I was falling down a precipice.

The return of the bats to their diurnal retreat, which was in the
thatch above my hammock, informed me that the sun was now fast
approaching to the eastern horizon. I arose in languor and in pain, the
pulse at one hundred and twenty. I took ten grains of calomel and a
scruple of jalap, and drank during the day large draughts of tea, weak
and warm. The physic did its duty, but there was no remission of fever
or headache, though the pain of the back was less acute. I was saved
the trouble of keeping the room cool, as the wind beat in at every
quarter.

At five in the evening the pulse had risen to one hundred and thirty,
and the headache almost insupportable, especially on looking to the
right or left. I now opened a vein, and made a large orifice, to allow
the blood to rush out rapidly; I closed it after losing sixteen ounces.
I then steeped my feet in warm water and got into the hammock. After
bleeding the pulse fell to ninety, and the head was much relieved, but
during the night, which was very restless, the pulse rose again to one
hundred and twenty, and at times the headache was distressing. I
relieved the headache from time to time by applying cold water to the
temples and holding a wet handkerchief there. The next morning the
fever ran very high, and I took five more grains of calomel and ten of
jalap, determined, whatever might be the case, this should be the last
dose of calomel. About two o'clock in the afternoon the fever remitted,
and a copious perspiration came on: there was no more headache nor
thirst nor pain in the back, and the following night was comparatively
a good one. The next morning I swallowed a large dose of castor-oil: it
was genuine, for Louisa Backer had made it from the seeds of the trees
which grew near the door. I was now entirely free from all symptoms of
fever, or apprehensions of a return; and the morning after I began to
take bark, and continued it for a fortnight. This put all to rights.

The story of the wound I got in the forest and the mode of cure are
very short. I had pursued a redheaded woodpecker for above a mile in
the forest without being able to get a shot at it. Thinking more of the
woodpecker, as I ran along, than of the way before me, I trod upon a
little hardwood stump which was just about an inch or so above the
ground; it entered the hollow part of my foot, making a deep and
lacerated wound there. It had brought me to the ground, and there I lay
till a transitory fit of sickness went off. I allowed it to bleed
freely, and on reaching headquarters washed it well and probed it, to
feel if any foreign body was left within it. Being satisfied that there
was none, I brought the edges of the wound together and then put a
piece of lint on it, and over that a very large poultice, which was
changed morning, noon and night. Luckily Backer had a cow or two upon
the hill; now as heat and moisture are the two principal virtues of a
poultice, nothing could produce those two qualities better than fresh
cow-dung boiled: had there been no cows there I could have made out
with boiled grass and leaves. I now took entirely to the hammock,
placing the foot higher than the knee: this prevented it from
throbbing, and was, indeed, the only position in which I could be at
ease. When the inflammation was completely subdued I applied a wet
cloth to the wound, and every now and then steeped the foot in cold
water during the day, and at night again applied a poultice. The wound
was now healing fast, and in three weeks from the time of the accident
nothing but a scar remained: so that I again sallied forth sound and
joyful, and said to myself:

  I, pedes quo te rapiunt et aurae
  Dum favet sol, et locus, i secundo
  Omine, et conto latebras, ut olim,
                        Rumpe ferarum.

Now this contus was a tough, light pole eight feet long, on the end of
which was fixed an old bayonet. I never went into the canoe without it:
it was of great use in starting the beasts and snakes out of the hollow
trees, and in case of need was an excellent defence.

In 1819 I had the last conversation with Sir Joseph Banks. I saw with
sorrow that death was going to rob us of him. We talked much of the
present mode adopted by all museums in stuffing quadrupeds, and
condemned it as being very imperfect: still we could not find out a
better way, and at last concluded that the lips and nose ought to be
cut off and replaced with wax, it being impossible to make those parts
appear like life, as they shrink to nothing and render the stuffed
specimens in the different museums horrible to look at. The defects in
the legs and feet would not be quite so glaring, being covered with
hair.

I had paid great attention to this subject for above fourteen years;
still it would not do. However, one night, while I was lying in the
hammock and harping on the string on which hung all my solicitude, I
hit upon the proper mode by inference: it appeared clear to me that it
was the only true way of going to work, and ere I closed my eyes in
sleep I was able to prove to myself that there could not be any other
way that would answer. I tried it the next day, and succeeded according
to expectation.

By means of this process, which is very simple, we can now give every
feature back again to the animal's face after it has been skinned; and
when necessary stamp grief or pain, or pleasure, or rage, or mildness
upon it. But more of this hereafter.

Let us now turn our attention to the sloth, whose native haunts have
hitherto been so little known and probably little looked into. Those
who have written on this singular animal have remarked that he is in a
perpetual state of pain, that he is proverbially slow in his movements,
that he is a prisoner in space, and that, as soon as he has consumed
all the leaves of the tree upon which he had mounted, he rolls himself
up in the form of a ball and then falls to the ground. This is not the
case.

If the naturalists who have written the history of the sloth had gone
into the wilds in order to examine his haunts and economy, they would
not have drawn the foregoing conclusions. They would have learned that,
though all other quadrupeds may be described while resting upon the
ground, the sloth is an exception to this rule, and that his history
must be written while he is in the tree.

This singular animal is destined by Nature to be produced, to live and
to die in the trees; and to do justice to him naturalists must examine
him in this his upper element. He is a scarce and solitary animal, and
being good food he is never allowed to escape. He inhabits remote and
gloomy forests where snakes take up their abode, and where
cruelly-stinging ants and scorpions and swamps and innumerable thorny
shrubs and bushes obstruct the steps of civilised man. Were you to draw
your own conclusions from the descriptions which have been given of the
sloth, you would probably suspect that no naturalist has actually gone
into the wilds with the fixed determination to find him out and examine
his haunts, and see whether Nature has committed any blunder in the
formation of this extraordinary creature, which appears to us so
forlorn and miserable, so ill put together, and so totally unfit to
enjoy the blessings which have been so bountifully given to the rest of
animated nature; for, as it has formerly been remarked, he has no soles
to his feet, and he is evidently ill at ease when he tries to move on
the ground, and it is then that he looks up in your face with a
countenance that says: "Have pity on me, for I am in pain and sorrow."

It mostly happens that Indians and negroes are the people who catch the
sloth and bring it to the white man: hence it may be conjectured that
the erroneous accounts we have hitherto had of the sloth have not been
penned down with the slightest intention to mislead the reader or give
him an exaggerated history, but that these errors have naturally arisen
by examining the sloth in those places where Nature never intended that
he should be exhibited.

However, we are now in his own domain. Man but little frequents these
thick and noble forests, which extend far and wide on every side of us.
This, then, is the proper place to go in quest of the sloth. We will
first take a near view of him. By obtaining a knowledge of his anatomy
we shall be enabled to account for his movements hereafter, when we see
him in his proper haunts. His fore-legs, or, more correctly speaking,
his arms, are apparently much too long, while his hind-legs are very
short, and look as if they could be bent almost to the shape of a
corkscrew. Both the fore-and hind-legs, by their form and by the manner
in which they are joined to the body, are quite incapacitated from
acting in a perpendicular direction, or in supporting it on the earth,
as the bodies of other quadrupeds are supported by their legs. Hence,
when you place him on the floor, his belly touches the ground. Now,
granted that he supported himself on his legs like other animals,
nevertheless he would be in pain, for he has no soles to his feet, and
his claws are very sharp and long and curved; so that were his body
supported by his feet, it would be by their extremities, just as your
body would be were you to throw yourself on all-fours and try to
support it on the ends of your toes and fingers--a trying position.
Were the floor of glass, or of a polished surface, the sloth would
actually be quite stationary; but as the ground is generally rough,
with little protuberances upon it, such as stones, or roots of grass,
etc., this just suits the sloth, and he moves his fore-legs in all
directions, in order to find something to lay hold of; and when he has
succeeded he pulls himself forward, and is thus enabled to travel
onwards, but at the same time in so tardy and awkward a manner as to
acquire him the name of sloth.

Indeed his looks and his gestures evidently betray his uncomfortable
situation: and as a sigh every now and then escapes him, we may be
entitled to conclude that he is actually in pain.

Some years ago I kept a sloth in my room for several months. I often
took him out of the house and placed him upon the ground, in order to
have an opportunity of observing his motions. If the ground were rough,
he would pull himself forwards by means of his fore-legs at a pretty
good pace, and he invariably immediately shaped his course towards the
nearest tree. But if I put him upon a smooth and well-trodden part of
the road, he appeared to be in trouble and distress. His favourite
abode was the back of a chair and, after getting all his legs in a line
upon the topmost part of it, he would hang there for hours together,
and often with a low and inward cry would seem to invite me to take
notice of him.

The sloth, in its wild state, spends its whole life in trees, and never
leaves them but through force or by accident. An all-ruling Providence
has ordered man to tread on the surface of the earth, the eagle to soar
in the expanse of the skies, and the monkey and squirrel to inhabit the
trees: still these may change their relative situations without feeling
much inconvenience; but the sloth is doomed to spend his whole life in
the trees, and, what is more extraordinary, not _upon_ the branches,
like the squirrel and the monkey, but _under_ them. He moves suspended
from the branch, he rests suspended from it, and he sleeps suspended
from it. To enable him to do this he must have a very different
formation from that of any other known quadruped.

Hence his seemingly bungled conformation is at once accounted for; and
in lieu of the sloth leading a painful life, and entailing a melancholy
and miserable existence on its progeny, it is but fair to surmise that
it just enjoys life as much as any other animal, and that its
extraordinary formation and singular habits are but further proofs to
engage us to admire the wonderful works of Omnipotence.

It must be observed that the sloth does not hang head-downwards like
the vampire. When asleep he supports himself from a branch parallel to
the earth. He first seizes the branch with one arm, and then with the
other; and after that brings up both his legs, one by one, to the same
branch; so that all four are in a line: he seems perfectly at rest in
this position. Now had he a tail, he would be at a loss to know what to
do with it in this position: were he to draw it up within his legs it
would interfere with them, and were he to let it hang down it would
become the sport of the winds. Thus his deficiency of tail is a benefit
to him; it is merely an apology for a tail, scarcely exceeding an inch
and a half in length.

I observed, when he was climbing, he never used his arms both together,
but first one and then the other, and so on alternately. There is a
singularity in his hair, different from that of all other animals, and,
I believe, hitherto unnoticed by naturalists. His hair is thick and
coarse at the extremity, and gradually tapers to the root, where it
becomes fine as a spider's web. His fur has so much the hue of the moss
which grows on the branches of the trees that it is very difficult to
make him out when he is at rest.

The male of the three-toed sloth has a longitudinal bar of very fine
black hair on his back, rather lower than the shoulder-blades; on each
side of this black bar there is a space of yellow hair, equally fine;
it has the appearance of being pressed into the body, and looks exactly
as if it had been singed. If we examine the anatomy of his fore-legs,
we shall immediately perceive by their firm and muscular texture how
very capable they are of supporting the pendent weight of his body,
both in climbing and at rest; and, instead of pronouncing them a
bungled composition, as a celebrated naturalist has done, we shall
consider them as remarkably well calculated to perform their
extraordinary functions.

As the sloth is an inhabitant of forests within the tropics, where the
trees touch each other in the greatest profusion, there seems to be no
reason why he should confine himself to one tree alone for food, and
entirely strip it of its leaves. During the many years I have ranged
the forests I have never seen a tree in such a state of nudity; indeed,
I would hazard a conjecture that, by the time the animal had finished
the last of the old leaves, there would be a new crop on the part of
the tree he had stripped first, ready for him to begin again, so quick
is the process of vegetation in these countries.

There is a saying amongst the Indians that, when the wind blows, the
sloth begins to travel. In calm weather he remains tranquil, probably
not liking to cling to the brittle extremity of the branches, lest they
should break with him in passing from one tree to another; but as soon
as the wind rises the branches of the neighbouring trees become
interwoven, and then the sloth seizes hold of them and pursues his
journey in safety. There is seldom an entire day of calm in these
forests. The tradewind generally sets in about ten o'clock in the
morning, and thus the sloth may set off after breakfast, and get a
considerable way before dinner. He travels at a good round pace; and
were you to see him pass from tree to tree, as I have done, you would
never think of calling him a sloth.

Thus it would appear that the different histories we have of this
quadruped are erroneous on two accounts: first, that the writers of
them, deterred by difficulties and local annoyances, have not paid
sufficient attention to him in his native haunts; and secondly, they
have described him in a situation in which he was never intended by
Nature to cut a figure: I mean on the ground. The sloth is as much at a
loss to proceed on his journey upon a smooth and level floor as a man
would be who had to walk a mile in stilts upon a line of feather-beds.

One day, as we were crossing the Essequibo, I saw a large two-toed
sloth on the ground upon the bank. How he had got there nobody could
tell: the Indian said he had never surprised a sloth in such a
situation before. He would hardly have come there to drink, for both
above and below the place the branches of the trees touched the water,
and afforded him an easy and safe access to it. Be this as it may,
though the trees were not above twenty yards from him, he could not
make his way through the sand time enough to escape before we landed.
As soon as we got up to him he threw himself upon his back, and
defended himself in gallant style with his fore-legs. "Come, poor
fellow," said I to him, "if thou hast got into a hobble to-day, thou
shalt not suffer for it. I'll take no advantage of thee in misfortune;
the forest is large enough both for thee and me to rove in: go thy ways
up above, and enjoy thyself in these endless wilds; it is more than
probable thou wilt never have another interview with man. So fare thee
well." On saying this, I took a long stick which was lying there, held
it for him to hook on, and then conveyed him to a high and stately
mora. He ascended with wonderful rapidity, and in about a minute he was
almost at the top of the tree. He now went off in a side direction, and
caught hold of the branch of a neighbouring tree; he then proceeded
towards the heart of the forest. I stood looking on, lost in amazement
at his singular mode of progress. I followed him with my eye till the
intervening branches closed in betwixt us; and then I lost sight for
ever of the two-toed sloth. I was going to add that I never saw a sloth
take to his heels in such earnest: but the expression will not do, for
the sloth has no heels.

That which naturalists have advanced of his being so tenacious of life
is perfectly true. I saw the heart of one beat for half an hour after
it was taken out of the body. The wourali poison seems to be the only
thing that will kill it quickly. On reference to a former part of these
wanderings, it will be seen that a poisoned arrow killed the sloth in
about ten minutes.

So much for this harmless, unoffending animal. He holds a conspicuous
place in the catalogue of the animals of the new world. Though
naturalists have made no mention of what follows, still it is not less
true on that account. The sloth is the only quadruped known which
spends its whole life from the branch of a tree, suspended by his feet.
I have paid uncommon attention to him in his native haunts. The monkey
and squirrel will seize a branch with their fore-feet, and pull
themselves up, and rest or run upon it; but the sloth, after seizing
it, still remains suspended, and suspended moves along under the
branch, till he can lay hold of another. Whenever I have seen him in
his native woods, whether at rest or asleep or on his travels, I have
always observed that he was suspended from the branch of a tree. When
his form and anatomy are attentively considered, it will appear evident
that the sloth cannot be at ease in any situation where his body is
higher, or above, his feet. We will now take our leave of him.

In the far-extending wilds of Guiana the traveller will be astonished
at the immense quantity of ants which he perceives on the ground and in
the trees. They have nests in the branches four or five times as large
as that of the rook; and they have a covered way from them to the
ground. In this covered way thousands are perpetually passing and
repassing; and if you destroy part of it, they turn to and immediately
repair it.

Other species of ants again have no covered way, but travel exposed to
view upon the surface of the earth. You will sometimes see a string of
these ants a mile long, each carrying in its mouth, to its nest, a
green leaf the size of a sixpence. It is wonderful to observe the order
in which they move, and with what pains and labour they surmount the
obstructions of the path.

The ants have their enemies as well as the rest of animated nature.
Amongst the foremost of these stand the three species of ant-bears. The
smallest is not much larger than a rat; the next is nearly the size of
a fox; and the third a stout and powerful animal, measuring about six
feet from the snout to the end of the tail. He is the most inoffensive
of all animals, and never injures the property of man. He is chiefly
found in the inmost recesses of the forest, and seems partial to the
low and swampy parts near creeks, where the troely-tree grows. There he
goes up and down in quest of ants, of which there is never the least
scarcity; so that he soon obtains a sufficient supply of food with very
little trouble. He cannot travel fast; man is superior to him in speed.
Without swiftness to enable him to escape from his enemies, without
teeth, the possession of which would assist him in self-defence, and
without the power of burrowing in the ground, by which he might conceal
himself from his pursuers, he still is capable of ranging through these
wilds in perfect safety; nor does he fear the fatal pressure of the
serpent's fold or the teeth of the famished jaguar. Nature has formed
his fore-legs wonderfully thick and strong and muscular, and armed his
feet with three tremendous sharp and crooked claws. Whenever he seizes
an animal with these formidable weapons he hugs it close to his body,
and keeps it there till it dies through pressure or through want of
food. Nor does the ant-bear, in the meantime, suffer much from loss of
aliment, as it is a well-known fact that he can go longer without food
than, perhaps, any other animal, except the land-tortoise. His skin is
of a texture that perfectly resists the bite of a dog; his hinder-parts
are protected by thick and shaggy hair, while his immense tail is large
enough to cover his whole body.

The Indians have a great dread of coming in contact with the ant-bear
and, after disabling him in the chase, never think of approaching him
till he be quite dead. It is perhaps on account of this caution that
naturalists have never yet given to the world a true and correct
drawing of this singular animal, or described the peculiar position of
his fore-feet when he walks or stands. If, in taking a drawing from a
dead ant-bear, you judge of the position in which he stands from that
of all other terrestrial animals, the sloth excepted, you will be in
error. Examine only a figure of this animal in books of natural
history, or inspect a stuffed specimen in the best museums, and you
will see that the fore-claws are just in the same forward attitude as
those of a dog, or a common bear when he walks or stands. But this is a
distorted and unnatural position, and in life would be a painful and
intolerable attitude for the ant-bear. The length and curve of his
claws cannot admit of such a position. When he walks or stands his feet
have somewhat the appearance of a club-hand. He goes entirely on the
outer side of his fore-feet, which are quite bent inwards, the claws
collected into a point, and going under the foot. In this position he
is quite at ease, while his long claws are disposed of in a manner to
render them harmless to him and are prevented from becoming dull and
worn, like those of the dog, which would inevitably be the case did
their points come in actual contact with the ground; for his claws have
not that retractile power which is given to animals of the feline
species, by which they are enabled to preserve the sharpness of their
claws on the most flinty path. A slight inspection of the fore-feet of
the ant-bear will immediately convince you of the mistake artists and
naturalists have fallen into by putting his fore-feet in the same
position as those of other quadrupeds, for you will perceive that the
whole outer side of his foot is not only deprived of hair, but is hard
and callous: proof positive of its being in perpetual contact with the
ground. Now, on the contrary, the inner side of the bottom of his foot
is soft and rather hairy.

There is another singularity in the anatomy of the ant-bear, I believe
as yet unnoticed in the page of natural history. He has two very large
glands situated below the root of the tongue. From these is emitted a
glutinous liquid, with which his long tongue is lubricated when he puts
it into the ants' nests. These glands are of the same substance as
those found in the lower jaw of the woodpecker. The secretion from
them, when wet, is very clammy and adhesive, but on being dried it
loses these qualities, and you can pulverise it betwixt your finger and
thumb; so that in dissection, if any of it has got upon the fur of the
animal or the feathers of the bird, allow it to dry there, and then it
may be removed without leaving the least stain behind.

The ant-bear is a pacific animal. He is never the first to begin the
attack. His motto may be "Noli me tangere." As his habits and his
haunts differ materially from those of every other animal in the
forest, their interests never clash, and thus he might live to a good
old age, and die at last in peace, were it not that his flesh is good
food. On this account the Indian wages perpetual war against him and,
as he cannot escape by flight, he falls an easy prey to the poisoned
arrow shot from the Indian's bow at a distance. If ever he be closely
attacked by dogs, he immediately throws himself on his back, and if he
be fortunate enough to catch hold of his enemy with his tremendous
claws, the invader is sure to pay for his rashness with the loss of
life.

We will now take a view of the vampire. As there was a free entrance
and exit to the vampire in the loft where I slept, I had many a fine
opportunity of paying attention to this nocturnal surgeon. He does not
always live on blood. When the moon shone bright, and the fruit of the
banana-tree was ripe, I could see him approach and eat it. He would
also bring into the loft, from the forest, a green round fruit
something like the wild guava and about the size of a nutmeg. There was
something also in the blossom of the sawarri nut-tree which was
grateful to him, for on coming up Waratilla Creek, in a moonlight
night, I saw several vampires fluttering round the top of the
sawarri-tree, and every now and then the blossoms, which they had
broken off, fell into the water. They certainly did not drop off
naturally, for on examining several of them they appeared quite fresh
and blooming. So I concluded the vampires pulled them from the tree
either to get at the incipient fruit or to catch the insects which
often take up their abode in flowers.

The vampire, in general, measures about twenty-six inches from wing to
wing extended, though I once killed one which measured thirty-two
inches. He frequents old abandoned houses and hollow trees; and
sometimes a cluster of them may be seen in the forest hanging head
downwards from the branch of a tree.

Goldsmith seems to have been aware that the vampire hangs in clusters;
for in the _Deserted Village_, speaking of America, he says:

  And matted woods, where birds forget to sing,
  But silent bats in drowsy clusters cling.

The vampire has a curious membrane which rises from the nose, and gives
it a very singular appearance. It has been remarked before that there
are two species of vampire in Guiana, a larger and a smaller. The
larger sucks men and other animals; the smaller seems to confine
himself chiefly to birds. I learnt from a gentleman high up in the
River Demerara that he was completely unsuccessful with his fowls on
account of the small vampire. He showed me some that had been sucked
the night before, and they were scarcely able to walk.

Some years ago I went to the River Paumaron with a Scotch gentleman, by
name Tarbet. We hung our hammocks in the thatched loft of a planter's
house. Next morning I heard this gentleman muttering in his hammock,
and now and then letting fall an imprecation or two just about the time
he ought to have been saying his morning prayers. "What is the matter,
sir?" said I softly. "Is anything amiss?" "What's the matter?" answered
he surlily; "why, the vampires have been sucking me to death." As soon
as there was light enough I went to his hammock and saw it much stained
with blood. "There," said he, thrusting his foot out of the hammock,
"see how these infernal imps have been drawing my life's blood." On
examining his foot I found the vampire had tapped his great toe: there
was a wound somewhat less than that made by a leech; the blood was
still oozing from it; I conjectured he might have lost from ten to
twelve ounces of blood. Whilst examining it, I think I put him into a
worse humour by remarking that a European surgeon would not have been
so generous as to have blooded him without making a charge. He looked
up in my face, but did not say a word: I saw he was of opinion that I
had better have spared this piece of ill-timed levity.

It was not the last punishment of this good gentleman in the River
Paumaron. The next night he was doomed to undergo a kind of ordeal
unknown in Europe. There is a species of large red ant in Guiana
sometimes called ranger, sometimes coushie. These ants march in
millions through the country in compact order, like a regiment of
soldiers: they eat up every insect in their march; and if a house
obstruct their route, they do not turn out of the way, but go quite
through it. Though they sting cruelly when molested, the planter is not
sorry to see them in his house, for it is but a passing visit, and they
destroy every kind of insect-vermin that has taken shelter under his
roof.

Now in the British plantations of Guiana, as well as in Europe, there
is always a little temple dedicated to the goddess Cloacina. Our dinner
had chiefly consisted of crabs dressed in rich and different ways.
Paumaron is famous for crabs, and strangers who go thither consider
them the greatest luxury. The Scotch gentleman made a very capital
dinner on crabs; but this change of diet was productive of unpleasant
circumstances: he awoke in the night in that state in which Virgil
describes Caeleno to have been, viz. "faedissima ventris proluvies." Up
he got to verify the remark:

  Serius aut citius, sedem properamus ad unam.

Now, unluckily for himself and the nocturnal tranquillity of the
planter's house, just at that unfortunate hour the coushie-ants were
passing across the seat of Cloacina's temple. He had never dreamed of
this; and so, turning his face to the door, he placed himself in the
usual situation which the votaries of the goddess generally take. Had a
lighted match dropped upon a pound of gunpowder, as he afterwards
remarked, it could not have caused a greater recoil. Up he jumped and
forced his way out, roaring for help and for a light, for he was
worried alive by ten thousand devils. The fact is he had sat down upon
an intervening body of coushie-ants. Many of those which escaped being
crushed to death turned again, and in revenge stung the unintentional
intruder most severely. The watchman had fallen asleep, and it was some
time before a light could be procured, the fire having gone out; in the
meantime the poor gentleman was suffering an indescribable martyrdom,
and would have found himself more at home in the Augean stable than in
the planter's house.

I had often wished to have been once sucked by the vampire in order
that I might have it in my power to say it had really happened to me.
There can be no pain in the operation, for the patient is always asleep
when the vampire is sucking him; and as for the loss of a few ounces of
blood, that would be a trifle in the long run. Many a night have I
slept with my foot out of the hammock to tempt this winged surgeon,
expecting that he would be there, but it was all in vain; the vampire
never sucked me, and I could never account for his not doing so, for we
were inhabitants of the same loft for months together.

The armadillo is very common in these forests; he burrows in the
sandhills like a rabbit. As it often takes a considerable time to dig
him out of his hole, it would be a long and laborious business to
attack each hole indiscriminately without knowing whether the animal
were there or not. To prevent disappointment the Indians carefully
examine the mouth of the hole, and put a short stick down it. Now if,
on introducing the stick, a number of mosquitos come out, the Indians
know to a certainty that the armadillo is in it: whenever there are no
mosquitos in the hole there is no armadillo. The Indian having
satisfied himself that the armadillo is there by the mosquitos which
come out, he immediately cuts a long and slender stick and introduces
it into the hole. He carefully observes the line the stick takes, and
then sinks a pit in the sand to catch the end of it: this done, he puts
it farther into the hole, and digs another pit, and so on, till at last
he comes up with the armadillo, which had been making itself a passage
in the sand till it had exhausted all its strength through pure
exertion. I have been sometimes three-quarters of a day in digging out
one armadillo, and obliged to sink half a dozen pits seven feet deep
before I got up to it. The Indians and negroes are very fond of the
flesh, but I considered it strong and rank.

On laying hold of the armadillo you must be cautious not to come in
contact with his feet: they are armed with sharp claws, and with them
he will inflict a severe wound in self-defence. When not molested he is
very harmless and innocent: he would put you in mind of the hare in
Gay's fables:

  Whose care was never to offend,
  And every creature was her friend.

The armadillo swims well in time of need, but does not go into the
water by choice. He is very seldom seen abroad during the day; and when
surprised, he is sure to be near the mouth of his hole. Every part of
the armadillo is well protected by his shell, except his ears. In life
this shell is very limber, so that the animal is enabled to go at full
stretch or roll himself up into a ball, as occasion may require.

On inspecting the arrangement of the shell, it puts you very much in
mind of a coat of armour; indeed, it is a natural coat of armour to the
armadillo, and being composed both of scale and bone it affords ample
security, and has a pleasing effect.

Often, when roving in the wilds, I would fall in with the
land-tortoise; he too adds another to the list of unoffending animals.
He subsists on the fallen fruits of the forest. When an enemy
approaches he never thinks of moving, but quietly draws himself under
his shell and there awaits his doom in patience. He only seems to have
two enemies who can do him any damage: one of these is the
boa-constrictor--this snake swallows the tortoise alive, shell and all.
But a boa large enough to do this is very scarce, and thus there is not
much to apprehend from that quarter. The other enemy is man, who takes
up the tortoise and carries him away. Man also is scarce in these
never-ending wilds, and the little depredations he may commit upon the
tortoise will be nothing, or a mere trifle. The tiger's teeth cannot
penetrate its shell, nor can a stroke of his paws do it any damage. It
is of so compact and strong a nature that there is a common saying, a
London waggon might roll over it and not break it.

Ere we proceed, let us take a retrospective view of the five animals
just enumerated: they are all quadrupeds, and have some very particular
mark or mode of existence different from all other animals. The sloth
has four feet, but never can use them to support his body on the earth:
they want soles, which are a marked feature in the feet of other
animals. The ant-bear has not a tooth in his head, still he roves
fearless on in the same forests with the jaguar and boa-constrictor.
The vampire does not make use of his feet to walk, but to stretch a
membrane which enables him to go up into an element where no other
quadruped is seen. The armadillo has only here and there a straggling
hair, and has neither fur nor wool nor bristles, but in lieu of them
has received a movable shell on which are scales very much like those
of fishes. The tortoise is oviparous, entirely without any appearance
of hair, and is obliged to accommodate itself to a shell which is quite
hard and inflexible, and in no point of view whatever obedient to the
will or pleasure of the bearer. The egg of the tortoise has a very hard
shell, while that of the turtle is quite soft.

In some parts of these forests I saw the vanilla growing luxuriantly.
It creeps up the trees to the height of thirty or forty feet. I found
it difficult to get a ripe pod, as the monkeys are very fond of it, and
generally took care to get there before me. The pod hangs from the tree
in the shape of a little scabbard. _Vayna_ is the Spanish for a
scabbard, and _vanilla_ for a little scabbard. Hence the name.

In Mibiri Creek there was a cayman of the small species, measuring
about five feet in length; I saw it in the same place for months, but
could never get a shot at it, for, the moment I thought I was sure of
it, it dived under the water before I could pull the trigger. At last I
got an Indian with his bow and arrow: he stood up in the canoe with his
bow ready bent, and as we drifted past the place he sent his arrow into
the cayman's eye, and killed it dead. The skin of this little species
is much harder and stronger than that of the large kind; it is good
food, and tastes like veal.

My friend Mr. Edmonstone had very kindly let me have one of his old
negroes, and he constantly attended me: his name was Daddy Quashi. He
had a brave stomach for heterogeneous food; it could digest and relish,
too, caymen, monkeys, hawks and grubs. The Daddy made three or four
meals on this cayman while it was not absolutely putrid, and salted the
rest. I could never get him to face a snake; the horror he betrayed on
seeing one was beyond description. I asked him why he was so terribly
alarmed. He said it was by seeing so many dogs from time to time killed
by them.

Here I had a fine opportunity of examining several species of the
caprimulgus. I am fully persuaded that these innocent little birds
never suck the herds, for when they approach them, and jump up at their
udders, it is to catch the flies and insects there. When the moon shone
bright I would frequently go and stand within three yards of a cow, and
distinctly see the caprimulgus catch the flies on its udder. On looking
for them in the forest during the day, I either found them on the
ground, or else invariably sitting _longitudinally_ on the branch of a
tree, not _crosswise_, like all other birds.

The wasps, or maribuntas, are great plagues in these forests, and
require the naturalist to be cautious as he wanders up and down. Some
make their nests pendent from the branches; others have them fixed to
the underside of a leaf. Now, in passing on, if you happen to disturb
one of these, they sally forth and punish you severely. The largest
kind is blue: it brings blood where its sting enters, and causes pain
and inflammation enough to create a fever. The Indians make a fire
under the nest, and, after killing or driving away the old ones, they
roast the young grubs in the comb and eat them. I tried them once by
way of dessert after dinner, but my stomach was offended at their
intrusion; probably it was more the idea than the taste that caused the
stomach to rebel.

Time and experience have convinced me that there is not much danger in
roving amongst snakes and wild beasts, provided only that you have
self-command. You must never approach them abruptly; if so, you are
sure to pay for your rashness, because the idea of self-defence is
predominant in every animal, and thus the snake, to defend himself from
what he considers an attack upon him, makes the intruder feel the
deadly effect of his poisonous fangs. The jaguar flies at you, and
knocks you senseless with a stroke of his paw; whereas, if you had not
come upon him too suddenly, it is ten to one but that he had retired in
lieu of disputing the path with you. The labarri-snake is very
poisonous, and I have often approached within two yards of him without
fear. I took care to move very softly and gently, without moving my
arms, and he always allowed me to have a fine view of him without
showing the least inclination to make a spring at me. He would appear
to keep his eye fixed on me as though suspicious, but that was all.
Sometimes I have taken a stick ten feet long and placed it on the
labarri's back. He would then glide away without offering resistance.
But when I put the end of the stick abruptly to his head, he
immediately opened his mouth, flew at it, and bit it.

One day, wishful to see how the poison comes out of the fang of the
snake, I caught a labarri alive. He was about eight feet long. I held
him by the neck, and my hand was so near his jaw that he had not room
to move his head to bite it. This was the only position I could have
held him in with safety and effect. To do so it only required a little
resolution and coolness. I then took a small piece of stick in the
other hand and pressed it against the fang, which is invariably in the
upper jaw. Towards the point of the fang there is a little oblong
aperture on the convex side of it. Through this there is a
communication down the fang to the root, at which lies a little bag
containing the poison. Now, when the point of the fang is pressed, the
root of the fang also presses against the bag, and sends up a portion
of the poison therein contained. Thus, when I applied a piece of stick
to the point of the fang, there came out of the hole a liquor thick and
yellow, like strong camomile-tea. This was the poison which is so
dreadful in its effects as to render the labarri-snake one of the most
poisonous in the forests of Guiana. I once caught a fine labarri and
made it bite itself. I forced the poisonous fang into its belly. In a
few minutes I thought it was going to die, for it appeared dull and
heavy. However, in half an hour's time he was as brisk and vigorous as
ever, and in the course of the day showed no symptoms of being
affected. Is then the life of the snake proof against its own poison?
This subject is not unworthy of the consideration of the naturalist.

In Guiana there is a little insect in the grass and on the shrubs which
the French call bête-rouge. It is of a beautiful scarlet colour, and so
minute that you must bring your eye close to it before you can perceive
it. It is most numerous in the rainy season. Its bite causes an
intolerable itching. The best way to get rid of it is to rub the part
affected with oil or rum. You must be careful not to scratch it. If you
do so, and break the skin, you expose yourself to a sore. The first
year I was in Guiana the bête-rouge and my own want of knowledge, and,
I may add, the little attention I paid to it, created an ulcer above
the ankle which annoyed me for six months, and if I hobbled out into
the grass a number of bête-rouge would settle on the edges of the sore
and increase the inflammation.

Still more inconvenient, painful and annoying is another little pest
called the chegoe. It looks exactly like a very small flea, and a
stranger would take it for one. However, in about four and twenty hours
he would have several broad hints that he had made a mistake in his
ideas of the animal. It attacks different parts of the body, but
chiefly the feet, betwixt the toe-nails and the flesh. There it buries
itself, and at first causes an itching not unpleasant. In a day or so,
after examining the part, you perceive a place about the size of a pea,
somewhat discoloured, rather of a blue appearance. Sometimes it happens
that the itching is so trivial, you are not aware that the miner is at
work. Time, they say, makes great discoveries. The discoloured part
turns out to be the nest of the chegoe, containing hundreds of eggs,
which, if allowed to hatch there, the young ones will soon begin to
form other nests, and in time cause a spreading ulcer. As soon as you
perceive that you have got the chegoe in your flesh, you must take a
needle or a sharp-pointed knife and take it out. If the nest be formed,
great care must be taken not to break it, otherwise some of the eggs
remain in the flesh, and then you will soon be annoyed with more
chegoes. After removing the nest it is well to drop spirit of
turpentine into the hole: that will most effectually destroy any chegoe
that may be lurking there. Sometimes I have taken four nests out of my
feet in the course of the day.

Every evening, before sundown, it was part of my toilette to examine my
feet and see that they were clear of chegoes. Now and then a nest would
escape the scrutiny, and then I had to smart for it a day or two after.
A chegoe once lit upon the back of my hand; wishful to see how he
worked, I allowed him to take possession. He immediately set to work,
head foremost, and in about half an hour he had completely buried
himself in the skin. I then let him feel the point of my knife, and
exterminated him.

More than once, after sitting down upon a rotten stump, I have found
myself covered with ticks. There is a short and easy way to get quit of
these unwelcome adherents. Make a large fire and stand close to it, and
if you be covered with ticks they will all fall off.

Let us now forget for awhile the quadrupeds, serpents and insects, and
take a transitory view of the native Indians of these forests.

There are five principal nations or tribes of Indians in _ci-devant_
Dutch Guiana, commonly known by the name of Warow, Arowack, Acoway,
Carib and Macoushi. They live in small hamlets, which consist of a few
huts, never exceeding twelve in number. These huts are always in the
forest, near a river or some creek. They are open on all sides (except
those of the Macoushi), and covered with a species of palm-leaf.

Their principal furniture is the hammock. It serves them both for chair
and bed. It is commonly made of cotton; though those of the Warows are
formed from the æta-tree. At night they always make a fire close to it.
The heat keeps them warm, and the smoke drives away the mosquitos and
sand-flies. You sometimes find a table in the hut; but it was not made
by the Indians, but by some negro or mulatto carpenter.

They cut down about an acre or two of the trees which surround the
huts, and there plant pepper, papaws, sweet and bitter cassava,
plantains, sweet potatoes, yams, pine-apples and silk-grass. Besides
these, they generally have a few acres in some fertile part of the
forest for their cassava, which is as bread to them. They make earthen
pots to boil their provisions in; and they get from the white men flat
circular plates of iron on which they bake their cassava. They have to
grate the cassava before it is pressed preparatory to baking; and those
Indians who are too far in the wilds to procure graters from the white
men make use of a flat piece of wood studded with sharp stones. They
have no cows, horses, mules, goats, sheep or asses. The men hunt and
fish, and the women work in the provision-ground and cook their
victuals.

In each hamlet there is the trunk of a large tree hollowed out like a
trough. In this, from their cassava, they make an abominable ill-tasted
and sour kind of fermented liquor called piwarri. They are very fond of
it, and never fail to get drunk after every brewing. The frequency of
the brewing depends upon the superabundance of cassava.

Both men and women go without clothes. The men have a cotton wrapper,
and the women a bead-ornamented square piece of cotton about the size
of your hand for the fig-leaf. Those far away in the interior use the
bark of a tree for this purpose. They are a very clean people, and wash
in the river or creek at least twice every day. They paint themselves
with the roucou, sweetly perfumed with hayawa or accaiari. Their hair
is black and lank, and never curled. The women braid it up fancifully,
something in the shape of Diana's head-dress in ancient pictures. They
have very few diseases. Old age and pulmonary complaints seem to be the
chief agents for removing them to another world. The pulmonary
complaints are generally brought on by a severe cold, which they do not
know how to arrest in its progress by the use of the lancet. I never
saw an idiot amongst them, nor could I perceive any that were deformed
from their birth. Their women never perish in childbed, owing, no
doubt, to their never wearing stays.

They have no public religious ceremony. They acknowledge two superior
beings--a good one and a bad one. They pray to the latter not to hurt
them, and they are of opinion that the former is too good to do the man
injury. I suspect, if the truth were known, the individuals of the
village never offer up a single prayer or ejaculation. They have a kind
of a priest called a Pee-ay-man, who is an enchanter. He finds out
things lost. He mutters prayers to the evil spirit over them and their
children when they are sick. If a fever be in the village, the
Pee-ay-man goes about all night long howling and making dreadful
noises, and begs the bad spirit to depart. But he has very seldom to
perform this part of his duty, as fevers seldom visit the Indian
hamlets. However, when a fever does come, and his incantations are of
no avail, which I imagine is most commonly the case, they abandon the
place for ever and make a new settlement elsewhere. They consider the
owl and the goat-sucker as familiars of the evil spirit, and never
destroy them.

I could find no monuments or marks of antiquity amongst these Indians;
so that, after penetrating to the Rio Branco from the shores of the
Western Ocean, had anybody questioned me on this subject I should have
answered, I have seen nothing amongst these Indians which tells me that
they have existed here for a century; though, for aught I know to the
contrary, they may have been here before the Redemption, but their
total want of civilisation has assimilated them to the forests in which
they wander. Thus an aged tree falls and moulders into dust and you
cannot tell what was its appearance, its beauties, or its diseases
amongst the neighbouring trees; another has shot up in its place, and
after Nature has had her course it will make way for a successor in its
turn. So it is with the Indian of Guiana. He is now laid low in the
dust; he has left no record behind him, either on parchment or on a
stone or in earthenware to say what he has done. Perhaps the place
where his buried ruins lie was unhealthy, and the survivors have left
it long ago and gone far away into the wilds. All that you can say is,
the trees where I stand appear lower and smaller than the rest, and
from this I conjecture that some Indians may have had a settlement here
formerly. Were I by chance to meet the son of the father who moulders
here, he could tell me that his father was famous for slaying tigers
and serpents and caymen, and noted in the chase of the tapir and wild
boar, but that he remembers little or nothing of his grandfather.

They are very jealous of their liberty, and much attached to their own
mode of living. Though those in the neighbourhood of the European
settlements have constant communication with the whites, they have no
inclination to become civilised. Some Indians who have accompanied
white men to Europe, on returning to their own land have thrown off
their clothes and gone back into the forests.

In Georgetown, the capital of Demerara, there is a large shed, open on
all sides, built for them by order of Government. Hither the Indians
come with monkeys, parrots, bows and arrows, and pegalls. They sell
these to the white men for money, and too often purchase rum with it,
to which they are wonderfully addicted.

Government allows them annual presents in order to have their services
when the colony deems it necessary to scour the forests in quest of
runaway negroes. Formerly these expeditions were headed by Charles
Edmonstone, Esq., now of Cardross Park, near Dumbarton. This brave
colonist never returned from the woods without being victorious. Once,
in an attack upon the rebel-negroes' camp, he led the way and received
two balls in his body; at the same moment that he was wounded two of
his Indians fell dead by his side; he recovered, after his life was
despaired of, but the balls could never be extracted.

Since the above appeared in print I have had the account of this
engagement with the negroes in the forest from Mr. Edmonstone's own
mouth.

He received four slugs in his body, as will be seen in the sequel.

The plantations of Demerara and Essequibo are bounded by an almost
interminable extent of forest. Hither the runaway negroes repair, and
form settlements from whence they issue to annoy the colonists, as
occasion may offer.

In 1801 the runaway slaves had increased to an alarming extent. The
Governor gave orders that an expedition should be immediately organised
and proceed to the woods under the command of Charles Edmonstone, Esq.
General Hislop sent him a corporal, a sergeant and eleven men, and he
was joined by a part of the colonial militia and by sixty Indians. With
this force Mr. Edmonstone entered the forest and proceeded in a
direction towards Mahaica.

He marched for eight days through swamps and over places obstructed by
fallen trees and the bush-rope; tormented by myriads of mosquitos, and
ever in fear of treading on the poisonous snakes which can scarcely be
distinguished from the fallen leaves.

At last he reached a wooded sandhill, where the Maroons had entrenched
themselves in great force. Not expecting to come so soon upon them, Mr.
Edmonstone, his faithful man Coffee and two Indian chiefs found
themselves considerably ahead of their own party. As yet they were
unperceived by the enemy, but unfortunately one of the Indian chiefs
fired a random shot at a distant Maroon. Immediately the whole negro
camp turned out and formed themselves in a crescent in front of Mr.
Edmonstone. Their chief was an uncommonly fine negro, above six feet in
height; and his head-dress was that of an African warrior, ornamented
with a profusion of small shells. He advanced undauntedly with his gun
in his hand, and, in insulting language, called out to Mr. Edmonstone
to come on and fight him.

Mr. Edmonstone approached him slowly in order to give his own men time
to come up; but they were yet too far off for him to profit by this
manoeuvre. Coffee, who carried his master's gun, now stepped up behind
him, and put the gun into his hand, which Mr. Edmonstone received
without advancing it to his shoulder.

He was now within a few yards of the Maroon chief, who seemed to betray
some symptoms of uncertainty, for, instead of firing directly at Mr.
Edmonstone, he took a step sideways, and rested his gun against a tree;
no doubt with the intention of taking a surer aim. Mr. Edmonstone, on
perceiving this, immediately cocked his gun and fired it off, still
holding it in the position in which he had received it from Coffee. The
whole of the contents entered the negro's body, and he dropped dead on
his face.

The negroes, who had formed in a crescent, now in their turn fired a
volley, which brought Mr. Edmonstone and his two Indian chiefs to the
ground. The Maroons did not stand to reload, but, on Mr. Edmonstone's
party coming up, they fled precipitately into the surrounding forest.

Four slugs had entered Mr. Edmonstone's body. After coming to himself,
on looking around he saw one of the fallen Indian chiefs bleeding by
his side. He accosted him by name and said he hoped he was not much
hurt. The dying Indian had just strength enough to answer, "Oh
no,"--and then expired. The other chief was lying quite dead. He must
have received his mortal wound just as he was in the act of cocking his
gun to fire on the negroes; for it appeared that the ball which gave
him his death-wound had carried off the first joint of his thumb and
passed through his forehead. By this time his wife, who had accompanied
the expedition, came up. She was a fine young woman, and had her long
black hair fancifully braided in a knot on the top of her head,
fastened with a silver ornament. She unloosed it, and, falling on her
husband's body, covered it with her hair, bewailing his untimely end
with the most heart-rending cries.

The blood was now running out of Mr. Edmonstone's shoes. On being
raised up, he ordered his men to pursue the flying Maroons, requesting
at the same time that he might be left where he had fallen, as he felt
that he was mortally wounded. They gently placed him on the ground,
and, after the pursuit of the Maroons had ended, the corporal and
sergeant returned to their commander and formed their men. On his
asking what this meant, the sergeant replied, "I had the General's
orders, on setting out from town, not to leave you in the forest,
happen what might." By slow and careful marches, as much as the
obstructions in the woods would admit of, the party reached Plantation
Alliance, on the bank of the Demerara, and from thence it crossed the
river to Plantation Vredestein.

The news of the rencounter had been spread far and wide by the Indians,
and had already reached town. The General, Captains Macrai and
Johnstone and Doctor Dunkin proceeded to Vredestein. On examining Mr.
Edmonstone's wounds, four slugs were found to have entered the body:
one was extracted, the rest remained there till the year 1824, when
another was cut out by a professional gentleman of Port Glasgow. The
other two still remain in the body; and it is supposed that either one
or both have touched a nerve, as they cause almost continual pain. Mr.
Edmonstone has commanded fifteen different expeditions in the forest in
quest of the Maroons. The Colonial Government has requited his services
by freeing his property from all taxes and presenting him a handsome
sword and a silver urn, bearing the following inscription:

    Presented to CHARLES EDMONSTONE, Esq., by the Governor
    and Court of Policy of the Colony of Demerara, as a token of
    their esteem and the deep sense they entertain of the very great
    activity and spirit manifested by him, on various occasions, in
    his successful exertions for the internal security of the Colony.
   --_January 1st, 1809_.

I do not believe that there is a single Indian in _ci-devant_ Dutch
Guiana who can read or write, nor am I aware that any white man has
reduced their language to the rules of grammar; some may have made a
short manuscript vocabulary of the few necessary words, but that is
all. Here and there a white man, and some few people of colour, talk
the language well. The temper of the Indian of Guiana is mild and
gentle, and he is very fond of his children.

Some ignorant travellers and colonists call these Indians a lazy race.
Man in general will not be active without an object. Now when the
Indian has caught plenty of fish, and killed game enough to last him
for a week, what need has he to range the forest? He has no idea of
making pleasure-grounds. Money is of no use to him, for in these wilds
there are no markets for him to frequent, nor milliners' shops for his
wife and daughters; he has no taxes to pay, no highways to keep up, no
poor to maintain, nor army nor navy to supply; he lies in his hammock
both night and day (for he has no chair or bed, neither does he want
them), and in it he forms his bow and makes his arrows and repairs his
fishing-tackle. But as soon as he has consumed his provisions, he then
rouses himself and, like the lion, scours the forest in quest of food.
He plunges into the river after the deer and tapir, and swims across
it; passes through swamps and quagmires, and never fails to obtain a
sufficient supply of food. Should the approach of night stop his career
while he is hunting the wild boar, he stops for the night and continues
the chase the next morning. In my way through the wilds to the
Portuguese frontier I had a proof of this: we were eight in number, six
Indians, a negro and myself. About ten o'clock in the morning we
observed the feet-mark of the wild boars; we judged by the freshness of
the marks that they had passed that way early the same morning. As we
were not gifted, like the hound, with scent, and as we had no dog with
us, we followed their track by the eye. The Indian after game is as
sure with his eye as the dog is with his nose. We followed the herd
till three in the afternoon, then gave up the chase for the present,
made our fires close to a creek where there was plenty of fish, and
then arranged the hammocks. In an hour the Indians shot more fish with
their arrows than we could consume. The night was beautifully serene
and clear, and the moon shone as bright as day. Next morn we rose at
dawn, got breakfast, packed up, each took his burden, and then we put
ourselves on the track of the wild boars which we had been following
the day before. We supposed that they too would sleep that night in the
forest, as we had done; and thus the delay on our part would be no
disadvantage to us. This was just the case, for about nine o'clock
their feet-marks became fresher and fresher: we now doubled, our pace,
but did not give mouth like hounds. We pushed on in silence, and soon
came up with them: there were above one hundred of them. We killed six
and the rest took off in different directions. But to the point.

Amongst us the needy man works from light to dark for a maintenance.
Should this man chance to acquire a fortune, he soon changes his
habits. No longer under "strong necessity's supreme command," he
contrives to get out of bed betwixt nine and ten in the morning. His
servant helps him to dress, he walks on a soft carpet to his
breakfast-table, his wife pours out his tea, and his servant hands him
his toast. After breakfast the doctor advises a little gentle exercise
in the carriage for an hour or so. At dinner-time he sits down to a
table groaning beneath the weight of heterogeneous luxury: there he
rests upon a chair for three or four hours, eats, drinks and talks
(often unmeaningly) till tea is announced. He proceeds slowly to the
drawing-room, and there spends best part of his time in sitting, till
his wife tempts him with something warm for supper. After supper he
still remains on his chair at rest till he retires to rest for the
night. He mounts leisurely upstairs upon a carpet, and enters his
bedroom: there, one would hope that at least he mutters a prayer or
two, though perhaps not on bended knee. He then lets himself drop in to
a soft and downy bed, over which has just passed the comely Jenny's
warming-pan. Now, could the Indian in his turn see this, he would call
the white men a lazy, indolent set.

Perhaps, then, upon due reflection you would draw this conclusion: that
men will always be indolent where there is no object to rouse them.

As the Indian of Guiana has no idea whatever of communicating his
intentions by writing, he has fallen upon a plan of communication sure
and simple. When two or three families have determined to come down the
river and pay you a visit, they send an Indian beforehand with a string
of beads. You take one bead off every day, and on the day that the
string is beadless they arrive at your house.

In finding their way through these pathless wilds the sun is to them
what Ariadne's clue was to Theseus. When he is on the meridian they
generally sit down, and rove onwards again as soon as he has
sufficiently declined to the west; they require no other compass. When
in chase, they break a twig on the bushes as they pass by, every three
or four hundred paces, and this often prevents them from losing their
way on their return.

You will not be long in the forests of Guiana before you perceive how
very thinly they are inhabited. You may wander for a week together
without seeing a hut. The wild beasts, snakes, the swamps, the trees,
the uncurbed luxuriance of everything around you conspire to inform you
that man has no habitation here--man has seldom passed this way.

Let us now return to natural history. There was a person making
shingles with twenty or thirty negroes not far from Mibiri Hill. I had
offered a reward to any of them who would find a good-sized snake in
the forest and come and let me know where it was. Often had these
negroes looked for a large snake, and as often been disappointed.

One Sunday morning I met one of them in the forest, and asked him which
way he was going: he said he was going towards Waratilla Creek to hunt
an armadillo; and he had his little dog with him. On coming back, about
noon, the dog began to bark at the root of a large tree which had been
upset by the whirlwind and was lying there in a gradual state of decay.
The negro said he thought his dog was barking at an acouri which had
probably taken refuge under the tree, and he went up with an intention
to kill it; he there saw a snake, and hastened back to inform me of it.

The sun had just passed the meridian in a cloudless sky; there was
scarcely a bird to be seen, for the winged inhabitants of the forest,
as though overcome by heat, had retired to the thickest shade: all
would have been like midnight silence were it not for the shrill voice
of the pi-pi-yo, every now and then resounded from a distant tree. I
was sitting with a little Horace in my hand, on what had once been the
steps which formerly led up to the now mouldering and dismantled
building. The negro and his little dog came down the hill in haste, and
I was soon informed that a snake had been discovered; but it was a
young one, called the bush-master, a rare and poisonous snake.

I instantly rose up, and laying hold of the eight-foot lance which was
close by me, "Well, then, Daddy," said I, "we'll go and have a look at
the snake." I was barefoot, with an old hat, and check shirt, and
trousers on, and a pair of braces to keep them up. The negro had his
cutlass, and as we ascended the hill another negro, armed with a
cutlass, joined us, judging from our pace that there was something to
do. The little dog came along with us, and when we had got about half a
mile in the forest the negro stopped and pointed to the fallen tree:
all was still and silent. I told the negroes not to stir from the place
where they were, and keep the little dog in, and that I would go in and
reconnoitre.

I advanced up to the place slow and cautious. The snake was well
concealed, but at last I made him out; it was a coulacanara, not
poisonous, but large enough to have crushed any of us to death. On
measuring him afterwards he was something more than fourteen feet long.
This species of snake is very rare, and much thicker in proportion to
his length than any other snake in the forest. A coulacanara of
fourteen feet in length is as thick as a common boa of twenty-four.
After skinning this snake I could easily get my head into his mouth, as
the singular formation of the jaws admits of wonderful extension.

A Dutch friend of mine, by name Brouwer, killed a boa twenty-two feet
long with a pair of stag's horns in his mouth. He had swallowed the
stag, but could not get the horns down; so he had to wait in patience
with that uncomfortable mouthful till his stomach digested the body,
and then the horns would drop out. In this plight the Dutchman found
him as he was going in his canoe up the river, and sent a ball through
his head.

On ascertaining the size of the serpent which the negro had just found,
I retired slowly the way I came, and promised four dollars to the negro
who had shown it to me, and one to the other who had joined us. Aware
that the day was on the decline, and that the approach of night would
be detrimental to the dissection, a thought struck me that I could take
him alive. I imagined if I could strike him with the lance behind the
head, and pin him to the ground, I might succeed in capturing him. When
I told this to the negroes they begged and entreated me to let them go
for a gun and bring more force, as they were sure the snake would kill
some of us.

I had been at the siege of Troy for nine years, and it would not do now
to carry back to Greece "nil decimo nisi dedecus anno." I mean I had
been in search of a large serpent for years, and now having come up
with one it did not become me to turn soft. So, taking a cutlass from
one of the negroes, and then ranging both the sable slaves behind me, I
told them to follow me, and that I would cut them down if they offered
to fly. I smiled as I said this, but they shook their heads in silence
and seemed to have but a bad heart of it.

When we got up to the place the serpent had not stirred, but I could
see nothing of his head, and I judged by the folds of his body that it
must be at the farthest side of his den. A species of woodbine had
formed a complete mantle over the branches of the fallen tree, almost
impervious to the rain or the rays of the sun. Probably he had resorted
to this sequestered place for a length of time, as it bore marks of an
ancient settlement.

I now took my knife, determining to cut away the woodbine and break the
twigs in the gentlest manner possible, till I could get a view of his
head. One negro stood guard close behind me with the lance; and near
him the other with a cutlass. The cutlass which I had taken from the
first negro was on the ground close by me in case of need.

After working in dead silence for a quarter of an hour, with one knee
all the time on the ground, I had cleared away enough to see his head.
It appeared coming out betwixt the first and second coil of his body,
and was flat on the ground. This was the very position I wished it to
be in.

I rose in silence and retreated very slowly, making a sign to the
negroes to do the same. The dog was sitting at a distance in mute
observance. I could now read in the face of the negroes that they
considered this as a very unpleasant affair; and they made another
attempt to persuade me to let them go for a gun. I smiled in a
good-natured manner, and made a feint to cut them down with the weapon
I had in my hand. This was all the answer I made to their request, and
they looked very uneasy.

It must be observed we were now about twenty yards from the snake's
den. I now ranged the negroes behind me, and told him who stood next to
me to lay hold of the lance the moment I struck the snake, and that the
other must attend my movements. It now only remained to take their
cutlasses from them, for I was sure if I did not disarm them they would
be tempted to strike the snake in time of danger, and thus for ever
spoil his skin. On taking their cutlasses from them, if I might judge
from their physiognomy, they seemed to consider it as a most
intolerable act of tyranny in me. Probably nothing kept them from
bolting but the consolation that I was to be betwixt them and the
snake. Indeed, my own heart, in spite of all I could do, beat quicker
than usual; and I felt those sensations which one has on board a
merchant-vessel in war-time, when the captain orders all hands on deck
to prepare for action, while a strange vessel is coming down upon us
under suspicious colours.

We went slowly on in silence without moving our arms or heads, in order
to prevent all alarm as much as possible, lest the snake should glide
off or attack us in self-defence. I carried the lance perpendicularly
before me, with the point about a foot from the ground. The snake had
not moved; and on getting up to him I struck him with the lance on the
near-side, just behind the neck, and pinned him to the ground. That
moment the negro next to me seized the lance and held it firm in its
place, while I dashed head foremost into the den to grapple with the
snake and to get hold of his tail before he could do any mischief.

On pinning him to the ground with the lance he gave a tremendous loud
hiss, and the little dog ran away, howling as he went. We had a sharp
fray in the den, the rotten sticks flying on all sides, and each party
struggling for superiority. I called out to the second negro to throw
himself upon me, as I found I was not heavy enough. He did so, and the
additional weight was of great service. I had now got firm hold of his
tail; and after a violent struggle or two he gave in, finding himself
overpowered. This was the moment to secure him. So while the first
negro continued to hold the lance firm to the ground, and the other was
helping me, I contrived to unloose my braces and with them tied up the
snake's mouth.

The snake, now finding himself in an unpleasant situation, tried to
better himself, and set resolutely to work, but we overpowered him. We
contrived to make him twist himself round the shaft of the lance, and
then prepared to convey him out of the forest. I stood at his head and
held it firm under my arm, one negro supported the belly and the other
the tail. In this order we began to move slowly towards home, and
reached it after resting ten times: for the snake was too heavy for us
to support him without stopping to recruit our strength. As we
proceeded onwards with him he fought hard for freedom, but it was all
in vain. The day was now too far spent to think of dissecting him. Had
I killed him, a partial putrefaction would have taken place before
morning. I had brought with me up into the forest a strong bag large
enough to contain any animal that I should want to dissect. I
considered this the best mode of keeping live wild animals when I was
pressed for daylight; for the bag yielding in every direction to their
efforts, they would have nothing solid or fixed to work on, and thus
would be prevented from making a hole through it. I say fixed, for
after the mouth of the bag was closed the bag itself was not fastened
or tied to anything, but moved about wherever the animal inside caused
it to roll. After securing afresh the mouth of the coulacanara, so that
he could not open it, he was forced into this bag and left to his fate
till morning.

I cannot say he allowed me to have a quiet night. My hammock was in the
loft just above him, and the floor betwixt us half gone to decay, so
that in parts of it no boards intervened betwixt his lodging-room and
mine. He was very restless and fretful; and had Medusa been my wife,
there could not have been more continued and disagreeable hissing in
the bed-chamber that night. At daybreak I sent to borrow ten of the
negroes who were cutting wood at a distance; I could have done with
half that number, but judged it most prudent to have a good force, in
case he should try to escape from the house when we opened the bag.
However, nothing serious occurred.

We untied the mouth of the bag, kept him down by main force, and then I
cut his throat. He bled like an ox. By six o'clock the same evening he
was completely dissected. On examining his teeth I observed that they
were all bent like tenter-hooks, pointing down his throat, and not so
large or strong as I expected to have found them; but they are exactly
suited to what they are intended by Nature to perform. The snake does
not masticate his food, and thus the only service his teeth have to
perform is to seize his prey and hold it till he swallows it whole.

In general, the skins of snakes are sent to museums without the head:
for when the Indians and negroes kill a snake they seldom fail to cut
off the head, and then they run no risk from its teeth. When the skin
is stuffed in the museum a wooden head is substituted, armed with teeth
which are large enough to suit a tiger's jaw; and this tends to mislead
the spectator and give him erroneous ideas.

During this fray with the serpent the old negro, Daddy Quashi, was in
Georgetown procuring provisions, and just returned in time to help to
take the skin off. He had spent best part of his life in the forest
with his old master, Mr. Edmonstone, and amused me much in recounting
their many adventures amongst the wild beasts. The Daddy had a
particular horror of snakes, and frankly declared he could never have
faced the one in question.

The week following his courage was put to the test, and he made good
his words. It was a curious conflict, and took place near the spot
where I had captured the large snake. In the morning I had been
following a new species of paroquet, and, the day being rainy, I had
taken an umbrella to keep the gun dry, and had left it under a tree; in
the afternoon I took Daddy Quashi with me to look for it. Whilst he was
searching about, curiosity took me towards the place of the late scene
of action. There was a path where timber had formerly been dragged
along. Here I observed a young coulacanara, ten feet long, slowly
moving onwards. I saw he was not thick enough to break my arm, in case
he got twisted round it. There was not a moment to be lost. I laid hold
of his tail with the left hand, one knee being on the ground; with the
right I took off my hat, and held it as you would hold a shield for
defence.

The snake instantly turned and came on at me, with his head about a
yard from the ground, as if to ask me what business I had to take
liberties with his tail. I let him come, hissing and open-mouthed,
within two feet of my face, and then with all the force I was master of
I drove my fist, shielded by my hat, full in his jaws. He was stunned
and confounded by the blow, and ere he could recover himself I had
seized his throat with both hands in such a position that he could not
bite me. I then allowed him to coil himself round my body, and marched
off with him as my lawful prize. He pressed me hard, but not alarmingly
so.

In the meantime Daddy Quashi, having found the umbrella and having
heard the noise which the fray occasioned, was coming cautiously up. As
soon as he saw me and in what company I was, he turned about and ran
off home, I after him, and shouting to increase his fear. On scolding
him for his cowardice, the old rogue begged that I would forgive him,
for that the sight of the snake had positively turned him sick at
stomach.

When I had done with the carcass of the large snake it was conveyed
into the forest, as I expected that it would attract the king of the
vultures as soon as time should have rendered it sufficiently savoury.
In a few days it sent forth that odour which a carcass should send
forth, and about twenty of the common vultures came and perched on the
neighbouring trees. The king of the vultures came, too; and I observed
that none of the common ones seemed inclined to begin breakfast till
his majesty had finished. When he had consumed as much snake as Nature
informed him would do him good, he retired to the top of a high
mora-tree, and then all the common vultures fell to and made a hearty
meal.

The head and neck of the king of the vultures are bare of feathers; but
the beautiful appearance they exhibit fades in death. The throat and
the back of the neck are of a fine lemon colour; both sides of the
neck, from the ears downwards, of a rich scarlet; behind the corrugated
part there is a white spot. The crown of the head is scarlet; betwixt
the lower mandible and the eye and close by the ear there is a part
which has a fine silvery-blue appearance; the corrugated part is of a
dirty light brown; behind it and just above the white spot a portion of
the skin is blue, and the rest scarlet; the skin which juts out behind
the neck, and appears like an oblong caruncle, is blue in part and part
orange.

The bill is orange and black, the caruncles on his forehead orange, and
the cere orange; the orbits scarlet, and the irides white. Below the
bare part of the neck there is a cinereous ruff. The bag of the
stomach, which is only seen when distended with food, is of a most
delicate white, intersected with blue veins, which appear on it just
like the blue veins on the arm of a fair-complexioned person. The tail
and long wing-feathers are black, the belly white, and the rest of the
body a fine satin colour.

I cannot be persuaded that the vultures ever feed upon live animals,
not even upon lizards, rats, mice or frogs. I have watched them for
hours together, but never could see them touch any living animals,
though innumerable lizards, frogs and small birds swarmed all around
them. I have killed lizards and frogs, and put them in a proper place
for observation; as soon as they began to stink the aura vulture
invariably came and took them off. I have frequently observed that the
day after the planter had burnt the trash in a cane-field the aura
vulture was sure to be there, feeding on the snakes, lizards and frogs
which had suffered in the conflagration. I often saw a large bird (very
much like the common gregarious vulture, at a distance) catch and
devour lizards; after shooting one it turned out to be not a vulture
but a hawk, with a tail squarer and shorter than hawks have in general.
The vultures, like the goat-sucker and woodpecker, seem to be in
disgrace with man. They are generally termed a voracious, stinking,
cruel and ignoble tribe. Under these impressions the fowler discharges
his gun at them, and probably thinks he has done well in ridding the
earth of such vermin.

Some Governments impose a fine on him who kills a vulture. This is a
salutary law, and it were to be wished that other Governments would
follow so good an example. I would fain here say a word or two in
favour of this valuable scavenger.

Kind Providence has conferred a blessing on hot countries in giving
them the vulture; He has ordered it to consume that which, if left to
dissolve in putrefaction, would infect the air and produce a
pestilence. When full of food the vulture certainly appears an indolent
bird; he will stand for hours together on the branch of a tree, or on
the top of a house, with his wings drooping, and, after rain, with them
spread and elevated to catch the rays of the sun. It has been remarked
by naturalists that the flight of this bird is laborious. I have paid
attention to the vulture in Andalusia and to those in Guiana, Brazil,
and the West Indies, and conclude that they are birds of long, even and
lofty flight. Indeed, whoever has observed the aura vulture will be
satisfied that his flight is wonderfully majestic and of long
continuance.

This bird is above five feet from wing to wing extended. You will see
it soaring aloft in the aerial expanse on pinions which never flutter,
and which at the same time carry him through the fields of ether with a
rapidity equal to that of the golden eagle. In Paramaribo the laws
protect the vulture, and the Spaniards of Angustura never think of
molesting him. In 1808 I saw the vultures in that city as tame as
domestic fowls; a person who had never seen a vulture would have taken
them for turkeys. They were very useful to the Spaniards. Had it not
been for them, the refuse of the slaughter-houses in Angustura would
have caused an intolerable nuisance.

The common black, short, square-tailed vulture is gregarious, but the
aura vulture is not so; for though you may see fifteen or twenty of
them feeding on the dead vermin in a cane-field, after the trash has
been set fire to, still, if you have paid attention to their arrival,
you will have observed that they came singly and retired singly; and
thus their being altogether in the same field was merely accidental and
caused by each one smelling the effluvia as he was soaring through the
sky to look out for food. I have watched twenty come into a cane-field;
they arrived one by one, and from different parts of the heavens. Hence
we may conclude that, though the other species of vulture are
gregarious, the aura vulture is not.

If you dissect a vulture that has just been feeding on carrion, you
must expect that your olfactory nerves will be somewhat offended with
the rank effluvia from his craw; just as they would be were you to
dissect a citizen after the Lord Mayor's dinner. If, on the contrary,
the vulture be empty at the time you commence the operation, there will
be no offensive smell, but a strong scent of musk.

I had long wished to examine the native haunts of the cayman, but as
the River Demerara did not afford a specimen of the large kind, I was
obliged to go to the River Essequibo to look for one.

I got the canoe ready, and went down in it to Georgetown, where, having
put in the necessary articles for the expedition, not forgetting a
couple of large shark-hooks with chains attached to them, and a coil of
strong new rope, I hoisted a little sail which I had got made on
purpose, and at six o'clock in the morning shaped our course for the
River Essequibo. I had put a pair of shoes on to prevent the tar at the
bottom of the canoe from sticking to my feet. The sun was flaming hot,
and from eleven o'clock till two beat perpendicularly upon the top of
my feet, betwixt the shoes and the trousers. Not feeling it
disagreeable, or being in the least aware of painful consequences, as I
had been barefoot for months, I neglected to put on a pair of short
stockings which I had with me. I did not reflect that sitting still in
one place, with your feet exposed to the sun, was very different from
being exposed to the sun while in motion.

We went ashore in the Essequibo about three o'clock in the afternoon,
to choose a place for the night's residence, to collect firewood, and
to set the fish-hooks. It was then that I first began to find my legs
very painful: they soon became much inflamed and red and blistered; and
it required considerable caution not to burst the blisters, otherwise
sores would have ensued. I immediately got into the hammock, and there
passed a painful and sleepless night, and for two days after I was
disabled from walking.

About midnight, as I was lying awake and in great pain, I heard the
Indian say, "Massa, massa, you no hear tiger?" I listened attentively,
and heard the softly sounding tread of his feet as he approached us.
The moon had gone down, but every now and then we could get a glance of
him by the light of our fire. He was the jaguar, for I could see the
spots on his body. Had I wished to have fired at him I was not able to
take a sure aim, for I was in such pain that I could not turn myself in
my hammock. The Indian would have fired, but I would not allow him to
do so, as I wanted to see a little more of our new visitor, for it is
not every day or night that the traveller is favoured with an
undisturbed sight of the jaguar in his own forests.

Whenever the fire got low the jaguar came a little nearer, and when the
Indian renewed it he retired abruptly. Sometimes he would come within
twenty yards, and then we had a view of him sitting on his hind-legs
like a dog; sometimes he moved slowly to and fro, and at other times we
could hear him mend his pace, as if impatient. At last the Indian, not
relishing the idea of having such company in the neighbourhood, could
contain himself no longer, and set up a most tremendous yell. The
jaguar bounded off like a racehorse, and returned no more. It appeared
by the print of his feet the next morning that he was a full-grown
jaguar.

In two days after this we got to the first falls in the Essequibo.
There was a superb barrier of rocks quite across the river. In the
rainy season these rocks are for the most part under water, but it
being now dry weather we had a fine view of them, while the water from
the river above them rushed through the different openings in majestic
grandeur. Here, on a little hill jutting out into the river, stands the
house of Mrs. Peterson, the last house of people of colour up this
river. I hired a negro from her and a coloured man who pretended that
they knew the haunts of the cayman and understood everything about
taking him. We were a day in passing these falls and rapids, celebrated
for the pacou, the richest and most delicious fish in Guiana. The
coloured man was now in his element: he stood in the head of the canoe,
and with his bow and arrow shot the pacou as they were swimming in the
stream. The arrow had scarcely left the bow before he had plunged
headlong into the river and seized the fish as it was struggling with
it. He dived and swam like an otter, and rarely missed the fish he
aimed at.

Did my pen, gentle reader, possess descriptive powers, I would here
give thee an idea of the enchanting scenery of the Essequibo; but that
not being the case, thou must be contented with a moderate and
well-intended attempt.

Nothing could be more lovely than the appearance of the forest on each
side of this noble river. Hills rose on hills in fine gradation, all
covered with trees of gigantic height and size. Here their leaves were
of a lively purple, and there of the deepest green. Sometimes the
caracara extended its scarlet blossoms from branch to branch, and gave
the tree the appearance as though it had been hung with garlands.

This delightful scenery of the Essequibo made the soul overflow with
joy, and caused you to rove in fancy through fairyland; till, on
turning an angle of the river, you were recalled to more sober
reflections on seeing the once grand and towering mora now dead and
ragged in its topmost branches, while its aged trunk, undermined by the
rushing torrent, hung as though in sorrow over the river, which ere
long would receive it and sweep it away for ever.

During the day the trade-wind blew a gentle and refreshing breeze,
which died away as the night set in, and then the river was as smooth
as glass.

The moon was within three days of being full, so that we did not regret
the loss of the sun, which set in all its splendour. Scarce had he sunk
behind the western hills when the goat-suckers sent forth their soft
and plaintive cries; some often repeating, "Who are you--who, who, who
are you?" and others "Willy, willy, willy come go."

The Indian and Daddy Quashi often shook their head at this, and said
they were bringing talk from Yabahou, who is the Evil Spirit of the
Essequibo. It was delightful to sit on the branch of a fallen tree near
the water's edge and listen to these harmless birds as they repeated
their evening song; and watch the owls and vampires as they every now
and then passed up and down the river.

The next day, about noon, as we were proceeding onwards, we heard the
campanero tolling in the depth of the forest. Though I should not then
have stopped to dissect even a rare bird, having a greater object in
view, still I could not resist the opportunity offered of acquiring the
campanero. The place where he was tolling was low and swampy, and my
legs not having quite recovered from the effects of the sun, I sent the
Indian to shoot the campanero. He got up to the tree, which he
described as very high, with a naked top, and situated in a swamp. He
fired at the bird, but either missed it or did not wound it
sufficiently to bring it down. This was the only opportunity I had of
getting a campanero during this expedition. We had never heard one toll
before this morning, and never heard one after.

About an hour before sunset we reached the place which the two men who
had joined us at the falls pointed out as a proper one to find a
cayman. There was a large creek close by and a sandbank gently sloping
to the water. Just within the forest, on this bank, we cleared a place
of brushwood, suspended the hammocks from the trees, and then picked up
enough of decayed wood for fuel.

The Indian found a large land-tortoise, and this, with plenty of fresh
fish which we had in the canoe, afforded a supper not to be despised.

The tigers had kept up a continual roaring every night since we had
entered the Essequibo. The sound was awfully fine. Sometimes it was in
the immediate neighbourhood; at other times it was far off, and echoed
amongst the hills like distant thunder.

It may, perhaps, not be amiss to observe here that when the word tiger
is used it does not mean the Bengal tiger. It means the jaguar, whose
skin is beautifully spotted, and not striped like that of the tiger in
the East. It is, in fact, the tiger of the new world, and receiving the
name of tiger from the discoverers of South America it has kept it ever
since. It is a cruel, strong and dangerous beast, but not so courageous
as the Bengal tiger.

We now baited a shark-hook with a large fish, and put it upon a board
about a yard long and one foot broad which we had brought on purpose.
This board was carried out in the canoe, about forty yards into the
river. By means of a string long enough to reach the bottom of the
river, and at the end of which string was fastened a stone, the board
was kept, as it were, at anchor. One end of the new rope I had bought
in town was reeved through the chain of the shark-hook and the other
end fastened to a tree on the sandbank.

It was now an hour after sunset. The sky was cloudless, and the moon
shone beautifully bright. There was not a breath of wind in the
heavens, and the river seemed like a large plain of quicksilver. Every
now and then a huge fish would strike and plunge in the water; then the
owls and goat-suckers would continue their lamentations, and the sound
of these was lost in the prowling tiger's growl. Then all was still
again and silent as midnight.

The caymen were now upon the stir, and at intervals their noise could
be distinguished amid that of the jaguar, the owls, the goat-suckers
and frogs. It was a singular and awful sound. It was like a suppressed
sigh bursting forth all of a sudden, and so loud that you might hear it
above a mile off. First one emitted this horrible noise, and then
another answered him; and on looking at the countenances of the people
round me I could plainly see that they expected to have a cayman that
night.

We were at supper when the Indian, who seemed to have had one eye on
the turtle-pot and the other on the bait in the river, said he saw the
cayman coming. Upon looking towards the place there appeared something
on the water like a black log of wood. It was so unlike anything alive
that I doubted if it were a cayman; but the Indian smiled and said he
was sure it was one, for he remembered seeing a cayman some years ago
when he was in the Essequibo.

At last it gradually approached the bait, and the board began to move.
The moon shone so bright that we could distinctly see him open his huge
jaws and take in the bait. We pulled the rope. He immediately let drop
the bait; and then we saw his black head retreating from the board to
the distance of a few yards; and there it remained quite motionless.

He did not seem inclined to advance again; and so we finished our
supper. In about an hour's time he again put himself in motion, and
took hold of the bait. But probably suspecting that he had to deal with
knaves and cheats, he held it in his mouth but did not swallow it. We
pulled the rope again, but with no better success than the first time.

He retreated as usual, and came back again in about an hour. We paid
him every attention till three o'clock in the morning, when, worn out
with disappointment, we went to the hammocks, turned in and fell asleep.

When day broke we found that he had contrived to get the bait from the
hook, though we had tied it on with string. We had now no more hopes of
taking a cayman till the return of night. The Indian took off into the
woods and brought back a noble supply of game. The rest of us went into
the canoe and proceeded up the river to shoot fish. We got even more
than we could use.

As we approached the shallows we could see the large sting-rays moving
at the bottom. The coloured man never failed to hit them with his
arrow. The weather was delightful. There was scarcely a cloud to
intercept the sun's rays.

I saw several scarlet aras, anhingas and ducks, but could not get a
shot at them. The parrots crossed the river in innumerable quantities,
always flying in pairs. Here, too, I saw the sun-bird, called tirana by
the Spaniards in the Oroonoque, and shot one of them. The black and
white scarlet-headed finch was very common here. I could never see this
bird in the Demerara, nor hear of its being there.

We at last came to a large sandbank, probably two miles in
circumference. As we approached it we could see two or three hundred
fresh-water turtle on the edge of the bank. Ere we could get near
enough to let fly an arrow at them they had all sunk into the river and
appeared no more.

We went on the sandbank to look for their nests, as this was the
breeding-season. The coloured man showed us how to find them. Wherever
a portion of the sand seemed smoother than the rest there was sure to
be a turtle's nest. On digging down with our hands about nine inches
deep we found from twenty to thirty white eggs; in less than an hour we
got above two hundred. Those which had a little black spot or two on
the shell we ate the same day, as it was a sign that they were not
fresh, and of course would not keep; those which had no speck were put
into dry sand, and were good some weeks after.

At midnight two of our people went to this sandbank while the rest
stayed to watch the cayman. The turtle had advanced on to the sand to
lay their eggs, and the men got betwixt them and the water; they
brought off half a dozen very fine and well-fed turtle. The eggshell of
the fresh-water turtle is not hard like that of the land-tortoise, but
appears like white parchment, and gives way to the pressure of the
fingers; but it is very tough, and does not break. On this sandbank,
close to the forest, we found several guana's nests; but they had never
more than fourteen eggs apiece. Thus passed the day in exercise and
knowledge, till the sun's declining orb reminded us it was time to
return to the place from whence we had set out.

The second night's attempt upon the cayman was a repetition of the
first, quite unsuccessful. We went a-fishing the day after, had
excellent sport, and returned to experience a third night's
disappointment. On the fourth evening, about four o'clock, we began to
erect a stage amongst the trees close to the water's edge. From this we
intended to shoot an arrow into the cayman: at the end of this arrow
was to be attached a string which would be tied to the rope, and as
soon as the cayman was struck we were to have the canoe ready and
pursue him in the river.

While we were busy in preparing the stage a tiger began to roar. We
judged by the sound that he was not above a quarter of a mile from us,
and that he was close to the side of the river. Unfortunately the
Indian said it was not a jaguar that was roaring, but a couguar. The
couguar is of a pale, brownish-red colour, and not as large as the
jaguar. As there was nothing particular in this animal I thought it
better to attend to the apparatus for catching the cayman than to go in
quest of the couguar. The people, however, went in the canoe to the
place where the couguar was roaring. On arriving near the spot they saw
it was not a couguar, but an immense jaguar, standing on the trunk of
an aged mora-tree which bended over the river; he growled and showed
his teeth as they approached; the coloured man fired at him with a
ball, but probably missed him, and the tiger instantly descended and
took off into the woods. I went to the place before dark, and we
searched the forest for about half a mile in the direction he had fled,
but we could see no traces of him or any marks of blood; so I concluded
that fear had prevented the man from taking steady aim.

We spent best part of the fourth night in trying for the cayman, but
all to no purpose. I was now convinced that something was materially
wrong. We ought to have been successful, considering our vigilance and
attention, and that we had repeatedly seen the cayman. It was useless
to tarry here any longer; moreover, the coloured man began to take
airs, and fancied that I could not do without him. I never admit of
this in any expedition where I am commander; and so I convinced the
man, to his sorrow, that I could do without him, for I paid him what I
had agreed to give him, which amounted to eight dollars, and ordered
him back in his own curial to Mrs. Peterson's, on the hill at the first
falls. I then asked the negro if there were any Indian settlements in
the neighbourhood; he said he knew of one, a day and a half off. We
went in quest of it, and about one o'clock the next day the negro
showed us the creek where it was.

The entrance was so concealed by thick bushes that a stranger would
have passed it without knowing it to be a creek. In going up it we
found it dark, winding, and intricate beyond any creek that I had ever
seen before. When Orpheus came back with his young wife from Styx his
path must have been similar to this, for Ovid says it was

  Arduus, obliquus, caligine densus opaca,

and this creek was exactly so.

When we had got about two-thirds up it we met the Indians going
a-fishing. I saw by the way their things were packed in the curial that
they did not intend to return for some days. However, on telling them
what we wanted, and by promising handsome presents of powder, shot and
hooks, they dropped their expedition and invited us up to the
settlement they had just left, and where we laid in a provision of
cassava.

They gave us for dinner boiled ant-bear and red monkey: two dishes
unknown even at Beauvilliers in Paris or at a London city feast. The
monkey was very good indeed, but the ant-bear had been kept beyond its
time: it stunk as our venison does in England; and so, after tasting
it, I preferred dining entirely on monkey. After resting here we went
back to the river. The Indians, three in number, accompanied us in
their own curial, and, on entering the river, pointed to a place a
little way above well calculated to harbour a cayman. The water was
deep and still, and flanked by an immense sandbank; there was also a
little shallow creek close by.

On this sandbank, near the forest, the people made a shelter for the
night. My own was already made, for I always take with me a painted
sheet about twelve feet by ten. This thrown over a pole, supported
betwixt two trees, makes you a capital roof with very little trouble.

We showed one of the Indians the shark-hook. He shook his head and
laughed at it, and said it would not do. When he was a boy he had seen
his father catch the caymen, and on the morrow he would make something
that would answer.

In the meantime we set the shark-hook, but it availed us naught: a
cayman came and took it, but would not swallow it.

Seeing it was useless to attend the shark-hook any longer, we left it
for the night and returned to our hammocks.

Ere I fell asleep a reflection or two broke in upon me. I considered
that as far as the judgment of civilised man went, everything had been
procured and done to ensure success. We had hooks and lines and baits
and patience; we had spent nights in watching, had seen the cayman come
and take the bait, and after our expectations had been wound up to the
highest pitch all ended in disappointment. Probably this poor wild man
of the woods would succeed by means of a very simple process, and thus
prove to his more civilised brother that, notwithstanding books and
schools, there is a vast deal of knowledge to be picked up at every
step, whichever way we turn ourselves.

In the morning, as usual, we found the bait gone from the shark-hook.
The Indians went into the forest to hunt, and we took the canoe to
shoot fish and get another supply of turtle's eggs, which we found in
great abundance on this large sandbank.

We went to the little shallow creek, and shot some young caymen about
two feet long. It was astonishing to see what spite and rage these
little things showed when the arrow struck them; they turned round and
bit it: and snapped at us when we went into the water to take them up.
Daddy Quashi boiled one of them for his dinner, and found it very sweet
and tender. I do not see why it should not be as good as frog or veal.

The day was now declining apace, and the Indian had made his instrument
to take the cayman. It was very simple. There were four pieces of
tough, hardwood a foot long, and about as thick as your little finger,
and barbed at both ends; they were tied round the end of the rope in
such a manner that if you conceive the rope to be an arrow, these four
sticks would form the arrow's head; so that one end of the four united
sticks answered to the point of the arrowhead, while the other end of
the sticks expanded at equal distances round the rope, thus:

[Illustration]

Now it is evident that, if the cayman swallowed this (the other end of
the rope, which was thirty yards long, being fastened to a tree), the
more he pulled the faster the barbs would stick into his stomach. This
wooden hook, if you may so call it, was well-baited with the flesh of
the acouri, and the entrails were twisted round the rope for about a
foot above it.

Nearly a mile from where we had our hammocks the sandbank was steep and
abrupt, and the river very still and deep; there the Indian pricked a
stick into the sand. It was two feet long, and on its extremity was
fixed the machine: it hung suspended about a foot from the water, and
the end of the rope was made fast to a stake driven well into the sand.

The Indian then took the empty shell of a land-tortoise and gave it
some heavy blows with an axe. I asked why he did that. He said it was
to let the cayman hear that something was going on. In fact, the Indian
meant it as the cayman's dinner-bell.

[Illustration: cayman bait]

Having done this we went back to the hammocks, not intending to visit
it again till morning. During the night the jaguars roared and grumbled
in the forest as though the world was going wrong with them, and at
intervals we could hear the distant cayman. The roaring of the jaguars
was awful, but it was music to the dismal noise of these hideous and
malicious reptiles.

About half-past five in the morning the Indian stole off silently to
take a look at the bait. On arriving at the place he set up a
tremendous shout. We all jumped out of our hammocks and ran to him. The
Indians got there before me, for they had no clothes to put on, and I
lost two minutes in looking for my trousers and in slipping into them.

We found a cayman ten feet and a half long fast to the end of the rope.
Nothing now remained to do but to get him out of the water without
injuring his scales: "hoc opus, hic labor." We mustered strong: there
were three Indians from the creek, there was my own Indian Yan, Daddy
Quashi, the negro from Mrs. Peterson's, James, Mr. R. Edmonstone's man,
whom I was instructing to preserve birds, and lastly myself.

I informed the Indians that it was my intention to draw him quietly out
of the water and then secure him. They looked and stared at each other,
and said I might do it myself, but they would have no hand in it; the
cayman would worry some of us. On saying this, "consedere duces," they
squatted on their hams with the most perfect indifference.

The Indians of these wilds have never been subject to the least
restraint, and I knew enough of them to be aware that if I tried to
force them against their will they would take off and leave me and my
presents unheeded, and never return.

Daddy Quashi was for applying to our guns, as usual, considering them
our best and safest friends. I immediately offered to knock him down
for his cowardice, and he shrunk back, begging that I would be
cautious, and not get myself worried, and apologising for his own want
of resolution. My Indian was now in conversation with the others, and
they asked if I would allow them to shoot a dozen arrows into him, and
thus disable him. This would have ruined all. I had come above three
hundred miles on purpose to get a cayman uninjured, and not to carry
back a mutilated specimen. I rejected their proposition with firmness,
and darted a disdainful eye upon the Indians.

Daddy Quashi was again beginning to remonstrate, and I chased him on
the sandbank for a quarter of a mile. He told me afterwards he thought
he should have dropped down dead with fright, for he was firmly
persuaded if I had caught him I should have bundled him into the
cayman's jaws. Here, then, we stood in silence like a calm before a
thunderstorm. "Hoc res summa loco. Scinditur in contraria vulgus." They
wanted to kill him, and I wanted to take him alive.

I now walked up and down the sand, revolving a dozen projects in my
head. The canoe was at a considerable distance, and I ordered the
people to bring it round to the place where we were. The mast was eight
feet long, and not much thicker than my wrist. I took it out of the
canoe and wrapped the sail round the end of it. Now it appeared clear
to me that, if I went down upon one knee and held the mast in the same
position as the soldier holds his bayonet when rushing to the charge, I
could force it down the cayman's throat should he come open-mouthed at
me. When this was told to the Indians they brightened up, and said they
would help me to pull him out of the river.

"Brave squad!" said I to myself. "'Audax omnia perpeti,' now that you
have got me betwixt yourselves and danger." I then mustered all hands
for the last time before the battle. We were four South American
savages, two negroes from Africa, a creole from Trinidad, and myself a
white man from Yorkshire. In fact, a little tower of Babel group, in
dress, no dress, address, and language.

Daddy Quashi hung in the rear. I showed him a large Spanish knife which
I always carried in the waistband of my trousers: it spoke volumes to
him, and he shrugged up his shoulders in absolute despair. The sun was
just peeping over the high forests on the eastern hills, as if coming
to look on and bid us act with becoming fortitude. I placed all the
people at the end of the rope, and ordered them to pull till the cayman
appeared on the surface of the water, and then, should he plunge, to
slacken the rope and let him go again into the deep.

I now took the mast of the canoe in my hand (the sail being tied round
the end of the mast) and sunk down upon one knee, about four yards from
the water's edge, determining to thrust it down his throat in case he
gave me an opportunity. I certainly felt somewhat uncomfortable in this
situation, and I thought of Cerberus on the other side of the Styx
ferry. The people pulled the cayman to the surface; he plunged
furiously as soon as he arrived in these upper regions, and immediately
went below again on their slackening the rope. I saw enough not to fall
in love at first sight. I now told them we would run all risks and have
him on land immediately. They pulled again, and out he came--"monstrum
horrendum, informe." This was an interesting moment. I kept my position
firmly, with my eye fixed steadfast on him.

By the time the cayman was within two yards of me I saw he was in a
state of fear and perturbation. I instantly dropped the mast, sprung up
and jumped on his back, turning half round as I vaulted, so that I
gained my seat with my face in a right position. I immediately seized
his fore-legs, and by main force twisted them on his back; thus they
served me for a bridle.

He now seemed to have recovered from his surprise, and probably
fancying himself in hostile company he began to plunge furiously, and
lashed the sand with his long and powerful tail. I was out of reach of
the strokes of it by being near his head. He continued to plunge and
strike and made my seat very uncomfortable. It must have been a fine
sight for an unoccupied spectator.

The people roared out in triumph, and were so vociferous that it was
some time before they heard me tell them to pull me and my beast of
burden farther inland. I was apprehensive the rope might break, and
then there would have been every chance of going down to the regions
under water with the cayman. That would have been more perilous than
Arion's marine morning ride:

  Delphini insidens vada cærula sulcat Arion.

The people now dragged us above forty yards on the sand: it was the
first and last time I was ever on a cayman's back. Should it be asked
how I managed to keep my seat, I would answer, I hunted some years with
Lord Darlington's fox-hounds.

After repeated attempts to regain his liberty the cayman gave in and
became tranquil through exhaustion. I now managed to tie up his jaws
and firmly secured his fore-feet in the position I had held them. We
had now another severe struggle for superiority, but he was soon
overcome and again remained quiet. While some of the people were
pressing upon his head and shoulders I threw myself on his tail, and by
keeping it down to the sand prevented him from kicking up another dust.
He was finally conveyed to the canoe, and then to the place where we
had suspended our hammocks. There I cut his throat; and after breakfast
was over commenced the dissection.

Now that the affray had ceased, Daddy Ouashi played a good finger and
thumb at breakfast: he said he found himself much revived, and became
very talkative and useful, as there was no longer any danger. He was a
faithful, honest negro. His master, my worthy friend Mr. Edmonstone,
had been so obliging as to send out particular orders to the colony
that the Daddy should attend me all the time I was in the forest. He
had lived in the wilds of Demerara with Mr. Edmonstone for many years,
and often amused me with the account of the frays his master had had in
the woods with snakes, wild beasts and runaway negroes. Old age was now
coming fast upon him; he had been an able fellow in his younger days,
and a gallant one, too, for he had a large scar over his eyebrow caused
by the stroke of a cutlass from another negro while the Daddy was
engaged in an intrigue.

The back of the cayman may be said to be almost impenetrable to a
musket-ball, but his sides are not near so strong, and are easily
pierced with an arrow; indeed, were they as strong as the back and the
belly, there would be no part of the cayman's body soft and elastic
enough to admit of expansion after taking in a supply of food.

The cayman has no grinders; his teeth are entirely made for snatch and
swallow: there are thirty-two in each jaw. Perhaps no animal in
existence bears more decided marks in his countenance of cruelty and
malice than the cayman. He is the scourge and terror of all the large
rivers in South America near the line.

One Sunday evening, some years ago, as I was walking with Don Felipe de
Ynciarte, Governor of Angustura, on the bank of the Oroonoque, "Stop
here a minute or two, Don Carlos," said he to me, "while I recount a
sad accident. One fine evening last year, as the people of Angustura
were sauntering up and down here in the Alameda, I was within twenty
yards of this place when I saw a large cayman rush out of the river,
seize a man, and carry him down before anybody had it in his power to
assist him. The screams of the poor fellow were terrible as the cayman
was running off with him. He plunged into the river with his prey; we
instantly lost sight of him, and never saw or heard him more."

I was a day and a half in dissecting our cayman, and then we got all
ready to return to Demerara.

It was much more perilous to descend than to ascend the falls in the
Essequibo.

The place we had to pass had proved fatal to four Indians about a month
before. The water foamed and dashed and boiled amongst the steep and
craggy rocks, and seemed to warn us to be careful how we ventured there.

I was for all hands to get out of the canoe, and then, after lashing a
long rope ahead and astern, we might have climbed from rock to rock and
tempered her in her passage down, and our getting out would have
lightened her much. But the negro who had joined us at Mrs. Peterson's
said he was sure it would be safer to stay in the canoe while she went
down the fall. I was loath to give way to him, but I did so this time
against my better judgment, as he assured me that he was accustomed to
pass and repass these falls.

Accordingly we determined to push down: I was at the helm, the rest at
their paddles. But before we got half-way through the rushing waters
deprived the canoe of all power of steerage, and she became the sport
of the torrent; in a second she was half-full of water, and I cannot
comprehend to this day why she did not go down; luckily the people
exerted themselves to the utmost, she got headway, and they pulled
through the whirlpool: I being quite in the stern of the canoe, part of
a wave struck me, and nearly knocked me overboard.

We now paddled to some rocks at a distance, got out, unloaded the canoe
and dried the cargo in the sun, which was very hot and powerful. Had it
been the wet season almost everything would have been spoiled.

After this the voyage down the Essequibo was quick and pleasant till we
reached the sea-coast: there we had a trying day of it; the wind was
dead against us, and the sun remarkably hot; we got twice aground upon
a mud-flat, and were twice obliged to get out, up to the middle in mud,
to shove the canoe through it. Half-way betwixt the Essequibo and
Demerara the tide of flood caught us, and, after the utmost exertions,
it was half-past six in the evening before we got to Georgetown.

We had been out from six in the morning in an open canoe on the
sea-coast, without umbrella or awning, exposed all day to the fiery
rays of a tropical sun. My face smarted so that I could get no sleep
during the night, and the next morning my lips were all in blisters.
The Indian Yan went down to the Essequibo a copper-colour, but the
reflection of the sun from the sea and from the sandbanks in the river
had turned him nearly black. He laughed at himself, and said the
Indians in the Demerara would not know him again. I stayed one day in
Georgetown, and then set off the next morning for headquarters in
Mibiri Creek, where I finished the cayman.

Here the remaining time was spent in collecting birds and in paying
particular attention to their haunts and economy. The rainy season
having set in, the weather became bad and stormy; the lightning and
thunder were incessant; the days cloudy, and the nights cold and misty.
I had now been eleven months in the forests, and collected some rare
insects, two hundred and thirty birds, two land-tortoises, five
armadillos, two large serpents, a sloth, an ant-bear and a cayman.

I left the wilds and repaired to Georgetown to spend a few days with
Mr. R. Edmonstone previous to embarking for Europe. I must here return
my sincerest thanks to this worthy gentleman for his many kindnesses to
me; his friendship was of the utmost service to me, and he never failed
to send me supplies up into the forest by every opportunity.

I embarked for England on board the _Dee_, West-Indiaman, commanded by
Captain Grey.

Sir Joseph Banks had often told me he hoped that I would give a lecture
in public on the new mode I had discovered of preparing specimens in
natural history for museums. I always declined to do so, as I despaired
of ever being able to hit upon a proper method of doing quadrupeds; and
I was aware that it would have been an imperfect lecture to treat of
birds only. I imparted what little knowledge I was master of at Sir
Joseph's, to the unfortunate gentlemen who went to Africa to explore
the Congo; and that was all that took place in the shape of a lecture.
Now that I had hit upon the way of doing quadrupeds, I drew up a little
plan on board the _Dee_, which I trusted would have been of service to
naturalists, and by proving to them the superiority of the new plan
they would probably be induced to abandon the old and common way, which
is a disgrace to the present age, and renders hideous every specimen in
every museum that I have as yet visited. I intended to have given three
lectures: one on insects and serpents; one on birds; and one on
quadrupeds. But, as it will be shortly seen, this little plan was
doomed not to be unfolded to public view. Illiberality blasted it in
the bud.

We had a pleasant passage across the Atlantic, and arrived in the
Mersey in fine trim and good spirits. Great was the attention I
received from the commander of the _Dee_. He and his mate, Mr. Spence,
took every care of my collection.

On our landing the gentlemen of the Liverpool Custom House received me
as an old friend and acquaintance, and obligingly offered their
services.

Twice before had I landed in Liverpool, and twice had I reason to
admire their conduct and liberality. They knew I was incapable of
trying to introduce anything contraband, and they were aware that I
never dreamed of turning to profit the specimens I had procured. They
considered that I had left a comfortable home in quest of science; and
that I had wandered into far-distant climes, and gone barefooted,
ill-clothed and ill-fed, through swamps and woods, to procure
specimens, some of which had never been seen in Europe. They considered
that it would be difficult to fix a price upon specimens which had
never been bought or sold, and which never were to be, as they were
intended to ornament my own house. It was hard, they said, to have
exposed myself for years to danger, and then be obliged to pay on
returning to my native land. Under these considerations they fixed a
moderate duty which satisfied all parties.

However, this last expedition ended not so. It taught me how hard it is
to learn the grand lesson, "æquam memento rebus in arduis, servare
mentem."

But my good friends in the Custom House of Liverpool were not to blame.
On the contrary, they did all in their power to procure balm for me
instead of rue. But it would not answer.

They appointed a very civil officer to attend me to the ship. While we
were looking into some of the boxes to see that the specimens were
properly stowed, previous to their being conveyed to the king's depôt,
another officer entered the cabin. He was an entire stranger to me, and
seemed wonderfully aware of his own consequence. Without preface or
apology he thrust his head over my shoulder and said we had no business
to have opened a single box without his permission. I answered they had
been opened almost every day since they had come on board, and that I
considered there was no harm in doing so.

He then left the cabin, and I said to myself as he went out, I suspect
I shall see that man again at Philippi. The boxes, ten in number, were
conveyed in safety from the ship to the depôt. I then proceeded to the
Custom House. The necessary forms were gone through, and a
proportionate duty, according to circumstances, was paid.

This done, we returned from the Custom House to the depôt, accompanied
by several gentlemen who wished to see the collection. They expressed
themselves highly gratified. The boxes were closed, and nothing now
remained but to convey them to the cart, which was in attendance at the
door of the depôt. Just as one of the inferior officers was carrying a
box thither, in stepped the man whom I suspected I should see again at
Philippi. He abruptly declared himself dissatisfied with the valuation
which the gentlemen of the customs had put upon the collection, and
said he must detain it. I remonstrated, but it was all in vain.

After this pitiful stretch of power and bad compliment to the other
officers of the customs, who had been satisfied with the valuation,
this man had the folly to take me aside, and after assuring me that he
had a great regard for the arts and sciences, he lamented that
conscience obliged him to do what he had done, and he wished he had
been fifty miles from Liverpool at the time that it fell to his lot to
detain the collection. Had he looked in my face as he said this he
would have seen no marks of credulity there.

I now returned to the Custom House, and after expressing my opinion of
the officer's conduct at the depôt, I pulled a bunch of keys (which
belonged to the detained boxes) out of my pocket, laid them on the
table, took my leave of the gentlemen present, and soon after set off
for Yorkshire.

I saved nothing from the grasp of the stranger officer but a pair of
live Malay fowls, which a gentleman in Georgetown had made me a present
of. I had collected in the forest several eggs of curious birds in
hopes of introducing the breed into England, and had taken great pains
in doing them over with gum arabic, and in packing them in charcoal,
according to a receipt I had seen in the gazette from the _Edinburgh
Philosophical Journal_. But these were detained in the depôt, instead
of being placed under a hen; which utterly ruined all my hopes of
rearing a new species of birds in England. Titled personages in London
interested themselves in behalf of the collection, but all in vain. And
vain also were the public and private representations of the first
officer of the Liverpool Custom House in my favour.

At last there came an order from the Treasury to say that any specimens
Mr. Waterton intended to present to public institutions might pass duty
free; but those which he intended to keep for himself must pay the
duty! A friend now wrote to me from Liverpool requesting that I would
come over and pay the duty in order to save the collection, which had
just been detained there six weeks. I did so. On paying an additional
duty (for the moderate duty first imposed had already been paid), the
man who had detained the collection delivered it up to me, assuring me
that it had been well taken care of, and that a fire had been
frequently made in the room. It is but justice to add that on opening
the boxes there was nothing injured.

I could never get a clue to these harsh and unexpected measures, except
that there had been some recent smuggling discovered in Liverpool, and
that the man in question had been sent down from London to act the part
of Argus. If so, I landed in an evil hour: "nefasto die," making good
the Spanish proverb, "Pagan a las veces, justos por pecadores": At
times the innocent suffer for the guilty. After all, a little
encouragement, in the shape of exemption from paying the duty on this
collection, might have been expected, but it turned out otherwise; and
after expending large sums in pursuit of natural history, on my return
home I was doomed to pay for my success:

  Hic finis, Caroli fatorum, hic exitus illum,
  Sorte tulit!

Thus my fleece, already ragged and torn with the thorns and briers
which one must naturally expect to find in distant and untrodden wilds,
was shorn, I may say, on its return to England.

However, this is nothing new. Sancho Panza must have heard of similar
cases, for he says, "Muchos van por lana, y vuelven trasquilados": Many
go for wool and come home shorn. In order to pick up matter for natural
history I have wandered through the wildest parts of South America's
equatorial regions. I have attacked and slain a modern Python, and rode
on the back of a cayman close to the water's edge; a very different
situation from that of a Hyde Park dandy on his Sunday prancer before
the ladies. Alone and barefoot I have pulled poisonous snakes out of
their lurking-places; climbed up trees to peep into holes for bats and
vampires, and for days together hastened through sun and rain to the
thickest parts of the forest to procure specimens I had never got
before. In fine, I have pursued the wild beasts over hill and dale,
through swamps and quagmires, now scorched by the noon-day sun, now
drenched by the pelting shower, and returned to the hammock to satisfy
the cravings of hunger, often on a poor and scanty supper.

These vicissitudes have turned to chestnut hue a once English
complexion, and changed the colour of my hair before Father Time had
meddled with it. The detention of the collection after it had fairly
passed the Customs, and the subsequent order from the Treasury that I
should pay duty for the specimens unless they were presented to some
public institution, have cast a damp upon my energy, and forced, as it
were, the cup of Lethe to my lips, by drinking which I have forgot my
former intention of giving a lecture in public on preparing specimens
to adorn museums. In fine, it is this ungenerous treatment that has
paralysed my plans, and caused me to give up the idea I once had of
inserting here the newly-discovered mode of preparing quadrupeds and
serpents; and without it the account of this last expedition to the
wilds of Guiana is nothing but a--fragment.

Farewell, gentle reader.


       *       *       *       *       *



FOURTH JOURNEY

  Nunc huc, nunc illuc et utrinque sine ordine curro.

Courteous reader, when I bade thee last farewell I thought these
wanderings were brought to a final close; afterwards I often roved in
imagination through distant countries famous for natural history, but
felt no strong inclination to go thither, as the last adventure had
terminated in such unexpected vexation. The departure of the cuckoo and
swallow and summer birds of passage for warmer regions, once so
interesting to me, now scarcely caused me to turn my face to the south;
and I continued in this cold and dreary climate for three years. During
this period I seldom or never mounted my hobby-horse; indeed, it may be
said, with the old song,

  The saddle and bridle were laid on the shelf,

and only taken down once, on the night that I was induced to give a
lecture in the Philosophical Hall of Leeds. A little after this
Wilson's _Ornithology of the United States_ fell into my hands.

The desire I had of seeing that country, together with the animated
description which Wilson had given of the birds, fanned up the
almost-expiring flame. I forgot the vexations already alluded to, and
set off for New York in the beautiful packet _John Wells_, commanded by
Captain Harris. The passage was long and cold, but the elegant
accommodations on board and the polite attention of the commander
rendered it very agreeable; and I landed in health and merriment in the
stately capital of the New World.

We will soon pen down a few remarks on this magnificent city, but not
just now. I want to venture into the north-west country, and get to
their great canal, which the world talks so much about, though I fear
it will be hard work to make one's way through bugs, bears, brutes and
buffaloes, which we Europeans imagine are so frequent and ferocious in
these never-ending western wilds.

I left New York on a fine morning in July, without one letter of
introduction, for the city of Albany, some hundred and eighty miles up
the celebrated Hudson. I seldom care about letters of introduction, for
I am one of those who depend much upon an accidental acquaintance. Full
many a face do I see as I go wandering up and down the world whose mild
eye and sweet and placid features seem to beckon to me and say, as it
were, "Speak but civilly to me, and I will do what I can for you." Such
a face as this is worth more than a dozen letters of introduction; and
such a face, gentle reader, I found on board the steamboat from New
York to the city of Albany.

There was a great number of well-dressed ladies and gentlemen in the
vessel, all entire strangers to me. I fancied I could see several whose
countenances invited an unknown wanderer to come and take a seat beside
them; but there was one who encouraged me more than the rest. I saw
clearly that he was an American, and I judged by his manners and
appearance that he had not spent all his time upon his native soil. I
was right in this conjecture, for he afterwards told me that he had
been in France and England. I saluted him as one stranger gentleman
ought to salute another when he wants a little information; and soon
after I dropped in a word or two by which he might conjecture that I
was a foreigner, but I did not tell him so; I wished him to make the
discovery himself.

He entered into conversation with the openness and candour which is so
remarkable in the American, and in a little time observed that he
presumed I was from the old country. I told him that I was, and added
that I was an entire stranger on board. I saw his eye brighten up at
the prospect he had of doing a fellow-creature a kind turn or two, and
he completely won my regard by an affability which I shall never
forget. This obliging gentleman pointed out everything that was grand
and interesting as the steamboat plied her course up the majestic
Hudson. Here the Catskill Mountains raised their lofty summit; and
there the hills came sloping down to the water's edge. Here he pointed
to an aged and venerable oak which, having escaped the levelling axe of
man, seemed almost to defy the blasting storm and desolating hand of
Time; and there he bade me observe an extended tract of wood by which I
might form an idea how rich and grand the face of the country had once
been. Here it was that, in the great and momentous struggle, the
colonists lost the day; and there they carried all before them:

  They closed full fast, on every side
    No slackness there was found;
  And many a gallant gentleman
    Lay gasping on the ground.

Here, in fine, stood a noted regiment; there moved their great captain;
here the fleets fired their broadsides; and there the whole force
rushed on to battle:

  Hic Dolopum manus, hic magnus tendebat Achilles,
  Classibus hic locus, hic acies certare solebat.

At teatime we took our tea together, and the next morning this worthy
American walked up with me to the inn in Albany, shook me by the hand,
and then went his way. I bade him farewell and again farewell, and
hoped that Fortune might bring us together again once more. Possibly
she may yet do so; and should it be in England, I will take him to my
house as an old friend and acquaintance, and offer him my choicest
cheer. It is at Albany that the great canal opens into the Hudson and
joins the waters of this river to those of Lake Erie. The Hudson, at
the city of Albany, is distant from Lake Erie about 360 miles. The
level of the lake is 564 feet higher than the Hudson, and there are
eighty-one locks on the canal. It is to the genius and perseverance of
De Witt Clinton that the United States owe the almost incalculable
advantages of this inland navigation: "Exegit monumentum ære
perennius." You may either go along it all the way to Buffalo on Lake
Erie or by the stage; or sometimes on one and then in the other, just
as you think fit. Grand indeed is the scenery by either route and
capital the accommodations. Cold and phlegmatic must he be who is not
warmed into admiration by the surrounding scenery, and charmed with the
affability of the travellers he meets on the way.

This is now the season of roving and joy and merriment for the gentry
of this happy country. Thousands are on the move from different parts
of the Union for the springs and lakes and the Falls of Niagara. There
is nothing haughty or forbidding in the Americans; and wherever you
meet them they appear to be quite at home. This is exactly what it
ought to be, and very much in favour of the foreigner who journeys
amongst them. The immense number of highly-polished females who go in
the stages to visit the different places of amusement and see the
stupendous natural curiosities of this extensive country incontestably
proves that safety and convenience are ensured to them, and that the
most distant attempt at rudeness would by common consent be immediately
put down.

By the time I had got to Schenectady I began strongly to suspect that I
had come into the wrong country to look for bugs, bears, brutes and
buffaloes. It is an enchanting journey from Albany to Schenectady, and
from thence to Lake Erie. The situation of the city of Utica is
particularly attractive: the Mohawk running close by it, the fertile
fields and woody mountains, and the Falls of Trenton forcibly press the
stranger to stop a day or two here before he proceeds onward to the
lake.

At some far distant period, when it will not be possible to find the
place where many of the celebrated cities of the East once stood, the
world will have to thank the United States of America for bringing
their names into the western regions. It is, indeed, a pretty thought
of these people to give to their rising towns the names of places so
famous and conspicuous in former times.

As I was sitting one evening under an oak in the high grounds behind
Utica, I could not look down upon the city without thinking of Cato and
his misfortunes. Had the town been called Crofton, or Warmfield, or
Dewsbury, there would have been nothing remarkable in it; but Utica at
once revived the scenes at school long past and half-forgotten, and
carried me with full speed back again to Italy, and from thence to
Africa. I crossed the Rubicon with Cæsar; fought at Pharsalia; saw poor
Pompey into Larissa, and tried to wrest the fatal sword from Cato's
hand in Utica. When I perceived he was no more, I mourned over the
noble-minded man who took that part which he thought would most benefit
his country. There is something magnificent in the idea of a man taking
by choice the conquered side. The Roman gods themselves did otherwise.

  _Victrix_ causa Diis placuit, sed _victa_ Catoni.

  In this did Cato with the gods divide,
  _They_ chose the conquering, _he_ the conquer'd side.

The whole of the country from Utica to Buffalo is pleasing; and the
intervening of the inland lakes, large and deep and clear, adds
considerably to the effect. The spacious size of the inns, their
excellent provisions, and the attention which the traveller receives in
going from Albany to Buffalo, must at once convince him that this
country is very much visited by strangers; and he will draw the
conclusion that there must be something in it uncommonly interesting to
cause so many travellers to pass to and fro.

Nature is losing fast her ancient garb and putting on a new dress in
these extensive regions. Most of the stately timber has been carried
away; thousands of trees are lying prostrate on the ground; while
meadows, cornfields, villages and pastures are ever and anon bursting
upon the traveller's view as he journeys on through the remaining
tracts of wood. I wish I could say a word or two for the fine timber
which is yet standing. Spare it, gentle inhabitants, for your country's
sake. These noble sons of the forest beautify your landscapes beyond
all description; when they are gone, a century will not replace their
loss; they cannot, they must not fall; their vernal bloom, their summer
richness, and autumnal tints, please and refresh the eye of man; and
even when the days of joy and warmth are fled, the wintry blast soothes
the listening ear with a sublime and pleasing melancholy as it howls
through their naked branches.

  Around me trees unnumber'd rise,
  Beautiful in various dyes.
  The gloomy pine, the poplar blue,
  The yellow beech, the sable yew;
  The slender fir, that taper grows,
  The sturdy oak, with broad-spread boughs.

A few miles before you reach Buffalo the road is low and bad, and in
stepping out of the stage I sprained my foot very severely; it swelled
to a great size, and caused me many a day of pain and mortification, as
will be seen in the sequel.

Buffalo looks down on Lake Erie, and possesses a fine and commodious
inn. At a little distance is the Black Rock, and there you pass over to
the Canada side. A stage is in waiting to convey you some sixteen or
twenty miles down to the falls. Long before you reach the spot you hear
the mighty roar of waters and see the spray of the far-famed Falls of
Niagara rising up like a column to the heavens and mingling with the
passing clouds.

At this stupendous cascade of Nature the waters of the lake fall 176
feet perpendicular. It has been calculated, I forget by whom, that the
quantity of water discharged down this mighty fall is 670,255 tons per
minute. There are two large inns on the Canada side; but after you have
satisfied your curiosity in viewing the falls, and in seeing the
rainbow in the foam far below where you are standing, do not, I pray
you, tarry long at either of them. Cross over to the American side, and
there you will find a spacious inn which has nearly all the
attractions: there you meet with great attention and every
accommodation.

The day is passed in looking at the falls and in sauntering up and down
the wooded and rocky environs of the Niagara; and the evening is often
enlivened by the merry dance.

Words can hardly do justice to the unaffected ease and elegance of the
American ladies who visit the Falls of Niagara. The traveller need not
rove in imagination through Circassia in search of fine forms, or
through England, France and Spain to meet with polished females. The
numbers who are continually arriving from all parts of the Union
confirm the justness of this remark.

I was looking one evening at a dance, being unable to join in it on
account of the accident I had received near Buffalo, when a young
American entered the ballroom with such a becoming air and grace that
it was impossible not to have been struck with her appearance.

  Her bloom was like the springing flower
  That sips the silver dew,
  The rose was budded in her cheek,
  Just opening to the view.

I could not help feeling a wish to know where she had

  Into such beauty spread, and blown so fair.

Upon inquiry I found that she was from the city of Albany. The more I
looked at the fair Albanese the more I was convinced that in the United
States of America may be found grace and beauty and symmetry equal to
anything in the Old World.

I now for good and all (and well I might) gave up the idea of finding
bugs, bears, brutes and buffaloes in this country, and was thoroughly
satisfied that I had laboured under a great mistake in suspecting that
I should ever meet with them.

I wished to join in the dance where the fair Albanese was "to brisk
notes in cadence beating," but the state of my unlucky foot rendered it
impossible; and as I sat with it reclined upon a sofa, full many a
passing gentleman stopped to inquire the cause of my misfortune,
presuming at the same time that I had got an attack of gout. Now this
surmise of theirs always mortified me; for I never had a fit of gout in
my life, and, moreover, never expect to have one.

In many of the inns in the United States there is an album on the table
in which travellers insert their arrival and departure, and now and
then indulge in a little flash or two of wit.

I thought under existing circumstances that there would be no harm in
briefly telling my misadventure; and so taking up the pen I wrote what
follows, and was never after asked a single question about the gout.

C. Waterton, of Walton Hall, in the county of York, England, arrived at
the Falls of Niagara in July 1824, and begs leave to pen down the
following dreadful accident:

  He sprained his foot, and hurt his toe,
  On the rough road near Buffalo.
  It quite distresses him to stagger a-
  Long the sharp rocks of famed Niagara.
  So thus he's doomed to drink the measure
  Of pain, in lieu of that of pleasure.
  On Hope's delusive pinions borne
  He came for wool, and goes back shorn.
  _N.B._--Here he alludes to nothing but
  Th' adventure of his toe and foot;
  Save this,--he sees all that which can
  Delight and charm the soul of man,
  But feels it not,--because his toe
  And foot together plague him so.

I remember once to have sprained my ankle very violently many years
ago, and that the doctor ordered me to hold it under the pump two or
three times a day. Now in the United States of America all is upon a
grand scale, except taxation; and I am convinced that the traveller's
ideas become much more enlarged as he journeys through the country.
This being the case, I can easily account for the desire I felt to hold
my sprained foot under the Fall of Niagara. I descended the
winding-staircase which has been made for the accommodation of
travellers, and then hobbled on to the scene of action. As I held my
leg under the fall I tried to meditate on the immense difference there
was betwixt a house-pump and this tremendous cascade of Nature, and
what effect it might have upon the sprain; but the magnitude of the
subject was too overwhelming, and I was obliged to drop it.

Perhaps, indeed, there was an unwarrantable tincture of vanity in an
unknown wanderer wishing to have it in his power to tell the world that
he had held his sprained foot under a fall of water which discharges
670,255 tons per minute. A gentle purling stream would have suited
better. Now it would have become Washington to have quenched his
battle-thirst in the Fall of Niagara; and there was something royal in
the idea of Cleopatra drinking pearl-vinegar made from the grandest
pearl in Egypt; and it became Caius Marius to send word that he was
sitting upon the ruins of Carthage. Here we have the person suited to
the thing, and the thing to the person.

If, gentle reader, thou wouldst allow me to indulge a little longer in
this harmless pen-errantry, I would tell thee that I have had my ups
and downs in life as well as other people: for I have climbed to the
point of the conductor above the cross on the top of St. Peter's in
Rome and left my glove there; I have stood on one foot upon the
Guardian Angel's head on the Castle of St. Angelo; and, as I have just
told thee, I have been low down under the Fall of Niagara. But this is
neither here nor there; let us proceed to something else.

When the pain of my foot had become less violent, and the swelling
somewhat abated, I could not resist the inclination I felt to go down
Ontario, and so on to Montreal and Quebec, and take Lakes Champlain and
George in my way back to Albany.

Just as I had made up my mind to it, a family from the Bowling-Green in
New York, who was going the same route, politely invited me to join
their party. Nothing could be more fortunate. They were highly
accomplished. The young ladies sang delightfully; and all contributed
their portion to render the tour pleasant and amusing.

Travellers have already filled the world with descriptions of the bold
and sublime scenery from Lake Erie to Quebec:

  The fountain's fall, the river's flow,
  The woody valleys, warm and low;
  The windy summit, wild and high,
  Roughly rushing to the sky.

And there is scarce one of them who has not described the achievements
of former and latter times on the different battle-grounds. Here great
Wolfe expired. Brave Montcalm was carried, mortally wounded, through
yonder gate. Here fell the gallant Brock; and there General Sheaffee
captured all the invaders. And in yonder harbour may be seen the
mouldering remnants of British vessels. Their hour of misfortune has
long passed away. The victors have now no use for them in an inland
lake. Some have already sunk, while others, dismantled and
half-dismasted, are just above the water, waiting in shattered state
that destiny which must sooner or later destroy the fairest works of
man.

The excellence and despatch of the steamboats, together with the
company which the traveller is sure to meet with at this time of the
year, render the trip down to Montreal and Quebec very agreeable.

The Canadians are a quiet and apparently a happy people. They are very
courteous and affable to strangers. On comparing them with the
character which a certain female traveller, a journalist, has thought
fit to give them, the stranger might have great doubts whether or not
he were amongst the Canadians.

Montreal, Quebec and the Falls of Montmorency are well worth going to
see. They are making tremendous fortifications at Quebec. It will be
the Gibraltar of the New World. When one considers its distance from
Europe, and takes a view of its powerful and enterprising neighbour,
Virgil's remark at once rushes into the mind:

  Sic vos non vobis nidificatis aves.

I left Montreal with regret. I had the good fortune to be introduced to
the Professors of the College. These fathers are a very learned and
worthy set of gentlemen, and on my taking leave of them I felt a
heaviness at heart in reflecting that I had not more time to cultivate
their acquaintance.

In all the way from Buffalo to Quebec I only met with one bug; and I
cannot even swear that it belonged to the United States. In going down
the St. Lawrence in the steamboat I felt something crossing over my
neck, and on laying hold of it with my finger and thumb it turned out
to be a little half-grown, ill-conditioned bug. Now whether it were
going from the American to the Canada side, or from the Canada to the
American, and had taken the advantage of my shoulders to ferry itself
across, I could not tell. Be this as it may, I thought of my Uncle Toby
and the fly; and so, in lieu of placing it upon the deck, and then
putting my thumb-nail vertically upon it, I quietly chucked it amongst
some baggage that was close by and recommended it to get ashore by the
first opportunity.

When we had seen all that was worth seeing in Quebec and at the Falls
of Montmorency, and had been on board the enormous ship _Columbus_, we
returned for a day or two to Montreal, and then proceeded to Saratoga
by Lakes Champlain and George.

The steamboat from Quebec to Montreal had above five hundred Irish
emigrants on board. They were going "they hardly knew whither," far
away from dear Ireland. It made one's heart ache to see them all
huddled together, without any expectation of ever revisiting their
native soil. We feared that the sorrow of leaving home for ever, the
miserable accommodations on board the ship which had brought them away,
and the tossing of the angry ocean in a long and dreary voyage would
have rendered them callous to good behaviour. But it was quite
otherwise. They conducted themselves with great propriety. Every
American on board seemed to feel for them. And then "they were so full
of wretchedness. Need and oppression starved in their eyes. Upon their
backs hung ragged misery. The world was not their friend." Poor dear
Ireland, exclaimed an aged female as I was talking to her, I shall
never see it any more! and then her tears began to flow. Probably the
scenery on the banks of the St. Lawrence recalled to her mind the
remembrance of spots once interesting to her:

  The lovely daughter,--lovelier in her tears,
  The fond companion of her father's years,
  Here silent stood,--neglectful of her charms.
  And left her lover's for her father's arms.
  With louder plaints the mother spoke her woes,
  And blessed the cot where every pleasure rose;
  And pressed her thoughtless babes, with many a tear,
  And clasped them close, in sorrow doubly dear.
  While the fond husband strove to lend relief.
  In all the silent manliness of grief.

We went a few miles out of our route to take a look at the once
formidable fortress of Ticonderoga. It has long been in ruins, and
seems as if it were doomed to moulder quite away.

  Ever and anon there falls
  Huge heaps of hoary moulder'd walls.
  But time has seen, that lifts the low
  And level lays the lofty brow,
  Has seen this ruin'd pile complete,
  Big with the vanity of state,
  But transient is the smile of Fate.

The scenery of Lake George is superb, the inn remarkably spacious and
well attended, and the conveyances from thence to Saratoga very good.
He must be sorely afflicted with spleen and jaundice who, on his
arrival at Saratoga, remarks there is nothing here worth coming to see.
It is a gay and fashionable place; has four uncommonly fine hotels; its
waters for medicinal virtues are surpassed by none in the known world;
and it is resorted to throughout the whole of the summer by foreigners
and natives of the first consideration. Saratoga pleased me much; and
afforded a fair opportunity of forming a pretty correct idea of the
gentry of the United States.

There is a pleasing frankness and ease and becoming dignity in the
American ladies, and the good humour and absence of all haughtiness and
puppyism in the gentlemen must, no doubt, impress the traveller with
elevated notions of the company who visit this famous spa.

During my stay here all was joy and affability and mirth. In the
mornings the ladies played and sang for us; and the evenings were
generally enlivened with the merry dance. Here I bade farewell to the
charming family in whose company I had passed so many happy days, and
proceeded to Albany.

The stage stopped a little while in the town of Troy. The name alone
was quite sufficient to recall to the mind scenes long past and gone.
Poor King Priam! Napoleon's sorrows, sad and piercing as they were, did
not come up to those of this ill-fated monarch. The Greeks first set
his town on fire and then began to bully:

  Incensâ Danai dominantur in urbe.

One of his sons was slain before his face: "ante ora parentum,
concidit." Another was crushed to mummy by boa-constrictors: "immensis
orbibus angues." His city was razed to the ground, "jacet Ilion
ingens." And Pyrrhus ran him through with his sword, "capulo tenus
abdidit ensem." This last may be considered as a fortunate stroke for
the poor old king. Had his life been spared at this juncture he could
not have lived long. He must have died broken-hearted. He would have
seen his son-in-law, once master of a noble stud, now, for want of a
horse, obliged to carry off his father up-hill on his own back, "cessi
et sublato, montem genitore petivi." He would have heard of his
grandson being thrown neck and heels from a high tower, "mittitur
Astyanax illis de turribus." He would have been informed of his wife
tearing out the eyes of King Odrysius with her finger-nails, "digitos
in perfida lumina condit." Soon after this, losing all appearance of
woman, she became a bitch,

  Perdidit infelix, hominis post omnia formam,

and rent the heavens with her howlings,

  Externasque novo latratu terruit auras.

Then, becoming distracted with the remembrance of her misfortunes,
"veterum memor illa malorum," she took off howling into the fields of
Thrace:

  Tum quoque Sithonios, ululavit moesta per agros.

Juno, Jove's wife and sister, was heard to declare that poor Hecuba did
not deserve so terrible a fate:

  Ipsa Jovis conjuxque sororque,
  Eventus Hecubam meruisse negaverit illos.

Had poor Priam escaped from Troy, one thing, and only one thing, would
have given him a small ray of satisfaction, viz. he would have heard of
one of his daughters nobly preferring to leave this world rather than
live to become servant-maid to old Grecian ladies:

  Non ego Myrmidonum sedes, Dolopumve superbas,
  Adspiciam, aut Graiis servitum matribus ibo.

At some future period, should a foreign armed force, or intestine
broils (all which Heaven avert), raise Troy to the dignity of a
fortified city, Virgil's prophecy may then be fulfilled:

  Atque iterum ad Trojam magnus mittetur Achilles.

After leaving Troy I passed through a fine country to Albany, and then
proceeded by steam down the Hudson to New York.

Travellers hesitate whether to give the preference to Philadelphia or
to New York. Philadelphia is certainly a noble city and its environs
beautiful, but there is a degree of quiet and sedateness in it which,
though no doubt very agreeable to the man of calm and domestic habits,
is not so attractive to one of speedy movements. The quantity of white
marble which is used in the buildings gives to Philadelphia a gay and
lively appearance, but the sameness of the streets and their crossing
each other at right angles are somewhat tiresome. The waterworks which
supply the city are a proud monument of the skill and enterprise of its
inhabitants, and the market is well worth the attention of the stranger.

When you go to Philadelphia be sure not to forget to visit the museum.
It will afford you a great treat. Some of Mr. Peale's family are
constantly in it, and are ever ready to show the curiosities to
strangers and to give them every necessary information. Mr. Peale has
now passed his eightieth year, and appears to possess the vivacity and,
I may almost add, the activity of youth.

To the indefatigable exertions of this gentleman is the Western world
indebted for the possession of this splendid museum. Mr. Peale is,
moreover, an excellent artist. Look attentively, I pray you, at the
portrait he has taken of himself, by desire of the State of
Pennsylvania. On entering the room he appears in the act of holding up
a curtain to show you his curiosities. The effect of the light upon his
head is infinitely striking. I have never seen anything finer in the
way of light and shade. The skeleton of the mammoth is a national
treasure. I could form but a faint idea of it by description until I
had seen it. It is the most magnificent skeleton in the world. The city
ought never to forget the great expense Mr. Peale was put to, and the
skill and energy he showed during the many months he spent in searching
the swamps where these enormous bones had been concealed from the eyes
of the world for centuries.

The extensive squares of this city are ornamented with well-grown and
luxuriant trees. Its unremitting attention to literature might cause it
to be styled the Athens of the United States. Here learning and science
have taken up their abode. The literary and philosophical associations,
the enthusiasm of individuals, the activity of the press and the
cheapness of the publications ought to raise the name of Philadelphia
to an elevated situation in the temple of knowledge.

From the press of this city came Wilson's famous _Ornithology_. By
observing the birds in their native haunts he has been enabled to purge
their history of numberless absurdities which inexperienced theorists
had introduced into it. It is a pleasing and a brilliant work. We have
no description of birds in any European publication that can come up to
this. By perusing Wilson's _Ornithology_ attentively before I left
England I knew where to look for the birds, and immediately recognised
them in their native land.

Since his time I fear that the white-headed eagles have been much
thinned. I was perpetually looking out for them, but saw very few. One
or two came now and then and soared in lofty flight over the Falls of
Niagara. The Americans are proud of this bird in effigy, and their
hearts rejoice when its banner is unfurled. Could they not then be
persuaded to protect the white-headed eagle, and allow it to glide in
safety over its own native forests? Were I an American I should think I
had committed a kind of sacrilege in killing the white-headed eagle.
The ibis was held sacred by the Egyptians; the Hollanders protect the
stork; the vulture sits unmolested on the top of the houses in the city
of Angustura; and Robin Redbreast, for his charity, is cherished by the
English:

  No burial these pretty babes
  Of any man receives,
  Till Robin-red-breast painfully.
  Did cover them with leaves. [Footnote]

[Footnote: The fault against grammar is lost in the beauty of the idea.]

Poor Wilson was smote by the hand of death before he had finished his
work. Prince Charles Buonaparte, nephew to the late Emperor Napoleon,
aided by some of the most scientific gentlemen of Pennsylvania, is
continuing this valuable and interesting publication.

New York, with great propriety, may be called the commercial capital of
the new world:

  Urbs augusta potens, nulli cessura.

Ere long it will be on the coast of North America what Tyre once was on
that of Syria. In her port are the ships of all nations, and in her
streets is displayed merchandise from all parts of the known world. And
then the approach to it is so enchanting! The verdant fields, the woody
hills, the farms and country-houses form a beautiful landscape as you
sail up to the city of New York.

Broadway is the principal street. It is three miles and a half long. I
am at a loss to know where to look for a street in any part of the
world which has so many attractions as this. There are no steam-engines
to annoy you by filling the atmosphere full of soot and smoke; the
houses have a stately appearance; while the eye is relieved from the
perpetual sameness, which is common in most streets, by lofty and
luxuriant trees.

Nothing can surpass the appearance of the American ladies when they
take their morning walk from twelve to three in Broadway. The stranger
will at once see that they have rejected the extravagant superfluities
which appear in the London and Parisian fashions, and have only
retained as much of those costumes as is becoming to the female form.
This, joined to their own just notions of dress, is what renders the
New York ladies so elegant in their attire. The way they wear the
Leghorn hat deserves a remark or two. With us the formal hand of the
milliner binds down the brim to one fixed shape, and that none of the
handsomest. The wearer is obliged to turn her head full ninety degrees
before she can see the person who is standing by her side. But in New
York the ladies have the brim of the hat not fettered with wire or tape
or ribbon, but quite free and undulating; and by applying the hand to
it they can conceal or expose as much of the face as circumstances
require. This hiding and exposing of the face, by the by, is certainly
a dangerous movement, and often fatal to the passing swain. I am
convinced, in my own mind, that many a determined and unsuspecting
bachelor has been shot down by this sudden manoeuvre before he was
aware that he was within reach of the battery.

The American ladies seem to have an abhorrence (and a very just one,
too) of wearing caps. When one considers for a moment that women wear
the hair long, which Nature has given them both for an ornament and to
keep the head warm, one is apt to wonder by what perversion of good
taste they can be induced to enclose it in a cap. A mob-cap, a
lace-cap, a low cap, a high cap, a flat cap, a cap with ribbons
dangling loose, a cap with ribbons tied under the chin, a peak-cap, an
angular cap, a round cap and a pyramid cap! How would Canova's Venus
look in a mob-cap? If there be any ornament to the head in wearing a
cap, it must surely be a false ornament. The American ladies are
persuaded that the head can be ornamented without a cap. A rosebud or
two, a woodbine, or a sprig of eglantine look well in the braided hair;
and if there be raven locks, a lily or a snowdrop may be interwoven
with effect.

Now that the packets are so safe, and make such quick passages to the
United States, it would be as well if some of our head milliners would
go on board of them in lieu of getting into the diligence for Paris.
They would bring back more taste and less caricature. And if they could
persuade a dozen or two of the farmer's servant-girls to return with
them, we should soon have proof-positive that as good butter and cheese
may be made with the hair braided up, and a daisy or primrose in it, as
butter and cheese made in a cap of barbarous shape, washed, perhaps, in
soapsuds last new moon.

New York has very good hotels and genteel boarding-houses. All charges
included, you do not pay above two dollars a day. Little enough, when
you consider the capital accommodations and the abundance of food.

In this city, as well as in others which I visited, everybody seemed to
walk at his ease. I could see no inclination for jostling, no
impertinent staring at you, nor attempts to create a row in order to
pick your pocket. I would stand for an hour together in Broadway to
observe the passing multitude. There is certainly a gentleness in these
people both to be admired and imitated. I could see very few dogs,
still fewer cats, and but a very small proportion of fat women in the
streets of New York. The climate was the only thing that I had really
to find fault with; and as the autumn was now approaching I began to
think of preparing for warmer regions.

Strangers are apt to get violent colds on account of the sudden change
of the atmosphere. The noon would often be as warm as tropical weather
and the close of day cold and chilly. This must sometimes act with
severity upon the newly-arrived stranger, and it requires more care and
circumspection than I am master of to guard against it. I contracted a
bad and obstinate cough which did not quite leave me till I had got
under the regular heat of the sun near the equator.

I may be asked, was it all good-fellowship and civility during my stay
in the United States? Did no forward person cause offence? Was there no
exhibition of drunkenness or swearing or rudeness? or display of
conduct which disgraces civilised man in other countries? I answer,
very few indeed: scarce any worth remembering, and none worth noticing.
These are a gentle and a civil people. Should a traveller now and then
in the long run witness a few of the scenes alluded to, he ought not,
on his return home, to adduce a solitary instance or two as the custom
of the country. In roving through the wilds of Guiana I have sometimes
seen a tree hollow at heart, shattered and leafless, but I did not on
that account condemn its vigorous neighbours, and put down a memorandum
that the woods were bad; on the contrary, I made allowances: a
thunderstorm, the whirlwind, a blight from heaven might have robbed it
of its bloom and caused its present forbidding appearance. And in
leaving the forest I carried away the impression that, though some few
of the trees were defective, the rest were an ornament to the wilds,
full of uses and virtues, and capable of benefiting the world in a
superior degree.

A man generally travels into foreign countries for his own ends, and I
suspect there is scarcely an instance to be found of a person leaving
his own home solely with the intention of benefiting those amongst whom
he is about to travel. A commercial speculation, curiosity, a wish for
information, a desire to reap benefit from an acquaintance with our
distant fellow-creatures are the general inducements for a man to leave
his own fireside. This ought never to be forgotten, and then the
traveller will journey on under the persuasion that it rather becomes
him to court than expect to be courted, as his own interest is the
chief object of his travels. With this in view he will always render
himself pleasant to the natives; and they are sure to repay his little
acts of courtesy with ample interest, and with a fund of information
which will be of great service to him.

While in the United States I found our Western brother a very pleasant
fellow; but his portrait has been drawn in such different shades by
different travellers who have been through his territory, that it
requires a personal interview before a correct idea can be formed of
his true colours. He is very inquisitive; but it is quite wrong on that
account to tax him with being of an impertinent turn. He merely
interrogates you for information, and, when you have satisfied him on
that score, only ask him in your turn for an account of what is going
on in his own country and he will tell you everything about it with
great good humour and in excellent language. He has certainly hit upon
the way (but I could not make out by what means) of speaking a much
purer English language than that which is in general spoken on the
parent soil. This astonished me much; but it is really the case.
Amongst his many good qualities he has one unenviable and, I may add, a
bad propensity: he is immoderately fond of smoking. He may say that he
learned it from his nurse, with whom it was once much in vogue. In
Dutch William's time (he was a man of bad taste) the English gentleman
could not do without his pipe. During the short space of time that
Corporal Trim was at the inn inquiring after poor Lefevre's health, my
Uncle Toby had knocked the ashes out of three pipes. "It was not till
my Uncle Toby had knocked the ashes out of his third pipe," etc. Now
these times have luckily gone by, and the custom of smoking amongst
genteel Englishmen has nearly died away with them. It is a foul custom;
it makes a foul mouth, and a foul place where the smoker stands.
However, every nation has its whims. John Bull relishes stinking
venison; a Frenchman depopulates whole swamps in quest of frogs; a
Dutchman's pipe is never out of his mouth; a Russian will eat
tallow-candles; and the American indulges in the cigar. "De gustibus
non est disputandum."

Our Western brother is in possession of a country replete with
everything that can contribute to the happiness and comfort of mankind.
His code of laws, purified by experience and common-sense, has fully
answered the expectations of the public. By acting up to the true
spirit of this code he has reaped immense advantages from it. His
advancement as a nation has been rapid beyond all calculation, and,
young as he is, it may be remarked without any impropriety that he is
now actually reading a salutary lesson to the rest of the civilised
world.

It is but some forty years ago that he had the dispute with his nurse
about a dish of tea. She wanted to force the boy to drink it according
to her own receipt. He said he did not like it, and that it absolutely
made him ill. After a good deal of sparring she took up the birch-rod
and began to whip him with an uncommon degree of asperity. When the
poor lad found that he must either drink the nauseous dish of tea or be
flogged to death, he turned upon her in self-defence, showed her to the
outside of the nursery-door, and never more allowed her to meddle with
his affairs.

Since the Independence the population has increased from three to ten
millions. A fine navy has been built, and everything attended to that
could ensure prosperity at home and respect abroad.

The former wilds of North America bear ample testimony to the
achievements of this enterprising people. Forests have been cleared
away, swamps drained, canals dug and flourishing settlements
established. From the shores of the Atlantic an immense column of
knowledge has rolled into the interior. The Mississippi, the Ohio, the
Missouri and their tributary streams have been wonderfully benefited by
it. It now seems as if it were advancing towards the stony mountains,
and probably will not become stationary till it reaches the Pacific
Ocean. This almost immeasurable territory affords a shelter and a home
to mankind in general: Jew or Gentile, king's-man or republican, he
meets with a friendly reception in the United States. His opinions, his
persecutions, his errors or mistakes, however they may have injured him
in other countries, are dead and of no avail on his arrival here.
Provided he keeps the peace he is sure to be at rest.

Politicians of other countries imagine that intestine feuds will cause
a division in this commonwealth; at present there certainly appears to
be no reason for such a conjecture. Heaven forbid that it should
happen. The world at large would suffer by it. For ages yet to come may
this great commonwealth continue to be the United States of North
America.

The sun was now within a week or two of passing into the southern
hemisphere, and the mornings and evenings were too cold to be
comfortable. I embarked for the Island of Antigua with the intention of
calling at the different islands in the Caribbean Sea on my way once
more towards the wilds of Guiana.

We were thirty days in making Antigua, and thanked Providence for
ordering us so long a passage. A tremendous gale of wind, approaching
to a hurricane, had done much damage in the West Indies. Had our
passage been of ordinary length we should inevitably have been caught
in the gale.

St. John's is the capital of Antigua. In better times it may have had
its gaieties and amusements. At present it appears sad and woebegone.
The houses, which are chiefly of wood, seem as if they have not had a
coat of paint for many years; the streets are uneven and ill-paved; and
as the stranger wanders through them, he might fancy that they would
afford a congenial promenade to the man who is about to take his last
leave of surrounding worldly misery before he hangs himself. There had
been no rain for some time, so that the parched and barren pastures
near the town might, with great truth, be called Rosinante's own. The
mules feeding on them put you in mind of Ovid's description of famine:

    Dura cutis, per quam spectari viscera possent.

It is somewhat singular that there is not a single river or brook in
the whole Island of Antigua. In this it differs from Tartary in the
other world, which, according to old writers, has five rivers--viz.
Acheron, Phlegeton, Cocytus, Styx and Lethe.

In this island I found the redstart, described in Wilson's _Ornithology
of the United States_. I wished to learn whether any of these birds
remain the whole year in Antigua and breed there, or whether they all
leave it for the north when the sun comes out of the southern
hemisphere; but upon inquiry I could get no information whatever.

After passing a dull week here I sailed for Guadaloupe, whose bold and
cloud-capped mountains have a grand appearance as you approach the
island. Basseterre, the capital, is a neat town, with a handsome public
walk in the middle of it, well shaded by a row of fine tamarind trees
on each side. Behind the town La Souffrière raises its high romantic
summit, and on a clear day you may see the volcanic smoke which issues
from it.

Nearly midway betwixt Guadaloupe and Dominica you escry the Saintes.
Though high and bold and rocky, they have still a diminutive appearance
when compared with their two gigantic neighbours. You just see
Marigalante to windward of them, some leagues off, about a yard high in
the horizon.

Dominica is majestic in high and rugged mountains. As you sail along it
you cannot help admiring its beautiful coffee-plantations, in places so
abrupt and steep that you would pronounce them almost inaccessible.
Roseau, the capital, is but a small town, and has nothing attractive
except the well-known hospitality of the present harbour-master, who is
particularly attentive to strangers and furnishes them with a world of
information concerning the West Indies. Roseau has seen better days,
and you can trace good taste and judgment in the way in which the town
has originally been laid out.

Some years ago it was visited by a succession of misfortunes which
smote it so severely that it has never recovered its former appearance.
A strong French fleet bombarded it; while a raging fire destroyed its
finest buildings. Some time after an overwhelming flood rolled down the
gullies and fissures of the adjacent mountains and carried all before
it. Men, women and children, houses and property, were all swept away
by this mighty torrent. The terrible scene was said to beggar all
description, and the loss was immense.

Dominica is famous for a large species of frog which the inhabitants
keep in readiness to slaughter for the table. In the woods of this
island the large rhinoceros-beetle is very common: it measures above
six inches in length. In the same woods is found the beautiful
humming-bird, the breast and throat of which are of a brilliant
changing purple. I have searched for this bird in Brazil and through
the whole of the wilds from the Rio Branco, which is a branch of the
Amazons, to the River Paumaron, but never could find it. I was told by
a man in the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly that this humming-bird is
found in Mexico; but upon questioning him more about it his information
seemed to have been acquired by hearsay; and so I concluded that it
does not appear in Mexico. I suspect that it is never found out of the
Antilles.

After leaving Dominica you soon reach the grand and magnificent Island
of Martinico. St. Pierre, its capital, is a fine town, and possesses
every comfort. The inhabitants seem to pay considerable attention to
the cultivation of the tropical fruits. A stream of water runs down the
streets with great rapidity, producing a pleasing effect as you pass
along.

Here I had an opportunity of examining a cuckoo which had just been
shot. It was exactly the same as the metallic cuckoo in Wilson's
_Ornithology_. They told me it is a migratory bird in Martinico. It
probably repairs to this island after its departure from the United
States.

At a little distance from Martinico the celebrated Diamond Rock rises
in insulated majesty out of the sea. It was fortified during the last
war with France, and bravely defended by an English captain.

In a few hours from Martinico you are at St. Lucie, whose rough and
towering mountains fill you with sublime ideas, as you approach its
rocky shore. The town Castries is quite embayed. It was literally blown
to pieces by the fatal hurricane in which the unfortunate governor and
his lady lost their lives. Its present forlorn and gloomy appearance,
and the grass which is grown up in the streets, too plainly show that
its hour of joy is passed away and that it is in mourning, as it were,
with the rest of the British West Indies.

From St. Lucie I proceeded to Barbadoes in quest of a conveyance to the
Island of Trinidad.

Near Bridgetown, the capital of Barbadoes, I saw the metallic cuckoo
already alluded to.

Barbadoes is no longer the merry island it was when I visited it some
years ago:

  Infelix habitum, temporis hujus habet.

There is an old song, to the tune of "La Belle Catharine," which must
evidently have been composed in brighter times:

  Come let us dance and sing,
  While Barbadoes bells do ring;
  Quashi scrapes the fiddle-string,
  And Venus plays the lute.

Quashi's fiddle was silent, and mute was the lute of Venus during my
stay in Barbadoes. The difference betwixt the French and British
islands was very striking. The first appeared happy and content; the
second were filled with murmurs and complaints. The late proceedings in
England concerning slavery and the insurrection in Demerara had
evidently caused the gloom. The abolition of slavery is a question full
of benevolence and fine feelings, difficulties and danger:

  Tantum ne noceas, dum vis prodesse videto.

It requires consummate prudence and a vast fund of true information in
order to draw just conclusions on this important subject. Phaeton, by
awkward driving, set the world on fire: "Sylvæ cum montibus ardent."
Dædalus gave his son a pair of wings without considering the
consequence; the boy flew out of all bounds, lost his wings, and
tumbled into the sea:

  Icarus, Icariis nomina fecit aquis.

When the old man saw what had happened, he damned his own handicraft in
wing-making: "devovitque suas artes." Prudence is a cardinal virtue:

  Omnia consulta mente gerenda tegens.

Foresight is half the battle. "Hombre apercebido, medio combatido,"
says Don Quixote, or Sancho, I do not remember which. Had Queen Bess
weighed well in her own mind the probable consequences of this
lamentable traffic, it is likely she would not have been owner of two
vessels in Sir John Hawkins's squadron, which committed the first
robbery in negro flesh on the coast of Africa. As philanthropy is the
very life and soul of this momentous question on slavery, which is
certainly fraught with great difficulties and danger, perhaps it would
be as well at present for the nation to turn its thoughts to poor
ill-fated Ireland, where oppression, poverty and rags make a
heart-rending appeal to the feelings of the benevolent.

But to proceed. There was another thing which added to the dullness of
Barbadoes and which seemed to have considerable effect in keeping away
strangers from the island. The Legislature had passed a most
extraordinary Bill, by virtue of which every person who arrives at
Barbadoes is obliged to pay two dollars, and two dollars more on his
departure from it. It is called the Alien Bill; and every Barbadian who
leaves or returns to the island, and every Englishman too, pays the tax!

Finding no vessel here for Trinidad, I embarked in a schooner for
Demerara, landed there after being nearly stranded on a sandbank, and
proceeded without loss of time to the forests in the interior. It was
the dry season, which renders a residence in the woods very delightful.

There are three species of jacamar to be found on the different
sandhills and dry savannas of Demerara; but there is another much
larger and far more beautiful to be seen when you arrive in that part
of the country where there are rocks. The jacamar has no affinity to
the woodpecker or kingfisher (notwithstanding what travellers affirm)
either in its haunts or anatomy. The jacamar lives entirely on insects,
but never goes in search of them. It sits patiently for hours together
on the branch of a tree, and when the incautious insect approaches it
flies at it with the rapidity of an arrow, seizes it, and generally
returns to eat it on the branch which it had just quitted. It has not
the least attempt at song, is very solitary, and so tame that you may
get within three or four yards of it before it takes flight. The males
of all the different species which I have examined have white feathers
on the throat. I suspect that all the male jacamars hitherto discovered
have this distinctive mark. I could learn nothing of its incubation.
The Indians informed me that one species of jacamar lays its eggs in
the wood-ants' nests, which are so frequent in the trees of Guiana, and
appear like huge black balls. I wish there had been proof positive of
this; but the breeding-time was over, and in the ants' nests which I
examined I could find no marks of birds having ever been in them. Early
in January the jacamar is in fine plumage for the cabinet of the
naturalist. The largest species measures ten inches and a half from the
point of the beak to the end of the tail. Its name amongst the Indians
is una-waya-adoucati, that is, grandfather of the jacamar. It is
certainly a splendid bird, and in the brilliancy and changeableness of
its metallic colours it yields to none of the Asiatic and African
feathered tribe. The colours of the female are nearly as bright as
those of the male, but she wants the white feathers on the throat. The
large jacamar is pretty common about two hundred miles up the River
Demerara.

Here I had a fine opportunity once more of examining the three-toed
sloth. He was in the house with me for a day or two. Had I taken a
description of him as he lay sprawling on the floor I should have
misled the world and injured natural history. On the ground he appeared
really a bungled composition, and faulty at all points; awkwardness and
misery were depicted on his countenance; and when I made him advance he
sighed as though in pain. Perhaps it was that by seeing him thus out of
his element, as it were, that the Count de Buffon, in his history of
the sloth, asks the question: "Why should not some animals be created
for misery, since, in the human species, the greatest number of
individuals are devoted to pain from the moment of their existence?"
Were the question put to me I would answer, I cannot conceive that any
of them are created for misery. That thousands live in misery there can
be no doubt; but then misery has overtaken them in their path through
life, and wherever man has come up with them I should suppose they have
seldom escaped from experiencing a certain proportion of misery.

After fully satisfying myself that it only leads the world into error
to describe the sloth while he is on the ground or in any place except
in a tree, I carried the one I had in my possession to his native
haunts. As soon as he came in contact with the branch of a tree all
went right with him. I could see as he climbed up into his own country
that he was on the right road to happiness; and felt persuaded more
than ever that the world has hitherto erred in its conjectures
concerning the sloth, on account of naturalists not having given a
description of him when he was in the only position in which he ought
to have been described, namely, clinging to the branch of a tree.

As the appearance of this part of the country bears great resemblance
to Cayenne, and is so near to it, I was in hopes to have found the
grande gobe-mouche of Buffon and the septi-coloured tangara, both of
which are common in Cayenne; but after many diligent searches I did not
succeed, nor could I learn from the Indians that they had ever seen
those two species of birds in these parts.

Here I procured the gross-beak with a rich scarlet body and black head
and throat. Buffon mentions it as coming from America. I had been in
quest of it for years, but could never see it, and concluded that it
was not to be found in Demerara. This bird is of a greenish brown
before it acquires its rich plumage.

Amongst the bare roots of the trees, alongside of this part of the
river, a red crab sometimes makes its appearance as you are passing up
and down. It is preyed upon by a large species of owl which I was
fortunate enough to procure. Its head, back, wings and tail are of so
dark a brown as almost to appear black. The breast is of a somewhat
lighter brown. The belly and thighs are of a dirty yellow-white. The
feathers round the eyes are of the same dark brown as the rest of the
body; and then comes a circle of white which has much the appearance of
the rim of a large pair of spectacles. I strongly suspect that the
dirty yellow-white of the belly and thighs has originally been pure
white, and that it has come to its present colour by means of the bird
darting down upon its prey in the mud. But this is mere conjecture.

Here, too, close to the river, I frequently saw the bird called
sun-bird by the English colonists and tirana by the Spaniards in the
Oroonoque. It is very elegant, and in its outward appearance approaches
near to the heron tribe; still, it does not live upon fish. Flies and
insects are its food, and it takes them just as the heron takes fish,
by approaching near and then striking with its beak at its prey so
quick that it has no chance to escape. The beautiful mixture of grey,
yellow, green, black, white and chestnut in the plumage of this bird
baffles any attempt to give a description of the distribution of them
which would be satisfactory to the reader.

There is something remarkable in the great tinamou which I suspect has
hitherto escaped notice. It invariably roosts in trees, but the feet
are so very small in proportion to the body of this bulky bird that
they can be of no use to it in grasping the branch; and, moreover, the
hind-toe is so short that it does not touch the ground when the bird is
walking. The back part of the leg, just below the knee, is quite flat
and somewhat concave. On it are strong pointed scales, which are very
rough, and catch your finger as you move it along from the knee to the
toe. Now, by means of these scales and the particular flatness of that
part of the leg, the bird is enabled to sleep in safety upon the branch
of a tree.

At the close of day the great tinamou gives a loud, monotonous,
plaintive whistle, and then immediately springs into the tree. By the
light of the full-moon the vigilant and cautious naturalist may see him
sitting in the position already described.

The small tinamou has nothing that can be called a tail. It never lays
more than one egg, which is of a chocolate colour. It makes no nest,
but merely scratches a little hollow in the sand, generally at the foot
of a tree.

Here we have an instance of a bird the size of a partridge, and of the
same tribe, laying only one egg, while the rest of the family, from the
peahen to the quail, are known to lay a considerable number. The foot
of this bird is very small in proportion, but the back part of the leg
bears no resemblance to that of the larger tinamou; hence one might
conclude that it sleeps upon the ground.

Independent of the hollow trees, the vampires have another
hiding-place. They clear out the inside of the large ants' nests and
then take possession of the shell. I had gone about half a day down the
river to a part of the forest where the wallaba-trees were in great
plenty. The seeds had ripened, and I was in hopes to have got the large
scarlet ara, which feeds on them. But unfortunately the time had passed
away, and the seeds had fallen.

While ranging here in the forest we stopped under an ants' nest, and,
by the dirt below, conjectured that it had got new tenants. Thinking it
no harm to dislodge them, "vi et armis," an Indian boy ascended the
tree, but before he reached the nest out flew above a dozen vampires.

I have formerly remarked that I wished to have it in my power to say
that I had been sucked by the vampire. I gave them many an opportunity,
but they always fought shy; and though they now sucked a young man of
the Indian breed very severely, as he was sleeping in his hammock in
the shed next to mine, they would have nothing to do with me. His great
toe seemed to have all the attractions. I examined it minutely as he
was bathing it in the river at daybreak. The midnight surgeon had made
a hole in it almost of a triangular shape, and the blood was then
running from it apace. His hammock was so defiled and stained with
clotted blood that he was obliged to beg an old black woman to wash it.
As she was taking it down to the river-side she spread it out before
me, and shook her head. I remarked that I supposed her own toe was too
old and tough to invite the vampire-doctor to get his supper out of it,
and she answered, with a grin, that doctors generally preferred young
people.

Nobody has yet been able to inform me how it is that the vampire
manages to draw such a large quantity of blood, generally from the toe,
and the patient all the time remains in a profound sleep. I have never
heard of an instance of a man waking under the operation. On the
contrary, he continues in a sound sleep, and at the time of rising his
eyes first inform him that there has been a thirsty thief on his toe.

The teeth of the vampire are very sharp and not unlike those of a rat.
If it be that he inflicts the wound with his teeth (and he seems to
have no other instruments), one would suppose that the acuteness of the
pain would cause the person who is sucked to awake. We are in darkness
in this matter, and I know of no means by which one might be enabled to
throw light upon it. It is to be hoped that some future wanderer
through the wilds of Guiana will be more fortunate than I have been and
catch this nocturnal depredator in the fact. I have once before
mentioned that I killed a vampire which measured thirty-two inches from
wing to wing extended, but others which I have since examined have
generally been from twenty to twenty-six inches in dimension.

The large humming-bird, called by the Indians kara-bimiti, invariably
builds its nest in the slender branches of the trees which hang over
the rivers and creeks. In appearance it is like brown tanned leather,
and without any particle of lining. The rim of the nest is doubled
inwards, and I always conjectured that it had taken this shape on
account of the body of the bird pressing against it while she was
laying her eggs. But this was quite a wrong conjecture. Instinct has
taught the bird to give it this shape in order that the eggs may be
prevented from rolling out.

The trees on the river's bank are particularly exposed to violent gusts
of wind, and while I have been sitting in the canoe and looking on, I
have seen the slender branch of the tree which held the humming-bird's
nest so violently shaken that the bottom of the inside of the nest has
appeared, and had there been nothing at the rim to stop the eggs they
must inevitably have been jerked out into the water. I suspect the
humming-bird never lays more than two eggs. I never found more than two
in any of the many nests which have come in my way. The eggs were
always white without any spots on them.

Probably travellers have erred in asserting that the monkeys of South
America throw sticks and fruit at their pursuers. I have had fine
opportunities of narrowly watching the different species of monkeys
which are found in the wilds betwixt the Amazons and the Oroonoque. I
entirely acquit them of acting on the offensive. When the monkeys are
in the high trees over your head the dead branches will now and then
fall down upon you, having been broken off as the monkeys pass along
them; but they are never hurled from their hands.

Monkeys, commonly so called, both in the old and new continent, may be
classed into three grand divisions: namely, the ape, which has no tail
whatever; the baboon, which has only a short tail; and the monkey,
which has a long tail. There are no apes and no baboons as yet
discovered in the new world. Its monkeys may be very well and very
briefly ranged under two heads: namely, those with hairy and bushy
tails; and those whose tails are bare of hair underneath about six
inches from the extremity. Those with hairy and bushy tails climb just
like the squirrel, and make no use of the tail to help them from branch
to branch. Those which have the tail bare underneath towards the end
find it of infinite advantage to them in their ascent and descent. They
apply it to the branch of the tree, as though it were a supple finger,
and frequently swing by it from the branch like the pendulum of a
clock. It answers all the purposes of a fifth hand to the monkey, as
naturalists have already observed.

The large red monkey of Demerara is not a baboon, though it goes by
that name, having a long pensile tail. [Footnote: I believe _pensile_
is a new-coined word. I have seen it, but do not remember where.]
Nothing can sound more dreadful than its nocturnal howlings. While
lying in your hammock in these gloomy and immeasurable wilds, you hear
him howling at intervals from eleven o'clock at night till daybreak.
You would suppose that half the wild beasts of the forest were
collecting for the work of carnage. Now it is the tremendous roar of
the jaguar as he springs on his prey: now it changes to his terrible
and deep-toned growlings as he is pressed on all sides by superior
force: and now you hear his last dying moan beneath a mortal wound.

Some naturalists have supposed that these awful sounds which you would
fancy are those of enraged and dying wild beasts proceed from a number
of the red monkeys howling in concert. One of them alone is capable of
producing all these sounds; and the anatomists on an inspection of his
trachea will be fully satisfied that this is the case. When you look at
him, as he is sitting on the branch of a tree, you will see a lump in
his throat the size of a large hen's egg. In dark and cloudy weather,
and just before a squall of rain, this monkey will often howl in the
daytime; and if you advance cautiously, and get under the high and
tufted tree where he is sitting, you may have a capital opportunity of
witnessing his wonderful powers of producing these dreadful and
discordant sounds.

His flesh is good food; but when skinned his appearance is so like that
of a young one of our own species that a delicate stomach might
possibly revolt at the idea of putting a knife and fork into it.
However, I can affirm from experience that, after a long and dreary
march through these remote forests, the flesh of this monkey is not to
be sneezed at when boiled in cayenne-pepper or roasted on a stick over
a good fire. A young one tastes not unlike kid, and the old ones have
somewhat the flavour of he-goat.

I mentioned, in a former adventure, that I had hit upon an entirely new
plan of making the skins of quadrupeds retain their exact form and
feature. Intense application to the subject has since that period
enabled me to shorten the process and hit the character of an animal to
a very great nicety, even to the preservation of the pouting lip,
dimples, warts and wrinkles on the face. I got a fine specimen of the
howling monkey, and took some pains with it in order to show the
immense difference that exists betwixt the features of this monkey and
those of man.

I also procured an animal which has caused not a little speculation and
astonishment. In my opinion, his thick coat of hair and great length of
tail put his species out of all question, but then his face and head
cause the inspector to pause for a moment before he ventures to
pronounce his opinion of the classification. He was a large animal, and
as I was pressed for daylight, and moreover, felt no inclination to
have the whole weight of his body upon my back, I contented myself with
his head and shoulders, which I cut off, and have brought them with me
to Europe. [Footnote: My young friend Mr. J. H. Foljambe, eldest son of
Thomas Foljambe, Esq., of Wakefield, has made a drawing of the head and
shoulders of this animal, and it is certainly a most correct and
striking likeness of the original.] I have since found that I acted
quite right in doing so, having had enough to answer for the head
alone, without saying anything of his hands and feet, and of his tail,
which is an appendage, Lord Kames asserts, belongs to us.

The features of this animal are quite of the Grecian cast, and he has a
placidity of countenance which shows that things went well with him
when in life. Some gentlemen of great skill and talent, on inspecting
his head, were convinced that the whole series of its features has been
changed. Others again have hesitated, and betrayed doubts, not being
able to make up their minds whether it be possible that the brute
features of the monkey can be changed into the noble countenance of
man: "Scinditur vulgus." One might argue at considerable length on this
novel subject; and perhaps, after all, produce little more than prolix
pedantry: "Vox et praeterea nihil."

Let us suppose for an instant that it is a new species. Well; "Una
golondrina no hace verano": One swallow does not make summer, as Sancho
Panza says. Still, for all that, it would be well worth while going out
to search for it; and these times of Pasco-Peruvian enterprise are
favourable to the undertaking. Perhaps, gentle reader, you would wish
me to go in quest of another. I would beg leave respectfully to answer
that the way is dubious, long and dreary; and though, unfortunately, I
cannot allege the excuse of "me pia conjux detinet," still I would fain
crave a little repose. I have already been a long while errant:

  Longa mihi exilia, et vastum maris æquor aravi,
  Ne mandate mihi, nam ego sum defessus agendo.

Should anybody be induced to go, great and innumerable are the
discoveries yet to be made in those remote wilds; and should he succeed
in bringing home even a head alone, with features as perfect as those
of that which I have brought, far from being envious of him, I should
consider him a modern Alcides, fully entitled to register a thirteenth
labour. Now if, on the other hand, we argue that this head in question
has had all its original features destroyed, and a set of new ones
given to it, by what means has this hitherto unheard-of change been
effected? Nobody in any of our museums has as yet been able to restore
the natural features to stuffed animals; and he who has any doubts of
this, let him take a living cat or dog and compare them with a stuffed
cat or dog in any of the first-rate museums. A momentary glance of the
eye would soon settle his doubts on this head.

If I have succeeded in effacing the features of a brute, and putting
those of a man in their place, we might be entitled to say that the sun
of Proteus has risen to our museums:

  Unius hic faciem, facies transformat in omnes;
  Nunc homo, nunc tigris; nunc equa, nunc mulier.

If I have effected this, we can now give to one side of the skin of a
man's face the appearance of eighty years and to the other side that of
blooming seventeen. We could make the forehead and eyes serene in
youthful beauty and shape the mouth and jaws to the features of a
malicious old ape. Here is a new field opened to the adventurous and
experimental naturalist: I have trodden it up and down till I am almost
weary. To get at it myself I have groped through an alley which may be
styled in the words of Ovid:

  Arduus, obliquus, caligine densus opaca.

I pray thee, gentle reader, let me out awhile. Time passes on apace;
and I want to take thee to have a peep at the spots where mines are
supposed to exist in Guiana. As the story of this singular head has
probably not been made out to thy satisfaction, perhaps (I may say it
nearly in Corporal Trim's words), on some long and dismal winter's
evening, but not now, I may tell thee more about it; together with that
of another head which is equally striking.

It is commonly reported, and I think there is no reason to doubt the
fact, that when Demerara and Essequibo were under the Dutch flag there
were mines of gold and silver opened near to the River Essequibo. The
miners were not successful in their undertaking, and it is generally
conjectured that their failure proceeded from inexperience.

Now, when you ascend the Essequibo, some hundred miles above the place
where these mines are said to be found, you get into a high, rocky and
mountainous country. Here many of the mountains have a very barren
aspect, producing only a few stinted shrubs, and here and there a tuft
of coarse grass. I could not learn that they have ever been explored,
and at this day their mineralogy is totally unknown to us. The Indians
are so thinly scattered in this part of the country that there would be
no impropriety in calling it uninhabited:

  Apparent rari errantes in gurgite vasto.

It remains to be yet learnt whether this portion of Guiana be worth
looking after with respect to its supposed mines. The mining
speculations at present are flowing down another channel. The rage in
England for working the mines of other states has now risen to such a
pitch, that it would require a considerable degree of caution in a mere
wanderer of the woods in stepping forward to say anything that might
tend to raise or depress the spirits of the speculators.

A question or two, however, might be asked. When the revolted colonies
shall have repaired in some measure the ravages of war, and settled
their own political economy upon a firm foundation, will they quietly
submit to see foreigners carrying away those treasures which are
absolutely part of their own soil, and which necessity (necessity has
no law) forced them to barter away in their hour of need? Now, if it
should so happen that the masters of the country begin to repent of
their bargain and become envious of the riches which foreigners carry
off, many a teasing law might be made and many a vexatious enaction
might be put in force that would in all probability bring the
speculators into trouble and disappointment.

Besides this consideration there is another circumstance which ought
not to be overlooked. I allude to the change of masters nearly
throughout the whole of America. It is a curious subject for the
European philosopher to moralise upon and for the politician to
examine. The more they consider it, the more they will be astonished.
If we may judge by what has already taken place, we are entitled to
predict that in a very few years more no European banner will be seen
to float in any part of the new world. Let us take a cursory view of it.

England some years ago possessed a large portion of the present United
States. France had Louisiana; Spain held the Floridas, Mexico, Darien,
Terra Firma, Buenos Ayres, Paraguay, Chili, Peru and California; and
Portugal ruled the whole of Brazil. All these immense regions are now
independent states. England, to be sure, still has Canada, Nova Scotia
and a few creeks on the coast of Labrador; also a small settlement in
Honduras, and the wilds of Demerara and Essequibo; and these are all.
France has not a foot of ground, except the forests of Cayenne.
Portugal has lost every province; Spain is blockaded in nearly her last
citadel; and the Dutch flag is only seen in Surinam. Nothing more now
remains to Europe of this immense continent where but a very few years
ago she reigned triumphant.

With regard to the West India Islands, they may be considered as the
mere outposts of this mammoth domain. St. Domingo has already shaken
off her old masters and become a star of observation to the rest of the
sable brethren. The anti-slavery associations of England, full of
benevolence and activity, have opened a tremendous battery upon the
last remaining forts which the lords of the old continent still hold in
the new world; and in all probability will not cease firing till they
shall have caused the last flag to be struck of Europe's late mighty
empire in the transatlantic regions. It cannot well be doubted but that
the sable hordes in the West Indies will like to follow good example
whenever they shall have it in their power to do so.

Now with St. Domingo as an example before them, how long will it be
before they try to raise themselves into independent states? And if
they should succeed in crushing us in these our last remaining
tenements, I would bet ten to one that none of the new Governments will
put on mourning for our departure out of the new world. We must well
remember that our own Government was taxed with injustice and
oppression by the United States during their great struggle; and the
British press for years past has, and is still, teeming with every kind
of abuse and unbecoming satire against Spain and Portugal for their
conduct towards the now revolted colonies.

France also comes in for her share of obloquy. Now this being the case,
will not America at large wish most devoutly for the day to come when
Europe shall have no more dominion over her? Will she not say to us:
Our new forms of government are very different from your old ones. We
will trade with you, but we shall always be very suspicious of you as
long as you retain possession of the West Indies, which are, as we may
say, close to our door-steads. You must be very cautious how you
interfere with our politics; for, if we find you meddling with them,
and by that means cause us to come to loggerheads, we shall be obliged
to send you back to your own homes three or four thousand miles across
the Atlantic; and then with that great ditch betwixt us we may hope we
shall be good friends. He who casts his eye on the East Indies will
there see quite a different state of things. The conquered districts
have merely changed one European master for another; and I believe
there is no instance of any portion of the East Indies throwing off the
yoke of the Europeans and establishing a Government of their own.

Ye who are versed in politics, and study the rise and fall of empires,
and know what is good for civilised man and what is bad for him, or, in
other words, what will make him happy and what will make him
miserable--tell us how comes it that Europe has lost almost her last
acre in the boundless expanse of territory which she so lately
possessed in the West, and still contrives to hold her vast property in
the extensive regions of the East?

But whither am I going? I find myself on a new and dangerous path.
Pardon, gentle reader, this sudden deviation. Methinks I hear thee
saying to me:

  Tramite quo tendis, majoraque viribus audes.

I grant that I have erred, but I will do so no more. In general I avoid
politics; they are too heavy for me, and I am aware that they have
caused the fall of many a strong and able man; they require the
shoulders of Atlas to support their weight.

When I was in the rocky mountains of Macoushia, in the month of June
1812, I saw four young cock-of-the-rocks in an Indian's hut; they had
been taken out of the nest that week. They were of a uniform dirty
brown colour, and by the position of the young feathers upon the head
you might see that there would be a crest there when the bird arrived
at maturity. By seeing young ones in the month of June I immediately
concluded that the old cock-of-the-rock would be in fine plumage from
the end of November to the beginning of May; and that the naturalist
who was in quest of specimens for his museum ought to arrange his plans
in such a manner as to be able to get into Macoushia during these
months. However, I find now that no exact period can be fixed; for in
December 1824 an Indian in the River Demerara gave me a young
cock-of-the-rock not a month old, and it had just been brought from the
Macoushi country. By having a young specimen at this time of the year
it puts it out of one's power to say at what precise time the old birds
are in full plumage. I took it on board a ship with me for England, but
it was so very susceptible of cold that it shivered and died three days
after we had passed Antigua.

If ever there should be a great demand for large supplies of
gum-elastic, commonly called india-rubber, it may be procured in
abundance far away in the wilds of Demerara and Essequibo.

Some years ago, when I was in the Macoushi country, there was a capital
trick played upon me about india-rubber. It is, almost too good to be
left out of these wanderings, and it shows that the wild and uneducated
Indian is not without abilities. Weary and sick and feeble through loss
of blood, I arrived at some Indian huts which were about two hours
distant from the place where the gum-elastic trees grew. After a day
and a night's rest I went to them, and with my own hands made a fine
ball of pure india-rubber; it hardened immediately as it became exposed
to the air, and its elasticity was almost incredible.

While procuring it, exposure to the rain, which fell in torrents,
brought on a return of inflammation in the stomach, and I was obliged
to have recourse again to the lancet, and to use it with an unsparing
hand. I wanted another ball, but was not in a state the next morning to
proceed to the trees. A fine interesting young Indian, observing my
eagerness to have it, tendered his services, and asked two handfuls of
fish-hooks for his trouble.

Off he went, and to my great surprise returned in a very short time.
Bearing in mind the trouble and time it had cost me to make a ball, I
could account for this Indian's expedition in no other way except that,
being an inhabitant of the forest, he knew how to go about his work in
a much shorter way than I did. His ball, to be sure, had very little
elasticity in it. I tried it repeatedly, but it never rebounded a yard
high. The young Indian watched me with great gravity, and when I made
him understand that I expected the ball would dance better, he called
another Indian who knew a little English to assure me that I might be
quite easy on that score. The young rogue, in order to render me a
complete dupe, brought the new moon to his aid. He gave me to
understand that the ball was like the little moon which he pointed to,
and by the time it grew big and old the ball would bounce beautifully.
This satisfied me, and I gave him the fish-hooks, which he received
without the least change of countenance.

I bounced the ball repeatedly for two months after, but I found that it
still remained in its infancy. At last I suspected that the savage (to
use a vulgar phrase) had "come Yorkshire" over me; and so I determined
to find out how he had managed to take me in. I cut the ball in two,
and then saw what a taught trick he had played me. It seems he had
chewed some leaves into a lump the size of a walnut, and then dipped
them in the liquid gum-elastic. It immediately received a coat about as
thick as a sixpence. He then rolled some more leaves round it and gave
it another coat. He seems to have continued this process till he made
the ball considerably larger than the one I had procured; and in order
to put his roguery out of all chance of detection he made the last and
outer coat thicker than a dollar. This Indian would, no doubt, have
thriven well in some of our great towns.

Finding that the rainy season was coming on, I left the wilds of
Demerara and Essequibo with regret towards the close of December 1824,
and reached once more the shores of England after a long and unpleasant
passage.

Ere we part, kind reader, I could wish to draw a little of thy
attention to the instructions which are to be found at the end of this
book. Twenty years have now rolled away since I first began to examine
the specimens of zoology in our museums. As the system of preparation
is founded in error, nothing but deformity, distortion and
disproportion will be the result of the best intentions and utmost
exertions of the workman. Canova's education, taste and genius enabled
him to present to the world statues so correct and beautiful that they
are worthy of universal admiration. Had a common stonecutter tried his
hand upon the block out of which these statues were sculptured, what a
lamentable want of symmetry and fine countenance there would have been.
Now when we reflect that the preserved specimens in our museums and
private collections are always done upon a wrong principle, and
generally by low and illiterate people whose daily bread depends upon
the shortness of time in which they can get through their work, and
whose opposition to the true way of preparing specimens can only be
surpassed by their obstinacy in adhering to the old method, can we any
longer wonder at their want of success or hope to see a single specimen
produced that will be worth looking at? With this I conclude, hoping
that thou hast received some information, and occasionally had a smile
upon thy countenance, while perusing these _Wanderings_; and begging at
the same time to add that:

  Well I know thy penetration
    Many a stain and blot will see,
  In the languid long narration,
    Of my sylvan errantry.

  For the pen too oft was weary,
    In the wandering writer's hand,
  As he roved through deep and dreary
    Forests, in a distant land.

  Show thy mercy, gentle reader,
    Let him not entreat in vain;
  It will be his strength's best feeder,
    Should he ever go again.

  And who knows, how soon complaining
    Of a cold and wifeless home,
  He may leave it, and again in
    Equatorial regions roam.

C.W.


       *       *       *       *       *



ON PRESERVING BIRDS FOR CABINETS OF NATURAL HISTORY


Were you to pay as much attention to birds as the sculptor does to the
human frame, you would immediately see, on entering a museum, that the
specimens are not well done.

This remark will not be thought severe when you reflect that that which
once was a bird has probably been stretched, stuffed, stiffened and
wired by the hand of a common clown. Consider, likewise, how the
plumage must have been disordered by too much stretching or drying, and
perhaps sullied, or at least deranged, by the pressure of a coarse and
heavy hand--plumage which, ere life had fled from within it, was
accustomed to be touched by nothing rougher than the dew of heaven and
the pure and gentle breath of air.

In dissecting, three things are necessary to ensure success: viz. a
penknife, a hand not coarse or clumsy, and practice. The first will
furnish you with the means; the second will enable you to dissect; and
the third cause you to dissect well. These may be called the mere
mechanical requisites.

In stuffing, you require cotton, a needle and thread, a little stick
the size of a common knitting-needle, glass eyes, a solution of
corrosive sublimate, and any kind of a common temporary box to hold the
specimen. These also may go under the same denomination as the former.
But if you wish to excel in the art, if you wish to be in ornithology
what Angelo was in sculpture, you must apply to profound study and your
own genius to assist you. And these may be called the scientific
requisites.

You must have a complete knowledge of ornithological anatomy. You must
pay close attention to the form and attitude of the bird, and know
exactly the proportion each curve, or extension, or contraction, or
expansion of any particular part bears to the rest of the body. In a
word, you must possess Promethean boldness and bring down fire and
animation, as it were, into your preserved specimen.

Repair to the haunts of birds on plains and mountains, forests, swamps
and lakes, and give up your time to examine the economy of the
different orders of birds.

Then you will place your eagle in attitude commanding, the same as
Nelson stood in in the day of battle on the _Victory's_ quarter-deck.
Your pie will seem crafty and just ready to take flight, as though
fearful of being surprised in some mischievous plunder. Your sparrow
will retain its wonted pertness by means of placing his tail a little
elevated and giving a moderate arch to the neck. Your vulture will show
his sluggish habits by having his body nearly parallel to the earth,
his wings somewhat drooping, and their extremities under the tail
instead of above it--expressive of ignoble indolence.

Your dove will be in artless, fearless innocence; looking mildly at you
with its neck not too much stretched, as if uneasy in its situation; or
drawn too close into the shoulders, like one wishing to avoid a
discovery; but in moderate, perpendicular length, supporting the head
horizontally, which will set off the breast to the best advantage. And
the breast ought to be conspicuous, and have this attention paid to
it--for when a young lady is sweet and gentle in her manners, kind and
affable to those around her, when her eyes stand in tears of pity for
the woes of others, and she puts a small portion of what Providence has
blessed her with into the hand of imploring poverty and hunger, then we
say she has the breast of a turtle-dove.

You will observe how beautifully the feathers of a bird are arranged:
one falling over the other in nicest order; and that where this
charming harmony is interrupted, the defect, though not noticed by an
ordinary spectator, will appear immediately to the eye of a naturalist.
Thus a bird not wounded and in perfect feather must be procured if
possible, for the loss of feathers can seldom be made good; and where
the deficiency is great, all the skill of the artist will avail him
little in his attempt to conceal the defect, because in order to hide
it he must contract the skin, bring down the upper feathers, and shove
in the lower ones, which would throw all the surrounding parts into
contortion.

You will also observe that the whole of the skin does not produce
feathers, and that it is very tender where the feathers do not grow.
The bare parts are admirably formed for expansion about the throat and
stomach, and they fit into the different cavities of the body at the
wings, shoulders, rump and thighs with wonderful exactness; so that, in
stuffing the bird, if you make an even, rotund surface of the skin
where these cavities existed, in lieu of re-forming them, all symmetry,
order and proportion are lost for ever.

You must lay it down as an absolute rule that the bird is to be
entirely skinned, otherwise you can never succeed in forming a true and
pleasing specimen.

You will allow this to be just, after reflecting a moment on the nature
of the fleshy parts and tendons, which are often left in: first, they
require to be well seasoned with aromatic spices; secondly, they must
be put into the oven to dry; thirdly, the heat of the fire, and the
natural tendency all cured flesh has to shrink and become hard, render
the specimen withered, distorted and too small; fourthly, the inside
then becomes like a ham, or any other dried meat. Ere long the insects
claim it as their own, the feathers begin to drop off, and you have the
hideous spectacle of death in ragged plumage.

Wire is of no manner of use, but, on the contrary, a great nuisance;
for where it is introduced a disagreeable stiffness and derangement of
symmetry follow.

The head and neck can be placed in any attitude, the body supported,
the wings closed, extended or elevated, the tail depressed, raised or
expanded, the thighs set horizontal or oblique, without any aid from
wire. Cotton will effect all this.

A very small proportion of the skull-bone, say from the forepart of the
eyes to the bill, is to be left in; though even this is not absolutely
necessary. Part of the wing-bones, the jaw-bones and half of the
thigh-bones remain. Everything else--flesh, fat, eyes, bones, brains
and tendons --is all to be taken away.

While dissecting it will be of use to keep in mind that, in taking off
the skin from the body by means of your fingers and a little knife, you
must try to shove it, in lieu of pulling it, lest you stretch it.

That you must press as lightly as possible on the bird, and every now
and then take a view of it to see that the feathers, etc., are all
right.

That when you come to the head you must take care that the body of the
skin rests on your knee; for if you allow it to dangle from your hand
its own weight will stretch it too much.

That, throughout the whole operation, as fast as you detach the skin
from the body you must put cotton immediately betwixt the body and it;
and this will effectually prevent any fat, blood or moisture from
coming in contact with the plumage. Here it may be observed that on the
belly you find an inner skin, which keeps the bowels in their place. By
a nice operation with the knife you can cut through the outer skin and
leave the inner skin whole. Attention to this will render your work
very clean; so that with a little care in other parts you may skin a
bird without even soiling your finger-ends.

As you can seldom get a bird without shooting it, a line or two on this
head will be necessary. If the bird be still alive, press it hard with
your finger and thumb just behind the wings, and it will soon expire.
Carry it by the legs, and then the body being reversed the blood cannot
escape down the plumage through the shot-holes. As blood will often
have issued out before you have laid hold of the bird, find out the
shot-holes by dividing the feathers with your fingers, and blowing on
them, and then with your penknife, or the leaf of a tree, carefully
remove the clotted blood and put a little cotton on the hole. If, after
all, the plumage has not escaped the marks of blood, or if it has
imbibed slime from the ground, wash the part in water, without soap,
and keep gently agitating the feathers with your fingers till they are
quite dry. Were you to wash them and leave them to dry by themselves,
they would have a very mean and shrivelled appearance.

In the act of skinning a bird you must either have it upon a table or
upon your knee. Probably you will prefer your knee; because when you
cross one knee over the other and have the bird upon the uppermost, you
can raise it to your eye, or lower it at pleasure, by means of the foot
on the ground, and then your knee will always move in unison with your
body, by which much stooping will be avoided and lassitude prevented.

With these precautionary hints in mind, we will now proceed to dissect
a bird. Suppose we take a hawk. The little birds will thank us with a
song for his death, for he has oppressed them sorely; and in size he is
just the thing. His skin is also pretty tough, and the feathers adhere
to it.

We will put close by us a little bottle of the solution of corrosive
sublimate in alcohol; also a stick like a common knitting-needle and a
handful or two of cotton. Now fill the mouth and nostrils of the bird
with cotton, and place it upon your knee on its back, with its head
pointing to your left shoulder. Take hold of the knife with your two
first fingers and thumb, the edge upwards. You must not keep the point
of the knife perpendicular to the body of the bird, because, were you
to hold it so, you would cut the inner skin of the belly, and thus let
the bowels out. To avoid this let your knife be parallel to the body,
and then, you will divide the outer skin with great ease.

Begin on the belly below the breastbone, and cut down the middle, quite
to the vent. This done, put the bird in any convenient position, and
separate the skin from the body till you get at the middle joint of the
thigh. Cut it through, and do nothing more there at present, except
introducing cotton all the way on that side, from the vent to the
breastbone. Do exactly the same on the opposite side.

Now place the bird perpendicular, its breast resting on your knee, with
its back towards you. Separate the skin from the body on each side at
the vent, and never mind at present the part from the vent to the root
of the tail. Bend the tail gently down to the back, and while your
finger and thumb are keeping down the detached parts of the skin on
each side of the vent, cut quite across and deep, till you see the
backbone, near the oil-gland at the root of the tail. Sever the
backbone at the joint, and then you have all the root of the tail,
together with the oil-gland, dissected from the body. Apply plenty of
cotton.

After this seize the end of the backbone with your finger and thumb:
and now you can hold up the bird clear of your knee and turn it round
and round as occasion requires. While you are holding it thus,
contrive, with the help of your other hand and knife, by cutting and
shoving, to get the skin pushed up till you come to where the wing
joins on to the body. Forget not to apply cotton; cut this joint
through; do the same at the other wing, add cotton, and gently push the
skin over the head; cut out the roots of the ears, which lie very deep
in the head, and continue skinning till you reach the middle of the
eye; cut the nictitating membrane quite through, otherwise you would
tear the orbit of the eye; and after this nothing difficult intervenes
to prevent your arriving at the root of the bill.

When this is effected cut away the body, leaving a little bit of skull,
just as much as will reach to the fore-part of the eye; clean well the
jaw-bones, fasten a little cotton at the end of your stick, dip it into
the solution, and touch the skull and corresponding part of the skin,
as you cannot well get to these places afterwards. From the time of
pushing the skin over the head you are supposed to have had the bird
resting upon your knee; keep it there still, and with great caution and
tenderness return the head through the inverted skin, and when you see
the beak appearing pull it very gently till the head comes out
unruffled and unstained.

You may now take the cotton out of the mouth; cut away all the
remaining flesh at the palate, and whatever may have remained at the
under-jaw.

Here is now before you the skin without loss of any feathers, and all
the flesh, fat and uncleaned bones out of it, except the middle joint
of the wings, one bone of the thighs, and the fleshy root of the tail.
The extreme point of the wing is very small, and has no flesh on it,
comparatively speaking, so that it requires no attention except
touching it with the solution from the outside. Take all in the flesh
from the remaining joint of the wing, and tie a thread about four
inches long to the end of it; touch all with the solution, and put the
wing-bone back into its place. In baring this bone you must by no means
pull the skin; you would tear it to pieces beyond all doubt, for the
ends of the long feathers are attached to the bone itself; you must
push off the skin with your thumb-nail and forefinger. Now skin the
thigh quite to the knee; cut away all flesh and tendons, and leave the
bone; form an artificial thigh round it with cotton; apply the solution
and draw back the skin over the artificial thigh: the same to the other
thigh.

Lastly, proceed to the tail: take out the inside of the oil-gland,
remove all the remaining flesh from the root till you see the ends of
the tail-feathers; give it the solution and replace it. Now take out
all the cotton which you have been putting into the body from time to
time to preserve the feathers from grease and stains. Place the bird
upon your knee on its back; tie together the two threads which you had
fastened to the end of the wing-joints, leaving exactly the same space
betwixt them as your knowledge in anatomy informs you existed there
when the bird was entire; hold the skin open with your finger and
thumb, and apply the solution to every part of the inside. Neglect the
head and neck at present; they are to receive it afterwards.

Fill the body moderately with cotton, lest the feathers on the belly
should be injured whilst you are about the following operation. You
must recollect that half of the thigh, or in other words, one joint of
the thigh-bone, has been cut away. Now, as this bone never moved
perpendicular to the body, but, on the contrary, in an oblique
direction, of course, as soon as it is cut off, the remaining part of
the thigh and leg having nothing now to support them obliquely, must
naturally fall to their perpendicular. Hence the reason why the legs
appear considerably too long. To correct this, take your needle and
thread, fasten the end round the bone inside, and then push the needle
through the skin just opposite to it. Look on the outside, and after
finding the needle amongst the feathers, tack up the thigh under the
wing with several strong stitches. This will shorten the thigh and
render it quite capable of supporting the weight of the body without
the help of wire. This done, take out every bit of cotton except the
artificial thighs, and adjust the wing-bones (which are connected by
the thread) in the most even manner possible, so that one joint does
not appear to lie lower than the other; for unless they are quite
equal, the wings themselves will be unequal when you come to put them
in their proper attitude. Here, then, rests the shell of the poor hawk,
ready to receive from your skill and judgment the size, the shape, the
features and expression it had, ere death and your dissecting hand
brought it to its present still and formless state. The cold hand of
death stamps deep its mark upon the prostrate victim. When the heart
ceases to beat, and the blood no longer courses through the veins, the
features collapse, and the whole frame seems to shrink within itself.
If then you have formed your idea of the real appearance of the bird
from a dead specimen, you will be in error. With this in mind, and at
the same time forming your specimen a trifle larger than life, to make
up for what it will lose in drying, you will reproduce a bird that will
please you.

It is now time to introduce the cotton for an artificial body by means
of the little stick like a knitting-needle; and without any other aid
or substance than that of this little stick and cotton, your own genius
must produce those swellings and cavities, that just proportion, that
elegance and harmony of the whole, so much admired in animated nature,
so little attended to in preserved specimens. After you have introduced
the cotton, sew up the orifice you originally made in the belly,
beginning at the vent. And from time to time, till you arrive at the
last stitch, keep adding a little cotton in order that there may be no
deficiency there. Lastly, dip your stick into the solution, and put it
down the throat three or four times, in order that every part may
receive it.

When the head and neck are filled with cotton quite to your liking,
close the bill as in nature. A little bit of bees' wax at the point of
it will keep the mandibles in their proper place. A needle must be
stuck into the lower mandible perpendicularly. You will shortly see the
use of it. Bring also the feet together by a pin, and then run a thread
through the knees, by which you may draw them to each other as near as
you judge proper. Nothing now remains to be added but the eyes. With
your little stick make a hollow in the cotton within the orbit, and
introduce the glass eyes through the orbit. Adjust the orbit to them as
in nature, and that requires no other fastener.

Your close inspection of the eyes of animals will already have informed
you that the orbit is capable of receiving a much larger body than that
part of the eye which appears within it when in life. So that, were you
to proportion your eye to the size the orbit is capable of receiving,
it would be far too large. Inattention to this has caused the eyes of
every specimen in the best cabinets of natural history to be out of all
proportion. To prevent this, contract the orbit by means of a very
small delicate needle and thread at that part of it farthest from the
beak. This may be done with such nicety that the stitch cannot be
observed; and thus you have the artificial eye in true proportion.

After this touch the bill, orbits, feet and former oil-gland at the
root of the tail with the solution, and then you have given to the hawk
everything necessary, except attitude and a proper degree of
elasticity, two qualities very essential.

Procure any common ordinary box, fill one end of it about three-fourths
up to the top with cotton, forming a sloping plane. Make a moderate
hollow in it to receive the bird. Now take the hawk in your hands and,
after putting the wings in order, place it in the cotton with its legs
in a sitting posture. The head will fall down. Never mind. Get a cork
and run three pins into the end, just like a three-legged stool. Place
it under the bird's bill, and run the needle which you formerly fixed
there into the head of the cork. This will support the bird's head
admirably. If you wish to lengthen the neck, raise the cork by putting
more cotton under it. If the head is to be brought forward, bring the
cork nearer to the end of the box. If it requires to be set backwards
on the shoulders, move back the cork.

As in drying the back part of the neck will shrink more than the fore
part, and thus throw the beak higher than you wish it to be, putting
you in mind of a stargazing horse, prevent this fault by tying a thread
to the beak and fastening it to the end of the box with a pin or
needle. If you choose to elevate the wings, do so, and support them
with cotton; and should you wish to have them particularly high, apply
a little stick under each wing, and fasten the end of them to the side
of the box with a little bees' wax.

If you would have the tail expanded, reverse the order of the feathers,
beginning from the two middle ones. When dry, replace them in their
true order, and the tail will preserve for ever the expansion you have
given it. Is the crest to be erect? Move the feathers in a contrary
direction to that in which they lie for a day or two, and it will never
fall down after.

Place the box anywhere in your room out of the influence of the sun,
wind and fire; for the specimen must dry very slowly if you wish to
reproduce every feature. On this account the solution of corrosive
sublimate is uncommonly serviceable; for at the same time that it
totally prevents putrefaction, it renders the skin moist and flexible
for many days. While the bird is drying, take it out, and replace it in
its position once every day. Then, if you see that any part begins to
shrink into disproportion, you can easily remedy it.

The small covert-feathers of the wings are apt to rise a little,
because the skin will come in contact with the bone which remains in
the wing. Pull gently the part that rises with your finger and thumb
for a day or two. Press the feathers down. The skin will adhere no more
to the bone, and they will cease to rise.

Every now and then touch and retouch all the different parts of the
features in order to render them distinct and visible, correcting at
the same time any harshness or unnatural risings or sinkings, flatness
or rotundity. This is putting the last finishing hand to it.

In three or four days the feet lose their natural elasticity, and the
knees begin to stiffen. When you observe this, it is time to give the
legs any angle you wish, and arrange the toes for a standing position,
or curve them to your finger. If you wish to set the bird on a branch,
bore a little hole under each foot a little way up the leg; and having
fixed two proportional spikes on the branch, you can, in a moment,
transfer the bird from your finger to it, and from it to your finger at
pleasure.

When the bird is quite dry, pull the thread out of the knees, take away
the needle, etc., from under the bill, and all is done. In lieu of
being stiff with wires, the cotton will have given a considerable
elasticity to every part of your bird; so that, when perching on your
finger, if you press it down with the other hand, it will rise again.
You need not fear that your hawk will alter, or its colours fade. The
alcohol has introduced the sublimate into every part and pore of the
skin, quite to the roots of the feathers. Its use is twofold: firstly,
it has totally prevented all tendency to putrefaction; and thus a sound
skin has attached itself to the roots of the feathers. You may take
hold of a single one, and from it suspend five times the weight of the
bird. You may jerk it; it will still adhere to the skin, and after
repeated trials often break short. Secondly, as no part of the skin has
escaped receiving particles of sublimate contained in the alcohol,
there is not a spot exposed to the depredation of insects: for they
will never venture to attack any substance which has received corrosive
sublimate.

You are aware that corrosive sublimate is the most fatal poison to
insects that is known. It is anti-putrescent; so is alcohol; and they
are both colourless, of course; they cannot leave a stain behind them.
The spirit penetrates the pores of the skin with wonderful velocity,
deposits invisible particles of the sublimate and flies off. The
sublimate will not injure the skin, and nothing can detach it from the
parts where the alcohol has left it. [Footnote: All the feathers
require to be touched with the solution, in order that they may be
preserved from the depredation of the moth. The surest way of
proceeding is to immerse the bird in the solution of corrosive
sublimate, and then dry it before you begin to dissect it.]

Furs of animals immersed in this solution will retain their pristine
brightness and durability in any climate.

Take the finest curled feather from a lady's head, dip it in the
solution, and shake it gently till it be dry; you will find that the
spirit will fly off in a few minutes, not a curl in the feather will be
injured, and the sublimate will preserve it from the depredation of the
insect.

Perhaps it may be satisfactory to add here that some years ago I did a
bird upon this plan in Demerara. It remained there two years. It was
then conveyed to England, where it stayed five months, and returned to
Demerara. After being four years more there it was conveyed back again
through the West Indies to England, where it has now been near five
years, unfaded and unchanged.

On reflecting that this bird has been twice in the Temperate and Torrid
Zone, and remained some years in the hot and humid climate of Demerara,
only six degrees from the line, and where almost everything becomes a
prey to the insect, and that it is still as sound and bright as when it
was first done, it will not be thought extravagant to surmise that this
specimen will retain its pristine form and colours for years after the
hand that stuffed it has mouldered into dust.

I have shown this art to the naturalists in Brazil, Cayenne, Demerara,
Oroonoque and Rome, and to the royal cabinets of Turin and Florence. A
severe accident prevented me from communicating it to the cabinet of
Paris, according to my promise. A word or two more, and then we will
conclude.

A little time and experience will enable you to produce a finished
specimen: "Mox similis volucri, mox vera volucris." If your early
performance should not correspond with your expectations, do not let
that cast you down. You cannot become an adept all at once. The poor
hawk itself, which you have just been dissecting, waited to be fledged
before it durst rise on expanded pinion, and had parental aid and
frequent practice ere it could soar with safety and ease beyond the
sight of man.

Little more remains to be added, except that what has been penned down
with regard to birds may be applied in some measure to serpents,
insects and four-footed animals.

Should you find these instructions too tedious, let the wish to give
you every information plead in their defence. They might have been
shorter; but Horace says, by labouring to be brief you become obscure.

If by their means you should be enabled to procure specimens from
foreign parts in better preservation than usual, so that the naturalist
may have it in his power to give a more perfect description of them
than has hitherto been the case; should they cause any unknown species
to be brought into public view, and thus add a little more to the page
of natural history, it will please me much. But should they
unfortunately tend to cause a wanton expense of life; should they tempt
you to shoot the pretty songster warbling near your door, or destroy
the mother as she is sitting on the nest to warm her little ones, or
kill the father as he is bringing a mouthful of food for their
support--Oh, then! deep indeed will be the regret that I ever wrote
them.

Adieu,

CHARLES WATERTON.

FINIS


  GLOSSARY


  Acaiari, _the resinous gum of
    the hiawa-tree_.
  Acouri, _one of the agutis_;
    a rodent about the size of a rabbit.
  Acuero, _a species of palm_.
  Æta, _a palm of great size_;
    it may reach a hundred feet
    before the leaves begin.
  Ai, _the three-toed sloth_.
  Albicore, _a fish closely related to
    the tunny_.
  Anhinga, _the darter or snake-bird_;
    a cormorant-like bird.
  Ant-bear, _now called the ant-eater_.
  Ara, _a macaw_.
  Ara, Scarlet, _the scarlet macaw_.

  Bisa, _one of the Saki monkeys_.

  Cabbage Mountain, _one of the most
    beautiful of the palm-trees_.
  Camoudi, _the anaconda._
  Campanero, _the bell-bird._
  Caprimulgus, _one of the goat-suckers._
  Cassique, _a bird of the hang-nest
    family._
  Cayman, _an alligator, as here used._
  Cotingas, _chatterers._
  Couguar, _the puma._
  Coulacanara, _the boa-constrictor._
  Courada, _the white mangrove tree._
  Crabier, _the boat-bill--a small heron._
  Crickets, _cicadas._
  Cuia, _one of the Trojans._
  Curlew, Scarlet, _the scarlet ibis._

  Dolphin, _a coryphene--a true fish--not
    a cetacean._

  Guana, _the iguana lizard._

  Hannaquoi, _one of the curassows._
  Houtou, _one of the motmots._
  Humming-bird Ara or Karabimiti,
    _the crimson topaz._

  Jacamar, _Jacana_, as anglicized--_the
    spur-winged waterhen._

  Labba, _a rodent allied to the
    cavies._

  Naudapoa, _an ibis._

  Patasa, _unidentified._
  Phaeton, _the tropic bird._
  Pi-pi-yo, _unidentified._
  Porcupine, _the tree-porcupine._

  Quake, _a basket of open-work, very
    elastic and expansive._

  Redstart, _quite distinct from the
    English redstart._

  Sacawinki, _one of the squirrel
    monkeys._
  Sangre-do-buey, _the scarlet tanager._

  Tangara, _now called tanager. See
    Sangre-do-buey._

  Waracaba, _the trumpeter._
  Whip-poor-will, _one of the goat-suckers._
  Who-are-you? _one of the goat-suckers._
  Willy-come-go, _one of the goat-suckers._
  Work-away, _one of the goat-suckers._

  Yawaraciri, _one of the blue
    creepers._



  ACAIARI
  Ai, _see_ Sloths
  Alligators
  American cities,
    classical names of
  American ladies,
    praise of;
    their attire
  American manners
  Ant-bears
  Ant-eating birds
  Antigua
  Ants;
    an ingredient of wourali poison;
    nests of
  Apoura-poura, River
  Ara (macaw)
  Armadillo
  Arrowroot,
    wild
  Arrows, Indian
  Arthur, King
  Asses,
    effect of wourali poison on
  Aura vulture

  Banks, Sir Joseph
  Barbadoes
  Basseterre
  Bête-rouge
  Birds, Demeraran;
    Brazilian,
  Bitterns
  Blow-pipe, Indian
  Boa-constrictor
  Boclora
  Bois immortel
  Bow, Indian
  Broadway
  Bucaniers
  Buffalo
  Bug,
    encounter with a
  Buonaparte, Prince Charles
  Bush-master
  Bush-rope

  Camoudi snake
  Campanero
  Canadians characterised
  Caprimulgus,
    _see_ Goat-suckers
  Caps,
    a diatribe against
  Cassava
  Cassique
  Castries
  Cayenne
  Cayman;
    expedition in search of;
    fishing for;
    ridden by author
  Chegoe
  Clove-trees
  Cock-of-the-rock
  Constable rock
  Coral snake
  Cotingas
  Couguar
  Coulacanara snake,
    capture of a
  Counacouchi,
    _see_ Bush-master
  Coushie-ant
  Cuia
  Curlew, scarlet
  Custom House difficulties

  Demerara,
    falls of the River
    potentialities of the
    colony
  _Deserted Village_, Goldsmith's,
    quoted
  Dog,
    effect of wourali poison on a;
    probably not native to Guiana
  Dolphin
  Dominica

  Eagle,
    white-headed
  Edmonstone, Charles
  Edmonstone, Robert
  Egret
  Erie Canal;
    Lake
  Essequibo river;
    falls of the;
    scenery
  Europe,
    future American independence of

  Fever,
    treatment of
  Fig-tree,
    wild
  Fire-fly
  Fish, Demeraran
  Fishing, Indian method of,
  Flying-fish,
  Forest-trees, Demeraran;
    destruction of North American,
  Fort St. Joachim,
  Fowl,
    effect of wourali poison on a,
  Frigate pelican,

  Goat-suckers;
    superstitious fear of,
  Grand gobe-mouche,
  Gross-beak,
  Guadalope,
  Guiana,
    future of;
    bird's-eye view of,

  Hannaquoi,
  Hermit,
    a white,
  Hia-hia,
  _History of Brazil_, Southey's,
  Horned screamer,
  Houtou,
  Howling monkey,
    _see_ Monkeys
  Hudson,
    journey up the,
  Hugues, Victor,
  Humming-birds,

  Ibibirou,
  Impostor,
    an Indian,
  Indians;
    mode of life;
    religion,
    _See also_ Macoushi Indians
  India-rubber,
  Inn-album,
    inscription in an,
  Insects, Demeraran,
  Irish emigrants,

  Jabiru,
  Jacamar,
  Jaguar,
  Jay, Guianan,
  Jesuits,
    expulsion of the,

  Kearney, Dennis,
  Kessi-kessi paroquet,
  Kingfishers,
  King of the vultures,

  Labarri snake,
  La Gabrielle,
    national plantation at,
  Land-tortoise,
  Lizards,

  Maam,
    _see_ Tinamou
  Macoushi Indians;
    their methods of hunting;
    trick played by one on the author,
  Manikins,
  Maroudis,
  Martin, M.,
  Martinico,
  Metallic-cuckoo,
  Mibiri Creek,
  Mines in Guiana,
  Monkeys;
    red, or howling;
    a specimen with Grecian features,
  Monteiro,
  Montreal,
  Mora-tree,
  Museum at Philadelphia,

  New Amsterdam,
  New York,
  Niagara,
    Falls of,
  Nobrega, Father,

  Olinda;
    botanic garden at,
  _Ornithology of the United States_,
    Wilson's,
  Otters,
  Owl,
    a crab-eating,
  Ox,
    effect of wourali poison on an,

  Pacou,
  Paramaribo,
  Parasitic plants,
  Parima, Lake,
  Park, Mungo,
  Parrots,
  Partridge,
  Peccari,
  Pelican,
  Percy, Earl,
  Pernambuco;
    environs,
  Petrel,
    stormy,
  Philadelphia,
  Phaeton,
  Pi-pi-yo,
  Pombal,
  Preservation of colours of toucan's bill;
    of quadrupeds;
    of zoological specimens generally;
    of birds,
  Purple-heart,

  Quadrupeds,
    forest,
  Quashi, Daddy,
  Quebec,
  Quiver, Indian,

  Rattlesnake,
  Red-headed finch,
  Red monkey,
     _see_ Monkeys
  Redstart,
  Rhinoceros-beetle,
  Rice-bird,
  Roseau,
  Rubber-tree,

  Saba,
  St. John's,
  St. Lucie,
  St. Pierre,
  Saintes, the,
  Sangre-de-buey,
  Saratoga,
  Savanna, a Demerara,
  Slavery in Demerara;
    in West Indies,
  Slaves,
    encounter with runaway,
  Sloths;
    three-toed, or ai;
    two-toed,
  Smoking,
  Snakes;
    hunting,
  Spice plantations,
  Spikes, poisoned,
  Stabroek,
  Southey, Robert,
  Sun-bird,
  Superstition,
    reflections on,
  Surinam,

  Tangaras,
  Tapir,
  Tarbet, misadventures of Mr.,
  Tauronina,
  Taxidermy,
    _see_ Preservation
  Ticks,
  Ticonderoga,
  Tiger,
     _see_ Jaguar
  Tiger-bird,
    small,
  Tinamou,
  Toucans,
  Travellers,
    advice to,
  Travellers' tales,
  Troupiales,
  Troy,
  Trumpeters,
  Turtle,

  United States,
    progress of the,
  Utica,

  Vampires,
  Vanilla,
  Vultures,

  Wallaba-tree,
  Wasps,
  Water-hens,
  Water-mamma,
  Weapons, Indian,
  Whip-poor-will,
    _see_ Goat-suckers
  Whipsnake,
  Wild boars,
    hunting,
  Wild man of the woods, a,
  Wilson, Alexander,
  Woodpeckers,
  Wound,
    treatment of a,
  Wourali poison;
    its effects;
    ingredients;
    preparation;
    method of using:
    antidotes;
    experiments in England,

  Yabahou,
    the evil spirit,
  Yawaraciri,





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